Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Which button activates the rotary saws?

New York magazine recently published a slideshow: A History of Obama Feigning Interest in Mundane Things. It's funny stuff ("Obama is back in his pensive mode, except this time he has thrown in an open-mouthed gape to demonstrate how awestruck he is with this jar of dirt."), but it doesn't tell the whole story.

Dean Trippe reveals what's really going on in his slideshow, Barack Obama Looking at Awesome Things.

Trust me: There are some things in this warehouse you don't want to miss.


Monday, March 29, 2010

When Voices Through the Thin Walls Speak of Abberant Behavior

Okay, RNC Chairman Michael Steele has a bit of a reputation as a clown, going wildly off-message and always saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. He's also got a rep for wasting Republican donors' money, something I am totally down with.

But this is the best money-wasting yet.

Via Washington Monthly, today I learned that the Daily Caller reports that:

Once on the ground, FEC filings suggest, Steele travels in style. A February RNC trip to California, for example, included a $9,099 stop at the Beverly Hills Hotel, $6,596 dropped at the nearby Four Seasons, and $1,620.71 spent [update: the amount is actually $1,946.25] at Voyeur West Hollywood, a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex.

(Emphasis mine, but honestly? Probably yours, too.)

The Chairman of the RNC has dropped two grand at a fetish club? Here? Apparently the servers for Voyeur are overloaded right now (understandably; click the link in a day or two), but here's a description for ya.

Kathy and I just watched David Lynch's Blue Velvet last night, which explores the kinky, sadomasochistic  underbelly of small-town America. Maybe it's the 20-some years of life I've lived since first seeing it, but as much as I enjoyed the film, I've got to echo part of Roger Ebert's assessment: "What are we being told? That beneath the surface of Small Town, U.S.A., passions run dark and dangerous? Don't stop the presses."

Still, even though I know this stuff in my gut, the GOP connection still has the capacity to surprise. Not because Steele would go to the Voyeur club (obviously taking others, probably party donors), but that he'd be foolish (and, I suppose, law-abiding) enough to keep records of it for the Federal Election Commission. 

So here's to you, Michael Steele. I raise a glass of Pabst Blue Ribbon in your honor.

[Update: the RNC claims it wasn't Michael Steele at the club, but a "non-committee staffer," whatever that is. Even if that's true: Way to run a tight ship, man. And I still think this is the Best Thing Ever.] 


Friday, March 26, 2010

Transparency Versus Results

or "I know the secrets that you keep when you're talking on C-SPAN."

My brother sent me a message on Facebook with this video attached, wondering what I thought of it. (He adds that he's for universal healthcare.) The video was called "CNN is finally getting it" (I don't think by Tom). I'm embedding a YouTube video of the same broadcast, since Facebook won't let me transfer it directly.

I like Cafferty a lot, but I think he missed the boat with this clip. (Is it recent, by the way? It seems like the peak of these complaints would arise around the time of the first senate vote, with the Cornhusker Kickback, etc.)*

Obama made that promise, but he shouldn’t have. For one thing, the legislature is its own branch, and makes its own decisions on what to broadcast and what not to. But also, because the proposal sounds a lot better as a promise than it would work in reality. Broadcasting negotiations is pretty much counter to what negotiations need to be – at least in the modern world.

Politicians are taking strong stances to appease their voters. Republicans, in particular, get tons of heat (from the public, usually after being wound up by Rush or Beck) when they deviate from the party line. Democrats get it from the other side, from groups like MoveOn and DailyKos (nowhere near as powerful or influential as Rush, but they do exert some pressure). And neither side wants compromise of any sort – they treat any bending of principles as a deep loss.

But negotiation needs compromise. There needs to be a place where legislators can speak to each other off the record, so that they can each give a little without getting attacked by their respective bases. Broadcasting everything would have given the entire process over to the town-hall chaos of last August.

