Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/.
Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)
Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)
Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains
Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away
Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains
A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right
Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains
Life(?) of Trillian
Saturday, November 01, 2003
Tricks. Treats. What's so wrong with that?
Over the past few years a strong and growing movement has gained momentum. There are increasing numbers of parents who do not allow their children to partake in anything remotely Halloween because it is evil and the work of the devil and by God they are not going to let their cherubic progeny be soiled and tainted with this evil ritual.
Many schools do not allow children to wear costumes to school. From a safety standpoint there is some credibility, unsafe costumes are not good, and an obvious risk most schools would rather not assume. Fair enough. Set a few safety guidelines, as many schools have done for many, many years. Problem solved.
But because there are one or two children who are not allowed to recognize Halloween in any form, entire schools are not allowed to recognize Halloween. These are public schools. Some have opted for "Harvest Celebrations" as a politically correct alternative to appease non-Halloweening parents and children.
If you do not want your child to celebrate Halloween, put them in a private school where all the other children are not allowed to celebrate Halloween.
Removing costumes, parties and Halloween themed activities at school isn't going to make it go away. The kids will still don costumes, go trick or treating, and will talk about it, just like you did, incessantly for the three weeks leading up to October 31st, and the days after Halloween will be filled with comparisons of candy booty collected, and all the great costumes that were seen, and next year's costumes. And the one or two children who were not allowed to partake in any of this are set apart.
I'm sure, in some of the kinder, gentler suburbs some of the Halloween participating kids have been given gentle conversations in political correctness about the issue from their parents. "Hannah doesn't celebrate Halloween, so try not to talk about it in front of her. We don't want to make her feel different or bad because she's not allowed to put on a princess costume and collect a bag full of candy."
"But why mommy? What's wrong with wearing a princess costume and collecting candy from people who want to give it to us?"
"Hannah's parents don't believe in it, just respect that, okay?"
"You know what, you're right. Screw it. Make extra effort to tell Hannah about your fairy princess costume with the sparkly layers of tulle and how much fun it was to be a kid, dress up, play pretend, cheer up the senior citizens in the neighborhood with your angelic little face and adorable costume and all the candy gathered from all the neighbors we know who look forward to this little community activity every year."
Pagans. Wiccans. Devils. Satan. Evil. Whatever.
Get a grip.
Look around you. Read a newspaper. Spend an hour online. There is a lot of evil in this world, but the least of it is Halloween.
Much as I hate the marketing of holidays, given this new "trend" against Halloween, I am absolutely pleased beyond words that Halloween is a very, very close second to Christmas in terms of retail sales.
Which means Halloween beats out Easter. Some may see this as a sign of end of days: Halloween beats out Jesus' resurrection for retail sales. Halloween also beats all the patriotic days - July 4th, Memorial Day, Labor Day and all the government holidays no one except postal, government, Chicago Public Schools celebrate with a Monday off work. Though a guy I saw at party did a bang up job of commemorating Labor Day with his Jimmy Hoffa Halloween costume.
This might be a good trend, combining lesser retailed holidays with Halloween. The Jimmy Hoffa guy could get a couple of friends to go with him as the Taft-Hartley Act. Perhaps the nay saying Halloween parents could get on board with that. Educational, historical...what's wrong with that?
I'm sure they'd find something. Potential Columbus Day issues, have to ban Columbus Day costumes. And of course Easter would have to be off limits, too, any Jesus, or in fact any New Testament costumes would be banned.
And I just have to take a minute to point out the obvious (at least to me). Ummmm, Jesus came back from the dead. On a literal level, does that not make him a zombie? Pretty much the best known zombie ever? In many ways, the resurrection is one of the greatest scary stories ever told. But since it's set to great catchy pop tune classics like "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" it's not as sinister as say, Night of the Living Dead. Perhaps I'm the only kid who for many years dreaded Easter. A lot of emotional turmoil for me. Maybe I was sensitive. To my young brain, a guy getting nailed to a cross was really, really sad. I would sob on good Friday, I mean sob. My mother would have to take me out to the church lobby to console me. My brother, ever a font of wisdom and sympathy, would chide me with, "It's okay, he comes back from the dead in a few days." Maybe had he not delivered this bit of news in a Dracula voice... But...And then he came back to life?! Scared the bejeezus out of me. The whole empty cave thing still makes me shiver in fear. Those poor women. And yet Halloween is bad. Sends the wrong message to young impressionable minds. (see Chaotic Not Random for a great Jesus post, by the way)
Absurd you say? Then I'm successfully making my point.
Unless you lived in Detroit during the Devil's Night hullabaloo years, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Halloween. It's fun. It's something children and adults look forward too all year, a chance to live out a fantasy and get paid candy to do so. And fortunately, apparently, a lot of other people think so, too. To the tune of around $6 billion this year in America alone. Halloween is the one holiday that marketing and retail sales is appropriate. Unless you're a practicing Pagan or Wiccan. But the few of those I know applaud the marketing and retailing of their religious days.
A little boy I saw in a Hulk costume was all the proof I needed. The kid was obviously a geek 364 days of the year. He had Chess Club and Math Bowl written all over him (not that there's anything wrong with that. For the record, I was a Lit Wit). But for one day he gets to be cool, tough, and the envy of his friends with his super cool Hulk costume with built-in real padded muscles. Will wearing this costume on one Halloween when he's 9 make him grow up to be a devil worshiping do-er of evil and spreader of sin and carnage? My guess is no. My guess is he'll go to MIT, get a job a NASA, and remember fondly the year he had the coolest costume. He might even gain some self confidence through the experience. I've seen normally very shy and reticent children burst out of their shells of silence once in a costume - and race up to the neighbor they're normally too shy to utter even the most polite response to joyously scream out Trick or Treat!!
I have a very elderly relative who looks forward to Halloween. She gets to see a parade of children, she gets to give them treats, she gets to talk to their parents...it's a bright social spot in her year. And most of her friends who still have homes feel the very same way. Families are far flung around the Universe, many people don't get to see their own grandchildren (or children) regularly, and the kids in their costumes is a small buffer for the void of their own children and grandchildren.
