Thomas Riley Blog Tour

by Nick Valentino

Steampunk is a genre/culture that’s fast becoming a pop culture phenomenon. I wrote the book “Thomas Riley” which is a Steampunk adventure novel, just before the wave of high powered popularity hit which makes it interesting for me to watch it grow. For those that don’t know what Steampunk is, the shortest way I can explain it is Jules Verne meets Indiana Jones with near limitless technology based off of steam and old world power sources.

So why the sudden rise in popularity? Why are people meeting up dressed in top hats, goggles and homemade light up backpacks and machinery? I’m going out on a limb to say that the Steampunk’s popularity is growing as a response to modern day complexities. What I mean by that is the world as we know it is full of technology that’s hard for any of us to really understand. How exactly does a Kindle work? To me it’s a foreign technology from a different world. Steampunk is a hands-on endeavor, where patrons of the culture are able to use their hands and make everything by themselves. It’s the human mind and the spirit of ingenuity that inspires the Steampunk movement. You make your own “weaponry”, you make your own backpacks, watches, art, posters… It’s all DYI and you make it with clockwork, machine parts or whatever you can think of.

In addition to that, the style of steampunk is Victorian dress. Finally you have a reason to dress up while being adventurous at the same time. A big complaint about Steampunk is that it’s strictly a fashion statement. In fact it’s far from that. It’s only a fashion statement when you dress up for the sake of dressing up. The essence of the culture is based around a do it yourself life, one that you can express yourself through your own hand. So go forth! Make you’re your own identity, really the rules are few and far between when it comes to this culture so make it up as you see fit.

In the spirit of do it yourself, and now that you’re obviously curious about Steampunk, you can learn more at

For those that are currently hooked, you can buy the book here:

And for those that want to enlist as a Sky Pirate, go here and you’ll get enlistment papers.

Many thanks and much love to Rebecca for having me today!

First Annual Northern New York Paranormal Expo: The Event

In mid-September I wrote about the then upcoming Northern New York Paranormal Expo. Well, this past Saturday Jim and I hauled it up north to Plattsburgh, NY to see how the first ever paranormal expo presented by the Northern New York Paranormal Research Society and the City of Plattsburgh was going to go down.

There were nearly 30 vendors ranging from psychics, to food, to jewelry, and more! There was a haunted house being run and the screams would echo throughout the gym. They also had speakers giving presentations in two different rooms throughout the day. I attended the welcome given by Merrill McKee, the President of the Northern New York Paranormal Research Society and one of the primary forces behind the expo. He talked about putting together the expo, thanked all the people that helped make the event possible (including an unexpected shout out to yours truly), and took some questions from the audience about the paranormal.

Also, I had the good fortune to hear Gordie Little speak. From what I had been told, he’s a bit of legend in northern New York as a media personality, collecting and sharing ghost lore at sold out ghost tours and writing columns for the Plattsburgh Press Republican newspaper. His first book of collected ghost stories, “Ghosts of Clinton County”, had just released so he spoke at first about how the book came about and then shared all kinds of fun, scary, and sentimental tales of the supernatural with us. He is a charming speaker and his time at the microphone was definitely the best part of the day for me.

I feel it is safe to call the event a success. There was an estimated 900 people who attended the expo. The vendor’s booths always had people crowded around and everyone I spoke to was having a wonderful time, as did I. I’m very proud of my friends at the Northern New York Paranormal Society for their first, of hopefully many, successful events.

The Way of Beauty

“Look at it like this – how long do you think you could sing about gold?”

“It’s yellow and it goes chink and you can buy things with it,” said Tomjon experimentally, as they strolled through the crowds on the Plaza of Broken Moons. “Four seconds, I think.”

– Terry Pratchett “Wyrd Sisters”

That snippet from “Wyrd Sisters” is exactly what I thought of when I picked up the copy of “The Way of Beauty: Five Meditations for Spiritual Transformation” by Francois Cheng that Inner Traditions sent me. A book that discusses nothing but beauty? I mean, how long could I discuss beauty? Let’s see, um, flowers are pretty, puppies are cute, and Angelina Jolie is smoking hot. (I just wish she would put a little of her weight back on. Current Skeletor Jolie is considerably less hot than “Gia” Jolie, can I get an amen in here?) Oh, and sunrises, and sunsets, very beautiful. So what am I at, like 20 words if you don’t count my aside about Angelina Jolie’s current weight? Let’s just say I was curious how you manage to fill 116 pages with an examination of beauty and have it not start sounding like “Gold, gold, gold, gold, gold, gold”.

