The Honest Tease?

Imagine an ironic love machine. In private, I tease you. I mean all the off color things I say about you. And, depending upon the kind of person you are, you love every word, not because they are complimentary (often times they aren’t and when they are- completely double edged and ambiguous) but because I couldn’t have made these contentious remarks at all if I wasn’t completely and utterly fascinated by you. And ‘fascination,’ you might come to realize, is a far purer ante-cedent to affection than simple ‘approval’ or ‘agreement.’

I am changing everthing already.

Coincidence is the law of synchronicity. 

 Just yesterday, not a week and a half after I re-commit to this blog, a friend of mine who works in publishing made contact with me to suggest starting a blog as a method of launching my nascent academic career in literary studies. In his words, a tightly branded blog, with a clear theme, linked with like-minded blogs, would get me ‘involved in a conversation’ about an issue/field that I care about. This academic, career oriented blog, however, would have to be tighty focused in terms of subject matter (no stories about Grandma Arlene) and sport a professional tone. (No instant message transcripts where I use the word ‘tit’ . . . alot). So, this led me to the idea of producing not one but three, dinstinct, goal oriented blogs. . .

1. “The Honest Tease” would become the Sedaris-style confessional – where I tell funny stories, muse obnoxiously and wax hysterical about inconsequential stuff.

2. An academic blog with a focus on critical and cultural theory. I am thinking “From Zero to Theory” or “On The Shoulders of Giants” . . . Any suggestions?

3. And a nerd culture blog for my super-hero suff. This, of course, would have a lot of cultural theory involved. But, again, with a tighter focus on the Geoff Klock, Sequart, American Studies set. Name to be determined. “Crashed Carrier,” maybe? 

 Comments? Suggestions?


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A Mouth Only A ‘Grandmother Arlene’ Could Love.

This weekend, Grandma Arlene took me to get my wisdom teeth removed.

Here are some of the more emasculating high-lights:

1. As the Novocain needle juts into my gums and rubbery numbness coats the left side of my mouth, I can hear Grandma talking to the nurses in the next room.
“He’s tried to get a job in the City. Nobody is hiring. Do you know any law firms that need . . .?“

2. After the procedure, my mouth is numb and bloody. The doctor instructs me to bite down on a swab of gauze covering the wound so as to promote healing and control bleeding. As you would imagine, speech is uncomfortable if not impossible. As we enter the car, however, my Grandma, like a gold fish, can’t seem to remember the condition of my mouth explained to her five minutes before and keeps asking questions that require answers beyond that of a chin nodding ’yes’ or head shaking ’no.’
“So how did they do it, Ant? What did they use? Did they use pliers? What did they use?”
For this, I have but one weapon available to me; Tyra Banks’ “Dead Eye.” Grandma gets the hint and says:
“Oh, okay, you can’t talk. . . “
We listen to the radio for awhile until my Grandmother’s cell phone rings. It is my mom. My Grandma begins to tell my mom about the operation. And then, inexplicably hands the phone to me: “It’s your mother, tell her how you are feeling. . . . “
I once again call upon the silent language of “America’s Next Top Model” and “Smile With My Eyes.”
“Oh, you can’t talk still? Okay. Sherry,” she says taking the phone back to her mouth, “He says he can’t talk still. Do you want him to call you when we get home?”

3. Before we go home, Grandma graciously takes me to the A&P in order to stock up on soft, cool food stuffs fit for my haggard mouth. As we wheel twin shopping carts full of protein drinks and Activia yogurt back to the car, my Grandmother, apropos of nothing, says:
“Do you know how much that operation cost me?”
When I don’t answer, my Grandmother yells: “Huh? Do you know how much that cost me? It cost me so much I can’t even kill you anymore. It would waste too much money!”
And that is when my Grandmother loses control of her shopping cart and lightly crashes into an oncoming Hyundai.
“Sorry!” She yells. When the car moves on, she says: “Look what you made me do!”

4.  9 a.m. the next morning I am sleeping. My Grandmother walks into my bedroom, stands over my bed and looking at my unconscious body says, “Do you want to sleep still?”
When, still asleep, I don’t answer, she asks again, “Do . . YOU . . WANT . . TO . . . SLEEP . . . STILL!?!?!”
At this point, I wake up. Noticing I am conscious, she asks: “Do you want to sleep still?”

5. On the second day, in order to prevent infection, the doctor prescribes a salt rinse about every three hours. Grandma Arlene, for reasons known by none [especially not herself], becomes maniacally fixated on the salt rinse and institutes a Draconian schedule to insure its regular implementation.

