Saturday, July 31, 2010

What Books Do You Enjoy Most?

In several posts on this blog, I have featured some of the books I enjoy.  I reviewed the books of several authors in my Featured Authors series.
I have many more that I would like to bring to your attention, but I would like to know what you like to read?  Who are your favorite authors?  What genre of books is your favorite?  What are you currently reading?
What’s really hot about the picture above is that he’s reading Keats in front of Keats’s grave! John Keats is buried in the Protestant Cemetery, Rome, Italy.  His grave is in a quiet corner close to the Pyramid.
imageMost people who go to Rome do not visit the Protestant Cemetery, it is kind of out of the way and not really near many of the major tourists sites.  However, if you are ever in Rome, I highly recommend that you go.  Many of the gravestones of Americans were carved by some of America’s greatest sculptors.
Likewise, the Protestant (or English) Cemetery in Florence is well worth seeing as well.

Oscar Wilde

  • Born: 16 October 1854
  • Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
  • Died: 30 November 1900
  • Best Known As: The author of The Importance of Being Earnest
Name at birth: Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde
image Oscar Wilde was an 19th century Irish writer whose works include the play The Importance of Being Earnest and the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. He is also one of the Victorian era's most famous dandies, a wit whose good-humored disdain for convention became less favored after he was jailed for homosexuality. Wilde grew up in a prosperous family and distinguished himself at Dublin's Trinity College and London's Oxford. He published his first volume of poems in 1881 and found work in England as a critic and lecturer, but it was his socializing (and self-promotion) that made him famous, even before the 1890 publication of The Picture of Dorian Gray. In 1895, at the height of his popularity, his relationship with the young poet Lord Alfred Douglas was declared inappropriately intimate by imageDouglas's father, the Marquess of Queensberry.  Wilde sued for libel, but the tables were turned when it became clear there was enough evidence to charge Wilde with "gross indecency" for his homosexual relationships. He was convicted and spent two years in jail, after which he went into self-imposed exile in France, bankrupt and in ill health. His other works include the comedies Lady Windermere's Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893) and An Ideal Husband (1895), several collections of children's stories and the French drama Salomé (1896).
The phrase "the Love that dare not speak its name" comes from a poem by Lord Alfred Douglas, and when questioned about its meaning in open court, Wilde gave an impassioned speech on the value of male love (See the quote below the video). One of Wilde's most famous quotes: "There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

On being cross-examined at his trialMr. C. F. Gill (cross-examining): What is “the love that dares not speak its name?”
Wilde: “The love that dares not speak its name” in this century is such a great affection of an elder for a younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare. It is that deep spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art, like those of Shakespeare and Michelangelo, and those two letters of mine, such as they are. It is in this century misunderstood, so much misunderstood that it may be described as “The love that dares not speak its name,” and on that account of it I am placed where I am now. It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it. It is intellectual, and it repeatedly exists between an older and a younger man, when the older man has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him. That it should be so, the world does not understand. The world mocks at it, and sometimes puts one in the pillory for it.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Sensuality and Food

As I said in my post about aphrodisiacs:

In simple terms, the "Doctrine of Signatures" is the idea that God has marked everything He created with a sign (signature).  This doctrine states that herbs that resemble various parts of the body can be used to treat ailments of that part of the body.

image The consumption of certain foods can invoke a powerful response to our libidos, just because of the various body parts they resemble. My favorite is probably a crème filled éclair.  How can you go wrong with such a phallic symbol as that?  It’s long and thick, and cream bursts from it when you bite it just the right way.  Yum, Yum…

image Éclairs are by far not the only sensual food.  Think of asparagus, long stalks that are still crispy enough to stand when cooked correctly.  Or what about carrots or any number of root vegetables. What about small potatoes that look like perfectly formed testicles.  Or you can go right for a more literal interpretation.  Mountain oysters and bull and sheep testicles have long been eaten for their testosterone laden potency. 

