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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Thanksgiving 1996

     I awaken with a simple desire: to pick up where I left off in Final Fantasy III. I am finally getting around to playing the game, two years after its initial release, in the fallow period before I get my Nintendo 64 for Christmas. I am borrowing my friend's copy, as well as a gargantuan strategy guide he has downloaded from the primordial internet that is approximately the size of the FBI's file on the John F. Kennedy assassination. These few late autumn days off from school give me the precious time I need to take on this adventure that some say lasts upwards of a hundred hours. I have spent the last several wandering back and forth through a small patch of forest fighting dinosaurs.
     I'm still adjusting to my environment. Just a few months ago, my family moved on up from our mobile home of ten years to a two-story townhouse on the other side of the city. Though I'm still rather annoyed that we never went back to retrieve the rest of my belongings as promised (R.I.P. Teddy Ruxpin and Grubby), we did snag the important stuff, and I no longer have to remain on the same floor as my parents. A fair trade, I suppose.
     From downstairs, the orchestral refrain of the Fox Sports anthem announces the commencement of the several hours of jabbering that precedes the holiday football games. It is accompanied by other traditional Thanksgiving noises: the clink of ice in a glass, the fizzy gurgle as Captain Morgan and Coca-Cola join it within the vessel, the murmured obscenities from the kitchen that will crescendo into a roar by the afternoon. I turn up the volume on my bulky black tube television, neon green dots on the screen expanding into bars as the score of FFIII swells. I make sure to keep it within reason; my mother hates video game music, and I'd like to avoid unnecessary confrontation today.
     The morning passes as planned, with a minimum of contact with my family (it's a rookie mistake not to pace oneself in terms of exposure on the holidays). The Chiefs and Lions game is well underway when the hunger pangs begin a'pangin'. The roasting turkey's succulent aroma has begun wafting into my quarters, and I can resist its siren smell no longer. Reluctantly, I tear my admittedly weary eyes away from the television to head to the kitchen. It's time to indulge in the traditional Thanksgiving snacks.
     I don't know when or how it started, but the selection of pre-dinner Thanksgiving treats in the Marsilio household has long been set in stone. As I approach the kitchen table, I see the goofy serving dish we've been using for years, a plastic blue flower with each petal a separate section containing a different food item. I smile, knowing the culinary joys enplated therein. The menu, as it were, consists of the following:

-Deviled eggs. These hard-boiled, silky smooth delights, their creamy yolks accentuated by a hint of smoky paprika, are ironically simply heavenly.
-Celery sticks, with their green ravine filled to the brim with Kraft Bacon & Cheddar spread. The celery is merely a vessel, as is often celery's lot in life, to showcase the incomparable spread. Were I only to know that it would be discontinued years later, replaced by inferior spreads like the Handi-Snacks-esque Pub Cheese, I would relish the moment and consume even more. On the plus side, the lack of this future sight is likely sparing me some future gastrointestinal distress.
-Black olives. Just black olives, straight from the can, onto the dish, and into my mouth.
-Two items in separate sections meant to be enjoyed together: Saltine crackers and smoked baby clams that had been packed with cottonseed oil in a tin. The technique here is to pile as many clams on a Saltine as possible, add a dash of Tabasco sauce on top, and savor the flavor of Poseidon's own barbecue. The only thing greater than the taste is the degree of difficulty involved in not dripping a viscous oil/Tabasco mixture on the other foods at the table. In the years to come, as my sister would embrace veganism as a lifestyle, my father would taunt her by eating these slowly in front of her, while gleefully inquiring how upset she was that he was consuming "smoked babies" in front of her. This bit would be about as well-received as one would expect.
-Beside the bottle of Tabasco, a separate bowl contains a heaping selection of nuts, including filberts, almonds and Brazil nuts, which my relatives refer to by a name containing a horrific racial slur. I always enjoy them, but having to hand-crack each one grows tiresome, and after a while I just go back for more deviled eggs and clams.

