Friday, December 31, 2004

Ode to the hymen

If you spent any time thinking about it you might conclude that the hymen is the most useless, ridiculous thing ever. What purpose does it serve? I read once that only humans and camels have them. Isn't that beautifully? And yet somehow we continue to revere it in various cultures.
I'll tell you where it really comes in handy. In historical romances. Then it takes on great significance. Does she have one? Does she not? Why does she have one? Why doesn't she? Where did it go? Who took it? Why didn't she tell him that it was/wasn't there? Oh yes it is a delightful plot device that can be used in all kinds of ways. God bless the hymen.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Polysyllabic Spree

I just finished reading Nick Hornby's (About a Boy, High Fidelity, Fever Pitch) series of columns just published under the name The Polysyllabic Spree. I absolutely love this book.

It's nice to know I am not the only one mad enough to hold conversations with authors about their choices. Of course the authors can't hear me because I am in the privacy of my home and they are either dead or hanging about wherever authors hang about but I still talk to them, as I mentioned in my last post.

Nick also talks about how when you read a really terrific piece of fiction you can't just jump into the next piece because it will disappoint. I think this is particularly true when you have read a very long book. You linger in the last book and are not quite ready to come all the way back to the "real" world.

Which is actually why I was reading The Polysyllabic Spree in the first place. After finishing Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell I needed a little buffer before the next fiction.

The columns are about what books the author has bought, which ones he read, why he didn't read more of the 0nes he bought and then reviews of the ones he likes. There are no snarky comments, apparently on pain of death by his editors. This worked perfectly for me. I was especially interested to see the process of reading from the point of view of another author who just might be jealous of certain works.

Nick is extremely funny and his work is so easy to read and relate to. I could have read the entire book in twenty minutes. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

More about Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell

I am really not sure that I made it clear that I adored this book. I really did love it. Oh sure I was hesitant to embrace it at first. When it tried to kiss my cheek I scowled and held out my hand and made it shake my hand instead.

But gradually it wormed its way past my defenses. We laughed and cried together and it made me worry. Oh how it made me worry. Even now, two days after I finished it I worry. I worry about characters that I think were never adequately cared for. I want them all to be happy. Even the rotten ones deserve some sort of peace. But the ones I loved the most, Stephen Black, Mrs Strange, Lady Pole, the woman who loved Stephen Black whose name I cannot recall, Mr Honeyfoot, Mr Segundus oh! How the list goes on, I want them all to be happy.

I find myself alternating between dreaming up ways that they could all be happy forever and asking the author, why, why, why? Please explain to me why, precisely, you felt it was necessary that such and such have this fate?

Don't think this means the book has a sad ending. I think many people would think it was a perfectly fine ending. I am not sure if it is happy or sad myself because I am unable to look at this book as having stopped at the last page. I am too easily able to imagine more of the book.

The book itself is unspeakably sad in parts and riotously funny in others. I'm curiously homesick for the book now. I keep thinking I can't really be done with it. There must be more. It's about magic isn't it? Maybe if I pick it up again this time there will be more, this time all my questions will be answered...

While I wait to see if this book is enchanted you must go and get your own copy and read it for yourself. No thanks are necessary but they are always welcome.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Susan Sontag died

And so many people are dead from the earthquake and the tsunamis and people are fighting over whether we are giving too much aid or not enough and it all makes me very very sad and tired.

I finished Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell this morning some time. I got to a part that upset me terribly around two or three this morning so I stayed up and finished the rest of the book, thinking that all would come right for the characters but I was not happy with the ending. I stayed up for another 250 pages and then laid awake thinking why? why? why?

It's a beautiful book. Well written and witty and there is warmth, which I had worried about because I have felt somewhat removed from Ms. Clarke's previous work and when I started this one I thought what good is wit with no warmth? But I grew to love the secondary characters. But this ending. It makes me sad.

The world seems a very grim place right now.

Monday, December 27, 2004

I've summed it all up

After much thought I decided that the reason I write, even when I don't want to, even when it seems utterly pointless, even when it makes me want to scream and cry, is because it hurts less to write than it does to not write.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

The Wrong Number

The phone rang and pulled me out of the world of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell, a place rather difficult to leave. I didn't recognize the number on the caller id, which signifies nothing much.

It was a collect call from the Howard County Detention Center. Suddenly the call became a moral dilemma. I couldn't quite make out who was supposed to be calling. It sounded like Snoop Dogg but the chances of him being in the Center and calling me seemed rather low.

Should I accept the charges? I know people who would say that is a very dangerous thing to do. But what if I didn't and this poor fellow in the other end of the line thought whoever he was calling no longer cared enough about him to take his calls?

I pressed "One to add ridiculously high charges to your account" and was connected to a young gentleman who asked "Hey what's up?" in a weary voice.

I asked the fellow for his name and he replied "Sbong" or something of that ilk and then I explained that he had the wrong number, making sure that he was aware that this number is only six months old and he could have dialed an old number for a friend who has a new one.

Surprisingly he was not much down spirited by his error. He inquired as to my marital status and expressed much satisfaction and joy when I recovered from my surprise at the question and said No, I don't have a husband. He said I sounded beautiful and I decided that when he asked the inevitable next question, did I have such a thing as a boyfriend, I had better say yes so I did and he hung up much disappointed.

