Friday, February 16, 2018

Deck Review: Vampires Tarot of the Eternal Night

Barbara Moore and Davide Corsi (artist), The Vampires Tarot of the Eternal Night. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn, 2009. ISBN: 978-0738719290.

Note: Published by Lo Scarabeo (link), but distributed in the U.S. by Llewellyn (link)

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: Tarot, divination, vampires, Gothic horror
Format: Deck of Tarot cards in tuck box with little white book
Source: I bought and own this one 

This is the Tarot deck I have been using for the last two Halloween seasons, so I figure this is as good a time as any to write a review for it.

The deck comes in a tuck box that includes the 78 cards and a little white book (LWB). It is published by Lo Scarabeo (distributed in the United States by Llewellyn Worldwide), so the LWB as is common for Lo Scarabeo decks is written in five languages (English, Italian, Spanish, French, and German). The actual content in the LWB is 12 small pages. This content includes a description of the deck and artist statement, a brief overview of the vampire myth, and the meanings for the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana cards. The booklet ends with a spread to try out: The Cross. Card meanings are basic; you get a keyword for each card and then two or three sentences to explain the meaning.

Overall, the meanings are close to Rider Waite Smith (RWS). The booklet states that the deck was created "in total respect to traditional meanings" (3). The deck does stay close to tradition (meaning RWS), but there are some differences in meanings and card depictions. These differences are noticeable, but they do not detract from being able to read the cards on this deck. I'd say at times the differences can make things interesting and/or give you a different appreciation of a specific card, a different way of looking at the card.

The cards are fully illustrated in the Major and Minor Arcanas. The art is computer generated, yet it captures a Gothic horror world of night with a touch of romance. It may be a world of night, but it can still be pretty colorful. In terms of characters, we see vampires male and female, young and old, in human and more vampiric form take center stage. In addition, there are some werewolves, wolves, bats, and a few humans treading this dark world.

The cards do have borders, which is not an issue for me. The images are framed in a grey frame. The Minor Arcana cards have an Arabic numeral and symbol of the suit on top and bottom of the image respectively; court cards have a symbol on top to identify knave (page), knight, queen, and king. The Minor Arcana Cards also have a color code on top and bottom of the card: wands are red, pentacles are green, chalices (cups) are blue, and swords are yellow. The Major Arcana cards are identified by Roman numeral and grey color code; they do not have names on the cards.

As I have mentioned, this is a deck I have been using on Halloween season. For me, it reads well, and it even tricks me a bit once in a while. I had someone suggest to me once this deck can be useful for business and similar type of questions. I have to agree. The vampires' cold nature lends itself to looking at things in terms of just numbers, figures, and transactions. Cards like The Emperor, King of Pentacles, King of Wands, Queen of Swords, and Death are examples that speak to work and business in this deck. I think if you need a little workplace guidance, this deck may work well for you. It h as a bit of a Machiavellian element to it.

Overall, I really like this deck. It captures the Gothic vampire scene well with good art and range of expression. As I noted, some meanings and images veer away from strict traditional RWS, so it may not be a good deck for beginners trying to learn traditional RWS. However, if you have a little experience, you will likely appreciate the differences and make new connections in reading the cards. Personally, comparing where this deck differs with the more traditional meanings is an interesting exercise for me; often I find meanings are not that far apart, or this deck just gives me a new way to look at a card.

Tarot readers and collectors who like Gothic horror and vampires will likely enjoy this deck. This is one I plan to keep using and enjoying for years to come.

4 out of 5 stars.

On a final side note, I understand there was a previous edition which included a companion book (same cards). That book is long out of print, and these days you can only pretty much find the deck. 

Below are some of my favorite cards from the deck, with a bit of commentary. These are photos I took personally of my deck:


This is the card backing.

The Death- XIII card. This is a favorite depiction given its thoughtful demeanor.

Four of Pentacles.

The Hierophant-V

Justice-XI. This is a card I always look at when getting a new deck. It  is one of the cards in Tarot I identify with.

King of Wands

Queen of Swords

The Hermit-IX. Now some people gripe this card is too close to that one Dracula in that one movie, but I really like this art. He looks isolated, pensive, and staring out into the  horizon with some deep thought. The Hermit is pretty much my personal card.








