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For all of you fellow educators out there, here are some “Haunting Ideas: Halloween-Themed Teaching and Learning.”

As far as I’m concerned, Natalie Strange, Media Specialist at Northwest Guilford High School, has won Halloween this year. How? She’s turned a school conference room into an Edgar Allan Poe-themed escape room.

This is “graveyard” by candyflesh.

“But on another, more potent level, the work of horror really is a dance—a moving, rhythmic search. And what it’s looking for is the place where you, the viewer or the reader, live at your most primitive level. The work of horror is not interested in the civilized furniture of our lives. Such a work dances through these rooms which we have fitted out one piece at a time, each piece expressing—we hope!—our socially acceptable and pleasantly enlightened character. It is in search of another place, a room which may sometimes resemble the secret den of a Victorian gentleman, sometimes the torture chamber of the Spanish Inquisition … but perhaps most frequently and most successfully, the simple and brutally plain hole of a Stone Age cave-dweller. Is horror art? On this second level, the work of horror can be nothing else; it achieves the level of art simply because it is looking for something beyond art, something that predates art: it is looking for what I would call phobic pressure points. The good horror tale will dance its way to the center of your life and find the secret door to the room you believed no one but you knew of—as both Albert Camus and Billy Joel have pointed out. The Stranger makes us nervous … but we love to try on his face in secret.”
― Stephen King, Danse Macabre
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Here’s a round up of some thought-provoking, Halloween-friendly articles on horror. (Images are from The Babadook and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.)

“Fear is not the best thing in the world, of course, but it’s not going anywhere and we are likely forced to meet it in some capacity, great or small, each and every day. There’s no way around it. Denying this fact only provides more fertile ground for fear to take root. Worse yet, denying it robs us of our agency to meet and overcome it. The more we ignore scary things, the bigger and scarier those things become.” 

- Greg Ruth, “Why Horror is Good For You (and Even Better for Your Kids)"


“A young guy in a festival audience told me that it was nice to have women in the genre because it brought some ‘softness,’” says Ducournau, whose movie will be getting a wide release next year. “Softness? Have you seen my movie? When you make horror, it’s the expression of a form of violence that you feel inside of you – and it’s important we recognize that women feel violence and anger as well.”

- Phoebe Reilly, “From 'Babadook’ to 'Raw’: The Rise of the Modern Female Horror Filmmaker: How the genre has attracted an unprecedented number of female directors – and why these artists are elevating scary movies to a whole other level”


“While the general trend for gender parity in film has seen a decline in women’s representation, horror has been the exception. A recent study by Google and the Geena Davis Institute used technology to recognise patterns in gender, screen time and speaking time in major films. While the results revealed that men are seen and heard twice as much as women, the opposite was true of horror. Women held 53% of the on-screen time and 47% of the speaking time.”

- Kayleigh Donaldson, “Women Love Horror: Why Does This Still Surprise So Many Dudes?”


“It isn’t just that the women in these movies have to do things — we have to understand what they’re afraid of. We as viewers need to understand not just the physical fears, of death, of bones breaking, of torture. These movies aim to make the things these women fear the fears of the audience as well.”

- Gita Jackson, “Horror Movies Are One of the Few Places Women Are Told Their Fears Are Real”


“Violence in the real world doesn’t always have a satisfactory resolution. One of the appeals of violent entertainment is, you can see a story with a just resolution,” Goldstein said. “When we see justice is done, it reaffirms our belief that justice is possible.”

- Jen Christensen, “Go Scare Yourself! It’s Good for You”

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Here are three excellent new posts that have inspired me to add to my “To Read” list:

“20 Creepy New Books to Read This Halloween”

5 Horror-Themed Audiobooks By Female Authors To Get You Into The Halloween Spirit”

“Boo! The best ghost stories you probably haven’t heard yet.”


Today I’d like to share with you a short story that’s refused to let go of me ever since I first read it. The post-apocalyptic setting and shadows of psychological horror make it a good fit for Halloween, I think. It’s a brilliant and deeply moving science fiction tale: “In a Manner of Speaking” by Charity

(The art below is “My Light in the Dark” by FenwickParrody.)


Here’s a brief taste:

I use the last of the good candles to build the radio. I still have light. The fire burns, and there is a never-ending supply of the cheap, waxy candles in the storeroom. I will–eventually–burn through all of those. My fire will die. The cold will invade this space.

