...THIS IS HEAVEN available for pre-order on Amazon, here...

Nov 27, 2014

“I can almost write like Mr. Johann Sebastian Bach” --- seven things we knew about Ernest Hemingway

The New Yorker sends a link to an article by Lillian Ross about Ernest Hemingway (H.), published in 1950.



We’re curious, we don’t know much about H., having read him when everybody else read him, The Old Man and the Sea in our case, in a German translation. We’ve been to Key West, FL, where everything is H., and got fed up with Sloppy Joe, his watering hole there, so decided to get drunk somewhere else (we’re possibly not the first to mention tourism and locust in the same sentence).

So, what we knew about him was

(0) writer of short sentences, user of simple language, herald of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain’s novel), in-quote: “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.”
(1) macho,
(2) Nobel Prize,
(3) lookalike contests,
(4) big game hunting,
(5) drink,
(6) serial husband, perhaps something of a womanizer.



Who messed up Thanksgiving (Sacha)



Nov 24, 2014

Palais de Justice

We're in litigation with our wayward bank and today we'll finally have our day in court, in Grasse, Alpes-Maritimes, way station on Napoleon's Route Napoleon during the "100 days" that ended in Waterloo. Grasse is the world capital of fragrances and the locale of Patrick Süskind's The Perfume, the story of a hypersensitive nose attached to Ben Whishaw who needs the bodily fluids of 12 virgins to complete his mission as the greatest perfume-maker of all time. Grasse is also the seat of The Tribunal de Grande Instance, our court.




Grasse is set on the flanks of the Alpes and built around hair needle turns devoid of any spacial logic, so you're sure to lose your way, especially when you're told by your lawyer that the directions are "bien indiquées," meaning that you're directed off the main road long before you reach the town, arrows pointing this way and that way until they stop pointing and you're on your own in the middle of a Mediterranean jungle of gas stations, low-grow brush ("marais"), utilities, perfume makers, quarries, and the urgent need to pass water since (you got up too early and drank coffee too much).[1]

Nov 9, 2014

Lord Byron, Bill Clinton, etc --- Venice (4)

It's been a year since we've been in Venice, and now we've hit upon this beautiful picture by Hannes Steinert, depicting, you know of course ...


Spot the anachronism

... depicting the Lido of Venice. All this while we are excerpting a biography about Lord Byron providing deeper insight into his sex life, including his life in Venice (spoiler alert: self-serving ellipsis ahead)---Byron will feature in the second part of our episodic novella "The Grand Tour"---John and Alex from the Green Eyes finally marry and are off to Europe where they end up at the feet of the Fountain of Geneva whose story they learn from Richard Zugabe, librarian of the Geneva City Archives and owner of an apartment in the Villa Diodati nearby. Right, that's the first chapter of "The Grand Tour" which segues into a tryst at Zugabe's place and evokes the narrative material about Byron who had rented the villa in 1816 & who looked EXACTLY like Bill Clinton & who had apparently left a cache of manuscripts behind the wood paneling of his bedroom---for Richard Zugabe to discover.

The young Bill Clinton---sorry, just kidding, "George Gordon, 6th Lord of Byron," William Edward West, (1822)

Pedro Palanca's anniversary

It would be Pedro's 46th anniversary today. He was one of the greatest---the sheer vitality of his pictures, coupled with an unique sense of humor. And the sex, of course. Pedro, we won't forget you!


Nov 5, 2014

Locker room politics (Tryg Verran) (reblogged)

A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procul Harum was the world n°1 song in 1967 (scroll down for the UTube clip (but not yet)).  Along those lines, this piece by Tryg Verran, here reblogged, is a Paler Shade of Dark, but it's not what you think, despite the misleading, circulation-seeking pictures (which are entirely our fault). Give it a try:



"Peeking man," Pedro Palanca

One of the perks of doing post graduate research here at Birkbeck university is that I have been able to join the University union gym in Bloomsbury. Not only is it a great central exercise space with an Olympic size pool, but it's packed with fresh-faced, lovely students; just to make this absolutely clear,

"Locker room," Paul Cadmus

I HAVE NOT BECOME A LECHEROUS OLD QUEEN AND THIS IS NOT A CASE FOR OPERATION YEWTREE!


True, time spent in the locker room getting changed with the UCL swimming team hasn't escaped my Gaydar, but there is something about listening to their banter that polarizes me. I'm not exactly sure why all of this seems so alien, is it because I'm older? Perhaps it's because I am no longer a full time resident of London? Maybe I am being a little insecure? Whatever the reason, as I eavesdrop their conversations I gleam little comfort from their glistening presence and I am conscious of a division.

Nov 2, 2014

Monday matinée (Glenn)



Buy it, use it, break it, fix it,
Trash it, change it, mail – upgrade it,
Charge it, point it, zoom it, press it,
Snap it, work it, quick – erase it,
Write it, cut it, paste it, save it,
Load it, check it, quick – rewrite it,
Plug it, play it, burn it, rip it,
Drag and drop it, zip – unzip it,
Lock it, fill it, call it, find it,
View it, code it, jam – unlock it,
Surf it, scroll it, pause it, click it,
Cross it, crack it, switch – update it,
Name it, rate it, tune it, print it,
Scan it, send it, fax – rename it,
Touch it, bring it, pay it, watch it.
Technologic.

German for beginners


(Hat tip: Sina DunkleWelle)
The translation yes...well, "Kondome" means Condoms, "Barcode" is barcode, "Tattoo" is actually not German, ("Tätowierung"), "Kasse" is checkout, "witzig" is funny, "ich hasse" means I hate...that should do it...

Nov 1, 2014

Don't kill me, don't kill me


Artwork on an internet-posted suicide note

Gallia divisa est in partes tres. Along those lines, there are two types of content moderation. Active moderation monitors each post on a social network; reactive moderation lets things float until somebody complains. Content moderation is important, we learn from an article on Wired, not only because we are prudish, but also because we don't wanna lose our grannies or other objectionists (spelling checker objects)---folks who are not going to share their cat-and-dog pictures or their grandchildren's likenesses amidst adult parts and other shockingness. 

More than hundred thousand people are monitoring content worldwide, twice as many as are working for Google. Most of them are based in the Philippines because wages are lower there, and because the locals have a sense for American sensibilities (don't ask).

We (I mean us, Michael Ampersant and his alter egos) have been subject to content moderation two or three times on Facebook, last time with this picture...



(no, wait)


...which was taken down after a few minutes with a stern warning from the Philippines; we got blocked from posting anything for three days. Right, so we've been moderated twice exactly; the first time we've got blocked for one day only. Do the math (catchword "series"), it's frightening if you are one of these people always itching to push the envelope. 

Over-sexed as we are we think about only one thing, but porn appears to be the least of the social network's concerns---it's fairly harmless, especially for the souls of content moderators. Gore is worse, not to mention ISIS clips with beheadings of nosy journalists, or suicide notes, or clips of pet torture. And there's apparently lots of that stuff going on. The average content moderator is given only a few seconds on her Stachanovist clock for each picture. That may be a lot for the active moderators who have to check all those pictures of cats and dogs and birthday cakes, but very little when we talk reactive moderation.

&-t back of the envelope: Assume that half of the moderators do reactive stuff, and that each works 40 hours a week, and each has 10 seconds per flagged post, dum dum dum, we get 144 million flagged pictures per day, except for the weekends when the moderators are off.

What else? Lets keep it short and Socratic. O reader, we ask, would you moderate this picture that we've been dying to post for quite some time:    


(This is the picture that Facebook took down after a few minutes)