Friday, September 30, 2005

I wish I could say this was an American idea

But it's not. The company is Australian.

Pleasure Puss reusable sanitary Pads

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Absorbant, Leakproof and Comfortable one piece design makes Pleasure Puss reusable sanitary pads easy to use and simple to care for.

Non - allergenic - no skin irritation.

Saves you money.

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Why use cloth pads?

Caring for your pads

I'll let you folks peruse those links at your leisure. When you're bored of that, the Wikipedia entry on toilet paper was a hoot. D.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

"Are you spiritual?"

Um. Helloooo, Blogger? Is there a good reason why this post was up for several hours, and then disappeared, only to reappear as an older (AND INCOMPLETE!) draft version on my dashboard? Or is this post being yanked by an even Higher Authority? Cue Twilight Zone music. Damn. I hate telling jokes twice.
At a Christmas party a few years ago, one of the local wives asked Karen, apropos of nothing, "Are you spiritual?" Here was my wife, a firm atheist, being questioned on faith by someone who could only be described as a true believer. I watched, dumbstruck. I expected blood. But I had underestimated Karen yet again. As an attentive student of Miss Manners, she handled the question with ease. "What an interesting question," she said. "And such a good question, too. Isn't it odd how infrequently folks talk about spirituality with people they hardly know? I wonder why that is?" And so forth. She kept at it until the topic had strayed a safe distance from the hot button of spirituality. The other woman never knew what hit her. I was relieved -- not so much because Karen had handled the question so deftly, but because no one had bothered to ask me.
No one ever talked religion in my family. We went to temple rarely, and in those days (the mid- to late-60s) rabbis sermonized on politics, not faith. The Holocaust was scarcely twenty years old; we all knew folks with tattoos on their arms. As far as I could tell, being a Jew meant (1) never forgetting the Holocaust, (2) supporting Israel, and (3) not believing in Jesus. By age five, the muse had me staging boxing matches in my head between God and Jesus, Jesus and the Devil, the Devil and Jesus versus God, and so forth. My knowledge of Jesus came from watching Bible-thumpers on Sunday TV and whatever I could find on weekdays. A few years later, I would be Garner Ted Armstrong's biggest fan. I suspect I had a better understanding of Revelations than I did of Genesis. That might explain how I came up with the Hannukah Lobster. After that bit of humiliation, I brow-beat my parents into signing me up for Hebrew School. There, Israeli women who pronounced my name Dog taught me to read Hebrew, and later, a tyrannical cantor taught me my cantillation marks so I could belt out Torah lines with the best of 'em. Religious instruction consisted of disjointed Bible stories taught as historical fact with nary a word of moral or ethical analysis. As for Talmud -- Talwhat? Our rabbi fancied himself a comedian, a Jackie Mason in tefillin. What a dick. His whole pre-ceremony interaction with me consisted of a twenty minute interview, during which he badgered me about how baseball was a sport for intellectuals. He got me to cough up some dirt on my family, which he used during my bar mitvah as 'humorous' snark. Yeah, that's right -- in front of my friends, family, and the whole congregation. That ended my schtick with Judaism, at least for a while.
See, it's this last bit that Blogger keeps eating. Not the whole post, just this last bit. Grrr. A few days ago, I mentioned Borges' story, "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote", wherein a little known, marginally successful author sets out to rewrite Don Quixote word for word. I'm beginning to feel like Menard, only it's not Cervantes I'm struggling to channel. It's me. Well, here goes. One more time. This time I'm saving the HTML in a separate text file.
Over the years, my spiritual pendulum has swung from Judaism through Agnosticism to Zen Buddhism. I'm what you call a Jew-Boo (if you're trying to be nasty, that is) or a Juddhist (my preferred designation). Those of you familiar with Buddhism know that its precepts are compatible with other religions. Zen, especially, is more a philosophy than a network of faith-based beliefs. So it's not all that weird, despite what some of my tribe might think -- the ones who sling the Jew-Boo label, that is. Now that I'm an adult, I can take charge of my education. I have a halfway decent library on both Zen and Judaism, and I've read a fair fraction of it. I'm not an ignoramus. For that matter, I suspect I've read more of the New Testament than the average American Christian. Nevertheless, when it comes to practice, I'm as piss-poor a Buddhist as I am a Jew. The pendulum tends to take a sharp turn back towards Judaism whenever I'm faced with a pediatric airway emergency. Times like those, the last thing I want to believe is that I'm the one whose solely responsible for the life of this child. Those situations are frightening enough without that kind of load on my shoulders. Yup, that's when the big time bargaining comes in. Me: Hey, God? You remember me, the guy who recites his Shema every few years or so and hopes like crazy he's catching You in a good mood. Well, hey, look. It's like this. I have this kid here, she's eighteen months old, and I would really appreciate it if you would help me look after her. Him: (silence) Me: Okay. Be that way. How about this: if things work out okay, I'll start working on my son again. I mean, he's nine years old. How entrenched could his atheism be? I'll do my best, Lord, I really really will. And so forth. When you get down to it, I want to believe, particularly at times like those. Security, that's what it's all about. I don't believe in an afterlife and I'm not particularly afraid of my own death. I am concerned about the safety and health of my family and my patients, and so I want to think Someone is up there watching over us. At the same time, I realize no one makes it out of here alive.
That's why questions like "Are you spiritual?", "Do you believe in God?", or even "Have you been saved?" distress me. The answer to all three is the same: It's complicated. You know something? For the folks who ask those kinds of questions, "It's complicated" is the last answer they want to hear. It's complicated because I'm not the perfect Vulcan my wife is. It's complicated because, while I hate blind faith, I'm too attached to my memes to let them go. It's complicated because, like any true Agnostic, I really don't know the answers. I'd like to think my confusion is the hallmark of an intelligent mind, but I know it is nothing more than what it is: confusion. And it doesn't help that every time I come within a hair's breadth of something approaching an epiphany of self-understanding, Blogger eats my column. Okay. Here goes. Save HTML file. Hit publish button. D.

Cool link and quick snark

If you haven't done so already, hop on over to Stephanie Feagan's blog, where she has a fun link to a Kinky Friedman political cartoon. Go Kinkster! No more Muffinry, folks. I've had it up to here. It occurred to me, however, that some of you might still need your morning Muffin. If so, check out the Lydia of Purple website (get a load of that URL!), and while you're there, don't miss reading about Joshua's overpriced birdhouses. Josh needs to make a living, too. "Bless this Ozark Lad with a new pair of pants without holes in the knees." D.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Lame Reasons to Have Sex #3

Karen: Uh-uh. Me: You realize, you're contributing to my risk factors for prostate cancer. Karen: Oh, that is weak. Besides, I thought you had your bases covered with all that fiddling. Me: Damn. D.

How many is too many?

