Reversing the Numbness

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Year's!

The DM and I are in Las Vegas getting ready to ring in the new year as Robbie Maddison and his Honda CR500 fly over our heads. I'll be doing a little blogging over at our Racer X travel blog, so feel free to stop on by.

Happy New Year's!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday Music

It's Friday. I need music.

Sort of, anyway ... not sure how much time I'll have for listening, but if you post it, I'll find the time. In the meantime, I've got one for you.

I like Bettie Serveert a lot. If you only have time to listen to one song from this full show, check out her cover of "Lover I Don't Have to Love." So nice.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Adventures in Dentistry

Wow, I feel like a stranger on my own blog! It's been a crazy month and I just haven't been able to reverse my numbness much lately. I've missed you all terribly, though, and I'm happy to be back. I look forward to catching up on your many excellent blogs in the coming days.

So tonight I'd like to flash back to my college years, probably 1992 or maybe '93. I was very poor, of course, and often found myself selling CDs or baseball cards so I could afford to buy a few death dogs and potato logs from the local Dairy Mart. (My body cringes at this now.) I was always looking for ways to save money, and this led me to shop around a bit while searching out a new dentist to do some work I'd been putting off. Basically, I needed somebody who would be willing to bill me for at least part of the fee.

After a few calls to local dentists, I found a guy in nearby Monongah. It's only 15 or 20 minutes from Morgantown, so I gave the cat a ring.

Me: Hi, I need some dental work done. Do you offer payment plans? I'm on a college student's budget, I'm afraid.
Operator (an older man): Sure.
Me: Great! I'd like to make an appointment. I'm pretty busy with classes in Morgantown; what are your hours?
Operator: We're flexible. When can you make it down?
Me: I don't suppose you're open on Saturday....
Operator: Sure! Name a time.
Me: Uhhh ... 3 pm?
Operator: See you then!

Wow! I'd found the most flexible dentist ever! I was stoked and made it to his "office" a few minutes early on the agreed-upon day.

I put "office" in quote marks because as soon as I pulled up, it was obvious this wasn't an ordinary office. It was more like a house. An old, out-of-shape house. Still, poverty can make people do crazy things, so I rang the bell.

A man in his '60s or early '70s came to the door tearing into a sandwich. I could tell by his voice he was the man I spoke with on the phone.

"Hi, I'm Dr. XXX. You must be Bryan! Can I get you a roast beef sandwich? My wife will whip it right up!"

"Uhhhhh. No. Thanks."

Now, kids, when a dentist offers you a sandwich before a checkup, what do you do? That's right, you run. I think most people who know me would say I'm a rather sensible person, but on this day, I'm afraid my I just didn't have my shit together. So I entered the building despite the sandwich.

It was sort of basement like, with clutter stacked on every table and chair, as well as on the floor. The dentist clearly lived upstairs, and his wife came down to look for something, walking about as if I weren't even in the room. Then I heard the front door open and a somewhat younger, eccentric man entered. I soon found out he was a neighbor from up the street, and it appeared he had heard the news that the dentist had a patient and didn't want to miss the event. After a quick introduction, the dentist led me to his chair in a small room at the back of the building. The room was lined with compartmented shelves, and in each box was a plaster cast of a full set of teeth.

"So what are you looking to have done?" he asked.

Nothing by you! "Uh, well, I'm just kind of shopping around right now. I'm not necessarily looking to have work done today."

"Well, the first thing I always do is take a plaster mold of my new patients' teeth," he said.

Try to plaster me and I'll punch you in the throat! "As I mentioned on the phone, I'm really low on funds, and I can't afford to pay for something like this, I'm afraid. So I should probably be goi..."

"Don't worry," he replied, "my payment plans are very flexible."

"I really don't want to go into debt over dental work," I said.

"How does this sound?: A quarter a month. Twenty-five cents. Can you afford that?"

Dear god, this man is crazy, I must get out of here. Now. "Uh, you know, I'm really not comfortable with this situation. I think I'm going to just consider my options now, but it's nice to know you're down here and available."

