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Hey, Hey! That's Grandmere's Tibia You're Standing On!

Dracula cookbooks and other nonfiction, Love(craft) Fest, vampires, witches, and other Halloween stuff!

By Denise Dumars     October 27, 2000

Bite Me
While we're still in a Hallowe'en mood, I thought we'd start the nonfiction segment of our rant (what's with the royal we all of a sudden, DD?) with more seasonal material. Check out this brand new title: The Dracula Cookbook: Authentic Recipes from the Homeland of Count Dracula by Budapest-born culinary writer Marina Polvay. The cover is rather cheesy looking, showing some guy in bad fangs and black nail polish, but don't let that put you off. Polvay, who has written for Gourmet and other foodie faves, has adapted some of the highlights of the cuisine of Hungary, Romania, and other Slavic countries into American-friendly form. Hallowe'en party suggestions are included as well. I'll take the Omelet of Capon's Blood, please. Oh wait, I'm on a diet; better stick to the Voevoda Salad.

Speaking of Voevodes (i.e., royalty), Vincent Price gets the royal treatment from his daughter Victoria in Vincent PriceA Daughter's Biography, now out in trade paperback. Don't look for juicy gossip in here; it's pretty much what you'd expect from a doting daughter, but it does have lots of cool photos (Vinnie as a dimpled blond baby! Vinnie as a matinee idol!) and provides a fairly comprehensive overview of his career and life.

This isn't a brand-new title, but it's so appropriate to the season that I have to mention it: The Vampire Lectures, which came out last year from the University of Minnesota Press, is by Professor Laurence A. Rickels, who teaches a class on vampirism at UC Santa Barbara. Now folks, is this the coolest class in the world to teach or what? From the vampire in folklore to the history of vampire fiction and film, this book has it all. What's the connection between vampires and postmen, you might ask? Well, according to Rickels, the Greek god Hermes was the first postman, and he brought you the news of your own death! Talk about going postal... Next time someone complains about you reading 'that vampire crap,' wave this book and a garlic wreath at them.

Ann Moura has a new book out called Origins of Modern Witchcraft: the Evolution of a World Religion. In it she searches for the origins of modern Wicca and neo-pagan religions by looking at indigenous religions worldwide. Chapters like 'Pagan Roots Get Tangled in Europe' help explain why this is such an awesome task. This book offers the rationale behind looking at Godhead as God/Goddess through examining such divine pairings as Isis and Osiris, Shiva and Shakti, Frey and Freya, etc. An important new title connecting modern alternative religions with their ancestral beliefs and practices.

Television Uber Alles

While we're on the subject of ancestors, why do people on TV think they have the right to do any damn thing they please? Last night I dipped in (during commercials in Angel and Frasier; don't attempt to watch three TV shows simultaneously without at least an M.A. under your belt) to that stupid Fox Family (whose family? The Manson family?) show called The Scariest Places on Earth. Why? Because they were doing a segment on the Paris Catacombs. Well. They concocted a B.S. story about a Blair Witch-type disappearance in the tunnels, and the next thing I knew they were off the beaten path and crunching around on top of the bones! Ouch! That's my DNA you're stomping on down there! This cruddy show runs every night through the end of this week at 9 PM if you want to tune in and see if they've dug up any of your ancestors.

As far as new stuff in the media goes, I'm looking forward to some new specials on the Sci-Fi Channel starring Penn Jillette, the taller member of the magical duo of Penn and Teller. Go see their Vegas show, and you can get a poster signed in their own 'blood,' as I did. Penn's specials, dealing with weird science and phenomena, and will debut in early 2001.

Gauntlet Press will hold a launch party for the first mass market paperback printing of Jack Ketchum's Ladies' Night at the Chiller Con on Saturday, Oct. 28, from 5-6 PM. The con will be held at the Meadowlands Sheraton, Oct. 27-29 in E. Rutherford, NJ. Stop by and party with Dallas Mayr (AKA Jack Ketchum) in the flesh. More info: www.chillertheatre.com.