Meet the Duggar family. (You're looking at the old site, folks. For the properly formatted version of this post -- with more comments -- click here.) Note that (Head Count) - Mom - Dad = 14. This is the Duggar family circa 2004, before #15 arrived. The Duggars were the subject of a Discovery Health channel documentary, "14 Children and Pregnant Again!", which airs again on October 27 and October 29. Here's the blurb: "The Duggars are letting God dictate how many children they have and, with nine boys, five girls, and one on the way, Jim Bob and Michelle feel blessed many times over! Find out how the Duggars coordinate a household that would challenge any manager." Before discussing precisely how the Duggars coordinate that household, let's get some Guinness Book of World Records perspective. According to, the 2001 Guinness Book gives the record to "the first wife of Feodor Vassilyev (1707-1782) of Shuya, Russia": 69 children, many of them multiple births, 67 of whom survived infancy. In recent times, the record belongs to "Leontina Albina from San Antonio, Chile. Now in her mid-sixties, Leontina claims to be the mother of 64 children, of which only 55 of them are documented". Can we at least agree that 55 children is too many? Back to the Duggars. Never mind that Jim Bob and Michelle dress their children like clones and give them names, ALL of them, that start with J (including Jinger -- pronounced Ginger, in case you're wondering). Never mind that the white suprem acist website st0rrmf runt dot org* luuurves the Duggars cuz they're bringin' all them white Christian babies into the world. After all, the Duggars can't help it if they've become the neo-Knotsies' poster family. No. What I wonder is whether Jim Bob and Michelle are doing the job. Not that job -- obviously, they're doing very little else. I mean the job of parenting. Take a look at the Quiverfull FAQ. Here's their response to the question (not really a question, but what the hey), "You won't be able to give as much time or attention to a dozen kids as you could to just two or three": "We trust that God will give us the ability to meet the needs of all the children He gives us -- and that includes their need for love and attention as well as material needs." Read the rest, if you like. They go on to talk about all the great parenting opportunities you get eating and praying together as a family. And don't forget the joys of having ten or more siblings: "[H]ow could we consider robbing our children of the opportunity for a life-time of shared experiences with another brother or sister, in exchange for a theoretical increase in attention from their parents?" I have a brother and a sister. One each. Did I really need to have another ten of 'em to get that wonderful experience? Damn it, I'm going to call my parents and tell them I've been ROBBED.
Karen and I got tweaked over the Duggars, the Prairie Muffins, and the Quiverfull folks thanks to the comments thread for this post at The News Blog. That thread led Karen to discover the Television Without Pity website, which, when it comes to television programming, has to be the snarkiest of the snarky snark. They truly live up to their name. Anyway, for the last four days, Karen has been a slave to TWP's two hundred page thread of comments in response to "14 Children and Pregnant Again!" Since we haven't watched the show, our understanding of its content comes from that comment thread. (Check it out, but prepare to be addicted. Some of the posters are hilarious -- e.g., "I think my tubes just spontaneously tied themselves.") Remember, "Find out how the Duggars coordinate a household that would challenge any manager"? Here are a few highlights of the Duggars' managerial, I mean child-rearing, methods.
  • The kids are home-schooled. Their only outside contact is with other Fundamentalist Christian families; they don't even go to church (they hold services at home).
  • There's a "buddy system" in place to care for newly weaned infants. Eight- to ten-year-old children are charged with care responsibilities for children under two. Where's mom? Giving suck to the next in line.
  • With fourteen (now fifteen) kids on board, economies must be observed. The photo above is the rule, not the exception: the kids all dress in the same clothes. The program also focused on meals in the Duggar household -- they sure like Tater Tot casserole!
  • In a household of this size, the chores are enormous. Each child is given his/her "jurisdiction". A six-year-old is responsible for all of the laundry, and so forth.
Some of you will no doubt point out that in past generations, this, or something close to it, was the norm. But consider: Back then, such folks lived on farms, and the numbers were necessary to provide labor. Back then, infant mortality claimed a sizable share of the family. Back then, birth control was illegal, unavailable, or (if available) next to useless. Back then, a child wasn't expected to do much more than finish grade school and learn a trade (or work on the family farm). With scaled-down expectations, and with the fruits of a family farm (such as a ready supply of chicken eggs and cow's milk), a husband and wife could provide for a large family in what was, at the time, a respectably ample fashion. Back then, what opportunities did a woman have? It was the rare woman who could rise above this fate.
Yes, you can argue that this is a free country. The Duggars are self-sufficient thanks to Jim Bob's real estate investments, so they're not living on the public dole. Why shouldn't they procreate like bunnies, if that's what they want? I worry about the kids. Except for the youngest (the one lucky enough to be born just before Michelle Duggar's uterus commits seppuku), they'll grow up without a childhood, and they'll grow up knowing nothing else but the Duggar Way. I can't help but think the Duggars are carrying their freedom a little too far. Further reading (in case you found this post last): So you want to be a Prairie Muffin? D. *I don't particularly want these guys sniffing around my website, you know what I mean? Hence the misspellings. Google the Duggars and you'll find plenty of Knotsie links.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Lame Reasons to Have Sex #2

Karen: NO. Me: But it's my second day after my birthday day! Karen: Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. D.

Technical difficulties

This time, it wasn't my fault. Honest. I deleted a draft. A bloody draft. And then I added fiveandfour to my New Pals list, and then my blog crashed. I managed to figure out that my template had become horribly corrupted, so I've resurrected the blog, SORT OF, by refreshing the template. I lost all my sidebar stuff, but I knew that would happen. More worrisome: I can't get into the archives. I think I can fix that by republishing the whole blog. Anyway, what's the worst that can happen? You guys will need to drop me a quick note (in response to this message, for example) so that I can reconstruct my links.* I'm hopeful that Blogger will fix the problem. They fixed it before (and that time, I deleted the whole blog!)This should be a piece of cake, right? This experience has made me realize two things: 1. I've invested way too much of myself in this blog. It ain't healthy, I tell ya. 2. I need to SAVE THE TEMPLATE BEFORE MAKING CHANGES. Dumb shit. D. *As you can see, I have posted a new links list in exciting alphabetical order. If I've forgotten you, please SPEAK UP. If you would like a reciprocal link and you are not a Muffin, YOU SPEAK UP, TOO.

Banned Books Week: the Muffin POV

Thanks to Kate for pointing out that, here in the (still free, but for a limited time only) US of A, it's the American Library Association's Banned Books Week. Funny thing: one way or another, I would have found this out. I was trying to research Muffin attitudes towards child-rearing when I discovered the Buried Treasure Weblog, which is the online home of the Muffin Manifesto. (I blogged on this yesterday.) Carmon, the Buried Treasure Muffin Maven, has this to say about Banned Books Week: "You probably already guessed that I don’t think all ideas are created equal. In fact, I think some ideas are so blasphemous that they ought to be challenged and yes, sometimes banned. The French Revolution was the ultimate object lesson on the aphorism “ideas have consequences”: the evil, humanist ideas of the Enlightenment led to deadly consequences." How's that for historical revisionism? Carmon urges her readers to celebrate Official Discernment Week instead. Here's another snippet: "Even as we rejoice in the increasing quantity and availability of Christian reading matter, we must be vigilant to ensure that we teach our children to obey and honor God, and protect their impressionable minds from pervasive and perverse influences. Threats to their spiritual well-being exist in many quarters, even public libraries, on public television and yes, even on Fox News." Fox News: corrupter of our youth. I like this woman. Not. Next up: How many is too many? D.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Lame Reasons to Have Sex #1

Karen: Not tonight. Me: I hope your conscience doesn't bother you too much, what with the shrinking rainforests and all. Karen: Huh? Me: Well, you're wasting perfectly good wood. Heh heh. I just thought that one up. Karen: I figured. D.

So you want to be a Prairie Muffin . . .

Modern world got you down? Tired of having to shelter your daughters from media images of harlots like Hillary Clinton, or unfeminine hippy rebels like Cindy Sheehan? Thinking how nice it would be go back in time to the early 1800s, a time before abortion, birth control, and pornography were the scourge of a good, decent, Godfearing woman like yourself? Not to fear, milady. Submit to the will of a manly Godfearing man NOW. Become a Prairie Muffin. What's a Prairie Muffin? You'll be hard pressed to find a definition on their website, so let me help you out. Here's a crash course in becoming a Praying Muff. Um, Prairie Muffin. Step 1. Do not lose your sense of humor. On the Muffin site, you'll find nuggets like this: Note: It was decided in a hotly-contested election, that the husbands of Prairie Muffins would henceforth be known as "Prairie Dawgs." An official Prairie Dawg greeting was also proposed. Single women aspiring to be Prairie Muffins will be known as "Muffin Mixes" and young children of Prairie Muffins are "Mini Muffins." Thus, lesson one is, you are not a woman. You're not even a Prairie Muffin yet. You, my dear, are a muffin mix, eagerly awaiting a man to leaven your fertile, ah, flour and sugar mixture. Step 2. Study and commit to heart the Prairie Muffin Manifesto. Since the Manifesto has 39 steps, I'll simplify it for you. Here are some of the bitter pills, erm, blessings of the Lord you'll have to swallow. In case you were wondering about your proper place in your all new Muffin-friendly home, 11) Prairie Muffins own aprons and they know how to use them. Just so you know it's not all about tater tot casseroles and Scrambled Egg Surprise, 9) Prairie Muffins do not reflect badly on their husbands by neglecting their appearance; they work with the clay God has given, molding it into an attractive package for the pleasure of their husbands. You need never trouble your head again with unpleasant thoughts: 18) Prairie Muffins are fiercely submissive to God and to their husbands. "You will be my master, hubs, or I'll beat you to a bloody pulp!" Now that you have your priorities straight, Step 3. Get ready to spread your legs and keep 'em spread. From the Manifesto, 3) Prairie Muffins are aware that God is in control of their ability to conceive and bear children, and they are content to allow Him to bless them as He chooses in this area. Translation: get used to this . . . cuz families of 10 to 15 children or more are not unusual. This, by the way, is a core Muffin belief: God meant you to have as many children as your womb can possibly bear. Hope you like morning sickness. Here's some Muffin reassurance for you from QuiverFull contributor Elizabeth, "mother of ten": "Yes, my children all know that I highly prize each one of them, and they know that I would welcome as many more as God would choose to give me. I am also honest enough to tell them that I have never been too crazy about being pregnant. However, I sure am crazy about those sweet little babies when they finally arrive." Yup, she sure is. I'll save the shining star of the Prairie Muffin movement, the Duggar Family -- fourteen children, one more on the way -- for some other day. For now, you had better . . . Step 4: Get used to the world's fugliest dresses. Nuff said. Finally, Step 5: Never take your eyes off the prize. Back to El Manifesto: 2) Prairie Muffins are helpmeets to their husbands, seeking creative and practical ways to further their husbands' callings and aid them in their dominion responsibilities. 'Dominion' is a code word for Dominionism. Read what Wikipedia has to say about Dominionism, or be content with my nutshell definition: Reactionary evangelical Christian philosophy that encourages adherents to impose their moral code on the rest of us. You know, like Alberto Gonzalez going after pornographers. That sort of thing.
Yes, I know I've been ignoring the guys out there. I don't know about you, but this Muffin movement creeps me out. Maybe some guys like their women all covered in flour from 9 to 5 and screaming for fertilization from 6 to 8, practicing their sperm-retaining yoga a la Julianne Moore in The Big Lebowski, quilting and crafting and diapering and shit, but as for me, I like a woman with teeth. Tomorrow: Reading the Muffin Way. D.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

