Satiated by Museum Dick Cake

As promised, we held the first meeting for our erotica book club this past weekend. At first, some potential book club members hesitated at legitimately reading the novel, Insatiable by Heather Hunter, so we more freely advertised some of the hilarious passages that made this book the pleasure that it is, like:

George had a museum dick. The kind you could just stare at and wanted to show to your friends, as if it were an exquisite piece of art. It was thick and long and perfectly tanned, as if it had been strategically placed on an Italian beach at high noon.

Now, "museum" dick is a permanent phrase in my lexicon, as well as about a dozen other people who followed through with reading the novel and come prepared. Hosts Terri and Christine were also more than prepared. They made sexually-charged food items that were a riot including a two-toned mocha museum dick cake. For the record, all of these adjectives are ways that penes (yes that is a legitimate way to pluralize the word penis - Preston and Michael would recommend that you listen to the dictionary voice pronounce it) are described in the novel. I dare say that it was the best dick cake I've ever eaten.

Other clever themed snacks the fine hosts provided were "Popped Cherries," "Cheese and 'Crack Whores,'" "Chocolate Covered Nuts," phallic shaped kabobs called "Dick on a Stick," and Angel's contribution of semi-peeled plantains he titled "Banana-Flavored Teenie Weenies" that looked so authentic that initially people were afraid to try them.

While the food was intricately planned, I wasn't sure whether the discussion portion would actually take off. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised by the results. For such a trivial novel, we took on some heady issues like gender, sexuality, race, love, rape, and exploitation.

Insatiable is a coming(tehehe)-of-age novel about a young woman who progresses from a naive virgin to prostitute to stripper to porn star. Though the novel is technically fiction, it's a semi-autobiographical account of porn star Heather Hunter's life. While Hunter would be surprised to learn that you've never heard of her, you probably don't know her as none of us readers did or admitted to it, anyway. I'd believe that she was a reasonably big deal as she was the first African American female to gain induction into the American porn hall of fame.

None of us connected to the narrator. Firstly, she's conceited to a fault (though Hunter seems to believe it's not conceited if it's true). Secondly, it's difficult to root for a character when she faces no adversity. Each step of the way, she meets someone who effortlessly advances her career because they recognize her "natural talent," whatever that means. It's actually infuriating to watch someone so fortunate stumble onto so many opportunities. The one setback is when she meets a hip hop mogul who doesn't want to hear her sing, instead requesting a blowjob. She was upset, but followed through with the oral sex anyway. Don't fret, however, later in her life she has another opportunity to rap for a producer who immediately recognizes her "natural talent" (that phrase gets thrown around a lot) and wants to get her in the recording studio immediately. What can you say? The girl's got it.

Even at the end, when she's trying to put porn behind her, she comes across as pathetic. In an effort to start fresh, Simone resolves to find a normal relationship. She dates an up-and-coming film director who recognizes her from porn and "accidentally" touches his penis and arouses him. She then commends herself for conducting herself in a normal first date manner. Only in the land of Museum Dicks would she think this is how the average person behaves.

Furthermore, Simone is a hypocritical narrator. You can tell she doesn't respect her own industry from her frequent branding of her colleagues as "freaks." The sex her coworkers have for money is gross and degrading, but Simone never puts herself in that category. Simone is better than that; with her, it's a combination of talent and destiny. Whatever.

My favorite character is Chyna, Simone's pointlessly mean stripper rival. On one occasion, Simone complains that Chyna is "nasty, gross, and disgusting." Three consecutive synonyms is piss poor writing. The pair constantly attempts to show one another up on the stage, leading to the greatest, or at least filthiest, scene of the novel.

"The groom smiled as I flipped him over on all fours and rode him like the dog he was. As I yanked on his belt and smacked his butt, the crowd threw money at me and begged to be next. Of course, this made Chyna jealous, and knowing she had to kick it up a notch, she grabbed a customer's beer out of his hand just as he was turning it up to take a swig and went back over to the groom to bounce her big titties in his face. The groom bit and nibbled on her voluptuous breasts for a few seconds before Chyna placed the beer bottle down onto the floor of the stage. All of a sudden she broke out and did a split on top of the beer bottle with her pussy lips wrapped tightly around its neck. She then proceeded to do a handstand, gripping the bottle with her love muscles before emptying the frosty liquid inside her sugar walls. The men went absolutely insane and the women were in shock. I even had to sit up on the groom's back and watch the bitch in amazement before I got up and conceded defeat."

You may be wondering whether Chyna's name is any indication of her ethnicity? Enlighten us Heather Hunter:

"[Chyna's] microscopic golden-colored braids gently swept across the crack of her rotund behind and her eyes were slanted like she was some distant kin to Bruce Lee."

Three cheers for racial insensitivity. Actually, this book is a big mess of racial ignorance and stereotypes. I naively believed this novel might have some progressive racial politics, but many of the characters are broken down into neat little stereotypical boxes with indicative names to avoid any confusion: Carmen is the vivacious Latina whose dialogue is peppered with the word "chica." Ebony is the sassy black friend. Cherokee is the wise Native American stripper. She is a "first people" in the porn world, knowing the lay of the land and the ins-and-outs of the industry. She is able to provide valuable information to Simone, who commends her for "speaking the truth."

Also, while being ogled by a stripping scout, Simone "felt like a fertile slave on an auction block in Mississippi." Rather than getting critical toward the industry, in the subsequent sentence, she excuses him for just doing his job. It's peculiar how a writer can evoke these topics then miss the point completely.

Alas, the writing was pretty rank, too. Just as Simone has never met a cock that doesn't satisfy her completely, she has never written a simile she doesn't like, as well. The book is literally inundated with horrible similes that show as little discretion as Simone does with her sexual partners. (Yes, I did just make a simile, but mine was good.) Hunter also tends to give her figurative language a pop culture focus.

