Let Villains be Villains

Last November, Charles Manson finally passed away. Right around the time he died, the internet was flooded with people saying “R.I.P. Manson” and “so sad to see him pass” and other completely tasteless, idiotic things.

As you can probably tell, I have no sympathy for this man. He was a monster who literally brainwashed children to kill for him.

Now, I have read Helter Skelter and watched as many documentaries as I could find on the Manson Family, their crimes, and the following legal battles. I do find the story of Charles Manson fascinating and I’m probably safe in saying that I know more about him than the average citizen.So, in retrospect I guess it wasn’t a huge surprise when an acquaintance asked me if I was sad to see Manson die.

Of course not I wasn’t sad to see him die, I told them.  

Well, I know you like serial killers, they responded.

Which was fair, so I couldn’t really be offended. However, that conversation got me thinking about a recurring problem I’ve seen amongst true crime and even some horror movie fans: the inability to separate fantasy and reality.

Now, before I start talking about my theories behind this behavior and whatnot, I would like to acknowledge that some of these assholes are just that, assholes. I’m pretty sure most of us went through that “I’m so complex and no one understands me” phase when we were determined to shock our parents into thinking we were edgy. Thankfully, most of us grew out of that, but just based on the number of tweets I saw mourning Manson or the many Tumblr accounts I’ve seen that post artsy photos of the Columbine killers, I know some of us didn’t. These people are just looking to cause drama and, instead of dying their hair blue and piercing their face, decided to spit on the memories of these criminals’ victims.

I have thankfully matured enough to realize how tasteless that is and opted to pierce my lip and buzz my head instead. This way I’m only hurting myself while I show the world how edgy and cool I am. I might crochet throw blankets and sing show tunes to my ferrets, but I’m a bad bitch and my hair proves that.

Anyway, I should also admit that the people out there mourning Manson and fawning over the Columbine shoots are extreme cases. I don’t really need to prove that these people are being assholes. However, this trend of blurring the line between fantasy and reality also shows up in more subtle ways and it’s having a weird effect on the horror and true crime genres.

You ready for me to dive into some pseudo-psychological bullshit, Daniel? Brace yourself.

I think we as a culture have a difficult time understanding how to handle the concept of evil. We see things as black or white, good or evil, and therefore when we come across something that’s “evil” that we enjoy it’s hard for us to handle. We can’t be a good person and enjoy “evil” things, and so that evil thing must not be that evil.

A good, recent example of this was the reboot of Stephen King’s “It” in which the very attractive Bill Skaarsgard played the killer clown, Pennywise. I know you’re not on Tumblr, Daniel, so you’ll just have to take my word for it when I say Tumblr was ridiculous in the weeks following that movie’s release. The amount of extremely sexual Pennywise fanart and fanfiction that appeared on my Tumblr dash was unreal.

I won’t deny the fact I played into the mania a bit myself and made my fair share of “Float me, daddy” jokes. But that’s exactly what my comments were, jokes. I know that Pennywise is evil and that, given the chance, I would also shove a metal fence post through his face before I would ever hop into bed with him. Some Tumblr users on the other hand seemed to be crossing that line from harmless joking into actually wanting to sleep with this murderous, Lovecraftian monstrosity. A tad concerning in my opinion.

What I think happened is that, after seeing the movie, these people decided they liked Pennywise. Well, Pennywise is evil, which means they must be evil, but they’re not evil so instead Pennywise must not be that evil. So, in order to justify their love for this killer clown, these people just opted to pretend he wasn’t that bad. I’d bet that the same kind of logic is used to justify loving serial killers and criminals.

However, the world isn’t black and white. Liking a character/person/thing that is evil does not make you evil. It makes you human. It only becomes evil when you decide ignore the despicable things that character/person/thing did in order to justify your fascination with them. I can enjoy the story of the Manson Family, read Stephen King novels, and watch gorey horror movies and enjoy them while still understanding that these people are evil, that what they’re doing would never, ever be acceptable.

