Friday, September 27, 2013

Book Club Friday: 'Northanger Abbey' by Jane Austen



Blog note: see this post if you want to enter to win a copy of Wendy Owens' YA paranormal The Guardians Crown

Northanger AbbeyNorthanger Abbey by Jane Austen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary from GoodreadsA wonderfully entertaining coming-of-age story, Northanger Abbey is often referred to as Jane Austen’s “Gothic parody.” Decrepit castles, locked rooms, mysterious chests, cryptic notes, and tyrannical fathers give the story an uncanny air, but one with a decidedly satirical twist.

The story’s unlikely heroine is Catherine Morland, a remarkably innocent seventeen-year-old woman from a country parsonage. While spending a few weeks in Bath with a family friend, Catherine meets and falls in love with Henry Tilney, who invites her to visit his family estate, Northanger Abbey. Once there, Catherine, a great reader of Gothic thrillers, lets the shadowy atmosphere of the old mansion fill her mind with terrible suspicions. What is the mystery surrounding the death of Henry’s mother? Is the family concealing a terrible secret within the elegant rooms of the Abbey? Can she trust Henry, or is he part of an evil conspiracy? Catherine finds dreadful portents in the most prosaic events, until Henry persuades her to see the peril in confusing life with art.


Executed with high-spirited gusto, Northanger Abbey is the most lighthearted of Jane Austen’s novels, yet at its core this delightful novel is a serious, unsentimental commentary on love and marriage.


My Review: Because this book isn't quite as well-known as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, I wasn't sure what kind of quality to expect from the writing. I found this book to be a delightful surprise.

Catherine Morland is a delightful heroine, letting her preoccupation with Gothic novels run away with her (an accurate literary depiction of early 19th century fangirling) and slowly developing feelings for Henry Tilney. (I want an adaptation in which Henry Tilney is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Please, Hollywood?)



These are subtle reading pleasures, but pleasures nonetheless. The ending's a little abrupt; it would have been nice to know more about the man Eleanor married, who seems to come out of nowhere. And what about James - did he end up happily married?

Still, I think more people should read it. More people would read it, possibly, if it had a more interesting title; I suggest I'm Sorry I Thought Your Father Murdered Your Mother.

You can get the e-book free on Amazon:



I bought a paperback of Northanger Abbey, well used, at a library book sale for 25 cents. This is an unsolicited review, and I was not compensated for it in any way. Because of its well-worn condition and torn pages, my copy is now resigned to the recycling bin.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

I am currently reading:

My latest Amazon Vine selection
Reading and reviewing for a review exchange with the author
In my PNR rotation - a Donna Grant comes next

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Love 'n Lies by Aspen deLainey - Guest Post: Erotica: Even While I Blush!

Blog note: see this post if you want to enter to win a copy of Wendy Owens' YA paranormal The Guardians Crown


Guest Post

I wrote Love ‘n Lies as an urban fantasy. That’s how it started. I hadn’t planned on making it erotic. That just happened.

I’ll tell you a secret. I wrote those sexy scenes with my lips pursed and my eyes almost closed. Most of the time I felt my face heat up, so I know I blushed.

Me! A married woman. Who has had lots of sex – we practiced between children; you have to get it right, after all.

Having sex and writing about sex are different. Totally different! Unnerving too, I’ll admit it now.

That first steamy scene, the first time I wrote it, fell flat, in my estimation. So, I reread the Kama Sutra. I’d forgotten most of those positions. And I wrote the scene again.


Still not up to the level I wanted.

Let me tell you I went to some pretty out there sites. Researching. Let’s go with that. I found out things I would never have imagined on my own. Never!

I probably spent over a month just researching. I think my computer blushed right along with me at some of what I found.

Then I read erotica excerpts online. I even girded my loins and took books out from our library. Thank goodness it was winter and I had an excuse to keep my scarf around my face. Some of those librarians know me!

I hunted through the bookstore – not my regular one. There’s a whole section on love hints. A book on how to care and feed your man’s pickle, or something like that, caught my eye. Hubby darlin’ and I had many hours of laughter over that one.

Hey, as I remember it, sex is supposed to be fun.

Finally I wrote the scenes in a way I could live with. Nothing like some really good authors I’ve read. But readable and somewhat hot.

I finished the book and I believe I got better at writing those erotic scenes. Even though I still blushed while I wrote.

