Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks! (The Giving Of)

I’ll keep this short.  The other day I saw a warning sticker that helped me realize how good I have it.  We all bemoan whatever the annoyance du jour may be.  But it could always be worse and 'tis the season for remembering that.  A shitty financial state, a crumbling relationship, family guilt, whatever it is that seems so painful right now, at the very least you should be grateful you’re not being anally raped by a truck. 

If nothing else, know that it could always be worse. 
Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

John Choi

A man my age should probably have a better understanding of death than I do. Still the concept of someone I used to call a friend simply ceasing to exist is hard for me to wrap my head around.

Yesterday I got a TXT telling me that John Choi (tall John Choi) had succumbed to the cancer I didn’t know he was battling until a few days ago. Those of us who were blessed with a chance to play poker in the heyday of the Diamond Club know how insanely dense it was with larger than life characters. To stick out among that crowd was not an easy task by any means. But to be memorable for the right reasons, to stick out through the strength of your humor and the infectious nature of your smile, as was always the case with John, that was an honestly admirable accomplishment.

“Full of life” is one of the more abused clichés used to describe people in times like this. Nonetheless it is actually an apt description of how John will be remembered. The idea that he no longer exists does not make a lot of sense to me. When I got the TXT I didn’t know how to process the information. I didn’t know what to do. After the tears, Christi and I decided to go to the beach. It was early evening and the sun was setting soon. You can experience some incredible sunrises on the east coast beaches of Florida. However, looking out over the water, facing east, there’s not actually a setting sun to watch. But still Christi and I sat there in the sand at sundown. We sat there as the air got colder and the light faded. We sat there facing east and with no sun to watch it didn’t make a lot of sense. It still doesn’t.

John Choi

Wake: Thursday, Jan. 28, 8:00 p.m.

Funeral: Friday, Jan. 29, 10:00 a.m.

Central Funeral Home

809 Broad Ave.
Ridgefield, NJ


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Things I've Found After Spring Cleaning for the First Time in Over a Decade: a Mysterious Past

I’m not quite sure what the most confusing part of this find is? First of all, I don’t understand this patch for the “magical stages of puppetry”. Maybe I’m reading this one wrong, but if you make a statement that some stages of puppetry are magical then it would seem to me you’re implying that there exist other stages of puppetry that aren’t magical. Obviously that’s bullshit since everyone knows that ALL the stages of puppetry are magical. So this patch makes no sense to me. And what the hell is an “OMSI Almost Overnight”? It just sounds a little ominous. Do a bunch of Girl Scouts have a slumber party where they get all comfy and doze off in their flannel pajamas only to have one of the parents burst in at 4 in the morning with a water hose? “SCRAM!!”

It was so close to being an overnight…

Or is the really confusing part of this spring cleaning find just why on Earth I might possibly have a couple dozen pins and patches from the Columbia River Girl Scout Council, Portland OR. 1987? I don’t recall doing things with girl scouts or ever being in Portland for that matter. I can only think of 3 really logical explanations for why such things might be in my possession:

1) It might not be actual real Girl Scout merchandise. They could instead be sardonic patches commemorating black op missions that I took part in but that were just so vile that I have simply blocked them out.

Or 2) Maybe I have the opposite of a Mr. Hyde-like alter ego. Maybe I black out and instead of becoming a Mr. Hyde I become a kind of Miss Heidi, someone who likes to hang out with other girls between the ages of 5 and 17 in an accepting and nurturing environment where they can learn to appreciate their own potential and self worth as well as develop skills for success in the real world.

Or 3) Maybe I just found a bunch of the things in another bag that no one wanted to claim after moving out of an old apartment. And maybe I just don’t throw things out no matter how utterly irrelevant to my life they might be. Maybe I’ve got problems. Maybe.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Things I've Found After Spring Cleaning for the First Time in Over a Decade: an Old Body Part

There are a great many things that I have always assumed I wouldn't be good at: knitting, painting with watercolors, extreme interrogation of political prisoners, etc. And there are a great many things that I know from experience that I'm not good at: blogging frequently, cooking swiftly, writing a blog regularly, etc. However there are a few things that I know I am more than just "not good at." There are a few things that I am extremely, really, exceptionally not good at.

Throwing stuff out is one of these things. I don't know how to do it well. I don't like doing it. I am really very much not good at throwing stuff away. Spring cleaning, which by definition ought to be a yearly activity, doesn't happen a lot at my apartment. I would say that I haven't done spring cleaning in the almost nine years I've been at my latest NY apartment but that wouldn't be the whole truth.

One of the other things I'm monumentally not good at happens to be moving. On my last move I just stuffed a lot of things into vaguely labeled boxes and stored them in closets unopened. So if we drop those boxes into the mix we're pushing over ten years since I did a comprehensive, throwing-unnecessary-crap-out spring cleaning of the apartment that I have only been living in for nine years.

