Stan’s Obligatory Blog


Susie Bright!

Filed under: — stan @ 11:31 pm

Susie Bright was doing a reading and book signing at my favorite book store, Book Soup. So Kathleen and I met up in NoHo and headed over the hill to go see her. We planned on getting there early, since I know from experience that they don’t have many seats at these things. As luck would have it, right after we got there my friend Nina Hartley showed up, so we staked out seats for ourselves and for Nina and her husband, Ira, also known as Ernest Greene.

Susie read a bit from her book, and she talked some about what went in to writing it. She also answered a lot of questions from the audience. In the process, we even got to meet Ali Davis, who wrote the hilarious book True Porn Clerk Stories.

At the end, we waited in line to meet Susie, which gave me a chance to talk with Ernest some more. We both like to collect Cold War memorabilia, and Kathleen and I had just been to the Nuclear Testing Museum in Las Vegas last month.

All in all, it was a very fun evening.


Saturday Night Weird

Filed under: — stan @ 11:58 pm

On Saturday night, Shari and I went over to Hollywood. The occasion was a party and book signing at Antebellum Gallery for my friend Elayne’s new book, The Piercing Bible. I’ve known Elayne for more than 20 years now, and seeing her is always a treat.

The art on display at the gallery was an odd mix of old Bettie Page bondage pictures, clown paintings, and photos of amputees. And the crowd that turned out was equally entertaining. I saw a number of people who I hadn’t seen in many years. I also got to introduce Shari to my friends Nina Hartley and Ernest Greene. That was some fun.

It was a very fun evening. And as a piece of trivia: I’ve known Elayne since 1987, but she’s never actually stuck a needle through me. The one time I had an appointment to get pierced by her, she called in sick and so Jim Ward did it instead.


Opening up at Book Soup

Filed under: — stan @ 10:45 pm

This evening, we had another ‘in the city’ adventure. I rode the train in from Pasadena to meet Susan at her office. Then we headed up to West Hollywood. We had a nice dinner at the French Market Place, and then we went to my favorite book store: Book Soup.

The occasion was a talk and book signing by Tristan Taormino about her new book Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships. Now, this isn’t actually a topic that either of us is particularly personally interested in, but we thought it could still be fun. I have a friend who knows Tristan, and I’d heard that she’s an interesting and entertaining person. Besides, the skills that an open relationship requires are good to have for any relationship. So we thought that this would make a nice little weeknight adventure.

Tristan read a few excerpts from the book, and she also spoke and took questions from the audience. She also made a point to mention that a fair number of porn stars were there. I gather that quite a few of them are friends of hers. Also, anyone in that business pretty much has to practice open relationships in their personal life. So it seems it would be a topic of interest to them. She even took a question from the legendary Georgina Spelvin.

I had to run outside to feed the parking meter at one point, and on my way out, I noticed Adrianna Nicole there. So I stopped to talk to her when I got back. I’d met her two years ago at the “O” party in Hollywood. We chatted a bit, and I introduced her to Susan.

Lastly, we went to the back of the store, where Tristan was greeting everyone and signing books. We got our book signed, as well as the other book of hers that I’d brought from home. And with the book, we got a free little bottle of lube. What’s not to like about a book tour that’s sponsored by Astroglide?

Overall, it was a fun little adventure, marred only by one sudden “D’oh!” when I was on the train to L.A. and realized that I’d forgotten to bring my camera.



Filed under: — stan @ 9:45 pm

I just finished reading Eat This Book: A Year of Gorging and Glory on the Competitive Eating Circuit. This is one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time. A lot of the characters in it could have stepped out of a John Waters movie, but they are all real people. And of course there is vomit. Not a lot of vomit, but some. ‘Reversal of fortune’, or ‘urges contrary to swallowing’, as they call it.

There’s also a lot of talk about different strategies and techniques of speed-eating, and the author even tries is a little towards the end. His descriptions of how it felt during and especially after a contest are a thing of beauty.

Anyway, if you’re like me and think this sort of thing is funny, this is a must-read.


Astro Turf

Filed under: — stan @ 10:54 pm

This evening, I went over to Hollywood to the Center for Inquiry to join in their monthly Skeptic’s Book Club. I’d heard about this when Jodi mentioned it last month. This month’s book was Astro Turf. I’d read this book last year and really enjoyed it. So when I heard that M.G. Lord was going to be at the meeting tonight, I figured it was worth the trip.

The group was very pleasant. We got to ask M.G. questions about the book and about the process of researching and writing it. And M.G. signed my copy, and was even nice enough to sit for a souvenir picture. It was a very fun evening.



Filed under: — stan @ 6:40 pm

I got a new book yesterday. The Rejection Collection: Cartoons You Never Saw, and Never Will See, in the New Yorker. It’s a collection of cartoons by regular New Yorker cartoonists, but they are all cartoons that were rejected for one reason or another.

They range from Politically Incorrect to just plain Bad Taste, and many of them are utterly hilarious. It’s sort of a peek into what the New Yorker would be like in Bizarro World.

I like this book a lot.



Filed under: — stan @ 7:39 pm

I recently read The End of Faith by Sam Harris. This is his 200-mumble-page rant about religion and why it’s the root of all evil in the world.

I think he made some good points. For instance, he said that the core beliefs of a lot of the world’s major religions are actually pretty absurd. If one person believed them and was ranting about it on a street corner, we’d think he was crazy. But because millions of people believe it, we think it’s normal.

Personally, I don’t get worked up about religion. I was raised without it. Like I always say, religion and football were the same in my house. They were both thing that other people did on Sundays. When I see people going to church I tend to think, “look at the natives and their quaint rituals”.

