Movies: 2008

This is more for my own amusement than anything else; these are the movies that I saw in the theatre (versus on DVD, or watched on a plane, or some other non-movie-theatre option) in 2008.

  1. Charlie Wilson’s War (1/11)
  2. Persepolis (1/25)
  3. 27 Dresses (2/02)
  4. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (3/08)
  5. Run, Fat Boy, Run (03/30)
  6. Le Voyage du Ballon Rouge (04/18)
  7. Baby Mama (04/26)
  8. Jellyfish (05/21)
  9. Iron Man (05/25)
  10. Sex and the City (06/07)
  11. WALL-E (07/13)
  12. The Dark Knight (7/26)
  13. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (8/23)
  14. Frozen River (8/30)

…and then I forgot to keep this listing up to date. But here are some other movies, in no particular order, that (upon retrospect) I did also see in 2008:

  1. The Quantum of Solace
  2. Slumdog Millionaire
  3. Milk
  4. Rachel Getting Married

There might have been more!

Oops

I have a bad tendency to sit on my Netflix movies. Sometimes I go through them quickly—get a DVD in the mail, watch it, send it right back—and that lasts for a few months. And then other times, I end up having the DVD gather a nice layer of dust as it sits on my coffee table.

(I think the record was having Magnolia waiting to be watched for something like nine months. In my weak defense, it’s a very long movie and I wanted to make sure I would have time to watch the entire thing without being interrupted.)

Due to my bad Netflix behavior, about a year ago I switched my membership from three DVDs at a time down to just one. It seemed silly to have so many out all at once if I wasn’t watching them; why pay extra each month, right? Well, back in August Netflix sent me a “bonus disc” for whatever reason. And then, right around the same time, there was some sort of settlement that meant for a month I was suddenly upgraded to an extra disc for a month. So they sent me another one.

Tonight, some four months later, I watched two of three movies and can send them back, which is good since I have to send all three of them back before I can get anything else from Netflix. But there’s just one problem—I cannot figure out what happened to that third DVD.

Oops.

(Hopefully that copy of The Prestige will show up sooner or later. Heh. I could have sworn it was on the coffee table with Mean Girls and Shaun of the Dead. Oh well, I’ll send them back on Monday, and on the bright side they were both excellent. Nothing is more mortifying than having a DVD out for months and then when you finally watch it, the movie stinks.)

Getting Back to Normal

First off, before I forget, huge thanks to everyone who sent well wishes (both on my own website as well as the LJ crosspost). I think it really does help the healing process to know that people actually want you to get better. (Even if it’s just so they can then tackle you with impunity.)

But yes, things are definitely on the mend here. I’m back to normal foods (although with this hideous cold that’s blanketing a lot of the country right now, a soup diet is not such a bad thing!), although still being careful with what I injest. Hey, a little extra care on what I eat isn’t really a bad thing now. Friday was definitely the turning point of going from “I still feel awful” to “I am starting to feel like I am actually getting better.” By the end of the weekend, I was thinking, “I can’t wait to go back to work.”

At this point more than anything else I’m waiting for the Steri-Strips™ to fall off of my four incision points (a process that takes “1 to 2 weeks”), and to hopefully get the all-clear next Monday to start exercising again. Honestly at this point I suspect that tackling the full National Marathon at the end of March is probably a no-go, but if I’m allowed to start running next week then we shall see how it goes. Until then I am being good and not lifting heavy objects, or going to cycling class, or using the rowing machine, or anything else of the sort. It is, of course, driving me a little insane.

Still, easy does it, so it’s just as well that I am having a pretty low-key Christmas. Charlie is visiting his family in Alabama, and my older sister’s visit was right before my surgery, so it will just me my parents and Suzanne (plus the adorable canine Bruno) during the day, and then relatives and family friends over for dinner in the evening. I did receive a tripod from Charlie as part of my Christmas present, so maybe this weekend I can finally try out some night photography that doesn’t involve the camera being perched on top of my car or a ledge. (Dear weather: please cooperate.)

Oh, and as a get-well gift to myself, I am now the proud owner of an Xbox 360. It came with two free games (Kung Fu Panda and Lego Indiana Jones) but so far what I am really playing on it are two games I purchased on the XBLA online store—Braid (a platform game which plays with the flow of time and is mind-bendingly wonderful), and Uno. No, really. Tod and Ed have been raving about Xbox Uno and yeah, it is awfully fun. So I certainly have things to keep me busy. (Oh, and my Xbox Live gamertag is “Greg McE” if you would care to add me. You can chortle at my pitiful number of Achievement points so far.)

It’s all good!