That has changed.

I am proud to say that my NY apartment has been officially sprung cleant. I’ve considered writing a long rambling and boring post about the existential ramifications of this spring cleaning and the reasons behind it. But for now you will be spared that post. Instead, I thought I would offer a pleasantly short picture post, the first of a possible series that I like to call: Things I've Found After Spring Cleaning for the First Time in Over a Decade.

I'm starting the series off with one of the happier discoveries; something that I thought was lost long ago, my tooth!

I've only had one cavity my adult life. It was in a wisdom tooth and on my dentist's advice I had it yanked rather than putting a filling in (hence the red circle on the side). I had always wanted to make this detatched body part into some sort of intimidating shark's tooth necklace but I hadn't seen it since moving. So you can imagine my joy at finding it. It happened to be hiding in a Ziploc bag packed away in a box marked "books and Misc" which I suppose makes sense since I imagine a disembodied tooth figures to be one of the more "Misc" things I might pack away.

The only interesting part of this discovery is just how ecstatic I was to find this tiny chunk of worn enamel. If I was in a Vegas pawn shop desperate for a stake in the $1-3 no ante, no bring in, stud game and all I had to hock was that gnarled tooth, I'd be in a lot of trouble. So on one hand it's utterly worthless.

But looking at it a little differently, you could say that in the entire entire world only 4 of these suckers exist, only 4. And the other 3 wisdom teeth are not only still attached to my jaw but they're also quite slobbery and gross. So, as a one of a kind piece, unattached and dry, it's hard to put a price on it. It's unique, literally irreplaceable, and from that standpoint utterly priceless.

It successfully straddles the line between totally worthless and completely priceless at the same time. I hadn't seen it in so long that I thought it had disappeared forever. And while finding it didn’t change my life in any actual way, for some reason it did make me extremely happy. I guess it's just comforting to know that this part of me will always be a part of me. As it turns out I am not big on throwing away priceless artifacts.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Better Science Through Cookies

This year we decided to do something different. The Christmas cookie medium has often been about a look back on the year that was. Unfortunately though, 2008 was kind of a rough year. I wasn’t sure if Christi’s nephews really needed a Christmas cookie depicting Ayn Rand raging through Wall Street, with foam and scraps of credit default swaps frothing from her mouth, as she rips chunks of flesh from the necks of hapless bankers? I imagine that that’s the image you could drop in the time capsule if you really wanted to sum up 2008, but as a Christmas cookie?

Also, it should be noted that Christi and I spend our Christmases with her family in Texas, one of the few remaining places where people still hem and haw a little before begrudgingly acknowledging that, yeah, I guess George Bush did break the world. Since the Bushes would be moving to Dallas after their occupation of the White House was over I saw no need to be making fun of the neighbors with some political jab at the outgoing administration. So I thought it best this year to, for the most part, look forward instead of back, to focus on the positive and shy away from the political this year. And that’s how this holiday became the year of the Stem Cell Christmas Cookies.

Coming out of one of the more historic elections this country has seen, the end of 2008 was rife with optimism. Times were starting to get rough but there was hope that fresh ideas at the country’s helm might bring about positive change. Among the many changes possible was a hope that the next few years would see science treated a little differently.

I don’t want to go all buck wild politico in this blog but I do have to go on record as being pretty disappointed in our country’s stem cell stance over the last 8 years. For what it’s worth I originally wrote a couple hundred words outlining my views on the subject. But looking back I decided to chop it out of this post. Spending 400 words to say “science is actually a good thing” seemed like a questionable use of your reading time. Instead I will simply assume we are all in agreement on this one. If anyone can explain to me how the ban on embryonic stem cell research was anything other than a case of the firewall between church and state not being properly maintained, then please help yourself to my comments section. If I am missing something here I would be happy to understand the issue better.

In the meantime I will just say that I am grateful to find out that our Christmas cookie optimism was not misguided. The current administration this week overturned the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Beyond just unshackling this vital field of research, I feel the president’s action goes a long way towards making us all look a little less retarded as a nation. For that I thank the President and wish I had actually saved him a cookie.

Coincidentally this week also marks the release of the DVD for Rachel Getting Married which almost got it's own cookie. I had very much wanted the obscure-media-slot in this year’s Christmas cookies to be filled by one of the scenes from that movie. While I’m not a real connoisseur of the torture porn genre, I’m hard pressed to imagine anything disemboweled from one of the Saw movies that could be as excruciating as the wedding toast that Anne Hathaway gives in Rachel Getting Married. Unfortunately I didn’t quite know how to nail the essence of a scene like that in almond sugar icing. So instead, the obscure-media-slot this year is filled by page nine hundred twelve, the last page of Roberto Bolano’s brilliant behemoth 2666, one of the many pages I never saw in 2008.

