Monday, March 25, 2013

If I May, If I Might

Winston Churchill in Downing Street giving his...
Winston Churchill in Downing Street giving his famous 'V' sign. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I ain't always (ever?) real confident on grammar and suchlike.

I know what sounds right to me, reading, and what sounds wrong, but sometimes what sounds wrong to me is grammatically acceptable, and vice versa.

Sometimes we can get all twisted up about grammar rules, such as making sure not to end a sentence with a preposition.  There's a quote attributed to Winston Churchill, “This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put.”

Silly, isn't it?

I spent my teen years in a region (south-central Pennsylvania) where you outen the lights when you leave the room, where if you drink the last of the milk, it's only courtesy to let someone know "the milk is all," and when, after asking for a ride to the mall, get back a cheery, "I'll be glad to run you over."


It's all the little colloquialisms and regional turns of phrase that make reading and writing so much fun.


But recently while reading a book I very much enjoyed, I kept getting thrown out of the story by the liberal use of the word "may." It didn't sound right. It didn't feel right.

It bugged me so much I had to stop and go look up the proper grammatical usage. Was the author and her (professional) editor wrong, or was it me?

Take this fragment: "he was afraid he may not want to take her collar off when two weeks was up." Or this one: "She may have not had a lover in a while."

via Wikimedia Commons
Instead of wondering whether this dominant and submissive were headed for a long term romance, I was obsessing about the grammar?

Sadly, yes.


English Grammar Lessons. com says:

might
We use 'might' to suggest a small possibility of something. Often we read that 'might' suggests a smaller possibility that 'may', there is in fact little difference and 'might is more usual than 'may' in spoken English.
  • It might rain this afternoon.
  • She might be at home by now but it's not sure at all.
  • I might not have time to go to the shops for you.
  • I might not go.
For the past, we use 'might have'.
  • He might have tried to call you while you were out.
  • I might have left it in the taxi.
Grammar Girl Confirms:
World famous whitewater rafting in the Valley.
World famous whitewater rafting in the Valley. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I remember the difference by thinking that I should use might when something is a mighty stretch. Imagine something you'd almost never do, and then imagine someone inviting you to do it. For me, it's white-water rafting. The idea terrifies me. So if someone (such as my former employer) asked me to go on a corporate bonding white-water rafting trip, it's unlikely I would go, but I could be convinced if I thought my job depended on it. But it would be a mighty stretch. So I'd say something like, "Yeah, I might go; and pigs might fly, too."

So imagine whatever it is you'd be reluctant to do but wouldn't completely rule out, and then imagine yourself saying in a nice, sarcastic voice, "Yeah, I might." And that should help you remember to use might when the outcome is uncertain or unlikely and to use may when something is more likely to happen, such as attending a nice, safe company lunch where helmets and life vests aren't required.

You might clean your room, but you may call your friend later. You might climb Mt. Everest someday, but you may go hiking in the foothills next weekend. 
She goes on to illustrate (I adore Grammar Girl, just sayin')
First, might is the past tense of may. So you have to use might when you are referring to the past. For example, even if it's likely that Squiggly went to a party last night, Aardvark shouldn't say, “Squiggly may have gone to the party’; he should say, “Squiggly might have gone to the party.”
The second exception is a gray area. When you're talking about something not happening, it can be better to use might because people could think you're talking about permission if you use may. This is clearer with an example. If you aren't sure whether you'll go to the party, and you say, "We may not go to the party," it can be misinterpreted to mean you don't have permission to go to the party, particularly in writing, where voice inflections don't help guide the meaning. But if you say, "We might not go to the party," then your meaning is clear. It's the safer bet.

So remember to use may when the outcome is likely and might when the outcome is less likely or uncertain. But also remember that you use might for everything in the past tense. Also, it's OK to use might when you're writing about negative outcomes, even if they're likely outcomes, if using may would make people think you were talking about having permission.

So the phrase: "She may have not had a lover in a while," is wrong, because it refers to the past, and the wording is clunky, besides. Smoother and more grammatically correct would be: "She might not have had a lover in a while," or even, "She might not've had a lover in a while..."

In the sentence fragment:  "he was afraid he may not want to take her collar off when two weeks was up..." grammatically, it's not wrong; it falls in that gray area. To me, as worded, it's confusing. Would it work with "might"? "he was afraid he might not want to take her collar off when two weeks was up"? I find that clearer.

Another option, since so much is happening in that sentence, might be rephrasing it altogether, "he was afraid that when the two weeks was up, he'd want to keep her collar on."


