Saturday, September 26, 2009

I Am Michiko Kakutani


- - - -

What started as a basically innocent college prank has gotten seriously out of hand, and, at the urging of the small group of people who know the truth, I have decided to come forward and admit it.

I am Michiko Kakutani.

Many people will have a hard time accepting the idea that a basically undistinguished middle-aged white man living in Hartford, Connecticut, is actually the brilliant, acerbic, reclusive, rarely photographed lynx-like New York Times book critic and Pulitzer winner.

But I am.

[read the rest here]

Wordle Challenge #8

New rule: Wordlemeister Fresca must wait 24 hours from the time of this posting before attempting (ar ar ar!) to solve Wordle Challenge #8. [Originally posted 9/19]

The Retired Educator has spoken. Long live the Retired Educator.

We have new prizes as incentive! Winner of Wordle Challenge #8 will have the chance to escort La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore to the local Dairy Queen, just a few kilometers south of Captain Haddock's Ancestral Home. You can pick her up anytime...

We'll leave the drawbridge down and take the alligators out of The Moat.

Directions: Unscramble the Wordle below, then identify the novel and author from which the Wordle was formed.

Oh... and Fresca? You must identify the page number and correct edition. It's only fair to the others... Others? If you're confused, check out the distinguished history of Wordle Challenges, issued from the heart of Marlinspike Hall, always deep, deep in the Tête de Hergé.

Wordle: Wordle Challenge #8

Good luck!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Glenn Beck

It's getting very ugly out there, which goes a long way in explaining why I am in here, safely ensconced in Marlinspike Hall, deep, deep in the Tête de Hergé. The barracuda are back in The Moat, and the drawbridge is up.

Uncle Kitty Big Balls is patrolling the perimeter; Marmy is sporting a lovely pink -- kind of a '50s retro style -- kevlar helmit; Sam-I-Am was last seen burrowing under the layers of tapestry surrounding La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore's gigantic platform bed, an excellent replica of François le Premier's renaissance digs; Dobby, ever stalwart, stares Evil straight in the eye, his breast bare -- oh, don't worry, I will protect The Dobster, who knows only good intentions, having known only us.

Sammy, too, since his tail is sticking out from under the bed curtains, making him another easy target. The Castafiore has been on a binge since criticizing doctortainer Phil McGraw and his minions -- she's terrified that he'll come after her "like a hound dog's white rice."

[Bianca gets her homely homilies mixed up sometimes. She keeps yelling at me, for instance, that "That Dick Cheney won't hunt!" and demanding to know if someone has written "stupendous" on her forehead.]

Anyway, at least I know where she is -- I've only to follow the snores. It's something of a ludicrous vision, as she is still wearing her costume from last night's operatic presentation of... well, you know. I've moved the damn miroir out of harm's way, should there be an invasion. And she thinks I don't care...

I know, I know, she's at least a warm body, and is, at heart, a Person of Quality -- but I am still recovering from her "help" during Spring Cleaning.

I'm afraid for Fred. He once took on Bill O'Reilly, and was acquiting himself quite well, when that coward tagteamed him with the corpulent Limbaugh. We're still paying on that emergency room bill. Fred is out shopping (If it's Friday, it must be bouillabaisse!), but phoned an hour ago with reconnaisance reports on Sean Hannity and Michael Savage, who were both attempting to hide behind some mammoth fennel bulbs. Fred will sneak back into Marlinspike Hall via secret passsageway, once he gets hold of some turbot.

I can't hold off The Intruders all by my lonesome!

How did it reach this point? How ever did it get this bad?

Back in the Good Old Days -- that would be July, in case you've forgotten -- Glenn Beck saw that it was the right time, according to his basal temperature chart, to fertilize the airways. I think that was when we first spotted Salem Radio Network executives chasing The Four Local Infidels across our scale replica of Wimbledon courts 1-19 (plus Centre Court). Who could forget?

Fast-forward almost two months, to Katie Couric's recent interview for further indepth explanation of the intricacies of race relations in America, beginning with the definition of "White Culture":

I didn't know George Bush' grandmother was "a typical African-American woman." I know a few million people who will be mighty suh-prized.

