Sunday, November 14, 2004

Okay. here it is. The moment you've all been dreading...

SingleTails Is On Hiatus

I'll be back in January, hopefully sharing my exploits at MAL. I'm taking time off from writing here in the hopes that I'll be able to get some writing done on my book.

See you all in January!

Here's some pics of my tattoo work to tide you all over. It's not done yet. This coming Friday, we'll hopefully be able to take it from where it ends now on my left pec down my arm to my wrist. But, you've all waited long enough [g].

Enjoy!












...oh. And here's one of Faithful Companion next to the new custom made Wesco harness boots.



You'll be hearing from me in 2005. Enjoy your holidays.


Thursday, November 11, 2004

Uh... No.

Not impressed with the new and much touted MSN Search. When you search on Singletails, my weblog isn't even on the first page. On Google, I'm the number one listing. (Love that.) And searching on my name brings up nothing related to me anywhere. In fact they run out of people with my name (there's a college baseball third baseman who is my nominal doppleganger) after just two entries.

No no no.

That won't do at all.


I Walk The Earth

I am loving my new custom-made Wesco harness boots.

When I went to the Leatherman to pick them up (with cubby! thanks for sharing that moment, cubby! Folks-- never go shopping for boots without cubby along. It's just a mistake to do that.), I was initially concerned. They felt too large on my feet.

I should have trusted Wesco and the several dozen measurements taken during the fitting. Y'see, they've just molded to my feet. They feel amazing. Like bedroom slippers. Only big black leather bedroom slippers.

I'm wearing them everywhere. Which is kinda tricky as I've come to a new appreciation of what 'boot-cut' means with respect to jeans. Those legs have to be pretty wide to fit over the shafts of my big black Wesco harness boots.

But here's another thing. They're heavy, and they kind of effect my gait. Whereas before I think I at times drifted into a scurry, this ain't happening with the Wescos. I sort of swing one foot forward, and then the other. There's a Zen mindfulness to my stride now. A sort of slower, lumbering gait. I compensate by taking longer strides on my long legs. When I have to hurry up, it's kind of a heaving run. Think of an animated Paul Bunyon. ("Babe! Where are ya, Babe! Oh there ya are! Whatchya doin' hidin' behind Pike's Peak like that? You're a good ox, Babe.")

Love that.


Monday, November 08, 2004

Got The Fever

What is with me lately?

I am obsessed. Totally obsessed.

Lately, I'm just thinking of one thing: I want to whip a man.

I want to whip a man really really bad. All I'm seeing are backs wherever I look.

But not just any man. An experienced whipping bottom. Or at least a bottom who is used to playing really deep. Who is open, and trusting, and longing for an axe to break the glacier that imprisons his heart. A man with a sinewy, muscular back. A man on whom I can just unleash it all.

Two possibilities. One is this blond boy. Former Coast Guard. Don't think he's been whipped, but he's big into scat. He's built. His arms are covered with tattoos.

The other one is this... this... guy. He's hot, he's smart, he knows what he wants. Been thinking about him, and our pretty great internet conversation a lot.

Trouble is, he's collared, and his Sir has him in lockdown. So right now, he probably isn't available to be whipped. (Hmmm. Maybe if my Sir talked to his Sir... Gosh, it's just like Junior High again: Maybe if my dad talks to his dad we can go on the camping trip!

We'll see how it goes.

Seeing as it's just about all I'm thinking of lately, something ought to turn up.


Perfect

How to have a Perfect 40th Birthday...

Step One: Find a Sir. Earn his collar. A Sir who loves you and never fails to make you melt where you stand with a look or a word. A Sir who take pleasure in welcoming you into the fourth decade of your life.

Step Two: Reconnect with old friends, meet new ones. Your Sir throwing you a birthday party, like mine did last Friday night, will make that happen.

Step Three: Be in a place of incredible natural beauty. Mine was the Russian River, north of San Francisco. The redwoods, the vineyards, the drive out to the beach to see the sunset over the Pacific.

Step Four: Make sure there's a hot tub. (There's got to be a hot tub.

Step Five: Make sure it's cool at night, so you get to fall asleep with your Sir's arms around you for warmth.

Step Six: If it involves flying, take Southwest. They were incredible! On the flight out, the plane was maybe a third full. So for the first time in a few decades, I had an entire row to myself, where I could stretch out and sleep as we flew over all those Red states. And on the way back, same deal. And, because of heavy traffic (California, California...) on the way to Oakland International, I got to check-in about fifteen minutes before my plane took off. The only other flight to Philadelphia that day was booked. The Southwest guy said, "the gate is right up those stairs. If you want to try to make it, you might. But I can't promise that your luggage will. I tried, and carrying my new custom Wescos in my arms as I dashed down the gangplank (or whatever that thing is called), I made it. And, in Philadelphia, so did my luggage! Unbelievable.

Step Seven: Surround yourself with great interior design. In the Russian River, we stayed at one of those touristy resorts. This one was run by lesbians. Like... uh oh! Right? Wrong. It was wonderful. From the horizontal wainscotting left raw in the bathroom to the perfect paint on the walls the color of parchment, to the minimal wall decor consisting of old Russian River postcards from the '20s in simple frames, it was gorgeous.

Step Eight: Eat good food. And the worst meal we had was not too bad.

Step Nine: Take some time to strip to the waist and show off your tattoo at the Starbuck's in the Castro. Be very pleased that your 40-year-old-ain't-seen-a-gym-in-a-month-and-a-half physique draws an admiring crowd.

Step Ten: Dream dreams of all the wonderful things that will happen to you in your 40s, if the first weekend of the decade is any indication.

And that way, you can't go wrong. Trust me on that.


Saturday, November 06, 2004

Tim-berrrrr!!!

Check me out. Spend the morning musing on the History of Ideas, and the afternoon chopping a cord of firewood, and tonight I'm off to the Bike Stop for fun and frolic. Am I a renaissance leatherman or what?

On the wood chopping. After a couple of hours of splitting wood, I started roaming the property looking for downed trees that I could haul back and cut up. While busy with this, I saw The Tree. About thirty feet away from the house, it was a big one. Easily sixty or seventy feet tall. And dead. Riddled by woodpeckers.

This was bad news. It was leaning towards the house. One good windstorm and it could come down and do a lot of damage.

I had to take care of it.

But how? It was just me today. And the tree was really really big. A mankiller. Easily twenty inches in diameter.

First, I dug out the chainsaw. Then, I found a hank of rope in the garage and fetched a ladder. I got up as far as I could and tied off the rope on The Tree. Then, I stretched the rope taught, and tied the rope off to a live tree standing about twenty feet away. Again, getting as high up as I could.

I started in chopping with the ax. Then, I started in with the chainsaw, making wide wedges in the sides of the tree at right angles to where it wanted to fall, towards the house. When I heard the first loud crack of the wood giving way, I backed off.

I went to where the rope was tied off to the live tree, climbed the ladder, and pulled on the rope till my feet were on the ground. I started rhythmicallly pulling on the rope, then releasing, pulling, then releasing, pulling, then releasing. I got The Tree rocking in a wide, slow arc, along a line that was perpendicular to the house.

It was dangerous. If that tree fell on me, I was a goner.

And it was hard work, too. It took all my might to get the tree bending in the direction I wanted it to bend.

And then, it bent, I heard a crack like a rifle shot of the heartwood giving way, and down it came, with a huge crash, and hitting with a thud that shook the ground.

I gave a war whoop and shouted, "Timberrrr!"

My father, watching all of this from the house (with the phone near at hand to call 911 if need be), called congratulations.

I did it. I brought down The Tree.

It's too big to cut up, so I'll have to just let it lie there, growing a skin of mushrooms and rotting.

And then I went back to cutting up all the lumber I hauled out of the woods.

Y'know, was the day when I would be home on a trip from the Big City, and spend an afternoon cutting up firewood. It felt so good to do real work, work that didn't invovle squinting into a a computer screen, tapping away at a keyboard, and pushing a pencil. Now, I am grateful to say, I do 'real work' all week long. I am a Man Who Works With Tools.

Damn.

Life is pretty sweet.


Incurably Romantic

Now that's an interesting line of inquiry.

Diabolique forwarded to me an op-ed piece from the NY Times, about how the election represents a rejection of the Enlightenment values on which this country was founded. I raised this in 'talking' to one of my WorldLeathermen correspondents, a German. He pointed out that our nation was, in fact, founded by people who were products of the Protestant Reformation (those Puritans!), and so although Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin were steeped in Enlightenment thought, the bulk of the country pretty much missed out on it. Although those Not-Quite-Founding Fathers did their best to impose the Enlightenment on our newly independent nation, it was pretty much just the American upper crust that took to it. The South Carolina planters and Pennsylvania pioneers had never read their Kant.

However, one Zeitgeist that did sweep the nation was Romanticism. In Europe, that was a corrective to the cold and dispassionate spirit of the Enlightenment (the German word is 'Aufklarung,' one of my favorite German words). Those enlightened thinkers saw the human body as a complicated machine, God as a great watchmaker who had wound up Creation and let it run, and--verrrry importantly--saw humanity as 'correctible.' Just line up society like so many gears and cogs and everything would be hummming along fine.

In Europe, Napoleon was the Great Man of the Romantic movement, inspiring composers (Beethoven's Eroica) and philosophers (Hegel just about shot a load when Napoleon's armies took his university town of Jena). He was clearly not some cog in a great machine, but a passionate and moody Man of Consequence, who rewrote history rather than being subject to it.

The Romantic spirit stressed the emotions, passion, mystery, obsession, and fervor. Romantic literature is filled with images of storms, darkness, blood, and insanity. (Think Edgar Allan Poe and George Gordon Lord Byron.) There was the 'light' side of the Romantic era (Keats in the Cotswolds), but there was also the dark side. To illustrate the darker aspects of Romanticism, the college English prof of a friend of mine once showed his class Kenneth Anger's film 'Scorpio Rising,' about the Hell's Angels.

