The Raven Calls 4 Times

This poem is inspired by a perhaps lesser known poem by one of my favourite poets – the dark lord Poe himself. In his spirit I combined an homage to my favourite Poe imagery with a chant/sound that a few in the know might recognise… Let’s see if you’re one of them…

Knock-Knock, Knock-knock
Went the front door
Knock-Knock, Knock-knock
Went it some more

Ring-Ring, Ring-Ring
They’d found the damn bell
Ring-Ring, Ring-Ring
This day from hell!

Thud-Thud, Thud-Thud
As he stomped down the stairs
Thud-Thud, Thud-Thud
Eyes crusty, feet bare

Tap-Tap, Tap-Tap
Nails clicking on wood
Tap-Tap, Tap-Tap
A vision in red stood

Click-Click, Click-Click
As he undid his locks
Click-Click, Click-Click
Of which there were lots

Pat-Pat, Pat-Pat
On backs as they embraced
Pat-Pat, Pat-Pat
A handkerchief dabbed her face

Clang-Clang, Clang-Clang
Went the Grandfather he’d bought
Clang-Clang, Clang-Clang
It was earlier than he’d thought

Bang-Bang, Bang-Bang
Before a word could be said
Bang-Bang, Bang-Bang
And then he lay dead

Decisions, Decisions

“You make decisions every day. Small ones. Big ones. Whether to stop at that coffee place on the corner before punching in. Whether to wait for the light to turn or just chance it. Whether to get that third pint or call it a night. And every one of these decisions affects the course of our lives. Shifts it in the tiniest of ways in a direction unbelievably the same yet completely distinct. This is just one of those decisions Thomas. And like every one of those decisions, it’s one that needs to be made.

Sure some of your choices may seem more pertinent than others. Whether in the end Brown was better. Or should you have held out for Yale. But who’s to say that changed the trajectory of your fate any more than the decision you made between Butternut Squash Risotto or the Rib Eye the day before your 23rd birthday. Who’s to say Yale would have brought you more success? Who’s to say the Rib Eye would have meant you wouldn’t find yourself with that 33 Caliber in your hand right now.

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A Plea Against Fear

Mere hours ago a stranger walked up to me on the street and threatened to kill me.

A provocative way to start a story I know, but I’m not really in the mood to sugarcoat this. Walking along with my earphones in I was enjoying a pleasant walk from my friend’s place to the bus stop when a man in a blue hoodie approached me and began to say something. I paused my music so as to inquire what he was saying. He began to ask me if I was “That f**ker’s brother?” Unsure what he was talking about, I simply replied “No”. He then began to walk away, but no sooner had he taken a few steps ahead that he turned around and began to berate me once again. “You’re one of those c*nts that killed that guy didn’t you?” he said, “You think you’re gonna get me?!” I was speechless. I have had “encounters” before when people have made derogatory comments in my direction, but they have usually been in passing, usually by someone who has had one pint too many. But this man did not seem intoxicated, he seemed angry. He repeatedly lunged at me while repeating accusations that I was “one of those arabs that did that thing“. When I replied that I was Indian, he retorted, “You got the same f**kin brown skin don’t you, you f**kin c*nt!” At this point I slowly started backtracking as he angrily walked on. The last words he yelled at me, as he thankfully kept on in the opposite direction, were “You better watch yourself. Because I am going to slit your f**kin throat.”

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What Are The 39 Steps?

Based on the 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock (which in turn was adapted from a novel by John Buchan) The 39 Steps, playing at the Criterion Theatre, is just simply brilliant, both conceptually and in its execution.

The entire cast comprises of only 4 people playing scores of roles. It is genuinely baffling to see them move with such lightning speed and never once miss a beat. Using fast costume changes and excellent comic timing the players keep the stage in constant movement, giving the play a quick pace that is enjoyable and at the same time creates a sense of action and drama. The script is genuinely witty and it doesn’t have to stretch very far to get a laugh. The combination of comic timing and straight-faced humor had me in fits for most of the 100 minutes of run time. But even though the plot revolves around murder, espionage and mystery, that doesn’t prevent the players from breaking the fourth wall once in a while and including the audience on the joke – a technique that if used minimally and subtlety can be good for quite a few roars.