Now I had the fun part. You know writers have beta readers? Right? Well, my first beta reader is an old friend of mine. I mean I’ve known her since our daughters were under a year old – they are adults now. She’s borrowed lots of my books, lent hers to me. We’ve discussed books for years – what we like and don’t. I do not remember ever talking about reading erotica. Not once. I still don’t know if she’ll pick it up, on her own, to read.

I gave her my finished novel to read through, catch mistakes, and make sure it made sense. The regular stuff.

But I didn’t warn her about the book at all.

You know, she never said one word about it being erotica when she handed it back, pages marked with notes in her precise handwriting. She didn’t giggle or make any remarks about those parts of the story at all. Not even a squiggle under any passages.

“Not bad,” she told me. “Thanks for letting me read it.” And she left.

Several weeks later she phoned to ask, “Did you research those positions you wrote about?”

“Yeah, thoroughly,” I replied. “Wore hubby darlin’ out. He said he wants several years between these erotic books.”

Now she laughed. “I can imagine. Look, can you send me the scene...” and she explained the exact scene she wanted to try out.

“Let me know how it goes for you,” I replied.


I heard her strangled laughter as she hung up the phone.

****


Synopsis for Love ‘n Lies

Gaining weight is a human problem. At least that’s what Leticia always thought. But when this vivacious vampire wakes from her year-long slumber and discovers that her formerly svelte frame has retained a few extra pounds, it becomes apparent that something has gone amiss.

A girl just can't wander around the Calgary Stampede in clothes that don't fit! So she sets about the task of shopping and working out a low-cal diet of humans she can live on. When her friends notice how depressed she is, one of them suggests she adopt a tomcat named Justin to keep her company. Little does she know that she would fall madly in love with her new kitty. The moment she does, the spell cast over Justin is broken and he takes his true form – a long, tall, dark haired man with an insatiable sex drive. Letty is more tempted than she ever thought possible and can't keep her hands off him anymore than he can keep his off of her.

After taking him back to her childhood home, Evermore, to consult with the head wizard Silvius, she soon discovers the Warlock who cast the spell over Justin isn't letting him go so easily.

Throw in a nasty twin sister who'll do anything to get her hands on what Letty has, including Justin's more than hot body, and you end up with Love... 'n Lies!

Purchase Links:


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Author Bio:

Aspen lives in the Foothills of Alberta with her husband, two of her four children, a dog, a lovebird and a glaring of semi-feral cats. You will often find her watching the wildlife happily feasting in her vegetable garden in the early morning dawn. Being a lover of nature, and all things natural, she wouldn’t trade her country lifestyle for all the beans on the stalk.

A die-hard believer in fairy tales, Aspen hopes her fairy godmother is the Muse. Lending credence to this notion is one of Aspen’s earliest memories: writing a story for her little brother in crayon on a favored picture book and earning a spanking as her first critical review. Never deterred, Aspen continued to make up stories, and hone her craft, until finally letting a few escape her clutches in 2010.

Love ‘n Lies is Aspen’s first work in The Evermore Chronicles, the concept for which was developed while she was employed in the seniors’ medical field. Do paranormal beings suffer from medical problems also? What happens to aging Vampires, Wizards, Trolls and the like? The questions begged to be answered... And of course, their stories needed to be told.

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The First Bite Is the Deepest by Elisa Catrina. $2.99 from Smashwords.com
“Funny and clever and emotionally hard-hitting” "A perfectly creepy read." Elisa Catrina's debut novel begins as a quirky send-up of vampire romance, but quickly turns sinister. High schooler Stella Ortiz starts dating the mysterious new guy, but her friends are convinced he's bad news: Sebastian misses tons of school, he day-drinks something that smells like pennies, and oh yeah, he's a vampire.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Guardians Crown by Wendy Owens: Excerpt and YA Book #Giveaway

The Guardians Crown
by Wendy Owens



Release Date: September 27th

Blurb: Gabe is finally forced to answer the ultimate question: will he give his life to save the world? What about just to save the one he loves the most? The Guardians struggle to find another way--ideas that don't involve Gabe's death--to defeat Baal. Time is running out. What will Gabe choose? What price will he pay for that choice?

Excerpt 

As Michael watched her speak, he swallowed hard, remembering in that moment it was more than her beauty he had fallen in love with. “I don’t know what to do,” he replied, his words barely audible.

