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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Latest fashion with The Wizard of 'OZ'...

The Wiz's weird lion touque
The Wiz's weird lion touque

"Spiral"

fond memories of "ToonTown's Pagan Summerfest"....

Spinning Pentacle

Sometimes we only live for the here and now
Sometimes we're lonely
Sometimes we feel we need a place to be grounded
Or fly away again

I will fly away again
I will fly away again

Why are we feeling something's familiar around us?
Are we just dreaming?
Always we search for the answers but nothing is found
We'll fly away again

I will fly away again
I will fly away again

I feel rain pouring down
I wait to rot away
Live again
Here forever
The spiral never ends

Rot away
Live again
Here forever
The spiral never ends

I feel rain pouring down
I wait to rot away
Live again
Here forever
The spiral never ends

Rot away
Live again
Here forever
The spiral never ends

It never ends

I will fly away again
I will fly away again
I will fly away again
I will fly away again

*Spiral, by GODSMACK


Toontown's Pagan Summerfest
Yearly during Summer Solstice

Please contact them at

toontownspagansummerfest@gmail.com

Official Site

**Sun image from ToonTown's Pagan Summerfest (Thanks in advance, Ave!)

When all the violence and hate in the world gets me down...

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole - Over The Rainbow & What A Wonderful World

Have Bucket List, Will Travel...

Jaffa
GLOBAL INTELLIGENCE
Q: Jaffa, a Mediterranean port in Israel that is now merged with Tel Aviv, is one of the world's oldest cities, dating back to about 7500 B.C. According to tradition, what ancient mariner set sail from Jaffa?

a) Odysseus
b) Noah
c) Jonah
d) Bluebeard






A: According to tradition, Jonah set sail from Jaffa.

Trivia! Triple Play!!!

Keep Calm and Play Trivia

Q: Who is the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran?











A: Mary, the mother of Jesus. She is called Miriam in Arabic and appears frequently in the text—she even has an entire chapter named for her.
Mary (Miriam in Arabic)

Keep Calm and Play Trivia
Q: Which presidential retreat used to be called USS Shangri-La?











A: Camp David. The residence, which is located in Catoctin Mountain Park in Maryland, was christened USS Shangri-La by President Franklin Roosevelt. President Dwight Eisenhower later renamed it Camp David in honor of his grandson.
Camp David

Keep Calm and Play Trivia
Q: What celebrity wedding garnered the most Internet searches of all time?











A: According to the Guinness World Records, the 2010 wedding of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky was the most searched for celebrity wedding ever. It had more than double the amount of searches than the previous holder of the title, the 2009 wedding of Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom.
The wedding of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky

Saturday, January 30, 2016

We don't need no stinkin' blueprints...

The Nominees are...

We don't need no stinkin' blueprints...
We don't need no stinkin' blueprints...
We don't need no stinkin' blueprints...
We don't need no stinkin' blueprints...
We don't need no stinkin' blueprints...
We don't need no stinkin' blueprints...
We don't need no stinkin' blueprints...
We don't need no stinkin' blueprints...
We don't need no stinkin' blueprints...
We don't need no stinkin' blueprints...
We don't need no stinkin' blueprints...

and the winner is....

We don't need no stinkin' blueprints...


Posted on ubuntu Linux posted on ubuntu Linux

Into the Fire - Jeffery Straker (Live)

Another hit from North Star Falling, by my most talented friend, Jeffery Straker.

Click on Jeffery below, to read my post about him!
 Click here to read more about my friend Jeffery!

Great Detective Pikachu - Featuring Danny DeVito

Kubla Khan

Here is a poem I had to memorize in full for Grade 9 English (It was the ONLY poem I ever memorized and recited in class)

Kubla Khan

By Samuel Taylor Coleridge
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!

The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me
That with music loud and long
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Friday, January 29, 2016

LOOK WHO CAME HOME

WATCH THAT DOGGY DOOR

Could you imagine coming home from work to find this tiny creature napping on your couch with your dog?

Guess who came home for dinner?

It followed this beagle home, right through the doggy door. This happened in Maryland recently. The owner came home to find the visitor had madehimself right at home..

Deer and Dog
Deer and dog
This hit the 6 o'clock news big time. Isn't this adorable?

Will You Dance With Me?

Need post-its to remember to live?
READ THIS VERY SLOWLY..... IT'S PRETTY PROFOUND.

Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they haven't thought about it, don't have it on their schedule, didn't know it was coming or are too rigid to depart from their routine.

I got to thinking one day about all those women on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to cut back. From then on, I've tried to be a little more flexible.

How many women out there will eat at home because their husband didn't suggest going out to dinner until after something had been thawed? Does the word 'refrigeration' mean nothing to you?

How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in silence while you watched 'Jeopardy' on television?

I cannot count the times I called my sister and said, 'How about going to lunch in a half hour?' She would gas up and stammer, 'I can't. I have clothes on the line. My hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday, I had a late breakfast, It looks like rain.' And my personal favorite: 'It's Monday.' She died a few years ago. We never did have lunch together.

Because North Americans cram so much into their lives, we tend to schedule our headaches. We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect!

We'll go back and visit the grandparents when we get Steve toilet-trained. We'll entertain when we replace the living-room carpet... We'll go on a second honeymoon when we get two more kids out of college.

Life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter, and the list of promises to ourselves gets longer. One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of 'I'm going to,' 'I plan on,' and 'Someday, when things are settled down a bit.'

When anyone calls my 'seize the moment' friend, she is open to adventure and available for trips. She keeps an open mind on new ideas. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious. You talk with her for five minutes, and you're ready to trade your bad feet for a pair of Roller blades and skip an elevator for a bungee cord..

My lips have not touched ice cream in 10 years. I love ice cream. It's just that I might as well apply it directly to my stomach with a spatula and eliminate the digestive process The other day, I stopped the car and bought a triple-Decker. If my car had hit an iceberg on the way home, I would have died happy...

