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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fifty Shades of Leather: Corbin Milk in the BDSM World


The success of the best-selling novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” has surprised a lot of people, and, while I’ve not read it myself, I assume it plays upon the occasional fantasies many people have about kinky sex.  In 2005 I had the lead in a community theater production of the play “Deathtrap” and the script called for the living room (the only set) to be decorated with instruments of torture.  As is happened I have a friend who is a straight woman, called “Mistress Athena” in the leather world, and she was kind enough to loan the theater some whips and metal restraints for use as wall hangings.  Through her I came to learn a good deal about the leather world, which is very different from what those not part of it believe. 

Mata Hari
That knowledge came in handy when I was writing my latest novel (not yet published, but soon) called “Corbin Milk.”  The plot concerns a gay CIA agent, a handsome bodybuilder, who the CIA sends on assignments where gay intrigues give him access to international secrets not available through more conventional means.  In effect Corbin Milk is the gay version of Mata Hari (a famous female spy in the early twentieth century who used her sexual wiles to gather information right up until she was shot by the French).  My novel has three sections reflecting different adventures Corbin has, but the second of these requires him to pose as an experienced leather Top in order to bring down a man who is trying to establish a dictatorship in Russia.  This man, named “Maksim Tarasov” in the novel, is secretly gay and when the CIA discovers him using the internet to find a leather Top, Corbin must undergo a crash course to learn that role so as to meet Maksim Tarasov in Amsterdam for an assignation with “Master Maas,” the name Corbin uses in their email exchanges.  Corbin is trained in the USA by “Barbara,” a woman I modeled on Mistress Athena, and while he’s usually a fast study, the task of becoming a leatherman in a very short period of time proves daunting.  In other blog posts I’ve printed various excerpts from “Corbin Milk” to make points [Corbin discovers he’s gay at age five in “Choose To Be Gay, Choose To Be Straight,” falls in love in both “The Thunderbolt” and “Seducing Straight Men,” and, lastly, his romantic partner George endures trying to change his sexual orientation in “How To Change a Gay Person Into a Straight Person,” see Related Posts below], but in the two segments from the novel below contain some of his exploration of the incredible world of BDSM (bondage, domination, sadism, masochism).  

            “I’ve read the books and watched the videos you’ve given me,” Corbin told Barbara, “and I have a vague idea of what I’m doing, but feel like I’m missing something important. Do you know what I mean?”
            She nodded. They were sitting on a leather ottoman in her dungeon, and she’d been giving him lessons on how to use a flogger.

            “Yes. You still don’t understand what’s really going on, so you’re just going through the motions like an actor who’s memorized the part but doesn’t yet understand it.”


            “All right. Let’s start over. When most people learn there are men and women in a BDSM world, they’re repulsed by the notion, and they don’t want to hear anything more. They picture sadists grabbing innocent passersby on the street, tying them up, and doing horrible things to them. There are sadists out there—my guess is that Tarasov, in his professional life, is one—who are like that. But sadists in the leather world have nothing in common with such psychopaths.”

            “And why not?”

            “Because leather folk are playing a game. They call their adventures ‘scenes,’ and their equipment ‘toys.’ Unlike real sadists, they’re not interested in unwanted pain. Do you know the motto of the leather world?”

            “‘Safe, sane, consensual,’” Corbin quoted. She’d taught him this, and it was featured in the books he’d been studying.

            “Note the word ‘consensual.’ There are people out there, bottoms, who are very attracted by the opportunity to explore their own pain, and are looking for a talented Top to help them out.”

            Corbin shrugged. “I guess I don’t understand that,” he said. “Why would anyone embrace his own pain?”

            Barbara stopped to think how to explain this to him.

            “Okay,” she said, after a bit. “Corbin, my boy, what you are experiencing is a failure of imagination,.”

            “Me?” Corbin was pretty sure he didn’t lack imagination. It was a defining characteristic.

            “Yes. You seem to think all sex must be traditional, and if someone’s doing something you’re not interested in, they must be wrong.”


            “Can you imagine that a married couple might think it fun to play role-playing games with each other? The housewife and the plumber, the millionaire and the maid, etc.?”

            Corbin smiled. “Of course.”

            “And in these games might some couples also think it fun to spank one another?”

            “Sure. It’s not something I’d enjoy, but others, sure.”

