Dracula and Bram Stoker

What’s Bram Stoker got to do with Dublin?

Latimer: I admit that up until a few years ago, I didn’t know that Bram Stoker was Irish (maybe you do and you are gasping at my ignorance right now). It was actually a bit of a shock to me when I found out.

He is, for some unknown reason, not a writer we often talk about. He passes unnoticed.

While we wax lyrical about Joyce and Wilde, we never mention Stoker.

Another famous son 🙂

While vampire’s and vampirism literature were around long before Stoker’s time, he is now remembered as the creator of vampire lore. It just goes to show the power of his story-telling. He never even visited Romania.

Bran’s Castle, Vlad the Impaler’s castle

Bram Stoker started life as a very sickly child, spending his early years bed-ridden (up until the age of 7yrs). People say this is probably what led to the development of his fantastical imagination. Bram himself remarked later; “I was naturally thoughtful, and the leisure of long illness gave opportunity for many thoughts which were fruitful according to their kind in later years.”

When he grew up, he left the sick-bed behind. He attended Trinity College Dublin (TCD 🙂 ), played rugby and was a fantastic athlete like many other members of his family.

But, why am I talking about Stoker?

Recently I attended a talk about Bram Stoker’s medical family. And at this talk, I learned that this year is the centenary of Bram Stoker’s death and Dublin is readying itself to celebrate its, bizarrely overlooked son, with the first Festival of Bram Stoker, which will be held in October.

The Stoker’s shaped Dublin in many ways and were very influential at the time in Ireland.

They were a very well-to-do family. They lived in many grand houses dotted around Dublin. If you’ve ever been to the city, you’ll know there are lots of old Georgian style town houses around the streets. Bram Stoker’s family home is preserved on Kildare St (which is very near Trinity College). 

They were an intelligent family; there were 4 boys, including Bram, the 3 other brothers became doctors. And they had 9 cousins that also became doctors.

Sir William Thornley Stoker, President of RCSI

Bram Stoker’s brother, Sir William Thornley Stoker, was the former President of the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI). Because his cousin William Stoker, was also a doctor, Sir William went by the name ‘Thornley’. I think that’s a cool name, Thornley Stoker… sounds, strangely enough, like a vampire hunter!  

Bram wasn’t interested in being a doctor. He studied mathematics in Trinity. He was also an active member of the University Philosophical Society. He petitioned for a young Oscar Wilde to join the society. He would eventually end up marrying Florence Balcombe, Wilde’s childhood sweetheart. When Wilde realised they were engaged, he left Ireland more or less for good, only returning twice more in his life. But, when Wilde was living in Europe (after his release from prison), Stoker would often visit him.

Lyceum Theatre, London

After a few years working in Dublin, Bram moved to England to become the manager of the Lyceum Theatre and of Henry Irving (the most famous and best actor of the day).

Bram also got to work on writing Dracula. He was a very methodical writer. He had a book that contained all of his notes, and timetables of events in the story. He would write down train timetables, to make sure that when trains appeared in his book, they ran according to the correct schedule. He also often wrote to his brother Sir William and would ask his medical opinion on any such events in the book. Sir William would write back and tell him, ‘yes, if he is hit here, this will happen’ and what pressure points should be detailed.

Brams notes

There was speculation that Bram got a lot of inspiration for the Dracula novel from stories his mother would tell him about the cholera epidemics in Sligo (where she was from). She would tell him stories about people being buried alive (which apparently they often were during the cholera epidemics).

Events and stories were noted in his notebook, along with newspaper clippings of strange events or interesting things that happened around him.

Dracula was published in 1897- and a first edition of the book, today is worth 250,000 euro!!

Original cover

The Bram Stoker society in Ireland is trying hard to get Stoker more recognised as an Irishman. They are collecting money to commission a statue of Bram Stoker to be put on display in Dublin.

The city is known for its statues… we have a lot!

Patrick Kavanagh, on the canal bench
Oscar Wilde in Merrion Park
Brendan Behan, Royal Canal just off Dorset Street
James Joyce, North Earl Street just off O’Connell Street
Children of Lir, Garden of Remembrance Parnell Square
Irish Famine statues, North Quays

Joyce and Wilde are happily on display… the poet Patrick Kavanagh sits (unhappily perhaps!) on a bench by the canal; but no Stoker!

Dublin is trying to reclaim Stoker- and why not? Hopefully it works; I think it would be nice to have a statue of Bram Stoker in Dublin. It was really interesting hearing about how his family shaped various parts of Dublin.

