24 April 2014


A video script in development

"How to Kick the Ass of Homophobic Bullies"

[title card] WARNING: Although the video content in this feature is Safe For Work, the audio track contains occasional R-rated language both in English and на великом и могучем языке. Some viewers may prefer to use headphones if young children or elderly Russians are present.

[Fade to _Mermaid Hello Kitty_ puppet, with silver duct tape over her mouth, holding a sign that says in Japanese characters "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream." (note to self: find correct Japanese title of Harlan Ellison story on Wikipedia and print on cardstock)]

MHK: Mmmm-hmm-nggg-mmmm, mmm-hnggg-mmmm!

[_Volk the Dog_ puppet appears and at first growls deeply in fluent Russian]

VtD: Она говорит, "У меня рта нет, а я хочу кричать"! [Eng. subtitle: "She says, I have no mouth and I must scream!"]

[closeup of VtD as he switches to Boris-and-Natasha English]

VtD: Although I don't know vot for is needed duct tape! In actual fact, Hello Kitty has actually NO MOUTH for to scream vith! Is some kind gah-net-tic moo-tay-shin, is werrry sad...

[green felt tail of MHK smacks VtD upside the head, with "hi-ya!" VO]

[fade in title card]

"How to Kick the Ass of Homophobic Bullies"
presented as a public service
by T.H. Roberts Industrial Consortium Enterprises

[fade in to Rob, ME]

ME: Hello, everybody! My name is Robert McGee, although most of my real-world friends call me "Rob" and most of my online friends know me as "Throbert." In this video series, I'm going to explain how vitally important it is for everyone to KICK THE ASSES of homophobic bullies, and I'll offer you some tips on how to do it in an efficient and hygienic way.

ME: By the way, I should mention up front that I am myself an out-of-the-closet homosexual. I mean, I *LOVE* corndogs [holding up a corndog] and I especially enjoy chomping on a corndog until it starts leaking mayonnaise, but I don't really care for tacos.

[title card: photo of a taco = "ho-hum, boring, zzzzzz"]

ME: But for me, even less appetizing than tacos is THE HERSHEY HIGHWAY. Instead, I enjoy doing "frot" with a guy, and if you don't know what "frot" is, remind me to explain later. But as an executive summary: I'm a homo, yet I have chosen to walk away from "what-what in the butt."

ME: I just wanted to make it extra clear that I am NOT an ex-gay or a right-wing plant -- I am an AUTHENTIC homosexual, and making sweet love to another dude is one of my favoritest things in the world. I enjoy homosexual shenanigans so much that I have even appeared in an X-rated video by gay porn director Joe Gage. [holding up DVD case of "Closed Set: Oral Report"] I didn't get a screen credit, but my face is clearly visible [pantomiming fellatio with tongue pushing out cheek] for anyone who wants to challenge my homosexual credentials. And I'm not one of those boring right-wing gays who did porn in the past but is now deeply repentent; the only thing I regret is that I should've asked Mr. Joe Gage for more money, because my cocksucking skills are really splendid.

ME: Now, let's get back to the subject of kicking the asses of homophobic bullies. I should explain that when I'm talking about "homophobic bullies", I do NOT have in mind the usual suspects like the Vatican and the Mormon Church and Brendan Eich and the Boy Scouts of America and the hundreds of millions of people around the world who think that the English word "marriage" means only "the union of a man and a woman," and that some OTHER word should be invented to describe legalized same-sex unions. Personally I would vote for "quarriage," because many homosexuals seem to go for the letter Q like cats going after catnip, but that's something to discuss later.

ME: Anyway, the "homophobic bullies" I have in mind are people like... [headshots flash on screen to accompany the names] Andrew Sullivan, Michael Lucas, Dan Savage, and Bryan Singer.

ME: At this point, many of you might be thinking, "Wait! I'm not 100% sure who Michael Lucas is, but I'm pretty sure those other guys are openly gay men! How can they be homophobic bullies?!?"

[title card: "Indeed, what a comical paradox!"]

ME: When I say that Dan Savage and Bryan Singer and so forth are homophobic bullies, I mean to say, first of all, that in various ways and to different degrees, they BULLY other people -- sometimes people who are much weaker than them, and I'm fixing my mutant head-exploding Scanner powers on YOU particularly, Mr. Bryan Singer!

[insert footage of _Scanners_ head explosion]

ME: Of course, I wouldn't REALLY use my uncanny psychokinetic abilities to make the skulls of BryanSingerDanSavageMichaelLucas&AndrewSullivan go ker-SPLOOSH, however much they might deserve it, because I am a kind-hearted person, and also because psychokinesis is only for pretend in movies, and doesn't exist for reals.

ME: But anyway, not only are these guys just a bunch of bullies, but I intend to argue in these videos that they are motivated by a self-loathing dislike of their own homosexuality!

ME: Again, you may be thinking, "But Andrew Sullivan and Dan Savage admit that they enjoy sex with other men, and along with Bryan Singer and Michael Lucas, they denounce homophobia -- so how could they possibly be self-loathing insecure basketcase freakazoids who RESENT, deep down, that God or Fate or Nature made them homosexuals?"

[title card: "Zounds, it is baffling!"]

ME: In this short video series, I will walk you through the arguments that these self-described "out-and-proud gay men" are secretly insecure about their homosexuality, and that's what tends to promote their bullying behaviors. Just for starters, though, let me suggest this: An emotionally mature, homosexual ADULT MAN who truly believes that erotic intimacy with another ADULT MAN can be something dignified, noble, and sacred would never, ever DESECRATE the concept of homosexuality by confusing a 20-year-old college-aged guy with a FleshLight [holding up a FleshLight] .... but that's exactly what Bryan Singer apparently did -- not once, but many, many times. Because Bryan Singer doesn't believe in MAN to MAN lovemaking; he believes that a wealthy and successful and famous adult GAY male like himself is entitled to dominate and exploit a low-status community-college dude as a rented fetish object or a plastic masturbation toy.

