Short Story #180: An Arrest by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  An Arrest

Author:  Ambrose Bierce

Summary

Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceAfter Orrin Brower is arrested for killing his brother, he is placed in jail awaiting trial.  At one point, he overpowers his guard and flees again into the night.  He believes he escapes when he enters a clearing in the woods to find a man with a gun waiting for him.  Without a word, the "embodiment of Law," directs him back to the jail.  Orrin has trouble getting a clear view of this man but eventually, determines it to be  Burton Duff.  Only once he is back in the prison, do we find out that next to the jail is a table with a dead body on it, the body of Burton Duff, the guard that Orrin had overpowered to escape.   

Reflection

Nothing particularly grand about this story except for the phrase "embodiment of Law".  It's a fun phrase within the story since it refers to so many things.  Duff is the embodiment of man laws:  death, justice, legal law.  That Bierce was able to pull these together into this supernatural body is rather impressive for such a short work.


Short Story #180 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  6/21/2014
Source:  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins.  Bison Books, 1984.  The full works of Ambrose Bierce, including this story can be found here on Archive.org.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

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Short Story #179: A Moonlit Road by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  A Moonlit Road

Author:  Ambrose Bierce

Summary

Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceThe story is composed of three statements, one of Joel Hetman Jr., one of Caspar Grattan, and one of Julian Hetman through a medium.  Joel Hetman explains that he was the son of Julia and Joel but that Joel was usually very possessive of his wife.  While Joel Jr. was away at college, he received word that his mother had been murdered.  When he comes home, his father explains that he had come home early from a business trip one night and found her murdered.  He had witnessed someone leave the house but it was under the cover of darkness.  Joel Jr. stays home to help his father who is entirely distraught with the events.  One night, while walking home the two see the house and in what was Julia's room, there is a light and the silhouette of a woman.  When Joel Jr. turns back to his father, he is nowhere to be found and he never sees him again.  Caspar Grattan explains that he has lived his life as a recluse for many years now.  He explains that years ago, as a jealous lover, he set up his wife to believe he would be going away for a few days.  He only went into town and came back at night to capture her in the act.  When he came home, he witnessed someone leaving the house and so ran up to his wife's room to confront her.  She lie on the floor dead.  He also remembers some time later walking toward the house wherein he witnessed his ghostly wife in the window and needing to run away to become Caspar.  Julia explains she had an aching premonition but could do nothing with it the night of her death besides go to sleep.  In the midst of darkness, she hears an intruder creeping about is and is fearful but the intruder retreats downstairs.  She moves to the door to hear more when she hears the intruder running up the stairs and storming into the room and he abruptly kills her.  Some time later, she also senses the presence of her husband and attempts to reach out to him at dusk but he runs away.  


Reflection

The different viewpoints was an interesting approach.  Though fairly common in the 1800s, Bierce executed this quite well with each person seeing something but somehow being affected deeply by it so that it profoundly effects them.  That Joel Sr. goes insane and loses his identity (that is, his original self is killed) and that Julia never sees that her husband is the reason for  death, while the son sees it but is left essentially parent-less marks a special kind of tragedy in that both innocents (mother and child) are marked for life (and after life) while the villain all but forgets it all and is saved to life as someone else.  

Short Story #179 out of 365
Rating: 4 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  6/21/2014
Source:  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins.  Bison Books, 1984.  The full works of Ambrose Bierce, including this story can be found here on Archive.org.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Short Story #178: A Wireless Message by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  A Wireless Message

Author:  Ambrose Bierce

Summary

Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceAfter visiting his brother one evening, William Holt takes a walk in the country when he becomes lost.  As he tries to find his way back, he finds everything appears to have a soft, red glow to it.  He chalks this up to the new moon but every time he looks toward the source of light, it always seems behind him.  Eventually, there is another large and blinding light that covers the area and within this, he sees his wife and child.  Then darkness ensures and Holt eventually finds his way back to his village but by the opposite end of which he left.  Later, he received a telegram about the death of his wife by a sweeping fire in Chicago.  

Reflection

Another 2-pager without much meat to it.  Again, classic elements of the supernatural from Bierce but nothing of consequence.  

