Here's another oddball #31DaysOfHorror entry-- oddball in that you can't replicate it at home.
Closing night of the recent MondoCon convention featured a live re-score of "Pieces," which is a pretty atrocious early 1980s slasher movie. The live re-score was performed by Umberto, who (alongside Antonio Maiovvi) performed the live re-score of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre that was a personal highlight for me at last year's con.
This screening / live re-score was a bit of a different animal.
I was talking to Jay, who designed the poster for the live re-score event (which I won't post here because holy not safe for work, Batman), about the movie. I was telling him that I had never seen it. Here's a deeply edited version of that conversation. This is a pretty concise explanation of the problems with this movie:
Jay: The concept for the film is totally great, but it’s cheap and too mean for me.
Keef: Ah, too mean is a heartbreaker. I have a hard time with horror movies that are legit mean. Like, Last House on the Left style mean.
Jay: Well, it’s not quite that cruel... but it’s still, I dunno. I watch Profondo Rosso or Four Flies On Grey Velvet and I feel like I’m getting wrapped up in a horror mystery. I watch Pieces, or New Year’s Evil, or Happy Birthday to Me, and I feel like I’m supposed to be jerking off to murder porn. Same level of violence, different vibe... [Think of this screening as] a great concert with super violent dumb images playing behind it.
That's how I tried to approach the screening. I know how incredible Umberto's music can be. He does a deep, driving synth rhythm running in tandem with Carpenter-esque instrumental bits. And believe me, he didn't disappoint. I had a great time. I'm sure at least part of that was the nature of the event-- unlike Texas Chainsaw last year, this year they wiped the film soundtrack out completely, meaning that there was zero audible dialogue. In that context, it seemed like a silent movie. Because I kept thinking about it like a silent movie, and the dialogue was unavailable, the overacting became acceptable, and almost necessary.
It was still more problematic than last year's live-score screening.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a masterpiece. It's indisputably one of the greatest horror movies of all time. Tobe Hooper managed to wrangle together a bunch of disparate elements and come up with an atmospheric, weird, deeply terrifying film. There are moments of humor-- the hitch-hiker, Franklin's constant whining and complaining-- but these seem to be intentional. Hooper clearly has a respect for his characters and their situations, horrible as they may be. The actors, while amateurs, manage to give good performances (undoubtedly enhanced by good editing).
Pieces, on the other hand, is a giant steaming piece of schlocky trash. It's a smorgasbord of boobs, dingdongs, and gore, with no respect for its characters. It was pretty clearly put together in a hurry. None of the actors are worth a damn. The dialogue is terrible. It doesn't even really have any internal consistency, and there's a tacked-on surprise ending that's so absurd I can't even begin to dissect it.
All of those qualities alone aren't a dealbreaker for me. I have a lot of love for a some "so bad it's good" movies. As long as they have a sense of fun running throughout, I'm all in. If I can infer from your art that you're having fun, it makes it a hell of a lot easier for me to enjoy the thing.* The problem with Pieces is that it seems pretty joyless for a lot of its running time.
There are moments of goofy hilarity, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this movie has a lot of moments that earned some laughs. A martial arts demonstration comes out of nowhere. A "tennis pro" is so terrible at tennis that she nearly misses the ball on her serve half the time. The killer gets onto a tiny elevator with a woman, and then slowly pulls the chainsaw out from where he'd been holding it hidden behind his back.
The problem is that right after these moments, the movie gets right back into the humorless pornographic murder.
At one point, a woman is being menaced by a chainsaw, and the camera slowly pans in to her crotch, so the director can better show us a (far too long and lingering) shot of her losing control of her bladder. Ugh. Yuck. In another scene, a tennis player is being stalked by the killer, who slowly and methodically chases her through a locker room right after she's taken a shower, and then saws her to bits.
