Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Two Songs That Actually Deserve to Be Banned From Radio

I'm an erotica writer, so I aggressively defend freedom of speech. I write whatever I want, and so should songwriters. That said, I don't read my erotica on the public airwaves. If you want it, you have to seek out a copy. Here, I'm advocating for these songs to be for sale to anyone who chooses to seek them out, but removed from public airwaves. 

I think it's fine for adults who are able to exercise critical thinking skills to listen to them, but I wouldn't necessarily inflict them on younger minds with less ability to consume media thoughtfully. 

1. "Brown Sugar," The Rolling Stones

This should really be a no-brainer.

"Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields,
Sold in a market down in New Orleans.
Scarred old slaver know he's doin' alright.
Hear him whip the women just around midnight."

Human trafficking. You're talking about kidnapping women and selling them into slavery. That's human trafficking, and it's the lowest of the low of all human activities.

The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll: The Definitive History of the Most Important Artists and Their Music
I can hardly think of anything more disgusting and evil - yet no one seems repulsed by this song. Rolling Stone magazine named it one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Wikipedia notes:

"The lyrical subject matter has often been a point of interest and controversy. Described by rock critic Robert Christgau as 'a rocker so compelling that it discourages exegesis,'[7] 'Brown Sugar''s popularity indeed often overshadowed its scandalous lyrics, which were essentially a pastiche of a number of taboo subjects, including slavery, interracial sex, cunnilingus, and less distinctly, sadomasochism, lost virginity, and heroin.[8]"

7 Robert Christgau "Rolling Stones". The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll. 1976 (accessed 24 June 2007).
8 Unterberger, Richie. The Rolling Stones "Brown Sugar". allmusic. 2007 (accessed 25 April 2007).

Yes, rock critic Robert Christgau is a Caucasian male. I have a feeling Caucasian males feel less of a need to understand this song than women and also men of color do. Nothing's at stake in it for the white male.


The cunnilingus ("how come you taste so good") and sadomasochistic tinges wouldn't be so controversial, though, if we were talking about consensual sexual activities between adults. However, it seems clear from context we're dealing with African women being held captive and raped by white men.

This would be disturbing enough, but the creepy factor goes off the charts once you realize these lyrics were written by Mick Jagger, a white man who is the father of Karis Hunt, whose mother, the American actress, model, and novelist Marsha Hunt, is of African descent. He can respect a dark-skinned multiracial woman enough to have a romantic relationship and a daughter with her. Yet song lyrics that don't degrade women of color to the status of commodities and objects to be sexually abused seem beyond his comprehension. Again, I quote Wikipedia:

"After noting that the lyrics could mean so many lewd subjects, he again noted that the combination of those subjects, the lyrical ambiguity was partially why the song was considered successful. He noted, 'That makes it... the whole mess thrown in. God knows what I'm on about on that song. It's such a mishmash. All the nasty subjects in one go... I never would write that song now.' When Jann Wenner asked him why, Jagger replied, 'I would probably censor myself. I'd think, "Oh God, I can't. I've got to stop. I can't just write raw like that."'"[6]

6 "Jagger Remembers". Rolling Stone. 14 December 1995.

"Raw" is a bit of an understatement. Still, Jagger may have become a bit more enlightened since the 1970s -- but "Brown Sugar" hasn't. This song has got to go.


That said, Mick Jagger is still alive. Petition for him to re-record the song with completely different lyrics? 

2. "Cocaine," Eric Clapton. Miley Cyrus was widely criticized because her song "We Can't Stop" included the lyrics "dancing with molly" and "tryin' to get a line in the bathroom." The flak was presumably because of her previous "good girl"/Disney image and the presumptive young age of many of her fans. The same critics probably assume young people don't listen to "classic rock" radio, which is why Eric Clapton gets a pass to sing "If you want to hang out, you've got to take her out" about the extract of coca leaves.

