Don't have much to say about these pieces, so I'll let them speak for themselves. Remember if you want to know when posts are coming, give us proper feedback, or whatever, check us out on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/HonestyNotContagious/) or follow on Twitter @JackBlankHSH.
For those who celebrate Giftmas, no child intends to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. It happens without warning like getting punched in the dark, leaving you somehow angry with yourself not the Sandman who knocked you out. One moment wide awake ears absorbing every sound for a sign of Santa, blink, and it’s morning. Presents are under the tree, the only sign of any gift giving ninja, a half eaten cookie.
Although, growing up, that unfinished cookie always made me suspicious. I used to wonder what kind of fat man doesn't finish a cookie. And being inclined the way I am, I sometimes worried Santa hated the treats I left for him. That explained why one precious item, wanted above all others, never arrived. I could imagine him taking a bite, his face contorting in disgust, and deciding then and there, "Fuck this kid." Back up chimney he flew, taking with him whatever I wanted most that year.
But then one Giftmas something happened that changed my entire understanding of the holiday forever.
In my annual fashion, I went to bed with the full of intention of staying awake, at the very least long enough to hear reindeer hooves on the roof. I passed part of the time staring out my bedroom window. Through frosted panes I observed a group of carolers strolling down the street, and my neighbor running outside to catch them.
I heard him say, "Thank you for coming by, but none of you know how to sing. So please just get away from my house."
As they mercilessly beat him into the ground while singing "O Holy Night," I couldn't help noticing they gave new meaning to certain lyrics:
"Fall on your knees!
O hear the angel's voices!"
I heard my Dad chuckling downstairs then calling for my Mom, "Honey you gotta see this. Ziggy's gettin' his ass handed to him."
Ziggy's wife came running out of the house. A pot in one hand, she tossed ladlefuls of steaming hot cocoa at carolers. The singers scattered, driven off by burning streams of molten chocolate. Before the bloodthirsty wassailers could regroup she and Ziggy hurried back inside.
In the aftermath of that altercation the silence that soon descended became particularly boring. I reclined on the bed. Staring at the ceiling I wondered why Santa preferred to work in such unnecessary secrecy. He didn't want children to see him delivering gifts, yet every kid, inclined to Christmas or not, is aware Santa brings the presents. It occurred to me there must be something about himself he didn't want people to witness, perhaps a deformed eye that frightened children, or maybe he smelled terrible -- flying at the speed required to make it around the world in one night, if a flying reindeer pooped or peed that probably flew right back all over Santa.
Amidst these and other speculations I felt my eyelids growing heavy. Resisting as much as I could I failed to fight off slumber. However, sleep would not reign all night.
I can't entirely recall my dreams that evening, though one moment remains distinct. I remember a chocolate cat and a gingerbread dog helping me climb a sugar-plum tree near the Lollypop Sea. Almost to the top a lightning bolt blew the tree to pieces sending all three of us crashing to the ground.
I saw the gingerbread dog broken open on hard candy stones, his peppermint innards spilled out all over; the chocolate cat, half melted by the lightning shook an angry paw at the sky screaming, “What hath God wrought?”
Thunder boomed over head, the sound loud enough to blow me back into the waking world. I bolted upright, throwing myself out of bed. I’ve woken up in worse ways since, but at the time, it was not pleasant.
Groaning in pain, I could still hear a dying echo of thunder. That's when it dawned on me: the sound originated in reality.
Pounding steps hurried through the hall. Someone shot passed my bedroom.
I heard my Dad shouting as he ran downstairs, "What’s going on?"
Mom answered, "It's a mess that's what it is."
A frantic exchange ensued, both parents talking at once. Their heated dialogue congealed into an incomprehensible slurry. Not knowing exactly what they said didn't change the tone of the conversation, I could tell something terrible must've happened.
When Mom shouted, "Well what was I supposed to do?"
The dialogue stopped.
Cautiously I crept out of bed, sneaking downstairs to see the cause of the commotion. I found my parents standing by the Christmas tree. Mom shaking her head in disappointment, Dad staring, frowning at a body lying near the fireplace. A snowy white beard wreathed what remained of its head the rest splattered across the mantle like a gruesome Jackson Pollok. One of the feet still twitched, jiggling the belly, and jingling the buckle on a black leather boot. My eye drifted from the corpse back towards my parents, specifically the shotgun at Mom's feet.
Dad said, "What. Happened?"
Mom replied, "I was going to the bathroom. I heard someone downstairs, and thought, 'It's a burglar.' So because waking you is like resurrecting the dead, I got the shotgun; but when I got down here I didn't see anyone, or anything except that." She pointed at a gigantic sack in one corner. She continued, "I went to look at it. Then I heard a floorboard creek. Turning around there's a lumbering bear-man coming out of the dark going, 'Ho, ho, ho.’ Like that explains a goddamn thing. Wearing all red -- I thought he was covered in blood, so I shot him. Twice."
