Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Loki in Lughnasa

A few weeks ago, when Tom Hiddleston's erotic reading of Tennessee Williams' The Seven Descents of Myrtle came up in a prostitution-related post, I mentioned Hiddleston-portrayed Marvel Comics character Loki. The Norse god Loki, I said, sometimes has female characteristics, and is the mother of several offspring.

I got curious about the details of this story, so I turned to my trusty Hamilton's Mythology. It mentioned Loki's part in the death of the beloved god Balder, but says nothing of his children. I then turned to Myths and Folklore by Henry I. Christ, which is the textbook from which I studied mythology as a high school freshman and sophomore, ages ago. It, too, was of limited usefulness. It said, "Although handsome, he was fickle and unreliable. His three offspring were the wolf Fenris, the Midgard serpent, and Hela, or Death." 

Hela is often depicted as half alive and half dead. Hela is the death-goddess, an equivalent of Persephone and Kali. Her Celtic equivalent was Scotia, or Scatha, and Scotland was named after her. Also referred to as Skald in Norse mythology, she had to be appeased with the yearly blood sacrifice of a hero. 

I said Loki is the mother of this weird little brood, but Encyclopedia Mythica says Loki is the father and that their mother is the giantess Angrboda, Loki's mistress. Loki was the mother of the eight-legged colt Sleipnir; he took the form of a mare to distract the stallion Svadilfari, which belonged to a giant who opposed the gods. In doing so, Loki saved Freya from having to marry the giant. 

Then I went to Barbara G. Walker's The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. Walker writes, "Like many of the oldest gods, Loki was bisexual [in the sense that he was sometimes a male and sometimes a female]. He even succeeded in becoming a mother, though only after he swallowed a woman's heart to acquire the power of birth-giving...Loki's offspring was the eight-legged horse Sleipnir, spirit of death, a symbol of the gallows tree on which Odin rode." 

Walker notes that Loki was sometimes identified as "Logi," or "flame." She associates Loki-as-Logi with Lug (or Lugh), the Celtic god of fire, who was celebrated at Lughnasa/Lughnasadh (Lug's games) on August 1st. Hey, that's tomorrow!

Lug, it seems, is an Irish version of the annually dying and returning god. He's the son of Dagda (the great Irish father-god, equivalent to Odin), but also a reincarnation of Dagda. His mother/lover throughout the incarnation cycle is Tailltiu, the earth-goddess. At her eponymous Irish city, Taillten, the annual fair resulted in temporary marriages that lasted a year and a day. Lughnasa is reminiscent of Beltane - a cross-quarter holiday (the halfway point between a solstice and an equinox) at which a stage of the harvest is celebrated with symbolic acts of human fertility - i.e. sex, and not necessarily with one's usual partner. 

However you celebrate Lughnasa - bread and blueberries are traditional symbols of this stage of the Northern Hemisphere's harvest season - have a great one!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Put Your Drinks Up For Nebraska

On Mondays I hook up with Pinning! at A Night Owl Blog/Baxtron{Life}. On Wednesday, it's Oh, How Pinteresting! at The Vintage Apple.

Honestly, the first thing I think of when I think of Nebraska? Cornhuskers football - as a Notre Dame opponent. One night I stayed at the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago the night before the Notre Dame-Nebraska game, and the lobby was a sea of red Cornhuskers sweatshirts. 

As you know, my pop cultural obsession is the Thursday night CBS drama Person of Interest...

...which is why my second-greatest celeb crush (after Christian Bale - always, always Christian Bale) is Jim Caviezel...

...causing me to watch The Thin Red Line (a 1998 film also starring Nick Nolte and Sean Penn)...

...triggering my American literature obsession, which in turn caused me to read James Jones' wartime trilogy, the first book of which is From Here to Eternity...

...causing me to get a bit obsessed with Montgomery Clift, old school Hollywood hottie (visit Clift-Notes on Tumblr to see about a thousand gorgeous pictures of him), born in Omaha, Nebraska. Combine this with the fact that I listen to Lady Gaga every day, and I always be hearin' "You & I" with its reference to "my cool Nebraska guy," I dedicate this Monday Pinterest post to the cool people of Nebraska. Did you know that Marlon Brando was also from Omaha?

