Sunday, August 31, 2014

'Futurama' Gets the Adult Parody Treatment


[Press Release] (Woodland Hills, CA) August 29th, 2014 – Prepare yourselves for naughty space crustaceans, naked robots, a sexy Cyclops, and the most luscious live-action cartoon characters in the universe!

WoodRocket.com is bringing sexy back in a sci-fi way, with the adult parody of the popular television series, Futurama, entitled F**karama.

Created by the team behind the XXX parody of The Simpsons, F**karama is an all-female, quite often naked, live-action cosplay photo shoot that spoofs and pays homage to the beloved cult classic cartoon.

And it is now available for Free to view on WoodRocket.com.

Photographed by Chad Duerksen (Weird + Naked UHF, The Royal Tenendongs), F**karama features models Vuko, Lily Bergman, and Jessica Dawn portraying sexy parodies of some of your favorite Futurama characters like Fry, Leela, Bender, Amy, Professor Farnsworth, Zapp Brannigan, and even the sexiest red crab-like alien from Decapod 10, Zoidberg.

Check out F**karama for free at www.woodrocket.com

Thursday, August 28, 2014

'Religio Duplex:' How the Enlightenment Reinvented Egyptian Religion (Review)


Religio Duplex: How the Enlightenment Reinvented Egyptian Religion by Jan Assman, translated into English from German by Robert Savage, is described like this on Amazon.com:

"In this important new book, the distinguished Egyptologist Jan Assmann provides a masterful overview of a crucial theme in the religious history of the West - that of 'religio duplex,' or dual religion. He begins by returning to the theology of the Ancient Egyptians, who set out to present their culture as divided between the popular and the elite. By examining their beliefs, he argues, we can distinguish the two faces of ancient religions more generally: the outer face (that of the official religion) and the inner face (encompassing the mysterious nature of religious experience).

"Assmann explains that the Early Modern period witnessed the birth of the idea of dual religion with, on the one hand, the religion of reason and, on the other, that of revelation. This concept gained new significance in the Enlightenment when the dual structure of religion was transposed onto the individual. This meant that man now owed his allegiance not only to his native religion, but also to a universal 'religion of mankind.' In fact, argues Assmann, religion can now only hold a place in our globalized world in this way, as a religion that understands itself as one among many and has learned to see itself through the eyes of the other. This bold and wide-ranging book will be essential reading for historians, theologians, and anyone interested in the nature of religion and its role in the shaping of the modern world."

This is a dense, scholarly work by a German academic who's not only a noted Egyptologist but also well-versed in European history. Let's look at it chapter by chapter to see if we can make out Assmann's main arguments.

Introduction

The introduction begins with a quote by P.E. Jablonski: "Should we not say that Spinoza took his [doctrine] from the Egyptians?" Assmann's assumption is that the reader is already familiar with Spinozism (or Spinozaism). It's been many a year since my college philosophy course, so I am not. But, looking it up in Merriam-Webster online, we read, "the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza, who taught that reality is one substance with an infinite number of attributes of which only thought and extension are capable of being apprehended by the human mind."

That's not exactly an easy sentence to understand, but the Wikipedia entry on Spinozism helps place it into context a bit. Spinoza was sometimes accused in his own time (1632-1677) and afterwards of being an atheist for his suggestion that the entire world was a material one. However, the philosopher's suggestion was closer to "the universe is a subset of God," a position sometimes referred to as "panentheism."

Baruch Spinoza. Public domain image
Assmann's point in bringing up the 17th-century Dutch philosopher was the concept of "natural religion" (as represented by Spinoza) as opposed to "revealed" or "positive" religion, which is what we usually think of when we think of "religion." Natural religion demands reason; revealed religion demands faith.

We're then introduced to two scholars who came after Spinoza, Ralph Cudworth (1617-1688) and Theodor Ludwig Lau (1670-1740). Cudworth was an English philosopher, and Lau was a German lawyer and essayist.

Cudworth's The True Intellectual System of the Universe (written in English, then translated in Latin and published in that scholarly language in 1733) was intended to refute atheism. It looked at religions of the ancient world, including Egypt's, and attempted to show that each of these religions showed evidence of belief in "all-oneness," a kind of pantheism (all is God) or panentheism (all is in God). Cudworth proposed that the ancient Egyptian religion had a polytheistic "outer" religion and a pantheistic "inner" religion. This is the main idea of religio duplex, or double religion.

Lau, in his Meditationes, Theses, Dubia philosophica-theologica, actually coined the term religio duplex. His work articulates the difference between "natural" and "revealed" religion, which again boils down to religion that can be reached through reason vs. religion that can be taught by the clergy and which requires faith. At about the same time Lau's work was published, Jacob Friedrich Reimmann described the ancient Egyptian religion as being divided into the "exoteric" and "esoteric" ("open" and "hidden").

Chapter 1. Egyptian Foundations: The Dual Meaning of Signs

The first chapter looks at how the Enlightenment-era philosophers arrived at their understanding of ancient Egyptian religion. The intent of this chapter is to trace the history of a thought. Assmann concludes that the 17th and 18th century philosophers understood the Egyptian religion through the extant writings of the ancient Greeks, most notably Hecataeus of Abdera. Hecataeus was a Greek scholar invited to Egypt by the monarch Ptolemy I Soter (circa 367-283 BCE). His job was to explain the traditional Egyptian religion to the Macedonian ruler; Ptolemy I was a general under Alexander the Great before he was made king of Egypt.

Ptolemy I Soter. Public domain image
Greek writers from this period in Egyptian history did not understand the Egyptian language and could not read hieroglyphs. To these Greeks, the Egyptian priests seemed to be practicing a public religion, one that involved parades and tributes to the various animal-headed gods, but also cultivating an esoteric religion known only to the priestly elite. This was a cultural error, Assmann contends.

Chapter 2. From the Dual Meaning of Signs to Dual Religion

The second chapter goes on to show how the religio duplex idea was picked up by Moses Maimonides (1135-1204). Maimonides was writing about Judaism. He thought the pagan religions were simple, but that Judaism alone had a complexity in that it was divided between "an exoteric political theology and an esoteric philosophical theology." Maimonides wrote in Arabic and Hebrew, and while he wasn't unknown to Christian thinkers in Western Europe, his works were not widely available to Western European scholars until Johann Buxtorf the Younger (Swiss, 1599-1664) translated Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed into Latin in 1629.

Bronze statue of Maimonides in Cordoba. Creative Commons image by David Baron
The ideas of Maimonides then influenced John Spencer (1630-1693), who - like Buxtorf - was a Hebrew scholar writing for the benefit of a Christian audience. Spencer advanced the idea of Judaism as a religion with two goals. His thesis was that Judaism was a religion that encoded its signs and symbols so that they were able to be read in two different ways.

Spencer and Cudworth were both working from Cambridge University and were peers. Both studied the ancient Egyptian religion. Yet Cudworth, Assmann asserts, was less interested in the semiotics (sign system) of ancient Egypt and more interested in the content of the ancient religion. Specifically, Cudworth's concern was the theology of Egypt's exoteric religion versus the theology of its hidden, elite religion.

An interesting sidenote in this chapter is the mention on page 49 of a historian named Isaac Casaubon who lived from 1559-1614. I simple wondered whether George Eliot named her character John Casaubon in Middlemarch after the 16th-century scholar. The fictional Mr. Casaubon is attempting to write a scholarly-religious piece about the unity of all world religions, and that seems like something Ralph Cudworth would be working on.

