Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Like Story

[This one's from February 2003—could be "Romantic & Sexual Defeats Pt. 2."]

    The gods love me; I don't know why.  There's something about me that just sort of rubs them the right way, I guess.  Maybe it's that I can take a joke and joke right back at 'em.  Even Poseidon likes me.  It's really funny: I make fun of his beard all the time.  Like, I'll look at it and I'll say, "I'll have the tuna, the salmon, and the eel sashimi."  And he'll be like, "Get out of town," and I'll be like, "You get out of the town."  Poseidon's pretty funny.
    But the best is Athena.  She used to be pretty cool toward me, a real tough cookie, you know, and she'd look at me through sort of suspicious eyes, but one day at one of their parties she pulled me into a closet and grabbed my crotch and got all up in my face with her gray eyes pretty much blazing, and she said, "I'm not waiting any longer," and we did it right there in the closet.
    I only told one of my friends about it, the next day, and he thought it was a dangerous game.  "You are entering a world of pain," he said to me.  This was my man Robbie, who wasn't afraid to tell me if he thought I was playing a dangerous game or entering a world of pain.  I didn't always agree with him, but I always liked to hear his thoughts.
    "Naw, man," I told him.  "You have no idea how sweet this was."
    "A world of pain," Robbie said again.  "You know what happens to people who fuck gods?"
    "What happens?" I asked him.
    "They get turned into shit," he said.  "Or they get torn apart by crazy women."
    "They get what?" I asked him.
    "Torn apart, dude," said Robbie.  He held up his hands like blunted claws.  "They'll scrabble the flesh right off of you, while you're still alive."
    "I'm sorry," I said.  "Who did you say is going to do this?"
    "All I'm saying," said Robbie, super patiently, "is that this is no like college girl or even someone you're picking up at a bar."
    "I know."
    "This is Aphrodite."
    "Athena.  Aphrodite's too bubbly for me."
    "OK," said Robbie.  "Athena, then.  All I'm saying," he said again, "is that I'd like to go to bat for you, man, like if you ever get in trouble?  But I don't know if I can go to bat for you against, like..."
    "Apollo," I suggested.
    "Exactly," said Robbie.  "You know I'd jump into a bar fight for you."
    "Would you?" I said.
    "Yeah, I would, and you would for me," he said.
    "Huh," I said.
    "But a bar fight with, like..."
    "Zeus," I suggested.
    "Exactly," said Robbie.  "That's, like, thunderbolts and shit."
    I knew that Robbie may have been right, but, like I said, the gods like me so much.  Zeus showed me his thunderbolts one time.  He even let me pick one of them up.  ("This is a nice one," he said to me, "but I've got one at home that's twice as big."  "No shit," I said to Zeus.)  So I wasn't too worried about it.  Maybe Robbie wouldn't go to bat for me, but who needs Robbie at bat when you've got Zeus; am I right?
    The real problem turned out to be that I started to like her a whole lot, Athena.  And one day when we were in the closet, because that's generally where we did it, standing up, I had been drinking a lot of that nectar they've got, and I said to her, like, you know, "Are you my girlfriend?" or, "Will you be my girlfriend?" or something like that, and then she went all cold again like some kind of statue.
    "Why did you ask me that?" she said.
    "What do you mean, why did I ask you that?" I said.  "I like you, and we've been fucking for a while, you know, and I'd like you to be my girlfriend.  So what's so wrong with that?"
    And she said, "I can't be anybody's girlfriend.  I'm a goddess."
    "Well that's stupid," I said, and I'll admit that sometimes when I get drunk I can get a little hostile and maybe say things I shouldn't say or at least not the way I should say them.  I mean, it was stupid: who cares if she's a goddess?
    Anyway, Athena readjusted her toga and just left the closet without a word, and I could tell I'd really hurt her feelings.  So I went after her, but I couldn't find her, and I asked Hermes if he'd seen her, and he said he'd seen her leaving.
