Hey, gang, here I go again! Only I lied when I wrote that headline, because these babies are brand new bargains and rarin’ to go! Drive ’em off the lot for up to 1/2 price, no trade-in required and no tiresome negotiations! I just didn’t think you’d believe me if I said that in the headline!
Yes, it’s the annual Summer/Winter Sale at Smashwords, my favorite purveyor of e-literature. Why? Because, with exquisite taste, they published me, when all other e-book distributors gave me either derisive scorn, or mocking laughter, at the thought of publishing a human-dolphin romance novel!
Well I’ve shown them, haven’t I? Since 2010, over 2,150 copies of Wet Goddess: Recollections of a Dolphin Lover sold in 18 countries, not including South Korea, which for some reason has a ban on Western books going even to U.S. service personnel, but a psychiatric institute in Beijing did order a copy to complete their collection on decadent, imperialistic Western sexual perversions, I guess. Got to keep up with trends in mental illness, after all, and delphinophilia is one of the latest!
(When looking for my books in Smashwords, be sure to set Filtering in the blue bar at the top of the page to Include all Erotica, otherwise you’ll never see them!)
To get a 25% discount on Wet Goddess regular price of $6.99, use this code: WE48B.
Not only that, but the memoir that rips wide-open the weird, creepy, seamy side of my childhood, and exposes New Age psychiatrist Dr. Wilhelm Reich for the idiotic fraud he was, Growing Up in the Orgone Box: Secrets of a Reichian Childhood, is on sale for 50% off!
What’s it like to be only 5 years old and lying on a couch, butt naked, with a dark, bitter man staring at you, who is going to hurt you, molest you and cause you only pain? And soundproof walls and a locked door stand between him and your father?
This book tells that story, reveals my mother’s callous indifference to my welfare, and exposes the dangers of believing in pseudo-science, or any unwarranted belief system whether religious or not, rather than your own child.
To get a 50% discount on Orgone Box regular price of $6.99, use this code: BJ25B
The Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale lasts from July 1-July 31, and they call it that because when it’s summer in this hemisphere it’s winter Down Under, right? Right!
And, maybe, I will get out an e-book copy of my straight, heterosexual sex-with-an-alien science-fiction novel Mel-Khyor: An Interstellar Affair in time for the sale. I’ve had some people who don’t like the audio book asking for it, and it’s time I did it, because it sure is gathering dust in paperback! Stranger things have happened, pigs have flown.
But basically you should buy my books for 2 reasons:
1) They are supremely entertaining, if weird, stories that happen to be true, and
2) I need to increase my gross income, so I can support my writing habit. And I’m Jonesing bad, man, bad!
NEWS FLASH: At precisely 8 p.m. on June 30 (if hostess TerriLee has her act together, likewise me, and the internet gods smile upon us), I will be a guest, for the second freaking time, on the podcast True Crime & Coke. This marks a new level of sophistication in my career as a dolphin evangelist, because it’s the first time anyone has asked me to be on a second time!
But this time, the subject won’t be those clever dolphins and their unstoppable sex drives. Instead, it will be two experiences in my life which affected me profoundly: The influence of the mad 1950’s pseudo-scientist Wilhelm Reich on my family when I was a child, documented in my memoir Growing Up in the Orgone Box;and, decades later, in my 30’s, learning to become a Witch (yes, not a warlock) from my first wife Seafoam, only to suffer, some 20 years later, a complete loss of my faith in ritual and magic as my marriage to my second wife (I can’t remember her magical name, so I’ll just call her as I do in my most recent science-fiction novel Mel-Khyor: An Interstellar Affair, Susie Louise) crumbled around me, taking my profession, home, family and sanity with it.
I don’t know exactly how long the program will be, 1-2 hrs. (I can’t go much longer than that, especially starting at 8 p.m.) is the usual, or whether listeners will be able to ask questions by text or call in. All that is to be determined, is above my pay grade, is being contemplated by cool and objective minds far greater than mine… or any humans! Muuu-hahahahaha! But, if you’re not too busy digging your new flower bed in the evening hours, or working on a canning project, or finding a cleaning solution that remove those stubborn blood stains from the curtains, why don’t you tune in?
Members of the Neo-Pagan community particularly invited, not because I’m going to try to talk you into or out of anything, but maybe you can find something in my story to relate to. After all, who among us has not, at some time, doubted the efficacy of their magic? And Reichians? Sure, they can listen in if they want, and learn that their “Great Man” (Reich’s own term for himself — modest, much, Wilhelm?) had serious feet of clay. A man who, despite having written a textbook called Character Analysis, proved to be an absolutely clueless idiot when it came to analyzing the character of his closest associates.
What more can I say? I’m going to reveal some really awful family secrets? Yes. I’m going to spill my guts? I’m going to set my hair on fire? Sorry, no seppuku, no ignitions, but, as said of the celebrated Mr. Kite in the Beatles’ song,
“A splendid time is guaranteed for all, and tonight Mr. Kite is topping the biiiillllll!” (Cue the calliope.)
I think it can be safely said that I do know what anthropomorphism is. In its simplest form, it is endowing non-human entities, be they animals, plants, objects or just natural forces, with human traits, like awareness, reason, and emotions.