* * *

[not yet sure where I'll work this next part in, but it'll be separate from the "Hello, I'm Rob McGee" intro video outlined above]

ME: The $1000 per month price tag of PrEP pills will not, in most cases, be paid directly by the person taking the medicine. Instead, private insurance companies will be pressured to cover the cost of the prescription, and gay activists will demand that Obamacare or some other government program should subsidize the pills as well.

ME: So, gay men who are too ignorant and lazy to use a buck-fifty condom when they have anal sex will instead pass the cost on to other insurance customers and taxpayers, including:

[Title card and V.O.]

(A) Married heterosexuals

(B) Gay men who enjoy anal sex but are willing to put up with the minor inconvenience of always using a rubber

(C) Gay men who don't even like anal sex and never do it

ME: If you're wondering how many gay men are in the "no buttsex" category, I've seen polls from both the US and UK estimating that it's around 20% or so. This 20% includes a few gay Jewish dudes from Orthodox upbringings who avoid anal contact for religious and cultural reasons...

[campy Coronet-hygiene-film music accompanies the following sequence of title cards]

Let's Study Torah!

[card 1 reads:]

ואת-זכר לא תשכב משכבי אשה תועבה הוא

Vet-zakhur lo toshekav mishkevei ishah toevah have.

A man must not lie down sexually with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination.
(Leviticus 18:22)

[card 2 reads:]

In the Jewish rabbinical interpretation, the Hebrew phrase mishkevei ishah, most often translated "as with a woman", was really an ancient euphemism that signified: "doin' it in the 'man-gina'."

In other words, the longer phrase "to lie down with a man AS with a woman" = "using another dude's cornhole AS THOUGH it were a chick's va-jay-jay"

[card 3 reads:]

So there's no confusion, let's be clear that in traditional Jewish religious law, ALL homosexual behavior is sinful -- even when there's no anal sex involved. Nevertheless, for many centuries, Jewish scholars who can read Biblical Hebrew in the original have agreed that the emphatic condemnation in Lev. 18:22 and 20:13 addressed "fudgepacking" very specifically -- rather than "homosexual behaviors" in general.

[card 4 reads:]

But you don't have to take my word for it -- just ask ANY RABBI IN THE ENTIRE FREAKIN' WORLD.

[end of Coronet-style film-within-film]

ME: Anyway, there are some non-Jewish gay men have no particular religious objections to anal activity, but they stay away from it because of [ticking off fingers]

"The OUCH! Factor"
"The Stinky Brown Stains Factor"
"The Penises Taste Nicer Than Anuses Factor"
"The Who-Needs-the-Higher-HIV-Risk? Factor"

But in any case, homo and bi dudes who don't like anal [gesturing to self] are just one of the many groups who are expected to chip in for those $13,000 a year Truvada pills to protect lazy-ass irresponsible barebacking buttfuckers! And I don't think that's quite right.


The Gilgamesh Epic -- Now in Convenient Blog Form!

I was recently re-reading the marvelous and moving Epic of Gilgamesh -- to be more specific, the highly recommendable 1992 verse rendering by David Ferry, who drew from several different prose translations by specialists in classical Middle Eastern languages:

Now Énkidu has undergone the fate
The high gods have established for mankind.

Seven days and nights I sat beside the body,
Weeping for Énkidu beside the body,

And then I saw a worm fall out of his nose.
"Must I die too? Must Gílgamesh be like that?"

It was then I felt the fear of it in my belly.
I roam the wilderness because of the fear.

Énkidu, the companion, whom I loved,
Is dirt. Nothing but clay is Énkidu.

Some readers have claimed this 4500-year-old Sumerian/Babylonian tale as "the world's first Gay Romance," though not everyone buys that. But with or without the homoerotic spin, it certainly qualifies as one of the earliest known prototypes in the ever-popular "buddies on a roadtrip" genre -- wrapped together with that most pressing but unresolvable of all theological questions, namely:

"Are the gods total retards, or just vindictive assholes, that human life should tend to suck so much and then we die?!?"

Today, however, the poem is probably much more famous for being "that other ancient Middle Eastern saga in which a geezer builds a humongous boat and fills it with animals to escape a Global Flood." But to be clear, the Gilgamesh Epic is not in any sense "about" the Flood. Gilgamesh himself isn't a witness to the deluge, which occurred long before he was born; here, the Flood is a story-within-a-story that another character relates in the past tense, and only near the end of the Epic.

In the broadest terms, the Epic's major plot arc describes how a superhuman-but-mortal Sumerian king, traumatized by the death of his best friend, tries and fails to discover the secret of eternal life -- yet although he fails to attain literal immortality, his Fame becomes immortal.

Compared with the works of Homer or Vergil's Aeneid, this "epic" is fairly brief -- the David Ferry version comes in at just under 90 pages. But since not everyone enjoys wading through long poems in iambic-pentameter couplets, and since it's full of unfamiliar Sumerian or Akkadian names that are sometimes easy to confuse, I've put together a handy-dandy "Cliff Notes" guide for lazy kollidge stoonts:
  • Contents
  1. General Background
  2. Tablet-by-Tablet Plot Summary
  3. Glossary of Persons and Places
  4. The Two Flood Narratives Compared
  5. Gil & Enk: Friends, or "Friends"?? (if you know what I mean, ahem)
Most of what follows comes from my own notes that I jotted down while reading and re-reading the poem, though certain comments about geography, history, and linguistics were gleaned and/or fact-checked with various textbooks and wikipedia. Bracketed text in red italics is my own thinking-out-loud speculation about the possible symbolism, and shouldn't be taken as representing actual scholarly consensus!

