A Series of Distracting Events

“Well, I finally got that Home Alone review done. Time to work on the fifth anniversary review -”
“Quick reminder, Shelf, you’ve got that big writers and illustrators’ conference in a couple of weeks. I’m sure you’re already well prepared for it though, no worries.”
“…”

Several weeks later…

“Ok, conference is done. Now to get to writing that -”
“Hey Shelf, how’s that next Krimson Rogue video review you’re editing coming along? Isn’t that due really soon?”
“…”

Several MORE weeks later…

“You know, I feel like there’s a project I should be working on, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what. Oh well, let’s see how the blog’s doing. It’s certainly been a while since -”
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“Ahoy-hoy? *GASP* My dad’s friend from his video store days got friendly with a producer? He wants ME to design their movie pitch deck?! Sign me up!!”

ANOTHER several more weeks later…

“…Did I use to write my own blog or was that some sort of hallucination from being stuck in quarantine so long?”
Episode 12 Ringing Telephone GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
“Ahoy-hoy? *GASP* My dad’s friend’s producer pal loved my pitch so much he showed it to another producer he knows? HE loved it so much he wants ME to design one for him too?! LET’S ROLL!!”

You get the drill…

“Hmm, this “Up On The Shelf” is a cute little blog. Shame it’s been forever since a review was posted. I wonder who…ohhhhhhhhhhhh.”

The short answer to your question: Yes, I’m still working on the fifth anniversary review. I know I keep flaking on my own deadlines but it will be up before the SIXTH anniversary comes around, I swear. I’m working as hard as I can when I’m able. Hey, it’s not like I’ve been spending my free time bingeing The Muppet Show and Wandavision, crushing Pikmin 3, and counting down the days ’til I get vaccinated, heh heh heh…

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Anyway, stay safe, keep those hands washed and masks on even after you get your shot(s), and I’ll see you all soon.

A Snippet of an Untold Dragon Story

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Hey all! I’ve been going through some of my old writing for new story ideas and I rediscovered something I wrote five years ago that I felt like sharing with you. I created this in a twenty-minute sprint based on the sentence prompt “And you thought dragons didn’t exist”. The way it turned out, it read less like a short story and more like a chapter pulled from a preexisting book. For a time I constructed a plot to go around it, but eventually dropped it in pursuit of other projects. Having read it again, I felt inspired to return to work on it. I re-edited what I originally wrote, and that’s what I’d like to present to you today.

The plot, as of posting this, goes thusly: In modern-day China, a great-grandmother gives a young girl the location of the last dragon egg with her dying breath. The girl raises the dragon while keeping it a secret from her family. After she befriends her former bully, the son of the American ambassador, they must work together to learn its secrets before one of their respective governments can capture it. Think How To Train Your Dragon meets E.T. or The Iron Giant. The ideal age group for this book would be middle grade (about 8-12 years old) so keep that in mind. And now, I take you to a wooded park in the middle of China, where our story is already in progress:

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Christmas Shelf Reviews: Home Alone (1990)

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See that face smack dab in the middle of the poster there? That’s the face I made when I found out I’d be reviewing one of my favorite Christmas movies (and also when I realized I wouldn’t be publishing it on time; Happy Valentines Day!) Because, honestly, what can I say about Home Alone that hundreds before me already have?

There’s an argument to be made that Home Alone shouldn’t count as a Christmas movie because it’s a story that can be done on any given day of the year – except that Christmas is tied into this film’s very identity. Kevin’s house is full of reds, greens and whites, the soundtrack is stuffed with Christmas tunes, even beloved classics like It’s A Wonderful Life, How The Grinch Stole Christmas and Miracle on 34th Street are playing whenever a TV is turned on. Add themes of family and togetherness and a magical score by John Williams, and you’ve got a movie with Christmas in its DNA.

