Thursday, January 21, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
We see them all the time, rowing across a clear, blue sky, applauding into the air when we startle them, singing their sharp, sweet songs in the trees, spiraling, spinning over our heads … but when you take a bit of time and do a smidgen of research, you realize that birds are fascinating creatures, capable of some truly remarkable things.
Take, for example, the members of the anatidae family. Not familiar with them? Sure you are: aside from the city pigeon, they are probably one of the first birds people think of. Still fuzzy? Well, think ‘season’ and you might very well jump to ‘duck.’
The poor duck has gotten … if not grief then not a lot of respect, which is unfortunate because they certainly deserve it. Sure, they walk a tad comically and their quacks are more likely to get a chuckle than a salute, but they are capable of some astounding feats.
It’s common knowledge that many birds migrate – some halfway around the world, others not very far at all – but a few species of duck travel amazing distances as part of their regular travels, and at phenomenal speeds. The black brant is one such record holder, making the trip from the cold climes of Alaska to the much-warmer lands of Baja, California. No need to do the math: that’s more than 3,000 miles. A distance, by the way, covered in less than 72 hours.
The ill-respected duck is also a record holder for not just distance and time but also altitude. Although they commonly aren’t high flyers, preferring to stay relatively close to the ground, ducks have been recorded soaring to close nearly 20,000 feet. That most definitely is a ‘wow’ thing but what’s an even bigger – more like a real big WOW – is that a duck skeleton was found at 16,000 feet … in the form of a skeleton on Mount Everest.
This isn’t mentioned to make you want to shake the hand … er, ‘webbed foot’ of the mallard you see on the street with newfound admiration but to point out that if the common duck isn’t exactly common in its ability, consider the other long and high flyers among our feathered friends.
Take the Sooty Shearwaters. Sounds like a comedy character, doesn’t it? But what this seabird does is anything but funny. Remarkable, yes. Funny, no.
See, the Sooty holds the current record for the longest migration. Period. Think 3,000 miles was wild for a duck? Well, the Sooty travels from New Zealand, or thereabouts, out to the waters of the North Pacific (Japan as well as California), which is a trip much, much longer than just Alaska to California. In fact, it’s a round trip just shy of 40,000 miles.
WOW is right.
For altitude, ducks are amazing, no denying that, but if you want to get really, really high you have to look at the extremely ugly Rüppell's Vulture. That might not be fair to the bird, but ugly or not this vulture wears a handsome medal for going where no bird, or even a lot of airplanes, have gone. Ducks, sure, deserve applause for 20,000 feet but the Rüppell's Vulture goes more than just one better, attaining a remarkable 38,000 feet. Alas, the record was set when the poor bird got sucked into a jet engine at that height but you still have to admit that it was quite an accomplishment.
Here’s something that will really make you think twice about swearing at the next swallow that poops on your windshield: the Peregrine Falcon is not just a regal bird as well as a magnificent hunter: it can spot, and then swoop down on, its prey from more than half a mile away. But what’s astounding is the speed of the falcon, considered by many to be the fastest animal in the entire world, when it attacks. Faster than a cheetah, faster than a greyhound: the falcon has been clocked at close to 200 miles per hour.
Yep, that deserves another WOW.
But birds don’t have to be huge or travel long distances to be marvelous (though, in case you’re interested, the biggest living bird in the world is the ostrich, which can weigh as much as 350 pounds). The members of the family trochilidae – Hummingbirds to you and me -- aren’t big, don’t travel far, but they are certainly fast in their own way. Among the smallest of birds, they beat their wings up to 90 times per second – allowing them to fly every direction including backwards – and the hearts that power them can beat at more than 1,000 beats per minute.
Waddling across grassy fields, gliding through the air, becoming elegant silhouettes against the white of clouds, they are all around us: the magnificent – and amazing – owners of the sky. So let’s give the birds their due as well as some well-deserved respect.
Saturday, January 09, 2010
I loved this short story by M. Christian. He has a fabulously descriptive writing style that places one there in the scene with the eager participants. I could smell the tar and feel the heat of the sun beating down. I was on that rooftop. I even found myself getting slightly aroused, at this young women amusing herself in such a public place. She is surrounded by the all seeing eyes, hidden behind the blank looking glassy panes of the buildings all around her. For a queer reader like me that's saying something as this guy likes guys. They can see her, she can't see them and my -- what a display she gives.
Most of us are voyeurs to some degree or other, even general cinema, or TV is a kind of voyeurism. However in these circumstances the subject of desire isn't physically present. Is it the physical presence of the object of our desires, is that what makes voyeurism so arousing? Is it the fear of being caught that turns us on?
This story got me thinking. The subject of most voyeuristic desires don't know they are being watched, so that must add to the 'thrill' the voyeur has. The power -- he/she is in control.
As a young teenager of around 13, I would sometimes on my way back from babysitting some neighbours kids, peer through the garden fence that overlooked our neighbours. Most Saturdays they would be making out in front of porn on the TV, you could really see pretty much everything but they had no idea I was there. I got really turned on by that as I was in control, but also I was terrified that I would be caught.