A Birthday Wish List: Part 3

This is it, folks. The home stretch. Soon, you will be privy to my most intimate hopes and dreams. It's still not too late to click over to Boing Boing, where you can treat your eyes to Flying Spaghetti Monsterotica. Hey, there's a reason why Boing Boing is number one: they give you guys just what you want to see. In this case, a naked woman (I think) clothed only in Saran Wrap and spaghetti. On the other hand, all I have to offer is the warped Woody Allen-meets-John Waters schtick that runs through my head. Here ya go. #4: I want my body back! A couple years ago, I decided that a man really ought to be able to see his penis when he goes pee. Is that so much to ask? At the urging of a doctor-friend, I plunged into the Atkin's induction diet and discovered the wonders of bacon, eggs, cheese, and more bacon, with a few more eggs for good measure. The weight came off, I had to buy a new wardrobe, but I still felt crappy. I had no energy. I felt like I had Crisco for blood. When I tried a more reasonable diet (South Beach), the weight came back, a pound a day. I realized there was nothing for it: I needed to add some carbs back to my diet, but the only way I could do that was to exercise. I used to laugh at my hospital colleagues whenever they'd been injured biking or doing something else vaguely athletic. "No one ever broke or sprained anything sitting on their couch," I'd say. That's how much I hated exercise -- I made lame jokes to excuse my torpor. But a year ago, desperate to feel like a normal human being again, I joined a gym. I surprised myself by sticking with it. And, you know, I found out something surprising: I'm a mesomorph. I put on muscle with relative ease. I began to look pretty damned buff. Then, about a month ago, my gym closed. Just for a few days, the manager said. We have to bring the plumbing up to code. Four weeks later, they're still closed. And now, damn it, I can't pass the pinch test. What I dream of: Looking like this again. What I'll be satisfied with: Avoiding a return to my fat clothes' drawer. #3: I am such a whore for brains, beauty, and fame. It's true. If a woman has all three, I'm lost. There was a time, a very brief time, oh, for maybe a few months after I saw Beetlejuice, when Winona Ryder did it for me. The fact that she was tribe, well, that only added spice (Winona Laura Horowitz -- you figure it out). But then she got all klepto for Dolce & Gabbana black leather purses and Gucci dresses, and, you know, I've never looked at her the same way. (Click the link to find out what else Winona had in her trench coat!) I mean, she might be able to play smart women for the movies, but how smart is she really? Y'all know about my jones for Olivia Hussey and Jacqueline Kim, but honestly, I don't know much about either woman. Not in the brains department, anyway. On the other hand, 10,000 Maniacs' Natalie Merchant has it all, and damned if she doesn't choke me up whenever I see her on TV. Now, if only she would jam with Trent Reznor, I'd be in heaven. Ah, well. I can only pick one perfect dame for this particular birthday wish, so I'm gonna choose Cintra Wilson. If any of you aren't familiar with Ms. Wilson, you might begin by checking out Bookslut's interview with her. Karen and I own both of Ms. Wilson's books, and we read her weekly column in the Bay Area's Freep, The Wave. (Note: to read Cintra's column, The Dregulator, online, you'll need to download the pdf -- see link in upper lefthand corner of The Wave's home page. It's worth it. You'll get to see Cintra's newest photo, Cintra in dark lipstick, gggrrrahghglllrlll.) Not only is she beautiful, but she looks like a different beautiful woman in every photo she takes. Don't you see? She's a one-woman harem! And oooh, is she ever smart. I especially loved her snark on the Bush Campaign in the last election, saying that Bush's only plank was "the strengthiness of strengthy strength." Arguably, Cintra's master work is her collection of essays (A Massive Swelling: Celebrity Re-examined as a Grotesque Crippling Disease, and other cultural revelations). Here's a quote from her rant on Los Angeles, which is sort of a latter day nonfiction version of what Nathanael West had percolating in his brain when he wrote The Day of the Locust: "L.A. is the place where Satan squats with an enormous ladle and dips deeply into his black cavity to extract huge soiled wads of cash, which he then pitches at the heads of the inhabitants below with such speed and force that they are rendered first unconscious, then punchy and depressed. This affliction causes them to overfeed the Dark Lord a-more with their incessant compromises in the workplace, and He devours and digests their creepy and self-negating decisions by day, and befouls them anew with the sooty issue of their moral failures each evening." Karen and I chortled when, in the middle of Terminator II, the Wrath of Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton's character dreamed of a Los Angeles devastated by nuclear holocaust. (And, yeah, a lot of folks in the theater just sorta stared at us.) So you know where we stand with respect to Cintra Wilson's take on L.A. (Hmm. I wonder, though, if there's a neutron bomb which would leave Sahag's Basturma Sandwich Shop and all the great Chinese restaurants and sushi bars untouched.) What I dream of: An evening of dinner, dancing, and sparkling conversation with Ms. Wilson. We have one of those nights where we are both on, you know what I mean? We play off each other, our comic riffs building to feverishly trenchant heights. Afterwards, she touches me on the hand -- a light touch, but a lingering one -- and says, "Call me, any time," and with her lusciously dark mouth gives me a chaste but emotion-packed kiss full on the lips. What I'll be satisfied with: I bought Karen some Max Factor "Black Cherry Truffle" lipstick. I have a well developed imagination. #2: A night of male bonding. Just so you know I'm not a total cooch hound, there are some guys out there I'd like to know better. I suspect Dr. Otter is a great guy, and probably has a few stories to tell, and if DHH doesn't want me, I might as well experience things vicariously through Doc Ott. I'm also intrigued by guys that seem quick-witted and brainy, like MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, and it would be a blast if I could pal around with some of my favorite directors, like John Carpenter, Sam Raimi, Tim Burton, or David Cronenberg. But if I had to pick one all-around great guy to bar-hop with, it would have to be Bruce Campbell. I know him and love him from the Evil Dead movies, especially Army of Darkness, but Bruce has also had great bit rolls (from The Hudsucker Proxy to both Spiderman movies) and, hey, I happened to like him as an obese, elderly Elvis in Bubba Ho-tep. But there are two things you need to know about Bruce: he answers emails from his fans, and he has a heckuva writer's brain, too. We've bought both of Bruce Campbell's books, Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way and If Chins Could Kill. The first is sort of a blustering guy version of Carrie Fisher's Postcards from the Edge, in style, if not in content. The second is Bruce's memoir. Karen and I just got it from Barnes & Noble, and it's a fine read. What I dream of: Carousing Hollywood with Bruce Campbell, getting only drunk enough to enjoy myself, but not so drunk that I can't remember every moment until I'm too old to care. What I'll be satisfied with: Watching Army of Darkness for the umpteenth time. And . . . drumroll . . . my number one birthday wish (you knew it had to be about sex, didn't you?) . . . #1: An evening of exquisite torment at the hands (and whips) of Lydia McLane. She's bad. She's beautiful. Performance artist and model Lydia McLane has been my wicked dreamgirl ever since her centerfold for City Slab (Volume 1, Issue 4: buy it!), wherein she wore nothing but a pair of devilish horns. Subscribe to The Slab and you'll be treated with loads of Lydia, frequently in nasty vicious mean dominatrix garb, and not much of it. (By the way: those of you who follow my Tangent Reviews know I loves my City Slab. Urban horror at its finest.) Lest you think I'm some sort of shallow, testosterone-hypercharged vehicle for balls, I'll have you know that Lydia is one smart cookie. From her website bio: "Lydia is currently a student working towards her Masters of Clinical Psychology and is employed part-time with an agency that specializes in chronically mentally ill individuals. She is a trained Hospice volunteer. Lydia enjoys literature, Opera, all animals, live music, dancing, and other life enriching activities." See? She likes chronically mentally ill individuals and all animals. Lydia, I'm yours. What I dream of: Lydia, make me your bitch! What I'll be satisfied with: How do you like the new outfit I bought Karen? Don't forget the spiked heels, Karen. D.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A Birthday Wish List: Part 2

