Friday, February 28, 2014

Lunch Date with Lobster Reuben

Yesterday's Labs showed the need for another transfusion - damn! - and so I was free to enjoy the lunch date with friend Deb. The Oyster House changed their winter hours and opened at noon, which was fine because we were to meet there at 12:15 pm, anyway. 

We were the first customers through the doors, and welcomed by Chris (owner) himself as we took some time to chat about the business, or lack thereof, this winter. Chris and his kitchen crew, like Dos Locos and their Staff, are the reason for the continued success of the restaurant. When you order a favorite from the menu you can be sure it will be just as good as the last time. 

A monster Lobster Reuben Sandwich = lobster chunks, slaw, thousand island dressing, gruyere on grilled thick rye texas toast was recommended by my dining partner, owner Chris, and server.  Taking the advice of the majority, I ordered the thing.  I always like to try new things, especially when they're quirky and contain uncommon ingredients.  Yes, I mean, "lobster reuben sandwich"?  Besides, I've never had a bad meal here.

Chris brought wine, excused himself to get back to the kitchen to prep for dinner, as the restaurant began filling up with people I know, Deb knew, or we both know from around town.  Yes, it's a small town.  This outing was another one of those wonderful gifts - being out and about in a social setting. Nothing in the world like that warm feeling.

When the order arrived I was so glad I hadn't also ordered the Oysters Rockefeller.  There would have been way too much food and we'd never have walked (unassisted) out of the place. As we chowed down I could see Chris and our server, Eric watching for my reaction. They all laughed as all I could mutter was "oooh my g*d" as the juices and cheese ran down my chin or exploded in my mouth.

I was in multi-sensory heaven. O.M.G. that was the biggest, richest, and most satisfying Reuben I've ever tasted.  Rich, but not heavy it made my mouth happy, and my tummy thought it had died and gone to culinary heaven. 

Side note: The Lobster Reuben is only served at lunch and only in the off-season. The sandwich is prep-heavy and requires constant attention by the chef. This ain't no fast-food deli, luncheon sandwich.  Trust me.

After our leisurely meal, we sat and talked about everything and nothing. Deb has been covering a few of my shifts at DL, so she picked my brain about getting specific things done before staff arrives, as well as dealing with certain high maintenance customers;  good customers, but high maintenance, none the less. 

Seems she also had a telephone conversation with the folks at the DE Eye Institute (the people who treated me rudely a while back) and told them she was taking her business, her family and friends elsewhere. The representative at the Institute tried to tell her that I must have been mistaken, or lying.  That's not something to say to Debbie, not about her friends, or her family. 

She was even more pissed after ending the call and wrote a letter to her eye doctor (the one she suggested I see) telling him of her decision, going into great detail, and suggested he might want to look into what's happening at the front reception area.  After all, it's his bread & butter, too.

I had 2 new prescriptions to fill and she had to get ready for work at DL last night, so we shared a hug and went our separate ways. 

Needless to say, there was no room for even a light supper last night, but all was right in my little corner of the world.

Woke very short of breath, probably the reason I'm to receive double transfusions today, so it will be a long session at the center. I'll stop for the new scripts on the way home this evening, if I feel up to it.  If not, I'll feel better tomorrow.  I hope. 

(This should have posted this morning, but somehow Blogger screwed up.  Sorry, if the timing throws anyone off.)

And so it goes.
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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sun Shines as Snow Falls on a Constructive Day.


The sun was shining as the snow fell yesterday.  Odd, beautiful and compelling. You could almost see tiny rainbows when you squinted in the bright light.  I sat on the porch for a while watching and listening to the snow make soft 'hissing' sounds as it hit any surfaces.

Sorted through the piles of medical bills and statements setting aside those requiring phone calls and pleas for patience.  Some of the bills are duplicates from entities I've already made arrangements with, so they'll be getting another call, but only after all the others are put into the queue for attention.

With the snow and temperatures falling, I thought it a good day to make a festive chili, so I gathered all ingredients and set about the task. Prep took about 20 minutes. It simmered all day making the apartment smell heavenly.

My body is responding to the steroid in a positive way, although the Raynaud's has gotten worse.  Both hands get numb and tend to cramp up from time to time. It will be interesting to find out my CBC today.  Will I require another transfusion, again tomorrow?  Maybe not.  At least I can dream, can't I?

Received email update regarding the new glasses - they are cutting and beveling the various lenses.  Who knows? The glasses may be here by the weekend.  That would be a wonderful thing, indeed.  I can dream, can't I? That notice also reminded me to send off a "thank you" note to the new eye doctor and his staff for taking such good care of me on Monday.  Their care and concern for a total stranger was refreshing to me. Greatly appreciated and gladly accepted. I wonder if anyone writes notes of thanks, anymore.  Maybe this sort of kindness is taken for granted, or perhaps out of the realm of experience for most people.

At any rate, they're kindness and generosity, certainly made my day one hell of a lot better. 

My sidekick, Deb called asking about setting up a date for lunch today after the Lab work. Sounded good to me, especially when she suggested the Henlopen City Oyster House for their specials of boiled shrimp and oysters Rockefeller. Barring any unforeseen health problem, we're set to meet around mid-day. Haven't been to the oyster house since last November, which was the last time I dined out, as well.

If the neutrophil count proves high enough, I won't have to wear the mask.  If so, this will be the first time folks at the Oyster House get to see my smiling face in over a year.  Hmmm!  Maybe they were better off while I wore the mask.  

The Chili, avocado salad, and garlic bread supper was delicious, but I am paying the price today. Haven't had anything that spicy for a long time and my innards are rebelling now. Oh well.  Any regrets?  Hell, No!!!

Off to the Labs!

More later.

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She Did the Right Thing - For Once!

The Harpy milked this controversy for all it was worth, for as long as possible. Finally did the right thing.

Heads exploding everywhere.  Snoopy Happy Dance here.





Indeed.  Now I can plan a visit to Dr. Spo, Someone, and Harper (not Harpy, that's Brewer) in Phoenix.  Not that one was in the stars, mind you, but it's grand to have the option once more.

Found these two quotes online this morning @ JMG and thought I'd post them too.  One of these papers is owned by Rupert Murdoch...can you guess which one?

It's all in how you look at it, isn't it.

h/t JMG

More later.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Happy Surprises & New Eyeglasses on the Way.

Having spent way too much time in bed since Saturday afternoon, I really had to get the old body moving Sunday. Carefully planned course of action was set into place before my head left the pillow. 