Now...go on and have a nice day. Do something you WANT to.........not something on your SHOULD DO list. If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?

Make sure you read this to the end; you will understand why I posted this.

Have you ever watched kids playing on a merry go round or listened to the rain lapping on the ground? Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight or gazed at the sun into the fading night? Do you run through each day on the fly? When you ask 'How are you?' Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed with the next hundred chores running through your head? Ever told your child, 'We'll do it tomorrow.' And in your haste, not see his sorrow? Ever lost touch? Let a good friendship die? Just call to say 'Hi?

When you worry and hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift....Thrown away...... Life is not a race. Take it slower. Hear the music before the song is
over.

'Life may not be the party we hoped for... but while we are here we might as well dance!

Old Swingers, Pete and Beulah Mae

How to Tell If a Person Is a Witch

Bedevere: Why do you think that she is a witch?
Peasant: Well, she turned me into a newt.
[Bedevere gives him a disbelieving look]
Bedevere: A newt?
[Silence]
Peasant: Well, I got better.


Wiccan Pentacle

By David Boston, eHow Editor

Most witches that we will come into contact with these days are Wiccans, people who practice Wicca. Wicca is a religion just like the more common religions that we may be aware of. Trying to tell if someone is a witch or not is a lot like trying to tell if a person is a Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Jew. Depending on how you go about it, determining someone else's religious affiliation can be either very hard or very easy.

Instructions
If You Are on Speaking Terms With the Person

Step 1 Ask outright. If you are too embarrassed to ask her, then you can talk to her casually about some of the following beliefs commonly held by witches and see if she matches the description. Be aware that even if this person isn't a witch, she may think that you are after two or three of these questions.

Step 2 Ask the person if he believes in magic. People who are not witches may very well believe in magic also, and this may seem like a stereotypical witch characteristic, but many witches believe that elements can be manipulated through rituals.

Step 3 Ask the person about her views on justice. If she believes that harm should be brought to those who have harmed others, then she is less likely to be a witch. The Wiccan Rede, in regard to morality, basically states that witches are free to do what they will as long as it doesn't harm anyone.

Step 4 Ask if the person ever feels a tie to nature or the outdoors. If he says that he does feel a connection to nature and the elements, then this is a characteristic that fits well with Wiccan beliefs.

Step 5 Ask if the person believes that religious freedom is important. If the person says yes, then this fits very well with Wiccan beliefs. Not only were witches oppressed for years because of religious intolerance, but many witches tend to believe that religious freedom is so important that they don't even raise their children with Wiccan beliefs, preferring that they come to a conclusion themselves about which religion they would like to follow.

If You Are Not on Speaking Terms With the Person
Step 1 Look for things that witches generally do or say. However, this is by far the most unreliable way to tell, and just because someone shares one or all of these characteristics does not mean that they are a witch.

Step 2 Look to see if the person wears a pentacle around their neck. Much like the crucifix worn by Christians or the Star of David worn by Jews, the pentacle is a common symbol worn by witches. However, much like how people wearing a crucifix can sometimes shoot people, judging someone by their pentacle alone can be deceiving.

Step 3 Listen for the person saying "Blessed Be" as a greeting or farewell to close friends or relatives. This is a common expression of goodwill among witches.

Step 4 Keep an eye open to see if the person is overly enthusiastic about celebrating on Groundhog's Day (not for Groundhog's Day). In fact, that goes the same for any overly enthusiastic celebrating on the beginnings of all of the other seasons, the summer and winter solstices, and the autumn and spring equinoxes as well.

Step 5 Look for a copy of the "Book of Shadows" either with the person, or if you somehow get a chance to walk into the house of this person (party, book club, house meeting), in their book collection.


*eHow.com


Posted on ubuntu Linux posted on ubuntu Linux

Thursday, January 28, 2016

30 years after the Challenger explosion - humans in space endure

NASA's shuttle program was marked by stunning developments and devastating loss. With its current fleet retired, here is a look back at some of the more notable missions.


1981 -- Columbia

Columbia becomes the first shuttle to go into orbit, launching on April 12, 1981, for a two-day mission.

The objective of the mission is to "demonstrate safe launch into orbit and safe return of the orbiter and crew," says a summary of the flight on NASA's website. It is also used to "verify the combined performance of the entire shuttle vehicle - orbiter, solid rocket boosters and external tank."


All systems test successfully, NASA says.

The second shuttle mission occurs seven months later.

1984 - Challenger

Canadian Astronaut Marc Garneau became the first Canadian in space when he flies aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1984.

1986 -- Challenger

On Jan. 28, 1986, many gather around their TV sets to watch the launch of Challenger. Aboard is the first teacher to go into space, Christa McAuliffe.

Just 73 seconds after liftoff, a series of structures fail on the shuttle, causing it to explode. The flaw that brings down Challenger is a poorly designed seal in the shuttle's solid rocket booster.

The shuttle program is suspended pending an investigation. In 1988, Discovery is the first spaceflight attempt after the Challenger accident.

1990 -- Discovery

The Hubble Space Telescope is taken to space aboard Discovery on April 24, 1990. It is deployed in a 610-statue-kilometre orbit.

Hubble revolutionized astronomy with its pictures of the universe. But it has recently been beset by problems. In late June, its main camera stopped working, and it will need new batteries and gyroscopes if it is to keep working beyond next year.

1995 -- Atlantis

On June 27, 1995, Atlantis blasts off for what is the 100th U.S. human space launch conducted from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Other firsts on this flight include the inaugural docking of a space shuttle to the Russian Space Station Mir, on June 29. When linked, Atlantis and Mir form the largest spacecraft ever in orbit. The two crews switch spacecraft for an on-orbit changeout of shuttle crew.

Atlantis undocks from Mir on July 4 in a separation sequence described by shuttle Commander Robert Gibson as a "cosmic" ballet. The spacecraft lands back on Earth on July 7.

On Dec. 4, 1998, Endeavour launches into space for a 12-day mission aimed at starting the assembly of the International Space Station.