On the surface, it's hard to explain what exactly makes this so drastically different in tone and feel from something like Slumber Party Massacre 2, another 80s slasher flick. The plots (as with most slashers) are similar-- an insane man chases a bunch of scantily-clad women through the movie and murders most (or all) of them. In Pieces, the weapon of choice is a chainsaw; in Slumber Party Massacre 2 (hereafter shortened, because I don't want to type that out every time), it's a custom electric guitar with an enormous drill on the end of it. I'm not about to watch these movies again with a stopwatch, but I wouldn't be surprised if SLM2 had a longer run-time for both gratuitous nudity and murders. And yet, SLM2 is a movie that I adore.
That's partially due to pedigree-- it follows Slumber Party Massacre, which was written by Rita Mae Brown, and therefore dodges some of the most anti-feminist sentiment of a fair amount of slasher movies-- but not wholly. There are protracted musical numbers, which add levity, but it would be nearly as good without them. There's a campy attitude, and ridiculous 80s makeup and hair, and the whole thing is just goofy as hell. Watching it, you really get the impression that they wanted to have fun with the whole thing. But that's not the dividing factor-- there are other "serious" horror movies, with no sense of humor or campiness, and those can be great.
I think it must just boil down to intent. I have no problem with a horror movie committing gruesome murder. Gruesome murder can make for the most effective horror. But I need either sympathy with the victims, or righteous comeuppance (as when the murderer dies in the end). In Pieces, as Jay neatly stated earlier, there doesn't seem to be either sympathy for the victims or righteous hostility for a bad guy-- instead, it seems to be taking sadistic joy in the pain and murder. Which isn't okay, unless it's mitigated or dampened or lessened, by fun, or quality storytelling, or campiness, or something.
Anyway. I didn't mean for this to become a weird exegesis of 80s slashers, and I know that this particular debate is well-worn territory. This tangent was mostly for my own edification, both to defend and justify my fondness for some examples of the genre, while admitting that some of them can be... well... less than savory.
*NB: This is different from "liking things ironically," which I don't believe in as a concept. You either like a thing or you don't. You can like a thing and still recognize that it's flawed, or ridiculous, or amateurish. You can't find a thing meritless and then claim to like it ironically. If it's meritless, you can't like it by definition. If you like something, dude, just admit that you like it.
So, this is a bit of a departure, but I'm gonna go ahead and count this as a "horror movie," so here you go.
Last Friday night, I went and saw the Italian composer Fabio Frizzi perform a selection of music from his forty-year career scoring horror movies. It was the opening night of MondoCon, and it was incredible. He was a frequent collaborator with the director Lucio Fulci, whose work I love. They collaborated on some of the best: Zombie, The Gates of Hell, The Beyond, Manhattan Baby, A Cat in the Brain, and many others.
Hell, even if you don't love weirdo Italian horror movies, I'm sure you've heard his work-- Quentin Tarantino is a huge fan, and used one of his songs in "Kill Bill Vol. 1," the title song from Fulci's "Seven Notes in Black." If you'd like to refresh your memory, it's on YouTube. It's great.
The concert was a real experience. I'm a huge fan of both Fulci and Frizzi, so I went ahead and got the super-fancy tickets, which came with a small lathe-cut 7" specifically created for this concert (and with a run of only 50 copies), and came with a meet-and-greet with the man himself. I shook his hand and thanked him, and he signed my copies of his albums on LP. I also literally sat in the front row.
The show was in the Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Austin. The fancy-shmancy tickets also came with early access, allowing people to show up three hours before the show and watch the sound check. When I walked through the doors, the band was all set up on the stage, and light was streaming through the stained-glass windows. Watching them run through snippets to make sure the acoustics of the church sounded as good as they possibly could was amazing.
The show itself was amazing. His backing band was on point-- aside from Frizzi himself, I was blown away by two people in particular: the bassist, Roberto Fasciani, who could range from laying down the funkiest of 70s lines all the way to trilling solos; and multi-instrumentalist Alessio Maestrale Contorni, who was on the keyboards all night, but kept picking up other instruments and just shredding on them, including a straight-up mindblowing jazz flute solo. My shout-outs to those two in particular should in no way diminish everyone else in the band, who were all absolutely incredible.