Bathroom - the usual morning routine followed by a hot shower and complete shaving regime.
Kitchen - full breakfast of eggs, sausage, toast, and V-8 juice. 
Bedroom - sort laundry, whites, colors, perma-press, etc.

I had to take things a lot slower. Shortness of breath was my only nemesis. Everything else was fine.  Clear headed, no balance problems made a world of difference to the day. I can only attribute this to the steroid kicking in and that's fine with me. Good to have a break from the others for a change.

Then in mid-afternoon Peter called from Amsterdam via Face Time and I was thrilled. It was my first attempt at using this new-fangled communication technology to talk across the pond, but all went well. It's far better than trying to use Skype cross platform. It was late evening in Amsterdam and he had a busy day lined up for Monday, but we still talked for almost a half hour. And it was FREE!  He looked and sounded great and it was so generous of him to call.

If I had known he was going to call, I would have had the iPad ready and waiting, but the whole conversation went on between my iPod and his iPad. And it was OK - better than one would expect.  Sound and picture were clear as when I've chatted with others here in the states.  Seeing him live and hearing his voice made for a happy day.  Nothing like talking with a friend to lift your spirits and this one did just that. 

Unfortunately, he's had to cancel his holiday plans to the states this year, so I'll miss seeing him in person. Just too much on his plate and, you know, life gets in the way sometimes. 

Monday morning, following a trip to the hospital to pick up test results, I again made a brief stop at an eye care center in town.  No, I wouldn't give up!  Their website boasted "walk-ins welcome" so I checked it out.  So glad I did. 

After the usual paperwork I was whisked off for a complete and thorough eye exam.  Even though it was a busy Monday, they squeezed me in somehow, and for that I am grateful. Doctor Rios (Peruvian, that's him in the image) took extra care, asked a lot of questions about the status of my medical treatment. He was convinced that I'd be fine and seemed happy for the new patient.

The entire staff and about half of the patients were latinos, probably Peruvian. Kind staff and beautiful people.  Their kids were adorable, but I was told to keep the mask on by the technicians, just in case. That made me chuckle.  They didn't even know me yet they were concerned for me. Nice.  This was turning into a very pleasant day, after all. 

I had a new prescription in hand in less than 2 hours.  Driving home was tricky due to the dilated pupils, but they supplied dark lens covers to protect my eyes, and I took it real slow all the way home. Made a quick stop at the PO to mail the tax documents to Natalie, beforehand.  She ought to have everything before the weekend.  

When I arrived at home I wanted to order new glasses right away but was afraid I'd input the wrong data from the prescription so I had to wait until much later when the pupils contracted again and I could see more clearly. After waiting so long, a few more hours wouldn't make much difference.

Meanwhile, I received a text from Linda at the restaurant asking how things were.  So I thought I'd surprise everyone… I put the dark lenses back on and drove over the see the gang.  Of course,  when I arrived at the restaurant everyone was concerned about my weight loss so they tried to ply me with food, but I finally settled on having a drink with everyone when  the shifts changed at 4 pm. 

We laughed, caught up on life in and out of the restaurant, looked at photos and videos of their kids, and then laughed some more.  The afternoon with friends made life worth living, again.  I don't say that lightly.  I felt energized and happy for the first time in a very long time. The locosguys are in Mexico for their annual 3-week rest, so I'll see them when they return around Mardi Gras, March 4th.

I left with clear eyes, and a happy, festive buzz that carried me home where I got to work ordering new eyeglasses. One pair of bifocals, and one pair for the computer. The reading prescription hasn't changed much, so I'll wait to order those in a month or two when there may be more money to cover the cost.  I ought to have my tax refund - if there is one - in about 4 weeks. 

I can't wait for the new glasses to arrive.  The bifocals come with a free polarized clip-on for use in bright sun come summer. The computer frames are heavy duty and had to be because my prescription, especially the left eye has changed dramatically. I don't care as long as I can see again without getting headaches.  The cost for the two pair came in under $70.00 including shipping and ought to arrive in about a week. 

After a light supper, I took a shower and went to bed.  I slept like a stone and woke this morning feeling happier, more relaxed, and there is absolutely nothing on the gay agenda today. 

Sadly, the lovely spring-like weather has left us and we're in for rain and possibly snow showers today and overnight. But that's OK. we had 3 beautiful days in a row.  A gift, especially in February.

And so it goes.

*

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Reading, Reviews, and the Ridiculous.

I'm sure I mentioned a fascinating book I read last month: "Theodore Roosevelt and the Assassin; Madness, Vengeance, and the Campaign of 1912 - by Gerard Helferich.  I read the Kindle edition.  This is not a review of the book, itself.

Reading it took longer than expected, what with all the medical mishugas, drugs, transfusions dogging my everyday activities, but I finally finished it.  It was great, but I felt that I had missed (or forgotten over time) some of the historical data, and subtle nuances of the story taken from the historic documents.

So, I read it again.  I always get more out of a second reading, anyway, but this one proved amazingly well researched and written. This reading went faster. Fortunately, I bought this book, so it's safe in the 'cloud' whenever I want to revisit it. I love saving books this way. Though I only save a few faves that I know I'll want to check in on from time to time.

I've since downloaded and tried reading a few other books, modern sci-fi mostly, but I've deleted them after a few chapters. Bad writing, awful plots, silly language, dull characters, rehashed story-lines from previous writers, you name it they had it.  Is this what it's like when you get old and have read all the good stuff?

Anyway, as I was hunting for new reading material I decided to check out a few reviews of the Roosevelt book. Most agreed with my assessment, even offering more reasons why I should read it once again. Then, I came upon a wonderful little review comparing the book cover and a poster of a so-called celebrity and I was blown away.  

I laughed so hard there were tears in my eyes. Someone actually made the comparison between Roosevelt's situation in 1912, his response, and commitment, to this whiny-ass hip-hop dude in 2013.  It reminded me of the comment I read by Kanye West that he "is tougher than any soldier." More than anything, he believes his own lyrics, but most of all, his own hype. 

Here are the images, side-by-side.  Priceless.



If you are only slightly interested in American History and America's Politics you will enjoy this book.

And so it goes.
*


Saturday, February 22, 2014

New Blood and the Old Medical Merry-Go-Round

Turns out that I really, truly needed a transfusion yesterday.  Only had one unit on-hand.  Dizzy, short of breath, and nausea are usually the give-aways.  But, they came on fast, hard, and all at once.  Took a while to absorb the new juice and get balance back.

