Monday, February 27, 2017


-by timothy b. schmit
Very possibly the most intimate album ever released by any current or former member of the Eagles - so stylistically different from any of timothy's earlier work it's jarring at first, and may take a few listenings to appreciate. Slick production is gone, replaced by the simple sounds of a home studio, a dynamic reinforced by the number of instruments timothy plays himself, with a versatile virtuosity previously unsuspected. He plays armfuls of instruments, and on several tracks he's a one-man band. The lyrics are similarly homey, and show a heretofore untapped capacity for self-revelation. He's disarmingly candid about his failings, foibles, rich person's guilt, clinical depression, and the celebrity life that insulates him from the real world...but all that comes wrapped in the context of trying to make an entertaining song. It ranges from funny to heartfelt, and once you settle into the style, it's hard to not call this the best solo effort of his career. If i say that no single track achieves greatness, can you appreciate how hard it is to create an album in which nothing is less than very good?
He has a wonderful roster of drop-in musicians (and presumably good friends) who offer their talents: keb' mo', gary burton, jim keltner, benmont tench, garth hudson, the Blind Boys of Alabama, and others. The tracks range from good to very good. Here are the must-haves on any schmit anthology:
- The "graham nash supporting vocal" has become almost an institutional sub-genre in and of itself, but his presence here is as perfect as any vocal he's done.
"White Boy from Pasadena"
- A hoot that name-checks schwarzenegger and pat boone, about growing up in the California suburbs.
"I Don't Mind"
- The best tuba-flavored pop tune since, um...weird al maybe?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

"The Soul of Sex"

