October 27, 2003

Secrets

“I know a secret about you.”

That’s what the guy said to me. What the fuck? I had known this guy for a few months. He started to come to our ultimate Frisbee games in Balboa Park on Saturday mornings. We’re a very welcoming crew of people and we are always looking to expand our game, so it was cool that this new guy was coming regularly thus insuring better numbers.

This guy has always been pretty cool and I’ve never had any problems with him at all, so when he told me that he knew a secret about me, I was a little taken aback. “So, what do you know?” I demanded. “Well, I’m not going to tell you here. Do you want to get some lunch or something after the game?” I couldn’t go to lunch since I was meeting up with someone else, but I agreed that we should meet up.

“Does the secret reflect on me in a positive or negative way?” I asked him. “Oh, it just depends. Let’s just meet up and I’ll tell you then.” Fuck! He wasn’t going to tell me. On the ride home after the game, my head was swimming with what this guy could possibly know. I really don’t have too many secrets. I basically poured my heart out online for over three years when I had my Diaryland journal. I didn’t hold back too often. From who I’d fucked, to long, scathing rants about any number of subjects, I’d pretty much let everyone know how I felt about everything. What else could the guy possibly know about me?

It was kind of a shitty position for him to put me in, but I found solace in the fact that he wanted to hang out with me and discuss it. It’s not like he seemed upset or disgusted although, in the back of my mind, I was worried that he might be the husband of a woman I’d wronged sometime in the past. I could imagine him showing up at a bar with his hand in his coat gingerly fingering the ivory handle of his stiletto. He’d saunter up next to me with a wild look in his eyes and say, “I’m gonna cut you good, you womanizing man-whore!” I would, of course, go all ninja on his ass and have to karate chop him in the throat a few times for good measure. You’d better come at me with something a little more substantial than a stiletto if you want to take me out, Sparky!

Something else dawned on me; maybe he only thought he knew a secret about me. Maybe the secret he knew was about someone else that has a similar name. One of my concerns was that, somehow, he thought my “secret” was that I’m gay and I thought he might try to make a pass at me when we met up. After all, the guy lives in Hillcrest, a predominantly gay area of San Diego and, really, who can tell which guys are straight or gay these days anyway? It also dawned on me, yet again, that if I really were gay, I’d be getting a lot more action than I do as a straight male. Despite the fact that gays are wrongfully discriminated against in our society, they’re still having more and better sex than most of the straight population. Meanwhile straight men and women across the nation chronically masturbate in lubricated silence. Or maybe that’s just me.

Maybe what he thought was a secret was actually something that I don’t really think is so secret. I was hoping for this. He called me on Saturday night to set something up for Sunday. I agreed to meet him for lunch in Hillcrest at high noon.

I slept through most of Sunday morning and woke up to apocalyptic yellow skies. The city was (and still is) on fire and ash was falling like snow. This didn’t seem like a good omen for my meeting at noon. My stomach was doing somersaults, but I couldn’t tell if that was from my nervousness or the fact that I had downed a variety of alcoholic beverages throughout the previous evening’s festivities. Whatever the case, I was resigned to the fact that I was going to have to meet the guy, if only to satisfy my curiosity about the secret this guy knew.

So we met up. It was kind of trippy because the guy acted as if he didn’t even really have a secret. We made small talk for awhile until I couldn’t take it anymore; “Look man, this whole thing about the secret you know about me is really driving me crazy. What exactly do you know?” I said as I grabbed a fork and held it up to his jugular. He explained to me that he had only been living in San Diego for a few months and that, since he’d moved here, he hadn’t had much luck meeting any women. He decided to go the internet dating route and, after browsing through the women’s profiles, went to check out some of the men’s profiles to scope out his competition. It was there that he saw my profile. That was his big secret. Big fucking deal, dude! You got me all worked up over that?!

