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I just read an article about how Kids Today are ruining the film business because they don’t like “Old Stuff” – Old Stuff being defined as the first Sam Raimi Spider-man. I am generally skeptical of My Generation Vs. Other, Less Awesome Generations arguments, but I have to admit to having some of the same prejudices. For instance, since the cancellation of Eureka, there is no longer anything for us to watch on Mondays. We decided to go for a movie and De pulled all of the stuff we hadn’t watched on DVD yet. I requested we stick with lighter fare, as it was Monday. That left us with a choice between The A-Team, The Expendables and Pillow Talk. Since we had not actually seen Pillow Talk, that’s the one we went with. I should have known better.

Now my tolerance for RomComs is not terribly high at the best of times, although there is nothing wrong with the genre in theory; I happen to count The Princess Bride and Strictly Ballroom on my top 10, and those are about as heteronormative and predictable as you can get (I also really like The Sum of Us, which is somewhat less heteronormative, but still well within the bounds of the RomCom formula). But hey – there was so much cultural freight given to Doris Day and Rock Hudson I figured I should know what people were talking about.

First off, I can’t deny that there were some positive things about this movie. Unlike most RomComs of the last 15 years, Doris Day has a job – a decent job that she does not have to give up in the end. She also does not fall down at all. Lots of the wardrobe on ladies is awesome.

But the rest…

Where to start? Doris is an interior decorator with a huge collection of high-necked peignoir sets who makes enough money to afford a fancy apartment with a doorman and an elevator operator and a (drunk) housekeeper, Thelma, in expensive Manhattan, yet she is unable to get a private phone line. Maybe I’m just a jaded suburbanite – perhaps rich people had a hard time getting phone service in the 50′s – but it seems unlikely that a woman in an expensive apartment would have to share a party line with some other dude in another building entirely. Doris can never seem to pick up the phone without hearing Man Whore Rock Hudson singing a conveniently customizable love song to  one random chick after another. Doris is frustrated, because her important job requires her to be able to use the phone. This is deemed silly, because she’s a girl, and why should her “career” needs come between a Man Whore and his swerve? Judging by the smirking snarkery from Rock Hudson, I believe we are meant to sympathise with him. Silly Frigid Career Lady!  These thoughts are echoed by her (drunk) housekeeper, who notes the only thing sadder than a woman alone is one who thinks she’s not sad. Really, I’m not sure why Doris has a housekeeper of any sobriety when her apartment shows no sign of habitation whatsoever – except for the tabasco, worcestershire and bloody mary mix she keeps around for said housekeeper. Of course Thelma’s a drunk! What else is she going to do with her time?

Tony Randall is a high-class business client and creeper who states he’s in love with Doris, and why doesn’t she marry him. (because you’re all sorts of gay, you fool!) He spends the whole film stalking Doris, first buying her an expensive convertible that she rejects, and continues to harass her through the movie. She cannot avoid him because he is her client. I believe this is called sexual harrassment now, and had she been as empowered as everyone seems to think she is, she’d have handed him over to the owner of the Decorating firm she works for.  Tony Randall must be the least sympathetic “charming” character in all of cinema-dom.

Doris Day goes to the housewarming of a one of her wealthy clients. Client’s son offers to drive her home in his schmancy Olde Tyme convertible. A scene wherein he has pulled over in a remote location and is attempting to rape her is played for laughs. He mashes, she flaps her hands near his person ineffectually. Ha ha! Isn’t it funny when a woman thinks she deserves not to be sexually assualted? LOL! Silly bitch! “No! You’re a Harvard man!” and “I’m telling your mother!” have little effect on the rapist, but eventually he relents – and she allows him to take her to some sort of supper club for dancing and drinking. I hate to blame the victim here, but is there any reason she couldn’t just walk out and hail a cab? Oh yes – I see the Plot Fairy has visited – where she runs into her Man Whore phone buddy, Rock Hudson, who ditches his date, puts on an accent and pretends to be a decent, if somewhat corn-pone, human being. Did I mention he knows who she is? On account of his best Hetero-Life Mate is Tony Randall, who has spilled the beans about intending to marry her.

The rest of the movie revolves around Rock Hudson impersonating a human being and Doris Day, in an  endless array of coordinated gowns, clutches and trapeze coats, falling for him. Sometimes she wears a hat that looks like a flower pot. How do we know they’re falling for each other? Not by any sort of clever plotting or cinematography – or god forbid, acting or even the much vaunted Day-Hudson “chemistry” (which there is NONE) – we know because at random moments we hear their interior monologues in cheesy voice over. In between are interludes where Rock Hudson calls her in non-Nice-Guy mode and taunts her about her supposed nice guy, they go to a club with an African-American band and an all white clientele and everyone sings a rousing ditty extolling the virtues of a fat dude. Srsly. this is what the media wanted people in the 50′s to think was fun: Going on chaste dates with rednecks and singing a syncopation-less song with no blue notes. If you did it right soon you might get married and have matching twin beds! If you were white of course; if you weren’t, well then you were permitted entertain the White Folks provided you showed no personality of your own.