(Cultivating Life as an Act of Love)
-by thomas moore
Get your fuck on, you beautiful fuckers.
There. I've encapsulated the book in seven words, exempting you from reading it yourselves.
There's nothing earth-shaking about the message, but the fact that it comes from a former catholic monk who hasn't lost the faith, is a bit unique.
And i should mention that i've read only the first few chapters - i couldn't gut out any more. I prefer more science in my sexuality, and moore's focus on mythology started unhinging me, as any mythology of the past 20,000 years is essentially barbaric nonsense. He also tends to use seven sentences where one would do nicely.
But he offers some messages that parallel my own views and experiences, so if science alone isn't enough for you, and you need to believe that fucking for its own sake is an express route to "accessing the divine" (and letting those resonances fill your non-sexual hours), this is the book for you.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Even as she kissed me, a tiny piece in the back of my brain said, " i'm going to have to write about this."*
Not that she embarrassed me, but rather, i was embarrassed to have to offer you such a nothing of a story.
Perhaps happily for you, it turned out to be far more than nothing.
We met at a writers' open podium i hosted at the library. Jessilyn was the only attendee, so we read to each other. She was a poet and author of a spiritual/christian self-help book. Her verse was enjoyable, which ameliorated my disinterest in the material. When we parted in the lobby, i thought such an intimate experience deserved a moment of human connection, so i offered a hug which she happily accepted. In the few moments we touched, i felt a jolt of longing from her. Within a day or two we got together again. She said she was also a bit of a hermit, probably much more so than myself. I read her an essay about how i was trying to approach romance based not on my selfish desires or agenda, but by a paradigm of simply giving and loving whenever asked and able. It was important that she know that part of me, because i sensed that she was inclined in a romantic direction. I didn't want to hit her over the head with the fact that she wasn't my type spiritually or physically...but in retrospect i could have (or should have) been more explicit about that. I also told her about my move to California that was coming, possibly very soon. Later, i tried to reinforce those messages, but the swirl of emotions in her head turned out to be a train we had no chance of slowing.
At the end of our first night together, we lay on my bed and talked. For a few minutes, we chastely cuddled. I wanted to go very slowly, so i could be sure our expectations stayed aligned. As we got up to part ways, it was clear she wanted me to kiss her. I was very raw emotionally from not having been held in a very long time, and was open to a loving sexual relationship...but knew that my vision of romance, and my spiritual/political views in general, were far outside her more conventional worldview. When i found one of her hairs in my bed that night, i felt a wave of ambivalence. What was my stupid idealism getting me into?
We spent an evening at her place, cuddling on the couch. She did most of the talking, opening up about the damages and losses in her life. She cried in my arms as she told about her husband who had died, and then her next lover's death just a few years later. The level to which she opened up was humbling and beautiful. I had a non-urgent response to our closeness, and had no idea whether this was a reflection of our sexual chemistry, or just that i was so aware of the imbalances within and between us. As i was getting ready to go, she told me she hadn't made love in ten years, and had recently given up on the idea of ever being sexual again. As i slid over her on the couch to stand up, i spent a few seconds on top of her. She playfully, frustratedly gave a few pelvic thrusts. When we were standing, she told me i had stirred a desire in her that was powerful and profoundly unexpected. I was still in "let's be patient" mode, so when she kissed me at the door, i allowed it but refrained from really responding. Yet had she taken our clothes off and asked me to hold her some more, i wouldn't have resisted. Would i have made love? I'm genuinely not sure.
I went home and dreamed of loving her...which is hardly surprisingly for any human being (to say nothing of one who hadn't had sex for a few years himself). She was central in my masturbation fantasies that week, which i told her.
There were growing imbalance warnings, though. She off-handedly mentioned that she was writing down every word i'd said. She got upset that i wasn't calling her every day, and pursuing her like every other lover she'd known. When i told her i was visiting family for the holidays, and that i might not talk with her until i got back, she was perplexed, and distressed i hadn't gotten her a gift. I told her i had friends i'd known for years whom i didn't expect to call, and hadn't given a gift to either. She agreed that made some sense. I was glad for the break, as it might give her time to step back and process what was going on. She had asked whether we were romantically involved, and i'd tried to give a non-committal, open-ended response...but it might have come across as something closer to affirmation. I told her that whatever she needed me to be, that's what i wanted to be. Yet i also clearly said that if she wanted my attentions to be a manifestation of my desire rather than an act of giving, we should walk away from each other. I also said that given my wounded, raw state, anything contentious or complicated would make me run.
When i returned from vacation, things quickly went from shaky to worse. I think we had only five get-togethers total, and in almost all of these, she did the lion's share of the talking, which was fine - i told her that perhaps we only talk when our spirits are at unease, and i knew it was healthy for her to share all her demons and hurts. But when i brought up the notion of avoiding romance because of our imbalances, she responded with an overwrought declaration of love. It didn't feel like an act of giving, but more like an ultimatum. I mentioned how short a time we'd shared, and how little of that time had been devoted to my own self-revelations. She talked about our differences in terms of who we might have voted for in a recent election, not realizing that my wildflower ways went profoundly deeper than that. I wondered whether it weren't ME she loved, but merely how i made her feel. Somewhat surprisingly, she absolutely agreed.
Thus far, everything about this story may feel reasonably familiar to you. But it was about to go to dark places, the like of which i'd never known.
And let me stress that i have nothing but love and understanding for her. If after this story you think she's some kind of horrible person, i will have failed as a writer completely. She is as we all are - just varying degrees of damaged (if you're reading this, jessilyn, stay to the end - it will surprise you).
At one point, i thought the literary message of this piece would be a commentary on how broken and needy we all are, with the admonition to NEVER open up the can of romance/sex unless you desire that person with EVERY fiber of your being. Even then it's probably going to end badly, but at least your hormones will be happy for a while. That's a fine message, but this affair turned far more deep and destructive. I was going to mention that this kind of disaster could only happen to ME, with my pie-in-the-sky idealism, and that my gallows humor response while it was happening was that if i was going to "do the time" so brutally, at the very least i should have gone ahead and "committed the crime".
But nothing funny was about to happen, and "Fatal Attraction" ain't Hollywood bullshit.
My memory is imperfect, but i think we never again met in person after i got back. It all quickly and horribly descended into a place of literal insanity. Her messages grew ever more off-balance and hateful...but not in a way that can be understood through any rational lens. Even as i try to put it into words, i fear the flavor of the insanity will be lost...partly because my mind wasn't trying to hold on to each bizarre detail, and partly because you really had to be there to appreciate the disconnect between what had happened, and her reaction. "Disconnect" is the perfect word - i think she was in some kind of mental breakdown, and not fully cognizant. She said that i had fucked her over, and that she wasn't someone whom i could use and throw away. She asked whether i was afraid that she would report me to the library.
Report me??
Her barrage lessened after a couple weeks, but went on for a couple months...hate-filled words denigrating every aspect of my life. It came mostly in e-mails, with an occasional phone message. When i wrote back, she replied that she wouldn't read anything i wrote, and that i had to call her. I realized that ANY response would only feed the fire, so i stopped trying. She later wrote that i probably wasn't even reading her notes any more, which was untrue. Even though i'd done nothing to deserve this, and even though every assault was an unprotected blunt trauma to my stomach and already weakened emotional walls, i read every word. In my perverse sense of duty, i felt i owed her that. I understood that her mind wasn't in control.
The inhumanity i experienced in those months...not knowing whether she would show up at my door, or whether she were capable of physical violence...i imagined the sound of a bullet being the last thing i heard in life. I tried to smile at the undercurrent of terror. All this from someone who had written a spiritual, holy book filled with messages of universal love. One night i was having a disquieting dream about fire, and slowly awoke to the crackles and pops of a burning building. Was it my own home?? No, it was the cabana bar across the canal. Chalk one up for poetically brutal coincidence.
Adding to the mindfuck was the fact that every sixth or seventh message was almost though she halfway understood that what she was doing was wrong. She wrote that she had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (during those three years when her life's two closest lovers had died, her sister and mother also died). She sent me a snail-mail letter with three words - "god loves you".
Are you ready for perhaps the most shocking element of this story? I never, up to this very moment, stopped dreaming of making love with her. In some ways, her breakdown actually increased my desire. We had gotten to a point that almost no lovers ever reach - nothing was hidden anymore. I had seen her at her most horribly damaged. There could be no more pretense between us. I wanted to spend hours gently fucking her, then hold her while she tried to talk about what she had survived.
Some of that is noble and good...but much of it isn't. I dreamed of her coming to me, and telling me it was all a mistake, and all she can dream of is being held by me, with no expectations of any kind. Terrifying...but i swear i don't know what i would do if she knocked on my door right now, and said those very words. I dream of reaching out to her, with perhaps an anonymous "i love you" left at her door. The rational part of my mind knows that i have no idea what she's capable of, either in act or accusation, so if she did show up i would spend time with her, but only in public places. I want so much to love her...but that also gives me a sweeping insight into all those women who get involved with, or stay with, men who abuse them. We're all so needy and damaged, and spend our lives covering it up, sometimes even from ourselves. A man who punches you, physically or emotionally, has to CARE on some level very deeply, right? Being brutalized or raped is a small price to pay for that certainty, right?

