Welcome to the <COMPANY> team, <NAME>! On completion of the confluence training and after the issue of your company laptop, be sure to pick up your ceremonial robe and dagger from the <COMPANY> Temple of the Formless Darkness, and begin your descent down the 9,000 Steps of the Forsaken, each inscribed with a rune of the nameless, those who dwell in the fringes of the void that consumes all and shall bring ruin to the world of man. On reaching the final step, remember to light the sacred candle formed from the fat of the thousand young of the blighted one, who dwells even now in a blood drenched pit beneath our <LOCATION> headquarters and whose croaking voice is said to drive men mad who dare to listen. Failure to do so will doubtless cause the nameless to whisper your name, and you do NOT want that to happen. The last person that happened to… well, we are still cleaning that one up weeks later. Step forward toward the profane tabernacle and tell it that which you secretly desire while drawing blood from your palm with the dagger and smearing it across your eyes. Do not lie, for its currency is lies and you shall be made into coin for your audacity. On finishing this task, a great bell shall sound, a grim and vile intonation, and you must retreat as swiftly as possible, back up the steps and do not dare venture a glance back, no matter what you might hear or what promises are made to your bleeding ears. At the top of the steps, remove your robe, return the dagger, and speak of what you heard to no one. That shall be your eternal burden to bear.
Please join me in congratulating <NAME> on <TIME> years at <COMPANY>! Mr. <NAME> presides over <DEPARTMENT> operations, working with his team to ensure platform stability and performance. That is quite an accomplishment, <NAME>. Indeed, there are whispers that far darker forces are at work. That late at night a hooded figure can be seen moving from server rack to server rack in our datacenters, leaving burnt offerings and the telltale scent of brimstone in the wake of his vigil. It is said if you trail behind this stealthy form and listen closely you hear the murmurs of a long dead tongue, a droning chant to stir otherworldly entities and malign forces into wakefulness, whence they take up their vigil over the machines.
This says nothing of sanguine fluids that interminably leak from these infernal constructs, nor how they glow a baleful green and stink of rotting flesh. The buzzing of flies greets the arrival of each new query, and the wailing of damned issues from any server unfortunate enough to connect to these corrupted devices. Standing in their presence overlong erodes one’s sanity, until all that remains is the mortal husk where once a human being stood. The conscious mind destroyed by whatever dark arts and foul magic are at play in these fetid pits of debasement. These are less datacenters than cathedrals to the profane. Unholy places that rot the souls of humankind and bend them to malign purpose.
Of course, no one would go so far as to implicate you in any of this. We are merely the vessels for all of this madness. Hollowed out to be used up in search of uptime. We are supplicants to the cause, and eagerly complete our toil in the name of this incomprehensible evil. Though, one does wonder if you can account for your whereabouts when the whisperer in the dark makes his rounds, turning all to serve his foul intent.
Taylor Swift is a musical chameleon who has spanned the country and pop genres and created several chart topping hits. She is a one woman tour de force, working as both singer and songwriter, her dulcet tones acting as the voice of a generation of young women. She is also a fiercely devoted cultist of the ruinous powers that lurk behind the veil of humanity, which can be seen by examining her music with a critical eye. Join me on a journey through her musical catalog and into the very eye of madness.
This song is perhaps her most somber, dark work. In the lyrics she exhorts an unknown third party as follows:
I thought heaven can’t help me now
Nothing lasts forever
But this is gonna take me down
He’s so tall, and handsome as hell
He’s so bad but he does it so well
I can see the end as it begins my one condition is
Say you’ll remember me
Standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset babe
Red lips and rosy cheeks
Say you’ll see me again even if it’s just in your wildest dreams
This person she is addressing is, of course, Cthulhu, dead dreamer of R’lyeh. Taylor Swift realizes no heavenly force can protect her when he rises from his sunken sepulcher. She knows Cthulhu will “take me down” as he takes down all of humanity, proving that nothing lasts forever as all that is or ever was is unmade.