Part I: General Background on Gilgamesh's World and Culture

[Back to Table of Contents]

The "standard, complete, canonical" version of the Gilgamesh Epic as we know it comes from a series of about a dozen known tablets written in Babylonic cuneiform and dating to circa 650 BC -- signed by an anonymous poet with the pen-name Sin Leqe Unninni, roughly "May the moon-god be my muse". However, the story ultimately comes from Sumer, not Babylonia, and there's clear evidence that at least some portions of it go back, in oral folklore, to 2500 BC or earlier. (To whatever limited extent Gilgamesh was based on a historically genuine king of Sumer, his reign would've been circa 2700 BC.) It could be argued that there were originally some three or four self-contained legends describing the adventures of Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu, and these separate tales were later woven together by Babylonic editors into a single coherent epic poem.

Note, by the way, that Sumer and Babylonia were both centered in the same general vicinity: the valley-plain between the lower Euphrates and Tigris rivers, in what's now SE Iraq -- basically, the region downstream of modern Baghdad, all the way the Persian Gulf. However, Sumer and Babylonia were ethno-linguistically separate, and they peaked in different millennia.

The oldest known human settlements in Sumer go back to "only" 4500 BC (whereas Jericho, in W Jordan, was well-established by 6000 BC). The region's major natural resource was its incredibly fertile river-delta soil, so as their agro-tech improved, Sumerians gradually transitioned from subsistence farming to affluent net-exporters of food crops. The population and wealth began a huge boom around 3300 BC, and Sumer flourished for nearly a thousand years until things started downhill circa 2400 BC, with a complete collapse by 2000 BC. Early on, the Sumerian economy was organized around its temples, and the priestly caste likely ran everything -- but as the concept of heriditary monarchy caught on, the priesthood would've seen its political control reduced. [You should probably keep this in mind when king Gilgamesh meets the goddess Ishtar!! -- ed.] In linguistic terms, Sumerian was totally unrelated to the Semitic family that includes Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic; and spoken Sumerian "died" along with Sumer, though it lingered on as a written liturgical language until the early AD era.

Babylonia (named for its capital, Babylon) essentially replaced Sumer, as various waves of Semitic-speaking nomadic peoples began vying for power in the unraveling Sumerian state. A Semitic tongue known as Akkadian became the primary language of Babylonia, which began to emerge as a distinct culture circa 2100 BC -- with the religion and literature of old Sumer often borrowed wholesale and translated to Akkadian. The reign of the celebrated law-giver Hammurabi (starting circa 1790 BC) definitively cemented Babylon's status as an imperial city, and the empire flourished until 538 BC -- the year when the Indo-European-speaking Persians, led by Cyrus, captured Babylon once and for all ("Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin!" -- Daniel 5:25).

Part II: Detailed Plot Synopsis

[Back to Table of Contents]

One might split the Epic's plot-arc into roughly two halves: In regards to the Babylonian version, some scholars speak of twelve tablets; others insist that there are really "eleven canonical tablets plus one extra" -- since the 12th is almost totally unrelated to the first 11, apart from the general theme that Immortality consists in being remembered by others. But the sequence/numbering of the tablets is agreed upon, in any case, and their contents can be summarized as follows:

Introduces Gilgamesh, king and founder of the great walled city of Uruk. Said to be 1/3 human, 2/3 divine -- his mom, Ninsun, is a minor goddess who fell for a human man, as in Xanadu -- and he possesses superhuman strength and stamina. Between his expensive urban-improvement projects and his insistance on droit de seigneur with every bride in Uruk, he is physically, economically, and sexually exhausting his subjects. The Urukians pray for relief, and the birth-goddess Aruru sculpts the wild-man Enkidu out of earthly clay and divine saliva, to be Gilgamesh's tireless adventure-sidekick and BFF.

Born fully adult, and ignorant of human ways, the "hairy-bodied wild-man" naively believes himself to be some sort of gazelle, and annoys all the hunters by smashing their traps. The hunters complain to King Gilgamesh, who's intrigued by the reports and sends Shamhat (Uruk's most super-deluxe callgirl) to investigate. The temple-harlot's method for civilizing Enkidu is to whip out her irresistible Jugg-R-Nauts™, followed by 7 days and 7 nights of sex -- pausing just long enough to dazzle him with innovative technologies like beer, and meat that's been cooked before you eat it. At this point, she has no trouble at all persuading Enkidu to accompany her back to Uruk, and the Wild Man barges in on the king just as Gilgamesh is about to exercise his royal privileges for the umpteenth time by deflowering someone else's bride. Both guys fly into a rage, leading to a buck-naked, all-night rasslin' match that shakes the city's foundations, and by morning they've decided that they REALLY like each other. [The first vague hint, but not the last, that they might be "more than just friends." -- ed.] Sealing the bromance with hugs and kisses, the king orders that Enkidu be given all the honors due a prince. For their first roadtrip, the dynamic duo plan to slay the demon Huwawa, guardian of the sacred Cedar Forest where no Sumerian dare set foot -- and Lady Ninsun begs her "adopted son" Enkidu to watch over his "brother" Gilgamesh.

The friends set out on a long, perilous journey to find Huwawa, during which Gilgamesh suffers terrifying nightmares that Enkidu, however, explains as good omens. (Gilgamesh: "I dreamt that a monstrous bull attacked us!" Enkidu: "The bull was really the sun-god Shamash in disguise, coming to aid us in our quest.") The demon tries to confuse G&E so they'll attack each other, but thanks to their mutual loyalty -- plus a generous spoonful of deus ex machina from the sympathetic sun-god -- they're able to surprise Huwawa in a weakened state, and kick the snot out of him. The demon pleads for mercy, but they ultimately kill him (grabbing his tongue to pull him inside out!) in apparent fulfillment of the "auspicious" dreams as interpreted by Enkidu. However, Gil pushes his luck a bit by hubristically cutting down the world's tallest cedar -- to be carved into an ostentatious wooden Arc du Triomphe, naturally. [It's not altogether clear why Shamash is so eager to help G&E kill the demon, but possibly he agrees with Gil that the gods are being selfish in not allowing mortal humans to log the cedars. If so, then this episode might mythically explain how the people of unforested SE Iraq got access to the cedars of Lebanon: by defeating a Lebanese king (or tribe) named "Huwawa". --ed.]

