In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« ST News | Main | Un-PC Reading 2.5 »

July 23, 2008

Literary RIPs

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Back in those happy days when trilobites ruled the planet and I was taking English classes in college, the literary scene included poetry, short stories and the perennial hazy shadow of The Great American Novel.

And now, there is desolation or a seriously good imitation of it.

Poetry? Pretty invisible aside from precious little journals. True, Hilton Kramer and Roger Kimball include it from time to time in The New Criterion, but the cause is pretty well lost for the near term. And I'm no help. Although I'm capable of writing the stuff, I have zero interest in reading it. Moreover, my prospects of becoming the Lone Ranger in that regard are zilch on steroids.

Short stories? When I was a kid, mass-circulation magazine such as Saturday Evening Post and Collier's -- not to mention the women's magazine my mother read -- had lots of short fiction to complement their other articles. Today, mass-circulation magazines that include fiction represent a diminished species. My impression is that, aside from anthologies, short fiction is mostly found in "little magazines" and genre magazines (think mystery, sci-fi).

As for The Great American Novel, I'm not sure that there ever was such a thing. Rather, it was a semi-mythical Quest that writers with a couple of halfway decent-sellers under their belts wanted to take on. Maybe the whole idea was simply a joke. Still, I've seen it mentioned for about as long as I can remember.

Actually, the notion of encapsulating a large nation is a single novel seems absurd. And it was absurd even in the time of Theodore Dreiser and Sinclair Lewis; Small-town Minnesota or big-city Illinois are not each other, nor are they Pennsylvania coal-mining country, the Deep South or Monterey's canneries.

About the only country remotely capable of being encapsulated by a work of fiction is the Vatican, and even that would be a toughie to pull off.



UPDATE: Mulling over the concept of The Great American Novel 15 minutes after posting the above, I suppose the phrase might have to do with a great novel written by an American. This would make sense in the context of American cultural inferiority to Europe that lasted into the 20th century. However, the phrase doesn't scan that way. The implication I've always drawn is that the theme of such a novel must be about America and reveal much about the character of the country. That is, the whole package -- author, subjects, theme -- must be home-grown.

Since I never was an English major in college, I'll cop out and plead ignorance, letting Michael and others more familiar with the game take over in Comments.

posted by Donald at July 23, 2008


I would guess that the supreme literary/cultural ambition today is not to make the Great American Anything, but instead to enter the cultural DNA, preferably lots of times, in lots of ways, and get passed down from generation to generation, especially recurrently among the young and hip.

Who wants to make a static museum piece monstrosity that tops the critics list when you can, say, be remembered by phrases like, "Beam me up Scotty" or "D'oh!" or a snatch of music or a memorable image, the kind that can be reproduced on t-shirts, or even better, get parodied on all the late night shows. That's the kind of immortality artists crave today, not being the centrepiece of some museum exhibit or starring in a 10,000 word NYRB survey essay.

Oh, and be remembered popularistically and DNA-ically everywhere on Earth, not just in America. The real immortality is showing up on posters on the walls of corrugated tin third world shacks too. And being used in advertisements for cars and beer and music players and salty wiener products.

Posted by: PatrickH on July 23, 2008 3:49 PM

Great American novel? Already been written. Twice.

Moby Dick

Huckleberry Finn

Posted by: vanderleun on July 23, 2008 3:54 PM

FWIW – just last night I interviewed two poets on a radio show I co-host on a local community/college non-commercial station. They have just published an anthology of works from poets involved in a weekly reading/slam. The local team just returned from the regional meet s in Boston and have made it to the finals taking place in Madison WI next month. While on the air they got a call from the coffeehouse in town where the weekly local slam is held. They regularly turn out an audience of 50+. One topic we discussed was how every decade or so there's a cry of "poetry is dead", but from where these youngsters (18 & 30ish) stand it is alive and well and kicking some serious butt.

Posted by: Chris White on July 23, 2008 4:11 PM

Atlantic and New Yorker still publish short stories on a regular basis and although I haven't seen a copy in years, I would imagine that Playboy still does. I mean, come on, give up on the "I buy it for the articles joke"?

Posted by: Mark on July 23, 2008 7:16 PM

No one here will agree with me, but I consider "White Noise" the Great American Novel of the postmodern age.