“People need hope Michael, as much as they need a leader. You and Gabe are the answer to both of those things. You’ll lead the people of earth to victory and Gabe will give them the hope they need to keep going,” Mirada said, her voice sensitive, yet unwavering.



“I don’t know if I can,” For the first time in Michael’s life he was completely unsure of what he should do. He had lost all sense of purpose.

“You can, and I’ll be at your side every step of the way,” she said with a smile.

“Are you serious?” Michael asked, his heart now racing.

Falling to her knees she embraced him, their lips meeting in a passionate kiss. She pulled away, looking into his eyes. “I’m never going to leave your side again.”



Michael felt as if his heart might burst. With the death of the council he had felt as though he had lost everything that mattered to him, but here in his arms, he found the last piece of hope he had left in the world. “We have to go back and help Gabe.”

“Why, what’s wrong with Gabe?” Mirada asked.

“They found a book that says the guardians crown is real,” Michael explained.

“Well it is real, or it was,” Mirada stated, staring back at Michael.

Michael watched as she rose, taking a seat next to him on the bed and wrapping her fingers around his. “What do you mean it was?” he asked.


What does Mirada know that nobody else seems to? Read The Guardians Crown to find out if The Guardians have a chance to change their fate or simply must face their destiny.



Author Bio:

Wendy Owens was raised in the small college town of Oxford, Ohio. After attending Miami University, Wendy went on to a career in the visual arts. After several years of creating and selling her own artwork, she gave her first love, writing, a try.
Since 2011, she has published a young adult paranormal series, The Guardians, which will contain five books total, as well as a novella.
Wendy now happily spends her days writing—her loving dachshund, Piper, curled up at her feet. When she's not writing, she can be found spending time with her tech geek husband and their three amazing kids, exploring the city she loves to call home: Cincinnati, OH.


Giveaway:

Want to win one of 5 e-copies of The Guardians Crown? Just follow this link to go to the easy Rafflecopter giveaway form. You can earn up to 27 entries! The giveaway will end on 9/28. 

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

For 'Person of Interest' Season 3 Premiere Day: the John Reese Family Tree

Tuesday, September 24, 2013: the season premiere of Person of Interest, going into its third season.

When we left off at the end of season 2, The Machine had been set free, Root was recovering from a gunshot wound in what appeared to be a mental health hospital, Sam Shaw appeared to have joined Finch and Reese, and Carter had, for some reason, saved the life of Carl Elias. Kara Stanton's virus has wreaked its havoc, and it's unclear at this point how Finch and Reese will continue to save lives.

This family tree isn't originally my idea. Like so many great things in life, it started with Tumblr. Specifically, with this post posted by the blogger whose blog is Obsesiones Mias. (I feel like I should know her name, but I don't.) The contention of this post is that John Reese seems like he's a little superhuman because, perhaps, his distant ancestor was Kainan - a character in the film Outlander*, also played by Jim Caviezel. The character is an extraterrestrial. Kainan crash-landed on Earth in an Iron Age Viking settlement and, after defeating the space dragon he'd brought with him, he became king of the Viking clan.

At a later time, the Obsesiones Mias blogger said something about adding to the Reese family tree, which got me thinking, until at last I came up with:


It was surprisingly hard to find a way to make fictional family trees online. I gave up the search and instead used a scrapbooking website, CropMom. It's not the most elegant scrapbook page ever - I made it in a bit of a rush.

Let me break down the line of descent:

We can begin the John Reese family tree with Mary.



Her son, Jesus...



...married Mary Magdalene (well, that's one possible scenario, isn't it?)...



...who was pregnant at the time of Jesus' death. Different versions of folklore disagree as to whether the couple had a daughter or a son, but let's say, hypothetically, they had a daughter. This is actually an image said to represent Mary Magdalene, but it could be how the daughter of Jesus and Mary looked. (Some people say her name was Sara. I can't remember if her name is mentioned in The Da Vinci Code or not.)



Now let's say that Sara has many generations of descendants - hundreds of years go by. Some say that the Merovingian kings of France were her descendants. Imagining that she was the ancestress of a royal line, let us speculate that some of her royal descendants migrated northward, to the Viking regions. Let's say that one of her descendants was the warrior-king Hrothgar.



