Dracula Annotated: Another Excerpt

Monday, October 27, 2014

(As the wolves begin to howl again, JONATHAN HARKER enters carrying a suitcase and a briefcase. He stands before the front doors of the decaying medieval Castle Dracula, located in the Carpathian Mountains. HARKER pulls his coat more tightly around him as the cries of the wolf pack surround him. Joining the wolf call, ILONA and ELIZABETA creep towards HARKER from the shadows. As HARKER’s terror peaks, DRACULA appears at the top of the stairs. The wolves stop howling. ILONA and ELIZABETA run off. DRACULA descends the stairs and extends his hand to HARKER in greeting. HARKER takes a step back at the sight of him.)

Mr. Harker, I am Dracula. I bid you welcome to my home. 
(Noticing HARKER’s distress, he shows concern)
Have you become unwell on your journey?

I have just had the most disconcerting experience. Your coach raced through the woods barely out-running a hungry wolf-pack. They followed me to your door. Until you appeared, I thought I was about to be attacked.

Within these walls lies haven from the creeping dangers found in the surrounding forest.

Coming from the city, I am not used to such wild and untamed lands. I must confess I have felt a sense of impending danger since we left the Borgo Pass.

My apologies, I take my surroundings for granted. Had I any comprehension of how the primordial nature of these mountains would affect you, I would have warned you in one of my missives.

(Laughing nervously)
It was quite an introduction to Transylvania. I shall not soon forget it. I am grateful to be within the safety of your walls. Now I know to stay within them during my visit.

(Extending his hand to shake)
Count Dracula, I’m honored to finally meet you after so many months of correspondence. I fear I have embarrassed myself.

(Shaking hands)
Nonsense. It is intimidating to be a stranger in a strange land.

(HARKER is overwhelmed by DRACULA’s vice-like grip.)
You will need to refresh yourself after such a long journey.
(DRACULA picks up HARKER’s luggage.)
My people are disposing of another matter. I will see to your comfort myself. Come.

(He starts back up the stairs motioning for HARKER to follow.)

(Reaching for his luggage)
A man of your position shouldn’t be carrying my traps. Please, let me --

Never! You are my guest.
He motions HARKER to enter a bedroom where he has put down the luggage.)
I trust you will find all you need.

Your welcome is most courteous.

When you are ready, join me below in the drawing room.
(DRACULA goes back down the stairs to the drawing room where he sets a table for dinner as HARKER washes up and changes into formal evening attire. HARKER descends the stairs carrying his briefcase and enters the drawing room as DRACULA finishes.)
Mr. Harker, be seated and sup. I have ...
(Pouring a glass of red wine for HARKER.)
...dined already, and I do not sup.

(Removing a sealed letter from his briefcase)
Then please be so good as to read this letter from my employer, Mr. Hawkins, while I dine. He regrets that he couldn’t meet you himself. His doctors warned him that the journey would worsen the gout from which he constantly suffers.
(DRACULA takes the letter, opens it, and reads as HARKER dines.) 

Mr. Hawkins says he has complete confidence in your ability to fulfill my every desire.

I’ll do all I can to live up to his wishes. He’s like a father to me. He took me in after my parents died and trained me to be a solicitor.

What a kind fellow. You have no other family?

We just have each other. His wife died a few years ago. Do you have family?

Sadly, I am the last of my line. 


You never married?

I have buried three wives with no issue. Katrina died in childbirth, Elizabeta took her own life, and Ilona was lost to politics.

My condolences.

So, we of different heritage find common ground in death and abandonment.
A great sadness passes over his features for an instant, and is gone.)
And travel to foreign lands. Tell me of your journey 
...before the wolves. My driver says your coach arrived early at the Borgo Pass.

Yes. I was afraid we’d miss your caliché. Then, suddenly, it appeared out of the fog and the darkness, terrifying several of the passengers. One of them said the oddest thing. He said that our coach was fast, but the dead travel faster. Is this some local colloquialism?

Our people are a superstitious lot. They believe these mountains surrounding this castle are haunted by the damned.

That would explain why the innkeeper’s wife spoke to me hysterically of ‘Ordog’ and ‘vrokol’ when she heard I was traveling this way. I’ve found the words to mean ‘Satan’ and ‘undead.’ When I told her I wouldn’t cancel my journey, she gave me this...
(HARKER pulls rosary beads out from under his shirt. DRACULA will not look at the crucifix and hides physical pain.)

This is foolishness!
Surprised by the reaction, HARKER puts the rosary away, DRACULA relaxes.)

