Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dave and the Rock Band

I'm in a bad mood. I've again reached one of those points in the natural cycle of life when things (mainly little things) go wrong in domino fashion and I find that everything is irritating.

I would specify some examples, but right now I'm so irritable that the very thought of listing these mishaps is hateful to me. Perhaps part of the problem is that I recognize exactly how petty the mishaps are--or to what extent I deserve them--that makes them especially irksome ... i.e. I'm embarrassed I'm letting it all get under my skin.

It would not be entirely off the mark to blame much of my pissiness right now on money problems. I get paid tomorrow, but having just written checks for nearly all the bills that have been patiently awaiting this day, I will be left with hardly anything.

It doesn't help that there were auto insurance and county property tax to pay--or that, after spending $900 a few months ago to repair my car (for a problem, which I strongly suspect might have been solved for a couple of dollars), just before the holidays too, I postponed full payment on some of my bills in January.

The silver lining, of course, is that February is a short month.

But it's also a month in which a friend of mine has a birthday, and I find the fact that I'm unable to do much, if anything, to help her celebrate too sad to accept. (My friend expects nothing, by the way, so the disappointment is all mine.)

A further silver lining is that, just when my real life is tedious beyond words, my dreams have been little pockets of heaven. Not that they have been free of anxiety, though.

A couple of nights ago I dreamed Doris Day was trying to get me to go to bed with her. It wasn't out of lust, particularly. She seemed to be wanting to do it just because it would be a natural next step in what apparently had been a long friendship.

I agreed. We met at a large, modern hotel, and while she showered, I walked down to the lounge for a drink.

Then Dave showed up. (Note the preponderance of the letter "D," something I hadn't noticed until just now.) Dave was my best friend in college. We were fuck buddies, or, more precisely, we often (ok, daily) masturbated mutually, usually touching (ok, usually naked on top of each other).

The friendship with Dave ended badly decades ago, and this fact was no less true in the dream.

But in the dream, Dave had not aged at all. He was still tall, beefy, smooth-skinned, with muscular shoulders and arms, all highlighted nicely in a long-sleeved jersey that was perhaps a few sizes too small.

Dave convinced me to blow off Doris Day and spend the time with him--which I agreed to, but woke up worrying how I would kindly break the news to Doris.

And then, just last night, I dreamed that I joined a rock band. In the dream I was 54, and the other band members just in their twenties. Also, the dream did nothing to change the reality that I can't sing or play an instrument, but nobody in the band seemed to mind any of that.

The lead singer was a beautiful young girl with long hair--who sang a bit like Melanie, a bit like Janis Joplin. Pretty much everyone else in the band was dressed hippie-style circa 1970. I, however, was dressed in professorial tweed.

The boys in the band, besides being very young, were short and beautifully muscled, which they showed off by wearing their shirts open and wearing bead necklaces that accentuated their sexy collarbones and adam's apples.

Frankly, there's not much to say about this dream. The lead singer vocalized while the boys took turns giving me massages--apparently in preparation for our big gig that night.

Anyway, as you can imagine, I found the dream very entertaining.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Breaking Bad (review)

breaking bad

If anything, last night's episode of AMC's Breaking Bad (the second of the new series) was scarier, funnier, and sicker than the first.

Last week, Vince Gilligan (producer/writer/director, of The X-Files fame) introduced us to the hapless Mr. White (Bryan Cranston), an Albuquerque high-school chemistry teacher.

Faced with a pregnant wife and a wise-ass son with cerebral palsy at home, uninspired students in the classroom, and pay so low that he apparently has to work a second job at a car wash, White finds out he, just shy of 50, has lung cancer with a short prognosis.

In response to the dire situation, White goes out on a limb and partners with Pinkman (Aaron Paul), a loser former student, to cook and distribute crystal meth. Desperate times, desperate measures, indeed.

Mild-mannered White makes excellent product and, in a surprising twist, quickly transitions to cold-blooded killer--"better killing through chemistry," as necessary to protect his new business interests.

Oh, did I forget to mention that his brother-in-law's in the DEA?

In last night's episode, Mrs. White begins to worry about the exact nature of her husband's relationship with his slacker ex-student, and we all get an ick-making chemistry lesson on the effects of hydrochloric acid on a human corpse ... and other materials.

Not to be mistaken for the Showtime series Weeds, Breaking Bad offers both drier wit and an even darker picture of suburbia. Bryan Cranston conveys a sense of the main character's desperation, combined with the "new lease on life" that a life of crime comes to offer him.

With this, its second foray into series television (following last year's highly addictive series Mad Men), AMC is already outstretching all the competition (except HBO) in original television entertainment.

And with HBO retiring The Sopranos last year and The Wire this year, it may be only a matter of time before AMC provides the new benchmark for provocative quality drama.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

"Nothing Is Dispensable"

werner horvath nietzsche
Werner Horvath, Friedrich Nietzsche--The Three Metamorphoses of the Spirit, 1998

"This ultimate, most joyous, most wantonly extravagant Yes to life represents not only the highest insight but also the deepest, that which is most strictly confirmed and born out by truth and science.

"Nothing that is can be subtracted, nothing is dispensable—the aspects of existence rejected by the Christians and other nihilists are of an infinitely higher order in the order of rank of values than even that which the instinct of d├ęcadence could approve and call good.

"To comprehend this requires courage and, as a condition of that, an excess of strength: for precisely as far as courage may venture forward, precisely according to that measure of strength one approaches the truth.

"Knowledge, saying Yes to reality, is just as necessary for the strong as cowardice and the flight from reality—as the 'ideal' is for the weak, who are inspired by weakness ..."

--Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, 1888

There Will Be Blood (review)

daniel day lewis

There Will Be Blood is astoundingly good. Slow and stark--it's more like Welles and Kubrick--with a nod perhaps to von Stroheim--than Altman, to whom the film is dedicated and whose influence is clearer in Paul Thomas Anderson's earlier films Boogie Nights and Magnolia.

As I see it, it's a movie about American capitalism and American religion--and what must have been a conflict between the two at one time, in the early 20th century. The iconography and character names invoke the Old Testament--but the tone of the movie is modernist and skeptical--without the aloof irony of post-modernism.

