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12 November 2010 @ 05:41 am
If you were in solitary confinement for the rest of your life, and you discovered a cockroach in your room, would you kill it or make it your friend?

Back when the Ride had a real name, he had to go to (ugh) Texas for several days and suffer the company of his loathsome Texan relatives (rather than his loathsome regular relatives) for his grandfather's funeral.

At the cemetery, as the lot of them milled around talking, the Ride's attention was caught by an impossibly small green grasshopper.  It was either the first of the season or the last (I no longer remember whether this occurred in the fall or the spring), and, as it was a spot of delicate beauty in an otherwise horrible week , he stopped to watch it.

This apparently drew the attention of the loathsome relatives, for someone said, "What's that?"

Before the Ride could answer, however, an aunt came over, inspected it, and crushed the grasshopper to death with her foot.  "It's just a bug," she informed everyone.

This is one of the worst stories I have ever heard about humanity.

12 November 2010 @ 05:27 am

This banner ad says, "For all the things you can't wash, [f]reshen them with Febreze."

Firstly, this is not a sentence.

Secondly, you can wash anything if you try hard enough.

07 November 2010 @ 06:41 am

I am now in the six-o'clock-a.m. hour of staying up all night watching half a season of House, M.D., and it occurs to me that I hate everything.

I am absolutely bent on destroying myself.  That is why I have stayed up until six a.m. tonight, and why I have eaten pumpkin bread today.  Why I have not exercised this year, why I have starved myself for sleep, why I have dropped or withdrawn from or simply allowed myself to fail classes, why I have bought small pieces of junk I haven't really needed or wanted.

It's why I haven't yet put together my resume and applied for the job openings I've found, why I haven't finished researching options as to what to do about my car, why I make sure that I sleep away as much of the day as possible, why I won't open my altar or talk to the Goddess, or even God. 

I hate myself.  And I don't mean it the way I did when I was a junior-high-school student, lethargically and in despair.  I mean I am pissed.  I am just so phenomenally, monstrously angry with myself that I want to destroy something in a very serious, property-damage sort of way, and I don't want to do it to the walls or the furniture because they belong to my parents.  I want to put holes in things.

I'm pissed at myself because I have a body, and it's always making demands.  I hate having a body.  Ninety per cent of my life is taken up by this body.  I can't read, I can't study, I can't write without having to interrupt it all every few hours.  It needs to be fed, it needs to be slept, it needs to be exercised, it needs to be bathed, it needs its limbs and junctions shaved, it needs a haircut, it needs its nails trimmed, it needs to go to the doctor.

And if I slip up, even a little, in one area, the rest of it all goes to shit.  If I don't take allergy medication in time, I get depressed.  If I don't take my antidepressants or thyroid medication on time, or if I'm not taking a high-enough dose of the latter, I get depressed.  If I don't eat, if I don't sleep, if I don't exercise, if I don't bathe, if I let my hair get all scraggly and gross, if I don't meditate, if I don't pray, I get depressed. 

And the more I ignore its squawking, the louder it gets, until finally it owns me and I have no mind left with which to think any more.

And I should perhaps say, "I start suffering the signs and symptoms of partially remissive major depressive disorder," not, "I get depressed."  My body hurts.  My brain literally begins to shut down.  I see black at the edges of my vision.  Words fail me.  My thoughts seem thick and slow and stupid, like they're trying to swim through gelatin or molasses.  I fall asleep involuntarily.  (Last night it was sitting up, in which position I stayed for about seven hours; a few years ago it was at the wheel of a car.  Actually, it's at the wheel of a car fairly frequently still.) 

I cry.  I hate.  I can't think or feel empathy or listen to other people when they're talking or indeed noises of any kind.  The left side of my face screws up into a sort of sneering flinch.  I get angry.  I think that nothing is worth doing.

The Authorities tell you, when you have depression, that having depression is not your fault.  What they don't tell you is whom you should blame.  
Because whose fault is it, really, if not mine?  It's my brain that's failed, and isn't my brain mine?  It's my body that's forever going on about how it needs things, giving me no time to think or accomplish anything.  Isn't my body mine?

