Monday, November 30, 2009

Guess what's stuck in my tooth?

Guess what's lodged in my tooth?

One of these.

Or, well, a teensy tiny fragment of one of these, anyway.

Perhaps it goes without saying that the root canal could've gone better.

The good news: it didn't hurt while they were working on it, and it doesn't hurt now. So it could be worse.
Much worse. I can honestly say it was pain-free, and no worse than getting a filling. And that was a big relief. I could occasionally feel them noodling around in there, but it didn't hurt.

The bad news: about an hour and a half into the root canal procedure, one of the files they were using to scrape down into the roots broke. Apparently, I have been blessed with "extremely long" roots on this tooth. Roots so long that my dentist didn't have a file long enough to get to the bottom to pull out the last juicy infected bits way up in the gum. Oh, and have I mentioned that one of the three roots on this tooth zigzags? Yep! It doesn't just go straight or curve, it curves and then it curves again. Stupid ol' Tooth #14 is a real winner.

So, they had to abort the mission. Abort! Abort!! Next Monday, I drive back to Duluth and go to an endodontist (a dentist who specializes in root canals) to get the file fragment removed, and to finish up the root canal. And then, sometime after that, I'll go back to my regular dentist to get a crown put on the top. Because I was planning on using up half my vacation days this year going to the dentist.

Until then: I've got a zombie tooth. And it ain't going without a fight.

(Know what the most uncomfortable part of the root canal was? About halfway through, that big bottle of water I stupidly drank on the way to Superior caught up with's kind of difficult to ask for a potty break when you've got a mouthful of drills and hoses.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Getting to the root of the problem.

I got a toothache about two years ago. A howling, screaming, oh-my-god-pull-it-out-PULL-IT-OUT! toothache. It attacked one day out of the blue...and then, just as mysteriously as it had arrived, it slunk back off into the night. Gone, but not forgotten.

I blamed myself, and well, given how long I'd slacked off on going to the dentist (like, uh, seven years or so?), that was a fair assessment of where I'd gone wrong. I threw myself into a more proactive dental hygiene routine with the gusto of those crazy religious people who dance around with snakes. I flossed! I brushed (better)! I rinsed with mouthwash (even though it burns my tongue and makes me cry)! And, most importantly, I went to the dentist again. A lot. I've gotten five fillings in the last two years, and clocked a lot of (expensive) quality time with the dental hygienist. (I guess I got a few free toothbrushes out of the deal, it hasn't completely one-sided.)

I thought I was on the right track...but alas. Ol' howling, screaming, death-throes-of-unequivocal-agony tooth? Despite my increased diligence...Tooth #14 is dead. Or, well, close to dead. On life support, maybe. Once words like "necrosis" start popping up in conversations with the dentist, you know the jig is up.

Tomorrow, #14 gets a root canal. My first! How exciting! And you know, honestly, I'm not that worried about it. I'm always a little nervous when I'm going to the dentist, but then again, I'm nervous going to any kind of doctor's appointment. Even the eye doctor, for pete's sake. Heck, I get nervous about going to the DMV. My friend Ryan the dentist has been a big help in explaining how it all works, and once he said most people don't find it any more uncomfortable than getting a filling, I breathed a sigh of relief. Fillings! Oh, I've had a lot of fillings in my lifetime. Those aren't so bad!

It's funny, but if I had to gauge my anxiety level, I'm definitely more worried about the bill than the actual root canal. And I guess that's a good thing? Relatively-speaking?

"Make love bro."

A Facebook exchange between two people I knew in high school:

"Make love bro."

Lost to the ravages of time (along with two years of algebra).

Tonight I met up with my old friends Melissa & Daren for some beers and conversation while they were still in town for Thanksgiving, and it was great to see them & catch up a bit. I've known Mel since middle school -- we wound up going to the same college, and were roommates for two years in an on-campus apartment building (along with two other girls). That's where we met Daren, who lived down the hall. Mel & D have been married for seven years now and live in St. Paul -- we don't see each other as often as we should, considering St. Paul's really not that far away and they come through Ashland a couple of times a year (since Mel's family's here, too), but you know how it is...

Anyway, as the conversation shifted from new business to old business, we started telling stories about people who lived in our apartment building back-in-the-day, and it was amusing how our memories of people we used to know (or see on a near-daily basis, at least) had generally boiled down to a single defining characteristic. "You remember Neal? Neal, he lived on our floor! The Asian kid? He was the guy who had the full-size photocopier in his room!"

