To: The inhabitants of Earth ‹humanity@earth.com›
From: Satan ‹lucifer@microsoft.com›
Subject: Clearing up a few things

Dear whimpering, weak-fleshed cowards —

Hey, what’s up? It’s me, Old Scratch. Just wanted to drop a line and clarify some matters that have caused confusion lately. I don’t chat with you puny mortals one-on-one very often anymore, except for those devil-worshippers, who annoy me, frankly, what with their human sacrifices and candles and what-not. (That is sooo 12th century.)

Anyhoo, people are running around like ninnies declaring that this thing is evil, or that thing is of the devil, or whatever, and it’s bugging me. Believe me, I know what’s evil, and you people are so far off it makes me shudder right down to my horrible cloven feet.

Halloween? Playing cards? Harry Potter books? Please. I had nothing to do with any of those. (My accountant WISHES I’d written Harry Potter!) Sure, they could all be used for evil purposes — I mean, I guess you could put razor blades in Halloween candy, or become a gambling addict with the cards, or crack someone’s skull open with a book — but if you think about it, ANYTHING could be used for evil purposes. A hardcover Bible weighs more than any of the Harry Potter novels and would be much more useful as a weapon, if hurting someone via literature is really what you’re after. (And if it is, don’t tell anyone I made you do it. I think it’s a lame idea, and I get blamed for enough stuff already.)

The thing is, you’re looking in all the wrong places. You think I’m going to be that obvious? I mean, yeah, I got Saddam Hussein started, and I used to correspond with the Unabomber, until his posts started getting weird and I lost a few damned souls in an unfortunate explosion in the mailroom. (Question: When people in Hades are killed, where do you think they go? Answer: Believe it or not, there’s ANOTHER hell, underneath this one. And the guy in charge of that place — you don’t EVEN want to mess with him.)

I’ve certainly influenced some of the more obvious evil presences in your wretched world, but for the bulk of my handiwork, you’ll have to look in more subtle places. I prefer to stay low-key, as I’m able to worm my way in more easily that way.

For example, Martha Stewart obviously has a pact with me; she has made no secret of this, and hardly a day goes by but that I see her down here, trying to liven up the underworld with her infernal sprigs of rosemary. But have you considered Keanu Reeves, who has not an ounce of talent yet has still become one of the most popular celebrities in your idolatrous society? How do you think that happened, you foolish, clothes-wearing, body-having dimwits?

You want evil? Take a look at speed bumps, Pokemon, elevator music, the Grateful Dead, “Waiting for Godot,” North Dakota, “The Christmas Box,” e-mail spam, People magazine, the USA Network, Hardee’s restaurants, Jay Leno, T-shirts with slogans on them, the Chicago Cubs, instant mashed potatoes, and the Shane Company. Everywhere there is blandness, mediocrity or senselessness, you can be sure I was involved — especially if the thing is inexplicably popular. (You people are so fond of dull things!) Most of the things you consider to be 100 percent offensively BAD — profane rap music, movie sequels, Adolf Hitler — I hardly even pay attention to. They don’t need my help.

I guess I shouldn’t rant. But being the Dark Lord of the Underworld isn’t exactly an easy job — seriously, the paperwork alone is unbelievable — and sometimes the stress gets to me. Plus, the neighbors in 664 have been having loud parties at night lately, which keeps the tormented souls awake, and you know how grouchy THEY can get when they’re tossed back into the flaming pits in the morning without having had a good night’s rest. So if I weren’t the devil, I would apologize for going on like this. But since I am the devil, beware my fiery wrath, for it is mighty and powerful!

Anyway, I need to go; I’ve got Freddie Prinze Jr. on the phone, wanting his soul back just because HE forgot to ask for brains along with the fame and fortune. In closing, I’ve read the book of Revelation, so I know what kind of terrific things I’ll be doing soon. I haven’t read it all the way to the end, but I’m pretty sure I wind up on top.

Laughing ominously,
The Devil

Somehow this seemed appropriate (is that the right word?) for the Halloween season. I've always found the devil, as portrayed in popular culture, to be an interesting character. (Note that the "Satan" in this column is the Satan of "Damn Yankees," "Bedazzled," and not a few "Twilight Zone" episodes: powerful, but slightly bumbling, and nothing we can't overcome if we want to.) The idea of him behaving in the manner here -- trying in vain to be scary while simultaneously being chummy -- is funny to me; I don't know if it is to anyone else or not.

Also, I like that since he hasn't read to the end of Revelation, he doesn't realize that he loses at the end. HA!