Help us welcome I.M. Cupnjava, author of Full Circle.
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My home state of Virginia holds a wealth of destinations. We have the ocean on one end and the mountains on the other. Nearly all of it, thanks to the interstate system, can be done as a daytrip or a long weekend. This past weekend a friend and I went out to see Natural Bridge in Natural Bridge, VA.
Seeing Natural Bridge is worth it. Seriously.
Protip: When the town is named after the tourist attraction be skeptical.
I found a nice campground that's just a short distance from a slew of attractions. The cabin was adorable. Natural Bridge was majestic. The creative quirky installation art of Mark Cline was an absolute treat. We had the chance to meet him and he's a treasure in and of himself.
One of Cline's better known installation pieces. A full replica of Stonehenge made of foam. Taken at sunrise on the equinox. Yes, I woke up before dawn while on vacation to see the sun rise around slabs of painted Styrofoam. We roll hardcore like that in the commonwealth.
My problem rests squarely in the lap of the Natural Bridge W--hmm...perhaps I should change the name to protect the guilty. (Translation: limit liability). My problem rests squarely in the lap of the Solid-Rock Span-Traversing Natural Structure Museum of Wax.
Protip: When you buy tickets to see a bridge made of stone and carved by nature and they give you free admission to a museum of figures made of wax and carved by man be skeptical.
My traveling partner and I went to the SRSTNS Museum of Wax after walking through the underground caverns which contained, as he said, "Forty-five steps. Doesn't sound like much, does it? They don't tell you that they're uneven, irregular steps and at some point you're grappling and attempting to pull yourself up with nothing but your lips. I think blew out a chamber of my heart down there." And, before being treated to the oh-so-darling SRSTNS Museum of Wax, we saw Natural Bridge and walked through what must have been a warp in the fabric of the space-time continuum as it's a 10 mile to walk to the waterfall behind Natural Bridge, but only three-quarters of a mile to walk back. The tour guide claims that that there are 137 steps down to the bridge and the walk to waterfall is two miles roundtrip.
I do not remember these evil stairs being this uniform. They're deceptive. Not shown: The entire tour group gasping to catch their breath.
Lies. It's a solid 25 miles to the waterfall and .75 miles back. The Theory of Relativity explains that, right? Sure it does. Fair warning, the 45 miles it takes to get to the waterfall are all uphill.
Editors everywhere twitch when they think of this being called a waterfall.
The tour guide also claims that George Washington surveyed the land and climbed 23 feet up one of the walls to chisel his initials. What they don't tell you is that the initials were uncovered in 1927 and no one knows who the "G. W." was. Additionally, there's no documentation supporting the idea the former president surveyed the area. His other survey sites, like The Great Dismal Swamp, are well documented. This story came about around the time someone wanted to sell something not unlike the Betty Ford house claims. The real story of Natural Bridge is remarkable, but I can't go into that now.
Protip: Tour guides lie. Be skeptical.
George Washing slept...err...carved here. Maybe. Possibly. Probably not, but it sells tickets.
So, after "ooo'ing" and "ahhh'ing" at the Natural Bridge and being wholly underwhelmed by what the tour guides claim is a waterfall, we headed to the craptastic Wax Museum. I suspect that they employ a sculptor, but I'm not entirely sure. I'm confident that they do not employ a writer or a historian.
Protip: When the signs in a "museum" are misspelled, be skeptical.
I'm new on this blog and you may need a little bit of information about me before I continue. I recognize that I'm a bit of stickler for historical accuracy. I know what day is America's real Independence Day, but don't whine about how we're celebrating the wrong day every Fourth of July. I shut up, eat a hamburger, eat something fried, and watch the pretty colors in the sky like any other good American. I do, however, get real testy around Thanksgiving when everyone is singing the praises of the Pilgrims being the first colonizing Europeans here. Umm...excuse me, Jamestown was founded in 1607. Mayflower and crew were lost trying to get to Jamestown, ran out of beer, and took to shore to brew some more in 1620. So, now you know that my persnickety level is somewhere between "Celebrate July Second" and "Remember Jamestown Colony and the Lost Colony."
The sheer crapitude of the museum must have short circuited my brain. I normally take loads of pictures, but this oh-so-amazing museum melted the picture taking part of my brain. I woefully admit that I have no pictures.
