My Writing Playground

a personal and inspirational blog, full of my creations and others' creations

Month: October, 2013

Giving Halloween some personality

1st image from here
2nd image from here
3rdimage from here

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

The-Raven-Wallpaper-1-edgar-allan-poe-7363850-1024-768

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`’Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door –
Only this, and nothing more.’

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore –
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore –
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door –
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; –
This it is, and nothing more,’

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,’ said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you’ – here I opened wide the door; –
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!’
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!’
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,’ said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!’

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door –
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door –
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,’ I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore –
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning – little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door –
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.’

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered – not a feather then he fluttered –
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before –
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.’
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.’

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,’ said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore –
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of “Never-nevermore.”‘

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore –
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.’

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,’ I cried, `thy God hath lent thee – by these angels he has sent thee
Respite – respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! –
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted –
On this home by horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore –
Is there – is there balm in Gilead? – tell me – tell me, I implore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us – by that God we both adore –
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore –
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels name Lenore?’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!’ I shrieked upstarting –
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! – quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!

1st image from here
Text of poem from here
2nd image from here
3rd image from here

The Macbeth Murder Mystery by James Thurber

[Note: This will be funny for those who know the plot of Macbeth by Shakespeare. If you don’t, go read a summary of the plot of Macbeth first, then read the follow short story.]

“It was a stupid mistake to make,” said the American woman I had met at my hotel in the English lake country, “but it was on the counter with the other Penguin books – the little sixpenny ones, you know; with the paper covers – and 1 supposed of. course it was a detective story All the others were detective stories. I’d read all the others, .So I bought this one without really looking at it carefully. You can imagine how mad I was when I found it was Shakespeare.” I murmured something sympathetically.” 1 don’t see why the Penguin-books people had to get out Shakespeare plays in the sane size and everything as the detective stories,” went on my companion. “I think they have different colored jackets,” I said. “Well, I didn’t notice that,” she said. “Anyway, I got real comfy in bed that night and all ready to read a good mystery story and here I had ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth” – a book for high school students. Like ‘Ivanhoe,’” “Or ‘Lorne Doone.’” I said.. “Exactly,” said the American lady. “And I was just crazy for a good Agatha Christie, or something. Hercule Poirot is my favorite detective.” “Is he the rabbity one?” I asked. “Oh, no,” said my crime-fiction expert. “He’s the Belgian one. You’re thinking of Mr. Pinkerton, the one that helps Inspector Bull. He’s good, too.”

Over her second cup of tea my companion began to tell the plot of a detective story that had fooled her completely – it seems it was the old family doctor all the time. But I cut in on her.. “Tell me,” I said. “Did you read ‘Macbeth’?” “I had to read. it” she said, “There wasn’t a scrap of anything else to read in the whole room.” “Did you like it?” I asked. “No, I did not,” she said, decisively. “In the first place, I don’t think for a moment that Macbeth did it.” I looked at her blankly. “Did what?” I asked. “1 don’t think for a moment that he killed the King,” she said. “I don’t think the Macbeth woman was mixed up in it, either. You suspect them the most, of course, but those are the ones that are never guilty or shouldn’t be, anyway.” “I’m afraid,” I began, “that I —“. “But don’t you see?” said the American lady. “It would spoil everything if you could figure out right away who did it.. Shakespeare was far too smart for that. I’ve read that people never have figured out ‘Hamlet,’ so it isn’t likely Shakespeare would have made ‘Macbeth’ as simple as it seems.” I thought this over while I filled my pipe. “Who do you suspect?” I asked, suddenly. “Macduff,” she said, promptly. “Good God!” I whispered, softly.

“Oh Macduff did it, all right,” said the murder specialist. “Hercule Poirot would have got him easily.” “How did you figure it out?” I demanded. “Well,” she said, “I didn’t right away. At first I suspected Banquo. And then of course, he was the second person killed. That was good right in there, that part. The person you suspect of the first murder should always be the second victim.” “Is that so?” I murmured. “Oh, yes,” said my informant. “They have to keep surprising you. Well, after the second murder I didn’t know who the killer was for a while.” “How about Malcolm, and Donalbain, the King’s sons?” I asked. “As I remember it, they fled right after the first murder. That looks suspicious.” “Too suspicious,” said the American lady. “Much too suspicious. When they flee, they’re never guilty. You can count on that” “I believe,” I said, “I’ll have a brandy,” and I summoned the waiter. My companion leaned toward me, her eyes bright, her teacup quivering. “Do yon know who discovered Duncan’s body?” she demanded. I said I was sorry, but I had forgotten. “Macduff discovers it,” she said, slipping into the historical present. Then he comes running downstairs and shouts, ‘Confusion has broke open the Lord’s anointed temple’ and ‘Sacrilegious murder has made his masterpiece’ and on and on like that” The good lady tapped mc on the knee. “All that stuff was rehearsed,” she said. “You wouldn’t say a lot of stuff like that, offhand, would you – if you had found a body?” She fixed me with a glittering eye. “I-” I began. “You’re right!” she said. ‘You wouldn’t! Unless you had practiced it in advance. ‘My God, there’s a body in here!’ is what an innocent man would say.” She sat back with a confident glare.

