Monday, February 22, 2016

#ReadBlackAuthors 'Hustling 101: Selling Your Talent Without Selling Your Soul'

This book does contain some useful advice, and for that reason, I would recommend it to young people (middle school, high school, and college students especially) who want to know how to make money and/or make the best use of their talents. It is a good beginner's guide to how to take care of yourself as able-bodied adults are generally expected to do.

I would have loved to give this book five stars, but it has a serious editing problem. I noted at least two places in which identical text is repeated on two different pages. It also contains a section of biographies of famous hustlers, and these are edited in a funny way, omitting some of the most well-known accomplishments of the individuals.

I became familiar with Rebecca Scott, who sometimes answers to the nickname Holly Hood, on YouTube. She's an absolutely fascinating woman: a native New Yorker, daughter of an African mom living in America and an Indian-American father, former musician (she still has a wonderful singing voice) and producer, occasionally homeless, physically disabled, deeply intelligent though self-taught, a Christian, a conspiracy theorist, a very kind woman, not perfect (as none of us are) but clearly well-intentioned. I certainly don't agree with everything she believes, but I try to listen to her with an open mind, because she does possess a good deal of wisdom, and a lot of the more practical things she suggests are spot-on.

So I really wanted to like this book, and it does have a practical value, but I do hope the author will come out with another edition that fixes the editing errors. If that happens, I will edit my review to reflect that there is newer edition available.

I purchased this book with my own funds from and was not obligated to review it in any way. As part of Black History Month, I'm making an effort to read and support authors of African descent.

Goodreads link:

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Mountains of Data, Explained in a Down-to-Earth Way

Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking)Dataclysm: Who We Are by Christian Rudder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me a really, really long time to read this book, but it wasn't the book's fault. Nearly every paragraph in there is fascinating.

The author is one of the founders of OKCupid, and as such he found himself sitting on top of a lot of data. It's astounding what kind of behavioral conclusions can be drawn, not from the individual profiles, but from aggregating the data across all the profiles.

Further, Rudder doesn't stick only to the data about male-female relations gleaned from OKCupid, such as the fact that as far as potential male mates are concerned, a woman has already reached her peak attractiveness slightly before her 21st birthday. He goes on to address other kinds of data gleaned from our social media postings and how it has been accessed and applied by other researchers. He delves into the implications of voluntarily giving up vast swathes of privacy, and the implications of accessing the vastest troves of knowledge the human race has ever been able to access.

He portrays the good, bad, and ugly faces of the Internet--and comes out surprisingly hopeful for the future of humanity.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Favorite #Grammys2016 Moments

You may recall from yesterday's post that I was eagerly, not-so-patiently awaiting the Hamilton performance on last night's Grammys telecast, as well as Lady Gaga's tribute to the recently deceased David Bowie. I wasn't disappointed by either of those musical moments! Here are some of my other favorites.

'Hamilton' genius creator/performer Lin-Manuel Miranda
Creative Commons image by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Taylor Swift started off the program with a performance of her "Out of the Woods," the latest single from her 1989 album. Meh. Personally I think the singles peaked at "Blank Space" and have been getting steadily less interesting ever since. "Style?" Pretty good song. I like the reference to James Dean and that Vampire Academy hottie Dominic Sherwood appears in the video. "Bad Blood?" Frankly, I think the song's a little cheesy. The "Band-Aids don't fix bullet holes" line is my favorite thing about the lyrics. "Out of the Woods" - I can barely even think of any of the lyrics other than:

Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we out of the woods yet?...

...You get the idea. Swift looked AMAZING, though, both in her daring two-piece red carpet ballgown and in the starlit bodysuit she performed in. (It did remind me a little of Beyonce's dark blue bodysuit on an awards show of several years ago.)

A performance I liked a lot better was Little Big Town's haunting live rendition of "Girl Crush." The song itself won 2 Grammys.

One thing I wasn't expecting to see during the Grammys was the trailer for the third Divergent Series movie, Allegiant. I found myself unexpectedly choked up by the sight of Shailene Woodley as Tris Prior.

Commercials give me feelings. I also choked up just a little bit when I saw the trailer for Tim Burton's Through the Looking Glass. Alice was following a blue butterfly, and when the butterfly spoke, it was in the voice of Alan Rickman, also recently deceased. The movie actually looks interesting - even though I don't love Johnny Depp's over-the-top Mad Hatter performance - but it's always bittersweet to see a beloved, late actor in one of their last roles. (See Also: Robin Williams in the surprisingly-good Night at the Museum 3.)

Shortly after the Through the Looking Glass spot, the Hamilton cast performed, and it was an exquisite pleasure. Equally moving, though? When the Hamilton cast recording won its Grammy, Lin-Manuel Miranda whipped out his acceptance speech and proceeded to perform it as a rap. This guy's a bona fide musical genius - to live at this moment is like being alive when George Gershwin put out Rhapsody in Blue.
Then, after I got Tit Elingtin hooked up on his dialysis machine, we could relax and enjoy Lady Gaga's David Bowie tribute. Which was amazing. The only thing I wished she'd have done differently was spend a little more time on "Rebel Rebel."

The part I really didn't think I would like, but that I ended up liking, was the tribute to Lionel Ritchie. Ritchie's music reminds me of my childhood- '80s kid here - but I can't exactly say I'm a fan. And, when I was a kid, "Hello" used to make me cry. It's not even a sad song, per say - more about longing than actual sadness. But I have some funny brain chemistry and slow-paced songs will sometimes affect me with mood contagion in a way that doesn't feel too good.

And yet! When Demi Lovato performed a fragment of "Hello," I genuinely enjoyed it.