     Having been provided adequate sustenance by the White Trash Classics tasting menu, I return to my room to sit on my ass and continue my epic virtual journey. Yet within minutes, the turkey's tantalizing fragrance bamboozles me into thinking that I'm famished. I shake off the poultry hypnosis and try to focus on my game. There are still more dinosaurs to kill, and one of them surely must have the item my adventurers have been fruitlessly hunting for.
     A sudden commotion downstairs indicates that my father either burned himself, cut himself, or that the team that won the football game didn't cover the spread. I don't let it distract me.
     As evening creeps closer, the clatter of pots and pans rises above the cloud of boozy profanity and fragrant meat bouquet emanating from downstairs. The finishing touches are being put on dinner, and I can hardly wait to gorge myself upon the feast that is to come. I turn off the television, rub my dry, tired eyes, and head into the maelstrom below.
     The golden roasted turkey carcass greets me with an almost certainly imagined smile as I descend the staircase. My father is removing the last bits of stuffing from inside the bird with a large wooden spoon and plopping them into some sort of amber dishware. He complains that it is likely undercooked and that we're welcome to eat it if we want, but we may die of salmonella. I'm not terribly concerned; I've been conditioned by now to expect an unending stream of self-deprecations from the architect of this dinner, each in search of a refutation and effusive praise. I will prudently ration those out through the course of the meal.
     A din of dishes hitting dishes, of silverware tinkling against other utensils, of paper towels getting ripped and tumblers getting accidentally knocked over all falls away when I lay my eyes upon what my mother is removing from the refrigerator. A giant but unassuming Tupperware bowl, schoolbus yellow and covered in barely-clinging plastic wrap, joins the assembling feast. Within is the greatest treasure of Thanksgiving, a decadent jewel that smells of the sea and tastes of enchanted kingdoms. The crab salad.
     To the layman, the crab salad looks like a milky, briny slop. But one bite is enough to convince the disbeliever of its deceptive charms. A slaw containing iceberg lettuce, shredded crab and enough mayo to choke a horse, it is the holy grail of my Thanksgiving meal. Rest assured, I partake of the turkey and all the other assorted goodies, but the crab salad is the alpha and the omega of the holiday, the dish that I look forward to the most and that, when all is said and done, I feel like I cannot eat again until a year has passed. Some may think it best eaten on crackers or toast, but I just eat it with a fork. By the time Thanksgiving dinner has concluded, I have eaten three bowls. A simple tally shows my Cool Hand Luke-level egg consumption to be worrisome.
     The family serves ourselves at the counter, plucking selections from the platter of carved turkey, the pot of mashed potatoes, the warm, buttery biscuits, the cranberry sauce that still has hints of embedded lines from the can if you know just where to look. My mother, father, sister and I all sit down at the table, a cramped glass disk atop a white wicker base, and offer a half-assed prayer. Then my father points out that there are two gravy options, one made traditionally from the turkey drippings, and one from a seasoning packet. Despite my father's assertions that his hand-made gravy is "inedible," I both eat and enjoy it, making sure to note that he did a good job and that it is indeed tastier than the powder-based option. I am again informed that I should probably not eat the stuffing, but I have a perhaps naive amount of trust in the old man's drunken cooking skills. My faith is rewarded with a delicious, moist dish and a living streak that continues for decades to come.
     For the grand finale, I cut myself an excessively large slice of pumpkin pie. It's still chilled from the fridge, just how I like it, and I pass on the option to spray real aerosol whipped cream on top in favor of shoveling several dollops of Cool Whip atop its custardy crown. With each bite, I am positive that I absolutely cannot possibly take another. And then I take one more.
     When the feast is finished and the dirty dishes left lurking in the sink, awaiting the next morning's laborious cleaning, I crawl upstairs, lying in bed as the meal slowly begins to break down. Home Alone is on TV, so I shift to lie on my side and watch it, half-focused in the onset of food coma and lamenting that the line "I'll rip off your cojones and boil them in motor oil" is sanitized for broadcast to an awkwardly dubbed "I'll boil ya in motor oil!" My Thanksgiving meal is consumed, and though there will be turkey sandwiches and soup cobbled together from leftovers in the days to follow, the Christmas season is now upon me. I drift into blissful, bloated reverie as I rest up for the day ahead. After all, there is still so much adventuring to do.

