Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Monster Mash & Oh Yeah.. PIG BLOOD ANNIE'S BACK .. 4/27/16

<continued from last time>

Jonathon said - I moved toward the entity, or rather my soul did.  My body continued to shake violently and tear apart, but not in any observable way. Tiny breaks and ruptures ripped through every cell. Blood oozed from my pores and from under my fingernails and toenails. Yet that didn't bother me, for I wasn't in that thing, but somewhere between 'it' and the cold, dead, terrible maw of the soul eater.

First I felt no pain. Then I didn't care. I didn't know. I couldn't focus... no longer in a lost urban tunnel, but speeding through an infinite darkness toward a huge, circular mouth and an ever more sinister darkness beyond....

I heard breathing... the raspy sound of labored breathing. A long, thin 'tongue' undulated out from that mouth and snaked its way toward my spirit face. I saw huge taste buds and ulcers shimmering under a white, sticky film.... It 'kissed' me. It licked my face. I retched, but how could I retch? I had no gut, not a real gut. I was only spirit... if 'only' is the right way to say it.

Then the tongue-thing wrapped itself around my head, covering my eyes and pulled me forward.... I screamed.. But how could I scream, for I had no voice-box?

And then I cried. Aura cried too. I heard her, for I was back in my body, reunited with my flesh and the born-witch, Pig Blood Annie stood over us both, her sloppy, gross body exposed by an old, unbuttoned 'house dress.' How she cackled, as she soaked us both in swine blood that shot from her mouth like hot, steaming, projectile vomit.

Seconds later she said something in an old witch language that was unknown to me and disappeared. Just like that, she snapped out of that time and place and went somewhere else.

I helped Aura get up. We felt our way through the darkness (the Sterno lights were gone) and went into a space that was once meant to  be a restroom, where we bathed each other in the weak dribbling stream from an old, overhead, broken pipe.

Neither of us said a word.

When we were ready, she went back to her people and I sublimated, moving through the city and passing through walls, an unseen wraith, lost on the wind, till I entered the townhouse.

Edith (the witchy-woman housekeeper) saw me climb the stairs. Though not a born-witch, she knows a lot...

Pig Blood Annie was back...

What was death, or the appearance of death, to a thing like her?

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Monday, April 25, 2016

A VAMPIRE'S ORDEAL.. Jonathon Among the Tunnels... 4/25/16 ...

I saw something tonight. It was under the city. I was in the deep, never-used subway tunnels of the mole people. I had sunglasses. I had new sunglasses for Aura and Sylvia, for when they come up to the surface. Their father, the current 'mole king' doesn't want them to live hobbled lives. He wants them to come up every once in a while... to see the decorations around Christmastime, or the cherry blossoms along the drives coming into Center City. Some mole folk never come up. They see fuzzy images on little old, dusty television sets hooked up to converter boxes so they can get the 'new' sharper signals.... Picture, sitting on a pile of old quilts shoved into the end of a small, side, storage tunnel, filching a bit of current from ancient wires that are incredibly still 'live.' Contorted coat hangers and wadded up tin foil decorating the rabbit ears.... tiny little specks of light flickering out of greasy, Sterno cans. They wear old hospital gowns. Maybe four or five tied around their bodies every which way you could imagine. Aura has a smidge of style sense, so she doesn't look crazy, like her sister... strange, but not crazy. They are beautiful girls though. I used to mush up with them, but Sarah began to resent it, so I stopped. I told her vampires don't have to worry about fidelity. It's not like we have to worry about offspring. She didn't agree. You know how essentially mortal she is in her thoughts and ways. It can take decades, even centuries for those patterns to go away.

We 'patrol the territory.' There are miles and miles of tunnels down there, originally meant for a multilayered subway line, but they never used them. One layer, in a few places two, was enough. Mole folk, as many of you know, leach a living tapping a little current out of long forgotten power lines and gathering drip-drip-drips from ancient corroded pipes. They grow mushrooms in carefully tended dirt patches. Most of the floors are plain dirt. They were never finished. They raise pigeons (minus flight feathers) and rats too in little pens. By now, after generations, both meat sources are 'domesticated' and essentially 'clean.'

Everything's down there. It's another world. In winter homeless people often stumble onto entrances and find ways in, but they're not part of the 'tribe.' Most die in knife fights. They have ossuaries for the victims, piles of bones collected over I don't know how many years. I've seen them, meticulously sorted bones... skulls... femurs... pelvises... like disassembled Tinker Toys... We navigate the passages with tiny Sterno lights. Ghosts are nothing. We see ghosts all the time. Well, not 'all' the time, but often enough. Most walk passed like we're not even there. Some are from before the subways were ever built... A few died in construction accidents. But considering the safety standards of the day and working class rights, they weren't accidents. They were 'acceptable losses.'  Others moan continuously. A few crawl on all fours and never straighten up. One's just a severed head that rolls and laughs maniacally. In rare instances something will focus on us and mumble, but that's very rare.