But then, I like Demi Lovato. Maybe because she's a feminist. Maybe because she sang "Cool For the Summer," in which the heterosexual performer sounded decidedly heteroflexible for another girl. Great, very catchy song, and she looks incredibly sexy in the video.

My girl crush on Demi Lovato is not platonic.

Some parts of the Grammys show I really didn't care for. I didn't like the song Adele performed, which she co-wrote with Bruno Mars. I haven't been enjoying Adele's latest album much at all. None of the singles have been upbeat rockers like "Rolling in the Deep." But even if she hadn't had technical difficulties with the microphone on the piano, I still wouldn't have enjoyed the overly-sentimental song with lyrics that didn't make much sense.

I also didn't like the duet between Tori Kelly and James Bay much. (Both of them lost Best New Artist to Meghan Trainor, who was adorably flustered and tearful when she won.) Kelly's half of the performance was good, but Bay seemed like he was whispering, tentative, or not trying as hard as Kelly. He may be very talented, but I wouldn't have known it based on the Grammys.

We turned off the TV and went to sleep during the Vampires of Hollywood performance. Overall, it was a Grammys telecast well worth watching.

Monday, February 15, 2016

How to Play a Lovegame in 5 Gaga Steps

As I sit impatiently waiting for the Grammy Awards show with Lady Gaga's tribute to David Bowie (plus a musical number from the cast of Lin Manuel Miranda's brilliant show Hamilton), please enjoy this essay originally published at the now-defunct Oysters and Chocolate erotica website. 

Ever since the days of Sappho, poets and songwriters have been perfecting the art of the playful, uniquely worded verbal flirtation. It didn’t begin with Lady Gaga, but the pop superstar has both blatant sexuality and a way with memorable turns of a phrase. Pluck a few lines from her songs and you’ll find an intriguing roadmap for an erotic encounter with someone special. Go forth and have a wild, fashionable time in the name of Gaga.

Eyeliner and Cigarettes 

It starts with a look. Biologists will tell you the first stage of the human mating ritual is eye contact. Wide eyes signal interest; in fact, when we meet someone we’re really interested in, our pupils dilate. Eyeliner is an artificial way of making our eyes look bigger, a sort of cosmetic flirt. The effect can be especially striking on guys, for whom wearing make-up is a rebellious sign of going against society’s grain. Eyeliner instantly makes a guy look like a rock star, or like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. Either could be a very hot look.

A night of passion doesn’t have to begin with eyeliner, though. Whatever kind of flair makes you feel like a sexier, flirtier version of yourself will work. The cigarettes, likewise, don’t have to be literal. Cigarettes, like eyeliner on a man, could be anything rebellious. They could also represent what relaxes you, whether it’s a dirty martini, an aromatherapy bath, or a mellow iTunes playlist. Of course, all you phlegms fatale are welcome to light up if it’s what floats your boat. Indulge yourself in a moment of relaxation and a little flair before the big night to boost your confidence.

Got your relaxation on? Good. Do you look as good as you feel? Excellent. Now go where the night takes you--drinks, dinner, dancing, maybe even something that doesn’t start with D.

French Kissed on a Subway Train 

You’ve gone out, showed off your look and done whatever it is you two crazy kids do for fun these days. You’ve decided on his/her place or yours--now you have to get back there. Driving offers privacy, but you can’t drive with a buzz on. If you’re lucky enough to live in a city with a subway, elevated train or trolley car system, train cars can be an ideal spot for foreplay.

It may help to know the laws in your area about sex acts in public and semi-public places to know how far you can push it. In the U.K., public nudity and sexual expression are covered by the Sexual Offences Act of 2003. Sexuality activity is permitted in any place a couple can reasonably expect to have privacy, and an otherwise-empty subway car may fit that definition. In the U.S., laws vary by state, but you may face a fine or even probation if cited for disturbing the peace or public indecency.

Don’t let the legal mumbo-jumbo scare you off, though. Kissing and light petting aren’t likely to raise a legal eyebrow, and a public encounter can provide an intoxicating rush of adrenaline. Actor Mary-Louise Parker recommends hotel hallways for hanky-panky and calls the risk of getting caught “worth it every time.”

Leather Studded Kiss in the Sand

Like eyeliner, black leather with metals studs In the ‘50s, leather and studs were for bikers, and they were decidedly bad company. Cultural relics like Vaughan Monroe’s record “Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots” helped cement that rebellious image, and rock stars have been rocking the leather look ever since. On one hand, leather has mainstreamed. Designers like Michael Kors and Donna Karan continually draw inspiration for couture creations from vintage leathers. On the other hand, leather is increasingly politically incorrect as animal rights gain momentum.

Leather is also a fashion--and function--staple of the BDSM scene. If you’re feeling a tiny bit adventurous, spice up your night look with a studded leather collar, belt, or bustier. If you’ve got a mate with a foot or leg fetish, a pair of studded boots might be just the ticket.

For vegans and those who choose not to use animal products, there are an ever-increasing variety of sexy leather alternatives. Some are made of latex or acrylic, and others are blended microfibers. If faux leather shoes make you think of Birkenstocks, think again. You can find stylish leather alternatives from Charlotte Russe, Kate Spade, Steve Madden, Fantasia Wear, Victoria’s Secret, and perennial lingerie favorite Frederick’s of Hollywood, among many others.

Tempting as it is to have the classic From Here to Eternity moment on a tide-swept beach, the sand doesn’t have to be literal either. It can represent your mental “happy place.” The happy place is about more than mere relaxation; it’s about actively fantasizing about everything that makes you happy. Your fantasies are safely confined inside your mind, so go wherever your deepest desires want to carry you.

Love You With My Hands Tied

You’ve flirted with the BDSM look; now you might choose to kick the kink up a notch. You could try leather restraints, leashes, a body harness, a straightjacket or another type of full-body restraint. Bondage and sex toy sites, whether on the Internet or in your neighborhood, offer intriguing adult playthings for all sexual tastes.

