Search

Allusionary Assembly

The Writing of Kerry E.B. Black

Nativity Play

Charli Mills at https://carrotranch.com challenges us to “present a performance in 99 words.” Mine is based on a true story which still makes me smile. I hope it will bring you a giggle, too.

Nativity Play

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

In the church nativity play, Matthew portrayed Shepherd Two, though preferred staying close to his best friend, Buddy, who was cast as Joseph.

The boys fidgeted.

Matthew chewed his headrail. “Who’s Baby Jesus?” Their Sunday School teacher remained sketchy on casting details.

Buddy shrugged. He stepped into the lead of the procession with the girl cast as Mary.

 Matthew took his position behind shepherd one and three sheep. As the choir sung, curiosity overtook him, and he ignored the stage blocking. He edged closer to Buddy. “Who’s Jesus?”

They leaned over the manger and giggled. “Jesus is a doll?”

manger scene

Advertisements

The Ghosts of Winter

VGS 2The Ghosts of Winter

written by Kerry E.B. Black

*First published at Halloween Forevermore

At this “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” such crooners as Andy Williams promise “scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago”. Certainly, Charles Dickens in the Victorian era put his pen to good use, writing fictions including his beloved “A Christmas Carol” peopled with ghosts and spirits, but he followed ancestral examples in so doing.

Washington Irving mentioned listening to tales of “popular superstitions and legends” in his 1819 “Sketchbook.” William Shakespeare incorporated the supernatural into his theatricals. In his “Winter’s Tale,” it is said, “…a sad tale’s best for winter; I have one of sprites and goblins…” (Winter’s tales are sometimes synonymous with ‘old wives’ tales.’) Christopher Marlow’s Barnabus in his “Jew of Malta” from 1589 said, “Now I remember those old women’s words, who in my wealth would tell me winter tales and speak of spirits and ghosts that glide by night.”

Some scholars point to telling such supernatural stories as echoes from ancient times, when rituals and rites shaped the activities of the midwinter. Ancient Celts and Northmen set fires and scared one another with their mystical adventures.

Perhaps something in the deeper and longer periods of darkness of the season inspires writers toward Gothic sensibilities and Romantic inclinations. H.P. Lovecraft wrote an account of Yule horror called “The Festival.” In 1904, “Ghost Stories of an Antiquary” was published by M.R. James. The impeccable “Turn of the Screw” by Henry James begins with a recollection at a holiday gathering. “Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You,” “A School Story,” and “Number 13” all have aspects of the festive season involved as well.

Victorian ghost storiesI’ve recently heard of Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather, with its religious recitations and occult rituals. Richard Darby edited “Ghosts for Christmas” in 1988, Peter Haining “Christmas Spirits” in 1983, and Horrified Press just released “One Hell of a Christmas” in 2014.

“There must be something ghostly in the air of Christmas, something about the close, muggy atmosphere that draws up the ghosts…” rightly said Jerome K. Jerome in his preface to “Told After Supper.”

So perhaps is behooves us to pull a chair close to the hearth, snuggle together with a hot cuppa, and nod to our ancestors with a spooky remembrance. Thus I wish you Happy holidays to all, and to all a good fright!

Mom’s Me Time

Charli Mills at https://carrotranch gave a task. In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes self-care. Here’s mine.

Mom’s Me Time

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

 Moms don’t usually get “me time,” so when the opportunity presented itself, Kaylee almost did not recognize it. Her husband and her in-laws took the kids to a matinee. Kaylee stripped the beds and threw in a load of laundry before it dawned on her. She had the house to herself. She could operate the television remote control without hearing groans. A bubble bath surrounded by scented candles could be hers. When she set the kettle on, she ignored the dishes in the sink and steeped a cup of tea and enjoyed an uninterrupted date with a long-neglected book.

bubble bath

The Bad Boys of Christmas

The Bad Boys of Christmas

written by Kerry E.B. Black

 

My daughter remains fearful of Santa Claus. Every year, she asks that the big man from the North leave the presents on the back porch instead of breaking in to sneak around the interior of our house. The Louis Armstrong tune “Is Dat You, Santa Claus?” makes me think she is not alone in this concern.