Hip hop songs have to bleep out even veiled marijuana references, but Eric Clapton's paean to cocaine seems immune from these kinds of precautions. If we seriously intend to get drug references off the public airwaves, we need to start with this blatant love song to a drug that causes heart arrhythmia, heart attacks, strokes, irrationally violent behavior, nasal perforation, permanent lung damage, ulcers, and sudden kidney failure. Not to mention, it creates a criminal demand responsible for the deaths of countless law enforcement officers and innocent civilians.

You can read more about the effects of cocaine at WebMD

Some will claim this is actually an anti-cocaine song. If one of these is you, please use the comments to explain how, because I don't see it.


Both of these examples come from "classic rock" radio, which I sometimes listen to at work with my husband. Beyond the issues raised about these specific songs, classic rock heavily features the styles, words, attitudes, and preferences of white male artists over female artists and male artists of color. On the station I usually tune in to, I hear a small number of white women's voices: Grace Slick, Stevie Nicks, Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Deborah Harry, and Chrissie Hynde. I love them all, but they are only six women. 

Men of color are represented solely by Santana and Jimi Hendrix. Women of color as lead singers are entirely absent, unless we count Merry Clayton's vocals on the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter." Because it focuses so narrowly and excludes a lot of amazing artists, classic rock radio is very problematic for me. 

But I like some of the songs, though. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Why Do We love Vamps? In a Word: They’re Hot - Suz deMello Guest Post

Like great chocolate, vampires are smooth, seductive and dangerous. They're invariably wealthy because they prey upon whoever they please and can steal for a living if they choose. Anne Rice's Lestat is the classic example.


And many female fans enjoy the fantasy of losing control to a sexy, dominant male. On top of that, our culture worships the young and the beautiful.

In my writing, I emphasize not only the vampires’ sensuality, but also their unnatural strength and speed. In Rakes in Tartan, my hero, Tor Kilburn, doesn’t box or fence to stay in shape, but he “flies”—or appears to. Here’s his version of taking a relaxing jog at night:

Tor stood on the roof of the manse he shared with Andrew. Though the home was centrally located near Piccadilly, the misty streets ’round about were deserted at this extremely late hour. The quarter-moon’s light struggled through the low-hanging fog and gleamed on damp cobbles and pavements. Few lamps broke the darkness. Silence reigned. Not even the turd wallopers were abroad, though the olfactory evidence of their foul cargo floated above the lanes.

He stretched, enjoying the freedom he felt, having stripped off the confining jacket and snug knee-breeches required for entry into Almack’s. Cloak flapping over plain trousers, he leaped to the next building, then to the next and the next. He landed squarely on a girder supporting the glass roof of the Burlington Arcade, knees half-bent.

He sprinted along the girder, then jumped again, arms spread wide. The breeze caught his black cape and helped him across Piccadilly, enabling him to land soundlessly on the roof of Fortnum and Mason.

He enjoyed his hobby as much or even more than he had in Oxford. ‘Twas a lively town but lacked the number and variety of buildings London boasted. Though he had become intimately acquainted with the several colleges comprising Oxford, the sameness of the Gothic architecture had lost his interest. London was large, diverse and highly entertaining...

Oh, and yeah: he’s hot.


Rakes in Tartan by Suz deMello                                                              

Setting: London 1816

The social season promises both sex and danger for Torquil Kilburn and Andrew MacReiver, Highland heirs arrived in London to seek brides. The Scotsmen must  negotiate the complicated morĂ©s of high society to woo and win an exquisite debutante and her passionate, unconventional mother while keeping their vampire heritage a secret.

But evil stalks the ballroom at Almack’s, the streets of Piccadilly, the drawing rooms of the ton. Headless bodies have been found drained of their blood, for another vampire haunts the streets of London, murdering noblemen. As he draws ever closer, Tor and Andrew must fight not only for love, but for their lives.

Buy it here:

About the author:

Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written seventeen romance novels in several subgenres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s worked for Total-E-Bound, Liquid Silver Books and Ai Press, where she is currently Managing Editor. She also takes private clients.

Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.

A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.


