Friday, June 17, 2005

Biblio-Odyssey

I swear, I treat books like other people treat drugs. One is just a gateway to the next. For example, late last night I finished reading this one: The Napoleon of Crime: The Life and Times of Adam Worth, Master Thief, by Ben Macintyre. "The model for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor Moriarty, Adam Worth (1844-1902) was one of the greatest thieves of the Victorian era. Macintyre's entertaining biography traces how the American-born German Jew became the "godfather" of his era."

It's very interesting, and part of it discusses Worth's relationship with the Pinkerton brothers. Lying in bed, I thought: huh, I sort of know who the Pinkertons were, but I don't know much about them. I wonder if there are any books about them.

Of course, it's 2am and I should really turn off the light and go to sleep. But that's the dangerous thing about shopping online. The stores never close. So I get out of bed - good thing Max is a heavy sleeper - and get online, and I quickly turned up this:

The Eye That Never Sleeps: A History of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, by Frank Morn.
Apparently the term "private eye" was coined in response to the Pinkerton's logo, an unblinking eye. Looks good to me, so credit card number and away we go.
But of course, I couldn't stop there. Amazon (damn them!) has those pesky links to other books on related topics, so when I saw this one, I had to click on it:

The Encyclopedia of Police Science, by William G. Bailey. 143 entries covering police duties and techniques, persons and organizations, police issues, crimes, etc. Definitions plus ample historical and conceptual background.

Mmmm, sort of interesting, but not quite my thing. But what's this?

Escapade, by Walter Satterthwait. Set in the 1920s, Satterthwait's novel mixes spiritualism with a locked-room murder mystery in a tale featuring Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and hero Phil Beaumont, a Pinkerton Operative.

A novel about fictional Pinkerton detectives? And spiritualism, too - another pet topic of mine. Hey, it's only a few bucks, why not.

Other related titles?

The War Between the Spies: A History of Espionage During the American Civil War, by Alan Axelrod.
According the publisher's blurb, the Pinkertons spied for the Yankees. Wow, I didn't know that. Still, I'm not a Civil War buff. Growing up in states where they were still flying that damn rebel flag over goverment buildings kinda ruined any romance about The War of Northern Aggression for me. Still, the history of spying does interest me. (Plus it's 2am and my resistance is down.) Open the page in a new window and put it aside as a maybe.
What else do we have?

Silent Warfare: Understanding the World of Intelligence, by Abram N. Shulsky, Gary J. Schmitt. "The author assesses the three means by which raw intelligence data are gathered--from human sources, by technical means and open-source collection--and describes missions, methods of analysis and practical applications of the 'product'."

Mmmnnn, looks a bit dry and academic - not quite my thing. (Although I wonder if MountainPilot would like it?) Although if it was five bucks or less, I'd probably say 'what the heck' and buy it. But it's not, so on to the next temptation.

The Man Who Would Be King: The First American in Afghanistan, by Ben Macintyre.
While many know Sean Connery as "The Man Who Would Be King," few know 19th-century maverick Josiah Harlan, whose adventures probably inspired John Huston's version of Kipling's tale.

Oooo, now we're talking. 19th century? That's a 'yes, please'. What else ya got, baby?

A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer: The Life of William Dampier
by Diana Preston, Michael Preston.
Seventeenth-century pirate genius William Dampier sailed around the world three times when crossing the Pacific was a major feat, was the first explorer to visit all five continents, and reached Australia eighty years before Captain Cook.

Griffin might like this. And I think I do, too, so into the basket with you, Captain Dampier. But who's this with you, Cap'n?

Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival, by Dean King.
Dean King refreshes the popular nineteenth-century narrative once read and admired by Henry David Thoreau, James Fenimore Cooper, and Abraham Lincoln. A page-turning blend of science, history, and classic adventure.

Oh, yeah, add that to the stack. And then get away from the damn computer before you buy anything else, Matisse!

It's a good thing that a book addiction is usually cheaper than a drug addiction – or at least, having one doesn't impact my ability to generate income. I'd hate to have to go around knocking elderly people in the head to get money for my book fix.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

You Say It's Your Birthday...

Ring ring!

Me: Hello?
Caller: Hi, is this Mistress Matisse?
Me: Yes it is.
Caller: I have a question: do you give birthday discounts?

Jesus, what am I, Denny's?

Me: Do I know you? Have you seen me before?
Caller: No...
Me: Ah. Well, no, I do not give birthday discounts. I do give birthday spankings, though.
Caller: Oh, well - I was just wondering. Because I'd really like to see you, but...