But today I have a radio. Today I will speak to the world–or what’s left of it. I compare my radio to the picture in the instructions. It looks the same, but not all the steps had illustrations. This troubles me. My radio may not work.

I crank the handle to charge the battery. This feels good. This warms my arms, and I must take deep breaths to keep going. I shake out my hand and crank some more. When buzz and static fill my ears, I nearly jump. That, too, sounds warm. I am so used to the cold. The creak and groan of ice, the howl of the wind. These cold sounds are their own kind of silence. They hold nothing warm or wet or alive.

I decide on a frequency for no other reason than I like the number. I press the button on the mouthpiece. This, according to the instructions, will let the world hear me.

“Hello?” My voice warbles and I leap back, as if something might spring from the speakers.

Nothing does, of course. In fact, nothing happens at all. It takes more than one try to reach the world.

“Hello? Hello? Is anyone there? Can you hear me? I would like to talk to you.”

Perhaps I should try another frequency–or try a little patience. If someone is out there with a radio, might they right now be cranking a handle to charge a battery, or sleeping, or adding wood to their fire? This last is something I must do and soon. The embers grow a bright orange, but the chill has invaded the edges of the room.

Read “In a Manner of Speaking” by Charity Tahmaseb here.

Listen to my Escape Pod narration of the story here.

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Look no more for some perfect streaming music for this Halloween season!

Celebrating its 19th year, “Out ov the Coffin” is hosted by the fabulous D.J. Ichabod. What was born as a means of spreading dark and esoteric music to the Nashville area via WRVU, broadcasting from my graduate alma mater, Vanderbilt University (Go ‘Dores!), is now an spine-tingling and atmospheric podcast. Check it out for some perfect seasonal music! You won’t be sorry. 


‘Tis the season for specials, and the latest special episode is the podcast version of the Out ov the Coffin: Compilation for the Dead 2017. What’s that? Well, the “Compilation for the Dead” is actually a mixtape-style version of the podcast.

I made you a mixtape….” See? Not creepy at all! Right?

Each year Ichabod chooses just under 80 minutes of strictly new and current music to represent this podcast, his DJing style, and, most importantly, the current state of the goth & dark music scene as he sees it.

Listen now to the Compilation for the Dead 2017 here!

And keep an eye and ear out for the upcoming special Halloween show! 


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This year we lost George A. Romero, pioneer of the horror genre, father of the modern zombie genre, creator of the brilliant Night of the Living Dead (1968) as well as as a number of other noteworthy films.

Halloween is the perfect time to celebrate and remember his work.

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Now it’s list time! Here are my picks for the spooky podcasts you don’t want to miss this Halloween.

In no particular order…

* Welcome to Night Vale: It’s TheNerdyBlogger’s fault that I’m addicted to the Welcome to Night Vale podcast (and its wonderfully weird related books, as well). This is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, an omnipotent Glow Cloud (All hail!), and cultural events. Think Lake Woebegone meets Stephen King. Just for kicks, I’m decorating this post with quotes from the podcast.

(Note: I also recommend checking out the other podcasts from Night Vale Presents, as well!)


* Astonishing Legends: This podcast’s mission is to take a look at legendary, strange, and unusual events from history and interview people who’ve had close encounters with the unexplained. Hosts Scott and Forrest strive to bring you everything that’s entertaining about those stories and remind you that it’s okay to laugh at scary stories – and, respectfully, even the people that tell them. That said, this is a serious and skeptical podcast. Put your headphones on, settle in for your commute, and get ready to experience a show like nothing you’ve ever heard before. I discovered this podcast while looking for more analyses of the Dyatlov Pass mystery, and I was hooked. My favorite series of episodes thus far focuses on the Somerton Man mystery. If you could have drinks with the Lone Gunmen, I’d expect the discussion would sound a bit like this podcast. (That’s a compliment, if you were wondering.) Right now they’re covering the Bell Witch. (Too cool!) You remember the Bell Witch, right?