Because of the possible damage to my innards by the corticosteroid, a prescription for Protonix was called in, which they insist will protect the stomach and reduce acidity.  It's been years since I've had heartburn, gas, or indigestion.  Since changing my diet all that discomfort is a thing of the past.  But, I'll pick up the drug, JIC I do need it down the road.

On the way home I stopped at the Eye Institute on the off chance of getting a quick eye exam and prescription for new glasses.  Never been there before and I must say it is a horrible place, staffed by people with horrible attitudes, who have a rigid way of doing business - no diverting from the protocol set, seemingly, in stone. 

The interior looks more like a government building, or a bank.  Dark wood panelling, brass and leather everywhere, and a 'reception area' that looks like a series of bank teller windows. The women receptionists never made eye contact, half listened to a question, then interjected irrational company policy. Stifle all questions, why dontcha!

The only time I made eye contact was when I asked about quick exam and a copy of the prescription, which I would have filled elsewhere. She shot me a look as if I just said "I have pee'd on your rug here."  More rehashed rhetoric was all that was forthcoming. So, I left, as she yelled after me to fill out an application for an appointment which would take about a week to verify.

Application?  Verify?  

WTF!  I'm not looking for a fucking loan, lady, just new glasses. I waved her off. I wasn't about to go back for an explanation after the rude and arrogant behavior. All I need is an exam and prescription.  No $300.00 frames to go with them. I can order lenses and frames online - get 3 pair for less than that #300.00. Including overnight shipping for an extra $10.00. 

I snagged a bottle of Merlot to enjoy with supper least evening as I headed back to town. While I was pretty dizzy and uncomfortable I was going to pay another visit to the boardwalk before going home. It began to rain as I neared town however, so that put a damper (so to speak) on that idea. 

So, I've spent hours on the Google only to discover that I do, indeed, live in a wasteland for fast, convenient medical care. That includes eye care, too. Nothing within a 30 mille radius. The nearest big chain stores are in Philadelphia or Wilmington, and I am not in shape to make that drive. They also don't do exams anymore, but partner with Optometrists nearby, who perform the exams while the Lens Crafters or Sterling Optical folks only fill the prescriptions.  Nice set up - - - for them. 

Getting an appointment with local optometrists has proved fruitless.  Seems no one works on Saturdays or Tuesdays. (Are they Optometrists or Hairdressers?) Most don't even have an exam request line for a call back to schedule an appointment.

Annoying, to say the least.  But, yes - it is what it is.

Began gathering documents for the 2013 tax returns. Everything is chaotic here, though  I always try to keep all tax stuff together in one folder.  Made it about half way before getting really tired and the beginnings of a headache. I made a quick supper, had a glass of wine and felt better.  Was in bed and fast asleep by 8 pm.  Nice, that. 

After a nice breakfast, I finished gathering the tax stuff.  Packed it up, and got it ready for the Post Office on Monday. The PO closes at Noon on Saturdays. One more day isn't going to hurt. Besides, I'm feeling a lot better now. 

Today is absolutely stunning outdoors.  Blue sky, light breeze and a high of about 65'F.   I'll take it. I'll also take a ride down to the boardwalk for a little sunshine and warm breeze to end the week on a high note.

And so it goes.
*

TMI: THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE AIR


1. Do you have a sensitive nose?
Very.

2. Do you have allergies? 
Yes. Mostly seasonal.

3. Do you have a big nose? =}
Do you mean physically? No I do not have Cyrano's Nose. If you mean big as in nosey, gossipy, it's NO again.

4. Are there any smells that trigger memories for you?
Yes.  Plenty of them.

5. What are some of your favorite food aromas?
Bacon frying, Onions & garlic sautéed, fresh chopped cilantro, BarBQ, bread baking, freshly ground coffee. Popping Popcorn.

6. What are some of your favorite smells in nature?
Many flowers (peonies, carnations, roses), the salt air of the ocean, fresh cut grass, tilled soil. Old books.

7. Do you use air fresheners?
No. Open windows whenever possible does the trick. Occasionally I like a bit of incense, but not often. 

8. Do you like scented candles?
Only in Winter when home is shut, otherwise, no. I love candlelight, but not the additional scents, which usually overpower the natural air in the room.

9. Which food smells make you want to hurl?
I can't think of that ever happening to me.

10. What is the absolute worst smell for you?
Death. Rotting flesh.

BONUS
What smells or aromas turn you on?
At some point or other, all favorites listed above. 

And so it goes.

BIG Caturday



Don't mess with this Caturday Guy.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Wicked - Frozen

No, this isn't a post about recent winter weather (although it could be), it's more of a comparison about a similarity of 2 songs.  From 2 very different times, by 2 very different composers, and from 2 different art forms.

Let me explain.  As I was reading all the hoopla over the songs nominated for Oscars this year for Best Song, I happened upon the video of the song from Frozen.  "Let It Go" is a powerful, enchanting, magical, and mostly a song of determination and power.

As I watched and listened, I was suddenly in a flashback and immediately thought of another song. That song, "Defying Gravity" from the Broadway Musical "Wicked" is pretty much all of what I described above about "Let It Go" - at least to my mind.

The single thing the 2 songs have in common is that they are both vehicles for the fabulous Idina Menzel.  When I viewed the Frozen video, though the animated character is physically opposite of the real life Menzel, I could see her singing that song. 

I listened to the songs side by side, eyes closed, and the similarities just wouldn't go away.  Now, I don't know anything about Frozen, so I'm not aware of the context of "Let It Go", but I DO know that "Defying Gravity" centers on Elphaba (the green witch) coming to accept, embrace her powers - for good or evil.

Both songs are mesmerizing in their way, and I'd love to see Frozen (without lots of kids) to finally put my curiosity to rest. 

Here are videos of each song.  Defying Gravity sung in concert by Idina Menzel, of course. I chose this one because it is a solo, without the distractions of other performers interfering with the bottom line - the song.


And here the song Let It Go in context in the animated film, Frozen.  



You decide.  If you don't knoe either song, that's even better. What's your opinion? Any comments and additional insights will be happily accepted.

And so it goes.
*

Poking, Prodding, & Pickling

As you may remember, being neutropenic with compromised immune system, I am not allowed many fresh fruits and no vegetables - spinach, lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.. All veggies must be cooked to death, not my favorite way. Only fruit in thick skin or rind is allowed.  Melons, bananas, etc.  No berries, grapes, etc. No matter how much I wash them. Anyway, I love salads and it's been difficult to pass them by with my meals, or as meals. I would kill for a baby spinach, bacon, and hard cooked egg salad right now.  Never mind.

