Friday, August 31, 2007

Who comes up with this stuff?

The Pervert Elimination Campaign? Really?

I'm just reading an article in WaPo about the history of sting operations designed to entrap gay men. It's freakish.

In 1919 the Navy hired "decoys" to frequent the lobby of the YMCA in Newport, R.I. Orchestrated by officers at the local Naval Training Station, the cleanup campaign sought to eliminate gay men from the ranks. Following an introduction, decoys would accompany their suspects to a hotel room and then have sex. At least three dozen sailors and civilians were arrested, and many ended up in jail.

According to conventions of the day, if men confined themselves to masculine behaviors and sex roles, they could engage in sex with other men without inviting accusations of being gay. Because perversion was seen primarily as a function of effeminate mannerisms and passive sexual tastes, government decoys could have sex with gay men with impunity as long as they assumed the active position during those encounters. Or so the Navy assumed.

Wow. It's an interesting article but the beginning is slow. Once you get past the current scandal stuff it's worth reading.

In other news I had a flat yesterday that ended up costing me 225 bucks and five hours that I don't have. The old wheel was rusted stuck and it took three people stopping to help before we could get back on the road and go to the tire store.

Thanks to Joe, who works in tiles, who went home and came back with an armload of equipment that finished the job. And his poor wife and baby who waited in the truck in the heat while he got us going again. Truly a blessing for Cam and I.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

So what is that? An essay? A composition?

It's just as well Cam is my last child in regular school because it's becoming more and more confusing to me. Today was the first day of 10th grade for him and he brought home a stack of papers for me to read and sign and such.

One of them talks about "Touchstones" and says things like "Students do not prepare before class." That's interesting. "Students do not raise hands." There is quite a bit about discussions. It sounds a little panels at cons except I do tend to raise my hands at those, or some of them anyway. Depends on the panel I suppose.

Now I'm looking at the American Government pages. Cam will be doing BCRs and ECRs. What are those? And well you might ask. Brief Constructed Responses and Extended Constructed Responses. Do I know more now? I really don't.

The funny thing is I'm mentoring a friend of Cullen's and answering all sorts of questions about college and being really helpful (seriously, I'm quite proud of myself). I'm not sure why high school has me so baffled.

In other news no news from the surgery center yet but yesterday's PT/INR was in a good range, which is nice since I've bloomed with bruises.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Some surprising news

I went to see my hematologist today, expecting we'd have our usual sparring match and I'd come away with a mammogram order, since it's that time of the year.

Instead I found out my iron is dangerously low - it's been low for the last five years actually, since I had a huge retroperitoneal bleed and an enormous deep vein thrombosis and was in the hospital for 21 days, 8 in ICU. It's been particularly low for at least the last year - I saw Dr. Spivak up at Hopkins on 8/29/2006 and he was concerned enough to put me on RX iron supplements. Unfortunately the one he wanted me to take is made anymore so Dr. Deluca gave me something else called Repliva but that made me so sick I couldn't keep taking it.

In March we talked about IV iron, 400 mls, but the doctor decided my veins can't handle it so I've been trying to eat a lot of red meat and other foods high in iron since then. Well my iron dropped enough that now I need about 650 mls and there's no discussion of whether I want it or not, I'm getting it.

But I can't just have it. I have to have a PICC line inserted ( which means some outpatient surgery first then we have to do a test dose of iron because many people are allergic and I'm an allergic person and have anaphylactic shock in the past (thankfully in my pediatrician's office so was given lots of epinephrine and bundled off in an ambulance, but not before I passed out thinking this was it, I was dead.)

I might be getting some steroids along with the iron as a protective measure. We'll see. And it looks like I'll be getting about 100 mls a day, which I think takes about 2 hours. And they want to do it right away so I'm a bit anxious (read terrified) and trying to think of practical things like they can do the surgery when I'm on the warfarin and will I be sedated and do I need a ride to the hospital and if so who can take me?

Meanwhile Cam starts 10th grade tomorrow and Cullen starts UMBC on Wedneday and I'm meant to drive him on Tuesdays and Thursdays and it's all a little overwhelming...


