Friday, January 27, 2006

Haiku Film Reviews

Mostly in daylight
And doesn't contain juggling.
What a dumb title.

Cut through your ankle
And ignore the bloody corpse.
Do I have to watch?

Two hours of whimsy,
Completely insufferable,
I hate Bloom and Dunst.

Where is my daughter?
Is she on the giant plane?
Sarsgaard looks so stoned.

Better than you'd think.
Christian Bale lost sixty pounds.
But is he dreaming?

Oates and Fonda flee
In a pimped-out motor home.
Red-State Satanists!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

SAW - Bipedal Film Review

One of the local news channels just teased a story with something like, 'School sex scandal! A teacher's in trouble, but not in a way you've ever heard of before!' My interest was piqued. I was hoping for 'teacher caught in love nest with class hamster' , but sadly, it was only a female teacher-on-female student molestation thing. Which is bad. Not entertaining! Or funny! But I always fall for that type of huckstering in movies, them promising something that's going to blow my mind, unlike anything I've ever seen, and nine times out of ten, I fall for it and eight times out of that nine, I'm disappointed.

Jaded thrillseeker that I am, I rented the horror flick 'SAW'. The reviews used words like 'disturbing', 'unique', 'the future of horror'. I was hoping to be scared or entertained, or even disturbed. I'd even settle for startled once or twice.


If you've ever seen 'SEVEN', a lot of this movie will feel familiar. A lot of green-tinted scenes (makes the blood look more vivid), seizure-inducing quick edits, a killer who sets up elaborate Rube Goldberg style ways to kill people (without them actually doing the killing themself), people tortured before they die in horrible ways, and an obsessed cop who takes his investigation TOO FAR. It opens promisingly, with two men in a filthy bathroom, each chained to the wall, a dead body between them lies facedown in a pool of blood. The two men have saws (TITLE!), there is a gun just out of reach, and a tape recording tells them that one of the men's wife and child are being held captive. Moreover, these captives will be killed if their husband doesn't figure out how to kill the other guy in the room within eight hours. By the way, either of the men can escape if they SAW through their own leg to free them of their chains. Sacrificing a limb in order to save one's life...nah, nothing I can relate to.

So after a lot of torture, running around, shooting, and red herrings (is it the killer really the crazy cop? the creepy hospital janitor? a, um, puppet?), we find out that the genius psychopath is actually (big SPOILER) a hospital patient with an inoperable brain tumor! Cancer-flavored revenge! I had heard about this twist before I saw the movie, and I know by experience that one of the side effects of a cancer diagnosis is rage. But when they show the Doctor in this patient's room in the important flashback, the Doctor describes his terminal condition rather offhandedly. And, that's it. The doctor is offed because he has no bedside manner, then? Plus,the killer is a patient in a hospital, even though it's too late to treat him, so I'm assuming they're just keeping him comfortable with heavy painkillers. They kind of take the EDGE off the anger thing, with the numbing and all. And the other people who die (or almost die) have nothing to do with the cancer patient. So the other victims didn't give him chemo or radiation or lost his paperwork for his HMO. They were merely guinea pigs? Collateral damage? Victims of over-conceived plotting? If he just killed those other people because he was a psychopath, then why bring up the cancer at all? Or maybe the brain tumor is not only killing him, but also making him insane, but still smart enough to elude capture by the authorities and build all these complicated death traps.

Besides the casual way that cancer was thrown into the movie, there were other things that bugged me. The parts of the movie that were sped up past 'frantic' to 'funny'; Danny Glover as the crazy cop (he never says 'I'm getting too old for this shit'); and how almost all the movie is flashbacks or flashbacks-within-other-flashbacks.  The one redeeming bit of cleverness was that the killer was actually the 'dead' body in the room between the two guys, but I know I can't stay still for five minutes in an MRI, never mind being face-down on a tile floor in a puddle of blood for eight hours. And I must give a big shout-out to the worst car chase I've ever seen. The IMDB said that the filmmakers ran out of money for a chase, so they turned on the fog machines and had crew members push the cars around to suggest movement, then choppy-style edited the footage. Somewhere Ed Wood is kicking himself for not thinking of that himself.

To sum up, it's a pretty sub-standard gory horror movie with a superior ad campaign. And I'm a one-legged sucker with too-high standards out of $5 yet again.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Rip It Out

I really have no idea why I feel like this is important enough that I have to share this, but you know, my middle name is 'sharing equals caring', which is why I don't own many monogrammed items.

Early today I went to the prosthesist's to give the C LEG™ a once around the, um, small room. Walking walking walking. I had to try so hard to remember all the little details that you never have to think about to walk naturally. I'd walk, turn, walk and sit down. Also, the socket that the residual limb fits into is plastic-y and tight-fitting so I have to slop a lot of limb lotion (which might be the actual brand name) all over it to be able to pack it all into the socket. Then once the air is pushed out I turn a knob on the bottom of the socket and the leg is held in place by suction.


