Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Sheep and a Tennis Player Walk Into a Leather Bar...

In And the Band Played On..., Randy Shilts documented the first few years of the AIDS crisis. He noted that one of the major impediments to research was the gay community's firmly-held belief that they were constantly threatened by mainstream society. In fact, many activists apparently believed that public registration, labeling, and even containment facilities for gays were real possibilities.

I always thought that Shilts was overestimating the fears of the community. After all, even in Reagan's America, the idea of concentration camps was farfetched. However, after the events of the last month, I no longer have the slightest question that he was correct.

The Week recently ran an article about "curing" gay sheep. Scientists in Oregon have discovered that between five and eight percent of adult male sheep "engage exclusively in ram-on-ram action." The gay community's initial response was to laud the Oregon team for demonstrating that homosexuality is not merely a human "aberration," but rather a natural phenomenon, observable in other species. However, the scientists soon discovered that gay rams could be made to prefer ewes if the testosterone levels in their brains were adjusted.

Gay activists responded with reactionary terror. Fearing that similar techniques could be used to eradicate human homosexuality, many rushed to attack the research. Perhaps the most interesting statement came from Martina Navratilova, who stated that sheep have "a right to be gay."

Okay, just to be clear here, we're talking about sheep. Is it me, or does it seem a little strange to be discussing the rights of an animal that is bred for the purpose of providing leather, sweaters, and a yummy Easter meal?

I wonder if the gay ones taste different? I imagine that their abs are ripped.

This seems like over-identification. I can understand demanding respect for one's gay dog or cat. But sheep? As anyone whose ever driven in Scotland can attest, it's hard to imagine an animal stupider than the average sheep. There's a reason that mindless followers are sometimes referred to as "sheep," the word "sheepish" denotes embarrassment, and the phrase "wooly thinking" suggests a lack of intelligence.

Speaking of wooly thinking, have you heard the one about the former tennis star who demanded equal respect for gay sheep?

I understand the desire to protect one's subculture, and America's record with regard to its homosexuals has been far from exemplary. However, this reflexive fear of obliteration really does little to help the gay community. Not only does it lend a shrill, humorless tone to their rhetoric, but the tendency to see anti-gay boogymen in every corner makes them seem hysterical. It's ironic that people who are identifying with sheep should be so quick to cry wolf.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pickup Poems, Part IV: the End Is Nigh

Well, we seem to be winding down on the beautiful pickup poems, so I think this will be the last list, at least for a while. Many thanks to everyone who sent me their preferences!

In a wonderful shift from the sleazy to the sublime, Spellbound offered this poem by Kenneth Patchen:

As we are so wonderfully done with each other
We can walk into our separate sleep
on floors of music where the milkwhite cloak of childhood

oh my love, my golden lark, my soft long doll
Your lips have splashed my dull house with print of flowers
My hands are crooked where they spilled over your dear

It is good to be weary from that brilliant work
It is being God to feel your breathing under me

A waterglass on the bureau fills with morning.....
Don't let anyone in to wake us

Pickled Olives offered two pieces, both of which were wonderful. The first one hearkens back to "Goblin Market":


eating a plum
I tongue the tight skin
drawn seam
that halves this globed
whole is two
it's midnight
but when I bite in
with wet red flesh
the juice dripping down
my fingers sweet
sticky sticky
sweet pulp
engorged I
fill my mouth
eat it down
eat it down
all the way to the plumbstone

It also reminded me of this one by William Carlos Williams. By the way, I think this is probably the only poem by Williams that I really, truly love:

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast.

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

Of course, Williams lacks the sexuality of Olives' poem, but the imagery gives me chills. No pun intended.

Olives also offered these lyrics:

Ooh, now let's get down tonight
Baby I'm hot just like an oven
I need some lovin'
And baby, I can't hold it much longer
It's getting stronger and stronger
And when I get that feeling
I want Sexual Healing
Sexual Healing, oh baby
Makes me feel so fine
Helps to relieve my mind
Sexual Healing baby, is good for me
Sexual Healing is something that's good for me
Whenever blue tear drops are falling
And my emotional stability is leaving me
There is something I can do
I can get on the telephone and call you up baby, and
Honey I know you'll be there to relieve me
The love you give to me will free me
If you don't know the things you're dealing
I can tell you, darling, that it's Sexual Healing
Get up, Get up, Get up, Get up, let's make love tonight
Wake up, Wake up, Wake up, Wake up, 'cos you do it right
Baby I got sick this morning
A sea was storming inside of me
Baby I think I'm capsizing
The waves are rising and rising
And when I get that feeling
I want Sexual Healing
Sexual Healing is good for me
Makes me feel so fine, it's such a rush
Helps to relieve the mind, and it's good for us
Sexual Healing, baby, is good for me
Sexual Healing is something that's good for me
And it's good for me and it's good to me
My baby ohhh
Come take control, just grab a hold
Of my body and mind soon we'll be making it
Honey, oh we're feeling fine
You're my medicine open up and let me in
Darling, you're so great
I can't wait for you to operate
I can't wait for you to operate
When I get this feeling, I need Sexual Healing

I'm not totally sure that she was serious, but God bless Olives! Here's the video:

I thought about putting up a video of George Michael singing the song, but there's a limit to my sense of irony. Besides, GM grosses me out.

Rhapsody offered this wonderful poem. It's not romantic, per se, but definitely puts Marvell in his place:

His Coy Mistress to Mr. Marvell
by A.D. Hope

Since you have world enough and time
Sir, to admonish me in rhyme,
Pray Mr Marvell, can it be
You think to have persuaded me?
Then let me say: you want the art
To woo, much less to win my heart.
The verse was splendid, all admit,
And, sir, you have a pretty wit.
All that indeed your poem lacked
Was logic, modesty, and tact,
Slight faults and ones to which I own,
Your sex is generally prone;
But though you lose your labour, I
Shall not refuse you a reply:

First, for the language you employ:
A term I deprecate is "coy";
The ill-bred miss, the bird-brained Jill,
May simper and be coy at will;
A lady, sir, as you will find,
Keeps counsel, or she speaks her mind,
Means what she says and scorns to fence
And palter with feigned innocence.

The ambiguous "mistress" next you set
Beside this graceless epithet.
"Coy mistress", sir? Who gave you leave
To wear my heart upon your sleeve?
Or to imply, as sure you do,
I had no other choice than you
And must remain upon the shelf
Unless I should bestir myself?
Shall I be moved to love you, pray,
By hints that I must soon decay?
No woman's won by being told
How quickly she is growing old;
Nor will such ploys, when all is said,
Serve to stampede us into bed.

When from pure blackmail, next you move
To bribe or lure me into love,
No less inept, my rhyming friend,
Snared by the means, you miss your end.
"Times winged chariot", and the rest
As poetry may pass the test;
Readers will quote those lines, I trust,
Till you and I and they are dust;
But I, your destined prey, must look
Less at the bait than at the hook,
Nor, when I do, can fail to see
Just what it is you offer me:
Love on the run, a rough embrace
Snatched in the fury of the chase,
The grave before us and the wheels
Of Time's grim chariot at our heels,
While we, like "am'rous birds of prey",
Tear at each other by the way.

To say the least, the scene you paint
Is, what you call my honour, quaint!
And on this point what prompted you
So crudely, and in public too,
To canvass and , indeed, make free
With my entire anatomy?
Poets have licence, I confess,
To speak of ladies in undress;
Thighs, hearts, brows, breasts are well enough,
In verses this is common stuff;
But -- well I ask: to draw attention
To worms in -- what I blush to mention,
And prate of dust upon it too!
Sir, was this any way to woo?

