Archive for June, 2013

Fact or Fiction: All the below books were once banned?

  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
  2. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
  3. The Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer)
  4. Slaughterhouse Five (William Kurt Vonnegut)
  5. Lord of the Flies (William Golding)
  6. A Wring in Time (Madeleine L’Engle)
  7. 1984 (George Orwell)
  8. Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift)
  9. Candide (Voltaire)
  10. OF Mice and Men (John Steinbeck)
  11. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
  12. The Harry Potter Series (J.K. Rowling)
  13. The Ginger Man (J.P. Donleavy)

Fact: Over the history of literature many books have been banned for sexual, racial, political, or religious reasons. The above books have all been banned for some (if not all) of these reasons.

Breakdown: Interestingly, all the above banned books are now considered classics. A banning on literature such as this should give writers the confidence to write what they artistically feel is necessary. Censorship will occur, but censorship cannot fully destroy or stop popularity or literary acclaim. In fact, in some instances, censorship probably helps gain recognition for a book or artist. Perhaps this is why many writers take on taboo subjects in their stories: taboo literature has been well received by history. The lesson here: write without chains!

Extras: For more banned books look at the American Library Association’s list of “Banned and Challenged Classics” here.

Even if he doesn’t appreciate the nickname, many call Ed Sheeran the Ginger Jesus for a reason. On stage he is a one-man band, using a loop pedal, his beat-boxing skills, and his guitar to put together full songs in a few moments. Rap, hip-hop, grime, and pop are all part of what he does. Sheeran has the ability to sing boy-band-esque-songs or even ballads that might make Damien Rice sad and then switch to a grimy rap that would make many rappers envious.

Sheeran plays the guitar exceptionally well, but it is his soulful vocals and rapping which have led to much of his popularity. No musical genre can accurately describe where Ed Sheeran should fit. Although he’s currently being thrown into the mess that is popular music today, Sheeran still has the ability to “make a new sound” if he listens to himself. Sheeran is an evolving lyricist with the potential to take his music to numerous places without ever feeling out of place in any of them. If his growth isn’t stunted by the music industry or bad decisions, we may be looking at one of the greats. Whereas many artists try to rap and sing, Sheeran actually goes beyond trying—he does it, and without of the help of autotune.

Music needs someone like Ed Sheeran to refuse to be labeled as a certain kind of artist; it needs someone to build a bridge between the mainstream and the so-called uncommercial. Only a fusion of the two will allow for the evolution of art. The instrument playing rap-singer is now the future, artists who feature themselves rather than others and computers.

Watch the two videos below (“Lately” and “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You”) to see what Sheeran has to offer.

Jake Emlyn very well might be the next big thing in music. The London based rapper is more than just a rapper: Emlyn is the future of art, a musician able to “spit the sickest rap and then sing a freaking ballad.” His fashion sense reminds one of Prince meets Ziggy Stardust meets Lady Gaga, and yet his style remains very much his own, a mixture of Willy Wonka and Olivia Newton-John more than the former musicians. Emyln is androgyny itself, at times looking more feminine than masculine. Still, his lyrics are ultra-masculine, ultra-witty, ultra-futuristic, and ultra-sexual.

However, musically he is a fusion of rap, hip-hop, grime, electronica, and pop music with folksy melodic undertones.  So much of what makes Emlyn fascinating is his confidence, bi-polar style, and ability to put together quick, often intelligent rhymes while looking like “nobody that you know.”

You can download his 10-track EP Scandinavian Alien on his website

And you can check out many of his videos on youtube, such as “I Don’t Rap,” where he shows off his impressive rapping ability. Below is a live video of his song “Wonka Hath Landed.”


Fact or Fiction: The breakfast cereal Cornflakes was initially invented to help stop the human race from masturbating?

Fact: In the late 19 century, John Harvey Kellogg invented cornflakes in part to curb people (mostly men) from masturbating. At the time it was widely believed that masturbation led to insanity and in order to help contain sexual desire a bland diet was recommended. Thus, Cornflakes became the perfect prescription. In addition, Kellogg was a proponent of both male and female circumcision.[1]

Breakdown: How many of us realize this when we pick up a box of Cornflakes from our local supermarket? Perhaps this once again shows how the truth, in many ways, is taboo. If this happened today you would probably see the boycotting and discontinuation of the cereal.

[1] The History Channel, How Sex Changed the World: Sexpocalypse, 2013.


I’m giving away two free copies of my debut fantasy novel The Land Without Footprints: Shadows Amongst Shadows (Sweatshoppe Publications, 2103) on Goodreads. If you like epic fantasy novels told at a lighting fast pace check this novel out. Only a few days remain until the chance to win ends. Below is a brief summary:

The novel takes place hundreds of years after humans have left Earth for a planet with two moons. All that remains of Earth’s history is books, which many have taken to living their lives by. Yet also, on this new planet the Mystic now rules, a self-proclaimed god-king who allows total freedom in his kingdom. But the Dagens are one family that refuses to give into the evils that total freedom permits. Can they bring laws to a society that has never known limits?

To enter for a chance to win go here. If you just want to read the book go here to buy it or read a free sample.

Fact or Fiction: The breakfast cereal Cornflakes were initially invented to help stop the human race from masturbating?

If David Bowie paved the way for some of Prince’s antics—which the case can be argued if you compare their careers—then Prince perfected those so-called antics. His 1980 album Dirty Mind is a tour de force, thirty minutes of one man allowing you to see inside an untamed mind.

On stage, the shirtless Prince slipped on high-heeled shoes and leg-warmers that questioned his sexuality. He didn’t seem completely straight; he wasn’t quite gay. He was aggressively ambiguous. Breaking every remaining taboo, the pansexual polymath sang in a girlish falsetto while manhandling his macho Stratocaster, then crossed the color line to french-kiss the white woman playing on keys. 1

Dirty Mind “proclaimed the prodigy’s disregard for convention” while focusing on the notion of “taboo dreams.”2 The track “Uptown” actually speaks of a place where “it’s all about being free”: “Where I come from we don’t give a damn/we do whatever we please.” That freedom allowed Prince to take art to strange places both lyrically and musically. His androgynous  appearance very much did the same.

Truly Prince does whatever he pleases. He changes musical styles from song to song and album to album, delving into R&B, rock, funk, gospel, heavy metal, jazz, fusion, punk, rap, country, etc. He has worn clothes that most wouldn’t even attempt to wear, and linked sexuality and religion in ways most wouldn’t dare. At the height of his popularity, he was the boundary-maker, breaking old taboos and making new ones.

Because of Prince’s recent tameness, we forget that his album Purple Rain helped bring about the parental advisory stickers. For years he was taboo seeker, willing to flaunt his ass as much as his willingness to push the boundaries further than his predecessors. His desire for individuality led him to be one of the ultimate taboo artists.

1 Matthew Carcieri, Prince: A Life IN Music (Bloomington, Indiana: iUniverse, 2004) 11.

2 Matthew Carcieri, Prince: A Life In Music (Bloomington, Indiana: iUniverse, 2004), 9.