Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fun with Google Searches

I hope the person who searched "babababababababababa babababababababababa babababa" enjoyed the book review of All the Fishes Come Home to Roost, by Rachel Manija Brown. No, there is no sex in Maximum Ride (not the Extreme Sports one I reviewed, nor the others), and I'm sorry I don't know where you can find Tastykakes in Michigan.

If you're not finding what you want with "patriartical", may I suggest you try "patriarchal"?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Twitch and Shout: Book Review

"Son, neurological disorder is the wave of the future."

This statement by the author's father is from the frontspiece to Twitch and Shout: A Touretter's Tale, by Lowell Handler. I've said something similar to my son, but reading Handler's memoir gave me more a bit more insight into what he deals with every single day. In middle school, no less.

On one level, Handler's book is an enjoyable coming-of-age, overcoming disability, finding your niche story. But it also has some startling (to me, anyway) insights into Tourette's Syndrome and OCD:

I know a woman with OCD who thinks continually of the word Ebola. Regardless of what is happening around her in conversations or on the television or radio, she is thinking Ebola. The fact that the word represents a horrible, deadly virus does not matter to her; more significant is the sound the world makes audibly and in her mind when it's repeated. She is fascinated by the "acoustic contours" of the word itself. Touretters often develop such an obsession with words, lost in an amusement park of the mind where thy can spend hours turning over the vocal and mental variations in form, inflection, pitch, and even the meaning of a world or phrase. A single word may become the roller-coaster ride for a Touretter on which he or she can be carried away for hours, unable to complete another task (p. 37).

Handler relates his interviews with several other people with TS (including those featured in the film he helped make, with the same title) and I thought this explanation by Adam Seligman was intriguing:

"My theory about all Tourette symptoms," Adam continued, "is that you have a buildup of pressure, which must be relieved by an action. The action is either a physical movement, a sound, a ritualistic compulsive act, or an obsessive thought. If you don't relieve this pressure it builds up, and you feel like you are going to explode (p. 92)."

Twitch and Shout is was clearly ahead of the game when it comes to explaining the need for health care reform and orphan drug support (it was published in 1998), and it also includes fun and interesting stories about eating nasturtiums with Oliver Sacks, Zulu ideas about Tourette's, self-medicating, humility, degrees of disability, and humor.

As an unexpected bonus, I love black and white photography, and Twitch and Shout is nicely illustrated with some of Handler's photographs. In fact, a little web browsing shows that Handler's photographic work is amazing. Check it out, along with his book.

Monday, March 09, 2009

No! Let Them Eat Thin Mints and Samoas!

And you can buy them from my daughter's troop if you happen to be at Cabela's in se Michigan next Saturday morning. Forget about the new Dulce de Leche flavor - they sound much better than they are. The sugar-free chocolate chip isn't bad, though, and I think the lemon cremes are sadly unappreciated.

We already did our part selling at Busch's in Saline last Saturday. Thank goodness there was an overhang there that our table was under. Still, dismal weather.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Let Them Eat Kale

I've been reading some interesting stuff on food and its economics and politics.

The Politics of Food by 11D is a wonderful post that includes the following quote that sums my feelings up nicely:

Food is not a priority to most people. Pressed for time and energy, most people are going through the drive-through window at Wendy's. Even if it was cheaper and more readily available, kale and okra are only important to the intellectual fringe. And people don't want to hear about it. They don't want the guilt. Vegetable-guilt drives people to Sarah Palin's rallies. well as a link to Ezra Klein's Foodie Politics post at The American Prospect.

I'm seeing the same split between foodie ("pie in the sky"?) intellectuals and people who are struggling to pay for their food and don't have time to cook it in the comments on's post titled Low-Income Children Shamed by Cheese Sandwich Policy, which spun off a Chicago Tribune story about the policy that the Albuquerque Public Schools recently instituted, where students whose parents are behind on paying for their lunch bills get a cheese sandwich, milk, and fruit for lunch.

It's too bad the Tribune didn't bother to do a local story on this, because I'm sure there are schools in Chicagoland that have similiar policies. Here in Michigan (hey, maybe we're an economic bellwether for the rest of the country!), both my first grader and my sixth grader's schools have done something like this for years - if your child's account is more than $5 in the hole, your kid gets offered a PBJ sandwich if they didn't bring their own lunch. They don't get to have one of those cheeseburgers that makes McDonald's look like gourmet food, or even a little pool of the fluorescent liquid cheese-food-product with a pile of tortilla chips (all served on a lovely styrofoam tray) that passes for nachos.

Also close to home, Mark Maynard has a post called The President Calls for Victory Gardens. Despite the fact that a commenter said my contribution (a link to Eat the View, and their cute historical video on the White House lawns & gardening) was the stupidest shit he'd seen in ages - and I have to confess, it does highlight the gulf between foodie intellectual and "what's for dinner tonight?"Americans - I'm still planning on planting a few tomatoes in the back yard when the ground thaws in....oh, three months or so. Maybe I'll even buy some kale at the Saline Farmers' Market when they open again. It probably doesn't taste too bad in ramen soup, and if I tell my 12 year old that's how they eat it in Japan, he may even try it. Maybe I'll go wild and use the entire flavor packet.