It should be noted Cthulhu is gigantic, truly immense in size. Further, in seeing its true face, Ms Swift’s mind will be shattered, and Cthulhu will appear eerily attractive in its horrid cruelty. The following line “He’s so bad but he does it so well” is a recognition of Cthulhu’s place in the pantheon of the eldest. Taylor Swift’s only hope is that once the dark work is done, once Cthulhu again returns to slumber that this monstrous creature remembers her in its dead dreaming. These memories will stand as the last tattered remnants of her existence.
Looking ahead she says:
And when we’ve had our very last kiss
But my last request it is
You see me in hindsight
Tangled up with you all night
Burn it down
The last kiss being, of course, when Cthulhu shoves her into its ravenous maw, tangling her flesh into its tentacles and devouring her completely as an eternal night falls and the world burns down around them. Truly a nightmarish vision of a grim future Taylor Swift is working to expedite. Absolutely haunting.
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
Another dark exploration of the hidden world just beyond the veil. The focus of this tune is Nyarlathotep, the crawling chaos. A closer look shall reveal the hideous truth.
We hadn’t seen each other in a month
When you said you needed space. (What?)
Then you come around again and say
“Baby, I miss you and I swear I’m gonna change, trust me.”
Nyarlathotep is the deity most likely to walk the earth in the course of its grim duties. To do so requires forcing its immense bulk and power into a feeble human form, which it can only do for so long before needing to return to the stars once more, literally needing “space”. As the servant of Azathoth, Nyarlathotep represents disorder itself. It only stands to reason that in its human guise it told Ms. Swift it is “gonna change”, for it is change itself.
As the song progresses, we witness Taylor Swift becoming more erratic and angry, increasingly emotional at the fickle nature of this vile fiend. She practically froths as she sings “I’m really gonna miss you picking fights, And me falling for it screaming that I’m right”. Nyarlathotep is an entity of madness, who destroys the minds of those who it comes into contact with. Taylor Swift has obviously interacted with this malign force, at great personal cost to her sanity, which is why she wows “we are never ever ever ever getting back together, like ever”, for she knows doing so will destroy her utterly.
I Knew You Were Trouble
Perhaps her least subtle ode to the old ones. It is no mere coincidence that one of the most popular remixes replaces Taylor Swift’s anguished cries with that of a goat, for I Knew You Were Trouble is an ode the Sub Niggurath, the Black Goat of the woods.
The song begins:
Once upon a time a few mistakes ago
I was in your sights, you got me alone
You found me, you found me, you found me
I guess you didn’t care, and I guess I liked that
And when I fell hard you took a step back
Without me, without me, without me
It is possible, perhaps even likely that Shub Niggurath came to Taylor Swift when she was alone in the woods, which she admits was the culmination of a series of mistakes. In its guise as a fertility god, we can imagine Shub Niggurath lifted her into the air with oily black tentacles and showing her the teeming masses of its vile children. Finally, it released her, dropping her to ground before disappearing once more into the darkness, leaving her alone again. It must have been terrifying.
The chorus of the song starts:
I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to places I’d never been
‘Til you put me down, oh
This confirms our suspicions about what occurred based on the first verse. Taylor Swift feels shame at the languid embrace she experienced, and abandoned now that Shub Niggurtath has left her behind. Her shattered mind grapples with what she experienced during the brief moments of their encounter. As she wails near the finale, “And the saddest fear comes creeping in
That you never loved me or her, or anyone, or anything, yeah”.
Of course it did not, Taylor. Shub Niggurath is incapable of love, leaving only a swath of devastation in it wake. How nightmarish to be caught in those tides.
Congratulations on your 12 year anniversary. That is an impressive amount of time spent within this institution, but nothing more than a grain of sand falling through the hourglass for the servants of Vecna, for whom even death is but an inconvenience. They who are asked “At what price, power?” and answer they shall pay any cost. Perhaps as little as an eye and a hand. Perhaps far more. Always at the cost of your soul. We wallow in the filth of this world, in forgotten ruins, trading in secrets and defiling the works of man and elves alike. Our cults are hidden in plain sight, in the heart of your cities, corrupting allies and foes alike. We are an inclusive blight. A spreading rot. You cannot defeat us. Do you not feel as though it is time to join us? Give in to the call of lichdom and secret your spirit away in phylacteries hidden the world over. Watch as feeble heroes stumble and flail, trying to cast down your dark designs, but only ensnaring themselves deeper within your webs. Watch as the tides of undeath swell and wash this world clean of the blight of the just and the pure. We are waiting for you. We have an eternity.
