Showing posts from February, 2016

Monday Mystery: The Riddle of the Autobahn

Günther Stoll was afraid.

In 1984, Stoll was unemployed, and suffering from paranoia. "They" were out to harm him, he told his wife. He had told her this before and nothing had come of it. She did her best to soothe him, as she always did. He subsided into thought for a while before abruptly sitting up in his chair and crying, „Jetzt geht mir ein Licht auf!” (lit., "Now the light dawns on me!"; coll. "I've got it!")

He snatched up a notepad and pen and wrote YOG'TZE. Or possibly YO6'TZE. No one is quite sure. He scratched the characters out as soon as he'd written them down, and told his wife he was going down the pub to have a drink.

She let him go. Perhaps she thought this was a comfortingly normal thing for him to do.

Stoll passed out cold at the bar. People do that from time to time, but usually they've had a few beforehand. Stoll had ordered a beer and then not managed to drink it before keeling over. He picked himself up off the …
Rat update: They are settling in nicely. They have already figured out that when I take their bowl away, it's going to come back with food in it. They are starting to catch on that whenever Mommy is happy, sad, angry, frustrated, bored, anxious, impatient, tired, awake, or any other emotion really, she deals with it by poking food through the bars of their cage. "Keeping Arabella company," is an exceedingly cushy gig for a rat. I promised the little boogers they'd be fat all their lives, and I intend to follow through.

The dumbo has such a flat skull and such low-set ears, he looks like he's had his little head bonked in with a dictionary. He has been christened Duke Dimwit of Flathead, in the grand Infocom style. Presumably a distant ancestor of Lord Dimwit Flathead the Excessive. His Grace is probably going to be the alpha rat, and he's probably also going to be a benevolent dictator. Dumbos usually are. Rats with the dumbo mutation generally get to be big …

Saturday Serial: The Count of Monte Cristo part 9

Just so everyone is clear on this, the only feedback I expect when I post about being poor or feeling lousy is to not be complained at for schedule slippage. I was taken to task several years ago by some people who pointed out that I am one of those prey animals who tries to avoid being eaten by bluffing health right up until the point where I drop over dead. Since nobody is trying to eat me anymore, this is a very stupid way to handle things, and it was further pointed out that perhaps I could avoid the dropping-over-dead part if I let people know I needed some breathing room.

I concede the logic of this. I'm working on it.

I also feel like a colossal black hole of uselessness when people respond with anything beyond not shouting at me. This is nobody's fault. People who send thank-yous and donations and pictures of rats hugging teddy bears are wonderful. Thank you all. I am working on this one, too.

The fundamental problem is that I still believe that the set of things I am …
While I was dragging groceries home late last week, the world suddenly dropped out from under me.

I've learnt to ignore this. A friend posted something on her private journal the other day, wondering about individual experiences and how on Earth other people could just not be hungry when food was so wonderful. I let her know that ignoring things that have gone wrong is a survival tactic when your autonomic nervous system has some form of oppositional-defiant disorder and is never in a state of comfortable equilibrium. If I stopped to tend everything that went awry, I'd do nothing but cry and put out fires. Nobody has a whole lot of patience for this, so you learn to triage and shut off the warning bells on things that aren't an immediate emergency.

In this case, as I was trudging, I was thinking of writing up another analytical blog post on body language, which I haven't done in a while, using as an example a particular YouTube video I'd recently run across. My ini…
Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright are unhappy that young American women aren't voting en masse for Hillary Clinton. They seem somewhat miffed that their efforts to change the world did not result in precisely the outcome they envisioned. As far as I can tell, what they and their wave of feminism were going for was a world in which gender was completely irrelevant except in the matter of tribal affiliation. Women would achieve as much as men, but also retain WOMANHOOD as their primary cultural identity -- regardless of ethnic background, cultural ties, socioeconomic status, education level, career path, etc. -- and consequently the primary target for their altruism. So basically, lip service aside, they're agitating for an old girls' club instead of an old boys' club.

Special place in Hell, indeed. For the love of fuck, shut up before the redpill lunatics hear you.