In politics, Romanticism manifested itself in violent revolution. To the barricades! Let's usher in a couple of decades of bloody, lawless upheaval! Heedless of cost and consequence, impassioned masses took to the streets and regicide became quite the thing.

Now my point, and I do have one, as half-thought-through as it might be, is that in America, we experienced Romanticism largely untempered by Enlightenment. Passion, rather than reason, has always carried the day in our political life. In choosing our leaders, we go with out guts, rather than with our heads. And no great issues have ever been decided by 'reasoned discourse.' The very framers of the Constitution hoped sincerely that we'd all be one big nation of debaters, and had a horror of the degeneracy of political parties. (Interesting to note that was shattered when that great scion of the Enlightenment, Thomas Jefferson, let his feelings get the better of him and let the agrarian-based Democrats sweep him into the presidency.)

In that book that still probably graces the back pockets of jeans of college students, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig, the author argues that there are two types of people in the world, Classicists and Romantics. It disintegrates in the same way that all of those 'there's-two-kinds-of-people-in-the-world' arguments always do, namely that there's a hefty dose of the Romantic in every Classicist, and lots of Classicism in every Romantic. But Pirsig is correct in that at certain times and under certain conditions, one mindset or the other certainly seems to hold sway.

And so, when the majority of Americans go with their guts, and for reasons that they're unable to articulate elect a man to the highest office in the land who does not shy from bloodshed and sure chaos when his heart tells him that that's thhe way to go, rejecting a cool, patrician man given to overly nuanced argument, those Europeans just shake their heads in wonderment. After all, they've seen where that dark, Romantic spirit can lead them. Isaiah Berlin was certain that the seeds of Totalitarianism were planted by those types who got all broody on thunderstorms and waves pounding against the shore.

Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis. That's the model that the aforementioned Hegel set forth. In Europe, they've synthesized the Yin-Yang of Classicist Reason and Romantic strivings. We never have.

An' anuther thing. It strikes me in writing this just how steeped in the Romantic spirit is the world of leather and leathersex. Jiminy crickets! Every aspect of it! From the dim lighting in leatherbars right down to fetishes of Nazi imagery. So, in a way, we should feel right at home in this New Romantic Resurgence. It could well be that our bachanals on the shores of Lake Michigan and the hills of Pennsylvania could be on the verge of reaching their apex in years to come. Our President and senators might be comfy in the company of snake-handlers and speakers in tongues, but those same passionate urges are inspiring passions of another sort, too.


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Am I Blue

The writing is on the wall. Patrick Buchanon called it correct: with the abeyance of the Cold War, political energies in the United States of America are now turned all but entirely to the Culture War. It's the Cultural Elite--those latte swillin', homo marryin', mutual fundin', Schubert listenin', french speakin', New Yorker readin', Aspen skiiin', rock climbin', Thai cookin', city dwellin' types--right in the crosshairs. And for at least the next four years, those people from those rectangular states are pretty much going to have all the power.

How to cope?

What's a guy to do?

Well, this isn't the first time in our history that such a thing has transpired. Let's survey strategies from decades past--such as the '20s, the '50s, and the '70s--when amoral folks like ourselves have felt themselves to be alienated from national life have done.

1. Go to Europe! With the unification of Europe, many believe that the American Century ended with... well, the last one. Europe is poised to become the economic, military, and (possibly) the cultural axis of the world. The Dow Jones could be a mere footnote to the Bourse or the Footsie (whatever that is). Marry a dutchman or a swede and you can become a true global citizen: a double national, and be able to live anywhere from Ankara to Aberdeen.

2. Go to College! Not to do something 'career-oriented,' but heck, haven't you always wanted to master Medieval Latin? Now's your chance! Pick a nice four year program at some sweet little college town with a nice live music scene, and find shelter in the Sacred Grove of Academe.

3. Substance Abuse! Although crystal meth has gotten a lot of bad press lately, the prospect of 'ruining your life' suddenly is not looking like such a bad alternative, is it? A word of advice though: don't deal to support your habit. That will get you into prison pretty quickly, and the pokie is not a good setting to deal with the onset of HIV and Hep C. But Turning On and Tuning Out is nothing if not time tested.

4. Join a Cult! The farther out the better! Do your best to pick one that keeps you fuzzy-headed with sleep deprivation and a low protein diet, and (verrrry important) limits your access to newspapers and the like.

5. Political Engagement Closer to Home. If'n you live in a Blue State, jump in! You'll meet scores of disaffected fellow travelers as you work to stop that Wal-Mart opening or convince your fellow humans to forgo wearing the skins of species not their own. This may be especially important if you live in New York. Fresh from their success in ousting Tom Daschle by pouring $30 million dollars on the unsuspecting heads of half-a-million South Dakotans, you better believe that Hilary Clinton will be on a national hit list when she comes up for re-election in two years.

And yours truly?

Well, I have to admit to being ambivalent. I am, and I long have been, both reassured and troubled by George W. Bush's religious faith. I am convinced that he is sincere in his faith, and not just going through the motions. I am comforted by this because Compassion is a very real thing to the President. And I'm troubled by this as well. Troubled because I am a Conservative. That which I value most highly is Liberty. I don't want government in my bedroom, my bank account, my bookshelf, or my back forty. And additionally, there is a repeating theme of Calling America to Greatness in the conservative wing of the nation. Doing great, bold things abroad and at home, while liberals seems to love nothing more than tinkering around intractable problems and only making things much, much worse. But it is because of my conservative ideals that so much of what Bush has done sticks in my craw. A little more faith in people to make their own choices here at home and being the protector of the world's weak and hurting and less the world's schoolyard bully abroad would be welcome.

So we'll see.


Am I Blue

The writing is on the wall. Patrick Buchanon called it correct: with the abeyance of the Cold War, political energies in the United States of America are now turned all but entirely to the Culture War. It's the Cultural Elite--those latte swillin', homo marryin', mutual fundin', Schubert listenin', french speakin', New Yorker readin', Aspen skiiin', rock climbin', Thai cookin', city dwellin' types--right in the crosshairs. And for at least the next four years, those people from those rectangular states are pretty much going to have all the power.

How to cope?

What's a guy to do?

Well, this isn't the first time in our history that such a thing has transpired. Let's survey strategies from decades past--such as the '20s, the '50s, and the '70s--when amoral folks like ourselves have felt themselves to be alienated from national life have done.

1. Go to Europe! With the unification of Europe, many believe that the American Century ended with... well, the last one. Europe is poised to become the economic, military, and (possibly) the cultural axis of the world. The Dow Jones could be a mere footnote to the Bourse or the Footsie (whatever that is). Marry a dutchman or a swede and you can become a true global citizen: a double national, and be able to live anywhere from Ankara to Aberdeen.

2. Go to College! Not to do something 'career-oriented,' but heck, haven't you always wanted to master Medieval Latin? Now's your chance! Pick a nice four year program at some sweet little college town with a nice live music scene, and find shelter in the Sacred Grove of Academe.

3. Substance Abuse! Although crystal meth has gotten a lot of bad press lately, the prospect of 'ruining your life' suddenly is not looking like such a bad alternative, is it? A word of advice though: don't deal to support your habit. That will get you into prison pretty quickly, and the pokie is not a good setting to deal with the onset of HIV and Hep C. But Turning On and Tuning Out is nothing if not time tested.

4. Join a Cult! The farther out the better! Do your best to pick one that keeps you fuzzy-headed with sleep deprivation and a low protein diet, and (verrrry important) limits your access to newspapers and the like.

5. Political Engagement Closer to Home. If'n you live in a Blue State, jump in! You'll meet scores of disaffected fellow travelers as you work to stop that Wal-Mart opening or convince your fellow humans to forgo wearing the skins of species not their own. This may be especially important if you live in New York. Fresh from their success in ousting Tom Daschle by pouring $30 million dollars on the unsuspecting heads of half-a-million South Dakotans, you better believe that Hilary Clinton will be on a national hit list when she comes up for re-election in two years.

And yours truly?

Well, I have to admit to being ambivalent. I am, and I long have been, both reassured and troubled by George W. Bush's religious faith. I am convinced that he is sincere in his faith, and not just going through the motions. I am comforted by this because Compassion is a very real thing to the President. And I'm troubled by this as well. Troubled because I am a Conservative. That which I value most highly is Liberty. I don't want government in my bedroom, my bank account, my bookshelf, or my back forty. And additionally, there is a repeating theme of Calling America to Greatness in the conservative wing of the nation. Doing great, bold things abroad and at home, while liberals seems to love nothing more than tinkering around intractable problems and only making things much, much worse. But it is because of my conservative ideals that so much of what Bush has done sticks in my craw. A little more faith in people to make their own choices here at home and being the protector of the world's weak and hurting and less the world's schoolyard bully abroad would be welcome.

So we'll see.


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

If You're In Boston, Stay Out Of The Upper Floors Of Tall Buildings!

Those pigs are only just learning to fly, and they're not very good at it!

Go Red Sox!

And the moon is turning 'red as blood' tonight.

All these signs and wonders setting the stage for my 40th. Is this gonna be good, or what?


Monday, October 25, 2004

Thin Places

It's a concept from Celtic spirituality. There's this idea that there are places where the barriers between this world and other worlds--other planes, other dimensions, other spheres of existence--are 'thin.' Thus the dead can visit with the living. Or vice versa, depending on your perspective.

Hallowe'en, or All Hallows' Eve, is a kind of temporal 'thin place.' It is the night before the Feast of All Souls, when devout Catholics go to pray for the dead. And so at this time of year, the dead are with us.

Not the dead, but the past always seems so... so... present to me this time of year. Memories break over me like waves.

