Tuesday, September 30, 2014

LIVE EVENT! ‘Feminism and Porn: Can They Coexist?’

[Press Releases] CYBERSPACE – MindBrowse.com announced today that adult entertainment director/performer Dana Vespoli will be among the women addressing the question “Feminism and Porn: Can They Coexist?” during a live online discussion coming up on Tuesday, September 30 at 3 p.m. EST.


“Dana is an amazing talent and a great, living example of how much the role of women has changed in the adult entertainment industry over the years,” said Sssh.com owner and founder Angie Rowntree. “Her movies explore gender and power relationships in an intriguing way, and she can really speak to how some feminist ideas really aren’t inconsistent with erotic expression.”

Vespoli began performing in porn in July of 2003, but after a year of performing she took a year-long hiatus to focus on writing articles for the French adult magazine Hot Video. Vespoli returned to performing in 2005, and took her first turn in the director’s chair in 2006, shooting for New Sensations/Digital Sin. Last year, Vespoli became one of a handful of female directors ever to film for Evil Angel.

Vespoli cites Radley Metzger, Catherine Breillat, and the writing of Mary Gaitskill, and Joyce Carol Oates as major influences on her work, and the movies of John Leslie, Joey Silvera, and John Stagliano as adult-industry inspirations.


 Produced by Sssh.com, “Feminism and Porn: Can They Coexist?” will be the third live show hosted by MindBrowse.com. The first two events, “Women in Porn – Shattering the Myths” and “An Intimate Conversation with Nina Hartley and Ernest Greene” are archived on the site as well as on YouTube.

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 for panelists to address.

For more information please visit www.MindBrowse.com.

Follow Dana Vespoli on Twitter @danavespoli.

Mindbrowse is a production of Sssh.com, the web's premier porn for women site.

Dylan Ryan

Feminist performer, sexuality educator, and social worker Dylan Ryan will be among the women addressing the question “Feminism and Porn: Can They Coexist?” during a live online discussion coming up on Tuesday, September 30 at 3 p.m. EST.

“Dylan comes to the show with a deep and passionate understanding of feminism and how that plays a role in today's porn,” said Sssh.com owner and founder Angie Rowntree. “Her range of experiences allows her to bring a unique perspective that will greatly benefit the conversation.”

Dylan has made a career performing, teaching people about sex, and writing works for a variety of print publishers and online media such Bitch magazine, Huffington Post, and CNN. She has also contributed to academic and mainstream titles such as The Feminist Porn Book and Johns, Marks, Tricks and Chickenhawks: Sex Workers Writing about Their Lives and Experiences.


In her daily professional life, Dylan is a somatic sex therapist and coach, committed to aiding people in their journey toward more fulfilling sexual lives. A dedicated supporter of the sex work community, Dylan volunteers at harm reduction-focused organizations and aims to use her academic background to foment change in how sex workers are seen and received.

"I did not fully identify as a feminist until the spring of 2009. As I sat in my seat at the Feminist Porn Awards in Toronto, I felt ecstatic. I was surrounded by friends and loved ones, people in the industry whom I had worked with, people I respected deeply. What we all had in common was our desire to make pornography that broke boundaries of tradition and showed authentic, empowered sex. And then my name was called from the stage. It was at some point in those next few moments, on stage in front of hundreds that I came to see myself as so many others had already: I performed in feminist porn, I was a feminist porn performer. I was a feminist. In all those years of crafting my work to represent empowerment, awareness, positive female sexuality, women's choice, I was representing feminist ideals about sex. It was also the moment I realized I am a feminist porn performer," states Ryan.

Dylan Ryan can be found behind the screen of her laptop, typing the phrase, “Saving the world, one porn at a time." You can follow her at @thedylanryan.

Stormy Daniels

Multi-award winning writer, director, performer, and entrepreneur Stormy Daniels will be joining Dana Vespoli and Dylan Ryan to address the question “Feminism and Porn: Can They Coexist?” during a live online discussion coming up on Tuesday, September 30 at 3 p.m. EST.

“Stormy’s vast range of experience and success in the adult industry has truly made her iconic,” said Sssh.com owner and founder Angie Rowntree. “She’s been a strong, successful, and positive representative of the adult industry for over a decade. Her participation in the ‘Feminism and Porn’ discussion will provide significant valuable insight.”

Stormy Daniels has redefined the term “superstar.” Crowned the “#1 Porn Star In The World” in the Genesis Top 100 and “The New Queen Of X” by the Girls Of Penthouse magazine, Daniels is a Wicked Pictures contract performer and director, Penthouse Pet, and 20XX winner of AVN’s Jenna Jameson Crossover Star Of The Year award. Her talent and influence have been acknowledged with nominations and wins from just about every relevant award-granting organization.

Daniels’ reach, however, is not limited to porn. She has performed live comedy with SNL veteran Tim Meadows, appeared in the video for Maroon 5’s “Wake Up Call,” and played a recurring role on Dirt with Courteney Cox. She has also had roles in several Judd Apatow projects, including the $100 million-grossing blockbuster The 40-Year-Old Virgin and its semi-sequel Knocked Up.

Daniels has also lobbied in Washington D.C. on behalf of the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) and has been featured as a guest blogger for the Independent Film Channel (www.ifc.com).

Daniels continues to look to the future and grow in a business she loves. She recently released her own T-shirt line and started a novelty company MyIntima.com, which features the first and only hands-free lube dispenser. Reach out to her today at www.stormydaniels.com and twitter.com/stormydaniels.

Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals

Sociologist Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals will again serve as moderator for the discussion portal’s next panel discussion, “Feminism & Porn: Can they Coexist?,” coming up on Tuesday, September 30 at 3 p.m. Eastern.

“Chauntelle did an amazing job as the moderator of our first two events, and we’re delighted to have her on board again to help facilitate a spirited and productive discussion,” said Angie Rowntree, owner and founder of Sssh.com, who produces all MindBrowse.com events. “Chauntelle is well-versed in feminist theory, and in the issues that surround adult entertainment, so she’s the ideal person to moderate this event.”

Dr. Tibbals will oversee a panel that includes award-winning adult directors/performers Stormy Daniels and Dana Vespoli, as well as noted writer, sex educator, social worker, and feminist porn performer Dylan Ryan.

“With ‘Feminism & Porn: Can they Coexist?,’ we’ve gathered some of the most influential filmmakers and performers in adult entertainment to address just this – how does feminism factor into their work specifically and into the industry overall?,” Tibbals said. “Interestingly, though not everyone necessarily identifies as a feminist, we can see key feminist principles operating in the most nichey, the most hardcore, and the most mainstream corners of adult. Thus, just like Beyoncé publicly declared feminism as an integral component of her brand at this year’s VMAs, we’re left to wonder: do feminism and porn go hand in hand?”

Dr. Tibbals’ research has been published in numerous scholarly journals including Sexualities, Gender Work & Organization, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, and Stanford Law and Policy Review. She has been quoted and cited extensively by cultural and news media outlets including CNN, Business Insider, Slate, and NPR.