Now therefore, while male self-regard
Sits on your cheek, my hopeful bard,
May I suggest, before we part,
The best way to a woman's heart
Is to be modest, candid, true;
Tell her you love and show you do;
Neither cajole nor condescend
And base the lover on the friend;
Don't bustle her or fuss or snatch:
A suitor looking at his watch
Is not a posture that persuades
Willing, much less reluctant maids.

Remember that she will be stirred
More by the spirit than the word;
For truth and tenderness do more
Than coruscating metaphor.
Had you addressed me in such terms
And prattled less of graves and worms,
I might, who knows, have warmed to you;
But, as things stand, must bid adieu
(Though I am grateful for the rhyme)
And wish you better luck next time.

Yeats was a particular favorite. Judith offered "Ominous and Rejoiceful yeats to melt and harden the heart." A perfect description:

Never give all the Heart

Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that's lovely is
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost

Judith also offered this one:

Brown Penny

I whispered, 'I am too young,'
And then, 'I am old enough';
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
'Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair.'
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.

O love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.

Glamourpuss put forth "When You Are Old" by Yeats. As she said, "I would melt if someone wrote that to me. Sigh."

WHEN you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

I don't know if Yeats is romantic, but he's amazingly beautiful. Once again, thank you all for playing, and I'll leave you with one last poem by Cummings:

somewhere i have never travelled...

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, misteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa

It doesn't happen all that much, but once in a while the American body politic engages in a public execution...

In this session of the Virginia General Assembly, Delegate A. Donald McEachin of Henrico county put forth a resolution calling for the Commonwealth of Virginia to publicly apologize for slavery. McEachin, whose great-grandfather was a slave, said that this was part of "a healing process" that "needs to occur." He went on to say that "No one is asking any individual to apologize...but, Virginia is alive and well, and Virginia was built on the backs of slaves, and Virginia’s economy boomed because of slavery, and it is Virginia that ought to apologize."

On the surface, this is the sort of meaningless resolution that looks good to voters, even though it doesn't accomplish much. However, as Delegate Frank D. Hargrove of Glen Allen noted, "I think this is a harmful idea just to keep recycling this thing which we all know and all despise and have no respect for." Delegate Hargrove went on to state that "Slavery was a horrible institution. On the other hand, not a soul in this legislature had anything to do with slavery." He also noted that demanding a statewide apology for slavery was comparable to demanding an apology from France for its treatment of Huguenots or asking the Jewish people to apologize for killing Christ. Finally, he completed his perfect storm of controversy by stating that slavery had been abolished for over 140 years and that "I personally think that our black citizens should get over golly, we’re living in 2007."

It was mere nanoseconds before legislators and political activists began pillorying Hargrove in an orgy of self-righteous posturing. On the gentler end of the spectrum, there was Delegate Vincent F. Callahan Jr. of Fairfax County, whose only issue was with the impolitic nature of Hargrove's statements: "People ought to have learned a lesson from this past year's senatorial campaign in Virginia...we live in a different age as far as sensitivity goes...Particularly in a legislative body, where we operate in a goldfish bowl, we ought to be very careful about what we say in public."

On the more strident end, Delegate Dwight Clinton Jones of Richmond, chairman of the black caucus, argued that Hargrove's statement that black citizens need to "get over" slavery likened the institution to "a birthday party that somebody had last Saturday night." Jones went on to state that "I want to apologize to the mothers and fathers of my ancestors who were transported to this nation against their will in order that this nation might be built upon their backs. I want to apologize to the mothers and fathers of the civil rights generation who were hosed and bitten by dogs, and their children killed in churches as they burned, because of hatred that was put upon them. I want to apologize to them."

Piling on ridiculousness, Delegate David Englin of Alexandria held up a photo of his 7-year-old son, stating that, because of Hargrove's comment about Christ-killers, the boy was now "that much more likely to be verbally attacked or physically attacked." Hargrove responded "I didn't know you were Jewish...and I really don't care...I think your skin was a little too thin about this."

Of course, no one bothered to note that Hargrove commented about Jews killing Christ merely as a means of pointing out the ridiculousness of such a claim. For that matter, few pundits noted that Hargrove is the descendant of French Huguenots who fled religious persecution, which means that he was offering his own genetic ill-will on the sacrificial pyre of ridiculous grudges.

This furor was an odd experience for me, as I found myself in complete agreement with Hargrove. While his decision to make these statements on Martin Luther King Day was idiotic, he raised some very solid points that the Virginia House of Delegates, not to mention the rest of the country, should keep in mind:

1. Slavery has been abolished for over 140 years
Slavery has left a scar on this country, not to mention this state, but it's worth noting that it is, indeed, over. Yes, black people came to this country unwillingly. Yes, they were brutally mistreated when they arrived. However, our intense focus on the institution of slavery has obscured an important point: African-Americans are, fundamentally, Americans. After the Emancipation Proclamation, their ancestors chose to stay in this country. They helped build it, and worked very hard to carve out a place for themselves within its structures. Ignoring this choice, and the sacrifices that it engendered, is an insult to their memory. It seems to me that apologizing to African-Americans for the existence of an institution that they never experienced is, at the end of the day, the same as telling them that they haven't made any progress over the last century and a half. Frankly, this is the greatest insult at all.

2. With regard to slavery, people should "let it go."
I was discussing Cold Mountain with a friend of mine. She said that she disliked the movie because it was about the civil war but never mentioned slavery. I noted that Malcolm X was about the 1950's and 1960's, yet never mentioned JFK. She failed to see the connection.

If we make slavery the definitive event of Black America, then an entire segment of this country will be permanently enslaved. Personally, I nominate the Civil Rights movement as that definitive event. In it, African American leaders demonstrated to the U.S., and the world, the greatest intellectual and spiritual qualities to which humans can aspire. They provided an inspiring example, not just to blacks, but to every race. In short, they showed themselves to be active, and impressive, members of their society. No longer slaves, they demanded full engagement in America.

"Letting it go" is not the same as forgetting. Some people have likened Hargrove's statement to asking a Jew to let the Holocaust go. While he didn't go that far, I will: as the son of a Jew and a relative of many who were killed in Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Majdanek, and other death camps, I hereby forgive all Germans for the Holocaust. I will continue to honor my dead relatives, but I refuse to allow their murderers to continue to marginalize me. I cannot be a victim of the Holocaust unless I allow myself to become one, and I am not willing to do that.

3. "Not a soul in [Virginia's current] legislature had anything to do with slavery"
I would go further: there is not a single living slave or slave-owner in the United States today. And, to be honest, people are having to go back further and further to keep slavery alive. For example, in his rebuttal to Hargrove, Delegate McEachin said that when he looks into the eyes of his 102-year-old grandmother, whose parents were slaves, "quite frankly, it's hard to get over it." Let's be clear here: McEachin is claiming that he can see the misery of his great-grandparents in the eyes of his grandmother, who is over a century old.

Is it possible that he's reading too much into this? Could he be seeing projections of his own political agenda reflected in her cataracts?

Now, I'm a Virginian, born and raised, and even after I leave this state, I will take much of Virginia with me. However, my great-great grandfather, Seymour Burroughs, fought for the North and was wounded in the Civil War. Here's his picture:

Another one of my great-great grandfathers, Charles Martin, also fought for the North, as did my great-great-great grandfather, Abraham Bowen. As the descendant of at least three Northern soldiers, I find it somewhat ridiculous that I have to apologize for slavery. And the same goes for millions of other Virginians, many of whom are the descendants of slaves. However, to the extent that the Virginia General Assembly represents me, so will their apology.

