Wednesday, February 28, 2007

This morning I woke up late due to my alarm not going off due to my not setting it, so I had to rush out the door without my usual hearty breakfast of Kahlua and Grape Nuts. Luckily I was able to prepare a delicious morning snack of congealed bacon grease on a saltine before I left. This is all I seem to need nutritionally during the day, at least when combined with the proper supplements.

Thus when I arrived at the redundantly-named Nina's Coffee Cafe I felt ready to take on the world. At least I felt that way after my first couple cups of coffee which I secretly fortified with Kahlua and the emergency scotch I carry in the trunk of my car (the supplements I mentioned earlier).

"Aargh! What piece o' the world should we take on today, Hulles me boy?" I arsked meself. As you can see, I was feeling piratical, which I think resulted from my pillaging and looting a gaggle of cute and initially quite naïve young Hulles blog groupies that had flocked to my bed the night before. I even swung a couple from the yardarm, which at my age is no small feat. "Yargh," says I.

The piece of the world that I choose to talk about today is emoticons, switching tenses because it's now, now. Arrrg.

I have never used emoticons, which if you're from Planet WhatThe... are the things at the end of sentences that people create using punctuation to indicate little faces of some sort. One of the reasons I don't use emoticons is that you have to tilt your laptop on its side to read them. By the way, this is also why I don't read my emails on my desktop computer with the 19" monitor at home.

Another reason I don't ever use emoticons is because I grew up in the 70's. The 70's were when the Smiley Face was invented, presumably as part of a fiendish plot by the Symbionese Liberation Army to subvert the American public and turn them into sex zombies or something. It almost worked too, I'm here to report. Anyway, in those days round yellow discs with happy little grins on them were everywhere. Back then if you stood on a pedestrian overpass that surmounted a busy freeway and urinated off the side (assuming you are a guy), you would piss on about 500 Smiley Faces attached to various places on the cars whizzing by (so to speak). You would also piss on a few Unsmiley Faces on people in convertibles, but hey, they knew the risk when they put the top down. Also, the "500 Smiley Faces" assumes that you'd been drinking cheap American beer for some hours beforehand and were capable of maintaining a steady stream; this was usually the case with me whenever I tried this experiment. However, if you'd only been drinking milk e.g. you'd probably only get about 200 Smiley Faces, maybe 300 max. Of course if you'd only been drinking milk you would remember to start off with your back to the wind as well, so there you go, it's a tradeoff.

So what I'm saying is that Smiley Faces were everywhere, and I became thoroughly sick of them after the first couple of years. By the end of the 70's I would fly into a berserk rage at the sight of one. This led to a couple of unfortunate incidents in shopping malls where I would see a baby cooing and gurgling in his stroller and chuck him over the third floor railing. Therapy and medication have gone far to alleviate this condition, I'm happy to say, so no worries on Thursday if you bring your kids to the Hulles Late Happy Hour. Besides, W. A. Frost doesn't have an upstairs so you're good on that score as well.

Anyway, as a result of the above trauma I don't use emoticons, not even "Lick," the only one which tempts me. But you should feel free to use them yourself; don't let my prejudices stand in your way.

One of the ways I've noticed that emoticons are useful is to explain that the content of the sentence as written doesn't necessarily reflect the intent of the writer. This is called prevarication. For instance, when I read "Hulles, you suck and if there was any justice in this world you'd be encased in concrete next to Hoffa in the Meadowlands," I become somewhat nonplussed. If, however, there's a little grin emoticon at the end of the sentence I say to myself, "Hunh. They must be kidding then. Isn't that cute? How could I possibly take offense after seeing that adorable little gizmo they stuck on there?" This after tipping my laptop onto its side, of course.

Perhaps a better way (to me) of accomplishing the same end as using emoticons is to place little stage directions within asterisks, like this *grin*. I almost never use these either but I like them better. For one thing, I can read them at home on my desktop. For another thing, they add drama to writing when used with taste and discretion. To illustrate, I think that the following sentence conveys the proper emotion better with the asterisk-phrase than without: "*snorts derisively* Hulles, I wouldn't sleep with you if you were the last man on erf!"

Different people use different asterisk-phrases, however, and sometimes it's not entirely clear what the person means if you're encountering the phrase for the first time. For example,Terri Schaefer often uses '*g*'. Since I'm not a complete idiot I think the odds are good that this means *grin*, but I'm not positive. If I used it, it might well stand for a puzzled *guh?*, something that occurs in my world much more frequently than grinning. Terri did explain to me that in the USAF they weren't allowed to use images in emails so they went to the abbreviated asterisk-phrase as an alternative and the habit lingered on. And by the way, she *g*'s a lot when she writes which I find quite endearing, as long as it means *grin* and not something like *go fuck yourself*.

However, since I am nothing if not curmudgeonesque I would propose a change in usage for these asterisk-phrases, and that's to have them appear in writing as they do in nature. That is, the phrases should show up in a sentence at the time they occur, not where it's convenient to stick them.

Here's an example: when I broke up with a recent girlfriend the legacy she left me was a case of crotch crickets and a nasty tic in my left eye *tic*. So if what I'm *tic* saying were to become general *tic* usage, these little asterisk*tic*-phrases would be appearing *tic* all over the place. Fortunately the tic went away when I was blinded by the intellect and integrity of the next woman I dated *sneer*.

The Hulles Asterisk-Phrase Natural Occurrence Principle (no, no acronym, I'm not going to say it again so I don't need one) has *fart* lots of possibilities, however. I would dearly dearly love to receive an email similar to this:

Dearest Hulles:

I am an avid fan of your *orgasm* blog, and whenever I read what *orgasm* you write, I find myself trembling *orgasm* with...

Of course I would immediately know it was from a woman, even before reading the signature. A guy would write one sentence with an *orgasm* in it and stop in the middle of the sentence and send the email and go on about his business.

So you see, even I can admit that emoticons and their Republican cousins the asterisk-phrases can be useful. I simply choose not to use them when I write as a matter of style. I usually take the little bit of extra time and try to indicate what's going on using standard English: "'Dammit, I dropped the toothpaste!' Tom said crestfallenly." It just seems to me that for some *belch* reason people enjoy my writing more when *fart* I don't use emoticons and asterisk-phrases. I'm not sure why that *fartfartfartfartfarrrrrrrt* is, but I think I'll just stick to good old-fashioned English and let you all go nuts with the fancy new stuff.

-- Hull*fart*es

P.S. On a related topic: just for once I'd like to have a complete set of comments for a Hulles blog entry where nobody says "lol." I don't care if there are Lots Of Lesbians, I like lesbians just fine and I don't see what the big deal is that everyone should always bring that up. Get with the 90's, people.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A few of us from around these parts are getting together for an adult beverage at W. A. Frost at 8PM this Thursday. I know it's short notice but we would love to have you stop by. I'm the guy who looks like a stalker wearing a baseball cap.

W.A. Frost is in Saint Paul, MN, USA. Email me if you are coming and want directions at the address in my blog bio.

If you're coming from out-of-town, say Brazil, I have room to put you up at my place.

So far there are four of us, three of whom comment on this blog and one of whom writes it.

I would love to see you there.

-- Hulles

Monday, February 26, 2007

This is a follow-up to my post Asymptote Of Vindication. If you recall, we last left our hero -- me -- slightly chagrined that his entire liberal arts education in general and college Latin studies in particular had not been vindicated by a young lass he had encountered in a local pub. After finding out said lass was studying Catullus, an obscure Latin poet (which is to say a Latin poet), said hero was able to proudly declaim a couple lines of a love poem written by this very Catullus guy in Latin, fully expecting the astounded lass to leap upon his waiting frame and be carried off to ecstasy. Unfortunately this did not happen, but the consolation prize for her was to be the hero giving the lass a cherished Catullus book as a present the following day.

Unfortunately, this also did not happen, and your hero who is tired of referring to himself in the third person was stood up. And nonplussed in the process.

Whew. So now you're up to speed.

All this is background for an update: I ran into the very same comely young lass -- did I mention she was comely? she was -- in the same public house a couple of nights ago while meeting a couple of squirrelly young lovers. Molly is her name by the way, and she also works the NY Times Crossword for giggles; Hullesfodder if ever you saw it/some/her/whatever. Good lord, I hope I get through this post; even I'm all tangled up at this point.

Anyway, Molly came up to me at the bar and chatted for a bit and apologized for standing me up. She explained that her grandmother had been ill and needed her, and she felt badly for blowing me off but she had no way to get in touch with me to let me know she couldn't make it.

