Nov 30, 2013

Active duty (reposted)

A bit scabrous, perhaps, this short story...

...that will appear soon on the pages of Etherbooks:

I’m standing here next to this artificial pond, holding my bike with one hand, and an umbrella with the other. It’s raining. It’s barely 11 PM and there’s still a suggestion of light in the doomy clouds above us since this is June in Amsterdam, the sun setting past 10 PM, dust stretching past midnight. The pond belongs to the Easter Park, the nearest cruising ground. I must be horny, really, there’s no other excuse for this, cycling through the pouring rain in search of casual sex. It’s fairly cold, by the way, I'm almost shivering.

Nov 27, 2013

Digging too deeply: The boys of the summer (Cathy)

We have been in vivid contact with Cathy, the soul of Hollywood hates me, her brilliant blog. And she has started this series about song lyrics. And we suggested the song The boys of the summer by Don Henley, a song that plays a role near the end of part one of the Green Eyes (Nick, the owner of Nick's restaurant, performs it at one of of darkest moments of John's brief life), and also at the beginning of the second part of the Green Eyes (we explain later). And she listened. So here it is, her analysis.

By popular request ("popular" means "one person," right?), here comes an analysis of Don Henley's The Boys of Summer. You know you can't wait to learn what this song really means.

Nobody on the road
Nobody on the beach
I feel it in the air
The summer’s out of reach

Our first verse opens in September. Everybody's gone back to school, except our singer. Possibly he's a dropout, possibly he's too old for school. All he knows is that, man, it was great when everybody was back in town for the summer, hanging out at the beach and on the road.

"Stop looking so happy. I really miss you guys!"
"Stop looking so happy. I really miss you guys!"

Nov 25, 2013

The hunger games

(You must watch this:)

Pictures from an exhibition (Anonymous)

A friend sent these pictures, but requested anonymity. 

Just in case you were wondering, there is a famous composition for piano by the Russian Modest Mussorgsky of the same title (his most famous composition), which is usually performed in an orchestral version arranged by Maurice Ravel:

Dear Mom.... (Suzy)

A mother passes by her son's bedroom and is astonished to see the bed nicely made, and everything tidied up. She takes note of an envelope propped up on the pillow.

It is addressed, 'Mum.' She opens the envelope and reads the letter: 

Dear, Mum:

It is with great regret and sorrow that I'm writing you. I had to elope with my new girlfriend, because I wanted to avoid a scene with Dad and you.

I've been finding real passion with Stacy, and she is so nice, but I knew you would not approve of her, because of all her piercing's, tattoos, her tight Motorcycle clothes, and because she is so much older than I am.

But it's not only the passion, Mum. She's pregnant.

Stacy said that we will be very happy. She owns a trailer in the woods, and has a stack of firewood for the whole winter.

We share a dream of having many more children.

Stacy has opened my eyes to the fact that marijuana doesn't really hurt anyone. We'll be growing it for ourselves, and trading it with the other people in the commune, for all the cocaine and ecstasy we want.

In the meantime, we'll pray that science will find a cure for AIDS so Stacy can get better. She sure deserves it!!

Don't worry Mum, I'm 15, and I know how to take care of myself.

Someday, I'm sure we'll be back to visit, so you can get to know your many grandchildren.

Love, your son, Nicholas.

P.S. Mum, none of the above is true. I'm over at Jason's house. I just wanted to remind you that there are worse things in life than the school report that's on my desk..

I love you!

Call when it is safe for me to come home.'

Nov 24, 2013

Green Eyes --- Part II (This is heaven) (Chapter 2, teaser)

Last Monday we talked about the beginning of Part II of the Green Eyes, and Tuesday we began to write. We have to prepare the ground for a triangle (Am: ménage, if you didn't know (we didn't) --- in French it means "household") a triangle of John, Alex, and Ben. It's tough going, there are lots of distractions, but we have a reasonable draft now, and here are two fragments.


Let me think. ‘The happy ending is over now,’ I think. I look askance at Alex’s rippled abs (he’s still holding the T-shirt in his hand, it’s hot already, we’re sweaty of course), let my eyes travel to his pelvis region, then back up along his lithe, sleekly muscled torso, the elongated neck, the boyish profile. He has grown an inch or two since his felo de se. He feels my eyes on his Latino skin, I know.

