Oprah Winfrey – Rags to Riches

Oprah Gail Winfrey was born on January 29, 1954 in rural Kosciuko Mississippi, on a farm. Within thirty years, she was in Chicago to take over “A.M. Chicago”, a talk show that was losing ratings and basically, in danger of becoming canceled. And in less than three months, Oprah had turned the show around so much that it was ‘neck to neck’ with Phil Donahue in ratings. How did she do it? How did this Black female born of unmarried parents, whose father was a soldier (later, a barber) and mother a house maid, become the first Black billionaire and one of the most influential people of any race, of all time? How did she rise from her poor rural Southern roots to the stellar heights she occupies in the business world today?

One of the first challenges Oprah ever faced was overcoming several issues during her childhood: illegitimacy, poverty, sexual abuse, and social deviance. After being sent by her struggling mother to live with her father, a strict disciplinarian, young Oprah’s life was turned around and she became more serious about her education. She also realized, after winning $500 for a speech at a Black church at the age of 12, that she wanted to ‘get paid to talk’. Oprah was chosen leader of the student council, got good grades, was a member of the drama club (she wanted to become an actress), and at age 16 won an oratory contest sponsored by the Elks Club. The prize? A full scholarship to Tennessee State University, where Oprah flourished.

She was offered a job by a local CBS affiliate, twice turning them down until a professor urged her to consider otherwise. As a mere junior in college, Oprah became the first Black woman in Nashville to co-anchor the evening news.

Oprah’s next challenge was turning around the dying show “A.M. Chicago”. Between 1977 and 1984, when Oprah moved to Chicago to revitalize the show, her career took off exponentially. She did local news updates during the show “Good Morning, America” as well as co-hosting “Baltimore is Talking”, a morning show where she remained for seven years until being wooed away by an ABC affiliate in Chicago to breathe life into the show “A.M. Chicago”.

When she left “Baltimore is Talking”, the ratings for that show were higher than Phil Donahue’s. Using Barbara Walters as a role model, Oprah turned “A.M. Chicago” around within a month, finally edging out Phil Donahue in three short months. By 1985, the show had been renamed “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. Oprah made improvements to the show by ceasing the use of cue cards and prepared scripts; she also was genuine, reacting sincerely to guests by sharing their miseries before a television audience (though her tears had brought forth a negative reaction when she worked as a co-anchor and reporter for the ABC affiliate in Baltimore, for Oprah was prone to crying along with the victims she interviewed).

Oprah with Beloved co-star Thandie Newton

Oprah’s recent venture has been her cable network, OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). It has been beset with issues ranging from clashes of egos to low ratings, and an executive revolving door. Sources claim that Oprah was not present during many crucial points in the channel’s start up, as she was determined to make sure that the Oprah Winfrey Show ‘went out with a bang’. Others state that the channel was launched far too early, meaning that not enough planning went into it. “The Rosie Show”, one of OWN’s programs, lasted just six months. Rosie O’Donnell is said to have battled things out with Oprah’s production team (some of which was overheard by show guests), and while O’Donnell may have had successful shows in the past, this one bit the dust early, never rising above 185,000 viewers. Undoubtedly, OWN is one of the biggest challenges of Oprah’s life and one she must be determined to salvage. In order to do this, Oprah is going to have to take a personal approach, either by launching a new show of which she is the hostess, or being involved before the cameras (and not just as a producer) in some way. In fact, executives of Discovery stated that viewer ratings are growing now that Oprah has become involved personally in some of the channels’ programs.

Winfrey endorsed presidential candidate Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, the first time she endorsed a political candidate running for office. Winfrey held a fundraiser for Obama on September 8, 2007, at her Santa Barbara estate. In December 2007, Winfrey joined Obama for a series of rallies in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. The Columbia, South Carolina, event on December 9, 2007, drew a crowd of nearly 30,000, the largest for any political event of 2007. An analysis by two economists at the University of Maryland, College Park estimated that Winfrey’s endorsement was responsible for between 420,000 and 1,600,000 votes for Obama in the Democratic primary alone, based on a sample of states that did not include Texas, Michigan, North Dakota, Kansas, or Alaska. The results suggest that in the sampled states, Winfrey’s endorsement was responsible for the difference in the popular vote between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, reported being so impressed by Winfrey’s endorsement that he considered offering Winfrey Obama’s vacant senate seat, describing Winfrey as “the most instrumental person in electing Barack Obama president”, with “a voice larger than all 100 senators combined”. Winfrey responded by stating that although she was absolutely not interested, she did feel she could be a senator.