Eventually, Tony Randall discovers that his Hetero LifePartner has stolen HIS woman (never mind she had made herself perfectly clear that she was unattracted to him – I guess maybe he pissed in one of her flower pot hats when she wasn’t looking and marked his territory) and he tries to force them apart by sending Rock Hudson to Tony’s Connecticut estate to finish writing songs. Forgive me, but I’m still unclear on why Rock is writing songs for Tony – is he a music publisher? A record company exec? Or is he just a rich dude with a sheet music fetish that gets off on bossing around tall, hunky man-whores?

Any road, Rock Hudson sneaks her into Tony’s estate and they start making out. Randomly, and for no good reason, she pushes him away and then lolls about lazily while he makes a to-do about wood. for the fire, you see. And then we see him carry the wood, while he talks about wood. Subtle, guys. He goes out for a huger, manlier, more tumescent piece of wood and she frottages his coat and accidentally finds the incriminating sheet music that with the interchangeable names. (Oh! That’s why they had the corny sing-along! So we knew she could read music! Damn, it’s like Chekov’s Gun in here.) Heartbroken that the dude she was going to guiltily redeem her v-card for was actually totally lying to her, and furthermore, was a complete dick, she breaks down just as Tony Randall swoops in to take her home. What a Nice Guy.

She cries most of the way home, and Tony, who allegedly loves her, rolls his eyes and gets really cranky that this chick has these stupid emotions. Stop crying! He insists. He takes her to a diner where the only two likeable characters, through dumbass sit-com style misunderstanding, deck Tony. Ha! Good for you, nameless toughs! Later, Drunk Thelma tells apparently heartbroken Rock that the way he can get back in Doris’ good books is to hire her to decorate his apartment. Then she’ll have to spend time with him!

Rock hires Doris, she’s angry and passive aggressive and decorates his abode as befits the finest of Captain Kangaroo’s bordellos. He sees this and goes to her apartment, drags her out of bed in indecent mock turtleneck pajamas, and carries her like a sack of potatoes through the streets of Manhattan literally kicking and screaming (I would normally attempt to edit these egregious cliches out of my writing, but I fear that the cliches are all present in the film). Once again, screaming and flailing her limbs adorably, but ultimately fruitlessly, and this is again treated as the height of humor. Mothers hide their children’s faces not because a man is kidnapping a screaming woman, but because she’s clearly a bed-sheet wrapped harlot. He even passes by a policeman, who gives him an “atta-boy!” for assaulting the frigid slut. Arriving at his apartment, he angrily demands to know why she would decorate so poorly for a man who was going to propose?! (I think this is called gas-lighting) and she stops mid-argument to swoon winningly into his arms with a relieved sigh. The End.


And please do note I didn’t even get into the idiot “gags”, one involving Rock trying to get rid of Tony in a restaurant by implying he wants Tony to spend time with a super-cute fat red-head who doesn’t dance and is called “moose”. And the part where the elevator operator demands that Thelma stop drinking so he can marry her (and wouldn’t you know, she’s just been waiting for a man to tell her what to do so she obeys, swooningly) And also, the beyond stupid running gag involving Rock attempting to hide from Doris in an obstetrician’s office and complaining of “Stomach Upset”, which is somehow code for “I’m a pregnant man”. This whole thing is too stupid for me to even bother explaining it.

Anyway, I just wanted to send Doris a copy of “The Gift of Fear” and a Krav Maga manual so she can totally kick these awful, controlling, stalking ass-hats’ testicles directly into their body cavities, never again to descend upon humanity. And then I wanted a shower, and to read the S.C.U.M. Manifesto.

This. This is what the NuRepublicans want to return to: a  Movie Studio’s fictional, highly toxic view of the 50′s, where men told women what to do, and we liked it , gays were so far in the closet they could only be obliquely accused of being interested in dip recipes, minorities existed just to entertain whitey, and women wore flower-pots on their heads. Fuck that noise. And fuck this movie.

Are you smarter than a corgi-x?

(first published on my wordpress blog - ignore if you've already seen!)