It's tempting to name Glenn Beck a "tool," and move on. At least once a day, more if I'm feeling adventurous, I toy with that dividing line between what is funny or pathetic, and what scares me to death.

But there isn't time to luxuriate in scoffs and derision; There's not even a spare moment for a self-satisfied smirk. We cannot dismiss this unreasoned hatred, and we've few laurels on which to rest. Notice that I have lapsed into "we"-speech, ever hopeful.

The future I had hoped to enjoy is become dependent on the constant deflection of negativity -- no matter that it is fuelled by ignorance, no matter how ludicrous its provenance.

GlennBeck has announced that Cass Sunstein, Mark Lloyd, and Carol Browner are his next targets and asked his followers to dig up all the dirt they can on them.

Cass Sunstein heads the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. He’s a legal scholar, particularly in the fields of constitutional law, administrative law, environmental law, and law and behavioral economics.

Mark Lloyd is the associate general counsel and Chief Diversity Officer at the Federal Communications Commission. Previously, he served as Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

Carol Browner is Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change in the Obama Administration. Browner previously served as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton Administration in the United States.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Calling Nurse K! Code Blog, Code Blog...

I'm taking a fucking hiatus.
Love ya,
Nurse K

That was the love note that Nurse K left to the more ancillary arm of her website devotees, and that was way back on 9 September.

I want to put her officially on notice that I am going into withdrawal. I check the vital signs of Crass Pollination: An ER Blog three times a day, without fail. Pressure is a little low, heart rate a little fast, but resps are a normal 16-20.

And I want Nurse K to know, in a more serious vein, that her readers are hoping that all is well, or getting there, in Nurse K Land. If there's anything we can do to help... [Yes, I am imagining her snarking me: "As if. As if you could help. You have no friggin' clue."]

Maybe she'll return to us reformed. A progressive Democrat. Dare I utter the S-word?

I challenge *anyone* to write a blog post calling for the Perpetual Approval and Even Expansion of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act -- very commonly known among bleeding-heart liberals as PAEE/EMTALA.

If that doesn't smoke her out, I dunno what will.

Dr. Bloody Gloves shall not prevail. Happy the Hospitalist shall spontaneously combust. And SumDood will just have to wait his turn. I believe, I believe, I believe.

XXX Porn! Live, Totally Naked Women! XXX Porn!

Now that I have your attention...

One of the top ten subject searches that brings Virgin Readers to elle est belle la seine la seine elle est belle is "Laura Beckett."

Please note that she has nothing whatsoever to do with pornography!

In case you did not know, it's easy as pie to accumulate information about how, when, and from where people access an internet site, even such a humble one as this. The search information provides the occasional hint as to "why" you are here, too! So if you don't want me to know that it is you popping in, que c'est bien toi que est arrivé -- oh, just relax! I'm clueless and your anonymity is assured.

Really. I mean it!

I'll never tell.

Unless they beat it out of me. But even then, I'm not likely to remember.

Anyway, I got to thinking [it happens, now and then]:

The last I "heard" -- through my own searching -- Laura Beckett remains paralyzed after her struggle with MRSA that began while she was in Germany pursuing the Ketamine coma treatment for CRPS/RSD. I seem to recall that she is currently in a rehab -- a situation that I hope is temporary. I believe she continues to require assistance breathing -- but I am not completely, reliably sure.

Indeed, we all send out hopeful, curative thoughts into the universe on her behalf.

There is a danger in the "I-read-it-somewhere" proliferation of information. Yes, I know I am participating in that danger -- I may even have a proprietary involvement, at this rate. But the serious searches that lead people to this blog most often pertain to some form of ketamine research, whether it be in Mexico, Germany, or in booster form within the United States, or to CRPS clinical trials.

I am sometimes moved to tears by the search terms -- the descriptive terms for the pain, most often expressed as burning, or as fire, itself; the unanswerable questions, safely posed when alone with a computer, usually about mobility, the loss of a job, of friends, of family, of sanity.

So if you get here by accident, by some haphazard search for new information about CRPS/RSD, please know that you are not alone, and that, as weird as this blog likely seems to you, it is the evidence of my effort to defy this disorder in as major a way as I can. I encourage you to curb your incessant searching and to turn, instead, to creation. You can safely trust that RSDSA, among other organizations, is more up to speed than you or I could ever be, alone.

