A Short Story by Briandaniel Oglesby
- 14 went to runny noses.
- 17 went to bloody noses.
- 5 went to wiping soap and grime from around the ceramic abalone dish full of tiny shell-shaped guest soaps.
- 22 went to blood not from bloody noses.
- 8 went into pockets in case of the sniffles.
- 7 went to pus from Ming Cooper’s acne. She detonated her zits in the downstairs bathroom when the upstairs one was occupied.
- 6 went to Ming’s astringent when the cottonballs ran out. After she detonated the zits, she rubbed Johnson & Johnson Clean & Clear® on the spot, as if it would make her heal faster. She was by no means the only seventh-grade girl in the world to have this hope.
- 3 went to her brother Pepin’s semen. Their mother, Su, used the Kleenex to wipe it off the door handle.
- 14 went to shit— eight were improvised toilet paper when the roll ran out and the shitter did not know to look under the sink for another; six were used when Pepin Cooper had had an accident and Su didn’t think to clean it with the toilet paper right away.
- 3 went to Su’s tears the time she locked herself in the bathroom to cry when she couldn’t make it upstairs in time.
- 11 went to Pepin’s twin brother, Coco, to wipe semen from those four nights over Thanksgiving when Grandma visited and she stayed in his room and he had to stay downstairs. He liked the feeling of the lotion.
- 2 poked into Coco Cooper’s front suit pocket after he looked at himself in the mirror and thought his black funeral coat needed something, a little white, a little kerchief in the front pocket like in the movies.
- 29 “died.” They became ghosts when Su covered lollipops with the white tissue for Halloween. She wrapped rubber bands around the base of candy to affix the tissue to the lollipops. The ghosts looked like sperms wearing wedding dresses, Coco and Ming joked. Su pursed her lips and chose not to laugh. They should act more mature. She handed the bridal sperms to Ming and Coco, who drew spooky faces on them with black Sharpies.
- 14 clotted mucus from runny noses. Mostly Coco's, though sometimes his sister Ming or their father, Harry.
- 25 went to the noses that ran when Su the mother made her spicy Kung Pao Tofu or when Harry the father cut and fried onions in red pepper sauce. Anyone downstairs would start sneezing. It couldn’t be avoided.
- 12 furnished Ming’s diorama for English. She made a scene in a shoebox for Othello: "What Happens After." Tissues became sheets and curtains on a tiny canopy bed and covered the last of the cotton balls—the tiny bodies of Desdemona and Othello. The paramedics had hidden the dead couple, said it was an accident, an accident, those stupid, stupid paramedics— and had then gone to attend Emilia, who survives in Ming’s diorama.
- 3 scooped up bits of vegetables and tofu that spilled from the cutting board and then spat from the pan when Su concocted the Kung Pao Tofu while The Baby screamed.
- 6 were forgotten and left in pockets to become drier lint. When Coco had allergies and was going to school, Pepin had tucked a couple into Coco’s jacket like he’d seen his mother do so many times last year.
- 1 picked up the piece of The Baby’s skull from under the fridge door – Grandma picked it up. She knew what it was, pink and curled like a corn chip. She threw it away and didn’t tell anyone.
Ming’s Room— Hummingbird pattern with pink background; 147 have been used.
- 12 picked up crumpled bugs, dead insects. Ming pinched silverfish between her fingers. With her black flip-flops she never wore, she slapped flies and spiders. She smashed a black spider into her white wall and couldn’t scrub away the dime-sized blotch. She stared at that stain that night, right next to her bed. She felt deep shame for having killed the spider. It had moved. Nothing more. Pepin would do that. And then she felt guilty for feeling shame for being like her brother. But that went away.
- 37 went to make-up she used to cover her acne. It hid the acne, at least, but also made it worse.
- 13 absorbed her first menstrual blood discharge. She knew what the blood was, but she didn’t want to believe it. She pretended she had cut herself. She pretended to worry that people would think she wasn’t a virgin. Puberty made Pepin touch himself in public. Made the outbursts violent. No longer her adorable simple older brother, but a monster-tard, a difficult problem-child-thing that made her parents fight.
- 21 for nosebleeds, a special kind of Oopsie, common and unique to Ming. Pepin rarely scratched or bit his sister, but her large hawkish nose often attracted his fists, more than any other nose in the family. If she surprised him, his fat elbow would fly into her nose. And the blood would come every time, opening what she thought was a cut inside her that would never heal. Shit. It couldn’t even scar.
- 5 to nonbleeding nose mucus. When she picked at it, the brackish crusts would flake into the Kleenex. She wondered why she’d been born. She didn’t want to commit suicide. She told herself to justify this line of thought and not allow it to become melodramatic or angst-filled. She wanted to know, objectively, scientifically, why she had been born. Why didn’t her parents look at Pepin, born the other side of midnight as Coco, and realize how much work it would be? They should have known Pepin would be abnormal by the time they conceived her; why add more work with more children? Why hadn’t her parents learned their lesson? Why were they so stupid and selfish? Goddammit.
- 26 took the pus from the zits. She imagined that one day her face would erupt like a geyser and it would be painful, but cleansing pain.
- 25 filled her bra when Coco’s friend Alex James came over. Ming folded the tissues, slid them between the Mickey Mouse print cloth and the pimply skin of her unformed breasts. She had seen Alex James staring at her mother's lactating breasts. She had noticed how distracted he became when Su poked her teat out and The Baby fed from her body. This was when The Baby was alive.