I never got around to writing my annual sappy Happy Birthday Ardala post, so I’m going to make up for that here. Ardala was adopted in 2006 from the Pasadena Humane Society. She was identified as a German Shepherd Mix, but at around 25 lbs, I had my doubts. We really have no idea how old she is (they estimated 2.5 years, a vet guessed up to 5) or even how many owners she’s had – she had been picked up as a stray by another shelter, spayed and adopted and then relinquished to PHSSPCA a few months later. Our best guess as far as breed is corgi mix. Or maybe Swedish Vallhund. Though she may possibly have some Australian Cattle Dog too… basically, she’s got some herding something in her. She may even have been trained to herd by her first owner; when learning a basic “STOP IMMEDIATELY” command in our intermediate training class, we chose an arbitrary word and hand gesture and she not only did it perfectly the first time, she dropped into what the trainer called a “cattle-dog down”, meaning lying on her belly, totally still but in full alert mode. That was also the class where she herded the cocker spaniels during her free play time. Mostly she has been tremendously lazy and happy to act as a sponge for all sorts of affection from all people, dogs and the odd cat. She came to us fully housebroken and friendly as anything and we cannot for the life of us figure out who would let this dog go.

Maddeningly, Ardala’s spent most of the last 9 month sick or injured. It started with a 1.5 month ordeal of a mystery disease misdiagnosed as pancreatitis, complications due to spondylosis and a possible slipped disc. It was actually a pretty severe e. coli infection. Then there was the psych-out CCL tear, the bonus Christmas actual CCL tear and subsequent TPLO surgery and recovery, ending with the latest bout of god only knows what, characterized by inability to use either back leg, the right one pulled tight to her body, the left rigidly extended. About $1200 spent on xrays, hospitalization and drugs later, we were left again with the slipped disc diagnosis, which will be a $1500 MRI so we know where to operate, thank you very much. Following our gut we decided to take her to physical therapy, both her back legs are positioned normally, she is off the steroid, the anti- back spasm pill and the narcotic she had been prescribed, and are now working on getting her walking again. For the first time since October, she seems to be back to her old self. I had almost forgotten what her personality was like.

Yesterday De went into her room to Skype her parents. Being a herding mix Ardala gets agitated if we’re both in the house but she can’t see us simultaneously. Since she’s only on 2.9 legs right now she’s also a bit bored, and acted out as bored dogs often do – through barking. Whatever kind of mix she is, it is one possessed of a bark roughly five times louder than it should be, and as apartment dwellers, we do not have the luxury of being good trainers about this and just ignoring her. I decided to help her into De’s room, where Ardala’s exercise pen and bed also reside. I brought my book and we all sat around for a few minutes while De continued her Skype call. Ardala sniffed around the room looking for stray treats and settled on her bed. I was ready to go back to the living room when the barking began again, this time from her nest. I was reading my book, De was chatting with her parents – and Ardala was getting absolutely no attention.

Look, I know the wrong thing to do in this case was reward her, but come on! Poor thing was sick or hurt for nearly a year! She can’t run and frolic with her friends! Also, loud barking and neighbors! So I made the second Bad Servant Monkey decision of the morning and went in to her ex pen to give her pettings and attentions. She immediately gimped off her bed and pushed past me through the open door of the pen.

I’m not proud to say that I actually sat in the pen for a minute or two just staring at the empty bed and then deciding I was bored. Turning to get my book and noticed Ardala sitting quietly in alert posture, back to the ex pen door, guarding me against all intruders – or possibly preventing my escape. My own f-ing dog herded me into her ex pen.

Dog people, do not ever underestimate your pet, no matter how lazy and indolent they might seem. They are only waiting for the right moment – and the opposable thumbs – to herd us together, lock us in an ex pen and take over the world.

Where have I been?

I haven't posted here in AGES. I'm still on LJ every day checking my Friends feed, but I tend to type less here. I blame facebook, which allows quick posting of any fleeting thought thereby keeping me from ruminating on said fleeting thoughts. I've also begun to post  longer, slightly more thought-out essays on a wordpress blog, which is here: http://nerdycellist.wordpress.com

For those who are uninterested in hopping all over the place for my (faux) pearls of (dubious) wisdom, I'll start posting anything notable here. For a couple of my faves:

Adventures in seeking medical care while fat: http://nerdycellist.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/pcos-and-you/
In which Nerdy Cellist grows up and goes into debt - for a good cause: http://nerdycellist.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/38/
So clever readers of this LJ will note that I haven't posted in awhile. The excuse this time (it's not an excuse!) is Ardala's various and sundry calamities. A rough timeline - the week before Halloween, Ardala stops eating, allowing pettings and being nice. She manifests pain, and paces, whimpering literally all night. A visit to the vet results in "Yep, that's arthritis! And probably pancreatitis." and a suggestion to put her on a sensitive-tummy pancreatitis diet forever. After several days of her refusing to eat anything but chicken (and us not allowed to feed her anything tasty) and no improvement to the pacing and whimpering - now with the added benefit of peeing in the house - I call the vet for further guidance. Talk to another vet who mentions that urinalysis came back clean, no pancreatitis is present so we should feed her whatever she wanted and that her arthritis is actually Spondylosis, a painful form specific to the vertebrae. He prescribes a mild narcotic. A few days of mild improvement on the pain/sleeping front and we bring her back because she's still peeing in the house and still keeping us up. Pilling is a further adventure, as Ardala's overbite makes it tough to drop it down her throat and she has become increasingly picky about her food. Another vet visit gets us an upped dosage of the narcotic, plus some other drug for musculoskeletal pain, despite the fact that the only pain she manifested during her extensive poking and prodding was, according to that vet, possibly kidney pain. (total money spent on diagnostics at this vet - about $500, plus about $120 in meds)

