Monday, January 20, 2020

My Pug Died

I buried my soul-dog, Artemis. It feels devastating!

My 14-1/2-year-old Pug died, a week ago today. Before now, I could not even speak of it because it really feels like I buried part of my own soul. His passing seems to have sucked away all my joy.  Even now, when I think of him, I too easily burst into tears. Saying "goodbye" has been just so very painful! 

Fact is? This dog went everywhere with me. Even when over-exertion is very dangerous for Pugs, I'd take him hiking and would just get even better exercise myself because soon as he'd start breathing heavy I'd pick him up and would carry him (muscle heat causes Pugs to wheeze). Artemis was always just so glad to be with me - he would tolerate riding on my shoulder or being jostled around in my arms.

Even while Pugs are not designed to be very athletic, they do have the heart of a lion so they will push themselves to exhaustion and can suffer a medical collapse just from their desire to keep up with you. I'd heard many stories about Pugs who died from overactivity so I remained hyper-focused about his health all these years. I must admit - he's been a terrific travel companion - always willing to go wherever I did. Carrying him never felt like a burden because I still love him so much.

While Pugs don't tolerate hot weather very well, my sister Kelly bought me the above-pictured stroller for him. As a result, I pushed my dog on many beaches, and on many shopping expeditions. In this dog-stroller, my Pugilicious had shade and that meant he could go on many shopping sprees, where we could not have gone if he had been on a leash. (Note: I always carried plenty of water for my dog whenever we hit the trails or went to town).

In 2011, a soft and squishy tumor appeared on Artemis' head. It felt like it might just be a fatty tumor but when the vet removed it he said the tumor was all dark inside (suggesting cancer). The vet wanted me to run all sorts of tests then ... but when I asked "if it's cancer, what can we do for my dog?" (Radiation and chemotherapy still seem very barbaric to me and I would never put a dog through something like that.) The vet had no other treatment options, so I chose not to run the tests and instead started supplementing my Pug's food with Turmeric which is anti-cancer and has anti-inflammatory properties. NOTE: My dog lived 8 years after this surgery with zero signs of cancer. I celebrated his life every day as I always felt lucky to be his companion.

One year, around 2013, my daughter Christina was in Vegas so I drove over from L.A. and snuck my Pug into the Trump Hotel, where she and my sister Mary Jo were staying. Even while dogs are not allowed in that hotel, we brought my Pug. To get past the elevator's security system - my sister would flirt with the guard as I whisked my Pug past them to get on the elevator (I had Artemis in his stroller with a baby blanket over the top and he was silent enough wherever I took him to make it all work). The hotel was never the wiser because even after we grew tired of sneaking him outside for potty breaks, I finally just told him to "go potty" in the stone floor shower and then washed and cleaned up after him. *Now that Trump is president, this memory seems all the more hilarious to me.*
As I mentioned earlier, Pugs are not designed to tolerate a lot of heat. On one trip that I made to Palm Springs (see photo) Artemis really struggled to breathe. I had suffered from severe grass allergies in the past myself and knew for a fact that I could stop my own asthma attacks by drinking black coffee. I also know that coffee can be completely toxic to dogs ... yet when Artemis was really wheezing, and I already had him in the shade but could not otherwise get him out of the heat, I gave him just a little bit of my iced black coffee from Starbucks (I poured a little in the plastic lid). After drinking a wee bit of coffee, he immediately started breathing better. NOTE: DO NOT DO THIS TO ANY DOG WITHOUT IT BEING AN EMERGENCY AND TREAT THE COFFEE LIKE IT'S MEDICINE/not water! Coffee opens the bronchia in humans, so I imagined that's what it would do for my precious dog.

One of the most remarkable things about living with a Pug is they enjoy being dressed up and celebrated. My Artemis was no exception and he filled my heart with glee as a result of him being forever adaptable. I dressed him up for Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day. You name it! In the above photo, he became very popular wearing the "backward-walking-baby"  costume that I made for him so we could participate in the first-ever Long Beach (California, USA) Zombie-Walk. Part of me always wondered if he liked being dressed up because it would mean that people swooned over him (Pugs love attention)

Three years ago, when my Artemis grew deaf, we still needed to have a dog-alarm when someone came to the door. So we fostered a feral dog that had been running the streets in California. Yoda (on the right) was completely terrified of people, he was far too skinny to undergo neutering surgery, and the rescue staff who found him had not been able to get Yoda to even come close to them; not without them first using professional dog-catcher techniques.