And didn't Your Mama ever tell you not to trust strangers?

EDIT: My memory is not too messed up. The source of my tidbits of information regarding Mrs. Beckett turns out to be the August 10, 2009 issue of People magazine:

In October 2008, RSD patient and mother of three Laura Beckett, 47, of Magnolia, N.J., developed pneumonia while in a coma in Germany and was kept under for three weeks as doctors fought to save her. She woke up paralyzed from the neck down and now lives at a rehabilitation center. "It's an understatement to say things went wrong," says husband Karl, though he adds his wife's pain was so unbearable they would likely choose the coma again. Says Schwartzman: 'We've had tragic outcomes. But this is only attempted after every other treatment has been tried."

And that reminds me of two other thing I wish to stress:

**My profound respect for Dr. Robert J. Schwartzman, neurology chairman at Philadelphia's Drexel University College of Medicine -- and my gratitude on a personal level for his dedication to helping those living with CRPS.

**My belief that experiences with MRSA (and variations) can be had at any hospital in the world, no matter how clean, no matter how excellent. I do not know the particulars of Laura Beckett's infection. I understand, and am sympathetic to, the desire to blame some person, place, or thing -- but there is nothing good in that, beyond correcting whatever may need correcting. MRSA is a monster of our own creation.

Photo credit for Kitty Porn: Let's Talk Politics

Life as an acronym

It's been a crazy time lately, here at Marlinspike Hall, deep, deep in the Tête de Hergé.

A little known factoid: My darling Fred, Life Partner Extraordinaire©, was diagnosed with ADHD eight years ago, eight long and interesting years, but not as long, or as disturbing, as the eleven years before that! Bless his everlovin' bones, he has struggled all his life to achieve emotional balance, and now seems to have done it, as much as one can.

Even on what might seem a superficial level, he had to struggle with life's little things, things others may take for granted.

But what I love the most is the return, or rather, the preeminence, of his wonderful sense of humor.

He came roaring into the room last night, laughing.

"I've reached a new ADHD low! Not only can I not remember where I put the thing that I am looking for, I cannot remember what the thing I am looking for... IS!"

On a purely selfish level? I also love that it is now safe for me to laugh, and luxuriously, too. Once upon a time, I never knew the reaction that might be coming my way. Even when I knew that he was lashing out at the world because of the pain he was in, that was no protection against the extreme energy of his anger.

He now has his own social outlets, outlets and people that go beyond me. I mean, face it, living with CRPS/RSD, not to mention the problems of unresolved bone infections, lupus, avascular necrosis, adrenal insufficiency... face it, I have lost my world. At first, I thought it was issues of access -- for the longest time, I was stuck in a manual chair that I could not maneuver (you try it without shoulders, 'kay?). Then, when my own tenacity solved that problem -- a new car, a wheelchair lift, a new wheelchair -- I had to face the truth. I simply can't go out all that much. I can't do much, period.


Okay, I'm over it. All problems, solved. All issues, resolved. All difficulties? Scoffed at! I am, afterall, the *real* Bionic Woman.

Back to darling Fred, Life Partner Extraordinaire©. I am trying to reduce his role as my caretaker, as who wants to see that reflected in their lover's eyes? He does not need to be greeted daily with a laundry list of complaints -- nor does he need to be greeted with laundry!

There are little tricks, things I have learned late but hopefully not so late that all is lost.

Such as -- pausing before I speak. That one thing, alone, has salvaged our relationship. Asking myself whether what I am about to say really needs saying. Is it about pain, discomfort? He knows I am in pain, he knows I am uncomfortable. He knows I don't sleep. He knows I can't do x, y, and z. It is caving into the seductiveness of "sick behavior" to point it all out as if he had not a clue. And I don't have enough Official Pity Party Paraphernalia to host a soirée all that often.

