Monday Macabre: October 19, 2020

bloody blister
something moves under the skin
arachnid

Poe Sunday: The Fall of the House of Usher

The Fall of the House of Usher
by Edgar Allan Poe (1839)

Poe Sundays are all about honoring the works of Edgar Allan Poe. The Fall of the House of Usher is considered by many critics to be Poe’s gothic masterpiece. Despite never learning the name of the story’s narrator, we come to quickly trust his well-observed eye and candor about the events experienced during his journey to visit Roderick Usher, a boyhood friend, of whom he has not seen in quite some time. It begins with an epigraph from French poet Jean Pierre de Beranger, which translates to “His heart is a tightened lute; as soon as one touches it, it echoes.” The narrator wastes no time in suggesting to his audience that Usher and the crumbling mansion share the same doomed fate.

Son cœur est un luth suspendu;
Sitôt qu’on le touche il résonne.

De Béranger.

DURING the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country, and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know not how it was—but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. I say insufferable; for the feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasurable, because poetic, sentiment, with which the mind usually receives even the sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible. I looked upon the scene before me—upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain—upon the bleak walls—upon the vacant eye-like windows—upon a few rank sedges—and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees—with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium—the bitter lapse into every-day life—the hideous dropping off of the veil. There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart—an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime. What was it—I paused to think—what was it that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of Usher? It was a mystery all insoluble; nor could I grapple with the shadowy fancies that crowded upon me as I pondered. I was forced to fall back upon the unsatisfactory conclusion, that while, beyond doubt, there are combinations of very simple natural objects which have the power of thus affecting us, still the analysis of this power lies among considerations beyond our depth. It was possible, I reflected, that a mere different arrangement of the particulars of the scene, of the details of the picture, would be sufficient to modify, or perhaps to annihilate its capacity for sorrowful impression; and, acting upon this idea, I reined my horse to the precipitous brink of a black and lurid tarn that lay in unruffled lustre by the dwelling, and gazed down—but with a shudder even more thrilling than before—upon the remodelled and inverted images of the gray sedge, and the ghastly tree-stems, and the vacant and eye-like windows.

Nevertheless, in this mansion of gloom I now proposed to myself a sojourn of some weeks. Its proprietor, Roderick Usher, had been one of my boon companions in boyhood; but many years had elapsed since our last meeting. A letter, however, had lately reached me in a distant part of the country—a letter from him—which, in its wildly importunate nature, had admitted of no other than a personal reply. The MS. gave evidence of nervous agitation. The writer spoke of acute bodily illness—of a mental disorder which oppressed him—and of an earnest desire to see me, as his best and indeed his only personal friend, with a view of attempting, by the cheerfulness of my society, some alleviation of his malady. It was the manner in which all this, and much more, was said—it was the apparent heart that went with his request—which allowed me no room for hesitation; and I accordingly obeyed forthwith what I still considered a very singular summons.

Although, as boys, we had been even intimate associates, yet I really knew little of my friend. His reserve had been always excessive and habitual. I was aware, however, that his very ancient family had been noted, time out of mind, for a peculiar sensibility of temperament, displaying itself, through long ages, in many works of exalted art, and manifested, of late, in repeated deeds of munificent yet unobtrusive charity, as well as in a passionate devotion to the intricacies, perhaps even more than to the orthodox and easily recognizable beauties, of musical science. I had learned, too, the very remarkable fact, that the stem of the Usher race, all time-honored as it was, had put forth, at no period, any enduring branch; in other words, that the entire family lay in the direct line of descent, and had always, with very trifling and very temporary variation, so lain. It was this deficiency, I considered, while running over in thought the perfect keeping of the character of the premises with the accredited character of the people, and while speculating upon the possible influence which the one, in the long lapse of centuries, might have exercised upon the other—it was this deficiency, perhaps, of collateral issue, and the consequent undeviating transmission, from sire to son, of the patrimony with the name, which had, at length, so identified the two as to merge the original title of the estate in the quaint and equivocal appellation of the “House of Usher”—an appellation which seemed to include, in the minds of the peasantry who used it, both the family and the family mansion.

I have said that the sole effect of my somewhat childish experiment—that of looking down within the tarn—had been to deepen the first singular impression. There can be no doubt that the consciousness of the rapid increase of my superstition—for why should I not so term it?—served mainly to accelerate the increase itself. Such, I have long known, is the paradoxical law of all sentiments having terror as a basis. And it might have been for this reason only, that, when I again uplifted my eyes to the house itself, from its image in the pool, there grew in my mind a strange fancy—a fancy so ridiculous, indeed, that I but mention it to show the vivid force of the sensations which oppressed me. I had so worked upon my imagination as really to believe that about the whole mansion and domain there hung an atmosphere peculiar to themselves and their immediate vicinity—an atmosphere which had no affinity with the air of heaven, but which had reeked up from the decayed trees, and the gray wall, and the silent tarn—a pestilent and mystic vapor, dull, sluggish, faintly discernible, and leaden-hued.