So when Alex James came over, Ming filled her bra with the 2-ply Kleenex. She could hear The Baby crying again as she went to the bathroom to adjust herself in a mirror that was partially blocked by old immature pictures of horses— God, what a stupid phase— and pictures of beautiful women she cut from style magazines. And she hated it. She tore off her top, her bra, and ran to her room, bare-chested, passing Alex James in the hall. He noticed her this time.
- 8 dabbed and discarded her tears when Pepin killed The Baby. She wasn’t surprised. Why would she be surprised? She was angry. Why hadn’t her parents shipped him away? How could they be so fucking selfish, so motherfucking stupid? For a moment, she felt a strong sense of righteousness and satisfaction in the anger. —Fucking Mom and Dad, fucking should have listened. Then she was overcome by an enormous sense of guilt because she should be sad. She took another Kleenex, blew into it, hard, hard enough for another nosebleed. She let her nose bleed and bleed, doing nothing to stop it.
- 33 caught the phlegm he expelled those days he was sick and the days he thought he was sick and the days he knew he wasn’t sick, but had allergies that appeared to be sickness.
- 38 went to his allergies themselves, the goop that dribbled from his eyes and nose.
- 5 had gone to make-up for Halloween. He and Ming had worked together on costumes. He had just gotten being sick and wanted to Trick or Treat just to get out of the house. Yes, a 15-year-old Trick-or-Treating with his sister.
Ming brought her make-up cases into his room, along with her costume— a Renaissance Faire dress she’d borrowed. —Black so she could be Lady Macbeth from The Scottish Play. Coco played with her black veil until Ming snatched it away.
"That’s mine," she said.
It’s to hide your ugly face, Coco almost said, but stopped himself. Instead, he said he just wanted to hide, alright, and laughed. Ming grimaced.
Ming asked, "What am I doing for you?"
"I want to be a pirate," he said. He pointed to a white button-shirt and black slacks he’d folded on his bed as if that explained it.
Ming laughed and opened a pink case and withdrew two enormous gold hoop earrings, clip-ons. "I was going to wear these, but they’ll go better with you," she said and clipped one onto his bottom lip.
He waggled it, snatched it from his lip, examined it, attached it to his earlobe. Ming opened her make-up case and took out a black eyeliner pencil. She was about to draw the outline of a scar across his forehead, but saw the pimples lined above his eye like a word of Braille, and she saw the "Oopsie" scar on his cheek, and she thought better of it. She lied, I’ll make you look rough and a little evil. She sat Coco down on his bed. She checked the point on the pencil, took the plastic sheath off, began to outline his eyes. He let her. She slid the black pencil through her big brother’s eyebrows, too. He flinched, and so she cupped his cheek in her hand, and held him as she laced mascara through his eyelashes. She took foundation, applied it, powder, lipstick or gloss— he didn’t know what it was, maybe both. He stayed perfectly still.
"Your nails now," she said, and he lifted his hands. From the blue box she took a cherry red that matched his lipstick, more or less. She couldn’t let her brother clash. Both were quiet. Occasionally she murmured, "There you go" or, "All right." She blew the paint dry on his fingers. "You’re done," she said.
She almost said, Now it’s my turn, or worse yet, Now you’re a pirate.
She picked up her boxes and her Lady Macbeth dress and left before he could look in the mirror and say something that would ruin it.
Only after she had closed the door did Coco look at himself in the mirror. He willed himself not to think about it. He failed and he realized how much he’d enjoyed the past half hour. So he grabbed a clump of Kleenex and started smearing the make-up from his face.
- 4 tissues Grandma used to hold her dentures the second night she slept in Coco’s room. She liked that Coco’s room had a lock; she locked it in case Pepin got out while she was asleep— Su and Harry never locked Pepin in his room because he’d panic and hurt himself if he awoke and found himself trapped. Of course, he would, the little— nevermind.
And then she realized she’d left her denture kit in the bathroom, so she wrapped her teeth in tissue. Like Ming used to wrap her purple retainer in a napkin at previous Thanksgivings. Rude. She’d have to remember to brush them in the morning. Such a tragedy, they needed her to cook for them. Su wouldn’t even enter the kitchen. Yes, she would have to brush them in the morning before the funeral. But the kids always used the bathroom for so long (maybe they were crying), so maybe she’d have to use the one downstairs where Coco was sleeping, good boy to lend his room to his visiting grandmother.
- 31 became imaginary people and held Coco’s penis as he masturbated. He tried hard to imagine women every night. He figured— he hoped—it would fix things if he imagined women. And he’d do it every night. His family had enough problems, he’d fix his own. Alex James was always talking about Eleanor or Ginny, so he decided to imagine Eleanor or Ginny.
Even when he had to sleep downstairs, when Grandma was in his room, he would have to do it, imagine Ginny. Then the day they took Pepin, he watched An Affair to Remember again, starring Cary Grant, who looked so much like Alex James. And he went to his room and masturbated to Alex James into a Kleenex and didn’t even feel guilty about it.
- 18 went to Oopsies. Usually they happened fast; wham-bang. Pepin would dart his hand out and scratch with his nails. Or bite. Or throw something. Coco was used to the Oopsies, and so were his classmates. Even the teachers had stopped thinking Dad beats him.
- 5 had been used by his mother when she cried in his room. She’d come to discuss Pepin and the possibility they’d enter him into this special school for people like him. They’d been looking at it for a while. Well, no, they’d been thinking about it for a while, they’d only started looking for one recently— (since The Baby was born?)— but they’d find the best. Pepin is getting too big and even more violent, since, well, since, a couple years ago. Y
"ou’re so evil," Coco yelled back. "You just want to get rid of him ‘cause he’s not fucking perfect..." And he stomped out of his room and he went outside to sit on the swing next to his twin.