Mole folk never address them. They're afraid of the soul catchers. That's what they call them. Some you see. Some you feel. But they're out there... not a lot. They're very rare. Maybe they trace out a territory but just aren't here that much? Edith and the Piney Folk call them Ho-Ho's. Nobody likes them. Word is they open their mouths and suck you right in,  just like the vapor in a hookah. I don't know if that's the end, or if you continue to exist somewhere else. In the Pines, they whisper about 'the gray mist,' an infinite space where souls just float eternally. Sometimes lucky ones drift together and manage to hold on to each other, but you can go a star's age and never see a thing like that. The universe, both in our world and the next, is a very mysterious place.

The thing I saw looked like the remnants of a person after they had a few meaty layers soaked off in acid. Just stood there at the end of a little passage. No ears... no eye lids... no clothes... skeletal hands... ravaged sex parts... all pearly-gray-swirls like the ghost of a lava lamp. That's what I thought it was at first, a ghost, I mean. then I felt the 'pull,' as it stared with dead eyes and 'inhaled.'

I was swept off my feet. The force was that strong. Aura screamed. (she was with me). I dropped my tiny, Sterno lamp. The weak orange light was gone.

I prayed. I cried. I dug my nails into the dirt. My ribs vibrated and trembled, as every fiber of my body flew apart.

Aura laid there, speaking in tongues and convulsing in the clammy gloom radiating out from the creature's body.

Pulled in like an unfortunate bit of matter toward the maw of a black hole.

Putting it into scientific terms make it seem less frightening....

The spirit world is a strong, unbending place...

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Friday, April 22, 2016


No video. No song. Just me, Jonathon ben Macabi. And I never realized how much I patterned my contemporary persona after a certain ( really rather 'elferino' in his own way) artist from Milwaukee till he left us.

'See you standing in the purple rain'--- Ever wonder what that means?  Well, I'm gonna tell you.... Old sky is blue. New sky is purple. Rain is cleansing. Thus a new clean start.... That's it.

Marianne and Celeste and Albion and Roland know that. How could they not? Elferinos and elferinas are even more Princerians than I am.... I saw him performs once. It was about twenty years ago, at the legendary Electric Factory, an old tire warehouse in the Callowhill district of Center City. I loved that place. They left some of the old tire bins along the back wall and show-goers would lay in them like coffins, or mummy cases. I stood right by the stage. You could do that there. It was a stand and dance kind of room. Tokers milled around toward the mummy cases. Dancers filled the middle. True fans, or maybe just those desperate to feel the starlight mobbed the stage. And the lights were low. 'Vampire lights,' I called them.

How the place throbbed with sound. We were as microbes on a giant ear drum and the mortals streaming out after it was over were deaf for at least three quarters of an hour. They thought it was magic. Waitresses in nearby coffee shops thought it was torture and more than a few contemplated scalding some of the giddy bastards with the bitter, over cooked, brew such places are famous for.

But I met Prince that night.... Oh, what a vampire he would have been, or rather what a vampire the character he played would have been. Yet that's as it should be. We all have our 'stage' face. And maybe the 'stage' face is who we really are, though we're scared to admit it. Freedom costs... Don't you know?

It was in a rather better class of coffee shop. Forget what I said a paragraph or two above. The Four Seasons Hotel, I think it was, just off the Parkway, at the entrance to the quarter where all the museums (or most of them) are. They had a real cultured clientele. Came into town to see the art and the history and the oddities. Shopped in the oh so tasteful museum gift shops offering everything from gruesome ersatz medieval relics to Andy Warhol playing cards and little tins of potpourri made from cremated saints.

Prince ordered a grilled Portobello mushroom sandwich ( a vegan, you know). His companion-bodyguards had bowls of tabouli and raspberry iced tea.

I tipped my imaginary hat and toasted him with my own goblet of raspberry iced tea. His tabouli-eaters eyed me suspiciously, but he gestured for me to join him.... So I did.... He glanced at my trim, leather bootkins. I glanced at his.... We spoke of many sundry things, from ceiling wax to long dead kings.

Did he know, shall we say, that I was paranormally inclined?... Come on... this is Prince we're talking about. He knew everything.

I suspect he still does.

So now you know what purple rain means.

Could I tell you more?.... Of course...

But he was a very private individual and as a being who 'lives' poised between two worlds I am still bound to respect certain things.

That's all.....

Now let me put on a fresh, stand-up collar, fine, white shirt, zip up my trim, leather bootkins and strike sparks on the concrete as I prowl the after midnight streets...

May the purple rain fall on you......

Jonathon ben Macabi ... a.k.a. Tomas de Macabea

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The Vampire Jonathon and The EXODUS.. The Animals - We've Gotta Get Out Of This Place (1965) slideshow ♫♥50 YE...

He sits in his room. He's in Passover Mode. This holiday really floors him. All the 'that which was old is new... Go forth and sin no more' stuff. He feels it. But you have to remember, he once spent the season with the great RASHI who was just a hair's breath shy of prophesy.  Only he's not listening to Mendelsohn's THE ELIJAH ORATORIO, his usual Passover fare. Tonight it's a song from Eric Burden and The Animals. Things from popular culture take on new meanings with him. Vampires are always creating and recreating themselves and everything around them. It's just how they are. Unlimited time does that.