The only thing evil about Halloween is parents pretending to shelter their children from evil (Halloween) while sending them to public schools where guns, drugs, and language to make a Marine blush are de riguer.
Friday, October 31, 2003
There are so few truly divine experiences on this planet that I find I like to squeeze the most out of them and savor them as long as I can.
Like going to the dentist.
I have not eaten since noon yesterday because I want to savor that fresh, just from the dentist feeling. Brushing and flossing last night I felt so empowered. A clean slate! Fresh new teeth and gums! Ditto this morning.
And it's Halloween.
And I have a party to go to tonight. Where there will be all sorts of temptations to sway me from my determination to make this "just had my 6 month check-up and cleaning" feeling last longer than any in the past.
Plus I might lose a few pounds in the offing, too.
I know, who goes to the dentist the day before Halloween? Guilty as charged.
I've always had this thing about seeing how long I can keep that "just had my 6 month check-up and cleaning" feeling.
I mentioned to my mother that I went to the dentist. Her response was not: "Any cavities?" (no) or "Everything okay?" (yes) No, my mother's first and firm response was: "Eat something!"
The thing is, once you put anything in your mouth other than water or toothpaste, it's gone. You've lost that serendipitous "just had my 6 month check-up and cleaning" feeling. You've got to wait a whole 6 months to have it again.
Oh you can come close. What with SoniCare®s and Whitestrips® and mouthwash.
But it's not the same.
Once you've let anything other than water or toothpaste pass your lips the feeling's gone and no amount of SoniCaring and Whitesripping in the world is going to bring it back.
It's gone. It's over for another six months.
You no longer find yourself gliding your tongue over your teeth and gums because "it just feels good."
You don't radiantly beam toothy smiles at everyone you pass in that knowing "just had my 6 month check-up and cleaning" way.
The thrill just isn't there anymore. It's time to come back down to earth and deal with the day in, day out home care routine.
And for me this is sort of a big deal because it's one of the things that separates not only humans from other species (except for pets like Furry Creature who have owners who insist on yearly dental cleanings), this is also something separating people in the First World from the Third World and developing nations.
Going to the dentist is a pilgrimage. I'm not just doing something good for me. I'm also proving my place in the animal kingdom and exercising my privilege as a member of the First World to basic dental health care. Not unlike voting.
But, you may say, following that line of reasoning, you're nothing more than a healthcare snob, flaunting your flashy perfectly aligned teeth at the animal kingdom and less fortunate people.
You're half right. Snob? No. Flaunt? Yes but in an example kind of way.
"I just went to the dentist because I'm taking care of me! Hopefully someday you and your country/species will be able to enjoy this same privilege! Never give up! Strive for good dental health! It begins at home. Brush and floss regularly!"
Musical interlude for Halloween.
When I was young and just a bad little kid,
My momma noticed funny things I did.
Like shootin' puppies with a BB-Gun.
I'd poison guppies, and when I was done,
I'd find a pussy-cat and bash in it's head.
That's when my momma said...
(What did she say?)
She said my boy I think someday
You'll find a way
To make your natural tendencies pay...
You'll be a dentist.
You have a talent for causing things pain!
Son, be a dentist.
People will pay you to be inhumane!
You're temperment's wrong for the priesthood,
And teaching would suit you still less.
Son, be a dentist.
You'll be a success.
"Here he is folks, the leader of the plaque."
"Watch him suck up that gas. Oh My God!"
"He's a dentist and he'll never ever be any good."
"Who wants their teeth done by the Marqui DeSade?"
"Oh, that hurts! Wait! I'm not numb!"
"Eh, Shut Up! Open Wide! Here I Come!"
I am your dentist.
And I enjoy the career that I picked.
I'm your dentist.
And I get off on the pain I inflict!
I thrill when I drill a bicuspid.
It's swell, though they tell me I'm mal-adjusted.
And though it may cause my patients distress.
Somewhere...Somewhere in heaven above me...
I know...I know that my momma's proud of me.
Thursday, October 30, 2003 The Special Bike Last night I got to ride the "special bike."
And yes, it's very much like riding the "special bus." Except there are no bullies to tease you about it. Which is good. I wish all the kids riding "special buses" in all of the Universe wouldn't be teased. I dream of a future where mention of the "special bus" does not elicit knowing smirks or sick jokes.
I dream of a future where I am riding one of my "normal bikes" for miles and miles averaging speeds of 40 - 50 miles an hour with barely a sweat and feeling no pain. Like I used to do.
I dream of a future when requirements in the job description for physical therapists include:
Must have personally sustained and rehabbed at least two physical injuries.
Must have personally performed every exercise they prescribe.
Must have personally endured every piece of equipment, electronic and otherwise.
Must not speak in condescending tones (baby voices, obvious fake sympathetic sighs and gestures).
Must maintain composure when a patient does something really stupid and makes a fool of themselves in front of the whole socialized room of terror, er, Physical Rehabilitation Center.
But I live in nowville, not the future, and until then, there's "Kimmie."
The right hand of Satan.
She greeted me with enthusiasm as yet unrivaled.
"Today's the big day! Are you ready for the special bike?! I've got it all ready for you! I know you're excited, it will be almost like your own bike! Isn't that great! You can pretend you're riding outside!"
I must admit, I was excited. I've missed bike riding. A lot. And though I have always viewed stationary bikes as loathsome substitutes for riding a "real" bike, outdoors, the steady rhythm of pedaling has a very relaxing effect on me. So yes, I was excited. Not jumping up and down, unbridled enthusiasm excited, like "Kimmie," but excited. More excited that my usual nonplussedness of late.
Which is saying a lot for me.
"Kimmie" led me, walking backwards in front of me so she should extol all the many virtues of the "special bike" as we made our way to the equipment corner of the socialized room of terror.