The show was paired with snippets of movies projected onto the screen behind the band, allowing their live playing to sync up with the action that the music originally accompanied. It was amazing to see the band shred through the classics, and great to see a "greatest hits" of Fulci's horror (the zombie vs. shark scene from Zombie; the splinter in the eye from same; "Seven Notes in Black," of course.
At the end, Frizzi called out, "There's one thing we did not do. Do you know what it is?"
In unison, the crowd shouted out "The Beyond!"
Frizzi laughed-- perhaps he'd been expecting the Italian title, "L'Aldila--" and said "Yes, yes, The Beyond."
Then they straight-up shredded out the score from The Beyond. Deeply satisfying.
I was delighted to experience this, especially as opening night of MondoCon. I'm so appreciative of Mondo, Death Waltz, and Frizzi himself for putting this together.
The second in this year's #31DaysOfHorror is a tight little haunted house flick called "We Are Still Here." Clocks in at less than 90 minutes, chock full of spooky stuff, beautiful ambiance, and gore, and without any of those pesky existential questions that plagued the previous entry.
I really dug this movie. It's set in what's supposed to be a fairly bleak midwestern winter landscape.
These are pretty long shots. I love, love, love that this movie takes its time and still manages to have such a tidy clock-in time. These shots are beautiful, too-- all swirling snow, overcast skies, rural pastoral landscapes.
I believe we're supposed to take a sense of loneliness, and isolation, and sort of creeping dread from all of these.
The only problem here is that I really like snowy midwestern scenes. I miss the midwest. I miss snow. This screams comfort and nostalgia to me.
That's why I'm front-loading this with so many stills. This shit is beautiful.
Anyway, the movie is about a couple who move to a house in the rural midwest only to discover that all is not as it seems. This is something that might actually be harmed by spoilers, so you might want to stop here, if you don't want to get a general gist of the movie and see some animated gifs of exploding heads and the like.
The thing that I love about this movie is that it never seems rushed or hurried. There aren't very many jumpcuts, very few jump-scares. The camera's not afraid to linger. This movie takes more than a few of its cues from the Italian horror flicks of the 70s, which I personally love. The director is clearly infatuated with Lucio Fulci (as am I; tomorrow's (Or Monday's) entry will talk a bit more about that).
Man, I love these gorgeous winter scenes!
Even if this movie didn't have the fantastic Barbara Crampton in it, and even if it didn't have all the gore and comeuppance and satisfying violence, I would watch it for this stuff.
Also, I'm rambling. You can't expect me to be cohesive. Yesterday I wrote so goddamn much about that other movie.
[sizzling] / [gurgling] has replaced [revving intensifies] as my favorite subtitle of all time.
Now here's my favorite shot from this movie.
Well, it's that time again-- October. So it's time to attempt another 31 Days of Horror. 31 days! 31 horror movies! One viewer! ONE SURVIVOR!
Here are my basic rules this year: I'd like to maintain a ratio of at least ten percent or less of movies that I've already seen (so, three); I'd like to run the gamut from bizarro intellectual art-house horror, to spooky eerie ghosties, to supernatural jump-scares, to straight-up slasher goretown Video Nasty; I'd like to post about it at least three times a week (so at least ten times in October); and I'd like to watch at least 31 movies.
I'm sure that I'll bungle at least one of those. Okay, let's get into it!
Last year, I had such a mind-blowing experience with Bergman's Hour of the Wolf that I figured I'd start this year off with another Bergman film. Hour of the Wolf is generally considered to be his only true horror movie, but I dug around, and found another one that's been labeled "modernist horror" (also "psychological drama," "experimental," et cetera). So I figured what the heck. This is Ingmar Bergman's Persona.