Fortunately for me, Artemis made my introduction to Yoda happen and after a couple of months we adopted him. I'm so very grateful that Yoda had Artemis for these past few years to help him segway into a domestic living situation. Artemis got along with every dog we ever met because he acted somewhat aloof, greeting that dog but then giving it whatever space it wanted for itself. In Artemis' recent absence, Yoda is now an immense comfort to me, and I hope I am returning that favor to him.
This is Artemis celebrating my birthday with me back in 2013. We took the fairy to Catalina Island and explored that lovely small community together. While the Ferry crew had said I could bring my dog along when I first booked my birthday trip, once at the ferry the staff said that my dog had to ride with the luggage (so I sat with him back there).   

Before all of you think Artemis was so very spoiled that he never got a chance to be a real dog, think again!

Farewell, for now, my beloved *pet*. It won't be too many years before I join you on the other side of this veil that now separates us. When I finally pass, we can be together again <3

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Vetala, A Vampire-like Parasite That Possesses Its Victims!

Guest Post by Phillip Ernest, who wrote a Sanskrit vampire novel, called "The Vetala."

I thank Tami for offering me the opportunity to write this guest blog post on The Vetala: a novel of undying love.
Phillip Ernest, author of "The Vetala"

My vampire novel took me by surprise, like an unquiet spirit back from the dead, like a lost memory.

When I was growing up in Canada, I loved vampires in comics and films, and later, in fiction. But from the beginning, my own writing was always poetry. And in my thirties, my fascination with Sanskrit, the ancient literary language of India, drew me away from creative writing into academics. It was a wrong path for I would wander lost for many years.

In 2014, I had been living in the Indian city of Pune for eight years. As I walked home from my office job one day, I stopped at a junk paper shop to check out their used books. Among the English books, there was almost a whole shelf of novels from the new generation of vampire fiction that had developed since I had left Canada in 2004. I also saw Bram Stoker's Dracula, which I had actually never read.

The Vetala: available from the publisher 
I left that shop without buying anything but what I had seen had stuck in my mind. The vampire had come back to haunt me!

Over the following days, I found myself brooding. My academic ambitions had failed, my literary ambitions had failed, my life was going nowhere, I was a disappointment to myself and to others...

Then, I had a sudden inspiration! Maybe, from my strange perspective as a non-Indian Sanskritist living in India, I could write an Indian vampire novel that appealed to readers everywhere! Maybe I could, after all, despite so much past failure, finally achieve something!

So I went back to the shop and bought a copy of Bram Stoker's Dracula, and I began to read it in my spare moments at work. One day, after reading a few pages, the essential plot of The Vetala came to me, almost automatically, just like a possessing spirit. Yet it didn’t seem to owe anything to Stoker’s novel. It arose out of my Indian experiences and dreams, and the Sanskrit literature that had never stopped obsessing me. And as I wrote —for an hour each day before dawn—it surprised me to see how much love for India was coming out. I had almost forgotten...

The Vetala is a love story that spans many rebirths. The protagonist, a woman professor of Sanskrit at the University of Zagreb, has been translating an obscure Sanskrit manuscript on the vetala for more than twenty years. The vetala is a parasitical vampire-like being that possesses the bodies of his victims. In fact, it was a vetala that long ago killed Nada’s lover, setting her on this path of obsessive scholarly revenge.

Later, when her Indian mentor and collaborator dies in Pune, the monster suddenly reappears, emboldened and determined to seize the manuscript at last. His opposition grows increasingly desperate as Nada nears the text’s conclusion, and with the help of two fellow-scholars, she struggles to decipher its climactic secret—a secret which would allow her to exorcize the vetala at last. She would free not only the mysterious man whom he had possessed for centuries but also, perhaps, her own imprisoned and forgotten love.

The Vetala: a story of love forgotten and remembered. Nada’s, and mine.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Once-in-a-deathtime opportunity: Sleep in a coffin in Dracula's hometown!

A vampire festival in Transylvania invites you to sleep in a coffin in Dracula’s hometown: June 7-10, 2018.

Ever feel the beating heart of the Transylvanian mountains? In a Transylvania town called Sighisoara, where the medieval towers and stony lanes are fabled to lure vampires, now there's something even more bloody palatable to experience. The vampire film and art festival called Vampfest will breach the ancient walled citadel of Transylvania’s most notorious ruler, Vlad Ţepeş, better known as Vlad the Impaler.

