Our Lady of the Marshmallow Creme 

In this month's East Bay book news, a highly paid athlete calls football players slaves, and a chakra-loving priest disses the Pope.

Twinkie sushi: Wrap slices of said Hostess pastry in fruit leather; insert candied fruit in creamy filling. Serve. New from Berkeley's Ten Speed Press, The Twinkies Cookbook ($12.95) features Pigs in a Twinkie, Pineapple Twinkie Pudding, Twinkie Jubilee, Twinkie Dip (think: fondue), Twinkie Salad, and Twinkie Tacos (mash the "iconic snack cake," as Hostess' publicists call it; spread over fried tortilla; top with marshmallow creme and maraschino cherries). Comprising home-tested formulas that customers submitted to Hostess, "this amazing collection of recipes reflects what makes Twinkies so special," says the baking conglomerate's Theresa Cogswell. "The book speaks to the enduring appeal of this wonderfully simple little treat. ... We used to think the Twinkie just couldn't get any better." But it could.

Super Bowl servitude: Ex-Oakland Raider Anthony Prior claims in his new book The Slave Side of Sunday (Stone Hold, $25) that pro football is today's plantation, on which athletes are "bought and sold, traded and drafted, like our ancestors."

Exit stage right: It's "possible to be both a Republican and an artist," Gary Cole insists. As a UC Berkeley undergrad aiding the elder Bush's presidential campaign, Cole proved it; later he worked for the CIA and aided the next Bush's run. Heading a theater-to-film production company, Cole won a plum NEA job offer — retracted days later, he says, because someone up there didn't like a certain play, Poona the Fuck-Dog, which his company produced. "The administration would not give me a reason for the withdrawal of the offer," says Cole, who hasn't changed his party registration. "I found out the truth from two well-connected Oregon Republicans who had no reason at that time to mislead me." An actor, playwright, and lawyer whose book Artless (Ooligan, $19.95) charts what he sees as a betrayal, Cole says that as a Republican artist, he "could have helped to fund some more adventurous and daring projects than were otherwise likely to make it past the NEA brass." Projects like Poona, perhaps. Production rights to the play, penned by Jeff Goode, are handled by OriginalWorksOnline.com, which offers this official synopsis: "Once upon a time there was a Fuck Dog. Named Poona. Poona was a very lonely Fuck Dog until one day she was visited by her Fairy God Phallus and taught how to play a fun game in her big pink box. Poona suddenly becomes a very popular Fuck Dog!"

Don't call me tranny: Five-o'clock-shadow-chinned Dhillon Khosla isn't female anymore. "Coming into my male body was like one big déjà vu," remarks the lawyer, who spent ten years on staff at the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals. "It is really important to me to not be referred to as transgender or transsexual, but simply as a man who was born in a female body." Khosla's memoir Both Sides Now (Tarcher, $26.95) recounts his days as Aisha, a woman dating women, choosing surgery at 28. He sold his Oakland loft to pay off debts incurred by the procedures, one of which nearly killed him. "[That] was actually a real defining moment for me, because as soon as I woke up, the surgeon told me I'd almost died from blood loss and they had to pull me out halfway through. ... My immediate response was, 'When can we go back and finish?' The impulse to make it all the way home was that strong." Some readers call his book warm; others call it abrasive. "Readers are seeing reflections of themselves in the story," muses Khosla, who is also an alt-rock singer. "It reminds me of that famous quote by Mohammed the prophet: 'Those who insult me are merely polishing the mirror.'"

Wimpyfall: A twelve-foot-long "tiny trickle" a thousand feet high in Walnut Creek that "will certainly not be anything to impress you" is one of but two East Bay cascades cited in Waterfall Lover's Guide: Northern California (Mountaineers, $16.95), by Matt and Krissi Danielsson.

Pistil whip: An all-white meal comprising halibut, jicama, and spuds seems funny to a female named Killarney in a poem by Gary Young, whose Pleasure ($12.95), new from Berkeley's Heyday Books, exudes his trademark breathtaking imagery and borderline-eeuw sensuality: Aroused by an iris, Young longs to "penetrate those petals." A dying woman injected with morphine releases "a string of sighs as if she were coming."

Talkin' 'bout an inquisition: At Oakland's rave-based "Cosmic Masses," worshipers access their chakras and wail "Ma." Matthew Fox administers the Eucharist. Fox was dismissed from the Dominican order in 1993 after a storm of controversy spawned by his calling God "our mother" and his links with local witch Starhawk. In A New Reformation (Inner Traditions, $12.95), he writes that today's Protestantism — and presumably today's Protestants — are "anemic, tired, boring, incurious, unadventurous, emasculated, compromising, confused, depressed ... unmystical, lost, irrelevant, preoccupied with trivia, uninspired, one-dimensional, and burned out." (Um, tell that to the folks in the megachurches.) He adds another Bay Area-brand slap: They're also "anti-intellectual." (Um, but he denounces judgmentalism.) Joseph Ratzinger, "the man most responsible for the dumbing down of the clergy," is "an inquisitor general." It was Ratzinger who, in 1984, launched the first investigation into Fox. March's Cosmic Mass was called "Time to Hona' the Black Madonna."

In other numinous news: UC Berkeley alum Aliki Barnstone's poem "Bathing Jesus" describes wanting to "pour warm water on his back and thighs and wake the man in him," then tongue-kiss the Savior, it seems. Barnstone is also a translator; her new one is The Collected Poems of C.P. Cavafy (Norton, $25.95), featuring the works of modern Greece's most famous recluse.

Stereotypecast: Crash is "purportedly a courageous attempt to handle racial issues," says William Wong, author of Yellow Journalist and Images of America: Oakland's Chinatown (Arcadia, $19.99). But scant screentime goes to its middle-aged Korean couple, "this constantly screaming, screeching woman and her anonymous business-suited husband who turns out at the end to be evil." Compared to the film's nuanced treatment of other ethnicities, Wong asks, "how come its only East Asians are one-dimensional? What with Yo-Yo Ma, Maya Lin, the old Connie Chung thing — and you're always gonna see an Asian-American female reading the news on TV — you can't ask 'Where are the Asians?' anymore. Yet our portrayals are not rich enough."

Bricks and metaphor: Not all the poems in noted Berkeley architect Murray Silverstein's new book Any Old Wolf (Sixteen Rivers, $15) are about buildings. Besides an "Ode to Retail Space," he also writes arrestingly of thrips, candy, and more. Both of his careers intersect. "In architecture, you learn to tease the form of a building out of its site and proposed functions," says Silverstein, who will be at Cody's Telegraph on May 7. "But then, as the design develops, you have to let the form come into being and make its demands as well. The same thing happens with poems. ... Where buildings are expensive, must meet budgets, follow codes, and be made by groups, the materials of poetry are simple, cheap — pencil, paper, language — and you do the work in solitude, trying only to please your inner ear. But some poems, I've noticed, envy the materiality of place, and yearn to be buildings."

Mold-related mixup: Last month, Press Here claimed that Claire Burch helms Berkeley's Regent Press. She doesn't, but Regent published her novel Charles Darwin in Cyberspace ($19.95), in which the evolutionist's wife hallucinates after ergot mold gets into her pudding.

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