Just two months earlier, Discovery takes U.S. Sen. John Glenn into orbit. At 77, Glenn is the oldest person to go into space. During the nine-day mission, he participates in studies on the effects of weightlessness on aging.

In 1962, Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth aboard Mercury.

1999 -- Columbia

Eileen Collins becomes the first female shuttle commander as the leader of the Columbia crew on its July 1999 mission. Just four days long, it is the shortest mission since 1990.

One of the main goals of the mission is to place the Chandra X-Ray Observatory in orbit.

The flight is almost aborted after Columbia leaks more than 4,000 pounds of hydrogen fuel during takeoff. The problem causes one of the main engines to shut off prematurely, but Columbia still makes it into space.

2001 -- Endeavour

In April of 2001, Chris Hadfield makes history as the first Canadian astronaut to walk in space. During the eight-day mission, he helps install the new Canadarm2 on the International Space Station.

The 17.6-metre robotic arm is essential to the continued construction of the space station.

Hadfield isn't the first Canadian to go to the ISS. Julie Payette visits in 1999, followed by Marc Garneau in 2000.

2001 -- Endeavour

On Dec. 5, 2001, Endeavour becomes the first shuttle to go into space following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington.

On board are 6,000 small U.S. flags that are to be distributed to the families of the victims after the shuttle returns to Earth. Other items on board include the U.S. flag found on the World Trade Center site after the attacks, and a U.S. Marine Corps Colours flag from the Pentagon.

The shuttle also carries photographs of the firefighters lost in the attacks.

2003 -- Columbia

Columbia lifts off on Jan. 16, 2003 with seven astronauts on board, including the first Israeli astronaut. After a 16-day mission, it is scheduled to land on Feb. 1, but instead breaks apart over Texas during re-entry.

A piece of foam that had broken off from the ship's fuel tank during liftoff does extensive damage to the shuttle's wing. NASA does not realize the extent of the damage to the shuttle's heat shield until Columbia disintegrates 16 minutes before touchdown.

2005 -- Discovery

Discovery, which launches on July 26, 2005, is the first spaceflight attempt following the Columbia disaster.

Between the two flights, NASA engineers had redesigned the external fuel tank, to cut down on falling debris. Managers were then surprised when a piece of foam broke off of Discovery. It doesn't do any major damage but NASA is forced to ground the shuttle fleet and make more modifications.

Four landing opportunities are waved off at Kennedy Space Center due to poor weather conditions. Discovery eventually touches down at Edwards Air Force Base in California on the night of Aug. 9.

*CTV News

Click here for some really good pictures taken from Discovery

Let’s create the future of LGBT television

 Click here to do the survey

The Window Washer

One for the women...

For certain men too!

Adam McKay Once Pranked Lorne Michaels - Late Night with Seth Meyers

The gorilla and the boy

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A new perspective - The World At Odds

World At Odds
Click on the image for a larger view - picture from Sprint

Assiniboine Park Miniature Steam Locomotive

Assiniboine Park Miniature Steam Locomotive - located in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada
Assiniboine Park Miniature Steam Locomotive -
located in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada (Click on the picture for a larger view!)

The Assiniboine Park miniature steam train. The train, the American 4-4-0, was built in 1964 out of Wyano, Penn. by the Crown Metal Corporation. It chugs along in Assiniboine Park. Talk about built to last!

Find the panda!

I found it. Can you?
Find the panda!

The Wizard thought he'd seen everything...

from The Huffington Post

Gold Poop Pills By Tobias Wong Will Turn Your Feces All Sparkly
Gold Poop Pills
Are you a classy, art-loving type of person? Do you indulge yourself with the finest furs, foods and liqueurs? Do you struggle with the fact that, now matter how expensive your imbibed goods of choice are, they all come out the other end worth absolutely nada? Artist Tobias "Tobi" Wong heard your prayers and delivered. The late artist created a pill that will "turn your innermost parts into chambers of wealth." Yes, you read that right, this pill art turns any indulgent rich kid with a regular bowel movement in to an art-maker par excellence.

--more at The Huffington Post

The Wizard heard these are like $425 a pill! Here's a photo of my precious poop:
The Wizard's Gold Poop

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Abe Vigoda dies at 94

By HILLEL ITALIE, AP NATIONAL WRITER
Abe Vigoda
Character actor Abe Vigoda, whose leathery, sunken-eyed face made him ideal for playing the over-the-hill detective Phil Fish in the 1970s TV series "Barney Miller" and the doomed Mafia soldier in "The Godfather," died Tuesday at age 94.

Vigoda's daughter, Carol Vigoda Fuchs, told The Associated Press that Vigoda died Tuesday morning in his sleep at Fuchs' home in Woodland Park, New Jersey. The cause of death was old age. "This man was never sick," Fuchs said.

Vigoda worked in relative obscurity as a supporting actor in the New York theater and in television until Francis Ford Coppola cast him in the 1972 Oscar-winning "The Godfather."

Vigoda played Sal Tessio, an old friend of Vito Corleone's (Marlon Brando) who hopes to take over the family after Vito's death by killing his son Michael Corleone (Al Pacino). But Michael anticipates that Sal's suggestion for a "peace summit" among crime families is a setup and the escorts Sal thought were taking him to the meeting turn out to be his executioners.

"Tell Mike it was only business," Sal mutters to consigliere Tom Hagen, played by Robert Duvall, as he's led away.

In a statement, Duvall said Tuesday it was "great working with Abe in 'The Godfather' and wonderful to have him among us. We had some great memories together and he will really be missed."

The great success of the film and "The Godfather Part II" made Vigoda's face and voice, if not his name, recognizable to the general public and led to numerous roles, often as hoodlums.

But it was his comic turn in "Barney Miller," which starred Hal Linden and ran from 1975 to 1982, that brought Vigoda's greatest recognition.