Over these past months of deprivation I've tried my hand at brining, and home pickling, but the results never quite measure up. I have little space for such. Something is always missing. While my flash-cooked cauliflower salads, beet salads, and asparagus salads are delicious, if I may say so, I've wanted other veggies with more zip and spice. 

I'm going to try something that may seem a little odd.  Putting fresh veggies into jars containing the marinade liquids from prepared salads and letting them pickle in that.  I'm hoping they will ferment well and, maybe not be as zippy as the original, be enough to alleviate any  contamination problem and satisfy my cravings.  

Today the experiment will begin with thin, baby green beans (once pickled they are perfect in Bloody Mary's or tomato juice with breakfast) celery hearts, and sweet red bell peppers. Beans and celery cut to same length, and peppers, seeded and  sliced lengthwise into wedges.  All going into 2 large jars containing the original pickling juice and spices.  They will marinate for about 2 weeks, turning them daily, and I'll see what develops. If you've tried this, or something similar, let me know about your results.

I had been in the mood to make a hearty winter chili, but with the rapid weather changes, I've put that on hold.  Yes, I have all ingredients and the final dish does freeze well, but Chili doesn't do it for me when the temps are to reach the low 60's, if you get my drift. 

Off to the lab now to get poked and prodded followed by a blood draw to determine if I'll need transfusing again tomorrow.  Of course, the likely answer will be, yes. 

I'll try to swing down to spend a few minutes on the boardwalk on the way home, just for the fresh air and warm breeze. Then it's home and veggie prep time for the marinades.

And so it goes.
*


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

R.I.P: DEVO's Bob Casale

Another magical musician has left us. 

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Devo guitarist Bob Casale died Monday, his brother and band mate announced Tuesday. Casale was 61. 
He was known by fans as "Bob 2" since he played alongside guitarist Bob Mothersbaugh, the brother of Devo co-founder Mark Mothersbaugh. 
"As an original member of Devo, Bob Casale was there in the trenches with me from the beginning," his brother Gerald Casale said in a Facebook posting. "He was my level-headed brother, a solid performer and talented audio engineer, always giving more than he got." 
The new-wave band began after Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh met as art students at Kent State University. The group wrote its first music in May 1970 -- the same month National Guard troops fired on antiwar protesters on the Kent State campus, killing four students. 
Devo actively toured in recent years, including a televised performance playing at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. 
"He was excited about the possibility of Mark Mothersbaugh allowing Devo to play shows again," Gerald Casale wrote in his brother's death announcement. "His sudden death from conditions that led to heart failure came as a total shock to us all." 
Mark Mothersbaugh issued a statement Tuesday saying he was "shocked and saddened" by Casale's death. "He not only was integral in Devo's sound, he worked over 20 years at Mutato, collaborating with me on 60 or 70 films and television shows, not to mention countless commercials and many video games," said Mothersbaugh.   
"Bob was instrumental in creating the sound of projects as varied as Rugrats and Wes Anderson's films. He was a great friend. I will miss him greatly."

Read the rest HERE.

And so it goes.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Humans are Pretty Good People.

Arrived at the supermarket just in time for a meltdown and showdown of sorts. Chicken breasts are on sale for 99 cents per pound - in packages of 3 pounds or more. The store manager, meat manager, butchers, were all involved in this one.  
Seems this nice old lady wanted the sale price, but a smaller package.  That's not how it works.  None of the sales are geared for single or elderly folks with limited storage space and income. 

I half listened as I did my other shopping and eventually moved on checking off my list carefully. Believe it or not, they were still at it when I returned.  You'd think the store manager would just give in and let her have the price on a smaller package.  No, it can't be done.  His hands were tied, poor guy.  It's computerized and the sale price will not kick in over the 3 pound limit. 

I stepped into the middle of all this as I was going to purchase those breasts myself. Received smiles from the manager, meat manager and butchers who know me well, as I grabbed a large package of the breasts. I turned to the woman who was caught between a rock and a hard place, and suggested that she purchase the larger package, take it home and separate the breasts into preferred portions and freeze them. I assured her - with the help of the butcher - that they would freeze well and be more easily managed in the smaller packages. 

She wasn't sold at first, but I explained that I was also single, with limited freezer space, had to choose my sale purchases carefully, and it was the best way to get around the much higher regular prices, (usually $3.00 per pound), that she wouldn't have to shop as often and could plan meals well in advance.  When I told her that I'd share a few quick recipes with her, she was thrilled with the idea. She bought a very large package and the management shared a sigh of relief.  I promised to get those recipes to her asap.  We exchanged info.

I spent some time enlightening the manager about the unfairness of many of the sales. Turns out, he had never even thought about the discrepancy before. An 8 pack of paper towels on sale for $6.00 while a 2-pack was $3.00. Not many of us have room for such a huge package, so we're actually subsidizing the sale by paying full price for the small packages. 

We eventually parted ways and by the time I was at the checkout the incident was known by the entire staff. They all teased me and asked for recipes and the like.  It was fun really, and I enjoy their humor and friendliness.

After brutally heavy rains overnight the sky is clear and the temps are in the 50s today, only adding to the feeling of well-being.  Unfortunately, I am still short of breath most of the time these days, so a walk on the beach is not an  option.  Still a few minutes on a bench at the boardwalk listening to the ocean will do a lot of good today.

So far - the fifth day on the new corticosteroid - there's been no adverse side effects to speak of. I was told that my appetite would increase, but that hasn't happened, yet.

Maybe it's the change in weather, but I've got a sudden craving for a Mint Julep.  Ha!  Fat chance.

And so it goes.
*


Monday, February 17, 2014

Cleanup, Connections, and Crazy Rednecks

Spent some time today cleaning up the old place a bit.  Needed a little fluffing up, you might say. Let me know what you think, or if it makes a difference in your viewing experience at all.
  • Enlarged the font size and changed the default. 
  • Added a little more colour to various sections.  
  • Updated the blogroll.
More to come when I figure out how to make those changes in the new Blogger. 

There were two new email messages from DL customers waiting for me today.  One sent a link to his new photo exhibit from his recent trip to New Orleans.  All in large format Black and White and all captured the city well. I replied telling him so, and sent links to NOLA music, food, and festival sites.It was the first visit for him and his wife and they fell in love.  Well, or course they did.!!