Okay, I think he's going to turn out to be a serious twit, but still, the Marketing Department is going to gather a little information here, because you never know.

Me: How much of a discount were you thinking about?
Caller: Oh, I don't know, half off?

Bbbbbbbzzzzzzzz! That, my friends, was the asshole-alert buzzer going off. Half off? This yabbo, who I've never clapped eyes on in my life, thinks I'm going see him for half my usual fee because (he says) it's his birthday? I wonder if he works for half his usual salary on his boss's birthday?

And I bet you a lollipop he wouldn't want to show me his ID, either.

Me: No, I think that's an unreasonable request. Ten percent would be the absolute most I'd be willing to grant to a new person.
Caller: So that would be fifty dollars off?

I'd love to be a server who waited on this guy.

Me: No, that would be twenty-five dollars.
Caller: Oh, I don't think I can swing that. Can you do any better for me?

Christ, now he thinks he's at a car lot.

Me: No, but I could do a great deal worse for you.
Caller: What?
Me: I can't help you. Sorry. Better luck elsewhere. Goodbye.
Click.

Gee, I forgot to wish him a happy birthday...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

What's happening in my world: well, Max went up to Bellingham to teach a rope bondage class last night, and he decided to take Maura along and stay overnight. And I had a very nice date with Roman, which involved: a pizza from Stellar's, a lot of stories about the LA trip, several condoms, and playing the new Nine Inch Nails album quite loudly. It's got a really good beat, if you know what I mean. We were both feeling pretty relaxed at the end of the evening.

So, no long post today. But here are some entertaining links...

An extremely amusing little video about the joys and travails of poly.

A sweet boy blogs about his scene with Max at Shibaricon.

I'm a word fetishist, and it bugs me when people - especially writers - use them incorrectly, even if it's slang. So I can appreciate this post by Trixtah.

I know it's a gag site. (As well as a clever marketing ploy, note the link that says "click here if you want to buy sex toys.") And yes, it is kinda funny. In a really icky sort of way.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Stare

I think of myself as being a pretty sophisticated person when it comes to, shall we say, the sexual dynamics of the human male. But sometimes you boys puzzle me.

Okay, here's what happening. I work out at the gym three times a week. (At least.) And there's a guy who works there, who I see about every time I go in, and I'm confused by the signals I'm getting from him. It's not what he says - he always does the "Hey, how are you? Have a good workout?" thing that all the employees do. That's perfectly fine.

But lately I've noticed: he stares at me. I mean, he really stares at me.

That's not completely inexplicable, although God knows I definitely don't look my best when I work out. If anyone knows a way I can run for five miles and look all fresh and pretty at the end of it, let me know. I have not discovered the trick of this. But hey, the guy works at a gym, maybe he's learned to eroticize red-faced girls who are streaming with sweat.

Now usually when I work out, Max is with me. Interestingly, although Max and I are very clearly a couple, this does not seem to faze Gym Guy at all. Granted, he does not stare as much when I'm walking by holding Max's hand. But neither has he ever displayed the "hey, she's cute – but, oh, she's taken" attitude.

So, several weeks go by, I see him staring at me whenever I'm there, and I just shrug it off, although it makes me ever-so-mildly uncomfortable. It's not that I feel threatened, not at all. It's just that when I'm working out, I don't want to think about what I look like. But when I see some guy looking at me that way, I am suddenly reminded that my hair is slick with sweat and I probably have mascara smudges under my eyes. It's distracting. One the reasons I love my gym is that many, many of the men who work out there are gay, and honey, those gym queens could care less about me. They are quite focused on a) themselves and b) other cute men. I prefer it that way.

Then one day last week, Max – who is a reluctant jock at best - plays hooky. So I was working out alone, and there was Gym Guy – staring.

And frankly, it was starting to get to me. Or rather, the fact that he just stared and did nothing else. It was confusing. Some days I'd tell myself, Matisse, you're making too much of it. Look at him, he's a dark-skinned guy, he may come from a culture with a longer social-looking time than here, and you're totally misinterpreting him.

I'd mentioned the matter to Max, who, after some observation, said "Yeah, I see what you mean. Do you think he knows you're Mistress Matisse?"

I shrugged. "It's possible." One the female employees had recognized me a few months ago and done the "hey-aren't-you…?" routine. She could have told other people, so who knows, maybe Gym Guy was just staring at me because I'm a dominatrix who writes about kinky things in the paper. I told myself there were all kinds of other ways to interpret The Stare.

But then I'd make eye contact with him and think: No. I am not misinterpreting this.