            “Then it’s just a matter of expanding that. Human beings do all sorts of things that other people shun. Some folks are interested in parachuting, some in knitting, some in bodybuilding, some in dogs, some in bowling, etc. If we all did the same thing, life would be monotonous. When it comes to sex, the same principle applies. Some people will only do missionary sex, man on top. Others will be more adventurous. Oral sex, anal, threesomes. The husband and wife with their spanking games, or power-exchanging games, are engaged in a minor league BDSM activity.”

            “But in the high powered version, people do get hurt.”

            “Hurt, but not harmed. That’s a big difference. It’s the ‘safe’ part of ‘safe, sane, consensual.’ The whole idea is to explore what the bottom is experiencing and wants. Flogging, for example, doesn’t start with pain. It starts with horsehair or doeskin—soft whips, applied lightly. The bottom who likes that wants more. It progresses. Pain is not always painful.”

            “Okay, an oxymoron. Explain that.”

            “When you rise from a cramped position and stretch, you feel the pain, but it still feels good to stretch, right?” He nodded. “Or,” she continued, “consider a massage. In some versions, the masseuse works up to a rough physical manipulation that is both pleasurable and painful at the same time. That’s what is happening in a good S/M scene. The Top takes the bottom to the edge of the line between pain and pleasure and keeps him there. The endorphins get to endorphing, and a good time is had by all.”

            “What does the Top get out of it?”

            “Many things. Some, but not all, leather Tops truly are sadists: they take pleasure in another person’s consensual pain.”


            “Oh? Consider boxing. Lot of consensual pain, and an audience full of the sorts of sadists I’m describing. Or football. Weren’t you a football player in college? Was there a part of you, a masochist part, that enjoyed the pain?”

            Corbin shook his head decidedly. “I don’t want to go there,” he replied

            “Then don’t criticize those who do. But many in the BDSM community are not turned on by pain, and don’t want it as part of their scenes. Most are there because the domination/submission power exchange enthralls them.”

            Corbin smiled. “Well, that does start to interest me. Taking control over someone else. Having things my way with someone who enjoys doing exactly what I tell him to do. That’s a much more universal urge, I suspect.”

            “Probably genetic.”


            “Sure. Think of a tribe of gorillas. There’s one silverback that everyone knows is the absolute boss, and everyone else works to keep him happy, males and females alike. Helps the tribe stay organized—they’re programmed that way. So were our ancestors.”

            “Okay. I empathize with wanting to be the silverback gorilla, but what about the opposite? Why would anyone surrender completely to the will of another?”

            “Very strong urge, that one. Particularly for people who are in positions of power in real life. For them it’s often a great relief to make no decisions, to do what they’re told, to kow-tow completely to another person they trust. I threw a dungeon party once and was amused to discover that two of the bottoms were professional airline pilots, and one was a senior executive for a major soft drink company.”

            Maksim Tarasov,” Corbin commented.

            “Perfect example. That’s why he’s willing to fly to Amsterdam and sit at the feet of Master Maas.”

            Corbin grinned at her.

            “I can’t wait,” he said.

[After more training Corbin flies to Amsterdam and has two days to acquaint himself with the city (he’s suppose to be a native) before he’s to meet the Russian.  He decides to test his new persona and the things Barbara has taught him by visiting a local leather bar.]

            Corbin stood outside the entrance to The Chain Gang and took a deep breath. He was dressed in chaps over black jeans, white t-shirt, leather vest, and the black engineer’s boots, looking much like the photograph they’d sent to Tarasov. But now he was on his own. Or rather Master Maas was on his own.
            Silverback gorilla, Corbin said to himself, and opened the door.

            He’d been in gay bars before, of course, but they were not a favorite venue of his, even outside the leather community. Since his days in college he’d always found bars too loud, crowded, and smoky to constitute an enjoyable atmosphere. They were a great place to pick up a date for the evening, particularly if you were good looking and smiled a lot, but Corbin had plenty of ways of finding a willing sex partner that were far less complicated than a trip to a bar. Consequently, Corbin stayed away from bars unless he was with a group of friends who insisted he come along as they went out on the town.

            But this was different. Master Maas would come to such a bar for a number of purposes. He might want to look over the current crop of bottoms in an exciting tourist spot like Amsterdam. Or he might want to meet friends there, or even just to stand around and be admired for his supposed competence in the leather arena. Hell, he might just want a drink.

            Barbara had told him it was all a matter of dominance, so, as the door to the bar closed behind him, Corbin was transmogrified into Master Maas, experienced leather Top.