I'm all ready to be blasted as a Commie Wiccan with no literary taste!

Posted by: Sister Wolf on July 23, 2008 7:49 PM

Chris White:

Too bad slam poetry is godawful. I say that as a former slam poet who realized "Hey, why is 99% of what I'm hearing today either stridently political and/or done in a tiredly over-bombastic delivery? It's like if poets of a past age wrote only sonnets about flowers. I changed my style radically towards my original influences and found myself quickly out of favor.

Also in a completely unrelated note, at long last, I gots myself a blog of sorts. Expect poetry and thoughts on poetry to be posted there every now and then.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on July 23, 2008 8:22 PM

TGAN was written in 1948. Change the location from the Deep South to the Midwest, Far West, Upper Right Hand Corner or Deep North and it will still work and still be quintessentially American: All The King's Men by Robert Penn Warren.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on July 23, 2008 8:45 PM

I like Spike's take on slam being so slammin' bad. Here's a brief message I wrote a while back to a (genuine, published) poet friend about the appearance of a slammer/rapper on the TV Ontario show, 'Heart of a Poet' and the difference she (my friend, that is) had pointed out between poetry and the 'spoken word' community:

Useful distinction, too, between being a poet, and being a member of the 'spoken word community'. Heart of a Poet oftens covers people who deserve that moniker more than poet. Recently they did a show on an awful Toronto rap/slam woman. Turned it off after five minutes. The language was utterly banal, simplistic and adolescent. Like rap! Like slam! If what she was spouting was poetry, then so are the lyrics to "Pimp That Ho Bro!" by J-zzizzle D2 Rapmaster FunkTizzleWang.

That stuff ain't poetry, friends, it's syllables.

Posted by: PatrickH on July 23, 2008 8:48 PM

Budd Schulberg's What Makes Sammy Run, The Disenchanted, and The Harder They Fall make a great American trilogy.

But I agree with Pauline Kael, who wrote, in the late '60s, that the movie director had supplanted the novelist as youth's culture hero. I suppose one can now add video game designer, internet entrepreneur, etc.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on July 23, 2008 9:48 PM

if I understand the term correctly (and my only point of reference is by parallel "The Great Russian Novel" [that being War&Peace] or "The Great French Novel" [Balzac legacy], it describes the work of literature that encompasses the typical national traits and/or mentality that stays with the national character across generations.

Tom Sawyer is one such novel.

But don't discard Lewis or Dreiser; they were my windows (albeit - I thought - a bit outdated) into American life, seen from across the oceans. After 16 yrs of living here, I can honestly say they are right on the money in more cases than not.
Take Elmer Gentry, for instance. It's such a perfect analysis of Obama popularity (if not in all its aspects), anything that's being said about him now comes as old news.

Posted by: Tatyana on July 23, 2008 10:40 PM

Based on a label ... "slam" ... Spike and Patrick declare what is and isn't poetry. Talk about hubris.

While there may be a bias toward the ear rather than the eye, wouldn't that seem to hearken back to poetry from the ancient Greeks until, what, the 18th C. or so? Since Spike has been part of the slam scene, I'm more than willing to grant that he's heard a lot of bad/banal material being done. Of course, the same could have been said at any point in time when there were open poetry readings. I suspect there were loads of dreadful sappy sonnets read in Victorian drawing rooms by sensitive lads and lasses, but so what? It's kind of like judging the vitality of painting today based on what's on the wall at the local coffeehouse.

When I talked with my interview guests about the differences between slam and "academic" poetry, while they did discuss the increased importance of sound and presentation vs. the look on the page, they also mentioned that one of the regulars at their coffeehouse reading/slams was Martin Steingesser, poet laureate of Portland (he's certainly "genuine, published"). But then, he is also known as a performer, so it must not be poetry, but just syllables, right?

Seems like you guys WANT poetry to be dead because it fits some idea you've got about the world. If our small city can have a weekly poetry reading/slam on Tuesdays regularly turning out audiences of 50+ maybe there's still some life in it after all.

Posted by: Chris White on July 23, 2008 11:38 PM

I read something recently about Henry Rollins recoiling from being called a poet. Good! Poets should recoil, too, from being lumped in with "slam". Slam strikes me as rap by another name.