* The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast: In each weekly podcast, Chris Lackey and Chad Fifer discuss a specific H.P. Lovecraft story – what it’s about, how it reads, why it may have been written and what other works of art it’s influenced. Since concluding Lovecraft’s stories, they’ve been covering other weird fiction that inspired the author, mostly those referenced in his essay “Supernatural Horror in Literature.” They regularly have talented guest readers and contributing composers for their music sections. The majority of the Lovecraft episodes are free. Three of the four monthly episodes are now subscription-only, but they are well, well worth the modest cost. And October is for werewolves!

* Saturday Frights: TheNerdyBlogger put this on my radar, and I’m grateful! Each week the co-hosts discussed a particular horror movie or horror-themed TV episode from the Retroist Vault for your listening enjoyment. Unfortunately, the show is no longer in production, but there are still 63 episodes in the archive that are well worth your time and guaranteed to put you in the Halloween mood. 

* Interference by Eric Luke: Another of my brilliant former graduate students, April, suggested this to me, and it’s sublime. Don’t miss this! The podiobook unfolds in twenty-four episodes, and then it’s done. Described as “an experiment in audio horror” (oh yeah!), here’s the tantalizing blurb: “SOMETHING wants in. To your head. Through this audiobook. Ethan, a digital sound engineer in Los Angeles, becomes aware that his life is unraveling when the audiobook he’s listening to reveals his deepest, darkest secrets, escalating until the narrator addresses him directly, threatening to destroy him from within. Vivian, a single mother running an antique store in San Francisco, listens to her audiobook to distract herself from missing her young daughter, but is shaken when the narrative is interrupted by her daughter’s voice, faintly calling for help. Ethan and Vivian are drawn together as they fight to solve a generation-spanning conspiracy that begins with a boy listening to the Orson Welles broadcast of War of the Worlds in 1938 and evolves through the latest innovations in digital technology…” I love how the individual weird tales link together into a spooky, intense, and deeply humane conclusion.

* Rippercast: The Whitechapel Murders Podcast: This is a treat for those of you who are interested in the history of forensics, true crime, Victorian England/London, etc. A roundtable of author/academic presenters, co-hosts, and special guests discuss topics related to the Whitechapel Murders, Jack the Ripper, Victorian British history, true crime, and whatever else suits their fancy. Lately the podcast has been sharing the monthly scholarly talks recorded at the London meetings of the Whitechapel Society 1888 and at various international conferences focused on related themes, as well as the “10 Weeks in Whitechapel” series. If you want to hear the latest in research from those who literally wrote the books on their respective topics related to Jack the Ripper’s times and context, you’ll want to listen.

* Kat & Curt’s TV Re-View: This podcast began with brilliant bloggers Curtis Weyant and Katherine Sas introducing Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Doctor Who to each other, watching one episode of each per week, sharing fannish delight and critical analysis. Curt, a long-time Whedon devotee and scholar, introduced the show to Kat, and analytical Whovian Kat acquainted Curt with the Doctor. Now Angel and Battlestar Galactica have been added to the mix. Join Kat and Curt for a journey through time, space, and Sunnydale as they battle demons, aliens, and the inscrutable process of creating quality narrative television.


* Tales to Terrify: This weekly audio magazine is one of StarShipSofa’s siblings in the District of Wonders. I’m terribly saddened to say that we lost our friend and comrade, author and host Larry Santoro (“the Vincent Price of podcasts!”). He is greatly missed. But the podcast continues to soldier (lurch? stagger? insert your scary verb here) on in his memory. It includes the best of contemporary horror fiction and nonfiction. It was my distinct honor to represent TTT last year at the Hugo Awards Ceremony, where it was a finalist for the Best Fancast Award. (In addition, have narrated three haunting stories for this podcast. Follow the links to hear my reading of “After the Ape” by Stephen Volk, my reading of “Jewels in the Dust” by Peter Crowther, and my reading of “Payback” by P.D. Cacek.)

* Lovecraft eZine Podcast: This is the podcast version of the wonderful and weekly live show produced by the incomparable Lovecraft eZine. Listen as stellar guests discuss cosmic horror, weird fiction, Lovecraftian horror, the Cthulhu Mythos, and related topics.

* Pseudopod: One of the oldest horror podcasts and still one of the very best, Pseudopod presents fine short horror in audio form weekly. Do not miss this podcast!