What else? Keeping in mind his struggles with ADHD. That means not deluging him with too many details. He rudely calls this manner of mine "babbling." You may know it as run-on sentences and too many posts titled "potpourri"! Remembering his ADHD also means trying to complete an entire cycle of thought or subject-matter before moving on to a new idea. I am, cough, exceedingly tangential. Okay, I babble. There! I said it. Are you happy now, Faithful Reader?


Honoring him includes being proactive around The Manor. I do more than I think I am able to do, and, occasionally, more than I ought. But it is key that he not feel that the welfare of Marlinspike Hall falls on his shoulders, alone. We are honor-bound to maintain this place in as pristine a condition as possible, else we are poor friends to Captain Haddock, and his trust means a great deal to us.

I mean... think of what Captain Haddock might say, based just on the things he's said before:

Pachyrhizus-eses-eses! Parasites! Patagonians! Pestilential Pachyderms! Phylloxerae! Pickled herrings! Pirates! Pithecanthropic montebanks! Pithecanthropic pickpockets! Pithecanthropuses! Pockmarks! Politicans! Poltroons! Polygraphs! Polynesians! Profiteers! Psychopaths! Purple profiteering jellyfishes! Pyrographers! Pyromaniacs!

And that is just the letter P.

But perhaps the most helpful thing to Fred is that I shield him from the vagaries of La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore.

That woman can drive him to distraction.

Tintinologists the world over understand.

*Photo credit: The Hero Construction Company

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

OMG: Bianca does Dr. Phil

We try, Fred and I really do. But we can't watch her all the time, and really? Why does the onus fall on us? Am I truly expected to monitor the computer use of a mumblymumbly year old grown woman, and in a place as huge as Marlinspike Hall, deep, deep in the Tête de Hergé?

It happened at 3:38 in the morning. Yes, I was up but hardly felt like looking over the shoulder of a drunken Castafiore, as she picked and pecked her way across the keyboard.

She's taken to frequenting local pubs after her evening performances at the Opera House, belting out encore performances of L'air des bijoux.

The only way I could tolerate a late night, early morning onslaught of je-ris-de-me-voir-si-belle-dans-ce-miroir-oir-oir-oir? Whiskey. Stoli. The dregs of a house red.

So, out of appreciation for my liver function, I stay safely ensconced in our designated area of The Manor.

La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore decided to surf the net before passing out in her suite of rooms -- rooms that she and some of her ne'er-do-well operatic thugs refurbished last summer, in the style of François Ier. Now *that* was perhaps an episode that Fred and I might have prevented -- but she's wily, very wily, that Castafiore.

Apparently, she is a fan of this Dr. Phil person, a tall, chunky, bald man of indeterminate age -- or 59. As documented in the Dickipedia, Phil McGraw is a "doctortainer of the highest order." Still, Bianca is perhaps not the sort of fan base that The Dr. Phil Brand was designed to attract, and in that lies much of her charm and amazing ability to sour the stomachs of her interlocuteurs.

How was he to know that she idolizes Michael Vick? Still, had he known that she idolized Michael Vick, would he have curtailed the expression of his disdain for that fine, upstanding, dog-murdering human being? Probably not... but we will never know.

A docutainer who makes massive use of slapping around The Obvious with his down-on-the-farm and well-fertilized twangy wisdom, Dr. Phil wrote several blog entries on the controversial subject of animal torture, which obviously cried out for the inclusion of some Celebrity Twit as his Easy Mark, his Straw Man, his Bitch. To wit: Vick.

The doctor is a master of damning with faint praise, a trait that I've always found repugnant. As I perused his blog this morning, after discovering what La Bonne et Belle had done, I could see how Bianca's buttons might have taken a beating.

The man is brutal, despite his hominy homilies. He viciously attacked, not just people who murder animals, but "Mommies" who parent (and drive) while under the influence; He even dared to criticize the recent Gang of Gaffes -- including Serena Williams and Kanye West, though Joe Wilson got off with just a pinch of the cheek. Clearly, Dr. Phil is not afraid to wade hip deep into controversy.

Anyway, in the wee hours of the morning, The Castafiore let loose. I hope Dr. Phil is okay.

We've seized her laptop and hidden it well. The deal is that she'll get it back as soon as her behavior provides proof that she's no longer subject to the demon of stinkin' thinkin'.

