ErikaRae_2010Erika Rae knows a lot more about the Bible than most people. She was a devoted and educated Evangelical Christian for all of her childhood, adolescence, and early college years. Today she is a devoted memoirist whose writing is frank, humorous, compassionate, and tolerant of all people. Like many smart women I know, Erika writes and thinks about sex, too. If you haven’t read Erika’s hilarious and insightful memoir, DEVANGELICAL, yet, check it out soon!

 Who is the sexiest person in the Bible?

MBW revisedErika Rae:  So, James Michael Blaine, AKA 11:59…how does it feel now that you’re about to be outed?  I mean…now that you are publishing your first book, you are going to let us see your face, aren’t you?

James Michael Blaine:  Thank God, yeah, you know? Sometimes you get saddled with a gimmick and you’re glad to get rid of it.  In 2006 I decided I really wanted to try this writing thing. I’d been turned down for Vandy’s MFA program (we’re looking for talent more along the lines of Shelley or Yeats, ha ha ha ha ha)  – but I was trying to find a place to get better. If I have any talent, it’s tenacity, to just hammer away until something breaks loose. I figured TNB would be a good place to start hammering. It takes awhile to find your voice so I thought it might be good to stay nameless, faceless. By the time I was sick of it I had the book coming, so I thought I would wait until now. You ready?

So, I’m sitting here on my swing reading Devangelical

It’s too cold!

 

No, I’m inside.

You have a swing inside your house?

 

Yeah.  I always wanted one. 

Like a playground swing?

[…] “I was throwing up demons,” she informed me with hollow eyes. “I thought I was done, but they just kept coming.”

I glanced behind her at the shimmering fresh bowl, and wondered if they were down in the camp’s septic system.

Earlier that afternoon, we had been enjoying turkey sandwiches in the cafeteria. We never had our expectations set very high for the food at church camp. We were under no illusions that Rachael Ray was hard at work behind the closed doors to the kitchen. As such, we had made the best we could of what we were given. Now, however, I was wishing that I had passed on lunch.

I had sat next to Megan in the lunchroom because there was something about her that intrigued me. She was part of the classification of teenager we called “New Wave,” which would later be called “Goth” and sometimes “Emo” in its millennial reiterations. She wore all black clothing, dark eye makeup and lipstick, and had by her own admission done a fair amount of experimentation in the arena of hallucinogens—information that might have proven useful had I been aware of what that really meant during the time I was sharing a cabin with her.

While I’d taken it upon myself to pick some horrific non-horror films a few Halloweens ago (Guillermo del Toro’s eyes-in-the-hands guy, you’re always on my mind), this year I was interested to know what my fellow TNB contributors might say were the most terrifying movie scenes they’ve endured to date. Below, if you dare to read on, you’ll find those iconic dead-eyed twins, bad hell-spawn hair, an unfathomable choice, and more, but first I’ll get this party started with Willy Wonka’s boat ride from the 1971 Mel Stuart film.  Most of my phobias can be traced back to these two manic minutes in the tunnel:

It’s happened again: Americans have freed up vast quantities of cerebral matter to make room for the dog and mule show we call an “election”, otherwise known as “The Religious Right and the Rest of the Country’s Time to Drop Their Drawers at each other and Let it Shine Let it Shine Let it Shine.”

Once again, the social issues. Once again, the parade of puppets. Once again, one seemingly interminable Groundhog Day of indigestion and dubious self-medication. By the time it’s all over, families need to replace dining room tables, former friends need to remove numbers from cell phones, and the whole nation needs to turn on the fan and light a match.

Please explain what just happened.

Erika Rae: Which one–the weeping or the laughing?

Carissa Carter: The weeping might be me. I over-indulged on this new craving for kale that just won’t go away.

 

What is your earliest memory?

ER: Spiderman was creeping around all open-armed on our brown, plaid living room couches in the dark. Next, I found myself inexplicably stuffed in the kitchen pantry eating dried brown rice from a white bucket. I think it may have been a dream, but I’m not sure.

