Monday, February 25, 2008

Out Loud and Proud

Does the Coming Together series of charitable erotic anthologies have a new audio arm? It certainly does! And is the latest contribution an excerpt from my story, Nuit Blanche? You betcha!

So, how does it work? Simple: You buy an erotic mp3 from the Coming Together: Out Loud Myspace store, and all proceeds from the sale go to charity. In the case of my story, I take great pride in saying all proceeds go to AVERT, an international AIDS organization.

To learn more about this altruistic venture, visit the Coming Together: Out Loud Myspace store. Now, I’m still a bit of a computer dud, so I couldn’t quite figure out how to make a purchase from that site. That’s why I’ve made the store available right on my blog. Right down there. Do you see it yet? Well, just keep scrolling and you'll find it. You can also find it on the Coming Together blog.

My mp3 is listed as Nuit Blanche (excerpt), but don’t let the word “excerpt” fool you – the track is fifteen minutes long, it’s hot and heartfelt, plus I would say $1.99 is a small price to pay for the novelty value alone of having me read to you! As for Nuit Blanche, it's a tale of sleepless nights, forbidden love and shingles. It's some goo-oo-ood listening. Mmm-mmm-mmm! I may be biased, though; I do like the sound of my own voice ;-)

And remember, friends and allies, it’s for charity!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Happy Family Day

As a measure to combat the winter BLAH’s while fulfilling an election promise, the government of my lovely province of Ontario has introduced a new holiday. It’s called Family Day, to be celebrated the third Monday of February from now ‘til… the next government comes to power… who knows?

When my brother and sister told me about this pseudo-holiday, I thought they were joking. I’d never heard of it. Then I started noticing the tell-tale signs: Monday February 18th, the banks are closed, public transit is operating on Saturday schedule, the 24-hour grocery store is only open from 7am-11pm. So the rumours are true!

Having solved the mystery of whether Family Day really exists, I have to ask: Who the hell thought up this ridiculous idea? Somebody with a family, no doubt. Or, more cynically (and thus more realistically), somebody who was looking to win the votes of somebody with a family.

I suppose I find this whole idea so grating because it doesn’t seem to be for people like me. I’m speaking on two levels, here:

Firstly, I don’t have a family, nor am I likely ever to have one. Sure, I have a great relationship with my family of origin, and I’m not taking that fact for granted, but when I think “Family Day,” the image I get is of mommy, daddy, two point five kids, and Rover fenced in by white pickets. In my mind, this holiday honours hegemony.

Secondly, I’m considering what class of citizen actually gets to spend this holiday with her or his family. Banks are closed. Grocery stores are open. You do the math. Our government calls Family Day, “a holiday for hard-working families.” I guess wage-earners employed in retail or similar aren’t considered all that industrious.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Night Owl Romance Interview

Not that I think anyone's all that interested in me and my career in erotic fiction (God, I am SO Canadian), but on the off chance anybody's curious, here's a link to my most recent interview.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Carnival 101

I was invited to be a guest author at an Fallen Angels Reviews chat in celebration of Phat Tuesday. As in Fat Tuesday. As in Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras? What could I possibly contribute to this conversation? There is absolutely nothing -not a single thing- I know about Mardi Gras.

And then I thought back... way back... back to my university days and a spark ignited in the bottom of my memory. I do know a thing or two about Mardi Gras, or at least about the history and significance of Carnival. At least on paper.

So here it is, class: the entire cheat sheet for those of you who skipped, slept or partied through the 9am lecture by professor Giselle (shame on you!)

Carnival 101

In major medieval centres, 3 months per year were generally devoted to carnival festivities! It was a time when peasants would come together, joined even by scholars and monks, to mock the king, the church and even each other.

Some features of Carnival included ritual spectacles like fairs and feasts, processions and competitions, open-air amusements with costumes and masks, giants and little people, monsters and trained animals, parodies and vulgar farce and a whole lot of “low” and “dirty” kinds of folk humour.

