Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It Is NOT Obamacare!

It IS the Affordable Care Act  - or the ACA.

For the record, it was dubbed "Obamacare" by its opponents and unfortunately, thanks in great part to those who still oppose the act, and the mindless media, the name has taken hold. 

But the Affordable Care Act is no more Obamacare, than Medicare is Johnsoncare. And no one in the UK calls their National Healthcare Services by the names of those who championed it - Atlee & Bevin-care.

I just had to get this off my chest.  The Obamacare label suggests that it's temporary, when it's  not.

So, as a New Years resolution, if you need one more, stop calling it what it isn't, and instead, call it what it IS.

Thank you and Happy New Year.

And so it goes.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Exercise in Futility, Gratitude, and Year's End

Another futile day on the telephone, but far less productive than last week. More of the same; we're busy, leave voicemail - office closed for the holiday -  please hold - wait, wait, wait. 

The envelope pile has been reduced by one after 5 hours of work and the frustration was beyond belief. I finally shut it all down, called it a day.  A Year - I am sure all offices will be closed tomorrow; maybe until next Monday. 

An unrelated call came in from the office of the elusive surgeon in Christiana offering a new appointment date in the new year.  That date is February 7, 2014.  Is there nothing sooner? That's the earliest available date.  I asked to be called should there be a cancelation, but that request was futile, too.  I accepted the date.

Well, try not to die beforehand, will you…but if you do, please call and cancel your appointment.  OK? - She did not add.

I received a few gifts and gift cards this Christmas and I decided to devote some time to thank you cards, and phone calls to the givers.  There was a large chocolate letter "S" from Peter (the dear), a few bottles of wine, gift cards for local businesses from a few customers, and very generous gift card from the Locosguys and the entire staff.

As an aside, perhaps if we get to have a little Face Time, I can find out from Peter if there is any meaning behind the letter, "S"!!  Just kidding, of course - though not about Face Time. 

I called or sent notes to those for whom I had contact info, then wrote a thank you note and took it to Dos Locos this afternoon.  I personally thanked those present, and posted the "thank you" card & note for those coming in tonight or tomorrow.

The restaurant was very busy so I only stayed long enough to get caught up with a few staff members who've just returned from Christmas in their own country with their families. And, of course, had to view the photos and videos of their trip, too.  That was the fun part. Oh, the magic of the iPhone!!!

Aside from the infectious possibilities, it's kind of embarrassing to walk around with that mask on while everyone stares at you.  Of course, I could slouch over, cock my head to one side, and drag one leg across the floor like Igor in some monster flick.  "Yeth, Mauthter."  Hey!  That's a thought…

I have to decide what I want to cook for the New Year. Traditional Ham is out of the question.  Too salty for me anymore.  I already have the blackeyed peas, rice, and kale.  (Yes, I can have fresh kale if I scrub it well, and braise the s**t out of it.)  Maybe a rosemary seasoned, broiled pork chop will work out nicely.  I'll decide before tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, I have labs at 9 am, followed by an appointment with the oncologist. So, if my BC is low it may mean another afternoon of transfusion - yes, New Years Eve.  I don't feel bad today, but that doesn't mean the numbers aren't low. We shall see.

There is nothing on my gay agenda for NYE anyway, so it makes no difference at this point.  The only potential problem will be if I need transfusions and get out too late to shop before the market closes.  In which case, the New Year dinner will be whatever I have the energy to throw together.  You know, like the rest of my life right now. 

I do want to spend some time at the restaurant once more tomorrow.  There's an old saying that those you spend time with on NYE will be in your life in the new year.  Aside from the staff there will be regular customers visiting for lunch, as well. 

I don't want to take any chances.  I do want this year to be over.

And so it goes.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Vitamin Supplements are a Waste of Money…

Really??? Yes, and possibly harmful, too.  

Caution - Rant Ahead

This is an overplayed, recurring song that is only destined - as in the past - to cause more confusion about herbal, homeopathic,  natural supplements and remedies that have been around for hundreds of years. I doubt this would be so if these proved to be a hoax. 

I won't link to the new sources to jump on the anti-supplement bandwagon - they're easy to find online - but I will offer a contradiction here.

When I was given instruction sheets to prepare to receive the Aranesp injections to boost the red blood cell count (the one that cost $33K and insurance refused to cover) the second paragraph instructed the patient/recipient to begin to "take iron and B-12 supplements" at least 1 week prior to the treatment. Even offering recommended dosages.

I've also received potassium and B-12 injections at the hospital and cancer center, so I don't understand how supplements can so be harmful. OK, injections are more concentrated and quickly absorbed. but a daily supplement need not be dismissed. 

I know from experience, especially with B-12, my energy level increased to get me through some long, tiring days of summer madness at the restaurant.  Servers and anyone in like circumstances have felt the benefits of ingesting such supplements.  Is this a shared illusion?  

No!  These reports seem to be cyclical; every few years someone (either in media or government) decides they need attention - and this is a good way to get it. (Remember when coffee, eggs, tomatoes, even avocados were bad for your health?  I do.)