Like this one.

My sister had a friend named Kevin. Kevin was a big guy. This was in the era before anybody had a gym membership. And Kevin won big in the genetic lottery, not needing to go to one. He was huge and built.

And, as Kevin would put it, a homo. And a great role model for little ol' seventeen year old me, budding homo that I was back then. Once while walking down New Street in New Hope, Kevin and I, yucking it up over something or other, passed a group of teenagers. When we were about five paces beyond, Kevin and I heard 'fucking faggots' and 'cocksuckers' said sotto voce.

Kevin spun around, and bellowed, "Y'know what, boys? The only thing I like more than sucking cock is KICKING ASS!"

They scattered. They totally fled. Like in a cartoon, only they didn't leave outlines of themselves, arms akimbo, in a nearby brick wall.

Another memory. I was venturing out to gay bars for the first time in my life. Mostly the guys I met were kinda predatory. A little scary for naive and inexperienced me. (Well, selectively naive. I fisted a man when I was seventeen or so. (Yeah, I guess seventeen was a pretty good year, all things considered.) Anyway, one night at Woody's in Philadelphia, I was approached by this amazingly handsome man. An incredible body, jet black hair with ringlet curls, unbelievably sensuous lips. One of my masturbatory fantasies come to life, and coming on to me.

I took him home, to my kooky little apartment on 22nd Street. I'm not sure when it was I suspected that he was crazy, but conversation back at my apartment confirmed it. I offered tea (I had one of those tiered hanging basket things, the lowest and largest basket filled with an impressive array of Celestial Seasonings teas). He explained to me that he had tested positive for HIV. He new that bleach killed HIV, and that there was chlorine in bleach. And the chemical name for table salt is Sodium Chloride. Chlorine, chloride. Same thing, right? And so by ingesting huge quantities of salt, he had cured himself of HIV. He told me this because I had told him I was thinking of volunteering with ActionAIDS in Philadelphia, and he wanted me to take this news to them. It could help people.

As he told me this, I was standing in the kitchen, waiting for the water to boil. (I know, you should never do that, cuz a watched pot never boils.) The blood rushed to my head. If I hadn't been able to brace myself against the stove, I would have passed out. I was fainting. Pour quoi? Because I knew that in a short while, he would be fucking me. This proved to be a correct assumption.

And one more.

It was, I think, 1989. I was now a volunteer 'buddy' with ActionAIDS. I was a lousy buddy. I didn't have much in common with the three men I was paired with, and felt awkward and stupid always. One of my buddies wanted to go to the display of the Quilt down in Washington, DC. So I rode down with him on the bus. We separated to see the quilt, and agreed on a meeting place before we got back on the bus. I was there. He wasn't. I went to the bus, and he wasn't there either. I headed back to our meeting place. He didn't show. I missed the bus. So there I was, trapped in Washington DC. Not a problem, thought I, I could just go to an ATM and buy a bus ticket. I decided to head to the bars that night and try my luck, and head back the next morning.

That night, at the Eagle, I met a man named Douglas. He was a Marine. Active duty. I went home with him. In the middle of having sex, Douglas broke down, saying he couldn't go through with this. I asked him what was wrong. He began to cry.

He told me that three days prior, his lover, also an active duty Marine, had hung himself in their basement. He had been told that he was HIV positive in the wake of a routine blood test by the medics. What this meant, back then, was that he'd be discharged. The Marines knew they lived together. And would probably discharge both of them. So Douglas had lost his lover, and his career. The next day, he and I went to the Quilt together. He was weeping most of the time. I remember he'd offer a salute when the quilts indicated that the person commemorated had been in the military. One quilt bore the image of a crane, head lifted up, mouth open. Douglas explained to me the Chinese folklore about how cranes mourn their dead mates, and are thus symbols of love that transcends death.

I felt soooo out of my death, being there with Douglas. I wasn't able to help that man through that experience.

When I got home, I couldn't read his phone number that he had written for me. He was unlisted. I haven't been able to talk to him since. From time to time, I'll plug his name into Google. I hope he's out there somewhere, and that our paths will cross again.

Thin places.


Sunday, October 24, 2004

Do It Now

Okay. This cool website brought to my attention by the Baron von Philadelphia: Kerry Wins Visualization.

Click on that there link, and do exactly what it tells you to do.

I know I know I know, it's wayyyy new age-y, but mercifully low on the spelling error index as most of those sites tend to be.

And at this point, the Kerry campaign needs all the help they can get.


Saturday, October 23, 2004

Alas and Alack

No ink last night.

Darn it.

I showed up for my appointment, rearin' to go. Three weeks ago, we made it to my shoulder, and I was hoping to make it from there, down my arm, to my wrist. Just in time for my 40th. But when I got to Lion's Den Tattooing, Tony, another artist, told me that Joe hadn't made it in to work that day. They had tried to call me, but apparently had the wrong number. So he suggested I call after the weekend to make another appointment.

So my tattoo won't be done for my 40th birthday, but will be done 'around' my 40th birthday. I can live with that.


What's That On Your Face?

For the first time in about five years, I've been experiementing with the hair on my face. Nothing drastic. Just letting my beard grow in. Sadly, I'm running into the same problem I had when I was growing sideburns back in the '80s. (When, along with an ACT UP tshirt, Doc Marten's, and tight jeans with the cuffs rolled up, I was quite the thing. Along with every other twentysomething homo in the world.) Y'see, I could never ever shave my left sideburn and my right sideburn to the same level. One would always be higher than the other. Soooo annoying. A buddy of mine would tease me that I looked like a house with the blinds drawn badly.

So now with this beard thing, it's the same thing. Only in reverse. The beard ends where my ears start, as the pate remains shaved. And yesterday at work, I noticed that sure enough, they were about 5/8" off. (Ah, the foible of the cabinet maker: giving measurements to the 1/16th of an inch.)

Anyway, not sure it's gonna last. The overall look isn't quite the Outlaw Biker that I go for. It's more Untenured College Professor. And that won't do.


Holy Friendship

Life is sweet.

I always get introspective this time of the year. The approach of my birthday, the indoors weather (though not today; it's gorgeous out there), the change of the seasons. This morning I was thinking about friendship.

In the first half of your life, the friends you make are largely the result of happenstance. For example, you went to college together and some administrator decided to put you in the same room. Or you happened to work at the same job. And I've found those friendships to be immeasurably rewarding. It is always astonishing to me to watch the lives of people you know and love unfold over the years. Seeing how their seemingly Shakespearean tragic flaws catch them up over and over again, and how they struggle through whatever adversity Fortune throws their way, emerging from some Dark Night of the Soul reborn, but still the insecure, questioning guy who is crazy about the Velvet Underground or Socialism or Franciscan Spirituality or whatever that you knew way back when.

But as I grow older (Ahem), I am coming to view friendship in a different light.

The term 'friendship' doesn't seem to quite cut it here. Perhaps because it's been immersed in those relationships of happenstance from the early years and has taken on a sophomoric tinge because of that.

"Enduring Connection" seems to fit the bill more, awkward though it may be.

When I was a pup, and I'd meet a hot man who seemed to have it all together, I wanted to fuck him. Or have him fuck me. Then, over the past decade or so, when I'd meet that hot, together man, I wanted to date him. And in a few cases, I've been able to do that.

And not that I'm no longer looking to fuck hot, together men, or to date them, but I sense that what would really be sustaining for the long run is something different. After all, you can't date all of them. And in these days of the World Wide Internet, fucking is soooo dependent upon geography.

But that leaves Enduring Connections.

Those men out there, men I've met, men I know, in San Diego, New Hampshhire, Toronto, Fort Lauderdale... Those Lions. Men who have made their own rules for living life, and are uncompromising in taking that on.

I think I would do well in the second half of my life to establish Enduring Connections with these men. Men I will know for a long time. To keep up with them, spend time with them, learn from them, and see how their lives evolve. See what bargains with the devil they make, what Forresterian 'Only This' messages they have to relay to those who would listen.


Friday, October 22, 2004

Smells Like Rove

So today at work, Columbine Boy launced a conversation about politics.

He asked me if I knew why there was a shortage of flu vaccine.

Sure, I answered, because one of the major producers produced a contaminated lot and they were shut down.

Not satisfied, he asked me if I knew the "real" reason.

I guess I should have seen it coming.

I explained that US drug companies don't want to manufacture it, because there's no money in it. They are unable to charge much for a vaccine that is pretty formulaic at this point, and consumers won't pay much more than they paid last year. I went on to explain that most countries in the world feel it meet and right to subsidize vaccine production, so they don't have these problems.

No! Columbine Boy all but had to wipe saliva from his chin.

He explained that the "real" reason is that there was a lawsuit by a guy who got a flu vaccine, but caught the flu anyway. He won $5 million. So all the drug makers stopped making vaccine because they didn't want to be sued. I guess he was expecting shock and outrage on my part. When I failed to take the bait, he went on.

"And do you know who the lawyer was that represented the guy? John Edwards. John Kerry's running mate."

Now, after absolutely no research on the internet, I am prepared to say that this is totally bogus.

But it totally sounds like the work of Karl Rove.

I read, in the New Yorker I think, about a race for the Alabama Supreme Court. The incumbent was a Democrat, and was targeted by the state's Republican apparatus. Races for judgeships are usually pretty dull. Being flashy or caustic doesn't burnish your judicial credentials.

In stepped Karl Rove. He decided to make the candidates big asset a disadvantage. The judge was a huge advocate for children, and founded a statewide organization to pass laws for tougher prosecution of child molesters and the like. In the course of his work, he had been often photographed with children. You know, reading to second graders, that kind of thing. Rove focused on the Alabama state law school. The vast majority of the students were from all corners of Alabama. They were going to be wrapping up their course work and heading back to their farflung home towns. So Rove distributed a flyer that showed a picture of the judge with two young boys, and claimed that it was widely known that he was a child molester. By the time the election rolled around, it was common knowledge in Alabama that one of the justices on the highest court in the Red Dirt state was a pederast.