So was another dude who merits a shout-out in Madonna's "Vogue" (and "Billionaire" by Peaches), Mr. Fred Astaire. 

Gorgeous Gabrielle Union is also an Omaha native.

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser is from Nebraska, and so is Nicholas Sparks. 

The breathtaking and ever-so-talented Hilary Swank is from Nebraska.

So is Marg Helgenberger. Do you get the impression that Nebraska is a seriously good-looking state or what?!

Oh, and Nick Nolte, too. Also from Omaha. Apparently, he was arrested there as a youth for selling fake i.d.s to youngsters interested in buying liquor. Naughty. 

Nolte's character in The Thin Red Line, Lt. Col. Tall, has little to no reservations about trying to force his subordinates, 1st Sgt. Welsh and Capt. Staros, to use C-for-Charlie Company as cannon fodder as they try to recover a crucial airfield from the Japanese army. I'm only about 100 pages into the book thus far, so I haven't really gotten to Tall yet. 

One thing you won't see in the movie: the scene in which the men get drunk off Aqua Velva aftershave mixed with grapefruit juice. Don't try that at home, kids. 

But, of course, no Nebraska post would be complete without Lady Gaga's cool Nebraska guy, Luc Carl. He looks like the kind of guy who would have bought one of Young Nick Nolte's fake  i.d.s. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Please Welcome Back Romantic Suspense Author Amber Lea Easton

"It Takes a Village" by Amber Lea Easton

A while back, I made the mistake of attending a critique group without really knowing the people attending.  I gleefully submitted the first chapter of my work in progress, eager for feedback.  Well,  glee switched to confusion when I received one critique in particular.  A man in the group said that I should eliminate the extra characters, the supporting cast, because they were “of no use to the story” and I should “delete them completely.”  He claimed--in an authoritative, self-important way--that readers only care about the main two characters and that anyone else in the story is a distraction.  
Lucky for me, I know stupid when I see it and ignored his advice.  I can’t imagine reading a novel where there are no other characters surrounding the main two. Now, I understand balance and agree there shouldn’t be so many characters in a story that it’s difficult to tell who the lead is, but a great sidekick or two--and let’s not forget a villain--are essential ingredients for a full-bodied story.  
A cast of supporting characters allows the reader to get a broader view of the world where the hero and heroine live.  Secondary characters answer the questions: How is the hero/heroine perceived by others? How does the hero/heroine relate to his/her family, friends, coworkers?  What kind of people does he/she like to surround themselves with?  A cast adds flavor to the story, serves as a reader’s window into their world, gives backstory without the author needing to “tell it”.  
Heck, even Tom Hanks had Wilson the ball to interact with when he was stranded in the movie Castaway.  And, when he later lost Wilson, I cried.  What would that movie have been like without Wilson?!  Okay, maybe it would have been fine, but, in my opinion, that soccer ball added another layer.  

Those secondary characters the man in the critique group wanted me to eliminate were essential to my story.  One was the villain (or not, therein lies the mystery), about to betray the hero later in the manuscript and the other two were also key players in the plot.  If I’d been insecure enough to ditch them, then Riptide wouldn’t be releasing on Wednesday.  

Book blurb for Riptide, a romantic suspense novel, available for pre-order now, official release on August 1.