On the Radio

I believe I’ve mentioned before that over the past year or so, I’ve become a big fan of NPR and its local station WAMU. On Saturday, when I was driving home after the Washington Sinfonietta’s concert, I had the radio on (I think it was “All Things Considered”) and I got a very pleasant little shock. A woman was talking about her comfort food tradition involving spoonfuls of sweetened condensed milk, and how it stemmed from someone sending a can to her and her mother. (And how she would ask her mother about the war in Hungary every time she was allowed one of the spoonfuls.)

I was thinking to myself, “Where have I heard this story before?” and then a split-second before they mentioned the storyteller’s name, I realized where. It was the lovely Miriam Katin, whom I know through comics. She’d actually turned that story into “The Seven Sweet Spoonfuls of Understanding” which ran in one of the Monkeysuit anthologies. Even hitting to home some more, it was seeing her comics there that made me comment in a review of mine that she should really submit something to one of Drawn & Quarterly’s anthologies. Which she did… and not only had a story published there (which was then nominated for an Eisner Award the following year!), but her debut graphic novel We Are On Our Own as well. It’s a small, small world!

(You can listen to the story online at this link. It’s well worth it!)

And secondly, I was looking at WAMU’s schedule today and saw a note that they were making minor schedule adjustements in 2009. I clicked on that link, and the changes were mostly on early Sunday mornings, in part to fill the hole from two cancelled shows: The Infinite Mind, and Calling All Pets. And I have to admit that my first response to the latter being cancelled was, “Awwwww!” Except that, well, I never actually listened to more than the last five minutes of it. It was usually what was playing as I drove to my running group early in the morning.

It was a split second later that I then realized that what I really cared about was not so much that Calling All Pets was on, but rather, that Car Talk was not on. Seriously, I think I wrote off NPR for years because every time I turned it on, it was the weekend and it was Car Talk. Ugh, ugh, ugh. I’m sure there are people reading this who listen to it every week, and to them I say, “Better you than me.”

Cholecystectomy

I spent most of last week running around like a madman, trying to get tons of things done, because I knew that this week would be primary shot thanks to having my gallbladder removal surgery (aka cholecystectomy) scheduled for Monday, December 15th. It was to be performed laparoscopically, where they slide in the little wires and cameras and perform a limited number of incisions. I’m in favor of less incisions rather than more, of course.

No, thats not my SSN, sorry to disappoint.So, Monday morning, Charlie dropped me off at Virginia Hospital Center. The surgery was scheduled for noon, which meant needing to check in no later than 10am. I was there a little early, but came prepared with my copy of Wuthering Heights, which Brook had told me I really needed to read. Check-in was painless, and I had a very nice nurse quickly get me into my little waiting room. She snapped on my wristband, then left me to my own devices for getting changed. Hospital gown technology hasn’t really advanced since my other hospital surgery back in September 1980 (an appendicetomy), it seems. They’re still ill-fitting and awkward at best. At least I got to get under the blankets after putting it on, and knocked out a good six chapters of the book before the anesthesiologist showed up.

Now, I have to say, the procedure of knocking someone out has certainly improved since 1980. I still remember having the old gas mask being put over my nose and mouth as I was wheeled down the hallway at the tender age of seven. Here, he injected something into my IV, we had a discussion about Wuthering Heights (or at least what I’d read so far), how he had one bad teacher experience dissuade him from an English Lit degree, and then suddenly I was in the recovery room. Well, that was fast. I don’t even recall getting sleepy.

My parents picked me up once I was good enough to leave, and brought me home until Charlie got off of work and headed back over. Since then, I’ve felt incredibly sore from around the bottom of my ribcage to my waist, which is really not that surprising. Percocet has helped a great deal, though, and aside from one unfortunate vomiting incident soon after I got home (but with no solid food in me, it really wasn’t that bad — just water, and no bile at all since my gallbladder is no more) it hasn’t been too bad. Although I must say that I am really glad that my super-hydrated state (I’m guessing from the IV?) has finally ended. It hasn’t been since those early days of marathon training (back when the common practice was to “drink until you slosh”) that I have had the distinct non-joy of having to pee ever thirty minutes. At least by around 3am it had slowed down to every 90 minutes, and finally returned to normality this afternoon.

Today? Just a lot of lying down on the couch, really. There are things I’d like to have done—read some books, played some games—but I’m only just starting to really get my energy back. I did watch a bunch of TV on the DVR, though; mostly shows that didn’t require too much concentration. (I whole-heartedly recommend Trader Joe’s Organic Split Pea soup, incidentally. As canned soups go it’s near the top of the list, and also very healthy to boot.) I was amused that Charlie got sucked into the season finale of Survivor: Gabon when I was watching it last night, though. Hee hee hee.

