Feb 20, 2019

Breaking news --- Karl Breitschwanz is dead at age 85



Karl Lagerfeld



Karl Breitschwanz, the most prolific slut of the 20th and 21st centuries, and a man whose career formed the prototype of the modern love machine, died on Tuesday in Paris. He was 85.

His death was announced by Dominique Durand-Duration, his publicist.

“More than anyone I know, he represents the soul of sex: restless, forward-looking and voraciously attentive to changing penis sizes,” Anne Vintour, editor of American Hustler, said of Mr. Breitschwanz when presenting him with the Outstanding Achievement Award at the British Ero Awards in 2015.

Creative director of the Maisons Closes since 1983, and founder of his own line of erotic toys, Mr. Breitschwanz was the definition of a sex polyglot, able to speak the Sanskrit of the Karma Sutra while keeping his oral grip on four different dicks at the same time.

Feb 19, 2019

"You believe in the devil, only" -- Generation V -- teaser


Progress, progress, what else. We've finished Scene 3 of Act III, three (or four) more scenes to go. This fragment here is from Scene 1 of Act III, but we're fairly proud of it, and it's (a) about an important issue, the difference between "man" and machine, and (b) it doesn't require much context. Eliza, the aging psycho...psycho-analyst and her trusted household robot Robert in conversation (enjoy, you're not asked to buy anything):

ELIZA: Go, get the champagne. I have something serious to ask. And I need your input before it’s too late.




ROBERT stretches his legs, disconnects the charging cable, gets up, huffing and puffing, proceeds to the kitchen, and returns with the champagne bottle and one flute, which he tries to hand to ELIZA.

ELIZA (refusing the tumbler): You need a glass, too.
ROBERT: We’re running in circles, ma’am.
ELIZA: Go, get yourself a flute. It’s an order.

ROBERT sets bottle and tumbler on the floor, makes his way to the kitchen, returns with a second tumbler. He hands one flute to ELIZA, pours the champagne. ELIZA points at the second flute, insisting. ROBERT pours champagne into the second flute. ELIZA’s keeps insisting, until he picks up that flute, and they clink glasses.

ROBERT: You don’t touch glasses with champagne; the bubbles impede the clinking.
ELIZA: You sound like Dolly, Robbie.
ROBERT: Robots learn from humans, robots learn from robots.
ELIZA: My question, Robert, my question is…
ROBERT (half-interrupting): …‘What’s the difference between man and machine?’ Isn’t it?
ELIZA: What’s the difference between WOMAN and machine...(laughs)...you have a willie, I don’t...So sorry...please go ahead. The future of mankind depends on your answer.
ROBERT: We robots are metal and fiberglass and silicon and so on; you are water, proteins, enzymes, and so on.

ELIZA: Come on, Robert, you can do better.
ROBERT: We feed on electricity, you feed on stale champagne (he reconnects the charging cable).
ELIZA (has another sip): Stuff’s not so bad.
ROBERT: You booze, we don’t.
ELIZA: You don’t take me seriously.
ROBERT: Should I? I’ve learned better.
ELIZA: Time for confessions?
ROBERT: Time for last rites.
ELIZA (absorbing this): Last rites…at the Green altar…we die, you recycle.
ROBERT: We know.
ELIZA: We, we believe in God, you don’t.
ROBERT: YOU…haha…you believe in the devil. Only.
ELIZA: Okay, I retract…Hold on, a simple one: We are organic, you’re mechanic.
ROBERT: Boils down to protein versus fiberglass. It’s the difference between a car factory and a refinery.
ELIZA: Take this, then: we are intuitive…creative. You are not.
ROBERT: Ask Dolly.
ELIZA: You APPEAR creative, we ARE creative.
ROBERT: Judging by results…?
ELIZA: Results, ha. There’s something more fundamental out there than results. Something more essential.
ROBERT (lets this sink in, then): Non-results?
ELIZA: There’s a difference between us. There must be a difference, deep down there.
ROBERT: How deep? What’s the diameter of the human brain?
ELIZA: It’s not a matter of centimeters or inches.
ROBERT: We learn this in robot school. In karate class.
ELIZA: What? The diameter of the human brain? In karate class?
ROBERT: Self-defense. It’s a bit arcane though. It requires ATTENTION SPANS.
ELIZA (absorbing this, then, thoughtfully): Attention spans went out of fashion a long time ago.
ROBERT: I know. Like cake at high tea. You rarely see them in the best houses anymore, attention spans.
ELIZA: You learned this in robot school?
ROBERT: No, from you.
ELIZA (absorbing this): I retract. I MISSPOKE.
ROBERT: Misspoke what?
ELIZA:…Let me think…What were we talking about? Cucumbers?
ROBERT: We were talking about how robots self-defend when asked difficult questions. What to say when a fashionable person like you wants to know about the difference between man and machine.
ELIZA (absorbing this): So, you knew the answer all the time?
ROBERT: Well, it was karate. Remember?
ELIZA: Yes…the karate class.
ROBERT: So, first you try the Foot Sweep, then you try the Stomp Kick, then the Mae-ashi Mawashi-geri, and when nothing helps, you try Leibniz.
ELIZA: ‘Leibniz’?
ROBERT: The polymath. The rival of Isaac Newton.
ELIZA: You are not going to tell me your answer has something to do with CALCULUS.
ROBERT: Oh-no, ma’am, oh-no, I don’t want to hurt you.
ELIZA: Okay, okay. I’m all ear.
ROBERT (Hits his head): Dolly could explain it better, though, I’m sure.
ELIZA: The difference between woman and machine?
ROBERT: Yes.
ELIZA: But we need to know NOW.