Granted, processed fruits and vegetables lose potency normally present in the fresh varieties, but they're still better than none at all. I feel the same about supplements. Face it, I'd have to ingest 6 to 8 bananas or 4 sweet potatoes daily to take in the potassium my body supposedly needs.  That just ain't gonna happen.

I also find this very telling:  When diagnosed (?) I was asked what vitamins and supplements I took daily.  This information was added to my computer profile.  At every subsequent appointment I certify the data is still correct and no changes have been made.   

Since it was no longer advisable to take aspirin daily, it was suggested that Milk Thistle would be a good alternative.  Had never heard of it, but found it and take it daily. So far, so good. Then I was told to add the Iron supplement to the permanent list - by the infectious diseases specialist and the oncologist - who were also adamant about my wearing the medical face mask in public. 

This brouhaha is only the outrage du jour, likely the brainchild of big Pharma as they see their profits dwindle while their prices rise. 

That the media twits offer their personal opinions on this story "oh, I'll have to stop taking _______, it could be dangerous" isn't helpful to the conversation.  Who cares about their personal choices?  Not I, especially if they're that easily dissuaded.   Hey!  Wanna buy a bridge???

No one seems to be asking questions about the study, dosages administered, or how the results were achieved.  In fact, I've heard no questions at all.

I once had a friend who purposely ate nothing but a full case of oranges for 2 days, broke out in hives, and failed his draft board physical. 
(I took the other route, checked the little box, and told them I was gay. The army had me dressed and out a side door in a flash. But that's a story for another time.) 
My friend ended up in St. Vincent's hospital for a week, but didn't get his ass shot off in Viet Nam.  His choice.  

I think we need be more concerned about the side effects of drugs that may harm organs and areas of the body having nothing to do with the ailment for which the drug was initially prescribed.  THAT scares the Hell out of me more than popping a B-12, or Potassium tablet daily. Over dosing is a bitch.  Moderation in all things, moderation.

I've used products from one company for 40 years and I know how my body feels and reacts in certain circumstances.  There is no need to worry.

End Rant Here.

And so it goes.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

TMI Happy New Year 2014

Sean (Just a Jeep Guy) wants answers to these end-of-year questions.  So, here goes.
No resolutions! Just your best hopes and wishes for 2014!
1. Entertainment…
Hope I get to witness new stem cells grow in my marrow.  Pass the popcorn and wait. If not, the other answers are only wishful thinking and fantasy.  Wishes are children, after all.
2. Politically
End  spying on civilians, everywhere.  More focus on the poor and working classes in the world to see to it everyone is on a flat playing field. Better oversight of corporations and banks. 
3. Globally…
I hope humans will look beyond religious beliefs, stop killing one another in the name of their God, and learn how to live together, care for others, work for the change they want for their children, and help to renew the planet.
4. Personally…
Be patient with myself, especially on health issues and hope the stem cell surgery comes to pass and it isn't all for naught.
5. Friends…
May 2014 be less disappointing in that area than 2013 has been. Rejection and abandonment are not conducive to good health, or friendships. Trust is so easily destroyed. 
6. Family…
I have a sister who is in poor health.  We have made our peace for, and with the past, as far as it can go.
7. Your Suggestion…
Treat others with kindness and love. We are all we have in this crazy world, so we need to be there for one another.


And so it goes.

Caturday Selfie

Say 'Tuna'.

Only a matter of time.

More later.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Stressful, Somewhat Productive Day

I felt brave.  Put it off for a long time. But, Today!  A telephone day.  A day of reckoning. Of explanations. A day of degrading frustration with a little success.

I spent over 2 hours on-hold while making calls to various medical providers regarding billings and statements I’ve received, to find out  about some payment plan.  All I can say is thank goodness I kept the land-line. Though most are local calls, a few offer toll-free calling.  A few extend no phone option at all.  Just send the damned check and go away, already! The cellphone would have given up the ghost half way through the morning.

On the phone since 8:30 this morning; successful in reaching the offices of 10 providers.  Two were even helpful. Two others were rude as all get-out, 2 will call back, and another office remains closed for the holiday.  Yes, even today!  I didn’t know we recognized the Boxing Day holiday in the US...

Aside from the 2 closed offices, I was put on hold by every other provider.  And only 2 offered to return my call instead of forcing me to endure elevator music and frequent updates of the current waiting time ‘until the next available service representative would take my call.’

I took a break for lunch, then went right back to it. It’s now after 3 pm and I doubt any more calls will be taken, (these offices seem to enjoy banker’s hours) I’m getting tired and confused by all the language and TLAs tossed around me. I think it’s time to call it a day. 

For all that, the imposing stack of statements has been reduced by 10, so that is quite a day’s work, to say the least. By the 10, I mean 10 different medical entities who provided care during these past 4 months. Labs, ER staff, other tests, x-rays, MRI and CT scans, medications, blood products, hospital rooms, attending physicians, etc.  I had no idea things were handled this way. Talk about a convoluted and wasteful system!!!

Seems billing is done separately by individual providers.  Matching the dates of service with the statements is a nightmare. I think I’ll keep better tabs on each one in the future. 

