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Friday, May 22, 2015

No More Tears

An acquaintance on Facebook writes:
I'm thankful for tears that come—sometimes quite unexpectedly and sometimes in moments when I know they will happen. I often blame it on menopause, with all of the raging hormones that brings.
At the ‘GBH site, there’s a great (short) post by Therese J. Borchard entitled 7 Good Reasons to Cry Your Eyes Out.

The first reason she notes is that tears help us see. Yes indeedy.

They keep my cornea (yours too but with your own damn tears) all slippery smooth which is how they’re supposed to be. Not enough tears and the old cornea gets pitted, sad and stops working. Yeah, blindness. Ever since that big op, ten years ago, where the big bad acoustic neuroma (two actually and they were mother fuckers—Great White Whale sized) were yanked and I became officially deaf, I’ve had Dry Eye.  That is, there's been little to no tear action to lubricate, nourish the peeper on my left side. Warum? Eh, the good cutter had his hands full of nerve bundles, brains and tumors. Shit happens and this, this was a very small side effect.

To stave off blindness, I use eye drops during the day and some extra special goop at night and sometimes I wear a pirate patch too. Hey, it looks cool, it’s fun AND it protects my eye on windy days.

Other reasons Borchard notes are that tears kill bacteria and remove toxins. You can find out more about this at the link.

Tears also emancipate pent up emotions which, in turn, lowers stress levels. Good shit, n'est-ce pas?

I used to cry, seemingly, at the drop of a hat. Elementary school tormentors  called me a cry baby. I was ashamed of the ease with which I fell into Sobsville. This didn’t stop when I entered adulthood. Nope. I’d cry when I got really angry. Waterworks, though slight, would begin  while watching inspirational feats. Yes, I’d get choked up while watching the Boston Marathon, peace rallies and other protests for social justice. I’d weep in movies. Hell’s, sometimes I was a flood zone from start to finish. The flick Truly Madly, Deeply came out shortly after my BFF, Kevin, croaked. I’m glad I saw that sucker by myself—I could’ve easily drowned anyone sitting within three seats of me.

Why can’t I cry anymore? Is it because of that surgery? I don’t think so. The tear ducts of my right eye are still operational. I’m not trying to be the tough guy stoic either. Honest.

As Jen put it, it feels like there’s a giant weight, all balled up, but you can't release it. Yup.

A good cry would be healthy.

Back, in college, when I was at my parent's place, I came downstairs to see my folks at the dining room table looking mega serious. They stopped me on my way to the rain room and said they had bad news. A family friend’s son, who was near my age, had committed suicide. I was stunned and made to dash out of the room. Daddy said “Go, have a good cry.” As I exited, I heard my mother chastise Pop, thinking he was being callous. No, Daddy was telling me he understood and it was OK to do what I needed to do. Break free the horror, pain, shock and mega sad that was was trying to get outta my chest like some emotional Alien.

Jen again:
Heavy shit, hard to imagine it will ever feel better...

I'm envious of my Facebook bud.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I'll take doofusosity for 500, Alex.

Yesterday The Amazing Bob had a follow up appointment with his heart dude.  I had it down in my calendar for 11 AM. TAB had gotten reminder phone calls telling him 11 AM. After this, I received an email saying the consult’d been shifted to 2 PM. I responded. I acknowledged the change.

And then what happened Madame Doofus? Not only did I fail to update the calendar, I totes forgot about the switch.


We'd arrived at Mass General on the early side as it was. Traffic along 93 is always a gamble so we'd allotted extra extra time for the trek in. Yes we were early. Now, three and a half hours so, in fact.


What to do? What to do? We considered heading home, returning for the later time, but that'd add another two hours in traffic to the day (for a total of four).

Instead, we went down to the cafeteria for a late brekkie/early lunch and newspaper perusaling. Yup, that killed an hour. NOW what? If it was just me, I would’ve gone for a long walk around Beacon Hill but TAB’s got a bad back so not into long walks plus he’s still weak from chemo. We couldn’t just sit there for two hours though—that'd make us crazy (OK, more).

What to do, what to do?

I commandeered a wheelchair and, not unlike Bloom County’s Cutter John (sans penguin, etc.), we zoomed off. Granted, I was pushing versus riding and we failed to achieve warp speed (purely due to the corridors of MGH being so crowded…of course) but we were still off and more or less running.

So then, I got exercise and TAB got a grand tour of the more obscure, hidden hallways of our fine, HUGE hospital. Win/win-ish.