Shaking off from my spirit what must have been a dream, I scanned more narrowly the real aspect of the building. Its principal feature seemed to be that of an excessive antiquity. The discoloration of ages had been great. Minute fungi overspread the whole exterior, hanging in a fine tangled web-work from the eaves. Yet all this was apart from any extraordinary dilapidation. No portion of the masonry had fallen; and there appeared to be a wild inconsistency between its still perfect adaptation of parts, and the crumbling condition of the individual stones. In this there was much that reminded me of the specious totality of old wood-work which has rotted for long years in some neglected vault, with no disturbance from the breath of the external air. Beyond this indication of extensive decay, however, the fabric gave little token of instability. Perhaps the eye of a scrutinizing observer might have discovered a barely perceptible fissure, which, extending from the roof of the building in front, made its way down the wall in a zigzag direction, until it became lost in the sullen waters of the tarn.

Noticing these things, I rode over a short causeway to the house. A servant in waiting took my horse, and I entered the Gothic archway of the hall. A valet, of stealthy step, thence conducted me, in silence, through many dark and intricate passages in my progress to the studio of his master. Much that I encountered on the way contributed, I know not how, to heighten the vague sentiments of which I have already spoken. While the objects around me—while the carvings of the ceilings, the sombre tapestries of the walls, the ebony blackness of the floors, and the phantasmagoric armorial trophies which rattled as I strode, were but matters to which, or to such as which, I had been accustomed from my infancy—while I hesitated not to acknowledge how familiar was all this—I still wondered to find how unfamiliar were the fancies which ordinary images were stirring up. On one of the staircases, I met the physician of the family. His countenance, I thought, wore a mingled expression of low cunning and perplexity. He accosted me with trepidation and passed on. The valet now threw open a door and ushered me into the presence of his master.

The room in which I found myself was very large and lofty. The windows were long, narrow, and pointed, and at so vast a distance from the black oaken floor as to be altogether inaccessible from within. Feeble gleams of encrimsoned light made their way through the trellised panes, and served to render sufficiently distinct the more prominent objects around; the eye, however, struggled in vain to reach the remoter angles of the chamber, or the recesses of the vaulted and fretted ceiling. Dark draperies hung upon the walls. The general furniture was profuse, comfortless, antique, and tattered. Many books and musical instruments lay scattered about, but failed to give any vitality to the scene. I felt that I breathed an atmosphere of sorrow. An air of stern, deep, and irredeemable gloom hung over and pervaded all.

Upon my entrance, Usher rose from a sofa on which he had been lying at full length, and greeted me with a vivacious warmth which had much in it, I at first thought, of an overdone cordiality—of the constrained effort of the ennuyé man of the world. A glance, however, at his countenance convinced me of his perfect sincerity. We sat down; and for some moments, while he spoke not, I gazed upon him with a feeling half of pity, half of awe. Surely, man had never before so terribly altered, in so brief a period, as had Roderick Usher! It was with difficulty that I could bring myself to admit the identity of the man being before me with the companion of my early boyhood. Yet the character of his face had been at all times remarkable. A cadaverousness of complexion; an eye large, liquid, and luminous beyond comparison; lips somewhat thin and very pallid, but of a surpassingly beautiful curve; a nose of a delicate Hebrew model, but with a breadth of nostril unusual in similar formations; a finely moulded chin, speaking, in its want of prominence, of a want of moral energy; hair of a more than web-like softness and tenuity;—these features, with an inordinate expansion above the regions of the temple, made up altogether a countenance not easily to be forgotten. And now in the mere exaggeration of the prevailing character of these features, and of the expression they were wont to convey, lay so much of change that I doubted to whom I spoke. The now ghastly pallor of the skin, and the now miraculous lustre of the eye, above all things startled and even awed me. The silken hair, too, had been suffered to grow all unheeded, and as, in its wild gossamer texture, it floated rather than fell about the face, I could not, even with effort, connect its Arabesque expression with any idea of simple humanity.

The above is only an excerpt from The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe. To find out what happens next to the ill-fated House of Usher, please visit Project Gutenberg’s The Fall of the House of Usher

To learn more about the author Edgar Allan Poe and read his other works, please visit PoeStories.com

All works by Edgar Allan Poe are widely considered to be public domain.

Sinister Saturday: Krampus Approved Christmas Coal Recipe

Earlier this week, I went out Halloween shopping, looking for a few items needed to complete my decorations. Unfortunately, Halloween has already been replaced in the stores by Christmas! What crap is this. Wait your turn, Christmas!