Speaking of leftovers, please enjoy some copied, pasted and minimally altered text from a previous Thanksgiving blog! I hope you and yours have a happy Thanksgiving and find some time to just relax and enjoy the season. If you're bored, you can always read my other seasonally-appropriate articles about a book of Thanksgiving poems illustrated by the guy that did Scary Stories to Tell in the Darka book of Thanksgiving stories from the early 20th century and Trader Joe's turkey lunchmeat. And read my book, Henry Garrison: St. Dante's Savior! It's a cornucopia of shameless plugs!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Carve-O-Lantern 3: The Return of the Kits

When I was walking down the street today, I saw this:

Now this could mean one of two things: either someone is preparing to burn Tobey Maguire in effigy for that dance scene in Spider-Man 3 (which I liked, suck it, haters), or it's Halloween season again! This is perfect, because it gives me an excuse to drone on at length about one of my favorite things: pumpkin carving! Avid readers of my blog may recall my earlier installment about pumpkin carving pioneers Carve-O-Lantern, as well as the sequel post about their product line expansion. Well, there's still plenty of meat on this bone, so I'm diving into a pumpkin PIE-le of patterny goodness to bring you this retrospective!
Carve-O-Lantern (and later, Pumpkin Masters) have released so much material over the decades that I could-and possibly might-write about this stuff forever. So let's go waaaaay back to the early days of the brand to take a look at how their pumpkin carving kits have evolved through time. I've procured a veritable bushel of new stuff since the last article, so this is a great opportunity to share some of them.
To review: the protozoan state of this august October line was the original Carve-O-Lantern book, she of the spiral binding and self-assembled tools:

I covered this book and its assemblage of cool, festive and at time downright bizarre patterns before. So let's move on to the next product in the Carve-O-Lantern line; their streamlined, non-spiral bound pumpkin carving kit:

I reviewed this one before as well, but what I haven't covered yet are the many, many, MANY pumpkin carving kits to follow. We're talking bunnies on some crazy NIMH fertility meds numbers. OK, NIMH didn't really deal with fertility drugs, but maybe they branched out and formed NIRH or something. Just let me have this semi-esoteric reference.
Anyway, Carve-O-Lantern was not releasing products at a breakneck pace at first. They were, after all, pioneers in the field of jack-o'-lantern crafting, and if pioneers try to venture too quickly and recklessly into the unexplored, they might pay dearly. Just ask Lansford Hastings. So the second carving kit came out in 1989, three years after the initial publication of Carve-O-Lantern, and the third would not arrive until 1992. Here it is:

Carve-O-Lantern's designated graphic designer clearly had quite a cushy job, as a product designed to come out once a year would look almost identical for many editions to come. As for the included patterns:

This is a nice assortment, albeit largely the same as the designs in the Pumpkin Carving Patterns supplemental book released the same year. It appears that the intent at this point was to give consumers who already had a set of carving tools an option to buy most of the patterns in a cheaper, tool-less package. This was the first and last time this would be an option, because why sell one product to completionists when you can sell two? Probably because nobody knew such completionists existed back then, a quaint notion in 2017 when some people (cough, cough) feverishly monitor eBay auctions for rare pattern books like the Busch Gardens/SeaWorld assortment.
Somewhat confusingly, the fourth pumpkin carving kit also came out in 1992, though I suspect there may have just been an error in the copyright date on the packaging, since the fifth set came out in 1994. So either we got two of these in one year and then none the following year, or we didn't. GREAT JOURNALISM, JOEY.

Again, we see some staggering creativity in terms of graphic design, as this one looks nearly indistinguishable from set #3 at a glance. Unlike that set, however, these patterns were unique to this release, aside from Mr. Lips, who was continuing his journey to become the drunk guy at the party who can't take a hint when it's time to go home.

Possibly the best kit yet in terms of patterns, this one truly offered a variety of options for carvers at all skill levels, from a sassy fanged variation of the traditional jack-o-lantern for babies, to the moaning souls of the damned ironically spelling out the word "happy," which challenged veteran carvers to keep the profanity in check while nervously attempting to not slip and sever one of the thin strands of pumpkin holding the delicate image together.
By 1994, the Carve-O-Lantern name had perished, and from its ashes arisen the mighty moniker "Pumpkin Masters," which endures to this day. With the name change came a shockingly minor facelift to the carving kits, with the primary innovation being the convenient display of patterns on the front rather than the back. No longer would consumers waste precious seconds flipping cardboard in search of these coveted candlelit images.