Media Notes: Roundup for January 2018

These are the movies and series on DVD that I watched for January 2018.


Movies and films:

  • Hitman: Agent 47 (2015). I still have a soft spot for the 2007 film, but this one was pretty good. I think this one catches the essence of the video game a bit better.  It is a decent and entertaining action film. 
  • The LEGO Batman Movie (2017). After watching the LEGO Movie, I knew I wanted to watch this one. If you like LEGOs,  you will probably like this one where Batman is a loner who needs to learn to work with others once in a while. Nice, light humor. 
  • LEGO Batman: The Movie--DC Heroes Unite (2013). Turns out this came out before the one above. I slightly liked this one better in part because they basically took a lot of the elements of the 1980s films, including the soundtrack. So for me, it was entertaining and a bit of nostalgia. My only issue is that the other superheroes are not really seen much in the film until close to the end. 
  • The Equalizer (2014). This is another entry in the genre I call "badass guy, and it is usually a guy, who for whatever reason has retired or left their profession and wants to be in peace. However, something happens, either the bad guys mess with him or he sees some injustice he can't stand and needs to act." It sounds like vigilante, but not always the case. At any rate, this reimagining of the television series works well enough for an action flick, and naturally Denzel plays McCall well.  The film was a bit slow at the start, but once it got going you knew how it had to end. It was alright. 
  • Dracula Untold (2014). This was a little gem I found at the library I had not heard of. Before Dracula became the vampire we all know, he was Vlad III, and he was a just and fair prince striving to keep his people safe. When his kingdom is threatened by the Turks, he finds that the only way to beat them may be to make a deal to become a monster. The movie was pretty good overall. I did like the set up of the vampire lore in it, and I admit the ending left me wanting more, wondering what may be next.  
  • The LEGO Ninjago Movie (2017). This was totally fun and cute. I think this is a good movie for kids and families. Lloyd is secretly the green ninja; he also happens to be the son of the villain who keeps trying to conquer the city of Ninjago for himself. Lloyd and the other ninjas come together to make things right. Jackie Chan plays the voice of wise (and wiseass) Master Wu, their sensei. I really enjoyed this one, and it left me smiling. 
  • The Revenant (2015). Holy shit, this movie had intense moments. The infamous bear scene is quite intense and gruesome. However, that may be the least of the torments and travails that Hugh Glass goes through to get his revenge after that bear mauling and finding himself abandoned by his hunting party. The movie was a good drama, but it was a bit long and stretched at times. Just when you think he can catch a small break, more shit breaks out. DiCaprio does deliver a heck of a performance. Still, for me, one of those movies you watch once to say you watched it and move on.


Television and other series:

  • Hatfields and McCoys (2012). This is the mini-series that History Channel featured with Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton as the patriarchs of the feuding families. It is well made. It is also close to four and a half hours long, and much like the real feud, about halfway into the film you literally forget why the hell they are feuding in the first place. As the story takes place in the border between Kentucky and West Virginia, the film does have a bit of local interest for folks here in Eastern Kentucky. I liked it, and I do recommend it. Other actors in this include Powers Boothe, who portrays Judge Hatfield, and Tom Berenger, who in the makeup and performance, I could barely know he was Jim Vance. 

Friday, February 09, 2018

Reading about the reading life: February 9, 2018 edition

Welcome to another edition of "Reading about the reading life" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is where I collect stories about reading and the reading life. Basically, these are items related to reading, maybe writing and literacy, that I find interesting and think my four readers might find interesting as well with a little commentary. As with other features I do on this blog, I do it when I have time or feel like it. Comments are always welcome (within reason). 






It has been a while since I have done one of these posts, so let's see what I had found interesting recently in reading and literacy.

