Emotionally Scarring Children to Help them Cope with Things that Never Happened #HappyHalloween!!! 🎃👻🍬

The images below are taken from Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy: A Child’s Book About Satanic Ritual Abuse.  This is a real book that was earnestly written and actually published, then presumably read to actual children (who, one presumes, were duly traumatized) in order to help them cope with having not endured fake things that never happened to anyone (see also “Satanic Panic”and D&D as thrill-kill gateway drug—and recall, these were current events, reported in the newspaper, recounted in measured tones on the evening news, endlessly explored on the afternoon talk shows I watched while my folks were at work. I was a fat, gullible, ill-monitored Jewish pre-teen at the time. These cases enthralled and terrified me.) "Don't Make Me Go Back, Mommy: A Child's Book about Satanic Ritual Abuse" halloween

The craziest thing about all this, to me, is that the author and publisher really did have their hearts in the right place, I think.  In contrast to most materials surrounding the issue of Satanic Ritual Abuse, this wasn’t an attempt to bait the hook of Fundamentalist Christian propaganda or Normative White bigotry with raw meat ripped from the tabloid headlines. 

"Don't Make Me Go Back, Mommy: A Child's Book about Satanic Ritual Abuse" ritual

"Don't Make Me Go Back, Mommy: A Child's Book about Satanic Ritual Abuse" cover This book comes from the “Hurts of Childhood” series, which honestly and directly tries to address real burdens that many children really face: parental alcohol abuse, sexual assault, traumatic family situations, and so on.  Yes, every single title in this series is just as maladroitly handled—but, jeez, at least they were trying.

"Don't Make Me Go Back, Mommy: A Child's Book about Satanic Ritual Abuse" bath "Don't Make Me Go Back, Mommy: A Child's Book about Satanic Ritual Abuse" doctor 2 "Don't Make Me Go Back, Mommy: A Child's Book about Satanic Ritual Abuse" doctor 1

Let me stress: This stuff looks silly and ghoulish and comically naive now, but we actually believed these things were happening back in the 1980s. Real people really went to prison—and stayed there for years—having been accused of heinous abominations and convicted of committing a type of crime that hasn’t ever happened:

The survey included 6,910 psychiatrists, psychologists and clinical social workers, and 4,655 district attorneys, police departments and social service agencies. They reported 12,264 accusations of ritual abuse that they had investigated.

The survey found that there was not a single case where there was clear corroborating evidence for the most common accusation, that there was “a well-organized intergenerational satanic cult, who sexually molested and tortured children in their homes or schools for years and committed a series of murders,” Dr. Goodman said.

Many psychotherapists who have been vocal about a supposed epidemic of sexual abuse by well-organized satanic rings have grown more cautious of late. “There’s clearly been a contagion, a contamination of what people say in therapy because of what they see on TV or read about satanic ritual abuse,” said Dr. Bennet Braun, a psychiatrist who heads the Dissociative Disorders Unit at Rush-North Shore Medical Center in Chicago.

So, anyway, that was life in the 1980s. It was legitimately fake news that led to literal witch hunts and actually completely destroyed people’s lives.

(image sources  here and here)

TREAT TIME! 🎃👻⚰️🍬 Free audiobook: “The Slender Men” by David Erik Nelson

Been casting around for a short-n-sweet Halloween read? The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine has just released their audiobook of my story “The Slender Men”—free download awaits!

Episode 209: The Slender Men by David Erik Nelson – The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine

slenderman(here’s a direct download of the MP3, if you prefer)

Rish Outfield—who produced this audio—was also the voice actor for the last story I sold to PseudoPod, “Whatever Comes After Calcutta.”  I love what Rish does for horror stories; it’s just so spot on.  This is basically as close as you can expect to get to what I hear in my head when I revisit “The Slender Men.”

This short film isn’t really all that disturbing…

…unless you’ve ever had or been a child or parent.  In that case, whoadamn!!!

This is from Ari Aster, the writer/director of Hereditary and Midsommar—the latter of which I loved, although plausibly for different reasons than most.  To me, it wasn’t a revenge film at all.  There’s a crop of female-lead horror films surfacing (A Dark Song is another that leaps to mind) that are tremendous explorations of how one processes trauma.  Midsommar is mos def one of these, in my humble—and, in a deeply morally ambiguous way, sort of an optimistic film, when all is said and done.  Highly Recommended.

If you want to understand the last three years in American politics, read Stephen King’s 1985 novella “The Mist”

This is, by no means, any sort of endorsement of any of the film/TV/radio-drama adaptations of this work—all of which either entirely miss what gives this story its lasting power, or convert a fundamentally profound work about kitchen-table American politics (i.e., the only kind that actually matters) to a moderately stupid and lazily nihilistic creature features.

Read the novella (which is also the first story in Skeleton Crew—a whole book of classic King shorts that costs just a couple buck more than the standalone novella—and is bootlegged here).  Ignore the monsters and the titular mist; watch the people.  And never lose sight of the final word in the story.

  

Listen to (or Read) My Story “Whatever Comes After Calcutta” on @PseudoPod

The Pseudopod team always does great work, but I’m especially thrilled with what the reader—Rish Outfield—has done here; the story has lots of voices, and he captures them all.  Such a treat. (For those less inclined to audio drama and more to old-fashioned reading, they have the full text of the story posted, too.)

PseudoPod 649: “Whatever Comes After Calcutta

And here’s a YouTube video of the audio, if that’s your jam:

Enjoy!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING: “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!” #gobblegobblegobble

(Yeah, I repost this every year, because I love this gag, and because watching this on TV—and rehashing it with my mom and sisters each year—is one of my fondest childhood holiday memories.)

THANKSGIVING TURKEY GIVEAWAY! (WKRP in Cincinnati) from Tony DeSanto on Vimeo.

This is, in my humble, a damn-near perfect gag—which is saying something, because I find single-camera laugh-track situation comedies almost entirely unbearable to watch.

I hope your day is good and sweet.  Gobblegobble!

(If you wanna read more of my thoughts on this specific gag and what it can teach writers, you can do so here.)

Upcoming Events: Horror Reading and Good Noise Making Next Weekend!

Just a quick heads-up for folks in Michigan: I have two events next weekend! Please spread the word, cuckoo bird!

 

1. Horror Reading!

I’ll be reading from my book There Was a Crooked Man, He Flipped a Crooked House at the Grey Wolfe Scriptorium bookshop in Clawson, MI on October 27. Details:

I’ll level with you: This is going to be a hoot. It’s a good book, it reads well, and I’m moderately hilarious.  I’ll bring snackies of some sort.

Nonetheless, I’m totally dubious about my capacity to draw an audience.  Therefore, I’m running two contests(!!!) associated with this event:

  1. CONTEST: If you are the one and only person who shows up you get a free book, a personal reading, and a free drink at the nearest bar!
  2. BONUS CONTEST: If the number of attendees exceeds the number of fingers I have (total), I will additionally read from the novel of y’all’s choosing. No reasonable request refused!

 

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2. Good Noise in the Loud Lab!

On October 28 I’ll be the featured artist in the Sonic Workshop at the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum from noon until 4pm . I’ll be running my “Loud Lab,” which includes a special installation of the Slinky Sound Forest, weird homebrew instruments and freak-out noisetoys you can rock out on, and an opportunity to craft your own weird noise-music-thingies under my dubious tutelage.  Details:

Hope to see you next weekend!

dave
Dave-o showing of his “non-violins