To look at it another way, we could spend the rest of our lives writing letters of apology and never come close to finishing. For example, my mother's folk are Jews from Eastern Europe. Clearly, I deserve apologies from Russia, the Ukraine, Poland, and Germany. While we're at it, I could use an apology from Rome, as they were responsible for the diaspora. In return, I will apologize for handing Jesus over to the Romans. My bad; we should have handled that in-house.

On behalf of my father's Scottish and Irish relatives, I demand apologies and restitution from the English. In return, I apologize for James VI and I, Charles I, Charles II...hell, I apologize for the entire House of Stuart. My father's English relatives, in turn, demand an apology, and restitution, from the Romans. For that matter, the French owe us an apology as well: we haven't forgotten about William the Conqueror, you Norman bastards!

This could go on and on. While we're at it, it's probably a good idea to remember that many of the Africans who showed up on these shores were sold to white men by other Africans. Do any of us have clean hands?

This is not to say that the Commonwealth of Virginia doesn't owe some serious apologies, and restitution, to its African-American citizens. Wages for blacks continue to lag far behind wages for whites. This is due, in large part, to the lower quality of inner-city schools and infrastructure. Virginia's continued inability to properly educate and care for its minority citizens is a blight on its record and an embarrassment. The same goes for Virginia's eugenics program, which was finally abolished in 1974. Passed as SB 281 in 1924, the Virginia Eugenics law allowed the sterilization of individuals who were considered retarded or otherwise genetically undesirable. An outsized percentage of these people were black. The same day this law was passed, the House of Delegates also ratified SB 219, also known as the "Racial Integrity Act." This law prevented marriage between "white persons" and "non-white persons." It was on the books until 1975.

In 2001, Virginia issued public apologies for its eugenics program. It has also paid compensation to victims of the program.

The victims of slavery are dead and buried, but racism still exists and still continues to victimize all of us. It seems to me that we need to focus on today's problems, not issue self-congratulating apologies for issues that have been dead for over a hundred years.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Aucturian Meme

Judith tagged me with this meme. I'm not sure if she wrote it herself, but it was a lot of fun, so I decided to pass on the joy. Olives, Mystic Wing, and the CEO all get this one.

Another profoundly cool thing that Judith did was offer a song as a payoff for the meme. Here's one that I enjoy. I don't know if this is the best cover by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, but it's the best one I could find on YouTube:

If you could have any piece of art what would it be?
Part of me would want some Jeff Koons, just so I could spare the world, but I think I'd go with Night Cafe by Van Gogh (I know--obvious choice).

Name two of your guilty pleasures
Drinking heavy cream mixed with sugar and masturbation.

If you were an actor/actress who would it be and what movie would you choose to take the lead role in?
Bogart, Maltese Falcon.

What's the most romantic gesture someone's made to you?
I'm not going to answer this one.

Who's your favorite superhero / villain?
The Badger.

What's your favorite leftover food?
Szechuan Beef

Describe in five words how you saw yourself in high school
Smart, geeky, funny, chubby, goofy.

If you could live anywhere in the world were would it be and why?
Tough question! Probably Prague--great food, creepy atmosphere, wonderful people, and excellent public attractions.

Name five good gifts you would like to recieve (within reason- no sports cars etc)
A cashmere sweater, a new briefcase/messenger bag, some nice shirts, any of the Universal monster film re-releases on DVD, and a signed first edition of Lamb.

If you could live one week in a cartoon what would it be and why?
Johnny Quest, because it'd be a really exciting week.

Oooh, oooh, or Scooby Doo for the same reason, plus the weed.

Dinner for five - who would you invite (the world is your oyster)
Franz Kafka, Shel Silverstein, Ambrose Bierce, George Orwell, and Idi Amin.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I was wandering through Janna's blog and came across a post in which she designed her own South Park character. There are numerous such sites, but Janna suggested this one. After fooling around on the others, I discovered that she was right; this one offers the most options.

My first move was, of course, to design myself:

Not a bad likeness, really. In real life, my cheekbones are a little more prominent.

Misanthropster created this version of herself:

This, actually, looks a lot like her, although, again, her face is more sculpted and less...spherical. Also, I noticed that we were trending a little toward the Addams Family. At any rate, Misanthropster then designed George, with a little help from me:

Just like in real life, she has her mother's eyes and my mouth. However, in real life, she doesn't let us put hats on her.

Here's our family portrait. It isn't drawn to scale.

If Christmas hadn't already passed, I would have put it on cards. As it stands, I think I might send out Groundhog Day cards this year.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Speakers Corner

When I was in graduate school, I shared a number of classes with a guy named Charles. While much of my bachelor's work was in the social sciences, Charles had done his undergraduate work in Theater Arts. This, naturally, led to a significant difference in perspectives. Through much of my first semester, I found myself asking Charles what he meant. For example, in one class, he talked about "tonalities." According to Charles, teachers tended to speak at one "tonality," while students spoke at another. After I asked him a few questions, it became clear that Charles meant that teachers were thinking on higher levels than their students. I had thought that he was discussing the pitch of our voices.

In another class, Charles started stripping as a demonstration of ways to break through a student's comfort zone.

One day, towards the end of the semester, I asked Charles a question about his interpretation of William Blake. He exploded, telling me that I had been attacking him all semester, victimizing him, etcetera, etcetera. I was taken aback. Charles, among others, had often asked me to clarify my positions. Rather than be offended or insulted, I was appreciative. It seemed to me that lively discourse had done a lot to hone my ideas, not to mention my ability to think critically. All the same, I had clearly upset Charles, so I apologized for any perceived insults and stopped asking him questions. Class discussion dropped off.

The following semester, I found myself in classes with students who were more comfortable with rigorous debate. We'd often argue loudly and endlessly about some point of interpretation or teaching technique. After class, we'd continue the battles over cheap beers at the local dive bar, with breaks for South Park, of course.

I was in heaven.

Yesterday's post, Saving It For Daddy, inspired a little bit of heated debate. I understand that, on some blogs, direct confrontation between posters is considered rude and inappropriate. To be honest, though, I appreciated the fact that some of you had differing opinions, and were able to discuss them in a respectful and thoughtful manner. I was pleased that I was able to create a space where you felt comfortable discussing your opinions with each other. While I don't think that we'll be able to reach agreement on this issue, I like the fact that we are able to put our respective positions on the table and explain them to each other.

I don't feel like reasoned discussion is getting a fair showing these days. Rather than cool-headed, thoughtful participants, the United States has "ultra-Christian, fundamentalist, racist, patriarchal, homophobic, super-conservative crypto-fascists" battling "ultra-liberal, god-hating, man-hating, homosexual-recruiting, flip-flopping communists." I don't see much space for the rest of us in the public discourse. However, I can't help feeling that there is still a lot more that connects us than divides us, and I believe that we have many of the same ideals for our world, although we intensely disagree on the best methods for realizing those goals.

Matt's blog has given me a clear glimpse into how discussion can degenerate into insults and abuse; like him, I reserve the right to employ extraordinary measures if I feel like things have gotten out of hand. However, conversations like the one in my comments section yesterday make me feel like my blog serves a real purpose, and make me very proud of the space that I have created. Most of all, they make me even more appreciative of the people who choose to read and comment on the things that I write.