“In so many ways, the idea of feminism – or feminisms, as there’s more than just one – continues to be a very incendiary topic,” notes Dr. Tibbals. “What place does it even have in society anymore, especially regarding porn? As a sociologist whose work and worldview are shaped by myriad feminist insights, let me tell you: we still need feminism, and feminism is an important, multi-faceted perspective shaping today’s adult entertainment industry.”

For more information on Dr. Tibbals, visit www.ChauntelleTibbals.com and follow her on Twitter @drchauntelle.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ellie Goulding's "Lights" Interpreted According to MK Ultra Theory

Content Warning (CW) for discussion of child abuse.

The Bourne Identity

YouTube recommended this video to me the other day.


This video is a bit silly. Mario is essentially just reading an article he found on the (unaffiliated with him) website The Vigilant Citizen. The article is from June 2012, and it includes photos of Twilight stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart - separately - in photo shoots from glossy fashion magazines. The article makes reference to MK Ultra, a favorite among conspiracy theorists a.k.a. alternative media sources. (No judgment - remember, I like to examine so-called conspiracy theories through the lens of modern folklore and urban legends.)

Here's how the theory basically goes, according to my understanding:

 - During/after the Korean War, the U.S. government saw the American prisoners of war were being manipulated by their North Korean captors to say anti-American things. (This part seems to be factual.)

 - As a defense strategy, the U.S. began researching ways in which the human mind can be controlled. The "MK" part stands for "Mind Kontrol." Part of the U.S. government experiments under this program involved giving doses of hallucinogenic drugs, including LSD, to people without their knowledge or consent. (This part is factual and documented.)

 - Although the program was alleged to have ended in the 1970s, it continues today. Actors, musicians, and other popular culture figures undergo mind control experimentation that makes them into Jason Bourne-type "puppets" who can be triggered by their handlers into performing whichever action their handlers want them to take. The process involves taking these people into a secret place where they are abused and tortured until their minds split like people with dissociative disorder. They come out with alternate personalities that don't know what the other personalities are doing. Common triggers include Disney movies, Alice in Wonderland symbolism, and Wizard of Oz symbolism (This part is speculative.)


Mario is an interesting vlogger. I don't see eye to eye with him on many, many issues. He's anti-feminist, for example, and he doesn't believe in the theory of evolution. I'll never quite understand why a certain segment of the Christian population has to reject the scientific method, but hey, that's just me (and people who believe in a rational universe). But I think he's basically coming from a well-intentioned place, even if his "facts" are intellectually questionable. I say this so you know my intention is not to mock or disrespect him. On a person-to-person level, I kinda like the guy. Like me, he was raised as a Roman Catholic. He's a French Canadian who learned English as a second language.

Ellie Goulding's "Lights"

At this point, I have been exposed to enough YouTube and blog material by The Vigilant Citizen, Mario the Vigilant Christian, and others to be able to "talk the talk" of MK Ultra, as you'll see below. If I were going to pick out a song to use as an example of mind control talk in popular media, that song would be "Lights" by Ellie Goulding.


I know you can interpret the lyrics of just about any song to mean whatever you want them to mean. In college I once wrote a paper about how the lyrics of Hole's song "Violet" could be interpreted as a warning about the dangers of alcohol abuse and another paper on how the Beatles song "I Am the Walrus" was John Lennon's plea for American authors, but especially Edgar Allan Poe, to be taken as seriously by the literary world as classical British authors. I knew those things weren't intended by the songwriters, but at the time I thought it was humorous to tortuously over-interpret things for allegedly comical effect.
So, please take this with a large grain of salt and, perhaps, a rocks margarita.

I hear "Lights" quite often on the station Tit Elingtin and I listen to on our day job as remodeling contractors. We listen to an "easy listening" station, while essentially means Top 40 radio without the rap songs. I liked the way the song sounded before I even listened to all the lyrics. I started to like Ellie Goulding even more when I heard her song "High For This (The Weekend Cover)." Then, of course, she contributed the song "Beating Heart" to the Divergent film soundtrack. It was one of my favorite songs for a while.


BUT I can't stand her song "Burn." I just find the very high-pitched section of this song incredibly annoying. Sorry. Even the best musical artists have an occasional fail. Now back to "Lights."

According to SongMeanings.com, which lets anyone add their comments on what they think the song means, the simplest explanation of this song is that it's about Goulding's childhood fear of the dark. She was afraid of the dark, so she had to sleep with a light on in order to feel safe.

Other theories think the song refers to:

- A battle with depression or another mental illness, such as schizophrenia 
- Childhood sexual abuse
- An encounter with an extraterrestrial spacecraft and/or Goulding herself being from another planet.

Lyrics

Let's look at the lyrics of "Lights."

I had a way then losing it all on my own
I had a heart then but the queen has been overthrown
And I'm not sleeping now, the dark is too hard to beat
And I'm not keeping now the strength I need to push me
You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
You shine it when I'm alone
And so I tell myself that I'll be strong
And dreaming when they're gone
'Cause they're calling, calling, calling me home
Calling, calling, calling home
You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
You shine it when I'm alone home
Voices I play within my head
Touch my own skin and hope that I'm still breathing.
And I think back to when my brother of my sister slept
In an unknown place the only time I feel safe
You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
You shine it when I'm alone
And so I tell myself that I'll be strong
And dreaming when they're gone
'Cause they're calling, calling, calling me home
Calling, calling, calling home
You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
You shine it when I'm alone home
Light, lights, lights, lights
Light, lights, lights, lights
(Home, home)
Light, lights, lights, lights
Light, lights
You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
You shine it when I'm alone
And so I tell myself that I'll be strong
And dreaming when they're gone
'Cause they're calling, calling, calling me home
Calling, calling, calling home
You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
You shine it when I'm alone home
Home, home
Light, lights, lights, lights
Light, lights, lights, lights...

Writers: Ash Frances Howes, Lorin Ashton, Ellie Goulding, Richard Stannard Copyright: Sony/ATV Music Publishing (Uk) Limited, Major 3rd Music Limited, Amorphous Music, Global Talent Publishing

Interpretation The first line could refer to a childhood fear of the dark: "I had a way then (when I was a child) of losing it (losing my fear of the dark) all on my own (I simply turned on my night light)."
Creative Commons image by Marple Bridge Photography 
The second line, though, seems a little strange in that context. The queen has been overthrown? That fits more with the mental illness theory - the "queen," or rational part of her mind, has been "overthrown" or overwhelmed by the illness. It also makes sense according to the childhood sexual abuse theory: she had a heart then (as a child, before she was abused) but then she learned to shut off her feelings after "the queen was overthrown," which could refer to an adult authority figure, such as her mother, being unable to keep her safe from the abuse. Of course, both mental illness and sexual abuse could be considered part of MK Ultra-type conditioning - a child who is being groomed to be a pop star is abused until her mind splits, and that way she'll be easily controllable.