Just by moving around normally and my limb changing in shape as I move, I end up with a lot of air pockets inside the socket, so when I stand or sit? Out rips the wettest, loudest fart noise I've ever heard outside of a Third-Grade classroom. PHHHHHHRRRRRAAAAPPPP! PHHHHHHRRRRRAAAAPPPP! PHHHHHHRRRRRAAAAPPPP! My own personal soundtrack. Like I don't feel embarrassed enough. On the up side, I know how to endlessly amuse my ten year-old and eight year-old cousins.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

How I spent October 2005, Part Two

What else did I learn in the hospital?
- Hospital food is just as bad as advertised. And BLAND, oh so BLAND. At least airline meals come with salt and pepper to add flavor. Because I spent nearly a month in the hospital, food tasted incredibly salty or sweet after I came home.
- Between the 3/4 right leg amputation, picky eating, and 3 hours a day physical therapy, I weighed forty pounds less when I got sprung from the hospital. I don't recommend anyone else doing the same thing. Try South Beach instead.
- In the hospital, dignity equals pants. Wearing pants means you're going home. When you have pants on, you don't accidentally flash your friends when they come to visit. In short, I heart pants.
- Coming back home after amputation is disturbing. You're back in your old life but in a new form, and unlike the hospital, you don't have people there to help you so the difference is dramatic. Want to eat on the couch? You can't because when you're on crutches you can't carry plates or bowls! Want to take out the garbage? Same thing! Buy groceries? Ditto! Enjoy having your body hold you hostage and being wholly reliant on other people!
- While they do usually help you get better, hospitals are also a great place to pick up something to make you sicker. I was home from the hospital for four days, then felt horrible on day five. My brother-in-law took me to the Emergency Room when my temperature hit 101. By the time they put me in a room my temperature was 103.5.
- When your I.V. gets ripped out of your arm/vein accidentally, you have a total Sam Peckinpah moment; the blood goes PPSSSHHHH, spurting arcs all over the place, seemingly in slooow mooootion. To stop blood from spurting PPSSSHHHH out of your arm, apply direct pressure to your arm yourself, because your nurse will be more comfortable yelling at you ("Direct pressure! Direct pressure!") instead of applying the actual pressure herself. It's not like she took years of training and school to learn such a thing, or worked in a place where such a thing could EVER happen, you know?
- It's very very embarrassing when you pee all over the floor on the way to the bathroom because you are weak and on major painkillers and feverish and are still not able to move quickly enough on crutches to reach the bathroom in time. Please note that THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN TO ME ANYMORE. AT ALL. IT HASN'T HAPPENED FOR QUITE A WHILE NOW. I'M FINE, REALLY. MORE OR LESS.
- If you pee all over your hospital floor and yourself, just tell the nursing staff about it; they've seen worse. Do not try to clean up the floor with paper towels while balancing crouched on one foot because you will just fall over.
- Falling down after a leg amputation is extra horrible if you, on the way down, reflexively stick out the leg that is not there anymore and land directly on the end of your stump. Falling directly on the end of your stump will make you shriek louder than you ever thought you could.
- Nurses move very fast to get to you when you shriek louder than you ever thought you could. Try it, it's fun!
- There is a V.I.P. section in this particular hospital and they actually get better food. I heard that because of the hospital has many specialists treating sports injuries there are members of every major sports team going into and out of the place. When I was put in that section, on the first day I had a lunch of steak, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, and apple pie for lunch that had 'flavor' and tasted 'good'. Once they realized that I was merely one of the hoi polloi and not some overpaid pro, that kind of meal never happened again. If Nellie Bly was still with us, I bet that's what she would be working on an exposé about.
- If you are infected with something that may be contagious, aka a staph infection, possibly the new unstoppable MRSA infection, you get a whole hospital room to yourself.
 - Mind you, you will not be told anything about having this very important and possibly life threatening operation until the doctor on the night check glances at your chart and says offhand, 'I see you're being operated on first thing tomorrow.'
 - The surgeon will flush out the wound and cut off the infected tissue, sewing up the remainder of the limb, leaving a bigger, deeper scar running completely across your leg.
- Two years later, if you draw two dots above the side-to-side leg scar on your residual limb it looks like a brontosaurus's happy face.
- The brontosaurus was actually two different dinosaur skeletons accidentally combined and is now not considered a legitimate type of dinosaur. So for accuracy's sake, let's say the limb-with-dots face described above looks like an apatosaurus's jolly happy face.
- As Eudora Welty once said, being in the hospital on Halloween sucks big donkey dicks. Eudora was no fool.
- When your birthday is a few days after Halloween, nearly a month from when you checked into the hospital for the original operation, you sure as shit do not want to be there on that birthday. 
 - Rushing to get out of the hospital, being careless, if you fall down again on the end of your residual limb, this time starting from a standing position, you'll shriek even louder than the last time and will think that you broke some your pelvis. Have an X-ray. Please, I insist.
- If you are sitting on the floor after you fall, crying in pain and your hospital gown slips off your shoulders leaving you naked from the waist up (you were trying to change your clothes when you lost your balance) a nurse will pull it back up over your tits if you're lucky. I was.
- Finally, when you finally get to go home from spending nearly another two weeks in the hospital you don't want to go back again. Ever. Not for the rest of 2005, anyway. 2006 is a whole other story altogether.