I would never want to edit out all the flavor and local turns of phrases


Not from this author's work, nor from any other. I enjoy it. The gods and goddesses of grammar know how often I have to change something I've written because the meaning is either unclear or grammatically incorrect, so I ain't throwing stones.

But to my way of thinking, it's best to leave the colloquialisms to dialogue and italicized inner thoughts, rather than narrative, even if the narrative is in a character's point of view. Anything that throws a reader out of the story and racing for a grammar refresher is not a good thing.

And on that note, I'm running myself over to the store, as my martini mix is all.

How comfortable are you with the proper use of "may" and "might"?
What kind of local phrases are used where you come from?
Have you been sidetracked by a clunky sentence in an otherwise good book?


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Monday, March 18, 2013

Nobody Propositions My Feet Anymore - Aging Gracefully?

Foot fetishism?
Foot fetishism? (Photo credit: C1ssou)
Apparently, back in the day, I had incredibly sexy feet.


When I was in my twenties, running around barefoot in my apartment complex doing my laundry, this guy who was a friend of a neighbor who was having a party spotted me - and my feet - and was instantly smitten.



"I want to be upfront with you," he said. "I have a foot fetish, and you have incredibly sexy feet. I will <insert crude and lewd proposition here> for hours, if you'll let me fondle and play with your feet for a little while."

I was a little surprised, a lot shocked - and, I admit it, somewhat intrigued. He was kinda cute. He might be good at the aforesaid activity (though on the other hand, he might be terrible).


What did he want to do with my feet, anyway?


The writer in me said, "Say yes. This would make such a great story."


Then again, just because this was some guy who was invited to my neighbor's party, did not mean he was not a weird foot fetish serial killer. Though it would be hard to drag my dead body past the crowd of 30+ people in the courtyard.

I let the man sweet-talk me for a few minutes, then asked for a little time to think about it (after all, I still had to add fabric softener).

And my underage son was home, though due to be picked up by my ex within the next coupla hours.

It could be HAWT. After all, I'd seen the famous bondage and toenail-painting scene in Bull Durham.


Alas, it was not to be.  Apparently for that particular foot freak, at that time, it was a now-or-never kind of thing.

Once my offspring was gone, and my laundry was folded, FootGuy was nowhere to be found.


Later, I Met Another Foot Fetishist


I admit it, I was curious, and this new guy, too, thought I had very sexy feet and propositioned me, so we agreed to go for it. As it turned out, the date on which we had planned to experiment intersected with another date, one I marked on the calendar each month with red XXs.

We played around a little anyway, but by Bill Clinton's definition, did not have sexual relations. A lot of rubbing and groaning (on his part), a lot of counting the ceiling tiles on mine, except there were no ceiling tiles. You get the drift.

He was no Kevin Costner. Goodbye, Foot Fetishist #2.

It wasn't that I was unwilling to let him get his freak on, periodically (God, I'm saying this all wrong), but I found out he was a creepy religious type. As in, he informed me that Christianity was very important to him, and showed me his... pages, of his novel in progress. The first pages were full of lavish and loving descriptions of hell; torture and hot pokers and sharks ripping open people who don't die, just scream and bleed without surcease...

I eased out of any future dates very carefully. And if I hear his name connected with some gruesome serial killing, I will not be one of those people saying on camera, "But he always seemed so nice and quiet."


There's More of Them Out There


Bradley Cooper at the
Bradley Cooper at the "Whatever Works" Premiere, Tribeca Film Festival 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It's not that I think that all men (or women) who are into feet are potential serial killers. I'm sure many of them are perfectly nice - I actually know one. Since he's my ex's best friend, we are Not. Going. There. Ever.

Besides, the man smokes cigars, and that's disgusting. (Next to cigars, feet prolly smell like roses.)


I've had wonderful foot massages as part of loveplay, but nothing that led me to believe my lover was especially into feet.  Sucked a few toes, and had mine sucked, but doesn't everyone? And the Internet is now buzzing with stories about Bradley Cooper and his supposed foot fetish.

It's not that I want footplay to be a part of my sex life. I just liked the possibility.


I Liked Having Sexy Feet


As a teenager, my best friend was kind of a bitch. She had these dainty little feet - size five, I think - while I am five nine and have proportional-sized feet, 8 1/2. When we'd do the whole girlfriends-kicking-off-the-shoes thing, my shoes looked like rowboats next to her tiny ones.It awoke all the Cinderella's ugly stepsisters with big honking peasant hooves complex I'd carried since I was little.

Me: My God, my shoes are huge!

