Monday, October 31, 2011

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House is a classic Halloween story.
Four very different people meet at Hill House, at the behest of Dr. John Montague, who is conducting a ghost-watch at the gothic mansion. Just after her mother's death, Eleanor Vance, who experienced poltergeist  activity as a child, is summoned because  of her connection with the supernatural. Also summoned are artist Theodora and wealthy inheritor of Hill House, Luke. All four will be changed by Hill House, that's for certain. But after they inhale its mysteries and taste its ghosts, will the house let them go unharmed?

The Haunting of Hill House is a favorite of mine. It never ceases to thrill me, surprise me, and send shivers down my spine.


no one is who they are
or what they seem
on this night of all nights

(the wicked witch has a heart of gold)

the scientist prepares to
perform an operation
on the tray of celery sticks

(his monster is quite healthy)

ghosts and goblins
run down the street
screaming "Candy! Candy!"

(for inside, they're sweet)

the chill wind blows
through the knee-high weeds
and rouses a murder of crows

(black against black as they mount to the rising sky)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pink Ray Gun is my favorite new site...

They have awesome pumpkin carving patterns to do!

And I did one!

Not very good resolution, but at least it's a picture of it!


I have a deep-seated love for Shakespeare, especially his tragedies. King Lear, Hamlet, Antony and Cleopatra...I love them all. But my favorite of the Bard's tragedies is the play Macbeth.
Last week, it happened to be playing at the OCU theatre, and I got the chance to attend their A Day With Shakespeare program.
Basically, this is a day for high-school students to come, attend workshops, and watch the play.
I attended a workshop on unarmed stage fighting, which was led by the actors playing Macduff and Lenox. They demonstrated how to use knaps (or a well-placed clap) to make the sound of a slap or punch. They even demonstrated how to perform a flying kick that looks genuine, and rather painful!
Of course, I and my brother and sisters immediately began to try these moves on each other in the hall during the lunch break, and actually worked up to where we could perform all the tricks that they showed us.
Then we went back into the theatre to watch the play. The house lights went down, and when they came up again, all the actors were onstage, engaged in what seemed to be mortal combat, but as still as photographs.
Then they began to fight furiously.
The play was wonderfully done, and I spent hours afterward reliving it in my mind. The director had chosen to place Macbeth in a bleak wasteland environment, and the costumes seemed straight from an apocalyptic steampunk novel. All the fight scenes seemed real (and terrifyingly close as we were seated in the third row).
I really enjoyed this take on Macbeth. It was perfect for Halloween: with witches, apparitions, and murderers, there's not that much more one could ask for in a play.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"bike helmits required"

source for photo

crisp fall leaves crunch under my heels
and the wind is changing
as i walk from my car to the trailhead
a sign marks the start of the path

i run my fingers across a scrape
in the metal and smile at one of the rules
(misspelled) "bike helmits required"
a sign that we are all human.

a red star on the map
"YOU ARE HERE" it shouts
not wanting to be missed by
a less-than-sharp eye.

the small eager star is important
because it is a challenge
shouting in the dark
into the oblivion of anonymity:
"i am here. i am at the beginning. i am moving forward."


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Hanging Tree: fan song of the month

 I keep coming across fan videos of this lovely song lately.
It hails from Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay, and is a sad ballad about a young man who was hanged by the officials for allegedly murdering three people. After he is cut down, he calls out to his love from beyond the grave.

First I found Sam Cushion's melody. Cushion is the composer of the Unofficial Hunger Games soundtrack (also available on Youtube) and is somewhat of a celebrity within the Hunger Games fandom.

The next arrangement I chanced upon was by a band called Poko Lambro, also on Youtube. It is slightly faster, and the singer has a hauntingly beautiful voice.

There are many more fan versions of this song on Youtube, and I could spend all day telling you about them, but I'll let you find them yourself. In the meantime, here are the words to The Hanging Tree.


Are you, are you coming to the tree
Where they strung up a man they say murdered three
Strange things did happen here, no stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight in the Hanging Tree

Are you, are you coming to the tree
Where the dead man called out for his love to flee
Strange things did happen here, no stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight in the Hanging Tree

Are you, are you coming to the tree
Where I told you to run so we'd both be free
Strange things did happen here, no stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight in the Hanging Tree

Are you, are you coming to the tree
Wear a necklace of rope, side by side with me
Strange things did happen here, no stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight in the Hanging Tree

-Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay

Sunday, October 9, 2011

call to wander

it was a call to wander
 that roused me and made me walk
i traveled so far on muddy roads

and the new asphalt ones
but my feet never touched the ground.

I am half mad and half sane
you know this I'm sure 

the reason you never stopped me
was because you knew.

i walked so far
 my head in the sky
my feet in the air

you must have wondered
if i was ever coming back.

"Never' I said to you and you knew
(again) that i was lying

i walked so far
saw every mood of man

saw the monsters that lurk
under beds now awake and adult
but learned that even if the monsters live

that toads still nestle in their miry holes
 that the world keeps bearing its heavy load

and children still dream beautiful dreams 
in the early morning before the dew has melted.

i learned to dream beautiful dreams too
and when the savage sky
had nibbled holes in my face

i came back and gave you the best
of all the dreams that weighed down my pockets

and from them, you wove a basket as opalescent as dawn.