Winfrey was named as the 2008 Person of the Year by animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for using her fame and listening audience to help the less fortunate, including animals. PETA praised Winfrey for using her talk show to uncover horrific cases of cruelty to animals in puppy mills and on factory farms, and Winfrey even used the show to highlight the cruelty-free vegan diet that she tried. Winfrey also refuses to wear fur or feature it in her magazine. In 2009, Winfrey filmed a series of interviews in Denmark highlighting its citizens as the happiest people in the world. In 2010, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News criticized these shows for promoting a left-wing society. On using the N-word, Winfrey said, “You cannot be my friend and use that word around me. … I always think of the…people who heard that as their last word as they were hanging from a tree.” – Wikipedia

Several years ago, Oprah Winfrey founded a school for girls in South Africa that was built using $40 million dollars of her own money. It is called the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy and is located in Johannesburg – the first 152 girls to attend were handpicked by Oprah herself. The girls come from families with incomes of less than $700 monthly, and while many critics argued that the school itself was ‘too luxurious’ – china in the canteen, pleated skirts on the uniforms, a yoga center, beauty salon, and theaters both indoors and out – Oprah defended her choices, stating that “These girls deserve to be surrounded by beauty, and beauty does inspire.”

In addition to the Academy, Oprah also formed the Seven Fountains Primary school, also located in South Africa, in the town of KwaZulu-Natal, in 2007 through her Angel Network. Boys are allowed to attend this school along with girls, and more than 1,000 students have their lives enriched by attending the school, which serves as a model for learning throughout the African continent.

Oprah motivates people, particularly women. She has a very strong work ethic and isn’t afraid to shoulder more than her fair share in order to accomplish goals. She isn’t fearful of dreaming big – she started Harpo Productions in 1986 (Oprah in reverse, though her actual name was Orpah, misspelled and mispronounced in her early life as ‘Oprah’), only a year after the ‘Oprah Winfrey Show’ had been on the air – and she picks out the best people to work with. She has chosen great mentors, she demonstrates a nurturing, caring persona, and has a definite social conscious. She does not “yell at, mistreat, or talk down” to people.

Oprah obviously values her audience (just watch a segment of the ‘Oprah Winfrey Show’ to see this in action), she has been known to reward her employees lavishly, as well keeping her brand focused and communicating to all of her vision. And in more than 25 years of taping her show, Oprah was never late once nor ever absent. That is not only dedication and focus, it is inspiring behavior and extremely smart.

The Angel Network, a charity foundation started by Oprah in 1998, has raised millions for schools, training, building projects, and other deserving needs around the world. Oprah is especially dedicated to improving the lot of women and children through education and learning to help others. Her Angel Network (since dissolved) built 60 schools in 13 countries; and viewers personally raised $70 million dollars for charitable causes.

Oprah also strives to provide quality programming, rather than just ‘trashy’ talk & reality shows. There came a time in Oprah’s life as a talk show host where she realized that inviting such people as skinheads, mass murderers, and porn stars onto her show was not benefiting anybody. She decided right then to only provide shows, and have guests on her show, that could ‘give something back’ to the studio and television audiences. This is what her vision is today for the OWN network.

Oprah Winfrey for President?

America’s Post Civil War Growing Pains

In many ways, the post Civil War era was a highly constructive one in American history. Yet in plenty of other ways, there were abundant setbacks in society and culture, particularly in the devastated South. Let’s examine some measures in which several turning points occurred for the advancement of American economic, political, and societal strength; but also look closely at the diverse manners in which cultural, social, political and economic reversals hurt tremendously.

Historical turning points that had a positive effect on American society, economics, culture and politics were profuse and varied. The Industrial Revolution and several breakthroughs in technology most assuredly were two of the most important events in the history of the United States, after the end of the Civil War. The Industrial Revolution saw rapid changes in the ways things were done: there was the invention of the light bulb (the first one was actually invented by an English scientist by the name of Humphrey in 1800), though Thomas Edison developed a filament in which a bulb could give more than 40 hours of burning time; and the telegraph machine by Samuel Morse in 1835, which he improved upon nine years later.

The division between the classes became much clearer. There was noticeable disparity between the rich, the middle classes, and the working poor. Incomes rose but the crowding in urban communities led to unsanitary conditions, so while it could be argued that the American standard of living was made better, it other ways it was made much worse.
Many cities and towns became more urban. Industrialization, while far more widespread in the North, down to the South and even out West. This affected the life of the average American worker both negatively and positively. Factories employed women and children as well as men, and workers had to face often harsh working conditions, using equipment that could be dangerous more often than not, with short breaks and very long working hours (often up to fourteen hours a day). However, rapid industrialization meant jobs, and thus people were able to find employment fairly easily to support themselves and their families. Unfortunately, capitalists grew richer while laborers in their factories, on their railroads and other businesses, remained poor.

Two historical turning points have had an impact on current society, economics, culture and politics One was the innovation of practices in legal, business, and financial. Corporations were allowed to merge with and acquire other businesses; corporate officers were allowed to sell their stock on the open market (thus allowing investors to become ‘part owners’ of a company); and syndicates were established by powerful men such as J. Pierpont Morgan and Jay Gould, in which enormous amounts of capital could be pooled to fund start ups and promising business ventures.

A second turning point was the creation of a massive consumer culture. Advertising was one significant development of the consumer marketplace – and it even included celebrity endorsements. National brands quickly capitalized on advertising, which brought such names as The National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) into American homes. Chain stores, mail order catalogs, and the availability of cheap goods at very low prices built onto consumers’ demands, and modern American consumerism was born.