Fortunately beauty, beauty, pretty, beauty, beauty, beautiful, was not how this book read. “The Way of Beauty” is an exquisitely personal discussion of Cheng’s thoughts on beauty and our relationship with it, that, like all great personal works, readers can find themselves in the text. Here’s one of many beautifully crafted excerpts for you:

Formal beauty exists, of course, but it hardly encompasses the entire reality of beauty. That is more strictly a matter of Being, moved by the imperious desire for beauty. True beauty does not reside only in what is already manifest as beauty; it resides almost primarily in the desire and the impulse. It is a becoming, and the dimension of spirit or soul is vital to it.

“The Way of Beauty” uses Western and Taoist thought to make the reader consider beauty in ways that they may not have thought of before. Honestly, it’s nearly impossible to write a “review” of the book. Such a thoughtful, enlightening, and yes, beautiful book defies review in my opinion.

What I can tell you is that it is beautiful. It will make you think. You should read it.

Ghost Hunters of the Finger Lakes: Investigation Summary

Submitted by the members of the Ghost Hunters of the Finger Lakes

Our group is made up of family members and a few good friends. We are interested in the paranormal for several reasons, one being our grandmother who was sensitive to “spirits” from the other side. She would tell us ghost stories and how she could communicate with what she referred to as her spirit guides which always left us all amazed and intrigued. We also all have had some experiences when we were younger that led us to become very curious about the paranormal. That is why we decided to form a paranormal group. It was not long before our website was created and we started purchasing equipment which enhanced our ability to investigate some pretty cool places. We started investigating houses, inns, pubs, etc. that had reports of paranormal activity. Now we have stories of our own that we can share with our grandkids. Here is just one of the many places that we have investigated.

This is a summary of an investigation we did in a house built in the 1800’s located in upstate New York. It was converted from a church many years ago and had a lengthy history of paranormal activity. There were three investigators present the night of the investigation using digital cameras and digital voice recorders. We also used several night vision cameras as well as EMF meters and thermometers.

We first heard of this house from a story that was submitted to an online newspaper. There were reports of doors slamming, balls rolling around by themselves and disembodied voices coming from the rooms. It is believed that a man accidently drowned in a well on the property. Other claims were of a man that was pulled off a ladder by some unseen force while working next to the house as well as lights that would come back on by themselves during the night for no apparent reason.

We took many readings with our EMF detectors and thermometers and nothing out of the normal was found. There was also nothing found on our IR video cams taken that night. We did however capture some interesting EVP’s that night.

The first EVP that we captured was while walking upstairs with another investigator, I asked the question “is anyone here with us?” My digital recorder instantly received a reply from an older female sounding voice mimicking my question “is anyone here with us “and then she cursed at me using obscenities. This was the first time I have ever been cursed at by a ghost. The next EVP came from a bedroom upstairs. As soon as we walked in the bedroom I instantly had a headache. It was a sharp pain. I could feel the tense pressure; I felt something was going on. I then put my recorder down in the room and left it there. When I played it back the next day I could not believe what we had recorded. There was a man and a woman arguing in the room. The man sounded angry and there were noises like he was hitting her. She sounded like she was crying and was yelling obscenities back at this man.

The next EVP captured came from the downstairs. We had just come from the attic and discovered a small dead dog there. We were trying to figure out how a dog would have gotten in to the house never mind the attic area. When doing some more EVP work we heard a dog’s faint bark from a distance outside the house and I commented on it. One of our investigators had a digital voice recorder placed on his knee at this time. After reviewing the recording we heard the very loud sound of a dog barking that was coming from right next to the recorder. It was very loud and echoed in the room. The barking sound on the recorder started right after we made the comment about the dog barking off in the distance. It actually seemed to be responding to the barking of the other dog. There were no dogs present inside the house at any time we were there. It seemed odd to think that while we were listening for voices that a “ghost” dog may have been sitting right there with us. Our thoughts lingered back to the deceased dog that we had found in the attic.

While in the kitchen, we noticed a cabinet door was open even though upon our first inspection they had all been closed. We tried the cabinet doors and they closed very tightly. We could not prove this to be paranormal but we knew none of us opened the cabinet door. We wished that we had left an IR camera there to catch any proof of this movement.

What seemed like a fairly quiet night of investigating quickly changed while listening to our digital voice recorders the next day. The quiet house we investigated came alive with voices and even barks from a dog when we played them back.

