The End (but not really)

Please note: this blog will shortly be relocating to the site from whence it came: discontent. If you're interested in keeping up with our laconic editorial musings, drop by now and then. Do let us know if you need any issues of discontent--or any kind of content. The zine's email address is logomachia at hotmail dot com. Cheers.

UPDATE: As you'll see, my break from blogging didn't last. I've finally pieced my 2 blogs together--tacking together the "writer's block" blog from June 2002 to July 2003 with the present "Cabinet of Prof. Kitty" which I started in October 2004. It turned out that physical print, in the form of my zine discontent, was actually the one to go, not this blog. Written by Prof. Kitty, 4/5/09.


"When are you going to release my film, 'Brazil'?"
It's been Terry Gilliam week at our house. First we got the Criterion Collection edition of Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, featuring commentary by Terry Gilliam, Johnny Depp, Benicio del Toro, and Dr. Thompson himself (he does not speak extemporaneously but is interviewed/goaded by an officious-sounding Criterion executive). Then we impetuously purchased Lost in La Mancha, the documentary of Terry Gilliam's failed attempt to film Don Quixote. Orson Welles failed too, so Gilliam is in good company. My conclusions from watching these are (1) Terry Gilliam has a demonic little laugh that I must imitate, often. (2) I am glad that "The Man Who Killed Quixote" (or whatever it was called) never made it through production because it looks...annoying. I suspect I enjoyed the story behind the movie's failure much more than I would have liked the movie itself. There are only so many slo-mo fat giants and dirty bald men in tatters and shackles and elderly protagonists with funny noses that I will accept. Time for pistachio ice cream.

Medical notes

Observation from the medical community:

If a single virus caused all the deaths, all the birth defects, and all the health care costs that tobacco does, governments all over the planet would move to find the virus, then find a vaccination or a cure. But tobacco is an important cash crop. Through huge campaign contributions and other outlays of money, the tobacco industry influences our government. Tobacco is the single most preventable cause of death in America, yet our government subsidizes its cultivation.
Klag, Michael J., et al. Johns Hopkins Family Health Book. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1999. 79.


Found poem in the Journal of the American Medical Association:

Even as the end approaches,
heart failure is characterized
by wide excursion
between good and bad days,
often preserving hope for another good day
until the last.
Uncertainty regarding time
and mode of death exceeds that
for other terminal illnesses.
Even our predictions of imminent death
are patches of fog, from which
survivors can emerge unexpectedly.
Each patient travels a unique journey,
on which many share remarkable determination
to prevail.
As we embolden our patients
to understand and influence their course,
as we appreciate their individual preferences
for quality and length of life,
we will guide each other
through the changing management
of advanced heart failure.

JAMA, Feb 6, 2002--Vol 287, No. 5, p. 639--last paragraph in "Medical Management of Advanced Heart Failure," by Anju Nohria et al.

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Another book excerpt; thank goodness I don't have reader's block! I think the paragraphs below might make a good movie or story. I like the idea of stealing a chain of events straight from history. I have never seen The Lion in Winter but from what I've read, Eleanor of Aquitaine's life is enough material for hours of documentaries and dramatic film, and volumes-worth of saucy medieval romance novels and tales of political intrigue. In this excerpt, Richard is Eleanor's son Richard I of England, Philip is King of France, and the Vexin is a bit of France northwest of Paris that England and France bickered over for years. Vexin indeed.

"In September 1198 Richard overran the Vexin, reclaiming Gisors with such ferocity that Philip was nearly drowned in the frantic retreat of the French; in a letter to Hugh de Puiset, Richard gleefully related how 'the King of France drank river water on that day.' A record one hundred French knights were also taken prisoner. It was at this point that the church intervened to negotiate a peace between the two kings.

"The Bishop of Beauvais was now being held by Richard in a dungeon at Ch√Ęteau Gaillard, which many regarded as an outrage. The new Pope, the formidable Innocent III, who would emerge as one of the greatest pontiffs of the Middle Ages, was determined to have the Bishop freed, and sent a legate, Cardinal Peter of Capua, to order Richard to release him on the grounds that it was forbidden by canon law to imprison a bishop.