After his climax, I let go of his pants and twirled up from the floor just as the song ended. I curtsied like a cute ballerina who had just performed in The Nutcracker Suite, which in a way, I had.

"spinning herself around in a circle with her hands reaching toward the heavens like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music."

"In a little bit of a Steve Urkel kind of way, Derek overcame his shyness and removed his clothes." (HOT!)

"applauded as if they had just seen Princess Diana." [Back from the dead?]

In a word: laughable.

And, of course, we discussed the sex. In Simone's world, every time is amazing, if you'll believe it. There's not even average dick: every man she encounters has an oversized genitalia and knows how to use it. After hundreds of incidents of intercourse, she's bound to run into one subpar performance, right? They can't all be that good, which let us clubbers to wonder if she's never actually had good sex and just believes that it's all good?

Perhaps you've fantasized about strippers having lesbian affairs behind the scenes while they're not busy seducing men. According to Hunter, that's true. Strippers love to have sex with each other, even while flying on commercials airplanes, and generally they giggle and compliment each other while they do it. When a fellow female adult entertainer boasts to Simone that she can make her cum with any part of her body, Simone coos that her new friend's "foot was like a perfectly sized dick." Last I checked, a toe is hardly comparable to a museum dick. Perhaps less is more?

Then there's this ridiculous rape scene that's included for all of the wrong reasons. As much as it would be a powerful statement to show that just because someone is sexualized and exploited as an occupation does not mean she can used without consent, it didn't gel. She only somewhat cares that this incident occurs then proceeds to have consensual sex within 24 hours later. Our group decided that the notable part was the control aspect that mattered to Simone. The act of having sex was just about meaningless to her at this point, so it was the inability to possess power in the situation that upset her. Besides, had she not been so coked out she was unable to speak, I'm sure she would have agreed to the encounter to begin.

If Simone believes she has standards, she is delusional. At one point, she gives a guy a blowjob, then congratulates herself for not letting him penetrate her vaginally during their first meeting. Another time she vows not to sleep with a guy the first night. Instead, they have a conversation in bed, fall asleep, then have a lot of amazing sex when they wake up in the morning. On a third occasion, she declares that she was "ready to give him [her] pussy the moment [she] met him." As if that is some sort of distinction with this girl.

The most heated discussion of all, however, revolved around around Heather Hunter's gender. Many club members believed Hunter to be a transexual based upon the photos that accompanied the book. (That's right, she included a provocative photo of herself between each chapter.) With just a little internet research, we were able to inspect an image of her vagina, so now we're fairly convinced that Hunter was in fact born a woman.

All in all, Insatiable was a sometimes amusing, often excruciating read. While romance novels tend to have a lot of plot that builds up to a couple of climactic sexual sequences, Insatiable has sexual encounters in every chapter. It's overkill and there were times I was begging just to have more plot and found myself skimming the sex scenes. Before reading it, I wouldn't have anticipated that being the case, but smut can be surprising.

For our next choice, we wanted something with a bit more plot and a bit more class. Hence, we selected Fanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland. Written in the 18th century, the novel is considered a classic and was subject to censorship in its time. According to the back of the book:

The Bishop of London called the work 'an open insult upon Religion and good manners' and James Boswell referred to it as 'a most licentious and inflaming book'.

The story of a prostitute's rise to respectability, it has been recognized more recently as a unique combination of parody, sensual entertainment and a philosophical concept of sexuality borrowed from French libertine novels.

I've only sampled it, and I must say it is a much better read, though equally as funny with its humor stemming from written wit rather than atrocious similes. Cum on and read Fanny Hill. Won't you join us?


My Minute Newt

What if I owned a small newt? Why, I'd call it "my minute newt." My minute newt. My minute newt. It's a fun phrase to say, especially in a singsong manner. My-my-newt-newt. Say it fast and focus, and you can feel your lips tingle from the vibrations.

I rush to a room full of people to share my new favorite phrase. Most people grasp the concept of "my minute newt" after hearing it a couple of times. Raumene just shakes his head. "I don't get it. I don't get it." We try saying it slow and with different intonations, but he's still perplexed. Excitedly, the others are still saying it back to themselves, which frustrates Raumene more. He tries to push through it himself. "My my newt newt." "My-my-nute-nute?" Finally, he beams, like a baby that's just passed gas. "Wait, I got it!" Everyone smiles now that it's finally dawned on him. "Ready?" he asks, eager to prove that he's figured it out. "My my dog dog!"


The Museum of [In]tolerance

Prior to yesterday, I had never visited the Museum of Tolerance, though I had heard good things about it. Well, mostly. When Katy was in eighth grade, eir class took a trip to the museum and she encountered some trouble. While touring an exhibit on genocide during World War II, Katy's stomach began growling and making funny noises that caused eir peers to laugh. Irritated, the guide warned Katy to stop since the museum was not a laughing matter. Of course, a growling stomach is not easily controlled. With most other bodily functions like yawning, burping, and farting, you can at least make an honest attempt to stifle them, but that is not exactly the case with a growling tummy. Consequently, Katy's stomach persisted, as did the children's laughter, prompting the guide to chastise Katy in front of the whole group for being disruptive and disrespectful, then kicking eir out for eir indiscretions.

Fortunately, Katy had an caring history teacher who sat with eir, gave eir some food, then later forced the guide to make a public apology. Still, this didn't change the fact that Katy had missed most of the tour outside while sobbing in embarrassment. Nevertheless, it probably only qualifies as eir second worst field trip after the infamous butcher accident.

