Art, music, literature and thespianism

Stop That Shit #2

Reminder: I was reading some article [no link, it was ages ago] wherein a so-called “style and etiquette” expert was making suggestions for the ages at which one should stop doing certain activities (e.g. wearing a bikini), and while I agreed with some of his statements, I found myself in stark disagreement with others. Here’s his #2 of when to stop doing things:

Women having long hair: age 40

Total bollocks. I don’t know of any actual men (i.e. who are not homosexual hairdressers, pussywhipped husbands, or beta male twerps) who like short hair on a woman. In fact, amongst most men of my acquaintance, short hair is a decided turnoff in that men often associate short hair with feminism, lesbianism or a woman who just doesn’t care about her appearance anymore (and in the last instance, they’re often woefully correct).

If you have beautiful hair, at any age, wear it long, ladies. Leave the cropped hairstyles to the lesbians and grannies. And yes, I know mommies cut their hair into “low-maintenance” styles because of children, which is a lousy excuse and ta-da! might make them look less attractive to their husbands (like anyone cares what those poor bastards think). Of course one can make excuses for women who have unfortunate hair — the thin, wispy Heather Locklear-kind which can’t hold a style or a curl; but apart from that, the longer the better.

No discussion of this topic would be complete without pitchurs, of course, and the most egregious example is the exquisite Anne Hathaway, who cut her wonderful hair short for a movie role (acceptable), then inexplicably kept it short  for well over a year thereafter (ugh).

  

Whoever persuaded her to keep her hair short must really have hated her. You see, she has very exaggerated features (huge eyes, wide mouth and thick lips which admittedly do work in her favor on stage). Longer hair keeps those features in perspective; but unless a woman has petite, regular facial features, the short hairstyle over-emphasizes them and just like Hathaway, will make her look like a caricature of herself.

And finally: bizarre hair colors and Skrillex (“Lisbet-Salander”) hairstyles should be abandoned when one graduates from college and the time for youthful experimentation has passed. Going beyond that, and I start to suspect psychological issues, e.g. Lisbet Salander (I know, she’s a fictional character; fake but accurate).

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Frankly, the only men who find such looks attractive are men with similar psychological issues. I should also point out that in the pickup artist (PUA) community, such hairstyles are catnip to guys looking for an easy lay.

Of course, every woman should be able to “express herself” and “choose what works for her” and all that feministical jive. I would politely suggest, however, that from the average man’s perspective he’d probably prefer that she doesn’t arrive at the wedding ceremony with a hairstyle like the above. And yeah, I know that women shouldn’t have to shape their appearance according to what attracts men. But that’s the reality of it. There’s a really good reason why Edwardian women kept their hair up in tight chignons during the day, and let it loose at night: the act of unpinning the hair and letting it fall past their shoulders was — and remains — an incredible aphrodisiac to men.

And finally, here’s an example of a woman who has kept her long hair way past the (“sensible”) age of 40:

I don’t think she looks good; I think she looks sensational.

 

Stop That Shit #1

I was reading some article wherein a so-called “style and etiquette” expert was making suggestions for the ages at which one should stop doing certain activities (e.g. wearing a bikini), and while I agreed with some of his statements, I found myself in stark disagreement with others. [pause while Longtime Readers pick themselves off the floor because they know I am more like the Church Lady than the Church Lady is like the Church Lady]

Here’s the first of his suggestions:

Computer games: age 18

I understand why he would think so. After all, the apparent reason why young people today, and I mean Millenials, are so socially inept is because they’re all trying to conquer World of Warcraft (WOW, as they call it) Level 76 or something, rather than actually interacting with other people [unspoken: like we old farts used to do]. Here’s the stereotype:

But Nazzo fast, Guido*. What Millennials have done is created a culture for themselves — listen to any group of Millennials (and I have three) talking, and within thirty seconds they’ll be speaking a different language which is incomprehensible to anyone other than their own generation. In other words, they are interacting with each other, but just using a platform — the Internet — which is different from what we Old ‘Uns used. And as for actual socialization (or as they wonderfully call it, meat space), there are all the ComicCons and suchlike to consider. ComicCon, in other words, is to the Snowflake Millennial Generation what a Grateful Dead concert was to the Filthy Hippie Generation. Think I’m kidding? Consider these two pics of ComicCon and a Dead farewell concert:

Other than the age difference, they are essentially the same picture: people at a cultural event, wearing costumes which identify them as being part of a distinct group, and each speaking a language which would most likely be incomprehensible to their grandparents.