CC: I was sitting on the floor of my room in our new house stroking a 4×6” swatch of shag carpet from our old house.

It’s spring again and you’re feeling it, aren’t you? The return of the sexy. Just this morning you caught the Sun staring unabashedly at those long, lean recently loofahed legs and, although you may not want to admit it, you know he expects something in return. Go ahead and drop that strap.

A little lower.

That’s it.

That’s right, sexy came early this year and you feel it. Your skin is softening, your muscles are tenderizing and your fingers have made no less than five attempts this week to hijack your insightful political essay for HuffPo into a filthy, bodice-ripping anime for YouTube. Come back to the light, serious writer. Neither Gingrich nor Romney is among the sexy.

Unless one of them is wearing chaps and an Arnold mask. Oh, yeah.

You’ve heard the news by now. A group of Minnesotan astrogeeks with impressively large telescopes have called out astrologers everywhere by reporting that the stars have moved since the Babylonian concept of the zodiac was born. Thought you couldn’t help your Leo need to be adored by the masses? Guess what. You are actually supposed to prefer solitary walks by the beach and are just an ass.

Welcome to the MAE*.

 

Ophiuchus: Nov. 29 – Dec. 17
The newly resurrected Ophiuchus sign represents a man wrestling a serpent and shares traits with Imhotep, a 27th century BCE Egyptian doctor – not to be confused with Mummy Imhotep, the still-juicy High Priest of Osiris who terrorized Brendan Fraser to the transitioning squeals of prepubescent male audiences everywhere. Like Dr. Imhotep, Ophiuchus is a healer of men and a doctor of medicine or science. And, like him, you insatiably seek higher education and are perfectly comfortable being the only person in your continuing ed class sporting a set of trifocals and a wad of extra absorbency hanging low in your trunk. You are expected to achieve a high position in life, regardless of how long it takes. As an addendum, you will also spend a lifetime trying to pronounce your new sign, regardless of how long it takes.

Sagittarius: Dec. 17 – Jan. 20
The Sagittarius makes for the classic dot-bomb era entrepreneur. You’re adventurous, optimistic, and you love those trendy little hipster companies that encourage jogging breaks and offer 6 weeks of fully paid paternity leave. You also love the idea of learning. This is not to be confused with actually learning. Your biggest challenge this year is going to be putting down the latest Seth Godin book to actually write that white paper.

Capricorn: Jan. 20 – Feb. 16
If you’re a Capricorn, you don’t need a horoscope to tell you what to do. You’re already driven, motivated, and probably have a highly detailed Excel spreadsheet filled with the necessary steps to get from point A to points B, C, and subsequently, D. Your biggest challenge is refraining from judging everyone else around you for not having such a detailed life roadmap and from repeating the words, “Really? Really?” when confronted by the average non-Capricorn. As a matter of fact, the only star sign you fear is the new and improved Super-Scorpio (see below), who you suspect in Column T, Row 46 could throw a potential kink in your Grand Master Plan to Take Over the World by eating your heart directly out of your still-steaming thoracic cavity with a shrimp fork, should you cross them.

Aquarius: Feb. 16 – March 11
For those of you who come to this sign as former Pisceans, the Age of Aquarius has literally only just dawned. What you need to know in your new star sign: #1 – You are easy going and a fabulous networker; #2 – You are lazy and slothful by nature; and, #3 – Unlike the Broadway show Hair**, life is not a musical and you will need some extra motivation to spur yourself into action.*** The good news is that of all your non-Aquarian friends, you stand to have the highest connection count on LinkedIn if you choose to apply yourself. Good luck with that.

Pisces: March 11 – April 18
Al Gore’s migration from Aries (Active, Demanding, Determined, Effective, Ambitious) to Pisces (Depth, Imagination, Reactive, Indecisive) explains a lot about how he was able to invent the Internet.

