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Friday, October 10, 2003
Updated: January 14, 8:29 AM ET
Hex-orcising the World Series demons

By Alysse Minkoff
Special to Page 2

With two legendary curses hanging over baseball's League Championship Series -- and, quite possibly, the World Series -- I immediately phoned my friend Kirpal: owner and Chief Operating Witch of Objets d'Art & Spirit on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles. No stranger to curses, Kirpal's cluttered shop caters to an array of Hollywood Woo-Woo Types -- Everyone from Halle Berry to David Crosby, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rob Lowe and Hillary Swank have turned to this self-proclaimed Spiritual Psychopharmacologist.

Kirpal
Don't worry Cubs and Red Sox fans, witch Kirpal is on your side.
The store itself occupies a unique space of Spiritual Geography. It triangulates the vector between the Trashy Lingerie store and the infamous Star Strip club. Once inside, Kirpal or one of her able coterie of Junior Witches can find a candle, potion, ritual bath or incantation for just about whatever ails you.

Need that Oscar nomination? Fire up a 'Success in the Arts' candle.

A time slot for your latest series? A 'Triple Strength Bend Over' candle will help insure that the network bends to your will.

Are your paramour's eyes wandering? 'Remind Him of You' oil and a 'Bring Back Your Man Candle' ought to do the trick.

Need another NBA championship? A dip in the 'High John the Conqueror Spiritual Bath and Floor Wash' and a little dab of 'Victory' oil ought to clinch it. The Mailman, The Glove, a Non-sulking Shaq and an exonerated Kobe wouldn't hurt, either.

While Hollywood is a town driven by The Celebrity Suck-up and The Name Dropper, Kirpal is mostly pretty clueless about her famous clientele. She might know the words to every song Cole Porter ever wrote; but if you're Christina Aguilera, you'll probably go unrecognized.

Kirpal proudly knows nothing whatsoever about Sports.

"The World Series, that's baseball, right?" she asked as she scanned her Palm Pilot for possible conflicts of witchcraft. "In other sports, I have several allegiances and I can't go against those guys. You know how I work: Come Oscar season, I can definitely help more than one client try to get the Best Actor nomination. But when more than one client actually gets the nomination, I won't work for either of them. Or their competition."

It's ethics and discretion that make Kirpal neither a Good Witch, nor a Bad Witch; she's a f****** great Witch.

I felt it best to level with her: "Listen, even if both the Cubbies and the Sox make it into the World Series, only one team is going to win. The best we can do here is bat .500. If neither team makes it into the Series, we'll fall way below the dreaded Mendoza Line."

I said this to a woman who doesn't recognize Phil Jackson and couldn't understand why he bought oils in multiples of five.

Kirpal
Nevermind. Maybe all of us should be a little worried now.
She meditated for a moment.

"I will attempt to remove both the Curse of the Bambino for the long-suffering fans in Boston, and lift the Curse of the Billy Goat for Cub fans in Chicago," she said. "I have absolutely no intention of giving one team or the other any sort of edge in winning the World Series."

Damn. I guess my fantasies involving Cubs pitcher Mark Prior and a very private postgame celebration would have to wait. It probably wouldn't be kosher to use witchcraft that way. This time.

Kirpal brought me back to reality with a thud.

"I just want to do my part to help level the playing field so both teams can move forward unfettered by either curse. And I just hope that the good citizens of Chicago and Boston will not attempt to burn me at the Stake if their team loses," she said.

Guess she had forgotten about Salem's proximity to Boston, or she wouldn't have waived her customary $135 per-session fee.

My Big Hope -- Did Kirpal have a spell that would make Bob Costas the Commissioner of Baseball?

How to remove a curse and not play favorites
Although I was in capable and well-manicured hands, I felt quite a bit like a sacrificial lamb. Which is a dangerous notion to entertain when a curse involving a Billy Goat is about to be undone. I just hoped that when the time came to reverse the Curse of the Bambino, I would not be forced to sing the entire score of "No, No Nanette."

Fortunately, when good sense failed, the Baseball Romantic in me prevailed. I bolstered myself with visions of a Cubs/Red Sox matchup. This is about getting two well-deserving teams into the World Series. Whatever they do after that is up to them.