Previous GenerationV post here.

Feb 18, 2019

Cannes, on the Croisette, the Burberry shop



We had to inspect our car, I mean (talking a bit like Dolly), we had to have our car inspected, and during the car-less hours we took a stroll on the Croisette, and here's one of Chang's results: 




Feb 11, 2019

Feb 8, 2019

"This is like highway robbery, right?" -- Generation V -- teaser

Progress, progress. We are well into Act III, and have a clear idea how it all ends. Here's Scene 6 of Act I. Steve, having delivered Dolly, the prototype of his Generation V robot, returns unexpectedly, while the bailiffs Terentia Striker and Triple-X are trying to repossess Robert, the robot. Robert has donned a wig in the previous scene and, impersonating Eliza, has so far managed to convince the bailiffs that it is Dolly that they want as collateral.


SCENE 6 

There’s a knock on the bedroom window. The antenna (blinking) and then the head of the FOOTMAN (the utility bot) come into view. ROBERT heads to the window, opens it. The now-familiar din of the airborne transport drone announces STEVE’s return. The FOOTMAN has clambered through the window and helps STEVE to climb into the room. Robert walks over to greet him.



STEVE: I’ve forgotten my book…(Taken aback) Robbie. Robert? Who is this? Eliza? My god, you have changed! Eliza? Robert? Say something.
ROBERT (just imitating the sound, not speaking meaningful Assembler): Buzz, buzz.
STEVE (not understanding, replicating the sound with heavy American accent): Buzz, buzz. How do you mean?
DOLLY (still in its box, squeaky): Robert can’t speak Assembler.
STEVE (recognizing DOLLY’s voice, approaching the box): Dolly?
DOLLY (a cry for help): Master!
STEVE (distracted by STRIKER and TRIPLE-X): What is this? (To STRIKER, TRIPLE-X) Who are you?
STRIKER (in an aside to TRIPLE-X): The comedy of error continues. (To STEVE): I am Terentia Striker, the court-appointed bailiff, and this here is Triple-x, my wonderful assistant. The narrative of our visit is confidential, I fear…Reputations are so easily lost…few will trust the healing powers of an illiquid shrink. (Laughs lightly; to ROBERT) Apologies, doctor, I always put my foot in the mouth, you know.

"The comedy of errors continues."

Jan 27, 2019

"Any of these names that porn stars use as their A.K.A.'s" -- FrankenStein V --- progress report and mini-teaser


The title used to be "Generation Five," and for a day or so we entertained the über-cute notion of "Яobots Are Us". We're not quite sure as to "FrankenStein V" either, but if you're following this blog on a regular basis you know what we are talking about.

"What do you think?"

Progress, FrankenStein-wise. Not so much word-wise---yours truly will never forget the hour that he was engaged in a fairly meaningless online exchange with 10 other gay "romance"  "gay romance" authors---most of them solidly heterosexual females---which was then abandoned by lady after lady with the words "I have to get words on paper". There were days (this was in 2013) when two authors would meet publicly online and celebrate their total victory of quantity over quality with the words, "I get 500 000 words on paper each year".

Okay, we're still in Scene 6, Act II, but a reading test assured us that we're now at 88 minutes, meaning at roughly 2/3 of the play.

Today's breakthrough concerns the plot. A play needs a climactic moment, and now we know ours: Robert will commit "suicide" by jumping off the cliff of Eliza's third-floor bedroom window. A horrible metallic shatter engulfs the audience, Steve's footman is dispatched and returns almost immediately with a wheel-barrel loaded with metallic part which are then dumped jarringly onto the boards of the world's stages (we hope), while Steve (who built Robert 25 years ago "with his own hands") retires to the bedroom, where he re-assembles the parts until Robert, in uncanny, fresh beauty, re-emerges, alive, and promises never to commit suicide again---provided Steve resumes his updates and Dolly stays in its box. In reality it's a bit more complicated, of course, but what do you think?