With healthcare, there wasn’t a lot of compromise between parties in the end. But from the start, the bill incorporated a lot of Republican ideas. If it hadn’t, it would have truly been government-run healthcare, a single-payer Medicare for All. That’s the liberal ideal, and it was compromised from the get-go, and compromised again with the loss of the public option. The individual mandate that some Republicans are now complaining about as unconstitutional is another Republican idea. The final bill looks a lot like what Mitt Romney instituted in Massachusetts; I’ve heard it also looks quite a bit like what Republicans counterproposed in the 90s as an option to HillaryCare, but I haven’t looked into that.

Anyway, I suspect that one of the biggest problems in Congress is that the whole thing is a stage, and there’s too little private time for negotiation and compromise. There are so many opportunities to shout, “Hell, no, you can’t!” and too few opportunities to sit down away from the cameras, and figure out how to make something work without either party losing face over it.

Which assumes that either party would want such a result; the big problem is that it runs counter to a guiding Republican philosophy, articulated by Reagan: That government itself is the problem. It’s hard to negotiate for success when one of the parties is founded on the notion that government can’t succeed, and must be stopped. (I’m sure Republicans have a similar narrative about why it’s impossible to negotiate with Democrats, but they sure seem to have an easier time finding Dems to back their bills than Dems do finding Republicans.)

As for Cafferty’s claim that Pelosi’s congress isn’t the cleanest in American history, fair enough. That’s another awfully big promise to have made, and like Obama's in many ways, one that's not entirely in her control. But even with the Rangel, Massa, and Paterson scandals (who isn’t in Congress, but lets throw him in), it’s certainly cleaner than the last Republican-run congress (with Foley, Cunningham, Ney, Lewis, Vitter, Craig, Ensign, and more, all the way down to the Professor and Mary Anne). I agree she should be more proactive in punishments, and get ahead of these scandals, but there’s little else she can do beyond that – other than not promising to be the “cleanest in history” again.

Then again, she just herded 220 cats – twice – to pass the most sweeping government program since Medicare. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t inclined to cut her a little slack. Process is nice, but results are what last.


*Actually, watching it again I realize that this was right after the Senate passed its bill (and, as I guessed, right around the time of all the anger at the last bit of armtwisting to get 60 votes was cresting). I’m not sure what Cafferty thinks the upside of negotiating publicly with the Republicans would have achieved at that point that couldn’t be more efficiently done by just allowing a staffer to hold up a sign that said “No!” every so often.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Oh Hell Yes.

And thankfully, the last volume of the book is coming out in June!


Into the Maelstrom

This image (I decided not to boost it, so go see!) was absolutely one of the brightest spots of yesterday for me. The Legion's newest artist, Yildiray Cinar, posted an image of the Legion fighting one of the Titans' major villains, Trigon the Terrible. What knocks me out about this -- aside from the linework and style and all-around awesomeness of the image itself -- is that in 1982, in one of the only fan letters to comics I ever wrote, I guessed that Trigon was the mystery bad guy in The Great Darkness Saga that was being published at the time.

It wasn't him, of course -- but I always wanted to see the Legion face off against him, just the same. This piece -- a sample image Cinar created before starting the book -- might be the closest I ever get. But it's close enough to thrill 13-year-old me!


Terror Firma

Talking Points Memo has put together an interactive map compiling the acts of vandalism against Democratic representatives and their families. Right now, there are six incidents listed, but I would be surprised if it doesn't get updated. There have been widespread reports about Congressmen receiving death threats, as well, but so far they're not on the map.

Teabaggers aren't evil. They're acting like thugs, but they're not evil, per se. They're just scared out of their (limited) wits and are lashing out at anyone their leaders tell them is a threat. Beck, Limbaugh & the rest have got them feeling terrified and cornered, so there's really only one option in the fight-or-flight response.

