Articles — George Billions

Gross-Outs, Horror, and Terror

George Billions George Billions Horror

I’ve always been a fan of horror stories. My childhood copies of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series were very well-worn. The grim charcoal illustrations no doubt played a roll in traumatizing a generation of young readers, so much that the books have since been tamed with less terrifying imagery. The stories, though, remain the same. These books are aimed at young readers, but contain the same elements you’ll find in scary stories to tell grownups: gross-outs, horror, and terror. The Master’s Definition I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what defines horror. I had a sort...

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Stephen King’s Lamest Hits

George Billions George Billions

My buddy Sam was ahead of the curve. In middle school, most of the kids who wanted something creepy to read were into R.L. Stine. I was partial to John Bellairs. Not Sam, though. He wasn’t into those baby books. By sixth grade, he’d graduated to the real stuff. He always had a massive Stephen King tome tucked under his arm with his notepads and textbooks. The movie version of The Lawnmower Man came out when I was eleven. It was heavily marketed as Stephen King’s The Lawnmower Man, so naturally I had to ask Sam about it. “I don’t...

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Rooting for the Rule-Breakers

George Billions George Billions

Frank Abagnale is a man who stole millions of dollars by cashing fake checks. Not content to forge checks, he also produced a counterfeit doctor’s license and passport. He used these phony documents for further cons. As it often goes, Frank was eventually caught, tried, and convicted. He managed to escape prison twice. He’s also a genuinely likable, charismatic, and unexpected hero. If you read his autobiography, Catch Me If You Can, you’ll probably end up rooting for this con man for most of the book, even while imagining ways he could effortlessly rob you blind. There’s something exciting about...

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True Crime, Cheap Thrills

George Billions George Billions true crime

I read my first true crime piece a couple decades ago. The experience was so visceral that it sticks with me to this day. It was in a photocopied zine I’d traded through the mail with another publisher. The writing wasn’t great; the author didn’t even capitalize the first word of each sentence. It was barely even an article, but more of a laundry list of atrocities committed by the century’s worst human butchers. It was late at night and I was, admittedly, a little bit stoned, which increased my immersion and made it all the more terrifying. My heart...

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Writers and the Purring Enigma of Cats

George Billions George Billions

Years ago, I shared an apartment with a cat named Ico. My roommate had abducted her from a barn as a kitten. Being from a long line of barn cats, Ico was feral by any measure. She was largely resistant to litter box training. The cat was antisocial even by loose feline standards; we couldn’t have guests, because she would always end up climbing my body like a tree, sinking her claws into my flesh as she attempted to escape the danger. She’d also stalk me and pounce on my face while I was reading a book or sleeping. Ico...

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