Basically, this entire argument boils down to the idea that you can like a villain and not necessarily be a villain. Let your bad guys be bad guys.

I feel like this is getting a bit rambly. I think I’ll cut it here and maybe pick this up in my next SDoS post. I have lots of thoughts about scary stories I want to share. Might just be time to bite the bullet and go back for my master’s in scary stories.



Poetry is Everywhere

I’m just going to come out and say it: People take poetry too seriously.

So many people I talk to think of poetry as this bougie, intellectual thing that people pretend to like to seem smarter at dinner parties. Poetry is like dry red wine or Ernest Hemingway novels, available everywhere, but you can’t find a single person who genuinely likes it for what it is. Now, I find this absolutely baffling because I actually like poetry. No, I’m not trying to impress anyone or look smarter. I like poetry and I like reading it, but that’s because I have never taken it too seriously.

I think the issue is how we are introduced to poetry. More often than not, a person’s first introduction to poems is in some type of high school class in which a stuffy teacher recites flowery sonnets and then forces the class to write a five page essay on the symbolism and word choices of that poet. It seems like we’re taught from a young age that poetry is this complex, abstract thing that needs to be carefully dissected to be fully understood. It takes effort to enjoy it properly and that is utter bullshit in my opinion.

Poetry is defined as, “the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure.”  Basically, poetry is any and every combination of words that you find pleasant. And, as is often the case, you get to decide what you find pleasant and why. It doesn’t take a five page essay and a deep understanding of things like alliteration, symbolism, and rhyming schemes to know that you like the way something sounds or makes you feel.

A few months ago, one of my coworkers found me in my office reading a collection of E.E. Cummings poems. She said something along the lines of, “Wow, you’re so smart. I need to read poetry.” Well, after that, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I have no idea what his poetry is supposed to be about. I just like it because it’s fun to read out loud.

My favorite poem by Cummings is “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town,”

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

Read that out loud.

Isn’t it fun? It’s got this rhythm to it. It’s like music.

Do I have any idea what it means? Absolutely not. In my opinion, good poetry is sometimes like pop music. Meaningless and fun, and that’s okay.

On the topic of my favorite poems, some of my favorites aren’t even poems. They’re single lines of text that I found on Twitter or Tumblr or in a novel that just resonated with me. Here are some of my favorites:  

“What a blessed if painful thing, this business of being alive.” – Joe Hill

“Do sharks complain about Monday. No. They’re up early, biting stuff, chasing shit, being scary – reminding everyone they’re a fucking shark.” – Tumblr 

“What can be done when you’re eleven can often never be done again.” – Stephen King

“Believe in yourself. You are an ancient, absent god, discussed only rarely by literary scholars. So if you don’t believe, no one will.” – Welcome to Nightvale

I love these “mini poems” because they say something deep and profound without burying it underneath a lot of unnecessary prose or rhymes. Straight and to the point while still being lyrical and beautiful. Poetry doesn’t have to be obscure to be well done or pleasant.

Now, I could continue talking about this for a while, but I’m down in Vancouver for work and just finished up a two-day science communication conference. I’m ready for a fucking beer.

“I’m ready for a fucking beer.” Look, a new poem.



Nerd Lite™

Nerd Lite

/nərd līt/

Adjective, informal  

A person who has some knowledge of a nerd subject, but not enough to be considered an expert or “super-fan” of the subject.

“I could tell you all of the captains’ names from Star Trek, but I can’t remember the rest of the Enterprise crew. I’m a bit nerd lite when it comes to Star Trek.”


I am definitely a little bit of a nerd. I play Pathfinder every weekend, I basically have the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time memorized, and I religiously follow the release of new horror films. I’m also surrounded by nerds, including my husband who has been playing tabletop roleplaying games since he was a child, a close friend who has an eidetic memory when it comes to fantasy character names and quotes, and my regular GM who listens to H.P. Lovecraft stories to help him sleep.

