Saturday, January 08, 2022

Then I Ate Shit

The above picture was taken two years ago today, in 2020, & it might be taken as a metaphor for 2020.  After all, the year began pretty much promising normal - hell, it even looked like the president at the time, who is the physical manifestation of eating shit, might be reelected, meaning the years would continue to be the sort of anxious "good" we tried to live in.  Then that virus came along & we ate shit.

It's a strained metaphor, so I'll leave it there, but I will say I've never lived any place where more people expressed themselves by leaving messages - often well-drawn, thoughtful, colorful, artistic - on random light poles or sign poles.  I find that awesome.

Friday, January 07, 2022

Root Canal

(Let the nightmares begin.  From here.)

Yesterday I had a root canal.  It wasn't a big deal - I've had at least one before - I have terrible teeth.  The journey to the root canal was what sucked.

It began about four weeks ago with some sort of unusual pain in my upper right mouth.  I am a pretty zealous flosser, so I am used to sometimes irritating my gums unnecessarily.  But this was different.  When I had the chance to contact my dentist, I did.

Except.  I don't really have a dentist.  I have a corporation.  My insurance - chosen by my wife because it covers situations like what was about to happen the most inexpensively - ties me to a "dental group" instead of a particular dentist.  This means that, while I am "assigned" a dentist who visits me perfunctorily after my cleaning - & I sometimes think it's been more than one - I can't be sure, although I do know I have never had the same hygienist.  In fact, as I walk to my room I am shocked how much the office I visit resembles a kind of nameless, faceless office building, except instead of unhappy people behind desks in tiny rooms, it's unhappy people getting their teeth cleaned in tiny rooms.  Anyway, my dentist was unavailable.  In fact, no one was available until well into 2022.  But they did have an appointment available at a satellite location thirty miles away.

Can I just add by the way that my dentist - again, I'm not sure she's been my dentist the whole time we've been bound to this corporate feudal dentist system - decided that, against every non-corporate dentist's advice, I should get my teeth cleaned just once a year.  Surely what happened might have been predicted or even prevented had I had my teeth cleaned in October as I would have had, were I allowed to have my teeth cleaned twice a year, as, like I said, every dentist in the world not employed by a dental group would insist on.  Of course, my dentist (again, I barely know her) is probably encouraged not to allow such frivolities because it affects the corporation's bottom line.  Anyway.  Where was I?

Oh yeah, I visit the dentist thirty miles away who looks at my x-rays & shrugs & says, "I dunno.  Maybe you'll need a root canal?"  He says he'll refer my case to an endodontist.  I knew I should have been worried when he told me his name was Dr. Fife.  I should've asked if his grandfather had been a deputy sheriff in North Carolina.  When I mention that I am in some pain, he said I should look into a wonder drug called ibuprofen.  He is young & seems disinterested to the point of fecklessness.  I am sure I am one of seven hundred people he gave terrible dental advice to that day.

Needless to say, things did not improve over the next few days.  The pain became intolerable.  I found that I felt less pain if I were to simply stand up & walk around, & so - to bring this back to my dumb radio show - while I was working on the Self Help Radio Christmas show, I couldn't sit for longer than a few minutes before I had to wander around the kitchen so the pain would subside.  In the KBOO studios the night of the show, I walked most of the time I was on the air, sitting only to press play on the CD player or the speak into the microphone.

The Monday after my useless dentist visit, I checked in with my dental corporation to discover that my dentist (again, whoever she is) would not be in until Wednesday & she'd look over the referral then.  When I mentioned that I was in a great deal of pain, they said they'd fast track the referral - which led to an appointment on January 6, over two weeks from the day of the call - but they reiterated their belief in the healing powers of the great & mysterious drug ibuprofen.