“Yeah, but kids today lock themselves in their room and just play computer games all day!” is the moan.

If you haven’t done the Boomer equivalent of the Led Zeppelin haj — putting on the headphones and listening non-stop to all the Zep albums in chronological order without leaving your bedroom / college dorm — then you wouldn’t see the similarities. (Full disclosure: I’ve never done the Zep thing, but I have done the same with Steely Dan, more than once.)

I think every generation does this kind of thing — or have since maybe the Great War, or maybe even the beginning of the 20th century. Of course, the Millennials have opened themselves up to ridicule:

Then again, you should hear the shit they say about us.

I’ll be doing more of these as the fancy takes me. It’s a rich vein, and it gives me a chance to do one of my favorite things: generational mockery.


*look up “Guido Nazzo” here for an explanation of my obtuse inside joke

Not That I Care, But

According to some smart guy, here’s how you know that you’re genuinely intelligent:

  1. You learn from mistakes
  2. You read for fun
  3. You can argue from multiple perspectives
  4. You think before you speak
  5. You don’t care what others think.

Well, duh.

  1. If you don’t learn from your (and others’) mistakes, then at best you’re like the socialists, who never acknowledge the failure of their pet philosophy, but keep on repeating it in the vain hope that this time it will work. It’s also one of the main reasons I’ve always studied history, especially European history, because they’ve made more mistakes than just about anyone else — or at least, they wrote about their mistakes, unlike some African societies I could mention.
  2. Anyone who doesn’t read for fun had better have a decent excuse, or be thought stupid. When we homeschooled our kids, three hours’ reading a day was mandatory. Now they read more than I do, which is a little scary. This is why when I see the moronic expression “tl;dr” (too long; didn’t read) in any forum, my response is inevitably “ts;dd” (too stupid; don’t debate).
  3. If you can’t argue from perspectives other than your own, then you’re going to lose the argument. Every single one. Knowing the other guy’s thoughts is critical to rebuttal.
  4. Gotta say that I don’t always think before I speak. Generally, however, that’s in response to an insult or a threat; in genial discussion, I always consider not only the words I’m going to use, but the effect they may have on others, just out of politeness. This is true when I’m with friends; with strangers, I’m a lot less careful.
  5. Guilty as charged. I found out that caring about the opinions of others makes one too vulnerable, and it also makes one’s writings and arguments less compelling. Not caring also makes one impervious to insult, which is why all those screams of misogyny and racism hurled at me by liberals and other twerps had (and have) no effect on me whatsoever. I especially love it when they call me “stupid”.

This doesn’t mean I’m “genuinely intelligent”, however. It’s just wisdom learned from experience, which I guess is just an encapsulation of all five points. No intelligence necessary, just common sense.

Dutch Music

Warning note: following all the links in this post could take up most of your Saturday, so hold off until the very last one; then, if you want, listen to the others.

I’ve been a fan of the Dutch music scene ever since I first became aware of Focus — I know Golden Earring preceded them, but GE was just a Euro version of Grand Funk Railroad so nevermind.

It’s no surprise that a country which gave us Holbein, Vermeer and Rembrandt should also produce outstanding musical talent, but what astonishes me is that so small a population can churn out these musicians by the bucket load.

For a while I was enchanted by Epica — okay, maybe flame-haired singer Simone Symons had much to do with it:

…but I’ve come to enjoy that style of music a great deal.

Now before anyone starts in on me, I will acknowledge that modern Dutch bands are kinda stereotypical: a bunch of dudes with long hair dressed all in black, with plentiful rock-star posing / hair-tossing and Serious Expressions on their faces. (No eclectic neo-classical Thijs van Leer types in their ranks, oh no.) And the music is similarly formulaic: epic fantasy storytelling set to metal, with a powerful female singer.