            There was a young man, black t-shirt, jeans, leather vest and boots, sitting just inside the door, obviously an employee of the bar, collecting the cover charge.

            “Goede avond, Meneer,” this individual said (“Good evening, Sir”), and Corbin nodded at him, with a smile.

            “Goede avond,” he replied. “How much?” he asked in English, was told the amount (roughly ten dollars American), paid it, and walked into the bar proper, looking around.

            This part of the bar was large and had multiple areas. To the left was a long bar counter, at which a number of men stood, singly or in groups, drinking, and cruising the other patrons. To the right was a big space containing a pool table, and beyond it a ramp rose to some mysterious venue. Straight ahead was a set of steps leading to another level.

            As he stood there looking around, muttering “Silverback gorilla,” Corbin realized he was attracting attention from various corners of the bar. Some men were curious, others smiling, some nudging a companion and making a gesture to look in his direction, and there was one group of men near the pool table who regarded him with great seriousness, almost hostility. These particular patrons were all wearing key rings on the left side, and/or had black handkerchiefs hanging from their left back pockets. This, Corbin knew, meant they were leather Tops. He had his own key ring and black handkerchief in the same spots. Obviously they thought of him as competition for the bar’s bottoms.

            Ignoring this cabal for the moment, Corbin turned to the area on his left, and gave his best Master Maas stare at each man there, one by one, not moving on until each, embarrassed or confused, looked away first. This was Barbara Yancy’s first rule of dominance. Make it clear from the moment you appear who’s in charge.

            Having done that, he gave them all a smile. One man in particular was exactly his type: big, muscled, and (because of his jug ears, flat nose, dominant brow) ugly in an appealing, masculine way. This man was staring at Corbin with undisguised desire. Corbin gave him his trademark wink, but then turned to the right to see what he could do about the four Masters standing there, watching him carefully.

            One by one, he stared them down, keeping his face blank except for the merest hint of a smile. As the last one turned away, Corbin walked over to them briskly.

            “Goede avond, heren,” he said (“Good evening, gentlemen”). “I am a foreigner in this exotic city,” he continued in English. “I wonder if you could please give me some help with orientation.”

            “Orientation?” said the smallest of them, a good looking strawberry blond in his forties. “We are all homosexuals, and I would guess you are too!”

            They all laughed, Corbin included.

            “Yes. Good guess. Very homosexual. What I meant was my need for help in understanding the layout of the bar, the local customs of the clientele, and suggestions on interesting things for a visting leatherman to do here in Amsterdam.”

            The ice broken, they all jumped in with suggestions, addressing each of these issues in turn. All of them spoke English well enough to participate, but Corbin noticed that the biggest, most muscular of the four, a black-haired, mysterious man in his late thirties, said the least. He was not as outgoing or friendly as the others, and he kept his eyes hooded as he took in all the details of Corbin’s appearance, his voice deep and low when uttering the few comments he made. When they introduced themselves, with Corbin calling himself simply “Maas,” this Top gave his name as Diederick.

            “What’s up the ramp?” Corbin asked, pointing.

            “The back room,” the blond said. “Very dark, many nooks and crannies. I know it will shock you, innocent American, but much sexual orientation goes on up there.” Again they all laughed.

            “And what’s at the top of the steps opposite the front door?”

            “That is the play area,” said one of the others.

            “Oh!” said Corbin. “I will certainly investigate that.”

            “Let’s show him now,” said the blond.

            So the five of them climbed the steps and walked into an area that was a sort of public dungeon, with a cross, chains, a meter high metal cage, a hoist, and a medical table. There was a small man hugging the cross (but not bound to it in any way), who was being flogged by another tall thin Top. The flogging was energetic, and had obviously been going on for some time.         Diederick put one hand on Corbin’s shoulder and waved the other at the dungeon equipment. He asked, “Will you be picking out a bottom and showing us what an American Top can do?”

            Corbin smiled. “I’m afraid that I left my toy bag back at my lodgings,” he replied. “Perhaps you could give us a demonstration of Dutch dominance.”

            “As you wish,” Diederick replied. “Excuse me a minute.” He went back down the stairs, passing some men coming up, one of whom was the jug-eared bottom who had attracted Corbin’s attention when he’d first come in. This individual walked right over to Corbin, spread his feet wide, put his hands behind his back, and lowered his head, saying nothing. Barbara had taught Corbin that this was the sign of a well-trained bottom who was offering himself to a Top.