And he was defeated.

Where the heck did Columbine Boy get this fantastic tale?

It's gotta be.

Anyway.

I've gotta head out to get a tattoo.


Thursday, October 21, 2004

Big Black Boots

Oh. My. God.

My enemies have devised a diabolical plan for my undoing: this website.

All is lost.


Big Black Boots

Oh. My. God.

My enemies have devised a diabolical plan for my undoing: this website.

All is lost.


Big Black Boots

Oh. My. God.

My enemies have devised a diabolical plan for my undoing: this website.

All is lost.


Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Hey! Johnny Damon! You Lead Your Team To Victory Against The Seemingly Invincible Yankees, You Soft-Spoken, Bearded, Bubble Butted Man, You! Whaddya Gonna Do Now?

"I'm going to Carversville, Pennsylvania to help a certain singletail Top celebrate his fortieth birthday!"

Wondering what to get me?

Johnny Damon would do nicely.


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Imagine

So the 40th Birthday is approaching. I'm buying myself a present. A small present. I'm getting myself a bulletin board.

What's up with that?

Okay okay okay. How pedestrian. It's an idea I got off Queer Eye For The Straight Guy. It's a Goals Visualiation bulleting board. The bulletin board will hang over the cabinet in my bedroom where I empty my pockets every night and fill them up every morning. On the bulletin board will be images to inspire me. The kitchen I want to cook in. The dungeon I want to play in. The body I could have. The welding machine I want to own. A mock up of my first, published book.

Over the past couple of years, I've been putting a lot of thought into my future. Where I want to be, and, more importantly, who I want to be. Often, I get blue and wistful and dissatisfied, but snap back when I remember that I'm working toward goals, and making progress.

Maybe it's a natural part of growing older, this new orientation towards the future. Previously I liked to keep my options open. Maybe I'll move to Fort Leatherdale. Maybe I'll collar a slave. Maybe I'll go to grad school. Maybe maybe maybe. Sometimes, the Big Ideas come as frequently as once a week. And always, when I felt things in my current life constraining me, anger would grow.

But those myriad ideas seem to have settled into a few defining and inspiring ideas.

And so I'm borrowing a page from the book of Ted, Carson, Jay, Kyan, and Thom. And buying myself a bulletin board.

It'll happen.

All things work together for good for those who love the Lord.


Monday, October 18, 2004

Lordy Lordy Look Who's Forty

The signs are good. My custom Wescos are waiting for me to pick up at the Leatherman next weekend. I could feasibly be finished with my tattoo journey on Friday night. And now this.

As I was leaving work tonight, Nightingale invited me out for drinks to welcome me to my 40s. (He's a year ahead of me there.) "Gosh," he said, "I don't know what you drink." I said beer, and was going on to explain that I like Jack Daniels when I get liquor, but then I got a brainstorm.

I explained that my brother recently returned from Scotland. And he brought me back a bottle of Whyte and Mackay Smooth Scotch Whisky. I proposed an evening of Scotch and cigars. Nightingale liked that idea. He told me that there's a place in humble ol' Sellarsville, PA, that is one of the best places to buy cigars in the country.

So the two of us were working ourselves into a lather, when the new foreman guy from Maine came up and asked what was going on. We shared, and he got excited, too. He'd be up for a night of Scotch and cigars, too. And he's 42.

So that was great.

Whether it goes off or not, I like and admire both of these men a great deal. And the idea of being welcomed by these guys to share an evening of Scotch, cigars, and a celebration of leaving the 30s behind... Well, I'm getting a little teary eyed here.

Nice.

Very nice.


Sunday, October 17, 2004

Listen Up Wisconsin and Ohio!

Okay.

I'm really nervous. In the polls in Ohio and Wisconsin, Bush is surging and Kerry is sinking.

What's up with that?

Kerry needs one or the other, and probably both, in order to pull it out.

Desperate times require desperate measures.

Who's willing to join me in a pledge? If either Wisconsin or Ohio give their electoral votes to W., we do a Trojan Women number on them. No nookie, no nuthin'. If the Buckeyes and Cheeseheads want to go for Bush, that's just fine for them, but they'll get nothing from me.

"But wait!" you might object, "what if the guy voted for Kerry? That's not fair!"

No dice. You live in a Red State, you face the consequences. Just ask yourself what you didn't do. You'll have four long years to think it over.

Faith In Humanity: Restored!

So I head to the supermarket to buy lamb for lentil stew for me and my father. While there, I realize I need to get some cigarets. So I go up to the little manager's counter. And wait and wait and wait. Finally, out comes the hot cub of an assistant manager. In front of me, he plops down my wallet. He said he looked at the picture on my license and remembered me immediately as the guy that always buys cigarets.

Do I mind him seeing the pictures of me and Special Guy, the PhillyPhisters membership card, ,the New York Bondage Club card, and all the rest of it? No. Emphatically, No. I do not. Maybe he'll start stalking me. That would be nice.

Anyway, I have my wallet back to me. All the paranoia about the Finder vanishes like the mist.

Sweet.

Of course, I called my bank and credit card folks and tried to get my cancellations reversed, and that's impossible. So I'll have to pretend it's 1979 for the next week or so.

Ah well.


Empty Back Pocket

I lost my wallet.

There was no money in it, since I lost it on Friday, payday. And my Starbuck's card was in my front pocket. So I'm not out any money.

But what I did lose were my credit cards, my bank card, my GMSMA membership card, my PhillyPhisters membership card, my El Mirage membership card, my New York Bondage Club membership card, my supermarket $uper$avers cards, two photos of me and Special Guy taken at a photobooth a few years ago, assorted phone numbers of men I met in bars, my license, my insurance card, my registration card, and Lord knows what else.

I spent an hour on the phone with the bank and credit card people today taking care of that. I need to fill out a form and get it notarized (pain in the ass!) to get a replacement drivers license. I haven't begun to delve into all the other stuff.

Sooooo aggravating.

And I think I lost it at work. Which is sort of interesting. If it was found by one of my co-workers, they now have a lot more information about Dutch who works in the Hardware Department than they did previously. But, unless they want to admit to finding my wallet and not returning it, they won't be able to disclose that information. (And since I reported the loss to the Boss, it could mean he'd lose his job over it.)

Huh. "The Secret Sharer." Like Joseph Conrad's short story.

Beyond being aggravating, it's unnerving. I feel violated. And, if it was found, why hasn't it been returned? My faith in my fellow man is precariously poised.

Of course, maybe the finder dropped it in the mailbox, and it's making its way back to me, slowly, slowly.

Here's another interesting thing.

I believe there might have been one or two trick cards that Lolita made up for me a few years ago in my wallet. On the trick card is the url to this website. (What a mistake that was! I'd write about meeting somebody, and they'd read about me meeting them and what my impressions were, and about all my various and sundry ups and downs, and I'd wonder why he never called.) Sooooo... the finder of my wallet may be reading this (and so much more!) right now.

Huh.

How is it different to be spilling all my innermosts on the World Wide Internet than to have some unknown Doylestonian rifling through my wallet and perusing my weblog? I guess I ascribe a certain sympathy to my readers, hoping that they'll give me at least the benefit of the doubt, that I don't quite extend to someone who found my wallet but who hasn't made any effort to get it back to me.

Oh. And then there's the money issue.

No ATM card. My bank is open from 9 am to 3 pm, and I'm at work then. Except for a half hour off for lunch, which needs must be entirely devoted to feeding myself. How to resolve this conundrum? And, when I fly out to SF for my birthday weekend in two weeks, I'll have to use my passport to get on the plane. (Where is my passport? It's been years and two moves since I left the US.)

I once had my wallet stolen by a guy who gave me a blowjob in the backroom of a bar in NYC. Back when there were such things. Now that was annoying. But, when I worked at the needle exchange, I got to know and love several people who were not above distracting the dimwitted with a blowjob in order to steal a wallet, so I'm more charitably inclined in that case. And that thief dropped it in Tompkins Square Park, and the next day somebody found it, called me up and got it back to me, less the money that was in there.

But what of the person who found my wallet at my job, or in the parking lot of my bank in Doylestown?

What's up, Buttercup?

Given the sorry state of my finances, identity theft will avail you very little.

Give it back to me. I'll give you $20 for it. Deal?


Saturday, October 16, 2004

And By The Way...

If you're not watching the Red Sox-Yankees match up in Game Three of the ALCS, you're missing a great ballgame.

I could never live in Boston. Although there's few in the Bosox lineup I wouldn't jump in the sack with--and I love that they all grew beards to psyche out the Yankees, cuz George Steinbrenner permits no facial hair whatsoever--their fans all look like total thugs. And not in a good way. Looking at them makes me empathize deeply with Black school kids taking those grim busrides.

I'm rooting for the Sox. And the Astros. I like the symetry of a possible Massachusettes-Texas matchup in the World Series.


Top Tip

I just had a great idea!

On Lolita's Predictions & Predilections, she fielded a question about how to fly with SM gear. Although Lolita reports that she's never had anything go missing, she knows people who have. These days, airport security opens up just about every bag. Althought if you check stuff, there's no reason for them to confiscate it, theft is always a concern, especially when you're having some airline security schmo inspect your Joe Wheeler singletail whip.

So here's my idea. Get one of those cables they use to lock up bicycles. (Or used to. The cables deter only the most inept of bicycle theives. You can get through them with your garden variety wire cutter.) Most whips and floggers have looped handles braided into them, and I can't think of much in the way of my own gear that I couldn't secure in some fashion or another. So, although a determined theif could get through, I think having all of your whips and floggers secured to a cable would probably ward off the vast majority who might be tempted to explore their SM inclinations at your expense.