Having seen the latest entry in the Star Wars franchise, I think we can all agree it was better than the lackluster rehash that was The Force Awakens, and vastly superior to execrable prequels. Having said that, viewing it in the larger context of the Star Wars whole does complicate matters. Rather than a by the numbers review, I thought I would address these points by adding on a post credits sequence that I think would have really cleared things up.
Oh, EXTREME SPOILERS for Rogue One, by the way.
I’m not even kidding. Here there be spoilers.
Ok, you were warned enough. Here we go.
INT – PALPATINE’S THRONE ROOM
Emperor Palpatine is seated on his throne. Beside him is Darth Vader, breathing like an asthmatic trying to do chin ups. In front of them stands an Imperial actuary in a smart uniform with a clipboard.
And so you can see, we achieved a 300% increase in combat effectiveness with the use of simple hand grenades…
Why no grenades? Literally every main character, er, rebel agent of any import was killed by a grenade or an explosion of some sort during that last skirmish.
I don’t like them. I have already gotten the rebels to agree to no grenades. No grenades.
If you will forgive me, your highness, they were very effective. Ridiculously, stupidly effective. The rebels probably can’t even afford that many grenades, which is why they’d be eager to agree to such terms. Meanwhile we’ve been blowing our budget on ineffective plastic armor for the Stormtroopers.
I am done talking about this.
Very well. That brings us to the matter of Galen Erso. I understand we murdered his wife in front of him.
PALPATINE laughing darkly
Was anyone at all concerned about this? How it might affect the quality of his work?
Do we have something on this guy? Are we blackmailing him with information that would ensure compliance? Like… Does he eat people? Because that would be great to know. He really wouldn’t want that getting out. Being a cannibal.
No. That is a completely different show.
Did we at least have people peer review what he was doing? Any oversight on his transmissions?
No. You have to trust your people, you know. It is what good leaders do. Delegate.
Look, there is delegation, then their abdicating your responsibility to ensure the safety and security of…
Vader begins force choking the Actuary. The Actuary gags and gasps until Emperor Palpatine waves his hand and releases the man.
How did you like that, eh?
I… I didn’t.
I bet not. We’ve got more where that came from, you know.
Can I just… Is that like a sexual thing for you guys? Does it turn you on?
No! I just choke people. And then my heart rate increases and my breathing gets faster and my blood pressure goes up.
You are describing arousal…
And then little Vader gets excited and stands up to look around and see what is going on…
Still describing arousal…
Enough of this. Did you have further questions, or must you insist on wasting the time of this august body?
Of course. My apologies.I’d like to talk about Eadu if we may.
Am I to understand we had a shield that covered the entire planet and made it immune to penetration by both weapons systems and ships?
Yes. It is an impressive piece of technology and we did not steal the idea from the movie Space Balls.
Of course not. And are we putting this same shield on your… Death Star?
Can I ask why not? It seems like that would be an excellent precautionary measure.
That shit won’t work.
But why? It…
Vader begins force choking the Actuary again. The Actuary gags and chokes, falling to his knees.
Oh my God! You were right! He totally has an erection right now!
Vader loses his concentration, dropping the force choke. The Actuary stands back up.
Oh, when I was rebuilding you I had them put in a bunch of sensors so I could monitor your… you know what? Never mind.
Awkward… Moving along. Now the data the rebels stole. I understand they transmitted from the surface using an imperial dish. Do we know what they transmitted?
Not a clue.
None of ships picked up the blast of data from the planet’s surface…
Our shit didn’t work.
You know, our technology seems incredibly fickle, like it only works in a very specific set of circumstances that… Whatever. Fine. I understand Tarkin gave the order to fire on the facility. Is that correct?
And he did this despite the fact that the rebels were fleeing and we could have examined the missing drive to determine what was transmitted, or reviewed the outbound logs for the planet, which Director Krennic alluded to them keeping, to determine what was sent?