We ended the journey back at Doc Drachman’s office, ready for TAB’s meeting. By now we were both crankily impatient. After waiting 15 minutes, I asked the receptionist How late is the good doctor running today? She investigated and gave us the bad news—it’d be another hour.

Nope. No can do. We rescheduled and motored home. Naturally, par for the day, we hit some seriously heinous homeward bound traffic. This, once again, confirmed my belief that it is always rush hour on 93.

OOF! Oof, oof, oof.

What have I learned from this little debacle? That I need to update my damn calendar as soon as there's a change. IMMEDIATELY! No delay.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Design Geek

As I motor about town, running errands, I find myself noticing a lot of pretty heinous advertising, promo and ancillary signage.

There’s DG’s Lawn Service. Why is serious about service in quotes? Did someone say that about them? If so, how about naming them? Does DG mean this as snark. As in “yeah right, we’re “serious about service””—I doubt that’s the case but, ya know, the scare quotes cause me to wonder.

Sweeney Brothers with it’s tag line “Home for Funerals.” What? Is this like Home Depot only for dead folk and their families?
I get it, everyone wants a catchy tag-line, something to really grab the mark’s attention. Still, even if you don’t have a big marketing budget or you've given your sister’s kid, who’s taking biz 101 at the local junior college, a shot, you really ought to show that line around. And be daring, ask the opinion of folks who aren’t inclined to praise you at ever turn.

I wonder what Olive Garden’s excuse is? This ad popped up on my screen the other day. This is, I guess, just one of their new tag-lines, used in their desperate attempt to recapture customers.

So, I “deserve” Olive Garden with their high calorie/sodium /saturated fat meals? I deserve to eat at a chain restaurant whose profits don’t go into the local economy but back to some corporate center with their mega bucked CEOs?

What should they say though? “You deserve good, healthy food served in smart portions but, well, we’re all about excess, salt and fat so, hey, come on in and order that app and dessert  too.” Somehow, I doubt that’d be the most effective marketing strategy. Plus, too many words.

Being in the print industry, doing design/layout, I get kind of snitty about fonts. I see poor choices and other craziness everywhere…..or so it seems on some days

In the parking lot of our local Lowe’s, I came across this shopping cart return stall. “Return” is in Rage Italic. Really. Rage Italic for a shopping cart sign at Lowe’s. Sure, it’s one of the more easily readable of the decorative script fonts BUT on a sign whose purpose is mundane yet important, it makes best sense (for the end user—the customer) to employ an instantly readable typeface. Arial Black mebbe?

This smacks, to me, of a young bored designer at their corporate office who wanted to make a splash. Fine. Lovely. Go find a gig where your creative expression makes more sense.

I only mention it but I totes love A Trip To Hell And Back (the font, not the adventure!) but I’m not gonna use it for anything other than the title of an appropriate doc (say, one on the gritty awesomeness of Imperator Furiosa) Maybe not even then. OK, a confession. I used it for the sign on our mailbox. It’s the typeface in which The Amazing Bob and my names appear. The mailman knows we live here. It’s OK that it’s not immediately clear.

A minor, personal, font kvetch—see these two salons? RIGHT next door to each other? The type choice for their names says everything I need to know. Maybe. The one on the right uses some fat, juvenile, trite script font whereas the one on the left uses Helvetica Neue—understated, sleek, mature. OK, it’s one of my favs.

Maybe the folks at 1604 Salon & Spa are brittlely over serious fashionistas. Perhaps the folks at Fancy Salon are ham-handedly artless bourgeoisie. I won’t know unless I pas their respective thresholds.

Wanna be a font geek too? This page from the good folks at Perdue will help. Gosh, I’m so helpful, eh?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Fury Road Review

I’ll just betcha you’re all wondering about Mad Max: Fury Road—was it the blissfully escapist celluloid extravaganza that I’d been aching for?

The answer is both ABSOLUTELY and eh, not so much.

I don’t recall the first Mad Max being so shockingly, gruesomely grotesque. To say that this post-apocalyptic vision was disturbingly bleak is an understatement of mammoth proportions. This isn’t a prettified, everything’s-gonna-end-well, pepsi-sponsored, blockbuster summer flick vision of the future. And, by the by, there’s little to no humor to relieve the terror inspiring phantasm. OK, possibly there was and I missed it. Once again, I found it monster challenging to read the captions AND watch all the intense beauty and action on the big screen at the same time.

In this possible future, the bullies, the cretins, the horrifically vile, twisted monsters have won. In this barbaric desert world women are “prized” for their ability to crank out the bairn and provide milk. Yes, we're cows. Livestock. Apart from that, we’re (over-identify much, Donna?) just more rabble slaves in Immortan Joe’s (Hugh Keays-Byrne) kingdom.

Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) is the movie’s hero. Her goal is to get back to the childhood home (the Green Place) from which she was kidnapped and take Immortan Joe’s child brides with her—his breeding stock. She’s rescuing them and herself.

It was unclear to me how she, a woman in this testosterone heavy, impossibly cruel world would get the prestigious gig of war-rig driver. I assumed she was just that much more of a bad ass than every penised human around.

She was. Boy howdy, was she ever! She mostly rocked a whole silent warrior on a mission thing. Clint Eastwood in High Plans Drifter comes to mind. She was focused and driven. Furiosa would succeed.

While it's surely true that Mad Max: Fury Road is, primarily, one monumental road battle, it’s so much more. It's a gorgeously ugly, epic fairly tale of the Grimm sort.

Donna Dickens@MildlyAmused framed my first concerns, my I’ll-walk-out-if-it’s-like-this ‘tude in her post 7 ways ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ sublimely subverts movie sexism
I’ll be honest. When I first heard the plot of “Fury Road” involved five women escaping from Immortan Joe’s harem — and that the film was rated R — I considered skipping it. To me, it was obvious shorthand for “We’re going to abuse women on screen for your entertainment.” And in a lesser movie, that would’ve been the case.
Yes. This. The super model beautiful child brides struck me, at first, as delicate does incapable of fighting for their own survival. Nope. Rather, if they had been, they evolved right quick, becoming fellow glorious warriors.

Go read Dicken's column it’s awesome.

What did Jen and Oni think of the flick? TOTALLY hated it. Jen was wickedly squicked out by the extreme carnival sideshow ghoulishness. Oni would say nothing more than that it was a well made crappy movie (he was frowning and really reaching for something positive to say). I think they were both a little horrified.

So, um, I guess I owe them one.

Monday, May 18, 2015

...and then what happened?

On May 18th in:
1652—Rhode Island enacts 1st law declaring slavery illegal 
1852Massachusetts rules all school-age children must attend school
1860—Republican Party nominates Abraham Lincoln for president
1897Dracula, a novel by Irish author Bram Stoker is published.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Stress Management

I’m not managing my stress well lately and, boyhowdy, I’ve got a whole shit-ton or three of it.

I’ve fallen off the wagon with my usual tools. Mainly, diet and exercise.

No, I’ve not begun taking all my meals at Cheesecake Factory nor have I become a booze guzzling fish but there’s def been a french fry or 50 who’ve snuck under the radar and I maybe, OK, yes certainly, indulged in a martini or two.

Exercise has always been helpful in the War on Stress but, with all that’s been going on over the last couple of weeks, I’ve only triked a couple of times. I need to do that and a host of stretching exercises every single damn day.

Yes, yes, yezzzzz, I will get back on track but there are other ways to cope as well. Such as this—sitting in a dark movie theater with a big bag of popcorn (UNbuttered because, c’mon, there’s only so decadent I can be—rilly), watching some big Hollywood action, adventure.
Joe in 3-D!!!

Yesterday, my buddy Joe and I went to the cinema down in Braintree where every single viewing room has captioning AND the seats are all giant, soft, reclining, womb like things. Cozy doesn’t even begin to convey how awesome this is. What did we see? Avengers: Age of Ultron. Sadly but unsurprisingly, I nodded off in the first half but the second had all the escapism I could’ve wanted. Given that Joss Whedon (of Buffy, Angel, Firefly and more fame. Duh) wrote the damn thing, I wished that I could’ve paid more heed to the captions. With so many awesome explosions and superheroes getting there freak on, I mostly just watched. Who can read captions when Iron Man is about to go up against Ultron?

Today I’ll head back over to the multiplex with Jen and Oni. We’re gonna see Mad Max: Fury Road.

Hilariously and predictably, there’s been much agony, whining, gnashing of teeth and various pixel abuses from the Men’s Rights brigades. It seems this time Max is a chick. Ooh, the burn!

In his usual fabulous and mega brill manner, Tbogg has this covered:
Clarey is calling for a boycott (mancott?) of the film lest Hollywood get some wacky idea that studio audiences are willing to accept a strong female lead in an action film — and shut up about Ripley in the Alien films, just shut up. So you can expect lots of empty seats at Fury Road viewings this weekend — three seats for every pair of bros who take a manly and stoic pass, when you include the empty seat they leave between themselves because sitting next to each other at the movies is, y’know…
That's just a snippet. Hit the link for more excellence.

