Dec 12, 2014

Gallery (23) (Sadao Hasegawa)

Sadao Hasegawa (1996)

(We discovered Sadao Hasegawa today; it's an incredibly intense Japanese artist, who committed suicide in 1999)

(More art on the Gallery Page)

Dec 10, 2014

Sex with minors --- This is heaven (teaser)

Predictably, John was caught in flagrante again. This time it's more serious though, since the flagrantist is a certain Detective-Inspector LaStrada

The police station of Georgia Beach sports two jail cells off the main office. It’s old-fashioned, homely almost, the space, cell walls from a film noir with vertical iron bars all around to which jail birds can cling in silent desperation.

They’ve separated me and Taylor in a transparent attempt to prevent more lewd interaction between John Lee, age 29, sex-male, race-Caucasian (I had to provide my personal details yet again, the third time inside a week), and Taylor Stanford Hart, sex-male, race-Caucasian, age-perhaps-illegal---Taylor had failed to convince them of his 18th birthday, he doesn’t look the birthday boy at all. Your Social Security Number? That would be 067-70-9756. Say that again: “067-07-9765.” It won’t take it. The computer. The number. Sorry. “You have no driver’s license?” Yes, he does, but left it in his bag on the camping ground. Sorry.

Hideki Koh

I’m alone in Cell No.1, Taylor is with Ray in Cell No.2. Ray couldn’t possibly follow the conversation about “carnal knowledge” going on in the main office, a topic to which Taylor and I contributed very little---letting LaStrada dictate his observations to a desk officer positioned behind an unwilling computer near the goldfish bowl---us not questioning whether Mr. Lee’s “hold” on Mr. Hart’s “member” was intentional or perhaps the result of unfortunate mistakes due to the substandard illumination inside Roper's caravan---except that Mr. Hart, at a critical juncture, namely when LaStrada had run out of things to say about “members” and appeared poised to move the focus to the transgressive part of the arrestees malfeasance (the yellow crime tape, the perimeter violation)---that Mr. Hart, whose mother runs a Baltimore law firm (we will learn soon)---that Taylor asked several nerdy questions about the goldfish in its bowl, questions which engaged the desk officer in lengthy answers, so lengthily that LaStrada’s cell began to ring and the detective was called away. I lost my train of thought. Yes, Ray could not have followed the conversation, but he’s sensitive, very sensitive, and now he’s gazing expectantly at his cell mate.

Dec 8, 2014

Arresting Justin Bieber --- Write a novel see the world (1)

(Update: and while we are at it, here's Justin's lastest picture:)

Anything more we have to say about Justin, a fragment perhaps? We mention him once in the Green Eyes, but in our first novel, Freedom Fries, he gets a serious literary treatment. Here it is:

Context: Pamela Woods, the Dean of Berkeley Law school is busy conspiring against one of her faculty member, John Yoo, the author of the Bush-era torture memos. And Justin Bieber jr? That's her vice dean. And---spoiler alert---the scene is set on the day of Justin Bieber's breakthrough: 

  She collects the secret phone---Zack could call any minute now---hides it in her bag, and leaves the office. She will take up position in the lobby, where she will play the Populist Dean. The populist dean is expected of her anyhow, occasionally, and her performance is not without merit (despite mixed reviews), especially on Friday afternoons when people want to go home early, an inclination she applauds with one hand and dismisses with the other. Anyhow, there she stands, expansive as always (not always, only since twenty years), dispensing kisses, Hi’s, compliments (“you look great”), compliments (“you look great”), feedback (“we missed you at the budget meeting, where were you”), more compliments (“where did you get that tan?”), as her academic subjects are drifting toward TGI weekend.

Berkeley Law School, west side

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, Pamela is waiting for Yoo to go home to his wife and two children, his wife the estranged daughter of the Pulitzer prize winning face of the first gulf war, Peter Arnett, his children the estranged grandchildren of the Pulitzer prize winning face of the first gulf war, at least, that’s how she assumes Yoo’s family works. But perhaps she is wrong, Arnett looms large in her own life since it had been him, the CNN correspondent in Baghdad, who had watched over her final fall from svelteness during one month of uninterrupted couch attendance in the run-up to the war. Tragically, she was on sabbatical leave at that time; planning to write another law book, she had turned down visiting appointments elsewhere and was stuck in front of the TV with an excessive supply of macaroons and productive procrastination. She had gained twenty additional pounds when the war was over, twenty pounds that had tipped the balance of her life.

