2016: Ben

Gyazo, Easy Screen Capture

Gyazo is a program that allows you to capture any image on your screen, regardless of what program you are using. The sleek design of the program allows it to use very little of your computers memory.

When you open Gyazo, it has no menus or popups. Your cursor simply changes to a crosshair, you select your field of view, and release. When this is complete the image is automatically uploaded to Gyazo’s servers, and a new tab opens with the link and image. With this, you can either copy/paste the link to send to a friend, or save the image to your computer for future use.

gyazo screen cap

To install Gyazo, simply go to https://gyazo.com/ and follow the instalation directions. The whole process should take about 3-5 minutes.

An Old Man’s Scars

Residing in a small, dreary house was a solitary man. He was not a happy man, withered as was his frame, gnarled were his knuckles, and sallow of face. All of this was not from physical labour, rather, he was just old. He wore a tattered coat, and his pants were as worn as his face.

 

He lived in a humble house, with all the effects of an eternal bachelor. You see, this man had lived all of his many years without love, because he was a sour man; never caring much for the company of others. This small house, with a small lawn and a red roof, was the same house that had always been his home. It’s rooms were cramped, and their contents cluttered, the only care they had ever seen were when they were first built.

 

It was in one of those rooms, that the old man sat, staring out the window and brooding; just as he had done every day for as long as he could remember. Gray smoke rose in a billowing spiral towards the stained-yellow ceiling, as the old man tutted and puckered on his long tobacco pipe. Staring out his slatted windows, sitting in a well-worn leather chair, and smoking his pipe; this was the closest he ever got to being content, or even happy.

 

You could tell by looking at the man, seeing the vacant look in his eye, that he was far off in the realm of his memories. The lines in his face reflecting his past, distant, yet close at hand. His memories saddened, fuelled by an unhappy childhood and unloving parents.

 

On his walls, there were pictures; the edges of which were covered in decades of dust. Pictures of a soldier, barely recognisable as the man in the chair, smoking his pipe. In the corner of the picture, there was a small label, which read: Basic Training, 1939.  This young man; more of a child really, could hardly be more than seventeen years of age. A man without the scars of his future self, and without the burden of the remembering what caused them.


Wallowing in his memories, he trudged on through his life, constantly in fear of the past.

The Raven: has science gone too far?

Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most well-known poets to have ever lived, and is adored by many. His works are often simple, yet there is much to be gained by analyzing his many poems. In this essay, I will explore both the literary devices and the underlying themes in his famous work named The Raven. I will also discuss whether the raven is a literal character, or just a figment of his imagination. A very good introduction, Ben.

 

Poe features much alliteration in this poem, starting from the very first line, where he writes, “as I ponder, weak and weary” giving a great emphasis on the point he is making. He also emphasizes his points by ending each stanza the same way, in the first part of the poem, every stanza ends with the statement, “… and nothing more” which later evolves into “Quoth the Raven ‘Nevermore’”; and this in itself is another device used by Poe, personifying the Raven to speak as a human does. The rhyme scheme is very important to the dark atmosphere of this work as well, where the rhyme is always the same, except for consistent changes on the first and third line of every stanza.

 

The poetic devices used compliment the meaning of the poem quite well. The Raven that is mentioned again and again, is nothing but a motif; meant to convey the concept of bad luck, as is common historically with black birds. The meaning of this could be a mention of his wife’s untimely death, for which Poe attributes to foul luck. There is an overlying theme of him pleading about this with this Raven, begging,  “tell me truly, I implore—Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”. This is also a symbol of his pain at her death, a heartbreak that is consistent throughout this work, and many others, “Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”. Nearing the end of The Raven, Poe also mentions a bit of Greek mythology with the statement about the Raven, “And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting  | On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door”. This is a reference to the story of Pallas and Athena, where Pallas is killed, but Athena is saved by divine intervention. Drawing a similarity again to his wife’s death.


