I first read this when I was 12—already an avid reader of OMNI, the 100% perfect magazine for my adolescent Mysteries of the Unknown pre-X-Files brain—and it changed my world:
The chant-like repetition!
The unheimlich at its core, the disconcerting flesh it shows peeking through the drowsy mundane skin of the midwestern suburbs (where I myself lived)–stumbling across this story was like like bitting into an orange that turns out to be full of blood-moist teeth and a Chinese fortune.
The goddamned art!!!
The second person?!
In many ways it was exactly the sort of story I’d always want to write forever after. “In the Sharing Place” is warped by the enormous gravity of this story–and especially its art–forever looming large just below the horizon of my brain.
(Incidentally, if you wanna read “In the Sharing Place” right now, $3 Patreon Patrons get instant access to the story, audiobook, and 40-minute analog horror film versions.)
And, predictably, it was Ellen Datlow (esteemed editor of the Best Horror of the Year anthologies) who commissioned “Mister Ice Cold” and put it in OMNI—and thus into the hands of a 12-year-old kid outside Detroit who really should have been practicing his Torah portion, not up late reading a slick from the drugstore.
Remember: The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice—provided that we get up every morning and put our weight towards bending that mutherfucker. It ain’t gonna bend on its own.
You may recall this brief news item from 2017, about “adolescent female monkeys in Japan engaging in sexual behaviors with adult deer”:
(Aside: Is anyone else weirded out that the deer always look at the camera? That doesn’t seem like happenstance. Like… is it… is it part of the kink for them? ’cause that makes me sorta feel… like, I don’t want to be made a part of this without my consent. That’s all I’m saying. I do not consent to this.)
Japanese macaques are known to ride deer like humans ride horses, for fun or transportation — behavior the deer seem to tolerate in exchange for grooming and discarded food.
So, just an FYI: Japanese monkeys are in the midst of domesticating deer—you know, for fun, or transportation, or (as we did before them) to increase their travel range and capacity to haul loads. Loads, like, I dunno, the lifeless bodies of the defenseless denizens of Tokyo, after marauding teen-nympho sex monkeys start raiding that once grand metropolis, charging in under cover of night astride their deer consorts, cutting us down, smashing our skulls, and feasting on the goo within!!! IT’S IN REVELATIONS, PEOPLE!!!
Anyway, point being there are are only two ways this story ends, and neither of them is good. Our future is either this:
(first posted back in Dec 2017; lightly revised since. no updates on macaque progress toward world domination)
I can’t swim, so the ocean is baseline scary for me, but man, there’s something about this lonely planet bouncing around out in the middle of a sunless sea that—and the very notion of an entire planet that’s less dense than water—the whole thing gives me the… 🥶💀 yikes!Creep City!
I’m a mixed Jew who’s lived in the American Midwest for his entire life. I think these songs, more than anything else I’ve ever written, are honest about that experience.
(Incidentally, given that this year is one of the few when Xmas and Xanukah overlap, all of these songs are especially appropriate.)
Another Dark Xmastime (FUN FACT: I wrote this during my first year as a fundamentally unemployable stay-at-home dad; my children believe it is an accepted part of the general Xmas Music Canon.)
Dreidel Bells (FUN FACT: The beat here is an original GameBoy running an early German Nanoloop cartridge. Both voices are obviously me, but the filters for the robot voice badly overburdened my old iBook, causing significant lag–which is why Mr. Roboto struggles so badly to hit his marks.)
DreidelDreidelDreidel (FUN FACT: The beat here is a vintage analog Boss DR-55 once owned by POE, crammed through a heavy-metal distortion stompbox.)
I first came across this image 20 (!!!) years ago in a Something Awful “Photoshop Phriday” thread (it’s evidently a riff on Who is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate and illustrator Ashley Wolff). It’s served as my shorthand for what it feels like being a Jew in America ever since.
(Brought to mind by this—which happened at my parent’s synagogue last week; that’s only about 40 minutes from where I live with my wife and kids today—but it really could have been basically anything from the last two weeks, right?)