After I watched this, I got hella baffled, and I dug around on the internet and read a lot of academic criticism, and a lot of bloggers' takes on what this movie means and what actually happens and how to interpret it and basically found that I disagreed with everybody. I'm kind of loath to get into it here, especially because my views on interpretation of this particular movie tend toward the experiential, but I reckon that's what a goddamn blog is for. Right?
There are some spoilers ahead. The movie's fifty years old. Nothing I am going to say is going to make it less enjoyable (and intriguing) for you to watch the movie; besides that, you'll probably disagree with me anyway. I hope you do. I hope you post about it in the comments.
I don't know if I'd call this "modernist horror," as many have. It's definitely existentialist horror, with more than a handful of postmodernist bits.
Before I get into the meat of the movie proper, it seems necessary to discuss the opening credits. A white screen, screeching violins. Flashing, almost strobe-like lights. Footage of cameras and projectors. A jarring pastiche of filmstrip count-downs and strange footage culled from disparate and odd sources. Footage of brick walls. An old-timey cartoon (upside-down). An erect dingdong. A skeleton chasing a man. A nail being hammered into a palm. A snowdrift. A lamb being slaughtered. Then: bodies lying peacefully on autopsy tables. A boy wakes up on a similar table. He's reading Mikhail Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time. He slowly turns to the camera and raises a hand. The shot switches to shooting from behing him, over his shoulder, as he runs his hand over a window, behind which is the blurry, larger-than-life face of a woman.
It's a bit hard to encapsulate what the movie's about, so here's what the first ten minutes of the movie (after those credits) contain:
An actress, Elisabet Vogler, has had some sort of existential panic attack on stage, and has now gone mute. There's nothing physically wrong with her, but she won't move or speak. She's hospitalized. While in the hospital, she's placed under the care of a nurse, Alma. The head of hospital spouts a lot of (almost certainly mostly incorrect) existential theories about Elisabet's mental state, the reason for her muteness and withdrawing:
The hopeless dream of being... The feeling of vertigo and the constant hunger to be unmasked once and for all. To be seen through, cut down... perhaps even annihilated. Every tone of voice a lie, every gesture a falsehood, every smile a grimace... Your hiding place isn’t watertight enough. Life oozes in from all sides... No one asks whether it is genuine or not, whether you’re lying or telling the truth. Questions like that only matter in the theatre, and hardly even there... you’ve turned this apathy into a fantastic setup... I think you should play this part until it’s played out, until it’s no longer interesting. Then you can drop it, just as you eventually drop all your other roles.
Some of the criticisms of this movie have zeroed in on this as being a true, whole, and accurate reflection of Elisabet's mental state. I immediately thought that much of it was dismissive horseshit. It's the way a person who has never suffered clinical depression describes what they imagine clinical depression to be. It implies a choice. It's existential angst through cynical opera glasses.
Anyway, after this little speech, the doctor decides that the best place for Elisabet to make a recovery is at the doctor's summer home, and she sends Elisabet and Alma out into seclusion for recovery.
In contrast with the doctor's assessment, it's clear that Elisabet is actually suffering. Twice during the course of the movie, she encounters real-life, external, third-party horrors. Once, in the hospital, she turns on the television and watches the self-immolation of a Buddhist monk during the Vietnam war, and it affects her profoundly. Later, at the summer home, she finds a photograph of Jews being cleared out of the Warsaw Ghettos, and reacts in much the same way: with horror, and sadness, and guilt (not out of any complicity, but merely due to the fact of survival, her more comfortable and privileged existence; both the possibility for her to experience joy in her part of a cruel world, and her inability to experience joy regardless of her privilege).
At one point, Alma asks to read aloud a passage from her book:
Elisabet? Can I read you something from my book? Or am I disturbing you? It says here: "All the anxiety we bear with us, all our thwarted dreams, the incomprehensible cruelty, our fear of extinction, the painful insight into our earthly condition, have slowly eroded our hope of an other-wordly salvation. The howl of our faith and doubt against the darkness and silence is one of the most awful proofs of our abandonment and our terrified, unuttered knowledge." Do you think it's like that?