He liked to tell the story of how he won the role of Detective Fish. An exercise enthusiast, Vigoda had just returned from a five-mile jog when his agent called and told him to report immediately to the office of Danny Arnold, who was producing a pilot for a police station comedy.

Arnold remarked that Vigoda looked tired, and the actor explained about his jog. "You know, you look like you might have hemorrhoids," Arnold said. "What are you — a doctor or a producer?" Vigoda asked. He was cast on the spot.

"The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows," a reference book, commented that Vigoda was the hit of "Barney Miller." ''Not only did he look incredible, he sounded and acted like every breath might be his last," it said. "Fish was always on the verge of retirement, and his worst day was when the station house toilet broke down."

Vigoda remained a regular on "Barney Miller" until 1977 when he took the character to his own series, "Fish." The storyline dealt with the detective's domestic life and his relations with five street kids that he and his wife took into their home.

The show lasted a season and a half. Vigoda continued making occasional guest appearances on "Barney Miller," quitting over billing and salary differences.

But he remained a popular character actor in films, including "Cannonball Run II," ''Look Who's Talking," ''Joe Versus the Volcano" and "North."

His resemblance to Boris Karloff led to his casting in the 1986 New York revival of "Arsenic and Old Lace," playing the role Karloff originated on the stage in the 1940s. (The murderous character in the black comedy is famously said by other characters to resemble Boris Karloff, a great joke back when the real Karloff was playing him.)

Born in New York City in 1921, Vigoda attended the Theater School of Dramatic Arts at Carnegie Hall. In the early 1950s, he appeared as straight man for the Jimmy Durante and Ed Wynn TV comedies.

For 30 years, he worked in the theater, acting in dozens of plays in such diverse characters as John of Gaunt in "Richard II" (his favorite role) and Abraham Lincoln in a short-lived Broadway comedy "Tough to Get Help."

Vigoda attributed his high percentage in winning roles to his performance in auditions. Instead of delivering the tired soliloquies that most actors performed, he wrote his own, about a circus barker. At a surprise 80th birthday party in New Jersey in 2001, he gave a spirited recital of the monologue to the delight of the 100 guests.

Reflecting on his delayed success, Vigoda once remarked: "When I was a young man, I was told success had to come in my youth. I found this to be a myth. My experiences have taught me that if you deeply believe in what you are doing, success can come at any age."

"Barney Miller" became his first steady acting job.

"I'm the same Abe Vigoda," he told an interviewer. "I have the same friends, but the difference now is that I can buy the things I never could afford before. I have never had a house before, so now I would like a house with a nice garden and a pool. Hollywood has been very kind to me."

He was married twice, most recently to Beatrice Schy, who died in 1992. He had his daughter with his first wife, Sonja Gohlke, who has also died. Vigoda is survived by his daughter, grandchildren Jamie, Paul and Steven, and a great-grandson.

Reruns of "Barney Miller" and repeated screenings of the two "Godfather" epics kept Vigoda in the public eye, and unlike some celebrities, he enjoyed being recognized. In 1997 he was shopping in Bloomingdale's in Manhattan when a salesman remarked: "You look like Abe Vigoda. But you can't be Abe Vigoda because he's dead." Vigoda often appeared on lists of living celebrities believed to have passed away.

———

AP Television Writer Lynn Elber in Los Angeles and Entertainment reporter Lauri Neff in New York contributed to this report.

Biographical material in this story was written by The Associated Press' late Hollywood correspondent Bob Thomas.

If I Could Give You Anything

If could give you anything, anything at all,

I would give you all the things the poets write about – deep blue skies, pure white clouds, warm sunshine, cool breezes, stunning sunsets, glorious rainbows, and grand waterfalls.
I would give you something to smile about every day.
I would surround you with true friends to share your joys, comfort you through tough times, and bring out the best in you.
I would give you great teachers to fill your mind with wondrous facts, unanswered questions, and a love for learning.
I would give you the wisdom to know your heart and the courage to follow it.
I would fill your days with carefree play and meaningful work.
I would give you challenges worthy of your talents, and achievements worthy of your pride.
I would fill your heart with gratitude and teach it to forgive.
I would give you genuine self-confidence, fearless enthusiasm, and grand expectations.
I would give you a life filled with hugs, laughter, love, and the wisdom to be happy.

And when you’re ready, I would give you a man worthy to be your lifelong partner and the father of your children.
And I would give you a daughter as good as you.
Sadly, I don’t have the power to give you all these things.
But I can remind you that you have the power within you to find, make, and keep all the things I wish for you.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

*Character Counts

Piano for 4 hands and 4 feet

The Big Piano at FAO Schwartz:

Gay Erotic Art - by Steve Walker

Someone to be loved

Click above to go to Steve Walker's Art page - now only on facebook there are great pictures all thumbnailed for you to peruse. While the picture above isn't Steve Walker's art as far as I know - it did remind me of the artist's fantastic work

AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com - "Spreading The Awkwardness"



Click above to visit the site. Please don't publish any of ours, Dad!

--just kiddin' our pics are put to shame by these wieners - I mean winners....

Monday, January 25, 2016

Dracula's Guest by Bram Stoker - Story hand picked by The Wizard of 'OZ'

Dracula's Guest by Bram Stoker
When we started for our drive the sun was shining brightly on Munich, and the air was full of the joyousness of early summer. Just as we were about to depart, Herr Delbruck (the maitre d'hotel of the Quatre Saisons, where I was staying) came down bareheaded to the carriage and, after wishing me a pleasant drive, said to the coachman, still holding his hand on the handle of the carriage door, "Remember you are back by nightfall. The sky looks bright but there is a shiver in the north wind that says there may be a sudden storm. But I am sure you will not be late." Here he smiled and added, "for you know what night it is."

Johann answered with an emphatic, "Ja, mein Herr," and, touching his hat, drove off quickly. When we had cleared the town, I said, after signalling to him to stop:
"Tell me, Johann, what is tonight?"