No.  No, it is not.  My body is its ownself, regardless of what I want from it, and it suffers me to sit up top in it if I will give it the things it wants.  It's like a landlord who has control of the breaker box for your apartment.  You don't pay the rent, the lights go out. 

And my brain . . .  Who knows what's up with that thing.

I can see why H.P. Lovecraft writes so extensively on what one of his critics calls "the malignant universe."  How can you not feel like a tiny pawn in a world of monsters having wars much bigger than you can comprehend, when that's your relationship with your own body parts?  I can't even control my fingers when I'm sleepy; forget about accounting for the existence of centipedes.

And this is probably the best my body is ever going to work.  I'm 29, just old enough completely to have finished puberty, but not so old that my cells are operating in anything other than absolutely peak condition.  Eventually, this body, which is none too fond of me already, will fail me completely, and chances are excellent that the failure will be protracted and unpleasant. 

And my brain . . . again, who knows.  I could degenerate into suicidality or I could write a novella, and those are just my options for this month.

So, shit, of course I want to destroy myself.  I'm pissed, and why shouldn't I be pissed?  I could get so much more done if I didn't have this stupid body hanging around, this stupid brain.  If I could only ignore them a little longer.  No wonder self-asphyxiation and television are such popular highs.

30 October 2010 @ 01:21 pm

I don't really understand advertisements for appliances. 

My biggest source puzzlement is simply that they--the ads--exist at all.  Appliances are not, surely, things you buy because Ooh, pretty, but rather things you buy because the old ones broke and you need to wash your clothes/keep the mayonnaise cold and can't do so without them.

And they all look--sorry, appliance manufacturers--about the same.  And I don't just mean that all dryers look about the same; I mean all appliances look like large, white metal boxes.  Sometimes, for extra-sexy people, they are black or stainless steel.  But a refrigerator is a large box, and a toaster oven is a small one, and dishwashers and washing machines are in the middle, and none of them (alas) are shaped like obelisks or chickens or street lamps or monkeys.  They are shaped like boxes.

I suppose there are groups of people (in economic classes so high I can't even see them from down here) who decide that their washing machines do not work well enough, or use too much water or power or detergent, and determine to buy new ones, but so what?  Even then, surely you wouldn't buy a washing machine based on an ad you saw on TV, would you?  You would go buy a copy of Consumer Reports, or, better yet, read one at the library, and pick the washing machine that had the most of the quality (water conservation, price, load capacity) that most concerned you.


So why do ads for washing machines exist, then?

And now that I think about it, why ads for politicians?  Shouldn't they work the same way?

24 October 2010 @ 04:59 am

Wal-Mart at three in the morning is vasty, hollow, cold, and silent.  The sound on all the televisions and multimedia ads has been turned off.  It's easy to pretend that you and a small band of friends have entered the place after a zombie apocalypse to stock up on necessities. 

The overnight crew are all zombies.  Turn down another aisle before they see you.  Try to pick items off the shelves silently so as not to alert them to your presence.

The cell-phone conversations of the other customers are the screams of the devoured.  The crinkling of plastic wrap and rubbing of cardboard is the sound of the stockers' grisly munchings.

24 October 2010 @ 04:53 am

LiveJournal's Spotlight on notable groups and journals features Paradisa this week, which "tells the day-to-day story of hundreds of characters stuck in a sentient castle that is feeding on their souls."  

"Join the fun," the synopsis invites.

24 October 2010 @ 04:43 am

[Survey question]: What's your greatest fear?
BurrowKlown: That the world will never change.

Last night, to celebrate acing the biggest test of the semester, I went to Barnes & Noble to purchase a couple of Terry Pratchett books.  It was impossible not to linger, of course; that is what bookstores are for.  And Barnes & Noble is almost the only place in Colorado Springs that's open later than 9.00 p.m. but does not feature "music" that makes migraines seem the kinder option.