"The King was in no mood to obey, and unleashed a flood of abuse upon the legate, shouting that the Holy See had never intervened on his behalf when he was being held captive--an attitude that echoes the sentiments expressed in Eleanor's letters to Celestine III [the previous Pope]--and accusing the Bishop of Beauvais of being no better than a brigand and the Cardinal of being a traitor, liar, simoniac, and suborner. Then Richard sent him from his presence, commanding him never to come before him again.

"When Eleanor learned what had happened, she was much disturbed, having heard of Pope Innocent's ruthlessness. She therefore arranged for the Bishop to escape--probably by bribing or duping his jailers--and offered him asylum in her own domains. Then she let it be known that Richard had freed him. In this way she averted the threat of excommunication falling upon her son and avoided making an enemy of Innocent and driving him over to Philip's camp. It was a brave thing to do, considering just how angry Richard could be when he was thwarted; yet there is no record of any recriminations, and it is likely that, once his wrath had cooled, Richard saw the wisdom of Eleanor's actions."
Alison Weir, Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life, New York: Ballantine Books, 1999. 309.

You can picture the scene, the ginger-haired king roaring with laughter at his French rival wallowing in river mud. Later, brandishing a huge piece of meat, he unleashes a torrent of invective on the man of God come to demand clemency. His seventy-six year-old mother connives from her remote palace, combing her hair before a low mirror and duping jailers with abandon. The bishop stealing from his tapestried cell, wondering why the king chooses to release him in the dead of night into the hands of hooded horsemen...


The writer at home:

At Thanksgiving the family followed a regular ritual. First John and Fred lined the sloping lawn with tennis-court tapes, and then the crowd--as many as two dozen--arrived for the touch football game. Cheever himself was not much of a player. Next there were drinks for all and then the turkey that Mary had prepared and John carved, after reciting a grace he constructed out of the Cranmer Bible and Jowett's Plato.

The Cranmer is loud, resonant and liturgical and cuts into the small talk and the noise of silver. "Almighty God, maker of all things, judge of all men!" Then comes the Plato, even louder. "Let us consider that the soul of man is immortal, able to endure every sort of good and every sort of evil. Thus may we live happily with one another and with God." The close is incantatory, close to plainsong. "By Whom and with Whom in the Unity of the Holy Ghost all honor and glory be to Thee oh Father Almighty, world without end. Amen."

Scott Donaldson, John Cheever: A Biography, New York: Random House, 1988. 233-234.


Exciting and addictive website discovery of the day:

Yes, I found out about it in Bitch magazine. Yes, it's Canadian (adjust your pronunciation of "found out about it" accordingly). And yes you must go there now. It's exactly my kind of thing--sassy about famous people and their pathetic quirks, and willing to recognize good actors that haven't yet been slathered everywhere by Hollywood's raving drooling publicity machine. (I assume there must be such a thing, how else would I know that Kate Hudson even exists?) Check out the Sam Rockwell Fame Audit. Yeah!

Afro Ken

I have a new doll. It is a pink dog with a velcro blue afro. He is called Afro Ken and I love him.

Vital Information on Afro Ken

Name: Afro Ken

Mood: Always in good mood

Characteristic: Likes to get close to things that look like Afro Ken (Maybe it wants to be friends). Afro’s hair color changes to the Afro-like things that it gets near.

Species: Afro Dog (Like Shiba dog, Tosa dog, there is also Afro dog)

Yelping: Unconfirmed
(From Confidential information, it speaks Afro language)

Sex: Unknown

Food: Afro Ken will try anything at least once

Personality: Innocent, blameless Afro Ken surprises many people

Movement: Walking


Material for possible children's story about the saga of my pet rat:

On January 17, the day before the full moon, I ran into my boyfriend's badass friend Ted while walking home from the library. Ted asked me if I needed a pet rat, and when I expressed interest he told me the pathetic story of how he had bought a rat earlier in the day to use as a practical joke. He put it in somebody's coat pocket as payback for that person having adulterated his looseleaf tobacco with pencil shavings. Apparently the joke was a dud because the guy didn't even check his pockets when he put his coat on, so Ted had to stop him and tell him he had a rat in his pocket. Ted had made no provisions or plans for the rat after this incident. He placed the rat in a 10-ream paper box, gave it some granola bars and a sawed-off Dixie cup of water, put the lid on, and left it in the mail room while he prowled the streets for someone naive enough to take it as a pet. That person was me. When I saw the rat at the bottom of the box, wet from stepping in its water cup, and shivering, and pretty cute, I said I would take him home. I stopped by my boyfriend's work and as soon as he saw the rat he gave me his credit card and told me to buy it a proper cage and some food. He's a good guy.

At the pet store the girl told me that Ted had dropped the rat while trying to put it in a box, and then told her he was taking it home to get it stoned. She was very unpleasant to me until I told her that I had rescued the rat from Ted and would like to give it a good home. Then she gladly sold me $46 worth of rat supplies. She also told me the rat was a boy. On the drive home I decided to name him Henry.

Over the weekend I read up on rats. I learned that they don't like apples, shouldn't eat lettuce or cat food, and are very intelligent. If your rat has no rat friends, you should play with it at least one hour a day. Unfortunately the more I play with Henry the sicker I get. Wherever he touches my skin I get pink itchy welts, and after playing with him I have trouble breathing. Every day my boyfriend and I play with Henry (he specializes in sleeves and will spend the entire hour sitting in the sleeve of my sweater destroying my shirt while I watch movies). And every day I get sicker. After eight days I can no longer sleep through the night because I keep waking myself up by gasping for air. It feels like there is a concrete block on my chest. I have to sleep propped up or else not enough air gets into my lungs. I have coughing fits that last for half an hour at a time. It feels like my rib cage is going to break from coughing. Also my eyes are watering and my sinuses are running like a faucet. Every time I exhale it feels like there's poison ivy inside my lungs and I start to cough again. Am I ALLERGIC TO THE RAT?

We start changing variables. We buy different rat bedding. We buy different rat food. We break out the air purifier and buy special chemicals to clean it and the air in the rat room. I buy homeopathic asthma medicine, and Breathe Easy tea, and Apitherapy Honey Wild Cherry Syrup, and my mother gives me a bottle of "Vitamin O," and I also take lots of other vitamins and herbal extracts and drink tea and lots of water and use an Olbas Inhaler. After two weeks I am utterly exhausted.

Then Henry runs away. We've had him for sixteen days and played with him every day (mostly my boyfriend does the playing because being near the rat seems to propel me towards death) and he obviously hates us because he is always hiding in sleeves or boxes or trying to burrow into things. In a fit of energy I built Henry a rat playland featuring a simple labyrinth and some toys and boxes and also a VIP room with groovy wrapping paper on the walls. Perversely, Henry enjoys hanging out in the maze and doesn't like the open parts of his Playland. On the sixteenth day, Groundhog Day, Henry disappears into a hole in the cabinetry under the kitchen sink and does not reappear. We watch the hole for hours. During my nightly coughing fit I sit with my back to the fridge and wait for Henry to come out for food or water. He does not come out. Is he dead? Has he fallen into the plumbing? Is he happy to be in a dark hole under the cabinet? In the morning I try to coax him out with a dog biscuit. He pokes his nose out the hole and YANKS the biscuit out of my hand, then runs back into his hole. We feel completely betrayed by the feral rodent. The next day I am so upset that I leave work to get my mom's Havahart trap and set it up on the kitchen floor. I've also constructed a wall of cardboard around the cabinetry so if Henry comes out he won't run into other parts of the apartment. But Henry does not come out. I'm worried he might start to dehydrate so we set up his water dispenser on the wall of cardboard and we can hear him come out and drink--but only when we're nowhere near the kitchen. He still isn't falling for the trap. After he's been under the cupboard for 48 hours I am actually starting to feel better. I can sleep through the night and don't need a hankie with me at every moment. But we're so worried about Henry!

