"Wrested Peace"

"The Mummy's Tooth"

"Scarred Straight"

"The Survivors"

"Sights for Sore Isotopes"


comic updated October 17, 2008

Haven't been much of a TV viewer over the last decade, but I do tend to have one on, most of the time, for the sake of background noise. And when I have one on, it's usually tuned to good, neutral programming -- vaguely pleasant, passingly informative, but nothing so clever or interesting that I run the risk of having my train of thought hijacked. The Travel Channel, the History Channel, Boomerang, all useful towards this end.

This being the Halloween season, the Travel Channel has been leaning heavily on shows of the "World's Scariest Places" and "World's Creepiest Destinations" stripe. I like 'em well enough; I'm an easy mark for ghost stories, and they're all similar enough that I usually don't have to break my stride whilst working. Haunted hotel, old castle, secondhand mansion with rattling light fixtures; check, check and check.

And yet, I can't help thinking that these shows would benefit from a little truth in advertising. World's Creepiest Places? Come on. We're talking about well-lit buildings with guided tours and gift shops. I can tell you one thing -- the REAL scariest places on earth don't charge admission*.

Where's the show about the basement you were left alone in when you were nine years old? Or the long-neglected bathroom at the back of your grandparents' house, or the deserted hallway on the second floor of the church that only has red emergency lighting at night? For sheer creepiness, touring Dracula's castle doesn't hold a candle to having to spending an hour on a stained sofa in a ratty apartment keeping up a conversation with a bearded herbalist while your friend makes a run for a bag of ice.

*All right, not technically true, but they usually also have signs out front saying things like, "Bartender Has Shotgun," "American Cars Only," and "Don't Ask About the Bathroom."

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