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Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

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Location: Surreality, Have Fun Will Travel, Past Midnight before a Workday

Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Something For the Dark

If you believe in the devil, you belong to him.
- Thomas Mann

It's Friday night, and school is out! Time enough at last for my favorite creepy crawlies. I recommend revisiting anthologies you enjoyed as a kid to read the stories you skipped before - and to reread the ones that scared the crap out of you. Like this dastardly little collection:

I especially recommend the stories "Something for the Dark" and "The Other Celia." Fun stuff.

"Ritual abuse" stories, a staple of the daytime schlock TV circuit in the 1990s, have certainly fallen off the map. Here is an interesting article: "Interpreting the Satanic Legend."

But really for enthralling reading I offer this gem, an excellent example of investigative reporting by Mark Opsasnick as he traces the supposed "true story" behind the so-called exorcism that inspired both the best-selling novel and the movie. In the process, he exposes the sloppy and downright irresponsible "what-he-said" hearsay and rumor-mongering that masquerades as "journalism."

Part 1: Feeling Devilish?

Emphasis on Blatty’s inspiration for The Exorcist intensified after the novel was released in May 1971, went to the top of the best-seller lists, and began receiving movie offers from Hollywood. The first of many major publications to consider Blatty’s literary sources was The New York Times, which weighed in with an article by Chris Chase on August 27, 1972 titled “Everyone’s Reading It, Billy’s Filming It.” The article chronicles how director William Friedkin became involved in the project and touches upon the fact that Blatty based his novel on a local story of demonic possession that he learned of while attending college.

Part 2: After the Movie

Media interest peaked after the movie’s release and subsequent success. The most fascinating and in-depth article ever to appear on the subject appeared in the January 1975 edition of Fate magazine. In a feature titled “The Truth Behind The Exorcist,” author Steve Erdmann reveals never-before-known information regarding the facts behind the story.

Part 3: Debunking the Myth of 3210 Bunker Hill Road, Mount Rainier

Rumors that the haunted boy had actually lived at 3210 Bunker Hill Road in Mount Rainier have been around since the early ’80s and have mostly been spread by neighborhood teens and newcomers to the area, who have raised the aura surrounding this location to urban legend proportions... I realized, however, that there was no evidence demonstrating that the family ever lived in Mount Rainier in the first place. Something was amiss.

Part 4: Friends and Neighbors Speak Out

Since J. C. was one of the very few who actually knew that Rob was going through this phase at the time and was able to observe the situation firsthand, I asked him if he thought the boy was actually possessed by the devil, and he responded...

Part 5: Truth and Consequences

After talking with so many people who had personally known Rob Doe it was disheartening to review the published material on the case from a new perspective and observe the various discrepancies between what has been written by others and what was told to me by individuals close to the family in question.

Reporters aren't supposed to be perpetuating urban myths and rumors - they should leave that to the experts - the fiction writers.

Yes, the fiction writers. Wah ha ha!

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Blogger Joshua said...

I'd throw in Shadows Over Baker Street. It's Sherlock Holmes meets Lovecraft's Mythos. Which is just as awesome as it sounds.

One of the stories in the collection is written by Neil Gaiman, as well. =)

June 06, 2008 10:04 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...


I'm looking forward to reading Lovecraft again - and finishing a Shirley Jackson anthology that I never finished.

June 06, 2008 10:08 PM  
Blogger jeffox said...

I remember when I visited Wash. D.C. as a part of the Close-Up program. On more than one occasion the bus went past the house in Georgetown (as I recall) where the movie was filmed. Of course, at that time, my mom wouldn't have let me see that kind of movie, so I was a bit ignorant. The other kids weren't, though.

Really, it looked like any other house to me.

The highlight of the second trip I took was when HHH himself spoke to our group, about a month before he died. He was a great man, I can tell you. Anyways. . . .

June 07, 2008 2:20 AM  
Blogger Christopher said...

Yep. Sounds like it's time for me to put down Pinnochio (although Collodi's novel is pretty darned dark in places) and pick up Joyce Carol Oates again.
Anytime I hear The Exorcist described as a "true story" or even "based on a true story" I wonder if the speaker also believes a young boy who killed himself can be seen in the background in one scene in Three Men And A Baby. Of course the most disturbing thing about that film is that it's directed by Leonard Nimoy.

June 08, 2008 3:43 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

I wonder if the speaker also believes a young boy who killed himself can be seen in the background in one scene in Three Men And A Baby

Say, what?

June 09, 2008 10:28 AM  

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