I know what you're thinking, but it's all true. I hadn't given her my phone number, which makes her the only woman in Saint Paul that doesn't have three or four of my business cards scattered about her house, all of them virginal and pristine and unused. And she was obviously being sincere about her grandmother's illness. Who lies about their grandmother? Not me, not you, and most assuredly not her, bless her heart.

The thing is, she was so damn sweet about everything. She was visibly distressed that she had blown me off, even though she had a perfectly good reason for doing so. In fact, she looked so chagrined about the whole affair that I found myself trying to reassure her that everything was okay (it was) and that she had no other recourse available to her at the time (she didn't) and that everything is just fine between us (it is) and that I hold no grudge whatsoever (I don't) and why am I getting trapped in these bizarre sentence structures? Help me, someone, please help me.

After chatting with me for a bit, Molly left to do some things but said that she'd come back to talk again before she left. "Sure you will," I thought uncharitably, but damn me if she didn't come back after a short while and plop down next to me at the bar. We talked a little bit more and she seemed even sweeter to me than she did earlier, if that's possible. Not the cloying sweet, but the angelic sweet; big difference. I was spell-caught in spite of myself.

As she rose to leave, she leaned over and gave me a kiss on the cheek then left.

Blink. [This is the very same blink I did when she said she was reading Catullus, if you want to go back and check.]

Now those of you who have read me for a while know that I'm not very shy about physical affection: "sex 'em down early and sex 'em down often and avoid transporting 'em across state lines" is generally the ethos by which I live my life. But in this case I was actually blissed out by a kiss on the cheek. In fact, it's not too much to say that I was stunned. A good stunned, like when you find out you've won the big Powerball lottery, not a bad stunned, like when your ex-wife tasers you because your alimony check bounced.

I retained the glow I had from the Molly encounter and kiss for the rest of the evening, and must confess that even writing about it now a little of that glow comes back, sort of like drifting golden threads. A kiss on the cheek is such a small thing, but it can sure make a big difference in the kind of day you're having. Remember that prior to Molly's arrival I had been in the company of squirrely young lovers, and there's nothing like SYLs to remind you that your own life is a dismal hell of loneliness and sorrow and empty refried bean cans and taser burns.

So that's it -- I just had to tell you the happy ending to the Molly story. Or maybe it's not the ending after all: she mentioned that she'd still like to get together and talk about Catullus and other stuff sometime.

I hope she lets me know early enough in advance so I can rent a U-Haul to carry all the books I'm going to give to her.

-- Hulles

[Comments are disabled for this post because I don't want your nasty drool all over my blog. -- The Management]

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Kristen Painter.

-- Hulles

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Lately I've been thinking about how I'm always saying I'm madly in love with this woman or that woman. The reason I'm thinking about it is that recently I said that I'm madly in love with a couple of new possibly-real people in this web log and I'm sort of curious what they think of this. For one thing, it isn't certain that they know the back story.

I started using the expression in the earliest days of writing this blog. This is because I actually say this a lot in conversation: "I met a woman yesterday named Suzanne and I fell madly in love with her." I think the reason I started using the expression at all is because a) it's always true, and b) I think it sounds funny for a guy (me) to actually say those words. Us hirsute and gruff manly-type units often get stereotyped as being unable to express our feelings, particularly using the "L" word. Because of this gender profiling I think I started out saying that I'm "madly in love" with lots of people just to be perverse. Plus it's always true.

As I write this, however, I just realized I'm the only adult male I've ever heard actually use these words in a casual conversation with someone else. I don't think I know of any other guy who ever says "I'm in love with so-and-so," joking or not. Maybe we really are unable to express our feelings with the "L" word. Hunh. Guess I'll have to think about that some more. Well, I already strongly suspected that I'm not a typical guy so no surprise there at least.

At any rate I started out this blog using the phrase "madly in love" in bold type -- Margo Timmins was the first I believe -- and have been using it ad nauseam ever since -- and it's always true. As I said long ago by way of explanation, "falling madly in love is something I do about every twenty minutes when I’m out in public and not at the YMCA." This has become a Hulles blog tradition that I've come to cherish. In the good old Mythos I started a section for women I'm not madly in love with and so far Jennifer Garner is the only inmate of Cell Block Not.

So that's the back story. But, for example, LaCosta (Lollie) doesn't necessarily know this, so what is she to think when she sees me say (in bold type!) that I'm madly in love with her? Probably something like this:

Oh my God, what is this guy saying about me now? He just wrote that he's madly in love with me in front of God and everybody, everybody being maybe three or eight other people besides me. What the fuck? For one thing he's a creepy old white guy and I wouldn't have anything to do with him if he was the last man on erf. For another thing, even if he is actually madly in love with me, the jerk, why would he say it smack dab in the middle of a blog post? Next time I see cK I'm going to beat the snot out of him for letting Hulles follow my back trail to my home page. And if I ever meet Hulles in person I'm going to ram a pointe shoe so far up his ass that he can taste for himself whether or not there's wood in the toe.

Or something like that. I get the feeling Lollie doesn't take much shit from anybody, which is one of the reasons I like her so much.

Perhaps you noticed earlier that I kept insisting that when I say I'm madly in love with someone it's always true. You should have noticed, that's why I kept italicizing it. Well, it is always true, dammit. However, being "madly in love" has traditionally implied that you could only attain this state with one person at time, and I've said that about 3,283 women so far in this blog, so what's up? Glad you asked. I suppose I'm being sort of poetic when I say that I'm madly in love with someone here. What I probably actually mean is that, were I to hang around the woman I'm speaking of for any length of time, I really would fall madly in love with her and only her and change the oil in her car for the rest of the days of our lives. This is because it's my nature is to wear my heart on my sleeve, as they say. Actually, the way I like to put it is that "I wear my heart on the sleeve that I sneeze into."

But enough penetrating and unflinching self-analysis. In the course of thinking about all this, I came up with the idea of actually ranking the women I am madly in love with, from the top (someone I would immediately have babies with before even letting her get the words "Who the hell are you?" out of her mouth) to the bottom (someone I admire from afar, possibly even fantasize about, but wouldn't actually want to talk to if she was the last woman on erf). Wouldn't a numbered list be a good idea? I could have whats-his-name's class at Wellesley go through all my blog posts and make a list of such women, then I could sit down and rank them.

Of course it's not a good idea. One advantage to being the world's oldest adolescent is that I'm finally starting to learn about women. It's not so much that I understand them, mind you, but more and more I'm able to predict their behavior in a given situation, no small feat as any man will tell you. And I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that an ordered list of women I'm madly in love with is a really bad idea.

If you happen to be a woman and you created a list of men that you desired and I found myself ranked, say 11th, my reaction would be "Hunh, she's delirious, I should be El Numero Uno, but that's a woman for you, probably fried her brain taking too many Cosmo love-compatibility quizzes, what are you gonna do?" then go flirt with a twenty-year-old barista with big hooters to make myself feel better. Or just get shitfaced with a Mexican Windbreaker and blow the whole thing off, so to speak.

But a woman? I know for a fact that if you're a woman and you see me write in this blog that I'm madly in love with so-and-so, some part of you thinks to yourself, "Bee-yotch! I can't believe Hulles could write that about that skanky hoe so-and-so. I feel slimy all over just being in the same solar system as her." The weird thing is that this is true even if you wouldn't have anything to do with me if I was the last man on erf! It's about competition I suppose. I have female friends I've known for fifteen years who would rather be disemboweled with a wooden spoon than get down with yours truly, but just let me say in their presence that I'm meeting, say, a steamy young esthetician named Jen for coffee, and all of a sudden it's "That tramp! She's no good for you at all. She's only after you for your money, or would be if you had any money. Who's Jen?"

So if I made a list of women with whom I was madly in love and ordered it by most MIL to least MIL, imagine the vitriol, even if absolutely no one on the list really wanted to be there. The only person who wouldn't be muttering and stropping the edges of her razor-sharp nail file would be whoever was number one on the list, and she'd be all worried that I was going to actually pursue her or something: "Eeugh! Yay, I'm number one, but eeugh!" All the rest of the listees would be snapping viciously at the ankles of the ones ranked above them and cruelly taunting the ones below them. And every woman jane of them would be pissed at me. I'd have to start reading the spam and deleting the emails from real people, the reaction would be so violent. "Man Found Stabbed To Death By 3,283 Nail Files; Police Seek Really Pissed Manicurist."

