Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012

The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out


The books in the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series were an enormous part of my childhood. When we got a new copy of one into the class library at my elementary school, I was always the first kid to snag it. I would read and reread the stories until my time was up and it was the next kid's turn to be scared out of their mind. My friends and I would read the stories aloud at all of our sleepovers and made up our own inspired by the ones in the books. 

The stories themselves are pretty creepy, even today. Alvin Schwartz compiled a great many unnerving yarns from folklore and urban legends and retells them in a very straightforward unflinching way. Some stories seem to be left partially unfinished, making them even more likely to stick with you and wake you up in the middle of the night. The story "Harold" was the complete worst in the entire series. Thinking about it still scares me. I bet if you asked anyone today, that read these books as a child, who Harold was - they would remember. 

But the stories were not the reason these books were so popular. These books were so legendary because of the illustrations inside by Stephen Gammell. Gammell's drawings are truly chilling and actually deeply disturbing.They are also amazing and even beautiful in a grotesque sort of way. I, and everyone else I've ever talked to about these books, always considered the drawings to be the best, and absolute worst, part of the series. I remember seeing, through the page I was reading, the dark shape of a drawing after the next page turn. Being terrified to turn to it, I would catch my breath - preparing myself for what lay ahead. I would stare at the drawings, repulsed and fascinated and unable to look away. These drawings blew my little child mind and still influence my aesthetic sensibility. I was thinking of Gammell while working on my banner up top.

"The Haunted House" - Stephen Gammell


"Bess", "The Dead Man's Hand" - Stephen Gammell

"Aaron Kelly's Bones" - Stephen Gammel

Gammell's drawings were the reason all of my classmates wanted to read these books! They were probably also the main reason the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series have been some of the most challenged childrens' books on library shelves. So... guess what dear readers - with the book's 30th anniversary, Harper Collins decided to re-release the series, with Entirely. New. Illustrations. And - even worse, the old versions, with Gammell's drawings, are now out of print.

Baby Goth W weeps.
P.S. Check out that shirt. Chambray button up with black velvet collar? Have mercy.

Dedication page - Stephen Gammell

Here's a great article comparing the new drawings with the originals.

"What Do You Come For?" - Stephen Gammell

"The Wolf Girl" - Stephen Gammell

"The Dream" - Stephen Gammell

When I heard the terrible news, I immediately ordered the box set including all three books with Gammell's artwork. This set, the 25th anniversary edition, has pretty cool holographic covers. They're fun but I do miss the freaky black and white covers of the first editions a bit. They were a much clearer warning of the horrors awaiting inside the pages.


It's so sad to think of all of the children of the future that won't get the chance to pee in their pants from fright because of these drawings. Poor kids.

"The Girl Who Stood on a Grave" - Stephen Gammell

You can still find the out-of-print versions at Amazon. Make sure it's specified that Gammell is the illustrator. I think it's also safe to say that every thrift store in America has at least one copy of an original book on its shelves at all times. Don't let your future bloodthirsty grandchildren miss out on these nightmares! They won't sleep for weeks!

"Oh, Susannah!" - Stephen Gammell

"You May Be the Next..."


Friday, January 20, 2012

Snow Day

cold10 cold9

Last weekend we saw the first snowfall of the season. The snowflakes looked so fluffy, I had to run outside to play in them.  


I love the first sight of snow. I love watching it drift slowly to the ground to gather into a light blanket. I love catching the flakes on my tongue and feeling them melt on my skin and in my hair. I love seeing it stick to Popcorn's fur and muzzle and watching him try to shake it away.



I am always surprised by the snow here. Even more so when it sticks. I prefer when it doesn't. Snowfall without a lasting snow cover is really ideal in this city. It is just the dream or idea of snow, the romantic version without the trouble.


This week, we've had more snow than we were prepared for, probably the most I've seen here since we moved. This city is not accustomed to snow. Collected snow here is not beautiful or peaceful. It mostly just causes mess and worry. City snow gets dirty so quickly. It turns to ice and muddy grey slush. It will probably all be gone soon. The snow began to melt away today.

Alaska in snow. Photo taken by my best friend, Malia

Alaskan snow was different. I miss a lot things about the winters in Alaska. I miss the feet upon feet of snow that would fall without disrupting our lives. I miss walking across it, high above the ground underneath, hearing the crisp crust crunch under my boots. I miss the quiet that came with it. I miss standing in the snow under a sky full of stars, watching the Aurora Borealis or howling with the coyote that lived on top of the mountain across the street. I miss driving through the thick falling snow, the car's headlights illuminating a snowflake tunnel ahead. I miss sledding through a deep soft snow cover. I miss how bright and clean it made the entire world.

Photo by Malia

I do not miss near frost-bitten cheeks, frozen runny noses, raw skin scraped by sharp icy snow cover, cold soaked jeans all the way up your thighs, stiff fingers, and biting wind full of sleet and hail. I do not miss being cold all of the time.

My small hometown was hit with a record snowfall this year. Upwards of 20 feet of wet heavy snow, collapsing houses and threatening avalanches. The National Guard was called in to bring heavy machinery to help with the removal, a daunting feat considering the town is not accessible by road, only boat or plane. Thankfully, the worst seems to have passed with no one hurt.

Photo by Malia

This is my parents' two story house, overwhelmed by snow. They lost a few windows. 

Photo by Malia

I watched a little girl sled down a hill with her Papillon yesterday. Seeing the children in my neighborhood enjoy the snow during its fleeting stay, made me think someday I might like to live in a place with a real winter again. Maybe somewhere in between Alaskan snow and the snow here.



Sunday, January 15, 2012



I am 26 years old and recently married. I live in the Emerald City with my new husband and our cat, Galatea, my two rats, Lenore and Annabel Lee, and our son, a pug named Popcorn. I make things. I want to make things for a career someday soon. I would like to be creative every day.

Right now, I work part-time at a dog daycare, and yes, it is pretty much as fun of a job as you are thinking it is. Unless you don't like dogs, then you are probably thinking it sounds like no fun at all.


I am a Feminist. I like scary movies and creepy stories. I like things that make me nervous. I love to read. I like surrealist fiction and magical realism. I grew up in a very small, remote fishing village in Alaska. It was mostly really boring but also weird generally all of the time. I developed a pretty bizarre imagination.

I have always been mostly strange. I like dramatic clothing. I love color but prefer to wear black. I have tattoos and want to get more. I still pretend sometimes. I love to be surprised. I am always keen to find real magical moments.

I feel happy, at least a little, every day. I feel very fortunate. I am pretty excited about being alive. I love my life as it is right now and feel more ready and more inspired than ever to make my dreams real.

Be seeing you.



Sunday, January 8, 2012