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Charlotte's web

I woke up this morning thinking about the Wizard of Oz film to be that I blogged about last night. I've decided I should do a remake of Charlotte's Web.

Fern will be like the Sarah Connor character in the first Terminator movie. Charlotte will be like the good terminator in the second Terminator movie.

"Relying on words is so 20th century." said Lee, the film's writer and executive producer. "No 21st century arachnid is going to rely on such archaic methods. After all there are a lot more of them then there are of us."

Charlotte's Web - Payback Time is expected to be released in the fall of 2010.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I'm a dolt, but I'm not the only one

I went over to Home Depot today to see if I could pick up some fuses in hopes that new ones would make the air conditioner work again and I forgot to put my handicapped placard up in the window and when I came back I had a five hundred dollar ticket. The most annoying thing is it had only been there for four minutes, about the amount of time I was sitting in Home Depot moaning and clutching a ladder trying to throw up or faint. Is that irony? I don't know. And of course they didn't have the fuses because Westinghouse went out of business 17 years ago. Hooray!

It was 97 degrees today with very high humidity. Thankfully we got a nice thunderstorm just a little bit ago and things have temporarily cooled off.

So I'm sitting here catching up on my Variety newsletters and I see this. You have to read it. And the comments. The best comment is the pitch for the flying monkeys script - I think the thing should be activated when someone says "When monkeys fly out of my ass."

Anyway the deal is Todd McFarlane, a man I have zero respect for ever since his legal thing with Neil, is going to remake The Wizard of Oz. Now I'm all for mashups and retelling of stories and all of that, after all I've done it myself and it can be great fun, but I have to cringe when I read his quotes.

"My pitch was ‘How do we get people who went to ‘Lord of the Rings’ to embrace this?’ " McFarlane said. "I want to create (an interpretation) that has a 2007 wow factor. You’ve still got Dorothy trapped in an odd place, but she’s much closer to the Ripley from ‘Alien’ than a helpless singing girl."

See right there he shows he knows nothing about the source material. Dorothy was never helpless, she killed witches and she escaped from slavery and didn't she rescue all of Oz from the Nome king at one point? And you know I've got nothing against Ripley but she's kind of a cynical killing machine. Who exactly does Dorothy need to cynically kill? I Just Don't Get It.

Luckily it looks like Josh Olson (A History of Violence,) who is writing this masterpiece, is going to be putting the brakes on McFarlane.

McFarlane has a vision of Oz that is a dark, edgy and muscular PG-13, without a singing Munchkin in sight. That was clear with a toy line he launched several years ago that featured a buxom Dorothy and Toto reimagined as an oversized snarling warthog. Olson has something a little tamer, and PG, in mind.

"I saw those toys, and Dorothy as some bondage queen isn’t something I want to do," Olson told Daily Variety. "The appealing thing about the Baum books to me is how wildly imaginative they are. There are crazy characters from amazing places. I want this to be ‘Harry Potter’ dark, not ‘Seven’ dark."
Saints be praised.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Sickity sick sick

Our air conditioner broke again so it's like hotter than the surface of the sun here in my room and it's killing me slowly. My vision is significantly worse than last week and when I went to take a bath I lost my balance and staggered all the way across the room and into the wall. Weirdly when I get overheated and my symptoms are exacerbated I lose the ability to make turns. It's all straight lines except straight lines like a drunk person would walk. In other words there's no end to the fun and it's supposed to be even hotter tomorrow.

I'm mostly being grouchy and wondering why nobody is fixing the air and feeding me strawberry margaritas...

Monday, August 20, 2007

I forgot to say

I really like this painting. Giuseppe Arcimboldo: The Librarian

Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons


Nothing but good news

Mohsan is back from Pakistan and so far I've still been able to answer the questions he needs answering regarding college and anything else. He was gone for more than two months and I worried about him the entire time.

Cullen and many friends are off seeing Stardust and I'll be picking some of them up in about an hour.

I made it through level 39 in the block balancing game in Wario Smooth Moves, a mini game I find weirdly soothing given that it should be wildly frustrating.

