hereticalphysicist
Thursday, March 31, 2005
  Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

So Terry Schiavo is dead, just in time, I guess, for the protestors to dash to the Vatican with their recycled signs saying, "Remove the Tube." That was insensitive.

Anyone who knows me probably knows where I stand on the issue. By law, her husband had the right to make the decision, and his decision had to be upheld, no matter how tragic it seemed. The government can't make exceptions on the law. Surely, no law on this issue is going to appease everybody. I'm definitely on the side of the husband, because he got a really bad rap for having a girlfriend. I wonder if divorce could have been used in this case. Perhaps it's time to for the government to review this law, but any future rulings couldn't have changed this situation. That's the law, and it's harsh, but having the government, like Jeb Bush, intervene in a case where he had no right to seems to open doors for government officials to do that in the future. So that's life: we have to go along with the laws whether we like them or not and hope we can change them for future generations.

Poor Terry Schiavo. Doomed to die from the same reason she had the stroke: starvation. Seems ironic. Is it ironic? I don't even know the meaning of the word anymore. Thanks postmodernists. She was forced to die in a rather cruel manner because of the government's hands-off approach to life and death. Surely a more humane way of letting her go would have been lethal injection. While the government doesn't condone assisted suicide, they do apparently support assisted starvation. Wait, wait, this doesn't mean I'm in favor of the government legalizing assisted suicide, because I can imagine all these cases where the family opts for that for a person who's been in a coma for two months and still has a fighting chance. What a tricky and tragic case. A very uncomfortable situation for a moderate. I'm riding a barbed-wire fence.

What I hope to see, but won't, are articles in women's magazine discussing why Terry Schiavo was in her vegetative state: bulimia. It seems like the perfect time to bring up eating disorders again. I've always hated eating disorder education--you know, fifth period in middle school the school nurse comes and talks about eating disorders and how we're not fat, not one of us, as long as we love ourselves. Good news for the fat kids. But they never discussed what actually happens to you when you are anorexic or bulimic. I'm sure if I had been filled with the horror stories about these diseases, I probably would have been more careful myself.

Last year I was just dying. I was more depressed than I had ever been in my life, and it's the reason I'm still a class away from getting my Columbia degree. It could have been worse. At least it's a physics class I can take anywhere, any time. I was depressed for a lot of different reasons. When it rains, it pours, and I didn't get any sympathy from life last year. So I stopped eating. I'm not sure if it was a conscious choice. I certainly didn't do it because I thought I was fat, because if you saw me now, happy and fat, you'd see I clearly don't have any body issues. I just wasn't hungry, couldn't enjoy food, and didn't care enough about myself to eat it for the nutrition. I hated myself when I ate because I considered it a waste of food, seeing as I thought of myself as a waste of space. I saw all the after school specials about girls who starve themselves, and the only drawbacks seemed to be that it ripped their families apart. I just didn't know. Finally, my hair started coming out in small clumps when I showered, and I had to wrap elastic bands around my ponytail more and more times, because my hair was so thin. My skin flaked off my arms and face and lips because I was so dehydrated, and my contacts just stuck to my eyes like saran wrap. I've always had exceptionally strong teeth, no cavities, but after last year they're very sensitive. I have trouble eating cold and very hot food (not too much trouble). I never went to the bathroom for number 2. When I did eat, it just made me sick to my stomach, so I usually just snacked on mild yogurt. I saw spots and heard noises. Man, I was scared out of my disorder. I think if I'd known how your hair falls out and your teeth rot when you don't eat anything, I'm not sure I would have done it. If I'd known that by puking up your food you can have a stroke, I'd have been a lot more wary. Why don't they tell us these things? They think telling us just that it's mentally unhealthy is enough reason to eat. No, you think you can get as depressed and fucked up as you want and still not die. Being happy doesn't seem like enough of a reason to eat. Well, I'm already depressed, so what's another disorder? What about those girls who think they're fat? I want to tell them that Mike was a lot less attracted to me when my hair was falling out than he is now when I've packed on twenty extra pounds. Seriously, I looked like a crack addict when I was naked. Luckily it didn't last too long, because I couldn't stand having my hair fall out, and no one really noticed it but Mike. I was scared straight.

Actually, I think it was more my recovery than my depression that caused me to opt out of school at the very end (I still haven't taken CU's swimming test). Eventually, maintaining my health and happiness became a full-time endeavor, and to focus on school just took too much energy away from keeping myself alive. I could have finished my classes, gotten decent grades, had my diploma, but it just wasn't worth it. This was hard to explain to my advisor, who was angry at me for not fulfilling one of my imcompletes, but my parents understood.