And aren't all of us with working vocal chords part of the "spoken word community"? :)

Posted by: Will S. on July 23, 2008 11:44 PM

The dirty secret of "slam poetry" is the same as the secret of contemporary theatre:

In your audience of 50, 30 came because they are friends with someone onstage or in the production, 10 came because they're whitepeople and they feel good about themselves for having an artistic experience, 8 came because their sex partner dragged them, and the remaining two are still suffering from the triumph of hope over experience.

In particular, a substantial subset of whitepeople, old and young alike, appear to display an odd combination of complete insensibility to art, and passionate appreciation for it. I suspect that many of these people, deep down inside them, have some shred of taste that official art has not yet burned away. But this is all the better for the social function of the enterprise, because the resultant suffering they experience, however mild, serves as a form of ostentatious asceticism that will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the Puritan tradition.

To be fair, contemporary academic poetry is no better. In fact, a dose of DJ Dingleberry or whoever can even be refreshing after a plunge in the sheep-dip of Agni or the Kenyon Review.

And do spare us, dear lord, the "poet-laureate of Portland." No, actually, don't spare us. Our eyes must not turn away. Here is the first sample I found. "I hear how / it speaks of a center." Not quite edgy enough for a Starbucks cup, perhaps, but Hallmark is always hiring.

To be really, really fair, Victorian verse is better, but only slightly better. In fact, I suspect the nauseating triteness of late 20th and early 21th-century verse will one day be joined in the minds of literary historians with the equally banal, if very different, archaisms and doilies of the late Victorians.

The golden ages of verse in the English language are the Elizabethan era and the mid-20th century. We have no reason to expect any other random period to match these eruptions. Even in them, most of what was published or performed was shite. For every Shakespeare there are ten Fletchers. It's the difference between "most" and "all, besides a few unclassifiable exceptions" that makes the golden age, and neither quantity nor popularity can overcome this. Quite the contrary, in fact.

Posted by: Mencius on July 24, 2008 1:28 AM

The 30's novel 'Clochemerle' enjoyed a revival when it was made into a British TV series in the early 70's. It's been largely overlooked since. Written by Gabriel Chevallier and set in the Beaujolias region, it's the story of the tensions and politics involved in the construction of a village urinal. I mention it here because I feel it really is a Great National Novel, in this case French. Clochemerle is savage and comic yet manages to bring together in one small, violent eddy all the broad currents of French history and thought. And Chevallier doesn't appear to be trying to do any of this...the 'microcosm effect' just emerges from a thoroughly well-crafted entertainment. (You can probably tell I really like Clochemerle.)

I know I feel much closer to American life reading a book like 'Double Indemnity' than I do reading that dreary stuff that wins Nobel prizes and gets studied in university. I think they call it (ugh) literature. You know the stuff I mean.

On the subject of poetry, it always seems to be in trouble but never goes away. A bit like the Western, really. It's interesting to look at the economics of verse-writing. Johnson envied Pope because he could get rich through poetry alone, a thing no longer possible by Johnson's time. A century later, Browning and Tennyson were wealthy through poetry, and probably would have been so even without all the patronage. While those two great national poets of the early twentieth century, Yeats and Cavafy, may have struggled a little, it wasn't long till Robert Frost and Walter De La Mare prospered nicely through poetry. (I'm aware that some would turn their noses up at De La Mare. That would be a mistake.)

It may well be that Seferis, Montale, Jimenez, Eliot, Valery etc deserve their high eminence...but is it time again for poets and their public to be a little less clever? After all, Phil Larkin and the early Ted Hughes did all right just giving the punters some enjoyment.

Posted by: Robert Townshend on July 24, 2008 2:32 AM

If poetry is popular, it must not be "real" poetry. If it is not popular, it must be dying and isn't that a pity. If it can be enjoyed by someone who has not received an advanced degree in English, it must be the stuff of Hallmark cards and Starbucks cups. If it is by a well credentialed academic and filled with the language and references that prove that, it is probably ponderous, dense and full of all the faults post-modern academia is prone to.

Yes, except for the time of Shakespeare and my own salad days, it is all sound and fury signifying nothing.