Back to stress management though—what else can I do? Some random help site suggested that, on top of diet and exercise, I should:
  • Accept that you cannot control everything.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. 
  • Talk to someone
Yes, yes,  yezzzz all well and good BUT:
* I don’t need to control everything but how’s ‘bout I should be able to make The Amazing Bob feel ALLLLLLLLL better through simple application of ice cream and cake. That totes SHOULD be the way things work, don’t ya think?
* I’d talk to my shrink but she’s now on a little, unplanned sabbatical—back in three or four months. Get a substitute, you say? Oh please, I’ve been seeing Janice for a thousand and one half years. Mega amounts of trust, comfort and just, flat out ease in communication has been built during that millennium. I’m not gonna just plug in some other shrinky dink. They’re not like interchangeable Lego blocks. Ya know?
* Maintain a positive attitude. //snort// Please, mon ami, have you read the news lately?

So then, I’ll do what I can. Get back on the daily workout horse, paint more, go to MORE movies. Maybe The Age of Adaline next weekend?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Morning Creature Report

Oni’s brother pointed this fellow out to me yesterday in the late afternoon. Yes, that ’s our old pal Rocky the raccoon up there. I know, it’s hard to tell but, honest to Bast, that’s our boy! Who knew? Raccoons like to rack out high up in the trees?

In visitor cat news—I haven’t seen Gaston in awhile. Too long. I’m a bit concerned. He's gone AWOL before so I imagine he'll be back. After all, where else can he get three squares and cot?

I’m assuming that Ghost Cat is continuing to come around each morning but, well, he’s a phantom. It’s nearly impossible to tell whether he’s been here or no. The food I set out is usually gone by mid morning BUT that could easily be Rocky. It can’t be a coincidence that he’s found a crib in the sky RIGHT OVER Bob and Donna’s Famous Valhalla Café.

The morning snarfer population also includes a contingent of grackles and sparrows. They’re not a friendly lot, not like our raccoons. Generally they just eat, poop and jet. We are most def not thrilled about all the bird shit but waddyagonnado. They don't care for the litter boxes. I imagine it cramps their free spirits. *sigh*
“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”
~James Herriot, All Creatures Great and Small

Friday, May 15, 2015


I dreamed we’d been invaded by aliens and by "alien" I mean creature from another planet. I was living in some large pod type house in a green, hilly area. Vermont? There were, perhaps, as many as 15 other adults and a few kiddles in residence. It seemed like, maybe, the digs for one of those summer writer's retreats.

In order to elude the invaders we needed to stand in corners or flush against walls and not move at all. They couldn’t see us if we didn’t move or our bodies didn’t, in any way, touch.

I was eager, anxious even, to see what the beings looked like. Would they be all Alien-esque? If so, could we get Ripley on the blower STAT!? Maybe the creatures would look like E.T.homely but sorta cuddly? Possibly they’d rock the Nevada look?

Poking my peepers out of my shower stall hide out, I spied the first of their group. It seemed to me that they were wearing human costumes so as not to scare us. Shockingly, they looked like the munchkins from The Wizard of Oz—sweet, benign and, stylistically, a century out of date .
Clearly this was a trap! They’d appear all nonthreatening, lure me out of hiding with the sugary charm of Lollipop Guild songs and BAM, next thing you know I’m on a steel table and there are probes and...and... EWWWWWWWWWW!

Yeah, I stayed in my tiny rain closet, hoping no one would get curious. But, of course. they did. One of them, not seeing me YET, climbed in, eager to explore this strange, tiled niche. As soon as her body bumped mine, I became visible.

Turns out, she and her little squad of aliens were the equivalent of teenage mean girls. Yeah, cold-bloodedly nasty and just thrilled to bits over finding a defenseless human with whom they could toy.


I crashed past them and sprinted off. This was a dream—I could sprint. YEA!

Like real life, my nocturnal picture shows often lack definitive and-they-lived-happily-ever-after resolutions. Last scene in this odd little chimera was of me dashing up over a green hill chock-full of picnicers seemingly waiting for a show to begin. It felt like the Wachusett or Bread and Roses Fests.

Were all these happy folk, dining alfresco, aliens? Were they human? Did it really matter? Everyone seemed taken up with the bucolic beauty of the hill, their splendid, simple repasts and their cheery convo which floated to my ears on the lovely breeze.

Whether these people were from Planet Earth or elsewhere, no longer seemed important.

And then Rocco decided it was well past time for me to get my lazy ass outta bed. ‘S’ok, I’d had enough thrills, chills and relatively happy endings for one night.