  • Bookstores often serve as refuge against the "Hard Times." The article also notes that books on the opposition to the party in power often are popular. Story via The Christian Science Monitor. You know what other place can be a refuge?  Your local public library.
  • Dr. Myers at Pharyngula argues that when it comes to that furiously fiery book about the Pendejo In Chief that you are reading the wrong book. He offers a better alternative suggestion.
  • In a bit of humor, turns out there is another book entitled Fire and Fury (it's about a part of World War II). Due to the book about the Pendejo In Chief, the history book also got a sales bump. Story via Inside Higher Ed
  • Big book chains continue in decline, illustrated this time by Book World closures. Story via The New York Times. It is hard to compete against the big online behemoth. I'll be honest, the only big bookstore nearby is Barnes and Noble, and the one we go to in Lexington once in a while looks more like a gift shop and toy store (expensive toy store) than actual bookstore. On a positive, Half Price Books is a pleasure to shop in; they treat you well, and you always find something. I have found some nice second hands Tarot and oracle decks at Half Price Books. Recently, they opened a second location in Lexington, so they must be doing well enough. As long as they are there, I will be happy to keep shopping there.
  • Dan Brown, author of  The Da Vinci Code, gave a bundle of money so about 3,500 occult manuscripts and rare books can be digitized into a collection we will all be able to use some day. Story via Open Culture. I am not a fan of Brown's work, but thank you sir for this. 
  • A big collection of Sherlockiana was recently put up for auction. Via Fine Books and Collections magazine blog.
  • In Texas, they have been banning books in prisons left and right. Heck, they even banned Charlie Brown and Peanuts. However, there is this: "Not banned: “Mein Kampf” by Adolf Hitler and books by white nationalists, including David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard." Yea, so basic literacy and some good leisure reading is out, but white supremacist literature is fine. That's Texan fuckery for you. Story via The New York Times
  • Also via The New York Times, a report that parts of Gabriel García Márquez’s archive at University of Texas have been digitized and are free to view. 
  • I understand there is a  new biopic film about P.T. Barnum. This article considers how that great showman may have paved the way for the  Pendejo In Chief, plus it highlights a book on the art of deception I may add to my reading list. Story via The Conversation
  • Also via The Conversation, some advice on what books to read to your children and at what time. 
  • One more via The Conversation, on the story of America via diet books
  • Via Lecturalia (Spanish language source), Amazon's star rating system for books remains problematic. This is not surprising. From buying reviewers and book raters to sink a competitor's book to harassment issues, Amazon is not really a place to get a reliable review. Personally, as librarian I do not trust nor bother with  an Amazon review. As reviewer, the only time I place a review in Amazon is at the request of an author or editor I may have reviewed here on the blog, and that is done at no pay for me. Otherwise, I stay away. 
  • Infotecarios (Spanish language source) has a short report on libraries in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. 
  • And here I thought the fact our own academic collection needs some serious weeding was bad. Turns out at Indiana University of Pennsylvania Library, 48% of their books have not been checked out in 20 years. They are finally planning to weed. Read about it via InfoDocket.
  • NPR looks at book printing as an art and craft, highlighting a Kentucky printer as well. 
  • I knew it. Book clubs have always been about drinking and schmoozing. Via Atlas Obscura.





Friday, February 02, 2018

Signs the economy is bad: February 2, 2018 edition

Welcome to another edition of "Signs the Economy is Bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. This is the semi-regular (as in when I have time and/or feel like doing it) feature where I scour the Internet in search of the oh so subtle hints that the economy is bad. Sure, pundits may say things are getting better, but what do they know? And to show not all is bad, once in a while we look at how good the uber rich have it.



January has pretty much come and gone. Christmas season is by now a long gone memory, but the Bad Economy keeps chugging along in 2018. So let's see what's been happening.

  • The latest salvo in the "War on Coal" comes from an energy company CEO who says new renewable energy will be cheaper than coal in the long run. Via Vox.
  • Government officials are happy and proud to tell the poor to fuck off. The latest iteration is the USDA chief telling the poor on food stamps to "get a job." Just another typical selfish clueless Party of Stupid bureaucratic asshole. Via Mother Jones.
  • Nationally, evictions are up, and a  lot of it is due to gentrification. As usual with stuff like this, no one cares until suddenly it hits "regular" white bread middle class people, then holy shit it's a problem. Via Curbed.com.
  • Also nationally, the U.S. is now number one in maternal deaths in the developed world. America: Fuck Yea! Talk about "shithole countries." Via ProPublica
    • The same kind of shithole country that allows young people to die because they cannot afford a vial of insulin to treat their Type 1 diabetes. Via Truth Out.
  • And in California, where though they have laws for almost everything their usury laws pretty much suck. The result is loan sharks of the payday industry are exploiting that to make a killing. Via Boing Boing.
  • Yes, debtor's prisons still exist as courts use various dubiously ethical and morally nebulous ways to exploit the poor even more. Violating the rights of the poor in the judicial system is more often than not just business as usual. The article highlights findings from the book Not a Crime to be Poor. Via Truth Out.