The most remarkable thing about the play (apart from the 4 player cast) is the amount they manage to do with as little as they use. There are no set changes to speak of. Each new scene is set with the use of props, which there aren’t that many of. Brilliantly, the actors themselves do the work of generating most of the “special effects” – no wind machines, just sound effects and actors flapping their jackets; no elaborate props, just four chairs and a steering wheel to simulate a car – at times it almost feels like the plays we used to put up in college, with little or no budget. The difference of course is they have an amazing way of playing along with the joke, which makes it all the more easier to appreciate the scene and laugh along.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Hitchcock references, or shall I say homages. Some are quite evident, for example when someone looks straight at you and says “Vertigo!” but others are possibly a little more subtle. Keep and eye and an ear out for them when you go see the show.

And you simply must go see it. To quote the official site “Book Now and avoid incredible disappointment” The 39 Steps

An amusing story to close with – The friend who I went to the show with got herself some ice-cream in the interval, as she always does. The only flavor they had was “Hazelnut and Caramel”, which didn’t sound too appealing to her, but she was coaxed into trying it. After trying it myself I turned to her and said, “that just tastes like Butterscotch”, to which she responded, “Oh my god you’re right. It does… Maybe they don’t have Butterscotch in England, maybe Hazelnut and Caramel IS Butterscotch”. I was so amused I just had to share this brilliant observation!

 

The Plot

“See,” he said as he pulled out a cigarette from the crumpled pack of Golden Highs and lit it. “You don’t want this to be just another suspense novel” he said, pausing for a puff, “you want people to see this guy and not hate him right off, cause then you’ve lost em.” “So how do we do that?” his friend asked, typing away furiously on his tiny notebook sized laptop. “Well,” he pondered as he rubbed his goatee, “the first one has to be an accident. Some chick in some European country while he was on vacation. He got drunk in some tavern in… Scotland. Met some dumb busty blonde who thought his accent was amusing. They sneak off to some hut in the middle of the night. Fool around. She likes it kinky. Asks him to choke her. He plays along, hesitantly at first, but soon he finds he can’t stop himself. He feels her blood pumping through his fingers, squeezing the last of her life from her body.” He paused, taking another drag. “Afterwards he feels nothing,” he continued “none of the shame or guilt he’s supposed to. In fact, the more he thinks about it, the better he feels. More in control.”

“Okay,” the typer said, rubbing his hands together and blowing on them to prevent his fingertips from numbing up, “what happens next?” “The next two are easy,” his friend replied “Two bit hookers in some back alley in the Red Light district.” “How does he do it? He has to evolve over the intermediary kills. Maybe piano wire? Or a rope?” the typer asked, reaching for the cigarette to take a drag. “No No!” the narrator protested, “I thought of that already. Too filmy. He has to use his bare hands. That way he feels every moment.” He paused suddenly, thinking about where the story went next. He pulled out a fresh cigarette, handing the stub to his mate. “The ending is gonna be important,” he said after a few minutes of puffing his fag silently. “He can’t just get caught or die in a shootout. He needs closure.” “So how do we give it to him?” his friend asked coughing from the disgusting taste of the last drag. “With a final kill. The important one.” “Who is she?” “The one that broke his heart. The one who started the entire cycle of pain and anger.”

He took a deep drag, sighing loudly as he exhaled. “She has long brown hair. Plump breasts. An ass that used to drive him crazy. He’ll take her out to dinner first. Pretend he wants to meet up and talk about old times. To catch up. This one’ll need a lot of detail, and don’t forget the eyes. The eyes are important.” “So where does she die?” his friend asked, trying to type fast enough to keep up with the narration, “What is she wearing? Do they do it?” “Don’t know yet” the narrator said as he stood up, crushing the cigarette butt under his all-stars, “I’m picking her up tonight.”