Alone in his room, Su sat on Coco’s bed and cried. She cried into the Kleenex and kicked the bedpost until her feet throbbed and she could let the pain ease and distract her. Then she heard The Baby cry— it wanted milk from her again.
- 42 for sneezing. Coco’s allergies, mostly. He still sneezes in the bathroom, no matter the season. There’s always mold in the bathroom. And a few tissues went to Pepin sneezing— a little allergic to the mold? Alex James used a few as well.
- 35 had turned red with the drippings from Ming’s nosebleeds. She preferred to flush the stains away there, watch them swirl and disappear, instead of leaving them to lurk in the garbage pail.
- 4 blotted Su’s excess breastmilk. The Baby was asleep. Pepin was asleep, thankfully, napping in the middle of the day. She scrubbed the sink with steel wool and, looking in the mirror, noticed the wet spots on her blouse. She knew she would stop lactating very soon, too soon, and when she did, it would be the last time she fed a child from her body.
What kind of mother was she? Body drying— again!— before her child had weaned. Crying. Going to her son Coco to get him to help convince her husband to lock his brother away. What mother does that? Coco did so much already, and what kind of mother is relieved when her son stays home from school— she encouraged it! "Are you sick? Stay home," she would say. And she knew it was allergies, always allergies, mold in this damn house, something else she couldn’t control.
Then Su heard the door open downstairs and the voices of Ming, Coco, and Alex James back from school. No, no more crying today. She dabbed at the milk stains with the Kleenex. Dinner needed to be made. Kung Pao Tofu. Every Thursday.
- 13 brought to Ming’s face the pink, burning Johnson & Johnson Clean & Clear®, feels-like- acid, in those weeks when she had no cotton balls, when her mother kept forgetting to buy them. Goddammit, she should have asked Grandma when Grandma went grocery shopping for them on Thanksgiving. How cool, she’s weird-strong, Grandma.
- 50 went to Oopsies.
- 3 swabbed spittle and crushed Goldfish crackers from the bedpost where Pepin spat them.
- 33 went to Oopsies incurred by various family members and Alex James, who grew his hair long enough to spike it upward like the crest from a cockatoo. He had a standing invitation to dinner.
The Baby was crying and Pepin wanted someone to play blocks. So Coco changed The Baby’s diaper before taking The Baby downstairs, and Alex James played blocks with Pepin.
Alex James usually only came when Harry made onions in pepper sauce, spicy and perfect on white rice, because if both Su and Harry were cooking together, which happened on those rare occasions, the house would be noisy. He liked noisy.
Not like his home— too quiet, no laughing. But he was there that Thursday because Thursday meant Su’s Kung Pao Tofu. He hoped Harry would get home early— that’s when the noise could start. Pepin, taller and heavier than Alex James, stacked the red plastic squares one by one on top of each other.
Alex James joked, "Building a tower?" And then he laughed. Pepin didn’t respond. The blocks were too involving. "What are you building, buddy?" Another laugh. Blocks. "Blocks, huh? Me, I’m building a bridge over troubled waters. That’s blocks!"
Pepin felled the small structure Alex James had built. Like a bridge— or London Bridge.
"C’mon sing with me." And Alex James began to chirp London Bridge is Falling Down, off-key in falsetto, chortling in the pauses. "THAT’S BLOCKS!"
Pepin’s hand darted and scratched a quick cut across Alex James’s arm. Alex James tumbled back, not in surprise, not in pain, but to avoid any more strikes from Pepin. He looked at his Oopsie, grabbed a few Kleenex, dabbed at it, saw that a small amount of blood had been liberated. He laughed.
"You got me there, Big P. That’s blocks. You got me good," he said. "I gotta get a Band-Aid." He knew the Band-Aids and iodine were on the second shelf in the bathroom holding the Kleenex over his cut. Ming ran past him, shrieking. She was topless.
- 2 went to saliva. Harry came to talk to Pepin that night. Pepin played with his blocks. Harry wanted to ask him, to explain to him, to pretend he could somehow obtain his permission. It would be symbolic, he knew, this conversation. He’d talk to him like a father to a son, as if Pepin, who outweighed him by 60 pounds, who was three inches taller than he was, as if Pepin could take it like a man. As if Pepin could love him and understand him— like he should, he should, Goddammit.
Pepin was stacking the blocks again, his enormous fingers able to hide the smaller pieces entirely. Pepin stuck a small red block into his mouth and Harry wondered very quickly if Pepin would choke— and would he give him the Heimlich? Pepin was only wearing a diaper right now, and Harry could tell the kid had filled it, the big fat baby, and he realized that Coco had probably undressed Pepin, getting him ready for bed.
Harry the father bent forward and pried the block from his son’s mouth. If his son was going to choke, it should have been yesterday. He sat on the stripped bed, still silent, and with a Kleenex wiped the saliva from the block. Pepin continued stacking the blocks one by one, higher. Higher.
- 22 went to Pepin’s emissions— on the walls, the windowsill, the carpet, the doorknob, the plastic window glass, the bed sheets, the bed sheets, the bed sheets again, the closet, the toy chest, the stuffed bear. He was bored. Usually, Su wiped it with Kleenex, tossed it, pretended it hadn’t happened.
- 42 to Pepin’s shit.
- 4 to mucus. His nose was running. Ming told him to blow. She handed him a Kleenex, and he shredded it. She shook her head. Felt anger enter, exit— then took another Kleenex. She held it under his nose. "Blow," she said again. Coco and their parents usually did this, but Coco and her mother were taking Grandma to the airport— and her father, just like when they got back from the funeral Saturday— her father had locked himself in his room again.
