Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Gaydar Nation Likes The Very Bloody Marys!

From Gaydar Nation:
Valentino is having a very bad time of it. A police officer by trade in San Francisco, his boss and mentor has disappeared, he’s hunting a trio of twinks wandering the city terrorising it, and his lover has been killed. Oh, and did I mention Valentino is also a 200-year-old gay vampire who drinks blood with vodka?!

Yes, you don’t have to be Stephen Hawking to work out this is no realist novel, but a synthetically surreal universe of faeries (the cmythical creatures not the camp caricatures), ghouls and all kinds of things that go bump in the undead of the night. It’s a world of Buffy The Vampire Gayer, if you will.

Despite being set in the steep-stepped hills of San Fran, this isn’t the familiar sunny, picture postcard place of the travel brochures, but rather a dark and murky netherworld where all is not what it seems.

The novel opens with Valentino searching desperately for his guv’ner, Pogue. With no clues in sight, the case seems cold and then tragedy strikes. Returning home one evening, Valentino watches in horror and disbelief as his lover, Julian, crumbles to dust before his eyes. Sick with grief, anger and revenge, Valentino goes full-throttle to find Julian’s killer and make them pay.

In The Very Bloody Marys, M. Christian has created a wildly weird world of vampiric pains and pleasures yet still manages to somehow root it in reality, largely because he never loses sight of the fact the characters need to have genuinely authentic emotional lives no matter which fantastical environment you plonk them in. He makes them fully-drawn, involving, standalone characters pulsed by the thump of the human heart, which is ironic considering we’re technically dealing with the undead here.

In fact, the whole narrative has flesh and blood as it races along at amphetamine pace. Scene after scene rolls by with such breathtaking speed you feel like you’re on one of those fairground death rides called something hideous like Decapitation or Rigor Mortis. Despite the breakneck paciness, Christian doesn’t lose control of his characters or story; he’s always in command of the reins so the read has a consistent rhythm that nicely carries the action along.

It’s not all bish-bash-bosh, either. Christian can be incredibly lyrical, especially when describing Valentino’s love for Julian. Just look at this description: “Oh oh oh Julian Julian Julian ? beloved, adored, venerated companion, compadre, mate, playmate, partner, betrothed, idol, best friend, love, lover ? oh oh oh Julian Julian Julian.” Don’t you read that and wish someone had written those words about you?

Christian’s métier, though, is conjuring up powerful visuals that give this noir mystery a definite cinematic flavour that’s one part 1940s movie thriller and two parts po-mo sci-fier, which makes the novel ripe for the film adaptation treatment. And, let’s face it, that should bring a gratifying thud of kerching to the ears of any author.

Atmospherically potent and stylishly polished, Christian marries suspense, terror, black humour and romance intelligently and wittily making The Very Bloody Marys a smart and fun addition to the bloodsuckingly camp vampire genre.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Jack Handey on Criticism

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.

- Jack Handey, comedian (1949 - )

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bunny Ears

If you're a Sirius radio listener tune into Playboy Radio and hear three of my stories - "Water of Life," "Everest," and "Blow Up" - being read. I'm trying to round up mp3 files of them all, and if I do I'll be posting them here as well.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

My Gun is Prodigious

Here's a bit of fun: the start of a short novel I may or may not finish. Hope you like!

My Gun is Prodigious
By Zagreel Weegeen, Third Hatchmate of the Lydra Hegemony (translated by M. Christian)

"Are you a non-public dick?" the female spoke, walking into my professional space on her aesthetically appealing locomotive appendages.

Even though it towards the end of my human mating cycle, I still found her be fertile and more than suitable for procreation, what with her well-developed milk glands, crimson-painted oral display, and blue-toned visual organs.

"That's what the portal mentioned," I uttered, not wanting to let her achieve sexual superiority this early in a potential courtship display. "What can I accomplish with you?"

She continued her courting ritual by coating her eating and breathing orifice with saliva, and bending her locomotive appendages to 'sit' her padded anal orifice down on my sitting device, folding her lower appendages to show me a generalized view of her sexual apparatus. "I need your assistance," she spoke, exhaling powerful chemical attractants.

"What kind of assistance do you require?" I uttered, skeptical of her choice of me as a mating partner. I was not a unsuitable candidate for mating, for I had shared my sperm sacks with many suitable female members of my species, but I have also through many human years of direct experience have educated myself that such a brazen presentation of sexual characteristics is typically deceptive. Still, I did find simply physical pleasure in the female's direct exhibition of her secondary sexual characteristics.

"A person unknown to me is going to attempt to end my physical existence," the female spoke with tones of no alarm, her attack or defend pheromones not present. "I require you to prevent this from occurring."

I was a male of no great lineage, but with ample direct experience with many human interactions, but had never audibly received any like pronouncement from any human during my many orbits of the local solar body in occupation of a non-public investigator. I expressed my confusion by lowering my hairy eye-protecting lids and moving my upper body-structure closer towards the female, and speaking: "I am confused by this. Why would anyone seek to cause you bodily injury?"

This female person then exposed her white incisors, demonstrating to my vision that she found my confusion enjoyable. "Mister Weapon, you do not think that someone would not want to terminate my physical existence?"

Despite the female's obvious attempts to confuse my human thought processes through perceiving her sexual characteristics I was still compelled to complete the mating ritual, and deposit my sperm in her egg receptacles: "Female, you do not appear an individual who would have anyone on this small planet pursuing the end of your life processes."

The female produced a 'cigarrette' and ignited it with a mechanical device. The tube of plant fibers filled my moderately-sized professional space with the reek of carcinogenic long-chain molecules. "Mister Weapon, I am a female of pleasant company, a staunch pursuer of only high-class breeding material. Nonetheless, someone proximately very soon will try to terminate me."

Her profession of only desiring a high-quality mate for reproduction made me display my own 'teeth' as the content of her words stimulated my organ of humor. "Female, I presume not on your standing within our human culture. But I cannot comprehend why a person would cause you to die."

She placed the tube of carcinogenic materials back in her oral cavity, drawing in the poisons with a long, slow intake of atmosphere. "I possess great funds, or as I should better state in English, my male parent possesses immense quantities of property and currency. I suspect that this might be the reasons for the attempts to cause my physical self to stop functioning. My parental is William Cash."

I attempted to control the muscles surrounding my air and food intake as well as the ones around my optical organs but I suspect that I was unsuccessful in the attempt against the connotations of the name of her male parental. I doubted that any human in the Metropolis of Los Angeles didn't know the identity label of Cash. His personal signet was on many of the Angeles structures of notoriety, as well as being prominently featured on many of the documentations of control in the big city. I knew little of the structure of this creche, but I had become informed through various information sources available to me, such as the ink of pulp media of 'newspapers' and primitive radio reception technology that the parental of the female member of my species roosting before my optical receivers was nearing the end of an average human lifespan. If her physical essence should cease to function effectively due to a natural progression of deterioration, then this female progeny would be the recipient of that impressive accumulation of human monetary units.