My wife, used to my whining & mostly sick of it, suggested I contact my general practitioner.  So I wrote an email to her, & was contacted by OHSU folks immediately.  But before that, my wife had recommended that I begin to add to my ibuprofen taking (I did take it, despite it not helping much) the drug gabapentin.  But where would I get gabapentin, a drug that I assumed would need to be prescribed to me?  My wife had some leftover from her neck surgery from years back but I confess I also took some from my cat Bolan.  Yes, Bolan has been prescribed gabapentin for his anxiety.

By the time of my doctor's visit, where they helpfully checked to make sure whatever was causing the pain in my mouth wasn't an infection that was spreading elsewhere, I had been taking an ibuprofen & gabapentin combination that was masking the pain.  My doctor - or actually a PA, since my doctor was doubtless busy & scheduled for appointments well into 2022 - agreed with my wife & gave me more gabapentin & told me to keep doing what I was doing.  & the result was that I wasn't in a lot of pain but I could tell what the gabapentin was doing - it was masking the pain.  I could feel a kind of throb where the pain doubtless was.  It reminded me of stories in comic books where evil entities are trapped somehow in gems or behind magical barriers & threatening to return.  & I didn't want the pain to return.

Listen: it got really bad.  I foolishly, before the gabapentin, went down to Tualatin with my wife to pick up our dog Pauline who had to spent the night at an emergency vet's because of gastroenteritis (a whole other story).  I hadn't really considered what the effects of a car ride at highway speeds through different altitudes might be for one with pain in their tooth.  What I experienced was something like having a nail hammered repeatedly into my upper right jaw.  At one point the radiated pain was so great I felt my right eye might just pop out of its socket.  It may have been this experience - unhelpfully happening on a Saturday evening - which spurred me to seek any remedy imaginable, from the dentist if possible, from my doctor if necessary.

(Pauline is fine, by the way.)

The good news is, as I've said, the gaba/profen combination worked, & I have to tell you, I've enjoyed the gabapentin experience.  It has made me a bit drowsy, to be sure, but it makes it so much easier for me to fall asleep.  I often find it takes me an hour to finally trick my mind into letting me fall asleep; the past two weeks, my head has hit the pillow & I am out.  If I have to wake sooner than expected, though, I am mightily confused.  In one case, startled awake by a phone call, I wandered around the house looking for a person I must've been dreaming about.  In another, when I had been dozing on the couch, I was wholly unable to become completely awake & surrendered to sleep in the bedroom.

My wife had a bit of a hard time weaning herself from the drug; I know I will, too.

So yeah, I went to the dentist yesterday morning & discovered I did in fact need a root canal, although I'm sure Sheriff Dr. Barney Fife got lucky with that one.  I was also told by my gabby dental assistant that the endodontist specialized in root canals so I was probably going to get a root canal no matter what*.  I got the needles in the gums for the numbness (injecting novocaine into my soft palate, the gruff endodontist said, "This is probably the most unpleasant part of the whole experience" but he was wrong), I got a rubber block to hold my mouth open, & I closed my eyes & had a stranger do weird things to my teeth.  But I have to tell you:

The experience was a bit hallucinatory.  I blame the gabapentin.  I felt like I was halfway dozing through the whole thing, waking every time the dentist accidentally pinched my lip or asked me to open wide or other things I am not sure I really remember.  Keeping my eyes closed the entire time, I let my brain entertain me with sometimes baffling imagery, & I reiterate that I felt like I was straddling the line between waking & sleeping.  It didn't hurt that it was an upper right tooth so my head was almost aimed downward.  & I confess it wasn't entirely awful.  I had certainly felt a similar pain/pleasure dynamic in an acid trip or two.

In a couple of days I'll reduce the profen/gaba combo & return to normal.  My gums don't hurt anymore, although chatty dental assistant did tell me "Some people find the third day after the procedure the worst."  That seems weird.  I told her I'd stay on my drugs past that.

