Our short story La Coniche d'Or is out now, on the pages of Temptation Magazine (yes, click), about the visit of friends from Sydney (true-true story)

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)

Oct 22, 2014

No, we don't post cat & dog pictures (2)

No, we don't post cat & dog pictures...

...but we do post pictures of masturbating Pandas, of course:

(Hat tip: Tim Basset, who has this on his Facebook page, and who comments: "Exhibitionist Pandas, that's what comes from all that rock star treatment. How long before one is found hanging naked in a 5 star hotel wearing stockings with an orange it its mouth?")

Oct 21, 2014

Purity pledge (2)

Recall this picture from the first purity pledge post:

They look the part, don't they?

So, we were wondering about a purity pledge for boys. So we asked Bob Bienpensant. That's how it looks like, the purity pledge for boys, he writes, and sends this picture:

Oct 16, 2014

Gallery (16) Mel Odom

"First Eyes," Mel Odom (1982)

(More art on the gallery page)

Vanilla sex

(Hat tip: Joelle Casteels)

Purity pledge (1)

Our alter ego Bob Bienpensant had just finished optimizing this picture in Photoshop for its posting on Fine Art America...

"Say ho"

...when we receive a message from the Urban Dictionary, a message that brought to mind the picture of...

Grace and Gary Kruse, Black Forrest, Colorado

...of a so-called Purity Pledge, depicting a father and a daughter whose virginity he vows to protect until her marriage...here's a closeup...

A picture speaks a thousand words, doesn't it?

The failed engineer in us always wonders how these things are actually done, how Mr. Kruse will go about preserving the cherry of his female offspring in this Hobbesian world out there---and how about the male offspring, isn't there a notion of equality out there, if the girls are not allowed to have fun, how about the boys then? And how about heavy petting, that's okay? THAT'S OK? Anyhow, that's where the Urban Dictionary comes in. 

Let's adumbrate this with a quote from Pope Francis (see "mot," right column): "Let us think of when slavery was accepted or the death penalty was allowed without any problem. So we grow in the understanding of the truth."

Purity coverage continues here

In the meantime, have a look at this:

Oct 15, 2014

"Why this hunting of deer in the rainy forest of the Puget sound?" --- This is heaven (teaser)

We're in the thick of this soap opera and there's not way turning back.  So let's jump right into this pool of foregone lust and ... and what? ... good question. We don't know yet. There will be a happy ending, though, promise. For more context, have a look at the "Green Eyes Zoo," (left column, scroll down)

(In a previous teaser John related an anecdote about an exchange with a certain high school teacher about the construction principles of classical drama. Here are the last lines of the post:) 

 I have him by his nose hair, I really do, and then I go too far and spoil everything---I forgot what I said but I totally miss the Perry Mason moment until it’s too late to say ‘I rest my case.’ Hold on, I remember what I said, I said: “The classical drama depends crucially on people not having cell phones.”

And here's the continuation (recall that we've accompanied Juliette's body to the morgue, that Alex moved out, etc):

Have you ever met a person like Alex? Well, you did, you’re reading this now. A dieu du stade (French), plus frat boy with pedantical features, plus facile drunk---okay, that’s recursive; (b) big brother without clothes, somebody who knows everything and nothing, (c) somebody who owns the room, effortlessly; (d) but if he does make an effort it’s like MTV, especially the head-rolling, especially since we told him---which is sort of ironic since nobody watches MTV anymore;

"Latino boy," Joe Phillips (The model for Alex)

 (e) the boozed-up Alex has no qualms about threesomes with Godehart (up to the point of practically manhandling me), but the sober Alex cites Ben and withdraws to his private cloud bank; (f) he’s profoundly more arrogant than your average frat boy, if I hadn’t compared him to demigods I’d compare him to the pope now---his apologies are as careless as papal blessings; (g) and his talk about heaven; (h) worst of all, it is/was his excuse for “loving” me, this “heaven;” (b-bis) but the big brother is not fake, Alex has a sense of responsibility, his murmurs about ‘day two, day two,’ and ‘day three,’ or his occasional arm on my shoulder, or his fidgeting with my hair; (i) okay, the hair fidgeting is a bit incestuous big-brother-wise, but it is/was the best part; (j) Alice will always love him; (k) you can trust Alice; (l) well, no, she’s got it terribly wrong with Eleanor; (m) yes, but Eleanor was based on sexual attraction, her view of Alex is unbiased; (n) you can’t call Alice now, you went to complain about Alex on Sunday already, she’s busy; (o) and how to explain about Ben? To her? (p) and how about the “Dr. Watson” thing?

Oct 13, 2014

Gallery (15) Steve Walker

"David and me," Steve Walker (1961-2012)
This is a follow up to our last "This Is Heaven" teaser, A virginal handkerchief, where we failed to place this picture in the vicinity of a few lines about David Leavitt and this very young boyfriend entering the hall of the Accademia Galleria in Florence.

(Okay, here they are again (the few lines, John speaking)): "There’s a passage in David Leavitt’s “The lost language of Cranes” that comes back to me once a year or so, one of the characters relating a story of him and a very young boyfriend visiting Florence, and as they enter the hall of Michelangelo’s David, the eyes of the crowd are drawn away from the statue and to the magnetic beauty of this very young boyfriend. It doesn't read as if Leavitt made this up, this somehow really happened to him. Anyhow, the boyfriend must have looked like Romeo---by analogy, I mean.")