There is an old story about the guy who went to a bull fight.  Afterward, he sits down at a nearby restaurant to eat dinner.  With much fanfare, the guy at image the table next to him is served this beautiful dish with two luscious lumps of meat, and he relishes it as he eats it.  The guy asks his waiter, what is that lovely meal that guy is having, and why is he enjoying it so much.  The waiter replies that it is the testicles of the bull that was slain in the arena that day.  They supposedly supply the eater with the potency of a bull, and therefore, he can fuck all night. So the guy asks, how can I get that dish.  He says you must be the first to order it before the bullfight, then when you arrive after the bullfight it will be served to you.  Right there the guys says, well put me down for tomorrows dish, I want to see how potent these bulls testicles are.  So he goes to the bullfight, but he is so excited about his meal that he leaves early.  he has a few glasses of wine waiting for his meal to be prepared and arrive.  Finally, the waiter tells him that it is ready.  And with much fanfare, he is brought out a rather sad looking dish.  On a bed of lettuce are two rather small pieces of meat. The guy looks at his waiter and says, wait a minute, why the hell are these so small, they look nothing like the dish from last night.  The waiter replies, “Sometimes, the bull wins.”

image In Asia, they actually go beyond the eating of the testicles of animals, but a particular delicacy that is meant to enhance the potency of a man, is an animals penis.  The meaty cartilage around the penis bone (unlike humans, most animals actually do have a bone in their penis) is a sensuous meal served mainly to men to enhance their sexual prowess.  Eating testicles and penises are taking the  "Doctrine of Signatures" to a whole new level.

image All of these foods can be used in the most sensual and exciting way, especially if your love of food and man can be mixed.  I say have a Ancient Roman banquet.  If you have a low table, some pillows on the floor for reclining, spread out a a feast of sensual foods that resemble the penis, the testicles, and maybe even through in some fruit like peaches that resemble a perfect ass. Then you and your partner can feed each other, make sure that you only use your hands to eat with so that it is far more of a sensual experience.

So since my friend Crothdiver over at Anything Male challenged me to a post about aphrodisiacs and the sensuality of food, here is my challenge to him:

You have mentioned several times how much you like to cook….Well, can you plan a menu (recipes included) that would be your ideal of a sensual banquet?  What is the most romantic and sexually laced meal that you can come up with?

Walt Whitman

image Walt Whitman was a 19th century writer whose life's work, Leaves of Grass, made him one of the first American poets to gain international attention. Whitman spent most of his young life in Brooklyn, where he worked as a printer and newspaper journalist through the 1850s. The first edition of Leaves of Grass was privately printed in 1855 and consisted of 12 untitled poems, one of which was to later become famous as "Song of Myself." His literary style was experimental, a free-verse avalanche in celebration of nature and self that has since been described as the first expression of a distinctly American voice. Although Leaves of Grass did not sell well at first, it became popular in literary circles in Europe and, later, the United States, and Whitman published a total of eight editions during his lifetime. During the Civil War Whitman moved to Washington, D.C., where he served as a civil servant and volunteer nurse. There he published the poetry collections Drum Taps and Sequel to Drum Taps (1865-66), the latter containing his famous elegies for Abraham Lincoln, "Where Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" and "O Captain! My Captain!" In 1873 he was paralyzed after a stroke and moved to Camden, New Jersey. By the time of his death he was an international literary celebrity, and he is considered one of the most influential poets in American literature.
When I heard at the Close of the Day
(No. 11, from ‘Calamus’)
par50 When I heard at the close of the day how I had
been praised in the Capitol, still it was not
a happy night for me that followed,
And else when I caroused nor when my favorite plans were
accomplished was I really happy,
But the day when I arose at dawn from the perfect
health, electric, inhaling sweet breath
When I saw the full moon in the west grow pale andTBoBA_140
disappear in the morning light,
When I wandered alone over the beach, and undressing, bathed,
laughing with the waters, and saw the sun rise,
And when I thought how my friend, my lover, was on
his way coming, then O I was happy,
Each breath tasted sweeter and all that day my food
nourished me more and the beautiful day passed well,
And the next came with equal joy and with the next,TBoBA_144
at evening, came my friend,
And that night while all was still I heard the waters roll
slowly continually up the shores,
I heard the hissing rustle of the liquid and sands, as directed
to me, whispering to congratulate me,
For the friend I love lay sleeping by my side,
In the stillness his face was inclined toward me, while the
moon's clear beams shone
And his arm lay lightly over my breast and that night I was happy.
image Whitman's sexuality is sometimes disputed, although often assumed to be bisexual based on his poetry. The concept of heterosexual and homosexual personalities was invented in 1868, and it was not widely promoted until Whitman was an old man. Whitman's poetry depicts love and sexuality in a more earthy, individualistic way common in American culture before the 'medicalisation' of sexuality in the late 1800s. Though Leaves of Grass was often labeled pornographic or obscene, only one critic remarked on its author's presumed sexual activity: in a November 1855 review, Rufus Wilmot Griswold suggested Whitman was guilty of 'that horrible sin not to be mentioned among Christians'. Whitman had intense friendships with many men throughout his life.
Some biographers have claimed that he may not have actually engaged in sexual relationships with men, while others cite letters, journal entries and other sources which they claim as proof of the sexual nature of some of his relationships.
image Biographer David S. Reynolds described a man named Peter Doyle as being the most likely candidate for the love of Whitman's life. Doyle was a bus conductor whom he met around 1866. They were inseparable for several years. Interviewed in 1895, Doyle said: 'We were familiar at once — I put my hand on his knee — we understood. He did not get out at the end of the trip — in fact went all the way back with me.'
image A more direct second-hand account comes from Oscar Wilde. Wilde met Whitman in America in 1882, and wrote to the homosexual rights activist George Cecil Ives that there was 'no doubt' about the great American poet's sexual orientation — 'I have the kiss of Walt Whitman still on my lips,' he boasted. The only explicit description of Whitman's sexual activities is second hand. In 1924 Edward Carpenter, then an old man, described an erotic encounter he had had in his youth with Whitman to Gavin Arthur, who recorded it in detail in his journal. Late in his life, when Whitman was asked outright if his series of Calamus poems were homosexual, he chose not to respond.
image There is also some evidence that Whitman may have had sexual relationships with women. He had a romantic friendship with a New York actress named Ellen Grey in the spring of 1862, but it is not known whether or not it was also sexual. He still had a photo of her decades later when he moved to Camden and referred to her as 'an old sweetheart of mine'. In a letter dated August 21, 1890 he claimed, 'I have had six children - two are dead'. This claim has never been corroborated. Toward the end of his life, he often told stories of previous girlfriends and sweethearts and denied an allegation from the New York Herald that he had 'never had a love affair'.
In any case, Whitman is one of the first truly working-class poets and an iconic figure in gay literature.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Love Potion #…Nah, I’m Not Eating That