            Corbin reached out a hand and raised the bottom’s chin. “Look at me,” he commanded. When the man did so, Corbin told him, “Tell us your name, boy.”

            “I am Sebastiaan, sir,” he said in perfect English.

            “You are quite beautiful,” Corbin commented. The man’s eyes widened.

            “Me? Everyone says I am misshapen in the face, sir.”

            “Are you contradicting me?” Corbin asked, a sharp edge to his voice.

            “NO, SIR!” Sebastiaan said in a loud voice, his head dropping down again, embarrassed at his faux pas.

            “I am Maas,” Corbin told him. “If I say you are beautiful, it means that you are beautiful to me. Repeat that.”

            “Master Maas says that Sebastiaan is beautiful to him.” And something in his voice suggested pride and pleasure in this exchange.

            Diederick returned, carrying a large leather bag, and leading a wiry thin man with curly brown hair, who he took over to the hoist. He put leather restraints on the man’s wrists, and then clipped the restraints to the hoist’s large iron hook. Pulling the hoist’s chain, he balanced the bottom delicately on the toes of his boots, his heels just barely off the floor. Diederick then pulled a signal whip from the bag, and proceeded to wrap the four-foot long single tail around the man’s legs, arms, and torso, slowly and sensually. A crowd had gathered to watch.

            The whipping then started in earnest, beginning with strokes the bottom could barely feel, and working up to ones that made him squirm and turn from the blows. Diederick kept the whip singing, and was quite skillful at hitting a moving target without touching any of the forbidden areas (the face, the neck, the kidneys, the spine). When the whip began to loudly crack as it broke the sound barrier time and again, the bottom first moaned and then yelped at each new lash.

            Corbin was impressed. This bottom could take a lot and enjoy it (something Corbin would have not thought possible a month ago), and Diederick’s skill was extraordinary. Corbin found himself thinking Barbara would be applauding both. Certainly Corbin himself was not capable of such a performance. Single tail whips of whatever length were very dangerous, and required years of practice to handle safely as Diederick was doing now.

            The scene finished with Diederick curling the whip gently around the bottom’s shoulders as he embraced him from the back, whispering congratulations in his ear, and then kissing him on the brow and cheek. When he was certain that the bottom was all right, he asked another man standing nearby to lower the chain. This done, Diederick released the bottom from his restraints, and the two men hugged each other tightly. Corbin noted that the bottom was shivering; he couldn’t imagine what the man was feeling.

            Finished, Diederick returned the whip to his bag, and then rejoined Corbin and the other three Tops.

            “You are a Master, indeed,” Corbin told him. “That was very impressive. I’ve never seen it done better.” Of course, in truth he’d never seen it done at all, but best to keep that unsaid.

            Diederick was quite pleased with this praise, and similar comments made by others. He held his toy bag out to Corbin. “Please,” he said. “Use anything you like for a demonstration of American leather play.”

            Corbin paused to consider this. “All right,” he said. “But something simple. May I examine the contents?” Diederick nodded, and Corbin put the bag on the medical table and pawed through it.

            Then Corbin turned to Sebastiaan. “Would you do me the favor of participating in a small scene?” he asked him.    

            Sebastiaan bowed slightly. “It would be my honor, Sir.”

            Corbin pulled the man’s t-shirt out from his leather pants, and quickly yanked it up and over the bottom’s head and arms. Sebastiaan’s very muscular chest was everything Corbin had hoped it would be. Two round silver rings pierced his nipples, and Corbin took one in each hand.

            “You had these installed so that a Master like me could play with them, isn’t that right?” As he said this he gave them each a twist, and Sebastiaan threw his head back, swallowing the pain, as he managed to squeak out, “Ja, Meester!

            “I am not your Master,” Corbin corrected. “That title that must be earned. Climb on the table and lie down, face up.”

            When Sebastiaan did this, Corbin took a blindfold from the bag and quickly fitted it over the bottom’s eyes. Corbin then turned to Diederick, and held up a shaving kit he had taken from a side compartment in the bag. “May I make use of things in here?” he asked.

            Diederick’s eyes widened. Why would Corbin want a shaving kit? But, amused, he nodded.

            Corbin leaned over Sebastiaan and, loud enough that the others could hear, said, “I know we’ve just met, but I need for you to trust me. What I am about to do to you may be frightening, but I assure you that you’ll rise from the table unharmed when I am done. Also, there are a large number of people watching us, and they would protest if they thought our play was unduly dangerous. Given all that, will you trust me?”

