07 July 2010

Vampire roommates

Want to shack up with a vampire? You wouldn't be the first. Being Human, a BBC drama, introduces the idea of a ghost and werewolf as suitable housemates for a vampire, but before that supernatural nonsense vampires taken (and kept) roommates, who are distinctly non-vampires.

In fiction, the idea proliferates. Marius, of Rice's Vampire Chronicles, adopts hordes of mortal mates. In the Southern Vampire Mysteries, by Harris, vampires keep mortal pets. Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In), a Swedish horror, a child vampire chooses human males, who loyally help her procure blood. These roommates act also as servants and help the young vampire to remain safe during the hostile day.

Can the vampire not find sustenance for herself? Of course, she can. Does she need the human to protect her. He is more than likely to betray her. Is a mortal pet a mere convenience--fresh, warm blood just a room away--or is it something else?

Well, it could be all of those things. Adhering to social rules is not stipulated by the vampire's existence, but conforming to the norm yields certain advantages. No one wants nosy neighbors, prying police, or suspicious solicitors. A mortal can deal with these nuisances and let a vampire rest in peace.

In recent news, I've taken a roommate...a very live roommate. It's a solution, of sorts. I'm residing in a basement, and I need someone to make the home look inhabited. One human resident should do the trick. No?

Anyway, a roommate wipes the possibility of starvation right off the plate.

Cheerio,
Ana

16 June 2010

Ring out the old

So, you survived.

You made it through the first year. Not all are so fortunate. Count yourself among the lucky ones.

For a year, you’ve written to vampires. For a year, you’ve read about us. For a year, you’ve fed vampires tidbits of information on your whereabouts and your scheduled activities. It’s a wonder that you’re still alive, really.

You’ve learned enough about me to make yourself into a threat. If shrewdness were my virtue, then I’d do away with you. Moral rectitude is dead, and I'm not sure it'll resurrect.

Yet, you’ve been safe. I’ve even bumped into a few of you over the course of last year. Did you notice? Did I scare you? No. You wrote me off as a strange little woman…maybe even a girl…and moved on with your life. And, I let you.

A select few of you resisted. You dared to threaten. You challenged. You postured. What came of all that bluster? Nothing. I’m still here. There are those who slung insults as sharp as wooden stakes, but they missed the heart.

Then, there are others who have ignored my warnings. Ambitiously, they’ve pursued my heart…not for blood, but for love. One day, your foolhardy brashness may lead to your demise. But, so far, you’ve entertained.

Finally, there are those who long for death. You search for death. You beg for death. Why have I ignored you? Because, I know better than you. Death is not your friend, and you’re no good to me dead. So, despite your best efforts to seduce, bargain, and cajole, you remain alive.

For a year, you’ve survived in my good graces…if I have any. Will you make through next year? Perhaps, not everyone is so lucky. You survived, but last year over 800,000 people died from malaria. Did you do something to stop it? No, well, let’s hope I’m as good-natured this year as last.

Ciao,
Ana

15 May 2010

Vampire charities

A warning: Beware of vampires.


That should go without saying, right? Everyone knows that some people cannot be trusted. But, when it comes to charities that warning often goes ignored.


Philanthropy kindles warm feelings and encourages humans toward noble goals. Simply put, charities inspire people to be, well, charitable. Unfortunately, not all charities are what they appear to be. Among the noble charities, vampires lurk. These vampires (defined as "people who prey ruthlessly upon others; extortionists") put on masks, obscure their motives, and siphon money from those who wish to help the misfortunate. Beware of vampire charities.


This is not a witch hunt. I will not reveal the names of the suspected. If you're concerned about the reputability of a malaria-relief organization, then just ask me. I bite, but I won't bite you if you're trying to help stop malaria. I'm vicious but not unreasonable.


Some things you should know about Infectious Bite:
* Infectious Bite is an organization of individuals. We are not affiliated with any government-accredited or certified charity.
* Infectious Bite encourages you to donate directly to malaria-relief organizations. You may find links to authorized non-profit organizations throughout our site.
* Infectious Bite is an awareness project. It is not our goal to raise money; although, we are grateful for all donations and contributions. We do accept donations. Donations are used to run the Infectious Bite project. We donate a portion of our profits to malaria-relief organizations. If you are skeptical, then please donate directly to certified non-profit organizations. We prefer your advocacy over your money.


