Archive for January, 2010


January 15, 2010

KM to ID, 10:04 AM Friday, January 15, 2010:

So I don’t usually have dreams that I remember, at least not good ones, but last night i had a dream that I was at a fancy book party for you and you were on the nyt best seller list. Every so often I have dreams that become real and I think this is one of them. Your book party is going to be baller.

Re: ID to KM, 10:56 AM Friday, January 15, 2010:

OMG!  That’s the best dream I’ve ever heard in my LIFE!  It may even top the one in which I was with some friends in a field of daisies and we dropped acid and then Gandhi gave a speech!  And it was fancy, too…amazing.

A Question

January 15, 2010

If you’re a porn star, are your bikini waxes tax write-offs?

Faces in the Water

January 13, 2010

Janet Frame is not a terribly well known writer outside literary circles, but she should be.  I’m always equal parts heartbroken and awed by her very personal approach to language.  Frame was mistakenly diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent eight years in and out of mental hospitals in New Zealand.  She was scheduled for a frontal lobotomy when a book of hers was nominated for a literature prize in New Zealand, and she was released.  The below is an excerpt from Faces in the Water, her “novel” about being institutionalized.

“There is no past present future.  Using tenses to divide time is like making chalk marks on water.  I do not know if my experiences at Cliffhaven happened years ago, are happening now, or lie in wait for me in what is called the future.

I know that the linen room was very often my sanctuary.  I looked through its little dusty window upon the lower park and the lawns and trees and the distant blue strip of sea like sticky paper pasted edge to edge with the sky.  I wept and wondered and dreamed the abiding dream of most mental patients –– The World, Outside, Freedom; and foretasted too vividly the occasions I most feared –– electric shock treatment, being shut in a single room at night, being sent to Ward Two, the disturbed ward.  I dreamed of the world because it seemed the accepted thing to do, because I could not bear to face the thought that not all prisoners dream of freedom; the prospect of the world terrified me: a morass of despair violence death with a thin layer of glass spread upon the surface where Love, a tiny crab with pincers and rainbow shell, walked delicately ever sideways but getting nowhere, while the sun –– like one of those woolly balls we made at occupational therapy by winding orange wool on a circle of cardboard –– rose higher in the sky its tassels dropping with flame threatening every moment to melt the precarious highway of glass.  And the people: giant patchworks of color with limbs missing and parts of their mind snipped off to fit them into the outline of the free pattern.”

And a hero of mine, Dorothy Parker’s review of the book in Esquire:

“It is always fascinating to read of the insane –– but there is a deeper exercise in a book which treats them not poetically or comfortably, but as they are and as they are treated.  Faces in the Water is a brilliantly written book.”


January 13, 2010


A True Statement?

January 9, 2010

I have a decent knowledge of psychology and I have seen a great number of reality shows about hoarding (including Hoarders and Hoarders: Buried Alive) and based on this, I am prepared to make a blanket statement:

All hoarders feel starved for physical affection, specifically sex.


A) If the hoarder is married, the couple should enter therapy immediately if not sooner. Most often the two should spend some time apart.  Usually hoarding means your marriage is dead and you ought to seriously consider divorcing.

B) If the hoarder is single, he or she should enter therapy

C) Most likely, the hoarder needs to lose weight, or at the least regularly engage in some light exercise.

D) The hoarder needs to have sex.  Details are secondary.

These are the FIRST FOUR THINGS that should happen within a week or so of beginning treatment for acute hoarding.  Then bring in the professional organizers and 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

He Looks So Cute!

January 9, 2010

And a little bewildered!

Go Green!

January 8, 2010



January 8, 2010

Hiroshima by John Hersey is nothing short of devastating.

“The night was hot, and it seemed even hotter because of the fires against teh sky, but the younger of the two girls Mr. Tanimoto and the priests had rescued complained to Father Kleinsorge that she was cold.  He covered her with his jacket.  She and her older sister had been in the salt water of the river for a couple of hours before being rescued.  The younger one had huge, raw flash burns on her body; the salt water must have been excruciatingly painful to her.  She began to shiver heavily, and again said it was cold.  Father Kleinsorge borrowed a blanket from someone nearby and wrapped her up, but she shook more and more, and said again, “I am so cold,” and then she suddenly stopped shivering and was dead.”

Intellectual Foreplay

January 8, 2010

Writing [sic]

gets me all hot and bothered

Top Five

January 5, 2010

The Whores of Mensa

A Short Story by Woody Allen

From his book “Without Feathers”, Random House, 1975 ( Citarsi Addosso, Bompiani, 1976)
Estimated Online Reading Time: About 10 Minutes


One thing about being a private investigator, you’ve got to learn to go with your hunches. That’s why when a quivering pat of butter named Word Babcock walked into my office and laid his cards on the table, I should have trusted the cold chill that shot up my spine.

“Kaiser?” he said. “Kaiser Lupowitz?”