    But so why did I even want her to be my girlfriend?  I asked myself this in a bar later that night as I was sort of just, I'll admit, sort of sulking a little.  Why do you have to have girlfriends?  Wasn't it OK that she just liked me?  "But does she even really like me?"  I said that out loud, looking at myself in the mirror over the bar behind two copies of a mess of liquor bottles.  My hair was a little messed up in a way that looked really cool, but I had circles under my eyes and didn't look all that hot overall.  I asked myself again: "Does she even really like me?"  How could I possibly know?  I didn't know what the hell she was thinking.  We didn't talk all that much; we just screwed in the closet.
    Now I started to feel really stupid for asking her to be my girlfriend when she maybe didn't even really like me that much and maybe just wanted some simple humping and not a lot of sappy talk about girlfriends and boyfriends.
    I thought back to my last serious girlfriend, Hannah, who was a second-grade teacher.  How had I screwed that one up?  For a minute I couldn't even call up the story; it was like I was trying to remember the end of some dumb movie I saw like a hundred years ago.  Hannah met some guy, single dad, and he kept taking her out for coffee and I got all jealous because one, who's this guy taking my girl out for coffee, and two, this guy happens to be this like super-rich banker when I'm, let's face it, the gods might like me, but I've never been much of a business success story.  And I sort of messed up by leaning on Hannah about it, getting maybe a little drunkenly belligerent, and she left me for this guy, so then I was thinking, like, was she going to leave me for him anyway and just used this as an excuse, or would she have stayed?  And if she would have left anyway, should I be mad at myself for speeding it on or just relieved that we got it over with and all the madder at her?  Or should I not be mad at all, like Jesus?  Turn the other cheek?  But then of course I screwed everything up with Jesus, too.  He had like only so many cheeks, and I'm just, let's face it, such a big fucking asshole, nobody likes me.
    So then I sort of dragged myself home, and when I got there, Athena was lying on my bed naked.  My dick perked up a little, but only like a tired old half-dead dog on like a big pile of shit.  I couldn't even make myself pretend to smile.
    "I'm sorry I walked out," said Athena.
    "Oh yeah?" I said like I didn't even care.
    "I don't blame you for getting angry," she said.
    "Great, thanks," I said, and I wasn't being so nice about it.
    "And I don't blame you for being unpleasant right now," she said.
    Now I started getting optimistic in spite of myself.  After all, she had never come to my apartment before, and it was nice that she even knew where it was.
    "You just have to understand," she said, and everything fell through the floor again, "that I really can't be anybody's girlfriend."
    "Oh," I said.  "Right."
    "You don't understand," she said.
    "Can I just," I said, and I stopped.  "Can we just fuck or something?"
    Now her eyes narrowed again and blazed a little because she was angry, but I liked it because she looked a bit like she did when she first took me into the closet.  "You don't even want it to be OK," she said.  "You didn't even mean it when you asked me to be your girlfriend."
    "Yes I did," I said.
    "Oh, did you?" she said like she didn't think I did.
    "Yeah," I said, getting a little heated up about it.
    "Why?" she said.
    "Because that's how I feel," I said.
    "How do you feel," she said.
    "I feel like," I said, but then I lost some steam.  "I just like you a lot."
    "Doesn't seem like it," she said, and I saw that she was sort of hurt, and all of a sudden I had this flash, like, oh man, I've been assuming that she's 100% on top of everything, but have I been reading this all wrong?  All of a sudden she was the one who needed to get consoled.  Everything got switched around.
    I didn't know what to do, so I went and sat next to her and I said, "I do."
    And, you wouldn't believe it, she looked me in the eyes and she said, "Do you really?"  And I said, "Yeah I do."  And she said, all sweet, "I really like you too."
    For one great second I really believed it, you know?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

