Sunday, May 15, 2016

Only death can pay for life



Haven't we learned this over and over again in Game of Thrones? Mirri Maz Duur taught us this early on, taking Daenerys' child as payment for bringing back (sort of back but mostly dead) Khal Drogo in the first season.

We heard it again when Thoros of Myr resurrects Beric Dondarrion after Sandor Clegane (The Hound) kills him, and we're told he comes back a little less every time.

So what of our dear Lord Commander (for the moment) Jon Snow and Gregor Glegane (The Mountain) now (mostly) known as Ser Robert Strong and a member of the King's Guard? Where is the payment for their renewed lives?

Since we're adrift alone without the books as a guide, I'm sure that we'll have to wait and see. I fear it won't be pretty but can't wait.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Looking back on 2015

Dawes at Criminal Records, Atlanta GA, March 2015
Happy New Year to me! 2015 was an extraordinary year, one of the very best in so many ways. My job went well; my successes were acknowledged. I made a nice automotive upgrade. We took (and survived) a real family vacation. Two of three sons became engaged to wonderful young women whom we love. I saw lots and lots of live music (Dawes 2x, Jackson Browne, Rob Thomas, Kyle Cook...), and Middle Son's Band's fabulous first studio album was released to great reviews. Mostly, I am happy, content, and optimistic.

But I am not well. In 2015, I had three bouts of diverticulitis (more like one five month long one, with three peaks) that really knocked me on my ass. I made three trips to the emergency room. They included an overnight stay, a full-day Saturday for IV antibiotics and a four day admission last May. I had two CT Scans and a Stress Test. I missed a lot of work. I had a failed hysteroscopy (attempting this one again next week) during which I broke a speculum (look it up if you dare - but don't). Mostly, my joints seem to be disintegrating at a remarkable rate, and I can no longer really walk unassisted. Everything hurts almost all the time. So, I'm looking forward to 2016 with the hope of improving some of this. I'm seeing a rheumatologist who is helping me treat the pain while we wait and watch in an effort to make a proper diagnosis (he says these things take time?!). For now, he's calling this fibromyalgia (gack!) with osteoarthritis (in so many joints). Add all this to my Crohn's Disease, and I'm just one sweet little *barely able to walk* ball of inflammation. I've been seeing a physical therapist for strengthening exercises and "dry needling", which seem to be helping some. I am at least stronger in some ways. In February, I'm going to get a new right hip. My original one is completely out of cartilage and has grown three ugly bone spurs. This has happened frighteningly fast. I am told that fixing this will reduce my pain and greatly improve my ambulation but warned not to expect too much because some of the pain is caused by the degeneration of the disks of my spine. We won't know how much until the hip is fixed.

Meanwhile, the Crohn's Disease has slipped from "mild to moderate" to "moderate to severe" (two tos too many?). The good news there is that we've added a biologic infusion med to my treatment regimen. Every 6-7 weeks, I go sit in a little room of five recliners and get a two-hour IV infusion of a medicine (Remicade, a tumor necrosis factor inhibitor, a "biologic") that helps stop my immune system from attacking me (sure, this is just osteoarthritis all over my body), which will not only improve my Crohn's symptoms but should at least slow the alarmingly rapid progression of joint degeneration (especially if it's auto-immune, which I strongly suspect).

Yikes. In the meantime, life marches on. Middle Son will marry in April. The Youngest will graduate from college in May. Texas Niece will marry (in Wimberley TX) in June. The Oldest will marry sometime next fall. I have much dancing to do. But first, I will have my hip replaced (a way nicer way to say it than the actual procedure deserves - more on this later - promise). Going forward, I resolve to write more and to write more authentically, to do less focusing on all that is peachy when so much isn't, and include the hard stuff too. Let this be that beginning.

Happy New Year, y'all.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Can we talk Game of Thrones?

The GoT Costume Contest at the Fox on March 29, 2015
This contains Spoilers for Episode 1 of Season 5 and maybe a few extremely well-disguised long-term spoilers (more like hints) for non-book-readers (Unsullied). Read at your own risk, and please don't come crying to me afterward. You've been warned.

I was lucky enough to see Episode 1 of Season 5 two weeks early at Atlanta's Fabulous Fox Theatre as part of the Atlanta Film Festival; so when I was watching as it aired last night, I'd had some time to chew on the events that transpired. I've also been reading some of what's been written about it, and a couple of things come to my mind that I haven't seen covered elsewhere.

There's been a lot of talk about the first use of flashback and a little about the use of foreshadowing. The showrunners were quick to point out that it's not really flashback if it's the first scene, so not flashing back from anything. But, c'mon, guys, splitting hairs are we now? What I was struck by when I watched last night (don't remember thinking this the first time through), was that Cersei's long slow march in mourning black up the steps to the Great Sept of Baelor might be foreshadowing. It turned the show's focus on life in King's Landing starkly towards Religion, especially in combination with her awkward meeting with her cousin and former, um, playmate (among other things), Lancel Lannister. Young Lancel has changed his appearance, his entire demeanor, significantly, bearing the clasped hands and terrifying smile that always and only mean the certainty of rectitude that comes from the most absolute form of fundamentalist religion. We also see it on Stannis' wife Selyse's face while Melisandre officiates at the faith-specific "justice" meted out at the end of the episode in the name of their deity, R'hilor. It's not the religion that's wrong so much as it is the fundamentalism, the absolute belief that one thing is Right and everything else is Wrong. These are very strong hints that this already prominent theme is expanding. It's certainly one that resonates in our little world today.