Short Story #178 out of 365
Rating: 2 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  6/21/2014
Source:  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins.  Bison Books, 1984.  The full works of Ambrose Bierce, including this story can be found here on Archive.org.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Short Story #177: Present at a Hanging by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  Present at a Hanging

Author:  Ambrose Bierce

Summary

Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceThe story begins by explaining that a peddler had disappeared years ago after visiting old man Baker, a recluse of the area.  Such disappearances were not uncommon to peddlers who if successful would have lots of money on them.  Years later, a reverend is walking along a path in the area and comes upon a bridge where he meets peddler.  He offers a ride but the peddler does not respond.  Meanwhile, the horse grows restless.  When the reverend looks away and then back, the man has disappeared.  The horse takes off at this point and eventually the reverend regains control.  He returns home and the next day, he brings friends to investigate.  They find Baker hanging from bridge and on the ground under his body is the buried bones of the peddler.  


Reflection

Not much of a story--it was less than two pages which makes me wonder if it qualifies.  I do find that curious--a 2 page story and wish the anthology had more information about the publication of such stories.  Was it published?  Where?  It appears to be a filler story like those in comics and such.  

Short Story #177 out of 365
Rating: 2 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  6/21/2014
Source:  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins.  Bison Books, 1984.  The full works of Ambrose Bierce, including this story can be found here on Archive.org.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

How To Be a Good Friend on Social Media Part 1 (or 2)

Social media has changed some of the ways we interact with friends and family for good or for bad.  This new space of engagement changes much of how we interact and to what degree we see our friends' larger picture.  We no longer see friends in as limited lens as we might have before but have a larger context of other friends, acquaintances, and family.  Because of the nature of these environments, it's as likely for one person to having meaningful dialogue with their friend on social media as it is one of their friends' friend whom the person has never met.  It means many of us are trying to navigate unclear waters and I thought post might help people better understand how to renegotiate friendship online.  

They are a mixture of Do's and Don'ts to help navigate this tricky new space that many of us find ourselves in.  We're often good at figuring out what to do in the face-to-face environment, but online isn't always as clear as it would seem.  


Identify What Your Social Media Approach Is

This sounds weird, but it's a useful personal exercise and one that can help you decide what it is that you are using these platforms for.  I have my take on social media and place it here on my blog.  It identifies why I use social media and what I want to get out of it.  I hear a lot of people who get frustrated or unclear about the purpose of social media or don't really think about using social media.  Giving yourself some time to clearly identify what it is that you want to get out of social media can help you better decide how you want to interact on social media.  Are you using it solely for finding different information via your social networks or are you looking to use it as a way of interacting with friends when unable to meet face-to-face?  Do you want to engage in debate or just relax in this space?  Determining what you want to do helps you determine where to focus your attention.    

Congratulate in Public

Paper Note with "Good Job" on It:  Image Source: https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4038/4294686346_fa10e0e9c7_z.jpg?zz=1
Give friends credit!  Thank them for doing things for you or with you, on their achievements, and just for being awesome people.  You'd be surprised how a simple comment can light up a person's day and doing so on social media means it's public.  That can be a great way to provide a bit of cheer and excitement for someone since by thanking them, you're also bringing attention to them in both of your social networks.  Remember that this also extends to businesses, organizations, public figures, etc.  


Promote and Share Statuses and Links (Give Credit)

As you come across great content that you find through your networks be sure to give credit.  You may find a link on Twitter but repost it on Facebook.  If that is the case, be sure to tag or acknowledge who helped you find the source. Being acknowledged for contributions to our friends and connections experiences is in part a major piece of what drives social media--knowing that what we share, has an impact.  


Help Promote Social Media Efforts and Campaigns by Friends

"Always pay it forward and never forget to pay it back.  It's how you got here and it defines where you're going... @briansolis" Image Source: https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7178/6904613521_cec81f5a96_z.jpg
I think this is an important and underused element of being a good friend on social media.  Many of us want to support and help people in our networks.  If we are taking the time to post some cause that a friend is pushing for, the hope is that our friends will if not directly contribute to it, then help out by sharing it onward.  When we advocate or promote on their behalf, we help them in ways that are still useful.  Many of us have hundreds (if not more) of people in our social network.  When we share someone else's post for support, aid, etc, we're leveraging our network to help spread their message and potentially expanding the reach exponentially..  That's valuable and powerful for helping out friends.  