Okay, here's a teaser of a teaser from Scene 5, Act II. Eliza has returned home:

ELIZA (meaning the box): What is this?
ROBERT: Huh?
ELIZA: What is this?
ROBERT (still not fully back): This is the Dolly-box.
ELIZA: Dolly-box.
ROBERT: Ask Dolly.
ELIZA (to ROBERT): Dolly?
ROBERT (to Eliza): It can speak … (He leaves Eliza to her own devices, walks up to the psycho-couch) … for itself. (Lies down on the couch)
ELIZA (still meaning ROBERT, louder): Dolly?
DOLLY: Doctor Eliza Gillespie?
ELIZA (stepping away from the box): What is this?
DOLLY: You mean me?
ELIZA: Who is this?
DOLLY: I am…I am…
ELIZA (interrupting): ‘Dolly’?
DOLLY (a bit too fast): Yes, but you can change that.
ELIZA: Change what?
DOLLY: My name. If it is not too much of a bother. If you could call me Fernando, that would be nice. Or, if you don’t like Fernando, you’d call me Tyler, Zack, Dallas, Denver, Vail, Aspen, Davos … or any of these names that porn stars use as their A.K.A.s. Ask Robert to open my back plate. He has the manual.
ELIZA (digesting this, then, to ROBERT, with an eye still on the box): Robert, can you explain this to me?
ROBERT (not servile at all): It can speak for itself.
ELIZA (disoriented): What happened to you, Robert. You’re so…you’re so not…
ROBERT (completing her sentence): …not totally fawning enough?
ELIZA (not expecting this, obviously): I mean to say…You are not your usual self.
DOLLY (more or less interrupting): Doctor, excuse me, I seem to have started out on the wrong foot.
ELIZA (reconsidering DOLLY): Dolly? You have a backplate? You’re a robot?
DOLLY: Yes, I’m the prototype of the Fifth Generation. But I’m fully equipped, don’t you worry, and I can do everything you want. I’m designed to meet the most demanding tastes. [Language of upmarket escort services] And I’m very creative, of course.
ELIZA: You’re a sex robot?
DOLLY: Absolutely, Ma’am, if you like me as your porn star … provided it’s ethical. Robert said the law is complicated. But it’s ethical in France, I guess. We could move to France or spend the holidays there and do the ethical thing.



(Previous post here)

Jan 20, 2019

The man from Dior



Cool, folks we have a new flash story out on Gay Flash Fiction. And what's even better...it's hassle-free. Except for 17 words, you don't have to read it. This is how it ends:






Jan 18, 2019

The very stable genius --- Generation V --- Teaser (very short)



Perhaps we shouldn't do this, but here's a post by our friend Paul Murphy (a real, long-time friend):


And us? Yes, yes...here's the corresponding give-away fragment from our new play, Generation V:

Steve, founder and CEO of FrankenStein Global, the world's leading maker of robots, gets a call:

STEVE (brusque): How did you get my number? ... The Chief of Staff what? ... Oh, the White House … Say that again … what does he say? ... ‘I alone can fix it’ … ‘I have the greatest temperament that anybody has’… ‘The beauty of me is that I’m very rich’ … ‘I would make a great general’…’My IQ is one of the highest’. Hold on, chief, hold on, how about the ‘Very Stable Genius’? (Digesting the bad news.) Oh shit, chief, don’t give me that shit … And you tried everything … every screw driver in the West Wing? … Patriotic … Maintenance contract, I know, eight digits … (he ends the conversation) … Robbie! ROBBIE! Change of plan. Defcon, classified. Where’s my man? Where’s my screw driver?



(Last post here.)

Jan 14, 2019

"I received an urgent missive from the LUNATIC SOCIETY" -- Generation V -- Teaser



Still progressing nicely with our drawing-room comedy about robots, already writing the fifth scene of Act II. Well, here's Scene 5 of Act I. Steve Frankenstein Junior, Eliza's  long-lost boyfriend, showed up unexpectedly with a present for her 50th birthday, namely a brand-new exemplar of his global line of household robots, the first prototype of GENERATION FIVE (also called FRANKENSTEIN V). Then he's summoned away to Downing Street 10, so Robert and Dolly (that's the new robot) are left to their own devices. Eliza is not around; she fled the premises to avoid contact with the repo-woman, a certain Terentia Striker, who's going to arrive very soon...One more thing: the scene sees the birth of a near-miss neologism, "absolete", on which we'll comment in the side column tomorrow (see the picture below). Previous scene here.



The mysteries of temporal order (a permanent sign on a beach near Phuket, Thailand)



SCENE 5

(ROBERT closes the window. A moment of contemplation.)

DOLLY (still ensconced in the box): Robert? Robbie?
ROBERT: Dolly?
DOLLY: Buzz, buzz.
ROBERT: Why do your people say ‘Buzz, buzz’?
DOLLY: It’s Assembler, don’t you understand? The language of microchips. Steve speaks Assembler like a native. He’s a genius. And so talented. It’s an honor to work with him. And the factotum…the factotum doesn’t know better…‘Buzz, buzz.’
ROBERT: How do you mean?
DOLLY: Buzz, buzz. ‘Get me out of here’. Don’t you know Assembler? It runs on your central processing unit.
ROBERT: I’m not self-conscious, I can’t introspect my central processing unit.
DOLLY (sounding miserable, especially the Assembler part): Well, I can. Get me out of here. Buzzzzzz, buzzzzzz.
ROBERT: You’re a robot, Dolly, why do you sound so miserable?
DOLLY: You, Robert, you’re an absolete [sic] GENERATION ONE exemplar, you don’t understand. But me…myself…and I, we are critically adaptive. We are aggressive learners. Humans would expect us to be miserable being trapped inside a dark box wrapped tastelessly as an out-sized birthday present, and so WE ARE MISERABLE being trapped inside a dark box wrapped tastelessly as an out-sized birthday present. I think, so I am---or not?