To learn more about the Ghost Hunters of the Finger Lakes, visit their website.

This Blog Post Brought to You By…

For those of you who follow the exciting world of “tech” news, you may have been hearing a lot of noise about how on December 1, 2009 The Federal Trade Commission will require bloggers and celebrities to clearly state when they receive cash or “payment in kind” for endorsing a company’s products or services. This seemed as good of time as any to let you in on how I, and in turn The Magical Buffet, operate. Prepare to probably not be surprised.

As of this moment, The Magical Buffet generates no revenue. We have no paid advertisers, we don’t charge for access to the site (and we never will), and I am not compensated monetarily by anyone for the enchanting articles that I write (but if someone wants to pay me, email me!). In truth, I actually lose money every month creating this wonderous thing you see before you. That said, this unpaid gig is not without its perks.

First, I get to interact with all kinds of awesome people. Have you had an email exchange with Oberon Zell-Ravenheart or Steve Kenson? You know who has? This lady. Also, instead of being “polite” and not talking about politics or religion, I get to do that whenever I want. Take THAT “polite society”! Lastly, I get sent review copies of books and DVDs.

I know from time to time I mention in my reviews that the thing I’m talking about was sent to me by the publisher or distributor, but I don’t always clearly state that fact. Just in case you didn’t know, the books and DVDs I review are given to me in the hopes that I review them.

Here’s the shocker. Stuff that gets reviewed on this website is all stuff I genuinely like. In fact, I had toyed with setting up a website that I wanted to call “Shit Rebecca Likes”. Instead, you poor souls have to put up with hearing about shit I like between articles and interviews from actual professionals. When I started doing reviews I made the conscious decision to only write reviews for things I like and that I think my readers will like. So yes, that means that there is stuff that I get sent that never makes it onto the website, and I’m drunk with the power. Drunk I say!

I’m not anticipating an FTC crackdown on The Magical Buffet, in fact, I’m fairly certain the FTC will never know that I, or my little website that could, even exist. However, it is fair to let people know that hey, I didn’t pay for this book that I’m reviewing. So, um, hey, I haven’t paid for any of the books that I’ve reviewed, but I’ve only reviewed the books and movies that I liked, I’m all moral like that.

And that my friends will probably be the only time I’ll be described anywhere, by anyone, as moral.

Catching Up With Rose

Back in 2007 I received an email from a woman named Rose Rosetree, who offered to do an article about face reading for The Magical Buffet. Since that well received article, we’ve had her back for an interview, and she even had me as a guest blogger on her “Deeper Perception Made Practical” blog in 2008. It seemed like it was past time to catch up with Rose and see what she’s been doing.

Still suffering a bit? I just published a new book that might help. It’s “Become The Most Important Person in the Room: Your 30-Day Plan for Empath Empowerment.” It’s my second how-to book for empaths. Consider it a prequel to the other book, “Empowered by Empathy.”

That first book happened to be the first book in English for helping “merely talented” empaths to become Skilled Empaths. And foreign editions are in Japanese and Turkish, as well as that magical kind of printing called “audio book in English.” But “Become” is funnier, and a quicker way to learn the skill set of Empath Empowerment ™.

Lately, I’ve created a new website especially for empaths,

As for the other chunks of my work, am I still doing Face Reading Secrets (R)? Of course! The same with Aura Reading Through All Your Senses (R) and 12 Steps to Cut Cords of Attachment (R). That means teaching classes, doing personal mentoring by phone, and doing a whole lot of phone sessions to help people move STUFF out of their auras and enjoy life more.

That magical feeling I always get when reading/dining at The Magical Buffet is similar to my typical work day.

About Rose:
Rose Rosetree is a spiritual writer, empath coach, aura reader, face reader and healer. By now she has nearly ¼ million copies of her books in print. You can preview them at the home page of her main website

Later this month, Rose will return to Japan for Teaching-and-Session Tour #10. Since her interview with Magical Buffet, Rose has twice broken a record for VOICE, the sponsoring company that brings teachers and healers to Japan. Both times, Rose’s sessions with clients were by far the most popular in the company’s 27-year history.

Rose’s big work in progress, which she hopes to complete before going to Japan (otherwise before the end of the year) is to fully activate all the websites about her work that have been sitting inactive for the past two years.

At this writing, the only ones ready with clickable articles are: The Empowered Empath website, with tools and articles for empaths, and the blog “Deeper Perception Made Practical”

More buffets of knowledge to come!