Posted by: Chris White on July 24, 2008 8:43 AM

Chris, Chris, whom I love with a loving love that will never stop being lovey: I never said poetry was dead. I said that slam is generally pretty damn awful. I also raised a distinction between the 'spoken word community' and poets, a distinction that many poets seem to believe is real, and put slam and rap into that community.

If my friend is a genuine, published poet, why would you think that means I'm saying poetry is dead? She herself has performed her poetry live, and was conscious of her tendency to adopt some mannerisms of the female spoken word practitioners, a consciousness reinforced by the fact that while "I never descended into SW...when a slight lilt started to creep into my readings, a friend beat it out of me with heapfuls of scorn."

She then improvised an example of spoken word as she is ungoodly done:

My coffee is COLD. [rising tone]
On the table, my c(off)ee is cold --
POOLS of blackness and a stiff stick sticking straight up
Stabbing… the sugar mount. [head tilt]
Old cough. Cold coffee.

That is waaaay better than most slam/spoken word/rap I've heard, and she, like, made it all up! On the spot! But you see, the rest of the time, she's a fine poet, she works hard at her craft, and actually, like, revises and stuff! You know, the way "poets" (so-called) used to do!

That ain't hubris, Chris. It's called creative integrity. It's still alive as much as poetry is. It just isn't much in evidence at slams, even ones with the Poet Laureate of Portland there.

P.S. A friend once casually mentioned that his parents had once had the "Auditor-General of Botswana" over for dinner. He couldn't understand why I laughed until I cried on hearing that. "Poet Laureate of Portland" is almost as funny.

Thanks for chuckle, Chris.


Posted by: PatrickH on July 24, 2008 9:37 AM

Yeah, it's too bad us hicks in Maine are so stupid and backwards that we decided to adopt the practice of naming a poet laureate. There is a state poet laureate and quite a few cities have them. Laughable really, because only poets who see a clear distinction between poetry and spoken word, and who sneer at those beneath them, deserve any consideration.

Doesn't this circle around the age old nonsense that anything that becomes popular must be of lesser worth, but it is a crying shame that great stuff isn't more popular. Sounds like all those "indie rock" fans who ADORE a band and want everyone to listen to ... right up until the day they get signed to a real label and can fill a venue larger than the tiny local dives they've been playing for a cut of the door?

Posted by: Chris White on July 24, 2008 10:43 AM

Apologies for the less than stellar grammar. I've got to watch it when I dash off a response.

Posted by: Chris White on July 24, 2008 11:21 AM

I don't know who's funnier in their preemptive self-identifying strikes: Chris White with "us hicks in Maine" or Sister W's "commie wiccan".

[note to Sister: sorry to hear about your injury. It could be worse, though: if we're to believe everything Roissy and gang are saying, you could have been married to someone like your fellow commie John Edwards; as soon as your husband is faced with the extent of your shitting ability, he'd immediately move to younger and hotter things - imagine! who would answer your cries for help, then - your dog?]

Mencius: admirable reasoning; check out archives @Godofhtemachine, though: much more concise and entertaining. Search word: poetry.

Spike: oh no! if you want us to visit your blog, why would you post your POETRY, man? Counterproductive.

PatrickH:...on a second thought, I'd rather say nothing to PatrickH.

Posted by: Tatyana on July 24, 2008 11:37 AM

Chris White:

Thanks for assuming I'm a philistine who wishes to define spoken word poetry out of existence.

Hardly. If anything, I wanted to widen it, stylistically speaking, until I realized that the audience wasn't coming for art or having their tastes broadened or challenged. They were coming because it was their "thing" and they wanted to get their particular buttons pushed. Slam poetry is as provincial and cliqueish as an urban intellectual thing can get. Frex, the coterie I was with was headed by a Japanese-American sufi chick who wanted to get slam poetry out of the whole "Audience decides who's going to get stage time and kudos." She got walloped by a crew who played to exactly what the sheep wanted. Political screeds, adolescence platitudes and dick-waving. Me with my fey somewhat subtle stage presence didn't stand a chance, especially when I decided to go for ironic delivery.

Oh well. That was years ago anyways. The guy who replaced us is now doing PSA commercials slamming against smoking, littering and other such things. Good for him.

