Apr 28, 2016

Guess who...

Lucifer in the flesh --- that's how John Boehner, former Speaker of the American House of Representatives, a staunch Republican, called him during an event at Stanford University yesterday.

And Boehner continued: I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.

Apr 25, 2016

Applause, applause: Piotr Urbaniak and the GREEN EYES

The first chapter of the Green Eyes, the chapter Michael didn't dare to include in his book because he feared it would "discomfort or even harm" some readers, will now appear in the German yearbook Mein Schwules Auge---the Germans supposedly being a hardier race when it comes to graphic sex. 

Anyhow: Piotr Urbaniak, the eponymous Polish-German artist, has just released eight illustrations to this chapter, and here is one of them: 

Beautiful, isn't it? Stay tuned!

Fragment, fragment? Okay:

A shadow enters my periphery of vision. Anybody who cares? Yes, a lank, blond, crew-cut guy. Perhaps he’s heard my screams and got interested. He’s shocked. No, he isn’t, he’s just curious. A tumescence builds in his trunks and develops its own life, the penis shaft seeking the path of lowest resistance. It’s pushing upward and outward like a trapped rodent until a solid erection has created an obscene-looking bulge. Crew-cut appears somewhat out-plussed by his private parts, he’s waiting until the erection is complete and then sheds his trunks. He has experience. His dick means serious business...   

Apr 22, 2016

Find a caption

Well, us regulars would expect this to be a cloud of debris pushed out by an exploding supernova. But, no-no, this bubble was/is generated by the solar wind of a still-regular star at its center (only ten times the size of our own sun), and the whole thing is known as NGC 7635, what else. It's (only) 8,000 light years away:

Apr 2, 2016

And...yet another GREEN EYES review:

Grab it, and plan to read it cover to cover immediately!, April 1, 2016

By Winthrop Smith

Verified Purchase(What's this?)

This review is from: Green Eyes: an erotic novel (sort-of) (Kindle Edition)

I won't retell the plot, which earlier readers have already done so well, or introduce the characters. You know them: they are the gay men, and gay women you either have as friends, or wish you did. Fully articulated, never cardboard, caught up in a plot which the reader can't wait to follow to its conclusion. The hook of the writing immediately pulls the reader into the story, but the author brilliantly throws cultural references, quotations, Manhunt, sex, (hot, twenty-something, go for it, from the back, front, side, doggy style, grunting, panting...you get the idea) into the mix, not from a marketing suggestion, but, as with the entire book, because it is how life is lived. The reader smiles, laughs, leaks without being able to pause, unless the characters are taking a nap, or eating a meal themselves. If you loved Tales Of the City, you will love 'Green Eyes.'

Night Owl Reviews

Mar 29, 2016

A new GREEN EYES review

A new review of the Green Eyes is out, on GAY GUY READING, and it is FIVE STARS, yes, but that's not the appropriate way to label it. Here are two paragraphs:

"Wow! That was first reaction to reading this book, my second reaction was plain and simple holy shit! It is hard to find words to describe this book and make it justice because THIS BOOK IS HONESTLY LIKE NOTHING I'VE EVER READ BEFORE."


"Green Eyes isn’t the light Sunday read it is the type of book you can read over and over again in time and discover new things each time. It is dark humor mixed with seriousness. IT HAS A COMPLEXITY TO IT THAT I DON'T THINK I EVER EXPERIENCED FROM AN AUTHOR OF TODAY!"

And here are a few more paragraphs:

"The language is very different, because you are right there inside John Lee’s mind every step of the way, and even though you are there quite a lot learning about John and his speculations about people, what is going on and why it is written in a way that it appears like an inner monologue and conversation. Which is quite impressive.

"In the beginning of the book you get the impression that the book is about a gay man slightly bit of a loner at the same time as he might be a tad depressed, odd ball who feels awkward around people and simply don’t get them. The longer and more you read and the more people John meet, and by the end there are quite a few people involved in this book, it more and more becomes a crime story with thriller feel. John is awkward, and I love him awkward.

"This book isn’t a book for the one who wants an easy read, this book took me quite some time to read and I had to read it in portions and read other things in between so I could ponder and think. This is a very different type of book, a book that has a lot of depth to it, touches about many different subjects---such as right and wrong in different aspect of life, what is love, depression, rape, abuse of power, sex, self-discovery and so on and so forth."

This is us, folks, us, the GREEN EYES! We are so happy!

Night Owl Reviews

Mar 27, 2016

A brief note on self-publishing

"I'm not a tourist!"