Honestly, I had no idea who they were talking about...until they mentioned the photocopier.

It's funny what the brain latches onto, and how much it discards after it's been obsolete for too long. Kind of like how I've forgotten any algebra I might've accidentally learned in high school.

More people from college that I'd completely forgotten about:

Shirtless Steve: Shirtless Steve lived across the hall from us. He was, as you may have inferred, frequently topless. Mel's clearest memory of him was when she went into their apartment one day and found Shirtless Steve leaning over the stove, shirtless, heating up a can of sauerkraut. She nearly puked.

Kidd: Kidd was Daren's roommate and he had the hugest head I've ever seen on a human body. Seriously. To steal a line from So I Married an Ax Murderer, "It's like an orange on a toothpick." Kidd (I'm using his last name only, because frankly, I don't want him googling himself and finding me) was into dirtbiking, making terrible booty jam mix CDs, and getting so drunk he'd pee the bed. Poor Daren.

Other Darren: Other Darren (or, just "Darren") lived next door to us and he was a nice, normal guy. I remember he was a big Bob Dylan fan, and he was always ordering Dylan memorabilia off of eBay when eBay was still really new and dangerous. And he was, like, a geology major? I think? That's where my memories get fuzzy. I like to imagine that Other Darren is off consulting for a mining company in some exotic locale nowadays, listening to his Dylan albums on a gold-plated iPod and sleeping on a big pile of money.

Trevor: Trevor lived with Other Darren, and while he was probably pretty normal, too, he did have the odd habit of wandering out into the communal hallway in nothing but a towel from time to time. (Each apartment had its own there was really no logical reason to have to step outside in a towel. Just weird and/or naughty reasons.) Also, maybe it's just me, but the name "Trevor" is an incredibly satisfying one to yell, isn't it? It spits out so nicely, and it always reminded me of something Stefano on Days of Our Lives would bellow. It just sounds too fancy for its own good. I would yell "TREVOR!" melodramatically about three or four times a day, and eventually it mutated into a catch-all non sequitur around the apartment. Drop something on the floor? "Trevor!" Watch something particularly stupid happen on 90210? "Curse you, Trevor!" Forget to set your alarm clock to get up in the morning? "Goddammit, Trevor!!" Which got really awkward one day when I was screaming "TREVOR!" in front of our door...when Trevor walked by. Trevor, wherever you are, sorry about that. It wasn't anything personal. Don't blame us, blame your parents for naming you Trevor.

Mary Moe: Mary Moe lived next door to us (not with Other Darren and Trevor, but on the opposite side of our place) and had the very unfortunate distinction of having a name that reminded everyone of this song. (Yeah, I know the lyrics page says it's "Mary Moon," but if you listen to it...well, it really sounds more like "Moe" to me. And apparently also to everyone else who lived in our building in 1999.) Maybe having everyone singing that at her all the time was what made her a crabby piece of work. Or maybe she was like that before the song came out. I guess we'll never know. The girl in the song sounded way more fun.

The Stoners: The Stoners lived just down the hall, and every time they opened their door, a puff of smoke and the stench of ganja exploded into the hallway. How they were never busted by the RAs, I don't know. One day, we found a little black kitten meowing outside our door, which was confusing because the building had a super-strict no pets policy. (Well, no pets other than goldfish, actually -- I believe the RAs worded it more like "no pets other than those who can survive being submerged under water for five minutes.") As we stood there, contemplating the kitten's origins, one of The Stoners emerged from their hazy den of inequity and said in a voice unsurprisingly similar to that of Jeff Spicoli, "Oh, Marley, I wondered where you were!" and took the kitten back inside with him. I remember we were so worried about the kitten suffocating in there from lack of oxygen that we almost ratted The Stoners out to the RAs.

The Guy from New Jersey (or was it Boston?): To us, this guy was a mystery wrapped inside a conundrum. How did someone from New Jersey (or seriously, it might've been Boston, I really can't remember) wind up going to Duluth? I mean, it's not like UMD is a college that attracts a lot of people outside the immediate area. Did he just throw darts at a map or something? TGFNJ(OWIB?) was quiet and a bit of a wallflower, so it was quite the coup when we convinced him to co-star in one of our Killer Furby movie productions. Come to think of it, though, he never really talked to us again after that.