- 3 to explanation. The Baby was moving, squirming, and crying for his mother’s breasts, and Su was chopping the vegetables, trying to do it quickly, fucking colic, for the Kung Pao Tofu, because Harry might be home early, not that he ever was, not even today.
Pepin hated the smell that made his eyes hurt, and he hated the noise, so he went to The Baby, lifted him. The Baby stopped crying in the warmth of his big brother, whose soft fatness cradled him, Pepin grabbed a leg in his meaty hand and threw The Baby.
Su described this to her husband deliberately. She didn’t cry. Maybe she’d cry at the funeral, that’s why she’d bought another box of Kleenex, but that would only be so people knew she hadn’t detached herself from reality. That she wasn’t heartless or— no, heartless was the word she wanted. She told her husband this as she used the Kleenex with cold cream to remove her makeup.
She wouldn’t cry again. It was too easy to cry. Screw easy.
- 36 went to Harry’s tears. He had never cried in his marriage, not when his father had died, not when his children were born, not any time since Pepin and Coco had been born. Men didn’t cry. His wife cried. All the time. Sometimes she’d mention putting Pepin into a Home, and he’d say No. A man’s family. And he started crying. He wished that Pepin and The Baby had traded places and he cried harder because he realized he really wished that. He cried because he was to blame, he had said No to his wife about the place, he hadn’t worn a condom because it had been so long and he thought condoms were less manly and if that was as often as he’d get it, then he wouldn’t wear one, and so creating The Baby was his fault, and he cried because he knew he secretly wanted to fuck the parking attendant lady at his work and he cried because his sons were weird and his daughter was ugly and The Baby was dead. Su left the room.
- 25 went to Harry’s masturbation.
- 12 scooped away the pearls of baby vomit burped after meals until The Baby died.
- 2 went to departures. The day they took Pepin to the facility in Oroville, Coco went into The Baby’s room. He ran his fingers over the slats in the crib. The Baby’s pacifier was on the floor. He picked it up, rubbed the bulb shiny with his fingers. He sniffed it. It had been his, his sister’s, then The Baby’s. He wondered if The Baby would have been crying if it had had the pacifier. He wrapped it in a tissue so his keys wouldn’t scratch it and put it in his pocket.
He heard Pepin sneeze. He took a Kleenex, folded it. Action. Reaction. He’d tuck it into Pepin’s jacket. He left the box there, an incomplete box. Always in its place, ready to serve, ready to dispense, to give, to absorb the spills of life, the liquids, always a sentinel, always Kleenex®, proudly serving American families for more than 80 years.
This short story is reprinted from the latest issue of ZYZZYVA, the journal of west coast writers and artists, edited for by the legendary Howard Junker, who is leaving the journal this fall after twenty-five years. Thank you to the author for the reprint, and to Howard for his exquisite taste, moxie, and tenaciousness!
Author Briandaniel Oglesby lives in his hometown of Davis, California, and in Riverside. He attends the MFA program at UC-Riverside. His short fiction has appeared in ZYZZYVA and he is at work on a collection of short stories, a collection of short plays, and a novel. He can be reached by email here.
This is it, ladies and gentlemen.
John McCain says he's suspending his campaign— and canceling the debate!— so he can get in his little clown car and go save the economy.
Barney Frank: "It's the longest Hail Mary pass in the history of either football or Marys."
Or as we say in porn: "You have to hold your own legs, honey."
McCracked even canceled Letterman, who is presently sticking a fork in his caboose and twisting it. Watch below!
I am rolling in the pews right now.
P.S.If Treasury Secretary Paulson doesn't personally bail out me and my entire family by Friday, I will destroy American capitalism as we know it.
Well, of course! I have so many great Babeland memories, since the first time I visited their store in New York (the one with the trap door in the floor on Rivington Street!) and then in Seattle— best discussion with customers about fistfucking I've ever had anywhere.
Who can forget the time Joan Jett came into the store when I was autographing Nothing But the Girl, and shyly told us how proud she was of her lover's beautiful photography inside the book.
I thought that when Babeland said "celebrate," they meant we were going to have a party. Yes, they did mean party— at my house. A box the size of a refrigerator arrived at my doorstep the next day, packed with the Babeland cognesciti's Top 15 sex toys.
Wow. It will take me months to get around to all of these properly. I called over a few friends who I figured would appreciate an intervention.
Some of the items in the basket were the mandatory Old Reliables, like the Hitachi magic wand, the Vixen harness and dildo, or your basic "flashlight" style vibrator known to airport screeners everywhere. Check, check, check!
But I was attracted to the new inventions that have emerged since my days on the inventory floor of the novelty biz. I am so "old" now, that I can remember selling vibrators to lesbian nuns for 75 cents apiece. Things are much more expensive today! Are they worth it?
So far in my "celebration," I've discovered two new-ish items that are as essential as they are dear. You have to think of them like paying for a pair of prescription glasses— since you use them every day, it's pennies per diem of necessity.
One is something called a "Maven Sleeve," which is marketed to men. It's a 3/8" thick blue sleeve, like a sleek, stretching cock sock.
I couldn't keep my hands off it.
It is so soft, cockhead soft. The color is sapphire blue, a hypnotic aspect I didn't see coming.
When I asked one of my friends if we could "try it on" his erection, I realized my color sensitivity was engrained from childhood memories— my parents lived in India in the 1950s, and as a child, our apartment was filled with images of Hindu deities.
Inside the Maven blue sleeve, my friend looked like Krishna.
Enormous blue Krishna cock— it's the prettiest ever! Although I'm sure my pal would've liked some privacy to investigate the Maven's mastabatory potential, I was seized with the sadistic desire to control the thing entirely. This Sleeve inspires manhandling. And yes, you have to use lube inside of it, or you'll kill someone. (But what a way to go!)