Now, I’m no hater. I’m just pissy and sad the Halloween season is half over. I suppose it’s only fair, I mean, Christmas-loving folks are just trying to get happy like us Halloween fans were trying to do back in July. So, in the spirit of community, I’m willing to compromise, with the help, and permission, from the The Necro-Nom-Nom-Nomicon, I’m by sharing a fangtastic recipe that brings both Christmas and Halloween together with Krampus Approved Christmas Coal. Krampus might not be the sweetest creature stirring but this black-as-night dessert is sinfully spookilicious!

For ingredients list and recipe, please visit www.eatthedead.com

If Christmas insists on encroaching on Halloween’s turf during October, well, then, we’re just gonna have to make the holidays all dreary and fright. How do you feel about it? Let me know in the comments or tag me on social media @HalloweenHaiku9

Have yourself a scary little Christmas and a Happy Halloween!

Fright Fright Nightcaps: Vampire’s Kiss Shots

Happy Friday! Today is National Liqueur Day, and to celebrate, I made my own version of Vampire’s Kiss Shots, using Bailey’s Irish Cream. If you’re a fan of chocolate, Vodka or Irish Cream, this is a dreamy cocktail. Personally, all chocolate style cocktails are my thing. Some people don’t like them cuz they’re too sweet. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, leave out the sugar, add more Vodka and use the chocolate sparingly.

@BaileysIrishCream

INGREDIENTS:

.05-1 oz Vodka
1 oz Irish Cream
Raspberries
Chocolate syrup to garnish the glass
1 tsp Sugar

Here’s the pic of my own version with a couple of alterations, first I don’t own a tall clear shot glass, so, I used a small dessert glass instead. Next, I used strawberries instead of raspberries because raspberries cause allergies in my home and they’re technically banned. I think the recipe turned out great, but obviously didn’t look the same.

Plan to try the recipe, let’s see those pics! Post them in comments are tag me @HalloweenHaiku9 on Instagram or Twitter.

Throwback Thursday: The Toxic Avenger

These movies are so painstakingly 80s, they serve as a tubular tribute to both spandex and bloodsplatter.

The Toxic Avenger (1984)

Today is National Cheese Curd Day (10/15) and cheese curd is basically immature cheese that hasn’t gone through any proper process. That’s kinda how I view Troma movies, films shot, cut raw, and served to the masses as unrefined horror. It’s definitely an acquired taste. The Toxic Avenger is a story of a bullied young man who gains superhuman strength after falling into a vat of toxic waste. The new mop-carrying hero promptly sets out to get revenge on those who tried to kill him, but also manages to clean up his small town of Tromaville, by getting rid of the bad guys and corruption along the way.

Directed by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman, who also helped write and produce the film, The Toxic Avenger was panned upon its initial release but gained a strong cult following after being the featured midnight show at a popular movie house in Greenwich Village in 1985. The rest is history. Troma Entertainment went from making campy sex romps to campy horror, building a franchise of Toxic Avenger movies, which spawned five films and even a short-lived cartoon television series.

Armed with a specialized in a brand of satire, Troma effectively exaggerated the issues of the 80s drug-fueled excess, gym craze obsession, raging crime, political corruption, and clear class divisions, while serving up a satisfying revenge fantasy. The Toxic Avenger is campy, it’s gory, it’s silly, and may have played on stereotypes of the time, but once you swim through the bloodsplatter and Aquanet cloud, the Toxic Avenger is just as heartwarming as any of those John Hughes teen comedies of the 80s, and it had a lot to say about teen bullying. The Toxic Avenger isn’t the best-looking superhero on the planet but he sure is the hero the world needs.

Wicked Art Wednesdays

I hated the thought of canceling my Halloween plans, so, until I receive confirmation to showcase artist talent, I decided to bust out my stencils and make my own art for Wicked Art Wedesdays. Definitely not as satisfying as sharing wonderful Halloween works from a professional artist. My wish to have drawing talent is on par with wishing to have wings. (It’s not happening anytime soon.) While I was messing around with the inks though, I noticed an euphoric feeling that I haven’t had since I was wee child. Making art, no matter how bad I was at it, made me happy. I only wish I had a better looking piece to show for. I guess you’re just gonna have to take my word for it, making art makes you happy.

So, make art, make bad art, bad Halloween art, do it anyway because it makes you happy.

You can share my art too. Although, I’m not sure why you want to, but just in case…I appreciate if you link back to me here or tag me on social media.

Halloween Kristy

Trick or Treat Tuesday!

Let’s have some spooky fun. Will you get a treat or a trick? Click the doors to find out.

