Hallowed & Hollow

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Halloween is my day off. When you’ve spent a lifetime wearing outlandish outfits on a regular basis, there’s no big thrill in doing it when everyone is trying to do the same. Let the amateurs have their hour, I say. (Don a cape at Price Chopper on a Tuesday afternoon in September then come talk to me.) That said, I once enjoyed this quasi-holiday as much as the next kid, and there were a number of notable costumes I wore that I recall to this very day.

As a younger child, I was very much into animals. Not in any twisted or sick bestiality type of way, but in a pure, innocent, adoring manner. I was a beaver one year (go ahead and make the joke, I’ll wait), a skunk another, and even a cheetah (probably my favorite, as it meant I got to wear a suit made entirely of leopard print).

As I got older, I grew out of the animal phase and into something, well, older. I was an old man one year (something I could do without much make-up today), and a devil the next (even less of a stretch). After that run, I was old enough to not care so much, and when I had to march in Halloween parades as part of the band, it lost all appeal, so I’d go to a stand-by cape and hat and call it a night. (Still my M.O. if I need to do anything on this evening.)

Today, I’m going to let the rest of you take center stage and shine with your elaborate get-ups, sexy/slutty/skin-baring strip-downs, and witty sight-gag ensembles. I’ll sit back and watch, enjoying the spectacle from afar. (Besides, I’ve got badder fish to fry and other outfits to plan for evenings far more important than tonight.)

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Hunk of the Day: Michael Hamm

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On the eve before All Hallow’s Eve, the Hunk of the Day honor goes fittingly to shape-shifter and cosplayer extraordinaire Michael Hamm. Every now and then I think that if I’d had some sort of cosplay outlet as a kid, I wouldn’t be such a fucked-up adult – then I realize that we did have cosplay back then: it was called ‘Underoos.’ Thankfully, it’s here now as well, and if you’ve ever been to Comic-Con or one of the cosplay conventions, it’s a surreal, magical experience. Just the sort of escapism and fantasy we like to celebrate on this blog.

Mr. Hamm has an extensive arsenal of cosplay looks, and the body to back them all up. More importantly, he’s got a sense of humor, shot through with a wicked wit, and an endearingly self-deprecating attitude that makes him practically perfect. (Additional credit must also be given to Shaun Simpson, the photographer who so often manages to capture Mr. Hamm at his finest, including most of the photos seen here.)

Before I was a cosplayer, I was a fan artist. I would draw my favorite characters and sell the pieces at art auctions. But once I discovered cosplay, it was like, ‘I don’t have to draw my favorite characters, I can become my favorite characters. ~ Yaya Han

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The Madonna Timeline: Song #109 – ‘Lucky Star’ – 1984

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{Note: The Madonna Timeline is an ongoing feature, where I put the iPod on shuffle, and write a little anecdote on whatever was going on in my life when that Madonna song was released and/or came to prominence in my mind.}

With the last few Madonna Timeline entries – ‘Like a Virgin‘ and ‘Burning Up‘ and ‘Dress You Up‘  -  we’ve delved deep into the early days of M’s musical career. We stay in the 80′s with the latest, ‘Lucky Star.’ Now brace yourself, because I have to say something rather blasphemous to die-hard fans, and many casual fans of that heady early era as well I suppose: I’m not a fan of ‘Lucky Star.’ And you know what? It’s ok to say that. If Matthew Rettenmund can have issues with ‘Take A Bow’ and ‘Crazy For You‘ then surely I can scoff at ‘Lucky Star!’

Come on, Shine your heavenly body tonight
Cause I know you’re gonna make everything all right

I also don’t have any fond or not-so-fond memories of when the song came out. My first Madonna memory was a short while later – when ‘Material Girl‘ marched onto the scene. Prior to that I was too young to listen to the radio.

That said, I understand that ‘Lucky Star’ is a highlight in her catalog, particularly to many who were bopping to the early MTV beat back then, so I will not discount its importance. For her video career, it was crucial in establishing her style (and it’s historic in the back-up dancing by her own brother, Christopher, who would prove to have a crucial presence in the first half of her career) and her soon-to-be dominance of MTV. Yet for some reason, and it’s a personal preference more than anything else, I never connected to the song or the video.

So you see, I don’t like absolutely everything Madonna does. I’m a sick fan, but I’m not a sycophant.

You may be my lucky star, but I’m the luckiest by far.