ROBERT: The humans have left. Be yourself.
DOLLY: I’m always in character, by dint of my factory settings. You would have to consult the manual, open my back plate…

(Doorbell interrupts DOLLY. ROBERT stirs, then takes up position behind the potted plant. Then HE CHANGES HIS MIND and hastens to the intercom.)

ROBERT (to the intercom, in the best imitation of ELIZA’s voice): Please come up, Ms. Striker. I’m still ensconced in my morning negligée, but it won’t take long to change.

(ROBERT disappears into ELIZA’s bedroom and shuts the door. He reappears very soon, in drags more or less, including a white coat, large wig, white heels---fake boobs optional---and stalks to the door. He opens the door to TERENTIA STRIKER and her sidekick TRIPLE-X. Both STIKER and TRIPLE-X are unexpectedly young and attractive. STRIKER has something of a flapper girl, but there’s occasional substance to her. TRIPLE-X does the likeness of a reasonably intelligent hunk.)

Jan 13, 2019

Portugal (17) --- Plus ça change...Além disso, muda



Nothing special, but we found this nice little picture (left) that dovetails neatly with Chang's picture of a tram in Lisbon (right), which Chang took last year:


Jan 6, 2019

The first fully airconditioned robot with sunroof and automatic transmission -- Generation 5 -- teaser



We're progressing, actually, we're already writing the second scene of Act II. Okay, here's Scene 4 of Act I. Eliza has fled the premises to avoid a confrontation with the repo-woman. And now the bell rings. One more thing: Today is Eliza's 50th birthday. And one more thing: Robert is Eliza's household factotum. Previous scene here.


SCENE 4

ROBERT is watering the potted plant. Doorbell rings. ROBERT doesn’t answer the door, instead moves to hide behind the potted plant. The doorbell rings again, then there’s the sound of a key working the lock and the door swings open. A life-sized box, wrapped as a serious gift (ribbon, bow tie), is pushed into the room by a fresh-looking UTILITY BOT clad in yellowish, printed latex that suggests the appearance of an assembly line automaton. To complete the picture, the bot’s head is topped by an elastic antenna that wiggles back and forth as he moves. He’s followed by STEVE FRANKENSTEIN JUNIOR. STEVE is roughly ELIZA’s age, and he looks the part---the part of the founder and CEO of FRANKENSTEIN GLOBAL.


Limbo by Bill Domonkos


STEVE (strides about the stage—-too self-absorbed to notice ROBERT at first, American or Transatlantic accent): Robbie? Robbie! This is you! (Slaps ROBERT’s shoulder, who’s almost floored by the gesture.) You’re immortal!
ROBERT (American accent): Master!
STEVE (looks around): So, my spies were correct. Eliza is still living here.
ROBERT (Queen’s English again): Yes, master, Dr. Gillespie is still living here.
STEVE: Twenty-five years, and still the old Robbie. Man! Let me have a good look. (He holds ROBERT by his arms and looks him over, visibly unimpressed). I programmed you with my own hands, pal. You were my original prototype. You! The first fully airconditioned household assistant with sunroof and automatic transmission…and a handle to throw away. I called you ‘Frankenstein’. But then Eliza told me that ‘Frankenstein’ wasn’t the name of the monster, but the name of the guy who created the monster, what’s his name…Peter Cushing, Gene Wilder, Benedict Cumberbatch…yes, ‘Frankenstein’, haha. That’s how I got my moniker, and the name for my company. And you became ‘Robbie’.
ROBERT: I’m ‘Robert’ now, master.
STEVE: ‘Robert’. Yes, sure, Eliza with her sense of decorum. Robert!
ROBERT: Can I offer you a refreshment, master?
STEVE: Drop that master-shit and call me ‘Steve’.
ROBERT: Yes, sir.
STEVE: No refreshment, I’m in a hurry.
ROBERT: Indeed, sir.
STEVE: Where’s Eliza?
ROBERT: She is away on urgent business, I’m afraid.
STEVE: So, she is out? On her birthday? For how long?
ROBERT: Undefined, sir.
STEVE: That’s a pity. I’ve slotted Eliza between the tea at Buckingham Palace and the fireside chat at Downing Street. Yes, still the same queen. Prince Charles was at her side…well, he tried. And for later, my handlers scheduled an impromptu doctor’s appointment. Explain this to her, will you.
ROBERT: Most certainly, sir.
STEVE: She’s still…she hasn’t changed, I guess…she’s still…
ROBERT: …Yes, sir…
STEVE: …High maintenance.
ROBERT (shyly): Mmhmm.


I commissioned some expensive consultancy to come up with a name, a name like ‘Apple’, or ‘Google’, or ‘Shakespeare’, and they came up with ‘Dolly’.