Chris the Weird English Major: Chris lived with Shirtless Steve, I think. Or was it Neal? It might've been Neal. Anyway, Chris was weird. I mean, he was nice enough, but he reminded me of Christopher Robin from the Winnie the Pooh books -- he was a wee pixie of a young man, and bookish. Extremely bookish. And the kind of 20 year-old guy who wears a lot of tweed. Voluntarily. We had a lot of classes together, and for some reason that always made me feel uncomfortable. He was just...well, he was weird.

Big Joe: Big Joe lived with Shirtless Steve. Well, we think he did. The more we talked about Big Joe tonight, the more confused we got about who he was. Crap, even as I'm writing this, I'm wondering, "Wait, 'Big Joe' doesn't sound right." Anyway, if Big Joe was who I think he was, he lived with Shirtless Steve and he had some sort of log furniture fetish going on. "Check out our apartment! All log furniture! I've got a guy back home who hooked me up." And lo & behold, if you went into their living room, everything looked plucked straight from a log furniture showroom. I think Big Joe was also the guy who went from room to room on that side of the hall drilling holes behind all the floorboard trim, so all the apartments on that side could illegally steal cable from the one apartment paying for it. But again, given the shady nature of my Big Joe recollections, I might be pinning that on the wrong guy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I knew 2012 was going to be ridiculous (can a movie that casts John Cusack as an action hero be anything but ridiculous?), and on that front, it certainly didn't disappoint. It's a massive, pounding jumble of tsunamis, fireballs, implausibilities and giraffes (yes, giraffes)...and if you've been pummeled by one movie like this, you've been pummeled by them all.

More than anything, it reminded me of this:

"Have a Nice Day."

I was a junior in college when Y2K hysteria gripped the nation--nay, the entire world. On a late-night Perkins run in Duluth, me & my roommate Laura found one of those sticker vending machines in the lobby filled with Y2K-themed stickers for 50 cents a pop. Goodbye, laundry money--hello, collection of apocalypse-themed doodads!

This one was our favorite:

"This Will Never Happen..."

I think it was the "THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN" border around the edges that did it. But the dog with a mouthful of bills was a nice touch, too.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Weird stuff I've given as gifts.

- A fiber optic light-up picture of the Last Supper.

- Lucha libre masks.

- A unicorn costume.

- Mustaches.

- A Jimmy Smits poster.

- Miniature replica of the Ark of the Covenant.

- A squirrel-themed calendar.

- A plastic donkey that poops out cigarettes.

- Wreaths made out of fake $100 bills with a picture of Aretha Franklin stuck in the middle.

- Mullet wigs.

- A Burger King costume.

- Booberry and Frankenberry.

- A dead frog, taxidermized, posed and dressed as a cross-country skier.

- Snuggies.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Police blotter.

Saturday, 3:44 P.M.:
Report of wheelchair stuck between toilet and wall of bathroom.

Saturday, 8:35 P.M.:
Report of house being egged by persons in a truck with business name on its side.

Monday, 10:28 P.M.:
Report of person hitting children with a rope in public.

Monday, 11:35 P.M.:
Caller reports his upstairs neighbor is jumping on the floor; this is an ongoing problem between neighbors.

Monday, 4:59 P.M.:
Report of child with gun saying to another child, "This is a gun that will kill stuff."

Wednesday, 12:11 P.M.:
Report of animal, possibly ferret, in caller's garage.

Thursday, 5:14 P.M.:
Report of tripod seen near church.

Friday, 2:21 A.M.:
Caller from Holiday gas station reports an approximate 7 foot male stole a bunch of stuff; when caught, he put the items on the counter and ran out.

Friday, 11:40 A.M.:
Report of calling card malfunctioning, leading caller to offensive smut site. Caller contacted customer service but could not understand service agent due to heavy accent.

Friday, November 20, 2009

140 characters or less is the soul of wit.

So, I'm on Twitter, and I have been for a while now. And I like it a lot.

I've heard a lot of complaints about the idea of Twitter--"I can't sum myself up in 140 characters!" "How narcissistic is that?" "I don't need to know every time someone goes to take a dump!"

To which I say: oh, ye of little imagination.

