Women’s fascination with Vampire stories

-“Doctor…The best moment is when he’s ready to plunge his teeth into her neck.”

After more than 40 years of medical practice, we thought we had heard everything. How wrong we were. A few days ago, we were casually chatting about the latest streaming series with a lady patient, when the subject of Vampire stories came up. Slightly surprised that so many horror movies and series were shown during the sad times of this cruel pandemic, we asked her for her opinion with a tad of ingenuity.

She told us that not only she watches them but most of her girlfriends do the same. She explained to us that it was a harmless escapist relief for the domestic drudgery that the social isolation and safety requirements of the pandemic imposed on us. And the burden of keeping the household safe has fallen disproportionately on women. As a result, besides fulfilling their regular work and household duties, they have to keep track of the sanitary requirements of the national, state and county regulations.

Note. This reproduction of Edvard Munch’s The Vampire was taken from Wikimedia Commons.


Gothic fiction is literature and film genre dealing with horror, death, and romance; the attainment of pleasurable terror is the major emotional endgame in these works. In a deviant variant of the prevailing Romanticism of the literature of the 18th century the Gothic writers aim to engage their readers’ energies into reaching The Sublime; for that end, they use scenes of decay, death, and morbidity to shock our sensibility. The first known book in the English Language is the 1794 novel by Horace Walpole initially titled as The Castle of Otranto and later renamed as A Gothic story.

The unique emotional aesthetic of this genre was given by Edmund’s Burke’s 1757 A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful. In an excellent Wikipedia review article, they summarized Burke’s thesis like this: “the Sublime is that which is or produces the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling; the Sublime is most often evoked by Terror, and to cause Terror we need some amount of Obscurity—we can’t know everything about that which is inducing Terror—or else a great deal of the apprehension vanishes.”

In a now famous retreat hosted by Lord Byron in a villa au bord du Lac de Genève in the summer of 1816, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, John William Polidori and the mad, bad, and dangerous to know poet himself engaged in a competition for the scariest ghost story. From that unique engagement, two major works of art emerged, which have a special resonance for the plight of women under the yoke of the abhorrent Patriarchate. Don’t you know that the latter still exists?

One of them was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) and the other one was Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819). In those times, women were not supposed to have the wits to discuss philosophical issues, let alone design books dealing with them. Mary Shelley had to hide behind her husband for 30 years before acknowledging her authorship. Polidori’s book was based on an earlier unfinished story written by Lord Byron titled The Burial: a fragment, with the story of a not yet dead character. The best version of Vampire lore—Bram Stoker’s Dracula—was published in 1897.

Why would modern educated women feel that irresistible attraction for Vlad Dracul? We might dare to suggest that, like their sisters of the nineteenth century, these ladies feel trapped by the constrictive corset of quaint social norms from the Patriarchate. Moreover, the added financial, labor, and cultural burdens of this pandemic have irked them so much that they are more receptive to the forbidden charm of eroticism. They are tired of “the same old” in workplaces, social reunions, beds.

To pick up any clues, you might want to pay more attention to your wife’s watchlist. If there are too many horror series, it might be time for action. Without any prejudice, you might want to pre-emptively avoid her jump from a virtual fantasy into the meatier world of Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

Imagine if in a very casual, anodyne encounter with a total manly stranger in the elevator, she starts craving for le frisson from the parsimonious physicality of his feral kissing down her velvety neck…

In our book Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague, we cautioned distracted men:

A nugget of Wisdom. You just found out that your wife is having an affair.

Not with an ex, a colleague, or a friend. The swipe-to-the-right kind of guy. What should you do? First try to de-familiarize and de-institutionalize your bond.

If the issue is a waning flame, why not fire it up ? On the spur of the moment call the baby-sitter , make a dinner reservation, and pick her up at work with a bouquet.

Booking a kinky room with mirrors galore in a tawdry motel is optional.”

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Basque-style Cod stew

Cod, symbol of the Sea, and Lamb, symbol of the Earth, are two pillars of traditional Basque cuisine.