What girlfriends are supposed to say: No, you're tall, they're not big at all for someone your height.

What my (former) girlfriend would say: Yeah, they are pretty big. Too bad you can't go on a diet for your feet.

A pair of co-worker G's shoes.
I covet those butterflies!
Time passed. I worked with a woman five inches shorter than me. Who wore the cutest shoes, and had the same size feet as me. I realized if she could carry shoes that looked cute, with her height, so could I.

It was shortly after that that my feet were first propositioned. Even though my big toes, all squared off, still reminded me of Frankenstein's monster.


I went shoe mad, for a time. I bought strappy sandals and red pumps and gold snakeskin shoes and dainty black shoes with bows on the toes. I got pedicures and wore toe rings. My feet looked mostly adorable for years. But then they started hurting.

I knew what it was - I didn't want to admit it, but my older sister serves as kind of a canary in a coal mine for me. And she developed a serious case of Morton's neuroma - in both feet.

Hers was so bad (because she dragged her feet about seeing a podiatrist) that she had to have surgery. As she described it, they cut them open and scrape off the excess tissue buildup, like scraping meat off a chicken bone. *gagging*

My feet, not so bad (yet). All I needed to do was get some cortisone shots, and be fitted for custom orthotics to wear in my shoes every day.

My double or triple width shoes, flats only, which I have to wear for the rest of my life.


I Am Now a Lifetime Member of the Sisterhood of the Butt-Ugly Shoes


Plus I fail miserably at doing my own pedicures. Afterwards there is so much nail polish splattered all over my toes they look like they've participated in a serial murder.

Co-worker A
It's rather depressing. The women I work with wear shoes so sexy they'd bring tears of envy to the eyes of a porn star. And there I am, in my grandma shoes.

The only thing I have resisted so far is Birkenstocks (though I hear they're quite comfortable).

I've tried going to a regular shoe with just a little bitty heel once in a while, and it feels like I stepped on a nail. You can't look sexy unless you feel sexy, and you definitely can't strut your stuff when you're limping like you have a nail stuck in your foot.

Co-worker G
In fact, some days my foot feels like that anyway. I probably need another cortisone shot. Still hoping to avoid the gruesome meat-chicken-bone operation.

It's not like I was into the whole foot fetish thing. (Although I could make an exception for Bradley Cooper.) But I mourn the loss of my foot desirability. I want to be the one turning down the foot freaks, not be turned down by them.

But it is what it is. Now that I'm old a mature woman in the prime of her life, I know I should be damned grateful - and I am - that I have (relatively) healthy, functioning feet that take me where I want to go.

I would still like to punch that c**t Cinderella in the face.



Want to read more posts on aging gracefully (or fighting it all the way?)

Generation Fabulous


Do you suffer shoe envy, or can you still wear the good stuff?
Have you ever made footplay part of your loveplay?
(You can tell me, I won't tell anyone.)
Your thoughts?

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Five Favorite Books - ONLY Five ?!

A game like this is like somebody asking you to pick your five favorite fingers, and cut off the rest. Only five? But Veronica Scott, who writes amazing romantic fiction set in ancient Egypt (and on spaceships), asked if I wanted to play.

Being a player, I couldn't say no.


Here's the top five that I keep going back to reread, discovering new nuggets every time.


Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell.
Rhett & Scarlett, two of the most fascinating characters of all time. Politically correct, no. Romanticized (and racist) look at slavery and the Civil War, absolutely. Still interesting to read as a reflection of that mindset. Not only that, but last time I reread it, I noticed Mitchell ended each chapter with a great cliffhanger.

The Lathe of Heaven - Ursula K. LeGuin 
One of the most thought-provoking works I've ever read. What if when you had a certain kind of super-intense dream, what you dreamed came true? Only with that weird, twisted way dreams have of shifting reality, like dreaming that someone who annoyed you was killed in an accident. Then you woke up, and she was dead, had been dead, for years, and no one remembered the alternate reality. What if the person you went to for help decided to use that ability to reshape the world for the better?

Time Enough for Love - Robert Heinlein
I would so marry Woodrow Wilson Smith, aka Lazarus Long, if I got the chance. (Or at least invite him mattress-dancing.) Love, adventure, sex, time-travel, talking space-yachts and computers with personalities. Heinlein's I Will Fear No Evil is a close second.


Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery 
Anne is the little girl we all once were, or wanted to be, an ugly orphan so lovable she won the heart of... pretty much everybody. In spite of (of because of) accidentally dying her hair green, her nose red, and other misadventures. I love the whole series down to Rilla of Ingleside. Looked at through older eyes, Montgomery does an amazing job creating characters and giving flavor to the interpersonal relationships - people are still the same, their wants, needs, and schemes don't change, regardless of era or setting.