Parking garage of Berkeley Law

She has already sent six faculty, twelve students, and three staff into the weekend when Vice Dean Bieber descends the stairs. A small, middle-aged man of nondescript appearance, Justin Bieber Jr. is the son of Justin Bieber Sr. and the father of Justin Bieber III. She opens her arms wide---he is scared of big women and will keep a certain distance. “How’s going,” she cheers, “haven’t seen you in fifteen minutes.”
“Great, Pamela, great going,” Bieber replies, “I’ve just taken a few minutes off my vice-deanly obligations to check on my blog.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t have a chance to catch up with your blog recently, but I promise.”

Dec 5, 2014

Writers (Cathy Ulrich)

I've never understood why some writers write stories about writers because if we're really that interesting, why are we going around making up stories all the time?

"And then I picked up my quill pen and began to write this phrase: 'And then I picked up my quill pen...'."
"And then I picked up my quill pen and began to write this phrase: 'And then I picked up my quill pen...'."

(reblogged from Cathy's blog Hollywood Hates Me)

"We don't age, you've forgotten?" ---- This is heaven (teaser)

We're on the Surfside Field, the festival ground, John is trying to sell Godehart's lederhosen, and Taylor and his pal, Tex, appear out of the blue. Taylor, yes, the guy from yesterday's intermezzo in the shower of the green room, we haven't forgotten. 

Tex's last words were (I have to quote them at length to get the context right):

 “I understand Count Dracula and his folks,” Tex is saying, “they were mean-spirited and banking blood wasn’t on the agenda then, surely they had to feed on humans, but the Cullens of Twilight, Doctor Carlisle is a medical doctor, and they’re so preppy and above the fray and in favor of gun control, I’m sure, I’m sure they’re liberals, all of them, why don’t they just purchase blood? Why this hunting of deer in the rainy forest of the Puget sound?”

“You don’t get it.”

“And you should look at the deer, these cute bambies grazing on succulent ferns growing for the occasion between the redwood trees. And then there’s a sense of impending danger because the director of photography won’t hold still, bambi’s eye blinking at us, a cry for help that goes unanswered because we’re strapped to the comfort chairs of this multiplex, popcorn cups in hand. And now she’s off, bambi, running for her life, bambi, and Dr. Carlisle is chasing her, although you can’t really see him chasing her, what you see is a vortex of black substance chasing bambi, but it is Carlisle, to be sure, it’s him or Emmet or Rosalie or Esme or somebody else of his clan.”

(So, here goes:)

“You don’t get it.”
“No, exactly, I don’t get it,” Tex says.
“It’s easy,” Taylor answers.
“No, it’s not.”
“Well, the question has been asked before.”
Taylor’s looking for help, we make eye contact. I’d normally take the side of Tex in this, but I misbehaved so much yesterday, I have to make it up to Taylor now.
“Look it up on the internet,” I say to Tex.
“What?” Tex asks.
“About the blood,” Taylor adds. Tex swipes his cell.

Dec 2, 2014

The Golden Century --- Connubial bliss

Prologue. The Golden Century is an all-you-can-eat oriental restaurant located right next to the landing strip of the Cannes-Mandelieu airfield. If there's any magic to proximity, and if there's any proximity to Hollywood, it’s here. From Brad Pitt to George Clooney to Benedict Cumberbatch, they’ve all been dozens of time inside a two hundred yard circle centered upon the main buffet of the Golden Century. This is the spot where private-jet celebrities touch down on their way to the Festival de Cannes.

The main buffet of the Golden Century

Act I. I had been there once, by sheer coincidence, a few minutes before the place opened for the first time at 7 PM on a nondescript weekday. The doors were already unlocked, I entered unsuspectingly. The place was empty, except for a few nervous waiters and an interior design so intense in its lacquered combination of Formica wood and red lanterns that I fainted.