I thought for a while. “But what do you make of the Third Murderer?” I asked. “You know, the Third Murderer has puzzled ‘Macbeth’ scholars for three hundred years.” “That’s because they never thought of Macduff,” said the American lady. “It was Macduff, I’m certain. You couldn’t have one of the victims murdered by two ordinary thugs – the murderer always has to be somehcdy important.” “But what about the banquet scene?” I asked, after a moment. “How do you account for Macbeth’s guilty actions there, when Banquo’s ghost came in and sat in his chair?” The lady leaned forward and tapped me on the knee again. “There wasn’t any ghost,” she said. “A big, strong man like that doesn’t go around seeing ghosts – especially in a brightly lighted banquet hall with dozens of people around. Macbeth was shielding somebody!” “Who was he shielding?” I asked. “Mrs. Macbeth, of course,” she said. “He thought she did it and he was going to take the rap himself. The husband always does that when the wife is suspected.” “But what” I demanded, “about the sleepwalking scene, then?” “The same thing, only the other way around,” said my companion. That time she was shielding him. She wasn’t asleep at all. Do you remember where it says, ‘Enter Lady Macbeth with a taper’? “Yes,” I said. “Well, people who walk in their sleep never carry lights!” said my fellow-traveler. “They have a second sight. Did you ever hear of a sleepwalker carrying a light?” “No,” I said, “I never did.” “Well, then she wasn’t asleep. She was acting guilty to shield Macbeth.” I think,” I said, “I’ll have another brandy,” and I called the waiter. When he brought it, I drank it rapidly and rose to go. “I believe,” I said, “that you have got hold of something. Would you lend me that ‘Macbeth’? I’d like to look it over tonight. I don’t feel, somehow as if I’d ever really read it.” “I’ll get it for you,” she said. “But you’ll find that I am right.”

I read the play over carefully that night, and the next morning, after breakfast, I sought out the American woman. She was on the putting green, and I came up behind her silently and took her arm. She gave an exclamation. “Could I see you alone?” I asked, in a low voice. She nodded cautiously and followed me to a secluded spot ‘You’ve found out something?” she breathed. “I’ve found out”‘ I said, triumphantly, “the name of the murderer!” “You mean it wasn’t Macduff?” she said. “Macduff is as innocent of those murders” I said, “as Macbeth and the Macbeth woman.” I opened the copy of the play, which I had with me, and turned to Act II, Scene 2. “Here,” I said; “you will see where Lady Macbeth says, “I laid their daggers ready. He could not miss ’em. Had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had done it.’ Do you see?” “No,” said the American woman, bluntly, “I don’t.” “But it’s simple!” I exclaimed. “I wonder I didn’t see it years ago. The reason Duncan resembled Lady Macbeth’s father as he slept is that it actually was her father!” “Good God!” breathed my companion softly. “Lady Macbeth’s father killed the King,”

I said, “and, hearing someone coming, thrust the body under the bed and crawled into the bed himself.” “But,” said the lady “you can’t have a murderer who only appears in the story once. You can’t have that.” “I know that” I said, and I turned to Act II, Scene 4. “It says here, “Enter Ross with an old Man.’ Now, that old man is never identified and it is my contention he was old Mr. Macbeth, whose ambition it was to make his daughter Queen. There you have your motive.” “But even then,” cried the American lady, “he’s stills a minor character!” “Not,” I said, gleefully, “when you realize that he was also one of the weird sisters in disguise!” “You mean one of the three witches?” “Precisely,” I said. “Listen to this speech of the old man’s. “On Tuesday last, a falcon towering in her pride of place was by a mousing owl hawk’d at and killed.’ Who does that sound like?” “It sounds like the way the three witches talk,” said my companion, reluctantly. “Precisely!” I said again. “Well,” said the American woman, “maybe you’re right, but -” “I’m sure I am,” I said. “And do you know what I’m going to do now?” “No,” she said. “What?” “Buy a copy of ‘Hamlet,'” I said, “and solve that!” My companion’s eye brightened. “Then,” she said, you don’t think Hamlet did it?” “I am,” I said’ “absolutely positive he didn’t” “But who,” she demanded, “do you suspect?” I looked at her cryptically. “Everybody,” I said, and disappeared into a small grove of trees as silently as I had come.