The chorus starts off with, "You show the lights that stop me turn to stone/You shine it when I'm alone/And so I tell myself that I'll be strong/And dreaming when they're gone." Now this seems to be saying the opposite of what we might expect. The lights were supposed to protect her from fear of the dark, right? So why is saying that the lights "stop me?" This speaks to the alien theory, I suppose: the lights that stop her are the sudden lights from a spacecraft that appear. She is either stopped simply by curiosity, or paralyzed with fear of them, or the extraterrestrial beings have stopped her somehow. 

Some theorists, depending on their point of view, would go so far as to claim that aliens are synonymous with demons. They say that when people think they are abducted by aliens, they are really being tormented by fallen angels. If we are going with the MK Ultra theory, then we'd probably say that the handlers who perform the abusive experiments disguise themselves as aliens--or that they're somehow in league with actual aliens, who may or may not be fallen angels.

Creative Commons image by Mingle Media TV
The "I tell myself that I'll be strong" could refer to being strong in the dark when there are no lights - a simple enough explanation, although it doesn't seem to match up with "lights that stop me, turn to stone" line. What does turning to stone mean, anyway? Shutting off one's emotions so that one is as imperturbable as stone, perhaps, which fits with the abuse theory.

"Dreaming when they're gone" seems to fit this theory as well; the child cannot sleep until her abusers are gone. What would "they're" refer to in the context of fear of the dark? Nightmares, perhaps. Maybe she simply means that sleeping in the dark makes her prone to nightmares.

The "calling me home" of the chorus is why some people interpret this song to mean that Goulding herself has come from the star people. The lights call her home? Why, that's her fellow extraterrestrials coming back to claim her. Alternatively, we might say that the lights calling her home are some kind of signal or trigger that her handlers use when it's time for her to "come home" to be reprogrammed. The "reprogramming" process is painful and frightening, and that's why the singer seems to be so scared and depressed.

In the second verse, "Touch my own skin and hope that I'm still breathing" sounds a bit ominous, but fear - including simple childhood fear of the dark - could do that to a person. But then she sings something rather strange: "And I think back to when my brother of my sister slept/In an unknown place(,) the only time I feel safe." The only time she feels safe is when her brother and sister slept in an unknown place - now that seems odd. If a child were simply scared of the dark, wouldn't we expect her to say that she only felt safe when her brother and sister slept in her room with her, or when they were in the house with her - sort of a "safety in numbers" feeling? What is the "unknown place?" Is she saying that she wants her brother and sister to sleep away from where she is, because wherever she is is unsafe, and she wants to keep them safe? That line really makes it seem as if something other than mere darkness frightened her when she was a child.

In short, although this song is supposed to be about using light to ward off fear of the dark, the lyrics actually seem to be suggesting exactly the opposite - that the lights are failing to ward off the fearful thing that the dark brings, whatever that thing may be. But only the songwriters know for sure what they were thinking.

This is an affiliate link:

Freedom by Lynne Gordon-Mündel. $6.99 from Smashwords.com WHAT IF EVERYTHING YOU BELIEVE IS WRONG? What if we have been raised within illusion, within a complex mythology so pervasive, so familiar, so deceptively safe, that it is invisible to most people? The purpose of this book will be to expose some of our myths, thus challenging the ideology that keeps us imprisoned.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Out Now – Timeless Desire by Lucy Felthouse @cw1985 #erotica #romance #paranormal #ghost



Blurb:

Emily arrives at Westbury Hall with a job to do. She’s to clean and conserve all of the books in their impressive library, preserving them for future generations. Not long into her stay at the house, she bumps into the night guard, George. She’d expected an old, balding guy with a comb over, so the hunky chap she actually meets is a very pleasant surprise. The introductions complete, George leaves Emily in peace to get on with her job. But when a falling photograph sets off a chain reaction of ghostly events, Emily and George are thrown together in order to find out who—or what—is causing them. Their investigation uncovers a tragic past, a lost love, and a stunning secret.

PLEASE NOTE: This is a revised and extended of a previously published title, Love Through Time.



*****

Excerpt:

Emily received some strange looks and frowns from the people she passed as she walked across the graveled drive towards the front entrance of Westbury Hall. She could appreciate their confusion. It was closing time for the stately home and the last of the visitors were being politely ushered out of the building, yet she was heading inside. What’s more, she’d been invited. She had a job to do.

An elderly lady stood in the porch smiling and nodding as she held the door open for those departing the property. Most of them seemed in no hurry to leave, stopping to make comments to the woman, thanking her for a lovely visit and so on. Emily waited patiently, allowing the patrons to leave before attempting to get in. When the staff member—most likely a volunteer, Emily thought—caught sight of her, she gave her a polite nod of acknowledgment.

Finally, the last of Westbury Hall’s visitors moved out, leaving Emily free to enter. Climbing the single stone step to the threshold of the front porch, she took the hand that had already been offered to her.

Shaking Emily’s hand with a surprising firmness, the woman said, “You must be Miss Stone.” Her smart appearance and the intelligence in her eyes indicated that despite her advancing age, she was far from past it, “I’m Mrs. Thompson, house supervisor.”

“I am,” replied Emily, dropping her hand back to her side, “but please, call me Emily. It’s lovely to meet you. So, house supervisor? Do you live on site?” Not a volunteer, then, but a paid member of staff.

Indicating Emily should step inside the entrance hall, Mrs. Thompson proceeded to close and lock the porch and front doors of the house, securing them in.

“I do,” the older woman said, turning back to face Emily, “I have rooms in a separate building just off the back of this one. So you needn’t worry about me disturbing you.”

“Oh no,” said Emily, worried she’d inadvertently rubbed Mrs.  Thompson up the wrong way, “I didn’t mean that. I was just curious, that’s all. You’re more than welcome to see me at work, Mrs. Thompson, although I’m afraid you won’t see anything terribly exciting.”

Mrs. Thompson smiled now, the warmth reaching her eyes. Emily almost sagged with relief. She’d yet to see the extent of the work she had to do, but she’d been told it was no easy task, so she could be here for some time. The last thing she needed was to upset any of the staff.

“Oh, you’d be surprised, my dear. This is a fascinating old place. Of course, all these old houses have history, but Westbury Hall’s is particularly rich.”

Emily smiled. The woman’s enthusiasm was infectious. “Well then,” she replied, “I can’t wait to learn more about it. I hope you’ll feed me some historical tidbits throughout the time I’m here?”

Mrs. Thompson gave an enigmatic smile. Then, startling Emily somewhat, she turned smartly on her heel and walked deeper into the house. “Come, my dear, I won’t hold you up any longer. I’ll show you to the library, where you’ll soon start uncovering Westbury’s illustrious history for yourself.”

*****

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 ForAll, 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

Monday, September 22, 2014

Nonfiction Review: 'My Life in Middlemarch' by Rebecca Mead


My Life in MiddlemarchMy Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Author Bio: REBECCA MEAD is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding.  She lives in Brooklyn.