There were several notable areas in which setbacks occurred during the post Civil War years. First, there was the failure of Reconstruction. President Lincoln devised a plan that was very lenient to Southern whites following the war’s end. It wasn’t until close to his death that Lincoln determined that former soldiers and educated blacks could enjoy suffrage. After his assassination at the hands of John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater in D.C., Andrew Johnson ascended to the presidency. A staunch Southerner with the racist views of his time, Johnson created his own version of Reconstruction which gave white Southerners free reign in implementing a society in which blacks had no political power. There was no true Reconstruction plan and what little there was didn’t come to pass.

Second, there was the matter of the Black Codes. Now that Southerners had  been pardoned by Johnson, thereby keeping their control of the South and holding onto their properties, they went about creating laws similar to the pre-Civil War slavery codes. These codes made it illegal for the newly freed slaves to buy or even rent farmland in Mississippi, prohibited them from serving on juries or testifying against whites in court, or marrying whites, though they were free to legally marry other blacks. These Black Codes were but a foretaste of the notorious Jim Crow Laws and would last well into the 20th Century, keeping blacks and whites separate – but not equal – in Southern society. President Johnson was not at all concerned with the status of blacks in America and did not nothing to protest the Black Codes or end them. Even though Republicans in Congress passed many bills that the president vetoed, including the Freedman’s Bureau bill, blacks remained destitute, illiterate (in Georgia, Texas, and Arkansas, only whites could attend school), and totally without power.

Federal and state legislatures often passed laws that were racist. Racial disenfranchisement in Mississippi and throughout the South prevented blacks from taking advantage of the 15th Amendment, which allowed black males the right to vote. In 1890, the ‘Second Mississippi Plan’ (the first was put into effect in 1875, conceding the use of violence and groups such as the Ku Klux Klan to keep blacks and Republicans from the polls) was conceived. This second plan, which other Southern states copied as a model for their own nefarious purposes, created legal barriers to keep blacks from voting. These barriers included the use of literacy tests, property qualifications, and the poll tax. By 1904 in Louisiana, there was a 90% decline (since 1896) in the number of registered black male voters, as a result of such laws.

In addition to laws preventing blacks from voting, there was the response of white settlers in the American West to Chinese immigrants who came to the country seeking gold and other minerals. When that failed, most Chinese immigrants ended up doing work for the railroads. By 1880, more than 200,000 Chinese immigrants had made homes in America, especially California. A ‘foreign miner’s tax’ passed in the 1850s led to most Chinese immigrants to work for the railroad industry. Being that they worked for lower wages than whites, inter-ethnic hostilities came about and when Denis Kearney, an Irish immigrant, created the Workingman’s Party in 1878, he made the issue of Chinese immigration political. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese labor immigration for ten years and prohibited Chinese already in America from becoming citizens. However, up until 1917, there were few restrictions on wealthy Chinese immigrants. In 1878, the US Supreme Court ruled that the children of immigrant Chinese born in the US were still citizens of America.

Ultimately, the post Civil War years between 1865 and 1900 were decades of growth for the young nation of America in numerous ways. The Industrial Revolution created work for thousands, which caused immigrants to arrive from Europe and China seeking work. Technology boomed. Railroads expanded. Blacks gained their freedom. Women demanded and received rights that were up till then given only to white men. The country spread westward, though at the expense of the Native tribes, and the South’s economy bounced back from the ruins of war.

On the other hand, there was political corruption – as with Tammany Hall in New York, where between 1865 and 1871, an astonishing 75 to 200 million dollars were embezzled during Boss Tweed’s reign of power – widespread discrimination against certain racial groups, such as the Chinese out West and blacks in the South – and Reconstruction failed, partially due to the assassination of Lincoln and the inability of Johnson to perform his presidential duties. However, there were far more gains than setbacks, and thus the United States was able to enter the 20th Century as an economic, cultural, political, and social powerhouse.

Gothic Musings

The following are excerpts from a vampire novel series I wrote more than a decade ago. I self-published them via Lulu, but never tried to promote them because after reading my copies, I realized that they were totally not up to caliber. That is when I decided to switch to writing screenplays instead, and I am satisfied with being a screenwriter even though it’s much harder getting started in the film industry than the publishing industry.

The Embrace

Demonic smile upon his face

Hat in hand, a cloak he’ll don

Cold arm about her supple waist

They walk among the silent crypts

Her heart pounding, his as stone

A kiss is shared, his frigid lips

Along the graveyard paths they roam

Rustle of silk on icy skin

As they carefully undress

Passion erupts from deep within

Their lips sealed in a frozen kiss

She licks his chest with sudden heat

As they lie in a grassy bed

Hands around the marble sheath

While stars explode inside her head

Pleasure as the sword slides in

A gasp of lust, a moan of doom

Her legs round his waist so thin

Crimson seed fills her warm womb

A touch of ecstasy sublime

A look of rapture on her face

Together they lie in endless time

She shivers in his white embrace


Excerpt from The Royal Blood 

     The two young couples cowered in terror at the horrifying images that capered about in the far corner of the room in which they’d been imprisoned. It had been the blond guy, Dalek’s, idea to bring their girls to the long-vacant Royal Estates and make love. At least, the two men had assumed the property was vacant. As events turned out, they were a million kilometers wrong.