And in some news of the Bad Economy that seem a bit more odd and curious:

  • Here is a dog that qualified for unemployment benefits. You know things are hard in  the Bad Economy when even Fido can get unemployment.  It sounds funny until you realize there is a more insidious reason behind it: fraud (not from the dog or the dog's owner). Via The Washington Post
  • Shark conservation charities and conservation charities overall are finding themselves getting  bit extra money these days. Why? It turns out the Pendejo In Chief has a well known hate for sharks. Enough said. Story via the BBC.
  • Tired of working in a coal mine?  Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit and a thick skin? Willing to take a chance? Perhaps you'd like to open a sex shop in a small rural town. Via The Daily Yonder
    • And speaking of sex shops, the guy who played Barney the Dinosaur has moved on. His new career? He owns a tantric sex shop. Story via VICE.
  • In the market for some Elvis memorabilia? You might still be able to find a crumpled paper cup the King allegedly drank out of. It may set you back only $1,750 bucks. This same guy apparently auctioned off before three tablespoons of Elvis' drinking water. Or you can hold out and see if he might also have some toilet paper tissue Elvis may have used to wipe his ass with back in Memphis. Story via VICE.
  • Looking for a new place to park your money?  The usual "blue chip" stocks too blah for you? That day trading not thrilling enough? Then maybe you can invest into the world's first publicly traded whiskey fund. Via Atlas Obscura.

Media Notes: Movies and series watched in 2017

I read a lot of books from my local public library, the Berea branch of the Madison County (KY) Public library. In addition to books, I often check out DVDs for movies and older shows I want to watch or that I newly discover. In 2017, in addition to what I read, I decided to more actively keep track of what I was watching in terms of media. This list for 2017 is a partial list based mainly on what I remember watching and checking out. If I own an item, I will note it, but for this list, these are all from my local public library. I am sure I am missing a few things I have watched recently because I honestly do not remember if I watched them in 2017 or before, so we will let those go. I am hoping to keep better track in 2018, so I am thinking I may do a monthly roundup in 2018 listing what I watch with some brief comments. I already review books, so I am not feeling inclined to start reviewing films as well. Links below go to IMDB.com unless otherwise noted. I am not rating the media; I will simply give now some quick impressions and try to help you decide if you might like it or not.

And for the record, I do not watch movies in movie theaters anymore. After a very unpleasant experience with some obnoxious assholes who could not shut the fuck up during a movie, I completely gave up on movie theaters. Besides, movies come out on DVD or Blue Ray soon after, so I do not feel I miss anything. As for television, if a series is good, it eventually gets put on DVD, and I prefer to binge than wait week after week to watch something.

So here is my 2017 (partial and not complete but it is what you get) list of media watched.

Feature films and movies:

  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016). This was a lot better than I was expecting. It certainly was a lot better than The Force Awakens, which to be honest, was basically a rehash of Episode IV, except with a young heroic lady. One can only hope that Disney, the new owners, do not fuck up the Star Wars legacy into the ground and maybe take a clue that individual, stand alone stories in the Star Wars universe can work and be entertaining. 
  • Star Wars Episode VI: The Force Awakens (2015).  My comment above pretty much applies here. It looked good, but it was clear Disney was mostly rehashing to avoid taking any risks. For fans who have been with the franchise since the beginning, you probably want to watch it, but keep the expectations low.  Having said that, the interactions between Ray and Han were nice.
  • Dead Snow (2009). This was somewhat silly horror fun about a group of college age guys and gals trapped in the Alps in a cabin. They get surrounded by Nazi zombies. Mayhem ensues. It sounds like something of the scale of Sharknado, but it is actually a lot better than it sounds. I really liked it. If you like your horror on the light side, this may be for you.
  • Doctor Strange (2016). A few people on my campus were drooling over this one. I will say that it looks fantastic. The art, the cinematography, the special effects, are all great. It is a nice movie to look at. The plot was decent enough, though I was not too keen on that very last scene (the one in the credits), which I thought was unnecessarily cruel. If you are fan of the character,  you might like it. Fans of Benedict Cumberbatch will probably like him playing his usual arrogant asshole character, although here he seems to grow a bit. 