The other wasn't so uplifting.  Seems he was in a serious accident (thanks to a recent Snowstorm and asshole drivers) and following 5 days in hospital, will be recuperating at home for the next 4 weeks. Jeez!  And he writes to find out how I AM DOING!!  I wrote back with the latest, keeping it as positive as I could and telling him if he wants to chat, just give me a call.  I'm here pretty much all the time, anyway

I made it through the full moon without harming, or killing my neighbors.  The ones with the Duck Dynasty Welcome Mat on their porch, dontcha know. Seems they have a short memory about what is, and what is NOT recyclable in the state.  

They eat pizza. No, I mean THEY EAT PIZZA! Usually 2 or 3 large pies about 3 times weekly.  (She must be good in bed, 'cause she ain't much in the kitchen.) And, they insist on putting the empty boxes in the recycle bins.  They've been called on this in the past - many times - but it never seems to sink in.

The building manager called them on the carpet again, took out all the boxes, placed them at the foot of the stairs, and knocked on the door.  A loud argument ensued.  The male redneck stormed down the stairs, kicked and stomped the boxes all over the grounds as the female redneck sweetly asked him, "oh honey, come on now, stop."  You could tell her heart wasn't in it, though.  

The building manager even offered them a large heavy duty trash bag, in case they had never seen one before, but that only made him more crazed. So she finally left him to his own devices, screaming and stomping and carrying on.  He kicked his car, truck, and the building, too.

Having had enough, I put on a Disco CD and cranked up the volume - something I never do when anyone is in the building - and just let it rip as I prepared supper.  After that, all was quiet on the western front and the world was at peace once again.

When I went outdoors in the morning all pizza boxes were flat, stacked against one another and sitting by their regular trash can behind their stairs.  So, what was accomplished?  How long will this last?  Dunno, and me no care. 

It must be frustrating believing that you're the only important person in the world; that doing the right thing is for those OTHER people.  Yeah, well.

And so it goes.
*

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Feeling Good: Someday Is Today


Snow was a no-show yesterday, so I kept the transfusion appointment (at the Infusion Center, not Transfusion room as I've called it) and I must say it was quite liberating to be without that damned mask. Nice to smile and have folks notice. And they did notice. The nurses are the best and they get my sensahumah, bigtime.

The doctor and his assistant arrived and we began a discussion of the next move in my treatment care. The mere fact that I am going to begin positive treatment lifted my spirits enormously. If you've dealt with a life-threatening, life-altering health issue, I am sure you know what I mean.

We're starting off with a corticosteroid for about 6 weeks to look for positive changes to the blood and kidney functions.   Half way through that, we'll begin a regimen of a low dose Chemo (not sure if IV or oral form yet) that will be administered here, not 60 miles away.  A definite plus in  my book.

That treatment will consist of scheduled doses - on 5 consecutive days -  administered at the Center each month for 4 to 6 months and see what happens. My time in public will be limited and my immune system will be compromised considerably. I will be pretty much isolated, yet again. Well, it IS Chemo, after all.

Prescriptions for the steroid and folic acid tabs were picked up at the pharmacy on the way home last evening and treatment started today.  There are beaucoup side effects possible with these drugs, but that's the chance I'm willing to take, for now.

The hospital Pharmacist, and their Medicare liaison joined the group and provided a possible reason for the big guys at Hopkins and UPenn passing on my case. I would be up for Medicare approval for an Allogeniac transplant.  This means the stem cells wouldn't be a perfect match, making it more dangerous and time-consuming.  The explanation may lie in that Medicare considers non-matched transplants as "experimental" and not proven, and therefore wouldn't cover their cost of the procedure and subsequent intensive care.

I can understand this. It is a lot to ask for such a risky procedure, so maybe I'm better off going this route after all. I mean, I don't have much of a choice in the matter anyway. So, sit back and do what I'm told, and see what happens. As the Beatles sang: Life goes on within you and without you.

Sent a text to the locosguys, and Linda detailing the news; they were surprised and thrilled to hear that - at least something was moving forward.

Sleep was a no-show last night, as well. Midnight found me wide awake reading a new book.  Dunno why.  Maybe I was just excited by the change of direction of my medical care.  Still, I awoke at the usual time and none the worse for the lack of sleep.  I feel well rested, that's for sure.

A visit to the restaurant is on the gay agenda for tomorrow to spend some time with my peeps.  This will be the first time without the mask in 5 months and I am anxious to talk and breathe freely, and be out and about again. It has been a long time.

And so it goes.
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Earworm: Scotch & Soda

For some reason this old favorite has been in my mind and on my lips all week. Don't know why. May be the full moon.

I knew things were out of hand when I woke from a dream this morning. In this dream, I was singing this song, accompanied by the original artists - The Kingston Trio - in an old long-gone Folk Coffee House in the Village in NYC.

It was then that I knew I had to act; find the damned song and post it just to get a little peace. Not surprisingly, the song and the singer's raspy vocal hold up well after 50 years.

I've played various versions all day, and this one is my favorite and closest to the original as I remember it.

And so it goes.
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A Caturday Truth


Yeah, Right!

More later.
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Friday, February 14, 2014

Thursday, February 13, 2014

PAX, Prejudice, and Possibilities

Well, PAX turned out to be a dud here.  It fizzled
when the sleet and freezing rain turned to all rain at about 2 am, as the temperature shot up to 42'F! How do I know this? I was awake and reading when I noticed the change in sound. (Why I was awake and reading at that hour is a story for another post.)

Though we're not out of the woods yet (if forecasters are to be believed and I think they are not) snow remains in the forecast overnight tonight - possibly dumping about 3" by morning.

In any case, with temps rising into the 40s again tomorrow, looks like we dodged another one at the beach.  It's only a matter of time, I know…  We'll probably get a one-two punch around Easter just to piss everyone off. Mother Nature is like that, you know.

As I made it to the center for Lab work and the doctor consult this afternoon the rain gradually stopped completely, but the winds kicked up to about 25 mph making it feel colder than that 42'F. 
Lab. Results:
The bad news - the hemoglobin very low, so another transfusion is scheduled for tomorrow.
The good news - the neutrofil count is back in the normal range - around 1300 - so I can remove the mask for a while, at least.  
That in itself, is a psychological triumph for me.  Of course, things change from week to week, so I have to be made aware of any dips in those total numbers as labs are done every week.

During our meeting the doctor displayed appropriate fake outrage at the actions of the honchos at Hopkins and UPenn.  It was thoughtful, but we both knew he was well aware of this sort of thing happening iall the time.  I didn't call him on it.  I mean...What would be the point?

