Posts Tagged ‘Fear


Lessons in Mortality, with Pizza

    A little airy-fairy.
A little airy-fairy.

This cute musical duo called MGMT has a new video for “Electric Feel,” the second single off their debut album, that I am obsessed with a little bit.

I’m always a sucker for thin, cute, scruffy boys. And these guys seem to perpetually have their shirts off. They’re a little airy-fairy for my taste. They’re, like, all mystic pagan and stuff. Which I’m sure is, like, really cool and stuff. But I’m willing to go along with them, up to a point.


They dance in the woods with their cute human and animal friends. They pull the moon down and cut it open like a boiled egg and spread moon juice on each other. Then they put the moon back in the sky. What could be more adorable — and responsible — right?

The creepiest part of the video is about a minute and a half into the clip, when we get a glimpse of something that brings me back to an uncomfortable childhood memory. We see a hillbilly bear strumming a rough-hewn banjo, a space dog on drums, a disco gorilla on keyboards, and who knows what else, acting as their band. They are the animatronic characters from Showbiz Pizza Place (called the Rock-afire Explosion, I have recently learned), and they terrified me as a little kid.

Rock-afire Explosion
Yikes! Who can keep down their dinner with this staring out at them?

Showbiz Pizza and Chuck E. Cheese’s and establishments of that ilk were fun for two reasons: mass quantities of pizza, and video games.

But they’d also stage these little rock shows where the robotic house band would perform some reworked pop songs and tell jokes and banter with each other. I sort of looked forward to it, they way you look forward to the money shot in a slasher movie. But, like those movies, when the money shot came, I found I could not look any more.

Whenever a character spoke, a spotlight would shine on it, revealing an eerily glowing plastic and fur behemoth with a curve to the mouth and a roundness of the eye that was meant to suggest friendliness but always came off as much more sinister. Their eyes and mouths snapped open and shut. Their movements appeared jerky and repetitive. Stand close enough and you could hear the mechanical skeletons clicking and clacking. The mouse cheerleader was the worst! And when the whole mess of them was moving at the same time, it felt like at any moment they might leap off the stage and carry me off to their evil robot lair where they would tear me to pieces and use me for spare parts.

They’re all over YouTube now in videos where they have been programmed with songs hilariously inappropriate for their pre-pubescent audience. It is brilliant, and it underscores their unavoidable creepiness.

See what I mean? “Electric Feel” by MGMT



A Disaster Waiting

Everyone has something that sets his hair on end. Fingernails on a chalkboard. A high-pitched dog yapping. Bugs and spiders. An old high school friend of mine could not even bear to look at a picture of a snake in a science book. I know someone for whom the thought of touching raw wood is literally nauseating. Mixing that brownie batter with a wooden spoon? As good as a toothbrush down the throat. A doctor with a tongue depressor? Call an ambulance.

For me, it’s glass — from a paper-thin martini glass to a gigantic window pane. This morning, walking the dog we’re sitting this week, I was already annoyed that she was stopping for a thorough examination of every five feet of sniffable surface. But when she picked a tree to piss on that placed me right next to a parked glass-delivery truck, my ankles began to sweat.

The truck backed up, and I tugged the lead slightly to encourage Honey to move on. I eyed the layered panes, completely stationary and secure yet still threatening at any moment to spontaneously shatter and explode, embedding irretrievable shards into my face and neck and arms. I imagined one of the larger ones buckling under its own weight to send a shimmering guillotine sliding down on my neck.

How does that truck make it all the way from the shop without shattering its cargo all across the highway? Why are the sheets of glass all arranged on the outermost edges of the truck bed — where they can do ordinary citizens the most harm? How do those workers each still have all 10 of their fingers? How can you allow small children and old people to pass within close proximity of this truck?

I have also always intensely disliked floor-to-ceiling mirrors. For one thing, in a home it’s usually just tacky and done for all the wrong reasons. (Want to make your room look bigger? Knock out a wall. Move into a different apartment.) Mostly, though, it’s just the sheer size of that sheet of glass. Moving a large unframed mirror from a friend’s apartment to another friend’s pickup truck, there was a moment when I thought it might slip through the gap between the elevator and the floor. It could easily happen. Loosen your grip for less than a blink, and someone’s certain death is suddenly hurtling through 32 floors of elevator shaft.

Glass table tops? Gag me. Ever see Heathers? Or that other movie (I think it’s a David Lynch) where the guy falls into the corner of a glass coffee table and it hacks halfway into his head — starting with the eye — like a sharp hatchet through a boiled egg?

When I first moved to my neighborhood, I met my ultimate horror in a set of glass shelves in a storefront window. Rising maybe five or six levels, each horizontal pane is suspended by a set of four tall, narrow pint glasses. A little too much weight on any one shelf, and you’ve got yourself a death scene. What merchandise could possibly be worth such a risk?

the untallied hours