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Author Topic: Pseudopod 522: The Christmas Spirits – A Tale of the White Street Society  (Read 789 times)
Bdoomed
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« on: December 24, 2016, 05:49:52 PM »

Pseudopod 522: The Christmas Spirits – A Tale of the White Street Society

by Grady Hendrix.

The Christmas Spirits was first published in “Tales of the White Street Society” in December 2012.

Grady Hendrix writes fiction, also called “lies,” and he writes non-fiction, which people sometimes accidentally pay him for. This includes the Freaky Friday column at Tor.com, which is a must-read for horror fans looking for books to avoid. He is the author of Horrorstör, the only novel about a haunted Scandinavian furniture store you’ll ever need. It has been translated into 14 languages and is being turned into a television show by Gail Berman (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), and Josh Schwartz (Gossip Girl). They have never met Grady, but that is their loss. His new novel is called My Best Friend’s Exorcism, about demonic possession, friendship, exorcism, and the Eighties. Take some of those gift cards you’re bound to get and pop over to Quirk Books and pick both novels up. Horrorstör is especially worthwhile in hard copy, because as ephemera, it brilliantly skewers the ubiquitous IKEA catalog.

While you’re perusing their shop, go download the coloring book for My Best Friend’s Exorcism.

Your narrator this week is the Supreme Mugwump and Keeper of the Big Red Button. He was briefly employed as a circus geek until an unfortunate mix-up involving a prize-winning fighting cock. Its owner had ties not only to the carnival, but also to the Russian mob, so now he writes supplements for role playing games, where he exercises his superpower to make you appreciate the Sixth Doctor. He has played for the national rugby team after defeating the monstrous four-horned sheep across his home island. He is a regular contributor to Tor.com, and he owns a bunch of awesome podcasts.



Another true horror story of the season mentioned in the intro can be found here.



Info on Anders Manga’s album (they do our theme music!) can be found here.



“You can have your Paris, your London, your Vienna, your Rome; for this good Christian there is no city more sublime than New York at Christmastime. As I walked to the White Street Society clubhouse I sucked in great gulps of cold Yuletide air until my lungs froze solid with Christmas cheer. My feet were numbed with holiday spirit as they tramped the icy streets. My face and whiskers were chapped with all the joy of the season. Six carolers raced past me in the opposite direction, screaming, their exposed skin red and blistered with burns, their wet clothes steaming, flesh hanging from one of their faces in sheets. I smiled to myself a secret Christmas smile, for this meant that my good friend Augustus Mortimer was home.

‘God rest you, merry gentleman!’ I shouted in gay spirits, as I pounded on his front door. ‘Augustus? It is William! Come a’wassailing this December eve! Augustus?’

I felt something poking me in the midsection and directed my gaze downwards to behold the blade of a saber protruding from the mail slot and halfheartedly prodding me. It was sharpened to a murderous gleam, but as I was wrapped in many cloaks, and carpets, and coats, and shawls to protect myself against the Christmas chill, I felt only a gentle massaging about my tummy.

‘Augustus!’ I smiled, squatting down and peering through the mail slot. ‘Is stabbing any way to greet a visitor on this fifth night of Advent?’ “





Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
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Rhio2k
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« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2016, 12:28:48 PM »

OMG this one was hilarious!!
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2016, 10:12:03 AM »

The White Street Society!

These stories are SO bizarrely hilarious.  If they were told in a less over-the-top fashion, you might be able to mistake them for being told straight, that these are the author's prejudices not just the characters, but they are cranked up to such an extreme that they become clear parody at that point.  These stories make me cringe and laugh simultaneously in a way that few manage.  Extra points for expertly hitting a very narrow niche of humor that's hard to get just right.

The Scroogely character who is a scholar of all things Christmas only so that he can combat it in any way possible was a good way to tackle the holiday in this established fictional environment.

The one thing that I found a bit of a stretch was that this Christmas scholar, who was already aware of Krampus among the other traditions, did not immediately recognize the significance of the specific date of December 5th.  I am by no means a Christmas scholar, but I know that December 5th is Krampusnacht in some Germanic cultures, and that Krampus is meant to abduct particularly naughty children.  Also, the same for Ms. Von Hitler not thinking of this.  Perhaps it was meant that they were all too practical to believe in such legends until those legends appear before them?  But on the other hand, when faced with Santa Claus their immediate reaction is "THIS IS THE MYTHICAL SANTA CLAUS", rather than thinking what I may have thought in that circumstance: "This is a burglar dressed as Santa Claus" (the evidence of Krampus being Krampus is much clearer given the animal-hybrid nature and freakishly long tongue, rather than just a rotund dude in a red fur suit).   I'm assuming this was not mentioned before Krampus in the story to provide dramatic tension and surprise, but given the context that didn't really make sense to me.

Among other things, it was interesting that this one faced the prejudices of this group with the prejudices of another (references to racial purity at the root of the Nazi party) and found it contemptible. 

Was I the only one wondering if this was partly a back story for Adolf Hitler, considering the time period, the references to the Germans favoring racial purity, and the surname of Ms. Von Hitler?  My thought as the story went on was that perhaps Ms. Von Hitler adopts one of the orphans, names him Adolf, and they move to Germany.  Perhaps Adolf was one of the children who Krampus would've hauled away, but by their heroic act they prevented the abduction? 
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doctornemo
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« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2017, 09:40:37 AM »

Fantastic.  What a fun tale.  Reminds me of Mark Aylett and Hunter S. Thompson.

This is my first exposure to White Street radiation, so I will now hunt more to bask in its rays.
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Fenrix
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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2017, 12:18:45 AM »

I knew everything that was coming and it still made me laugh out loud. In the car by myself.

But seriously folks. That Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade video *shudder*
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Moritz
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2017, 01:50:20 AM »

As a German, I found the use of Nazi-names rather silly. Sure, Goering is a name that you might stumble upon now and then. I even had a girl named Mengele in my high school class. But Hitler was really rare even at that time (and I never heard of anyone named Hitler past 1945). I knew it was an over the top story, but those names were just too much.

Pronunciation nitpick: please be consistent how you pronounce your "st".
Northern German: "st"
Standard German: "sht" at the beginning of a syllable, "st" at the end
Southern German: "sht"
So if you pronounce "Strudel" with a "sht", you also need to pronounce other "st"s like "sht"
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