I had no problems with The Garden of Eden display even if Eve was a blonde Caucasian. It's a wax museum not a history museum, right? This one tried to be a historical museum and that's where it went wrong.
I can handle the three different Thomas Jeffersons who didn't look like each other and looked almost but not entirely unlike Jefferson. I can even take shoe-horned references to missionaries being burned at the stake by members of a Native American tribe in a display that was handled with all the cultural sensitivity as small pox blankets. The room-sized "Last Supper" display was wholly disappointing and it made me feel like I'd left a wannabe history museum and stumbled into a church. It lacked any real information about the fresco or Leonardo da Vinci. It did, however, spend a good deal of time blowing wind around with fans and giving me a sermon. I kept waiting for the collection plate.
I could take all of that in stride. Virginia is in the Bible Belt, after all. I consider myself lucky when natural history museums don't have to dedicate a wing to Young Earth Creationists.
What angered me was something completely unrelated. What angered me was the treatment of our current president. In one section of the museum, and I fear that term is being used incorrectly, there were two large displays on either side of the walkway. One side had all of the Presidents of the United States bar one. The other side had prominent African American figures including one president, who looked distinctly Latino and was only recognizable due to the Presidential Seal on the podium before him, and the current First Lady, who looked like they took Laura Bush's wax figure and dipped it in dark paint.
I don't care what your politics are. I don't care if you like Obama or if you don't. The fact is that he's the 44th President of the United States. He's one of 43 men to have held that office (unless one counts Peyton Randolph and the other Presidents of the Continental Congress). I'm not trying to take anything away from being a groundbreaking historical African American figure, but he's the president for crying out loud!
If you're going to have a display of all of the Presidents of the United States then you need to have a display of all of the presidents! Perhaps your Clinton looks Asian, your George W. Bush looks like he eats Play-Doh, and the oddly gray Reagan looks like an Area 51 accident, but you put all of the presidents together in a display.
"Oh," but you might be saying, "Maybe they didn't have the room for Obama on the side with all of the Caucasian guys." Oh, but no. That was not the case. All of the Anglo-Saxon presidents were standing around a mock-up of a porch. They had so much room in this display that at the end they included Laurel and Hardy playing checkers and a several other treasured actors who never came close to being president. There was room. There was a lot of room.
At this point I looked at my traveling companion and said, "The Confederacy and Christianity are well featured here, but other than this display how many African Americans do you remember?"
There were three others: two slaves and a figure standing in the hallway as if she were a patron. She was dressed in 50s style clothing. There had been no Latinos and the presentation of Native Americans teetered between "noble savage" and "savage" and their religious beliefs bounced between polytheistic and monotheistic and included claims that they worshiped the bridge itself. The fact that this land had been sacred was not mentioned. With a few notable exceptions like Frederick Douglas and the First Lady, nearly all of the faces of the African American figures seemed to have been created by someone who frequently says, "They all look the same."
The only thing informative or interesting about this elaborate candle factory was the basement where they showed their process. Disembodied heads and half-formed faces lined the shelves. Limbs and torsos dotted the walls. It felt like walking into a secret workshop run by Ed Gein. It was equally cool and creepy.
I highly recommend seeing the beauty of the Natural Bridge, but the trickle they call a waterfall and the Wax Museum are at best a disappointment and at worst offensive. The tour guides are sources of legend presented as fact and springs of misinformation. By all means see the bridge. It's worth it, but be skeptical.
Blurb: In a war-torn world, a group of vampires struggle to reclaim their past glory. One of their own is missing. Weakened by solitude, the leader of the vampires, Kendrick, must find Byron, his covenant mate, before the pain of isolation kills them both. However, locating Byron is the least of the vampires' problems.
The chaos of the world's death rattle breeds suffering, death, and pestilence as well as a call for vengeance. The opposing sides of good and evil never looked so similar. A war that began with the dawn of time has enjoyed a respite. That respite is ending. Vampiric history, human history, and the lives of two lovers are about to come full circle.