Hrothgar is on the viewer's left, portrayed by John Hurt. You may remember John Hurt best as Mr. Ollivander from the Harry Potter movies; I do too, but I also like to think of him as Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four. You may also remember that Hrothgar is the name of the king whose realm is under attack from Grendel in Beowulf, but I don't think the Outlander movie is meant to imply that this is the same Hrothgar.

Hrothgar's daughter, Freya - a warrior princess - marries Kainan, the outlander.



Presumably, they have children who have both royal DNA and Kainan's extraterrestrial DNA. We'll just assume Kainan's DNA is close enough to that of Homo sapiens that he and Freya can interbreed without difficulty. Their princes and princesses have descendants, some of whom may end up in France (or back in France, if that's where we imagine Mary Magdalene and her offspring ended up).

Hundreds of years later, one of their descendants may have been Edmond Dantes.



Dantes, after many long years of suffering, married Mercedes.



I imagine they had several children together (at the end of the movie, Mercedes rests her hand on her belly, which I always think means she's already pregnant again), but their oldest was Albert. If Albert resembles Superman, it's probably because of the Kainan DNA. Superman is an alien, too.



Albert Dantes, born in the early 1800s, had descendants who, several generations later, included John Reese.



Maybe Reese is the last of this bloodline. But maybe there's a baby Carter-Reese in his future.


*Not to be confused with the 2014 movie based on Diana Gabaldon's time-travel romance novel also called Outlander.

If you need me, I'll be counting down the hours until 10 p.m. Eastern.


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Monday, September 23, 2013

Mabon Greetings, Day 2: Let's Talk About Sif

Yesterday we talked about Mabon; today I'll focus on a Northern European goddess strongly associated with the grain harvest, an ideal archetypal figure for a fall holiday of thanksgiving. We can learn a little about this Norse goddess, often simply referred to as "the wife of Thor" (typical patriarchy! to honor a goddess only as far as her relationship to a male divinity), from a beautiful old book I rescued from a library book sale.

My cover looks different. This image is from Amazon.co.uk, and is by this person*

This book, first published in 1957, is called The Lost Gods of England by Brian Branston (not to be confused with Breaking Bad actor Bryan Cranston!). It's all about the religious-mythological system of the British Isles during the Anglo-Saxon period, which it appears was something of a mash-up between traditional Norse mythology and Celtic mythology. The two cultures had some similarities anyway, because all Indo-European pantheons can be traced back to the very ancient religion of the Indian subcontinent.

I just made a really cool thing sound incredibly boring. Norse myth is cool, really. Otherwise, Marvel wouldn't have co-opted it for comic books, and an increasingly successful movie franchise. More on the comic book Sif later.


Sif's brief article at Encyclopedia Mythica will tell you the story of how Loki sneaked into Sif's bedroom and cut off all her golden hair. The crime was investigated by Veronica Mars - no, I'm just kidding. Thor threatened to pull an Incredible Hulk on Loki unless Loki found a way to replace the hair. The ever-resourceful trickster god went to some dwarves, who spun gold into replacement locks, which Loki then magically attached to Sif.


Lost Gods is slightly more instructive. Slightly. Sif comes up four times. The first time is on page 117 of my edition, which teaches us that the Anglo-Saxon counterpart of Thor, called Thunor, is associated with agriculture, which "make[s] for a fertility element to his cult...He is married to the golden-haired goddess Sif, the northern Ceres, another manifestation of Mother Earth." Ceres, of course, is the Roman equivalent of the Greek grain-goddess Demeter, the mother of Persephone.


She comes up again on page 123, in the myth of how Thor once fought a stone giant named Hrungnir and ended up with a piece of stone embedded in his skull. The original source for this tale is the famous Icelandic poet and politician Snorri Sturluson, who lived in the 12th and 13th centuries. Christianity came to Iceland around the year 1000, and by Snorri's time, the Norse religion was no longer the dominant one. But I digress - this myth says only that Hrungnir threatened to abduct both Sif and Freya.


As seen in this Creative Commons image, another famous Icelandic person is Bjork

The third reference, on page 128, is similarly brief; Branston merely asserts that Freya and Sif are the same goddess, and so is Frig.


