Lesson One: The Purpose of Pop Culture

The demon Slubgrip's previous adventures were gathered and recorded in Fr. Longenecker's Lent Book, The Gargoyle Code. Written in Screwtapian style, Slubgrip instructs his protege Dogwart, while trying to keep tabs on his own 'patient'—all while the tempters tumble through Lent to Easter Day.

Dwight LongeneckerCome to order! Come to order! Worms! Slimetoads! Grubs and Slugs, Come to order!

Now then, that's better. Nothing worse than starting off the day with your interminable squeaking and popping. You are no doubt feeling gratified that you have not only moved up from larvae, but you have actually graduated from the maggot class, and you are indeed lucky to be here receiving instruction in my class. Consider it an honor, and some small recognition of your capability as tempters. However, my dear annelids remember that you are still worms, and you have an awful lot to learn, and (I may add) much to suffer before you can hope to move up to the next level. Remember fish bait my dear fellows. Remember fish bait. 

You there, Grimwort, you despicable nematode, stop squirming will you? Try to sit still for a moment if you can. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Professor Slubgrip and this is Pop Cult 101. Here at the University of Bowelbage we are sentenced—ahem, I mean privileged—to spend time together learning the art of tempting those repulsive hairless bipeds the enemy seems to be so pleased with. As you have moved from the maggot class you will no doubt have mastered the simpler levels of temptation. Professor Crapulous will have taken you through the basic dimensions of rage and violence, while Dr. Strangle's sessions on lust and perversion will, no doubt, have tickled your disgusting adolescent imaginations. I hope you will remember Tepshank's classic lectures on sloth and despair, not forgetting Dr. Snout's memorable lecture series on gluttony, drunkenness, and addictions.

All that is behind you now my dear flukes. If you are here in worm class, you have passed the exams and shown at least a basic mastery of the foundations of the art of tempting. Of course, you have yet to be assigned your first clients, and nothing can replace on-the-job experience. Ahh, the frustrations and complications that await you! It all sounds so easy in the classroom, but once you are on the job, being mentored by a senior tempter, you will soon learn how subtle and complex your role really is. You will need to draw on every instinct of deception with which you were gifted by our Father below, and this time around the cycle you may remember the failures that sent you back down to the larva stage to begin with.

photo: gwenboul, Flickr C.C.Be assured that I have your files on record. I know every slacker, every betrayal, every failure. I know how each one of you miserable nematodes lost souls to the enemy. I know the excuses you made. I know how you wriggled and squirmed and squeaked and bleated and grunted when it was your turn to be roasted and devoured at the banquet below. I know how you languished in the dark, frozen lands before your miserable parts were collected up and formed again into a revolting, slimy larva. I know your whole sad and despicable histories my dear worms, and believe me I won't let you forget it.

I only hope you realize how lucky you are to have been given a second chance, and how supremely fortunate you are, at this stage to have progressed to my class and to have the opportunity to learn at my feet. It is not often that a demon of my class and accomplishment condescends to teach worms, so bask in my presence while you can, miserable squirmers. Learn from the master, dear fellows, learn from the master! No doubt I will not be with you long. Friends have told me that I will soon be called to a more worthy task, and you will no doubt have to put up with some inferior drudge like old Dr. Sturbage—with his halitosis, quack theories, and insufferable name dropping.

Before we begin, allow me to clarify a few things for you. There are vicious rumors spreading that I, Slubgrip, have been assigned to teach Pop Cult 101 here at Bowelbage as some sort of demotion or punishment for my own failures in the world of the bipeds.

This is simply untrue.

The fact of the matter is, I asked for a transfer to return here to my alma mater so that I might have a bit of a sabbatical, gather my thoughts, and prepare for an even higher and more prestigious assignment. It is true that teaching a course like this is not exactly a plum job, and certainly spending my days with adolescent and odiferous slugs and flukes like you is deplorable. Nevertheless, I did ask for the posting because I felt the training of my own protégées, in recent years, was so obviously incompetent, and I thought I might be able to remedy the situation somewhat.