* MonsterTalk: This is the science show about monsters — a free audio podcast that critically examines the science behind cryptozoological (and legendary) creatures, such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and werewolves. Hosted by Blake Smith, Ben Radford, and Dr. Karen Stollznow, MonsterTalk interviews the scientists and investigators who shine a spotlight on the things that go bump in the night. The episode airing dates average out to mean a new show once a month, sometimes more. (Thanks to ankh_hpl for introducing me to this great show.)

* Classic Tales: Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle, Mary Shelley: what’s not to love? This is a fantastic weekly podcast featuring B.J. Harrison’s unabridged readings of great — and often haunting and Halloween-friendly — fiction.

* Atlanta Radio Theatre Company: Founded in 1984, ARTC is a staple at venues such as Dragon*Con and has a standing program year-round, performing adaptations of works by authors such as H.P. Lovecraft and H.G. Wells live. ARTC podcasts its fantastic productions.

* Skeptoid: This podcast shines the lights of logic and reason into the dark shadows. Each weekly episode focuses on a single phenomenon — an urban legend, a paranormal claim, etc. — that you may have heard of, and it explains the factual scientific reality. To put it another way, we the listeners are Fox Mulder, and Skeptoid kindly serves as our Dana Scully.


And here are some more recent lists for you!

* 13 Creepy Podcasts Just in Time for Halloween

* The Best Spooky Podcasts to Get You Ready for Halloween

* The Top 10 Scary Podcasts to Get You in a Spooky Mood

 Now it’s your turn. What other spooky podcasts do you recommend?

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Just a couple of weeks ago I had the very good fortune to be part of A Long-Expected Party 4 at the exquisite Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.

(You can see my photos from the event here and from the last ALEP three years ago here.)


While I was there, I heard some wonderfully spooky ghost stories, several of which revolved around faces seen in the topmost windows of the West Family Wash House (1842), shown below, the building in which I gave my presentations and workshops for the event.


Since then, I’ve indulged in Shaker Ghost Stories from Pleasant Hill, Kentucky by Thomas Freese (2005) and learned some more spooky lore from the place. Here is one of my favorite anecdotes from the book, which is about the Meeting House and told by Bill Bright, a former Pleasant Hill employee:

Since I was a bit bored, I walked over to a spot between the two front doors to sing a little. I was next to a gap in the wall benches, facing the back wall. I started to sing sets of three (triads). Since I had spent plenty of time in high school band, I figured that it’s be a neat exercise to try the acoustics in the large room of the Meeting House.

As I was singing, something appeared in the middle of the benches to my right, on the sister’s side. For lack of a better explanation, it looked like a human form, very similar to the special effect done in Star Trek when they beam up somebody. It seemed to rise up from the floor to my height. At that point, the hair on the right side of my body stood on end, while the left side was not affected. I immediately got cold chills, like I had just walked into a meat locker. I just wanted to get out of there. I left the building immediately…

When I saw Randy [Folger, the music director], I told him about the experience and he simply asked me if I knew what I had been doing. At that point I had no idea. Then Randy asked me to sing as I had been singing in the Meeting House. After I sang for him, Randy explained to me that I had unwittingly been singing the “Angel Shout.” The Angel Shout was a set up notes that were sung like: “Lo…lo…lo…” and were sung in descending thirds. The Angel Shout was supposed to call the Shakers to meeting.  

This photo is from the Shaker graveyard at the village (1811).

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“We don’t anticipate accidents, nor do we expect to die young.”
― V.C. Andrews, Flowers in the Attic 

This appropriate bit of eeriness is by BrokenViolet.


This post is inspired by the fact I recently rediscovered the original score of the 1987 film adaptation of Flowers in the Attic.

When I think of spooky instrumental themes from films, my mind usually goes to the themes of The Exorcist or Psycho. But the theme to Flowers in the Attic by Christopher Young? Genuinely haunting. Here, take a few minutes and enjoy the chills.

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They built it out of stone—dark gray stone, pried loose from the unforgiving mountains. It was a house for those who could not take care of themselves, for those who heard voices, who had strange thoughts and did strange things. The house was meant to keep them in. Once they came, they never left. 
- Madeleine Roux, Asylum    

This stunning photo is Asylum by MadUnTwoSwords.


