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.


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, tells them 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? 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.

Dec 11, 2018

Brexit -- what's next? --- Update

Update:  Perhaps we've underestimated Labour (see last paragraph below). Gaby Hinsliff writes in The Guardian:

But politics is all about opportunism, recognising the moment when it comes and ruthlessly exploiting it...Corbyn’s goal-hanging strategy of letting someone else put in the hard yards over Brexit, before swooping in to electoral glory when it all goes wrong, has served him very well for two years.

Original post:

The six fans of this blog have been clamoring---hold on, it’s only five now, five fans---clamoring that we shine our Machiavellian light on the future of Brexit.

It took us a little while---we were as confused as the prognosticators of The Guardian, for example---but today we had an epiphany, and now we are almost certain what's going to happen. We base ourselves on two axioms, namely:

(1) the axiom of egocentric rationality among the opportunistic supporters of Brexit, ie, Boris Johnson and his ilk. They, of course, are even more Machiavellian than we are, and so they will base their calculation on the

(2) axiom of memory shortage in the internet age.

Here’s their calculation:

(a) May’s Brexit deal will be voted down in Parliament;

(b) Confusion will rule thence; Labour remains split into semi-closeted Euro-skeptics and semi-closeted Europhiles, and unable/unwilling to rally around the Peoples Votes (a second referendum). Britain crashes out of the E-Union with no deal on March 29, 2019.

(c) There will be chaos (read this week’s detailed and fact-filled prognosis in The Economist): traffic around Dover backed up to Manchester; thousands of people dying in hospitals for lack of medication (disrupted supply chains); tear-gassed closures of manufacturing plants (disrupted supply chains), etc. Unemployment surges, inflation surges, housing prices slump. Google relocates to Berlin, unrest in Northern Ireland reignites. The government falls inside weeks. New elections bring about a Labour government.

(d) And now the second axiom: Inside a few more weeks, people have forgotten about its true cause, but the chaos will persist for months on end. AND SO, SOON THE PEOPLE WILL BLAME THE LABOUR GOVERNMENT for all of this shit. Inside a year, the not-so-new government will fall, and a refreshed, reasserted Tory government under the egocentric leadership of Boris Johnson returns to power at the very moment that misery has bottomed out and a semblance of normality returns.

The only factor left out of this calculation is the matter of residual rationality among the Labour leadership. Don’t bet on it.

Dec 10, 2018

Generation Five -- What is Michael doing?

Michael was supposedly working on the sequel to "This Is Heaven," then he was working on a novel about Jamie & Dex, and he's working on a play, the working title being Generation Five. And, yes, you guessed it, G5 is a new, wildly-improved line of household robots. Namely: Dr. Eliza Gillespie, the infamous psychoanalyst lives in the near future and with Robert, a prototype of Generation One---the first generation of household robots created twenty-five years ago by her then-boyfriend Steve ('Frankenstein') Junior. Steve went on to become a master of the universe with his line of highly-inspired, highly intelligent androids and today is Eliza's 50th birthday. Steve will show up with a prototype of G5 ('Dolly') and all hell breaks loose.

Here's how it opens:  

Enter ELIZA (raincoat, umbrella, handbag, undefinable middle age).
ROBERT: A very good evening, Ma’am.
(ELIZA moans, exhales. She half-ignores ROBERT, who steps back.)
ROBERT: Can I help you, Ma’am?
ELIZA (flatly): No. Okay. Here…(hands him the handbag).
(ROBERT grips handbag, reaches for the umbrella.)
ELIZA (evading him): I heard something last night…DRIP, DRIP, DRIP (she casts a suspicious eye at the ceiling).
ROBERT: Not tonight, Ma’am. I…(points at the ladder)…I took care of it.
ELIZA (hands him the umbrella, reluctantly): This deluge must not go on, Robert. Please call the weather service and insist on a significant improvement of the climate.

"Please call the weather service and insist on a significant improvement of the climate."