Thoughts race through his mind. Jonathon ben Macabi makes plans. Tonight will be special. Tonight he will be a vessel, filled with the Spirit of The Lord. Tonight he will set people free, sending them on their own Exodus. Lives will change. Souls will change. Miracles will happen. Prince died today and Jonathon has been a disciple since the beginning. Where did you think his spiffy persona comes from? ... the trim, black leather bootkins... the snug (also black) jeans... the white shirts, wavy black hair and the tailored, leather jackets when it's cold?

Let's go crazy....

He rises, cracks the kinks out of his neck, turns off the music and leaves. Witchy-woman-housekeeper Edith jumps back (she always eavesdrops) and says - W-where you goin'?.... Out - he says and skips down the stairs.

The townhouse is quiet. Sarah is already out working with the arcane creatures at The Anti-Enchantment Bureau. It's birthing season for the Jersey Devils. Sometimes they go waa waa waa like tiny humans. Sometimes they nicker like little ponies. They're so cute. The newborn is a russet. He's a little honey. Everybody wants to hug him, but the mommy gets nervous. Adult Jersey Devils are basically human shaped, except for the horsey legs and hooves... only the hind horsey legs and hooves. Their bodies are covered in smooth, short, glossy coats, save for the necks and heads. Facial features are essentially people-style, but with slight equine tweaks... longer bone structure, large, velvety, pointy ears. The manes resemble really flattering mullets, or wider Mohawks that run all the way down to the small of the back before petering out. The tails are long and silky. Fine, kidskin-like bat wings growing out from just inside the shoulder blades stay small till puberty, at which time they quickly lengthen and expand to flight-capable size. The specimens at the bureau are not prisoners. They sign on for one to three month terms so that science can study them. After that, they return to the Jersey Pine Barrens and soar far above the trees, just skimming the moon.

We took time with our description because Jonathon wasn't doing anything really pertinent to our story. You know how he dresses? He picked up a small, velvet, drawstring sack filled with extremely high quality, brilliant cut diamonds, each weighing approximately four or five carats and worth roughly sixty five thousand dollars wholesale. Even though he's a vampire, these are not 'blood' diamonds, so don't even think it. He gets them from a very reputable dealer in Philadelphia's jewelry district in return for tiny vials of his blood (not enough to create a life-eater) that the jeweler uses to shave a few years off his wife. He slips it to her. She thinks she just has good genes. What a stupid dope.

So now he's out on the street. It's about 1:30AM. Clubs are still open. Bars are still open. People are still out and about. But he finds a rather isolated, cloudy acrylic, bus stop shelter and sits down. It can be like that. One block is all yeah, yeah, yeah and the other is like 'thar be ghosts here.' His shelter partner is a frazzled, tired thirty-ish year old, ancient people-pissed-up-diaper-changer at a nearby nursing home for about twelve dollars an hour plus all the shortbread cookies and bananas she can eat. They use them as snacks for the prisoners.... Jonathon knows all about the place. He's already 'culled' one of the owners. The other one's away celebrating and 'spring' skiing in the Canadian Rockies. He'll kill him later, if Edith's spell to get a grizzly to do it doesn't work. She says if she did it wrong, a few crazed otters might still finish the job, but who knows?

The diaper-changing woman glances over. He pretends to be reading a flier about some after hours place somebody gave him. She eyes him. Is she scared? Look, even if she is, what can she do? Her bus runs this way and she's so tired.

Then he takes out the velvet sack (she watches)... He opens it, takes out two stones and puts it back. He holds them in the palm of his left hand, leans toward her and in a low voice says --- One hundred and thirty thousand dollars for the two of them..... She goes - Oh, yeah. That's wonderful. And you're gonna let me have them for what, like a hundred dollars?..... The vampire goes --- No, I'm going to let you have them for free..... Then he moves his hand so the feeble light from a nearby streetlamp makes them sparkle.... The woman asks - They real?... He nods..... And you're gonna let me have them for free, just like that?... He nods some more.... Why? - she asks.... You know The Blues Brothers? --- he says..... She goes - Yeahhh? They dressed like Hasidic diamond merchants. Does that have something to do with this?.... The vampire says (a bit impatiently)  -- No, it does not. I'm on a mission from God. OK?.... She sighs and rolls her eyes. This is taking longer than he thought and Jonathon has a lot of diamonds to give away so he goes -- How about if I carefully put them down on this bench, along with a piece of paper containing the address of a diamond dealer who will buy them back at the stipulated price? Then I'll get up and walk away. It's up to you. Look, I'm getting up. I'm going...... You don't have to go -- she says..... Yes, I do --- goes the vampire. I need a cold iced tea. Now, goodbye, goodbye. Do what you want. I hope it changes your life..... And he leaves.... But he watches from the shadows.

Four minutes later, after her bus comes and she's gone, he glides back.

The stones weren't there....

He gave out four pairs of diamonds that night, worth five hundred and twenty thousand dollars.... Thankfully the other three deserving individuals were more receptive.

Afterwards, he bought himself two nice pairs of slim fit, designer jeans (black naturally) in an all-night-discount-designer-wear store and some coloring books for Little Bastid Annie (you'll learn about her next time). Not in the same store. He got them in the CVS.

Then he went home, watched Steve Harvey and joined Sarah in their specially fitted out bedroom-sleeping chamber.

He asked her about the Jersey Devils, but she was already snoring... not disgusting snoring... quiet, lady-vampire snoring, so he turned over and went to sleep.