While Home Alone didn’t impress critics upon release, it made enough bank that it held the title of highest-grossing comedy of all time until 2011. It’s entered the pop culture lexicon not just here in the states but abroad. The film’s release in most former Soviet-occupied countries aligned with the fall of the Berlin Wall, and is so tied to that feeling of holiday cheer and nostalgia for a monumental positive change that it’s broadcast with the same heartfelt frequency as It’s A Wonderful Life in America. “It’s not Christmas without Kevin” has become something of a popular slogan for most stations that air it. But why does this simple story retain so much of its appeal 30 years later?

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Release

I expected that once this day would come, I’d feel overwhelming joy, that’d I cry tears of happiness mixed with pent-up sorrow over the needless loss and suffering of the past four years.

Instead I felt…relief.

A quiet, calm unobtrusive sense of relief washing over me and taking every bit of fear and anger with it.

And it felt just as good.

The terror of tomorrow, the fury of injustice and helplessness that burrowed into my heart has been uprooted. From out of the hole rise hope’s repressed seeds, released at long last, ready to embrace the world.

All of our problems won’t be resolved overnight. There’s a lot of work to be done, a lot of damage to repair. The answer, however, has always rested with us. It’s good to know that, after experiencing the worst, we won’t let it happen again so easily, not as long as we’re vigilant, wise and compassionate. By placing our faith and trust into caring, capable hands, we make that start. We hold them accountable so they can hold others accountable. We stand together so no one will perish alone again.

Tonight, however, we celebrate, and rest.

I love each and every one of you. I hope you have the best night’s sleep you’ve had in four years. I wish you peace, happiness, and above all, relief and release.

Happy New Year! / The Return of the Poorly Explained Movie Plots / And In Other News…

So…2020. That certainly was…a year.

Look, it’s pointless to reiterate how much of a colossal trainwreck it was. We’re all eager to move on and embrace all the hope and possibilities that 2021 has to offer, and this blog is no exception. Despite my schedule clearing up so suddenly early on, I got nowhere near as much writing done here as I hoped I would. Hell, it took me five days after New Years Day just to finish this. I feel like I’ve done more apologizing for running late than I’ve done any actual posting and I can’t…well, apologize enough for that. I was hit with a perfect storm of burnout, writers’ block, pressure, other responsibilities and general anxiety about my health, my family’s health, and the state of the world almost simultaneously, and it wrecked most of my plans for what was supposed to be the blog’s big fifth year.

And yet, despite every nervous cell in my brain telling me I wasn’t going to make it, here I am.

Here we are.

We made it.

We (barely) survived Coronavirus with a vaccine now on the way. We (barely) got through four years of Trump and utterly squashed the threat of four more. I taught an art class and fully developed two children’s books while getting started on several more. I bounced back into video editing. I even helped edit a podcast (Channel KRT, please check them out). Hamilton came to Disney+. Animal Crossing returned with an adorable wholesome vengeance as did Pikmin and apparently Pokemon Snap very soon. We got a kickass Princess Bride reunion/cast reading. TikTok actually spawned something creative and positive in the fan-made Ratatouille musical. People from across the globe banded together to fight racism. Thanks to Zoom I’m closer than ever to family and friends whom I haven’t spoken to in years. For all the overwhelming bad that 2020 brought to our doorstep, it brought a surprising amount of good with it, too.

And despite the false starts and panicking and chronic lateness, you stuck with me throughout it. Amelia, Gordhan, Sam, I have no words to properly convey my thanks for giving me the financial support I needed. And to everyone else who read and commented and liked what I had to say about random movies, I appreciate your readership and encouragement. Thank you.

Of course, I know the real reason why you’re here, to read silly summations of everything I reviewed in 2020! Yes, I promised I’d make that a yearly tradition, and it’s one I intend to keep. I’m also going to be sharing my plans for 2021 and one more bit of pleasant news that helped 2020 end on a personal high note. So stick around, because it’s time for Return of The Poorly Explained Movie (and Holiday Shorts/TV Episode) Plots!