Sincerely,
Ana Revenant



Malaria-relief organizations that we trust:
(This is not an exclusive list.)
*Malaria No More
*Nothing But Nets
*CDC Foundation
*Roll Back Malaria

28 April 2010

What you shouldn't say to a vampire

Lately, I've been spending a lot of time entrenched in human society. It's not all bad, but I could do with a conversation devoid of trivial annoyances. For example: say "bite me", "suck me", or anything similar, and you may get what you wished for...of course, it won't be served in a pleasant manner. For your benefit (and mine), I'm compiling a list of things you shouldn't bring up in a conversation with a vampire.
Responses may vary depending on the individual and his hunger-level.


"How do I know you're real?"
What you don't know can't hurt you. Okay, I lied. It can hurt you, but you won't see it coming.


"I will slay you!"
Slay me with what--boredom? Killing me is a little redundant. Don't you agree?


"Grow up!"
I would if I could.


"It's daytime. You should be asleep in your coffin. Don't you guys explode in the sunlight or sparkle or something?"
Look around. Do you see any fireworks?


"Want to go for a bite?" (This includes "How about a drink?" & "Want to grab some dinner?")
Sure.


"What's your favorite food?"
Er...I thought that was obvious.


"Are you from Transylvania?"
No. Are you from the Garden of Eden?


"Oh, you're a vampire! Do you know Edward/Dracula/Lestat?"
Oh, you're American! Do you know George Costanza/Jefferson Davis/Tom Sawyer?


"I want to be a vampire. Will you change me?"
No. Do you really think I like you enough to have you tagging around after me forever? Bah!
Anyway, I'm not entirely sure how that happens. Any ideas?

22 April 2010

Green Vampires

Why don't vampires obsess about climate change, global warming, or whatever you're calling it now? If someone is going to fret about the future of the planet, shouldn't it be the creatures who will witness its demise?

Well, it's not that I don't care. It's that I have absolute faith that you can handle this on your own. (I don't say things like that often, so there must be a catch.) Once everyone feels the threat of extinction, technology will suddenly offer a way out of the dilemma. Panicked people will scrabble against each other for self-preservation. From the maelstrom of competition, a solution will emerge. Humans are creative creatures, even if they are dim-witted and slow to act.

In the meantime, I will continue not living my green lifestyle. Anyway, I have a comparatively low carbon footprint. Don't believe me? Consider this:

I'm comfortable in low-level lighting, so other than powering my laptop and charging my phone, I use very little electricity. Along the same lines, I don't feel the need to power the energy-draining appliances in my home: the refrigerator, the stove, the dishwasher. Who needs those? Mine are unplugged.

I rent an apartment. That's an Earth-friendly residence, and it has the added bonus of discouraging angry mobs with burning torches and pitchforks. Speaking of which, put out those torches! Don't you know better than to start unnecessary fires? You're trying to kill yourself with smoke, aren't you?

Moving on: I have the tendency to reuse items instead of dispose of them. Why? Well, I remember when raw materials were hard to find and everything was handcrafted. Along that same line, I don't need an automobile. I existed years-upon-years without one. It's true: I don't fly like the vampires of certain stories. If I did, then I would certainly win a prize for green traveling.

Finally, I consume one of the biggest threats to the Earth, and the best part is that I don't need to cultivate my food. My food source grows wild. It's free-range, and I prefer it to be pesticide-free. Furthermore, I almost always shop locally for my dinners.

Pirkano oka yan,
Ana

12 April 2010

Care for some claret?

"I never drink. . . wine." The character, Dracula, utters this famous line in the 1939 movie. "The scene created a use of wine, the blood of the grape, as a metaphor for human blood," (Melton 779).

Dracula is hardly the only fictional work that associates wine with human blood. Anne Rice's Lestat reports sitting in taverns clasping a cup of wine while drinking in the vision of human life, in the book The Tale of the Body Thief. In the film rendition of Interview with a Vampire, the same character is shown draining the blood of a rat into a wine glass to serve to thirsty Louis. At times, vampiric characters may imbibe wine in an attempt to placate their desire for the other red drink. "Unlike Bela Lugosi's Dracula. . ., Varney enjoys a good glass of claret, 'for it looks like blood and may not be it'" (Jenkins 83).

Similarity in color encourages the association of blood and wine, but symbolism makes the correlation irresistible. Buried in vampire legend are elements of Christianity. Vampire fiction is imbued with Christian symbolism, dogma, and mysticism. It is no wonder that writers have translated the Eucharist into their vampiric stories. Jesus calls the Passover wine his blood, and so the vampire calls the blood his wine.