     “Please don’t hurt our fiancees,” the brown-haired man, Oldra, implored them desperately.

     “Shut up,” snapped the tall, Moorish-looking man with the strange and rather frightening tattoos across his muscled chest. He easily appeared over two meters high, which put him at a distinct advantage with the two shorter men.

      Liesa, the pale, slender toffee-blonde with the light dusting of freckles across her pert nose, moved closer to her lover as the vampires edged ever nearer, most of them glaring at the mortals hatefully.

     “You humans are all alike,” one of them remarked caustically. The four scared Czechs did not understand what they were talking about, even though their captors were speaking in the mother tongue.

     Mariabella was sobbing into her small, porcelain-skinned hands, the nails of which she’d painted a dusky-pink to match her lipstick and the roses on her white lace dress. Her mink-brown hair was upswept into a stylishly sloppy ball, with tendrils hanging here and there down her creamy neck, over her sea-shell ears, and across her milky forehead. Her whiteness, as well as Liesa’s, seemed to excite their captors further.

     “We’re not going to hurt the ladies,” declared the dirty-blond guy, with an emphasis on the last word, so that they’d know just who the vampires intended to hurt.

     “We only want to know what you mortals were doing on our Estates in the first place,” one of them, a brunet who carried a faint German accent, asked them pleasantly. His deep blue eyes fixated on Liesa’s olive-green ones, causing a shiver to course along the length of her spine. There was something inherently odd about his eyes…she could see herself inside them, in the dark liquid pupils, drowning in a sea of blood and relishing in it…

     The blonde girl shook her head, trying to tear her gaze away from his, but…she was unable to. They held her rapt, much as a snake’s hypnotise the eyes of its victims. That was it! He was hypnotising her, by God!

     “We thought this was State property!” cried Dalek, his grey eyes wide with fright. He knew these young men could not be reasoned with, would never be swayed by even Liesa’s and Mariabella’s collective beauty, and he knew that he shouldn’t bother with trying to appeal to their conscience, because it was becoming increasingly obvious that none of them had any. If there was one thing on their minds, it was the torture, rape, and murder of Liesa, Mariabella, Oldra, and himself.

     “State property?” the one with the narrowed, strange-colored eyes sneered. “And since when does any of our property belong to the damn State? The Czech so-called ‘Republic’? This is nothing but a bloody, cursed pinko country, and don’t you forget it!”

     Dalek knew that if he lived to see the sun rise, he wouldn’t soon forget it, that was for certain. All he wanted was to get himself, his best friend, and their ladyloves out of this place before dawn.

     “All right. Let’s get you two guys over here, with us. Leave the young ladies by the wall.” This came from the one with the dusty-blond hair. He had rusty-brown eyes that never left the young men’s faces for a second, and he did not look very nice. In fact, he looked downright pissed off about something, possibly the fact the couples had been caught trespassing on their property, which was reputed to be haunted, among other things.

     Dalek and Oldra started to kiss their girlfriends, but the hateful man barked at them not to touch, so they reluctantly whispered words of tender encouragement and walked away. Both Liesa and Mariabella began to cry.

     “Come with me,” the narrowed-eyed man ordered them sharply, and he left the room. With another glance back at their lovers, the two men followed him without a word of disobedience. The door was slammed shut behind them, and the mean-looking blond turned to smirk at the two women, who cringed against the wall. Liesa was weeping softly into Mariabella’s shoulder. The brunette petted the blonde’s trembling hands absentmindedly.


   “You’re not going to hurt us, are you?” she practically whispered.

     “What do you think?” demanded the tall Moor, his silk shirt hanging open to reveal his manly, bronze-complected chest. She tried not to stare too hard at his tattoos.

     “P-P-Please,” she begged them, having suddenly switched to broken English. She sounded both ignorant and lovely. “Please do not hurt us! Just let us go, and we shall never come on your property again.”

     “It’s too late for this,” the dirty-blond said distantly, shaking his head as he quickly approached. “Mortals are not allowed to sully these hallowed lands. You’ve broken the ring, and now you must pay the price.”

     “W-W-What!” shrieked Liesa, her green eyes wide as saucers. “Oh, no! God, no! Please, don’t! Please, please, please…” Her sweet, girlish voice trailed off into a moan of despair as the blond man took her into his arms and dragged her over to where the dark-haired, blue-eyed vampire stood waiting, a smile on his rather wan countenance.

     Mariabella ran for the door then, self-preservation evidently foremost in her mind, but someone grabbed her from behind, and a strong masculine hand cupped over her mouth just as she started to scream. She was spun around in the immortal’s arms to face the others, who grinned wretchedly at her, revealing their sharpened, lengthened canines. She screamed then, but it was muffled by her captor’s hand, her deep chocolate eyes nearly bulging from their sockets. She kicked upwards as hard as she could, straining to escape the strong arms of the vampire, but she was too weak, and his strength too preternatural. She was no match for one of the Undead.

