Ending an era

For decades (since before I was born, definitely, but possibly far longer than that) my mother was known for remembering birthdays and anniversaries with cards.  Her handwriting was gorgeous - despite being a lefty, and there's a long story behind that - and getting a card from her was a highlight for friends and family.

Then her memory started to slip.  No problem, my father was there to help.  What she used to remember effortlessly she now needed a list, and armed with that they'd go out each month, buying a fistful of cards appropriate to the occasion.  She'd still do the addressing and the main message, with Dad signing as necessary.

Then her handwriting went, thanks to the arthritis, and her memory got worse.  They'd still go shopping, but now Dad would do the majority of the work with her just signing.

Last summer, with both of them out of commission, things got worse.  But after missing a major birthday, Dad rallied and things seemed normal.

Yesterday, he admitted that things weren't normal.  It was a lot of work, keeping up with all the shopping and dates (conservatively, I'm guessing about 10 cards a month got chosen and sent).  So, with some overt sadness (but secretly, I suspect, very relieved to be done with this duty) he told me that he was just giving up.  He'd use the list to circle the calendar with immediate family dates, but extended family? Not so lucky.

I've always been the "good" daughter in terms of family, always attending funerals and weddings and dinners and keeping up with everyone.  But I'm not going to take this on.  It was my mother's gift to others, and that's how it's going to stay.

It'll be the end of an era, and yet another reason to miss my mom.


That old adage

For decades I've heard older people saying that they have a doctor for every body part (or that the sign of getting old is when you have a doctor for every body part).  So when I hit 50, I took stock: one primary care doctor (who also did my gyn exams) and an endocrinologist.  That was it.  Whew!  Not old.

Here I am, halfway through my 50s, and, well... I still have one primary care doctor and an endocrinologist.  I also have three doctors for my left eye. 

So, tell me: #winning?  or Sad!


The Flesh Failures

Last night a friend posted on Twitter that NBC's next live musical would be.... Hair.


I'm guessing this is some PG version that takes out all the "problematic" scenes and songs?

Another friend on Twitter suggested the cast would be wearing nude bodysuits.  Great?  I suppose.  But the lyrics?  Sigh.  I know no one's going to change the Shakespeare (What a Piece of Work is Man).  Even those who don't really know the musical know a few of the songs: Aquarius, Good Morning Starshine and Let the Sun Shine In,  But there are others that, well, I don't think will be allowed on air.  If Kendrick Lamar can stop a white woman singing certain lyrics, what about a song that is a string of slurs strung together? Will NBC air songs glorifying men because of their color?  Or a song about sexual acts? What about the one about drugs? You can read the titles here (lyrics you can find on your own).

While I applaud the idea of bringing musicals to tv (although couldn't they be done sans commercials? like they do in an actual theatre?) the idea that what's being shown is a dumbed down, more PC version than what you'd see on Broadway or in a touring show horrifies me.  Let HBO show Hair.  NBC could show The Pajama Game.  Or something like that.


Notes from Mt. Bookpile

I know - it's been a long time since I did one of these.  Given the amount of adult books I was reading last year for the award committee, it just didn't make sense.  But this year?  Any book that isn't an adult book published in 2016 or 2017 can be reviewed and talked about.  So yay!  My year end totals will be slightly different because of The Books That Cannot Be Named, but for the most part here's what I've read thus far this year:

Children's/Young Adult Fiction

Children's/Young Adult Speculative Fiction
Adult Fiction/Literature
 Adult Speculative Fiction






Dinner rants

For years, one of my annual tv watches has been the White House Correspondents Dinner - if I couldn't watch it live or on replay, I'd tape C-SPAN.  So I've seen several of the more controversial "episodes", like Imus and Colbert and Wilmore and now, Sykes.  I've also seen Al Franken and Aretha Franklin and Rich Little (pro tip: if you have to pre-identify who your impression is of, it's probably either not that relevant or not that good).

For the past couple of days, there's been a lot of commentary about this year's guest.  I think that the WHCA knew she'd be controversial, pointed and make headlines.  Was she funny?  That depends on your definition of funny.  Some of the bits could have used a better delivery (I thought she occasionally rushed her lines), but again, funny is in the ears of the listener.