Yeah. So there was some freaking out. A few days later, things had improved inasmuch as I was now getting about three hours of sleep at a time, before being woken up to take her out to pee at 3am. There was still more pee in the house. After another half week or so, we surrendered and went to a vet recommended by a friend of TR.

The upshot? Well, yeah, that's Spondylosis all right. The nerve damage that has been done to her left hind leg is irreversible - she will always drag that foot a bit... But the narcotic prescribed often has a side-effect of anxiety, and in fact there is an incredibly common drug that works in concert with the NSAID Ardala takes. The new vet took us off the muscle relaxant and the narcotic, gave us the new common drug and a prescription - just in case! - for a mild sedative should Ardala's pacing and whimpering be behavioral rather than medical. She then suggested a urine culture, which might pick up bacteria that the Urinalysis missed. Two days later we received a call - Ardala had a massive UTI, and her culture had grown more than 100k e. coli bacteria per whatever-it-is. That was very high. The first night I gave Ardala the super-strong antibiotic she let me sleep through the night. There have been no more accidents. She is now on her second course of antibiotic just to be sure. Finally, she is sleeping all night, pottying outside, friendly, happy, and just plain back to Ardala.  (new tests and vet - about $630 spent on diagnostics, plus another $170 on meds.)

She is so well in fact that she is back to greeting us upon our homecoming with enthusiastic Zoomies, which involve making a loop around the house at Maximum Ardala Warp (which isn't especially fast, but we don't tell her that) like her ass is on fire. So she did that last night, and right in the middle of her celebratory zoomie, she let out a yelp and her whole back end collapsed. She then attempted to finish by putting all her weight on her gimpy, nerve-damaged leg. It was really pathetic. So. Back to the vet. (did I mention that regular hours at this vet are 8-8, 7 days a week? and that they're open for emergencies 24/7?). A different vet at the clinic saw her and consulted with an orthopedic surgeon who was there. They are fairly certain that she did not rupture her right hind leg ACL, due to the lack of laxity in the leg. They feel that keeping up with her NSAID and keeping her away from stairs or too much running around should help her rest it enough to get back to normal.

In between all this time, we've had to work, plan a party, go to the theatre, get a new dining set, go to a professional conference, and actually feed and care for ourselves. It's harder than it looks. I have never been more certain of my desire not to have children. So today, when we just spent another $60 for the vet to say essentially "keep on keepin on", we get home and Ardala's sneezing. Like honking, sneezing, messy, snotty, accompanied by face rubbing and the occasional backwards sneeze. This is not normal for a dog, and indicates most likely that there's a foreign body in the nose just waiting to burrow into the lungs. It's like she's trying to f-ing kill us - or at least bankrupt us. I just started getting back into the cooking and cleaning routine (OK, cooking - cleaning's always a challenge, but since cooking often can't be done without it, a challenge that must be accepted) and now she's honking away like an asthmatic goose. I suppose I would be tempting the fates to ask "What next"? Scurvy? Canine Rickets? Tennis Elbow? I don't know what she wants.

Luckily a vacuum and rough swiffer of the place seems to have helped. I haven't heard any sneezing since her evening walk. We might have been better at keeping up with things like dust abatement and floor care if she hadn't been so freaking enfeebled the last month and a half.

So when I was excited to get back that bit of cello time that I had lost back in the long ago, when I was being kept up all night by a dog in lots of pain who really, really had to go due to a raging undiagnosed UTI, and I went to grab my cello from its convenient wall hanger (decorative and functional!) I noticed something funny about the A-string. The whole A-peg had just popped out of the scroll, A-string intact and still kind of looped up where it had originally been wound around the peg. I don't know how this happened. I can't imagine a scenario in which that peg could work itself out of the scroll and leave the string NOT snapped, but also completely unaffected by gravity. I just don't know. And that's my life in a nutshell right now. I mean, that peg's out; I'm going to be living on ramen for the next couple of months, paying my half of the vet bills, busy baking for the holidays (it's actually kind of relaxing), cleaning for company, trying to remember to keep myself groomed, but all in all, I'm unbroken and still standing. I'll take it.

Can we chat for a few minutes? Just between you and me...