Random House's Book Blurb: A New Yorker writer revisits the seminal book of her youth--Middlemarch--and fashions a singular, involving story of how a passionate attachment to a great work of literature can shape our lives and help us to read our own histories.

Rebecca Mead was a young woman in an English coastal town when she first read George Eliot's Middlemarch, regarded by many as the greatest English novel. After gaining admission to Oxford, and moving to the United States to become a journalist, through several love affairs, then marriage and family, Mead read and reread Middlemarch. The novel, which Virginia Woolf famously described as "one of the few English novels written for grown-up people," offered Mead something that modern life and literature did not.

In this wise and revealing work of biography, reporting, and memoir, Rebecca Mead leads us into the life that the book made for her, as well as the many lives the novel has led since it was written. Employing a structure that deftly mirrors that of the novel, My Life in Middlemarch takes the themes of Eliot's masterpiece--the complexity of love, the meaning of marriage, the foundations of morality, and the drama of aspiration and failure--and brings them into our world. Offering both a fascinating reading of Eliot's biography and an exploration of the way aspects of Mead's life uncannily echo that of Eliot herself, My Life in Middlemarch is for every ardent lover of literature who cares about why we read books, and how they read us.

My Review: Delightful - I enjoyed reading this more than I actually enjoyed reading Middlemarch. (Read my review of Middlemarch here.)

Mead has skillfully combined a memoir of her own life experience through the lens of George Eliot's novel, instructive incidents in Eliot's life as they relate to the novel, and opinions from the leading scholars of Eliot's work. It doesn't hurt that Mead is herself a talented writer. Taken together, these various elements add an extra dimension to my recent reading of the classic, increasing my appreciation for the lengthy work of fiction.

Here are some quotes from this book that I found particularly interesting and insightful:

“Reading is sometimes thought of as a form of escapism, and it’s a common turn of phrase to speak of getting lost in a book. But a book can also be where one finds oneself; and when a reader is grasped and held by a book, reading does not feel like an escape from life so much as it feels like an urgent, crucial dimension of life itself.”

“What's your favorite book?' is a question that is usually only asked by children and banking identity-verification services--and favorite isn't, anyway, the right word to describe the relationship a reader has with a particularly cherished book. Most serious readers can point to one book that has a place in their life like the one that Middlemarch has in mine.”

“Some very eminent critics writing in the decades immediately after the novel's publication felt that Eliot failed to maintain sufficient critical distance in her depiction of Ladislaw--that she fell in love with her own creation in a way that shows a lack of artistic control and is even unseemly, like a hoary movie director whose lens lingers too long on the young flesh of a favored actress. Lord David Cecil calls Ladislaw 'a schoolgirl's dream, and a vulgar one at that,' while Leslie Stephen complained 'Ladislaw is almost obtrusively a favorite with his creator,' and depreciated him as 'an amiable Bohemian.”

“Eliot was scornful of idle women readers who imagined themselves the heroines of French novels, and of self-regarding folk who saw themselves in the most admirable character in a novel, and she hoped for more nuanced engagement from her own readers. Even so, all readers make books over in their own image, and according to their own experience.”

“In the Life of George Eliot, John Walter Cross gave an intriguing account of Eliot's creative method. 'She told me that, in all her best writing, there was a "not herself" which took possession of her, and that she felt her own personality to be merely the instrument through which this spirit, as it were, was acting,' Cross wrote.”

I think some time I would like to read George Eliot's novel Daniel Deronda. It sounds good.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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

This is an affiliate link:

The Literary Tour of London by Tom Laimer-Read. $1.99 from Smashwords.com
Ladies and gentlemen, roll up one and all for the strolling tour of a lifetime! Follow in the footsteps of some of Great Britain's greatest writers! London is a city of literature and lust, poverty and riches, woe and wonder. Come experience the places that inspired and were influenced by some of the greatest writers of all time, and find out more about their fascinating lives.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Review: 'I Work at a Public Library' by Gina Sheridan

I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the StacksI Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks by Gina Sheridan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although I've never worked in a library, I find them to be fascinating and wonderful places. One of the most wonderful things about the library is that it makes so many resources available to a wide cross-section of the community...almost anyone, in fact. The public library is very democratic. The rich variety among library patrons gives rise to this book, which started as a Tumblr blog, of strange, unusual, humorous, and amusing incidents in the life of public library assistants and librarians.

This book is laugh-out-loud funny, but it also gives the reader a new appreciation for all the things librarians and their assistants actually do.

My favorite is the incident relayed on pages 145-146. A man who did not speak English as a primary language needed help accessing a website, fearing he might lose his job if he couldn't complete some online paperwork, but the website was malfunctioning. The library assistant TRACKED DOWN THE PHONE NUMBER OF THE WEB MASTER AND GOT HIM TO REWRITE THE CODE OF THE WEBSITE TO MAKE IT WORK PROPERLY. Wow - that's dedication. The man did not lose his job, and he showed up at the library WITH HIS ENTIRE FAMILY to thank her.

Cheers, workers of the public libraries of the world. You put information in the hands of the people who can be cranky, belligerent, drunk, users of unknown substances, distracted, or simply ignorant of a particular facet of life. You endure much with stoic poker faces and gentle good humor.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Appropriately enough, I checked out this book at a public library. I was under no obligation to write a review. This review represents my own honest opinion.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

ISIS, Pazuzu, and Middle East Folklore in Popular Culture (CW: Disturbing Images)

The content warning is for those who don't like to look at possibly-scary pictures. If that's you, do not scroll down the page.

On Thursday, September 11 of this year, I decided to stop by Loren Coleman's blog Twilight Language to see if Coleman had added any interesting updates lately. As you know, I'm an amateur folklorist. For my own personal satisfaction, I enjoy looking at non-traditional media and what might be called "conspiracy theories" through the lens of modern folklore and urban legends. Coleman isn't a "conspiracy" blogger per se, but his explorations into predicting patterns of human behavior often touch on weird phenomena.

I read the post titled "Tridents, Pitchforks, and Satan in the News" dated September 10th. It mentions the terrorist group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). You may recall that I mentioned ISIS, or ISIL, in my review of Religio Duplex the other day. Coleman's post talks about the persecution of the Yazidi (also spelled Yezidi) minority group by ISIS/ISIL.

According to Wikipedia, the Yazidis live primarily in northern Iraq and mainly speak the Kurdish language, although they consider themselves - and are considered by the United Nations - as an ethnic group separate from the Kurdish people. The article describes the Yazidi religion as combining elements of pre-Zoroastrian Iranian religion, Christianity, Gnosticism, Islam, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, as well as an ancient nature-worshiping religion.

Quoting the U.K. newspaper The Guardian, Coleman mentions that the Yazidi's object of worship is a figure known as Melek Tawwus. To the radical ISIS group members, this makes the Yazidi people "devil worshipers" and, thus, legitimate targets. The cultural confusion may stem from the fact that another name for Melek Tawwus is Shaytan, which is the name the Koran uses to refer to Satan/the devil. However, the Yazidi people themselves do not use the word "Shaytan" and do not associate Melek Tawwus with evil acts.

