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Like the demons in Buffy

Posted by Stanley
on 02.18.12

[guest post: tierce de lollardie]

Watching Mike Dibb's programme for the BBC about a virtuoso jazz saxophonist confronted with Parkinson's Disease (Barbara Thompson -- Playing Against Time) at a screening last year, I realised that (a) I wanted to write something about music, poetry, Parkinson's and my dad, ideally to coincide with its broadcast, and (b) I wanted to explore and set down my thoughts about the individual coping strategies we develop when faced with the opaque yet pitiless generalities of medical science; the entirely rational role that magical thinking plays in living with certain conditions. This is what I wrote.

The programme broadcasts on BBC4, Sunday 19 February (9-10.15pm in UK time), but should then be viewable on the net by BBC iplayer.


 

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Frothy mixtures. It's what's for breakfast.

Posted by Apostropher
on 02.17.12

Happy Saturday morning to you, intrepid threadmonkeys! The weekend's here and you know what that means, because I warned you back on Monday. So meet me downstairs and we can eye one another's furtive goods, if you know what I mean. I'll even show you mine first.

Incidentally, the first two pages of hits on google for "it's what's for breakfast" are: science, fried chicken, chocolate, rat, cereal, meditation, floss, walking therein, cake, pizza, pork, nurdles, beer, content curation, ketchup, cake again, beef, dessert, and Twinkies. Which does kinda resemble Shoney's, if you throw in some vats of eggs and grits.

In the meantime, while I was dimly aware that there exists a reality show called Toddlers & Tiaras covering the child pageant scene, I never felt compelled to learn any more about it than just that. So I didn't. Then I saw this clip and, brothers and sisters, I was boggled. Also.


 

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Various

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.17.12

It's hard to pick between Mitt and Santorum, but it sure is fun to try. Overall, I'm rooting for Mitt so that the focus of the election will be income inequality and how shitty it is to be poor in this country. (True fact: first I wrote "poor in this company.")

Major buzzkill Thorn sends along this article about the shortage of drugs to treat cancer in children.


 

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Fitter, happier, more productive.

Posted by Stanley
on 02.17.12

Ah, there's nothing like quietly filing my taxes over a February cup of coffee to remind myself that (a) 2011 was really quite uneventful and (b) I really ought not wait until April to file every year. I get free money. For free.


 

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Why American Grandparents Have Uncooperative Grown Children

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.16.12

Possibly because they send me this obnoxious article, with a note "Sibling A is the most french, Sibling B is the least french, and you and Jammies are in the middle." Gee, thanks.


 

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ATM - Deferential Wife Edition

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.16.12

JRoth writes in:

So I have a client with a very interesting project. He was all gung ho to get started last fall, but we've spent months trying to get the exterior right, which of course tickles my artistic and ambitious* sides.

Anyway, he's married and his 3rd kid just arrived a week or two ago. A very early meeting occurred at his house with his wife, but she's been otherwise uninvolved. He just recently told me that she seems to be unenthused, at best, about the direction the project has taken. This has me torn.

On the one hand, as a feminist (do I still say "Laydeez" here?), this bugs the shit out of me. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't blink in a role-reversal situation (a wife running the project while the husband is scarcely engaged). I have no insights into their relationship, but they appear to be peers, and she appears to be empowered, if you will (educated, a profession, although I'm not clear on how much she works with 3 kids at home - have I mentioned that she's not really part of the project?). IOW, it's entirely possible that the house is something he cares about and she doesn't, and so it's fine that I'm not hearing her voice.

Point being, I guess, I'm not sure how much of this is my judging their relationship ("they should be partners!") and how much is judging the gender roles ("she should have a say and probably a room of her own"). I don't think there's a real ethical issue here - I'm their architect, not their rabbi. OTOH, I don't really like being part of the problem and/or reinforcing an unhealthy dynamic.

Am I navel-gazing like some sort of navel-gazer, or is there an actual issue here that I should be concerned about rather than using "professionalism" as a screen for not wanting to be bothered?

* this project is potentially a big deal. It is located literally next door to 2 houses by world-famous architects, on an incredibly prestigious road.

Heebie's take:
I'm hung up on the phrase "she seems to be unenthused, at best, about the direction the project has taken." You say you wouldn't blink in a role-reversal, but in that paragraph you use the phrase "scarcely engaged", which is very different.

IMO, you wouldn't care if she were "scarcely engaged (but genial)", and in a role-reversal, you would be concerned if the man seemed to be unenthused about the direction of the project. So yes, I think there's a problem.

