Plato’s Symposium and The Angry Inch

Don’t watch this clip yet. It’s not time! I’ll tell you when!

This love story comes to you from Steven Trask and the movie version of Hedwig and The Angry Inch.

But first, let’s have a little history, what say you? What? I can’t hear you! I’ll assume you are saying, “Teach on, teacher! I live to learn and to learn about living from you is like someone going through a bag of Skittles and pulling out all the gross green and yellow ones, and leaving me with a mouth full of red and purple yum!” That is what you’re saying, right?

It all started with the Greek poet Aristophenes, who puts forth a theory of love later recounted by Plato*, as told at a big philosopher drunk fest called the Symposium in around 380 B.C.  At the party, each guest must put forth a speech in praise of love. That’s how philosophers party. They find it highly a-muse-ing.

The philosophers were all highly esteemed and each had some specialty; one was a medical expert, one well-versed in legal issues, one a hairdresser. OK, there probably wasn’t a hairdresser, because back then they all had slanted bowl haircuts and pointy beards, but I like to make sure you’re paying attention.

 This Italian fresco from 475 B.C. is of a symposium scene. At this particular symposium, I’m thinking they probably did a whole heck of a lot more than just talk about love (“Ah, Praxenius, I believe I got some of my chocolate on your right nipple! And would that be your peanut butter on my wee willie winkelus?”) But I digress.

Anyway, we’ll never really be sure about what exactly happened at Plato’s Philosophest, on account of the first rule of Plato’s Symposium was what happens at Plato’s, stays at Plato’s, so I guess I’ll have to make some of it up.

Because all these dudes were ancient Greeks, they spoke a lot about ancient Greek mythology and baklava. Actually, they didn’t speak so much about baklava, but did speak  with their mouths full of it, so it’s difficult to decipher just what they are saying in the original Greek text, that of course I am reading in the original Greek, from Wikipedicus Majoris Pectoral. I’ll do the best that I can.

The first guy to talk said that Love, or Eros, was the oldest of all the gods and had no parents. Therefore, one can infer that love appears mature and fully formed, like Aphrodite, the goddess of Beauty, Love, Pleasure and Procreation, who, legend has it, was born from the sea-foam as it rolled onto the beach.

She later dropped the Procreation part of her powers because it was a real cock-block at parties. Who can blame her?

I think that’s a cool metaphor, and one could make a reasonable argument that love can be   a powerful, sudden force, that, once conceived, is not carefree or childish, but carries with it adult responsibilities and rewards.

One could argue this, but the wise men at the party chose to argue over whether or not Achilles and Patroclus were lovers or just really good friends. They were all up in each others bid-ness.

The next guy goes on a rant about love and lust being separate, and how lust is common, but love is heavenly, and is based on honoring a partner’s soul and intelligence.

Then he talks for awhile about the laws regarding purchasing young boys for sexual favors. Mostly, the laws favored the favors.

The next speaker is supposed to be Aristophenes, but he is so wasted that he develops a wicked case of the hiccups. Instead of helping him, the dude who is well versed in medicine and the body speaks. He says that love is in everything in the universe, and that it is something to be protected. He says the force of love effects everything in the human plane of existence, and is in every part of being, including our blood. He says that love in our bodies can cure or poison, and that love is what brings humans closer to the divine.

Meanwhile, Aristophenes is turning blue.

Finally he recovers, and tells the story that years later, Hedwig, a transsexual whose botched surgery makes her somewhat of an hermaphrodite, recounts in the video clip above, but with music and pictures.

NOW! Watch the clip now!

Back at the Symposium, lots more goes down, but I got tired of reading it, so I skipped great hunks of it, until these three guys, one of whom is Socrates, get into a big cat fight about great hunks, most notably Agathon, who was a real Greek stud muffin. Socrates speech is notable, because it is the origin of the concept of Platonic love.

Socrates starts out by going all Socratic method on Agathon, making him look like a fool, but he’s still super hot, so I figure he’ll still make out all right at the end of the night. Of course, when I say “make out”, I really mean “make out.” And also doin’ it. Greek style. Again, I digress.

Socrates goes to this woman, Diotima, to find out the real truth about love. Finally! Diotima says that love is the child of Resource and Poverty, and has attributes of both.

Interesting! Also, confounding. What the hell does that mean?

Here is what I figure: picture, if you will, a pair of pants. In these pants, we have a pocketful of poverty, i.e., all that we lack. We also have a pocketful of resource, which is filled with the tools we use to get what we want or need. Love occurs when these pockets are equally filled or emptied. When we find love, we are able to put on our own pants, one leg at a time; we are able to take care of ourselves. We become balanced. Love enables us to deal with our own conflicted natures. Love keeps us from having our junk exposed and makes us less vulnerable to predators, shrinkage, and life. And love is machine washable. Which is a very good thing. As another great philosopher, Mitch Hedberg, once said, “This shirt is dry clean only…which means it’s dirty.”

Love doesn’t have to be dirty. Unless of course you’re trapped with a bunch of drunken,  horny ancient Greek philosophers at Plato’s pad, and you’re homophobic.Then it’s filthy.