Jessica Williams had a beautiful, sarcastic response ("I literally vote with my vagina! These thi…
As you may have noticed, I skipped the Monday Mystery this week. The good news is, I was a bit busy with this:

Getting rodents to sit still for a portrait is a losing battle, so just imagine another three of those, and you have the general idea. I may end up with a fifth; another potential adoptive rat-mommy was still pondering whether she wanted one or two of the last three. Rats really ought to go with a buddy, if there isn't any pre-existing rattage for them to come home to, so I told the lady that if she were left with a singleton, I could come back for him, too. I managed not to take all seven mainly because I hadn't brought a big enough transport box.

The first pair of rats I had came down with rat-sniffles, and making the vet appointment took about five times as long as it ought to have done, because I could not get the receptionist to understand that they were not rexes or sphinxes or albinos or any other kind of fancy breeder rat. We went round and round for a while b…

Saturday Serial: The Count of Monte Cristo part 8


Just a heads up, I'll be filling the third chair on Beyond The Horizon Radio tomorrow morning, 2/20, from noon-3p Eastern. You can listen to "The Show With B.S." here at their streaming page, or watch the video as it's simulcast on
So I've been taking the L-DOPA bean supplement things for about a week and a half now. It's been enlightening.

Everything that does something also does about a million unexpected other things. The allergy medication that works also makes me stupid. Tylenol on an empty stomach makes the headache go away, but also makes me queasy. Propranolol stopped a panic attack, but also gave me a wet croupy cough that worried the doctor. And so on and so forth. Mostly these things are somewhere between annoying and life-threatening, and I have to sit there and weigh the pros and cons and figure out whether whatever it is fixes more things than it breaks.

The Mucuna pruriens has fixed a lot more things than I expected. I technically knew most of them had gone "wrong", but I was ignoring them because they were non-fatal, and even the internets just shrug when asked if anything can be done about them. I seem to have inadvertently fixed the late night leg-twitchy thing, for instance, …
I'm informed that Lady Gaga soloed a Bowie tribute at the Grammys. I have not seen it. I watched the opening with the face-tracking projector effect, then winced and turned it off. I'm pretty vocal in my dislike of her; I don't wish her ill, but I do wish she'd spontaneously decide she was rich enough already and retire to a tropical island somewhere. I have no problem with her being as weird as she wants, and I even concede her right to be weird specifically in order to sell records even if I'm not going to buy them, but I find her insistence that this claptrap is meaningful to be pretentious at best.

If you ask me, and nobody did, the tribute should have been given to a handful of artists instead. Perhaps one of them would have butchered his songs less than people are telling me she did.

And if you'd insisted on handing it over to a solo artist, I'd have scared up Brian Molko, with or without the rest of his band.

Molko is frontman for a band called Place…

Monday Mystery: A Hard Day's Night

Musicians, musicologists, and fans have been debating for over fifty years now what, exactly, goes into the opening clang in the Beatles' famous tune, "A Hard Day's Night". The movie mix above is slightly different from the single and the album -- the album/single releases were in mono; the movie was in STEREO! Zowie! -- but there's only one set of source tapes, so the chord is the same.

You could ask the Beatles what it was, and people have. Amusingly, none of them could really remember. Some of them have guessed at what it was from time to time, but their guesses were never consistent. George Harrison seems to have had the best idea, but even he had no idea what Macca was doing over at his mic. None of them read or wrote formal music notation, either; when they needed to give complicated instruction to session musicians, they went through someone else.  Often it was their producer, George Martin, a legend in the industry.

(He has now passed that title on to hi…

Saturday Serial: The Count of Monte Cristo part 7

I really hate it when I have to use gift cards to buy necessary things. It's annoying on a par with having to use dextromethorphan to treat an actual cough. Seems such a waste of potential fun.

This round was stupid sundries like vitamins, and a bottle of something that says Mucuna pruriens on the front, but is really just a bottle of low-dose capsules of L-DOPA.