Especially emotions. We are long past the point of imagining a god is mad at us personally or collectively because a storm passes over… but a tornado, typhoon or hurricane may elicit that response, because the damage is more severe, or widespread, or fatal. Legally, we still refer to things that are foreseeable but unlikely and unavoidable as “acts of God,” a term that shows the piety of our lawyers, if not their wits.
We must thus be very careful in our dealings with other animals, who do not share our human ways, not to anthropomorphise them; we do so at our own risk! For instance, that grinning chimpanzee isn’t happy with you, it’s about to rip your face off!
Exposing your canine teeth (fangs) is a sign of aggression in chimps, even though grinning among us humans is a sign of pleasure. Moral? Just give that chimp a nice, close-lipped smile, and retain your face a while longer.
Same with a dog that humps your leg; this often comes up in discussions about how Dolly the dolphin used to rub against me. She was definitely masturbating, but chances are about 90% that your dog doesn’t have sex on its mind when it humps you, it has dominance.
I say that because I saw it in action. Long-time readers will remember that before I acquired Epic I had two other dogs from Grants, N.M., Pixel and Pugsley. Pugsley was a neutered Husky bitch, one of the smaller dogs that Husky enthusiasts tell me do most of the actual sled-pulling.
So that was Pugsley’s raison d’être. Then Cay came to stay at my place and brought with her Keiko, an utterly untrainable (to Cay, anyhow) 80 lb./36 kg. male pit bull mix.
When the dogs had settled into a predictable dominance hierarchy, with Keiko uncomplainingly on the bottom, every night, after they ate, Pugsley would hump him. Keiko pretended she wasn’t there. For the two dogs, this served a dual purpose: for Pugsley, reassurance of her dominant position over Keiko, and for him, the ability to completely blow her off, because she was fixed, whereas Pixel, who was my mate at the time, wasn’t, and Keiko got her pregnant when… well, that’s another, sad story.
But the point here isn’t to make you any more sorry for me than you already are, it’s to explain that humping for dogs, and many other quadrupeds, is not only sexual activity but a crude form of dominance behavior, expressed by both males and females, and should be interpreted thus in non-sexual situations. The “obvious” betrays us because we are conditioned to think of humping as involving sex. Not always!
I think it can also be safely said that many, if not most, scientists familiar with marine mammals will accuse me of anthropomorphism in allowing my relationship with Dolly to develop to the degree that it did, but this isn’t true either. In fact, I can safely say that, because of my experience, few other humans are as aware of the differences between humans and dolphins as I am!
So what do I make of the late Drs. David and Melba Caldwell, co-authors of many scientific papers and the popular, anti-revisionist, pro-U.S. Navy book The World of the Bottlenose Dolphin, when they say, as they do in the book,
“Dolphins are not little people in wet suits.”
By this, I take it the really mean,
“DON’T FUCKING ANTHROPOMORPHIZE DOLPHINS!”
but they were much too polite to put it that way, at least in print.
On the surface, this homily seems like a foregone conclusion. As a species, bottlenose dolphins are vastly older than us, having retained their current form, including the large, 3.3 lb./1.5 kg. brain, much more convoluted than our 3 lb./1.36 kg. model, for the past 12,000,000 (that’s 12 million, for the numerically-challenged) years. We have had our current, erect primate form only since Homo Erectus about 2 million years ago, and our current level of physical and cultural evolution, Homo sapiens, for about 250,000 (one-quarter million) years at longest. Obviously, these creatures who exist without tools, weapons, protective clothing or even manipulative appendages (aside from their mouths) could teach our species a thing or two about SURVIVAL SKILLS!
What I found really surprising about Dolly’s behavior was how much it WAS similar to human behavior, and I don’t think this just my interpretation. For instance, consider the situation when I brought “Elaine,” a young woman (just turned 18, not that it should interest you) I wanted to have a serious (read sexual) relationship with, to meet Dolly, “the gentlest of all the dolphins,” her trainer and the woman who coaxed me to shoot photos for her never-written book claimed.
Dolly, of course, had her own damned ideas!
Am I wrong when I label this behavior “jealousy”? It caught me totally unawares! I had never imagined that a creature like a dolphin could regard me as her exclusive property, to be defended against all interlopers for their attentions, whether her own species or not!
How did Dolly know, sense, or figure out, that Elaine was my girlfriend, a rival for her affections, and not my sister, or niece, or daughter? I remember that day there was absolutely no feeling that I had any type of “contact,” or mental communication, with her at all. And not for lack of trying! I was sending her my thoughts — she just wasn’t letting me know she was receiving them!
Years later, when I read David Holroyd’s account of a similar experience with a captive dolphin in Great Britain, I knew my analysis was correct. When dolphins don’t want to communicate with you, they shut down ALL the channels! That’s how you know you’re fucking up.
I could run this post a lot further, but I’ve already published 2 today, and I need some time to make these points, can’t do it willy-nilly. Bare with me, and I’ll get around to telling you why dolphins ARE sometimes “little humans in wet suits”!