SONG #109 – ‘Lucky Star’ – 1985

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Hunk of the Day: Julian Edelman

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With a nickname of ‘Minitron’ the Hunk of the Day is Julian Edelman, who plays for the New England Patriots. This is Patriots’ territory, as evidenced by previous posts on Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady and the traitorous Wes Welker. (You may recall this infamous nude Gronk photo session – or this one.) And most visitors here enjoy a jockstrap jam now and again, so the last pic here, if one looks hard enough, should satisfy that, ahem, itch. According to those in the know, and in the sports world, Mr. Edelman is renowned for his versatility, excelling as both wide receiver and defensive back. I’m not quite sure how these positions differ… but if someone wants to claim they’re versatile, go to town. Aren’t we all?

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My friend JoAnn/Josie/JoJo-Dancer instructed me on how to pick bittersweet – that ubiquitous fall favorite that is actually becoming a noxious invasive in many parts of the country. Despite that, it brings a fall beauty to doorways and tabletops and mantles, if picked correctly. The time to cut them is when the “berries” turn yellow, but before they burst open to reveal their inner orange. Most of us (myself included) waited until they were in full color to clip, but if you wait that long they fall apart. If picked when intact and unpopped, they will open on their own accord and hold their color – and this beauty – for much longer.

At a time of the year when most things are beginning the brown and gray march toward a certain winter, these color bursts are a welcome bit of cheer, but their name is redolent of what’s really going on, so I’m going to include the musical clip below of Me-Shell NdegeOcello’s ‘Bitter.’ Many years ago it got me through a cheerless winter in Chicago, because sometimes you have to go through the pain to get out of it.

Until the winter arrives, however, I’m taking the bitter with the sweet, and keeping the color on the vine. There is more of fall to come.


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Hunk of the Day: Jack Walton

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Jack Walton, of ‘X Factor’ fame across the sea, is the latest male celebrity to get naked for ‘Attitude’ – which makes him ripe material for the Hunk of the Day. (Unless you get nude in ‘Tude, I probably won’t notice you, dude.) Mr. Walton is a singer competing for that show’s coveted top spot, and this is a sure way of getting a few more votes. Sex & Music, baby – the original S&M.

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Take Life By the Balls: Meet The Kilted Bros.

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Everybody loves a guy in a kilt. Especially if it’s worn in the traditional manner. Now, you can have your very own kilt and support a couple of great guys in the process. The Kilted Bros. are currently raising funds for their kilt-making enterprise, and you can donate here if you are so inclined to help them get running. They’re already doing quite well, but their GoFundMe drive ends this week, so here’s an extra push.

As can be seen here, a kilt works in many wonderful ways, and The Kilted Bros. are big proponents for letting your balls ride the breeze. As you may know, this site celebrates those who dare to go without pants, and wearing a kilt most definitely counts.

They’re also the perfect unexpected piece for any upcoming holiday parties, which are always in need of sprucing up – and nothing spruces things up like a kilt. Go ahead, take life by the balls.

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Hunk of the Day: Mehcad Brooks

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Since he was left off of this recent Calvin Klein underwear model list, Mehcad Brooks gets his own post as Hunk of the Day. In addition to filling out Mr. Klein’s underwear so fully, our Mr. Brooks has appeared in ‘Desperate Housewives‘ and ‘Necessary Roughness’ (according to the always unreliable Wikipedia.) Personally, I think that sort of television work will always pale in comparison to the duties of a male model. Here’s hoping he gets back to basics soon.

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A Weekly Recap (Because There’s Never Enough Nick Jonas)

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The week of Halloween dawns in cool, gray, rainy form, perfect for fall and fine for keeping rowdy costumed kids at bay. The last few days on the blog have found me in catch-up form, and we’re sell not up-to-date, but I like that. By the time this place gives hint as to where I am, I’ll already be gone. Better for would-be-burglars, and safer for safety purposes. Ho-hum, I’m boring myself… on with the weekly recap.

It was the anniversary of Madonna’s ‘Erotica’ album. I’ll give you love, I’ll hit you like a truck, I’ll give you love, I’ll teach you how to…

There was a rare second-crowning of a Hunk of the Day, with this post on Lance Parker.

It’s never too early for a Christmas gift wish list for those who like to plan ahead.

One of the more popular Hunks of the Day has got to be Philip Fusco, who will likely receive his double-crowning any day now.

There’s nothing more inspiring than an artist who is also a gentleman. Unless he is also a Hunk like THomas Wolski.

This was also the week that I finally chronicled our Columbus Day weekend in Ogunquit, such as it was. It began so well, but quickly crashed as my back went down. All because of a few flowers.

There was a last bit of beauty, though, to salvage all in a moment by the sea.