Sure, vampires have dramatic, sensual, TV soap worthy nights sometimes...

But not every night. Look, what do you want?

This is real life....

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Then he went home


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Interview With A Philadelphia Vampire .. Jonathon ben Macabi commandeers the Spotlight.. 4/19/16

There will be no Crawleys tonight. I've had enough of that. Billy still likes it. Actually, Sarah does too. But I hate the spring time and I am Jonathon ben Macabi and I need my say. The nights grow short. The days grow warm and I grow restless. Life eaters revel in the cold.  Winter is best. Hot, fresh, steaming blood contrasted against the icy, frigid, damp of a January 2AM tastes so good. It's so right... The deathlike, chill of the grave... The beefy, warmth of 'el sangre calor.'  Que Bueno... Excuse me my Spanish, but it comes so natural to me.

Those new to this 'thing,' this 'blog,' may not know that I have two appellations. And just as I am known as Jonathon ben Macabi, I am also known as Tomas de Macabea. For I hail from the land of the olive tree.... a cilantro flavored realm of magic and spice.  Shhhh, while I imagine it. ( a few heartbeats pass) Ahhhh, how satisfying.

It may seem strange that a native of Al Andalus shuns the warmth, but I am not a mortal and have not been for so long that those few years seem legendary to me. I confuse true memories with dreams. Look, no kingdom is entirely just. Brutalities, even subtle ones are everywhere. But the Caliphate of Cordoba was, in my time, a special place... one of the academic, scientific and commercial capitals of the world. People travelled there for every manner of opportunity, not to mention medical treatment that was sterile and effective at a time when the Franks (Arabic term for most Europeans) salved wounds with dung.

And the music... such music... What you call 'classical Spanish guitar,' was already in existence more than one thousand years ago. Do you know that I play the oud as well as the guitar? If you do not know, the oud is to the guitar, as the viola is to the violin. Come back some night and I'll serenade you.

I love Philadelphia. It has been my home for approximately three hundred and fifty years, maybe longer. People assume I came over with The Lord Protector. They assume I made the voyage with William Penn, But I did not. When I arrived, the town that rapidly grew into the city of Philadelphia was ruled by the Swedes or the Dutch... I get them confused. But I spent most of those early years with another group. I lived with the 'Indians.' ... It is said that the term 'Indians' comes from the Spanish word, 'indios,' some say it means 'in the hands of God,' for the natives were seen as innocents in  need of 'true religion' and salvation. Perhaps it should have gone both ways? I value that time. I was 'windago' and a spirit-familiar to their shaman.... Like Moses among the Midianites, I was.

And now La Temporada de Pascua is upon us... The Passover Season. Friday is First Night. You'll have to excuse me, but I wax a bit spiritual this time of year...'the night God came to rescue me' and all that. I love transcendent experiences. I've always been that way... becoming a vampire only heightened that. Sometimes I sit in my room listening to recordings of old hymns and cantorials... They eavesdrop at the door. The others, I mean. I can listen for hours. Crying to Avenu Malkenu (Our Father, Our King) is a hobby of mine. Barbra Streisand has a version on You Tube. If anything can transport you to the foot of The Sapphire Throne, that can.

Now, please excuse me. It's 2:14AM as I write this. False dawn comes in three hours and fifteen minutes and what's left of the night calls to me. I love to walk the streets. I may bite a throat or two, but I will not kill tonight. There are rules about those things. I'll see young people playing vampire too. Certain old quarters of Philadelphia have a lot of that. The atmosphere just brings it out. I nod to them. They nod to me. We pass. That's it.

Then I nurse a mug of tea at some all night ham and egg joint and talk to the waitresses.

Perhaps I'll bite one of them too?

Oh, and lest I forget, Billy will still keep us up to date with Downton and the Crawleys once or twice a week. He thinks they actually exist.

Can you imagine that?

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Sunday, April 17, 2016


The 'Hypnotist' has many clients in cities all over the world. Bolshevik leaders in Russia use him to quiet the masses. American oligarchs pay plenty. He entices the masses and almost compels them to surrender their money in return for whatever Detroit, or Hollywood, or the financial centers of cities throughout the nation tell them they want.

He conducts seminars at 'The Golden Dawn' house. Daring individuals from all strata of British society attend. Some use the information to control a recalcitrant spouse. Others cloud the minds of carriage trade jewelers while they make off with the goods.

Bates slips in one night, in the guise of a self made, Blackpool hotelier. Sir Richard's there, but he does not remember Bates. When he frequented the abbey, in pursuit of Lady Mary, they hardly crossed paths. Valets rarely consort with guests.

They listen to the speaker. He speaks of 'gem stones,'..... well known words or images dropped into printed, or spoken material that bind the mind and compel the soul. This is the first lesson, so he starts simply. Four words... he gives them four words ---- imagine, you, can and because.... Everyone likes to think they can accomplish things. We all like to feel special.  Those four words help convey that.

Here's an example..... IMAGINE you CAN appear ten years younger, BECAUSE YOU CAN and Tender Touch moisturizing crème makes it happen..... Anybody remember ads like that? Madison Avenue does. We still see them. They're everywhere. Coupled with a 'trigger,' they're even more powerful, such as --- Look for the distinctive, pale pink, bottle. The very shade spells 'youth.'..... You heard the words. You 'see' the image... the bottle... the color... Sales soar.