In spite of the Museum of Tolerance's display of intolerance, I was still interested in visiting. I'm not particularly wild about promoting "tolerance," however, as tolerance is essentially the least one could do. Consider things you tolerate: a nosy neighbor, a roommate's proclivity to leaving out dirty dishes, humidity in the summer, television advertisements. To say you tolerate something is hardly complimentary. It means that you put up with something, not appreciate or respect it.

A former coworker of mine once pointed out that "tolerance" is actually a reasonable goal. Given the hate speech my former students used, if I could get them to a state of merely tolerating people they claimed to revile, that would be a significant accomplishment.

In a time of crisis, I'm going to the Museum of Tolerance for protection. Airports are more lax in their security precautions. After searching our car's trunk and taking the metal detector quite seriously, Terri quipped, "Excuse the pun, but they're Nazis about security here."

As it turns out, the Museum of Tolerance misrepresents itself, or at least has a misleading name. It is almost exclusively a Holocaust history museum. I should have surmised this fact sooner though from the context clues. En route, I witnessed a disproportionate amount of Hasidic Jews, which is not exactly a common sight on most Los Angeles streets. While I'm in favor of tolerating Jewish people, I'm also in favor of tolerating other groups of people, too. Well, except for South Americans. And women.

Truthfully, I had trouble tolerating the Museum of Tolerance, as I found it boring. I'm pretty well versed on the Holocaust, so it was almost entirely redundant on a personal level. That said, I do believe it is a good resource, particularly for my former students, some of whom had never heard of it previously. Since it is important for people to understand and learn from human travesties, I respect its existence as an educator if not an individual.

Most of the exhibits included audio components that droned on for far too long. Furthermore, the doors that led from one room to another were stuck shut until the designated audio track came to completion. "I feel trapped," I whined to my companions before deciding they might be trying to replicate the feelings of being in a concentration camp.

One whole floor of the museum is devoted to "Family," which didn't make sense thematically initially, but upon further reflection, I suppose most of us could use a lesson in tolerating our family. In the exhibit, celebrities pay homage to their families, which was hardly moving, unless you count that it prompted us to move through the corridors in record time. The exhibit's celebrities include Billy Crystal, Carlos Santa, and Michelle Kwan. The museum employee referred to the last one as "Kristi Yamaguchi," however, demonstrating both an inconsiderate lumping of Asian-American figure skaters and a distinct lack of tolerance.

After sweeping through a photography exhibit, we followed the exit signs to a staircase. The staircase seemed unfinished, however, so I was a bit dubious about our approach, and felt even worse when another party of people followed us out, assuming we were doing the right thing. (Yes, another connection to the Holocaust.) The door at the bottom of the staircase then dumped us outside to a fenced in slab of concrete where some guys were playing a game of pick-up basketball. We made an attempt to reenter and retrace our steps, but we discovered ourselves locked out. A security guard assisted us out onto the street from a side entrance, apologizing and explaining that we weren't the first to assume that the emergency exit signs were just normal exit signs. (I'd blame the lack of the word "emergency" on the signage, but perhaps that's just me.) In other words, we were accidentally locked out of the Museum of Tolerance. Although we could have made an attempt to get back in through the normal entrance, dejected, we took this as a sign to leave for real. After all, as I learned from testimonies that day, the key to survival was escaping when it started looking bad and not waiting until it was too late.

That said, there was thing about the museum that made the whole trip worthwhile, though it wasn't even a part of the museum itself. On the residential streets surrounding the museum, every single house has multiple signs announcing: STOP The MUSEUM of TOLERANCE EXPANSION. The irony just about killed us. I could not stop laughing at the myriad of signs.



You Can't Beat a Woman

Anna and I made some donations to the local goodwill store this afternoon, then stopped to browse the clothing. I didn't buy anything, but if I had, it might have been one of these t-shirts.

It's funny in a "it's so unfunny that it's funny" way. I decided that wearing it would be dishonest, as I always double layer my t-shirts in order to avoid being obscene.

I went on the Maury Povich show and all I got was this lousy t-shirt. And a life unburdened by child support payments.

In the third grade, I probably would have found this shirt cool and bought it. I was pretty sassy.


You try arguing with this sentiment.

You ask, is that referring to what I think it is? Given that the fine print is the name of a domestic abuse organization, I'd say yes. The beauty of this shirt, however, is that someone cut off the sleeves and the neck to reconstruct the shirt into -- you guessed it -- a wifebeater.


Kevin Is Sayin

A while back, Facebook added a function called "Status" on which people can put a brief message about what they're "currently up to" in order to inform their friends. Rather than stating the obvious ("Kevin is procrastinating on Facebook"), most people share a random detail from their lives to brag, joke, or call attention to themselves. For most people, a status change once or twice a week is sufficient. For others, a few times a week gets the job done. For "Rita," updating it every few minutes seems the way to go.

I attended elementary school with Rita, going all the way through high school with her. It's probably worth noting that we haven't spoken since elementary school, so I was surprised recently when Rita requested to be my "friend" on the social networking site. Feeling indifferent to the request, I accepted the friendship and figured I wouldn't give it a second thought.

As it turns out, in the following days, I learned more about Rita than I ever thought I'd know. She changed her status regularly to let me and her hundreds of other "friends" know that she was experiencing some kind of ordeal with realtime updates.

As a blogger with a tendency to over-share, I'm not really in a position to criticize someone for posting eir personal business on the internet, but I'll take any accusations of hypocrisy to state that I think informing one's not-so-nearest-and-dearest of petty shit is crazy. What follows is a transcription of what appeared on Facebook:

5:17 pm Rita so happy that she got her shit together and don't got time for all the high school drama.
5:20 pm Rita is loving her new phone.
5:21 pm Rita is so over all the drama and thinking people should stop lyin on her.
6:48 pm Rita is sayin its funny what bitches would do to get my attention lmao.
8:48 pm Rita is sayin can't wait for tomorrow and me and my babys trip to trinidad.
8:55 pm Rita rita is sayin im goin to put it out there if people that has known me for 8years would think I would go out my way to pretend to be someone else to write some shit on a page wow if I ever did think that I would let ppl know I got my own shit to deal wit so come on now think what u want cause certain ppl say shit and that's word on my daughter.
9:00 pm Rita is sayin word on her daughter that I had nothing to do wit ANY of that and trust the ppl that did it will be caught out emails can be traced remember everything that is done in the dark will come to the light.