Anyway, it makes for a convenient cover-up. Doesn't it? A wine glass in hand doesn't scare away dinner guests like a bleeding heart does.

Cheers,
Ana

Sources:

Jenkins, Mark Collins. Vampire Forensics: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend.

Melton, J. Gordon. The Vampire Encyclopedia.

Vampire Vineyards. www.vampirevineyards.com [photo]

06 April 2010

Old Maids and Easter Nudity

Did you attend Easter mass naked? --No? Well, it's for the best.

Albanian folklore speaks of the mysterious Shtriga, who is a witch that loves "to eat human beings, especially young boys," but in a crunch she will also eat anyone whom she dislikes. "Though any woman, young or old, can be found to be a shtriga, they are usually ugly old hags [read: 'old hags' as unmarried twenty year-olds] who live in hidden places in the forest and have supernatural powers" (Elsie).

But, how will you know if the woman you suspect is a Shtriga or if she is just weird? Well, "if a woman's hair turns white when she is twenty, this is a sure sign that she is a shtriga" (Elsie). Young men should be wary of this woman. She is a heartbreaker. She will tear out a man's heart [literally] and "fry it for dinner" (Elsie).

Derived from Latin 'striga', meaning witch, these creatures will "often plot to eat one another's sons" should more than one striga exist within the same village. When afflicted women fall asleep at night, "their souls wander off, leaving their lifeless bodies in bed. On the night before Ash Wednesday, they fly down their victim's chimney and drink his blood, whereupon the victim dies" (Elsie). However, there is hope for avoiding death by Shtriga. "If you catch the shtriga in time, you can save the victim's life by forcing the shtriga to spit into his mouth" (Elsie). Furthermore, you can create a "grim safeguard . . . against Shtrigas, but it is hard to get. You must secretly and at night track a woman you believe is a Shtriga." If she was sucking blood, then she will venture "out stealthily to vomit it, where no one sees. You must scrape up some of the vomited blood on a silver coin, wrap it up and wear it always," (Durham 64).

A striga's spirit must return to her body through the mouth. "Should someone have turned the bodies over in their absence, the shtrigas will cause great commotion in their attempt to get back in. Equally, if you turn a sleeping woman around so that her head is where her feet were, and then wake her up, she will die on the spot if she is a shtriga because the spirit cannot find its way back into her body."

"One can prevent shtrigas from entering a house at Shrovetide [the days preceding Lent] by placing a sack in the chimney." A resourceful hunter may also trap the Shtrigas in the church on Easter Sunday by nailing a piece of old pork [leftover from Shrovetide] to the cross or by forming a crucifix from pig bones. Do this, and the Shtrigas attending Easter mass will be caught inside the building. On he who traps them may release them, and if "they are caught, they will pay handsomely for their release." (Elsie).

Surely the Shtriga will pay, for in order to release them from the church the trapper must enter the church naked and wash off the cross" (Elsie). And what vile woman wouldn't pay to have their young hunter enter the church nude during Easter mass?

Lamtumire,
Ana


Sources:
Durham, M Edith. High Albania. P 64.
Elsie, Robert. A dictionary of Albanian religion, mythology, and folk culture. P 237.

24 March 2010

Vampire brides

While sloshing through chilly rain in search for a convenient bite, a thought occurred to me. It's spring. Do you know what spring brings? No, not flowers...It brings bloody brides in white dresses.

Spring is the season for weddings; although, I can't imagine why. Let's face it: if you wanted to get your pretty dress all muddy, then you should have just married your beau in a pig farm and not waited for the April showers...or in this case, March showers.

But, who am I to judge? Weddings aren't my specialty...which is kinda my point. In recent vampire fiction, including film productions, vampire brides are a common motif. Dracula, by Bram Stoker, is cited as the source for such characters, but are the enchanting women his wives, his pets, or his daughters? You draw your conclusions; I'll draw mine.

The harem of women, who swoon over Dracula, drags behind it the notion of immortal romance and relative fidelity. Edward pines over Bella, anguishing about choosing between his solitude and her damnation. "What choice have I?" he asks. "I cannot be without you, but I will not destroy your soul."

He hardly needs to worry about her soul, according to John Melton, who says that the "idea of the vampire brides emphasized the sexual nature of the vampire's relationship to his victims. The vampire attacked his victims and then tied them to him in a slavelike structure in which love played little or no part." And, fidelity?--Forget it!

