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Quotes re: Qui-Gon Jinn

This Spring I'll be teaching my "The Force of Star Wars" course online (in both undergraduate and graduate-level versions) at my current home, Lenoir-Rhyne University, and my old stomping grounds, Belmont University. The class sizes are limited, and now that pre-registration has begun, I'm tickled to say that interest appears to be high. There are waiting lists to get into sections at both campuses. The Force does indeed seem to be awakening! ;)

Following conversations with my fantastic Star Wars students this semester, I've been going back through some of the literature to find some favorite Qui-Gon Jinn-related quotes (above and beyond these that I posted earlier).

Quotes are below the cut.Collapse )


Gratuitous Niece Picspam

Thank you, my friends, for all of your kind and sympathetic words. They've meant a great deal to me over these recent days.

FYI, my most recent "Looking Back on Genre History" segment is up on Episode 410 of StarShipSofa. It's the first of a two-part look into the science fictional and historical inspirations behind the Jedi of Star Wars. If you listen, I hope you enjoy!

And now, a moment of joy, courtesy of my niece. Kaitlyn's favorite thing to do this season is dive into a pile of dry leaves.

Kaitlyn playing in pile of dry leaves
I've been putting off making this post, because I am heartbroken, and because sharing the news will make it seem very, very real. But it is real. We have lost our dearest friend and beloved girl, Virginia.

It was such a privilege to have her bright spirit in our lives for almost fourteen years.Collapse )


Happy Halloween!

The day is here, my friends! We made it! Happy Halloween, Happy Samhain, and (slightly early) Happy Día de los Muertos!

Thank you for joining me in my month-long holiday celebration. I truly hope you've enjoyed it. I have!

To those of you who have shared goodies with me through email or snailmail or other means, thank you so very much for making the holiday extra-special for me!!!

Everyone, please stop by, grab a virtual latte or cider or hot cocoa, a candied apple or some roasted pumpkin seeds, or even a goblet of blood and a plate of brains, and say hello!


Happy birthday to greenhoodloxley, and happy early birthday to ithiliana, amedia, madkestrel, crackferret, thaisa, actourdreams, tlg2009, coppervale, st_crispins, adamantrealm, sneezythesquid, bibliotrope, crazywritergirl, rymfireebooks, and darchildre. May all of you enjoy many happy returns of the day!


Now for the grand finale. What can I say? This is my favorite. I hope you enjoy "Hallowe'en in a Suburb" by H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937).

The steeples are white in the wild moonlight,
And the trees have a silver glare;
Past the chimneys high see the vampires fly,
And the harpies of upper air,
That flutter and laugh and stare.

For the village dead to the moon outspread
Never shone in the sunset's gleam,
But grew out of the deep that the dead years keep
Where the rivers of madness stream
Down the gulfs to a pit of dream.

A chill wind weaves through the rows of sheaves
In the meadows that shimmer pale,
And comes to twine where the headstones shine
And the ghouls of the churchyard wail
For harvests that fly and fail.

Not a breath of the strange grey gods of change
That tore from the past its own
Can quicken this hour, when a spectral power
Spreads sleep o'er the cosmic throne,
And looses the vast unknown.

So here again stretch the vale and plain
That moons long-forgotten saw,
And the dead leap gay in the pallid ray,
Sprung out of the tomb's black maw
To shake all the world with awe.

And all that the morn shall greet forlorn,
The ugliness and the pest
Of rows where thick rise the stones and brick,
Shall some day be with the rest,
And brood with the shades unblest.

Then wild in the dark let the lemurs bark,
And the leprous spires ascend;
For new and old alike in the fold
Of horror and death are penned,
For the hounds of Time to rend.

Halloween Countdown, Day 30

First I have links to share.
* 31 Fairly Obscure Literary Monsters from Electric Literature (Thanks to Ace!)
* Do you love the works of H.P. Lovecraft? How about metal guitar? Slip into madness once and for all, with music and otherworldly art combined. You know you want to!
* And here's another time-sensitive, worthy project: a documentary that tells the real story of the misunderstood Edgar Allan Poe and explores the iconic status he still commands today.

And now, my friends, we're almost there...

"...but the older ways and beliefs persisted. Folks still believed the dead and supernatural beings wandered on All Hallows Eve; they were still—at least for that one night—part of the living world. Rituals and traditions were adapted . . . and continue to endure and evolve.

"This—combined with other superstitions, bits of ancient and newer religions, different regional undertakings to prepare for winter and harvest, a hodgepodge of ethnic heritages, diverse cultural influences and practices, and various occult connections that seem always to be associated with the season—eventually became a celebration of otherness when scary things are acceptable, disguise is encouraged, and everyone can become anyone or anything they wish."


"The season has always offered us an opportunity to consider or confront the coldest, darkest, deepest, most primal of our fears: death. In a multitude of ways the basic meaning of Halloween and the symbols and practices that have become associated with it—pranks, pumpkins, treats, bonfires, masks and costumes, the supernatural, the fright, the fun—are ways of dealing with or even mocking that which comes to us all.

"We might have faith or theory or hopes about what comes after death—a 2013 HuffPost/YouGov poll showed forty-five percent of American adults believe in ghosts, or that the spirits of dead people can come back in certain places and situations; sixty-four percent believe there’s a life after death. But no one really knows, do they?

