# 01 Jul 2005, 07:59AM: More Food and Nervousness:
Last night I ate at Cafe Andree and of course the ravioli were delicious. Today, eggs and toast because I'm too nervous to eat much more, even though come midmorning I won't be able to eat or drink at all! Even water! Aieee!
Sandra Day O'Connor has announced her retirement, Nina Totenberg is audibly in shock, people in Iraq and Cuba and Sudan and North Korea and the US are dying for no reason, but I can't concentrate on anything but my impending fast and surgery and recovery. Yudhisthira was right, in that riddle session with Yama by the lake, possibly the second most didactic scene in the entire Mahabharata (after the Gita).
Yama asks: What is the most amazing thing in the world?
And Yudhisthira answers: Every day, men see others die around them, yet each man thinks that he himself is immortal. That is the most amazing thing.
# 01 Jul 2005, 10:58AM: Withdrawal:
I'm quitting eating and drinking (temporarily) and a colleague of mine is suffering through his seventh or eighth cigarette-free day after years of smoking. We're keeping each other on the bandwagon. I got the saying wrong, I know it.
# 01 Jul 2005, 12:57PM: Pavlova For Pavlov's Dog:
My stomach has growled several times in the past few minutes, and my mouth just watered. I acknowledge my addiction to food and reach for the strength to get this monkey off my back.
# 01 Jul 2005, 08:38PM: Gauzy:
As the oral surgeon administered the anesthesia, I tried to tell him about the relevant scene in Cryptonomicon, but I went under before I could give him the title and author.
After the surgery, when I saw Leonard, I cried. I blubbered that I was sorry that I hadn't had the wisdom teeth out five years ago when a dentist made a passing comment about them. The assistant said that some people cry and some people laugh when coming out of anesthesia.
Pretty grumpy coming home - a communication and traffic mixup kept me waiting to go home - but Leonard has been taking fantastic care of me, including serving me cups of delicious mashed potatoes and vanilla pudding. I have to use my numb tongue as a conveyor belt or crane between my numb lips and my freaked-out throat.
# 02 Jul 2005, 08:36AM: Weekend Upgrade:
Lips: no longer numb. Pudding and mashed potatoes: still delicious! I feel a general disinclination to get up from bed but can successfully putter around the house.
My thanks to Zack for driving Leonard and me home from the oral surgeon's in awful traffic yesterday afternoon. I was grumpier than he deserved. Tip for anyone who has to groggily leave a downtown doctor's office in a car at 5:15 on the Friday before Fourth of July Weekend: have your driver stationed in a nearby parking garage BEFORE you have to leave.
As I found out from the kindly Dr. David Ehsan, as well as the other dentist and oral surgeon I saw during this process, it's better to have wisdom teeth removed (unless they've already come in without causing a fuss) around age 18, before the jaw's fully formed and the wisdom teeth have put down long roots. I feel guilty that I didn't have them out earlier; years ago a dentist made a passing remark that it's better to have wisdom teeth out sooner rather than later. But that's all! From what he said, I figured that wisdom teeth that aren't causing an immediate problem can stick around, like the appendix. He didn't explain that they're almost inevitably problematic, or the financial and medical reasons why it's better for a student on her parents' insurance to get it done some teenage summer, or make any persuasive or expository effort at all. Dentists: don't make this mistake!
# 02 Jul 2005, 10:00PM: Babe:
I got to talk to Alyson and Brendan today. (Tomorrow: Claudia?) Also I am only moderately woozy and oozy, and Jennifer reassured me that if I haven't felt euphoria yet then I probably won't get addicted to any of my meds.
I showed Leonard the classic children's film Babe and during the film discovered that I can eat soft solid foods (e.g., well-cooked ravioli) if I cut it into tiny pieces with my incisors and swallow said bits whole. Also: chocolate pudding! Leonard's great.
Susanna and John have almost fully moved into their new place in SoCal. Congrats!
I realize after reading this entry that it doesn't live up to my standard intellectual bar (viz., "would this fit into the classic epistolary novel Microserfs?"). OK. The matrimonial ads of India West include such phrases as "innocently divorced from an issueless marriage." Does "issueless" mean "without children" or "without angry exes" or "without public scandal"? And has any divorce ever been innocent?
# 03 Jul 2005, 08:45AM: Grumpy:
Just ate pudding and took meds. Waiting for said meds to kick in. It could be worse - I could be having this experience - but it could be better, too - I could be having this experience.
# 04 Jul 2005, 11:08PM: Independence:
As of July 2005, my mouth has achieved independence from my wisdom teeth. Huzzah!