And the women who weren't on the list? Yikes. They'd be lurking outside my blog, and when anyone came by to read it they'd stop them and say, "Hey, you don't really want to go in there. The guy's an alcoholic level-3 sex offender and barking mad besides, and if you have a border collie you might think about keeping it indoors from now on if you know what I mean." Hell hath no fury as a woman unlisted. Even my own grandmother would be slightly pissed that she wasn't on the list and she's been dead for several months now.

So no, I'm not going to make a list of the women that I've said I was madly in love with in this blog, and even if I did I most certainly would not order it. Besides, I'm madly in love with all of them (you) equally -- that is to say, utterly and completely -- so ranking the the list makes no sense at all. Thus you women can all breathe a collective "Eeugh!" and go back to thinking about window treatments or whatever it is that you do when you're not reading the Hulles daily drivel.

And if you're a man, you're probably thinking, "Holy shit! Is that agile footwork or what? I can't believe he said all that stuff about women and came out smelling like a rose. I thought for sure he was gonna get killed off by Lollie before he was done with the fifth paragraph!" Well, guys, remember that I'm a trained professional in this field and a pretty decent sprinter besides. Please don't attempt this sort of thing at home. If you absolutely must try it out for yourself because you're making your own Jackass movie and have already rented the dwarves, remember to hide or destroy your girlfriend's manicure set first. "Police Baffled By Yet Another In Series Of Nail File Murders; Governor Orders Salons Closed Across The State."

-- Hulles

Friday, February 23, 2007

thing 1: Since some of you are so fascinated with my hot young friend Jen, you can see her in an episode of Chasing Windmills called "Random Events" if you are so inclined. She's Sofia (?), who may or may not be imaginary. And she is much more engaging in person than on film if you wonder.

This way I can also pimp Chasing Windmills yet again, which I would make mandatory viewing for everyone if I could (at least one episode anyway). CW is a serialized story; short episodes in this story appear almost daily and there are several threads going on as we speak. Part of Jen's and my conversation the other night was about how amazing it is that Cristina and Jadelr can keep producing such brilliant work day in and day out all by themselves. And if you wonder, my character the stalker is apparently still in the lawyer's office flirting with the attractive receptionist and has been for a couple weeks now. Hopefully he'll get laid soon. In other words I haven't appeared in any episodes for some time (that I'm aware of anyway). This is fine because I'm still trying to shake the stalker stigma from the first time. If they ever have me on CW again I'm going to blackmail Cristina into casting me as the sex dog I am. But knowing Jadelr it will end up being an Andalusian sex dog. (If you understand that allusion you get 5 Hulles Obscure Yet Satisfying Reference-Getting Stars and the use of a special reserved parking stall at the Hulles blog for a month.) (And P. S. Cristina is my kid if you're new to these parts and she totally rocks besides being very good at what she does.)

thing 2
: My friend LaCosta (Lollie) has posted a very interesting and articulate post cleverly called "D'Answers" (which I just noticed) that is sort of a response to my ballet posts recently. If you had any interest in what I talked about (or thought my shit sucked and would like to know the real scoop about dance) then pop on over. It is an extremely well-written piece (except where she calls me "a utter fathead when it comes to dance" and "an abysmally ignorant and insufferable ass who should never be allowed to blog, how do I contact the proper authorities?") (although when she says it it has sort of a nice ring, I have to admit). She even changed her bloomers for the occasion, so stop on by and say hi and learn more about the world of dance. Oh yeah, forgot to mention, she's a former principal dancer with the Oakland Ballet. Guess who's madly in love with her.

thing 3: The observant among you will notice that there is another post under this one called Trophy Mantle. This is just a place where I can store some nice things that people have said about me, or more precisely, about my writing. As I say in Mantle, I intend to visit it often (from the link off my blog page) for support when I need it. It actually has other uses as well. I want a place where I can send would-be buyers of my stuff to make them feel like they're not stupid dorks for liking my stuff; other people besides them have said they do too. This is important so that the would-be buyer doesn't have to fear that his other buddies will make fun of him on the golf course for being the only one who would ever think Hulles was the least bit funny and what was he thinking paying good money for that tripe, was he high at the time? I want that good money, you see. Need it would be a better description, but that's a subject for a blog I no longer write.

thing 4: Kristen Painter was nice enough to leave what I thought was a hilariously funny comment on Distant Thunder, one that I will clutch to my manly bosom and cherish forever: "You make me laugh. Afterwards, I feel sort of dirty, but I'm learning to deal." I love that, and immediately added the comment to Trophy Mantle which in turn prompted me to post it, see thing 3 above. However, her reward for this gift is that I am about to tease her unmercifully. No good deed goes unpunished, as a wise man once said.

Because damn, when her little picture shows up in my comments it makes me want to take a quick shower, spritz on some Bulgari cologne, don a natty silk tie, and say "Why hello, Ms. Painter, how nice of you to drop by! Perhaps you'd care to step outside and partake of some evening air." Even if it's noon I think this. I'm incorrigible. (I know, I know, she's probably another 400-pound truck driver that lives in Jersey next door to Casti. They probably go cow-tipping together, or whatever it is large male truck drivers do for giggles in New Jersey.) (And Donna Natti silk tie? Ms. Lauth, are you listening?) (Okay, I'm done with the parenthetical comments.) (For now.)


There were to be more small things but just keeping track of the volley of comments today has proven to be a time-consuming task in and of itself. One that I enjoy immensely I might add. But out of time, so sayonara and have a good weekend. Maybe I'll see you around.

-- Hulles

[Comments have been disabled for this post. -- The Management]

This page is really a metaphoric mantle upon which I can display my trophies. People actually wrote these nice things without my asking them to. I intend to come back to this page whenever I need to remind myself why I write this web log.

I recently learned that this sort of thing is sometimes called BSP, for "blatant self-promotion." I've tried to make it slightly less blatant by not including this on my blog page per se.

Thank you so much, you who said these things.

-- Hulles

...a shining example of irreverent, innuendo-filled, satirical say nothing of his comely female readership....

I don’t usually tout a blog so soon after discovering them but this particular site deserves recognition. I’ve read quite a few of his posts, cause they’re so dang funny, and I encourage you to visit Hulles. If you are anything like me, you’ll love his “sardonic postmodern humor and dessert recipes."

- Missy, The Incurable Disease of Writing

The world is a slightly better place since the essence of what is known as "Hulles" is now being captured in words. "Hulles" can best be summed up as "I'm so funny I even make myself laugh", and I for one, am thankful for that and I look forward to reading the latest Hullisms everyday (except weekends and holidays).

- Jay, comment on I'll Buy The Reynolds Wrap

You make me laugh. Afterwards, I feel sort of dirty, but I'm learning to deal.

- Kristen, comment on Distant Thunder

-- Hulles

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Today dawned like any other day for me: wake up in the gutter on Selby Avenue, spit out the Fleet Enema that was inexplicably in my mouth, drive home in the Hulles Ride, shit in the cat litter, shave my tongue, take a shower, scoot next door and sex down the neighbor's border collie -- hey, bitch was in heat, what's a concerned PETA member supposed to do? Trust me, if you're any kind of dog lover at all it would have warmed your heart to see the gratitude shining in her eyes as we shared a cigarette afterwards....

In other words, dogs were in heaven and all was right with the world.

I was out of Kahlua, so for breakfast I had a concoction I invented myself in the Hulles Labs called a Mexican Windbreaker: 1 can of Old El Paso refried beans, 1 750ml bottle of Cuervo Gold, the juice of 6 limes, 4 Habañero peppers with seeds, blend well, serve over ice in a dog dish, garnish with a cockroach on a toothpick. I like to drink these occasionally to prevent scurvy and bilharzia. I find that after one or two Mexican Windbreakers I can actually hover an inch above my chair for minutes at a time.

But once I reached the redundantly-named Nina's Coffee Cafe and scent-marked the corner tables I found myself at a loss. What the hell do I blog about today? I have tens of readers that rely on me to keep them abreast of current affairs....

