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Josh Flaum’s Personal Guide to the California Props – 2016 Edition


6 years ago, a friend of mine confessed to me that she was so frustrated with the perplexing language in the Propositions on the California ballot, that instead of trying to understand what the fudge they were all about, she was simply content not to vote. Because I believe voting is the greatest and most important power Americans have as a free people, I decided to help her out by creating a simplified ‘Cliff’s Notes’ version of all the props complete with commentary. I posted it to Facebook, and to my surprise, people besides my friend seemed to find it helpful. Inasmuch as I am both a political junkie and an attention whore, I have continued to put one of these things together for every election since.

My caveat as always: This guide contains personal political bias. I urge you not to vote as I vote. Vote with your own head, and with your own heart.

But above all, please, please VOTE.

Prop 51



The Skinny: Authorizes 9 billion dollars in general obligation bonds to go towards the repair, modernization and new construction of California public schools and community colleges.

You might vote YES because:

  1. Education is important. Think of the kids. WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS???
  2. It doesn’t bother you that “general obligation bonds” is just a fancy term for “debt”.
  3. You’re sure this is the best way to get asbestos removed from schools.
  4. You think this would be a terrific way to get that new football stadium you’ve been wanting. Well, not you. The kids. WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS???
  5. You own a construction company.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You feel like California’s taken on enough debt.
  2. You don’t like the fact that this bill doesn’t guarantee how the money’s going to be spent.
  3. You have a sinking feeling this might just be a giant money grab for construction companies.
  4. You realize that if there’s still asbestos in our schools, we’re already screwed.
  5. You hate the kids. And also football.

The Money For: Education organizations, developers, construction contractors, and financial institutions. Total raised so far: 12 million dollars.

The Money Against: The artfully-named PAC known as ‘California Taxpayers and Educators Opposed to Sprawl and Developer Abuse’. Total raised so far: ZILCH.

 Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: YES.

I’m Swinging: NO. Wait… what? BUT WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS??? Okay, let me be clear: we can all agree the kids are in serious trouble. The California public school system is in dire straits and definitely needs our help, which might explain why both Democrats and Republicans have announced their support for this bill. After all, IT’S FOR THE KIDS; coming out against it would be political suicide. But the bill itself is a poorly-written shambles. There’s nothing that guarantees equal distribution between poor and affluent school districts, and nothing to prevent the money from being squandered on sexier-but-less-education-y stuff like Olympic swimming pools and football stadiums (I’m looking at YOU, San Diego) Also, there’s the matter of cost: taxpayers will end up spending nearly DOUBLE the amount borrowed by the state, and even California’s crumbling education system could teach you that that math is terrible. Finally, in my opinion, the fact that this bill is being heavily backed by developers and construction companies is highly suspect. The more I look at it, the more it seems like it’s less about THE KIDS, and more about THE BENJAMINS.




The Skinny: There’s been a temporary law on the books since 2009 that forces private hospitals to pay a special fee that goes to funding Medi-Cal services as well as care for uninsured patients and health coverage for children. In return, every dime these hospitals pay out is matched by the federal government. This Prop would make this law permanent by amending the California constitution.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You think providing health care to children and low-income families is a very nice thing to do.
  2. You like that this bill prevents the government from pilfering this money for other purposes unless we vote on it.
  3. You can’t imagine why we’d turn down 3 billion dollars a year in Federal matching funds.
  4. You find the fact that this measure doesn’t cost taxpayers any money to be a miracle on the level of bringing the dead back to life.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You don’t believe in miracles.
  2. You’re worried that hospital CEOs will use the money to pay for golf junkets and speedboats.
  3. You actually haven’t read the bill, because let’s face it, this thing is so convoluted it may as well be a spell book.
  4. You like being part of an overwhelming minority.

The Money For: Hospitals and health care organizations. Total raised so far: Over 60 million dollars.

The Money Against: Nonprofit union United Healthcare Workers West. Total raised so far: 11.5 million dollars.

Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: YES. 

I’m Swinging: YES. Okay, sure, I imagine there has been some bad behavior from a few hospital execs with the keys to a billion-dollar kingdom. But this law has been on the books since 2009, and seems to be working remarkably well, which it very much needs to, inasmuch as one in every three Californians gets their health coverage through Medi-Cal. Plus, the one single healthcare union that was in opposition has since shifted its position to ‘neutral’, so I really can’t see the harm.

Prop 53



The Skinny: Requires voter approval before the state can issue revenue bonds in amounts exceeding 2 billion dollars.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You want to rein in out-of-control government spending.
  2. Given the chance, you would vote on literally EVERYTHING.
  3. You’re the kind of person that tries to fit the word ‘boondoggle’ into every sentence.
  4. You’re rich enough to build your own overpasses.
  5. You’ve never heard of Dean Cortopassi.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You’re worried that by forcing a vote for every major project, this bill would erode local control.
  2. It concerns you that this bill doesn’t provide any exemptions for emergencies and natural disasters.
  3. You like things like ‘fresh water’ and ‘highways’.
  4. It irks you when millionaires misuse the initiative process in order to disrupt important government infrastructure projects because one of them happens to bypass your 3000-acre ranch.
  5. You have heard of Dean Cortopassi.

The Money For: Dean “Dino” Cortopassi and his wife Joan. Total raised so far: Almost 6 million dollars (although “raised” is misleading since this Prop is almost entirely funded by the Cortopassi family).

The Money Against: Labor unions, native American groups, the Democratic Party, and Governor Brown’s campaign finance committee. Total raised so far: 11.6 million dollars.

 Democrats are voting: NO.

Republicans are voting: YES.

I’m Swinging: NO. On the surface, this is all about curbing state debt by giving the power back to the people. Dig a little deeper though, and you’ll find that this measure is likely to cost taxpayers MORE because it could force the government to seek private financing to fund future projects (which typically means higher interest rates). And honestly, if we were to require a vote for every single major government project, tons of stuff (bridge expansions, desalination plants, etc.) would get sidetracked or tied up indefinitely. But let’s forget all that for just a second. Because near as I can tell, this whole Prop only exists because some millionaire (our friend Dean) got his nips in a twist over a State Water Project that passes near his ranch. Personally, I feel like hijacking the initiative process to prevent fresh water from being delivered to Southern California because the river by his property is now “unnecessarily choked with sediment” kind of goes against the greater good.

Prop 54



The Skinny: Requires every bill to be published in print and online at least 72 hours before lawmakers can vote on it. Forces the legislature to make audiovisual recordings of every single public proceeding and post them online within 24 hours. Allows anybody to record these proceedings and use them for any legit reason.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You think government needs to be more transparent.
  2. Political attack ads make your heart go pitter-pat.
  3. You don’t like it when legislators remove text from bills last-minute, only to replace it with shady, unrelated junk that benefits special interests before voting the bills into law.
  4. You’re into watching some seriously boring shit.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You believe this bill will increase interference from lobbyists and special interest groups.
  2. You hate that this bill is funded solely by yet another impassioned millionaire with too much time on his hands.
  3. Three days is too long to wait for your shady, unrelated junk.
  4. You’d rather watch reruns of How I Met Your Mother.

The Money For: Experimental physicist and millionaire Charles T. Munger, Jr. Total “raised” so far: 11 million smackers.

The Money Against: The California Democratic Party. Total raised so far: A measly 28 thousand bones.

Democrats are voting: NO.

Republicans are voting: YES. 

I’m Swinging: YES. This is one of those rare cases where the meddling millionaire is actually proposing some sensible changes. The costs are minimal, and I’m all for more transparency. Yes, lobbyists will use the three-day waiting period to fiddle with our Democracy, but they do that already. This is still a welcome adjustment, if you ask me… which, if you’re reading this, you kind of are.

Prop 55



The Skinny: Adds a 12-year extension to the temporary personal income tax increases enacted by Prop 30 in 2012, which raised taxes on people who earn over $250,000 and raised the sales tax by a ¼ cent. Revenues are to be allocated to healthcare and education.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You voted YES back in 2012.
  2. You realize that schools and healthcare programs will lose 4-9 billion dollars of funding per year if you vote NO.
  3. Your idea of “temporary” is “over a decade”.
  4. You’re slowly trying to turn California into Canada.