Myself and Ridley are primed and ready to go to the Stoker Festival! Stay tuned for that post 🙂

Bram Stoker Festival 2012 Post

 

So, what do you do without a laptop?

What does Latimer do without a laptop?

Latimer: I bet the saga of my kamikaze laptop has gotten old at this point! But this is just an insight into what I’ve been doing without one!

Well, first off time’s ticking by… the clock is running down, getting closer and closer to ‘MLR-day’ haha. We’ve been busy editing our book and what not. Editing using Ridley’s lovely laptop (I’m getting envious now! she’ll wake up one day and it’ll be gone, a Latimer shaped hole in her wall… me running across the green outside her house, screaming ‘my precious!’!!).

I’m due to get my new replacement soon (two weeks or so). So I’m getting jittery. 

My old hard-drive has gone completely mental and is shutting down the IT guy’s laptops… it’s gone kamikaze, it’s dying and it’s going to take everyone with it! Every time I get an update, it’s like the situation is getting more and more hopeless…

 Moving on from all that nastiness…

I’ve been unwinding in the meantime, doing some artwork… this is an insight into Latimer’s chillax time!

I decided to make my brother a birthday card (ha, and his birthday was in July! God… you see this is what happens when I have a laptop, other things fall by the wayside… yes, that includes the birthdays of loved ones!!).

He lives in Australia, so about all he’s going to get off me is a card, so I figured it better show I put some effort into it!! He’s a massive comic book fan, specifically batman, so I made him a Batman inspired card.

I edited and redrew some chibi’s I found (a Hermonie chibi, a Batman Chibi and a Catwoman chibi) and put them together to form a ‘Latimer’ card. I also finally used the other Japanese art-stuff I bought… cutting mat, cutting knife and Deleter high-lighter paint and brush. So, without a laptop to distract me, I had a chance to use the stuff..

The magical box where I keep my copic markers. It’s a biscuit box (from Bruges in Belgium). It’s a little creepy with that girls face on it!!
Latimer Potter

The idea is magical, Potter me, transforming my brother and his wife into Batman and Catwoman, so they can fight crime in Australia (haha)!

Brother as Batman
Wife as Catwoman
Putting the cover together
Brother and wife inside the card… and crazy me!!

It was fun putting it together… a job done you could say!! I gave myself a tick on my list of ‘outdated things that may never get done’… that’s a long list let me tell you… people get things off me years later, confused they go ‘what’s this for?!’ I will smile, ‘your birthday… last year…I’ll get you something next year for your birthday this year!!’.

Randomly, at the weekend, I also got it into my head that I would like to make a stop-motion model of myself and Ridley (after watching the making of Paranorman character ‘Norman’).

There’s more to it than I thought.. haha (stupid me of course there is!), rigs and stuff that are expensive… and to do it properly would take a lot of skill and time. Maybe in the future I’ll have a go, but for now, I settled for drawing what I would like the stop-motion model me and Ridley to look like… (maybe one day someone will make them for us!! I would go to Laika and say, ‘build us! build us!’)

Latimer and Ridley… as stop motion models!!

It’s random I know, but these are the things I think about! Things I get into my head. What would stop-motion me and Ridley look like? Can I make them? They would look great in the office… haha.

While I was doing all of this, I was listening to the Tell em Steve-Dave podcasts (staring Bryan Johnston, Walt Flanagan, Brian Quinn, Ming Chen and sometimes Mike Zapcic and the great, Sunday Jeff, who only works on sundays 🙂 ).

I love them! They are friends of the director and writer Kevin Smith (of Jay and Silent Bob- he’s Bob). The podcasts are part of the fantastic Smodcast network. Which since I’ve found it, I’m fascinated by it (I get obsessed very quickly)!! I love how Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier have built this empire; a new empire for a new age, the age of podcasting! It’s such a brilliant idea, but I love his thoughts on it.

Kevin is like, these are conversations I can have with all my friends, I can listen back to them, I can have them forever. It’s such a brilliant idea; and Kevin Smith is actually a very cool interesting guy (as are all his friends!).

I never realised this was all going on, I love finding new corridors in the hotel of life.

This video was made by an Irish fan of the Tell em Steve-Dave boys (and they were so in awe of it; so amazed and happy that someone would have made it for them for no reason other than he was a fan). He animated it all based on a conversation the guys had about Walt delivering comics to a guy that couldn’t come to the shop (Jay and Bob’s Secret Stash on Broad St, Red Bank, NJ- Walt is the manager and runs the shop which is owned by Kevin Smith).

The guys of Tell em Steve-Dave kept me company as I drew!

Well, without the laptop I’ve managed to draw some pictures and actually make my brother a birthday card, so it’s been good.

