Hollywood Forever

Hollywood Forever Cemetery,
Los Angeles, CA

Hollywood Forever is in the shadow of the famous Hollywood sign, and neighbor to Paramount Studio. It is a beautiful place filled with interesting graves, famous graves, beautiful stained glass, and a lot of surprises. The surprises include a colony of cats and peacocks.

Unfortunately today was HOT, and a movie was being filmed, plus there were several funerals so we didn’t get to tour the entire grounds. What we saw was super interesting. Due to the pandemic it was also lacking in tourists today.

I managed a few photos to share. Enjoy.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Guest Post: The Famous ‘House Special’

The Famous ‘House Special’

Written by A. J. Alexander

A while ago, back in Europe, when I was traveling with a friend, I went for dinner to a restaurant that belonged to a very nice Italian couple. It was in Rome.

You know, when you go to European restaurants, there are these eight-to-ten people tables for tourists, where they place you on, and unless the table is filled up, you won’t get served.

My friend and I had a lot of fun. I don’t belong to the people who always want to eat steak and fries or fish and chips wherever they go. I’d like to know what a country has to offer me. And here it was the same thing.

Confidently I told the waiter, I want to have the ‘house special,’ no matter what it is. He was a bit surprised and asked carefully, “Are you sure?” I confirmed that I was, indeed, very sure.

He brought us soup and salad ahead; then, the entrees were served. My friend got steak and fries, and I got the ‘house special’… it was a bird, a tiny bird. It was lying there, all by itself, on a small white plate.

The little head hung halfway over the plate; one of its eyes was open, one closed, beak, feet, and claws were still entirely there.

So far, I have always taken on every challenge I had accepted, even the ones to myself. But in that particular case, the question was not, would I really go through with this? The question was, “How?”

There is something we all can learn from American ‘Haute Cuisine’… One can eat everything imaginable on Earth, no matter what it is, provided it fits in a bun.

I, therefore, clipped the poor bird’s head between its legs, pressed it a bit flat, took two pieces of white bread, stuffed the bird in between, and started eating. At that point, the conversations in the restaurant had lapsed into almost complete silence, interrupted only by the occasional embarrassed cough. At that point, even my friend didn’t say anything, which I gave her great credit for.

Now, the way things are, as soon as our nutrition passes the stomach, it reaches a, let’s say, ‘portal,’ which allows it to enter the intestinal system. When my portal saw, what was on its way, it immediately shut down. The ‘house special,’ from that moment on, laid there like a stone in my stomach, and started festering.

That chemical process developed resulting gases, which pressed stomach acid back through the ‘cardia,’ the stomach entrance, into the esophagus. A doctor, in that case, would talk about ‘gastroesophageal reflux’; we would typically call it heartburn – or pyrosis.

Try to picture now tiny, about pinhead-sized gas clouds, which are racing upwards, passing the uprising stomach acid towards the exit, in our case, my mouth, where they made themselves noticeable in the form of diminutive burbs.

The combination of these gases with oxygen apparently became an overly aggressive mix that made my friend tell me: “Wwwwoooow… if my eyes wouldn’t tell me for sure that I’m not wrong, I would almost think, you’re dead – for about three weeks.” I sat there, slowly blowing up. At the next chance, I asked the waiter: “Do you, by any chance, have something like a digestive juice?” He looked at me and nodded understandingly. “The ‘house special,’ right?” He then brought me something that looked, smelled, and tasted like a septic tank. I drank that stuff in only two big swallows.

And then, suddenly, all portals in and on my body opened – simultaneously!

That liquid was clearly familiar to the bird because that animal immediately started running. I started running too… as a result, we got to the restroom almost at the same time…

I’ll save you all the gory details of the following happenings – but let’s say we didn’t plan to eat there again anyway.

~ end

(This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.)

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Aurora Jean Alexander is the author of Demon Tracker. She also runs the blog Writer’s Treasure Chest – A blog for authors, about authors, written by an author. Check it out for interesting author interviews, books, and more about the art of writing.

Aurora Jean is one of my oldest and dearest blogging friends. I’m happy to share her work today. As some of you recall she also wrote the popular Short Story Sunday – Tangled Tales featured story: Bernie Showers in France.

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~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Tangled Tales

Short Story Sunday: Bernie Showers in France

Bernie Showers in France

A short story by Aurora Jean Alexander

Bernie Watson, a self-acclaimed womanizer, always wanted to see Paris. One day he managed to travel to France after tediously scraping up the money he needed for the trip. In his imagination, Bernie saw himself sitting in the first class, sipping champagne and enjoying movies, a beautiful woman next to him. He was dreaming about standing on the balcony of a 5-star hotel with a breathtaking view over the city until he could see the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe from far.

Reality looked a bit different. Bernie found himself in the middle row of economy, helplessly jammed between an angry tourist at the end of his vacation and a permanently eating eighty-year-old on the other side, with an ancient Pekinese on her lap.

When he arrived at the hotel, he found that the two-star hotel he had made reservations, was even older than he had suspected from the pictures. It was located in the most run-down quarter of the city. Bernie now wasn’t the most hygiene-fanatic on Earth, but after a trip of roughly 9 hours in an airplane, he still felt the need to shower. Usually, he would have used baby wipes to clean the worst, but they had removed them at the customs; the heavy accent of the man explaining the reason made it impossible for Bernie to understand, and he didn’t know where to buy them in France.