Happy Fourth, everyone. The party went fine. I went social-hostess nuts. Most of my friends mix well with others. Leonard made yummy food. We listened to old presidential campaign songs and laughed.
I should go to sleep. Medicated-up work this week should be fun.
# 06 Jul 2005, 01:03PM: The Saddest Thing:
A very sad story. Warning: made me cry!
# 07 Jul 2005, 09:07AM:
We are all Londoners today.
Continuing coverage from The Guardian.
# 07 Jul 2005, 05:56PM: Rubber Chickens:
I'm going to ask Joe to tell me how accurate this standup comedy FAQ is.
# 07 Jul 2005, 06:08PM: Comedy & Column:
Today's column yells at the standup comedians who infest SF's showcases for being lazy. Tonight I see Patton Oswalt with Joe at Cobb's.
# 08 Jul 2005, 12:59AM: Writing A Column:
Without Wikipedia, it might take more than four moves to get from "Is Cameroon in sub-Saharan Africa?" to "What's the deal with the Illuminati?"
The first is relevant to next week's MC Masala; the second is not.
# 08 Jul 2005, 02:48PM: Amazingly, I Liked Everybody:
Joe covers last night's show.
I saw Brent Weinbach for the first time last week and didn't like his act. Then yesterday I saw most of his jokes again and then one or two new bits, and I laughed. I don't understand myself. Maybe it's the pain meds.
I piqued Tony Camin's interest by clapping for the concepts of 99-cent stores and helping people move. Then I mystified him by claiming truthfully that I'd never tried pot. But the kicker: in the leadup to a bit about parades, he asked rhetorically whether anyone ever came home to put on a CD of marching band music. I guiltily thought of the "Greatest Marching Band Classics" album in my CD player and raised my hand.
# 11 Jul 2005, 06:00PM: Hail To The Remixer:
I think every time Lawrence Lessig walks into a room a band should play a verse and refrain of "Blank Baby" by The Presidents Of The United States.
# 12 Jul 2005, 09:07PM: The French:
I got to speak some broken French to two French tourists at a bus stop yesterday. They are from Paris, they said. "We almost got the Games," one added, as though that would jog my memory. Unsurprisingly, I got to spring the "Paris of the West" cliche on them and used the phrase "On y va!" upon my farewell. The title of my high school French textbook comes in handy yet again!
A colleague has seen March of the Penguins and enjoyed it except for the cheesy narration. Leonard and I have decided to wait for the DVD and watch it with the original French soundtrack. Heck, since it's about penguins it's basically a black and white film anyway.
# 13 Jul 2005, 12:21PM: "Because I do not know what you are saying.":
The LiveJournal customers_suck community has gotten me hooked and I have drawn Riana into my web of addiction. This Job Would Be Great If It Weren't For The Zombies: A Series Of Open Letters repays all my devotion.
...I am not deliberately hiding the smoked turkey from you, we just don't have any. I am not being racist, and if I wanted to, I would do it in a more aggressive way than hiding the smoked turkey....
# 14 Jul 2005, 02:49AM: Stayin' Awake:
When I wake up very early, I wonder whether I can get back to sleep. Sometimes a cup of water or trip to the loo will do it, sometimes daydreaming will. But what doesn't help: hearing the following sounds from the street:
- firework or gunshot
- only a second later, a second identical sound
- car driving away from said sounds
So I called 911 and made my calm, lucid report, and now I am definitely awake. Time to write.
# 14 Jul 2005, 03:51AM: Sunset is to Nightfall as Insomnia is to Wikipedia:
Wowie zowie, there are some crazy people out there.
Other related modern theories involve Hitler having escaped to the Antarctic, where he joined with a subterranean dinosauroid master race, with whom he now travels inside UFOs underground, generally beneath the South Pole or throughout the center of the hollow earth, but sometimes to a Nazi moon base as well.
Includes the "avatar of Vishnu" theory and its proponent, who went on to write "a fictionalized autobiography and memoir of her favorite cats." Title: Long-Whiskers and the Two-Legged Goddess, or the true story of a "most objectionable Nazi" and . . . half-a-dozen cats.
The history of the swastika is a brand manager's nightmare. Imagine you run a minor hockey team or a beloved cereal or an infantry division, and you've chosen as your logo lightning breaking jaggedly through a circle. Then the jihadists start using it! And off to CafePress you go.
What if some distasteful political movement started using swooshy corporate-style logos? What would it take for PBS or Coke to give up and flee?