There was one comment that hasn't gotten enough attention, IMVHO:
There's a ton of news right now; a lot is going on, and we have all these 24-hour news networks, and we could be covering everything. But, instead, we're covering like three topics. Every hour, it's Trump, Russia, Hillary and a panel of four people who remind you why you don't go home for Thanksgiving.
That's so incredibly true.  There is a lot going on, both here and abroad, and yet on tv it's Trump Trump Trump.  If covering him during the elections hadn't been so amusing, things might have been different.  I'm not talking about Hilary Clinton, I'm talking about the other Republican contenders.  What happened to equal time, equal coverage?  The only time I heard about or saw many of the other candidates was during the debates.  And now?  He's dominating the news, even when there are other things that could and should be covered.  On the other hand, without Trump, no one would watch CNN, MSNBC, Fox and other chattering heads.  So maybe it's all for the good, keeping relatively unqualified pundits and academics employed.


Notable Quotes

Before Mr. Bennett could answer, the door opened, and there appeared a male nurse in aqua-colored scrubs, carrying the plastic saw with it's round blade at one end; the entire contraption wasn't much larger than an electric toothbrush. "Fred!" the nurse said, though they had never met. "How are we today?"

Reading the nurse's name tag, Mr. Bennett replied with fake enthusiasm, "Bernard!  We're mourning the death of manners and the rise of overly familiar discourse.  How are you?"

 - Curtis Sittenfeld, Eligible


Just had to laugh

The other day, a friend and I went to the Houghton Library (at Harvard) to see the Landmarks: Maps as Literary Illustration exhibit - I could name a few maps they should have included, but since everything came from their shelves, perhaps they didn't have copies of Nick Bantock's work, or the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant or any of the Discworld Mapps?

After, we went to MEM Tea (because tea).  And then, on our way to lunch, we saw this sign.


My favorite shark

When I was a freshman in college I started to make friends with the theatre crowd, first the unofficial group and then the "mainstage" group.  My first show with the latter was The Threepenny Opera (or 3PO as we called it, given that Star Wars was just being released).

This production decided to use the Manheim/Willett translation, which was done for the New York Shakespeare Festival's production with Raul Julia as Macheath.  And it's got my favorite English version of Mack the Knife:

It captures the ugliness that Brecht and Weill wanted from their creation.

Here's the original German, sung by Camille O'Sullivan:

Don't speak German? (I don't) The menace still comes through.

However, most people know the song better in the Blitzstein translation's jazz version:

(not as big a fan of this version or translation, but just look at the original cast at the Theatre du Lys!)

So tonight I'm heading to see the BLO's production, which is using the Michael Feinstein translation.  Reviews of the original production (with Sting?!) say that it's serviceable.  We'll see.


Physician, Treat Thyself

For the past 8 months I have been taking a number of medications designed to keep my CRION at bay.  These drugs (mostly Prednisone and CellCept) have serious side effects, like trembling hands and bloating and headaches and, well, read about them here and here.

When I tell my doctors about this, their response is usually an acknowledgement that they know, they know, but there's nothing they can do or recommend to help.  Gee, thanks.  While they may be helping with one thing - and yes, it's a serious thing - my quality of life is seriously diminished.

What if all drug makers and doctors had to take these drugs themselves?  Just to experience what we, the patient and consumer, experience?  So they can understand exactly how difficult it is to drive when you're shaking... or walk because your knees are too bloated to bend properly... or to feel incredible weakness when you stand up... or any of the other things we tell them about?

At my last school, in Connecticut, the security people were all armed.  There was a rumor that they also carried tasers.  I asked one if that rumor was true, and the response was that in Connecticut, to be licensed to carry a taser you had to agree to be tased first, to see what it felt like so you knew this wasn't a toy or to be used lightly. 

What if we applied that to some of these drugs?  It might not help mitigate the side effects, but at least the doctors would have a personal understanding of them.  And maybe pressure drug manufacturers into figuring out a way to counteract them while keeping the benefits.


Notable Quotes

Children have always tumbled down rabbit holes, fallen through mirrors, been swept away by unseasonable floods or carried off by tornadoes... Adulthood brings limitations like gravity and linear space and the idea that bedtime is a real thing, and not an artificially imposed curfew.
Seanan McGuire, Beneath the Sugar Sky