A Courtesan’s Love Lyric

My rewards will be commensurate with your gifts
if only you give me the one that lifts
me laughing …

And though it costs you nothing,
still it is of immense value to me.

Your reward will be
not just to fly
but to soar, so high
that your joys vastly exceed your desires.

And my beauty, to which your heart aspires
and which you never tire of praising,
I will employ for the raising
of your spirits. Then, lying sweetly at your side,
I will shower you with all the delights of a bride,
which I have more expertly learned.

Then you who so fervently burned
will at last rest, fully content,
fallen even more deeply in love, spent
at my comfortable bosom.

When I am in bed with a man I blossom,
becoming completely free
with the man who loves and enjoys me.


(Veronica Franco, trans. Michael R. Burch)

Box Office Observation

As an average, and barring any heavily anticipated blockbusters, the top box office for movies in a given week in the U.S. falls somewhere in the $30M-$40M range. The numbers drop off pretty fast even from #1 to #2. This week had huge receipts, even for a long weekend: the third highest grossing movie topped $30M.

The winning movie, with over $94M, had no big names, no special effects, and no critical acclaim. Quite the opposite, in fact, with everyone from critics to major cultural groups giving it hell. The strangest bedfellows were made in joining together to denounce the very existence of the movie. Even the stars downplayed it a bit, if stories are to be believed. And yet it was packed, breaking all kinds of records.

The movie, of course, was Fifty Shades of Grey, which in the realm of erotic literature is considered no more than mildly transgressive. Far stronger stuff is available, even from the more culturally “acceptable” authors.

And yet it was packed, breaking all kinds of records.

Ginseng: Aphrodisiac?

This misunderstood root  (Panax ginseng, Panax quinquefolius, Eleutherocuccus senticosus) is one of the main reasons most people believe that real aphrodisiacs don’t exist. Although ginseng is an excellent general tonic, improving stamina, health and well-being throughout the body (its scientific name refers to its function as a panacea), it has no specific effect on any sex organ. Ginseng’s reputation as an aphrodisiac began many centuries ago and hasn’t faltered one whit.

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Dark ‘n’ Stormy

January’s wine cocktails seem to have segued into highballs (excepting last week’s shot, of course), which suits me just fine. As I’ve mentioned before, highballs are a kind of mixed drink in which a liquor is combined with a mixer, usually in something like a 2:5 ratio. There are variations with all mixed drinks, but that’s generally the idea. Sometimes there will be more than one alcohol involved, and once in a while more than just the mixer. Knowing the essential highball concept is an easy way to learn a lot of good and popular drinks in pretty short order.

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A Gentlewoman Advises

The Technique of the Love Affair was originally published anonymously, “by a gentlewoman,” to avoid irritating the authoress’ in-laws. The gentlewoman turned out to be Doris Langley Moore, a wonderful and talented writer, costumer, fashion expert, Byron apologist and wit, and she acknowledged authorship of Technique only a few years after publishing it. Norrie Epstein has edited the book with notes, commentary, an introduction to D.L. Moore and pertinent quotes from other sources at the beginning of each chapter.

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Love And Sleep

Lying asleep between the strokes of night
I saw my love lean over my sad bed,
Pale as the duskiest lily’s leaf or head,
Smooth-skinned and dark, with bare throat made to bite,
Too wan for blushing and too warm for white,
But perfect-coloured without white or red.
And her lips opened amorously, and said—
I wist not what, saving one word—Delight.
And all her face was honey to my mouth,
And all her body pasture to mine eyes;
The long lithe arms and hotter hands than fire,
The quivering flanks, hair smelling of the south,
The bright light feet, the splendid supple thighs
And glittering eyelids of my soul’s desire.


(Algernon Charles Swinburne)