Chapter 3. Religio Duplex and Political Theology

Assmann begins by informing the reader that the term "political theology" was used in two senses during the Enlightenment era. The first sense is the identification of a particular religion with the state, a situation which creates the problems I read about Christianophobia. But Assmann's chapter is going to deal with the second sense, which refers to political powers using religion to further state goals, the main goal often being achieving civic peace and order.

According to the author, political theology in the second sense was criticized by both atheists and Deists. This chapter assumed familiarity with the concept of Deism. According to the World Union of Deists website, Deism can be defined thus:

"Deism is the recognition of a universal creative force greater than that demonstrated by [hu]mankind, supported by personal observation of laws and designs in nature and the universe, perpetuated and validated by the innate ability of human reason coupled with the rejection of claims made by individuals and organized religions of having received special divine revelation."

Essentially, Deism is the belief in natural religion and the rejection of revealed religion.

For the Enlightenment-era atheists, revealed religions were frauds perpetrated against the common people. For the English Deist John Toland (1670-1722), the pagan religions are merely superstitions, but Moses was excluded from the group of religious fraudsters. In Toland's writings, Moses is a philosopher who recognizes the God of nature.

John Toland. Public domain image
Following Toland's line of thought, William Warburton (1698-1779) wrote The Divine Legation of Moses. It purports to show that while paganism is a fiction invented for political purposes, there has never been a culture that successfully operated without a religion. He argues that political theology is necessary and that the Judeo-Christian philosophy is a logical and essential basis for civil order.

Sidenote: Toland writes, "...Isis has this inscription at Sais: I Am All That Was, Is, And Shall Be, Nor Has Any Mortal Discover'd What's Under My Hood. Isis therefore, whom the vulgar believ'd to have been a Queen...was the Nature of All Things, according to the Philosophers, who held the Universe to be the principal God, or the supreme being, and consequently abstruse or obscure, none seeing beyond the surface of Nature. But this they only discover'd to the initiated. To that of Sais corresponds another Inscription still remaining at Capua; To Thee, Who Alone Art All Things, O Goddess Isis."

Public domain image
He's referring to a passage written by the ancient Greek philosopher Plutarch (circa 46-120 CE). On this website it's quoted as: "In Sais the statue of Athena whom they believe to be Isis, bore the mysterious inscription: "I am all that has been, and is, and shall be, and my robe no mortal has yet uncovered." Apparently Plutarch was well-known in the 18th century, because the German poet/philosopher Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805) wrote a poem called "The Veiled Image at Sais" in reference to the above passage.

Plutarch evidently identified the Greek goddess Athena with the Egyptian goddess Isis. You will have heard the name ISIS in the news quite a bit recently, in reference to the terrorist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. An older name for Syria is The Levant, so sometimes it will be called ISIL, which is the acronym President Obama has been using. I think the President is trying not to offend Neopagans by using the name of a Great Goddess to describe an organization which is slaughtering people in northern Iraq. I think the President actually understands that we live in a multicultural world.

But I digress. I only thought it might be interesting to compare the idea of Athena and/or Isis as Supreme Being to the Gnostic conception of Sophia.

Chapter 4. Religio Duplex and Freemasonry

In this chapter, Assmann shows that an essay by Anton Kreil introduced Enlightenment-era German Freemasons to the idea of religio duplex. The Freemasons also read a novel by Jean Terrasson (1670-1750) called Sethos, which depicts its hero undergoing an initiation into the "Egyptian mysteries" upon entering a pyramid. In the temple of Isis, Sethos is offered a choice between the Draught of Oblivion which will make him forget and the Draft of Remembrance which will allow him to remember what he's learned. (Is that where the Wachowskis got the inspiration for the red and blue pills of The Matrix?) It's fictitious and only loosely based on the author's interests in history and antiquities, but some people took the depictions of the Egyptian mysteries quite seriously.

On page 107, Assmann sort of sums up the relationship between the Freemasons and the concept of an ancient Egyptian religio duplex in a paragraph that reads:

"This image of a split-level society, a society divided between superstructure and substructure, publicity and secrecy, accords with what the polyhistor Reimmann termed philosophia duplex, and it encapsulates how people pictured ancient Egyptian culture at the time. It also corresponds to the image the freemasons made of themselves as an elite that had taken cover in an underworld of secret ritual."

Mozart. Public domain in the United States
The rest of the chapter shows how Mozart's The Magic Flute can be understood on two levels. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) was an active freemason, as was his father. This, I suppose, is simply one example of how the train of thought that began with Hecataeus of Abdera trickled out of the freemason lodges and into the larger Western European culture.

Chapter 5. In the Era of Globalization: Religio Duplex as Dual Membership

As we shifted into the modern era, the concept of religio duplex began to be understood as one's particular religion (i.e. Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, etc.) as one level and a universal human religion - an anthropological constant - as the second. Assmann claims this shift was articulated by Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786) in his 1783 book Jerusalem. The freemasons and the other secret societies of the Enlightenment era - the Rosicrucians and the Bavarian Illuminati among them - accepted members regardless of their particular religions, and considered themselves the guardians of those few, specially evolved souls who were enlightened enough to recognize the universal human religion.

Following Chapter 5, there are two additional sections on how this train of thought can be followed into the present era, perhaps laying the groundwork for religions to co-exist in an increasingly globalized world.

This isn't a book that's likely to appeal to the casual reader interested either in the Enlightenment in Western Europe or in Egyptology. It's a specialized interest, to be sure. Philosophy majors might enjoy it, and so might people with a heavy interest in studying the history of freemasonry.

P.S.

I would have warmer feelings about Robert Savage if he'd chosen to translate "mankind" as "humankind." Come on guys, it's 2014. Enough of this exclusive language nonsense.

New Release: Smut by the Sea Volume 3, edited by Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985) and Victoria Blisse (@victoriablisse)

Blurb:

Light hearted, sexy fun by the sea is the theme of this erotic anthology, edited by Victoria Blisse and Lucy Felthouse.

From exotic locales such as Croatia and Australia to the coastal caves of England, Smut by the Sea Volume 3 has it all. Whatever your interpretation of naughty seaside fun, there’s something nestling between the covers for you. Kinky role play, gorgeous artists, bobbing boats, sexy cougars, hunky hermits, and more abound in this exciting collection of stories from erotica’s finest authors.

Buy links: http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk/published-works/smut-by-the-sea-volume-3/ 

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22703850-smut-by-the-sea-volume-3


*****

Excerpt from "Hermit" by Lucy Felthouse:

Karen grimaced as she drove the car onto the Dungeness estate. She knew for a fact she was on said estate because she’d just passed a sign proudly proclaiming her whereabouts. Personally, she couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. It looked pretty damn grim, in her opinion.

She sighed. As soon as she’d been handed the assignment, she’d known it would be a bitch. The blog she wrote for, Universe of Quirk, published just that—anything quirky. This meant there was a huge amount of scope for articles for the site. Mostly it was about weird phenomena, picking out oddities in popular culture and freaky findings the world over. For the most part, Karen loved her job—she had a genuine interest in the bizarre and unusual, and a good nose for sniffing things out to write about. She didn’t often have to leave the comfort of her office chair to write her articles—the Internet gave her all the information she needed, at the touch of a button. And what she couldn’t gather via Google, she could find out by interviewing people. By email, phone or Skype.

