Interview with a Vampire Candidate



When the Wall Street Journal reported that giving the blood of young mice to old mice has a rejuvenating effect. The old mice, according to a study from Stanford University and the University of California, improved memory and the ability to learn. Similarly, a Harvard University study reports giving old mice certain proteins improved brain and exercise capabilities and reversed “the effects of aging on the heart.”

Since it seems unlikely researchers are out to improve the lives of geriatric rodents, one must conclude, and WSJ briefly touches on this, scientists hope one day to test this theory on humans.

A close friend sent this news report around via email. One respondent asked, if you could be a vampire, would you? Unsurprisingly, my friend said he has thought about this before. His answer: “A definite maybe.”

That got us talking about what it takes to be a vampire. My concern was the bloody mess of killing people—that and the whole morality of the matter. Yet my friend maintains his particular undeadness would not involve murder—fraud maybe, but not murder. Unlike those discipline-challenged creatures of the night seeking weak and unwitting victims, usually women, he theorizes he would be very much an Anne Rice-like incarnation. In other words, he would BK_Interviewmaintain his human character traits, those of a non-murderous misanthrope who would go about collecting remarkable antiques and, knowing him, make wise investments. His wealth, he speculates, would sustain his ability to buy donated blood. Awkwardly at 213 years old, he would also have trouble getting a passport to travel the world to gather these fabulous treasures, hence the fraud.

Well, we know how these sorts of things just brew all kinds of questions in my mind. For instance, if the traits that would change for my friend in his Anne Rice-created state of immortality were his lack of ability to die, thirst for erythrocytes, lack of reflection and shadow, intolerance to sunlight, shape-shifting abilities, increased strength, and his inability to eat at the Bucharest Grill (read: he must avoid garlic), then what character-traits might change if an old woman received blood transfusions or targeted protein injections from the young in an effort to reverse the effects of aging? Would she be the same old gal who loves French cuisine and British literature? Or would she garner a taste for something younger, racier?

If you lost mobility and suffered from increasing bouts of memory loss and suddenly found yourself able to run a few laps without coughing up a lung or relocated the wallet you misplaced two years ago, then you certainly are not going to be the same person. You are going to change. Markedly? Good question. For the better? Let’s hope so.


Have you read the “Twenty Thirty: The Real Story of What Happens to America” by Albert Brooks (the actor starred in “Broadcast News,” my favorite “Defending Your Life,” and most recently “Drive”)? The novel is a frightening tale of a time in the not-so-distant future when the young hate the old and show it in increasingly caustic, cruel ways. Why? Because the old, they argue, bleed the world’s resources dry by not dying. The novel becomes more fear provoking as science proves itself a formidable storyteller.

Am I suggesting researchers sit in their labs and find out how to make scratch-and-sniff television a reality rather than looking for cures to the great mind suck Alzheimer’s disease or the blood-curdling numbers of cancers and autoimmune diseases? Not at all, I’m just saying “Wow.”

© Leslie Green and Wildemere Publishing LLC [2014].

Cracking that hard shell

Credit Marvel Studios

Credit Marvel Studios

“Raise shields!”

I’m not sure there is an episode of “Star Trek” where Captain Kirk doesn’t over-dramatize those words, a man under his command doesn’t strongly suggest likewise, or Scotty doesn’t declare that getting the Enterprise’s shields up and running just is not possible.

Nearly 50 years after the debut of the iconic sci-fi series, students from the University of Leicester in England have published a paper in the student Journal of Special Physics Topics reporting they have discovered the key to building real-life deflector shields. Shields are everywhere. There’s the pizza joint, Shields Up is the second mission in the video game Borderlands 2, and the Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:16 to put on the whole armor of God: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”

So let’s talk about shields.

I began pondering the subject, word origins, societal definitions, and whatnot of shields this weekend while watching the flick “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Something about the way Steve Rogers, aka superhero Captain America, stored his shield on his back like a turtle made me wonder about the deeper meaning of the word and the action. Then, of course, there is the bigger picture with him working for the agency S.H.I.E.L.D.

Let me say a couple of things before I go further: First, I realize the movie is (ultimately) a work of fiction; second, and most important to some, there are SPOILERS here so stop reading if you have yet to see the film and may be interested; and third, we need to get a few definitions out of the way:

“SHIELD,” an Old English word of “prehistoric” German origin, is derived from the words “divide,” “split,” and “separate.” Those words, in turn, evolved from “scale,” “shell,” and “shelter.”1

Etymologists suspect the word “TURTLE” has French origins. But there is little else found regarding the reptile with the hard-protective shell1. At the same time, considerable symbolism surrounds the creature. For instance, for some it represents quiet strength and the possibility of refuge from an attack. According to Chinese cosmology, turtles cart the world on their backs. On the flip side, turtles to some cultures represent a lack of morality as they are thought to reproduce only by mating with snakes.2 This latter part is particularly curious considering the word’s possible evolution from “scale” to “shield.”

Turtle from the Belle Isle Nature Zoo in Detroit. Credit Leslie Green

Turtle from the Belle Isle Nature Zoo in Detroit. Credit Leslie Green

Fascinating how something that protects can also divide. Captain America’s strength and shield set him apart from other men. With his shield, he not only did battle but he also kept himself from harm—from suffering irreparable damage from attacks that would kill an ordinary man—not once, but time and time again. He also works for S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division), an organization that claims to protect and serve when really the “anti-terrorism” group turns out to be in bed with snakes bent on destroying all who get in their way.

Consider the deflector shields theory. Overly simplified, reports, it works like this: “Essentially, if you can wall yourself off with plasma, it can be used to deflect electromagnetic radiation, like a directed energy weapon (a laser or something similar). … However, the shield works equally well in both directions, so you can’t return fire either. In fact, since the plasma blocks all frequencies at or below the threshold dictated by its density, you probably won’t even be able to see past your own deflector shield.”

Let us look deeper. What are the implications of sealing off whole populations of people? What about one person? Would someone feel the need to test the shield? You know: If your bully big brother knows you have a bruise, isn’t it likely he will press on it to see if it still hurts? Does this sound like a snake-skin turtle to anyone else?

The more I think about this, the more questions I have, like: Who is The Enemy? Perhaps it depends on which media outlet you listen to or your definition of “treaty” (an entirely different discussion) if you are talking about the Cliven Bundy story. Too, what are the implications of failing to protect ourselves from The Enemy? What if we neglect to take up the shield of faith? What happens then? In the case of Steve Rogers, I suspect “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” would have been an awfully short film had he not jumped from the elevator without his trusty shield.


  1. Dictionary of Word Origins by John Ayto
  2. Dictionary of Symbolism: Cultural Icons & the Meanings Behind Them by Hans Biedermann, translated by James Hulbert

© Leslie Green and Wildemere Publishing LLC [2014]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is to Leslie Green and Wildemere Publishing LLC with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.