I have not read any of the late Erich Segal's academic books on Roman comedy but I did read Love Story -- and also the sequel, Oliver's Story. "Versions of the Pastoral"! In 1972 a former Marine who I'm sure had never willingly read any other book of fiction told me how moved he had been by Love Story. It really is authentically great and I don't want to patronize it. This was a tremendous achievement. It appeared at the same time as The Godfather -- both of them contributing phrases that have permanently been assimilated into the language. The Godfather was in part an attempt to write an American Brothers Karamazov -- and parts of Karamazov are a lot like Love Story. Ave atque vale!
Test Drive the 800 Pound Elephant!
"The 800 pound gorilla" and "the elephant in the room" are tired old business
metaphors. Substitute the 800 pound elephant and watch what happens!
Use the 800 pound elephant to describe:
>> An important project that's badly underfunded
>> Someone who's lost a great deal of weight but still looks fat
>> Now YOU think of one!
Hi, tigers! I've realized that I can support myself as a writer by making a series of inspirational (and substantive!) posters and cards available to the arts community. This is the first one. Go right ahead and download it. In fact, they're all going to be free. I'll get rich from advertising on my website and by fees from speaking engagements!
For the past few weeks I've been creating a series of interactive workbooks on topics like affiliate programs, website design, dropshipping, and internet marketing. It's the first time I've done any graphics and I'm really excited about the possibilities. I'm far from adept but the hours just fly by! It keeps me from going meshuginah. Or does it?
Times are still hard...
Almost a hundred years ago, Edna St. Vincent Millay was one of the best-known women in America and certainly the best known female poet. Though she's been unfashionable for many years, I predict a comeback -- for reasons explained below. Anyway, true talent is never a matter of fashion for those who strictly meditate the thankless muse. Certainly that included Papa Hemingway, who said of Vincent (as ESVM liked to be called), "She could hit them with the bases loaded":
Tenderly, in those times, as though she fed
An ailing child -- with sturdy propping up
Of its small, feverish body in the bed,
And steadying of its hands about the cup --
She gave her husband of her body's strength,
Thinking of men, what helpless things they were,
Until he turned and fell asleep at length,
And stealthily stirred the night and spoke to her.
Familiar, at such moments, like a friend,
Whistled far off the long, mysterious train,
And she could see in her mind's vision plain
The magic World, where cities stood on end...
Remote from where she lay -- and yet -- between,
Save for something asleep beside her, only the window screen.
In 1920 Vincent began her love affair with young Edmund Wilson, whose books Memoirs of Hecate County and To the Finland Station are sexual allegories of this torrid and inflaming time. "Bunny" and Vincent used to amuse themselves by shooting nude figure studies of the poet, of which some excellent prints still exist. The pictures are now in the possession of the Library of Congress, but are under an embargo...until 2010. Yes, that's why I predict the start of an ESVM revival beginning as soon as next week!
But as a reader of the Best American Poetry blog, you don't have to wait until next week. Through my contacts in the government, I've been able to obtain a few of "Bunny's" quite excellent photographs. I submit them here to your connoisseurship, including the brief notes that "Bunny" scribbled on the backs ---->>>>
Here's a link to a good article about Vincent, including mention of the photographs and shared optimism for revival of interest: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200110/mallon
In the old days -- that is, in ancient Greece -- the male citizens of Athens used to gather each year in the amphitheater and, together, recite the Iliad from memory. Poetry was really popular! Well, it's still popular, relatively speaking, as I will now show.