Even though it disturbed my emotional equilibrium to have such a mortification for the ending of another entity's physical existence, especially one that appeared to my human senses as desirable to pass on my genetic legacy, it remained a viable possibility. "Do you, female of the Cash legacy, have any suspicions as to an individual or group of individuals who would be willing to cease your self for reasons of your parental's immense property and currency reserves?"


Friday, December 07, 2007

Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker: The Best of the Best of the Best

(the following is part of an ongoing series of columns I did for The Erotica Readers & Writers Association on the ins and outs and ins and outs and ins and outs of writing good smut)

Here's a quote that's very near and dear to my heart:

"From the age of six I had a mania for drawing the shapes of things. When I was fifty I had published a universe of designs, but all I have done before the age of seventy is not worth bothering with. At seventy five I'll have learned something of the pattern of nature, of animals, of plants, of trees, birds, fish and insects. When I am eighty you will see real progress. At ninety I shall have cut my way deeply into the mystery of life itself. At a hundred I shall be a marvelous artist. At a hundred and ten everything I create; a dot, a line, will jump to life as never before. To all of you who are going to live as long as I do, I promise to keep my word. I am writing this in my old age. I used to call myself Hokosai, but today I sign my self 'The Old Man Mad About Drawing.'"

That was from Katsushika Hokusai, a Japanese painter of the Ukiyo-e school (1760-1849). Don't worry about not knowing him, because you do. He created the famous "Great Wave Off Kanagawa," published in his Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji - a print you've probably seen a thousand times.

Hokusai says it all: the work is what's really important, that he will always continue to grow and progress as an artist, and that who he is will always remain less than what he creates.

Writing is like art. We struggle to put our thoughts and intimate fantasies down just-so, then we send them out into an often harsh and uncaring world, hoping that someone out there will pat us on the head, give us a few coins, and tell us we did a good job.

What with this emotionally chaotic environment a little success can push just about anyone into feeling overly superior. Being kicked and punched by the trials and tribulations of the writing life making just about anyone desperate to feel good about themselves - even if it means losing perspective, looking down on other writers. Arrogance becomes an emotional survival tool, a way of convincing themselves they deserve to be patted on the noggin a few more times than anyone else, paid more coins, and told they are beyond brilliant, extremely special.

It's very easy to spot someone afflicted with this. Since their superiority constantly needs to be buttressed, they measure and wage the accomplishments and merits of other writers putting to decide if they are better (and so should be humbled) or worse (and so should be the source of worship or admiration). In writers, this can come off as someone who thinks they deserve better ... everything than anyone else: pay, attention, consideration, etc. In editors, this appears as rudeness, terseness, or an unwillingness to treat contributors as anything but a resource to be exploited.

Now my house has more than a few windows, and I have more than enough stones, so I say all this with a bowed head: I am not exactly without this sin. But I do think that trying to treat those around you as equals should be the goal of every human on this planet, let alone folks with literary aspirations. Sometimes we might fail, but even trying as best we can -- or at least owning the emotion when it gets to be too much - is better than embracing an illusion of superiority.

What this has to do with erotica writing has a lot to do with marketing. It is an illusion - and a pervasive one - that good work will always win out. This is true to a certain extent, but there are a lot of factors that can step in the way of reading a great story and actually buying it. Part of that is the relationship that exists between writers and publishers or editors. A writer who honestly believes they are God's gift to mankind might be able to convince a few people, but after a point their stories will be more received with a wince than a smile: no matter how good a writer they are their demands are just not worth it.

For editors and publishers, arrogance shows when more and more authors simply don't want to deal with them. After a point they might find themselves with a shallower and shallower pool of talent from which to pick their stories - and as more authors get burned by their attitude and the word spreads they might also find themselves being spoken ill of to more influential folks, like publishers.

Not to take away from the spiritual goodness of being kind to others, acting superior is also simply a bad career move. This is a very tiny community, with a lot of people moving around. Playing God might be fun for a few years but all it takes is stepping on a few too many toes - especially toes that belong on the feet of someone who might suddenly be able to help you in a big way some day - making arrogance a foolish role to play.

I am not a Christian (despite my pseudonym) but they have a great way of saying it, one that should be tacked in front of everyone's forehead: "Do onto others as you would have then do unto you." It might not be as elegant and passionate as my Hokusai quote, but it's still a maxim we should all strive to live by - professionally as well as personally.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The View From Here: It's the End of the World As We Know It ...

(the following is part of an ongoing 'column' I did for Suspect Thoughts, and, no, it's not supposed to make sense)

"... this is an announcement from Apocalypse Management - your last word in the end of the world reporting. Next Blurmsday, the usage of superfast bacterial computers in the design of advertising jingles will result in the creation of a meme, or memory virus, so potent as to destroy all cognitive abilities in the listener, resulting in an irresistible compulsion to purchase the product indicated and spread more copies of the meme through careless humming and even outright singing. Spreading around the world as fast as it takes to sing "Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Meyer Weiner -" the information lifeform will eventually supplant all rational thought, wiping out our species as sufferers become unable to even feed themselves ...."

I started to reach for the dial but hesitated when a rhyme for "encrusted" suddenly came to mind, so I jumped back into my poem - pausing only when getting stuck on "delirium."

"On Trasday, the Unisecurian Cult of Transubstantiated Bliss will mark the 102nd ascension of their martyr, Long Lone Love, by embarking on a divine war against all unbelievers. In a global bloodbath, they will kill over 90% of the world's population in a single week, mostly through the slow, painful process of "fractionating" where the victim is methodically sliced away, starting with the feet. The carnage will only stop when the Cult realizes that only either a cruel and evil god would allow such butchery - even of unbelievers and heretics - or that there is no divine presence at all, and that man himself is the sole moral authority in existence. Facing this existential crisis, the cult will commit a hasty and often extraordinarily messing mass suicide - leaving the few survivors of both the Cult and non-believers to die of starvation and disease."

Stanza finished, I rested a bit - sipping my quickly cooling mug of Buggery Brew, absently mulling over my work ... did "incidentally" really work in line two? "Prurient" definitely needed work, as did "iron monger" in the fifth line ....

"Purseday will see the complete destruction of reality itself, when the Think Big Project - an unique cooperative effort between world-renown philosophers, religious leaders, particle physicists, mathematicians, French Chefs, and garage mechanics will result in the realization that the substance of our existence is nothing but a complex symbolic hallucination of a specific ant colony in Brazil. Before this colony can be protected against outside interference, a housewife in Sao Paulo will dose the nest with several cans of extra-strong Riddo brand insecticide. As the individual ants perish, increasingly fundamental components of our world will fade, replaced by conspicuously blank sections of geography, vocabulary, anatomy, and societal structure. The few survivors, unable to stand because of missing limbs, speak because of missing limbs, or breathe because of missing lungs, will cling together until the last of the ants dies."

In one brief moment, what I saw as my best work to date died in a rolling wave of self-criticism: what the hell was I thinking? None of it worked. It was crap - no, worse than crap, it was pure Reader's Digest. Not even worthy of lining a beefly cage. I picked the sheet up, intending to dramatically tear it into shreds when ....