The final reference, on page 145, takes the tale of how Sif lost her hair as a metaphor - our old favorite, the agricultural metaphor of the Annually Dying and Returning God and his mother/lover who is Mother Earth. The loss of hair is the loss of the lover ("death" of the harvested crops), and its return is the lover's return (springtime growth of new crops from seeds planted in autumn). Branston cites another version of this myth from the Norse canon. In it, Loki steals the Brisingamen (a really fancy piece of jewelry) from Freya.


Heimdall, the guardian of the godly realm of Asgard who controls the rainbow bridge, Bifrost, transforms himself into a seal selkie-style and swims out to the rock on which Loki has stashed it, and after a battle with Loki, retrieves it for the beautiful goddess of sex and death.



If you read Eternally Bad: Goddesses With Attitude by Trina Robbins, as I did many years ago, you'll read a slightly different twist on the story of Freya and the Brisingamen. In it, Freya offers her sexual services to the dwarves, whose craftsmanship produced the shining jewel (a necklace, in Robbins' telling). From this bawdy Norse myth descends the Western European folk tale of Snow White. Oddly enough, by the 20th century this was regarded as such an innocent children's tale, Walt Disney turned it into the first full-length animated Disney movie.


Public domain image, a screen capture from the trailer for the 1937 Disney film, from Wikimedia Commons

Did you wonder why the seven dwarves worked in a diamond mine?


Trina Robbins also wrote The Great Women Superheroes, which my brother bought me one Winter Holidays. It doesn't mention the Marvel Comics version of Sif. (It does, however, mention The Valkyrie, briefly a member of the Marvel "superteam" The Defenders in the 1970s.) But if you saw the 2011 movie Thor, you may remember that Sif was a character - played by a distinctly brunette actress (Jaimie Alexander). If you were a fan of that movie, you've probably already seen this.


Thor: The Dark World is scheduled for a November 2013 release. The Marvel comic book character Sif, according to the Marvel Universe wiki, first appeared in 1964. In this version of the loss of Sif's golden hair, Loki was overeager to get the replacement hair to the goddess, and over time it darkened from shining gold to jet black.

The first Thor film ends with the god's mortal beloved, scientist Jane Foster (played by Natalie Portman), waiting on earth for Thor while he remained in Asgard. In the comics, Thor and Jane have a fairly brief relationship, Odin has long approved of Sif as a mate for Thor, and Thor and Sif get engaged (although they've never been married in the Marvel Universe}. Jane and Sif never come up in the next Marvel film to feature Thor and Loki, The Avengers (2012), but it's possible there may be a bit of a love triangle in The Dark World.

Loki has a wife, Sigyn, both in Norse mythology and in Marvel Comics, but she isn't in the film franchise. That's because the filmmakers want Loki to be a single guy, because they know he is attractive to women. Like me. I love Tom Hiddleston as Loki, and I think Idris Elba is absolutely gorgeous with the golden eyes he has when playing Heimdall. Of course, Idris Elba is absolutely gorgeous reading the phone book, or sitting in traffic, or naked on the roof of the Empire State Building eating an Eskimo Pie.

(Yeah, I reached way back into the '90s for that reference.)

Did I have a point here? Ah, yes - Mabon. The mythological Sif is a great goddess to celebrate at the harvest time because she's a fertility goddess whose golden hair represents the golden sheaves of wheat, or corn, or whatever grain you have that's ripened to a golden brown in the autumn. The sexual pairing of Sif and Thor assures the fertility of the crops. We can also think of Thor and Loki - the fair-haired brother and the dark-haired brother - as archetypes of the Oak King (Thor) and the Holly King (Loki). At Mabon, Loki's powers are starting to decline. At the Winter Solstice - Yule - Loki has his final fling as Lord of Misrule and then becomes the yearly sacrifice of a warrior that Hel (underworld goddess - Loki's daughter, incidentally) demands. Thor will rule until the Summer Solstice, when they'll once again switch places. Eternally. Or at least until Ragnarok, when Loki's monstrous child the Midgard Serpent and Thor kill one another.

I made this myself at QuickMeme.

*This person is Mr. Ian Johnston of Bon Bon Books, Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, U.K. Bon Bon is one of the two bookshop dogs, both Cairn terriers. The other is named Robbie. I only mention it because it makes a charming footnote. Compare Selected Works and its bookshop cat.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mabon Greetings

Blessed be! The Wheel of the Year turns to Mabon, the autumnal equinox, also known as harvest tide or the “witches' Thanksgiving.” Its ancient antecedent was the second of the three Celtic harvest festivals, in between Lughnasa (August 1st, also known by the Christianized name Lammas) and Samhain (the harvest of winter meat, when the grazing animals were brought down from the hills for the winter, October 31). 