You don't need to up-end their dynamic, or make her central to the project, but you do need to get her to put words to her uneasiness. You're their architect (not their rabbi), and it will benefit the entire project if you can identify what she's sensing, and address it. If you can get her to air her concern, you will probably create something that is a better fit for their family.


 

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Maybe it's the sanctimonious tone.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.15.12

One of the sponsor taglines in circulation on our local NPR is "Frost Bank. We believe in doing what's right, even when no one is looking."

For whatever reason, this is the most infuriating tagline ever for me. Maybe it's the firewall between marketing departments and the rest of the company. Maybe it's how the mechanism for capitalism has become marketing departments. Maybe it's how it will actually work, on some level, and sink into people's subconscious that Frost Bank is a bunch of earnest, ethical bankers.


 

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Wise words

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.14.12

"Whenever I feel bad about being single, I go do whatever I want all the time."

- Miah Saint, on Twitter, except now I can't find it so I don't know if I got the quote exactly right.

Point being, fuck Valentine's day and go do whatever you want. For me.


 

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The Comforts of Home

Posted by Stanley
on 02.14.12

On my recent travels to the Inland North, eating lots of pizza was a top priority, and I'd say we were successful, sampling the fare of four different pizza places in four days. A delightful surprise was the discovery of a new pizza topping, by way of my Italian-American aunt: giardiniera.

It was fairly spicy, such that I'd want only one or two slices* before switching to something milder, but hot damn was it delicious. My aunt explained that her uncle who moved to Florida couldn't find good giardiniera there and thus mailed himself a bunch whenever visiting the Chicagolands. (I've looked for it in Virginia, so far finding only a sad, unappetizing jar in the grocery store. But I'll keep looking.)

In any event, the episode reminded me of first moving away from the Great Lakes, and all the products we went to great lengths to source in our new Confederate homeland. An abbreviated list: Sparkle Glass Cleaner, Nature's Seasoning (subsequently became widely available), Fannie May candies, The Patio barbecue sauce, kolacky fruit filling (I forget the brand, but the Virginia stuff was tripe), Old Style beer.

Okay, that last one is a joke, but I did once transport a 24 pack across the country in my trunk, mostly for novelty's sake. And because it was a gift. From my grandfather.

Which brings me to my question: what items do you miss from a former place of residence, and what, if any, zany efforts have you undertaken to acquire said items in your new hometown?

*these are square slices, naturally; roughly 2"x2" each.


 

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Reconstructive surgery

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.14.12

I had a meeting with my oncologist last week. (For those of you who missed the fucking archives, I've got one of the breast cancer genes.) We discussed the future, like having a prophylactic mastectomy after finishing with kids. Which I've known and been okay with for about twelve years.

She brought up reconstructive surgery. When I first knew I'd be having mastectomies, back in my early 20s, I assumed I'd have reconstructive surgery afterwards. When Twisty had breast cancer and didn't have reconstructive surgery, my wee brain nearly exploded with "You can do that?!" It just had never occurred to me. She posted a photo of herself, in a poolside lounge chair, with slanting scars, as chill and blissful as could be, and it seemed like puzzle pieces slid into place.

It still feels right to me to forgo reconstruction. Since it's about eight years, and I'm not the same person, it also seems wise to check in and re-think things through, though. In case I'm just coasting on momentum of a fixed opinion.

The doctor's opinion was that women who forgo reconstruction often later regret it. Their clothes don't fit right, they feel uncomfortable going swimming, and if they put falsies in a bra they wriggle and shift and fall out. These all sound unconvincing to me: surely falsies can be sewn into a bra. Or a swimsuit. I assume I would swim in a tanktop (shirt) and bikini bottom, anyway. Or shorts. Or be creative. Or who cares.

The only situation where it seems like it actually matters is when you want to be sexual and naked. And in the bedroom, isn't the most important thing to be comfortable in your own body? I think, for me, this means forgoing reconstruction.

The doctor asked that I agree to at least meet with the plastic surgeon. (Sure, why not.)

If you're going to have reconstructive surgery, it's best to do it at the time of mastectomy. You don't want to try out being flat for awhile, and assume you can change your mind. So I should check my gut very closely. Am I just super squeamish? The surgeries totally gross me out, especially the one where they take fat from your belly or thighs or back. Josh linked an article a long time describing how supremely painful implant surgeries post-mastectomy are, and the fat-transfer surgeries are said to be worse.

I do have a very weak stomach for blood and guts. I would not want to base my decision on squeamishness.

I'm not really asking for advice, necessarily, but I'm happy to open this up for discussion. I think it's an interesting topic, and one I've been stewing over lately.