Alysse Minkoff's hands
This is also great for singeing knuckle hairs.
Kirpal made certain that I, too, would not favor one team or the other. Just to make sure I wasn't playing spiritual favorites, I was 'Saged.' Ritually cleansed, if you will, by the smoke from burning sage leaves. While I clutched a World Series ball tossed to me moments before last year's Game Seven and autographed by the toss-ee, Angels broadcaster Rex Hudler, Kirpal placed sage leaves in an abalone shell, lit them on fire and used the smoke to cleanse my aura and confirm my neutrality. It also managed to set off the smoke detectors in her store.

Once suitably scrubbed and smelling distinctly like a campfire, we were ready to get to the actual work. We drove over to the nearby Connie Stevens Garden Sanctuary and Day Spa. Little-known Connie Stevens fact: This adorable woman is a huge Sports Fan. Used to have Monday Night Football parties on the Big Screen in her Day Spa, until it got too crowded and out of hand. Where better? My fears about bathing in clam chowder and goat entrails were momentarily assuaged.

How to remove the Curse of the Billy Goat
According to Kirpal, who actually knows such things, the Curse of the Billy Goat is, in fact, merely a theme and variation on the Evil Eye. And fortunately for the Cubs, we are in the Year of the Goat. She decided the best way to remove the Curse of the Billy Goat would be for me to take one of Kirpal's Famous White Baths -- a luxurious, 11-minute/inning soak in Goat's Milk with a specially-prepared mixture of herbs known for their Curse-removing properties.

The great news is, the White Bath is a truly decadent experience.

Surrounding my bath:

-- the 'Uncrossing Candle,' which pulls off Curses.

-- a 'Year of the Goat Candle,' which asks for favors from the Goat.

-- the 'Make a Wish Candle', which should be fairly obvious.

-- and a 'Road Opener Candle,' which helps to Open the Road and make the impossible, possible.

Alysse Minkoff
Alysse Minkoff is wishing she had a Prior engagement.
Okey-Dokey. At least she didn't look like she was about to grab that damned sage again.

Once immersed in the not-unpleasant-smelling liquid, surrounded by all those flickering candles, I nearly fell asleep. That is, until Kirpal chanted loudly: "I am washing away Evil Eyes and the Curse of the Billy Goat. Let the evil days that have plagued the Cubs be gone. I invoke this in the names of Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Sammy Sosa and Harry Caray. And so it is. And so it shall be."

Friendly confines?

Somehow, even if she failed to mention Mark Prior. Sigh.

Kirpal was very, very quiet. My skin was feeling very, very soft.

"Now this is working great for me," I told Kirpal as I was splashing around. "But before everyone in the state of Illinois runs out and buys three gallons of Goat's Milk, finds a deep soaking tub and calls to buy your White Bath concoction, do you have anything Cubs fans can do at home to remove The Curse themselves?"

Pulling out her copious research and Spell Book, she said, "The faithful Cubs can buy a piece of bright yellow paper and a red pen. And in a slightly backward hand, they should write, 'Away Evil Eyes. Be gone today. And curses and evil days end now.' And before they walk into Wrigley Field, they should invoke whatever spiritual tradition they believe in, look to the Left and spit. Three times."

This was said in the earnest and emphatic way that only Kirpal can manage without making it sound totally stupid. I'm certain, if all Cubs fans start looking to their left and spitting three times before they go through the turnstiles, goats will become required fan gear at Wrigley.

Let's hear it for the Rally Goat! Let's hear it for the Rally Goat!

How to reverse the Curse of The Bambino
"This curse isn't really a curse at all," Kirpal clucked as I slipped into a bathrobe. "The Curse of the Bambino is actually just a jinx."

Alysse Minkoff
Clams ... for all the times the Sox got shelled.
Whatever. I was shivering. And she was busily taking a dozen live clams out of a bag and putting them in a black metal cauldron.

"And like any good jinx," she continued, "all you have to do is remove it layer by layer. From my standpoint, this one is totally a piece of cake. I'd rather have 40 days and 40 nights to work on it, though."

And then she brought out a bright red bottle of Dragon's Blood Foaming Bath and a six-pack of Samuel Adams Boston Lager Beer, and started mixing.

The beer, the Dragon's Blood and another batch of clams went into the tub. Bright red foam ensued. The 'Believe in Your Dreams' candle stayed put. The 'Believe in Yourself' candle joined it. To reverse the Curse of the Bambino, she fired up a 'Jinx Remover Candle.' The 'Phoenix Candle' was lit to help the Red Sox rise from the ashes of their previous misfortunes.

