A Halloween Compendium From The DMO-L Archives

It’s Ortberg-Lavery now, DMO-L (DAMO-L if we’re being strictly accurate, my but transitioning means you start to accumulate extra names) please update your glossaries and archives accordingly.

Text Messages From A Ghost

The bit that launched a career of doing bits! Schmaltzy, but I still have affection for it – schmaltzy but not always cheap, I think.

October 14th
hey im gaunting you ok
Do you mean haunting
yeah sorry i don’t have any fingers
so im poltergeisting a stick to help me text this
Who is this?
oh sorry im a ghost
So do you live inside this phone
yeah kind of

October 21st
sorry if last night was pretty loud
some other ghosts came over last night and we fought
we used to be roommates
they weren’t good roommates
I’m sorry
no no it’s okay
I mean its really nice of you to care
I really like haunting you a lot
Don’t you mean “gaunting”
hahaha you remembered

Text Messages From A Jack-O-Lantern

An obvious cash grab!!! I mean, come on. But…also, I love this little stressed-out pumpkin that’s freaked of leaves!

October 23

oh gosh oh gosh oh gosh oh gosh
what is it?
oh gosh
are you okay?
a leaf just blew in me a leaf just blew in me
a leaf?
it just
oh my gosh i can feel it touching me

do you need me to come get it out?
oh gosh oh gosh
this feels so weird

i’m coming out
thank you
oh gosh oh gosh

An early Grace mention in the introduction! Notable for two reasons: 1. I was already trying to get her attention by claiming not to understand poetry (“Gee whiz, Grace, I’m just too handsome and dumb to know what Imagery is – I guess I need SOMEONE smart to make me understand it”) and 2. I was still running that pre-transition “I don’t know what sex is” program 24/7.

Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market,” As I Understand It

Even a lot of fruit, even an implausibly large amount of fruit.
Even a bushel. Which, holy cats, I just looked up and that’s 64 pints!
64! You couldn’t eat that much fruit. I couldn’t, anyhow.
Probably not even Johnny Appleseed could. (Do you think he was their brother?
The poet wants us to figure that out for ourselves, I guess.)
The maximum amount of time a person could spend eating fruit,
even if they were really milking the situation, like pretending they
were in an erotic novel, or whatever (Do you ever apologize when you’re eating a plum if you didn’t get a chance to slice it beforehand?
Sometimes I do. Like, yikes, I promise I am not trying to be an Anaïs Nin novel at you. This will be over soon! Next time I will remember to slice it first!!!) is,
at most, an hour. You can’t spend more than an hour eating fruit. Good Lord.

Everything What’s Wrong of Possums

plus there’s your slithery nude little shit-tail; I hate it

People want to mix you up with the okay-looking thing what’s in Australia. I’m not talking about Australia, I’m talking about you. Why are you always waddling across my porch smiling like Templeton from Charlotte’s Web? I didn’t invite you over.


I stand by all of these, and the first person to mention Night Vale to me gets a scolding.

Happy Halloween from Chris Kimball

This morning there were seven ravens all in a row outside America’s Test Kitchen. I asked them who they were here for, but they wouldn’t answer me, so I left them a country ham. When I came back outside, one of the ravens had eaten the others. He stood nearly three feet high, and he had feathers dripping from his hard and lacquered mouth. He never touched the ham, so I brought it home with me. He followed me home. He’s outside right now, perched on the mailbox. Mailbox is leaning a bit, from the weight of him. I’ll make sure to tell him how much I enjoyed the ham.

You ever wonder what’s watching you from underneath the dirt while you’re plowing a field? Something is. Something surely is. Nothing blinks in the dirt.

It’s my understanding that trees are just the gnarled hands of witches that have been buried face-up in the earth. But it’s the ones that have been buried face-down that you have to look out for.

Fairly standard “time is TOO OLD” cosmic horror, but well-executed, I think, and builds tension well!

Everything That’s Wrong With the Cambrian Explosion

541 million years ago everything got big enough to become a squid if it wanted to, and it turned out everything wanted to, so the whole planet – a shallow, wet warm bath and one long creepy smile from pole to pole – was full of all-squids and part-squids and most-squids, all of whom flung themselves about erratically trying to eat one another with their eyes closed before turning into fossils or sand.

“Teeming,” that’s what everyone was doing in those days. Looking like skeletons hauling around their own sarcophagi, that was the other thing everyone was doing in those days, or hoarding nickel and depositing it under the sea floor. Well, I don’t like it, and I don’t like thinking about it. I don’t mind whatever was happening before Cambrian explosions, likely a handful of polyps minding their own business, but I sure don’t care for the idea that overnight a life-balloon popped and gave every creepy creature on this planet about fourteen siblings and nine new gut-feet and eyestalks each…

Ladies and mollusks of the jury, the following are the reasons I believe we shouldn’t have a Cambrian explosion at all anymore, or at the very least we ought to pull a polite velvet drape around it and never tell the children:

  • those penis worms with teeth on the end, everyone (“everyone”) is always up in arms about vaginas dentata but no one ever seems troubled by penis-worms with mouthteeth floating around in the deep past, what if one of them nibbles its way into a wormhole and chews my toes off while I’m asleep?

  • “undulations”

  • I don’t like it when rocks move

  • it’s already creepy when plants have fronds, imagine how much worse it is to think about fronded animalry

  • tubes, we don’t need more of them

  • that feeling of when algae touches your feet only you can’t see it? that’s the Cambrian Explosion’s fault

  • I don’t want to remember which arthropods had a foot-anus

Perfect, untouchable, Happy Halloween

Middlemarch but with werewolves, but not about werewolves

“He thinks with me,” said Dorothea to herself, “or rather, he thinks a whole world of werewolves of which my thought is but a poor twopenny mirror. And his feelings too, his whole experience with werewolves—what a lake compared with my little pool (of werewolves)!”…

“All the better. I suppose you admire a man with the complexion of a bear, or who sometimes turns into a bear, like some sort of bearwolf.”

”Dodo!” exclaimed Celia, looking after her in surprise. “I never heard you make such a comparison before. And it would be werebear, I should think, rather than bearwolfBearwolf would suggest that there was some sort of bear that could turn into a wolf, which would be ridiculous.”