In this video Venezuelan actress Mercedes Brito tells what coming to Hollywood from Caracas has taught her. There are a number of interesting things about Mercedes Brito. First, she's absolutely bilingual, which I always find kind of spooky. Second, she has 250,000 Facebook followers, and whenever she posts anything on her Facebook page at least a thousand people immediately comment on it. So take it away, Mercedes Brito ---->>>
Mercedes Brito is huge, right? Well, not so fast. Most of her fans are probably Venezuelans -- and as Mercedes Brito herself admits, America is a whole new ballgame. That's why, when Mercedes Brito goes against Jorie Graham in a Youtube faceoff, Jorie Graham kicks her ass ----->>>
Yes, at the time of this writing Jorie is beating Mercedes by a score of 2700 views to 640. So I hope I've restored your faith in the public's taste. But let's not get carried away. To provide a bit of perspective, here once again is the all-time most popular kitten video, with 14,000,000 views and counting --->>>
My favorite movie scene is the one where the detective and his wife are sound asleep and the phone rings on the night table. The detective quickly awakens, picks up the phone, and says, "I'll be right over" or "I'm on my way!" I feel really safe and secure whenever I watch a scene like that. It's so very familiar, like an old shoe. Versions of it have been in lots of movies but never enough for me.
Along the same lines, sometimes when I'm stuck in a a traffic jam (happens every day) I listen to call in shows on the NPR station. Often a caller will complain that the attention wasted on celebrity gossip or other drivel should be devoted to serious topics like health care or climate change. Whenever I hear that I get the same warm, reassuring feeling that comes with the scene of the detective waking up. I feel the same way when somebody says that lots of other people were killed in car crashes like Princess Diana but there were no newspaper articles about those people. I love it!
So if you feel so inclined, please "make my day" by inveighing against the two video clips below. The first one appeared just yesterday. It's a nice long "Today Show" interview with Tiger Woods' girlfriend Cori Rist -- and it couldn't be more wonderful! I love everything about this interview and I've watched it many times. I really don't think any detail has escaped me. And yes, yes, I should be watching interviews with Joe Lieberman, which makes it even better. In fact, just thinking about Joe Lieberman (or Paul Krugman, if you prefer) in conjunction with this video gives me a tremendous rush of Mr. Snoid-like pleasure. Lawrence Summers and Cori Rist! Timothy Geithner! OMG!
But that's not all. How about a "cute kitten" video that has gotten almost twelve million views?! Think of it! The cute kitten video is 17 seconds long. Multiply 17 seconds by twelve million and you've got a lot of time that could have been devoted to Joe Lieberman, Paul Krugman, or climate change. Where's the phone? I've got to call NPR!
I could go on and on. But without further ado I
offer these two masterpieces for your pleasure or annoyance, as the
case may be.
More movie pitches...
Hey Kids, What Time Is It?
A down and out ex-ballplayer meets up (but does he really?) with characters like Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy on the subway. He gets taken to the psych ward but when his case is publicized he starts speaking on college campuses and his sex life revives.
Told from the intercut points of view of a college student’s laptop; an old lady’s laptop; the laptop of a traveling salesman; and a laptop in public library being used by a man who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania but is now a homeless man. We see who these people really are and who they pretend to be in internet chat rooms, blogs, emails, and on social networking sites like Beautiful Surrender and Facebook. But the computers are the real heroes.
Please Kick Me
A lovable animated pig joins forces with a major league umpire who made a bad call in the World Series and with the help of the umpire’s 10th grade daughter, a science prodigy, they switch places so the pig becomes the umpire and the umpire becomes the pig. But all hell breaks loose because the pig is a huge Yankees fan.
Locked in the Bathroom
When his grandmother accidentally locks herself in the bathroom of an Olive Garden restaurant a survivalist named Peter Polinari looks everywhere except the Olive Garden bathroom and in so doing gets himself into deep financial trouble. Finally, when he has to choose between finding his grandmother and the wilderness, he chooses the wilderness – but we know she’s already gotten out so “no harm no foul.”
A small-town insurance man wakes up one morning with the ability to play world-class tennis but nobody believes him except this one nerdy high school kid who makes a video of the insurance man playing tennis and posts it on Youtube. Before long the insurance man is playing in the finals of the US Open but then he forgets how to play tennis (like when Dumbo loses his magic feather) and the nerd has to go into the broadcast booth with John McEnroe to explain this to millions of viewers.