Some choice bits from the book:

How many hours of human labor will be devoured , today, by an imaginary God? Think of it: if a computer virus shuts down a nation’s phone system for firve minutes, the loss in human productivity is measured in billions of dollars. Religious faith has crashed our lines daily, for millenia.

Surely there must come a time when we will acknowledge the obvious: theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings.

Quoting Christopher Hitchens: “what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence”

Faith is like a rhinoceros, in fact: it won’t do much in the way of real work for you, and yet at close quarters it will make spectacular claims upon your attention.

Overall, this was a pretty entertaining book. But I don’t think that it’s ultimately going to make any difference in the world.


Some more books

Filed under: — stan @ 10:45 pm

I recently finished two new books:

Why We Buy by Paco Underhill
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Why We Buy is a very interesting and entertaining book about the science of retail marketing. Mr. Underhill and his team have spent countless hours observing shoppers in stores to see what factors go into getting people to buy stuff. After reading this, you’ll never look at a store the same way again. He also wrote The Call of the Mall, which I read last year and enjoyed tremendously.

Fun Home is Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir. It’s the story of her growing up in a small town in central Pennsylvania and her weird family. She does a comic strip called “Dykes to Watch Out For“, and the book is all her drawings, but illustrating her childhood. It’s the sort of story that will have you alternately laughing and weeping.

Both of these books were very good, and I recommend them highly.


Oil: Or we’re all gonna die!!!

Filed under: — stan @ 5:57 pm

I just finished reading two books about oil and why we’re about to start running out of it. And actually, neither of these books is of the alarmist bent that says that civilization will collapse when we pass the peak of world oil production. But they make the case that things are going to be difficult, and that day is most likely upon us now.

Twilight in the Desert is Matthew Simmons‘ magnum opus about Saudi Arabia and its super-giant oil fields. They are apparently the largest ever found, and even now they provide some huge percentage of the world’s supply. And the end is drawing near for them. Most oil fields are most productive for 20-30 years, and then they start to taper off. The big Saudi fields have been going for fifty years, and they are showing signs that they are past their prime. And more troubling is that in most cases, when the natural pressure of the field is depleted, they can inject water into it to get the oil flowing again. But the Saudis have been doing this since the 1960s, so they are already doing secondary recovery on their fields. So when they do start to decline, there is less that can be done to try and squeeze out more oil. There is an article available on the web that contains a short version of the information in this book.

Beyond Oil is Kenneth Deffeyes’ companion to his book from 2001, Hubbert’s Peak. In the first book, he told us why the peak of the oil age is imminent, and in this one he refines his prediction to say that the worldwide peak of oil production would be in December, 2005. The rest of the book examines what can be done about that in terms of alternate sources of energy. He’s fairly optimistic in that there are things we can make from coal that will take the place of oil for most applications. But environmentalists will probably shit when they see how dirty that’s going to be.

So no, civilization is probably not going to collapse or even grind to a halt. But it’s going to get dirtier and more expensive. As for me, I just got a new tire for my bicycle, so I’m set for commuting for another five years.


My 2005 Reading List

Filed under: — stan @ 1:30 pm

I thought it might be interesting to make a note of the books I read this year. I’ve found some interesting books by seeing them mentioned on other people’s blogs, so I thought I’d just stick my little book list in a virtual bottle just in case anyone else might enjoy one of these.

The Annals of the Former World by John McPhee. This is his magnum opus about the geologic history of North America. It’s composed of five books, two of which I’d read before. While the subject sounds dry, it’s really quite entertaining. The stuff about conodonts was quite interesting, and the story of how California came to be was also very good. But that’s just because John McPhee is a very good writer.

Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants by Jill Soloway. It’s her memoir about growing up, chock full of funny stories and little rants. And reading it was great fun.

How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale by Jenna Jameson. Her story about how she became the well-known porn star. It’s kind of sad at times, and hilariously funny at times.

Lights, Camera, Sex! by Christy Canyon. This is another ‘how I got into porn’ story. I met Christy once, and she was quite charming and funny in person. And her book is the same way. It was tremendously entertaining.

Collapse by Jared Diamond. An examination of history and the reasons why societies collapse. Part historical tome and part cautionary tale for the present, it’s quite readable.

Conduct Unbecoming by Randy Shilts. The full history of gays in the military, told in minute detail.

Stiff by Mary Roach. All about uses for human cadavers in research and education. Tremendously funny, although that might not be immediately apparent from the subject material.

Astro Turf by M.G. Lord. A history of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, but from a viewpoint of examining its male-dominated culture and the women who now inhabit it.

Finding Fault in California by Sue Hough. I work with Sue, and her book is intended as a tourist’s guide to seeing the scarps, hills, and sag ponds formed by fault movements around California. I’ve found that going to see them makes for some nice little bike trips.

The Bone Woman by Clea Koff. This is a personal memoir of a forensic anthropologist who worked exhuming the mass graves of genocide victims in Rwanda and Kosovo. Well-written, but it’s ultimately a grim story.

Candy Freak by Steve Almond. A somewhat personal story about the history of candy in the United States, and in particular about the few remaining independent candy companies still in business. Tremendously funny.

Bare by Elisabeth Eaves. This is her memoir about being a stripper at a peep show in Seattle. Full of interesting stories and some introspective talk about why she felt drawn to stripping. Very entertaining.

And one re-read of note:

The Control of Nature by John McPhee. Three stories about how man tries to control natural forces. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I had go back and read the section about the Army Corps of Engineers and their attempts at controlling the Mississippi River.


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