The gorgeous-yet-tightly-wound goddess Ishtar falls head over heels in love with blueblooded superstud Gilgamesh, who tells her to get lost. [Yet another vague hint that G&E's male-bonding might NOT be 100% platonic. --ed.] Not only does Gil reject the goddess's overtures, but he does so in gratuitously rude language, and Ishtar complains bitterly that she's been slandered. ("Waaaah, Daddy, you know what the king of Uruk said?! He called me a crazy truckstop-whore who'll put out for anything with a penis!" To which her own father Anu basically responds: "Errmmmm... well, that wasn't very nice of Mr. Gilgamesh, honeybunch -- but technically, you know, it doesn't count as slander unless it's *false*.") Next she pulls a Veruca Salt, demanding that Anu unleash the monstrous Bull Of Heaven to stomp the adobe walls of Uruk into mud-pies: "Daddy, if you don't give me the Bull of Heaven RIGHT THIS INSTANT, I'll let all the zombies out of the Underworld to eat the living." [This is not a joke. -- ed.] Ishtar gets her way, and after hundreds of Urukians perish in the ensuing earthquake, G&E tag-team to kill the Sacred Bull -- piously offering its heart as a burnt sacrifice to their divine patron Shamash. However, in a second act of hubris, Enkidu lobs a slimy chunk of bull-intestines at Ishtar; she ducks, but suffice to say the gesture does NOTHING to improve the poor bint's mood.

By now, Ishtar is frothy with rage, and many of the other gods are distressed by the slaying of the Sacred Bull and the felling of the Tallest Cedar. The god-council generally agrees that either G or E or both must die for the crimes (only Shamash the sun-god defends both of them). Enlil, god of wind and destiny, decrees that it's not yet Gilgamesh's time, so E is made a scapegoat for G's offenses. Most of the tablet describes the agonizing fever that kills Enkidu slowly over 12 days -- during which time G, hovering like an anxious spouse, never leaves the bedside. In his delirium, E at first curses the temple-harlot Shamhat ("If that damn whore hadn't tempted me with her civilized breasts and beer and BBQ'd meat, I wouldn't be dying now!"), but then repents of his anger ("On the other hand, she did introduce me to my best buddy Gil!") and gratefully heaps every possible blessing upon her. As the disease progresses, Enk has terrifying dreams of a faceless lion-man who drags him into the dusty gloom of the Underworld. The tablet ends with the sound of Enkidu's death-rattle, and thus concludes the first half of the plot-arc.

Most of the tablet has been lost. The surviving bits and pieces describe how Gilgamesh "sits shiva", as it were, until a worm falls out of Enkidu's rotting nose on the seventh day. Gil also recites some memorial prayers, and commissions a magnificent jeweled statue to be carved in Enk's honor. [If the Gilgamesh Epic were a movie, the worm in Enkidu's nose could easily demand top-of-the-marquee billing, it gets mentioned so often from here onward. --ed.]

Consumed by grief for Enkidu and fears of his own mortality, Gilgamesh sets off to find Utnapishtim, the Babylonic "Noah.", in hopes of learning/stealing the secret of Eternal Life. [NB: In the Babylonic account of the Flood, "Mr. and Mrs. Noah" had been granted immortality as a reward for a job well done. --ed.] The first stage of the journey is to get past the Twin Scorpion Monsters of Mt. Mashu -- they guard an entrance to the underground passageway through which the sun travels every night, from the west horizon to the east. The scorpion-twins, who are just trying to be helpful, warn Gilgamesh to turn back; but eventually, seeing his superhuman determination, they let him by unmolested. Roughly the entire second half of the tablet describes how long, dark, airless, and sca-a-a-ry the tunnel is. (This trackless "subway" is a dozen leagues in length, or something in the neighborhood of 50-60 km, and Gil's torch won't stay lit. ) Presumably, if Enkidu had been there to crack jokes, the whole thing would've seemed like a delightful larf -- but without his Sidekick, the Hero is knock-kneed with terror.

Having finally groped his way through the horrible tunnel, Gilgamesh stops at a seaside café-slash-microbrewery owned by a veiled matron named Siduri. [NB: In ancient Sumeria, beer-brewing was apparently a matriarchal industry, with the secret recipes passed from mother to daughter. --ed.] In the universal manner of bar-flies throughout history, he rehashes his autobiography ("Blah-dee blah blah, and the next thing I know, I'm watching a worm fall out of my best friend's nose, 'cause he's dead -- and, welp, here I am, lookin' for the key to immortality!"). Siduri very wisely counsels that the best thing to do is have a drink, sing a song, and Cheer The F**k Up, because all men are fated to die sooner or later. But finally she discloses that Utnapashnim lives on a remote island surrounded by a sea whose waters are fatal to the touch; and only the boatman Urshanabi -- who lives on a slightly-less-remote island -- can safely ferry travelers over this "sea of death." Gilgamesh somehow reaches the island home of Urshanabi, who also thinks the king is on a fool's errand, but eventually agrees to take him across the uncrossable waters. First, however, Gil must cut down 120 trees to make 120 rowing-poles, each over 100 feet long! They reach Utnapishtim's island just after the 120th pole breaks.