You might vote NO because:

  1. This “temporary” measure is starting to look far less “temporary”.
  2. You want serious tax reform instead of a stop-gap measure.
  3. You’re sticking to the opinion that this 1%-3% income tax increase will eventually destroy small businesses and kill jobs even though, so far, it TOTALLY HASN’T.
  4. All these taxes are making the upkeep on your Napa Valley estate a real bear.

The Money For: Healthcare groups, teachers associations, and service employees. Total raised so far: 57 million dollars.

The Money Against: 3 dudes named Martin, Paul, and Franklin. Total raised so far: 3000 dollars.

Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: YES. But I’m not happy about it. I mean, 12 years???? That’s not an extension so much as it is a promise that these hikes are never going to go away. Plus, they’re not exactly equitable; these taxes are a much bigger burden on people making the $250,000 minimum requirement than the lucky few raking in millions. Not to mention the fact that California already has one of the highest tax rates in the nation. However, until we get some serious tax reform on the ballot, this bill will have to do. On the plus side, Prop 30 has proven to be effective. According to the State Controller’s Office , the measure has raised over 30 billion dollars since 2012. Plus, we’ve got a very tenuous 11-billion-dollar budget surplus on our hands, and this Prop is integral to maintaining it.

Prop 56



The Skinny: Increases the tax on cigarettes by $2.00 a pack, with equivalent hikes on other tobacco products and e-cigarettes that contain nicotine.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You don’t smoke.

You might vote NO because: 

  1. You do smoke.
  2. You think this bill is just a cash grab for special interest groups.
  3. Such a huge increase would prevent children and poor people from smoking, and that bothers you because:
    1. You are a tobacco farmer
    2. You are a tobacco lobbyist
    3. You work for a tobacco company
    4. You love cancer
    5. You are evil

The Money For: Healthcare groups, hospitals, medical and dental associations, and California’s “hedge fund king”, Tom Steyer. Total raised so far: 30 million dollars.

The Money Against: Tobacco companies. Total raised so far: 66.5 million dollars.

Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: YES. As an ex-smoker, I don’t want to preach about the benefits of quitting, but if you’ve been thinking about ditching the habit, this prop will damn well give you the motivation. Plus, it’ll raise billions in state revenue, which means, eventually, only the government of California will be able to afford to smoke.

Prop 57



The Skinny: Would make it easier to give nonviolent felons parole consideration, and would authorize sentence credits for prisoners who enter rehabilitation and education programs. Also allows judges to decide whether to try juveniles as adults.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You think California’s prisons are desperately overcrowded.
  2. You like that this bill will save the state tens of millions of dollars per year.
  3. You firmly believe that none of the released prisoners will steal that money.
  4. You have renter’s insurance.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You think that this Prop is a little loosey-goosey with its definition of “violent”.
  2. You believe that this bill will facilitate the release of sex offenders, arsonists, and human traffickers.
  3. You blame the passage of similar laws for the huge rise in crime in California.
  4. You’re worried your uncle Jerry will want to sleep on your couch when he gets out.

The Money For: Governor Brown’s Ballot Measure Committee, charity groups, and The California Democratic Party. Total raised so far: 10.5 million dollars.

The Money Against: Police groups and a host of district attorneys. Total raised so far: 580 thousand dollars.

Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: NO. I wish I could vote for this one. On the surface, it’s a progressive bill about prison reform, and I am a progressive person who wants prison reform. And while I like the section dealing with criminal rehabilitation, this bill’s major flaw is in the details. It omits a number of specifics, including—importantly– a definition of the word ‘nonviolent’. Here’s why this matters: only two years ago, a measure with similarly ambiguous language was voted into law in California (Prop 47). The idea was to relax the classification of a fair few nonviolent crimes from ‘felony’ to ‘misdemeanor’, with the goal of releasing people who may not have deserved the severe prison sentences they received. Well, thousands of prisoners were released, and lo and behold, violent crime has spiked almost 10% over the two years since 47’s enactment, mostly because the language of the law made it too easy to release convicts who probably shouldn’t have been released. Specifics are truly important, so while I am all for prison reform, it is with a heavy heart that I must vote NO on this one.

Prop 58



The Skinny: Back in 1998, Californians got drawn into a rash of national anti-immigration sentiment and passed Prop 227, which forced English immersion in schools (in lieu of bilingual programs). Prop 58 would effectively repeal most of that bill, thus giving power to schools as to how to teach English and to set up multi-language programs.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You believe English immersion isn’t the most effective way to teach English.
  2. You want your child to learn another language.
  3. You want your child to teach you how to ask where the restroom is in Spanish because:
  4. You are going to Barcelona, and will need to pee sometime.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You like that Prop 227 increased English test scores.
  2. You already have a hard time understanding your child, and you’re sure another language won’t make it easier.
  3. You believe some schools will stop teaching English altogether.
  4. You don’t blink an eye when people say stuff like “Prop 227 rescued California Latinos from the Spanish‐only educational ghetto.”*
  5. You are a terrified white person.

*This was almost an exact quote actually written into the actual Argument Against Proposition 58 in the actual official California Voter Information Guide.

The Money For: Teachers associations and school administrators. Total raised so far: 4.3 million dollars.

The Money Against: A Palo Alto group called ‘Keep English For The Children’. Total raised so far: NADA**.

**See what I did there?

Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: YES. As a product of a bilingual education system, experience tells me that the benefits of a multi-language curriculum outweigh the drawbacks. A study out of Toronto’s York University found that bilingual students have increased cognitive flexibility, and that learning a second language may even prevent dementia. At the very least, it improves people’s chances of finding a bathroom, and that’s enough for my YES vote.

Prop 59



The Skinny: This is a purely symbolic bill that encourages the California legislature to propose and ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution with the goal of overturning Citizen’s United (the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that has since choked American politics with dark money from special interests).

You might vote YES because:

  1. You believe Citizen’s United has seriously eroded our representative democracy.
  2. You think that this bill will get the ball rolling to keep big money out of politics. You also think that the Buzzfeed quiz you took a few days back that told you what kind of sandwich you are was DEAD ON.
  3. You’re convinced that proposing proposals to amend amendments is a sound strategy.
  4. You’ve never heard the term “all bark and no bite”.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You believe corporations are people.
  2. The thought of some California wonk tinkering with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution makes you twitchy.
  3. You get frustrated when people gum up the works with worthless laws that promise to accomplish a sum total of dick all.
  4. There isn’t a Buzzfeed quiz out there that has nailed what kind of sandwich you are.

The Money For: The Democratic Party and other people who hate Citizens United. Total raised so far: 284 thousand dollars.

The Money Against: NONE.

Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: YES, I guess. I like this measure in theory, so I’ll go for the symbolic gesture. Still, I worry that a do-nothing law like this one—whatever its intention—might diminish the significance and attention due to some of the other, more important props on the ballot, and that is troubling. So there you have it. Consider my finger wagged.

Prop 60



The Skinny: Requires porn stars to use condoms while involved in the filming of, ahem… sexy times. Also forces adult movie producers to pay for performer vaccinations and STD testing. Finally, and most importantly, it gives ANY California resident the right to sue porn stars and producers if a condom isn’t visible in every frame of a given film.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You think this bill will protect adult film stars from sexually transmitted diseases.
  2. Democrats Libertarians, and Republicans oppose this measure, and this is your chance to be a true contrarian.
  3. This bill would give you an excuse to watch a LOT of porn.
  4. You already had your Condom Police badge engraved at Things Remembered.
  5. You are a lawyer.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You believe that what adults do legally and consensually is none of your business.
  2. You don’t like that this bill will cost taxpayers millions of dollars annually.
  3. You’re certain the passage of this bill will open the floodgates for frivolous lawsuits.
  4. You think this measure will drive a billion-dollar industry out of California.
  5. You’re worried that deputizing 38 million people to police the adult film industry will dramatically reduce your Internet speed.
  6. You have a latex allergy.

The Money For: The AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Total raised so far: 5 million dollars.

The Money Against: The entire porn industry. Total raised so far: 500 thousand dollars.