--Find her books at http://www.suzdemello.com


--For editing services, email her at suzswift  (at) yahoo.com

--Befriend her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sueswift

--Visit her group page at https://www.facebook.com/redhotauthorscafe

--She tweets her reading picks @ReadThis4fun and @Suzdemello


Monday, April 21, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

Today I've been tagged by Shah Wharton to take part in the My Writing Process Blog Tour. Shah answered four questions about her writing process, then tagged me. I answered the questions. Then, in theory, I was supposed to tag three wonderful authors whose answers I want to read. They would post their answers on their own blogs next Monday.

However, I had no takers. So here are my answers.

1)     What am I working on?

I've just complete re-editing and re-releasing the first two novels in my Pagan Spirits trilogy, Beltane and Midsummer Night. I'm currently working on the ending novel of the trilogy, St. James' Day. I've written it, and now I need to put the final polish on it before I self-publish it.

2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My trilogy is a contemporary romance series with a tiny bit of the paranormal thrown in for fun, but it's essentially set in the real world. The focus is much less on the paranormal and more on contemporary NeoPagan folklore and practice. It's a contemporary romance set in the Midwest U.S. - a fairly uncommon setting - exploring a subculture that's becoming more and more mainstream, but that hasn't been explored to death (yet) in fiction.

3)     Why do I write what I do?

I write the kinds of things I like to read. I love a story that has some folklore woven in - it's J.K. Rowling's successful formula, after all. I also love everything that has to do with romance. It pretty much obsesses me. So I simply write the things that interest me most.

4)     How does my writing process work?

I'm a compulsive writer, and I'm pretty much writing something or other whenever I get a chance. Mornings, evenings, weekends, at the coffee shop…you'll almost always find me hunched over the laptop, typing away. It's my husband who really gets on my case and encourages me to edit, revise, and improve, which is why we work well as a team. He helps me polish and finish my work.

If you're reading this and would like to share your answers next Monday, just link back to me and consider yourself "tagged."

Saturday, April 19, 2014

#YABookReview: 'Panic' by Lauren Oliver

I received an advance reader's edition of Panic at no cost through the Amazon Vine program. I received no other compensation for this review, which represents my own honest opinion.



Panic is a contemporary young adult novel with a realistic plot and characters. It takes place in the small town of Carp, New York. The high school seniors in Carp play a game over the summer called Panic; the winner takes a pot of somewhere around $50,000. To many in the economically depressed town, the money represents the only chance they'll ever have to live better lives than their parents. 
The novel is written in the third person, but chapters are divided into Heather and Dodge chapters, depending on which of the two main characters they follow. Heather Nill lives in a trailer park with her alcoholic, drug-addicted mother and her younger sister Lily. She has no plans for her life beyond high school. She dreams of leaving Carp, but she can't stand the thought of leaving Lily behind. And yes, Heather is aware that her last name literally means "nothing."

Dodge Mason comes from a similar background. He never knew his father, a Dominican roofer. His lighter-complexioned half sister Dayna played Panic when she was a senior, and in the final round she was in a car accident and lost the use of her legs. Their mom can't afford the most advanced medical treatment for her, so chances are she'll never walk again.

Dayna had been competing against Luke Hanahran when she was injured. When it's Dodge's turn to compete, Luke's brother Ray is also a contestant in Panic. Dodge intends to get revenge for Dayna - that's his main motivation for playing the game.

Along with Dodge and Heather, Heather's best friend Natalie (Nat) Velez is a competitor. Nat doesn't have a very strong stomach for dangerous activities, but she wants to win the money to further her dream of being an actress in L.A.

Panic is kept secret from the town's adults, with ever-changing rules, locations, and judges. None of the players know who the judges are.

I've been wanting to read the first book in Lauren Oliver's Delirium trilogy, which is also called Delirium, for quite a while now. After reading Panic, I'm not so sure I want to read it anymore. I just haven't fallen in love with Oliver's writing the way I have, say, Veronica Roth's. I thought Panic was interesting, but not great. There are moments of mild suspense when the characters seem to be in great danger, but very few consequences actually happen to the four main characters. The suspense is kind of a tease.