I am now stepping off my soapbox. Thank you.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Saving It For Daddy

My wife majored in Philosophy, which means that we talk a lot.

Everything in our lives, from toilet paper to food to how we raise George is a major topic for discussion, and we endlessly go over the pros and cons, long-range consequences and short-term benefits of every action. We consider the hidden meanings of our decisions, and the broader relevance of our preferences.

In other words, we talk a lot.

I really like this. My own tendency is toward thoughtfulness and consideration, and I try to live a deliberate life. I don't like to take things for granted, so our endless talks are very important to me.

One of the most important long talks we've had involved planning our wedding. Although we endlessly discussed every aspect of the wedding, one of the biggest sticking points was the engagement ring. On the one hand, I wanted to give her a ring, and she wanted to get a ring. On the other hand, we both recognized that engagement rings are a thinly-disguised business transaction. In short, I was spending money I didn't have on a piece of jewelry with which I was purchasing exclusive drilling rights to my wife's vagina.

Honestly, this grossed us both out. The same went for her wedding escort. While my wife wanted her father to walk her down the aisle, we also recognized that this signified that her father was literally "giving away" control and ownership of his daughter. Given the rocky nature of her relationship with the old man, not to mention our own anti-slavery leanings, the undertone of this tradition was more than a little uncomfortable.

Ultimately, we decided that, given the feminist rejection of these traditions, our decision to embrace them was actually revolutionary. More to the point, she wanted a ring and a part for her father; I wanted to give her a ring and had no real opinion about her father. It was our own damned wedding, Andrea Dworkin wasn't kicking in for the cost, and we were going to do what we wanted to do. Screw the underlying meaning!

Recently, she came across an article in Glamour magazine that reminded us of these discussions. Apparently, so-called "Purity Balls" are becoming an increasingly popular trend among fundamentalist Christians. These events, at which daughters pledge to their fathers that they will preserve their virginity until their wedding night, are sponsored by churches, crisis pregnancy centers, and non-profit groups. The young ladies dress up in prom dresses, and their fathers dress up in tuxedos and suits. At some point in the evening, in the words of Mark Morford of the San Francisco Gate:

The daughter stands up, her pale arms wrapped around her daddy, and reads aloud a formal pledge that she will remain forever pure and virginal and sex-free until she is handed over, by her dad (who is actually called the "high priest" of the home), like some sort of sad hymenic gift, to her husband, who will receive her like the sanitized and overprotected and libidinously inept servant she so very much is. Praise!

The daughter's pledge states, in part:

I pledge to remain sexually pure...until the day I give myself as a wedding gift to my husband...I know that God requires this of me...that he loves me, and that he will reward me for my faithfulness.

The fathers then recite this pledge:

I, (daughter's name)'s father, choose before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity. I will be pure in my own life as a man, husband, and father. I will be a man of integrity and accountability as I lead, guide, and pray over my daughter and my family as the high priest in my home. This covering will be used by God to influence generations to come.

I'm not sure that I can even convey how much this disgusts me. The image of "high priest" fathers "covering" their daughters is creepily incestuous, not to mention very Old Testament. Seriously, haven't these people read the story of Lot's daughters? It's even worse that these pledges occur at "Purity Balls." Why don't they call these events "Purity Dances" or "Purity Retreats" or something? "Purity Balls" sounds like something that dangled off Howard Hughes' overly-sterilized frame.

In Glamour, Jennifer Baumgardner notes that these events encourage the purchase of items like "a $250 14-karat pearl-and-diamond purity ring; for $15, you can buy a red baby-doll T-shirt with I'M WAITING emblazoned on the chest, its snug fit sending a bit of a mixed message." This reminds me of the sexy red chastity league scarf that Julia wears around her waist in 1984. There's something disturbingly cruel about clothes that proclaim chastity while encouraging lewd thoughts. More to the point, why are these fathers fetishizing their daughters' sexuality? Why is it such a huge concern? And why are they buying their daughters slutterwear if they want them to save it for marriage? What's next--shirts that say "my vagina is a temple of the Lord, but my hands are the Devil's playground"? How about "Chastity? You said a mouthful!"?

I understand the desire to protect one's daughter, to shelter her from harm, and to lead her to make the best possible decisions. However, I'd like to think that, when George is in her late thirties, and is ready to lose her virginity, I will be supportive and understanding.

All kidding aside, I've been through this with my little sister. When she lost her virginity, I knew about it. It made me nervous, on a variety of levels, but I had spent a lot of time with the boy that she was dating, and I trusted him. I realized that he would treat her well, and would give her a gentle and respectful introduction to sexuality. I also knew that my sister was intelligent, thoughtful, and capable of making decisions about her life. Ultimately, I realized that I had raised her well; in other words, a large part of my (relative) comfort with this whole situation lay in the fact that I had faith in my sister and my own child-raising abilities.

It seems odd that these people, who base so much of their lives on religion, have so little faith in themselves and their daughters.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Pick Up Poems, Part III: The Rise of the Perverse

Once again, here's a mess of sexy poems. As before, most of these were suggested by you. If I haven't included your poem, I certainly will do so in the future.

Glamourpuss suggested that we take a peek at "Don Juan," "I Watched Thee," and "She Walks In Beauty Like the Night" by Lord Byron; "Upon the Nipples of Julia's Breast," by Robert Herrick; "Her Voice" by Oscar Wilde; and "She Lay All Naked on Her Bed," an anonymous poem.

In the interests of brevity, I included one Byron, the Herrick, and "She Lay All Naked on Her Bed." I got rid of the rest because, frankly, they didn't turn me on. The Byron poem is, I think, terrifically atmospheric, and could be used to great effect in the right circumstances:

She Walks in Beauty
George Gordon, Lord Byron

SHE walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

Of course, you'd have to leave out the whole "innocent" part, lest you end up with a kiss on the forehead or a sturdy handshake. Still, imagine someone writing that for you!

Herrick, as always, can be counted on for some seriously fun sexiness:

Upon the Nipples of Julia's Breast
Robert Herrick

HAVE ye beheld (with much delight)
A red rose peeping through a white?
Or else a cherry, double grac'd,
Within a lily centre plac'd?
Or ever mark'd the pretty beam
A strawberry shows half-drown'd in cream?
Or seen rich rubies blushing through
A pure smooth pearl and orient too?
So like to this, nay all the rest,
Is each neat niplet of her breast.

God, I wish I'd known this one a long time ago. It's the perfect playful, post-prandial poem, almost guaranteed to make someone relax and giggle. I love Herrick!

"She Lay All Naked on Her Bed" is fantastic! It's another poem that I wish I knew years ago, as it perfectly describes my sex life from about 15 to 23 or so. For that matter, it should give Odat a serious laugh.

She lay all naked on her bed and I myself lay by;
No veil but curtains about her spread, no covering but I.
Her head upon her shoulder seeks to hang in careless wise,
And full of blushes were her cheeks, and of wishes were her eyes.

Her blood still fresh into her face, as on a message came,
To say that in another place it meant another game.
Her cherry lip moist, plump and fair, millions of kisses crown,
Which ripe and uncropt dangled there and weighed the branches down.

Her breasts, that well'd so plump and high, bred pleasant pain in me.
For all the world I do defy the like felicity;
Her thighs and belly, soft and fair, to me were only shown:
To see such meat, and not to eat, would anger any stone.

Her knees lay upward gently bent, and all lay hollow under,
As if on easy terms, they meant to fall unforc'd asunder;
Just so the Cyprian Queen did lie, expecting in her bower,
When too long stay had kept the boy beyond his promis'd hour.