Sir Richard writes it all down... Not the example in the paragraph up above, I (your narrator) gave you that. Their instructor, The Hypnotist, provided different examples native to the era, featuring laundry soaps and tooth powders.

After the lecture they broke for drinks and informal socializing. Sir Richard left early. Tabloid backstabbing is hard work, but Bates moved in closer, engaging their teacher in quiet conversation. He invited the man to a late breakfast meeting the next morning. That's when he made the offer.... one mark... one 'spell'... one death. The man nodded. He'd done it before. Nervous, self-conscious strivers, like Sir Richard were so driven... so tortured... so easy.

I don't know the price, or the agreed upon guarantee. We narrators aren't always privy to everything. But a bit later, the two new associates left the stately Georgian edifice, went down the white, marble steps and shared a cab. I snuck in too....

Come back tomorrow and I'll tell you what I heard.

Meantime, remember those magic words...IMAGINE... YOU... CAN... BECAUSE.

Slip them into your tweets and blogs. You may have come across them elsewhere on line. Hypnotists have known about them for decades.

Imagine you can bend the human mind because you can.

See what happens...

Boy, ain't John Bates something?

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Midnight balls were a regular part of The London Season. February and March were like a dress rehearsal. Oh, those assembled for the various festivities still had fun, but things didn't heat up till May, though the Third Annual British Cinema Ball was still the place to be. Lord Robert subscribed. He bought ten ducats, enough for the entire Crawley contingent, ðplus a pleasant, little 'add on' for Tom and an extra gentleman from the club for his sister, Rosamund. Edith and Bertie, recently come back from their wedding trip, came too, indeed, she planned to feature it in her magazine. Four hundred pounds for the lot. Worth two thousand American dollars at the time. In today's money that would be roughly seven or eight times as much, so figure sixteen to eighteen thousand dollars in all. The payoff to Lucas cost plenty, but upper class families had to see and be seen.

Bates came too. Robert offered him a seat with the rest of them. He refused, but did attend as a 'supporter,' which entitled him to have drinks and savories at the bar, along with all the London strivers who paid ten pounds a person for the right to say they were there.

It was a black and white ball... no other colors.... After three years 'a tradition.' German, impressionist director, Fritz Lang showed up to tout early clips of his new science fiction film, Metropolis. Alfred Hitchcock, a successful homegrown up and comer shot footage of the event. People pretended not to notice, but still managed to pass before the lens much more than absolutely necessary. Apparently none had ever heard of editing.

Those at tables dined on a fine, seafood bisque, poached salmon with dill sauce and a supremely satisfying crème brulee. The bar crowd had their savories, small plated tidbits of the selfsame salmon and miniature fruit tarts. Food writers from three papers declared the menu a triumph.

After dinner they saw Lang's clips, along with snippets from Charlie Chaplain's latest, The Gold Rush. Following that, there was dancing. Everything moved like clockwork. At 3AM they left. You can fit a lot into three hours.

Now Bates knew Sir Richard Carlisle would be there too. Part of the reason the Crawleys attended was to make it look like they had no inkling Mary's former suitor was in any way involved in that Lucas business. Mary even passed by his table with Henry and gave him a polite, little nod.

But there was a man seated with the Carlisle party... an intriguing, though somewhat loathsome sort, one Alistair Crowley. Some thought him a distant connection of the Downton Abbey crowd, but there was no proof of that. Carlisle knew him from The Hermetic Order of The Golden Dawn. An 'occult' master he was, though there were those who said his 'magic' had a more sinister bent.

Bates watched from the bar. When the films ended and the dancing started, he signaled to a distinguished, older gentleman who looked rather like the American actor, Lewis Stone... cropped, white hair... even, strong features... tall, thin build. But this man was no actor, not officially anyway. He was a hypnotist, an accomplished practitioner of the suggestive arts. He was also paid by Sir Robert and they both watched as he wandered over to where the exploitive newspaper publisher (Sir Richard) stood talking to a man from The Tattler. Five minutes later he joined the conversation. God knows what he said. Brits are far more approachable after a few drinks. Look, who isn't? But he made the connection and their nemesis was now falling under the subtle control of Europe's finest hypnotist... Not a cabaret performer, but a high end consultant, brought in to do what was arguably not that far from magic.... A woman in Prague threw herself under a tram. A man in Istanbul drowned most horribly in a huge, kitchen vat of writhing, ravenous, hagfish.... Who knows what death scene Sir Richard would play? ... But play one he would.... The role was so enticing.....

Meanwhile back at the Crawley table everyone oohed and aahed over Edith's honeymoon pictures. She carried a small, stapled 'book' of glossies in her purse. That's how chemists (pharmacists in US & Canada) prepared them. Shots of the new marquis and countess in Tuscany... in Barcelona... in the Loire Valley.. in Paris and Brussels too.... Edith looked so happy. Cora beamed.

Mary and Henry danced a bit. Tom and his date did too. Even Robert and Cora took the floor. Rosamund didn't much care for her escort, so she joined a party of friends at a nearby table while he slipped into a card game in the gentlemen's lounge.