She seems to have at least made judicious use of SpellCheck and her English language dictionary -- although she is typical of adult foreign language users, in that she is at her best when... well, when slightly "disinhibited":

Bianca Castafiore says:
September 22, 2009 at 3:38 am

Dr. Phil, you have begun to frustrate me.

Not because of your various (safe) opinions voiced in your blog, but because you couch some of your most interesting notions in disingenuous ways. Your tongue may get stuck in your cheek!

“I don’t drink, but…”
“I haven’t examined him, but…”

The worst of all, though? Your tacit approval of Joe Wilson’s staged and boorish behavior during a speech by the President of the United States.

He was wrong… but he gets a bit of a good-old-boy wink and a nod — because you’d never want to criticize him for being “passionate.”

Clearly, you are saying that Michael Vick is a sociopath. *That* is an interesting statement and I would love to hear you expound upon it.

Vick was convicted, sentenced, and served that sentence. He will never be free from constant public scrutiny. It doesn’t matter in the least whether he can check off as accomplished any of the things you’d like to mandate, because those mandates only exist in DrPhil Land.

In defense of La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore, there are troubling things about -- as she put it -- life in DrPhil Land:
The Doctor Is Out (of Touch)

Symptom: Two high-profile fiascoes and a career of dubious decisions
Diagnosis: Dr. Phil doesn't have a license or a clue

By Barbara Card Atkinson
Special to MSN Entertainment

Maybe it's awful to kick a walrus-mustachioed man when he's down, but I am all for the recent public backlash against Dr. Phil. His producers bailed out one of the teens jailed for (allegedly) violently attacking a Florida teenager, in exchange for an exclusive interview with her, only to backpedal in the face of public disapproval. This boundary crossing is just the latest in a string of Dr. Phil's missteps; it's high time we all admitted that the good doctor is out -- out of touch, out of step and sometimes almost out of his homily-riddled mind.

Dr. Who?
Phillip Calvin McGraw, best known as Dr. Phil, hit the airwaves as Oprah's golden boy in 1998. She seemed to enjoy his straight talk and the way her audiences responded to his no-nonsense approach. It was refreshing, at first, to listen to a shrink who gave advice free of psychobabble buzzwords; he was even a little folksy, some homespun, gingham-aproned Freud. This is the guy who said, "Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right." Adorable, right? Of course, he wasn't really a shrink, and he hasn't seemed to take his own advice. McGraw has a history of not making the right decisions, nor has he done much to right them.

Doc in a Cheap Suit
It's a sad fact that, these days, many a high-profile "personality" is going to have at least one good lawsuit lobbed his or her way, but Dr. Phil seems to repeatedly provoke lawsuits. The Texas attorney general investigated him for a possible health club scam in 1973. McGraw sold expensive lifetime memberships to a health club in Topeka, Kan., and resold the contracts to a financial institution, so the members had to keep paying whether the club existed or not. According to the court papers, three different Topeka banks sued him for more than $40,000, but he never showed in court and monies were never recovered. He had moved on to Texas, where he obtained a doctorate from the University of North Texas and began to practice psychology.

In 1989, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists imposed disciplinary sanctions against McGraw for what was deemed an inappropriate "dual relationship." McGraw admitted he hired one of his clients, a 19-year-old woman, to work in his office (can you say "breach of ethics"?), but denied her claim of a sexual relationship. The board ordered McGraw to pass a jurisprudence exam, undergo a psychological evaluation, take an ethics class and have his practice supervised for one year. Did he make amends and make it right? Well, as of 2008, no. Nineteen years in, and he still hasn't met the board's conditions. His license to practice psychology was revoked and, from that point on, he has not been licensed to practice psychology at all. As the man himself has noted, "Failure is no accident."

McGraw, who said, "We teach people how to treat us," exhibited poor judgment again when he decided to feature convicted murderer Laurie "Bambi" Bembenek. Bembenek was scheduled to appear on the "Dr. Phil" show in 2002 to clear her name. It didn't go well. She later filed a lawsuit against Dr. Phil and more than 50 of his staffers for, she said, being held against her will in an apartment with no way to contact the outside world, while awaiting potentially show-stopping, name-clearing DNA results. Bembenek claims the forced confinement led to a panic attack, which drove her to escape by climbing out a window. She fell and shattered her leg, which later had to be amputated below the knee. Despite whether Bembenek was detained against her will, one wonders at the "stinkin' thinking" involved in allowing an emotionally fragile, convicted murderer to become so agitated that she felt her only recourse was to shimmy down the outside of a building on a bed sheet ladder.

