ideas

Why Collecting Horror Figures Is Fun…

One of my more stranger qualities is my obsession with collecting horror memorabilia; masks; props; and figures–yes, I said figures, as in nine inch action figures of my favorite horror movie monsters, from Frankenstein’s Monster to Leatherface.

As of now I have them propped in my windowsill in numerous terrifying positions: Jason Voorhees is in the process of chopping off Candyman’s hand; Leatherface is about to smash a hammer on a Freddy Krueger head; and Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s Monster is standing dull on his sandstone podium, his green right arm hanging from a chain on his green left arm, as he looks in wonder at the stupidity of his fellow figures…I also like placing one in view of the doorway; so when people walk into my room–guess what they see:

A fifteen inch Chucky.

He is standing atop my writing desk beside a plush Slimer; and is holding a blood stained butcher knife. This is the figure most people want to throw in the garbage because of how frightened they are of him. It is why I keep him out–how often do people get a good scare anymore?

For me it is a three year collection. I know, lazy, compared to some collectors whose hobbies consume whole rooms, even houses; but I like to keep the collection small and manageable within the parameters of my cramped four foot windowsill–it will get cramped if I buy enough of these plastic guys…you betcha.

Tirelessly I have searched the counters of antique stores and the webpages of Amazon for them. One month I would pick up a figure, then another month would pass; and the following week a package from Amazon would arrive; and then come my birthday–but you get the point. They took a long time to collect. A hobby this large is not easily accomplished in a number of weeks. It takes motivation and perseverance, interest and eagerness, money and…more money.  And space; you need tons of space.

But all the same it is worth the investiture. Everyone needs a hobby; and even if you only collect pocket watches or gunpowder shavings from the Civil War you will have fun searching and eventually stacking them on your own shelf.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vampires: You Know You Want To Be One…

There is something about the way Anne Rice writes of vampires which make them seem so enticing…that you think of the fun times to be had as a night prowler skipping over rooftops and draining victims as you flutter over sea and land like a dark god.

Only I think so?

Others have likely entertained such thoughts of power and immortality–leaders like Napoleon and Hitler wanted more than anything to live eternally through their global changes.  Fascination comes with immortality. Fascination comes with vampires.

Disadvantages:

One, never seeing the sun. I love the sun and the shadows it creates.

Two, blood is your only source of energy. That means I have to give up pizza and chicken and ravioli and chocolate cake and yogurt and milk and…

Three, all life despises you. As of now I have prepared my letter of goodbyes to my family, wishing them a pleasant life without me and my silly thoughts–oh, and, sis, yes, my nails were extremely long yesterday morning–and in my pets’ beds I have placed tiny notes attached to treats so that they might garner an understanding of my absence.

Cut the last part–dogs and cats can’t read…pity. That means the copy of Clifford: The Big Red Dog I left in my dogs’ cage was never savored. Double pity.

Perhaps I should consider living as a werewolf.

Full moon anyone?

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

 

 

Why I Have This Blog

Fun Fact: This blog originally started as a summer assignment for my high school reading class. Crazy, right?  Well, what is even crazier is the love I gained for it during my summer vacation.

I had always heard of blogs as being enjoyable for both the blogger and their followers; and above all the opinions about a blog was the view that it opened up a new avenue of communication and expression for anyone. Yes, any one with access to a computer can set up a blog and cast their thoughts across the boundless Internet. The concept is inspiring when you think of it in those terms…is it not?

While I was writing the posts for my class I wondered why I kept making separate posts–these were the Miscellaneous posts–and asking myself if a blog was really my next avenue of writing. As I continued this doubt shortened and a new confidence took its place: the blog became another source of release in life.

So, Thoughts of a Southpaw became more than a summer assignment–and I have valued it since then. A blog is a good form of release.

Think daily, 

A Southpaw

New Additions to the Blog?

A Southpaw here,

In recent months I have written posts on the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and How to Read Literature Like A Professor–both of which were extremely enjoyable to talk about; as well I wrote some miscellaneous thinkings and a movie review of Last Shift.

