Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

25 Apr 2001, 9:33 a.m.

Do I look fat in this font?

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2001 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Media experiences I've had today:

  • Bellwether, an un-put-downable book by Connie Willis. I really couldn't stop once I'd started. Sure, the contrived frustrations (as usual with Willis) get annoying, but it was worth it anyway.
  • Sullivan's Travels, a hilarious 1939 film written & directed by Preston Sturges. I watched it for my 1939 Through Films class, and loved it. Much better than The Philadelphia Story. Still looking for the Gulliver's Travels references, though.

In today's journal, brainwane teaches, sees a whore, buys a bookmark, and cannot cure herself of a meme.

Ever since I started hanging out with Leonard, a certain meme has infested me as slowly and surely as syphilis. It's ""Tonight's Episode," the only slightly nonsensical title at the top of Leonard's main webpage. Go ahead, look at it. I dare you.

It's as Neal Stephenson's herpes virus of irony (which infects anyone who lives in California for too long, as posited in Cryptonomicon). I keep coming up with new ones, writing down the good and discarding the bad. It's more distracting than a half-read Orson Scott Card novel. I see parking signs and transmute them into sleazy slogans of corrupted corpses. What a life.

Today in my DE-Cal class, I tried to talk a bit about religion, jumping off with The Matrix. While referring to Neal Stephenson's In The Beginning Was The Command Line, I made a rather inelegant analogy of HIV destroying defenses sneakily to the relativism of the American monoculture, and its disabling of righteousness defenses in other cultures. It's still rather muddled in my head.

I saw a prostitute! I have been told (passive voice intended) that the "massage parlor" next to King Dong (a Chinese restaurant) on Shattuck, between Haste and Channing, is a brothel. And today I was walking home from school when I saw a woman near the place.

[Channelling Raymond Chandler] She was white, thirty and trying not to look so. She had "blond" hair that had seen more chemicals than Erin Brockovich. Come to think of it, she looked kind of like Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich -- not the face, not the pretty lighting, just the clothes. Heels that made her almost seem dainty -- her feet, anyway. And her short pink dress seemed like something Whore Barbie would wear.

She was running, I think -- if you can call anything a woman can do in those heels "running" -- out of the "Massage Parlor" (with the neon sign from ancient times, neverlit), a keyring dangling from her upraised hands. She passed them through the window to a fella sitting in the driver's seat of an SUV. Then she went back in. I caught a glimpse of a dingy, dungy office-looking room just inside the door. I didn't have to wait for the door to close to know that the sign on it simply reads, "Ring bell for service."

It was the first time I'd ever seen a woman and had quite a bit of certainty that she was a sex worker.

My class informed me, later, of the nuanced layers, the levels of degradation, implied by the words "whore," "slut," "skank," "ho," and "slattern." I should have asked about "scarlet woman." Or rather, "pink lady."

I bought a bookmark. It was hidden in the folds of a book at the church thrift sale. It's white paper, with sort of lacily perforated edges and a colored emblem of sort of a Santa Claus in the middle, decorated with red characters, Japanese or Chinese, I don't know which. I didn't buy the book, which may have been Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee. I really should read some Pinter and Albee some time. Get in that black-turtleneck-cappucino vibe.

Later, y'all. It's The West Wing and Gogol for me! Tonight, tonight...

Poll: Better alliteration

  • sleazy slogans
  • corrupted corpses

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at