I didn’t say that to him, of course. Mostly, I was relieved. I think he simply wanted to start a friendship with me and that seemed like a good scheme to hang out with me away from the Ultimate Frisbee crowd. After I checked him for weapons, I decided he was a alright and that I should take him under my wing. I’m sure we’ll hang out sometime soon. In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out a way to modify that whole “I know a secret” scenario in order to meet women. At this point, anything is worth a try.

Posted by Dlove at 08:36 AM | Comments (9)

Highway to the Anger Zone

What is it about driving that makes me (and apparently everyone else) crazier than Manson on parole day? As a fairly mellow guy, I’m shocked at my behavior while driving. Perhaps it’s the layer of steel that protects us from the constraints of normal social behavior? We pick at our noses, dance with the enthusiasm of a ‘Soul Train’ dancer and sing as if we were performing on our farewell tour. And that’s the harmless part (if you count my singing to be ‘harmless’). What about the yelling, the cursing and the obscene gestures? Did we forget that in this protective shell of steel there is also glass? Glass that is, unlike steel, transparent and thus revealing. It’s our own little isolation chamber with questionable boundaries of conduct…that we’re sharing with everyone else on the road.

Honestly, when else would I even consider sticking my middle finger at someone in anger? Somehow it just seems to be a part of driving but not other aspects of my life. Why doesn’t this caveman-like act of aggression crossover? Would I defiantly ‘flip the bird’ to my rude waiter when they run out of French Onion soup? Do I stick my middle finger out at the receptionist who tells me my colonicist is running late? Of course not. I get the Minestrone and I sit down in the waiting room and read 7-year-old People magazines (Burt and Loni are splitting? Noooo!).

It’s really pretty appalling how we treat each other while driving. This type of anger and disrespect is not how I want to live my life. I decided I wanted to improve my attitude and actions towards my fellow driving man.

I was talking with a friend about the absurdity of screaming at drivers who make the unthinkable offense of forgetting to signal before changing lanes, or, worse yet, leaving their blinker on indefinitely (as if to announce, “Perhaps, in the near future, my car will change lanes. You just look out.”). He said it helps him to calmly recite the mantra “We’re all in this together. We’re all in this together.” He does this and begins to see his fellow drivers as companions in this crazy game of driving opposed to enemies preventing you from reaching your destination.

Driving to work shouldn’t be like the ‘Road Warrior’ movies. I want to feel more comfortable with my fellow citizens and not view them as muscular, eerily tan S&M villains (you have seen ‘Road Warrior’, right?).

Not too long after this inspiring conversation with my friend I was driving behind a car onto a freeway onramp. The driver in front of me decided it was in our best interest to join the other freeway drivers while driving in the 35 miles per hour range – despite the fact that the drivers we planned on merging with were cruising along at a speed much higher than this. It is, after all, a freeway. Perhaps freedom means different things to different people. To me, the FREEway means I have the FREEdom to drive over 35 miles per hour. And isn’t a “maximum” speed limit really the state’s way of saying, “This is the speed you should drive. Try not to go much faster but definitely don’t drive slower.”

As I feel my left eye begin twitching, I remember the mantra.

“We’re all in this together.”
“We’re all in this together.”

So “together” we enter the freeway at a dangerously slow speed. “Together” we make other drivers slam on their brakes and swerve around us. “Together”, perhaps, we’ll embrace our fiery deaths when a semi plows into us from behind, unable to slow down in time.

I say it again, louder this time. “We’re all in this together.”

Now I’m yelling, “WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER….WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER….” Then I snap, “SINCE ‘WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER’ YOU’VE GOT TO PULL YOUR FREAKING WEIGHT!”

Needless to say, the mantra didn’t work. I now find taking a nice deep breath, relaxing my shoulders and remembering that we all make driving mistakes help keep me calm. Hey, the mantra works for you and replacing the freon in my air-conditioning with nitrous oxide works for me. Potato – Po-tah-to.

Posted by Halcyon at 04:19 AM | Comments (4)

October 26, 2003

I Love The "I Love The..."


I love the “I love the…” Specials on VH1.