#7: A wish-fulfillment fantasy. Sometimes, bad things happen to bad people, and the spirit of Schadenfreude takes hold. Like the feeling you get when that jerk in the Trans Am who cut you off three minutes ago gets pulled over for speeding, you know? When we were kids, my brother and sister had this odd habit. If my brother got punished, my sister would rub her hand over her breastbone and say, "Aaaaaah." She pronounced it with a guttural flare, as if the sound came from deep within her viscera. If my sister got punished, my brother would return the favor. Since I had a cast iron ass, they got little satisfaction in seeing me punished, and any "Aaaahing" from them would be met by my laughter. It seems to me that as adults, we get to say "Aaaaaah" far too infrequently. What better birthday present could there be than to see a rich and powerful hypocrite brought low? What I dream of: George Bush caught on tape telling us what he really thinks about the displaced poor of New Orleans. Pat Robertson indicted on child pornography charges. One day, at a press conference, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan says, "You know, folks? This is all bullshit -- I mean, I could tell you stories that would knock your socks off. Aw, hell. No time like the present." Rush Limbaugh . . . wait. He's already shot himself in the foot so many times, what else could happen to the guy? What I'll be satisfied with: Photoshopping rude images of Ann Coulter. #6: The perfect father for just one day. Remember the sitcoms of the 1960s? In Father Knows Best, Jim Anderson was, like a modern day Odysseus, never at a loss. No matter what you threw at the guy, he handled it with sensitivity and style. Princess having boy trouble with those creeps from the local frat? Jim would bust a cap in their ass and dance a jig on their graves. Kitten having menstrual cramps? Jim would give her a few tokes from his pipe and teach her the secrets of Far Eastern meditation. Bud busted for having the neighborhood's first methamphetamine lab? Jim would post bail and buy his son a trampoline so that the boy can channel his energy more constructively. I want to be that kind of dad, if only for a day. You know. The kind that never raises his voice, solves every problem, and finds himself at the center of every group hug. What I dream of: A day wherein I'm the perfect father to my son. What I'll be satisfied with: Not raising my voice above 80 decibels, and not making the kid cry. #5: The great discovery! As a kid, I used to fantasize about black ops agents coming to my school and spiriting me away from my classmates. "You're far too important to our nation's security to waste your time here," one would say. Then the other would chime in: "We need a four-foot-tall boy genius to man our special space ship. This craft will make you the master of space and time. Do you think you can handle it?" And I'd think: Can I handle it? Fuck yeah! Only I wouldn't have used the F-bomb back in elementary school. I'd heard it once or twice, soon learned it wasn't in the dictionary, and was the only word guaranteed to put my mother in shock. Oddly enough, the word "frig" seemed to have the same effect, even though I was certain I'd made it up. Guess not. Nowadays, I don't particularly care to be the master of all time and space. As I learned in high school from watching the movie Laserblast, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I'm already a corrupt son of a bitch. No, I'd be content if someone else discovered me. What I dream of: Some big agent, say Neil Gaiman's agent Merrilee Heifetz, finds my blog and sends me an email dripping with praise and wishful solicitations. Then comes The Phone Call (cue Scarlet O'Hara's vocal inflections): "Oh, Dr. Hoffman, Ah am evah so hopeful that you are unrepresented, because it would be mah honah and privilege to be your agent." Don't know if Ms. Heifetz has a Southern accent -- actually, I kind of doubt it -- but that's part of the fantasy. I'm sure she'd oblige. What I'll be satisfied with: Getting my damned sitemeter to top 100 for the day. Where the hell do you people go on the weekend? Don't tell me you have lives. Gimme Part 3! D.

Friday, September 23, 2005

A Birthday Wish List: Part 1

Whenever my birthday draws near, I get contemplative. I like to think about what I've done with my life and what I still want to do. At the risk of being a downer, what if this next year is my last? What can I do in the next few months that will make my life more complete -- or, for that matter, make a difference in the lives of the folks around me? In some respects, this comes down to a list of wishes and unfulfilled dreams. While I believe we should all strive to fulfill our dreams, I'm also a realist. Sometimes our dreams are self-destructive or hurtful to the ones we love. Sometimes they're damned expensive. Thus, we must temper our dreams with a dose of good old-fashioned common sense and practicality. It is in this spirit that I tender for your consideration the first installment of my 44th Birthday Wish List. #10: A Good Massage. I hope you're paying attention, Michelle, cuz I bet you give a damned good massage. And, no, I am not talking about 'sensual massage.' Once, when we were visiting Karen's parents in Los Altos, I went to a local masseuse whose name I pulled from a phone book. I'm a shiatsu fan, so I picked a Japanese name out of The Book and crossed my fingers. So, what do I get? Some old gal whose idea of massage is running her fingernails up and down the insides of my thighs. I wanted to tell her, Lady, if you're trying to give me wood, get your granddaughter in here to take over, 'kay? Instead, I suffered in silence and payed my $$, because I'm still self-hating enough to figure a woman deserves that kind of money just for touching my naked body. As for my wife, any day now I expect her to kill me for the insurance money. And you know? She'll deserve it, too. What I dream of: a half hour in a hot tub followed by a skillful two hour massage. What I'll be satisfied with: if I rub my back with chicken fat, our cats will walk all over me and give me a good licking.
#9: Dinner at Hoppe's. Picture this: it's 1996. Jake is eight months old and he has already hit the terrible twos. I've just finished my remedial year *cough cough* my year as faculty at USC, and I have some down time before San Antonio expects me to show up and, um, be a doctor or something. Karen and I decide to have one last fling on the California Coast (thank heavens we were wrong about that!) so we drive up north with our screaming, why can't you understand I am the alpha and the omega, eight-month-old son. We have clams and lobster at a superb seafood joint on the Ventura Pier -- which, sadly, has since washed away -- and great grub at The Palace Cafe in Santa Barbara. Onward up the coast, until at last we come to Cambria, Morro Bay, and Cayucos. We have a price fixe dinner at Hoppe's in Morro Bay. Jake is in fine form; the only thing that will quiet him is constant stroller-strolling. Karen and I take turns eating and pram-pushing, and we both manage to eat a dinner that's not quite hot and not quite cold. Guess what? Even given those less than ideal circumstances, we agree to this day that our dinner at Hoppe's was the best eats we've ever had, ever. Perfect food, from the salad to the vegetable garnish. What I dream of: a quiet, romantic dinner with Karen at Hoppe's. Jake can eat a burrito. What I'll be satisfied with: we had not-half-bad sushi tonight at the NWTEC Internet Cafe.
#8: The best birthday cake in the whole, wide world. Which requires, natch, a Tahitian virgin. What I'll be satisfied with: a forkful of Bailey's Irish Cream cheesecake from the NWTEC Internet Cafe. Gimme Part 2! D.

Message from the Surgeon General

Excerpt from an email I received on 9/20: The Department of Health and Human Services deployed over 1,200 members of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, our largest single deployment since the Korean War. We also issued a call for non-uniformed services individuals like you to help with the massive health and medical services relief effort. More than 34,000 Americans responded to assist in this disaster relief effort. Our response to the storm has changed as the needs of those effected have changed. Local communities throughout the United States are supporting evacuees. Those communities, their state governments, and the private sector are now better able to address their [sic]. The requests for assistance are declining in number and urgency, though we expect a continuing need in some communities for relief and respite of those currently providing services and the high number of persons being cared for. We have deployed more than 150 "unpaid, temporary federal employees" at the request of state and local health departments; and, we will send more. But, at this stage of the response, we believe that the extremely high demand for additional personnel that we originally anticipated will not occur. While we will certainly call on a number of you to help in the response, we believe those numbers will now be in the hundreds rather than the thousands. (emphasis mine) Summary: Don't call us, we'll call you.
Three thoughts. (1) "Those communities, their state governments, and the private sector are now better able to address their [sic]." Is this truth or politics? (2) With Rita on its way and another two months of hurricane season still to go, I'm thinking the surge genrul's email might be a bit premature. (3) Kinda cool that 34,000 folks from the health care community offered to volunteer. I'm not sure how this totes up on a percentage basis, but I'm glad to see the number is in the tens of thousands rather than the thousands or hundreds. On the other hand, when I submitted my info at the Feds' HHS website, I was the first otolaryngologist to sign up. That makes me wonder what fraction of those 34,000 were MDs or DOs.
Back to my hurricane fears. Especially scary: the high temperature waters of the Caribbean. (This links to a cute jpeg from NOAA.) Hurricanes draw their power from an ocean or gulf's warm surface temperatures. In the Caribbean, current temperatures are toasty -- if not at a record high, then close to it. If a hurricane arises in the southern Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean, it'll be a whopper. Maybe it'll smack into Mexico; maybe not. D.

How weird is this?

Thanks to Rae for giving me this sugar load for the morning. Strange thing is (as Debi and Maureen know, but I'm not sure about the rest of y'all), my novel is all about oversized, too-intelligent-for-their-own-good parakeets. With, um, arms and hands instead of wings. Anyway . . .
You Are A: Parakeet!

parakeetThis popular bird is kept as a pet in homes all over the world. Originating from Australia, parakeets like warm weather and lots of seeds and fruit. They are also known for being messy and quite loud! But you cannot look at one without falling in love.