While there, I moseyed over to the gay and lesbian section (or, as Barnes & Noble would have it, the "Gay & Lesbian" section; Barnes & Noble is very fond of the ampersand).  This proved to be an extremely displeasing experience.  I didn't know it was possible to be displeased in a bookstore.

Firstly, I was able to find only ONE book on lesbianism in history.  The gay and lesbian portion of the Gay & Lesbian section was comprised of two book categories: gay (male) erotica and lesbian romance novels.

The lesbian romance novels might be the worst books I have ever seen, with the possible exception of some of the small-press stuff they used to sell at Zondervan (now Family Christian Booksellers).  They were obviously of a quality below that of the mass-market paperback, but they were sized like a trade paperback, rendering them quite thin.  The covers featured abstract swirls of color, and the titles were done in WordArt.  I'm not kidding.  WordArt.  With the three-dimensional shadow effect and everything.

(Yes, of course some of them were rainbow.  They would be.)

Lesbian erotica and lesbian non-fiction were conspicuously absent, as was gay male non-erotic fiction.  And there were a dozen books of coming-out narratives of gay men, but none of gay women.

Oh, I found a lot of books in that section that I was interested in reading; but that was only because Barnes & Noble had removed its feminism and gender studies section entirely and mixed all those books in with the gay and lesbian texts.

And by "mixed in" I don't mean that the gender studies section started in the same bay but on a different shelf than the gay and lesbian section and just wasn't labelled; I mean there WAS no feminism/gender studies section at all, and the titles were organized by subcategory and then alphabetized by author.  The Feminine Mystique, The Second Sex, and The Beauty Myth mingled, undifferentiated, with The Best Gay Erotica of 2009 and On Our Backs' guide for women who want to fuck women.


Firstly, Barnes & Noble, you might more properly call your Gay ampersand Lesbian section your LGBT section, or your queer section, since you've included all your trans literature (and one advice book for bisexuals) in this area as well.  Trans people aren't all gay or lesbian, FYI.

Secondly, you don't have to be queer to be feminist. 

Forcing your straight or closeted customers into the Gay ampersand Lesbian section of a store for books about how to deal with the shit women's magazines shovel at you is akin to a drugstore locating its bikini trimmers in the middle of the condoms-and-lubes section.  Yeah, they apply to the same area, but in totally different ways and for totally different reasons.  You don't want your third-grade teacher pondering your kinks when all you're after is some Nair.

In Colorado Springs, the evangelical Christian capital of the United States, you're forcing anyone interested in feminism or gender studies into taking, or seeming to take, a definite and radical stance on one of the city's most controversial issues.

And don't tell me it doesn't matter.  While perusing putatively gay and lesbian books, I inspired a storm of giggles (from a pair of teenaged girls) and given the hate stare (by a severe-looking woman who referred to her husband as "Daddy") within a period of about 20 minutes.


The gay and lesbian and trans and bisexual and feminist and gender-critical texts proved to expensive for my tastes (really the only reason I buy the Pratchetts new is because it is almost impossible to find them used, which I think says something about the quality of the man's writing), so I wandered over to the magazines section, thinking to pick up an issue of Bitch and so sate myself for five dollars instead of fourteen.

I approached the periodicals section (which Barnes & Noble refers to as "The Newsstand") from the rear.  First up were the "men's interest" mags.  These featured fish, camouflage, and automobiles, often in combination, and the color scheme of the entire shelf was black and silver.

Next were the "women's interest" offerings.  I suddenly found myself wanting to vomit. 

The women's-interest section was half-again as big as the men's interest, and it was hairstyles and beauty.  ALL of it.

I'm not kidding: the store had included decorating and crafts magazines in their arts-magazines section, and celebrity was given an entire shelf up front.  Hairstyles and beauty were all that was left.

They didn't carry Bitch any longer, I found.  The only magazine I could find with any hints of being for actual women was Bust, which is more of an indie/hipster women's variety magazine than a magazine about feminist issues.

