What I Did on My Summer Vacation

First off, I believe apologies are in order. I haven’t blogged in nearly two months and it’s been even longer since I’ve written a review. Friends have griped at me about this via email. They were snide. They were sarcastic. They were right.

I suppose I could defend my sloth by stating that my time has been filled with changing jobs, taking the first steps toward buying a home, and exploring new depths of depravity with Betty. For the most part, that would be pretty accurate. But like a serial killer’s history of child abuse, such data points explain a lot but excuse nothing.

To make matters worse, there is a new time sink that has me in its grip, World of Warcraft. I’ve always been a junkie for escapist fantasy, going back to my teenage years when I used to play D&D with kindred spirits (“kindred spirits” in this case means other pimple-faced youths with unwashed hair who weren’t getting any). As years passed, I have explored many escapist pursuits but Warcraft has turned out to be much cheaper and won’t show up in my urine.

Part of the game’s appeal is that you get to kill. Of course, this applies to most games. The one exception I can think of is “The Sims” but even then, I managed to turn my virtual home into a house of murder by removing the doors from a corridor and waiting for the guests trapped inside to starve to death. “Look,” I would say to my then wife. “She cries and wets herself just like a real abducted child.”

She was as little impressed with my comment as when I showed her the house’s trophy room filled with the urns of the departed, but I digress.

With Warcraft, the first step is to create a character. You get a number of menu options for the person’s appearance and if you’re creating one who is both male and human, chances are good you’ll end up with someone who resembles Ted Nugent.

This works well for getting you in the proper mindset for game play. The game starts you off in a place of great natural beauty, not unlike the Yosemite Valley. The difference is that in Warcraft, people are running around slaughtering the wildlife wholesale.

Young wolves (i.e. puppies) are the standard first targets for your fledgling sociopath. There are also Kobold Vermin who lumber around like special-needs children and only put up a feeble resistance as you cut them down and loot their bodies for one or two pieces of copper. If you don’t care about earning experience points and are a purist when it comes to defenseless prey, there are plenty of rabbits to kill. If your character is a paladin, you get to smash them with a hammer.

As the game progresses, the beasties get tougher and will attack unprovoked. I suppose that’s all for the best. For most of us, training a magnifying glass on an anthill is only fun for so long.


When Jean and the kids at the school tell me that I’m supposed to control my violent temper, and be passive and nonviolent like they are, I try. I really try. Though when I see this girl… of such a beautiful spirit… so degraded… and this boy… that I love… sprawled out by this big ape here… and this little girl, who is so special to us we call her “God’s little gift of sunshine”… and I think of the number of years that she’s going to have to carry in her memory… the savagery of this idiotic moment of yours… I just go BERSERK!

Billy Jack 3:16

I remember seeing a commerical on TV for Billy Jack when I was bout eight years old. Even at that early age, the ad seemed a little bizarre. In it, the voicever gushed “Billy Jack has something special. Something that has to be seen to be understood.” It was an odd choice of words to accompany scenes of a guy in a funny hat kicking rednecks in the face.

Needless to say, the movie was a big hit among the kids in my elementary school, even with the ones whose parents wouldn’t let go see it (including mine). Like most chilren, we weren’t terribly interested in the film’s message of tolerance but for half a year the instances of playground face kicking went straight through the roof.

Years later, I got to understand that “something special” when I saw Billy Jack on cable. I can’t say that it is a great movie (nor good, nor even mediocre for that matter) but it did have an unmistakable appeal. The movie is a guilty pleasure much like Road House but without any 80s stench about it. Billy Jack may not have any fancy philosophy degree like Patrick Swayze’s character but he has both Native American ancestry and a Vietnam tour of duty under his belt. These qualities apparently gave him both great wisdom and excellent face-kicking ability.

As you’ve probably figured out, the face-kicking theme is one that has resonated with me. Perhaps this is because the movie speaks to the Billy Jack within all of us and what it says is this: We all need to kick a lot of faces because hippies can’t do it for themselves.

No Bad Blood Between Us

Last week, Betty and I met at the Mission Neighborhood Health center so we could each be tested for HIV. She had been tested in March so I doubt she was all that worried. It had been a bit longer for me, 1987 if memory serves.

She had gotten there a little before me and was already getting tested by the time I got arrived. Forutnately, there wasn’t too much of a line so I only had to wait about 15 minutes before going in. The woman who greeted me and led me back to a room to test me was nice and friendly, earnest enough to make me feel comfortable that she took her job seriously but not so much as to make me want to strangle her.

She asked me a few questions about my sexual history (which I answered with a minimum of winking and giggling) and also let me know that if the test came up positive, the clinic is required to inform the CDC. She told me this just before asking me for my name in case I might want to get creative about my identity. I suppose it might have been fun have me on file as “Otto Braunschauer” or some other silliness but since I was feeling like such a solid citizen for even getting tested, I decided to stick with my own name.