The self-publishing trend is usually linked to the internet. Along various causal chains, the internet is supposed to facilitate self-publishing, while simultaneously complicating the life of traditional publishing venues.

Yes, sure.

But when you walk through the ultimate tourist trap of Mougin, that historic town north of Cannes, you discover that the self-trend is more pervasive. At least, it includes visual art as well, at least in Mougin it does, even though the internet cannot be the culprit.

Rue du Docteur Buissard, Mougin

A few years ago, Mougin, like every tourist trap---and in particular the ones in Southern France---was packed with galleries of tourist-trap art: garish colors, palette-knife work (faster), sunsets, harlequins, clowns, harlequins, sailing boats, aggressively abstract (faster), Picasso imitations, and so on. That hasn't changed, the galleries are still there, but, in the meantime, in the space of a few years, whole colonies of live artists have entered the mix, exhibiting their own work in one-man/woman shops, outnumbering the galleries 10 to 1. Ten times as many garish colors, sunsets, clowns, aggressively-abstract, Picasso-style, the vieux village of Mougin has turned into an artist colony, literally.

Food for thought. Think this through: the internet cannot have anything to do with this...

Mar 26, 2016

Come to think of it

Chang drags us to Mougin, north of Cannes, where Picasso lived (and developed a major depression), and at the entrance to the main downtown (more correctly: uphill) section of the vieux village they've installed this statue:

"I am the Trojan Horse of contemporary art,"---it says.

Fragment, fragment...we were returning from Nice, from the quartier Ariane, where we did a little research for Michael's latest short story, fragment...(and true-true, except that Michael doesn't take the guy to Grasse)...fragment:

The story starts at Le Trayas Station. I live in Le Trayas, on the French Riviera, a settlement of 200 houses perched on the foothills of the Estérel range between Cannes and St. Raphael on the Mediterranean. Each morning I go for a walk, always the same, climbing down the hill, unlocking a pedestrian gate with code C 638 A, turning right on the Rue Charles Hechter (family of the French designer, rumor has it), walking past a gazeebo-style belvedère above the tracks littered with abandoned prophylactics, one more turn, and the view unfolds onto the western Cote d’Or, the train station smack in the middle and a white villa further down, pied-dans-l’eau, once belonging to Greta Garbo, rumor has it (everything is rumor here and they are always false). If God---who doesn’t exist---we have proof now---if God would exist---and if he were to create a Train Station with a View, it would be this one.

Although it has its own web site, the station doesn’t do much. Six local trains stop by per day, each delivering one passenger. The main structure is abandoned, including the ticket booth. An auxiliary building is also abandoned, and the outdoor restroom is occupied by an Arab, Muhammed.

Muhammed and I have a difficult relationship. We were on greeting terms initially, but I snubbed his various attempts to relate---I’m not peddling excuses but I could never get over the fact that somebody is living in a restroom---so he stopped addressing me and now averts his eyes. The situation is so awkward, I’m no longer making it all the way down to the station but turn around before I reach the level crossing at the tracks, where I would be in full view of this restroom and its occupant. 

Le Trayas Station

This particular morning, a train had just arrived, and the one passenger coming up the road was a young man, perhaps eighteen years old. He was apparently lost. Batting his eye lashes he asked whether he could ask a question, and then asked how he could get to Grasse---that’s an old town to the north of Cannes, seat of the vice-prefecture of the Alpes-Maritimes and self-appointed World Capital of Fragrances. He would have to take an exam there, at 10 o’clock. Where he could find a bus station, perhaps. 

I shook my head. You have fifty minutes left, I said with a look at my watch. Getting to the bus station would take fifteen minutes, the bus is once per hour, you’d have to change buses, and so on. There’s no train for the next five hours. “How did you end up here?” I asked. He replied with a sheepish grin. 

I had a better look at him. He was pretty---regular features, good profile, full lips, deep, brown eyes, thick, tousled hair, and a sleepy seductiveness that was apparently irresistible.  

“Okay,” I said, “I’ll take you to Grasse.”

“Would you do that for me?” he replied. 

It's downhill from here, since this guy, it turns our, has a terrorist brother...