Then, via one of the kids, came The Gentle Storm. Basically, this is one project of many produced by musical genius Arjen Lucassen (now he is like the multi-talented Thijs van Leer from Focus) and his accomplice, the astonishing singer/lyricist Anneke van Giersbergen. Most of their stuff is like all the other Dutch bands — I will grant that it’s an acquired taste — but the whole point of this post was to bring to your attention the brilliantfantasticamazing song Heart of Amsterdam. The first twenty seconds are standard Dutch-metal stuff, with a few unusual classical instruments thrown in, no synthesizers for our Arjen  — and then comes Anneke, in glorious Technicolor. Watch and enjoy this ode to one of my favorite cities in the world. I must have listened to the song over a hundred times since I first heard it.

Of course, I enjoy the thing even more with the knowledge that the term “gentle storm” is the Edwardian euphemism for an orgasm. I wonder if our Dutch friends know that.

Way Too Daring

This wonderful picture is called “The Swing” by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, was painted in 1767, and it’s the Home picture on my cell phone (yeah, I finally got a Smartphone after only ten years with a flip phone… shuddup your laughing already).

It’s painted in one of my favorite styles, Rococo, and to my mind it is one of those little gems — yet another print I’d like to see on my wall. Here’s why I love it.

Basically, the story is simple: a young girl asks an older man (husband?) to push her on a garden swing. Unbeknown to the old guy, she has a young man (lover?) who’s lying hidden behind a flower bush, and who gets to watch her at play. Obviously she knows he’s there, because she tosses her shoe into the air towards him.

Here’s the fun part: remember that in those days, women wore long dresses and full petticoats — but no underwear. So the motion of the swing is causing the girl’s dress to fly up in the air, giving our young voyeur a straight look up into Madame’s Garden of Delight — and the little minx knows it. In its day, this would have been quite a scandalous piece of art.

It’s one of those playful yet sly little works which make Rococo art so enjoyable.

Of course, such “frivolous” art disappeared under the stern gaze of the Enlightenment establishment, who wanted art to “send a message” about the “nobility of man” and suchlike nonsense. Ugh. From that came the Academy (a.k.a. Academic art), which produced easily the most boring art ever created by man. I refuse to put up a typical painting of the genre, because it would quite spoil the mood created by Fragonard.

Enjoy.

Selling Yourself

I remember talking once about prostitution on my old blog, and coming down hard against it:

I’m familiar with all the “rational” arguments in favor of prostitution: freeing the police, freeing up jail cells, monitoring the health of prostitutes, whatever. They all have to do with saving money, but they all suck compared to the damage that would be inflicted on our society through legalization.

As you can see, I used to be quite judgmental about this kind of thing, and I still don’t agree with prostitution per se, but as I’ve got older, I’ve become more tolerant about it, with a few caveats.

The problem is that there are in essence three kinds of prostitution: the age-old “selling yourself on the street kind” — i.e. to all comers [sic] — and the more formal transactions, whereby women contract for sex on a more formalized basis, or marry for money. In all cases, the motivation is the same: women are trading themselves to men for financial support, only the first kind is frowned upon by society, the second kind winked at, and the last is pretty much the glue whereby society is held together. (As my friend Patterson* once commented: “All women fuck for money if they’re going to be honest about it, but they seldom are.”)

And, of course, as with all things, there is a murky area between these two extremes: the “contracted” kind whereby young women (and it seems to be mostly the young ones, for obvious reasons) rent their bodies out to wealthy men in order to pay off college loans, or get through some other adverse financial circumstance — hence the popularity of websites like Sugardaddy. This is what I call a “part-time prostitute”, and the exchange is quite cynical — as are most transactions of this kind. But this is different from the “brief encounter” or street-corner type of prostitution, because older men (usually older, because younger men don’t have the financial wherewithal to pay a young woman thousands of dollars a month just for “companionship”) set up an ongoing financial support system, buying Little Miss Hotbody expensive clothing, jewellery, cars and even sometimes a condo. (Note that I’m not saying that this is better than the street-corner kind of prostitution, just that it’s different. The process is the same — women having sex for money — but the terms of congress, as it were, are dissimilar.) If I’m going to be really cynical about it, I’d call this kind of prostitution a “halfway house” between street-corner sex and marital sex.