A week later we showed up again to get our results, this time from a man who was deadly serious in his demeanor. I could see why. A big part of his job description is telling people things that no one wants to hear. Still, it might have been nice to get some inkling that I tested negative before leading me down the corridor into one of the examination rooms. On the other hand, he has probably had to deal with jackasses cutting and running as soon as they got the good news before he could ask the requisite last few questions.

I’m glad I don’t have his job. I’m even gladder I don’t have HIV. Neither does Betty so it’s happy times all around.

Mars Needs Women

I should be spending my time re-reading the next pulp slated for review, thinking up clever things to say. Instead, I spent way too much time installing and monitoring SETI@home on my new laptop. For those of you who aren’t complete geeks, SETI@home is this deal where people volunteer to have their computers number crunch radiation-level data from the cosmos to see if they can find extraterrestrial communications.

Granted, this is a long shot but the odds are better than driving down to Roswell, assuming the position, and waiting for the aliens to land so they can give you an anal probe.

OK, so installing and running the program has nerd appeal but why I spent any time monitoring it is beyond me. When I turn on the neato graphics display, the numbers whiz by way to fast for me to read any of it. And of course, there’s the small problem of my not having any clue what it all means even if I could.

No, I’m Not Dead

I was supposed to have another review written by now and for that, I apologize. My only excuse is that I’ve been setting up my new MacBook so I can update this site someplace other than work or at home. If any SF locals can suggest any bars or cafes in or around the Mission that have free Wi-Fi, please chime in.


It’s Their Party And I’ll Cry If I Want To

“Some are into leather
And some write poetry
They make love together
Just to fuel my fantasy “

Sloppy Seconds, “Why Don’t Lesbians Love Me?”


There’s a big kickoff party at Dolores Park tomorrow at three. I won’t be there. There’s a lot of identity politics in the air these days, due in no small part by the current administration and their followers who believe that Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgendered folks needed to be herded back into the closet and perhaps quietly exterminated. Except, of course, for lesbians who can be forcably converted and sold as chattel. In light of the current mood, the likes of me wandering about the park leering would elicit sneering disdain if not open hostility.

It hardly matters that I’m not the enemy. Sure I’m a pig and all but an open-minded one. Unfortunately, I share the oppressor’s demographic.

My friend Betty will be there and hunting for young lovelies, no doubt with all the subtlety of a rutting boar. At one point, she suggested I could tag along if I could pass myself off as gay. All I need to do this is to have shorter hair, a gym-toned body, and at least a minimum sense of style. She and I quickly came to the conclusion that I’d be doomed from the get go.

I do however have an alternate plan. I’ve been invited to a BBQ where I can compensate for my lack of gawking privileges by filling my gut with red meat and beer.

I may check out the actual march later on, standing politely curbside and trying to forget that I have been and will be missing out on the real fun. Still, this isn’t about me. It’s about women being proud of who they are and their love for one another. I think that’s beautiful, especially if I can get Betty to show me some pics.

Poison Spur on the March

Last Saturday, I went on a pilgrimage to Kayo Books with my pal Betty. I hadn’t been there in over a month and was looking to pick up some fodder for upcoming reviews on the site. Granted, there were a number of books I already bought and had read but haven’t reviewed yet but I figured I needed some fresh source material just to maintain my sanity. Rereading Asylum – or Hell? proved to be a painful exercise and I felt no desire to repeat that.

I agreed to meet Betty for breakfast in the Tenderknob at 11 and stroll over to Kayo after. I woke at about seven and puttered around until it was past 10 and I had to jump in the shower and hop on a bus pronto. When I got down to the bus stop at 24th and Mission, it was just past 10:30. I figured I’d make up there in plenty of time since the schedule posted in the bus shelter said a 49 would come by every nine minutes. Well, I should have taken into account that this was Muni and while the posted schedules make for lovely decoration, they have little bearing on when the buses will actually arrive.

This left me a good 15-20 minutes to amuse myself by watching the sort of street life that congregates around that intersection. There were the usual drunks and crackheads shuffling along like extras in a George Romero zombie flick and the obligatory street preacher shouting fire and brimstone into a bullhorn in rapid-fire Spanish to a captive audience of none. There was also a Scientology table and I have to tell you, the booth babes saddled with working my neighborhood were a haggard and homely bunch. They weren’t as lumpy as Revolutionary Worker spokesmodels tend to be but if they roped in any recruits that day, it wouldn’t be because of their looks.