If the government had been taken over unlawfully, what would you do? If they were going to round up people like you and put you in internment camps, what would you do? If someone were going to kill your grandmother, or your baby, what would you do?

You'd fight. Tooth and nail, you'd fight.

None of those things are happening, but that doesn't make the threat of Armageddon any less real for the gullible and the paranoid. All the lies Fox and the Republicans been telling their audience have been leading to this. Death panels, socialism, fascism, revolution. This is what Beck, Limbaugh, Palin, Boehner, Bachmann, King and the rest have been feeding them. This is the swill they've been living on.

They say guns don't kill people; people kill people. Maybe so. Certainly if you're smart, and unscrupulous, you don't need a gun. Not when you've got access to so many frightened, angry people -- people you've already invested so much energy into frightening and angering. Who needs a gun? Just aim the crowd in the general direction, and someone's bound to get hurt.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dead Eye

Here’s a photo of a target I punched a few holes in the other day, with a Sig Sauer 9mm.

Burglars beware! I’m getting better with a handgun! So, if I ever get one:

a) you’ll be sorry,
and b) we’ll finally have an excuse to replace the carpet.

On the other hand, I have literally forgotten how to aim a shotgun. Big Dutt and I split a box of clays at the range, but between last year and this, I’d forgotten the one lesson I have to relearn each time: Which eye to close when looking down the barrel at the bead. While looking out the wrong eye, I couldn’t line up the bead to the target, so I naturally couldn’t follow it as it flew. A good six clays flew by, with no interference from shot at all, before my instructor caught my problem. I think I pegged a couple after that, but I was trounced by Dutton, who really blasted the hell out of them.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ain't That America.

Naturally, I'm in a fine mood about Heath Care Reform being signed into law (fingers crossed for the reconciliation fix), but I'm not quite ready to talk about that. Instead, I wanted to look back at an idiom that I've had in my vocabulary since high school.

Sometimes, you just gotta Paint the Mother Pink.

Here's a commercial for a contest MTV ran in 1984, the MTV Party House, in which they gave away a house in Bloomington, Indiana, and, in honor of Bloomington native John Cougar Mellencamp's song "Pink Houses," everybody would get together and "paint the mother pink," as Mellencamp says at the end of the commercial. And because he says it so distinctively (and also, because calling anything a "mother" was rare on TV in 1984), it became a catchphrase of sorts.

The thing is, it also kind of merged with another phrase, extrapolated from Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Here's a passage about the Somebody Else's Problem field, which lets people ignore problems that aren't their own, since they conflict with reality as they expect it:

The Somebody Else's Problem field is much simpler and more effective, and what's more can be run for over a hundred years on a single torch battery. This is because it relies on people's natural disposition not to see anything they don't want to, weren't expecting, or can't explain. If Effrafax had painted the mountain pink and erected a cheap and simple Somebody Else's Problem field on it, then people would have walked past the mountain, round it, even over it, and simply never have noticed that the thing was there.

And lo, someone -- a buttonmaker at a sci-fi convention, no doubt -- shortened all that to "Paint it pink and call it somebody else's problem." And "Paint it pink" has sort of stuck around in that context, but among the first MTV generation? It's "Paint the mother pink."

Anyway, maybe that's why this is coming to me today. Healthcare reform has been signed into law, which, as Joe Biden reminds, us, is a "big fucking deal." And perhaps the biggest part of that big fucking deal is that, suddenly, for all of us who have health insurance that we're currently happy with, there are 30 million soon-to-be-insured Americans who are, astonishingly, no longer pink.


Friday, March 19, 2010


Just combined all my chapters so far into one document. 100 pages exactly, single-spaced. More than 42,000 words.

Looks like I should stop stalling and get to the halfway point, eh?