Finally: Om saha naavavatu is one of the two mantras I know best, but I'd never seen it written down before. I've only heard my father cajoling large groups of Hindus into saying it before we dug into potluck dinners. Are there prayers like that for people who grew up Christian? Do you remember whether you said or sung them?
# 14 Jul 2005, 09:16AM: Past Current Events + Tastelessness:
This Year In Nepal: Hamlet II: Where is Everybody?
Subtitle: "What's all this blood on the floor?"
# 14 Jul 2005, 09:38AM: Blood Donation Time:
MC Masala this week urges you (if you are eligible) to give blood. The blood banks are running low.
So when the blood van pulls up across the street from my office every month, I go and I sit and I fill out the form. I have to answer the list of yes/no questions every time, and they take on a ritual significance, like the Four Questions of Passover.
# 16 Jul 2005, 11:19AM: Harry Potter Spoiled:
I have now read Book 6, Half-Blood Prince, of the Harry Potter series. Therefore you can feel free to discuss it with me and speculate about Book 7.
# 17 Jul 2005, 01:04AM: Movie Nights:
Through San Francisco's public library, Leonard and I have fully subsidized access to many awesome films (especially classics) that our neighborhood video stores don't carry. I love reserving these great Billy Wilder or Ealing Studios films at my local library and watching them with Leonard on seven-day loan. What indie video store does a seven-day loan? None for free, anyway.
This week I saw Mulan and The Fortune Cookie with Leonard and I read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Potter's Hermione, the eponymous Mulan, and the Ron Rich character (Luther Jackson) from Fortune Cookie all go above and beyond mere adequacy as sympathetic characters. They are the nicest or most competent or smartest or bravest or most altruistic characters in their stories. Should I fault the authors or credit the characters for these superlatives? Hermione has to compensate for being female and Muggle-born, Mulan for being female, Jackson for being black and for a moment of carelessness that leads to the film's main plot device. (I won't fault Wilder. Jackson's character is the most textured and less of a caricature than Mulan's or Hermione's. This makes sense since the film has the least Joseph Campbell-esque plot and character set of the three stories.)
As one blogger comments on a similar situation (a Muslim organization's condemnation of the London terror attacks):
I have to say that it's nice they're being nice. But you know? They don't have to be. They shouldn't have to be nice. It's just another stereotype, really, the opposite number from the Evil Fanatical Muslim Terrorist. How about we talk about your average everyday [sic] who's mediocre and not especially interesting? Who's ordinary and boring, it just so happens he goes to mosque instead of church, and who reads the Koran instead of the Bible. Just like, oh, millions of ordinary average other peole out there. Being noble is nice. But it's not compulsory. It's not necessary and it's not expected. ... [A person] should be able to do whatever the f*** he wants, be as much of a jerk as he wants, without it reflecting on his religion at all. It might reflect on him, but not on his religion.
What it undoubtedly reflects on, though, are the a**h***s who were mean to him because he's a Muslim.
In real life, I absolutely get the blogger's point (with all due reservations about the definition of "religion" and so on). But in fiction, I have to tease out where the story stops and the author begins -- whether the author is delibrately slanting the dataset. In The Fortune Cookie we have several male characters with significant screentime and all but one of them have some sympathetic aspects. The two females that show up the most have no good qualities at all. One is a conniving, betraying siren, and the other a hysterical pest. Did the story just work out best that way? Some women are sobbers or golddiggers, but no one can venture a ratio. Were the writers misogynists? Should I enjoy the movie as a whole and content myself with the cool nun who shows up for two minutes as a fairer representation of my sex?
We humans are pattern-making animals, as I think Elliot Aronson said, and that usually helps us, but it makes racism and sexism and all the other prejudices so much easier to form and so hard to lose! I want the art I see to upend my prejudices, to put me into that disequilibrium that leads to moral growth. That's why good satire hurts and edifies and illuminates.
Of course I overshot reason in my hopes for Harry Potter's plot. In mass transit and in human courtesy I want the studied reliability that civilization produces, but in storytelling I need something wild.
Which makes me wonder whether Billy Wilder was his real name.
Next up: Witness for the Prosecution. I'll report back.
# 19 Jul 2005, 09:23AM: Fairy Tales:
Maybe because I saw Mulan a few days ago, maybe because any tales Leonard and I spin for each other inevitably involve frogs....
"I'm a fraud!"
"I said I'm a fraud!"
"Oh, I thought you said you were a frog."