8:29 am Rita is sayin she will miss her babies while she's at work.
6:00 pm Rita is sayin true friends remains true to u no matter what the situation is.

10:07 am Rita is at work excited to see my babys new car.
12:42 pm Rita is missin her harry wishing she didn't have a cold.
3:41 pm Rita rita can't wait to get out of work.
5:27 pm Rita wow this is funny.
5:35 pm Rita is saying to much cimpe.
5:37 pm Rita is saying ppl wanna act like they r to good for ppl now that htey all cool its all good lmao.
6:17 pm Rita is sayin regardless of everything that is goin on im happy for my health and my babygirl and my baby and our family.
8:02 pm Rita is sayin stop bein a stupid little dumb bitch and if you got shit to say to me come at me dumb bitch u do all that shit for attention call my phone.
8:23 pm Rita is sayin this bitch got me so mad if it was me show me some proof come at me like a real women not sum dumb chicken head bitch.
8:29 pm Rita is thinkin if this dumb bitch don't shtu the fick up stop kissin ass to be friends wit ppl that all u do is talk shit about come at me bitch.
8:30 pm Rita is thinkin id this dumb bitch don't shut the fuck up and stop kissin ass to be friends wit ppl when all u do is talk shit about come at me bitch wit proof.
8:35 pm Rita is sayin to that dumb young bitch keep my muthafuckin name outta ur mouth and stop lyin on me so u can have friends if u got shit on me come at me grow up bitch.

2:46 pm Rita is at work thinking about how immature this bitch really is.
4:18 pm Rita is sayin I haven't forgotten about you that was a nice message don't worry I got u.
4:52 pm Rita is ayin fuck that u on my side fuck that fake bitch she saty talkin shit.
6:35 pm Rita is sayin I was outta it until somebody brought me in it I didn't have nuttin to do wit it until I got lied on.
7:02 pm Rita your bitch wanna see me tell her to come see me tonight.
10:29 pm Rita is sayin she is don't she got everything off her chest now she gonna let her man handle it peace out ppls.
10:30 pm Rita is saying she is done with all the drama now she gonna let her man hanlde it peace out no more status changes or messages im out.

It's kind of vague to follow exactly what's going on, but Kevin is sayin that he finds this all amusing for all of the wrong reasons. Kevin is not considering renewing a friendship with Rita. Also, Kevin is quite glad that his life is boring and lacks any reports of this variety to share with y'all.


And You Thought Your Life Sucked

I’m digging another student essay out of the vault for your enjoyment. Actually, I can’t guarantee that you’ll laugh, but your jaw just might drop in horror. I still remember when I first graded this paper a year and a half ago in a Las Vegas hotel room with Michael Michael, RJ, and Laura (which means I have people that can vouch for its authenticity, doubter Lewis!) and our reactions fluctuated between shocked and amused.

For context, this essay was assigned after teaching Elie Wiesel’s novel Night, a Holocaust survivor’s memoir that has previously caused some drama between an unintelligent coworker and me. After reading that book, I thought it appropriate to have the students write their own autobiographical narratives. To give it additional focus, I asked that the students use a theme that also appeared in the novel like overcoming an obstacle, conformity, perseverance, questioning faith, or witnessing injustice. It is worth noting that I never once asked the students to compare their personal experiences to Wiesel’s; that would be distasteful. Perhaps you see where this is going…


Hi my name is [Clueless Clark]. I’m going to tell you how I struggled to find a job. This was a hassle because it was my first job and you have to fill out all this paper work. This kind of deals with the Jews struggling for their life but less series.

When I went to get a job I filled out all these application on the store computer. Some computers were slow and others fast while some stores didn’t have a chair to sit down so you had to stand up the whole time which was about an hour. At the end of the application you felt like you accomplish the world. If you don’t fill out application to different stores it is just like saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. If you do pick one store then you have to keep up with it and set up an interview.

This struggled is a different kind of struggle like what the Jews had with the Nazis. The Nazis were making the Jews slaves by making them work with no pay and just a little of food to stay alive with no good health. If they didn’t work they would be killed and burned. While I struggled to get a job the Jews struggled to stay alive.

So when I pick my one store that I really wanted I kept up with it and did all the stuff I had to do. When I went to do the interview and past it I knew I just open a door to a new place. When you accomplish something that you are really trying to reach your goal you feel like the king of the world. But once you accomplish something you always got something else to but you never try to accomplish something at the same time because most of the time you wont or you will be working yourself to hard which isn’t good for you.

All in all if you try really hard and do everything that’s need to be done then you will reach your goal. The accomplishment would be the best thing you will every do for yourself.

By, [Clueless Clark]

Ah, yes. Having to stand for an hour is kind of like dying senselessly in an internment camp. I defy you to think of a better sentence than “While I struggled to get a job the Jews struggled to stay alive.” (I suppose there is this other Nazi-themed student gem.) I’m currently undergoing a job hunt, as well, and though it hasn’t exactly been going well, it hasn’t been that bad. However, maybe after another unsuccessful month, I’ll consider my experience on par with the Holocaust, too.

If anything deserves to be flippantly compared to the atrocity of genocide, it’s this essay.