However, not even Arlene’s inexplicable obsession with salt-as-health can compensate for her tragicomic loss of short term memory. On the third interval of scheduled rinsing, I am on the toilet. Though we are in a one-bedroom apartment and my whereabouts can be determined through a simple process of elimination (not in the kitchen, not in the bedroom. . . ), Grandma decides to yell:
“ANT! Where are you!?!?! Where the hell did you go!?!?! YOU NEED TO —”
Grandma, mid-Banshee call, has forgotten the words “salt and rinse.” Not one to be stopped by mere Alzheimer’s, Arlene begins to yell – “You need TO DO YOUR MOUTH!!! Come on! DO YA’ MOUTH!!!”
When I get out of the bathroom my Grandma is incensed. “Where WERE you!?!? You need to -”
“’Do my mouth,’ Grandma?” I ask with a facetiously arched eye brow.
“Yeah, what is it called?”
But I am too busy gurgling to answer her.

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Incontrovertible Proof of Asshole-Ness: A Conversation Between Our Own “Tony Eats Puppies” and’s “Stella Glass.”

“The Love That Does Not Know Its Name.”

Tonyeatspuppies: How should I refer to you in my blog? I have you as “ASHLEY,” “Ashley McCUNTRAGZ,” but maybe I should use your blog handle?

Stellaglass: Yeah. And then link to

Tonyeatspuppies: What is your handle?

 Stella Glass: Stella Glass.

 Tonyeatspuppies: Sounds thin!

 Stellaglass: I know! It motivates me to reach my goal weight!


“Two Assholes, Fat and Thin.”

Tonyeatspuppies: [in a chirpy, cheerful fat girl voice] “Staying thin is okay for you, but I prefer to stay a ‘size ME.’”

 Stella Glass: HAHA!

 Stella Glass: [in a self righteous but really kind of defensive fat girl voice] “Hey, maybe I’m not perfect, but I’m a perfect ‘size ME’!”

 TonyEatsPuppies: Oh, fat people. . . What WILL you come up with next!? Will up be the ‘new down?’

Stella Glass: I know! Tell me the one about how your FAT thighs are beautiful, FAT GIRL!

 Tony Eats Puppies: Okay, here I go, [Desperately trying to be ‘sassy and sexy’ fat girl voice] “In some cultures, ‘cottage cheese’ is the preferred consistency of flesh!”  Wink Wink, growl!!!!!

Stella Glass:  [Any fat girl voice used above – Choose your favorite fat girl!] “Guys like it because it reminds them of food . . . and they LOVE eating!”

Tony Eats Puppies: Guys like it if when you are naked, your vagina isn’t obscured with stomach flesh because vaginas remind them of fucking . . . and they LOVE fucking!

Stella Glass: LOL You are the dev-ill!

 Stella Glass:  You are the voice of my most wrenching insecurities.

 Tony Eats Puppies: Don’t put your mother out of a job, now.  I’m your ‘personal Jesus,’ Judith.

 Ashley:  Judith! Judith!  Judith!


“Stella Glass and Tony Eats Puppies Reflect on the Sarah Lawrence College Creative Writing Program” or, alternately, “Two Assholes Work a Lame Metaphor to Death.”

Tony Eats Puppies: I am writing a blog about not being able to write. It’s pretty ‘meta.’ Prepare to be fascinated!

Stella Glass: I’m salivating, literarily speaking! That’s actually a really good way to get unblocked

Tony Eats Puppies: You said it! I can feel my flow getting heavier with each stroke of the key board. 

 Stella Glass: Some of my most publicly lauded works have come from that place.

Tony Eats Puppies: “That place. . . ” Snicker. Snicker.

Stella Glass: [in a nasal, self important, deluded SLC creative writing student voice] “You know, like , as a writer, I find that growing my work organically in the garden of my spirit and really approaching language from a place of genuine untarnished authenticity is what gives rise to some of my most resonant work. . . .”

“But that’s just me.”

Tony Eats Puppies: Good one. Sarah Lawrence Creative Writing was all about agriculture.  My class with Carolyn Ferrell was like ‘Green Acres’ or some shit. I, of course, was the Zsa Zsa.

Stella Glass: [the SLC creative writing voice again] “I don’t like to think of myself as a writer. I mean, everybody writes! My step-mom WRITES grocery lists for our maid. I prefer to think of myself as someone who nurtures stories, like a Word Farmer, almost!”

Tony Eats Puppies: Yeah, you were the only one in our class who came to workshop with seeds.

 Stella Glass: And a rake!

Tony Eats Puppies:  “Little did I know, I’d be the one who would ‘grow’ from the experience!”

Stella Glass: LOL! “Little did you know that my speech was the vitamin d you needed to galvanize the photosynthesis of our writing process!”