The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley
Morgaine le Fey, Arthur, Lancelet, Merlin, and Guinevere, with a heady swirling of magick and myth. The other legends are replayed as something of a battle between The Old Ways and Christianity, as well as between the civilized part of Britain vs. the Saxon invaders.

I'd grown up on tales that demonized Morgaine as an evil sorceress, and this gives a very different, heroic outlook to her part in the story. Love Morgaine, the Lady of the Lake, the priestesses of Avalon...



If I could keep the other five fingers...


Katherine - Anya Seton, with her Green Darkness a close second. A real life Cinderella story, the orphaned daughter of a poor knight becoming a Duchess, via a passionate love affair with a King's son. Lots of drama, heartbreak, and history (though the history part's more than a bit distorted, according to Alison Weir's non-fiction Mistress of the Monarchy).

Moreta, Dragonlady of Pern - Anne McCaffery
I adore all the Pern books, the Crystal Singer books, the Rowan books, the Freedom books, and... know I'm forgetting something. But this book, with its powerful queen rider in the prime of her life, with grown offspring, entering into a forbidden fling with a Holder, on the cusp of an epidemic that could wipe out the population of the entire planet, really hooks me.

The Proud Breed - Celeste de Blasis
Long, sprawling historical work, akin to the Thornbirds but set in California (and IMO, better written). Sixteen year old Teresa Maria Julietta Margarita Macleod y Amarista, granddaughter of a proud Californio tradition, stabs, then nurses and falls in love with Gavin Ramsay, Yankee trader. (We don't see that kind of romantic introduction much!)

We see the unusual partnership with Gavin's half Indian, half Negro friend, "Indian," and travel with them through the days of the ranchos, to the gold mining camps, to the settlement of San Francisco and the Civil War and beyond. There's romance, rape, betrayal, babies, gambling, war, adultery, friendship, scandal, and through it all, Tessa and Gavin, two distinct and compelling characters, as well as two generations of their descendants, battling for love.

Epic, in every sense of the word.

Wine of the Dreamers - Susannah Leigh
Parallel stories of Meryt, Egyptian princess, forced to marry a man she doesn't love, for political purposes, and Aimee, the pampered daughter of a Parisian merchant, also forced into an arranged marriage. Aimee's greedy husband believes he can make another fortune in Egypt, so he hires an ethical but broke archaeologist hot on the trail of an undiscovered royal tomb. The archaeologist is hot in other ways, and the tomb they discover belongs to an Egyptian princess... named Meryt. And what is the secret of the chalice left on the Egyptian woman's tomb?

The Ugly Little Boy - Isaac Asimov
This is actually a short story, later expanded into a novel with the co-writing of Robert Silverberg, and there's oodles of Asimov to read and enjoy.  I loved the whole mind-bending of the story, of scientists who find a way to bring forward people from an earlier time, but only in a small enclosure, and for a limited period of time. They want to talk to them, take tissue samples, study how they move and behave. After scoring with a peasant from the Renaissance, they manage to bring forward a small Neanderthal boy. If this story doesn't make you cry you have no heart. And afterwards, it'll make you think.



There's more, of course, I love Isabel Allende and Anaïs Nin and Sylvia Plath, I'm a big Mercedes Lackey fan, plus Lisa Hendrix, Grace Burrowes, Norah Lofts, Piers Antony, Tessa Dare, Diana Paxson, Robert Silverberg, and anything about Tudor England or the Titanic. As favorite non-fiction writers, I like Antonia Fraser, Sharon Begley, Walter Isaacson and Daniel Pink..

And I must recommend Veronica Scott's Priestess of the Nile and Wreck of the Nebula Dream.  Both very different novellas - one set in ancient Egypt, the other aboard a Titanic-esque starliner of the future. Both quick, fun reads. I do review what I read on GoodReads (eventually), so feel free to Friend me there and lets talk books.

If you like my choices (or if you don't), check out these Fabulous Five writer/bloggers' picks (their posts will be up sometime soon):

Brenda Moguez of Passionate Pursuits
Babs at Zero to Sixty and Beyond
Kim Sisto Robinson of My Inner Chick posted hers on Skirt
Rebekah Weatherspoon of Let Us See, Shall We
Samanthe Beck


Have you read any of the books on my Favorites List?
Could you narrow your Favorites down to five?