The influence of the best silent-era films is very evident. Use of visual parallels--railroad tracks at the beginning of the film matched with bowling-alley lanes at the end; pools of oil matched with pools of blood--reinforce Anderson's seriousness as an artist--a director (like all the best directors) concerned with telling stories through montage and motion than strictly through dialogue and characterization.

Even though I was sometimes impatient with the movie's pace, I realize now that large parts of it are wedged in my consciousness, no doubt for good.

The performances of Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano progress from near muteness to over-the-top scenery-chewing--but the escalation seems deliberate and significant in a film that begins in a hole in the ground and ends in a Xanadu-like mansion.

Even the musical score is risk-taking--traditional music combined with Arvo Part and drumming electronica.

I've never read Upton Sinclair's 1927 novel (Oil!), but the film has made me curious about it.

The film is not hard to fathom--it's surprisingly (shockingly?) direct in its message--though its artistic ambition may make it a puzzle to audiences primed for action-adventure or lush historical drama.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

More Pondering on My Total Lack of Political Integrity

I was a Kucinich man until he stopped campaigning; now I am an Obama man--even though Edwards is closer to me on the issues (especially on the plight of America's working classes).

But I may not be an Obama man by the end of this blog.

Clinton seems the most presidential of the lot--a quality that works at least as much to her disadvantage in my mind as to her advantage. She seems the perfect CEO, but I don't think America needs a CEO right now.

America doesn't need an imperial presidency either, so maybe it's also time to break the Bush-Clinton-Bush daisy-chain and give another family a shot as world leader.

What America needs is an angry prophet--and either Obama or Edwards would do here--as Obama has enough of the requisite self-righteousness (if not, no doubt Oprah would lend him some of hers) and Edwards has the rage (despite always looking vaguely like an amiable Eagle Scout).

But we need an angry prophet who won't seize power and turn into an evil dictator, which prophets are prone to do once given sufficient muscle.

Also, what we need is an agnostic angry prophet, if such a thing exists, and not a prophet who wraps himself in Jesusy sunshine to gain public office.

Obama's embrace of ex-gay black ministers is no more troubling to me than his active cheerleading for any religion.

What became of JFK's promise not to mix creed with civic responsibility, and have any of the candidates, Democrat or Republican, made a direct promise to keep their dogma and magical thinking out of their public policy? I don't know. Have they?

So, further, I don't trust that Obama is even as much of a friend to the GLBT community as Clinton or Edwards, neither of whom is more than lukewarm on equality.

But, then, here I go claiming the GLBT community as my own! though arguably I do not feel and never have felt entirely a part of that community--in spite of shared interests in cock (with the Gs and sometimes the Bs, at least)--nor am I convinced that such a community exists at all, at least as a nationwide political entity.

I say I am an Obama man because I like that he seems the most disconnected from the DNC machine, though arguably it is Edwards who spurns the big money that corporations and lobbyists are ready and willing to pour into his campaign ... in return for ...?

Don't even get me started on the DNC!

By and large the Democratic National Committee has been more than willing to talk tough on the war in Iraq to get votes, but gaining power in 2006, it merely fell into step with the Bush White House.

And for all the ballyhoo over first woman this and first black that, it has shown a marked indifference to the candidacy of Jim Neal in NC, who could provide Carolinians a clear alternative to Elizabeth Dole in the Senate ... but he's already been written off, apparently, because he's gay.

Maybe what America needs is neither a CEO nor a prophet, angry or otherwise. Maybe America is not analogous to a corporation or a church (though arguably the two are often analogous to each other).

Maybe America does not even need a President.

Maybe what America needs is a makeover.

Perhaps we can throw out Obama as the middle man, and elect Oprah as America's "Best Friend."

A Pontiac G-6 sedan, UGG boots, and Josh Groban cd's for every citizen!

America needs a diet plan and the moxie to pull itself out of debt.

We need Oprah to put the Bush White House in the hot seat, just as she did author James Frey, and we need to hear her say, "That's a lie. It's not an idea, Karl. That's a lie."

America has got a struggle ahead in the 21st century, and from time to time it will need a shoulder to cry on.

Oprah's got TWO of them!

We need to read more books.

We need to get things off our chests, just this once.

We need to recognize our codependency with fascistic Middle-Eastern states for what it really is.

Forget press conferences and State of the Union addresses, we need a leader with her own fucking magazine!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hercules, Samson, and Ulysses

kirk morris

I'm home today in time for a peplum triple feature on Turner Classic Movies: Hercules, Samson, and Ulysses sandwiched between Ben Hur and Jason and the Argonauts. Well, I caught only the tail end of Ben Hur, the part where Ben's mother and sister act like Queens for a Day after being cured of leprosy.

I must have seen all three movies at the theater as a kid--ever a student of the Pecs and Thighs School of Ancient History--but I don't remember HS+U.

In this one, Hercules (Kirk Morris, aka Adriano Bellini) and Ulysses (Enzo Cerusico) travel in search of a dangerous sea monster ... with a shipload of Italian bodybuilders, several quite hot ones. Morris looks pretty good, too ... a bit like the young Elvis, a bit like Buff Bagwell, but with the out-of-sync voice of Tony the Tiger.

They end up marooned in Israel, where the Philistines mistake Hercules for Samson. Easy mistake in the days before mugshots ... and the guy did manage to kill a lion with his bare hands, after all.

The leader of the Philistines, his evil minions wearing modified SS helmets, sets out to capture and kill Hercules/Samson, and, for good measure, kill all the Danite children to prevent "any future Samsons."

Meanwhile, the real Samson (Richard Lloyd, aka Rod Flash, aka Iloosh Koshabe) deduces from the Philistine attacks on the Danites that Hercules and his pals are in fact spies.

The film's full of the genre's usual mild S+M (an exotic dance in which Delilah, with I-Dream-of-Jeanie hair, gyrates to the beat of a snapping whip), heaving hot-waxed bosoms, and laughable dubbed dialogue:

--"We're dressed like Greeks, aren't we?"

--"Good point."

