Category Archives: pop culture crushes

Bettie Page (Innocence courting the Dark)

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I have been a fan of Bettie Page since her resurgence in the eighties. She died in 2008, and was a sweet Christian little old lady. Bettie had an innocence even when posing completely nude and in suggestive ways. It is hard to get to the bottom of her appeal. There were many pinups in the fifties, but Bettie stood out. I think it is because when men looked at her nude photos it was as if they had violated Bettie herself. She seemed sweet and innocent, unaware of the lustful intents of her fans, and would have been shocked if she knew what men did as they viewed her photos. At least this is what men wanted to imagine. Women who no longer felt the slightest shame and viewed sex completely as a necessary commodity in order for them to live, in other words, whores, were not much of a turn on to men who wanted to dominate their women. Bettie seemed to invite such domination.

But of course all of this is nonsense. Bettie knew what she was doing, but it is true that she might have developed a split personality isolating the naughty Bettie from the God-fearing Bettie. She claimed to see nothing wrong with what she did, but I am not sure I believe her. She took her Christianity very seriously, perhaps too seriously. I don’t know any of the particulars of why she spent time in a mental hospital, but I suspect it may have been the conflict between her religious values and her livelihood may have sent her around the bend.

Bettie was sexy in a kind of effortless way. She seemed to keep a bit of herself hidden from view, pure and unsullied. We could lust over her lovely body but not her soul. Sex should never become ordinary and unremarkable. There should be a dark thrill at the sight of a woman’s pubic hair. It brings forth the desire to possess, to conquer, to rape and pillage. Pure naked lust married to aggression is the driving force behind the appeal of Bettie Page’s fetishistic work. It is disguised as playful, but this stuff is dark. It involves degradation and humiliation. Sexual pleasure becomes confused with these things, and with physical pain itself. It is curious that Bettie appeared to embrace this lifestyle, given her near obsession with Christianity. I am sure she claimed she didn’t really understand what all the bondage stuff was about, but I think that is disingenuous. She knew. She liked it. Then she could no longer accept this courting of the Dark, and reinterpreted her life to preserve her innocence. At least this is how it seems to me.

This still doesn’t get to the bottom of her appeal. She is naughty in a non-naughty way. She was a way of satisfying one’s prurient desire while pretending to have only an ‘artistic’ interest in Bettie Page. This is true even of this post. Is she really the icon of hip female sexuality? or is she the icon of the rape of the innocent and the subjugation and humiliation of women? Perhaps both. Bettie was the beginning of the metrosexual. A culture in which it is cool to find pleasure in pain, and that your body should be a banquet for all your admirers to feed upon. Having said all that I am still a fan of Bettie Page although I admit to having mixed feelings about it, as I have mixed feelings about any pornography. But this isn’t pornography, I can hear some of you saying. Sure it is. If you are getting a boner looking at it, it has excited your prurient interest. Not necessarily a bad thing. Do I feel some of you squirming as you contemplate your values. Good. I have achieved my purpose.

Sex Death

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Just look at her and think, I mean really think. This is the face of death, not the face of pleasure, or of sex, just Sex Death.

This is a difficult piece to write. I noticed that stellamarr was following stockphotogirl, one of my other blogs. If you haven’t checked out that blog you should do so before finishing this piece so you will know what I am going on about. And so I checked out her blog, and in turn I checked out the secret diary of a Dublin call girl. This is not easy reading, especially for a man. Stella Marr is an ex-call girl, now a writer. I know next to nothing about the sex industry to be honest, although I have very liberal views about sex, and about women. I am dead set against the exploitation of women in any form, and yet am I exploiting stock photo woman? When she posed for those photos she understood that her image would be used for advertising, but not to illustrate a work of fiction. I wonder how she would feel about my whole series. Would she feel abused? But more about that later, my focus for this post is on the horror of prostitution, and the world of call girls. The photo above says it all as far as street prostitution is concerned. She is anorexic either due to drug use or just because she thinks she needs to be super thin to be a suitable commodity. Whatever is the case, I am literally sickened by the fact that sex has become a means for demeaning and destroying the lives of millions of women, and actually, to a lesser extent, the men who prey on them. When I read blogs like the secret diary of a Dublin call girl I want my penis to shrivel up to the size of a pea and then fall off. It makes me ashamed of my sexuality. Young women are perceived as sex objects every minute of their lives, usually in more subtle ways than what is involved in outright prostitution. I think it comes as a shocking discovery to many young men that women are in fact human like themselves, and exist for reasons other than sexually satisfying men. A lot of young and older men never make this discovery. I have a very hard time of it, because I have unwittingly used women. I try to redeem it with the writing itself, transforming stock photo girl into an actual human being. At least, I hope I have succeeded in doing this. But that whole thing is based on an infatuation I had with that model, so sex is it’s underpinning. I would not want to demean or embarrass that model. But am I anyway? Am I being demeaning in ways I don’t understand or detect? This is the problem for many men. We can’t always tell when we are being thoughtless towards women. Or am I being unduly harsh on myself? In the one sexual scene I wrote with stock photo girl, she was not used or abused in any way. He didn’t pay for sex, the fantasy was consensual, in fact it had been her idea. Plus I deliberately stood on it’s head the usual expectations of a male reader regarding sexual encounters. Women being in awe of a man’s sexual prowess just isn’t my bag, I can’t write that crap.