"The Roman Emperor Vitellius gave a feast in honor of Minerva at which the piéce de résistance called for the brains of a thousand peacocks and the tongues of a thousand flamingos."
image Throughout history man has searched the earth for ways of enhancing sexual desire, looking for substances which would act as aphrodisiacs, a word derived from the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite. This quest for sexual stimulants has encompassed a startling variety of substances, some with good reason but many on the basis of entirely unfounded ideas. One good example of a well known but false sex enhancer is the long sought after rhinoceros horn, which is powdered and consumed in alcohol. Equally unfounded is the consumption of other animal products such as various parts of the tiger and the bear and drinks containing such delicacies as crushed frog bones or snake droppings.
image Aphrodisiac recipes have been cooked up throughout the world for millennia. In Europe, up to the eighteenth century, many recipes were based on the theories of the Roman physician Galen, who wrote that foods worked as aphrodisiacs if they were "warm and moist" and also "windy," meaning they produced flatulence. Spices, mainly pepper, were important in aphrodisiac recipes. And because they were reckoned to have these qualities, carrots, asparagus, anise, mustard, nettles, and sweet peas were commonly considered aphrodisiacs.
An aphrodisiac, as we use the term today, is something that inspires lust. It usually isn't meant to cure impotence or infertility, problems that are now handled by separate fields of medicine. But until recently there was little distinction between sexual desire and function. Any lack of lust, potency, or fertility would have a common cure in an aphrodisiac. Galen thought that a "wind" -- or as one 16th-century writer put it, an "insensible pollution" -- inflated the penis to cause an erection, so anything that made you gassy would also make you erect.
image Galen's theories were not the only basis for concocting aphrodisiacs. Mandrake root was eaten as an aphrodisiac and as a cure for female infertility because the forked root was supposed to resemble a woman's thighs. This was based on an arcane philosophy called the "doctrine of signatures."In simple terms, the "Doctrine of Signatures" is the idea that God has marked everything He created with a sign (signature).  This doctrine states that herbs that resemble various parts of the body can be used to treat ailments of that part of the body. Oysters may have come to be known as an aphrodisiac only by their resemblance to female genitals. However, because of the high amount of zinc in raw oysters, it actually worked to produce more semen and healthier sperm.  Few old medical texts listed oysters as an aphrodisiac, although literary allusions to that use are plentiful.
image Parts of the skink, a kind of lizard, were thought to be an aphrodisiac for centuries. It's hard to say why exactly, but three different ancient authors make the claim. Potatoes, both sweet and white, were once known as an aphrodisiac in Europe, probably because they were a rare delicacy when they were first transplanted from the Americas. Potatoes are also related to night shade, which was known as a poison in Europe, but the Incas who first cultivated and domesticated potatoes as a food source, bred out the inherent poisons.
image Some aphrodisiacs came out of mythology. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love (from whose name, of course, "aphrodisiac" is derived) was supposed to have held sparrows sacred. We think rabbits are promiscuous animals, hence the Playboy bunny and certain lewd sayings, but the ancient Greeks thought sparrows were especially lustful. Because of the association with Aphrodite, Europeans were inclined to eat sparrows, particularly their brains, as aphrodisiacs.
St. Thomas Aquinas, a 13th-century friar, also wrote a bit on aphrodisiacs. Like Galen, he thought aphrodisiac foods had to produce "vital spirit" and provide good nutrition. image So meat, considered the heartiest food, was an aphrodisiac. Drinking wine produced the "vital spirit." The association between food and eroticism is primal, but some foods have more aphrodisiacal qualities than others. Biblical heroines, ancient Egyptians, and Homeric sorceresses all swore by the root and fruit of the mandrake plant. The grape figured prominently in the sensual rites of Greek Dionysian cults, and well-trained geishas have been known to peel plump grapes for their pampered customers. Fermented, of course, grape juice yields wine, renowned for loosening inhibitions and enhancing attraction (though as Shakespeare's