Friday, July 25, 2003

Vacaciones! Mua! Mua!

I will be in the Denver, CO area from July 26 through August 3. If I have the opportunity I'll share some of that excursion as it unfolds.

Bon temps!
XV: James Bondage

"I should probably get going," Maureen told me.

"Get going? Is the date over already? It's only... what time is it?"


"It's only two. What's wrong with that?"

"I told Debbie I'd be back tonight," Maureen said. "I should call. I hope she's not staying up."

Maureen set her hand on the receiver and then paused. "What if she's asleep?"

"I don't see why you should have to go back tonight anyway. I'm not such a bad guy."

"Not bad."

"What do you mean 'not bad'?" I said, surprised.

"Well, I didn't know that before."

"You don't know that now, either."

"Then why are you trying to convince me?"

"Anyone can try to convince you they're not a bad guy! That's what every jerk does."

"Well, at least you're not any type of threat. I should call Debbie and tell her I'm staying. I don't feel like trekking back to Brooklyn."

"Tell her if she wants to be so involved she should have showed up two hours ago with a change of clothes. Why am I not a threat?"

"Orion!," Maureen squealed, pushing her face close to mine. "I didn't mean it like that, honey."

"You think just because I had an episode in the hallway--"

"Hey, look buster, I've been waiting around all night for you to take advantage of me. It's getting late and I'm tired."

"Well, how am I supposed to take advantage of you, anyway? I have to be in a position of advantage. We have to create some kind handicap for you."

"Do you want to tie one arm behind my back?"

"I mean a financial advantage."

"In that case I should be taking advantage of you."

"I wish you would hurry up. I'm about to pass out over here."

"I'll call Debbie. I hope she's not already asleep."

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

A Solidarity Among Women

To all actresses who have played actresses, to all women who act, to men who act and become women, to all the people who want to be mothers. To my mother.

--Pedro Almodóvar

Fourteen: Sex

Well, we didn't have sex, that's for certain. The reader may ask how this can be--how, after all that has been shared so far, and with such clarity of purpose, just how can it be that intercourse did not announce itself at our chamber door, beg pardon for the delay--it had come direct from an engagement in the South Bronx--and conspire to remedy the situation posthaste? It is a hard thing to make sense of, I will grant you that. Many have been the evenings since when I have pondered this mystery; to my best estimate, all the component parts were in place, to say nothing of the political justification provided by the war. Of course, it is all too easy too blame oneself in these things--for my rather embarrassed station in life, say--and that is why I prefer to blame my date instead. She seemed persistently in a state of not having sex with me for the entire evening, and in retrospect it strikes me as grossly inappropriate.

On the other hand, when it comes to sex I am not very persuasive, not even to myself, and doubtless this contributed rather centrally to the outcome. Sex is excellent in theory. Unfortunately, in practice it is even better. This is a tremendous injustice when you haven't had any practice since the Carter administration--doubly so when the only thing you were practicing was Catholicism. I want no truck with Catholicism; it is a discussion best left for another time. And what can be said of sex in this particular circumstance is pitiful little; as such perhaps the reader will grant me reprieve for the duration.

Monday, July 21, 2003

On Love

by Woody Allen

To be a really good lover, then, one must be strong yet tender. How strong? I suppose being able to lift fifty pounds should do it. Bear in mind also that to the lover the loved one is always the most beautiful thing imaginable, even though to a stranger she may be indistinguishable from an order of smelts. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Should the beholder have poor eyesight, he can ask the nearest person which girls look good. (Actually, the prettiest ones are almost always the most boring, and that is why some people feel there is no God.)

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Calls from the Public

To :

Subject :
scenester get thee behind me

Date :
Sun, 20 Jul 2003 07:46:27 -0700 (PDT)

good morning,

i watched the animated short (if one can call it that) and i have 2 observations. first, people under the age of 30 overuse overusing the word "random." i am appointing you, 26 year old ryan to combat this plague.

the other judgement is on the voiceover guy. that fake cheech and chong voice is so very bad i'm having trouble finding just the right un-random words to express my disdain for it. i'm sorry to rain on your new found love for these little animated twirps that have simply classified their friends by the outfits, or shall we say costumes, that they wear, but i feel strongly about speaking my mind.

ryan, please help rid society of the overuse of the word random, it is being ruined, diluted even.

thanks for everything,


Saturday, July 19, 2003

The Scenesters

This is pretty good, but where are all the indie-rockers? For now we will have to let the Emo-kids suffice.