Democrats are voting: NO.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: NO. There are laws already on the books that force adult performers to wear condoms, and the entire porn industry is pretty effectively self-regulated (most performers get tested on a regular basis). Plus, opening the doors for citizens to sue porn stars willy-nilly (tee-hee) is frankly insane, and inasmuch as these lawsuits will force performers to reveal their personal info, this bill could expose porn stars to stalkers and other dangerous folks. Most insidious is the fact that Prop 60 would literally create a cushy government position for the bill’s main proponent– president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Michael Weinstein—and only the Legislature would be able to vote him out. This bill is a huge conflict of interest and a terrible idea for California. End of story.

Prop 61



The Skinny: Would prohibit the state of California from purchasing prescription drugs through manufacturers at a price higher than the lowest price paid by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (which negotiates its own prices and gets big, mandatory discounts).

You might vote YES because:

  1. You think this bill will save the state millions in reduced prescription drug costs.
  2. You really want to stick it to those evil, price-gouging pharmaceutical companies.
  3. You’re positive those evil, price-gouging pharmaceutical companies can’t possibly be so evil as to gouge drug prices for war veterans.
  4. You recently sold your Honda Fit so you could afford an EpiPen two-pack.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You’re worried that this bill would increase drug prices for war veterans and reduce access to certain medicines for low-income families.
  2. You think the red tape, inevitable lawsuits, and costs to taxpayers will actually increase state prescription drug costs.
  3. It bothers you that this bill actually does nothing to regulate Big Pharma price gouging.
  4. You feel like a thousand bucks per pill is a fair price for heart meds.

The Money For: Nurses, watchdog groups, and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Total raised so far: 15 million dollars.

The Money Against: Pharmaceutical companies. Total raised so far: 110 million dollars.

Democrats are voting: NEUTRAL.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: YES. This one is tricky, and carries with it more than a few risks. Pharmaceutical companies could raise prices to offset losses, especially screwing veterans and the poor, though it’s unlikely: there are laws that protect veterans from just this sort of thing, and I find it dubious that Big Pharma would spend over 100 million dollars to fight this Prop if they thought raising prices would be a compelling solution. More realistically, drug companies will just continue to throw money at the issue and tie the state up in legal proceedings for the rest of eternity. Still, as far as protest Props go, this one has an extremely loud voice, so I’m willing to hazard a YES.

Prop 62



The Skinny: Repeals the death penalty– even retroactively to existing sentences—and replaces it with life imprisonment without parole. Would also increase the chunk of lifers’ wages that apply to victim restitution.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You have a moral objection to the death penalty.
  2. You think capital punishment is a huge waste of tax dollars.
  3. You realize there is a genuine risk of executing an innocent person.
  4. You think that killing prisoners increases the risk of prisoner ghosts coming back to take revenge on their executioners.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You have no moral objection to the death penalty.
  2. You think life imprisonment is a huge waste of tax dollars.
  3. You feel like keeping death row inmates alive puts prison guards at greater risk.
  4. You ain’t ‘fraid-a no ghosts. Not even prisoner ones.

The Money For: Social justice organizations and supporters of sentencing reform. Total raised so far: 9 million dollars.

The Money Against: Pharmaceutical companies. Total raised so far: 12.5 million dollars.

Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: YES. In the past, I have been a proponent of the death penalty, but that opinion has changed over time. I’ve learned that it’s truly an archaic solution to a complicated problem. This prop may not be perfect, but it does increase the amount of money victims will receive from the inmates that committed crimes against them, and that’s something I can get behind.

Prop 63



The Skinny: Prohibits the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines, and requires certain individuals to pass a background check in order to purchase ammunition. Would also require that most types of ammo be sold through licensed vendors and would take gun ownership rights away from people convicted of stealing firearms.

You might vote YES because:

  1. Your Facebook feed has been a real bummer lately.
  2. You’re tired of seeing scores of dead people every time you turn on the news.
  3. You think selling guns to violent ex-felons should require more than a one-step process.
  4. You want to lower the chances of being gunned down while getting lunch at Hot Dog On A Stick.
  5. You still haven’t figured out what to do with all those thoughts and prayers.

You might vote NO because:

  1. 2nd Amendment, 2nd Amendment, 2nd Amendment
  2. You realize this proposal will cost tens of millions in taxpayer dollars.
  3. It’s going to be so much harder to kill a million deer in one day without high-capacity rounds.
  4. ISIS! But also the 2nd
  5. Did I mention the 2nd Amendment?

The Money For: The California Democratic Party and Lieutenant-Governor Gavin Newsome. Total raised so far: 4.5 million dollars.

The Money Against: Gun owners, hunting associations and the NRA. Total raised so far: 867 thousand dollars.

Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: YES. This is some pretty reasonable reform, and to be honest with you, I’m starting to get fed up with listening to compassionless gun lovers shriek about their constitutional rights every time some lunatic slaughters a bunch of people at the mall. This measure isn’t a violation of the 2nd Amendment, nor is it a burden on law-abiding gun owners. It’s common sense stuff, and it’s WAY overdue.

Prop 64



The Skinny: Legalizes marijuana in the state of California, and imposes state taxes on sales and cultivation. Establishes standards for marijuana products.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You smoke pot.
  2. You’re thrilled by the fact that this bill will create billions of dollars in tax revenue.
  3. You own a food truck that sells artisanal doughnuts.
  4. You’ll no longer have to make the 20-minute drive to your “friend” Angel’s house.
  5. You have tons of other arguments, but for some reason, you’ve forgotten them all.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You don’t like the idea of legalizing a mood-altering, psychoactive drug, especially in the wake of a severe opioid epidemic.
  2. You’re concerned about a possible increase in drug-related crime or accidents caused by drivers under the influence.
  3. It worries you that this Prop could help lift the 45-year ban on TV smoking ads.
  4. You think this bill favors big business over smaller cannabis growers.
  5. You watched that one episode of Diff’rent Strokes where Nancy Reagan tells Arnold that her own brother attacked her after smoking a joint, and it still freaks you out to this day.

The Money For: Pro-marijuana groups, the Fund For Policy Reform, and Napster founder Sean Parker. Total raised so far: 22 million dollars.

The Money Against: The California Public Safety Institute, Teamsters, and anti-marijuana groups. Total raised so far: 2 million dollars.

Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: YES. Legalization has worked pretty well for Colorado: retailers made almost a billion dollars in 2015 alone, with millions garnered in taxes for the state. And whether you’re for it or against, this is going to happen eventually, so we may as well hurry up and grab that sweet tax revenue.

Prop 65



The Skinny: Ever since Californians implemented a series of plastic bag bans throughout the state, grocery stores and other retailers have been making money from the mandated sale of carryout bags. This Prop would force retailers to redirect that money into a special fund to support specific environmental projects.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You love the environment.
  2. You hate grocery stores.
  3. You failed to notice that this proposal is entirely funded by the plastic bag industry.
  4. You have a shit-ton of dimes you want to get rid of.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You have noticed that this proposal is entirely funded by the plastic bag industry.
  2. You’ve also noticed this Prop has no support from environmental groups despite its promise to help the environment.
  3. You think it’s unfair to retailers.
  4. You realize that this measure completely defeats the goal of phasing out carryout bags.
  5. You think that creating a Prop that pays for litter removal by using the money from the sale of bags that will probably end up constituting a good portion of the actual litter being removed is a like a snake eating its own tail.
  6. You own a bunch of reusable bags, you just keep forgetting to put them back in the car.

The Money For: The plastic bag industry. Total raised so far: 6 million dollars.

The Money Against: NONE.

Democrats are voting: NEUTRAL.

Republicans are voting: YES.

I’m Swinging: NO. This measure is infuriating. We all want to help the environment, but this whole thing was created by the plastic bag industry in order to confuse voters (Prop 67 is also bag-related), and to punish retailers for their support of an overall ban of plastic bags. And make no mistake, this would be a punishment: retailers have to pay for the bags they sell; to redirect that money means small businesses and grocery stores will be forced to take a loss selling a product that Californians are trying to phase out anyway. Also, if this Prop gets more votes than Prop 67, that means an overall ban will probably fail, which explains why environmental groups are up in arms. Finally, on a personal level, I find the plastic bag industry’s attempt to meddle with the initiative process here to be disgusting. This one’s a big NO for me, and you can take that to the bank (in a reusable tote).