Creative Commons image by PHGCOM
Coleman identifies an image similar to this one with Melek Tawwus, but also with "the same region's Assyrian demon Pazuzu."

The name Pazuzu rang a bell in my mind. Where, I thought, had I heard that name before? Then it occurred to me: Futurama. Pazuzu is the name of the dragon-like beast in Professor Farnsworth's care. The animated creature is rather cute.

Borrowed from http://thatwritererinoriordan.tumblr.com/post/97258845380
Coleman mentions that the ancient artifact above would be "familiar from the Exorcist movies." I've only seen the movie once, several years ago, but I do seem to recall that the early scenes involve an archaeological dig in which the demonic-looking (or angelic-looking, depending on your point of view) statue is found.

Apparently, the name of the demon that possesses the 12-year-old character Regan in The Exorcist is named Pazuzu. Although the creature's name is never used in the film, it's revealed in the sequels and also in William Peter Blatty's novel on which the film is based.

So, did Futurama name the Professor's living gargoyle after the demon in The Exorcist? Probably not. According to The Infosphere, Futurama is filled with references to the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. In D+D, Pazuzu is the name of a demon prince - based, of course, upon a reference to Assyrian and Babylonian mythology. The Paris setting of the end of the episode, says the Futurama wiki, alludes to a graphic novel called The Demon of the Eiffel Tower by Jacques Tardi.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2282787.Le_d_mon_de_la_Tour_Eiffel?ac=1
Encyclopedia Mythica's Mesopotamian mythology area describes Pazuzu thus:

"A winged demon, feared by the people of ancient Mesopotamia. It is a creature with a deformed head, the wings of an eagle, the sharp claws of a lion on its hands and feet, and the tail of a scorpion. This demon is the personification of the south-east storm wind, which brings diseases. The Mesopotamians believed that Pazuzu lived in the desert."

Wikipedia elaborates that the south-east wind is associated with bringing famine in the dry season and plagues of locusts in the rainy season. However, Pazuzu's name may be invoked on amulets used to protect human beings from harm, since Pazuzu wards off the evil goddess Lamashtu. (Lamashtu, a she-demon who menaces women in childbirth and kidnaps young children, treads some of the same folkloric ground as Lilith.)

And why might William Peter Blatty have been interested in Middle Eastern people's ancient folklore? Because the New York-born American writer has two Middle Eastern parents, both from Lebanon. His mother's uncle was a well-known Christian bishop in Lebanon, and Blatty went to a Jesuit school as a youth. So, he is both an Arab and a Roman Catholic.

Most Lebanese people identify as ethnically Arab, although they are technically a lovely melange of several related West Asian ethnicities that includes the Arab people. If you don't believe me that people of Lebanese descent are quite lovely, you need only look at Amal Ramzi Alamuddin, the British human rights lawyer who's engaged to George Clooney. The lady is of most exquisite beauty.

Now 86 years old, Blatty is still writing. His latest novel was published in 2011.

By the way, if you go to Tumblr and search for pictures of Professor Farnsworth's rather cute-looking gargoyle beast, prepare to have the excrement scared out of you. A search of the tag "Pazuzu" brings up this hideous-looking thing.

Borrowed from https://www.tumblr.com/search/pazuzu
The rational part of the brain knows that's just the actress Eileen Dietz, who appeared on the soap opera General Hospital, in a bald cap, makeup, and false teeth. The irrational part of the brain says DEAR GOD PLEASE GET THAT HIDEOUS MONSTROSITY AWAY FROM ME!

Dietz served as a body double for Linda Blair, the young actress who played Regan, in The Exorcist. She did the difficult "projectile vomiting" scene, for example. Images of Dietz in demonic makeup were inserted in key points in the film to heighten the viewer's discomfort and fear on an almost-subliminal level. These shots flash by so quickly, one is not really sure what one has seen, but it has still provoked a visceral fear reaction.

This post suggests the disturbing makeup was inspired by a Japanese film called Onibaba. According to IMDB, Onibaba is about a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law in feudal Japan who kill passing samurai and sell their possessions. The daughter-in-law takes an awful-looking, demonic mask off one of her victims and begins to wear it, only to find that soon it will no longer come off.


Blatty claims he based his fictional novel The Exorcist on a real-life exorcism that took place while he was a college student at Georgetown in 1949. (He says so in this opinion essay.) However, this does not mean that there was an actual documented case of demonic possession. The events that took place surrounding the 14-year-old boy who was believed to be "possessed" have been explained by psychology and possible trickery on the part of the adolescent in question. (He's referred to by the pseudonyms Roland Doe and Robbie Mannheim.)

Now, a personal note:

The Exorcist came out in 1973. My dad took my mom on a date to see it at a movie theater in downtown South Bend, Indiana. (The building is still there, but it's no longer a movie theater. It was most recently a venue for live music.) My mom, also raised as a Roman Catholic, was so terrified she hid her face in my dad's jacket for almost the entire thing. To this day, if she's flipping TV channels and happens to hear a bit of the theme music, she runs from the room.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Book Haul + Teaser for Morgan Black's Fireside Series


Nothing as erotic as Morgan Black's Fireside Series appeared in my shopping basket at my local library's used media sale yesterday. These are the things I did get, though:


I love Marta Acosta, and my fondness for Marvel has grown immensely since I first saw The Avengers. I've been wanting this book for over a year now, and here it is!


I don't know anything about this series, and I don't think it has anything to do with Vampire Academy, but if Richelle Mead wrote it then I'm willing to give this graphic novel a chance.


To go with my Twilight collection.


I gave away my copy of Volume 1 a long time ago, but look at how beautiful Edward looks on the cover. Young Kim's artwork is beautiful.

I also got three DVDs. I had hoped to find a bigger selection, including some of the young adult book-to-film adaptations that I've recently missed (The Book Thief, Ender's Game, and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones). But instead I found these.


This second one is a movie I've already seen. I reviewed it here.


...and finally, another one I've seen before. I reviewed it here.


This was my personal haul. I also got 10 books from my grandmother's handwritten, extensive, alphabetized list. She gets a mix of literary fiction and suspense:

Doughty, Louise. Whatever You Love

Erdrich, Louise. The Round House

Haigh, Jennifer. Faith

Kellerman, Jonathan. Killer

LaPlante, Alice. Turn of Mind

Mathis, Ayana. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

Meyer, Phillip. The Son

McGrath, M.J. White Heat

Patchett, Ann. State of Wonder

Quinlan, Anna. Still Life with Bread Crumbs

Those should keep her reading for at least six months. What are you reading? 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

'Mustang Maddy' by Kacey Hammell (Contemporary Erotica) with Excerpt


Mustang Maddy
Revved & Ready Book 2
By Kacey Hammell
Contemporary Erotica
ISBN 9780987799326

Grey Burkhardt is an expert at a lot of things—including keeping his feelings for Madison Evans in check. Sexy as sin and sweet as honey, she's always revved his engine. But she's his next door neighbor. No way is he going to muck up friendly neighborhood relations just to satisfy the heat simmering between them.