Also I'm hardly a rap-hater. If anything slam-poets are simply wannabe rappers who don't have the flow, wit or lyrical chops to make a recording. I actually agree with Seamus Heaney that Eminem was one of the master poets of the new age. Extremely talented with raw, intelligent lyrics that did nothing but piss off small minds devoid of picking up meanings behind words. As devotee of Rimbaud, I love that kind of stuff. Even Eminem realized that for all his skill, it's a young person's medium and he's gotten out of creating new material to focus on different creative ventures. If the stuff pisses off the older folks, well it's just a generational thing.

Thanks for trying to box me up, though.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on July 24, 2008 11:51 AM

I gotta go with the group on this one and say that almost all the poetry I've heard from the slam movement not only sucks really bad, but is almost uniform in style and, most of all, delivery.

However, I've read some really good poetry from modern writers, so I'm not convinced all is lost.

Posted by: JV on July 24, 2008 12:22 PM


All part of my evil plan to both fend off the pandering to audience instinct that a lot of good blogs fall into and to rehabilitate poetry as something one can respectably do past one's undergraduate years. It's not like I'd be posting it often anyways.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on July 24, 2008 12:27 PM

PatrickH:...on a second thought, I'd rather say nothing to PatrickH.

I'd like to think that's because you either agree with me or are intimidated by my massively erudite, reasoned and eloquent responses.

I'd like to think that. What I really think is that you just don't like me. Sigh. I like you, you know. Still, you've got me in the guys-I-scrape-off-the-bottom-of-my-shoe brigade. I know that. And I accept it...

For now. If my plan works out, I'll graduate sometime from the scrape-off-shoe brigade to the guys-you-pick-off-your-sweater-like-lint group. From there, who knows? Maybe one day I'll become your favourite fleck of dandruff.

Well, a man can dream, can't he?

Posted by: PatrickH on July 24, 2008 12:53 PM


OK, after you promise not to torture us too often - how 'bout that reference to "bored"? Let's examine the premise: -if I'm bored, why would I be unterested in reading other boring blogs? -if I'm bored as much as you're, I'd go get some sleep (altern. version: go bungee-jumping) -you should've known by now (I trust you're big boy)- reverse marketing never works!

PatrickH: you confuse me with Sister W. Dandruff is something from Commie Wiccan realm - along with unclipped underarm hair.

Posted by: Tatyana on July 24, 2008 2:01 PM

My apologies, Tatyana. Of course you would never have dandruff. I imagine it would be too terrified even to waft by you on a breeze.

Sister Wolf is also a pseudo-Negro (Negroid? No, that's the usual term...hmmm...Negroid-oid!) Lesbian, if I remember correctly. I doubt that those aspects of her multi-faceted character would contribute to her dandruff, though. The Wiccan takes care of that all by her hirsute self. I guess I'll have to go haunt her hair and leave your pristine tresses and tight toned scalp to themselves if I'm to find a home for this restless heart.

Posted by: PatrickH on July 24, 2008 3:32 PM

Sorry for being overly sensitive. On the whole, I think just about any and every genre or sub-genre of nearly everything is 80+% filled with third rate hacks (or worse) mindlessly regurgitating the same clichés. If there is an audience involved the crowd wants a set of buttons pushed, fail to push those buttons and you're sidelined. It can be said of folk music, jazz, rock, any sub category of visual art you'd care to name, etc. This is no less true in slam. Rather than get upset or angry or ranting about how pointless it all is, I try to sift through the dross on the lookout for the better material.

My original point was that, given the popularity of poetry readings, including slams, the supposed death/dearth of poetry seems to me in doubt. Having just had a pair of young poets on my radio show who are involved in the local slam poetry/spoken word scene, and who just published an anthology, I pointed to them as an example of the ways in which poetry persists, despite being supposedly near death. The pieces they offered on the show, while not on the level of Shakespeare or Keats, were far from mediocre rap without the benefit of the musical bed. And for what it is worth, they also talked about the less than ideal feedback from audiences more into style and attitude than subtle substance. Nevertheless, my feeling remains more power to 'em.