ROBERT: They’ve discontinued their emergency lines. They have a help page now, with ‘Frequently Answered Questions’.
ELIZA (steps back): This is so cheap, Robert, can’t you think of a better joke?
ROBERT: I am programmed to do my level best, Ma’am.
ELIZA: Alas. Relieve me of my coat, will you.
(ROBERT helps her with the coat.) 
ELIZA: Any good news?
ROBERT: Almost. Algorithmically speaking…You hated them anyway, Ma’am.
ELIZA: Out with it.
ROBERT: Your patients, Ma’am. Tomorrow’s three o’clock patients.
ELIZA: They cancelled?
ROBERT (shyly): Mmhmm.  
ELIZA: Good for them. I forgot their names. What are their names?
ROBERT: That was an issue, yes. You hadn’t used their names in fifteen years, they said. It ‘was the drop that made the camel overflow’, they said. Charles and Charles.
ELIZA (laughs): Charles and Charles?
ROBERT: Were their names, yes. 
ELIZA: They cancelled? I’ll have the afternoon off. Why’s that bad news? You mean like in…forever? Eternally? Gone? (Swipes her sole, as if extinguishing a bug). Like that?
ROBERT (shyly): Mmhmm.
ELIZA: Charles and Charles? A gay couple? You must be joking. They were straight. The woman, the female, she had a mustache. That was their problem. They didn’t have an Oedipus, but she had a mustache. I could never mention her facial hair, of course, it would have been the end of it. And…yes, it would have been politically incorrect. We are not politically incorrect. 
ROBERT: Indeed, Ma’am.

You've seen this gif before, never mind

Dec 7, 2018

Portugal (16)

You know, we intend to move to Nazaré, located between Porto and Lisbon on the Atlantic Coast. This year, in January, it recorded the highest surfable wave on the planet. And now this (give it 30 sec):

Dec 3, 2018

Looking at Hadrian irreverently --- a new review of "The Fountain"

Amos Lassen

Cool, folks, there's a new review of "The Fountain" out, and it's by LGBT-lit-authority Amos Lassen. He normally reviews people like Hanna Arendt and Albert Einstein. And now this: 

I had a great time reading this new and revised history of Hadrian in Geneva. Ampersant is a wonderful satirist and he writes so casually you actually feel like you are having a conversation with him. I am sure that there are some historical facts here (...) This is so unbelievable, it must be true: Roman Emperor Hadrian---yes, him of the liaison with the Greek youth Antinous---is asked to help the Swiss with a crazy, all-male Nordic tribe (...) I can promise you that you will have quite a few laughs.

Green Eyes

Nov 27, 2018

Die menschliche Dummheit ist grenzenlos... father said at least once per day, and here we have another proof---if needed---in Donald Trump's tweet of today yesterday, which is about the connections between his campaign and Russia. Here it is:

When Mueller does his final report, will he be covering all of his conflicts of interest in a preamble, will he be recommending action on all of the crimes of many kinds from those “on the other side”(whatever happened to Podesta?), and will he be putting in statements from…..

….hundreds of people closely involved with my campaign who never met, saw or spoke to a Russian during this period? So many campaign workers, people inside from the beginning, ask me why they have not been called (they want to be). There was NO Collusion & Mueller knows it!

Yes, Donald. There were a lot of people in your campaign (we assume) that never "met, saw or spoke to a Russian". But now look at these little Fenn-diagrams, the most elementary things in set theory:

In your case, we have to deal with the intersection of Russians  (A in the graphic, say) and members of the Trump Campaign (B, say). If they "met, saw, or spoke", they intersect. If they didn't, they do not intersect. The question before us is NOT whether ALL members of your campaign met with Russians, the question is whether SOME did, and, in particular, whether some influential people did---like Donald jr, say, or Mr. Manafort, Mr. Flinn, or Mr. Donald Trump senior. That little green space up there? In the picture above, top-right?

A fallacy is not lying, technically---lying, remember, an activity you despise in others---but it is just as  misleading, and your fallacy here is called "shifting sands." You shift the question whether SOME members of your campaign conspired with Russia to the question whether ALL members of your campaign conspired with Russia. And surely, the answer is...("President Putin, may I introduce you to Sam, my campaign janitor?")...the answer is NO.

Now, lets shift the sand again: What if SOME people, like your base, would be ALL people?

Where would WE be? Where would YOU be? Why would you have to fight for your survival at the hands of  Robert Mueller, a retired FBI director appointed by George W. Bush?


Who said this about whom:

"They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them..."

(a) Robert S. Mueller about Donald Trump?
(b) Donald Trump about Robert S. Mueller?