Madison has never seen anything sexier than the tricked out GT Mustang Grey has been keeping under wraps—other than the glint of danger and intrigue in his eyes when he offers her a ride. Now is her chance to act on the deep passion she’s harbored for him because this might be her one shot at taking control.

Book Buying Links:

http://kaceyhammell.com/bookshelf-2/revved-and-ready-series/mustang-maddy/

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MV5UMLO/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00MV5UMLO&linkCode=as2&tag=lucyfelt-20&linkId=H4FLFIX3YPTGUDB6

http://www.amazon.ca/Mustang-Maddy-Revved-Ready-Book-ebook/dp/B00MV5UMLO

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00MV5UMLO/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B00MV5UMLO&linkCode=as2&tag=lucyfelthouse-21

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/469436?ref=cw1985

Coming soon to:
aRe
B+N
Kobo

And get Book One – 69 Mustang – FREE until September 30th at all book outlets. Buy Links HERE.


Excerpt ©Kacey Hammell, 2014:

He cleared his throat and stepped closer. “You know, Mads, watching you fawn over my car, stroking her, makes me hot. I can hear every breath you take and sigh you release over her. It’s sexy as hell.”

She stood still as he moved in even closer, wedging her between him and the rear window. Thoughts of getting in the car fled as her heart raced. The hunger in his eyes called to her, her body craved it, wanted it.

She couldn’t deny herself any longer.

Leaning back against the car, she smirked. “I like appreciating great things. And to be honest, Mustangs turn me on. A lot.”

They said confession was good for the soul. Maddy was certain she’d just cleansed hers and there would be no going back.

Her palms flattened on the doors behind her. “The feel of the metal, and the pulse that emanates off the surface even when they’re not running…mmm. Everything in me comes alive whenever I see these muscled beauties.”

Grey lifted his arms, bracketing her in. “You’re one of the hottest chicks I know. No other woman has ever turned me on so much by talking about cars. You know, I’ve watched you—in a non-stalker way of course—for a long time now.”

Thrilled, Maddy’s heart skipped a beat. “What are you going to do with me now that I’m here?” What possessed her to ask, she had no idea, but the need and the desire in his gaze, aimed at her, called to all her sexual instincts. There was no way she could walk away now.

He aligned his body with hers, his eyes hooded as he gazed down at her. She surrendered to the headiness of this man, the pulsing rhythms of her body and waited with bated breath.
“I’m going to taste you...” Grey tilted his head to the side. All she could do was stare at his lips as they came closer. “...in any sexy spot you’ll let me.”

His mouth met hers. Maddy opened to him like a budding flower. Claimed. Possessed. Riotous emotions swirled through her and her mind cleared. This. This type of hunger and excitement she’d been missing with any other man was all she desired. Intense, seductive and thirst to let go and give into the headiest of sexuality.

He eased his tongue into her mouth, gliding along hers, exploring, tasting... Maddy never wanted to break free.

A low moan escaped the back of her throat. She encircled his shoulders, arms pulling him in to stand between her legs.

His hardness behind his shorts pressed against her. Gasping, she broke free from his mouth and laid her head back on the car. He kissed his way down her throat. Her pussy throbbed. Her juices flooded her panties. A shiver raced down her spine. Her fingers clenching against his pecs, Maddy trembled as the exquisite tortures of his lips worshipped her, and his hips rolled his cock against her. His teeth grazed her skin along her shoulders. She widened her stance. Grey moaned as he pushed into her, harder and more aggressive.

Laying his forehead on her shoulder, he breathed deep. “Damn you’re intoxicating.”

Maddy palmed the back of his head, holding him in place as his hips still moved and let sweet agony build. The friction of her panties and shorts against her clit were spectacular. But she needed more.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

'True Blood' Season 7 Discussion, Pt. 2 #TrueToTheEnd

In last week's post, we discussed the 7th and final season of True Blood in terms of the fates of some of my favorite characters: Tara, Sam, Alcide, Jessica, and Arlene. Today we'll wrap up with Sookie, Bill, Jason, Eric, Pam, and Lafayette.

I'm going to mention Charlaine Harris's book series, so if you don't want to be spoiled on the books, do not proceed.

Lafayette Reynolds and James Kent: Tara Thornton met a terrible fate, but fortunately her cousin Lafayette did not. Several seasons back - in Season 5 - Lafayette lost the man who had the potential to be the love of his life, Jesus Velasquez.

(I'd forgotten how beautiful Kevin Alejandro was until Tit Elingtin and I watched the series Weeds. Then I remembered the Jesus-Lafayette romance. Then I made myself sad.)

It was high time for Lafayette to find love again.

Creative Commons image by Kristin Dos Santos
When we met James Kent in the vampire internment camp is Season 6, he was introduced as a love interest for Jessica Hamby. He was also played by a blond actor names Luke Grimes. When Grimes read the script for Season 7, he decided to leave the show. In a plot twist, James turns out to be bisexual. The '70s rocker vampire had a previous relationship with a male bandmate, and he's attracted to Lafayette.

This season, James is played by dark-haired actor Nathan Parsons.

Creative Commons image by Nehrams2020
I have a wee bit of a problem with the way their relationship was handled, though. James, rather than breaking up with Jessica and then pursuing Lafayette, he sneaks off with Lafayette at Sookie's party. Of course, Jessica just happens to step outside at the right time catch James and Lafayette having sex.

A) I don't like the stereotype that bisexual and pansexual people are all cheaters. We're probably no more or less faithful than the gays, the lesbians, and the straights.

I don't judge people for non-monogamy, but I do judge people for betrayal of a partner's trust.

B) I wish James and Lafayette's sex scene had been better than just an outdoor quickie leaning against a car. It seems like every other couple on the series has, at one point, gotten romantic music, candles, firelight, and a bearskin rug...or at least a nice, sturdy pool table. James and Lafayette don't deserve a romantic sex scene? Even Eric-Talbot was more romantic...up until the point that Eric staked Talbot.

However, the bad blood between Jessica and James did not seem to last long at all. I think she was just happy that he was happy with Lafayette. The finale's flash-forward showed them still together.

I must say, Lafayette and James made one strikingly beautiful couple. But, as we saw with Pam/Tara, this show had a history of giving short shrift to couples when one of them is a person of color.

On the next TV show Nelsan Ellis lands on, can he please play the main character?

Jason Stackhouse: Jason's story ends happily, and pretty much the same way it did in After Dead. I'm glad, because you have to like Jason, even if he is dumber than a bag of hammers. The biggest difference between book Jason and TV Jason, of course, is that book Jason turned into a werepanther.