Tony Eats Puppies: [Sarah Lawrence College faux-Robin Williams Creative Writing Teacher voice] “You know what? I think this rough draft is SHIT!”

  “And by ‘shit,’ I mean . . .”

  “The fertilizer out of which you are going to grow a really, really awesome story!”


 Stella Glass: HAHAHAHA.

 Tony Eats Puppies: “We nurture our writers with laughter!”


“Stella Glass and Tony Eats Puppies Remember An Old School Chum.”

Stella Glass: Totally. Mockery was the soul food that I fed “Autumn Trees” for an entire semester,and look at her now!

Tony Eats Puppies: Uggh, I’d rather not look at her at all. . . .

Stella Glass:  You and me both my friend!!!

Tony Eats Puppies: I just remember our first “Coming Out Dance,” carrying her drunken ass up the hill when her tit flopped out at me.

Stella Glass: HAHAHHAHA

Tony Eats Puppies: And she was crying and moaning. . . And drooling.

Stella Glass: That did NOT happen! HAHAHAHA

Dude, I can’t stop laughing.

Tony Eats Puppies: And, what’s more, she REFUSED to return the tit to its proper receptacle. She insisted on staring at me with that third, pink eye!!!



“Remembering An Old School Chum: Part Deux” or “Look How Stella Can’t Roll With Her Own Metaphor.”

Stella Glass:  She just let her tit hang out?

Tony Eats Puppies: All of it, the entirety of a single boob.

 Like a pale, dry, spotted tongue

 Stella Glass: Ew, I bet it was an awful beached whale of a tit too!

 Tony Eats Puppies:  It was like that scene in the CRAFT when NANCY goes crazy at the beach.

Stella Glass:  Yeah, but Nancy’s tit doesn’t come out.

 Tony Eats Puppies: No, idiot, but she beaches all those sea mammals.

 Stella Glass:  Oh riiiiiiight.


 Tony Eats Puppies: The tits are the beached whales. It’s the metaphor you started.

 You are so dumb sometimes.


“Remembering Another School Chum:  This Time, No Boob.” 

 Stella Glass: Dude, that night I spent the wee hours with “Lady Priest” as she drunkenly sobbed on the hillside about wanting a boyfriend and all else that was wrong with the world . . .

 Tony Eats Puppies: Isn’t she a lesbo now?

 Stella Glass: Well, she’s dating a chick, last I heard. But that was a while ago

 Tony Eats Puppies:  Either way – Irony alert!!!

 Stella Glass:  Yeaaahhh!!!!

 Tony Eats Puppies: “Lady Priest” is officially the one thousandth spoon after we’ve needed a knife.

Stella Glass: What?

Tony Eats Puppies: It’s a reference to Alanis Morrisette’s  “Ironic.”

Stella Glass:  Oh jeez, I’m not sorry about missing that reference.


“Stella Glass and Tony Eats Puppies Take a Moment to Contemplate the Future.

 Stella Glass: When does “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” premiere?

Tony Eats Puppies: Not soon enough.

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On Writing/Reading: Why I Haven’t Written on This Blog. . .


Ever since My Gal Friday, Stella Glass, first bullied me into setting up a blog, I’ve had one lame excuse after another for not writing on it. Of course, for awhile, I was studying for the GRE in LITERATURE. This, to be fair, merited a lot of time and concentration. I had to skim and cram somethin’ like the curriculum of an Undergraduate English Major in a self-study plan of my own haphazard and under informed design, but, this being said, even while I was studying, I always seemed to make time to work out (It’s not optional, where I live and, besides, the voices won’t let me stop.) and keep up with each week’s new comic books (GREEN LANTERN: THE BLACKEST NIGHT is getting hot, y’all.).

And even after the test, my first exercises of freedom were not to blog or even write at all. Instead, I found myself re-vamping, re-invigorating and re-fitting my job search (A resume-a-day, keeps the recession away.) and, well, reading even more (I finally had to time to sit down and finish Charles Dickens’ A TALE OF TWO CITIES and George Eliot’s ROMOLA). And, presently, as I am finishing the research for and beginning to compose my all important PhD application writing sample, there still seems to be a hesitation to write. This stands in stark contrast to my tendency to read which I can almost describe as increasingly compulsive (That copy of Jonathan Franzen’s THE CORRECTIONS my Grandma gave me keeps LOOKING at me.)