While I don’t take your peasant’s superstitions seriously, after my experiences on the way here, I can see how this area plays on their minds. The earth itself emanated a sinister presence as we passed through the thick pine forest and it felt as if something was spurring on the wolves’ pursuit. My rational mind knows it’s distance from the civilization of a large city which plays on my fears, yet I swear I feel a darkness here that seems to suck at my soul.

I can assure you the only hostile creatures in the area are wolves. As a youth I played in those darkened woods. My childhood bedtimes stories were tales of the godless spirits of the vanquished who supposedly walk in their midst. You see, for many centuries these lands buffered Christian Europe from the Ottoman Empire. We of the Dracul my family -- were the proud warriors who defended this country again and again as the Sultan’s forces bore down upon it. We drove fear into the hearts of the infidels at the end of pike and sword, face to face, slaughtering all who stood in our path. The land was a thirsty beast quenched by a river of red, until blood became too precious a thing. Action gave way to diplomacy. Diplomacy led to betrayal, slicing through my heart long before an assassin’s blade reached it.

You speak as if you were there.

I am Voivode, and to us, the pride of our ancestors is our own pride. Their pain is our pain.

With such a long family history here, I am surprised you wish to leave.

Until recently we had very little contact with the peoples of the world beyond our mountains, but I have been reenergized by the new blood which has found its way to my door. The steam engine has brought several adventurous spirits to our country. They fed my own need for adventure. These visitors told me that England is the greatest power in the world, wetting my appetite for a taste of what your country has to offer. Tell me of my new home there.

The estate is called Carfax. A stone wall and forest of trees hides the house and a chapel with thick walls and few windows.
(Pulling papers from his briefcase)
Here are some photographs of the property for your perusal.

(Glancing at the photographs)
I rejoice that there is a medieval chapel. We Transylvanian nobles do not love to think that our remains may lie among the common dead.

Your only neighbor, though close to a mile away, is a lunatic asylum. You’ll not, however, see it from your grounds. Here is the contract we discussed in our correspondence.

(He signs the contract.)


Before Paris and Nicole dreamed of the simple life, Southern California native Billy Kaufman sold his West Hollywood home and moved to a 300 acre farm in the backwoods of Woodbury, Tennessee. Kaufman was ready to escape the big city life and explore his interest in sustainable organic farming before it was even cool. And now he is ahead of his time once again, producing small batch moonshine under the Short Mountain Distillery label, which just won a gold from the International Craft Awards.

Kaufman has definitely made Tennessee home. When he traded the Hollywood Hills for the rolling hills of his picture perfect farm in the wilds of Cannon County, he left the designer wardrobe behind and can be found most days in a tee shirt, suspenders, jeans and a comfortable set of well worn work boots. His office is a cramped room behind the still with two big desks and a jaunty cat, of questionable friendliness, named Mr. Whisky curled up on a pile of papers. As we talk, Kaufman absent-mindedly strokes the motor-boating feline.

 “You know this farm is notorious,” Kaufman said before I could even get a question out of my mouth. “Not too long after I moved here I found out it had a history of famous moonshiners. One of which regularly sold to Al Capone. He even came to visit once. The moonshiner had all of his friends line up down the road to the farm with guns. Didn’t quite trust Capone.”

His dark eyes glitter and his handlebar moustache dances as he tells the type of stories that make sipping moonshine so interesting. This drink is more than a little naughty. It was only a few short years ago that it was still illegal to have a sip. But Kaufman would have none of that.

“Not long after I moved here I was was approached by some of my new friends to put a still on my land; it does have the best natural cave spring in the county,” Kaufman said. “I agreed to put a still on my farm, but not the illegal kind.  After a legal referendum and a local election, I was able to have the laws in this conservative, dry county changed to allow for the legal distillation of spirits.  Soon the former illegal moonshiners were working legally. Although, I have heard there are still illegal still out in the hills.” A devious grin crossed is lips when he shared that last piece of information.

Not too long after beginning his distilling adventure, Kaufman enlisted his brothers, David and Ben in his new venture, the Golden Rule Distilling Company. The name is taken from a part of the history in their great grandfather’s company, Samsonite.  Jessee Shwader, the family’s patriarch, used to give out Golden Rule marbles to all his employees, vendors and friends. It represented the values of the company, its’ founders and their families.

“We want to continue that tradition as we bring jobs to the county. I hope more people catch on to moonshine as a mixer and help with economic development in the area.”

Kaufman felt it was important to create jobs in the community, and hired the Smothersman Brothers to work the 250 copper Vendome still that was installed into a converted pole barn.  The Golden Rule team quickly developed a unique sugar shine as their first product, an authentic moonshine recipe practiced for generations in Cannon County. It was a huge success, and shortly thereafter came Apple Pie and then Prohibition Tea. They have begun to barrel Bourbon and have plans to release a Tennessee Whiskey.  This distillery makes 100% of it’s own products and is competing in the high end, organic segment of the market.

