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Monday, April 30, 2012

Native American Characters

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Mostly because one of the love interests for my main character is a Mohawk Indian, and it seems Native American characters are "trending" right now (thanks to Twilight and other media) and I really don't like that. Of course I am delighted to see more Native American characters (and other characters of color in general) on the shelves...but for the love of GAWD can we stay away from the overused racial clich├ęs, please? 

One thing I've noticed about many Native American characters (who are written by non-Native Americans) is a type of racial fetish-ing or exotification. Kinda like a modernization of the "Noble Savage" caricature. If you don't know what I mean, just re-watch James Cameron's blockbuster hit, "Avatar," (REVIEW) or "Dances with Wolves," or even Disney's "Pocahontas" (Omigod, this review for Pocahontas made me crack up!) I sort of touched on this topic when I wrote that blog post about the "Last of the Mahicans." But anyway...I digress.

Stereotypes I'm tired of seeing:
1. The Native American characters are inherently more connected to nature than the white characters. And not only are the Native American characters more "in tune" with the natural world, they can "communicate" with it too--as in, they talk to animals...and trees...and shit. 
2. The Native American characters are either stoic warrior people or peaceful pacifists. Nothing in between. And they are always...always...looking to a white hero to save their way of life. 
3. The Native American character is a "shifter" who can transform into Sasquatch, werewolf, or some other non-human form. 
4. The Native American character and a white character fall in love to create a desperate Romeo and Juliet situation. 
5. The Native American characters happily teach the white characters all about their morally-superior  but "simpler" way of life so the white characters can become less bigoted people. As a result of this harmless one-sided "cultural exchange," the white character becomes a militant environmentalist, marries a scantily-clad Native American girl, and "Goes Native." 

There are many more stereotypes but I can't possibly list them all. All I can do is treat my Native American character with as much respect and sensitivity as I can. I am some parts Cherokee (every fucking idiot in America says that) but I don't claim to know or presume all of the difficulties and challenges that Native Americans face. However, being a black psychology student, I know a little something about stereotyping and cultural appropriation. I know we ALL can try a little better to think about the images we see when we're dealing with various forms of media. That's all I'm saying. Over and out, minions. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Smexxxy Friday (Lilac Wine)


This video isn't really "sexy," it's more "whimsical" and "romantic." But it is also, perhaps, the most beautiful music video I've seen in a long time. The art is just gorgeous. I love the vocals. So dark, soulful, and haunting. Sounds like sultry blues music. And I adore that sort of thing. Have a fabulous weekend, minions. :)

VC

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

4/12 Media of the Month: Cinnamon Challenge


Oh...the internet. How I love thee. You guys have heard of the "Cinnamon Challenge" haven't you? There's hundreds of them on youtube. My boyfriend showed me this one particular clip (it has more than 12 million views for a reason) and after crying and laughing together for about ten minutes, I decided to put it up on my blog. Enjoy! Glozelle is crazy. She's also a comedian and an actress. So don't worry...she's OK. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Frozen Planet

I've been captivated by this series these past few weeks. Can't wait to buy the boxset on blu-ray! *le sigh* So lush and beautiful. And I love animals, you know. I'll try to post some cool clips for you guys! :) Yes. I know. I'm a geek. Remember my gushing review of that French insect documentary Microcosmos? The infamous Snail Porn post? Yes...well I promise, there's no porn in any of the clips from Frozen Planet.





Who can forget the "icy finger of death?" Such a COOL clip! Probably one of my favorite scenes in the whole series!



This caterpillar is frickin' awesome!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Author Interview: Al Stevens



My good friend, Al Stevens, was kind enough to let me interview him today. I just love this guy and I know you're going to love his book. His new release is now available on Amazon--it is a smart, tightly-written novel with just enough comedy and suspense to keep the pages turning. I honestly laughed out loud while reading some of the parts...and I don't often do that when I read a book, but Al is just so skilled at writing humor. I just fell in love with his main protagonist, Stanley Bentworth. Perhaps I'm biased in saying that (since I was a beta reader for his novel) but even if I wasn't his beta, I would've liked the book anyway! And I'm not even a crime-sleuth fan! I am commanding all of you minions to check out his book! And also, his WEBSITE. 