The Main Course
Remember in 2005 when that ex-Soviet spy was allegedly poisoned by radioactive smetena (sour cream) at a London restaurant? What about in 2006 when another ex-Soviet spy (a beautiful woman) was also allegedly poisoned by radioactive smetena? Or in 2007 when a third ex-Soviet spy (secretly working for the CIA) was allegedly poisoned by radioactive smetena? Debbie, a junior at the University of Pennsylvania , starts to connect the dots but all hell breaks loose when her professor makes her eat smetena.
A rookie police officer with an extremely high voice gets partnered with a veteran police officer who also has a high voice and the unlikely team hits the streets of L.A. for run-ins with the Mexican mafia, brutal gang murders, and corrupt cops, but because of their high voices nobody takes them seriously.
Careful What You Fish For
Naomi is a 30-something attorney who thinks she’s found the perfect man (Bob) but when he doesn’t call after the first time they sleep together she does some investigating and finds out he’s the male equivalent of a mermaid (merman?) so she turns for help to her girlfriend Drew who works at the aquarium and who can actually talk with fish. So after explaining Naomi’s problem to some fish, Drew releases the fish into the ocean where they network with thousands of other fish to find Bob.
Like a Bumblebee, Kick Like a Mule
The life and times of the first mule ever to kick a field goal in the National Football League from his birth on a farm in Maine to the last ten seconds of the Super Bowl which is between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Diego Chargers (the mule is playing for the Chargers, who are two points behind ) and the coach puts him in, but something goes wrong with his hoof, so instead of kicking the field goal he has to try to run for a touchdown. (Ball was on the thirty-five yard line.)
Opportunity, children’s furniture stores
He called himself Blatchford Sarnemington
That night they all ate pork rinds. Name from
‘The Scandal Detectives,’ Fitzgerald story
None better than Scott put yearning on a page
So he called himself Blatchford Sarnemington
That night they all ate pork rinds. See, he was
So frustrated craving the attention of Valkyria
As she called herself, young Cuban fem
Going to Northwestern. Later they married
But by then he called himself Lou Belmont,
$$$ was the object of desire, nay pussy,
Nay pork rinds, nay progress by any means,
And he read Scott’s last letter,
to the IRS.
And he read Scott’s last letter, to the IRS.
Lucky for us she's always love to get naked!
Watching her jog by canal, she gets butt naked,
Runs around, also giving peeks while stretching,
All the while people jogging by! Home, she picks
A vibrator and then tries out the Vikbraking Toy!
She’s horny again once more in the bathroom!
She loves it! Very vocal about her experiences
And she shares it with us in energetic manner!
Then in a little bikini she masturbates over again
Using the very same toy combination until she
Is too sore to continue! At an Italian restaurant
She continues to have fun flashing her breasts
And licking cream off of them! Then she wears
A sexy black dress & heels and does a dance
To her favorite music! It turns into striptease
Until she is completely naked! Then she has
Amazing experience with the Vikbraking Toy
That puts her in a crazy multi-orgasmic state!
Lucky for us this petite girl at busy sports park
Practicing soccer, we notice she isn't shy at all,
Flashes her breasts right there! As busy as it is,
She gives us peeks between her legs then juggles
The soccer ball topless! Then even more risky
She takes her shorts off and gives us perfect butt!
Running around naked, she gets horny and uses
Two vibrators to masturbate her strong orgasms,
And even better she does it again on a glass table!
She's enthusiastic showing off her 'mature' side,
First giving her feet a nice massage with cream,
And teases us with her shoe heel! At fancy resort
She poses for us in sexiest manner, masturbates
With her shoe heel right there! Deep penetration
Leads to another masturbation which brings her
To three orgasms, then she tries a larger toy
That barely fits inside her! A little lunch break
And she's back home for masturbation to orgasm!
Lucky for us while sleeping naked on the covers,
Her man plays with her cute butt then uses vibrator
On her and gives her a very hard breast massage!