I'm not saying that I agree with Melton, but his notion puts to rest the idea of trading an eternal soul for an eternal body. Romance is not part of the equation in his interpretation. How could it be? Would you love someone if they nagged you for hundreds of years?

Look at an old couple. More often than not, they're at each others throats. And, that idiom becomes literal if translated into an eternal, vampire relationship.

So, if you're dreaming of a white wedding, then take my advice and schedule it for noon on June 21st. Leave O-neg off the menu, and let your dinner guests choose between chicken or fish.

Until death do us part,
Ana

...Go ahead and ask. I know you want to.
"What about Lucius?" Eh...

17 March 2010

Vampires in Ireland

What is Saint Patrick's Day without the mention of a leprechaun? These little, red-headed creatures are vicious mischief-makers, and, although we have that in common, I know little more about the leprechaun than what you can find in Wikipedia, if you commit the obligatory Saint Patrick's Day search.

So, instead of speaking about miserly sprites who dress in green (or red depending on the date of your book), I write about the more mysterious and more beautiful Dearg-Dul.

"Throughout the islands of the United Kingdom, particularly Ireland and the Isle of Man, there are countless tales of ghosts, spirits, and faerie folk", but Ireland is also the home of "the deadly Dearg-Dul. This ancient vampire's name, 'red blood sucker,' reveals its nature" to all who are wary. "Legends disagree as to whether the Dearg-Dul is a revenant or a kind of eternal faerie." Certainly, he "does not appear as moldering corpse, though [he] does sleep in graves" (Maberry 94-5).

"The Dearg-Dul is not a hideous monster, and in fact most stories agree that both the male and female Dearg-Dul appear as beautiful and sexually appealing figures whose charismatic aura is utterly compelling. They use their irresistible charms to lure potential victims to trysting places--where they attack and kill them." Into a stupor, they lull their victim through the use of spells, but they also possess supernatural strength. "The Celtic druids have battled these creatures for a thousand years and have devised a number of clever ways of defeating them. The most common way is to locate the grave of a suspected Dearg-Dul and then erect a heavy cairn of stones over it, sealing the stones with prayers and placing sprigs of holly between the rocks." The holly zaps their strength so that they are unable to break their rock prison. "Trapped in their graves, the vampires will eventually degenerate into dust." Yet, according to another legend, "should the stone ever be removed the vampire would walk the earth again" (Russo 38).

The Dearg-Dul is also a skilled trapper. Though both male and female variants exist in legend, the female is more cunning and more vicious. She "holds her victim captive, drains every ounce of his blood, boils it in a crimson cauldron in which she brews her special magic, and makes potions for herself that imbue her with her eternal and ageless beauty" (Maberry 96).

One enchantress (Dearg-Dul/Dearg-Due) "makes an unholy pact with a mortal man" to serve as his creative muse in exchange for eternal love. The pact is made, and the creature imprisons her lover in an underwater palace. Great songs and works of literature flow from his pen, infused with her inspiration, but no one will ever read them. The creature "drains her constant lover of all energy and vitality", taking his life-essence instead of love and "revealing this member of the species to be a kind of essential vampire." Without a tear of farewell, she casts his withered corpse to the side and hunts again for a new "eternal love" (Maberry 95).

Sources:
Maberry, Jonathan. Vampire Universe: The Dark World of Supernatural Beings…
Russo, Arlene. Vampire Nation.

14 March 2010

Batvamp

"Look at Dracula, squint a bit, and you see the Batman." --O'Neil



After sunset, Batman emerges from his lair. Outside of the law, he rounds up his enemies. Dressed in a black cape, he soars through the night sky. He is the Batman, a gothic creature who lurks in the streets of the city as the "popularized image of the bat." The development of Batman, "one of the most popular late twentieth-century super-heroes, (a DC Comics character) . . . must be credited", in some extent, "to Dracula, the 1897 book by Bram Stoker." Similarities between the two characters are undeniable. But, for the most part, Batman is "a human hero with human resources" (Melton 39).


Traditional super-villains in the Batman comics (Joker, Two Face, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, etc) were humans who befell tragedy. However, Batman also encountered vampires throughout the decades. The first vampire appeared in 1939 in a two-part story in issues No. 31 and No. 32 of the Detective Comics. In that story, a vampire took "control of Bruce Wayne's girlfriend, unaware that Wayne was Batman." Batman tracked the vampire "to his home in Hungary, which was also the home of his allies, the werewolves. Batman eventually found the vampire and his vampire bride asleep and killed them with a silver bullet fired into the coffins" (Melton 38-9).