You were almost a: Monkey or a Kitten
You are least like a: Turtle or a DucklingTake the Cute Animal Test!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Guess that character

Who Am I?
Thanks to my powerful daddy, I found me a cushy spot in the American National Guard. Before long, I held a position of considerable rank and authority. Many fine young soldiers depended upon me for their lives. They died, but that wasn't my fault. Nothing is ever my fault. Hard liquor and me, we go way back. Some folks think you can't find courage in a bottle, but I say, courage is as courage does. One man's cowardice is another man's good judgment. Besides, a stiff drink never hurt no one. Thing is, you can't get yourself excited, and you can't go losing your head while others about you are losing theirs. All I ever wanted was to make Daddy proud. Make him see what a man I was. In the end, I'll show him. One way or another, I'll show him.
Give up?
Props to The News Blog for mentioning the movie Attack! a few days ago. Karen and I were sufficiently intrigued by the premise that we bought the DVD from Barnes & Noble. Here's the scoop. Eddie Albert plays the villain, Captain Erskine Cooney. Towards the end of WWII, Cooney is given command of a National Guard Infantry Company. He receives this command because he's good at sucking up to positions in authority -- networking in as sleazy a manner as possible -- and his father is a judge. Lieutenant Costa (Jack Palance) sees Cooney for what he is, a coward unfit for command. Through his cowardice, Cooney gets a squad killed. Costa vows revenge if Cooney ever screws up like that again. I think you can guess the rest. Attack! (1956) has a modern sensibility. The film openly condones the idea of killing a commanding officer who is a danger to the soldiers under his command. The ending has a touch of the moralistic, but there's also a strong (and cynical) hint of politics-as-usual. Despite a strong cast (featuring not just Albert and Palance, but Lee Marvin, Richard Jaeckel, and Buddy Ebsen), it was a low budget film and lacked the usual Hollywood sensibilities as regards rah-rah WWII war movies. According to IMDB, the US military wanted nothing to do with the film and did nothing to lend support. Congressman Melvin Price criticized the military, labeling their disinterest "a shameful attempt at censorship." The filmmakers capitalized on this, plastering their movie posters with, "Is this the most controversial picture of the year?" They grossed $2 million -- not a bad haul. You won't find this one at Blockbuster, and I doubt you'll ever see it on TV. Netflix has it. Rent it. You'll be treated with top notch performances from Eddie Albert, Jack Palance, and Lee Marvin. And the sleeper hero of this pic is one William Smithers. No, not Mr. Burns' sycophantic employee. (Remember Captain Merick on the old Star Trek? The episode about ancient Rome? Kirk and Spock as gladiators? Am I the only science fiction geek left on this blog?) D.

What's your perversion?

Know what's really weird? Karen and I have the exact same perversion:
You sick bastard....but it's soooo good.

What's your sexual perversion?
Created by ptocheia D.

Another student's dream

I've written before about the student's dream and my bizarre versions of same. Here's last night's version, which my subconscious felt compelled to return to, over and over again: I'm back in residency training and it's July 1st*. Even though I am a higher level resident, the medical students, interns, and junior residents are off doing orientation bullcrap, which leaves me to round on a new service. Knowing I have four patients on the ward, I allot myself 30 minutes to familiarize myself with their charts and bring myself up to date on how they've been doing over the past twelve hours. That 30 minutes evaporates, and suddenly my attending physician (the boss) is right there at my side, wanting to round. Fortunately, the dream takes a fantastic turn. As we come to each patient's bedside, I vaporize said patient with my fire breath spell. "My God," sez the boss. "Is that how you treat your patients in real life?" D. *Why is this important, you ask? You would do better to ask, why should I never never never show up in the emergency room of a teaching hospital on July 1st? Because that's when all the newbies come on board. Shiver.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Why I need to read Monica Jackson's blog more often

Okay, I'm a day late with this one. Sue me. Check out Monica's Creative Ho Linkage. Cooch paintings, 'pop star or porn star', and more. On 'pop star or porn star', I scored 90%. See if you can beat me. D.

Adventures in story space

Hands up, people: who out there understands Hilbert space? Karen, if you wave your arm any more vigorously it's going to fall out of its socket. Good heavens, you're not in high school anymore. Show some dignity. For the rest of you (other than my quantum mechanically ept* wife), Hilbert space is a mathematical concept which has great utility in quantum mechanics. Here's the relevant bit from Wikipedia:
In quantum mechanics for example, a physical system is described by a complex Hilbert space which contains the "wavefunctions" that stand for the possible states of the system.
There. Doesn't that help? Let me bring this down to earth before I lose every last one of you. I believe there is a theoretical story space which is a fictional analog to Hilbert space. In other words, there's a 'space' out there where all stories exist side by side. Mathematically, the story space S is defined thus
I'm kidding, okay? Anyway, that's how I see storytelling. As writers, our job is to snatch stories from story space and get 'em down in print. Everything is out there, everything ever written, plus an infinite number of variations on stuff that has been written (and is being written, and will be written). Let me ask an easier question: any Jorge Luis Borges fans out there? (At the very least, Gabriele should be waving her hand.) Do you remember his story, "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote"? Here's a quick reminder from enotes:
In the form of a scholarly article, it tells of one Pierre Menard, a French symbolist recently deceased, who had undertaken the absurd task of rewriting Cervantes' Don Quixote as a product of his own creativity.
This story -- as well as a few others in Borges' stable -- convinced me that Borges believed in story space. Pierre Menard didn't want to write just any Don Quixote; he wanted to write THE Don Quixote, word for word. Imagine picking up a grain of sand, then tossing it down again, not just on any beach but on any random beach in the world. Picking out that same grain of sand is considerably more likely than accomplishing Menard's task. What's the point? Well, we're not plucking just any story out of story space. We want the good ones, the ones that are entertaining, that perhaps bear a kernel of truth, that convince us we're a little bit better for having read it. But -- and here's the real point -- near every good story, there exists an infinite number of close cousins, some of whom are even better. The trick, I think, is to never lose sight of this fact. To use "A Pirate's Dilemma" as a silly example, I could have made Jack Sparrow the villainous British agent. Instead, I chose to leave Jack as a red herring** and put Hugh Grant in there instead. I did that because I thought it would be funnier, but I know, I have complete faith, that I might have pulled something even better out of idea space. I don't know . . . it boggles the mind what I might have done with Margaret Thatcher in that role. To continue with the sand analogy, I look at storytelling much as I look at beachcombing. I don't pick up every interesting piece of flotsam I find on the shoreline, only the ones which appeal to my own peculiar sense of aesthetics. That's the original story idea, but it doesn't have to stop there. With my imagination, I can picture a stone, a shell, a bit of bone that's even cooler than the one in my hands. Folks with far more publication experience than I have pointed out that you eventually have to stop editing and call it a story. Otherwise, you risk spending your life wandering the beach, picking up one piece of crap, tossing away another, perennially dissatisfied. Even still, sometimes it's fun to take that 'finished' piece of driftwood and wonder how it might be different. Better.
D. *You know -- the opposite of inept. **For you folks who aren't crime novel buffs, a "red herring" is a distractor, something to divert the protagonist's attention from the truth.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The things I'll do fer love

