Allow me to start off today’s blog entry by clearing up a common misconception.  Today is NOT Sunday.

It would seem that my internet is down.  Again.  As a result, I am uploading tonight’s entry via my iPhone.  Also, I am very, very angry.

On the bright side, I have our April Book of the Month Club pick.  Thanks to whoever it was who suggested I look to this year’s Nebula nominees.  I did and put forth…

The Love We Share Without Knowing, by Christopher Barzak.

From the publisher: “In this haunting, richly woven novel of modern life in Japan, the author of the acclaimed debut One for Sorrow explores the ties that bind humanity across the deepest divides. Here is a Murakamiesque jewel box of intertwined narratives in which the lives of several strangers are gently linked through love, loss, and fate.

On a train filled with quietly sleeping passengers, a young man’s life is forever altered when he is miraculously seen by a blind man. In a quiet town an American teacher who has lost her Japanese lover to death begins to lose her own self. On a remote road amid fallow rice fields, four young friends carefully take their own lives—and in that moment they become almost as one. In a small village a disaffected American teenager stranded in a strange land discovers compassion after an encounter with an enigmatic red fox, and in Tokyo a girl named Love learns the deepest lessons about its true meaning from a coma patient lost in dreams of an affair gone wrong.

From the neon colors of Tokyo, with its game centers and karaoke bars, to the bamboo groves and hidden shrines of the countryside, these souls and others mingle, revealing a profound tale of connection—uncovering the love we share without knowing.

Exquisitely perceptive and deeply affecting, Barzak’s artful storytelling deftly illuminates the inner lives of those attempting to find—or lose—themselves in an often incomprehensible world.”

From Library Journal: “In this follow-up to his notable debut, One for Sorrow, Barzak offers an otherworldly novel made up of linked short stories set in contemporary Japan. Barzak’s varied players spin their stories of love, grief, and growing up in first-person narratives that artfully collide with each other to stunning emotional effect. In one narrative thread, a teenage boy lost in Tokyo is led home by an ethereal girl in a fox costume; he later discovers she is dead. The childhood best friend of the fox girl is a casualty of her planned group suicide, but not in the way she anticipates. The author finds rich territory in situating his characters in places steeped in personal loss and letting them fumble toward acceptance of their own frailties.”

Discussion the week of April 12th with author Christopher Barzak.

You all have scant days to finish up Boneshaker.  The book discussion begins on Monday, and this week I’ll be making a personal visit to each of your homes to ensure your participation.

As we speak (if you’re given to reading these blog entries aloud like I do as I write them) Akemi is Perth-bound.  She’ll be there for the next six weeks, so if any of you affable Aussies happen to cross paths with her, do be nice.

But not too nice!

I did a little more cooking today preparing braised free-range veal cheeks with pumpkin polenta.  It turned out great although, in retrospect, I doubt I’d want to invest the 5+ hours required again.

Season and sear the cheeks. Cook diced beets, onions, garlic, thyme, and sweet potatoes until translucent. Add port and madeira. Reduce. Add veal stock. Reduce. Add tomato past and water. Put in a large pot or dutch oven and roast at 275 degrees for 4-5 hours.
4-5 hours?! Screw that! I'll take the damn dog food!
Sweat garlic, onions, thyme, and sage. Add cream and chicken stock. Simmer. Add polenta. Simmer. Add pumpkin puree. Season and serve.

It all went according to plan, except for one harrowing instant wherein I averted a certain disaster involving the gas stove and an errant paper towel.  In the briefest of flashes, I envisioned my buddy Carl delivering my eulogy: “Joe died doing what he loved best…running screaming across his backyard as his body was engulfed in flames.”

Hey, all.  Given your successful diagnoses of my last three mystery medical conditions (fatigue, delusions of grandeur, and grabbing that cast iron handle without an oven mitt) I submit my latest baffling affliction.  The symptoms: for the past three days, sometime after 6:30 p.m., the back of my ears get really itchy.  Give it to me straight fledgling physicians and medical drama enthusiasts.  Is it really bad?  Are my days numbered?  Or is it that new Lush shampoo I’ve been using?