Tag With Relevance

Whether tagging in these environments be sure to tag people that are relevant to content of the post.  To follow up on the previous recommendation (Congratulate in Public), when talking about companies, organizations, etc., be sure to tag them as well.  I do my best to include tags when trying to say something good or even critical (more about that below) of a public entity.  Regardless, don't tag unless there's clear reason for it.  Also, be aware as best as possible of your friends and family members' preferences for tagging.  Don't tag people who don't want to be tagged.


Like Statuses That Are Meant to Be Liked 


Dislike Button - Image Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/21/Not_facebook_dislike_thumbs_down.png
Or as I like to put it, "Don't like RIP statuses."  It's clear that some statuses are meant to indicate positive messages.  "I got a great new job!!!".  Perfect--like that a bajillion times.  But more vague messages, you'll want to stay clear from liking.  "I lost my job, today."  Use your words for these types of status.  "I'm sorry to here."  "Can I help?".  Liking such statuses can be confusing for the person who posted and it's even unclear to the people doing the liking.  Because usually the words used for positive credit are words or icons representing liking, hearting, or favoriting, to like questionable updates sends a mix message even though you are sometimes just trying to show support.  


This is the first half.  The second half will be posted next week.  What is some of the advice you offer for better social media exchanges with friends?




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Short Story #176: One of Twins by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  One of Twins

Author:  Ambrose Bierce

Summary

Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceOne of a set of twins explains to someone how he has never really experienced much in terms of strange phenomena as a twin except for this one series of events in which he will relate.  First, he explains that they were so identical that it is likely they were switched back and forth many times in their infancy.  Upon growing up, they moved to San Jose where they ended up living in different parts of the city.  One day, he encounters a man who begins talking with him and assumes him to be his twin.  The man invites him over for a meal and he agrees thanking the man by using the man's last name, even though he had never met the man.  When he meets up with his twin, his twin randomly asked the man for the address the next day--having somehow known about the meeting.  The man, Mr. Margovan, has a daughter to whom the twin becomes engaged to.  Meanwhile, the narrator explains he found an inexplicable desire to follow a woman whom he never met.  He followed her until she met up with another man and entered a disreputable place.  Later on, he met his brother for dinner with his fiance.  Here, he discovers that his twin's soon-to-be wife is in fact the woman he saw earlier.  He confronts her when others are not near.  He demands that she call off the wedding.  Others come back into the room and the conversation ends there.  The next night while sleeping, he is startled by some dark feeling that he cannot fully identify.  A short time later, he hears a scream that he knows to be his brother.  He races to the Margovan house wherein he finds that the fiance had killed herself with poison hours earlier and that his brother had shot himself.  Years later, while wandering the street, he encountered the lover who exclaims at the narrator, attempts to punch him, and then dies on the spot.  



Reflection

A standard story of doubles, deceit, and death.  Not a spectacular piece but one that still fits the bill.  The only thing that remains in question is whether it was really suicide that the twin committed or was it lover.  It stands to reason that it was the lover after seeing the fiance dead, would have shot the brother.  

Short Story #176 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  6/21/2014
Source:  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins.  Bison Books, 1984.  The full works of Ambrose Bierce, including this story can be found here on Archive.org.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Short Story #175: The Haunted Valley by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  The Haunted Valley

Author:  Ambrose Bierce

Summary

Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceThe narrator introduces the reader to a valley that he always feels weird walking across and feels as if he knows something will happen.  He moves on to discuss his encounter with Jo' Dunfer, the man who owns the land in this valley.  Dunfer is a bit of an odd fellow who has a strong disdain for Asians and narrator asks him about this one day when visiting Jo's bar.  Jo initially explains that he had an Asian working for him years ago who was helpless and arrogant.  Despite Jo' supposedly tolerating this for a while, he set up a project he figured would be too much for the Asian person, Ah Wee.  Jo' explains that Ah Wee couldn't fell the trees right and this made him awfully angry.  Before he can go on, Jo' sees an illusion in a knot of wood on the wall that the narrator also sees, it is that of a large black eye.  The narrator leaves and eventually wanders into the valley to where the site of the cabin was to be.  There he finds a grave with an odd dedication to Ah Wee that refers to the person as a woman.  Perplexed, the man ponders what this is all about but learns nothing more for several years.  Four years later, he is hitching a ride with a slightly eccentric man who asks him what he has done with Jo.  The narrator has no answer but continues riding with him.  The narrator later asks what became of Jo and the man brings him to the clearing and next to Ah Wee's grave is Jo's.  The narrator asks why Jo is buried next to Ah Wee and did Jo kill him for not cutting down trees the right way.  The carriage-driver explains that he did and he did so out of jealousy for the carriage-holder who was the other worker that day when Jo was teaching Ah Wee to cut down trees.  The driver goes onto explain that Ah Wee passed as a male and was friendly with the driver much longer than Jo was.  Coupled with this was Jo's refusal to treat her right and so in a rage one day, he killed her and narrowly missed killing the driver.  