“That’s what it says on my license,” I owned up.

“You’ve got to help me. I’m being blackmailed. Please!” He was shaking like the lead singer in a rumba band. I pushed a glass across the desk top and a bottle of rye I keep handy for nonmedicinal purposes.

“Suppose you relax and tell me all about it.”

“You … you won’t tell my wife?”

“Level with me, Word. I can’t make any promises.” He tried pouring a drink, but you could hear the clicking sound across the street, and most of the stuff wound up in his shoes.

“I’m a working guy,” he said. “Mechanical maintenance. I build and service joy buzzers. You know – those little fun gimmicks that give people a shock when they shake hands?”


“A lot of your executives like ’em. Particularly down on Wall Street.”

“Get to the point.”

“I’m on the road a lot. You know how it is – lonely. Oh, not what you’re thinking. See, Kaiser, I’m basically an intellectual. Sure, a guy can meet all the bimbos he wants. But the really brainy women – they’re not so easy to find on short notice.”

“Keep talking.”

“Well, I heard of this young girl. Eighteen years old. A Yassar student. For a price, she’ll come over and discuss any subject – Proust, Yeats, anthropology. Exchange of ideas. You see what I’m driving at?”

“Not exactly.”

“I mean my wife is great, don’t get me wrong. But she won’t discuss Pound with me. Or Eliot. I didn’t know that when I married her. See, I need a woman who’s mentally stimulating, Kaiser. And I’m willing to pay for it. I don’t want an involvement – I want a quick intellectual experience, then I want the girl to leave. Christ, Kaiser, I’m a happily married man.”

“How long has this been going on?”

“Six months. Whenever I have that craving, I call Flossie. She’s a madam, with a Master’s in Comparative Lit. She sends me over an intellectual, see?”

So he was one of those guys whose weakness was really bright women. I felt sorry for the poor sap. I figured there must be a lot of jokers in his position, who were starved for a little intellectual communication with the opposite sex and would pay through the nose for it.

“Now she’s threatening to tell my wife,” he said.

“Who is?”

“Flossie. They bugged the motel room. They got tapes of me discussing The Waste Land and Styles of Radical Will, and, well, really getting into some issues. They want ten grand or they go to Carla. Kaiser, you’ve got to help me! Carla would die if she knew she didn’t turn me on up here.” The old call-girl racket. I had heard rumors that the boys at headquarters were on to something involving a group of educated women, but so far they were stymied.

“Get Flossie on the phone for me.”


“I’ll take your case, Word. But I get fifty dollars a day, plus expenses. You’ll have to repair a lot of joy buzzers.” “It won’t be ten G’s worth, I’m sure of that,” he said with a grin, and picked up the phone and dialed a number. I took it from him and winked. I was beginning to like him.


Seconds later, a silky voice answered, and I told her what was on my mind. “I understand you can help me set up an hour of good chat,” I said.

“Sure, honey. What do you have in mind?”

“I’d like to discuss Melville.”

“Moby Dick or shorter novels?”

“What’s the difference?”

“The price. That’s all. Symbolism’s extra.”

“What’ll it run me?”

“Fifty, maybe a hundred for Moby Dick. You want a comparative discussion – Melville and Hawthorne? That could be arranged for a hundred.”

“The dough’s fine,” I told her and gave her the number of a room at the Plaza.

“You want a blonde or a brunette?”

“Surprise me,” I said, and hung up.

“I shaved and grabbed some black coffee while I checked over the Monarch College Outline series. Hardly an hour had passed before there was a knock on my door. I opened it, and standing there was a young redhead who was packed into her slacks like two big scoops of vanilla ice cream.

“Hi, I’m Sherry.” They really knew how to appeal to your fantasies. Long, straight hair, leather bag, silver earrings, no make-up.

“I’m surprised you weren’t stopped, walking into the hotel dressed like that,” I said. “The house dick can usually spot an intellectual.”

“A five-spot cools him.”

“Shall we begin?” I said, motioning her to the couch. She lit a cigarette and got right to it. “I think we could start by approaching Billy Budd as Melville’s justification of the ways of God to man, n’est-ce pas?

“Interestingly, though, not in a Miltonian sense.” I was bluffing. I wanted to see if she’d go for it.

“No. Paradise Lost lacked the substructure of pessimism.” She did.

Right, right. God, you’re right,” I murmured.

“I think Melville reaffirmed the virtues of innocence in a naive yet sophisticated sense – don’t you agree?” I let her go on. She was barely nineteen years old, but already she had developed the hardened facility of the pseudo-intellectual. She rattled off her ideas glibly, but it was all mechanical. Whenever I offered an insight, she faked a response: “Oh yes, Kaiser. Yes, baby, that’s deep. A platonic comprehension of Christianity – why didn’t I see it before?” We talked for about an hour and then she said she had to go. She stood up and I laid a C-note on her.

“Thanks, honey.”

“There’s plenty more where that came from.”