Instead, realizing that he was saddled with me - for better or worse - we discussed treatment options that can be administered locally. We hashed out a number of options and will finalize the strategy tomorrow while I'm receiving the transfusion. 

One treatment begins with a steroid and dissolves into a mild Chemo over 4 to 6 weeks. Each treatment option has it's potential problems and vile side effects, but I am wasting away alone in the apartment anyway, so why not give it a go. Both options will knock me out of commission for at least 4 weeks, but considering the past 5 months, that's not much more of a loss. Especially if the results are favorable.

All in all, a day's events mostly in the plus column. No use of the mask for now, and the promise of some sort of treatment to begin soon.  Maybe even as soon as tomorrow afternoon.  

Today gave me something positive to hold on to; to get me through another day. My hope is that the stars continue to align in my favor and tomorrow's meetings will result in a promising new beginning.  

It's now 5:30 pm.  The rain has begun again, coming down in buckets. It's time to decide what to prepare for supper and then settle in for the night.

And so it goes.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

No PAX from PAX.

OK, all you folks north and west of here in a panic over winter storm "PAX" about to blow through: please revise your shopping lists to items that will actually be of use in an emergency. Scratch off the stuff that requires cooking. 

When the power goes out, unless you have a small camp stove/cooking burner, an old fondue set that uses sterno - or you're good with candles -  coffee, tea, eggs, oatmeal, canned ravioli, chili, or corned beef hash will not feed your family.

Think more PB&J, cheese and crackers, and other healthy snacks like fresh (or canned) fruit, and really…how much toilet paper do you need?  I am sure you still have an ample supply from the last storm, so unless you have an Army Battalion bivouacked in your basement, save your money for stuff that matters.  

And don't even think about buying the ingredients to make S'mores. Nobody will be in the mood to sing "Kumbaya" anyway.  This ain't no camp-out. No fire, no ghost stories. This is serious, people.

Did you buy extra blankets, wraps, comforters, after being unprepared for the last storm?  How about batteries for radios and flashlights?  How about a battery or crank-up weather radio? These remarkable devices can also charge your cell phone, if you are willing to crank enough.  And somehow, I think most of you would be willing to do that.  Although if the ice is thick and heavy enough, the cell sites may be unavailable.

As for us here at the beach, a mix is due to begin this afternoon into the night. If the temps remain as forecast, we'll be in little or no danger.  Of course, that could change at any time, so prepare for any possibility.

And before you even ask, no, my being gay has nothing to do with these storms or climate change.  We gay folks have taken the wrap for way too many natural disasters in recent years.  No!  Like it or not, this is the wave of the future.  So deny it, or deal with it.  Your choice.

Just trying to help here, folks.

And so it goes.



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Shirley Temple - R.I.P.


"I stopped believing in Santa Claus at the age of six when my mother took me to see him in a store and he asked for my autograph." - Shirley Temple

During the depression she kept many people from being depressed and saved her studio from Bankruptcy. 
Hollywood star Shirley Temple has died at the age of 85, her family has said. 
The actress found fame as a child star in the 1930s in films like Bright Eyes, Stand Up and Cheer and Curly Top. 
She died on Monday at home in Woodside, California, from natural causes. "She was surrounded by her family and caregivers," a statement said. 
Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-26135627 
(This famous number with Bojangles - The Little Colonel - was quite an eye-opener for many reasons.  She kept up with him step or matched step. Love it!)

And so it goes.
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Monday, February 10, 2014

The World's Longest Joke

Honest.  I've come to this. 

Well, what else does one do when the winter wonderland has passed you by and the winter worldofsuck has closed in, instead?  

Well, one may want to waste spend some time reading the longest joke in the world.

I am not kidding.  I wish I was. I survived it and you can, too.  But, do you have the desire and patience to do so?

Leave a comment and let me know what you think.  No, really.

And so it goes.
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Sunday, February 9, 2014

No Epiphany Here

Having spent the past few days allowing the reality of American Healthcare sink in, I've gotten over the anger, though not the frustration.  I've come to accept the image at left as a possible truth.

I've dutifully taken all the meds on schedule, rested more than necessary, and tried to maintain a fair appetite.  Not always successful on that score. I get cravings, but cannot face the idea of standing at the counter doing all the prep.  Just not worth it.

When weighed last week, I'd lost another 1.5 lb.. I purchased some easier / faster to prepare foods, including a few frozen dishes - what's the difference, I can't taste much, anyway - and more packaged fruits as snacks. Trouble is, I don't get the snacking urge that I did in the past, when a bunch of grapes, strawberries, or an apple set me up for the afternoon. 

Been reading a bit, too.  I finished Theodore Roosevelt & the Assassin: Madness, Vengeance, and the Campaign of 1912 yesterday and was very pleased with it.  As a story-teller, the author, Gerard Helferich, did a great job holding my interest and keeping me engaged, page after page. I knew the basic story, but the added historical elements made the story stand out for me. If you're into historical stories, 20th century American politics, (accurately documented and detailed) you might want to give this a read.  

As usual for me, I'm finding it hard to get into another book. If I've just finished a really good one, it's not easy to find another one that grabs me right away.  A few new downloads on the Kindle, but they'll have to wait.

Speaking of reading, as you may know I get a lot of my news from The Guardian, so it was nice to see they've added their very understated comment to the Russian crackdown on LGBT people.  I love their new logo. 

All of that being said, I really must get my eyes (and head) examined. I need a new prescription in the worst way.  Can't even find an Optometrist willing to do an exam. They're scared off by the surgical mask, telling me to come back when the mask is history.  Well, that's not going to happen any time soon, now is it? 

My buddy, Deb, gave me the name of an Ophthalmologist not far from here, so I'll make the call, fill them in on the mask issue and see what they say.  I won't be driving 20 miles only to be rejected again.

Sure it may cost more, but I'm worth it and it's either that, or register for a cane and service dog.  

Meanwhile, a few EoY tax documents are yet to arrive and once they do, I'll get everything to Natalie so she can do the deed. There ought to be a nice refund this year, not having worked since August, 2013, but we'll see. 

As I've said before, I've learned to expect nothing so if something positive does come to pass, it will be a happy surprise.

One final note.  This morning, as I was quietly gaining consciousness, I thought about looking into Acupuncture therapy. Dunno why! I've had friends who swear by the treatments, though I'm not sure if my situation would be treatable.  After what I've experienced in these last 6 months, I have no fear of pain or needles. It may not amount to anything positive, but Hey, what have I got to lose?  Other than more pain, and larger needles, that is.