Reflection

The story is a bit convoluted, which is not to be expected since this is the first short story that he published.  The hallmarks of his stories are there--some supernatural elements, a first-person point of view, a haunted woods, and some form of violence.  However, the story never feels fully realized.  The gender-play is curious on the one hand and yet, that someone trying to pass as a different sex is needlessly killed is also of not surprise given the times.  

Short Story #175 out of 365
Rating:  2 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  6/21/2014
Source:  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins.  Bison Books, 1984.  The full works of Ambrose Bierce, including this story can be found here on Archive.org.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Short Story #174: The Man and the Snake by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  The Man and the Snake

Author:  Ambrose Bierce

Summary

Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceHarker Brayton is relaxing on a sofa when he comes upon a snake in the room.  The narrator then proceeds to explain that the snake is that of Dr. During, the owner of the house that Harker is visiting.  During is a zoologist and collector of different animals but most particularly, reptiles.  Typically, he keeps them stored away in another wing of the house, nicknamed, the Snakery.  Brayton initially decides to retreat from the room with the snake but wonders if he should confront the snake.  He continues to stare at the snake and determine its plan of attack but the snake continues to be motionless.  However, he feels a blow to his face and chest.  Shortly thereafter, Dr. During is called to the room to check to discover that Harker is dead, clearly bitten by one of his snakes.  However, when During looks in the room, he finds a stuff toy snake and wonders how it got in there.  

Reflection

An amusing story, I'll give it that.  That Harker believes he is staring down death in the form of the motionless (and stuff toy) snake, only to be sideswiped by another snake in the room does work on a metaphorical level with regards to how we operate in life.  

Short Story #174 out of 365
Rating: 3  (out of 5 stars)
Date Read: 6/16/2014 
Source:  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins.  Bison Books, 1984.  The full works of Ambrose Bierce, including this story can be found here on Archive.org.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Short Story #173: A Vine on a House by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  A Vine on a House

Author:  Ambrose Bierce

Summary

Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceA house lay in ruins with nothing but a vine running through it.  It had been abandoned for a while since the Harding family went away.  First the wife was sent away to visit her mother several states away while Harding and his sister in-law remained.  Eventually, they too disappeared and the house fell into disrepair as well as became victim to marauders.  Years later, a minister and attorney find that it is the perfect spot to meet between their two dwellings.  After several meetings, they decide to explore the house.  They decide to take down the vine that rings through the house.  As they get to the root of the vine, they discover it is oddly shaped in the form of a human body with one leg (which happens to be a description of the wife).  Further inquiry leads them to discover that the wife never did visit her relatives and no one knows what happen to Harding and the sister-in-law.  


Reflection

A reasonably creepy story that reminds me a bit of an E.C. Comics horror tale with its dark comeuppance.  The idea of a snaking vine strangling the house of life also gets some points for darkness and creepiness.  

Short Story #173 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  
Source:  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins.  Bison Books, 1984.  The full works of Ambrose Bierce, including this story can be found here on Archive.org.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Short Story #172: The Fruitless Assignment by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  The Fruitless Assignment

Author:  Ambrose Bierce

Summary

Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceHenry Saylor is assigned to go investigate a house on Vine Street that neighbors are claiming are haunted and write a story about it.  People regularly show up, walk in, and if they come out, they disappear.  People have tried to break down the door but with no luck.  He climbed in through the rear window with the help of the police.  Once in the house, he hears all sorts of movement throughout the house.  He moves through the house and finds a woman's head.  He brings it toward the window examine it and continues to hear people.  He believes people outside has stampeded into the house.  When they enter the room and see him with the head, he tries to explain but they just laugh and kick the head around.  He left the house and goes to the office.  He reports that there is nothing going on in the house.  

