Resolutions for 2014


It’s that time of year again when people start thinking about what their resolutions will be for 2014.  According to Wikipedia, resolutions are a secular tradition more common in the West. The U.S. government even has a page on its website mentioning some of the most popular resolutions. Some of the more popular ones are quitting smoking, volunteering to help others, getting a better job, managing debt, and saving money. You can see the entire list here.

The biggest one that people choose for their resolution is to lose weight. If this is yours, I would suggest finding a 24-hour gym to add to your routine. I belonged to Anytime Fitness a number of years ago and the flexible hours were perfect for my schedule. Like the name implies, it’s open 24/7 for its members. I went at 4 a.m. a couple of times and there were a few people there even then. It was convenient and I didn’t have to wait to use the machines I wanted to use.

This year my resolution isn’t to lose weight, but to read more, a resolution I’ve made in the past. 2013 was not a big reading year for me; in fact, I read more in 2012.  Here are just a few of the authors I want to read in 2014: Stephen King, Dale T. Phillips, Vlad Vasyln, Stacey Longo, Joe Hill, Jeff Strand, Clive Barker, Bracken MacLeod, Daniel G. Keohane, Rob Watts, David Price, Monica J O’Rourke, and Melissa Crandall. It won’t be the first time reading some of these authors, but all have been on my author-to-read list because I either know them or someone has recommended their work to me.

My other resolution is to get a full-time job to get cracking on managing my debt. Do I want to make that resolution and face that challenge? Just thinking about it gives me a headache; so I would rather just think about the magical places the authors on my list will take me when I crack open their books and start reading.

Happy New Year!

The Final Front and Back Covers for ‘Wicked Seasons’ Unveiled

The final front and back covers for the second New England Horror Writers anthology, Wicked Seasons, edited by Stacey Longo and debuting Nov. 9 at Anthocon have been released.

The cover was done by Mikio Murakami.

This is the second NEHW anthology and the first from NEHW Press.

Longo congratulates all of the contributors, and gives many thanks (and her unending gratitude) to Jeff Strand and Holly Newstein Hautala for providing the foreword and cover blurb, respectively.

You can read the TOC here.


Pictures from Necon 33

by Jason Harris

The 33rd Northeastern Writers’ Conference (Necon) has wrapped up another fun filled year. It was great seeing old friends and making new ones, talking about writing and marketing and just having a good time.

Throughout the four-day convention, there were panels including That Line We Crossed: How Explicit is Too Explicit and We’ve Got You Covered: How Print Cover Art Happens. There were also the Necon Olympics: bowling, darts, foosball, and hi-lo-jack.

There was an Meet the Author party on Friday night and an Artist reception on Saturday. A Hawaiian shirt competition, Necon Update, That Damn Game Show and the Infamous Necon Roast also took place during this fun weekend.

Necon campers remembered Rick Hautala, who passed away in March, on Thursday night during his memorial tribute, which was introduced by Christopher Golden.

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Christopher Golden on the panel, “I’ll Buy That for a Dollar: Resurrecting Your Backlist & Marketing the Hell Out of Your Writing (a.k.a. The Business Panel)”

Author Jeff Strand during the Necon Roast.

Author Jeff Strand during the Necon Roast.

Author Heather Graham

Author Heather Graham on the panel, “I’ll Buy That for a Dollar: Resurrecting Your Backlist & Marketing the Hell Out of Your Writing (a.k.a. The Business Panel)”

From left to right: Craig Shaw Gardner, Christopher Golden, Elizabeth Massie, Nicholas Kaufman, and F. Paul Wilson participating in That Damn Game Show.

From left to right: Craig Shaw Gardner, Christopher Golden, Elizabeth Massie, Nicholas Kaufman, and F. Paul Wilson participating in That Damn Game Show.

Author and NEHW member Nicholas Conley holding his book, "The Cage Legacy."

Author and NEHW member Nicholas Conley holding his book, The Cage Legacy.

Craig Shaw Garner about to talk about the prizes for winning That Damn Game Show.

Craig Shaw Garner about to talk about the prizes for winning That Damn Game Show.

Authors Trisha Wooldridge and David Price at the NEHW table.

Authors Trisha Wooldridge and David Price at the NEHW table.

Jeannine Calia finishing shaving author Rio Youers who shaved his head for charity, The Jimmy Fund.