Finally, Gil meets the old man Utnapishtim, who describes at some length how he survived the ancient Flood, in a narrative whose key details somewhat parallel the Genesis account [for comparison, see Part III, below --ed.]. Utnapishtim next insists on testing Gilgamesh to see if he's worthy of being entrusted with immortality. Although Gil flunks the test almost as soon as it begins, "Mrs Noah" feels sorry for him, and convinces her husband to send the king home with a small consolation prize: the top-secret underwater location of a plant that miraculously restores youth. (The plant doesn't actually make you death-proof, but by eating some leaves every few decades and avoiding fatal accidents, you could live indefinitely.) Tying rocks to his feet, Gil goes deep-diving and successfully plucks a sprig of the magic seaweed, but doesn't eat it immediately -- planning, instead, to share some with all the wise elders of Uruk. Alas, on the trip home, the Herb-Of-Youth is stolen and gobbled up by a hungry serpent, thus mythically explaining why snakes shed their skins. [Cf. Yahweh's curse on the snake in Eden: "From this day forth, you shall crawl on your tummy and bite people's feet" -- ed.] Weeping at the pointlessness of it all, Gilgamesh concludes that he is destined to die eventually, as Enkidu did -- though his majestic city will live after him and his name will be immortalized, THE END.

TABLET 12 (Special Bonus Tablet!!!)
A totally separate "Enkidu Dies and Gilgamesh Mourns" poem that has no plot-continuity at all with the main epic. In this one, Gilgamesh rather negligently drops his most favoritest Drum and Drumstick [huh? --ed.] down a bottomless hole into the Underworld, and Enkidu volunteers to fetch them back. Oddly enough, Gil lets Enk make the trip alone (they're practically Siamese twins in the canonical story), though the king cautions his friend not to engage in various mundane acts while he's down there ("do not wear shoes; do not perfume your hair"), lest he be trapped for all eternity. [Cf. the Greek myth in which Persephone snacks on pomegranate seeds. --ed.] Predictably, Enkidu ignores the warnings -- so he's grabbed by the Underworld, and can't return. Out of pity for Gilgamesh, the god Ea persuades the king and queen of the Underworld to grant Enkidu a few hours of "furlough" so that he can visit his old friend in the world of the living. E reveals to G that the contentment of the dead in the hereafter is in direct proportion to the number of descendants they had: "The man with seven sons sits here as on a throne... But the man with none to mourn him is fed with garbage that dogs won't touch," THE END.

Part III: Alphabetical Glossary of Proper Names

[Back to Table of Contents]

Major Human (or Demigod) Characters

Major Deities

Notable Non-Humanoid Critters

Other Humans Mentioned in Passing

Other Deities Mentioned in Passing
(NB: Not necessarily "minor gods", but of minor plot importance here)

Places Real and/or Mythical

[It's not always totally clear which locations more or less correspond with real-life geography as the Sumerians/Babylonians knew it, and which places should be understood as situated somewhere between Oz, Narnia, and the Thrice-Nine Tsardom. (If you don't know the Thrice-Nine Tsardom, it's where rivers of milk flow between riverbanks of fruit-jelly, and where the witch Baba Yaga snacks to this very day on delicious Russian children...) -- ed.]

Summary of Gilgamesh's route in Tablets 9 to 11*
*for nostalgic Infocom fans with a compulsion to map everything

Diagram of Gilgamesh's Journey in Tablets 9 to 11

Part IV: Compare-and-Contrast of the Flood Narratives

[Back to Table of Contents]



Part V: Okay, darn it, so were Gilgamesh and Enkidu "bi-curious" or not??

[Back to Table of Contents]

IMHO, their friendship should be understood as blending spiritual love, masculine camaraderie, and erotic passion.

But as with many things, it depends on who you ask.

Clearly, Tablet 1 establishes that both men had prodigious heterosexual appetites; and outside of the Gilgamesh Epic itself, the general lore about this legendary founder of Uruk says that the king had many sons by many wives -- everyone who was anyone wanted to claim descent from this hero of heroes. Then, too, while the hetero bang-a-thon between Enkidu and the temple-harlot Shamhat is related in racy detail ("she showed him her breasts and the secrets between her thighs and he lay down on top of her for seven days and seven nights..."), no sort of homosexual frolics between Gilgamesh and Enkidu are ever actually spelled out in such unambiguous language...

...but on the other hand, hairy-bodied-wild-man Enkidu interrupts Gilgamesh just as the latter is preparing to insert his Tab A into the Slot B of a virginal young bride, yet the two dudes spend all night wrestling, instead. Hmmm! Even more tellingly, Ishtar's sex-goddess seduction powers just seem to bounce off Gilgamesh like bullets off Superman. She's all like, "Fill me with your semen, Gilgamesh, and I'll give you a lapis-lazuli-and-ivory chariot wth solid gold wheels pulled by thunder-steeds; and all the livestock of Uruk shall bear calves and lambs in triplets; and the harvest of your fields and orchards shall be measureless; and the kings and princes of the whole earth shall bow to you...", and he just yawns. I mean, honestly, what red-blooded heterosexual guy could resist a lady who mixes superhuman beauty with that kind of admirably no-nonsense approach to flirtation?? (True, there were those allegations that Ishtar had a habit of turning her boyfriends into small four-legged things when she got tired of playing Sugar Mommy -- but hey, pobody's nerfect!)

...on the third hand, some scholars claim Gilgamesh's dissing of Ishtar has nothing to do with the king suddenly losing interest in the non-hairy-bodied Fair Sex, but rather is a symbolic way of saying that the organized public worship of Ishtar declined under his reign. [Perhaps he slashed state subsidies for Ishtar's temple -- and redirected the funds to the solar-cult of Shamash, instead? --ed.] Or, to put it another way, the king wasn't really flipping the bird at Ishtar herself; he was flipping the bird at Ishtar's priesthood, in some sort of power-play. Certainly, this sort of thing wasn't unheard of in ancient polytheistic societies: gods out-of-favor with a new regime didn't get "banned," but they did suffer budget cuts.