Spend a night in vampire hell

This means YOU can go and sleep just like the undead! Spend the night in a luxury coffin, in an otherwise deserted medieval catacomb under the hilltop town just like Dracula from Bram Stoker’s novel. According to Festival Organizer Craig Hooper, sleeping in a coffin beneath the citadel guarantees quite a scary experience. “This town is so old you can feel the history seeping from the stones around you, not least the history around it’s most famous and most bloodthirsty son, Vlad Dracula, and the vampire myth that has existed in this part of the world for centuries," he said.

“The coffins will be comfortable but I think you’ve got to be brave – or at least make sure your imagination doesn’t run away with you in those dark hours – otherwise you won’t sleep at all,” Hooper said.

For those too spooked (or sane) to snooze in a coffin, the festival offers other exclusive rewards, including an after-dark ‘Banquet of Blood’ inside of Dracula’s castle at Bran. From South Wales, Craig and colleague Peter Phillips have been running Vampfest in Transylvania since 2016. According to their press release, this year's festival will be bigger, better and bloodier than ever before. They’re looking to raise £10,000 to make the already well-established festival into the most talked-about horror event of the year.

The four-day festival will include screenings of original and classic vampire films, trips to Dracula’s fortresses, live bands and lots of vampire-themed parties. It also hosts the Vampire Academic Conference, run by US university Seton Hill, where the keynote speaker will be bestselling Buffy The Vampire Slayer author Christopher Golden.

Other special guests include Bram Stoker’s direct descendant Dacre Stoker and the Buffy The Vampire Slayer actress who plays Drusilla, Juliet Landau. For more information about the festival Kelly Gumbley or or Aimee Thomas: See also

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Vampire Poetry To Make You Swoon And Feel Woozy (It's That Good)

Gotta admit I was pretty excited to learn Garrison Wells, who holds black belts in jujitsu, judo and Goju Ryu karate, was sending me his book of vampire poetry to review. *Kapow!*

With so many new writers seeking publicity these days, bloggers must often slog through typos, poorly written sentences and whatever else bleeds bloody grammar stains all over our freshly pressed white blouses. That is not the case with Garrison Wells' work, however. As a seasoned journalist, he's got skills and professional writing experience under his karate belts. His poetry is clean. It's sexually tasteful. I give his thought-provoking book five stars and I really hope you spend a buck to read it.


To you die-hard traditional vampire fans out there, you may get the chills when you realize not all of Garrison's artistry is stuck-in-the-coffin. He's not confined to the same old vampire lore that our Dracula made famous. Garrison makes up some of his own rules about whether a vampire's heart should beat slowly and whether the undead can produce offspring; sexually. In fact, children born to vampires can fly with muscular wings!

His work is new and fresh. You will love how he describes the burning daylight like a pair of handcuffs.

Because of my enthusiasm for his work, I hit Garrison up with a few overly excited questions, as follows:

Me: "Are you attracted to more in the vampire realm than just the poetry of it? What inspired you to write vampire poetry in the beginning? Do you self-identify as a vampire?

Garrison: "I don’t necessarily self-identify, but do have a passion for the vampire story. To me, vampires are sensual beings and Dracula is one of the world’s great love stories."

Author Garrison Wells has a passion for the Vampire story
Me: "How do you switch from writing various perspectives ... from the vampire to the vampire's host, to the vampire's child ... and make it seem so seamless?"

Garrison: I initially wrote just a couple vampire poems trying to see where I connect and understand why. It turned into several and then into the book. (Another one is coming) As I wrote them, I found myself needing to explore other bits of the vampire lore, and then to go beyond where history has led us, which then leaked into previously unexplored territory. I began to feel that poetry done right is a great way to tell their story because it is so poetic itself.

When I asked why he changed vampire facts from historic depictions, Garrison replied: "I didn’t want to tell the same story that has been written and filmed a thousand times. I wanted to go past the history and into today, where it seems to me that vampires could, like the rest of us, evolve. Thus, the heart, beating slowly, he comes slowly to his humanity. They are growing and so dual mating of vampires can create superior offspring, in essence, a new line of higher evolved vampires.

I challenged Garrison about a line where he describes pavement as though it cannot be stained by blood. Like a true poet, he responded: "The lack of stain on the concrete is more of a simile. He leaves no mark on this world. Blood, of course, being his mark."
Then he elaborated: "I think some of it too was that I didn’t want to portray vampires as joyless, vicious beings with no heart, which again is the slow heart thing . . . Maybe, in a sense, as I think about it, I figured that vampires, in some ways, want to be us. And we want to be them. And by making them a touch more human, we touch each other."