Owners of small plots of land in the damp, verdant hills of Euskadi, the Basque people traditionally reared sheep (easier to manage than bigger animals like cows) and used the abundant iron ore and wood in their mountains to build potent ships. First they became seafarers in the Bay of Biscay and then they ventured into the New World, building the whaling stations of Newfoundland. Not only they caught whales for their meat and blubber for oil, but they also fished the then abundant Cod. 

Note. This image of a typical village of the Basque Country was taken from Wikimedia Commons.


In closely knight communities, they celebrated their blessings with colorful dances and hearty meals.

Note. This image of the Basque dancers was taken from Wikimedia Commons.


On Sunday we prepared  for dinner a dish of Basque-style Cod stew, what we casually refer as Bacalao a la Vízcaina in the Spanish Language. It has been a staple of our fabulous ethnic cooking since our ancestors, sporting their unique slanted eyes and using their enigmatic Esquerra language, emigrated from the Central Asian steppes to the Western foothills of the Pyrénés mountains. Kaizo!!!

We assembled the necessary elements: two pounds of fresh Cod bought at our local Whole Foods, potatoes and sweet potatoes, onions, red peppers, chick peas, sweet peas, canellini beans, and some seasoning: salt, black pepper, garlic, basil and paprika . What is ostensibly missing? The white wine.

When we were growing up in Montevideo, Uruguay, our grandmother Marta Salguero (mother of our father Mario and keeper of the French and Basque traditions of our family) was in charge of preparing this stew for Easter dinner; she bought the salted Norwegian Cod in the quaint grocery of an Orthodox Jewish merchant called Mr. Singer. He had a family business in a cavernous quaint facility in front of the Central Market (Mercado Central) of the city’s port in the Old Section (Ciudad Vieja) We often accompanied her in that errand because as soon as you crossed its threshold, you were literally assaulted by the sweet and sour aromas of a worldly carnival. There were big wooden barrels full of beans, spices, coffees, dates, figs, pastas, cous-cous, kosher food, salted fish, etc.

Those olfactory impressions were so strongly seared in the mucosa of our nostrils that they inspired us to use Mr. Singer’s grocery as the backdrop of the puppy love between Raquel and Didier, two central characters in our novel Madame D.C. – Three Voyages, temporarily in Kindle Store limbo.

Our grandmother never, ever added any wine to her version of this stew. Why? Because she knew that we, children under 12 years old, could not enzymatically process alcohol in our young livers. If we were to have a family feast in safe conditions, the consumption of any alcohol was forbidden. And of course, not a single man seated at that table ever dared to question her culinary choices.

Merci beaucoup chère Mémé!

As you can see in the picture above, you must first put a little olive oil on a big casserole or cooking pan in order to add the tomato sauce, beans and seasoning, before stirring with a wooden scoop.

The potatoes and sweet potatoes must be cut in cubes and boiled separately until they are tender.

In a frying pan, sautée the chopped onions and red peppers with a dash of olive oil and honey.

Once they are ready, put the boiled potatoes and sautée onions and peppers into the large mix.

In a separate utensil, put one cube of vegetable broth to cook the cod pieces, at low temperature.

After 10 minutes of cooking, gently put the cod pieces on top of the mix in your larger preparation.

This is how it should finally look like. You should cover it with a lid and let it stand for at least 1 hour.

You can re-heat it gently for a few minutes and then serve it on a deep plate. The beer is optional.

On egin. Agur!!!

Note. This image of the Ikurrina, the Basque people’s flag, was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.












Our new podcast “Uncertainty is my co-pilot” is Live

Dear readers, fellow bloggers, and (now) listeners:

Good morning. Our podcast Uncertainty is my co-pilot is Live at anchor.fm/dr-mario-o-laplume

Continuing our quasi-spontaneous monologues about the social and cultural consequences of the Post-pandemic world, we will discuss critical issues of this weird aftermath, including Uncertainty.

Please join us whenever you can… While you are enjoying a well deserved lunch break, or in your patio table while sniffing the fresh flowers, or in bed while you hubby is snoring away (please use the headphones) or anytime when you crave for a comforting voice to help you survive these times.

