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 suggest, 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.

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 now...now 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
"Click"


Nov 27, 2018

Die menschliche Dummheit ist grenzenlos...



...my 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?

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