One violent night shatters Lauren Biltmore’s life. As an anchorwoman, she's accustomed to reporting the news rather than being the lead story. She escapes the spotlight by fleeing to her brother's home in the Cayman Islands. Haunted by nightmares, all she wants is a distraction from reality.
Distraction arrives via sexy screenwriter Noah Reynolds. His take-me-to-bed looks mask a past ripe with scandal. He knows he should stay away from Lauren, especially when the worst night of her life unlocks his writer's block and while he's dealing with a stalker of his own, but ethics are his weakness.
Attraction sizzles beneath Caribbean sunshine. As their relationship grows, Noah's stalker intensifies her torment. Lauren wonders if her paranoia is justified or a carryover from her past. What's real? What's imagined?
Tentative trust is tested as their love is swept up against a riptide of deceit, murder, and revenge. 
Excerpt of Riptide: 
 Damn, the woman did insane things to his rational thinking. He’d decided on the boat that he needed to see her, make things right, take it slow, get tangled up in some strings.  
“I can’t decide if you’re hotter when wet or dry...I’m thinking it might be a tie,” she said. 
Oh, what the hell. With an opener like that, how could a man resist? He crossed the space between them, slipped his hand behind her neck, and kissed her on that mouth he’d been fantasizing about all week. 
Her hands slid over his damp chest while her mouth moved slowly beneath his, her teeth lightly catching his lower lip. Eyes open, they smiled against each other’s mouths.
“Miss me?” he asked.
“It would be very uncool of me to answer that.” She slid her hands over his abdomen and lingered on the towel. “Are you still wanting to back off, or have you come to your senses?”
He braced his hands over her head. The only thing he wanted to do was kiss her slowly and make her beg for more. He looked into her eyes. “You’re making me forget all of the reasons this is a mistake.”
“A sexy mistake.” 
“Good point.” He smiled. “We’re headed into the danger zone.”

“You have no idea how dangerous.” She tugged on the towel, a wicked grin in her eyes. 
Oh, he had an idea about the level of danger. He’d thought of nothing else for the past forty-eight hours and ranked this situation a solid Level Red. Despite that, all he could think about was how good it would feel to have her long legs wrapped around his hips while her nails clawed against his back. He needed to pull the emergency brake. Slow, he reminded himself. Slow. 
He leaned against her, enjoying the way her body arched toward his like a magnetic pull. He tangled his fingers in the hair at the back of her neck. “What do you want, Lauren? After the other night, you know I’m more complicated than I seem.”
“Show me. Let’s make some mistakes together. We’re both consenting adults. What the hell?” she whispered, her teeth pulling at his lower lip. 
“You’re reckless.”
“Does that scare you?” she asked.
Yeah, she was scary reckless, but that turned him on more than he could say. So what if she wanted to use him for a distraction from her own demons? He knew that had something to do with it—the woman oozed intensity. 
Riptide, now available for pre-order directly from  Watch Riptide's book trailer: 

Follow Amber Lea Easton on Twitter as @MtnMoxieGirl or Facebook to stay up to date on her latest releases, etcetera. 

Read Amber's earlier guest post here:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Join Us For a Game of "Eff Marry Kill"


Hello, all, and welcome to my first link-up with Blonde...Undercover Blonde and The Vintage Apple for "Eff, Marry, Kill." The game is played thusly: I give you three celebs, and you must decide which you would marry, with which you would have a one-night stand (eff) and which you would kill. It's more fun and entertaining if you give your reasons why.

The kid version of this game is "Kiss, Marry, Avoid." If "kill" is too violent, you may choose to avoid one celeb. I play "Kiss, Marry, Avoid" all the time on GoodReads, usually with Harry Potter characters. I'm not going to use book characters, because I have no way of knowing if you've read the same books I've read.

My first thought was to use the guys from The Dark Knight Rises - Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman. Eff Gary Oldman, marry Christian Bale, kill Tom Hardy. Then I thought, "Naw, Christian Bale is mine, and y'all bitches better stay away from him."

Instead, let's do contemporary authors.

Stephen King.

George R. R. Martin.

John Grisham.

I say eff John Grisham, because he's a good-looking guy and I really liked A Painted House and The Client. I wouldn't marry him because he'd totally lawyer me. I'd never win an argument.

I'd marry George R. R. Martin, 'cause that guy's doing really well with his Game of Thrones series. I'd have to kill Stephen King. Hey, he's had a good run - he's probably published more books than anyone except maybe Nora Roberts.

Your choices are...?

You may also enjoy these Eff, Marry, Kill links:

The Men of Nicholas Sparks adaptations
The Onscreen Loves of Kristen Stewart
The Men of 'True Blood'
Laurie Laurence, Gilbert Blythe, Heathcliff 

(Gotta admit, I never read Anne of Green Gables. Got to add that to the TBR list.)