"The moon will hit the earth next Scarnsday. Surprisingly, however, there will be survivors. Unfortunately, they will kill each other off in a series of wars over who was to blame for the moon falling in the first place. On a side note, man will be succeeded by cockroaches, which will settle the issue by simply claiming that 'man' - nonspecific race, nation, etc. - was to blame, leaving it at that."

Ummm ... you know, I though, this isn't THAT bad. If I tweaked the second stanza a bit, tied in the imagery of the graveyard from the 13th line, fourth stanza, and then switched the eighth and the second ...

"Those who believe that men have only a certain numbers of orgasms will have their theories validated next Vernsday when a cosmic alignment will cause men to experience all of their unspent orgasms over a period of 12 minutes. The subsequent erectile ruptures will totally decimate the male population of the planet, causing only a small number of women to become despondent but will completely revitalize the flagging sex device industry. Women will manage to survive and create a near utopia - until befalling to an ancient disease that had been kept in check for through male urination on toilet seats."

Momentarily frustrated, I again reached out to turn the damned thing off - but bumping my wrist against my still partially full mug and almost spilling the orange drink all over my desk shocked me silly. Not wanting another near disaster, I took a break from the page to carefully walk the cup to the sink and throw the rest of the cold brew away.

"... in quite a shock to believers of Molloth, the ancient starman will not come from his Cold Home on Sirius 4, but will rather send his brother, Vellum. Vellum, who is not as well known or popular as Molloth - who, it is said, helped the Egyptians with the pyramids and copy-edited the 10 Commandments - will borrow money, lay around watching TV all day, and criticize everything we've done. When humanity will have had enough, and will ask him to leave, he will become argumentative and claim that humanity is a bunch of jerks who never liked him, always preferring Molloth, that "goody-goody jerk." Vellum will then drink too much and pick a fight with humanity - which will loose. Vellum, feeling superior, will then return to Sirius 4, telling Molloth that humanity started it all - and, besides, had it coming."

I stood at the sink for a long time, having long finished washing my mug, just letting the cool water splash over my hands. I knew I should be getting back to work, but didn't - after all, it would all be over soon anyway.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Still more ebay fun!

Here's your chance to pick up some great anthologies (many of which being out of print and/or rare) that just happen to have stories in them by yours truly. Check them out here. Keep coming back, by the way, as I'll be posting even more in the next few weeks.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pornotopia: My Date with Anne Coulter

The following is just one of a bunch of pieces I’ve been working on for a project tentatively titled Pornotopia: The Ins and Outs and Ins and Outs of Sex and Erotica. Enjoy!

My Date with Anne Coulter

Despite apparent semiotic similarities, the female is, in fact, from a genus not at all related to its common mating partner, which in no way prevents it from various futile reproductive attempts.

This pseudo-positive assortative mating – the preference of one gender to seek out mates with similar or superior characteristics – has been likened to the behavior of a unique subspecies of baylisascaris that frequently attempts to reproduce with more developed species in an attempt to mimic their successful behaviors. Unlike these fecal parasites, the female is far more aggressive in its mating behaviors.

So aggressive, in fact, that few species can survive the attempt. For many years hypotheses regarding these common coitus fatalities were few and far between, more than likely because of the high incidents of injury and death among researchers who put themselves at high risk to study the sexual activities of this unusually destructive female. Fortunately recent experimental developments have paved the way for researchers to safely observe for the first time the actual behavior of the species from initial excitement phase to the inevitable conclusion of its unique sexual response cycle.

Again paralleling positive assortative mating, the female is apparently attracted to males exhibiting dominant behavior such as ritualistic combat, excessive fat storage, and territorial aggression. However, the female is again exceptional in that she normally prefers sexual partners who only manifest dominant behavior traits. In a well-documented experiment conducted in 2002, when faced with a choice between an extremely healthy male specimen of a similar species with only a miniscule colorization differentiation versus a male with obvious physiological deficits who was only apparently suitable for reproduction, the female consistently preferred to attempt to mate with the similarly colored male. It is interesting to note, however, that this behavior is only common if the female is out in the open. When isolated, the female will reverse this behavior and become extremely sexually aggressive toward the colored male.

Once the female has become attracted to a potential mate, it begins the courtship by displaying a series of provocative displays apparently evolved to stun the male to the point where sexual activity is optimal – for the female, because, as noted, the mating activity of the female in no way could be considered beneficial to the male. One of the early displays involves the unfolding of the lower limbs, extending them from the female’s protective sheath of fibers. These fibers, it should be noted, have been acquired from the desiccated remains of other, previous, matings. Extended outward, the limbs thus act mysteriously. Although they clearly lack any form of healthy musculature or show any signs that the female could act in any way as a successful brood mother, most males are lured at least as long as necessary for the female to continue to the next phase of her sexual courtship. Various research suggests that there are other, as yet unknown, factors at work at this stage in the female’s mating behavior. Semiochemicals have been discussed, as has the concept that the female’s coloring and behavior somehow mirrors the male’s, even though the actions of this false female in no way reflect true actions of a sexually mature female of any species, let alone the male's genotype. One radical theory, as yet untested, even hypothesizes that the female relies on a form of "bribe," consisting of preferred nutrients or items that might make its lair more comfortable.

Now close enough to a potential suitor, the female extends a set of hooked upper limbs evolved to lock around the mate’s thorax, effectively trapping it. Although this maneuver is largely successful in trapping the male, it should be noted that some males have been sighted who, at the onset of this initially aggressive female mating behavior, have resorted to severing their own limbs to escape. These limbless males can often be seen at the periphery of the female’s territory, too entranced by the female’s chemical lure to escape but having become too cautious to proceed closer and risk her predation.

For those unfortunate enough not to escape, the female begins the next stage of her pseudo-mating behavior: the opening of the anterior mandibles, whereby a piercing stylet extends down and outward well below even the laryngeal prominence. Evolved with barbs to resist removal, the stylet is capable of easily puncturing the epicuticle and even cracking through the most hardened of procuticle. Depending on the chosen mate, the stylet will enter the head near or even directly through the vulnerable ocelli or directly into the core of the thorax.

Once this penetration has been achieved, the female injects neurotoxins that act as a sexual catalyst for her aggressive mating behavior by markedly increasing the males susceptibility to pain. Similar in toxicity to scorpion venom, the wild thrashing of the impaled male further stimulates the female causing a dramatic increase in the thrusting of the style. So violent is this activity that occasionally the barb has been observed penetrating completely through a potential mate’s head, though this in no way decreases the female’s aggression.

The next phase of this pseudo-sexual mating begins with the flooding of the male’s head or thorax with a mixture of enzymes that immediately begin to break down all present macromolecules. Normally preceding digestion, this activity does not continue with the removal of the broken-down tissues. Instead the region liquefied acts as a nutritious "nest" for the next stage.

In an action so far too fast to be completely viewed or documented, the stylet is removed and the hole previously punched through the body of the male is roughly widened by the introduction of an ovipositor. Reaching precisely to the previously mentioned digested region, the female then proceeds to go through a gesture of egg-laying, including the positing of a large sterile egg into the body cavity of the still-thrashing male.

