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Strove to find a way to punch people in the face by using the Internet.

8/14/2006

DIARY OF EXTREME CHILDHOOD TRAUMA
Like, Even More Than Usual
Dad says the reason I’m screwed up is because of the night he was going to bash in the Puerto Rican guy’s head with a rock, which is a long story I’m not allowed to tell. But all you really need to know is it involves divorce, booze, my Mom and a Puerto Rican guy. And, um, a rock.

Mom, to her credit, simply blames herself for screwing me up. Well, unless you blame her first, in which case she gets all indignant and defensive and suffers a severe attack of the vapors, sending away all visitors before retiring to her chambers in a huff. (By “you,” I of course mean “me.”)

Back in 11th grade I had a school guidance counselor who also blamed Mom for screwing me up. You see, during Mom’s short fling with holding jobs, he had worked with her, and knew what she was like, which is probably why he decided to take his career in a less challenging direction and spend his days trying to un-screw-up high school kids.

He also placed some blame on Uncle Tommy, chiefly because I would get high a lot before school and therefore found it hilarious to tell the guidance counselor about how when I was just a little kid Uncle Tommy enlisted me as Chief Elf the year he played Santa at the nudist colony, and how despite the fact it was June and we were out in the woods with nobody around there was a lot of holiday lap-sitting, and how he made me sniff a big pile of cocaine.

That story was a fat load of balls, of course. Really the worst thing Uncle Tommy ever did was ask me if I was getting pubic hair at supper. Well, I should say we were eating supper when he asked. We weren’t, like, at the Caligula Buffet, where he turned to me and said, “Are you getting any of the pubic hair? It looks quite fresh. Lovely, really.” Come on, do you really think I’d go to the Caligula Buffet with anyone from my family? That’s sick.

Please note that, like the Penisheimers, Good News Hughes, naked Uncle Tommy naked Santa in the woods with cocaine and, really, most everything I write here, the Caligula Buffet is just something I’m making up. Do not Google “Caligula Buffet.”

Hmm, now that I’ve thought about it for a few minutes, I can totally say that if the Caligula Buffet did exist, and were I forced to take a family member there, for the Pubic Hair Special, or whatever it is they’d have going, I’d definitely choose Uncle Tommy. That guy knows how to have a good time and — wait, what was the question again?

Oh yeah — look, none of that stuff, not the Puerto Rican or crazy Mom or any of the lies, is what screwed me up. I think I’ve rebounded quite well from most of the stuff I write about here, stuff that seemed traumatizing at the time but that I now view as minor speed bumps, thank you very much, although I do get a bit nervous every time Dad goes to bash in a Puerto Rican guy’s head with a rock. No, the thing that screwed me up as a child was a movie called…

Burnt Offerings — dun dun DUUNN!

That’s supposed to be, like, dramatic music. You know? Dun dun DUUNN!! Like, a way to punctuate “Burnt Offerings” with a musical cue that implies a dark sort of menace. Only, uh, in this instance I’m doing it with words standing in for the music. Dun dun DUNN!! Or trying to do it, anyway. Burnt Offerings — dun dun DUUNN!! Dun dun DUUNN!!! It’s dramatic and menacing — a scary movie — dun dun DUNNN!!!

Look, fuck off, you’re not paying, like, money for this.

Anyway Burnt Offerings really bummed me out, totally screwed me up forever, blah blah blah. I’ve been meaning to write this stupid essay about it for like six months now, staring at the goddamn DVD sitting there in its disconcertingly cheerful little red Netflix sleeve. Taunting me. “I’m scary!” it whispers. “I’m the reason you’re all weird! In the head!”

So it’s hard. I’d like to update more often, I really would, but can’t help but be a little reticent to splash around in some of the deeper wellsprings of childhood trauma. Like Burnt Offerings. Plus, by the time the disc arrived the six cups of coffee I drank before coming up with this cockamamie idea had long wore off, and, looking at the Netflix envelope, after I remembered why I had queued up the damn thing in the first place, I realized that what at one time seemed like an awesome idea for an entry was going to result in something unbearably lame.

Thankfully, a quick run through the site archives here reminded me that it’s not like I’ve been too shy about embracing “unbearably lame” plenty of times before, and so here we all are. You, me, Uncle Tommy, Burnt Offerings and the Puerto Ricans, just one big fuckin’ happy Internet family.

Burnt Offerings is about one big happy family too, one that goes to a house that fuckin’ kills them. Check it out, here’s the house:

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Whoops, looks like I forgot to Photoshop out the “Pause” dealie in the upper-right corner, heh heh.

Anyway, the movie Burnt Offerings was invented in 1976 in order to traumatize sensitive young innocent children such as myself. I was seven years old that year, an age that, like the Puerto Rican incident and her marriage to my pop, also fell into Mom’s pre-sapphic era. This isn’t really significant for any specifically lesbionic reasons or anything, but Mom’s lifestyle was pretty different before the switcheroo, so in those days I would get stuck with babysitters a lot while Mom did her single thing, working and partying it up all weekend with terrible Doug Henning-type righteous ‘70s dudes.