Today at the Coffee Shop

On the sofas and easy chairs in the front of the coffee shop, there’s a guy in a bluetooth talking loudly to three well-dressed, good looking younger people, possibly about real estate. At first I thought it was some sort of facilitated speed-dating deal, which seemed odd for 9:30 in the morning. Now, it looks more likely that he’s trying to rope them into some real estate buy. Seems more like an investment than a house—his cadence was more businesslike than the comforting hominess (“Picture yourself spending the next step of your life here…”) home realtors try to project. Instead, he projected that smug aura that I really despise in a salesperson: the certainty that only a shortsighted idiot would pass up what he was offering. He said something about some people not having the guts to change their lives. Between his body language and his overall demeanor, I wouldn’t buy so much as a lemon from the guy.

On the plus side, I just closed the door on Chapter 20.


A Crash Course in Kurosawa

TCM is suddenly showing a whole lot of Akira Kurosawa movies; if you haven't seen them (as I haven't), you might want to set your Tivo. Included in the bunch are well-known movies like Rashomon, Yojimbo and Seven Samurai, as well as lesser-known movies like I Live In Fear, Scandal, Drunken Angel, and one I'm really looking forward to, Stray Dog. From what I understand, Stray Dog is about a cop who loses his gun in the line of duty, and has to track it down again. I first heard about it on the Filmspotting podcast, which recently had a Kurosawa marathon.

I can't watch all of them, but I've got a few on the agenda. I've just started watching I Live In Fear, about an industrialist who's worried about a nuclear holocaust and wants to movie his family down to South America. (This is 1955 Japan, so "worried about a nuclear holocaust" isn't necessarily shorthand for paranoid; it's like being worried about a terrorist attack in 2010 New York.) Coming up for me are Stray Dog, Yojimbo, and possibly a judo film I can't recall the name of if I can squeeze it in. I've already seen Seven Samurai, but I still won't have seen Rashomon, since its showing conflicts with Lost. From what I can tell, TCM isn't showing Throne of Blood or Ran, unless I've already missed them.

The first was I've caught has been 1957's The Lower Depths, a movie set in absolute squalor. It's based on a play by Russian author Maxim Gorky, and it follows a group of drunks, beggars, thieves and low-level merchants in this one decrepit boarding house. The version I saw had very modern subtitles, which I would bet are from a recent translation. It took a while for me to get some of the characters straight, but when I did, it was very rewarding. The landlady is trying to convince the thief (Toshiro Mifune) to kill her husband; there's some intrigue from that, but there's a counterbalancing force, in an old priest (Bokuzen Hidari)who comes to live with the group, and starts showing them a little hope, and teaching them a little self-worth. But when things start to really go to hell, the priest makes a surprising move, setting up one of the bleakest endings I've ever seen. This play was also filmed by Renoir two decades earlier, although its ending was apparently softened considerably. Oh, those romantic French. Criterion sells both films in a 2-disc set.

Anyway, if Kurosawa is a gap in your filmic experience, you might want to check your listings for TCM. There's some good stuff on.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Like Star Wars? Like Parks and Rec?

Here's 22 seconds you won't regret.

(And for anyone who dismissed Parks and Recreation after its first season, give it another try. If nothing else, for Ron F***ing Swanson.)


Abusement Park

Last weekend, Kathy and I headed south to the Monster-Mania horror convention, hooking up with a friend we hadn't seen in years, and eventually sharing an elevator with Gary & Jake Busey. (I get the feeling that if Gary Busey crosses your path, you're jinxed, but I crossed paths with him a second time, hopefully nixing the jinx.)

While we were there, we went to the premiere screening of an as-yet-unreleased film, Closed for the Season. It wasn't remotely good. Which is fine -- sometimes (especially with horror films) "good" isn't precisely what you're looking for.

But what you're looking for is usually better than this.