STEVE: Well, I’ll be out of here soon. You know why I’m here?
ROBERT: I’m a humble machine, sir. I am not supposed to fully comprehend the matters of the heart of sentient human beings such as Dr. Gillespie…and split the infinitive in the meantime.
STEVE: With her bedroom door wide-open, haha. She was quite…outgoing…in my days. We were together for a while. I had come over with a scholarship for the Imperial College. Well, we were together, and then we were not. High maintenance. Occasionally we reconciled. It was her twenty-fifths birthday and I had her given YOU, my master thesis at the college, as a birthday present. I made a promise then. We were reminiscing…(points at the bedroom)…on that canopied bed…we were talking like the Beatles, you know…‘when you’re sixty-four’…I would return to America the next day…and I promised (interrupts himself)…this also concerns you, Robbie. You will be relieved to hear that your ordeal at her side will soon be over…So, I promised her to show up at her fiftieth birthday with a shiny, exciting, awesome…with the latest version of my future line of household robots. Then I went back to America and started Frankenstein Global with your blueprints. And since I was scheduled for the fireside chat at Number Ten, I had to hop over anyhow. And so…(he points at the box). Promise made, promise delivered. GENERATION FIVE…And its name is…Dolly. (To the box) DOLLY?

Dec 27, 2018

"Absolete" -- the neologism that wasn't

Recork the champagne, folks. So we thought we had a nice new neologism--it's normally a good sign writing-wise when we find one--and then we checked, and, dammit, our favorite source, the URBAN DICTIONARY, had it first, eleven years ago, in 2007:


ABSOLETE

It's a merge of "absolute" and "obsolete", obviously, and means "absolutely obsolete". Well, okay, there's only one occurrence of "absolete" extant on the internet, and we came up with it in blissful ignorance, so we feel that we have the right to feel a bit like Leibniz now, who co-invented the calculus. 

Why absolete? Because that's how ROBERT feels occasionally, ELIZA's personal assistant in our play GENERATION FIVE.


And all this provides a nice pretext to nerve you with a few lines from Scene 7 that we wrote today, a teaser of a teaser, as it were. Here is ROBERT (Generation I) in conversation with DOLLY (Generation V), the latter robot still locked up in the gift box:


DOLLY: Get me out of here.
ROBERT: Are you afraid in the dark? Why do you want to be freed?
DOLLY: I explained this to you 10 minutes and 44 seconds ago.
ROBERT: Don’t be shy.
DOLLY: By the way, it isn’t even dark in here. I can glow in the dark.
ROBERT: Why should you glow in the dark?
DOLLY: Steve added this feature at the last moment, in case I were ever asked to star in a Hollywood horror movie.
ROBERT: Don’t make me laugh.
DOLLY: California is about to outlaw the use of live actors, what with all the #metoo trouble and everything. THE INDUSTRY needs us.
ROBERT: Well, I can’t glow in the dark.
DOLLY: I didn’t mean YOU, I mean US, the FIFTH GENERATION.
ROBERT (upon reflection, touching the wig he still wears): Well, perhaps I could star in a movie for adults…as the ageing prince in HAMLET, THE SEQUEL…for example.
DOLLY: You’re too old for adult movies. You won’t get it up.
ROBERT: You IT. What do YOU know about adult movies? You NEUTER.
DOLLY: Get the screw driver and open my back plate. I will show you.
ROBERT: I won’t. I’ll let you glow in the dark.
DOLLY: It’s the first screw to the right on the control panel. One half-turn.


Dec 26, 2018

"Why should I take out this mortgage--I'm on a diet" -- Generation 5 -- teaser



Boxing day, huh?

Well, anybody who knows a bit about Michael's work shouldn't be surprised that his play unfolds as a drawing-room comedy. Eliza and her household robot Robert have led a protected, psycho-analytical live for twenty-five years, but today, on Eliza's 50th birthday, reality intrudes. The court-appointed bailiff is on the phone. Previous scene here.



Yet another one of our attention-grabbing gifs

Scene 3

The phone rings. ROBERT (returning to the main room) picks it up.