PORT CHARLOTTE, FL. – It was a Saturday morning, sunny and quiet, and Florida writer Malcolm J. Brenner was feeling pretty good for a change. The crippling combo of vertigo and chronic fatigue, which had weighed on him for years, weren’t bothering him much, and the many superficial scars from Perugia nodularis, a weird ingrown-hair condition created by inherited psoriasis, were somehow healing. All in all, the morning was ripe with favorable omens, and Brenner felt an uncommon sensation of hope wash over his thin, 5′ 9″ frame.
Grasping the blue, artificial fabric leash attached to the muzzle on his mostly-black-Labrador bitch Epic’s snout tightly in his left hand, Brenner stood in his doorway and took stock of the situation. For their morning walk, the first of the day, the dog and her master turned right at the end of his driveway and followed the sidewalk clockwise around the block on which Brenner’s unassuming but totally adequate yellow General Construction house, a remnant of the 1959 Florida housing boom, stood.
The driveway was getting rather pitted, Brenner noted, and he thought of calling an asphalt contractor for a bid. But that would have to wait until he replaced the decorative wooden post that the bitch had pulled down. Epic had run out her cable barking at a neighbor and his dog walking by, and the cable was connected to the post, which fell down. (“If you push something hard enough, it will fall over.” – Fudd’s First Law.) Fortunately, it wasn’t a load-bearing structural member for the carport, and the roof of the structure remained intact, somewhat to Brenner’s surprise. It had been a few days since the incident, and he counted his blessings.
Suddenly, a loud rustling caught Brenner’s ear, coming from a native cabbage palm to his right. The tree stood adjacent to his lot, at the corner of his neighbor’s property, a nice normal couple named Willy and Rachel, and their several kids. Brenner glanced up, and could see the green, leafy fronds of the palm’s crown in violent motion. Some kind of action was going on inside, something not the common squabbling of birds, as Brenner had seen many times before. Something possibly… BIG.
Taking a moment to reflect on what could be causing the rustling, Brenner mused aloud, to his dog in particular, “I bet that’s a squirrel, Epic, the birds don’t make that much noise!” And then, throwing caution to the four winds, the couple set out on their morning circumambulation… the path taking them right under the suspect tree.
“We had only gone two steps, and then it struck me,” Brenner recounted, sweat beading his 69-year-old brow. “I mean, it didn’t really strike me, or the dog, but it just barely missed us! And it didn’t seem to jump from branch to branch and miss, like they sometimes do, it just fell straight down and landed right in front of us, startling me and bringing Epic to a sudden halt.”
Something small, gray, and fuzzy. Something that barely avoided the stony concrete sidewalk an inch away in its rapid descent, something that landed with a loud THUD! in the soft sand that passes for soil in Florida, leaving a small crater, which Brenner surveyed later.
Not a coconut; cabbage palms don’t grow them. Not a dead bird, or a broken branch, or a cluster of palm berries, like he might have expected, but… a squirrel!
Yes, a ferocious, wild, undomesticated creature now lay before them on its stomach, immobile. Only the Fates knew if it was dead or alive… and capable of attack at any moment!
There was a millisecond of stunned silence. Even Epic, who, being a dog, as the late 19th Century English adventurer Rudyard Kipling pointed out in his classic childhood espionage novel Kim, could fall asleep in the road and wake up instantly just as the wheel of an approaching wagon was about to crush her, was struck dumb by the rodent’s sudden and unexpected, calamitous descent from the vegetative organism, and stood unmoving, too startled by the sudden spectacle to even bark, or whimper helplessly.
“The English have a word for it,” Brenner later recounted breathlessly in the still, humid air, “what is it, Godspell? No, that was a Broadway Jesus musical back in the Seventies. It must be something else… wait… damn it, it’s on the tip of my… oh yeah! Gobsmacked! That’s how Epic and I both felt, utterly gobsmacked by this damn kamikaze rodent plunging towards the Earth and barely missing us! Another two feet and it might have landed on my head, giving me a new, Donald T***p-style hairpiece for free, and possibly knocking me out, too!”
Epic had no comment on the situation, but her soft brown canine eyes betrayed her stress, even hours later.
But before either dog or man could so much as bat a lash, the rogue rodent recovered its senses, gathered its wits and disappeared in a blur of gray under Willy’s white Toyota truck with a camper shell on its back, the good strong fiberglass ones, not the cheap, thin aluminum ones. And then it was gone, gone for good, for better or for worse.
Brenner shook his head, recalling the rampant craziness of the moment.
“I seen them varmints jump before, and a-yup, they’re pretty good at making leaps even a cat would think twice about, and grabbing a branch skinnier than an anorexic model with bulimia, and then they’ll just skitter right on up that tree and out of sight,” Brenner recalled, “but this one was just plain GONE, man! I mean, ZOOM, gone, down on the ground right from under our noses, and that was it. Over and done with. Gone.”
His senses reeling, his mind churning, Brenner and Epic nevertheless managed to complete their morning walk without further incident. But hours later, the ramifications of the event still troubled him.