I'm reading a wildly funny book by Nick Hornby called A Long Way Down. It's about four wannabe suicides who meet on the same roof on New Year's Eve. I know, hilarious huh? Could NOT have a funnier set up.

I'm taking the day off tomorrow to take care of some stuff for Cullen and a doctor appt. Should be good.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Innocent's Story

I tend to grab a whole bunch of books when I'm at the library, mostly either because I like the author or because the cover interests me. I picked up this thing called The Innocent's Story by Nicky Singer because the cover looked a little creepy. I knew nothing about it until I read it, because I don't read blurbs anymore as they often give away entirely too much plot to make me happy.

Here's a link to what the Manchester Book Award website has to say about the book:

Now for what I thought of it. Pure torture from start to finish. Unrelenting dreariness and condescension. At the back the author says she wrote it as a reaction to 9/11 and that publishing it was difficult. Possibly because it's so horrible? I know many people who wrote things as a reaction to the attacks that occurred that September but most of us were smart enough to know that publishing them was a bad idea. (My own story was about a woman who is supposed to meet her mother and her daughter at the WTC and is several hours away when the attack happens and in the end wanders around New York, nearly catatonic with grief, unable to do anything more than pick up memorials that have come unstuck from the walls and putting them back up again. It wasn't bad but I wouldn't want to inflict it on anyone else.)

The Innocent's Story is told from the POV of a 13 year old girl who is killed in a bomb in a train station. But she doesn't move on, she floats around and inspects things and eventually ends up in the brain of the man who killed her, who just happens to be immortal. We meet the mother of the man behind the plots who says that everyone is responsible for the attacks, and makes a case for why she thinks this way. The worst part for me is when the dead girl goes into the brain of the "mastermind" and it's just pretty much blank. He doesn't think or feel much and he can't see white people, he just sees blobs or whatever.

What is the author trying to say? If the point of the book was to explore the motivations of suicide bombers why make them into robots or whatever? I don't get it.

Friday, August 17, 2007

This was interesting

Before they updated it.

It's for a "free haunted" armoire

We were going to keep it but we now think the armoire is haunted. My wife found a message carved under one of the shelves about a pox and there’s a giant pentagram carved on the very bottom (out of view and doesn’t affect the overall look) with a bunch of latin words. Also, when we first got it, there were some red stains on the bottom shelf, but my wife cleaned them because she thought they were Kool-Aid or some sort of juice.

Sadly the next day it wasn't haunted or free anymore. Bummer.

Here's another one that would have been an interesting story but was totally spoiled by the last line, the one about no fatties. Now you have to be able to suspend disbelief because obviously the whole thing is a fabrication, but it was almost an entertaining read.

I am an elderly man of eighty-seven with an advanced case of lymphatic cancer. In my hayday, I was an extremely successful film and theatre producer. I am very well off and am looking to spend the final years of my life with someone who will take care of me and see that my money is taken care of.

I have three children who have all but abandoned me, so I spend most of my time in my estate, writing a memoir and reminiscing about past times. I am an avid automobile collector and have amassed an impressive display of vintage roadsters and modern sports racers. I am also a noted philanthropist and spend much of my time traveling the world, visiting my vacation homes. I have spent a good amount of time eradicating poverty in small, third-world communities and purchasing art collections.

As for my mate, I prefer younger shapely blondes but am open-minded at this point. I am straight-laced and (thanks to Viagra) fiesty.

Seeking those who have a strong desire to travel the world, hear my stories, and laugh with me.

Because you know everyone who has an advanced case of lymphatic cancer is all about traveling and fucking shapely blondes...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Best Thing About Bully

We're playing Bully by Rockstar for the PlayStation two. I picked it up to see which hype represents it best and to see if I want to write a column about it. It's both better and worse than I thought it would be.

The best thing is your character, a dude called Jimmy Hopkins, makes out with boys if you play your cards right. You have to level up, then pick some flowers, which you should always carry around with you, present them to the right guy (like Trent) and you get hilarious dialogue and some nice smooching action.

Now if only you could play the game as a girl...