Live Like Animals

Quick: Name an epic theme song from a famous 90s movie.
. (spoiler space -- think before scrolling down)

Most likely, you've thought of one of the following songs:

"My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion from Titanic
"I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston from The Bodyguard
"Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio from Dangerous Minds
"Everything I Do (I Do It for You)" by Bryan Adams from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
"I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith from Armageddon

One song that I'd wager that you didn't think to name is "The Animal Song" by Savage Garden from The Other Sister. You should have thought of it, however, because it's hilarious and inappropriate. Hilariously inappropriate even.

In case you're not familiar, The Other Sister is a 1999 film about a pair of mentally challenged young adults who fall in love. I've never seen the film, so I can't comment on whether it is meaningful or exploitive, but I worry it is the latter given its choice of theme song.

Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but I feel that people making a movie about individuals with mental disabilities should especially consider the messages their film is sending, including those that are underlying. In "The Animal Song," the chorus repeats the line, "I want to live like animals," a notion that undermines the film's theme of showing the capabilities and humanity of people with mental disabilities. Sadly, there are people who already think of mentally challenged individuals as animals; having a supposedly progressive film (perhaps inadvertently, but how could that be?) draw the comparison doesn't really aid in enhancing societal understanding. At first I believed that the music director made a poor choice for a theme song, but then I researched the matter and discovered that Savage Garden wrote the song specifically for the film, making it a big mistake by everyone involved.

To make matters worse, the song is just inane. It's catchy, sure, but the lyrics, which I suspect attempt to be poignant, are just ridiculous. I'm confounded by one line in particular:

"Animals and children tell the truth, they never lie. Which one is more human? There's a thought, now you decide."

Thanks for giving me some food for thought, Savage Garden. I'll be pondering this question for ages. There seems to be an obvious answer, but maybe it's a trick question. Besides, I definitely know children who lie. Maybe that makes them less human than animals. I sure feel as though I've been challenged mentally anyway.



Every time I visit my grandparents, we inevitably end up dining out at one particular restaurant. It's a haven for senior citizens; invariably I am the youngest person in the establishment by at least a few decades. Consequently, it's also a popular location for funeral receptions, including my grandmother's where I avoided the priest after an uncomfortable encounter.

This time, as we entered the dining area, I saw a room scattered with seniors. Though this space is normally eerily quiet, the usual silence was disrupted by a pair of diminutive elderly women shouting at one another.


I had even taken my seat, and I was already stifling laughter. There's nothing like an aged, loud, judgmental voice lecturing about societal roles and the consequences of not rigidly adhering to it. I had missed the parts of the conversation leading up to this point, but I knew I would have enjoyed it.

As we ordered our meal, their shouting continued and was distracting by virtue of being so loud. Even if they had not been so noisy, I would have found it distracting since I would have been trying to eavesdrop. These two were so unintentionally, they could have been a comedy duo.

According to my grandparents, they came to the restaurant frequently. Charlotte was hard of hearing, so her friend Doris* would shout everything at her, prompting Charlotte to shout right back. Doris did most of the talking, and every time Charlotte piped up, Doris made it her mission to make Charlotte feel stupid.


I twitched with glee at each shout of "philandering husband." They had their meals cleared, but I didn't want it to end. Fortunately, they were interested in having desert. Doris ordered a slice of pie, while Charlotte requested ice cream, a move that met Doris's ire.


Personally, I keep my ice cream in the freezer, but I think Doris is probably the type of person who keeps it in her fridge, then screams at it once it has melted. The conversation yelling turned to the condition of their health.

"I DO..."

Wise words from the shouter. Meanwhile, my grandparent was trying to ask me about my future plans, but I had trouble holding a conversation while the following occurred:


Of course, I'm laughing, and have to apologize twice for not being able to follow the conversation in which I'm supposedly participating. Just when I thought Doris forgot about nature calling, the issue must have become more pressing.


Doris makes her way toward the back of the dining room looking for the restroom. She appears a bit lost, so she excuses herself to the people at the table in the back.


Undoubtedly, these folks heard her intentions during her earlier proclamations, but I'm sure they appreciated the personalized explanation. Then, Doris disappeared behind the curtain in search of the restroom. We could no longer see Doris, but we could still hear her.


I bet she wishes she waited until getting home. Once she returned to the table, the pair squabbled over plans for later in the afternoon. Doris wanted to see a performance in Kingston, but Charlotte wasn't interested.


Ah, Doris pulled the ultimate senior citizen trump card. It goes without saying that Charlotte doesn't have conflicting plans.


Doris's words were potentially sage and definitely loud, but I hardly blamed Charlotte as I suspect she just had her fill of her companion for the day. The server returned to the table with the check and, in an act of honesty, explained that they had significantly overpaid their bill.

"OH MY!"

The pair began readying themselves to return to their car. While Charlotte bundled herself to combat the downpour, Doris did what she does best: responded critically.


At that point, they (slowly) walked out of my life, but I wanted to get up and follow them, even in the rain, in order to transcribe their hilarious discussions. These women were pure gold. Forgive my Olympic allusion, Doris.


A Month of Movies

I've mentioned previously that I have an aversion to going to the movie theater. When I do go, I prefer to see artsy or meaningful flicks rather than the blockbusters to which everyone else flocks. In the past month, however, I've behaved out of character and seen three mainstream, action/sci-fi films.

First up: Hellboy 2, which I had no interest in seeing. "It's way better than the first one," someone assured me, even though that comment meant nothing to me due to a lack of context. Granted, if Hellboy were an angsty coming-of-age film or a teenage adaption of Paradise Lost, I'd be in without hesitation. Seeing this flick, however, required a lot of peer pressure on my friends part, and I'm ashamed to admit I caved. Thank goodness I was only pressured to see a film and not do heroin; then again, with heroin I would have at least had a good time as the travesty unfolded.