Teaser:

Somebody has taken a shot at Stanley Bentworth in a hit-and-run drive-by, and the soft-boiled detective doesn’t know who wants him dead or why. Then, when a stranger who resembles Stanley is gunned down in broad daylight, Stanley wonders which of them was the intended victim.

The wise-cracking, hard-drinking former homicide detective finds himself drawn into the murder investigation when Georgia, his double’s widow, asks him to take the case. She believes that the killers will be gunning for her next in the most hostile of corporate takeovers.

If Stanley takes the case, he puts himself back in the line of fire. But if he fails to crack it, Georgia could be next on the list.

His investigation charts an unlikely journey into the worlds of online pornography, an infamous cat burglar from days past, and buried treasure. In the process he learns about a long-ago legacy that he never knew was meant for him.

So now that we know a little about the book, let's get straight to the interview, shall we? *motions for Al to sit in the red chair* 
VC: First off, I want to thank you for coming on my blog! It isn't often I get to interview my friends, so I really am excited to have you here with us today. What is your modus operandi? What do you write? WHY do you write? 


Al: My writing routine is uncomplicated. After breakfast I go to my studio, turn on the computer, and write until I need a break. I write all kinds of narrative prose from magazine articles to full-length novels. I do it because I enjoy it. Unlike many writers I am not moved by some invisible muse. I do not connect spiritually with my characters, go all ethereal about it and roll my eyes and wave my hands in the air. It is an art and a craft, and I like doing it.

VC: Any particular genre you like the most? Why? 

Al: Lately, I’ve been writing mysteries. I have two detective stories self-published, one geezer-lit cozy mystery under contract and due out early next year, and a suspense novel based on the JFK assassination. That book is in the trunk waiting for a timely release. An agent is looking at it, but I don’t have high hopes.

Most of my writing before I retired was technical computer programming titles. I enjoyed that all the years I did it, and the pay was good, but the industry didn’t stop changing just because I retired, and my technical knowledge is rusty. The industry calls it “paradigm shifts.” I call it “shift happens.”

VC: Where do you draw your inspiration from? 

Al: Personal experiences and people I’ve known whose quirks and quotes contribute to my characters’ personalities. I’ve had a varied life, having worked at several professions in many parts of the world. It sounds more intriguing than it really was. I know accountants who’ve had more fun than I had.

VC: Oh stop, Al. You are one of the most interesting people I've ever met! I really enjoyed all of our email conversations and learning more about you while we were working together. I think your readers will find you just as fascinating as I do. Speaking of which, what do you hope your readers get out of your work?  

Al: Entertainment. Release from the concerns and issues of contemporary society. Moments away from their own personal issues. A few laughs.

VC: Do you have a day job? If so, what is it? 

Al: Writing. At night I play music. Not as much as before. Things have slowed up a bit thanks to the economy.

I retired from all the office and necktie bullshit a while back. I was a consultant to companies and government agencies who needed computer software analysis and programming. During which I was writing, too. I don’t own a necktie. I guess I’ll have to buy one for the Pulitzer ceremonies.

VC: Hahahaha! See? I think you'd look great in a tie! What are your goals in life? What are you proud of? 

Al: To make it enough more years to get all my stories written. I have lots of projects in the bin. My memoirs as a jazz musician is among them. A compilation and analysis of the letters my parents exchanged during WWII is another. I want to write a book titled something like, “Stupid Things I Have Done in Small Airplanes - How the Mile-high Club Can Get You Killed.”

I am proud of the fifteen years I was a columnist for Dr. Dobb’s Journal. http://www.drdobbs.com

VC: How many accountants can say they've worked as a jazz musician? Not many, I'm sure. My dad was an accountant and there wasn't one creative bone in his entire body. If you could describe yourself in three words, which three words would you choose?

Al: These days: prolific, independent, and irascible. Before the onset of years, it would have been: workaholic, unfriendly, and asshole.

VC: Do you have any passions outside of writing? If so, what are they? 

Al: I don’t consider writing to be a passion. I reserve passionate feelings for family, friends, animals, and beta-readers. But I do have other interests. Playing jazz music is most prominent among them. I like to draw cartoons, too.