Also, one can't help but sympathize with the evil Philistine king when he laments to girlfriend Delilah, "Do you think it's easy fighting against someone who believes he was sent here by God?" (Quite possibly, the film offers other lucid insights to Middle East affairs, but I leave them to better wonks than I.)

Liana Orfei plays Delilah, delivering every line with a smirk and a pause as if to suggest that a double entendre waits behind every conjunction: "This Samson, is he as ... they say he is?" She convinces the king to let Hercules go, holding his men hostage, so he can prove that he is not Samson by capturing the real Samson.

The two he-men, inevitably, come face to face ... in Mesopotamian ruins made of hydrofoam and balsa wood ... and instinctively Hercules strips free of his tunic.

"Oh, that's how it is?" grins Samson.

And then the two dive into a wrestling match, exploring every possible hold that manages to thrust glistening chest against glistening chest.

H: "I never met such strength as yours. Why don't the two of us join forces?"

S: "I was thinking the same thing."

***SPOILER ALERT (Read no further and grow no brain if you want to be surprised by the film's conclusion.)***

Femme fatale that she is, though, Delilah double-crosses the two heroes, and playing fast and loose with God's Inspired Word, the movie depicts power couple Hercules and Samson bench-pressing the Temple of Dagon so that it collapses atop some feckless Philistine soldiers.

Through all this, Ulysses does little to earn his place in the film's title, except for cracking wise now and then with the cute Italian bodybuilders.

Hercules kills the wicked king by heaving a javelin roughly two and a half miles, and Delilah gazes on her fallen lover with a mixture of grief and amusement (as if to say, "Sometimes I just don't get men").

Bad lighting and choppy editing prevent me from reporting on what was up with the sea serpent.

***

Next up is Jason and the Argonauts, the first movie ever to give me a chubby.

I thought Todd Armstrong as Jason was as cute as Jesus in our Family Bible, and the film was the beginning of an intermittent six-year crush on Gary Raymond.

It wasn't until many years later that I realized that Hercules and Hylas were just shy of a civil union before the latter was squished by a giant walking bronze statue.

But when I was ten, my true beau was Doug Robinson (as Eupaemus), who looked a little like the choir director at our church. His underwater wrestling match with Gary Raymond is what gave me my chubby, and every time after that, when the choir director sang "How Great Thou Art," the chubby took a little curtain call.

No need to watch this one on TCM, since I've got the DVD for whenever I need a nostalgia wank.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Is It Really So Courageous When Straight Actors Play Gay Characters?

By now we know the drill.

Hollywood makes a gay-themed movie, and (1) the publicity makes much of the fact that the film's stars are really straight and (2) reviewers and audiences applaud the actors' courage in taking on the roles in the first place. (3) Gay lifestyle magazines then proceed to drool over the stars and, if granted actual interviews, quiz them about who they might "go gay" for and what they think of their "big gay following." (4) Nominations and awards often come tumbling after.

But in this day and age is it really so courageous to play gay? And why must we be told again and again that the actors are really not gay at all ... and, if necessary, they have the papers to prove it?

Just this morning, a good third of NPR's coverage of Heath Ledger's death consisted of replaying an old interview in which the talented young actor describes how he had to confront and use his own "fears" when he appeared in Brokeback Mountain and then of numbering the female companions he's had over the years ... for a second I was worried the list was going to trail all the way back to his high-school prom.

I had hoped the days of actors being typecast for playing gay or effeminate were behind us.

But sadly we live in a world where fans of Clay Aiken threaten to sue and destroy his livelihood if the shudderingly innocuous entertainer is ever proved to be homosexual.

With "fans" like that, who needs bashers?

Surely nothing recent actors have ventured in taking on gay roles even remotely compares to the courage it took in 1961 for British actor and matinee idol Dirk Bogarde to play gay in the groundbreaking film Victim ... considerably more risky because Bogarde was unmarried and not romantically attached to women, despite his denial at the time that he was gay, and because at the time homosexuality was still a punishable crime in the UK.

But has anyone bothered to give gay actors a word of praise for playing straight characters? What about those two Darrens on the old Bewitched TV show? Or the dad on The Brady Bunch? Where's the love there? and where were the Emmys?

Has anyone offered any evidence that Anthony Hopkins is not in fact a cannibal? What about those rumors that Gerard Butler died in Thermopylae?

Are actors "courageous" when they play characters otherwise different from themselves, say, in ethnicity or age?

Doesn't all the unwarranted praise amount to a tacit admission that if established actors are at risk for just being thought to be gay that a lot of mean-natured loonies are still running loose in the world ... who probably constitute an even greater risk to those of us who are actually cards-on-the-table gay?

And if it's so "risky" just to pretend to be gay in movies or on TV, why all the hesitation about passing and enforcing laws to protect openly gay men and women from the more likely risk of attacks and reprisals against them?

In truth, good money is made by the straight actors who play gay characters in the entertainment media ... and, given their supposed courage, they even enhance their credibility and chances of winning prestigious awards.

Hell, it's a slap in the face of all the gay guys who don't get paid a penny for craving cock and get hardly a pat on the back, much less the stunned admiration of award-presenters.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath

heath
1979-2008

I hope he slipped into darkness without fear and without pain. He will be remembered for his talent and the gentle dignity of his demeanor. His stay here was too brief.

Where You're Terrific If You're Even Good

The Oscar nominations were announced this morning.

Of the five Best Picture nominations, I've seen only Juno, Michael Clayton, and No Country for Old Men. Of these three, No Country was clearly the best.

I haven't yet seen There Will Be Blood, but I've found every other movie directed by Paul Thomas Anderson to be at least fascinating and can't expect any worse of this film.

I read the novel Atonement years ago and loved it, but the previews make the film adaptation look like one of the usual by-the-book British period pieces. I'll still see it, though, so I don't mean to sound like I'm passing judgment.

Besides wanting to sleep with Daniel Day-Lewis for a good two decades now, the only acting nomination I have particular enthusiasm for is Amy Ryan, who kicked ass in Gone Baby Gone. Throughout the movie I kept thinking that this was a career-making performance ... not even realizing this is the same actress who plays McNulty's put-upon, ex-cop live-in girlfriend on The Wire. Talk about "night and day"!

