Thursday, May 11, 2017

Those crocodile tears are what you cry

As when a weary traveller that strays
By muddy shore of broad seven-mouthed Nile,
Unweeting of the perilous wandering ways
Doth meet a cruel crafty crocodile,
Which in false grief hiding his harmful guile,
Doth weep full sore, and sheddeth tender tears:
The foolish man, that pities all this while
His mournful plight, is swallowed up unwares
Forgetful of his own, that minds another's cares.
                  -Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queen, 1, v, 18
Are you bend on imitating the crocodile of theNile? which, they say, mourn over the huiman heads they devour and weep over the remains of the dead --not from motives of repentance, but from regret that the head has no flesh they can eat.
      -Photius, Bibliotheka

Here's a fun thing about me: I cry when I eat.

   Not always. Probably not even most of the time. But it happens. I never really thought about it much, other than to be uncomfortable eating around other people. I would assume that it's slightly off-putting to see someone dabbing at their eye with a handkerchief while eating a meatball sub or whatever.

   Otherwise, it never really bothered me enough to look into. Until I was at an eye appointment awhile back and I mentioned it to my optometrist. She got really excited and asked me if I'd ever had Bell's Palsy. I had, I told her. "You've got crocodile tears!" she exclaimed, which I probably didn't react to as well as I could've.

   She explained that she had just attended a conference and had seem a presentation about a rare nerve disorder called Bogorad's Syndrome. for the most part, it has affected a small percentage (3.3 - 6.5%) of sufferers of Bell's Palsy and other facial paralysis. It's marked by excessive unilateral tearing as a result of gustatory stimuli. In other words, when the face heals from the paralysis, the nerve fibers headed for the salivary gland regenerate improperly and instead grow into a tear gland.

   Anyway, it seems that the most successful treatment is botox, which I'm not about to consider anytime soon. I'm happy chalking it up to God's fingerprints and continuing to wear a Phantom of the Opera-style mask when I eat. Kidding.

   Of course it's kind of funny that I get the very rare disorder from the rare symptom of Lyme Disease. Snowflake indeed.

   But at the end of the day, how many people can claim crocodile tears as a medical condition? Not many, it would appear.

Friday, May 05, 2017


   I updated the last mix with downloadable links. I'm already working on another one.

   I'm trying very hard right now not to turn this into a lengthy screed about the current administration, but I won't. If you're reading this then I'm sure you're already well aware of how I feel about them. and if you support what they're doing, then kindly piss off to whatever bog (or gilded penthouse) you crawled out of.

   I will, however, share two incredible moving things I read last month that give me strength. Both are from comic books (because it's not like anything in the news is giving me strength).

   The first is from the letter column from Lazarus, one of the most original and thought-provoling books to come out in the last decade. It's a little complicated to get into, but if the advancements of science, technology, and accumulation of wealth interest you, I cannot recommend it enough. I have bought something like 8 different copies of the book because I keep giving them away to people I insist read it. Anyway, one of my favorite parts of every issue is the letters column. In addition to being an immensely talented writer, Greg Rucka has a social conscience that lands him not far from me on the political spectrum. He's also a dedicated researcher and the letters columns are usually filled with facts that don't make it into the book but are too interesting to pass up. I remember one issue where he wrote about the NSA likely already having software that can detect what you're typing just by listening to keystrokes, which is completely terrifying. In fact, there's a lot about the book that's completely terrifying, mostly because almost everything in it is based in very real groundwork that's being laid right now.

   In the most recent issue (the first since the inauguration), Rucka laid out a ton to think about. If you're interested, check out the issue (#26) for the letters alone. Shit, I will pay for your copy. But as with all great writers, he closed on a positive note:

   The other one is from the most recent iteration of Doom Patrol, which has proven to to be fantastic, and the first run on it since Grant Morrison's to embrace the delightful weirdness If you're not familiar with the book, it's a team book that gets compared a lot to the X-Men (misfit heroes let by a guy in a wheelchair and don't really interact with the superheroes), only it's older and much, much weirder. I mean, there's a sentient, crossdressing street named Danny. They battle the Brotherhood of Dada. Morrison's run remains one of my favorite things in comics just because of the weirdness and darkness of the whole thing. 

   Anyway, the current run from Gerard Way and Nick Derington has been pretty spectacular, and one panel caught me right as I was going to bed one night and it just hit me very hard:

anyway, it's not like you haven't heard either of these sentiments before, but they hold a lot of weight with me and it can't hurt to see them again.