...on the fourth hand, it's worth stressing that IF the guys went gay for each other, Gilgamesh's rejection of heterosexuality with the love-goddess is NOT the "sin" for which poor Enkidu gets zapped. The destruction of the Heavenly Bull and the Tallest Cedar are specifically cited as the grievances, and the only deity who gives a hoot about Ishtar's wounded pride is Ishtar herself.

So who knows? Still, I'd argue that if one takes for granted an implied homosexual relationship between Achilles and Patroklos in the Iliad, then the case for Gilgamesh and Enkidu is, if anything, slightly stronger.

P.S. By the way, however, if G&E were indeed lovers, I would assume that they didn't get into any sort of Rectal Shenanigans, since the king almost immediately acknowledges the wild-man as his peer and equal (even making him a prince). Presumably they would've stayed on second base, so to speak -- i.e., French kisses, heavy-petting, dry-humping -- without penetrating each other. (Ditto for Patroklos and Achilles.)

In many or most societies of the ancient Middle East and Mediterranean*, getting passively cornholed was a Very Special Privilege exclusively reserved for low-caste male slaves, eunuchs, rentboys, foreign POWs... and women. But receptive anal sex was a "pleasure" cruelly denied to respectable freeborn men, who were restricted to the active/insertive role if they hoped to keep their respectability. Even in swingin' Greece, an adult male citizen who voluntarily allowed another man to enter via the back door could be permanently blacklisted from holding public office -- and Aristophanes mocked such guys with the term euryprōktoi, "wide-anus'd"!

In the worldview of ancient readers, then, it would've been culturally unthinkable for Gil & Enk -- as equals and mythic heroes -- to even consider subjecting one another to the masochistic indignity of takin' it in the wazoo. (I'm quite aware that many gay men nowadays defend buggery as Loving And Egalitarian, and some argue that letting a guy up your butt is not intrinsically more submissive or kinky than giving him a nice, easy handjob. But I'd insist that historically speaking, this attitude should be seen as a very recent Western "anomaly.")

* [Indeed, for that time and era, the notorious death-penalty verse in Leviticus 20:13 seems ironically "progressive" in its very harshness, at least insofar as it rejects an unfair double standard for Tops versus Bottoms: "If one male anally penetrates another male in imitation of vaginal intercourse ("as with a woman"), both guys are equally disgraced, and in jeopardy of their lives." --ed.]

* * *

© 2013 by Rob McGee

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19 March 2011


A costs/benefits metaphor about homosexuality

Imagine being born with mutations in certain genes that are responsible for the development of the red and blue color receptors in the retina of the eye. The mutations have two significant effects on your vision:

1. You are completely colorblind and see the world in a monochromatic, grayscale continuum. (Or perhaps a "greenscale" continuum — but in any case, it's monochromatic.)
2. However, you are able to see wavelengths of infrared and ultraviolet that are invisible to most humans. Thus, some flowers that appear solid-colored to people with normal vision have dazzling zebra-stripe designs to you, as they do to many insects, because you can see ultraviolet patterning on the flower. And in a pitch-black room, you can see the warmth of another person's body, or a hot cup of coffee, or the spot on the sofa where the dog was sleeping a few minutes ago.

Monochromatic colorblindness (center) might not seem so bad if you were also able to see infrared (left) and ultraviolet (right)...

I consider my homosexuality as somewhat analogous to this, because I am clearly missing out on certain experiences that normal heterosexual men can take for granted in their lives. But I'm also able to experience aspects of life that normal heterosexual men cannot, or that they can only do in a limited way and with difficulty — so there's a definite trade-off!

...but there are also advantages to seeing the world in glorious Technicolor, as normal people do.

Of course, the "things I'm experiencing" are not sense perceptions, but rather social interactions with men and with women: I don't interact with either men or with women in the same way that a heterosexual man typically would.

So an observant heterosexual man will be able to "see things" about men and women and male/female social relationships that I don't necessarily pick up on, but the converse can also be true — I may easily "see things" about men and women that a heterosexual man is likely to miss. (And I'm not even getting into the fact that homosexual sex can "feel good"; even if you're homosexual and celibate, being a man who's sexually attracted to other men but not sexually attracted to women will affect how you socialize with men and with women -- and this difference in socialization can be positive and constructive.)

P.S. Just to be pedantic and geeky about it, the hypothetical mutation I describe is quite unlikely, and particularly the "seeing infrared" part. (Retinal "cone receptors" that can detect ultraviolet as a visible color are actually found in some vertebrates, including birds. But as far as I know, there aren't any animals that literally SEE infrared in the sense that they're able to form a focused infrared image on the retina in a manner analogous to a thermal-imaging camera).

There are definitely animals that can detect infrared radiation -- such as pit-viper snakes -- but they don't see infrared via the eyes. That said, as human mutations go, being able to see infrared would be vastly less unlikely than shooting laserbeams out of your eyes -- sorry, X-men!

21 April 2010


How Brokeback Mountain lied...

Here's the passage from Annie Proulx's short story "Brokeback Mountain" in which the two men have their very first sexual encounter, after Jack invites Ennis to share Jack's pup tent and blanket on a cold night:

It was big enough, warm enough, and in a little while they deepened their intimacy considerably. Ennis ran full throttle on all roads whether fence mending or money spending, and he wanted none of it when Jack seized his left hand and brought it to his erect cock. Ennis jerked his hand away as though he'd touched fire, got to his knees, unbuckled his belt, shoved his pants down, hauled Jack onto all fours, and, with the help of the clear slick and a little spit, entered him, nothing he'd done before but no instruction manual needed. They went at it in silence except for a few sharp intakes of breath and Jack's choked 'Gun's goin off,' then out, down, and asleep.

The first thing that should be obvious to any critical eye is that Ms. Proulx has never in her life been anally penetrated, and that she most likely "researched" the scene by watching a few gay pr0n videos.

