Posts by Erin O'Brien

I am a human being.

The party’s over

But what a party it was, Ed.

After a blow-out like that, I’m sure everyone’s ready for a laid back weekend. I know I am. Why not read a book? This one is pretty good. This gentleman thought so. And so did this fellow. A bunch of others did I too, but let’s not get redundant.

Hey! I just jumped over to that Amazon page! You’d better hurry up and order! There’s only one left in stock! Oh … wait a minute … there’s more on the way. Everyone can relax. But whew, that was close!

(I used five exclamation points in that last graph!)

Some people don’t like the cover of that book. Hell of a thing when some chick fools around for years writing and rewriting a cool little book and people sniff at the picture on the cover and don’t even give it a chance. It’s sort of like taking a thousand dance lessons, getting pretty good at the mambo, then being forced to wear a dress someone else picked out for the ball that ain’t so great and spending the evening wandering around the punch bowl.

I know. How about this: I’ll give you a sample–just like the lady with the tray of little paper cups at the grocery store. But instead of a tiny hot dog piece (sorry Tao), here’s a taste of what’s inside of the book.

I guess that’s all for now. I loved spending time with all of you. Ed, you throw one hell of a bash.


Now if anyone finds my undies (the ones with the zipper) please send them here.



Close Encounters of the Erin Kind or Steven Spielberg walk with me

Most people watch “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and see a pretty good movie about a guy who really wants to get on a space ship.

They are wrong. This movie is about me.

Every day, I see Devil’s Tower in my mind. I see it and I must create it. So I go to my keyboard and start to form it up. The first attempt is a rough sketch, a shape. It is something, but it is not right. I print it out and study it, decide what is working and what is not. The next attempt is closer–not right, just closer.

I must get it right.

“Mom?” says my kid from the doorway of my office.

But I am consumed with the mashed potato model in front of me, the mud model in front of me. I know that I have been summoned to do this, to realize this, that it is a pilgrimage of sorts and that nothing can stop me.

The trained guys in the space suits that are supposed to get onto the spaceship? Those are not trained guys in space suits.

Them’s your book-learned guys.

The book-learned guys really know space ships! They have all the technical capabilities. They can turn out one perfect sentence after another and deconstruct James Joyce and discuss every book the NYT reviewed this week.

But all the book-learning in the world will not give them the calling.

Funny thing about the calling is that when you have it, the book learning is delivered unto you. Because in your quest to realize that which is inside of you, you’re going to need some tools. So with the bottomless obsession and energy that drives you to create, you

“Hey Honey? What about dinner?”

seek out those tools. And at once the word “you” transforms from three simple letters into a tricky device called second person.

Suddenly, the nuance of punctuation is no longer a preposterous assertion.




Suddenly The Overuse Of Capitalization Becomes Really Funny To You. You learn how to SHOUT without uttering one noise.

Yeah, yeah.

And just like in the movie, plenty of people try and stop you and tell you that you are crazy and that the whole thing is stupid. On the journey, you find one or two others as obsessed as you and you immediately understand one another. You fall down. And when the canary dies, you second guess yourself until the compulsion wells up again and thrusts you forward.

The movie is about the quest. The prize is far away, a reverie in Technicolor flying overhead. But the power of wishing upon a star is in the wish, not the star.

It is a good day when you realize this.

Now you will excuse me, dear reader. Despite being hopelessly insufficient, this essay has gone on entirely too long and I have a date with a dozen or so little space men.



Beautifully honest

Despite our digital sophistication, today’s ubiquitous pornography is as bad as ever. Most amateur efforts are awful. Professional images are digitally trumped up to impossible cartoons. People portray sex they way they think it should be–not the way it is. The resulting pornography rarely has any relevance to the true human condition.

Beautiful Agony is different.