To be completely candid, I wasn't crazy about the color of the bath. The foam. Not to mention the live clams. Kirpal merely rolled her big brown eyes.

"Listen," she said. "The Dragon's Blood is to uncross those who have crossed the Red Sox. The beer is for cleansing and to pull out negativity and to help the Sox to get out there and have fun again. And those clams will help to invoke the Spirit of Boston."

There was no way I was going to step into that bath. I wanted alternative ingredients.

"What about tea? Corrupt Democrats?" I begged. "Couldn't I just call a Harvard man and have smart phone sex? Wouldn't that invoke the Spirit of Boston, too?"

"Isn't that just like you, Alysse," she said. "Always trying to rewrite the spell-book. I won't tell you how to write the article if you don't tell me how to cast my spells. Get in."

Alysse Minkoff
A tub of dragon's blood and a cauldron of clams may counter a curse, but reading ESPN The Magazine is a true blessing.
It was pointless to argue. I was just going to have to take this one for the team. I summoned the image of Johnny Damon for strength, and prayed. If the concussion didn't get him, I will.

I got in. And before I could say 'Steamers,' she offered: "Let only good come to the Red Sox. The Curse of the Bambino and all that followed it shall end here and now. I invoke this in the names of Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Bobby Doerr, Cy Young, Wade Boggs and Carlton Fisk. And so it is. And so it shall be."

I was completely and utterly happy. Up to my chin in a warm bubble bath that smelled like a brewery, splashing about like a four-year-old. I was about to sing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" until she took her cauldron filled with ice-cold beer, Dragon's Blood and clams and dumped the contents over me.

Then I was very, very cranky.

CUBS-RED SOX 1918
Were you or someone you know in the stands in 1918? SportsCenter is looking for fans who attended this storied Cubs-Red Sox Series.

"The Red Sox fans," she said, "should get a golden thread or rope and put knots in it. It can even be a piece of yellow ribbon -- it just needs to have several knots. They should recite the following words of T.S. Eliot while they are untying the knots: 'So the knot be unknotted. That, that has been crossed, be uncrossed. The crooked made straight for this curse be ended now.' Then, they should tie the ribbon or rope, unknotted, around their wrist and wear it all the time. When it falls off, good fortune will come to them. Or they can anoint it with 'Victory' or 'Uncrossing' oil and hang it from the rear-view mirror in their car as a constant reminder that they are participating in removing the Curse of the Bambino."

Meanwhile, I was trying to figure a way to sneak the clams out of the tub while she wasn't looking.

As soon as the camera came out, Kirpal transformed from Wise Woman into Wisenheimer.

"Think Doris Day in 'Pillow Talk'!" she chirped. "You're a 1940s Pin-up Girl, and you're going to be painted on the side of an airplane! Smile -- This one is for the Boys!"

I wanted the counsel of my Witch. What I got was a pushy Stage Mother. I certainly hoped this meant that John Henry would at least invite us to Fenway to watch the World Series.

"Let's go home," Kirpal said. "We need to re-light all of these candles in your environment before the moon rises."

Candles and beer
This Bud may not be for you.
Somehow, I sensed another photo-op.

All I wanted was a nap. Instead, I was sprinkled with 'New Beginnings' and 'Victory' oils. And then I had the strangest craving for Goat Cheese and Clam Chowder.

As the sun set, we lovingly placed all of the candles in my home. Once they were lit, we opened an ice-cold Budweiser, toasted each other and all of the hard work and magic we had done on behalf of baseball fans everywhere. Even Bud Selig couldn't find fault with us tonight.

The phone rang. It was Megan from Connie Stevens Sanctuary.

"Alysse, you'd better turn on the television," she said. "Whatever you guys did in there, it must have worked. The Cubs are up 11-0 in the fifth. Thanks."

As Kirpal got into her Jaguar and drove off into the night (you really didn't think she'd hop on her broom did you?), I looked at my bottle of Bud. And, seeing synchronicity in a bottle of beer, I thought to myself: "Budweiser. St. Louis. Now there is a team that could definitely use our help."

Wait 'til Next Year.

When not in hot water or a goat-milk bath, Alysse Minkoff has written for Ladies Home Journal, Cigar Aficionado and MSNBC.com, and can be reached at AGirlReporter@aol.com.