Prop 66



The Skinny: Reduces the amount of time it takes to execute prisoners on death row by speeding up the appeals process and limiting petitions.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You support the death penalty.
  2. You oppose Prop 62.
  3. You think this Prop will save millions in tax dollars.
  4. You have complete faith that the system will prevent the execution of innocent people, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
  5. You are a 3000-year-old Babylonian king.

You might vote NO because:

  1. You oppose the death penalty.
  2. You support Prop 62.
  3. You think this Prop will cost millions in tax dollars.
  4. Given that it takes an average of 11.3 years for an innocent prisoner on death row to be exonerated, you think speeding up the execution process is a BAD idea.
  5. You think a lifetime of prison food is punishment enough.

The Money For: Police groups and prosecutors. Total raised so far: 13 million dollars.

The Money Against: The ACLU and a handful of millionaire altruists. Total raised so far: Also 13 million dollars.

Democrats are voting: NO.

Republicans are voting: YES.

I’m Swinging: NO. This Prop keeps the death penalty alive, and that’s reason enough for me to oppose it.

Prop 67



The Skinny: A referendum that asks voters to approve or reject an existing statute that prohibits grocery stores and retailers from providing one-use carryout bags.

You might vote YES because:

  1. You think single-use carryout bags are bad for the environment.
  2. You think this Prop will save millions in clean up costs.
  3. You sell adorable reusable totes that say stuff like “I’m tote-ally saving the world!” and “It’s wine o’clock.”

You might vote NO because:

  1. You only like to use anything once.
  2. You work for the plastic bag industry.
  3. You’re running out of ways to suffocate those pesky sea turtles.

The Money For: Grocery chains and environmental groups. Total raised so far: 3.6 million dollars.

The Money Against: The plastic bag industry. Total raised so far: 6 million dollars.

Democrats are voting: YES.

Republicans are voting: NO.

I’m Swinging: YES. I’m all for doing away with single-use bags. They really are terrible for the environment, and these bans have been working remarkably well to correct that (a study out of San Jose shows that trash in city streets and waterways has been reduced by 60% since the enactment of a city-wide ban). Besides, I just bought an adorable reusable tote that says “Keep Calm and Carry Groceries”.

That’s it! Now you know as much as I do. TIME TO VOTE!!!!

Badge - 2008 election

Also, if you’re a ‘facts‘ type of person, here are the references I used to put this together:,_Public_School_Facility_Bonds_(2016),_Voter_Approval_to_Divert_Hospital_Fee_Revenue_Dedicated_to_Medi-Cal_(2016),_Jr.


Success Is The Same Thing As Failure


Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I’ll write purposely terrible erotica and send it in to legitimate publishers under a fake name. I do this because I am a weirdo, and because I have made a hobby out of collecting rejection letters from confused, and more than likely, indignant magazine editors and web masters who are just trying to do their jobs.

Well, earlier this week, I sent out a story titled ‘The Three Rings Of Passion’– about a circus clown who teaches a foot juggler how to tie poodle-shaped balloons– to a purveyor of tasteful porn named ‘Ms. Naughty’ (this was all documented in an earlier post, which– for context– I encourage you to read right HERE). I haven’t heard back from her yet. However…

In order to maximize the number of responses I get, I tend to send my stories out to multiple media sources. One of the places I chose for this particular piece was ‘Afterdark Online‘ (NSFW), a site that is, in their own words a “source for COOL sexy romance & HOT erotic stories”. Further, I submitted my piece under the subheading ‘Naughty Romance Tuesdays‘, a specific call for “…stories with a purpose of two or more people to have a sexual encounter. They even included some possible scenarios for inspiration:

  • A simple blind date at a corner restaurant, leading to a romantic, hot encounter
  • A simple love-at-first-sight leading to something more.
  • An office romance which leads to an unofficial meeting in the storage room.
  • Maybe there’s just more offer than a dinner and a movie; do something very naughty.


There were some other pre-requisites for Naughty Romance Tuesday. In lieu of a cover letter, I had to write up a short bio for my fake author (in this case, I picked the name Kurt Sharpley), so this is what I gave them:


Kurt Sharpley was born to write erotic romance. He has been authoring smutty filth for ten years now*, and is confident he’s finally ready to make the big time.

His eventual goal is to quit Hot Dog On A Stick once and for all. Not that it’s a bad job, but his boss, Deborah, has been unfairly inflexible with the schedule. Like it’s HIS fault he’s still weak from the gastric bypass surgery.

Kurt looks forward to making the world shiver and jitter.

*Including longer works such as “Dog Milk”, “Under the Pool”, and “Yukon Do It” (about a pair of sexy Inuits who get “cozy” on a bed of pemmican). These works are also available to be published.


Also, submissions needed to be at least 1000 words long (I added a few), and follow this set of guidelines:

 The erotic scenario could be anything, but the theme must define romance. We prefer to keep it erotic, since that is the content we are looking for. All short stories must be HEA (happily ever after) or HFN (happy for now), and it could involve straight couples, gay couples, poly, or ménage, so as long there is a romance theme in the story.

No problem there; the whole point of this little project is to amass those sweet rejection letters, so most of Afterdark’s precious rules didn’t really apply to me. I submitted my horrible erotic literature, and only had to wait two days for their response:



Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 2.34.43 PM


Accepted? Published? Many writers spend years trying to publish their works, and this is how it happens to me? BY ACCIDENT? I can honestly say I never really planned for this eventuality.

Again, the story is about a circus clown that teaches a foot juggler how to tie balloons into poodle shapes. It contains no sex, no romance, no couples (gay or straight), no polyamorousness, no ménages (of trois or otherwise), and a brief lecture on energy conservation. Because: IT IS NOT EROTICA.

Clearly, I figured, this must be some kind of mistake.

Well, as it turns out, NOPE. (link is NSFW)

I have no explanation as to how this thing got published. It could be that the site’s editor just didn’t read the piece, or maybe he or she just gets turned on by some baffling stuff. Either way, I HAD to respond.


Dear Afterdark Online—

Thank you so much for publishing my piece titled ‘The Three Rings of Passion’. Now I can finally quit Hot Dog On A Stick! My boss, Deborah, is going to be so peeved (I was scheduled for a triple-shift, PLUS it’s my week to clean the 200-gallon boiler). I guess stuck-up, snooty Deborah is going to have to find a babysitter and finally get her hands dirty.

When can I expect payment? Today is preferred, but as long as I get the money by the end of the week, I’ll be fine (I can afford to skip a dinner or two since the gastric bypass surgery didn’t take).

Once again, thank you so much for your faith in my work. I’d love to know what it was specifically that you found titillating. Could you send me some feedback? Even better, I’d love a couple of pull-quotes from you for when I publish my first anthology (I’m thinking of calling it either ‘Ero-tickled Fancy’, ‘Groin Stories’, or ‘Kurt Sharpley’s Big Book of Arousing Yarns). Let me know!

Your new partner,

Kurt Sharpley

hot dog on a stick



That’s it for now, but stay tuned for updates. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go celebrate my first piece of published erotica by eating a chicken salad.

Trying To Publish My Smut: Part V

Occasionally, I’ll get bored and write fake erotica and send it to publishers. This entry is one of those. ATTN: Links may be (read: are) NSFW.


Dear Ms. Naughty–

It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. My name is Kurt Sharpley, and I was born to write erotica. I have been authoring smutty filth for several years now, and I believe I am finally ready to make the big time. That is why I am coming to you.

Your brand of steamy, explicit material is second-to-none. The ‘About’ section of your website,, says it all: “smart porn” that is “re-visioned, feminist, artistic and positive”, and that moves “beyond the old clichés, boundaries and negativity of standard, old-style pornography.” This is exactly what I write. I could not have said it better myself.

I would be honored if your website would be the first to publish my materials. It would definitely be the first step in my eventual goal of quitting Hot Dog On A Stick once and for all. It’s not a bad job, mind you; but my boss, Deborah, has been unfairly inflexible with the schedule. Like it’s my fault I’m still weak from the gastric bypass surgery.

