Why Edgar Allan Poe is Important to Teach in Schools

bohemian rhapsody,Edgar Allan Poe,Hall of Fame,literalism,lyrics,poe,poor,queen,similar sounding,slang

Spare Poe his work from the Common Core Monstrosity

My mother was up and spent yesterday being fairly ill due to a blocked tube in her ear that made her dizzy. We spent a lot of time talking and she lamented an experience from when she was a teaching assistant, a position she just retired from last year. The new-ish principal, who I had only known as the parent of a girl a few years younger than me who fancied herself a genius, had suggested that the works of Edgar Allan Poe had no educational value. My mother, a Poe fan since she was in middle school, was taken aback, but, valuing her career and not wishing to argue, kept quiet.

“Poe time” was something to look forward to for me from 7th to 12th grade. For those years, every Halloween season, me and my classmates were regaled with tales of murder, disease, torture, and love beyond death. Not exactly standard school material, which made us excited. We were learning, but we were being creeped out while we were learning. It was a lot of fun! Of course there were essays, response questions, and analysis, same with anything else, but we were learning about all kinds of disturbing things. Stuff the grown ups wanted to shelter us from.

That’s probably why the principal wanted to stop the fun.

I am strongly against censoring things, particularly good literature. Honestly, I was just as horrified by The Giver as any of Poe’s work. Classes are required to read Night which is true horror incarnate, as it details the experience of a Holocaust survivor. One of my favorite books as a child, Lord of the Flies is disturbing and terrifying, and some of my classmates openly admitted to not wanting to read it because of this. So what makes Poe different? Is it because he sets out to horrify the reader? Is it his focus on death rather than life?

Frankly, I believe Poe is important to teach students. A master of the short story, his work has no doubt inspired many great authors, including H.P. Lovecraft, (Which should ALSO be taught in schools but at the college level). Poe’s work can be helpful for short story writing projects, and his language use can enhance reading comprehension. In short, Poe was a genius. To not present the work of a genius to a class is to weaken the learning experience of that class.

Some spooky ideas for the classroom can be found on this blog’s Sister Blog, Rainbowneontiki: https://rainbowneontiki.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/the-tricks-and-treats-of-halloween-and-education/

Drunkality #4

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Because I’m all out of ideas.

I’m sure some people are wondering: Why do you have these booze posts on your blog? To be fair, that’s where I got my start, with a 21 Sacraments inspired collection of booze recipes. I understand that it’s not necessarily an original idea, but hey, it’s fun! Things that are fun don’t have to make sense. As for this particular series, I plan on covering everyone featured in the series reboot, while doing other characters as requested. I do plan on starting out with the ninjas and then branching out into others. For some reason, the Ninjas are the most popular characters, and so I have decided to make them shots so that they can be easily paired in groups of two or three.

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Jury’s out on whether or not Error Macro- erm, sorry Ermac is still a ninja, but if I had to pick a favorite ninja, it would be the ninja that isn’t really even a ninja anymore. Ermac’s character development really kicked off in Deception, which, while it was a generally crappy game, made me really like the character. This continued in MK:9 and MKX, where Ermac becomes less and less of a palette swap and more his own character. Originally serving Mileena, he realized how inept of a leader she was and instead swore allegiance to Kotal Kahn, making him really neither good nor evil. Also of note are the many different souls warring for control within one body, which leads to some interesting endings and may be implemented into the story one day.

I was originally going to make this green and airy in conjunction with Ermac’s powers, however, I realized I already HAD a green shot and instead sought to work off the red of his outfit. The flavor of this beverage is less one-note than the spicy, cold, sour punch of the first three. It’s bittersweet, like the fate of the souls living within one husk.

Ermac Shot

Fill a shot glass half full with Chambord and top off with bitter Campari. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Enjoy.

Drunkality #3

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Indeed!

The nightly migrations of the college students in my area have begun once again. The liquor stores are stocking up in preparation. Attempting to purchase liquor for my Drunkality! series has become less and less of a fun trip. It’s one thing to drink and enjoy drinking, it’s another thing to run down the street in your underwear screaming.

I have no idea where I’m going with this, but…uh…yeah, Lizard people. Lizard people and millennials are basically the same thing, right?

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Reptile is…sad. Not only is he the last of his kind, but he always ALWAYS gets his ass kicked. Seriously, this guy has almost as bad of a time as Johnny Cage. Reptile really only became a character in MKX once he was actually given some damned sympathy by the man sent to dispose of him. Granted, people still pick on him and treat him with contempt in game, but he actually catches a break for once. He defends Kotal Kahn regardless of any threat to himself, which shows that he has potential as a decent character if the series continues, rather than as a mindless hissing beast.