The second toy I tried that made me want to shut the door for a week was something unimaginatively titled: The Pure Wand.
This dildo is actually a weighted, cosmic curving hook to your 6th Chakra... do you see a theme here? The weight and angle of this toy would wake a G-Spot up from a thousand year's sleep.
Also on today’s show, I respond to a listener who has a lot to say about the menstruation cup— beyond those panicky moments of trying to get one in and out. A lot of women are finding this alternative to tampons to be an improvement to their sex lives, and I'm not surprised.
Finally, in my Try This at Home mailbag, a listener submits an epic tale of blind date regret and ruin. I have some hard-won advice for all those who've wondered how to "get the hell out" of a regrettable situation.
The theme is sex positive radical thought, but it might be more accurately titled: "Sites I Couldn't Stop Thinking About, So I Had To Go Back and Look Again."
In each case, it's not just the one posting that's remarkable; every writer/editor on my list is an artistic and original force to be reckoned with.
I also found myself drawn to a few sites that are picture-centric, while others are entirely wordy. For example...
1. Ars Erotica: The Erotic Art Museum: Wally Wood Gallery
This isn't a blog, it's a superbly rendered and collected gallery of squirm-worthy erotic art. Be prepared to spend hours.
2. Greta Christina's Blog: Sexual Freedom In A Shopping Bag: “Sex And The City”
not saying non-monogamy is for everybody. I'm not saying it's the
perfect answer to all problems in all relationships. I'm not even
saying it would have solved this couple's problems. But if a central
problem in a relationship is that one of you really likes to fuck
around and feels stifled when you can't -- if one of you truly loves
the other and wants to stay with them, and at the same time genuinely
feels that you can't be true to yourself if you don't have the freedom
to be a big slut -- then non-monogamy should at least be on the table.
It might not work, your partner might not consider it, it might not be
what you ultimately want... but at the very least, the concept should
cross your mind.
But it never crosses Samantha's mind. Samantha -- the proud slut, the sexual adventurer, the one of the four friends who supposedly has the most sexual knowledge and experience -- seems to have never even considered this option.
And none of her friends suggests it to her.
3. Part Two Of The Adventures: HoboStripper
I never miss a day of Tara. She is a stripper who lives in a van down by the river. In this chapter, she is interrogated outside of Wasilla by the fascist insect that preys upon the working girl proletariat:
My mom and her husband were going the same way I was, so we decided to loosely follow each other and get pizza together a couple hundred miles down the road. I left her house first and hurried to get ahead of them so I didn’t fall too far behind when I stopped to get gas. Except that I went the wrong way, and when you go the wrong way, the road runs into a military base...
4. Debbie Nathan: Kids and Comstockery, Back (and Forward) in the Day
There's nothing like a dose of eye-opening US sex history from Citizen Nathan:
Ah yes, children and porn. Children
consuming porn, I mean: a venerable American past time. Did you know
you can check out its history for free, next time you visit our
nation’s capital? I did and here’s what I learned.
Exactly a century ago, in 1908, a middle-aged storekeeper named Pasquale Eliseo, of 119th Street and First Avenue in New York City’s East Harlem, was busted on obscenity charges. His arrest happened after notorious vice Czar Anthony Comstock, sneaking around town undercover, watched while Eliseo “gleefully showed his rot” to some children.
What sort of rot? Eliseo, according to Comstock, “Dealt in most sacrilegious and blasphemous books & papers. Awfull!”
5. Naked HitchHiker - ErosBlog: The Sex Blog
In another lifetime, Bacchus, the genius of ErosBlog, would have been the erotic picture editor of Life magazine. He has the touch— and his gleaning is extraordinary.
6. Editrix: What's Wrong with Just Having an Orgasm?
Editrix is a very wicked copyeditor who can't leave four-letter words or their punctuation marks alone.
"I'm not sure which would be more difficult: forcing yourself to have an orgasm or forcing yourself to accept that orgasm can be a verb. But, hey, that's just me."
7. Recipes for Trouble: Thoughts on Queer Culture, Writing, Feminism and Transgender
This site is really a gorgeous food and photography blog. Except that its author has a very radical mind about sex. She just wrote a book called Comfort Food for Breakups, which seems destined for infamy. Her sex-rad P.O.V. gets thrown in with the tomatoes:
Could it be that transgender politics is in an early kind of post-colonial nationalist stage? Something akin to the ‘lesbian nation’ of the 1970’s?
8. The Elusive Threesome: Marx in Drag
This is a story about the heterosexual canard, the menage a trois:
I call it the "Joey Tribiani Syndrome," as in Joey from the show Friends. Joey, like most straight men, talks about a threesome with two women as if it were Mecca, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the brass ring, a winning three-point shot at the buzzer, the sudden-death field goal… well, you get the idea.
This drooling and high-fiving over the girl-on-girl action is as much a part of performing straight masculinity as it is to drop one’s gaze into the plunging neckline of an ample-bosomed woman. If the topic comes up and you’re a straight guy and you don’t high-five your buddy, you might as well comment on the draperies and change the subject to hair products.
9. Pretty Dumb Things: David Foster Wallace 1962-2008
Since the year that it took me to read Infinite Jest (I read it at night, after stripping, in short and manic bursts while waiting to come down from the whirlagig night, while counting with an absent mind the throbs of blood in my pounding feet; I read it doggedly, I read it devotedly, and I read it disliking every artifice, even as I fell in love with it as a whole), I rarely go a day without summoning an image from the novel.