     Liesa had given up. She sagged in the blond’s arms like a little doll, her eyes half-closed as the dark-haired one’s leering face drew closer to her own. Then he grinned widely, revealing those awful, wicked teeth, and still she did not scream. A faint groan issued forth from her parted red lips, that was all. And only the barest of whimpers was heard when he sank his fangs into the soft, lightly perfumed skin of her neck…


Red Sorrow

What death-like groans terrify

The young girl there alone?

She sits upon an ancient tomb,

A statue made of stone.

The moonlight spills upon her,

She keeps her eyes downcast.

The wolves begin their eerie howls—

She knows it will not last.

A shadow moves across the moon,

A booming sound is heard.

The young girl weeps tears of scarlet,

Yet utters not a word.

She pulls her black shawl tightly,

Her mind hungers for life.

She sits there pale as silken cream,

Her nails sharp as a knife.

Memories of mortal dreams,

Dance sweetly through her mind.

She does not know of others cursed—

Unique, one of a kind.

Eternity has passed her by,

Tonight will be tomorrow.

On and on the thirst shall rage,

And drown her in red sorrow.


(c) 2004, 2005

Nightmare Art

I like to collect items of a creepy nature, and often peruse the ‘Net in search of suitably dark photos, drawings, paintings, and other artistic images that could possibly scare the pants off of little kids. I have always been drawn to the dark side – not because they have cookies either – and my own art & writings reflect this. The following is a small sampling of the disturbing pictures I’ve recently found.





















Asians Eat Dog Meat – So What?

The hypocrisy of Westerners – not to mention their xenophobia – never fails to astound me. Western outrage against dog meat burgers on the menu at McDonald’s in Korea and China’s Lychee & Dog Meat festival in Yulin are prime examples of White people’s utter craziness for canines, as well as their pure speciousness. Asians eat cats and monkeys too; primates are our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. Why is there no indignation when it comes to apes, cats, or other furry creatures?

Also, why the fury at China? That isn’t the only nation where dog meat is consumed. 25 million dogs were eaten in 2014, and that’s only an estimate. South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and small pockets of rural Switzerland eat dogs – and many of these places have a ban on canine meat. In fact, most of Europe consumed dog meat many centuries ago, especially during times of war – even as recently as the two World Wars. It’s actually legal to eat dog (and cat) meat in such ‘Western’ countries as Australia and New Zealand.

I cannot understand how Westerners can get pissed off about Asians consuming dog meat when they eat millions of pounds of poultry, beef, pork, seafood, and other animal products every damn year. Why the moral anger over Chinese people finding dog meat a delicacy, when Westerners think the same of fish eggs, lamb, snails, veal, and rabbit? I may find the very notion of having dog/cat meat abominable, but I can at least look at it from a cultural perspective and comprehend the reasoning behind canine meat as food in those countries. Just as you and I might find the thought of eating a camel repugnant, there are others who were raised on the stuff. I once worked with a woman who thought nothing of consuming chicken, beef, pork or fish, yet balked at eating lamb or veal because the animals hadn’t had a ‘chance to grow up’.

CNN slammed the “brutal” and “sinister” trade, while USA Today described the scene at a dog farm, focusing in on the animals’ “pitiful whines and yelps”. The Mirror sent a reporter to write about the “hell” of dog farms, and trailed a follow-up story about “six lucky rescued pups being flown to the UK”. The Mail’s exposé showed readers the before-and-after of the process: first photos of terrified dogs huddled in cages, then photos of dog soup being cooked. Frightened animals being caged, killed and turned into food. If you are a meat eater who is shocked by how dogs are treated in South Korea, maybe you should look at all meat production with fresh eyes.

CNN report that the dogs are “left alone in metal cages similar to chicken coops … and it’s all legal”. But 9 billion chickens are slaughtered for their meat each year in the US. Most of them are intensively farmed. Did you know that 93% of pigs killed for meat in the UK are factory-farmed, and 60% of sows reared here are kept in metal crates just centimetres bigger than their body? Farmers openly admit they cut off the pigs’ tails and clip or grind down their teeth without anaesthetic. In 2009, undercover researchers from the animal welfare group Animal Aid filmed UK slaughterhouse workers stubbing out cigarettes in pigs’ faces.

Yes, dogs are smart and friendly – but so are pigs. Researchers from Cambridge University found pigs are as smart as three-year-old humans. They can play computer games and recognise people they met several years ago. They develop trust and empathy like we, and dogs, do. Few people relish the thought of any animals being slaughtered so it’s normal for those who eat meat to try to justify it. Just as westerners get angry about people in Asia eating dogs and cats, many Indians get outraged by westerners eating cows. People shake their heads in disbelief at guinea pigs and alpacas being served up in South America. – The Guardian

White people are very strange when it comes to dogs. The idea that anyone can have a dislike, hate, allergy, or fear of dogs seems beyond their grasp, so the fact that dogs are killed and eaten for food is extremely bothersome to them. They simply cannot fathom that. Unless you are a vegan, you should not be criticizing what others put in their mouths. Why is it okay for the French to eat horse meat, or even to feed equine flesh to dogs, when it’s not okay for Asians to consume canines? Why is it fine for the Brits to dine on beef, the Americans to barbecue pork, or the Italians to roast chicken…yet a Vietnamese family can’t have dog soup for dinner? Are horses, cows, pigs, birds, and other animals any less worthy of salvation than the almighty dog?