My relationship to literature, if you couldn’t tell, is important to me. And ideally, I think, at least for me, there should be a sympathetic or positive feedback relationship between reading and writing. Reading should fuel, inspire and teach me how to write, and writing should give me perspective with which to read. Reading should give me new “raw material” in the form of novel concepts, ideas and thoughts, and writing should refine my understanding of those concepts, help me re-conceptualize those ideas and, hopefully, strengthen my own thought. Reading should be a part of writing and writing should be a part of reading. So, it stands to question, if my theory of reading/writing is, to pick a droll metaphor, ideally versatile, how did I become such a literary bottom?

It wasn’t always this way. When I was 12, I wasn’t much of a reader. Although I read super-hero comics faithfully, I was too engrossed in kenpo karate and Final Fantasy to pick up a book without pictures. Who I was in seventh grade gave little presentiment of the voracious literary omnivore I am today. But, interestingly enough, apart from my undergraduate career at Sarah Lawrence where I was practically typing on the toilet, seventh grade was my most prolific writing period. Although I read nary a book at all and hardly did homework, I was religious about writing a journal, spent interminable hours at my brand-new IBM writing dozens of pages of plots for my thinly veiled “X-Men” knock-off, “The Neo Men,” and kept a pen pal in Colorado my correspondence with whom quite cannily tracked the intricacies of The X-Men’s time-travelling, paradox ridden continuity. In Science Class, in lieu of a research paper, I wrote a monstrous 15 page sci-fi story that spanned from the Triassic period all the way to the far flung future. [Spoiler: Dinosaurs ruled both!]  Looking back, I was a promiscuous, vigorous creative and expository writing top who-would-not-stop.

It was at Sarah Lawrence, really, that I was trained to read at the rate that I do now. Every class required read at least a book a week, sometimes two. And it was at Sarah Lawrence that I struck the greatest balance between reading and writing. (Go Gryphons!) The academic curriculum there was simple; gorge on literature, philosophy and theory for two weeks and then write a 12-15 page paper about it. The rhythm of it was intoxicating. My time at Sarah Lawrence defined my ideal of reading/writing as positive feedback. Add to that, my creative writing class, where I wrote obscenely self congratulatory bio-fiction about the life of “a young gay intellectual, college co-ed finding self” and you could pretty much see how I was achieving the versatile ideal with sweaty, concupiscent zeal.

But this is where things changed. After graduating Sarah Lawrence and going to NYU for grad school my curriculum shifted. I was called upon to read essentially all day every day for a semester and then spend two weeks doing nothing but writing.  A similar turn of the screw happened in law school where I read even more (or maybe it just seemed like more) and wrote almost nothing at all.  Looking back, I can see that my conditioning changed; changed past any sort of balance between writing and reading. This trend of the shifting ratio of writing to reading is clear enough.

Less clear, are the subtle ways my writing, irrespective of reading, has changed. From Sarah Lawrence, to NYU and, even through law school, I have found that my writing process has become increasingly rigorous and meticulous. At Sarah Lawrence, my literary theory teacher broke me down and built me back up in terms of composition. Papers were to be written according to a clearly defined structure. Thoughts were to be controlled and given expression on the page with a sober pen. In law school, my legal writing teacher performed a similar process wherein my writing was refined in such a way to make my ideas as clear and unencumbered as possible. My tendencies for baroque language and circuitous sentence structure were dismantled and replaced by a system of seemingly endless drafting that widdles down my language to the perfect edge of meaning. As a result, I think, I have a more controlled, puissant, forward moving style of writing. But although my writing is, perhaps, as a whole, clearer in elocution and more dexterous in style than ever before, the process of writing has become torturous. It is as if every time I write, I bring to bear every strata of my development. The structure and expression I learned at Sarah Lawrence, the intellectual bravado I developed at NYU and legal writing’s philosophy of clear, plain speech and meticulous editing all make simultaneous and vociferous demands resulting in a writing process of Sisyphisian re-reading,  innumerable drafts and endless re-writing that I pursue with a dogged, exhausting compulsion.

Towards the end of law school, my Catholic Social Thought teacher, Amy, let me know how much she enjoyed my writing. And I thanked her, but took the opportunity to finally express my frustration about writing to another person. “It’s really hard for me to write,” I confessed. “It takes me a day or two to do a 5 page response. And the hours I spend doing it are agonizing; going over the same thing over and over again.” Amy frowned in sympathy and said: “That’s what makes it so good. But you need to learn to relax.”  

Now, having been thinking about my blog, and the long term development of my writing, I see how Amy’s advice to relax isn’t something I need to learn for the first time. In 7th grade, I knew that not everything I wrote had to be perfect. I did it for fun. The sad irony is how the better writer I became, the less I enjoyed it. This blog is not only the realization of Stella Glass’ ceaseless demands, but my attempt to re-establish a balance between writing and reading without Sarah Lawrence’s academic structure and, what’s more, make writing fun again, 7th grade-style.

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