“If someone tells you you’re crazy enough times, eventually it becomes true. It’s that old psychiatrist’s joke: insanity’s all in your head.”
― Madeleine Roux, Asylum  

Abby’s eyes seemed almost as vacant as those of the girl in the photograph. Then a shiver came over her and she blinked. Gently, almost affectionately, she put the picture back on the wall. She touched it one last time and said, “Poor little bird. I wonder if she ever escaped her cage.”
― Madeleine Roux, Asylum

Bustle lists “13 Horror Novels By Women To Terrify You This Fall” (including, as you may have guessed, Asylum by Madeleine Roux). How many have you read or put on your "to read” list?
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Back during the 2013 Halloween Countdown, I mentioned the Boggy Creek Monster, or Fouke Monster, sightings of which center primarily around the Boggy Creek area on the borders between Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. The creature was made famous beyond the region thanks to the 1972 docudrama The Legend of Boggy Creek (which was an annual viewing tradition in my Oklahoma family) and the films it inspired, such as Return to Boggy Creek (1977) and Boggy Creek II: The Legend Continues (1984).

A couple of recent documentaries have looked into the phenomenon: Southern Fried Bigfoot (2007) and Boggy Creek Monster: The Truth Behind the Legend (2016).

This year, two of my daring Halloween Countdown undercover operatives* made a bold journey to Fouke, Arkansas, saw the monster-related sights firsthand, and sent photos of their journey.


The locals, such as the friendly folk you might meet at the Monster Mart, are happy to talk about the area’s reputation. Public art celebrates the creature.


This is “Bigfoot Country”!


My operatives had no sightings or close encounters, but they did send me some sweet Fouke Monster swag from their adventure.


I’ll leave you with lyrics from one of the more iconic ingredients of The Legend of Boggy Creek, “The Legend of Boggy Creek” theme (also known as “Lonely Cry”) with lyrics and music by Earl E. Smith, originally sung by Chuck Bryant.

Here the Sulphur River flows,
Rising when the storm cloud blows.
And this is where the creature goes,
Safe within a world he knows.

Perhaps he dimly wonders, “Why,
There is no other such as I,
To touch, to love, before I die,
To listen to my lonely cry.”

Listen to the original version or listen to cover versions by Pedro Boyd or by The Accidental Trio.

*Thanks, Mother and Daddy!

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It's Friday the 13th, people! You can't get more Halloween-friendly than that. May your day be spooktacular (in a good way, of course).

It seems only fitting to share with you a chilling passage from U.S. businessman/author Thomas W. Lawson's popular 1907 work Friday, the Thirteenth: A Novel, which some credit with contributing to the contemporary sense of doom that hangs over the day. In Lawson's novel, a corrupt broker takes advantage of the already-existing "Friday the 13th" superstition to create a Wall Street panic on that date. As you might imagine, the results are tragic.

This is the frontispiece to the novel by Sigismond de Ivanowski.

Here, let your spine be tingled by this excerpt:

Then, horror of horrors! I saw that there was something missing from her great blue eyes. I looked; gasped. Could it possibly be? With a bound I was at her side. I gazed again into those eyes which that morning had been all that was intelligent, all that was godlike, all that was human. Their soul, their life was gone. Beulah Sands was a dead woman; not dead in body, but in soul; the magic spark had fled. She was but an empty shell--a woman of living flesh and blood; but the citadel of life was empty, the mind was gone. What had been a woman was but a child. I passed my hand across my now damp forehead. I closed my eyes and opened them again. Bob's figure, with clasped, uplifted hands, and bursting eyes, was still there. There still resounded through the room the awful guttural groans. Beulah Sands smiled, the smile of an infant in the cradle. She took one beautiful hand from the paper and passed it over Bob's bronzed cheek, just as the infant touches its mother's face with its chubby fingers. In my horror I almost expected to hear the purling of a babe. My eyes in their perplexity must have wandered from her face, for I suddenly became aware of a great black head-line spread across the top of the paper that she had been reading:


And beneath in one of the columns:



In another column:


A hideous picture seared its every light and shade on my mind, through my heart, into all my soul. A frenzied-finance harvest scene with its gory crop; in the centre one living-dead, part of the picture, yet the ghost left to haunt the painters, one of whom was already cowering before the black and bloody canvas.

You can read the complete novel for free here at Project Gutenberg.
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Surely no song says Halloween like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”


Here is the “Thriller” rap performed by Vincent Price, including the “lost” second verse that doesn’t appear in the song.