Television shows and other series:

  • LEGO Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles (2013). I always loved LEGOs as a kid, and it is a bit of a pity that they did not have as many options as they do now (I grew in the 80s with "classic space guy"). Anyhow, in my quest to escape from reality and the "Hard Times," I am discovering things like LEGO films. This is part of a television series where Yoda is training Jedi Padawans. This DVD contains two short episodes, about 25 minutes each. I found them to be cute, entertaining, and with a light sense of humor. If you like LEGO Star Wars already,  you will probably like this one. Your kids, if they are into LEGOs and/or Star Wars, already probably like this. 
  • Doc Martin (2004- ). Only reason I picked this up is that it got mentioned in the Acorn Media trailers of the DVDs for the Poirot series I watched before. My library had seasons 1-7, which is what I watched. It is entertaining, but I admit that living in a small town myself, though not as small as the town the Doc lives in, at times it reminded me a bit much of the small town nonsense I put up with.  If season 8 ever gets here, I am likely to pick it up. It is curiously addicting.
  • Upstairs, Downstairs (1971-1975). Another British series that caught my eye via a trailer on Acorn Media. I think my library has the full run, but I was only able to stomach the first series, and that I watched barely. For one, it has not aged well. Two, the snobbery and sexism are just a bit much in this day and age.
  • Inspector Morse (1987-2000). Yet another British series. Since I like the Poirot series, I figured I would like this one too. I did like it. Morse is a seriously morose character, but he draws you in. I definitely liked that it was set in Oxford and the world of academia. It was also a reminder that academics, no matter where, can still be serious assholes. I always felt for Detective Sergeant Lewis putting up with Morse. My library has the complete run, and I watched all of it. It is not a happy series, but it is worth watching. 
  • Prime Suspect (Series 1, 1991). I wanted to watch this in part because, again, it was featured in the trailers in another DVD, plus it had Helen Mirren, fine actress that she is. I could barely make it past the first series (there are seven total, plus some extra movies including a prequel). While her performance is good, this is another series that has not aged well. The rampant sexism is beyond obnoxious and even painful to watch today. Unless you are a hardcore fan of Ms. Mirren, skip this one. 
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999). Of the new Star Trek series after the original series, this one is my favorite. I have mixed feelings about The Next Generation, which I do think got better once Wesley Crusher was gone for good and they added Mr. Worf. In other words, I like the later episodes in small doses. I could not care less for Voyager, (which I honestly tried watching when it was on the air, and I eventually just lost interest and watched here or there. I did watch the ending), and Enterprise was just tripe. But DS-9 holds a place in my heart. It started so-so, but it evolved very well, and I think it still holds on for its age. My library has the full run, and I fully enjoyed watching every single episode. This is a set I would like to own someday. 


Reading Challenges and such: Taking a break





As I noted in my Reading List report for 2017, I did read less last year. This year is not getting to a good start as I read little in  January, though I am making up for it in  February a bit. The "Hard Times" are definitely not conducive to good reading times. 2018 just came in, pounced, ran me over, and then kept on going. We are in February already. I did not even get to type out my last holiday post  for 2017, the one with the yearly summary, because by the time I noticed, it was almost end of January, so I decided to skip it for this year. Another thing I am skipping this year are reading challenges.


I enjoy doing reading challenges. I do not often enjoy the requirements of things like having to post review links in certain places at certain times. Challenge hosts can be very inconsistent from one to the other, so remembering who does what when just gets a bit too overwhelming. Last year, I barely finished the challenges I undertook, in part because of the "Hard Times" and  in part because at times I was annoyed trying to figure out what to post or link where and when.

So this year, 2018, I am taking a break. I am just going to read whatever the hell I feel like whenever the hell I feel like it. Do not worry. I will keep reviewing books as I usually do. I am just not going to worry about whether a book fits a certain challenge or list.

In terms of reviews, I do have some interesting books coming up, so stay tuned.