Nov 23, 2018

What happens when your travel documents expire...

...and you live in France, and you have a Dutch passport, and it's late November...

Photo (as always) by Jason Yoon have to go to Paris, to the embassy. It's the only place where you can renew your passport, and you have to show up in the flesh, you can't do it per mail. Fortunately, the Eiffel tower was in walking distance.

Nov 6, 2018

"N/A--flames out of 5" -- a new review of "The Fountain of Geneva"

"N/A flames out of 5"---yes, one wonders, at least we did until we realized that CrabbyPatty, our reviewer, was talking about "heat levels."

HEAT LEVELS, folks, do you get it? It's code in M/M pulp fiction as to the sexual explicitness of a text under review. "Five" is extreme, and we, we transcend the "five," we are N/A, folks, even though:

(a) the underlying manuscript got accolades from the editors of the Paris Review and an invite to submit more stuff;
(b) the underlying manuscript is a Bowdlerized version of the original manuscript;
(c) pulp fiction circles swim---and will drown one day---in coded expressions---unless they haven't been burned already by their own HEAT LEVELS---but there's one expression that really applies to them---utterly code-less---and which they will never use (the expression)---namely PULP FICTION;
(d) although said circles have already complained repeatedly about our use of the term 'Bowdlerization'---which shouldn't be so difficult to understand/retrieve for anybody with a reptile brain and an internet connection; it's even in the Word dictionary---even our Bowdlerized version makes these pulp fictionaries go 'N/A';
(e) We are the first author to put this heat-level-shit into a literary context in our novel This Is Heaven.

Okay, here's the entire review by CrabbyPatty:

Title: The Fountain of Geneva
Author: Michael Ampersant
Publisher: LustSpiel Books
Release Date: August 12, 2018
Genre(s): M/M Historical Fiction
Page Count: 26
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: N/A flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

“The Fountain of Geneva” is a short novella (26 pages) that gives the reader a very “irreverent interpretation of Geneva’s foremost tourist attraction,” the Jet d’Eau of Geneva. The story is told in narrative form as Richard (the librarian of the Geneva City archives) shares the secret information with two men in Geneva on their honeymoon.
I mean, Hadrian did travel to most of the Roman provinces (including modern-day Switzerland) [M.A.: He traveled all provinces, and was the only Roman emperor to do so] and supposedly was the architect of the Pantheon, but erecting (hehe) a fountain in Geneva to his lover? It’s all a fanciful bit of historical fiction, and not a M/M romance, but entertaining nonetheless. 3.5 stars.

Nov 1, 2018

What's in a name

You need to know a little bit about American politics for this one:

Go and vote your ass off!

Oct 31, 2018

Portugal (15) -- Going home

Eventually, after a month and a half, we went back home. It took three days. Michael is fairly exhausted. We spent the second night in Carcassonne, east of Lourdes, north of the Pyrenees, a medieval fortified town and now a very French city. Here's yesterday's view of the city from the fortified town:

Pictures, as always, by Chang ("Jason") Yoon

Oct 28, 2018

Portugal (14) --- Coimbra

So, we went to Coimbra. This is the central square of the university, one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the world.

Oct 25, 2018

Portugal (13)

All this happened yesterday, halfway between Nazaré and San Martinho do Porto, the next town south. Everybody here looks like our friend Glenn from Baltimore.

And, yes, we suspected it already---Nazaré and Baltimore share the same latitude, with Baltimore at 39.2904° N and us at 39.6012° N. Haha---Baltimore is still a bit to the south. We are going to move here, folks, yes we are. Don't blame us, internet is good. 

There are differences, of course, an important one being the climate. This is the west coast of a continent which is, at this latitude, still untouched by the Gulf Stream, meaning the ocean is cold, meaning the air on the coast is cool. Average highs during July and August in Nazaré are around 22.5°C and 22.9°C respectively (72.5°F and 73.2°F). Compare this to Berlin, Germany, where the numbers are 25.0° C and 24.5°C, or Baltimore, with 31.7°C (89.0°F) and 30.6°C (87.0°F). We have basically a Californian coast climate, and there's fog, although we haven't seen much of it yet.

Bona tarde.