With all the send up, I was expecting a really cool machine. Named something like Lexicon 9000. I was a little scared, nervous even, but getting swept up in "Kimmie's" enthusiasm. Hey. When in Rome.
"Look, I already had Beelzebub adjust it for your height!" As she swept her arm a la Price is Right girls across what was apparently the "special bike."
Visualize the stationary bike your grandma had in the sewing room.
Add a sturdier base and weird open air ski boot things on the pedals.
Now that's a "special bike."
Once again, I returned to my nonplussed state.
What bothers me is that there are other really cool stationary bikes there. But apparently they can't be retrofitted with weird open air ski boots.
So I'm the most "special" kid on the "special bus."
My ninth grade gym teacher warned me I'd end up like this.
Miss Castile: You were right. I am an uncoordinated excuse of a badminton player who doesn't deserve to grace a gym floor.
The seat height is adjustable. Someone took great pains to hand calibrate a scale of inches on the stem of the seat. In magic marker. So what if the lines of demarcation aren't exactly straight.
Beelzebub had pre-set the seat to my height, or at least the seatometer read my height.
"Kimmie" pulled over a wood box with that non-slip sandpaper stuff and told me to take off my shoes and aircast and hop on up there. I did as I was told.
"Kimmie" strapped me into the open air ski boots.
"Not too tight?"
"Okay! Let's ride!"
I performed a few turns. It became obvious my knees were hitting the handle bars and the seat was too low.
And the open air ski boot things were weird.
"Hmm. We measured you at exactly ... so that seat height should be just right."
I didn't argue. Who am I to judge the shortcomings of the obvious high tech scale of measure on the "special bike?" But clearly the seat needed to be adjusted. This puzzled "Kimmie." "Maybe we measured you wrong." The girl was not going to admit the magic marker hand drawn scale could possibly be "off" by an inch or two. She loves that "special bike." She'd rather take the blame, claim to have incorrectly measured my height, than admit the "special bike" has any flaws.
"Kimmie" asked me with furrowed brow of concern for the "special bike" if I could rise up off the seat so she wouldn't have to unstrap my open air ski boots. I did as I was instructed, clinging to the handlebars and teetering on the edge of disaster while "Kimmie" tried to adjust the seat. Apparently the special bike seatometer seat stem is in need of a bit of maintenance, a squirt or two of WD-40. Because as "Kimmie" tried to adjust the stuck seat stem, the entire "special bike" shook. Remember, I'm strapped into open air ski boots with only the handlebars to cling to, and oh yeah, I don't have a lot of mobility and strength in one ankle. And "Kimmie" is really jerking that seat. I couldn't see her, but I imagined a small child tugging and shoving a stuck toy in the kitchen sink drain. And the noise was like a cartoon ratchet stuck noise. I can't figure out how to spell that noise. You'll have to draw upon your history of cartoon noises. I was just waiting for the stem to break lose sending "Kimmie" flying across the room one way and the momentum sending me, strapped into the open air ski boots, clinging to the handlebars on a stationary bike like the one in your grandma's sewing room, another.
Instead she called over Beelzebub. Who arrived, I kid you not, with a pipe wrench and a jar of Vaseline.
So I'm standing there, strapped into open air ski boots, clinging to the handlebars, with Beelzebub lubing up the seat stem with Vaseline while "Kimmie" held the pipe wrench.
Neither one saw any apparent humor in this.
Beelzebub also defended the accuracy of the seatometer.
"It's set to her height. I don't get it. Did you re-measure her?" he asked incredulously.
"No, not yet, but I will as soon as she's done her session. Maybe she was slouching when I measured her."
"I doubt it, you're careful about that."
"But it's the only explanation I can think of."
"She is tall. We haven't had to raise the seat this high for a while."
("How about the fact that the seatometer was crookedly drawn on in magic marker and probably not exactly ISO standard?" I wanted to ask. I refrained. I did not want to dis the "special bike" in front of these two.)
Beelzebub finally got the seat raised to an appropriate height.
I did my 15 minutes.
The other bikers gave me smug smirks. (ha! getta load of the "special kid!") A few gave me patient, encouraging nods. (you can do it, ignore them, you can do it.)
I even hit a dizzying 9 miles an hour.
"Kimmie" unstrapped me.
Then I got to go to the even parallel bars. Oooh. Just like in the Olympics, you're thinking.
Well. Not quite. I was to stand between the parallel bars, on a 2' x 2' x 10" piece of squishy spongy thing. It's like stepping in a very squishy muddy lake bottom. It's even a little slimy.
"Kimmie" then began a little side to side motion. "Okay, let's dance! Side to side! One foot, then the other!"
I shift my weight from side to side. At first I was allowed to hang onto one of the bars. But then "Kimmie" told me I had to a) not use my hands and b) close my eyes. And rock on each side for 45 counts.
At 23 counts I fell off the sponge. I caught myself on one of the bars before I completely hit the floor. "Kimmie" laughed.
"It's hard, isn't it?!" (baby voice) "are you okay?"
"Maybe you better keep your eyes open for now. You're probably a little weak from all that time on the 'special bike'"
"Yeah, that's it."
"Let's try to finish up with 10 more, then we'll work on those glutes and thighs."
She left me to finish. Maybe I'm paranoid, but I really think she went into the employee room to laugh at me.
I say this because she was even more giggly and had a hard time keeping a straight face when she returned to inflict the rest of the session's pain and torture.
Yes, it's funny. I'm already laughing about it.
But why not laugh at the stupid "special bike" and its seatometer? And Vaseline and a pipe wrench?
Still. I got 15 minutes on a bike, which is 15 minutes more than I've had since July.
Riding that "special bike" to my future rehabilitation.
FOX, I salute you. I bow to your superior marketing genius. I am humbled. I will watch. And I will learn.
Fox v. The Simpsons Guide note: Listen to the Matt Groening interview, too. 12:34 PM
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Be careful what you blog...particularly if the evil overlord of the dark side himself is involved in your life in any way.Mac-ers unite. (It's a scary tale of blogging. Full of drama, intrigue and danger. One man's courage to blog about a shipment of Macs against perilous odds and in the face of pure evil - employment at MicroSoft.)