Jeannine Calia fixing the shaving job author Rio Youers had done for charity, The Jimmy Fund.

Author P. Gardner Goldsmith having some fun as he shaves some of Rio Youers' head as Author James Moore films it.

Author P. Gardner Goldsmith having some fun as he shaves some of Rio Youers’ head as author James Moore films it and the blurry Christopher Golden watches.

John M. McIlveen's dealer table.

John M. McIlveen’s dealer table.

The Dealer and Art room at Necon.

The Dealer and Art room at Necon.

Bram Stoker winning poet Linda Addison being roasted.

Bram Stoker winning poet Linda Addison being roasted.

Artist Courtney Skinner during the Necon Roast.

Artist Courtney Skinner during the Necon Roast.

Author Brian Keene during the Necon Roast.

Author Brian Keene during the Necon Roast.

From left to right: writers Catherine Grant, Stacey Longo, and Tracy Carbone.

From left to right: writers Catherine Grant, Stacey Longo, and Tracy Carbone.

A Conversation with Author Adam Cesare

By Jason Harris


b55f3206ed747f885cd18d60591387401. You have written a novel, novella, and a short story collection. What are you working on now?

Next up will be another full-length novel. That one will be from Samhain (they put out Video Night, as well) and it’s my take on the satanic cult subgenre. All the longer pieces I’ve written have all been set in specific periods (the 1980s, 1960s, etc.) I didn’t want to become known as the “throwback” horror guy, so The Summer Job is set in our time. The characters have iPhones. I’m all done with that one and right now I’m working on a novella for a to-be-named publisher. I’m super excited about both of these.

2. On Amazon, it has you credited with Bound by Jade (the Fourth Sam Truman Mystery). Is this true and were you involved with any of the other mysteries in the series? I only ask since you don’t have this book listed on your website.

There are a couple of posts about it on the site, but I think they’ve been pushed off the front page over the last few months. It should be on the website; I’m just the world’s worst webmaster, so it’s not up there. I’ll fix that.

The series was created by writer/publisher Ed Kurtz. Sam’s a disgraced P.I. who just happens to get the city’s strangest cases (the books are supernatural noirs). I didn’t write the first three, but they all share the same character. The series is something special and I’m very proud of my entry. They’re dirt cheap, so everyone should give the Sam Truman books a try.

My installment is a novella called Bound by Jade. It can stand on its own, but reading the whole series is the best way to go.Bound by Jade

3. You have written about movies in Tribesmen and Video Night. Would you say, you have been influenced by movies? What movies have influenced you?

Yeah. Even from a young age, movies were my everything. Not to get lame with the “write what you know” adage, but I use the world of film as a jumping off point in those books. Video Night is based on the phenomenon of watching movies, especially the social aspect of that, while Tribesmen is more about making movies and what goes in (and shouldn’t go in) to getting what you need on camera.

The Summer Job doesn’t explicitly connect to the world of film, but it is my attempt to write in the genre of folk horror. To the best of my understanding, folk horror is predominately a film term and it describes the subgenre that films like The Wicker Man, Blood on Satan’s Claw and Kill List belong in. Those are all British films, and I am nowhere near British enough to try and write about the location, so mine’s a New England folk horror story. 91w2nxklemL__SL1500_

4. You were a film studies major in college. What made you decide on that degree?

I studied both English and Film. When you’re a film studies major (as opposed to a film production major) the two fields of study are actually very similar. They’re both a lot of reading, writing, and analytical thinking. That kind of stuff interests me and I think that being a critical consumer of media (no matter if it’s Re-animator or The Canterbury Tales) makes you a better writer.

5. What did you envision doing with your life with a Film Studies degree?

I went to grad school for a year and picked up a Masters in Education. So I’m qualified to teach, which is also something I find worthwhile/enriching.

6. Who are some of your favorite writers?

Oh boy. This is one of those questions I could spend all night on. For horror, let’s go with Aaron Dries, Sarah Langan, Laird Barron, Stephen Graham Jones, Shane McKenzie, and Jeff Strand.