Aries: April 18 – May 13
If TNB had a star sign, it would be Aries: adventurous and living for the writer’s dream.****  What you need to know if you are a newcomer to Aries: you are a doer and not just a talker. The flip side of that is that sometimes you dive in too quickly without thinking through the consequences. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Taurus: May 13 – June 21
Well, former Gemini, now you’re a Taurus. Big whoop. You’ve always known you’ve got at least two personalities in there, so you might as well take the bull by the horns. Also, now you’re the same star sign as Mark Zuckerberg. (queue Simpons-esque “ha-ha”)

Gemini: June 21 – July 20
Turns out David Hasselhoff is actually a Gemini. Who knew? What you choose to do with this knowledge is entirely in your hands.

Cancer: July 20 – Aug. 10
Thanks to that hard shell of yours, you-who-are-now-Cancers are well-equipped to deal with the change. Of course, you are now also are equipped with a set pincers, which means you’re going to have a hard time letting go of your former Leo-hood, where you were loved openly and without restraint by panties-throwing masses. You now have a choice: insist on being worshipped, or embrace your new sign and practice a little love and nurture for your inner circle of friends. No, the person in the mirror doesn’t count. It’s going to be tricky. You may want to seek counseling. And, if you were born before July 22 and hung on to your former sign into the MAE*, well, you are one hell of a Cancer. Go. Surround yourself with people you trust and be productive in your venture. *pinch*

Leo: Aug. 10 – Sept. 16
Yes, we adore you. Yes, you mean the world to us. No really, we mean it. Also, as a point of information, Kenny Rogers, who was once a Leo, remains a Leo post-MAE – which is kind of cool, since he genuinely looks like a Leo. Kenny Rogers, we salute you. No really, we mean it.

Virgo: Sept. 16 – Oct. 30
You need to spend less time on FaceBook. No, seriously.

Libra: Oct. 30 – Nov. 23
Hey, former Scorpio! Great news! Now that you’re a Libra…oh, who am I kidding? You don’t give a shit about your new Libra horoscope. Chances are, you’re not even reading this right now because you’re so pissed off that somebody would dare to change your sign. I could type the lyrics in their entirety from “When the Doves Cry” for this star sign because no former Scorpio will ever, ever read it. It will sit here in digital purgatory for generations to come, completely ignored. “Why do we scream at each other? This is what it sounds like…” There, there. Put down the axe.

Scorpio, AKA “Super Scorpio”: Nov. 23-29
Yep, you read that right. Newcomers to this fine planet of ours have exactly one possible week to be born a Scorpio now. This means that everything you know and fear about Scorpios: the passion, the revenge, the murderous intent – shall now be compressed and concentrated exponentially for this highly evolved group. It’s like melding Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil with an açai berry. Founding CEOs who are born under this sign are to be feared, and possibly eventually incarcerated.

 

* Minnesota Astrogeek Era

** You know you want to sing it out. “Aq-uar-iuuus!”

*** Helpful hint: Try Red Bull

**** Otherwise known as the vocational version of the Slip N’ Slide.

 

This horoscope originally appeared in my brand-spanking-new magazine: SCREE Magazine (shameless plug). It’s been adapted for TNB.

 

I’ve Been Busy

By Erika Rae

Memoir

The other day as I was standing in front of the mirror plucking my eyebrows, I was hit hard with a thought: I don’t have time for this.

I leaned back and stared hard at my twin in the mirror.

“I see you, Gemini,” I told her. “But you’re not on the schedule. Sorry.”

I put down the tweezers and walked away.

Now, before you judge me, ladies, I do realize that I need to make time for myself. As the end of my thirties approaches faster than a train filled with Gideon Bibles on the way to the Branson hotel circuit, I acknowledge that if I want to look presentable, I have to make an effort. I must wash and dry my hair. I must change my jeans every so often. I must wax certain places. I must not make a habit of replacing sex with homemade baked goods. If you’re a guy reading this, I can liken it to the necessity of brushing your teeth before you go on a date and thank you so much for reading a full five paragraphs of this post.