Well, being surrounded by such huge nerds, I sometimes feel like a fake nerd. But then, when I go back to work and talk about my life, people look at me like I’m the biggest nerd they’ve ever seen. The first time I ever experienced this weird dichotomy was when I went to see “Trek in the Park” in Portland with a friend who has literally seen every Star Trek episode multiple times. I felt like such a wannabe nerd hanging out with her. Well then I went back to work and told my coworker I got to see “Trouble with Tribbles” performed live over the weekend. She didn’t know what tribbles were, which was so strange to me. To me, tribbles are like culturally iconic. Even non-Trekkies know what a tribble is, but then I had to explain it to her. I felt like a huge nerd.  

That’s when I came up with the term nerd lite. I’m definitely a nerd, but when it comes to some topics I’m not a “huge” nerd. I’m still a nerd, but with fewer calories. Nerd lite.

There are lots of things I’m nerd lite about besides Star Trek, including Star Wars, World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy, and H.P. Lovecraft to name just a few. Some of these things I picked up just because they’re such an integral part of our culture while others I picked up from my friends who are serious nerds. Sometimes nerdy things are like colds, you can’t help but pick them up when in proximity with someone who has it.

Unfortunately, we live in an age full of elitist nerds who will try to make people feel bad for not being nerdy enough. Nerd lite would be an insult to them, as much as nerd used to be in the 80s and 90s.

It was John Green who said, “When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is, ‘You like stuff,’ which is not a good insult at all, like, ‘You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness”

I love this description and honestly think it defends both the people who are too nerdy and the people who are nerd lite. When someone calls me a fake nerd what they’re saying is, ‘You do not like this thing enough in my opinion,’ which is one hundred percent bullshit.

You are allowed to like a thing as much as you want. You are allowed to like a thing because your friend likes it and you like your friend. You are allowed to only know bits and pieces about a thing and still enjoy it.

And when it comes to being nerd lite, you are allowed to exist in both worlds. There’s no such thing as a hard line between a nerd and a non-nerd. Like many things, nerdiness is on a spectrum and right in the middle of that spectrum is nerd lite.



Five Nights at Freddy’s Kept Me from Writing

So Daniel, do you want to know what I did instead of writing last night? What I did instead of writing over lunch today at work? What I’ve been doing this evening? Well, I won’t say I completely wasted my time, I did get a lot of work done today in the office and I cleaned the ferret cage, but a majority of my time was watching Five Nights at Freddy’s theory videos on Youtube.

You heard me right. Instead of working on a blog we’ve literally been running for more than two years, I obsessed over a fucking video game franchise that probably should have died four years ago after the second game came out. I literally watched all of Markiplier’s playthroughs of the games, including all of his “hard mode” playthroughs and the extra videos which just replayed his best jump scare reactions. Then I watched every single video on Game Theory about the game, fascinated by how the six games and two books came together into one cohesive and horrific timeline.

I’m almost ashamed to admit I’ve also been watching Markiplier play through all of the FNAF knock offs, including Five Nights at the Chum Bucket, a fucking Spongebob reboot of this god forsaken game. I went from zero to fully addicted in the span of like three days and I haven’t even played the games. But don’t worry, I’ve got the books on hold at the library because I cannot help myself.

Is this a symptom of my obsessive compulsive order? Now that I actually recognize what OCD is, having meticulously destroyed my skin while coping with anxiety, I rarely use the term OCD in a joking way, like using it to justify my need to have the TV volume on a multiple of five. But this habit of mine, this burning hot and heavy on an obsession for a few weeks and then dropping it quickly, feels like a compulsion. Maybe it is?

Anyway, this is not meant to be a sad post about mental illness. Let’s get back on track.

In retrospect, I should have known this would happen. If I had read the synopsis of FNAF before I just happened to click on Markiplier’s video, I would have pegged it as my future obsession.

Initially I had ignored it, writing the game off as a Hot Topic-esque trend for preteen edgelords, but now that I’ve experienced it, it is so up my alley.