A Pirate's Dilemma: Part the Last This here tale be poorly suited for young 'uns and Puritans. Ye've been warned! The beauties hoisted yer ill-fated Cap'n upstairs like a sack o' bullion. I could scarcely credit me fortune, but me self-congratulations were a mite premature. And that warn't the only thing premature. When they dunked me in a claw-footed tub o' suds and washed me proper, I made a right fool o' meself, I did. "Damnation," said I. "I suppose that's what ye get fer years of abstinence." Arumba, the Nubian, pressed some vile grog to me lips and bid me drink. "For strength, Cap'n. We have plans for you." That they did, I tell ye. Once that bitter brew passed, I swooned, and felt meself borne up again by their fine strong arms. And then I felt no more. When I came to, Maria of Cordoba and Mai Poon, me Cathay princess, were ministering to me rusty equipment. Oui Oui the Parisian was doing unspeakable things to me teak leg, and Arumba was pressing her ample bosom to me parched lips. Me head swam like some dark leviathan twenty-thousand leagues deep, yet I had the sense of others in the room, scurrying to and fro like hungry bilge rats. Above me moans, I heard Stella's voice. "Where is it?" And another voice, a masculine voice, but not terribly so. "Damn it, woman, search again." Blast! I knew that voice. One of Her Majesty's finest, an agent of the Crown. And a right ponce, too. I recalled that this one had a long history of consorting with beauties of the evening. It all made sense. The malt vinegar bottles on the tables downstairs weren't for feminine hygeine -- they were for fish and chips. And the ferns and calla lilies weren't for me rival, Jack Sparrow. Oh, no, me bucko. The Jolliest Roger had taken to servicing Her Majesty's fleet. "Infernal limeys!" I cried, but with Arumba's plump endowments in me face, it came out, "Mm, mmphms!" I struggled to rise, but the double-dealing vixens had bound me hands and foot. "Step aside, ladies," said that infernal Britisher, Randall Richards. I felt a cold draft of air on me nether regions as me beauties shoved off me rudder. "Ye have me at a disadvantage, Randy Dick." "Indeed," said the fop. "I would know where you keep the key to your lockbox, Captain Wood." "Ye'll get it over me dead body, ye limey bastard." He gave me a waggish smile. "Have it your way. Stella? Waterboard him." Waterboard? I count meself a student of the torturing arts, yet I had not heard such a thing. But me ignorance would soon be cured. Stella hove into view, that great glorious mountain of flesh I'd once called me own true love. "Nothing personal, Cap'n. It's just business." Buck naked, she straddled me face. "One more time," said Randy Dick. "You have stolen bullion from Her Majesty's Ship The Drake. We've searched your ship, and haven't found the bullion or the key to your lockbox. That leaves only one conclusion. Stella? Sit." The mistress of the Jolliest Roger settled herself, sealing off me grizzled mouth and nose with her plenteous booty. I struggled for air, all in vain. When I thought meself a goner, she stood. "Well, Captain?" said Dick. I gasped, coughed, spat. "Is that the best ye can do? That be heavenly." Randy Dick stroked his hairless chin, pondering me fate. "A hard case, this one," he said. "Let's try some softer torments, shall we?" "Oui Oui," said Stella. "Give him The Special." The Special. Something about the way she said those words shivered me timbers. But I found little to fear, at least at first. Oui Oui gave me rudder the Parisian treatment, as it were, and I figgered I could stand such torture for a year or more before I'd crack. I spent me load of shot, but Oui Oui kept going. "Damn it girl, stop!" said I. "I ain't yer personal mess hall!" "Oui Oui can suck the rind off a watermelon, Cap'n," said Stella. "I beg you to reconsider before you lose your last coat of varnish." True enough, the pleasures of Paradise had given way to an infernal ache. What a way to meet me maker! "Enough," I cried. "Ye've unmanned me, ye dastardly succubus." "You may stop, Oui Oui," said Randy Dick. "Where's the key, Captain." "Ye'll have to look where the sun don't shine." And that be me story, mates. I lost The Drake's hoard to these scurvy scoundrels, but at least I got them to do what no beauty had never done before. Arrr, not even Mrs. Morning Wood.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Shenanigans at the Jolliest Roger

A Pirate's Dilemma, Part the Second Old Stella had made some peculiar changes to the Roger, I tell ye true. I remember well a time when a seaman like yers truly could grab a pint of grog, settle into one of Stella's leather-backed chairs, and put his peg up on an oaken barrel. And a fine bar she stocked, arrrr. I tarried at the threshold. "Stella, what's become of the place? Where's me bar? Where's me fine old leather chairs, and barrel to rest me peg a spell?" "Times have changed, Cap'n. See that hunk of brass? That's an espresso machine. Now I can steam milk like the pros --" "You always steamed my milk like a pro, Stella dear." "Kind of you to say, Cap'n. My new clientele likes lots of glass and stainless steel --" "Avast! What be those plants on the tables, and hanging off yer beams?" "Calla lilies, Cap'n. And those be ferns." "Stella, Stella. What sort of godfersaken house of ill repute are you runnin' these days? And what be that on the table -- malt vinegar? Stella, I like me lasses to smell like lasses --" But I had no chance to finish, for at that very moment the beauties appeared, floatin' down the stairs like visions of Earthly delight. Frenchies and Spaniards, jade-bedecked vixens from Cathay and the finest Nubian princesses. "Oooh la la, it's Captain Morning Wood!" cried one, and "Can I sit on your lap?" cried 'tother, and "May I please polish your peg leg?" cried a third. They surrounded yer blighted hero and whisked me to a table. While Stella plied me with her finest rum (she'd saved me a pint, bless her heart), they begged me fer stories of courage and adventure on the high seas. But before long, I came to know their darker purpose. "Cap'n," said the Nubian, a fine lass with a high breast, two of them in fact, "is it true you shipped with the legendary Jack Sparrow?" "Oooh!" the others did cry out in their feminine ecstacies. "You knew Jack Sparrow? What's he like? Tell me, tell me please!" "Ay, 'tis true," I said most mournfully. "I knew Jack Sparrow. I shipped with the Perrier-drinkin' scoundrel." Aye. At last it made sense: the cafe lattes, the calla lilies, the ferns. Jack Sparrow -- that bilge-sucking, eyeliner-bogarting blaggard -- Jack Sparrow had come to town and fouled me beloved Jolliest Roger. "Jack Sparrow is not the man ye think he is," I said to a chorus of soulful moans. "One fact I'll give ye, one fact to prove that Jack Sparrow is a right poor excuse for a pirate. Here 'tis: that craven swab don't even know his alphabet like a rum seadog." "Huh?" said me gorgeous beauty from Cathay. "I tell ye true, Mai Poon, or Rita Cosby taint a man. Ol' Jack Sparrow, he confuses his M's for his Arrrs." "Como?" said Maria of Cordoba. "Si, si, Maria. One day we made to board one of Her Majesty's privateers. 'Look ye, Jack Sparrow,' I said. 'Have ye ever seen a stouter mizzenmast?' 'Mmmm,' he replied. Mark ye! A yummy Mmmm, not a right manly Arrrr." I gazed upon a sea of beautiful but sadly blank faces, I did. "That poxy hunk of shark bait wasn't looking at the mizzenmast, ye sex-addled dames. He was looking at me bosun's rudder! And by rudder, understand I be speaking metaphorically." These flowers of femininity met me revelation with general consternation. I began to fear me willy would stay dry for another long turn at sea, but then Stella arrived, bless her soul. "Girls, girls! The Cap'n isn't here for your pleasure." Stella's lasses needed no more encouragement. With a great whoop, they spirited me onto their fine, soft shoulders, and hauled me bodily upstairs to their den of exotic pleasures. "Fair winds!" cried me good hostess Stella. "And, girls, don't forget. The Cap'n has been at sea a very long time. Before you get intimate, you had better swab his poop deck!" To be continued.

Here be yer pirate romance. Arrr.

In honor of International Talk Like A Pirate Day
A Pirates Dilemma, Part the First Taint easy being grizzled as a cockswain's dungbie, I tell ye, and me with a leg o' teak from the knee down. The eye patch don't help at all, neither. Of late, it seems I can only wet me beak in the back end of a cackle, or in the bunghole of a portside beauty with fewer eyes than me. Imagine me surprise, mates, when I stirred meself one morning and found not one but two beauties casting hopeful eyes on me sorely underused mizzenmast. But I be gettin' ahead of meself. Name is Wood, me friends. They calls me Morning Wood, on account o' I rise before the cock crows and I be barking orders before the sun peeps out her shiny eye. We'd just taken a fine haul, having scuttled Her Majesty's ship The Drake off the Ivory Coast, and I was of a mind to give me men some much needed shore leave. And, truth be told, I longed for a fine young maiden of indiscriminate tastes to shiver me timbers right well. We put anchor at the Port of Sassandra. So many bronze beauties lined up at the docks, I figured I had to be in Davy's grip to be this close to Paradise. Old Stella herself met me at The Blinkered Eye -- that be right, Stella of the Ivory Coast's most famous house o' ill repute, The Jolliest Roger. Stella had so many rolls of flesh, twas said she could satisfy the whole Spanish Armada with nary a risk to her honor. "Ahoy, Wood!" she cried. It tickles her fancy to talk like a pirate, it did. "Is that a hornpipe in your pocket, or do you be glad to see me?" Sadly, she ain't too good at it. "Darlin', how would you like a ride on the Cap'n's Fo'c's'le?" "That be a fine proposal, Wood, but I'll do you one better. I have me some new blood, I do, and I'd be honored if you'd inspect the merchandise." "Inspect the merchandise? What do you take me for, woman, a common water-clerk? I be here to find meself a good time --" Old Stella sighed. "I meant, how would you like to get laid? Really laid? Not just a roll in the hay with my pet sheep." I was as stunned as if I'd been clogged on the head by sodden oar. "You mean it, woman? A real dame, one of the human persuasion?" "Two X chromosomes and all, Cap'n." That one went over me head, but I liked the sound of it all the same. To be continued.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Your morning blast from the past

This is my favorite photo of me and Jake. We took it at my parents' fiftieth anniversary celebration in Las Vegas -- about six years ago, I think. Cute kid, eh? D.