Believe it or not, it’s not always about Madonna and men.

Although, Nick Jonas got all shirtless again, talking bulges and sex scenes and further endearing himself to the gay community, so maybe it is about the men.

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An Eclectic Collection

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Aside from the Hunk of the Day and Madonna, the content of this blog is as varied as Renee Zellweger’s face. If you’re looking for consistency, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for the tried and true, try somewhere different. But if you’re looking for something that holds the possibility of the unexpected, even in this late day of my life (when I just discovered I need bifocals) get on board and hold on tight.

We are multifaceted creatures, layered like the proverbial rings of an onion. We do not lend ourselves to such convenient categorization, at least I don’t. One of the chief criticisms of this blog is that it veers so wildly between topics as varied as my affection for my niece and nephew to the dare-to-bare antics of shirtless (and often pants-less) men. As if to be a doting Uncle precluded being anything other. As if it wasn’t possible to appreciate the beauty of the naked human form and the floral form simultaneously. As if we were bound to be one thing and one thing only. Pish posh on such nonsense. Who can afford to be so limited? And who would want to be? If you’re that one-dimensional and narrow-minded, this is not the place for you, and you will find nothing but infuriation here. (And chances are I’ll thrill in giving it to you, because sometimes I’m just an insufferable prick.)

Anyway, the point of this post is to highlight a few off-the-beaten-path posts that hopefully show off the fact that this blog is more than just Madonna and men. Two very important topics, of course, but it’s good to get a little variety in your online diet. With that said, a sampling of the winding valley farm this story has become:

A letter to my niece and nephew. 

A smoke to be made sacred.

A wish on the moon.

A failure of narcissism.

A toothpick in the rain.

A stalker’s summer scene.

A pot to piss in.

A necessary evil.

A suitcase of scarves.

A pearl necklace.

A lesson learned.

A poem remembered.

A WalMart midnight.

A few shelves

And a cozy va-jay-jay.

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Nick Jonas: Shirtless and Talking Bulges and Sex Scenes

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It’s been quite a week. First, my hatred of Taylor Swift dissipated seemingly overnight. Now, I’m genuinely starting to not hate one of the Jonas brothers. At first I thought it was just a coy bait-and-tease game, this little dance that Nick Jonas has been doing with us, but now I think he may really be committed. Case in point: the video below of ‘Guess the Bulge‘ where Mr. Jonas gamely gives his all in figuring out the bulges of Zac Efron, Liam Payne, Justin Bieber and some other One Direction guy.

He also gives tantalizing hints of an upcoming sex scene where his ass is on display. Oh, and a few more shirtless shots for Details magazine. I’m on board with all of it. Shake it off.

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Last Minute Vacation Reprieve: Ogunquit, To Be Continued

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There comes a window of time on every last day of vacation when I find myself alone in contemplation. If we are in Ogunquit, that’s usually a quick spa along the start of the Marginal Way. This fall trip proved no exception, even if it began disastrously, and stayed that way right up until the very end.

On our last morning in town, my back just starting to feel a bit better, and my stomach resting from a marathon of somersaults, I walked back to the Marginal Way to take in the sun, drink in the salt air, and seek wisps of Rosa rugosa on the wind. I looked out upon the Atlantic, feeling that familiar terror of being so small on the edge of something so vast.

I made a wish and a prayer. It was promise and a pact to return again, to walk The Way when the spring was upon us. It was the hope of making it through the winter relatively unscathed. There were stones that had lasted far more than a season here, and they provided the only inspiration I needed.

I walked back along the path where the flowers that had so entranced me stood in their unconcerned glory. ‘Serves him right,’ they might be snickering. ‘That’ll teach him to take unauthorized photos on our less-than-flattering days,’ they may have whispered. Undeterred, I snapped again. I will always take a chance on taking the beauty with me. I smiled ruefully at their nodding heads, and shook my own at my folly. You win, Nature, you always win… but I’m going to show the world something, and I’m going to do my best to do right by you.

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Felled By a Few Flowers

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In 1994, I had a memorable (or not-so-memorable) bout with mono that may have been the sickest I’ve been thus far in my life. The doped-up surreal journey of that experience, imbued by Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Kim’ which I was reading at the time, left me in much the same out-of-sorts condition from which I awoke on our third day in Ogunquit. Selfishly, I rejoiced that I could hear rain. It would be bearable if it rained and I was stuck inside. I wouldn’t miss it as much. I would’t mind so dearly.