*That's one of the benchmarks for inclusion in these memoirs - anyone i've kissed, or with whom i've had a significant shared romantic attachment.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

rape dream

I had a rape wet dream last night...
This is quite curious. For one thing, i haven't had a wet dream in years, and i've been masturbating at least once a day all week (contrast that with a two-week holiday i took this year in which i had no sex of any kind, yet no nocturnal emissions).
The greater curiosity however, is that it may have been the first rape dream of my life. I remember no other...and i've been having sex dreams for over thirty years. I was the rapist, in case it occurs to you to wonder (it almost didn't occur to me that you might, which tells you about my assumptions). Since we remember only a fraction of our dreams, it's possible that i've had such dreams before. Perhaps even statistically likely. Yet i can say with certainty that it's my first rape wet dream, as i've never not woken up just as i'm about to come. Perhaps it's a long shot, but i'm inclined to think this was my first rape dream. It was just too singular and intense.
And rather searingly beautiful.
Here's what i remember. I was in some sort of building, perhaps a very large house. It was after dark. I became aware of two other people in the house. They seemed to be partners, one man and one woman. I realized they were burglars...or was it I who was the burglar? Isn't it bizarre that i can't recall? I'm pretty sure it was them though, and i may even have been some kind of security. I got the drop on them. The male, an older man, went to some other part of the house. The woman was in her twenties, caucasian with short brown wavy hair. I held her facedown. I must have taken her clothes off, as suddenly she's naked. She has a beautiful, toned physique with amazing skin, and breasts that melt my mind. Wanting to secure her so i can deal with other things, i wrap her wrists and upper arms behind her back with blue masking tape. With such weak tape, she's bound to break free. The tape tears a bit, but holds. I'm tussling with her on the floor, and it becomes intensely sexual. Almost as soon as my erect penis brushes against her, i feel myself coming, and wake up.
Rape - perhaps the most morally revolting human act. Yet the moment i felt her naked form against me, i knew i could never want anything else in the world. She was resisting, but not like she could have. Was she on some level a willing participant? So many women have rape fantasies. Some even act them out. Is it all mental sickness? Probably, but that's too easy an answer. We are sexual beings, living in a repressed society. Of course we're all a little insane. And there are levels to that we've only begun to understand - one scientific theory holds that rape has a natural evolutionary function.
It's probably not coincidental that before i went to sleep last night, i had started writing about a recent almost-romance in which i came more face to face with raw insanity than anything i've ever experienced. It was traumatic and terrifying.
And yet...if i could go back to that dream tonight, i would. If i had the option of living there forever, i'd consider it long and hard.
Does it say nothing good about me that this woman was so physically beautiful? We are all damaged in ways we've only begun to understand - so dehumanized and objectified that probably none of us will ever have a truly healthy relationship, sexual or otherwise.
And i had a rape dream. How about you?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

