The Occult Truth
(Llewellyn)The best method to deal with vampires, according to Kostantinos, is not crosses or stakes through the heart --- but salt and incense. The reason: in this day and age, we have modern vampires who aren't into sucking, but, rather, are what he calls "Psychic Vampires." For example, if you feel drowsy, drained of energy around a particular person, you are dealing with a Psychic Vampire, or Al Gore. Or maybe both.
These PVs are divided into two separate categories: unintentional and intentional. It's easy to determine exactly which type you are dealing with by simply observing your attackers traits. Intentional Psychic Vampires typically dress in long, black, flowing capes, have dark, slick-backed hair, large, swirling, hypnotic eyes, and a set of extended fangs. The unintentional variety are more like the rest of us: they shop at Target, eat at Arby's, go to raves, and have large, swirling, hypnotic eyes, with a set of extended fangs...maybe. That's what makes it all so confusing: these vampires may look exactly like your landlord, or Rosie O'Donnell, or Jeb Bush.
Their attacks can be extremely dangerous --- especially when they are boring you to death with tales of their trip to Disneyland, and you begin to feel drowsy. These travelogues must be stopped immediately. You can claim that you have a dental appointment, "Omigod, in ten minutes," and zip out the door. Unfortunately, your dentist may be a PV as well, and while you are having a root canal, blissed out on Laughing Gas, he or she may have at you.
Kostantions instructs the reader how to stop, as well as prevent, these attacks. One suggested way is by launching to an extended description of your son's Little League Team, listing in detail the number of hits, runs, and errors since early last summer. This will put the PV into a hypnotic sleep, and at that point you can steal out the door.
In addition to the chapters on Psychic Vampires, this book also contains letters from those creepy people we see on Sally Jesse Raphael who actually believe they are real, live Vampires. In addition, there is a history of Vampire legends, and brief biographies of some of the most insatiable blood drinkers, such as Newt Gringrich and Donald Trump.--- Jasmine Worth
The Way of
From the Dawn of
Civilizations to the Eve of
The 21st Century
(Knopf)David Fromkin has undertaken to present us, in 240 pages, a complete history of the world. He's a brave man. He's at his best when the facts are few --- such as outlining the events up to 5,000 - 10,000 years ago, the coming of what is believed to be the first city:
The place is ancient Sumer, located in the alluvial plain in the south of what now is Iraq. It used to be called Mesopotamia --- "the land between the rivers," Tigris and Euphrates...
In what was known as the "Uruk period," the Sumerians built a civilization, one of the first, it is believed, with writing. The earliest work of literature --- and one of the most moving --- is the Epic of Gilgamesh, which came from that civilization.
According to Fromkin, if we were to visit Sumer back then, we would find people dressed in "shirts or jackets, skirts, and a headcloth...Men and women would both have covered themselves with cloaks. Both would have employed cosmetics, and would have applied them in front of mirrors." Beer and wine would have been available, along with fresh fruit, game birds, vegetables, and singing and dancing to the local equivalent of Snoop Doggy Dogg. There would, however, probably be no day trading --- at least on-line.
Unfortunately, when Fromkin gets into what we might call modern history, he must edit, elide, and summarize so much that the Industrial Revolution, Colonialism, the First World War, the Russian Revolution --- among others --- must be shoe-horned into a very few pages.
More irritating is the Western bias of the author. If one is going to define "civilization" as building cities, inventing writing --- or the wheel --- and making war (or music), then those of us in the west certainly have no corner on the market. Mayan civilization gets a half-paragraph. The troubles in Bosnia are mentioned, but not the Taiping Rebellion, one of the most appalling wars of the last 150 years (over 20,000,000 killed); Al Capone turns up, but not Mao T'se Tung; the Bible gets five pages, but its Hindu equivalent, the Mahabharata, gets zilch.
The author has occasional moments of wisdom: he sees the western wars of the 20th century as merely one long conflict stretching from 1914 to 1989. Unfortunately, he conjures up some rather silly parallelisms:
The American Revolution stood for the primacy of the individual; the French, of the nation broadly conceived; the Bolshevik Russian, of the industrial working class; the Italian Fascist, of the state; the Nazi German, of the master race and its one leader.
Or, in describing Eastern vs. Western faith,
The Middle Eastern faiths offered some kind of consolation or hope to people who desperately desired to live on after death. Uniquely, two of the great religions of India set out to do the opposite: to reassure people that they will not have to live forever.--- Ignacio Schwartz
With More Than
(University of North Carolina)"I have always known myself as Mildred Edna Cotton Council," says Mama Dip in the charming introduction to "A Life of Cooking." She grew up on a farm in Baldwin Township, Chatham County:
I grew up and lived in poverty most of my life without knowing it. My children, too, grew up in poverty never knowing that they were poor. Our house just leaked. No screen doors. An outdoor bathroom and little money.
They called her "Dip" because she was tall --- six feet, one inch --- "and had such long arms that I could reach way down the rain barrel to scoop up a big dipperful of water when the level was low." She learned how to cook in the style of the south called dump cooking --- "Just measure by eye and feel and taste and testing."
In 1976, a friend helped her take over a failing restaurant on Rosemary Street in Chapel Hill (home of the famous Sun Magazine), and on her first day, she spent the last of her money, $64, to buy the makings for breakfast. She made enough to buy the food for lunch, then used the proceeds from lunch for supper --- and then she was in business to stay.
We have here five sections, from "Bread and Breakfast" to "Desserts and Party Dishes." Her "Oven-Friend Green Tomatoes" taste delicious even when we just read the ingredients on the page and her "Pole Beans" are cooked --- as all string beans in the south must be cooked --- with "country side meat" (we used to call it Fatback). She doesn't cut up basil to put in her "Summer Squash with Onions" and uses garlic salt in her spinach rather than fresh minced garlic --- but then again, she still has a way of making everything taste perfect. It was called "Mama Dip's Patio Cooler:"
- 4 ounces of Southern Comfort
- 4 ounces Creme de Almond
- 2 ounces Triple Sec
- 2 ounces brandy
- 4 ounces pineapple juice
- 4 ounces orange juice
- 4 ounces sweet and sour mixer
Combine all the ingredients and pour over ice; garnish each glass with a lemon slice and a maraschino cherry, with stem.
With stem indeed!--- Lolita Lark