Elisabet smiles sadly and nods.
What this movie is really about is self-awareness. Not just in the sense of being aware of one's surroundings and general state, but being aware of one's actions and how they are perceived by others. Being aware of one's actions as a performance, whether intended as such or not, being put on for others. You go to work, you stand around the water cooler, you talk about television. This is a performance. You come home, you wash the dishes, you watch television. This is a performance.
If you're lucky, it's an unthinking performance. If you're lucky, you live in the moment, like Alma. Like meditators try to do. Like many of us try to do.
If you're unlucky, you're constantly analyzing your actions and their effect on others. If you're aware enough to scrutinize your movements, language, and place in the universe, in an existential way and on a rolling basis, then you almost certainly exist in a constant state of anxiety, guilt, deep-seated existential fear; then a secondary layer of self-criticism and shame, for being so narcissistic and self-centered in a world that is so horrible to so many living beings (not least of which being other mistreated humans); then, a third layer of self-criticism and shame, for things you've actually done which are shitty and which have hurt other people.
Life grinds on at the summer house. Elisabet still doesn't talk. Alma makes some brazen confessions about her wrongdoings one night when they've both been drinking. The two begin to connect on a more personal level. Elisabet writes a letter to the doctor, Alma drives it into town with her mail. On the way, she notices that it's unsealed, and she reads it. It makes reference to her confession in a lighthearted and jokey way, and talks about her as being a good "study subject."
This letter should be read in two ways. One, on the surface level, there's probably some truth to the fact that Elisabet enjoyed Alma's company (and confessions) on a purely spectacular level, meaning that she enjoyed watching her and viewing her dispassionately. However, it's clear that she's actually come to care for Alma, and may just be crafting this letter to the doctor to show some progress has been made in terms of her being able to "study" people with an eye towards using that in her (eventual) recovery and return to the stage.
Alma takes it badly.
At this point, I'd nearly forgotten that this was called a horror movie at all. The first five minutes-- the opening credits-- was pretty creepy, that imagery and that music. But then it just got kind of sad and dark. Until now.
Alma accidentally drops a glass, which breaks. She intentionally leaves a shard on the ground. Elisabet steps on it and immediately realizes what has happened, and that it was intentional. She makes eye contact with Alma, and then the entire film goes nuts.
The screeching violins come back in. Flashes of images from the opening credits recur.
I was watching this late at night, and I got goosebumps and horripilation like crazy. Fucking horrifying.
The two women scuffle. Their personalities become blurred. Events occur which may or may not be real. One may be mistaken for the other, and may fall into the role.
At the climax of the movie, Alma sits down across from Elisabet and begins a long accusatory monologue. I'll try to sum up a bit, and then hit you with a quote. The gist is this: Elisabet was told by someone at a party that she lacked the capacity to display motherliness in her acting. In an attempt to add this to her arsenal, she got pregnant. Once pregnant, she became horrified at the concept of being pregnant, and of eventually having a child. She attempted to abort. She hoped for tragedy that would free her of the burden of motherhood. The child was born, which was awful for her. Eventually, she got a nanny and returned to work acting, but Elisabet felt no relief.
Now here's a quote:
But the suffering wasn't over. The boy was gripped by a massive and unfathomable love for his mother. You defend yourself in despair. You feel you can't return it. So you try, and you try... But there are only cruel and clumsy meetings between you. You can't do it. You're cold and indifferent. He looks at you. He loves you and he's so gentle. You want to hit him because he doesn't leave you alone. You think he's disgusting with his thick mouth and ugly body. His moist and pleading eyes. He's disgusting and you're scared.
Fucking horrifying, man.