Monday, August 13, 2007

I need some of this

I'm feeling exceptionally lazy today. I have two big projects due, one tomorrow and one Wednesday and I have to take the boys to the doctor but I think I'm either going to finish this Spider Robinson book (Night of Power - D for depressing but well written with compelling characters) or fall asleep with it on my chest and wake up disoriented at like three a.m. and feel bad because I didn't get more done today.

I did get all my writing for the day done and all my day job stuff yet somehow I feel I need to be doing something important I can't quite remember...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Stardust - Fucking Awesome

I had very high expectations for Stardust, to the point I almost didn't want to go and see it and have those expectations crushed, but the film exceeded my wildest hopes.

I cannot say enough good things about it. Everything was done to a T, casting, acting, dialogue, ponies, everything. Robert de Niro steals the show, he was perfect. I laughed until my belly hurt.

Cullen couldn't go because his flight back from Alaska wrecked his back, in fact I had to get him a wheelchair, but Cam's friend Tino was free so three of us went.

I'm very impressed with Charlie Cox, I watched him Casanova last night and he was spot on in that also. He's a pleasure to watch.

One last comment since I have a million things to do, (like write my 500 words for the Tesla story) the princes and the man who used to be a goat are terrific. There are so many little subtle things that add quite a lot.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Cullen comes home very soon

In fact he should be on a plane right about now I believe.

I had some awesomely enlightened things to say but forgot them all.

However I think this is pretty neato. I have a character in the Gabriel books called Catalina. Yesterday I typed her name as Cataline and thought that sounded really nice. But you never know what sort of unsavory person might have a name so I did a Google search and found this amazing mule packer called Cataline.

This is my favorite part.

One of the best stories about him involves a loan that he had to make after a fatal disease had killed several of his mules. The bank manager questioned Cataline's collateral, wondering how many mules and horses he owned before consenting to lend him the money. When Cataline returned to the bank in the fall to repay the debt, he counted out the exact amount owing and paid it in full. The bank manager noted that Cataline had more money on his person and suggested that he deposit it in the bank. Cataline responded with a query as to how many horses and mules the bank owned, and upon learning it was none, decided to keep his money.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Some interesting thoughts from a doctor who doesn't think doctors do enough for their patients

This is from the memoirs of a doctor posted up at the NIH. I found it while researching the Morro Castle disaster.

Over the years I have been puzzled by the fact that none of the several aids
to my way of life that I have discovered was brought to my attention by any of
the ophthalmologists whom I consulted. It seems to me that the student of
diseases of the eye should be particularly well equipped to advise the visually
handicapped on his sources of satisfaction and gratification, yet no such
advice was forthcoming. These ideas were brought to a head when I was con-
sulted by a fellow worker at the National Institutes of Health whose chronically
progressive retinal disease was under study at the National Eye Institute.
Neither her ophthalmologist nor anyone else had ever mentioned to her such
readily available adjuncts as large-print books, the large-print edition of the
New York Times, or any of the many aids to the visually impaired. I therefore
wrote of my own experiences and sent the manuscript to my own ophthalmologist,
requesting his recommendations as to the best place to publish it. Receiving
no answer to my request, I mailed the manuscript to the New England Journal of
Medicine where, rather to my surprise, it was accepted and published. There
resulted by far the largest wave of correspondence and telephone calls that any
publication of mine has ever elicited. Many of the respondents were either
visually impaired or were relatives of visually impaired persons. Some were
ophthalmologists and a few were physicians in other specialties. Most of the
letters were supportive and friendly and many recounted experiences which
paralleled my own. It thus appears that failure on the part of the ophthal-
mologist to direct his blind patients to agencies which may improve the quality
of their lives is not an isolated phenomenon. On the contrary, it appears to
be quite widespread. Furthermore, as some of the writers of letters pointed
out to me, the phenomenon is not peculiar to ophthalmology. Indeed, in many
fields of medical specialization it seems that the specialist, once he has
given all possible consideration to his particular organ or organ systems,
feels little further responsibility for his patient. "This man is blind and
there is nothing that I can do for him." "This woman has multiple sclerosis
and there is little or nothing that I can do for her."