This went back and forth a bit, with his friend constantly assuring me that he and I were with one of the great dental gods who ever graced the Mountain State. I finally made it clear that I wouldn't be having anything done that day. The dentist finally gave in, but not wanting me to leave empty handed, gave me four or five full-size tubes of Rembrandt toothpaste (this stuff was expensive at the time, like $12 a tube or something) and about a dozen toothbrushes. Then I started my retreat.

"Wait, there's one other thing I'd like to talk to you about," he said as I shimmied toward the front door. "I have two words for you: Colloidal Silver." His eyebrows perked up as his head cocked sideways, awaiting my response.


"You've heard of AIDS? Cancer? Herpes? Pneumonia? The common cold, even?"

"Uh. Yes. I've heard of those."

"Colloidal Silver cures them all, every time."

He proceeded to produce a small bottle of clear liquid with a homemade-type label which itemized all of the ailments this miracle cure could defeat. He and his neighbor explained that they'd both been taking Colloidal Silver every day for more than a year and they were both is perfect health. They felt like they were twenty again. The doc apologized for not being able to give me any, as his supply was limited, but he could put me in touch with a person who sold it for a very good price.

I told him that he and his friend did indeed appear to be in, err, excellent shape, but as I mentioned I was on a tight budget and, being that I was in good health, I would pass this time but thank you oh so much for thinking of me.

At this point I was really, truly freaked out, and I paid my respects and beelined for the door. But not before he could stall me one last time.

"Wait, I do have one more thing you can take with you, if you want, but I'd like you to bring it back to me the next time you come down."

I looked at the item in his hands, which he'd apparently picked up from one of the many stacks in the room. It was a worn, dog-eared, '70s era issue of Playboy.

"Aaaaaaaarrrrrgggggghhhhhhhh!" I was out the door in a flash. I fumbled with my keys as I tried to unlock my Subaru Justy while looking over my shoulder, convinced I was being pursued. When I finally got in I put The Silver Devil in first gear and got the eff out of there as fast as I could.

Of course I told my story to everyone I knew, and eventually to a buddy of mine from the Monongah area. He laughed and told me that the guy had indeed once been a very respected dentist in the area, but had begun losing some of his faculties in recent years. My friend always was prone to understatement.

I haven't been to Monongah since.

So that's my crazy dentist story. Want to learn a little more about Colloidal Silver? Then, by all means, check out this video, which the Dalai Mama pointed out the other day.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Music

It's Friday. I need music.

You post your favorite Christmas tunes, the DM and I will listen on Sunday night. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I love my job, but sometimes it get particularly gnarly. Now is one of those times! Which is too bad, because I really want to talk about my visit to the crazy dentist. I will get to this post soon, though.

Oh, and I think I'm going to do a Christmas theme on Friday Music this week. The DM and I will most likely listen to them together on Sunday, so it seems appropriate.

Game on.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Friday Music

It's Friday. I need music.

I have an early group Christmas present for everyone.

Unwrap your gift.

Did you get me anything? You did? I love the link wrapping paper!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

Gift Envy

Remember when you were a kid and somebody else got a gift for Christmas that you wish you had gotten? I'm experiencing the same feeling tonight. My pal Josh Williams has receiving an amazing early Christmas present from Helen Mansfield, and I'm coveting. Oh, I'm coveting.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Friday Music

It's Friday. I need music.

I think I'll start this week's music post off with a little playlist of my own. Feel free to check this stuff out and post your thoughts.

"Brand New Key" -- Melanie Safka
I heard this song on an oldies station tonight and really liked it.

"Movin' Out" -- Billy Joel
Live from a BBC session in '78. Nice.

"Hyberballad" -- Bjork
The Queen of the World.

"Watching Xanadu" -- Mull Historical Society
One of my favorite musicians, but nobody here in the States knows him.

"Paranoia in B Flat Major" -- The Avett Brothers
I'm semi-obsessed with this band right now. I love these guys' voices.

"Dirt" -- Nine Inch Nails
I was just in the mood for it.

"Sari" -- Nelly McKay
This girl is out of control. I like. Ever hear anything quite like this?