The thing is, I don’t have any time. I know a lot of people complain about this. As far as I can tell, this characteristic appears to have been carried on by natural selection, and particularly by those who carry large amounts of German and Scotch-Irish stock, plus the DNA from one illusive yet profoundly legendary Cherokee. That is to say, “lack of time for anything” appears to be one hell of a dominant trait. And lest you think I’m writing this to complain, let me stop you right there. I love it. I love being busy and having something to work toward.

Here is a snippet from my daily schedule, which I write religiously at the dawn of each day:

12:50-1:00 – Clean lunch dishes.
1:00-1:05 – Change “Ashtray Babyhead’s”* diaper. (Multitask challenge: count his toes – he’s falling behind in math)
1:05-1:10 – Make soy latte
1:10-1:15 – Put Ashtray to bed for nap (Multitask challenge: Set 4-year old to work writing the letter “H”)
1:15-1:25 – catch up on essential emails
1:25-1:45 – ISP/Billing
1:45-2:15 – Write 500+ words on memoir
2:15-2:45 – Edits to resume for client
2:45-3:00 – Edits to one Scree article
3:00-3:15 – Check in with publishers for TNB features
3:15-3:30 – Fold laundry
3:30-3:35 – Scrub bathroom sinks (Multitask challenge: come up with topic for next chapter)
3:35-4:05 – Work on book trailer for Devangelical
4:05-4:10 – Refill latte

I would have started the schedule earlier in the day, but it basically can be reduced to teaching my second grader history, language arts and science (we do online charter school), making breakfast and showering. Sometimes in between those things, I get crazy assignments that I have to tuck in here and there. A few weeks ago, I had set up the TNB feature for Oriana Small, author of the porn memoir, Girlvert. Perhaps you saw a picture of a girl with her fist stuck in her mouth on the TNB Headline banner. Yeah, so she was my feature. You’ve always wondered what we TNB editors actually do around here, haven’t you?

Problem was, her excerpt didn’t come in a format that I could just paste into the highly sophisticated TNB interface we TNBers have come to know and love, so I had to type it in word for word. So there I am, in between feeding Goldfish to my two youngest while frantically tapping in eight glorious pages of:

I took the piss into my open mouth with a smile. It was totally ridiculous. I was thinking, Okay, done. Now I’ve tried piss and I can say with truth and conviction whenever someone asks me about it: It’s not that big of a deal.

Then to the kids who are now pulling on my sleeve: What’s that sweetie? You need some more orange juice? OK, here you go. Now where’s your Cookie Monster dolly? Mommy needs to get back to work.

It’s a crazy life. And no, I don’t always finish the task I set out to do in a set time frame – the point is that I pay SOME attention to it during that time period, and then revisit later. After the children go to bed. After the husband gets attention and the dog gets fed. Maybe I’ve plucked my eyebrows by then. Hard to say.

But the MAIN reason for my conspicuous absence as of late (other than the fact that I’m ghostwriting a memoir for somebody…oh, that) is that I’m starting a magazine.

SCREE!

I’m really excited about it, in case you couldn’t tell. I have two partners: the lovely and talented graphic artiste, Carissa Carter, and my tech guru of a husband, Scott. We’ve been working hard at it for months now. The concept is the celebration of the scramble on the way to summiting your venture. Scree is the name climbers use for the loose rocks and boulders you have to cross before you reach the top of a high peak. It’s immense and it’s challenging. Just like my magazine. Just like my life.

We’ve got some incredible features lined up, including some of TNB’s own.

Slade Ham talks about what it’s like to be pushing toward his goals as a professional comic.

Joe Daly spotlights the next big front man in rock n’ roll in the band Dom.

Brin-Jonathan Butler discusses his push uphill as he creates a documentary about world champion Cuban boxer Guillermo Rigondeaux.

Kimberly Wetherell talks about being on the brink of successfully producing her first feature film, Lullaby.