There was only one preview, so when the film began and I saw a little demon child on the screen, I asked my friends, "What is that?" "That's Hellboy!" they told me as if I were stupid. I'm not sure that my confusion makes me stupid, but it did illustrate how little I knew about the film. Perhaps if I had known a little more, I would have had the information necessary to resist having to see it.

I was so disinterested in the flick, I got out of the car at the drive-in, and laid on the pavement to try and take a nap. To be direct, I was dozing atop a rough surface with my face on discarded, hardened gum and it was still preferable to staying alert through Hellboy 2. Besides, I figured if I was committing to a hellish experience, I might as well fully commit.

My biggest gripe is the story line. I found myself agreeing with the so-called villains and rooting against our protagonist Hellboy. The "villains" were leading a campaign to stop the human race from carelessly causing the extinction of other species. Hellboy, however, was aligned with the humans and aided in killing all non-human creatures in order to allow human survival and perpetuate their careless ways. So Hellboy is a traitor to his mutant kind, but that's okay, because humans are supreme beings that deserve to have all other creatures die in their wake. It doesn't matter that the humans prove they will turn on Hellboy in a second, Hellboy thanklessly keeps them safe. Now, I recognize that humans are the audience of this film, so it's best not to vilify them, particularly not in the context of a blockbuster, but I have trouble understanding why a writer would attempt to address this heady environmental issue if only to manipulate the message into utter crap.

Also, I have to agree with Terri's (pssst: Terri is blogging now) feminist perspective. All of the film's superheroes are cool and crazy looking, aside from Selma Blair's character who looks just like every busty woman character ever in a film. True to her super power, she catches on fire occasionally, but not so intensely that it clouds the view of her boobs. Also, rather than being permitted to be a real hero, she's regulated to being Hellboy's love interest. Just when Hellboy is about to give up hope in his mission, Selma saves the day. Not through a feat of brawn or brains, but by revealing that she's pregnant, a revelation that consequently gives Hellboy the motivation to continue. At the end of the film, we learn that her main super power is being super fertile: Surprise! She's having twins! Hooray for demon spawns!

The second film was The X-Files: I Want to Believe. I was a fan of the television series a decade ago, so I was eager to see it. A couple of weeks prior to the film's release, I even asked Michael if ey knew anything about this movie that was supposedly "in the works" for ten years or so. Having heard nothing, I had no idea that it was actually coming out anytime soon. Then, I saw a TV commercial advertising the premiere just two days later and was shocked. How come I hadn't heard anything prior to now? I figured that The X-Files has always been an enigma, so it shouldn't come as a surprise.

Curious, I immediately went to look up the film's synopsis. I wanted to know whether it would be necessary to re-watch the first film first to remember where we last left off. The synopsis read as follows: "A crew of miniature aliens operate a spaceship that has a human form. While trying to save their planet, the aliens encounter a new problem, as their ship becomes smitten with an Earth woman."

I was baffled. That sounds like Hollywood crap, not mysterious, offbeat X-Files. As it turned out, I had accidentally read the synopsis for Meet Dave, one of those movies that stars Eddie Murphy playing nineteen characters instead. Note to self: skip Meet Dave.

On its opening night, Michael Michael and I made plans to go see the X-Files. Ey scoped out times at several theaters, and we ultimately chose the 8:10 screening at the cheapest one. We arrived at 8:05 and I commented that we made it just in time. Michael insisted that for an 8:10 showing, we were actually early, factoring in the previews. Ey ordered a ticket for the 8:10 show and then I requested the same after em. While receiving my ticket, I looked at the marquee and saw a 7:40 show, but not an 8:10. The next time listed was 10, so I thought, "oh, they must have ran out of eights, so they just put the 10."

We dawdled at the concession stand before finally entering our theater, surprised to discover the movie had already started. Maybe this place shows their previews before the actual show time? we whispered. We figured we had missed five minutes tops, so we'd catch up quickly. I wasn't sure what was happening in the movie exactly, but it's the X-Files, so when have I ever understood what was going on?

The film was suspenseful at points, but boring. If it weren't for the fact that it resurrected familiar characters, I'm sure it would have been universally panned. The story line was - I'll say it - dumb. I felt cheated: I waited ten years for that? Perhaps I should commend the film like Michael did for not going overboard like you might expect a film in its position to do, but it was severely underwhelming.

At the end of the film, Michael checked the time and commented at how quickly the film was over. Then ey checked the ticket stub and noticed that the film's start time was marked as 7:40. In other words, we missed the first half hour and hadn't really noticed. Whoops. At this point, I'd like to add to my disappointed review that maybe the first half hour is amazing and makes a difference in the viewing experience. At any rate, the truth is out there.

The last film was The Dark Knight. I heard lots of positive feedback about it from, well, the world at large, but I was in no rush to see it, to the point that I had to be coaxed into it. I cited Hellboy 2 as precedence for not seeing it, but in this case, I'm glad I didn't listen to my gut. I'm not a superhero action movie kind of person, so I wasn't expecting to enjoy it, but to my surprise I loved it. The Dark Knight has what most films in its genre do not: a good script. Visuals and fight sequences can only take you so far, but when you pack it with a solid plot, dialogue, and themes, then you can still create a stupendous movie. Take note, ... well, just about everyone in the biz.

Truthfully, I think Christian Bale's kind of a dud, but Aaron Eckhart is talented and actually had the lead role over Batman if you factor in screen time. Additionally, Heath Ledger was wonderfully frightening. Sure, I heard people gush over his performance, but I didn't believe it until I saw it for myself. I assumed people were resorting to hyperbole as a nice gesture after Ledger's death. The only way Ledger could play the role more creepily would be if they dug him up and had his corpse reprise the role in the sequel.