I have yet to hear from the state assistance outreach program, which I hope will be retroactive - if approved at all - to the filing date in October. 

Mission Accomplished? No, not by a long shot. Oh, and a few items to get tossed were actually duplicate statements, so the stack has been reduced substantially.  (As he heaves a great sigh of relief.) 

Poke me with a fork, I’m done!

And so it goes.


It's in the Cards

It's in there - somewhere.  I'm not sure what's going on, but the
Tarot card of the day turned out to be the same card two-days-in-a-row.  That has never happened before. And what a card it is, too. The King of Wands. 

Coincidence? Each morning the deck is shuffled and cut three times, and still this happened.

I have been a closet Tarot person for over 30 years. It was perfectly acceptable in the 70s then fell out of favor in the 90s.  I only went more public recently as I learned a few friends and blogger buddies were also interested in the arts. 

In all those years a card has occasionally popped up more than once in given a month, but never twice in a row, or even in the same week.  

I know there are fires to survive, doors to choose and walk through, radical changes ahead - physical, financial, and emotional - so I need to pay more attention; focus on what's to come. Easier said than done when three different diagnoses are being considered and juggled before me. A challenge.

It looks like 2014 is going to be an interesting learning experience.

More later.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Lamb, Memories, and Wine

It's a very still, quiet Christmas day here. Not a sound from the other apartments in the building; their cars are gone, so maybe they all went away for the holiday. That in itself is a blessing. 

Opened the door to find a festive holiday shopping bag on the porch  containing two bottles of wine. A Prosecco and an Asti Spumante. A nice card was attached, so I know who gifted them. Needless to say they were already chilled (having been in the cold for hours) and one would be on the table at dinner.

Anyway,  I continued downstairs to get a few things left in the car which I found sitting alone; the only other cars on the street being parked way down the block directly in front of one single house.  Evidently, their Christmas company came to the beach house this year. It's cold but there's on wind, thank goodness. Sun is shining and the eery quiet adds a little more peace to the day. 

Received a text from the Locosguys expressing holiday wishes, checking in to see if I was OK following the transfusions yesterday.  I will admit it was rough sleeping being plagued by nausea half the night. Finally blessed sleep came and all was well when I woke up today. I was even hungry for a change. 

The marinade/rub for the lamb came out of the refrigerator  and as soon as it reached room temperature the leg was well smeared and in the oven meaning dinner was served at around 2 pm.  The butcher did a wonderful job of butterflying, leaving no trace of bone or sinew and just enough fat to crisp up and retain the moisture. I must say this was the best, juiciest lamb I've had in many, many years. 

The marinade/rub recipe was concocted by a dear friend (friends for 35 years before his death in 2000), who was an excellent cook and it was comforting to remember him and all the good times we shared over so many years.

There is enough of everything leftover for one more delicious meal - if I can hold off a day or two.  Yes, it really was that good. 

And so it goes.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Holiday Gifts & Treasures

This Christmas Eve I got 2 transfusions and 4 lumps of coal.  Not bad.  The coal will come in handy if it gets any colder here; while the new blood will keep the old body warm and running for another week - hopefully.

With little else to do, I arrived early hoping I'd be taken in earlier so as to not be driving home depressed, in the dark.  There was cheery music for the first time in the reception area at the cancer center with the registration staff all decked out in their most festive outfits and wearing headgear of all kinds; reindeer antlers, snowmen, or jingling bells (which became most annoying after about 10 minutes.

The transfusion room was crowded, as usual.  All the nursing staff were wearing gay apparel accessorized with necklaces of tiny, twinkling christmas bulbs. Home made cookies, candies, mint canes, truffles, and fruit cakes were passed around. Enough to put a person into Diabetic Shock!  

Oh, and there was NO music in the transfusion room.  Fine with me.  If I had to listen to Burl Ives "Holly Jolly Christmas" today, I'd have gone Postal.

I was finished with treatment earlier than I would have been so I sent a text to the restaurant to find out if they were still open.  They were. I was invited to partake of our annual Christmas Eve tradition of closing early and enjoying a cocktail with the day staff to celebrate the holiday. As the last customers left the building, the locosguys busied themselves behind the bar making cocktails for all of us.

We sipped, laughed, shared holiday stories and were on the way home in about an hour. Glad I could take part again in this relaxed time of refection on the year ending and how we made a difference.  Without getting too blubbery, I expressed my gratitude for the support I've received throughout this medical situation and how much they all meant to me. One of the servers piped up and said, "you'd do the same for any of us.  You did it for me." 

This shocked me as he related the story (I had completely forgotten about) of a family medical crisis he weathered earlier in the year.  To my mind I had done so little to help out, but to him what I did was obviously a big deal.  I am used to giving.  Taking is another matter.  I'm not very gracious in that role. I took note. He came over and gave me a big hug and thanked me again.  Evidently, it's something he will not forget.  Now, I won't either.