*Maybe this was told by Socrates. I don’t know. If you’re such a stickler for details, why don’t you look this stuff up yourself?

P.S. Thank you to all of you who wrote in about last week’s post, written by a total stranger, who disappeared just as suddenly as he/she hacked my computer, leaving him/her totally untraceable. I appreciate your comments and your readership. As they say in 1984, “some day we will meet in a place where there is no darkness.” Until then, wanna go to happy hour one day?

Hang in there!


Zippity-zeke! My oh my, it’s a wonderful week! The BSISD just announced that we would have another snow day! One snow day is a precious gift, to be savored and relived throughout the year. Two days is unprecedented glory. Three snow days… I can’t even begin to describe the joy I feel right now. It’s like a unicorn in a tutu, or a porpoise dancing on a cloud made of rainbow mist. With chocolate. And valium. Valiums. (Vali-yums! Yes, please!)

Don’t get me wrong; I feel badly for the rest of the states. I know it’s vicious cold, and people don’t have power, or live on the streets, and there is snow suffocating the city, with no real way to dig out, and trapped, and frostbite, and icy danger, and misery everywhere. Poor, poor Chicago! Are you OK, Oklahoma? Coldorado, I feel you! Do you feel ConnectiCUT off from the rest of the world? Poor babies, everyone!
The nightly news keeps me in a state of awe and fear. Only one inch of ice can equal a TON of weight on a power line! Yikes! This is the seventh storm since mid-December, and there’s more to come… Zoinks! Wind can blow you down and ice can cause you to TOTALLY LOSE CONTROL in your car, or even on foot! Shizowie! So horrible and scary! But…
right now I am so happy I could pee all over myself! No school! Yayyy! School sucks! Boo school! Yay, no school! Woohoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
These snow days haven’t been like the snow days of yore. (Here’s what I wrote last time there was a snow day, which was way back in yore:
For one thing, it’s cold up in here. My house is old, weak and full of crevices – much like my body, actually- and is therefore unable to keep in the heat and keep out the chill. Blizzard brrr comes in through the windows, carpets the floor, and wraps itself like an icy cloak around my shivering shoulders. I have on tights, sweat pants, double socks and two sweaters. I look like a wool sausage, but it’s frosty in the living room. I could turn up the heat, but in my city the companies that control warmth are imposing rolling blackouts to conserve energy for the rich Superbowl fans who clog the hotels and bars like so much greasy hair in a big, suckhole drain. I don’t want to call attention to myself, so I keep the heat at below-the-radar levels. Smart, right?
Also, I don’t feel so well. The flu is going around -not to mention the TB – and I’m afraid I may be standing on the the corner of Puke and Rhea; believe you me, I don’t want to cross over! My nephew was sick on Monday, and my niece is ill now; it seems like just a matter of time. So far I’m ok, because I’m sticking to my routine of rigid denial; I know this isn’t really the flu, just allergies, but if I succumb for just one moment, I’m afraid snow day will turn into sick day, which is UNCOOL, FOOL!
Furthermore, I have been wasting my time! I have been so non-productive during this special unforeseen break that even I am ashamed of myself. I haven’t changed out of my pajamas in three days. I wake up only to take naps. Instead of reading all of the fantastic books I have stacked up near my bed, I’ve been catching up on TMZ and drunken Hoda Kotb. Instead of exercising, I’ve been watching The Biggest Loser and eating cheese. Every day before I go to bed, I say to myself, “Tomorrow, things are going to be different.” In fact, I said that last night. And yet today, I:
* Had a dream that I was hanging out with my good friends Alec Baldwin and Justin Bieber. Turns out, we’re not as close as I thought we were, because they started making fun of my stereo (do people still call them ‘stereos’?) and then said I wasn’t funny. Bastards.
* Woke up and spent 45 minutes on the computer trying to find a joke that would put Baldwin and Bieber to shame. Spent an hour watching Mitch Hedberg clips I have already seen.
Mitch Hedberg. Never not funny.
*Called McAdams to tell her I was lazy. She too has snow days, and was already on her second Bailey’s Chai Latte. I told her about Baldwin and Bieber, and about how this friend of mine works in a hotel, and Justin Bieber allegedly stayed there. Apparently, the Biebster had a late night visitor whom my friend knows as a frequent visitor of hotel patrons, if ya know what I mean… a frequent paid visitor of hotel patrons… let me sing it for ya, just to make sure it’s clear: Justin Bieber had a ho, doo-dah, doo-dah! Somehow, this got us talking about Bieber wiener (McAdams: “But, he’s ten, right? It’s gotta be tiny!”), which, as I’m sure you can discern, is not the type of conversation a person has to make herself feel better about wasting her time.
*Found two dry, scaly places on my leg when I was putting on my socks. Either I have a touch of the eczema, whatever that is, or I’m turning into an anaconda.
*Made an enormous vat of soup to replace the enormous half-vat of soup I just had to throw out, because really, how much soup can one girl slurp?
*And…that’s about it. For the whole day, up until now.
Still… even a wasted snow day is better than no snow day. And I’ve been given a second chance! Really, tomorrow things are going to be different! Yay, snow day!
Here is a picture of Atticus Shaffer, adorable star of the ABC comedy “The Middle”, when asked to estimate the size of the Bieber baton:

I think he looks a lot like David Sedaris, world famous author, commentator and funny man. They have the same teeth.