This activity is important to note as it adds a new complexity to this puzzling behavior. For not only is the female attracted to, and very often attempts to mate with, members of other species, resulting in the death of the chosen mate, but the attempt is fruitless as the female has yet to be observed procreating in any way. Being a clearly unsuccessful evolutionary development, having no observable biological function aside from preying on males of other species, how the female still manages to carry on its genes is a matter of much curiosity.

The mystery of the female's behavior concludes with the last act of its unusual pseudo-sexual mating ritual. While the order mantodea has long been accused of the same behavior, recent studies have indicated that it is not natural in the wild. In the case of this singular specimen, however, the action has been observed – where it is safe to do so – and thoroughly documented far too often. Whether it is a way of further stimulating its own sexual responses or just as a way of procuring additional nutrients, the eating of the male’s head after sex continues to perplex researchers and remains a fertile area for further study.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sometimes A Great Thing Has To End

If you've been living under a rock you may not know that I have a serious 'thing' for Sage Vivant, fantastic writer and until recently the driving force behind Custom Erotica Source. I say 'recently' because after a very long and very noble run she's decided to close CES and move onto better things.

While like a lot of her clients and friends I am very sorry to see CES go I am still madly applauding her for deciding to move into bigger and better - and best of all more fun - things in the future!

Here's Sage's Announcement:
If you subscribe to my mailing list, you already know this, but for those of you who don't, I decided this week that it's time for Custom Erotica Source to close its doors. The last date to place orders will be December 10 (I will be delivering stories through the holidays and into January, I suspect). The CES Web site will go dark after that.

This was not an easy decision to make, as you might imagine. I started CES in January 1998, which means that this January, it would have been 10 years old. And honestly, it was a fun run. I met terrific writers and worked with some delightful clients. My original goal was to start a company that would not only allow my work to land directly in the hands of people who wanted it, but also to give people permission to indulge their fantasies in a safe but exciting way.

I can honestly say I accomplished both and I wouldn't trade these 10 years for anything. But like all good things, CES must come to an end. One of my clients (Photoshop by ARB) -- for whom I've been supplying stories since about 1999, I think -- created the image you see here in honor of the occasion. And it's precisely the kind of generous, funny, warm-hearted gesture that I so often experienced from clients throughout the years. I'm getting verklempt just thinking about it!

What will I be doing? I'll still be writing -- no doubt about that. But I'll be moving into new genres and doing different kinds of projects. Change is good, especially when one can control it! I'll be posting more here in the next few weeks, so stay tuned....

An Insult to Pornographers Everywhere

From Metafilter:
Norman Mailer has posthumously won this year's Literary Review Bad Sex Award for his novel on the early life of Hitler, The Castle in the Forest. He was up against some stiff competition but Norman managed to rise to the occasion (sorry). Safe for work, but you might feel a bit dirty in the morning.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The View From Here: The Care And Feeding Of A World

(the following is part of an ongoing 'column' I did for Suspect Thoughts, and, no, it's not supposed to make sense: only be weird fun)

Damn, I forgot to feed my world. Sigh. I just have to face it, I guess: I'm just not good with those kinds of little responsibilities. I mean, I can handle the big stuff, but things like watering plants, remembering to take the trash out on Thursday nights, or buy moisturizer just split right out of the ol' brain-pan.

What was worse, when I glanced over at the bowl I realized that I hadn't remembered to sprinkle in some flakes for quite awhile. The poor little things had grown these horrible little social-economic structures, diplomatic and interpersonal fangs and all. It was kind of cool, in a scary kind of way, to watch them stab at each other. One of them developed industry and started smoking up the habitat, while others twisted themselves all corkscrew and backwards with surreal belief systems. Those wouldn't be around long. Still others started to spore their philosophies, releasing streamers of missionaries to infect the rest of the bowl.

Then they really started going at it, and it was quite the show: one turned completely feral, lashed out at a nearby one, lighting up the tank with fires and making this fog of little burned bodies. Soon, a few others started getting in on the fun. Man, you could read from the glow of all the burning artificial structures. Over in a far corner, another was drying to breed itself into superiority, but after a really short time it sort of imploded and as I watched, hypnotized as it boiled with cannibalism.

Remembering what the guy at the pet shop said, I dug around under the sink and got out some Solar Flare Bleach ("Nothing Cleans Better than a Blast of Radiation!") but standing there, looking at all those little critters, I just couldn't do it. Okay, they were really starting to stink up the place, what with all their ridiculous petrochemicals and fluorocarbons and I knew the longer I waited the harder it would be to clean up the tank, but there was just something about their pathetic struggle to survive. You know, I never really thought of myself as someone who gets off on watching horrible things happen to good critters, but there was just something kind of hypnotic about the way they toothed and clawed at each other.

By noon several had found out how to split the atom -- and, oh boy -- then they really lit up the place. First one, then another, and after awhile it looked like all of them were vaporizing this, that, and lots of other things -- but mostly themselves. The flashes almost made my eyes hurt and the steady blue glow followed right after was really very pretty, if you could deal with the charcoal smell, that is.

Oh, wow, I thought, as one of the major sprawling infections began to transform a far corner of the tank into a fireworks show: pulsing reds, fluttering yellows, storm clouds of fallout, forks of bright white lightning. After that I kept my all my eyes on that tank, waiting for the next show.

I didn't have long to wait, as it seemed they all wanted in on the act. For the next few hours they popped and crackled, flared and flashed themselves into extinction. Still, it had been a great show, the way they lobbed those weapons of mass destruction at each other, the lovely way they stripped their tank of anything burnable or eatable. Despite how I might feel about myself, I have to admit that it was really quite wonderful to watch.

After they'd all finished their dying, I scrubbed out the tank -- not easy but I did it anyway -- tripped down to the pet store to get a new plastic baggie full of healthy, hearty critters, and just enough flakes to keep them that way for a day or two. But no more than that.

Like I said, I just can't seem to handle those silly little details. So I have come to accept the fact that my plants are always going to dry up and die, the trash will just keep getting bigger and bigger, or that I'll always be running out of moisturizer. But isn't it weird how sometimes a personal fault can lead to finding something new? If I'd remembered to feed that tank I never would have known how entertaining those critters could be -- as they died, that is.

And that's how I discovered my new hobby.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Me on DoorQ

I'm jazzed to announce that I'm going to be contributing some fun queer SF/H/F material to the newly launched DoorQ site. SF/H/F, by the way, is science fiction, horror and fantasy for all you non-nerds.

Come check it out!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Even Better Than The Real Thing

Fantastic illustration by Owaikeo from his deviantart page

If you didn't have enough cybersex from my last piece up on Cecilia Tan's Circlet Press site head over there right now for another speculation on the future of makin' whoopie: Even Better Than The Real Thing. Enjoy!

Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker: The End of Erotica

(the following is part of an ongoing series of columns I did for The Erotica Readers & Writers Association on the ins and outs and ins and outs and ins and outs of writing good smut)

In an interview on ERA, William Dean asked me "From your experience, what are we, as erotica readers and writers, apt to see as trends in the coming year?" After answering him I got to thinking about the future of erotica and where it could go - or, since it is my column after all, where I want to see it go.