Just to be clear: I am not to be used as a role model. Levodopa is a moderately dangerous thing to be fucking around with, about on a par with my benzos. Barring some kind of weird allergic reaction, taking a dose or two to see what happens shouldn't hurt, but if you start eating the things like candy over a long period of time, you run the risk of screwing up various chemical dependencies and receptor sensitivities on either a temporary or permanent basis. Knock back the bottle and win a trip to the ER. Do not do what I do. I'm just willing to risk it because so many of the standard medical treatments make me wor…
Several nights ago, I had the good fortune to acquire, at the very last minute, a pair of tickets to a special showing of Labyrinth at the Brattle Theatre. I took Jazmin with me, and pointed out that, being a Bowie tribute taking place down in Harvard Square -- a place crawling with self-aware weirdos even when the weirdo community isn't in active mourning -- at least a few people in the crowd were likely to dress up. If she wanted to wear any of the evening gowns she'd snagged when she modeled for one of my dearest designers, that event might be a good time.

I wore trousers, boots, a ruffled blouse, and a long coat with satin lapels, topped with a fedora. Menswear, basically. Minimal makeup. I do not drag up especially well. I probably could, if cast as male and given time to work on that specific character, but in general, the note I hit is less Billy Tipton than Marlene Dietrich. I'm still distinctly me, just in clothing of a style that's traditionally considered mo…

Monday Mystery: The Man Who Never Existed

On a bright, sunny day in June, 2009, a man named Peter Bergmann checked into a hotel in Sligo, Ireland. He had no reservation, but arrived alone and requested a room for three days.

Bergmann was quiet, say the staff, and kept to himself. He declined to let the cleaners into the room. Every time he left the hotel, he was caught on the lobby cameras with a purple shopping bag. When he came back, he carried nothing. He stopped at the post office and bought a number of airmail stamps, presumably to send mail to friends, family, or business associates, but otherwise seemed to contact no one, local or distant.

Peter Bergmann checked out at the end of his stay, and vanished. Temporarily. He was quickly traced to a café, where he had purchased a sandwich, and from there to a local scenic beach. His body later, sadly, washed ashore; an autopsy found he was suffering from late stage bone and prostate cancer, among numerous other health problems.

Curiously, the same autopsy showed no clear caus…

Saturday Serial: The Count of Monte Cristo part 6

One of my greatest difficulties in life is figuring out what other people think of me.

You would think that with the amount of gear-grinding I do working out the thought processes of other humans, I would be better at that, but no. I like to think I have at least average acuity at realizing when someone wants me to go away, and nowadays I can usually work out when I'm being hit on. When someone's interacting with me directly, I'm good at figuring out if I'm communicating my mood correctly, mainly because that's the one thing I ever bother lying about. (When people care that I'm having a shitty day, they want to express it by giving me attention, which unbeknownst to them is just about the last thing I need. Easier to not get into the explanation.) Other than that, it's mostly a big, hollow question mark.

It is not necessarily an absence of feedback. I tend to ignore gripes unless they're constructive criticism about something I can change, but I've …
Sick. Drugged. Fuck germs. Thought it might be time to watch The Man Who Fell To Earth, since I am obviously not going to be moving or thinking very many concrete things for a while.

I have already viewed this film on a number of occasions. I remember none of them well, mainly because it was in college, and I was stoned every single time. I may figure out what the thing is about this time around, but given that it's a 1976 adaptation of a nihilistic 1963 science-fiction novel, starring David Bowie as essentially himself if you substitute "literally extraterrestrial" for "insufflating such vast quantities of cocaine he might as well be from outer space," I doubt it.

I must have absorbed some of it subliminally; I did pretty much this to my bangs not long afterward, and kept it that way until I got tired of giving money to the hairdresser. It looked perhaps slightly less natural on me, which is hilarious, because my real hair color is about as close as you can ge…
You can dig up a lot of video of David Bowie. He was in the public eye for most of his life. In this clip he's twenty-seven. In this one, thirty-six. In that one, fifty. A human being who is now gone will always be twenty-seven, thirty-six, fifty years old, in these strings of flashing pictures. The oldest pieces have nicks and scratches burnt into the picture, testifying to their origins on cheap film. Drawn in front of a lens by Clotho, wound by Lachesis onto a spool like a spindle, cut off by Atropos at the end of the reel. They are discontinuous snippets of a life that will last forever. The Video Fates don't so much weave a tapestry as they knit in intarsia.

Bowie was charming. (Is charming. My brain thinks that running media is in the present tense, and I am tired of fixing verbs.) He is intelligent, and obstinate enough to keep getting up on stage despite starting out brutally shy. In 1974 -- in the video where it is always 1974 -- he is shockingly thin and milk-white. …