It gets worse

If you came here expecting humor, don't waste your time. I'll try to be funny later.
Feeling happy and peppy this delightful Sunday morning? Please, read this diary from Daily Kos. Highlights:
1. I talked to FEMA reps, RC reps, State Health reps and the hospital folks and received the same "we don't need doctors or nurses to run clinics" (I've been placing medical teams) Today at the Red Cross shelter, the doctor I traveled with...Dr. Ken Levine, was STILL seeing patients that 'didn't need him' when I left at 7 p.m.
This is what bugs me. According to an email I received from the Feds, 33,000 docs have volunteered their services. There should be no shortage of medical care. What if we're being kept out of the area thanks to dumb-ass mismanagement? But, wait! There's more:
I have heard that a 'BOBCAT' is worth $1000/day paid by FEMA (us), flatbed trucks something like $500/day. Then it seems the contractors try to collect additional money from homeowners, many poor.
It doesn't surprise me that this disaster is bringing out the worst in human nature. Yes, I realize it's bringing out the best, too, but this is still heartbreaking. The author of this diary asks that you contact the national media. Americans in my crowd, let's take it one step further and contact our Representatives and Senators, too. I've posted links (to the right, at the top) that make it easier to send emails to these folks.
Another interesting peak at human nature: According to a recent Rasmussen poll, dubya's numbers have suffered thanks to his post-Katrina speech. Why?
The spending plan has not been well received by conservative voters--just 43% favor the huge federal commitment . . . while 37% are opposed.
Irony of ironies. Dubya's in trouble: when he proposes that we throw giga$$ into the NOLA rebuilding effort, he loses support from his base of conservative Republicans (who doubtless don't like the idea of that much money going to the poor) and fundamentalists (who reveled in NOLA's destruction, considering it an act of God, a latter day redux of Sodom and Gomorrah). If he does nothing, he loses the rest of America. Oh, those silly conservatives and fundamentalists. Chill, guys! Don't you realize dubya wants to funnel that money into Halliburton & friends? And he'll use the expense as an excuse for further social engineering in the form of cuts to evil programs (Medicaid, EPA, public education . . .) That's all for now, folks. D.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Passing notes

Before I get rolling, Karen has written about the Gretna, Louisiana atrocity-in-progress over at her blog. Now, on with our regularly scheduled blathering. We had a saying in residency: "You're either in this hospital working, or you're in here as a patient. Either way, you're here." Point being, no time off for illness. In five years of training, I only missed one day, and that only because I had food poisoning and couldn't bring a barf bag with me on rounds. Well, I suppose I could have, but the other residents frowned upon that degree of obsessive dedication. In any case, at L.A. County Hospital we functioned in a perennial state of "swamped". If you stayed home, someone else had to do your work, someone who already had too much work of his own. Now that I'm out of that zoo, I have no excuse for not taking better care of myself. Office patients can be rescheduled, ya know? But, no. I had to go into work, because . . . ah, who knows. I still eat fast, too, which made sense during residency (you never knew when the ER might call) but makes absolutely no adaptive sense nowadays. Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts & best wishes. I'm a little better today, but not much. I tend to get political on the weekend, which means I get depressed, too. For you non-Americans in my crowd: we're indoctrinated from kindergarten with a slew of nationalistic ideas. America is the greatest nation, and we're great because of the freedoms we enjoy, the freedoms our country symbolizes, the freedoms our military defends. You have to find out about the atrocities on your own: the genocide of Native Americans; My Lai; Andersonville (a Confederate POW camp); the LONG history of black oppression, from Day 1 to the present; the firebombing of Dresden. Robber barons of every generation raping the underclass. Iraq. New Orleans. There's so much evil out there now, I don't know where to start. If I were Christian, I could only conclude that Dubya is the Antichrist. Tell me I'm wrong.* But, hey. This is a humor blog (sometimes). So, for your pleasure, consider the following:
I have it on good authority that this image is a fake, a clever bit of photoshopping. However, there's a good deal of confusion as to what Dubya really wrote in that note. Thanks to close questioning of eyewitnesses, I have narrowed down the list of possibilities to the following. 1. I'm bored. Can I go home now? Wah! 2. Condi: there's the Colombian ambassador. Think you can score me some blow? 3. I never been in a room with so many nigras. Nothing personal, Condi. 4. How many of these here ambassadors are Republicans, anyway? 5. The Iranian ambassador keeps staring at me. He is so dead. So . . . have you folks heard of any other possibilities?
We're watching one of my all time favorite movies right now: Men in Black. Awesome script, great special effects, and every actor was on his/her game. Nothing sucks in this movie, not a single damned thing. Watching Vincent D'Onofrio's alien bug reminds me of something Karen showed me on Arachnopets yesterday: a series of photos and messages from a guy who lets centipedes crawl on his hands. Now, I know a lot of you are terrified of spiders, but I'm here to tell you that spiders ain't got nothing on centipedes. Centipedes are far more aggressive than most spiders, and their venom is WAY more painful. If you don't like creepy-crawlies, do not, repeat DO NOT view this link. I'm telling you, we're talking Major League Formication, got it? But those of you with creepy-crawly loving kids, you'll score points for coolness if you let them look at these photos. Have a great weekend, y'all, and thanks again for your kind thoughts. D. *Yeah, when I get published, I am definitely going to have to get me an apolitical blog. Addendum: I'm not the only one who thinks Bush is Eeeevil. This guy has written the book on the subject. For example: by several separate numerological systems, Bush's name adds up to 666. So there!

Friday, September 16, 2005

No Blogging Today

Karen's version: Doug has a note from his doctor excusing him from blogging today. He injured his index finger picking his nose and cannot type. (That's an ENT doctor joke, they're snot doctors.) Jake's version: He injured his pointing finger while sticking it up his butt. Doug's version: I pulled a muscle in my back while coughing. How the hell do you pull a muscle coughing? Well, he did it this morning. Jake claims he screamed like a girl. I unfortunately had to help him put his underwear on. Ewwww! Okay, that last bit was Jake again. Doug will never let us post again after this. WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Karen and Jake

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Sorry, fiends

I'm feeling even less scintillant today than yesterday. Except for 45 minutes at lunch, I've been on my feet from 8:30 AM to 7 PM. Late day today, thanks to a semi-emergency which required a trip to the OR. My life isn't usually this screwy. Now I have a two-aspirin-and-sledgehammer headache and the cold is squawking, "You ain't seen nothing yet." This (and Jon Stewart) reminds me of Intelligent Design. Stewart's counter-argument was the human scrotum. (Take the most sensitive organ in the male body, and hang it out there in harms way.) Mine would be viruses. What good has a virus ever done? Bacteria have a place on this planet -- they help break down the dead stuff. But viruses? They're effing parasites, man. Proof that if there is an intelligent designer, he's a sadist. I missed dubya's speech. Karen says it was excruciatingly boring, and she couldn't believe the way the talking heads were yapping afterwards how great it was. You know what that reminds me of? The Vice Presidential debate between Geraldine Ferraro and dubya's daddy. Karen and I thought Ms. Ferraro rocked, while georgie seemed like a milquetoast weenie. Everyone else in the room (my thesis advisor and a bunch of molecular biology post-docs) thought georgie won the debate. I firmly believe that one of the main things wrong with this country is the fact that Karen and I represent the fringe, rather than the mainstream. Here's what else happened today: I've already signed up with Louisiana DHH, but I've been conflicted over whether or not I should fax my information back to the Feds. FEMA is still running the Federal relief effort, and you can imagine how much confidence I have in FEMA. Finally, I punted to my lawyer. I sent him the documents and asked him if they looked kosher. I asked him why they wanted me to sign a loyalty oath (notarized, no less!) "You're not going to like this answer," he said. "Try me." "Our government is run by fascists." I knew there was a reason I liked this guy. Anyway, he looked things over, told me none of it looked horrendous and that I'd be safe sending it in. So now the Feds have me in their system, assuming they have their act together. That would be funny, except that it is so not funny. D.

Your morning linkage

Check out Rae Alexander's blog for a particularly creepy bird story. Yeesh. And I thought I had exaggerated their cruelty in my NiP. She also has some fine frog pix up, for you frog lovers. More later. D.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Dorm life

One of the things that sucks about my profession: I catch every cold that comes into the office. If I were a podiatrist, I'd do just fine, since no one ever became ill from close exposure to little kids' feet*. But, no. I have to look up their goopy little noses, which brings me within firing range of their snot rockets. Yesterday evening, I developed that vague ache in my soft palate which heralds a cold. Now my neck is stiff, my nose is twitchy, and my brain is all marshmallowy. This makes blogging difficult. You may lower your expectations . . . now. What should I write about? I came up with a not-t00-bad idea: "All I really need to know I learned watching Rocky Horror Picture Show." With that idea came a single joke: "Eat your Meat Loaf." Not bad, but not great, since it presupposes a knowledge of the movie. Even if I pony up an image of Meat Loaf, some folks are gonna say, "Huh?" Cuz if you haven't seen the movie, it just ain't funny. So: that line of blog reasoning came to a dead end. I decided to free associate. I saw RHPS in 1980, my second year in college and my first year in the dorms. Dorm life makes me think of:
  • Dale getting drunk and pissing in the hallway
  • Dale getting drunk and pissing off the balcony
  • Dale getting drunk and pissing everyone off
I'm sure you're wondering, "Who's Dale?" But, really, don't you know everything you need to know about him? Maybe I should do a piece entitled, "All I really need to know I learned in the dorms." I'm still making the assumption that you guys know that bit, "All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten," which includes such pearls as:
  • Play fair.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don't hit people.
  • Share everything.
Okay, let's see where this leads. What did I learn in the dorms?
  • Play fair. If you fill your roommates' room with crumpled newspaper, Eric, don't whine when you find out your prank lost them some important shit and you're responsible for the damages.
  • Clean up your own mess. Oh, how I would love to say we ganged up on Dale and used his head as a mop to take care of that pissing-in-the-hallway stunt. Alas, we had to content ourselves with the fact that he flunked out after the first quarter.
  • Don't hit people. Hit on them. And, oh, by the way, you know that bit about, "If you listen to a woman's bullshit until 2AM she'll have sex with you"? Ain't true. Jennifer, I think listening to you tell me at cracked-tooth-painful length how Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance changed your father's life was at least worth some tongue.
  • Share everything, but please be aware that if your roommate is busy humping the gal from next door** -- five feet away from you -- he may take exception to this rule. Oh, and by the way, Joe. If she whimpers after you've finished, it is not a good sign. Let a Real Man satisfy her next time***.
Not bad, but that's all I got. My brain has maxed out, folks. Ever see Scanners? Off topic: Have you folks been watching The Daily Show this week? Jon Stewart rocks. D. *I may be wrong about that. **Co-ed dorms, including the bathrooms. Some chicks are nasty in the morning, I tell ya. ***Yeah, that would be me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The things we do for love