Cute, seemingly harmless things that are actually very dangerous and deadly? A mysterious serial killer luring kids to their deaths using party costumes? Horrible deaths involving machines accidentally crushing their victims and mangling their corpses? Lots of hidden details and Easter eggs that add up to a more complex, horrific story? It’s like it was written for me! I am a self described pastel edgelord. I love skulls and shit, but I can rock the fuck out of a pastel skirt.

Also, it’s basically a B-flick horror movie come to life, filled with cheesy jump scares and purposefully over-the-top effects. If I could go back to 2014 Emily and tell her about this game, I’m sure she would jump on the bandwagon immediately, fuck how popular the game is.

Now, who wants to put bets on how long this obsession lasts? Definitely going to play the games and read the books, how long do you think that will take?


P.S. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of poetry. I’ve always been something of an amateur poet myself and I’ve decided I want to put together a poetry collection of my own. Over the next few months, I might use my SDoS posts to test run some of my poetry. Hope that’s okay! 

I’m also telling you about this now because I need someone to hold me accountable. I can’t spend my time watching FNAF videos all the time. Sometimes I need to write.

Avoiding a Reading Hangover

So we are three weeks into 2018 and I am currently on my fourth book of my fifty book goal. Needless to say, I have been reading a lot these past few weeks.

This isn’t anything new for me. When I was younger, I would read for hours and hours and hours and never get bored. I’m even considered an excessive read by my family’s standards and we come from a family of avid readers. Don’t you agree, Daniel? Am I not the craziest reader of our clan?

Anyway, there have only been a few times in my life when I’ve experienced reading burn out. Most of those instances were in college when I was required to read so many text books that by the time I was done with my homework, all I wanted to do was stare at the wall and not think. The latest instance of reading burn out I experienced was two days ago when I finished the second book in The Expanse science fiction series, Caliban’s War. I started the book on Friday and, after a few marathon reading sessions, finished it on Tuesday. That’s about 100 pages a day and apparently that was enough to leave me feeling pretty drained on Wednesday.

Wednesday night I pulled out It Devours, the newest Welcome to Nightvale novel, and had every intention of starring it, but just couldn’t find the energy. My brain just could not take it. I ended up playing a mindless phone game and watching Netflix, something simple and not requiring a whole lot of thought.

In retrospect, this past week I forgot to follow my rules for avoiding reading burn out, or what I like to call a reading hangover. I call it this because I basically use the same rules to avoid it that I use to avoid a real hangover.

Rule #1: Pace yourself

Five beers in one hour equals a massive hangover. Five beers over five hours not so much. Same rule applies for books. Don’t rush through and make sure to give yourself breaks. This isn’t a race.

This also means that, once I’ve finished a book, I’ll usually wait to start the next one until the next day. I usually need a night to relax and let my mind digest what it read, otherwise I burn myself out.

Rule #2: One kind at a time

When I drink, I try to stick to one type of alcohol. If I’m drinking beer, I try not to mix it with whiskey or wine or vodka because I know my system will get all jumbled and I’ll be sick the next day. When it comes to reading, I have the same philosophy. One book at a time otherwise I’ll get all jumbled.

Rule #3: Seek out some variety

Sometimes I’ll get used to a beer. If I’ve had the beer enough times, I’ll stop tasting the alcohol and will suddenly be able to drink a bunch and not feel drunk. Well, I may not feel drunk, but I’ll still get the hangover. When I read, I like to bring a little variety into my selections. If I’ve just read a horror novel, I’ll read a fantasy novel next. I need to make sure I’m still engaged with the content, otherwise it becomes easy to forget what I’m doing and burn out.

Well this week I forgot to follow my own rules and yesterday I paid for it. Hopefully this evening I’ll feel well enough to actually pick it up again.



Lowering the Bar for 2018


Let me just say that I’m super proud of you, Daniel. You did so many cool things this past year and listening to you talk about everything you achieved inspires me to do more with my time.