It’s true.
I *heart* VH1.

There was a time when I was young and blue-balled that I would have gagged - not only on a spoon – but on the thought of watching VH1.

I mean, VH1 was the lame-ass home of Stevie Nicks and Sting. A lukewarm stew of soft rock and non-offensive melodies. NOBODY cool would watch that.

But something changed.
Sometime around the time that MTV sold its musical soul to reality TV, I grew into the VH1 demographic.

“Pop-Up Video” was probably the first taste of VH1 brilliance. But the “I love the 70s” and “I love the 80’s” shows are truly audio-visual heaven.

Television has finally realized it’s true potential.

VH1 has re-constructed my childhood memories and packaged each year into a 30 minute capsule.

Do you realize what this means!?

No longer do I have to use moderation when using brain cell destroying drugs.

No longer to I have to worry about amnesia when hitting myself in the head with a bat.

VH1 has kept a video diary of my childhood -- a “hard drive backup” of my youth.

Should I ever need to remember something I’ve forgotten (or re-program a clone) I can just watch the appropriate episode.

I suppose it is *somewhat* scary that so many of my childhood memories can be traced back to commercials, TV shows, and popular toys. But they have always been my closest friends, anyways.


I suppose if I know that they will be making a “I love the 90’s”, “2000s”, and “2010’s”, then I can stop being such a packrat. I can put away the camera and throw out all the mementos I been keeping. I have peace of mind knowing that VH1 is archiving my life *for* me!

Best yet, I can start huffing gas since I no longer need those brain cells to remember my childhood!

“Goodbye,

(And if any VH1 employees are reading this, you can use that slogan for a price. Or just wait a few weeks til I’ve forgotten it.)

I *heart* VH1.

Posted by Halcyon at 11:36 PM | Comments (4)

October 21, 2003

Man vs. Stink Bug: The Eternal Struggle

I had only smoked pot a couple of times at this point in my life. I was definitely in my “experimental” phase of the drug. I’d like to say I was wearing a white lab coat and jotting down data on a clipboard, but in reality, my “research” more focused on what foods best suited the vicious “something salty-something sweet, something salty-something sweet” cycle of stoner snacking. Just when you’d had enough salty Fritos to shred your tongue raw, a sip of a cold, wet, chocolate milkshake would soothe your mouth and reset the cycle. This is how you spend $23 at Denny’s. They cater to the cycle. Sure, their corporate office may claim ignorance, but it’s no coincidence that the entire menu is in photos and the French fries are on the same page as the key lime pie.

I was home from college on winter break and I had never been high at home, and definitely not in front of my parents. Coincidentally, some of my high school friends had also picked up this admirable thirst for drug knowledge while away at school. They were more than happy to further my research. I had been dropped off by my friends/accomplices after an evening of testing the disorienting effects of marijuana on the 18-year-old brain (perhaps the first study of its kind?). Before I went inside, I briefly prayed that my parents would be asleep. Then I prayed that we still had cookie dough in the fridge from the night before. Then I wondered how long I had been standing outside in the cold quietly praying for food.

Any confidence that I had walking up to the front door escaped me as I walked inside the house. I became hyper-aware that I most likely had blood-shot eyes, lazy speech and that I reeked of ‘wacky-tabacky’. “Well, my folks are probably asleep anyways…and if they’re not, I’ll just act natural. Like I would anytime I arrive home.” Ah, the simple reasoning of a stoned 18 year old.

With my stoner paranoia in check, I entered the house. I made it four steps before I ran into 1) My mother and 2) a big, black stink bug on the living room carpet. ‘OH SHIT,” my brain not-so-calmly noted. Okay, okay…what would I normally do if I saw a big, black stink bug on the living room carpet? My mind raced through all the files in my memory. Where is this particular situation filed in my brain? Under “Insects in the House?” Nope. Under “Carpet Issues?” Nothing. Under “Stoner Nightmares?” Not yet. I know why I can’t find anything in my memory on what to do when I come home and see a big, black stink bug on the living room carpet…BECAUSE IT HAS NEVER, EVER HAPPENED BEFORE.

