Archive for November, 2012

Well-told human stories endure longer than special effects.

So many movies live only in the time they take to be projected. They are light, fluffy entertainment that exist only in the moment. When you rise from your seat, they are left behind like the popcorn kernels on the floor.

This isn’t a bad thing, these films are just momentary entertainment. Escapism with little of substance to take away after they’ve run.

Then there are movies that engage, entertain, confound and confuse at times, and toy with your emotions. They don’t give you all the answers–– they demand that you participate and bring your life to them and think about the story being told and why things are the way they are and why people act the way they do.

These movies plant seeds in your brain and give you something to think about long after the final reel has flickered into darkness. They are the movies that explore the human condition, pique curiosity and encourage thought. They’re human stories, not mega-special-effects-driven wonders. They don’t feed, they nourish.

I love these kinds of films, and here are two candidates for your consideration from a pair of the most compelling and interesting directors working today. First is David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook with stellar performances from Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. It’s a rom-com of a different sort, one that explores characters haunted by fragile mental states and some driven mad through their obsessions. It’s a terrific ride and one that you’ll find yourself thinking about long after the movie has run.

Some pictures and performances live on a long, long time.

Then there is Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, a film that explores damaged psyches and the art of manipulation. Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams deliver amazing performances worthy of little gold statuettes (as do Cooper and Lawrence).

Russell and Anderson both explore with film for the benefit of self-discovery. No, you won’t always find all the answers, but you will definitely find questions that illuminate.

Both films of these two auteurs (that’s French for ‘artsy-but-not-too-fartsy’) are well worth seeing. Give them a look and see if you don’t agree they’ll be strong Oscar contenders.

Call me Robo-Man. I’ve got a matching set of these suckers.

Three weeks ago, I went under the knife for my fourth hip replacement surgery in five years. Arthritis was the cause for the first two total hip replacements, faulty equipment was the cause for the subsequent “revision” hip surgeries. Seems that the parts they put in me tend to flake off titanium bits into soft tissue, blood and such. I’ve got very high levels of cobalt chromium in my blood. Heavy metal is fine for listening to, not so much to have coursing through your body. Now it’s up to my kidneys to purify my body to its former temple-like self.

Spo dee oh dee oh! At least I’m on the right side of the soil. I’m very thankful for that.

The good news is that if you get enough hip surgeries, you eventually get a free 12″ Quiznos sub, large beverage and free Blockbuster movie rental. Actually, the good news is that if you undergo the same surgery enough times, your body will get better at rehabilitating itself. Practice, practice, practice!

I’m on the mend, faster than the previous three surgeries, and I’ll soon ease back into society. The Lint Screen has an entire category dedicated to hip replacements, begin the story of surgery #2 here. Here are some closing thoughts about the entire ordeal (that I hopefully will not have to experience for 15-20 years) that you may find helpful should you ever have to go on a surgical vacation.

— It could be the meds or your body’s self preservation, but your very painful experience will be softened in your memory. Rest assured, the pain that you do remember was pretty damn painful if you recall it.

— During this last surgery, I had a catheter inserted when I was under anesthesia. In other surgeries, I did not. Anesthesia causes your body to shut down, but medical science wants you to expel your wastes. So, if you cannot pee on your own after some time, they will insert a catheter post-surgery. This is a pain that you will remember all your days. I was relieved I had a catheter in place when I awoke from surgery, but eventually it must be pulled out. This experience results is another pain that you will remember all your days, along with the pain of trying to pee for hours on end with great difficulty doing so. Enough about #1, let’s talk #2.

— Anesthesia and pain killers also constipate you. It’s a horrible experience to have bodily functions you desperately want to do but cannot. Your body is upset with you (“WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU DONE TO ME?!), and you’re upset with it (“WHY WON’T YOU DO WHAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO DO?!”). It’s going to take awhile to sort this out…

— The term “painkiller” is false advertising. At best, they are “take the edge off my goddamn pain!” pills. These little white wonders also have nice side effects like constipating you. They also can bring about depression (as if you needed medical help to lower your spirits after this ordeal). Yes, you need these pills, they do do some good. But they also do some evil. When you feel you can get off them– do so and downshift to OTC meds.