Darkness falls across the land.
The midnight hour is close at hand.
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y'all’s neighborhood.
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpses shell!

The demons squeal in sheer delight.
Its you they spy: so plump, so right.
For though the groove is hard to beat,
Yet still you stand with frozen feet!
You try to run, you try to scream,
But no more sun you’ll ever see,
For evil reaches from the crypt
To crush you with its icy grip!

The foulest stench is in the air,
The funk of forty-thousand years,
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom.
And though you fight to stay alive,
Your body starts to shiver!
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the Thriller!

Can you dig it?

*Evil Laughter*

For your spooky listening pleasure, here is that legendary “Thriller” voice-over session with Vincent Price in full…

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We can all agree that death sucks. But I think we can also agree that if we’re going to die, we may as well eat a lot of candy before we go.

Halloween is one of many "memento mori" traditions designed to make death just a little bit more fun—and provide an age-appropriate hint to children about an inescapable fact of life, which is that life ends.

This has emotional benefits. As Oliver Burkemen notes in his essay “The Positive Power of Negative Thinking,” one study found that walking through a graveyard made people 40 percent more likely to help a stranger than walking down an ordinary block; another found that visualizing death can lead us to become more grateful for the things we have in life.

- “Five Reasons Why Humans Need Halloween“ by Jeremy Adam Smith


As one of the “naturally cantankerous and gloomy,” I also recommend the related/linked (and Halloween-relevant) article “The Positive Power of Negative Thinking.”

And speaking of visualizing death, I found this list to be helpful:Here’s how to get your Halloween TV fix this year.”

Here’s another great link for the season: “8 Chilling Reads from Around the World.”


The artwork is october/ and october// by the very talented Ogvi.

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If you're looking for some darkly comic and fun viewing for the Halloween season, I recommend the new eleven-part web series Edgar Allan Poe's Murder Mystery Invite Only Casual Dinner Party/Gala For Friends Potluck.

The premise? Edgar Allan Poe invites some of history’s most famous authors (Mary Shelley, Oscar Wilde, Emily Dickinson, H.G. Wells, Charlotte Brontë, Louisa May Alcott, Fyodor Dostoevsky, George Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, you get the idea) to play a murder mystery game, but things don’t go quite as planned. Gothic madness!

I laughed out loud. Give this a try.

Check out the trailer below ("Don't do murder!"), and then help yourself to the entire series!

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Last week Reynardine put stunning new – well, new to me – music on my radar, and today I simply have to share. (Thank you, Reynardine!)image

Inspired by a walk among the tombstones of The Old Burying Ground in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, this orchestral song cycle weaves together epitaphs from two historic cemeteries with compelling new poems by Irish and American poets. Featuring the GRAMMY Award winning University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kenneth Kiesler, The Old Burying Ground has guest performances by folksinger, Tim Eriksen, soprano, Anne-Carolyn Bird, and tenor, Nicholas Phan. 

Here is “And Pass From Hence Away.”

“While cemeteries carry remnants of profound human suffering, they are also places of great peace. For me, they provide an ideal place for a meditation upon how lives appear and disappear in the world.”
- Evan Chambers, composer

Here is “O Say Grim Death.”

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Shayna Murphy of Bookbub Blog recently posted a list of “31 of the All-Time Best Horror Books.” While it’s not a particularly wide-ranging or diverse list, it’s worth a look if you’re interested in the genre; there are some great works included. I’ve read far more of the titles from the “Timeless Classics” category than the “New Fiction.” How about you?


In the spirit of the BookBub list, here’s a little excerpt from the opening of the 40th anniversary edition of The Exorcist by the late, great William Peter Blatty (R.I.P.!):

Like the brief doomed flare of exploding suns that registers dimly on blind men’s eyes, the beginning of the horror passed almost unnoticed; in the shriek of what followed, in fact, was forgotten and perhaps not connected to the horror at all. It was difficult to judge.