Welcome! Bienvenus! Benvenutti! Bienvenidos!

Our book for £ 0.99? Bollocks!

Dear readers and fellow bloggers in the United Kingdom:

Good morning. Today at 8 AM GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) we will start a Kindle Countdown promotion of our book Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague with a starting price of £ 0.99 that will run in one unit increments for one week, until reaching its original list price of £ 7.29.

We could not forget the beautiful people in the UK, especially now that our dearest son Gian Luca is sporting a Mercian Regiment béret in his stand-up comedy presentations. Remember his look?

Are you saying that our fabulous book is now costing almost a third of £ 2.40, the cheapest price for a pint of Guinness beer found only in Wales? Bollocks! This is a deal that you can’t ignore, mate!!!

Make haste and punch away to get this deal right away. And if you like it, please write a review.


Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.











The Mystic Wanderer – Part IV

-“You’re on a quest….I know—I can read faces.”

This commentary was uttered gently but unexpectedly by a fellow student in a course of literary craft in Miami Dade College – Wolfson Campus in 2014, during a brief class break while we were seated next to each other in the front row. As we imperviously kept the conversation going on, she looked at us intently without saying anything. Then, out of the blue, she uttered those words.

She was (and, God bless her, most likely still is) an educated and smart lady that had just arrived from a trip to Mongolia where she had painstakingly recorded their children’s stories. We cannot remember her name but her facial features were seared in our memory. She decided to undertake that perilous trek totally funded with her own financial means because she felt that someone had to do it before that precious cultural heritage would be lost forever in a few generations. She explained to us that the Mongol people relied much more on oral traditions rather than the written records; however, with the onslaught of the digital revolution reaching as far away as their nomadic yurts, the elders feared that the chain of transmission could be broken due to their youngsters’ distractions.

She told us that in her frequent trips to the Far East, she had occasionally come across a guy in the street that had our same absent look, as if he was somewhere else. Or trying to reach another destination than the physical location where he was standing. We explained to her that we wanted to write novels and essays, which she liked. But she warned us that no commercial or academic success would ever totally satisfy us. She told us that we would never leave the road to settle down in comfy places. We looked at her in silence and bewilderment, but we respected her firm diagnosis.

Now we are fully convinced that she hit it on top of the nail. We are, and will always be, on a quest. Discovering new places, talking to different people, sharing the joy and sadness of Living with them.

Note. This reproduction of Peter Bruegel’s The Peasant Dance was taken from Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pieter_Bruegel_d._%C3%84._014.jpg

We have always been avid readers and loyal fans of Thomas Merton, the French – American mystic, poet, writer, social activist, and inter-faith collaborator, who just only happened to be a Trappist monk with a checkered relationship with hierarchy. Not surprisingly, like the great thinkers and movers of the Catholic Church like Saint Francis of Assisi, he was admired and reviled at the same time (can this be possible?) by his superiors in the order who resented his growing popularity all over the world. On December 10, 1968, while he was attending a Red Cross conference in Thailand, he was found dead in his cottage room, presumably due to an electrocution(sic) However, he had a clear laceration in the back of his head and he did not have an autopsy; ever since, many journalists have claimed that he was murdered by the Usual Suspects due to his opposition to the Vietnam War. We will write about him, his works, his influence, and also about the 2018 book detailing his demise.

Note. This image of the Reverend Thomas Merton was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

By The Merton Center: http://www.mertoncenter.org/Poetry/griffin.jpg, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18293738

Man on a Quest.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Salut dernier Compagnon de la Libération!

Chers lecteurs, chères lectrices, chers blogueurs, chères blogueuses:

Bon jour. Hubert Montaigne, le dernier soldat vivant de l’Ordre de la Libération est décédé le Mardi 10 Octobre à l’âge de 101 ans. Fils d’un général des troupe coloniales, il a vécu dans différents pays avant de s’inscrire à l’Académie Navale à Bordeaux. C’est là qu’il réside quand le gouvernement traitre du Maréchal Pétain signe le honteux Armistice avec l’Allemagne en 1940. Quand il apprend que les colonies françaises du Nord de l’Afrique vont rester “neutrales” pendant la guerre, il décide à 20 ans de s’embarquer dans un bateau polonais pour rejoindre le Général De Gaulle à Londres.










