Monthly Archives: December 2006

The Annual "Bad Sex in Fiction" Awards

It’s one of my favorite times of the year, and not just because 2006 is almost over and my Detroit Lions are almost done embarrassing an entire state for yet another season, but “Literary Review” magazine has released their annual “Bad Sex in Fiction” awards.

Here’s some brief background:

The awards were set up by Auberon Waugh with the aim of gently dissuading authors and publishers from including unconvincing, perfunctory, embarrassing or redundant passages of a sexual nature in otherwise sound literary novels. Previous winners include Tom Wolfe, AA Gill, Sebastian Faulks, and Melvyn Bragg.

Here’s my favorite from the pool of nominees. It’s a passage from the novel Twentysomething by Iain Hollingshead:

She’s wearing a short, floaty skirt that’s more suited to July than February. She leans forward to peck me on the cheek, which feels weird, as she’s never kissed me on the cheek before. We’d kissed properly the first time we met. And that was over three years ago.

But the peck on the cheek turns into a quick peck on the lips. She hugs me tight. I can feel her breasts against her chest. I cup my hands round her face and start to kiss her properly, She slides one of her slender legs in between mine. Oh Jack, she was moaning now, her curves pushed up against me, her crotch taut against my bulging trousers, her hands gripping fistfuls of my hair. She reaches for my belt. I groan too, in expectation. And then I’m inside her, and everything is pure white as we’re lost in a commotion of grunts and squeaks, flashing unconnected images and explosions of a million little particles.

Sounds like they were doing it next to the hamster cage during a thunderstorm. This pretty much sums up a backseat encounter I had in 1984. I’ll never forget that cornfield.

Here’s a bit of The Whole World Over by Julia Glass:

‘You’re a sexy lady, know that?’ Stan whispered as he unzipped her pants. She had no answer; she kept her eyes closed and sank into the music. His naked penis, when she felt it against her bare skin, was a shock, mostly for the desire it beckoned from Saga’s marrow.

I particularly enjoyed the final sentence, as I’m a big fan of combining sex and osteology.

Here’s a passage that strikes a sexual nerve with the surgical precision of The Three Stooges performing quadruple bypass on an under-anethatized Roberto Benigni. It’s from A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon:

She put her hand around his penis and moved it back and forth and it no longer seemed strange, not even a part of his body, more a part of hers, the sensations flowing in one unbroken circle.

Suggested follow-up sentence: “That’s the Playstation controller, you moron.”

And then there’s Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

Tom Yew got on her and sort of jiggled there and she gasped like he was giving her a Chinese burn and wrapped her legs round him, froggily. Now he moved up and down, Man-from-Atlantisly. His silver chain jiggled on his neck.
Now her grubby soles met like they were praying.
Now his skin was glazed in roast pork sweat.
Now she made a noise like a tortured Moomintroll.
Now Tom Yew’s body jerkjerked judderily jackknifed and a noise like a ripping cable tore out of him. Once more, like he’d been booted in the balls.
Her fingernails’d sunk salmony welts into his arse.
Debby Crombie’s mouth made a perfect O.

Yes indeed, the plugged-in hair dryer had fallen into the bathtub.

For next year’s contest, I think I’ll submit a sample from a piece I wrote years ago about how adding sexual content to books on economics would make the subject far more desirable and understandable to college-age kids.

For example, which is more interesting, this:

One can read whole reams of economic literature written by both fervent followers of John Maynard Keynes and his attackers as well and never know that there was a German language edition of his profoundly influential General Theory late in 1936, for which Keynes wrote a special foreword addressed solely to German readers.

Or this:

The British economist unbuttoned her blouse as he whispered the General Theory of Unemployment into her ear. Keynes was his name, economics was his game. She laid back, quivering from his masterful evaluation of the recession. Her Supply Curves and healthy Assets gave him Hard Currency. His Demand Durve straightened. As her Liquidity Preference became apparent as he began slowly, methodically, and gently explaining why the U.S. should go back on the Gold Standard…

At any rate, click here to further explore bad sex writing in fiction. For bad sex in non-fiction, as always, I recommend the Starr Report.

I hope you all have a healthy and prosperous 2007! See you on the other side.

