For A Muse… (Song of the Week, 9/5/2012)

O Divine Poesy, goddess, daughter of Zeus, sustain for me this song…Make the tale live for us in all its many bearings, O Muse…    –Homer, The Odyssey

Happy is he whom the Muses love…   –Hesiod, Theogony

The ancient lass pictured above is Calliope, daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne (the goddess of memory), and the Muse of epic poetry and writers. She was mother to the great lyre player and singer Orpheus, and creative inspiration to Homer.

Now, thanks to the loving craft of my sweet friend Nydia Macedo in Brazil, Calliope has come to live with me in the Byrdcave, to inspire me in my daily writing. Nydia, whose work you can see (and purchase!) on Facebook under the name “Carioca Witch,” specializes in handcrafting poppets and ornaments based in spiritual and mythological symbology. She researches her topics, finding appropriate colors and design elements to incorporate and herbs to use for scents, then brings her own artistry to the task of playfully evoking these ancient resonances through beautiful stitching. Each piece is a labor of love, and photos don’t capture just how cool they really are. I encourage you to visit the Facebook page linked to above and surf through her albums to see the variety of things she creates, from gods and goddesses to Christmas and Halloween ornaments to superheroes…

Yesterday, I received the poppet of Calliope that Nydia made for me:

She’s beautiful and will have a permanent place of honor in my home.

As tribute to sweet Calliope, and sweet Nydia, I offer this Song of the Week from Django Reinhardt, “La Mer (Beyond The Sea)”…

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A Cool Yule To All Y’all (Song of the Week, Xmas 2011)

Happy Holidays to everyone, whatever their faith or lack thereof. Let’s be nice to each other out there, okay?

Want To Enjoy A Sacred, Raunchy Holiday Season?

‘Tis the season to remind folks of a holiday staple around the Byrdcave, the Santa books of Robert Devereaux. These incredible works of fantasy are both moving and filthy, sacred and profane, and guaranteed to awaken parts of your brain you might not even be aware of.

The first, Santa Steps Out, has been out of print lo these many years, but Devereaux recently regained the rights and has made it available as a Kindle download at Amazon. The second, Santa Claus Conquers the Homophobes, is available in paperback and Kindle format.

I reviewed both here, and you can read the entries at:

Santa Steps Out

Santa Claus Conquers the Homophobes

An evil elf also recently told me there’s a third Santa book on the way, and a likely hardcopy set of all three by next Christmas.

With Thanksgiving Done…

It is now acceptable to start talking about Christmas.

It is also acceptable to talk about “the holidays,” Hanukkah, the Solstice, Kwanzaa, Yule, Ashura, the New Year, December, or Thursday.

Don’t take it personally.

It’s That Time Of Year Again…

…so it’s time to remind folks of a holiday staple around the Byrdcave, the Santa books of Robert Devereaux. These incredible works of fantasy are both moving and filthy, sacred and profane, and guaranteed to awaken parts of your brain you might not even be aware of.

I reviewed both here, and you can read the entries at:

Santa Steps Out

Santa Claus Conquers the Homophobes

Santa Claus Conquers The Homophobes

Not long ago, I shared my review (and recommendation) of a great and blessed bit of splatterpunk profanity called Santa Steps Out, by a writer named Robert Devereaux. I got my hands on the Leisure paperback of that book back in 2000, and loved it so much I gave it as a Christmas gift to all my closest friends.

As last Christmas neared, I decided to point other folks toward the book by putting my old Amazon review on the blog. While visiting the book’s page on Amazon, I made two discoveries, one bad, one good.

The bad was that the book is no longer in print. [UPDATE: As of Dec 2020, the book is available from Amazon as a Kindle download] At the time, I think there were some reasonably priced used copies listed, but I just checked and saw that the only available copies on Amazon are all priced to screw the buyer enrich the seller. Searching Alibris, I found pretty much the same, but doing a search on Google Shopping, I managed to find some reasonably priced copies for under $15, including a “worn” copy at Powells for $2.50. So if you want to read this book, with a bit of detective work you can find a copy without buying a pool table for some schmo. Hopefully Devereaux will find a new publisher for it, or at the very least take advantage of the many print-on-demand possibilities available to make the book more easily available.

The good discovery was that Devereaux has published a sequel, Santa Claus Conquers the Homophobes. I immediately ordered it, just finished reading it, and can recommend it almost as highly as the first book.

In this tale, Santa and his holy brood become disgusted at the hatred and violence being perpetrated, in the name of the sacred, upon those born with homosexual proclivities, and they decide to take action. To go into any real detail would rob you of the book’s many, many pleasures, but rest assured it’s a rousing story, masterfully told, full of wit and wisdom, and consistently moving.

This book isn’t nearly as profane and transgressive as the first (and may therefore be an easier read for those with tender sensibilities), but it is full of notions that challenge the status quo in forthright and rich ways. Poppy Z. Brite said about the first book “The only two rules in Santa Steps Out are that everything is sacred and nothing is sacred,” and that is absolutely true about both books. They boldly rip apart the things civilized folk consider proper and sacred, but at the same time wholeheartedly embrace that which is truly sacred, both in the religious sense and the humanistic.

Devereaux is a wonderful writer, and constantly amazes with his inventiveness. His treatment of what you might call the mechanics of wonder, the way magic actually works in his literary world, is earthy in its matter-of-factness and lovely in its effects. His characters are full-bodied and layered, his depiction of the sacred both accessible and transcendent, and his allowance for redemption for any and all entities, no matter how saddled by personal weakness they may be, is more truly spiritual than any boxset of Touched By An Angel could ever be.

Santa Steps Out and Santa Claus Conquers the Homophobes are masterworks of fantasy and sacred fictions. Devereaux has crafted a literary universe unlike anything else on the shelves, and it’s a universe I’ll revisit any chance I get.

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