2666 got such unanimous praise that I actually considered wrestling with its over 900 pages. In the end though it just seemed like a damn lot of words. I’m more than man enough to admit that I was not man enough to conquer 2666 in 2009. And this might have been for the best after all, considering that an unpublished 6th section of 2666 was recently rumored to have been found. Bolano the author may have died in 2003 but he's quickly becoming the Tupac of Latin American lit. If I could put up blog entries half as many times as this dead guy puts out new books, this blog might be worth bookmarking. Anyway, even before 2666 became the new never ending story I felt it wouldn't hurt to give his masterpiece some cookie props

Sitting to the left of page 912 in the picture above is this year’s 3rd cookie, the memorial cookie. As I get older it seems like more and more important people die every year. I suppose that when I was 9 there simply weren’t so many people that I personally labeled as “important”. Just as many famous people must have been dropping like flies every day but I never noticed. In my late 30’s though, the names of those that have died are slowly becoming more recognizable. The obituaries are becoming home to people I’m bummed I will never get a chance to meet. One of those people is Gary Gygax. 2008 was the year that Mr. Gygax, as my good friend Dario so eloquently put it, “apparently couldn’t make his saving throw against abdominal aortic aneurysm.”

There were definitely people more famous than Gary Gygax who died in 2008 (Paul Neuman). There were also people who were funnier (George Carlin), more stylish (Yves Saint Laurent ), more conservative (William F. Buckley), more bigoted (Jesse Helms), more naughty (Betty Page), more literaryish (David Foster Wallace), and more Dolemitey (Rudy Ray Moore). But a case could be pretty well made for the fact that there was no one dorkier.

And that’s not to say we didn’t lose a lot of nerds in 2008. Robert Asprin, Majel Barrett, Arthur C. Clark, Bobby Fischer, Dave Stevens, Michael Turner, and Stan Winston are just a few of the new celebrity guests at that big convention in the sky. But still, I don’t know of anyone more identifiable as an icon of a certain type of Nerddom, than Gary Gygax the man most associated with the creation of the Dungeons and Dragons gaming system. So I felt quite justified in taking a yummy memorial moment to give remembrance to someone who added a decent amount of joy to my formative years.

And finally there was also a TV death that I felt deserved to be memorialized last year. It might seem insensitive to diminish the death of an actual person by placing it on a plate next to the death of a mere TV show. But I hope it is forgivable in this case.

Every so often a work of art is produced that transcends its medium. Like a person, it grows and matures and becomes something more than just an amusement that entertains us for some short break. It becomes a teacher of sorts. It helps us to see something in the world that we could never have experienced alone. In a way it becomes a friend that we are sad to see go.

2007 saw the end of The Sopranos and 2008 saw the end of a show just as powerful, just as complex, just as worthy. After 6 dense years of life, The Wire finally completed its arc on HBO. It didn’t seem right to have done a Sopranos cookie in 2007 and then this year ignore what very well could have been the single greatest show to ever make it onto TV. So that’s why I knew I had to come up with a Wire cookie this year. There was only one problem, and that problem was this, at no time in my entire life have I ever seen so much as a single episode of The Wire.

Naturally, I've always been aware of the fact I was supposed to be watching The Wire. I even made Christi get me the box set of season 1 for my birthday. But truth be told, like proper dental care, it was something I have stubbornly ignored to my own detriment. Sorry. Until now this hadn’t hurt me too much. At Christmas though, I saw that having never watched so much as a single episode of the Wire would definitely complicate the act of turning it into a cookie.

However, I soon figured that I could wing it if I just played it safe and stuck to the obvious things. Based solely on the one or two publicity stills that I must have seen accompanying the rave reviews I have been ignoring all these years, I decided to go with the two things that would absolutely have to be in the final episode of The Wire.

1) I figured that there had to be a gun somewhere in the episode, possibly fired, possibly only referenced in flashback. I don’t know how you do a show like the wire and not have some sort of gun somewhere in the final episode.

And 2) I knew that at some point during the episode Yaphet Kotto had to have cried. It didn’t have to be a full force Keitel Cry, maybe just one solitary tear marching solemnly down his cheek, but at some point Yaphet Kotto would have to acknowledge what he had witnessed, and it would break him.

Of course I have no idea if Yaphet Kotto actual is, or ever was, in The Wire but that’s pretty much irrelevant as far I’m concerned. A final episode of The Wire in which Yaphet Kotto doesn’t cry makes no sense to me whatsoever. And if for some reason it turns out that Yaphet Kotto doesn’t end up crying in the final episode of The Wire, or has never actually acted in The Wire, then I do not even want to know about it. Clearly a mistake has been made. I will just hope that by the time I finally get around to catching up on The Wire it will all have been fixed with some sort of CGI special edition.

So that was 2008. While I have no idea what cookies 2009 will bring, I have to imagine that by the time this year's done with us there might be a lot that needs icing.