It's a haunted amusement park story, with Aimee Brooks as The Girl, Damien Maffei as The Guy, and Joe Unger as The Carny. (The character's names are actually Kristy, James, and...  well, the Carny, but they're hardly names you need to know.) Apparently the amusement park is angry at being abandoned after a kid flew off a roller coaster 20 years ago and impaled himself on a tree and just lay there with a severed spine for hours (days?), and years ago Kristy lost a stuffed teddy bear there, and... hell, there's no way to explain this. The movie tries, every now and then, and when it does, it becomes impossible to focus. If you try too hard, your brain will turn into Mike and Ikes.

What's happening is that the amusement part is making Kristy and James hallucinate horrible things that they were afraid of in the amusement park when they were kids. There's the Lake Monster, the alligator wrestler, the notion that mobsters buried people under the rides. There's the giant Civil War soldier who hung people high up in trees until their flesh was picked clean and they became just bones, bleaching in the sun. And there's the creepy carny, dressed like a (creepy) clown. Sometimes he has a backup band.

All the hallucinations give the filmmaker (writer-directer Jay Woelfel) an opportunity to film all the gore scenes he wants (such as, say, an alligator ripping off someone's leg) without having to deal with any of the consequences. Problem is, when these events have no consequences, they also lose any of their effect on the audience. What's the point of watching, if nothing that happens matters? Furthermore, with all the emphasis on disorientation -- the characters are always trying to escape the park, but it never lets them -- it would be good to have some sort of handle on what the baseline reality is. Without that, the action becomes a confusing, muddled mess.

Complicating matters, at some point the characters split off into their own evil selves (in evil clown makeup, natch). In a completely unnecessary scene , we get to see Good Kristy getting raped by Bad James and the Carny, while Bad Kristy (and later, Good Kristy, because it's a hallucination) look on. (Also, her beloved stuffed bear gets kinda rape-y, as well.) This scene only exists--like most scenes in Closed for the Season, it has no bearing on the plot--because the writer/director thought it would be awesome. It's not. It's simply a gratuitous and ugly scene in what is otherwise a nonsensical, unentertaining trifle.

Plus: It's two hours long. It goes on and on, and every ending is a false one. Just when you think they've ridden all the rides and visited all the attractions, there's one more thing they have to check off their haunted to-do list. Their ride on the Ferris wheel -- earlier described as "the world's fastest" -- had all the excitement of cleaning the gutters, but none of the danger. If I'd had a box of Sno-Caps with me, I would have used the nonpareils to saw away at my own wrists.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Missed a Few Days

I'll be catching up on my posts (I missed Sunday and Monday) soon. Long story short: Sunday, we had a friend stay over, and I chose to be social (and watch Dead Snow, with Nazi zombies), and then yesterday I spent the day editing in the city, followed by a train that got stopped on the track while waiting for a fire to clear south of us. A long day, believe me, and one that ended up with me realizing I was getting sick. So now I'm home, and sick, and I think I'll watch a movie. But here, for you, is the trailer to Dead Snow. Because Nazi zombies, that's why.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Of All the Horrible Things You Can Do To a Person...

...one of the cruelest is being turned into a lining for a glove.

Won't someone put a stop to this?


Friday, March 12, 2010

Hey, I Just Found The Year 2000's Internet in the Back of the Fridge!

Just ran my name through the Wu-Tang Clan name generator. My Wu name is "Inebriated Assistant."

That is all.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Coffee Shop Time Machine

Another low-content day for me, here at LATP central. But just so I don't totally check out, I should mention I bumped into an old friend at the coffee shop this morning, which was a great surprise. After having some breakfast with him and his daughter, I opened up my laptop at my usual table and listened to a crowd of eight old men talk about what would win in a fight: an alligator, a crocodile, or a panther. Passionate arguments were made; it got quite heated.

So: a visit from my past, and a glimpse of my future.

Anyway, here's something funny for you to watch, as the Onion once again deconstructs TV news.