            Sebastiaan did not hesitate. “Yes, Sir,” he said in a clear voice.

            Corbin held up a toothbrush so that all could see what it was. Then he took Sebastiaan’s left arm by the palm of the hand and held it stretched out straight, away from the man’s body. “Try not to make sudden movements,” Corbin instructed him. “If the scene becomes too intense, say the word ‘Red,” and I will stop immediately. Do you understand.”

            “Ja, Meneer.”

            Corbin held the toothbrush so that the edge of the bristles on the side of the toothbrush just barely touched Sebastiaan. Starting on the exposed wrist itself, Corbin slowly began to draw the brush down the inside of the arm. Sebastiaan gave a small gasp at the sensation, but didn’t move. The crowd smiled and nudged each other. When, inch by inch, the brush had travelled down to the shoulder, Corbin stopped, walked around to the other side of the table, rubbing his free hand all across Sebastiaan’s magnificent torso, and repeated the toothbrush pull on the underside of the other arm, again starting again with the wrist.

            Corbin then ran the brush across Sebastiaan’s chest and down his bare sides, causing the man to squirm, at which point Corbin commanded, “Stay still, my beauty!” The brush was then very slowly drawn across Sebastiaan’s neck, making a circle around his Adam’s apple. A ripple of terror shivered through the man’s whole body.

            Suddenly, Corbin slashed the brush almost violently back and forth on the nipples, and Sebastiaan cried out, “RED, Meneer!”

            Corbin leaned over the table, rubbing his free hand gently on Sebastiaan’s broad pecs. “Are you all right, boy?” he asked.

            In a halting voice, Sebastiaan replied with an almost whispered question.

            Am I bleeding?

            This produced a laugh from the watchers, and Corbin stripped away Sebastiaan’s blindfold, holding up the toothbrush for him to see. “Terror by toothbrush,” he said, and Sebastiaan broke into a broad grin.

            “It’s true,” he confessed. “I was terrified! It felt like a knife!”

            Corbin gave him a big kiss, and then helped him from the table. He handed the toothbrush back to Diederick. “Perhaps this should be thoroughly washed before you use it again,” he suggested.

            Diederick laughed. “I think I’ll have it framed and hung up in my dungeon,” he said. “Or just throw it in with the other toys and use it your American way in the next scene I create.”

            At this point, Corbin and his new friends, including Sebastiaan, repaired to the bar downstairs for schnapps and beer. Corbin was much congratulated on having performed an original scene, and this led to quite a discussion of BDSM’s use of harmless objects in ways that would surprise their manufacturers. It got quite creative.

            After about 45 minutes, Corbin excused himself and went into the men’s room. As he was coming out again, he found Diederick standing in his path, blocking his way back into the bar proper.

            “Yes?” Corbin asked, confused. “A problem?”

            “You tell me,” Diederick replied. And very slowly he unclipped his key ring and then refastened it on the other side, followed by a similar switch of the black handkerchief to the other back pocket. The meaning was clear. He was now flagging the symbols of a bottom. He put his hands behind his back, spread his feet wide, and lowered his head.

            “No problem at all,” Corbin assured him, putting his hand on the man’s shoulder. “Come home with me now.”

Related Posts:
“The Thunderbolt,” September 3, 2010
 “How To Change a Gay People Into Straight People,” September 20, 2010
Choose To Be Gay, Choose To Be Straight,” January 25, 2011
“Seducing Straight Men,” March 3, 2011
“Good Sex, Bad Sex: Advice on Making Love,” November 9, 2011
“The Thrill of a Touch,” August 14, 2012
"Is '50 Shades of Grey' Demeaning to Women?" January 16, 2015;
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013

Monday, December 17, 2012

The End of the World: Mayans, Jesus and Others


This coming Friday, December 21, 2012, is reputed to be the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar, though the modern Mayans themselves don’t seem any too sure of this prophecy, and the whole thing is probably a misunderstanding (see below).  Nonetheless, the Chicken-Littles are making their usual “end of days” noises, and the silly season is upon us again.  Is there any scientific evidence of impending doom?  No.  Is there evidence of any kind that something about to happen other than hearsay and rumor?  No.  Has this nonsense happened before?  Oh yes!  Over and over and over again.  Let’s review the history of apocalyptic predictions.

