Archive for the ‘Threat Quality’ Category

SURGERY UPDATE

Posted: November 24, 2014 in Threat Quality

I’m alive, and fine, and nothing went wrong.  I am going to be recuperating at home for a couple weeks and I’m going to try to stay off the internet for a little while I get some work done (it would be the height of boneheadedness not to take advantage of this opportunity, I know; on the other hand, the oxycodone is messing up my typing a little bit).  Some notes:

1.  I decided partway through the process of determining if I was eligible to donate a kidney that, even if it turned out my dad didn’t need one, or for some reason couldn’t take mine, I’d want to donate anyway. This is because the number of available living donors in the US plateaued some years ago, and even though need has increased, the number of available kidneys has not.

Some shitlords, like John Stossl, think the problem is that in the US you can’t be recompensed for an organ — no one is allowed to pay you for it, which is why people don’t do it.  John Stossl thinks that you should be able to buy anything if you’re rich, and that the laws in America, if they ever prevent a rich person from getting what they want, should be changed.  The privilege of being rich is that you aren’t responsible to other people and can get whatever you want, whenever you want.

It’s KIND OF true that this is a problem, but the problem is much more closely related to the way we treat health insurance and medical and family leave in the US.  In my case, my dad’s health insurance covered the entire operation, but what if he’d had shitty health insurance?  What if he’d had no health insurance at all?  We’d have been fucked; this was a million dollar operation.  For every person like my dad, who’s got a very good, upper-middle-class job, there are hundreds of thousands of people that are just fucked.  Even if they manage to get an operation like this done (and no, you can’t get it done in the emergency room, not if you want any chance of getting an organ from a living donor and not if you want to avoid risking death or a lifetime on dialysis), they’d end up in medical debt for the rest of their lives.

Similarly, I’m very lucky because the job I have lets me borrow against anticipated sick leave, gives me an extra week of emergency medical leave, and is generally very generous about how I apply leave to the mandatory FMLA leave that they’re required by law to give me.  (FMLA leave is non-paid leave; whoever thought that requiring employers to give you unpaid leave for an emergency absence of thirty days would somehow be sufficient at times of medical emergency is a fucking idiot.  I’m sorry, but what in the actual fuck is wrong with you, you moron?  People don’t work at jobs because we love working at jobs, we work at jobs because we need money.  It’s the money that’s the fucking important part you numbskull.)  Anyway, I’m going to come out of this okay, because I have a good job, and the reason I have a good job is because I have a union. Hands down, period.  If you think unions are bullshit, well, I suggest trying to donate a kidney to your sick father and seeing how far your employer’s loyalty to you (edit: lol) takes you.

If you think it’s unfair that I work a job that isn’t harder than your job, but I get better pay and better benefits than you because I have a union and you don’t, don’t try and fuck up my job, asshole, just form your own union.  This isn’t rocket surgery, it’s kidney surgery, and my dad’s actual life depended on it.  I will seriously kick your head into the dirt before I acknowledge this petulance about everyone should have to have an equally shitty job so that life is fair.  Life isn’t fair; you secure fairness for yourself.  Form a union, get some fairness.

2.  I know that oxycodone is one of the most abused drugs in the US, and I actually don’t get it’s appeal.  If you’re not in chronic pain, all it does is make you sleepy and have weird dreams.  (For example, I had a dream that Vern, of Outlaw Vern, was telling me about the existence of a transvestite LL Cool J impersonator who was also a famous anarchist, and in the dream I already knew about that.)  Are most Americans in chronic pain?  If not, what is the point of this?  Just buy some fucking Nyquil if you want weird dreams.

3.  I want to talk briefly about the nurse in my post-op surgical unit.  First of all, I want to say that everyone in this unit looked very young, like in their late twenties, which was a little weird, since now I’m in my mid thirties and “late-twenties” looks young, not contemporary.  Second of all, she was very pretty in the way that people on TV shows are pretty, where even when you want just a regular-looking person for a two-minute walk on part they look like they could be a model.  Not necessarily a supermodel, or something, but at least a JC Penny’s model.  She also wore fitted scrubs, and I assume that this was because she likes the way she looks in them, which is why I am not embarrassed to say that her fitted scrubs were very flattering.