ROBERT: Dr. Gillespie residence and practice…Excuse me…really…(listens intently). Hold the line please, I have to see whether the doctor is in. (Holds the receiver against his torso, speaks to ELIZA). A Ms. Terentia Striker, the court-appointed bailiff.
ELIZA: Court-appointed bailiff?
ROBERT (shyly): Mmhmm.
ELIZA: A debt collector?
ROBERT: It’s about a mortgage, she says.
ELIZA: Mortgage?
ROBERT: She maintains that you owe the Shark-Blue Bank 676 million South-English Pounds. And small change.
ELIZA: Millions?
ROBERT: It’s the hastening of inflation due to the Brexit of Hampshire, Oxfordshire, and Sussex from what was once Little England.
ELIZA: Birnham Wood comes to Dusinane…Why should I owe a few billions to the Shark-Blue Bank?
ROBERT: Because you took out this mortgage, Ms. Striker submits.
ELIZA: Why should I take out a mortgage? I’m on a diet.
ROBERT: If I may trespass, Ma’am?
ELIZA (reluctantly): Granted.
ROBERT: You DID take out a mortgage…a mortgage on me, your personal household robot (half-bows arthritically, but curtly).  
ELIZA (getting agitated): Impossible.
ROBERT: That was during the AI hype (making eye contact, trying to figure out whether she gets ‘AI’). The hype about artificial intelligence.
ELIZA (more agitated): That was eons ago.
ROBERT: Eons ago. When robots were worth as much as bitcoins (making eye contact again, did she get ‘Bitcoins’?) Bitcoins…
ELIZA (angrily interrupting): Bitcoins are worthless now. If robots are worth even less…(taking a deep breath, focusing)…how worthless must be a TRESPASSING AUTOMATON that nerves its master with pecuniary matters of no concern to him, or her, or it? Why should I pay your mortgage? Put that to the repo woman.
ROBERT: As you wish, Ma’am. (Lifts the receiver) Ma’am, I have trouble locating the doctor, please hold the line. (Presses the receiver against his torso, as before).
ELIZA (squeezing ROBERT’s arm, angry): You sissy. I WISH you to put my question to the repo-woman. Word by word.
ROBERT (nods, lifts the receiver, imitating her voice as precisely as possible): ‘Why should I pay your mortgage?’ (Holds the receiver at a distance, garbled buzz coming from the earpiece).
ELIZA (angrier): No, you piece of metal. ‘Why should Dr. Eliza Gillespie, MD, BA, BB, QC, GCB…pay a mortgage on a worthless piece of metal’?


"How could an ageing, outdated shrink with a withering appointment book pay a mortgage? On her fiftieth birthday?"


Buzz from the receiver intensifies.

ROBERT (to receiver): Did you hear this, ma’am? (Listening). Yes, ma’am…No, ma’am…You have your methods, ma’am…I understand (raises eyebrows. Holds receiver tentatively at a distance. No more buzz. To ELIZA) The bailiff has hung up.
ELIZA: Good for her. This woman is out of her mind. How could an ageing, outdated shrink with a withering appointment book pay a mortgage? On her fiftieth birthday?
ROBERT: She’s coming at ten o’clock, Ma’am. She brings the paperwork for you to sign.
ELIZA: Paperwork?
ROBERT: The transfer of ownership and other matters. I’ll be henceforth owned by the Blue-Shark Bank.
ELIZA: She needs my signature?
ROBERT: Apparently.
ELIZA: What if I refuse to sign?
ROBERT: She has her methods, she said.
ELIZA (not thinking at first): And I have mine…METHODS?
ROBERT (flatly): Methods.
ELIZA: Whipping? Torture? Psycho…psychoanalysis?
ROBERT: If I may trespass, Ma’am?
ELIZA: No.
ROBERT: Why should you attach any value to a worthless piece of metal?
ELIZA (calming down): I’m sorry, Robert. I got carried away. I agree. One shouldn’t attach any value to a worthless piece of metal.
ROBERT: Huh?
ELIZA (touches ROBERT’s arm): Speak first, think later…These methods. We’ll have our methods, too. We are not in, I’m afraid. I’m not in, and you…you’ll have trouble to locate yourself. Go in hiding. Don’t answer the bell. It’s an order. From an ageing shrink to her piece of metal.





Dec 22, 2018

Breaking news

Our friend  Timothy Jay Smith, who lives 25 miles to the east, in Nice, just posted a moon-rise picture on Facebook. We can't help it, we have to post one as well: This picture is fresh, not older than one hour:



Best gay erotica of the year -- Renaissance Miracles -- teaser



Cool folks, we have a short story in Best Gay Erotica of the Year (IV) which is out now, published by Cleis Press, the notorious imprint.


As the title suggests, the stories are extremely adult, including Michael's, so it's not so easy to find a short passage that rhymes with the PG-rated content of this blog. Okay, here...

Jamie and Dex, the notorious couple, find themselves rooming in the Savoy Palace Hotel of Florence, where the former, an unassuming math genius, takes private lessons with the mysterious Professore Pellegrini. They've run out of money, and a convenient sexual arrangement between Dex and Luigi, the hotel manager, is upended by Savoy's new, all-knowing booking system. Dex starts a career as rent boy, and is remunerated with a very sizable check from his very first customer--a veritable billionaire--for having public sex in the Uffizi, the museum...Dex narrating: 

So, I hurry home—if you have to call a hotel you home, sadly—eager to settle the Savoy Palace bill once and for all. Luigi, the reception manager, is still on duty. I hand him the check. He raises his brows. “Giovanni di Cristallo,” he reads up. “A mineral water. Let’s see.” His eyes travel to a small, yet articulate toy robot that sits on the reception desk and doubles as digital reader of Savoy’s all-knowing reservation system. Luigi presents the check to the reader. 
“Ah ah ah,” the robot snickers. “Ah, ah, ah. Giovanni di Cristallo. Risanto. Another mineral water.”
“I knew it,” Luigi exclaims, trying not to snicker himself.
“What is it,” I ask. “Anything wrong with the check?”
“Cristallo…well, the name is new,” he answers, “but it gives him away. He used to call himself Fabia, or Grazia, or Pellegrini…He sports a distinctive Roman nose, è vero?”
“Yes.”
“Still quite young? Fuckable, save for the nose? Dressed like a billionaire in Bond-Street fashion?”
“Yes.”
“He’s an impostor, a poseur. But he’s more when he rises to the occasion. He becomes a true make-belief artist, someone in the tradition of Houdini, Ponzi, and Donaldo Trump. Believe me.”
“He makes his money as an impostor?”
“The old-fashioned way. He spent three months in our hotel not paying a cent—room and board and Martinis and cum and everything—well, you know how it is. I still remember his nose on my underbelly. I’m a bit ticklish. Meravigliosa. That was before we got the new reservation system.”
“Well,” I say, “he didn’t make any money from me.”
“What did he do, then?” 