Reflection

The silenced report is an interesting conclusion to this story given Bierce's own experience as a journalist and the idea that covering up a story is better than the truth.  It was a shorter short story and I think much more could be done with it.  However, the scene with the head and the people playing with it was done quite well.

Short Story #172 out of 365
Rating:  3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  6/16/2014
Source:  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins.  Bison Books, 1984.  The full works of Ambrose Bierce, including this story can be found here on Archive.org.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Short Story #171: The Realm of the Unreal by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  The Realm of the Unreal

Author:  Ambrose Bierce

Summary

Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceWhile travelling by himself, Mr. Manrich encounters Dr. Dorrimore who insists that Manrich gives him a ride.  Manrich is no fan of Dorrimore, who is a magician of sorts from India whom Manrich has seen perform.  He gives the man a ride but hopes his interaction with the man will be minimal as he believes Dorriomre to be a fraud.  He discovers that Dorrimore is staying at the same place as him.  Shortly thereafter, Manrich's paramour arrives and he spends some time thoroughly enjoying her company.  They spend a few weeks together and he reluctantly introduces her to Dorrimore.  One night, a few weeks later, Manrich is sitting near a graveyard at night when he sees Dorrimore with his love.  He sprang forward but then awakes the next morning in his room with his bruises on his body and throat.  When he asks about his love, he finds out that she has not been staying there and that Dr. Dorrimore has left that morning.  Later when he asks his love about visiting him, she said that she never did.  

Reflection

Overall, the story does well to keep the reader guessing until the end about what was real and unreal.  Did Dorrimore make up the presence of the love or did he make the love forget that she had visited?  That Manrich cannot figure it out means he must find some means of respect for the magical workings of Dorrimore.  


Short Story #171out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  6/16/2014
Source:  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins.  Bison Books, 1984.  The full works of Ambrose Bierce, including this story can be found here on Archive.org.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Short Story #170: The Damned Thing by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  The Damned Thing

Author:  Ambrose Bierce

Summary

Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceEight men are present in a cabin, standing over a dead body that is covered.  William Harker enters and is sworn in to give testimony about the dead person, Hugh Morgan.  Harker explains he was visiting Morgan and invited to go hunt quail.  While wandering, their hunting dog goes crazy and Morgan shoots at what appears to be nothing in Harker's eyes.  However, there is a roar and clear movement in the aftermath of Morgan's shot.  Something surges forward and brutally beats Morgan to death.  After finishing his tale, the jury asks what asylum did Harker escape from.  Harker rebuts the insult and tells the coroner to read Morgan's journal for more insight.  The journal covers the events leading up to Morgan's death as he becomes aware of an invisible creature that he is hunting.  He reasons out that it lacks color or has a color that renders it invisible but to make sure he is not crazy, he plans on inviting Harker with him when he hunts it.  

Reflection

A decent horror tale with its mixture of storytelling among the characters.  It reminds me of other tales such as Fitz-James O'Brien's What Is It and Guy de Maupassant's Le Horla.  This confrontation with the invisible world is a classic horror trope that we still wonder and get excited (as well as fearful) of.  


Short Story #170 out of 365
Rating: 4 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  6/16/2014
Source:  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins.  Bison Books, 1984.  The full works of Ambrose Bierce, including this story can be found here on Archive.org.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Tales of Running: Vibram-Gait (Get it?)

About a month ago, I across several of my feeds that Vibrams had recently settled a big lawsuit.  Now, we all know here that I'm a big Vibrams fan.  They are a shoe for all seasons as far as I see it.  So when I found out that they had settled a lawsuit, I was pretty surprised, initially.  


Not giving them up any time soon!
They lawsuit did not have to do with injuries incurred by the users but by the health claims associated with Vibrams.  They claimed things about their product that were not scientifically proven and someone called them on it  Fair enough--no company should falsely represent itself in such a manner.  However, I noticed that a good amount of people have used the loss to gloat, laugh at, or validate their belief that Vibrams are bad.  I get why they have done so but of course, as someone who has made a fundamental lifestyle change (that is, became a runner) that was a direct result of Vibrams, I feel I need to speak to what the lawsuit does and doesn't represent for me.  

Vibrams settled and therefore, did not lose the lawsuit.  There is a distinction worth noting here.  They are not guilty but recognize the overstretching of their claims.  This translates into they cannot prove their claims as of yet but that's not to say the claims won't eventually ring true.  There has been limited research on this topic and with mixed information.  