(And for what it’s worth I fully understand that Yaphet Kotto doesn’t have blue eyes. I simply felt the welled up sorrow Mr. Kotto was releasing in such a powerful scene was best represented by sky blue icing. Poetic license. )

Thursday, February 12, 2009

20 Random Things You Didn’t Need to Know About 2008

2008 was a big year in Mike May blogs for obvious reasons.  Still for those among you who somehow didn’t get enough from this blog last year I thought I would put up a few of the less essential facts that I've kept track of during 2008.


1)  Number of times in 2008 that I was able to bust out the phrase "Pardon me ma’am, but by any chance have you ever worked as a lion tamer before?" to a woman at a poker table and have her reply “Why yes I have”:

1 (at the Venetian in Las Vegas)

2)  The 5th most popular search keyword used to find this website:

"Vagina cookies" (It was actually the number 1 most common search keyword that did not contain some form of “Mike May” in it.  I understand that the “vagina cookie” readership is probably a niche audience but I’ll take whatever I can get at this point.  Other interesting ways to search for this blog in 2008 included search phrase #28 sexy odors, #56 “Steve Martin” legionnaires disease, #60 “What happened to Paco”, #165 Republican blonde fembots, and #202  young ripe melons – Brooklyn)

3) Amount of money I lost last year holding a starting hand that included the 4 and 7 of hearts in any poker game:

$195 ($5 in limit Stud hi/lo, $15 in limit Omaha hi/lo, $80 in pot limit Omaha, and $95 in no limit Hold’em.)


4) The picture from 2008 that most should have made it onto this blog:

The Genoa Club.  All good things...


5) Number of African American presidential candidates that I did not vote for in 2008:

1 (Allen Keyes)


6) Total number of times that I've flossed in 2008:

52 (There is a long list of things I could do to make myself a better person.  At the top of that list would be caring about and/or striving to become the best person I could possibly be.  However I have conceded that that would probably take a buttload of effort.  Much farther down on that betterment list is something I proudly thought myself capable of, flossing at least once a week on average (not actually weekly per se).  So that was my one New Year’s resolution last year.  And all I have to say is, mission accomplished!  Aim high kids.



7) Number of Limo rides I've gotten because of this blog in 2008:

1 (which along with Jay Greenspan’s book Hunting Fish may be the only two things of actual quantifiable value that I ever have or ever will get from this blog.  Yay writing!)


8) The picture from 2008 that most should not have made it onto this blog:

3 women, some real, some not.


9) Hand drier I was most excited to see being used in American public restrooms in 2008:

The Dyson Air Blade.  How much does that thing rock?  Copious amounts of rock, that’s how much.

10) Hands down the single coolest thing I've ever seen in my entire life (in 2008):


This anime originally released a couple years ago, is not the coolest thing I have ever seen in my entire life.  But while I was in the act of watching it I was able to think “THERE HAS NEVER EXISTED ANYTHING THIS COOL IN THE UNIVERSE EVER BEFORE, IN THE UNIVERSE EVER!”  I miss being able to watch something and actually believe it to be the stone cold greatest thing that has ever existed.  That’s one of the joys of being young that tends to fade as the world grays.

Ostensibly, FLCL is a coming of age story about a kid with a pan dimensional portal in his head, and there’s this hot older chick who has a bass guitar with an internal combustion engine in it, and when she whacks him with it a robot grows out of his forehead, and after seeing it it will make even less sense. All you really need to know is that Fooley Cooley, as it is known, somehow manages to congeal the frenetically illogical superbadassery of being young and packages it into six 22 minute slices.

(Honorary Mention in hardcore Nerd media from 2008 goes to The Venture Brothers.  I watched a few episodes when the series first came out and wasn’t too impressed.  But then I finally got around to watching some of the 3rd season episodes that were clogging up my Tivo and I was pleasantly hooked.  Go team Venture!)


11) Total number of words I've written since putting up my post, around 180 days ago, jokingly promising to write only 13 words a day on a long form project:

Maybe 78 or so.


12) Number of ex-girlfriends that started both blogs and Facebook pages in 2008, which much to my surprise took some of the fun out of stalking them online:

2 (though one of them changed her privacy settings effectively locking me out of her Facebook page.)


13) Number of new blogs written by ex-girlfriends that Christi scours vigorously for grammatical or stylistic mistakes that she can point out to me in casual manner, as in "Hmm, now that's a novel way to use a comma."  :



14) Number of better-than-I-deserve girlfriends who didn’t dump me last year even though they’re not always fairly portrayed in this blog:



15) Toughest Sophie’s Choice scenario of 2008: 

Trying to decide which is the greater sign of lyrical genius, Ne-Yo’s song lyric I won’t attend your pity party/ I’d rather go have calamari. (from “So You Can Cry”) Or Lil Wayne’s Swagger tighter than a yeast infection / Fly go hard like geese erection (from “Dr. Carter”)  Am I more impressed with the ability to rhyme “party” with “calamari” or am I more awed by an artist unafraid to make poetry out of both yeast infections and geese erections in the very same song.  I suppose I have to declare them both winners.