You know that blu-ray player Target's going to have on sale on Thanksgiving?You don't? OK, so you know how Target is going to be open on the evening of Thanksgiving? Yeah, no shit. The actual evening - not justmidnight on Black Friday, like the rest of retail hell. No, the Big Bosses of Target, who most certainly will not be working any time near Thanksgiving, have decided to make the poor bastards who don't earn enough to pay rent and buy groceries come in on Thanksgiving to work. First off, don't kid yourselves; no one is getting time-and-a-half, or holiday pay, or any kind of bonus. Their "bonus" is not being fired. The poor shmucks whose shins you're battering so you can get that lead-infested thingummy made in China for a 10% discount are required to be there, whether they wanted to or not. According to these big-brained, overpaid jack-wagons, this decision (which will notaffect them in the least. ever) is so they can help provide you and I, the consumers, with Super Duper Bargains for the holidays. Yeah, I'd like to talk about this a little.

I worked retail for about a decade. Yep - my entire 20's was spent wearing a name-tag and pretending to be friendly. Luckily most of this work was done in bookstores, which tend to be a little less frenzied than other places, if for no other reason than we catered to people who read. Other than a hot Harry Potter midnight release party - entirely voluntary and actually quite festive - we didn't go in for those "door buster" wake up at 2 in the morning shenanigans. The Holidays were always rough. We got a lot of customers who were shopping for someone else - many non-readers, in other words - and in general it was more stressful. Over a decade later I can remember my least favorite customer. She came up to the counter in her WalMart smock, railing against us for ruining her whole family's Christmas. I am not exaggerating. That's what she said, at roughly the same volume as a 767 taking off. I should have been allowed to wear hearing protection."I WANT EVERYONE IN THE STORE TO KNOW YOU RUINED! MY! CHRISTMAS!!1eleventy!e089!"

I must be a pretty powerful grinch.This is how we ruined her family's celebration of the Birth of Christ: she ordered a book full of cheat codes for some video game. She came in to pick up said book, despite the fact that we hadn't called to let her know that it had been received. Instead, she lied and said we did call, just like the Baby Jesus would want. When all computer checks showed that the book had not been received, she decided to scream at the top of her lungs and lie some more. Desirous of getting the fuck away from her bugfuck insanity, I went and checked all possible shelves, from the hold shelves, to the video game shelves, to the "to be called" shelves in the back. A fortuitous shipment received literally the moment I went into the back room deposited a box of special orders. I opened the box and found her cheat codes book. I scanned it in to "receive" it and then went calmly back to the register. In a clear tone entirely devoid of yelling and yet capable of being heard many aisles away (thank you, theatrical training) I mentioned that she had been mistaken, she had never been called, and in fact the book had only just then beenreceived. I wished her a Merry Christmas. And then I fumed.

How Dare another member of the Brotherhood of Oppressed Retail Workers pull that lying, hysterical bullshit? If her family's Christmas was literally ruined because little Bobby would be forced to figure out how to play an expensive video game all by himself, didn't she deserve it for raising such an ignorant brood? Christmas - which I am reliably informed by hysterical "christians" - has some kind of war going on against it, even as we speak. Is that war being waged by the retail workers who may possibly keep you from spending money? After all, isn't the True Meaning of Christmas about abusing anyone who can't fight back, and then spending money you don't have on crap no one actually needs?

So this ever-expanding retail holiday fuckery. Let's get back to that.  And let's say this year's big ticket is a $40 blu-ray player. Setting aside for a moment the "do you really want to spend money on a transitional piece of technology and then have to re-buy your entire DVD collection" because actually I work in this industry and it's in my best interest that you do indeed re-buy all your stuff, let's think about this $40 blu-ray player. You are aware that this isn't the blu-ray player you've been looking at, hoping you could afford. It doesn't have those bells and whistles that the a-little-too-expensive model you've been coveting has. Not only is it missing some of the fancy blu-ray technology, but most likely it's from some manufacturer you've never heard of. And if it is a manufacturer you've heard of, it will be poorly made - like the WalMart versions of national brands that are cheaper because Sony (for instance) is producing a shitty, cheap model just for WalMart. If you saw this blu-ray player for $50 without all the manufactured hype you'd probably wrinkle your nose and move on. This Black Friday bluray player is actually blu-ray player-shaped, and will kind of sort of play blu-ray discs, albeit with a much higher failure rate than other, slightly more expensive players, and there's a pretty good chance that within the next six months it will totally crap out, enabling you to maybe save a little more money to buy the one you were looking for in the first place.