Nov 27, 2014

“I can almost write like Mr. Johann Sebastian Bach” --- seven things we knew about Ernest Hemingway

The New Yorker sends a link to an article by Lillian Ross about Ernest Hemingway (H.), published in 1950.

We’re curious, we don’t know much about H., having read him when everybody else read him, The Old Man and the Sea in our case, in a German translation. We’ve been to Key West, FL, where everything is H., and got fed up with Sloppy Joe, his watering hole there, so decided to get drunk somewhere else (we’re possibly not the first to mention tourism and locust in the same sentence).

So, what we knew about him was

(0) writer of short sentences, user of simple language, herald of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain’s novel), in-quote: “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.”
(1) macho,
(2) Nobel Prize,
(3) lookalike contests,
(4) big game hunting,
(5) drink,
(6) serial husband, perhaps something of a womanizer.

Who messed up Thanksgiving (Sacha)

Nov 24, 2014

Palais de Justice

We're in litigation with our wayward bank and today we'll finally have our day in court, in Grasse, Alpes-Maritimes, way station on Napoleon's Route Napoleon during the "100 days" that ended in Waterloo. Grasse is the world capital of fragrances and the locale of Patrick Süskind's The Perfume, the story of a hypersensitive nose attached to Ben Whishaw who needs the bodily fluids of 12 virgins to complete his mission as the greatest perfume-maker of all time. Grasse is also the seat of The Tribunal de Grande Instance, our court.

Grasse is set on the flanks of the Alpes and built around hair needle turns devoid of any spacial logic, so you're sure to lose your way, especially when you're told by your lawyer that the directions are "bien indiquées," meaning that you're directed off the main road long before you reach the town, arrows pointing this way and that way until they stop pointing and you're on your own in the middle of a Mediterranean jungle of gas stations, low-grow brush ("Marais"), utilities, perfume makers, quarries, and the urgent need to pass water since (you got up too early and drank coffee too much).[1]

Nov 19, 2014

Quantitative metaphysics --- Scribble, scribble, scribble, Mr. Ampersant (4)

Professor Barbette Beinepensant

We knew beforehand that This Is Heaven wouldn't be a picnic, because marketing has replaced logic at all levels.the earth world Yes, that's what This Is Heaven (the sequel to the Green Eyes) is all about.relivings It's about bullshit, or, more precisely, about the substitution of bullshit for other residues of meaning left on this planet.subchannel John with his addiction to Alex, Alex with his humongous dick, Godehart with his crotch shorts?guardians  It's all very well, we're not lying on anything, but it's just a ploy to keep your attention span spun while we are milking Professor Barbette Bienpensant and her Armageddon-nonsense, or taking cheap digs at vampire crazes, or the Wall Street Journal, or FOX news, or...

Nov 9, 2014

Lord Byron, Bill Clinton, etc --- Venice (4)

It's been a year since we've been in Venice, and now we've hit upon this beautiful picture by Hannes Steinert, depicting, you know of course ...

Spot the anachronism

... depicting the Lido of Venice. All this while we are excerpting a biography about Lord Byron providing deeper insight into his sex life, including his life in Venice (spoiler alert: self-serving ellipsis ahead)---Byron will feature in the second part of our episodic novella "The Grand Tour"---John and Alex from the Green Eyes finally marry and are off to Europe where they end up at the feet of the Fountain of Geneva whose story they learn from Richard Zugabe, librarian of the Geneva City Archives and owner of an apartment in the Villa Diodati nearby. Right, that's the first chapter of "The Grand Tour" which segues into a tryst at Zugabe's place and evokes the narrative material about Byron who had rented the villa in 1816 & who looked EXACTLY like Bill Clinton & who had apparently left a cache of manuscripts behind the wood paneling of his bedroom---for Richard Zugabe to discover.

The young Bill Clinton---sorry, just kidding, "George Gordon, 6th Lord of Byron," William Edward West, (1822)

Pedro Palanca's anniversary

It would be Pedro's 46th anniversary today. He was one of the greatest---the sheer vitality of his pictures, coupled with an unique sense of humor. And the sex, of course. Pedro, we won't forget you!