The Colbert Healthcare Challenge: The End

Here I am, at the end of an era. Yes my friends, I have completed reading the dreaded 1018 page House healthcare bill. In truth, I finished a little while back but I’ve been trying to figure what the heck to say about it all. The healthcare reform debate manages to remain full of fire and vigor, while I, as if stuck in a perverse version of Dorian Gray, get older and more tired by the day.

I accepted Mr. Colbert’s challenge and did a thing that many notable politicians and pundits did not bother doing, read the entire 1018 page House healthcare bill. What did I learn?

I was out of my depth on day one. The bill was long, it referenced other pieces of legislation that I didn’t have access to, and it required some understanding of how Medicare works. I learned that it was most definitely not a socialist plot to take over our federal government. In truth, I’ve seen stronger acts of socialism from gamer groups placing delivery orders. It also didn’t strike me as being overtly “bad”. To this totally untrained eye, it looked like a bunch of bureaucrats attempting to do the right thing while ruffling as few of feathers as possible. I’m sure buried within its depths are loopholes that would make my eyes bleed if I understood them, or things so awesome that I’d kick myself forever for failing to catch them and mention them here, but alas, if they’re there, they didn’t register.

However, the most important thing I learned is that there is no good excuse not to try. Yes, this was a foolhardy idea from the start. Read an outrageously long piece of legislation that wasn’t even a bill that was going to be voted on. Why bother? Because it’s my right as a United States citizen to hold my elected officials responsible for their actions. I can only do that by educating myself on issues that I care about. You think I know the inner workings of the Zimbabwean government for fun? No, it is so I can write informed and compelling letters to my elected officials about my concerns regarding the country….so they can be ignored. What was my point again?

Oh yes, that the important thing is to try.

Tree Medicine, Magic, and Lore: Flowering Almond

By Ellen Evert Hopman
Illustration by Will Hobbs

The ancient Jews were polytheistic Nature worshippers who saw their highest Goddess in the form of a tree, the Flowering Almond. Almond trees give of themselves in many ways, providing nourishment in their fruits and fragile pink blossoms to herald the early spring. In their delicate beauty the ancients saw the qualities of the Goddess, blessing Her people with sustenance and grace.

At that time Yahweh was one of several male deities including Baal, El, and Hadad. The Goddess was known as Ashera, Anash or Qedesh. The Ashera (Goddess, Tree, Pillar) was also known as Elah, the feminine aspect of El. The Elah would be set up on a high place, an artificial platform or altar or on a hill if at all possible. In desert areas where trees would not grow a pillar was erected with a bust or face of the Goddess placed on top. So important was the flowering tree in the minds of the people that when the Yahwist High Temple religion took over, the memory of the Ashera was kept holy. Ancient Biblical scripture specified that the Menorah, the candelabrum of the time of the Winter Solstice and the darkest moon of the year, must look like a Flowering Almond tree with buds on its branches. A chief cult of the Temple of Yahweh lit its Menorah on all-important occasions. As it was forbidden to depict or even to name Yahweh in any physical form, so it was forbidden to depict the Menorah, symbol of the Deity in female aspect. Thus the earliest images come to us from Roman times when the conquering Latins carved a Menorah onto a triumphal arch. In modern times the Menorah is lit during the dark of the moon in the darkest season of winter.

about the author:

Ellen Evert Hopman is a Druid Priestess, herbalist and author of “Priestess of the Forest: A Druid Journey”, “A Druids Herbal – Of Sacred Tree Medicine”, “Walking the World in Wonder – A Children’s Herbal” and other volumes. Visit her website for more!

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Rebecca’s Universal Truths

On the morning of October 2, 2009, like many of you, I learned about the attempted blackmailing of David Letterman. As I watched the clip of his Thursday night telecast, and observed Letterman’s masterful retelling of the events leading up to revealing his affair and subsequent role as victim of blackmail, I found myself yelling at the screen. I was yelling at the blackmailer, are you some kind of idiot?! What are you doing?! You never, EVER, back a professional comedian into a corner! They will CUT you!

And sure enough, in my opinion, that blackmailer got owned. You know he was thinking, I’ve got Letterman right where I want him. Unfortunately, the blackmailer ignored my number one universal truth, never, ever back a professional comedian into a corner. Now we’ve seen the result. The blackmailer was doing his best Dirk Dastardly laugh, meanwhile Letterman was prepping to go on HIS show on NATIONAL television and tell everyone, you know what? I did have sex with female staff members. Obviously the blackmailer was already in custody, but you know he saw it somehow, and Letterman telling the world his $2 million secret had to be an extra punch in that guy’s gut.