“That squirrel had no business being in that tree,” he opined. “I mean, I know they live in trees and all, but that tree… that was a bird tree, maybe even a bat tree, you know, a tree for flying things, and squirrels… they definitely do not fly! I seen ’em, they fall down just like you or me, and land with a thud. So that squirrel musta been up to some mischief there, maybe looking for his breakfast eggs or some hatchlings in a bird’s nest. Yeah, they’re supposed to eat nuts and stuff, and they look all cute and cuddly, but they’ll fool ya and chow down on some baby birds if they can get ’em! Squirrels don’t live on nuts alone!”
Two days later, the incident still left Brenner shaken, and shaking his head in disbelief.
“This world we-all are living in, what’s it coming to when a man, standing on his own property, walking his own dog on his own stretch of sidewalk, has to fear the fall of a robber squirrel from a tree? It could have hurt me, wounded me, or even crushed me, if it was an elephant and not a squirrel, and Epic let it escape without an apology, or even so much as a howdy-do!
“It ain’t natural! Ain’t nothin’ natural left except Dr. Bronner’s Soap, and I hear they make that from mary-jawanna these days. What’s the world coming to? It coulda been a burning jetliner, or a falling satellite, or even an big ol’ asteroid, roaring down to extinguish human civilization forever! But a squirrel…?”
He left the portentous words hanging heavy in the dank, thick air, and poured himself another drink. Epic lapped water nervously from a bowl on the floor.
The proper authorities have been notified, and are taking action to prevent squirrel falls from interfering with the day-to-day life, work and recreation of other Charlotte County residents. Reportedly, they are installing Chinese-made falling squirrel catchers, like a wide, plastic ring, around the trunks of every tree in the county. Further down the road, they are considering the cost and effectiveness of requiring arboreal squirrels to wear mini-parachutes when tree borne. But the shock stays with the victim.
“I can’t get over it, and neither can my dog,” Brenner concluded. “She ain’t been the same since that… danged thing dang near fell on us! She’s been whimpering and howling and keeps looking up tree trunks, like she expects a danged cheetah or something to jump down and rip her up! I don’t know what’s coming next, and I can’t eat nor sleep at night for worrying, and I can barely pour a drink of tequila to calm my nerves. It’s a regular calamity, I tell ya. A regular calamity!”
Among local mammalogists, exactly what the squirrel was doing in the tree that morning remains a matter of intense speculation. Was it gathering an innocent, vegan breakfast of palm berries, or were its furry jaws slavering in anticipation of a bloody meal of baby birds? Or maybe even something unthinkable, unguessable, unimaginable, something that only a hunger-crazed rodent would contemplate?
Only the squirrel knows for sure… and he or she isn’t talking.
Editor’s Note: John, what are you trying to do to me? I need more copy on this! You’ve given me 6 paltry inches, and we’ve got a hole the size of Alaska on page 3 because Numbnutz pulled their ad over the dolphin sex story on page 4, and they are now threatening to cancel their whole year-long contract with us! I know this is pretty thin, but can you somehow stretch it to 30 or even 40 column inches? Come on, guy, pad it out a little like you did with that story about the overweight chick in Spandex. I know you can do it by deadline, just give it the old college try, and for once get it in on time! My wife is threatening to leave me and take the kids if I don’t make it home in time for supper tonight! Mama Mia! — Ralph
With apologies to famous Hollywood feature director Frank Capra, who joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps in WWII (the same branch my father, a radar operator, and Ray Harryhausen, a stop-motion animator were in) and made a series of seven documentaries collectively called “Why We Fight,” which are studied to this day in film classes as brilliant, virtuous pieces of propaganda, unlike Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl’s 1936 Berlin Olympics documentary “Triumph Of The Will,” which everyone agrees is a brilliant, evil, racist piece of propaganda, because we won. Right?
“Debuting Friday, September 18th 2020 The 1-800-Funk-Sauce.com Show Runtime: 11.5 minutes It’s an animated “late night” talk show!“
WARNING:1-800-FUNK-SAUCE is not a working number!
Do not call it, expecting any kind of an answer! I do not know what would happen if somebody actually picked up that phone, but I suspect you’d be worse off than if they hadn’t.
“With new episodes appearing on www.1-800-Funk-Sauce.com every Friday night, starting 9/18, The 1-800-Funk-Sauce.com Show will feature interviews with guests from all walks of life, musical performances from bands from all over the country/world, and various other adult comedy elements. The pilot episode will feature an interview with Malcolm J. Brenner and his former lover, Dolly the dolphin, to discuss their love affair. Musical guest Billy Summer will perform afterwards. “Find your comfortable spot, relax, get into the zone, and tune into The 1-800-Funk-Sauce.com Show, on Fridays starting on 9/18, on 1-800-Funk-Sauce.com.” — Press Release, Joe Seul
Let me explain. Joe Seul is a good guy I met through a bad public-relations contact. At the time, about mid-2017, he was a New College student majoring in music who proved very friendly and helpful in getting the audio book of Mel-Khyor: An Interstellar Affair ready for publication by equalizing the sound and adding a little reverb to my flat, nasal voice, so I sound less like Boris Karloff and more like Morgan Freeman. And it worked out really well, so I was grateful to him, because he didn’t ask for any payment.