I would recommend that men read secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress, which is Stella Marr’s blog, as well as the secret diary of a Dublin callgirl. Because we need that perspective. When we get caught up in our sexual fantasies this provides a bit of realism. Women do not exist for our sexual pleasure. They have lives which have nothing to do with us, which we should familarize ourselves with. Some guys get really pissed off by these women, if you are the sort of man who can’t handle ‘uppity’ women, you should steer clear. Now, as I have made clear on several occasions, I am a bit of a pervert, I have a perverse imagination to be sure, so don’t think from what I have written here that I am some kind of holy saint. Or that I am a feminist. No. My misogynist roots are deep, and it takes blogs like Stella Marr’s blog or Margaret Cho’s blog to help dig those roots out. In a word, dear reader, you have no idea, really no idea just how degrading prostitution is for all concerned, but especially for the prostitute. It is Sex Death as far as I am concerned. It kills all the pleasure anyone might obtain from sex. Now I recognize that there may be exceptions to this, but they are exceptions that prove the rule. I’m talking about the scummy underbelly of the sex industry. The part that industry prefers you not know about. Now I am not a psychologist and I can’t examine what causes women to take that road, sometimes they really have no choice in the matter. They may be literal sex slaves, prostitutes because they would be killed otherwise, or it may be because they see no other option. Sex is the most powerful drug on Earth, when you harness sex to other needs it is damn near impossible to deal with. It takes over your life, It ceases to be a source of pleasure, and empowerment, and becomes an agony, a sex death. It makes me want to be celibate, and never write pieces like “An Indecent Proposal” again. But after a bit, I gain some perspective.

I should not be ashamed of my love of sex. But I should keep a good eye (my one good eye), on my intention. What am I trying to achieve with sex? Is a woman’s body a commodity? Am I redeeming myself when I take an obvious commodity such as a Stock Photo Woman and attempt to make her a real character? While I definitely have the hots for that model, I also wonder about what she is like as a person. Am I exploiting her? I would like to think I’m not by virtue of how I have used her image. To be honest, the entire fashion industry is founded upon women as sex objects, and very particular sex objects at that. If a woman doesn’t look like the beautiful, perfectly crafted stock photo women they see everywhere, then a man is sorely disappointed. Guys????? Hello????? These women are pure product, as far as the image is concerned. They don’t exist in real life. Take a look at the actual women you see every day, in the flesh. My intention with Stock Photo Woman was to repurpose all of that nonsense. Far from making her an empty shell, I have endeavored to sabotage male expectations. But I am a flawed man. I do not pretend to be free of male chauvinism. I am not a champion for women’s rights necessarily, although I do support that. I am just an older man with a crush on a stock photo woman. Does this make me a punter?, I wonder. A punter is a john in case you were wondering. And if you don’t know what a john is, then you are too young to be reading this material, go back to bed young man!

It is hard to have a sense of humor about these matters. I have to admit, I wonder at why Stella Marr would want to follow my stockphotogirl blog. Does she genuinely enjoy it? or does she want to see how this punter exploits an innocent model who didn’t ask to be in his story. If ever I get a complaint from this model, believe you me, the posts disappear just like that. I have no desire to hurt anyone. Or am I just full of shit, as usual? Let me know. Especially you, Stella Marr.