Furthest toward the front (before the celebrity tabloids, I mean) were the art and photography magazines, and these delivered the coup de grace.  Approximately half of their covers featured landscapes; approximately half of their covers featured nubile women.

I had just finished reading the introduction to a book on women's world history that discussed how a women's world history text differed slightly from that of a men's world history (also known simply as "world history") because women were in history so often depicted by men but so rarely represented through their own narratives or creations.

21 October 2010 @ 02:14 am

The first two times I watched Event Horizon it scared the pants off me.  The first time, in fact, inspired one of the worst nightmares I have ever had, and the film stood as my gold standard for scariness, untouched by anything except a few moments in the American version of The Ring.

But that was all before meds (a period that can, not coincidentally, be abbreviated B.M.), and since then I have discovered that I am in fact very fond of horror movies, often because they're so bad. 

Even when they're not, though, I don't often these days find them very scary.  I have a friend with hypomanic bipolar disorder who has experienced the same phenomenon in his own medicated era, and he says he believes it's because there is nothing we've found scarier than what can happen inside our own heads.  I don't know that I agree with him, but it's a good story.

This week, thanks to Zoloft, I revisited Event Horizon.  I am pleased to say that it is still somewhat scary to me.  I am less pleased to say that it's not a very good story.


A ship with a black hole as its primary means of propulsion has reappeared after seven years of inexplicable absence.  The only transmission it has sent since then prominently featured screaming.


The rescue crew boarding the ship two months after receipt of the distress call should not enter unarmed.

The rescue crew should not immediately split up and explore the ship singly, especially given the fact that the ship lacks interior lights.

The rescue crew should perhaps bring flashlights with them.  Just an idea.

When one member of the rescue crew discovers a human body that appears to have been clawed to death "by some kind of animal," this information should be relayed to the rest of the team, who might wish to consider regrouping or exiting the ship at that point.


There are other problems, too.  Houston "ran the message through several filters" and "managed to isolate something that MIGHT be a human voice."  (The screaming, apparently, did not register as such.  Apparently mountain lions were assumed responsible for that.) 

After the sound experts have finished examining it, it takes the genius of the ship's medical technician (or whatever) to go, "Oh, yeah, that's some guy speaking Latin.  And also I speak Latin, so I know what it means."  Thank God for medical technicians!  Without them, we would never be able to distinguish between human language and the squealing of wildebeest.

The atmosphere of the film is damned good, I will say that.  The Event Horizon (the derelict ship) is seems vast and empty, and the small humans who come aboard it don't seem to fill it completely: the warmth and caring they show for each other (another thing I like a lot about the film) doesn't seem to have any effect on the chilly space that wanders off behind them on both sides of the frame.

So there's that.  There's that, there are no lights on, and the ship has just reappeared after seven years and sent a message comprised of people screaming.

It's creepy, okay?  It's creepy.  I'm creeped out by it and the rescue crew are creeped out by it.  They say so to each other.

Why, then, do they insist on making offhand comments to each other about this creepiness?  "This place is a tomb," says the captain when he visits the sickbay.  "It reminds me of a meat grinder," says another crewmember when he walks down a hallway with rotating walls. 

One of the easiest and most effective ways to scare  people absolutely shitless is to let them just talk about the creepy things they notice.  If I went into the bathroom and remarked to myself, "This toilet looks like a gaping maw that will suck my butt down into the bowels of hell the moment I sit down on it," my next thought would be, "I'll hold it," not, "On with the peeing!"

So in an already creepy situation in which your life and the lives of the people around you depend on you keeping your shit together, why would you casually comment about how scary your situation is?  YOU GUYS ARE ONLY MAKING IT WORSE.   

It's soon discovered that the original crew's disappearance has coincided with a thick layer of gore on the windows of the bridge.  Very thick.  There's the top half of a skull stuck to one sill.  And yet the rescue crew keeps referring to the "disappearance" of the derelict's inhabitants as though they have no idea what could have become of them, and even after they see the gore the captain orders a technician to work on the audiovisual resolution of the ship's final log so that they can "find out what happened to the crew."