 

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Fixing the Mistakes

Posted by Stanley
on 02.13.12

I come before you this evening to confess, apropos of the Grammys thread: I have been autotuned on a musical recording done in a professional studio. It happened almost without my knowing, because they were autotuning everyone, all the time, as a matter of course.

The topic reminds me of a recent trip to that same recording studio (this time with a different band). I was frustrated that I couldn't quite get the drum part perfect for this one song, the one imperfection being a missed bass drum hit where it was extremely crucial. We just copied and pasted another bass drum hit from elsewhere in the track.

Yep, totally cheated. I guess I could have "punched it in", making it slightly more legit, but still sort of cheating.

Intervening in the live recording happens a lot in producing a record, is my point. Autotuning, when used sparingly, doesn't strike me as a glaring exception to that fact about recorded music.


 

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There are rules, see.

Posted by Apostropher
on 02.13.12

I hate industry award shows generally, but The Recognizing Innocuous Acts for Moving Tons of Product to Middle-Aged Suburban Moms Grammy Awards have always been the worst of the bunch. Needless to say, I didn't watch this year's edition. My Facebook feed, however, filled up last night with posts about how this year's show was the Best! Grammys! Evar! I was skeptical since, as a 43-year-old guy, my friends list is pretty heavily populated with the very middle-aged suburban moms that compose the target audience. And god knows I'm not going to subject myself to Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, and Coldplay just to confirm my prejudices. But then an old high school friend posted the following, which proved helpfully confirmatory without my having to watch any &*$%@# Beach Boys whatsoever.

1. Same people win every year.
A running joke is how Clapton or BB King win whether or not they've even recorded anything. And guess what won "Best Surround Sound Album" last night? "Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs (Super Deluxe Edition)". And look who else won, Pat Metheny (his 19th) and Chick Corea (his 18th). Don't tell me voters aren't lazy and just go for name recognition in some of the categories.
2. "Song of the year" vs "Record of the year".
I know the definitions and the differences and it's still stupid.
3. Best New Artist category.
Ridiculously defined as "For a new artist who releases, during the Eligibility Year, the first recording which establishes the public identity of that artist." So congratulations Bon Iver for winning this after 4 years.
4. Reggae category.
If your name is Marley, you win. Congratulations Stephen Marley! Are there any more Marley kids waiting in the wings?

I'm sure the list could be fleshed out yet further. An appended comment that I also endorse: "OTOH, The Walking Dead season opener was a winner. Personally, I'd like to see more mayhem and less egotistical monologues and mourning the dead, especially those who had already been zombies for weeks. And that goes double for the Grammys." Touché. Anyhow, having now constructed a post almost entirely out of other people's words, let me alert the usual suspects (and the rest of you who don't generally enter the derby [but should!]) that a mixtape post will go up this weekend. So you've got a little time to do one up right.


 

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Austin cops

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.12.12

I can't can only imagine how hard it must be to be a single parent, or a parent with an unhelpful partner. Obviously sometimes there are grandparents nearby and strong social support structures, but also plenty of times there aren't. I guess the only guaranteed saving grace is that no stage lasts forever, and the kids will grow into new stresses and challenges and be done with the old ones.

Unrelatedly, Oudemia sent along this link, presumably just for my personal interest since it's in Austin, but I am re-purposing it as blog fodder.* A white grandfather keeps getting stopped by police when walking with his black, five year old granddaughter.

In this incident, the cop escalated things obnoxiously, but the problem is the busybody civillian who feared a kidnapping was in progress. Once the cop gets called in, she has to act like it might really be a kidnapping, and even though the kid says "He's my grandpa", grandfathers do kidnap their grandkids on occasion. Grandfather really just should have given his name and been angry at the anonymous busybody civillian**. (Or not. Either way the five year old is absorbing everything.) Anyway, it gets worse from there.

(Austin PD have had a couple awful incidents of shooting and killing unarmed young men in the last decade. I have no idea how they stack up against police departments in other cities.)

*There have been a couple times where I only realized in hindsight that the person was probably telling me that as a front-page poster I might like the item. Snarkout sent me the Cee Lo Fuck You song a few days before it went viral, and I wrote back "Hey, neat!" And then when it went bigtime I realized that I was supposed to post it. Or should have posted it. We would have beaten the cool kids bigtime with that one.

** Anyone else read this sentence as if it starts with Girlfriend? Girlfriend really just should have played it safe, Girlfriend.


 

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Ask The Scientists

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.12.12

How come my cat can't catch my cold? Our lungs and noses and mouths seem like they function more or less identically; why can't my rhinovirus handle that kind of environment? In general, why is it so hard for diseases to jump species?

The scientists in the audience should take this as a general prompt to go on and on about interesting stuff.


 

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