Mar 25, 2016

Unthinkable without Donald Trump

Donald Trump vs. Tristan Verran

We may have an idea where Donald Trump started. But we have no idea yet where it ends, where he and his ramifications will pan out and ebb away. Here, folks, from a post of one of our regular contributors, he's confronted with this woman, this would be unthinkable without THE DONALD...we quote (Tristan Verran speaking):

I think the word 'pretentious' has come to mean, 'I don't understand this, so I am going to try and mock it'. Take last night for example, I was having dinner with a gay pal and his best girlfriend who is from England. She demonstrated all of the usual camp affectations of a typically dull 'ex-pat wife'. I observed her as she posed in her rather unimaginative 'LBD', styled on the ENDLESS derivatives of the work of Coco Chanel, and I couldn't make out why she was being so offensive to me. She belittled my work ("teaching is SoooOOOOOOOOoo pointless these days", "why would ANYONE bother writing, it's so pretentious", "who cares about literature, it's so pretentious!"), then stated that, "art is just a load of pretentious bullshit!" I asked her what she meant by the term 'pretentious' and she replied, "it means people pretending to be something they're not." I thought about this, because I don't like to be bitchy, and I pointed out that even though she wore designer clothes; she could not hide the fact she's just another clueless idiot who spent her formative years getting felt up by the boys from the local estate before bagging a wallet in the city...

Mar 9, 2016

GREEN EYES is Lambda Literary Award Finalist

It's like the Oscars, only less so. You get nominated in a specific category (ours was Gay Erotic Fiction), and there's a red-carpet award ceremony, held in New York City this year, on June 6, when the winners of each category are announced and fêted.

Night Owl Reviews

Here's a bit more about this year's awards:

The 28th Annual Lambda Literary Awards - or the "Lammys," as they are affectionately known - kick off another record-breaking year with today's announcement of the finalists. They were chosen from a record 933 submissions (up from 818 last year) from 321 publishers. Submissions came from major mainstream publishers and from independent presses, from both long-established and new LGBT publishers, as well as from emerging publish-on-demand technologies. Pioneer and Trustee Award honorees, the master of ceremonies, and presenters will be announced in April. The winners will be announced at a gala ceremony on Monday evening, June 6, 2016 in New York City.
"The Lambda Literary Awards were founded in 1989 to elevate the profile of LGBT literature," said Lambda Literary Board President, KG MacGregor. "In so doing, we also elevate the lives of those who find themselves authentically portrayed in our stories. It is with great pride that we come together each year to celebrate the excellent works of inspiring authors who have walked in our shoes."

The venue: Skirball Center, New York University

Now in their twenty-eighth year, the Lambda Literary Awards celebrate achievement in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) writing for books published in 2015. The awards ceremony on June 6, 2016, will be held at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. The red carpet and specially ticketed VIP Cocktail Reception will be held before the ceremony. The after-party, open to all with a general admission ticket, will follow at Le Poisson Rouge. For more information and to buy tickets, please visit www.lambdaliterary.org/awards.

The finalist

Feb 27, 2016

Connubial bliss

Chang and our new car.

The loss of Isolde, our ML SUV (she passed away in a typical death-choked scramble) is a real bummer, we got quite some literary mileage out of her.

She was 14 years old.

Here's a pertaining fragment from the GREEN EYES (context is a bit complicated, bear with us): John (the cum-squirrel) and Alex showed up belatedly (and smelling of/stained with cum) for the appointment with assistant DA Trevor Howard. Dr. Alice Sandeman, otherwise Alex's confidante, who arranged the meeting, got extremely upset, and the sit-down didn't go well. Howard has now left, and the Dr.s phone rings---a gallery in NY NY needs more of deceased Eleanor's art work---Eleanor, former lover of Sandeman, and inlaw of the Richard Wagner family (the composer). OK, here's more or less the entire chapter, Isolde will show up at some point, enjoy:

With an inquisitive look at Maurice, Alice gets up as well. She’s about to explode, explode at us, who have blown it, “completely.” We’re little boys who can’t hold their cum when the situation requires grown-up behavior. We’ve besmirched the hospital, and the medical profession, and ourselves, literally. And since she’s a medical doctor, she is going into details, and wants to know how many spermatozoa we’ve killed needlessly with our---she’ll have to look this up in a thesaurus, it’s not that she’s shy, she’s just too upset to find the right word---with our irresponsible behavior. “You thought you were sexy, right,” she says, “you were just feckless, harebrained, immature, undependable, untrustworthy, inexcusably, both of you,” and she means Alex in particular since she has given up on the cum-squirrel anyhow.