Sorry for such a depressing and confidential post. I'm just angry that when I open Glamour next month (I'm speaking metaphorically here, because I will not be opening Glamour next month, or the months after that), I'll see an article about the agony Terry Schiavo's parents had to go through, instead of the agony she suffered herself.

Recent Media
The Federalist Papers. I'm done, baby. FUCKING DONE. And now I understand how the government works. 12 years of civics classes, and all I really needed to do was spend a month with our forefathers.
Nancy Grace, on CNN. My mom loves this woman, so I got to see her show while I was there. She's one of those aggressive conservative type talk show hosts, for people who want their news served with a side of aggression. Everytime I mentioned how it's unprofessional to yell at and interrupt your guests and how she's slightly (well, more than slightly but I was talking to my mom here) on the conservative side, Mom would give me Nancy Grace's personal history, like I'd find all the rebuttals there. She was going to be a teacher, but her husband was stabbed to death, so she decided to go to law school, and the whole tragedy made her pretty conservative. I'm not sure why having your husband stabbed would make you want to be a lawyer, because in most stabbing cases, juries rule in favor of the stabbed, and it's not like she has to go on this legal crusade against stabbing. I couldn't watch the show much before getting disgusted. The day they found Jackson's porn magazines, she kept interrupting the lawyers who were saying that the porn might not necessarily be considered. She kept screaming, "These porn magazines and websites contained pictures of teenagers and advertised them as 'barely legal' and 'young and fresh'!" Perhaps she doesn't realize that "teenagers" always refers to 18 and 19 year olds, which Jackson has every right to jerk off to, and usually they're more like 25. "Young and fresh" means you might not recognize their faces from previous websites, and "barely legal" means "entirely legal." One of the Jackson representatives was asked, I think, what was in these magazines, and he said he hadn't looked at them, to which she screamed, "Don't lie! I know you look at porn!" Man, I feel bad for people who like to look at porn, which means I feel bad for like 95% of the world's adult population. Wives who won't have sex with their husbands cry "sex addiction" when they find MILF sites in IE's history and go there thinking it's a dairy website maintained by someone who can't type. Since my mom's typically liberal (or apolitical, more like it), I asked how she could stand Nancy Grace's positions sometimes (personally, I think the best position for Nancy Grace would be bent over a case of toilet paper in a janitor's closet), and she said she just liked the dramatics. I considered this, because I realize news now is more and more hyped up just to make it interesting to the public, with graphics and arguments and big sounds. Then I realized that most of this shit isn't even news, real news, and even the real news, like nukes in North Korea, doesn't really affect the average Okie, so what does it matter what CNN shows and how they show it? It's just enterainment. You try to boil down this Jackson case to real, important facts, and you don't really have anything to put on TV. You'd have to do some creative writing, and with 500 channels to fill with slop, who has time for that?
Choke, Chuck Palahniuk. Choke = Infinite Jest (David Foster Wallace) + Tomcat in Love (Tim O'Brien) - 1100 pages.
Journey to the West. Put it aside for a little bit while I finished up the Fed. Papers.
The Book of Ruth, Jane Hamilton. I gave this book a hard time at first, because I know I'm a sucker for nice covers, which it had, and I figured it was just another one of those nice cover books you find in Borders that are all recommended by Good Morning America's Book Club and are all character driven, because we've run out of plots. I'm also a sucker for the character driven books, just because of an intense, almost obsessive, pornographic, desire to fully know a human being, each human being. I don't know why I think we're all so interesting because there are a lot of us and how many variations can you possibly have? I mean, what's the point in being interested in all these plots and events when they wouldn't have happened without the initiative of a human being. But anyway, I really liked this book. I was expecting the entire book the tragic but anticlimactical ending all these books have where the woman's been given short shrift by everyone in her life, especially her mother and her man, and has to put together the pieces of herself and it's all very internal and emotional. I was not prepared for an actual climax, something so terrible but captured so well that I didn't seem to be reading the words with my eyes but that they went straight through my skull and around my brain. Other books with climaxes like this one: Season of Migration to the North, by Tayeb Salih, and Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, where you have to take a shower afterwards to get out the sweat and thick heat of the jungle and congealed black bile of human desire. One more thing, a quote I liked, just for the wording, the way she said it. I'm a sucker for beautiful language: "I had my name up on the wedding board at the drugstore in Stillwater. It said my wedding date also. I went in there about every day to look at the bulletin board, to see my name in the white letters. Sometimes you need something like that to make sure you're on the planet." 

