FEELS

Now Kids, Put Down Your Guns and Let Me Tell You A Story

If you grew up in Canada and are of a certain age, The Hilarious House of Frightenstein was part of a complete childhood. I learned a few weeks ago that it is currently available for binge-watching on Tubi. Originally produced by CHCH-TV in Hamilton, Ontario in 1971, it aired for only one season. Yet that one season would be shown in syndication for nearly two decades thereafter, where it would find its way into the cockles of the collective heart of Gen X Canada. A sketch-comedy/sitcom hybrid for the whole family with a regular cast of oddball characters (most of which were played by the same actor), set in a medieval castle where Halloween never ended. A diminutive vampire character on this show (specifically the one who was always talking on the phone in Count Frightenstein’s coffin) allegedly served as the inspiration for Mini-Me of Austin Powers fame. Vincent Price was a regular contributor to boot…

Vincent Price was a god who walked among men.

One of the recurring segments on Frightenstein was Grizelda the Ghastly Gourmet, which was a take on TV cooking shows featuring a witch as the star chef. Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, I’ll just post a clip of one of those segments here…


Whilst watching Frightenstein at 4:20 the other night, I was suddenly reminded of how convincingly female Grizelda seemed to the sensibilities of my eight-year-old self. The fact that she was actually portrayed by a man in drag never dawned on me until junior high school. It might shock some people to hear this, but my young impressionable mind found nothing traumatizing or world-crushing about that revelation at all, and was even somewhat amused by it. You see, drag performers have been entertaining audiences young and old for literally centuries, and for most of our history it was actually possible to have a man in drag entertaining a group of kids without a permanently enraged mob of cultists throwing a violent temper tantrum.

I totally get that these cultists are out to avenge their dogmas. But it has to be said that the rest of us are not at fault for their own costly public relations failures, and their actions are thus unwarranted. Decades of sleazecorruption, pointless scapegoating and trying to attract flies with vinegar (to say nothing of coöptation by a political party) arguably contributed way more to the recent spate of ecclesiastical bankruptcies than any drag queen. Drag queens don’t text dick pics to fifteen-year-old girls. Pastors do.

May you be touched by His Noodly Appendage, and Happy Festivus.

The Journey of SILVER BROWN

Out With The Old

Hey, it’s a new decade. Thank the Dagda. The Weenie Teenies (which I personally think is a catchier and more befitting name than the Two Thousand and Tens, so I’m just going to go with that) will probably go down in history as the worst decade humanity has seen since the 1940s. So I’m glad that’s all over with. Sure, it was a decade that saw vinyl LPs come back from the dead. That was the shit! But then there was a shitload of other shit that was as shitty as all shit. Hopefully this new decade will bring more shit that’s cool, like the aforementioned second coming of the long-playing record. May these Twenties be twenty percent as roaring as the last ones, so they don’t end as badly.


If this reminds you of someone, you’re officially not going crazy.


In this spirit of dispensing with the old and embracing the new, I’ve decided to prune a couple of characters out of SILVER BROWN entirely. There was a scene in one of the early drafts where my main character wakes up in the offices of one of the most powerful cyberwarlocks in Sector India. There, the witch Florys MacNab is approached by this warlock’s man Friday – an eight-year-old boy known only as The Kid.

The Kid grew from an intellectual seed that was planted in my brain by an Ojibwe elder from an ancient land we now call Minnesota, by way of a book he wrote I once burrowed from the library. He would tell me of a forgotten yesteryear well before there was any such thing as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, when the Ojibwe did not bestow names upon their children at birth. In those days, it was an ingrained part of the culture and tradition that a name be thought of as something one had to earn. Many kids didn’t earn those names until they were eight or nine years old. Some not even until puberty, or later. But finally doing something to earn a name was one of the most important rites of passage in a child’s life.

A few of the customs observed by the Society of Wheel Turners in SILVER BROWN invoke this bygone Ojibwe tradition to a certain extent. In the early drafts, young Wheel Turners in training were literally nameless. Hence, the reason why The Kid was just The Kid, and nothing else. I eventually had to dispense with The Kid entirely, because his sole function in the story was to reveal exhibition that had already been revealed. But the tradition he embodied lives on, albeit in a modified form. In the current draft, children born into the Society receive a totem from their council of directors when they pass a strenuous series of cybermagickal aptitude tests. The warlock of Sector India I mentioned earlier is known solely by his totem. His legal name is the one registered with SAAZMOL, which is why he doesn’t use it. He is instead addressed by his contemporaries as Lord Pukerabbit. There’s a whole explanation of the hidden meaning behind that appellation, but I won’t get into that here and now.

There was another character I had to get rid of when he ultimately proved superfluous. A utility program called Dunsmure the Bird, inspired by watching too many videos on YouTube like this:



I initially threw Dunsmure the Bird in the story to serve as a sidekick for Elmýr Garfield. In later drafts, Elmýr Garfield would gain the ability to shapeshift, his new powers reducing Dunsmure the Bird to a Jar Jar Binks – an unnecessary character that could easily be removed from the story without the story suffering any, and in fact should be removed. The bird’s jarjarbinksiness wasn’t the only reason I got rid of him, though. There’s already a character in the story who’s a talking ferret; I figured throwing in a talking bird on top of that would be laying it on a tad too thick.