The good ideas keep on comin' here at SingleTails.


Tool Box

Didjy'ever hear Dolly Parton's song "Coat of Many Colors?"

Well...

Class has started up in the Apprenticeship program at work. And I'm really excited about that. They've figured out a way to make the class hands-on (insurance problems last time around), and we'll be learning drafting.

Very cool.

Anyway, for the hands-on portion, we had to acquire a bunch of tools. Simple stuff: chisels, plane, dovetail saw, steel square, scraper, tape measure... that kind of thing. I went digging around in my father's stuff to find his tools that I could use. So now, I'll be using his plane, his chisels, his square, his dovetail saw, and a few other items.

And while I was rooting, I came across a tool box. It's actually about a foot shorter than it should be. Stuff sticks out. But I needed something to put the tools in. I had it sitting in the kitchen, ready to take with me to work the next day, and he noticed it. "Ah! You dug up my old tool box! Great."

He told me that he got that when he was building our house.

That's all I needed to know.

At work, Columbine Boy, my partner in the hardware department, sort of snorted at my toolbox. "Huh. Couple of pieces of pine stapled together. Where'd you get that."

"Wellll," I replied, "it worked for my father when he built our house out of it from the basement to the attic, so I think it ought to serve me pretty well."

Columbine Boy didn't have a word more to say on the subject.

And I'm proudly lugging around those few pieces of pine stapled together that constitute my father's toolbox.


Thursday, October 14, 2004

Evil Republicans!

My father gave away our Kerry/Edwards yard sign to a buddy of his, so tonight I stopped by Bucks County Democrat HQ to pick up a replacement. They warned me that I should take it in at night, because Republicans are stealing our signs!

How despicable is that?

However, I am not going to be taking in our yard sign at night and planting it again every morning. I've got enough on my plate, thanks. Because our yard is full of roots and stones, planting the yard sign can take some effort.

But, I did take two Kerry/Edwards yard signs. If indeed ours is stolen, I'll replace it immediately, thus demoralizing those pernicious Republicans.


Monday, October 11, 2004

Highly Recommended!

Tonight, in addition to watching the Houston Astros hand the Atlanta Braves their sorry asses on a platter (as of the seventh inning anyway), I took in a DVD I picked out of the discount racks at the supermarket a few months back.

Dan smiled approvingly. (Dan, dreamy delectable Dan, my favorite check-out boy, with ice blue eyes, a blond beard, and a shaved head, and neath those baggy jeans a butt you could set a mug of beer on... Why do the gods place these creatures in my path???!!)

Ahem.

Anyway.

The DVD was Christopher Guest's most recent offering, A Mighty Wind. It is really a great movie. Oh man. I think it's my favorite of the three. There's a depth to the characters, particularly Eugene Levy and Kathleen O'Hara (brilliant!) that's unsurpassed by either Guffman or Best In Show, good as they are.

If'n you haven't seen it, get hold of a copy sometime soon. It's loopy, it's poignant, it's astonishing.


Like Heroin

Oh. My. God.

There goes all my productivity from now until election day. Check out the LA Times website. Scroll down to the little red and blue map of the U.S., the "Electoral Votes Tracker." Click on that.

What you can do here is move your cursor over a state to see the latest polling data. Then, you can click on a white state to change it either to red (the electoral votes go to Bush) or to blue (the electoral votes go to Kerry). When either candidate hits 270, the number needed to win, you hear 'Hail To The Chief' and the game's over.

So, like, if Kerry gets Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin, Maine, New Mexico, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania (and based on my un-scientific polling of local yard signs, he will), he's still gotta have Ohio to win. Even if Bush takes Florida, West Virginia, Virginia, Louisiana, and a few others.

You see what I mean.

Very quickly, I'm fighting back the urge to call Kerry HQ and order them to get Theresa to Spokane On The Double. Maybe I'll do searches on WorldLeathermen users in swing states and message them all saying I'll promise to have sex with them if they go to the polls and vote for Kerry in three weeks.

An Obsession is born, ladies and gentlement.

I hate this.

It's really started to matter to me that Kerry wins. I actually wasn't too upset when Bush won four years ago. I kinda liked the guy, and Al Gore was such a weiner. He deserved to lose after running such a lousy campaign. And all the way back to 1976, the first election I remember with clarity, my guy has either won, or I haven't been wholly disappointed with the results.

But over the past several weeks, my antipathy towards W. and my admiration and respect for Kerry have grown considerably. I want Kerry to win. And I'll be really disappointed if that doesn't happen. Mebbe not 'Move To Canada' disappointed (it's cold there and Canadians are way too quirky), but definitely 'Don't Blame Me I Voted For Kerry Bumper Sticker' and 'Scream At The Television Whenever W. Appears' for the next four years disappointed.

Anyway. Back to turning states from white to red to blue to red and watching the numbers.


Sunday, October 10, 2004

Bad News For SingleTails Fans

Tonight I was reminded by nothing in particular of my New Year's Resolution. Write my book.

Write my book. Right.

Have I done that? No. No I haven't. Not a page, not a paragraph, not a sentence, not a word.

The Baron von Philadelphia confronted me a few weeks ago with a possible reason as to why.

"You're a writer," said the Baron. "That means you need to write. But even more than that, you need to be read."

That certainly rings true.

"And right now, your needs are met. Met by that weblog thing of yours." (The Baron is not a reader. One of those who finds it really uncomfortable to see me spout out my innermost longings onto the World Wide Internet.) "You should end your weblog. Then, you'd have much better motivation to sit down, write your book, get it published, and get read."

Gosh, you're right!

That's was my response. Sitting there with the Baron at dinner, I decided then and there. After all, LthrEdge is going much the same route. And why not?

Well, because I couldn't do it. My postings here--good, bad, or indifferent--mean too much to me. I write, and I'm read. And I write about things I care about. And get email (we love email!!!) in response to things I write.

So I'm not going to give up on SingleTails.

But here's what I am going to do. SingleTails is going on hiatus.

Round about the first week of November, I'll post a note to that effect. But I'll be back. Roundabout January 1st, 2005. Then I'll be back in the saddle.

I'm hoping that by that time, I've got most of the damn thing written. Lord knows I won't be able to spend all of that time chopping firewood.

Not much going on during the intervening two months. Santa Saturday after Thanksgiving. Christmas shopping. Not much else. You won't be missing a lot.

And maybe, just maybe, just ma-a-a-a-aybe, I'll write my book.

And then you'll all be able to read that.


"What Would You Do...?"

Home again, home again, jiggety jig.

Back from an overnight in NYC. Had a great time with Big. After the Ordeal by Refrigerator, I was hours later than I planned getting up there. Met up with Big at the Starbucks at 16th and 8th, and relaxed from my trip while we talked and watched the Chelsea boys on parade. Then, we took a walk down to the Leatherman. I got a phone call from the manager who reported that he had spoken to the folks at Wescos. My custom made boots were scheduled to ship on Tuesday or Wednesday of last week. If they shipped on Tuesday, it was possible that they'd be in on Friday. So, there was the distinct possibility that my Wescos were waiting for me, three weeks before my birthday. Wouldn't that be great.

No.

Nope.

No Wescos.

Ah well.

I'm not at all thrilled with the idea of taking a trip to NYC just to pick up a pair of boots either next weekend or the weekend afterwards, so they'll just have to wait until 40 year old me gets up there to collect them.

Anyways...

Dinner! Dinner with Big, and his host (the Ex of Donee on my softball team), and the hosts boyfriend. I stuck my neck out, proposing that I drive the four of us across the bridge to the borough of Brooklyn, there to dine at a really good restaurant I knew of.

Taking a chance?

Oh yeah.

For one thing, I haven't eaten at this place for about three years. I had no idea if it was still there. For another thing, luring Manhattanites off their cherished island is always dicey. It must be the state of Don't Think About That they need to constantly convince themselves that life elsewhere would be impossible, so they have to put up with the exhorbitant rents, the dense throngs that make even the simplest of everyday tasks all but impossible, and the fact that NYC is distinctly less fun than it used to be. And so, they're more than prepared to disparage the world beyond.

But I forged ahead. We collected them, they piled into my jeep, and we found our way without too much of a problem across the Brooklyn Bridge.

And there was the restaurant (Le Petite Crevette on Atlantic Avenue), and--get this--there was a parking space right out front! It was still there, and it was still as good as I remembered. It's run by an couple who sank their retirement savings into opening up a restaurant. The love fish, and they love to cook. The fish there is soooo fresh, and the cooking is soooo good. If'n you get there, try the fish stews. They're just amazing. Done to perfection, and served in a big bowl of fishy goodness.

Everybody was thrilled with what they were served, and I sure loved my lobster stew.

We did a quick driving tour of Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill, featuring my former abode at Dean and Bond Streets, then headed back to Manhattan. Sir and I dropped off our dining companions, and then headed to the Upper Upper West Side.

Ah, bliss! Curling up in my Sir's arms and dropping off to sleep. Man, I need that. I need those strong, comforting arms holding me close. Just about more than anything. I slept in this morning, not because I was particularly tired, but just because it was so nice there in bed with my Sir that I didn't want it to end.

But, we struggled out of bed, showered, and repaired to a local diner for brunch. Alas, just about time for me to hit the road and head back to Pennsylvania. We headed back down to the West Village and had coffee at Factory Cafe. (I guess I'm not boycotting it any more.) We said goodbye, which was hard, saying we looked forward to seeing one another in three weeks, when I fly out to SF for my 40th birthday.

The Holland Tunnel was more of a disaster than usual. It took me an hour to go three blocks from West Street to get into the Tunnel, but after that it was smooth sailing. Hunterdon County is awash in fall colors, the sky was beautiful, and farmstands are full of mums and pumpkins. Even though it portends the onset of winter and temperatures in the twenties and thirties, even I have to admit it's a nice time of year.