"Dull clown" quoth she, "Why dost delay such proffer'd bliss to take?
Canst thou find out no other way similitudes to make?"
Mad with delight I, thundering, threw my arms about her,
But pox upon't 'twas but a dream, and so I lay without her.

Judith offered a couple of classics. First off, she suggested Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti. Unfortunately, the poem is really long. The gist of the story is that two sisters, Laura and Lizzie, are wandering home one day when they see the goblins selling fruit at the Goblin Market. They try to avoid looking at the goblins, as they don't want to be tempted. However, Laura can't resist the goblin call, so she looks. She's snared, and agrees to trade a lock of her hair for some goblin fruit, which she lustily consumes:

She clipped a precious golden lock,
She dropped a tear more rare than pearl,
Then sucked their fruit globes fair or red:
Sweeter than honey from the rock,
Stronger than man-rejoicing wine,
Clearer than water flowed that juice;
She never tasted such before,
How should it cloy with length of use?
She sucked and sucked and sucked the more
Fruits which that unknown orchard bore,
She sucked until her lips were sore;
Then flung the emptied rinds away,
But gathered up one kernel stone,
And knew not was it night or day
As she turned home alone.

Having tasted the forbidden fruit, Laura is filled with unquenched desire and, over the next few weeks, she starts to waste away. Lizzie, realizing that her sister is going to die, goes to the Goblin Market to get fruit to save her. The Goblins welcome her with hugs and kisses, but they become abusive when she refuses their hospitality:

Their looks were evil.
Lashing their tails
They trod and hustled her,
Elbowed and jostled her,
Clawed with their nails,
Barking, mewing, hissing, mocking,
Tore her gown and soiled her stocking,
Twitched her hair out by the roots,
Stamped upon her tender feet,
Held her hands and squeezed their fruits
Against her mouth to make her eat.

One may lead a horse to water,
Twenty cannot make him drink.
Though the goblins cuffed and caught her,
Coaxed and fought her,
Bullied and besought her,
Scratched her, pinched her black as ink,
Kicked and knocked her,
Mauled and mocked her,
Lizzie uttered not a word;
Would not open lip from lip
Lest they should cram a mouthful in;
But laughed in heart to feel the drip
Of juice that syruped all her face,
And lodged in dimples of her chin,
And streaked her neck which quaked like curd.
At last the evil people,
Worn out by her resistance,
Flung back her penny, kicked their fruit
Along whichever road they took,
Not leaving root or stone or shoot.
Some writhed into the ground,
Some dived into the brook
With ring and ripple.
Some scudded on the gale without a sound,
Some vanished in the distance.

I love the imagery here, and Rosetti's rhythm, which flies all over the place, is a real joy. Judith also offered a poem by Emily Dickenson:

Wild Nights--Wild Nights!
by Emily Dickenson

Wild nights--wild nights!
Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
our luxury!

Futile the winds
To heart in port--
Done with the compass,
Done with the chart!

Rowing in Eden--
As the sea!
Might I moor, tonight,
In thee!

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Emily Dickenson. It's hard for me to get excited about her poems when I imagine her knocking around her house, all alone. Plus, she uses WAY too many dashes. On the bright side, though, most of her poems can be sung aloud to the tune of Gilligan's Island. If you don't believe me, check this one out:

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry -
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll -
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human soul.

Ramo offered this original piece. In return, I am including another picture of Joseph Fiennes.

Poems and Poems
All sparkling gems
But there is a stud among them
Joseph Fiennes is his name
May he tear apart his shirt
And show us all that covers his heart.
Then we can go further down
And discover the hidden crown!

Anyway, Cranky here had good intention
The evil Me is doing contravention.

Misanthropster offered a poem by "John Lillison, England's Greatest One-Armed Poet," which Steve Martin used to such effect in his movies:

O pointy birds, o pointy pointy,
Anoint my head, anointy-nointy.

Somebody has gotten so excited about this little poem that he created this.

"Lillison" also wrote this one:
In Dillman's Grove, our love did die,
And now in ground shall ever lie.
None could e'er replace her visage,
Until your face brought thoughts of kissage.

Once again, this post is running a little long, so I'll leave you with a creepy one. When I was a kid, my parents bought me a book of poems for children. This one was my favorite. I didn't realize that it was about necrophilia until much later.

Annabel Lee
by Edgar Allen Poe

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;--
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
She was a child and I was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love--
I and my Annabel Lee--
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud by night
Chilling my Annabel Lee;
So that her high-born kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me:--
Yes! that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of a cloud, chilling
And killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we--
Of many far wiser than we-
And neither the angels in Heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:--

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I see the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea--
In her tomb by the side of the sea.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I've Fallen...And You Never Call!

Some people think it's possible to live in a perfect world with absolutely no conflict.

I disagree.

It seems to me that conflict is a vital part of human identity. This isn't to say that I like conflict, or that I pursue it, but rather that I think it is central to our development. As we define ourselves, we must define our opposition. In so doing, we choose who, and what, we are not, and thus who, and what, we are.

Now, a lot of people go after obvious targets, like John Wayne Gacy, Adolf Hitler, or George Bush. Personally, I think Bush is much too easy. The only people I know who really support Bush are my ultraconservative aunt and uncle who live on Long Island. To give you an idea of my Aunt's politics, she thinks Attilla the Hun was a liberal pussy.

Anyway, apart from crazy Aunt Libby, I don't know anybody who really believes in Bush. Either they buy into the culture of fear that he's exploited, or they cynically support him because his policies help them financially. However, nobody seems to really believe that he is a good President or a decent leader.

Apart from Crazy Aunt Libby.

So, anyway, back to my original point. Bush is an easy target, and I think that it's time to give him a break, at least for a day or two. I would like to suggest a bigger and better villain: little old ladies.

To be honest, as much as Bush's policies have made my life difficult, they don't irritate me every day. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of little old ladies. Rarely a day goes by that one of these self-obsessed Geritol munchers doesn't nearly run me off the road, slam a door in my face, hijack my afternoon, or otherwise irritate me. And don't even get me started on my mother in law.

Old Lady Discourtesy
Although I have observed and catalogued a wide variety of Evil Old Lady behavior, I find that the vast majority of it fits into a few simple categories. The first is Total Fucking Discourtesy. As a sometime mallwalker, I occasionally find myself crossing paths (literally) with septuagenarians and octogenarians who, like me, are using the mall for exercise. I find that older men are a lot of fun. First off, they tend to be pretty generous about yielding the right of way to a guy wrangling a kid. They smile at me, say "have a nice day," and try to race me. They, of course, fail, as I am Mario Andretti with a Graco stroller.

(Actually, truth be told, they usually win. Give me a break; these are they guys who won World War II.)

Old ladies, on the other hand, cut in front of me, scowl, and generally make my life difficult. My favorite such situation is when I'm trying to get out of the mall, pushing a stroller, clutching a wailing child, juggling a couple of parcels, and trying to deal with one of Hitler's ex-girlfriends who is tapping her toes at me and waiting for me to get the door. For some reason, the idea of helping out a guy in his thirties never seems to work its way across their crania.

The key exception to this was the wonderful old lady who gave me her seat on the New York Subway. Admittedly, I was embarrassed about taking a seat from an older woman, but she got really pushy about it and I caved. As I tend to do when faced with the full force of old-lady power.