In summation:
Hellboy 2: Hell no.
X-Files: The entertainment is as elusive as its start time.
The Dark Knight: Dark and Right.


Kije's Ouija

After hearing many creepy Ouija board stories during my youth, I tried on several occasions to receive a message from a spirit. Unlike most kids, however, my partners and I were never freaked out by our experiences. Since our curiosity prompted honesty, no one ever moved the piece to force a message. Instead, we had a string of non-corresponding consonants with far too few vowels. In retrospect, maybe the resulting message was a cryptogram that required further deciphering.

Given the band's previously discussed strong, strange breed of Christianity, I was surprised to discover that Free Design had its own song about the occult game.

Enjoy the tune here: The Free Design - Kije's Ouija

"Is it bad, Kevin?"
Did you have to ask? Granted, it's catchy, but these lyrics...

There was a gentleman from way up north and Kije was his name.

And he got strange answers from a magic board ‘cause Ouija was his game.

Kije’s Ouija, Kije’s Ouija Board

Kije’s Ouija, gee, we should’ve believed, believed before

I took my favorite lover way up north,
we packed our boots and skis

And we found as a lodging Kije’s magic house-
there he sat with a board upon his knees.

Kije’s Ouija, Kije’s Ouija Board

Kije’s Ouija, gee, we should’ve believed, believed before

Then he asked us would we like to sit and learn about magic,

My Ouija board will set you straight on all that’s happy or tragic.

We sat right down to scrutinize the weird old indicator

Neither did we understand or believe it.. till later

Kije’s Ouija, Kije’s Ouija Board
Kije’s Ouija, gee, we should’ve believed, believed before

It told us that some wise old angel had prepared for us a special treat
that everyone who kicked a little dog would surely lose his feet.

And everyone who shook his fist in anger soon would be shaking in bed,

And every single time a curse was said
someone’s tongue would surely drop from his head.

Now many more like this the angel will send, but you could do yourself much worse.

Just push a couple buttons, let your favorite bombs completely cover over the earth.

Now the angel’s curse has come and gone, but everyone knew that.

We didn’t need a Ouija board to give us any clue

that the way we lived was far from right,
the first curse came to reckon.

No one dares to ask old Kije ‘bout the second.

Kije’s Ouija, Kije’s Ouija Board
Kije’s Ouija, gee, we should’ve believed, believed before.

Things that are awesome:
* The implied promiscuity in the fifth line: "I took my favorite lover"
* The morality lesson in puppy-kickers losing their feet
* Evidently, angels communicate via ouija boards
* The sarcasm about the apocalyptic bombs is nearly lost in awkward syntax


Where's the Beef?

My favorite game from college is one we invented called Where’s the Beef? It started after I brought a piece of steak home from the dining hall, subsequently forgot about it, then later found it more or less petrified. Having let it gone to waste, I resolved to put it to use, and Where’s the Beef? was born.

To play, the hider goes into a non-participant’s dorm room with the beef in eir pocket, strikes up a conversation with the room’s dweller, and while this resident isn’t paying attention, hides the beef somewhere in the room. Once the beef is successfully concealed, the hider shouts loudly, “WHERE’S THE BEEF?!” This battle cry alerts a crew of about five people secretly standing just outside the door to come find the beef. These beef-seekers jog into the room in a single file line while rhythmically clapping and chanting, “Where’s. The. Beef. Where’s. The. Beef.” If done correctly, the room’s inhabitant doesn’t even know beef is hidden in eir room, so it becomes quite puzzling as a handful of people start rummaging through your personal possessions chanting something about beef. Of course, it is against the rules to explain what is unfolding until after the beef has been found, since half the fun is watching the game’s unwitting host grow flabbergasted, then ultimately confused when a piece of beef does indeed turn out to be hidden in the room.

It’s best to play this game in the rooms of acquaintances, since that provides enough of a reason to invite yourself in without rising much suspicion and they tend to more readily brush it off as an amusing experience afterwards, though it has been known to work with strangers, too. The reaction of the patsy varies: some laugh at the experience, some want to play the game as well, and some find it gross. (“Ew, did you really put beef under my pillow?”) Regardless, everyone’s a winner when playing Where’s the Beef?


Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

After a lot of discussion about starting a book club, we finally got one off the ground. The first selection was Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, a book about sustainable eating. While we initially intended to start an erotica reading club, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle became the first book almost by accident since three people were already reading it. I agreed to read it, too, though I reserved the right to quit it if it were not up my alley. Growing squash isn't exactly riveting.

Fortunately, I really liked it. Kingsolver is a great writer and eir perspective and humor make the book quite readable. The book follows a year of the Kingsolver clan growing their own food and eating locally for a healthier, eco-friendly lifestyle. Occasionally, I had to put the book down when I had enough of reading about canning tomatoes, but it wasn't long before it struck my interest again. Plus, the book has a thriller of an ending: (SPOILER!) the family doesn't harvest enough food for the long, cold winter and must eat one of the children to avoid starvation. (Warning: your copy of this book might include a different, more optimistic ending.)

For a lot of reasons, the lifestyle Kingsolver models isn't practical. Most people don't have the land, resources, and time necessary to tend to large gardens and raise fowl. Nevertheless, it was an admirable example, and I looked forward to using this text as the basis of discussion. While we wouldn't focus on symbolism and character development like with other books, it was a great inspiration to discuss social and environmental issues.

Although I had read the book, I still wasn't prepared for what I encountered. Greg and Melissa offered to host the first meeting and put on an impressive showing. They made food following recipes from the book and using ingredients fresh from their garden. Their home is beautiful and I reckon it was the most legitimate dinner party I have attended in my adult life. I brought beer manufactured locally by a solar-powered brewery and Terri attempted to buy a locally made wine, but the storeowner discouraged eir, suggesting it was gross.