The second thing that should be obvious is that if a heterosexual male author had written a short romance between cowboy Ennis and cowgirl Jill, and Ennis had initiated their sexual affair by "hauling Jill onto all fours" and roughly fucking her in the anus using only spit and precum as lube, and the entire thing were presented as sweet and romantic, it probably never have become an Oscar-nominated movie. Because odds are, the New Yorker wouldn't have printed the short story in the first place.

Because a "romantic" scene in which cowgirl Jill gets forcefully buttfucked doggie-style -- and keeps coming back to cowboy Ennis for more -- would have (quite reasonably) struck too many readers as one of misogynist violence (and/or a commentary on battered-wife syndrome). For this to have occurred as the opening sequence to a decades-long romance would've seemed "retro" not merely in the "Eisenhower era" sense, but rather, caveman retro.

And that's because when anal sex is placed in a heterosexual context, everyone immediately understands that if it's going to be done it all, it must be done very gently, and with lots of lube.

24 August 2009


Voices from "The Gay AIDS Industry"

"Why I gots Andrew Sullivan Delendum Est
a-tattooed on my hairy chest"

Okay, so I don't actually have that (or anything else) tattooed on my chest -- my skin is way too prone to keloid scarring, and besides, what if I wanna convert to Orthodox Judaism someday? I think it'd make a nifty motto for an embroidered throw-pillow, however, questionable Latin and all.

I really DO dislike Andrew Sullivan, though. Of course, I don't really want to see him destroyed, but I think it would be quite fitting if he had to sell himself into indentured servitude to pay for his antiviral meds, instead of passing on the cost to the readers of The New Republic.

But don't think that I seethe with contempt for Andrew because he did a 180 on the Gulf War after Dubya supported the Defense of Marriage Amendment; nor because he claimed to be shocked when the Pope reaffirmed the Vatican's total disapproval of homosexual acts; and not even because of his deranged, Downs-phobic obsession with the maternity of Trig Palin.

In my mind, all those are as trifling peccadilloes compared to Sully's astounding pile of slimy sarcasm and self-serving lies that was published in the 5 July, 2005 issue of The Advocate. (Though, admittedly, I haven't been a regular reader of America's #1 LGBT News Magazine™ since I was in college, and therefore didn't find out about Sullivan's 2005 Advocate column until seeing a reference to it in a 2008 metafilter thread.)

The column's official title is "Still Here, So Sorry" -- by which Andrew means to say "Ex-cuuuuuuuuuse me for not dropping dead of AIDS." Like Sullivan, I was raised Catholic, so with a tip of the hat to John Cardinal Newman, I'd suggest that a better title for Andrew's pathetic scribbling might've been Apologia pro Vita Suina (et Scrofulosa).

Although many HIV+ individuals have testified that being infected is not the end of the world -- it's an evergreen topic in gay media -- Sullivan goes way, way beyond that, and in my view takes it all the way to glamorizing his "poz" status. There's a lot of self-justifying ridiculousness, but what truly earns Sullivan a special place in Hell is this:

At the tender age of 41—a year longer than I once thought I would live -— I have never felt better.


Yes, I take testosterone and human growth hormone, and I now weigh 190 pounds. I discovered a couple of abs in my midsection the other day. I'll try to disguise them. Do they sell burkas online? I’ve even enjoyed sex more since I became positive -- more depth, more intimacy, more appreciation of life itself. Sorry.

Aarrgh. Just aargh. That's exactly the message that non-infected gay men need to hear, Andrew.

Later he writes about how easy it has become to manage HIV infection:

Five pills once a day. No side effects to speak of.

But his earlier comment about taking testosterone and HGH reveals how deceptive that "no side effects" assertion is -- since both substances are prescribed specifically to help reduce certain side-effects of the antiviral drugs. (And incidentally, Sullivan's bulked-up form has led many to speculate that he's probably using testosterone considerably in excess of the "hormone replacement therapy" levels that a doctor would normally prescribe.)

Some gay media figures rip Sully a much bigger hole...

Journalist and "professional activist" Michelangelo Signorile responded with a blistering column entitled Dear Bareback Andy. Although I am decidedly not a fan of Signorile -- whose claims to fame include involvement with ACTUP's headline-whore "consciousness raising" at Catholic Masses -- I give him major props for being harshly and tirelessly critical of the barebacking trend. And aside from the gratuitous slams on Sullivan's "right wing" politics, Signorile's scorn for "Bareback Andy" is wonderful to see -- "I gotta go get me some of that hot poz seed!"

...while others rush to his defense

On the other hand, Washington Blade columnist Chris Crain took umbrage at Signorile's attack, and Crain's defense of Sully even endorsed Sullivan's likening of HIV infection to diabetes:

Rather than losing all credibility by trying to scare people into abstinence until marriage or safe sex until death, HIV prevention ought to arm people with useful information from which they can make their own judgment about what risks to take.

If you're at a high risk for diabetes, your doctor wouldn't dream of scaring you with warnings like, "Don't you ever eat another chocolate cake in your life!"

If Crain's name rings a bell, it's possibly because he and his boyfriend were once beaten up by "Moroccan youths" in Amsterdam, which got plenty of coverage in the non-gay press. But quite honestly, I was inclined to get in line behind the Moroccan youths after reading the final grafs in Crain's response to Signorile:

Gay men, who are by nature at higher risk of getting HIV, can take certain steps to lower their risk: explore safer sexual activity like oral sex and frottage; stick to being a top in anal sex if you do not want to wear a condom

Fifty points to Crain for at least mentioning ''frottage,'' but minus a thousand points for neglecting to define it for readers who might think that he's talking about the criminal practice of rubbing one's crotch against unwilling strangers on a crowded subway (that's "frotteurism"). And minus a further 17 quintillion points for the recommendation that I've highlighted in bold text. Since every top requires a bottom, Crain's dipshit advice actually translates to: "Let the other guy(s) bear the brunt of the risk for your unwillingness to put on a raincoat."