———-

Note: If you’re seeing only this post, the entire blog can be accessed at DougPowers.com

The Annual “Bad Sex in Fiction” Awards

It’s one of my favorite times of the year, and not just because 2006 is almost over and my Detroit Lions are almost done embarrassing an entire state for yet another season, but “Literary Review” magazine has released their annual “Bad Sex in Fiction” awards.

Here’s some brief background:

The awards were set up by Auberon Waugh with the aim of gently dissuading authors and publishers from including unconvincing, perfunctory, embarrassing or redundant passages of a sexual nature in otherwise sound literary novels. Previous winners include Tom Wolfe, AA Gill, Sebastian Faulks, and Melvyn Bragg.

Here’s my favorite from the pool of nominees. It’s a passage from the novel Twentysomething by Iain Hollingshead:

She’s wearing a short, floaty skirt that’s more suited to July than February. She leans forward to peck me on the cheek, which feels weird, as she’s never kissed me on the cheek before. We’d kissed properly the first time we met. And that was over three years ago.

But the peck on the cheek turns into a quick peck on the lips. She hugs me tight. I can feel her breasts against her chest. I cup my hands round her face and start to kiss her properly, She slides one of her slender legs in between mine. Oh Jack, she was moaning now, her curves pushed up against me, her crotch taut against my bulging trousers, her hands gripping fistfuls of my hair. She reaches for my belt. I groan too, in expectation. And then I’m inside her, and everything is pure white as we’re lost in a commotion of grunts and squeaks, flashing unconnected images and explosions of a million little particles.

Sounds like they were doing it next to the hamster cage during a thunderstorm. This pretty much sums up a backseat encounter I had in 1984. I’ll never forget that cornfield.

Here’s a bit of The Whole World Over by Julia Glass:

‘You’re a sexy lady, know that?’ Stan whispered as he unzipped her pants. She had no answer; she kept her eyes closed and sank into the music. His naked penis, when she felt it against her bare skin, was a shock, mostly for the desire it beckoned from Saga’s marrow.

I particularly enjoyed the final sentence, as I’m a big fan of combining sex and osteology.

Here’s a passage that strikes a sexual nerve with the surgical precision of The Three Stooges performing quadruple bypass on an under-anethatized Roberto Benigni. It’s from A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon:

She put her hand around his penis and moved it back and forth and it no longer seemed strange, not even a part of his body, more a part of hers, the sensations flowing in one unbroken circle.

Suggested follow-up sentence: “That’s the Playstation controller, you moron.”

And then there’s Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

Tom Yew got on her and sort of jiggled there and she gasped like he was giving her a Chinese burn and wrapped her legs round him, froggily. Now he moved up and down, Man-from-Atlantisly. His silver chain jiggled on his neck.
Now her grubby soles met like they were praying.
Now his skin was glazed in roast pork sweat.
Now she made a noise like a tortured Moomintroll.
Now Tom Yew’s body jerkjerked judderily jackknifed and a noise like a ripping cable tore out of him. Once more, like he’d been booted in the balls.
Her fingernails’d sunk salmony welts into his arse.
Debby Crombie’s mouth made a perfect O.

Yes indeed, the plugged-in hair dryer had fallen into the bathtub.

For next year’s contest, I think I’ll submit a sample from a piece I wrote years ago about how adding sexual content to books on economics would make the subject far more desirable and understandable to college-age kids.

For example, which is more interesting, this:

One can read whole reams of economic literature written by both fervent followers of John Maynard Keynes and his attackers as well and never know that there was a German language edition of his profoundly influential General Theory late in 1936, for which Keynes wrote a special foreword addressed solely to German readers.

Or this:

The British economist unbuttoned her blouse as he whispered the General Theory of Unemployment into her ear. Keynes was his name, economics was his game. She laid back, quivering from his masterful evaluation of the recession. Her Supply Curves and healthy Assets gave him Hard Currency. His Demand Durve straightened. As her Liquidity Preference became apparent as he began slowly, methodically, and gently explaining why the U.S. should go back on the Gold Standard…

At any rate, click here to further explore bad sex writing in fiction. For bad sex in non-fiction, as always, I recommend the Starr Report.

I hope you all have a healthy and prosperous 2007! See you on the other side.

