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That hideous heart! Five weird ways to celebrate Edgar Allan Poe's birthday

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To a greater extent than is the case with most authors, Edgar Allan Poe's life story lived up to his writing. Always infused with suspense, paranoia and creeping insanity, Poe's stories and poetry belied his troubled existence, which included marrying his thirteen-year-old cousin and meeting his demise a delirious madman, running through the streets of Baltimore wearing somebody else's clothes and screaming "Reynolds" for some reason. Fittingly, the cause of his death was never determined.

Had he lived a ridiculously long time, Poe would be 202 years old today, and given his life and work, the only way to properly celebrate his birthday is by weirding out your friends and co-workers. Here are some suggestions.

5. Creeping In Tell-Tale Heart, perhaps the most famous of Poe's stories, the narrator spends all night slowly creeping toward his neighbor, who is lying asleep in his bed, intent upon murdering him. Today, try spending a couple of hours creeping toward the guy in the cubicle next to you on your rolly chair. If he says anything, shine a penlight in his vulture eye.

4. Heart beatz Tonight, reenact Tell-Tale Heart's climactic scene. First, pry up a couple of floorboards and hide a boombox underneath with some sweet club beatz on it. Invite some friends over. While you are hanging out, use the remote of the boombox to gradually turn up the volume and, when it reaches the maximum, clutch at your face and scream, "That sound! That sound! It is the beating of this hideous remix!" Then tear up the floorboards and have a dance party.

3. Nevermore Go to your boss's office and tap at the door (if it's open, figure out a way to close it in advance). Just keep tap, tap, tapping at his chamber door if he tells you to come in until he actually has to get up from his desk and come answer it. When he does, stare at him for a minute, and then say, "Nevermore."

Alternately, you could find a place to perch and just say "Nevermore" to everyone who walks by.

2. Teamwork In the final scene of The Fall of the House of Usher, the narrator reads to his troubled friend Usher while the sounds of Usher's sister escaping from her tomb seemingly punctuate the poem he's reading. Today, round up everyone in your office for a PowerPoint presentation, securing a friend to make creaking and crashing sound effects outside the room while you present. During the pie-chart section, say, "Not hear it? Yes, I hear it, and have heard it. Long - long - long - many minutes, many hours, many days, have I heard it -- yet I dared not... Madman! Madman! I tell you that she now stands without the door!"

Then your friend walks in and you continue with your presentation.

1. The cask Invite a friend over. Get him drunk. Bury him alive in your basement.

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