Begin with the Bible.  In five different places Jesus is quoted as saying the world is about to end.  In Mathew 16:28 he assures his followers that “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."  Mathew 24:34 is similar: “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”  Mark 9:1: “And he said to them, "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power."  Luke 9:27: “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."  Finally here is Luke 21:32’s version of the same idea: “"I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”  When that didn’t prove true after all, St. Paul took up the theme and assured his followers that those then living would see the return of Jesus, and then when some of them died and his congregations became worried about this, he reassured them that those who died before Jesus returned (which was still imminent he claimed) would also participate in the heavenly events on the big day.  Then Paul himself died without his prediction coming true.  From that day until this the incipient return of Jesus has been prophesized century after century after century.  We’re still waiting.

Mr. Bockelson
In the 1500s the Anabaptists produced a leader named Jan Bockelson in the German city of Munster, and though but a humble tailor he promptly claimed to be the “Messiah of the Last Days,” until his excesses were so severe that in 1535 a siege of the city succeeded and his genitals were nailed to the city gates.

One of the most famous incidents involves the “Millerite” hysteria in the 1840s, when William Miller preached that Jesus was about to return, and thousands heeded his message, sold their belongings, climbed into the mountains, and waited for the rapture.  When it never came, even after Miller changed the dates a couple of times, you’d think his followers would have abandoned him, but no!  Instead the movement went on to become the Seventh-day Adventists.
Some Millerites Tried To Hide In a Safe

Jehovah’s Witnesses have an embarrassing history of proclaiming dates for the end of the world—dates that then have to be moved when they pass without the promised conflagration.  Jehovah’s Witnesses started  by naming 1799 as the year that would contain the finale, then had another major disappointment in 1874 (which they covered by saying that Jesus had in fact come back, but mysteriously did so invisibly! —you can’t make up things this nutty).  The year 1914 was nominated next, and since then the predictions of the Jehovah’s Witnesses have gotten so vague as to be uninteresting.

In the 1970s and 1980s there were bestsellers predicting the end of the world: Hal Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth” (naming the day as coming before the end of 1988), and a supporting book from Edgar Whisenant called “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988.”  When that didn’t happen Whisenant kept moving the day (as Miller had back in the 1840s), first to 1989, then 1993, then 1994, and then he gave up and just lived, finally dying in 2001 (eleven years before the Mayans would have their shot at taking him out).

So now on to the Mayans, and this prediction is based on the end of one of the 28 Mayan calendars which quits at December 21, 2012.  But the Mayans didn’t mean that the earth would also end on that date, but merely that this particular calendar would then have to be tossed, just as we all toss last year’s calendar every January 1.  But, strangely, people apparently want to hear that the planet is facing doom, so reason and facts are unimportant.  Let’s riot just for the fun of it!

The earth does have a predictable end, or, more precisely, the sun does and when it explodes the radiation will take out the earth, leaving only miasma of subatomic particles.  The current calculation for this event is rough, but scientists book it at 20 to 30 billion years.  Of course by then we, the earthlings, may have moved on to a more hospitable solar system.  Let’s hope for that.
Related Posts:
“Catholicism and Me (Part One),” March 13, 2010
“Superstitions,”March 21, 2010
“Catholicism and Me (Part Two),” April 18, 2010
“How To Become an Atheist,” May 16, 2010
“Imaginary Friend,” June 22, 2010
“I Don’t Do Science,” July 2, 2010
“Explosion at Ohio Stadium,” October 9, 2010 (Chapter 1 of my novel)
“When Atheists Die,” October 17, 2010
"Escape From Ohio Stadium," November 2, 2010 (Chapter 2)
"Open Mouth, Insert Foot," November 21, 2010 (Chapter 3)
"Rock Around the Sun," December 31, 2010
"Muslim Atheist," March 16, 2011
"An Atheist Interviews God," May 20, 2011
"A Mormon Loses His Faith," June 13, 2011
"Is Evolution True?" July 13, 2011
"Atheists, Christmas, and Public Prayers," December 9, 2011
"An Atheist's Christmas Card," December 23, 2011
" Urban Meyer and the Christian Buckeye Football Team," February 19, 2012
"Intelligent Design, Unintelligent Designer?", May 12, 2012
"My Atheist Thriller: Another Book Reading," May 17, 2012
"'The God Particle' and the Vanishing Role of God," July 5, 2012
“Update: Urban Meyer and the NON-Christian Buckeye Football Team,” August 24, 2012
“Atheists Visit the Creation Museum,” October 4, 2012
“Mitt Romney: A Mormon President?” October 17, 2012
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Listen to Me Reading My Novel on the Radio