Anyway, given your penchant for sexy stories with “interesting scenarios and fascinating characters” please enjoy this tale of lust under the big top. I hope it makes you shiver and jitter.



By Kurt Sharpley

Put Three Rings On It

Put Three Rings On It


Blumbo G. Pancakes was the sexiest clown at the circus. His plump red nose glistered in the blare of the spotlight. Dazzling orange hair poured out in waves from underneath his yellow-and-green propeller beanie. His round belly pulsed against thick purple suspenders. And then there were his feet: huge, powerful flaps of meat and bone that pushed the limits of his shiny blue lace-up high-tops.

Blumbo’s mere presence would leave people thunderstruck; to see him in action was even more thrilling. He’d playfully plunge a silky gloved finger into his throbbing bag of balloons, and with a wink, he’d pull out the biggest one he could find. After giving it a stretch or two for ease of inflation, he’d press the opening against his full, buttery lips, and blow— slowly at first, then forcefully, his heaving exhalations filling its rubbery hollows to the point of bursting.

Blumbo would then twist his engorged balloons into a wondrous variety of provocative shapes: piggies; horsies; duckies; teddy bears holding flowers; lovebirds kissing inside of a heart; fish; swords; octopuses; wiener dogs; pussy cats; giraffes; monkeys playing guitar; monkeys playing saxophone; monkeys playing flute; monkeys playing golf; monkeys riding bicycles; and swans– each one a sensual masterwork, crafted with the strong, skilled hands of a virtuoso.

One thing’s for sure—Blumbo G. Pancakes was very experienced.

Late one night, Blumbo toddled back to his trailer after a hard, sweaty day of ballooning. He swung the door wide, and crisp air suddenly nipped at the red-and-white makeup that was trickling down his face in warm drips.

His air conditioner was on!

This was odd, because Blumbo was usually very circumspect when it came to energy consumption. He’d installed high-performance windows certified by the National Fenestration Rating Council; he’d replaced all his incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescents; and he always made sure to turn everything off before he left. Even when he was home, he’d only plug in his appliances when he needed to use them.

The steady drone of the air conditioner made him feel stupid and careless. But how could he be careless if he cared so much? Perhaps he was just having an off day…

“I thought you’d never get here,” said a voice in the darkness. “I’ve been waiting for you.

There was someone there!

Blumbo flipped the light switch by the door, and to his surprise, there was a woman perched in his clown bed. This was Lolita DeVille, the circus’ premiere aerial foot-juggler. People would come from all over to see her dangle from the tent roof by her hair as she juggled all sorts of items with her nimble feet: bean bags; bowling pins; flaming swords; regular swords; pillows; motorcycle tires; chainsaws; regular saws; torches; hot coals; eggs; hamburgers; Roman helmets; tomatoes; dry ice; emperor scorpions; and balls.

Her sequined leotard glimmered in the dim, energy-saving fluorescent lighting.

“What are you doing here, Lolita?” asked Blumbo G. Pancakes.

“I need you,” she said, and delicately glossed her bottom lip with the tip of her tongue. “I need you so bad.”

“Why?” gulped Blumbo, beginning to sweat again, despite the refreshing conditioned air.

Lolita hopped off the bed and gave Blumbo a scorching glance. “I want you to teach me how to twist balloons into poodle shapes,” she said.

“What you really need to learn are a few helpful tips for conserving electricity,” said Blumbo. “By running the air conditioner all day, you’re using up valuable natural resources that have a limited supply. If we don’t get things under control, we’re going to end up having to import reserves from Canada. Plus, most of our power plants burn fossil fuels, which release copious amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. You’re creating unnecessary pollution, not to mention the added costs for me. It’s expensive.”

“I’m sorry,” said Lolita. “I guess I wasn’t thinking.”

“No you weren’t,” said Blumbo, sitting down on a chair near the fridge. “But that’s behind us now.”

“I’m glad,” said Lolita. She shimmied over to Blumbo and squatted in his lap. “I really like you, Blumbo. I couldn’t stand it if I thought you were angry with me.”

“I’m not angry,” said Blumbo. “Just disappointed. Now tell me… why do you want to learn how to tie poodle balloons?

“So I can juggle them in my act,” she said.

“Good idea,” said Blumbo. “Juggling lightweight objects is deceptively difficult. If you can pull it off, audiences will be amazed.”

“I know,” said Lolita, giving Blumbo a sultry look. “With your help, I’ll be famous.”

“Then give me some room,” said Blumbo.

Lolita stood up and Blumbo reached into his balloon bag. He yanked out a balloon, and blew into it until it was long and firm. Then:

SQEAK! Blumbo made a leg.

“Ooh,” said Lolita.

SQUEAK! Blumbo made another leg.

“Ooh, yes,” gasped Lolita.

SQUEAK! SQUEAK! Blumbo twisted two more legs.

“Yes!” screamed Lolita. “Just like that!”

SQUEAK! SQUEAK! SQUEAK! Blumbo tied the nose, ears, and tail.

“Yes, Blumbo, yes!” shrieked Lolita.

Proudly, Blumbo G. Pancakes presented Lolita with the finished product. “And that’s how you make a poodle,” said Blumbo, looking extremely satisfied.

Lolita gave Blumbo a high-five, and the flower on his lapel squirted water everywhere.

“Oh, Blumbo,” said Lolita. “I’m all wet.”

“I’m sorry, Lolita,” said Blumbo. “It was an accident.”



There you have it, Ms. Naughty! Blazing hotness delivered right to your door. If you like this one, I have written thousands of others (12,487!), including larger pieces titled “Dog Milk”, “Under the Church”, and “Yukon Do It” (about a pair of sexy Inuits who get “cozy” on a bed of pemmican). Let me know if you’re interested!

Publish me, Ms. Naughty, and we will steam up the globe. I thank you in advance for your consideration.

Your supremely erotic friend,

Kurt Sharpley

These Inuits are "into it".

These Inuits are “into it”.

Trying To Publish My Smut: Part IV

A few days ago, under the name Kurt Sharpley, I submitted a STORY to Ellora’s Cave (a website dedicated to the publication of erotic fiction). To my surprise, they responded almost immediately:



Naturally, I wrote them back. Persistence is key.


Dear Ellora—

Thank you for your swift reply! I appreciate you taking the time to read my piece of erotica, titled ‘Hamster Bath’. You may be relieved to know that it comes as no surprise at all that you rejected it. After I sent it out, I realized that I had completely neglected to read your submission guidelines, specifically:

  • Scenes should contribute to furthering the plot or affecting the development of the relationship or the growth of the characters.
  •  There must be an emotionally satisfying committed ending for the main characters.

There it was, plain as day, and I totally dropped the ball. ‘Hamster Bath’ obviously does not meet either of these prerequisites, and for that, I apologize. I want you to know that I’ve taken your words heart, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to redeem myself.

I have decided to answer your special submission call for works in the subgenre Women with Whips. Your description of this category (FemDommes that “won’t hesitate to put you in your place—beneath the heels of their boots”) was especially helpful.

My new piece, for your assessment, is a lusty story of FemDomme passion in the high desert. Hold onto your horses, because this is some sexy stuff.

The Whip Cracks Now

The Whip Cracks Now


Sally Galoot was the rootinest, tootinest cowgirl in Texas. She had risen to fame as the headlining act in ‘Uncle Buffalo’s Madcap West-a-thon’. No one from east of the Colorado Forest to north of the Utah Canals could handle a bullwhip like she could. Her precision was unmatched, and her flair for spectacle spurred folks from near and far to come watch her strut her stuff.

That night’s performance began like any other. The opening act was Rooster Spittoon, who could eat a whole lasso in under a minute. Then, Curly “Pig-Winger” Blount thrilled the audience by tossing a hundred-pound sow over a stagecoach and into a bucket of snakes. Even Uncle Buffalo took the stage to make music by blowing into a jug. But these displays were just appetizers. What the crowd truly hungered for was Sally Galoot, Bullwhipper Supreme.

When Sally finally moseyed onto the stage wearing golden chaps and a ten-gallon coyote-skin hat, the crowd started a-hootin’ and a-hollerin’. Sally was used to this by now, but it always tickled her fancy. She cracked her whip once, and the ruckus died down, until the whole theater was as hushed as a polecat with no mouth.

