brothercyst: hair, teeth, Juked

Thursday, March 30, 2006

hair, teeth, Juked

Here's a story in Juked. It's the story from which this site takes its name.

Last night I saw a reading on Avenue B. Eric Gelsinger was there with me. Jami Attenberg read; she was good. Who else - uh, Karen Russell read a story about werewolves that I liked.

I have stopped eating mammals. I think of how appropriate their flesh looks when still attached to their bones, and I feel less inclined to eat them.

Birds aren't mammals.


Gelsinger said...

Mammals are apostates of velour. Eat them, but delicately.

NickAntosca said...

Pigs are apostates of nothing, and they are the only mammal I might still have to sample sometimes, because bacon is so delicious.

Gelsinger said...

Pigs are smart and related to whales.

Don't eat them.

I love bacon.

Gelsinger said...

Cows are dumb.

Devour them.

NickAntosca said...

Cows look like big mongoloid dogs. I don't want to eat them. Pigs are smart, I know, but bacon is so fucking delicious.

Mostly I'll stick with my creatures of the sea plus the occasional duck.

Richard said...

Good story, Nick.

It is so weird to find a teratoma inside your body. It actually happened to me. You wonder how you overpowered your twin in the womb like that.

NickAntosca said...

Thanks, Richard. Tao gave me your book, the With Hitler in New York collection. I really liked it. I liked the story about Ordinary Man, in particular. I would like to write more detailed things about how I felt about it (and maybe I will later) but I am at work, supposedly preparing for a meeting, and I don't have the book with me here. A surgeon wrote to me and told me that the cause of a teratoma is actually in dispute - the source of the teeth and hair may not actually have been a fetal resorption. (Some teratomas have been found in the pineal gland, where resorption wouldn't be possible anyway.) If resorption is not the cause, though, it's not clear to me what the other possibilities are(yet - I have asked him). If you remember what your doctor said, tell me.

When my adult teeth came in, there were lots of loose shards of bone/tooth in my gums that just sort of worked their way out. My family has weird teeth.

Richard said...

Thanks so much, Nick. It was a really long time ago. I published a story about it, maybe like in 1977, in an Alaskan litmag called Harpoon, and I lost my copy a long time ago.

The doctor gave me the reabsorbed twin story. He said it happens all the time. And then he said we have strange things all over our bodies. He pointed to a little mark, kind of a bit of darker skin, just under my chest and said it was a vestigal extra nipple, like the kind animals have going down their torsos. I had an operation in fourth grade to take a bone out of my gums. I haven't thought about that in twenty years.

Ian said...

Teratomas are tumors consisting of all three germ layers (i.e. endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm). Each of these germ layers, because of its initial immaturity, has some degree of pluripotency and hence can develop into such structures as hair, teeth, bone, etc.

In fact teratomas exist along a spectrum of maturity, with immature forms having primitive elements of teeth rather than mature teeth, as well perhaps cartilage rather than bone. Mature teratomas frequently present with the fully differentiated and (aptly) mature tissues in question.

Anyways it's because of the presence of these germ cells in the tumor that teeth and bone can form, without requiring the initial resorbtion of a twin to provide a substrate. This latter phenomenon probably happens extremely rarely, as you would have to have twins inhabiting the same amniotic sac for one to resorb the other; typically under such circumstances the death of one twin is highly deleterious to the other because of a tranfusion effect of excess blood across the placenta to the surviving twin.

Too bad my easy ophthalmology rotation ends today, so I will no longer have the time to wander the Web policing the general knowledge of teratomas, huh? But I still think the resorbed twin idea is more fascinating, albeit erroneous.

NickAntosca said...

Richard: A vestigial extra nipple? I have a friend who says that a similar discoloration on his chest in what sounds like the same place is exactly that.

Either this is all very common or we travel in unusual circles.

I looked at "With Hitler in New York" again when I came home yesterday - another story that I was trying to remember and couldn't when I was at work was "Lincoln on the Couch," which was, in fact, my favorite story in the collection. The petty rages over flapjacks, the Stephen Douglas and Mary Lincoln affair: I thought this story was great.

If I were to pick up another of your books soon, perhaps you could recommend one. Or, wait, maybe I shouldn't ask that - maybe it's like asking someone to choose a baby. I don't know...


Ian: Thanks for writing, this is great. The idea of "pluripotent" germ layers futilely developing into inappropriate structures - hair and teeth for a being that will never exist - is very exciting to me.

It's no less fascinating or literary (not to mention less lurid) than the vanishing twin idea.

I am jealous of your medical knowledge. Much of this, surely, can be put to good literary use. (Also, uh, it can be used to save and improve people's lives. That too.)

Even though your ophthalmology rotation is ending, I hope you'll still have time once in a while to hit Zoetrope. My comments on your stories will appear in the near future.

Ian said...

Hey Nick,

I was granted a reprieve today by my "boss" in the ICU, so here I am whittling away my hours on the Internet again.

I will try to remain involved at Zoetrope; after all, they can only legitimately work us 88 hours a week, and we also receive the luxury of four days off per month. With such an expanse of free time, how can I not visit Zoetrope?

I'm looking forward to your comments on stuff I've posted at Zoe. While it may suck, I promise it doesn't swallow. (Sorry, I just can't resist, as that review of yours has assumed a firm position in my writing Hall of Fame). Thanks in advance.

Richard said...

Hey Nick --

Approximately 1% of people have some form of vestigial nipple. Most men who have it just think it's a birthmark or a speck of discolored skin.

I'm glad you liked the Hitler book. Those were my early stories, but so were the ones in I Brake for Delmore Schwartz and Lincoln's Doctor's Dog.

In none of those cases was the collection conceived by me as a book. Each time I gave the publisher all my published stories, and the editors picked the ones they wanted to go in. So the stories are all from the same time period.

All three of those books came as the result of queries from the publishers who'd seen my stories in little magazines. I think the difference in the stories reflects the kind of thing each editor liked of my stories.

I guess writers always like the last book they did best, even if it's bad.