My answer? I want erotica to vanish, to disappear as a literary genre, to utterly and completely GO AWAY.

Biting the hand that's fed me? Sour grapes? Making noise for the sake of noise? None of the above: hear me out.

Erotica exists because a need wasn't being met. Readers looked around at movies, books, television, and every other media and noticed that something was missing. Rob and Laura Petrie had twin beds, Ricky Ricardo and Lucy pulled off a trick not seen since Mary got knocked up by a ghost: a virgin (as far as we know) birth. If a book managed to actually talk about what happened behind closed doors and under the sheets, it was immediately banned, burned, or branded INDECENT.

So, erotica: a peek behind those doors and under those covers. Sex was out in the open and, more importantly, it was profitable. Sex sold, and very well - and with anything that sells well, the people doing the selling began to make more and more and more of it.

That, in itself, isn't a bad thing. After all, if sex didn't sell we wouldn't have MTV, Fox, beer ads, Britney Spears, Ron Jeremy, the entire literary erotica genre, or even the Erotica Readers and Writers Association and my column. But all this and more is popular, and remains popular, because it doesn't exist anywhere else.

Pick up a book, switch on the tube, plop down half your paycheck for a movie ticket and sure there might be hints, suggestions, or allusions but that'll be it. The world remains a place where giving head gets an X, cutting off a head only gets an R.

Meanwhile, out here in the wild woollies of smut writing, we continue to write books and stories that address what no one else seems to be talking about: sex. The problem is that for the longest time, we were part of an opposite but equal problem, which was talking about nothing but sex.

Luckily this has been changing. It used to be that just simply writing s-e-x was enough, but as the public started to get more, they also began asking for more. Editors, publishers and more importantly readers have responded by demanding erotica with depth, meaning, wit, style, and sophistication - and writers have been doing exactly that, pushing the boundaries of what sex writing can be.

The result? Erotica writers have created a genre worthy of respect and serious, non-genre attention. This is a great time to be working in this field, because for the first time writing about sex is not a guarantee of condemnation or exile to a professional Elba. Erotica writers are breaking out and otherwise mainstream publishers are being to pay serious attention not only to the marketability of sex but because of what's developed in the genre, they can sell it without blushing.

This is a good thing for another, more important reason. Crystal ball time: As erotica becomes more and more refined and mature, more elegant and accepted, it may very well begin to be accepted as a valid and respected form of literature. But what I really hope will happen is what's happened with many other genres: assimilation. It used to be that anything to do with time travel, aliens, or space travel was exiled to science fiction. Then came a renaissance in that genre, and a subsequent use of the old elements in new ways - Kurt Vonnegut comes immediately to mind. The same thing has happened with mysteries, horror, romance, comic books (excuse me, 'graphic novels'), television, and so forth.

As the sexually explicit techniques and methods developed in erotica permeate other genres, the need for erotica as its own separate, unique place in bookstores will fade, then vanish. Erotica will become what it always should have been: a part of life, legitimate and respected - not something to be ashamed of, hidden away, or even just separate.

How will that serve us, the erotica-writing world? Wonderfully, I think. Erotica is fun, I definitely believe that, but it's only one genre. As we become better and better writers, trying new things, new techniques, dipping our toes in new pools, other venues will open up, other - better - playgrounds to frolic in.

Sure it might be scary, once erotica merges with the rest of the world and fades away as a genre in its own right. But think of how much better that world will be, a place where sex is something to be talked about, celebrated, and understood without fear or shame.

Our genre may disappear, could utterly and completely go away - but we will have accomplished something remarkable: We changed the world.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The View From Here: Vanessa Verdugo

(the following is part of an ongoing 'column' I did for Suspect Thoughts, and, no, it's not supposed to make sense: only be weird fun)

Vanessa Verdugo looked striking in the fading daylight, approaching night – but then that year’s definition of beauty was, after all, Vanessa Verdugo: Her hats and veils were in every shop on Gold Road, her dresses were worn to every fete and soirée, the color of her lips, the shade of her blush, washed across thousands of ruffled bedspreads, delicate curtains, plush carpets, swollen pillows, overstuffed chairs, sprawling lounges, and politely sensual settees. Standing on that closely sheered lawn she didn’t appear to have boulevard stockings, avenue heels, promenade gloves, an estate skirt, a mansion blouse, sitting room jewelry or a galleria hat – but a single step beyond Robur Oberon’s estate, to the brass flowers and iron vines that entwined the balustrades of PSV’s streets and lanes and her beauty and style would flow mix and flow, wine in water, with her fashionableness to cover the city.

Sipping a flute of shimmering crystal – the unspoken cost of which would have kept a lesser republic financially solvent for a decade, and thus, for the not mentioning, made it’s prescience so much more powerful – she simply looked striking, not at all the beautiful threat of a woman who had entranced the entire city, and also unspoken, unannounced, and thus immensely more powerful than any priceless champagne flute.

“Great pleasure,” Robur Oberon said, lifting a tankard of frothy brew towards their guest. “Great, great pleasure, to have your company, sir."

Wing’s dark eyes slowly lifted from his glass, where he seemed fascinated by the hesitant streamers of minuscule bubbles in the vintage to stare intently in the direction of Robur Oberon. “I was asked.”

“Well, of course, sir. Absolutely, sir. Could I not have? How could I have turned my back on the plight of a stranger to these shores? I could not have rested if I did not do my duty as a Steward of this City, a Lord of this House and have not at least offered you a hand of friendship?”

“We’re always willing to make new friends,” Vanessa Verdugo said, lifting her own glass slightly in a soft toast.

Wing looked to her, angry puzzlement across his brow. “You and he make people?”

Robur Oberon laughed, holding himself in a tight knot of aborted muscles, the reflex to thump the stranger across the back. “The lovely Vanessa make many things, but we’ve yet to perfect that skill.”

“Fortunate,” Wing said, relief evident. Taking a sip of the vintage, his face lightning-quick changed to shock and disgust. With a smoothly practiced gesture he blew the liquid into his tightened fist, then loudly clapped both hands together.

Vanessa Verdugo noticed, turned slightly away – then raised an immaculately sculpted eyebrow when no champagne flew. She looked inquisitively at Robur Oberon to see if he’d noticed.

He hadn’t: “In fact, we were just discussing how important it is to develop new … relationships shall we say, when one is in unfamiliar lands. Helps the shock, you see, of the strange, the shock of the new, to have a personal landscape of familiarity. This world you’ve found yourself in must be disturbing in its peculiarities, but knowing that certain people - such as the lovely Miss Verdugo and myself – are as stable within it as the earth beneath your feet might give you a comfortable feeling of stability. Not that I would be so bold or arrogant as to imply that we –“ he indicated with a raise of his tankard Vanessa Verdugo “ - are the only ones qualified for such comfort. To be honest, however, Miss Verdugo and I do reach rather extensively through the Territories, so we, or by proxy our influence, would always be near.”

Wing held his flattened palm up to the setting run, examining the tight skin with wide-eyed concentration.

“I do not know how such things are done in … where is it again, friend, that you hail from? I know you’ve spoken of it, but – well - sometimes it does take a few repetitions to get things to stick in an aging mind,” Oberon said, tapping his huge cranium, accompanied by a deep laugh.