This is a solid assortment, with all-time classic Screamin', another cute kitty and more, though it escapes me why Trick or Treat '95 needed the premature, 2K games-style yearly branding. Not to ruin the suspense, but it's still just as effective in '17.
BUUUUUT hold on just a minute, buckaroo! We're skipping something here. Even though this was the next traditional carving kit to hit the shelves, the year prior had actually marked the official debut of the Pumpkin Masters name, with this unique product:

Yep, a Deluxe Pumpkin Carving Kit. Totally different than a non-deluxe one, and I'm only being half sarcastic here. A bit of a hybrid between the saw-yielding carving kits of yore and the independent pattern books sold alongside them, this softcover marvel boasted not only a full set of carving tools, but by far the most designs of any release since the original, with a whopping seventeen patterns (including the bonus Night Owl, not pictured on the back).

Admittedly, many of the patterns were reprints from prior years, but come on! For one thing, once any given year's Halloween season was over, the corresponding carving kits were gone. They tended to stay gone, meaning that if you missed a release you were pretty much out of luck. Now you had a second chance to own some of these ephemeral classics. And even considering the volume of reprints, such a wide variety of patterns sold alongside the tools with which to carve them made for quite the package. Oddly enough, only one more Deluxe Pumpkin Carving Kit was released before the line died off. Perhaps the train to Valuetown only runs one way.
1995's big release was marked by the presence of Garfield, whose cool, well-designed pattern was only slightly undermined by his rather lame joke on the cover. What's supposed to be scary about Garfield being on a pumpkin? His licensing fees?

But the real story of 1995 was a product so innovative that Leonardo Da Vinci's ghost secondkilled itself in shame: Melon Lights. Have you ever wanted to carve a pumpkin in July? Well now you can, with Melon Lights! I hope to carve one of these someday and bring it as a wedding gift for someone I desperately want to just stop contacting me.

OK, we're running a bit long here, and I'm sure you have some last-minute costume prep/massive holiday drinking to do, so I'll end with one more tidbit. This last product I'm about to show you may be been the nadir of the original Carve-O-Lantern lineup, and possibly forced them to change their name for fear of ever being identified with it again. I speak, of course, of Pumpkin Pals.

These inane things make Melon Lights look like the internal combustion engine. Too lazy or crippled by carpal tunnel syndrome to carve a pumpkin? Here are some stupid pieces of cardboard and tissue paper to make your pumpkin look like a low-rent Teen Wolf! Choose from other classic characters like Vulcan Vampire and Lady with Her Hair on Fire! And as far as the collection as a whole, there were four of these abominations, including fairy tale variations that would make Mother Goose asphyxiate herself with a potato chip bag. I only have one of them, because to hell with paying ten bucks or more online for this crap. If the art of pumpkin decorating is an ass, Pumpkin Pals is half of it.
I hope you've enjoyed this festive look at the evolution of a Halloween institution. Do yourself a favor and pick up one of these oldies if you happen to see them at Goodwill or something. You won't regret it! Or maybe you will. Life is funny like that. Happy Halloween!

Don't let him fool you. Joey Marsilio is still attempting to sell enough copies of his debut novel, Henry Garrison: St. Dante's Savior, to buy the full line of Pumpkin Pals. You can help him achieve this wretched dream today!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

World's (Insert Adjective Here) "True" Ghost Stories

No, I'm not dead, despite what my online presence, or lack thereof, may suggest. And speaking of the undead, I'd like to reflect today on a particularly strange series of books about the supernatural. In this case, the strange thing is not the content of the books themselves, but rather the series' origins and evolution. Perhaps the oddest thing about these books is that there are nine books in the series (well, arguably...I'll get to that), yet there is almost no information about them anywhere. Most of the Amazon pages for them have no reviews, and even a Google search reveals little more than used book sales. Isn't it unusual that such a lengthy series seems to have not a smidgen of the dedicated, borderline obsessive fandom afforded even the nichest of long-running franchises?

I suppose at this point I should mention the name of this series of books. Don't worry, you probably won't recognize it unless you're one of the six people searching for information on them online and this post showed up by default. The nine books comprise the, for lack of a better term, World's (Insert Adjective Here) "True" Ghost Stories series. Basically, each book proffers an assortment of "true" stories of the supernatural-the quotation marks are their addition, not mine-that best exemplify some descriptor (for example, "mystifying" or "bone-chilling"). I'm sure the selection process for these was thoroughly scientific and their placement is definitive and by no means arbitrary. But this is all very abstract, so let me get into some concrete details before you click away from the page in annoyed bewilderment.