So I got home, checked in with my father, got laundry together, and sat to unwind for a few minutes.

I picked up this book that I'm grudgingly reading. It's called "Who Moved My Cheese?" It's this business self-help book. You know the genre. Printed in 18 point type. Conveying a simple idea that a decent writer would have trouble extending into a magazine article. And sitting at the top of the bestseller lists for week after week, ignored by most of us.

I'm reading it because the company president's husband at work gave it to me to read. In other words, it's sort of Required Reading if I want to stay in his good graces. And I do. So far it's been nothing. Just babble and self-promotion, lame attempts to make you feel Good and On The Ball for reading it.

Uh huh.

But spending some time with it this afternoon, I came upon one of the books (few) ideas that I have to admit I really, really like.

Simply this: "What would you do if you weren't afraid?"

I love that.

What would you do if you weren't afraid?

Man.

For the kinky among us, that's sort of the big hurdle we all had to leap across at some point or another. Getting over our fear. And that question seems to me to be a good way of surmounting that.

What would you do if you weren't afraid?

Why, I'd get out of this vanilla relationship that's killing me, delve into SM, walk the streets in broad daylight all leathered up, shave my head, grow a big bushy stache, and get a big heavy chain tattooed from my right ankle to my left wrist.

For starters.

So I'm a good ways out of the Forest of Fear at this point. But I think there's still work to be done here. And, as I approach this apex-of-the-parabola birthday, that is a good question to ask myself: What would you do if you weren't afraid?

Indeed.

What would you do if you weren't afraid?


Saturday, October 09, 2004

Ordeal By Household Appliances

Had another session with Tattoo Artist Extraordinaire Joe Rose last night. Two weeks ago, we brought the chain over my shoulder, so last night it was extended down--over my clavicle--rounding my pec, and then back up to my upper deltoid.

It hurt, especially the clavicle part, but I took it pretty well. I was just in the mind to take some ink last night. Too, we're pretty much in the home stretch at this point. Only my left arm remains. And then, we're done. (Except for the touch up. But that will be a few months away.)

Joe started in on me right away, so I was out of there at 9:15. I grabbed a latte at Starbucks, and rushed back to my car to catch the debate. My own debate analysis: pretty much a tie. Bush did a lot better this time, and Kerry was just brilliant. But what really struck me was the fact that just about all of the questions posed by the audience seemed biased against Bush. Some even getting into 'When did you stop beating your wife?' territory. Now that's really interesting.

And it killed me how when Bush was posed one of those vaguely hostile questions ("How come your so-called 'Patriot Act' is taking away my civil rights?") he'd courteously respond, "Thank you for that one," while gritting his teeth. I've flogged bottoms like that. They're just hatin' on you at that point, but they're not going anywhere.

I drove home, rapt with attention, and my left pec feeling like someone set a hot iron on it.

Coming up Point Pleasant Pike from the river, I saw the most amazing shooting star I've ever seen. I've seen about four shooting stars in my life. And I always feel like I'm sort of shooting star deprived. Like for everybody else on the planet, seeing shooting stars is like seeing the moon. Whenever I'm underneath a starry sky, I'm always looking for one of the shooting stars I'm owed.

Last night did a lot to make up for that deficit.

Wow!

It was like a badmitten birdie, with a tail on it. Sort of bluish. And it looked like it landed just behind the trees over Myers' pond. Amazing.

When I got home, I sat in my jeep, listening to the debates, trying not to move too much because of the new ink, and went to sleep. I woke up at 11:45, went inside, walked the dog, said goodnight to my father, and went to bed to get a nice eight hours.

* * *

This morning, the plan was that I would get up, do the chores, run my father to the bank, then head to NYC to meet up with Big. Exactly what I needed. But on Wednesday, my father mentioned to me that the ice cream was soft when he got it out of the freezer. I turned up the freezer and the refrigerator to full blast. But it still didn't feel very cold.

Uh oh.

Leaving for work yesterday morning, I wrote a note suggesting to my father that he call a repair guy to come out and take a look at it. Maybe it just needed a shot of freon.

When I got home, I found that my father had, in fact, called a repair guy, and the new refrigerator would be here between 10 am and noon today. And sure enough, just as I was getting out of the shower, the guys were here with the new refrigerator.

So far, so good, right?

Well, it seems that the refrigerator stands an inch higher than out old one. So, it wouldn't fit under the built in cabinet above the refrigerator.

As if I don't spend Monday through Friday wrestling with cabinets, I have to do that on the weekend, too?

Yup. Looks like it.

I scoured the place for tools, and set about, aided by my deceased sister's ex-husband's cousin (the Algerian) to saw an inch off the bottom rail of the cabinet. This took forever. And my arm is still sore. The Algerian insisted on going at it with his skill saw (not the right tool for the job, which hacked the bejeezus out of it. Luckily, I was able to even it up pretty nicely with my chisels and a rasp. And the refrigerator fit.

Tragically, by this time it was 1:45 pm. That would be the time I was planning on coming through the Holland Tunnel to meet up with my Sir in NYC. Hell's bells. I called Sir, and he was fine with that, understanding that these things happen. So now I'm off to the Big Apple.

So far, quite the weekend.


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Haunting

Hallowe'en approaches, and in Bucks County, that means Just One Thing: time for a Haunted Hayride! Or a Haunted House. Or a Haunted Barn. Or... y'know... a Haunted Laundramat. Whatever.

Maybe it's a phenomenon that extends beyond my corner of Pennsylvania, but I am hard pressed to believe that many places in the world take things quite so far.

For the unenlightened, local volunteer fire companies, ambulance corps, the JayCees, just about anybody, will spend November through September preparing to transform some location into a costumed and made up chamber of horrors.

Haunted houses are a rip. Especially if you're wrecked on beer, which is the way I and my buddies from high school used to take in the experience. And, like the rest of the denizens of dear old Bucks, I also had the opportunity to be in on the production of a Haunted House. A few of them actually. The youth group at my Episcopal Church put one on annually. And when I was int he sixth grade, I organized a Haunted House for my class to do for the younger kids. It was great until it was shut down because we gave some of the younger kids nightmares and parents complained. (Yesss!)

Here's an example of my Haunted House brilliance. The Younge People's Fellowship if St. Paul's Episcopal Church set up shop in the sundays chool classrooms in the basement. I commandeered a room of my own, and had three assistants working with me. Job One was making scary looking trees and tombstones out of papiér-mache and such. Lighting was provided by a 40 watt lightbulb behind black gauze (y'know, the dim light of the moon). Then, we brought in the peat moss. Lots of peat moss. We covered the floor with peat moss. It was about six inches deep in most places. But it was mounded in front of the graves.

Maybe you see where this is going.

So our visitors would enter the room. As their eyes adjusted to the darkness, they'd notice the tombstones. We had goofy things written on them. Like, "Here lies Grace/ with the ugly face/ who couldn't get in/ either place." And seemingly, there was no one in the room. So after things got a little uncomfortable--nervous laughter was our signal--I and my cohorts would thrust a hand through the peat moss that buried us. All we'd do was sit up, and then groggily get to our feet, saying something like "blooooood... bloooooood.... Bloood! Must have Bloooood!"

*sigh*

Why I can still hear those blood-curdling screams.

OK. My point?

That was so Toppy! It had all the elements of a good scene! From the delight in the planning to the joy of the execution.

Come to think of it, the local Haunted House industry is sort of like training camp for budding Tops.

And you thought it was high school drama club.


Monday, October 04, 2004

Spirited Discussion

Wow.

Yesterday, Sunday, I attended a meeting of the Gay Men's SM and Spirituality Discussion Group in NYC.

For confidentiality reasons, I can't say what everybody else talked about, but rest assured, it was pretty powerful stuff.

I hit on a few points. And those I can talk about.

I talked about my tattoo journey (next session is this Friday night), and my boyhood. Two verrrry profound journeys.

And I talked about Delta. Here's the gist of it. Pre-Delta, I was listless and out of sorts. Whiney. No energy. Most disturbingly, I could not get enough sleep. At all. A couple of nights, I slept eleven hours. And I was sleeping right through my blaring alarm. Like nodding at a Stones concert.

The sleep thing was the real red flag. I resent the fact that I have to sleep. "Time enough to sleep when you're dead," my saintly hoar-headed grandmother used to say, and I took this to heart.

I was, plainly, depressed.

And then I went to Delta. I come back, and I'm full of energy. I'm getting so much done. This is no longer the house of a depressed person. I'm whistling while I work.

So what brought that about?

Pretty obvious, I think.

I need SM in my life. It's like a vitamin deficiency. I don't get enough of it, and I'm outta whack. (Huh. "No SM" = "outta whack." That pun was unintentional, I swear .)

It's not like being horny. Not like it at all. It's not a thing I notice, or even, particularly, long for.

But without SM, life just fades to gray. I forget who I am. SM is my Red Path in life. I get off it, and I'm lost. I still may be following a perfectly fine path, but it's not mine.

Okay. Now I've got to figure out a way of getting my minimum requirements met before next September.

Perhaps some lucky boy out there would like to make of his back a birthday present for me?


Saturday, October 02, 2004

Homebody

Last night, Friday, I headed down to Philadelphia for First Night with the Baron. The weather was beautiful, we were early enough to still get some of the free wine, the streets and galleries were packed, buskers on every corner. The Baron and I visited home furnishing stores (apparently Philadelphia is all about Modern... go figure!), and enjoyed a latte and cigar for me and a doppio con pane and chocolate graham cracker for the Baron at a conveniently located Starbucks. It rocked.

Well, except for one little thing.