What's next? I love links.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Rudolph the Red-Headed Step-Child

Don't you just love the stop-motion Christmas classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? I know you've seen it dozens of times. Originally aired in 1964, it's the longest running TV special with regard to consecutive years. That's pretty impressive.

I always get a kick out of breaking down the plot of this much-loved special. Let's give it a try.

Rudolph, a young reindeer who simply wants to belong, finds himself with a physical trait that makes him different from the others. This shames his father, Donner, who insists Rudolph try to hide his shiny nose. (I liken this to a father insisting his little-person child wear heightening shoes. He should be flogged with a giant candy cane.) After Rudolph's disguise comes apart in public, and despite his impressive, passion-inspired virgin flight, all of the other reindeer (with the exception of the sweet Clarice) give him hell and make him feel worse than his his no-good, sell-out father made him feel. Then, perhaps the biggest villain of the movie, Santa the Bigot, a man whose entire business is built upon the apparently bogus idea of rewarding the just, lays into Donner, declaring, "You should be ashamed of yourself!" And he means because his boy has a shiny nose, folks, not because of the atrocious way he reacted to that discovery.

Now let's think about Santa's slaves for a bit, the elves. (Note that the word elves is a mere a away from being a perfect anagram of slaves.) They all seem happy with their lots in life. All of them, that is, with the exception of Hermey the Misfit Elf. See, this poor chap wants to be a dentist. Is there any encouragement for his uncommon drive? Of course not. Even his offers of free dental care are rewarded with ridicule, and he's driven away.

So it's natural that the two societal rejects meet up and form a bond that causes them to go in search of "fame and fortune." What they're really looking for is acceptance and opportunity, of course, but their sheltered naivety is unsure how to define their drive. Along the way they meet up with severely inclement weather, a seemingly greedy but helpful prospector named Yukon Cornelius, and a misunderstood yeti that man has tagged as "abominable," imposing a role upon him that manifests in exactly that type of behavior. The three new friends stick close to each other as they battle beast and nature in pursuit of their dreams.

Let's hop over quickly to the Island of Misfit toys, an internment camp where unwanted toys are sent as victims of a consumer society growing out of control. What a brilliant concept to include in a Christmas special, and in 1964 it was downright prophetic.

Meanwhile, back at the North Pole, ol' Santa the Bigot is starting to realize that he's gotten himself into a bit of a pickle. He sets up shop in the most rugged tundra the earth has to offer and finds himself surprised to encounter -- gasp! -- a bad snowstorm on Christmas Eve! What a shock. What's he going to do?

You all know how the story ends. The yeti gets knocked out, Hermey converts him to the good side by extracting his teeth (the Wikipedia entry makes it seem like this somehow tamed him, perhaps through submission, but I always thought he had toothaches that were making him particularly grumpy and, like the lion with the thorn in his paw, he repaid a good deed with proper gratitude), we find out that Cornelius was really just prospecting for peppermint and not gold or silver(at least in the original version), the whole crew makes it back to the North Pole, and when Santa the Bigot realizes that Rudolph actually has something to offer him, well then it's all just freaking dandy! Rudolph is the best! We all love Rudolph! Attaboy Rudolph!

But Santa at least saved the Misfit Toys, you say? Sure he did. In the revised version that was created after consumer complaint.

Hypocrites, the lot of them!

... Then how the reindeer loved him
as they shouted out with glee
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
They're full of hypocrisy
How would a kid who has an "abnormal" feature or condition feel about this show? Hopefully they'd feel redemption at the end, as the "misfits" clearly rise above the rest in this cautionary tale, but if I was an albino child, or if I had a particularly large nose, or a visible birthmark on my face, or anything else that's sure to keep me off the cover of Mademoiselle or GQ, I think I'd tell my mom that I don't want that red-suited bastard and his army of demon deer to come anywhere near my house. I'd be lighting a fire under the chimney and booby-trapping the hell out of my Christmas tree. Of course all of this work would be done in vain, because I'd know Santa isn't coming anyway. The bastard doesn't give a crap about how nice I've been all year when I'm running a cowlick this.

Monday, December 3, 2007