Lights were turned off, alarm set and we headed in different directions, having shared a rare, personal time of friendship together. The shops were closing and going dark (as was the sky), the town was quiet as I drove home. There are few restaurants open this evening and only one or two will open for dinner tomorrow evening. Don't ask me why.  Makes no sense.

The spice rub/marinade is made and waiting to be smeared on the lamb. Asparagus salad is made and chilled. The parsley potatoes will be prepared as the lamb is roasting.

If I awake without side effects from the new blood, it will indeed be a joyous Christmas Day. 

In any case, I wish all Blogger Buddies, Friends, Occasional Visitors, and anyone stopping by - Happy Holidays!

And so it goes. 


Sunday, December 22, 2013

I Was Raised by Stephen Sondheim. It's True

And this is how I know. A funny compilation of videos from Sondheim shows.  Although there is a video tribute in the story to the song below, I wanted to post the original singer (later at TV personality) Beth Howland, from the "Making Of" classic video of Company. The clip in the compilation features the wonderful Madeline Kahn, this one remains, I think, the very best.

Here's "22 Signs You Were Raised by Stephen Sondheim"

And here's "Not Getting Married Today" - 1970
And so it goes.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Shot, Another Shot, And Then Some.

Mask off, sitting in front of me.  Hate it!
Awoke feeling sluggish and somehow a bit off-center yesterday.  Dizzy and light-headed (so what's new?) with no appetite. Struggling to snap out of it, I downed 2 cups of strong java to no avail. I knew I had to get moving, but it just wasn't happening.  Somehow I needed have the prescription filled or the pain would become unbearable.

I called the Center, described the symptoms and was asked to come in to be checked out. Could I drive?  Yes.  As long as traffic was light and no need to be ultra-alert, I thought I'd be OK.  There was no one to call, in any case, so there it was.  

Without knowing what the Center had in mind - or what the diagnosis would be - I chanced a stop to drop off the scrip before the appointment. I needed those painkillers and since narcotics must be signed for, there was no choice.

Well, it seems that even with the already high dosages of B-12 I must take, the lack thereof was part of the problem. I needed a shot, was given the injection, told to relax and enjoy a coffee and chocolate muffin.  I did.  Both "tasted" great.  Yes, I could actually taste both.  Very strange after so long without working tastebuds, and very welcome indeed.

An hour later, feeling much more like myself, vitals were taken and I was sent on my way.  The only item on the gay agenda was the painkiller scrip and a few grocery items to hold me over the holiday.  Done in no time, I was about to start the car when a text came in from the Locosguys asking if I could come by for a visit. I thought I would beg off, but thought it might be medicinal.  

My peeps. Servers, Cooks, Bartender.  The Best!
As I was about to reply, he sent another text reminding me that there were holiday cards awaiting me and a few customers having lunch were hoping to see me. I replied that I was "on the way"  It took 20 minutes (holiday shopping traffic made for slow-going) to get back into town, less than 2 miles away. 

The afternoon was the most enjoyable and festive I've had in a long time. It was a happy time spent with staff and the customers (those already here for the long holiday week) as we sat in the bar area making up for lost time, playing catch-up on my life and theirs. Out of nowhere, the Locosguy appeared with a tray full of shot glasses.  These were to "taste" a new cocktail concoction he just created called "chocolate covered pretzel" - many were skeptical.  Not I.  No sir. I was ready for something salty, tasty, and strong (how I like my men!) and the shots were passed around.

The obligatory toast was made in my honor and down they went.  OMG!  So smooth, so chocolaty, and salty. Exactly like a chocolate covered pretzel.  Honestly. My newly revived tastebuds thanked me profusely for the pleasure, as the fun continued. 

Somewhere along the way I mentioned (while discussing mixology in general) that I loved B & B and had not tasted it in many years. Well, before you could say "Holy Shit, Mary - It's a Girl!"  3 glasses of the powerful elixir appeared before me. Holiday and Get Well cards stacked in front of me, which I was told to open on Christmas morning and think of the senders.

Four hours later - with 2 Chocolate Covered Pretzel shots and 4 B & B drinks making a home in my belly - feeling warm and grateful, I headed home. Reluctantly checked the mailbox and was delighted to find nothing offensive from any Gub-mint agency waiting to ruin the perfectly glorious afternoon.

Went to bed with the warm glow of friendship both inside and surrounding my body. Slept like a baby (of course the painkiller helped) and woke to partly cloudy skies and warm temperatures.  May rise into the 70s today.  I'll take it. 

A text arrived a while ago reminding me that Sunday is the birthday of one of the Locosguys and there'll be surprises and cake. And a "please come if you can" at the end. Well, if the state of physical and mental well-being continues for another day, you can be sure I'll be there. 

Happy group sans medical mask. Good time.

(Sorry about the photo quality. They were shot with the Locosguy's iPhone 5, which I've been told takes far better pictures when the photographer hasn't been imbibing.)

And so it goes.


A Grumpy Caroling Caturday

And a Merry Bah-Humfuck to all.

More later.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Another set of questions posed by Sean (Just a Jeep Guy) to share a little more info about ourselves, and our lives. This week's topic:  Telephones in all manner, shape, and form.