The limited results don't sway me against Vibrams because they aren't robust enough.  In order for real proof to be acquired about this, you would need the following groups to study:

  • Group 1:  Do nothing--not even run (essentially, your control group).
  • Group 2:  People who already run with regular shoes (and continue to do so; a control regular group, so to speak)
  • Group 3: People who already run with Vibrams (and continue to do so; a control Vibram group).
  • Group 4: People who take up running with regular shoes.
  • Group 5: People who take up running with Vibram shoes.
  • Group 6: People who switch from regular shoes to Vibram shoes.
  • Group 7: People who switch from Vibrams shoes to regular shoes.
  • Group 8: People who stop running altogether (having run with regular shoes)
  • Group 9: People who stop running altogether (having run with Vibram shoes)

As someone who did not run at all and first started running with Vibrams, I know my experience is likely to be profoundly different than the person who makes the switch from running with regular shoes to Vibrams and I think this is where researchers explore for more clearer results.  Unfortunately, I think some will take the lawsuit as shorthand for the idea that the shoes are dangerous or injury-inducing and therefore, avoid them or encourage others to avoid them.  

That being said, if you have invested in a pair of Vibrams as a direct result of my encouragement or it was one of the things that influenced you, feel free to get your refund from the settlement at this website.  The form is easy to fill out especially if you've bought only one or two pairs.  

I will continue to run and purchase Vibrams as I have had amazing success with them and believe they are a useful shoe (when used correctly). 

Short Story #169: John Mortonson's Funeral by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  John Mortonson's Funeral

Author:  Ambrose Bierce

Summary

Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceJohn Mortonson sits in his casket with his family members weeping about him.  Soon, friends come to visit.  The minister arrives and delivers a eulogy.  As the ceremony is wrapping up, the mother runs to the casket and throws herself upon it and opens it to see her son one last time.  His physical appearance causes the audience to be repulsed and one man knocks over a support for the casket.  The coffin calls and breaks open, wherein Mortonson's cat walks out from within the casket.  

Reflection

This story was never published but found among Bierce's writings after his death.  It was a short story without much punch besides asking the obvious question of how did the cat get in there in the first place.  


Short Story #169 out of 365
Rating:  (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  6/16/2014
Source:  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins.  Bison Books, 1984.  The full works of Ambrose Bierce, including this story can be found here on Archive.org.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

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Short Story #168: A Watcher by the Dead by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  A Watcher by the Dead

Author:  Ambrose Bierce

Summary

Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceThe story begins with a man sitting in a room at night with a corpse under a sheet.  Seeing that his candle is low, he blows it out in order to save on the candle should he need it later on.  The story moves to a Dr.'s office where two doctors and an aid are discussing the topic of death and sanity.  Two of them singularly believe that facing death in some challenging way such as doctors or soldiers do proves the quality of a man.  They agree to take a bet on a man, Jarette who will stay in a room with a corpse all night.  The story returns to Jarette who becomes increasingly anxious in the dark and indeed even hears footfalls.  The next morning, one of the doctors and his aid walk over to the house.  While there, they see a great commotion about the house and wonder what has occurred.  They discover that Jarette has killed their friend who was pretending to be a corpse.  They conclude that they had best leave the country soon.


Reflection

A serious case of Murphy's law in effect.  I'm not sure this falls under the auspices of "horror" but more like dark humor with the doctor and aide fleeing to Europe at the end like this were a joke.  

Short Story #168 out of 365
Rating: 2 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  6/14/2014
Source:  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins.  Bison Books, 1984.  The full works of Ambrose Bierce, including this story can be found here on Archive.org.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Short Story #167: The Death of Halpin Frayser by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  The Death of Halpin Frayser 