Above I did mention I'd had a root canal before.  I might have had more than one.  I don't recall.  It's been a long time.  But I can't imagine they were as psychedelic as this one.  I'm not even mad at dentist Barney Fife anymore.  Though I will say if you find yourself in the Portland area - like, I dunno, a town called Gresham - & your corporate insurance recommends a tooth doctor of that name, I recommend that you request a different one.  If there were a dentist Dr. Otis Campbell, or even a dentist Dr. Floyd The Barber, you should pick one of those over Dr. Fife.  You'll be glad you did.  What a fucking tool.

*He actually did explain to me why I needed the root canal.  The comment above is a tribute to my Mom, who hated dentists & believed they broke your teeth while cleaning them in order to fix them later.  She would've been happy to hear me say I was sent to a root canal specialist to get a root canal whether I needed one or not.

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Self Help Radio 010422: A Handsome Show

(My dog Winston is a handsome hound.)

It seemed appropriate for a show not known for its good looks to start the year with a handsome show.  Not fooling itself that a show about handsomeness would actually make the show itself handsome, in the same way an ugly person with a beautiful person isn't physically improved by the pairing, this week's show simply allows the handsome to be handsome.  & understands it will be never itself be so.

We have handsome guests among the handsome songs, & the usual nonsense with definitions & etymologies & what-not.  But it's handsome, you see, so it doesn't have to do much but stand there & be admired.  What a way to live!

You may listen to the show at both the show's page on the KBOO website & on the Self Help Radio website.  If you choose the latter, use SHR as a username & selfhelp as a password to access.  The songs & the interviews that happened are noted below.

You handsome devil.

Self Help Radio Handsome Show
"Handsome" Camouflage _Meanwhile_
"Handsome" Summer Peaks _Saturday_
"Handsome" The Vaccines _English Graffiti_

introduction & definitions - featuring the Definition-O-Tron 3000

"Brown Eyed Handsome Man" Chuck Berry _Johnny B. Goode (His Complete '50s Chess Recordings)_
"Big Bad Handsome Man" Imelda May _Love Tattoo_
"The Handsome Moose" Joan Gerber _The Story Lady_
"Handsome Johnny" Richie Havens _Woodstock - Three Days Of Peace & Music Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Collection_
"Handsome Devil" John Doe _Keeper_

interview with Richard Steel, the handsomest man in Portland

"Handsome Molly" Grayson & Whitter _The Rose Grew Round The Briar (Early American Rural Love Songs, Vol. 2)_
"Handsome Molly" Bill Morrissey _Standing Eight_
"Look At This Face (Oh My God They're Gorgeous)" Handsome Boy Modeling School _So... How's Your Girl?_
"Handsome Men" Girls With Knives _Handsome Men_
"Handsome Wife" Pillow Queens _In Waiting_

interview with handsome Hollywood actor Denver Smith

"Real Smooth Handsome Man" The Big However _Las Vegas Amusements_
"Handsome Boy" The Ladybirds _Philly Soul Girls_
"The Handsome Stranger" Jo Stafford _Her Greatest Hits Expertly Remastered_
"He's Tall, Dark, & Handsome" Julia Lee _The Chronological Julia Lee 1927-1946_
"Handsome Lover (feat. Ethel Mae)" Robert Nighthawk _The Robert Nighthawk Collection 1937-1952_

interview with Handsome Man Magazine founder & publisher Larry Snart

"Hollywood Handsome" Tuscadero _The Pink Album_
"Handsome Woman" Throwing Muses _Firepile E.P. (Part Two)_
"Handsome Boy" The Monochrome Set _Misère_
"Handsome Man" Barbara Pittman _Memphis Belles (The Women Of Sun Records)_
"Lies Of Handsome Men" Blossom Dearie _Blossom's Planet, Planet One_

a special surprise appearance by the very handsome Idris Elba Ned Dry

"Handsome Devil" The Smiths _Hatful Of Hollow_
"High Wide & Handsome" The Bible _Walking The Ghost Back Home_
"Stay Handsome" Love Dance _You Should Know Where I'm Standing_
"Handsome Drink" Aberdeen _Homesick & Happy To Be Here_
"The Handsome Cabin Boy" Kate Bush _This Woman's Work: Anthology 1978-1990_

a discussion of the etymology of the word "handsome"