I mean, I guess so.
Do you have any idea how damaging it is to troop morale to fire on your own people? Please tell me you fired him.
No. I put him in charge of the Death Star. Forever.
Of course you did. Great. That’s great. And that brings us to you, Lord Vader. I understand you chased the rebel holding the plans at a brisk walk.
And cornered said rebel, who slid the plans through the door.
And at no point did it occur to you to rip the plans from his hand with your force powers, even though we saw you do that seconds before with the rebels’ blaster weapons, or to throw your lightsaber, or force choke him into submission, or anything?
Uh… I forgot.
I forgot I could do that stuff. Yes.
And where are Tarkin and this Death Star headed now?
And why are they going to Alderaan?
So that when we capture Princess Leia we can demonstrate the power of this fully armed and operation battlestation!
Right. And you need to demonstrate this to her despite the fact she watched you use your super weapon on Eadu and will would likely mention something to that effect?
Oh, she won’t do that.
Really? Because that seems kind of important. Like she’d at least bring that up…
You know what? Fine. Final question. Given that you are seemingly unconcerned with collateral damage or the damage to morale caused by firing on your own troops, can you explain why you had to go through this convoluted effort to build not one, but two secret armies to wage war against each other so you could destroy the Jedi and take over the republic when you could have just as easily waited to finish building the Death Star and fired directly on the Jedi Temple, killing them all in one go? I mean, it is not like they’d have seen it coming given they were standing right next to you multiple times and could not tell you are a Sith lord.
Well, I, that is… actually a way better plan.
Palpatine begins using force lighnting the Actuary. The man writhes and screams as bolts of blue electricity arc through his body
Oh my God! I have the biggest boner right now!
Please join me in wishing a happy one year anniversary to <NAME> of the <PRODUCT> team. While not working on <PRODUCT>, <NAME> acts as our first line of defense against the fearsome Yeti, snow demons who haunt the frigid mountains and forests of Canada. He has a rigorous training regimen consisting of eating at places named Pain & Fromage. I did not know what fromage was, so I looked it up. Apparently he subsists on a diet of suffering and cheese. That is probably not the type of person you want to mess with. Good job on upping your pain tolerance, <NAME>.
And you will need quite a tolerance for pain when the yeti come. Covered in a shaggy hide and immune to the effects of cold, their hook like claws and grotesque fangs are capable of easily rending flesh. Their brutish strength is more than enough to shatter bone in a single blow. They thirst for blood and seek to destroy the world of men, returning to earth to a more primitive, natural state where they alone shall rule over broken tribes of our descendants as cruel overlords. From their ice palaces they shall force the remaining humans to toil in the frozen wastes, bringing the yeti fresh meat and treasures which they will lock away in caves deep beneath the earth.
There will be no winter wonderland, only a cruel and inhospitable plane of suffering and torment, where the wind bites deeply into exposed flesh and the loss of fingers and toes to frostbite is a common occurrence. No art or science, only the unrelenting cold. Bundled in rags, the last free humans will wage an ineffective guerrilla campaign against these arctic horrors. All of this shall come to pass in time. It is inevitable.
Unless, of course, we are first corrupted and taken over by The Thing. That is also up there. Perhaps the yeti themselves are already Things. That is, perhaps, a possibility too terrifying to imagine. You may need to spend more time at Pain & Fromage, <NAME>.
We turn to the spiritual realm for today’s entry. An 80s classic, Runnin’ With the Devil, by Van Halen. David Lee Roth may, by the accounts of his bandmates, have actually been the devil during this time period.
We return once more to the topic of the undead, though opting for eaters of the flesh rather than those who drink blood, and a harsher, more grinding sound. Living Dead Girl by Rob Zombie
We soldier on with a song of love and obsession: Stay, by Shakespeare’s Sister. The video alone is worth the price of admission, featuring a sequined catsuit wearing version of the angel of death.
Halloween claws forth from the earth, desecrating its grave and lurching from the subterranean depths. Leathery wings unfurl as it greets the autumn season and the presages the arrival of fear.
Continuing with the theme of vampires, here is Suspended in Dusk by Type O Negative, one of the greatest Halloween bands of all time.