— And another bad side effects of painkillers is this: they make you itchy. As you can imagine, itching and pain do not mix well.

— Sweats are your friends. Screw fashion. You’re homebound for awhile. Keep loose, baby.

— Try as long as you can to avoid looking at your scar. You will see it eventually, and when you do you’ll know why you hurt so much. You’ll also see why hip surgeries really are a royal pain in the ass.

— Some surgeons use surgical staples to bind the wounds they make. Others use surgical glue with a clear protective cover. Surgical glue is much easier on the body. Surgical staples have to be removed and that’s not fun.

— Physical therapists all have their own style, but for God’s sake do what they tell you to do. Yes, physical therapy hurts, but if you don’t strengthen the surgical area, you could be in for a lifetime of pain and suffering. Do the work now to avoid trouble down the road.

— Your body is not 100% and your mind is nowhere near 100%. Don’t think you can think very well even if you think you are thinking well. You’re on drugs, remember? Rest up, champ. Give your mind and body a break. Neither is up for much of a challenge.

— It’s hard to look cool when you’re ambulating in a walker. Who knew?

— Your cane is your friend.

— Never, ever, ever, ever fall. Be very careful on stairs. You can very easily muck up all the medical science applied to your healing body, and the last place you want to go again is a hospital. Be careful out there!

My final word of advice, avoid surgery if you can, but if you are living in constant pain, well, bite the bullet and get the surgery. Just ask the anesthesiologist for something stronger for pain relief than a bullet to chomp down on during the procedure.

Stay healthy.

Arizona considers learning how to count. A nation watches anxiously.

The state of Arizona is seriously considering passing a law that would teach its citizens “the mysteries of arithmetic” according to state officials.

The state is still counting votes in elections that took place almost two weeks ago. “It’s pretty embarrassing,” said Randy Fomsert, a Maricopa County resident, “I mean, even Florida was able to count its votes by now.”

“I guess we’ve never put much stock in cyphering and such numeric mumbo jumbo magic,” said a state official who wished to remain anonymous for fear of being deported. “But a person only has so many toes and fingers to count on before you run plum out of digits.”

Another Arizona politician who wished to remain anonymous had a differing point of view. “The problem isn’t not knowing how to count, the problem is all these damn elections. Democracy is what’s hurting us in Arizona, that’s the problem pure and simple!”

Fiscal cliff to get viewing deck like Grand Canyon’s (in theory).

As Washington heats up to rattle sabers over the impending drive toward the ‘fiscal cliff’, an ambitious carnival company has begun construction on a viewing deck for the public.

“We figure don’t nobody know how far a piece that drop over the edge of the fiscal cliff is,” said F. “Cronk” Tastersall, the owner of A-Plus+ Amusements, “so we figured we’ve give ’em a window ‘neath their feet so they could have themselves a look-see.”

Many Washington politicians are upset at that action being taken by the aggressive amusement company. “Seems to me that the American public should benefit from this attraction,” said an unnamed Congressman, “not some carnies with corny dog breath.” “We should be using those revenues from the viewing deck to do something good, like I don’t know, something or other,” said an irate Senator.

Despite the criticism, Mr. Tastersall remains resolute in his commitment to the project. “I got six or seven boxes of extra parts from rides we’ve built over the year,” said the 58-year old entrepreneur. “Why, I’m pretty sure we can cobble us together a fine viewing deck with ’em.”

We the people somehow survived.

With the 2012 elections finally over, the United States of America rebuilds its psyche.

After being pummeled by billions of dollars spent in negative advertising, and endless hours of pundits punditizing endlessly, and millions of promises for happier days ahead if (INSERT CANDIDATE NAME HERE) is elected, a wounded nation now gathers its wits and hopes against all odds that politicians elected will actually do something working together instead of grandstanding.

Yes, democracy hurts, the process can be ugly, but perhaps now our divided nation will go forward for the greater good. Wouldn’t that be something?

Cheers, America.