“Fer mah first trick”, hooted Sally in her famous lilting drawl, “I’m-a need uh vawlunteer from th’ crowd.”

Immediately, a trillion hands shot up. Sally surveyed the rows of eager faces until she finally pointed to a handsome cowboy with a handlebar mustache and a huge belt buckle.

“Yore the lucky feller!” said Sally. “Git on up here!”

The cowboy obeyed her command, and ambled up nervously. Sally could see she’d made the right choice; this dude was packed from head to toe with solid muscle, and even though he was sweaty, he smelled like jasmine.

“Whut’s yore name, buddy?” demanded Sally.

“Obediah Pamby” the cowboy said sweetly, avoiding Sally’s gaze.

“Well, Obediah,” said Sally, “git ready to take a whippin’!”

Sally tied Obediah to a pole and blindfolded him. Next, she took off her left boot and balanced it on his head. Once Obediah was securely in his place beneath the heel of her boot, Sally turned to the crowd.

“Y’all ready?” she yelled. “Cause I’m gonna whip it!”

The crowd cheered enthusiastically.

Oh, yes. It seemed they were indeed ready.

“Yee-haw!” Sally screamed, and with a crack of her whip, knocked the boot right off Obediah’s head.

“Ta-da!” yelled Sally, and the crowd cheered again.

Sally removed her other boot and placed it on Obediah’s head.

“Yahoo!” Sally yelled, and with a snap, whipped the other boot off.

“Ta-da!” she screamed again, which was met with more cheers and applause. Next, she placed a banana on Obediah’s head.

“Yippee-kay-ay!” she yelled, and whipped the banana. It exploded.

“Ta-da!” Sally screamed, and the audience also exploded– with cheers.

Then she placed a wooden match on Obediah’s head.

“Fer mah final trick, I’m-a do this with my eyes closed”, Sally shouted. She then took her scarf and tied it around her head until she was just as blindfolded as Obediah.

The crowd went as quiet as a mouse encased in a potato.

“Hi-ho!” she screamed, and with a whack, whipped the match. It burst into flame!

The audience went berserk and threw roses. Never had they seen something so amazing. Sally took a bow.

Just then, an evil witch appeared in a puff of brown smoke. “All this clapping and whipping has awoken me from my slumber,” cackled the witch. “For that, I curse you, Sally Galoot!”

Sparkles emanated from the witch’s gnarled finger. Suddenly, Sally started to grow. Before long, she was eighty feet tall—far too big to operate a regular-sized bullwhip with any finesse.

The witch cackled again, then disappeared in a puff of yellow smoke.

“Oh no!” bellowed giant Sally Galoot. “Whut am I gon’ do?”

“Marry me,” someone said. Sally had a hard time figuring out who it was because she was so huge. Eventually, she found the source of the tiny voice: it was Obediah Pamby. He had untied himself, but too late—the match had scorched his hair clean off.

“I may be bald and burned,” said Obediah, “but I knows a good woman when I sees one. Marry me and be my humongous bride.”

“Yep, yep, a thousand times yep!” boomed Sally. The crowd cheered again, and threw more roses.

Soon after that, Sally and Obediah got married, had six big children, and were emotionally satisfied.



So there you have it: fairly significant character growth and an emotionally satisfying, committed ending. Everything you require for your brand of sensual romance. And if you like this story, you’ll be happy to know I’m working on a sequel as we speak. Part II: ‘Stiff Upper Whip’ will be a steamy revisionist re-telling of ‘Under The Whipper’s Boot’ from the perspective of the witch. I’ll let you know when I’m done!

Thanks again for your consideration, Ellora! Publish my story, and we’ll titillate the world’s groins together.

Yours in sexiness,

Kurt Sharpley

The Wicked Whip Of The West

The Wicked Whip Of The Sexy West

Trying To Publish My Smut: Part III

Recently, I submitted a story to erotic fiction publishing website Ellora’s Cave under the name Kurt Sharpley. I’m sure to hear from them any day now. (This is not the first time I’ve done this. To see where this whole dumb hobby got started, go HERE and HERE)


Dear Ellora—

First, allow me to say that I am a big fan of your website. I’ve read many of your titles, including ‘Spellbound Desire’, ‘The Nightwind’s Woman’, and my personal favorite, ‘Pliable Inhibitions’. As you say on your ‘About Me’ page, your cave truly is “A home for lovers of erotic romance”. That’s me!

My name is Kurt Sharpley, and I am an aspiring writer. While I have authored many books on a variety of subjects (none published), my true penchant is for the world of literary erotica. To date, I have written over 10,218 erotic stories (none published). These tales are guaranteed to inflame the crotches of people all over the world, and in your website, I think they’ve finally found a home.

On your ‘Write For Us’ page, it says that you’re always looking for new talent, and that it doesn’t matter if I have an agent or not. While I actually do have one—my real estate agent, Donette– she seems to think that this is not her area of expertise. She’s also kind of mad at me because it’s been twelve years, and I still haven’t bought a house. But I don’t care– these decisions take time!

And so I come to you unrepresented, but with the certainty that once you read my work, you will be happy to publish it. Below is a sample of my latest story, titled ‘Hamster Bath’, a bawdy tale of passion in the tub. Strap yourself down, because this thing is steamy!

One Naughty Rodent In A Tiny Tub

One Naughty Rodent In A Tiny Tub

‘Hamster Bath, Chapter 1: The Wettening’

Hamburger the Hamster was a dirty boy.

He’d worked up a hot sweat on the exercise wheel, the metal rungs whizzing by like frightened birds beneath the pads of his little pink feet. Hamburger had never run so hard, yet he couldn’t stop; he imagined himself as a wild stallion on the open prairie, galloping through the tall grass, daring cowboys and Indians alike: Break me if you can.

Finally, Hamburger’s itty-bitty legs gave out, and he flopped out of reverie and onto the floor of his pen, his silky brown fur matted with froth. He staggered to the far corner of the cage and lapped up a cool dewdrop of water from the stiff, hard nozzle of his sippy bottle. When he was fully satisfied, he collapsed into a pile of wood chips.

By the time Hamburger realized what he had done, it was too late.

The thin shavings clung to his sweaty body like soft kisses; he was covered from head to toe in moist hamster bedding, and try as he might, he could not wipe himself clean.

Hamburger was a dirty, dirty boy.

Suddenly, Hamburger’s owner, Chris Rodriguez, strode into the room wearing blue parachute pants, red running shoes, and an orangey-yellow Banana Republic sweater. He had just finished a backbreaking shift at The Old Spaghetti Factory, and was ready for the sweet relief of slumber.

“I’m home, Hamburger,” said Chris Rodriguez. “And boy are my arms sore.”

From making spaghetti, he thought to himself. Chris Rodriguez never spoke about spaghetti out loud to Hamburger, mostly because Spaghetti was also the name of Chris Rodriguez’s first hamster, and he didn’t want to make Hamburger jealous. Spaghetti, Hot Dog, Pizza, Chicken Soup… these were all hamsters that Hamburger didn’t need to know about. It would complicate things.

“Think I’ll hit the hay,” said Chris Rodriguez, as he yanked off his sweater, exposing the button-up shirt he was wearing underneath. “Tomorrow’s another d…”

Just then, he looked into the cage.

“Oh, Hamburger!” exclaimed Chris Rodriguez. “You’re filthy! I guess sleep will have to wait.” He gave Hamburger a wink. “You need a bath.”

Hamburger tried to escape, but there was nowhere to go. The cage was too small; Chris Rodriguez’s hands, too large. In the end, all Hamburger could do was shudder in the darkness of Chris Rodriguez’s cupped palms. They’d been through all of this before.

When they reached the bathroom, Chris Rodriguez plopped Hamburger into a luxurious porcelain bowl, then on a dry towel, laid out all his hamster-cleaning tools: a tiny bottle of Garnier Früctis Body Boost shampoo; a teeny-tiny bottle of fortifying conditioner; and an itty-bitty tin of Sephora honey-scented foaming bubble cream.