"Batman's next encounter with a vampire, Gustav Decobra, occurred in the January 1976 Detective Comics (No. 455). Stranded by car trouble, Bruce Wayne and his butler Alfred entered a seemingly deserted house only to find a coffin in the center of the living room. As they searched the house, the vampire emerged from the coffin. After Wayne saw the vampire, he changed into Batman. In the ensuing fight, Batman rammed a stake into the vampire's chest. However, this did no good because Decobra had cleverly hidden his heart elsewhere. . . By the time of their next confrontation, [Batman] figured out that Decobra had hidden his heart in the grandfather clock at the house. When Batman impaled the heart with an arrow, Decobra died" (Melton 39).


Another character, Man-Bat, also brings vampires into the story of Batman, although he is not originally a vampire bat. "In 1982, immediately after the conclusion of the first episode with Man-Bat, where he was cured of the condition that had turned him into a bat, Batman. . . now squared off against vampires again. An unsuspecting Robin was captured by his girlfriend, Dala, who turned out to be a vampire. . . Robin was bitten and then allowed to escape. Because the only way to save Robin was with a serum made from the vampire's blood, Batman went after the vampires. Unsuccessful in his first encounter, Batman was bitten and also became a vampire." In a second confrontation, "he was able to obtain the necessary ingredients to return himself and Robin to normalcy" (Melton 39).


The next encounter with a vampire involves "an altogether different Batman" (Melton 39). "As Batman crusaded for good causes, he also showed his darker side, which found its ultimate expression in a trilogy of graphic novels published between 1991 and 1998. . . DC had toyed with this idea before, but writer Doug Moench and horror artist Kelley Jones grabbed it by the throat and drained all the juice out of it in three increasingly outrageous Elseworld books: Red Rain (1991), Bloodstorm (1994), and Crimson Mist (1998)" (Daniels 173). In these stories, "vampires were a major threat and Batman turned vampire to stop Dracula" (Greenberger 34).


In the first book, Batman heroically battles Dracula, "but ends up infected by vampirism". In the second book, "when readers might have expected a fortuitous cure, the hero turns predator; in a story full of blood puncture wounds, both Batman and Catwoman end up impaled and destroyed. This looked like the end of the story, but in the third book Batman was revived as a loathsome, putrescent monster, ravenous to ravage all his old enemies before finally giving up the ghost himself. Conjuring up some of the most disturbing images in Batman comics or any others, Jones provided a graphic demonstration of what Bruce Wayne might have become if he had chosen vengeance rather than justice as his guide. "It's a pretty vicious story," said Jones. "Like a three-act opera, it ends in tragedy" (Daniels 173).


Batman is a cultural icon, who combines elements of darkness with social morals, into a creature that terrifies and seduces. Like Dracula, he is able to adopt a guise that allows him to blend in with humans; however, in the dark, he stands outside of normal society. Batman can easily transform from a super-hero into a super-villain; however, unlike Dracula, he most frequently chooses the path of heroism, even sacrificing himself for humanity.


I ask this: Would Batman fight a super-villain called Malaria? I think he might.


Sources:
Daniels, Les. Batman the Complete History.
Greenberger, Robert. The Essential Batman Encyclopedia.
Melton, John. The Vampire Book.
Yug. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bat-shadow.svg [Image, Note: this is not the official Batman logo, which is copyrighted]

02 March 2010

Home is where you hang your cape

If a man's home is his castle, then a vampire's castle is his home. Hardly a vampire story passes into fiction without the description of a palace, mansion, or some grandiose house.

Who can forget Jonathan Harker's first sight of Castle Dracula?

"Suddenly, I became conscious of the fact that the driver was in the act of pulling up the horses in the courtyard of a vast ruined castle, from whose tall black windows came no ray of light, and whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the moon-lit sky" (Stoker 13).

Gone is the time of the folkloric revenant, who passed daylight hours in a water-logged caves or crawled from the graveyard beds at first signs of night. Nowadays, even the vegetarian vampires have a veritable palace, albeit it's made largely of glass, which won't help at all to hide their sparkly skin in the noon-day sun. On the plus side, it's easy to see a mob of angry villagers with torches and processional crosses approaching.

But, before the Cullens decided to prettify vampire imagery, the residence of the vampire was depicted as large, dark, and well-secured. Anne Rice describes countless mansions, palaces, and island fortresses that serve as nighttime dwellings for her immortal characters. The castle may change according to the standard of the time, but her vampires often live well. At times, the image of the vampire is nearly inseparable from the spooky fortress that encloses him.