“What a swell guy!” I thought. Little did I know what EVIL lurks in the hearts of men!
Well, a couple of years went by when I didn’t hear a lot from Joe. He finished up his work at New College, moved out of the roach-infested hovel that passed for off-campus student housing there and upward and onward to better things in St. Petersburg (the Florida one, not the one in Russia, you know). And then came The Great Covid-19 Lockdown of 2020, and, like a lot of musicians, poor Joe didn’t know what to do with himself.
Not having anybody to jam with drove young Joe nearly insane (am I hitting too hard on this, Joe?) and he began experimenting with new programs, new apps. One of them, he told me, was a rudimentary computer graphics app that allowed him to make 3D animation that looked like an Amiga game in 1990, only not quite that good.
And then, like the skilled lurker, he is, he sprang the question: “I’m using it to do a short interview podcast, a different topic each week and some music, and I’d like you to be the first guest. What do you say?”
What could I say? Joe had me eating out of the palm of his paw, er, hand. I agreed, and since I haven’t had much success lately giving a recording of an interview that’s worth listening to, I was glad hear it would be recorded on regular old cell phone (I’m sure I’ll be able to get that Blue Yeti from my daughter to work right the next time).
It was late on a July afternoon, I think, when the westering sun shines into the house and the central AC struggles to keep it at 83ºF/28ºC against the greater heat outside, but I turned the fan off so the background noise wouldn’t interfere with Joe’s recording. A little hasty, I called him up, but there was some glitch and he called me back a little after 5 p.m.
There were a lot of things I want to talk about. The two other books I’ve written. My telepathic experiences with Dolly, which ended up on the floor of the Dolphin Lover cutting room (except these days they’d be taking up space in your Trash). My thoughts about the venerable age of the bottlenose dolphin species, 12 million years as compared to our +/- 250,000 years. What that means to the evolution of their sonic communications. How their predictive theory of mind abilities, which let them second-guess other dolphins and ourselves, evolved. And so on.
But Joe just launched right in. After a brief introduction, he said “Tell me what happened with you and Dolly at Floridaland.”
Ya know, Joe, it’s like this: You have an extraordinary experience, and you decide to let others know about it, so you spend 37 years writing, editing, printingand publishing a book about it so you won’t have to repeat it over and over and over. And then you go to distribute the book, and what do interviewers ask you?
“Tell me what happened!”
But, gentle reader, I didn’t do that. Instead I sat back and I spent the next little while telling Joe the story of my experience with Dolly, but this time trying to work in as much of my non-dolphin experience, and recent conclusions regarding us, the dolphins and whatever the fuck causes the UFOs as I could while still threading back to the occasional sweaty-palms narrative.
Forty-five heatstroked minutes later, Joe finished up by asking a few questions. “How did you get consent from the dolphin?” was the one I remember.
I didn’t give him my flip answer, either, which is “When was the last time you got a pig’s consent to turn it into a ham sandwich?” That’s flip because most of us do it without giving it a second thought, and also because it begs the question, Why is getting consent from a non-human partner only important when the human’s sexual pleasure is involved?
Because, not to put too fine a point on it, animals are chattel under most laws, and I can do what I want with chattel, provided if it’s an animal covered under the law (I don’t think many of us are going to lose a lot of sleep about the fates of mosquitoes, bedbugs or fire ants) I treat it humanely, even to the point of killing it humanely. And the law spells out how you do this.
I can breed that animal to another animal that may not be its natural choice, and I can, if necessary, hobble an unwilling female animal so that she cannot injure an unwanted male who rapes her. So it’s not whether the female animal (and, BTW, I submit that, in the eyes of the public, ONLY female animals can be the true “victims” of a bestialist) is enjoying it, or really even whether her body is her own, she is going to be used by her owner as a reproductive vehicle! The choice of a mate isn’t hers and her owner’s interest in her pleasure from the act can be accurately measured in micro-give-a-shits.
But suddenly, if I want to step in, and, knowing what I know about the animal’s species, characteristics and habits, not harm the animal, not hurt the animal, not even rape the animal, but just have sex with the animal — “normal” interspecies sex, for want of a better term, you know, the old in-and-out — for our mutual pleasure, THAT IS A HORRENDOUS, UNSPEAKABLE “CRIME AGAINST NATURE” AND WE MUST DO EVERYTHING IN OUR POWER TO PREVENT IT, OR PUNISH THE BESTIALIST IF IT HAPPENS!
To which I answer, “Where’s the harm?”
Harm. The concept of injury or damage, usually to someone else. Remember that? HARM? In Harm’s Way, famous WWII book & movie? “Evidence of harm,” legal concept? Self-harm, disturbing behavior? Armie Hammer, star of the disastrous 2013 Lone Ranger remake?
But I digress.
Joe did ask one memorable question, which was “How did you get consent from her?”
To which I answered, “Are you kidding? She had to get consent from me!”Which is true, and she spent most of the preceding five months figuring out how to do it! Was there a need to elaborate? Maybe another time.