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Monday, March 28, 2005
  Pretty Jenny, Pretty, Pretty Jenny

I believe it was for her 16th birthday party that my good friend April, of "fish shirt" fame (oh, man, she will never find out about this blog), held a slumber party with about 5 of her friends. I was there, and my friend Al, a strange girl named Jenny (perhaps you have received fallatio from her before), and some other forgettable types. The party was pretty tame--April came from a "Southern Baptist" family. Her mother didn't even like April listening to the Beatles on her clock radio. So we were sitting in a circle in her bedroom playing some kind of innocent game when I farted. SBD. Of course, I didn't say anything and thought it had gone unnoticed. Suddenly, April cried, "Somebody stinks!" Immediately Jenny confessed, "It's me! I have gas." Of all the people there who laughed at her, I laughed the loudest.

Recent Media
The Federalist Papers. #76. Ooh, yeah.
The Book of Ruth, Jane Hamilton. This was on Oprah's Book Club in the very beginning, so to be honest, I thought this was about a poor black girl. Then the narrator kept talking about how her relatives had straight blond hair but she had curly hair, so I thought the deal was this poor black girl stuck with poor white people. Then I realized the narrator is white. I'm terrible. But this book is not. 

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Thursday, March 24, 2005
  'Rents

I'm away at my parents' house this week, which doesn't really excuse my laziness for the better part of this month. I flew in last night, forced to take the red eye sitting behind a fat kid passing gas and his snoring father. I sat next to a nice woman, and during particularly bad turbulence, she passed me some gum. Feeling like I should say somehing other than, "Gee, thanks," I held up the piece of gum and said, "You know, airplane breath." She didn't hear me at first, so I had to repeat it. She just said, "Hm."

My parents are new age-y born-again Christian stoners. That's all you need to know about them for now. Anyway, here's a long Recent Media section, because I know at least Mike likes it a lot.

Recent Media
Federalist Papers, The
American Movie, Chris Smith, dir. Man, these people are for real. A lone genius in a Midwestern wasteland.
Gold Rush, Miri Yu. Someone in the Japanese Bureau of Tourism should ban Miri Yu's books from being translated into English, because this book is fucked up.
Journey to the West, Vol. I, Anthony C. Yu, trans. The Santa Barbara public library only has the first two volumes of this four-part set, so I'm just going to have to assume they made it to the west.
The Sky Unwashed, Irene Zabytko. It's about the people living in the village near Chernobyl when it had the meltdown. Everyone gets cancer and dies. Oops, I gave it away.
The Tragic Menagerie, Lydia Zinovieva-Annibal.
Mannequin, Michael Gottlieb, dir., 1987. How far Kim Cattrall and James Spader have come!
Anchorman, Adam McKay, dir., 2004.
Nanny 911. I don't know how I ended up watching this but Ho-Ly Shit! This couple had adopted twins, then had twins by in vitro, then finally had twins naturally. You'd think after two sets of twins they wouldn't even desire a fifth kid, let alone a sixth, so I bet the last twins were accidents. I kind of wanted kids in the future before I saw this, but now I don't.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Oh, man, this is the most fun game ever. I love slashing the prostitutes with a chain saw.
Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen.
Jane magazine. Jane is for shallow women who went to small liberal arts colleges, or the New School. Cosmo is for shallow women who went to state schools. Vogue is for shallow women who went to Ivy League colleges. And Better Homes and Gardens is for shallow women who stayed home.
Playboy, April 2005. Whoa, wear some safety goggles when you turn to page 134. Also, a joke: What do you call a blond with two brain cells? Pregnant. 

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Saturday, March 05, 2005
  Cow Bella

[Man, this post was a real bug in my ass. I've never had such a severe case of writer's block in my life. This one goes out to Mary Jane.]

The cowbell enrages me. The dull thonk of a stick upon one of the dumb, impassive faces of that ignoble pyramidal frustum (thanks, Wolfram) haunts me, interferes between me and the music I love. Can I blame Blue Oyster Cult for this? Yes.

Blue Oyster Cult has always been the reason I hate the cowbell, although the nature of the hatred has evolved, matured over the years. In the beginning, "Don't Fear the Reaper" was the only manifestation of the cowbell's malevolent presence in my life. I could change the station or turn the radio off. The song is maddeningly catchy, but even then, the melody remained in my mind, but not the rhythm. Then came the infamous "More Cowbell" sketch on Saturday Night Live. Christopher Walken plays the producer for Blue Oyster Cult, and Will Ferrell is the cowbell player. They just can't seem to get "Don't Fear the Reaper" right, until Walken calls for "more cowbell." Perhaps America was won over by the total abandon with which Ferrell pours himself into tapping that moronic instrument. Whatever it was, the sketch launched the cowbell into popularity, including a group of loyal followers, The Cowbell Project.

Once I took a Caribbean music class at Columbia, taught by one of the finest professors there and an excellent jazz musician, Chris Washburne. In fact, I went to review his band, SYOTOS, for a concert report for the class. My conclusion: Too much cowbell.