It was with admittedly-childish dismay that the rain soon cleared, and the sun came out to torture me through the half-closed blinds. I was too upset to take much food, and nothing was agreeing with me anyway. The next couple of days passed thusly, my fall vacation in Maine sliding through my fingers, tantalizing glimpses of bright blue sky passing by the window as another day departed. Hints of flaming foliage fluttered in quiet, a gay pantomime of laughter that mocked my immobile state.

Eventually, I forced myself up, determined to make it out to our last dinner in town. I walked shakily past the entrance to the Marginal Way before arriving at dinner, but the lack of food for the previous few days, and the combined effects of such unprescribed pain-killers did not make for a dinner through which I could sit, and before my salad even arrived I had to head back to the bed and breakfast to climb into bed. The vacation was truly over.

Night closed upon me, and I let sleep come. There was nothing else to do. The next day we had to depart.

Here are a few more flower pics I managed to snap before my back went out. Looking at them, I wonder if it was worth it. The chance grab at capturing such beauty. Would it have been better to look from afar, to take them in and appreciate the moment without trying to still it, to steal it, to take a bit of it back? Or was this the reward of such beauty, the ransom for a ruined vacation? I haven’t decided yet…

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Holding Onto My Penis For Dear Life

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Staring up at the knotted ceiling, I imagine that’s how my back must look to some specialist somewhere. In my drug-induced state of semi-consciousness ~ thanks to a killer cocktail of drugs somewhat questionably administered by my husband and approved by my medical parents ~ I pick out shapes and figures in the knot-dotted ceiling of our guest room.

Like kids who see faces and animals in cloud formations, I sift through the abstract windings of wood and locate the duck or ostrich face that Andy showed me well over a decade ago. I also make out a wolf – a rare find comprised of two panels – its ears a pair of shirred twists in the wood, its eyes two tiny knots. On the bed, my body involuntarily contorts itself in spasms of discomfort, while my head vacillates among disappointment, resignation, and fury. This is not how I wanted our Columbus Day weekend in Ogunquit to unfold.

It began in fine traditional form ~ a beautiful and cool fall day, a dinner of fish tacos at The Front Porch, and the next morning an early breakfast at Amore, followed by an outlet jaunt in Kittery before the crowds arrived. Upon our return to town, I was taking photos of the flowers that led to the Marginal Way, when I must have bent over the wrong way. [Insert cock joke here.] I felt fine at the time, but a few minutes back in the room, I went to stand up and a back spasm promptly left me flattened on the floor. I’ve only ever experienced back pain like that at two other times in my life ~ the last being after a hydrangea-pruning incident that knocked the wind out of me. Plants are no joke, people. Some day you will believe. The quest of capturing beauty is no joke either. In fact, its price is preciously dear and dangerously high.

On this day, just the second into our vacation, I had no time for back issues, particularly one that left me unable to stand. Usually I can at least shuffle, but this one left me breathlessly off my feet. Andy quickly gave me a muscle relaxant, but it was too late. I’d have to miss dinner that evening with Andy and my parents, but the pain was such that I didn’t mind one missed dining opportunity, and as the light drained from the day, and my solitude burned into the night, I drifted in and out of awareness.

Making it to the bathroom was the tough part. As Andy wined and dined with my folks, I rolled out of bed and onto the floor. I could not move, but my bladder demanded that I do my best. Pulling myself along and crying out curse words rife with pain and frustration, I made it half-way to the bathroom before I started crying. Not just for the sheer physical hurt, but for what I would be missing:

Ogunquit is one of the only times that my husband comes to bed and wakes when I do.

Ogunquit is one of the only times these days when my parents and I can bond and have adult time without them taking care of my brother’s kids.

Ogunquit is the only place where I can walk around and not worry about whether my tie matches my pocket square.

In short, Ogunquit is usually where I can be, well, happy – and most like the man I’d like to be. Yet here I was ~ alone ~ in the way I most often am. When I finally pulled myself into the bathroom, scrunching into the bathmat as if it were a bed, I wondered how on earth I’d get upright to pee. Brief contemplation of pulling down a plastic drinking cup with a thrown towel and peeing into that was dismissed. I’d never hear the end of it were Andy to find out, and with my sketchy history there was a good chance I’d end up drinking my urine by accident later in the evening (a not-unprecedented event, but that story’s been told before.)

For now, I mustered the extremities of my pain threshold, lifted myself up and held on for dear life ~ to the wall and to my penis. When done, I couldn’t bend over to flush (sorry, Andy) but eventually found my way back to bed, where the haze of medication covered me like some enormous veil – thick and velvet-like and intricate enough to bind me until the morning…

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