If you’d like to try restraint play for the first time (or the first time with a new partner), use common-sense safety and comfort measures. Establish some boundaries and agree on a safe word that stops all play, no questions asked. Keep an eye on a person who’s restrained, and never cover up both the nose and mouth, especially when using a gag. Play delicately around the joints, face, neck and other body parts that can easily be injured, and realize holding one position for a long time can cause fatigue and discomfort. If you choose handcuffs, look for the kind that don’t tighten under pressure. Beyond these practical matters, your comfort level and imagination are the only limits.

Take a Ride on Your Disco Stick 

One couldn’t be blamed for associating the stick with a dick, making this step rather self-evident. In the spirit of Gagaesque sexual adventure, you may want to mix it up a bit. While shopping for the leather-studded kiss in the sand, you might have come across a variety of vibrators and dildos. There seem to be as many varieties of faux dicks as flowers in the springtime. You may also have seen a strap-on harness or two; consider this permission to experiment with pegging, if you’ve ever wanted to. Make no apologies for your desires, ‘cause baby, you were born this way.

If penetration isn’t your sexual cup of tea, feel free to focus less on the stick and more on the disco. Create an aural experience with music that puts you and your partner in the mood. If your LoveGame leads you toward female-dominated play, your soundtrack might include the Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs,” Tina Turner’s feminist-reclamation cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb,” and…well, lots of Lady Gaga’s songs.


Fisher, Helen E. March 31, 2010. “The Biology of Attraction.” Retrieved from the Psychology Today website:

July 26, 2007. “What IS Vegan Leather, Anyway?” Retrieved from The Gloss website:

Parker, Mary-Louise. March 26, 2009. “Why Having Sex in Public is Worth It (Every Time).” Retrieved from the Esquire website:

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. (n.d.) “PETA’s Shopping Guide to Compassionate Clothing: Companies That Sell Leather and Fur Alternatives.” Retrieved from the PETA website:

Thompson, Holly. December 11, 2010. “Sex in Public.” Retrieved from

Veaux, Franklin. March 7, 2011. “BDSM Safety and Common Sense.” Retrieved from the Xeromag website:

This is an affiliate link:

All In: 25 Erotic Stories by Emily Cantore. $4.99 from
25 erotic short stories from the hot and bothered mind of Emily Cantore! To buy individually would cost a bundle! More than 130,000 words of first-time lesbians, threesomes, girls experimenting, sex toys and much more. Guaranteed to warm you up and get your mind racing!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

'Blood Kiss' by J.R. Ward #paranormalromance #vampires

Wow. Wow. Wow.

This is a return to the good old days. It's everything you want in a Black Dagger Brotherhood novel, even though technically it goes under the Black Dagger Legacy label:

1. More Butch and Marissa is always a good thing. They're probably my third favorite pairing, after Zsadist/Bella and Qhuinn/Blaylock.

2. Paradise, a kickass new(ish) heroine! We did meet her in The Shadows, and her father Abalone has been around for several books now. But here, she is absolutely the central protagonist. She does kick ass, and the heart-warming twist at the end is that her father supports her fully, even in her choice of (non-aristocratic) mate.

3. Craeg, the non-aristocratic mate, is a hot, hot hottie. I love it when J.R. Ward includes a character who's a person of color. Well, unless she's going to be mean to them, like she did to Trez. **takes Trez away from J.R. Ward and hides him so she can't hurt him anymore**

4.  Novo is not only a woman of color, but also canon!pansexual. J.R. Ward, I think I'm in love. I really hope Novo is the protagonist of the next BD Legacy novel.

5. Peyton and Novo - I ship it. Two warriors, one a brown-skinned woman, one a suit-wearing white man, in love? Sounds like my ultimate OTP of OTPs, Careese. Fingers crossed for a happier ending, though. (The Scribe Virgin knows we can no longer count on Ward to deliver us the happier-ever-after, true?)

This is an affiliate link:

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

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"Girl Crush" A Destiel Fanfic in Pictures and Lyrics

I'm still obsessed. Please send help.

"Girl Crush"
Lyrics by Lori McKenna, Liz Rose, and Hillary Lindsey

I want her long blonde hair, I want her magic touch
Yeah, ‘cause maybe then you’d want me just as much
I got a girl crush, I got a girl crush

The way that she’s whisperin’, the way that she’s pullin’ you in
Lord knows I’ve tried, I can’t get her off my mind

I wanna taste her lips, yeah, ‘cause they taste like you
I wanna drown myself in a bottle of her perfume
I want her long blonde hair, I want her magic touch
Yeah, ‘cause maybe then you’d want me just as much

Monday, February 8, 2016

"Number Nine, The Potteresque," Pt. 3

Raven had Loki escort Persephone and Theodora upstairs.  Loki stopped outside a bright red swinging door.  “What’s in there?” Persephone asked.

“The locker room,” he said.  “You can lock up your valuables, shower, and change into a costume, if your fantasy involves a costume.  Which one did you pick again?”

“Number Seven.”

“Seven . . . that’s Raven’s favorite.  The ancient Greek pirate ship.  You can wear a pirate costume, if you like.  The seat of the wooden bench lifts up and the costumes are inside.  But for that one, I think you look fine the way you are.”

“Thank you,” Persephone giggled.  “Where do I go when I’m done freshening up?”

“At the end of the showers there’s another door.  It will take you to a hallway, and you look for your fantasy number on the door.  Knock on the door with the seven on it.  Your guy will be expecting you.”

“Thanks again.”  She handed Loki another tip and disappeared behind the red door.  Persephone noticed a long mirror.  She checked her makeup, but didn’t feel like she needed a shower until afterwards. "Theo?" she said.