As it happens my wife's radio program is getting bumped next week for a one hour special on poets in Maine. And, this fall when a University poet returns from leading a summer writing workshop and spending some time at a writing retreat, I will finish recording her reading pieces from her most recent chapbook for the "audiobook" CD version of same. The weekly slam poetry events in town "compete" with the readings given by a small poetry magazine published locally (Cafe Review) that has been around for a couple of decades. They were doing monthly readings for a long time, but their regular venue changed hands so they've been a bit irregular for the last year or so. Another friend, a vocalist who ended up in Maine after years in the NYC musical/performance art Avant-garde, is about to do a project with the poet laureates of Portland and Belfast.

Posted by: Chris White on July 24, 2008 4:35 PM

Excuse me, Tatyana, may I ask why you bring my underarm hair into this discussion? I find this very rude, unless you are being satirical in some way. Also, I am gloriously free of dandruff.

Therefore, Madam, kindly explain yourself.

Posted by: Sister Wolf on July 24, 2008 5:03 PM

I'm afraid she was tired of my attentions, Sister, and invoked your underarm hair as a kind of human shield. Rude? Certainly. Self-protective? Why, yes! After all, now I'm talking to you, not her!

Tat, that Machiavellian minx. I think I love her.

Posted by: PatrickH on July 24, 2008 6:48 PM

Sister W (btw, can you invent some other moniker? Not sounding? We don't want to offend our Catholic best enemies, do we now?)
-anyway, why's the outrage? aren't you proud of your natural beauty, moles and all? haven't you disposed of false modesty, that hypocritical bourgeois sentiment, what with the picture and all the [unappetizing] details about your body proudly revealed for the world to enjoy?

I was paying you a compliment. After all, not often one meets a genuine, principled Commie Wiccan!
Besides, you seem to like attention to your bodily functions. And Patrick loves discussing exactly that subject. I was merely directing him onto appropriate address.

Posted by: Tatyana on July 24, 2008 8:16 PM

Well, I have no moles that I know of. I don't know what you mean by "false modesty" but I'm pretty sure I have tons of it.

As for my bodily functions, evidently you are a squeamish type. I was merely documenting a traumatic experience to the best of my ability.

I sense your disapproval of my armpit hair. How do you feel about pubic hair? Is it bourgeois to wax or to be 'natural?'

Posted by: Sister Wolf on July 24, 2008 8:48 PM

Oh no-no, let's not change the subject. We're not talking about me: I'm not the one with exhibitionist streak. I prefer to keep my preferences (as well as graphic descriptions of my traumatic experiences) private. But I'm the boring, "squimish" type - so, no surprises there.

But why is it you that got offended by mere word "dandruff" - you, the radical? Are some body parts/functions/processes possessing bigger shock value than others (like armpit foliage vs. mole)? Or it is your aesthetic sense that's violated? Yeah, that must be it, I can see that: hair is in, dandruff -out. Gotcha.

Sorry, Donald, for my steering off the topic. I'm a bit upset about the stock market news tonight, so I needed a laughing-aloud moment. To cheer me up.

Posted by: Tatyana on July 24, 2008 9:44 PM


Obviously, your reaction and my reaction to boredom is quite different. Let's leave it at that for now.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on July 24, 2008 10:00 PM

WTF? Tatiana, you brought up my 'unclipped' underarm hair. I wondered what you were getting at. Since you brought my physical appearance up for discussion, I am merely inquiring about your own.

You sound like you have a lot of problems, my dear. Why such hostility toward me and my perceived politics? Were you the Prom Queen over here, and I've presented some competition?

If you don't like my looks and point of view, cool with me, but be aware that I am not a "radical" or an "exhibitionist"

I am a housewife and mom.

Posted by: Sister Wolf on July 24, 2008 11:07 PM

At the risk of provoking two ferocious women I have but one word to say: "Me-ow."

Ah, if only voice tones could be conveyed in this medium.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on July 25, 2008 9:15 AM

Ah, Spike, wouldn't it be wonderful to be caught between Sister Wolf and Tatyana? My survival time there would be brief, but O my final moments would be glorious. Glorious!