I know the last thing that most readers want to run into here is my discussion of being a new father, and how that impacts my worldview and the way I approach horror movies, and how everything's different now that I have a kid, and all that "chicken soup for the soul" stuff, but this weird monologue punched me right in the guts.
Not because I feel that way. Oh god, no. But because before the kid came around, I was terrified that I would feel that way. I read some about postpartum depression, and about these issues surrounding new parents, and this is a thing that happens. Some parents just don't connect with their kids, and that's awful. Bringing a kid into the world and then letting that kid down seems like the most horrible thing-- and yet it happens. Some bonds just don't form between some parents and some kids. That didn't happen to me, for which I am most grateful, but I was afraid that it would.
So listening to this horrible monologue-- twice-- and watching the way that it affects both of the parties involved, was the most desperately uneasy, uncomfortable, and repulsive emotional reaction that a horror movie has conjured out of me in a long time. Because you can see the desperation in Elisabet's eyes, the shame and the guilt. And you, the viewer, are forced to empathize with it, to feel sorry for this woman who crosses the most unbearable, uncrossable line, whether voluntarily or not.
After this, there's some more weird hallucinatory sequences with some strange violence and vampiric behavior. One personality rejects another, perhaps, but it's all denouement.
We see a camera crew filming Elisabet wearing a swimsuit on a beach. Alma packs up the house, puts the chairs on the tables, and gets on a bus. As she leaves, we see Elisabet turn toward her, wearing stage makeup. The bus drives away. The camera pans to some rocks and dirt.
The credits list five people. One of them is the little boy in the beginning credits-- remember him? It credits him as "Elisabet's Son." NOTE: I watched the Criterion edition, which is uncensored (including the boner, which was excised in other cuts) and with new fresh subtitles. And, apparently, new end credits-- when I looked up the cast on IMDB for the child actor, he's listed as playing "Elisabet's Son (uncredited)."
I'd never heard of A Hero of Our Time, the book Elisabet's son was reading, but it seemed important, so I read what Wikipedia had to say (this is a blog, so I'm not going to even bother with other sources). It's kind of the key to the whole movie. It's about this fella named Pechorin, who's a total asshole. To wit, from Wikipedia: "...calculating, manipulative, emotionally unavailable and arrogant... sensitive and cynical as well as intelligent... broods on the futility of existence... a distanced, alienated personality." He cheats on his girlfriend, he's a misogynist womanizer, he murders one of his friends, he kidnaps a lady and pressures her into sex. Dude's life is basically an unbroken chain of dick moves. From Wikipedia again:
... one is presented with a moment of hope as Pechorin gallops after Vera. The reader almost assumes that a meaning to his existence may be attained and that Pechorin can finally realize that true feelings are possible. Yet a lifetime of superficiality and cynicism cannot be so easily eradicated and when fate intervenes and Pechorin’s horse collapses, he undertakes no further effort to reach his one hope of redemption: "I saw how futile and senseless it was to pursue lost happiness. What more did I want? To see her again? For what?"
At the end, he becomes broken down by the collective burden of his shittiness. The girl he kidnapped gets kidnapped by someone else and is wounded mortally. She talks to him as she dies, and then he falls into a funk and also dies.
The parallel is clear. Any attempt to disengage from the inherent cruelty of the world-- whether it be amoral and logical withdrawal, as Pechorin's, or physical and communicational, as Elisabet's-- is not a real disengagement or withdrawal. Existence in the world is complicity. Emotional withdrawal from the world is impossible. The only real response to being situated in an uncaring universe is to care yourself, and to take action accordingly. The failure of these characters to connect on a real, human, empathetic way, and to make any attempt to affect positive change, is what drives their inevitable existential failures.