How far will we go for love? I think some guys are willing to work a lot harder for it than others. In particular, if you look like this
(that was for you, bam) you're likely to expend far less time and effort snagging this
than if you look like this
Before you howl, "But Rick Moranis is cuuuute!" let me say: I'm one hell of a lot cuter than Rick Moranis, and I've had two, count 'em two women in my life (no, I'm not counting my mom), and it hasn't been for lack of trying. Matter of fact, I got pretty good at trying. I've already written ad nauseum about my courtship with Karen. Nuff said already. Thinking about today's theme, it occurred to me that I haven't told you much about my first girlfriend, GFv1.0*. GFv1.0 never put me through much grief, not in our courtship phase. No, she let her parents do it for her. They liked having me over for dinner for a game I liked to call, "Torment the Howlie." Or was it, Torment the Gwailo? Can't remember what slang we used for whitey in those days. Anyway, GF's mom would feed me yummy stuff like fish stomach. Grinning madly, she'd say, "SO? How do you like?" Then GF's dad would make me drink Chinese tea that smelled like tobacco and kept me up for days. I realize now they were being nice, accepting me into the fold. GFv1.0 has since told me that they actually really liked me. But at the time, I saw it all as an awful test. Black mushroom: that's the one I failed. GFv1.0 couldn't understand why I didn't like black mushroom. It upset her. It was worse than, say, hating chocolate. Oh, how we fought over black mushroom. Nowadays, of course, I crave the stuff. Would you believe that for love of GFv1.0, I once watched a chick flick from the first row of the movie theater and then raved about it afterwards? Well, of course I did. I'll bet lots of high school guys do that, especially those of us who hung out at the Rick Moranis end of the gene pool. We saw The Turning Point, with Shirley MacLaine (*shiver*), Anne Bancroft, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. But I didn't care that I was watching a chick flick and getting a whopping case of neck strain. Why? I'll tell you why. We'd had dinner at a nearby pizza parlor, and then we decided to fit in some necking time before the movie. This was mighty early in the relationship; open-mouth kissing resembled Mr. and Ms. Pac Man trying to eat each other's faces. It was a messy affair, with much gnashing of teeth and bruising of lips, because, you know, they just don't teach this stuff in school. At one point, she reached over and patted the lump in my crotch and said, "What is that thing?" That's how I managed to get through The Turning Point with a grin plastered all over my face. Granted, there were Levis in the way, but she'd actually touched it. Something just occurred to me. Given the fact that Mikhail Baryshnikov spends most of that movie in tights, I don't think GFv1.0 would have asked me that question after the movie. D. *Who shall remain nameless. There's a distant chance she may visit the blog one day. If so, my only chance of survival will be the fact that I haven't spread her name to hell and back.

Mysterious Island

Mysterious Island, 1961 I grew up with Mysterious Island. In those pre-Betamax dark ages, you had to keep a keen eye on the TV Guide if you wanted to watch your favorite movie again and again. Then, inevitably, you'd have to run out of the room to go pee just as your favorite giant-animal-monster was about to terrorize the buxom heroine. Oh, DAMN! I missed the first thirty seconds of the giant bees! Watching it nowadays, my finger is never too far from the fast forward button. Ray Harryhausen's good stuff (note giant crab, bee, and chickenish thing in the poster above -- and that's not all!) is intercut with long, boring bits of dialog as our castaways struggle to survive on (badummm!) the Mysterious Island. I have no patience for this as an adult. As a kid, the talkie stuff functioned as foreplay, raising tension in anticipation of the orgiastic monster scenes. When I set about the process of world-building for my novel, I think Mysterious Island must have been lurking through my unconscious mind, diddling my muse. My aliens are little more than giant Harryhausen-style critters. Big birds, dogs, pigs, spiders, and so forth. Sure, they have their little quirks that make them alien, but I wanted my creatures to be immediately imaginable by the reader. I dislike extraterrestrials which demand much from me in the 'inner eye' department. Moties? Feh. Niven's puppeteer? Uh. I'll take Niven's Kzin (giant cats), thank you very much. I suppose many readers are just the opposite. They crave the strange. Show me something I've never seen before. Yeah, I know there are SF fans out there who think that way. I cracked the problem in a different (and, I hope, equally satisfactory) way, by giving my readers situations they might never have imagined possible. Like, say, a giant fly going down on a giant spider. When was the last time Niven gave you that, huh? D.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Future Republican talking points

A-well-a don't you know about the bird? Well, everybody knows that the bird is the word! Surfin' Bird The Trashmen, 1963 Writers of America: With the Bush Administration's poll numbers striking out into uncharted territory, your help is needed now. Active crises abound. More crises loom in the near future. Given its sluggardly response to Hurricane Katrina, the Administration cannot afford to appear slow-to-respond when the next disaster unfolds. They need fresh, hot memes, ready to go for each new crisis. Rapid meme application should give Americans that "Dubya's on top of things" feeling they crave from their President. Memes such as "fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here", "compassionate conservative", "culture of life", and "the blame game" have a finite shelf life. Before long, they lose their mind-altering efficacy and become focal points of parody. Truly effective mind control requires a steady flow of new memes. To get you all thinking in the right manner, I have provided a list of potential crises with appropriate meme-laden responses. (See below. Memes will be in bold face.) Do your best to think of other fine memes and/or other crises that this Administration may soon face. Remember, we want the common man to think that Dubya's all over this; we want him to look at Dubya and say, "That man's brain kicks ass!" For you libbrels reading this blog, look at the pretty bird.
Crisis: Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald presents evidence to the Grand Jury arguing for indictments of Vice President Dick Cheney, I. Louis Libby, and Karl Rove. GWB's Response: "Know what I think? I think Hitzy-Fitzy has an obviously partisan agenda. These aren't indictments. These are spitements. And we're forgetting the victim here, Valerie Plame. It's a Plame shame, that's what it is. But we gotta get beyond all that. We gotta get on with our lives. And if that doesn't work, I say we blame Plame."
Look at the birdie . . .
Crisis: An unnamed White House insider leaks documents proving the Bush Administration intentionally delayed its response to Hurricane Katrina because "it'll be a whole lot cheaper once most of 'em are dead," and "none of them po darkies vote Republican anyways." GWB's Response: "Who you gonna believe, me or someone who won't even tell you his name? But you know me. Like my favorite author wrote, that great Negro-American writer Ralph Ellison, I yam what I am." Grins. "I'm telling you the truth. I'm a truth-teller. That's what I do, I tell the truth. I'm not lying. Mr. Unnamed Source, he's a liar. Heh heh heh." He pats Condi Rice on the back. "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job. And, speaking of brownies, know what my second-favorite philosopher Martin Luther King said? He said, 'I have a dream.' And in my dream, America respects the truth. They don't respect no Mr. Unnamed Source who won't even tell you his name. As for me, I stand for the truth. Know what my favorite Negro-American activist Malcolm in the Middle said? He said, "If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything." So I ask you, my fellow Americans: who you gonna fall for, me, or some guy who won't even tell you his name?"
Ain't he cute?
Crisis: The Iraq insurgency mounts to the point where an American presence in Iraq is no longer tenable. News agencies all around the world show images of a panicky helicopter evacuation from Baghdad. Halliburton and Bechtel take heavy third quarter losses. GWB's Response: "Today, I am happy to tell you we have achieved a measured victory in Iraq. Our brave young service men and women deserve our gratitude because they have given this dark region its first taste of democracy. Under our watch, these good people have known freedom, and they will know it again. And once the seed of freedom has been planted, there's no stopping it. I'm looking forward to the coming years, when we'll see that freedom tree bloom. "
Ugh. I thought I could do a whole blog on this, but I'm making myself sick. Your turn. D.