"CPO Sharkey"

-created by aaron ruben
"I hope you kept the cotton mill down south, because if this show goes like the others, you're out of work come January."
-johnny carson, to harrison page

Well, that seems a little unfair. No, not the racism that johnny laid on SHARKEY supporting actor harrison (although that certainly qualifies), but the cheap shot taken at star don rickles' TV career. As far as i can tell, don only had one failed series at the time (THE DON RICKLES SHOW, 7 episodes...but we'll give johnny the benefit of the doubt, as perhaps there was a parade of failed pilots). This one lasted two seasons...but i'm not sure how. It endures in the zeitgeist only because of an in-studio interruption of filming by mr. carson, who came to bust rickles' chops for a mishap as TONIGHT SHOW guest host the night before. The drop-in was aired, and it's historically hilarious (just make sure you watch the unexpurgated version).
And the show itself? They tried to squeeze some humor out of having don play a crusty petty officer in charge of navy recruits, but the writers were on the fast track to Alpo commercials, leaving the actors with nothing to do but mug shamelessly (and indicate incessantly, as they say in acting circles). Every character is reduced to a two-dimensional "bit" that they play with minor variations in every episode. A gawky aide guffaws, not realizing he's being made fun of! The captain chews sharkey out! A brother lays some jive! A puerto rican speaks spanish! Sharkey makes fun of buck teeth! Funny! They had a female base commander the first season, which had potential, but the writers gave her nothing to work with and she was replaced with a walking male stereotype in season 2. I gutted out all 37 episodes, out of a warped sense of duty and the off-chance that lightning might strike.
Is it a trove of politically incorrect put-downs of polacks, jews, hispanics, asians, and the ugly/aged/effeminate? Yes, but it's too pathetic to be hated. Curiously, its one redemption was its treatment of blacks - sharkey's best bud harrison (SLEDGE HAMMER!, HILL STREET BLUES) is easygoing, intelligent, and of equal rank. The jiving recruit never loses his dignity. And the only two genuinely good episodes are about sharkey's interactions with blacks, done in a way that feels almost progressive, inventive, and daring. So here they are, plus one homophobic episode so cringe-worthy you'll never forget it.
-The Dear John Letter
-Sharkey Boogies on Down
-Sharkey's Secret Life

Sunday, February 12, 2017

"The Jesus Discovery"