Yes, there are thousands of people on Twitter who do nothing but document the minutia of their everyday lives in real-time. But those people are boring. And they're easily avoided.

Like any social networking platform, I think you'll get out of it what you put into it. If you post a bunch of boring humdrum stuff, your audience will get bored in a hurry, and so will you. Where's the fun in that?

The people I follow on Twitter write about their day-to-day lives...but they make a joke out of everything. And I mean everything. That's because I follow funny people, and I think that's probably the key to maximum Twitter enjoyment. Some of those funny people are famous comedians and actors who are in the business of amusing other people, and they've got one-liners galore. Some are people whose blogs I read, or who live in communities nearby and have clever or insightful things to say. Some are people I know from college or high school who have good senses of humor and don't take themselves too seriously. And others are just random people who popped up and made me laugh.

What it really seems to boil down to is this: anyone who goes on & on about themselves in harrowing detail is going to wear on people's nerves, whether they're doing it in person or in print. But if you can keep it snappy and tease it into a one-liner? I can get behind that.

I like that Twitter forces me to experiment with language. It challenges me to boil down my ideas to their most basic components and to cut off the frilly bits. When I've got a small, finite space to work with, it makes me more disciplined about using the right word in the right place, and it makes me think more about sentence structure & syntax. It's brain food. Silly, frivolous brain food, perhaps, but brain food nonetheless.

Here's a few of my favorite feeds (caution: salty language in some of them):


Friday, November 13, 2009

Police blotter.

Sunday, 2:29 A.M.:
Request for officer to "kick son out of house" so woman could sleep. Update: Woman called back saying she only called to threaten her son and he was now going to bed.

Tuesday, 10:12 P.M.: Report of people in red truck being rude to caller.

Wednesday, 7:09 A.M.: Fire alarm at the community center in Iron River; alarm canceled as they were making pancakes and the alarm went off.

Thursday, 2:56 P.M: Caller reports a large pig in her yard and she wants it gone before her kids get off the bus.

Friday, 11:50 P.M.: Caller believes someone broke into his house and left lubricant and condoms on his bed; nothing appeared missing or damaged.

Saturday, 4:09 A.M.: Caller requests officer to remove his wife from his home because she is annoying his daughter.

Saturday, 6:45 A.M.: Report of neighbor's dog pooping in yard. Subject wants neighbor to clean it up.

Saturday, 3:59 P.M.: Caller reports individual lying near the Onion River bridge with no pants on. Update: two subjects were posing for class pictures, caller misinterpreted the situation.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Old video footage that I could threaten to post online if I wasn't too lazy to look for it:

- A parody (filmed at a middle school slumber party) of a home shopping network in which I sported a black eye and a blackened-out tooth...though I can't remember why.

- Potentially incriminating footage from the night of my high school graduation lock-in at the Elk's Lodge in 1997. I think the only sober people in the building were me & my friends--even some of the chaperones were drunk.

- A project me and my friends Georgia & Joy filmed about the historical impact of "the media" for our A.P. History class with Mr. Skerik (11th grade, so that was...1996 or so?). Pre-internet, even! I remember filming a clip in my kitchen, playing an old woman whose cat liked to listen to the radio. Riveting material totally worthy of an A, I'm sure.

- Many loosely structured (i.e., made up on-the-spot) "movies" starring me & my friend Melissa when we were in middle school. Most of our plots were driven by whatever props we had laying around at the time of filming. Got a table on the deck? Let's make one about waiters. Mom's home? Let's sit in her car and pretend to drive. There's a pile of rocks made out of foam in the basement? Film some avalanche scenes. Wanna get really technical? Sit in the car, and pretend to drive into an avalanche! Cut! Print! That's a wrap!

- The legendary Killer Furby trilogy, made when I was in college at UMD (and our apartment was awash with hard little plastic Furbies from McDonalds Happy Meals).

- Another school project, this time for psychology class during my senior year of high school with my friends Jesse & Joe. I think it was about the psychology of advertising, but all I remember filming was a faux-Nerf commercial in my front yard, singing "Ruby Tuesday" while crashing Matchbox cars into each other on my laundry room floor, and something about My Little Ponies. And He-Man. Yeah, mostly it was an excuse to play with toys.

- Very, very crappy footage of my roommate Laura's Toy Story alien toys "dancing" to the Eiffel 65 classic, "Blue (Da Ba Dee)."