Monday, October 22, 2007

feed the terrorists

1. don’t read this if you’re a rat

Recently AK told me about a study in which rats were put in cages with an electrified floor. (Yes, it seems like a lot of studies involve rats and electric shock. This is depressing for rat lovers like me. Also, KPFK devoted some of its pledge drive tonight to a DVD about factory farming, which you can receive if you pledge. I thought long and hard about inching my way towards veganism. I also thought about how only KPFK would give a DVD of animals being tortured as a premium. I’ll stick with my Sounds Eclectico CD from KCRW, thank you.)

Anyway, the rats: A lone rat on an electrified floor will initially try to escape, then give up and just sit there. When it’s dissected (and I think we all know these things always end with dissection), you’ll find tons of ulcers. It tears itself up inside.

Two rats on an electrified floor will tear each other up instead, fighting constantly. But when you dissect them, they’ll be ulcer-free.

To me the moral of this story is: We can only prevent terrorism by feeding people.

I.e., bad living conditions will destroy people or make them destroy others. The only real solution is better living conditions. While this applies to foreign policy, I think it also applies to morning commutes.

2. r is for reading-esque experience

Don’t laugh. If I sit in too much traffic, I will feel like there’s a rubber band around my heart or I will swear at customer service representatives. So until Operation Move My Life To Different Parts Of The City takes effect, I’m trying out Operation Books On Tape.

Well, CD, technically. Starting with S is for Silence by Sue Grafton. I read a handful of Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone mysteries in junior high and high school and I remembered them as being pretty good, certainly better than Mary Higgins Clark’s stories, which inevitably involved beautiful young women of Irish decent being stalked by psychopaths who sometimes drove gypsy cabs.

It turns out I had pretty good taste at age 14, because Grafton rocks, especially when compared to the perpetually clogged corner of Washington and National. And though Grafton’s writing doesn’t exactly stretch the boundaries of the genre (S is for Silence surrounds a town tramp and the drunkard husband who everyone thinks killed her, but who inevitably didn’t; right now I suspect the babysitter’s boyfriend), it’s among the better examples of its genre.

My inner literary snob is also quieted by the fact that it’s War and Peace (not that I’ve read War and Peace) compared to my other commute option, Kevin and Bean talking about boobs.

I told Alanna about my new hobby and she said, “Can you see yourself writing a mystery?”

“I always write things that have an element of mystery at their core. The problem is that while I like setting up mysteries, I’m no good at solving them. But maybe that will change after I listen to more and more of them on CD. I kind of feel like my next project will be some kind of adaptation or update. Something that builds on something that already exists. And to do a good update, you have to know your source material really well.”

At the very least, I think some kind of riff on the mystery genre has more potential than a riff on Kevin and Bean’s “Who’s hotter, Kristen Bell or Hayden Panettiere?” debate.

But for the record, it’s totally Kristen.


jenny said...

See, I guess I interpreted the experiment results differently. What I learned from this is that if I attacked people more often, I would have fewer stomach problems. Food for thought.

And yes, Kristen Bell.

Cheryl said...

No, that's totally true too! Aggressors are healthier. I know three people with chronic stomach problems, and I'm going to encourage them all to start hitting people. But only people who really deserve it.

Tracy Kaply said...

Yeah, I learned the same lesson as Jenny.Thus, the spoons.

And for good reading, may I recommend Dorothy Sayers and Guy Gavriel Kay? Sayers is the most awesome mystery writer EVER, and Kay is amazing. I am also in love with Terry Pratchett.

Cheryl said...

Consider them added to my LA Public Library hold list. Thanks!

Jamie said...

OMG the poor mousies! That's a terrible yet provocative experiment. Maybe there's a plot-line in there for a mystery novel.

Cheryl said...

M is for Rat!

Ms. Q said...

I'm totally in favor of the book-on-tape. Kimberly has a serious road-rage problem, but no ulcers...we can offer to give you a Tony Hillerman mystery and, if I can find it, the Nanny Diaries read by Julia Roberts.