It leads to this girl masturbating again, then going
For fun skinny dip in the pool, then she puts on
Some cute panties and stuffs deep inside her
And then slowly pulls them out! She discovers
The powerful Vikbraking Toy, she masturbates
With the Toy to another super-strong orgasm!
She goes out with only her lingerie and heels,
Poses for us at a resort, risking getting caught
In the beautiful locale! She visits another park
For more of her teasing and finds herself teasing
Another guy who gets real pleasure out of it!
Then at nearby tourist area she's teasing again,
And going to adult toy store she picks out a toy,
Has a bubble bath with hard toy penetration and
More masturbation on a bed in cute red nightie!
Lucky for us the Girl Next Door returns, we see
Her in the cute hairdo then watch her try on new
Summer dresses! Finding open area by a resort
She takes out her pink vibrator and masturbates
To a nice, strong, natural orgasm, walks topless,
Then takes her dress off to parade nude at resort
And back home wears the cutest lingerie & heels,
Finds the Vikbraking Toy and uses it like a toy
And vibrator at the same time to have an orgasm!
Some flashing at restaurant and back to the house
For the two vibrators she used before to become
A double-stuffing experiment! Getting horny from
The experiment she goes to the full length mirror
Then watching herself masturbate to orgasm,
And that evening she's doing one last experiment!
At the restaurant she talks about her education,
Speaks some Turkish and flashes her breasts,
Taking three vibrators inside her shocks even she!
Lucky for us we see the cute blonde in purple dress
walk by! She smiles for us and flashes breasts and
Risking it further she fingers herself on the steps
Of this place and shows off her butt! Going in store,
She flashes again and then videotapes herself
Trying on several outfits in tiny changing rooms!
Going home, she has a very special silver wand
She uses to masturbate to nice long strong orgasm!
However, not enough the first time, she masturbates
Again to her second even bigger stronger orgasm!
Goes to the park and tries to masturbate but is caught
By a female shopper nearby! Another spot she finally
gets to strip down in a sexy way, fully naked outdoors!
Indoors, putting hair in pigtails, she gives bubble butt
A nice hard massage and then moves to her breasts!
She gets intimate with us and with the introduction
Of the Vikbraking Toy she walks into a full elevator
And we watch an orgasm! Lucky for us! Good wishes!
I'll drive you to the airport.
Get in the car and I'll
Drive you to the airport.
I'll drive you to the airport.
You want to go someplace?
I'll drive you to the airport.
Come on, let's take a ride,
Pack your bags and
I'll drive you to the airport.
I don't care where you go,
I'll buy the ticket. Seriously,
Because I've had it up to here.
I'll drive you to the airport.
Just don't come back.
Do me a favor. Shut your mouth.
Do us both a favor. Keep your
Mouth shut for twenty minutes.
See if you can accomplish that.
Do me a favor and do yourself
A favor. Twenty minutes is all
I'm asking. Shut your mouth
For twenty minutes. Ten minutes!
Five minutes! Is that too much
To ask? Five minutes of silence.
Is that an impossibility? A fish
On the wall -- you never see
A fish on the wall with its mouth
Shut. Which tells you what?
I'm sick and tired of it.
I've had it. I've had enough
Of it. It's gone on too long,
It’s taken on a life of its own..
It never stops. I literally
Can't take another minute of it.
I'm going to lose my mind if
I have to listen to it again.
Jesus Christ, it never stops
From morning til night,
Day after day year after year.
Do I deserve this? Have I done
Something to bring this on myself?
Oh my God! Dear God help me!
Mitch Sisskind is the author of two books of short fiction, Visitations and Dog Man Stories. He edited The Stud Duck, a literary magazine. Like Ludwig Wittgenstein, he does not care what he eats as long as it's the same thing every day. Like the late Robert Irsay, who made a fortune in the air conditioning business and owned the Indianapolis Colts, he tries to address everyone as "tiger." Like Rocky Balboa, he knows what's important is not how hard you can hit but how hard you can get hit and still keep going. But he does not know how hard he can get hit, yet. His poem "Like a Monkey" is included in The Best American Poetry 2009. The Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd, Westwood, CA Details here.