Just A Little Eno Is All I Need

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BRIAN ENO

OBLIQUE STRATEGIES

A long time ago and far away I had a drummer for a roommate, and he had a fabulous record collection. Among other artists such as David Bowie, Robert Fripp, Bill Bruford, and others, he introduced me to Brian Eno. Brian made by far the greatest impression.  His music spoke to me of other places outside of our own mundane existence. Or as he would put it, ‘Another Green World’, the title of one of his best albums. Brian Eno had no real interest in pop music for himself, although he had a great deal of interest in producing everyone from U2, the Talking Heads, and even Paul Simon. He was more interested in oblique strategies, his title for a way of bypassing the conscious mind by a random selection of ideas printed on cards. This bears some resemblance to William Burroughs and Brion Gysin’s cutup technique. Both are ways of introducing randomness which can then inspire your writing, your music, your films. David Lynch has used oblique strategies in his work. Of course, I wonder just how random this all is. The deeper self may direct our seemingly random methods. In Eno’s case, it works brilliantly. His soundscapes have been the inspiration for so many others, such as Moby, and even Trent Reznor’s Ghost series.

   He began as a student of ‘serious’ music, experimenting with repeating loops of sound. He then became involved in the world of pop music when he joined Roxy Music, this being his brief fling with glam. After leaving the group in the mid-seventies, he produced a series of solo albums which stand the test of time. Here Come the Warm Jets is both progressive and alternative rock at it’s best. He continued this trend with Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy. He took a deceptively simple approach with Another Green World which established his signature sound. Very evocative, wistful, beautiful, and intelligent music. Keeping to this same idea of creating soundscapes that speak to you in odd and interesting ways, he went on to produce Music for Films and Music for Airports. I never get tired of his experiments in sound. Many bands have borrowed a page from Eno to embellish their work. I remember when I first heard Music for Airports. The people I was with were put off by the simplicity of the piece, saying it sounded like someone messing around with a piano but not playing anything. It mesmerized me to no end. Literally to no end, I am still listening to Music for Airports in my head. Eno simply wanted music suitable for an airport, which would relax you and put you in the right mood for possible sudden death. He actually described it this way, which reveals his dry sense of humor. This was the birth of ambient music, music in the background not intended to capture your full attention. However Eno’s music always captures my attention. Brian Eno’s music lends itself very well to film, hence the brief (too brief) little sketches he does for Music for Films.

In his studio

Brian Eno’s music never fails to improve my mood. It uplifts me. I had been feeling depressed today, and didn’t want to post anything on my blog, and then it occurred to me to post something about Brian Eno. Of course I had to listen to him as I did this, and it inspired me as it always does. The marriage between Brian Eno and David Bowie (so to speak, they weren’t actually married), is legendary. It set the bar very high for alternative rock, and I would agree with Eno that no one has really progressed beyond their work in the late seventies. Everyone is basically going over the same ground.  The difference between the legion of synthesizer wizards which populated countless bands of the eighties, and Eno, lies in the way Eno transcends the medium. He is able to give warmth and spirituality to an essentially cold, intellectual instrument. I also like the synthesizer work of OMD, which approaches at times the spirituality of Eno’s music. But most of it was variations of Devo, without the satire. Even though Brian Eno has been teased about his singing voice, I have always liked it. It is understated which suits the songs. But of course he will always be remembered for his ground breaking instrumental work.

I am including here 1) a collaboration with Harold Budd called First Light which is one of the most uplifting of Eno’s work with equal thanks to Budd as well. It takes me away from my depressing thoughts and to a still, quiet, beautiful world. You can just skip the advertisement at the beginning. The video is nice too.

2) another collaboration, this time with Robert Fripp called Timean Sparkles. This has a wonderful fragility to it.

3) Fractal Zoom which shows Brian Eno can also rock. The video is nice too.

4) and finally, Spinning Away, a collaboration with John Cale with Eno singing. One of my favorite songs of all time. If this doesn’t inspire you what will?