"Of course there’s always the chance that Halloween truly is a time when magic is possible, that forces beyond our ken are present, that the living and the dead can interact."

- from "Introduction" to Halloween: Magic, Mystery, and the Macabre (read the entire introduction here) by Paula Guran


Halloween Countdown, Day 29

Celebrating its 17th 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.

"Voices in the Air" by Thomas Lovell Beddoes

As sudden thunder
Pierces night;
As magic wonder,
Wild affright,
Rives asunder
Men's delight:
Our ghost, our corpse; and we
Rise to be.

As flies the lizard
Serpent fell;
As goblin vizard,
At the spell
Of the wizard,
Sinks to hell:
Our life, our laugh, our lay
Pass away.

As wake the morning
Trumpets bright;
As snow-drop, scorning
Winter's might,
Rises warning
Like a spright:
We buried, dead, and slain
Rise again.



Halloween Countdown, Day 28

Do you remember Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and its two sequels? They were collections of creeptastic tales collected from folktales and retold for children by Alvin Schwartz and originally illustrated by the brilliant Stephen Gammell. These books were widely challenged at public libraries around the United States and even banned at a number of school libraries. Why were they so controversial and what was their allure for a generation? Filmmakers Cody Merck and David Thomas plan to answer these questions in their forthcoming documentary Scary Stories.

Here is the trailer.

"The Slithery-Dee" (from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, 1981)

The slithery-dee,
He came out of the sea;
He ate all the others,
But he didn't eat me.

The slithery-dee,
He came out of the sea;
He ate all the others,
But he didn't eat--


Halloween Countdown, Day 27

If you're looking for brand new books to read for this Halloween season, I've just read two very recent ones that I highly recommend.

If you're interested in non-fiction, check out The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World by David Jaher, which explores a controversial contest during the height of the 1920s Spiritualism craze sponsored by Scientific American. This contest offered a large cash prize to the first medium declared authentic after passing rigorous scientific investigation conducted by its impressive committee of five judges. This has it all: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, and the woman who was at the height of her fame viewed as the most credible medium in the United States. Read my review here.

If you're interested in fiction, check out Dark Equinox and Other Tales of Lovecraftian Horror by Ann K. Schwader (ankh_hpl). This is a stunning collection of beautiful and haunting weird fiction, half standalone stories and half interconnected tales. There's no weak link in this chain; each tale is dark, rich gem in which the Outside breaks through into our world. Read my review here.

"Women's Corridor" by Sibeaster. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Now let's go to some spooky places today!

Listening to the Skeptoid podcast (which I highly recommend) reminded me of its Episode 323: "Eight Spooky Places, And Why They're Like That." Here is the Skeptoid's -- that is, Brian Dunning's -- list of spooky places.

8. Eternal Flames at Jwala Devi Temple (India)
7. New Haven's Cemetery in a Basement (United States)
6. Mapimí Silent Zone or La Zona del Silencio (Mexico)
5. Underground Tomb at Okinawa (Japan)
4. The Skeleton Lake of Roopkund (India)
3. Dead on Display at Capuchin Monastery (Sicily)
2. Skeleton Cleaning at Pomuch Cemetery (Mexico)
1. Zoroastrian Towers of Silence (India, Iran, Pakistan, and various)

For full descriptions and explanations of these eerie locales, check out the transcript of this podcast episode.


I'll add a few more to this list, if you don't mind...

* Aokigahara, or the Suicide Forest (Japan)
I think "Suicide Forest" says it all.
* The Catacombs of Paris (France)
One word: skulls.
* The Grounds and Catacombs of Kensal Green Cemetery (England)
There's something about the way the ground rolls and pitches and seems to be vomiting up the stones and coffins.
* Westminster Burial Ground and Catacombs in Baltimore (United States)
The church was built over the original burial ground to discourage graverobbing. I was fortunate to get the "special tour," which included folding myself double and shuffling in alone where the expert tour guide no longer will go, into the all-but-buried (pardon the pun) Robb family grave area. It was comforting to know Edgar Allan Poe was nearby. My photos don't do the experience justice, but they are here.

Okay, your turn. What other places are spooky, and how did they get that way?


Halloween Countdown, Day 26

"Call it Samhain, Summer's End, All Hallows' Eve, November Eve, or Witches' Night -- Halloween has its essential roots in the terrors of the primitive mind, which made no distinction between the waning of the sun and the potential extinction of the self. Ancient rituals of sacrifice and supplication were employed to guarantee a good harvest and, by extension, continued earthly existence.

"In northern climates, harvest time was, or seemed, the very death of nature. As Robert Chambers, the great Victorian chronicler of holidays, characterized October: 'As the fallen leaves career before us -- crumbling ruins of summer's beautiful halls -- we cannot help thinking of those who have perished -- who have gone before us, blown forward to the grave by the icy blasts of Death.'"

- from Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween by David J. Skal



Halloween Countdown, Day 25

For today's countdown, I invite you to a '50s-'60s Halloween Monster Party.

Don't stop with just one song. Let the playlist cycle through. You know you want to.

Haunt an old house.
Ask for a treat.
Laugh like a witch.
Lick something sweet.
Offer a trick.
Wander a maze.
Echo a boo.
Exclaim the phrase—
Normal's unnatural on Halloween!
― Richelle E. Goodrich, Making Wishes: Quotes, Thoughts, & a Little Poetry for Every Day of the Year


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