The house was a rental. Brooding. Tight. A brick colonial gripped by ivy in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. Across the street was a fringe of campus belonging to George­town University; to the rear, a sheer embankment plummeting steep to busy M Street and, just beyond it, the River Potomac. Early on the morning of April 1, the house was quiet. Chris MacNeil was propped in bed, going over her lines for the next day’s filming; Regan, her daughter, was sleeping down the hall; and asleep downstairs in a room off the pantry were the middle-aged housekeepers, Willie and Karl. At approximately 12:25 a.m., Chris looked up from her script with a frown of puzzle­ment. She heard rapping sounds. They were odd. Muffled. Pro­found. Rhythmically clustered. Alien code tapped out by a dead man.


For a moment she listened, then dismissed it; but as the rappings persisted she could not concentrate. She slapped down the script on the bed.

Jesus, that bugs me!

She got up to investigate.

She went out to the hallway and looked around. The rappings seemed to be coming from Regan’s bedroom.

What is she doing?

She padded down the hall and the rappings grew suddenly louder, much faster, and as she pushed on the door and stepped into the room, they abruptly ceased.

What the freak’s going on?

Her pretty eleven-year-old was asleep, cuddled tight to a large stuffed round-eyed panda. Pookey. Faded from years of smothering; years of smacking, warm, wet kisses.

Chris moved softly to her bedside, leaned over and whis­pered. “Rags? You awake?”

Regular breathing. Heavy. Deep.

Read more from this excerpt here.

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On this day in 1849, Edgar Allan Poe died at the age of forty under mysterious circumstances.

For more information, read “Mysterious for Evermore” by Matthew Pearl, an article on Poe’s death from The Telegraph. Pearl is the author of a fascinating novel about the subject, The Poe Shadow.

This is Edgar Allan Poe - The Black Cat by the wonderful Alexander Levett:

Here are some links from me:
* In this episode of StarShipSofa, I review the “Madness: Insanity in the Works of Edgar Allan Poe” temporary exhibit at The Poe Museum, a place I always love to visit. I thought this was a very insightful exhibit, and in my “Looking Back on Genre History” segment I try to pass some of those insights along to listeners. If you check it out, I hope you enjoy!
* While we’re talking Poe, I invite you to vote on my Goodreads list of “Fiction Featuring Poe as a Character.”
* Hocus Pocus Comics is Poe-centric, and you’re invited to visit the site. In addition, check out this beautiful time-lapse video of David Hartman drawing the exclusive Kickstarter cover for The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe.

The following are some of my favorite links about Edgar Allan Poe:
* PoeStories.com: An Exploration of Short Stories by Edgar Allan Poe
* The Poe Museum of Richmond
The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore

This haunting doll is Edgar Poe 2 by the talented Gogolle:

One of my favorite works by Poe is “The Masque of the Red Death.” One of the best film representations of the story I’ve ever seen is this gorgeous, silent adaptation from Extraordinary Tales. Perhaps my favorite reading of the story is this one by Gabriel Byrne, which hits all the right notes.

There are chords in the hearts of the most reckless which cannot be touched without emotion. Even with the utterly lost, to whom life and death are equally jests, there are matters of which no jest can becmade. The whole company, indeed, seemed now deeply to feel that in the costume and bearing of the stranger neither wit nor propriety existed. The figure was tall and gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in the habiliments of the grave. The mask which concealed the visage was made so nearly to resemble the countenance of a stiffened corpse that the closest scrutiny must have had difficulty in detecting the cheat. And yet all this might have been endured, if not approved, by the mad revellers around. But the mummer had gone so far as to assume the type of the Red Death. His vesture was dabbled in blood – and his broad brow, with all the features of the face, was besprinkled with the scarlet horror.

- Edgar Allan Poe, “The Masque of the Red Death”

eldritchhobbit: (Pumpkin face)
Today I want to share an extraordinary new story from the October 2017 issue of The Dark Magazine. It is, in a word, haunting. You don’t want to miss “The Whalebone Parrot.”

As author Darcie Little Badger says of her story, “I tried to learn Lipan, but so little remains. Haunted by the ghosts of my dying language, I channeled my anger and sorrow into a story.” Check out this Twitter thread in which she explains the roots of her unforgettable Gothic tale.

Here is a brief taste:

Stairs had been chiseled into the incline between the beach and elevated meadow. As if summoned, a woman in white stepped onto the granite landing. Although her face was hidden by a lace veil, Emily recognized the willowy shape and unflagging straight posture.

“Thank you, Franklin!” Loretta called. That low, lilting voice had given Emily a thousand stories, a thousand admonishments, and a hundred thousand tender endearments. “Albert and I can manage the rest.”