Margaret Cho’s Blog Post ‘Lost’: my thoughts

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 I just got through reading the latest post on Margaret Cho’s Blog, It is at margaretcho.com. The post is titled ‘Lost” and it is just her thoughts about people who are missing, lost, and how that makes her feel. She mentions ‘In Search Of..” the old Leonard Nimoy series on creepy things, including people who are lost. I’m not conveying the feeling of that post very well. You really need to read it. Margaret Cho is one of the most honest individuals I have ever encountered. She is beautiful, and powerful. She served as the inspiration for this blog. I wanted to produce a blog as brutally honest and wonderful as hers. She is generally thought of as a comedian who focuses on gay, lesbian, transgender issues. But there is a lot more to Margaret Cho than that. I hope that she realizes that herself, because as I read her blog it seems as though she hasn’t come to terms with herself and her incredible power and ability to influence others. She just wants to be an ordinary person leading an ordinary life. That fact alone sets her apart from a lot of people involved in show business. When I first became aware of her by watching her on youTube back in November I was mesmerized and kind of fell in love with her. That infatuation has since cooled down, although she can still touch my heart and does frequently. I fell in love with her truth telling, her vulnerability, her fearlessness. Yes, she is both, therein lies much of the fascination. So check out her blog! If you like me, you will like her, I guarantee it! I have no idea if she is aware of this blog, but I often leave comments on her blog. Perhaps someday I will meet her. I guess you could say I am a bit starstruck, except she isn’t (according to her) a star. So I guess I am personstruck. Oh! and I almost forgot! She’s funny too!

Now I’d like to add my bit to what she wrote. There are people, a lot of people, actually more people than I care to think about, that are lost. Forget the milk carton kids, that is just the tip of the iceberg. It is shocking how many people are unaccounted for in this vast forsaken world. Where are they? They may be dead, or living a different sort of life under different names. They could be sex slaves, or something even more horrible could have been their fate. Who knows? Although I am quite visible, not at all difficult to find, I nevertheless feel lost. How many people really know that I am here. They get a glimpse, nothing more. I am a ghost. So much of me is lost. My hold upon my nearly empty shell is tenuous at best. A few people know my mind, my emotions, and perhaps a slight hint of my soul. But it is temporary. Seventy years or so is only a moment, one flash of light within an ocean of eternal darkness. That is lost. That is what lost means to me. Margaret Cho was right to feel scared as she contemplates the lost, for it is terrifying true. We are all lost to a degree, separated from each other and our world by something we feel but cannot understand. But it does seem to be of our own making, this lostness. The literally lost serve as a metaphor for our unbearable loneliness. Elvis Presley once said he felt lonely even in the middle of a crowd. It’s that kind of lonely street upon which we all dwell. I can understand why this affected Margaret Cho so much. She wants to love everyone in a direct physical, overpowering way and is stymied by this loneliness. Now there are those who would describe this lostness as our unbearably painful separation from God, but I don’t feel qualified to offer an opinion about that. I prefer to stick to my own experience, than to philosophize with my keyboard. In my own experience I am plagued by ghosts. I see them in my dreams and sometimes they appear suddenly and shock me into lucidity. The past is lost, and this is where these ghosts dwell. As I grow older an entire world is lost to me, and becomes a poignant memory. Lost? Ask any elderly person about lost. Ask the mentally ill about lost. They know lost. They have lived lost. While I am frightened by lostness, I am also drawn into it. This is the essence of my nostalgia for a time before I was born. I would have loved to have been practicing magick with Aleister Crowley or painting with William Waterhouse. I’d have had a grand old time with Mark Twain. When contemplating the past, the distant past, like that of ancient Greece or Rome, I can be overwhelmed by what has been lost, and filled with a deep sadness. Lost is an inexhaustible subject for it’s depths lie beyond our reach. We can only shine our feeble torch into this abyss and report our meager findings.