The gay beach of Rehoboth Beach, DE, the model for Georgia Beach

“The happy ending is over now,” I say after a while.
“Don’t say that,” he replies, “Happy endings can’t end.”
“I wish it were true.”
“It is true. It’s true for the best of all possibly reasons.”
“I’d settle for any reason at this moment.”
“The power of subsumption.”
“Happy endings can’t end since endings ended already. They are part and parcel of endings in general.”
“Sheer semantics,” I say.
“Right,” he says, “sheer semantics. Rooted in meaning of the word ‘end’.”
“Well, you know what I mean.”
“Okay,” he says and puts his arm around my shoulder. He’s conceding the point. For once.

Well, no. “The power of subsumption,” he regroups, rolls his head, and gives me this new look with his emerald eyes, the bad-boy-post-felo-de-se-look that signals the defeat of his depression.

Sunday matinée

Yes, it's a fox. We met him/her a few days ago in the Esterel park nearby, perhaps one klick from the house. The picture was taken by Seong-gon, our friend from Jeju, Korea. 

Nov 19, 2013


Heavy rains washed a lot of debris into the sea this morning---the stream ends up in the left corner, next to the marina---and you can see the border between the muddy rain water and the sea water. 

Interesting, isn't it?

And while we are at it...our Korean in-laws are still visiting...

Nov 18, 2013

Green Eyes --- Part II (This is heaven) (Chapter II, outline)

Yes, folks, the Green Eyes end with the words "I'm ticklish," spoken by Albert, the beach bear from the opening of the first part.  He had used the same words in Chapter Three ("Sex on the beach") to drag John into a brief, hand-driven session between the sheets (or towels). He's repeating himself for a reason now, and Alex, in the opening lines of Part II, will somehow suggest to a taken-aback John that Albert has a point and should be accommodated. Another unprintable chapter will be written and relegated to an appendix and replaced by a flat summary of the events related there, events which are as predictable in their totality as they are unpredictable in their microstructure, thus faithfully replicating the structure of the universe --- we simply can't settle for less when it comes to graphic sex.

Gay Beach, Rehoboth Beach, DE...

...which serves as model for the gay beach of Georgia Beach

The true opening chapter of Part II, ie. Chapter Two, will see John and Alex walking away from the scene of the crime (any sex ("carnal knowledge") outside marriage is technically still felonious in Georgia), with John trying to take mental stock. His first thought, obviously, will be that the happy ending is over. Alex will disagree, if only on formal grounds ("ends can't end"), but the semantic tussle remains unresolved since the cell phone rings, John's cell phone. And it is, yes, you guessed right, it must be Ben, since the only way to create a new arc of tension in Part II without having John and Alex separating has to involve some sort of triangle, or "ménage," as Americans would say. So Ben calls in all innocence to announce that Luke, the convenience-store vampire, has hired him (Ben) as salesperson for Luke's market stand at the venue of the Festival Week which is about to commence today. And although it isn't made explicit, Ben's assumption will be that he (Ben) can stay at John's place during the week. Ben does not know about Alex. Alex knew about Ben ("You've been all over the place, haven't you") but that was before amnesia struck. John, first, misses the chance to come clean about Alex toward Ben, and then misses the chance to come clean about Ben toward Alex. The soap must go on. John will have several more opportunities to come clean and miss them all, while we, the reader, will develop an inkling as to the growing understanding between Alex and Ben behind John's guilty back (the understanding).

This will be a tricky dialogue to write, wish us luck.

Update (2): And here it is, the tricky dialogue, or at least a fragment of it.

Update (1): We are already writing the tricky dialogue, and want Ben let say "fest week" when referring to the upcoming festival week. But we are not so sure. "Street fest," okay, but "fest week?" So we ask Glenn per email.

Possibly not, Glenn writes back. People will understand it, but it doesn't sound American. And then he sends this picture...

Renate, Glenn's wife
...and writes: "Are you aware that your question this morning interrupted our luxury breakfast in an Airstream trailer here in Austin, TX..." (they are in Austin for some reason, I think Formula I or something).

Are you still there? Then you'll possibly like the GREEN EYES. The first part is out now, available as Kindle book on Amazon, under this link:

Night Owl Reviews

Nov 16, 2013

Sunday matinée

We were at such a low, we considered joining the ranks of tasteful bloggers and post this picture for the Sunday Matinée...

...instead of, say, this one...