Nov 5, 2014

Locker room politics (Tryg Verran) (reblogged)

A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procul Harum was the world n°1 song in 1967 (scroll down for the UTube clip (but not yet)).  Along those lines, this piece by Tryg Verran, here reblogged, is a Paler Shade of Dark, but it's not what you think, despite the misleading, circulation-seeking pictures (which are entirely our fault). Give it a try:

"Peeking man," Pedro Palanca

One of the perks of doing post graduate research here at Birkbeck university is that I have been able to join the University union gym in Bloomsbury. Not only is it a great central exercise space with an Olympic size pool, but it's packed with fresh-faced, lovely students; just to make this absolutely clear,

"Locker room," Paul Cadmus


True, time spent in the locker room getting changed with the UCL swimming team hasn't escaped my Gaydar, but there is something about listening to their banter that polarizes me. I'm not exactly sure why all of this seems so alien, is it because I'm older? Perhaps it's because I am no longer a full time resident of London? Maybe I am being a little insecure? Whatever the reason, as I eavesdrop their conversations I gleam little comfort from their glistening presence and I am conscious of a division.

Nov 2, 2014

Monday matinée (Glenn)

Buy it, use it, break it, fix it,
Trash it, change it, mail – upgrade it,
Charge it, point it, zoom it, press it,
Snap it, work it, quick – erase it,
Write it, cut it, paste it, save it,
Load it, check it, quick – rewrite it,
Plug it, play it, burn it, rip it,
Drag and drop it, zip – unzip it,
Lock it, fill it, call it, find it,
View it, code it, jam – unlock it,
Surf it, scroll it, pause it, click it,
Cross it, crack it, switch – update it,
Name it, rate it, tune it, print it,
Scan it, send it, fax – rename it,
Touch it, bring it, pay it, watch it.

German for beginners

(Hat tip: Sina DunkleWelle)
The translation yes...well, "Kondome" means Condoms, "Barcode" is barcode, "Tattoo" is actually not German, ("Tätowierung"), "Kasse" is checkout, "witzig" is funny, "ich hasse" means I hate...that should do it...

Nov 1, 2014

Don't kill me, don't kill me

Artwork on an internet-posted suicide note

Gallia divisa est in partes tres. Along those lines, there are two types of content moderation. Active moderation monitors each post on a social network; reactive moderation lets things float until somebody complains. Content moderation is important, we learn from an article on Wired, not only because we are prudish, but also because we don't wanna lose our grannies or other objectionists (spelling checker objects)---folks who are not going to share their cat-and-dog pictures or their grandchildren's likenesses amidst adult parts and other shockingness. 

More than hundred thousand people are monitoring content worldwide, twice as many as are working for Google. Most of them are based in the Philippines because wages are lower there, and because the locals have a sense for American sensibilities (don't ask).

We (I mean us, Michael Ampersant and his alter egos) have been subject to content moderation two or three times on Facebook, last time with this picture...

(no, wait)

...which was taken down after a few minutes with a stern warning from the Philippines; we got blocked from posting anything for three days. Right, so we've been moderated twice exactly; the first time we've got blocked for one day only. Do the math (catchword "series"), it's frightening if you are one of these people always itching to push the envelope. 

Over-sexed as we are we think about only one thing, but porn appears to be the least of the social network's concerns---it's fairly harmless, especially for the souls of content moderators. Gore is worse, not to mention ISIS clips with beheadings of nosy journalists, or suicide notes, or clips of pet torture. And there's apparently lots of that stuff going on. The average content moderator is given only a few seconds on her Stachanovist clock for each picture. That may be a lot for the active moderators who have to check all those pictures of cats and dogs and birthday cakes, but very little when we talk reactive moderation.

&-t back of the envelope: Assume that half of the moderators do reactive stuff, and that each works 40 hours a week, and each has 10 seconds per flagged post, dum dum dum, we get 144 million flagged pictures per day, except for the weekends when the moderators are off.

What else? Lets keep it short and Socratic. O reader, we ask, would you moderate this picture that we've been dying to post for quite some time:    

(This is the picture that Facebook took down after a few minutes)