In my comments on her post, I told Margaret that I was listening to a very powerful piece of music by Leyland Kirby entitled “Don’t Sleep I Am Not What I Seem, I Am A Quiet Storm” (which I have been listening to while writing this post as well). It captures perfectly the feeling of lostness, that unbearable loneliness. If I succeed in finding it on youTube I will include it here. I haven’t figured out how or if I can post a song from my iTunes library. If you don’t find it here, look for the album “Sadly, the Future Is No Longer What It Was” by Leyland Kirby. This post by Cho came at just the right time for me, for I had been feeling particularly lost today. I still have no job, although I have an interview Monday. I feel adrift on the sea of the unknown. My thoughts are of long ago. I posted about the pre-Raphaelites and Oscar Wilde. I feel at home in their world. They certainly understood what it meant to be lost. I have also passed into and out of an entirely imaginary relationship and am at a loss where to take this story now that the romance is no longer really there. I am haunted by my own creations. Margaret Cho however is very real. I hope she continues to produce thought provoking pieces for her blog for many more years. A part of me is frightened for her. I don’t want anything to ever happen to such a talented woman. Not that I think she is in danger, I’m just feeling unsettled in general and this spills over into how I feel about people I care about. Lost. Unsettled. Plagued by Ghosts. Sadly, the Future Is Not What It Was.

Enid

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Enid my Eternal Muse

This post is in praise of Enid, a character from Daniel Clowes’ graphic novel Ghost World, which was made into a great cult film starring Thora Birch and Scarlett Johannson. Thora is brilliant in this film. I fell in love with her portrayal of Enid. Enid is me. I am Enid, She is my inner female, without a doubt. If I were a woman, I would be Enid. She is witty, sexy, and kind of otherworldly. You can’t hope to really get to know her, you can only marvel at her existence. Daniel Clowes’ version is a bit darker than the film version. Thora brings a sweetness to the character, hidden beneath her constant stream of sarcasm. This is the Enid I prefer. She wants everyone to think she doesn’t give a damn, but secretly she cares. A lot! Just like me.

Hey! Look! I'm Batgirl!

Enid spots this fetish item in a porn shop and cannot resist putting it on. She sees humor in the sordid, as do I. Hey, look I’m Batgirl! She doesn’t say that in the film, but she should have! Daniel Clowes created an enigma with the Enid character. You want to get inside her head and examine her brain. She is drawn to the rejected, the lonely, the crazy lost souls of Ghost World. Ghost World is clearly her world. She is vibrantly alive, surrounded by ghosts.

I was struck by the scene shown below, in which Enid and her friend talk to the crazy old guy that always sits at an abandoned bustop. They try to explain that the bus doesn’t stop there anymore, but he insists it does. At the end of the film, a bus does arrive at this bustop and Enid boards it. This bus is from ‘another place’, as David Lynch would put it, and now Enid is where she belongs, far far away from the dismal Ghost World the rest of us have to endure. She is dressed in red, which is rich in symbolic meaning which I won’t go into here.

I feel as though I know Enid, as though she is a real person. I can feel her presence, commenting acidly on our current cultural stupidity. She pretends to be shocked, but she never is. Nothing gets past Enid.

Bustop in Limbo

The movie doesn’t give us the pleasure of seeing Enid as a little girl, although Clowes’ did a few Ghost World comics with little Enid. I bought a great Little Enid action figure which I have to share with you, because it is unbearably cute.

Isn't she cute?

It was unfortunate that the film did not include the reason for the film’s name. The name Ghost World came from graffiti the girls saw scrawled on a garage door. I love that image. It could have been at the end of the opening credits or something. If only they could have had me there to advise them!

Finally, I will leave you with a great shot from the film. The genius of this film was in capturing how kids fresh out of high school really look and act. Enid is the essence of cool, but also a confused young woman too wise for her years.

Supergirl foils me again

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She has super intuition? Who knew?

Someday Supergirl will be mine!! I was going to post this great story about how Stock Photo Woman (see earlier posts), is actually Supergirl’s alter ego for the twenty-first century. I had caught her peeling off the fake black eye and..my God! Is that an S on her chest? Now that the real Supergirl is on to the hoax, I’ll have to say that the S stands for Stock. Oh, well…it was such a clever hoax. But it never pays to mess with Supergirl!! I didn’t count on her super intuition. She has super intuition? Who knew? Curses! Foiled again!

I have had a crush on Supergirl since I was a boy. It was that sexy little miniskirt she wore. Be honest, fellow baby boomers, didn’t it drive you nuts, too? I was just talking to Superman the other day (sure we know each other, why wouldn’t we?), and he told me that when he was Superboy, he’d fly behind her and try to catch a glimpse of her…” “Why didn’t you just use your x-ray vision?” I asked. “Oh I tried all that, but she wears lead-lined underpants!” “Smart girl!” I said, smirking. “You know, Russell, I could just give you a slight smack and your head would sail off and be in orbit in a fraction of a second!” “Yeah, but you won’t do that!” I said unconcerned. Superman is always making those idle threats. He should just grow up! Ok, I admit it. I made all that up.