 But, God, hopefully I’ll have one soon 🙂

Murphy’s Law

Latimer’s week read like Murphy’s Law.

Latimer: A series of unfortunate events leads me to writing this entry. It’s basically a more somber version of Ridley’s.

Firstly, the number one thing you need to understand is my laptop is not a thing. It is actually an extension of myself; and so, I am currently suffering from phantom limb syndrome, because said extension has been removed from my person.

I should preface what comes below by stating emphatically  I am a laptop addict. That’s a fact. And even though, I will often say this in a joking manner, I am in fact deadly serious. It’s not as insidious as a blatant addiction to say, alcohol or drugs, but actually it’s just as real. The scary thing, and the thing I often ignore, because it’s not something I like to dwell on, is that I am in fact addicted to my laptop and the internet. However, I think this is an expected addiction of the modern age (you can tell I’ve had a lot of time to dwell on it, in light of being separated from my laptop). The edge has been taken off by virtue of the fact that I own a smart-phone and therefore have an internet-based outlet.

The whole event started on Monday night.

I tried to turn on my laptop and it wouldn’t start. I tried again, and again and again. But my beloved was having none of it. I wasn’t as concerned as I expected I would be. Usually such an event is followed by nervous lip and finger biting, and heart palpitations (this, is what my naïve mind assumes is a very, very, very mild form of withdrawl symptoms!).

When things happen to my laptop, on this scale, my find is filled with white noise… a blankness as if someone has stuffed cotton wool into my brain, leaving me to float in a cloud of despair.

This despair was present but at very low, semi-undetectable, levels. I was able to breathe and knew there was nothing I could do. So I stopped trying and decided I would go to the ‘IT crowd’ in my college the next day and see what they could do.

I slept well that night. I was in the ‘acceptance of powerlessness’ stage!

The next day I handed it over to the IT crowd. That was like walking into a wondrous world I didn’t understand- the world of hope for the uninitiated! I know what technology can give me, but when it fails (as badly as it had) I’m lost, baffled, confuddled. It was like I was a child, handing over my laptop to God, going; ‘Pluh-ezz Mister, can you fix it?’

I left it with them and went to work. As I muddled around the lab, time ticked by and I thought; ‘this is not good’. Picture me, staring into space, pouring acid into beakers, a dazed expression on my face; ‘Pluh-ezz’.

The more time that passed, the more I slowly came to terms with the fact that I would be laptop-less for a while. I back-up my file regularly (I cannot stress the importance of this!), most recently that weekend, so I wasn’t getting as worried as I would have otherwise. I use my laptop for work; it has lots of project data on it. So, this is very serious!

To add injury to insult, my lab-based machinery broke down at a critical point in my experiment! I couldn’t help but laugh (though inside a tiny part of me died- this is not the first time this has happened either and it always seems to happen when I really need it to work- Murphy’s Law in play).

The whole day got me thinking on the importance of technology.

We need it for everything nowadays.

I need it for my work. I need it in so many ways to look at data and very importantly to find information. It’s like a giant library. Old school scientists used to talk about how ‘in my day I had to go through catalogues and mark out all the papers I wanted to read, then go to the library and get them to order the papers for me! It could take months!’ whereas today you go online and have access to everything and anything in seconds. If you are sitting somewhere and someone asks a mundane question, you can just google it and find the answer.

I started writing a blog post on a piece of paper- full of misspellings and so on. Holding the pen like it was an alien tool, staring at it, ‘how does one write?’.

It got me thinking on my, our, dependence on technology and how your vast world shrinks to a tiny spec in its absence.

As I wrote my blog post, I slowly realized; ‘if I don’t have a laptop, how the hell does this even get out there? Who’s going to read this?’  

And more and more the world shrank around me.

And you know what else- I lost that bloody piece of paper! My words and thoughts were gone. Much like my laptop.

The long and short of it is this; my laptop is gone for good (that was something I did not expect on Monday!). Amazing how surprising a week can be!

I don’t know how it happened or why, but there it is. My hard-drive is possibly salvageable but I don’t know yet. I’ve lost some things that weren’t backed up, little parts of myself that I’ll forget until I wonder about them and realize they aren’t there anymore. My laptop was like a second brain or something; Cyber Latimer, my me-bot.

It will be replaced by another laptop that will subsequently also become a part of me. My data will, possibly, be transferred (that’s something I’ll let you know about)… but I am left thinking I have become something of a cyborg in my later years. I remember getting my first laptop and not knowing what to do with it (I hardly used it at all- and another fact is I’ve only ever had two laptops in my life, the first was secondhand).