VC: Aww, shucks! I'm glad you included "beta readers" in that list! Now I have a stupid grin on my face. What is one interesting fact about you that few people know? 

Al: I play with dolls. And make them, too. It’s called ventriloquism. But my father was worried. About the wrong son, as it turned out.

VC: Our parents are often wrong about the "wrong son," aren't they? My brother also loved to play with dolls...but I was the one who refused to wear make-up, put on a dress, or make out with boys until my high school prom. And which one of us do you think turned out gay? What is your favorite fairy tale? 

Al: Is this a trick question? I want to say Liberace: an Autobiography, but I’m not sure that’s what you are asking. In the classic sense it would have to be Peter Pan. I fell in love at first sight with Disney’s Tinker Bell.

VC: Tinker Bell. *sigh* Hell yes. I fell in love with her too. My parents really should've caught on to that when I asked for a poster for my room. Are you afraid of cannibals? Why or why not? . 

Al: Only that it is illegal and can get me tossed in the clink. Oh, wait, you didn’t say cannabis...

I’ve never met a cannibal. I met a zombie once, a very nice fellow. He liked me for my brains instead of my looks. A cannibal was heard saying, “I’m having a ball,” so I’ve avoided them. I guess that’s a kind of fear. Cannibaphobia?

VC: Who are the authors that influence you the most? Who do you idolize, if anybody?  

Al: I am influenced by old dead authors of literary fiction. Steinbeck, Vonnegut, Hammett, Haley, Fitzgerald, Baldwin, Rawlings, Lewis, Ferber, Hemmingway, and their contemporaries. And one extant, Larry McMurtry.

I had three main influences as a young person other than my father. They were Paul Winchell, Art Tatum, and Bill Mauldin. Go figure. Many of your readers will not have heard of them. Google will satisfy their curiosities. What might not make sense is why these three men, whose worlds were far removed from one another, might converge to influence a boy growing up in rural Virginia.

Winchell was a renaissance man. Entertainer, writer, scientist. He had a troubled youth and was apparently not an admirable human being. But I liked the puppets. He self-published his autobiography. A really scary story about a man on the brink of insanity. He made a puppet of his mother and shot it. He died on my birthday.

I idolize Tatum. He is God. He stands so far above any others in his art, including all the truly greats, that no one else has reached the pinnacle he occupied. He overcame blindness and racial prejudice to achieve legendary status, not only among his contemporaries but with the public, too. Most pianists agree with that assessment. The ones that do not ought to have their fingers cut off and their brains eaten. I know a zombie who will be happy to do it.

Mauldin’s writings and editorial cartoons changed my life. He is mostly forgotten today, but he won two Pulitzers.

VC: I may be only 23 but I knew most of the authors you described! If you could shag any fictitious character, who would it be and why? 

Al: What does “shag” mean? Make a rug out of her? Or in the sexual context? Or both? I think it would be Pussy Galore, if only for the name.

VC: See, this is why I love you, Al. Pussy Galore? Only YOU would throw out a name like that and keep a straight face! Hahaha! Since we're on that topic, what is the dumbest thing you've ever done for love? 

Al: That’s another book I want to write. But I have to wait for my kids and grandkids to die before I write it.

For love or for sex? Two different books. Is this an interview or a confession?

VC: Hahaha! Nooooooo! You don't have to answer if you don't want to! 

Al: The dumbest thing was to divorce my wife. The smartest thing was to remarry her two years later. I tell her that just when I was starting to have fun, she came back.

VC: This has been my favorite interview so far. Thank you, sir. It's been great having you on my blog. I'll let you have the final word. Please tell us a little bit about your newest release and where we might buy it. 

Al: “A Dead Ringer” is the second in a three-book series about Stanley Bentworth. I started the series because I had read novels by Robert B. Parker, Mickey Spillane, Dashiell Hammett, and such. I know a couple of private investigators, and neither fits the fictional mold of those stories. They drink and smoke, but they don’t get into gun fights, don’t get laid every other page by gorgeous women (one of them is a cross-dressing hermaphrodite, if you can figure out how that works, and even if you can’t), and don’t solve high-profile crimes. I decided to write about them. It didn’t work out that way, but my intentions were pure. Stanley gets laid a couple of times, is a dirt-bag chauvinist, drinks his brains out (to the chagrin of the neighborhood zombies), and takes on a murder case. My good intentions morphed into a stereotype. And I am happy with the result.

