January 9, 2003

I am translating an article about ecologically healthy farming from German for a friend of mine who works for a textbook publishing company. Now, I first learned German from singing a lot of Schubert and Bach; I studied subsequently at college and in Berlin, but my German (and, for that matter, my French and my Italian) has always been at its best with texts about broken-hearted lovers and the comfort the tender soul receives after death. So you can imagine my dismay when confronted with things like this:

The cattle’s position as consumer of field grasses and producer of fertilizer is the basis for a far-reaching, closed nutrient cycle.

The reason I am blogging about this, however, is that the article mentions, I swear to God, an annual Organic Potato Day.

It’s on July 16.

My new goal in life is to make Organic Potato Day a national holiday.

The only question is figuring out how to market it in our consumer culture. I mean, it’s not a holiday if they can’t sell things, right? I suppose Whitman’s could make little chocolate potatoes, but how would they make it clear that they’re chocolate organic potatoes and not just chocolate regular potatoes? Chocolate is a magical substance that can work all manner of wonders, but depicting the absence of carcinogenic pesticides might be beyond even its considerable powers.

Perhaps the answer to the marketing issue is to create a mascot, like the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. Of course Mr. Potato Head is the first thing that occurs to me, but that seems far too obvious. Maybe he should be a negative mascot, like Mr. Yuk or the evil genius in the dishwashing powder commercial in the late 70s (his moniker escapes me at the moment) who left glasses streaky until a savvy housewife used Cascade to flush him down the dishwasher drain. For Organic Potato Day we can have the DDT Monster and his evil but bumbling sidekick, the Potato Aphid. Starting weeks before Organic Potato Day, stores can sell organic-potato-growing kits. The kits themselves can vary in ornateness and therefore in price—sterling silver pots for rich kids, clay ones for middle class kids, and ugly plastic ones for poor kids. When the day arrives, children can put the potatoes they’ve grown in all the windows of their houses as talismans to prevent the DDT Monster and the Potato Aphid from getting in and destroying the potato crops and giving everybody cancer and birth defects. Then, in the morning, assuming the potato crops have made it through the night and nobody has gotten cancer or birth defects, families can celebrate by frying up the potatoes into yummy organic latkes.

Clearly I am onto something here.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 4 Comments

January 8, 2003

Last night I ended up speaking on the phone with two of the three interesting-seeming guys from One of them, it turns out, is actually the most boring person on the face of the earth; just in case this isn’t bad enough, however, he’s also a bankruptcy lawyer FOR THE CREDITORS. He spends fifty hours a week hounding lower middle class people who have been taken advantage of by evil credit card companies.

So I have a date with him on Saturday.

I am looking forward to this with all the anticipation one might feel for, oh, say, liposuction performed without anaesthetic, but since we had already said we’d meet, I didn’t know how to get out of it once I found out what he did for a living.

The other is even worse. I spent half an hour on the phone with him and he actually sounds incredibly sexy, so of course he is going on Thursday to his FIRST MEETING OF THE LOG CABIN GAY REPUBLICANS CLUB.

Plus he mispronounced Elie Wiesel’s last name.

Jesus Christ, I sure know how to pick ’em, don’t I?

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 10 Comments

January 7, 2003

So three interesting-seeming guys have responded to my ad at I called them all yesterday, left messages, and then instantly lost all desire to meet any of them—or, for that matter, anybody else, ever again.

I am utterly baffled by this paradigm shift.

Perhaps my subconscious, having watched me make a total mess of my search for love, is taking over and following the lead of the eponymous Carmen in Bizet’s opera:

L’oiseau que tu croyais surprendre
Battit de l’aile et s’envola.
L’amour est loin, tu peux l’attendre;
Tu ne l’attends plus, il est là!
Tout autour de toi, vite, vite,
Il vient, s’en va, puis il revient.
Tu crois le tenir, il t’évite;
Tu crois l’éviter, il te tient.

The bird you thought to take by surprise
Beat his wings and flew away.
Love is far away, you can wait for him;
You stop waiting, and he’s there!
All around you, quickly, quickly,
He comes, he goes, he comes back.
You think you have him, he escapes you;
You think you’ve escaped him, he has you.

I can only hope my subconscious knows enough to diverge from Carmen’s path before my lover stabs me to death at a bull fight.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 1 Comment

January 6, 2003

I have been trying in vain to figure out how to mark my upcoming 30th birthday, which is now in less than a week. Last night at dinner, my friends B.N. and D.R. and I had a brilliant idea.

