I have (had, as we’ll see) three pop cultural Holy Grails - media objects that I remembered from my youth, but couldn’t remember the titles of. For many years, I couldn’t even prove they existed beyond my own hazy memories. Recently, I’ve been making a serious effort to find them.
The first was a 90s fighting game with a hopping vampire character. I finally tracked it down, the game was Martial Champion, the hopping vampire was Titi (in the USA), and I finally had proof of the existence of this game I’d been trying to tell people about for at least a decade.
The next one was a story I’d remembered reading about a man who was a Martian/possessed by a Martian who remembered when Mars was lush and green, and was angry and frustrated at both his inability to render all the million shades of green of Martian spring in his paintings, and at how humanity seemed hellbent on de-greening their own planet. I even remembered the title, “A Million Shades of Green.” but I could never find an author or even an acknowledgement it existed. The internet’s obsessive cataloging and indexing of everything has finally caught up to my memories and now I know it was one of J.O. Jeppson’s (pen name of Janet Asimov) “Pshrinks Anonymous” series of light science fiction stories, and was published in July 1981’s Asimov’s Science Fiction. Disappointingly, I think it’s one of the handful of 1981 issues I *don’t* own.
The last one is still MIA. A man is trying to climb basement stairs with his teeth, the implication is he’s tied up or paralyzed or something. He remembers how it happened, thus telling us the story. He had invented an immortality serum, but his wife was cheating and finally wanted rid of him. She caught him at the top his basement stairs, and cut off his head with an axe. The man’s severed head was trying to climb back up to his body! Dunh dunh dunh! I feel like I have to be misremembering something, because you’d think a severed head climbing stairs with its teeth would a unique enough set of keywords for an internet search to turn it up. Not so. This is the oldest of the grails, and the one I haven’t even made the slightest of progress on. For some reason, I associate it with the middle school “weekly reader” type periodical we read in English class - the one that some plagiarist submitted the Garfield story, “Babes and Bullets” to, and embarrassed the editorial staff when they gave it an award and serialized it in their magazine.
Anyone out there remember a story where a severed head (or maybe a de-limbed torso?) climbed some basement stairs?