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Christmas Shelf Reviews: Duck Tales 2017: “Last Christmas!”

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I don’t think it’s a big secret that Gravity Falls is my favorite series from Disney. Not just animated series, I mean out of everything the channel ever churned out. It was mysterious, funny and occasionally frightening, with deep themes of family and growing up and some of the most well-written television characters to come from the 2010s. When it bowed out after two near-perfect seasons, it left some enormous shoes to fill. What show could possibly live up to the standards it set?

Well, it turns out the answer was one no one asked for, but we’re sure as hell thankful we got anyway.

Hot take for y’all, especially from someone who grew up in the 90’s and enjoyed the hell out of the original DuckTales: the 2017 reboot blows its predecessor out of the water. It takes the fun, creative adventures from the first series, adds a much-needed measure of character arcs and development (Huey, Dewey and Louie have actual distinct personalities now!) and amps it up with a huge dose of heart and enough lore borrowed from the Carl Barks and Don Rosa comics to win over even the most jaded fans. Also, as opposed to his unceremonious draft into the navy in the first series, Donald Duck finally has a part to play in the new adventures! (Well, in 13 out of the 65 of them anyway…way to get my hopes up, Disney.) By the time I was halfway through the first season I thought to myself, “Yes, this is it. This is the successor to Gravity Falls,” (though The Owl House definitely ties with that sentiment as well, and Amphibia isn’t too far behind).

I’m woefully behind on Season 3, but am well aware that they’re bringing in more characters and plots from the other classic Disney Afternoon series that were hinted at since the very start, and I can’t wait to see how they’re re-interpreted. On a similar note, since this episode deals with some major revelations from the tail end of Season One that have ramifications for the rest of the series, I must warn you that this review will have spoilers.

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Christmas Shelf Reviews: Richard Williams’ A Christmas Carol (1971)

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Surprise, we had a tie in the shorts category! As my way of making up for the lack of reviews this year, here’s a little Christmas bonus for you all.

Last year we said goodbye to a giant in the field of animation, the one and only Richard Williams. In honor of his memory, I added some of his work to the Shelf, including this, a retelling of A Christmas Carol produced by fellow legend Chuck Jones with animation by Abe Levitow, Ken Harris, Grim Natwick and Richard Purdum among others. Adding to this auspicious company is Allistair Sim and Michael Hordern returning to voice Scrooge and Marley twenty years after playing them in the iconic 1951 film adaptation; it’s not Christmas in my household until I watch it with my father, the tree glowing in the corner as we huddle together in the dark in front of the TV, so hearing these voices again is a special treat.

Of course, since this is a Richard Williams’ production, there was no shortage of drama behind the scenes. Williams was a man who expected nothing less than perfection from his employees, and his stringent standards nearly proved to be his downfall (not for the last time either, if you know what happened to The Thief and the Cobbler). Work fell so behind schedule that the animators were forced to pull 7-day 14-hour workweeks with unpaid overtime, and the final product still wasn’t ready until one hour before the deadline! The results, however, speak for themselves. This is a beautifully crafted feature. Though Williams and crew had to resort to some rotoscoping to finish the job, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where they did.

This short was originally made for television, but the high praise it received emboldened ABC to distribute it theatrically. It would go on to be nominated for and win the Oscar for Best Animated Short the following year. This also gives it the distinct honor of being the only version of A Christmas Carol to win an Academy Award. Imagine, 200+ versions of the same story made over a period of nearly a hundred years yet only one gets that kind of recognition! Members of the Academy chafed at the idea that a short first shown on television took home the gold, and would quickly change the rules so that any future works that premiered on TV would not qualify for a nomination.

Despite its accolades and the high-profile names attached, Richard Williams’ Christmas Carol is surprisingly hard to find on home video. The version I watched for this review came from Youtube via TheThiefArchive, where you can find all things related to Williams uploaded for posterity.