It would be delicious if she won the Best Supporting Actress award as the slutty mother of a missing little girl, but Oscar politics may give the prize to Cate Blanchett (perhaps for NOT winning Best Actress for Elizabeth: The Golden Age) or to Ruby Dee (perhaps for, well, hell, for just being Ruby Dee!)--Oscar voters go all gooey over biopics and for film legends they've basically altogether ignored in the past (not that this ever helped Alfred Hitchcock or Orson Welles win an Oscar, though).

I can't see a "Martin Scorsese factor" in this year's nominees for best director. I suppose all five are deserving, but the Coens amazingly reinvented themselves as Hitchcockian for No Country for Old Men (though, again, Hitchcockian never put any Oscars on Hitchcock's mantle) and I would be pleased for Paul Thomas Anderson to win ... belatedly for Boogie Nights or Magnolia, if not for There Will Be Blood.

Juno was a nice original screenplay, if about a dozen notches over the top of my "witty" meter. Everybody in it talks like a character on The West Wing. I would be happy if it won something, but, enjoyable though it was, I am a little bothered with its no-doubt-market-motivated compromise between "safe" and "cutting edge."

Sicko should win Michael Moore another Best Documentary award, if not for its wit and humanity, then for the fact that the Academy did not even nominate the Palm-D'or-winning Fahrenheit 9/11.

What effect the Hollywood writers' strike will have on the Oscars show is anybody's guess. The writing, such as it is, has never been one of the major reasons for watching the show, but understandably a lot of celebs may wish not to cross picket lines for just a chance to grab a gold-plated trophy and embarrass themselves, live, in front of zillions of viewers.

Hopefully, though, people will embarrass themselves ...

and some gay short-subject director or other will thrill us all by thanking his husband on live TV ...

and obnoxious reporters, embedded on the red carpet, will ask otherwise respected actors who they are wearing (only if we're very lucky will Kathy Griffin be asking other, more interesting questions) ...

and Hollywood will pat itself on the back once again for the achievements, most typically, of relatively serious artists who choose pointedly to be un-Hollywood.

Monday, January 21, 2008

¡Te voy a follar duro, chico!

ramon rodriguez

Anyone else catch Ramon Rodriguez open-shirted on the beach on last night's episode of The Wire?

I had to bite my knuckles to keep from waking the neighbors!

As Renaldo, bum-boy accomplice of Omar Little (played by Michael K. Williams ... also smokin'), Rodriguez has appeared in bed with Williams nude (but covered, dimly lit, or silhouetted), but last night's episode ("Not for Attribution," 5.3) gave fans a good view of the upper bod that keeps Omar from shooting straight.

Both actors are straight-identified, but the couple is one reason (and not even the best one) all gay men should be watching The Wire every Sunday night.

Who knows where this cutting-edge crime show is heading in its fifth and final season? but I'm telling you I'm cheering for Omar and Renaldo to make it out alive ... and to make out a few more times for the camera, as well.

Omar Little is the most fascinating take on the "homosexual villain" ... perhaps ever. In fact, he's only a villain in the murderous, criminal sense of the word, because with his private code (to rob only gangsters and to kill only as a last measure ... and never to kill "citizens") he is a villain both to fear and cheer for.

Renaldo is the latest (and handsomest) of a string of cute, multiracial lovers Omar has had over the five seasons. And in last night's episode, in which we found the two idyllically hiding in the Caribbean, he had to tell his lover some bad news which is certain to bring Omar and Renaldo back to Baltimore into the thick of the action ... and into a trap!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Maila Nurmi Is Dead

Maila Nurmi

I just found out about it, but last week (January 10) Maila Nurmi (aka Vampira) died of natural causes at age 85.

The Finnish actress, brought to Hollywood by director Howard Hawks, had costarred with Mae West on stage. West reportedly fired her for upstaging her.

Best known for her nonspeaking role in Ed Wood's trash classic Plan 9 from Outer Space, Nurmi as Vampira was perhaps the first late-night creature-feature host. Adopting her sultry persona from Charles Addams cartoons in The New Yorker, later inspiring the comic Elvira, Nurmi mesmerized the boys of my generation and introduced them to horror and kitsch classics like Bride of Frankenstein, The Bat, The House on Haunted Hill, etc.

I never saw her show, but photographs and interviews appeared in the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland, which I read avidly as a kid, along with Mad magazine and Classics Illustrated comics.

She epitomized decadent allure to my fevered nine-year-old imagination back in the Sixties.

In Altus, Oklahoma, where I lived in the early 1960s, the late-night horror show was called Shock Theater, hosted by a (male) local newscaster in heavy Karloff mode, and it filled my young life with excitement and delicious dread. I only wish I could have seen Nurmi's original, upon which it was undoubtedly based.

Rest in Peace, Maila.

Rise up from your thousand year-old sleep, Vampira! Break forth from your grave eternally. I command you to rise, rise, rise ...

New Definitions (2)

CIVIL RIGHT, n., [si-vull rah-it]--human right sanctioned and mediated by a government

CONSCIENCE, n., [kon-shinss]--part of mental functioning once called the Devil, though often taken to be God, which acts as an inner accuser, usually disturbing the calm of its bearer for failing to live up to expectations and norms

EXISTENCE, n., [ex-is-tunss]--combination of viability and integrity

GOVERNMENT, n., [guh-vurr-munt]--entity to which individual persons relinquish all power, including power over themselves, except to the extent that such power is rebated as civil rights

HUMAN RIGHT, n., [hyoo-mun rah-it]--power to determine and follow the course of one's existence, because one is a living human being

GUILT, n., [gilt]--sense of indebtedness to an abstract ideal, usually combined with a failure to take responsibility for past thoughts and actions

INTEGRITY, n., [in-teh-grih-tee]--whole and distinct, not divided

NATURAL RIGHT, n., [nah-chur-ull rah-it]--power to follow the course of one's existence, because one already exists

POWER, n., [pow-urr]--unharnessed ability

RESPONSIBLITY, n. [ruh-sponss-ih-bih-lih-tee]--assumption of ownership, control, and care of either oneself or something else

TALENT, n., [tah-lunt]--instinctive ability or capacity

VIABILITY, n., [vah-ih-uh-bih-luh-tee]--capable of life and growth, independently

Thursday, January 17, 2008

My Type

There are guys I'd like to fuck on paper, and there are guys I'd really like to fuck.