“We hope that everyone who drinks our product has a little taste of the backwoods life,” adds Kaufman. “Cannon County is a great place to work and a great place to kick back and get away from it all. We’ve even been blessed with a visit from a couple of celebrities looking for a taste of the simple life.”

Kristen Stewart’s directorial debut, Sage + Saint’s “Take Me to the South” video, was partly shot on location there. As a matter of fact, the goat in Kirsten’s arms from the photo that exploded all over the internet belongs to Kaufman. Two other famous visitors were Shannen Doherty and HollyMarie Combs. They visited the distillery while shooting a their new show for GAC, Off the Map. You’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the distillery on their show in 2015.

Now, those of you living in the LA market can get a taste, too. Just a few months ago, Ben Kaufman returned from living on the Tennessee farm to his Los Angeles home to bring Short Mountain Distillery products to Southern California. You can find Short Mountain Distillery products in the following retail locations:  Compliment Wine in Beverly Hills, the Cask in Beverlywood, Greenblatts Deli in Hollywood, Green Jug in West Hills, Wades Wine in Agoura, Colony Liquor in Malibu and Hi-Times in Costa Mesa. It is also available at SHOREbarPlan Check, Perch, and The Monty Bar. You can also find them on the web at www.ShortMountainDistillery.comhttp://www.shortmountaindistillery.com or at Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ShortMountainDistilleryhttps://www.facebook.com/ShortMountain?rf=277677492309212.

Beyond the Lemonade Stand: Guiding Rules (Part I)

Friday, October 24, 2014

After going through the “Get to Give” questionnaire with Biz Camp students to get their buy-in -- discussed in my last “Lemonade Stand” blog -- I reviewed camp rules. I let participants know that these rules and expectations were non-negotiable, and there were consequences for breaking them, namely getting kicked out of the camp. Since the goal of the camp was to win a computer for each member of your team, that was a pretty big threat. And yes, in my 10 years of running the camp, I did ask some kids to leave. Not many, I had good kids and a good staff to help work through the sticking points.

Before the camp started, I had an orientation meeting for campers and their parents. It was a way for me to meet the parents and them to meet me. I went over all the rules the first time with everyone at this meeting. So, if a parent got a call to come pick up their child and not bring him/her back, they were not surprised.

At the second year orientation I heard two kids talking. One, we’ll call him Brad, had come to help out and had already gone through the camp. The other one, we’ll can him Rick, was going to participate that summer. Brad said to Rick about me, “Yeah, she doesn’t give you anything. You have to really work for everything you get. It was the hardest I have ever worked in my life, and I loved it!”

Yep, the rules work. Just make sure you stick to them.

Rule # 1: You will be expected to act like a business person since you will be learning about business. We will expect you to clean up after yourself after every hands-on project by throwing away the trash and putting supplies back where they belong. After you eat, throw out your garbage. Go to the restroom, put the paper towel in the trash bin after wiping up any water you splashed on the counter.

Rule #2: You will be assigned to a team. You will have to learn to work together to complete your final business plan. If you can’t get along with the members of your team, your team will probably lose. We will not remove members who don’t work well together. In business you will have to work on projects with people you do not like, and still have to find a way to succeed. Might as well learn how to do it now.

Rule #3: Life is not fair. There are winners and there are losers. While camp administration will create as level a playing field as we can to get things started, not everyone succeed. One team will win. The rest will lose. As Olympic gold medal winner Mia Hamm says, “Failure happens all the time. It happens every day in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it.” Take what you learned at the camp and move on.

Rule #4: There is a dress code, follow it. Different businesses require different styles of dress. Some will require more formal clothing than others. Don’t buy new clothing for the camp, but be aware of what you have that will be applicable and age appropriate. You’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression, and in today’s world you have seven seconds. Seven seconds that can possibly affect the rest of your business life. Past Biz Camp participants have made connections that have led to high school job shadow opportunities, college internships and post-college jobs.

These are the first four rules for the Biz Camp. There are four more to come. And a few hints for camp success. They will be my next blog.

At this point I need to mention Charles Sykes book “Dumbing Down Our Kids.” It explains the toughness of my rules above. This is his rule number four:
     “If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a
     boss. He doesn't have tenure.”

Lee Rennick is a freelance writer, former Vice-President of Marketing and past Executive Director of the Business Education Foundation of Rutherford County, TN. She shares her interests and knowledge about working, learning and living at http://www.sidelinemusings.com.

Photo from MorgueFiles.