Which doesn't make him an evil guy, of course. In fact, I'm sure Gym Guy is perfectly nice, and he's not at all bad-looking. But I'm not interested. I feel like I've tried to waft off the "I'm not interested" vibe to him. However, some guys just don't pick up on cues, so you have to let them make the approach, and then politely turn them down.

So that day I thought to myself, Okay, let's just nip this in the bud. After I worked out, I showered and dried my hair and fixed my face, and generally returned myself to a reasonably presentable state. And then I went out into the lobby area and plunked myself down on one of the couches near the front desk. And I waited.

Look, here I am, all alone, no boyfriend, sitting here alone on the couch flipping through a magazine. Come hit on me so I can say no thank you, okay?

Ten minutes or so tick by. But did Gym Guy come over and talk to me? No. He did not.

Okay, clearly I had been misinterpreting him. Fine. I'll get over myself.

Back in the gym a few days later, and there he is. Staring. Later that evening, I was in the adjacent grocery store and I saw him there, and he saw me, and I swear to god, if he'd been a dog, he would have been pointing.

I'm completely perplexed, because if I was displaying the kind of behavior he's displaying, I'd be making a move on someone. All this heightened awareness with no follow-through confuses me. And it's getting on my nerves, because it's like waiting for the other shoe to drop. That sounds really bitchy – "oh, woe is me, I have to wait for this guy to hit on me so I can shoot him down". I don't mean it in a nasty way – but I spend six hours or so a week at the gym, and I just want to work out without having to deal with the energy. But at this point, I'm not sure what I can do except continue to ignore The Stare.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Wow, Micheal Jackson got off scot-free. I'm surprised.
Monday's Personal Ad of the Week…

(The usual disclaimer about how I'm not looking…)

I decided I'd point out a m/f couple this week - I do try to cover all the bases. Max and I have playfully discussed placing an ad ourselves a few times. I think it would be interesting just to see who we'd pull as anonymous people, rather than "Matisse and Max". But since we're not really in the market, it seems unfair.

Anyway, I found this ad right away on Lustlab. Guess why I liked it? Rope! (Yes, you do need more, cute girl, and you need to buy it from my other sweetie.)

And they're both switches, good for them. That doubles your chances of a date on Saturday night, you know. (Maybe quadruples, in this case.) Perhaps they'll hook up with one of the many rope sluts around town.

I looked through the ads from couples on Bondage.com, but a lot of them seemed to be looking for "the elusive Hot Bi Babe" – the extra-kinky version, too, which has got to be really tough to find. I was unimpressed.

Thankfully, I've got my own love-life well taken care of. Max and I had a sweet and relatively quiet weekend together, which was nice. We watched "The Last Samurai" which I deliberately had not seen when it came out. In some ways it's right up my alley, being a period film. But it had a lot of points against it in my head. I'm not a big Tom Cruise fan, for one thing. (And isn't he acting very strange lately? Hey, Tom, you might want to rethink your opposition to psychiatric drugs. Really.)

And I was slightly bothered by some liberties with what I understood to be the historical facts of the matter – the samurai were actually not all noble heros being ruthlessly oppressed. Actually, in feudal Japan, the samurai were usually the ones doing the oppressing, either at the behest of their employers or at their own whim.

Plus, the whole white-man-leading-the-noble-savages thing is just so Rudyard Kipling, you know?

But the real problem is that I hate sad movies. I get really annoyed when a film spends an hour and twenty minutes making you like someone - and then kills them. I've hated that ever since I saw Old Yeller when I was about eight years old. I just feel so damn manipulated, because it's not real, it's just a movie, for christ's sake. And yet, there I was, watching the scene where Katsumoto commits hari-kari on the battlefield, weeping. Gah! I hate that. Manufactured sadness I don't need, thank you. So, I liked parts of it, but on the whole, movies that make me cry are bad.

We did go and do a shoot with our pal James Mogul on Sunday, which was fun. He does interesting things with light and he uses creative angles and poses. And God, he gets good skin tones. Anyone who shoots people will tell you that skin tones can be a bitch to render well. James modestly attributes it to shooting with a Canon camera, and if that's even partly true, then damn, I regret investing in Nikon gear. But I think it's also his skill, which I fortunately have access to.

Roman was in LA all weekend at an erotica expo there, so I'm sure he'll have lots of stories to tell you about that. The JT's Stockroom folks invited him down and he says they took great care of him. They're good people, and they seem like they really care about the community of people who buy from them, which is refreshing.

I think that's enough chatter for today….