(The New Archaeological Find that Reveals the Birth of Christianity)
-by james d. tabor and simcha jacobovici
Jesus bones! Getcher jesus bones here!!
No, really. We've got 'em.
Okay, not all of them. But fragments. Most of the big pieces disappeared soon after his family tomb was cracked opened four decades ago in Jerusalem, before the authorities had any idea what they were dealing with. So presumably his mostly-complete skeleton is in the private display of some creepy millionaire, next to joan of arc's hymen. Or maybe the damn masons have it. Whatever.
But we've got fragments. Enough to get a DNA sampling.
Don't get overexcited, the DNA isn't high-density enough for anything like cloning, you sick sycophant. Still, i've got to say i'm impressed with how unimpressed i am by all this. It didn't occur to me until weeks after i finished this book that anyone might wonder whether jesus had "abnormal" DNA. The question didn't even pop into my mind until an idle moment a month or two later. Sometimes i forget the insanity of this world, and can't imagine why anyone would think he wasn't a normal human.
But this is all kind of exciting, especially within the context of the bureaucratic restrictions regarding access to the garden and patio tombs at the center of the story. Even without the added pressure of reactionary fundamentalists who are allowed to hold positions of authority, exploring ancient tombs (especially sealed ones) in Israel is well-nigh impossible.
The book is a follow-up to tabor's "The Jesus Dynasty" (, and jacobovici's "The Jesus Family Tomb". Tabor had to pull some punches in his first book, as some evidence was still missing; for instance a cellular analysis of the james ossuary ("james brother of jesus son of joseph)", which confirms its originating in the jesus family tomb. Early on, critics (and morons who couldn't handle the idea of jesus leaving behind a skeleton) scrambled to deny these findings, claiming that the names from the tomb was common in 1st-century assessment that doesn't stand up to scrutiny, given the presence of rare nicknames, honorifics, and early christian imagery. As it turns out, mary magdalene was jesus' wife, a primary leader of the movement, and the mother of jesus' child judah.
Early critics also protested that jesus' humble origins meant he would never be found in a rich family tomb such as these, but the movement had patrons - specifically joseph of aramathea, who was loaded. The Bible places him at the scene of the crucifixion, taking charge, and the evidence points to the patio tomb being his family tomb.
Do we know with absolute certainty that these are the bones of the jesus of the Bible? Of course not, it was 2000 years ago. But if you process the data through academically rigorous statistical probability, correlating them with historical texts, the notion that these are NOT jesus' bones would never occur to an unbiased academic.
Fascinating. And a fantastic read...not just for the sensational aspect, but for how tabor sheds light on the long-hidden story of what happened in the decades before (and after) jesus' death. Except in bits and pieces, this is not the jesus you know. But being a real human, this one's more compelling.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

"Alone in the Universe"

-by Jeff Lynne's ELO
Why don't i love this album?
Is it just timing? My hopes and expectations in a bad marriage with the product, which in itself isn't inferior at all? Or is it truly subpar ELO?
Truly, i'm not sure.
I think jeff succeeded in his ambition - to make an album of finely-crafted pop songs, in the hopes that one or more might become part of our cultural heritage, to be hummed in absent-minded moments by people anywhere for years to come.
Not a bad ambition, that.
The album just feels insubstantial to me. Lyrically and musically, i wanted more. The lyrics are neither socially grand nor intensely personal, so they occupy some middle ground and end up being...nothing, really. And okay, that one's on me - these are no more nor less deep than ELO lyrics have ever been. I guess after the richness of jeff's life, i was hoping he would dig deeper.
And the music...well, it's curious that he should choose this album to return to the ELO name, as there's absolutely nothing orchestral here. The musicianship and production are top notch, but there's zero symphonic ambition. Did he just resurrect the ELO brand because his solo albums didn't light up the charts? Jeff plays and sings pretty much everything, bless him - not even a token appearance by mr. tandy this time. And there's plenty to love, particularly some beautiful slide guitar, by which one can't wonder whether jeff is tipping his hat to fellow Wilbury georgie.
So am i just making excuses to cover the fact that there's not even one song that jumps out and says "Hey! I MUST be on any ELO anthology to come! Wheeee!" Or ten years from now, will i realize what a treasure it is that this album exists at all, and only a grumpy fusspot could have poo-pooed? "Love and Rain" and "The Sun will Shine on You" are very listenable. "All My Life" is a sweet love song, presumably to his new amour. I was prepared to puke at a dinosaur rocker blowing smoke up his new (and very much younger) squeeze's ass by kicking his ex-loves, but shame on my presumption - it turns out jeff's new lady is his contemporary age-wise. In appreciation, perhaps we should institute a pop song law - no artist under the age of sixty shall ever again be allowed to use the words "forever" or "only one" in a song; but coming from jeff at this stage of his life, such sentiments are almost sweet. The title track should have been a sweeping statement on existential isolation, instead of another "she left me" song...but musically, it's too great to deny.
Maybe some feel that way about the whole album.
Maybe they're right.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