But not Tom Pettyfer, it seemed. According to her notes, he was an ex-army dude who’d had some kind of meltdown, quit his job and moved to a shack in Dungeness. He was now a total hermit—hence the in-person interview. He had no telephone, let alone a computer or Internet access. Her boss had had to arrange the appointment by snail mail, for heaven’s sake! As such, there’d been no way of double checking he was still available. Karen hoped like hell he hadn’t suddenly decided to go out—leaving her with a long journey home with no article in the bag.

Continuing along the poorly-surfaced road, Karen slowed the car to a crawl—both to avoid damaging the rental vehicle and also to squint at the shacks she passed to find the one she was looking for. They all seemed to have names rather than numbers, which made the signs easier to read, but it was more difficult to find the right one, as there was no rhyme or reason to the layout. For all she knew, Tom Pettyfer’s shack could be the very last one on the lane.

Soon, she discovered that was not the case. Tom’s home was a strange-looking wooden building that wasn’t near to anything else. It sat alone in the shingle, a sparse garden-type thing surrounding it, and an ancient rusty car on the driveway. She supposed there was no point buying and running an expensive car if one didn’t go anywhere. Perhaps he just used it for errands and grocery shopping. He couldn’t shop online—so how else would he buy food and other necessities? How did he pay for those things if he never went out, didn’t have a job?

She reminded herself that this was the whole point of the trip. To meet this hermit and ask him questions, to find out why he lived the way he did, what made him tick. What had happened to make him choose this lifestyle?

Her car wouldn’t fit on the driveway behind his so she parked at the side of the road in front of his house, figuring traffic wouldn’t exactly be a problem anyway. Looking around, she was struck by the eeriness of the place, the loneliness. Add that to the ugly nuclear power station perched at the edge of the estate and you had a recipe for… well, hell on earth, really. And they called Kent the garden of England.

Pulling herself back to the task at hand, Karen grabbed her stuff then stepped out of the car, locking it and walking up to Tom’s shack. The sooner she got the interview over with, the sooner she could leave this desolate dump. Grey clouds overhead threatened rain, and she could hear the sea crashing mercilessly against the shore, the saltiness in the air filling her nostrils and coating her tongue. None of those things endeared her to the place.

Reaching the front door of Tom’s shack, she sucked in a deep breath and let it out, then straightened her stance. She was so used to working from home, lounging in her office chair as she researched and typed away, that she’d almost forgotten what it was like to meet someone on a professional basis. It was imperative to get this guy to trust her, so he’d open up and give her some good stuff for her piece. The project was a pain in the arse, but she couldn’t grumble too much—the site’s editor had made it worth her while financially.

Satisfied her body language was business-like yet friendly; Karen knocked on the door, and waited.

A couple of seconds later, the door opened. “Hi,” said a guy about her age, “you must be Karen, from Universe of Quirk.”

“Uh, yeah… that’s me.” So much for being professional. She hadn’t been expecting a god to answer the door. It had totally thrown her. “I mean, sorry, yes. I’m Karen Wilson. Lovely to meet you.” Holding out her hand, she tried not to swoon as the hottie reached out and gripped it, his own hand warm and dry, the shake firm but not crushing. Her belly did flip flops.

*****

Editor Bios:

Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100 publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women's Erotica 2013, and Best Erotic Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house. She owns Erotica For All, is book editor for Cliterati, and is one eighth of The Brit Babes. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9

Victoria Blisse is a Mother, Wife, Christian, Manchester United Fan and Award Winning Erotica Authoress. She is also the editor of several Bigger Briefs collections, and the co-editor of the fabulous Smut Alfresco and Smut in the City and Smut by the Sea anthologies.

Victoria is also one of the brains behind the fabulous Smut Events, get togethers for authors and writers alike. Check out http://smutters.co.uk for the details of the next smut gathering.

She is equally at home behind a laptop or a cooker (She is TEB’s resident “Naked Chef”) and she loves to create stories, poems, cakes and biscuits that make people happy. She was born near Manchester, England and her northern English quirkiness shows through in all of her stories.

Passion, love and laughter fill her works, just as they fill her busy life.

You can find often find Victoria procrastinating on:

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

...and if you want to know more check out her website: http://victoriablisse.co.uk

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review: 'Four: A Divergent Collection' by Veronica Roth

Four: A Divergent CollectionFour: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I told myself I would take a hiatus from YA books after reading This Star Won't Go Out, but obviously my hiatus has already ended. So what if I'm occasionally reading the same book as my 10-year-old niece? Books like this one make me happy.

And sad.

Based on my personal enjoyment of this book, I'd give it five stars, but I think four stars are appropriate since it isn't going to mean nearly as much to someone who hasn't read the Divergent trilogy. I'd read the first story, "The Transfer," when it was available as an e-book for Nook. The first time I read it, it struck me as poignant and insightful. It was nice to read it again and be reminded of the small details that make up Four' character.

One thing that bothered me slightly: Roth describes both Amar and Zeke as "dark-skinned." Amar is Middle Eastern/North African and Zeke is La Raza. Surely they don't have the exact same skin tone. Is Roth trying to say that Tobias, her narrator, divides the whole world into "dark-skinned" and "light-skinned" people? That's not very Abnegation. Perhaps Roth just didn't realize she could use more rich and varied words to tell us what Zeke and Amar look like. Rookie mistake, maybe.

The other two stories that take place before Four meets Tris, "The Initiate" and "The Son," also struck me as being poignant, especially where they address Four's complicated relationship with his mother.

Then, in "The Traitor," Tris appears. Why did I imagine it wouldn't be painful to revisit Tris and Four's relationship? I kind of felt like my heart was caught in a vise as I read some of Four's first impressions - his first stirrings of love - towards his soul-mate. At the same time, spending some more time with FourTris is a wonderful gift from Ms. Roth. The third of the three "exclusive scenes" at the end is especially romantic, if you're into that kind of thing.

Which I totally am.


The copy I read was on loan from my local library, although I wish it could live in my house. When the Collector's Edition of Divergent comes out (October 21, 2014), I'm buying that for myself. I might even pre-order it. Heaven help me, I loved the Divergent series, and it's a world I'm not yet willing to leave.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

This is an affiliate link:

Shift by Madison Dunn. $8.99 from Smashwords.com
I'm not sure why it happens, but when I focus just right, I can slow time. Things around me become lighter somehow, and I almost feel the tiny particles of energy spinning inside of them. The thing is, having the ability to transform the world around you isn't all it's cracked up to be -- especially when you are running from the Valencia without any deodorant.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Live Event! ‘An Intimate Talk with Ernest Greene and Nina Hartley’ Tuesday 8/26 #SexTalkTuesday


[Press Release] CYBERSPACE – Online discussion portal MindBrowse.com is set to host its second live show, “An Intimate Talk with Ernest Greene and Nina Hartley” on Tuesday, August 26, starting at 3 p.m. A live videoconferencing event produced by Sssh.com, the legendary husband and wife duo will talk about Greene’s new novel Master of O, the recent appearance of BDSM on the pop culture radar, and their careers in adult entertainment, each of which spans over 30 years.

“Nina and Ernest have been a huge part of the porn industry over the last several decades, and they have an enormous wealth of experience and knowledge,” said Angie Rowntree, owner of Sssh.com and coordinator of MindBrowse.com events. “I look forward to hearing them talk about everything from BDSM culture to recent developments in the adult entertainment industry.”