Monday Macabre: October 12, 2020

tangled weeds
unanswered screams
shallow grave

Poe Sundays: Lenore

Lenore
by Edgar Allan Poe
(published 1845)
**

Ah, broken is the golden bowl! — the spirit flown forever!
Let the bell toll! — a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river: —
And, Guy De Vere, hast thou no tear? — weep now or never more!
See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!
Come, let the burial rite be read — the funeral song be sung! —
An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young —
A dirge for her the doubly dead in that she died so young.

“Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and ye hated her for her pride;
And, when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her — that she died: —
How shall the ritual, then, be read? — the requiem how be sung
By you — by yours, the evil eye — by yours the slanderous tongue
That did to death the innocence that died and died so young?”

Peccavimus; yet rave not thus! but let a Sabbath song
Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel no wrong!
The sweet Lenore “hath gone before,” with Hope that flew beside,
Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy bride —
For her, the fair and debonair, that now so lowly lies,
The life upon her yellow hair, but not within her eyes —
The life still there upon her hair — the death upon her eyes.

“Avaunt! — avaunt! from fiends below the indignant ghost is riven —
From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven —
From grief and groan to a golden throne beside the King of Heaven! —

Let no bell toll, then! — lest her soul, amid its hallowed mirth,
Should catch the note as it doth float up from the damnéd Earth!
And I — to-night my heart is light! — no dirge will I upraise,
But waft the angel on her flight with a Paean of old days!”

**Note: Poe’s first attempt to memoralize his true love came in 1831 with the poem “A Paean”. Poe revised the poem and published Lenore in 1843, and again in 1845. This revised and more widely used version ends with the line, King of Heaven! A Paean is now considered its own poem entirely.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenore_(poem)

Sinister Saturday

It has been a sinister Saturday indeed. Between my suddenly needing to get someone’s permission to share something cool I found on the internet and not finding any support for my blog whatsoever, It looks like there will not be a daily Halloween celebration around here after all.**

**AMENDMENT: First, I’d like to admit that the fact that I’m having a full-on meltdown on #WorldMentalHealthDay is not lost to me. I suppose being told I’m a shitty blogger falls right in line with 2020. I was being too hopeful that virtual Halloween season would work out just dandy.

Moving forward, I will not share any more recipes or artwork by others. What’s posted already, stays up, until someone asks me to remove it, and then, I will comply. This breaks my heart, especially since I love art, but copyright laws are what they are, and if someone doesn’t want their works shared, then, that’s the end of it.

This all means that plans for Wicked Art Wednesdays and Sinister Saturdays are canceled. Monday Macabre and Trick-or-Treat Tuesdays are my own creations. Throwback Thursdays does include copyrighted material but it also includes my commentary or review of said films, and that’s very much allowed under fair use laws. I won’t post recipes for Friday Fright Nightcaps but I’ll share my own photos of Halloween cocktails and people can Google the rest on their own. Poe Sundays includes the works of Edgar Allan Poe, which are considered Public Domain, so I will continue to share those, but without any accompanying art.

I wish I could explain how disappointed and lonely this Halloween season has turned out, but my story pales in comparison to the families who have lost loved ones. No one likes my blog, boo hoo, doesn’t have the same ring as having to bury someone’s grandma.
I’ll say this though, I’m not pandering to anyone, nor apologizing. I don’t steal content and I never once claimed a recipe was mine. I posted full credit and links back to other’s websites at my own expense. I lose traffic every time I post a hyperlink. If you’re someone who thinks I’m too small a fish to swim in your pond, well, you can keep your SEO numbers and Instagram followers. My candor is about all I have left. My haiku, poems and silly drawings are completely shareable. All I ask is that people give me proper credit and post links back here. At the end of the day, I’m just here to share love for Halloween, horror and other spooky things. It’s not rocket science. I’m not saving the world. Do you love Halloween too? Great! Let’s share in our love for Halloween! I have links floating around here with two dozen kickass websites that all love Halloween like we do!

I dunno, maybe Sinister Saturdays should always be an angry filled blog post about how people suck and are ruining the spirit of Halloween. Half the country turned trick-or-treating into a political debate. People were asked to wear a mask, not slit their own throat. Now, we have a hundreds of thousands more dead people to light a candle for on Dia de los Muertos. Many of these dumbasses not taking Covid 19 seriously is the reason we all can’t celebrate Halloween properly in the first place! They’re over here crying how they’re not in the mood to put up Halloween decorations or their trunk-or-treat got canceled. If your neighborhood has the goddamn plague, turn your porch light off, go watch Hocus Pocus, and shut the fuck up. Being a die-hard Halloween fan doesn’t mean to you get to infect the planet with your disease and ignorance.

That’s it for me. Let me know your sinister thoughts in comments. Supporters only. Haters can go choke on candy corn.

Halloween Kristy