I remember going on the internet for the first time thinking, ‘what the hell can I use this for? It’s boring I don’t see the point’

And I remember when I didn’t have any of these things. When I had to go to the encyclopedia, which never changed or updated, and had been written in the 80s, to find out things; then Encarta was the new big thing (God, what ever happened to damn Encarta? It was a big thing when I was a kid. All those expensive CDs that would tell you everything… and eventually nothing)… Ah, that was when the world was small.

Did you see in the Olympic Opening ceremony this year when Sir Tim Berners-Lee (who invented the internet) appeared near the giant house?… when he sent that message out into the crowd; This (the internet) is for everyone….? It gave me chills. It was fantastic.

The world’s great, free, web of connection; the thing that I now use to connect to you all, people I don’t know, people I’ve never seen before, but people who I now speak to; who I now share my thoughts with.

Being disconnected from it (in a proper sense without my laptop) for a few days made me think how much it connected me to things.

Ridley wrote an entry and posted it; while I was writing on a scrap of paper thinking; ‘how am I going to post this anyways? Who’s going to ever read this?’ No one as it turns out because I lost it.

But the point is, I felt powerless.

Of course, I’m writing this now, so you’ve realized that I have other methods of connection. I’m writing on my family’s laptop. But it’s like being in someone else’s house; I could fly around my own desktop and files like flying around my own mind. This is a disjointed, confusing environment.

My old baby is gone; the only one that was with me from her first days! My first real laptop that had only ever belonged to me; she’s gone.

We watched so many things together; we learned so much, we wrote so much, all together, me and cyber-me. I really will miss her.

I only hope her consciousness can be saved!

Broken Laptop & Delirium

Ridley: Apologies for the radio silence recently, we’ve been a little absent from the blogging and twittering world. Mainly because I’m down with a cold (What’s new! I’ve the immune system of a dead person!) and Latimer is currently banned from the internet. Well…her laptop is broken. Yes, I heard the collective wince. I winced even as I typed that. I will readily admit I’m an internet addict (and a chocolate and caffeine one, we all have our vices!) so that would be hell on earth for me (and it is for her too!). You really don’t realise how often you turn on your computer until you no longer have it!

Now, you’ll have to picture her pulling out her hair and pacing furiously, while simultaneously pleading and threatening her silent blank screen. I’m just hoping the IT peoples she brought it to can recover the information on it! I’d say she’d have had to hold back the urge to not punch the IT man as he dithered over whether he could fix it. I imagine it could have gone like this, (but for the fact that she’s a nice, polite self-restrained individual):

Latimer slams in through the glass door of the shop. It’s still fairly empty, having just opened a minute and a half ago. Her feet make a scratching sound as she scurries across their grey carpet, zipping in between the aisles of empty boxes advertising anti-viral software and straight to customer service. When she reaches the white counter, a man in a yellow t-shirt has his back to her. She swings her laptop bag around and slides onto the counter top.

“Help me…please.” She whispers. “It’s broken.”

The man jumps and twists round, dropping his pen. He blinks at her sudden appearance. “Wel-welcome to the IT help desk.” He stumbles and then swoops down under the desk to pick up his biro. “How can I help you?”

Latimer frowns at him and points at the black square bag. “It’s broken. I don’t know what happened. It won’t turn on.”

“Of course, well then you’ve come to the right place. Let me take a look.” He slides the laptop out and peers at the underside of it.

“So it won’t turn on…now, you did plug it in, right?” He asks.

Latimer’s hands drop down to her sides, her fingers twitch. She narrows her eyes. “Yes.”

He nods and opens it up. “Intel pentium core processor…good…”

“Hmm hmm…” Latimer’s fingers begin to drum against her thigh.

He examines it, there’s silence for a little while. Latimer bounces on the balls of her feet.

“So…” She bites her lip. “Does it look bad, can you fix it?”

He starts mumbling to himself. ‘Well…I suppose, I could try to…but then I don’t know if that would work. Hmm…’ He scratches his head with his blue pen. Latimer’s hands curl into fists. ‘I wonder if I…’

He turns the laptop round. He jams his pen behind his ear and jabs at a few keys, frowning down in intense concentration.  Latimer leans in nodding, her eyes widen. “Yes?”

After a few moments, he draws back with a shake of his head. “No, the power button isn’t the answer anyway…”

*SMACK* Latimer throws down her laptop case.

“I’ll kill you!” She leaps over the counter and shakes the man by his collar. “Fix it! Fix it, god damnit!”

“No Latimer! It’s not worth it!”  (Some random person who happens to know her shouts-as I’m not there, but if I was, ’tis what I would say! haha.)

