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Ghost Stories

I’m almost tempted to borrow a technique or two from the late, great Edgar Rice Burroughs that was used to great effect in many of his novels. such as Beyond The Farthest Star where, the words of Tangor were automatically typed before his eyes as if by ghostly hands; or as in Lost On Venus, where the words and experiences of Carson Napier came to him telepathically and Burroughs’ only role was that of a mere scribe. I sort of like that little conceit. It’s charming and ancient and if what I write is not to mine or anyone’s liking, I can blame it all on ghosts.

With the World Cup final approaching, and by the time this is read by some or many or anyone, the carnage of that beautiful game will be in the books, I thought a few ghost stories would be in order. It’s a summer anime tradition—either telling ghost stories around a campfire, or a kimodameshi–or both. It should be another of those laws of anime, but apparently isn’t.

But I’m fully capable of conceit without resorting to one. So what I tell, what little I will tell, will no doubt be more than ghostly or ghostlike….wispy and immaterial….hopefully reveal the soul of something, but more likely the words will wander around like zombies until someone clubs them (or me) in the head. Here we go.

1.     Her Hand Reached Up From The Grave And Clutched The Throats Of The Damned

Assuming that war is HELL, of course, or Danica Patrick’s wild weekends, which ever comes first. Ha hah hah. *ROFL* Well then….her 20th place finish at Watkins Glen last Sunday (the 4th of July) would have an been an acceptable finish for her in a NASCAR Nationwide event. But not in the Camping World Gran Prix at The Glen. It was perhaps her most craptastic finish of the season. He previous worst was a 19th place finish at the Indy Gran Prix of Alabama back in April. Now granted, at the Glen, she DID finish on the lead lap….at Barber she was a lap down when the checkers were thrown.

Last night at Chicagoland she brought the #7 GoDaddy Chevrolet home in one piece and in 24th place 2 laps down. She avoided the wreck at the end, avoided trouble during the race ((except for a pit stop faux pas—her crew’s fault–a lug nut issue on the right front tire)). A mid-table finish…she’s sort of becoming the Sunderland or Bolton of the Nationwide series…LOL. But fine for what it is, another step up the learning curve. But pretty soon the thrill will be gone, and then she will be one of the boys….and THEN I expect the ghastly fireworks to begin. In fact, I’ll INSIST on it.

A Sunday from now, when the World Cup will have become a lonesome vuvuzela buzzing in the distance, Danica and the IRL Gang will tee it up on the streets of Toronto. I fully expect carnage….not literal carnage….metaphorical carnage, if Danica doesn’t finish top 5, which given her recent history on road courses, she won’t. I will insist on it in fact, and will be bitterly disappointed if she doesn’t go on a focking rampage.


2.    The Return Of The Pale Brown Thing

Sometimes it’s not that a ghost story is being told that’s scary, it is that one MIGHT be told. THAT can be far scarier. Every week, these days, in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series, we await, huddled in front of our TV sets, we await….the return of The Pale Brown Thing. I tip my hat to the late great SF writer Fritz Leiber Jr who wrote this very frightening story “The Pale Brown Thing” in 1977—and whose father co-starred in one of Charlie Chaplin’s last films (4th last), the clever and brilliant Monsieur Verdoux.

So far it’s The Lout, Kevin Harvick, that has kept the Pale Brown Thing from shambling through the door. He kept him at bay last week at Daytona in a wreckfest of carnage befitting the best and/or worst of all the zombie movies. But we all know The Pale Brown Thing is out there, and could swoop us up in it’s horror at any moment, as he did at Sonoma and Loudon.  Tonight, at Chicagoland, The Pale Brown Thing joins Jamie McMurray on the front row. And for 267 horrifying laps we will wait, transfixed, never knowing when the haunting will begin.

It will take the combined efforts of many brave drivers to overcome the excessive paramental forces of The Pale Brown Thing and silence its foul shrieking song once and for all…a foul shrieking song that is a hmmmm barely heard but resonates as an all-pervasive rippling through the hearts and souls of men. It will take angry numbers….like 17 and 14 and 11 and 1 and 47 to alter the metageometry of the landscape…and keep The Pale Brown Things from reaching out it’s seemingly gentle hand of horror to tear our….

As I continue watching in awe as some unknown ghostly fingers type these fragile wisps of words, I’m watching the race and The Pale Brown Thing restarts 31st at lap 188 after Bill Elliot and Robbie Gordon got reacquainted with each other. But the horror could still reach out and drag us away to hell at any moment. I will not breath a sigh of relief, let alone breath, until I see the smoking wreckage of the 48 car loaded into the hauler.

3.    The Haunting Of Reichsland

Seconds are left in extra time, and Diego Forlan lines up the free  kick from outside the penalty area. He is a master of horror when it comes to set pieces like this. And as he approaches the ball, blood stops flowing, hearts stop beating, and with a sharp seething snap the ball angles through the air, over the wall of desperate Germans, breaking sharp left just past the outstretched hands of Hans-Jörg Butt towards the upper left corner of the goal. The entire world, assuming the entire world consist of Uruguay and Germany, comes to a crashing halt for a descending series of moments.

I had the above picture in readiness for just this sort of moment….it had the potential to convey the Gestalt and Gemeinschaft of the entire nation of Germany. It’s a picture that could speak a thousand words, in English, in German, and translated into Spanish for the jubilant residents of Montevideo, and my Uruguayan neighbors down the hill. It was in readiness, awaiting Diego Forlan’s wooden stake to the heart.

Instead, it tells the story of a moment in time where two nations and all the soccer fans in the rest of them held their hearts in their hands….held them dearly lest they be crushed.

And then, with a clank off the top bar. It was over. Over and done. And even in defeat, it seemed that the Uruguayans breathed a sigh of relief. The final was 3-2. And the Germans weren’t overly jubilant and Diego Forlan and his mates weren’t overly distraught. It was a tough, well played match, and when all was said and done, it was one of the best of the 2010 World Cup.

But had the score been 3-2 Uruguay instead of the other way around….well…I would have had to have shooped a pic of Angela Merkel as a zombie into this little anthology of horror. And THEN the zombies they would march….

4.    Are You Ready For Some Football??

As the ghostly fingers of some wraith types this as I watch in amazement as words magically appear, the World Cup final is lurking in the on-rushing day. Tomorrow, the curtain will rise, and the actors will take the largest stage in the world. It won’t be a ghost story, and I hope it will be an even better match than today’s consolation match.

But by the time these ghostly fingers return to their grave, their mystic aether, and you read these dispatches from some unknown Hand of Glory, the Crypt Keeper will have spoken and the final scores will in the record book.

As for football…both kinds…the countdown clocks are fired up. Mine counts down to the pre-season Football Association Community Shield match between  Chelsea and Manchester United. The Green Bay Packers website is counting down to the start of training camp. So not much of a ghost story there…but like the best horror, something MIGHT be lurking in the shadows, or  around the next corner just as you explode into the brilliant sun.


3 thoughts on “Ghost Stories

  1. World Cup soccer is over, finished with a lackluster final performance that only reinforces the cold hard truth that world soccer will only be a poor relation in this country to America Football. Packers training camp can’t get here soon enough! Oh yeah, all you pretensious snobs out there can quit pretending you give a shit about soccer! Put your act in the closet and pull it out four years from now!

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