In the True Blood finale, it appears that Jason has married Bridget, Hoyt's fiancee from Alaska until they broke up over the issue of children. They have three children together. Jason appears to be an excellent father. Happily ever after for them.

I don't really have any emotional attachment to Bridget. She was introduced this season, essentially as a plot device to resolve the tension between Jessica, Hoyt, and Jason. But it's still good to see Jason settled down.

Creative Commons image by Kristin Dos Santos
Ryan Kwanten, I will miss your butt. I hope to see it again in your next project.

Pam Swynford de Beaufort and Eric Northman: By rescuing Sarah Newlin from the Yakuza, only to use her for their own purposes, and then killing the Yakuza, Pam and Eric have become rich beyond their wildest dreams, cured Hepatitis V, and no longer have to answer to anyone. They get to stay together, and there's no indication they'll have to meet the true death any time soon.

This is a much sunnier ending than After Dead mapped out for Eric, married to a vampire he didn't love. I don't even remember what happened to Pam, other than that she took over for Eric as the sheriff of Area 5.

What I didn't like about Pam and Eric's ending was their cruelty to Sarah Newlin. They keep her chained in the basement of Fangtasia, and vampires pay them thousands of dollars to spend a few seconds terrorizing her. Yes, Sarah did an awful thing to vampire-kind when she helped the governor unleash Hep V on them, but that still doesn't make it okay for Pam and Eric to torture her. Pam and Eric are cruel. Eric's cruel nature is why I never really rooted for Eric and Sookie to be together.


I also wish that Alexander Skarsgard's unnamed "boyfriend" character in Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" video had been nicer to the character Gaga is playing. Instead, he pushed her off a balcony.

Still, I am also going to miss A.Skars's butt. I'm sure we'll see it again, though. He does all those strange foreign movies.

Drum roll, please.

Sookie Stackhouse and Bill Compton: In Dead Ever After, Sookie embarks on a relationship with Sam Merlotte. The official end of the book series doesn't tell us whether or not they'll have a long, happy life together. After Dead reveals they do, with three children, although one of their children dies as a teen.

I had always hoped Sookie and Bill getting back together would be the endgame of the book series. I did not get my wish. I had a faint hope that it would be the endgame of the TV series...but that started getting dismantled as soon as the ailing Bill started pushing Sookie away.

I really didn't think she would kill him, though. I really thought they would change their minds at the last minute.

Sookie driving a stake into Bill's heart was sad enough after all the time I've spent reading about and watching these characters. It was made even more poignant by the fact that Anna Paquin and Bill Moyer fell in love in real life, got married, and had a child together. This must have been an agonizing scene for them to film - who wants to contemplate the mortality of their spouse? The scene of Sookie covered in the goo that used to be Bill was heartbreaking.

Creative Commons image by BladeRunner0427
The flash-forward to three years from that moment, showing Sookie married to an anonymous human man and pregnant, held no emotional pull for me. Was he the love of her life? Maybe, but since we the viewers had no clue who he was, he didn't mean anything to us.

I just really wish Bill would have been happy knowing his daughter's descendants, Andy and Adilyn, were alive, well, and possibly carrying on the family line, and that Jessica was happily married and might have a vampire progeny of her own some day. (Possibly, Hoyt will one day want Jessica to turn him.) I wish that had been enough of a reason for him to stay alive - or, well, undead, at least until Sookie's death. Considering what a magnet for supernatural trouble she is, Sookie probably won't live that long, anyway.

So, the thing that disappointed me most about the finale was Bill's death, followed by Sookie's lackluster, non-supernatural HEA.

What did you think about the last season of True Blood?

Friday, September 12, 2014

#FridayReads September 12, 2014


Since I finished Middlemarch by George Eliot in July, it would be silly of me not to read My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead. Especially since I got a free hardcover copy from Blogging For Books


The Goodreads Blurb:

"A New Yorker writer revisits the seminal book of her youth--Middlemarch--and fashions a singular, involving story of how a passionate attachment to a great work of literature can shape our lives and help us to read our own histories. 

"Rebecca Mead was a young woman in an English coastal town when she first read George Eliot's Middlemarch, regarded by many as the greatest English novel. After gaining admission to Oxford, and moving to the United States to become a journalist, through several love affairs, then marriage and family, Mead read and reread Middlemarch. The novel, which Virginia Woolf famously described as "one of the few English novels written for grown-up people," offered Mead something that modern life and literature did not.

"In this wise and revealing work of biography, reporting, and memoir, Rebecca Mead leads us into the life that the book made for her, as well as the many lives the novel has led since it was written. Employing a structure that deftly mirrors that of the novel, My Life in Middlemarch takes the themes of Eliot's masterpiece--the complexity of love, the meaning of marriage, the foundations of morality, and the drama of aspiration and failure--and brings them into our world. Offering both a fascinating reading of Eliot's biography and an exploration of the way aspects of Mead's life uncannily echo that of Eliot herself, My Life in Middlemarch is for every ardent lover of literature who cares about why we read books, and how they read us."

I love books about books. Even though I didn't love Middlemarch nearly as much as Mead did, Mead's book is still quite fascinating. So far. I'm only about a quarter of the way through. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

'Vampyres of Hollywood' Review + 'True Blood' Season 7 Discussion, Pt. 1

Vampyres of Hollywood  (Vampyres of Hollywood, #1)Vampyres of Hollywood by Adrienne Barbeau

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would have been slightly disappointed if the lovely and talented film actress Adrienne Barbeau hadn't written a fabulously entertaining book with her co-author Michael Scott of The Alchemyst fame. Fortunately, this vampyre fantasy/murder mystery set in modern-day Hollywood IS fabulously entertaining. Horror, humor, and suspense are deftly blended into this unusual boy-meets-ghoul story reminiscent of the best of Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries series (if by Southern we meant SoCal). True Blood aficionados will appreciate this stand-alone novel.

If Lady Gaga were ever to decide to star in a movie, she would be perfect in the role of vampyre heroine Ovsanna Moore. I also like that Hollywood classics like Rudolph Valentino, Orson Welles, and Mary Pickford make appearances, and the fictional timeline also plays with history. Let's just say that Dan Brown's explanation of the original Friday the 13th in The Da Vinci Code isn't the full story in Ovsanna's telling.

I bought this book for $1 at a library used book sale. I was not obligated to review it in any way. All the opinions stated here are my own.

View all my reviews on Goodreads


Now, I can't let the opportunity to mention True Blood pass without discussing the Season 7. If you want episode-by-episode recaps of the final season of True Blood, I direct your attention to the blog Fangs, Wands, and Fairy Dust. Fair warning, Steph also recaps Outlander and Masters of Sex, so beware of spoilers:

Season 7 Episode 2
Season 7 Episode 5
Season 7 Episode 6
Season 7 Episode 7
Season 7 Episode 8
Season 7 Episode 9
Season 7 Episode 10

I didn't see episodes 1, 3, or 4 on Steph's blog. She may have missed a few.