porter wryly notes in Macbeth, alcohol "provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance"). image Honey sweetens the nectar-like philters prescribed in the Kama Sutra to promote sexual vigor, and the modern "honeymoon" harks back to the old custom for newlyweds to drink honeyed mead in their first month of marriage. Grains like rice and wheat have long been associated with fertility if not with love, and Avena sativa (green oats), an ingredient in many over-the-counter sexual stimulants, may explain why young people are advised to "sow their wild oats." Numerous herbs and spices—basil, mint, cinnamon, cardamom, fenugreek, ginger, pepper, saffron, and vanilla, to name a few—appear in ancient and medieval recipes for love potions, as well as in lists of foodstuffs forbidden in convents because of their aphrodisiac properties.
image Among other delicacies banned by the Church in centuries past were black beans, avocados, and chocolate, presumably all threats to chastity. And truffles—both earthy black and ethereal white—caused religious consternation in the days of the Arab empire. One story has it that the muhtasib of Seville tried to prohibit their sale anywhere near a mosque, for fear they would corrupt the morals of good Muslims. For those who held debauchery in higher esteem, the list of favored aphrodisiacs was bound only by the imagination. The herb valerian, noted for its stimulant properties at lower doses, was long a brothel favorite, and yu-jo, professional women of pleasure in feudal Japan, supplemented their charms with the aphrodisiacal powers of eels, lotus root, and charred newts.
image Another foodstuff much favored by Casanova was chocolate, although the first person associated with chocolate as an alleged aphrodisiac was the Aztec ruler Montezuma, who is said to have drank 50 cups of hot chocolate a day in order to fully service his harem of 600 women. Such was the reputation of chocolate at that time, that the Aztecs and also the Mayans celebrated the harvest of the cocoa bean with festivals of orgies. However, this was far from being the earliest use of a vegetable substance for sexual purposes, as various plants were being extensively used in China thousands of years before that. image  The earliest known beneficiary was Huang Ti, the Yellow Emperor, who lived around 2600 BC. He was provided with a potion made from 22 herbal ingredients mixed with wine and it apparently bestowed him with an amazing sexual stamina. Empowered with this potent concoction of herbs he was able to enjoy the sexual favors of 1200 women and achieve a legendary status as the greatest of all lovers.
Coffee is another old one, and it's still sometimes considered an aphrodisiac. "Every time you have an excitation, you have an effect of disinhibition," says Paola Sandroni, MD, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic. She reviewed the scientific evidence that exists on many supposed aphrodisiacs, and published her findings in the journal Clinical Autonomic Research.
image But to call coffee or anything that contains caffeine an aphrodisiac would be misleading. "I think the effect is much more general," she says. In the same way, cocaine and amphetamines may seem to be aphrodisiacs because they stimulate the central nervous system, but they have no specific effects on sexual desire.
Sandroni also looked at studies on ambergris, which comes from the guts of whales and is used in perfumes. Some consider ambergris an aphrodisiac and there is evidence to support this notion. In animal studies, it increased levels of testosterone in the blood, which is essential to the male sex drive, and is thought to play a part in women's libido as well.
Next to oysters, the most well known aphrodisiac is the fabled "Spanish fly." image It's not just a legend. Such a thing does exist. Its active ingredient is the chemical cantharidin, which is found in blister beetles. Cantharidin irritates genital membranes, and so it is believed to be arousing. It's also deadly, causing kidney malfunction or gastrointestinal hemorrhages in people who ingest too much. A quick Internet search is all it takes to find some for sale. Sandroni says she was "horrified" to see how easy it is to buy.
Then there's the "herbal Viagra" pitched in spam emails. This is yohimbe bark. Some claim, falsely, that arginine, an amino acid in yohimbe, can restore erectile function and act as an aphrodisiac. "The only saving grace there is that arginine in large quantity is not harmful," says Cynthia Finley, a dietician at Johns Hopkins University.
The Roman poet Ovid wrote in The Art of Love, after giving a litany of aphrodisiacs,
Prescribe no more my muse, nor medicines give