Santa is derived from St. Nicholas. This 4th century bishop possessed courage, strength, as well as supernatural powers. He freed slaves and prisoners, sympathetic to their plight after spending time incarcerated for his religious beliefs. Notably, he rescued a boy held by the Babylonian King. His fondness for children allowed him to hear the wrongs done to them. When a father felt inclined to send his dowry-less daughters to prostitution, St. Nicholas in secret and under cover of night sent bags of gold down the chimney to land in the girls’ stockings. They then possessed dowries, preserving their virtue. When walking through a market, he heard children crying out to him, but saw none. He tracked their calls to a barrel of pickling fish. Nicholas opened the lid and discovered their murdered, dismembered bodies. He kicked over the barrel and restored the children to life. Medieval iconography sometimes depicts St. Nicholas with a captured devil in chains.

After his canonization, his feast day became a celebration when the saint brought presents to reward good children and left switches or coal for the naughty. Some folk disliked the Saint’s stern stance and devised a teammate for his deliveries.

Knecht Ruprecht (translated loosely as Black Devil) in 17th century Nuremberg joined St. Nicholas. This staff-carrying, long-bearded gent handed out gingerbread, fruit, and nuts to well-behaved children, and beat the bad with bags of ashes.

Saint Nicholas and Zwarte Piet

Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) generated controversy in recent years in the Netherlands, Aruba, Belgium, Luxenbourg, and Spain. This 19th century holiday character dressed in Renaissance clothes and sometimes a blackened face. He proceeded Sinter Klaas in parades, scattering cookies and amusing children, but he also brought birch switches called “roe” or lumps of coal in his burlap sack for the poorly-behaved. In Holland today, whole fleets of multicolored Petes, including females, are part of an updated imagining of holiday icons such as this freed slave or chimney sweep who assists with gift giving.

Krampus

One theory links modern images of Santa and his entourage with the Wild Men of Woden on their thrilling hunts. Woden, or Oden Allfather, with his long, white beard battled frost giants and sent his crows Hugen and Mugen to gather intelligence from around the world, including listening on rooftops around chimneys.

However, one of St. Nicholas’ companions generates such enthusiasm that the day of celebration no longer honors Myra’s bishop. Krampus Nacht many call the 5th of December, marking the day with parades, balls, plays, and frivolity. This terrifying, dark companion glories in punishing the naughty with blows from switches and rusty chains. Krampus carries a burlap sack to abduct the particularly bad and drag them to Hell. Krampuslauf, or Krampus Run, includes elaborately costumed, terrifying demonic Krampuses running amok with their punishments. Germany, Austria, Northern Italy, Finland, France, and other parts of Europe embrace the night of alcohol-consumption and nightmare generation. Krampus’ depictions vary from a sinister, black-clad gent to a horned devil or a hairy man-beast with a monstrous tongue. I’ve found Krampus celebrations here in the United States. Tonight is Krampus Gras in New Orleans. Dallas, TX, Honolulu, HI, Phoenix, AZ, and San Francisco, CA revel with the demon tonight, too. Tomorrow finds Krampus partying in Wellsboro, PA, Denver, CO, Kingston, NY, and Los Angeles, CA. He even makes a late-month appearance on the 13th in Philadelphia, PA and Los Angeles, CA.

Other dark companions for the saint include Certa, Perchten, Schmutzli, Pelznickel, and Klaubauf.

In all, though, remember, “He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows if you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good. So you better watch out!”

*First published by Halloween Forevermore in 1994,

Thriller Still Thrilling

ThrillerThriller

written by Kerry E.B. Black

2 December, 1983. American Teens curled on their couches, nestled beneath soft blankets, filled with anticipation the night MTV aired American recording artist Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. Clocking in at 13:42 minutes, the mini-movie told a story wrapped around the song whose original title was “Starlight.”

The music video for the song from the album of the same name began with a disclaimer, lest its viewers think Mr. Jackson an occultist. “Any similarities between people living, dead, or undead are purely coincidental.” (Despite this warning, religious types criticized the performance for violence and occult influences.)

John Landis (Of “An American Werewolf in London” fame) directed. Rick Baker provided EFX, Elmer Bernstein the ‘scary music,’ and Rod Temperton wrote the story.