Speaking of which, I met one of those readers last night for the first time -- Jen, of JeNC17 notoriety. Normally I wouldn't write about this, soul of discretion that I am, but she drew first blood -- she mentioned in a public comment or two on a previous Hulles blog entry that she looked forward to meeting me in the flesh, something that I found quite understandable. I think she wanted to meet legendary sex dog me because my web log periodically emits tiny amounts of a stimulating and addictive pheromone due to special software I developed for this very purpose. Sure, I know it's not sporting but I've pretty much reached the end of my pick-up-chicks bag of tricks, see Doesn't Ploy Well With Others. [I actually sat here for a minute trying to see if I could work a clever phrase about "licks" into the previous sentence but then decided that your laptops might blow up if I did. See, I look out for both you and your hardware. -- The Management]

So it's obvious why she wanted to meet me. The reasons I looked forward to meeting her are twofold: 1) she is a living breathing possibly-real woman with a custom interior and leather seating, MSRP $52,800 equipped as shown; and 2) in her blog bio she claims to have perfect eyebrows. The first reason needs no further explanation, and as for the second, I admit I was curious: what the hell are perfect eyebrows? I never even knew there were such things as perfect eyebrows, let alone that some woman in the Twin Cities might be the owner of said eyebrows. And what are the odds of her having not just a perfect left eyebrow or a perfect right eyebrow but two perfect eyebrows? So in a spirit of scientific inquiry I was anxious to find at least one answer to the perennial question, "What the fuck?"

Jen agreed to met me at Nina's, and when she walked into the crowded cafe there was an immediate cessation of conversation as every head turned her way. A profoundly silent moment of shock and awe followed which was only broken when someone coughed in a house three blocks away. Apparently the other people in the cafe had never seen perfect eyebrows before either.

After graciously receiving the crowd's rapt attention as her just due Jen came over to where I was sitting. I stood up and smiled and said "Hi, you must be Jen, I'm Hulles and it's very nice to meet you." Actually, this is what I meant to say; what I actually said was "Mmph!" since her tongue was down my throat and her hands were clamped onto my ass like Vise Grips. Once I disentangled her and managed to convince her that I was serious about never having sex the first five minutes of a first date (I'm a nice boy!) we got along just fine.

To be serious for just a second, of course it wasn't a date and Jen is a chaste and demure young woman who would rather stick her tongue into an operating garbage disposal than into the Hulles mouthhold. Truth be told, I think the only reason she wanted to meet me at all was because I pissed her off when I said she was "p.r." (possibly real) in the Hulles Mythos and she wanted it changed to an "r." even if it meant confronting me in person. Which is of course why I made it "p.r." in the first place. Regardless, I had a wonderful time meeting both Jen and her eyebrows and enjoyed our ensuing conversation a lot. But what fun is that to write about? And she really does have perfect eyebrows. Really. Who knew?

Perfect eyebrows aside, I'll refrain from commenting upon the rest of Jen's physical appearance (hot) other than to say that she has flashing and sparkling brown eyes. This came as something of a surprise to me because I hadn't really gotten that from the Web videos she's been in. Maybe it was the black bar across them.

Well, looks like I found something to blog about after all, so thanks Jen. You earned your "r." Unfortunately I have to end this entry rather abruptly since Phase Two of the Mexican Windbreaker is about to kick in. This is where my eyeballs pop out and land in someone's chai and the storm arrives that was only presaged by distant thunder in Phase One. Later. Gotta run.

-- Hulles

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Oh my God! It's Fat Tuesday today! It's almost over and I didn't even realize that today was the day. Although I should have known -- many of the people here in the redundantly-named Nina's Coffee Cafe have evidently come out tonight in support of the holiday named after them.

I actually thought I should delete the previous sentence about a hundred times because it's so cruel and fatuous but I decided to let it stand. I kept it because I think it's funny. If you must know,the somatotype of everyone here at Nina's tonight falls well within one standard deviation from the norm for the United States, if leaning a little toward endomorphic in comparison to much of the rest of the world. Dang, them big words certainly go a long way toward smoothing things over, don't they? Go Hulles.

But Mardi Gras is not the topic of this post. Nor People Gras. Neither is the National Hymn of Spain, in Spanish Himno Nacional de España. I woke up singing it this morning, although I suppose "singing" isn't really the right word. As far as I know it doesn't have words, so I just sing shit like "pah pah PAH pah paRUMParumpa humpadumpa." In fact, now that I mention it I imagine any truly patriotic Spaniard would shoot me without the slightest compunction if they ever heard me do that. But still, it's stirring music. They call it a hymn but somehow it gets my blood flowing. I find it addictive, much like many of George Michael's songs post-Wham. It doesn't make me want to conquer shit like "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, / Über alles in der Welt" does or eat donuts like "O Canada" does but 'tis enough, 'twill serve.

I actually have an MP3 of El Himno Nacional by, sic, "V. larga anterior decreto 1997." My shaky Spanish translation of this is "Very large front thing 1997," an odd name for a band perhaps but I suppose it's no worse than "The Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower." My MP3 is lots perkier than the one I linked to above but I can't seem to find out where I got it anymore. I came across the MP3 in the first place because I was looking for "Viva España" which at the time I mistakenly thought was the national anthem of Spain. Turns out this was true during Franco's rule but it has since been replaced by "La Marcha Real," another name for the national hymn I've been talking about. And at this point I have to say if any of this info is wrong, go ahead and tell me but don't expect contrition. After all my research to write this post I ended up concluding that most Spaniards don't know what the hell their national anthem is.

So "El Himno Nacional de España" went well with my usual Kahlua and Grape Nuts this morning. It got me going, got me flowing, got me moving with the groove, got me reeling and writhing and fainting in coils.

Which brings me to the real topic of this blog entry: sex. Need some.

-- Hulles

Monday, February 19, 2007

It looks like I need a new shtick. After the Latin poetry debacle, some of you suggested that I work up a new ploy to impress chicks. Okey-dokey, as Hannibal Lector used to say.

Since some of you are relatively new to my blog, you might want to start out with some history on my attempts to intrigue the ladies. I have tried out new gigs before. One attempt, described in "What A Friend We Have In Cheesiness," was sort of in keeping with the poetry theme. At least the poetry that resulted was in English, not Latin. But the little poem we came up with wasn't something you would expect to hear my pal Garrison Keillor read on "Writer's Almanac." I had to end up shelving that one after I got slapped up side the head a couple times.

Another great idea was peddling a supposed movie role to unsuspecting popsies; I talked about this one in "I Can Make You A Star." Unfortunately this plan required that I lie. Well, maybe not lie, but certainly mislead. I have no moral qualms about lying my ass off to get laid, don't get me wrong, I'm just not good at it. So that one had to bite the dust eventually as well.

The Catullus thing you know about already. It seems that thousands of men run around quoting Latin love poetry incessantly to young girls in bars, so the Catullus book goes back to the dust bunny farm.

Which brings us to now. I need something new, something unique, something that will Make Chicks Dig Me.

Some of you may be thinking, "Hulles, why do you need a ploy at all? Why don't you just use your natural charm to win women over and make them date you? Once they sleep with you they'll be hooked for life."

Well, thanks, but the old natural charm supply is down to seeds and stems these days. It seems to have been replaced in my repertoire by unrelenting cynicism. You were very perceptive to bring up the "sleep with me" thing though. It's only closing the deal that needs the work. I can handle it from there by calling upon my Tantric Sex Secrets of the Orient training and my own innate sex doggedness.

Unfortunately every time I think about Ploys To Make Chicks Dig Me I think about severe dorks I have known (that aren't me) that have carried this to the extreme. I would never do this, of course.

The first guy I always think about is some poor man in Portland who went to every open stage on the folk music circuit and played the spoons. He carried a case around with all his spoons in it and would somehow select a couple and during every song that anybody else did he would clackety-clacketa-clacketa more or less in time to the music. But this was his thing. He obviously had read something somewhere that said if you want to be popular it helps to have a talent. So he picked playing the spoons. I will hand it to him, though -- he pretty much had the spoon-playing niche to himself. Unlike me with Catullus' Latin love poetry.

Another guy locally here has a similar gig going on with bongo drums. He pops up like a mushroom at any bar that has a live band and chimes right in on his bongos whether the band needs bongo accompaniment or not. And most don't, frankly. Bongo Boy scares me a lot.

Yet another person that I know of carries a couple of cameras around to snap people's (generally women's) pictures and then talk about what a good photographer he is, yadda yadda yadda. This guy has not yet gotten his lights punched out in my presence but he's skated the edge a number of times. For some reason people seem to feel that having some dickwad take their picture is an invasion of their privacy. I can't understand this myself.

Almost forgot one -- I recently wrote about some old guy (who isn't me) who uses the tired "I'm a sensitive writer type" spiel to chat up the cookies. Disgusting.

You know, after talking about all these losers, not excepting yours truly, I think I'll just go back to the old "hand out a business card and tell 'em to email me if they want to" routine. At least I can maintain some shred of dignity that way. Too bad they never do email me. But that's okay. I have you all.