Old Lady "Advice"
My wife's mother lives in coastal Oregon. When we visited her home a year ago, I found it to be a beautiful, otherworldly place that had weak gray light that was about as wholesome as watered-down skim milk. After two days there, I was feeling delighfully melancholy, like a character in a gothic novel. Two more days, and i was in the mood to read a Swedish play. After a week, I felt like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Suffice to say, I don't have the necessary personality to become a coastie.

Not that this dissuades my mother in law or her gang. I'm not going to criticize my mother-in-law here. She wants her family near her and doesn't want to move. I, of course, can relate. However, the Greek chorus of AARP-harpies that she surrounds herself with really tweak my nuts. Okay, I understand that, to them, we represent the children who have abandoned them (insert generic pop-psychology excuse here), but when I want advice from a total stranger in her dotage, I'll call Blaze Starr, Liz Renay, or Bettie Page.

Frankly, I've had it with getting guilt trips from old ladies who I don't even know. Yes, yes, I know that it'd be great if my wife and I abandoned our dreams so we could move out to the Oregon coast and work in convenience stores while trying to be cheerful in a place that makes Ingemar Bergman's films look like pop art. It would be wonderful if I could become financially dependent on a mildly insane woman whose feelings toward me and my wife seesaw like Oprah Winfrey's weight. I'm just choosing to stay on the East Coast because I'm an intransigent bastard. So sue me.

Old Lady Drivers
As much as I don't really like driving, I also understand that it must be really hard to surrender one's driver's license. In one fell swoop, you transform yourself from an active, autonomous member of our culture to a passenger, dependent upon bus schedules, cabs, and the whims of others.

It must totally suck.

However, when the time comes, I hope that I will face the loss of my license with equanimity, bravery, and honesty. I hope that I will accept the restriction of my freedom and recognize that nothing lasts forever. I hope that I can be big about the whole thing.

When you are too old to read speed limit signs, see kids in front of your car, and hit the brakes in an expeditious manner, the time has come to say bye bye to the license. Admit it. Frankly, I think that everyone over the age of seventy should be forced to watch Blood on the Highway and all those other New Jersey State Department of Transportation splatter flicks on a yearly basis. After all, if terror works on the teenagers, why wouldn't it work on the oldsters?

Clingy Behavior
A while back, Matt posted the "I've fallen and I can't get up!" commercial that ran in the 1980's. For those of you who've forgotten this obnoxious little cultural artifact, take a peek:

Did you notice the self-satisfied grin on the face of the spokesperson/Yoda lookalike? You can practically hear her thoughts: "You think that you can escape me? You think that moving out of the house, driving two hours away, and marrying a big-haired Dolly Parson impersonator will sever the bonds between mother and son? Think again, buster! I've got you on a short leash, and Lifecall is the choke-chain. I'm one broken hip away from having you back in this house. With me. Forever."

Seriously, I see a Norman Bates thing developing here.

Maybe my thoughts on old ladies are tainted by my own experiences, but I've never really bought into the "old ladies are sweet and frail" ideal. My grandmothers--both of them--were manipulative and power-hungry people players who could have given J. Edgar Hoover a run for his money. Having watched them use every tool at their disposal to control the people around them, the idea of a selfless dearheart who bakes cookies just doesn't work for me.

I can understand loneliness and need, but what is it about little old ladies that makes them more clingy than a pregnant hooker at the fall of Saigon? Perhaps the best manifestation of this is what my wife and I call the "Old Lady Death Grip." This is where an old woman seizes your arm and clutches it like it's the last piece of flotsam coming off the Titanic. While dealing with whatever problem said old lady has put before you, you're twisting your arm all over the place, trying to get her to let go in the futile hope that you'll be able to restore feeling to your fingertips.

Honestly, do they teach this Vulcan pinching technique at bridge club meetings or something? Almost every old lady I know has it down pat, and it drives me crazy. In what parallel universe is it acceptable to latch on to a total stranger like that?

This isn't to say that I've never met a cool old lady. The yenta who gave me her subway seat, for example, is in my personal pantheon of great old ladies. Ditto all the babcias in Poland who, I swear to God, rule the world. I'm sure Mother Theresa had her moments. However, I would have to say that, overall, old ladies have been skating by on looks and reputation for far too long. But I'm on to them. As much as they might try to play off the whole frailty thing, I know the score. Sometimes, pure evil has blue hair.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Strong Enough to Knock a Buzzard Off a Shit-Wagon

...But Ph balanced for a woman!

As promised, Ella, Misanthropster, and I have now smell-tested all the women's deodorants. Again, we did this in two visits, which explains why Ella sniffed some, and Misanthropster sniffed others. Also, George decided to get into the act, throwing a tantrum until we let her give it a try. I hope anti-perspirant doesn't cause brain damage, as she had a little moustache by the time we were done.

At any rate, here are the results. I imagine that Glamourpuss, who was surprised at the number of men's deodorants, will flip her wig at this. Of course, most of them smell like baby powder.

Ban Regular:
Crankster: Urine and rotted fruit.
Misanthropster: Alcohol and baby powder. Like Georgia on a Friday night.

Ban Powder Fresh:
Crankster: Basic powder scent.
Misanthropster: Baby powder.

Ban Shower Fresh:
Crankster: Cherry Kool-Aid.
Misanthropster: Like some awful mixed drink crap.

Ban Satin Breeze:
Crankster: Basic powder scent.
Misanthropster: Like the ocean. Not in a good way.

Ban Fresh Cotton:
Crankster: Pear-y.
Misanthropster: Alcohol and something nasty.

Ban Sweet Surrender:
Crankster: Spoiled jelly. And the worst deodorant name ever.
Misanthropster: Jagermeister and Kahlua. I surrender.

Dove Powder:
Crankster: Acetone and diapers.
Misanthropster: Ass and cinnamon.

Dove Original Clean:
Crankster: Laundry detergent.
Misanthropster: Ass and Midori.

Dove Radiant Silk:
Crankster: What I'd imagine a serial killer's house would smell like.
Misanthropster: Ass and lily.

Dove Fresh:
Crankster: Melons.
Misanthropster: Ass and something nasty.

Lady's Choice Shower Fresh:
Ella: An Italian hostel

Lady's Choice Cucumber Melon:
Crankster:Cherry Jolly Ranchers
Ella: Apple Jolly Ranchers

Lady's Choice Powder Fresh:
Crankster: Scrubbing Bubbles cleanser
Ella: Jolly Ranchers

Lady Speed Stick 24/7 Powder Burst:
Crankster: Way too powdery
Ella: Smells like baby powder. Very dry.

Lady Speed Stick 24/7 Fresh Fusion:
Crankster: White grapes
Ella: Baby powder

Lady Speed Stick 24/7 Satin Pear:
Crankster: Jello
Ella: Green Jolly Ranchers

Lady Speed Stick 24/7 Cool Breeze:
Crankster: Cucumber and ammonia.
Ella: Fruity disinfectant.

Lady Speed Stick Invisible Dry Wild Freesia:
Crankster: Fruit punch
Ella: Raspberries and new car cherry scent (Ella used to work in a car wash).

Lady Speed Stick Invisible Dry Fruity Melon:
Crankster: Canteloupe
Ella: Honeydew and Jolly Ranchers.

Lady Speed Stick Invisible Dry Shower Fresh:
Crankster: Industrial cleaner
Ella: Soft Scrub

Lady Speed Stick Invisible Dry Orchard Blossom:
Crankster: Green Apple Jolly Ranchers
Ella: Apple Jolly Ranchers. Way too sweet.