I am reminded of one of the many marvelous passages from one of the best books ever written, especially for people who work for corporations too full of themselves. Pastoralia, by George Saunders.
A memo, to Distribution:
Regarding the rumors you may have lately been hearing. Please be advised that they are false. They are so false that we considered not even bothering to deny them. Because denying them would imply that we have actually heard them. Which we haven't. We don't waste our time on such nonsense. And yet we know that if we don't deny the rumors we haven't heard, you will assume they are true. And they are so false! So let us just categorically state that all the rumors you've been hearing are false. Not only the rumors you've heard, but also those you haven't heard, and even those that haven't yet been spread, are false. However, there is one exception to this, and that is if the rumor is good. That is, if the rumor presents us, us up here, in a positive light, and our mission, and our accomplishments, in that case, and in that case only, we will have to admit that the rumor you've been hearing is right on target, and congratulate you on your fantastic powers of snooping, to have found out that secret super thing! In summary, we simply ask you to ask yourself, upon hearing a rumor: Does this rumor cast the organization in a negative light? If so, that rumor is false, please disregard. If positive, super, thank you very much for caring so deeply about our organization that you knelt with your ear to the track, and also, please spread the truth far and wide, that is, get down on all fours and put your own lips to the tracks. Tell your friends. Tell friends who are thinking of buying stock. Do you have friends who are journalists? Put your lips to the tracks.
Because what is truth? Truth is that thing which makes what we want to happen happen. Truth is that thing, which, when told, makes those on our team look good, and inspires them to greater efforts, and causes people not on our team to see things our way and feel sort of jealous. Truth is that thing which empowers us to do even better than we are already doing, which by the way is fine, we are doing fine, truth is the wind in our sails that blows only for us. So when a rumor makes you doubt us, us up here, it is therefore not true, since we have already defined the truth as that thing which helps us win. Therefore, if you want to know what is true, simply ask what is best. Best for us all of us. Do you get our drift? Contrary to rumor, the next phase of the Staff Remixing is not about to begin. The slightest excuse, the slightest negligence, will not be used as the basis for firing the half of you we would be firing over the next few weeks if the rumor you have all probably heard by now about the mass firings was true. Which it is not. See? See how we just did that? Transformed that trashy negative rumor into truth? Go forth and do that, you'll see it's pretty fun. And in terms of mass firings, relax, none are forthcoming, truly, and furthermore, if they were, what you'd want to ask yourself is: Am I Thinking Positive/Staying Positive? Am I giving it all I've got? Am I doing even the slightest thing wrong? But not to worry. Those of you who have no need to be worried should not in the least be worried. As for those who should be worried, it's a little late to start worrying now, you should have started months ago, when it could've done you some good, because at this point, what's decided is decided, or would have been decided, if those false rumors we are denying, the rumors about the firings which would be starting this week if they were slated to begin, were true, which we have just told you, they aren't. 2:49 PM
Maybe this will cheer up Marvin. Cool stuff. I wish I worked for the CIA. Robot Spies 8:51 AM
The California fires are serious trouble. As fantastic as the images are, they are not special effects. These are real people, with real lives completely destroyed. A lot of people. If you can spare even a dollar or two and feel compelled to make an actual difference, please give to the Red Cross.
Speaking of California, it's time for:
Extreme Makeover: The Day After. Participants will subject themselves to plastic surgery/ies without telling their co-workers, colleagues, ex-boy/girlfriends, relatives they only see once a year or less...
It's Extreme Makeover Meets The Office with Behind the Scenes Barbara Walters Probing Yet Sensitive Interviews
The cameras roll and the fun begins.
We open with a background bio piece with a pretty, young urban woman. Scenes of her walking along the beach (she's introspective! see! it's perfectly thoughtful!), working out in the gym, (she's healthy! see! it's perfectly healthy!) out in a chic nightspot (she's trendy! see! it's trendy!), and in the office (it's professional! see! it's professional!). We learn, through Tara's own painful words, the tragedy and tears behind her apparent happy life. Tara, from her cozy Pottery Barn living room, wearing an oversized sweater, over an oversized cup of herbal tea, reveals that as a teenager she was teased.
"They called me all the names (sob sob)," Barbara hands her a tissue, "thank you. No, I'm okay, I can do this. I want to do this."
Pause as Tara regains composure.
"You know, kids can be so cruel. And all my girlfriends were sprouting, you know, breasts all over the place. Gym class was horrible, pure torture. My mother had bought me a bra even though I didn't need it. I wore it all the time, because I wanted to be like the other girls, hoping maybe it might help them grow. At one point I quit wearing it because I thought maybe it was preventing any growth. One day in the locker room, one of the girls, a particularly large breasted girl, took my bra and said, 'you don't need this, why do you bother?' and all the other girls were laughing. And she shot it like a rubber band, you know? how kids shoot rubber bands? She shot it like that across the locker room. I wanted to die right there, in the locker room. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life."
Tara chokes back sobs.
"My mother kept telling me I was just a late bloomer, but nothing happened. College wasn't much better. When I went to Daytona for spring break, MTV had this contest. You know how they have those contests? Well, all the girls I was with were entering. I knew I didn't stand a chance, what with no breasts and all, so I didn't enter. But one of the guys we hooked up with the night before thought it would be funny to enter me. They called my name, and I guess it must have been all the Jell-O Shots, or something...when they called my name and all my friends were chanting my name, I just thought, 'So what that I'm not as big as the other girls' and gathered up all my courage and went up to the stage. The MTV people were really nice to me, but the other kids, especially the guys, were just so rude. The guy who entered me was the loudest and the worst. They all thought I was such a joke. That day, on that MTV Daytona Spring Break Party stage, I decided I would get implants. I've been saving my money ever since. I've had a few set backs, what with my student loans, low paying job and shoe addiction. One doctor offered to just do one at a time, pay as you go sort of thing, but I didn't think that was right for my lifestyle. So I waited, worked as a cocktail server and I've finally saved up enough money for both breasts. Well most of it. Larry - the guy who manages the establishment where I work on weekends agreed to help pay for some of the expenses, he's really nice. He says he's seen other girls do this and their tips triple the very first night with their new breasts. I'm going to pay him back every cent with all the extra tips I get."
