Category Archives: Books

“Look What They’re Doing to My Children!”: Like Lambs to the Slaughter

"Look at what they're doing to my children!"The above is Johanna Michaelsen’s introduction to her bestselling 1989 book, Like Lambs to the Slaughter, a classic of the “fundamentalist moral panic” genre. That’s a bit like calling an inguinal hernia a classic groin injury, but never mind–if you’re in the mood for Reagan-era anti-educational hand-wringing or gruesome tales of babies getting scarfed down by Satanic daycare workers, this is the book for you!

Johanna Michaelsen

wn.com

It’s hard to know if Michaelsen is insane or extremely credulous: in all likelihood, she’s both. A former New Ager, she saw the light and became a born-again Christian some time in the late 1970’s. Unlike other lapsed fundies, however, Michaelsen has never straight-up repudiated her old beliefs. Ouija, spirit guides, ESP, numerology,  ghosts, parapsychology–according to her, that stuff’s all real. And it’s all the work of Satan.

Michaelsen’s first book, The Beautiful Side of Evil, was a memoir of her time as a spiritualist and was fairly well-read at the time. But her influence exploded when she became one of the loudest voices in the fight against Satanic ritual abuse. If you’re old enough, you probably remember SRA. Its legacy includes Michelle Remembers, the concept of false memories, and the realization that kids will say just about anything to win the approval of authority figures. At her height, Michaelsen was traveling the country, waxing hysterical about sex cults and babies being butchered in basements. She even got involved with Laurel Rose Wilson, alias Lauren Stratford, a con artist whose three alleged children were victims of snuff films and ritual sacrifice. Laurel Rose lived with Michaelsen until her claims were debunked, then skipped town and re-emerged as Laura Grabowski, a Holocaust survivor. Michaelsen doesn’t seem to have had much to say about this–she was probably too busy throwing up after touching cold spaghetti.

I promise that statement will make sense in due time.

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Find a Husband After 35: The Book That Almost Broke Me

You and I have been some strange places together, hypothetical reader. We’ve discovered the world of real life vampires, traversed the overly credulous soul-scape of angelic messengers, and held back waves of nausea in the face of sexy minotaurs. We’ve found God in a chat room and modeling advice in a 1960’s puberty pamphlet. We’ve seen Satanists, Bigfoots, and bad 80’s fashion. Some of the books we’ve analyzed have tested my patience. But none of them have pissed me off more than today’s feature.

Read these excerpts and tell me what year you think this book was published in.

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If you said the 1950’s, 1960’s, or the early pre-women’s-lib years of the 1970’s, I don’t blame you. If you said the year of our Lord two-thousand-god-damn-three, you have my condolences, because that probably means you’ve read this book before.

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Mall Crawl!: A Mall-Wide Used Book Sale

Yesterday, my husband and I went to Bookstock, which bills itself as the largest used book sale in Detroit. Fortunately, I was able to pick up half of Asimov’s Foundation series for three bucks. Unfortunately, I had to go to the mall to do it. I’m not crazy about the mall. Something about the lighting makes me feel like a confused bird that flew into somebody’s house and is desperate to get out. And I can only fling myself against the windows so many times before mall security escorts me off the premises.

Anyway, aside from Asimov, I bought one of the looniest dating advice books I’ve ever seen–coming soon to a blog post near you! I also took a lot of pictures. Here are some of the more interesting volumes I encountered, divided by subject matter just as they were at the book sale. Continue reading

Go Eat Lard: Cooking with the Victorians

Victorian woman making tea.When you think of the Victorian era, certain motifs come to mind. Thick fog. Tight corsets. Prudishness and its attendant euphemisms (“limb,” “invert,” “gross indecency”). Scientific adventure. Murdered prostitutes. Rapier wits. Tea parties. Plucky orphan waifs. Hansom cabs struggling through a meter of accumulated horse poop. The one thing you probably don’t think of is the cooking.

Before I continue, allow me to place bouquets on the graves of cultural sensitivity and historical context. I know that my own tastes do not apply to other eras. People throughout history have eaten things that, to my sensibilities, seem disgusting. However, by the same token, my own diet would disgust many of them. Which foodstuffs are palatable and which are garbage is completely a matter of opinion and upbringing.