Eventually the rescue crew (despite their severe congenital retardation) discover the video log of the demise of the derelict ship's crew.  In said log one guy reaches down another guy's throat and pulls out the other guy's innards, or at least some of them. 

I'm fairly confident that this is not physically possible.  A) your arm would have to be at an angle that would make it difficult to reach or retrieve so much as a tampon down there, and b) connective tissue is a remarkable thing.  You know, that really strong stuff that keeps our internal organs in one place?

The gory windows are a little mysterious, though.  The derelict's final log reveals that the crew raped and/or clawed each other to death (I personally would find it difficult to maintain an erection while disembowelling someone, but I'm willing to suspend disbelief), but the log doesn't show how a bunch of people who apparently died at pretty much the same time managed to spread the remains of each other over the bridge windows.

Nor why the floor is no longer covered with, if not goo, then at least blood.  Some of those pikings and disembowellings look kind of messy.

Maybe it was the dead body the rescue crew found.  Maybe that guy lived just long enough to put his fellows through a blender, daub them on the windows, and mop up the spills before expiring.  Surely janitorial would have been his first priority.  NASA inculcates a strong hygiene ethic in its astronauts.

Also?  For the record? Explosive decompression doesn't work like that.  In fact, explosive decompression doesn't really happen to the human body in space.  Your eyeballs do not explode.  Your veins do not burst through your skin.  Sorry.

What disappoints me most about the film, though, is that the story is actually pretty good, and it's not given enough time to really flower.  (God knows it had enough fertilizer.)  The rescue crew going to investigate the Event Horizon have interesting pasts, and, even more intriguingly, given that this is science fiction, each of them genuinely cares about the others.

It seems that the lieutenant once had a crush on the captain.  What became of that, and why?  What did the captain say, if anything, about it, and how does he feel about her? 

The medical technician who knows Latin has a scar running down the center of his chest and belly.  What's that about?  The first member of the rescue crew to go insane neglected his wife for his work, and she committed suicide in his absence.  Tell me more. 

The other medical technician is the mother of a young boy whose legs are inoperative.  Why does she feel so guilty about that, and what was it that caused her to divorce her husband?  Why does everyone in the crew care for each other so much? 

All of these are things that could work beautifully in a science-fiction film.  And a horror film that portrays its characters terrified by their own fears and feelings of guilt that manages to scare the audience at the same time has not yet been made. (I am looking at you, Nightmare on Elm Street III and The Haunting.) 

Different things scare different people, it's true, but I think it's fair to say that most people are disturbed by watching good people suffer and slowly lose their minds, tormented and punished by images of the things and people they care for most.  Event Horizon sets its characters up perfectly to do just that; it just doesn't go anywhere.

Fortunately for me, my brain sometimes delivers just that.  Whee.

23 September 2010 @ 11:06 am

You know what?  I am not going to see Catfish.  Ever.  JUST TO SPITE YOU, enormous Internet campaign.  You are obnoxious, and I refuse to allow you to succeed.
23 September 2010 @ 01:54 am

Well.  It appears that I neglected to take both my vitamins and my second dose of antidepressant last night, which might (or might not) explain the crash and burn I documented this afternoon.

Typically the results of skipping a dose of antidepressant manifest themselves a day later, so this was a little early; also worrisome is the fact that my evening doses are only half the size of my morning doses, meaning that I missed only one third of a daily dose.  At "normal" operation (maybe more accurately called peak operation in depressives), I wouldn't even be able to feel that, other than being a bit tired for a few hours the following day.  Shit I hate September.

Honestly, having to take a substantial dose of pills just to face going from the bedroom to the kitchen?  Fuck you sometimes, brain.  Fuck you right up the cerebrum.  OH WAIT SOMEBODY ALREADY BEAT ME TO IT.