The veiled face of the shrouded beauty, the P.G.O.A.T. The boys playing Eschaton. Les Assassins des Fauteuils Roulants perched above the rim, observing all that America has become and pondering its imminent demise.
Last Friday, David Foster Wallace hung himself. I can’t not imagine his hands tying the knot. I can’t not wonder about his suicide note. I can’t not think of his wife finding his body, a thing once loved passionately and now blue and bloated and suddenly horrific. My mind goes that way, and not just because my family history circles around a long and rococo tradition of finding our loved one’s bodies in similar hideous states. What can I say? I read a lot.
An acquaintance of mine took a class with him. My acquaintance said that DFW was an unbelievable asshole, pompous and difficult and contradictory. My acquaintance was once embroiled in an altercation with DFW that ended only once DFW head-butted him in the solar plexus. I consider my acquaintance a lucky man. Were I once head-butted by DFW, I would have a story to tell until I died.
10. Silent-Porn-Star: Fanny Brice's Baby Snooks
I love the silent movie era, I love film history, and I go for erotic film analysis in a big way. So, of course, I love this blog:
"Baby Snooks (with Hanley Stafford as "Daddy") was performed on television only once (and this was Fanny Brice's only TV appearance too), on CBS-TV's Popsicle Parade of Stars in 1950, one year prior to Brice's death.
There is a large difference between discussing a punishment,
a la Edith Ann, and showing a grown woman dressed as a child over the
knee of her daddy figure, like Baby Snooks; the image has erotically
At the base of this humor is prettified misogyny and/or glorified cuckolding. It's all good & fine for adult role-play sex-scenarios, really; but as entertainment one really ought to be aware that's what they are enjoying.
11. What it Feels Like to Hurt a Man Until it Makes You Have an Orgasm: Bitchy Jones’s Diary
Bitchy Jones is a most convincing sadist without a trace of porno cliché:
I have never seen any fem-dom porn stuff where the woman is all panting and moaning, except when she is getting more trad sexual stuff like she’s masturbating or getting licked.
I have never seen a dom woman just start moaning and wobbling from a guy getting on his knees or crying out in pain.
Have you? Is this something only I do?
Or do I need to watch more porn? – I get scared off by the shoes a lot.
Am I way out of control of myself? I’ve had to walk out of the room before when the guy just got on his knees for me because I was so overcome and about to fall off the (metaphorical) pedestal.
I get a lot turned having d/s sex— and when I am turned on I like to kiss. Mouth fetish. I like sticking things in men’s mouths. My tongue is my favorite of those things. These pain-flavoured kisses while he’s *hurting* are the best kisses.
I like it when he screams into my mouth.
I adore it when he screams into my mouth.
12. The Haphazard Gourmet Girls: Sarah "You Can't Blink" Palin Cupcakes
13. Pharyngula: Ridiculous Sanctimony
14. What Happens in Staunton Won't Stay in Staunton: Sex In The Public Square
A nasty little obscenity fight in Vermont, with the feds trying to pull a quick and dirty constitutional shred:
"I want to make clear why, whether or not you ever plan to travel to Staunton, VA you need to care about this case. The reason: Unlike Las Vegas, the place Staunton's prosecutor most fears, what happens in Staunton isn't so likely to stay in Staunton."
Up next to host the Sex Positive Carnival is Radical Vixen - don't forget Vixen organises the Sugasm every week too, so it would help a great deal if you could send her your submissions with the subject heading "submission for the feminist carnival."
Here's the home of the Feminist Carnival of Sexual Autonomy and Freedom, if you'd like to see the other carnivals that've been hosted so far.
On my audio show this week, I get under
the covers with "Caribou Barbie."
What's up with Sarah's own story of pre-marital sex, drug binges, and
teenage pandemonium? How does having a Down-syndrome baby qualify you as a role model
for the right-to-life campaign? Should the governor always use law enforcement to wreak revenge on marital infidelity? And what's wrong with banning "My Friend Flicka" from the library if it doesn't follow the her church's doctrine?
All this, and how Sarah manages to "hug" McCain on the podium without appearing to be groped.
Listen to an excerpt
Listen to the whole show: LINK
$2 a show, for a year; why not? LINK
Finally, in my Try This at Home mailbag, I respond to a listener who wonders if he can introduce his favorite sex toys to his favorite call girl. I'm sure Sarah could weigh in on this, too!
UPDATE: After you've listened to me and had a few laughs, or poured yourself a highball of absinthe, sober up and listen to Gary Hart on the Palin insanity... I couldn't agree more with him. I think what's missing from his analysis is not only does the GOP elite "disdain" the notion of governance, but more importantly, they disdain democracy, because they have no intention of having ANY elected fool run "their country"— that's all to be done from an undisclosed location by people who rarely show their faces. McCain, Bush, Reagan... they've all been idiots, "America's Top Model," one and all. Palin is just the newest joke.
Illustration: This is an actual scene of Sarah Palin's life from a few years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth— that's according to her pastor in Wasilla! For more exciting Stone Age comix, see here...
It's been quite a jolt.
Last weekend I was a co-star of the halftime hula hoop show at the Roller Derby. The weekend before that, I walked 30 miles down the shore from Brighton Beach to the Monterey Wharf. And I bicycled to the hardware store this morning and didn't even think about the big hill that leads to my house.
Any of you who know me personally, are probably dropping your fork.
I turned 50 in March. Over the winter, I'd watched a couple of friends, just a few years older, suffer serious setbacks. High-risk knee operations. Diabetes diagnoses. Heart attacks! Whatever happened to flaming out young with a good-looking corpse?
I couldn't get over how some folks in their 50s are struggling to stay alive, and others are climbing Mt. Everest.