I wanted to be home! There was wood to chop! There's a garage to clear out! I need to get mums in! The bathrooms need cleaning! I have laundry! I need to arrange my books in my bookcases in my great room!

And today, Saturday.

I was thinking of heading down to the Bike Stop tonight. Uh uh. I got a solid eight hours sleep. This morning I started in. I did a major cleaning of my bathroom. Then it was all about unpacking boxes.

Great news! I found my marmite! Wohoo! Good cookin' to come!

And all my books are unpacked. In piles. The philosophy pile, science and cultural criticism pile, the SM pile, the poetry pile, the British and Irish fiction pile, the American fiction pile, the drama pile. And then the pile of Books That Changed My Life. What might those titles be? Well...

Here's the list...

  • The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
  • Iron John by Robert Bly
  • The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James
  • The Illusion of Technique by William Barrett
  • The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama
  • Revolt of the Masses by Ortega y Gassett
  • Civilisation and Its Discontents by Sigmund Freud

I took a shower (in my nice new clean bathroom), and then headed out to the supermarket for shopping. I got home, and fixed pork chops, sauerkraut, and buttered noodles for my father.

And there's still stuff to do. I'm taking a brief break to blog, but then I'm gonna get back at it. If I feel like it, I'll head down to the Raven in New Hope for a beer and a cigar.

I am loving this. My home is so nice and clean. I'm gonna be chopping up cord after cord of wood to keep us warm this winter.

Okay. What's up with this?

Was there some weird Stepford Wives implant? Is my father spiking my morning Yorkshire Gold tea with Wellbutrin? Is it the swift approach of 40?

¿Que pasa?

A few short weeks ago, if I had to spend a Friday night here at home, I counted that as a Friday night wasted. Now, having to leave the house pisses me off a little bit.

My goal is to have everything taken care of before next weekend. Y'see, if the Mayor of San Francisco doesn't intervent, Sir will be in NYC, so we'll get some more time together. That'll be tricky as tomorrow I'll need to head to NYC for a meeting of GMSMA's Spirituality Special Interest Group. Looking forward to that. Only. Y'know. It means leaving the house.


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

I Can Make $123,000 A Year Selling Life Insurance!!!
(Wanna Buy Life Insurance From Me?)


Oh dear.

So the guy I work with, Columbine Boy, has gotten involved with this multi-level marketing scheme called Primerica. I hate these things.

Years ago, I was visiting a dear friend of mine in Milwaukee, a woman I knew from college and her husband were going to grad school there. I was in their apartment, catching up, going through all the 'remember whens,' and they started in.

"It's time for us to have our shakes!"

"Oh great! I'll have a chocolate one! I had a vanilla this morning, and I'm looking forward to the Very Berry for tonight!"

"I'll make them. They're so easy to prepare! And they taste delicious!"

"It's incredible to think that we get all of our nutritional needs met from these great tasting shakes!"

It was awful. And sure enough, before my time with them was over, they had to go to a meeting, and invited me to come along and sit in. Their mentor or manager or whatever he was cornered me and told me more about the benefits of whatever this thing was called.

"It's not a supplement! Don't call it a supplement! It's food you drink!"

Any questions I asked ("What about phytochemicals? Nutritional necessities that break down easily and so are only available from raw, unprocessed foods?") were deflected, or I was told to talk to someone else who would know, or come to a meeting on Tuesday when that would be discussed.

I've forgiven my friends, but I felt so abused by the whole thing. And after they were unable to either sell any of the crap from their "Representative Starter Kit" or sign up any of their nearest and dearest as representatives working under them... well, let's just say I haven't heard a word about it since.

So when Columbine Boy told me about this great opportunity he'd stumbled upon, and wanted to extend to me, I pretty much knew what to expect. But, for political reasons (like, I work with this guy every day, all day), I had to go to this damn meeting.

And it was way down in Conshohocken, an area I don't know at all, and my MapQuest directions had me going left when I should have gone right and right when I should have gone left. So it took me twice as long to get there and twice as long to get back than it should have.

And it was really bad. Lots of hype; no questions answered in front of the group; white people talking in the front of the room telling African American and Latino people listening to them that they can become financially independent, get out of debt, and leave behind their unrewarding low-paying jobs. Basically, they enlist you to sell life insurance, 401k plans, and mortgage refinancing. (And, the principle of multi-level marketing is that the product--whatever it might be--is inferior to what you'll easily find elsewhere, but because it's your sister-in-law or whoever who is hawking it, your chances of buying are greater.)

Now, would you trust me to refinance your mortgage?

Neither would I.

In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say it would be a really bad plan for me to refinance anyone's mortgage. Ask anyone on the Board of GMSMA during my term as Treasurer and you'll find out just how bad a plan that would be.

Luckily, my charm and wit got me out of there without too much of a hassle. I only had to talk to one person to explain that "gosh it's been a really interesting evening (Lie!), but it's not for me (Truth!)."

I'm hoping that Columbine Boy will A.) leave me alone about it from now on, and B.) not ask too many questions.

And I got home too late to watch the UK version of 'Queer Eye.'

Damn.


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Rain

Jeanne is upon us. I sat inside at Starbuck's tonight. I kinda went into Not Be Wet mode, and it was coming down so hard that the only option would be pressed against the wall. I opted for the comfy chair.

And driving home was unbelievable. The local roads were creeks. When I took Faithful Companion for his walk, he got soaked. And my boy-boy does not do soaked well. But, he loves the toweling off part afterwards.

I unpacked two boxes tonight. A weird thing. I've been looking and looking for my marmite. This amazing thing I got years ago at Williams-Sonoma. For the stovetop, for the oven, even at my preferred temperature for cooking anything of 500 degrees Fahrenheit. It occurred to me that it wouldn't fit in a box. And hunting around the garage--which is increasingly easy to do as I clear it out--turned up nada. I may have to invest in a new marmite.

Anyway.

It's still coming down out there. Pretty hard, too.

With the new arrangement of my bedroom, my bed is now underneath the the window. So I'll be going to sleep listening to the sound of the rain.

I wonder.

How long will it be before lying in bed listening to the falling rain doesn't make me think of that wonderful, perfect night in the cabin at Delta with Big?


Monday, September 27, 2004

Duluth Trading Company Rocks!

Duluth Trading Company is my new favorite online vendor. I am really thrilled with my Cab Commander Organizer. (From their... *ahem!* "Master Series.")

And check out the hot bald guy that appears on the front page of their catalog. He inspired my boss to come running out of his office clutching their catalog to make pronouncements about the uncanny resemblance.

Yeah. I was flattered.

And here's my next purchase... the Cable Tamer Bag! What, pray tell, do I need with a cable tamer bag? Do I have a bothersome fifty foot airhose that I'm finding awkward to take everywhere I go? No, silly! I need it for whips! The current inventory is two signal whips, two snake whips, two bullwhips (one ten footer with a two foot fall), and of course, my magical Joe Wheeler made hybrid signal-bullwhip. And it even has a handy compartment for holding the Pecard's leather dressing.

'Edge is right! The difference between a gay leatherman and a straight leatherman comes down to our uncanny ability to accessorize. The search for the gay gene need not have taken this long. All they need to do is look for the strand of DNA shaped like a messenger bag.

From bags to boots to bolos to belts, any damn fool can squeeze into a pair of chaps, but it takes a homo to find the perfect shoulder bag (like this one from REI) to hold his cigars, clip, lighter, money, lube, and trick cards since chaps are so pocket deprived.

Shop around at Duluth. Their products are 'designed and tested by Tradesmen.'


Sunday, September 26, 2004

I Am My Own Thom Felicia

Oh yeah.

Another pleasant day of domesticity.

Somewhere in this great land of ours, leathermen gather for fun and frolic. (Uh... "somewhere" would be Folsom Street in San Francisco).

But here at the Ol' Homestead, it's a different story. After yesterday's bout of housecleaning, today I turned my attention to my bedroom, the bathrooms, laundry, and chopping some firewood. The prize of the day is my bedroom. It is transformed. Even Dear Old Dad commented, along the lines of "You turned a shithole into a palace."

Yes I did.

The arrangement of the furniture I did when I moved here a year ago totally didn't work. So job one was moving around the furniture to find something that works. Then, I filled up two hefty bags with crap I don't need anymore (I love nothing more than throwing stuff away; it's like getting my teeth cleaned, getting a straight razor shave, and having a session with the Showershot all in one day). Then, I started arranging things on my bookcases. First off came a sort of shrine to all things leather. Three framed prints I bought at last year's Erotic Arts Festival in NYC, my officer's cap, rebel cap, leather cowboy hat, bootblack kit, various lengths of chain... It looks great in there. So great. It all, suddenly, works together so well.

Oh. And I swept up a years worth of dog hair, too.

Now, attic to basement, the house is looking great. (Okay, so the basement is still a disaster. That will have to wait until I can rent a dumpster.)

And I think I'm gonna go tackle a few boxes from the garage. Get that cleared out. Set up a welding atelier. As a time of renewal, Spring is over-rated. It seems Autumn is what's giving me a well deserved kick in the ass.


Top Tip

This from the Better Homes and Dungeons Department here at SingleTails...

Y'know those black plastic bags they give you for your purchases at your local purveyor of leather and SM goods? Don't throw them away! Save'em!

After working your boys but with your favorite dildo or butt plug, toss the toy into one of the bags. That way, you won't get santorum all over and you don't have to interrupt the scene to clean up then.

Cool, huh?


Saturday, September 25, 2004

Hey... I'm Gay...

*sigh*

Checking on GeekSlut's blog, I found a link and a mention regarding this. A confab of gay bloggers in the Nation's Capital.

It's that ol' high school feeling again.

Geekslut, Addaboy, Jimbo, DogPoet, jockohomo... When I was starting out, I read these guys all the time. I met Addaboy for lunch once. I've chatted with Jimbo on AOL about MAL. I think DogPoet had a link for me on his blog. They were heroes and role models.