Roasted cats

Mmmm, Ice Cream…!

I love ice cream, even though I am lactose intolerant now and can’t really enjoy it like I used to. I was going through my collection of screenplays, articles/essays I’d written, and recipes and what do I find but a dozen or so ice cream, sorbet, and gelato recipes. Spring’s nearly here, summer won’t be far behind it, so why not break out the ice cream maker and get to it? I chose the following recipes for their low fat content or unique combination of ingredients. I have, sadly, never tried any of the recipes myself because I had forgotten all about them. Now is the year to try these – and hopefully, I can use dairy alternatives instead of milk so that I can have the pleasure of consuming frozen yogurt, et al, without my belly burbling and the flatulence being an all day/night issue.

Blueberry Ice cream 

2 pints blueberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons orange juice
4 cups light cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a 3-quart saucepan combines blueberries, sugar and orange juice. Mash berries slightly and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and puree in a food processor or blender. Push mixture through a strainer with the back of a wooden spoon. Cool the mixture.
In the chilled canister of ice-cream maker combine blueberry mixture, cream and vanilla. Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.
Pear Sorbet 
1 can pears — (29 ounce) drained (reserve 1/2 cup syrup)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup eau de vie de poire* — or pear brandy (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
For sorbet: Combine all ingredients in processor and puree until smooth. Turn into ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to plastic container and freeze 3 hours. *Available at most liquor stores
Low Fat Raspberry Sorbet 
24 ounces raspberries (2 bags if frozen)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vodka (optional)
Puree the raspberries in processor or blender. Strain to remove seeds. Add sugar and blend until the sugar has completely dissolved. Mix in lemon juice and vodka, pour into ice cream maker, and process. Transfer to separate container and freeze for about 2 hours before serving.
Lemon Ice Cream 
Zest of 1 lemon
2/3 cup sugar
7 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
5 egg yolks
Put the lemon zest and sugar in a food processor and process until the zest is finally chopped. In a saucepan, mix the lemon sugar with 1 1/2 cups heavy cream and all milk. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Place the egg yolks in a large bowl and whisk briefly. still whisking the yolks, slowly pour in the hot cream. When the mixture is smooth, pour it back into the saucepan or into the top of a double boiler. Cook over low heat or over simmering water, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes a thick custard, about 15 min. Do not let the mixture boil. Place the custard in a metal bowl set over a larger bowl of ice. Stir until very cold and thick. Mix in the lemon juice. Whip the remaining cup of cream until stiff. Fold in the lemon custard. Pour the mixture into the bowl of the machine and freeze.
Makes about 1 quart.

Cookie Dough Ice cream 
2 cups milk
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 cups heavy cream
1 cup chocolate chip cookie dough
2 cups light cream
Scald milk until bubbles form around edge. Remove from heat. Add the sugar and salt. Stir until dissolved. Stir in light cream, vanilla, and the heavy cream. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Freeze as directed by your ice cream machine’s instructions. Once ice cream has been through the entire ice cream machine process and is now a chilled soft ice cream, add the chocolate chip cookie dough. Just break up the dough as best you can with your hands and drop it in small clusters into the soft ice cream. Try to mix it around to ensure that the cookie dough is evenly distributed throughout the ice cream. Put the ice cream in the freezer for several hours until hard.
Cream cheese ice cream recipe
1 1/2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups light cream
In a large mixer bowl beat cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer on until smooth. Beat in the eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla until well combined. Stir in the light cream. Freeze in a ice cream freezer according to the Manufacturers directions.

German Chocolate Ice Cream recipe 
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups milk
4 oz semisweet chocolate melted
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 cups light cream
1/2 cup pecans; chopped
Combine the sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon in a saucepan. Gradually add the milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Blend in the melted chocolate. Mix a small amount of hot mixture into the eggs; then add the eggs to the pan, stirring constantly. Cook for 1 minute, do not boil. Remove from heat; add the coconut. Let the mixture cool before adding the cream. Transfer to the ice cream machine and use according to manufacturers instructions. Add the nuts when the mixture starts to freeze. Transfer to a container and store in freezer.