Feb 6, 2016

Green Eyes review

Another great review of the GREEN EYES. This one's by Kate Hardy, the renowned author:

Kate Hardy
Michael's writing is elegant and very funny with moments of great pathos. I felt I got to know the main character well and appreciated him as a (faulted, and aren't we all) human. The style of the book is definitely unusual, and certainly would not appeal to all readers. The plot rambles wildly and I found myself reading a chapter or two and enjoying the language and humour - almost as if I was reading a collection of poems or short stories. I wasn't gripped in that I didn't find excuses to go and read when I should have been doing other things, as I might have done with some books where the plot grabs you by the neck and hauls you along, and there is nothing wrong with that. I think perhaps these days we are all too used to pages that deliver a rampaging plot; this is to be savoured and remembered. A favourite line (and there are many great ones): An all-pervasive touch embalms me and goes on vacation with me and for long walks on the beach as I am trying to stay awake.

Jan 24, 2016

(Yes, we possibly should say more about the movie---for the time being then---this picture was taken in Aix-en-Provence, by the way)

Jan 6, 2016

Shoot-the-messenger and other things North-Korean (reposted)

People are inquiring about this post, stirred by North Korea's supposedly thermo-nuclear test yesterday. The post was written in March 2013 while Michael was staying in South Korea. Here it is:

How about the situation? In Korea? Now? Aren't your scared? Don't you think they are going to throw their nukes? They know this would be the end of it, wouldn't they, a full-fledged war would trigger a violent American reaction that would certainly bring down a regime unable to feed its own people properly? They aren't crazy, or are they? Kim Jong Un, the new "leader," has studied in Switzerland, he has seen the world, he knows, right? They know, don't they, they know! At least he does!

Note the map of the US on the wall

Relax. Lean back. (Just back from the Korean dentist). Lean back.

My father was so lazy, he did not actually swim when dipping into the North Sea during our summer holidays. Instead, he did a "dead man," filling his lungs with extra air and staying afloat motionless in the water like a buoy. Along those lines, let's do an dead man and tell a story from 10 years ago when I last heard from Michel Kortczek. Michel had specialized in China, and then North Korea, and had published a beautiful essay on North Korea and its ideology on the internet. The page has disappeared in the meantime, but what I recall of his essay spoke of a regime quite unlike any other on earth, a regime completely in the thrall of  magic, superstition, and delusion.

Dec 26, 2015

Feed the hungry Facebook beast

Christmas dinner. Left to right: Bill, Leo, Jenni, Stefan, Stefan's girl friend, Michael, Uwe's girl friend, Uwe (Chang is taking the picture)

And your habitual "fragment," Michael, how about a "fragment" ? Right, Michael is working on a new, longer version of the Rilke-ghost story. Michael and Chang have met the ghost already in Duino---apparently provoking his appearance by means of a Google translation of one of his poems---and now they are summering in Bürchen, and Rilke is buried nearby. Fragment:

Years later. We’re now summering in Bürchen, Valais, Switzerland, in the chalet of a friend, our own house is rented to holiday makers, as usual. Bürchen is great, 1,600 meters up on the Alp, and so much cooler than the muggy summer-Riviera. There is only one minor problem: Rainer Maria is buried nearby, yes, Rilke, in Raron, a small, historical town right beneath Bürchen down in the valley, barely three klicks as the crow flies. We’ve avoided Raron so far, but Chang is playing the social networks and has to feed the hungry Facebook beast. His Korean followers can’t get enough pictures of snow-topped mountains and timber-studded Swiss chalets, and the 24 hour news-cycle dictates daily posting. We’ve ravaged the entire countryside already---natives of many cultures believe that you steal their picture when you take their photo---along those lines we’ve grabbed photons until nothing seems to be left of the Valais save Raron. 

“Do you believe in ghosts?” Chang asks. Of course we don’t. And it’s a sunny, wonderful day, and Rilke is interred in a vault on the southern side of the Burgkirche, which itself is built on a rock hundred meters above the floor of the valley. The views would be fantastic, and a light breeze would play with the pages of the tourist guide that tells about the local Rilke-wine and the XII-century town hall next to the church. A Rilke Pfad leads up there. Half-way there’s a bench. “Remember the bench?” Michael asks. We sit down. And now Michael has a really bad idea. He googles for “Rilke translations,” and the first entry connects to a learned, well-written article by a certain Majorie Perloff

“Wer, wenn ich schriee, hört mich denn aus der Engel Ordnungen”…wasn’t that the first line? “Here,” I say to Chang, “there you have it, various ways to do this, ‘Who, if I cried, would hear me among the angelic orders,’ or ‘Who, if I cried out, would heed me amid the host of Angels’...”. Chang, predictably, is not really interested, but you see it coming. “Oohh,” the wailing begins, “ohhoohoo.” Talking about hubris.