Hartley, who performed in her first adult film in 1984, is also well known for her work as a sex educator and author. In addition to performing in nearly 1000 adult movies, Hartley has released a line instructional videos, and in 2006 published the book Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex.


Greene has been involved in the production of adult films for three decades as a writer, director, producer, and performer, and has over 500 movies to his credit. Greene produced and directed the Nina Hartley’s Guide instructional series, with has sold 250,000 units and now includes over 40 individual titles.

An Intimate Talk with Ernest Greene and Nina Hartley starts at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, August 26, and is available to viewers free of charge on www.MindBrowse.com. The discussion also will be live-tweeted and monitored at @ssshforwomen under the hashtag #sextalktuesday. Viewers may interact during the event and pose their own questions and points under the #sextalktuesday tag for Hartley and Greene to address.

Previous #SexTalkTuesday Guests:

Nina Hartley
Midori
Desiree Burch
Joan Price

Monday, August 25, 2014

Commentary: 'Fated' (The Vampire Destiny Series #1) by Alexandra Anthony


Yesterday I finished reading a short Nook book, Fated by Alexandra Anthony. Fated is the first book in Anthony's Vampire Destiny series of paranormal erotic romance novels. This was the review I posted on Goodreads after I finished the book:

Fated (The Vampire Destiny Series Book #1)Fated by Alexandra Anthony
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This erotic paranormal romance is a quick, easy, fun read with lots of hot sex. I thought the mind-reading heroine, Josephine, reminded me of Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries series heroine Sookie Stackhouse. The main difference is that while Sookie is blonde, Josie has reddish blonde hair.

Josie is a Southerner, but the setting of this story is Bali, where Josie is on a sort of working vacation. The hero, Stefan, is tall, blond, and Nordic. He has icy blue eyes and speaks Swedish, which automatically made me think of Alexander Skarsgaard as Eric Northman on True Blood...which is, of course, the TV adaptation of Harris's novel series. Did this read a little like True Blood fan fiction? Yes, and I didn't mind. There isn't much of a plot until the very end of the novel - the action mostly happens in bed - but I didn't mind that either, because the characters were likable and the sex scenes were well-written. It was a nice escape into a vampire fantasy world.

View all my reviews on Goodreads (review ends here)

I bought this ebook from the Barnes and Noble website. I'd discovered it on the http://bookclubreading.com/ website. The website not only lists books for sale and accepts reviews but also allows book clubs to contact the authors for book club meetings. FYI, I'm an affiliate and earn a small commission when a group books an author through my site.

Because I bought the book at Barnes and Noble, I also wanted to post a copy of my review to the B+N website. It was then that I discovered the ebook was no longer available on that site. I thought this was a little strange, but not too strange. When I read Play Him Again, I went to review it on Smashwords only to discover it's no longer for sale there.

So then I thought maybe I'd post my review on Amazon.com. (FYI, I am an Amazon affiliate, but there isn't an affiliate link in this post.) Here's where I discovered the controversy with this book. I didn't read any of the other reviews on Goodreads.

Fated has 275 reviews on Amazon, with an average of 3.5 stars. It has 120 5-star reviews and 45 1-star reviews. The 1-star reviews, for the most part, all convey the same information: namely, that Anthony plagiarized parts of Fated from a True Blood fan fiction author who went by the name of ficlet78. But how am I to determine whether these accusations are true or false?

By Googling "Alexandra Anthony plagiarism," I came upon ficlet78's WordPress blog. In a post dated July 28, 2014, ficlet78 (who signs the post as "Heather") says she Googled a few sentences of her fan fiction work titled "Pretty Kitty" and found her words being used in an excerpt on Anthony's WordPress blog (which is private, i.e. not accessible without an invitation). She then discovered Anthony's work for sale on B+N and Amazon. Heather says she's contacted Anthony and asked her to take the work down. It appears this is the reason I could no longer find the book for sale at B+N.

If you read through the comments, you'll see that in a comment posted July 31, 2014, Heather says Anthony admitted copying Heather's work. Heather writes, "As angry as I was/am, I have to take the moment and give her some credit. She could have ignored my messages. She could have taken the psycho-bitch route and denied the whole thing, then done everything in her power to discredit me. But she didn’t. She admitted it. Publicly. And while she did take one scene from my work (which is all I and several others have found so far), she did the hardest thing and was a fucking adult about it. So I thank her for that, at the very least."

The blog Book Goggles posted about the incident on July 30, 2014. Read here

However, since I'm unable to read Alexandra Anthony's response firsthand, I'm aware that this is only one side of the story. I'd hate for a hardworking author to be unjustly accused of plagiarism. At the same time, because we authors do work so hard, often for little or no compensation, it's especially egregious when someone does cross the line and pass someone else's work off at their own.

When I was a student in a Catholic high school, I was told I would automatically fail my English classes if I were caught plagiarizing in a paper, even if it was unintentional (i.e. failure to cite a source). I guess that lesson always stuck with me. It never crosses my mind to use any words other than my own, except when I let the reader know that something is a quote.

In summary, I enjoyed Fated, but I have reason to suspect it's not entirely the original work of Alexandra Anthony. I leave it for the reader to decide for herself.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

New Paranormal Erotic Romance Novel by Lucy Felthouse – PACK OF LIES! (@cw1985) #erotica #romance #werewolves


Blurb:

Werewolf brothers Matthew and Isaac have lived in the peaceful village of Eyam all their lives. The villagers know what happens every full moon, and are happy to keep their secret. But their privacy comes at a cost—neither brother has taken a lover in almost four hundred years.

Then at the full moon, a sheep is slaughtered on Eyam Moor, by what could only be an animal. A large, vicious animal. Even the brothers’ staunchest supporters begin to have their doubts. Meanwhile Isaac is smitten by a handsome newcomer to the village, while a vivacious visitor is happy to offer Matthew her all.
As they indulge their lust, they must clear their names and convince their neighbours that they aren’t also letting their baser instincts out to play.

Inside Scoop:  This book contains sizzling scenes of both M/M and M/F sex.

Buy links: http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk/published-works/pack-of-lies/

Add to your Goodreads shelves: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22756241-pack-of-lies

*****

Excerpt:

As Matthew and Isaac Adams opened the front door to their house, the telephone started ringing. Matthew sighed. “Typical. No rest for the wicked. I’ll answer it, you go and get ready for work.”

Isaac nodded and headed off to do as his brother advised. Matthew, the older of the two, walked toward the ringing phone and snatched it off the hook. Then, remembering that the person on the other end of the line would have no idea what a rough night he’d just had, he made the effort to inject some politeness into his tone.

“Hello? Adams residence.” Isaac had told him time and time again that the last part about the residence was old-fashioned, that people didn’t say that anymore, but Matthew couldn’t seem to shake it.

“Hello, Matthew? It’s Richard.” The village vicar’s voice, even though he’d only spoken four words, sounded strained, almost panicked. “You boys just get back?”

“Yeah, a moment ago. Why, what’s up?”

“I, uh… I got a call. A dead sheep has been found up on the moor. Not just dead. Mutilated. Like a wild animal attack.”

An unpleasant feeling wormed its way under Matthew’s skin and his stomach flipped. “Oh?” He paused, then figured he had nothing to gain by not saying the next words he wanted to. “You don’t think it was us?”
The vicar’s gasp was instant, one of genuine surprise. “Lord, no! Absolutely not. I just phoned to let you know and I was wondering if you’d come up there with me and take a look. You and Isaac are probably more qualified than anyone else in the village to tell what did this.”