I've fucked some of the faces and bodies I would admire if I saw them in a centerfold. I won't pretend they weren't wonderful in their aesthetic perfection, but the most thrilling lays are the surprises--the unconventionally hot guys, not especially photogenic, perhaps, but who, when met live in the flesh, exude an aura of sexual energy, what people used to call animal magnetism.

When people ask me about my type, as someone did this morning, I explain that I both have and don't have a type. My type is male starlets like Sean Flynn and Robert Conrad in the 1960s. It's GQ models David White and Jeff Aquilon in the '70s. It's Kristen Bjorn's South American hunks in the 1980s. It's Brad Pitt on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1994. Conventionally handsome, perfectly toned.

These are the dudes I'd like to fuck on paper. I haven't now and never have had a chance to get in the sack with any of the men I just named, which has only enhanced their allure for me. On paper, I crave the perfect nose, the perfect cheekbones, just the right golden glow upon bronze pecs, arabesques of dark pubic hair. These sex objects are two-dimensional, unreal, almost abstract. My first fantasy figure was Mighty Mouse, a fucking cartoon, for christ's sake. For masturbation, no pulse is necessary.

In real life, I've been the most excited by a particular situation, a scenario with no scripts. I've been most turned on by men's attitudes and actions.

It's not that looks don't matter to me. They do. But the hottest men are those whose appearance changes, in subtle ways, from one angle to another, depending on how the light hits them, whose good genes are enhanced by their living presence, their voice, their smell.

The hardest hard-on I ever had was, long long ago, when a handsome but not-exactly-my-type amateur photographer asked me to pose nude for him, and then he proceeded to touch me, moving my arm, my head, my leg, to this or that side, positioning my body for a shot.

My ex used to drive me insane with lust by raiding my laundry basket, putting on my castoff shirts and pants, without underwear, and rubbing himself against me so that I could feel his stiff cock underneath the familiar corduroy.

Another guy, a gymnast and musician with the palest, rawest looking complexion and a beaklike nose he had broken on one or two occasions, once lay me on my back on the floor and bit the buttons off my shirt.

Another guy, years ago in Savannah, got off on having sex while playing CNN (then brand new) on the TV. For years, the CNN logo superimposed on catastrophe footage shot a frisson of weird euphoria up my spine.

These guys were all hot, good looking and athletic, but not conventional model/actor/pornstar types. Not one of them had a six pack. But they could definitely work a moment of real time and create a lasting memory--a thrill you couldn't catch on film.

There are heartbeats under warm ribs I can still hear. Skin I still feel upon my skin. Odors--scotch, tobacco, coffee, sweat--I recall, as well.

So I have no type, not really. I want to be surprised at what will excite me next.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

New Definitions

BELIEF, n., [bee-leaf]--unverifiable certainty

CHASTITY, n., [chass-tih-tee]--comfort found in genital loneliness

ENTHUSIASM, n., [en-thooz-ee-az-m]--any kind of nuttiness performed with a great amount of energy

FUN, n., [ph-uh-n]--state of oneness with one's instincts

IMAGINATION, n., [ih-ma-jin-eh-shun]--special eyeglasses for seeing the not yet possible

PRAYER, n., [preh-yer]--monologue performed with or without an audience, ostensibly in celebration of things being just the way they already are, with occasional eruptions of hysterical discontentment

PLAY, n., [puh-lay]--practice and performance of fun

PURITY, n., [pyoor-ih-tee]--state of having mentally and spiritually flayed oneself alive, usually at the instigation of unwisely acquired mentors

RACE, n., [rayss]--pseudo-scientific, often arbitrary classification of human beings into groups, analogous to "BREED" for dogs and horses

SIN, n., [sih-n]--see "FUN"

SUCCESS, n., [suck-sess]--envy and the high regard of those who do not love you

WORK, n., [werk]--eternal damnation fractured into bite-size bits

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bad Liar

I could never be an effective politician because I'm such a bad liar.

I learned a long time ago (in childhood, in fact) that my memory is not good enough for me to lie. Complicating matters, I love novelty, so I can't resist touching up a lie, embellishing it, or changing it entirely. I can't stick to my original story.

So forgetting the original lie, I would simply make up a new one.

Perhaps I should not be so hard on myself.

Perhaps I should not nip a promising political career in the bud, since the Bush White House has hardly (or not until very recently) been hampered by the fact that its lies change from month to month ... if not more frequently.

I still try to lie from time to time, but I can't even taken the lie seriously. When I was a kid, my mother said she could always tell when I was lying because I would follow the lie with a smirk ... as if to say, "What the fuck."

On the other hand, I'm good at keeping secrets. Or, more accurately, I'm usually good at not spreading other people's secrets, mainly because, regrettably, I tend to forget them soon after hearing them.

You tell me your darkest secret today, and it will be out of my head by Saturday.

Of course, in only "most cases" am I good at keeping secrets. Sometimes after lying dormant for eons, other people's secrets come back to me suddenly, in a flash ... but then I do not as well recall that they were secrets.

So, from time to time, perhaps once in a decade, I blurt out some potentially damaging information.

Fortunately, I'm not in the habit of embarrassing the people who confide in me. I am capable of checking myself, to stop myself from telling tales that put my friends in a bad light, whether the tales are secrets or well-known facts.

Besides being a bad liar and usually a good confidant, with rare spasms of loose lips, I have mediocre or even less than mediocre skills in complaining.

I can listen to other people complain for hours ... or many consecutive seconds, anyway. But my own complaints bore me almost as soon as they are spoken.

Further, I'm adaptable. I know I just said I seek novelty a few lines up, but I also get used to things fairly quickly.

So I can complain about something in the morning, and that afternoon I can list that certain something as one of the things that make my life worth living.

What I am saying, I guess, tends to prove a point about my character, which, depending on how well you know me or on what you think of me, proves one of the following:

(A) I'm not very bright with my lapses in memory and frequent inconsistencies.

(B) I'm rather charming, as an eccentric.