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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Ann & Nancy Wilson - My Big Sisters

Ann Wilson
Cover of Ann Wilson
They're not, actually. (Their mom would be stealing their song WTF?)

A girlfriend introduced me to Dog and Butterfly, the song, and the album, when I was a young teen, and I was instantly hooked.  Women with power, passion, and talent? My sisters, in spirit if not of blood.

I think this is my favorite Heart album cover
Not theirs - Ann loves Bebe Le Strange
I went back, collected Little Queen, Magazine, and Dreamboat Annie in cassette (all on my iPod now). Couldn't wait for Bebe Le Strange to come out and saw Heart on that tour at the LA Forum in 1980. Have collected most of their albums since then - and Red Velvet Car rocks, all these decades later. Somehow the combination of melody, harmony, and lyrics made me feel that they knew me - and that I knew them.

But it wasn't until I listened to their autobiography, Kicking and Dreaming that I felt I really did know them.

Genuine Heart fanatics who've followed every Rolling Stone and Circus and fanzine interview may feel like there's nothing genuinely new here.

Generally when it comes to books, I'm a reader, not a listener. I like turning pages and looking at the pretty pictures, okay? But a friend was insistent on giving me a couple of audiobooks for Christmas, I'd been wanting to read Kicking and Dreaming, and when I saw it was read by Ann and Nancy themselves, I was sold.

There are also sections read by their sister Lynn, and by others, like their co-songwriter Sue Ennis, and the band's former manager (and Ann's ex) Mike Fisher, lead guitarist (and Nancy's ex) Roger Fisher, Howard Leese, and more.  There's a narrator who announces who's speaking. Unnecessary in the case of the Wilsons. Nancy's voice is sweet, and she has a way of inflecting sentences in the MIDdle, almost as if they are a QUEStion. Ann's voice is richer and lower in timbre, but was also somewhat raspy, and I wondered if she recorded her narration with a cold.

It's quite long - almost nine hours. I became impatient with all the backstory - where's the Magic, Man? But as it continued, I saw how it all fit together.

Women in rock had traditionally been offered two places - at the microphone, and in a hotel bed, as groupies.


English: Nancy Wilson of the American rock ban...
English: Nancy Wilson of the American rock band Heart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Ann and Nancy didn't want to be the Beatles' girlfriends, like their friends did - they wanted to be the Beatles; to play their own music, write their own songs, to be feminine and sexy and powerful. So they drew inspiration from ancestress Hannah Dustin, who wielded a mighty axe of her own, in a way that had not been expected of her.

Ann was raised on the story of their mother Lou taking the train from Oregon to the East Coast to marry their father, Dotes. So why shouldn't Ann  leave the US for love, to find Mike Fisher in Canada?

The life of Marine military brats, never staying anywhere long enough to have houseplants, always packing up and moving to their father's latest posting, set them up for the gypsy life of a touring rock band. The military uniforms even influenced some of their costumes in the 1980's. Well, that, and Ann's major crush on Marlon Brando as Fletcher Christian in Mutiny on the Bounty.

No, They Can't Pass for Girls in their Twenties Anymore

So why is this fact treated as if the Wilsons have somehow betrayed their fans by daring to grow older (and sometimes heavier)?  They are in their sixties (or close to it, in Nancy's case). They have had hit records in five fucking decades, and yet, some reviewers continually pan them based on the "distraction" of Ann's fluctuating size. K & D discusses Ann's struggles with her weight going back to pre-adolescence (something I can certainly relate to), and the pressure this put upon her, and the band - as if the only accepted standard of beauty is thin, and the only measure of musical quality for a femme-led band is not voice, nor songwriting quality, nor musical performance, but the size and shape of the female members.

I adore Robert Plant (who, meaning no disrespect, looks like he has been "ridden hard and put away wet too many times"), and Led Zeppelin, who turned out incredible, groundbreaking music in the nine years they performed as a band. But reality is, he can't still still carry this song... and Ann can.


Btw, that's Jason Bonham (John's son) on drums
Love love love the gospel choirs & orchestra arrangement. Gives me goosebumps

Something I discovered in listening to K & D, was that Heart originally performed a 30-minute set of Led Zeppelin covers every night as part of their 5 hour set in Vancouver. That they were even dubbed by some as "Little Led Zeppelin."
 

Crazy On You

Ann had joined a Seattle band that included guitarist Roger Fisher, who surprised Ann with her first glimpse of "full frontal" male nudity in a post-gig hotel room.

And then she met his brother, Michael.