An enjoyable evening for all....

The next night, Sir Richard 'took the needle' (heroin) for the fist time...

Eight hours later he took it again....

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Just a short interim post about a TV show idea... THE UNITED STARS OF AMERICA...title actually STARS OF AMERICA, detailing a time when a terraformed Mars (the place we read about in EL RANCHO TEXACO) a tinkered with Moon... a few asteroids and perhaps the Jovian moon, Europa have all been absorbed by What used to be THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA....

Anthem -
Oh beautiful
For spacious skies
And amber waves of grain
Oh sun kissed planets majesty
Upon the solar plain
America, America
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good
With brotherhood
As far as Man can see...

The Senate is hereditary.

Unbelievably long space 'trains' knit the worlds together. Each named for a classic train, such as The City of New Orleans... The City of Philadelphia... The City of Los Angeles.. (ok, ok, I know you get it by now...)

Citizens of each world can be identified by their height. Low gravity worlds produce taller people (on average). High gravity worlds breed shorter people.

Probes tentatively observe nearby star systems, discovering a world with a civilization roughly equal to Renaissance Europe and a humanoid, though vaguely vulpine populace.

Not all of Earth has been annexed. An equally strong China, ruled by an Emperor, controls vast swaths of Asia, Most of Australia, Siberia and parts of Africa, plus outposts on the dwarf planet Ceres in the asteroid belt and huge, man made 'hollow worlds' positioned strategically throughout the solar system..

All of this makes for a very complicated polity, indeed.

We follow three families... One on Earth (with grandparents who live on the Moon).... One on Mars and another on Europa (which is rich in fairly intelligent animal life of its own).. Each has a member who is in some way pivotal to the future of humanity....(thus the STARS OF AMERICA has another meaning)

Oh, yeah, by the way, the Imperial Chinese refer to their hollow, globular, 'metallic' worlds as 'Silver Bells,' for each can resonate with an entirely different tone.

And American military space vehicles fall into four primary classes... archangels... clippers... flatboats and Conestogas.

In the course of the show, the first of the vulpine aliens begin arriving in our solar system.... and, uh, that's it... for now... until my brain spits out some new stuff.

<more Downton Abbey new narrative next time>


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Monday, April 11, 2016

London after Midnight (1927) part 4...Are The Crawleys Planning to Kill Sir Richard Carlisle?.. 4/11/16

The house was quiet. Henry and Tom were off in the midlands talking to materials suppliers. Count Cosimo di Lorenzi was already enroute and would reach London in approximately one week. The artist's renderings were done. Their first car, the B.T. Dragon, progressed nicely. Henry could already feel his hands 'round the dark, polished, walnut wheel.

Robert and Cora slept upstairs. The room was dark, but low voices discussing an international crisis escaped from a small wireless with one, big, pale yellow eye.... Almost everyone else slumbered too. All was snug... windows and doors locked up tight.

But whispery voices broke the silence in a small, main floor, morning room right off the kitchen. Lady Mary sat in a chintz covered chair, opposite John Bates. The space was dim, lit only by the glowing embers in a small, marble fronted fireplace. She hugged an accent pillow and said - He's a mean, vindictive, evil person. You know that. This won't stop him. My God, he knows every newspaperman in London and you know how they are. People hang themselves over tabloid scandals. We got off this time, but there has to be a way to shut him up for good. If not for us, than for the next generation. Family, staff, friends... and sometimes the second two overlap, Bates you know how it is? ... We're all fair game. At least to him we are. He must have been sick at all the opportunities he had to pass up. But he signed an agreement... Had to bide his time and wait... Set it up to look like someone else did it....

And he dredged up the oldest scandal of all. Probably had a connection in The War Office. That's what I think - said Bates.

Poor Lucas - said Lady Mary..... Bates sighed in agreement and added - At least he has a life now, a good life.... But how unfair that he has a family. He's found us after all these years, yet due to God awful 'rules' he can't be a part of it. - she said.

So what would you like to happen? - asked Bates..... I'd like Sir Richard Carlisle to go away. I'd like him to disappear. - said the newspaperman's one time fiancée. I'd like him never to bother us again. Agreements mean nothing. Others can do it. Others can bear the blame. We have no signed documents with them. He just has to pull the strings. He just has to whisper in all the right ears. Apparently he knows about your relationship with Papa. I'm sure he fed 'clues' to the police when Mister Green 'died.' I'm sure of that...

Bates clenched his jaw, remembering how Anna suffered. Then he cleared his throat and whispered - I want him 'gone' too.

What do we do about it? - said Mary.

I know some people in the city. Give me a little time - said Bates...... She nodded.

Now it was an open secret that their quarry dabbled in the occult. Sir Richard often attended lectures and seminars at a certain commodious residence on Houston Street... the 'mother house' of The Hermetic Order of The Golden Dawn. Those familiar with our never ending narrative might remember when our Philadelphia night-folk family visited that place... and, by the way, that place is real. Well, lately the immoral publisher (that's what they called him there) was studying hypnotism... the arts of von Mesmer... Maybe the techniques in question might be used against him? The power of suggestion is very hard to resist....

All you have to do is 'push.'

And Bates could do that with ease.