The Scenesters!!

Friday, July 18, 2003

In Defense of the CIA

CIA Director George Tenet:

FACT: Although Tenet Took Blame For Misinformation, He Had Repeatedly Warned Bush Officials That Evidence Was Flawed.

March 2002: CIA discovered and then advised the White House that reports connecting Iraq and Niger were probably false. [Time, 7/13/03]

October 2002: CIA Director George Tenet personally warned Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley that Niger intelligence should be excluded from Bush's Oct. 7 speech. The White House cut all Niger references from that speech. [New York Times, 7/13/03]

September 2002: CIA warned British intelligence to discontinue use of Niger information, saying its accuracy had been questioned. [Washington Post, 7/11/03; Bush State of the Union Address, 1/28/03]

December 2002: CIA warned State Department to eliminate references to Niger in briefings. [USA Today, 6/13/03; AP, 6/12/03]

Days before Bush's State of the Union address CIA analyst Alan Foley warned NSC staffer Robert Joseph that the intelligence was not certain. [New York Times, 7/13/03]

Play George W. Bush Credibility Twister!

Tuesday, July 15, 2003


At length I divested myself of the evening's hardships, prostrate on the bed of our hotel suite. Much to the credit of my companion, I was not solicited to detail the varied misfortunes of my trek, but rather was left at peace, and attended to with a welcome impartiality. From some place Maureen had procured a tray to be placed at the bedside; and on this tray had been assembled some pieces of fruit and chocolate, and a decanter of ice water. Of the citrus fruits I did not readily partake on account of their tricky nature, but with the chocolates I was greatly pleased, and of these I ate a considerable quantity before Maureen thought to join me.

"Chocolate is good," I reflected, and Maureen nodded, smiling.


While much is made of the enamouring qualities which chocolate is believed to possess, and while Maureen did, indeed, strike me as particularly lovely in this circumstance; and while in the duration of my recovery I had not felt so acutely the strum of my heart-strings as I did at present; still it is very hard for me to explain the outcome of this exchange by the simple introduction of sugary treats to the equation. I should rather like to think that the unseemliness and mounting misfortune of this whole affair had by some means induced itself into throes of an erotic crescendo! Terrorists be damned--I was no longer to be deemed a soft target!

Sunday, July 13, 2003


The ice bucket was nowhere to be found. I first ventured to trace the trajectory of its flight from the site of my collapse; but this ultimately proved fruitless--I could no longer distinguish the direction I was heading from the direction whence I had come. A mounting frustration weighed itself upon my spirits, prompting me finally to flail and kick about the darkened corridor, jerking my already beleaguered anatomy hither and thither, in the vain hope I might smite the accursed thing with some piece of me, thereby revealing its location. I felt myself being reduced to hysterics in short order, half-cursing and half-sobbing my way along the thoroughfare--now pleading with the article that it should return to my possession, now vowing its certain and wholesale destruction when it did. If I did not find this wretched ice bucket, and procure some god-damnable ice, then surely the terrorists would win.

Finally I sat down. My physical exertion had once again produced a feeling of lightheadedness and nausea, and I found it hard to breathe, what with the peculiar tightness in my chest. I am not any kind of athletic person, after all; my present dilemma being enough to daunt even the most splendidly capable brute, I thought I did rather well for myself, all things considered. At least I had not lost consciousness or been trod upon by any of the hotel wait-staff. I was a special operative deep behind enemy lines, having suffered a string of indignities, but never to compromise my tactical imperative of stealth and concealment! Why, my very objective remained concealed, even from me!

When Maureen appeared alongside me with the ice bucket in hand, I was still crouched in the darkness, contemplating my central role in the war and in the valiant cause of homeland security. What next I remember was waking in bed with a damp towel across my head.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Eleven: An Unfortunate Setback

No sooner had I advanced several yards than I was arrested by a curious, radiating pronouncement through the left hemisphere of my body. Presently I cried out, and crumpled to the floor of the passage, ejecting the ice bucket from my grasp at a considerable velocity, and purposing in some way to cushion my fall--in this case with my shoulder and the better portion of an ear. There I would remain, corpse-like and immobile, until sensation saw fit to revisit itself upon my limbs, and life upon my cadaver.