The first book in the series is 1988's World's Best "True" Ghost Stories by C.B. Colby, though it's not really where the series began. No, the true origins of the series go back into the 1950s, when Colby, "an avid adventurer and sportsman" per his bio, wrote a syndicated newspaper column called "Adventure Today." The column dealt with unexplained happenings, supernatural phenomena, mysterious disappearances, lost treasure and what would at the time be referred to as "ripping yarns." The veracity of each story was certainly debatable, as Colby himself would remind the reader, but he presented them with the appropriate zeal and bombast. Eventually, the column gave way to books collecting some of Colby's best offbeat tales: 1959's Strangely Enough! and 1965's somewhat inaccurately-titled Weirdest People in the World. The stories in it are weird, sure, but oftentimes the people within them are completely ordinarily and as perplexed by the events around them as anyone would be. I'd ask Colby what the thought process was behind the name, but I'm afraid I'm about forty years too late for that.

Anyway, several decades after that, Sterling Publishing released World's Best "True" Ghost Stories, a compilation of stories from Strangely Enough! and Weirdest People that dealt with ghosts and the supernatural. Well, mostly. 

There are also stories here of, among other things, a disappearing indigenous tribe in Alaska, an old woman who apparently spontaneously combusted, and a weird tale about talking cats that isn't very good and yet has been retold in more volumes of horror tales than I can remember. So while there's a general theme of uneasiness to the proceedings, there are less ghosts than you might think.

And speaking of titular inaccuracies, let's address the "true" portion of the title. That gets explained in the note to the reader that starts off World's Best, a note which is largely repurposed from the Introduction to Strangely Enough! There are some changes to the text, most notably a few additional sentences written by Colby, or more likely someone posing as Colby, considering he died more than ten years before the book was published. So either way, you could say they used a ghostwriter. The additional lines explain to the reader that "all the accounts in this book have, at one time or another been passed off as 'true'...and who shall say they never happened?" So basically, a very liberal definition of the truth, which in 2017 is more or less the factual standard. Colby never really gets enough credit as a pioneer in the field of truthiness.

That's the book in a nutshell. A mix of accounts of unexplained events, spooky anecdotes and classic folklore, all presented in the matter-of-fact style of a newspaper article and accompanied by simple black and white illustrations that heavily rely on shadows and isolation to convey the otherworldliness of the events described. It is remarkably effective, and what it lacks in florid language it makes up for in efficiency. In the same vein as the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, the brevity of the stories makes them easy to recount, and the journalistic presentation makes them feel more authentic and less like utter flights of fancy. For the most part, at least...I'm still not buying the talking cats thing. It's a great collection of oddball tales in the spirit of Ripley's Believe It or Not! and a nice greatest-hits collection of Colby's two prior greatest-hits collections.

In 1991, a similar collection of Colby's old works with a different theme, World's Best Lost Treasure Stories (I would have preferred World's Best "Lost" Treasure Stories, but that's splitting hairs) was released by Sterling, suggesting their intention of building a World's Best... franchise around Colby's old material. They got a franchise, alright, but it was not the one they were expecting.

Shortly before the publication of Treasure Stories, Sterling released another installment of spooky tales. This one, World's Strangest "True" Ghost Stories, drew on different source material, bypassing Colby entirely by excerpting stories from John Macklin's 1967 book The Strange and Uncanny.

Perhaps a bit more grim than Colby's work but just as compelling, here we learn of the psychic horse that solved a child's tragic disappearance, the cursed mummy that was allegedly on board the Titanic when it sank, and the sleepy English crossroads that bore both a terrible curse and a name that probably wouldn't fly in America in 2017.

The next year would see the release of World's Weirdest "True" Ghost Stories, written by John Beckett.

This was a milestone: the first installment of the series to apparently be an entirely original creation rather than an abridged rehash of a book from decades before. Still, it continued along the same lines, and probably benefitted from being able to draw from events that had occurred within the previous twenty-five years.

With 1992's World's Most Spine-Tingling "True" Ghost Stories, the series introduced yet another author, Sheila Anne Barry, and perhaps its greatest asset, artist Jim Sharpe.

Whereas the books before had all contained effective but relatively indistinct artwork, Sharpe's illustrations are bold, unique and very evocative. From screaming faces to ominous spirits to a malicious killer doll in a sailor suit, Sharpe would go on to illustrate the remaining installments of the series and elevate even the more mundane stories with his detailed, semi-insane renderings.

