Saturday, March 3, 2012

Moralists For Erotica; PayPal Vs. Smashwords

I don’t like Erotica. I spent zero dollars on it last year (last decade, too). The trends in cover art annoy me, the proclivity for boilerplate bothers me, and never in my life have I grasped the appeal of reading words about fucking. Fucking is quite possibly the most redundant and boring subject in all prose. I get more from reading tax law.

I told you all that to tell you that I support the sale of Erotica. Recently Paypal’s operators threatened to stop processing payments with Smashwords unless it stopped selling certain books. According to Smashwords-boss Mark Coker, the big ones were, “erotic fiction that contains bestiality, rape and incest.”

It’s not all Erotica. Bestiality, rape and incest, plus some pedophilia that Coker proudly declared his company already refuses to distribute. Pretty gross to the average person, and you can imagine that most Erotica writers trumpeting “rape” probably aren’t making artistic hay with it. The current trend of titillating Pseudo-Incest novels with “Daddy” in the title? Yeah. But it doesn’t matter.

Fellow readers and writers, don’t argue that it’s Erotica Vs. Moralists. It is a moral issue that people be allowed to write fiction about sex as they desire, and when not infringing upon the rights of others, that they be allowed to share, publish and charge for it. I am morally for freedom in fiction.

It is PayPal’s right not to facilitate sale of these products; it would be dangerous to legislate otherwise. Yet it’s bigger than this. We are treading on principles. Works classified as “Literary Fiction” have already been flagged for Terms of Service violation. One week in and we’re not in the realm of hypotheticals anymore, Toto. Readers and writers remember Amazon de-listing LGBT books in2009, and we are still living in a period when libraries ban classic books. This is more disturbing to me than Vladimir Nabokov getting banned; I fear for an aspiring no-name Vladimir Nabokov Jr. out there, whose career has yet to begin, trying to build a platform, who got told to click UNPUBLISH today.

But even if no Vladimir Nabokov Jr. got that message today, it doesn’t matter. This is not about a stranger deciding what is and isn’t titillating writing, and thus banning the next Gore Vidal or Norman Mailer. This isn’t about such pressures expanding to some day to suppress LGBT fiction, though it is easier to imagine than I’d like. And this is not about a corporation coming after me some day. If biases go unchecked then there’s a good chance someone will hate my transgender character, or that a snake has a crush on her, or that I depict succubae doing what they do and still place them on the “good guys” side. My novel is a safe distance from PayPal striking against rape-porn, but even if I was the next target on their list, it wouldn’t make a difference. This is unacceptable no matter where you are. That is morality.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: It’s Going to be a Long Night

Lo takes the steps down two at a time. He’s nearly skipping at he reaches the platform; it’s only one stop away, and then he’s a smash and grab away from being rich. The Firebreathers don’t even know about the stones yet. Nobody does.

He’s so excited that he almost runs face-first into a yeti. One of many yetis, the hair of their backs dyed silver and blue. Gang colors. He whips his head to the left, pretending to be interested in ads for musicals and vodka as he skirts away from them. They can’t know. Nobody could be dumb enough to clue in the yetis.

The fattest of the yetis stares at Lo. He swallows, and arches his posture, and intensifies that sudden and acute interest in garish posters promoting musicals. He sticks his hands in his pockets, fingering smoke bombs and shaking his head. A musical set in a slum. Man oh man, what will they think of next?

Except the fattest yeti isn’t staring at him. He’s relieved for exactly two thirds of a second. On the third third of that second, he notices scaly bodies of lizards in trench coats descending the stairs. Smoke billows from their mouths and only two have cigars. God-damned Firebreathers.

As he shifts like he suddenly needs to pee, Lo is uncertain. Is he most anxious that someone tipped off the Firebreathers? Or most anxious that he’s stuck on the platform between glowering gang-yetis and Firebreathers? He flinches around too quickly and errantly catches the gaze of the fattest yeti. In the moment, he certainly needs to pee.

“Uh. Ha, man, right?” He gestures forward, to the adverts. “Musicals. Best thing about the city.”

The yeti produces a pair of brass knuckles, which is ridiculous since his paws have no use for them. They are for show. Lo thanks all available gods when it becomes evident the fattest yeti is showing them off to the cigar-chopping lizards.

“A love story. In a slum. That’s so… groundbreaking.” He realizes his position and immediately dreads. He is half a car-length between the Firebreathers and gang-yetis. He will have to enter through one of their cars when the train arrives, if they’re all alive by the time it rings in.

He casts his eyes down, briefly entertaining throwing himself onto the rails. He casts them down in time to see a black-clad hand clutch the concrete. Five more do the same, and six black-cowled ninjas climb onto the platform before him. He backs away until nearly falling onto the adjacent tracks.