7. Who are you reading at the moment?

I’ve got Joe Hill’s latest, NOS4A2 almost finished. I’m right now in the process of choosing what goes next. I try to put my genre consumption on rotation, so since I’m just finishing reading something that’s horror I’ve got three different genres all vying for the title: N.K. Jemisin’s The Killing Moon (fantasy, I think), James S.A. Corey’s Abaddon’s Gate (science fiction) and Duane Swiercynski’s third Charlie Hardie book, Point & Shoot (crime).

TribesmenCover8. You have a blurb from Jeff Strand for Tribesmen. How did you feel when you received that blurb? Did you seek him out for one?

Jeff and I had only met once very briefly before I asked him to take a look at the book, so I was really surprised how nice he was about the whole thing. His blurb is amazing and now that I’ve seen him a couple more times at conventions, he and his wife (author Lynne Hansen) are two of my favorite people.

9. Would you like to see Tribesmen or Video Night made into a movie?

Yes, please.

10. If they were made into a movie, who would you like to see direct it and why?

Some aspects of the books would probably have to change either way, but I like to think that they’re both pretty adaptation-friendly.

Lexi Alexander would be a good choice for Video Night, in my opinion. She knows how to work with actors and gore in equal measure as evidenced by the criminally underrated Punisher: War Zone.

The dynamic directing-duo of John Skipp and Andrew Kasch would be my choice for Tribesmen. They’ve done some incredible short work that’s both hilarious and disgusting. They would get the tone EXACTLY.

I mean. There are no films in the works or anything, so why don’t we throw P.T. Anderson and Kathryn Bigelow and [Martin] Scorsese in the running?

11. What made you stay in Boston after college?

I love it. It’s been my home for seven years. It’s a movie-loving town, for one thing. The Coolidge and the Brattle are two of the best theaters in the country and they’re both walking distance from me.

12. Are there any plans to put Bone Meal Broth out in paperback? What inspired that collection of work?

I had the rights back to a bunch of stories that had been previously published, so I picked out the best of them and put out a short (20,000 word) collection. I’m quite proud of it, but I’m not sure it’ll ever be in paperback. It’s the only time I’ve self-published something and I really enjoyed the experience. Maybe in a few years I’ll bump up the word count by adding some stories to the roster and then find a publisher that would tangle with it.

13. What has your nonfiction work been about?

It’s all film essays. I’ve written guest posts for a few blogs and my articles have seen print in Paracinema Magazine. They’re amazing, by the way, if you haven’t read that magazine I highly recommend it.

14. Your work has been featured in Shroud and Fangoria. How did it feel being in Fangoria, a horror magazine that I think every person who is or has been into reading/watching horror has read?

That was just a quick book review I wrote freelance for them, but it got my name on the contributor page and I thought I would faint. For the whole month I was going to newsstands, thumbing to my page and giggling like a madman.

15. You had a blog, Brain Tremors. I love that name by the way. Why choose that name? Did the name come to you right away? Is there history behind the name?

Yeah, Brain Tremors. That was my old page, but I still use the banner over at I kind of knew what I wanted the insignia to look like, and what’s creepier than an involuntary shaking of the brain?

16. What would be your advice for wannabe writers?

Ha. I’m too low-level to be handing out advice. My advice would be to take writing advice from Joe Lansdale, as he hands it out occasionally on his Twitter/Facebook feed.

One thing that does bug me is the idea of an “aspiring” writer. There are a lot of people on twitter that label themselves that way. Fake it till you make it, guys and gals. There’s no room on the internet for low self-esteem, it’s too full of cat pictures and lackluster writing advice.

TOC Announced for NEHW’s Second Anthology (Updated 5/28/13)

The table of content has been announced for the second New England Horror Writers’ anthology, which is being edited by Stacey Longo.

The tentative title for this new collection is Wicked Seasons and will be released at Anthocon 2013 in November.

Introduction: Jeff Strand

“Furious Demon” by Addison Clift
“The Basement Legs” by Robert DuPerre
“Hungry For More” by Michael Evans
“The Secret Backs of Things” by Christopher Golden
“Blood Prophet” by Scott Goudsward
“Three Fat Guys Soap” by Catherine Grant
“Chuffers” by Paul McMahon
“Spirits” by James A. Moore
“Bleedthrough” by Gregory Norris
“Lycanthrobastards” by Errick Nunnally
“To Chance Tomorrow” by Kristi Petersen Schoonover
“A Night at the Show” by Robert Smales
“The Girl Who Wouldn’t Break” by Lucien Spelman
“The Widow Mills” by Trisha Wooldridge

The first anthology, Epitaphs, was published in October of 2011.