Tangentially, sort of, I remember reading a profile of a very high end Manhattan dominatrix by Paul Theroux (in the New Yorker, I think). Theroux called her "Nurse Wolf", not her real or even pro name, just his own nick for her. She was very beautiful, extremely intelligent and talented. She specialized in really hard-core pain and humiliation inflicted on the Manhattan elite. I mean, really out there on the edge stuff: genitorture, incredible humiliation scenarios, all this wreaked on some of the wealthiest most powerful men in Manhattan. Wouldn't it be cool if Nurse and Sister were related? From her pic, I think Sister would make a great dominatrix. Ahem, so would Tat, actually. Clio, maybe not. She's too kind, there's a lack of genuine edge to her anger, which is real enough, but too much sadness softening it.

If Sister wants to become a domme, I even have a slogan for her:

Safety words are for the suburbs.

Whaddya think?

Posted by: PatrickH on July 25, 2008 9:49 AM

Oh, I see there are still rings on the water.

Spike: sorry, didn't mean to upset you with the 'bored' note. I'm sure there must be an audience out there that want to share their boredom experiences; I wish you success with your target group.

PatrickH: I don't know where did you get an idea I am up to any catfights, let alone vulgar squeaky dominatrix stuff. Again, you really do confuse me with someone else. Spike was right about the tone of voices; pity you couldn't hear mine: of genuine curiosity and, alas, disappointment. If I were a Commie and a Wiccan (the genuine one), I might even sound irritated. Consistency and adherence are rare things to find.

Speaking of which: I don't see Housewife&Mom being mutually exclusive with the Commie&Wiccan thing. Come to think of, so is Lesbian&Negroid groupping. Hundreds of those are swarming around Village here. But that's an unimportant aside.

I'd like to think that's because you either agree with me
To tell you the truth, yes. And that happens so infrequently, that surprise left me speechless. That wasn't nice, I agree. So, there: you were right.

Posted by: Tatyana on July 25, 2008 11:09 AM

I didn't say you would want to be a dominatrix, only that you make a very good one if you did. That may not be quite the kind of compliment you look for, Tatyana, but it was one. Domination requires intelligence, sensitivity and the proper "attitude", which is to say "edge".

You have edge, Tat. You really do. I'm sure you're sweet and kind AS WELL. I also think you are complex and contain "multitudes", though maybe not that many in common with Whitman. Among that multitude is edge. Which you have. I stand by my characterization.

After all, you just scolded me with great skill. And Scolding is one of the Core Competencies of the craft, which indicates to me a student with great potential.

But your Dom School report card would no doubt read, "Lacks desire. Unmotivated to learn. Thinks domination is vulgar. Recommend expulsion immediately."

Which would be sad, in a way. You would become a kind of "mute inglorious Mistress Milton", so to speak. Oh well. I'm sure there are other careers you have rejected, at loss to those careers, if not to yourself. But...there's still hope for the Sister.

So get that pelvis healed up, SW, and let's talk! You may have a bright future ahead of you.

Posted by: PatrickH on July 25, 2008 12:44 PM

I actually do own a little starched Nurse's cap.

Posted by: Sister Wolf on July 25, 2008 3:21 PM

Hmmm...I can't help wondering if it was you that Theroux spoke to. The best aliases are close to the original but subtly different. "Nurse" to "Sister".

No, drat! Nurse was blonde. And I got the impression she kept herself pretty cleanly depilated in certain areas of the body where you are somewhat less, ah, controlling, shall we say?

How are you doing, Sister? I had these horrible visceral sympathy, not pains, exactly, but kinda weird googly sproigly feelings when I read about your immediate aftermath experiences. Wait, I can just check your blog, right?

In any case, be well soon, and we'll find a use for that Nurse cap. Heh-heh.

Posted by: PatrickH on July 25, 2008 4:54 PM

See, PatrickH, you did go where I instructed you, from the beginning; resistance was totally unnecessary. Now everybody's happy.

Don't worry about my career; my present field is tailored to fit and brings more piquant satisfaction than whipping some poor vinyl-briefs-clad advertising manager. Consider the possibilities behind the title "Interior Architecture of Justice Facilities".

Posted by: Tatyana on July 25, 2008 5:15 PM

Wrong, Tatyana, I'm not happy yet, not with you, since you call me out and then run from direct confrontation. I guess that's why you're no good at being a dominatrix.