But seriously, I have always been obsessed with the idea of a strong powerful woman. Without going into all the gruesome psychological underpinnings of this obsession, let’s just say I had a dominant, outgoing powerful mother. My Dad? He was shy, like me. I’m sure my mother was his Supergirl. But I loved it when women would kick butt. Wonder Woman was awesome too, but you had to be extra careful around her. You couldn’t be having all those horny thoughts about her nearly naked body because she might whip out her magic lasso and force you to tell the truth. Oops! How embarrassing! Catwoman was nice too, what a fox!, I mean cat, oh whatever. She was especially sexy with that whip. Who knew comics could be so kinky! But I really loved Batgirl, something about a girl in a cowl…it’s totally hot! Girls intrigued me from a very young age, I always wanted to know what they were thinking. They lived in a strange enchanted world, off limits to grubby little boys. Guys? They’re just guys, what can I say? I don’t know what women see in them really. I mean I like guys, I am one myself, but there is nothing mysterious or erotic, for me anyway, about guys. Women? Quite a different matter. They fascinate me! That is what lies at the heart of my when-is-this-going-to-end? Stock Photo Girl/Woman series. I just love thinking about beautiful women. You notice I never show my own picture? Why ruin a great romance with my ugly mug?

But I got off track, as usual. Supergirl knew this would happen. I would just end up humiliating myself yet again. Super intuition. Damn! How can I get around this problem? Wrap my head in aluminum foil? Nope. Tried that. I guess I will just have to get used to Supergirl knowing my every move. Oh, Supergirl! I just want one little ride on your back! Is that too much to ask? I know she heard me, she has super intuition!

Tough break Brainiac 5! I know how it feels.

All comics are the property and copyright of DC Comics.

Return of Lolita

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Recently, I have been writing an ongoing series called Stock Photo Girl Fantasy and today, I considered whether or not to include the fact that I am 58 years old and Stock Photo Girl looks to be in her mid to late twenties. It would give the story a strange twist, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go there. It definitely reminded me of one of my favorite movies of all time, Lolita. Not the recent one, but the original Kubrick film. I even considered having her co-workers tease her and call her Little Lolita. In the Stock Photo Girl saga, I am definitely Humbert Humbert.

I agree with David Lynch that Kubrick’s Lolita is a perfect film. Everybody in it does a superb job! James Mason conveys perfectly just how hopelessly in love he is. It is a love that Lolita cannot understand, but she is nevertheless touched by it. But, of course, getting seriously involved with a man old enough to be her father is out of the question. It is natural and understandable that she would settle down with a man close to her age. Peter Sellers is also brilliant, and I can’t help thinking that he deserved his fate. But my heart goes out to poor Humbert Humbert.

Why are older men so attracted to young women? Well because, first of all, they don’t feel old inside. Their bodies played a dirty trick on them, growing old like that, and it is a difficult thing to accept sometimes. I can recall vividly my younger years and the experiences I had with younger women when I was young as well. It was this that I put to use in my Stock Photo Girl series. In my fantasies, I am young again! Also, when I gazed at the photos of Stock Photo Girl I felt young again. It was like a tonic. Older men lust after younger women because they lust after their own lost youth. It was a time when they felt vibrantly alive and didn’t worry about the future as much. A younger woman can bring back some of that. But it only lasts for a while, as was the case in Lolita. The younger woman gets bored with all of the obsessive attention, and after all, an older man may be intriguing, but they aren’t sexy. However, I wasn’t clear about the age of Russell in my Fantasy, and of course you never see a photo of him, so he could be older. It might be interesting to explore how a relationship between two people of such different ages would play out, after all it’s a fantasy. It would make the whole thing much more poignant, as it is in the film Lolita. The temptation to give my fantasy a happy ending is pretty strong, but I keep finding as I write that Stock Photo Girl keeps forcing me to keep it real. She may not allow me to be older, or if she does, I will have to pay the price, just as Humbert Humbert did. I will say this however, no one will die in my Fantasy, that is much too dramatic for a tongue-in-cheek series. Ah! Lolita, if only she understood how I felt! Life is so cruel!!