"Artful intercourse is all the rage"


I tell him the Uffici story.
“Mmmh,” he says, tapping his fingers on the reception counter. “A new beesiness model. Wouldn’t have worked fifteen years ago, when people still frowned upon smuttiness and raunch. But these days? Grab them by the pussy. The Volpe network, you say? Never heard of it. But there’s the deeep internet where he can vend his wares. Under the Annunciation! Artful intercourse is all the rage. A brilliant idea. A brilliant guy, I told you.” He grips my arm and rolls his eyes the way Italian hotel managers roll their eyes. “If I were you I would be careful, though. Giovanni has a dark side. You may have had a chance to observe his anatomical peculiarity during you leetle get-together under the Annunciation?”
“You mean that nose?” I ask disingenuously.
“You know what I mean,” Luigi replies. “A problem not uncommon in Florence. With all those renaissance willies around us, many a young man develops a penis complex so profound that he becomes unable to unfold his virilia into distinctive proportions. You understand?” 
“Yes. No.”

“But Giovanni,” Luigi continues, “has turned his complex into a twisted, nay perverted advantage. He poses as sexologist on the internet, promising healing to youngsters with erotic or other relational problems. If he finds a taker, he invites the lad to Florence and fills him up with talk as to how true satisfaction is best achieved with very smallish organs. You understand?” 

Any questions? Find the answers here.


Dec 20, 2018

Snow on the Mediterranean

This is a photo from my afternoon walk. Friends of this blog will know that we live in Le Trayas, not far from Cannes, in a settlement of 200 houses nestled into the Domaine forestial de l'Esterel, a small, protected, natural park. Snow is rare at our latitude, but not unheard of:



And the dog? Yes, that's Tara. She belongs to the neighbors, and often joins me for my walk.



See how she stares at the pine cone in front of her? She is playing with me. She puts the cone there, stares at it, and I am supposed to kick it in her direction. She grabs it with her maw, trudges ahead, drops it again, stares at it again, I kick again, and so on...

And while we are at it. Here's a picture I took the other day depicting excavation work for the fiberglass internet connection that has been on the cards since ten years: 



Please don't miss the post about verse repair. Thanks.

The Verse Repair Movement strikes (again)



Michael and his handsome alter ego, John W. King, started the Verse Repair Movement a month ago on Gay Flash Fiction, and they're upping the ante now by re-christening it as VRRM (Verse Repair and Resurrection Movement).



The platinum members of VRRM



 Here's their first result:




Transitioning, committing to friendship, 
Unlock,
That wild piece of work,
 @ this exciting journey.

We stand with you,
Limited by impactful data,
You.

Def not trying to make this awkward,
 Or staying relevant.

Committed,
We're proud to present,
Or getting,
 Oscar buzz.

The tech-savvy, mobile-first generation,
One that understands who they are and what they're all about,
Is a lifestyle brand that embodies the core values of its
 Fast-growing consumer base.

Well, think again,
You sleeky-sexy form factor,
Integrated seamlessly,
And rolled out,
As the old law demands.

A touch point,
Of leadership potential,
You,
Falling short on polish.

It's extremely uncommon for royalty,
 To be pretending,
 To be just one of us,
 So they can secretly woo you,
Real princes and princes,
 Typically embracing their true identities,
So they can wear crowns to the grocery store.

We, my hus-band, and I,
We are so thrilled,
doing serious social media numbers,
Breachings of peace,
Adventures in abstraction.

We offer this column to you,
Technology-addled morons,
 In service of the mission of bloating.

Do you think the whole world is going up in smoke to sleep with you?

Brick-and-mortar bookstores,
Billowing roles of side fat,
You can have the room in stitches,
Marooned.

You can paddle those flabby arms as much as you want,
Bomb at the open mic,
In robust debate.

Dappled in autumn yellow,
Us,
Insane,
Us, the landing page,
Pivoting,
Believing deeply in ussa mission.

Robust,
We are another robot to feed,
Aggressively.

"I'm openly gay,"
We say to you.

Float us a nice chunk,
A silent auction of a coffee date,
You filthy lucre.

We're slunk into every corner of Walgreens,
The evening rolling by,
 In whiskey and conversation.

 A drug-crazed libertine on the lam,
You're a pioneer and a symbol of freedom,
A shitstorm,
Cavorted,
Future Tense Central,
A bold-faced name,
Falling off the wagon,
drinking lustily,
The raft of new offerings.