Look, if you need a blu-ray player - or a flat-screen, or a 1000 piece bucket of legos, or a life-size barbie dollhouse - if you really need this plastic stuff that's made in China, that will wind up in a landfill before the decade is out, well, that's between you and your God. I need some stupid shit too - my amazon wishlist reminds me every day that the KitchenAid Standmixer, the iPod, the Bissell Spot-Bot, and the non-stick madeleine pan are just waiting to be purchased so they can make my life ever-so-much-more perfect. Lord knows I'm not sitting her with my tofurkey and nut-loaf whilst I upcycle goodwill sweaters into pot-holders for everyone on my Christmas list. But if you need those things... THEY WILL BE CHEAPER ON THE INTERNET!!! WHERE YOU CAN SHOP AT ANY TIME, IN YOUR UNDERWEAR!!! Even in the event that Target's cut-rate, piece of shit blu-ray player is, Oh, I don't know, $20 more expensive online (where you can read the reviews of people who note that it destroys 50% of the blu-rays they put in it, and that it is now a rather expensive cup-holder), isn't it worth $20 to you not to have to stand in the cold, not to justify keeping low-paid impoverished grunt-workers at work at 2am? Isn't it worth $20 to spend alittle more time with your family, or your pets, or even just playing drunken yahtzee with friends? How much is it worth to not contribute materially to the amorphous free-floating anxiety and anger that have taken over the holiday? Think of the aggravation of standing in lines, fighting over crap, yelling, being bitched at for taking that Last Thing that will RUIN THAT PERSON'S CHRISTMAS. Isn't that worth $20 to you? If I gave you $20, would you stop making it profitable (to upper management) for these companies to crap all over the employees - and us (seriously, thisstuff is some awful-shoddy crap) by staying home during the wee hours of Thanksgiving? I'm not saying don't shop. I'm just saying let there be one or two days a year where you're not contributing to that layer of evil hiding out behind he ozone. Because at this point, I'm willing to say that if you show up at a store on Thanksgiving for anything that is not insulin or baby formula then you are just as bad as the people who buy dogs from Pet Stores knowing that they came from puppy mills. It's just a matter of where exactly you fit on the continuum from Ignorant to Evil.


So Ardala had some adventures with the vet this weekend. A sturdy corgi-mix with a sweet disposition, Ardala's probably around 10 years old by now. Her annual physical revealed a small amount of arthritis, but nothing atypical for a dog of her age, and her acid reflux is a known problem, treated by giving her doses of pepcid at the change of seasons and anytime our schedule gets wacky. She's been good.

But this last week she stopped eating. We thought she was just getting picky, and that as in the past, she'd snap out of it. It became increasingly more difficult to even get high-value treats like turkey in her food-hole. Then she started whining and crying non-stop, waking us in the middle of the night, even going so far as to sleep in my room, which she hasn't done since I got the new bed. We made a vet appointment, expecting maybe she had some tooth or gum problems. Turns out, not so much. Xrays were ordered, a urinalysis was done (there was another peeing-inside incident) and $400 later we got the dx: pancreatitis and nerve damage. The pancreatitis it turns out commonly accompanies acid reflux. We should have given her pepcid every day, not just "as needed". The nerve damage in her back hind leg is due to some moderate arthritis in her sacrum, which when inflamed can cause pain in the hip area, and numbness in the leg. The vet demonstrated this by lifting Ardala's right leg slightly and bending the paw backwards. Ardala's reflex was to flex the foot back forward. The left foot was a different story; the vet folded it backwards and Ardala didn't even seem to notice. She even let it sit on the table for awhile (I have no idea if she put weight on it). It explained her occasional little hop, her knock-kneed pivots, and her gimpyness.  Her digestive irritation kept her from eating, and her arthritis pain kept her up and crying all that time. Poor puppy!

The treatment's not too complicated though: Pepcid and Metacam every day, adding Glucosamine when the bland diet is done, and switching to a lower fat food. While the vet informed us that both her regular food and her treats were high quality, we found her food manufacturer made a slightly lower fat kibble, so we stopped by the pet boutique to pick up the supplements and new kibble - without Ardala in tow (getting an arthritic dog in and out of a coupe is hard work). While chatting with the cashier, who had been a vet tech and was going to veterinary school, we mentioned that our pup had some arthritis. He brightened up and dispensed some free advice:

"You know, losing weight is really good for arthritis! It helps their joints!"

You don't say?
Do you see my dog here?
Do you have any idea how much this invisible dog, who is at home, weighs?
Are you the vet and vet tech who examined her this morning and commented on how fit she was, and how shiny her coat is?
Is starving a dog, as I would have to do to get her to the same emaciated size she was when we adopted her, more pleasant than a little arthritis pain?
If she weighed the same as a min-pin, would her arthritis go away?
Do whippets never get arthritis?

Why does this sound so much like every other doctor discussion I've had in the last 10 years. "I seem to be having problems with..." "HAVE YOU TRIED LOSING WEIGHT? WANT A LAP BAND? HOW ABOUT AN EXPERIMENTAL INJECTIBLE NOT COVERED BY INSURANCE?"

