Saturday, March 31, 2007


This review comes to you courtesy of my friend Joy who lives in the valley of the sun:


1. You must first learn to pronounce the city name, it is: "FEE-NICKS".

2. The morning rush hour is from 5:00 am to noon. The evening rush hour is from noon to 7:00 pm. Friday's rush hour starts on Thursday morning.

3. The minimum acceptable speed on most freeways is 85 mph. On Loop 101, your speed is expected to match the highway number. Anything less is considered "Wussy".

4. Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. Phoenix has its own version of traffic rules. For example, cars/trucks with the loudest muffler go first at a four-way stop; the trucks with the biggest tires go second. However, East Valley, SUV-driving, cell phone-talking moms ALWAYS have the right of way.

5. If you actually stop at a yellow light, you will be rear ended, cussed out, and possibly shot.

6. Never honk at anyone. Ever. Seriously. It's another offense that can get you shot.

7. Road construction is permanent and continuous in Phoenix. Detour barrels are moved around for your entertainment pleasure during the middle of the night to make the next day's driving a bit more exciting.

8. Watch carefully for road hazards such as drunks, skunks, dogs, barrels, cones, cows, horses, cats, mattresses, shredded tires, Squirrels, rabbits, crows, vultures, javelinas, roadrunners, and the coyotes feeding on any of these items.

9. Maricopa Freeway, Papago Freeway and the "I-10" are the same road. SR202 is the same road as The Red Mountain FWY. Dunlap and Olive are the same street too. Jefferson becomes Washington, but they are not the same street. I-17 is also called The Black Canyon Freeway as well as The Veterans Memorial Highway. And if all that isn't enough to remember SR 51 has recently been renamed to Piestewa Freeway because Squaw Peak Parkway was too easy pronounce. SR 101 is also the Pima FWY except west of I-17, which is also The Black Canyon FWY, and The Veterans Memorial HWY. Lastly, Thunderbird Rd. Becomes Cactus Rd. but, Cactus Rd. Doesn't become Thunderbird Rd. Because it dead ends at a mountain.

10. If someone actually has their turn signal on, wave them to the shoulder immediately to let them know it has been "accidentally activated."

11. If you are in the left lane and only driving 70 in a 55-65 mph zone, you are considered a road hazard and will be "flipped off" accordingly. If you return the flip, you'll be shot.

12. For summer driving, it is advisable to wear potholders on your hands.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

MOONCHILD by Aleister Crowley

Moonchild, by Aleister Crowley.
Boston: Weiser Books, 2004, (1927). paperback, 335 pps.

Aleister Crowley remains a bit of a controversial figure nowadays. I do have a few acquaintances who are fascinated by the legend. Truthfully, I myself have a grudging respect for someone who walked naked through an English town to a favorite cafe, believing that the invisibility spell he had cast rendered him invisible [as told by John Sutton in his biography].

But there are plenty of other things which are less admirable. One of them is Crowley's track record with women. He tended to pick out unstable addicted women, encouraged them to believe that they were "channeling" ascended masters or spiritual entities of some sort or another, and cheated on them with predominantly other males. Crowley was interested in gaining personal power through the use of "magick." Crowley-- not present day fluffy bunnies so-called-- popularized the spelling of "magick" with the "k" in order to distinguish it from sleigh of hand magic. The extra "k" was also a subtle reference to the Greek word kteis which meant the female reproductive organs.

Moonchild is a work of fiction which is interspersed with his own occult ideology. Crowley in real life was interested in creating a perfect specimen of humanity-- a sort of god incarnate. There are other references in the book to a few of his rivals; a "black" lodge, the poet William Butler Yates [who appeared in the book as "Gates,"], and H. Spencer Lewis who founded A.M.O.R.C. [who was a character named "Butler"]. The appearance of Eliphas Levi [who in real life Crowley claimed to be a reincarnation of], and the hideaway on an Italian island are among the many references in the book which point to things that Crowley believed or experienced. In order to truly understand Moonchild, the reader must know something of the author who penned it.

The story itself, reflective of Crowley's pathos, is engaging at once. From the first chapter dealing with a "chinese god," through the introduction of Lisa, and right on through to the ending introduced and developed a formidable cast of characters. The plot and dialogue were both engaging. Narrative passages were explanatory and flowed into the story.

I was not seeking any great mystical understanding when I picked up Moonchild. As a work of fiction written by a crazed occultist, it did not disappoint. Those who are hoping to gain an unbiased understanding of the author won't find that in the book Moonchild. Moonchild is chock full of Crowley's delusional 'magick' and the casual reader might do better elsewhere. Those who do not recognize the truth about Aleister Crowley will plow through Moonchild looking for hints of his present-day charisma I am sure. As for me, I liked the book even though I do not like the man.

sapphoq reviews

Friday, March 23, 2007


In my planning of a rather complicated itinerary, I was recently very impressed by an Amtrak Service Rep over at
1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245) or TDD/TTY (1-800-523-6590).