51 thoughts on “February 27, 2010: April’s Book of the Month Club Pick! Still cookin’! And Mystery Medical Diagnosis – Round Four!

  1. Darn it I asked for a recipe now I don’t remember and have to go back through your blogs again… Anyway, yeah my bet is the shampoo but spray some benedryl on it and if that doesn’t do it.. well I COULD be a Voodoo doll at work I guess.

  2. I thought you couldn’t put tomato sauce in cast iron. You have a great pan for cornbread.

    Veel cheeks – you’re making that term up, thought we’d just let it slip by, huh? No, I didn’t google it first – it’s funnier as a vaguely ignorant accusation from a non-foodie.

    A friend’s son recently had the affliction you mentioned. I think it was cradle cap trapping yeast behind his ears. You’re not a newborn, are you? If so, try baby powder and a smidgen of tea tree oil, no soap for a long while.

    Otherwise, you may just need to cut back on the soapy baths in winter — too drying.

  3. Have you checked for fleas? If it is not fleas, then I’m pretty sure someone is talking about you. Maybe Akemi is calling a friend or family member everyday lately after 6:30 and telling them all about you. When people talk about you, it makes your ears burn or itch. (When your nose itches, it means your fix’in to have company.)

  4. I can honestly say I’ve never heard of a deadly disease with itchy ears as a symptom. And while I don’t watch House, I do enough reading to have come across many exotic, painful, and even humiliating ways in which a disease can bring a human down. So, I go for psychosomatic issues. I leave it to you to discuss with the dogs what the problem is.
    Have you tried 13 Rabbit from Lush? If not, go out and try some. If you have, how did you like it? I was hooked on Sonic Death Monkey,which alas has joined the discontinued line of products.
    Thanks for the April pick. Im heading up to pick up my latest batch of books and will make sure to order it then, along with a half dozen or so books recommended by folks here over the last few days.
    Thanks for going to the hassle of posting via iPhone. Your admiring public is duly grateful, and will happily picket your server. As if you need help in skewering them. But crazed sci fi fans are the most scary of fandom, it seems to me. Shirtless in -39C weather? normal to most folks, if done cheering a football team. Dressing up like a Klingon or a ST-TOS yeoman? obviously a sign of mental instability. At least it keeps my friends and coworkers eager to stay on my good side…I digress. Thanks again and looking forward to seeing how your internet access issues play out.

  5. My wife was walking by while I was reading your blog and she said “It looks like his dog pooped on his polenta”. I sure hope it tasted better than it looked. 😉 (Could have something to do with the picture of one of your dogs in the mix)

  6. Hi Joe:

    House would say your itchy ears are Lupus. Personally, I think you have contracted one of those outer space ailments that Rodney McKay was always afraid of getting. Then again, with SGU encountering all those weird things…


  7. Are you ingesting or handling any food [human or canine] or medication or chemicals within a 3 hour period of said symptoms that are different from a week ago? Using any new laundry detergent [those origami towels could be suspect], time-release air freshners [totally useless products!], a new cologne/aftershave…?

    If yes, then stop doing so for a couple of days and note if the condition has changed.

    If multiple items are involved, then weed them out one at a time. This could take a while. Also be aware that a combination of things could be the problem. Alone, they may be fine, but together at once, or even within a certain time frame, can result in a reaction.

    Also, watch for any change with the dogs… If it’s something topical, they may have a reaction as well.

    However, if it still persists, have Ashleigh check for ticks, fleas, or lice. 😀 After all you were mingling amongst the masses of Downtown, weren’t you? Not to mention those costume ridden LUSH people…

  8. Sunburned ears…mine get itchy when they are sunburned and healing. All that walking around with Akemi must of done it!

    Are you a Top Chef/Top Chef Masters Fan Joe? If so…we must dish…get it? Dish? ahaha. I’m awesome!

    Real question though…where does the sound department come up with all the sweet alarms we hear on the show from time to time. I was just watching SG:A Midway last night and was loving the self-destruct alarm. Would love to have that on my on-call phone for when one of my talented and timely RAs calls to wake me up at 4 in the morning.

    Holler back!