Note. Cette reproduction d’ Hubert Germain’s picture dréssé comme un soldat a été prise du Wikimedia Commons/ https://www.ordredelaliberation.fr/en/node/1060

Il participe activement dans la campagne du corps expéditionnaire française en Syrie et en Afrique, finallement arrivant à l’Hexagone dans le débarquement des Alliés en Provence dans l’année 1944. En 1940 De Gaulle a crée l‘ordre de la Libération “pour récompenser les personnes ou les collectivités civiles et militaires qui se seront signalées dans l’œuvre de libération de France et son empire.” Après la Légion d’Honneur, c’est le deuxième ordre national de la République Française. l’ordre est forclos depuis 1946 et seulement 1.061 on été accordées. Hubert Montaigne en a une.

Note. Cette image a été prise du Wikimedia Commons. Par Fdutil — Travail personnel, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19854339

L’insigne de l’ordre est la Croix de Lorraine et elle porte au revers la devise en Latin Patriam servando, victoriam tulit, qui signifie: “En servant la Patrie, il a remporté la victoire.”

Salut Compagnon de la Libération!

Tes autres compagnons t’attendent dans les Champs Elysées pour faire un toast a ta santé!

Salut a tous les héros et toutes les héroïnes de la République Française!

Restez à l’écart. Restez en sécurité. Restez beaus et belles.

Qu’est ce-que vous en pensez? Dites-nous.

Ne me laissez pas seul.

Physician and Nurse Burn-out – Part VIII Stampeding Out

Why would we be surprised that so many Health Care workers are skedaddling?

In an article in the CNBC Business portal, Karen Gilchrist wrote: “According to recent studies, between 20 and 30% of frontline U.S. health care workers say they are now considering leaving the profession. Notably, one April 2021 study by health carte jobs marketplace Vivian found that four in 10 (43%) nurses are considering leaving their role in 2021 – a figure that is higher among ICU workers (48%)”

For all of us who work in the Health Care Arena, it does not come as any surprise that so many of our colleagues are toying with the idea of leaving the profession for good, or at least to find a parallel track with limited clinical duties. On the contrary. More than twenty years ago, we were shocked how the failed attempt by the Clinton administration to reform the Health Care coverage of Americans, literally wiped out the profitability and sustainability of many solo practices, including ours. At the time, we sat down with our wife to discuss options to assure our future employment; we decided to study, with humongous financial and personal sacrifices, both Master and Doctoral degrees in Health Policy and Management at Columbia University.

Note. The reproduction of this U.S. Navy recruiting poster was taken from Wikimedia Commons.


Unfortunately many of our colleagues did not take any similar preventive steps and are now confronted with the stark reality that, even after the sacrifices they have made during the pandemic, they are back in the same exploitative work parameters of yore, with the added caveat that they might be dragooned for the next pandemic. The obnoxious understaffing of hospital wards, the relatively low pay, the long hours of an insensitive scheduling process that messes family life plus the rising incidence of Mental Health problems, worsened after the pandemic, with no foreseeable relief. A few of them are close to the retirement age and their plight will be brief indeed. But what happens to the thousands upon thousands of middle age-professionals? From our personal experience, we know that it takes a long time to efficiently re-engineer your career and stir it to more predictable and pleasant working waterways , compared to the always stormy clinical sea lanes.

A recent Department of Labor statistical study showed that almost half a million health care workers have quit since the start of the pandemic. When will it end? For starters, our politicians in D.C. and the statehouses should stop playing dummies. This is an ongoing tragedy that will have severe repercussions for the health of our children and grandchildren. And it will not be solved by just throwing money at it. Secondly, we , the health care professionals, should participate more in the associations that defend our interests, be at the national, state or local levels. It makes a difference. We confess that for may years we ignored these organizations but for the past few years we have tried to participate in the varied activities of the outstanding Florida Medical Association.