Here is a picture of Sedaris imagining Justin Bieber’s monkey, but not really feeling bad about it:

Special BONUS for all those men and women out there working on the electricity lines during the Great Snowstorm of 2011:

Thanks, and don’t cut my power!

Not complaining can kill you!


I just got back from a fantastic mini-vacation, magnificently planned, I must say, to have a maximum amount of fun for a minimal amount of time and money. All went swimmingly, except for one little hitch; I couldn’t turn my head. I’ve had a little problem with tension in my shoulders for about six months or so, but lately it’s gotten worse, so I went and had a massage, which I enjoyed. The masseuse rubbed my neckial region and then told me that my glutes were activated. Of course, I thanked him politely; I’m nothing if not polite. He informed me that active glutes are not a good thing, and spent the rest of the session gouging his elbows into the fat of my ass. I was bruised for much of the rest of the week, which completely took my mind off the fact that my shoulders felt like they had been cranked up to my ears and been superglued there. I would have just sucked it up – I’m nothing if not a sucker -but my friends kept making fun of me whenever I tried to turn my head. “Ha ha!” they laughed. ” She looks like that robot from “Lost in Space!” Hey, Barney Rubble! Where’s your neck, Barney? Ha ha!”

My friends are hilarious.

Still, I figured I couldn’t spend the rest of my life never looking left, so I decided to do something about it. I’m nothing if not a decider.

I looked up my old bud from college -I’ll call him Jon, because that’s his name – because he is an expert in relaxation. In fact, my most in my most vivid memories of him from those days, I always picture him in bed. In the days since, he has continued his higher education, and become a massage therapist, and now he knows lots of stuff about muscles, tendons and connective tissue. He was kind enough to clear his schedule and give me a bit of the magic touch.

I expected candles, water noises (always makes me have to peepee), scented face pillows, and soft, whispering touches, and experience from which I would emerge as loose as the elastic in Britney Spears waistband (Get it? On account she don’t wear no panties! They’re never on, get it?!) Alas, none of this was to be. Jon proceeded to tell me everything that is wrong with me, and Lordy Lou, I am jacked up! I have pinched nerves, swelling around my L7 (a swollen lesbian band?), Darth Vadars Spatula, TMJ, REM’s , Sphygmoidal Redaction, Carpet Tunnels, Primae Faciae, and Pectoralis. There is a chance I misunderstood some of the things he told me, though he explained very patiently; I was just so OVERWHELMED by everything, and it was hard to focus. I do recall that he said that I had some muscle tone under my fat, which I took as a bold flirtation – flattering, yes, but inappropriate under the circumstances. Anyhoo, Jon was as shocked as I was at the extent of my tension. Muscles that should feel like rubber bands felt like piano wire, and at one point, when he pressed a spot in my jaw, I burst into tears. How did I get this way?

That’s right, ladies and gents! You guessed it; I haven’t been complaining enough! It is just NOT good for you to contain your poisonous stress levels, and if you don’t eject that venom onto society as a whole, it backs up and clogs your system. You need to roto-rooter yourself with a good dose of cacking and get that stuff out of you! Take your lambda probe and clean out your bitch-filter! Let it fly, people! Don’t hold that stuff in!


Of course, there are other things you can do to reduce tension. One of those things is to relax. In order to facilitate this, I have decided to talk like Matthew McConaughey or Mitch Hedberg, two guys who actually sound a lot alike, except for the first is stoned and stupid, and the second is just stoned. And also deceased. Anyway, when you talk like that, it’s hard to be uptight, alright, alright. I am also considering developing a prescription drug addiction, but so far my doctor hasn’t been altogether cooperative in this venture. I am definitely going to take more vacations, because the fun is good for me. Finally, more massage is key. Maybe next time another human being touches me, I can bear it without sobbing. In the meantime (Mean time? What does that even mean? Average time? Aggressively unkind time? Significant time?), I have a new challenge for myself: chillax and be happy, and when I’m sad, frustrated or angry, or if my feelings are hurt, I’m telling. So, I’ll listen to your complaining if you listen to mine. Even if it’s boring. Anybody want in on this action? I’m nothing if not generous with my solutions to life’s little problems.

Poem that Complains About the Heat, by Liliane Richman:

The Killer Heat

We’ve been in the hundreds
a couple weeks lasting
so unfair
fraying memory
of the changeling Spring
who lulled me
into believing
it would stay forever

This is what it looks like when things are going swimmingly.

This is what it looks like when things are NOT going so swimmingly.

QUESTION TO PONDER: When fish are whacked, do they say, “Yeah, Louie the Fin? He’s sleepin’ with the humans, now!”?

ANOTHER QUESTION: How would you punctuate that last question? I’m nothing if not puctual…