It is available on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007Q3E4PG/

There you have it folks! Please give a round of applause for Al Stevens! And please check out his book the next time you're on Amazon! You won't be disappointed! :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Smexxxy Friday (Erika Alexander)



Gosh, she's beautiful, isn't she? She was one of my first girlhood crushes in the early 90s. She inspired me to get braids when I was little, hahaha! I wanted to look just like "MAXINE!" Her hair, her skin, her smile...good lord! I loved me some Erika Alexander! Her character in "Living Single," was my dream woman: assertive, snarky, competitive, stubborn, and of course, socially-awkward to the point of being obnoxious. Black nerd girls unite!
Enjoy this little clip. One of my favorite scenes between Maxine and Kyle. :) 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Join me this Saturday...

...For ANOTHER fantastic author interview! My friend (and bestest westest beta-reader ever) Al Stevens has a new book out titled: "A Dead Ringer." He worked really hard on this book and I can't wait to share more about it with you guys! Al is a fantastic guy. I get warm happy feelings just thinking about him. *happy dance* Make sure you pop back here this weekend to see it! It's gonna be awesome! :D 


~Cheers from the Vegetarian Cannibal! 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Waking Will Bel Canto

Have you ever heard a song that just...gripped you? I just discovered this song (and band) thanks to iTunes. This song reminds me of the sleep paralysis and hypnagogic hallucinations I used to have as a kid. Psych nerds will appreciate THIS LINK.  Lyrics posted below: 



The reptiles escaped, who said `booh'? 
Was it me, but who then was i? , what made them fear? 
It's dark and it's cold, and I feel so old
I'm going down
I'm going down to chase some reptiles
So autonomic, and you interupt my dream
You interrupt me, my old brainstem is talking
And you interrupt my dream, you interrupt me
The kites fly up high, I'm free, I run
But from heaven fall the bluebirds, they hit the ground
The sun warms my face, and I feel
It ain't the end for all the living,
It ain't no end for the living, no!
My intuition, and you interrupt my dream
You interrupt me, deep in here it is hidden
And you interrupt my dream, you interrupt me
You woke me up, I'm forgetting, and you interfere
You interrupt my dream
It's so autonomic...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Smexxxy Friday (Mouthwash)




I have an oral fixation, I think. Because every time I see this commercial, I am drawn to it in a sexual way...and I don't even like Listerine! I am fascinated by this man's mouth. I want to interact with it...play with it...explore it. I wonder if that makes me weird...



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Last of the Mohicans


Remember when this movie came out? All you '90s kids better raise your hands! *cheesy grin* You can watch this movie for free on Netflix. Anyway, I watched this film for additional "research/inspiration" for my novel. Although this story takes place in 1757 and mine in the 1690s, I took quite a bit from this movie. I wasn't aware until just recently that this movie was based on a book series from the 1820s. Pretty awesome. Too bad I can't say the same for the movie itself, LOL! 

I'm not going to lie, minions. This movie is meh. Just meh. Can we say WHITE WASHING please? I hate how whenever there's the "last" of some threatened ethnic group, it is always some white person. Or the white person becomes the main character in a story that SHOULD be about people of color. "The Last Samurai" was Tom Cruise. "The Last Mohican" was the "I WILL FIND YOU" dude. "The Last Airbender" was...well...you get my point.   
For those interested, the "I WILL FIND YOU" guy's name is Daniel Day Lewis, and he co-starred with Winona Ryder, in "The Crucible." However, the only character I really liked in "The Last of the Mohicans" was Magua. Keep in mind I'm a cannibal, so when Magua cuts out that one dude's heart and eats it, I was thinking: "Oh yeah...gnarly and sexy at once!"
Anyway, the movie was OK. Worth a watch if you're into Daniel Day Lewis, I guess. But I fell in love with the soundtrack. Gawd. I can't express how beautiful the music is! I found myself rewinding parts of the movie just so I could go back and listen to the track again. My favorite is "I Will Find You" performed by Clannad. The whole album is lush and gorgeous...so definitely check that out the next time you're trolling around on iTunes. 