So, classic story, some of the greatest animators of the twentieth century, all brought together by a man whom I consider the definitive Mad Genius of animation. What’s the worst that could happen?

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Christmas Shelf Reviews: Pluto’s Christmas Tree (1952)

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When I made my list of favorite Mickey Mouse shorts, I had a hell of a time combing through his filmography for what I considered “real” Mickey cartoons. This is because a good many films in the mouse’s oeuvre have the supporting characters like Donald Duck and Goofy quickly steal the spotlight from him. And that’s not the only thing they took: as more characters were ingrained into the Disney canon and Mickey was reduced to being a bit player in his own features, the scrappy traits that once endeared him to the public were siphoned away to his costars. And what was left for him once the childlike curiosity, playfulness, brash temper, big heart and fierce determination were gone? What kind of personality could Mickey cultivate for himself into when there was no personality left?

Thanks a lot, Lisa.

By the late 40s and early 50s, everything that made Mickey enjoyable was scrubbed away into a bland, neighborly squeaky-clean corporate-friendly icon. He was good for selling merch, but his cartoons suffered severely for it. Mickey was paired up with his faithful dog Pluto to keep things more interesting, though that resulted in him getting far more to do than his master. I always thought Pluto worked better as a supporting role rather than the main star, so I’ve never been crazy about the Pluto shorts or these in particular because…well, let’s look at a comedic dog and master duo done right:

Wallace, for all his mechanical ingenuity and good nature, is more than a bit of an idiot. Gromit is vastly smarter and is capable of expressing a variety of relatable emotions despite never uttering a word (though that has less to do with him being a dog and more due to the fact that he has no mouth). Whenever there’s trouble (usually of Wallace’s own making), Gromit steps up to the plate and the two always manage to work past their shortcomings together to save the day. They may not always be on the same level as each other, but their camaraderie and the situations they get into certainly make for an entertaining time.

As for Mickey, he may have been a lot of things in his prime, but he certainly wasn’t stupid. So seeing the resilient rodent who sailed steamships, conducted his way through storms, battled giants, saved kingdoms, slayed dragons and controlled the very cosmos have his IQ substantially lowered just so he could play second fiddle to his pet…well, it feels downright insulting. Pluto’s Christmas Tree was the second-to-last short made before Mickey’s thirty year-long retirement, and it’s a prime showcase for all the problems that come with his extreme flanderization, right down to the fact that his name isn’t even the one that’s in the title.

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A Public Patreon Poll!

Hi everyone! I’ve been hard at work on the reviews for December when I hit a crossroads concerning a certain character who’s popped up more than once (hint: he’s mean, he’s orange, and he’s due to be homeless by January). Without going into too much details, a recurring joke I had planned for him which fit in rather nicely with the short I’m reviewing spiraled into something of a sendoff for the character. I knew I wanted to “fire” him after the election, and what I had in mind was nothing short of apropos (and more than a little cathartic). Then I had second thoughts: since what happens to him is a subversion of what I’m reviewing, would it be too mean-spirited, even for a monster like him? I made a poll to gauge your opinions on whether or not I should keep what I had planned in the review or just leave him out altogether. Click HERE to learn more and let me know what you think. I’ll see you in December, and I hope you have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

(If you don’t have a Patreon, just leave your choice in the comments.)

The Masque of the Orange Death

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Dedicated to the voters, the victims, and the immortal Edgar Allan Poe.

The Orange Death had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal or hideous. Bile was its avatar and seal – the madness and horror of the orange bile. There were sharp pains and the inability to breathe. Coughs and fevers wracked the body, with the bile that manifested from the lungs spewing outward from the victim, shutting them out from the aid and sympathy of their administration. And the whole infection, progress and termination of the disease were the incidents of over an agonizing two weeks.