I'm an old guy, so you know you can trust me.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

An Update

Regarding my plan of last week. So far, so good. On the days when I haven't been going into the city to freelance -- and even one day when I did -- I've woken up early (for me), showered, gone to the coffee shop, and made some progress for my book. There's a new character I've just introduced, who seems incidental, but might not be, and I've made a couple of plot breakthroughs I didn't see coming, either. And somehow, I still haven't written the seance that's coming up. But I will, I will.

So that's good. I also made myself a commitment to start a new Twitter feed. It's called Your Daily Lie, and it stems from the realization that one of my favorite things in life is to lie to children. Well, to everyone, really, but it's a specific type of ridiculous lie that no one would ever believe, and it works best when explaining things to children. The sort of lie Calvin's dad would tell him in the Calvin & Hobbes strips ("Up until 1935, the world used to be in black and white," that sort of thing). It looks like I can manage at least one of these a day, so I figure it's safe to tell you about it.

Also, I promised myself I'd do a blog post every day through March. Hence, mere moments before a postless day draws to a close, this update.


P.S. Also, check this out: Old Jews Telling Jokes!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Put. The Doggie. Down.

So the other night, we're playing Pathfinder -- an offshoot of Dungeons and Dragons that rejects the 4th edition changes and revises the rules more in the 3.0/3.5 tradition, not that you care, or even understand what I just said -- and pal Dave noticed a listing for a weapon called a Dog Slicer. Which made us wonder, and kinda gag. (It also made us talk about how sliced hot dogs can really blimp up in a microwave, and reminded me of these Frankfurterstein machines that would electrocute your wiener, cooking it from the inside. (Remember those babies? My grandmother had one; a 70s-era model, though, not this space-age marvel.)

Anyway, mystery solved: the dog slicer is apparently a goblin weapon, named for pretty much what you'd think:

Dog Slicer: A savage weapon created from castoff bits of sharpened waste metal, goblins named these small swords after the act for which they're most commonly employed. Holes drilled in the blade make them easier to heft by enthusiastic but weak-armed murderers. Most dog slicers are size Small. 
Of course, the other thing that leapt to mind when I first heard the name of this weapon is the one and only Dogwelder, of the Section Eight superteam from Hitman.

God, I miss that book.


Monday, March 08, 2010

Eavesdropp'd a Bomb

Overheard today in Cooper Square. Dude yelled into his cell phone: "Phillip Seymour Hoffman is WHATing your mom?"

I figured the guy was trawling to see what sort of attention he could get.

i just kept walking, but now, with this blog entry, he belongs to eternity.


Oscar Grouch

For all the bitching I did about not getting to see the Oscars last night, I should note that I was actually able to see most of them: Cablevision & ABC settled (I've heard rumors of a little FCC armtwisting) and the signal resumed 15 minutes into the broadcast. Right after the opening sequence, which I need to get around to seeing. But happily, Kathy & I were able to sit on the couch and watch the awards.

Not that the show was great, by any means. I really liked the tribute to John Hughes, and there were a couple of great speeches (Sandra Bullock's was funny, and I completely agree that Christoph Waltz won the unberbingo -- I was thinking the same thing). And the uncomfortable hijacking of the mic during the Short Doc award speech for Music By Prudence was certainly memorable. But for all bitched about not seeing the show, I can't say it was worth the anger.

Here's Alan Sepinwal's take on it. I agree with every word of his criticism of Hamish Hamilton, particularly the stuff about the reaction shots. No shot of Clooney during Bullock's speech? No Streep?

And one more link for you: If you want to see the winning animated short, Logorama, click here. (Thanks to the archive of Roger Ebert's Oscar tweets.)


Sunday, March 07, 2010

So Much For The Fucking Oscars

Cablevision and ABC/Disney are in negotiation about the price of carrying ABC. Not a cable channel -- the basic ABC channel, which has Lost, Modern Family, Cougar Town and tonight (no coincidence) the Academy Awards. And as a negotiating tactic, ABC has shut the signal down.