16) Board game genre that I most excelled at in 2008:

Medieval farming simulations.  (I flat out destroyed in Agricola last year.  Suck it, all you subpar, sucker-peasant agrigariasts!)



17) 2008 movie that had the most misleading ad campaign of 2008:

Wendy and Lucy (the dog movie).  First of all, Jenifer Aniston looks way younger with short dark hair.  Second of all, I don't remember even seeing Owen Wilson in it at all.  Still, the commercials didn’t lie about one area, it was funny.


18) Single greatest album that came out in 2008 or any year for that matter:

Diamond Hoo Ha from Supergrass (To be honest with you I haven’t actually heard a single song from the album.  I just so liked the title that I wished that I had started a band instead of becoming a degenerate poker player in the off chance that I would have come up with the idea of naming an album DIAMOND HOO HA.)


19) Painter who produced the empirically best oil works of 2008:

Nick Dileo.  If you made a ton of dough in credit default swaps last year or have a wad of TARP money burning a hole in your pocket, drop him a line and pick up something nice for the office.  Some of his older work can be found HERE

20) And finally, this video, like most of my memories, looks somewhat washed out and faded but I think it very eloquently puts images to the subjective feelings I have of 2008.  So I close with a little video I like to call "2008: a Fond Farewell to the Way You Made Me Feel".


Sunday, August 03, 2008

Worst... John Connor... Ever

I just wanted to take a second to address all the people who have been pestering me about why I haven’t been posting here recently. Of course, by “all the people” I am simply referring to Joel, who seems to be the only person who still doesn’t understand just what a lazy sack I am, and actually gets confused when I don’t post something here for more than two months. Setting aside for a moment the more general lazy-sack issue, the current dearth of posts here can be attributed to 3 things in my life right now. These are listed here in order of importance:

1) I have been very busy leading the human resistance against the totalitarian forces of the Combine. Often times I will wake up and think that I should do some blogging, but then I remember the giant tripod strider thingees that are running willy nilly through the streets, gunning down my friends like it’s going out of style. When I’m not around to be taking care of business, nothing seems to get done. Those tripods don’t just blow themselves up. So given a choice between giving Joel something to read about, and leading the human resistance against the transhuman forces of the Combine, Joel tends to lose out. Sorry Joel.

In all actuality I had planned on being done with this whole totalitarian alien invasion thing a long time ago but due to my pretty lame human uprising skills, it’s taking me a lot longer than I thought. As it turns out, one of the most important things that I've learned from playing Half Life 2 on my computer is that I am an amazingly slow and inefficient savior of mankind. To the Tome-of-Things-that-I-Always-Just-Assumed-That-I-Would-be-really-Good-at-even-Though-in-all-Actuallity-I-Turned-out-to-be-Really-Pretty-Crappy, I will now pencil in “leading a human uprising against totalitarian forces from another dimension.” Live and learn.

2) Also monopolizing time that would otherwise be spent putting things up here, is family business in Florida. I’ve learned that if I answer “family stuff” to most questions of why I have not done X, I can usually get off without going into details. So in the number 2 slot here I’m just going to cry family stuff.

3) And the final reason that I haven’t put anything up here on the blog is that I have been way too busy writing things to put up here on the blog. I know this might not make an amazing amount of sense to you, but it does to me. I have been working on a writing project that I hope to post here, but when I do put it up I want to be able to post regularly.

What that means is that I’m not going to put any of it up until I have it all pretty much finished. I still have about 50,000 or so words left to write, so it may be a while before it ever sees the light of day. I read that Michael Chabon tries to write 1,500 words a day. So if this was Michael Chabon’s blog you could hope to see new material in (50,000 words / 1,500 a day) less than 2 months. Personally, I tend to bang out somewhat fewer than 1,500 words a day. On average, without fail I try to get at least 7 to 13 words done every single day (excluding holidays, weekends, the first week of the month, and every other Thursday).

Luckily, what my words lack in quantity they more than make up in quality. I like to think that each of my words is roughly 147 times as good as each of the words a quantity whore like Chabon would write. Unfortunately though what this means is that it may take me a little more than the 2 months that it would take a hack like Chabon to finish this project. At my current writing rate, the math works out to something like 128.2 months before I get all the words I want. In the meantime though, I will try to get a short update post here or there just to let people know I still exist.