I got these LPs for Decemberfest...

...and boy, are my arms tired! are they good!

That was tasty, man.  Do that again.

I hate music, it's got too many notes.

[Marnie, I totally lost your number.  Call me!]

Monday, December 22, 2008

god-shaped hole

(click to enlarge, or just see below)

Be good.

Never as much fun as this.

I watched E.T. again for the first time in...I don't know, decades?  I enjoyed it but sort of disapprove, or rather I'm filled with awe and respect sort of the way the robot is filled with respect for the monster in Alien.1  Two thoughts, the first of them related:

(1)  The movie is extremely well done and extremely effective, and yet somehow in a deep sense total garbage.  I believe I'm responsible for making up the term high supermarket; E.T. is high Hollywood, by which I mean that it is just about as good as an enormous studio film can be without transcending that.
    Some big Hollywood movies that are not in any sense "independent" end up transcending Hollywood and entering into what you might call, more grandly, film, or even art—Casablanca is one, I'd say—but E.T. does not do that.  Essentially it is manipulative rather than expressive, say—sentimental rather than honest, dazzling rather than true.
    Examples:  a. The boy and the alien are both basically adorable, but do we ever actually see a relationship form between them, or do we just accept it on the basis of their being so adorable and the movie's being so huge and absorbing?  If I try to think about the essence of their relationship, I think either of the very beginning (the boy explaining humanity to the alien exactly the way a little kid might: using action figures) or the end (crying, hugging, "I love you"), but I can't quite see how you get from one to the other—and I just watched the damned movie a few days ago.  b. The older brother at one point says, "You keep talking about we all the time," and later he explains that Elliott feels E.T.'s feelings, but these things are never established (or rather the dialogue itself establishes it, sloppily); similarly, he says, "You know, E.T.'s not looking that good, Elliott," and we're like—he isn't?   c. The family life resonates, particularly in the first scenes, but it's nothing but a tool to make us sympathize with Elliott (and to make us forgive the mother for being so oblivious: she's going through a lot, people, her husband ran off with some bimbo to Mexico!2).
    That said, that said—it's hard to watch E.T. and not to think Spielberg's a master.  Maybe not the kind of master I'd prefer, maybe a master who helps usher in a universe of crappy film, but a master nonetheless.  And lemme just say, lemme just be clear, here: I [heart] E.T.3  You want to watch it with me?  Let's make a date.  [But it's got to be the version with the rifles and with "penis breath."]

(2)  Is it just me, or is there something incredibly poignant about the end of that movie from a, like, metacinematic perspective?  Most obviously there's E.T. telling old Gertie to "BE GOOD" (which by the way it doesn't really make any sense that he would understand, since the "BE" came from his mindlessly repeating the letter B while she was watching Sesame Street—side note: E.T. is a fucking idiot, I'm sorry, I know he built that radio transmitter from an umbrella and a Speak & Spell and a fork, but I think he just got lucky and those bug friends of his were coming back anyway because E.T. clearly doesn't have a brain in his head)—but so can anyone who knows the history of Drew Barrymore's childhood and teenage years not sort of want to cry out to his television screen, "No, Gertie, seriously: listen to the man from the moon"?
    And once you get started thinking about that, you might start to think that E.T.'s return home is WAY more depressing than it initially seems.  Look at poor Elliott: sure, E.T. croaks out, "I'LL BE HERE," and that's sweet (and, yeah, you can be goddamned sure Elliott's never going to forget his special goblin friend4), but the end of the movie basically signifies the end of the 45 minutes in which this poor kid's life had any meaning or value at all.  Right?  Now back to our regular depressing scheduled programming.  Dad's still in Mexico, now E.T.'s on the special Botanist Planet, too, and old Elliott's got a reputation for going nuts in Science class.  And how many people know the name of the actor who played Elliott, is sort of what I'm sprayin' here?
    The rosy-eyed Hollywood summary of the movie would probably involve something about E.T.'s bringing "magic" into the lives of this "broken" family—but then doesn't he take it right back out again?  And Elliott's not exactly going to be getting a lot of ass later in life telling people he spent a weekend once with a friendly potato from outer space.5
    So I'm tempted to say the real emotional weight of this movie lies not in their connection but in its loss...

All downhill from here.

1 Alligators in the sewers.
2 Where's Mexico?
3 I don't like his feet.
4 Is he a pig?  He sure eats like one.
5 Gimme a break!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


What we do with a white Christmas down on Spring Street, evidently:

(click to enlarge)

Friday, December 19, 2008

royal bullshit

(click to enlarge*)

Isn't it a little silly to call something the "Royal Kingdom of..."?—royal of course coming from rex and meaning basically "having to do with a king or queen"?  That is to say, is any kingdom not royal?

I guess it's no sillier than a "People's Republic," but then that's setting the sillybar pretty low.

* And please note that I've cropped the image so as to minimize the extent to which I'm helping these folks advertise.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


  1. I never look so good as I do reflected in the window across from me when I'm sitting on the 6 train.  Damn, who's that good-looking man?  It's like the visual equivalent of singing in the shower, egowise.
  2. Writing is hard.  Allow me to whine for 30 seconds here.  You work and work and get no money or validation for it except in the eventuality that you achieve great success.  It's like a regular job except that getting paid is the equivalent of getting a big promotion.  And that's particularly delightful when, like me, you find it cripplingly distracting to worry about money when trying to focus on art.
  3. I don't like that book you like.  White Teeth?  I don't get it.  Zadie Smith is a good writer in terms of, what's the word, vibrancy of prose?  It's fun to read her sentences.  But I don't understand why people think she's a good writer in terms of producing literature—or even ("high art" aside) in terms of pulling off a solid, coherent novel.  I don't want to get into it,* but I was disappointed—not even so much by the book as by our culture and our critics.  People's standards are too low; White Teeth is high-supermarket.
  4. In the past week or so I've been listening a lot to these two albums:

* The characters are all types, the philosophy is phony, the story is forced, the message is banal, and the whole damned thing's about as subtle as the leaflets everybody's passing around in the last third of the book, 1:1 all the way (getting a glimpse of every character's "side," every character's sympathetic mother-lode, is not subtlety, and it doesn't even make the characters "human": what it is is ethical–æsthetic–metaphysical cornercutting, and it's obvious, and it's cheap, and it's easy).