He undressed and stood in front of the mirror, looking at his body with appreciation. He didn’t see the pale, almost sick-looking skin that hadn’t seen the sun in the past forty-five years, the slightly protruding stomach, the flat ass, and the wobbly arms which all showed that he hadn’t seen a gym from up close for decades. Also, he didn’t see the missing hair on his lower chest that made his torso look like he was regularly wearing a bra…. But he found himself very attractive, and to him, that was enough, after all, only his own opinion was important.

He climbed into the shower cabin and found himself facing an old construction with two faucets, on one it said C, which he immediately concluded was ‘cold,’ while the other one said F, which he figured, must be the opposite… hot, or (f)arm with a typo… he was in France, after all.

Full of energy, he turned the ‘Farm’ and found himself showered with an icy stream of brown lava… as it was normal in an old building in Europe when the water fuses had not been used for a while.

Immediately ‘Louis XIV,’ his Sun King, resentfully withdrew into his hunting lodge… Bernie, of course, caressed his little king, knowing he had to be careful… after all, he was utterly dependent on his Sun King’s moods.

He, therefore, mixed himself a decently comfortable water temperature and continued showering… until someone in another room flushed the toilet…

In these old hotels, this process had an immediate effect on the water temperature by removing the complete cold water from Bernie’s shower within nanoseconds… He found himself in the boiling hot shower cabin. The door which had only jammed from the outside was impossible to open from the inside. Also, he had no idea that the re-fill of an old toilet tank in a two-hundred-year-old hotel room needed about 25 minutes.

Bernie, while having the hot brownish lava pelted onto his head, he realized, he had only one hand to turn off both faucets! With the other hand, he had to protect his Sun King as well as possible! Because in this country, where he was unable to speak the language, he would not be able to talk someone into helping him with his injured, burned sun king…

 

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(This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.)

aurora_2020_demontracker_ebook_150

Aurora Jean Alexander is the author of Demon Tracker. She also runs the blog Writer’s Treasure Chest – A blog for authors, about authors, written by an author. Check it out for interesting author interviews, books, and more about the art of writing.

Aurora Jean is one of my oldest and dearest blogging friends. I’m happy to share her work today.

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~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Tangled Tales

Bad Dogs

Vampire Maman

A few nights ago…

I was camping in the Arizona desert with a few friends under the dark sky with stars unlike what we see at home.

Sleep, as always, was somewhere else. I always figure Sleep is hanging out at a bar somewhere flirting with a beautiful blonde and not thinking of me. He doesn’t care.

But, that said, for a few fleeting moments I fell into a slumber. I dreamed of two men with long brooms sweeping in a world made of blue light. Then the blue changed to black and white, like a vintage cartoon, and I watched a small naked man climb on rocks. He turned from a cave man type character to a Japanese man, then he morphed into a wolf.

I woke and went outside under the stars. In the distance someone was setting off bottle rockets of green and red. If I’d been…

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Juliette’s Book Club: Expanding Your Horizons

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“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.”
Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

 

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My daughter called me to ask if I’d ever read Desert Solitaire by Edward Abby.

It was on a list of about 125 books from one of her classes. She had to choose one. All had to do with environmental issues and/or political issues with the environment. Also on the list were Silent Spring by Rachael Carson, A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, and Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez.

Yes, I have read all of them. Everyone should read all of them. I told my child to read all of them.

Then she said, “Mom, I only have to read one.”

“Then read Desert Solitare. That book changes lives. They all do, but read that one first.”

Then we talked about our trip to Arches National Park a few years ago. I told her how much the surrounding area and Moab have changed since Edward Abby wrote his classic book.

Desert Solitaire is a collection of treatises and autobiographical excerpts describing Abbey’s experiences as a park ranger and wilderness enthusiast in 1956 and 1957. The opening chapters, First Morning and Solitaire, focus on the author’s experiences arriving at and creating a life within Arches National Monument. In this early period the park is relatively undeveloped: road access and camping facilities are basic, and there is a low volume of tourist traffic.

Desert Solitaire depicts Abbey’s preoccupation with the deserts of the American Southwest. He describes how the desert affects society and more specifically the individual on a multifaceted, sensory level.

“A man could be a lover and defender of the wilderness without ever in his lifetime leaving the boundaries of asphalt, powerlines, and right-angled surfaces. We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. We need a refuge even though we may never need to set foot in it. We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope; without it the life of the cities would drive all men into crime or drugs or psychoanalysis.”
Edward Abbey

 

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I have started reading Horizon by Barry Lopez (author of Arctic Dreams.)
So far it has been a book that is hard for me to put down.

From the National Book Award-winning author of the now-classic Arctic Dreams, a vivid, poetic, capacious work that recollects the travels around the world and the encounters–human, animal, and natural–that have shaped an extraordinary life.

 

This Book Club isn’t so much about what I’ve read, but about what I’m reading now, or will be reading soon. Like most of you, I have a big stack of to-read books, as well as a long list of to-read books.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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The Quiet Beauty of the Dead: Colma Part 2

A few years ago (2016) I visited the city of Colma, where almost everyone is dead. Seriously, over a million graves are there with less than 2,000 living in residence. There are no cemeteries in San Francisco – they were all moved to Colma. People and pets are still buried there to this day.

The photos were taken by my friend Amelia who joined Clara and I for the day. Thank you Amelia. These are lovely.

Click here for Part 1.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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