I’m having a slumber party.

We will sit around, eat pounds and pounds of junk food, watch teen movies, give each other facials, tell each other’s fortunes, and talk about boys.

I can’t wait.

A few loose ends:

1. Add Jim JM J. Bullock to the syllabus for Gay 101.

2. If anybody can help me figure out how to get the sitemeter counter down below the “visitors” tag rather than up where it is now, I would be most appreciative.

3. Nominations are open for the Bloggy Awards. For those of you who don’t know, these are the blog versions of the Oscars/Tonys/Emmys/etc. I have hesitated to write anything about them, because of course my intense desire to win one—over the smoking corpses of my competition if need be—has been warring fiercely with my intense fear of not winning one, which would mean of course that nobody loves me and I will be alone forever. But desire won out over fear, so if you like my blog, go and nominate me before 10:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, January 12. (You can nominate more than one blog per category, so you won’t be slighting anybody else.)

I believe I am eligible for the following categories:

best lgbt weblog
best american weblog
most humorous weblog
best-kept-secret weblog (though I don’t know what the criteria are for this one)
best new weblog
weblog of the year

I will tell you frankly that I am angling for “best new weblog.”

That way, if I don’t win that one, I can spend all year wondering how I wasn’t good enough for you.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 13 Comments

January 5, 2003

Yesterday I went clothes shopping with my office crush, who has a terrific sense of style. Afterwards we came back to my apartment to have fondue. I discovered to my horror that he had never seen Auntie Mame. I put this down to youth and inexperience on his part rather than an insurmountable character flaw (he is 22—though perhaps being 22 is an insurmountable character flaw in itself) and rushed out to rent it. To his credit, he fell in love with it immediately.

Now we just have to work on his falling in love with me.

This little drama in turn put me in mind of a former student of mine, who at age fifteen went around saying things like, “My last ex-boyfriend and I blah blah blah.” I was delighted that the world has changed so much as to allow adolescents to experience and own their sexuality so openly; I was dismayed, however, to learn that the trade-off for this, at least in his case, was that he had never heard of Dorothy Parker.

My theory is that, as gay people are coming out younger and are finding more societal acceptance, they don’t need to turn as much to older mentors for emotional support, which in the past has always also come with an introduction to the canon of gay culture and history. It is of course wonderful that kids today have an easier time being gay, but it’s sad that something is being lost as well.

On the eve of gay middle age (I turn 30 a week from today), I am in a mood to tilt at windmills. Therefore I have compiled a thoroughly subjective and not at all comprehensive list of required reading/viewing/listening for all gay men, in particular gay men 25 and under. When options are given, you get extra credit for exploring all choices.

I’ve left out anything that everybody today seems to be current with (Will & Grace, David Sedaris, etc.). The inclusion of a person or work on this list is not an indication that I approve—merely that I think he/she/it occupies an important place in our cultural history. The list entries are in no particular order.

Here goes.



Auntie Mame
The Boys in the Band or Torch Song Trilogy
My Beautiful Laundrette
Mommie Dearest or Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
Brideshead Revisited
The Wizard of Oz
The Women


Dorothy Parker
Fran Leibowitz
the Lucia books of E.F. Benson (there are six but you can start with this one)
The Lord Won’t Mind by Gordon Merrick or Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
Tales of the City and all its sequels, by Armistead Maupin
any book by Mary Renault (though this one is particularly delectable)
the plays of Oscar Wilde (especially The Importance of Being Earnest and Lady Windermere’s Fan)


The Village People (“YMCA” or “In the Navy”)
Barbra Streisand (all movies and recordings) or Bette Midler (all movies and recordings)
Gloria Gaynor (“I Will Survive”) or The Weather Girls (“It’s Raining Men”)
The Pet Shop Boys or Erasure or The Smiths


the International Male catalogue
Tom of Finland
figure skating
Greg Louganis
Provincetown or Fire Island or Key West

I’m sure I’ve left off dozens of vital things that should have been included. Please forgive me. Because I thought the most important thing was to get the list out as soon as possible.

Before Alzheimer’s sets in.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 17 Comments

January 4, 2003

Earlier in December, I wrote about painting a Little Mary Sunshine mug for a friend whose husband has been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. Here are photographs.

The first panel:

The second panel (the first word in the fifth line, which people seem to have trouble reading, is “agonies”):

The third panel:

Note the red and green plague pustules to symbolize rot, and the angular hair out of which the cheerful curl has been driven forever. The black lines near the bottom indicate the stench of decaying flesh.