There are two exceptions to my distaste for the cowbell: Pink Floyd's Animals and "Sympathy" by Sleater-Kinney. In "Sympathy," the cowbell seems to add to the rawness of the song, like maybe she couldn't afford an instrument that didn't hang from the neck of a farm animal. It complements her desperate pleas, where she wails like she has a dry tampon jammed down her esophagus.

Pink Floyd's use of the cowbell on Animals is without fault. Whatever they were trying to accomplish with the cowbell, I couldn't possibly comprehend, and it's not my place to question Pink Floyd's methods. Besides, using a cowbell on an album named Animals is entirely appropriate.

Well, that's about all I had to say. The juice ran out. Only able to compose straightforward factual statements now.

Recent Media
Still, The Federalist Papers. #61: The Same Subject Continued (Hamilton).
The War of the Flowers, Tad Williams. I still think the title is just retarded, but I had a favorable impression of the book overall when I finished it.
What's Up Doc?, Peter Bogdanovich, dir., 1972. Cliche, but quite funny. Barbara Streisand, cute as a button.
Cards on the Table, Agatha Christie.
Death on the Nile, Agatha Christie. Hercule Poirot says that when a murder kills once, it becomes easier for him or her to kill again and again. I say that when an author kills one character, it becomes easier for her to kill again and again, because like 17 people died in this book.
The Light Fantastic, Terry Pratchett. Can't I write a book at least as good as this one?
Midnight Cowboy, John Schlesinger, dir., 1969. Jon Voight, Dustin Hoffman. See it. 

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005
  The Concert

Oooh, damn. The last time I posted was 11 days ago, and before that, a week. What's up with me? Not writer's block--I've got whole posts written in my head. Extreme lethargy. EXTREME LETHARGY!!!

My last post was kind of offensive, and I don't like to leave those kind of posts the very first thing you see on the page for long. In case you haven't noticed, I usually like to quickly follow up (Ecce! I embrace the split infinitive) anything offensive with something fluffy that will maintain the minimum amount of respect people need to have for me in order to not repel everyone I know.

Last weekend I went to see Pinback in San Diego with Mike and our friends Ryan and Steve. It was an awesome drive. The landscape is just so foreign out here. I feel like I'm on another planet. The drive was the main reason I was pumped about the concert--Pinback hadn't really done much for me when I heard the CD, but I was optimistic that a live performance might change my mind.

After the concert, I've decided that Pinback is the result of If They Mated: The Lollipop Guild + Philip Glass, a la Einstein on the Beach. Their music is overly sentimental while at the same time emotionally stultifying. The only song they have that keeps me from a slack-jawed, glossy eyed fugue is the radio hit "Fortress," which they played at double speed like they just wanted to get it done. That's bad band etiquette, I think.

They encouraged us to get up and dance in the aisles (we were in a theatre), but I think that only applied to the people on the ground floor, because we were in the back row of a nauseatingly steep balcony. I'm pretty sure if I'd started dancing, I would have gotten dizzy and puked, like at Masada.

It wasn't the worst concert I've ever been to, but it was definitely not anywhere near the best. The best concert, I think, was Rainer Maria and Ted Leo (and Pharmacists), opening, at Northsix, in Brooklyn. It was the concert where the lead singer of Rainer Maria, Caithlin, lost her voice. Rainer Maria kept touring after that, but I think it was just the two guys, and who would really go to see that? So in the middle of the show, she just stops singing. They all feel really bad about having to send us home early, so Ted Leo gets back up on stage. They start taking request from the audiences and playing impromptu covers, like "Dancing in the Dark." Seeing Ted Leo sing "Dancing in the Dark" with Rainer Maria was totally hot. TOTALLY HOT!!!

Recent Media
Federalist Papers. Where was I last time? #43? Yeah, that's about where I am now, too.
Confessions of an Opium Eater, de Quincy. This book is not dishy and not interesting.
Widow for One Year, John Irving. I actually liked this book more than Hotel New Hampshire. It's not as fantastical, for one thing, even though the characters are unbelievably disfunctional. The story's a little better--there's better action. The characters aren't as superficial or cookie-cutter. He does leave one end hanging right out there, though, and it still pisses me off.
Mike's TA Evaluation. This is dish.
The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett.
The War of the Flowers, Tad Williams. I highly recommend his Otherland series to any other scifi/fantasy dorks (ouch, it hurts to identify myself this way) out there. But this book starts stupid (the title) and gets alternately less stupid and more stupid along the way. My impression is still favorable, but I'm wary of the remaining 400 pages. 

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The story of how I became a very, very bad physicist. But not really.

Other People's Business

Mike (the boy)
Al
Al's portfolio (give her a job)
Christian
Jenny
Paul
Rod
Tia
Todd


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