Even one of the oldest of vampire fictions, Varney the Vampire, touts a large manor as an important issue to the vampire. I'd like to be more specific with this example, but I am not able to wade through the bloated dialogue of that ridiculously long penny-dreadful looking for an acceptable quote to back my claim, at the moment. So, take my word for it, or read it yourself.

"Why is Ana so busy?" You may ask...and inevitably someone will.

I'd like to respond, "Writing little blog articles to explain the intricacies of vampiric existence is not the most entertaining or important use of my time", but I should refrain. So, I will tell you that relocation has rendered me too busy to re-read the melodramatic series in the hope of finding the source of the vampire castle. Yes, I have relocated, and that is precisely my point.

You see, castles are horribly impractical for the vampire. Limelight living is not something for which vampires aspire. Let's face it, ostentatious dwellings draw attention. I know. We've all met Sunday drivers who decide to pass their time gawking at and yearning for the homes of the rich as they drive two miles per hour through residential streets. Who wants this sort of attention? Frankly, I don't.

Anyway, once a vampire has hung around the neighborhood long enough, the locals will notice strange habits and feel snubbed by the repetitious refusal of dinner party invitations. All this doesn't even consider the expected life-cycle of a human. Moving away for half a century only to return, claiming to be the grandchild and namesake of the previous occupant, won't work. Why?--paperwork.

Boil it all down, and I'd prefer a cozy little crypt over a palace. But, since graveyards are full of decaying bodies, I'll settle for an inconspicuous little hovel with thick walls and a low security deposit--just in case I have to skip town in a hurry.

Oh, and obliging landlords with few questions certainly make things easier.

Greetings,
Ana

01 March 2010

Night Vision

"According to Abraham Van Helsing, the voice of authority on vampires in Dracula, the vampire can see in the dark" (Melton 755). This little perk of vampirism comes in handy as the blood-drinker lurks in a shadowy recess waiting for his prey to stumble by him.

Vampiric night vision is a logical assumption, "because vampires [are] nocturnal creatures who [move] freely in the darkness of the evening hours" (755). In order to feel comfortable and secure a creature should be able to use all available senses, so a vampire must be able to see at night. But, let's be honest, you can see at night, too. You just can't see very well.

Nocturnal creatures cannot perceive an environment that is totally dark, either, unless they employ another means of navigation. The bat, for instance, uses sonar. The viper utilizes infrared. Often the vampire is compared to both of these creatures, but can a vampire truly see when the world is devoid of light?

Before we continue further, I will admit that I have rather poor eyesight. I mean, it's probably still better than yours, but I shouldn't brag. Once again, I am an unreliable source of information. My eyes are not equipped with infrared sensors, x-ray emitters, or sonar receivers...but, I really wish that they were; that'd be cool.

Anyway, let's examine what fiction and folklore have to say. Then, we'll discuss the scenario as I...ahem...see it.

In folklore, vampires emerge at night, and in some tales cannot withstand the solar rays. However, vampires are rarely afforded a narrative voice in folklore, and we cannot assume that they possess heightened night-vision just because they are nocturnal.

So, we'll turn to fiction. Certainly, Stoker bestows keen nocturnal sight on his undead characters. Human narrators describe dark scenes through which the vampire navigates flawlessly. In more modern fiction, nearly always vampires are ascribed preternatural sight, including powerful night-vision.

Nina Auerbach points out that Rice's vampires "do little, but they are superb spectators. When they are not killing, they flex their highly developed vampire sight" (154). Not only do Rice's vampires see well in very low light, but they also see well in illuminated scenes. Louis notes how his vision changes--he sees the world through new, vampiric eyes--when he transforms from human to vampire. Armand, as Amadeo, records how lights glow brighter after his death, and paintings seem to come alive. Colors are also bolder, and patterns are more distinguished.

When I argue with Anne Rice, readers of my blog become disgruntled. You'll be happy to know that I'm not contradicting your vampire-guru author...well, I'm not contradicting her overtly, anyway. Vampiric vision relies on acute perception, which is sensing and mentally translating the environment, instead of sonar, infrared, or any other seemingly magical catalyst of night vision. Vampires are nocturnal and are therefore more accustomed to the dark version of the world than diurnal humans. Looming shadows fail to startle the vampire, who realizes that they are nothing more than inanimate objects. Small movements register sharply in the peripherals of the vampire's vision, and he knows to react to these tremors.