While you did achieve a lot of what you wanted to do this past year, I feel like I barely did anything. I had some lofty goals at the beginning of 2017, including running a half marathon and teaching myself calligraphy. Did any of that happen? Well, I did read forty books, which is pretty cool. Still feel like I could’ve done more, ya know?

This year I’m going to set goals for myself again, but instead of creating incredibly lofty goals, I think I’m going to keep mine simple. Some may call this lowering the bar, I call this celebrating the little steps I can take to help me reach my incredibly lofty goals.

Here are my incredibly simple, straightforward goals for 2018.

Read more books.

This past year I read a lot and I’ve told myself a couple times that, in 2018, I’ll push myself and read 60 books. Well, we’re only five days into 2018 and I already feel like that goal is too high. I feel like I’m setting myself up for failure by dedicating myself to five books a month.

So, instead, my goal is just to read more. I’d like to read 50 books, but as long as I match what I read last year, I’ll be happy.

I also want to read more horror novels by women and people of color. I realized over this last year that a lot of my favorite authors are white guys, which is just sad. I’m not saying Stephen King and Jack Ketchum and Joe Hill aren’t good writers, I just want there to be more diversity in the books I read. And the only way to make things more diverse is to actively try to make it so. I can’t just hope more women and people of color get popular, I need to work for it. If I just keep reading horror novels with great reviews, I’m going to read a lot of stuff by white guys. I want to give other people a chance.

Watch less Netflix.

Now when I say watch less Netflix, what I actually mean is I need to stop using streaming services to “fill time.” More often than not, I’ll spend a few hours on the couch watching something I’ve seen a million times just because it’s comfortable. It’s safe, in a way.

My goal for 2018 is to do that less. I don’t just want to fill time, I want to enjoy my time and I can do that by only using Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Youtube to watch things that I actually want to watch. Stop re-watching the same things over and over and broaden my viewing horizons a bit. There are thousands of horror movies I haven’t seen and yet I’m re-watching Roseanne. Sad. 

Save money.

This has literally been goal of mine since I graduated college. I just need to save more money so I don’t end up going into debt every time a big bill hits. To help me achieve this goal, I’m going to try to do less retail therapy. I need to stop spending money on things just because I can. Now, I can still buy things I want, but only if I really want them and not because I need to “treat myself.”

I also want to spend less money on beer that’s just for me. I like craft beer because it’s something I can share with my friends. It’s an experience! Well, it’s not an experience when I’m sitting at home watching a movie by myself and drinking a beer I’ve had millions of times before. Basically, I sometimes treat beer like I treat Netflix. I spend my money on beer I’ve had before because it’s safe, not because I’m enjoying it. Of course, I’ll still buy beer for myself once in a while, but I don’t need to be spending $60 a month on Black Butte Porter. I could be spending that on stuff I’ve never had before!

Write more.

Again, this is literally a goal I’ve had since the dawn of time. I just want to write more.

In middle school, I wrote every single day and I had notebooks full of fanfictions and funny stories and poetry. Nowadays, I write like once a week and it’s not because I’m passionate about something, it’s more because I feel obligated.

Well, guess what, if obligation is what gets me writing then I’m going to need more of it.

What I specifically want to do is set up a writing schedule for myself and stick to it. No more of this waiting for inspiration or to feel passionate about it bull crap. That doesn’t work anymore. I need to change up my tactics.

Now, my goal is to write a novella and maybe a book of poetry by the end of the year, but that goal comes later. Right now, my goal is just to write more than once a week and to start writing things for myself rather than for work.

Take time for education.

Like I said in my last post, I work at an institution that gives its employees access to college level courses for $5 and yet I’ve only taken advantage of that a couple of times.

Of course, I have big, lofty goals for my education like going back to grad school and becoming a certified cicerone, but for now I’m going to start simple. I just want to make more time for my education, take more time to learn new things because it’s fun.

There are so many free online resources I can take advantage of. Last year, I was enrolled in a introduction to law course and a course on HTML coding for free through Coursera. Did I finish either class? Nope!

That just means I need to make more time for it.

Do more things with my time.