———-

Note: If you’re seeing only this post, the entire blog can be accessed at DougPowers.com

Not Just Another Swinging Dic

It was a scene that would have been appreciated by the great Rod Serling, and one that might have qualified as a classic Twilight Zone episode. Saddam Hussein, after decades of sentencing innocent people to die by having them handed red cards shortly before executing them, was handed his own red card.

That red card carried a lot of weight, and no amount of Baghdad Bob denial (“there is no rope here, this is an illusion!”) was going to be able to downplay this inevitability: Saddam Hussein, the Butcher of Baghdad, was about to be no more. Military forces had previously applied justice to Hussein’s psychotic sons, Uday and Qusay, by turning them from Iraqi nuts into Swiss cheese, and now it was dear old dad’s turn.

There were some last minute appeals by Hussein’s attorneys — a job second only to “pancake flipper” in its rate of turnover. Saddam’s lawyers made last-ditch-effort appeals to U.S. courts, knowing that if the case got caught up in the American judicial process, their client would die of old age before any sentence was carried out. It wasn’t to be.

It was time. Hussein was led to the gallows. Hussein was placed on the platform and hooded men secured the rope around his neck. As the gallows platform fell, in the blink of an eye, the title of “Saddam Hussein’s number one enemy” was transferred from George W. Bush to Sir Isaac Newton.

The news hit the airwaves just after 10 p.m. eastern time on Friday night, after several hours of analysis of what was happening and why. CNN even dissected what happens to ones body during a hanging (doi!), using skeletal models and “experts,” in a lengthy manner that was more painful than actually being hanged. Some of them seemed to think that hanging is inhumane, sick and wrong, but they didn’t seem to care a lick about the dead horse they were beating.

Many have looked at the war in Iraq and said that attacking the then Hussein controlled nation after 9/11 was like shooting the cat because the dog pooped on the carpet, and that Hussein had nothing to do with the attacks on the United States. Not only that, but some fear Hussein’s execution could spark more violence. A Vatican spokesman said “It might fuel the spirit of revenge and sow seeds of new violence.” I tend to believe the opposite: you can’t get viable seeds from a dead plant.

On all the Hussein execution post-game shows, the debates continued. “Al Qaeda is no weaker because Saddam Hussein is dead,” I heard a man argue on one of the cable news channels.

It’s barely debatable that Saddam Hussein was a cold-blooded murderer who hated the civilized world and the freedom and justice for which it stands. Now, after Saddam’s hanging, as the gallows creak echoes into the morning breeze like an old sailboat tied to a wooden dock in a lazy bay, let’s not kid ourselves: if circulating the story and pictures of this execution as proof of the just fate that awaits despots and murderous thugs gives just one person a moment of pause — a person who may have otherwise considered himself destined to fill the shoes of Saddam Hussein that are now fluttering three feet off the ground – then yes, terrorism was weakened.

Go to Dearborn, Michigan – which erupted like Paris on Bastille Day – and try telling those Iraqi immigrants and expatriates, many of whom lost loved ones under the iron fist of Saddam Hussein’s regime, that terrorism was not dealt a blow at 6 a.m. Saturday morning in Iraq.

Instead of discussing what wasn’t accomplished by hanging Saddam Hussein, let’s approach the question from a different angle. Exactly how many terrorists, thugs and psychotic murderers out there are at this very second looking at photos of a hanging Hussein, seeing the lifeless mug of The Butcher of Baghdad morph into their own face, and rethinking their lifestyle? If the answer is “only one,” then the execution of Saddam Hussein might have saved countless innocent lives.

It might be hard to tell how many lives have been saved as a result of the capture and ripple deterrent effect of the swift justice brought to Saddam Hussein, because counting those not killed in events that never happened isn’t a quantifiable statistic. What we can do is this — and it might sound silly – but every time nothing happens, remember and appreciate one of the reasons why.

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Note: If you’re seeing only this post, the entire blog can be accessed at DougPowers.com

There Go My Weekend Theater Plans

In Rome, an opera that depicts Tony Blair, George W. Bush, former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, French President Jacques Chirac and Russian President Vladimir Putin dancing in their underwear has been cancelled.

Why? Not entirely because of that particular scene:

La Scala spokesman Carlo Maria Cella said Friday the scene “was only part of the problem, and a small part.”