“Isaac has to work, he just went to get ready. But yes, I’ll come up. I’ll let my brother know where I’m going, then I’ll be straight over. Are you at the rectory?”

“Yes. Okay, I’ll see you soon. Thanks, Matthew. Bye.”

“Goodbye.”

Matthew hung up the phone with another sigh. The horrible feeling that had crept under his skin and taken over his gut seemed as if it was there to stay, and it was never a good sign. The vicar’s news was surprising, yes, but he also had an inkling that it was going to spell trouble, or at the very least inconvenience, for him and his brother.

Pulling in a deep breath in an attempt to calm his jangling nerves, Matthew walked upstairs and toward his brother’s bedroom. The door was closed. He knocked. “You decent?”

“Yeah,” Isaac replied, “close enough.”

Stepping into the room, Matthew looked at his brother. He was half-dressed, ready for his shift at the doctor’s surgery, where he was a general practitioner. “Sorry to interrupt, mate, but that was Richard on the phone. They’ve found a mutilated sheep up on the moor, and he’s asked me to go with him to check it out.”
Isaac paused with one arm pushed into his shirtsleeve. “He doesn’t think—”

Matthew cut him off. “No. He was quite adamant about that. He just thought we’d be able to help figure out what did it. I explained that you’ve got to go to work, though. I’m going to head across there now and go up with him.”

“I could phone in, let them know I’ll be late.”

Matthew held up his hand. “There’s no need, brother. Relax. Just go to work and help the sick people. I’ll let you know what—if anything—I find out.”

Opening his mouth, then closing it again, Isaac seemed to have thought better of whatever he was going to say. He continued to dress. “All right, I will. But make sure you let me know what happens. Send me a text or something, and I’ll phone you as soon as I have a gap in between patients.”

Matthew grimaced. He hated texting. Hated mobile phones, actually. Technology was one of the things he disliked most about modern-day life, though he realized it was a necessary evil. It solved as many problems for him and his brother as it created, so he dealt with it as best he could. Fortunately, Isaac had always had an affinity with computers and phones, so he tutored his older brother.

“Yeah, all right. I’d better go and find my phone first then, eh?”

Smirking at his brother’s rolled eyes, he left the room and headed for his own bedroom, where he thought he’d left the device the previous night, before he and Isaac had headed for the caves. Immediately spotting the mobile phone—which Isaac often made a point of telling him was akin to a brick—he grabbed it and stuffed it into his pocket and made his way downstairs.

Retrieving his keys from the hook by the front door, he called up to his brother. “I’m going now, Isaac. I’ll see you after my shift at the pub. I’m working until closing time.”

“Okay. Don’t forget to keep me posted!”

“I won’t.” As if he could forget. The dead sheep was going to be a big thing, he just knew it. The vicar might not think he and his brother had anything to do with it, but some of the other villagers might. When there was no proof either way, just his and Isaac’s word, it was understandable, really. Since he and his brother changed into wolves every full moon, it was a natural conclusion to draw. Particularly since normal wolves had been extinct in England for over five hundred years.

*****

Author Bio:

Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100 publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women's Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house. She owns Erotica For All, is book editor for Cliterati, and is one eighth of The Brit Babes. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9

Friday, August 22, 2014

#FridayReads: Books I'm Currently Reading Aug. 22, 2014

I'm having one of those "read 1,000 things at the same time" moments again, but what's new? I love books. I'm kind of obsessed with them, really.



My main book is Four: A Divergent Short Story Collection, which I picked up at the public library a few days ago. I loved the Divergent trilogy. Even though I already bought and read one of the e-book versions of "The Transfer," the first story in the collection, I haven't read all four stories yet.


I had intended to take a short hiatus from reading young adult books, but the opportunity to get this from the library weakened my resolve.

By the way, I said in my Divergent review that Tris and Caleb Prior are fraternal twins. Four makes it clear they're "Irish twins." In other words, they were born ten or eleven months apart. I missed that upon first reading.

I had been reading the final book in the All Souls Trilogy series, The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to finish more than a third of it before it had to go back to the library.


It's too wonderful. I don't want to gulp it down. I need to savor. I think I'll have to buy the e-book and read it in my Nook.

The book I'm currently reading in my Nook is Fated (Vampire Destiny #1) by Alexandra Anthony. It's a paranormal romance, and a pretty quick, easy read.


The vampire, Stefan Lifsten, is tall, blond, and Nordic, heavily reminiscent of Eric Northman in Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries series. The heroine, Josephine, is a telepath who reads people's minds. She's very much like Harris's Sookie Stackhouse. It almost reads like True Blood fan fiction - and I'm not complaining. I'm liking it.

The last episode of True Blood is coming up this Sunday. I'm looking forward to it, and I'm dreading it at the same time.

The book I'm reading in my kitchen as I wait for coffee to brew and water to boil is Vampyres of Hollywood by Adrienne Barbeau and Michael Scott.


It's a paranormal murder mystery. Half the chapters are written from the point of view of a vampire/horror film actress who's sort of the sheriff of Hollywood the same way Eric is the sheriff of the Shreveport region. All of the victims (at least the first three) were her vampiric creations, her "children." The other half of the chapters are written from the POV of the mortal human detective who's investigating the crime. He doesn't know that vampires really exist.

I haven't read any of Michael Scott's other books, but he wrote the YA fantasy Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series. And of course we all remember who Nicholas Flamel is...he created the Philosopher's Stone, the very thing that gave young Harry Potter so much trouble. Well, that's the folklore. He was an actual historical person, too.

Barbeau in a Creative Commons image by Leslie Gottlieb. 
Adrienne Barbeau, of course, is an actress as well as an author. Very beautiful lady.

The book I keep in my husband's van in case of reading time is HellFire by Kate Douglas. This is part of my PNR rotation. It's the second book in the DemonSlayers series. It's a silly-but-fun paranormal romance series with a hero from the lost continent of Lemuria. (That's an interesting subject we'll save for when I finish the book. I have a thing for discarded scientific theories.)


Okay, the cover model with the long blond hair looks exactly like Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies. As I'm reading the book, though, I'm imagining the tall, white-blond hero as Lee Pace in the Hobbit movies. I'm imagining Rutina Wesley - True Blood's Tara Thornton - in the role of the heroine, Ginny. (That's Ginny as in Virginia, not like Harry Potter's Ginny. Mrs. Potter's nickname comes from Ginevra, the Italian equivalent of Jennifer or Guinevere.)

I love me some Kate Douglas. She had me hooked from the first time I picked up Wolf Tales.

Now, the serious book I'm reading is my latest Amazon Vine pick. It's called Religio Duplex: How the Enlightenment Reinvented Egyptian Religion by Jan Assmann, translated from German by Robert Savage. (I don't know what Assmann means in the German language, but it's unfortunately giggle-worthy in English. I can't help but think of the Seinfeld episode in which Kramer mistakenly receives the "ASS MAN" vanity license plates.) This scholarly work describes the history of a thought, from a Greek interpretation of the Egyptian religion during antiquity to the re-emergence of this interpretation during the European Enlightenment era of the 1600s and 1700s. Assmann is an Egyptologist, and he's also a scholar of European history, so this is right up his alley. I'll write a detailed review as soon as I finish this dense academic work. I'm about halfway through.