Beauty and youth need no provocative.

Similarly, Finley says she thinks the only true aphrodisiac is good health achieved by a balanced diet -- which isn't all that different from what St. Thomas Aquinas said 800 years ago.


oliveshirt-682x1024 Eat09

Your love life is lacking, and you're tempted to try certain foods to reignite the spark. Edible aphrodisiacs can turn up the heat in more ways than one.
Some foods are reputed to strip away inhibitions. Others claim to put you in the mood for lovemaking, and still others boast of improving blood flow to your genitals, enhancing performance and pleasure.
There's more folklore than scientific proof to substantiate the link between food and passionate sex. But that's no reason why you and your partner should shy away from these so-called natural love potions.
It's a win-win situation. The most notorious food aphrodisiacs are a treasure trove of nutrients necessary for sexual prowess and good health.
Sexually Suggestive Fruits and Vegetables
Some people find produce erotic. Bananas, asparagus, cucumbers and carrots speak for themselves on that score.
Avocados, Greaves says, were prized by the Aztecs, who called them "testicle trees" because they grow in pairs. Ancient Greeks and Romans feasted on figs to promote potency. And let's not forget pomegranates, also known as "love apples."
Those ancient civilizations were on to something. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals required to produce sex hormones necessary for sexual arousal and pleasure.