So to sum up, the bad news is that regular postings won’t come back for a little while. On the flip side though, the good news is that if you actually like reading the stuff here and wish that you could somehow read exciting new posts every single week, then 2018 is going to ROCK!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Greatest…Guidance Counselor…Ever

The Jenna Jameson story is not a great success story. I mean, technically, it is a success story with the making of tons of money, and the rising to the apex of one’s field, and all the, well, “success” per se. But still it’s not a “great” success story. I mean, when a woman like Jenna Jameson or Tera Patrick comes from nowhere to create her own media empire you have to admire her determination, and business savvy, and all that stuff. But come on, “super hot chick does well in the porn biz,” I don’t know if that really screams achievement of epic grandeur.

Now Buck Angel on the other hand, that’s a story that impresses me. I came across Mr. Angel (no relation to Joanna Angel) in the pages of the Audacia Ray blog that I have been reading for a couple years now. I don’t know too much about who he is as a person, but based solely on his career path I can definitely tell you one thing. This is a man who has some pretty serious balls. And, of course, by that I mean he has no testicles.

Buck Angel, the burly bald man in the photo (who looks as though he could snap me like a twig if needed), is a female-to-male transsexual. As it happens, people without a Y chromosome who can kick my ass aren’t that uncommon. Somewhat less common though are people born genetically female who have found success in gay male porn.

I fully understand that some people might not be too hip on the very concept of porn. And there are even some people who might not be particularly pumped by transsexuals in general. But if you can momentarily put your own psycho-sexual-politico-moral leanings aside and look at what this man has achieved occupationally, you have to give him some props.

To say I’m a bald man and I’m going to make it in the porn world is one thing, but to say, oh by the way, I also don’t have a penis, well, that’s some moxie. And just how strong was the high school guidance counselor that got to work with this career choice?

"OK, you want to be a porn star, well, I don't know if that’s really the type of career I would recommend to a nice girl like you. But, I don’t know, I guess if you feel so strongly about it, I suppose we can work with that... Ohhhhh.. you say want to be a male porn star, hmmm, OK well...uh, that's going to be a little more difficult. Yep. I'm not sure about... Hmmm... Oh heck! If that's what you really want, and you can tell me that you want it hard enough, then what the hay! Sure, I would imagine there are going to be a lot of people who are going to tell you that you need a penis to be a male porn star, they’re going to try to bring you down. But I'm going to tell you that you have something far bigger than any penis I've ever seen. You have a dream! And no freak car accident can ever take that away from you."

As it happens, I’ve never actually seen Mr. Angel’s work. Nonetheless, I was always brought up to respect the dreamers among us so when I recognize him at the Adult Entertainment Expo I go to congratulate him on his success. For some reason though, I misremember his name. I address him as Mr. Adams, not Mr. Angel. If he is offended by this, or even notices it, he doesn’t let on.

I ask if he would mind if I grabbed a picture. With a hearty and infectious laugh, he lets me know “that’s what I’m here for.” We take the picture and I get a sense that this is a man who, at this very moment at least, is happy to be where he is, happy to be recognized for his work.

In what I would imagine was his ever so subtle way of correcting me for calling him Buck Adams, he simply says “let me give you one of my cards.” And with the business card also comes a broad smile, a smile that seems to say, honestly and unpretentiously, “it’s OK if you don’t get my name right, I appreciate the support anyway”.

Buck Angel, easily and without a doubt, one of the 7 nicest female-to-male transsexuals working in porn today.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Disgusting Philistines at this Year’s Adult Entertainment Expo

So here I am at this year’s Adult Entertainment Expo, and let me tell you, I am learning quite a bit about the state of the American cultural landscape. The part of the Expo that I am exploring consists mainly of various booths for porn production companies. They come every year to show off their wares and they bring their Lucite heeled stars with them. Fans wait in lines that snake all the way up and down the convention floor. 10, 20 minutes they wait in line to get a fast autograph, to simply stand next to a woman they have lusted after from so far away. Hopefully she will smile at them for a couple seconds.

Unfortunately, what I see at the expo doesn’t leave me with a lot of pride for my gender. The problem really comes about when I make it to the far corner of the convention hall, specifically the booth for the Adam and Eve Production Company. When I get to Adam and Eve, the actress on display is a young woman by the name of Joanna Angel. With her copious tattoos and multicolored hair she works in what has been dubbed as “alt porn.”

Now, by no means have I seen all of Ms. Angel’ works. Young Ripe Melons 8, Grand Theft Anal 10, Joanna Angel’s Guide 2 Humping, these are all films that I cannot pretend to know. Nonetheless, I do believe I have seen enough of what Ms. Angel does to be disgusted by what I find at her booth.

What I find at her booth, after having to wade through the trite mediocrity of the other booths, is an autograph line that consists of no more than four people. FOUR PEOPLE! This makes no sense whatsoever. As I’m sure you know, this woman of porn is clearly a national treasure and I cannot describe to you the disgust I feel when I only see 4 people in her autograph line.