Dec 23, 2015

We've interrupted our broadcast...

...to pen a longer version of Rilke's Ghost, and this is the first thing we found:

(Note that Postmodernism is also banned)

Dec 18, 2015

Did you know?

Cool, folks, cool. Michael's latest project, a short, sweet novella is out on Amazon:

Michael Ampersant
Click and enjoy

...Martin and James have this really interesting conversation going on, on the Facebook video channel. It looks at first as if James just wants to talk dirty, but then Martin discovers that his interlocutor has a cute boyfriend who needs some more excitement in his life...a short novella, sweet and edgy...

...sweet and edgy...

Dec 17, 2015

France still exists (2)

So we went on another excursion because Chang can no longer handle Michael's self-centered talk about yet another book project. Here's the result (Aix en Provence). The picture is a comment on Jean Cocteau's characterization of the city as un aveugle qui croit qu'il pleut (a blind person who thinks it rains), intended as a reminder of Aix's abundance of fountains. 

And here's another fragment from "The Senator and I." Alice, the narrator, has been adopted by this bizarre household, and now she's meeting the natural children of the household for the first time:

There is something about forms, or conventions. I had been declared a “member” of the “household,” I had been fitted with “The Ring,”—and so I was seated at the lord-of-the-manor table, served French fare, and exposed to the physical proximity of complete strangers who were my family but not really good at small talk. Still, I was on a high after my first ocean experience, and the food was good, and I dared to tell unasked about the freak wave, and my seeing a real-life ocean for the first time, and even about my feelings, how elated I had been, and still was, how happy. Occasionally they frowned their brows, and when they did, Xato corrected my pronunciation. Of course, we weren’t from the same location (spoiler alert: we weren’t even from the same continent). I did speak English, it felt like my mother tongue, and I somehow knew theirs, their accent, but they didn’t know mine [Indian accent]. Eventually they stopped listening, and I fell silent. They munched on their fries. The Cointreau glass had been full, empty, full, empty. It was half-empty when Lydia raised her voice a bit and suggested that I should join Hollie and Era in their exploits after lunch. That wasn’t well-received, though, because the kids wouldn’t go back skiing, the snow sucked, and there wouldn’t be a spare pair of skis for the girl anyhow (Erasmus didn’t remember my name, apparently), not of the new XXX-skis that you would need for this mess up there.

Whether they had seen traces, Lydia asked. No, the boy said. Yes, Hollie corrected him, there had been traces, very clear ones, better than last time, in the snow, of the three giants. Footprints. “Giants?” I asked. Yes, the giants that live up there, well, perhaps you don’t know (poor foster-child), the snow giants, enormous prints, three toes per indentation, in the snow, but the snow sucked.

We were in the future and I didn’t even know the season. Hollywood---that would be California, wouldn’t it, where they have eternal spring. “It’s spring,” I said, half-asking. No reply. “Does anybody know which year it is?” I asked, but was misunderstood, except by Xato perhaps, who whispered: “Three-hundred twenty.” Three-hundred twenty didn’t ring a bell at all.

The Lady’s glass was still empty, the MAs stood to attention like matchstick men in a high-school play, the frightful horses were relieving themselves one more time, nothing made sense, why should I  still make sense. So, I said: “No, I mean it, I must be in the future.”
“No, you are not,” somebody said. The Lady herself had spoken with her raspy voice, to me. It was a momentous event, judging by the body language of everybody else. Erasmus whistled.
“How do you know,” I asked.
“The Senator will explain,” she said and let her shoulders slump a bit further.
“The Senator will explain,” Xato echoed/whispered into my ear. The case was closed. We went silent. In the meantime we were having desert (I could have had a “crème de something” but ordered plum pie), and coffee (all this without the participation of The Lady or Lydia), and now we were waiting. The Cointreau glass was still empty. Nobody was working an iThing, or any other hand-held device. Hollie stole a studious regard at her mother. How would this end? Well, she slumped off her chair, is how it ended, or almost, since Xato, the nearest assistant, had saved Her Lady from dropping to the ground and was now holding her up with stretched-out arms, the strong man. And before we knew it, a wheel-chair had arrived on an S (the standing platform), a self-steering chair, this one, and the Lady had been cushioned into its seat whence the vehicle made back onto the platform, Lydia in tow, and they were swept away. The rest of the family rose.

Are you still there? Then you may like Michael's first novel, GREEN EYES. which is out now, available on Amazon under this link:

Night Owl Reviews