Rich Ferguson writes about what it’s like to push toward that ever-illusive goal of actually becoming an urban legend (as well as his poem under the same name).

Nick Belardes even makes a brief appearance dressed like a Russian cosmonaut, excuse me, Commanaut.

There are many others, too. We’ve got an interview with a trending robotics company. A steam-punk electric tandem bicycle inventor. A fashion designer. An award winning photographer. And more. All people working toward the common goal of hitting the top of whatever it is they’re aiming for.  In a way, it’s like reading about next year’s super heroes before they hit it huge and are on the front page of Wired or Rolling Stone.

But it’s not about fame. It’s about the struggle. The push to be the best. The things that drive a person to keep going and make it all the way to their dream. It’s epic. And it’s just a little bit in all of us.

The really cool part is that we’ve finished design on the hard copy and have held the first proof in our hands. It’s a magazine. It’s real. It’s a real magazine. We’ve been working on this for so long now and we’re finally on the brink of letting it go. The web site is close behind the scenes, but to the public it currently looks like this:

http://scree.co

So, yeah. I’ve been busy.

But man, it feels good.

 

 

* And, no. My toddler is not actually named Ashtray Babyhead, thank you very much, Rich Ferguson, for naming him to the TNB community. (Sweet Wittle Ashtway.)

 

I live a charmed life.It wouldn’t work for most people I don’t think, but for me it is a skin tight glove, molded and designed to fit perfectly.My schedule is hectic.There are planes, and hotels, and stages, and radio stations, and studios, and rental cars, and so many different skylines that the whole world begins to bleed together like a chalk drawing in the rain.

I

We mad fly; we
Dream dry; we
Scribble drunk; we
Fake the funk; we
Keeps it real; we
Sly conceal; we
Royal hall; we
Southern drawl; we
Bleed tears; we
Clink cheers; we
Fling curves; we
Gnaw nerves; we
Break it down; we
Class clown; we
Write raw; we
Down by law.

So, things were looking good for Rapture 2011. We’ve had a few years now of horrible earthquakes, wars…the makings of the perfect antichrist in office (nothing personal, Mr. Obama). Family Radio’s Harold Camping had done his derndest to gather together a skittish flock for the purpose of mobilizing placards and billboards all over the world. People had been warned. Bank accounts had been budgeted to hit the end on May 21st. And when 6pm came and went without incident, well, let’s just say some people have been left bewildered. (I’m looking at you, Kirk Cameron.)

Left with nothing but the finale of American Idol to look forward to, many of us found ourselves obsessively going over the events of the past several weeks. What happened? What went wrong? Why the hell are we still here?

Aside from this entirely plausible explanation, here are a few reasons why the Rapture may have failed:


10) The flight suits required to transport millions of people got hung up in production.

9) Father and Son had a last minute argument over what to serve at the Feast of the Lamb. (Jesus had been kind of hoping for chicken.)

8) It didn’t actually fail. Has anyone seen any Moonies lately?

7) My dead grandmother gave God a piece of her mind about this rapture tomfoolery and convinced Him to keep things going at least until her great grandchildren could graduate from college.

6) God was not exactly comfortable with having to syndicate FamilyRadio.com in heaven. Something to do with investors and image….

5) God got distracted playing Angry Birds. Forgot what day it was.

4) One overheard wayward pastor on telephone late one night desperately turned: “Fudge and Play – 21 /

Gay” into: “Judgment Day – 21 May” to his cross-armed, foot-tapping wife standing in the doorway.

3) Heh. There never was supposed to be a Rapture this year. What we all witnessed was simply an underhanded attempt at the right wing’s version of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act: Incentive to spend all or most of your money by May 21.

2) God took stock of the company he was about to be keeping for all eternity and had second thoughts.

1) As it turned out, there was actually somebody interested in finding out what happened with the American Idol Finale.*


*As it was Scotty McCreery who won, the Rapture will proceed as planned on the given raincheck date of October 21.