If I were one of these actors clad in tight underwear, I’d be more than a little offended by that statement.

Death to Bonaduce!

I have to admit, this is a rallying cry I thought I’d never hear coming from anybody but professional drummers.

It’s no secret — there are plenty of folks out there who hate President Bush. If you like or even tolerate the president, they hate you, too. Who are “they”? Well, they’re very often self-promoted as “anti-war” and/or “pro peace.”

As history has shown, there can be occasions when those who seek peace for a living, even winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, can be the most violent and vitriolic among us.

Danny Bonaduce might be finding that out.

It all started with a video you might have heard about by now. A “the government planned 9/11″ guy named John Conner, who runs a website called TheResistanceManifesto.com and has a book of the same name, approached Bonaduce at an outdoor cafe to ask him a few questions, and Bonaduce pretty much ate not only his own lunch, but also Conner’s. Here’s the video if you haven’t seen it.

Now Bonaduce is saying he’s getting death threats for his pro-Bush stand, and that the FBI is involved. Good Lord, some of us really need to prioritize, don’t we? If you are angered about what Danny Bonaduce says about politics to the point of having to threaten his life, you’re doing nothing but proving that, well, Bonaduce’s probably right.

John Conner could well be getting death threats too, bringing to light the opposite of the above paragraph. At worst I might threaten to do is smash his camera so he’d stop buzzing around bothering people like a human mosquito carrying kook-borne annoyance, but that’s here nor there.

Why is this even news? To many it’s not, but for others, I think it’s that we’re in utter shock when we see somebody with Hollywood ties no matter how distant, anybody — even a former child star who gained fame for fake playing the drums – speak out in defense of President Bush.

From the anti-Bush perspective, specifically from those in the entertainment biz, this minor uprising must be quickly put down, hence the apparent lashing out against Bonaduce. Before you know it, we could be hearing pro-Bush rhetoric from that Erkel guy, then maybe Gary Coleman and the Olsen twins. If it caught on and moved up into the upper tier of Hollywood glitterati, the effects could be devastating, perhaps someday culminating in the Academy Awards being cancelled amid fears that a nominee was planning to deliver a pro-Bush speech. Perish the thought.

This is all actually giving both Bonaduce and Conner a lot of attention and face time, and that’s what the entertainment business is all about, so kudos to both of them. Can we get back to things that matter now?

Now if Mr. Conner could just answer two questions for me. 1) If Bush planned 9/11 in order to invade Iraq, among other things, why was he so incredibly stupid as to not have made even one of his imaginary hijackers Iraqi? And, 2) what the hell does any of this have to do with the opinion of a member of the frickin’ Partridge Family?

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Note: If you’re seeing only this post, the entire blog can be accessed at DougPowers.com

John Edwards To Announce 1) Bid For President, 2) He's Been Diagnosed With Lactose Intolerance From Over-Milking Katrina

When you picture what constitutes a good president, you may think of somebody strong, both physically and emotionally, and what could possibly make you mentally and physically tougher than waking up early every morning to milk a tragedy for all its worth?

Former Senator John Edwards has announced that he’s once again running for president, where he rallied the crowd by asking them to shout “yes” if they want him to be president and/or have suffered a neck injury from a passenger-side airbag. The announcement was made in New Orleans, home to what pro-big government bureaucracy Democrats say is proof of what gets bungled when big-government bureaucrats are in charge of things. Despite this built-in paradoxical reason not to vote for a Democrat, Edwards is primping and ready to go.

From John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and on down, Democrats, who have rarely met a government program they didn’t like, have crawled out of the woodwork complaining about how the government failed the people during and after hurricane Katrina.

John Edwards stood in New Orleans today and announced (in addition to having been diagnosed with terminal lactose intolerance from milking Katrina) that the government failed and needs revamping. Actually he’s stumbled upon a legitimate problem – but even a blind nut finds a squirrel once in a while. Before you think Edwards is finally starting to “get it,” consider the reason the problem is being brought to our attention: so Edwards can apply his solution. The “solution” is that monstrous programs simply aren’t adequately funded, nor are there enough of them.