It’s hard to imagine how Muni buses have such a hard time staying on schedule, until you ride on one. Some of the delays are unavoidable. For example, it’s impossible to know beforehand how many passengers are going to be riding, which stops they are going to be getting on and off, and how many of them have mobility problems. Then, of course, there are the off-their-medication riders who pay their fare with nickels and dimes while insisting on telling the driver about the Secret of the Universe before finding a seat next to me.

In light of all this, I should consider myself lucky that the bus arrives at all.

When the bus had worked its way through the Mission and was crossing over to Van Ness, I got a call from Betty. She told me that she too ran into some unexpected Muni delays. She apologized profusely and I let her, failing to mention that I was going to be late as well. I can be a cad like that sometimes.

Eventually, we both got to the Tenderknob, ate satisfying breakfasts at the Grubstake, and then walked down Polk to Post Street and turned left toward my Mecca, Kayo Books. Betty is quite the bookworm but had never been there, so I took it upon myself to go on about the place at great length about the sleaze, mysteries, novelizations of “Kojak” episodes, and other treasures to be found on the shelves. She stayed quiet and listened, which was most unlike her.

My primary interest was of course sleaze so when we got there, I made a bee line to that section in the back of the shop. I had promised myself I would only buy four books that day. There was no point lugging around a huge load of paperbacks and cutting spending valuable drinking money just to fill my shelves with books I might not get around to reading for a month or more, let alone finding time to review.

While I try to limit book purchases to a few at a time, Betty has sworn them off entirely. She fears if she added any more to her current collection, the sheer weight would give way and she’d fall into the apartment of her downstairs neighbor, a registered sex offender with lots of back hair.

She chose instead to amuse herself by reading passages from various books that caught her fancy. She also livened things with impromptu games of Show and Tell, calling my attention to coffee-table volumes of fetish art stocked by Kayo, including a collection Eric Stanton’s work (which I already own) and of Tom of Finland’s (which I do not).

I took this as a cue that she might be getting impatient so I figured it was time to make up my mind and buy some damn book rather than agonize over it all day. I think I did pretty well. For my reading pleasure, I can look forward to murderers, a dominatrix, teen lesbians, and a hillbilly rape cult.

Life is good.

Give Me That Old Time Religion

I don’t pretend to be a biblical scholar but I’m pretty certain the coming of the Antichristâ„¢ is not supposed to be heralded by a mediocre Hollywood remake. Maybe I’m just being pissy because of a deep personal connection I have with the original. And no, I don’t fancy myself some sort of 666 guy made flesh. I figure whomever Satan appoints as regional manager of the material plane probably will have achieved more in four decades of existence than I have.Back when I was about 13 or 14, my mom took my brother and I to see the original “Omen” when it played in the theaters. This was a big deal for me; my being allowed to see R-rated films was a pretty recent thing. The movie also had a character named “Jennings.” It was like being able to watch some crazy, long-lost uncle up on the big screen. What’s more, the actor playing him was David Warner, whose ability to look simultaneously constipated and malevolent lends him an unequaled screen presence.

The most memorable scene for me was the decapitation scene, where Warner is digging around a construction site for the Ye Olde Antichrist-killing dagger and a window pane slides out of the back of a truck and smacks him in the Christopher Reeve vertebra.

What made the scene a moment of cinematic perfection for me was that the head did not simply roll around on the floor. Oh no, this head did a slow-motion backspin in mid air with an agility and grace rivaling that of Nadia Comaneci.

Years later, I was reading an essay by Harlan Ellison where he got his panties in a serious bunch over the gratuitous violence in the scene and questioned the humanity of anyone who enjoyed it. If I didn’t love that movie already, having it make Ellison expose himself as the elitist little hall monitor I always suspected he was would have won my heart for sure.

So no, I won’t be going to see the remake. The real Antichrist, spawned in the age of disco, shall always have my loyalty.

The First Design Flaws Emerge

From a cursory glance at the access log, it looks like there are a fair number of visitors who get come to the index page and go no further. To be specific, they’re not going to the pulp-reviews page, which keeps the site from being yet another piece of blogshpere blight. In some ways, I suppose that is to be expected and can be summed up as the no-porn-screw-this user experience.
I would happily accept this conclusion and let the horny geeks eat up someone else’s bandwidth except that the site has only been up for a day and I believe that most of the hits are from people whom I personally emailed and told about the reviews. Granted, most of these folks are bar people and therefore have a hard time paying attention to anything that doesn’t damage the liver. Still, they are my friends and I’m sure if they were able to find the link, they could be counted on to at least click on it and read a sentence or two.For this reason, I think I need to put a mini sitemap up above the search box that will include:

  • A clearly visible link to the reviews page.
  • A link to webmaster bio page because my ego can always use a good fluffing.

I should have these additions plus a new review by this weekend. If anyone has any suggestions for ways to make Poison spur suck a little less, please comment and share them. Thanks.

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