Unlike drunk frat boys that spew junk food, Reptile is known for spewing acid, which was the main influence in the creation of this shot. Paired with the Scorpion and Sub-Zero shots, it’s an interesting trio of spicy, frosty, and sour. It’s one of my favorites in the ninja shot collection, as sour apple is one of my favorite flavors in general.

Reptile Shot

Fill a shot glass half full with Sour Apple pucker and top off with Midori melon liqueur. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the top. Enjoy.

Drunkality #2

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This is about what my creativity has been…

So I finally return to continue this series of boozy beverages. However, I plan on doing one of these once a week rather than feeling like I have to crank these out all at once. That way I can switch between this, countdowns, and discussions on concepts and theories in horror. Think of it like this: would you rather just eat bagel chips or eat Chex Mix? Granted the bagel chips are the tastiest part, but variety is nice.

So let’s keep the booze coming, eh?

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Sub-Zero or…more specifically, Kuai Liang, is more likeable than Hanzo Hasashi in my opinion. Granted he has the standard “vengeance for a deceased sibling” thing going on in the first few appearances he has, but eventually became his own character. Like with all of the characters, he got a lot more character development in the new storyline. He goes through utter hell, being forcibly “cyberized”, dying, being resurrected, being mind controlled, and finally being freed and becoming the Grandmaster of the Lin Kuei. He even buries the hatchet with Hanzo…like, for real. And not in his brain.

The (HA!) Polar opposite of Scorpion, Sub-Zero exerts control over ice. Well, any drink could represent him because many alcoholic beverages are served cold. Then I thought of mint, which can enhance the “coolness”  of any beverage. And of course, it has to be blue. -ICE- blue. Har har.

Sub-Zero Shot

Make an ice shot glass if you have the mold for it, however, a regular glass that has set in the freezer will do just fine. Fill the glass half full with Hpnotiq, Top with peppermint schnapps. Enjoy.

Drunkality: #1

Sadly I cannot find the rest of the Mortal Kombat Tag. It’s all a big mess…so what now?

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BRILLIANT.

It has been some time since I have done a booze-related post. I do plan on getting into more horror-themed discussions later on, but this has been LONG overdue.

DRUNKALITY! will be my new Mortal Kombat-themed drink series, because everyone has Mortal Kombat parties involving alcohol, right? Take a shot every time one of the Cage family makes a lame joke? Every time Scorpion does something grim-dark? Every time Raiden progressively becomes the worst person ever? You’d be trashed in a few minutes!

So let’s begin with the most popular character in the series: Mr. Hanzo Hasashi, also known as Scorpion.

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I’m not really a fan of the character, but I can understand why he is so popular. I mean, a rope-spear wielding ninja Ghost Rider with 100% less Nicholas Cage. I did enjoy the character development he received in the alternate timeline as he became something more than just “emo flame zombie ninja”, and served as a teacher to Takeda. It was honestly great to see him regain his humanity, and, although I am skeptical on the success of the series without one of its major villains, (haha, nobody dies in MK), it was good to see him finally get his revenge.

Scorpion is most famous for being on fire and having attacks relating to fire. I’m someone who has crafted some fiery beverages in her day, I welcomed this challenge. As a bit of a note, the Ninjas of this series will be represented as shots so that if desired, the drinks can be consumed in rapid succession. I am not kidding when I say that this is the “meanest” spicy drink I have made as it has nothing to cool down the fire, making it especially well paired with the upcoming Sub-Zero shot.

Scorpion Shot

Fill a shot glass half full with Fireball whiskey and then top off with Cinnamon Schnapps. Add a dash (or a few) of Sriracha sauce depending on how masochistic you are. Enjoy.

30 Days of Mortal Kombat: Part Two

2: Least Favorite Character(s)

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Oh there are SO many…I don’t know if I can pick just one? As much as I love Deadly Appliance (Alliance) for rounding out some great characters and introducing characters like Kenshi, Bo’ Rai Cho and Nitara, I really really question the logic behind the “Red Dragon”.

Seriously? Who even are these dumbasses? Who the hell is this little hack using hookswords who claimed to have defeated the amazing Kabal? Who is this dumbass in pseudo Nazi gear with a laser chest? They’re trying to make these losers seem important by tying them into the already catastrophic storyline of Armageddon? Lovely.

