Saturday, June 18, 2011

WIP: Opening paragraph of "Drawings of Patient O.T.", 1st draft

“Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places.” So begins “The Picture in the House,” a short story written by H.P. Lovecraft on Dec. 12, 1920. It’s a statement that has resonated with me ever since I first stumbled across it while flipping through the 1985 corrected sixth printing of Arkham House’s The Dunwich Horrors and Others, a book I found on my father’s bookcase when I was a child, a book with a green dust jacket and an Raymond Bayless illustration of Cthulhu emerging from his sunken tomb at R’lyeh. I can think of many people that Lovecraft’s statement could be applied to, people I’ve known in my own life in fact. Years ago, when I was attending high school at the city of Los Diablos, I knew a boy who was utterly obsessed with some old and abandoned chemical factory, an obsession which eventually led to madness and suicide. And after I graduated college and moved back to my hometown, which is the city of Thundermist in northern Rhode Island, I made friends with a gay man my own age who, like my friend from high school, was also haunted by a building, which in this case was an old church called St. Durtal’s. Even I have found myself drawn like a moth to a strange building: Kafka’s Clinic, an old abandoned mental hospital. It was there that I first came across the drawings of Patient O.T.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

From the Vault: Snapshots From my Youth Pt. 1 (1980-1991)

This is a very young picture of me... I'm probably about a year old or thereabouts here. It kind of amazes me how happy I was during my childhood, and how often I'm smiling in many of these pictures. But then again, my childhood was happy, so what did I have to be depressed about?

I think I'm around two years old here. There's probably more body fat on my face in this picture than I have on my entire body today.

On the beach in 1982.

Holding my beloved Star Wars Rancor toy. Years later, when I was studying ventriloquism during my high school years, I would employ this same Rancor as a sort of ventriloquist's dummy, as it had a movable mouth.

Opening presents on Christmas of 1984. Kermit the Frog was one of my childhood heroes. Though my favorite Muppet was Uncle Deadly, the Phantom of the Muppet Show. My very favorite episode of the Muppet Show was probably the Star Wars episode, followed by the show where Vincent Price guest starred.

My mother reading to me on Christmas of 1984.

Along with Rocky Point Amusement Park, Kings Castle Land (in Whitman, Massachusetts) was my other favorite amusement park, even though I think I only went there twice. I read somewhere once that the place closed down in 1993. Here I pose on top of a fallen giant.

Another picture of me at Kings Castle Land, posing next to a big frog. I seem to recall this amusement park also had two giant dragons that belched flames.

Stuff I received for my sixth birthday in June 1986. I can spot some Star Wars toys (including Jabba the Hutt and the Wampa snow monster), Gumby and Pokey toys, and the Madballs toy known as Oculus Orbus, which probably sparked my fascination with eyeballs.

Christmas 1986. On the television set is a manger, that my parents still set up every year during the holiday season. On the bookshelf behind me I can read a few of the titles my mother owned: The Exorcist, The Bell Jar, Carrie, and, uh, Dallas.

Graduating from kindergarten in 1986, posing with a nun, who I think was one of my teachers, though I forget her name. Was it she who taught me about death? For kindergarten my parents sent me to a Catholic school, but it was kind of expensive so the following year they enrolled me at Bernon Heights elementary school, a public school.

Me posing next to a large shark poster at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, sometime in the early-to-mid 1980's. As a child, I was obsessed with sharks, and owned many shark t-shirts and stuffed animals. My favorite stuffed animal was a shark hand puppet that I named "Shark Puppet." In this picture it looks like I'm about to start busting out some rap dance moves.

Smiling for the camera in June, 1987.

My 7th birthday party, on June 17th, 1987. Here I pose behind my cake, the infamous Stay Puft Marshmallow Man cake. The theme that year was Ghostbusters, which was one of my favorite films. Other films I enjoyed in my youth wereThe Dark Crystal, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Godzilla, and the Star Wars trilogy.

Opening presents at my 7th birthday party. In this picture, I'm unwrapping the Ghostbusters computer game for the Commodore 64, while my father and two of my brothers look on.

Posing with some of my birthday swag. For some reason I'm holding my two favorite stuffed animals in this picture, even though I had gotten them in a previous year.

More posing.

A close-up of the famous Stay Puft Marshmallow Man cake.

When I was a child, Halloween was, after Christmas, my favorite holiday. I just loved dressing up. My mother's a quilter, and she would often hand make costumes for my brothers and I. The above picture, taken on Halloween in 1987, showcases my favorite costume she made for me, that of a shark. It won second place in the school costume contest that day.

A side view of the shark costume.

Posing with my three younger brothers on Halloween. That year we apparently all dressed up as our favorite animals at that time.

June 17th, 1988: my eight birthday party. The theme that year was Pillsbury Doughboy, oddly enough.

Another picture from Mystic Aquarium, this one taken in 1988. This time I'm posing next to an actual shark, who doesn't look entirely pleased. As usual I'm holding my two favorite stuffed animals, Shark Puppet and Sammy.

October 1988. I'm in the backyard of our old house (my family and I moved into a new one the following year), showing off a praying mantis that had crawled onto my t-shirt. Aside from my obsession with sharks, I also had a huge interest in bugs and insect life in general, with the exception of bees.

This is me receiving First Communion on May 14, 1989, at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church (where I also had my Confirmation, in 1996). The priest in this picture was the church's pastor at that time, Father Bill. I think this is one of the only times in my life where I've ever worn a suit. Below is a certificate I got marking the occasion:

This picture was taken in December 1990, when I was in the fifth grade. During my grade school years, I acted in two plays. One of them was entitled The Giggling Goblin, where I played a supporting character named "Dr. Dracula." The second one was Old King Cole, where I played the lead (and titular) character. In this photo I'm seated in the center, clad in a black cape and wearing a crown that was probably made from construction paper. The only thing I can recall from the experience was a realization that I had no interest in pursuing acting.

This was taken in June of 1991. That's me holding my pet lizard, Spiky, who I ended up immortalizing in a short story I wrote for school the following year (a story I posted on this blog not too long ago:

Christmas 1991, holding up my notorious Steve Urkel t-shirt, which I actually wore in public. That might explain why I got picked on in school. I actually dressed as Steve Urkel for Halloween of that same year, but out of respect for the sanity of all right-thinking readers of this blog I won't post that picture.

To be continued...