"Yeah, Seph?"

"How do you think Jack will feel when I tell him I've been with another man?  Jack isn’t human, but he still has feelings.  He'll be jealous."

"Why should he be? Right now, he's probably got his fangs in some highly suggestable virgin's neck.  If she's really impressed with the way he sucks, he'll have his cock in her pussy before the sun rises."

"He does get horny when he feeds," Persephone admitted.

"So get yours, girl!  Jack will understand.  Either that, or you won't tell him."

"Thanks, Theo."  Persephone put on a fresh coat of lipstick and went off down the hallway until she found the number seven.

Theodora took off her clothes and showered.  She put on the costume Loki picked out for her.  It was a cute little thing, a blue schoolgirl’s uniform, complete with Mary Jane shoes.  She looked at herself in the mirror and laughed.  She could pass as a French schoolgirl, she was sure she could.  She tried out the prop that came with the costume, too, swishing and flicking her wand and watching the effect in the mirror.  Then Theodora went through the far door, into the hallway, and looked for the number nine.

She found herself within the stone walls of a castle.  There was a great fire roaring in the fireplace, and around it, four stout armchairs.  Outside the window, the sky was cloudless and lit by a shimmering silver moon.  She stepped inside and was suddenly aware of a young man sitting in one of the armchairs, watching the fire. In one hand he held what appeared to be a cherry lollipop.

Creative Commons image by KMHCandy
“Fleur Delacour,” the young man said with a heavy Bulgarian accent.

Bon soir, Viktor,” she answered in her best French accent.  “Is this something you do often, sitting alone staring into the fireplace?”

To her surprise, the sulky Bulgarian smiled at her.  “No, not often.  Only when I have much to think about.”  She came and sat on the arm of his chair.  Their eyes locked.  The boy had beautiful brown eyes, and the little bit of brown stubble on his chin was incredibly sexy.

“Are you worried about the tournament, Viktor?’

He shrugged.  “I’d be foolish if I weren’t a little worried.  But that’s not what I’m thinking about.”

“Let me guess,” said Theodora.  “You’re thinking about little miss perfect.”  She leaned in closer, so close that their noses were almost touching.  “Well, let me tell you something about her you might not realize.  She may be smart, and she may be pretty, but she’s in the same year as the little boy Harry Potter.  She’s a baby, Viktor.”  She closed her eyes and waited.  The wait seemed eternal.  She had almost given up and opened her eyes when she felt his lips against hers.  The kiss was brief.

 Afterward, she licked her lips and finished her thought.  “I am a woman.”

“Yes you are,” he said, leaning in to kiss her some more.  Only then did she notice the unusual flavor on his lips.  She sniffed at the lollipop.  Rather than cherry or strawberry, it smelled like human blood.

"A Honeyduke's specialty," he said. "Blood-flavored lollipops for vampires."

"You're a vampire?"

He nodded.  "Did you not suspect?  I am a student of the dark arts." He smiled widely, and she saw how long and sharp his canines were.  They were no prosthetics, either: the young dead man playing Viktor Krum in this fantasy scenario was really a vampire. He tossed his lollipop into the fire and said, "I lose my taste for candy so near the throbbing veins of a young Frenchwoman."

Carefully she maneuvered herself into his lap.  Viktor looked around to make sure they were alone, and then unbuttoned Theodora’s blue jacket.  Soon her uniform was lying on the floor in front of the fire.

Public domain
Viktor stood as Theodora settled into the chair.  His fur-lined cape was resting on the back of the chair.  He wore black pants and a black sweater, but shed them as Theodora watched.  She felt guilty then, because underneath his clothes, the boy playing Viktor in her fantasy looked so young.  She wondered if he was any older than twenty.  But then again, this was the Underworld, and he was a vampire.  He might have died hundreds, even thousands, of years ago.

Either way, he looked strong in the firelight, especially as took off his black sweater and exposed the hard angles of slick, gleaming muscles. His skin was pale bathed in the orange glow, making Theodora want to see more.  She reached up to help him with his zipper and quickly learned he wore nothing underneath his black pants.  His face exhibited pure gratitude as her hand caressed his cock.

 He smelled incredibly good; she wanted to take him into her mouth, but remembered what Seph had said about vampires.  Never breaking the connection between her hand and his dick, he helped her out of the chair, and the two of them tumbled onto the Persian rug.   They wrestled for position for a moment.  She let Viktor win, eventually, though Theodora was far stronger than she let on while she was play-acting.  She ran the palms of her hands over his rock-like muscle.  As he ascended to the top, Viktor took "Fleur's" face in both hands and kissed her passionately.  Like a teenager, his kiss was a bit rough; like a vampire, he nipped her with wickedly sharp fangs.  Her lip bled, and Viktor licked the blood away.

When Theo showed no signs of objecting to the bite, Viktor moved from her lips to her neck.  She inhaled his scent, sweet and exotic, like tropical fruit.  It was strange to feel his lips and tongue on her neck without feeling the warmth of his breath; he didn't breathe.  If his body was cold, she couldn't tell so near the hearth.

Viktor's knee gently pushed Theo's legs apart, and she complied with this bodily request, spreading her legs further.  As his cock entered her wet, waiting pussy, his fangs entered an artery in her neck.  Pain and pleasure swirled in a dizzying sensation in her brain.  She wasn't aware of how much blood he was taking, but his persistent sucking seemed to go on forever. So, too, did Viktor's hard, supernaturally quick, persistent fucking.  He seemed able to go forever.  Theo lost count of how many times she came, with no indication that Viktor was near his own crescendo. He had either a teenager's stamina, or centuries of practice, she was sure.