1. Do you still have a land line? 
Yes.  It's cheap enough ($10. monthly) and I trust it in emergencies more than a cell phone.

2. Which cell phone do you use and why?
iPhone4 - because it was free. My previous smartphone died a slow death and my carrier was recently able to offer Apple products, so I jumped on the offer. Free phone, shipping, activation and $5.00 off monthly fee.

3. Which provider do you use? Is there really a difference?
Virgin Mobile.  (Carrier is Sprint.) Yes, there's a big difference for me. Price and options are perfect for my needs and no 2-year contract.

4. If you call someone and they don't pick up, do you leave a message?
Yes. Especially if the call is important.

5. When you have a missed call (with no message), do you call the person back?
No, unless I recognize the number. "Private Caller" incoming calls go directly to voicemail - if you don't want me to know who you are, I don't want to talk to you.

6. Do you txt willingly or reluctantly? How are your skills?
Willingly.  I like texting. Used a lot at work. My skills are not great, but I do voice texting for more complicated messages.

7. Has your cell replaced your camera? 
Nope, and it probably never will.  

8. Selfies....
I believe I've done one. I enjoy being in photos with others. Self photos are not my thing. I know what I look like and see myself daily - in the mirror while brushing teeth or shaving.

9. How many apps do you have? Which is your favorite and why? I'm not sure what that means. The phone came with many apps. I've added 3 of my own, and they were free.  Google Earth is probably the fave.

0. What would life be like with no cell/smart phone for one month?
I'd prefer life completely without the cellphone. I like privacy. Don't like everyone knowing where I am every minute of the day. I don't answer calls or texts while driving, dining, or even shopping.  Dangerous and rude. That said, with current health and medical issues, I'm glad I have it for emergencies.

How much has your cell phone become a part of your sex life? Sexting, hookup apps, selfies, video, GPS, more?
Haahahahahahahahahahahahaha!  That's funny...

And so it goes.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

It's Christmas! - Waltz of the Snowflakes

Mark Morris' ballet "The Hard Nut" has been a joy to watch for many years. This year I found this tiny part and wanted to share it here. If you've never seen the entire ballet, you're missing some great dance talent and imagination at work.

No, I am not awake at this hour. This is a 'scheduled' post.  

Hope you enjoyed the experience.  Not your run-of-the-mill Nutcracker ballets. It IS different, after all.

And so it goes.

A=Apple, B=Blood, C=Christmas

No, I don't want a Bloody Apple for Christmas! Maybe a Bloody Mary…let's do brunch.

Having spent most of the daylight hours in the transfusion room yesterday, there was no time to take care of the errands on my ever-growing list.  To-do's that must be done before Christmas, the New Year, and the hospital.  In no particular order.

Two units of blood and a new painkiller prescription later, and it was all I could do to drive home safely. Didn't stop to fill the prescription - not even to just drop it off - that's how tired I was. Of course, the Benadryl injection didn't help much in that department. 

Although the sun is shining and the weather is warm for this time in December, I haven't the energy to cope with going outdoors today.  There is a good reason for this. Since 2 strange antibodies were found in blood previously received, I've become a difficult match. So, I now receive O+ which causes a bit of a shock to my system. 

I should be fine by tomorrow, so I'll get an early start, dropping off the new scrip first, picking it up on the way back when I need to get a few grocery things, anyway. I've decided to roast a small leg of lamb for my Christmas Dinner and it's on sale beginning tomorrow.  One simply doesn't see a butterfly leg of lamb often, and certainly not at this price. 

I want to get everything, or most everything, done before energy is totally depleted and I become a useless slug. Thankfully, none of the errands require braving the outlet malls, or any malls, for that matter. 

People keep asking how I like the new phone.  Well, I like it fine.  It works, reception is good, and it does what it's supposed to do. How anyone can watch video on the thing is beyond me. There are more doodads and whoozles than I will probably ever know how to use, or have use for, but they seem to thrill many people who can't live without them. To me, they're just so much clutter.

The iPhone is somewhat heavier than the LG Android was, but other than that, it's a good product and reliable.  That's the key, for me at least. The case is also dangerously smooth and slides easily off any surface. Not good. First thing I did was purchase a hard rubber snap-on case, which creates a nice friction on any surface. I had one for the LG, as well and liked it very much. Lord knows, they're cheap enough to keep the phone clean and safe. 

The big surprise for me with Apple is the lack of documentation for their products.  I suppose for longtime Apple users this isn't an issue, but for Windows users making the transition can be alarming. If you were a Windows user, you know what I mean. 

The only issue I have with Apple is the constant stream of  necessary "updates" to fix this or that app problem. Even with my own wi-fi it can take a long time. Annoying, to be sure. I do like the fact that updates to the OS are free, unlike Microsoft where they squeeze every penny out of you and usually for an untested, flawed new version of Windows. 

How well I remember that damned VISTA that came loaded on my old (and last) PC. I finally upgraded to Windows 7 - for $100.00 - but it was worth it.