As the skiff broke away from land, the sisters met in the middle of the staircase. “I missed you!” Emily cried. “Let me see your face!”

Loretta turned away from the sea and lifted her veil. “Have three years changed me?” she asked.

“Well … ” Loretta’s skin, once richer than dark amber, was sallow. She must rarely sun it. The new look complemented Whalebone Island, as dreary a place as any. Its grasses, brush, and scraggly trees were wind-stooped and stunted by their inhospitable lot. Emily wondered if the island, with time, would leech the color from her cheeks, too.

“Why do you cover your face?” she asked.

“Because I hate the way they stare.”


“Everyone but you, Darling.” Loretta smiled. “Let’s hurry home. A surprise is waiting.”

Read “The Whalebone Parrot” by Darcie Little Badger – or listen to the podcast version – here.
eldritchhobbit: (Pumpkin face)

This month is the annual Star Wars Reads celebration. Star Wars Reads combines the love of a galaxy far, far away and the joy of reading.

Star Wars Reads 2017 Printable Activity Kit: Plan your own Star Wars event with this amazing party kit, complete with party invitations and activities for kids to adults.

Activity Kit PDF

Star Wars Reads Posters: Decorate with a downloadable Rey and BB-8 poster – in two sizes!

Poster A: PDF | JPEG
Poster B: PDF | JPEG

There will be events around the world sponsored by Star Wars publishers, so keep your eye on the Star Wars Reads Facebook page for more information.


Is Star Wars relevant to Halloween? Of course it is!!!

1. Check out the General Grievous Halloween audiocast! This was an audiocast recorded by Matthew Wood as General Grievous and released on StarWars.com for Halloween of 2005. It was re-released on October 31, 2014. Today you (or your trick-or-treaters) can feel the Force of fright! Download this free audiocast to bring Star Wars scares to your October!

2. Did you know that Halloween was part of the classic Star Wars Expanded Universe?
According to Wookiepedia,

Halloween, or Hallowe'en, was a festival held in certain locations in the galaxy, including the Jedi Temple on the planet Coruscant and the settlement of Bright Tree Village on the Forest Moon of Endor. For the Jedi, the festival entailed decorating the temple with carved pumpkins and cobwebs. For the Ewoks of Endor, the festival was an annual highlight characterized by revelry, costuming, laughter, and a large feast. During the Halloween of 3 ABY, a predatory creature known as a hanadak attacked Bright Tree Village but was coaxed into leaving when Wicket W. Warrick and other Ewoks placed pacifying blue dlock leaves upon it. Later during that same Halloween, a band of Duloks kidnapped the Ewoks’ leader, Chief Chirpa, but Warrick and his friends Teebo and Kneesaa rescued the chief and allowed the Halloween festivities to continue.

Read more details about the specific appearances of Halloween in Star Wars comics, video games, and related books here at Wookiepedia!

3. Check out my current favorite Star Wars Halloween fan art: A Rogue One Halloween by @plays-with-shadows here.

eldritchhobbit: (Pumpkin face)

For years I have admired the beautiful, atmospheric, and often spooky photography of Lizzie~Belle. 

This past summer she documented the incredible headstones at the South Burying Place in Concord, Massachusetts. Check out her entire album of photos from the cemetery here.

Here are some of my favorite photos from the series.


Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day. … The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.” - Seneca

At a Roman triumph, the majority of the public would have their eyes glued to the victorious general at the front—one of the most coveted spots during Roman times. Only a few would notice the aide in the back, right behind the commander, whispering into his ear, “Remember, thou art mortal.” What a reminder to hear at the peak of glory and victory!

… Such reminders and exercises take part of Memento Mori—the ancient practice of reflection on mortality that goes back to Socrates, who said that the proper practice of philosophy is “about nothing else but dying and being dead.” In early Buddhist texts, a prominent term is maraṇasati, which translates as ‘remember death.’ Some Sufis have been called the “people of the graves,” because of their practice of frequenting graveyards to ponder on death and one’s mortality.

Throughout history, Memento Mori reminders have come in many forms. Some, like the aide behind the general, were there to humble. Others were invented to inspire zest for life.

- from “’Memento Mori’: The Reminder We All Desperately Need” at The Daily Stoic


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