Without looking away from his dry hand, Wing said, “Russia. From there I Navigate.” Sadness on his face with the saying of the noun and the verb: a longed for home, and a talent that had betrayed, stranded him.

“Oh, yes, that’s it. ‘Russia’ such an exotic sounding land. Some day when the no-doubt pain of your departure isn’t quite so fresh you will have to tell us of that land: the foods they partake, the strength and duration of the seasons, the music your people enjoy, the mechanisms they may perhaps create. Ah, yes, another reason to join another friend to one’s life: the gaining of knowledge of other places, other lives, other devices and processes. An alliance, if you will: the partnership of two into a stronger one. Would that appeal to you? You with the need for friend in this new world, Miss Verdugo and I with the need to sate our curiosity about your far-flung land? Does that sound appealing to you in any way?”

Wing lowered his hand, blinked once, twice at Oberon – impending tears making his dark eyes shine. His mouth opened, preparation for speech, revealing brass teeth polished to a glowing shine.

But before their guest could expel a sound into the growing darkness of the night, a trio appeared at the far side of the house, rounding the columns. Their soft blue glow, their rolling, liquid gait, their simple shapes – everyone in PSV knew Robur Oberon’s Cell Men, his congealed servants and handymen: low aptitude, chemically dependent, smelling of kerosene and fusil oil, never far from their Master.

They exploded. One, two three – all gone in a wash of shockwave, a balls of fire rolling up into the dark sky. A column, a purple rose bush, a section of hedge crackled and smoked.

Robur Oberon stood and stared, too shock to speak or move. His tankard, held in a suddenly weakened wrist, poured onto the immaculate lawn, foaming at his feet. Vanessa Verdugo slowly lowered her hands, instinctively thrown in front of her legendary face.

“Not good. Making people bad - opposite of good,” Wing said, his dark eyes lit by twirling lights of gold and silver. Turning to that year’s beauty, and the most powerful man in the Territories, he repeated himself, in case they hadn’t heard: “Not good. Making people bad - opposite of good” then, without looking back, he walked through the still lingering flames and away into the soft darkness of that summer night.

“Guess we’ll have to make new friends,” Vanessa Verdugo said, slowly turning her legendary smile at the wide-eyes of Robur Oberon.

(with thanks to s.a.)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker: Commitment

(the following is part of an ongoing series of columns I did for The Erotica Readers & Writers Association on the ins and outs and ins and outs and ins and outs of writing good smut)

I don't believe in talent. Sure, I think some people have a touch more hardwiring in their brains that lends them to be artists, musicians, scientists, and even lowly writers but I think that having this turn of mind never guarantees being able to utilize this towards a satisfying pursuit. When someone uses that word, 'talent,' I think of something that makes a person have a kind of special dispensation, a phenomenal leg-up on everyone else. I use an analogy to explain this supposed hypocrisy: just because you're a good driver doesn't mean you'll be a great driver - and not all great drivers started out being good drivers.

Maybe it's because I think of myself as a Liberal and believe that everyone is created equal, or they at least have equal access to making themselves a better person. I don't like the idea of someone, by virtue of luck (good or bad) having an edge over anyone else. I also think the idea of talent is what a lot of people use to give up on something. They put pen to paper and when it doesn't work out perfectly the first time, they toss it to the floor, saying, "What's the point? I just don't have it."

There is one thing, though, that's true of great drivers as well as great writers: commitment. To do anything well you have to practice, you have to get up and do it even though you'd rather do anything else in the world. It's easy to hang your hopes on tales of first story sales, first book sales, and think that such events are common, expected. But the fact is they are alarmingly rare. For every one phenomenal success, there are thousands of other writers who sit in front of their machines every day and work, work, work. Sure, those flashy first timers often deserve their praise and fat checks, but they often vanish as fast they appear. Without determination and a willingness to be there for the long haul, they suffer from expecting the next project, and the next project, and the next project, to be as easy as the first. Someone who's battered and beaten their way up, however, knows that for every five stories, only one will be any good – it's part of the game.

Here's another analogy. If you go out and just circle the track, drive the same car at the same speed, over and over again you may be a better driver but you'll never be Tazio Nuvalari. Writing the same story over and over, never stretching, never trying new things, will have the same affect. Same with writing page after page after page but not taking the time (sometimes very painful times) to sit down with your work and really, honestly read what you've been writing. Determination and commitment is one thing, useless thumb twiddling is quite another.

You have to look really had at what you're doing, to look at it and face the fact that sometimes what you're going to write is going to be crap. Some stories deserve to be thrown in the trash, but what separates the casual dreamer from the person really in pursuit of their destiny, is when you can look at what you've written and say: this is crap, but I know how to make it better.

Personal confession time. Does ten years sound like a long time? Sure, it might be an eternity if you're in a prison cell sometimes, but maybe only the blink of an eye if you're a parent watching a child grow up. For me, ten years is what it took for me to become a published author. I started writing very seriously just out of high school. Ten years later I sold my first story. Though I honestly feel that selling something is not the signpost of quality for writing, this was a defining moment in my life. Ten years of trying finally yielded results.

Nine years after that I have a pretty respectable resume of projects. Sometimes I think I took too long to get where I am, but other times I think maybe it would have taken much longer – or never happened at all – if I'd never sat down and done the work; word after word, page after page, story after story. Those words, pages, or stories pushed me along part of the way, but I believe publishing success came because I tried to be better, tried to improve what I was doing, and was willing to look at what I was doing.

Saccharine sentiment notwithstanding, I really do believe dreams can come true. It can happen, but it too often requires a huge amount of difficult, time-consuming, heart breaking work.

Is it worth it? Ten years is an awfully long time, true. But when I think of the stories I've written, the fun I've had, the things I've learned about myself and the world, I would do it all again in a second.

The choice is yours. But it's better to really, truly try, then pass on regretting you never even made a first step.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Meine Kleine Fabrik: This Is Why We Are Here

Reposted from my brother and I's blog, MKF:
Meine Kleine Fabrik is about the things we've found, the stuff we cherish, the wonders that might otherwise be forgotten that we want to share with the world.

One of the greatest treasures we've always adored since it first appeared a long time ago is the following, having just recently emerged on YouTube:

Created by Tony White (interview here), Hokusai: An Animated Sketchbook is one of those things that seems to constantly sit in the back of our minds, a beautiful haunting of art, passion, humility, and creation.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Incredible World of The Amalgamted Erotica Corporation

Curiosity being, after all, the separator between intelligence and brute reflex, and because learning about what really goes on behind the scenes of a major sex-writing industry is naturally the height of anyone’s interest, you should immediately click here to be taken to an insider’s guide to the business of writing customized erotica: the Amalgamated Erotica Corporation blog.

The brilliant and vivacious Sage Vivant

As reported by the brilliant and vivacious Sage Vivant, the Amalgamated Erotica Corp blog is a fascinating examination of the personalities, politics, and general day-to-day world of the professional pornographer. Readers will be entertained and illuminated, their creative and sexual imaginations more than sated, by her reporting of the personalities and trials and tribulations of putting one skillfully crafted dirty word after another.

