August 12th, 2005

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Death: Eh, it could be worse

Wednesday I went to see my doctor and he asked me to go on a liquid diet. Some of you may think of a liquid diet as a wonderful thing consisting of unlimited strawberry milkshakes and what can only be described as a fuck load of scotch. You would be wrong. In fact a liquid diet is more akin to an 18 hour hangover punctuated by the temporary release of fitful sleep and, eventually, death. Oh death, sweet death, I'm ready to take you to the prom now. Pick me up at 8 and wear that cute little black number, oh yeah, you know what I like.

The liquid diet shakes claim on their packaging to be delicious. And perhaps they would be, if they didn't taste so much like protein flavored mud. Oh the package says chocolate, but if anyone actually thinks this stuff is "chocolaty" then they have clearly been eating their chocolate after some other creature has digested it. This is what your chocolate would taste like if Drew Carey ate it first.

"Five filling shakes" is what the plan consists of. And the shakes are, indeed, filling. They are filling in the way that mud is filling, because your body has no hope of digesting them. They are filling because after tasting one you learn to fear hunger, to fear the impetus that would bring you back to the kitchen to acquire another vile concoction. A recently published paper claims that researchers can teach you to hate strawberry ice cream, but there is no teaching required for these noxious cocktails. You hate them because they are completely worthy of your hate.

It is at moments like those, when downing a second shit shake, that us fat people truly feel sorry for ourselves. Because our addiction is like no other. The alcoholic isn't required to suck down a 6-pack of near-beer every day just to give him a vague reminder of what the real stuff is like. Heroin addicts get methadone, but that's part of a transition away from heroin altogether. Nobody tells them "Here, take this shit for 6 months and then you'll be ready to start injecting the real stuff once more!"

The food addict is trapped by biology and those around him. He is trapped inside a too-big body that craves too much of a good thing. He is trapped by industries that constantly induce him to take his money and process it into artery filler. People blame fat people for even setting foot inside McDonald's, but what about McDonald's constant never-ending attempts to draw them through the golden arches. I would have sympathy for a sex addict forced to live in a strip club or a pot-addict whose job sent him to Jamaica.

So is there a solution? Yes. Slow, careful psychological change. Repeated exposure to filling nutritious low-calorie foods until they become desirable. Fresh vibrant vegetables that have some real taste to them rather than the soggy sorry browning crud that finds itself into most supermarkets.

Permanent weight loss is achieved through a sort of enlightenment. A transcendence of the sugary fatty cult that has stricken this country and a constant consciousness that a skinless chicken breast can be more than a match for a big mac if it's cooked with the right blend of spices and care.

Salvation isn't found in a glass of shit-flavored mud. My doctor even admitted that most people who lose weight that way gain it all back later, unequipped as they are to deal with a world where they can put actual things in their mouths. I tried it for a day, I was miserable though not hungry, and now I'm done. I'll keep the shakes around as a reminder of what can happen if I get off track with real dieting, and perhaps something to do from time to time when I want to shrink my stomach (that's something it does pretty darned well.) The quick fixes are just ways of ducking the issue. I'll leave that for the Republicans.
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V for Very Close

Among comic book fans V for Vendetta is considered a seminal work. It is a literary comic in the strictest sense of the word, playing out like a Victorian novel with a great number of rich allusions to masterful writers of the past. The story is both serious and complete, with the concrete ending that so many serials elude in pursuit of continued revenue streams. The art is excellent, distinctly of the comic world but with nods to realism and at times almost painterly. The plot could not be more relevant in our day and age, a lone terrorist wages a long war against a totalitarian government in pursuit of freedom. It is not a coincidence that a movie version will soon be released.

I went into V with high interest, if not expectations. It's not that I expected it to be bad, but for some reason it had never struck me as something I particularly wanted to read. The subject matter appealed to me, but in an intellectual rather than visceral way. Likewise I appreciate the art, but I don't think I like it. Something about the expressions on the faces rubs me the wrong way.

In the end I came away from V impressed with the ideas and style of the thing while not particularly liking it. There were too many odd plot holes, the characters lacked organic motivations, instead doing what was required of them to advance the story. The ending was hyperbolic and in many ways silly, with plenty of threads left untied and many tied too neatly. In the end the political aspect is pushed aside to make way for style, and it lacks the coherence and depth required of a masterpiece. Instead it feels immature, not in a comic book fascination with muscles and boobs and explosions way, but in the way of a young master-to-be not yet fully in charge of all his faculties. It is the sort of thing young artists in all media do right before they hit their prime and begin to create the things that really matter.

Is V. worth reading? Yes, especially in this day and age, but it is not an artistic masterpiece. It aims high, and comes close, but in the end its wings cannot sustain it and it falls like Icarus into the sea. Nice ride while it's up there though.