Lady Speed Stick Invisible Dry Caribbean Cool:
Crankster: Baby powder
Ella: Baby powder

Mitchum for Women Powder Fresh Clear Gel:
Crankster: Baby powder mixed with a glue stick.
Ella: Baby powder

Mitchum for Women Shower Fresh:
Crankster: Dishwasher detergent and Comet cleanser.
Ella: Household cleaner.

Secret Platinum Velvet Powder:
Crankster: Salad with mint.
Ella: Baby powder.

Secret Platinum Botanical Silk:
Crankster: Nice scent. Cucumbery.
Ella: Parsley

Secret Platinum Powder Fresh:
Crankster: Aggressively flowery.
Ella: Melon and powder

Secret Platinum Ocean Breeze:
Crankster: Berries, softly flowery.
Ella: Those small purple flowers that are generally dried when you buy them.

Secret Platinum Mystic Rain:
Crankster: Berries and Sea World.
Ella: Cucumbers

Secret Platinum Glacier Mist:
Crankster: Fruit punch.
Ella: Baby powder and chlorine.

Secret Platinum Tropical Satin:
Crankster: Powdery and flowery
Misanthropster: Rotting grape jelly.

Secret Platinum Spring Breeze:
Crankster: Sophisticated. Reminds me of Joy perfume.
Misanthropster: Rotting baby powder.

Secret Platinum Peach Shimmer:
Crankster: Did Strawberry Shortcake have a peach friend? Flowery and melony.
Misanthropster: Rotting fruit punch with roses and bourbon.

Secret Platinum Sparkling Vanilla:
Crankster: Rancid coconut milk.
Misanthropster: Straight vanilla extract.

Secret Platinum Lavender Splash:
Crankster: A mix of rubbing alcohol and a toilet puck.
Misanthropster: Window cleaner.

Secret Platinum Tropical Radiance:
Crankster: Rubbing Alcohol and a sleazy rum bar.
Misanthropster: Rum and rotting fruit.

Secret Platinum Gardenia Spray:
Crankster: Old man.
Misanthropster: Rotting fruit.

Secret Platinum Genuine:
Crankster: Mild, wet-smelling.
Misanthropster: Lily of the valley.

Secret Violet Dazzle:
Crankster: Actually smells like violets.
Misanthropster: Actually smells like violets.

Secret Pear:
Crankster: WAY too sweet.
Misanthropster: Smells like green apples.

Soft and Dri Derma Stripe Whisper:
Crankster: Powder, pears, and jasmine.

Soft and Dri Power Stripe Passion Flower:
Crankster: Berries
Ella: Cool and cucumbery.

Soft and Dri DriGel Baby Powder:
Crankster: Smells overpoweringly of baby powder. As a side note, the "DriGel" has the texture of semen.
Ella:Baby Powder with a touch of alcohol.

Soft and Dri Soft Scent:
Crankster: Scented tampons.
Ella: Exactly. Scented tampons.

Sure Fresh Scent:
Crankster: White wine and grapes.
Misanthropster: Like men's cologne.

Sure Powder Scent:
Crankster: Heavy powder smell.
Misanthropster: Baby powder.

Sure Regular Scent:
Crankster: If global warming had a smell, this would be it. Smells like ozone coming off a broken electrical appliance.
Misanthropster: Like men's cologne.

Suave Naturals Sun-Ripened Raspberry:
Crankster: Smells like raspberries.
Misanthropster: Ass.

Suave Naturals Sweet Pea and Violet:
Crankster: Sugary flowers.
Misanthropster: Ass, sweet ass.

Suave Naturals Soothing Aloe Vera:
Crankster: Crushed grass.
Misanthropster: Tangy ass.

Suave Naturals Cucumber and Melon:
Crankster: Green Apple Jolly Ranchers.
Misanthropster: Ass.

Suave Naturals Pacific Breeze:
Crankster: Grapes
Misanthropster: Just fuckin' nasty.

Suave Fresh Powder :
Crankster: Basic powder scent.
Misanthropster: I hate Suave.

Suave Powder :
Crankster: Sweetly, cloyingly flowery. Gross.
Misanthropster: Gross b.o. Like Tanya, a girl I knew in High School.

Teen Spirit Berry Blossom:
Crankster: Powder and fruit punch.
Misanthropster: Rasberrys. Fuck, I can't spell.

Teen Spirit Cool Coconut:
Crankster: Coconut Oil
Misanthropster: Coconuts. And teen spirit.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Hallmark of Insanity

WARNING: This post contains words, phrases, and images that, while puerile and silly, are (ironically) intended for a mature audience. It should not be read by nursery-school students, individuals with heart conditions, humorless liberals, or any member of the Moral Majority. Thank you for your patience.

This is my sister Ella. You might remember her from some of my earlier posts, including Party Like It's 2000 and My Men Wear ??? or Nothing at All. In this picture, she's wearing her Halloween costume, which she titled "Nut-Ella":

In May, 2006, Ella graduated from art school with dual degrees in Sculpture and Painting and Printmaking. Yesterday, we drove her to Roanoke, so she could catch the bus to Pennsylvania. She's gotten a job at Bucknell University, where she will run the wood shop and teach a drawing class. Ella's a little flaky, so we ended up leaving the house late. After a high-speed, traffic-weaving chase up the highway, we got there as the bus was pulling out. I was preparing to park my car in front of it when Ella and the Wife convinced the driver to stop.

One of Ella's biggest concerns is supporting herself. To that end, she designed a series of unique greeting cards. She sees these as a form of democratized art that the public can easily buy and enjoy. At least, that's her story and she's sticking to it.

Me, I think they're just funny. Here are a few of my favorites:

Ella thinks that the first orgasm should be recognized as a major event in a woman's life. I somehow doubt that it's going to edge out the quinceanera anytime soon.

I'm not sure this particular card idea will really catch on. Maybe it will find its niche among divorced couples.

Okay, I like the idea of celebrating the loss of virginity. On the other hand, scheduling the party might be a little problematic.

You have to admit that this one makes a lot of sense. I wonder why they don't already make "congratulations on your plastic surgery cards."

Again, an idea whose time has come.

And finally...

For when you don't have the guts to say it face-to-face. As a side note, could she have picked a gayer-looking model for this card?

In other news, I would like to announce that Serena, of Life Is Falling to Pieces is the winner of the second Porn Logic Challenge. For her prize, she may choose any of the above cards. And, as always, thanks for playing!

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Top Pick-Up Poems, Part II

I was surprised by the responses to Top Pick-Up Poems, Part I. Apparently, everybody's got a favorite or two. In the interests of democracy, and because I really like talking about seductive poetry, I decided to post some of your responses, as well as your favorites. If I didn't include yours, or if you still have a favorite that you want to write about, never fear: this isn't the last Pick Up Poems post!

Misanthropster brought up Shakespeare's Sonnet 130:

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

This isn't really a seduction poem; personally, thought, I prefer this kind of love. This is the one that notices the warts, the foul morning breath, and the oddly-shaped toes, and still cares. It doesn't just accept the flaws, but revels in them. Maybe it's not seductive, but it's seriously beautiful.

Besides, Shakespeare kicks ass!

Odat offered this one (complete with apologies!):

My First Time

The sky was dark
the moon was high
all alone just her and I
Her hair so soft
her eyes so blue
I knew just what she wanted to do
Her skin so soft
her legs so fine
I ran my fingers down her spine
I didn't know how
but I tried my best
to place my hand on her breast
I remember my fear
my fast beating heart
but slowly she spread her legs apart
And when she did
I felt no shame
as all at once the white stuff came
At last it was finished
it's all over now,
my first time...milking a cow.

