Wednesday, April 28, 2010

To hell with it.

I want a cocktail. I want this cocktail.

O Fizz Drink Recipe
3 teaspoon(s) sugar (or simple syrup)
12 fresh mint sprigs, plus extra for garnish
3 ounce(s) fresh lime juice
Ice
8 ounce(s) vodka
Cranberry juice
Champagne or sparkling wine
Fresh raspberries, for garnish

For each fizz, add 3/4 teaspoon sugar, 3 mint sprigs, and 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice to a cocktail shaker. Muddle content with a longhandled muddler or bar spoon; add ice to shaker, along with 2 ounces vodka and a splash of cranberry juice. Shake vigorously and strain into a flute. Top the glass with champagne; garnish with a few fresh raspberries and a sprig of mint.



And a footrub from highly decorative cabana boys.

Recipe from delish.com

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hey, Jason!

What about this?

Rwanda still seethed with pain, even though Valerie had killed the rapist and saved the children. Valerie twisted her lips at the memory. She’d had to use teeth and claws to kill him, and he’d tasted simply terrible. There simply wasn’t enough Listerine in the world to get rid of that aftertaste.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ick.

You know you are sick when watching Julia Child cook makes you want to throw up instead of cook.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Dracula's Secret, the next page.

It didn’t make sense. His perfect, confident posture and chiseled, patrician features marked him as the kind who should be swinging a tennis racket on some blue-blood tennis court.

Why this reaction to this man on this rainy night? What was special about him? She had sworn off men for more decades than she cared to remember. Thousands of handsome, well-built, and brave men had passed in front of her over the years.

The headlights from a bus lit him up even brighter. He spotted her. Their gazes met and locked. And she saw his true nature.

A warrior, home from the front lines, sick of violence but caught in it. That eye-searing shine was not innocence, for lines of hard-won worldly knowledge bracketed his sensually-shaped lips. Exhaustion creased the corners of those extravagantly gorgeous eyes and lived between his eyebrows. Instead of purity, he lit the night with the ferocity of his spirit.

Valerie sucked in the cold, clove-scented air.

Only the best of humanity had that shine; people dedicated to making the world better for everyone, not just themselves. She’d seen that glow in such disparate people from Mother Teresa to a pubescent boy protecting two toddler girls from a rapist in Rwanda.

This one had a Higher Calling.

Bad news.

Higher Callings meant certain failure to their vehicles. Poverty still ran rampant in Kolkata. The girls and their protector died by the rapist’s denied fury. Valerie smacked her lips at the memory. Rapists were always tasty.

Worse, those well-meaning fools always tried to suck her into their cause. Those idiots dared to claim her fight was less worthy than theirs.

No promise of sunshine was worth that risk. The steady rain cooled her arousal. Time to go.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More shoes to delight.

You know that when I'm perusing beautiful shoes like these:




Vivienne Westwood Biba shoes from Zappos.com.

Or maybe these?



Jerome C. Rousseau Aizza Glitter Pumps via Saks Fifth Avenue.

Aren't they WONDERFUL?

But in the light of harsh reality, I'm wearing something like this:




Fiztwell Terry from Zappos.com.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The first page of Dracula's Secret.

Halloween Night

Burnside Avenue

Portland, Oregon



His sun pierced her night.

Valerie Tate stopped dead at the sudden stabbing pain and clapped her gloved hands over her sensitive eyes. Blood seeped from under her eyelids in response to the too-bright aura surrounding the man across the street. Stunned, she wiped her cheeks before risking another look. Nothing broke her concentration before a mission.

Six hundred years of killing had taught her well.

Shock gave way to curiosity. Curiosity then unraveled her single-minded determination. What was he, this man innocently checking his text messages on a silver Blackberry? As her eyes cleared, she studied him with all her undead senses.

Not soap, not cologne, but his essence was the first thing that struck her. The aroma of cloves, sweet and hot, rammed up her nose like a fist, overwhelming the car exhaust and excrement odors rising from Burnside Avenue. The fiery smell transformed her anger into something far more complicated. Hunger beyond blood clenched her stomach and below. She licked her teeth, swallowed, and squinted against his aura to study his face.

The endless Northwest autumn drizzle plastered blond hair to his skull. He glanced up from his little machine, obviously aware that someone watched him. She locked her knees against a shudder when she saw his blue eyes. Not any shade of blue, but the color of icy seas under the full moon. Even covered in worn jeans and a frayed but high-end sweatshirt, his broad-shouldered body made her mouth pucker, ready to kiss. A generous bulge in his pants caught her attention, lewdly contrasting to the brightness of his innocent shine.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Back in the saddle.

Now that my brain is rested from the big blogging push of last week, I think my next topic will be some excerpts from Dracula's Secret.

But first, a gorgeous boot to brighten your day.

I LIKE:


Babs by Diba at Zappos.com

Babs by
Diba
Zappos.com - Powered by Service


Doesn't that just make you want to go dancing? :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

And now that my brain is tired...



Something outrageous.

I hereby promise to whatever publisher buys my book that I will buy these shoes and wear them to every book event for promoting Dracula's Secret.

I will be something like 6'3" in them, but what better way to grab attention that an over six-foot tall woman talking about naughty vampires?


Fendi Cinderella Runway Platform Sandals available via Saks Fifth Avenue.