What are you reading?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Summer We Fell ~ Release Day Blitz


Release Day Blitz!


Adam Stewart is every girl’s fantasy – captain of the football team, smart, funny, hot. I’ve had a crush on him for years but he never noticed me. Until now.

Dating Adam is a dream come true. I should be happy about it, but it’s hard because my best friend Cruz is acting strange. Almost like he’s jealous. But that can’t be. Can it?

Cruz and I have been inseparable since we were kids. He’s always been like a brother to me. But lately things have changed. He’s different, and I’m starting to see him in a new light. Our relationship is evolving in a way I never thought possible. I don’t want to lose him, but am I willing to give up Adam for him?

Purchase on Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00MUESU74

~*~About The Author~*~


Amber Garza is the author of the Delaney's Gift Series and many contemporary romance titles, including Star Struck, Tripping Me Up, and Break Free. She has had a passion for the written word since she was a child making books out of notebook paper and staples. Her hobbies include reading and singing. Tea and wine are her drinks of choice (not necessarily in that order). She writes while blaring music, and talks about her characters like they're real people. She currently lives in California with her amazing husband, and two hilarious children who provide her with enough material to keep her writing for years.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Rise to Power, Search for Pride Book Four: 'Fortune' by Destiny Blaine

Rise to Power, Search for Pride Book Four: Fortune by Destiny Blaine
Release Date: August 15th at eXtasy Books
Paranormal MFM and MFM+

For Series Excerpts Visit:
http://www.extasybooks.com/rise-to-power-search-for-pride

FORTUNE

 “The older the money, the more valued the man and his lion’s share”

Book Blurb:

After Ariela’s abduction at Lane Livingston’s Catwalk premiere, Lane returns to the Valley of Fire hoping Ariela will soon be released. Angst-ridden, Livingston turns to a former submissive and Ariela is released in time to catch him in the throes of passion. Distraught over Lane’s behavior, Ariela sets some ground rules.

Lane Livingston loves his mate but he won’t let her run over him. Ariela isn’t one to share even if a dominant man expects it so they’re at a crossroads in their relationship.

Ariela’s mates willingly share her because of Ariela’s demanding lioness breeding bouts and she expects mutual understanding. After forgiving Lane for his indiscretions by deciding he wasn’t committed to her at the time of his affair, Ariela and Lane mate for the first time. As their fiery passion burns wild, Ariela senses her other mates slipping away.

Jagger, Leon, and Sanchez go to the desert in hopes of finding Ariela but when they discover Ariela at Lane’s home, they realize she is in awe of her new mate. Ariela is pregnant with Lane’s child and is inexplicably drawn to him, something Lane knew would happen all along.

Read the Rise to Power, Search for Pride Books in order and visit http://www.extasybooks.com/rise-to-power-search-for-pride to view the beautiful Martine Jardin covers created for this completed series


Rise to Power: Search for Pride

Book One: POWER
“There’s nothing sexier than a successful man, except the carnal beast inside him.”  

Book Two: MONEY  
“Every man, every beast, has a price”

Book Three: FAME
“When money and power aren’t enough”

Book Four: FORTUNE
 “The older the money, the more valued the man and his lion’s share”

Book Five: INFLUENCE 
“The right people can push a man to his limits”

Author Bio:

International bestselling author Destiny Blaine is an award-winning e-book and paperback author. She writes under several pseudonyms in various genres. Writing as Destiny Blaine, her books are published by eXtasy Books, Siren Publishing, Dark Hollows Press, and Champagne Book Group. Her past westerns and erotic romance novellas have been #1 in several genre categories at Amazon.

When Destiny isn't writing, she loves spending time with her granddoll in Connecticut. Destiny and her husband enjoy watching NFL and college football and attending music festivals, book events, and nearby beaches.

Destiny's favorite pastime is reading about intelligent ALPHA males who know how to take the lead in all situations. In October 2014, she will host a writing workshop for new and seasoned writers. For more information visit http://www.destinyblaineworkshops.com

Links:

Website: http://destinyblaine.com/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DestinyBlaine 

Blog: http://www.destinyblaine.blogspot.com/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/destinyblaine

Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Destiny-Blaine/e/B003U70BBS/

Buy Link for Rise to Power, Search for Pride Series Books
http://www.extasybooks.com/rise-to-power-search-for-pride

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Nonfiction Review: 'Cuffed, Tied, and Satisfied' by Jaiya


Cuffed, Tied, and Satisfied: A Kinky Guide to the Best Sex Ever is a nonfiction book written for men and women who want to add some kink to their sex lives. Content Warning: This review mentions issues of consent and sexual abuse that some people may find disturbing.

What is kink? Author Jaiya says it's whatever "outside the box" sex is for you. We all have our own comfort levels.

Jaiya is a "somatic sexologist"/couples counselor whose preparation for this book included spending time as both a dominant and a submissive with her partner, while both of them received training from more experienced practitioners. I can imagine she's probably quite educated about her subject and probably a knowledgeable counselor. The first few pages/first chapter or so are actually a bit clinical and dry. At first I thought, "How can a sex guide be this boring?"

On page 16, Jaiya quotes Esther Perel, "the author of Mating in Captivity," as saying, "I do believe that the emphasis on egalitarian and respectful sex - purged of any expression of power, aggression, and transgression - is antithetical to erotic desire for men and women alike." Taken out of context, statements like this could easily be misinterpreted as saying that there's some kind of "natural" hierarchy in which one sex is dominant and aggressive and the other is passive. I don't think Jaiya means to imply that; I think she's using this quote in the context of how erotic it can be - for some people - to use role-playing of power dynamics. But I don't think this is explained very well in this chapter. I'm pretty sure there are some people for whom egalitarian sex in which there is, consciously, no mismatch of power is the ONLY erotic sex for some people.

Chapter Three is about consent. This is probably the most important chapter in the book, because no truly erotic activity can take place without honest, informed consent. On page 49, Jaiya writes about "The Many Shades of Being Willing" and ends the page with, "There will be some activities that you want to do, some activities you are willing to do, and some activities you are certain you don't want to do." The next page launches into a detailed explanation of "understanding turn-ons" without returning to the topic of how to handle the things you don't want to do.

This is problematic for me. I felt frustrated because I wanted Jaiya to make a strong statement along the lines of, "Always make sure you gain your partner's clearly-communicated and enthusiastic consent before any sexual activity, and make sure your partner does the same for you. Sexual activity without consent is assault."

It's not that Jaiya isn't aware of the issue of sexual trauma. She writes about having a childhood trauma of her own and about sexual situations that are triggering for her, and about how to help a partner who has triggering issues surrounding sexuality. I'm a little confused that she's well aware that there are issues around power imbalances in sexual relationships, yet her writing often seems to be quite wishy-washy around consent. I do not like this. I want strong statements that empower human beings to have control of our own sexual activities and that fight rape culture.

On page 125, Jaiya shares that she gave her partner a list of words and asked him to choose the ones that turned him on. One of the words he chooses is "rape." She never addresses this or mentions it again. I understand the adults are perfectly entitled to role-play and act out whatever fantasies they care to have with their consenting adult partners, and I don't have a problem with that. I don't consider myself overly "vanilla" and I'm not usually uncomfortable around discussions of sexuality (erotica writer here), but I am uncomfortable with this book skirting around issues of nonconsent without strongly addressing them.

We're not at that point in our culture yet when we can just assume that everyone reading the book will know the rules of consent in a healthy way. I'd rather we talked about it too much than not enough.