Monday, April 9, 2012

Writing historical fiction SUCKS.

This a partial list of all the books I've read (not just skimmed, ladies and gentlemen, read from cover to cover) to research my novel. I will put these books in my bibliography. 


1. Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Colonial America by Dale Taylor
2. The Name of War: King Phillips War and the Origins of American Identity by Jill Lepore
3. Red, White, and Black (4th edition) by Gary B. Nash
4. Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook by Denise Alvarado
5. Creole Religions of the Caribbean by Olmos, Paravisini-Gerbert, and Murphy 
6. Freedom Just Around the Corner by Walter A. McDougall
7. The Spells Bible by Ann-Marie Gallagher 
8. Heritage of the World Civilizations (volume 2) by Kagan and Craig


Let's not forget the books I read just for "inspiration" : 
9. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
10. Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson (I named one of my characters "Nola" in tribute to Nalo Hopkinson!) 
11. 12. and 13. The Fear Street Saga Trilogy by R. L. Stine 


This list does not even cover the dozens of websites I've poured over in preparation. Before, during, and after the novel was completed I've done nothing but study King William's War, New England Native American Tribes, Puritan and Quaker religions, the Salem Witch Trials, and a host of other crap I can't think of at the moment. I eat, breathe, and sleep the 17th century. I want to be as historically/culturally accurate as I possible, which is why I've taken the time to do so much research. 


And THAT is why writing historical fiction is so sucky. It's tedious. On top of that, you can't just regurgitate all the facts you learn and smear them onto the pages and expect that to work. No, sir, you got to "set the scene" as a proper writer would. You gotta weave that shit in so it looks "organic" and "natural." And THAT is the hardest part for me. Yeah, I can spew tons of useless facts about the Puritans...but so what? How does that pull the reader into the time period? When someone reads my novel, I want them to feel like they are IN the 1690s! But it is so difficult to accomplish this without resorting to info-dumping!  


At times I feel like I am failing to capture the historical-ness of my story. All of my betas expressed SHOCK when I told them my characters were based on the real life historical figures who took part in the Salem Witch Trials. Am I just not getting the historical flavor in there strong enough? *headdesk* This is so hard. It really is. I'm not a history buff but I want people to take my book(s) seriously. Of course I embellish many things about the Salem Witch Trials...no one (to my knowledge) transformed into a werewolf and went on a massive killing spree. But yeah. I don't know.


*Sigh* Spare yourself the trouble and just stay away from writing historical fiction altogether. Over and out, minions. I think my brain is about to explode. 


VC

Friday, April 6, 2012

Smexxxy Friday


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Voodoo Woman Koko Taylor

"A crawfish on my shoulder and he lookin' dead at you!" *grins* 
I was born in Memphis...so blues kinda runs in my blood. Koko Taylor is also a black woman from Memphis (w00t!) and since the main character of my novel is a Voodoo witch, I thought this would be a fun song to put on my blog. I've been listening to Koko Taylor a lot lately. She's fantastic. Enjoy! 



Monday, April 2, 2012

Cannibalistic Confessions



They're putting clown meat in bologna form??? What has the world come to???? How am I supposed to stick to my diet if supermarkets start doing stuff like this??? Look at that smiling roll of bologna. Don't you just want to stab it with a fork? 


Ugh! Lately I've been in a killing mood. *Sigh* There was this kid at the library who wouldn't shut the fuck up while I was editing. He ran up and down the aisles, pulling books off of the shelves while screaming his head off. This went on for like 15 minutes before the mother finally decided to get up off her fat ass and control her child! Gawd, I HATE that! I doubt anyone would have cared if I had acted on my homicidal impulse and just killed the brat. Or the irresponsible mother. 


Which brings me to the subject of this post. Children. Why do people have them? Like seriously, why? Children are noisy. Smelly. Stupid. And snack-sized. 


Even when I was a child, I hated other children. And now that I am 23, I doubt I'll reproduce. The world is over-populated with enough morons. Why add your inferior genetics into the cesspool? Half the people who have children shouldn't. It seems the more stupid you are, the more children you seem to reproduce. *sigh* What's a cannibal to do, y'all? 
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