With that disclaimer out of the way, allow me to state one thing unequivocally: the Victorians ate some crazy shit.

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Bad Romance: Four Bizarre Novels About Love & Sex

A week ago, my friend Matt sent me this image. I fell in love instantly.

But...You're a Horse

Man hands. I just realized the horse has MAN HANDS.

I’m both sad enough and wise enough to have heard of people who like to get it on with horses, but this…this was something entirely different. This was a full-blown horse-on-lady romance! Would they share a candlelit dinner of oats and sugar cubes? Canter down the beach an sunset? Break their legs after getting spooked by a snake and have to be put down? The possibilities were, if not endless, then at least appealingly weird.
Alas, my fragile heart was destined to be broken. But…You’re a Horse is not an actual horse romance. It’s not even a romance. It’s a comedy book written by David Bussell, a tome that someone–perhaps Bussell himself–decided to bestow with a hilarious but unrelated cover. I spent a sleepless night nursing my betrayal. And scheming. Always scheming…

The next day, I skimmed through Goodreads’ erotica directory and picked out the four weirdest books I saw. I then read them. What follows is a summary of the horrors contained therein. Sit back, pop a Dramamine, and prepare to have your world rocked in the sexiest possible way.

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Retro Moral Panic: HALLOWEEN AND SATANISM

There is more to Halloween...much more!Great news, everyone: my box of stupid books arrived yesterday! That means the next few weeks will be an orgy of bad writing, insane screes, and my attempts to summarize it all in a comprehensible manner. I thought we’d kick things off with this book, which hails from the late 1980’s and really looks it.

HALLOWEEN AND SATANISM Cover

Don’t worry, I didn’t actually pay ten dollars for this.

HALLOWEEN AND SATANISM–a fitting title for a jaunty romp through the annals of late-twentieth-century evangelical fear mongering! If you were alive during the late 80’s and early 90’s, you may remember the media waxing horrified about Ouija boards, D&D, and Satanic sex cults that upholstered their altars with flayed baby flesh. If you’re too young to have experienced those days, or have spent too much time drinking to forget them, this post ought to refresh your memory.

The co-authors of HALLOWEEN AND SATANISM are Joan Hake Robie, president of the publishing company that released the book, and Phil Phillips, a guy who once had a bad time at a haunted house and now wants to ruin Halloween for everybody. If you think I’m misrepresenting his motivations, that’s only because you haven’t read the first chapter of HALLOWEEN AND SATANISM.

If this is Halloween, who needs it?

“Wow,” you might be thinking. “Phil Phillips is a baby.”

And you’re absolutely right. He is a baby. A giant baby. If he were any more of a baby, a Satanic cult would baptize him, cut his head off, stick it on a black wafer, and ask it spiritual questions. (More on that later!) Phil Phillips is such a sucky infant that he felt the need to pathologize fear itself. Hence the central message of the book:

Fear Is Not of God

You read that right. Fear isn’t godly. Despite its seeming naturalness and obvious evolutionary utility, fear is a manifestation of Satan himself. If you ever feel fear, you’re giving in to Satan. If you purposely seek fear out–say, by visiting a haunted house–then congratulations! You’ve basically just thrown yourself on the devil’s sweaty loins. Let’s hope he’s a gentle lover.

Halloween is all about being scared, which makes it the ultimate Satanic holiday. How did we wind up enthralled to such a dark-sided tradition? Phillips and Hake Robie are here to give you the low-down.

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Announcement: Sky Pirate Wins SFR Galaxy Award!

Last week, I mentioned that I was doing voice acting and production assistance on The Misfit Fleet, a radio program written by my friends Finnegan O’Riordan and Maggie Roberts. Right after I made that post, Sky Pirate: Safe Harbor–the novel on which The Misfit Fleet is based–nabbed itself a SFR Galaxy Award for Best Transgender Hero. Congrats to Finnegan and his creation. I’m proud to be a part of it!

Sky Pirate: Safe Harbor
That’s all for this weekend. I ordered a whole mess of really stupid books off Amazon today–Satanic Halloweens, a real-life priest who thinks he’s a vampire hunter, the occultic influence of D&D, the most offensively-titled self-help tome EVER–so expect lots of equally stupid reviews soon. Till then, adieu!