This happened earlier this year, with the Food Network. It was resolved in a few weeks, but for a little while, we had no access to Good Eats, etc. So we already know that Cablevision are giant douchebags.

This is definitely a dick move by ABC. They've got a popular show that most people like to watch live, so they pulled their signal right beforehand as strongarm tactics. Who knows if Cablevision will back down. If I were them, I certainly wouldn't.

I don't know how cable works everywhere, but here? They're the only game in town. We have some choices for Internet, but if we want cable, we've got to go through Cablevision. So our only response as consumers angry at the preemption of some of our favorite shows is to cancel our cable... cutting off all of our favorite shows. (With the preponderance of TV available on the internet and DVD, I'm honestly considering it.)

If there were some alternate provider, who was carrying the Oscars tonight? You can bet Cablevision would be carrying them, too. Because they couldn't risk a mass defection. As it is, they're risking nothing but goodwill -- which they don't need, because they're the only game in town.


PS. I just couldn't find any suitable Oscar imagery to go with this post. Google Image search terms included: Oscar statue broken, Oscar statue in toilet, Oscar statue in trash, Oscar statue stolen, Oscar statue defaced, Oscar statue satirical, Oscar statue up someone's ass. NOTHING. Who knew Oscar was such a sacred institution? Will Academy members issue death threats to newspapers who print anything but an official image of Hollywood's favorite sex toy? When did Google become a Dutch newspaper?

Not the Senior Citizen's Discount... But Close

Last night, Kathy & I went out to dinner with our nephew, Bill, at the restaurant where his girlfriend works. We had a delicious meal, as we always do there, even if mine was out-of-control spicy. (Totally my fault. Well... maybe 90 percent my fault.) But when the bill came, it was half of what we expected. Bill says, "Oh, yeah -- Ashley told them you're her parents so you could get the family discount."

So we did what any responsible people would do. We told our daughter we were very proud of her, and left her a nice tip.

But the next time I'm posing as someone's dad, I'm bringing a pipe.


Saturday, March 06, 2010

Day Ain't Over Yet.

Only a few minutes left in Saturday -- hardly enough time for a proper blog post. But here's a little odd something for your viewing pleasure.


Friday, March 05, 2010

Don't Go Near The Light

I won't have much time to blog today, but I wanted to get a post in. I noticed this morning (after a night of drinking and karaoke; turns out REO Speedwagon's "Take It On the Run" is a little too trebbly for me) that I literally chase myself into the shower. I wake up, head to the bathroom, and turn on the light inside the shower (with the curtain drawn) while I brush my teeth in the dim light. Then, when it's time to actually shower, I flip two switches, turning the shower light off and the main bathroom light on. Then, like Gregor Samsa, I go scuttling for the dark.


Thursday, March 04, 2010

Jingle Balls, Jingle Balls

Considering all the medicine that Gus has taken, I'm naturally a little concerned now that he's mostly off the meds. Especially since, although he was up and about when I left for the coffee shop this morning, he was dead tired, and extremely tough to rouse, once I got home and it was time to set the weasels free and give them their medicine. But when I finally took him out of his cube hammock (not so easy do do; it's much easier for him to climb out himself), he ran around like a good little guy. I scattered his jingly balls around the room, and he gamely gathered them up and brought them back to the corner he prefers they stay. And now, up here, I can hear him playing with them, lying on his back clutching a jingle ball to his tummy, batting it with his paws and making it ring. A happy, happy sound.

One more ferret medicine story and I might move on to something else:

The second day of giving Gus the bacteria-building paste, I put it on my finger and let Gus lick it off. (The first day, I hadn't realized it was paste and tried to squirt it directly into his mouth. It was like I was caulking the poor guy.) Gus enjoyed it, and happily lapped it up. Problem was, She-Devil was up and about, too, and wanted to get at it as well. I kept her away until almost the last of it was gone, but figured as a nutritional supplement, it wouldn't do her any harm, and let her have a taste. She loved it too, and battled Gus for the very last tiny glob on my finger.