The website is subtitled “Facettes de la Petit Mort,” or “Faces of the Little Death,” the French euphemism for orgasm. This site features regular people doing what they have been doing ever since they figured out how. The videos show the “artists” from the neck up as they pleasure themselves, although some clips feature couples. There is no nudity.

Much has been written about the site, but little has been said. Viewing the videos moved me in ways I did not expect. I found them fascinating, crass, embarrassing, beautiful, arousing, and nerve-racking all at once. The clips evoked a strange self-awareness in me.

In a word, Beautiful Agony is honest.

Eschewing nudity on the site is brilliant. Our genitalia are fairly predictable during sex. Our faces, however, are anything but. With the temptation to look down there removed, the viewer must focus on the facial contortions associated with the powerful moments of climax. The resulting images have little in common with the aesthetically enhanced cosmetic honeys we normally see. Real people are intense and contorted during sex. Collapsed eyebrows, clenched teeth, giggles, shudders and pauses portray not just pleasure, but anguish, pain, irritation, playfulness and even grace.

Sometimes eyes are open, sometimes closed. Sometimes eyes startle into round O’s as if the artist has somehow surprised themselves.

Perhaps the most provocative aspect of the clips is the sounds: utterances, fabric brushing fabric, inhalations. One woman exclaims, “Fuck yes!” to herself in a congratulatory tone. Some artists cry out and thrash. For others, a simple jerk of the head or one punctuating gasp marks their orgasm.

No one can escape identifying with these videos–hence the uncomfortable edge in watching them. The petite mort is the ultimate loss of control, the inexplicable moment of concentrated, sublime pleasure. The videos are at once universal and singular: we all have sexuality but it is different in each of us. If there is one specific commonality in the clips, it is the calm moment of aftermath when the artists revel in smoky satisfaction. Call it bedroom eyes that have just seen the light.

Now that is sexy.

The corresponding confession videos, in which fully clothed artists talking about sex, can be as unnerving and funny and disturbing as the climax clips. Topics include strangest place (on top of a car parked in front of a motel), favorite accessory (the “bunny”) and impetus (“There’s nothing good on TV.”) One man says, “Don’t be so moralish about it,” then admits to performing anal sex on other men, while quickly adding that he has never been thusly penetrated. Another woman finds masturbation useful when she can’t find a “shag.” Her corresponding masturbation clip is hollow and perfunctory.

Another man appears boyish and sweet in his clip. Then in his confession, he discloses, “I was a gay boy that grew up in a country town.” He then recounts tales of his days as a prostitute, the details of which include soiled undergarments, defecation and a group ejaculation on one paying older customer. I crumpled in front of my screen, sad and repulsed. I’d nearly forgotten that sexuality can be profoundly disturbing.

Out of the score of clips I watched, not one failed to fascinate me. I simply could not take my eyes from the screen. The site elevates this common human act and puts it on the edge of art and erotica and pornography and even scientific research. The producers and participants at Beautiful Agony have achieved a rare goal. They show us an intimate side of ourselves most of us have never seen.

* * *

The Sun’s music video “Romantic Death” on YouTube, which features a montage of clips taken from Beautiful Agony.

The preceding post was brought to you by Erin O’Brien, human being.

An ironic release date

My Larry Brown post was yesterday and ironically, this musical tribute compilation to him “Just One More, A Musical Tribute To Larry Brown” was officially released today. Your surrogate she-host (me) attended the associated tribute concert in Oxford, Mississippi a couple of months ago because I loves me a good road trip. The CD was available for presale there and I bought it.

This is one of the best goddamn collections I’ve ever heard. Every single song on it is a wonderful example of contemporary American folk music. I played it again and again and again. “Blue Car” by Greg Brown and “Song for Fay” by Caroline Herring are both so fine, they will make your spine tingle. Larry Brown also sings on it, and that is cool and fun and kind of sad too.

And while you’re at it loosen up the purse strings for chrissake and buy the bonus CD.

The preceding post was brought to you by Rainy Day Woman Erin.