Getting Cynical on Vlad Dracula.


Even the most cursory look at the secondary and tertiary sources on Vlad Dracula shows a stunning (or tedious, depending on your personality) number of resources on how bloodthirsty and cruel this particular historical figure was.

To find out where they got their information, I did what every self-respecting historian does. I checked their bibliographies for their primary sources. This is what I found.

Vlad Dracul II lived from 1431-1476.

No sources survive from Vlad himself (despite it being commonly reported that he was highly educated and literate). This includes any of his legislative acts.

No sources survive from his brothers, father, wives, other relatives, or even friends.

The only primary source that is contemporary to Vlad's life is in the Monastery of St. Gall, in Switzerland. It was written by an unknown author in 1462. The manuscript gives a number of anecdotes about Vlad (thirty-two, according to the translation I read). The translator claims that six of those thirty-two stories are confirmed by other sources, but does not name those sources.

The stories discussing Vlad's crimes against humanity were not verified by other contemporary sources.

The Russian and German documents that discuss Vlad's preference for disemboweling animals, etc., etc., etc., date from 1490 at the earliest.

The woodcut portraits of Vlad date from 1488 and 1491. The famous oil portrait comes from the second half of the 17th century. Which, I might point out, is nearly 200 years after Vlad died.

Many scholars make much of the oral transmissions of the folk tales of Romania. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any analysis of these stories by anthropologists or historians that would confirm the accuracy. Folk tales often are multipurpose stories - they could be cautionary tales or money makers to fleece the unsuspecting. I've not seen any studies done of where the folktales agree with the primary sources.

For example, contemplate the relationship people in the United States have with George Washington. The old cherry tree tale has been discredited, but how many of us still remember it and tell it?

What all this boils down to is very simple:

We don't know that much about this historical figure.


So as a result, I felt like I could play with this person, bring my own interpretation to the story of Dracula. After all, my outrageous ideas seem to fit right in with the rest. :)

I'm sure that I've missed a lot of information on the historical Dracula. I look forward to hearing from others who want to share their research with me.

The oil portrait image shamelessly www.dracula.info. Fabulous website and lots of fun.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Digging around in Primary Sources.

Now you have your sources, primary and otherwise, all laid out. Now what? What criteria do you use to select which ones you wish to consult?

For an example, I will use a famous case of really bad sources and a vicious historical hatchet job, namely, King John I of England (I know this blog is about Dracula's. This example does have relevance to Dracula. Be patient!).

The best structure for an evaluation uses the classic "who, what, when, where, and how" criteria. Here's how to apply these questions to a primary source.

Who?

Who created it? A monk? An adversary? A hagiographer? An admirer? A satirist - hey, are you taking a sarcastic book seriously? (I've done that. It's very embarrassing.) The only contemporary chronicles for King John for whom we know the authors are Gervase of Canterbury and Ralph of Coggeshall. There are scanty anonymous annals from monks from Dunstable, Worcester, and Tewkesbury, and the abbes in Margam in Glamorgan and Waverly in Surrey.

When?

When did they write it? Are they a contemporary of the person or action? Did they write it later using their memories or rumor? John of Wendover wrote his stories after 1226. Matthew Paris began plagiarizing Wendover's stories starting in 1235. King John died in October 1216. John's son, Henry, did not take the throne until September 1217. Does something about those sources look funny to you, too?

What?
What did they create? A book, artwork, or an object? What kind of condition is the item in now? What purpose did it serve? Roger of Wendover very honestly stated that his book was not a history; he wanted an effective foil for sermons against various sins.

Where?
Note that there are regional and temporal differences in climate of opinion. Also, different geographical climates preserve things better than others. So we have wonderful artifacts from dry climates like Egypt, but few from moist climates like SubSaharan Africa. Remember, books are destroyed in a particular pattern as are scrolls and pottery.

How?
Did the creator use eyewitnesses? Other accounts? Is the account littered with unsubstantiated rumor? A good question to ask is how good is the rest of the source. Roger of Wendover's "chronicle" of King John is full of stories that no-one would take seriously. He writes of a washerwoman who broke the Sabbath to work and was exsanguinated by a small black pig for punishment. He writes another story of a loaf bread that because it had been baked on Sunday, ran with blood when it was to be sliced.

"There is one, (it is eighteen pages long) about a peasant named Thurkill from the village of Twinstead in Essex, who, in 1206, was led through the realms of Purgatory by St. Julian. As Wendover tells it, the story has many realistic touches, from the man's name and place where he lived to precise details about the torture chambers of the underworld: in one, for example, stand cauldrons of inky water so bitter that if a piece of wood is thrown in the bark instantly peels off. It is a grim and lively story; but is it true? Wendover certainly seems to think it as authentic as his stories about John; and it is difficult to see on what grounds historians should reject the former while accepting the latter." Warren. P. 11


Now, what if don't have a smoking gun" like the King John example? What if you just feel uncomfortable about using that source? Many historians are nervous about basing a text on controversial "primary sources". Historians will tell you to do another search to see if you can find any sources to supplement, replace, or confirm the references you are using from these sources. The citation will have more authority if you are able to back up your point with multiple sources.


The historiography for this section is based on W.L. Warren's book, King John, published in London by Eyre & Spottiswoode c. 1961. I highly recommend it.