I hoped this would be more of a "what if real kids had their own version of The Hunger Games" kind of thing, but it was even more realistic than even that - which I didn't love. I knew going into this reading that it wasn't any kind of dystopian or fantasy novel, but it turns out I simply like the speculative genres of young adult books more than the more realistic kind.

This is the second stand-alone Lauren Oliver book I've read. The first was her middle grade fantasy novel The Spindlers. I thought that was just okay, too.

But if you like realistic YA fiction about what kind of trouble bored kids with very little to lose could get into, you may very well enjoy this book.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Teaser: 'Love' by Lacey Weatherford #Romance

“Ugh.” I rolled my eyes. “A ride? That is so not romantic, Hunter.” It surprised me how easily I was reverting back to the name I originally knew him by. If he noticed at all, he didn’t comment on it.

“What’s romantic, then? How would you seduce me?”

“Pfft. That’s the easiest thing to do on the planet. It’s not even a challenge.”

“Really? Then tell me. What would you do?”

“Mmm . . . let’s see. I could brush my teeth, or my hair for that matter. Both of those have turned you on before. Washing dishes always seems to do it for you, too. Oh, and of course there’s sweeping, vacuuming, and any time that I need to change my clothes. And—,”

“Okay, okay. I get it. I’m a horny bastard.” He was grinning from ear to ear.

“I wouldn’t exactly use the term bastard. Maybe a sexual zealot.”

Laughter burst from him, and he scooped me up in his arms and headed for the front door, continuing to chuckle the entire way.

“What are you doing?” I asked, unable to keep the smile off my face.

“Carrying you off to bed with sexual zeal,” he replied. “Is that okay with you?”

“I see I can add talking to the list of things that turn you on.”

He laughed again, kicking the door shut behind us as we entered the house. “Yes, you can. Face it, Goody. Everything about you turns me on. You’re just gonna have to learn to live with it.”


About the Author

Lacey Weatherford was born in Ft. Meade, Maryland while her father was serving in the military. She has been a lifelong resident of Arizona, spending most of her time growing up in the small rural town of Clay Springs.

It was while she was attending the small country school in Clay Springs, that she read her first "big" book at the age of eight. It was a Nancy Drew novel and Lacey was instantly hooked. She read every book that she could find in the series and decided that she wanted to write stories too.

Lacey spent a lot of time at the library from that time forward, even volunteering in her later teen years and early twenties. She would don a crazy clown outfit for the Friends of the Library fundraisers in an effort to help get the new town library built.

When she and her husband moved away from the area, Lacey took the opportunity to take some creative writing classes at the local college to help further along her interests. Several years later, they were blessed with the opportunity to move back to Clay Springs with their family. The town had finally succeeded in building their library and Lacey had the opportunity to be President of the Friends of the Library, for a very short time, before relocating.

Lacey and her family still live in the White Mountains of Arizona, where she continues to write young adult novels that have a fantasy/fairytale or paranormal bent to them, as well as being sure to include a great romantic storyline!

Lacey on Goodreads
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"Bitches in Bookshops" Creators Return with "Hardcover Bound 2"

As you may recall from this post, I adore the Jay-Z/Kanye West parody song "Bitches in Bookshops" so much, I devoted an entire Pinterest board to it. Now, just in time for National Library Week (April 13-19, 2014), the creators of that literary masterpiece are back with another Kanye-based piece of inspired parody filmmaking, "Hardcover Bound 2."

You remember Kanye's video "Bound 2," right? In which the rapper and his gorgeous fiancee Kim Kardashian (Kimye for short) canoodled on the back of a motorcycle?





And then Seth Rogen and James Franco - straight guys and platonic BFFs - re-created the video scene-for-scene, including the make-out session?





And Ellen DeGeneres and her gorgeous wife Portia di Rossi made a parody "Bound 2"-themed winter holiday card?





Well, now the video has fallen into the hands of LaShea Delaney and Annabelle Quezada, and the result is bookish perfection.


Here are the lyrics, which you can find here.

