My friend Jae rolled into town from New York the week before last and we prepared to head off on a Christmas road trip around the West — me soaking up locales for future Western tales, Jae taking photographs.

First, Jae fortified himself with “all you can eat” sushi at my local sushi restaurant.  Jae can eat a lot of sushi.  The staff smiled bravely no matter how much he ordered, in the spirit of the season.

Click on the image to enlarge.


Ursula Andress Stream

Female beauty is a problematic subject.  Men will become interested in or fall in love with women they wouldn’t be interested in or fall in love with if the women weren’t exceptionally beautiful.

There is deep biology at work here.  Studies have shown that conventional attributes of beauty in women deliver messages of evolutionary import — signs of health and vitality in a potential reproductive partner.


There is social conditioning at work here.  Possessing conventionally beautiful women confers social status on a man.

There are aesthetics at work here — a physically beautiful woman is one of God’s highest achievements, one of the glories of nature.


Beauty is only skin deep, they say, but this says little, because much of life involves interactions of skin with skin.

The subject is impossibly complicated, but there are a few guidelines through the thickets of it.  Intelligence in a woman, courage in a woman, generosity in a woman are reflected in her physical persona.  They inflect her beauty.  Men who are blind to this phenomenon — and there are many — have only the crudest concept of what female beauty is.


The intoxication of female beauty for men can be regulated by having exceptionally beautiful female acquaintances who are friends and not the objects of erotic ambition.  The ability to appreciate female beauty with joy but without the desire to possess it creates its own kind of delight.  Many men are incapable of friendships with exceptionally beautiful woman because they mistrust their ability to regulate their admiration of beauty.


To say, however, that female beauty can become irrelevant to a man, that he can see past it, that he can be neutral in the contemplation of it, is madness.  He must pay it its full tribute, must worship it, before he can give it its due place in a humane intercourse between the sexes.

Click on the images to enlarge.



Not many people are heading out to see Tommy Lee Jones’s The Homesman and it’s really hard to imagine why anyone would want to see it, just as it’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to make such a film.


At its center are two fascinating, eccentric, oddly appealing characters who are, when we meet them, desperate, isolated, lost.  They forge an inspiring bond between them then part, even more desperate, isolated and lost than they were when they first met up.


This is not a story — it is a monotonous non sequitur that attempts and fails to glamorize despair.  Many puerile storytellers think that glamorizing despair constitutes a form of high art — profoundly mature, courageously realistic.  It does not.


Jones has said the film is about American imperialism, which I guess means that the hardships faced by Western pioneers were some sort of retribution for the hubris of belief in Manifest Destiny, but it’s difficult to discern how this idea relates to the drama of the film in any but the most abstract and artificial way.

The Homesman : Premières photos du film de Tommy Lee Jones

In any case, trying to sell this sort of arty nihilism as a Western (or social criticism or anything else, really) constitutes a formula for commercial disaster — richly deserved commercial disaster.  A terrific premise for a story, some fine cinematography and some brilliant acting, including one of the best performances Jones has ever given, are wasted in the process.

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It’s very hard to process what The Beatles accomplished.  In 1963 they dominated British show business.  In 1964 they dominated American show business and show business in many other countries around the world.

They went, in the course of a year, from being a premiere local Liverpool band to being a top international act.  They made more money in that year than any of them could possibly have imagined making in a lifetime.  They undoubtedly got more pussy in a shorter amount of time than any four young men have ever gotten in the history of the world.


They were all in their early twenties.  Yet they kept their good humor and their good sense through it all, they remained amazingly productive, they continued to grow as artists.


They had the kind of character you don’t often find in artists, or in people of any profession — some sort of grounding in practical realities that kept them sane on a lunatic ride through life.  The group bonding must have been at the center of it — when they broke up they got more distracted, less mature as people.

Their music was great, but perhaps their greatest gift to the world was the idea that wild worldly success could be achieved with grace and joy, and a minimum of personal presumption.

Click on the images to enlarge.



In the cosmic pattern of existence, God has given men few advantages over women.  Men have greater size and muscular strength but weaker powers of endurance — which means that women, if they choose their battles wisely, like Apaches, can always prevail over men.

Men have a signal role in the reproduction of the species, but it’s a role that can be fulfilled in a few moments of furious fucking and disrespected otherwise.  Men can be useful partners in the raising of children, but if they reject such a partnership, women can easily take up the slack in maternal co-operation.


The one absolute advantage God has given men is that women don’t know how beautiful they are — don’t believe that they are beautiful even if they know that they are.  Women don’t trust other women who tell them that they are beautiful — they only trust men who tell them they are beautiful.


And it’s not just telling.  Women need to see their beauty in the eyes of men who are looking at them, in erections, in the way men touch them.  They need proof.

If you haven’t told the woman you love how beautiful she is, if you haven’t made her feel how beautiful she is, you have surrendered your only advantage, your only great responsibility, as a man.  You are howling on the margins of nonentity.