Since last spring I have been doing book readings from my atheist thriller “Imaginary Friend” in front of various atheist/freethinker/humanist groups in both Ohio and Michigan, but this past Sunday morning I performed the same reading on the air!  I was invited to be the only guest on KTNF in Minnesota for the weekly morning Atheist Talk radio show put on by Minnesota Atheists.  Both of the hosts, Carl and Brianne were terrific, and after the show they each wrote very helpful reviews of “Imaginary Friend” for my novel’s listing on (where it’s available in both a paperback and Kindle version).  Their picture is below, and I thank them for their efforts on behalf of my novel.  The sales in Minnesota picked up dramatically as a result.
Carl and Brianne of Atheist Talk Radio
If you’d like to hear the audio version of the show in which I perform the readings (in multiple voices, as various characters are talking, one of them with an Australian accent!) go to:

In addition to the readings from the novel, the broadcast also includes a discussion about when it’s appropriate to “come out” as an atheist, when you’ll live longer by keeping your mouth shut.
Me at a Live Book Reading
Of course for this show devoted to atheism, I only read two selections dealing with that topic (as my hero makes an ass of himself on national TV), but the novel itself is really a thriller, and has much excitement and dangerous situations in it (it begins with a terrorist attack on a football stadium—see the excerpts reprinted in “Related Posts” below).
Now if you want the whole thing, just visit Amazon, type in “Imaginary Friend Whaley” and the book is yours.  If you have an e-reader you can be reading the book in minutes.
Related Posts:
“Catholicism and Me (Part One),” March 13, 2010
“Superstitions,” March 21, 2010
 “Catholicism and Me (Part Two),” April 18, 2010
“How To Become an Atheist,” May 16, 2010
“Imaginary Friend,” June 22, 2010
 “I Don’t Do Science,” July 2, 2010
“Explosion at Ohio Stadium,” October 9, 2010 (Chapter 1 of my novel)
“When Atheists Die,” October 17, 2010
"Escape From Ohio Stadium," November 2, 2010 (Chapter 2)
"Open Mouth, Insert Foot," November 21, 2010 (Chapter 3)
"Rock Around the Sun," December 31, 2010
"Muslim Atheist," March 16, 2011
"An Atheist Interviews God," May 20, 2011
"A Mormon Loses His Faith," June 13, 2011
"Is Evolution True?" July 13, 2011
"Atheists, Christmas, and Public Prayers," December 9, 2011
" Urban Meyer and the Christian Buckeye Football Team," February 19, 2012
"Intelligent Design, Unintelligent Designer?", May 12, 2012
"My Atheist Thriller: Another Book Reading," May 17, 2012
"'The God Particle' and the Vanishing Role of God," July 5, 2012
“Update: Urban Meyer and the NON-Christian Buckeye Football Team,” August 24, 2012
“Atheists Visit the Creation Museum,” October 4, 2012
“Mitt Romney: A Mormon President?” October 17, 2012

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Snowbirding, My iPhone 5, and the Coming Crazy Cat Trip


As described before in this blog [see Related Posts below in “Doug Update: Health, Acting, Book Readings, and Snowbirding”], I’ve decided to snowbird in Wilton Manors, Florida (outside Ft. Lauderdale) for the first three months of 2013, my first experiment with a winter migration.  Any such move, of course, is filled with planning and headaches, but new adventures await, as well as old friends, sunny climate, and—by golly I’m hoping—a chance at meeting Mr. Right (see same post for more on that fantasy).  There’s much spinning around in my head each night as it hits the pillow.

I’ve just finished seven months of book readings for my atheist thriller “Imaginary Friend,” and am about to do a radio show this coming Sunday [9 a.m. CST, 950AM KTNF in Eden Prairie Minnesota] in which I will read selections from my novel and talk about when it’s appropriate to “come out” as an atheist.  The book sales have been going well (particularly on Kindle), and I’ll have more about that on my next post.  But I’ve contacted Floridian atheist groups, so perhaps these book readings (and sales too of course) will continue in southern Florida.
The move requires me to buy a number of things I’ll need for that three months, particularly a TV, a laptop, and a new cell phone (along with a whole household of goods: sheets, pillows, clothing, dishes, etc). 