I've  been given two recommendations that I will call  beginning tomorrow.  Both have studios elsewhere and only in the area 2 or 3 days weekly, so setting up an appointment may be a bit difficult.  We'll see.

And so it goes.

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Caturday Toys




It's always the little things that make us happiest.

And so it goes.
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Friday, February 7, 2014

Fuck You, Hoffman!


OK, let's be clear here. As I'm struggling to stay alive you go out and buy 70 bags of street heroin to enjoy a few kicks and maybe do yourself in. You knew that was always an option, didn't you. A bit cheeky, don't you think?  No?

Listen, you arrogant, self absorbed son of a bitch; YOU were 20 years my junior with great talent and an exploding career - - - and you threw it all away.  I read the loving crap being said about you and I feel nothing. That's not true.  I still feel something.  Pure ANGER. 

And don't tell me you had problems.  Yes, like you're the only one.  Come here and let me punch your "Tough Shit" card! Your problems are commonly known as "the human condition" suffered by anyone who can breathe and experience complex thoughts.

You had access to all the best treatment, but as we all know, treatment isn't helpful unless the patient really wants it to work.  Of course, you already knew that, didn't you.
   
Being denied access to treatment by some top medical talent, as my body breaks down, I will not even be allowed the dignity of assisted suicide.  So maybe, just maybe, I could hit you up for a few of those extra bags of H you won't be needing anymore?  Just a thought.  There won't be anyone offering a loving eulogy for me, that's for sure.

Your cowardice disgusts me.  

I'm done.

And so it goes.
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Healthcare Only Money Can Buy!


The results are in.  We do not have a winner.

Specialists in stem cell research and surgery in 3 of the east coast's best institutions have refused treatment. They will not even see me for evaluation to consider one of the three options suggested for a future course of treatment. 

They will not see me because I don't have personal insurance - only Medicare - even though Medicare will pay for 80% of whatever course treatment is chosen. Told straight away (no beating around the bush) to the oncology coordinator working to secure such a meeting. Blatant discrimination?  Maybe, but it is what it is. And sadly, it's not uncommon.

This shocked the coordinators handling my case.  They couldn't believe what they were hearing. The person who told me was near tears as she related her conversations with various staffers of the specialists in question.

Only one specialist offered to see me, provided I paid my 20% up front.  Makes no sense, I know, because how much would a simple office consultation and evaluation cost.  That said, they wouldn't suggest treatment options unless I signed a waiver relieving them of any blame should their suggested option cause my death.  What?  Yes, I know.

Originally, the three treatment options were, 1) An Allogeneic Stem Cell (non-matching) transplant, 2) take part in a recurring JAK-2 Study dedicated to people suffering with myelodysplastic syndrome, and 3) Vidaza, a mild chemo, I gather, given by IV or injection 5 consecutive days monthly. It has been successful in treating certain types of bone marrow and blood cell disorders.

That's all we were asking for in the consultation.  A sort of second opinion, so to say. No more and no less.  But...No go.

At this point it appears the option has already been chosen for me. The Vidaza treatments can be administered locally, so no traveling to Maryland or Pennsylvania 5 days every month.

The treatments, if successful, would begin to show any improvement in 3 to 5 months after treatments begin. I have an appointment to see the oncologist next week to discuss the situation. My gut feeling is that he was looking for someone else to make the decision for treatment, but now it's back in his lap.  

Having another phone conversation with the coordinator this morning, I suggested that Vidaza was the best option all round. She agreed and said she would pass that information on to the doctor. 

On an Historical Note: For many years I had my own health coverage through NY Life and it was excellent coverage for the times. Then, in 1996 my partner of 20 years, was offered domestic partner benefits through his employer. At this point we were in great health, owned a home in NJ and a town-home in Rehoboth, so it was decided to drop the additional expense of my policy with NY Life and go with the other plan.  It provided better coverage and a lower co-pay for just about everything.  Ten years later he walked out and the insurance coverage went with him.   The End!

Yesterday was another day spent at the Center; first for blood draw, CBC count, and then another transfusion. Many of the nurses, having already heard the rejection stories, assured me that they were not surprised - had heard it all before - and shared my opinion regarding the Vidaza treatments.  That was comforting.  I guess I'm on the right track, at least in my own mind.  

I mean, what options are left to me?

I turned off music in the car, drove home in silence, chose supper food, then made a very, very, very large martini - with 3 olives!  It didn't kill me.  In fact, I felt one hell of a lot better during and after the cocktail.

And so it goes.

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Sochi Olympic Surprises

Imagine my surprise when I logged in to Chrome this morning and spotted this.


I found this backhanded slap yesterday.  Love that BBC 4.  Sorry, that's Channel 4, an independent, commercial station.
(h/t to Raybeard for the correction.)


How the world has changed.

More later.
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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Card of the month - February 2014

I ought to have seen this coming from the trials encountered already and stumbling blocks put in place to block progress. Energy is needed in great quantities this month, to be sure.

And so it goes.
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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Film as Franchise

I'm curious about when film-making became an investment in what to me, boils down to a TV mini-series franchise mentality. It seems so often these days that whole companies of actors are contracted for a series of films based on one or two books (with the promise of more to come).  Lord of the Rings excluded, because everyone knew it was an original trilogy so it had to be told in three films, of course.  And I give Peter Jackson major props for his attention to detail.

That said,  think of The Hobbit, a small children's book being squeezed so tight to get all the blood out of that poor shriveled up turnip is simply wrong. And it looks like it's showing in box office numbers. I know of few sequels - or prequels - that ever reached the popularity of the original.  No, I won't go into my theories about this.

I also see that these mini-series productions can become even more of a headache when a cast member already under contract - with major scenes already shot, in the can, for the next installment - suddenly up and dies. Two recent episodes come to mind as I read about the financial investments being lost due to this turn of events.

The stupid, accidental death of Paul Walker. 
The stupid, accidently-on-purpose death of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

While Hoffman's final scenes may be saved using CG techniques, Walker is another story entirely.  Seems he WAS the franchise.

What good is a committed audience if one of the characters suddenly buys the farm? No good at all. A complete waste of money - up front money, at that. Willy-nilly and gone with the wind, as it were. 

To be honest, I don't know much about "Fast & Furious" (it wasn't my kind of entertainment) whether the book came first or was released after the initial film more than a dozen years ago. But, no matter. 