Oct 12, 2018

More beach --- Portugal (11)

This is a few kilometers north of Nazaré, the town with the largest surfable waves in the world:

Oct 9, 2018

Yesterday -- Connubial bliss -- Portugal (10)

You must admit: we are normally not nerving our few fans with selfies, but there you have it: Chang (Jason), and his partner Michael on the Praia do Norte of Nazaré, Portugal, the beach with the larges surfable waves on the planet.

Oct 4, 2018

Portugal (9)

Yesterday evening, shortly before sunset, on the Praia do Norte---a surfing competition is in preparation:

Conditions are quite unfavorable. There's no wind, and the waves are smallish.

Oct 2, 2018

Portugal (8)

We're still in Nazaré, or, more precisely, we moved to Nazaré, which is in some respects the ultimate location. It's the end of the world (photos will follow), but it's also a prime tourist destination with travel buses that can't make it around narrow corners and all the tourist traps you can dream of. John and Alex from the Green Eyes must come visit. You must come visit, too.

We're in Sitio now, the oldest part of the town, on a cliff above the main beach, and this is the view. We had lunch at Restaurante Bohemia, a place around the corner from our apartment, and it lived up to its name, with the owner and his mistress/cook (our guess) getting into a fight. Wonderful. In more than one respect the bizarrest restaurant your rasender reporter has ever been to.  

Sep 26, 2018

The fountain of Geneva --- reviews

We were supposed to put some meat on the last post and share our thoughts about the "The New Dark Age"---that's you and me and Donald Trump and the internet (which he invented)---as seen by the British author James Bridle, the writer who alerted us to the video clip of the previous post. Instead, we got a new five-star review of our novella, mercifully short, and since we forgot to talk about its first review we'll post it as well. Both are on Amazon.

Here goes:

5.0 out of 5 stars
Sexy, quirky and highly imaginative

Format: Kindle Edition

I adored this short story. Loved the poetic language with fun dialogue and vivid descriptions along with a cast of memorable, sexy fauns. A delicious, irreverent portrayal of Hadrian, all-powerful emperor and lusty lover of a boy lost.

James Beamon
4.0 out of 5 stars
A fun and tawdry bit of history

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

This was a really fun look at an aspect of the Roman Emperor Hadrian's time in Geneva, which amounts to one of the most zany sexual conquests I've ever read. Michael Ampersant delivers the story mostly through dialogue, which provides a very casual feel as if an eccentric neighbor is telling you this crazy wild happening in history while you were just minding your business. Grasping some of the surrounding details may require some Googling or a passion for history, but the core is very clear and concise. Well worth the buck just so you can know the story and can tell it to others!

Sep 23, 2018

Portugal (7) -- Can you see the surfer?

You can't, actually, not on the notebook display, where he's screened out by an ad for Ampersant's scabrous story about the Fountain of Geneva. So, here he is again...

...the Portuguese surfer Hugo Vau negotiating a 35 m high wave, already known as "big mama", on 19 January 2018---the Guiness Book of Records is pending as to the highest wave surfed on record. And all this happened barely nine moths ago in Nazaré, 100 clicks north of Lisbon, Portugal, a place we visited today. 

(And the reason for these super-waves? We quote Wikipedia: "Nazaré is a popular surfing destination because of its very high breaking waves that form due to the presence of the underwater Nazaré Canyon.[8] As the canyon creates constructive interference between the incoming swell waves, it makes their heights much larger on this stretch of coast.")

Constructive Interference, folks--we were always wondering. Next time you have an argument with your spouse...think of us.

Marry me!

If history "teaches" anything, it teaches irony...and so, here we are, with a set of "propaganda" posters distributed before the Sino-Soviet friendship frayed around 1963 (in those days both countries were "Communist"):

Ironic? Yes, because of the homo-erotic vibes, which, like the waves in Nazaré, anticipate gay marriage.


More of this in Michael Ampersant's Green Eyes

Sep 22, 2018

Portugal (6)

Yesterday we had almost--almost--posted this picture in our quote-unquote series (note the caption)...

More of this in Michael Ampersant's Green Eyes

...and then, today, we get this...

...with little Michael in the thick of it, on the lookout point of the cliffs between Figueira da Foz and Quiaios. Being a painting, the first picture, by the Turkish artist Taner Cylan, is fiction, but the second one is pure photography by Jason ("connubial bliss") Yoon, and it is real. Here: 

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