Ann talks frankly about her love/obsession for Michael Fisher. Quitting the band and taking off for Canada (whence M. Fisher had gone to escape the Vietnam draft), and living with him in a little round house over a stream, in a bed built on driftwood branches. "It completely took me over," she says.


Can you relate to "losing it" for a Magic Man - or Woman?

Michael Fisher was Heart's first manager. He had a "five year plan," and was quite controlling of various details, including Ann's diet. When Nancy joined the band, she became involved with lead guitarist Roger Fisher, Michael's younger brother, forming as it were a"never-ending double date," with Ann and Michael as the alpha couple.  The problem (or one of them) was that Roger "wasn't built for monogamy," something Nancy discovered early on, but accepted/tolerated, until her attraction to drummer (Michael) Derosier inspired her to make a formal break with Roger.

Sometimes a woman (or man) can take so much, for so long,in the interest of preserving a relationship, and then it simply becomes too much.


I love the brass horns on this; not so sure about Nancy's sailor suit

Roger Fisher was very open about his "dalliances," but part of the issue was his drug use (something not unique to Roger), and another part was that while he was a brilliant performer live, he struggled when called upon to lay down studio tracks, repetion after repetition.  After a period of intense friction within the band, RF was voted out, and shortly after, Ann's boyfriend Michael (who had also strayed physically and emotionally), was gone as well.

Bebe Le Strange was the first post-Wilshers (Wilson-Fishers) album, and although it was still filled with passion and emotion and sold well, the two albums that followed, Private Audition and Passionworks, met lackluster sales. Most chart-breaking rock bands never lasted beyond five years. Was Heart finished?

Leave It To Cleavage

Heart dubbed every concert tour with a nickname. A tour particularly laden with accidents and mishaps was subbed the "Crash and Burn" tour.

The Eighties were dusted with a fine white powder called cocaine for almost everyone in in the music industry, Heart included. New management, new record label. MTV was the big thing, calling for expen$ive video productions costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, corsets, hair spray, stilettos, and musical compromises like outside songwriters that it sounds like, in retrospect, the Wilson sisters greatly regret. (Though they wouldn't say so outright, perhaps so as not to alienate their fans who loooove their eighties material, which brought them greater Billboard charting than previous efforts.)


I do love this song, and many, if not all, of their eighties hits, especially There's The Girl

Ann and Nancy did refer to it, however, as a "Deal with the Devil." Fans who'd seen the videos expected to see the hairsprayed, elaborately made-up Wilson sisters in concert. Never mind that moving across the stage in heels for two hours ain't the same thing as a .3 second shot in a video. Additionally, the almost continuous MTV-play of their 80's material meant that instead of fame expanding their worlds, their worlds were shrunk. Following the assassination of John Lennon by a crazed fan, and death threats against them, Ann and Nancy could not even hang out in the lobby of their hotels. They would bring a VCR in their baggage, order room service, and hole up in their hotel rooms, watching classic movies like Gone With The Wind, rather than being free to explore their host city.

Ann also detailed the painful experience, early on, of learning that the groupie/one night stand experience was not something she could experiment with. The band had visited a club in one tour city, there had been been many attractive people there, including an attractive and charming male fan Ann invited back to her hotel room.

In the morning, she awoke to hearing him call in to a radio station with a whispered, "Guess who I'm in bed with?" This wouldn't have been radio-worthy for an Aerosmith groupie, or a Rolling Stones groupie, but it brought home the point that "road romances" were not gender-neutral.

Other Miscellaneous Details of Kicking and Dreaming

  • It bugged me that although song lyrics were spoken, there weren't audio clips of the songs, or the lyrics being sung, rather than read. Copyright issues, no doubt.
  • The intriguing details about the Magazine album, and finishing it under armed guard.
  •  I loved hearing about the "birth" of one of my favorite songs, Mistral Wind.
  • The many stars who tried (and failed) to bed the Wilson sisters, either separately or together.
  •  Ann referring to "the song writing me," something I often feel about a story.
  • The glimpses of the birth of the Seattle grunge movement, and Ann as one of its "mothers," down to sheltering its stars in her home and (platonically) in her bed.
  • I cannot now remember which Heart band member wore unitards so as to show off his third nipple.
  • The birth of the Lovemongers acoustic group.
  • The 1995 official Heart hiatus as Nancy needed to work on babymaking.
I highly recommend this book - loved the audio version, and plan to pick up the hardcopy, when funds permit, as well as fill in the holes in my Heart musical collection.