Kendrick was going to have to be the responsible one. It wasn't Seth's fault. Seth didn't know what buttons he'd pushed. Seth was only trying to help. Such a sweet and deserving human. His lips found one of Seth's nipples, and his hands found Seth's waistband. Torn between wanting to embrace and wanting to ravage, Kendrick twisted his talons in the cotton of Seth's pajama pants. He licked Seth's nipple until it firmed upon his tongue. Alternating between sucking and pushing with his tongue, he toyed with the nipple between his teeth.
This wasn't enough.
Seth's life swirled around him. Seth's moans slipped in his ears, and Seth's hands--oh dear God--Seth's hands on his back--all of it made him crave more. He pulled his head back, leaving just the tip of his tongue against Seth's skin. He teased Seth's nipple. "Tell me to stop, Seth."
Seth curled his fingers and ran his smooth nails up Kendrick's back. "I'm not going to stop you."
Kendrick arched his back and pushed against Seth's touch. A strained groan left him. He shifted up and brushed his lips against Seth's. "Tell me no."
"Yes." Seth nudged forward and drew Kendrick into a kiss.
Kendrick closed his eyes and dove into the kiss. Seth arched from the bedding and clawed at Kendrick's back. The more Seth clawed, the harder Kendrick kissed. The firmer Kendrick kissed, the more Seth clutched. A synergistic cycle that razed Kendrick's senses.
Mustering what was left of his self-control, Kendrick jerked away from Seth. Panting, he crossed his arms over his chest and pressed his talons against his shoulders. This was going to turn into full-blown venery if he didn't check himself. "Stop me, Seth. Please."
Seth sat up and stretched out his arm. "Take me, Kendrick, please." He lightly ran his fingers along Kendrick's silk covered arousal. "You know you want to."
Kendrick's eyes popped open. This was entirely too tempting! He grabbed Seth's wrists, pushed them together, and slammed Seth's hands against the bedding above the human's head. He restrained Seth with one hand and tossed pillows over his shoulder, looking for his robe. With the end of his belt between his teeth, he yanked on his robe until the strip of silk was freed. He coiled the belt against Seth's wrists and knotted it.
The fixtures to the baptismal tub had long since been removed, but the holes were still there. He looped the tails of the belt through the holes in the tub and knotted it. One test yank told Kendrick there would be no further temptations from the tempter.
Kendrick rested on his shins and studied his handiwork. Perhaps that had been a mistake. A blush of passion dusted Seth's cheeks. Need glistened in Seth's brown eyes. The clean lines of Seth's understated chest rippled with shadow and light at every breath. Two pink nipples called to Kendrick. Seth's navel whispered for caress. The pronounced erection between Seth's legs begged for pleasure.
Kendrick's eyes fluttered back, and an invisible force pulled him down. Seth's heels kicked the bedding while Kendrick roamed the human's torso. Hunger and need drove Kendrick. He licked, sucked, and nibbled as the whim struck, making his way to Seth's navel.
The smell of arousal slammed into Kendrick. He wanted Seth. He wanted Seth's life and hope. He wanted to feel it around his body and gripping his cock. After tonguing Seth's navel, Kendrick turned his attention to Seth's delectably engorged, cloth-covered erection. He ran the tip of his nose up Seth's length and deeply inhaled the tantalizing spice of arousal. He dragged his lips down the firm bulge, and Seth pushed back, seemingly encouraging the attention.
Kendrick twisted his talons in the fabric over Seth's hips. He pleaded with his seducer. "Please, tell me to stop."
Seth rolled his hips, pushing his cock against Kendrick's shoulder. "Please, go on."
Kendrick gritted his teeth. He twisted his fists and ripped the fabric. Seth's prick bobbed once it was freed. "Halt me."
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Bio: I.M. Cupnjava is a "chick with a keyboard" who is never far from the coffee pot and cherishes the beauty of human sexuality. She lives in Virginia with her cats. Originally, she started writing because the "voices in her head" wouldn't shut up until she told their story. She has a degree in Sociology and a minor in Anthropology which she feels helps deepen her understanding of human (and humanoid) behavior. She harbors a great interest in philosophy and science.
Momma Cup has been guiding Cup, as many people call her, toward being an author since Cup was twelve, but it took a friend, J. V., to give Cup the kick in her backside to turn her hobby into a career. A few decades past twelve, Momma Cup finally got to hear, "You were right, Mom." And J.V. learned she forever changed Cup's life.
Writing has been more work and more fulfilling than Cup ever imagined possible.