Hanging Out with Horror Writers

Since there has been a number of entries this week with pictures from Necon, I thought it would be nice to read an author’s blog entry written while they attended Necon 32. Author and Co-Chair of the NEHW Stacey Longo wrote such a blog. Author Jeff Strand (Pressure) even stopped by and commented on her blog.

Please enjoy this author’s current blog entry.

Hanging Out with Horror Writers

by Stacey Longo

I’m writing this in my hotel room at NECON, the Northeastern Writers’ Conference. I have to admit, it can be a little intimidating walking in to a conference center filled with some of the sickest, most twisted minds that horror has to offer, but I like to come prepared. Before I come to one of these events, I write up a list of fun topics and conversation starters in case I find myself face-to-face with F. Paul Wilson and can’t interest him in the pictures of the time I met Duran Duran. Here was my list for this year:
1. Brush up on your serial killers. Many writers base their novels on real-life events, and find this subject fascinating. I found myself on the first day sitting next to Dallas Mayr (Jack Ketchum) and was able to successfully entertain him with tales of a serial cannibal I once knew. These kinds of sure-fire conversation starters are key to any horror convention.
2. Pick a side: Lovecraft or Poe? You just can’t be ambivalent about this topic. If you’re going to go to a convention of writers, you’d better love one and hate the other, and be able to defend your side vehemently. Otherwise, Darryl Schweitzer will peg you as an imposter faster than you can say “Cthulhu.”
3. Watch as many obscure scary movies as possible before attending. The only thing horror writers like more than a creepy story is a scary movie. There also seems to be a tendency among this group to find the most ambiguous film ever made and make you feel like a giant lump of stupid if you haven’t seen it. Heard today over lunch: “You haven’t seen When Hell Comes to Frog Town? It’s only Rowdy Roddy Piper’s best cinematic performance of his career. I’m sorry, I can no longer continue speaking to you, you giant lump of stupid.”
4. Be prepared to have your favorite Stephen King novel completely skewered. Another popular activity for horror writers: espousing on why Stephen King is a hack. You thought The Stand was fabulous? Blind meadow voles could sniff out a better novel. Did you find Bag of Bones entertaining? You are an incompetent boor who should be eaten alive by blind meadow voles. Why on earth would you be so foolish to think that the most popular author on the planet could actually write a good story? (I suspect this is such a favorite activity among horror writers because they might be a tad jealous. However, this has not prevented me from trashing Under the Dome in select circles.) There you have it: a primer on blending in among horror’s literary elite. I would write some more tips, but I am currently being dragged outside and tied to a stake so that I can be eaten alive by blind meadow voles.

Moments after admitting that I kind of liked Stephen King’s Insomnia, I realize I’m a dead woman.

Pictures of Necon’s Authors’ Night

Pictures of Necon’s Authors’ Night

by Jason Harris

NEHW Co-chair Stacey Longo and member L.L. Soares.

The NEHW table during Necon’s Authors’ Night.

Author L.L. Soares.

Authors and NEHW members Nick Cato and K. Allen Wood at Authors’ Night.

The view in front of the NEHW table at Authors’ Night.

Authors K. Allen Wood and Stacey Longo at the NEHW table at Necon 32.

NEHW Director of Events Scott Goudsward.

Author and NEHW member Peter N. Dudar signing a copy of his book, A Requiem for Dead Flies.

Mark Angevine and F. Paul Wilson conversing during Necon’s Authors’ Night.

David Bernstein talking with author Jeff Strand during Authors’ Night.

Author and NEHW member Laura Cooney.

Author and NEHW member John McIlveen.

Artist and Illustrator Cortney Skinner listens to fellow Necon camper Mattie Brahen.

Author Lisa Mannetti tries to squeeze in-between authors Elizabeth Massie and Heather Graham.


Jeers of a Clown: Exploring the Balancing Act of Black Humor Writing

This entry originally appeared on Adrienne Jones’s website.

Jeers of a Clown: Exploring the Balancing Act of Black Humor Writing

By Adrienne Jones

Back in college, a bunch of us got called into the dorm lounge one day to receive some bad news—one of our dorm mates had attempted suicide. He was fine, they were able to save him, but he wouldn’t be coming back to school. A terrible thing, of course. We all sat mournful and appropriately shocked at the news. Then my buddy Al asked the dorm director how this kid had…you know, done it. Turns out he’d taken an overdose of Sudafed.