It all struck me as rather odd. Shouldn't he have more on his mind than flirting with any woman who happens to accept his charges? But perhaps in a larger sense that is really what life is all about. Trying to find some woman who will accept your charges and keep on listening to you in times of trouble.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

In which I am late for an appointment I did not know I had

I fell asleep rather late last night, or this morning would be more precise. I turned off my computer at 4:20 am.

In my dream I was walking down a corridor and I came to Mr. Adam Duritz, who was most industriously leaning against a wall, very kindly giving it support and keeping it from having to stand on its own. He appeared most content in a somewhat impatient fashion. When he saw me he made me a quite tolerable leg and inquired as to why I had kept him waiting in such a shabby place.

I begged his pardon and said I had a terrible time getting to sleep and of course in order to meet him I did have to fall asleep.

He said not to trouble myself further over my tardiness and took my hand in a most courteous fashion and asked "Are you ready now to walk with me in the maze of mirrors and dance in the garden of delights?" He gave me quite a fetching grin as he asked and I could do naught but agree that I was.

Happy _______ to all

May the joys and festivities of the season rain down upon your heads in a veritable deluge of delight and wonder.

Happy Christmas, Happy Solstice, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, Happy days Are Here Again!

Friday, December 24, 2004

No really, we think it's funny...

I took the boys to Fridays tonight. I have not been there in a long time and it's not exactly on my list of favourite places but it was late and Christmas Eve and seemed to be the only place open besides Dennys.

We got a kid's menu so we could colour while we waited for our food. The menu was kind of appalling. The graphics were not attractive and the games were odd in a bad way.

There was one that said something like:

We'd like you to tell us something funny that happened at the following place.

At the lunch table

In class

On the bus

At the playground

A movie moment

Now maybe it's just me but I could think of very little funny about those locations. The school ones all brought up memories of being beaten up or picked on and how many funny movie moments are there that aren't coming from the film itself?

Oh I managed to come up with some answers and so did the kids but those situations are not inherently funny. Mostly I thought about various scenes I had written for I Am Not the Problem, the script I wrote where parts of it take place in the school. I guess that combines everything, doesn't it? I suspect they wanted things that actually happened though so I had to think really hard.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Hey George W what did you do with your website?

I was interested to see that the images in all the spam George W. Bush sent me no longer show up. This indicates to me that his site, is no more and can't serve up the images.

I typed the address into my URL window and tada, the site now autoforwards to

Now why is that? Could it be that he doesn't want to keep promises he posted at his campaign site? Is he ashamed of the smear ads and other propaganda that was posted there? I can't believe that this guy decided he couldn't afford to host the site any longer. I wonder. Drop me an email Mr. President and let me know that I am being cynical and explain why your site is no more. I'd appreciate it.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Stem cells and fat

A friend of mine wrote to me yesterday about someone she met who is going through hoops trying to arrange for surgery for a family member. The surgery involves embryonic stem cells and is being done out of the country. Here is part of the the text of my reply:

What’s interesting to me is how little attention is paid to stem cells that don’t come from embryos. Stem cells from fat can do the same things as those from fetal tissue. Even if we take away complex issues like would you sacrifice your own unborn child to let someone else’s child heal some from an accident the simple fact is that fat cells are much easier to harvest and much more abundant than embryonic cells.

Just think you probably could have given this fellow much more material to work with than you get from the average embryo. I certainly could. I could donate pounds of the stuff.

So why is it that nobody talks about it? Why is there so little attention paid? Why is California very publicly giving tons of money to controversial fetal research when the same money could be spent with no legal or ethical questions and get the same results?

I looked into this subject when I first started dating Dan and learned that his form of MDA was caused by the anterior horn cells in his CNS. Stem cell research looks like it might be able to help people with SMA. As I said I have plenty of fat cells to donate so we had a pact that when the time came I would be the donor. He ran out of time before the research was ready for him.

But I have to ask. If the average person didn’t think “dead baby” when they heard the words stem cell research then how much more money and time would we as a country have put towards this research? And why, , why does the average person automatically think of embryos? It’s gotten so it’s not even specified most of the time. It’s just assumed.

Wouldn’t it be grand if the fellow with the bike knew about the fat stem cell research and got involved in a program here in our country?

For more about this subject just google the words “fat stem cell.”

Friday, December 03, 2004

More goofy headlines from the internet had one today bout raising a spiritual child. If I need to read one article to learn how to raise a spiritual child both my child and I are in trouble.

This ran at awhile back:

Astounding Benefit of Believing in Hell
Countries whose citizens believe in hell are not only less corrupt, but also more prosperous.

Hmm could be because they are terrified of said Hell or could be because they made a deal with the devil already and that's why they are more prosperous. The phrasing of that headline screams World Weekly News to me.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

This is kind of amazing

This article is about legislation that makes it illegal for the government to compete against companies like Verizon and Comcast. No cheap high speed internet for the people. I wonder how much graft changed hands for this to happen.

It's terribly frustrating. Cheap broadband should be available. I notice that the income listed for the average joe who has broadband now is nearly three times what I make and the price they pay is significantly less than I pay. Go capitalism!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

World AIDS Day

In honour of World AIDS Day I counted my blessings. I said some prayers. I thought about the people I love who have died of AIDS and AIDS related diseases. I talked to my kids about risky behaviours. And I prayed.