Ola Ray portrays Jackson’s love interest, first as a character in a 50’s style horror flick. “I’m not like other boys,” Jackson explained after she agreed to be his girl in the flick. The moon transformed him. Ola left the theater, disgusted. “It’s just a movie,” he teases with the song as they walk past a graveyard. Vincent Price “raps.” The dead arise, reminiscent of such horror classics as “Night of the Living Dead.”
Michael Jackson collaborated with Michael Peters to choreograph the distinctive, jerking dance numbers culminating with a group of zombies. MTV nominated “Thriller” for 6 MTV Video Awards. It won 3. In 2009, The Library of Congress chose “Thriller” as the first music video to add to National Film Registry.

Filmed in New York and Los Angeles, the video cost $500,000 to make, according the documentary “The Making of Thriller.” Vincent Price filmed his contribution in two takes. It earned a position on the Billboard hot 100 at its release, and “Thriller” with its disco-funk pop fusion of baseline, synthesizer, and sound effects remains one of the top 10 “Best Halloween Songs” according to Billboard and AOL Radio Blog. In 1999, it was appointed to the MTV 100 Greatest Videos.

“Thriller”
[Verse 1:]
It’s close to midnight and something evil’s lurking in the dark
Under the moonlight you see a sight that almost stops your heart
You try to scream but terror takes the sound before you make it
You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes,
You’re paralyzed

[Chorus:]
‘Cause this is thriller, thriller night
And no one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike
You know it’s thriller, thriller night
You’re fighting for your life inside a killer, thriller tonight

[Verse 2:]
You hear the door slam and realize there’s nowhere left to run
You feel the cold hand and wonder if you’ll ever see the sun
You close your eyes and hope that this is just imagination
But all the while you hear the creature creepin’up behind
You’re out of time

[Chorus:]
‘Cause this is thriller, thriller night
There ain’t no second chance against the thing with forty eyes
You know it’s thriller, thriller night
You’re fighting to survive inside a killer, thriller tonight

[Bridge:]
Night creatures call
And the dead start to walk in their masquerade
There’s no escapin’ the jaws of the alien this time (they’re open wide)
This is the end of your life

[Verse 3:]
They’re out to get you, there’s demons closing in on every side
They will possess you unless you change the number on your dial
Now is the time for you and I to cuddle close together
All thru the night I’ll save you from the terrors on the screen,
I’ll make you see

[Chorus:]
That it’s a thriller, thriller night
‘Cause I can thrill you more than any ghost would dare to try
Girl, this is thriller, thriller night
So let me hold you tight and share a killer, Diller, chiller
Thriller here tonight

[Rap – by the incomparable Vincent Price:]
Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize your neighborhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse’s shell.
The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller.

[Maniacal laugh]

Check out the THRILLER video:

Article: The Bad Boys of Christmas

<!–

–>

Krampus and Saint Nicholas art circa 1896

My daughter remains fearful of Santa Claus. Every year, she asks that the big man from the North leave the presents on the back porch instead of breaking in to sneak around the interior of our house. The Louis Armstrong tune “Is Dat You, Santa Claus?” makes me think she is not alone in this concern.

Santa is derived from St. Nicholas. This 4th century bishop possessed courage, strength, as well as supernatural powers. He freed slaves and prisoners, sympathetic to their plight after spending time incarcerated for his religious beliefs. Notably, he rescued a boy held by the Babylonian King. His fondness for children allowed him to hear the wrongs done to them. When a father felt inclined to send his dowry-less daughters to prostitution, St. Nicholas in secret and under cover of night sent bags of gold down the chimney to land in the girls’ stockings. They then possessed dowries, preserving their virtue. When walking through a market, he heard children crying out to him, but saw none. He tracked their calls to a barrel of pickling fish. Nicholas opened the lid and discovered their murdered, dismembered bodies. He kicked over the barrel and restored the children to life. Medieval iconography sometimes depicts St. Nicholas with a captured devil in chains.

After his canonization, his feast day became a celebration when the saint brought presents to reward good children and left switches or coal for the naughty. Some folk disliked the Saint’s stern stance and devised a teammate for his deliveries.

Knecht Ruprecht (translated loosely as Black Devil) in 17th century Nuremberg joined St. Nicholas. This staff-carrying, long-bearded gent handed out gingerbread, fruit, and nuts to well-behaved children, and beat the bad with bags of ashes.

Saint Nicholas and Zwarte Piet

Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) generated controversy in recent years in the Netherlands, Aruba, Belgium, Luxenbourg, and Spain. This 19th century holiday character dressed in Renaissance clothes and sometimes a blackened face. He proceeded Sinter Klaas in parades, scattering cookies and amusing children, but he also brought birch switches called “roe” or lumps of coal in his burlap sack for the poorly-behaved. In Holland today, whole fleets of multicolored Petes, including females, are part of an updated imagining of holiday icons such as this freed slave or chimney sweep who assists with gift giving.