A bit later on in my formative years, at around 15 I caught a voyeur, looking. I was the voyeur watching a voyeur being a voyeur and that was quite thrilling. My aunt employed a lad to do some gardening work one summer and he was hot in every respect. I watched him from the bathroom window and he was as buff as anything and about 10 years older than me at the time; I guess around 25. I noticed him trying to get a better look at something and from my vantage point I could see a young woman sunbathing topless a few gardens down. She had no idea our randy gardener was watching her and he had no idea I was watching him. He was really turned on and so was I at his arousal.
My Mr Christian, what has your story done to me all of these memories as a result of your trigger.
Cindy in Christian's story on the other hand takes control; she is empowered and is turned on at being the subject, not the unwilling participant. Could I give this delightfully titillating short story a feminist reading? Well yes, I expect so. Cindy is woman taking back what is hers, she is no longer the passive pin-up, or downtrodden street walker or abused porn star. She isn't doing this for the kids, or to pay for mum's care home, she is doing it because she wants to.
M. Christian really does know how to write, and write well. I want some more please so get busy with it!
Thursday, January 07, 2010
Hellish Weather on Other Planets
Most Powerful Supercomputers: Brains & Beauty
Monstrous Aviation, Part 2: Huge Helicopters!
Apocalyptic Scientific Experiments
One-Track Wonders: Early Monorails
Incredible Astronomical Clocks
The World's Most Magnificent Pipe Organs
Mysterious Non-Egyptians Pyramids
Walled Cities: Keeping Out the Joneses
The Art of Science, the Science of Art
Here's to even-more Dark Roasted Wonderfulness in 2010!
Saturday, January 02, 2010
Be sure and keep an eye on the site as even more stories and such will be going up very soon!
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
I'll be putting up more pages from the final over the next few months ... or you can read the entire thing on Wynn's Deviantart pages.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
And, yes, it's a pay site (pornographers gotta eat, ya know)
Monday, December 21, 2009
Egyptian pyramids? Sure, everyone knows about the ones at Giza - and a few aficionados might know about the 138 others scattered around them. Mesoamerican pyramids? Okay, a lot of folks know about them, too -- or even that the great one at Cholula is considered to be the largest one in the world.
But, unfortunately, not many people know that pyramids have come in other flavors as well, including the mysterious and legendary ones in China.
“Legendary” because the story of the Chinese pyramids initially reads like something from a wild and woolly dime-store pulp serial: JAMES GAUSSMAN AND THE JEWELED PYRAMID OF CHINA!
It all began in 1945 – well, actually it started way before that, but for most folks out here in the West, that’s when they first heard that pyramids might exist outside Mesoamerica and Egypt.
While winging his way from India to China, the aforementioned U.S. Army Air Corps pilot Gaussman supposedly saw ... well, a jewel topped pyramid. Depending on who you talk to or what books you read, either his was the first sighting of this remarkable artifact or it was just part of a surge of woolly dime-store pulp serial mythologizing. Even if Gaussman wasn’t the first to spot the pyramids, it’s still interesting that many photographs of them were supposedly locked away in military files for decades.
Making the subject even more murky was Hartwig Hausdorf's book on the subject, which fueled fires of outrageous speculation – aliens, anyone? – but didn’t give a lot of accurate or verifiable info.
Despite Gaussman’s sighting (and Hausdorf's book), the pyramids definitely deserve at least the same recognition and respect their Central American and Middle Eastern cousins have received. Also like the pyramids in Giza, many of them are truly immense: the one at Mount Li, for example, is an impressive 250 feet tall; and the Great White one is a close runner-up.
Also like their kin in the Middle East, the pyramids in China were burial chambers and mausoleums, monstrous headstones for royalty and various courtly hangers-on: Mount Li was built for the legendary Qin Shi Huang and the Great White was constructed for Emperor Wudi.
But what makes the Chinese pyramids so interesting for many people – serious archeologists as well as passionate amateurs – is what isn’t known about them. Although we know they were crypts for Emperors and Kings, their construction details are a mystery. What makes them even more elusive is that while many of them are obvious and impressive, there are others you could walk right by – and many people have for centuries -- without realizing they were
anything but just slightly angular rises or low hills. The current guestimate is that there are around 38 pyramids, but both the serious professionals as well as the dedicated hobbyists believe that number is just a fraction of how many actual structures there are scattered throughout China.
But this knowledge just raises bigger, and more bewildering questions. Naturally, people know about the ones in Egypt, the legendary structures at Giza. Absolutely, a lot of folks have heard about the huge structures scattered throughout Central America, including the gigantic one at Cholula … but only until relatively recently had any of us Westerners heard that there were pyramids in China – and maybe a century or so before that, even many Chinese didn’t know what was dotting their landscapes.
See that hill? See that mountain? See that slightly angular rise? I wonder what’s under them? I wonder what other secrets are out there, laying just under the surface … or under our feet?
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Before I get started with this post I have to throw out not one but two very sincere 'thanks' -- to the same person.
Lisabet gets the first because she was so nice to ask me to writes something for this blog, and she gets the second because she's been fantastic to work with on a very special project -- which brings me to the subject of this post.