He crossed himself, as he answered laconically: "Walpurgis nacht." Then he took out his watch, a great, old-fashioned German silver thing as big as a turnip and looked at it, with his eyebrows gathered together and a little impatient shrug of his shoulders. I realized that this was his way of respectfully protesting against the unnecessary delay and sank back in the carriage, merely motioning him to proceed. He started off rapidly, as if to make up for lost time. Every now and then the horses seemed to throw up their heads and sniff the air suspiciously. On such occasions I often looked round in alarm. The road was pretty bleak, for we were traversing a sort of high windswept plateau. As we drove, I saw a road that looked but little used and which seemed to dip through a little winding valley. It looked so inviting that, even at the risk of offending him, I called Johann to stop - and when he had pulled up, I told him I would like to drive down that road. He made all sorts of excuses and frequently crossed himself as he spoke. This somewhat piqued my curiosity, so I asked him various questions. He answered fencingly and repeatedly looked at his watch in protest.

Finally I said, "Well, Johann, I want to go down this road. I shall not ask you to come unless you like; but tell me why you do not like to go, that is all I ask." For answer he seemed to throw himself off the box, so quickly did he reach the ground. Then he stretched out his hands appealingly to me and implored me not to go. There was just enough of English mixed with the German for me to understand the drift of his talk. He seemed always just about to tell me something - the very idea of which evidently frightened him; but each time he pulled himself up saying, "Walpurgis nacht!"

I tried to argue with him, but it was difficult to argue with a man when I did not know his language. The advantage certainly rested with him, for although he began to speak in English, of a very crude and broken kind, he always got excited and broke into his native tongue - and every time he did so, he looked at his watch. Then the horses became restless and sniffed the air. At this he grew very pale, and, looking around in a frightened way, he suddenly jumped forward, took them by the bridles, and led them on some twenty feet. I followed and asked why he had done this. For an answer he crossed himself, pointed to the spot we had left, and drew his carriage in the direction of the other road, indicating a cross, and said, first in German, then in English, "Buried him - him what killed themselves."

I remembered the old custom of burying suicides at cross roads: "Ah! I see, a suicide. How interesting!" But for the life of me I could not make out why the horses were frightened.

Whilst we were talking, we heard a sort of sound between a yelp and a bark. It was far away; but the horses got very restless, and it took Johann all his time to quiet them. He was pale and said, "It sounds like a wolf - but yet there are no wolves here now."

"No?" I said, questioning him. "Isn't it long since the wolves were so near the city?"
"Long, long," he answered, "in the spring and summer; but with the snow the wolves have been here not so long."

Whilst he was petting the horses and trying to quiet them, dark clouds drifted rapidly across the sky. The sunshine passed away, and a breath of cold wind seemed to drift over us. It was only a breath, however, and more of a warning than a fact, for the sun came out brightly again.

Johann looked under his lifted hand at the horizon and said, "The storm of snow, he comes before long time." Then he looked at his watch again, and, straightway holding his reins firmly - for the horses were still pawing the ground restlessly and shaking their heads - he climbed to his box as though the time had come for proceeding on our journey.
I felt a little obstinate and did not at once get into the carriage.

"Tell me," I said, "about this place where the road leads," and I pointed down.
Again he crossed himself and mumbled a prayer before he answered, "It is unholy."
"What is unholy?" I enquired.
"The village."
"Then there is a village?"
"No, no. No one lives there hundreds of years."
My curiosity was piqued, "But you said there was a village."
"There was."
"Where is it now?"

Whereupon he burst out into a long story in German and English, so mixed up that I could not quite understand exactly what he said. Roughly I gathered that long ago, hundreds of years, men had died there and been buried in their graves; but sounds were heard under the clay, and when the graves were opened, men and women were found rosy with life and their mouths red with blood. And so, in haste to save their lives (aye, and their souls! - and here he crossed himself) those who were left fled away to other places, where the living lived and the dead were dead and not - not something. He was evidently afraid to speak the last words. As he proceeded with his narration, he grew more and more excited. It seemed as if his imagination had got hold of him, and he ended in a perfect paroxysm of fear - white-faced, perspiring, trembling, and looking round him as if expecting that some dreadful presence would manifest itself there in the bright sunshine on the open plain.

Finally, in an agony of desperation, he cried, "Walpurgis nacht!" and pointed to the carriage for me to get in.

All my English blood rose at this, and standing back I said, "You are afraid, Johann - you are afraid. Go home, I shall return alone, the walk will do me good." The carriage door was open. I took from the seat my oak walking stick - which I al ways carry on my holiday excursions - and closed the door, pointing back to Munich, and said, "Go home, Johann - Walpurgis nacht doesn't concern Englishmen."

The horses were now more restive than ever, and Johann was trying to hold them in, while excitedly imploring me not to do anything so foolish. I pitied the poor fellow, he was so deeply in earnest; but all the same I could not help laughing. His English was quite gone now. In his anxiety he had forgot ten that his only means of making me understand was to talk my language, so he jabbered away in his native German. It began to be a little tedious. After giving the direction, "Home!" I turned to go down the cross road into the valley.

With a despairing gesture, Johann turned his horses towards Munich. I leaned on my stick and looked after him. He went slowly along the road for a while, then there came over the crest of the hill a man tall and thin. I could see so much in the distance. When he drew near the horses, they began to jump and kick about, then to scream with terror. Johann could not hold them in; they bolted down the road, running away madly. I watched them out of sight, then looked for the stranger; but I found that he, too, was gone.

With a light heart I turned down the side road through the deepening valley to which Johann had objected. There was not the slightest reason, that I could see, for his objection; and I daresay I tramped for a couple of hours without thinking of time or distance and certainly without seeing a person or a house. So far as the place was concerned, it was desolation itself. But I did not notice this particularly till, on turning a bend in the road, I came upon a scattered fringe of wood; then I recognized that I had been impressed unconsciously by the desolation of the region through which I had passed.