THIRD of all, and I’m sure this is in large part because her job as a nurse in a post-surgical unit is probably pretty boring, since mostly she talks to a lot of people who are cranky, in pain, and high on morphine, she seemed super-fascinated by many ordinary occurrences.

Like, she sees my wife knitting and is amazed.  “What is THAT?”  “Oh, I’m…I’m just knitting…”  “Oh my god that’s amazing!  That’s different from crocheting?”  “Yeah, for crocheting you need a hook.”  “WOW.”

She sees my copy of The Baffler.  “What is THIS?  Is this a book?”  “Well, it’s a…it’s a quarterly magazine…”  “REALLY!  What’s it about?”  “You know, uh, culture writing, stuff like that.”  “That’s SO COOL.”

I’m not trying to disparage her; for whatever the reason that she did this, it certainly did make me feel better to have someone be happy and excited and interested in things in the post-surgical unit, please don’t mistake me for a critic on this score.  Please also don’t mistake me for overlooking her compentency as a nurse, which I assume was very high (I don’t actually know what nurses are supposed to do, so technically I can’t really say, but she definitely did things like remove my catheter and inject me with heperin efficiently and with aplomb).

What I am saying is that it did make me feel like I’d briefly become a secondary character on a CW TV show about a space alien who comes to earth and then becomes a nurse so that she can learn about what it’s like to be human.

4.  Isn’t that a good idea for a TV show, though?  Especially if the space alien had lots of access to technology and alien powers to heal people, but she wasn’t allowed to use them, so she had to sometimes watch people suffer and die and just try to be empathetic to them.

5.  ANOTHER good idea for a TV show would be like a half-hour comedy in which the two main characters spent two or three episodes as side characters in other TV shows.  Like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, only weekly, and with television.

On the Evening of My Surgery

Posted: November 19, 2014 in Threat Quality

I’m fine!  Everything’s fine.  I am not sick, I am not dying.  This is a voluntary, elective procedure that the doctors do all the time, as routine as the extraction of one of my many organs could possibly be.  I’m told this one is particularly redundant, and once my wounds heal I won’t even notice that it’s missing.

I am going to be offline for a few days, and probably (hopefully) for longer than that.  I want to take my recovery period to scale back on my internet usage, to get some of my other work done.  So, I don’t want anyone to worry about that. I’ve got two books two finish at least, not counting a third book that everyone is waiting for and I’m slowly starting to feel like they’ll never get.

I’m a huge disappointment to myself, is what I’m trying to say.

Anyway, even though I know that everything is fine, and the dangers associate with this procedure are very, very low, I’ve got some feeling of…

not doom, exactly, not anxiety, not dread.

Finality, I suppose you could say.  I imagine that some line is crossed, some great change will happen, and things will never be the same.  (I don’t really believe this, intellectually; I don’t believe in grand conversions or great changes, I believe that life is a slow accretion of experience, however abrupt it looks.)

It’s kind uplifting.  If I don’t die now, and if I ever do die sometime in the future, I hope I can face it like this — not with eagerness, not with delay, but with readiness.

(I am not going to die, I am being silly and dramatic.  I just got to talk my way through it, because if television and movies have taught me anything, it’s that the worst things happen to the people who hope for the best.)

Lately it seems like there’s a lot of shit happening in the world, like we’ve got so much work to do, like we’re never going to get it all done.  We probably won’t get it all done.  But there’s still good.  I know there is, because when you look for good, you find it.  You always find it.

Okay, whatever.  Whatever else happens, I just wanted to let you guys know that I have found many of you to be relatively tolerable.

Look to the good, guys.

See you around.