Mabon is a period of equal day and night, exactly in between Midsummer Night and the Winter Solstice. What exactly is Mabon as a Neopagan/Wiccan celebration? In modern practice, it's largely a harvest festival for enjoying autumn-gathered foods. It's also a solemn time for reflection on mortality; the goddess in her dark/death-bringer aspect may be recalled at this time. 


In agricultural symbolism, Mabon represents the death of the Green Man* – the crops now die so that human beings can store up food for winter. This is sometimes symbolized by the “sacrifice” or burning of a straw man, the Harvest Lord. The last sheaf of grain to be harvested is sometimes dressed up to become the Harvest Queen. The Harvest Queen is not burned, because she represents fertility and the hope for a good harvest again the following year.

I haven't read this one - the Henry Treece that I've read was 'Red Queen.' 
Because the power of the sun appears to be declining as we now head toward the Winter Solstice, Mabon can be a time to mark the passage of loved ones (as well as a time of mourning for the Green Man and/or the sun god). If you happen to pass a grave during Mabon, you're supposed to acknowledge the person who died and make your respects.

Various ancient Celtic legends have to do with Mabon. One has to do with a Welsh god named Mabon who is born from the womb of Mother Earth – the Earth is quite literally his mother, Modron – springing forth full of knowledge and strength he gained from his mother. (The goddess Modron comes down to us in Arthurian legend as Morgan.)

Another legend has to do with the Irish gods Lugh and Tanist. The twin brothers have opposite functions – Lugh is the god of light, and Tanist is the god of darkness. At Mabon, Tanist defeats Lugh, sits on his throne and steals Lugh's lover, the goddess Tailltiu. Nine months later – at the Summer Solstice – Tailltu gives birth to...well, Tanist. He dies and is reborn every year, and the legend of the dueling brothers relates to the legend of the holly and oak kings

However, it's a bit difficult to get really good sources for either of these legends, so take them each with a grain of salt. For example, if we turn to Encyclopedia Mythica:

- An article on Mabon is included, mentioning that Mabon is the son of "mother goddess" and lived in Annwn, which the encyclopedia names as the Welsh underworld but does not link with the mother-goddess's womb

- An article on Modron, without reference to her as Mother Earth, calling her only "a Welsh goddess" and a prototype of the Arthurian Morgan. 


- An article on Lugh, which doesn't mention him being a god of the sun or of light (although his fertility magic is related to the ripening of the crops, which was celebrated with a 30-day summer festival which was the antecedent of modern Lughnasa) and names his consort as Rosmerta (the Gaulish goddess of "fire, warmth, and abundance;" J.K. Rowling named the Three Broomsticks barmaid after her, perhaps for Madam Rosmerta's ability to dispense an abundance of butterbeers). 

- No article on Tanist. Wikipedia says that "tanaiste" (with an accent on the first a) is an Irish Gaelic word meaning second-in-command, heir, or first deputy of the clan chief or king. Ireland still uses the word to indicate the deputy prime minister. The Wikipedia entry also says that James Frazer, in The Golden Bough, used the word to designate a "substitute for the sacred king." To say that the god Lugh has a tanaiste or tanist may simply be a way of saying that he had a highly-honored "deputy" who was sacrificed in his place. 

However, in the holly king-oak king tradition, when Lugh's reign was over, Lugh would be sacrificed to make room for Tanist. Then Tanist's reign would end, and Tanist would be sacrificed to make room for Lugh in a never-ending cycle. 

- An article on Tailltu (spelled there with only one L) that names her not as Lugh's consort, but as his nurse. 

However, it's certainly possible that Tailltu and Rosmerta are different aspects of the same goddess, and it's certainly not unknown for a fertility/agricultural god to have a mother who, in another aspect or phase, is also his lover - it's an agricultural metaphor for the relationship between the earth (mother) and seed-bearing crop (son). 