The ninjas rise. They eye him. They turn around, awaiting the train and checking their iPhones. One of the Firebreathers murmurs a curse in liz-speak, and Lo doesn’t have to turn around to recognize the sound of a yeti cocking a shotgun. He doesn’t have to turn around to recognize the sound of the train pulling into station, either. It is going to be a long night. As yetis jostle him forward, a furry torrent carelessly herding him toward the train, he realizes it is going to be a very long night. He wonders if the conductor will let him ride on the roof.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

"The Body Count of Monte Cristo" -Jake Rodkin, Idle Thumbs

-Miguel Cervantes's Bomb Quixote

-Richard Adams's Watership Shot Down

-Ken Kesey's One Blew Up the Cuckoo's Nest

-Emily Bronte's Smoldering Heights,

and her sister's smash hit, 

-Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyreforce

-Ernest Hemingway presents: The Gun Also Rises

-Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Skinned

-Henry Miller's Topic of Cancer

-George Orwell presents: Cannibal Farm

-Daniel Defoe's Robbing Crusoe's Son,

and the serial tie-in,

-Johann David Wyss's Switchblade Family, Robbing Sons

-Roald Dahl presents: Charlie and the Chaingun Factory

-Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Vorpal Bow

-Toni Morrison presents: Beheaded

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Leap Day

I propose that on every 29th of February that the SyFy Channel, or whatever it shall rename itself to, shall run a marathon of Quantum Leap. I further propose it not advertise this marathon, nor recognize it as an unusual event, nor even name it to the public. Rather, let anyone who happens upon this marathon every four years and happens to notice the date and title simply get what would be one of life's greatest puns.

God bless America.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Gay Divorce

My gay friends: be wary.

“Gay marriage!”

“It’s a right!”

“All love is equal!” You keep saying that, getting yourselves so excited that you won’t read the fine print. Soon you’ll get your Gay Marriage without the far more important right of Gay Divorce.

You know many centuries it took to get Straight Divorce? Don’t take it on faith that you can just break up with your significant other, especially not when a bunch of legislators hate you. Lobby for it now. In fact, it’s more important you get the right to Gay Divorce before Gay Marriage, because if Gay Marriage is anything like Straight Marriage, then it’ll be populated with shortsighted experiments that need our truly most sacred institution: telling him to get out and give you half his stuff.

Divorce is an institution that’s created more millionaires than the liquor industry, and it’s significantly helped that industry too. It’s your right, and by telling Conservatives that you’re more interested in splitting up with your spouse than marrying him, you’ll show them you have common ground. Hell, get divorced a few times and they might even nominate you for president.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bathroom Monologues Movie Awards

It's almost March 2012, so of course we're all talking about the best movies of 2011. If all the complaining on Twitter is any indication, I'm once again happy to have skipped the Academy Awards. Naturally I disagree with some of the winners. More naturally, I don't understand what some of the categories mean. But nothing shall dissuade me from telling a sizable democratic body of people who devote swaths of their lives to film that their mass conclusions were wrong. So here we go.

The Robbed Award
Going to the movie that got no play last year
and is still on my mind more than whatever won Best Picture
 I Saw the Devil

The Too Little/Too Late Award
Going to the movie I missed by several years,
but have now seen and wish I'd been on the bandwagon for at the time

The Embarrassment Award
Going to the thing that did everything film is supposed to do
better than pretty much all the films did that year
 Portal 2

The Raddest Scene Award
Going to the raddest scene in a motion picture
The Reveal and Follow-Up in Scream 4

The Dark Horse Award
Going to the movie that was way better than you all led me to believe it would be
 The Perfect Host

You're Actually All Great At This
Going to the best ensemble in a motion picture or TV show,
since one TV show smoked all the movies this year anyway
 Breaking Bad

The Frank/Nixon Memorial Award
Going to all actors who performed as well or better
than Frank Langella did in Frost/Nixon
 For the fourth year in a row, nobody

The "There's No Such Thing As The Best Movie of the Year" Award
Seeing as there is no such thing as a best movie amidst a field of comedies, dramas, musicals, period pieces, speculative fiction, animation, blockbusters and an international film market we're both not watching enough of as it is, the award that simply goes to whatever movie brought me the closes to both crying and laughing last year
 Paradise Lost 3

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Nothing Exits, Nothing Gained

Boy goes into the house.

Girl exits the house.

Cops enter the house.

Criminal exits the house.

Victim returns to the house.

Pitiful claims exit the house.

Therapist enters the house.

Corpse exits the house.

Exorcist enters the house.

Nothing exits the house ever again.

“For Sale” sign keeps the house company.
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