–braak

Cara Blouin

I want to say that maybe Rapture, Blister, Burn is the feminist play we deserve, but I’ve been trying not to blame myself for the bad things that happen to me. It’s one of the many struggles that I go through as a living human female, an experience that, by the way, I regularly complain about not seeing portrayed on stage. I like to blame *that* on the glut of white male playwrights who dominate the art. “I am sick,” I whine, “of seeing female characters who are just cardboard cutouts who don’t have real feelings or motivations written by jerk dudes who don’t know what it is like to be a lady.”

So it’s hard to know how to feel about the paper dolls that Gina Gionfriddo has cut out to use as mouthpieces for her barely thought out ideas in Rapture, Blister, Burn. I think it’s worse. It’s one thing to be alienated by someone who can’t understand your experience. It’s a curious betrayal to be alienated by someone who presumably should be able to.

(more…)

So, I didn’t think that I especially cared very much about The Avengers 2: Robo-Boogaloo and after seeing the teaser trailer I actually still kind of don’t. But I also kind of do, because even though the adventures of a bunch of super-powered guys who shoot and punch shooting and punching a bunch of robots doesn’t have a huge amount of appeal for me, puzzles about story DO have some appeal for me.

I am, therefore, going to play a game – based on what we’ve got here in the trailer and the very little we know about what’s definitely in the movie, I’m going to see if I can figure out what happens in it.

Strictly-speaking, this is me just improvising – I am sort of talking my way through the sort of movie that I might make if I knew these things had to be in it. Don’t count it as a real prediction (though, if I turn out to be exactly right, or close to right, or even better than the movie that actually comes out, definitely call me up to work on all of your movies, you guys know I am a genius, right?); this is the idle speculation game.

Let’s play though. (more…)

I like to wait to jump into these arguments until they’ve sort of blown over a little bit. It gives me time to think, it gives the aggrieved a chance to get riled up and then find something else to distract them, it leaves us with the opportunity to try to lay out some ideas in a way that doesn’t have to navigate the thorny situation of a person trying to justify the opinions of their TV heroes or something.

I want to talk about this fight between Bill Maher and Sam Harris on one side, and kind of on the other side Ben Affleck and Reza Aslan.

I’m on the Affleck/Aslan side of the argument, and rather than going through the details of their fight, I want to try to recontextualize the argument in a way that maybe suggests that this fight is misguided.

(more…)

I guess it’s the 15th anniversary of the release of Fight Club, so everyone is talking about it again I guess. Fight Club gets a bad rap these days, and there’s a feeling that maybe the Suck Fairy came and worked her magic, turning a film that a lot of folks kind of liked fifteen years ago into a big pile of crap. What is this movie? A testosterone-saturated pile of White Male aggression, a maybe kind of racist, patriarchical Trojan horse fed to a new generation of teenage boys under the guise of an appealing adolescent nihilism? It is gross, who even liked this, right?

I liked this, and actually I think it’s pretty brilliant. Hear me out though, I’ll explain.

(more…)

Help My Friend Michael Scott

Posted: October 4, 2014 in Threat Quality

So, Michael Scott (not of the Office, a different Michael Scott) is a friend of mine.  He’s an independent filmmaker and VFX artist in California.  He’s kind of well-known for this pretty great series of lightsaber fighting videos he made:

as well as for his enthusiasm for (and criticism of movies).

On September 30th, he was hit by a car and critically injured.  Like, very critically injured.  His friends are trying to raise money to help him.  I think he’s got insurance to cover his medical bills, but we all know that severe injuries cost a lot more than medical bills — based on the extent of the damage, he could be out of work for months (possibly forever).

Michael was the first person who expressed interest in film rights to The Translated Man.  He has since hired me to write several film treatments for him.  I’ve found him to be a very smart, very good, very generous person.  I know that many of you guys don’t know him from Adam (strictly speaking, most of you don’t know ME from Adam), but if you’ve got a few dollars lying around, he sure could use the help.

GoFundMe