Although to be honest I have been working on a new clogging routine. You've never seen "Stairway to Heaven" clogged like I can clog it. I'm reserving it as a secret weapon to Get Chicks To Dig Me if you guys wimp out.

-- Hulles

Friday, February 16, 2007

Yesterday I ran into Molly at a local public house. Molly's a lovely young popsy with whom I am slightly acquainted; we have a mutual friend named Cady. Molly had stopped in for a quick beer and to do the NY Times crossword puzzle. I went over to flirt with her briefly in my inimitable fashion, then I left her and promised not to bug her and let her do her crossword puzzle in peace. I'm quite considerate that way. But I really liked that she was doing the NY Times puzzle; Thursday's puzzle is usually nontrivial.

About the fifth or sixth time I went over to her table to promise not to bug her she happened to mention that she was taking Latin in college. Cool, I thought. Her popsiness wanes and her allure waxes. (Allure waxes? I'm pretty sure I need one if anyone does.) I myself studied Latin for several years in college. My prof used to call me "Arnie Archaic" because I always wrote my 'u's as 'v's. As you can see I was a smart ass then too. But you can also see why I perked up at the Latin thing.

"That's really great!" I said heartily to Molly, who of course knew none of this. "Who are you reading?"

"Catullus. He was a Roman poet who wrote a lot of love poetry." The "you won't have heard of him" was only implied, not stated.


Heh heh. Little did she know I did a two-semester intensive independent study on Catullus. I love Catullus. When I recently applied for Ladonian citizenship I used the beginning of a Catullus poem as the Latin word or phrase that you need to contribute for no reason I was ever able to figure out. You get it. Catullus and I are like this (crosses fingers).

So was this an opportunity lovingly hand-crafted in Heaven or what? In that one brief moment I felt that my entire course of Latin study was about to pay off somehow. Entire course of Latin study? Hell, my entire undergraduate liberal arts education was about to be vindicated to a degree I had not thought possible for the last 30 years. Go Hulles! Molly will swoon into your arms and make simpering noises of adoration and Spring will come early and we'll have lots of babies. Or something.

"Oh, Catullus, you mean like 'Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus, rumoresque senum severiorum, omnis unis aestimemus assis!'" I said to Molly proudly, only turning a couple of 'u's into 'v's just to piss Ed Burke off. This is the same thing I used for Ladonian citizenship -- it's the beginning of what is probably Catullus' most famous love poem if an obscure Roman poet can be said to have a famous anything. And of course it was the only one I had memorized at that particular moment. So I stood there beaming, waiting for the swooning and simpering and shit.

She just looked at me. I don't think her expression even changed one iota. She might have made a "hunh" noise; I am uncertain about this after the fact. But not exactly the reaction I had been hoping for.

My next thought was that she probably has millions of guys that come up to her in a bar and quote Catullus in Latin who she happens to be studying at that very moment. My seven years of undergraduate liberal arts study were for naught. I'm not hypereducated at all. Young men today run around all over the place quoting Roman poets in Latin. Great. They're probably all very handsome, speak fluent Portuguese, and are about to move en masse to São Paolo too. Pricks.

Then she smiled a tiny little bit and I felt better.

I'm going to meet her tonight and give her my copy of Catullus' poems, purchased new 34 years ago and kept by me ever since, through marriages, divorces, unfulfilling relationships and countless naftabs. I hope she appreciates it.

I'm not expecting swooning and simpering from Molly though. I guess she's not the swooning and simpering type. Guess I'll have to wait until I meet some other cute blonde who is currently studying Catullus in Latin for that. At least I know I'll be ready when that day comes. Although come to think of it, I thought I was pretty ready yesterday....

I want my money back for those seven years, dammit.

-- Hulles

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A smattering of stuff:

The Brazilification of Hulles progresses apace. I am still reading Jorge Amado's War of the Saints, even though it's a bit slow-moving. Casti sends me music links that are great and help me learn Brazilian Portuguese. Two of my favorites are A Lua Que Eu Te Dei and Faz Tempo, both concert videos by Ivete Sangalo. Need I say that I am madly in love with Ivete? Of course not.

I have to laugh, though. Poor Casti. She is teaching me to learn Portuguese via love songs. Please don't tell her that this is probably not a good idea from her point of view. I'm pretty okay with it.

I finally ran into my (sort of) friend Amanda Adams after posting an entry about her a while back. She was with some guy that was probably her husband but I didn't get that exactly in my excitement at finally being able to tell her that I wrote about her. It turns out that she and her husband had already read my blog entry. And liked it! Woot, as my friend Anne would say. Amanda and Mr. Amanda rock. And by the way, I went back to the post to pick up the above link and was sad that the Strib article about her was no long available online. The slide show still is, though, which is good. Read the blog post before you watch it if you intend to do so, though. You were warned.

I decided that rather than post a third ballet entry I'm going to let the dancers tell their own stories about growing up with ballet if they want. Besides, I was also going to also talk about Toni Bentley, former NYCB dancer in the Suzanne Farrell era under Balanchine (don't worry if that means nothing to you), and no way am I going to mention my kid Isabel in the same post as Toni. See, I found this article while doing a little research for the first and second ballet posts. It seems that Ms. Bentley wrote a book -- "The Surrender" -- about being fucked in the ass, to put it crudely. And no, that isn't a figure of speech. We're talking anal sex here, read the book if you dare. Anyway, I thought it was pretty funny. I guess I hadn't really thought in those terms about the principal dancers I've seen. At least about the women.

Apparently there are still lots of sexy ladies moving to my area, at least according to the spammers. For all the emails I get, I'm surprised I can even walk down the street without stepping on a sexy lady or ten. Great. Rents are going to go through the roof. I never follow the links in these emails, though. I already know lots of sexy ladies that want absolutely nothing to do with me, don't need anymore thanks. Now if the emails said "Stank Ass Hoes New To Your Area!" maybe I'd check them out.

I'm going to end this post with an impassioned plea: the next time Valentine's Day falls on a Naked Wednesday, remind me not to combine the two celebrations. It frightens the locals.

-- Hulles

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Especially those of you that are women. Guys, head on over to L. A. Noir. Stephen Blackmoore, Adjutant Curmudgeon around these parts, pretty much speaks for all of us I think.

But really, Valentine's Day has always been a big deal to me. Once I gave my girlfriend at the time a trip to Saint Maarten, which was a spectacular trip and earned me big boyfriend points. This is when I got my thong swimsuit. [Warning: do not follow this link if you are pregnant or have a history of hypertension. - The Management] I bring this up now in the admittedly faint hope that her husband reads this.

I really hope all of you have fun tonight going out to your candlelight dinners with your Special Units, toasting each other with your impertinent yet dusky Shiraz's, kissing over the chocolate raspberry cake and Moët & Chandon, snuggling in the car on the way home, and [sniff]

No, no, I'm fine. It's just a bit of a cold I caught recently. As I was saying, I really hope you all have a magical evening tonight.

In honor of Valentine's Day I got all of you that are so special to me a present. Well, sort of. It's a link to a YouTube video of O Mio Babbino Caro. I've written before about what this song means to me. The video is some chick (Maria Callas) singing to her daddy that if he doesn't like her boyfriend she's going to do a swan dive off of a bridge into the Arno river. Just the thing for a romantic Valentine's Day with your dork boyfriend. I'll be home singing it to my cat. Oh and by the way, the video ends with a screen that says Maria Callas died in Paris in September of 1977. Ignore that part, it might be sort of a buzzkill on a special day like today.

But I'll be fine, really. I have lots to do tonight to keep me busy -- honing my nail file, enfooding my cat, staring out the window at nothing, sighing lugubriously... I won't even have time to wish I had someone special in my life so don't worry.

Hopefully you will not even give me a second thought as you're unwrapping your bright scarlet negligee and modeling it for that asshole that was never good enough for you, I can't believe you're even in the same state as he is, let alone the same house....

Anyway, have a wonderful Valentine's Day all of you from the Hulles blog in general and me in particular. I have to go now and wipe my eyes. I seem to have suddenly developed a severe allergy to being alone....

[In the distance we hear the mournful mating call of the Arctic Curmudgeon echoing in the frozen wastes. Fade to black.]

-- Hulles

And P.S. I'm totally kidding. Have a wonderful V-Day, really. I love you all to an excessive degree that should make you squirm slightly. Unless you're a guy, in which case I just like you a lot and would maybe let you buy me a beer if I ever met you.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

For Lara and Isabel

Welcome back to Part II of the Introduction to Etc. Etc. When I left you you were just sitting down in your decent seats in the auditorium about to see American Ballet Theater perform Miscellaneous Weird Modern Shit, Intermission, then the classical ballet Giselle. You're in for a treat. This is a fantasy performance, so Martine van Hamel is dancing Giselle as well as a pas-de-deux or two in the first part's MWMS.