Leaving you with one last taste, one of my ultimate favorites, Love Alive. It's got everything (except top recording quality): amazing vocals, Ann's flute, fabulous interaction between Nancy and Roger, great guitar solo, wonderful acoustic guitar, driving bass, blood harmonies...




Are you keeping your Love Alive?
Have you read or listened to Kicking and Dreaming?
Do you have your own Heart memory?
If you have one, what's your favorite Heart or Lovemonger song?

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Slut of the Month: Jezebel

English: Jezabel and Ahab Meeting Elijah in Na...
English: Jezebel and Ahab Meeting Elijah in Naboth's Vineyard Giclee. Print by Sir Frank Dicksee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Her name has come to represent the symbol of an uppity, slutty woman. It's the name of a movie, a butterfly, and of a popular website. But who was Jezebel, anyway?

By marrying Ahab, King of Israel, Jezebel became Queen - and a very powerful one.

From How Bad Was Jezebel? (Biblical Archaelogy Review):
As the Books of Kings recount, the princess Jezebel is brought to the northern kingdom of Israel to wed the newly crowned King Ahab, son of Omri (1 Kings 16:31). Her father is Ethbaal of Tyre, king of the Phoenicians, a group of Semites whose ancestors were Canaanites. Phoenicia consisted of a loose confederation of city-states, including the sophisticated maritime trade centers of Tyre and Sidon on the Mediterranean coast. The Bible writer’s antagonism stems primarily from Jezebel’s religion. The Phoenicians worshiped a swarm of gods and goddesses, chief among them Baal, the general term for “lord” given to the head fertility and agricultural god of the Canaanites. As king of Phoenicia, it is likely that Ethbaal was also a high priest or had other important religious duties. According to the first-century C.E. historian Josephus, who drew on a Greek translation of the now-lost Annals of Tyre, Ethbaal served as a priest of Astarte, the primary Phoenician goddess. Jezebel, as the king’s daughter, may have served as a priestess as she was growing up. In any case, she was certainly raised to honor the deities of her native land.

<snip> Jezebel does not accept Ahab’s God, Yahweh. Rather, she leads Ahab to tolerate Baal. This is why she is vilified by the Deuteronomist, whose goal is to stamp out polytheism.

Map showing the Kingdoms of Israel (blue) and ...
Map showing the Kingdoms of Israel (blue) and Judah (orange), ancient levant borders and ancient cities such as Urmomium and Jerash. The map shows the region in the 9th century BCE. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The LORD was a hard sell in 9th Century BC. If you read Numbers and Deuteronomy, they're full of rules that are a beast to carry out. Plus his prophets are always smiting and cursing people, or bringing down she-bears to rip apart little boys. Additionally, there was a big theological as well as political split between the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. Each of those countries claimed to be worshiping the One True God in The Only Right Way, and claiming the other Jewish people had gone astray.

In the meantime, the native peoples of the area had long worshiped other gods and goddesses; deities who were more tolerant and fun than the jealous and somewhat neurotic LORD. It was natural for them to return to the old ways, and natural for Jezebel, who may herself have been a priestess, to hold onto her own religious upbringing when she moved into the country next door, but Elijah didn't see it that way.


Jezebel Wasn't One to Weep and Wail


One of the other things Jezebel is accused of, in the Biblical story, is setting up a man named Naboth who refused to sell land to her husband King Ahab. Ahab was so upset he:
lay on his bed, turned away his face, and would eat no food. (1 Kings 21:4)
I'm not sure what a "proper" wife would've done - joined her husband's childish tantrum, until they both starved to death?  (On a side note, 2 Kings 10 states that Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria alone, so clearly Jezebel was not The Only Woman in his life. But since no other queens or concubines are mentioned by name, clearly Jezebel was the one who counted.)

If the stories are true, Jezebel personally arranged to have Naboth falsely accused of blasphemy.  He was then stoned, and voila, the coveted property dropped into Ahab's happy lap.

She not only took action, but she used the religion she despised as a tool to make it happen. That is either stone cold wicked or amazingly chill, depending on your point of view.


Can You Say Double Standard?

 
One classic Biblical story is that of King David, who committed adultery with Uriah the Hittite's wife Bathsheba and knocked her up. Next David tried to trick him (Uriah) into having sex with her so he'd assume the baby she was carrying was his. Failing that, David set Uriah up to be killed. Even by the standards of the time, these behaviors were considered unsavory all around. The death of the love child shortly after his birth was considered to be a judgement from the LORD.

Yet David would still hold God's favor, and the next child he and Bathsheba had, Solomon, would become king after him.