I went into one of those inappropriate snicker fits, the kind that happen in church or in a meeting with your boss, where laughter is the worst option. I was weakened by it, sliding off the chair, unable to stop while the others stared on in horror, like I was a monster. Come ON! The guy tried to dry his sinuses to death.

Since I started publishing fiction, my brand of humor as been repeatedly called “dark” or “black,” which recently led to pondering the source. Does a dark sense of humor come from the viewpoint of an author, or does the world regularly present us with these scenarios that only a certain personality type recognizes as humorous? Is it the same thing? And where do we draw the line between dark humor and a simple lack of taste?

The late Roald Dahl considered this endlessly, as evidenced in this quote: “If a bucket of paint falls on a man’s head, that’s funny. If the bucket fractures his skull at the same time and kills him, that’s not funny, it’s tragic. And yet if a man falls into a sausage machine and is sold in the shop at so much a pound, that’s funny. It’s also tragic. So why is it funny? I don’t know, but what I do know is that somewhere within this very difficult area lies the secret of all black comedy.”

I think most will agree that Roald Dahl found that balance in his own work. I wonder if his was based purely on speculations, or if he too felt plagued with darkly humorous scenarios thrust before him in daily life. This reminds me of another incident that happened while I was skiing with a group of friends at Killington Mountain. We spotted a man with no arms, expertly swishing down a mogul field, and thought, “Wow. That is incredible.” There was nothing funny about it. We certainly weren’t juvenile and callous enough to laugh at a no-armed skier. We looked on in awe and admiration of his courage.

Yet two hours later we spotted the same man in the ski lodge, casually watching the television as he had lunch with a companion. My friend nudged me and signaled to the TV screen, on which played out the Black Knight scene from Monty Python and The Holy Grail. The knight continued to fight King Arthur even as both his arms had been hacked off by Arthur’s sword, jumping and kicking as fake blood gushed dramatically from his stumps. Dear God, I thought, why are you doing this to me? I mean, what are the odds of watching a no-armed man watching a comedy scene about a no-armed man? I don’t want to laugh at the no-armed skier! The universe is NOT playing fair.

There is a certain safety in laughing at such things in the realm of entertainment, and it would stand to reason that suspension of disbelief or the fiction buffer is the key. But there are just as many staunch haters of Monty Python’s brand of humor as there are fans. I’ve seen people come to blows over this topic. Which brings back the theory that dark humor is about viewpoint, in observer and creator alike.

Since I can’t dig up Roald Dahl and ask him, I participated in a discussion with some living writers of black humor about their life view and how it affects their writing. Author Aurelio O’Brien used to make his living on the big budget animated kiddie films, but crossed over to the dark side with his first novel Eve, a blackly humorous tale of genetic tampering gone awry in a dystopian future.

“For me, so much of life is observably funny and this automatically feeds my writing. When I was creating my all organic, genetically designed future, things like McDonald’s characters directly inspired me to go further than I might otherwise think to go…The little giggling McNuggets are really chunks of dead fowl flesh with cute little smiles carved into them. I find these kinds of things to be so twisted and humorous and odd. Most people don’t think about these characters beyond their surface appeal. So, when people tell me my Lick-n-Span© is gross, I think, is it really any grosser than having a hacked-up chicken giggle at you?”

I agree with O’Brien on this, most consumer icons are creepy. Like the Tidy Bowl man and Mr. Clean. Why is it always a little fantasy man helping the lonely housewife with her daily chores? Strange men coming up out of the floor and the toilet? And why does the housewife always keep them a secret from her husband? Notice the way Mr. Clean winks at her when hubby walks in? And what’s the actual purpose of that little hand guy from Hamburger Helper? What’s he really helping her with?

Speaking of sex and animation, most people know Gary K. Wolf as the creator of Disney’s Roger Rabbit, but he’s also a novelist, and one of the masters of dark humor. For Wolf, the humor definitely comes from a unique way of seeing the world, and is more second nature than calculated creativity.