“What are you trying to say?” I had piqued her curiosity. She sat down again.

“Suppose I wanted to have a party?” I said.

“Like, what kind of a party?”

“Suppose I wanted Noam Chomsky explained to me by two girls?”

“Oh, wow.”

“If you’d rather forget it…”

“You’d have to speak with Flossie,” she said. “It’s cost you.” Now was the time to tighten the screws. I flashed my private- investigator’s badge and informed her it was a bust.


“I’m fuzz, sugar, and discussing Melville for money is an 802. You can do time.”

“You louse!”

“Better come clean, baby. Unless you want to tell your story down at Alfred Kazin’s office, and I don’t think he’d be too happy to hear it.”

She began to cry. “Don’t turn me in, Kaiser,” she said. “I needed the money to complete my Master’s. I’ve been turned down for a grant. Twice. Oh, Christ.”

It all poured out – the whole story. Central Park West upbringing, Socialist summer camps, Brandeis. She was every dame you saw waiting in line at the Elgin or the Thalia, or penciling the words ‘Yes, very true’ into the margin of some book on Kant. Only somewhere along the line she had made a wrong turn.

“I needed cash. A girl friend said she knew a married guy whose wife wasn’t very profound. He was into Blake. She couldn’t hack it. I said sure, for a price I’d talk Blake with him. I was nervous at first. I faked a lot of it. He didn’t care. My friend said there were others. Oh, I’ve been busted before. I got caught reading Commentary in a parked car, and I was once stopped and frisked at Tanglewood. Once more and I’m a three time loser.”

“Then take me to Flossie.”

She bit her lip and said, “The Hunter College Book Store is a front.”


“Like those bookie joints that have barbershops outside for show. You’ll see.”

I made a quick call to headquarters and then said to her, “Okay, sugar. You’re off the hook. But don’t leave town.”

“She tilted her face up toward mine gratefully. “I can get you photographs of Dwight Macdonald reading,” she said.

“Some other time.” FLOSSIE’S

I walked into the Hunter College Book Store. The salesman, a young man with sensitive eyes, came up to me. “Can I help you?” he said.

“I’m looking for a special edition of Advertisements for Myself. I understand the author had several thousand gold-leaf copies printed up for friends.”

“I’ll have to check,” he said. “We have a WATS line to Mailer’s house.”

I fixed him with a look. “Sherry sent me,” I said.

“Oh, in that case, go on back.” he said. He pressed a button. A wall of books opened, and I walked like a lamb into that bustling pleasure palace known as Flossie’s. Red flocked wallpaper and a Victorian decor set the tone. Pale, nervous girls with black-rimmed glasses and blunt-cut hair lolled around on sofas, riffling Penguin Classics provocatively. A blonde with a big smile winked at me, nodded toward a room upstairs, and said, “Wallace Stevens, eh?” But it wasn’t just intellectual experiences. They were peddling emotional ones, too. For fifty bucks, I learned, you could “relate without getting close.” For a hundred, a girl would lend you her Bartok records, have dinner, and then let you watch while she had an anxiety attack. For one-fifty, you could listen to FM radio with twins. For three bills, you got the works: A thin Jewish brunette would pretend to pick you up at the Museum of Modern Art, let you read her master’s, get you involved in a screaming quarrel at Elaine’s over Freud’s conception of women, and then fake a suicide of your choosing – the perfect evening, for some guys. Nice racket. Great town, New York.

“Like what you see?” a voice said behind me. I turned and suddenly found myself standing face to face with the business end of a .38. I’m a guy with a strong stomach, but this time it did a back flip. It was Flossie, all right. The voice was the same, but Flossie was a man. His face was hidden by a mask.

“You’ll never believe this,” he said, “but I don’t even have a college degree. I was thrown out for low grades.”

“Is that why you wear that mask?”

“I devised a complicated scheme to take over The New York Review of Books, but it meant I had to pass for Lionel Trilling. I went to Mexico for an operation. There’s a doctor in Juarez who gives people Trilling’s features – for a price. Something went wrong. I came out looking like Auden, with Mary McCarthy’s voice. That’s when I started working the other side of the law.”

“Quickly, before he could tighten his finger on the trigger, I went into action. Heaving forward, I snapped my elbow across his jaw and grabbed the gun as he fell back. He hit the ground like a ton of bricks. He was still whimpering when the police showed up.

“Nice work, Kaiser,” Sergeant Holmes said. “When we’re through with this guy, the F.B.I. wants to have a talk with him. A little matter involving some gamblers and an annotated copy of Dante’s Inferno. Take him away, boys.” Later that night, I looked up an old account of mine named Gloria. She was blond. She had graduated cum laude. The difference was she majored in physical education. It felt good.

This version of Woody Allen’s WHORE OF MENSA was typed for educational purposes only by SYSOP Bob Hirschfeld and brought to you originally by the BBS of Greater Phoenix Mensa.