After his fangs retracted from her artery, though, Viktor's release came.  Theo enjoyed the feel of his cock pumping into her, his body shuddering on top of hers...and tried not to think about his bloody ejaculation.

They separated.  Theodora kissed his forehead tenderly as she picked her clothes off the floor.  She was covered in sweat, but she didn’t care.

When Theodora reached the locker room, she changed back into the clothes she came in with.  She didn’t bother to shower.  She liked the sweaty smell of boy clinging to her.  When Loki returned Theodora to the bar, she found Persephone waiting for her, sipping on a cosmo that might have contained cranberry juice or blood.  She smiled broadly.

“How was yours?”

“It was wonderful,” Persephone said.  “I mean, I really love Jack.  I can’t wait to return to the world of the living to be with him again.  But today was—well, what I think about sometimes when I’m with Jack.  How was yours?”

“Just like being in the book, except dirty.  I loved it.”

“Was he that good?”

“Totally.”  The women laughed.  Raven appeared and took Theodora’s drink order.

“And could we see a food menu now, please?” Persephone asked.  Raven nodded and produced one from under the bar.  “I’m starving.  Are you hungry, Theo?”

“Like the wolf,” Theodora said, giggling.

The End

Creative Commons image by Rick A.
Like A God's Kiss: Erotic Mythological Tales

Sunday, February 7, 2016

"Number Nine, The Potteresque," Pt. 2

After Jack’s death and rebirth, Persephone needed a little cheering up.  Theodora said she’d heard of a little place, and persuaded Persephone to put on one of her good dresses, brush on a little makeup, and go out for a couple of margaritas.

Public domain
They got in Persephone’s car and drove past the fields of colorless flowers, past the place where the nameless dead made their homes.  Few were the dead who remembered their own names and who they were in life.  Among those who did were Raven Rachel Templin and the many beautiful young men who resided in her inn.  One of these men, dressed in a fine old tuxedo, answered the heavy wooden door when Persephone knocked on it.  When he saw the goddess, he bowed low.

“Good evening, Your Majesty,” the well-dressed boy said.   “My name is Loki; please allow me to be your host tonight.  What may I do for you?”

“Loki, rise.  I want you to treat me as you would any other guest tonight.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“My friend and I would like to sit at the bar.”

Loki looked around, but he saw no one accompanying Persephone, other than a large silver-gray wolf.  “You and your wolf would like to sit at the bar, ma’am?”

Persephone nodded, as Theodora stood on her hind legs and regained her human form.  They each slipped a bright jewel into Loki’s pocket as a tip as he showed them to the bar.

Behind the bar tonight was none other than the proprietor herself.  Raven was a an olive-skinned woman whose long, curly black hair was tied back in a scarf and covered with a wide-brimmed straw hat, as if she still needed protection from the sun glinting off the Caribbean sea.  She wore string after string of pearls, in all colors from palest pink to shimmering black.

“You’d been Persephone, Queen of the Underworld,” Raven said.  Then, turning to Theodora, “I am not sure of your name, mademoiselle, but welcome.  I trust Loki saw you in with the utmost respect.”

“He did,” Persephone agreed.  “But Theodora and I want to be treated like regular guests.  Can you make us a couple of margaritas?”

“Frozen or on the rocks?”

“Rocks,” said Theodora.  In a moment, Raven set two glasses down, with lime slices and the salt shaker.  The women drank in silence until Raven wandered off.

“Can I tell you a secret about Jack?” Persephone said quietly.

“Of course, girl,” Theodora answered.  “You and I are like sisters.  You can tell me anything.”

Persephone giggled and confessed.  “Jack’s a vampire, right?  So he’s all about the oral thing.  Even though his teeth are kinda sharp, he’s really good at going down on me.  But when I go down on him . . .”

“What?” Theodora prompted, leaning in closer.  “You can tell me.”

“He’s not like the human guys that I went out with in high school.  When he comes, I mean.  Jack doesn’t have--well, he doesn’t have cum like human guys do.”

“So—what happens?  You’re blowing him, and he comes, and then nothing?”

“I wish,” said Persephone, still giggling, her cheeks glowing red.  “Nothing would be a nice change.  No, when I suck him off, I get a mouthful of...blood.”

Theodora almost choked on her margarita.  “Seph, that's disgusting.”

“I know,” Persephone said.  “If it was any other guy, I wouldn’t put up with it.  But Jack is so sweet, and since I’m doomed to live half my life in the Underworld anyway, I can’t think of anyone I’d rather spend my time with.  I can’t wait to see him again on the first day of spring.  But lately I’ve been thinking about, just once, being with a guy who’s human.”

Raven reappeared, holding a bright pink menu.  “Would you ladies like see my special menu?” she asked, setting it down in front of Theodora.

“I’m not hungry,” Persephone said.

“It’s not food,” Theodora said.  “Look, Seph.  These are all kinds of different fantasies you can get a guy to do with you.”

“A guy or two,” Raven corrected.  “Or more.  Not my thing, really, but girls these days like all kinds of things.  If you’re not interested in the fantasies, though, the back page shows you the basics.”  She flipped over the menu.

Theodora traced her finger along a line on the back page.  “There you go, Persephone.  A straight blow job is the cheapest thing on the menu.  Your fantasy, and a bargain to boot.”

“None of your guys are vampires, are they?” Persephone asked Raven.

“I have several vampires, naturally.”

Persephone stared at the menu for a moment longer, and then said, “I’ll have the Number Seven...but I want a human guy.  No vampires.”

Dionysus and the pirates...very edgy,” Raven said.  And for you?”

“Hmmm,” said Theodora, surveying the menu again.  “I’ll go with Number Nine.”