(More art on the gallery page)

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot --- Chapter III (not a review)

We're not good at reviews unless we can complain about Hollywood producers not understanding what "ion propulsion" means, or not knowing about the ambient temperature on Titan, the Saturn moon, or/and so on.

So this is not a review but a post about the third chapter of Dave Shafer's debut novel "Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot." We're jealous of the success of his book, of course, but that doesn't keep us from really loving the third chapter. The book is about a global conspiracy (data, computers, etc) but we have no clear idea of the conspiracy yet in Chapter III where we meet the main protagonist of the story, Mark Devreaux. Mark graduated from Harvard, like his ex-friend Leo, another important protagonist---amazing how many people graduate from Harvard in American novels (although Shafer graduated from Harvard himself, so he holds some poetic license).

Dave Shafer
Mark is/was a copy writer at some internet upstart---amazing how low Harvard graduates can fall in American novels---but then he has a creative night with OxyContin (the drug), Pouilly-Fuissé (the chardonnay, usually overpriced in our opinion---St. Veran, also a white Beaujolais, has a much better quality-price quotient) and with an IBM selectric (that was/is a typewriter, a technology not quite up to the tricks of ion-propulsion). So Mark pulls an all-nighter and writes a piece about "Motivation in an Unjust World." The piece is discovered by James Shaw, the quasillionaire and godfather of the conspiracy we don't know of yet, so Mark is duly booked for Margo!, a talk show hosted by Margo, the Oprah Winfrey look-alike.

Oct 3, 2014

A virginal handkerchief --- This is heaven (teaser)

If this sounds like a soap opera, it's because it is one: Richard  Roper, Romeo's sugar daddy, was found dead in his trailer parked on the festival field---a victim of gasper sex, apparently. John is dealing with the police while Alex is talking to Juliette. Spoiler alert: at the end of this teaser, we're accompanying Juliette's body to the morgue.

(The artwork is mostly from Pre-Raphaelite British artists. We have two Ophelias but no Juliet; apologies)

“I know you,” the cop who knows me says again. “I’m John Lee.” I say. It doesn’t ring a bell. The ambulance arrives. Pictures are taken. There is some back and forth on the cell phone but this corpse won’t survive the heat and needs to be shipped immediately. It’s gasper sex anyhow. We watch silently as the two paramedics abandon the idea to roll a gurney into the caravan, then haul the body onto a stretcher and carry it to the meat wagon. “Couple of hours,” the paramedic flicks back over his shoulder, “couple of hours he’s dead.”
“This is him, okay?” the cop asks again, pointing at Roper's body.

"Ophelia," Arthur Hughes

Sep 30, 2014

Yesterday ---- Part II: Sex on the Eames chair (really)

Finally, folks, the second part of our true-true short story about the visit of our friends from Australia. A third (and last part) will follow. (For the first part go here)

Josh and Jason slept well. They brought good winter weather, a light mistral with dry clear air and steely blue sky. We’ll go visit Saint Tropez. It would be me, today, who would have to make the move, but it’s easier to talk about the corniche or the Forêt Domanial de l’Esterel, the natural park of marais and pine trees that surrounds Le Trayas and protects us from over-development, we’ve recently met a fox up there. I point to a villa on the cliff which supposedly belonged to Greta Garbo (everything is a rumor here, and they are always false). We’ve reached St. Maxime when I finally muster the chutzpah to say: “Chang tells me you’ve sucked his dick last night.”
“Yes,” they say.
“It’s unfair,” I say. They laugh.

We arrive in St. Tropez and walk along the quay where Brigitte Bardot lived in Dieu créa la femme (the next house accomodated La cage aux folles, Birdcage was the remake). We take turns taking pictures of us and the sea. I ask Jason to zoom in on the northern horizon with his Canon EOS 70D and point to the tip of Miramar, a stone throw away from our house in Le Trayas. “It’s unfair,” I say, “they can see us, but we can’t see them.” We laugh.

Jason takes this picture, Josh (or I) hold him in place

Sep 29, 2014

Five is logic

(Let's post this before we post anything else:) If you're a writer, you're getting five daily emails from The Writer's Digest, all titled "X rules for leveraging your epic lack of talent." Along those lines, we read on the pages of Longform Reprints about Mike Caren, the president of Warner: 

Mike Caren
"His second discovery was that he could encourage the writing of hits by urging songwriters to follow his nine rules of hit songwriting. While Caren’s rules are not comprehensive or exclusive, it is easy to measure their value by a glance at the dozens of gold and platinum records hanging in his office. He is happy to run down his rules for me. “First, it starts with an expression of ‘Hey,’ ‘Oops,’ ‘Excuse me,’” he begins. “Second is a personal statement: ‘I’m a hustler, baby,’ ‘I wanna love you,’ ‘I need you tonight.’ Third is telling you what to do: ‘Put your hands up,’ ‘Give me all your love,’ ‘Jump.’ Fourth is asking a question: ‘Will you love me tomorrow,’ ‘Where have you been all my life,’ ‘Will the real Slim Shady please stand up.’”