I sat down to rest myself and began to look around. It struck me that it was considerably colder than it had been at the commencement of my walk - a sort of sighing sound seemed to be around me with, now and then, high overhead, a sort of muffled roar. Looking upwards I noticed that great thick clouds were drafting rapidly across the sky from north to south at a great height. There were signs of a coming storm in some lofty stratum of the air. I was a little chilly, and, thinking that it was the sitting still after the exercise of walking, I resumed my journey.

The ground I passed over was now much more picturesque. There were no striking objects that the eye might single out, but in all there was a charm of beauty. I took little heed of time, and it was only when the deepening twilight forced it self upon me that I began to think of how I should find my way home. The air was cold, and the drifting of clouds high overhead was more marked. They were accompanied by a sort of far away rushing sound, through which seemed to come at intervals that mysterious cry which the driver had said came from a wolf. For a while I hesitated. I had said I would see the deserted village, so on I went and presently came on a wide stretch of open country, shut in by hills all around. Their sides were covered with trees which spread down to the plain, dotting in clumps the gentler slopes and hollows which showed here and there. I followed with my eye the winding of the road and saw that it curved close to one of the densest of these clumps and was lost behind it.

As I looked there came a cold shiver in the air, and the snow began to fall. I thought of the miles and miles of bleak country I had passed, and then hurried on to seek shelter of the wood in front. Darker and darker grew the sky, and faster and heavier fell the snow, till the earth before and around me was a glistening white carpet the further edge of which was lost in misty vagueness. The road was here but crude, and when on the level its boundaries were not so marked as when it passed through the cuttings; and in a little while I found that I must have strayed from it, for I missed underfoot the hard surface, and my feet sank deeper in the grass and moss. Then the wind grew stronger and blew with ever increasing force, till I was fain to run before it. The air became icy- cold, and in spite of my exercise I began to suffer. The snow was now falling so thickly and whirling around me in such rap id eddies that I could hardly keep my eyes open. Every now and then the heavens were torn asunder by vivid lightning, and in the flashes I could see ahead of me a great mass of trees, chiefly yew and cypress all heavily coated with snow.

I was soon amongst the shelter of the trees, and there in comparative silence I could hear the rush of the wind high overhead. Presently the blackness of the storm had become merged in the darkness of the night. By-and-by the storm seemed to be passing away, it now only came in fierce puffs or blasts. At such moments the weird sound of the wolf appeared to be echoed by many similar sounds around me.

Now and again, through the black mass of drifting cloud, came a straggling ray of moonlight which lit up the expanse and showed me that I was at the edge of a dense mass of cypress and yew trees. As the snow had ceased to fall, I walked out from the shelter and began to investigate more closely. It appeared to me that, amongst so many old foundations as I had passed, there might be still standing a house in which, though in ruins, I could find some sort of shelter for a while. As I skirted the edge of the copse, I found that a low wall encircled it, and following this I presently found an opening. Here the cypresses formed an alley leading up to a square mass of some kind of building. Just as I caught sight of this, however, the drifting clouds obscured the moon, and I passed up the path in darkness. The wind must have grown colder, for I felt myself shiver as I walked; but there was hope of shelter, and I groped my way blindly on.

I stopped, for there was a sudden stillness. The storm had passed; and, perhaps in sympathy with nature's silence, my heart seemed to cease to beat. But this was only momentarily; for suddenly the moonlight broke through the clouds showing me that I was in a graveyard and that the square object before me was a great massive tomb of marble, as white as the snow that lay on and all around it. With the moonlight there came a fierce sigh of the storm which appeared to resume its course with a long, low howl, as of many dogs or wolves. I was awed and shocked, and I felt the cold perceptibly grow upon me till it seemed to grip me by the heart. Then while the flood of moonlight still fell on the marble tomb, the storm gave further evidence of renewing, as though it were returning on its track. Impelled by some sort of fascination, I approached the sepulchre to see what it was and why such a thing stood alone in such a place. I walked around it and read, over the Doric door, in German -

     COUNTESS DOLINGEN OF GRATZ
     IN STYRIA
     SOUGHT AND FOUND DEATH
     1801

On the top of the tomb, seemingly driven through the solid marble - for the structure was composed of a few vast blocks of stone - was a great iron spike or stake. On going to the back I saw, graven in great Russian letters:

"The dead travel fast."

There was something so weird and uncanny about the whole thing that it gave me a turn and made me feel quite faint. I began to wish, for the first time, that I had taken Johann's advice. Here a thought struck me, which came under almost mysterious circumstances and with a terrible shock. This was Walpurgis Night!

Walpurgis Night was when, according to the belief of mill ions of people, the devil was abroad - when the graves were opened and the dead came forth and walked. When all evil things of earth and air and water held revel. This very place the driver had specially shunned. This was the depopulated village of centuries ago. This was where the suicide lay; and this was the place where I was alone - unmanned, shivering with cold in a shroud of snow with a wild storm gathering again up on me! It took all my philosophy, all the religion I had been taught, all my courage, not to collapse in a paroxysm of fright.

And now a perfect tornado burst upon me. The ground shook as though thousands of horses thundered across it; and this time the storm bore on its icy wings, not snow, but great hailstones which drove with such violence that they might have come from the thongs of Balearic slingers - hailstones that beat down leaf and branch and made the shelter of the cypresses of no more avail than though their stems were standing corn. At the first I had rushed to the nearest tree; but I was soon fain to leave it and seek the only spot that seemed to afford refuge, the deep Doric doorway of the marble tomb. There, crouching against the massive bronze door, I gained a certain amount of protection from the beating of the hail stones, for now they only drove against me as they ricochetted from the ground and the side of the marble.