So, does a vampire have night vision? Of course, he does. And, unlike you, he understands what he sees.


See you soon,
Ana

Note: Hey, it could be worse. I could have babbled on about the natural bleaching of rods and cones and the regeneration cycles of cells...just think about that.

Sources:
Auerbach, Nina. Our Vampires.
Melton, J Gordon. Vampire Book.

14 February 2010

So, you're in love with a vampire?

Dear human,

I've told you countless times that vampires don't love you as anything other than a tasty treat. I'll be honest: I don't care if you believe me. Your propensity to cling to the romantic notions perpetuated by vampire fiction makes my continued existence just a little bit cushier. After all, dinner is so much easier to woo if it thinks that you mean no harm. So, why do I insist on extinguishing your dreams of vampire romance? I guess it's because I prefer to play with my food, but I don't always like it when my food plays back.

Now that I've cleared the air, I'm going to tell you what you really want to know...
(I know that you do, because it is the most asked...and therefore the most ignored...question that I receive)

How can I attract a vampire?

Really, you don't need to do anything other than be human. Your little beating heart, your warm blood, and your sweet life will be enough, should a vampire be lurking around. But, how can you make him (or her) pick you over all the other little lamb chops in the market?

Rules for attracting a vampire (as defined by Ana)
1. Be disease free.
This is a no-brainer, right? You don't like tainted food, either...Do I have to mention the swine flu (if I hear H1N1 one more time...bah), the pandemic bird flu, or mad cow disease? So...wear a condom, don't drink each other's blood in vampire role-play, and, for everyone's sake, wash your hands.

2. Eat well, and eat often.
I like my food well fed. Forget pale, skinny, and generally undernourished specimens. That look may be all the rage with Twilight lovers, but real vampires like a meal with a little meat to it...even if liquids are preferred over steak. It should go without saying, but eat healthy food...please (I must really mean it if I bothered to write 'please').

3. Don't ask a lot of stupid questions.
No one likes that about you.

4. Stop whining.
Bella, Elena, and Sookie have the whiny-little-human down pat. Come whining to me, and our relationship will last less than ten-seconds...five if Lucius is around.

5. (On the same note) Don't be bossy.

Let your elders do the bossing. Seriously, if you don't want to be told what to do, then avoid relationships with vampires...like I told you to do in the first place.

6. Be interesting.
This is harder than it sounds. I've met a lot of people; most are dull. I've seen a lot of things; most are ordinary. I've heard a lot of remarks; most have been said before. If you want a vampire to take interest in you, then give him something in which to be interested.

That's it. That's how you attract a vampire. Curiously enough, all of those seduction techniques also work on humans. So, why don't you just go and get yourself one of your own kind? ...at least until a vampire decides to take you out for a quick bite.

Finally, I'm sure that you want to know why I tell you all this...
It's Valentine's Day, that's why. And, I'm a firm believer that Valentine's Day just isn't the same without a little bloodshed.

Pucker up,
Ana

10 February 2010

Eat dirt

"[W]e call ourselves vegetarians," Edward says ominously (Meyer 188).

We've all heard the jokes (or made them); they're impossible to resist. There is a moment when you tilt your head to the side, scowl, and speak out loud to the character: "Edward, dear, Bambi is not a vegetable."

However, taxonomic confusion is not the point of this tirade. A question has been raised repeatedly. Can vampires feed on animal blood?

For my answer, I will pilfer the dialogue of Edward Cullen...again. "If someone dared you to eat dirt, you could, couldn't you?" (Meyer 207). Add in the condescending tone for authenticity's sake, and then contemplate the following. A vampire can consume animals, just as you can consume human blood. But, the ability to ingest a substance does not equip that product to be a diet staple.

Before you panic and ask a load of questions, I will pause and address this one: Can humans drink blood? My answer is: Yes, of course they can. Many do. Now, I don't know whether or not drinking blood makes a human sick. Certainly, I've seen humans vomit after consuming blood, but this may very well be the result of a mental reaction to consuming a taboo substance. I don't know, but I don't suggest doing it. You already know that I'm wary about the spread of disease; consequently, I've never explored the subject of human consumption of blood in a scientific manner. Ask someone else.