Krampus

One theory links modern images of Santa and his entourage with the Wild Men of Woden on their thrilling hunts. Woden, or Oden Allfather, with his long, white beard battled frost giants and sent his crows Hugen and Mugen to gather intelligence from around the world, including listening on rooftops around chimneys.

However, one of St. Nicholas’ companions generates such enthusiasm that the day of celebration no longer honors Myra’s bishop. Krampus Nacht many call the 5th of December, marking the day with parades, balls, plays, and frivolity. This terrifying, dark companion glories in punishing the naughty with blows from switches and rusty chains. Krampus carries a burlap sack to abduct the particularly bad and drag them to Hell. Krampuslauf, or Krampus Run, includes elaborately costumed, terrifying demonic Krampuses running amok with their punishments. Germany, Austria, Northern Italy, Finland, France, and other parts of Europe embrace the night of alcohol-consumption and nightmare generation. Krampus’ depictions vary from a sinister, black-clad gent to a horned devil or a hairy man-beast with a monstrous tongue. I’ve found Krampus celebrations here in the United States. Tonight is Krampus Gras in New Orleans. Dallas, TX, Honolulu, HI, Phoenix, AZ, and San Francisco, CA revel with the demon tonight, too. Tomorrow finds Krampus partying in Wellsboro, PA, Denver, CO, Kingston, NY, and Los Angeles, CA. He even makes a late-month appearance on the 13th in Philadelphia, PA and Los Angeles, CA.

Other dark companions for the saint include Certa, Perchten, Schmutzli, Pelznickel, and Klaubauf.

In all, though, remember, “He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows if you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good. So you better watch out!”

Hugs

Hugs

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

The compassion of enfolding another within loving arm can heal wounds unseen. Thus our days begin with a hug, and God willing they end the same way. After a hard day at school, I greet my children with a cup of warmed cider and open arms. As they traverse the pitfalls of homework, I use cuddles as encouragement. After dinner, when they clean their plates and complete their chores, I give them a big embrace of gratitude. Soon they’ll be too grown to understand their value, so while I have them within arm’s reaching, I’ll share with them hugs.

20171125_120708

Like a Friendly Spider

In answer to Charli Mills and the good folks at https://carrotranch.com ‘s weekly 99 word challenge, I present my take on “mesh.”

Like a Friendly Spider

Written by Kerry E.B. Black

When as a child I didn’t get along with someone, my mom would say we didn’t “mesh.” An optimistic humanist, I had a hard time accepting this. I’d re-work my approach toward friendship, hoping to integrate into their lives. I’d learn a sport, watch popular films, read trending books. Still, the “mesh” eluded me.

As I grew, classmates changed to fit into intricate webs of friendship.

So I weaved a new fabric, one accepting others’ diverse contributions. Not everyone would want to be a part of my web, and that was okay. I could mesh with those who did.

spiderweb quilt-pinterest

*Image of a spider web patterned quilt from Pinterest.

New from Sacha De Black – Keepers

sacha de Black Keepers 1

I had the good fortune to receive an ARC of this YA/NA book from the author.

Follows is my Goodreads review.

Sacha de Black has created a magical mythology of balance and imbalance peopled with compelling characters in her first Eden East novel, Keepers. Young Eden faces life changes without realizing her intrinsic place in a prophesy, political intrigue, and an unspoken war. Instead of becoming a pawn, she seizes her own fate and fights for her rights, her choices, and a life she loves. I especially enjoyed the journey into the author’s creepy unbalanced world. As can be expected from a writer who’s a Sacha de Black has created a magical mythology of balance and imbalance peopled with compelling characters in her first Eden East novel, Keepers. Young Eden faces life changes without realizing her intrinsic place in a prophesy, political intrigue, and an unspoken war. Instead of becoming a pawn, she seizes her own fate and fights for her rights, her choices, and a life she loves. I especially enjoyed the journey into the author’s creepy unbalanced world. As can be expected from a writer who’s asserted the importance of the villain to a good story, there are some wonderful bad guys to encounter, and fans will look with eager anticipation for the next instalment of the series.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