Men of 'The Vampire Diaries'
Men of 'Magic Mike' (the movie sucked, but that doesn't mean the male strippers aren't still hot!)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

WIP Wednesday with Shah Wharton

This is the WIP Wednesday deal. Authors needed - all genres! Are you an author who'd like to share a 100- to 200-word blurb about a current work in progress on a future WIP Wednesday? If so, please send an e-mail to Erin O'Riordan (erinoriordan AT sbcglobal DOT net).   

Shah Wharton: Firstly, I’d like to thank Erin for having me on her blog to talk about my W.I.P. I started writing a short story spring 2009; one of my first in fact. It turned into the first book of a series.  Some would say I’m mad for trying to publish my first novel, but when that it also the first of a series, well I prefer not to think what folks would say.

To say I’m nervous is an understatement of great proportions. But if I’m going to do it, best get it done as best expertly as possible and prepare myself for the fall-out.  I’ve had the cover done professionally by Derek Murphy at CreativIndieCovers and the book will by rigorously edited by AubrieAnne at Who’s Your Editor? That is after many beta readers work their magic, pointing out all the obvious and more besides.

Hopefully, the awful bits will be removed by then. J

Finding Esta is a paranormal, urban fantasy
and full-length novel –
The first of The Supes Series.

I plan to publish it October 2012 (so help me God!)


Book Blurb:
An unusual young woman and fledgling journalist, Luna has various restrictive and annoying oddities, all of which have prevented any kind of physical intimacy during her 23 years. In her dreams a dark stranger visits her, and in lieu of the real thing their intimacy excites her. During those moments, nestled within his presence, she senses an urgent message is the reason for his visits to her subconscious. A message she cannot interpret, regardless of his persistent efforts.

Her abusive parents remain blissfully unaware of Luna’s Shadow’s, but are all too aware of other issues with touch and sunlight, reveling in her isolated misery and physical pain. Still, Luna hopes to one day make them proud, hoping this will take her closer to being worthy of their elusive love. Something she craves almost as much as the painless touch of a lover.

When Luna learns of a tragic story involving the kidnap of baby Esta, she jumps at the chance to investigate. She hopes finding Esta and closing this cold case will finally earn her parents’ admiration, and love.

Of course, it doesn’t quite go to plan. The loitering stranger from her dreams now stalks her during daylight. How can this be? And will he ever be more than a figure in the shadows, always just out of reach?

Her investigation leads Luna to St Ives, Cornwall: a vibrant seaside town hiding copycat aliens and an underworld of Supernaturals. Here, she comes face-to-face with her own, terrifying identity. Confronted with life-changing decisions and the harshest of truths, Luna confronts insanity with logic, only to fight against both. Will Luna ever find the path to all that she desires?

More significantly, is she trapped in a newfound supernatural world, or within her own delusions? And will anyone care enough to save her?

PLEASE COULD YOU ADD MY SIGN UP FORM CODE TOO? (It will enable anyone interested to sign up to a weekly update newsletter (and round up of blog posts including all the latest on my WIPS)

Mini-Bio and Contact Details

My Details
Author Site:

Finding Esta page:

A Mini Bio

Shah began meeting authors and book-worms galore when she started blogging less than three years ago. She’s learned a lot on her adventure, mostly from the awesome advice of her online peer-group.
Soon, she began using her imagination to write short stories as well as the poetry she’d always written. Soon after, one short story grew into Finding Esta, the beginning of Luna’s journey to self discovery.
Her passions include blogging, writing, reading, movies, photography and picture enhancement, music, theatre, travel, and fine dining. Her qualifications include BSc(Hons) psychology, counselling, mentoring.
She has one short story published & two poems published in anthologies, and plans to publish her first novel: Finding Esta – Book 1 of the Supes Series, in October 2012. The second in the Supes Series, she wrote during her first NaNoWrimo 2011 and will be published 2013.
Her favourite genres include anything dark with fangs and/or that will make her squirm or jump or scream out an expletive.  She is an avid Kindle abuser and adores the indie writing community and being part of the e-publishing revolution.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The One With Jewish Lesbians

One of the truly remarkable women of the late 20th-early 21st centuries - Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space - passed away on July 23rd of pancreatic cancer. She was only 61. She leaves behind her wife of 27 years (but not legally - and don't get me started on how unfair that is), Dr. Tam O'Shaughnessy, one of the few women in the world whose name is more Irish than mine.