With some effort I erected myself, taking careful inventory of my every extremity, lest some item should prove lost or impaired. Satisfied to this end, I sought to survey the corridor for any token of immediate approach. I discerned none. Could it be that the terms of my pursuit were wholly imagined? Surely I might easily have been overtaken in the course of my tribulation. Or perhaps the strangeness of my method struck bewilderment in the heart of my pursuer? Whatever the case may be, I could sense no immediate threat; nothing, that is, beyond the irregular ticking of my heart-valve.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Give It Up, Let It Go

This song is one of my favorites. From a woman's perspective it may have much more "crunchy" guitar than we normally tolerate--I am not a woman, but my musical tastes are largely emasculated: I don't care for crunchy guitar myself--but what's great about this song is how melodic it is. The harmonies are crazy, like something out of the Beach Boys. Check out the harmonies on the very last chorus of the song. Crazy-retarded. I can't tell you what this song is about, but with a name like Give It Up, Let It Go, I like to think of it as an anthem for life; or, if nothing else, my music career.

Give It Up, by George

What began with an
Earnest yearning
For pure utility
Quickly became
A hemispheric purging performed
With Stalinesque finesse

All their papers burned
And their tapes erased
With their arms cut off
All hands were lost
Left helpless for anonymity
To snuff their infamy

Not revenge for an
Opaque offense
Merely irrelevence
Lesson to be learned:
Muses, use your aesthetes with care
For they're your archivists

Ten: Riddles in the Dark

The corridor was still. No boss, no bludgeon. On the other hand I couldn't see very far, not even to the end of the hallway, nor back to the elevator, peering as I might.

"Christ almighty," I observed.

I oriented myself in keeping with Maureen's instructions and began to tread
lightly in this direction. So far so good. A little ice would do well, I thought. I only hoped there would not be a crowd, nor any dancing. I'd hate to make something like this into a major production. How long is this hallway, anyway? It seems not to run perfectly straight either, rather in some kind of trend-setting arc. It's a pretty fascinating hotel, after all. And how about that crazy shower? I would get to the bottom of that before I left, that was sure. Somebody's bottom had to be got to, anyway, if the date was to be deemed a success. By the standards of on-line dating this was a watershed moment which now rested wholly in my capable, if violently tremulous hands. All things being equal, it was unfortunate that I had since assumed the role of hunter-gatherer, which I have never enjoyed, except perhaps when I can find a 2/$3 bargain on bread at ACME. Saturday nights are the best time to go, when the greasy throng are busy sluicing themselves up for date-rape and a fist-fight on Delaware Avenue, although by that time there is not much hope left for bread, or for produce; but at the very least my sanity is preserved, and I can oft times escape unmolested by man or child--

"What the hell was that?" I started. Some distance behind me was suggested the soft thud as of a door closing. There was nothing to be seen; the distance was too great. I held perfectly still. Even my breathing was suspended. What was that? Footsteps? Or the intolerable din of blood in susurration about my head! Oh, what torment held sway in that moment! It could very well be footsteps; after all, there was no reason to imagine Maureen's boss did not have feet! And now with everyone spying about for terrorists!

"Oh fuck," I declared.

I endeavored to hasten my emaciated frame down the corridor. In confrontation I am pointedly bereft of any natural ability; but in flight I am more than able. I also boast an impressive gait--all the more impressive after years of not owning a car, relying on my dogs as a regular means of propulsion. It was clear to me that I could outrun a small, spiteful man. But could I evade him?

Monday, July 07, 2003

Warm Body

The next installment of A Man for All Treasons is forthcoming, with an estimated arrival time of Wednesday evening, I think. In the meantime I hope you will listen to more of George's music. I'll be spending most of tomorrow evening rehearsing with him, so blame him for the delay, and whatever else suits your fancy.

I've had this song in my head all day today; it has great toy-piano.

Warm Body

You know it's a long walk home
Don't think that you have to go
Better here than on your own
Better me than all alone

In your youth, time was on your side
But the years have not been kind
Where once you could always choose
Here tonight I'll have to do

It's hard to view someone like you
Encumbered by your past
So throw that yoke upon the back
Of somebody designed for that

You're sharp-tongued and armed to the teeth
Oh, but don't point that thing at me
I'm as far from beautiful
As I am dependable

It's hard to view someone like you
Encumbered by your past
So throw that yoke upon the back
Of somebody designed for that

You pine to climb in someone's arms
It doesn't matter whose
A king would yield his scepter
For a warm body to use
Savage Fired by MSNBC

July 7, 2003

Michael Savage's MSNBC show, The Savage Nation, was cancelled today
because of homophobic remarks made by the host on the July 5 edition of
the show, according to an Associated Press (AP) report. Those
comments--labeling a caller "a sodomite" and telling him to "get AIDS and
die"-- were the subject of a FAIR action alert earlier today.