In 2006, Dr. Phil was named as a co-defendant (along with CBS) in a lawsuit filed by two brothers in relation to the Aruban disappearance of U.S. citizen Natalee Holloway. McGraw hired a private investigator to interview the Kalpoe brothers. They claimed they were recorded without their knowledge and the material was doctored, but later broadcast as being a true representation, portraying them "as engaging in criminal activity against Natalee Holloway ..."

Sure, maybe McGraw's involvement would break open the case as the one tactic that had so far eluded the combined forces of the U.S. and Aruban officials -- a trained television host.

Daddy Issues
McGraw has long been an outspoken critic of pornography. Eyebrows were raised, then, when he stood as the best man in his son, Jay's, 2006 wedding to Playboy playmate Erica Dahm; the elder McGraw even hosted the wedding at his Beverly Hills, Calif., mansion. Against porn? Fine. Supportive of his son, regardless? Terrific. Altering his "Dr. Phil" Web site to remove all of his comments about porn right after the fact? Umm, "What in the hell were you thinking?"

In January 2008, McGraw's behavior motivated a psychologist (an actual one, with a license and everything) to lodge a complaint with the California Board of Psychology, alleging that Dr. Phil was practicing illegally when he visited Britney Spears at Cedars-Sinai. McGraw was, reportedly, counseling Spears as well as inviting her to join her family on his stage for an upcoming televised intervention. After his unannounced hour-long visit, he made several long-winded statements on his show about Britney's mental state, which really chapped the family spokesperson. ..
Testing Patience
Who hasn't Dr. Phil ticked off? Thelma Box, a former business partner, alleges that McGraw sold his stake in Pathways, their self-help company (started in 1984), an entire year before he told her. Box also insists she co-created and co-authored the materials used in Pathways seminars, material that McGraw uses today in his show, but she has never been given any credit. [...]

And now this: Last week, Dr. Phil had his producers bail out Mercades Nichols, one of the six teenage Florida cheerleaders accused of beating another girl, videotaping it and posting the footage on YouTube. Nichols signed an exclusivity contract with McGraw's people, allegedly in exchange for her $30,000 bail. In light of the public outcry, producers have since announced they made an error in judgment and they have no plans to go forward with the show. Dr. Phil has yet to make his usual half-apologetic public statement, although now might be just the time for McGraw to heed his own advice: "If you want more, you have to require more from yourself." [...]

Maybe the problem isn't McGraw and his stern-talkin' daddy-tude; maybe the problem is that people are listening to him as if he's got a clue, or at least more of a clue than the rest of us. All facts point to the contrary. Just glance at McGraw's personal life (read his unauthorized biography, "The Making of Dr. Phil," for details about his never-mentioned first marriage and early company dealings); look at his business track record. Or take it from me. Just like Dr. Phil, I'm an unlicensed unpsychologist, and my advice to you, in classic Dr. Phil speak is this: "That dog really, really don't hunt."

Barbara Card Atkinson is a frequent contributor to MSN Entertainment.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Office Parkour


From a post by an anorexic * who was advising someone to seek counseling, post haste:

"I advise that you seek psychological help immedietally."

In all seriousness, though, it is a fascinating thread, and heroically maintained.

A young man posted on the site, called Anorexic Queen, requesting help in understanding his fascination with ana-websites:

i randomly came across this site
when i was trying to find out some info
and i understand why you all do it
but i seriously don't understand how? if that makes any sense
you must have some insane willpower
and if you can do this then your possibilities are endless?

It's pained and painful wisdom that responds.

1. It's a mental illness.
2. It's not willpower, it's a mental illness.
3. Our possibilities are extremely limited. Because we are mentally sick.
4. People with eating disorders aren't beautiful, they are sick.
5. It's a mental illness. There is no reason why.