July 23rd, 2012 was the one-year anniversary of the passing of Amy Winehouse. In honor of these two blessed memories, I've decided to follow through on what I said I'd do two weeks ago and dedicate a post to the some of the world's truly remarkable Jewish lesbians. (Sally Ride - not Jewish; Amy Winehouse - not lesbian - just to clarify. They are linked only by their death dates and my train of thought.)

First and foremost (at least in literary circles), there's Gertrude Stein (born 1874, died 1946). Says American Women Poets: Pioneers of Modern Poetry by Jean Gould, speaking of Stein's college experience, "At Radcliffe, the most important person in her life was William James, the eminent psychologist. He influenced her thinking and, to a certain extent, her career as well. She was his favorite student. On the day of her final exam, a very lovely spring day, Gertrude, who had been going to the opera every night, just sat there with the paper staring her in the face. She simply could not face answering the questions. Finally she wrote at the top of the paper, 'Dear Professor James, I am so sorry but really I do not feel a bit like an examination paper in philosophy today.' And she left. The next day she received a post card from James saying, 'Dear Miss Stein, I understand perfectly how you feel. I often feel like that myself.' And underneath he gave her the highest mark in his course."

The balls on that one! Gould also wrote of her, "Perhaps because of the gay liberation movement, Gertrude Stein's poetry is to the younger generation of the sixties and seventies what Edna St. Vincent Millay's sonnets of flaunted free love were to the 'flaming youth' of the twenties." Stein's wife was also her secretary, Alice B. Toklas.

The New York Public Library Literature Companion refers to her not only as a poet, but also "novelist, playwright, and essayist" and says, "Stein was at the center of the modernist literary artistic scene and counted Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway, and Ford Madox Ford among her intimates....Widely known for her bons mots and literary quips, Stein originated the line 'a rose is a rose is a rose' (in her Geography and Plays, 1922)."

QPB Anthology of Women's Writing quotes her The Making of Americans as saying, "I wish I had died when I was a little baby and had not any feeling, I would not then have to be always suffering." The anthology furthermore says, "Her style has been described as Cubist, as Steinese (gnomic, repetitive, illogical, sparsely punctuated) as straightforward ('Sentences must not have bad plumbing - they must not leak,' in her words to F. Scott Fitzgerald)."

In The American Women's Almanac, she's mentioned in the context of Harlem Renaissance author Nella Larsen. "Nella Larsen wrote to Gertrude Stein, praising her handling of the 'mulatto' character in her 1909 novel Melanctha, 'I never cease to wonder how you came to write it and just why you and not some one of us should so accurately have caught the spirit of this race of mine.'"

...although I'm sure than even in 1909, there were plenty of fine writers of African descent working in the English language. On the other hand, the mainstream media still to this day tends to ignore writers of color. When E. Lynn Harris died, for example, I didn't find out until a month later when I saw a library display in his honor, and he had multiple New York Times best sellers. So, it's possible that Larsen was unaware of some of the other writers working in her own community. 

Gertrude Stein may not have been a very good student of philosophy, but Judith Butler certainly was. (I say "was" not because Butler is deceased, but because she's no longer a student.) Between 1987 and 2011, Butler has published 20 books on philosophy, gender, sexuality, politics, violence and religion. Her most recent is The Question of Gender: Joan W. Scott's Critical Feminism (21st Century Studies)Butler's wife is the feminist/activist/philosopher/political scientist Wendy Brown. 

Butler could have a fascinating conversation with another Jewish lesbian, Rabbi Denise Eger. Raised in Tennessee, Reb Eger is now based in the Los Angeles area. She officiated the first legal wedding between two women in L.A. She's an expert on Judaism as well as a civil rights and HIV/AIDS activist. 

Another prominent name in Jewish lesbian sacred circles was Debbie Friedman, who passed away in January 2011. Friedman was a singer-songwriter-guitarist, and the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at Hebrew-Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is named in her honor. She has 22 albums to her credit.