But the Prince Drumpfero was snappy and dauntless and outrageous. When his dominion was half-depopulated, he summoned to his presence many of his hale and hearty courtiers that heeded his Twitter (a parrot who served as his most constant companion and was prone to obnoxiously shouting his master’s innermost thoughts). With these he retired to the deep seclusion of his grandest, whitest house, one of many opulent palaces he had acquired or built in his lifetime. This was an extensive and magnificent structure, recently accented by additions based on the prince’s own eccentric, garish taste. Several walls, yuge walls, girdled it in. These walls had gates of iron. The courtiers, servants, and guards, having entered, welded the bolts on the prince’s orders. They resolved to leave means neither of ingress or egress to the folly of despair or altruism. The outside world could take care of itself, at least until the last dregs of ACA were extinguished.

The castle was amply provisioned, with such precaution that the courtiers might withdraw any bids to defy their sovereign. In the meantime it was folly to reprimand, or to think. The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure: There was gold. There was golf. There were hamberders, there was covfefe, there were steaks with ketchup and wine. There were rappers with egos the size of Mount Everest. There was the YMCA. There were prostitutes, there were toadies, there were apologists. There was fake news. There were Russian spies. There were Puritan evangelicals. There were conspiracy theorists. There were degenerates. There were very fine people on both sides. All these and security from prosecution was within.

Without was the Orange Death.

It was on the close of the fourth year of the prince’s rule, and the seventh or eighth month of his seclusion, and while the pestilence raged so furiously around him that the Prince Drumpfero entertained his friends and followers at an un-masked ball of the most unusual significance. I say un-masked because while the point of a traditional masked ball is to dress in costumes and masks to make merry, the prince and his company were vehemently opposed to wearing masks of any kind, even going so far as to shame the few wise enough to adhere to the rules.

It was a meretricious scene, that un-masquerade. But first, let me tell you of the rooms in which it was held. There were seven, an imperial suite, encircled by an uprooted rose garden. In many palaces, such suites form a long straight vista adorned with streamers, balloons, lights, banners, decorative fauna, and other joyful accoutrements. Here the case was very different, as might have been expected from the prince’s third wife’s bizarre loathing of interior decorating. The apartments were irregularly displaced, highly priced – one had to pay an exorbitant amount to enter – and there was a sharp turn every twenty feet and to each turn a novel effect: in the middle of each wall there sat a tall and narrow stained glass window, its color in accordance with the prevailing hue of the chamber they presided in. That in the eastern extremity was gilded in, for example, red, and blood-red too were its windows. The second chamber was gold throughout – the third pure white – the fourth, a timorous yellow – the fifth, a rich green – the sixth, royal purple.

The seventh apartment was closely carpeted in blue, with tapestries of the same material and hue hanging from the ceiling down to the floor. But in this chamber only, the color of the windows failed to correspond with the setting. The panes here were orange, and tiny, yet they were embedded in the walls in random clusters so that they took up more space than that of the brick and mortar used to build the chamber.

Now in no one of the first six apartments were there any lamp or candelabrum, but in the corridors along each suite marched a procession bearing torches aloft proudly. These torches projected their light and the visage of the glowering marchers through the mirrored tinted glass, and so glaringly illuminated the rooms; thus were produced a multitude of gaudy, distorted appearances. But in the western blue chamber, a single candle flickered behind each of the numerous orange panes. The scant firelight, clashing hues and dancing shadows produced an effect not unlike the vivid coloration of a creeping insect; it produced such a shock upon those who entered that there were few in the company who dared to step in at all.

It was in this apartment, also, that there stood against the western wall, a gigantic clock that the prince’s wife had been unable to dispose of. It was a beautiful thing, this clock, its ebony wood gleaming in spite of the years of scarring and abuse it had endured in that house. The pendulum swung to and fro with a heavy, monotonous clang, and when the hour was to be stricken, there came from the clock’s brazen lungs a sound which was deep and clear and loud and exceedingly musical – yet of so peculiar a note and emphasis that, at each hour, the musicians and dancers were constrained to pause momentarily to hearken the sound, even as the rest of the company strove to ignore it and carry on with their revel. When the echoes fully ceased, those who had attended the cry of the clock laughed to themselves and smiled as if at their own nervousness and folly, making whispered vows that the clock would not dare to make such an audacious chime again the next time. Yet after the lapse of sixty minutes there came another chiming of the clock more thunderous than the previous one, and each peal drew more attention and a greater sense of disconcert from the company than they would have admitted to.