Perhaps the bastard would leap from a rooftop, or set himself ablaze?

Hypnotism can achieve that....

So can a well planned murder.....

<more next time>


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Thursday, April 7, 2016

She Don't Wanna .. Lady Violet Turns Down a Suitor.. Downton Lives On.. 4/7/16


There were six of them there that day. It was cold and gray, but a snug fire kept them warm and Sprat made sure everyone had enough hot tea discretely 'flavoured' with fine Irish Whiskey. Even the dowager took part. Denker sat just behind her and whispered in her ear---- I think he comes for the cold roast beef.... Lady Violet stifled a giggle. No one paid attention. They were all busy writing. Each 'meeting' began with an activity. Tablets and pencils were passed around. Everyone was busy thinking or scribbling. 'Earliest Childhood Recollections'---- that was the topic. Isobel suggested it last time. She loved the salon and already had two copybooks jammed full of her careful script. A gentry couple, well known for their prize collies, the elderly sister of a neighboring viscount and one of the senior Penningtons (with publishing connections) rounded out the group. Some days there were more, but the early March cold kept many of their mature contemporaries home.

The dowager didn't mind. Every piece in her 'cottage' had a history. To be truthful, she didn't trust some of them. Certain people never learn their way around fine things, even if they grew up with them.... especially that Pennington gentleman. Denker said he was a blowhard, always going on about his 'connections in The City.' Isobel thought he was only trying to impress Lady Violet... an eager suitor of sorts. So she watched him over her tablet, as she wrote something down.

A few minutes later, when the clock chimed, they stopped.... Pencils down! - went the dowager. Now, who wants to go first?.... The man who raised collies told of being in Paris with his parents in either eighteen forty nine or eighteen fifty, just before legendary city planner, Baron Hausman tore down the old medieval quarters to make way for all the modern boulevards and parkways... He said it was like a lost world.... The sister of the viscount shared memories of a crossing to Bermuda during the American Civil War and told of coming back with carefully wrapped bolts of fine sea isle cotton...... Isobel, ever the introspective sort, told of warm, buttery bowls of porridge and a cairn terrier named Robbie. She remembered games of hi-ho-the derrio.... Most recalled a nation plunged into mourning when the prince-consort, Prince Albert, died in eighteen sixty one. The City of London pressured all property owners to paint any wrought iron fencing and trim black in remembrance, giving the capital the coordinated 'look' it has to this day.

The secretary Lady Violet hired to transcribe and polish these memories whispered that they should include more aristocratic details. Readers appreciated those things. But at least they were making progress and getting used to the task at hand. No reason to doubt that a book, or some sort of serialized publication would not be forthcoming.

Then the elder Pennington gentleman turned toward Lady Violet and said - What does our esteemed doyenne have to add?.... She thought for a moment and said - I, Mister Pennington, clearly remember missives from India detailing how a much loved aunt loaded the guns during the siege of Hyderabad during the Sepoy troubles. That's how old I am. Perhaps you did not know?.... Her suitor said - Perhaps I do not care?.... Denker let loose with a judgmental 'humph!' The others feigned interest in their notes, or the sounds of dinner preparations coming from the dining room.

Sometimes subtle hints are not enough...

<more next time>


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Monday, April 4, 2016

1920's - The Upper Classes.. It Was All Hushed Up.. More Downton Abbey 4/5/16

You see, Sir Richard and his 'silent partner,' Lord Castle-Ross kept close watch on Lucas. If they lost him, they'd lose the whole thing. What proof would they have? So they tailed him day and night. A few days back, when he stopped Lady Mary in the street, or when he did the same to Lord Robert, they knew about it. Such things only helped move the plot along. But as Carlisle and Castle-Ross were watching Lucas, Mr. Bates was watching them. Few realized the Crawley's employed one of the best 'fixers' around. Most thought he was simply a dedicated valet. Well, he was, though that was simply his cover. John Bates did his job well. No fuss. No noise.

It was easy to find a nice looking creole gentleman of indeterminate race in London, the Empire's a very big place, after all. And when he crossed the lobby of a certain respectable hotel and exited through the front door a certain dapper, business type surrendered his leather club chair and fell in behind. Ten minutes later, the real gentleman in question, Lucas, came down in the lift and exited a side door. That's how he gave them the slip and wound up at Lord Beryl's office. Bates wasn't even there when it happened, but he has people too. Look, if you want to succeed in the world, 'people' are nice to have.

So now Lucas was on a mail flight to Calais, en route to his ship. Seven days hence he'd disembark in Baltimore, spend a week or so being tutored in the fundamentals before boarding a cross country luxury train for Los Angeles. 'Hollywood' is a wonderful place, indeed...

And to say that the Carlisle / Castle-Ross plan was in disarray might be a bit of an understatement, for those in the know swore that Sir Richard Carlisle had what appeared to be a minor stroke, thus freeing his notorious, press-lord friend to gleefully ruin another prominent family. The working classes ate it up. What other revenge did they have?