Friedman's secular counterpart is singer-songwriter Janis Ian. Her most famous songs are "Society's Child" and "At Seventeen," the latter of which won her a Grammy. ("At Seventeen" has been used in three episodes of The Simpsons.) She's also a columnist, a huge science fiction fan who frequently attends conventions and a writer of short science fiction stories. 

Other Jewish lesbians from the entertainment world include comedian Julie Goldman and Ilene Chaiken, the screenwriter/director/producer responsible for Showtime's The L Word. 

So there you have it - a basic primer of some of the more famous lesbian women of Jewish descent. By the way, the Canadian writer Leanne Lieberman, who wrote the Jewish lesbian young adult novel Gravity? Not a lesbian. An author worth checking out, though. 

For further Internet stalking: Via Jinni T., a.k.a. The Purple Junkie, I stumbled upon the LGBTQ+ history blog KnowHomo, whence I discovered this graphic of LGBTQ+ Jews. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

This Blue Monday is Mary Magdalene Monday

One day late - in the church, the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene is July 22nd. Part of the reason she was such a popular art subject seems to be that she served as an early pin-up girl, an excuse to depict a beautiful, sensual woman. This 16th-century image is by Titian.
Sticks by you through your crucifixion. Mary Magdalene is  a  ridadie chick.
The companion of Jesus of Nazareth is an extremely popular subject in classical European painting. This image is by Luca Signarelli (1450-1523) and was painting in or around 1504, making it about 30 years older than the Titian. P.S. I totally love her shoes.
The story of the jar is recorded in Luke 7: 36-38 in the Christian Bible:

"36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them."

This image, by Domenico Piola (1627-1703), painted circa 1674, is called Magdalene in the Desert. It refers to a legend of Mary Magdalene in which she spent many years of her life after the resurrection of Jesus as a penitent, leading a semi-monastic life to make up for earlier sins. (Luke's account calls her a sinner, but never specifies what her sins might be. As we learned in the Epic Easter Post, Joan Borysenko identifies her with ancient Near Eastern temple priestesses, servants of the Great Goddess.) 
This image is of Blanche d'Antigny portraying the Penitent Magdalene. The photographer, Paul-Jacques-Aime Buadry, lived 1828-1886. This image is in the public domain.
She has been portrayed by Lady Gaga...

...and by the Italian-born actress Monica Bellucci**. (I remember her best as Persephone from the Matrix movies - although, like the Rosario Dawson character in Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, she's not a very powerful Persephone.)
Here she is in a contemporary image from Pinterest, still holding her jar.

This one is beautiful. It's unclear whether her white gown is supposed to represent her purity (in her penitent state, presumably) or her status as Jesus' bride. Both, perhaps? The doves are also ambiguously Christian or Goddess religion, symbols of both the Holy Spirit and Venus.

Here she is in the Eastern Orthodox icon style. In her hand, she holds a red egg. This comes from a folk legend about eggs turning from white to red when Jesus rose from the dead on the original Easter Sunday.

One of the most fascinating images you can find on Pinterest by searching "Magdalena" is the comic book The Magdalena. The series depicts a line of women, all descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdalene (and their fabled daughter Sarah, as mentioned in The Da Vinci Code), who inherit the Spear of Destiny (the spear that pierced the side of their ancestor Jesus on the cross) and fight to defend the Catholic Church.

The French version of the word Magdalene is Madeleine, which may remind you of the French breakfast treat. I ate them when I went to Spain.

So, in a way, you could honor Mary Magdalene by eating madeleines, reading Marcel Proust and getting your Remembrance of Things Past on. Just be sure to pronounce "Proust" to rhyme with "roost," or you may be mocked in song - see "Bitches in Bookshops."

** Sometimes, Bellucci remains in the Gucci name, but if the movie version of Jesus and Mary Magdalene were one of those couples who dressed alike, it might look something like this:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sookie Stackhouse: Racist/Misogynist?