So, what’s the logical thing to do? That’s right -- totally and completely freak out. Before I even greeted my Mom, I leapt into the air like an awkward and excessively aggressive ninja, landing with my right shoe squarely on top of the big, black stink bug on the living room carpet. WHAM! Was I done making an ass out of myself? Nope. Before I could grasp how bizarre I must have looked, I proceeded to jump up and down on this gooey mess of smashed beetle. WHAM, WHAM, WHAM! Each stomp of my foot as I jumped up and down on the long-dead bug was more damning to how insane I had become.

The dangerous and wily beetle was no more. I was victorious. My house was safe again. Yet my bravery had been overlooked. No one congratulated me on my martial arts skill or extermination technique. No one swooned at my heroic stomping. My weary, red-eyes only made it painfully clear that I needed to sit down, regroup and perhaps have a root beer float with rainbow sprinkles.

I looked up at my Mom. She sort of tilted her head like a puzzled dog would. Or like you would when your normally sane son repeatedly stomps a big, black stink bug into your living room carpet. I grabbed a paper towel and began to wipe up the ground in remains of this poor bug – a bug that just happened to catch me on the wrong night. Her smirk made it clear that she was “on to me”…or maybe her smirk said, “Yes, there is more cookie-dough in the fridge.” Either way, the ordeal was over. She kindly let me be and I replayed the incident in my head wondering how I didn’t pull a muscle.

On the plus side, I now have a file in my memory in case I run across a big, black stink bug on the living room carpet again. Unfortunately, it involves me freaking out and ruining the carpet.

Here's a Picture of the Fearsome Stink Bug

Posted by Kaya at 06:44 PM | Comments (8)

Virgin

I want to tell you about a gay experience I just had.

Um…perhaps that sentence is misleading.
There is no whisker burn in my recent history.
No manly muscles taut against my skin.
No maleflesh has breached my portals.

The experience wasn’t sexual.
Well, not really.

I’m helping redesign a gay website.
So, although not *physically* sexual, it is still somewhat of a gay experience.

Quite frankly, it was the most “intimate” interaction with gay porn I’ve had to date. I’ve learned that its one thing to walk by a neighbor’s open doorway and see a gay porn movie playing on the VCR inside…its an entirely different situation to spending hours blowing up and cropping hi-resolution images of erect phallus.

The reason I am doing this penile processing is because I have been hired to do so through my consulting firm. My “services” were needed because the site was created and maintained by a company who has no gay staff.

Luckily, I’m close enough.


Even with non-porn projects, there are a lot of intricacies to designing a web site for someone other than yourself. But it is very often a part of the art of web design. One of the first questions I ask any client is “Who is the target?”
You need to know who will be seeing this and what do you want to convey to them.
Perhaps the target is a banking customer who will want to find his balance fast.
Perhaps the target is a potential customer who wants to know if you carry that sweater in green.
Perhaps the target is a casual surfer looking for sports scores.

In this particular project, the target is horny gay men. And the objective is to give them an erection.

Well, that is over-simplifying it. The objective is to get enough blood to go to their dick that they think, “my masturbation will be far more enjoyable if I have access to the content in the members area of this site.” (Hopefully, the loss of blood flow to the brain will make them easy to sway.)

It seems simple, but the art of Membership-based porn sites is vastly more complicated than you would suspect.
For example, I often hear designers mocking the crappy designs of porn sites. But what the designer’s ego often forgets is that the goal of the design is not to impress the surfer with elegance or beauty….but to get that surfer to plunk down his credit card. (I could say “his or her credit card” but, c’mon…who are we kidding?)

Sometimes an ugly design is be far more effective than a beautiful one. Kinda like how a gap in between a strippers teeth can sometimes make her 10X sexier than the girl with 5K in orthodontia behind her flawless grill.