Sunday, December 7, 2008

signs, signs

I like this:

(click to enlarge)

One of my least favorite things is a font that's meant to look like handwriting.  I may be mistaken, but I believe I noted the last time I checked out the "funnies" that Doonesbury now has a Trudeau-handwriting font instead of actual hand lettering—you know, where all the E's look exactly the same.  It's refreshing in these sometimes rather crappy days to see an obviously handmade sign.  WATCH YOUR STEP, people.

I hate this:

(click to enlarge)

I kept seeing this sign and finally put my finger on (or at least near) what bugs me about it.  It's two things.
  1. What I'd already noted privately but didn't feel moved to share, particularly, is the I want to say shallowness (maybe banality?) of the message: "Respect women."  I mean, I understand that it's a response to something, but I'd almost argue, then, that the real message ought to be (as uncatchy as it might sound), "Don't disrespect women."  Because you can't control your own respect, but you can control disrespect—i.e., you can think whatever you want, but indulging your bigotry (for example) is not cool.  However, all this is sort of basically a semantic issue, besides which I'm a little intellectually unsteady about it, like not quite sure I'm being clear about it (even in my own head)—i.e., is this just reactionary, a kind of confrontational, anti-P.C. pseudo-libertarian neo-quasi-semi-conservatism based less on actual belief or reason than on a kind of contrarian impulse (etc., etc.), the kind of shit I've been trying not to do?—which is why I was sort of satisfied when the following occurred to me:
  2. What's the best way to get teenage boys to be less sexist, to take women seriously, to feel inclined to respect people different from them?  Is it to put "Respect women" in a list alongside "Eat your vegetables" and "Finish your homework"?  (And putting a kid in a sweater that says "AWAITING INSTRUCTIONS"?—I mean, Jesus Christ.)  When I see this ad, the teenage boy in me is automatically inclined to defy it.  Honestly, are you fucking kidding me with this shit?  Who thinks that a good way to get teenagers to be respectful is to order them to be respectful—to appeal to their sense of obedience and respect for social order and authority?  I was pretty much raised a feminist, and this sign makes me want to get out my graffiti pen and scrawl something hateful (maybe cross out "women" and write in "bitches").*  In short, this shit is counterproductive.

I am a nerd:

(click to enlarge)

OK, listen carefully:

If you're incapable of doing something, you cannot do it.  If you "can not" do it, that means you are capable of not doing it.

So this sign is funny.**

Bonus: Why is "Service Dogs" in parentheses?  In some contexts, I'm not quite sure which,*** parentheses are used to indicate that the words in question are a translation of what's actually being said rather than a direct quotation.****  So you could take it as basically saying, "Exception: whatever the fuck you loons want to call your service dogs—helper beasts, lookymutts, furry eyeballs—bring 'em on in.  P.S. You probably can't read this."

* I do not own a graffiti pen.a
** Or, you know, maybe it's kind of accurate: they're saying, "Unfortunately, we have the right to tell you to keep your fucking pet out of our fucking pharmacy."
*** Comic books?
**** Yeah, comic books: you'd have some spaceship, and the people inside would be saying in their speech balloons, like, "(What is that on the radar?  It can't be...it looks like a...a man??)"  That meant they were saying it Russian.

a Is there such a thing a "graffiti pen"?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Staple Street blues

The war against the machines has begun.

I felt bad taking this picture, but I couldn't help
it, this guy just had such an enormous head.  It
must be hard going through life like that.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

whither Alt85?

Q.v. this, that, and the other.
(click to enlarge)

No Alt85 for a while.  Why?  Because I'm sad.  Maybe I'll put up some melancholy posts that reveal too much about my personal life.  Probably not.

In the meantime, here's a nice song for you—you know: to cheer things up.  (Proceed directly to 1:43.  You can watch the first part if you want, but that's not what I'm trying to show you.  I'm trying to show you a nice song.  You know: to cheer things up.)

[Sarah, I totally lost your number.  Call me!]