MSNBC spokesperson Jeremy Gaines told AP, "His comments were extremely
inappropriate and the decision was an easy one."

Over the past five months, FAIR activists have written more than 2,000
individual letters to MSNBC expressing their concerns about Savage's
record of bigotry and hate, and criticizing the network for hiring a host
who routinely traffics in slurs while firing host Phil Donahue over his
anti-war views.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

A Musical Interlude

It's a strange and wonderful thing when the songs that stick in your head are either your own or a friend's. George Pasles' songs have been in my head for years now, regularly playing themselves out for me on my commute, at work, or at the surface of sleep. I want to post several with lyrics (click on the name of the song to download), and here is the first:

Room Enough, by Overlord

Well we've lived too long
Much longer than we'd wanted
And we grew so dull
Far duller than thought possible
Yet our maudlin wails
Trail any hint of trauma
For though we've no hope
We're still addicts to its drama

Are the depths of your sympathies so endless?
Is there anyone that you couldn't love?

The sad are wretched
And the happy are merely wrong
So you shift your pitch
To match who you'll string along
Demonstrate your love
With a straightedge and compass
Proving our lifelines
Are strictly asymptotic

Are the depths of your sympathies so endless?
Is there anyone that you couldn't love?
Is the breadth of our empathy limitless?
Is there anyone that you couldn't love?

Nine: Prelude to a Disaster

"That was Debbie again," Maureen reported.


"She says New York has gone to code cadmium orange-lite with just a smidge of alizarin crimson."

"What the hell does that mean?"

"It means a heightened possibility for a terrorist attack. And she says they'll be going after soft targets, like hotels and restaurants."

"Oh god, look at this place--it's one big soft target. Even this bed is soft."

"It's a little disconcerting."

"Well, what do we do? Ask for a discount?"

"No, snoopy, the Hotel doesn't discount for terrorism. That's just letting the terrorists win."

"Look, I'm from Philadelphia. I don't believe in terrorism. I believe in discounts."

"Well, that's how management here feels. They can't let the terrorists win."

"Let them win? What the hell does that mean, anyway? Are they trying to break into the hotel business?"

"They're trying to blow up the hotel business."

"Right. Well, I should probably get going. I have to work Monday."

"I'm sorry, lambchop," Maureen said, taking my arm. "Did I make you uncomfortable?"

"No, you're perfectly all right."

"But all the talk of terrorism... did I frighten you?"

"Look, I'm from Philadelphia. I'm not afraid of dying in a fiery catastrophe. I just don't want to be here when it happens."

"Honey, we've been dealing with this for two years. The staff is taking every precaution to screen the items and people who come into the hotel."

"They're not doing us any favors letting people like me spend the night. God, I'm thirsty. Didn't we get any water to go with our alcohol?"

"There's some bottled water, but it's warm now."

"Do we have any ice?"

"We did. There's an ice machine at the end of the hall, though. Would you be a dear and get us some more?"

A fresh wave of anxiety seized me. "What? You mean out in the hallway?"

"Yes, boy-toy, right at the end of the hallway. I would order more from room service but I'd rather not be their singular source of entertainment for the evening."

"Won't you come with me? I don't know where you mean exactly."

"Silly, it's right at the end of the hall. Just make a left and follow the lights. Here, take our ice bucket," she said. "I would get it myself but I don't want to run into you-know-who."

"Your boss?"

"That's right."

"Well, I don't want to run into your boss, either. At least if you came with me it would be two against one. Besides, can't he just look you up on the register? He's probably lurking out there right now, ready to bludgeon the first person who steps out of the door."

"He's with the restaurant, not the hotel. Whatever he's heard he won't be able to verify. The hotel manager tonight is my buddy," Maureen winked.

Reluctantly I got up. I was all out of sorts, frankly.

"You don't have a flashlight or anything?"

"Sorry, hon."