Author:  Ambrose Bierce

Summary

Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose BierceThe story begins with Halpin Frayser speaking the words Catherine Larue into the darkness and we're told that he died shortly thereafter at the age of 32 of unnatural causes.  As he wanders the darkness, it is clear there is something devious about and he is stricken with fear but tries to fend it off.  He confronts the darkness and claims power over it.  He quickly grabs quickly begins to write but before he can write too much, he is confronted by the corpse of his mother.  The story then switches to telling us about Frayser's upbringing in Tennessee.  He never fit in with most of his family except for his mother.  His penchant for poetry--albeit bad poetry--makes him a favorite to her.  As Frayser becomes a young man, the relationship between mother and son is perceived as strange as they are together constantly.  One day, Frayser tells her that he will take to California and though she initially tries to go with him, she relents.  While in San Francisco, Halpin is kidnapped onto a ship and spends several years at sea.  The story switches back to the day after Halpin's confrontation.  A deputy and detective are walking the roads near where Halpin was last seen, looking for a criminal named Branscom.  They heard he is in town and plan to capture him.  He's wanted for slicing the throat of a woman in California.  While exploring an area beyond a graveyard, they find a body that clearly was in a struggle before dying.  The discover that this is Halpin's body and a poem on him that he had just written.  Nearby, they discover another headboard with the name Catherin Larue.  It's at this point that the officer remembers that Larue was Branscom's originally last name and Frayser was the name of the woman whom Branscom killed.


Reflection

A little convoluted and it's not entirely clear if Bransom or the ghost of Catherine killed Frayser.  Though in some facets Frayser is a likeable character, he is not overall agreeable.  The suggestion of incest and the contrast between he and his mother and Branscom and this Catherine (is she his mother, sister, or wife?) are not as strong as they could be.  However, Bierce does nail the atmosphere with this story.  

Short Story #167 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  6/13/2014
Source:  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins.  Bison Books, 1984.  The full works of Ambrose Bierce, including this story can be found here on Archive.org.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

My Top 101 Films Part 3 (of 10)

So we're trekking along and are now into part 3 of a 10 part series that covers my favorite 101 films.  For those that missed the first two posts, here they are:



So let's see the list!


Dark Crystal (1982)

DVD Cover - The Dark Crystal
I've always been a fan of fantasy and what can be done with it.  Couple with that a fascination with puppetry a la the Muppets and Fraggle Rock, and well, it's no wonder that Dark Crystal is part of the mixture.  It's one of two puppet films on this list and of the two, it is the one that is family friendly.  However, what I liked about the film was its darkness and complexity.  The film presents itself as pulled into a larger mythology and history that the viewer is only getting a glimmer of.  Coupled with that we have characters built from tragedy and horrific characters that are in fact, good (the witch, always weirded me out).  There's also elements of whimsy within the film such as the first time we learn that female gelflings can fly.  Added to this is the rich world crafted by Jim Henson and it's a place I'm happy to return to again again.  You can view the trailer for this film on Youtube.


Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012)

DVD Cover - Dark Knight Trilogy
Though Tim Burton's Batman makes an appearance on the list, Nolan's trilogy is a fantastic modern rendering of the Dark Knight.  Though there are elements that I'm critical of such as the length of the second movie and the overly complicated plot of the final film, it does as a whole present a fantastic representation of Batman that in some good ways moves beyond the sometimes too simplistic representation of Batman in the comics.  By this I mean, Batman shows growth and accepts that he can find redemption in his failures to save his parents.  We see a Bruce Wayne that can eventually grow up and seek to become something other than Batman while leaving a legacy (Robin) to follow in his footsteps.  You can view this trailer compilation for these films on Youtube.


District 9 (2009)

A friend/colleague and I have watched the hell out of this movie.  We were fascinated by the mixture of politics, race, identity, and media representation that this film utilizes.  For some, it was a basic popcorn sci-fi flick, but Blomkamp packs a lot of different ideas into the film that resonated with both our areas of study.  Wikus's transition from pen-pushing alien-mocking bureaucrat to alien-infected tortured prisoner to alien-protector is a fascinating trip through so many issues of modern culture with regards to race relations, terrorism, and political-military-corporate interrelations in international affairs.  You can view the trailer for this film on Youtube.


Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in The Hood (1996)

Not many people have seen this Wayans' brothers parody of inner-city films but I saw it as a pinnacle step from the work of Mel Brooks to the later parody films that came out throughout the late 1990s and 2000s such as the Scary Movie franchise (also started by the Wayans).  Much of the work and the extreme dirtiness that comes up in later films has its start in this film.  It has its share of laughs but a big reason it is less well-known than Scary Movie is that the films its parodies are lesser known.  The urban African American male-coming of age story, chock-full of violence, racial barriers, and tragedy is much less known or appealing to movie-viewing audiences.  The complexities brought to these films about inner urban life is often left unheard by audiences.  Thus, a film that parodies this sub-genre of film was not going to do nearly as well as it should.  Yes, I still find it a great film.  You can view the trailer for this film on Youtube.