Like A God's Kiss: Erotic Mythological Tales

Saturday, February 6, 2016

"Number Nine, The Potteresque," Pt. 1

Peter Thackeray LeBon had been dead since 1830.  The monotony of his eternal punishment was starting to get to him.  He stood before the bathroom mirror, looking into his hollow blue eyes, asking himself for the millionth time how he could have ended up here, slave to that woman--if she was a woman.

“LeBon,” Maman Brigitte called from the bedroom.  “What is taking so long?  Get out here!”
Her voice, deep and booming with its Caribbean accent, sent chills through his body.  He feared her.  And there was no way to escape.

He opened the bathroom door and emerged, wearing nothing but a towel.  Maman Brigitte lay across her enormous feather bed, her gown of black velvet, lace and human bone pulled up and bunched up around her belly, revealing her long, chocolate-brown legs and black panties.

Brigitte sat up and brushed the bleached-blonde locks from her eyes.  She pointed to a pair of black leather pants at the foot of the bed.  “Drop the towel,”she commanded.  “Put those on.”  He obeyed, painfully aware the death-goddess was studying his every move.

“What’s the matter, LeBon?” she asked as he crouched down to kiss the top of her foot.  “Do you not enjoy being my slave?  Raven thought you would really enjoy this, since you loved the slave trade so much in life.”

“That was so long ago,” he said.  Every morning when he awoke, he cursed Raven Templin and wished he had never laid a hand on Raven’s friend Badu.  Badu, it turned out, was a priestess of the goddess Yemaya.  Yemaya, in another form, was none other than Maman Brigitte herself.  He would spend eternity doing whatever Brigitte/Yemaya wished.

Creative Commons image by Africaarianna
Right now, she wanted him to eat her pussy.  Brigitte stared up at the Baroque golden cherubim decorating the ceiling as LeBon worked his way up her calf, up her thigh, and into her panties, the way she'd trained him.  Suddenly, Brigitte was distracted by a scratching noise at the door.

“LeBon, be a dear and see who’s at the door,” Brigitte moaned.

Relieved, he opened the door.  He looked down and saw the raised paw of a large, silver-gray wolf with a white belly. The creature looked at him with curious yellow-green eyes.

“It’s a wolf,” LeBon said.

Maman Brigitte came nearer.  “Theodora!  Well, this is a surprise.  Don’t be a stranger, dear.  Come in.”

The wolf took a few steps back and turned its furry head.   A moment later it turned back to the doorway with a basket between its jaws.  Maman Brigitte took the offering, peering inside to find a green glass bottle stuffed with habanero peppers floating in dark rum.

“Theodora, you didn’t have to.  But I’m glad you did.”  Brigitte offered the bottle to LeBon, who gratefully took a long drink.  The potent mixture of hot peppers and rum burned his throat, but momentarily took him away from his surroundings.  What was left in the bottle he returned to Brigitte, who finished it.  She belched as the wolf stood on its hind legs and transformed into a woman.

Public domain

“Well, bitch,” Brigitte said, “what brings you to my humble abode today?”

“Humble?” Theodora said as she looked around the room.  “Your house is covered in gold.”  Like Brigitte, she had a Caribbean accent.

“I was being polite,” Brigitte said.  She gave LeBon a hard slap to the back of the head.  “What brings you here today, my friend?”

“The Underworld brings me here today, in fact,” Theodora said.  “I’ve heard rumblings, strange mutterings having to do with the Queen.”

Brigitte shook her head.  “I don’t know what kind of crowd you’ve been hanging out with, to have heard something like that.  But you’ve hit upon a truth.  Persephone hasn’t been at all happy lately.  But you know the rules.  As gatekeeper of the Underworld, I’m not supposed to let any mortals down there.  ”

Theodora frowned.  “But Persephone and I have been friends since high school.  I know a good way to cheer her up, if you’ll let me.  Come on now, Maman Brigitte.  There are always exceptions to the rule, aren’t there?”

“I can think of one or two,” Brigitte said.  “I suppose I can allow it.  But only this once, and only if you make a promise to me.  Give me your hand.”

Brigitte reached for Theodora’s hand, cupping her visitor’s honey-brown hand inside her own.  She drew a dagger from her boot and cut a deep line into Theodora’s palm, which began to bleed and dribble down her wrist into the marble floor.  She made a similar slit in her own hand.  The women pressed their palms together in a blood oath.

“What have I sworn to, my goddess?” Theodora asked.

“After you’ve passed back to the world of the living, you will be given one day to return to my dwelling with a larger offering.  No mere bottle of rum and peppers this time.  I want a feast, like the ones my followers used to leave in the graveyards for me in the olden days.”  She pressed a black handkerchief into Theodora’s hand to stop the bleeding.  “I want you to bring your drum.  Play for me, and sing me some of my old-time praises.”

“You’ll have your feast, goddess, I assure you.”

“Good,” Brigitte said.  "Now let’s get you through that gate.”

The women went through Brigitte’s mansion and out the French doors into the garden.  Among the birds of paradise and palm trees stood the stone gate that marked the entrance into the Underworld.
 Brigitte uttered the words only she knew, and the gate swung open.  A cold breeze blew in from the other side.

Theodora got down on her hands and knees to resume her wolf form.  She walked on four legs into the eerie world of the dead, her front paw stinging from the cut.  She reached the river of blood first.
 Had she been human, the ferryman would have asked her for fare to cross.  Since she appeared as an animal, however, the ferryman took no notice of her.  She jumped with a great splash into the red river, inhaling its musky, meaty perfume.  When she reached the far shore, she shook herself, then sat for a moment to lick the blood from her silvery coat.  She walked on, past the fields of unearthly colorless flowers, until she came to the palace of Hecate, Goddess of Death, where Persephone dwelled as Queen of the Dead for six months of every year.  She jumped right into the palace through an open window and headed for the tower where Persephone stayed with her lover, the vampire Jack Damuzi.