The secondary parallel is, of course, the comparison between motherhood and artistic creation. Here's where we get into some interesting interactions with the postmodern touches: the camera being seen in the beginning and the end; the boy looking at the camera, and then being shown stroking the "screen," behind which is his mother; the middle piece where the film literally breaks and burns within the movie itself. This is artifice, says Bergman, but the footage that most moves the characters is real: the self-immolation of the monk, the photograph of the Warsaw Ghetto. The inclusion of the slaughtering of the lamb is deeply disconcerting.
Bergman's making a larger point here about the nature of abstraction and removal from immediacy of the subject. The footage of the "real" atrocities is the base level, the most horrific. The rest of the movie, about the characters, which we the audience inherently recognize as fictional, is a second layer; although it can also be emotionally moving, it cannot have the same impact on a real-world horror level. It is much harder to confront the real-world horror, but the artificial, abstracted narrative cannot impact as deeply.
When Pechorin and Elisabet try to abstract, withdraw, remove, they find themselves ultimately being destroyed or damaged. They are unable to escape the reality of the world they are a part of. What does it mean for an artist to have a layer of abstraction that is a necessity in any fictionalized or created art? What does it mean for us as an audience to understand implicitly that there is a layer of abstraction involved in any constructed narrative?
Here's a quote from Bergman himself about Persona:
... [I]n Persona— and later in Cries and Whispers— I had gone as far as I could go... in these two instances when working in total freedom, I touched wordless secrets that only the cinema can discover... Persona saved my life— that is no exaggeration. If I had not found the strength to make that film, I would probably have been all washed up. One significant point: for the first time I did not care in the least whether the result would be a commercial success."
This last point-- not caring about the commercial success of the movie-- can be seen in two ways. If this is interpreted as meaning that Bergman only cared if it succeeded on a personal, emotional level, for him exclusively, then he has done the opposite of what Elisabet did with her child. If this is interpreted as Bergman saying that this was just something he needed to produce, to expel, something to complete with no further eye for what happens afterward, then he's done exactly what she did, and simultaneously demonized and humanized her (and himself) for it.
Next time-- something way more straightforward. And way shorter. It will probably have lots of blood, and maybe boobs. Blood and boobs!
This is part five of a five-part series. For part one, click here.
Good morning, students. Welcome to your Mitching Independent Study, Hypothetical Mitchery.
If you've been following along all week, since Mitching 101, you will have noticed something. Halfway through the lecture on day two, Advanced Mitching, the quality of the Mitch underwent a sea change.
Prior to this shift, the Mitches had all been fairly simple, straightforward affairs: multiple declarations of identity, a few scattered details regarding soiling oneself, the first comment by the actual author, and that was it. After the shift, the Mitches became more ornate, longer; they went from simple paragraphs to narrative descriptions containing hundreds of words, and introducing many of the advanced techniques that we've covered this week.
What brought about this sea change?
Hypothetical Mitchery is: the act of sharing concepts, ideas, and examples of fake Facebook posts about crapping your pants with a group of friends with no intention of actually posting them on anyone's Facebook wall.
In mid-October 2014, I took a trip to Kansas. This trip was with a number of friends: Peggy, Felipe, Fread, Barb... and, of course, Mitch. The purpose of the trip was to watch the University of Texas Longhorns compete against the Kansas State Wildcats in Manhattan, Kansas. We also got to hang out with friends and family and just generally party. Early on during that trip, I posted a pretty good Mitch, although it was still fairly basic. However, that Mitch caught fire among our group of friends. Soon, a group text formed, and in that group text, we began sending hypothetical Mitches back and forth:
As you can see from this exchange, it started out pretty basic. We were just trying to make each other laugh.
However, Felipe raised the stakes by making his next entry longer, and including more excruciating details:
Why, this was a stellar example of Hypothetical Mitchery. We all felt like we needed to ramp up to compete.
With a fair amount of success, if I do say so myself.
A lot of the fun here was that at any time, one's phone could ding, and one could discover a fresh entry.
You get the picture.
Here's another hypothetical Mitch, from Bill. This was a "backup" from last week, or in case repeated Mitchings became a possibility:
Hey guys. Keef here. You won't believe the day I'm having!