We will make our humble contribution by writing articles on these issues, which will constitute the needed scaffolding for our upcoming book Physician and Nurse Burn-out – Roots and Remedies.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Celebrating Columbus Day

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Today we celebrate Columbus Day in the USA, a holiday remembering the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the New World on October 12, 1492, in a spot supposedly in Bahamas. During our childhood in Uruguay, we celebrated this holiday too in our schools and workplaces. Moreover, as proud Italian-Americans, we rejoiced in the fact that “one of own” got that distinction.

In the picture above, Gian Luca is posing in front of the most beautiful Bay of Naples…Nápule!!!!

We know that during the past few decades there has been a strong revisionist movement to erase this holiday from the calendar due to the terrible exploitation and even extermination of the various groups of Native Americans by the conquering Europeans. Eduardo Galeano, the late Uruguayan writer, wrote one of the best accounts of that genocide in Las Venas Abiertas de América Latina.

In an October 10, 2021 article in the Retropolis section of The Washington Post, Ronald G. Shafer wrote: “The first national Columbus Day was proclaimed in 1892 by Republican President Benjamin Harrison to celebrate the 4000th anniversary of Italian-born explorer Christopher Columbus supposed discovery of America…But for Harrison, it served another purpose: to help resolve a diplomatic crisis with Italy – and gain support among Italian-American voters – after rioters in New Orleans lynched 11 Italian immigrants the year before.” Clouded by the acerbic political discourse of our divided citizenry, the issue of whether to keep this holiday or not has taken inflammatory tones. At present there are several Italian- American organizations that demand a more nuanced approach.

Let us be crystal clear on this subject. We feel extremely proud of not only being Italian- Americans, but also being fluent speakers and readers of the marvelous language of Dante Alighieri, practicing the cultural parameters of the peninsula and even holding Italian passports, as the citizenship via Jus Sanguinis was bestowed upon us by our grandfather Morizio and our grandmother Yolanda.

Our daughter Noël Marie and our son Gian Luca inherited precious Italian physical/ spiritual traits.

Grazie Nonna! Grazie Nonno! Grazie Mamma!

Auguri a tutti ed tutte le concitadini Italiani ed Italiane!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Boring is Beautiful!

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Yesterday we perused in front of the refrigerator what to take out to fix our dinner. There were many options but we felt the irresistible urge to prepare gnocchi with a tomato sauce, meatballs included. To overcome that impasse, we consulted our son Gian Luca. Guess what he said?

Even though we have prepared it a few times lately, it is still one of our favorite homemade dishes. First of all we had to prepare a tomato sauce from scratch.  Here it is how it turned out to be. Like it?

We let it stand for 1-2 hours while we watched sports, had a little nap, etc. until we boiled the pasta.

Our son told us it was our best version ever of it, but, with a happy tummy, he always says the same.

Definitely, like in many instances of Life like inter-personal relationships, having an excessive number of choices can be detrimental to make a good decision because you feel paralyzed. Overchoice. We discuss this subject, and many others, in our book Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague.

Boring is Beautiful.

Buon appetito.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.
















Thank you President Joseph Biden!!!

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Yesterday we went to the Coral Gables office of Federal Express to send several copies of our book Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague to a few notables to thank them. Foremost amongst them, was President Joseph Biden, on whose watch we could get vaccinated. When he assumed the presidency of this country in the middle of a terrible pandemic, we half-jokingly wrote an article titled Mad Max (Joe) come to our rescue, imploring the help of the road warrior. As the fans of that cult movie know, that dystopian world was precisely set in the year 2021.

Has it been just a coincidence? Who knows…Anyway we do know that, considering the collateral effects that we suffered after being injected with the three Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine shots,  if we had encountered this nasty virus somewhere out there, it would have killed us. Like it did to our dear Uncle José Luis Garbarino in Montevideo last January 6. The Day of the Epiphany. The irony of it.

In the picture above you can see the genteel Héctor, taking care of this all too precious shipment.

Thank you very much, beautiful people of Federal Express, for helping us pay this debt of high honor.

God Bless our dear President Biden and keep illuminating his treacherous path in the D.C. swamps.

God Bless the Unique United States of America.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.