We'll leave you sitting in the auditorium for a bit and make you have some out-of-body experience that as an analogy is quickly becoming cumbersome so screw it, here are some ballet terms you should know to enhance your enjoyment of the dance:

A pas-de-deux is two dancers, a man and a woman, performing solo except that there's two of them. In the process the male partner invariably lifts the female partner (this is called a lift) and holds her over his head then he spikes her into the stage and kicks her in the head and stomps off in a rage. Okay, okay, I'm kidding about the spike. If you really want to seem like you know your ballet shit, emit an audible gasp as the guy lifts the woman, then break into wild applause even if the whole thing sucks and the guy wobbles and shakes like you did at the altar when you got married the first time. This is just being polite.

Toe shoes are the funny pink shoes the female dancers wear in classical ballet. They have long pink ribbons that wind around a dancer's legs and serve no purpose whatsoever other than to distract you from noticing that the dancer's calves are like hams. They cost $14,000 a piece at your local Capezio store and most people need two of them, so as you can see ballet is not a poor woman's avocation. This sort of makes sense when you realize that the Capezio store only sells ballet shit, which means they only have six customers during a good year so they have to suck 'em dry while they can.

Toe shoes have wooden plugs in the toe to allow the dancer to spin like a top as she's dancing, hence the name. When she is up on her toes it is called being "en pointe." It looks very graceful and there's no way in hell you could possibly do it no matter who you are unless you're a dancer yourself. This is why dancers' calves look like hams. Ballet dancers invariably stick cotton on top of the wooden plugs to cushion them somewhat. No one is really sure why they keep doing this since it doesn't help even a little bit. As a result, the feet of a new ballet dancer are bloody mangled wrecks for the first twelve years or so of her career. Then her feet finally adapt to them, by which time she's too old to dance anyway and she becomes a Ballet Mistress and who cares what her feet are like.

The principal dancers of a company are the big names, the stars. These are the people who get fancy bios in the program with little glam pictures on them. If you want to seem cool, clap for every third one that appears on stage for the first time. "Balletomane!" people will say behind their hands to each other. About you, you dope -- don't you remember from last post that it means "fan of ballet?" Sheesh.

The corps (pronounced "core," this is important, write it on the back of your hand before you go) is short for the "corps de ballet." These are the dancers that flutter and swarm here and there during the course of the ballet, always in groups. If they traveled singly they would be principal dancers. In the ballet you are about to see, the corps dances, among other things, the townspeople and later the Wilis, my personal favorite. You can amuse yourself by looking for the one loser in the corps that is slightly out of synch with everyone else and make a "Tch!" noise and shake your head sorrowfully when she fucks up. You do this even if the reason that is she is fucking up is that she's dancing with a strain of flu that made her sit up all last night puking on the bus that was taking her company to your town because she didn't want to let her pals down and get yelled at besides. After all, that's why she gets the big bucks, somewhere around $700 a week for a major company for a 36-week season. It works out to about $25000 a year, to save you the math. And bear in mind that this is in the Major Leagues of the dance world; these are the top pros in their field. The sick corps member that is fucking up has danced nearly every day of her life since she was eight years old to get the chance to be in the corps and make that 25 grand. Hmm. Seems I went off on a tangent. Well, she shouldn't have fucked up in the first place for me to have singled her out. The corps is not the place to display individuality. I will have words with her later.

The last terminology you will learn is two French words, "jeté" and "plié." I can no longer recall what these words mean but they are ballet terms used to describe various stylized dance movements that occur during the course of the performance. The first word is pronounced "zhyuh tay", sort of like "Je t'aime" but with an "ay" sound where the "em" sound is. And of course you know how to pronounce "Je t'aime," you read me. The second word is pronounced "plee- yay." Sort of. The way you use these words is to sprinkle them at random in your sentences after the performance is over like you know what you're talking about. Like me, people will recognize the words but have no idea what they really mean so you can use them pretty much anywhere, also like me. Try this one: "A plié should be chewy and lugubrious, and so-and-so's definitely was not." Ain't it great? (Thanks to Lara for that one, btw.)

Whew. So much for terminology. Let's go back to you in your seat at the auditorium. You got through the first segment of the program with the MWMS and saw who Martine van Hamel is. You were sort of underwhelmed because you didn't understand much of the dance, but it looked pretty and it was colorful. Fair enough. But now the orchestra is tuning up -- did I forget to mention there's an orchestra? It's one of the special secrets that no one tells you beforehand, and you're pretty happy about it because you like listening to live orchestras (hey, it's my blog and I say you do). Anyway the curtain is about to come up, and you are about to discover that...

Male dancers suck. They are never well choreographed, they have totally lame moves and don't go en pointe, and they seem to exist solely as foils for the female dancers. Fine. Who gives a shit? The female dancers are cracking good and they more than make up for the sorry-ass male dancers. Let the guys hoist 'em and fling 'em about and act like mannikins while the ladies spin, then the men can go off stage and take a smoke break for all I care. This is true for every male dancer I have ever seen, by the way, including Baryshnikov; the single exception is Mel Tomlinson. I won't mention much about him here other than to say that he is phenomenal, or was when I saw him dance with the Dance Theatre of Harlem and later with New York City Ballet. Once again, the exception proves the rule I guess.

As you watch Giselle, the magic of the ballet will transport you. Martine is exquisite as Giselle, even you can tell that, and damn if these dancers in the corps don't work their (cute) little asses off. They are athletes, you think to yourself. Well, you're damning them with faint praise -- most athletes couldn't begin to do what the dancers do routinely, performance after performance. Especially Tony La Russa. (Inside joke, sorry, won't happen again.) The corps is marvelous (it is ABT, after all), the principals are spot on, and you've now fallen in love with Martine van Hamel just like I did. Also like me, you have developed an unspeakable obsession with Wilis and will want some for your own personal use. Congratulations on your first ballet. I bet it really didn't hurt all that much and that the bleeding soon passed.

If you would be lucky enough to find yourself in the dressing room after the performance, you would quickly notice that God's own deodorant and antiperspirant couldn't begin to make a dent in the, shall we say, closeness of the atmosphere. What did you expect? Dancers sweat. Men and women perspire, horses and ballet dancers sweat. Look at what they were doing out there, for crying out loud. Of course they sweat. And they don't smell like smoked chipped beef either, no matter what some would have you believe.

They smell like victory.

At this point I must apologize. I promised some other stuff in this post, and I would still love to write about it if you want, but I think I have to put this entry to bed now and get some other things done. Sorry. Let me know if you want a Part III. It will include some comments about a couple of ballets, including the one I detest, and will also talk about growing up as a little girl who wants to be a ballet dancer.

I will, however, give you a teaser, an excerpt from the forthcoming post if you should choose to clamor for it:

"...the other little girls, any one of whom would gleefully stick a rusty fork into your back and watch you die a slow and agonizing death of sepsis and then spit on your lifeless corpse and steal your toe shoes. I am given to understand by those who know that not only does this behavior not go away as one matures in the ballet world, it gets worse."

Good stuff, eh? Let me know if you want Part III. If you don't, that's fine too, I'm getting a little crispy myself.

-- Hulles

For Lara

I've been thinking about the ballet a lot lately due to recent correspondence with a friend, and in the process I found myself reminiscing about the first time I went to see a ballet performance. Having grown up in a small town in Iowa, I confess that in saying my exposure to classical dance prior to that first performance was minimal I am understating the case greatly. In other words and without all the flowery rhetoric, I didn't know shit about ballet. So I thought I would provide an introduction to the magical world of dance for someone else like me who might be forced to brush the hayseeds off his nice pair of slacks and be dragged kicking and screaming to the local auditorium to see some dance troupe or another.

"No way!" I hear you beer-swilling young dirtbags muttering. "I'd rather have someone tape car battery electrodes to my genitals and throw the switch than go to a ballet. Assuming of course that they use the kind of tape hospitals use that doesn't hurt so much when they rip it off."

So why would you possibly drive your late model pickup with big tires to a dance performance? Normally, if you're a straight adult male the reason you do anything smacking of culture is to get laid. (Bear with me guys, you know this already, I'm explaining stuff to the ladies.) If you've been with Amber long enough to have had not one but two "where is this relationship going" talks, the day is not long in coming when she's going to haul your sorry ass off to the ballet. And you will go. This is because you would really like to have sex with Amber sometime this year, and because your life will become a total hell on earth if you don't go. (Again, for the ladies.)