Cut to the surgeon's office talking to Tara. We learn that implants have garnered a bad and false reputation. That they're really completely safe. All that class action business against Dow was just a lot of feminist lashback. The surgeon, who because of his high profile clientele insists that his name not be used, his features blurred and voice altered, insists the stories of implants bursting or leaking are all urban legends. Internet hoaxes.
The surgeon has advised Tara to keep the surgery a secret. That many women will be jealous and envious of her upcoming new figure, and that he's found it's best for everyone involved if the patient "just surprises" everyone with her new enhancements. Besides, Tara feels this is a personal decision and she doesn't care what anyone else thinks about her better living through silicon choice. So to spare herself the feminist and health arguments, she tells no one, especially not the gals at the office, about her upcoming enhancement surgery. Which is what the surgeon calls the implant procedure.
(Boobs, version 2.1. Or in this case, version 69.1)
Tara feels that it will be obvious enough after the surgery and too late for anyone to try to talk her out of the surgery. This is, after all, something she's wanted for a very long time and she does not want any doubt to stand in her way.
Tara tells everyone she's going on vacation. This is not unusual, Tara typically takes a few weeks off a few times a year to get her head together and re-group. So no suspicion is aroused at the office or lounge.
We see Tara going into the operating room.
Barbara talks to Larry, who is in the waiting room.
"She's a good kid. I like to help good kids struggling to start their careers. She's good looking, all she needs are some boobs. Say what you want, but I've been in the business a long time. Boobs sell. A girl can be ugly as sin, but if she's stacked she'll bring in double or triple the tips the flatter girls get. It's a matter of economics. Hey, I'm just being honest here. A lot of people wouldn't admit this, but I'm honest. I got integrity. That's why I gave Tara the money so she could go to the best doctor in town for this. I want her to have the best. Because I've got integrity. And with her good looks, and those new boobs, she's going to be raking in the dough. And it gives me a lot of satisfaction to know I've helped her start her career and fulfill a lifelong dream."
Cut to a recovery room. Tara and Larry are talking. We hear a shriek. We hear Larry saying, "Relax baby, they always look that way at first. They'll get better. You'll see..." Barbara voices over that due to the graphic nature of Tara's current condition, we won't be seeing her for a few weeks.
Cut to Tara's living room two weeks later. Tara looks tired, but wears a snug cropped t-shirt exclaiming, "Got Milk?"
The enhancements are obvious. And further enhanced by the fit of the t-shirt.
Barbara admires Tara's joke of the t-shirt. Tara responds, "yeah (trailing)...Larry gave it to me as a little post-op present. Aren't those just the silliest ads? I love them! Milk moustaches! Have you seen the chocolate ones?!"
Barbara ignores the question. And with her special brand of sensitivity, probes into how Tara is feeling.
We learn that Tara didn't expect the process to be so painful or so ugly. But that already they're looking a lot better, really good. She's ventured out a few times and is amazed at how nice people are to her. Especially men.
Tara confides that she's very nervous about returning to the office. There are a lot of women there. Her surgeon warned her other women will be envious so she's mentally prepared, but until she's actually there she doesn't know what to expect. She's hoping the people she works with will be supportive of her new breasts.
The next day Tara returns to work. Over the weekend hidden cameras were arranged in the office. Tara arrives early. It's a chilly fall day, so she is wearing a coat as she enters the office. The people she sees greet her casually, apparently not noticing her new figure under her coat. Tara looks nervous and hurries through the office to her cube. She sighs at the work on her desk. Tara forgets herself for a moment, "You'd think someone would handle this while I'm gone."
"Morning Tara! Welcome back!" A co-worker and technically Tara's manager calls from around the corner. "Sorry about the releases - between the calls and, you know, my job, I didn't get through all of them." Voice growing closer, continues, "Donna was out sick a few days, too, if she's back today maybe she can help you..." Pause as the co-worker appears in Tara's cube. The co-worker (female) has clearly noticed Tara's new breasts but quickly regains her composure. She is a model of nonplussed reaction. "Right then. Ignore the email from Smithers and Wiggums, the legal department is dealing with them, it's a contract issue. I'm right smack in the middle of a huge project, came in early, driving creative force, you know! Welcome back, we'll catch up later."
Co-worker and technically Tara's manager is now caught on hidden camera. We see her return to her office and close her door. She sighs. "Oh swut," she says to herself, "never saw that coming. Should have. But didn't." We see co-worker feverishly scouring the internet for office etiquette on plastic surgery. Barbara voices over that this co-worker is showing sensitivity to Tara's new state of endowment and her feelings. Barbara hopes other co-workers will try to be as tactful.
Barbara's hopes are in vain.
One by one the office personnel show up for work. Many try to ignore Tara's new chest, but most are unable to manage anything other than a fixed gaze at Tara's chest.
Donna, who is unusually loud and a bit crass on a normal day, can be heard exclaiming, "What the hell are those?! How much did they set you back? Are you auditioning for that new FOX reality show?"
Darryl, from tech support, who can sniff out fresh female and apparently silicon faster than a jack rabbit is the first from another, non-related floor to show up. He pretends there was a problem with Tara's computer while she was gone. He babbles a lot of tech jargon at Tara's chest. Tara offers to leave while Darryl fixes her computer, but Darryl insists (to Tara's chest) the problem can be quickly and easily handled, the she should just sit tight while he takes a look at her C drive. Darryl insists on working over Tara's shoulder.
There is a constant parade of people past Tara's cube. People who never visit this floor are finding reasons to come by this particular area. Most are men, but, surprisingly, many are women.
The emails begin to fly.
"Did you get a load of those?!"