Thurber, James 1943 The Thurber Carnival Harper and Brothers, NY pp. 60-63

Text from here

“It was a stupid mistake to make,” said the American woman I had met at my hotel in the English lake country, “but it was on the counter with the other Penguin books – the little sixpenny ones, you know; with the paper covers – and 1 supposed of. course it was a detective story All the others were detective stories. I’d read all the others, .So I bought this one without really looking at it carefully. You can imagine how mad I was when I found it was Shakespeare.” I murmured something sympathetically.” 1 don’t see why the Penguin-books people had to get out Shakespeare plays in the sane size and everything as the detective stories,” went on my companion. “I think they have different colored jackets,” I said. “Well, I didn’t notice that,” she said. “Anyway, I got real comfy in bed that night and all ready to read a good mystery story and here I had ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth” – a book for high school students. Like ‘Ivanhoe,’” “Or ‘Lorne Doone.’” I said.. “Exactly,” said the American lady. “And I was just crazy for a good Agatha Christie, or something. Hercule Poirot is my favorite detective.” “Is he the rabbity one?” I asked. “Oh, no,” said my crime-fiction expert. “He’s the Belgian one. You’re thinking of Mr. Pinkerton, the one that helps Inspector Bull. He’s good, too.”

Over her second cup of tea my companion began to tell the plot of a detective story that had fooled her completely – it seems it was the old family doctor all the time. But I cut in on her.. “Tell me,” I said. “Did you read ‘Macbeth’?” “I had to read. it” she said, “There wasn’t a scrap of anything else to read in the whole room.” “Did you like it?” I asked. “No, I did not,” she said, decisively. “In the first place, I don’t think for a moment that Macbeth did it.” I looked at her blankly. “Did what?” I asked. “1 don’t think for a moment that he killed the King,” she said. “I don’t think the Macbeth woman was mixed up in it, either. You suspect them the most, of course, but those are the ones that are never guilty or shouldn’t be, anyway.” “I’m afraid,” I began, “that I —“. “But don’t you see?” said the American lady. “It would spoil everything if you could figure out right away who did it.. Shakespeare was far too smart for that. I’ve read that people never have figured out ‘Hamlet,’ so it isn’t likely Shakespeare would have made ‘Macbeth’ as simple as it seems.” I thought this over while I filled my pipe. “Who do you suspect?” I asked, suddenly. “Macduff,” she said, promptly. “Good God!” I whispered, softly.

“Oh Macduff did it, all right,” said the murder specialist. “Hercule Poirot would have got him easily.” “How did you figure it out?” I demanded. “Well,” she said, “I didn’t right away. At first I suspected Banquo. And then of course, he was the second person killed. That was good right in there, that part. The person you suspect of the first murder should always be the second victim.” “Is that so?” I murmured. “Oh, yes,” said my informant. “They have to keep surprising you. Well, after the second murder I didn’t know who the killer was for a while.” “How about Malcolm, and Donalbain, the King’s sons?” I asked. “As I remember it, they fled right after the first murder. That looks suspicious.” “Too suspicious,” said the American lady. “Much too suspicious. When they flee, they’re never guilty. You can count on that” “I believe,” I said, “I’ll have a brandy,” and I summoned the waiter. My companion leaned toward me, her eyes bright, her teacup quivering. “Do yon know who discovered Duncan’s body?” she demanded. I said I was sorry, but I had forgotten. “Macduff discovers it,” she said, slipping into the historical present. Then he comes running downstairs and shouts, ‘Confusion has broke open the Lord’s anointed temple’ and ‘Sacrilegious murder has made his masterpiece’ and on and on like that” The good lady tapped mc on the knee. “All that stuff was rehearsed,” she said. “You wouldn’t say a lot of stuff like that, offhand, would you – if you had found a body?” She fixed me with a glittering eye. “I-” I began. “You’re right!” she said. ‘You wouldn’t! Unless you had practiced it in advance. ‘My God, there’s a body in here!’ is what an innocent man would say.” She sat back with a confident glare.