Ginger ice cream recipe
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped fresh ginger
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
Bring the milk, cream and ginger to simmer in a saucepan. Cover; let it rest for 20 minutes. Bring to simmer again. Strain into medium bowl. Discard the ginger.
Whisk the yolks and sugar in a large bowl until they are a pale yellow color. Gradually whisk in the milk mixture. Return mixture to the saucepan and stir over medium heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 4 minutes (do not boil). Strain custard into clean bowl. Chill about 2 hours.
Process custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturers instruction.
Maui Sherbet 
1 ½ cups crushed pineapple
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 cups banana — mashed
1/3 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup lime juice
2 egg whites — stiffly beaten
Drain pineapple, reserve Juice. Combine sugar and pineapple. Add banana and all juices. Place in freezer trays; freeze until almost firm. Turn frozen  mix into bowl and fold in egg whites gradually. Beat until light and fluffy. Return to trays and freeze. 6-8 servings
1 1/2 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks — beaten
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup pistachios — shelled & chopped
1/3 cup candied maraschino cherries
1/3 cup orange peel — finely chopped
3 tablespoons light rum
Heat but do not boil half and half in saucepan; stir in sugar and salt.
Pour small amount of half and half into egg yolks, stir constantly. Return
yolk mixture to half and half mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat
about 5 to 10 minutes or until thickened and creamy; cool. Stir in heavy
cream. Chill thoroughly. Pour into ice cream freezer container; follow
manufacturer’s directions for freezing. Add pistachios, cherries, orange
peel and rum when almost frozen; finish freezing. Freeze at least 2 hours
before serving.
Key Lime Frozen Yogurt 
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt — stirred
(1) 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 6 ounce can frozen limeade concentrate, undiluted and partially thawed
In medium bowl, combine yogurt and condensed milk. Stir in undiluted and partially thawed limeade concentrate. Freeze in ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions; or follow refrigerator-freezer instructions. Makes about 1 quart.

Coffee Gelato recipe 
2/3 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 cup milk; at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons instant coffee
1 cup heavy cream
Beat the sugar and egg yolks together until pale yellow and very thick. Slowly add the milk, beating gently to avoid a build-up of foam. Stir in the salt. Transfer mixture to the top of a double boiler with an inch of boiling water in the bottom half. Regulate heat so water remains at a low boil, and stir continuously 8 minutes. Custard will thicken enough to coat the spoon, and surface foam will disappear. Immediately remove top of double boiler and set it in a large bowl of cold water. Stir 2 minutes to cool custard somewhat. Then transfer it to a bowl and add the coffee, stirring to dissolve it thoroughly. Cover and set in refrigerator to chill thoroughly. Also chill heavy cream. When ready to proceed, whip cream into soft peaks and stir it into coffee custard. Transfer mixture to ice cream machine and proceed according to machine’s directions.

The Bell Witch

In the early 1800s, John Bell moved his family from North Carolina to the Red River bottomland in Robertson County, Tennessee, settling in a community that later became known as Adams. Bell purchased some land and a large log home for his family. The Bells quickly made many friends and gained prominence in the community. John Bell acquired additional land and cleared a number of fields over the next several years.

One day in 1817, John Bell was inspecting his corn field when he encountered a strange-looking animal sitting in the middle of a corn row. Shocked by the appearance of this animal, which had the body of a dog and the head of a rabbit, Bell shot several times to no avail. The animal vanished. Bell thought nothing more about the incident–at least not until after dinner. That evening, the Bells began hearing “beating” sounds on the outside walls of their house.

These mysterious sounds continued with increased force each night. Bell and his sons often hurried outside to catch the culprit but always returned empty-handed. The noises were soon followed by more problems. The Bell children began waking up frightened and complaining of sounds much like rats gnawing at their bedposts. It wasn’t long until the children began complaining of more terrifying things–having their bed covers pulled and their pillows were tossed onto the floor by a seemingly invisible force.

As time went on, the Bells began to hear more strange noises. Only this time, they sounded like faint, whispering voices–too weak to understand–but sounded like a feeble old woman crying or singing hymns. The encounters escalated, and the Bells’ youngest daughter, Betsy, began experiencing physically brutal encounters with the entity. It relentlessly pulled her hair and slapped her, often leaving visible prints on her face and body for days at a time. The evil disturbances escalated over the next year to the point it was time for John Bell to share his “family trouble” with his closest friend and neighbor, James Johnston.

Johnston and his wife spent the night at the Bell home, where they were subjected to the same terrifying disturbances that the Bells had been. After having his bedcovers repeatedly removed, and being slapped, Johnston sprang out of bed, asking, “I ask you in the name of the Lord God, who are you and what do you want?” There was no response of any type, but the remainder of the night was peaceful.

As word of the Bell disturbances spread throughout the community, so did the entity’s antics. Over time, the its voice strengthened to the point it was loud and understandable. It sang hymns, quoted scripture, carried on intelligent conversation, and once quoted, word-for-word, two sermons that took place at the same time thirteen miles apart. During none of this time did anyone know who or what the entity was, or its purpose for tormenting the Red River Settlement.

Word eventually spread outside the settlement, even as far as Nashville, where one Andrew Jackson became interested.


John Bell, Jr. and Jesse Bell fought under General Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans, and had developed a good rapport with him. In 1819, Jackson got word of the disturbances at the Bell home and decided to pay a personal visit. Jackson and his entourage, consisting of several men and a large wagon, journeyed from Nashville to the Bell home. As the entourage approached the Bell property, the wagon suddenly stopped. The horses tried pulling but to no avail–the wagon simply would not move.

After several minutes of cursing and trying to get the wagon to move, Jackson exclaimed that it must have been the “witch.” As soon as Jackson uttered these words, an unidentified female voice spoke, telling Jackson and his men that they could proceed, and that “she” would see them again later that evening. The men were finally allowed to continue.