But in spite of these things, it was a glittering assembly. The tastes and leadership of the prince were peculiar at best. He had ideas, many ideas, the best ideas. He disregarded the “decorum” of mere civility. His plans were fiery and all-consuming, and his conceptions glimmered with little understanding beyond his scope. There were many outside the palace who thought him mad. His followers felt that he was not. It was necessary to insult and shout down and assault his dissenters to prove that he was not.

He had directed, in no small part with the party that he had so ensconced himself with, the moveable embellishments of the seven chambers upon this occasion; it was his own guiding taste that which had given character to his auspicious company. Be sure they were grotesque. There were delirious fancies of the tyrannical fashion. There was little of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, and more than a little of that which might have excited disgust. To and fro in the seven chambers there stalked, in fact, a multitude of schemes. And these – the schemes – writhed in and about, taking hue from the rooms and the people within, and causing the wild music of the orchestra to echo in their steps, reverberate through the air, inhabit those who indulge them until they were accepted as the very nature of being, the only method of living.

And again, there strikes the ebony clock eager to be heard above the hedonistic bacchanalia. And for a moment, all is still and silent except for the clock and the boorish chortles of the ignorant prince as he turns his back to it once more. And now again the music swells and the schemes thrive. The hedonistic reverie lurches forward more boldly than ever; but to the westward chamber there are now none of the anti-maskers who venture, for the night is waning away and the wave of blue, the fleeting candlelight, and the emphatic sound of the clock appalls. The other apartments are densely crowded – no social distancing between two or twelve souls – and in these apartments beat feverishly the hearts of those who desperately cling to their own lives above all others.

And the revel went whirlingly on, until the sounding of midnight commenced upon the clock. Thus too, it happened, before the last chimes echoed into silence, that there were several individuals in the crowd who grew aware of the presence of a figure which had arrested the attention of few people before. And the rumor of this new presence, having spread itself around in whispers, arose at length from among the whole assembly a buzz, a sense of recognition, and a growing murmur of horror and revulsion.

There are chords in the hearts of the most reckless which cannot be touched without emotion. Then there are those to whom a simple pin prick is equivalent to a stab through the heart. In truth, the masquerade license of the night had out-Heroded Herod, and gone beyond the taste of any rational being’s decorum; garish displays of bloodied opponents, smears against races and creeds alien to their way of living, violent demonstrations of their feelings towards their regime’s critics. And yet the whole company seemed to deeply feel that in the costume and bearing of the familiar stranger, neither wit nor propriety existed.

The figure was tall and bloated, shrouded from head to foot in the stench of fast food and the grave. The simple cloth mask fitted over his nose and mouth barely concealed the visage of none other than the Prince Drumpfero himself; the resemblance to his swollen, corpse-like countenance was so eerie that the closest scrutiny would have difficulty in detecting the cheat. His wispy straw-colored toupee flew about his dome as he moved, appearing for all the world as if it were caught in a hurricane. And yet this might have endured, if not approved by the revellers in good jest if the pretender had not gone so far in assimilating the image of their dear leader with that of the Orange Death: his ill-fitting blue suit and drooping necktie was dabbled in orange – and his sloping, sneering brow with all other visible features of the face, were smeared with the tangerine horror. Only the cerulean blue mask remained perfectly spotless.

Every man, woman, person, camera and TV turned as one to look upon this intruder, and to the man whom he so wildly impersonated. When the eyes of the Prince Drumpfero fell upon this scornful imitation, he was seen to be convulsed with apoplexy. Then in the next moment, his bronzed brow reddened with rage.