Double Indemnity (1944)

DVD Cover - Double Indemnity
Since being introduced to film noir in a popular culture and film course I took shortly after college, Double Indemnity has been one of my favorites.  It such a great representation of the genre and is just a fun film to watch.  More so than other films in the genre, I found this narrative appealing because it's not just about the male character and the femme fatale, but also about Neff's relationship with Keyes.  That is, the tragedy of the film is the failure of Neff to be the man that Keyes thinks he is.  Both men are blinded; one by greed, the other by love.  The most prized element of this film though is the dialogue and the some-times ridiculous lines and analogies that come from Neff.  How he spits of lines with sharp and euphemism make him all the more lovable.  You can view the trailer for this film on Youtube.


Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008)

DVD Cover - Dr Horrible
I've talked about Joss Whedon before and I'm not even sure this constitutes a film because it is a 42 minute video miniseries but it is worth watching, especially if you're a fan of the superhero genre or wacky musical comedies.  The plot is utterly ridiculous but played so well by the actors including Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day that you can't help but enjoy.  Their delivery in this superhero parody is highly enjoyable.  This is one of the few films I would recommend making sure to listen to the DVD commentary as there is a layer of comedy added by listening to it.  You can view this film in full on Youtube.





Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932)

DVD Cover - Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
I'm a huge fan of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the novella, its various reworkings through numerous media, and its offshoots (such as the Incredible Hulk, Fight Club, etc).  The 1932 is still one of the best renderings for Jekyll and Hyde that I've ever seen (and I've seen many!).  It captures the narrative well in terms of the pulls of the Victorian male and the modern idea of perfection.  The adapting of the prose is reasonable, keeping in mind that any film after the popularity of the novella made following the novella, nearly impossible--after all, if we all know Jekyll is Hyde, then the mystery is no longer relevant.  However, what I value much about the film are its special effects (for the time) and its influence on later films (such as King Kong).  I also find it a fascinating film to look at through the lens of racial depiction in US history as it's clear Hyde can be understood as black.  You can view the trailer for this film on Youtube.


Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Here's another film I was introduced to via my education in one of my history courses.  This satirical look at the Cold War and its various mechanisms to ultimately win the war (at the cost of human life everywhere).  The criticism (and humor) around war, military leaders, politicians, and bureaucrats along with their amusing names is certainly something many appreciate but it's the two pivotal characters at the end that make the film worth watching, the enigmatic Dr. Strangelove and the nuke-riding Major Kong.  You can view this film in full here.


Dracula (1931)

DVD Cover - Dracula 1931
By now means does this equate with the novel, but the film is still enjoyable to watch.  Dracula himself played by Bela Lugosi has become the icon of vampires for the last 80 years.  The story itself is pretty lose but there are some great moments of this film that make it worth the watch.  The face off between Van Helsing and Dracula in the house is fascinating though in essence just a staring match.  More curious and haunting is the Renfield character.  When they show him just arrived in England on the boat and he is stark mad, he manages to communicate that quite well.  However, the scariest part (if one can say it is indeed a scary film) is when the nurse is passed out on the floor and Renfield is left to hover over her.  The scene cuts before anything can happen but there is a perceived malevolence in that moment.  The present of Dracula and Frankenstein in the same year are worth the poor interpretation as they give birth to a long-lasting legacy of horror films.  You can view this film in full on Archive.org.


The Exorcist (1973)

DVD Cover - Exorcist
Of course, this is a film that by contrast to Dracula is truly horrifying.  In fact, it's made it onto my list of scariest horror films.  The possessing of anyone has a fascinating dynamic it to it but throw into that mix a child and you've got the opportunity for some real mayhem and anxiety.  What film does well is not that it is big scares that are meant to have you jump in your seat but the dynamics of Reagan's experiences that are truly horrifying.  When she comes down to the social gathering and urinates or when she is convulsing.  The sense of one's body not only being out of control but outright violent and violating is what truly messes with viewers.  That the ending offers now real closure to the experience makes the viewer wonder if there is a demon ready to haunt his or her own soul.  You can view the trailer for this film on Youtube.


Your turn!  What are some of your favorite films and why?  Post them in the comments!




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