However, I have to report one issue with Amalgamated Erotica Corp. and Sage Vivant: while I respect her professionalism and mastery of both her literary craft and business conduct I must take exception to her rather disappointing failure to identify the impostor “M.Christian” who she has apparently hired to work for her company. While I have nothing but respect and fondness for Sage I am alarmed that she has aided this disreputable thief of my identity to further usurp by professional existence. Rest assured that my lawyers will be in contact with Amalgamated Erotica Corp. and Sage Vivant, even though I wish her and her business endeavor no ill will.

Talk, Talk, Talk ....

If you’re interested in reading an incredibly (ahem) ‘penetrating’ interview with myself – and, frankly, who wouldn’t be? Then head right over to Eroszine to learn more than you ever wanted to know via an interview with the fantastic Thomas S. Roche.

Here’s an intro taste:

If you read short erotica in book form -- gay, straight, bi, queer, trans, mixed or just about anything else -- you've read a story by M. Christian. As one of the English-speaking world's most widely-published authors of erotic fiction, he's seen his short stories in literally hundreds of anthologies. But he's also known as an author of science fiction, fantasy and horror, most recently with his gay San Francisco vampire mystery The Very Bloody Marys. Though he's straight, he writes some of the hottest and filthiest gay -- and lesbian -- erotica around, as well as telling the gay coming of age story (as in Marys) with moving inspiration, proving that the erotocreative impulse is nature's guaranteed genderfuck, a font of imaginative subversion that crosses, blurs and at times obliterates all gender and orientation lines.

As if that weren't enough, Christian, Chris to his friends, also blogs extensively and writes uproarious articles about weird history, science and the arts, exploring a list of obsessions that ranges from robots to Japanese culture to classic film to spy novels and Victorian crime fiction, publishing hundreds of articles in addition to his fiction output. If any writer out there can keep up with M. Christian, I'm betting they sport a chrome skeleton and radionuclide power source crammed up their ass.

We caught up with Chris for a long-overdue chat about writing, sex, history, death, and perversion.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Welcome to Weirdsville: When a Hoax is a Hoax

Manhattan (shown not cut in half)

Back when I used to write a variety of columns on the weird and the wonderful, like the Welcome to Weirdsville posts that have been going up here on Meine Kleine Fabrik, I came across what I thought was perfect fodder: one conman + lots of gullible people + a wild story = trying to save the island of Manhattan from sinking by sawing it free, towing it out to sea, turning it around, then putting it back. It was good. Too good, in fact, because I've since learned that the story of this hoax was ... a hoax. So, for a few laughs at my own expense, here's the original piece and a few comments but more more reliable sources about what really happened. Enjoy!


It seemed such a logical thing-after all, this was the 1800s and construction, development, and industry were everywhere. The United States was exploding like a runaway locomotive. Why, it seemed like practically everyday something new was being invented; the world was full of engineering miracles, and it was all, more than a little, frightening.

It also seemed like every day that new projects-some almost insane in their complexity-were being started. This was the era of bridges, tall, taller, and tallest buildings, transatlantic cables, and bigger and bigger steam engines.

And so it made perfect sense that a kind of mechanical Tower of Babel was lurking right around the corner-God sneering down on those damned industrial Americans and their hubris. Something, a lot of people felt, had to happen. Things were just going too well.

Then came their answer, and it was so simple-and, even better, the solution played right into the attitude of the age. The disaster was immanent, Biblical in its proportions, and the solution almost as grand. Why, those taken by the idea believed it was just too perfect: a punishment for our engineering pride, solved by our own mechanical brilliance. Irony can be so captivating.

As can insanity ... or a well-laid hoax.

Whether or not he was insane or just a mischievous craftsman of great hoaxes is a matter of conjecture. While the incident he sparked continues to amaze us to this day, the facts surrounding its mastermind are frustratingly obscure. His name, we know, was Lozier, and in New York City of the early 1800s he was known for being a persuasive, if eccentric, orator. Spouting off on all manner of subjects from his soapbox in Centre Market, Lozier was mesmerizing-to a degree, in fact, that will astonish you.

One day he spoke of something that seemed to resonate with the people of Manhattan. Lozier spoke of the new buildings that seemed to spring like brick and mortar mushrooms overnight on their tiny island-down at the Battery in particular. One day he told a rapt group of Manhattanites something he'd observed while looking down from City Hall, something that had shocked him to the very core of his being. The Battery was sloping down hill.

The situation was obvious, at least for Lozier. Luckily for the possibly doomed citizens of that great island, he had a solution as audacious as the impending disaster.

Manhattan, he said, was sinking, methodically slipping under the waves of the bay. What was needed to be done, he put forth in all his zealous brilliance, was to get a massive workforce together and systematically, precisely cut the island in half.

Once freed of its submerging half, the rest of Manhattan could then be safely towed out to sea, turned about, and then reattached to better reinforce the imperiled island.

I'll wait while you either laugh, or shake your head in amazed disgust.

Ready? That was the plan-but what separated Lozier's plan from, say, the idea of beaming up to an alien spacecraft clinging to the ass-end of the Hale-Bop comet is what happened. Yes, Lozier preached his insane, ludicrous disaster to the citizens of New York. But what's truly insane, truly ludicrous is that the fine, intelligent, cultivated citizens of the Big Apple... believed him.

Over the next few days Lozier organized a massive workforce-over 300 men signing up to help the first day, alone. Burly and eager to save their precious island, these men recruited others who then perpetuated the mad scheme/hoax. Supplies, Lozier deduced, would be needed, and so he dispatched many to various suppliers all over the island. With no money or backing, he managed to acquire bids for the construction of a headquarters, chain (for the towing), the manufacture of the massive saws, boats, and even food and necessities for his workers.

The dangerous part, he explained, would be handled by a very select cadre of men-for these masterful workers would have to be placed under the island, to help guide the massive saws. Since this required them being underwater for a considerable amount of time, Mad (or devious) Lozier held auditions for these so-important positions with a stopwatch in his hand to make sure the candidates could hold their breaths for the necessary amount of time.

Finally, it was zero hour. Finally, it was time to rally his troops and begin the actual construction and implementation of his all-important scheme. Manhattan was in danger! Manhattan could-and would-be saved. On that fateful day, several thousand showed up at the selected location, eager and willing to save their island.

But no Lozier. No sign of him anywhere. Those thousands lingers for hours, puzzled and confused. Eventually, they drifted off, back into the hurl and the burl of their constantly growing island. Insane or with just an insane sense of humor, Lozier was never seen or heard from again.

However, it is important to note, in Lozier's defense, that a recent study conducted by the US Geologic Survey calculated that the island of Manhattan is sinking at approximately the rate of a half-inch per year. Whether or not the US government has any plans to halt the submersion of this all-important trade and cultural Mecca is not known-but it's at least comforting to know that there was someone, once before, who not only foresaw this problem, but also dreamt up an elegantly simple solution.