I suspect it was my early exposure to these dudes that resulted in a lifelong aversion to Doug Henning, whole wheat bread, mustaches, mellow vibes, magic tricks, jam sessions, rainbow suspenders, natural fibers, music with flutes, turquoise jewelry, Steely Dan albums and sandals, although I must admit for a brief period (the 1980s) I did enjoy their marijuana a great deal.

God damn, come to think of it, fuck Doug Henning-type mellow ‘70s dudes. Fuck their Dan Fogelberg 8-tracks, fuck earth tones, fuck tasty guitar licks, fuck that Jonathan Livingston Seagull book and fuck all that running free with the wind on the beach at sunset jive. Ladies, don’t be taken in by the friendly relaxing backrubs of the Doug Henning-type dude. These backrubs are not really meant to relax you as much as just relax your pussy armor, ugh.

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Cat Stevens gets a pass on this, because he wrote better songs than all those other fakers, and also because he eventually realized how bereft of value to society his peer group was and ditched it to become something measurably more respectable (i.e., a terrorist).

I bring all this up because while Mom was out stroking Doug’s magic wand I was stuck at the babysitter’s, being forced to watch Burnt Offerings. There’s a point to be made here about how being taken out of a relatively safe home and left with a mean babysitter lady who forced me and my sister to eat cereal with orange juice on it when she ran out of milk and whose swimming pool attracted an unusually large selection of mean horseflies and bees increases childhood psychological vulnerability or something, which amplifies movie-borne trauma, but frankly it’s a bit labored and I don’t feel like going into it. Here’s another still from Burnt Offerings:

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I think Granny is getting possessed or drained of her life force or something by the evil house. I’m not sure, because in a weird dichotomy it turns out Burnt Offerings is as numbingly boring as it is trauma-inducing and I didn’t, um, watch it. Because I’ve been wasting one of my three Netflix picks on it for six goddamn months, that means I’ve now paid $39.86 to grab, what, maybe five minutes of Internet hilarity out of that sumbitch? And using both “five minutes” and “hilarity” here is being pretty generous, as I’m sure you’ll agree. Fuck.

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Oliver Reed as the dad gets a little rough in the pool. I think the house was trying to get him to kill his kid so it could feed off the death and hatred, a blah blah. Kind of scary, I guess, if your own father’s idea of horseplay didn’t involve him and Uncle Tommy taking turns shooting each other in the ass with a BB gun after getting distracted from their attempts to kill a bat.

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Here you can see Oliver Reed relaxing after a hard day drowning children, trying to drink a manly Coors in peace, when the chauffeur of the devil there comes tooling up in his hellmobile, probably with fuckin’ Jackson Brown blaring from the tape deck and Doug Henning in the backseat all greased up and ready to try and “center” him with some magical fuckin’ yoga or something. Seriously, can you think of anything worse? Jesus.

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Oh yeah — the chauffeur. Holy shit. I think I’m starting to remember why this movie fucked me up so much.

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I guess when Oliver Reed was a kid Burnt Offerings Car Man there drove him around all scary-like and it gave him a complex? And now the house is draining Granny? Dude, this thing is two hours long. I just mashed the fast-forward through most of this shit.

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I heard they found the guy they got to play the chauffeur working at a mortuary, and he'd only show up on set at midnight, and he never spoke to anyone, and they paid him with, like, blood.

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I'm starting to get kind of creeped out.

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If you fast-forward past a bunch of talking, you get to the end, where Oliver Reed finally wises up and says "no dice" to Burnt Offerings House and Fucked Up Scary Driver Man. He throws junior in the car and runs inside to get mom, but mom has been transformed into a creepy old lady. You don't really see what she does, but the next thing you know Oliver Reed gets all Greg Louganis. Meaning that's him diving out the window here, not like he ran upstairs and huffed a man-boner. Oh yeah, spoilers.

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Holy god, can you believe they let kids even watch this? It lulls you in with two hours of boredom, jolts you awake once or twice with the creepiest chauffuer in the fuckin' world and then traumatizes you for life by spattering you with your dad's blood just when you think you've escaped the Burnt Offerings. Dun dun dunnn. Sigh.

As you know, I primarily provide this Web site to disseminate helpful information to the public. In keeping with that spirit, I’d like to recommend that any parents reading this go and wake up the children and show them these photos here so they know not to watch the movie and — Hey! I just realized! There were no burnt offerings in Burnt Offerings! What the hell? No offerings of any kind, burnt or otherwise. Who named this goddamn thing?

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Look at that! Look! You get testy in the comments because I wait six weeks to write something? How do you think I feel? I've been pissing my Netflix away on this hokum since March. There aren't even offerings in it! Seriously, I'm so pissed off now I can barely type. Fuck Burnt Offerings... Fuck Burnt Offerings, fuck Netflix, fuck that terrible creepy chauffeur dude, fuck Doug Henning and fuck the Internet.

Next week, childhood cinematic trauma part two: a movie where goblins kill a lady.

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