Sex columnist Dan Savage has astutely noted that anal "tops" who feel no ethical responsibility to wear a rubber if the "bottom" doesn't insist on it belong in the same category as straight guys who say that worrying about birth control is entirely the woman's problem. Or, in the immortal phrasing of Todd the Squirrel from Chris Onstad's online comic Achewood:

With the minor difference, continues Savage, that people were customarily quite unembarrassed about saying that straight men who hold this attitude are appalling pigs. But Crain (who later became Executive Editor of the Washington Blade) apparently thinks that would be too, you know, judgmental. And Crain continues with the lethal non-judgmentalism:

Gay men who already have HIV should also be hearing a message grounded in reality: explore non-risky sexual activity like oral sex and frottage; stick to being a bottom in anal sex if you do not want to wear a condom; if you really want to bareback as a top, make sure your partner knows your HIV status.

So, to HIV+ men who wish to anally penetrate other men without a rubber, Crain's reality-grounded answer is "Okay-doke, just be sure to mention in advance that you have HIV." Which is a bit like saying to Todd the Squirrel: if you really want to fuck a bitch without wearing a gunny sack, it's okay as long as you remind her that sperm can cause pregnancy.

I just wish I could say that Crain and Sullivan were odd anomalies in the gay world, but their attitudes here are just the logical ends of a "mainstream gay culture" which holds that stigmatizing bad behavior is a sin far worse than the bad behavior itself could be.

10 August 2009


Dave & John: "Bi-curious J/O buddies"?

It's amusing, and also a little frustrating, that when scholars speculate about the mere possibility of occasional physical homoeroticism involving great men of history who were known to be primarily heterosexual -- or more briefly, when the possibility that a guy like Abraham Lincoln might've been bisexual a few times in his adult life is put forward -- the speculation is treated like an "Extraordinary Claim Requiring Extraordinary Evidence," as though we were talking about UFO sightings, telekinetic spoon-bending, or a golden retriever that can tap dance and sing Cole Porter.

Above: Imagine the sensational Patti LuPone as Patti LuPooch. THAT would be an Extraordinary Claim Requiring Extraordinary Evidence, but occasional male bisexuality is far more mundane...

For example, let's take the case of David and Jonathan, whose intimate male friendship (though not necessarily involving physical intimacy to the point of shared orgasm) is described primarily in the Biblical book that Christians call 1 Samuel. Their story begins in chapter 17 and continues all the way to 2 Samuel 1:26, in which verse David grieves over Jonathan's bloodied body and laments, "my brother Jonathan, very pleasant hast thou been unto me; thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women."

Now, how to interpret that "passing the love of women" remark?

Clearly, David had enormous heterosexual energy, and presumably Jonathan did too (at least, he was married and had a son). It's also clear that ancient Jewish culture had a particularly strong revulsion towards male/male anal penetration, since it's prohibited in Lev. 18:22 and Lev. 20:13 as an abomination worthy of capital punishment for both men involved. So David and Jonathan, as G-d-fearing Jews, would never ever have crossed the grassy divider and taken a ride up Hershey Highway.

However, it's also abundantly clear (in my experience-informed opinion, anyway) that when two soldiers who trust each other intimately are sharing a blanket on a cold, lonely night, far away from female company, and both of them wake up with "morning wood," well... sometimes things are gonna happen. That is, the friendship goes temporarily into "bi-curious jack-off buddies" territory. (Indeed, in my view, that's a major part of why "Don't Ask Don't Tell" continues to drag on as a political controversy in the U.S. -- it's the messy reality of male bisexual potential. If there were truly a stark hetero/homo dichotomy, with 98% of men being exclusively hetero and 2% being exclusively homo, DADT would've long since been resolved in favor of a policy that allowed the homo 2% to serve "openly" so long as they were very discreet and low-key about it.)

In short, there is most definitely a logical third option between the timidly prudish "David and Jonathan were just really super close Platonic friends" of Biblical dogmatists and "David and Jonathan were butt-bangin' out-and-proud Gay men who challenged received patriarchal gender norms," as some Queer Theorist idjits would have us believe.

Mind you, I'm not claiming that Dave and John, on some cold lonely nights, necessarily kissed and cuddled and played with each other's dicks and enjoyed some harmless "swordfighting" until they both came. I'm just saying that there's no Scriptural basis whatsoever to completely rule out that possibility -- for Christianity teaches that only Jesus was entirely without sin, and Judaism doesn't make that claim about any mortal man.

Furthermore, human nature hasn't changed since Biblical times, and we all know that when horny, mostly-straight guys are desperate for something more fun than solo masturbation because there aren't any willing ladies or even hookers around, "circle jerks" have once in a while been the time-honored pragmatic solution, and this has been the case throughout the history of human males. Thus, probably David and Jonathan were just best friends, but maybe they were sometimes "friends with benefits," without ever doin' what-what in the butt. Peace out!

04 August 2009


Arts 'n' Crafts

[Arts 'n' crafts tip: Print this out and paste on a piece of cereal-box cardboard for an instant Frot Awareness sign!]


Just Because Your Desire to Share Orgasmic
Affection with Other Dudes Feels as NATURAL
and AUTOMATIC to You as Using a Rock to
Bang Open a Tasty Clam on His Fuzzy Tummy
Does to a California Sea Otter...

...Does NOT Mean That You Have an Inborn,
Hardwired Instinct To Let Someone Shove
Something as Big as an Erect Penis
In and Out of Your Lower Colon!


Gay male culture TEACHES men that they should diligently practice and practice and practice until they start to enjoy the sensation of being anally penetrated -- and believe you me, there's quite a substantial learning curve involved! And then the culture encourages them to think that this is somehow encoded in their genes.

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