Is it only California, or is this the new trend in medical care for both quadrupeds and bi-peds across the nation? What about exotics? Anyone encouraged to put their corn snake on a treadmill? Provide low-fat crickets for their aging tarantula?

And finally, is the proper response to this sort of insolence perhaps something along the lines of "Fuck you very much"? Because if not, it's going to be from now on.

A Little Medical Update

Since my last post was full of le snark, I thought I'd just mention the outcome of my last appointment.

I got back from my vacation to a my doc's caller ID on my home phone and voice mail on my work phone (why, oh why can't doctors pay attention to the notes in the chart where it says CALL CELL PHONE FOR VOICE MAIL?). Since he had only renewed my Cholesterol/Thyroid/BP/BC meds and promised a phone call to set an emergency follow-up appointment when my blood test results came back as terrible as he had predicted, I was expecting to have to call to schedule that appointment. What I got instead was -

Hormones - still lousy. Possibly because of the lack of BCP. We'll check that in three months.

Thyroid - lousy (oddly enough, he prescribed the second-to-last-dosage of my thyroid meds, which I'm not going to have to get him to fix, since I'm getting sleepy around 7pm.)

Cholesterol - not great, but somehow much better than three years ago (notwithstanding my forbidden love affair with the bacon-wrapped-hot-dog.) Keep taking the Lovaza (which I hadn't taken for two years) and we'll see.

Blood Sugars - ah yes, the dreaded Diabeetus, threatened at every fat person evar. Insulin resistance, a side-effect of the PCOS I'm seeing this doc for, is the precurser to Teh Diabeetus. The second thing every doc I've seen in the last 10 years does after berating my fatness and informing me of my Borderline Diabetic results is immediately prescribe Metformin, which supposedly helps these numbers. However... even after ditching the metformin for about 3 years and gaining 10 lbs (or was that losing 5? I don't even know anymore) Dr. Ursofat pronounces my blood sugars "good"! No metformin, no lecture, no early follow-up appointment of doom. Hah! Eff you, everyone!!!!

So after three years of no treatment and spotty prescription refills, why have the test results for anything I can supposedly control by being less fat improved? Honestly, besides the truthful "I've added some fruits and veg to my diet, and am growing ever fonder of fish" I think it's an outgrowth of TR's allergies; she had a big and random allergy attack at the end of last year which caused us to eat out much less frequently, no longer utilize pizza deliver services or foods you can order through windows as a hunger-stopgap. Our grocery budget is ridonkulous, and I still enjoy baking, candymaking and cheese. Sometimes I have to grab something gross at Carls for lunch even, but just the everyday avoidance of the processed foods that involve corn byproducts as fillers and preservatives (and that's most of them folks - you try and find something pre-packaged that doesn't have dextrose, maltodextrin or "modified food starch".) has I believed improved my health ever so slightly.

So my new goal? To keep on keepin' on - eat plenty of breads, cheese, meat, and desserts while ocasionally tossing in some veggies or a mango. I'd love to hear him lecture me on being fat while praising me for getting my cholesterol and blood sugars under control. Because I'm kind of an asshole like that.

Medical Whatnot

A couple of weeks ago, after determining that no refills of the magical pills that keep me from killing jerkwads in the face for a few days a month (and also keep from passing out due to anemia and ruining chairs shortly after jerkwad killing time) and the little wonders that allow me to stay awake during normal awake-time and not gain 25 lbs a month would be in the offing until I saw a Doctor, I hied me to my Endocrinologist. Perhaps I have spoken of him here before. Last I checked, he made nearly my annual salary from Pharmaceutical Co. endorsements alone (and those were just the disclosed ones), offered to give me a fraudulent diabetes dx so my insurance would cover a brand new injectable only approved for diabetics that was like "... a lap band in a box!" and generally blames all my problems on my weight, when in reality, the weight is a symptom of everything I'm seeing him to manage. Keeping in mind the best interest of jerkwads and furniture throughout the world, I decided I would risk the aggravation. 

On the plus side, the Infotainment Big Pharma sponsored TVs were gone from the waiting room, and the (deliberately, I'm beginning to suspect) anxiety producing automatic Blood Pressure cuff iron maidens had also disappeared. This meant that despite not having taken BP meds in months, I had only mildly elevated BP, which can be directly attributed to White Coat Syndrome at this point. Bouyed by the lack of nursely concern over my imminent stroke, I sat in the Doc's office and decided to approach the impending consult with an air of cheerful detachment. When the exam started, I realized I had finally figured him out; everything he says is complete boilerplate, and entirely independent of any preceding boilerplate he may have announced only twelve seconds before. To wit, he looked quickly at my chart and shook his head (the tsking, while silent, was still there) and admonished me for having waited for three years to come back, noting that I had gained an entire 5 lbs since then. He paused, to add gravitas to the shaming. I cocked an eyebrow, silently celebrating that I had only gained 5 lbs in three years, suspecting that those 5 lbs were actually all in my tits anyway.