Another myth that accounts for the declining daylight at this time of year is the myth of Persephone's descent into the Underworld, which is sometimes observed at Mabon. The grain-goddess Demeter is in mourning when her daughter Persephone goes into the Underworld, and her mourning is another aspect that gives Mabon a somewhat sad, solemn character in contrast to the joy we usually associated with harvest/thanksgiving celebrations.

Here is a review of the book Persephone (Daughters of Zeus), a book written by Kaitlin Bevis. The review is written by Abbey at Finding My Forever. 


Two more Persephone books that I read and reviewed over the past year:


Miss Underworld by Rachel Kechagias


Cora: The Unwilling Queen by Amy Hutchinson

Read more at The White Goddess, Earth Witchery, Love of the Goddess, and Mystickal Realms.



*In other versions of the legend, the death of Green Man, or the Holly King/Holly Knight (Sir Gawain's Green Knight) is associated with the Winter Solstice and the Lord of Misrule or Fool who was sacrificed after his moment of glory at the solstice festival. In his place, the Oak King would rule until he was deposed by the Holly King at Midsummer, i.e. the summer solstice. In this case, it would be easy to associate dark Tanist with the Holly King and bright Lugh with the Oak King, but then Mabon would only be the halfway point in Tanist's rule. Perhaps rather than his death, Mabon commemorates the Holly King's/Green Man's/Tanist's waning power.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pairs of Really Big Ones

A Note From Erin O'Riordan

September 18th is the birthday of Toni Kukoc, my former-Yugoslavian fixation. This is not an event I celebrate annually, but I was reminded it was coming up when I saw this image on Tumblr.


This  essay - entirely my own original writing - was originally published by OystersAndChocolate.com (now defunct) in May 2007. You can't read it anywhere else on the Internet anymore, so here you go. 

It's really, really candid, so read at your own risk

"Pairs of Really Big Ones"

I=m not an NBA groupie.  I=m not even a wannabe-groupie.  For a feminist woman, watching men=s basketball is an iffy proposition.  Many players have been accused of violence against women (see Jeff Benedict's Out of Bounds).  The closest I=ve ever come to a real-life player was when I stood in line at the mini-mart behind soon-to-be Golden State Warrior Troy Murphy.  He was buying an ice cream cone.


 I do, however, have a very active imagination.  What else is a girl to do on a long, dark Indiana night, but snuggle up under her favorite quilt and watch the Pacers?  And, since none of my family or friends were interested in watching basketball with me, I learned early that it was a solo activity.  The innate sexual implications of a game where men in short shorts move rhythmically, sweating together as a group, made me horny.  Since I was alone anyway, wasn=t it the perfect time to pleasure myself?

I was a late bloomer when it came to masturbation; I wasn=t interested until I was 17.  That was >93->94; coincidentally, the same year the Pacers got good for the first time in a long time.   The reason for their success that year was a guard by the name of Reginald Miller.  As he was becoming a star in the NBA, Reggie was also becoming a star in my erotic fantasies. 


I don=t even remember what it was I liked so much about Reggie.  Maybe it was his eyes, his smile, or his California cool.  All I know is, it took me forever to get off in those days.  But when I finally did, at least in my mind, Reggie always had a hand in it B or a dick, or a tongue.  In my fevered brain, Reggie and I fucked in the locker room, in hot tubs, in limos, even on pirate ships.

Just like on the basketball court, though, Reggie couldn=t be expected to do everything himself.  He needed backup, and that backup came from Pacers center Rik Smits.  Rik is a giant, seven feet four inches of blond, blue-eyed Viking warrior.  Rik is from the Netherlands.  Rik=s Europeanness was as fascinating as his Euro-penis.


I imagined being double-teamed by Rik and Reggie.  We=d go to bed, our hands, lips and tongues all over each other.  Then I=d ride Reggie until I was near-exhausted.  I would barely hit the mattress before Rik would lift me on top of him, begging me to the same to him.

My Aaffair@ with Reggie Miller and Rik Smits was ongoing.  In college, when I fell in love with a woman, I think I liked her so much because she resembled a girl version of Rik.  She had his blue eyes, and her blonde hair was boyishly short.  She had played basketball, too, although her career was cut short by an ACL injury.



In my college-days fantasies, my girlfriend and I would be playing pool in the back room of some bar when Rik and Reggie would walk in. My girlfriend and Reggie would go to the bar for another round, leaving me alone with Rik.  He=d flat-out ask me if I was bi.  I would  protest that I was just trying to be with my girlfriend, but by the end of the evening all four of us would be naked on the pool table.