  9. My last cat (George) had itchy ears – check for ear mites. He also had chlamydia and herpes (in his gums), half a tail, was blind (at the end of his life), senile and grumpy. 😀

    Do you have all the symptoms? If not I have no idea what is wrong.

    Has anybody tried administering an asthma inhaler (with the help of an Aerokat!?) to a cat? I tried but it must be a three person job. I’m needing hints on how to catch him and treat him twice a day for the next 10+ years. 😉 😈

    It’s freezing here and I am off to turf the kitties off my our bed.


  10. First of all … it really is Sunday. Well, it is here, anyway. Secondly, judging by my own past experience, I’d say it’s the shampoo. Vidal Sassoon’s shampoo used to make me scratch my ears raw. Try washing with something else – should clear up straight away.

  11. Hey Joe,

    Itching ears…did you get a sunburn there you don’t remember. I seem to remember you talking about several walks out when the weather was actually nice. Sunburns itch after a couple of days.

    Your phone, my hat is off to you. I can barely load and type on my laptop. I would stress over the entire thing. I do the one finger type thing. Plus I assume you have the “predictive” text off. Oh my the things you say without meaning too.

    Are the pups giving you extra love or are they pouting?

    Best to you Joe,
    Cheryl 🙂

  12. It’ll be Sunday in 34 minutes where I live.

    OMG, not again. You really need to not get hurt again. Was the Lush shampoo a joke? I’ve only seen the bombs. So yes, if there is a shampoo, it’s probably drying your skin out. Ears are sensitive! Have you seen an ear bleed? Ick. Switch back to what you were using before and see if it’s going away. If not, then who knows. I like using Aveeno lotion for the dry skin thing.

  13. wow! you can cook too! nice 8)
    didn’t blog yesterday, was out of inspiration. Don’t have much more today but felt like forcing myself a bit. It’s getting warmer in MTL. It’s about 1 C here. We got a bit of snow this week, and rain today 😳 my inspiration disappeared again. Guess I’ll have to wait and hope it comes back tomorrow!!! 😀

  14. Heya Joe,
    IF the only change in your routine has been shampoo, that could be it. If you changed soap (bar, gel, other), that is another possibility. Even a mild “over exposure” to the sun meaning not full fledged sunburn, but an “almost” burn could result in your symptoms.

    – stop using that shampoo or soap.
    – get some over the counter hydro cortisone and apply
    – even noxema cream would help

    – and, over the counter Claritin tabs

    In my non-professional medical opinion, sounds like allergy.

    If eliminating the products does not help, please do see a dermatologist and/or allergy specialist. Horror or horrors, I hope you have not become allergic to the puppies.

    Hope you discover the cause of the discomfort.

  15. Coucou Joseph!!

    ça va bien? moi oui, je suis au ange, cette nuit j’ai rêvé de vous ♥ alalaa j’était sur un petit nuage 🙂

    Oh vous avez encore un probléme avec votre internet O_O moi je suis contente car cette nuit ma connéxion a survécue à des vents allent jusqu’a 140 km/H c’est juste un miracle 🙂

    Je suis sûre que vous cuisinez très bien 🙂 …c’est rare de voir un homme qui cuisine, vous êtes une pérle ^^!

    Bonne journée!
    Gros bisou!

  16. Itchy ears? I get those from taking niacin. But your cholesterol is normal, isn’t it?

    I’d go with that whole voodoo doll theory, then.

  17. The food looks great! I try to stick to free range foods myself. It makes me feel less guilty. I’ve seen how food animals are treated.

    I’m glad you weren’t on fire, too. 😀

    Do you have a rash? Hubby gets eczema behind his ears (in the folds). His eczema looks like a white film. There are antifungal creams for eczema but hubby’s prescription cream works wonders.

    If it’s allergy, try cortisone cream. If it’s fungal, the cortisone will make the fungus flourish. So if the cortisone cream makes the itching worse, it’s a big clue. Then you can guess it’s probably fungal and change to an antifungal cream.

    If you are allergic to the shampoo, you would get a rash wherever the shampoo touches your skin (per my dermatologist).