"Okay," I said dejectedly. "But listen, keep the door locked and don't open it for anyone--not even me, unless I'm screaming 'Open the door!' Then open it quickly."

"Go get 'em, tiger."

Friday, July 04, 2003


After a brief interval and some anxiety over the positioning of my left arm, the phone in our suite began to ring. Maureen shot up.

"That's for me," she said, and grabbed the extension. I imagined it was some member of the restaurant staff--and sincerely hoped it would not be her boss. I didn't know anything about Oompa-loompas, but I knew well enough that where small, angry men of authority are concerned, they do best to wax apoplectic in my absence. I could clearly envision him barging into our room, Maureen and I caught in the act of some extreme immorality, like watching Showtime, or eating take-out pizza on chic plates. His rage would radiate like an iron smelt at the nexus where professional duty met his private campaign to woo Maureen into precisely the same scenario--namely, bed--only by means of power instead of poverty. The betrayal would be all the worse for it, stoking his wounded pride and discarded authority into a murderous hemorrhage. It will be noted that I do not do well in these scenarios, where pizza dinner is suddenly recast into a high-plains African fracas for land and dominance. I have never cared for competitive athletics on any level (including billiards) and I resent circumstances which create for me this expectation to perform in a predetermined role of action: I am better suited to disappoint at my own discretion than to impress at someone else's.

"That was my roommate," she told me afterwards. "If you want to strangle me and cart my remains out of the building you're out of luck. She's home and will probably be calling every fifteen minutes now."

"What if I told her you went for a walk?"

"It's 10:30, sugarchicken."

"You decided to get a separate hotel room. You're right down the hall from me, doing well."

"Not on my salary. And she knows you don't have any money."

"Who ever heard of a poor mass-murderer?"

"This ass is not a mass, dear."

"Who ever heard of a poor single-person murderer?

"Hey, what's all the talk about murder, anyway? What if you just wanted to take advantage of my body against my will?"

"That's how all my dates turn out. Why can't you take advantage of my body against my will?"

"Then Debbie would have no reason to call."

"What's wrong with that?"

Maureen reeled back. "I'm alone in a hotel room with a stranger and you're saying a single girl in New York can't have a friend check in on her!? ....I would never take advantage of you against your will," she said obstinately.

"Well, what if I gave my consent?"

"Then I would have no reason to take advantage of you."

"What if you gave your consent?"

"Then Debbie would have no reason to call."

"What's wrong with that?"

"A Russian woman just disappeared not two weeks ago and you're saying it's safe to shack up with any strange, impoverished fool you meet over the internet!?"

"What if I wasn't saying it was safe to shack up with any strange, impoverished fool you meet on the internet?"

"Then you would have no reason to be dating me."

"What if I wasn't dating you?"

"Then you would have no reason to be poor."

"You have high-class tastes."

"I do."

"If I weren't poor I would never be able to afford dating you."

"If you weren't dating me you could never afford to be poor."

"Then Debbie would have no reason to call."


That was when the phone rang for a second time.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Seven: The Burden of My Affections

Now, it has never been a trademark of mine that I should enjoy particular mastery in beseeching the wily female to suspend better judgment in favor of gradually becoming naked in my company. (For years this woeful inadequacy, this nettlesome spectre, has haunted even the grandest of opportunities.) To this end I am usually resigned to despair from the outset; I endeavor instead to invest myself in the few small things I can affect, such as breathing through my nose instead of my mouth, maintaining an appropriate posture, and taking care not to hold hands lest mine prove unduly temperate. These are small things, hardly commensurate to the caliber of upper-class chicanery required for the American woman to remove her bra, but whose aggregate weight I like to regard as working somehow in my favor. And to their credit, they have at times afforded me the calming knowledge that all bras must eventually be removed in one context or another--of this we can be certain--and as such so too will my beloved be removing hers, even if it is several hours after our date, while brushing her teeth.

For the moment, Maureen has since ended our spat of patriotism in favor of an HBO movie starring Jessica Lange. I am watching it contentedly myself, remarking occasionally on the points I find noteworthy or humorous. It is not a very good film, I am afraid; and yet it seems to entertain nonetheless. The strangeness of our circumstances are being consumed by the familiarity of this American pastime, perhaps; and naturally there is little question as to the effects of alcohol and the steadfast approach of midnight on women and on men: Maureen pulls me alongside her singlemindedly.