Theodora climbed the winding stone stairs to the tower, resuming her human shape as she climbed.  She lifted the brass knocker and knocked on the heavy wooden door.  Two minutes later, the door swung open.  Jack stood there, looking unusually pale even for a vampire, his red-brown eyes streaked with bloody tears.

“I heard the terrible news,” Theodora said sympathetically.  “May I see Seph?”

“Persephone,” Jack called softly into his quarters.  “You have a visitor.”

Jack opened the door wide, and Theodora could see Persephone lying face-down with her head on her pillow, sobbing.  She looked up to see Theodora, but did not stop crying.  Theodora sat beside her and stroked Persephone’s hair to comfort her.  “I’m so sorry,” she whispered.

Jack sniffed the air.  “You’ve been in the river of blood, haven’t you?”  He moved in closer to Theodora, picking up her hand.  “ And you’ve cut yourself, too.  Very recently.  I can smell how the blood is clotting.  It smells old and stale at the surface, but the fresh blood underneath is tempting.
 Just now I sensed that your heart started beating faster.  Am I making you nervous, Theodora?  I’m sorry.  I get overwhelmed when I smell living blood.  Seph, darling, would it bother you terribly if I took one tiny nibble of Theodora’s neck?”

“Yes,” Persephone sobbed.

“This is precisely the problem,” Jack explained sadly.  “First Persephone came down here, and she’s not dead.  Against my better judgement, I fed off of her.  But although there is no blood in the world as delicious as that of a young goddess, Persephone only aroused my appetite for the blood of the living without bedding it back down.  I tried to satiate myself.  I practically sucked Persephone dry, the poor thing.  That was when Hecate made the fateful decision to send me out into the world of the living for three months.”

Theodora nodded.  “I heard through the grapevine you were going to be born.”

“Yes,” Jack said.  “In three days’ time, when the Winter Solstice comes around, a mortal shall give birth to me.  Hecate chose a virgin, appeared to her in a dream and made her pregnant.  Next Hecate will perform an ancient ritual that will kill me here in the Underworld, so that I may be born as that child.”  Here Persephone gave a loud sob.  “In three months’ time I will grow from an infant into the man that you see before you now.  At the Vernal Equinox, Persephone will return to the world of the living, and we shall be reunited.”

“You see, dear?” Theodora said sweetly.  “There’s hope.  You’ll see Jack again.  In three months, you’ll get to be reunited with your true love.  It sounds wonderful.  Can’t you look forward to the reunion?”

Persephone raised her head off the pillow.  “I guess I never thought about it like that,” she said, wiping tears and mascara from her eyes.  She gave Theodora a kiss on the cheek.  “Thank you.  Will you stay with us until . . . after?”

“Of course,” Theodora said.  “That is, if it’s all right with Jack.”

“Fine with me,” shrugged Jack.  “It would be even finer if you let me have just a little bite . . .”

“No,” Theodora and Persephone said in unison.

Hecate with dog. Public domain within the United States

Like A God's Kiss: Erotic Mythological Tales

Friday, February 5, 2016

Historical Person with No Right To Be So Good-Looking: Lewis Powell

Look at Lewis Powell. Look at him.

Public domain.
He's so handsome he looks like he should play an antihero in a Marvel Comics Universe movie. Yet this historical hottie has absolutely no right to look so attractive. He is, in fact, an attractive sociopath who had no problems taking part in a conspiracy to brutally murder up to four people, as part of the larger conspiracy to assassinate president Abraham Lincoln.

I read about Lewis Powell and his better-known co-conspirator, John Wilkes Booth, in Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard.

Mr. Tit Elingtin scoffed when I told him I was reading one of Bill O'Reilly's books. We're not very much fans of Mr. O'Reilly's loudmouthed talk show on Fox News - or anything that's on Fox News, really. (As a person of Middle Eastern descent, I often come away from watching Fox News with the feeling that I'm being blamed for something I haven't done. This is a familiar feeling to Jewish persons, but not one of which we are fond.)

Perhaps my husband would be happier if, instead, I had chosen to read Fox News Fuckfest.

(Yes, that's a real book, a piece of "bizarro erotica." I wouldn't necessarily be opposed to reading it someday, just out of curiosity.)

To be perfectly fair, it should be noted that the co-author with the real experience in historical research and writing is Mr. Dugard.

Let it be further noted that I purchased this book off my Irish Granny's want list. I bought it from Better World Books, then gave it to her, and she read it. Then my dad read it. When he was done it passed back to me, and I read it, and then I'll re-donate it Better World Books to await its next reader(s).

Bill O'Reilly notwithstanding, this was a fascinating little slice of American history. I knew a little bit about Booth being part of a larger conspiracy, but I never knew the details. The story of Mary Surratt, the only woman ever executed by hanging in the U.S., is quite sad. She didn't really do anything wrong, but got swept up in the fervor to punish Lincoln's killers because of the actions of her son.

Lewis Powell was a scumbag, but his last act was one of compassion, declaring before the crowd (100 people won a sort of lottery to witness the hangings) that Mary Surratt was innocent. But that still doesn't excuse the fact that he savagely beat Secretary William Seward, Seward's son Frederick, and Frederick's wife, leaving all three for dead. He was also very rude to the Sewards' butler, William Bell. He called Mr. Bell a very bad name such as only the likes of Draco Malfoy or Donald Trump would use.

But the Sewards survived, and William Seward would go on to purchase Alaska for the United States (known at the time as "Seward's folly" before oil and gold were discovered there. Now that Sarah Palin has been discovered there, maybe we should go back to calling it a folly again).

So the unfairly handsome Lewis Powell probably deserved his fate, to be hanged by the neck until he was dead.