“There’s something unfathomable about humor writers that compels them to look at a situation or a character, twist it, turn it, squeeze it, squash it until it’s a round peg that fits into a square hole and looks funny doing it,” says Wolf. “Good stand-up comedians have the same ability, taking everyday situations and making them funny. They do it verbally. Most of the humorous writers I know, me included, aren’t very funny in conversation. In fact, I’m so boring I could suck the laughs out of a hyena convention. However, give us a blank page and a pen, and we’ll have you in stitches. I’ve been applauded by editors, critics, and readers for the humor in my work. All well and good except they were talking about what I consider to be my serious work. What I’m saying is that there’s something perverse about the way I look at reality or, in the case of science fiction, unreality I see a situation, I make it funny. Can’t help it. Don’t do it intentionally. That’s just the way I write.”

Gary makes a good point here about stand-up comedians, which prompted me to speak with one of my favorite and darkest comedians, winner of the 2009 Boston Comedy Festival, Dave McDonough. Dave, who’s confessed to needing roughly 70 jokes written for a half-hour set, has a “serial killer on Valium” kind of delivery, and pushes the envelope with some wince-worthy jokes, but he’s booked solid most weeks, so the man has found his groove, and his audience.

“There is a balancing act but you can’t make everyone happy,” says McDonough. “I cross the line sometimes but that’s half the fun. I don’t have any material I draw the line at except Muslim jokes, because I need my head. I tell a Jesus Christ/abortion joke and a male-inmate rape joke that often get applause breaks, so there’s a way to make the darkest of topics palatable to the public. I’m nowhere near as dark or as crazy as the freak I play onstage, I’m really a positive, introverted person by nature who happens to believe that the world is coming to an end.”

So writers and entertainers alike seem to reiterate my previous theory, that black humor is a personality trait, an inherent point of view within the creative mind before the material ever reaches the page, or the stage. But in the spirit of point/counterpoint, I figured there had to be a dark humor writer who didn’t necessarily see the real world through gore-colored, Groucho Marx glasses. Someone calculating, a mere craftsman, crazy on the page but with a solid, normal worldview—author Jeff Strand.

If you’ve read Strand’s popular, horror/humor brand of fiction, you’re now scratching your head and saying, “Did she just call Jeff Strand normal?” Especially after reading excerpts like this one from his book Disposal, which shows off his talent for making gore and violence a casual affair.
“We’ll finish slicing up my husband’s body, then we’ll get rid of the chunks, then we’ll take a long shower, and then we’ll get some sleep–and no, you can’t spend the night–and then I’ll pay you.”

The reason I thought I’d get calculated normalcy from Jeff Strand obviously didn’t come from the content of his fiction. But having had many writing-craft related discussions with Strand, I always end up shaking my head at the logic he applies to the structure of writing, putting himself completely outside the whacky content in order to plot his scenes with almost mathematical precision. He’s like the Professor on Gilligan’s Island, fixing the radio while everyone else is running around throwing coconut cream pies.

But I was wrong. While Strand recognizes more conventional logic about the crux of black humor, in the end he too opts for the warped theory.
“We’re living in dark times, and one theory is that because it’s difficult to cope with or even comprehend some of the horrors around us, we use them for comedic effect to help us better deal with them,” says Strand. “Which is a good theory. But at the same time, I think most of us are just sickos. The college student who creates an elaborate online animation of The Puppy Blender isn’t doing it as a defense mechanism. We’re all warped!”

Though like Roald Dahl, Jeff finds himself balancing that delicate line between humor and bad taste. “If I can come up with a genuinely funny angle that’s more than just ‘Oooh! Look how tasteless I can be!’ then my only off-limits material would be specific real-life people suffering tragedies. Cancer itself is acceptable. A real-life person dying of cancer is not. I wouldn’t necessarily feel the need to make something funnier just because of the uncomfortable subject matter—it would just have to be handled in a way that justified the material.”

And so ends the cage match, the popular vote going to the theory that black-humor writers have an inherently twisted perspective, a real-life view of the world that powers the motor for creating the dark funnies. Limitations are applied when putting pen to page, balancing the scales of humor and darkness to make the mix palatable for human consumption. If the mix is just right, the audience will laugh. Or at least some of them. Because as all humor is in the eye of the beholder, it’s inevitable that part of the population will always stare slack-jawed, horrified as you giggle maniacally at the boy who tried to dry his sinuses to death.