(C) I'm so self-absorbed as to be oblivious, on the brink of autism, even ... so that external realities hardly ever settle (or never settle for long) in my consciousness.

(D) I'm a man of virtue, hardly ever lying or complaining, who can be trusted with others' embarrassing confessions.

(E) I'm an incorrigible bullshitter, who lives only in the truth of the moment, and cannot be trusted to hang on to a principle for long before he becomes bored with it and moves on to its opposite.

Right now, for the moment, I go with "E."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Golden Globs

I, for one, am disappointed by the cancelation of the usual Golden Globes ceremony tonight--in which stars in their glitziest on-loan designer-wear have traditionally got shitfaced on camera and spoken incoherently on stage.

I am particularly fond of the memory of under-rehearsed presenter Elizabeth Taylor unable to read the TelePrompter and acting like just any other senior citizen trying to maneuver call waiting on an iPhone.

More precious still were those cutaway shots showing strapless-gowned and tuxedoed celebrities openly leering at each other and all but drooling into appletinis.

It was never about the prizes ... not for me. Just under 100 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association determine who the nominees and winners will be. Hardly a credible or representative assembly of voters. The election process does not impress me as particularly scientific or meaningful.

For me it was the carnival mess of the Golden Globes that fascinated.

At the Golden Globes, one could witness the glamor of disorganization. At the Golden Globes, one could watch usually too-cool-for-you gangsta rappers break into a sweat over what Kathy Griffin may say to them. At the Golden Globes, one could grimace with delight to hear usually competent actors badly fake modesty and nonchalance.

It was your best nightmare of a high-school prom writ large in klieg lights and red carpeting.

This year, because of the Hollywood writers' strike and major stars' support of the strike, the Golden Globes will be presented as part of a simple and presumably dignified press announcement.

Too bad. I will sincerely miss the vulgarity of it all.

On the other hand, I am considerably less impressed with the gaudy mess that is now American politics.

If only the network pundits would go on strike, we could conduct this year's presidential election without the circus atmosphere and misleading prognostications.

Why can't America elect a president by simply having a large number of candidates present their positions and credentials before the public, and then publicly and directly challenge or defend each others' positions and credentials, and then let the electorate decide for itself who the next president should be?

Then the winner could be announced on all the networks in a simple and dignified meeting with members of the press.

It's said that Washington, DC, is Hollywood for ugly people. By analogy, then, the arrogant ineptitude and hubris of American news media make coverage of the U.S. elections the equivalent of an awards show (a really BAD awards show) for ugly people.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Why Karl Rove Defends Hillary Clinton

In today's Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove credits Hillary Clinton's recent win in the New Hampshire primaries to four things:

(1) her direct appeal to women voters,

(2) a couple of key moments when she has demonstrated wit and emotion in response to questions,

(3) her (and her husband's) questioning whether serving one term as a senator is enough preparation for Barack Obama to be president, and

(4) Obama's inability to discredit her.

Some good points and perhaps good insight from a proven political strategist.

My initial response to this report ("Why Hillary Won") is, given the accustomed underhandedness of Rove, to wonder if this column is some ploy to damage Senator Clinton.

Surely, Rove knows how most thinking Democrats regard him, and for him to very publicly defend, even praise Clinton would be an insidious way to undermine her appeal for liberal-minded Democrats.

One has to wonder exactly how devious Rove really is.

The article's more obvious target, though, is Barack Obama, who came in second in the New Hampshire caucuses after taking the gold in the Iowa primary.

Rove's focus on why Hillary won New Hampshire seems largely a cover for emphasizing how Barack lost.

In fact, despite the title, Obama's name is invoked as often as Clinton's--moreover, Senator Clinton and former President Clinton are sometime conflated as the "Clintons."

Rove emphasizes Obama's ineptitude when he quotes what he regards as a "needless and dismissive" follow-up to one example of Clinton's wittiness.

He further clearly feels that Bill and Hillary Clinton have not gone far enough in plumbing Obama's failings as a political leader. He states:

"Former President Bill Clinton hit a nerve by drawing attention to Mr. Obama's conflicting statements on Iraq. There's more -- and more powerful -- material available. Mr. Obama has failed to rise to leadership on a single major issue in the Senate. In the Illinois legislature, he had a habit of ducking major issues, voting 'present' on bills important to many Democratic interest groups, like abortion-rights and gun-control advocates. He is often lazy, given to misstatements and exaggerations and, when he doesn't know the answer, too ready to try to bluff his way through.

"For someone who talks about a new, positive style of politics and pledges to be true to his word, Mr. Obama too often practices the old style of politics, saying one thing and doing another. He won't escape criticism on all this easily. But the messenger and the message need to be better before the Clintons can get all this across. Hitting Mr. Obama on his elementary school essays won't cut it."

At this point, Hillary Clinton has slipped unmistakably into the background of an article ostensibly about how she won New Hampshire.

What Rove is doing is underscoring Hillary Clinton's critique of Obama ("all talk and no show," so to speak). At every opportunity, Rove emphasizes Barack Obama's gifts as a speaker, only to undercut them by asserting the speaker's ineffectiveness.

Rove further states:

"The fourth and biggest reason why Mrs. Clinton won two nights ago is that, while Mr. Obama can draw on the deep doubts of many Democrats about Mrs. Clinton, he can't close out the argument. Mr. Obama is an inspiring figure playing a historical role, but that's not enough to push aside the former First Lady and senator from New York. She's an historic figure, too. When it comes to making the case against Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama comes across as a vitamin-starved Adlai Stevenson. His rhetoric, while eloquent and moving at times, has been too often light as air."

The words "inspiring," "historical role," "eloquent," and "moving," applied to Obama, are faint praise made damning by counter-thrusts like "often lazy," "ducking," "bluffing," "can't," "not enough," "push aside," and the snide aside "Mr. Obama comes across as a vitamin-starved Adlai Stevenson."

Note the archly ironic use of "Mr." not to mention begging the question of Adlai Stevenson's virility (the old Republican putdown of the twice unsuccessful--1952 and 1956--Democratic candidate, who was turned into a cartoon figure of contemptibly effete liberal idealism and intellectuality).

