Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, You gotta help me with this lying man. Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Things went so wrong and now we need a plan.
I only meant to frighten him, I never meant to do him in, Now I don’t know what we should do, Jolene. You know he had us seeing red, The rest’s a blur, but now he’s dead, It was a crime of passion, this I swear to you, Jolene.
He got upset when we accused Him of two timing me and you, And I think the neighbors heard it all, Jolene. Philanderers should get their due, But now it’s up to me and you, And we’re gonna need a lot more bleach, Jolene.
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, We gotta find a place to put this man. Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, You grab those sheets, I’ll go get the gas can.
As long as we don’t drive to slow, We’ll make it down to Mexico, We’ll be in Tijuana by the break of day, Jolene. We’ll dye our hair, we’ll change our names, Nothing will ever be the same, But maybe it’s all for the best, Jolene.
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, You gotta help me with this lying man. Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, We’ll make a brand new start in a new land. Jolene, Jolene.
I guess I technically wrote this unasked-for sequel to Dolly Parton’s song, but the fact is that I woke up with it in my head more or less fully formed. I do love a good murder ballad. This feels a bit like what would happen if “Jolene” met The Pierces “I Shot my Lover in the Head” and slightly ramps up some of the lesbian overtones many people have read in the original song.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, my partner was less than stoked that this fell out of my head. He was pretty good-natured about it, though.
A barren, scorched landscape populated solely by… dads. There are different tribes of dads, from the grill dads and their seared meats to the travel dads and their ability to leave early and make good time.
Sunday night, we heard their story.
The Dadlands is a one-page tabletop RPG, something like Dungeons & Dragons. Unlike Dungeons & Dragons, you don’t really have to have a character sheet, dice, or desire to be a part time volunteer accountant. No. Instead, you make your own dad and strap on a fanny pack with red and green tokens. Red ones represent chaos, like the chaos of setting off illegal fireworks or jury-rigging something with electrical tape. Green ones are order, like going the speed limit or setting an early bedtime.
Every action is decided by pulling a token at random, without looking. If you pull the correct corresponding token(s), the action is success-
Anyhow, we went to go see The Dadlands live one-off at the DAR Constitution Hall in DC. (It’s a lovely venue but get a ride there — trying to park would be a nightmare.) Brennan Lee Mulligan was the DM, while the McElroy brothers and dad were the Dads. I won’t give away the story here, but I will say that they introduced a mechanic that required the players to play cornhole, and it was the most suspense I think I’ve ever felt in my life.
(There was also a rousing chant of “CORNHOLE FOR YOUR SOUL” at one point.)
It got me thinking, too. I have access to a yard now. I have power tools. I could make a cornhole board.
I could print the Dadlands rules.
I could rustle up a handful of fanny packs and some tokens.
… I’m going to have a Dadlands party.
Cosplay would be optional, of course, but recommended. It’s also pretty easy to Get the Look:
Refreshments would be barbecue and a variety of canned beverages. Crispy Stellas, Buds, Coke Classic, Liquid Death, the works.
Now I just need to figure out who in my social circle has a secret Dadliness in their heart. Gender doesn’t matter — it isn’t the Dad on the outside, it’s the Dad on the inside that counts. As Rory Powers once said,
You don’t need kids
To be a Dad
You don’t have to have a penis,
Or even be a man,
You just need Levi jeans
And to be a little drunk, yeah!
It’s a Dad Squad, it’s a Dad Squad!”
This Paranormal Life, episode #271: The Legend of Momo – The Monster that Terrorised Missouri
I’m gonna find a Dad Squad and make them play cornhole to survive a post-apocalyptic hellscape, and it’s going to be amazing.
My partner and I go antiquing pretty frequently. This isn’t necessarily out of any real desire to collect antiques, so much as it is the desire to support the local economy and also own furniture that isn’t particleboard. Some antique shops are very curated and fancy, while others are more… eclectic, shall we say.
Anyhow, if you’ve ever spent enough time in an antique shop, you’ve probably passed by at least one thing that you could absolutely picture holding the soul of a tubercular Victorian child. These are those things, ranked in order of how likely I think the potential ghost inside is likely to go all Annabelle on someone:
5. The Blinded Bride.
This is actually just a rad piece of outdoor sculpture, to be honest. It’s eerie, it’s evocative, and I love it. The artist who makes them, Shara Banisadr, is very cool. She was neatening up the area around the sculptures, and talked to us briefly about her work. Their faces are made of old vinyl records!
This wire lady also has friends:
I could probably see this particular piece in a setting like Bloodborne or Elden Ring, but I really think she’s more likely to be kind of sad versus actively murderous. Unless you try to hurt her or steal her blindfold, then she would absolutely wreck you like a Mike Tyson made of fishhooks. Truly the luxury model of potentially haunted object. I’m absolutely going to invest in one of these ladies once I have sufficient outdoor space (or a window that directly faces my neighbors, either or). I feel like they’d be good companions for all of the Isabellas.
Murderghost probability: 10%
4. The Courteous Wig Stand.
There’s something about her I dig. She reminds me of the women in 50s ads for housewares. The small, vague smile and wide eyes speaks of a kind of brittle, exhausted politeness. It’s the same expression and energy I had back when I worked retail, and I can appreciate that.
She’s probably not malevolent. You’re much more likely to turn around in a darkened hallway and see her hovering four feet in the air behind you, glowing faintly and slowly rotating. Somewhere, a distant, echoey voice like wind over an open grave will whisper, “Do you need help finding anything?”
There’s no saving you if she runs out of Valium, though.
Murderghost probability: 30%
3. The Fading Child.
There’s a certain sad-yet-focused intensity in this kid. The level of detail in their face, coupled with the strokes almost the exact color of dried blood, creates an image that’s at once aesthetically pleasing and extremely unsettling. They look vaguely displeased about something, and I’m pretty sure they think that’s my fault.
This is basically the exact kind of picture you see as a haunted object in movies. A mansion burns down, or cracks and crumbles like the House of Usher, and all that’s left is this kid. Staring. Subtly frowning. Lightning cracks the sky, and their brow furrows ever so slightly.
I don’t think the child is likely to murder anyone directly, but I refuse to believe that they haven’t been associated with a series of “accidents.”
Murderghost probability: 50%
2. The Tragic Hound.
Don’t let the puppy eyes fool you. This is absolutely haunted, and absolutely just waiting for you to let your guard down.
See the hints of red in the eyes? The way they seem to follow you around the room?
This painting absolutely houses some kind of Shadow Hearts-style monster. Like, I don’t know, an evil mailman. Notice how even the shop owner placed him behind several objects. It’s because they know. Do not gaze upon the full glory of the tragic hound, lest it pursue you for an eternity.