Alessia Brio and Lisabet have been working on Coming Together, a series of books by a wide range of writers, where the profits are going to be donated to charity. Alessia and Lisabet asked me to join in -- always a way to get me to do anything -- so I, with Lisabet's invaluable help, have put together a collection of brand new and never-before-seen as well as some of my (I say this with tongue firmly in cheek) "classic" short stories.
For my charity -- well, my charity is the reason for this post.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
We had played other games, this circle and I. Games of sex, pain, pleasure and everything betwixt, between, and off to the side.
Preface: San Francisco in a place called a dungeon to some, basement to others. It was just a typical Saturday night if you travel in the right circles. Yeah, you could call them gays, lesbians, straights, dykes, fags, hets, twisted fuckers -- whatever. They were just friends. And this was just a party.
The game was Kiss and Truth. Before we started, a hat was passed and we all dropped slips of paper into it. “Something very unique or very special about you” was what we were told to write. We did, diligently scrawling them on the black leather furniture and on the nearest convenient black leather friend.
“If you hear me say what you wrote, and then you get kissed -- or kiss, sing out,” the leader of this said, a large, lovely woman in a white dress, chiming finger symbols for our attention.
The lights were put out, except for one on in the corner where she sat with her black leather beret on her head. The room was soft felt: a warm, comfortable, intimate kind of darkness. I’d done so much in that room -- traveled through pain to sex to pleasure to laughter and back again that I knew it like I knew my own fingers. I knew everyone else there just about as well -- maybe as well as my toes.
“I have a twelve year old son named Josh.”
Our mustaches met, bristly forests itching together. Faintly hiding silken lips, heated tongues, flashing whiteness of teeth, I kissed the man named Jack. From across the room a voice (female? male? Could have been both, or one, together. Many in the room were part way between the two) sang out, and giggled. “Here!”
She was short, with breasts heavy and firm. Hair a mad burst of curls. Her feet chimed with tiny bells. Lips thin and hard, with a faint fuzz of hair. Mouth a furnace of heat, like she burned somewhere down deep and her tongue was a flaming anaconda, wrapping and constricting around my own. “Over here!” a light, sparking voice said from close by.
The room was bursting with laugher, with little clicking whirls of giggles and the silent light of smiles. “I had a bad day at work.”
I don’t consider Jay really between he and she so it’s hard to say it Jay was on the way to boy or girl. Jay was Jay, unique and himself: rail thin, face a perfect blend of hard and soft, full and not, Jay’s lips are strong (like both) and so soft (like both). We kissed hot, and long, even after half the room chorused with “Yes” “Right here” “Damned straight”. Laughter. Laughter. Laughter.
“I got a new tattoo.”
A mountain of mad fun. I didn’t know his name, but there was always a smile on his lovely lips. Ever since I’d seen him, smiling like a San Francisco Gay Leather Buddha, I’d wanted to plant one on his gorgeous face. It was a worshipful act, a divine act. Maybe not sex heat in it, but love all the same. He was next to me so I turned and looked him in the eyes -- matching intent with intent. His lips were spiced, a lingering bite of cinnamon and ginger from the cookies laid out upstairs. He didn’t offer me anything more than his velvet lips and I didn’t reach in to take more. This was a devout kiss, a spiritual kiss. My body remained limp meat, my mind soared at the sparks he brought into me. “Here!” someone sang very close, and all stopped for a few beats while she lifted her dress to show the serpent that ran, red and puffy from the recent needles, up her ankle to tickle her crotch with a brilliantly forked tongue.
“I got a new ring.”
When we’d made love at the last party I had almost been consumed by her. Ignited, our kisses had turned our tongues into tongues of flames. Sexual? Damned straight, but Dorothy’s hunger was almost scary, almost scalding. Our kisses seemed to last from foreplay, into sex, and into a still-warm after glow. Never did oral sex with my lover, Dorothy; couldn’t take our lips apart long enough to try.
Black like soot, not the kind of polished black some have. Her was a skin that looked like night rolled into breasts, belly, back and smile. Her lips -- how can I describe her lips enough? I can’t. You have to come all the way out to San Francisco and taste them. Words ... just ... will ... not .. work.
We kissed through the call of “Over here”: the young, slender reed of a man baring his chest to show his new nipple ring. We would have kissed even longer save for Dorothy’s insistence that we play “this game” a little more, first.
“I’m HIV positive.”
I knew Jerry. Knew him well. Friend, pal, something else -- very special. He mirrored me: long and lean, tapered and elegant. While mine was black, though, his was dirty blond. Look at pieces of Jerry and you would think him just another punk -- but I knew him from long nights of bad movies, tears (both of us) and many, many smiles.
Jerry’s lips were slightly scabbed from cruising downtown on his board, of biting them when he was nervous. His tongue was hard and strong, a vibrant touch that shivered me down to my bare toes.
“I am,” Jerry said, and I kissed him long and hard again.
The game lasted for a while more, before dropping away with the few remaining clothes. The toys game out: leather, latex, condoms, Saran Wrap ... the tools of our friendships. We played and kissed many times thereafter.
I could only wish that Jerry could have kissed me much, much longer.