It's hard for me not to imagine Rove also struggling with himself on whether to write "articulate," a word that has sometimes been criticized for coded racism, instead of the more neutral "eloquent." Remember Joe Biden's slip in speaking of Obama as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy”? Apart from other problems with this statement, a principal point of offensiveness is the implied amazement that a black person can speak as well as a white person.

The climax, then, of Rove's explanation of "why Hillary won" is an assault on Obama's reputation as a forceful speaker ... by implying that the Illinois senator's words are empty and his arguments, futile.

I hate playing the thin-skinned and knee-jerk leftist, but the fact that the liberals have demonized Karl Rove over the past six or seven years does not take anything away from his actual devilishness.

Rove is trying here to do for Obama what his 1950s counterparts did for Adlai Stevenson: to dismiss intellectuality and the power of words as mere substitutes for true leadership ability--conveniently leaving the word "leadership" undefined.

He wants us to believe that leadership perhaps stems from irrationality and inarticulateness, something similar to the sophomoric jingoism and arrogant contempt for logic and democracy exemplified by his pals now in the White House.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Sound Words from an(other) "Unelectable" Candidate

Mike Gravel, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Presidency, former Senator from Alaska, in a 2007 interview in Queerty.com:

"For far too long, Democrats and Republicans have used morality to justify the second-class citizenship of gays and lesbians. Clinton, Edwards and Obama frequently claim their morality and religious upbringing prevent them from supporting marriage equality. What kind of a message do they send to young gays and lesbians when these politicians say that it would be immoral to fight for their right to marry? Unfortunately because the leading Democratic candidates couch their cowardice and hypocrisy in terms of religion and morality, the press and even some LGBT leaders have not challenged their opposition to marriage equality. I will use the HRC forum to tell the American public that denying gays and lesbians equal rights, including marriage, is IMMORAL."

Cry Baby

That New Hampshire gave no momentum to either of the winners of the Iowa primaries is good news. It means that the ball is still up in the air, and the candidates can continue to debate the issues. An NPR pundit predicts a different result: increased vitriol among the candidates of both parties, which would truly be unfortunate. However, drama queens that pundits are, "vitriol" may simply be their word for candidates' drawing clear lines to define themselves from the other candidates. Disagreement is not the same as mud-slinging.

As with Obama's Iowa wins, the New Hampshire primary provides me an impetus to reconsider my previous choices and leanings. For me, Kucinich throwing his Iowa supporters in the direction of Obama influenced my feeling a little bit better about the Illinois senator.

Hillary's tears (which, frankly, I have not watched video of) did not move me, but Edwards' response, stating that public crying was proof that Hillary would not be able to stand the pressures of the presidency, significantly lowered my esteem for Edwards. It was not merely an unchivalrous remark; it was, more importantly, evidence of reductionist thinking.

We do need leaders who can stand the pressures of holding high office. However, showing emotion does not make one less rational, less capable of sound decision-making.

If anything, it's good to see the more human side of Clinton, whom I've criticized for being too much the smoothly operating machine. Perhaps even the tears were a calculated move and not at all heartfelt, but I'm not yet so entirely cynical as to be certain of that.

Edwards' criticism was caddish and off-base. His remark, more than Clinton's tears, is evidence of someone not yet ready to make sound decisions based on understanding and clear reasoning.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Fucking and Drinking

The great 18th-century conversationalist and lexicographer (and first and probably only "compassionate conservative") Dr. Samuel Johnson once stated that the two greatest pleasures in life are fucking and drinking. Further, he wondered why, given this indisputable fact, there aren't more drunks in the world since for most people booze is easier to get than a bang.

Of course, you won't hear many conversationalists or conservatives echoing that sentiment today.

Sex and alcohol are things even modern libertines (now an oxymoron) feel a little shy about.

On the one hand, we have religion making us feel guilty about them--despite Jesus's repeated commands against judging others and his flair for changing water into wine.

On the other hand, we have killjoys that insist that sex is good only if it is pursued "correctly," and we have a slew of pseudo-scientific manuals to help us corral and house-train our natural desires--I have two copies of The Joy of Gay Sex (old and new editions), and though parts of them are hotter than hell, the overall impression is that you're newly enrolled in a Pilates program.

And forget about getting blotto these days unless you "know" wines and beers and completed a thesis on them.

When religious conservatives today are in a generous mood, they permit sex for procreation ... and perhaps even some wine with meals for slimming down; thus, we pragmatically shrink two of life's great pleasures down to duties or helpful hints. Forget masturbation, forget blowjobs, forget homosexuality, forget The Joy of Getting Shitfaced. Most definitely forget drunken sloppy sex.

For many post-Freudian Westerners, sex is so fraught with anxiety that it requires leaps of imagination to make it fun again. For many post-Fordian Westerners, drinking and driving is intrinsically a sin (as well as a crime of ever-increasing severity), regardless of demonstrable driving skill, as is drinking by oneself in the post-twelve-step world.

Both traditional pleasures are subject to judgment by others--either by interdiction or by informal grades 1 to 10. Don't Try This at Home, we are told again and again.

Frankly, I don't think one has to be a trained professional to get his jollies "down there." Where's the spirit of play? Even hit-and-miss fucking is good at least for a yuck or two.

And you won't go blind, you won't go to hell, you won't be Jason Vorhees' next victim.

What's so wrong about discovering your fantasies through masturbation and then putting them into practice with one or more human beings?

And if you need two or three beers before you can ask your buddies to try out your new trick with hot wax and cowbells, so be it.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Phags 4 Phelps Dephense Phund

Josh Kilmer-Purcell (www.myspace.com/joshkilmerpurcell) in Out magazine, Feb. 2008:

"I'm not setting up the Phelps Dephense Phund because I pity Fred. I'm doing it because I respect him more than George Bush and other like-minded homophobes in sheep's clothing.

"Why? Because I would much rather have Fred Phelps be the public face of homophobia than 'tolerant' homophobes like Mitt Romney, who preaches 'respect for diversity' while recently insinuating that dead heterosexual parents would raise children better than live gay men and women.

"I would much rather have Fred spewing undiluted hatred on CNN than listen to all of the front-running Democratic presidential candidates tap-dancing around gay marriage like Larry Craig on a layover. ...