Your eyes, get tired…
From readin’, a good book
On a Saturday night
From readin’ a good book
So just grab your good book
And put on your glasses
On a Saturday night
Readin’, your - aw huh honey

All that other media lame and you know it now    
Stackin papers with some glue then ya press it down
Bound
Bound

Met my book club on a Wednesday
Brave New World put me in a frenzy
Were Orwell and Bradbury friendly?
Assigned 1984, but read it already!





Reading Jung for my grad dissertation
Then Freud’s Dream Interpretations
Essays on sex aberrations
Fill the page with mad annotations
Fight Club was a rad adaptation
Palahniuk gives me heart palpitations!





How you gonna be loud at my station-
Makin noise around all these librarians?!
Uhh!
This bestseller shit
This that Alchemist, Giver, Old Yeller shit
This that Harper Lee and Scarlet Letter shit
Got a first edition straight off of Alibris





Your eyes, get tired…
From readin’, a good book
On a Saturday night
From readin’ your - aw huh honey

Open up and press pause on The Book Thief
The book’s usually better than the movie.
Bound
Bound





I read Sylvia Plath in the bath
Confederacy of Dunces when I want to laugh
In Cold Blood without even blinking
I mean damn what was Capote-pote-pote pote thinking





Ey, you remember watchu first read
Okay, I don’t remember what I first read
Prob’ly, it was Dr. Seuss, eh?
Silverstein- or Maurice Sendak





Realist magic- Borges and Murakami
Toni Morrison, Allende, Salman Rushdie
Perusin’ Malthusian theory,
Edgar Allan Poe when I feel like something eerie





They ask me what’s next on my reading list-
Ever start a book that you can’t finish?!
Caryl Churchill and Tracy Letts, I    
Think I’ll make time for Samuel Beckett
Books can help you overcome lotsa things
You know,
I know,
Why the Caged Bird Sings.





Your eyes, get tired…
From readin’, a good book
On a Saturday night
From readin’ a good book
So just grab your good book (Reeeeaaaaaaadin')
And put on your glasses
On a Saturday night
Readin’, your good book.
Boooooooooooooooooooooooooooks….

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Food Porn at Its Sexiest: Ramen Matzah Ball Soup

(Woodland Hills, CA - press release) March 19th, 2014 – It isn't too often that an invention so ground-breaking comes along that it changes the way we work, play, sleep, and even live. But on Woodrocket.com's web series, James Deen Loves Food, it happens almost every week. And this week, it is Ramen Matzah Ball Soup!


The show that brought you Cool Ranch Donuts, The World's Most Expensive Burrito, and 27 Layer Dip now brings together Japanese & Jewish cuisine in the incredibly delicious & innovative new episode, James Deen Loves Food: Ramen Matzah Balls.

Star of The Canyons (the 2013 Lindsay Lohan film based on the book by Bret Easton Ellis), adult cinema, and host James Deen takes the classic Passover favorite and adds an Asian twist. He makes Matzah Balls out of Ramen noodles and adds it to a Jewish/Japanese style soup. It's new! It's multicultural! It's delicious! It's food porn at its sexiest!

This hot dish episode of James Deen Loves Food: Ramen Matzah Balls is sponsored by HotMovies!

You can watch James Deen Loves Food for Free at Woodrocket.com

Or check out the Safe-for-Work Trailer at JamesDeenLovesFood.com

Dubbed by Gawker as a “leader in viral porn content,” WoodRocket.com is a mix of adult & comedic entertainment, offering thousands of free, high quality videos, including exclusive porn like Porks & Recreation, SpongeKnob SquareNuts, and Game of Bones, & original Web series like “James Deen Loves Food,” “Topless Girls Reading Books,” and “Naked in Public.”

WoodRocket.com & its content has been featured on Gawker, Gizmodo, The Hollywood Reporter, Jezebel, Esquire, Bon Appetit, Vice, Fleshbot, and more. WoodRocket even found its Game of Bones parody as a trivia question on the highly acclaimed Comedy Central game show @Midnight.

Erin's Note: From time to time I get these press releases in my e-mail inbox. I thought this one was enjoyable. I corrected the grammar and punctuation a little.