9 November 2001

Ahh, that zany M'ris! She's up writing a journal entry at 5:00 a.m. because she's so engrossed in her writing that she can't stop long enough to sleep!

Um, no. I'm up writing a journal entry at 5:00 a.m. because someone was ringing our doorbell at 4:55. I had visions of friends in distress. I stumbled out to the living room. Timprov was already there, looking away from the door. "It's some guy we don't know," he said. I blinked blearily at him. He said, "I'm not going to open the door at five in the morning for some guy we don't know." I think that's a reasonable policy, and the 19-year-old-ish stranger went away. People have gotten the wrong apartment here during the daytime before. But I was thoroughly awakened by that point.

Look, guys, if you're in distress and you show up at our door, we'll really try to let you in and fix what's wrong with you. We're that kind of people. But we'd appreciate it if you called in advance and let us know you were coming, and who you are, or that you know who we are, and if you did it between, say, 6:00 a.m. and midnight. Just some guidelines. Thanks.

You know, if it had been someone older, I might have wanted Timprov to open the door. Might have thought it was a messenger from...I don't know...somewhere. But 19 years old, at the door at 5:00 in the morning? Maybe this is ageist of me, but...no, huh-uh.

So. The big lesson of yesterday is never to let me grocery shop when I've been on the D.L. (Um. I hope everybody can interpret that as "Disabled List.") I came home with a veritable mountain of food. Specifically, a mountain of produce. I used a good deal of it in Emeril's Mini-Cheddar Cheese Soufflés in Tomato Shells. Um, bam? Not quite bam. (Emeril, for those of you who have not had the time or inclination to watch him, says, "Bam!" when he puts something into a dish that's going to make it particularly "happy.") I think our cheddar was not quite sharp enough. But other than that, rather nice. And, amazingly, I bought the exact right size of tomatoes. I scraped the pan and filled the tomatoes exactly. The only thing that bothered me is that the recipe didn't call for the guts of the tomatoes or for the whites of two of the eggs. So out they went. I thought if I was particularly motivated, I could have made salsa out of the tomato guts. But we already have at least three kinds of salsa in the house, so I didn't feel like that was a particularly good plan. I have no idea what to do with two egg whites. Scramble them for the dog, was my first inclination, but we don't have a dog. And if I'd scrambled them for the M'ris, I would have been depressed about the lack of dog the whole time I was eating them. So out they went.

I guess I'm just pushing my worldview on other people, but I don't understand how anybody can cope for more than a couple of years without dog in their life.

Timprov learned the lesson that you don't sleep through the baking of the soufflés if you want to eat them. They don't keep so well in the fridge. I'm not so sure how okay I am with a recipe that doesn't make Leftovers. We'll see.

So we watched the new live-action Tick last night. I'm kind of confused about some of the things they changed. Where's the scat? The scatting theme song was so charming! Dweeeee-dat-dat-dat-dwee-dao! But no. Sad for me. I also don't understand why they felt the need to rename American-Maid "Captain Liberty" and Die Fliedermaus "BatManuel." I suppose they thought more people would get the jokes in the latter case. Sigh. But it's worth watching again, to see if they get the Tick's goofy speeches right, and so on. (Jimmy Carter??? What's with Jimmy Carter? Actual political figures don't belong on the Tick! That's like having Batman save Barbara Bush in distress: you just don't do it.) (Of course, that's partly because Barbara Bush is pretty well capable of saving herself. Whatever my opinions of father and son, I always figured the mother could take care of herself and whatever else she got her hands on.)

One of the commercials amused me, for some reason. It was one of those stupid The Truth commercials, where they're going to Show Those Tobacco Companies. (Victim mentality. Simplistic reasoning. End digression.) In this one, they claim to be in a tobacco company's office building, and the security guard who's escorting them out says, "We don't have no truth here." Which just struck me as a great line, when you have random hyper people screaming about The Truth: we don't have no truth here, go away, try next door.

And don't ring our doorbell at 5:00 a.m., either.

The commercial that really annoyed me, though, has been really annoying me for weeks. You've probably heard about it, if you've been near me and a TV. "Shallow Hal." Aghhhhhhh. Hi, we're going to claim that inner beauty is important while using this opportunity to make as many fat jokes as possible! Hee hee, aren't fat people funny? He thinks she's pretty, but really she's fat! Hee hee! Here's a radical notion. What if he thought she was pretty and he knew she was fat? Whoa! What if he wasn't dating her "in spite of" her looks, but had different standards than your average Hollywood producer? Whoa! To use Liz's analogy, it's like they're trying to give out the message that not all Asians are good at math, while still copying answers off the Japanese-American girl's paper.

It's the same thing that bothered me about "The Truth About Cats and Dogs," only writ large. The message was that if you find the right person, they can overlook your flaws and love you anyway. Fine. But the assumptions about what are inherently flaws go unchallenged. There is only one standard of Beautiful. I've surveyed guys on "The Truth About Cats and Dogs," and of the ones who have seen it, 86% said that Garofalo was more attractive than Thurman in that movie. (Many of them add that her later project choices and her cynical bitterness turn them off completely, and that Thurman has had better movies than that one. But that's not really the question.) I should probably do a similar survey with women, just to see how it comes out.

Liz was saying yesterday that she thinks the only reason to be offended by a stereotype is if you deep-down believe it's true, because otherwise it'll just look ridiculous. Her examples were pretty funny, but I think there's another reason: if you're aware of people being genuinely hurt by them. Doesn't mean there's no way to make them funny -- of course there's some way. It's the things that Just Aren't Funny that are really funny. This is why my father and I have discussed detonation as an option to the more traditional means of taking care of a loved one's remains. (We have a lot of details worked out on this one, different pricing levels and so on. If you thought my dad and I were normal people who were always nice, you just weren't paying attention.) This is why we've been known to do so in the parking lot at funeral homes where people we liked just fine are waiting inside to be buried. Because sometimes you have to laugh at horrible things. You can still be deeply offended by them, though. The two aren't mutually exclusive, any more than laughing and being sad are mutually exclusive.

Actually, I think the stuff Liz did in her journal was pretty clearly funny because it crossed the line from perpetuating a stereotype to mocking it. It can be a fine line. But this is why it was ridiculous for Fox Family to treat "Blazing Saddles" the way it did. (It was ridiculous for Fox Family to run "Blazing Saddles" at all, but that's another story.)

So. On the schedule for the day: baking brownies, more work on queries and proposals, more work on the Not The Moose Book, the golem story, the reading list. And a trip to Office Despot, because I got a "no thanks" from the last agent I sent to, and I've run out of paper. So I need to get paper to print the rest of my agent query package for Fortress and the rest of Reprogramming for Mark and Timprov to read. And whatever else comes up. There's always something.

Later, an addendum: I almost forgot, it's Anne Sexton's birthday and Carl Sagan's! What a combination! So go read Transformations, it's highly recommended. And one of the Sagans, too. I'd go for Broca's Brain myself, but it's your call. Billions and billions....

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