Of course, wealthy men have always done this kind of thing, but in the modern world, where shame and social opprobrium seem to have disappeared, these transactions are now conducted quite openly. We can argue all day about the morality (or lack thereof) of such an action, but I have to tell you, there is absolutely no way of ever stopping it.

In fact, if I become a part-time Marxist for a moment (shuddup, let me finish), one might almost view this as a “class” issue. Poorer men, who can’t afford to be sugar daddies, go for the “brief encounter” kind of prostitute because that’s all they can afford, and the street-corner prostitutes, who most likely are not candidates for the attentions of the Sugardaddy Set, offer their services. Needless to say, this is the kind of activity which attracts the greatest attention from legislators and morality guardians (e.g. the church, back when anyone cared what that institution thought), which means of course that the police become involved. It’s easier to crack down on street prostitution because the transaction is out in the open.

Now imagine a Vice Squad trying to crack down on the women and men who use Sugardaddy.com to arrange their sexual / financial transactions, and I think we can all agree that their efforts would result in resounding failure. Take it a step further, and imagine a Vice Squad going after someone like the late Anna Nicole Smith marrying a septuagenarian billionaire — even though the transaction is precisely the same as both the other two kinds of prostitution — and the task is impossible, because at this end of the prostitution index, the transaction has become accepted by society and is even blessed by marriage vows. As with most things, the wealthier the people involved, the less law enforcement will be interested. [/Marxism]

We can argue all day about the morality of the activity of women selling their bodies for sex, and about the disappearance of public morality which allows Sugardaddy.com to exist, nay flourish, but this is where we find ourselves today, for better or for worse. As the modern idiom goes, it is what it is, and it seems like we pretty much have to live with it.

Fine. Let us at least acknowledge that street-corner prostitution presents a greater danger to women — slavery, forced prostitution, human trafficking, violence and murder — than does the Sugardaddy- and Anna Nicole-style prostitution. (We can leave class out of it because, as with most Marxist thought, that’s just an overlay of political theory on an age-old situation, and no class warfare is ever going to “solve” or end street-corner prostitution.) I do think, however, that in this regard there is a real need for law enforcement attention, simply because of the many dangers to which poorer women are exposed. Honestly, though, I think that the law should go after the management of the street-corner prostitution industry — that would be the pimps and procurers of women — rather than the actual participants (the women and their clients), because the former are the ones who generally cause real harm to the hapless women under their control. I’m not advocating State-run brothels because both the concept and likely execution are going to be foul.  (To put it in perspective: imagine a State-run restaurant, e.g. managed and staffed by the same kind of people at the average DMV office, and you’ll see why I think State-run whorehouses are a bad idea.) Nevertheless, they are the lesser evil than those managed by the (illegal) private sector, who as a rule do not have the interests of their employees at heart.

The solution, of course, is the free market: legalized brothels. Dennis Hof’s Moonlite Bunny Ranch (which is a legal business in Nevada) is not the norm in the current prostitution industry, but a statistical outlier. It and others like it may be “safe” establishments for both the prostitutes and their clients, but as a bookie might say, that ain’t the way to bet, in numerical terms. (I’m not suggesting that Hof be prosecuted for pimping, by the way: he runs a good business, everyone gets what they want, and nobody gets hurt. Would that all businesses were run that way.) What I am suggesting is that brothels should be legalized, but treated the same as (or perhaps even more strictly than) restaurants: licenses, frequent inspections, staff protection regulations, the whole enchilada.

