Absolute Dicks

Author Christine Ashworth, who posted on the social network, "So this is gonna sound stupid, but - I just got my first 2-star review on Amazon, and I'm giddy. I've never gotten a 2-star review before - and I have always believed you're not really "going places' until you have a few 1- and 2-star reviews. The fun part about it is it's not that bad a review! " I felt compelled to point out to Ms. Ashworth that another book I had recently checked out on Amazon suffered a whopping 10% of its reviews to rate it with a single star, and that title was Hamlet by a no-talent named William Shakespeare. But Ms. Ashworth's post reminded me of a time I posted my own negative review of a book on Amazon, a tome about Hollywood scandals which included the popular myth that Laurence Olivier had a long-term affair with Danny Kaye. I have done a significant amount of research about Olivier's life and career, and while the guy had his shortcomings (he was, by almost all contemporary accounts, an absolute dick), I am forced to conclude that his decades long sexual liaison with Mr. Kaye (who allegedly disguised himself as a customs officer at Los Angeles International Airport so that he could detain Olivier from a flight he was arriving on in order to perform a strip search on him, which is kind of hard to imagine happening post-9/11) falls into the category of urban legend. The author sent me a furious e-mail (comparing me for some reason to George Bush) in reply to my review of his book, to which I responded with a lengthy quote from Terry Coleman, the author of Olivier's authorized biography who had unprecedented access to his papers and historical archives. Mr. Coleman reported that despite exhaustive research, he was unable to find any evidence to support the rumor of an affair between Olivier and Kaye (the same book recounted a correspondence between Olivier and Shakespearean actor Henry Ainley that was of a highly sexual nature, so there's no reason to suppose that Mr. Coleman was covering anything up). My e-mails with the author of the book I panned became increasingly cordial after that and ended on a note of "agree to disagree." Parenthetically, I once shared a dressing room with an actor who was a regular on Mr. Kaye's TV variety show and he informed me that one thing Kaye did have in common with Olivier was that he was an absolute dick. I concluded it was a jerky move on my part to blithely post a negative comment towards a book someone had worked years on, even if I did take exception to its content, so I deleted it. I'll leave that kind of thing to absolute dicks like Laurence Olivier and Danny Kaye.

Ms. Ashworth's life partner, actor Tom Ashworth, who wrote "How on earth did we get any sort of review for a play reading of COOKIES FOR PRISONERS? Is San Diego that much better of a theatre town?? Ego not aside (I am an actor) "We meet Margie's husband Larry, Papa, a hapless, happy-go-lucky if committed liberal activist, played spot-on by skilled comic actor Tom Ashworth.'"It is indeed an atypical thing for a play reading to be reviewed since there are rarely additional performances to coax an audience to and the whole point of the thing is usually to fine-tune the material for a later full-scale production, so you probably don't want opinions floating in cyberspace about a work that's likely going to change. So I sought out the review in question and saw that it began "Full disclosure, Thelma Virata de Castro is a fellow playwright, my friend and sometime colleague."Which means that the reviewer in question used the bandwidth at the website at which he was engaged to write a valentine to every aspect of his pal's work, including the performance of Mr. Ashworth. Look, I'm not saying he wasn't sincere in what he wrote, but it's not exactly an objective opinion when you read a critique by someone who admits he has a personal friendship with the person whose work he's critiquing. I have a longstanding relationship with Mr. Ashworth so any review I write about his work is going to have a different perspective from that of an audience with no past knowledge of him. I mean, I've had 25 years for Mr. Ashworth to crawl up and ass and build a soul-crushing, perpetually annoying house there. It's not realistic of me to expect that he's going to make that same kind of impression in only two hours on the stage. On the other hand, he is awfully skilled at it.

My college buddy James Cleveland, who returned from his infamous "My Life Is Better Than Yours; Fuck You"European tour to promote a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for Glad Tidings, a holiday CD that he and his friend Jim Norman are putting together of fiddle and concertina music. With a week to go in the campaign, the pair has already raised almost double what they had originally targeted as their goal. I assume that Mr. Cleveland will use the bonus proceeds for a "My Life Is Better Than Yours; Fuck You"tour of Asia or South America. I guess his life really is better than mine. Fuck me.

Graphic artist Becky Epstein Roberts, who bitterly described a conversation she had with a woman who was outraged that a photo of her college-age son playfully cupping his genitalia in a gag photo was included in a package of pictures posted on Ms. Epstein Roberts' website for the students to purchase. Ms. Epstein Roberts quite appropriately explained to the puritanical yenta she was dealing with that her son is an adult and free to pose for photos clutching anything he wants, adding "It's these kinds of women who teach their kids that their bodies are dirty and shameful."As for me, I doubt that there have been any pictures taken of me since I was in college where I wasn't clutching my penis. After all, the thing is there so somebody might as well clutch it, and since I never get any takers for the job from the women around me, I'm going to do it myself. If that means when you look at a picture of me and think that my body is dirty and shameful, I won't contradict you about it. I guess that my mom was right.

Becky Epstein Roberts again, who has been on a roll. Ms. Epstein Roberts shared this image on the social network which suggested that being pro-choice isn't synonymous with being pro-abortion, a sentiment I whole-heartedly agree with. I put abortion in the same category as chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is something that I never want to have to experience nor do I want anyone I care about to have to experience; truth be told, I'd love it if nobody ever had to go through the trauma of chemotherapy ever again. But if we have no other choice, I sure as shit want it to be available to us. I just hope that if any of us are forced into taking that road of crisis management, there aren't a bunch of crackpot protestors outside picketing because we're killing off defenseless cancer cells. I realize that they're part of God's divine plan but I can't help but feel that they'd irreparably fuck up my life if I didn't terminate them. Sorry about that, God.