"What if everyone who was a fraud turned into a frog? And there was one honest man left, the only man left in a world of frogs? Maybe he would be so lonely that he would tell a lie, so he could be with his people. And then there would be only frogs, and all of their ribbits would be lies."
# 21 Jul 2005, 07:51AM: Not "Ironic," Thank Goodness:
The SF Zoo has an exhibit/event called "Parrot Encounter." That sounds ominous. More ominous than the old magazine or comic "Tales of the Unexpected." Today I conceived of a similar magazine or comic: "Tales of the Weirdly Apt."
# 21 Jul 2005, 08:01AM: Christmas Column In July:
Today's MC Masala has second and third paragraphs that the Bay Area Living editor, Cathy Schutz, much improved. Thanks, Cathy.
In "Interfaith Dialogue Runs Aground" I recollect a party where I conversed with a former Christian:
The more we talked the less we understood each other. How could he sit with me, a block from the Mission District in San Francisco, eating Christmas pie, and not understand that my conscious citizenship in Western civilization demands that I get a handle on Christianity?
# 21 Jul 2005, 08:21PM: Good Writers:
Flea talks about bravery and Brendan gives blood.
Gordon Atkinson is making the kind of decision that you have to make if you're going to give yourself up to the writing. Chain the wolf to the door. I wish him well.
# 21 Jul 2005, 08:39PM: My Patience Is Not Rewarded:
Recently I have less and less patience for disrespectful or snarky or dumb blathering. I put on my headphones at work less for the music and more to drown out particular people's incredibly useless yakkety-yak. And online I find myself scrolling past stupid comments on blogs with the unspoken incantation "Screw you, screw you, screw you." That's why I can't read Heather Havrilesky's "I Like To Watch" column in Salon: too much posing and insulting, not enough substance. And that's why I haven't watched Battlestar Galactica yet.
Leonard and I have heard great things about the new BG series on the Sci-Fi Channel. So he set up his TiVo to record them, starting from the beginning, but we didn't catch the miniseries that kicked off the whole saga. I'd like to read a transcript of it, or a very complete summary, but all I could find was Television Without Pity's recap. Reading a TwP recap is slow going at the best of times (example: "The Body" from Buffy The Vampire Slayer), but the BG miniseries recap has the highest noise-to-signal ratio I've ever seen on the site. The recappers seem to actively avoid saying anything positive about, well, anything except their own discriminating tastes.
I've been saying "Screw you" at every paragraph.
So those TiVoed episodes will have to wait.
# 25 Jul 2005, 10:30AM: Tired At 10:30:
One awful customer can be such a drag. Soon! Soon it will all be over! I'm not being all "sweet, sweet oblivion in a bottle!" Rather, I'm saying that this incident only increases my Craigslist willpower.
# 25 Jul 2005, 11:50AM: Comedy Reminder:
Will Franken's new website tells me that he's performing two discrete shows this Saturday, the 30th. I tell you that I'm going to both shows. They take place at The Purple Onion in North Beach, which has a bunch of fun acts in the next few weeks.
# 26 Jul 2005, 07:59AM: The Five-Minute MBA:
Daniel Davies uses grad school principles to talk about policy.
I would put that better except that I've just realized that I have overextended myself in promising to lend DVDs of Will Franken's performances to three or four different people. Hmmm.
# 28 Jul 2005, 08:43AM: MC Masala Drippiness:
Drippy both emotionally and because the stories happen in the rain.
Did the girls feel lucky, grateful, or relieved? Did they share a quick glance before getting into my car, deciding whether I was a nut or a good Samaritan? Did they tell their friends the story of the weird, friendly woman playing Weird Al at 2 on a Sunday morning?
# 31 Jul 2005, 10:35AM: Mice Are Completely Unfair:
How is this fair? The day after I clean the kitchen, I see a mouse. Now I'm stuffing towels in the cracks under my bedroom door as though waiting for firefighters to rescue me from smoke inhalation, and making loud glossomanic sounds before leaving a room so as to scare away the vermin. The neighbors must think I've started a home Pentecostal church. If only I had snakes around my neck - maybe they'd catch this damn mouse.
If you have a cat that catches mice, would you consider visiting me? Soon? With your kitty? I'm allergic to cat hair but I can sweep it up. Mice, no.
I had a moment while writing this where I feared that the mice would read it and learn of my countermeasures. No, these are not The Rats Of NIMH. These are not terrorist mice where it's not politically correct to try and figure out what they want and how to deny it to them. As far as I know, it is one solitary mouse who has succeeded in changing the way I live. Congratulations and damn you.
Cogito, Ergo Sumana by Sumana Harihareswara is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
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