Via my Facebook friend Tim Lieder (the editor of She Nailed a Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror - awesome short story collection you should read if you haven't already. I wrote the editorial review that appears on Amazon), I came across this article last night:

Its writer is ACrackedMoon, and the article's contention is that Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse novels are filled with racism and misogyny, and that Sookie herself is one of the worst offenders. Characters of color are disposable, women are incompetent man-stealing bitches and men are the answer to all of life's problems.

Charlaine Harris in a Creative Commons image by lbshopgirl
At the risk of my college Women's Studies professor tracking me down and slapping me upside the head with the collected works of Bell Hooks, I've never picked up on this in any significant way, and I've read every Sookie Stackhouse book there is. Granted, I did pick up on Pam making racially insensitive remarks to Tara on recent episodes of True Blood. But I never came to the conclusions that Moon does, calling Sookie "a judgmental fuckwad," "a petty, worthless little shit," and "an ignorant shitstain."

Actually, I think True Blood tried to present a less all-white, more realistic version of the racial makeup of Bon Temps, making Tara an African-American woman, and keeping Lafayette on as a character long after he'd been murdered in the book series.

Caught in the same net of misogyny are urban fantasy authors Jim Butcher and Laurell K. Hamilton. I've never read Butcher, and all I know of Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake is from a single short story I read in some anthology or other.

I wouldn't call Charlaine Harris "talentless," but I will be more aware of Sookie's biases when I read the final novel in the series. I did notice that Sookie was getting mentally tougher after all of her horrifying paranormal experiences, but I never thought of her as mean or as a "redneck stereotype." Moon's got a lot of vivid examples, though. Read the article and decide for yourself.

Southern Vampire Mysteries Gifts at Cafe Press


Now, about this movie version of From Here to Eternity from 1953; I watched it yesterday. I figured there were certain aspects of the novel that couldn't be portrayed in films in the early '50s, but it was still a bit shocking to see how much was actually left out. No Violet Ugure, for one thing. No Jack Malloy - the film script doesn't even have Prew going to the stockade. No stockade scenes whatsoever.

No Dana Holmes Jr., either. Instead of bearing Dynamite his heir, then having to have a hysterectomy after he gave her an STD, Karen had a hysterectomy after she went into premature labor and had a stillborn son. That was sad. It precludes the scene in which Junior comes home for lunch, and Milt Warden has to hide in the bedroom closet.

I'll always think of Burt Lancaster in terms of Elmer Gantry. What a great movie that is, based on a Sinclair Lewis novel (which I never read). Arrogant con man (like Sawyer on Lost - I'm up to mid-season 3) tries to roll a Salvation Army preacher, falls in love with her, makes her more worldly while he becomes more spiritual, culminating in great tragedy. Watch that if you haven't seen it already. But I digress.

Clearly, Prew and Lorene are the great love story of the movie, despite the famous beach scene between Karen Holmes and Milt Warden. When Karen and Milt say goodbye to one another, it's not a romantic scene at all. It's much better in the book, when she's trying to feel like he loves her without needing her sexually, and the best he can do to prove this to her is to make love to her without them having intercourse. Of course, that couldn't be filmed in 1953, so instead we have a very sterile scene with them on a park bench, a goodbye with no real emotion. When Lorene begs Prewitt not to go back to his company, it's much easier to believe she's actually offering to give up her life to be with him because she truly loves him. Of course, in the movie there's no implication that he slept with her roommate Georgette. Not that this made Prew a bad guy, necessarily, but he did tend to take advantage of an opportunity. 

Public domain image
The emotional climax for Milt Warden is listening to Prew play taps. This is also a very heartfelt and dramatic moment in the book, too. It calls for Burt Lancaster to convey a lot of sadness and thwarted admiration, mostly with his eyes, and it's very beautifully filmed. Monty Clift, playing with huge tears rolling down his cheeks, truly looks as if he's just lost his best friend. 

In the movie, you see, Prew is mourning the death of Angelo Maggio. Yeah, the movie killed off Maggio! The whole reason I liked that stupid kid (19 years old in the book, by the way - portrayed by 38-year-old Frank Sinatra) is that he was tough enough to take repeated beatings, fake (mostly fake? It's probably a little bit real, too) a mental illness and thus earn his discharge. Then he rides off into the sunset, off to Mexico to become a cowboy. But in the movie - dead. 