But as I recall, aren't you the one who posted a link to some naked Russian friend of yours, noting that she looked better than her daughter?
I presume she was shaved to your satisfaction!

PS to PatrickH: Thanks for your good wishes, I have graduated to a walker.

Posted by: Sister Wolf on July 25, 2008 7:10 PM

See, PatrickH, you did go where I instructed you, from the beginning; resistance was totally unnecessary. Now everybody's happy.

Yes, mistress.

more piquant satisfaction than whipping some poor vinyl-briefs-clad advertising manager

Investment bankers, not advertising managers. Lordy! You underestimate yourself. But I bark up the wrong tree in any case and shall withdraw from importuning She Who Will Not Be Moved.

Sister, may your weekend be so wonderful that they're forced to retire the word 'weekend' from the English language because no other weekend could match it. May the phrase "Sister Wolf's weekend" become one word, "Sisterwolfsweekend" to designate a peak experience of some kind, not necessarily sexual, but intense, vivid, unforgettable, and never to be repeated.

In other words, enjoy, heal up, and make that walker moooove!

Posted by: PatrickH on July 25, 2008 8:19 PM

You mixed your genres. It's not a Spike TV wrestling match.

I have cut you up and served you cold - and you didn't even noticed. The severed head still argues

At least we're on a first name basis again: I'm not a "Madam" - but neither am I a "WTF", which is much appreciated. An extra point - for spelling my name right.

Still, I can't bring myself to calling you Sister. Any alternative suggestions?

Posted by: Tatyana on July 25, 2008 8:24 PM

ooops, sorry, totally forgot - how unforgivably rude of me!
Michelle, whose picture I linked to, is my "friend" in LiveJournal parlance. That means I subscribe to her blog. She lives on the Left, and I - on the Right coast, we have never met. Her daughter just graduated H.S. The reason I am able to compare their pictures is that her mom snapped one of her in the nude and shared the joy with us the readers.

Any other questions are torturing you? I'm nothing but charitable to Sisters with Broken Pelvis - what else can I do to alleviate your suffering?

[I really, really hope you killed that collie. At least kicked it in the ribs?]

Posted by: Tatyana on July 25, 2008 8:42 PM

So, let me get this straight, Miss T. You and your cyberfriend look at photos of her nude teenage daughter and she posts them online?

Can someone notify the authorities?!?

And not only that, but you "cut off my head" somehow and you want my dog to die?!?

You're lucky you live on the Right coast.

Posted by: Sister Wolf on July 26, 2008 12:16 AM

Tatyana, I really have to learn to read better. "Interior Architecture of Justice Facilities." I just got that. So in your real life job, you don't do piker domination stuff like "inviting clients into your Dungeon", you actually design real-life dungeons whose "clients" receive invitations they really truly can't refuse. That is just sooooo cool. That's not domination, that's hegemony! Gosh! And there are almost certainly restraining devices involved too!

I now fully withdraw my own half-hearted suggestion of a new career for you. You are exactly where your talents can do the most good. Carry on, my good woman!

Posted by: PatrickH on July 26, 2008 8:45 AM

Patrick, Patrick.
Didn't I say - consider the possibilities? Detention, certainly (although the counties, the nutless passive-aggressive liberals they usually are, call them various euphemisms, like State Training School. Or Juvenile Center.).

But also the Courthouses. Ah, to make 15 court officers to use ONE SHOWER. To design an NYPD locker room without benches. To make Justices walk from the elevator to their chambers, through the same corridor as general public.
To give a building engineer a corner office - and a borough chief clerk a windowless hole next to the service dock.

You have no idea, how much fun I have every day.

SW: now I see that you really are a Commie.

Posted by: Tatyana on July 26, 2008 10:51 AM


At least I'm busy running North Korea while you're snickering over nude photos of poor high school girls!

Posted by: Sister Wolf on July 26, 2008 7:47 PM

I think the guy who runs North Korea really does spend a lot of his time snickering over nude photos of poor high school girls.

And then kidnapping them for his seraglio. Unless you mean the other North Korea. Which you run, of course.

So...where's the morphine dose at these days, Sister?


Posted by: PatrickH on July 26, 2008 9:29 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?