But then we discovered this article about the X-factor applied to Italian writers (link), clearly a phenomenon we failed to appreciate when starting to write the "Green Eyes." The article has a link to a Monty Python sketch, a sketch you doubtlessly knew already, but we didn't, so here it is:

Nov 14, 2013

Sometimes we need some pun (1) Glenn

The fattest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi. 

I thought I saw an eye-doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

She was only a whisky-maker, but he loved her still.

A rubber-band pistol was confiscated from an algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption.

No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering. 

A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

A hole has been found in the nudist-camp wall.. The police are looking into it.

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

Nov 9, 2013

Dr. Urknall

The Dutch CVB, or whatever the alphabet soup, sends us a new European Insurance Card. Because we had discovered belatedly in the ER of the Spital Visp, CH, that the old card had expired. ER? Yes, as in emergency room. Because we had gone deaf.

 (If you continue reading, there's a payoff) 

We use ear plugs when we can't sleep. The wax from the plugs talks to the organic ear wax, canals get clogged, hearing gets impaired. We attempt to clean the ears but push the wax deeper into the canals until we go completely deaf. Which is quite something. You step into the street and get killed. You say good-by to Mozart and Lady Gaga and the telephone and to the relationship with your lover beyond anything but the soundless exchange of bodily fluids.

 (If you continue reading, there's a payoff) 

I had hoped that some natural process would provide relief and foster a recovery of my hearing. I wait one day, two days, three days. Nada. So I give up and flee to the ER of the Spital Visp, a place I know well. Dr. Ursprung is not around, unfortunately (follow the link). I explain my case. People listen patiently. I listen patiently. It's like you're listening to the Urknall (the Urknall was silent, there was no atmosphere to carry sound).

 (If you continue reading, there's a payoff) 

They ask me to rest on the emergency bed (gestures, folded hands put to your (their) left ear). I lie down. Wait. "Wait!" Where is your European Insurance Card? I don't understand. Somebody gets a piece of paper and writes "Europäische Versicherungskarte." Aha. I find my wallet and flash the card. There's a picture of Obama on the card (just kidding). Everything is fine. Somebody will take my blood pressure. The nurse looks quite concerned.

 (If you continue reading, there's a payoff) 

They try all sorts of things. Liquids dripped into my ear, compassionate facial expressions, electrodes applied to my testes, prayers, Alpine cleansing rituals, shaking heads. Shaking heads. It's my fault because the European Insurance Card has expired. The healing hands are raised in despair and I am sent to the local Hals-Nasen-Ohren doctor who cleans my ears with a nanoistic vacuum-cleaner and ask for 108 CHF in cash. I can hear him loud and clear and pay and call the Dutch alphabet soup and ask for a new, valid, European Insurance Card. Which arrived today, the card. I'm not making this up.

If you are still there, here's the payoff:

Nov 7, 2013

Read my lips

And the mandatory fragment from the Green Eyes? From Chapter 20 of course, My father and your father were fathers:  

We're talking about John's father:

You wonder whether he ever raped me? No, he didn't. My mother just caught him on the wrong side of my body, when the thing stopped. Let me explain, I'm politically incorrect here in a terrible way, I know.

Nov 1, 2013

History of the world --- Venice (3)

When yours truly arrived in Venice 25 years ago for a brief sojourn at the Business School, Massimo, his correspondent, picked him up at the airport and took him to a down-town café stuffed with pastries, liqueur bottles, and high tables inviting patrons to stand and drink sprits, small glasses of white wine with a schuss, a few drops of Cinzano, say. The spritz then was the stuff of true Venetians, tourists wouldn't know and drink Chianti or Campari instead---if they would drink in the morning, that is, because true Venetians had two spritzes at breakfast. Habits have changes in the meantime; the spritzes have tripled in size and been taken over by tourism, so true Venetians refrain from the stuff and drink lager instead.

"I'll spritz you."

I spent two weeks in Venice as a non-tourist and learned a lot, especially about tourism. Already then, Venice was almost completely touristicated---cool, folks, what an ugly word, "touristicated," but the spell checker doesn't recognize it so it's possibly a neologism1---, and the locals behaved like a dying breed. They would avoid tourists like the plague, would only patronize their own restaurants (hidden away in secret alleys where the food was three times better), would not speak English, would not know about directions, would not make appointments because you only had to step into the street to meet friends, would sit on roof-top terraces and enjoy life, would spend week-end afternoons in secluded gardens (not having sex, by the way, just dozing off jointly for a few hours), would recognize the voices of the passing gondoliers at night (while still enjoying life on the roof-top terraces)...