Also left out of the film is Isaac Nathan Bloom. Maggio's great drunkenness, for which he ends up in the stockade, stems in the book from Maggio and Prew going out on the town without money on the expectation that gay guys will buy them drinks, although clearly they do not expect to have to do anything in return for these drinks. Maggio, Prew and the two "queers" have a long, philosophical conversation about whether or not homosexuality is a choice - but again, this could not be filmed in 1953. So we don't have the scene with Bloom being investigated on suspicion of being a homosexual. Nor do we get the scene in which Maggio attacks Bloom for Bloom's crude sexual remark about Maggio's sister. In the movie, it's the late Ernest Borgnine as James "Fatso" Judson who whistles at a picture of Angelo's sister. Yeah, they bring in Judson a lot earlier than he appears in the book, and have Judson kill Maggio to give Prew a clearer motive for killing Judson. 

I miss Bloom, though, despite his unfortunate tendency to play the "you hate me 'cause I'm Jewish" card. He's like the Finnick Odair of From Here to Eternity: at first he just seems like a jerk and you kinda hate him, then you sympathize, and then he dies and you're like, "Oh, gawd, no!" 

So, no Bloom, no "rolling the queers," no Violet, no Malloy, no Junior, no long-term consequences from sexually transmitted diseases in the movie. You have to read the novel, or you're only getting a small portion of the story, with some of the humanity sweated out of it for the sake of a 1950s audience. The movie's a snack, but the book is a delicious buffet. 

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

In which I reach the end of 'From Here to Eternity' and approach 'The Thin Red Line'

I thought I would celebrate my having finished reading all 860 pages of From Here to Eternity with a few pictures. At first I was like, "Oh my god, James Jones, your book is so big. I don't know if it's going to fit - in my brain." Then I drank a glass of wine, and I was like, "Challenge accepted." 

The pictures are from the movie, of course. From IMDB. I haven't seen the movie yet (Netflix willing, tomorrow), so I can only base these on what I read. 

Men in the '40s were different from the men of today.

No, wait - they're exactly the same.

Of course, things do not end happily for Pvt. Robert E. Lee Prewitt. He's put himself in an untenable position - can't go back to the Army, can't stay away from it, either. In the end, it's just Karen Holmes and Alma "Lorene" Schmidt, returning to the mainland a little sadder and a little wiser. 

Obviously, Lorene and Karen should get together and have a torrid lesbian affair. Karene, they could be called. Men have been nothing but trouble for them. It would not hurt little Dana Holmes Jr. to have two mommies. That kid's got way too much testosterone for an 8-year-old anyway. 

Karen IS a bitch, but I respect her bitchhood. She's earned it. 

Now, onto The Thin Red Line, where there are no women, unless you count letters from Bell's wife. This one's only 417 pages - piece of cake. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Return of Blue Monday~Pin-ups and Hotties Read

On Mondays I hook up with Pinning! at A Night Owl Blog/Baxtron{Life}. On Wednesday, it's Oh, How Pinteresting! at The Vintage Apple. I haven't quite gotten over last week's Independence Day pin-ups, so this week's Blue Monday is themed around stylized hotties, with and without books in their hands. 

This is my Hotties Read board on Pinterest. This other board's titled Tattoo, Vintage and Pinup

Christian LaBoutin pumps, a dirty martini and cupcakes - aw hell yeah. Stalking the shit out of Kala L.'s Tumblr yields two kinds of rewards: Person of Interest fan stuff, and beautiful images of women of color. If it's pictures of Taraji P. Henson, both at the same time. 

“He Thinks I’m Too Good to be True” by Gil Elvgren, 1947

I adore vintage pulp fiction covers. Derrolyn Anderson's board of nothing but can be found here. 

Yes, we do.

The bait- er, bathing beauty. The bathing beauty. 

What else would a pier be for? 

A bare-chested man with a stack of books and a cup of coffee? Yes, please. 

George Clooney's shirt is on. Sorry. 

What are you pinning this week? 

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