Why is it always the sexy people who get hanged?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Black History Month Reads #1: #Nonfiction by Manu Ampim

Goodreads book description: Supposedly given in 1712, the "Willie Lynch Speech" is widely believed to be authentic. Actually, as revealed in this book, it is an amateurish and malicious hoax. Unfortunately, many people taken in by this hoax have spread and championed it. An extreme example of this championing occurred in 1995 at the Million Man March. There, the "Willie Lynch Speech" was dramatically repeated. Marchers and millions around the world who witnessed the March through television and radio were presented with this hoax as fact and history.

In the Death of Willie Lynch Speech, Professor Manu Ampim exposes the myth of Willie Lynch. Ampim does this by documenting the 20th century origin and fraudulent history of the "Willie Lynch Speech" and speculating, correctly, about the author's identity--forcing the admitted hoaxer to confess.

This volume contains the fake "Willie Lynch Speech," correspondence between Ampim and the admitted hoaxer, and the hoaxer's confession.

Death of the Willie Lynch Speech: Exposing the MythDeath of the Willie Lynch Speech: Exposing the Myth by Manu Ampim

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Professor Manu Ampim, an African-American historian who specializes in Africana, uses his extensive knowledge of American history to thoroughly debunk a stubborn urban myth with new legs in the Internet era. This is a brief collection of letters and essays that can be read fairly quickly, making it ideal for group study, including in high school and college classrooms. In addition to the historical debunking itself, the book also provides readers a number of suggestions with which to research historically accurate (and thus more useful) firsthand sources on the African-American experience.

This was an ebook I checked out from the library through I was not obligated in any way to review it. This review represents my own honest opinion.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

#Nonfiction: 'Tinder Box: The Iroquois Theatre Disaster 1903'

Tinder Box: The Iroquois Theatre Disaster 1903Tinder Box: The Iroquois Theatre Disaster 1903 by Anthony P. Hatch

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is really well-written and well-researched, but what happened in 1903 is so terribly, terribly sad. Seriously, don't read this book if you'll be disturbed by gruesome injuries and deaths caused by horrible accidents. Not only was there a fire, but there was a panic, and the poor design of the theater caused a lot of deaths by crush asphyxia, a particularly horrible way to die.

But if you can stomach the nauseating details, it's a fascinating glimpse into life in Chicago in the early 20th century, a scathing look into the devastation caused by Gilded Age laissez-faire capitalism, and an importance lesson for the public spaces of today. This book is about 10 years old now, but the importance of preventing panics in theaters is very high when now we have to worry about random acts of violence, such as the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting.

This was a library book I checked out from, and I was not obligated to review it in any way. This review represents my own honest opinion.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Inspirational Fiction: "The Crystal Ship" by Oliver Frances

The Crystal Ship is an inspirational fable by Oliver Frances. I received an e-book copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way for reading the book.

Since Frances uses the very poetic language of fairy tales and fables, it may be necessary to read this book more than once before the reader completely understands the narrative thread. So, for the sake of convenience, here is a chapter outline (omitting 10 and 11, which are largely rhetorical).

1. A child playing in a garden wanders among some oak trees, soon finding himself lost in the woods.

He tries to hide behind a tree, but its branches open up like arms. The boy then witnesses a strange parade of men (or perhaps angels), leading a man dressed in rags whose rags burn him alive.

2. The reader learns the child is named Frederick, and that he'll be referred to in the narrative as Our Wise Man. He has been a handsome youth, but now he's growing older. Frederick sits in his parlor contemplating his relationship with the young man he mentors. He falls asleep and dreams about a courtroom with walls that appear to be made of a blue gas.

Frederick sees a trial being prosecuted by Satan himself, with angels serving as the defense. He is accused of not coming to the aid of the burning man, whom it turns out is the father who abandoned him and his mother.

3. In the course of the trial, the reader learns of a pair of lovers, and Frederick's soul is accused of instructing an ignorant young man, to the young man's ruin.

4. Waking from his dream, Frederick meets his mentee, Tino. Tino is also called "the coastal boy" because he comes from a small coastal village.

5. Frederick and Tino read Don Juan by Lord Byron. Tino picks up on a reference to Simon de Bolivar. Frederick tells Tino Bolivar's story, explaining that Bolivar liberated his people only to become as bad as the Spanish.

6. Frederick attends the Festival of Madonna to teach Tino a lesson about the vanity of religion. He tells Tino that Jesus was the only man who was never vain.

7. Tino witnesses the death of a young woman who is mourned by her grandparents. Tino thinks he is wise by being detached rather than grieving, but Frederick reminds him knowledge for its own sake leads to grief, and that real wisdom demands love.

8. Frederick and Tino travel to Venice. Here Tino learns that no one, not even Jesus, knows what their mission on Earth is before it's time for them to know it.

9. Tino breaks into Frederick's house in the middle of the night. He's been reading the letters from the deceased young woman and is upset. Frederick reminds Tino about how cold Tino was to her, instructing Tino that loyalty is essential for love.

12. During the trial of Frederick's soul, we learn that the young woman died by suicide. Frederick is accused of abandoning Tino, who now lives a lonely existence in the coastal village of his birth.

Frederick is found guilty.

13. Frederick's soul is taken away to be punished for his crimes. Too late, he realizes all the pain he has caused. Hypocritically, he wasn't any more loyal to Tino than Tino was to the young woman who took her own life.

At the very end of the tale, Jesus appears and says, "My beloved son, everything is love."

Book clubs and church groups may find it a good fable to read and discuss. It contains no vulgar language or adult situations, and so it is appropriate for everyone approximately 12 and up. There are a few misspellings and errors here and there, but they don't keep the reader from being able to understand the story.