Seems every other day the iPhone and iPod want certain apps updated. I don't have many add-on apps  - Google Earth, Trip Advisor, and Solitaire on both and Google Maps on the iPod.  I've removed a couple that were work-related, like Open Table, and Yelp.  Those 2 were most frequently in need of updating. Frustrating and time-consuming.  Now they're history and I'll be bothered no more.

I see that Sean (Just a Jeep Guy) has posted this week's TMI questions and, guess what - They are phone-related.  Think I'll copy and respond to them. 

The cancer center just called to check up on me and to inform me that I have Labs to be done on Monday at 8 am. This means, if I need blood I will spend Christmas Eve at the blood center.  Merry Christmas!!!

And so it goes.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Spoiled Souls, Frank Capra's Lost Horizon, and a Black & White Victory

Everyone I know who was going away for the holidays has gone. Those staying behind are whining about missing out.  These are the same people who went on ski vacations last winter to Vermont and Switzerland.  The same ones who went on a cruise to no-where this summer.  You know, those poor, unfortunate souls. 

(Bring up the tiny Violins, and more cowbell over here, please!)

Watched Frank Capra's Lost Horizon yesterday, not having seen it in a few years, and marveled at his filmmaking genius. Great cast, shot on a shoestring budget and he had a winner for the ages all round. The fascinating stories surrounding the film are legion and the film holds up today, even without a new digitally mastered DVD. (Anyone hear that?  Hint, Hint!)

The one good thing about viewing films alone is that one can watch scenes or bits of scenes over and over to get more out of them.  I do this a lot. Even before film school with only 16mm prints available (no video tape or DVD back then) I would check them out of the visual arts lending library at MOMA on the weekends and enjoy a feast for 2 days. 

With the invention of VHS then DVD this hobby was made ridiculously easy.  I did it yesterday…with Lost Horizon.

People say as we get older we get nostalgic for the good old days.  Well, I am one who doesn't think the "good old days" of my youth are anything to celebrate (A topic for another post, if I'm still around to write it) but the films of the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood (30s thru 50s) - the harsh realities of the studio system notwithstanding - gave us the best art and entertainment at a very low price. 

I am told there is a DVD box set containing many of Capra's films (couldn't be all of them, puleeze, who could afford it?) and if there is one of his films I'd love to see again, right now, it's probably one of the most difficult to find. "You Can't take it with You." 

Again, a great cast, brilliant writing and a story for the ages. Capra pretty much had his own stock company at the studio.  You're likely to see the same players in many of his films with the  majority of additions being leading players.

About 30 years ago as old Hollywood heaved it's last breath and Ted Turner was the master of all the vaults and archives, he decided to take all the BEST black & white films in "his" vast acquired library and colorize them for marketing to new audiences who (he thought) would never sit through a B&W film again.  Of course, he ignored the popularity of films like Paper Moon and others of the 70s - all first run and award nominees. Turner was not a film person. 

It's hard to explain really; one didn't need to see colour to experience it in our imagination - cinematically. We knew Jezebel's gown was red, we were told it was and we saw it so.  Turner clearly had no knowledge for the way lighting design, costumes and set decorations were integrated into the making of a visually exciting B&W experience.  He would listen to no one. It was a huge mistake.

The results were disastrous and he lost tons of money in the process. No one wanted to see a sickly pink younger version of Jimmy Stewart, Thomas Mitchell, Lionel Barrymore, Clark Gable, or Gary Cooper on their home screens.  Turner finally admitted defeat and dropped the rest of the project.  And we are the beneficiaries of the backlash from film buffs all over the world.  Myself, included. I was a member of the New York Film Society and American Film Institute at the time.  You can be sure I put my 2-cents in. 

I don't know what happened to all the VHS copies of  the colorized classics, but I am sure someone somewhere is still hoarding them waiting for a comeback. They will make a killing.  (Ahem.) Remember 8-track tapes???

Jeez, where did all that come from?  Dunno. 

Anyway, We can go into "fullscreen" vs "letterbox" at a later date, too.  Aren't you excited?  Oh, just say, YES! and let move's on. 

One of my all-time favorite holiday films is "It's a Wonderful Life" (yes, Frank Capra) and I just may watch that one tonight.  Capra always had a political viewpoint, and the film's story line is more appropriate today than ever.  Besides, I still love my angel, Clarence, after all these years.

And so it goes.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Blue Monday. How Are You, Blue Monday?

Awoke at 4:30 am, that guy Fats Domino knew what he was singing about.  The weekend somehow skimmed by leaving me mostly unaware of its passing.  Aside from breaks to scavenge for food, the world didn't insert itself into my consciousness most of the time.

Spoke to the sister for a brief time yesterday. She's not doing well, so I said little about my health. I didn't tell her that she isn't a viable match for my transplant. I just couldn't.  And though she asked, I offered even less about the financial mishugas that morphs into something different with each new mail delivery. I can't keep up anymore. 

There were no phone calls - only one text asking if I planned to attend the Staff Holiday Party last night.  I didn't feel up to driving in the dark, no one offered a ride, and didn't feel party-hardy at the time, anyway.  I didn't go.