Joanna’s Angels, the Charlies’ Angels themed porn that she did: Brilliant. Burning Angels, the Brooklyn based adult website she founded: Groundbreaking. This woman, raised orthodox within a Jewish household, has accomplished so much within this industry and yet the fans of AEE don’t seem to care. Everywhere I look I see these unbearably boring blonde bimbos, every one of them with staggeringly long lines and yet here, before an actual artist, there are no more than four people. Is this really what America has been reduced to, a country of tasteless philistines? For shame, porn fans of Vegas, for shame indeed.

I understand that possibly I should make some allowances for the subjective nature of such things. Maybe it’s even possible that I’m the one who is wrong here. Maybe it’s just a case of rooting for the home team since she’s Brooklyn based. Maybe I like to think that every night I’m not out successfully having copious amounts of random noncommittal sex can be offset by the work she is doing in New York. Somehow she’s working to balance the scales. Whatever the reason, she still seems so much cooler than the throngs of overly-siliconed fembots populating the other booths.

Initially I want to tell her what a disgusting shame it is that she has so few people in her line. I really am dismayed by the wretched taste everyone seems to have. I really want her to know that I feel for her, with the not being as popular as some of the lesser talents that I passed by. But eventually I wonder if this is really the kind of thing she wants to hear from a stranger.

Even if your intentions are in the right place maybe reminding someone about injustices they have no control over isn’t really the nicest thing to do. I mean if you’re a one armed Log Cabin Republican or something maybe you don’t really want some well meaning stranger coming by and rubbing it in with a “Hey sir, I just wanted to say how much it must suck to be a one armed, Log Cabin Republican, with the belonging to a political party that actively strives to prevent you from getting the same basic rights that other people have, and all that, and then when they do successfully pass a constitutional amendment preventing you from getting married you can’t even clap for it (being a one armed man and all), so I just figured you’d want me to tell you how much that all sucks. I feel for you bro!” So in the end I decide not to saddle her with my disappointment.

In all fairness I might just have caught her on a slow hour. And even so it isn’t like she is just sitting there by herself doing Sudoku. I just kind of feel like there is an unjust discrepancy in fan attention at the AEE. I decide that I’ll try to do my little part to make her feel properly fanned. Hers will be the only line I stand in to get a picture.

The kind of strange thing is that I feel this weirdly shy, celebrity intimidation thing as I’m standing in line. This is something I don’t entirely understand. A week earlier when Leonardo Dicaprio jumped into my poker game at the Bellagio I wasn’t uncomfortable at all (in fact I was so comfortable that I took middle set about $2000 farther than I should have against him).

So maybe my uneasiness is not so much a proximity-to-celebrity thing. Maybe it just has something to do with this weird social inversion where I am only just meeting someone long after I have already seen her hoo-ha.

I understand that when you’re in a stage fright situation it’s sometimes helpful to picture the intimidating people as sitting there without their clothes. In this particular case though, I imagine that is probably somewhat unhelpful, unconstructively redundant in fact.

Still I find the courage to overcome my shyness and when I make it through Ms. Angel’s short line she gives me a comforting smile. I tell her what a huge fan I am and, as I am wont to do in such situations, I give her a hearty handshake of gratitude. Much later I wonder if this was presumptuous of me to unilaterally take her hand. I just mean some people might find it kind of gross to be obligated to touch the unwashed masses. I bring this up to Christi, and she tries to explain that if you did have some sort of Howie Mandel OCD thing about being touched, then maybe the porn industry wouldn’t be your primary occupational focus. This makes a lot of sense to me.

Anyway, neither my celebrity shyness nor my hand grabbiness seems to bother Ms. Angel. I ask if she would mind if I took a picture and she says that for such a big fan it would be a pleasure. She hops off of her autograph signing chair and I snap the pic. It is at this point that I discover something that I really feel like I should have realized about her but never did.

Joanna Angel, as it turns out, is a tiny, tiny woman. I mean she’s like a mini-person. Like 2 feet tall or something.

Of course that’s neither here nor there. It doesn’t have any bearing on how super hot she is. For some reason though I’m always a little disoriented when a celebrity turns out to be significantly taller or shorter in real life than they are in my head. And in Ms. Angel’s case this forces me to rethink a lot of her work.

I’m not sure if they still use it or not, but there used to be an ad for the Rosewood Grille in Vegas that I would always see. If you really understand this ad, what it means and what it represents, you will probably understand pretty much everything you will ever need to know about Vegas.

The ad consists of a picture of a man in a tuxedo, presumably the well dressed maître d’ of the rosewood Grille. This well dressed man is holding up a lobster that is almost as large as he is. If you had to guess you would assume that the lobster must be 4 feet long and weigh 300 pounds. You walk away from this ad thinking, wow, if I wants me some big ass lobster, the Rosewood Grille must be the place to go!