Then he had me hold my arms out parallel with the ground groped my neck, and poked concernedly at my ankle. "You're probably retaining about 10 lbs worth of water right now." he said, as if I have any control over whether my body wants to retain water. I shrugged as I wondered why you would measure fluid in weight rather than volume, calculating that I had an extra 1.3 gallons of water sloshing about under my skin, when I realized that If I had gained an entire, hideous 5 lbs in three years, and that 10 lbs of my body weight was retained water, that in fact, I HAD LOST 5 LBS IN THREE YEARS, BITCHEZ! when he came up with the familiar non-sequiter - "What are you doing to lose weight?" 

Now because I was busy working out a 2nd Grade story problem in my head, and because I was raised not to sass the person responsible for making sure the douchecanoes and fucknuggets of the world remained totally capitated at all times and keeping me out of jail, I gave him some malarky about eating more fresh fruits and vegetables - which is true, as far as it goes, but I did omit the part about how I learned how easy it was to make a bacon-wrapped hot dog, served with onions, sour cream, maybe some guac, and a healthy portion of cheese... but what I really should have told him about What I Am Doing To Lose Weight is any one of the following:
  • I'm planning on having a recreational double mastectomy
  • I'm eating nothing but the slimy film left on the lids of yogurt cups
  • Synchronized cock-punching. Want me to demonstrate?
  • I'm getting a hair cut!
  • I'm seeing an Endocrinologist, who can help me manage my hormone and cortisol levels, with a special eye toward thyroid function.
  • I'm practicing severe self-loathing. I really, really hate my disgusting fat self. Is that good enough for you, doc?

I made the obligatory 3month follow-up - he renewed my scrips and said his staff would call me if anything alarming showed up in the tests. It's been two weeks, and no call, so either my tests are no different than they were three years ago, or his staff are incompetent. Probably both, knowing his staff, but rest assured - I'm all calm, and normal, and not falling asleep at 5pm or being honest with the deserving dickish so all is well.

Drowning in Music

Picked up the cello again last night, for the first time in... oh, I don't know, let's just say a lot of weeks. I had dad install my cello hanger when the rents were out here in March. I positioned it high enough so that I could leave the endpin extended. There are so many reasons not to practice that hauling out the fiberglass case, unlatching it, removing the cello and bow and even extending the endpin (and then finding a place to stash the case while holding the cello, or putting the cello up somewhere while case-stashing. I have space issues in my practice area) have in the past sadly constituted legitimate reasons for practice procrastination. But despite the convenience of said cello hanger, I have once again not practiced much, due less to procrastination issues, and more out of fear. The voice in your head that says "Wow, it's been awhile since you've touched the instrument! I'll bet you have no calluses left. Have fun with that 4th position on your A-string!" and then later, "It's been so long since you've practiced you probably sound really crappy. Like, you've regressed back to 4th grade and it will be gross. Why don't you find that old copy of 'Go Tell Aunt Rhody' and see if you can get that up to speed." It's depressing. And it's so much easier for me to sing in tune - to "learn" a song to a decent performance standard. I could always fall back on that.

This week I decided, well eff-that. Seriously. Eff it. Even if I regressed back to the 7th grade, when my jr. hi orchestra was given our first non-dumbed-down piece of music (Eine Kleine Nachtmusik FTW!) that's still better than most people. Not most cellists, naturally, but not everyone is lucky enough to have a cello, even if it is a bundle of plywood waiting patiently for its destiny as kindling. So I volunteered to play a piece of music at church when our organ is out of commission. Nothing forces a crabby procrastinator to practice more than a deadline and the possibility of public humiliation. I dug up a piece last night - one that I have played but never performed. It's pretty but not challenging. It will require some polishing, but it is well within my skill set, even with my sadly de-callused pinky finger. And the practicing... did not go poorly. In fact, it is promising. I have no idea what I was so afraid of - the cello did not bite me or throw me into the basement. The cello is not a big spider.

I've been starting to wonder if I should learn the guitar, and the irrational desire for my arch-nemesis, The Piano *boo hiss* has made itself known as well. But I can't pick up something new until I get the cello back on track, but that's OK, because my bow is rosined, my floordrobe has been cleared to make room for my music stand, and the cello is on the wall with the endpin extended - and I have extremely tolerant neighbors.

Now to learn this vocal solo for next Sunday's church service...

The Nerdycellist Sings Again!

For those who haven't seen it yet, here is my performance at this year's St. Thomas The Apostle Choir Follies. The theme was "A Night At The Copa", and it had a sort of 60's nightclub/latin vibe. This is not the most flattering angle I've ever been filmed at, but I think I sound good, so I'm posting it anyway!