Sometimes I like to take bubble baths. Not, like, with Mr. Bubble. I'm way more into those fancy smelling bath balls from the Bath & Bodyworks. Especially the Lavender scented ones.
Anyway, I had a busy day out on the town and stopped during errands for a big 'ol bowl of chili at this little gas station I know. They have all sorts of wonderful things, but they always have a piping hot vat of Texas style chili and a crock pot of Queso that you can top it off with. If you're feeling especially adventurous (and I often am, because I am Keef, you guys) you can fill up one of those insulated BIG CHUG MUGS full of chili and then go about your day. So that's what I did.
I ate that BIG CHUG MUG full of chili on the drive home listening to some podcasts about Donald Trump's hair piece and noticed a spot of creeping indigestion. Such are life's penalties when you consume an entire BIG CHUG MUG full of Gas Station Chili.
I was sitting at a stop light when I felt the second pang of indigestion and tapped the steering wheel all the way home, where I proceeded to run myself a hot bath full of lavender bubbles. The bathroom smelled quite nice and I proceeded to make myself comfortable and unwind.
That's when the third pang of indigestion hit. I was daydreaming and it took me completely unawares. But it felt like somebody reached into my belly and grabbed my stomach like they were choking it. I sat up straight in the tub, but since it was full of hot water, slid and hit my head on the back of the bath tub.
That's when the fourth pang hit. Only that's when I learned it wasn't indigestion: welcome to Brown Town, population: me.
I was still coming to when I realized something was horribly wrong. There was a scent in the air that reminded me of something but what was it? OH GOD NO. THE BIG CHUG MUG FULL OF CHILI. Only now i'd painted the bath tub faucet and surrounding tile with it! The walls dripped brown and the bathroom smelled like BIG CHUG MUG and Lavender. I struggled to get to my feet, but slipped in the water right as explosion #2 left a hole of beans and meat in the bubbles.
By this point my doodoofeces were all over the bathroom and covering my body. There was doodoofeces in my hair. I even got a little in my mouth. I kept trying to get out of the bathtub, but kept slipping and sloshing it around more and my body kept expelling more and more and more of the BIG CHUG MUG FULL OF CHILI all around the bathroom!
I finally managed to break free from the tub, but once again slipped, this time on the floor, and cracked my head on the toilet. My body continued to expel the BIG CHUG MUG all over the bathroom. I wasn't even awake for most of it.
Anyway, my wife came home and while I'd like to tell you I'm sleeping on the couch tonight, I've actually been locked in the bathroom. Send help. Pleeeeeeease. This is Keef. You. Guys. Oh god.
It almost makes me sad to share this with you, as this would have been a marvelous addition to my Facebook wall. Luckily for you, I care about your education-- so there it is.
Now, the time has come to make an announcement. With this most recent back-and-forth of full-pance prankery, I firmly believe that I have reached my personal pinnacle-- my last fake Facebook post about Mitch crapping his pants was the zenith, the highest mountain; truly dizzying heights of doodoo descriptors. From this vantage, there is only one direction to go. In lieu of going in that direction, I am announcing my retirement. I'm leaving on top. Never again shall I grace anyone's Facebook page with a Mitch.
It's your turn. I encourage all of you to take your new skill sets, go out there, and Mitch some of your friends. Start out slow-- perhaps some Hypothetical Mitchery, to get a taste for it, and to discover your individual style. Then, go forth and shoulder-surf, and lay waste to your opponents' social media outlets.
This is totally Keef, you guys. Good day.
More lectures in this series:.
MITCHING 101: THE BASIC MITCH
MITCHING 102: ADVANCED MITCHING
MITCHING 103: SUPER-ADVANCED MITCHING
MITCHING 104: MITCHING MASTERS SEMINAR
MITCHING INDEPENDENT STUDY: HYPOTHETICAL MITCHERY