I am coming to a close on those books and will review them.

Today I wanted to talk about what the blog will feature in the future. I am certainly going to focus on books (I do love my classics…if that’s any hint) and a few choice movies here and there. They will not be plain reviews. These books are classic for a reason, and so should be treated likewise; meaning I will discuss certain intriguing sections of the books in creative ways, such as I did for Huckleberry Finn.

But most importantly this post is about receiving input from you guys: tell me what books sound interesting; what movies sound interesting; and anything you can think of which will make this blog a delight to read. All comments will be helpful!

This blog is supported by its followers…so why not give some advice to improve it?

Think daily,

A Southpaw

A Literary Emancipation

There are strong controversial matters tied to Gender Studies and Queer Theory in the last few chapters of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn;  controversial of course at the original time of publication in 1844–years before the initial reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln.

The controversy: treating a black slave with respect and granting him freedom.

Mark Twain was by no means a closet abolitionist. Still, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is  by far the heaviest criticized novel in his literary career–some states went so far as to ban the book from their libraries because of his divergence from the then current racial views–and many have been especially critical on the matter of freeing Jim at the end of the novel, says Huck, “[w]e had Jim out of the chains in no time…and fixed him up prime…and gave him all he wanted to eat…” (Twain. 292).

The controversy begins when the villagers recapture Jim; and at first they do not want to grant him his deserved freedom, as to them the racial rules of society are to be strictly followed; and a black person should remain a slave until the end of his days. They are  eerily described while gathered in the sitting room at night “…and every one of them [with] a gun[…]” (Twain. 273). Their views start to change when the doctor tells them of Jim’s caring nature towards his friends: “I liked the nigger for that…gentlemen…a nigger like that is worth a thousand dollars–and kind treatment, too.” (Twain. 286); so they then “…softened up a little…” (Twain. 286).

Now, while in the States softening up to slaves was frowned upon, and if someone was pleasant it was a miracle, in the novel it is written as if it is a commonplace event and those who enacted his release are as much unaffected as the boy narrating the novel.

As said before Mark Twain had no deeper interest in abolitionism than what is written in the book, and so his attitude towards the topic is expressed mundanely; however it takes nothing away from the historical implications of freeing a slave twenty years before the Emancipation Proclamation–double points for Mark Twain.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Immortality

As of yet there is no Fountain of Youth, and considering the Holy Grail is more a myth than a genuine relic immortality is a far reach past sanity–or so the world likes to think.  But we are not strictly discussing the immortality of life.

Death can grant the most rewarding immortality: a legacy.

There are legacies in all aspects of life–even those that carry the spark along on a smaller scale. They float around us every day: the bronze commemorative plaque on the park bench; the statue of the town founder in the center of the local shopping outlet; the entertaining franchise of films or books or music which passes its torch along to a worthy successor. All of them are children proud of their parental origins who have passed on to them their traits of brilliance and innovation to satisfy the world further.

No matter how large or small sunlight shines upon a mark. It may be a scorch in the soil or even a footprint on the beach. And should it be a crater in the strand of time the light will shine no brighter nor dimmer, as the lightest flick to a house of cards sets it fluttering down.

Legacies are timeless artifacts of contributions to our special swirling bowling ball: the ball morphs from the paintbrush strokes that splatter upon it; moving like a whirring dynamo the ball has little time to sort out the colors, and so it absorbs them all into a single shade of gorgeous indifference.

Change is welcome on our paint ball–one need only take their brush and dip it in a can and slather a smiley face on the green ocean. Forever the smiley face will swim along the colorful coast towards the next dripping brush and the next and the next.

Legacies are not so awful when compared to immortality.

Think daily,

A Southpaw   

The Dumas Legacy

Most of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is classic for its literary and real world references and allegories; and so it is no surprise the most suspenseful section of the novel imitate works from French author Alexandre Dumas–the master of the adventure novel, whose works range from the renowned The Three Musketeers to The Count of Monte Cristo.