Old friend Dave Avrick, self professed fat Jew criminal and esteemed professor of all things Vegas, was the first person who told me to look a little more closely at the man in the ad. When I did, I noticed something a little off about his fingers. Staring at those stubby fingers I eventually realized what Dave was referring to. That’s no maître d’ in the tux, that’s a midget! (Technically I don’t know if he is a dwarf or little person or even what the contemporary inoffensive phrase would be (bald footed hobbit?), but whatever it is he is it.)

The Rosewood Grille hired the tiniest person they could find that would look normal in a tuxedo so that the lobster would look monstrous by comparison. Of course there’s no explicit lying involved in this ad. It’s not like it’s a computer generated lobster or latex rubber maître d’. No, it’s not a lie necessarily; it’s just that special sort of Vegas magic that allows a man’s pituitary defect to be artfully exploited to create the illusion of a lobster feast for four.

Since the gentleman in the tux looked like the proud maître-d’ of the restaurant, and since steak houses are obviously, by their very nature, viciously size-ist, it was natural to assume that this was an average sized person and a grotesquely oversized lobster. However, once you realize that the gentle man in the tux is so small you have to reevaluate how frighteningly large the lobster is.

In a similar vein, while it was a little strange to realize that Joanna Angel was so petite, it did allow me to reevaluate some of the more frightening objects that seemed so very intimidatingly large in her movies. With this new understanding of who Joanna Angel is I may have to do an extensive restudying of her oeuvre.

It may turn out that, much like Vegas, everything you see in porn might not be exactly as it seems. Live and learn.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

50 bucks into The Future...

Everyone loves the future. Not that dinged and blemishy future that gets so used up that we call it the present, but the future future, the one with the potential. That’s why I was so excited about the Consumer Electronics Show. CES is supposed to be the greatest gadget show of them all. All the major companies come to show off whatever future-tech they’re working on. It’s the show that shows you the Bluetooth enabled, HDMI compatible toaster ovens of tomorrow, today.

I had always read about CES from afar, but now I just happened to be in Vegas, and it just happened to be CES time, so I thought I would stop by and actually see it in person. Of course technically, it’s not open to the general public. To get a badge you’re supposed to work in the tech industry and have something called “credentials” to prove such. Unfortunately, years within the poker industry have left me far less credentialed than they want me to be.

Luckily though, technology comes to my rescue. The third day into CES I go online to fire up CraigsList Las Vegas, and with no trouble at all I’m able to secure a slightly used badge that someone doesn’t need any more. (Digging a little deeper into the Craigslist world I find out that they actually offer much more than just badges on their site. I also easily find a pre-op transsexual who would be happy to rub pantyhose with me. As it so happens this is not on my list of things to do while in Vegas, but of course it’s always good to have options.)

I end up paying $50 for the used badge which means that all I have to do to justify the cost of the show is to see 50 bucks into the future. I don’t imagine this should be so difficult, but to be completely honest I’m initially a little disappointed. I don’t see so much that really makes an impression on me.

I see some battery powered scooter shoes, I see an MP3 player that break-dances to the music it plays, and I see a 150 inch hi def TV. But for me, the difference between a 150 inch TV and a 120 inch TV doesn't feel all that important. If it doesn't make eggs benedicts or shave my back it's pretty much just a big TV as far as I'm concerned.

However I do eventually discover one item that lets me see plenty far enough into the future. Walking about the floor without any real plan, I come upon a vendor of security cameras. The company sells cameras that stream onto the internet, can see in the dark, and that are WIFI enabled.

Their booth has some show cameras that are set up to look down on you from the roof. As I walk by I can see myself in one of the monitors, or more specifically I can see that spot on the upper back of my head that is incredibly difficult to see under normal conditions. You can’t see it in a mirror because by the time you’ve turned your head enough that it shows up, you’re not looking at the mirror anymore. However, if you happen to position a night vision, internet streaming, WIFI camera on the roof, and use it to look down on you as you walk by, then it’s actually pretty easy. You can look at that spot all you want.

I had always assumed my hair was thinning somewhat back there. This was something I only know because of the “doth protesting” that Christi did the one time I asked her about it. "You? Going bald back there? Oh sweet zombie Odin! WHooSH! Why would you...?! That is so funny…, how could you think...I mean holy mother... That is so crazy!! Really. Ha Ha. Oh my... that you would think... Oh my…"

Still I had never actually seen for myself that thinning spot on the upper back of my head. That is I had never seen it until now, standing there on the floor of the Consumer Electronics Show, peering into that security monitor and seeing far more than the $50 into the future that I had wanted to see. There it was for me to stare at for as long as I wanted: the minor deforestation on the back of my head that would only grow worse with time.

So that was the great awe inspiring discovery that I made at this year’s CES. I'm old. With the benefit of technology I leaned that my body is, year by year, ever so slowly rotting into oblivion. I just thought I should take a minute to thank everyone who made that discovery possible. Thank you CES! Godbless you... and all the wonders of tomorrow.