Monday, January 09, 2006


The thing I have learned today: when 1/4 of you is missing, certain people will feel perfectly fine asking what happened to you (regarding said 1/4). Because of my famous niceness, I tell them the truth (they ARE asking out of caring, after all, not to razz me like 'HA HA, NO LEG! Serves you right getting CANCER! BWA!'). That's when allllll the stories come out about every cancer case they've ever known, as if that would be all I'd want to talk about after living in Cancerland for two years.

Fer example, tonight I went to catch a movie at the Film Forum (B/W early Hitchcock 'Young and Innocent', very good). The older fellow (named Bill) I stood next to in line waited about a second before asking me what happened with my leg. I told him cancer, inoperable tumor. He wasn't expecting that and he started saying over and over how sorry he felt for me and how much he PITIED me. Wow. How does one react to someone telling you, out of kindness, that they pity you? I was all, 'well thanks..I mean, sorry...actually I'm OK now, really!' Then he asks me if I'd heard about Lou Rawls, who just died. He said, 'You know what got him? Cancer! Brain and lung cancer! Horrible! You know why he got it? (mimes putting a cig to his lips).' Ah. Smoking, yes. Bad stuff. So then he started telling me about his personal brushes with the big C. For instance, his father died before he was born. Apparently, he had esophageal cancer which eventually killed him. Bill said, 'I was told he coughed up blood like a fountain.' Yikes. Also a smoker, by the way.

Then whilst we were standing in line (YOU try standing on line for 20 minutes on one foot; fun, eh?) he asked me to watch his spot in line, he would be back in a few minutes. Like to guess why?

He was outside having a cigarrette.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Technical difficulties, please stand by

OK, sorry to all of y'all for being away for so long, but you know, life changing stuff was going on. I had the big leg-removal surgery in October, and the readjustment back to civilian life has been a little bumpy. But oh, how much I've learned! It's like my Grinch brain has grown three times it's size! For example:
- You don't want to have surgery in the afternoon. You can't eat or drink anything for at least 24 hours before and if you have a 6am call time, you're so out of it that you don't register how hungry you are and your caffeine headache is not incapacitating. My call time was 11am with surgery two hours later, so I felt physically craptastic along with being emotionally bereft for a couple of hours.
- It is comforting to have a nurse give you a small beanbag lamb to squeeze while you wait for surgery.
- It is not comforting to have lots of scalpels, saws, knives, and assorted sharp metal instruments be the last things you see before they put you under anesthesia.
- In the U.S. they don't gently cradle your head while someone else sticks a needle in your back for an epidural.
- Anesthesiologists all work from the same script; they all tell you that they are going to send you to 'a happy place' just before they put you under.
- Under sedation, your hands do feel like two balloons.
- If someone you know is having serious surgery but you are not part of their family, you DO NOT stroll into the ICU to visit them on that same day while they are recovering. Especially if you have been specifically told NOT to come see them until they want visitors. A good rule of thumb is if the patient still has an oxygen mask on, it's not visiting time.
- If you have been told by the patient's family that you should not be here and that they will call hospital security if you don't leave, you really SHOULD NOT come back to do the same thing the next day.
- If my sister tells you to leave the room, that 'you are NOT my friend,' and her husband is being silently menacing, you should leave and NOT COME BACK THE THIRD DAY. YOU ARE NOT WANTED THERE AT ALL.
- If uninvited people are still showing up at the hospital, make a list of allowed visitors and give it to security.
- The push-button-instant-morphine-delivery system RULES. Simply press button and enjoy not feeling anything.
- I have a frightening tolerance for painkillers. They gave me three different painkillers which did nothing for my excruciating pain before giving me Dilaudid (a heavy duty opiate featured in the movie 'Drugstore Cowboy').
- When you have taken too much Dilaudid, you will stop talking in the middle of a sentence, your mouth will drop open, and your head will flop back like a broken doll's. Drooling is optional.

More hospital learning to come!