People haul her off of him. He’s unscathed, but the same can’t be said for her. The police are called. It all ends up with her rocking in the corner of a damp mouldy cell, giggling and muttering to herself. “Fix it…fix…fix…fix….I’ll fix it…”

Her one phone call is made to Ridley-not a good idea this time (is it ever a good idea? haha).

Ridley is at home, her flowery covers have been tugged up to her chin. She’s shivering and sweating in bed. There are empty tubes of Tyrozet throat lozenges littering the floor in amongst scrunched up tissue paper and tatty brown cardboard toilet rolls.

She’s randomly hollering out words in her delirium.

“Nurofen!”

“Batman!”

Ridley often gets up and wanders to the kitchen like a grumpy Lurch, peering in the cupboard for things to make her feel better and making endless cups of tea.

When she returns to her room, she peers around.

“Who put these little flashing lights in my room, they won’t turn off!”

Then she realises they’re in her eyes.

A distinct overpowering whiff of TCP wafts from her to join the smell of cooking chicken that’s drifting up from downstairs. Her mother is in the kitchen, she’s like a witch over a cauldron with a big wooden spoon. Churning and churning a bubbling broth in a large saucepan. She’s making Chicken Penicillin and she’s tossing in vegetables, spices, whole chicken carcasses and chanting about, “Bone marrow and antibodies!”

Ridley gladly accepts anything to relieve the misery. She really doesn’t remember when she swallowed the barbed wire that is now stuck in her throat.

As she feasts on her soup, and having taken more drowsy medication, her mobile beside her rings.

“Hello?” She whispers in a hoarse voice.

“Ridley! Help me, my laptop is broken! And I’m in jail!”

Ridley pulls back and peers at the number on the screen. She puts the phone back to her ear. “Who is this?”

“What do you mean, who is this? It’s Latimer! You need to get me out of here, I need to fix my computer!”

Ridley yawns, her tablets begin to kick in. “I don’t understand…my brain it’s not…Lat I can’t help right now, ‘m sorry…ring back later.”

“What!? No, wait…”

Ridley hangs up and immediately nods off.

When she wakes up. She begins to remember the dream, which involved chicken soup and a phone call. She shuffles downstairs, trying to recall its ending. There’s a reporter in the kitchen. There are also two scientists in white coats, huddling over the grubby silver saucepan and poking at a raw onion. 

“I’ve just won a prize!” Her mother beams. “I found the cure to the common cold!”

“Your mother’s made a massive break through.” The man at the kitchen table says with his head bent over his notepad.

“Has she.” Ridley nods to her mother. “Well done. Always said your soup was some good stuff.”

“Your phone keeps ringing, I just took it out of your room, as you were fast asleep and I didn’t want it to wake you.” Her mother hands her back her mobile.

“I’m sure it probably wasn’t important.” Ridley shrugs and scrolls down through the missed calls, the log shows numbers that get longer and more foreign with each hour. There are numerous text messages too.

Ridley, I’m now in Panama. It’s quite hot here.

2 hours later:The Spanish is confusing me, amigo.

7 hours later:Could you send me sun cream?

7 hours and 2 minutes: “Rid, how do you cure burns?

8 hours later:Slowly rising up the ranks, turns out one of the main mob bosses likes Lord of the Rings too. Lots in common.

10 hours later:Am now his right hand man…woman. Thinking of getting a tattoo. Ideas?

12 hours later:It’s a bit loco here at the moment, we’ve decided to stage a break out. I told them all about that one episode of ‘Prison Break’, I watched. It seemed to give them all ideas.

15 hours later:Success! On the way home, can you pick me up from the airport? I’ll show you my new tattoo! Arriving at 5.”

Ridley sighs and glances at the clock, it’s 4.30. Lights from a camera flash blind her. The reporter has started taking pictures of her mother holding up a soup bowl and a spoon.

“I’m going to go change. Gotta pick up Latimer.” Ridley turns to go climb back up the stairs and texts: “Fine. Going to be a little late though.

She gets an immediate reply.

No problem. BTW I’ve brought friends. See you in a bit 🙂

“Have fun!” Her mother calls.

“Depends on your definition.” Ridley mutters.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And that, my friends, is how it all went down, in my head. Haha. Who knows what happens when I got to that airport. I was probably insanely jealous of Latimer’s great tan and cool tattoo (or horrific sun burn and hodge-podge black smudge?) Either way, fun times!

Need more sleep I think! 🙂

Thanks to freedigitalphotos.com for my pictures (except the TCP one,that’s all mine)