At 2AM on Wednesday morning, I catch Henry by hand. I do this by calling his name over and over again (we've been trying to teach him his name) and rubbing my hands with dog food. He falls for it. When I put him back in his tank I notice that Henry is strangely fat. Is he suffering from malnutrition? Does he have tumors? Has he been drinking too much water? Is he a she? By now we're definitely going to take Henry to the Humane Society. He is stressing us out. We have started to bicker. I call the Humane Society but they are fricking closed on Wednesdays. So I make a vet appointment for Friday morning so we can get Henry checked out before getting rid of him. We love Henry, but he's just too much trouble. We're not meant to be rat parents!

On Thursday Henry is still fat. When I check up on him in the evening he is sitting on something strange and purple. It is a dead rat baby. I am completely distraught--Henry and his babies were malnourished while he was hiding under the cabinet! We failed to care for him during a crucial part of his pregnancy! I read up some more on rat breeding and learn that rats will instinctively dispose of any dead babies. It turns out that only one baby wasn't born completely healthy. The other eight are fine.

Now we have nine rats. We are getting used to calling Henry "she." She turns out to be a good mother, and we make sure she gets enough seeds and pellets and nuts and oats and things. The babies are still pink and hairless and their eyes are still shut, but they're starting to get some color where their fur will be. They'll be black and white like their mother, Henry. I am feeling almost completely recovered. One of the many things we changed about Henry's cage or room seems to have solved my asthma problem. We now understand why Henry was so interested in finding close snuggly places to hang out--she was nesting. I thank heaven she did not have those babies under the kitchen cabinet or else we would have had to saw them out of there. Also according to my rat literature Henry must have gotten knocked up the day before Ted bought her--their gestation period is 21 days, and we had Henry for 20 days when she suddenly produced a litter. I am more convinced than ever of the incompetence of that particular pet store. The manager there is also insanely rude.

We will have to give away most of the babies once they're old enough, but I am secretly thinking of keeping one of Henry's daughters along with Henry. Then she will have someone to play with all the time.


Before starting this blog I felt guilty about not working on my zine. Now I feel guilty about not working on my zine AND not working on this blog. But let's have some fun. It has come to...a weblog of weblogs:

Eszter's Blog Eszter Hargittai is one smart broad. Her blog is an interesting blend of political commentary and musings on technology, but she doesn't forget to include personal stuff to give some idea of where she's coming from. She is going places.

Marking Time Peter Marquis-Kyle is an Australian conservation architect. His weblog is graphically pleasing and you never know what he's going to annotate next: Samuel Pepys? Bucky Fuller? The weather?

Heath Row's Media Diet Reviewed discontent once so he must have excellent taste. I check up often to verify that.

Hey....Listen! I love to "spy" on college kids and their crazy websites. This one is a good example. Hey Liam, keep it coming!

38 Special's Official Home Page This isn't a weblog. Can you believe it though?? Check out those song titles. I've never heard of any of them! And I thought I was so up on eighties music. I thought I was such a fan. Now I realize I am way more familiar with Loverboy than I am with 38 Special. (And "If loving Loverboy is wrong, let me never be right."--actually a quote from that short-lived but tickling WB show, Off Centre)

Men Who Look Like Kenny Rogers. Really!


Today I turn thirty-one, and this town has gotten about fourteen inches of snow in the last twenty-four hours. Since the weather precludes any birthday visits to, say, famous museums or remote picnic spots, we are spending the day watching "catalog" (that is, "no longer new release") movies from the video store's generous program of "seven movies for $7.77 for seven days." So far we have seen Diane Keaton's bizarre documentary called "Heaven"--an amusing if dry compendium of the ravings of "ordinary" people and cuts from old fantasy films and evangelical propaganda. The person who chose this movie is also a big fan of "Wax, or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees" and Orson Welles' "F for Fake," both great-sounding movies that send me quickly into slumber. I have high hopes for some of our other selections, including "Easy Living" with Jean Arthur and Ray Milland, Busby Berkeley's "42nd Street," and "Road to Morocco" with Crosby and Hope. Then perhaps there will be some birthday bacchanal.