Mavado and Hsu Hao are literally the worst. They’re that guy who is trying to be cool and edgy and instead looks like a complete moron in the process. I found it amazing that one of the things the Alternate Timeline did was kill them both off hilariously. Even Netherrealm Studios hates these guys, and yet they still manage to have fangirls. Logic. There is none.

Dishonorable Mentions:

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What do I see here? I see one AMAZING character and two poorly developed hacks. Kobra is an obviously cheap ripoff of Ken Masters and Kira is just some wouldbe edgy chick that a fangirl would make. The two of them are not as much of a shame to the makers of the series as Mavado and Hsu Hao, but they have been reduced to injokes in X, with Erron Black stating that he killed Kobra in casual dialogue, and Kung Lao making fun of Kano by calling him Kira. The only members of the Black Dragon I want to see or hear about are Kabal and Kano, let’s leave it that way.

30 Days of Mortal Kombat: Part One

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*techno music*

Although I dismiss it as a fragment of my “edgy emo” past, this hyperviolent, crazy awesome, and unintentionally hilarious series still has a place in my heart. While the series has evolved from “funny” to “nauseating”, I can’t help but feel nostalgic for some characters, fatalities, and other junk. Do I consider myself a member of the fandom? That’s a more difficult question to answer. I consider myself an avid fan, but I would consider this to be one of the most troubling fandoms of all. Between the teenaged boys fapping to dessicated women and the teenaged girls distilling great characters to parodies of themselves, I generally try to avoid being too open about my love for the series so I don’t seem like part of a whole boatload of crazy.

Anyway, let us begin.

1: Favorite Character

This has changed over the years somewhat. I still like Dairou the forehead-zilla and his foe-yay interactions with prettyboy Hotaru. So what’s changed? I’ve finally accepted something that I knew for YEARS since my exposure to Conquest…

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I -fucking love- Quan Chi. He is what I wish every truly evil villain to be- sinister, conniving and manipulative. He’s creepy but elegant and intriguing. Brutal, but cunning. Although I was introduced to him in Conquest, and I absolutely loved him in that, I became a bigger fan with my introduction to Deadly Appliance (Alliance). I lost interest in Mortal Kombat for a VERY long time after Deception, with Armageddon being a complete mess and the reboot being tarnished by what I felt was a pretty crappy plot, but regained it with X thanks in large part to Quan Chi being absolutely amazingly well-crafted for the game. Granted he spends most of the story mode getting beaten up, but his dialogue and mannerisms are on point. Ironically, the game where he actually gets his just desserts is the game where he shines the most. Also, dat voice.

Honorable Mention

I had my doubts about X starting over with what basically amounted to a whole new cast. A whole new group of young champions from Earthrealm, (which are also great characters) were introduced, but it wasn’t them that caught my attention…

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It was the new Kahn. Kotal Kahn is such an interesting character. While his predecessor fell into the pitfall of being a cliche angry villain who likes yelling a lot, Ko’atal is more of an anti-hero, as in he’s not that terrible of a person, just prone to doing foolish and evil things when under duress. He served as the Blood God to the Mayan people at one point, and oh does it show, as 90% of what he does involves drawing blood in some manner. He even gets the “heart rip” fatality this time and it actually makes sense with his character. He, oddly enough, reminds me a LOT of the Pillar Men of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, in both appearance and mannerisms, and I think that’s part of why I like him. I think it will be neat to see what Netherrealm Studios does with this guy, and hope they don’t simply find a way to dispose of him.

Horror vs. Gore-rror: What Makes Things Scary?

Scary Story Telling Dog

THE HORROR!!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes some things scary and what makes some things…not scary as of late. Is repulsion really “horror”? What separates horror from shock and disgust, or are they interchangeable?

For me, these things are not mutually exclusive.

Horror and terror can be easily summed up in VSauce’s excellent explanation as to why things are creepy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEikGKDVsCc

There are many different categories, therefore of fear, I believe. As a writer, reader, and avid consumer of all things horror, I find that I prefer “horror” and especially “terror” types of scares when it comes to things. Intrigue and the unexplainable, hell, even the incomprehensible, interest me. However, there is a distinct type of “scary” that I do not avidly subscribe to as being actually frightening, that being gore.

A reaction of disgust and a reaction of fear, at least for me, are very different. Typically, when one is afraid, one withdraws in on oneself, pulling the covers up to their neck, jumping at every small noise, and bristling with goosebumps. In contrast, when one is disgusted, the reaction is much more outward in the form of a loud “UGH!” or in more extreme cases, projectile vomiting. Horror games are not necessarily overly gory, but may have moments of blood just to establish a clear and present danger to the protagonist. The Silent Hill series does this brilliantly. Even though monsters and deaths may be bloody, the reason why it is scary comes from the fact that the monsters represent one’s subconscious laid bare, as well as the sense of the unknown.