In 1998, the Pacers made it to the Eastern Conference finals, meeting up with the Chicago Bulls.  It would turn out that this was Michael Jordan=s last playoffs series with the Bulls, and they would go on to win the championship in a spectacular series against the Western Conference-champ Utah Jazz.  At the time, I was just frustrated that Reggie and Rik were left out of the finals again.

There was one consolation prize, though: at least the Bulls were a pretty team.  There was Jordan, of course.  I always found Scottie Pippen=s face a bit horsey, but there was no denying that Michael Jordan was fine.  He wasn=t my favorite, though.  That distinction was held by Dennis Rodman, whose wild hair, pierced nose and tattoos are the boy equivalent of fuck-me heels.  


There=s no doubt that Dennis has issues; just ask the ref he head-butted or the reporter he reportedly kicked in the groin.  Dennis Rodman (still) has a gorgeous body, including the most beautiful legs I=ve ever seen on a man.  And he cross-dresses; those big, beautiful lips are even prettier with a little gloss.  And he dated Madonna.  I defy any bi, anywhere in the world, to not fantasize about being locked in a room with Dennis and Madonna.  


Unlike my Reggie and Rik fantasies, my erotic imaginings with Dennis weren=t staged in polite, private places like hotel rooms.  Dennis was wild; he=s do anything, anywhere.  We always seemed to be ending up in strip clubs in my daydreams, with Dennis getting naked just as often as the strippers.


But I soon found that, with Reggie and Rik, I=d established a pattern.  My chocolate fantasies needed a scoop of vanilla.  For that, there was Toni Kukoc, the Bulls= six-foot-eleven power forward.  Not quite as pretty as Dennis, a bit skinny and slope-shouldered, he had other nice features.  In contrast to Dennis=s many colorful markings, Toni had a single tattoo, a shark.  He pulled off a goatee that would have looked ridiculous on any American white boy.  And he was even more exotic than Rik, coming from Croatia.  He spoke to the press rarely, but when he did, his deeply accented English (think Gary Oldman in Dracula) never failed to melt my butter.  Most of my Dennis and Toni fantasies began with Dennis and me putting eyeliner on Toni, and ended with sexy words I didn=t understand hollered out in Serbo-Croat.


After 1998, following the second retirement of Jordan, the Bulls weren=t much fun to watch.  The Pacers could be similarly frustrating.  In 2000, they beat the Knicks in the Eastern Conference finals, only to lose the championship to the Lakers.  Rik Smits retired after the >99->00 season.  On November 19, 2004, Ron Artest and friends embarrassed the hell out of Indiana in the infamous punch-throwing incident in Detroit.  That sad season was capped off with the Pistons beating the Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals.  The end of the >04->05 season was also the end of the line for Reggie; he retired from basketball to join his sister Cheryl as a sportscaster for TNT.  And I never got to thank him for getting me off so many times!

Watching the NBA finals in 2005, I was still pissed that Reggie=s last season hadn=t ended in a trophy.  I didn=t so much root for the San Antonio Spurs as against the Pistons.  The Spurs won the series, and I was introduced to the beautiful boys of San Antonio.  There=s power forward Tim Duncan, sweet-faced and wholesome looking.  A little nerdy, even B is that a wizard tattooed on his back?  He reminds me of the boys I had crushes on at my Catholic middle school.  


And the Salt to Tim=s Pepa is shooting guard Emanuel (Manu) Ginobili.  Sure, he=s from Argentina, the country that kicked our asses at the >04 Olympics.  But one look at his sweet moves and you forget all about that.  He=s so graceful, some nights he looks more like a ballet dancer than a basketball player.  Manu even falls gracefully.  And then there are his charming imperfections, the bald spot and that way-crooked nose. 


I celebrated the Spurs= victory over the Pistons by getting Tim and Manu alone in the pool of a swank San Antonio hotel . . . well, in my imagination, anyway.

Sources Used

www.wikipedia.org : Articles on Reggie Miller, Rik Smits, Ron Artest, Dennis Rodman, Toni Kukoc, Tim  Duncan and Manu Ginobili

www.nba.com : Player file on Reggie Miller (www.nba.com/playerfile/reggie_miller/index.html?nav=encyc_stats)

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