Garrison's is offering his vampire poetry book on Amazon for just $1. (You read that right. A single buck!)
To see MORE of his fantastic work ... go here!
Follow Garrison Wells on Facebook!
Here is a link to his newest novel! Nightgoer: The journey begins

*Happy reading!* 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Update on the William Ross Rust House

Of all the stories I've written here at Vampire Review, the William Ross Rust house research has stimulated the most consistent curiosity and feedback on an on-going basis over the years. 

As a blogger, receiving so much interest expressed about my Tacoma Haunted House tale, I feel inspired to write even more mystery house stories. That means I will have to conduct even more intuitive and tangible hard research on historic homes.

Just recently,  Tacoma author Steve Dunkelberger contacted me about the 
William Ross Rust story. He quoted my article in the newsy feature he wrote.

Here's a screen shot of Dunkelberger's feature, which was published in Southsound Talk.

You may read his article, in its entirety, here: Tacoma’s Rust Mansions – Lavish Living Followed by Rumors, by Steve Dunkelberger.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Bluetooth Uses Magick To Grow Its Business

What does the Bluetooth symbol have to do with witches?

Bluetooth sets the standard for 
wireless communications. Its 
service allows TVs, mobile
devices and desktop 
computers to
communicate wirelessly, and
device to device.
Recognize this symbol? If you ever use wireless technology you've undoubtedly seen it.

What you might not realize is the Bluetooth company logo is an ancient binding Rune. Perhaps we'll talk about binding Runes and how witches use them for working powerful magick some other time.

For now, you'll need to know that the Bluetooth binding Rune is made from two powerful Runes and both have very specific meanings; magickally. The first Rune, "Berkana," is also the Norse word for Birch tree. (See image of Berkana, below.)
Berkana is also called "Berkanan"
(Germanic), "Bjarkan" (Viking)
and "Berkano" depending on dialect 

SIDE NOTE: In Norse mythology, the Birch is associated with Goddess Frigg (Odin's wife) and Idunna, Goddess of innocence and fertility. Odin (Frigg's husband) is vital to Rune casting because he is the God who first received the Runes and gained their meanings from a great deal of self-sacrifice.

Berkana stands for "growth" and "rebirth." Knowing that, it's easy to conclude why an entrepreneur would incorporate this very positive symbol into his/her company logo! Obviously, Bluetooth wanted to induce growth and rebirth magickally and, since they're setting the standard for wireless communications today, we can deduce that their magick is working!

The second half of the binding Rune is Gebo. Gebo means "gift of the Goddess." Life teaches us that with every gift there is an obligation for reciprocity. Or to think about it another way, Gebo is all about having a "fair exchange" and about gaining a reward for sacrifice. 
Gebo means "Gift of The Goddess"

What better company logo could any business adopt besides these two ancient Runes bound together in an overlay? By putting the two runes together, Bluetooth sealed its future success with growth and reciprocity.

The plot thickens: With all the advertisements around teeth whitening these days, it's entertaining to realize Bluetooth is named after a wealthy royal who had stained teeth!  

"Bluetooth" was the nickname given to Scandanavian Warrior King Harald Gormsson, who loved eating Denmark's wild blueberries. Reportedly, they didn't have teeth whitening strips back then, so when King Harald smiled ... (*ahem*). 

Don't blame me for making that Bluetooth name connection to King Harald. I learned about it from Symbols, A Universal Language, by Joseph Piercy.

Finally, this whole Bluetooth symbol thing has me wondering: Are the blue stained king's teeth the reason why Bluetooth made it's logo blue? Does the shape of their logo look like a tooth to you?  (One can only postulate!)

If you're interested in learning the Runes, so you can incorporate the same kind of magick Bluetooth uses in all your business dealings, I recommend
 The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Runes by Sterling quite strongly. I've read many Rune books and this has got to be the absolutely best one I've found.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Most Creeptastic Movies from the 80’s

Guest article by Caroline at Culture Coverage
Web mastery by Tami Jackson

The 1980s gave us hundreds of horror movies. Forget "Top 100" lists because "Top 200" horror movie lists still lurk about. Many of the best horror I’ve seen came from the eighties and it's extremely difficult to choose the best of the scariest but this list, "Most Creeptastic Movies From The 80s" is a great start!

Fright Night (1985) 
Tom Holland wrote and directed this award-winning horror movie about 17-year-old Charlie Brewster. Brewster discovers that his neighbor, Jerry Dandrige, is a vampire but his parents refuse to believe him when he tells them about it. So Brewster turns to TV Show Host Peter Vincent for help. 