Clearly, if Jezebel had Naboth set up, it was not for personal gain or power, but out of loyalty and concern for her husband. But it's not entirely clear that she did set him up; 1 Kings states:
So she wrote letters in Ahab's name and sealed them with his seal

SealofJezabel
SealofJezabel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Archaeologists are in possession of what appears to be Jezebel's seal. As a  queen powerful enough to have her own seal (this was a very rare and unusual thing), she had no need to use that of her husband or forge letters in his name. She could write them in her own damn name.

If the Bible is wrong about the seal, it's possible some of the other details could be wrong, too. Maybe Jezebel was a cunning and ruthless woman, but in twenty-two years of Ahab's rule, the two years that followed of her son Ahaziah's rule, and then the twelve years that followed during her son Joram's reign, these are only the two negative stories about her - that she protected the priests of Ba'al and persecuted those of the LORD, and that that she had Naboth killed.


Wore Too Much Makeup?

The third story is that when Jehu, who killed both her son, King Joram, and Ahaziah, King of Judah (in ambush after asking for a parley), came into the city of Jezreel, Jezebel "painted her eyes and adorned her head." Some have spun this as harlotry and an attempt to seduce her son's murderer. (Really? When if she had become queen at fourteen years old she still had to be fifty or older?) Others see it more as a display of royal pride and dignity, akin to Benjamin Guggenheim dressing in his tux in the Titanic's final hours, so as to go down like a gentleman. She knew she too was about to be killed, but she was not the type to cringe and beg for mercy.

In any event, some of Jehu's cohorts threw her body out of the window, he and his company trampled her body with their horses, and went in to eat and drink.  (This is the upstanding guy who violated a parley and shot both Joram and Ahaziah in the back, according to 2 Kings 9.)

Where do the stories of Jezebel come from? In the end, history is told by the winners - or those whose writings have survived.


Elijah Was The Donald Trump of the Old Testament


You can barely turn a page without seeing the name Elijah plastered onto something or given credit for some mighty act of bravery. He is always portrayed in a heroic, righteous way, and was the top prophet of the LORD [according to himself].

Elijah pitted himself directly against Jezebel, and though he won a few battles, for the most part he lost the war, often fleeing the country or hiding out in caves.

A power struggle. And a woman was winning?! Intolerable. Later, his protege Elisha took up both Elijah's mantle and his grudges, including the one(s) against Jezebel.  You will not be surprised to learn that Elisha also is credited with many miracles (as well as setting the bears to tear the boys into bits for teasing him).


Jezebel Was My Kind of Slut


Common Jezebel
Common Jezebel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Frankly, I take the bad-mouthing against Jezebel by Elijah and Elisha to be more like a recommendation; they are what's known in the writing craft as "unreliable narrators."  In our current age we have talk radio "prophets" and other pundits who also rant and seethe over strong women.  Their derogatory language and twisting of facts speaks more to their own fears and questionable manhood, than it does to the character of the women they attack.

Jezebel may not have been all sweetness and light; she may in fact have had blood of innocent people on her hands. She also held firm to her personal beliefs, took action to get what she wanted for her husband (at a time when he was sulking like a two year old), raised as least two sons to be Kings, and met a horrific  death with courage and dignity.  Despite centuries-old efforts to smear her reputation, hints of the real Jezebel shine through, and I believe that's why most women do not consider it an insult to be called a "Jezebel."



Future Slut of the Month Candidates:
  • Mae West
  • Joan of Kent
  • Cleopatra
  • Sandra Fluke 
  • Morgan le Fey
  • Aspasia
  • Madonna
  • Liz Taylor
  • Dorothy Parker 
  • Kassandra of Troy
  • Tullia d'Aragona
  • Marie Antoinette
  • Lillie Langtry
  • Anne Boleyn
  • Eleanor Roosevelt 
  • Rhiannon
  • Shelley Winters
  • Mary, Queen of Scots
  • "Klondike Kate" Rockwell
  • Catherine de Medici
  • Lucrezia Borgia
  • Umrao Jaan
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine 
  • Theodora (wife of Emperor Justinian of the Byzantine Empire) 
  • Jeanne d'Arc
  • Margaret Sanger
  • Hwang Jin-i
  • Coco Chanel
  • Sappho
  • Joan of Kent
  • Catherine the Great
  • the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown
  • Eva Perón
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • Diana, Princess of Wales
  • Anaïs Nin (coming next month!)
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Mata Hari
  • Malala Yousafzai
What do you think of Jezebel? Do you think she was evil?
Who's your favorite slut? 
Vote for one on this list, or name another slut to be added to it.
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