If you live in Salem, MA, and you're tired of just hanging around Laurie Cabot's witch shop all month, why not check out the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival, running through October 31. Call (800)745-4054, ext. 3214 for more info. You can get a virtual view of the Official Witch of Salem's place at www.lauriecabot.com. Salem, MA, has a huge tourist industry built on their dubious reputation; you can visit their tourist bureau at www.salem.org. Never mind that the witch trials actually took place in nearby Danvers Township. Doh!

Finally Fiction

Oh yeah, this is supposed to be a book column. I've tried to find some truly strange fiction to wind up the month of October. The strangest SF book I've heard of in awhile is Wheelers, by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen. Guess it took two guys to write this one as it has, apparently, three totally unrelated stories going on simultaneously. One concerns a 22nd century grad student; another has as its protagonist a living blimp on Jupiter; and the third is about a boy named Moses living in a future Africa. Since it mentions a country called 'Free China,' I think we can assume there's some libertarian propaganda in here, but except for that it just sounds so strange that it might be worth a look.

The tutto di tutti crossover novels is, I think, After Dark by Jayne Castle, who is really romance writer Jayne Ann Krentz. In this novel, there's a dead body at Shrimpton's House of Ancient Horrors, and Lydia Smith, a para-archeologist living in the Dead City of Old Cadence, feels compelled to solve the mystery. This novel takes place on another planet, and manages to mix SF, mystery, horror, and romance. I think we have a winner here, folks. Smith lives in the Dead City View Apartments, which must be modeled on my crib in the '70s.

Silver RavenWolf, better known for her nonfiction books on Wicca, has a new novel out. Murder at Witches' Bluff is a story of revenge centered around a hate crime committed on Halloween two hundred years ago. Don't know if Silver's as good a novelist as she is a nonfiction writer, but it's refreshing to have the witches be the good guys rather than the bad guys for a change.

If you like the harder edge of crime novels, Edna Buchanan's latest, Garden of Evil might just be for you. It concerns a female serial killer, a fictional trope that should be its own sub-genre. Dubbed the 'kiss me killer,' this chickie kills guys across the state of Florida. Wonder if it's based at all on that real-life Florida serial killer-ette? Since Buchanan is also a crime reporter, we can probably guess the answer...

I'm ashamed to say I haven't yet read any of P. N. Elrod's vampire books. Her newest one, Lady Crymsyn: A Novel of the Vampire Files follows her undead detective Jack Fleming through 1930s Chicago on yet another murder mystery. In this installment, Jack finds a dead woman bricked up in the basement of his new nightclub, Lady Crymsyn. Sounds like a place in serious need of some feng shui. I'm sure he solves the crime.

And finally, for the kiddies, get out from behind that 700 page Harry Potter book and read some vampire stories before you start making up cute compound words! Amelia Atwater-Rhodes is the hottest new author of vampire books; her novels Demon in my View and In the Forests of the Night are prominently displayed in YA book sections all over. To top it off, Amelia is still a YA herself; I don't think she's even 17 yet. Expect a review of these titles and an interview with this up-and-coming author.

One of the questions asked of me when I was on the Blair Witch Webcast was something like, 'Whaddya think of that there Necronomicon?' I don't know if this was one of my buddies pulling my leg or what, but I made it clear that the Necronomiconlike The Book of Counted Sorrows, The Revelations of Glaaki and many other secret texts mentioned by horror writerdoes not exist. The late Herman Slater, owner of the Magickal Childe bookstore in New York and some other guy made up that paperback called The Necronomicon as a lark. So there. Now go read some real books.

Farewell, Fred

I'd like to say goodbye to Fred Clarke, the publisher and editor of Cinefantastique magazine who passed away last week. Like many other journalists in the genre field, I had worked for Fred, and was shocked to hear the news of his death. Farewell, Fred: May your heart be weighed lightly against Ma'at's feather, and may Thoth the eternal scribe never even mention the typos you made in my articles. Em hotep, Fred, in peace.

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