** Many thanks to Beanie Brady for your additional insights that went into this list.


It’s spring, and all of you sexy people out there know just what I mean when I say, mmm-mm. It’s time for the return of the sexy.

The sun is bouncing brightly off that freshly waxed chest in front of you where its owner is parked enjoying a delicious shot of wheatgrass. He’s working on his computer like he’s got a novel brewing. Or maybe he’s a writer for GQ. He’s just made eye contact with you as if to say candidly, “I see you watching me being sexy over here. I, too, acknowledge your sexy.”

Oh, yeah.

That’s right. It’s been a long, cold run up here in the mountains, and I am happy to report that spring is finally in the air. The birds are birding, the chipmunks are chipmunking; and the bees…are beeing sexy. Yesterday, I was at a giant garage sale for my kid’s school. Helping out because volunteering is sexy. I didn’t end up doing much, but I did walk away with a great deal on a purple and black corset, which just goes to show, economy is sexy, too.

A lot has happened this last year. Grandpa got married. He’s 90 and she’s 96, but neither of them are a day over sexy. Together they witnessed the rise and fall of the USSR, the coming of age of Barbie, and the invention of the chocolate chip cookie. Had a preacher man say some words over them without actually signing a marriage license so they could be sexy together without getting their families all riled up over mingling their bank accounts. Last I heard, they had moved back to their single rooms over at the independent living center. A little space is sexy, too—oh yeah.

It’s spring and it’s time to be sexy. Two weeks ago, Slade Ham, Megan DiLullo, Uche Ogbuji, Richard Cox and Sam Demaris came up to our house. It had snowed 8 inches of fresh powder, so it wasn’t very sexy. Even so, we laughed, told stories, ate donuts and drank a lot of very sexy whiskey. At one in the morning, we broke out the kickboxing gear and sparred in the living room. I got the wind just about knocked out of me by a well-placed punch to the side by Slade. Brought me to my knees it was so sexy. Even Scott just shook his head from behind the video camera and didn’t rush to my defense. Megan put on some headgear like she was going to jump in but was eventually pulled back to the sofa by a 90 proof magnet. Uche broke out into some def poetry while Sam called us a bunch of high schoolers. Richard played Tiffany. There is nothing sexy about Tiffany. Donuts are sexy, though. Especially if you’re a dude made out of fried bread. Oh, yeah.

But Spring is in the air now, and all of those kinks have been smoothed over. No excuse to not be sexy. Even Simon Smithson and Zara Potts and the rest of you living down under don’t have to stop being sexy even though it’s well into autumn now for you. Autumn is a sexy word for fall. You’re down there and we’re up here and we’re passing like two sexy ships in the night. Passing the baton of sexy.

Don’t worry, though. We’ll have enough sexy in the northern hemisphere to carry you over. Nathaniel Missildine in France. David S. Wills in China. Steve Sparshott and James Irwin in England. Irene Zion over in Belgium(?) and Judy Prince somewhere in between. We’re creating a mesh network of sexy and beaming it south. Down below the earth’s belt. Now that’s sexy.

That’s right, Spring is in the air and it’s time to be sexy so slip out of those shoes and curl your toes deep into some warm sand somewhere. Wear something that ends in an ‘ini’. Order something cold that comes in a pineapple or coconut shell because drinks that come in their own skin are sexy. You know it. But it’s spring, so don’t worry too much about having to try. In spring, just about everything is sexy. In spring, even Tiffany is sexy.

So, keep on keepin’ on, wheatgrass boy. You’ve got a spot of green in the corner of your mouth there.

There you go.

Oh, yeah.

Nothing gets the blood pumping for an ex-Evangelical better than a good old-fashioned End of the World prediction.

You’ve no doubt seen the billboards. The End of the World is scheduled for May 21, 2011. And if you’re having trouble believing that, you’d better check out the little gold seal in the corner that says “The Bible Guarantees It”, because everyone knows that a gold seal doesn’t lie.