Fright Night proved popular when first released and has gained a cult following since. The cast includes Roddy McDowall, as the delightful unwitting vampire-hunter named Peter Vincent and Chris Sarandon, who steals the show as Vampire Jerry Dandrige, an amusingly affable and debonair personality (until crossed).

AVAILABILITY: Fright Night is not on many streaming services but you can buy or rent it on Amazon Prime 
or buy the full series by searching Google under the "shopping" tab. You might also find it by subscribing to a Virtual Private Network, such as Express VPN. Buy: Fright Night 1985.

Poltergeist (1982) 

Steven Spielberg wrote and produced Poltergeist; another award-winning supernatural horror. Directed by Tobe Hooper, it follows the story of the Freeling family and the peaceful community they live in. When their youngest daughter, Carol Anne, starts talking to the static on the TV late at night, her peculiarities are heightened the day after an earthquake. That's when even stranger things happen. A malevolent force abducts Carol Anne, and the Freelings battle it to save their daughter from a terrible fate.

When first released, Poltergeist was praised for its special effects. It is now considered a classic and has a cult following, thanks to the brilliant plot and frightening presentation. Even more creepy, the movie is said to be cursed! Four of its most significant cast members died within a few years of its release. As with Fright Night, it is not available on many streaming services, but it is available on Amazon, and for purchase by Google "shopping." Buy: Poltergeist 1982

The Thing (1982)
Directed by John Carpenter and written by Bill Lancaster, The Thing is an American science fiction horror movie where a parasitic alien life form can assimilate anything it touches. When the alien infiltrates an American research station in Antarctica, the team must kill it. Yet things get more complicated as it becomes more difficult to differentiate between the alien and their friends. As a result, survivors become increasingly paranoid.

Despite this movie's major box office success, critics initially gave it negative reviews. Today, however, it receives high ratings and audiences still enjoy it. The creepy, well-crafted, story is enhanced by the remarkable makeup effects. The desolate setting adds quite a grim tone. Unfortunately, it’s not available on American Netflix, but you may access it through Netflix in other countries. You can also use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), such as Buffered VPN, to watch it overseas. Buy: The Thing 1982

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
A Nightmare on Elm Street is a supernatural slasher movie written and directed by Wes Craven. The movie follows teenager Nancy Thomson and her friends as they start having nightmares in which they are hunted and killed by a disfigured man, Fred "Freddy" Krueger. Every injury inflicted in their dreams results in a physical injury when they're awake and everyone that Freddy kills in their dreams actually dies. In time, Nancy realizes that she must figure out how to stop the disfigured man before she’s murdered too.

A Nightmare on Elm Street was successful from the start and both critics and viewers loved it. Even today, it’s hailed as one of the best horror films ever made. This highly imaginative movie plays with audiences’ perceptions and crosses the boundary between dreams and reality in alarming ways. The suburban setting only adds to the terror and shows audiences that horror can happen anywhere. While not available on American Netflix, you can watch it on Netflix overseas. The DVD is available for sale in many stores and you can order a copy by mail through Google's shopping feature. Order it on YouTube for $2.99. Buy: A Nightmare On Elm Street 1984

The Shining (1980)
No list of great horror movies from the 1980s would be complete without The Shining! Stanley Kubrick produced and directed this psychological horror, which is based on Stephen King’s 1977 novel of the same name. 

About recovering alcoholic Jack Torrance - the man hires on as an off-season caretaker of an isolated hotel. When a snowstorm traps the family at the hotel, Jack loses his grip on reality and grows increasingly agitated. 

Amazingly, audiences did not receive The Shining very well; not on its initial release. Critics labeled the film as "too slow" and "not scary enough." Now, however, it’s become a classic! The change in attitude probably evolved because it’s more common for horror movies to have a slower pace today. Nowadays that gradual build-up is thought to add a hypnotic quality. 

In The Shining, the atmosphere is heavy and claustrophobic. The hotel itself is isolated. All elements add up to make The Shining delightfully disturbing. Watch this movie for FREE on YouTube. Only available on Netflix outside of the US, "The Shining" DVD can be purchased on-line and in stores. Buy: The Shining (1980)

As said above, this list is simply a small taste of what the 1980s offered in terms of creeptastic horror. Which is your favorite horror movie from the decade? (Please let us know in the comments below.)

About the author: Caroline is a blogger who focuses on entertainment and technology. She’s also an avid horror movie fan and hopes you’ll love the movies on this list as much as she does.

You may find Caroline on Twitter at: @CultureCovC.

Leave tips for her here in the comments, at Vampire Review, because she’s always on the lookout for recommendations for terrifying movies!

Here is our list on sale right now!