A string of Structuralism and Semiotics follows through Chapters 34 to 40; constantly are Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer comparing the prison escape attempts of fictional characters to their methods of springing Jim from the Phelps’ shed. Tom proposes one tactic: “…when…[Jim]wants to send any little…message to let the world know…he can write it on the bottom of a tin plate…and throw it out of the window. The Iron Mask always done that…” (Twain. 243); this of course referencing The Man in the Iron Mask (1848-50) by Alexandre Dumas; and a later reference to the Chateau d’If in The Count Of Monte Cristo (1845), “…look at one of them prisoners in…the Castle Deef, in the harbor of Marseilles, that dug himself out…” (Twain. 246).

The boys are using their fantastical minds to seek out ways to free Jim; however, the ideas they produce are generally more time consuming than a simpler form of action, pointed out by Huck as they are digging a hole with case-knives, “[t]his ain’t no thirty-seven year job, this is a thirty-year job…”(Twain. 247).  As with other children they are concerned with the undying glory and the shocked reactions gained from the captors–a classic trait of a couple of imaginative young boys hunting for recognition.

Adventures of the Dumas novels are paralleled nicely with the numerous imitating scenes–the flinging of the plate and the digging out of a hole with case-knives among others–and so contribute to the theme of young playfulness and naivety which pairs the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn next to such a book as The Three Musketeers, in which  young protagonist D’Artagnan is a naive musketeer fighting alongside his experienced partners who drag him out of constant trouble.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

The Apple Falls Far From The Tree?

Pap Finn–the abusive father of Huckleberry Finn; not abusive in the sense of beatings, but rather a mentally insulting abuse: he was dealt a bad hand in life; his son was dealt a hand of triple aces; he wants to steal those triple aces out of his son’s hands and pass him a rotten deck. The same cards for each man. The same troubles for each man.

Huck’s cards, in this case, education and reading and writing, are to Pap a bunch of “…hifalut’n foolishness…” (Twain. 21). and all his son is accomplishing is “…puttin’ on frills…” (Twain. 22). He cannot stand to see his son best him–a universal reaction of fathers to their sons as their child grows beyond their mold to experience life personally.

Sons model themselves after their fathers. They are expected to see a role model in their parent, and when these expectations fall short what else does the father do than try to change himself in the eyes of his son; so the son can in turn turn over his own leaf and go out into society a responsible man, so says Pap Finn, “I’ll learn people to bring up a boy to put on airs…and let on to be better’n…his own father…” (Twain. 21).

This situation flips in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

To the casual reader it is clear Pap Finn loathes his son’s good fortune and his carelessness towards all things homely–the uneducated backwoods lifestyle of Pap Finn. He does so because of one reason: the widow, a woman who “…put[s] in her shovel about…things[s]…ain’t none of her business.” (Twain. 21). She has taught Huck how to read and write; how to be civilized; and how to speak grammatically correct; and since these qualities were not easily afforded to Pap Finn he is bitter about his turn of the cards and so pursues a nasty path of guilting his son into giving him liquor money.

Apply the symbiotic father-eat-son relationship to the current world and the first and most prominent example is immigrant families: a son is granted an education of higher standing than his father; the father is outraged at his spread of knowledge and good fortune; and both men argue over their expanded stances on life–a moment forever repeating in history.

Such is the same between Huckleberry Finn and Pap Finn. Once the son receives education and traces the shape of his corner of the world he wants to do all he can to escape; even if that includes leaving his father a duller man, which is how it appears to the latter.

All is indicative of Structuralism and Semiotics.

Think daily,

A Southpaw 

 

 

 

Familiarity In A Woman’s World

Intertwining the backwoods war of the Grangerfords and the Sheperdsons is the  tale of a young woman poet and painter taken abruptly from her craft forever; she was Emmeline Grangerford and painted and sketched morose images of laboring women surrounded wholly by death–this is indicative of Gender Studies and Queer Theory.