However, There were messages waiting this morning from Linda (in Ireland with family) Debbie (Arizona with grandkids), Andrei (in Belarus), Manuel (Dominican Republic),  letting me know they arrived safely and that they were thinking of me.  Thoughtful notes that cheered me, preparing me for the bullshit of a day ahead.

There was blood work at 7:30 followed by the appointment with the doctor to discuss the results of the incident at the hospital Friday.   I didn't expect any answers; I've run out of questions, and that's the way it is. Scheduled for another transfusion on Wednesday, if not before.  Depends on what the Christiana surgeon finds in his sleuthing tomorrow.

Stopped by the restaurant on the way home to say good-bye to a few more folks leaving this week for their home countries to be with family and friends. Had a short chat with one of the locosguys and will try to catch up with both of them before week's end. 

I see that Peter O'Toole has passed, as has Tom Laughlin. Interesting men in their own right.  These deaths almost always come in 3s. Now I see Joan Fontaine (Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.)  has left us, and that rounds out the trilogy. They enjoyed rich, full lives. May they all rest in peace. 

Needing something to lift my spirits after the morning medical madness, I decided a Bayberry Candle would add a little something to the atmosphere at the apartment.  They're not easy to find. Apple & cinnamon, evergreen, winter linen (?) and Christmas spice seemed to be everywhere - but no bayberry.  Finally went directly to Yankee Candles. They have the best, anyway.  Just lit it a few minutes ago and it smells wonderful in here already. 

This afternoon the mailbox was overflowing with junk mail and more BS letters from various government agencies.  The junk went into the recycle bin while the others remain unopened.  As I said before, the chances of there being any good news is slim, so why bother?

Light snow is forecast overnight (yawn!) we shall see.

And so it goes.


2013: What Brought Us Together

A video compilation of the year.  A little earlier than usual, but I guess that's to be expected from a year that was full of explosives - good and bad.

Here's the description from the YT site:
Published on Dec 16, 2013
A six-minute tribute to some of the moments, people and stories that 'brought us together' this year, from tragic to triumphant, challenging or inspiring. Here's to 2013.

And so it goes.

"War on Christmas" Problem Solved

There you go.

More later.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Little Drummer Boy - Salsoul Style

Most readers of this site were not alive when this album was released and didn't witness the joy it passed along all these many years. 

For us in 1976 this was a treasure, a musical place to go where family issues weren't  addressed or important. Where we could dance with friends for hours enjoying the music without the family baggage. Salsoul knew this.  Bless them. They knew their audience.  It made the holiday more welcoming and cheerful.

Being present when this was first played at 12-West in 1976 was a gift. When I post the "Christmas Medley next week, you'll know why. For now, use your imagination to visualize the campy images and costumes  that evolved from the lyrics of this great piece of 1970s tantalizing tinsel music.  

It's not just me. It must be good stuff, because it's been revitalized, re-edited, and re-recorded for today. Is that cool, or what. Enjoy.

Merry Ho-ho to everyone.

And so it goes.

The Plot, 'er Blood Sickens.

Another visit to the ER yesterday. Dizziness, chills and violent shaking sent me over the edge. I was admitted within minutes.  Even the heated blankets offered no relief. It was initially thought I might need a transfusion, but that wasn't the case. 

I was having a delayed allergic reaction to the blood products received Wednesday. I haven't felt altogether well since that time.  Sluggish with no appetite or energy.

Two injections were administered and an IV to replace "precious bodily fluids" was started.  I  fell asleep. Woke to warmth and stillness. Body was calm and chills were gone. Felt like I'd been through a bad storm. Weak and exhausted.

They debated as to whether they should keep me over night JIC anything took a turn for the worse. I wanted to come home, of course, but harder heads prevailed.  I went back to sleep until 6 am.  Not sure, but it looked like I was given another unit of blood as I slept. I didn't ask, it had already been signed for in any case. I'll find out when I see the doctor on Monday morning.

I don't recall receiving my prescription meds yesterday afternoon.  Everything is a blur.  Probably best that way.  One of the IVs could have been an antibiotic as well.

Still not 100%, but I felt well enough to drive home. The staff wanted someone to pick me up, or at least follow me for safety reasons. There is no one to call. They're either planning, already gone for the holidays, or working longer, fill-in hours.

Following a half-eaten breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, muffin, juice and coffee I was released with new instructions and a flagged note was sent to the doctor's computer file at the cancer center. 

I checked the mailbox and found 2 more holiday cards - a terrific photo card from Ron, (the dear/gossip) and one from friends in Florida. There was also a small package which, depending on health issues may be unopened til Christmas day.  Something to look forward to…sounds good to me.

Unfortunately, where there are good tidings there must be not-so-good ones. There were 2 envelopes from the Grinch Health & Social Services Dept. meant, I am sure, to ruin my day.  Not in the proper mindset to deal with governmental bullshit right now,  these will wait for another time. After all, it can't be good news with the many service cuts going into effect in January - Yes, by all means - Happy Fucking New Year!  