We concluded the interview and Joe went back to his lair for a couple of weeks to edit. Then he sent me an email with a Vimeo address and a password. And what to my wondering eyes should appear…
Idon’t want to spoil it for you, so just let me say that Joe has honored my request to revive Dolly the dolphin in animated form, and chosen to portray us in a highly… COMPROMISED SITUATION.
Let it never be said (by me anyway) that I lack a sense of humor about myself. I acknowledge the many funny actualities in my relationship with Dolly, and point some of them out in the novel, including a photo of her mashing her snout into my would-be girlfriend’s face, while staring straight into the camera. It’s a wonderfully funny picture now, 50 years later, and I’m glad I still have it!
In this regard, let me say that I think Joe has exploited the humorous aspects of my relationship with Dolly in a way that nobody else has done before, and for this I congratulate him! He has also speeded up my voice by about 15-20% to make more of my interview available but doesn’t advise you of this before the interview begins, so I sound a little bit like a lost member of the band Alvin & The Chipmunks, but I mean, hell, Brenner, what do you expect for free? I didn’t really mean to insinuate that Joe was EVIL, just that I was a little… uh… SURPRISED by his… IMAGINATIVE PORTRAIT of myself and the dolphin together, VERY together, in the altogether.
Please check out the 1-800-FUNK-SAUCE.com website starting Friday evening, September 18 and let Joe and me know what you think, if you choose to. Thanks!
PUNTA GORDA, Fla., USA – “The role of the self-published author is not an easy one,” Malcolm J. Brenner said, sliding onto a dingy leather couch that might have once been white. “In addition to successfully writing one’s magnum opus, one must also bring it forth into the real world, where it will grow up to compete in a ruthlessly Darwinian struggle for readers and reviewers.”
Brenner sipped iced tea – his habitual summer drink, with the occasional hard cider thrown in for historic, recreational and religious reasons – and relaxed. He had the furrowed brow of a man who has a lot on his mind, and no wonder. He recently finished re-formatting a 113,000-word Microsoft Word file for the ebook version of his most famous, or infamous work, the 2010 autobiographical novel Wet Goddess: Recollections of a Dolphin Lover.
“It’s basically a re-telling of a torrid love affair I had with a female bottlenose dolphin in the summer of 1971,” Brenner explained. “I just changed the names and a few details so that living people on whom the characters are based couldn’t sue me. Even though I’m publishing it as a novel, it’s much closer to Tom Wolfe-style ‘new journalism’ than it is to fiction.”
An admitted procrastinator since childhood, Brenner said that Smashwords, which publishes and distributes the ebook edition of Wet Goddess, alerted him last November that changes to their Premium Catalogue distribution system might require revising the file, which he first uploaded in 2011. “I wasn’t clear on the details of what exactly the problem was, but apparently the old file no longer satisfied the new requirements, or so they said,” he said.
The Smashwords Premium Catalog puts the book into the hands of all the large ebook distributors, including iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, OverDrive, Tolino, Gardners, Odilo, Baker & Taylor Axis 360 and more. “I’m interested in sharing my experiences with dolphins as widely as possible,” Brenner said. “They are non-human people, so it behooved me to take care of this update issue sooner or later.”
After receiving warning emails for several months, Brenner finally pulled up his socks and tackled the problem himself. This versatility, he said, demonstrates the technical virtuosity required of successful self-published authors in the 21st Century.
“If you’re an aspiring author and you’re lucky enough to land an agent or a publisher these days, you can thank a higher power,” Brenner scoffed. “I knew a controversial book like Wet Goddess would be a hard sell even for a successful author. I made a few stabs at finding a publisher without success, and an agent took me on for a while.
“She wined and dined me once at a book fair in Tampa, then, with no explanation, stopped communicating. Months went by with no word. It was only when I threatened to sue her to recover my manuscript that I learned from an irate family member she was still recovering from a near-fatal car crash months before.
“In publishing, like anywhere else, sometimes shit just happens,” Brenner concluded, with a hint of resignation. After more rejections, he responded by abandoning the idea of conventional publishing and taking on all the tasks himself. “It required me to become a jack-of-all trades, but the fact that I don’t get along well with many people actually makes that a good way to work,” Brenner admitted. “If I work for myself, I may have an asshole for a boss, but at least he understands me.”
Brenner pre-sold copies of Wet Goddess to family and friends to raise funds for the initial press run of 50 copies. A sympathetic friend contributed necklaces made from fossilized sharks’ teeth as premiums for advance sales. The worst problems came from trying to get the manuscript proofread before it went to print.
“Don’t get me started,” Brenner fumed. “I hired a so-called proofreader from a local community college, but she could only proof in academic style! Book manuscripts require what’s known as Chicago style, and besides, Wet Goddess has a lot of colloquial dialogue in it,” he recalled. “Every time a redneck character used the word “ain’t,” she flagged it – more than 300 times in the manuscript! You’d think that if she was professional she’d have called me up and asked me what my intention was, but no.”
As a result of this and other unforeseen difficulties that cost him the original author’s proof copy of his debut novel, the first press run of Wet Goddess shipped with about 250 typos in it, including one whole, and rather crucial, paragraph repeated, Brenner admitted.
“It appears very close to the, uh, shall we say ‘climax’ of the novel, and it was very embarrassing to find it,” he explained. “I hope I’ve got it stuck back in the right place now.”