He seemed in no hurry to get me off the phone, was willing to answer all of my questions, and offered some very helpful travel tips. He was himself a train hobbyist and enthusiast. A nice gentleman with charm.

Service reps from Micro$oft can certainly take lessons.

As can several area travel agents, including one notable young woman who spent three hours in throwing together a hodge-podge of bad advice. [You can too take a cab from Point A to Point B...Why did you change your mind about this? Read: impractical cab ride of a duration of four hours...and a schedule involving the meeting of a friend. Thanks for nothing.]
I allowed her to live that day, just barely. As I gathered myself up to exit, I pointed out the similarities between what she had just gone through in her three hours of futility was very much like what my atypical neurology forces me to live with daily.

Kudos, Amtrak. I do believe you will get me there.

sapphoq reviews

Thursday, March 15, 2007

TROLL FELL by Katherine Langrish

Troll Fell, by Katherine Langrish. New York: Harper-Collins, 2004. paperback, 355 pgs.

Katherine Langrish's first novel is set in a fantasy Nordic era and at once engages the reader in the struggles of Peer Ulfsson and his dog Loki. Having been orphaned, a wicked uncle appears to take him away to a place where trolls live under a mountain and where a Granny with fangs inhabits a murky stream near a mill. To his astonishment, one wicked uncle morphs into twins. Peer finds love and a courage he didn't know he had.

The author hails from a part of northern England where ancient Danish influences can still be found. Her own scholarly research paints a realistic portrait of life way back when in rugged Scandanavia. This tale pleased me immensely and I look forward to more.

Although the writing style indicates that the book is suitable for young teens, it is cautioned here that the very sensitive should be steered to other stories.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007


St Patrick's day is coming up. A river in Chi-town will be dyed green for several hours and some folks will be whooping it up with green beer. Once again, a glbtiq Irish group will be denied a marching permit at the New York City Parade. Some pagans are circulating a letter suggesting that rather than green, we pagans wear snakes on that day. St. Patrick was said to drive the druids out of Ireland.

Patrick was born either in England, Wales, or France [depending upon which historical account one finds most credible] of Roman parents sometime during the fifth century a.d. He was kidnapped and sold into slavery and that is how he got to Ireland "the first time." At the age of 16, he was forced to be a shepherd. It is said that a dream he had helped him escape from Ireland around the age of 22 or 26. He then studied for the priesthood [uh, maybe] at any rate he was studying something somewheres or other for a bit until a vision or hallucination or dream told him to go back to Ireland. Patrick was given his name Patricus during his ordination or something. Again, depending upon preferences for which sources, Patrick was either affiliated with the Roman Catholics, the ancient Church of England, the Baptists, or none of the above. The idea that he explained the trinity using a shamrock is crap-- the shamrock symbol for the trinity didn't come about for a thousand years or so after his death. There were no snakes in Ireland. The "snakes" he drove out might or might not be [or might have come about later as] a reference to the spiritual takeover of Ireland by the Roman Catholics or the other christians around [again depending upon who you believe]. He was not the first with a missionary bent to arrive upon the druidic Irish shores.

He might have died on March 17th or he might not have. At any rate, the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church both recognize the date as one to celebrate the conversion of pagan Ireland to their version of christianity. Yes, I will be wearing a snake on that day this year. Not because "our spiritual ancestors were killed." Rather, because we pagans and heathens continue to survive in spite of ugly rumors about us and our beliefs and our lifestyles.

sapphoq reviews

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A TRIP TO THE BEACH by Melinda and Robert Blanchard 36/07

A Trip to the Beach, by Melinda and Robert Blanchard. New York: Random House, 2000. 295 pps., paperback.

The Blanchards decided to move from Vermont to Anguilla and open a restaurant. Their dream exploded from a shanty serving lunches and snacks into a full-blown restaurant with fine cuisine. With the help of islanders, they were slowly able to locate what they needed, built the restaurant, and found suppliers for the ingredients for their entrees. A few of Melinda Blanchard's original recipes are interspersed throughout the book, making my mouth water. It is particularly chilly here today so I am also hankering for a bit of island life. The book is definitely more interesting than this review makes it sound. Recommended for anyone who has daydreams of starting over in a warmer clime.

sapphoq reviews

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Google Reader is one of the services that Google offers users. I found the personalized Google homepage first. I added some feeds to the homepage but I wasn't satisfied because I wound up with six tabs and feeds in boxes scattered all over.

A friend told me about the reader and I checked it out. The Google Reader has truly been pleasant. It is easy to hunt for subscriptions by feeds or by subject matter or by title. Adding them is done with the push of a button. When I want to read my subscriptions, I sign in and there they are! The ability to scroll through my subs, the set-up, click a title to the whole article all yields pleasure. Now that my widgets are confined to my personalized homepage and my subs to my Google Reader, I have become a happy camper indeed.

Adding to my ecstasy is the ability to add a clip to my blogs [I added one to this blog] and to share selected articles. Again, push button. Remarkably easy.

Google continues to shine in my world. So much so that I am considering buying stock.
Well done Google, well done.

sapphoq reviews