World Upside Down

Carnival was all about violating social norms, turning your everyday worldview on its head. For example, one popular performance portrayed nuns and monks having sex on stage. Live sex shows? Carnival at its most carnivalesque. Though, I never was clear on whether the performers were actual nuns and monks, or just peasants dressed in habits and robes. But I have an active imagination…

The king is a servant, the church is a whore, the sage is a fool. If you want to sound terribly scholarly, you can call this hierarchy inversion a ritual strategy of subordination.

Grotesque Realism

Carnival was always very much about the body. Not the body as a pretty and well-behaved little thing, but the body as a nasty, excessive, oily entity with gaping orifices and bulging organs. The sexual and scatological are given priority. The carnivalesque body jiggles with blubber; it is open, not closed; protruding, not emaciated.

There was an obsession not only with desire and disgust, but with a combination of the two. Birth and death were bundled together, as in the bizarre image of a wretched old hag with a big pregnant belly. What does this serve to represent? Two bodies in one: the body giving life and the body dying.

It all sounds fairly disgusting, but that was the point. What happens when we laugh at the grotesque? When we laugh at death and disease and big fat bellies? They become less frightening. When we laugh at something, it loses its power over us.

All People Body

During Carnival time, there was no distinction between actor and audience. You couldn’t just stand back and watch Carnival. If you were there, you were an active participant. Sure you were part of the fun, but this also meant nobody was safe from mockery and derision.

Carnival brought the people together, made them a collective entity. It created the idea of a community as one body all laughing together at the serious elements of their culture, at oppression and unfairness. This communal body was ever-expanding and boundless. Never did it apologize for or renounce its earthiness.

The people knew well all the grotesque qualities of this laughing communal body had positive forces: they represented regeneration, renewal and fertility.

Permitted Rupture

Carnival as a means of social control?

Everything that couldn’t happen in the buckled-down world of everyday life was permitted during Carnival. It provided a space for release, but because this explosion of all things rude and ludicrous happened on such a grand scale, some theorists argue Carnival only served to reinforce cultural norms.

Wait, what? If Carnival was so rebellious, why was it not considered a protest by the ruling classes and the Church? Because it was licensed by the authorities. It was anticipated and allowed. Anyway, the peasants chose a Carnival king and queen and this was perceived to reinforce the status quo. Even the party where anything goes maintained the concept of a ruling class.

Ultimately, like a child throwing a fit in the grocery store, Carnival was seen by the rulers as a chance for the people to get all that crazy animal energy out of their systems. It’s no coincidence “Carnival Proper” is followed by the abstinence and fasting of Lent.

Citing my sources:
For more theory of the carnivalesque, consult (as I did) Mikhail Bakhtin's introduction to RABELAIS AND HIS WORLD and Stallybrass and White's THE POLITICS AND POETICS OF TRANSGRESSION.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mission Statement

Whenever you spearhead a new project you're supposed to start with a mission statement, right? So, what's my mission for Donuts and Desires? Well, perhaps I should introduce myself first: Hi! I'm Giselle and I write erotica. There. Now that the formalities are over with, I can describe my mission. My mission... my mission... how obvious is it that I'm procrastinating?

Before I get to my mission, why don't I tell you why I chose Donuts and Desires as a blog title? That part's easy. The desires are tied to my profession, weaving erotic tales for the discerning reader. I'm sure I'll be writing a great deal about... well, writing. The donuts are twofold: firstly, they're a signifier of my Canadian identity. After all, my slogan is, "Canada just got hotter!" Also, donuts remind me of a beloved yellow cartoon character, and I quote the Simpsons a lot. It's an affliction. I try not to let it affect my writing too much.

Back to the mission statement. Hmm...

Well, maybe I don't need a mission. Maybe I can just come here to procrastinate, share some thoughts on the frustrations of writing and the even greater frustrations of publishing, procrastinate, eat donuts, discuss Canadian-ness, procrastinate and connect with my readers and with everyone who's never heard of me.

But the above is not a mission, just a plan, and I can't stick to a plan, so...