But it should really come as no surprise that the guy was talented, considering Time, TV Guide, and many other respectable publications had hired him to do cover artwork for them. He even created a portrait for the presidential gallery! Frankly, given his resume, it seems like he was slumming it a bit for these books, but maybe he just loved this kind of crap as much as I do.

Oddly enough, after two consecutive original books, 1993's World's Most Bone-Chilling "True" Ghost Stories went back to the repurposing well, revisiting John Macklin's work and lifting stories from his awesomely-named 60's books Brotherhood of the Strange and Dwellers in Darkness.

But after that, subsequent titles went back to being original works. Well, this point, the series was getting pretty tired, revisiting the same themes time and again and even repeating some of the same stories (albeit with different authors) as the books continued to roll out every year like macabre installments of Madden.

The eighth book in the series, 1996's World's Most Mysterious "True" Ghost Stories, could well have been called Weird War Tales for its heavy focus on military themes (which, funny enough, would likely have met with noted armed forces buff C.B. Colby's approval). Even Sharpe's artwork looked oddly rushed by that point.

Finally, things wrapped up in 1997 with World's Most Mystifying "True" Ghost Stories, as the series drifted off into the aether like an unfed Tamagotchi, likely to the tune of Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997."

Or did it? 1998 saw the release of The Little Giant Book of "True" Ghost Stories, where the series did what it did best: repackaged old material. Basically books five through seven of the series crammed into one volume, The Little Giant Book kept the series...well, not alive exactly, but undead at least. And that, after a decade, marked the last volume of "True" Ghost Stories.

Yet it still did not mark the end of the stories themselves. C.B. Colby's original material persists to this day, published in various compilations of spooky stories, but the strangest part of this saga involves an overlap with a completely different series of books.

Following the huge success of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, Short & Shivery, and others of their ilk, a new contender in the youth-focused horror short story arena emerged in 1991's Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs. The big hook of this book and its numerous sequels were their sheer nihilism. Whereas the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books would often feature protagonists that got thoroughly heebie-jeebied but ultimately survived, Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs was a slaughterhouse where no one made it out alive. If you wanted to read about a child getting ripped apart by a werecat, or an entire family being strangled to death by their own shadows, or extraterrestrials burning kids to death before summoning their compatriots to Earth to do the same to the entire human race, you were in luck. This series persisted through the 90's, with almost as many volumes as the "True" Ghost Stories series until it finally petered out, possibly because they ran out of children to murder.

You may be wondering why I bring this up. Well, apparently long after the demise of the original series, someone published a book simply called Scary Stories for Sleepovers.

And, lo and behold, it contains some of the very same C.B. Colby joints printed in Strangely Enough! and Weirdest People in the World and reprinted in World's Best "True" Ghost Stories. Nearly sixty years after their original publication, the stories are still going strong, veritable literary body snatchers hopping from series to series, assuming their identity while never losing their own.

So, to recap: a newspaper column was repurposed into two books, which were then repurposed into another book, which begat a series of books with similar titles that at times repurposed material from other books and at times consisted of original material (albeit said material consisting of retellings of events recounted elsewhere). After the conclusion of this series, several of the books were repurposed into a giant compilation book, and long after that, the original stories that were repurposed into the first book in the series were repurposed again under the title of an entirely different series of books. It's a truly fascinating web of use and reuse that, in the end, boils down to the simple fact that people love a good story. And ghosts. And cursed mummies. And psychic horses.

A final note: there was a television show years back called Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction?, hosted at first by James Brolin and later by the illustrious Jonathan Frakes, master of the wry smile.

The show would present reenactments of stories, then call upon the viewer to determine whether or not they had actually occurred. Many of the stories reenacted on that show were the very same ones described in these books, so I would often have a bit of an unfair advantage in determining which of the tales I was witnessing were Fact...or, I suppose, "True." Whether due to coincidence or fandom, the subject matter of this low-key series of ostensible ghost stories (yes, including the psychic horse) had made it to primetime network television, a.k.a. the American Dream.

Well done, "True" Ghost Stories. You "truly" are the (insert adjective here).

Joey Marsilio would like to cordially request that if anyone out there, anyone at all, has read these books, that they please let him know about their memories and experiences with them. And also that they purchase a copy of his novel, Henry Garrison: St. Dante's Savior.