"Yes, I want Fred Phelps free to walk the streets verbally assaulting stick figures having anal sex because Fred Phelps, as crazy as he is, is an honest homophobe. ...

"Middle America finally gets to see what homophobia actually looks like when it's stripped of ... polite, compromising words ...."

Number 2

An interesting gauge on how the American media works is that, after the Iowa caucuses, much attention was given to Barack Obama's decisive win, much attention was given to Hillary Clinton's third-place rank, but hardly a word was spoken about John Edwards' taking a close second place.

Focussing on the first-place winner is perhaps normal to American media and culture--"We're number one," and all that.

Focussing on Hillary Clinton, the celebrity candidate (euphemistically called the "experienced" candidate, though experience as a First Lady of a state and of a nation and an elected U.S. Senator is hardly more impressive than experience as an elected U.S. Senator alone), too makes a kind of sense, that is, within the context of American media and the Western world's fixation on fame.

John Edwards' impressive showing is arguably more unexpected and therefore more newsworthy than a first place win by either Obama or Clinton would be, since most commentators have ignored Edwards or written him off as a non-contender. Why is it not the subject of more media comment?

It can't simply be because he didn't win first place, or else why all the talk of Clinton's "loss" (however close it was) being the story next in importance to Obama's win?

More likely, it is because Obama and Clinton are, for different reasons, names to conjure by. The "Edwards" name still can't stand alone in a meaningful way in the popular imagination.

Edwards, the name or the man, lacks the exoticism or sense of novelty that Obama has.

Edwards does not conjure the aura of soap-opera drama that Hillary Clinton does. He is not the "wronged" party in a notorious sex scandal. He has not been fetishized, as Clinton has, as a "power" object (by which I mean to suggest "sex object," since sex is undoubtedly a quality Americans associate with power and use to make or break the powerful).

His wife Elizabeth's stuggle with cancer is the stuff of Hallmark, not Hollywood. One cannot imagine an E! Hollywood Story episode on Edwards. Even tabloid rumors of a secreted-away love child has been a nonstarter in piquing public fascination with the "private" John Edwards.

Edwards' celebrity supporters (Tim Robbins, David Cross, Gary Cole, Hank Azaria) arguably lack the hip currency of Obama's celebrity supporters (Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney, Samuel Jackson, Will Smith) or the baronial power of Clinton's (Barbra Streisand, Elizabeth Taylor, Martha Stewart, Bill Clinton).

In the end, Obama took first place and deserves the attention he's getting ... until, at least, the New Hampshire primaries. But Edwards is still in the race ... and right now an Obama/Edwards (or Edwards/Obama) ticket sounds pretty exciting.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Obama, Iowa

Barack Obama won Iowa's Democratic caucuses. As Arianna Huffington has pointed out, Iowa is a state that is 92% white, and however cynical we may want to be about American presidential campaigns, or about Obama as a candidate or, hell, even Obama as a representative black American, it's got to be heartwarming to see his win as a sign of hope for America.

No non-white candidate has ever gotten this close to winning the presidential nomination in a major American political party. Obama won over not only the white voters of Iowa--but more Iowa women voted for Obama than for Hillary Clinton. Among women Democrats in Iowa, Barack had 5 points on Hillary, 12 points on John Edwards, who came in second.

If nothing else, as Huffington points out, Obama's win, along with the unprecedented turnouts for both Democratic and Republican caucuses, indicates a surge of interest among Americans in democracy and change.

I for one am a bit leery still of Obama, because of his pandering for anti-gay votes (presumably Southern black Christians) in South Carolina last year.

However, I don't think it was this aspect of Obama that won him Iowa; at least I hope not.

Perhaps he and the other candidates will see this victory as a sign of Americans' hunger for change, hope, and possibly redemption. (As may also be said of Mike Huckabee's win in the Republican caucuses--only with scarier implications--a dangerous shift more clearly towards a Christian theocracy.)

If so, perhaps the focus will shift away from an emphasis on candidates who simply fit the established mold for leadership: the avuncular and good-ol'-boy corporate CEO--and perhaps will widen to include consideration of character traits given too little attention in previous campaigns: idealism, difference, adventurousness, and guts.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Edwards and Electability

I hate it that agents other than the electorate decide who is and is not "electable." Even worse, these agents' interests are almost never those of the electorate, and these agents' values often forestall any efforts members of the American electorate might make towards analyzing key issues independently and determining their own set of values.

These agents, of course, have easy access to the media and to the ears of community leaders and control of the channels of information and the commentary that processes and interprets this information for the general public.

But the truth is that only electable candidates get elected, even though it's quite possible, though decreasingly probable, that the American citizenry will grow a brain of its own and prove that reportedly "unelectable" candidates are actually sometimes electable.

Right now the officially electable candidates are John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton among the Democrats, and Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Rudy Giuliani among the Republicans.

If I had to vote today for one of these half dozen, my vote would go to Edwards.

Edwards seems the most progressive candidate of the six--the one most seriously addressing the issues of American poverty, social and economic injustices, and an embarrassingly inept and venal healthcare system dominated by cutthroat insurance companies.

He seems (emphasize "seems") the least encumbered with corporate alliances, the least attached to the current administration that has overseen the collapse of the federal budget, monumental attacks on American soil, the bottoming out of the United States' reputation among the other nations of the world, and perhaps the highest levels of religious hysteria and intolerance since the Inquisition or the Crusades.

Certainly, he would be a lot more attractive to me as a candidate if he were also an African-American lesbian unaffiliated with any religion or political party. A certain smarminess in his public presentation also counts as a deficit and undercuts his Dick-Clark boyish charms.

However, unlike Clinton, Romney, and Giuliani, he comes with relatively few connections to the Washington establishment. Unlike Obama, Romney, and Huckabee, he comes with relatively little theocratic drum-beating.

Even the "trial lawyer" stigma is linked to a career of standing up for little people against giant corporate, special-interest, and governmental agencies.

My allegiance may change, of course, as my knowledge of the candidates changes. But for now, removing non-front-runners Kucinich, Dodd, and Richardson from the playing field, my vote would go to electable Edwards.

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