  18. @susan the tartan turtle – try putting a little bit of tuna in the inhaler…


  19. Que ce que j’apprend là O_o !!!!

    Vous dites à votre soeur d’aller voir sur votre blog pour avoir des nouvelles de vous!!! Non mais c’est pas digne d’un grand frére ça!! Vous allez me faire le plaisir de l’appeller et que sa saute!! … 😉

    ….et puis d’abord moi je suis sûre que vous êtes amoureux d’Akemi !!

    bon ok je sort ==> lol -_-‘

    gniiiii XD

  20. Hi Mr M!

    Just catching up on the blog. I always get that sinking feeling when you get all wistful re: L.A.S.Y. The more pressing question is not what’s gonna happen to you….but rather us? Where will we go?where will we go to be entertained for snark/food reviews/Tokyo trips/odd Internet toys/dog pics etc?

    Also, it’s July for the Anthology launch right featuring your story…Lou was kind enough to twitter back to me re: same.

    Are you having a launch party? *hint hint hint hint*

    Updates on the Comic btw?

    best to all



  21. Ears are a burnin’ ? Someone’s talking about you!! That’s my medical diagnosis.

    Or it could be that nassy Lush shampoo.. probably too much SLS in it.

    I agree , who pooped on the polenta? Who/what ever did was kind enough to garnish with a sprig of thyme.

    How thoughtful.

    (that pork however looked lush -scuse the badly put deliberate lame arsed pun)

  22. First Joe, change shampoos to Suave. Then use some Aveeno oatmeal based moisturizing lotion in back of your ears, no, don’t stick it inside.

    I agree, you may be having an allergic reaction as Ganymede mentioned, but it’s odd that the discomfort confines itself to starting after 6:30pm.

    Check for yeast inside your ears: gunky, dark, smelly stuff. My male cat had a recent bout with this which proved very stubborn to rid.

    I can only use non-perfumed laundry detergent and paper products myself. And don’t believe everything labeled hypo-allergenic, some are clearly not.

    And I would not discount das and her voodoo doll… seriously… 😯

    @ susan the tartan turtle sorry, never used an inhaler on a cat, but I applaud your courageous efforts. (I can only imagine the tough task). I can give tips on administering pills and insulin injections. 😉 Hang in there!

    2cats in New Jersey,
    …watching the epic snow slowly melt, not unlike the scene in the Wizard of Oz with the Wicked Witch of the West.

  23. So, Joey…seems your ear problem is either due to…

    My voodoo dolly… heh-heh-heh… 😈 …fleas, Lupus, frilly-fru-fru shampoo…or some sort infection/infestation only cats get.

    Take yer pick! 😀


  24. Hey Joe.

    Should there be a concern about MGM going under? I heard they had to March 15 to pay back creditors and whatnot, but likely cannot.

    What does this mean for the future of Stargate?



  25. It could be possible that you’re not rinsing your ears thoroughly after a shampoo. Or not. What are you washing your sheets in? Have the dogs been sleeping on your pillows?

  26. Joe,

    I have a vivid (and occasionally really twisted) imagination, so my doctor has to keep reminding me to go with the most simple and boring reasons for symptoms first. In other words, real life is rarely like an episode of House. 🙂

    Go with the scientific method! I’d start by switching out the shampoo for a few days.

  27. Lush shampoo? Is it one of those round cakes that looks like a bar of soap and is stored in a handy dandy tin? Those are fabulous!

  28. Yep, Voodoo doll. Das calls the shots now.

    Stargate Universe will now go in a new and interesting direction, with the other seeder ship being crewed by hungry Wraith.

    Hmm. This is gonna be fun. :), thanks Das!

  29. my guess is the shampoo, hopefuly it’s not a fungal thing.

    all these people saying lupus, i thought it was “never lupus” on house? i don’t know i don’t watch that

  30. Speaking of itchy ears… My ears get itchy if I scratch my leg. Likewise, if I scratch my ears (or face, for that matter), my legs get itchy. It’s nasty.