Is there danger to the Sugarbabies and gold-diggers? Of course there is, but it’s orders of magnitude smaller than that to which street prostitutes are exposed. Law enforcement has no place in this area, and justifiably so. Is this “fair”? Of course not, but it’s not unfair because of the class of the participants; it’s a concern because of the dangers to those at the lower end of the scale. (Again with the ur-Marxism: the working classes are always exposed to danger in greater numbers and to a greater degree than the wealthy; but that’s not a class issue, it’s just a fact of life: oil riggers’ and Alaskan deep-sea fishermen’s lives are more at risk than those of doctors, architects or small-town bankers.)

Some time back, the prostitution topic was broached at Instapundit, and I made the following comment:

Maybe I’m just jaded, but I see little difference between anyone selling their talents to a willing group of buyers, and someone selling their bodies. If you can throw a baseball accurately at 105mph and end up playing professional baseball, how is that so different from a pretty woman selling her body and/or personality skills for an hourly fee? When I was a consultant, clients had access to my mind and business experience for $175/hour… so how is that different from prostitution? How is that different from a person who sells their time, attendance and skills to work in a corporation, for a monthly salary?
I know, this is about sex, and sex is SPECIAL. Sorry to say, but I don’t think that’s so true, anymore. Or maybe my advancing years have made me more cynical about the whole thing. But I see people like the Kardashian coven becoming fabulously wealthy by selling the intimate details of their lives to the public (via television), and I just don’t see the difference between Kim Kardashian and Air Force Amy [at the Bunny Ranch]. Actually, I find Amy less objectionable, come to think of it.
And yes, I know that prostitution is dangerous for the women — human trafficking being one danger, disease and violent death likewise. But it isn’t as dangerous at Dennis Hof’s places — certainly, the girls/women there seem to be okay — so maybe there’s a lesson there somewhere.
One thing I do know: no laws or police forces are ever going to stop the demand for contracted sex. So… [shrug]

By “contracted sex”, of course, I meant the Sugardaddy and gold-digger kind. I personally find both distasteful — I find all kinds of prostitution distasteful — but what the hell. It is what it is; and frankly, I have better things to worry about.

Finally, no article on this topic would be complete without a completely gratuitous pic of one of the participants. Here’s Amy:

I think she’s magnificent.


*Postscript: Longtime Readers of my scribblings know all about my friend Patterson. Newer Readers may not, so allow me please to post the original introduction to this splendid human being (and by the way, he is a real person and not my alter-ego).

Introducing Patterson
February 18, 2008
4:10 AM CDT

For the longest time, Patterson and I have been friends. He’s a little more politically-incorrect than I am, has (like me) been married three times, to (respectively, from oldest to youngest), Mavis, Agatha and Sheila. Unlike me, he has no sons, only four daughters. Perhaps because he is surrounded by women, he drinks a great deal more than I ever did. Last I heard, he was still married to Sheila, who is actually Agatha’s younger sister (his comment on this piece of frightfulness: “I’d do anything to avoid breaking in a new mother-in-law”). Luckily, he and Agatha had no children (the marriage lasted barely a year), so he’s been spared the “daughters as cousins” mess.
He has a first name, but everyone, even his wives, call him Patterson. He is as funny as the day is long, but with a hint of tragedy always lurking in the near background (and sometimes front and center, as you will learn).
Stories abound. Here’s a quick one.
Back in the day, if a refrigerator had a cold water dispenser in the door, it was not hooked up to a water pipe, but was fed by a reservoir inside the fridge. This meant that one would have to take the thing out and refill it periodically. It was a huge pain in the ass, except for Patterson. What he did was quite brilliant. (This was during one of his bachelor periods.)
He would fill the reservoir nearly to the top with spring water, and then top it off with Scotch: ergo, ice-cold Scotch & water, on tap.
Patterson is mostly drunk, and has absolutely no sense of shame or pride about the several embarrassing things which have happened to him over the years as a result of his many episodes of drunkenness and foolishness.
I am also ashamed to admit that over the years I have stolen from him many sayings and passed them off as my own. (One being: “Women have orgasms? Next you’ll be telling me they have the vote!”)
Anyway, I’ve always refrained from including him in the stories of my youth, because it would have required too much back-story and flashback. No more. Now that you’ve been introduced, he can take up his rightful place in the Pantheon of Heroes, and he will feature in many stories in the future.
He deserves no less.