As I leaned against the door, it moved slightly and opened inwards. The shelter of even a tomb was welcome in that pitiless tempest and I was about to enter it when there came a flash of forked lightning that lit up the whole expanse of the heavens. In the instant, as I am a living man, I saw, as my eyes turned into the darkness of the tomb, a beautiful woman with rounded cheeks and red lips, seemingly sleeping on a bier. As the thunder broke overhead, I was grasped as by the hand of a giant and hurled out into the storm. The whole thing was so sudden that, before I could realize the shock, moral as well as physical, I found the hailstones beating me down. At the same time I had a strange, dominating feeling that I was not alone. I looked towards the tomb. Just then there came another blinding flash which seemed to strike the iron stake that surmounted the tomb and to pour through to the earth, blasting and crumbling the marble, as in a burst of flame. The dead woman rose for a moment of agony while she was lapped in the flame, and her bitter scream of pain was drowned in the thundercrash. The last thing I heard was this mingling of dreadful sound, as again I was seized in the giant grasp and dragged away, while the hailstones beat on me and the air around seemed reverberant with the howling of wolves. The last sight that I remembered was a vague, white, moving mass, as if all the graves around me had sent out the phantoms of their sheeted dead, and that they were closing in on me through the white cloudiness of the driving hail.

Gradually there came a sort of vague beginning of consciousness, then a sense of weariness that was dreadful. For a time I remembered nothing, but slowly my senses returned. My feet seemed positively racked with pain, yet I could not move them. They seemed to be numbed. There was an icy feeling at the back of my neck and all down my spine, and my ears, like my feet, were dead yet in torment; but there was in my breast a sense of warmth which was by comparison delicious. It was as a nightmare - a physical nightmare, if one may use such an expression; for some heavy weight on my chest made it difficult for me to breathe.

This period of semi-lethargy seemed to remain a long time, and as it faded away I must have slept or swooned. Then came a sort of loathing, like the first stage of seasickness, and a wild desire to be free of something - I knew not what. A vast stillness enveloped me, as though all the world were asleep or dead - only broken by the low panting as of some animal close to me. I felt a warm rasping at my throat, then came a consciousness of the awful truth which chilled me to the heart and sent the blood surging up through my brain. Some great animal was lying on me and now licking my throat. I feared to stir, for some instinct of prudence bade me lie still; but the brute seemed to realize that there was now some change in me, for it raised its head. Through my eyelashes I saw above me the two great flaming eyes of a gigantic wolf. Its sharp white teeth gleamed in the gaping red mouth, and I could feel its hot breath fierce and acrid upon me.

For another spell of time I remembered no more. Then I be came conscious of a low growl, followed by a yelp, renewed again and again. Then seemingly very far away, I heard a "Hol loa! holloa!" as of many voices calling in unison. Cautiously I raised my head and looked in the direction whence the sound came, but the cemetery blocked my view. The wolf still continued to yelp in a strange way, and a red glare began to move round the grove of cypresses, as though following the sound. As the voices drew closer, the wolf yelped faster and louder. I feared to make either sound or motion. Nearer came the red glow over the white pall which stretched into the darkness a round me. Then all at once from beyond the trees there came at a trot a troop of horsemen bearing torches. The wolf rose from my breast and made for the cemetery. I saw one of the horsemen (soldiers by their caps and their long military cloaks) raise his carbine and take aim. A companion knocked up his arm, and I heard the ball whiz over my head. He had evidently taken my body for that of the wolf. Another sighted the animal as it slunk away, and a shot followed. Then, at a gallop, the troop rode forward - some towards me, others following the wolf as it disappeared amongst the snow-clad cypresses.

As they drew nearer I tried to move but was powerless, al though I could see and hear all that went on around me. Two or three of the soldiers jumped from their horses and knelt beside me. One of them raised my head and placed his hand over my heart.

"Good news, comrades!" he cried. "His heart still beats!"

Then some brandy was poured down my throat; it put vigor into me, and I was able to open my eyes fully and look around. Lights and shadows were moving among the trees, and I heard men call to one another. They drew together, uttering frightened exclamations; and the lights flashed as the others came pouring out of the cemetery pell-mell, like men possessed. When the further ones came close to us, those who were around me asked them eagerly, "Well, have you found him?"

The reply rang out hurriedly, "No! no! Come away quick - quick! This is no place to stay, and on this of all nights!"
"What was it?" was the question, asked in all manner of keys. The answer came variously and all indefinitely as though the men were moved by some common impulse to speak yet were restrained by some common fear from giving their thoughts.
"It - it - indeed!" gibbered one, whose wits had plainly given out for the moment.
"A wolf - and yet not a wolf!" another put in shudderingly.
"No use trying for him without the sacred bullet," a third remarked in a more ordinary manner.
"Serve us right for coming out on this night! Truly we have earned our thousand marks!" were the ejaculations of a fourth.
"There was blood on the broken marble," another said after a pause, "the lightning never brought that there. And for him- -is he safe? Look at his throat! See comrades, the wolf has been lying on him and keeping his blood warm."
The officer looked at my throat and replied, "He is all right, the skin is not pierced. What does it all mean? We should never have found him but for the yelping of the wolf."
"What became of it?" asked the man who was holding up my head and who seemed the least panic-stricken of the party, for his hands were steady and without tremor. On his sleeve was the chevron of a petty officer.

"It went home," answered the man, whose long face was pall id and who actually shook with terror as he glanced around him fearfully. "There are graves enough there in which it may lie. Come, comrades - come quickly! Let us leave this cursed spot."

The officer raised me to a sitting posture, as he uttered a word of command; then several men placed me upon a horse. He sprang to the saddle behind me, took me in his arms, gave the word to advance; and, turning our faces away from the cypresses, we rode away in swift military order.

As yet my tongue refused its office, and I was perforce silent. I must have fallen asleep; for the next thing I remembered was finding myself standing up, supported by a soldier on each side of me. It was almost broad daylight, and to the north a red streak of sunlight was reflected like a path of blood over the waste of snow. The officer was telling the men to say nothing of what they had seen, except that they found an English stranger, guarded by a large dog.

"Dog! that was no dog," cut in the man who had exhibited such fear. "I think I know a wolf when I see one."
The young officer answered calmly, "I said a dog."
"Dog!" reiterated the other ironically. It was evident that his courage was rising with the sun; and, pointing to me, he said, "Look at his throat. Is that the work of a dog, master?"

