Thursday, October 31, 2013

13 SCARY Stories for Halloween

Edgar just hopes the bird doesn't poop.
In honor of Halloween (the greatest holiday ever invented), I thought I'd present a list of some of thirteen classic scary, short stories. I hope you don't mind that all of my choices come from American Literature. It's not because I'm intentionally favoring American Literature (which I am), but it's because I believe America that successfully co-opted Halloween with Pumpkins, Edgar Allan Poe, and Hershey's chocolate.
  1. "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner
  2. "The Black Cat" by Edgar Allan Poe
  3. "Rip Van Winkle" by Washington Irving 
  4. "Young Goodman Brown" by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  5. "The Golden Arm" by Mark Twain
  6. "Hop-Frog" by Edgar Allan Poe
  7. "The Minister's Black Veil" by Nathaniel Hawthorne 
  8. "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe
  9. "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson
  10. "A Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe
  11. "Where are You Going, Where Have You Been?" by Joyce Carol Oats
  12. "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe
  13. "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving
But if you're looking for a good, American novel to read—one that will subtly frighten you with hellfire and damnation until you repent—I recommend "The Scarlet Letter." It's quite literally my favorite book. 

Here's some music that will talk your ears into talking your eyes into reading the book.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The 12 Days of Halloween - Day I

Autumn in Utah, DGF
Halloween is, without question, my favorite holiday.

"Why is that?" you may ask.

Well, perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I was raised in Alaska then later transplanted to the continental US. This radical change in geography made me suddenly aware of something that my two-season Alaskan homeland had denied me my whole life:


Yes, Autumn! That glorious season of beautiful leaves, pumpkin pies, sweaters, scary stories, apple cider, and the smells of harvest (news flash, Edward Pola and George Wyle: Christmas is NOT the most wonderful time of the year—AUTUMN is! You can take your commercialized Yule Tide and stuff it in a pumpkin)!

The introduction of Autumn into my childhood was as though Mother Nature herself had come to me and said: 
"Here, Seth, I really want you to enjoy this season. It has a wide variety of unique colors, tastes, and emotions. Most people get about 90 Autumns in their lives. You've missed about ten of those to make you more fully appreciate your remaining 80. Go, partake of the season. Drink some cider and eat some pumpkin pie. But be careful. If you eat too much pumpkin pie I don't know if you're going to live until you're 90."
(Naturally, she said all of this in a motherly, sweet, ethereal, earthy voice. Mother Nature is cool that way). And I heard and obeyed!

"Coraline" by Neil Gaiman
But now, almost twenty years later, I find myself even farther from my Alaskan homeland. It is a strange place, known to the locals as "Florida." Vastly different from the upper 48.

One of the differences (much to my chagrin) is the complete absence of Autumn. Whose decision was it to banish happiness from Florida?

To make up for the biggest mistake since Cain killed Abel, I've decided to invoke the spirit of Autumn by celebrating the Twelve Days of Halloween.

Unfortunately, there is no codified way of celebrating the Twelve Days of Halloween, so I will just have to make it up as I go along. Which I'm okay with doing, because I've been making up life ever since I was born.

SO! On the first day of Halloween, Sethie will eat candy corn and peanuts (put them together, its amazing!) and watch Coraline, a creepy awesome claymation movie based on the book by Neil Gaiman (a fantastic writer).

Which brings me to another point! A few years ago, Neil Gaiman started a fantastic Halloween tradition called "All Hallows Read." I strongly recommend it to everyone:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Is Your Life Better Than Napoleon's?

I am always moved by these words written by Robert G. Ingersoll, an American political leader and orator. Deeply profound.
A little while ago I stood by the grave of Napoleon, a magnificient tomb of gilt and gold, fit almost for a dead deity, and gazed upon the sarcophagus of black Egyptian marble where rests at last the ashes of the restless man. I leaned over the balustrade and thought about the career of the greatest soldier of the modern world. 
I saw him walking upon the banks of the Seine contemplating suicide; I saw him at Toulon; I saw him putting down the mob in the streets of Paris; I saw him at the head of the army of Italy; I saw him crossing the bridge at Lodi with the tricolor in his hand; I saw him in Egypt in the shadows of the pyramids; I saw him conquer the Alps and mingle the eagle of France with the eagles of the crags. I saw him at Marengo, at Ulm and Austerlitz. I saw him in Russia, where the infantry of the snow and the cavalry of the wild blast scattered his legions like winter's withered leaves. I saw him at Leipsic in defeat and disaster, driven by a million bayonets back upon Paris, clutched like a wild beast, banished to Elba. I saw him escape and retake an Empire by the force of his genius. I saw him upon the frightful field of Waterloo, when chance and fate combined to wreck the fortunes of their former king. And I saw him at St. Helena, with his hands crossed behind him, gazing out upon the sad and solemn sea. 
I thought of the orphans and widows he had made; of the tears that had been shed for his glory and of the only woman who had ever loved him pushed from his heart by the cold hand of ambition. 
And I said I would rather have been a French peasant and worn wooden shoes. I would rather have lived in a hut with a vine growing over the door and the grapes growing purple in the kisses of the autumn sun. I would rather have been that poor peasant with my loving wife by my side, knitting as the day died out of the sky, with my children upon my knee and their arms about me. I would rather have been that man and gone down to the tongueless silence of the dreamless dust than to have been that imperial impersonation of force and murder known as Napoleon the Great. 
And so I would ten thousand times.

Napoleon's Tomb