Once, when I was teaching a creative writing class, a student read a poem that she had written. It was incredibly intense, building to a conclusion that left us all breathless. When she was finished, I mopped off my brow and looked around at the class. Many of them were flushed and appeared either embarrassed or aroused. Smiling, I said something like "Well, I guess we all know what that one was about. Did it accomplish its purpose?" Once I broke the silence, the whole class got involved in a very interesting discussion about this girl's exploration of sexuality, her depiction of an orgasm, and so forth. It was an amazingly productive discussion, and we all felt really good about ourselves until it was the girl's turn to discuss her poem. Looking around at us, she kind of tilted her head and said "actually, it was about basketball."

Pawlie Kokonuts enjoyed Donne's "The Flea," and suggested that we take a peek at Elegy 20: To His Mistress Going to Bed":

COME, madam, come, all rest my powers defy ;
Until I labour, I in labour lie.
The foe ofttimes, having the foe in sight,
Is tired with standing, though he never fight.
Off with that girdle, like heaven's zone glittering,
But a far fairer world encompassing.
Unpin that spangled breast-plate, which you wear,
That th' eyes of busy fools may be stopp'd there.
Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime
Tells me from you that now it is bed-time.
Off with that happy busk, which I envy,
That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.
Your gown going off such beauteous state reveals,
As when from flowery meads th' hill's shadow steals.
Off with your wiry coronet, and show
The hairy diadems which on you do grow.
Off with your hose and shoes ; then softly tread
In this love's hallow'd temple, this soft bed.
In such white robes heaven's angels used to be
Revealed to men ; thou, angel, bring'st with thee
A heaven-like Mahomet's paradise ; and though
Ill spirits walk in white, we easily know
By this these angels from an evil sprite ;
Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright.

Licence my roving hands, and let them go
Before, behind, between, above, below.
O, my America, my new-found land,
My kingdom, safest when with one man mann'd,
My mine of precious stones, my empery ;
How am I blest in thus discovering thee !
To enter in these bonds, is to be free ;
Then, where my hand is set, my soul shall be.

Full nakedness ! All joys are due to thee ;
As souls unbodied, bodies unclothed must be
To taste whole joys. Gems which you women use
Are like Atlanta's ball cast in men's views ;
That, when a fool's eye lighteth on a gem,
His earthly soul might court that, not them.
Like pictures, or like books' gay coverings made
For laymen, are all women thus array'd.
Themselves are only mystic books, which we
—Whom their imputed grace will dignify—
Must see reveal'd. Then, since that I may know,
As liberally as to thy midwife show
Thyself ; cast all, yea, this white linen hence ;
There is no penance due to innocence :
To teach thee, I am naked first ; why then,
What needst thou have more covering than a man?

I was blown away to discover that the lines "O, my America, my new-found land," are often used for patriotic purpose. Best of all, the lines before "O, my America" set it up so beautifully: "Licence my roving hands, and let them go/Before, behind, between, above, below." Kinda makes our relationship to the land seem a little too...uh...playful.

Looking over at the little blue dot, I'm noticing that this post is running a little long, so I'm going to hold off on Byron (Glamourpuss' favorite) and "Goblin Market," which Judith suggested. They will, however, be appearing in Top Pick-Up Poems, Part III, presumably with a few other suggestions.

I'm going to leave you with this one, by E.E. Cummings. It is, of course, about a car. Get your brain out of the gutter!

she being Brand

-new;and you
know consequently a
little stiff i was
careful of her and(having

thoroughly oiled the universal
joint tested my gas felt of
her radiator made sure her springs were O.

K.)i went right to it flooded-the-carburetor cranked her

up,slipped the
clutch(and then somehow got into reverse she
kicked what
the hell)next
minute i was back in neutral tried and

again slo-wly;bare,ly nudg. ing(my

lev-er Right-
oh and her gears being in
A 1 shape passed
from low through
second-in-to-high like
greasedlightning)just as we turned the corner of Divinity

avenue i touched the accelerator and give
her the juice,good


was the first ride and believe i we was
happy to see how nice she acted right up to
the last minute coming back down by the Public
Gardens i slammed on

brakes Bothatonce and

brought allofher tremB
to a:dead.


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Thursday, January 11, 2007

One Thing I'm Really Going to Miss...

Is the sunsets. The New River Valley has the most beautiful sunsets. Click on these images if you want to see larger renditions.

I took these pictures at the ugly little strip mall near our house. It's funny, but I stopped looking at the sunsets a while ago.

I'm also going to miss the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here's a picture that we took on New Year's Day:

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Cavalier Poets (Top Pick-Up Poems of the Seventeenth Century)

A while back, when I posted on Richard Brautigan, Pickled Olives noted that his poetry wasn't very seductive. I, of course, started thinking about poetic seduction, and who would be on my personal mix tape of great poetic seducers.

The problem is that seducing someone with poetry is cheesy. It's hard to imagine a situation in which it would come off well. In fact, the only way that I could imagine it working would be if one were to "ironically" rattle off a few lines of a good, seductive poem. Of course, the gentleman in question would then have to look off in the distance in an incredibly deep, "I am way too multilayered for you" kind of way. Maybe that would work.

Still, what poems would he use? Personally, my vote is for one of the Cavalier or Metaphysical poets. Everyone who's seen Dead Poets Society is familiar with Robert Herrick's "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time" and Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress." My personal vote, however, goes to John Donne for "The Flea:"

MARK but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is ;
It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.
Thou know'st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead ;
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two ;
And this, alas! is more than we would do.

O stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, yea, more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.
Though parents grudge, and you, we're met,
And cloister'd in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me,
Let not to that self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it suck'd from thee?
Yet thou triumph'st, and say'st that thou
Find'st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
'Tis true; then learn how false fears be ;
Just so much honour, when thou yield'st to me,
Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.

Seriously, what could be cooler than this poem? Donne is using a bloodsucking parasite to convince a girl to have sex with him. Best of all, he makes a really convincing argument. In some ways, this poem strikes me as a Jackass-type dare. It's easy to imagine Donne hanging out at a local alehouse with a few of his buddies, talking about the most bizarre way to hit on a girl. They're listing improbable things to use--the pox, unclean clothes, an outhouse--when one of them hits on the idea of a flea. Donne, the wild man (this is before he found religion) looks around the table and says, with studied nonchalance, "I could do it." A couple of weeks later, he shows up with this beautiful poem. And everybody buys him a round.

Of course, we don't know if he ever field tested it...

Ben Jonson was another great seduction poet; in fact, he's considered the father of the Cavalier poet tradition. Ironically, he has fallen by the wayside in terms of popularity. Check out his "Song to Celia":

Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup,
And I'll not look for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise
Doth ask a drink divine;
But might I of Jove's nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.

I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
Not so much honouring thee
As giving it a hope, that there
It could not withered be.
But thou thereon didst only breathe,
And sent'st it back to me;
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,
Not of itself, but thee.

Now, I'm not sure, but I'd be willing to bet that this one would do the trick. It might not even seem cheesy if one were to recite it aloud to the right woman at the right time.

I wonder what has happened to the art of seduction. I once read about how moles reproduce. Apparently, the females mark their tunnels to demonstrate their readiness. Shortly thereafter, the males find them and they commence a hurried, fumbling copulation in the dark, after which they go their separate ways.

Sounds familiar.

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