Dad nodded in understanding.
Mom said, “Maybe if you weren’t in a vodka coma…”
“This is not the time for that conversation.”
“When’s it going to be the time?”
A thud came from the roof. Snatching up the shotgun Dad went to the front door. On his way he spotted me on the stairs.
He said, "Don't go near the dead guy. Got it?"
I nodded vigorously.
He said, "Good. Now be quiet," and he went outside. A moment later he came back looking perplexed, and uncomfortably delighted like someone who just discovered there are dildos based on dragon dicks. He said, "Ahhhh-okay. There are reindeer... on the roof." Mom opened her mouth to say something, but he held up a hand, “I repeat, ‘There are reindeer... on the roof.’"
Mom went outside. Not wanting to miss this, I followed her. Sure enough, up on the house top, eight tiny reindeer hitched to a sleigh.
Looking at me Mom said, "What are you doing outside without a jacket? Get back in the house before you freeze to death."
I trudged back inside. I didn't feel like I needed a jacket. Though it must be said, knowing your Mom has killed someone implies a greater legitimacy to such observations -- if anybody knows death, it’s her. After getting a jacket I went back out in time to see Dad position a ladder next to the house.
"What are you doing?" Mom asked.
Dad said, "Hoping this is just a meth fueled prank."
He went up the ladder. Mom scanned the block to see if any neighbors might be observing us. Dad went quickly up, and soon quickly descended.
"Okay," he said, "I tried to pet a reindeer to keep it calm -- I didn't want to get knocked off the roof. Anyway, it hopped away from me, and hovered in the air."
"So they're real flying reindeer," I said with unrestrained joy.
Without looking at me Dad said, "Son, this is a really messed up situation. I'm gonna need you to be quiet, while your Mom and I figure this out."
"What's to figure out?" Mom said, "We should call the police."
Dad shook his head, "Honey, believe me, we cannot become the family that killed Santa. That's just not gonna end well for us."
Truer words have rarely been spoken. Even the implication of killing a beloved holiday icon is too risky. The previous Easter Eugene MacAndrews ran over a rabbit with his lawn mower, and by unfortunate coincidence the local kiddie egg hunt didn’t occur. Later that night a mob in bunny masks burned down the MacAndrews’ home.
So my parents swiftly conceived a plan. Then we spoke not a word, going straight to work. Mom went up on the roof to make the reindeer dash away, dash away all. Meanwhile, Dad dealt with Father Christmas’ corpse. He rolled Pere Noel up in a tarp from the garage. It took considerable effort, but acting with little care Dad dragged and stuffed St. Nick in the trunk of the car.
Mom came into the garage carrying a short whip. In disgust she said, "There's a whip in the sleigh. What kind of a person whips a defenseless animal?"
Dad asked, "Did you use it?"
"No! I fed them bits of apple then tossed a handful in the air, and they went off after them. They seemed very hungry. I'm starting to think he was not a good person."
“It’s entirely possible,” Dad said. Closing the trunk he added, “We’ll never really know.”
He got Santa's toy sack from the living room, jammed it in the back seat then we piled in the car, and drove off. For some reason, not yet clear to me, my parents insisted I come with. We stopped at a gas station to fill a can with gasoline. Afterwards, Dad took us to an abandoned mall on the edge of town. There he and Mom hoisted the dripping tarp into a dumpster.
While Dad poured gasoline inside the bin, Mom knocked on the car window. She gestured for me to come out. Still unsure why they needed me I reluctantly exited the car. When I neared the dumpster Dad got down on one knee.
Placing a hand on my shoulder he said, "Son, you're only six, so I don't expect you to fully get this, but in order to equally share the blame we all have to take part." He handed me a box of matches, "You'll understand when you're older."
"I'm not supposed to play with matches," I said.
Mom said, "This one time it's okay."
Doing my best to pretend like I didn't know how, I lit a match. As I cupped the tiny flame in my hands Dad picked me up. He held me over the dumpster, and I dropped it in.
For a minute we watched the fire bloom, observing this macabre Yule log because, as Mom insisted, we needed to be sure the body burned. We watched the crackling fire gradually turn green, and spit Christmasy sparks into the sky, a faint aroma of peppermint permeating the air. Then we went home, stopping briefly to deposit the sack in a drop-box for toy donations.
The next morning I went downstairs expecting to find nothing under the tree. However, I discovered a small stack of gifts. Seeing me shocked, my parents chuckled.
Dad said, “Those are from your Mom and me.”
“There’s always been something from us,” Mom said.