Turned on the phone (doesn't work in areas of the hospital, the wi-fi sucks, anyway) to find new messages. One from the locosguys flying in today from Mexico, reminding me that the Staff Holiday Party is Sunday evening at 6 pm, at the other restaurant in Lewes.  I don't know why.  Not sure I'll make that one. It's dark by then and I'm not up to parking, walking distances, and big crowds at present. I will call them when they get home to fill them in on the gory details of the past week.

Following that, a quick one from my side-kick, Debbie who was to transport me to the (long awaited) appointment in Christiana this Tuesday, explaining that she can't be my chauffeur. She's leaving tonight for Arizona. Last minute flight changes out of her control.  Spending the holiday with grandkids brings great joy and canceling would mean no refund from the airline.

I'll see how I feel. If I think I can drive, I will go.  If not, the appointment will be postponed until after the new year. 

There is one from Sassy Bear (the dear) asking for some personal information.

At this moment, I can't stand to look at the bed this morning. I don't even want to be in the same room with the thing, but that's not an option.  It's cold and a bit drizzly here, but the windows are open to let in fresh air.  Turned off the heat and left the vent blower on high to help speed things along.

I'd go to the boardwalk and sit on a bench - in the rain - if I wasn't so weak. The water may cleanse my soul; clear my head of the detritus that's making my brain hurt. Such an outing is wishful thinking and not meant to be. (Sigh!)

I know there are people in far worse shape than I, (physically and financially) but that doesn't make me feel any better. My sister is one of those people and I wish with all my heart, I could take away her pain.  Speaking of the sister…I'm going to try again to reach her today, if nothing more than just to hear her voice and share a good laugh.  I'm sure we both could use one.  I will call every hour all day until I get a response. 

In the meantime, a little music wouldn't hurt as I wait for the clean air circulate through the apartment. Then I'll close the windows, turn on the heat, take a hot shower, water the tiny tree, light a few candles, and send a few messages of my own. 

Ultimately, this episode brought up an unsettling reality; I couldn't find the car in the lot this morning,  then it hit me - I have no memory of driving to the hospital. None.  Not a good sign. 

And so it goes.

Aging Caturday Shocker

Been there. Done that.

More later.


Friday, December 13, 2013

TMI War on Christmas 2013

Don't know where this began, I've read it at a few of my recent stops, but I nicked it from Peter's (Tippin' The Scales) place.
(Update: Sean at (Just a Jeep Guy) is responsible for these fun, insightful, prying questions. I should have known. Thanks, Sean. And Happy, Merry - oh fuckit, Cheers!)

1. Which religion or faith do you belong to, if any?   I was baptized Roman Catholic at 2 weeks of age.  I had no choice in the ritual. Left all church in my teens, hooked up with the Episcopal Church briefly and left all religion behind now.    

2. What is your opinion of Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays?
I use both interchangeably. There are many holidays celebrated in a short time, it's unfair to consider one over an other.  Happy Holidays seems to cover them all. I have no preference.
3. Holiday music on the radio? When and how much?
PDQ Bach has always been a regular in my house. His NYC concerts were performed every year at this time at Carnegie Hall, or Avery Fisher Hall.  I also have a few fave CDs and listen a bit to Pandora.  A Little goes a long way.
4. When do you start decorating? Do you?
I don't decorate anymore. Friend Ron (Retired in Delaware) does a great job decorating his home. Lovely and warm.  In my previous life there was a huge tree that went up December 1 and came down on King's Day (Epiphany), January 6. 
5. White lights or multi colored?
When I was young it was colored twinkling bulbs and single color ornaments. As I got older, I preferred the clean, crisp look of clear bulbs and various colored ornaments. 
6. Gift cards, cash or actually shopped-for presents?
None, really. A surprise gift is always nice, but not expected or sought after. There is nothing that I want, or need. 
7. Christmas cards and or family update letters are…                                        Thoughtful.  Used to send over 100 cards in my previous life.  Not now.   Not working, and health issues means low funds.                          
8. Snow is…
Nice, if you're not forced into it for any reason. I especially love snow on Christmas and wish it gone by boxing day.
9. Have you been a good little boy or girl this year?
Define "good" please.
a. Food – Not anymore. The same old foods bore me to death these days. If I could, I'd love to roast a goose for Christmas, but it would be too much for just one person. And I'm low on energy, anyway. 
b. Dessert – Anything with dark chocolate
c. Drink – Eggnog, Wine, and maybe a Guinness.
d. Holiday movie – It's a Wonderful Life. White Christmas, A Christmas Carol (1951, with Alastair Sim)        
e. Holiday music – See # 3 above                                          
f. Holiday tradition – Used to be ice skating in Rockefeller Center. None anymore.
BONUS: Christmas sex:
What have you done under the mistletoe?
Have you caught daddy kissing Santa Clause?
Have you done it a santa suit?
Did you come down the chimney?
If that's what it's called these days. ;-)
Just how merry have you made Santa’s helpers?
Worked at Macy's flagship store one Christmas, all helpers and elves had a jolly good time.  If you get my drift.

There.  That was painless.
And so it goes.
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