This memoir is dated 1983 and was written by Dewitt Stetten Jr, a doctor who was blind when he "wrote" these memoirs.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Possible opening paragraph to this week's column

Which also explains what I've been doing all week, obsessing and not being able to settle down. Despite having a million things to do I spent an hour a couple of nights ago driving around telling Cam the plot to the Tesla script. Sigh.

I had a really hard time concentrating on anything this week because I'm so excited about something happening this weekend. Finally after what seems like a thousand years of waiting, Stardust is opening up today, the tenth. Unfortunately it's opening after my deadline so I'm not yet able to review it but I can tell you that if you like adventure or romance or flying pirates or witches or magic or fairy tales or Michelle Pfeiffer or Robert De Niro or Clare Danes or Charlie Cox you have to go see it. In fact you should take everyone you know and go. Years from now when other people are telling you about this fabulous film they just found on DVD you'll be able to really lord it over them because you saw it opening weekend. Find out more about the film here but please keep in mind from what I hear the trailer does not do it justice.


Monday, August 06, 2007

The Paranoid Writer's Dream Come True

Here's an ad up at Craig's List listed under writing jobs.

Writer needed to create a summary of 11 different specific books / movies into one report. A story telling style of report is desired. We will give key words from each book to incorporate and additional information needed to tie each of them together. Writing style and skill is what is ideally needed. No real knowledge of the novels are necessarily needed or required, but will be helpful.
This is the best/worst part:

No real knowledge of the novels are necessarily needed or required, but will be helpful.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

A Couple of Things that Would be Nice to See

One - a headline having to do with Comic-Con that didn't have the word geek in it.

From Variety - Hollywood sneak peeks woo geeks

From the Christian Science Monitor - At Comic-Con, geek is chic

From the New York Times - We’re All Geeks Here

USA Today - It's good to be a geek at Comic-Con

Ad nauseum

Number two - how about leaving out the nasty little digs in the articles? Let's look at the Variety story.

And while stars like Hugh Jackman, Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Guillermo del Toro and Samuel L. Jackson have shone on panels, others like Scott Speedman and Hilary Swank have wound up looking unsure what to make of the crowd in front of them. That's perhaps not suprising, since requests during Q&As can include autographs that will wind up as tattoos on a stranger's body.

I don't think whoever wrote that has been to a Q and A. Or an autograph session. Maybe instead of making really odd farfetched excuses we could consider that acting is usually doing and saying what someone else tells you to do and say. Unless you've done improv you may not have the training to answer the questions an intelligent group of strangers are going to lob at you. I can just imagine what Tom Cruise would have made of the questions Frederick Pohl got at the Book Festival a few years ago.

To get back to the body thing for a second, yes of course fans have autographs turned into tattoos, especially when the autographs include drawings. But I don't think there's any law that says you have to give someone your autograph, esp. if you don't like what they're going to do with it.

And one last thing -

an audience made up of fanboys and a growing number of families.

We're still struggling with so many stereotypes. What about women? Do these people, who are really talking about film, not comics at all, still think women and girls don't read comics, watch films or go anywhere alone? Give me a break.


Thursday, August 02, 2007


I'm reading Michael Chabon's Summerland. I was partway through and gave it to Cullen because he had nothing to read. He said it was good but derivative. It is, in the sense that you kind of have read bits of pieces of it in other stories and of course there's a great big chunk of mythology holding the whole thing up. It's compelling enough that I wish I had more time to read it but I've been swamped at work and we had two doctor appointments this week so again just madly busy.

But it's more than that, my brain is very tired and I'm extra dizzy. I'm having trouble walking in a straight line, which brings me quite a few scornful looks when I'm out in public. Of course I don't have a shirt that says don't worry, I'm not drunk, I'm just got neurological impairments, so I put up with the stares and pointing fingers. My favorite is when I can't turn right when I'm walking and finally manage to go in this weird pattern to my car, get in and drive away. I bet that inspires OODLES of confidence in the driving public. They don't know it's a walking thing, not a driving thing.