Category Archives: Library

Fanny Hill’s delightful romps

Fanny Hill is allegedly the oldest erotic novel in the English language. Published in 1749, it is distinguished by the fact that it contains no bad words.

Nary a f**k or a c**t or a c**k or a pr**k. The latter two are usually referred to as machines. Or engines. And then described at, uh, length. With a rosy head.

Pornographers were a lot more inventive in those days. Nevertheless, it was, in former centuries, one of the most frequently banned books.”

No surprise there, as it is erotic as all get-out, and would attract the attention of prudes to a fare-thee-well. In fact it was banned when it was published and sold only in pirated versions. So it’s not startling that the University of London has banned it from the curriculum, fearing it will offend students. Particularly the liberal female ones. Couldn’t offend the males, not the majority of them.

I’m rereading it. And enjoying Fanny’s delightful romps as I did when I was, oh, in my thirties or thereabouts. It’s not quite as good as Anne Rice’s “Sleeping Beauty” trilogy. But only because Rice’s is more modern. Fanny Hill’s sentences are so godawful long it’s easy to lose your place. But it’s worth the effort. I recommend it. It beats “Shades of Grey” all hollow.

Via Power Line Blog

Dream advice

Had a good dream last night that ended with a pretty young woman with lots of freckles saying something like this: “Ram Dass, he is the wisest of the wise.”

So all day I kept reminding myself to go to Amazon and look up one of his books. I finally did it and bought, appropriately enough, his 2000 tome “Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing and Dying,” Appropriate because I’m 73 and not getting any younger.

Ram Dass (birth name Richard Alpert who, along with Timothy Leary, pioneered the use of LSD for spiritual enlightenment) is now 87 years old, which makes me a baby to him, more or less. Fifteen years younger.

Yet, although I have never read his seminal book “Be Here Now,” we share a common philosophy: That we are all spiritual beings, eternal souls, living a physical existence until our physical bodies die. At which point our souls will return home. Until, perhaps, we take on another go round with the physical.

Death, in other words, is a door, not a wall. But what to do in the meantime? That’s the point of Ram Dass’s teachings in his many books. “Many of us spend our lives worrying,” he writes in Still Here, “about losing what we have. Old age offers the opportunity to shift our cares away from the physical [what he calls the “storm of youth”] toward what cannot be taken away: Our wisdom and the love we offer to those around us.”

Younger Next Year

The Younger Next Year books are inspirational for us old fogies, in that they prescribe “long and slow” aerobic exercise (treadmilling, mainly) for bodily improvement across the board. Not to mention improving your mood.

Prolonged (45 minutes) low-intensity exercise, at up to 65 percent of peak heart rate (96 to 102 bpm for me) brings more endurance and general healthiness. Continued over months and years, it improves your circulatory system, which saves your life (from heart attacks, stroke) and improves it (bye-bye erectile dysfunction) by tricking your hunter-gatherer brain into thinking you’re foraging. Hunting takes more muscle exercise but that comes later, after the aerobic has you feeling fit.

After five months of it, I’m almost ready to enter hunter mode. But it can wait. There’s no rush. I have the rest of my life, after all.

Thursday Night Lights

Congratulations to my good former Statesman editor Michael Hurd who has scored a University of Texas Press publishing gig. His book, the Thursday Night Lights, will be out in October.

Reprising The Expanse

Been rehashing the episodes of The Expanse, since I own them now. Taking them in sequence from the first to the most recent, the 12th 13th of Season 2. Liking the characters more and wondering how far the SyFy channel will take the show.

Like as far as the the sixth novel, Babylon’s Ashes, which I just finished? It’s about the Belters war against Earth and Mars. Pretty good. No spoilers here. Wondering what’s next in the novel series, more on the colonized solar systems, I presume.

The death of Jon Snow

I’ve only seen the book version. It seemed inevitable after Snow, almost inexplicably, decided to lead an army of Wildings to Winterfel. Oath breaking, at the least. Treason at the worst. So it was plain that his brothers of the Night’s Watch would at least cashier if not actually murder what some think is the series finest character.

But because GRRM takes so long to crank out another book in the series (none since 2011’s Dance With Dragons), speculation as to what this death means has also become inevitable.

So is Jon dead as dead usually goes in the novels? (Remember Jaime’s dead mother “returning” to him in the Sept?) Will Jon’s brothers neglect to burn his corpse and so he becomes a wight or even a dreaded White Walker? Will the Red priestess resurrect him? Or has his warg’s soul already entered the body of his faithful dire wolf Ghost?

Until the appearance of Book 6, whose working title is The Winds of Winter, the answers are up for grabs. What say ye, o faithful fans?

Excerpt from The Winds of Winter


Excerpt from The Winds of Winter, long-awaited (since 2011) Book Six of A Song of Ice and Fire. I can’t speak for the artwork here but I do love the way Ser Martin writes.