My parents were lonely geniuses.
Their letters to each other—heartbreaking.
I found them in a plastic bag in a closet,
my twentieth year, when my mom was in jail,
and I was trying to sort out the life they’d given
my siblings and me. You were the
I’d ever met they’d each written to the other.
But they couldn’t function like other parents.
It was all yelling and name-calling
and eventually knives and guns. And I grew up,
wondering where smart would get you.
But it always seemed better than the alternative—
my friends, whose parents had plenty of love
but no books, no imagination, a limited vocabulary
with which to rip out the heart of the beloved.
This was written for April's National Poetry Month “Poem-A-Day
Challenge.” Shaindel Beers' most
recent book is “A Brief History of Time.” She lives in eastern
It was suggested to me that, as a sort of continuation of Mark Strand's posting about beautiful women in Hollywood, I could write something about attractive men. It's an interesting opportunity. For one thing, I think of myself as a male lesbian -- with that identity's idiosyncratic response to men. I'm not turned on by them either as objects of desire or of identification. But maybe that gives me a useful objectivity about what makes men attractive to other people, especially to women. And I do wonder about how that works.
To get our feet wet in this vast topic, I will consider the film Giant -- in my opinion a gigantic masterpiece that deserves much fuller discussion than it can get here. In this film we meet a number of actors whom I believe most people would consider attractive in their different ways: Rock Hudson, James Dean, Dennis Hopper, and even Sal Mineo. But I'll speak only of the two male leads, Rock Hudson and James Dean.
Rock Hudson initially presents as an old fashioned "hunk," though without the grudgingly suppressed violence that's apparent in the hunk of hunks, John Wayne. Hudson is big and strong, rich, good looking, and doesn't seem burdened by too much intelligence. He's a fairly conventional handsome man. I believe audiences of all eras would have recognized him as such, whether on stage or screen.
But James Dean is something very different. He's not physically strong. He looks down at the floor. He sometimes has a kind of stammer. He seems brittle, breakable.
In these two characters, appearing in the 1950s, we have avatars of both the past and future attractive man. True, James Dean-style characters have always been around. Rimbaud was a good one: "I've lost my life though sensitivity." But they were rarely official leading players. The years after Giant saw the ascendancy in pop culture of the skinny, sometimes even flaccid attractive and sensitive male. It really went into orbit with Lennon and McCartney. Meanwhile, the bulky hunk a la Rock Hudson has been devalued in the heterosexual marketplace.
You have to understand that for men in the 1950s the hunk seemed like what you had to be or at least had to want to be. In the famous "Charles Atlas" ad on the back of comic books, the skinny guy got sand kicked in his face by the muscle man -- so he had to become a muscle man to win back the girl. After James Dean, the skinny guy gets sand kicked in his face and then he gets laid.
There's a lot to say about Giant, and we all know that Rock was gay and James Dean was "everything." In fact, the film is much more in touch with these ambiguities than I may have suggested above. In one of the final scenes, Rock the hunk gets in a fistfight with a bully -- and he loses! He gets sand kicked in his face! "Quel
étonnement!" (Flaubert) What's more, Elizabeth Taylor loves him now more than ever, or maybe loves him for the first time. She says something like, "I've never seen you so strong as when you got punched by that gorilla." It's a wonderful scene, and a forward-looking one, though maybe we're now in a retro Don Draper era. Whatever, dudes. Onward.
--Wandrers Nachtlied (1780)
Over the hills
Comes the quiet.
Across the treetops
No breeze blows.
Not a sound: even the small
Birds in the woods
Just wait: soon you
Will be quiet, too.
from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman
THE RULE OF THUMB
Ringfinger was nervous
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.