Chris Rodriguez then delicately poured some warm water over Hamburger’s head. Hamburger tried to clamber out of the bowl, but it was hopeless. The porcelain was too slick. Any time Hamburger got close to escape, he’d just slide back down into the wetness.

Chris Rodriguez reached down and gripped his hamster gently but firmly, and pressed an itsy-bitsy all-natural loofa sponge to the base of Hamburger’s teensy- weensy nose.

“A-scrubba-dubba,” said Chris Rodriguez.

Hamburger tried to wiggle free.

“A-scrubba-dubba, a-scrubba-dubba-dubba,” said Chris Rodriguez.

Hamburger wiggled.

“A-scrubba,” said Chris Rodriguez. “A dubba-dubba.”

Hamburger wiggled some more.

“A-scrubba-dubba-dubba-dubba,” said Chris Rodriguez.

Hamburger wiggled and wiggled.


So what do you think? Pretty sexy, right? I’ve only written up to page 1783 (800 chapters of around two pages each), but when I’m done, I’ll send you the full manuscript. And if you like what you’ve seen, I’d also be happy to courier over some of my completed works, such as ‘Farmer’s Beard’, ‘My Favorite Jelly’, and ‘Catfished for Reel’ (about a Louisiana fisherman looking for love online who gets catfished by an actual catfish). Let me know!

I look forward to working with you, Ellora! Let’s make America throb with passion!

Yours in all things erotic and sexy,

Kurt Sharpley


Catfished For Reel: A Man, A Computer, And A Master Baiter


*UPDATE*: Go HERE to see how Ellora’s Cave responded!


Over the past few days, I have watched with dread as news of Robin Williams’ tragic suicide has pervaded the Internet like a fever. I’ve seen the breaking footage and the press conferences, the statements made by his family as well as the ignominious report made by the Marin County Coroner’s Office detailing Williams’ physical condition and state of undress.

What I have found to be most compelling, however, are the multifarious responses on social media from celebrities and regular folk alike: the outpourings of grief; the anecdotes; the photos, the tributes, the R.I.P.’s. The Internet in this sense is a kind of reactor, containing a controlled explosion of hasty thoughts and genuine emotion. So it really didn’t surprise me when all this heartfelt sentiment made the effortless transition into a debate about the morality of suicide.

The first blurt from more than a few people in my Facebook feed was that “suicide is a selfish act”. These declarations were usually triggered with “I’m a huge Robin Williams fan, but…”, and often contained buzzwords like “cowardly” or “thoughtless”.

Then came the backlash: the wave of retorts condemning these comments as “insensitive”, followed by links to a slew of articles rationalizing suicide as the symptom of a disease. “He couldn’t help himself,” they all seemed to say. “He was a victim. To call him selfish is foolish and ignorant.”

For the record, I think both sides of the argument are correct.

I also think they’re both dead wrong.

Allow me to elucidate:

When I was a toddler, my Father killed himself. Like Robin Williams, he hanged himself with a belt, leaving my Mother to deal with the thousands of dollars in debt that she had racked up by supporting him through medical school—not to mention a young child and the stigma of being widowed.

For my part, I was too young to have been able to retain the details of the moment, so I didn’t have any real context until years later, when I discovered his suicide note folded up and stashed away in a decorative tin on the mantel of our electric fireplace. Addressed to my Mother, it read:

My Dear Lois

Please understand that I had to disappear. For too long I’ve known that life for me and for you with me will be a constant succession of unhappy times. I cannot face the future, the present is too unpleasant. You will do much better without me. Please find somebody great next time. I’m sure you will but you must be careful to avoid disasters like me or some of your previous men. You’ll get lots of help from our friends, you will be happy once the morbid Mark evaporates as matter and memory. Take care of Josh, don’t let him be unhappy.

     All my love.



As I read the letter for the first time, it felt heavy. It was practically dank with the final thoughts of an obviously very depressed man. Having previously experienced nothing but a dim resentment toward my Father, here I suddenly felt sorry for him for the first time.

Then I read the letter again. And again. And again. Pity turned to disappointment. And disappointment became disgust. It finally occurred to me: my Father’s suicide was a selfish act.


Perhaps you think this is some knee-jerk, emotional reaction. Maybe you imagine I’m too close to the situation to understand the realities. To that, I can only say I am simply working with the tools I’ve been given.

I have a note from my Father.

Let’s ignore the fact that in just over 100 words, he mentions himself nine times (one of which is a reference to himself in the third-person). It’s his suicide note. I can’t fault him for making himself the protagonist.

I’m more concerned with these words: “…you must be careful to avoid disasters like me or some of your previous men.”

You must be careful,” he says, and very deliberately brings up my Mother’s “previous men” to make sure she knows the mistake was hers.

You keep doing this. You should have known better. This is on you.

Then he adds the coup de grâce: “Take care of Josh, don’t let him be unhappy.” This is his very last thought. It has a don’t-forget-to-walk-the-dog vibe I’ve never quite been able to ignore. It is here that he places the burden of my happiness in my Mother’s hands like a leash and a bag of bones.

Oh, by the way… don’t let Josh be unhappy like you let me be unhappy. Me, the disaster. Me and my constant succession of unhappy times. Me and my unpleasant present. Please understand that I had to disappear.

Me. I. My.

My Father’s suicide was a selfish act. I’ve already made my peace with the experts and their decades of research that prove otherwise. These scientists pretty much know they’re right. I disagree.

You see, my Father’s suicide was selfish because I say it was. I called him selfish to mourn what he abandoned and to show my Mom that– despite what my Father had written—it wasn’t her fault. And ultimately, it was also to assuage myself of the notion that I was a burden to my Mother during what must have been her most difficult times.

This is how I’ve processed the trauma. This is how I’ve healed. And nobody can tell me I’m wrong, because the grief is my own. Mine. Maybe my Father wasn’t being selfish. Maybe he was. But whether you’re an expert or just some online know-it-all, DO NOT PRESUME TO TELL ME HOW I SHOULD FEEL. Suicide and its aftermath aren’t black-and white events. They’re personal.

As for Robin Williams, his motives for doing this terrible thing are none of our business. His family will need to process it without our philosophical input. But by all means, please keep posting your amazing pictures. Tell the story about when you met him or worked with him. Go watch Jumanji.

And if you need help, for fuck’s sake, go get help. Don’t leave us behind.

Trying to Publish My Smut: PART II

Recently, under the pseudonym John Friendly, I wrote to E.L. James (the famed author of the ’50 Shades of Grey’ trilogy), asking for her professional opinion. She has yet to respond, though I imagine I will be hearing from her any day now. In the meantime, I figured it couldn’t hurt to pursue other avenues in order to make contact.

So I wrote to her literary agent, Valerie Hoskins.


Dear Valerie Hoskins–

First off, am I allowed to call you by your first name? Do agents have titles, like “Esquire” or “Commander”? I’m fairly new to the business, so if I have breached any etiquette, please understand I mean no offense.

My name is John Friendly, and I have decided to write erotic fiction for a living. I couldn’t help but notice that you represent E.L. James– one of the great erotic fictionists of our time. So in getting down to brass tacks, I’d like to ask you two questions:

1. Are you looking for new clients? I am in need of representation, as I have written thousands of erotic short stories that are READY for publication. Trust me, we will make a bundle together. These things are STEAMY.

2. Could you make sure the following letter gets to E.L. James? I am a huge fan, and am looking for some helpful hints to hone my craft. You should feel free to read it as well– it contains an excerpt of my work, which I am sure you will find titillating. (GO HERE TO READ THE ORIGINAL LETTER)

Thanks so much,


John Friendly


Being the utter professionals that they are, the agency responded precipitously.


Dear John

You wrote to us recently regarding representation. Unfortunately, we are unable to be of any help at the moment as we have a full client list.

Just so that you are clear, though we represent EL James, this is a one off. We do not represent books, nor do we do erotic literature.

I am sorry it has taken so long to reply but  we are inundated with requests for representation.

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Being a professional myself, I wrote back immediately.


Dear Sara Moore,

I know exactly how you feel. I get inundated with all sorts of things, mostly because of my job at the aquarium. Last week, I was inundated with a skin parasite I got from rubbing up against the squids. It could have been worse; a co-worker of mine once had something lay an egg in his upper lip, and now he can’t eat with his mouth anymore. You just never know.