Though I had prepared some discussion points, they all became pretty irrelevant as we snacked in Melissa and Greg's backyard. My intention was to figure out which of the ideas from Kingsolver's book were actually achievable in our everyday lives, but Greg and Melissa were clearly already nine steps further than I expected any of us to be. Truthfully, between their garden and culinary capabilities, I was intimidated, but in a good way. I anticipated having perhaps outcome-less conversation about how to address the food situation, yet instead was met with an up-close example of real people who I know, like, and respect living out these ideals to a reasonable, practical extent. It challenges me to go beyond thinking hypothetically and actually acting.

One of the main talking points was vegetarianism, which was not an easy conversation for me to have with three vegetarians. In the book, Kingsolver surprisingly argues that meat consumption is a positive practice so long as livestock is raised humanely and purchased locally. Terri argued that it seemed like Kingsolver's pro-meat stance stands in opposition to the rest of the book and that it appears to be a justification of eir own habits rather than the most sound approach. Though I'm practically a carnivore by profession, I have to agree with Terri's perspective. As I've expressed previously, if I was being a better environmentalist, I would cut down on my meat consumption significantly; the grain required to feed animals to plumpen them up for our table could feed more people than the chicken could, for example.

One of my favorite passages from the book appears on page 90:

Of the 400 million turkeys Americans consume each year, more than 99 percent of them are a single breed: the Broad-Breasted White, a quick-fattening monster bred specifically for the industrial-scale setting. These are the big lugs so famously dumb, they can drown by looking up at the rain. (Friends of mine swear they have seen this happen.) If a Broad-Breasted White should escape slaughter, it likely wouldn't live to be a year old: they get so heavy, their legs collapse. In mature form they're incapable of flying, foraging, or mating. That's right, reproduction. Genes that make turkeys behave like animals are useless to a creature packed wing-to-wing with thousands of others, and might cause it to get uppity or suicidal, so those genes have been bred out of the pool. Docile lethargy works better, and helps them pack on the pounds. To some extent, this trend holds for all animals bred for confinement. For turkeys, the scheme that gave them an extremely breast-heavy body and ultra-rapid growth has also left them with a combination of deformity and idiocy that renders them unable to have turkey sex. Poor turkeys.

So how do we get more of them? Well you might ask. The sperm must be artificially extracted from live male turkeys by a person, a professional turkey sperm-wrangler if you will, and artificially introduced to the hens, and that is all I'm going to say about that. If you think they send the toms off to a men's room with little paper cups and Playhen Magazine, that's not how it goes. I will add only this: if you are the sort of parent who threatens your teenagers with a future of unsavory jobs when they ditch school, here's one more career you might want to add to the list.

When our family considered raising turkeys ourselves, we knew were weren't going to go there.

I think one way to make amends with my meat consumption is to eat better (sexually active?) meat rather than no meat. Now I'm at a point where I have to decide to turn my newly acquired knowledge into action. It's easy to be aware of issues, but another to do something about it. Am I going to start planting my meals? Eh, probably not. But I can resolve to take baby steps. Each week I'm going to find one new way to make my diet more sustainable, even if just slightly. Maybe it will be a trip to the farmer's market, maybe it will be finding a way to buy locally raised meat, or maybe it will be be eliminating a food product that requires being shipped across the country. If you're so inclined, ask me what I've learned or resolved in order to keep me honest about my efforts.

Oh, while I'm on the subject, I should request that you do the same with exercise. I honestly would be appreciative if you were to ask me, "How many sit-ups did you do today, fatty?" Thank you in advance.

Anyway, we finally completed our first book. Though it wasn't smutty unless you count the multiple in depth references to turkey sex, henceforth, we'll transition into an erotica book club. The next selection is Insatiable by Heather Hunter. It's a fictional account of Heather Hunter's own life and rise to porn stardom. It's so intense that many of the passages make me blush or just laugh. If you think you've heard every nickname for genitalia or read literature's worst examples of figurative language, then I challenge you to take on this book. The LA county liberry has 32 copies for your convenience... and wildest desires. Anyone interested in joining our mailing list should let me know. As with any orgy, the more the merrier!


Happy Third Birthday

Happy Birthday, Kevin Babbles!

As of today, this blog is three years old. Taking into account my teaching career lasted only two, I consider this quite an feat. Like I did at the
second year and first year anniversary, I have compiled a list of the most memorable posts from the past year. Peruse at your leisure.

25. The time a student taught me a life lesson.
24. The time I fell prey to imitating the media in a rambunctious fashion.
23. The time I was drunk and lost on the streets of NYC on New Year's Eve.
22. The time I observed a racist elementary school teacher.
21. The time as a child I brought swearing to the playground to appear "bad."
29. The time I uncovered an animal kingdom conspiracy.
19. The time I was accosted by a bigot at a lesbian bar.
18. The time I showed up for a party at the right address, wrong city.
17. The time Michael and I got seriously injured in a "race to the car."
16. The time I asked my students for fashion advice.
15. The time Anna and I were yelled at by a semi-successful rock band.
14. The time my student turned me Asian.
13. The time I witnessed the grossest thing I may have ever seen. (Warning: involves poop and vomit.)
12. The time my bank accidentally awarded me over $25,000.
11. The time I explained my complicated history with Britney Spears.
10. The time I found myself caught up in a crime ring.
9. The time I chaperoned a cross-country running meet.
8. The time we brought grammar back to the local parade.
7. The time my student threatened to kill me.
6. The time I pleaded for a less-prejudiced view toward robots.
5. The time I read my students' essays on the ideal qualities of a President.
4. The time I worked for Clear Channel and was swarmed by homeless people.
3. The time I learned that my students were pregnant.
2. The time I made anti-semetic Easter eggs.
1. The time hippies drugged me in San Francisco.