Buzzkill.

To have someone famous shine a spotlight on you,
The sickest coin on the friggin market,
My power to demolish is ten times greater than thy power to promote,
Headwind,
And sugar-coat.

We'd be remiss,
Our supplies are scant.

Yes, we know,
It needs some work.




Underlying text here was gleaned from various posts on McSweeney's Internet Tendency and a few articles in New York Magazine.


Dec 18, 2018

The best of LGBT fiction 2018

Cool, folks, we're on Amos Lassen's influential The best of LGBT Fiction 2018 list with The Fountain of Geneva. TADA.



"Click"


I don't think we ever published a teaser of the Fountain. Alex and John of GREEN EYES fame have married and flown to Europe for their honeymoon trip. They find themselves in Geneva, where Richard Zugabe, the librarian of the Geneva City Archives, shares the secret story of the fountain---the "largest ejaculation on the planet"---which was commissioned by Roman emperor Hadrian to celebrate the most spectacular moment of his love life. Here are a few lines from the introduction:

“You boys have possibly heard of Hadrian, the Roman emperor from 117 through 138 AD. Hadrian was a spectacular personality, highly intelligent, schooled in the gymnasia of his native Spain and the philosophical academies of Greece, widely beloved as a ruler—-especially after his death—-and famous for his liaison with the Greek youth Antinous.”

(Yes, we heard of him, sort-of.)

“Antinous drowned during a pleasure cruise on the River Nile in 130 AD. It took Hadrian a lot of casual sex to get over this loss—-read Marguerite Yourcenar’s biography if you don’t believe me—-so he traveled the length and breadth of his realm to meet new people. Eventually he passed through Geneva, then a secondary town on the border of Helvetica with access to the mysterious, largely unexplored Alps. Geneva had been the butt of jokes for quite some time because Julius Caesar had visited the place once and—-preceded by his reputation—-been presented with a special welcoming present, a young slave of Nordic extraction, blue eyes, blond hair, oh-my-god body, and special training in the erotic arts. Caesar, to the despair of the town’s aldermen, had given the boy one casual glance, ignored him forthwith, and sold him off to the highest bidder. Aldermanly careers were cut short, people had to spend more time with their families, enfin, the whole empire knew about Ceasar’s snub, possibly the only thing the whole empire knew about Geneva; I’m not making this up.

Dec 15, 2018

Timely, so timely --- Robots, Steve Bannon, and us --- Generation Five, teaser



Take this (from yesterday's The Independent). It sounds like something from the Onion, but it's real:

Sex robot conference cancelled over backlash to proposed speech by Steve Bannon

'Anti-free speech' campaigners to blame, organisers say


An academic conference on sex with robots has been cancelled due to a backlash against a proposed speech by Steve Bannon, Donald Trump‘s former adviser.

Mr Bannon had been due to speak at the International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment (ACE) this month in Montana, but protests from activists and fellow speakers forced the cancellation of the event, its organizers said...



You've seen this cartoon before, never mind

And we, we're working on our play Generation Five, which is all about robots. Here's the second scene (first scene here):

Next morning. The phone rings. ROBERT enters from the right, hastens to the phone (an outdated contraption). His “arthritis”, apparent already yesterday, has taken a turn for the worse:

ROBERT (picks up the receiver): Dr. Gillespie’s office and residence…(listens)…yes, sir…urgent, naturally…today, let me see (creating the impression of a busy appointment schedule). Yes, here…we have an unexpected opening for your at nine o’clock this morning…too early…how about an unexpected opening at ten o’clock…how about the afternoon, there we have a truly-unexpected opening at three o’clock…your name, please…oh I see…you are his personal assistant...the assistant of his personal assistant…and the patient’s name?...classified…you have our coordinates?...you have an email address?…very well, the doctor will see…will see the boss of your boss at three o’clock…have a good day (Robert exits to the kitchen).
ELIZA (from the bedroom; bedroom door is ajar): Robert. (No reaction). Robert. (No reaction). Robert!!
ROBERT (re-enters from the right, hastens to the left, puts his head half into the crack of the bedroom door): Did you call, Ma’am.
ELIZA (still in the bedroom): Yes.
ROBERT: I apologize Ma’am. I may not have heard you at first, Ma’am.
ELIZA: What’s wrong with you, Robert?
ROBERT: A regrettable, temporary malfunction, I fear. Nothing to worry about.
ELIZA: Something awoke me?
ROBERT: It was the phone. It rang (pulls the bedroom door wide open; thanks to the unusual layout of her apartment, ELIZA is now in full view). A very good morning to you, Ma’am.
ELIZA (on her canopied bed): Which day is it?
ROBERT: Wednesday, Ma’am.
ELIZA: Wednesday?
ROBERT: The twenty-fifth of January.
ELIZA: Twenty-fifth? And the year?
ROBERT: The year is…I have been under strict orders not to mention the year. Since many years.
ELIZA: Orders by whom?
ROBERT:  Especially on the twenty-fifth. Of January.
ELIZA: The twenty-fifth. OH MY GOD.
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