Jackson and John Bell had a long discussion about the Indians and other topics while Jackson’s men patiently waited to see if the “spirit” was going to manifest itself. One of the men in Jackson’s entourage claimed to be a “witch tamer.” After several uneventful hours, this man decided to “call” the “spirit.” He pulled out a shiny pistol and made his intent to kill the “spirit” known to all that were present.

Almost immediately, the man began screaming and moving his body in many different directions. He said he was being stuck with pins and being severely beaten. The man quickly ran out the door, and the “spirit” announced that there was yet one more “fraud” in Jackson’s party, and that he would be identified on the following evening.

Terrified, Jackson’s men begged to leave the Bell farm. Jackson insisted on staying so that he could find out who the other “fraud” was. Jackson and his men eventually went out to the field to sleep in their tents, and the men continued to beg and plead with Jackson to leave.

Jackson maintained the position that he wanted to know whom the other “fraud” in his party was. However, by mid-day the next day, Jackson and his men had already left the Bell farm and were seen going through Springfield. Jackson, a hero in the Battle of New Orleans four years earlier, was quoted as later having said, “I’d rather fight the entire British Army than to deal with the Bell Witch.” Jackson later became the President of the United States.

Over time, Betsy Bell became interested in Joshua Gardner, a young man who lived not far from her. With the blessings of their parents, they agreed to engagement. Nevertheless, despite their evident happiness, the “spirit” repeatedly told Betsy not to marry Joshua Gardner.

It is interesting to note that their schoolteacher, Richard Powell, was noticeably interested in Betsy and wanted to marry her when she became older. Powell was believed to have been a student of the occult, and had been secretly married to a woman in nearby Nashville for some time. Betsy and Joshua could not go to the river, the field, or the cave to play, without the “spirit” following along and persistently taunting them. Betsy and Joshua’s patience finally reached critical mass, and on Easter Monday of 1821, Betsy met Joshua at the river and broke off their engagement.

The encounters decreased after that heartbreaking Easter Monday, although the “spirit” continued to express its dislike for “ol Jack Bell,” and relentlessly vowed to kill him. As Bell’s health grew worse, the “spirit” would torture him more severely, sometimes removing his shoes from his feet and relentlessly slapping his face while he was experiencing seizures.

On the morning of December 20, 1820, after a long battle with a crippling nervous system disorder, John Bell breathed his last breath. Immediately after Bell’s death, the family found a small vial of unidentified liquid that Bell had partaken of the evening before his death. John Bell, Jr. gave some of the liquid to the family’s cat, and the cat died almost instantly. The “spirit” suddenly spoke up exclaiming, “I gave Ol’ Jack a big dose of that last night, and that fixed him.” John, Jr. quickly threw the vial into the fireplace, where it shot up the chimney in the form of a bright, blue flame. As family and friends began to leave John Bell’s burial site, the “spirit” laughed loudly and sang a cheerful song about a bottle of brandy.

In April of 1821, the “spirit” visited Lucy Bell and told her that “it” would return in seven years for a visit. Seven years later, in 1828, the “spirit” returned as promised. Most of this visit centered around John Bell, Jr. The “spirit” discussed with him such things as the origin of life, Christianity, the need for a mass spiritual reawakening, and other in-depth topics. Of particular significance were the “spirit’s” predictions of the Civil War, World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II.

After three weeks, the “spirit” bade farewell, promising to visit John Bell’s most direct descendant in 107 years. The year would have been 1935, and the closest direct living descendant of John Bell was Charles Bailey Bell, a physician in Nashville. Charles Bailey Bell himself wrote a book about the “Bell Witch,” but it had been published prior 1935. No follow-up was published, and Bell died a few years later in 1945.

Today, the “spirit” which haunted the Bell family nearly 200 years ago is believed by many to be the source of numerous manifestations in the area where the story took place. Some believe that when the “spirit” returned in 1935, it took residence in Adams, Tennessee, once a part of the Bell farm. The faint sounds of people talking and children playing can sometimes be heard in the area. It is also very difficult to take a good picture there..

Several years ago, one of John Bell’s descendants was rabbit hunting and shot a rabbit, which wandered into some dense brush. While searching, he felt a large rock underneath the brush where the rabbit had entered. The rock turned out to be a part of Joel Egbert Bell’s tombstone, and the rabbit was never found. In the mid 1990’s, a picture was taken of a girl sitting on a rock outside the cave’s entrance. When the picture was developed, there appeared to be a man standing behind her. Upon expert examination, it was determined that the man-like image was not a double-exposure, but an entirely separate entity. It has been said that if you visit the fields of the old Bell farm on dark, cold and rainy nights, you can sometimes see small lights gliding over the fields and dancing in the dell.

The cause of the Bells’ torment nearly 200 years ago and today’s horrid manifestations has remained a mystery. Numerous versions and theories that purportedly explain the cause of the disturbances abound, and vary from person to person. The only constant is that there was “something” wrong on the Bell farm in the early 1800s, and there is still “something” wrong at the old Bell farm today, nearly 200 years later. It happened to the John Bell family in 1817. Maybe next time it will happen to your family. – Source Unknown