"Brothers & Sisters"

-created by jon robin baitz
Reeking of stupidity from every pore...
Such egregious badness ought not even discussed, as any attention is more than it deserves. But perhaps someday you, like myself, might discover the complete series for five dollars at a tag sale, and remember, hey, isn't that where rob lowe landed after leaving WEST WING? And being very loyal like myself, you might open your wallet, hoping for the best (or at least something watchable).
Or maybe you're a calista flockhart fan. Or tom skerritt (the POISON IVY franchise never quite recovered from his departure, did it?). Or sally field (Sally?? What the hell are you DOING here???). Or maybe you've just always loved the name "balthazar getty". Whatever the case, you'll be holding in your hands one of the most vapid, insipid, unwatchable shows ever to reach that magic five-year syndication status.
I gutted out four episodes, skipped ahead to mr. lowe's debut, but even then could only stomach a further ninety-some minutes.
You may cry at the wasted talent, as the acting is top-notch. You may scratch your head trying to figure out how it could be so, so, so bad. You may have a epiphany when you absent-mindedly let the end credits run all the way, and then it will pop up and all will be clear.
Disney made this steaming, runny pile.
Life is almost never so on the button. This show may not be exhibit A in why they should have shuttered the studio after walt died...
But if it's not, it's only because memory can protect us from abominations too traumatic to deal with.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

dear sue

Dear sue,
Thank you for the figurine! The coincidental resemblance to me is almost startling. I love it. I'll also try to not hate it.
Hate it, you say? Whatever for?
It's kind of ugly.
Bearing in mind that "ugly" is a relative term...
Yet also not.
For that figurine captures one of my looks that i've always wanted to disown. I don't mean "expression", either. I've always been aware that i have two fairly distinct looks, and whichever one you get is dependent upon...well, nothing more than timing, as it seems to have nothing to do with lighting or grooming. For most of my adult life i've been aware that, more so than the average person, sometimes i look attractive and other times not.
I don't think it's in my head, either. My level-headed friend shelly once said that sometimes i look yummy, other times...pheh. In some of my photos, i think i look like a movie others, a dog's breakfast. Perhaps by and large, this is a good thing. It's character building to have a built-in vanity buffer. Still, how does one not become a little schizophrenic?
I know, i know, all this focus on beauty...understand, i've spent a lifetime trying to rise above such shallowness. To not judge myself or others based upon our physical shells. In some ways, perhaps i've succeeded. Yet sometimes, i feel i've gotten nowhere. It's such a dysfunctional, dehumanizing culture. We spend our entire lives leveraging our primary asset (ourselves) to try to get the most love and happiness and comfort we can. Nothing is given, and nothing can't be taken away in the blink of an eye. Feelings of self-worth and attractiveness become so frail and contingent. Wealth and brains and personality go a long way...yet each one of us is forever a bit (or a whole lot) scarred by the relationship we have with that face and body staring back in the mirror. It can be so hard to remember that that's us...but it's not "US", not by any definition that matters. My own personal cross is that i'm attractive enough to have been chosen more than once in the theater world as a romantic "leading man" (try not to let THAT go to your head), yet knowing my curious looks-duality, a little piece of my mind probably always wonders how many of my life's rejections, in romance and elsewhere, were just a matter of bad timing? If a certain conversation, or chance meeting, had happened one day earlier or later, maybe my life would have gone in entirely different directions? Most people have to deal with not looking the way they want to look. I have to deal with not looking the way i look.
It can be so hard (impossible, really) to not live in one's head. So hard to experience any emotions mindlessly, free of the fear of loss.
And it galls me to know that i agree with shelly! Sometimes the face i see in the mirror is ugly. And yet i know, i absolutely know, that i have a healthier self-image than most.
What a mindfuck, this world of ours.
Anyway, i'm going to cherish this figurine. The symbolic value of doing so is immeasurable.
So for that (and a depth of response that you probably never imagined coming), i thank you. I'm touched that you "recognized" and thought of me.