18th Century folks (not that gullible)

But here's the truth behind the myth:

What you just read was a hoax of a hoax. Several books about journalism history have retold the above story as fact. It originated in 1835. A business partner of the man named Lozier in the story claimed Lozier had told him the story much earlier. He related the story to his son and grandson many times over. the truth finally came out in the 1870's. The entire story was made up. Despite the truth coming out, many journalism history books continued to retell the story as being true well into the 1950's. Despite being lower educated, people living in New York in the early 1800's WERE NOT that gullible!
From Wikipedia:
The sawing off of Manhattan Island is an old New York City story that is largely unverified. It describes a practical joke allegedly perpetuated in 1824 by a retired ship carpenter named Lozier. According to the story, in the 1820s a rumor began circulating among city merchants that southern Manhattan Island was sinking near the Battery due to the weight of the urban district. It was believed that by cutting the island, towing it out, rotating it 180 degrees, and putting it back in place that Manhattan would be stabilized, and that the thin part of the island could be condemned. Surprisingly the main concern was not the futility of the idea but of Long Island being in the way. Lozier finally assembled a large workforce and logistical support. At a massive groundbreaking ceremony, Lozier did not show up but hid in Brooklyn and did not return for months.
The story did not appear in any known newspapers (although the press supposedly did not report on such pranks in that era) and no records have been found to confirm the existence of the individuals involved. This has led to speculation that the incident never occurred and that the original report of the hoax was itself a hoax. The hoax was first documented in Thomas F. De Voe's 1862 volume The Market Book, and was told again in Herbert Asbury's 1934 title All Around The Town. Another condensed retelling occurs in the 1960's Reader's Digest book, Scoundrels and Scallywags. The term has taken on new meaning since the 1980's when upstate New York entered a regional economic recession that it has yet to recover from. Many upstate residents joke or believe that New York City itself is a huge drain on the state's economic resources and ever increasing income and sales tax rate over the last several decades. Some believe that New York City should be a separate and distinct district, like Washington, D.C., and rely on its own economic and tax infrastructure while allowing the rest of the state to adjust its own accordingly to try to bring back jobs and businesses.
- and be sure and check out the absolute source for telling truth from fiction: Snopes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Possible headlines include, but are not limited to: Don't Ask, Don't Tell; Be All That You Can Be, etc.

From Marketing Proofs Daily Mail:

MediaBuyerPlanner: Because gays are barred from military service if they are open about their sexual orientation, visitors to (Gays, Lesbians & Everyone Else) may have been understandably confused by the fact that there were thousands of recruiting ads for the Army, Navy and Air Force on the site.

When informed earlier this week by USA Today that they were advertising on the site, recruiters were surprised, and ordered the job listings to be removed, USA Today reports.

Maj. Michael Baptista, advertising branch chief for the Army National Guard, said the military did not knowingly advertise on the site. The Army National Guard will spend $6.5 million on internet recruiting this year.

Most of the more than 8,000 positions posted on GLEE were tough-to-fill jobs that require in-depth training. Others sought to fill combat slots.

The ads came via Community Connect, GLEE's parent company, as part of an alliance with The military services purchased Monster's so-called diversity-and-inclusion package. The Navy's account manager at Campbell-Ewald says that GLEE had been added to the package when the site launched in March, and that the agency had never been informed of the addition. "It was an internal goodwill effort on their part to give added value," she is quoted as saying.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I (Heart) Mencken

Found on the great Dispatches From The Culture Wars site:
I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind - that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.

I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious.

I believe that all government is evil, in that all government must necessarily make war upon liberty...

I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect.

I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech...

I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.

I believe in the reality of progress.

I - But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant.

- for more on H.L. Menken check out his Wikipedia page

The View From Here: The Walk

(the following is part of an ongoing 'column' I did for Suspect Thoughts, and, no, it's not supposed to make sense: only be weird fun)

Puzzled, indecisive, after much thought I came to only one conclusion, which had nothing to do with my quandary: maybe a walk would help.

Outside everything was as it should be: sun up high, earth down below, air all around, and city everywhere else.

Towards me, down the street - flip, flop, flip, flop - bare toes slapping on the warm cement, webs between cupping the descending air, popping them sideways. On his back, twin glass bottles full of bubbling fluids, sweeping around from and to his mouth via twin black plastic hoses. Closer, then passing, a gurgle and burble breathing and possibly communication, though I didn't have much to say to someone who preferred under water to over land.

What to do? What to do?

Rolling sideways across my vision, from one avenue to the other, tits and tits and breasts and breasts: a spherical boobie ball, nipples tractioning on the ground, firm As to rolling DDs flopping and slapping by. If it had eyes, I didn't see them, so I didn't know if he or she, she or he, or both, neither or more than one saw me.

I could or I couldn't. It boiled down to that. One or the other.

Slow and stately, Dandy Longlegs passed me, coming from behind, alongside, and way beyond in three steps of his slickly tuxedoed legs. Civil chap, though, as he strode by, waistcoats flapping from the action of his stride, he looked down from his heights of elegance and tipped his topper with a gentle smile.

But do I or don't I?

She saw me long before I saw her, but she she'd always seen me before I saw her. In my silly way, I named her the instant she crossed the street, a name ridiculously perfect for such a brown-eye girl. Gleaming and glistening, she took it all in with one glance from her giant bare orb, her singular huge oculus. I nodded to Iris as she passed.

Pros as well as cons swirling in my head, flipping back and forth, back and forth -

Across the way, standing on the corner, I could tell they also couldn't make up their mind. They also were weighing their choices: pro or con, left or right, but at least in the case of this enraptured couple, this two off for a walk as one, their decision wasn't as profound. After all, they already fused their bodies into four arms, four legs, two heads, dick and two breasts -- so the rest was simply a matter of which way to walk.

So which was it? Do it or not?

Fucking dickhead. Hate those guys, the ones who think just because they've a giant prick they can do what they want, when they want, to who they want. Jack-offs. Stepping into a greasy puddle of his come, oozing from the eye in the middle of his huge helmet I sneered. He responded with a stiff salute, telling me in his own special way to fuck off. Not in the mood, I kicked him in the balls, which was perfect revenge and remarkably easy as they were dragging on the ground right behind him.

It was big decision - which made it all the harder. It wasn't like I could have it undone very easily.

I couldn't help but stare. Don't see many of those nowadays. Still, I tried not to make it too obvious. Used to be hundreds of them, darkening the sky with their beautiful flights of fancy. Now, though, the only thing in the sky is the sun. I guess I wasn't as subtle as I could have been. His slim, pupil-less eyes noticed mine and his mahogany beak curled into a wistful grin. I returned it, hoping that he would know that it was okay for he, and his lovely-plumed kin, to return to dance among our clouds.

The problem was I had to make up my mind pretty quickly. That made it all the harder to decide.

Sitting on the stoop before a perfectly maintained house, whittling a whistle, tying and untying various knots, playing with a yo-yo, flipping a coin, shuffling cards, twirling a ring of keys, juggling some rubber balls, scratching himself, crackling various sets of knuckles, and many more things with many more hands my first and only thought walking by was: Handy.

No more dithering, no more hemming, hawing, or dawdling. Time to decide -- so I did.

I'd get the nose job.