  31. Oh! Completely different topic, sorry — who here said they were watching Survivors? I know at least one person did. I just caught up on the last two episodes and WOW. That’s definitely going on the DVR rotation. Smartly written, good bit of action and drama. But I am especially taken with how human the characters are. The scene where Abby sobs hysterically when a gun is pointed at her comes to mind.

    Anyhow, all right, just had to rave about the show a little. Don’t mind me. 🙂

  32. Lush stuff is so perfumy I’d be surprised if you didn’t have an allergy of some sort. A little cortisone cream will help. And switch to gentler products. Just, you know, a mom here, speaking from experience.

    As for the polenta, man that sounds good! Think I’ll make some tonight. Thanks for the inspiration.

  33. Hi Joe,

    Our Mum said that you were having a problem with very itchy behind your ears and she thought we might be able to help.

    I have pointy ears and Ralph has floppy ears so we have different advice. But Ralph just says to scratch it until it goes away but I think you would know that if you have long claws this can make the situation worse so I don’t know about following his advice. And he makes a funny face when he’s trying to scratch a spot he can’t quite reach.

    Have you been rolling in the grass lately? Even though I have a thick coat, sometimes I get itchy if I do lots of rolling around. And there’s nothing worse than when you get that itch you can’t work out if it’s in your ear or in your throat so you scratch your ear really hard while making funny noises with your throat trying to make the itch stop. If it’s been windy and dusty sometimes that can make things itch too. Have your Mum check the inside of your ears to make sure they’re ok. If it persists, make sure you go to the vet.

    We hope we have helped in some way. Mum thinks it’s more likely das and her voodoo doll though.

    Jack and Ralph.

  34. @ deeinsouthafrica – Wraith on a seeder ship??! Well THAT would be a beautiful thing! Just not sure how I can get this voodoo doll to do that…I mean, what part do I stick, twist, pinch, or set on fire to elicit that response from Mallozzi??

    Hmmmm….. *rubs chin thoughtfully…lights match…FrrrroooOOOOSSSH!*

    Whoopsies!! I think I just gave Joey a wicked mean case of jock itch. 😛



  35. just heard on the radio that the canadian male hockey team beat the US team 2-1. 😀
    …that made me reflect on something. If Carl is not Canadian, does that mean he is American ??

  36. Actually, the Canadians beat the US in sudden-death overtime 3-2 after the US tied things up 2-2 with only 24 seconds left in regulation play. Great game! Well played by both sides. Congratulations, Canada!

  37. the ear itch, may help to pour some of the original(brownish)Listerine on it, if open it might burn a bit, but good for washing head stuff.. that ‘s all I can think of and maybe watch out for Das’s doll… 😆

  38. Congratulations. To the Canadian hockey team and the wonderful nation they represent. It was a fun game to watch.

    Too bad our team lost.

    Here’s to your team,
    may your gold gleam.
    For Sochi may bring
    another song to sing.


  39. Bad internet? That sucks sorry to hear, I’ve had problems with mine over the past week, pretty much when you pay enough for something you expect it to work.

    Strangely enough only once has an oven mitt not worked for me, basically picking something out that happened to be hotter than the fires of hell for some reason, needless to say cold water was in order.

  40. I’ve heard of noses itching (company coming) and palms itching (money coming), but itchy ears? Sure you don’t have wind- or sun-burn?

  41. Sorry for the redundant comment above. Got lazy, didn’t read the previous 47 posts.

    Enjoying the first “new” novel I’ve read in years: THE BOURNE IDENTITY by Ludlum. Have been avoiding the film on TV until I could get into the book. Had almost forgotten the joy of reading something long and detailed.

  42. Ooh a medical mystery…I love it…..First can I say its never Lupus….except for that one time when it was.

    Does this coincide with Akemi’s departure? Hmmm…..OK, now its interesting that this symptom occurs at the same time every evening. Now I’ll need you to write down all food injested and shampoos and lotions applied in the last 4 days. Are you having baths with those bath bombs? Without being too personal, what did Akemi give you as a thank-you present?

    Nice to hear she’s heading to Australia. Perth’s a bit far for me to go and greet her at the airport and give her a lift to the hotel. Sorry. But I will put the word out for some nice weather.

    Cheers, Chev

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