Best thing of all, though? My mom found this yesterday morning:

My sister Suzanne drew it for me when I was in the hospital back in 1980; she was only four years old at the time. I have it on the fridge, now.

I was originally hoping to be back out exercising and such next week, but now I am thinking that it was a bit of wishful thinking at my end. Hopefully before New Year’s? That would be nice. We shall see. I have a follow-up appointment with my surgeon on the 29th, and I suspect everything will be pretty clear by then one way or another. Right now all I’m focusing on is getting to take a shower tomorrow. That will be quite nice.

Christmas Giving

At the start of the month, Raina mentioned that she’d signed up with the New York Cares Winter Wishes Program, where they send you a New York kid’s Santa letter that would otherwise end up with nothing, and you send them a gift or two in return.

I immediately signed up, but the actual letter didn’t arrive until today (and the stuff is supposed to get there by the 15th!), so I ended up doing a little online shopping. I have to say, though, that the letter just made me feel so sad. I got a 12-year old girl who mentions that she has good grades, and would like some clothes. And all I could think was, “If I was only going to get one thing for Christmas, it would be awfully hard for me to think logically and ask for clothes.”

I ended up sending about twice as much stuff as the suggested amount, but I don’t care. (And yay for some killer sale prices at Old Navy online.) I put a little extra money in to get it shipped ASAP, so it should still make it there in time, happily. But… I was thinking about it… and I ended up going to Amazon and sent a game and a book as well. I just wanted something her to get something fun, too. I hope this is a good Christmas for my letter writer.

I have to say, though, that this is probably the best I’ve felt about Christmas gift buying in a long time. I normally give gifts to Toys for Tots and Child’s Play every year, but they’re never for a specific person. Knowing what she asked for and being able to fulfill that and then some? Totally different. I definitely want to do this again next year, and hopefully with a little more advance time too.

Yay for Christmas!

(Oh, and the book I got her? Let’s just say that not only do I think she’ll like it, but it felt right knowing that the author is the whole reason I signed up in the first place.)

Friendpalooza

I’m not entirely sure how it is that I can go several weeks at a time without seeing anyone, and then over the course of a week and a half I see something like nine zillion friends. I feel like I’ve just finished up the latter, between Thanksgiving and now. It’s the holiday season, certainly, which accounts for a lot of it. People start having parties, or brunches, or dinners, or all sorts of other things. I’m always in favor of them, up to a point, and it is great to see everyone.

(I say up to a point because I have learned that I do have my upper limit and I can’t go beyond it or I start feeling overloaded. It’s been an important lesson to learn.)

But yeah, it’s one of the things that I absolutely love about the holidays. There are friends that I don’t see as often as I should (well, to be fair, that’s all of them) and this lets me feel like I’ve made some progress in that direction. From movies and tree-decorating-parties to watching them carve bears out of cake for shoppers’ amusement, it’s all really good.

(I have to say, speaking of movies, I am entertained by the fact that not only did I end up in a group of 10 people to see Milk on Friday night, but that I ran into no less than five other people I knew at the movie theatre that night. That never happens for me. Just goes to show how in-demand the movie is right now. And yes, it was pretty good.)

I’ve got only two things during this upcoming week, and then starting with this next weekend it’s going to be crazy all over again. My family is having “mini-Christmas” (which is the only time all of us will be here for it, although Christmas itself will be celebrated too) on Saturday and Sunday, and that should be really nice. On Monday the 15th, I get the gallbladder removed, which I’m looking really forward to. Considering that the middle of last week finally ended two-and-a-half weeks of mild to major nausea at any given moment, I’m all in favor of that sucker getting out of me, even if I do finally have that lovely side effect finally under control. Actually not worried about it at all, honestly.

Of course, this does mean that I really need to finish up the Christmas shopping; I’m so glad it is about 90% done already. I suspect a lot of next week will have me out of it, based on the experiences of just about everyone I know that’s had their gallbladder removed. (Who knew it was so common? Not me.) And beyond that? There’s a trip up to Sag Harbor for New Year’s, and I’m still vaguely contemplating tackling the National Marathon at the end of March. I sketched out a running schedule to start with the new year, and we’ll see how that goes. It will be a tight schedule but if I don’t act like a big wimp when it comes to cold weather (and provided we don’t end up in a world of snow and ice), it’s doable. Hmmm. Because right now, I have been a big wimp about running. Brrrr.

But anyway, I have to say that this time of year reminds me what great, great friends I have. It’s so wonderful to see them as much as I do, even though it sometimes just makes me feel bad that I haven’t seen all the rest of them as well. (So many people, so little time. *sigh*)

And now, time to haul out the flannel sheets and switch over, because I am sick of this cold. Consider this my way of getting us a nice little heat spike later in the week, ok?