"Vacation my fat ass, she got a boob job."
"Does she think no one will notice?"
The remarks and critiques continue via email.
And then the boob jokes begin. They start with Darryl from tech support. Of course.
With the advent of the first boob joke, around lunchtime, co-worker and technically manager replies to everyone who has sent an email. "Yes, we've all seen them. Deal with it on a personal level. Internalize. Respect her decision and the fact that she's obviously not feeling very well. One more email or boob joke and all these previous emails get forwarded to HR. Darryl once again you prove what a sick perv you are, and you know what? This might be the end of my turning a blind eye to it. Perhaps a scan of your hard drive is in order."
Co-worker then musters up every ounce of fortitude she has and summons Tara into her office.
Tara is worried. This is revealed as she speaks into the camera on her way to co-worker's office. She has a feeling she knows what's coming. She and co-worker are not especially close, co-worker is technically her manager, and Tara likes working with her but shares little in common with her beyond work.
"Hey Tara, sit down. I think we better have a chat."
Tara sheepishly sits down.
"This is absolutely none of my business, you do not have to discuss this with me or anyone else, and please, if you feel at all uncomfortable or that I am in any way out of line, please, please tell me. This is probably as difficult for me as it is you. But I couldn't say because I'm not you. So how would I, could I know? Oh swut. Look, Tara, you've obviously had some surgery, and I am not condemning or condoning and certainly not judging. But as your technically manager and hopefully sort of a friend, and at the very least as another woman, I want you to know I am at a loss as to what I should do or say, or not, to make you feel comfortable with your new, um, enhancements. My inclination is to ignore them and keep my mouth shut. It's none of my business. But I don't want you to think I am insensitive or uncaring. See my dilemma? I think a lot of people are having the same dilemma and avoiding this area and you altogether.
"As for the others coming by to gawk, I have no comment. You've caused quite a stir. And I respect that you are keeping quiet about them, that's very dignified and exactly what I would do.
"My main concern is that it looks like you are not feeling terrific. And if you need to take more time off, please go ahead. I'll handle the calls and the releases. The key thing right now is that you take care of yourself be sure, um, things, heal properly."
Tara begins to cry.
Co-worker raises her eyes heavenward, gets up, and goes over to Tara, offers her a tissue and tells her not to be upset.
"But, but, I think I might have made a mistake. I know people are laughing at me."
"It's probably jealous women. Try to ignore them and concentrate on your work. Tara, did you think no one would notice? Did you rehearse how you would respond to the obvious reaction to them in the office?"
"No, because I mean, I don't know. I guess not. But I don't care, really, it's just this first day. I think. You're right, I'm not feeling very well."
"You shouldn't care what anyone thinks. It doesn't matter. But you have to recognize it's an adjustment for you and the rest of us who have to work with you. I think you're right, once the initial reaction wears off, no one will care. I'm more concerned about how you're feeling. That's gotta hurt."
"Yeah, they're really painful. I didn't expect that. No one told me how painful it is. And they feel really weird."
"So, they don't give you a manual or lessons or therapy or counseling with those things?"
"No," laughs a little, "I wish they would have."
"What about your family or friends? Do you have someone looking after you?"
"Larry, the guy from my other job, he's been really great."
"Okay, so you've got someone helping you. If you need anything please call me. As for the rest of the office, Tara, if you think anyone is out of line let me know. Or if you're not comfortable with that, go straight to HR. Especially if Darryl starts hanging around more than necessary. You'd never know it they way some people behave around here, but we really do have a strict sexual harassment policy. If you're up to it, let's have lunch and get you home."
Barbara is pleased with co-worker's handling of the situation. She recognizes that perhaps co-worker should not have said anything at all, but also considers the issues this is bringing up in the office and that Tara needs to know someone else is there for her if she feels harassed. Barbara further concedes this is a delicate situation and hopes this show will serve as an insightful public service to people all over the world who have to work with Extreme Makeover recipients upon their return to work.
Neither Larry or the surgeon can be reached for follow-up comment.
Tuesday, October 28, 2003 Valhalla Awaits People keep telling me what I am experiencing in physical therapy is typical - a lot of pain the next day is normal and to be expected. But that at some point I will cross over a magical threshold, I will recognize and feel new strength. The pain will be replaced with a drive and desire to push myself harder and further. (Cue the Chariots of Fire theme.) That I will rise from the ashes of my injury a stronger, better, more physically aware person.
I'm hoping this is true. I'm concerned I might not reach this Valhalla, though, because I've never experienced an endorphin high from working out. But maybe this will be different. After all, I'm being led by "Kimmie."
Another fantasy filled session with "Kimmie." There is apparently no limit to the tricks and devices of torture this girl has at her disposal. Last night she sprang a thrilling surprise on me in the form of "we need to get those thighs and glutes in better shape."
I know I've been remiss with the squats and lunges and hip flexes since The Incident. And I know my bum and thighs and hips have suffered for it. I have clothes, you know! I own mirrors! I know my muscle tone has deteriorated at an alarming rate. I don't need you, "Kimmie" telling me what bad shape I'm in right now.
I had a broken ankle. Cut me some muscular slack. I'm defensive and probably sound a little hostile. Which is of course because I know she's right. (I hate it when "Kimmie's" right, because her rightness is usually delivered in a baby voice.) And there have been times I attempted (very lamely) to do an exercise tape or two, I've tried to keep up with some bicep and upper body work...but let's face it: I haven't been to the gym since July, I haven't ridden my bike since July, I haven't walked my usual 5 miles a day since July, I haven't gone swimming since June...and the nice guys at my local Chinese, Thai, pizza and Italian joints have been great about delivering right to my door. All of them, when they found out I had a broken ankle, include a "special treat" with my order. Food you sick-o's. Dessert or an extra portion of lad nar "for tomorrow," cannolies, and worst of all, the pizza place kept "making a mistake" and giving me a large or extra large pizza instead of a medium or small. No. I didn't have to eat the extra food. Of course not. And many times I did not.