The cell phone is the biggest issue for me since I have a long history of hating the evil devices and swearing that I would not get caught up in the current fashion of carrying one at all times, allowing it to rudely interrupt everything and everyone, texting, taking over my life.  I do currently own a tiny fliptop from Virgin which carries no monthly fee, is topped-up from time to time, and which I keep in the car for emergencies.  It astounds me when someone mistakenly calls me on it, because I don’t check it regularly and the annoying beep that occurs when I’m driving causes a deep frown to crease my normally cheery face.

But (deep sigh) yesterday I purchased an iPhone 5, put all my contacts on it, and even learned how to text.  I worry this “smartphone” will “dumbdoug” me as it has zillions of others, and I will become its helpless slave, babbling into it constantly, ignoring real life around me.  It’s not a happy prospect for a control freak, and I’m stealing myself to try and maintain a non-robotic status.  Pray for me.

The bigger difficulty is getting my cats, Mama and Barney, to Florida.  My original plan was to drive to Florida, leaving them temporarily behind until I had things set up for them in the Sunshine State, and then having friends put them on a direct flight to Miami.  But that plan changed when I took Mama to the vet for her yearly rabies shot in early November.  Normally Mama is in charge (or thinks she is), but I was surprised to discover that at the vet’s she was trembling, and clinging close to me—not at all the usual lioness that roams our home, commanding all she comes across.  I asked the vet about my plan to drug the cats at the last moment and then fly them down, and he said that was a bad idea (though often done in the past).  Last minute drugging is bad for cats, and can have major health consequences, not to mention the terror of the experience, drugged or not.  Hmm.  Barney, my other cat, has a heart murmur.  Instead the vet suggested a slow drugging process that means giving the cats an oral spray every day for eight weeks before departing, slowly calming them way down, then weaning them off of it once at the destination.  The problem with that is I will only be in Florida for three months, so the poor cats would first be slowly drugged, then weaned, then re-drugged, the re-weaned, all in a very short period, not at all a happy plan.  What to do?

I decided to take the cats with me in the car.  Let me repeat: I am driving major distances with two cats who have never taken a car trip before.  Yikes!

I said to myself that it would be cruel to put them in individual cat carriers for the duration of the trip, so now what?  I called up my handyman friend, a professional named Allan Holmes, and between us we’ve devised a cat cage, complete with litter box, that will take up a goodly portion of the back seat of my Prius.  Barbara Shipek [“The Woman Who Runs My Life”] arranged for me to find hotels that will take cats in the rooms in my two stop-over cities, and I’ve purchased disposable litter boxes for the trip.  What could go wrong?  Just to ask the question is to laugh uneasily.

If I were in my twenties I could do the drive in two days (as I actually did in my twenties, see “Buying Moonshine in the Wilds of Tennessee”), but at my advanced age it will take three days: Columbus to Charlotte, North Carolina, Charlotte to Jacksonville, Florida, and from there to Ft. Lauderdale.  The longest leg is the first one, and it takes me right through the State of West Virginia, which is beautiful but mountainous in the extreme.  The rumor is that West Virginia is the biggest state in the Union if you stomp it out flat.

And when am I making this trip through the West Virginia mountains?  In balmy summer? Oh, no!  I am doing the first week of January!  JANUARY!  Picture the happy scene: Doug, two cats, a Prius crammed with belongings, and the third book of “Game of Thrones” as an audiobook to keep my mind occupied if it wanders from the cats puking in the backseat or the car skidding near a precipice.
Stay tuned.
Related Posts:
“Dog Meat,” December 27, 2009
"Parakeets and Me," February 5, 2010
“Bears,” February 23, 2010
The Woman Who Runs My Life,” May 5, 2010
"Mama, Biopsies, and My iPad," May 19, 2010
Buying Moonshine in the Wilds of Tennessee,” July 23, 2010
"Teaching English to Cats," August 6, 2010
"The Purring Heart," November 23, 2010
"The Dogs In My Life," April 18, 2011
"My Parents and Dummy," May 13, 2011
"Two Cat Stories: Mama and Barney in the Wild," July 9, 2011
"Zoo Stories," August 30, 2011
“Mama Cat Saves My Life,” October 23, 2011
"Stepping on Cats," February 8, 2012
“Long Lost Cousin at Flamingo Crossing,” March 31, 2012
Doug Update: Health, Acting, Book Readings, and Snowbirding,” September 9, 2012
"Barney Cat and the Big Mammal Nightmare," January 7, 2013