Now, I'll refer you back to my point. A human can drink blood, but that doesn't mean that a human can live by consuming blood alone. It lacks the nutritional value that humans receive from a varied diet. Humans are omnivores. Vampires are sanguivores...not vegetarians. Humans are generalized (not strictly adapted). Vampires are specialized (physiologically adapted to a specific function). While a vampire may derive some sustaining value from animal blood, it lacks the specialized ingredients that the vampire needs.

The staple of the vampiric diet is human blood. Live with it or die by it. It really doesn't matter to me. But, if you keep asking me to try a diet of animal blood, then I will insist that you try a diet of dirt and see how you fare.

Bah,
Ana


Sources:
Meyer, Stephenie. Twilight. Little, Brown and Company 2006.

Vegetable Art. [Photo]
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_YRHyDLnGwC4/SSyVli9wscI/AAAAAAAAAe4/sWpN31GZGk4/s1600-h/vegetable_art%2520%288%29.jpg

23 January 2010

Faster than the human eye

Flurrying fingers script the newest stories. Vampire fictions explode from the presses, and novels pile up in bookstores. Tales of blood drinkers are spun rapidly in unrelenting succession. The question is: Can vampires keep up?

Before innumerable writers invaded the genre, one novelist pumped out vampire novels, and she did so at a tolerable rate. Those days are gone, and there is no hope for a mortal to read every page written about vampire lore (prove me wrong; I dare you), but could a vampire? According to Anne Rice, vampires "read at preternatural speed", but such proficiency is to be expected, since her undead creatures tend to sprint faster than the human eye can follow (Armand 386). And, if a vampire can move faster than a human, then it's logical assume that he can read faster, too.

But, how fast are vampires, anyway? Marius' claim to "travel so fast that the world itself become a blur" is surely an exaggeration (169). Isn't it? Rice consistently raises the idea that vampires move quickly, swiftly, and abruptly. It's startling.

In the video version of Interview with a Vampire, Daniel pitifully asks "How did you do that?", referring to Louis' speed. "The same way you do it. A series of simple gestures," Louis answers with astonishing accuracy. "Only I moved too fast for you to see. I'm flesh and blood, you see," he continues. He's only flesh and blood?...I'd buy that. But, he claims to move faster than a human can perceive…Well, at least he doesn't dawdle.

Isn't that a terrifying thought?--A silent, invisible killer who brings death with a bite. If only I could get my hands on one of those vicious blood-drinkers.

Sere,
Ana

Sources:
Rice, Anne. The Vampire Armand, Interview with the Vampire, & Blood and Gold.

07 January 2010

Stake your life on it

In this exposition, I generally steer clear of certain topics. Chief among the taboo subjects is: How to kill a vampire. Having said that, I would like to discuss the stake.

"What brought about this change of heart?" you may ask. Others among you may be angered that I am exposing such a delicate subject. Let's face it: the idea that staking a vampire will kill him (permanently) is not a hidden secret. "The most well-known way to kill a vampire" is to stake "it in the heart", so we're all familiar with this morbid practice (Melton 645).

However, you may not know the history or extent of staking. "The idea of staking the corpse of a suspected vampire or revenant was quite an ancient practice. It was found across Europe and originated in an era prior to the widespread use of coffins" (Melton 645). Presumably, these ancient people had trouble keeping track of their corpses. Vacant tombs were attributed to vile, demonic forces because it was more reasonable that an unseen evil had kidnapped a body than that wild animals had eaten someone's beloved. The practice of staking the bodies of "persons suspected of returning from their graves" was developed "as a means of keeping them attached to the ground" (Melton 645). You might note that in the ancient legends, the stake did not destroy the vampire, it simply restrained it.

"Once coffins were in popular use, the purpose of staking changed somewhat. Where previously the object of the staking was to fix the body to the ground, the purpose of the staking became a frontal assault upon the corpse itself." Instead of restraining the vampire to his grave, the goal become to rid the world of the vampire. In Bram Stoker's famous story, Dracula, the idea of staking a vampire to terminate its existence is seen in the destruction of Lucy. "Lucy's three suitors and Van Helsing enter the undead Lucy's tomb and truly kill her, driving a stake through her heart..."(Dracula xvi). Eventually, the practice was prescribed as a preemptive strike against a possible revenant. "By attacking the heart, the organ that pumped the blood, the bloodsucking vampire could be killed" (Melton 645).

So, does it work? I won't say.
But, I will warn you of this:
While you may not land a lucky strike with a pointed stick, a vampire can quite easily slay you with the same weapon you drive against him.

Sources:
Melton, J. The Vampire Book
Stoker, Bram. Dracula.