Life went on at Grantham House and Lady Cora never knew a thing. Tom and Henry commissioned the team at a highly recommended 'machine' shop to draw up plans for their soon-to-be luxury motor car, the Branson-Tolbert 'Dragon.'... Of course they might only make five B.T. Dragons in all of year one and subsequent cars would be by order only, but the estate took care of day to day expenses. Any profits would be immediately plowed back into the business... a sweet deal and it just might work. Long and sleek... a 'sporty' town-car sedan, available in dark, glossy gun-metal, midnight navy blue and ebony. Next there'd be a meeting with Count Cosimo di Lorenzi for coachworks and interiors. Then the fun begins.

Up north, in 'The Abbey,' things were happening too. Lady Violet's literary salon took off. There were weekly teas (like casual dinners) and the dowager really detested the informality of it all, but such was life. Memories poured like wine and before long they had more than enough transcribed reminiscences for a year of monthly runs in some magazine or another. Her mature colleagues hinted at Lady Edith's publication, but the Dowager Countess of Grantham wasn't sure they were ready for such notoriety, though deep down, she rather liked the idea...  'The Age of Innocence' English style, but true in every way... She chuckled to herself. Denker asked if she wanted a charcoal pill and got a dirty look for her concern. What business was it to these salon types how her digestion operated? If only Denker understood such things.

Thus was February, 1926, with The Crawleys... a close call... some exciting business news and a bit of potential media fun.

Martha Levinsohn's as yet unannounced springtime visit was still two or three months in the future... a sudden regret at missing the weddings and a need to see her great-grandchildren, you know.

Once she discovered that Lady Mary was expecting, who knew how long she'd stay? At her age, she'd want to see the birth.

But by then they'd likely all be crazy...

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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Mayfair, London .. LUCAS Meets The Solicitors .. A DOWNTON ABBEY Episode.. 4/3/16

The meeting didn't take place anywhere near Grantham House. There are special firms that handle things like this and none of them are close to Mayfair or Belgravia. 'Scandal Houses' they're called... discrete suites of offices tucked away on respectable, though nondescript thoroughfares. Robert arrived first, then Bates and finally Lucas. That's how the drivers arranged it. Weakest party enters last, confronted by, shall we say, his 'betters.' Bates could have come over with Lord Robert, but best to keep all parties separate.... Attract as little attention as possible.

They waited in a small conference room. A young woman served coffee. There was a tray filled with savory, open-faced breakfast sandwiches. The ubiquitous 'tall clock' ticked in a corner.... An older gentlemen, Sir Beryl, spoke first. He said - The important thing is to stress the cordiality and sincerity of all concerned. Actual agreements will be kept to a minimum.... And the amount in question? - asked Robert. Is it 'normal' in these circumstances? What kind of life will it afford him?.... Quite a nice life, actually - said the solicitor. If he opts for The States and I think he will, he'll live very well. New York would have never worked. You have in-laws there, your wife's family and there's no way she, or any of her people can ever learn of this...... My daughter and Mrs. Bates are very close. They share everything. How should we handle that? - asked Robert..... The gentleman gestured toward Bates and responded - Well, Mr. Bates will have to sign a nondisclosure agreement.... Bates cleared his throat, nodded and whispered - Of course..... Robert mouthed - Thank you.....

Now, knowing the ways of that household, it's quite possible, a few years down the line, everybody involved will know everything anyway. But it will happen in a natural and subtle manner. Given the loyalty they all have for each other the secret will be safe... just another episode locked in the collective conscience of Downton Abbey...

Then Lucas was brought in. He was scared. He was quiet. He was torn. Robert was his only surviving parent. He wanted to salvage whatever could be salvaged. The other ones, the people who found him first, had other aims. They sought humiliation and ruin. In his heart, Lucas did not want that. In fact, it's the last thing he wanted.

Robert offered his hand. It was accepted.... Sir Beryl said - I believe all preliminary agreements have been signed. You, my boy (indicating Lucas) will be established in Los Angeles. No longer half English and half Zulu, but a wealthy Colombian, raised in European schools. There will be a property somewhere in the new, glossy, western part of town, a car and eventually a 'couple' to keep house. Sufficient funds are already on hand with Bank of America. We've used them before, a highly reliable organization. Who knows? Perhaps someday, hopefully not too far in the future, quiet 'family' visits might take place. I've seen it happen before. The important thing is to keep you away from Sir Richard Carlisle and his cabal. They'd chew you up and throw you out in a minute. Don't doubt that..... Believe me, sir, I don't - said Lucas.... Good - said Sir Beryl. Now, as far as that group is concerned, you'll disappear. You'll cease to exist. I'm told they have photographs?..... They might - whispered Lucas..... Fabrications. Photographers' tricks. Nothing more - said the solicitor. It's almost impossible to prove the genuineness of a photograph in a court of law.....

Then they made small talk. The young woman came back in, transferred the breakfast sandwiches into a warming tray, brought fresh coffee and left...

When they were done, Lord Robert slipped out through one door... After a time, Mr. Bates left by another... and a few hours later, as dusk began to fall, a well dressed, newly minted 'Colombian' gentleman, exited a third.

London keeps its secrets...

Lady Mary knew the details... but no one else did, least of all her mother, Cora.

That night they all had a fine dinner. Lady Rosamund brought friends from the literary world and a professional harpist provided Celtic airs...

If you haven't already watched the video up above, take a look at it now. Mayfair was like that in the twenties too...

A very special place to be...

<more next time>


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