I couldn’t believe my good fortune. What a glorious Giftmas miracle: Santa dead, and kids still get gifts. Then I realized something: parents gave presents as well, but Santa got all the credit. It didn’t seem right. But it also made me wonder what would the world really be missing without Santa in it? Presents still end up underneath the tree. They just haven’t been delivered by some magical package handler. I know. My mom shot him, and I watched his corpse burn. It seemed to me the world would get on just fine without Santa Claus.
"Come my children gather round.
For I have sweets most profound.
Guaranteed to absolutely astound.
Some may even confound,
But the daring will be blessed
To be able to attest
Having got to ingest
Wonders one has never guessed."
To being curious what might manifest.
So paid the coin, and the barker ferried me within
To witness, tongue, touch, and listen
To delights beyond comprehension.
Words alone barely offer definition,
The spectacle remains, to those who've never known,
A reality that cannot be shown.
A photo might come close,
Yet like the most poetic prose
Hardly offers a sense of the aromatic,
Sensual caresses eliciting ecstatic
Cries demanding orgiastic
Pursuits of the orgasmic.
And when the hour expired
I found myself as if fired
Shot out into the street
Where reality could not meet
The ambrosial stimulation I needed,
So, unaware the hunger seeded,
I offered every penny I possessed
Until destitute, the fiend addressed
My lack of funds with a suggestion
I didn't hesitate to question.
He said, "Don't be nervous.
Perhaps you could work in my circus.
We always need players,
Part of the party makes you payer.
Well, enough to justify
Whatever needs you wish to satisfy."
Signing the parchment he produced
I instantly realized to what I'd been reduced.
So sought to drown sorrows,
And not worry until tomorrow's
Sun rise heralding my setting
I embraced this all-wetting
Circus of wonders euphoric
But now tainted, it grew dysphoric.
Exponentially less pleasing
Until the street dealer came teasing
He said, "There are layers
Each depth to answer evolving prayers,
But the price is steeper.
Nothing better gets cheaper."
And so began my descent from whore
I took comfort in being a nightmare
Sex in the latrine,
Gore beyond the mean
Set by the obscene
Mary Jane Kelly scene;
I went to the depths hoping to vanish
In the abyss, perhaps even banish
Any shred of a soul,
So have nothing to toll
My passage to Hell,
Forever hoping to dwell
In this circus infernal.
But no matter what my diurnal
I always unintentionally realized
No matter how well hid
I could not undo what I did.
Yet, perhaps I'd become demon enough
To convince the barker in manners rough
To let me go.
So I went to show
The devil I'd become,
And when he saw, he bid me welcome.
I demanded he release my soul whole,
And he started laughing out of control.
He said, "Dearest fool,
Let me impart a simple rule,
You should treasure as a jewel.
Before you incline
To anything asinine,
Read the contract before you sign."
He handed it to me then,
And reading I began to grimly comprehend.
I could quit at my choosing --
Fate within my control.
So the soul
Was always mine for the losing.
He destroyed me
Simply by allowing me to be.
I've been getting ready to do some spoken word for the Coffee & Whiskey variety show fundraiser. As such the story I penned for this week's post is dropping next week. Mainly I'm hoping to have a video, or at least audio of me performing it tomorrow. If you live in the Chicago area, please come on by. There's going to be a lot of quality acts.
In the meanwhile, I decided to put up some fresh art. The three pieces below are entitled "Sazerac Backlash", and "Electronic Voice Phenomenon 1 & 2", and "Empty by Drips". I mainly enjoyed putting together "Electronic Voice Phenomenon 1 & 2" because because it reminded me that simplicity is usually the best move, a lesson I learned after crafting "Sazerac Backlash". However, it's all good stuff. Enjoy! ...and remember you can find all this on our Instagram as well: https://www.instagram.com/jackblankhsh/
So a while back I did a creepy little video for the holidays. It was about a man who straight up loses his mind during an alcohol fueled depression, and murders his family with a shotgun. However, I always felt the music and vocals could've been better. In addition, I thought the video itself might have been too simple. Yet, I left it alone because I'm not big on constant revision. After a certain point you have to say this is the best I can do, I'm happy with the product, and whatever improvements should be aimed at the next project.
Still, as time went by, I started thinking why not go back to this piece? I can do much more now than when I first crafted it. The video is still simple, but the timing on some edits is much more solid. Also, using modest effects I think I added an extra level of visual creepiness. It's not technically in HD, though I find that's a good trick for hiding low budget effects. In addition, the music is much better than the original, and some lyrical changes were made to fit the music better. I also redid the vocals.
If you didn't catch the original release don't sweat it. This is a better version. Does that mean in three years I'll drop some other revised edition... I hope not, but only time will tell. And if you already enjoyed the original, I get a feeling you'll like this even more. In the meanwhile, enjoy "Daddy's Comin' Home for Christmas..."