But four months of weekly eating food I typically eat once a month, plus next to no exercise...you get the picture.
Things could be worse. I've already shed a few pounds since being off crutches, and that's without really trying. Just being slightly more mobile has helped.
But I know my rear view could use some help.
And I don't need "Kimmie" telling me this. 85 pound "Kimmie."
So last night, in addition to the Electrical Instrument of Terror (which is called Interferential Stimulation...see? even its real name sounds scary and awful), the Massage of the Damned, Exercises for Masochists, I got to do some fun and exciting thigh and glute work. Oh happy day. If you've ever done Callanetics you have felt the special kind of pain I have today. Along with my ankle, foot, neck/back and wrist, my bum and thighs are now crying out in morning after pain.
I mentioned that I typically ride my bike 40 - 50 miles twice a week and "Kimmie" pounced on this. "Well, we'll just have to get you up on one of our 'special' bikes." She said this they way bullies say "special bus" when referring to the equipped bus for the disabled kids.
Tomorrow I get to ride the 'special bike.'
Because "we're going to get those thighs and glutes working again so that sore ol' ankle can count on them for support!" ("Kimmie" all but did a touchdown dance after exclaiming this. "Kimmie" really irritates the crap out of me.)
Yeah, you lazy buns and thighs, you're letting down your ankle and foot neighbors. It's all your fault. Raphael over at Leona's with the large pizzas had absolutely nothing to do with it, and don't you dare go blaming mouth and stomach for your slovenly attitude. Ass, get off your ass and do some exercises.
See? that's motivational.
Speaking of motivational....
What a show! A show of shows! Got off to a very surreal, weird and slightly uncomfortable start. The segment with Dan Elias shooting snooker...the scripted line about "the women upstairs" in the saloons and then the Fellini-esque shot of the ball falling into the pocket? You don't need to spell it out for me, I'm watching educational television for crying out loud, not FOX. I might have a brain larger than a gnat's, so your innuendo is just weird and lame. Dan, I want to like you, I really do, but between the on again - off again perm and your trying to be hip, cool and funny segments, you're losing me. You're a geek. Verging on dork. Deal with it. Take a page from the Keno's books. They revel in their geek-itude. The embrace and exude it to their advantage, never apologetically, and always enthusiastically and sincerely.
Sorry. Had to get that off my brain. Dan's bothering me a lot this season.
Does everyone in Arkansas yell? I've only driven through the state (with windows up and cd player playing) and don't know anyone from there. But apparently, if the Roadshow is any indication, people talk really loud there. Don't get me wrong, I think I like Hot Springs people.
For instance, the woman with the Pairpoint lamp. I aspire to her nonplussedness upon hearing what a spectacular lamp she has and it's incredible value. (It was beautiful, I saw a similar shade once, but never a base that nice.) This woman was either in a state of shock, very disappointed (maybe she thought it was Tiffany) or she is the model of composure and nonplussedness.
And Keno Alert! Keno Alert! It's Leigh! In his really nice suit! Man he cuts a fine trim figure. And check out that monstrosity of a desk. Sure, it's cool, but wait a minute, the guy who owns it...he's...he's...he's stealing Leigh's thunder! I'm actually hearing what he's saying. He's a great guy. He reminds me of the old guys in my family. This is supposed to be my time with Leigh and this guy is engaging me. He and Leigh have rapport. Leigh likes him, too. I bet they're going to have a drink after the show. See Dan? Watch and learn. Leigh isn't smug. Leigh is getting into the appraisal on the level of the owner. Leigh probably has old guys like this in his family. And he respects, appreciates and likes that. What about the parting comment about the guy's wife looking strong enough to carry the desk out on her back?! What the...? Yessir, I think I need to make a trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas. I like the local folk.
What have I warned you about smoking? It's bad for you and it's bad for art. And here, on national public television, is proof. The rule is simple: If you smoke in your home, don't have art in your home. And buyer beware: If you are considering purchasing a painting, rug, sculpture or furniture, inquire as to whether or not it's been in a smoking environment. If it has, be sure to insist on a lower price because you will have to have it professionally cleaned.
We got off to a slow start with the goods tonight, but you know what? This elephant is growing on me. Throughout the appraisal it worked its charm on me and by the end, especially after I saw it "rocking" I was a bronze elephant convert.
Hey! It must be elephant night here on the Roadshow! Nice Boch Freres vase. Really nice. I can't expound on this, it speaks for itself.
Things are picking up here in Hot Springs.
I will not comment on the gymnasium and bath segment.
Yes, I love wood and linoleum cuts. Yes. I have soft spot. A weakness if you will. BUT THESE ARE REALLY GREAT!!!! So great that I can ignore another weird innuendo from Dan about his youth and time spent with Playboy. I've got to do some independent research on this (the "Art Magazines," not Dan Elias' youth spent with Playboy)
Whoa! Is that a Mose Tolliver painting? I was betting on it being fake. I was so sure it was fake. They're almost always fake. But they think this is the real deal. Huh.
Beatles. Always the Beatles. I will not enrage the Universe with my outspoken opinion of the Beatles. Except to say, if anyone spends the $60,000 to $80,000 on those signed programs at auction, please give me their name and address so that I can give them the names and addresses of some charitable organizations who will put their money to good use. If anyone has that kind of money to throw around on stupid ephemera from four guys with marginal talent and a lot of marketing hype behind them, they might need a lesson in the bigger picture of the Universe. Like how to put their extra money to use on something that actually means something to someone else. If not a charity, how about spending that money on better, real art?
And just as I was about to turn off the television in disgust...is it? Could it be? In Hot Springs? Is that a Hutchinson? No. It can't be. But it looks like...GOOD GOLLY ON HIGH!!! It is a Hutchinson. Calm down. Calm down. Relax. Focus. Listen. How did it get here? Who cares, it's here and it's on the American Antiques Roadshow for all the Universe to see! Oh Robert, finally! Finally you're getting your time. I know some of you in the Universe are surprised by my enthusiasm for a realist/impressionist. But shock not. Scot art, either real, surreal or abstract, for the most part, has a very unique quality to it. I believe it to be the unique set of Scot characteristics and personality traits of the artists showing in their art. And it's very underrated and undervalued. Ditto Norwegian art (with a few notable exceptions, Munch...)