"Handsome Boy (E Wara) (Parts 1 & 2)" The Rwenzori's _Africafunk: Return To The Original Sound Of 1970s Funky Africa_
"Ayal-Ayale (The Handsome Hero) (feat. Zemenaweet Zoe Gidamo)" The Idan Raichel Project _The Idan Raichel Project_
"Handsome & Boring" Museum Mouth _Alex I Am Nothing_
"Handsomest Man & Prettiest Girl (Live)" The Pursuit Of Happiness _Love Junk Deluxe_
"Handsome" Heart Shaped _Second Hand_
"Handsome Man" Sweet William _World Of Books_

conclusion & goodbye

"Handsome Babies" Say Hi _Um, Uh Oh_
"Handsome Hobo" By George _The Life Of Guy_
"Photoshop Handsome" Everything Everything _Man Alive_
"Handsome Man" The's _The's_
"Handsome Man" Wednesday _Twin Plagues_
"Handsome Man" Tereshkova _Bouquet Slush_

Monday, January 03, 2022

Whither A Handsome Show?

(We submit that this is a handsome chair.)

Just a quick note: it has come to our attention that some people think tonight's Self Help Radio is a hansom show.  It is not.  We have no plans for a show about any kind of carriage in the near future.  Our apologies to fans of that outmoded method of travel.

Yes, tonight's show celebrates handsomeness.  We have some handsome guests, including the publisher of Handsome Man magazine, & we will have songs about being handsome & other handsome things.

It's fair to ask, But Gary, you are a demonstrably un-handsome person in pretty much all the definitions of handsomeness.  To which I respond, that's not what my mother told me when I was in high school.  She told me I was a very handsome young man.  She was almost certainly lying, but that doesn't mean I didn't believe her.  I didn't, & that's all the explanation you're getting for tonight's program.

It's on midnight to 3am on 90.7 fm here in Portland, & online everywhere at  You don't not need to be handsome to listen to it, although I am told most KBOO listeners are extraordinarily handsome, & as such, that disclaimer was probably unnecessary.

We hope you tune in!

Sunday, January 02, 2022

Preface To A Handsome Show: Never Handsome

(It's come to this.  Image from here.)

The show tomorrow explores handsomeness & I have to say, I'm not a handsome man, so I cannot speak as an expert or even really as an admirer.  There are some handsome men I understand the allure of - George Clooney, Idris Elba, & Jon Hamm come to mind - but I also find some pretty awkward men a bit handsome - & I'd give you examples but I'm afraid you'd just me harshly.

& listen, the internet is fucking scary.  I thought I'd ask the Goggle machine, "Who is someone you think is handsome that most people don't" & it took me to this Quora page entitled "Are there any handsome guys who don't think they're handsome at all?" (not what I asked) which has this first terrifying response:

"Yes, but it commonly comes along with a whole HOST of shitty pysche problems. One of my Marine friends was devastatingly handsome. Like shit you not, fucking model like. That said, when he was a kid his dad whored him out to other men as a toy. Couldn’t handle it when people said he was attractive. He thought they were fucking with him. So we got drunk one night and I broke his nose. He refused treatment so it healed all weird. Every girl in my social circle hated me, but he was thrilled."

Can we go back to "his dad whored him out to other men as a toy"?  What a thing to say in what amounts to passing?  & also the got drunk/broke his nose thing is a bit confusing too.  I've been very drunk in my life & I've hardly broken anyone's nose.  Not a one in fact.  Not even mine!

Good new, there's a helpful coda, written by the same fellow:

Handsome/Beautiful is a title YOU place upon a person, strictly based on visual judgement. They might think of themselves in a completely contrary manner.

So yeah.  That's fine.  But his dad whored him out to other men as a toy?!?!

This is something I'll need to walk away from.