This is how one of Emmeline’s paintings is described, “…a woman in a small dress…[and]…a large black scoop-shovel bonnet with a black veil…[and]…leaning pensive on a tombstone…under a weeping willow…” (Twain. 104). The present darkness parallels that of any painting by Goya–the grim atmosphere and the use of darker shades to convey hopelessness–and in paralleling Goya her painting is received with familiarity in technique by the reader.

In the early 1900s there was hardly familiarity in a woman’s world.

If a woman wished to be an artist she must then have published under a pseudonym, that, or found a company willing to cross a boundary in accepting her work. Notable exceptions are Mary Shelley and Virginia Woolf, among others; and of the two Shelley is renowned for the novel Frankenstein (1818) and its Gothic themes of death and rebirth, which were ideas still in foundation when she wrote the novel, and which many believed a woman to hardly be credited for.

Much neither changed nor improved up into the age of Emmeline Grangerford; and it is in this section that the reader must imagine the future of her works had she lived to publish them. Though they are connected aesthetically to works of Goya there is little in the book to suggest she had had much success in establishing her own artistic identity: “…[she] made poetry…when she was alive, and it didn’t seem right…there warn’t nobody to make some about her…” (Twain. 106).

Poor luck was unfortunately a taboo on women of the time. The closest they came to actual benefiting labor was in the household and, specifically, the kitchen; not until the beginnings of World War I in 1917 did they acquire a societal role.

Emmeline Grangerford is described as a prodigy, one that may have seen success later in her lifetime: “If [she] could make poetry like that before she was fourteen…ain’t no telling what she could a done by-and-by.” (Twain. 106). She is also symbolizes the struggling woman in the predominately male century of the 1900s.

Think  daily, 

A Southpaw  

A Modernized Romeo and Juliet

In the sections prior to the meeting with the Duke and the Dauphin, specifically the conflict of Chapters 18 and 19, the story is taken to a backwoods war zone–the first family being the Grangerfords, and the second the Shepardsons; and who is stuck in the middle but poor Huckleberry Finn, who of course lands with the Grangerfords.

To start off there is a hint of the critical theory Structuralism and Semiotics in these chapters; it should be an obvious one–simply put, the American Civil War, which occurred several years before Mark Twain published his novel, but is nonetheless referenced covertly; as well a certain romantic tragedy penned by William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.

The Grangerfords and the Sheperdsons are two feudal families killing off each member of the opposite clan, described by the Grangerford boy, Buck, as a feud, describing it to Huck–“…a feud is this way …man has a quarrel with another man, and kills him;…[the] other man’s brother kills him…and by-and-by everybody’s killed off…there ain’t no more feud…”(Twain. 110).  In the case of allegorical references this feud in the backwoods reflects the durational nature of the Civil War between the North and the South; then there is also the secretive romance to consider.

Love springs between two members of either family–Sophia Grangerford and Harney Sheperdson–in a manner that is kept under wraps until Huck delivers a secret note to Miss Sophia; one can notice a similar approach to the taboo romance in Romeo and Juliet, as either family comes from separate lifestyles and are judgmental of outsiders to their customs. Countering the ending of the play, however, in the novel the lovers live through their escape; and a bewildered Huck is informed by a black servant of their travels: “…run off to git married to dat young Harney Sheperdson…so dey spec’.”( Twain. 116).

As far the reader is concerned the lovers break free of their authoritarian families, which is as well the summation of Romeo and Juliet, seeing as how those lovers escape from the strictness of the living world into the realm of the peaceful dead.

To touch lastly on the feudal relationship between the families, much can be said about its parallel patterning to the Civil War–the warring families are silhouettes of the armies of the North and the South, and Colonel Grangerford is an imitation of President Lincoln, seen by his description: “[He]…was very tall and slim…and…had the thinnest kind of lips[;]…his forehead was high…” (Twain. 108). Obviously the Grangerfords represent the North; the Sheperdsons the South.

Think daily, 

A Southpaw