Furthermore, I don't love the authorial voice she chose to write this book in, which puts the reader in the place of the submissive and the author in the place of the dominant partner. In some places, the writing is just a little silly, and I also object to this authorial tone on the grounds that I have very, very little desire to be sexually submissive. I prefer to be the dominant one, and the idea of another woman trying to be my alpha turns me off. Jaiya, you don't know me like that. Don't assume that's the kind of relationship I want to have with you.

That said, I felt from Chapter Six onward, Jaiya gave a lot of practical tips that are well-written and fun. If you read BDSM literature (as I sometimes do, although it's not my preferred genre) and want to know more about how you can incorporate it into your own life, this book will help. It has some ideas that are genuinely creative and sexy. You just have to pick out the ideas you like and disregard anything you don't like.

More Information From the Publisher:

About the Book

BANISH BORING SEX AND UNLEASH ORGASMIC ECSTASY WITH POWER, RESTRAINT, AND SENSATION PLAY!

Are you ready to expand your sexual boundaries?  If you’ve ever fantasized about being taken by your man, dreamed of playing with handcuffs, ropes, and paddles, or been turned on by the thought of wickedly wielding power over your lover, you’ve found the right book!

Award-winning Sexologist and author Jaiya will be your Mistress in this fun-to-read handbook that will transform your sex life.  CUFFED, TIED, AND SATISFIED leads the kink novice and pro alike on a shame-free personal journey to sexual empowerment, including your full plan for safely playing on the edge, setting boundaries, and communicating with your partner about your deepest, darkest, untapped desires.

Jaiya will teach you how to make your sexual fantasies a safe reality through:

•     SENSORY PLAY - Blindfolded and tied to the bed; you’re helpless as every inch of your skin is awakened with your lover’s hot breath and a delicious feather…

•     POWER ROLES - You’ve drawn up your own sexy contract detailing every moment of how you want your lover to take you to full surrender; he looks into your eyes and pulls you to your knees…

•     IMPACT AND TOYS - Just the sound of your wicked crop sends your lover into ecstasy; the anticipation has you both on the brink of extraordinary pleasure…

•     ROLE PLAYING - Standing naked in front of your lover, they admire your black thigh-high heels. You’ve empowered your inner Dominatrix, and you’re ready to take control…

CUFFED, TIED, AND SATISFIED is all you need to bring kink out of the dungeon and into your bedroom.

About the Author

Jaiya is an internationally recognized sexologist, speaker, and author of Red Hot Touch and Blow Each Other Away.  She helps men, women, and couples to learn more about sexuality so that they can experience deeper connection and unlimited sexual ecstasy! www.mistressjaiya.com

Praise

"Jaiya's friendly and accessible introduction to kink is perfect for those seeking to spice up their sex life." --Publisher's Weekly

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, August 4, 2014

ManDay Hotties Hop #7: East Asian Edition of #ManCandyMonday

Manday Hotties Hop - Every Monday!

I read Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self, a memoir/series of linked essays by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Alex Tizon about being a Filipino man in the U.S. (Goodreads link here.) One of the statements Tizon makes in his book is that U.S. men and women alike consistently rate men of Asian and Pacific Islander descent as less physically attractive than white, black, and Latino men. 

I didn't even realize I was doing any kind of stereotyping of Asian men. But then I looked at my Human Beauty boards on Pinterest, and I realized I saw very few Asian male faces. Taiwanese actor Vic Zhou, Canada skater Patrick Chan, South Korean actor Lee Byung Hun, and a guy from a Chinese underwear ad are pretty much it, unless we count some Indian actors. 

But that can't be right, can it? I mean, the world is full of beautiful males of East Asian descent. So let's broaden my beauty horizons and appreciate some of them today. 



Daniel Dae Kim, the American actor born in South Korea, star of Lost and Hawaii Five-0. Hot to begin with, but also totally bilingual. Fact: everyone gets hotter when they can speak more than one language. The icing on the cake is he's certified sexy: one of People magazine's Most Beautiful People. 



Nor was Kim the only Asian beauty on Lost. Let us not neglect Ken Leung, who also does us the fan service of showing up as a repeat guest star on Person of Interest as Leon Tao. Leung is a native New Yorker of Chinese descent.



Chow Yun-Fat, the amazing actor from Hong Kong. A little older than me, sure, but still so smokin' hot. 



Ken Watanabe, the Japanese actor. So maybe I fell asleep during Inception and never saw the end. At least we'll always have Batman Begins



Victor Kim, American musician of Korean descent, and complete hottie. 



Born in Seoul and then transplanted to the U.S. from Canada, The Walking Dead's Steven Yeun is a babe. I left off with the show somewhere in Season 2, but I'm taken to understand that so far, his character Glenn Rhee is still among the survivors as of the most recent season. I hope he has a love interest, because the TV trope that "the Asian guy never gets the girl" must die.



Speaking of Korean imports, Seoul-born, L.A.-raised Star Trek babe John Cho could not possibly be absent from this list. His glorious black hair should be on the list all by itself, styled as it is in a manner befitting a teenage vampire.

And if you've ever seen pictures of Cho with his son, then you know he is a DILF.



And then there's Tony Leung, who is also from Hong Kong. This guy just exudes sexy. 



Reggie Lee: the Filipino actor plays Sgt. Wu on Grimm. He also plays a small role in The Dark Knight Rises, a terribly-written movie with more than its fair share of hot people. I would not be sad if he were cast to play George Wu in Allegiant Pt. 1. With Maggie Q playing Tori, the Wus are a very sexy family.



No list of lovely Filipinos would be complete without Arnel Pineda, the lead singer of Journey. Sure, his amazing voice is easy on the ears, but he's also easy on the eyes. And when he first started singing, he didn't even understand English! I actually prefer his look with short hair, but this is a great pic.



Alex Tizon, you're not so bad yourself! In his book, Tizon admits to having been self-conscious about his full lips and relatively broad nose, but to many, many women who are attracted to men, these features are a plus. If they weren't, I wouldn't have butterflies in my tummy every time I looked at a picture of Idris Elba. 

But seriously, you should read Big Little Man because it's warm-hearted, insightful, and enlightening. I received a free copy in exchange for a review through the Amazon Vine program. I'm glad I picked it, because as a Caucasian woman, I was completely ignorant of some of the struggles faced by Asian Americans, and Asian American men in particular, in Western-dominated cultures. Now I have a little bit more understanding. 

I should probably mention I have a first cousin who's half Filipino, although I've never met him. My uncle once tried to marry the daughter of the Philippines ambassador to the United States. Her parents nixed the union, but not before the baby was on his way. Although I am a white Jewish girl, my whole family tree is white, black, Mexican (La Raza: indigenous American and Spanish multiracial), and Filipino. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Who Is Lugh, and What's Logi Got to Do With It?

I created a slight neoPagan controversy when I posted a link to "The Loki in Lughnasa," a post I wrote in 2012, on Tumblr. That post relied heavily on Barbara J. Walker's The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, a source I have learned is highly questionable. Since August 1st, I learned that:

- The Celtic god Lugh (sometimes spelled without the "h") is not a fire god.

- The association between the Norse god Loki and the Norse fire giant Logi is an error.

- No solid evidence links Loki in Norse mythology to Lugh in Celtic mythology.

So, who is Lugh? What is he the Celtic god of? Who is Logi? And who confused Logi with Loki? We'll look at each of these questions in turn.