Instinctively I raised my hand to my throat, and as I touched it I cried out in pain. The men crowded round to look, some stooping down from their saddles; and again there came the calm voice of the young officer, "A dog, as I said. If aught else were said we should only be laughed at."

I was then mounted behind a trooper, and we rode on into the suburbs of Munich. Here we came across a stray carriage into which I was lifted, and it was driven off to the Quatre Saisons - the young officer accompanying me, whilst a trooper followed with his horse, and the others rode off to their barracks.

When we arrived, Herr Delbruck rushed so quickly down the steps to meet me, that it was apparent he had been watching within. Taking me by both hands he solicitously led me in. The officer saluted me and was turning to withdraw, when I recognized his purpose and insisted that he should come to my rooms. Over a glass of wine I warmly thanked him and his brave comrades for saving me. He replied simply that he was more than glad, and that Herr Delbruck had at the first taken steps to make all the searching party pleased; at which ambiguous utterance the maitre d'hotel smiled, while the officer plead- duty and withdrew.

"But Herr Delbruck," I enquired, "how and why was it that the soldiers searched for me?"
He shrugged his shoulders, as if in depreciation of his own deed, as he replied, "I was so fortunate as to obtain leave from the commander of the regiment in which I serve, to ask for volunteers."
"But how did you know I was lost?" I asked.
"The driver came hither with the remains of his carriage, which had been upset when the horses ran away."
"But surely you would not send a search party of soldiers merely on this account?"
"Oh, no!" he answered, "but even before the coachman arrived, I had this telegram from the Boyar whose guest you are," and he took from his pocket a telegram which he handed to me, and I read:

Bistritz.

Be careful of my guest - his safety is most precious to me. Should aught happen to him, or if he be missed, spare nothing to find him and ensure his safety. He is English and therefore adventurous. There are often dangers from snow and wolves and night. Lose not a moment if you suspect harm to him. I answer your zeal with my fortune.
  
- Dracula.

As I held the telegram in my hand, the room seemed to whirl around me, and if the attentive maitre d'hotel had not caught me, I think I should have fallen. There was something so strange in all this, something so weird and impossible to imagine, that there grew on me a sense of my being in some way the sport of opposite forces - the mere vague idea of which seemed in a way to paralyze me. I was certainly under some form of mysterious protection. From a distant country had come, in the very nick of time, a message that took me out of the danger of the snow sleep and the jaws of the wolf.

Wise Words

Be Wise
Be Wise!Add Fitness to your Daily Routine

If you find you can't devote enough time to getting in shape as you would like, there are still plenty of ways you can keep your body active while going about your normal routine. Try to use stairways instead of elevators whenever possible. If you can walk there or take a bike, let your body burn energy instead of taking your car. If you are driving, instead of wasting time looking for a good spot, park further away and walk a couple extra blocks. Turn your housework into a fitness challenge: Sweep and mop using as much energy as possible, exaggerating your arm movements. Fold your clothes and do a couple sets of squats at the same time. Whatever you're doing try and incorporate in some sort of routine that gets your muscles working and heart rate moving. And if you absolutely can't miss your favorite show on TV, try doing some sit-ups and push-ups while you watch or during commercials.

Be Wise!Living Happily

A perfect marriage isn’t one that’s problem-free, it’s one that manages and solves problems wisely.

Be Wise!Cleaning The Dishwasher

Is the interior of your dishwasher looking blue or brown? Just fill the detergent dispenser with "Tang"(the powdered orange drink) and ran the dishwasher through a full cycle; at the end of the cycle it will look brand-new.

Be Wise!Building Endurance

If you want to walk or jog for longer periods of time without getting fatigued, continue with a weight-lifting routine. Lifting weights not only builds strong muscles, but also can improve your aerobic capacity. Improving your aerobic endurance level will enable you to walk, bike, swim, or jog for longer periods of time before exhausting yourself.

Be Wise!Car Survival Kit For Winter

Do yourself a favour today! Place every item that you have in your car from this must car survival kit for winter:

• Plastic blankets/sleeping bags
• Booster cables
• Extra clothing (hats, mittens, scarves, etc.)
• First aid kit
• Flashlight with extra batteries
• Hi-calorie non-perishable food
• Knife
• Sack of sand ( or cat litter ) to create traction if car is stuck
• Shovel
• Took kit
• Tow rope
• Sealed bottle with water

And remember no cheating, if you ever take an item, put it back ASAP!


Be Wise!Life-Expect The Unexpected

When the tide of life surrounds you and the water upsets your boat, Don't waste your tears on what might have been, just lie on your back and float.

Be Wise!Cleanse The Clutter!

Tired of all the junk in your life? If you often find yourself cleaning up clutter or looking for more space in the closet to shove all your stuff in, it might be time to give a wholehearted effort to cleaning all the junk that’s collected over the years. Spend a little time this weekend going through your home and you might realize that most of what fills your drawers is just taking up space. Once your living space is clutter-free and simplified you may find your mind is more relaxed and comfortable too.

Be Wise!Asking

A person who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; a person who never asks is a fool forever.

Be Wise!Paradise

Just could this be paradise right here where you are? Nirvana within you not somewhere afar? Tho' some would decry it and say it can't be just follow along if you long to be free. Your life's what you make it - your choices each day the thoughts that you harbor and words that you say determine the status of your life today. So if you want more than you think you have now watch closely your mindset and you'll find out how Just live in the present. Think only the best about yourself first and then all the rest of your brothers and sisters - you'll find that you're blest and really in paradise. It's all in your mind. Whatever you look for is just what you'll find.

Be Wise!Baking

When baking goodies (cakes, cookies, brownies etc.) you can cut the oil in half by adding 2/3 more water...it makes the dessert lighter, and much less greasy.

Be Wise!Advice on Life

You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can rejoice because thorns have roses.