Ever wonder where the term "honeymoon" came from?
Centuries ago, newlyweds in Europe drank honey wine during the first month of marriage to improve their sexual stamina. As a bonus, the long-ago lovebirds also got small amounts of beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from honey.
image The Aztec emperor Montezuma's chocolate consumption is legendary. Rumor has it that he drank 50 glasses of honey-sweetened chocolate a day in the name of virility.
Perhaps Montezuma valued chocolate for its feel-good qualities, too. Cocoa beans contain phenylethamine, a compound that triggers the release of endorphins, compounds associated with pleasure.
Nowadays, cocoa powder processed without alkaline provides the biggest bang for the buck. It contains the highest levels of the antioxidants associated with lower blood cholesterol levels, reduced inflammation in blood vessels, and maximum blood flow. Darker chocolate contains more cocoa powder.
oysters Oysters are dripping with dopamine, a compound that stirs feelings of sexual desire, and pleasure. These mollusks are also bursting with zinc, a mineral that fosters the production of testosterone, necessary for arousal and pleasure in men and women.
You may need to resist the temptation to ply your paramour with raw oysters - your romantic interlude could end with a severe case of food poisoning. Most raw oysters in the U.S. carry a bacterium called Vibrio vulnificus. Healthy people are unlikely to have adverse affects from eating raw oysters, but those with diabetes, liver disease, immune systems disorders, AIDS, and other chronic diseases can end up with a severe infection that may be fatal.
1985317.36 You can't get down when you're uptight. Eating salmon can help brighten your disposition.
"Salmon harbors an abundance of omega-3 fats, which qualifies it as a natural mood booster," says Susan Kleiner, PhD, RD, author of The Good Mood Diet: Feel Great While You Lose Weight.
Salmon also supplies large amounts of vitamin D. Researchers at the University of Toronto have found that vitamin D appears to work in the brain like many antidepressant medications do: by raising levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that induces feelings of calm and banishes bad moods.
Of course, if your man caught the salmon like this….
09 Well, wouldn’t that be romantic, LOL?
Rich in antioxidants that protect against cell damage, garlic is said to stir sexual desire and increase blood flow, says Greaves.
Just be sure to eat as much as your bed partner, as the effects of garlic can linger on your breath for hours.
I couldn’t find a picture of men and garlic, so I figured men and a picnic would work, LOL. Also, doesn’t a man’s balls sort of resemble a garlic clove?
cosmo-centerfold-naked-11 Nothing says seduction like popping the cork on the best bottle of bubbly money can buy, if that's what you enjoy.
A drink a day may help reduce the risk of heart disease in healthy people, but more than that may turn your tryst into a snooze fest.
Alcohol is a central nervous system downer. Chronic drinking is linked to erectile dysfunction, which will put a damper on lovemaking.
The Couple that Eats Together, Sleeps Together?
If you enjoy foods with a reputation for making you hot to trot, you may be thinking about whipping up meals that will knock your socks off, and your partner's.
Eat01"A delicious meal can be a prelude to sex," Kleiner says.
The act of cooking together can be a form of foreplay, and the smell of food can ignite intimacy, too.
According to Greaves, research has shown that the aroma of pumpkin pie, cheese pizza, and buttered popcorn induced blood flow to the penis, and the combination of pumpkin pie and lavender did the best job.
The smell of vanilla is particularly alluring. "Add vanilla extract to whole grain French toast or drop a vanilla bean into your champagne," she recommends.
Eat03 If you're not interested in any of the foods with a reputation for enhancing your love life, are you doomed to a lust-free existence? Not at all.
What matters most is that you and your partner dine on meals that include foods that you both enjoy, as long as you don't overeat or drink yourself into a stupor, Kleiner says. She puts it this way: "What you eat on a daily basis is far more important to overall sexual satisfaction that a single meal."
Good Health, the Ultimate Aphrodisiac
In the long run, peak physical and emotional well-being is key to a satisfying sex life.
Q1 "If you want better sex, take care of your health," advises Judith Reichman, MD, author of I'm Not In the Mood: What Every Woman Should Know About Improving Her Libido.
Good Health, the Ultimate Aphrodisiac continued...
You don't need to be model-thin to have a wonderful sex life, but if you're uncomfortable with your weight, you may not be at your best in the bedroom for a few reasons.
"Being overweight may deflate your libido, especially if you don't feel attractive," says Kleiner.
Q3Extra body fat raises the specter of elevated blood glucose levels that can damage the blood vessels and nerves that allow for arousal and sexual pleasure. It also increases the risk for high blood pressure and clogged arteries.
Clear, flexible arteries allow maximum blood flow to all the right places during sex, enhancing your pleasure.
A balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and other lean protein foods helps to control your blood pressure, blood cholesterol levels, and your weight.
But don't cut too many calories.
Whatever your weight, exercise may help to ignite your love life by improving circulation, managing blood pressure, increasing energy levels, and helping you to look better, which can have a positive effect on your sex life.

Abraham Lincoln, Gay???

LINCOLN nude final(1)
If you want just my opinion on this controversial issue, this would be a very short post, because I don’t think he was gay.  However, there is a lot of controversy over this issue, and I thought I would give a closer look for you guys.  I know I mostly have discussed Ancient History on The Closet Professor, but since modern history is much closer to my field of study, I thought it was time to show you that I know more than just sex in the ancient world.
So what brought about this discussion of more modern history?  Well, I recently came across this review of a play in the New York Times:

91 (2)Plot Description for Abraham Lincoln's Big, Gay Dance Party

A fourth-grade Christmas pageant in Abraham Lincoln's rural Illinois hometown sets off a firestorm of controversy when it calls into question Abraham Lincoln's sexuality. Each of the play's three acts lets the audience see the story through a different character's viewpoint -- and at each performance the audience decides in which order the acts are performed, creating a Rubik's-like theatrical event. Finally, a truly democratic theatergoing experience! What could be more American than that? 
The sexuality of Abraham Lincoln is a subject that is laced with many discrepancies and historical flaws.  GayLincoln The notion that Lincoln was a homosexual also portrays nearly perfectly two of my major pet peeves with historians.  First, much of the argument is taken out of its historical context, and second, the authors who expound on this notion have no historical objectivity.  I will explain these two pet peeves of mine as I relate the supposed homosexuality of Abraham Lincoln.  Mostly, I will explain what is wrong with the theories of Lincoln’s homosexuality.  If you are not familiar with the arguments concerning Lincoln’s homosexuality, please read the suggested readings below first.  I am including them before my argument because as I was writing this, I realized that it was quite long already, and I decided to let the actual discussion of Lincoln’s homosexuality to be in these articles, while most of this post will be mainly a refutation of The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln by C. A. Tripp.
gay Suggested Readings:
6a00d8341c730253ef00e54f3297c08833-640wi In The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, C. A. Tripp contends that Lincoln had erotic attractions and attachments to men throughout his life, from his youth to his presidency. He further argues that Lincoln's relationships with women were either invented by biographers (his love of Ann Rutledge) or were desolate botches (his courtship of Mary Owens and his marriage to Mary Todd). Tripp is not the first to argue that Lincoln was homosexual -- earlier writers have parsed his friendship with Joshua Speed, the young store owner he lived with after moving to Springfield, Ill. -- but he assembles a mass of evidence and tries to make sense of it.
image  Tripp died in May 2003, after finishing the manuscript of this book, which means he never had a chance to fix its flaws. Tripp alternates shrewd guesses and modest judgments with bluster and fantasy. He drags in references to Alfred Kinsey (with whom he once worked) to give his arguments a (spurious) scientific sheen. And he has an ax to grind. Not only did he work with Kinsey, but Tripp was a well-known gay activist and psychologist.  By the way, psychologists who write psycho-history are often the worst type of historians.  They have very little understanding of the craft and they use their knowledge of psychology to interpret historical data.  The same goes for most journalists, who do not have the same standards as historians when it comes to citing their sources. Psychologists who write history too often apply Freudian and Jungian psychology to people who had never had any knowledge of this type of psychoanalyzing. 
In the after math of the Franco-Prussian War in Europe (1870-71), Carl von Clauswitz wrote the military strategy book On War.  Military historians after the publication of On War are able to compare Clauswitz theories to modern warfare because it influenced modern generals and military strategists.  Likewise, the psychological theories of Freud and Jung and the perverted misunderstanding of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity (“everything is relative,” not just E = mc2, as Einstein meant it) greatly influenced 20th century writers, who used this knowledge to form their characters and plot devises. I mention these two instances of influencing theories because Tripp uses modern homosexual behavior to explain Lincoln relationships with men.  He takes the notion out of its historical context. 
image  Intimacy between men was much more common and less sexually laced in the 19th century than it was in the later part of the 20th century.  In 19th century America men commonly slept with other men. For example, when lawyers and judges traveled "the circuit" with Lincoln, the lawyers often slept "two in a bed and eight in a room."  William H. Herndon recalled, "I have slept with 20 men in the same room."  A tabulation of historical sources shows that Lincoln slept with at least 11 boys and men during his youth and adulthood. There are no known instances in which Lincoln tried to suppress knowledge or discussion of such arrangements, and in some conversations, raised the subject himself. Tripp, who was not aware of this large number of Lincoln's male co-sleepers, discusses only three of them at length: Joshua Speed, William Greene, and Charles Derickson.
Joshua Speed
abrahamlincoln5-500Tripp and other gay activists have an agenda to prove Lincoln’s homosexuality.  He is seen as the father of the Republican Party, an American political party known for its many anti-gay members and platforms.  Their objectivity is shot to hell because they are not attempting to give their readers an intimate look at the private life of Abraham Lincoln, but to discredit the Republican Party.  For me, this takes away much of the credibility of advocates of Lincoln’s homosexuality.  I am no fan of the Republican Party.  I largely find the modern Republican Party to be defined by what it hates and not what it is for; however, the same could be said for the Democratic Party.  American politics is a divisive politics of hate.  If someone writing history is blinded by that hate, they cannot see the error of their historical argument.  They apply modern interpretations to situations that do not warrant modernity.  Yes, the Civil War in America, the mid-19th century was a turning point in the history of America.  It is a period of transitioning from the early republic to the modern era.  Yet, this transition was not even complete by 1877 when Reconstruction ended.  Therefore, modern interpretations of events are null and void.
I love nothing more than a great historical figure to be homosexual.  We have some great ones and some evil ones.  However, I find it very hard to believe that Lincoln was homosexual.  You are more than welcome to disagree with me if you like (that is, if anyone is actually reading this).  Please leave your comments in the comment section or email me directly.