And to wrap up my 2018 goals, I just want to do more things with my time. Right now my free time is taken up mostly by Netflix, reading, crocheting, and work, which means I’m incredibly boring. I want to change that. I want to do more.

Some things I’m planning to do more of this year, mostly because it will give me things to do during the time I’m usually re-watching Gilmore Girls, are play more video games, get back into drawing and painting, listen to more podcasts, and try out different types of exercise besides running. I want to be an interesting person and right now all I can list under the hobbies section are reading and crocheting.

So there you go, those are my goals for this coming year. Yep, I pulled the bar way down for this year, but it’s worth it if in January 2019 I can look back and feel like I accomplished something. Setting myself up for failure isn’t a good thing. 



My Reading List in 2017

I had big plans at the beginning of this year. I planned to go back to school, to teach myself calligraphy and knitting, to establish myself as a freelance writer.

Did any of this happen?


However, I did reach one goal. At the beginning of the year, I decided I wanted to read more. When I was younger, I was a voracious reader. I basically read a book a day and it was magical. I lived at the bookstore and giddily marked book release dates on the calendar. Reading was my whole life! 

Well, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped reading as much. I would love to blame this on my new responsibilities, like my job, my home, and my bills, but it really comes down to the fact that I’m just not as interested in reading as I used to be. When I get home from work, I prefer to sit on the couch and watch Netflix or goof around on my phone to reading. Reading is just not as magical as it used to be for me.

So, in 2017, I decided to dedicate more of my spare time to reading. I didn’t want to overload myself, so I set a very reasonable goal of reading 40 books by December 31, 2017. That’s a little more than three books a month. I could do that.

And guess what. I did it!

In 2017, I read 40 books. It’s the only one of my 2017 New Years resolutions I kept and I’m incredibly proud of myself.

Now, I know fifteen-year-old Emily would scoff at such a low number.

“Only 40 books?” she would say. “I can read that may in half the time.”

Well, fuck off teenager Emily. I set myself a goal and I achieved it, so you can take your elitist bullshit and shove it up your ass. 

And, guess what! I still managed to binge all the Netflix shows on my list. Talk about good time management! I was able to be a responsible adult, read more, and still be a lazy bum and watch Netflix for ten hours straight. 

In 2017, here’s what I read:

  1. The Troop – Nick Cutter 
  2. The Wendigo – Algernon Blackwood
  3. Cannibals of Candyland – Carlton Mellick III
  4. Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
  5. Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger – Stephen King
  6. Dark Tower II: The Drawing of Three – Stephen King
  7. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
  8. Gumption – Nick Offerman
  9. Midnight Crossroad – Charlaine Harris
  10. Day Shift – Charlaine Harris
  11. Hannibal Rising – Thomas Harris
  12. Red Dragon – Thomas Harris
  13. Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris
  14. Hannibal – Thomas Harris
  15. Off Season – Jack Ketchum
  16. Offspring – Jack Ketchum
  17. Red – Jack Ketchum
  18. Helter Skelter – Vincent Bugliosi
  19. Horns – Joe Hill
  20. 1984 – George Orwell
  21. It – Stephen King
  22. Treasure Island – robert Stevenson
  23. Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  24. Boneshaker – Cherie Priest
  25. My Friend Dahmer – Derf Backderf
  26. Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman
  27. The Gothic – Nick Groom
  28. Supernatural Horror – H.P. Lovecraft
  29. Wicca: A Guide – Scott Cunningham
  30. Apt Pupil – Stephen King
  31. The Exorcist – William Blatty
  32. Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn
  33. Welcome to Nightvale – Joseph Fink
  34. The Long Walk – Richard Bachman
  35. Stormfront – Jim Butcher
  36. Fool Moon – Jim Butcher
  37. Grave Peril – Jim Butcher
  38. The Beast Within – Edward Levy
  39. Thinner – Richard Bachman
  40. NOS4A2 – Joe Hill

In 2018, I’m thinking about aiming for 60.

Happy holidays, everyone!