Gore in an of itself isn’t scary in particular and is more of a device to accentuate the mood. Action movies can be gory, as can comedies, adventure films, horror, and fantasy. But gore itself should never stand as a genre, because at that point you risk losing a purpose to storytelling. When we see someone, for example, strangled and ripped apart by a ghostly shrine maiden in Fatal Frame, it serves to ramp up the seriousness of the threat and is not the overarching theme throughout. This may only be shown once, but just enough to emphasize that the ghost is dangerous and to introduce the rope curse. Another example of gore as mood is in Outlast, which, although it had its moments of launching headlong into the “gross out” genre, its gore was mostly pertinent. The best example of this is the introduction, when one enters a room full of bodies that Chris Walker had dismantled. This serves to increase suspicion and fear. Just who exactly did this? It leads perfectly into the first jumpscare with Chris.

A problem arises when we classify gore itself as scary. If we go with this, we end up with the countless “horror” movies produced by American filmmakers that are affectionately called “torture porn”. The Saw series after the first movie, Hostel, the hilariously bad Wrong Turn series, and several poorly executed slasher films. These movies are reviled by some horror fans and celebrated by others, but, for the most part, if the gore is too egregious, the film becomes unenjoyable. Overblown gore can either come across as absolutely hilarious, as in the Peter Jackson film Dead Alive, or vomit-inducing, as in the later Saw films. This extends to video games as well. Horror games that rely too much on gore and too little on scares are generally considered to be bad. By noting gore as “scary” rather than “disgusting” or “useful”, we risk identifying some rather unscary things as horror. Mortal Kombat, anyone? It’s gory, disgusting, and features lots of people dying, but it is far from being horror, even with Mileena’s dental work and a gaggle of soul-stealing maniacs taken into account.

In conclusion, I have no problem with gore being used in writing and sometimes use it as a device myself. However, be very careful when you get too egregious lest you provoke a reaction that you did not intend and send your reader running to the toilet to vacate their stomach contents, or, perhaps worse, make them laugh hysterically. If the purpose of horror, and more appropriately, terror, is to induce a panic for fear of the unknown in someone, then why be blatant with mutilations, when you could make their skin crawl and cause paranoia insead?

The Ethics and Appeal of True Horror Stories

Consider that a Nightmare Fuel Warning

A popular trend I’ve noticed as of late are “True Scary Stories”. Some pulled from Reddit, some from news articles and stories passed on by family members. Some of the storytellers that share these tales even ask for suggestions, (which is pretty neat). While some of these are fairly innocent, albeit pantswettingly terrifying, there are some stories that I feel push a bit too far.

People, as a whole, I feel, are a bit morbid. They may not show it, but almost everyone has a latent dark curiosity about some rather unsettling subject matter. I am a firm believer in “too soon”. Some true stories, such as my favorite true mystery, The Wych Elm Bella, took place far enough back in history to talk about freely and was covered extensively by news reports. The same thing is the case with the Dyatlov Pass Incident, (which is even getting a VIDEO GAME this year). But hearing people talking about modern experiences with death sort of unsettles me, especially incidences that are unsolved. Granted, unsolved murders and mysteries of history such as the Ripper Murders are fascinating, but it feels safer to discuss them considering that both Mr. Ripper and his victims’ close family members are long gone.

But when people talk about family that was murdered or, more egregiously, encountering a taxidermied human being recently, I know personally that if a friend of mine died and someone decided to try to gain fame by telling a story about it, I would be angry. Angry that my friend was reduced to a “creepy jumpscare”. Perhaps I am in the minority, perhaps these stories aren’t actually “true”, or perhaps they had a good reason for sharing the story, but stories involving the actual death of an individual unsettle me.

However, that does not diminish the appeal of some of these stories, especially stories of people encountering the paranormal. They make me feel a little more credible given my own experience with the Bathroom Ghost of Doom, (If anyone would like me to post this story, I will. It will scare the SHIT out of you!). I find that sharing our stories with others can provide a source of comfort to those sharing and help build a community. The storytellers and Reddit are helping to facilitate this and it can help with the healing process, especially for horribly traumatic encounters.

True Horror is a double-edged sword, it seems, but I’m mostly alright with it, even though I enjoy exercising creativity when it comes to horror. I may make a countdown of my personal favorite creepy true life tales from Reddit. In the meantime, check out Mr. Nightmare’s channel for some scares!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnM02drQP-dF7WMgtJHR4Xw