For a cover, Brenner was able to rely on the talents of his daughter, Thea Boodhoo, an advertising industry professional and college-trained artist. “I was going to use a B&W photo of a dolphin that a friend in New Mexico colorized many years ago,” he said, “but Thea thought she could do better, and when I saw her finished work I knew she was right. I only made a couple of very minor Photoshop changes to the file she handed me to make the title stand out more and add the subtitle.”
A friend who owned a small desktop publishing business referred Brenner to Royal Palm Press, a nearby print-on-demand company, for production services. “I had no idea what the local reaction to the book would be, so I had a chat with Tom Lewis, the press’s owner at the time, to make sure he wasn’t blindsided,” Brenner said. “Tom said ‘As long as it’s between consenting adults, that’s fine with me,’ and that was that.” Brenner also served as his own layout artist, an experience he described as “a mad blur of on-the-job training.”
With book in hand, Brenner ventured onto the soggy ground of marketing. “Here, I got terrifically lucky,” he said. “I didn’t have the money to hire a public relations firm to distribute a press release, but I found one that had a reverse-charge policy. The media outlets who received the press releases paid for the service, not me, so my initial publicity was free!”
Upon its release in January 2010, the novel received intense press coverage due to its taboo-shredding themes of interspecies sex, zoophilic love and a dolphin character smart enough to out-think a human. “For a while it was frantic, but very gratifying,” Brenner recalled. “I was doing several interviews a week, sometimes two a day. A few of the interviewers were skeptical or harsh about what they thought might have been going on, but the majority were genuinely curious to know what happened, and to learn more about dolphins.”
Since then, the book has enjoyed sales surges whenever some news gatherer gets curious and wants to know about his experience, Brenner said. One came in 2011, when a New Zealand TV producer, David Farrier, released a videotaped interview with Brenner he’d recorded the year before. Others don’t conjure such pleasant memories. Brenner felt humiliated by shock-jock Howard Stern’s 2015 obsession with his zoophilia, and a 2011 interview with Bubba the Love Sponge cost him a gig with a local slick when its advertisers threatened to withdraw unless the magazine dropped him.
Brenner’s most recent foray into the murky waters of self-promotion was somewhat less melodramatic. “When I finally got around to looking at the Smashwords file, it said there was a problem with one of the book’s photos, but I couldn’t find it with a self-diagnostic program they offer,” Brenner said. “So I took a chance and asked Smashwords’ customer service, citing the warning notices they sent me.”
He quickly received a courteous reply from a guy named Kevin, explaining that the problem was probably due to the use of colons in his chapter titles and sub-sections. “I was glad it was so easily resolved,” Brenner said, “until I downloaded the file onto my computer to make the corrections and realized what a mess it was.”
In the interim between uploading the file in 2011 and downloading it in 2018, Microsoft had changed Word and given it a new file extension, .docx instead of the original .doc. “That one little ‘x,’ unfortunately, made a hell of a lot of difference,” Brenner said. “When I had to add a couple of pages to the print manuscript of Wet Goddess, converting the book from the old to the new file format inserted blank spaces more or less at random between paragraphs. I had to start at the beginning and re-do the whole layout, including throwing in a couple of new photos to fill some yawning blanks.”
The problems with the ebook file were similar. There, many words were unnecessarily hyphenated, and photos had to be re-aligned to make sure they didn’t obscure the text. Brenner said the process took him about two weeks, including a couple of days off when he wasn’t feeling well, but he’s glad he did it.
“I don’t have the money to pay somebody else anyway,” he complained, “so I might as well do it myself, because being retired I do have a fair amount of time. Besides, whenever I master a task like this, I improve my overall word-processing skills, which helps me find work in the freelance job market.”
In the eight years Wet Goddess has been in print, it has sold about 1,500 copies in 18 countries, mostly in the English-speaking world, due to Brenner’s unflagging self-promotion efforts. When a fan in Russia contacted him three years ago to inform Brenner he’d undertaken an unauthorized translation, the author responded by granting him permission to publish it there! “It hasn’t taken off yet, because the translator, Anton River, lives in a very conservative northern city,” Brenner said. “He’s planning to move to a better climate soon, and I hope he’ll renew his efforts to promote the book when he does.”
In addition to Wet Goddess, Brenner has written and self-published two other books.
Growing Up in the Orgone Box, published in 2014, is an unflinching memoir of his torture and sexual molestation at the hands of Dr. Albert Duvall, an “orgone energy” therapist and close associate of the late Dr. Wilhelm Reich, and the dysfunctional family structure that allowed this to happen.
His 2016 novel Mel-Khyor: An Interstellar Affair is a more light-hearted romp through the mythology and culture of the UFO scene, told from the point of view of a young woman determined to live up to her family’s expectations of her, no matter what it costs her personally. “There is, again, inter-species sex, but since the other species is bipedal, mostly humanoid and obviously sapient, nobody should blow a 50 amp fuse over it,” Brenner said. “After all, ‘Star Trek,’ Edgar Rice Burroughs and countless other science-fiction writers have only been doing it for about 100 years.”