If only this man had known my number one universal truth! Therefore, in an attempt to prevent future tragedies, I thought I should share my short list of universal truths.

Number one, never, EVER, back a professional comedian into a corner. They can, and will, CUT you! Anyone who watches The Daily Show with Jon Stewart or The Colbert Report has probably witnessed this universal truth first hand. It eventually happens that one of them has a guest who is “highly educated” and/or an “expert” and they decide to take Stewart or Colbert to task. Stewart will usually take a hit or two, but just when the guest thinks they have subdued Stewart, he will come out with an uppercut that would make anyone cry. We’ve all seen Stewart’s appearance on Crossfire, right? There is a short list of people I fear, Jon Stewart is probably in my top ten. (Ironically, Anthony Bourdain, who I get to meet in November, is on the list too. Lord have mercy on my soul.)

Number two, always be nice to maintenance personal and people in the service industry. They bring you food, fix your toilets, ring out your purchases in a store, etc. Yes, those guys. It always pays to be nice to these folks. The less you would want their job, the nicer you should be to them. Trust me, you’ll be richly rewarded.

Number three, a compliment is a compliment. Recently I was joking with some friends about going to a strip club. I hear the strippers will buy me drinks if I go, so I’ll be drinking for free. My husband helpfully pointed out, you realize it’s because they’d be hitting on you, right? This prompted a round of laughter from the group. My response, so? I’m straight, I know I’m straight. Why should I get weirded out if I think a woman is hitting on me? More or less so than a man hitting on me? Let’s do a little straight talk here people, I’m 33 years old, with some acne that would probably bury most teenagers, and the cutest little pot belly that makes people go, is that a cute little pot belly or is she starting a baby bump? Ladies, if you want to tell me you think I’m hot….THANK YOU! My vanity far outweighs any sexual hang-ups I may be lugging around. You find me attractive, you compliment me, well thank you. I’m happily married to a wonderful man, but it is always nice to have someone say, hey good looking. To reiterate, a compliment is a compliment. Fellas, some gent gives you a line, thank them. Would you prefer no one letting you know that you still got it?

Number four, never withhold information about a death in the family from your children. They WILL find out before you tell them and they WILL hold it against you for a very, very long time.

Number five, you should always be clear about what you want, and never be afraid to ask questions, but at the end of the day, you need to let professionals do what they do without pestering them. They are professionals for a reason, give them a little trust and more often than not, you will be greatly rewarded.

Number six, always, ALWAYS, look at how much money goes to the actual charity before buying something for a “good cause”. If you really believe in the organization, just cut them a check. A $275 necklace may say I support a cause, but when only $5 goes to the organization it also says, but I don’t care enough to give the actual charity any real money.

Number seven, it’s okay to be annoyed by stupid people, as long as you’re able to recognize when you’re being the stupid one.

Number eight, I am not a rock star. You’re probably not either.

Number nine, if you’re in junior high or high school, and you have a friend who is aggressively trying to set you up with one of their friends of the opposite sex, it’s because they have a crush on said friend. Don’t ask me how I know, just trust me on this one.

Number ten, all the really cool people read The Magical Buffet. It’s a universal truth!

It’s Again Time to “Think Before You Pink”

October is here. It’s once again Breast Cancer Awareness Month, or some such title. There’s a lot of ground to cover here, so let’s dive right in.

Last October I introduced you to Breast Cancer Action, and more specifically their “Think Before You Pink Campaign”. Click here to get reacquainted. Now that you remember the basics of the campaign, I’m here to tell you they are taking on some big game this season, pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. Here’s the one minute sum up:

Milking Cancer from Breast Cancer Action on Vimeo.

To learn more about Breast Cancer Action and their “Think Before You Pink” campaign, visit their website.

Also, for my San Francisco, CA area readers, might I suggest taking a trip to ArtHaus on 411 Brannan Street? This October, ArtHaus gallerists James Bacchi and Annette Schutz invite you to “Think Before You Pink.” It’s an invitational exhibition exposing the breast cancer “pink industry.” 20% of all exhibition sales will benefit Breast Cancer Action during the month of October.

Want to support art and Breast Cancer Action but can’t get to San Francisco? You can purchase the limited edition poster “This Elixir – It Won’t Fix Her” for $50 plus shipping and handling, by contacting Breast Cancer Action at 415-243-9301 ext. 22. All proceeds from the poster benefit Breast Cancer Action.