“WHO THE HELL,” he whined, pointing at the interloper, “WHO THE HELL DOES THIS GUY THINK HE IS?! Grab him! Get him outta here! Lock him up! And rip that mask off! Then I’ll know who to fire next!”

It was in the far eastern red chamber in which stood the Prince Drumpfero as he made his petulant demands. With little hesitation, the most loyal and bloodthirsty of his followers – his unwavering crimson-capped acolytes and the officers of the law – charged forth with all the ferocity of hounds at the climax of a chase. Through the red room they hunted their quarry – into the gold apartment – through the gold into the white – through the white into the yellow – through the yellow to the green – and through the purple. Knives and firearms waved about. The onlookers cheered. The air around the pursuers was thick with oaths and slurs thrown their target’s way. Yet the figure did not slow its course, nor did it hasten.

It was when the attackers came within three feet of their target that the latter turned to face them in the blue chamber. There was a sharp cry – a blast of gunfire – a spray of bullets – and the orange windows shattered as one. Where candlelight once guttered there was now the black night air.

And the prince’s mob laid on the floor, gasping for breath as orange bile spewed from every pore. The figure, who had remained untouched, turned its gaze from its victims back up to the prince, still standing agape in the red apartment. The gasps turned to faint sobs, then nothing at all.

Barely flinching, the prince pushed more observers in between him and the figure in blue. He called for courage, for action, for more supporters to stand back and stand by as others took up arms and, somewhat more reluctantly than the first, charged into the chamber ahead. Their fate was sealed exactly as the previous cavalry’s. Undaunted, the prince grabbed anyone unfortunate to be in his vicinity and shoved them forward: the unctuous courtiers, the grasping musicians and dancers, the barbaric sentinels, covetous sycophants, servile advisors, his petulant adult children and his own ghastly wife. All of them dropped prostrate and heaving in the blue room, their corpses spilling out into the hallway beyond.

The prince looked around. Everyone had given their lives for him, as he had made them swear to when he came into his power. Surely there was one more soul in this house willing to shoulder the cruel fate about to be bestowed on him, yes? He had never lost anything before; Prince Drumpfero was certainly no loser. It was a known law of the universe.

But now the masked figure weaved its way over the cooling, trembling bodies. Not a footfall touched the orange-stained carpet. The prince’s fingernails dug into the wall behind him. He yelped for aid, for comfort, for his mother, for somebody –

And the figure removed his mask.

The prince screamed.

And now was acknowledged the presence – and identity – of the true Orange Death. He had come not like a thief in the night but welcomed in with open arms, spreading his own sickness through the carelessness, indifference, avarice and wanton cruelty of others, until there was no one left to destroy but himself. He had been there from the very start; the form he took was merely his most recent incarnation.

And the last of the revelers died curled up in the filth spewed along the cold, orange-mucked halls. And the flames of the torches expired. And the life of the black clock did not expire with the throng but chimed out louder than ever, heralding the arrival of the castle’s future master who would, in due time, reclaim the faded white house on its once-shining hill and return it to a little of its former glory stolen by the vapid, vile prince.

And peace, and growth, and justice – and the reminder of what happens to those who condone the Orange Death – held dominion over all.


Well, that’s an interesting way to tell someone they’re fired, isn’t it? I do hope you enjoyed this on-the-nose spin on Poe’s timeless tale. I intended to post my own thoughts on the election outcome when news broke, but this overblown retelling came into my head and simply wouldn’t leave me alone. If you can’t already tell, I am beyond thrilled that by January we’ll have a competent and compassionate leader again, and the man responsible for so much anguish will be facing charges (that is if he doesn’t succeed in his obvious attempt at a coup first). Until then, let me know what you think, if I did a good job spoofing this story, and be sure to vote for what holiday specials you want to see me review in December! Stay safe, and special thanks to everyone who voted!