If you're interested in Scottish art, some of which can be had a considerably less than the price of a 1964 signed Beatles program (go figure) start here
Well. A really great night. Sure I was subjected to "Kimmie" and all that is her special brand of evil. But as compensation for her I get to end my evening with a spectacular Roadshow. Leigh Keno, a public service lesson on the dangers of nicotine damage to art, a cool bronze elephant, linoleum cuts, paintings by Mose Tolliver AND Robert Hutchinson...it's almost as if I produced this episode myself. Well. Sort of. The telltale mark of my production would have been that the Beatles signatures were fake or because the market is so flooded with Beatles ephemera that none of it is worth anything. That's how you'll know you're watching an Antiques Roadshow I produced.
Monday, October 27, 2003
Presenting this year's Rock, Paper, Scissors champion.
Rob Krueger 1:11 PM
A Flat to C Sharp, and I'm Not Talking Bad Karaoke So, let's say you have a co-worker who goes on vacation for two-and-a-half weeks.
You and this co-worker get along well enough in the capacity of work. You are not socially close. Technically co-worker works for you, although that's due more to an ill-conceived departmental unit structure than any function-related issues. The manager-subordinate relationship only comes into play at review time or when co-worker is facing challenges new or beyond her required skill set. The rest of the time your relationship and conversations are solely based on work topics or the occasional movie, concert or shoe sale.
Her vacation plans are vague but none of your business so you wish her happy holiday, get annoyed about all the phone calls you have to handle, and let the non-crucial work pile up on her desk in her absence. (Hey, you're busy. Cut yourself some slack. You handled her work that needed to be handled, answered her phone because neither of you have had an assistant since the hiring freeze...No one does your work when you go on vacation.)
You expect her to return to the office tanned to a golden crisp, as per her usual routine, and don't give it much further thought.
Until she returns to the office looking very tired and with her usual, day to day, non vacation in the sun, fake baked orange skin.
And an obvious boob job.
We're talking A flat to triple C sharp. Pamela Anderson before the reduction.
And though the initial sight of them is a shock, your feeling generally on the matter is that it's a personal decision. At most you ponder generically "Does our health insurance plan cover that?"
It's absolutely not the business of anyone in the office.
There they are.
And she works for you.
And asking her about her vacation suddenly seems really stupid, condescending and gossipy.
And remarking on the two new girls in the office seems completely out of line and inappropriate.
But saying nothing at all seems rude.
Making a joke about it is not an option.
So you hide in your office pretending to be busily working on a project when in fact you are chasing down bad leads on the proper business etiquette for this situation.
But your attempts are futile. No one, not even Miss Manners seems to have tackled this subject in regard to the workplace. And you are at a complete loss as to how to proceed.
She obviously knows everyone is going to know what she did on her vacation. She obviously didn't tell anyone she was going to do this, so it was clearly a sensitive and personal choice she made and didn't feel the need or desire (rightfully) to tell anyone she was going to increase her breast size. By a lot. So commenting on it now, after the obvious fact does not seem appropriate. Or necessary. At most you hope she's feeling okay because she looks really tired. And that's gotta hurt.
But there they are.
You check the calendar to see how many weeks until you have to give her annual review, thinking you might get by with communicating only by phone and email until then.
But you're a better person and manager than that.
You've got to deal with it by either figuring out the right thing to say or ignoring it (them) completely.
As (technically) her manager you feel obligated to set the tone and example for the rest of the office to follow.
You wonder if you're being too sensitive to her needs, over-reacting in the political correctness arena. But you once lived through a rather embarrassing office boob situation and you want to spare your co-worker any possible residual effects that could take years to live down. You think your co-worker is not made of the humor and fortitude you are concerning office embarrassment. You do not want co-worker to leave her job.
You remember all too well the afternoon in a hip, posh office of a client when a soppy tart administrator of the big-shot client asked you (brazenly and foolishly) who "did" your breasts. Even though you thought they were professionally tucked away and well concealed, soppy tart thought you had fake boobs. And felt no shame or discretion in asking for a referral to your plastic surgeon in front of an entire (mostly male) office of your client.
You remember the deafening silence that fell over the office. You remember the nervous laughter from down the hall. You remember trying your best to remain nonplussed. You remember thinking, "hmmm, good question, who did my breasts..." and you responded, "Um, my parents? God?"
And soppy tart responded, loud enough to ensure the few not yet privy to the prior remark was brought into the fold, "OH MY GOD THOSE ARE REAL?!"
Time stopped. People stared, jaws dropped, eyes bulging in shock over the brazenly violated office etiquette and idiocy of the soppy tart administrator. You remember thinking, 'While not the most embarrassing moment of my life, in the final analysis this will probably make the top ten.' Admonishing soppy tart won't solve anything, and, she's a client, so berating or arguing with her are also non-options if you want to maintain big-shot client as a client. You remember the Seinfeld episode you saw last week. And you decide since your modesty has already been compromised the only real option is to try to restore what little dignity you can. So you utter the infamous parting shot,
"And they're spectacular."
The crowd goes wild. Big-shot client's office applauds and laughs.
And while this helps in the immediate, you have to suffer through a three hour presentation and meeting with big-shot client's (mostly male) staff knowing they are all thinking about your breasts.
And this is exactly the sort of thing you are trying to spare your co-worker.
And so still you search, still you ponder the best approach to the obvious upgrade your co-worker made on her vacation. You want to spare her feelings, you do not want to embarrass her, but you also know she paid a ton of money for them and obviously wanted to do this, and is obviously proud of them, and there they are...
Oh geeze. There it is. The first email on the topic has been circulated. I really need to deal with this now.
What would you do?
Anyone out there had to deal with this or a similar situation?