After all of that, the question still remains, within the poem, is the Raven real or metaphorical? The answer to this seems to be that it is both. The Raven both is a motif of death and bad luck, but it also takes a very real presence physically in the poem. When it is mentioned that it is tapping on the window, it seems clear that there is actually a bird there, but he also used it metaphorically. As Ravens do not speak as humans do, it is purely metaphorical in that sense, but the way it is presented by Poe; it seems that it is also physically within the realm of the story, and a character that interacts with the speaker. The Raven is both dark and foreboding, and it is clear that he will love “Nevermore”PortraitofEdgarAllanPoe

English, Return of the Dahl

I have been asked more than a few times what my inspiration for my short stories are, so I have come up with an example, this here is the root of my story called ‘Royal Jelly’ …

Some years ago, as I was driving to my publisher, I was listening to the radio.  The talk show there was talking about honey, and the effect they have on people, especially on young children.  That got me thinking, ‘this could be the making of a good story, I should write something about it’. So I let my imagination run wild, imagining the effects of a substance derived from bees that could have some positive effects on people, but the side effects are somewhat of a turn-off for most . I think that this story is different from some of my others, because it addresses real-world concerns that many people have about what we are consuming, and giving to our children.

-Roald Dahl

English, a New Story

In both Parson’s Pleasure and The Way up to Heaven, Roald Dahl creates characters that try to deceive or scam everybody else involved in the story.  In Parsons Pleasure in particular, the main character’s motives are mainly monetary, but he also takes some pleasure from the negotiation process.  In The Way up to Heaven however, the main heroine is the one being deceived, and her husband is pulling the strings.

The author of these stories kept a very suspenseful atmosphere throughout, due to the fairly slow pace of both stories. The pace also enhances the anticipation of the end result of the events depicted by Roald Dahl. In both stories, but especially in The Way up to Heaven, the tension is never actually released.

Wording also plays a key role in all of Roald Dahl’s work, he tends to leave something unsaid at the end of every paragraph.  Roald Dahl’s short stories are sometimes frustrating when he leads up to saying some groundbreaking fact about the story, and then he slyly avoids mentioning any specifics about the event.  At the end of his stories there is always a cliffhanger; the one in Parson’s Pleasure is probably the best example of this, as you never really get to read about Boggis’ reaction to the farmboys’ actions.

A major part of both stories is the atmosphere of suspicion between the characters, this particularly apparent in Parson’s Pleasure, where Mr. Boggis is trying to scam three farm workers out of a ‘commode’ that is worth tens of thousands of pounds for less than 50.  These men are clearly suspicious of  Boggis, but end up selling it to him. Afterwards, instead of selling him the entire chest, they cut off just the legs.  Although you never get to hear about Boggis’ reaction to this tragedy, by implication it is clear  that he learned his lesson; You can just imagine Boggis’ reaction at the justice that has been exacted on him.

Overall, all of these short stories have have characters that are either trying to fraudulently gain something from somebody else for personal gain, or they are doing it purely for sadistic pleasure.  These stories also have both a dark and immersive tone that is unique to Roald Dahl. I have enjoyed both of these stories, and I only wish that he would properly conclude his stories sometimes.

The Landwilliam

The Landlady

Frightened_Eye_by_Bornartist08In The Landlady, Billy Weaver comes by a bed and breakfast where he meets a very peculiar landlady, who he believes, at first to be harmless. Although not stated, it is suggested that she has killed all two of her tenants that she has had in her many years of business.

I find this story quite suspenseful, mostly because all of the things in the story that could make it scary are never specifically described, but instead left to your imagination. Little touches, such as the dog near the fireplace that appeared asleep at first, but had been dead for quite awhile really added to this atmosphere. When the subject of the previous tenants came around the author never actually wrote anything about the fate of these people, but merely suggested at.

William and Mary

In the story of William and Mary, William has died of cancer, and Mary has received a letter that details William’s final wishes for the use of his body. What she finds however, will lead her to insanity. In this story William achieves a sort of afterlife, with the help of a neurosurgeon, by having his living brain completely removed from his dead body and kept alive by a robotic heart.

This story builds suspense both with the anticipation of Mary’s reaction of William’s letter, and the fate of William himself. There is a wonderful build of tension when Landy, William’s doctor, is explaining to a less than compliant William what he has planned for William’s brain. All of this finally climaxes when Mary goes to the hospital to confront Landy over her husband’s demise, where she insists on bringing his disembodied brain home to spend the rest of her years with.

Comparison (Conclusion)

Although both of these stories have some similarities in the overall tone of the story, there are some differences. The Landlady was a slightly more spooky story, William and Mary was more suspenseful because you really have no idea what the outcome will be. I find that the unpredictability in the William and Kate made it much more suspenseful than The Landlady, where almost right from the beginning you had a basic idea of what was going to happen.