I was aware of the Hunger Games books, and later, the Twilight series.  My attempts to read the former were frustrated by my annoying ability to predict what was going to happen before turning the page. Except for a few quirky bits perfect for special effects there were no surprises there. Chalk it up to my younger years reading science fiction, fantasy, and post-apocalyptic novels.  

It was only after I began reading Twilight that I learned (the hard way) that the books were written for those reading at a 6th grade level. OK, colour me embarrassed, especially since I had seen older adults clutching one of the series in their hands while in public. Teenage vampires!  Who knew?

To make a film in the past, rights were purchased, scripts developed, casting took place; then shooting, editing, postproduction, advertising, distribution and the finished product was on its own. Sink or swim.  Good or bad. This was before television, to be sure. After TV took off all bets were off and many times theatrical trailers were more entertaining than the actual films they promoted.  But that's a story for another time.

As the old studio system was breaking down, Stanley Kramer wanted Spencer Tracy for a certain film he was planning to make. But Tracy was breaking down, too. His health had been deteriorating for some time and no one, bank or studio, would insure he'd make it through the shoot.  So, in order to make the film Kramer and Katherine Hepburn offered their own salaries as collateral for Tracy's performance.

Tracy made it through the shoot (dying less than 3 weeks later) and the film went on to win quite a few awards.  The film, of course, is "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" - a testament to great filmmaking and the folks who made them. They don't make people like that anymore.

Under the studio system, if a film did well, there was a chemistry between co-stars, and  well developed characters, the studio might bring them together for another film, but hardly ever a sequel. It stood alone with a beginning - a middle - and end.  Period! Same genre, same characters with a new story and set of circumstances. I can think of a number of these, can you?  They're as refreshing and original today as they were in first release. 

With the reels and reels of cinematic drivel in the multiplex these days, I'll keep the $12.00, enjoy films like Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Thin Man, and others that serve up crisp dialogue, great camera work, superior acting, and wonderful stories that challenge my mind, if only a little. Car chases and vampires - not so much.

Checking the current listings at my local cineplex there are only two films that interest me.  The Dallas Buyers Club (one showing only late evening) and Saving Mr. Banks.  

Here are the other offerings to whet your appetite for more: I, Frankenstein on 2 screens.  The Nut Job & Nut Job 3-D on 3 screens. Gravity 3-D on 2 screens. Frozen & Frozen sing-a-long on 2 screens.  I rest my case.  Enuf said!

Hope I got my idea and observations across.  It's been a rough few days and the painkillers are the only meds helping me make it through the daylight hours. 

And so it goes.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Being Boring

Yes, that's it!  Pet Shop Boys! Aside from additional boring medical mishugas, I've nothing more to offer other than this.  The opening song of their "Behavior" album, and the closing number of this concert a few years ago.

It's telling to me that - after a 2-hour concert - Neil chose to sing this one live, and alone. To me, this is their most personal and moving piece.  "Behavior" is in the car player at this time and this seemed to fit my mood of the last few days.

I hope you listen to the lyrics, and remember,  and enjoy.


And so it goes.
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Monday, February 3, 2014

Philip Seymour Hoffman - Dead



Wake me when the tired, repetitive personal tributes, and exclamations of shock and surprise are over.

Me?  I can summon only two feelings - Frustration and ANGER!

Mr. Hoffman deserves neither.

More later.


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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Maximilian Schell: R.I.P.


One of the finest actor/directors and most beautiful men to ever grace the screen is gone. He starred in a few of my faves, and even won a well-deserved Oscar for one of them -Judgment at Nuremberg.  To my mind one of the best films ever produced. 

VIENNA (AP) — Austrian-born actor Maximilian Schell, a fugitive from Adolf Hitler who became a Hollywood favorite and won an Oscar for his role as a defense attorney in "Judgment at Nuremberg," has died. He was 83. 
Schell's agent, Patricia Baumbauer, said Saturday he died overnight at a hospital in Innsbruck following a "sudden and serious illness," the Austria Press Agency reported.
It was only his second Hollywood role, as defense attorney Hans Rolfe in Stanley Kramer's classic "Judgment at Nuremberg," that earned him wide international acclaim.
 
Schell's impassioned but unsuccessful defense of four Nazi judges on trial for sentencing innocent victims to death won him the 1961 Academy Award for best actor. Schell had first played Rolfe in a 1959 episode of the television program "Playhouse 90." 
Despite being type-cast for numerous Nazi-era films, Schell's acting performances in the mid-1970s also won him renewed popular acclaim, earning him a best actor Oscar nomination for "The Man in the Glass Booth" and a supporting actor nomination for his performance alongside Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave and Jason Robards in "Julia." 
The son of Swiss playwright Hermann Ferdinand Schell and Austrian stage actress Noe von Nordberg, Schell was born in Vienna on Dec. 8, 1930 and raised in Switzerland after his family fled Germany's annexation of his homeland. 
Schell followed in the footsteps of his older sister Maria and brother Carl, making his stage debut in 1952. He then appeared in a number of German films before relocating to Hollywood in 1958. 
By then, Maria Schell was already an international film star, winning the best actress award at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival for her performance in "The Last Bridge."
Maximilian made his Hollywood debut in Edward Dmytryk's "The Young Lions," a World War II drama starring Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift and Dean Martin.
 
Schell later worked as a producer, starting with an adaptation of Franz Kafka's "The Castle," and as a director."First Love," adapted from the Igor Turgenev novella — which Schell wrote, produced, directed and starred in — was nominated for an Oscar in the best foreign film category in 1970. "The Pedestrian," another movie under Schell's direction and production, received the same nomination three years later. 
Perhaps Schell's most significant film as a director was his 1984 documentary on Marlene Dietrich, "Marlene," which was nominated for a best documentary Oscar. Dietrich allowed herself to be recorded but refused to be filmed, bringing out the most in Schell's talent to penetrate images and uncover reality. 
Schell was also a highly successful concert pianist and conductor, performing with such luminaries as Claudio Abbado and Leonard Bernstein, and with orchestras in Berlin and Vienna. 
In the 1990s, Schell made appearances in films including "The Freshman," ''Telling Lies in America" and "Deep Impact." In 1992, he received a Golden Globe for his supporting role as Lenin alongside Robert Duvall in the 1992 HBO miniseries "Stalin". 
In a documentary entitled "My Sister Maria," Schell portrayed his loving relationship with his sister, who died in 2005.
I still get a kick out of Topkapi, though it's not aged well it still holds one's attention; and Nuremberg is a must-watch at least once a year.

Thanks, Max.  And so it goes.
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