As paste, it didn't disappear immediately, and she kept licking her lips. And Gus could now detect more of it on She-Devil than on my finger, she he started licking her, too. And for a moment, their tongues were out of their mouths, licking each other's tongues. Full-on ferret tongue-on-tongue porno kissing.

I don't think I've ever seen something so creepy and adorable at the same time.


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Gus, You Can Exhale Now

We had a bit of a scare before the Mardi Gras party. Our ferret Gus was listless, and lacked his customary energy. So during our first big prep night, Kathy took him to the emergency vet, and got what amounted to an "I dunno" and some antibiotics. The next morning, I took him to our regular vet in Ridgefield Park. (She-Devil came along too; they needed their distemper shots anyway.)

After running some tests, the doctor told us that Gus had some blood in his stool, and very little of the bacteria that allow his intestines to work. He gave us a host of medicines: an antibiotic, something to settle his stomach, and some bacteria builders. The schedule was complicated: one thing he was to get once a day, another, twice, and two things three times a day.

Medicating a ferret when he doesn't want to be medicated can be tough. She-Devil is on medication, and is docile and pleasant, happy to get a treat afterward. Gus, on the other hand, trusted us less and less the more medicine he'd get. He peed on Kathy twice in a row when she tried to administer the antibiotic. "Yours!" she shouted.

I'd hold him, scruffed, away from me so he couldn't try the peeing tactic on me. He would swing his body like a pendulum, shaking to get away from the antibiotic, which clearly tasted horrible. It was like he was doing the twist in mid-air, except with claws. A lot of claws.

There was another medicine, sulcrafate, that didn't taste quite as bad (it seemed), but was still awful -- and worse yet, it was in a bulb dropper instead of a press syringe. There's no way to control the pace that the dropper expels its liquid -- especially when you only have a split second to make it happen. Gus would open his mouth, I'd put the tip of the dropper inside, and squeeze before he could push it away. He hated it, and no wonder: I was practically waterboarding him. For his own good, but it's not like I could explain that to him.

Anyway, that's all over. Gus is in much better spirits now, and much more active. We stopped the antibiotic after 10 days, and the sulcrafate has run out. (Another drawback to the bulb-dropper-built-into-the-cap system -- you can't close the bottle until the medicating is over; I knocked it over and spilled some when I reached for the bottle after Gus had wound me up.) All that's left is some of the bacteria building paste (which he likes) and regular droppers of Vivify (a nutritional supplement that he loves). So he's getting back to trusting us again. And I don't have to feel like a monster three times a day.

(Not sure where our camera is; this old picture of me and Gus will have to do.)

Late Night Post

It's nearly one-thirty a.m. A little earlier than I generally consider a late night, but that's something I'm trying to change. I've been staying up later and later for a while now, turning over almost completely to my night-owl nature. I have very little schedule that I don't make for myself, and that's been taking it's toll. I do freelance work whenever I can, but it doesn't always fill my time. And when I've got nothing to do (or something I can put off), I do what I've always been inclined to do: waste time.

I can't say that's changing for good: I can only say that I've come up with a plan to help me change it, and maybe do myself some good in the process. Tomorrow morning, I'll be waking up early (for me; not early for you, I'm sure) and heading off to the local coffee shop. I'm bringing my laptop, and I'm going to have a cup of coffee and read the last few chapters of the novel I've been working on.

Up till now, I generally tried to sleep in (I say tried to, but it literally takes no effort at all) until Kathy goes to work -- she's not a morning person, and would rather be alone as she prepares for work, so sleeping keeps me out of her way, and it's something I like to do. But it's time to change my pattern. Time to get productive. Time to make things happen like they need to happen in 2010. By the time January rolls around, I want something to show for it.

One more thing: Enough with letting this place lie fallow, too. A post a day, throughout March. Gotta rebuild my habits.