But... I mean... whaddamI? Chopped liver?

I think I have a kinda good blog going here. I'm gay. I would miss my brother's funeral if there was a conflict with Queer Eye. My favorite cocktail is a cosmo. I swear! I'm gay as a goose!

But somehow I just didn't make it onto the A-List of gay bloggers. Or the B-list. Or the C-list. Or, y'know, the R-List.

Well, yeah but so what. Story of my life.

Mondo Gay has always left me on the outside looking in. I don't quite measure up, and they're always switching the yardsticks on me.

But then there's the leather community. Somehow I think that if various and sundry leather community bloggers were to have a national confab, I'd be on the list. Cuz I'm on the list. I am totally on the list.

Acceptance and love. The warm arms of welcome giving me a big ol' bear hug.

That's what I get from the leather community.

Thanks, leather community.

Anybody up for meeting me in DC on October 24th, spending some time smoking cigars at DC9--say from 5pm till 8pm--so the place is nice and stinky before those homo bloggers show up?


I Guess Meshak and Abednego Stayed Home

I can now trace my lineage back to 1778.

That's the year that my father's father's mother's ancestor, Shadrack Lord, came over from England and settled along the banks of the Schuykill River north of Berks County. (Present day Pottsville, Pennsylvania, home of Yuengling, the oldest brewery in continuous operation in North America.)

I love it that I descended from someone named Shadrack.

If I remember my lessons from Mennonite Summer Bible School correctly, Shadrack, Meshak, and Abednego were friends of noble Daniel. He of the Lion's Den. (I think I recall my teacher giving us a mnemonic to remember the trio: My shack, your shack, and to bed we go. Pretty risqué for a Mennonite, no?


What's Doin' With The Most Fierce And Fearsome Leatherman In The Delaware Valley?

Viciously whipping a linebacker from the local college football team into tearful submission?

Throwing some punk street urchin boy into the sling and filling his hot boyass up with a load of piss?

Introducing a trainer from my gym to the joys and rapture of having 200+ pounds of steel chain padlocked on his rockhard body and keeping him there till he smokes a big fat maduro down to the ring?

Well...

No.

Today was all about housecleaning. I vacuumed. I dusted. I was down on my hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor. My countertops are gleaming. The carpets are free of all dog hair. There are two enormous garbage bags less clutter that will go out on the curb on Tuesday night.

And, I followed Faithful Companion around with paper towels all day. Y'see, FC must have picked up a bug in doggie lock-up. He's been throwing up about a six times an hour. I kinda don't mind dealing with FC's vomit. Any chump can play with a puppy and take a dog around the block. But cleaning up shit, piss, and vomit... that takes love.

And after dinner (Cream Chip Beef on Toast!), I fixed brownies (of course they're from scratch) for Dear Old Dad.

Bike Stop tonight?

Nah. Way too late.

How about the Raven in New Hope.

Eh. I'll pass.

A good night's sleep.

Tomorrow, I'll be cleaning the bathrooms, burning the trash, and... chopping firewood! Yup, it's that time of year. Winter approaches, the leaves show their colors, and we'll need to keep warm.

Yeah. This Fierce and Fearsome Leatherman has the homefront covered and the homefires burning.


Meme!

What scar are you most proud of? A small, almost imperceptible scar on my palm. Years ago, I was visiting a farm in Kentucky with Faithful Companion. The farm dykes who lived there had electric fences up all over, to keep their own dogs away from their chickens, geese, and ducks. It was suggested that I let Faithful Companion 'discover' the electric fencing on his own. Well that didn't work. Or, perhaps, worked too well. Faithful Companion's collar got caught in the electric fence. He was panicking, trying to get away from weird sensation he didn't understand. I intervened, I reached down, trying to unsnag his collar from the electrified wire. I managed to do it, but Faithful Companion, in his terror, bit my hand. This is my favorite scar because it embodies what I believe to be a great truth: Faithful Companion's power to harm me is less than my love for him and my power to help him.

What's your favorite condiment? That's a toughie. If we're talking turkey, chicken, or tuna, it has got to be mayonnaise. But, if we're talking beef, pork, or processed foods derived therefrom, then it's got to be mustard. People who put mustard on mayonnaise foods and mayonnaise on mustard foods are degenerates.

Do you have freckles? Nope.

What's your preferred method of cooking? "Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. That's how all my favorite recipes begin. I love to roast.

What shoes are you wearing? My Kean's.

Who was the first person you ever French kissed? One of several girls I hung around with in high school. I was voted "the best."

What's your preferred breed of dog? Mutts rule!

Where were you were born? Doylestown, Pennsylvania

What color underwear are you wearing? The color of air. I don't do the underwear thing.

Where are your keys are right now? In the wooden tray on the table in my room..

What's your opinion of airline food?I like institutional food. If I could be on the meal plan for life, I'd check that box.

What cosmetic surgery you would consider? Not quite surgery, but along the same lines, I've long wrestled with the question of steroids.

Where's the most interesting place you've had sex? Beneath a waterfall in the moonlight. No, in a cemetary. Noooo, in the middle of a parking lot in downtown Milwaukee. Noooooo... in an army barracks with the threat of MPs coming in the door at any moment. Noooooo... in the surf of the beach of the Fire Island Pines... Get the picture? I get around.

What's been your worst ever injury or illness? I've led a charmed life in this regard. I remember praying for God to 'take me' when I had earaches as a boy. I think two years ago, when I had crypto or something (Thanks, Jersey City Water Authority!) would probably be the worst I've had to deal with.

Can you can sing well? I think I do, but no one else who has heard me does.

What would your Olympic event would be? I guess the assumption here is that I'd be able to train and get good, huh? I think baseball.

Name someone you admire.Woodrow Wilson

Which country would be hardest for you to locate on a map? Is it Uruguay or Paraguay that's across the Janiero river from Brazil?

Which part of the Sunday paper do you read first? When my Sunday paper was the New York Times, it was the City Section. A neighborhood by neighborhood breakdown of what's happening.

What languages do you speak? English, French, Italian, Russian. If by 'speak' you mean being able to conjugate verbs and have a rudimentary vocabulary. On a visit to Puerto Rico ten years ago I was able to pick up enough Spanish to get along fine.

In what religion you were raised? Uhhh... a nit to pick. Corn and pigs are 'raised,' but children are 'reared.' I was reared an Episcopalian.

Can you can draw well? I do alright. But my lines have no conviction.

What's your favorite photograph?Anyone of several from Margaret Bourke-White's industrial photographs, or depictions of construction workers building sky scrapers.


W 2

I know. Too terrible to contemplate. A second term for George W. Bush.

Or is it?

Think about it.

The situation in Iraq continues to crumble, albeit at an accelerated pace. Without a plan, without adequate ground support, we defeated Saddam Hussein, but we are clearly losing the peace. The elections in January will do not a lot to tamp down the insurgency, as Prime Minister Iyad "Sweetheart of the CIA" Allawi is increasingly perceived as a tool of the U.S. occupation forces.

[Note: And that's a damn shame! I supported the original intentions of the war in Iraq: to supplant a ruthless dictator with an elected government in a region of the world where democracy is rare as are igloos.]

The Moslem world increasingly views U.S. interests with hostility, young Moslem men from Indonesia to Morocco are more and more inclined to heed the call of Jihad and wage war against the Great Satan. Al Quaeda has evolved and changed, from a fairly simple operation lead by a very shrewd man to a many-headed international Hydra. Diplomatic relations with other countries are so soured that nobody will be joining any U.S.-led coalition anytime soon.

And here at home, the chickens of the enormous deficit caused by out of control Federal spending will surely come home to roost, with skyrocketing interest rates (thus quashing the boom in home ownership), private sector recession due to contractions in government spending, and it's only going to get worse as the baby boomers start to retire, taking their productivity out of the economy and spending their golden years demanding increased government funding for entitlements due to the expectations raised by our political leaders of every stripe.

And a government without money to spend is an impotent government. And that means a crumbling infrastructure. And even fewer resources to enforce (weakened) environmental and labor regulations.

Okay. So that's bad. Right?

It sure is.

Now, do the Democrats really want to preside over that?

Even a shrewd politician like LBJ was defeated by inheriting the Viet Nam War from his predecessor. And John Kerry may be a lot of things, but a adept political wheeler-dealer with an amazing ability to unite and motivate an ever more divided nation he isn't. The Republicans would eat him alive.

So even if Kerry doesn't pull it out in six weeks, would it really be a bad thing to have four more years of Bush's earnest and decent ineptitude?

After all, it's not like he's going to head off to some new foreign adventure. He can't! It seems to me that the worst he could do would be to unleash the dogs of Ashcroft here at home, playing on the growing fears and insecurities of many Americans, and heading down the path of jingoism and benighted moral certainty.

But I can't see that happening in any way that would really matter. It would quickly become laughable.

Here in Up-For-Grabs-Swing-State-Land, where you can't relax on the porch of Starbuck's with a latte and a cigar enjoying the final days of 2004 warm enough to wear shorts and tank tops without being accosted by that nutty nutty Theresa Heinz Kerry tottering over the cobblestones dripping diamonds big as banana slugs, I think this has even dawned on the Bush-Haters among the Kerry voters. Even though I have yet to meet anyone who actually loves loves loves W., I know a lot of people who plan on going to the polls and voting for him. But, I have also yet to meet anyone who thinks that John Kerry is Da Man, or that he'd actually be able to do anything as President to make the world a better place in even some small way.

Peace abroad, prosperity at home. Remember the Clinton years?

Dang. At the time, it seemed like this was what life was going to be like from here on in. Imagine: an oval office blowjob rising to the level of national crisis.

Now, I wonder if I will ever again see an era like that in my lifetime.