Lugh

In my very first Lughnasadh post, written in 2010 when I was still fairly new to blogging, I wrote:

"The Irish consider it the feast of the god Lugh, who consecrated it in honor of his foster-mother's death. Lugh's foster-mother Tailtiu, "The Great One of the Earth," represents the land of Ireland itself. Thus, her death is symbolic of the harvest: the crops sacrifice themselves so human beings and animals can live. Tailtiu's death was celebrated with feasting, Olympic-style games, bonfires and handfasting ceremonies. Where corn is harvested, the goddess is often visually represented by making corn dolls."

Contemporary corn doll depicting Lugh. Creative Commons image by MountainAsh333
Unfortunately, I didn't happen to note the source of that information. I did better in 2013's Mabon post, when I referred to Lugh's article at Encyclopedia Mythica. It says:

"Lugh is the Celtic lord of every skill. He was patron of Lugodunum (Lyons) in Gaul. He and his nature goddess consort (Rosmerta) were worshipped during the 30 day Lugnasad midsummer feast in Ireland. Fertility magic during this festival ensured ripening of the crops and good harvest. He was called Lamfhada or 'of the long arm' in Gaelic because of his great spear and sling. His animal attributes were the raven and the lynx. Lugh mirrors Hindu Karttikeya, the spiritual warrior, and Roman Mercury, the swift messenger. His exploits are recounted in the Tain Bo Cuailnge, the Cattle-raid of Cooley." - Dave Buchert

So Lugh is a skilled warrior, a swift messenger, and a fertility god. Well, that's minimally informative. Wikipedia is user-generated, and therefore not the most reliable source, but it tells us that:

- Lugh's Welsh counterpart is Lleu Llaw Gyffes. As you may recall from this post, Lleu Llaw Gyffes was the son of the goddess Arianrhod. She cursed him never to marry an earthly woman, so instead he married the unearthly Bloddeuwedd, made from nine different flowers.

- His father, Cian, is of the Tuatha Dé Danann, or "tribe of the goddess Danu." His mother, Ethniu, belongs to the Fomorians, the mythical people who were said to have inhabited Ireland before the Celtic people got there.

- Lugh was given to a foster mother, Queen Tailtiu, to raise, possibly because of a prophecy that his maternal grandfather would be killed by his grandson. Lugh's grandfather Balor was said to have a poisonous eye that killed everyone he looked on it with.

Cú Chulainn by J.C. Leyendecker. Public domain. 
- The king of the Tuatha Dé Danann appointed Lugh to his court because he had so many different skills. The Tuatha Dé Danann are being oppressed by the Fomorians, and Lugh agrees to help the Tuatha Dé Danann regain their freedom.

- In a battle against the Fomorians, Lugh uses a slingshot to shoot out his grandfather Balor's evil eye, causing the Fomorians to lose the battle.

- During the battle, Lugh spares the life of Bres, a former king who agrees to teach the Tuatha Dé Danann the secrets of agriculture. However, Lugh ultimately killed Bres by causing him to drink the poisonous "milk" of 300 wooden cows Lugh had made.

- Later in his life, Lugh instituted the Olympic-style games in memory of his foster mother. August 1 was the conclusion of the games.

- Lugh had several wives, including the daughter of a British king. One of his wives had an affair with Cermait, son of the Irish father-god The Dagda. Lugh killed Cermait, but then Cermait's three sons killed Lugh.

- In some versions, Lugh is the father of the Irish hero Cú Chulainn. When Cú Chulainn is severely wounded in battle, Lugh arrives and heals his wounds.

Mythography says the confusion of Lugh with a deity of the sun may have to do with his nickname, "Shining One." However, the nickname was probably in reference to all his various skills. It also says Lugh ascended to become the leader of Tuatha Dé Danann when the god Nuada was killed in battle.

So that's Lugh - a mythological figure who may have been based on a historical king, but was said to have belonged to the divine tribe of the goddess Danu.

Public domain image by John McColgan.
Logi

Wikipedia says that Logi means "fire" in Old Norse and that the mythological Logi was a fire giant. It says the Prose Edda by Snorri Sturlson describes the eating contest between Logi and Loki. They competed to see who could most quickly eat meat from the bones, and Logi won by consuming meat, bones, and trencher all alike. Not only was Logi a fire giant, he was also the personification of fire itself.

Logi has two brothers, one who rules over the winds and another who rules over the sea. In astronomy, Loge (an alternate spelling) is one of the moons of Saturn.

NorthernPaganism.org adds that Logi was called High-Logi because he was so tall. His wife was named Glow, and they had two daughters named Ashes and Embers. After the death of his wife and daughters, Logi lived alone in a black-rock cave in Muspellheim (the land of fire).

So it seems unlikely Logi has anything at all to do with Lugh. Lugh has an association with blacksmiths, who do use fire, but that has more to do with Lugh's many skills than it does to any elemental connection Lugh might have.

Loki and Sigyn in a painting by Mårten Eskil Winge. Public domain.
The Confusion of Logi With Loki

According to NorseMyth.org,Wagner named a character in the Ring opera cycle Loge and gave him the characteristics of the mythological Loki. Wagner's Loge is a fire sprite.

Wikipedia's Loki article says Jacob Grimm referred to Loki as a "fire god" in 1835. It also says:

"Famously, Loki appears in Richard Wagner's opera cycle Ring of the Nibelung as Loge (a play on Old Norse loge, 'fire'). He is depicted as an ally of the gods (specifically Wotan's assistant rather than Donner's), although he generally dislikes them and thinks of them as greedy, as they refuse to return the Rhine Gold to its rightful owners. In the conclusion of the first opera Das Rheingold he reveals his hope to turn into fire and destroy Valhalla, and in the final opera Götterdämmerung, Valhalla is set alight, destroying the Gods."

Wagner completed Das Rheingold in 1856, post-Grimm. Collin Cleary's essay "Wagner's Place in the Germanic Tradition" clearly points the finger at Grimm as the source of the confusion between Logi and Loki:

"The Grimms often made imaginative links between names and other elements in the sources they utilized, and this seems to have emboldened Wagner to do the same – achieving a kind of fusion of German and Scandinavian elements. Indeed, some of the inferences or connections Wagner has been criticized for actually have their origin with the Grimms. For example, Wagner also includes a character named 'Loge,' who is the equivalent of the Scandinavian Loki. In fact, there is scant evidence that there was a Loki figure in the German mythological world. However, Jacob Grimm postulated 'Locho' or 'Loho' as possible German equivalents. Wagner didn’t particularly like either, and settled on 'Loge.'

"Purists have long railed against Wagner, however, for making his Loge/Loki a god of fire. Again, however, this has its origin in Grimm. In Scandinavian myth there was a fire giant named Logi, and Grimm thought that there might be a connection to Loki. (More recent scholarship doesn’t support this.) We find the origin of Wagner’s Loge in these words of Jacob Grimm: 'Now a striking narrative . . . places Logi by the side of Loki: a being from the giant province beside a kinsman and companion of the gods. This is no mere play upon words, the two really signify the same thing from different points of view, Logi the natural force of fire, and Loki with a shifting of the sound, a shifting of the sense: of the burly giant has been made a sly, seducing villain.'"

The Brother Grimm. Public domain. 
There we have it: Lugh is not Logi, Logi is not Loki, and Loki is definitely not Lugh.

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