And please don’t feel the need to apologize for taking so long to reply. I understand you are a very busy person. Besides, I only waited three days. Sometimes it takes me longer than that to finish a Sudoku. It’s water under the bridge, as far as I’m concerned.

Now, I know you’ve said you’re not taking on any more clients, and that you don’t actually represent books or deal in erotic literature. But my friend Barbara, who is a professional Mommy Blogger, told me that the key to this business is persistence, so I have decided to give it another shot.

If you agree to represent me, you won’t be disappointed. My erotica is the real deal. I have written thousands of kinky stories that are guaranteed to make the world jitter with desire. But don’t take my word for it– check out this excerpt of my latest work, titled “Night Smooches“, a sensual tale of unstoppable vampire lust. You’d better buckle yourself in, because this is some randy stuff.



Ding-Dong the Vampire pushed away the lid to his coffin, and it dropped to the castle floor with a clatter. The moon was full in the sky, and Ding-Dong’s hunger was agonizing. Somewhere deep in the bowels of the distant Murk Forest, a werewolf howled. AWOOOO!

Ding-Dong looked to the far corner of the bed-chamber. Underneath a veil of spider-webs, Tristanna Starlove’s coffin lay shut; she was still at rest. Radiant as she was, Tristanna was the sleepiest vampire Ding-Dong had ever known.

“Tristanna? Tristanna, my sweet?” called Ding-Dong, as he pulled on some pants and tied a cape around his neck. “Wake up, my dearest flower. For it is time to feed.”

Slowly, Tristanna’s coffin lid swung open. She emerged gracefully, wearing rubber leggings, a feather boa, and a lacy yellow nightie that draped over her exquisite body like drool.

Tristanna arched her back and stretched her arms skyward. “Good evening, Ding-Dong my love”, she said.

“Good evening, darling heart.” Ding-Dong grabbed Tristanna by the waist, and leaned in. They sucked each other’s blood.

“Your blood is divine”, Ding-Dong said. “It tastes like the ocean.”

“And your blood tickles my fangs,” Tristanna said. “It’s tart and juicy, like a blueberry.”

They sucked each other’s blood again.

“Scrumptious,” said Ding-Dong. “But now we must feed. Are you ready to fly off into the night, my sweetest?”

“Must we?” said Tristanna. “Can’t we just stay here in the castle, wrapped in each other’s arms?”

“But my dear,” Ding-Dong said, “don’t you hunger?”

“Of course I hunger. I always hunger.”

“Me too! I always hunger too!” Ding-Dong exclaimed.

“Then I suppose we should away, my love, because we hunger so much,” said Tristanna.

“Yes we do,” said Ding-Dong. “We hunger and hunger.”

Ding-Dong extended his hand to Tristanna, and she clasped it tenderly. They sucked each other’s blood again.

Then, in a POOF of green smoke, they both turned into bats, and flittered into the night.


So what do you think? Pretty hot and heavy, right? When this story is finished, I will send you the full manuscript. Right now, I’ve only written up to page 1196, so there’s still a tiny bit more to do. Also, if you enjoyed what you read, I can shuttle you a few stories that are ready to go. The ones that probably have the most commercial potential are ‘Hamster Bath’, ‘Thunder Blubber’, and ‘The Sexy Hobbit’, which is a lot like the movie ‘Body Heat’, but with a Hobbit and a Goblin. It’s an against-all-odds romance with plenty of bondage, candle wax, and B-M-S-D.

The world is ready for my eroticism, Sara Moore. Are you?

Thank you in advance for your consideration. Sincerely,

John Friendly


Any word yet from E.L. James about my letter? I notice you don’t use periods between her first two initials– could that have held things up?

Let me know,

John Friendly



Trying to Publish My Smut

Taking the pseudonym ‘John Friendly’, the following is a letter I wrote  to E.L. James (the author of the very popular “50 Shades of Grey” books), asking for advice. I will let you know if she ever responds.


Dear E.L. James–

First off, may I say that I am truly a huge fan. I’ve read the entire ’50 Shades of Grey’ trilogy at least five times over, and am eagerly anticipating your newest book (BTW– any titles in the works? I have some ideas if you need to pinball). My point is, what you have done for modern erotica will never be forgotten. Just the simple act of writing to you is making me extremely nervous, but from what I’ve seen on your website you seem fairly approachable, so here goes:

My name is John Friendly, and I am an aspiring fiction writer, specifically in the arena of literary erotica. I have written other types of stories, but let’s face it, who wants to read a historical biography or a book about trains when it’s just as easy to get your hands on some tasteful smut? I’d read erotic literature all day long if my boss at the aquarium would let me. He says I need to focus around the eel tank. But what does he know? Like I’m supposed to take advice from a guy who lost his lower motor functions to a Lemon Shark.

Anyway, I’ve authored quite a few erotic tales of my own (none published), and I’d love to get your opinion. Here is a sampling of a story I wrote called “Pennies for Dinner”. Tell me what you think:



Stanley Davenshire stepped out of the storm, ravenous. He’d had a hard day of work selling basketballs, and needed something to satisfy his craving. He shook the rain off his jacket, then plopped his wet hat on a brassy hook that jutted from the wall.

“Stacey, I’m home!” he cried. “And my stomach is gurgling like a raging beast.” Stanley gripped a lock of his long, golden hair with a hardened fist and squeezed some of the rain out. He let it drip onto the Victorian hardwood with a BLOP! PLIP! PLOP!

“Dinner’s almost ready,” Stacey yelled from the kitchen. “And boy, are you in for a treat.”

Stacey Devenshire emerged from the doorway wearing a bright yellow shirt, purple pants, orange gloves, and a neon pink scarf that separated her hair into stiff pigtails. In her hands, she held a covered silver platter.

“You look hot and sexy,” said Stanley. “Like all the colors of the rainbow.”

Stacey smiled knowingly. “How was work today?”, she asked.

“Work was great,” Stanley said, licking his lips. “I sold a million basketballs”. He removed his sopping-wet sweater and sat down at the table shirtless.

“Well, then you deserve this.” Stacey removed the dome cover from the platter, revealing over twenty dollars worth of shiny pennies, fresh from the oven.

“Mmmm, smells delish,” Stanley said.

“It is delish,” Stacey said, and scooped a pile onto Stanley’s plate. Then she gave herself a hot serving, and sat down to start munching.

Stanley got as many pennies as he could onto his fork, and shoveled them into his mouth.

“Yum!” Stanley said.

“Yummy!” Stacey said.

“My favorite!” Stanley said.

“Yummo!” said Stacey.

“They’re scrumptious!”, said Stanley.

“Yum yum!” said Stacey.

“Num yummy!” said Stanley.

“Yummy yum yum!” said Stacey.

“Yum nums!” said Stanley.

“Yummy!” said Stacey.

“Yummy!” said Stanley


That’s all I have so far. Soon to come ‘PART II: Dice for Dessert’.

So what do you think? Is it ready to set the world’s groins on fire? The only feedback I’ve gotten up to now is from a friend of mine who suggested that selling a million basketballs in one day might not be believable. But I’m sticking to my guns– plain and simple, I feel like a guy who can’t get off his duff to sell a million basketballs doesn’t deserve hot pennies for dinner.

Anyway, If you like that story, I have written thousands more that I can send you. Other titles include: “Dirty Ham Omelet”, “Milk the Cat”, and my personal favorite, “50 Grades of Shay”, in which a young college student named Shay Irons accidentally enrolls herself in 50 pre-med classes in just one semester. She must pass every course, or risk expulsion from doctor school. And if that isn’t intense enough, there’s also plenty of spankings and BSDM on every page. I’ve already sent a copy to your agent, but I’d love to hear what you have to say.

So please write me back! Your opinion means a lot to me, and who knows– you might just be discovering the next E.L. James.

Gratefully yours,

John Friendly


Does my name sound erotic enough to you? I’ve been thinking about changing it to give people an idea of what they’re in for. So far, all I’ve come up with are ‘Chuck Meatley’, ‘Hugh Dendum’, and ‘Dewy Splatter’. Feel free to chime in on this.

Thanks again,