Sales on these two books have been nowhere near those of Wet Goddess, Brenner said, and he’s had difficulty getting them any kind of publicity or reviews. “That’s because, while they’re both sexually radical books, they’re not as radical as a man and a dolphin making love,” he said. “Somehow, that just blows people’s minds.”
Having just turned 67, Brenner hopes to see his work more widely appreciated before he dies. Asked if he thought his writing would endure beyond his lifespan, he waxed philosophical.
“My daughter might take it on, but she’s not planning to have children, so who knows what will happen over the course of time? We only know of the Greek poet Sappho’s beautiful writing because it was used to wrap fish,” he noted.
“Let us remember that from the point of view of a book, which may endure for millennia if it’s an epic, humans are fleeting things who read it at some point in their limited lifespans, devoting to it some portion of their precious time,” Brenner said, drawing on an eerie theme reminiscent of the ambiguous Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges. “For this reason, books, especially long-lived books like Epic of Gilgamesh, Tao De Ching and Cattle Raid of Ulster, are grateful for the time their readers spend with them. The books try to compensate the readers through a symbiotic relationship that informs you with a novel set of ideas, or supports your need for entertainment that doesn’t require batteries, WiFi or 3D glasses.
“I think that we humans, as a species, have a lot to learn from our dolphin cousins,” Brenner concluded. “As for my writings, they will survive if people find value in them.”
PUNTA GORDA, Fla. – Writer Malcolm J. Brenner got a pleasant surprise on a recent Monday morning when he read a web site that plugged Wet Goddess, his epic human-dolphin love story. The story was picked up by Brenner’s routine Google Alerts search.
On November 13, The Inquisitor published a review of an edgy Saturday Night Live skit featuring Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant as a pair of female scientists trying to train a dolphin to communicate. When the dolphin hits adolescence, they find the only way to keep him on task is to masturbate him. Host Tiffany Haddish plays a colleague who finds the whole thing nasty. The skit manages to be funny, cheesy and satirical at the same time.
It’s based on the actual relationship between a kindergarten teacher, Margaret Howe Lovatt, and Peter, a male bottlenose dolphin kept in a unique living arrangement at the Communications Research Institute on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands in the early 1960’s. Lilly described the unusual situation, which was intended to teach Peter how to speak English, in his 1967 book The Mind of the Dolphin.
During six weeks of living with Peter in a flooded room day in and day out, Lovatt found him demanding she masturbate him before their lessons would continue. Eager to continue the research, and unable to rationalize any objections to Peter’s advances, Howe complied. Lilly used parts of her notes in his book.
The Inquisitor also referenced a 2014 article in The Mirror, a British tabloid newspaper, which interviewed Brenner about his dolphin experience by phone. That article, in turn, linked to an earlier story about Lovatt and Peter.
Asked whether the exposure had any effect on sales of his novel, Brenner said “I’m not sure, but I sold four copies over the weekend, which is unusual. The first sale came in from the next time zone west of me at about 11:30 p.m. my time, so I don’t know whether SNL would have been on there. But I’ll take any publicity I can get! Thanks, guys, the check is in the mail!”
Brenner recently had to completely re-do the layout for his dolphin novel before having the next order printed. “I’ve written two other books since Wet Goddess was published in 2010, and I wanted to add a couple of pages at the end of the book to let readers know about my other work, which is equally radical.
“Because Microsoft had changed its Word document creation software between 2010 and now, the original .doc file had paragraph spacing errors when I opened it in an up-to-date version that uses the .docx filename. I ended up having to completely reformat the book, adding two new photos to take up some blank space,” Brenner continued.
Ever the perfectionist, Brenner had no sooner gotten the books back from the printer than he found another minor typo in them. “That’s the beauty of short-run printing,” he explained. “You may not be able to afford an editor or a proofreader, but any goofs you make can be corrected in the next print run.”
Writing in The Florida Weekly, book reviewer Phil Jason has given Malcolm J. Brenner’s new novel Mel-Khyor: An Interstellar Affair a big thumbs-up.
“Mr. Brenner creates an interstellar relationship that is at once eerie, intellectually stimulating, humorous and romantic,” Jason wrote in the January 19-25 issue. “His eye for real and imagined detail draws us into his largely improbable scenes.”
Those improbable scenes revolve mostly around Susie Louise McGonagle, a woman trying to find her way through three relationships: her 1980’s marriage to an abusive first husband, her 1990’s marriage to an investigative reporter, and the haunting memories of a provocative alien encounter that preceded them both.
The fireworks start when Susie accidentally lets that encounter slip her lips to her reporter husband, who then becomes consumed with trying to prove whether her recollections are real or not. Weaving in and out of Susie’s story are the escapades of a team of government agents sent to find the elusive alien and his crashed, self-aware spaceship.
“Getting a review in The Weekly is a big deal,” Brenner said. “I’ve been writing and publishing my own books since 2010, and this is my first professional review. I’m delighted that Mr. Jason liked Mel-Khyor and had so many good things to say about it.”
Mel-Khyor is available from Amazon as a trade paperback. Brenner hopes to have an audio book out soon, read by himself.