So what can you expect? If like Homer Simpson you imagine cute bears with little hats riding tricycles you're pretty far off the mark. Ballet is essentially a lot of really skinny women wearing funny pink shoes and gay men in tights running around and jumping and shit. Wait, come back! I haven't finished yet. That's the only the superficial impression, just like a person from Djibouti might at first think American football is just a bunch of thugs dressed up like tanks who crash into each other for a few minutes then break for a beer commercial. Let's not go there; my point is that if you know something about the ballet and see the right performance of the right company, it can be a heart-wrenchingly beautiful experience that will transform your life forever. Sadly, it will be one that you can never talk about with any other guy except me.

Let's take a quick time-out and examine that last statement. I'm exaggerating of course: there are lots of virile hairy-chested heterosexual men who enjoy the ballet. Too bad they all live in Russia. Here in the Bible Belt if you are a man and say that you like dance, people either assume that you play for the other team or that you're talking about strippers. As a result of this unfortunate cultural myopia I've taken to automatically adding "but I'm really straight, honest!" to any sentence about ballet that I utter in the presence of someone who doesn't know me. You also might want to try saying this emphatically to yourself a few times in the mirror. The practice will help you sound convincing when you're standing around the water cooler at work and the other guys are talking about last night's UNLV basketball game and you start telling them what you did last evening.

Now that we've established that you are going to see a ballet and that you need to be very careful who you tell about it, the next thing you need to learn is about the type of performance that you might see. Basically, there are two kinds of dance: classical ballet and weird modern shit. The weird modern shit could be anything from Lucinda Child dancing in a square over and over and over again to a Philip Glass recording (yes, I saw her perform it, and no, I don't want to talk about it); to Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, which is a bunch of fat guys dressed in tutus (really); to the breathtaking agile magic of Pilobolus. I have written about Pilobolus before, as some few of you may recall. If you ever have a chance to see them perform please do so, even if you don't think you like "dance." Take Amber. You'll have the experience of a lifetime and get laid -- what could be better?

Classical ballet is the "really skinny women in funny pink shoes and gay men in tights" thing I was talking about earlier. This statement probably needs further explication. The women are really really skinny. They often really damage themselves in the process of becoming really skinny, which really sucks. I won't go into why this is so, but hopefully this is changing. But even if the female dancers you see are blimps compared to the way they used to be, they will still look really thin to you. Some of this has to do with simple physics: your gay male pas de deux partner (see below) can't lift you and hold you in the air with one arm if you weigh 180 pounds. And if you are a woman with big hooters and you leap eight feet into the air, no matter what kind of bra you are wearing, when you hit the ground your boobs will still be in transit only to arrive with an impressive jolt just when you want to jump again. Thus if you are an exceptionally well-endowed female dancer you will have a strong and recurring incentive to seek another line of work. Don't expect lots of cleavage at the after-party, is what I'm saying.

And all male ballet dancers are gay. Of course this doesn't matter, I just thought I'd give you the old heads-up. In this regard they are just like waiters and hairdressers -- we all know one or two that are straight, but they are the exceptions that prove the rule. I'm joking to some degree, but if you think I got defensive earlier about my heterosexuality because I like ballet, just imagine what the life of a straight male professional ballet dancer must be like. I'm pretty sure that if I was one I would never go out in public unless I was wearing a dark blue sweatshirt that said "I FUCK WOMEN!" in four-inch white letters on both the front and the back. And if I could make the letters light up and flash twice a second I would certainly do so.

The dance program that you will see being performed on any given occasion will most likely be either A) a combination of classical ballet and weird modern shit or B) all just weird modern shit. Part of it depends on the tradition of the company you are seeing. For example, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is not likely to include classical ballet in their performance (at least that was true when I was seeing them regularly), whereas the New York City Ballet is quite likely to do so. But it is very unlikely that you will attend a performance where it is all classical ballet, at least in the U.S. Whether this is pandering to imagined American taste or simply because the classical repertoire is so small is something I don't know. It might just be that an all-classical performance would be too physically taxing for most companies. I'll try to find out the answer and let you know.

At this point I should wrap up the first part of my introduction to "dance for the straight man". In the second segment I'll talk about some of the dance terminology you should know, what to watch for in a performance, how female dancers smell, what kind of shit the dancers are wearing when you see them, and what it's like to be a little girl growing up and wanting to be a ballet dancer. I know about the last thing because I had an opportunity to observe it first-hand. If space permits and you look like you're still awake I might also talk a bit about a couple of ballets that I like a lot and one that I detest.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: I love ballet. I'm very passionate about it, as perhaps you can tell. I even like some of the weird modern shit some of the time. Maybe I'll be able to impart some of that passion to you, then you too can become a fiercely heterosexual ballet aficionado just like me. Actually, the proper term is balletomane, but that sounds even more gay than "ballet aficionado" plus I don't know how to pronounce it, so let's just stick with the former appellation. Actually, let's call ourselves "dance lovers." That way chicks will automatically dig us. Our very name will suggest to them their two great passions in life, dancing and being loved.

-- Hulles

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Recently my old pal Garrison Keillor wrote an article that I found of interest in his syndicated column "The Old Scout", one that may interest you as well. For you newcomers, I call Garrison my old pal because I ate his sandwich once.

The article, called "21st Century Elements of Style," appeared on January 9th of this year. In it Keillor creates a Norman Rockwell painting in words, a sentimental and wistfully nostalgic depiction of the newspaper reader as a romantic figure. He contrasts this debonair and -- dare I say it? -- suave newspaper reader with some ADD technogeek sitting in a café with a laptop and wires coming out of his ears (my words mostly, not his). He says at one point:

A man at a laptop is a man at a desk, a stiff, a drone. Where is the nobility here? He hunches forward, his eyes glaze, and beads of saliva glitter in the corners of his mouth and make their way down his chin as he becomes engrossed in the video of the fisherman falling out of the boat.

Wait a minute. Garrison Keillor owns Common Good Books, the (admittedly charming) bookstore downstairs with the manager who periodically gets ravished. As a result of this proximity, GK is periodically to be seen looming upstairs in the redundantly-named Nina's Coffee Cafe, de facto world headquarters of the Hulles blog. So it seems likely that Nina's is the café he is obliquely referring to in his column. That technogeek sitting there with a laptop and beads of saliva etc. that he's talking about is me. Well, doesn't that put an interesting spin on things.

First of all, if you actually go to the link for the article, I'm sure you will not fail to notice the lovely irony that right next to his column is a picture of GK with, not a newspaper, but a laptop.

Second, to give Mr. Keillor credit he perhaps does not deserve, "21st Century Elements of Style" was not primarily a pro-Luddite piece, and he didn't really make fun of the technogeek archetype (i.e. me) as much as he might have done. But he did call me "lumpen," which irked me even before I knew what it meant. I looked it up, and according to Encarta it means "stupidly content with a life regarded as intellectually empty and socially inferior." Zut alors, that's quite a large cargo of condescension for such a little word to haul around. Glad I was intellectually capable of looking up the word at all, even if it was only in Encarta (I don't have access to the OED right this second, so sue me).

Once again my irony detector is beeping at me insistently. That person over there at that table in the café (Melissa) is using the unimaginably vast information resource that is the Internet to look up structural material specs for her engineering homework. The person next to her (Juan) is studying Japanese on line. The next person (Claire) is not on line at all, just listening to MP3's as she works on her master's thesis (she wants to be a writer, God help her). The person next to her is downloading porn never mind that person. Next to him is me, and I'm writing a blog that I think is, all in all, not a bad effort for someone who is stupidly content with a life regarded as intellectually empty and socially inferior by Garrison Keillor.

But the real irony for me is that when I'm sitting in the café writing this and reading all of your blogs, I am participating in a vibrant social network of singularly bright and interesting and talented people (you, duh, pay attention or we'll look like schmucks). This is the incandescent intellectual community for which I so desperately yearned as I was growing up in my small Norman Rockwell town reading local poorly-written newspapers that, if they were the cornerstone of anything, it was maintaining the status quo. And now I have you, so to speak, and if that makes me appear lumpen in someone's eyes, fuck 'em. (I wanted to end that sentence more articulately but "fuck 'em" is really what I meant so "fuck 'em" it stays.)

