Saturday, July 9, 2011

At the beach again

Yes, I am. Simply driving onto the island relaxed me a tiny bit. Despite the very crowded house, I still find it easier to relax here than almost anywhere else.

This particular beach offers almost nothing to do--which is exactly the way I like it. Despite the lack of activities, however, the beach also provides its own forms of entertainment. Several occurred at dinner tonight at our traditional first-night-of-the-beach restaurant.

As we were waiting for our table, this lovely sign greeted us.

(As always, click on an image to see a larger version of it.)

The unnecessary apostrophe, the last-minute fix on the spelling error, and the interestingly debatable use of "site" make this one a true winner.

One award you do not want to win here is the Dish of the Day honor. Tonight's dinner brought two contenders.

The first was this extraordinarily flat cheeseburger, the careful curlicues of mayonnaise highlighting the mystery bunlet.

The other contender was this rather poorly named Caesar salad, whose many black olives and puddle of dressing contributed to a dish that at its best evoked memories of its namesake and at its worst was simply soggy and sad.

The hush puppies, though, were tasty globs of fatty goodness, the company was swell, and as we ate in a restaurant that jutted into the waterway, rain painted the sky in silver streaks and dimpled the gently rolling water.

I love it here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Getting to be time to watch it again

I've mentioned before that one of my favorite films is also one I have to admit is not exactly a good movie: Streets of Fire. Recently, The Colony Theater showed it, but I wasn't able to attend. Ever since then, I've had a hankering to watch it.

In the meantime, I'll have to settle for enjoying these two music videos, both of Jim Steinman songs from the film.

I hope you do, too.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Worldcon lesson

I attended my first World Science Fiction Convention (aka WorldCon) in 1978. Harlan Ellison was the guest of honor at this Phoenix convention, which I attended alone and found bewildering and yet enchanting. I've gone to all but a handful of the WorldCons since then. This year, I'll go again, to Reno for Renovation, the sixty-ninth World SF convention.

For the first time in over twenty years, however, I won't be on the program of a WorldCon I'm attending.

That initially felt odd and a bit sad.

As usual, as authors and artists and costumers and scientists and others must do, I applied to be on the program. I've gotten rather spoiled, I suppose, because my acceptance in the past many years has come quickly and enthusiastically. This time, though, after many months and multiple queries, what came back was my first form rejection letter (well, email) in quite some time.

When I look at the long list of attendees on programming, I feel like I would fit in reasonably well. I wouldn't be in the top section by sales, for example, but I certainly wouldn't be in the bottom. Yet the good folks at Renovation--and they really are good folks, I know a few and know of many others--chose not to put me on the program.

I'm not writing this out of pique or to be petty. I'm going to the con, and I expect to have a fun time.

No, I'm writing this entry because I think this experience is a good lesson for me. I really do. I can't write because I get to sign books, or do radio shows, or make money--or get to be a WorldCon guest. I have to write for one and only one reason: I have to write. Everything else is static on the line.

I forget that sometimes.

So, in all seriousness, thank you, Renovation folks, for a lesson that I need from time to time--and for holding the con in a place where I can join a legal poker game at any hour of the day or night. I look forward to a relaxing convention in a city I've never explored.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ask Dr. Efficient, the Love Guru:
Dr. Efficient Answers All, #4

Warning: The following is an adult entry. If you are underage or simply do not want to read about sex-related topics, stop now.

All opinions are those of Dr. Efficient.

Dr. Efficient's fourth guest column finds him in fine form. Though he answers only two questions this time, this entry illustrates the breadth and depth of his prodigious experience.

As usual, all the questions came from U.S. women who chose to remain anonymous.

Being a Tantra master, you are aware that according to theory, sex can be sustained for many hours at a time. To be honest, I think my honey pot would turn into sandpaper. Tell me how this is attained without a man's veined beast being shredded into pulp?

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, lube would be it. The long-term benefits of lube have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.

To be fair, we should be clear about terms. While in America "Tantra" has come to be synonymous with "New Age granola sex," true Indian Tantra is a spiritual tradition similar to yoga. Tantra teaches spiritual awakening through postures, meditation, chant, and visualization. Some Tantric sects practiced Tantric sex, but even that was freakier than anything you'll find in, say, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Tantric Sex. To cite Wikipedia:
Sexual rites may have also evolved from clan initiation ceremonies involving transactions of sexual fluids. Here the male initiate is inseminated or ensanguined with the sexual emissions of the female consort, sometimes admixed with the semen of the guru.
Whoa! Emphasis mine. Be sure to bring that up the next time your over-sharing hippie friends tell you they're into Tantra!

American Tantra reverses the ends and means of Indian Tantra: Instead of sex being a mechanism through which heightened spiritual awareness is attained, we use traditional spirituality as a technique to attain better (or at least prolonged) sex. Indian Tantra is to American Tantric sex as traditional Christianity is to Catholic sex (in which you delay orgasm by imagining a disappointed Jesus discussing with your mother your spiritual and physical inadequacies).

In Tantric sex, a man delays orgasm by pausing in his thrusting when he feels himself getting close or by applying manual pressure to prevent ejaculation. As you mention, in theory this allows him to continue to rut for hours. In practice, a typical man will get bored and turn on the telly unless new partners are rotating in to keep him interested.

In the unlikely event that your man is able to sustain an erection with a single partner for hours, there's no reason why this should be uncomfortable for either of you assuming that you produce sufficient vaginal lubrication. Inadequate lubrication may be the result of sexual inexperience or a variety of psychological or physiological conditions. Try building up to multi-hour sex slowly, but if you're worried about turning your man's pork sword into pork sausage, try supplementing your special sauce with a little lube.

Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth. But trust me on the lube.…
Why in God's name would someone want to fuck animals? And is it true the same [sic] men of a Mediterranean culture have special boots made for fucking sheep?
What freaky shit lurks in the hearts of men? Dr. Efficient knows. And by the time you've finished reading this answer, dear reader, you will too.

Let's start with the easy part. This may be difficult for women to understand, but men are Energizer bunnies of fucking. They're full of sperm as countless as the stars in the sky, and every second they're not sharing that sperm is a second that they're losing the genetic arms race. Men are cruise missiles programmed by evolution to deliver their payload of spooge as directly and as frequently as possible.

This is not to say that men are unselective. Men have strict preferences when it comes to sexual partners. For a heterosexual man those preferences are, in order from greatest to least:
* women
* everything else
Given freely available women, men will fuck women. If women are in scarce supply, men will share women or pay for sex. But if there are no women to be had at all, men will make do with what's available. They will fuck their hands. They will fuck pillows. They will fuck Fleshlights. In exclusively male environments--the army, prison, game development--men will fuck other men. And in rural areas where livestock is readily available, men will fuck sheep.

So to answer your first question, almost nobody wants to fuck animals. That would be sick. But sometimes there aren't any women around, and that skin flute isn't going to play itself.

The second question is a vile and racist canard. No, Mediterranean men do not have special boots for fucking sheep.

First, Mediterranean men have no exclusive affection for the sheep under their care. Hence the old jokes:
Q: Why do Scotsmen wear kilts?
A: Because sheep can hear zippers.
Australia: Where men are real men, and sheep are scared shitless.
In Central Asia, authoritative sources report seeing Afghans laying pipe with a variety of ungulates. Esquire writer Brian Mockenhaupt reports hearing tales of "men having sex with sheep and goats in the deep of night. I first heard this from infantry soldiers and took it as rumor, but at Bagram I met a civilian contractor who works in UAV operations. 'All the time,' he said. 'They just don't think we can see them.'"

Wherever there are men and sheep, some of the former will be giving a hot beef injection to some of the latter.

Second, sheep fucking boots (or sheeping boots) aren't really "special". Any pair of tall boots will do. Their usage varies: Some sheeplovers prefer to wear the boots and tuck the sheep's hind legs into the boots along with their own. This requires a roomier boot. Other sheepfuckers just put a pair of boots on the sheep's rear legs, restricting its movement enough to prevent it from escaping the randy shepherd. The latter approach, using combat boots, is described in this harrowing (but non-Mediterranean) true-life account of sheepfuckery. I advise against reading it, but I know my advice falls on deaf ears with a hardcore perv like you.

As long as you keep sending in questions, Dr. Efficient will return soon! Email your queries to me or send them via the Contact page on my site.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

And then the sky exploded

The Fourth of July party we hold each year at the Drake's represents a huge amount of work by a great many people, including me. It's also rather expensive: my share of the fireworks plus all the cost of the hamburgers, hot dogs, and buns for 120 people add up to a tidy sum. Jo Drake does a ferocious amount of prep and hosting work, many of those 120 people bring dishes they've made, a team of a dozen people work hard and fast and well on the fireworks show itself, and I both work on that team and spend a lot of time (almost an hour and a half last night) in front of a huge grill (really a pig cooker) that's running close to 500 degrees inside.

I often question if the party is worth the work.

I was doing that in the days leading up to the party, again at the party as my core temperature stayed unusually high after the grilling, and yet again as the rain was falling and everyone was wondering if we'd be able to launch the show. The rain did stop. We set up the show, prepped the crowd, took our places, lit fuses...

...and then the sky exploded.

Blues and whites and golds, greens and purples and reds, starbursts and circles and palms, booms and whistles and screeches, and there I was, standing under it all, eyes to the heavens, every sense filled, screaming wordlessly in the pure joy of the magnificent explosions.

That's when I know it's worth it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

For those of us here in the U.S., today is a big day, the anniversary of Congress' official acceptance of the declaration of our country's independence. I'll be celebrating it in our traditional way: with a party I co-host at the Drake's.

The affair looks to be large this year--about 120 folks--so I'll be spending a lot of time working the grill. The grill is actually a very large pig cooker, on which I'll be putting over fire about 94 hamburgers, the same number of hot dogs, and 24 veggie burgers. Later in the day, I'll be working with a team of friends to put on a fireworks show. A busy day and an expensive one, but a fun one as well.

On this day, I always make time to sit alone and think briefly about what it must have been like to write this declaration, and what the declaration means to me. This year, for various reasons I've been thinking about the last line:

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
I have never been in the military--I was lucky enough to have the draft end not long before I would have had to report--but it has always struck me that those who have served have made this pledge more directly than the rest of us.

My stepfather, Ed, volunteered for World War II. That war cost him his teeth, two major wounds, shrapnel that stayed in him until he died, and dreams that cut him worse than the shrapnel.

My friend, Dave, came home from Viet Nam to a U.S. that treated him like dirt for doing what he believed to be a citizen's duty. He didn't consider Viet Nam a good idea, nor did I. He was drafted, and he served. He paid for that choice then, and he's still paying for it. He'll be paying for it until he the day he dies.

I'm very sorry that so many people were so horrible to him and to other Americans returning from that war.

I'm glad we're not treating our soldiers today the same way. Perhaps on this special day we could resolve never again to treat returning soldiers the way so many treated Dave. Such a resolution would not help him, but it would be good for those who in the future end up pledging their lives to serve this country.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Into Action

The other night, visiting friend Lynn gave me a paper copy of this article. As I read it, I found myself agreeing with King on nearly everything and certainly on the main point. So, when he mentioned the Tim Armstrong song, "Into Action," I had to give it a listen.

Damn if King wasn't right. A few seconds after the song started, I was dancing in my office chair in the wee hours of the morning.

Check it out.


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