I thought for a while. “But what do you make of the Third Murderer?” I asked. “You know, the Third Murderer has puzzled ‘Macbeth’ scholars for three hundred years.” “That’s because they never thought of Macduff,” said the American lady. “It was Macduff, I’m certain. You couldn’t have one of the victims murdered by two ordinary thugs – the murderer always has to be somehcdy important.” “But what about the banquet scene?” I asked, after a moment. “How do you account for Macbeth’s guilty actions there, when Banquo’s ghost came in and sat in his chair?” The lady leaned forward and tapped me on the knee again. “There wasn’t any ghost,” she said. “A big, strong man like that doesn’t go around seeing ghosts – especially in a brightly lighted banquet hall with dozens of people around. Macbeth was shielding somebody!” “Who was he shielding?” I asked. “Mrs. Macbeth, of course,” she said. “He thought she did it and he was going to take the rap himself. The husband always does that when the wife is suspected.” “But what” I demanded, “about the sleepwalking scene, then?” “The same thing, only the other way around,” said my companion. That time she was shielding him. She wasn’t asleep at all. Do you remember where it says, ‘Enter Lady Macbeth with a taper’? “Yes,” I said. “Well, people who walk in their sleep never carry lights!” said my fellow-traveler. “They have a second sight. Did you ever hear of a sleepwalker carrying a light?” “No,” I said, “I never did.” “Well, then she wasn’t asleep. She was acting guilty to shield Macbeth.” I think,” I said, “I’ll have another brandy,” and I called the waiter. When he brought it, I drank it rapidly and rose to go. “I believe,” I said, “that you have got hold of something. Would you lend me that ‘Macbeth’? I’d like to look it over tonight. I don’t feel, somehow as if I’d ever really read it.” “I’ll get it for you,” she said. “But you’ll find that I am right.”

I read the play over carefully that night, and the next morning, after breakfast, I sought out the American woman. She was on the putting green, and I came up behind her silently and took her arm. She gave an exclamation. “Could I see you alone?” I asked, in a low voice. She nodded cautiously and followed me to a secluded spot ‘You’ve found out something?” she breathed. “I’ve found out”‘ I said, triumphantly, “the name of the murderer!” “You mean it wasn’t Macduff?” she said. “Macduff is as innocent of those murders” I said, “as Macbeth and the Macbeth woman.” I opened the copy of the play, which I had with me, and turned to Act II, Scene 2. “Here,” I said; “you will see where Lady Macbeth says, “I laid their daggers ready. He could not miss ’em. Had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had done it.’ Do you see?” “No,” said the American woman, bluntly, “I don’t.” “But it’s simple!” I exclaimed. “I wonder I didn’t see it years ago. The reason Duncan resembled Lady Macbeth’s father as he slept is that it actually was her father!” “Good God!” breathed my companion softly. “Lady Macbeth’s father killed the King,”

I said, “and, hearing someone coming, thrust the body under the bed and crawled into the bed himself.” “But,” said the lady “you can’t have a murderer who only appears in the story once. You can’t have that.” “I know that” I said, and I turned to Act II, Scene 4. “It says here, “Enter Ross with an old Man.’ Now, that old man is never identified and it is my contention he was old Mr. Macbeth, whose ambition it was to make his daughter Queen. There you have your motive.” “But even then,” cried the American lady, “he’s stills a minor character!” “Not,” I said, gleefully, “when you realize that he was also one of the weird sisters in disguise!” “You mean one of the three witches?” “Precisely,” I said. “Listen to this speech of the old man’s. “On Tuesday last, a falcon towering in her pride of place was by a mousing owl hawk’d at and killed.’ Who does that sound like?” “It sounds like the way the three witches talk,” said my companion, reluctantly. “Precisely!” I said again. “Well,” said the American woman, “maybe you’re right, but -” “I’m sure I am,” I said. “And do you know what I’m going to do now?” “No,” she said. “What?” “Buy a copy of ‘Hamlet,'” I said, “and solve that!” My companion’s eye brightened. “Then,” she said, you don’t think Hamlet did it?” “I am,” I said’ “absolutely positive he didn’t” “But who,” she demanded, “do you suspect?” I looked at her cryptically. “Everybody,” I said, and disappeared into a small grove of trees as silently as I had come.

Thurber, James 1943 The Thurber Carnival Harper and Brothers, NY pp. 60-63

Text from here

The Graveyard Book quotes

“You’re always you, and that don’t change, and you’re always changing, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

“If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.”

“We who make stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort. And that is why we write.”

“Really, he thought, if you couldn’t trust a poet to offer sensible advice, who could you trust?”

― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

Quotes thanks to GoodReads.com
Image from here

“Watch the sunrise…”

1379991_516050358486958_1893063307_n

From here.

“While the rest of the species…

“While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats.”

– Mark Twain

The Work of Tracery Type

I finally have to admit there are some positive things going on on tumbler. Thank you, Tracery Type. I admire your work. Also your name.