You see, people have a deep psychological connection with their porn. For some people, they *need* to feel like it’s dirty. And for those people, a beautiful, clean design robs the naked pictures of their prurient value.
On some level they “want* to feel like a dirty, raincoat-wearing perv.
Think about it: Why did Pee-Wee jerk off in a public theatre when he could so easily have watched the film in privacy and safety? Because our porn desires are tied deeply to our psyches.

What does this have to do with my gay website redesign? If crappy design sells, why bother re-doing it?

Good question and it leads us to one of the most interesting elements in the art of porn design. Which niches will react to which style of design? As a designer, should your “Teen” site (18+ of course) be pink and blue and use bubble letter sorority font and have flowers? Or should you evoke the bleek vibe of 19 year old Ingrid – big bussomed and desperate for rent money in Eastern Romania?

The answer is both. Different strokes for different folks. One of the reasons why you get so many pop-ups is because the porn affiliates who market sites are rolling the dice in hopes that they will throw up some image or phrase that will trigger your reptilian boner mechanism.

Maybe the girl reminds you of an ex. Or your mom. Or maybe the particular curve of that woman’s breast ignites something in your subconscious.

The internet has done many things. But nothing so effectively as defining hundreds of bizarre sexual niches, and exploring the infinite variations within each. Porn used to evoke the thought of Playboy magazine or “Deep Throat.” Now we know that a man’s porn tastes are as varied as snowflakes.


Since I am a man who has a number of these triggers deep inside (and has consumed more than my share of pornography), I feel somewhat comfortable working with these elements in designing porn sites.

But the challenge becomes interesting when the trigger is not understood.
I.e. one of my clients runs a site called, “Wetscape.” It is a site for people into urine. (aka golden showers, pissing, or water play) Now, what exactly is the kink? What triggers the arousal? Is it the flow of urine? The wet clothing being soiled? Is it being pissed on by a woman or seeing her being pissed on by someone else?

Maybe it is the similarities to that cloudy afternoon in 3rd grade when 6th grader Randy Jacobs hopped over the divider of the urinal next to mine and…. You get the point.

Of course it is all of these for different people. BUT, and here is where it gets difficult, what are the trigger images, elements within each of these scenarios? What about being pissed on makes it magic? The expression on her face? The position of her body? The pattern of wetness in the fabric?

The fact that it reminds of that day in

These things are hard to fake. It takes a true aficionado to know this. And this is where much porn falls short (and why I have been hired to re-do a gay site)

The situation is much like the corporate punkers that were popular in late 80’s movies.
In every bar or “underground” scene there would be the guys with the over exaggerated punker elements like a dangling earring, a cutoff jeans jacket, and an anarchy symbol painted on by a costume department staffer following a sketch. They were so obviously not outfits put together by an angst filled youth who wanted to burn down the world.

And anybody watching the movie who knew anything about angst filled punkers could see right through the poseur punker actors.

The same is true with faking a fetish. The true fetishists will see right through you.


I fear that the same may be true with faking a gay website.
Although, I don’t really think I am faking gay. I am simply trying to appeal to the gay aesthetic. An aesthetic that I appreciate and (with the right number of beers) can be turned on by.

But from a project success standpoint, I worry that my straight-ness only allows me to appreciate certain aspects of the gay aesthetic.

For example, I found that all the photos I was selecting to use were of smooth, muscular models. No twinks, no bears, no amateur. In fact most were pretty circuit boys that should be on a speaker at the white party. (If you know what those are, you can not check the “heterosexual” box with a clear conscience.)

Will this find its market within the gay porn surfers?

And, if I let the dilemma evolve into a personal mindfuck: Did I select those particular pics because they contain gay attributes that could appeal to a straight guy (hairless, pretty boys) OR am I merely highlighting MY OWN gay fetish?

*sigh*

Visiting a glory hole would be so much simpler.
***

gay redesign draft #1
gay redesign draft #2


Posted by Halcyon at 06:55 AM | Comments (12)