The message that has been sent by the left, and was sent again today by Edwards, is dizzying in its doublespeak, but not shocking. The government failed, so the only way to combat that is by throwing money at that failure until it succeeds.

In this particular case, Edwards will ask for permission to treat a patient with chronic diarrhea by prescribing Ex-Lax and Fiber One.

But the goal here is the same as it usually is in politics, and that goal has nothing to do with actually “solving” any problem — it’s all about “divide and conquer.”

Since early in the presidential campaign of 2004, when John Edwards was still in the running for his party’s nomination, he delivered his infamous “two Americas” speech. In Edwards’ stock talk of the day, he spoke of how there is one America that has all the cool stuff, and another America that gets the shaft.

Edwards’ making the announcement of his ’08 White House bid in New Orleans is proof-positive that he plans to continue using the “two Americas” mantra in an attempt to part America as skillfully and evenly as his hair.

Are there really “two Americas”? For Edwards there certainly is. As just one example, there is one America without health insurance, and another America that has made a fortune driving insurance costs so high that the astronauts on the orbiting International Space Station may have to be sent out to retrieve the operating budgets of insurance companies and health-care providers.

Actually, John Edwards lives in a little spoken of “third America,” where every day is Halloween, and “demagoguery” and “fear mongering” go trick-or-treating while costumed in the cheap plastic masks of “optimism” and “hope,” and a “third America” where the farmers are taught to separate the wheat from the chaff by getting the two to hate each other.

Even if there really were “two Americas,” Edwards’ methods aren’t the way to go about getting them back together. John Edwards has said that he wants to “build one America,” but it’s tough to construct something when the only tools you know how to use are pry bars and wrecking balls.

But man, what nice hair!

By the way, Edwards’ campaign slogan is “tomorrow begins today.” This of course means that today began yesterday, and the day after tomorrow begins tomorrow, which, of course, began today. Confused? Good, you’re ready for campaign season then.

———

Note: If you’re seeing only this post, the entire blog can be accessed at DougPowers.com

John Edwards To Announce 1) Bid For President, 2) He’s Been Diagnosed With Lactose Intolerance From Over-Milking Katrina

When you picture what constitutes a good president, you may think of somebody strong, both physically and emotionally, and what could possibly make you mentally and physically tougher than waking up early every morning to milk a tragedy for all its worth?

Former Senator John Edwards has announced that he’s once again running for president, where he rallied the crowd by asking them to shout “yes” if they want him to be president and/or have suffered a neck injury from a passenger-side airbag. The announcement was made in New Orleans, home to what pro-big government bureaucracy Democrats say is proof of what gets bungled when big-government bureaucrats are in charge of things. Despite this built-in paradoxical reason not to vote for a Democrat, Edwards is primping and ready to go.

From John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and on down, Democrats, who have rarely met a government program they didn’t like, have crawled out of the woodwork complaining about how the government failed the people during and after hurricane Katrina.

John Edwards stood in New Orleans today and announced (in addition to having been diagnosed with terminal lactose intolerance from milking Katrina) that the government failed and needs revamping. Actually he’s stumbled upon a legitimate problem – but even a blind nut finds a squirrel once in a while. Before you think Edwards is finally starting to “get it,” consider the reason the problem is being brought to our attention: so Edwards can apply his solution. The “solution” is that monstrous programs simply aren’t adequately funded, nor are there enough of them.

The message that has been sent by the left, and was sent again today by Edwards, is dizzying in its doublespeak, but not shocking. The government failed, so the only way to combat that is by throwing money at that failure until it succeeds.

In this particular case, Edwards will ask for permission to treat a patient with chronic diarrhea by prescribing Ex-Lax and Fiber One.

But the goal here is the same as it usually is in politics, and that goal has nothing to do with actually “solving” any problem — it’s all about “divide and conquer.”

Since early in the presidential campaign of 2004, when John Edwards was still in the running for his party’s nomination, he delivered his infamous “two Americas” speech. In Edwards’ stock talk of the day, he spoke of how there is one America that has all the cool stuff, and another America that gets the shaft.

Edwards’ making the announcement of his ’08 White House bid in New Orleans is proof-positive that he plans to continue using the “two Americas” mantra in an attempt to part America as skillfully and evenly as his hair.