(Sidenote: I wish my parents had Showtime so we could watch Masters of Sex. Not only do I find Masters and Johnson terribly fascinating, but I also love Michael Sheen because he plays creepy Aro in the Twilight Saga films.)

Tara Thornton

So let's talk about the ultimate fates of some of my favorite characters from the series. My #1 problem with this season is the fate of Tara Thornton, the kickass vamp played by the gorgeous Rutina Wesley.

Tara dies. In the first episode of the season. Offscreen.

Look, it's bad enough that Season 6 gave barely even a flicker of screen time to the Pam-Tara romance. That was on top of all the previous sufferings of Tara's character: an abusive, alcoholic mother; having her mind held hostage by the maenad; losing Eggs; being kidnapped, raped, and tortured by the evil vampire Franklin; getting shot in the head by that psycho Debbie Pelt, and then turned into a vampire against her will; and then being locked up in nutty Sarah Newlin's vampire prison camp. Just when you thought Tara had suffered enough and deserved a happy ending, though - BAM! An undignified off-screen death.

Creative Commons image by Ronald Woan
She appeared a few more times throughout the season, as a V-induced hallucination/ghost - crucified, no less. Dear TV: is it too much to ask that we have some African-American female characters who survive, thrive, succeed, and excel?

So that writing pissed me off, as did the fact that Pam barely brought up Tara's name the entire season. Because (so the writers seem to think) why would Pam grieve for her woman of color lover when she could just as easily obsess over Eric's pasty white Viking ass?

See Also: "Stick a Fork In It" on Dorothy Surrenders

Ginger (No Last Name)

One of the most enjoyable sequences (the beginning of it, anyway) this season was a flashback to the '90s in which Eric and Pam acquired the building that would come to house Fangtasia. The vampire night club of the '00s started life as a humble video store. As Pam stood in it, bewildered by being ordered to manage such a mundane center of human activity, who should pop in but Ginger (played by Tara Buck), searching for vampire movies.

Ah, but this is not the Ginger we've come to know over the past six seasons, the clueless human pathetically and hopelessly lusting after the lanky blond vampire. This Ginger is smart!Ginger. See, she's wearing glasses! She's a student at Tulane! She needs those vampire movies for her thesis on the vampire as metaphor for social outsider!

"#1 Crush" by Garbage plays in the background. Then, suddenly, Eric walks up from the basement. Smart!Ginger takes a half-second glance in his direction, and the immense surge of lust erases half her brain cells, instantly turning her into the Ginger we all know and consider an unflattering stereotype of women. Apparently we can be brainy or express our sexuality, but not both at the same time. It's like that lame-ass "Blow Minds, Not Guys" virtual poster I sometimes see around social media.



In the finale, Eric finally offers to have sex with Ginger. She wants to straddle him while he sits on his throne. She does - for all of about two seconds, before the strength of her insta-orgasm literally knocks her to the floor.

I can't remember if Ginger was a character in the books or not. If she was, was she this lame in the novels, or it just TV Ginger that sucks? I wanted so much more for you, Ginger. I really did.

Alcide Herveaux

Season 6 ended with that terribly confusing flash-forward showing Sam as the mayor of Bon Temps and Sookie happily in a relationship with werewolf Alcide. That looked like fun, didn't it? And if I remember correctly from Dead Ever After, which I read a little over a year ago, book-Alcide had a pretty happy ending. I think he settled down with a female werewolf.

Alas, TV-Alcide and TV-Sookie were not meant to be, as he was killed off in Episode 3. Sad, sad, sad.

Creative Commons image by Sue Lukenbaugh

Sam Merlotte

One positive I'll mention out of Season 7 is that Sam Merlotte and his beloved, Nicole Wright (played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell), got the happy ending they deserved. Nicole, heavily pregnant with the couple's baby daughter, told Sam she wanted to leave the high weirdness of Bon Temps behind and raise her child in a safer environment. She asked him to move to Chicago with her so that they could be closer to her parents. Sam deliberated, but he made the right call. He resigned as mayor and chose to protect his de facto wife and unborn child. Which is as it should be.

Creative Commons image by Gage Skidmore
The next thing I see Sam Trammell in is likely to be The Fault in Our Stars. He plays the father of Hazel Grace Lancaster.

Jessica Hamby

Another one of my favorites who actually got a happy ending was Jessica Hamby, Bill's vampire progeny. However, like Nicole, she had to undergo some awful suffering first. (Nicole was among a group of humans abducted by the hepatitis V-infected vampires, ultimately rescued thanks another abductee, the witch Holly Cleary.) She was abducted by my least favorite character of this season, the awful Violet.

Violet (played by Karolina Wydra) first appeared in Season 6, in the vampire prison camp. I don't entirely remember that storyline - first she tried to eat Jason, then she forced him to become her boyfriend, or something. Either way, Violet always seemed to me like she hated other women. Then Jason upset her by having one last fling with Jessica at Sookie's party, and she retaliated by kidnapping and planning to kill Sheriff Andy Bellefleur's half-fairy daughter Adilyn, Adilyn's boyfriend/stepbrother-to-be Wade Cleary (Holly's son), and Jessica.

Jessica's former lover Hoyt Fortenberry disappeared several seasons ago, when Jessica wiped his memory clean of their relationship and he moved to Alaska. He returned to Bon Temps for his mother's funeral - Violet reached into Mrs. Fortenberry's chest and pulled her heart out. He brought a fiancee, but they were fighting over the issue of children, which she wanted but he didn't. Jason and Hoyt both showed up at Violet's creepy fortress to rescue Jessica and the kids. Violet had just finished explaining her evil plan to hideously torture Jessica when Hoyt's bullet turned Violet to the goo she so richly deserved to become.

In a very short time, Jessica fell back in love with Hoyt and won his love again. In the finale, they got married, with Bill giving her away. Deborah Ann Woll looked spectacularly gorgeous as bride!Jessica.

Creative Commons image by Gage Skidmore
That was my favorite part of the finale. Other parts impressed me much, much less.

Arlene Fowler Bellefleur

Let us state for the record that TV-Arlene is a million percent better than book-Arlene. Book-Arlene was a racist bitch. TV-Arlene was much more sympathetic, and I would like her even if the character wasn't played by Carrie Preston, who also plays Grace Hendricks on Person of Interest (and whose real-life husband is Michael Emerson).

Creative Commons image by watchwithkristin
TV-Arlene gets a happy ending, too. She almost died in the rescue attempt, but her life was saved by vampire blood from the newly-introduced Keith (No Last Name). As usual in True Blood land, because Keith's blood is in Arlene, Arlene dreams about Keith. Preston did an almost fully nude sex scene on a pool table with her co-star, the beautiful Riley Smith, for the dream sequence. In waking life, Keith and Arlene are attracted to one another, but because she's hep V positive, they take their relationship very slowly. In one lovely scene, they simply dance.

The finale implies they stayed together.

Tomorrow Next week we'll examine some of our other favorites, including Lafayette, Sookie, and Bill.