My fellow citizens of the world, I'm sure you're familiar with a stereophonic recording entitled "Turn, Turn, Turn" by the Byrds. It's just one of those songs you'll hear many times during your lifetime without even trying to. You don't have to purposefully seek out "Turn, Turn, Turn" the way you would, say, something by Moby Grape. The Byrds song will find you eventually, if not on an oldies radio station then on a rerun of The Wonder Years or a PBS documentary about hippies. If you haven't heard it in a while, just watch late night cable TV and flip through the channels until you find one of those cheeseball half-hour infomercials where they're trying to sell you 392 All-Time Classics From the Sixties As Performed By The Original Artists. (Call now! Operators are standing by! No COD please!) You'll have to imagine the sorta mopey, Pete Seeger-penned (by way of Ecclesiastes) folk-rock ditty with its jangly guitars and wistful lyrics about the passage of time playing in the background as I weepily reflect on the end of Five Monstrous Obstructions.
I am writing this on Halloween night in the year of Our Lord two-thousand-and-eight. In just a few hours, burnt-umber October will give way to slate-gray November, as it must (turn, turn, turn!), and as the month expires so, too, does our humble little writing project. Now, with the virtual cyber techno ink drying our final stories, it is time for solemn reflection. What have we learned, Dorothy? Has there been, in fact, any educational value whatsoever to writing five monster stories, each with its own absurd, arbitrary "obstruction"? It turns out the answer is: a little bit, yes, but this still doesn't count for college credit or anything. I did end up writing a couple of my longest stories ever, so there's that, but I don't know if that's necessarily a good thing. "The verdict," as Tony Randall said in The King of Comedy, "is always in your hands." Mainly, I just wanted to keep the creative part of my brain from atrophying -- at least not for another month -- so by that count, the Five Monstrous Obstructions has been a complete success.
It is the morning of November 1, the Day of the Dead (or Dia de los Muertos as it's known in Mexico) as I write this. Two and a half months ago when Joe first suggested this project, I was very enthusiastic about it. With "Project: Fear Itself" forcibly put on hiatus by NBC, I was eager to continue our association and as I was already engaged in writing a story a week for Unloosen, I had no fears about my ability to come up with four (later five) stories in the space of a month. I was also no stranger to the monster story, having previously written some of the zombie, werewolf and goopus genera. So why go back to the well again? Well, never let it be said that I don't enjoy a challenge -- and some of the obstructions that we had thrown in our paths were definitely tricky to get around. (The trickiest one was probably the zombie story, and I was the one who stipulated that it had to be a voodoo zombie.) If I learned only one thing from this experience, though, it is that Joe Blevins sure is a tough act to follow. The man is a writing demon, an inspired tale-spinner and one of the most creative wordsmiths I know. I'm glad that I can call him my friend and I can't wait to do this again. How about it, Joe?