Maybe I shouldn’t quit my day job.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 3 Comments

January 3, 2003

Today I cancelled my subscription to men4sexnow. I haven’t really been using it that much lately anyway, so it’s more symbolic than anything else. Symbolic of what, I’m not sure. My friend M.N. thinks that all the casual sex I’ve been having is getting in the way of my search for love.

But when it comes down to it, as much as I enjoy meaningless sex, it’s never quite as good as Pride and Prejudice.

So where does that leave me?

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 5 Comments

January 2, 2003

1. I have spoken with Milksop, and he has expressed his intention to start a blog at some point in the not-so-far future. When this happens, I will make sure to link to it and we can all live in harmony together.

2. The magical hair product that prevents sex hair is called—I’m not making this up—göt2b glued. Below this title on the bottle are the words “styling SPIKING GLUE [water resistant] 4: screaming hold—>spike, grip, chunk.” It is in a yellow bottle, part of the göt2bme brand put out by a company evidently named FatBoy. I swear, with this stuff in your hair you could stop a battalion of Panzers. Or of pansies, as the case may be.

3. In order that you might understand more clearly how phenomenally fucked up I am in my daily interactions with practically everybody I speak to and, in fact, with most people I don’t speak to, I am sharing with you a lyric I have recently finished:

I stopped by to tell you I’m not neurotic.
I mean, you probably think I’m neurotic,
Especially after what I said this afternoon.
I mean, you laughed, but I wasn’t sure you meant it,
Or if you were thinking, “What a neurotic freak!”
But it’s okay and you don’t have to, ’cause I’m not.

I came back to tell you I’m not obsessive.
I’m not obsessive, no, I’m not, I’m not obsessive.
I mean, sometimes, yes, it’s vital that I think a lot
About important things, like did I leave the stove on?
And what if you like me less than you did yesterday?
But that doesn’t make me obsessive, ’cause I’m not obsessive.

But you’ve been acting strange
Since that day three weeks ago
When I didn’t smile when you said hello.
I should have known that you’d get mad.
You’re just so fucking sensitive.
You take offense, you don’t forgive—
Well, I’m not sure I want to live
Like this

At last I can tell you: I think it’s over.
I’m sick and tired of you making me crazy
When I am not the one who has the problem here.
If I’ve been anxious and upset and weird, it’s your fault.
But I’m starting over. As of today, from now on,
I’m going to a different postal worker to buy my stamps.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 12 Comments

January 1, 2003

This is the problem when you go away for a week and leave your blog in the hands of somebody who is both cooler and sexier than you—all your readers, including most probably your soul mate, will fall madly in love with him, and since the entire purpose of your starting a blog was to make everybody love you the most, you will be left with a strange and empty feeling of purposelessness in life.

But since a strange and empty feeling of purposelessness in life is pretty much par for the course for me, I don’t suppose this is any different.

The second most important thing I learned on my visit to Prague was that if there is any chance you will be visiting a sauna, perhaps in hopes that you will find yourself in the middle of a Bel Ami video, make sure to bring your contact lenses. If you don’t, you will end up either having to wear your glasses—and no matter how good they look on you when you’re dressed, they look ridiculously unsexy when they’re the only thing you’re wearing—or not being able to see a goddamn thing. This will render you completely incapable of picking up on the subtle visual clues that are the entire basis of cruising, which means that every man in the place could be staring at you with undisguised lust, and you won’t know it, and you will instead be filled with despair and self-loathing because you are absolutely certain that no one wants to have sex with you.

Furthermore, when you find someone who gives you unmistakable clues that he is interested—by, say, sitting down next to you and starting to jack you off—you will have no idea whether he is young, handsome, and lithe, or old, ugly, and fat.

I discovered eventually, using senses other than sight, that he was far closer to the former than to the latter. This was lucky, because by that time, given the extremely low probability of his having five hands and three penises, it would have been awkward, to say the least, for me to extricate myself from the situation without offending any number of people.

Then, in our chat afterwards, he revealed that his grandmother had been an inmate of the concentration camp I’d spent the day touring. I was very careful not to ask any questions for fear of discovering I’d just had sex with the grandson of the Holocaust survivor I’d interviewed three hours earlier.

So the thing about contact lenses was, as I say, the second most important thing I learned on my trip.

The most important thing I learned was that I have finally found a hair product strong enough to prevent sex hair.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 9 Comments