All this is to suggest that perhaps, Garrison, you might have talked to some of the laptop users (except for the guy I skipped over) before dismissing them out of hand as cretins wallowing in "MySpace, that encyclopedia of the pathetic". I know you were using hyperbole to make your newspaper reader seem more dashing, but sad to say it is your romantic 1940's era newspaper reader who ends up being lumpen if such pejoratives are to be slung about at all. The rest of us are doing quite nicely interacting and exchanging ideas at 10 Mbs in our cafés scattered across the world.

In passing you may have noticed I mostly glossed over the "socially inferior" portion of the lumpen definition. Granted, we may all be socially inferior to Mr. Keillor -- who isn't, except possibly Sharon Stone? -- but I thought it showed a lack of grace on his part to point it out.

And now I have to somehow console Lucille II, my notebook computer, who took "The Old Scout" article a bit too much to heart. It's okay, L2, Keillor may think "holding a newspaper frees you up to express yourself, sort of like what holding a sax did for Coltrane," but you and I both know that you're in fact one of the best tools ever created for allowing me to express myself, and you are much more analogous to Coltrane's sax than any newspaper ever will be. You were even named after B. B. King's guitar, which shows that two can play at the musical instrument metaphor game.

So Garrison, thanks for picking on me and my poor little laptop, you big galoot. I'm glad I ate your sandwich. It was really good, too.

-- Hulles

[Postscript: The irony continues. Nina's was too full for me to sit down and post this, so I came downstairs and am currently sitting in a nook in GK's bookstore as I'm about to push the "Publish" button. Nice touch, I thought. And thanks to the wonderful staff at Common Good Books for allowing me to do so; I promise I won't tell the boss.]

Tessie Dibbs of Little Rock, Arkansas writes:

I am an avid fan of your blog. I know that you recently got a new notebook computer, Lucille II, but what ever happened to the original Lucille? How is she doing? I liked her.

Tessie, yes, Lucille II is much faster, slimmer, sexier and more desirable as a laptop than the original Lucille could ever be, you're absolutely right. I think Lucille I is doing okay, although it's been several months since I visited her in the assisting computing facility where she's living these days. I intend to send her an email this month or possibly next month just to check up on her and I'll tell her you asked about her. I'm quite sure she's doing just fine though, the staff people there are marvelous, they should be for what I'm paying them. I still haven't figured out what I'm going to do with her when I can no longer afford to keep her there, but maybe she will have quit working entirely by then and I won't have to deal with it at all, just chuck her into the garbage. We can only hope I guess. Thanks for writing; Lucille II sends you such love as she can spare these days what with all the gala affairs we've been attending together.

Gina Johnson-Smith of Coyote Gulch, Arizona

I am an avid fan of your blog. Since Polly seems to be asleep or passed out in a ditch somewhere these days, I guess it falls to me to tell you that the self-denigrating preface to your post "The Prado" sucks. No one wants to hear your sniveling apologetic shit; either write it and post it or don't. We'll tell you if it isn't fit for human consumption, trust me. Or at least I will; who knows about these other candy-ass readers? You can send my official Hulles Curmudgeonette button, secret decoder ring and year's supply of antacid tablets to the enclosed address.

Ouch. But it's a good ouch. Thanks for writing, Gina, your letter echoes some email I received recently. And you're absolutely right. In fact, I'm going to excise the offending preface from the post itself today and let "The Prado" live or die on its own. But you should know that this is only because I agree with you from an artistic point of view, not because your picture is on the wall in my local U. S. Postal Service office. Nice hair in the Wanted poster, by the way. Did you really hack all those men to death with just a nail file?

Tirzah Arnett of Stilton-On-Rye, Wesson, England writes:

I am an avid fan of your blog. My spouse and I are curious: how is your search for gainful employment coming along? We hope you are doing well in this. You should be aware if you are not already that you can emigrate to an EU country and find work over here. And by the way, as a show of support for you, before our evening meal my spouse and I utter dire imprecations toward 3M for eliminating their Iconoclasm Division and we are boycotting Post-It notes.

Tirzah, thanks for writing, and forgive me if I call you "she" and you're really a "he." I have a fifty-fifty shot at getting it right and those are betting odds for Hulles. So thanks to you and your husband for the gesture of solidarity and the tip about the EU. It is my understanding that there's a boat from Ellis Island leaving for Britain in the next couple weeks; I may well be on it.

To date things aren't going so well for me as far as income-producing enterprises are concerned. I recently abandoned my pitch to Oakley for newly updated X-Ray Specs; the Oakley people claim that advertising in the back of comic books (which are now called graphic novels, it seems) is prohibitively expensive and that even my fancy improved X-Ray Specs don't let you see under women's clothes.

Failing this, I decided to pursue the "do what you do best" school of thought. I finally determined that what I do best is come up with catchy blog titles, so recently I've been trying to market titles for country-and-western songs. So far I have not had a lot of luck with this, but if you know of anyone who wants to buy "Lite Beer And Dark Roots" let me know. $29.95 gets it, cash on the barrel head.

On second thought, fuck it. I'm going to write a book like everybody else.

-- Hulles

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Not so very long ago I was busily pounding away on Lucille [Lucille was my laptop, calm down will you? Jeez.] in the redundantly-named Nina's Coffee Cafe, no doubt crafting some intricately plotted and wryly humorous post involving something we have all forgotten about by now, when a really weird thing happened to me (yet again).

I had pretty much wrapped up the daily diatribe, whatever it was, and I was finally allowing myself to look around Nina's and see what had happened while I was off in Blogland when I noticed a guy sitting directly across from me in the Living Room Type Thing. He must have been new; I had never seen him in Nina's before. He was about my age, with white hair (like me), a short white beard (like me), glasses (like me), a laptop (like me), a certain seediness (like me), and a young attractive female companion (very much not like me). Of course it was hate at first sight. So I decided to eavesdrop on his conversation with the young woman so I could detest him even more. It went something like this:

Young Woman: "So you're really a writer?" (giggle)

Bizarro-Hulles: "Yeah, I'm a writer. I used to be a minister but I gave it up to write novels. Right now I'm working on..."

I don't think I need to go on. The morally-bankrupt old asshole was using being a "writer" to prey upon naive and unsuspecting young girls who wanted to be turned into literature. I was so appalled at this churlish and unseemly behavior that I very nearly went over and got Biblical on the creepy bastard just to forcibly remind him of his ex-minister days. He was totally asking to be smitten (as in smite or smote, not as in Kitten).

But I didn't. What I did instead was sigh and turn my eyes to the ceiling and say tiredly, "Okay, okay, I get it. Did you really have to be that obvious to make sure that I recognized your special-delivery portent? Good Lord, how dense do you think I am?" This last sentence was rhetorical, of course; the Portent Sender clearly felt that I was dense as lead.

The story has a second part. The Bizarro-Hulles guy kept returning to Nina's after that first episode. I never talked to him, but lots of young attractive women did. Maybe he met them in chat rooms or something and enticed them into Nina's with promises of literary intercourse and the possibility of becoming an amanuensis. Who knows? But he always pissed me off whenever I saw him, and in fact still does (yes, he still comes into Nina's and pretends to type on his laptop).

Matters were brought to a head a couple of days ago when a lovely young popsy waved and smiled at me from across the Living Room Type Thing. What's a gentleman to do but wave and smile back? She walked over to my table still smiling, but as she got closer the smile began to be replaced by a look of uncertainty.

"Hi," she said gamely. "I really enjoyed meeting you the other day."

"Hi baby, nice sweater. Um, yeah, I liked meeting you the other day too. Unfortunately I forgot who you are."

"Wait, you're not A______ are you?"

"Nope. I bet I can guess who you mean though. He's not here. I think the werehamsters got him. You're certainly welcome to sit and chat a bit if you'd like. I'm much more fun and interesting than he'll ever be, frocked or frockless."

She made a beeline for the front door after that without so much as a bye-your-leave. I have no idea why. She seemed nice enough though.

But after this little episode I once again turned my eyes heavenward and said resignedly, "Wow, you really think I'm a brick, don't you? Got to spell it out in every detail, don't you? You might as well drop a smoking stone tablet right onto the table in front of me with simple diagrams and your urgent message chiseled on it in three languages, just in case I learn Portuguese while it's in transit." However, after hearing a sudden clap of thunder outside I decided that perhaps heavy sarcasm was not really appropriate for this particular conversation and tried to look sheepish. It must have worked because the bolt of lightning missed me by a good foot and a half.

So yes, I got the message, and yes, I have indeed changed my ways. That creepy old guy can do whatever he wants, but I for one learned my lesson and no longer claim that I used to be a minister.

Why? What lesson did you think it was?

-- Hulles