I wanted to be one of the latter— or at least their cousin. I'm not planning on sticking around forever; I want to have more adventures and intrigues, and I can't do that if I'm staggering around moaning, "Oh, my aching arse." I have "Seize the Time" embroidered on my jean jacket— and it needs to be put to use.
Nothing is terribly wrong with me; knock-knock. But when I went for a physical at my doctor's office— and I laid out all the little hassles and bothers that confine my sloth-like existence, tears rolled down my cheeks.
What sedentary cramp had overtaken me the past twenty years? Well, I wasn't alone. Writers like myself spend endless hours in bad chairs, typing. We lie down and type, to tell the truth. We like bon-bons, and whiskey. My only callus is on my pencil finger. We get lost in our story-telling and forget to engage any gears below the neck.
I don't remember what put the notion in my mind, but after the doctor's visit, I lay down, as usual, with my MacBook and looked up WeightWatchers to see where the closest meeting was. A friend of mine recommended a group leader down here, Jennifer Barley, and promised she wasn't a diet robot— but a real teacher with charisma.
Good; I needed a shot of transference.
It was weird, the first time, to seek out the shopping mall that housed the WW meetings. The last meeting I went to that dealt with weight issues was the “Fat Liberation Consciousness Raising Group” at the Ocean Park Women's Center in the 1970s. I was slender then, but damn, was I ever fed up with the diet-military complex... I still am! If this WW meeting had even a speck of antifeminist bullshit, I was going to march right out the door.
I didn't know what to expect. I've never altered my eating regime in my life, except to savor a new treat. Furthermore, I'm a lifelong powderpuff. I hid out from PE classes my entire school career and was bullied out of any interest in team sports. I was so bony as a child people offered me sandwiches to fatten me up, like Hansel and Gretel.
For me to go to a meeting about "getting fit" was like a Math Phobic signing up for Sleepover Calculus.
I knew in advance that WW was like science class mixed with a 12-step meeting. They have a little equation to keep track of what you're eating every day: Calories plus Fat plus Fiber equals a certain number of "points." It's an engrossing game. You eat whatever you want, but you journal your points. If you keep within your target range, you lose pounds; the natural consequence is inevitable.
My doctor, Flash Gordon, had already inspired me when I read his latest book, about whipping motorcyclists into better health. (He drives a Beemer). It's a great read... I don't ride, but I easily transpose his advice!
He wrote a chapter about "wide in the seat," where he recommended journaling about what you put in your mouth. (Read the whole thing here).
By simply taking pen in hand, whenever you eat something, you make rational what is usually an unconscious activity. You can't write down your daily intake, without spectacular— if awkward— awareness.
But I couldn't do this in solitude— I'd delude myself too easily. The support group part of WW is my favorite part of the whole shebang. People have so many "issues" with their food that just going out and eating sensibly is a Herculean task. There're a million ways to self-sabotage, and virtually none of them have anything to do with physical appetite.
One of the mottos that came up in the first meeting I went to was: "If being hungry isn't the problem— then eating isn't the solution." Such platitudes become soulgasms of epiphany as I listened to other people's rites of passage.
At the first meeting, the woman next to me, was asked what her motivation was to maintain her goal. She's been a member for a long time, and had lost forty pounds. She was very quiet when Jen spoke to her. Finally, she replied, "Really, it’s just the frailty of life."
That sent me over the edge.
My reactions surprised me. I always thought weight loss— on my part at least— would only be motivated by vanity or neurotic insecurity. I'd moaned in the mirror plenty of times. But neither my ego nor my hangups prompted me to do anything. Wishing I was more of a fox didn't move me an inch.
No, it's the physical pain that pushed me, the feeling of my life getting smaller because I felt semi-cruddy most of the time. I was watching my peers, people who I thought were Adonises in high school, suffer in ways that scared the piss out of me. I could see where it was all heading. I sobbed.
Once I "got with the program," I started losing ounces and pounds without that much strain. I think the first flush of my success is because I was so clueless, that the small changes I made to my refrigerator had a big effect.
Nonfat milk... what a concept! Walking to the corner instead of driving... no shit! It was like waking up a Dormouse from a long winter's nap.
I don't mean to make it sound too pat. I'm an inquisitive person, and I drank down all the new information in great gulps. I’m just as much of a slow food gourmet snob as I ever was.
(The recipe writers at WW are on a different planet from the group that does their processed foods division- the frozen dinners and cookies. The former you'd find plucking their own chicken and growing their own organic fava beens; the latter would be figuring out a low-points binge at KFC).
The "get moving" part of the WW program, however, has been more of a challenge. The very word "exercise" makes me scowl.
I've practiced fooling myself, and playing the fool. If I do things I associate with my childhood, or a destination, like riding my bike, stone-throwing in the quarry, dancing, hooping, tromping off in the wilderness, jumping in a lake... I don't realize that I'm putting my breath and muscles to work. And the more I can do, without pain, the more of a triumphant smartypants I become.
Would you like me to tell you for the fortieth time about my star turn at the hula hoop roller derby?
It has troubled me to decide whether to blog about this, or talk about it at all. What if I have some spectacular fall from my twenty pounds of grace?
My appearance also sets off so many different emotions in my friends, I'm not sure what to prepare for. It pains me to stimulate any negative reactions.
I cringe if anyone who’s one cracker short of anorexia says, "Oh, I need to lose too.” I'm as nauseated as ever with the emptiness of Thin Materialism. Strength and well-being don't have anything to do with the fashion industry or the insurance claims adjuster. I don't want my silhouette to act as a reproach, a threat, or scolding.
What I do like is when a friend of mine says, "Do you want to go— ?" and I say, "Yes."