Are there really “two Americas”? For Edwards there certainly is. As just one example, there is one America without health insurance, and another America that has made a fortune driving insurance costs so high that the astronauts on the orbiting International Space Station may have to be sent out to retrieve the operating budgets of insurance companies and health-care providers.

Actually, John Edwards lives in a little spoken of “third America,” where every day is Halloween, and “demagoguery” and “fear mongering” go trick-or-treating while costumed in the cheap plastic masks of “optimism” and “hope,” and a “third America” where the farmers are taught to separate the wheat from the chaff by getting the two to hate each other.

Even if there really were “two Americas,” Edwards’ methods aren’t the way to go about getting them back together. John Edwards has said that he wants to “build one America,” but it’s tough to construct something when the only tools you know how to use are pry bars and wrecking balls.

But man, what nice hair!

By the way, Edwards’ campaign slogan is “tomorrow begins today.” This of course means that today began yesterday, and the day after tomorrow begins tomorrow, which, of course, began today. Confused? Good, you’re ready for campaign season then.

———

Note: If you’re seeing only this post, the entire blog can be accessed at DougPowers.com

Hangin' With Mr. Hussein

If you read or watched many left-leaning writers, pundits and “scholars,” (::cough:: “Hans Blix” ::cough::) you’ve no doubt been exposed to some variation of the line, “the Iraqis were far better off under Saddam than they are now.”

Well, it looks as if many of the Iraqis believe that too, because they’re applying in droves to be the person who pulls the lever on the gallows so they can be under Saddam once again — as he swings overhead.

Hangin’ With Mr. Hussein

If you read or watched many left-leaning writers, pundits and “scholars,” (::cough:: “Hans Blix” ::cough::) you’ve no doubt been exposed to some variation of the line, “the Iraqis were far better off under Saddam than they are now.”

Well, it looks as if many of the Iraqis believe that too, because they’re applying in droves to be the person who pulls the lever on the gallows so they can be under Saddam once again — as he swings overhead.

Gerald Ford, Rest In Peace

Former President Gerald Ford has died at the age of 93, and no, as the famous Saturday Night Live skit predicted over a decade ago, he was not eaten by wolves.

Observing Gerald Ford over the years, he struck me as the sort of person who was almost too good for politics. He was in the pantheon of those few politicians who was never personally involved in a scandal, intern buggering, said anything horrendously stupid, or was an incredible suck-up weasel. We often refer to this as “boring,” but it’s in a good way and one that’s not often applied to politicians.

But if you are a politician, unfortunately, “boring” apparently isn’t enough to beat Jimmy Carter.

After President Nixon’s resignation, Ford became president and subsequently pardoned Nixon — a move that might have sealed Ford’s loss in the 1976 election and put Jimmy Carter in the driver’s seat as Captain Hazelwood of the SS America.

Gerald Ford might be one of those presidents – along with perhaps Bill Clinton – whose wife ends up having a greater legacy than he will. In the case of Bill Clinton, it comes down to “one trip to the dry cleaners = goodbye ‘presidential legacy’,” but Ford’s case, it’s got something to do with the Betty Ford Center founded by his wife, which has been home to more Hollywood celebs than MGM.

Ford’s life has been filled with some great milestones:

And some incredibly uncomfortable and awkward moments:

But through it all, including an assassination attempt by a person with a nickname usually reserved for a dog’s rubber chew toy, Ford handled himself with aplomb. Anybody who has his own airport (one which I’ve flown into and out of many times, and is — you guessed it — boring, but in a good way, like Ford himself) has to have done something right.

Funeral plans for President Ford are pending, and no doubt in won’t be as lengthy and as covered as Ronald Reagan’s, but Gerald Ford is a man who is owed a good deal of respect for inheriting some ugly situations (Nixon resigning, Vietnam, the conception of disco) and handling them with class and dignity.

In addition to the presidential aspect of this, the last living member of The Warren Commission has now died. Get ready for all the conspiracy theories to start flying again, since Ford’s no longer here to continue to say they’re complete bunk.

Here’s Ford’s biography from WhiteHouse.gov.

Rest in peace, Mr. President — and please tell Nixon to take that suit off and relax for God’s sake.

———-

Note: If you’re seeing only this post, the entire blog can be accessed at DougPowers.com