   I actually sat down to write about crocodile tears (an actual medical syndrome that I have) and this is what came out. Better luck next time, dude.

   I hope all are well and taking the changes we're seeing every day in stride. Do not despair. Do not throw your hands up. Keep your composure and wits about you. and keep fighting those motherfuckers until they're gone and there are some new motherfuckers in their place.

You are not alone. We are in this together.

I love you all. Even the shitty ones.


The kingdom is ransacked, the jewels all taken back
And the chopper descends
They're hidden in the back, with a message on a half-baked tape
With the spool going round, saying I'm back here in this place
And I could cry
And there's smoke you could click on
What are we going to do now?
-The Clash

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Picnic at Cirith Ungol

1 I Am Your Heart - Dennis Linde

Everything that's excessive and vulgar...
2 Right On Running Man - Stephen

I guess those are pretty important times
3 Poor Connection - Blackfoot

We're all in our forties...
4 The Soul Swingers - Ca'-Ba'-Dab'
5 The Woman That Got Away - J.J. Cale

I understand you have an unusual pencil, Jim
6 L'Automne - Francois Wertheimer
7 I Don't Wanna Be Rich - Guilty Razors

Carolyn and her mother
8 Better Off Dead - The Shivas
9 Everything's Alright - Dry Ice

You see, we human beings are not born with prejudice.
10 What Would You Do If I Did That To You - Nolan Porter
11 Ahinam (Take 2) - Axe

I'd like to begin by asking...
12 Beat Your Heart Out - The Zeros

We'll, I'm not exactly a hippie...
13 Walking In the City - The Barons
14 We've Been Pushed Around by Blue Rivers & The Maroons

Nothing like being Miss Popularity
15 I Feel Much Better by The Small Faces

I don't know what it is...
16 Somebody To Love by Kalyanji Anadji
17 Future Thoughts by Tam White

The only question is...
18 It's My Own Fault by John Lee Hooker
19 Black Olives by The Bad Boys

The best hopscotch player in the second grade
20 Back to Square One by The Outnumbered
21 Another Sunday by The Scientists
22 Boudou Nyida by Les Imbattables LĂ©opards

Let's not be suckers

downloadable version:
Whole mix

Friday, February 17, 2017

   I actually forgot I took this. I work at a college in the heart of Southern California's conservative stronghold. So I was impressed when my library requested (and received) permission to hang two Black Lives Matter banners on the front of the building, facing the central piazza of the campus. I was slightly discouraged, then, when I arrived for work the next morning to see someone had gone to great effort to hang an All Lives Matter banner over the pan-African one that had been hung the day before. We were unable to do much but call facilities and have them remove it. But before they could, a young black student sat directly beneath the banners with a homemade sign that read "But will you say it to my face?"

   It didn't take long for the student who'd snuck the banner up the previous night appeared. To his credit, he identified himself and claimed responsibility for what he'd done. He wanted to have a discussion about the movements behind both banners. And that's exactly what they did. They sat well into the afternoon, by which point a crowd increasingly hostile to the young man had gathered. While the dialogue was contentious, it was relatively mild mannered until a member of the crowd picked up a trash can and went to throw it at the guy who'd hung the sign. Seeing it about to happen, the young woman then put herself in front of him to prevent the attack from happening. The debate continued a little while longer. I can't say if anything was resolved or whatever, but it ended without incident. It really meant a lot to me to witness this. It's so easy to experience all of this through online vitriol and massive rallies that we forget that 

   With what's going on right now, it's so, so easy to paint people we don't know with a wide brush. It's easy to make assumptions. It's easy to forget that not everyone who disagrees with you is evil or racist or bent on world destruction. Sometimes they are just looking for answers. We cannot conflate every single person we disagree with the leaders of the movements we disagree with. I am repulsed by plenty of things on the left side of things, just as I am with the right. I will push back on everything the current political climate is churning out, but I refuse to scream at people in the streets because of who they voted for. I will continue to stand for what I believe in, but I will not act like a child in order to do so. I refuse to shout over a shouter. I am grown and I will use my voice as I see fit. I will be heard. I will let my passion drive me, but not control me. I will fight ideologies with information, and I will fight ignorance with education. I will fight hate with love. We are all human. the second we discount that, there isn't anything left to fight over.

Don't be passive. Don't grow complacent. But above all, act like a fucking human being please.