No more shooting pains up my knees. No more tummy aches and GI hangovers. What I thought was arthritis just... went away. I warmed up a few degrees, My last periods have been... no big deal. I don't have to wear mittens on a summer day, and I can literally bicycle myself out of almost any dark mood.
I wake up, and to my amazement, I feel like... MOVING. Virtually every complaint I listed at my doctor's visit has either disappeared or receded.
I picked up a friend’s baby the other day, and when I said, "Wow, how much does he weigh now?"
The mom said, 'Oh, he's past 20 pounds," and I thought... I carried that? How did I stagger around?
I am still new at this. My pink balloon of idealism and cheer might go POP at any moment. My mortal coil is certainly not stopping the clock just because I ate a few less chips.
I have a soft spot for my dark side, and if I have to eat more chocolate to keep my edge, I won't hesitate.
But at the moment I'm spooning mouthfuls of plum applesauce, and my PF Flyers make me feel like I can jump higher and run out of words before I run out of breath.
The last dog days of summer are so sweet, and last night I walked to the movies without my sweater, because Santa Cruz and my very own chemistry were having a balmy spell. It's a moment I'd like to cultivate.
Update, 1/1/09: I am now Sporty Spice. Circuit training, kayaking running, mountain biking, road biking, swimming in open water... my parents would die all over again in disbelief if they were here to see me! I have never been strong before. Ever. I'll have to write another story just about that!
Photos: All these are original ads from vintage American magazines, which are sold, appraised and traded on Deco Dog site. I actually remember this exact "Ayds" one from my childhood.
"Wow, they didn't have single man on their short list who didn't have a freakazoid, wide-stance, hooker-party sex scandal on his rap sheet— they HAD to pick a woman."
But I was so naive. Sarah Palin has enough scandals of her own, sexual and otherwise, to make a sailor blush.
I feel a bit sorry for her, as I do for all the photogenic "spokesmodels" that the GOP specializes in recruiting for jobs that they prefer to be handled by professionals behind the scenes. The neo-cons have no respect for government; it's just a business they've enjoyed deregulating. They put up the the most useful idiots on the ballot that they can launder, and smirk at every sucker they take in. After all, Karl Rove's an atheist who's made a career out of manipulating the religion vote!
For all the squawking about Sarah Barracuda's lack of experience, I am certain Palin is smarter than George W. was at any age, and she can READ better than he ever will, on or off a teleprompter. She earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Idaho that she made the grades for, all by herself— without anyone pulling a string. She can shoot a grizzly between the eyes at 100 yards, and is a lot better "close in" that Dick Cheney will ever be. Let's face it, Palin's an L-Word fantasy writ large, and the perfect example of why butch straight women set hearts aflutter no matter where they appear.
But despite her fantastic hide-your-own-caribou upbringing, there is one way that Sarah Palin betrayed her classic Alaskan heritage and that is by being such a two-faced prig.
I only spent one youthful summer working in the 49th State— but the impression I left with is that Alaskans care about whether you pull your own weight, and mind your own beeswax. That's it. How you spend your personal time, and what you believe in, is entirely up to you.
Like everyone else in Alaska, Sarah Palin had "premarital sex." Like every other Alaskan of my generation, she smoked weed. She lived close to nature and was familiar with the unsentimental cycle of life, death, and birth. She works hard and plays hard. It's no joke that there's nothing much to do in those months of darkness besides fuck, hunt, fish, smoke, and drink. Her teenagers are apparently following in their parents' footsteps... they too, are having sex, and now one of them, Bristol, is said to be pregnant, for the first time. (Her boyfriend says on his MySpace page: "I don't want kids.)"
No one would give a whit about any of the Palin peccadilloes if Sarah hadn't made such a spectacle of herself campaigning as a pro-lifer, gay-hater, abstinence-monger, Creationist-dork. Where does she get off mandating public policy that tells anyone how to live their life?
Sarah's been under the Crony Club impression that's there's one set of rules for stupid voters, and another life of privacy and privileges for the elite. Is it so hard to imagine that Sarah also has family members who are gay, or who've had an abortion? When she was earning her B.S. at Idaho State, I bet she had the sense not to stuff Genesis fairy tales down everyone's throats in Biology class. I can guarantee her family doesn't preach abstinence around the Moose Stew.
A number of people spent the weekend wondering if young Bristol is already a mother, of the mysterious "Trig" who she holds so devotedly to her chest. The idea that mom Sarah might've faked a pregnancy to cover up the family's shame is a real Alaskan Gothic. It's parallel to a doping scandal. Politicians have to "dope up" their family history to make the impossible seem believable. Of course normal flesh and blood family members are going wreak havoc, especially the teenagers. Of course any candidate's life will fail the Leave It To Beaver test.
It's obnoxious on every side. The way the Democrats spin Obama's home life makes my eyes clench shut. I don't want to know! I don't care if they're crabby or delightful or close-knit or estranged or cute or ugly... SHUT UP already.
I only care about one thing, and that's the politics the candidate is fronting. I expect them to be held accountable to the will of the people— and that's not a profile you'll find in a tabloid magazine. We're the only country in the world that makes our presidential election candidates into a beauty contest. Did "Miss Wasilla" say that she longed for Whirled Peas when she accepted her Miss Congeniality crown? I don't think so.
Why doesn't she just take a big breath of icy Northern Air and tell the truth: Sarah Palin got picked for this job like a two-bit player at a casting call. What McKook doesn't understand is this: Barracuda is an ambitious Sourdough ballhandler who isn't going to let anybody's brats— nor the GOP— stand in her way.
Susie's Primary Sources on Vintage Erotica Before the Internet