There were quite a few departures from the books last night; some of them were pretty big. Mance Rayder's story line was changed pretty radically, as was that of Littlefinger (Petyr Baelish) and Sansa Stark. Could we be leaving Alayne behind? And where in the world are they going? As the hints were strong that Tyrion and Varys may be heading to Meereen to meet up with our Mother of (very, very bad) Dragons, which is totally (and thankfully) off book storyline; could Littlefinger and Sansa be headed to such exotic locales, or is it rougher terrain ahead for them, like Winterfell? I have no idea and can't wait to find out. Is it next Sunday yet?

I'm sure there's so much I've missed, but those were the nagging thoughts I'd wanted to bring up elsewhere but decided to put here.

Valar morghulis, y'all, and, just between us, Jon Snow knows quite a lot.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Coming Out Against High Heels

I'm astonished that this needs doing, but it does. I look at today's young women, so confident and poised in their bodies and embracing their sexuality. Then I look at their bound, contorted feet, and all that flies out the window.

This is some broken thing, some rift in the rightness of the universe, cosmic consonance disturbed, wrongly routed.

"But I look so much better/thinner/taller," rolls out of otherwise educated, expert, enlightened minds' mouths. Comfort and health back-burnered almost without a moment's consideration for the illusion of longer legs. The reward: painfully contorted elderly feet for those lucky enough to last that long.

When I see otherwise smart women in brutally high heels, I don't see a thing of beauty; I see intelligence undermined by insecurity, neediness overwhelming accomplishment. When I see it in media professionals given the opportunity to be a role model for young girls, it becomes something worse: opportunity failed.

I just don't think platitudes about valuing who you are inside and your accomplishments above appearances ring true when spoken by women in four inch Louboutins. Such a waste of all that
confidence and ability, rendered moot by vanity. Shame on you.

They have their place, mind you, a very valuable one. They are now what they were then: Fuck Me Pumps. #NotForWork #SetAnExample #SensibleShoes #SmartIsBeautiful

Saturday, October 25, 2014


I've said it a million times: There's a slippery slope between hyperbole and telling lies for dramatic effect, passing them off as truth. Some people just can't stop themselves. Prone to heavily indulging in hyperbole, I've teetered perilously close to the lies for dramatic effect and passing them off as truth precipice frequently but have managed to stave it off with thanks to those around me who've unfortunately made the folly of it glaringly clear.

Don't. Just don't. You don't need to. I don't need to. All of us have to lie sometimes. Being inappropriately direct can be hurtful to others; and all of us exaggerate on occasion, but there is just no need to lie about stupid stuff that doesn't need lyin' about for any good reason, just because it's your programmed default, your practiced act, your shame-riddled reflex, my shame-riddled reflex, our shame-riddled reflex.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

It's all about the reveal

CBS News Sunday Morning was exceptional today and included interviews with Michael Keaton in advance of the release of his new, highly-touted film, "Birdman" and recent signing phenom, Sam Smith. I recommend the Keaton interview online and can't wait to see his new movie, but I'm here to talk about the Sam Smith interview.

It's been my observation that success in writing of all kinds generally stems from emotional honesty, a willingness to reveal oneself without regard for embarrassing oneself or anyone else, and that this is true whether your an essayist, a novelist, a poet, or a songwriter.

I loved what Smith said in Anthony Mason's interview this morning.

Smith: I told all my secrets on that album, my deepest and darkest secrets. I’m a very open person… to me, the things that I’ve always kept hidden were the fact that I was a bit lonely and the fact that maybe I loved someone and they didn’t love me back, and when I decided to tell the entire world that and record my record “In The Lonely Hour” – which I just didn’t think through – I didn’t realize how much I was revealing…

Mason [overdubbed]: It’s not just his voice; it’s his vulnerability that has made Sam Smith a star.

Mason: Part of your success is that you have shown all of yourself.

Smith: Yeah. I know. Hearing whole entire rooms sing back to me, “I guess it’s true, I’m not good at one-night stands.” I can’t explain the feeling. It’s unreal. You feel like you’ve just read your diary to thousands of people and they’ve gone, “It’s okay; we still love you.” 

It reminded me of Lamar White's Ashley Award acceptance speech (@cenlamar on Twitter) at Rising Tide 7 in New Orleans  (9/22/2012 - White starts at 5:00, this is at ~7:15):

These are the principals that guide my blogging and my advocacy:

Write fearlessly...[she taught me that] writing could be empowering, but in order to be empowered you must allow yourself to become vulnerable. Sometimes that means sharing things that could be painful or embarrassing, but they're important... The only way you can really reach an audience is if you expose yourself to some vulnerability, and in doing so you become empowered. Vulnerability can be empowering. 

It sounds so easy, but it's something I've never been able to do. I start and it always gets a little traction; so I pull back. It's fear, but not a completely terrible type of fearfulness. I suppose the secret is to let go of worrying you might rock the boat and embrace it.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Grimm by a mile

Tonight, I won't be DVRing "Once Upon A Time" for the first time since the show debuted. I was vested in the original cast and story, but every time they pull another set of Disney movie characters out of the vault, I become less so. Now it seems to have completely devolved into a long-running Disney ad.

It's a shame because the show had promise. When it's first season ran parallel with "Grimm" the shows both looked interesting, even equally so. It didn't take me long to favor the originality and self-deprecating humor of "Grimm" in Portland over the fairly predictable and overly commercial action in Storybrook, or Never Never Land; and now that I know they're "Frozen" I just can't bear to watch. I can at least hope for the sake of those who do watch that they won't also have to listen to that dreadfully overplayed song. Perhaps they should take their own advice and let it go. They don't merit the prime DVR bandwidth in the highly-competitive, it's a marathon not a sprint, landscape that is Sunday night television.

So, I'll wait, seriously looking forward to finding out what mythological complications, quirky reactions to awkwardly delivered spells, and unpronounceable Germanic words those wildly creative folks in Portland have in store for us this coming season. "Once Upon a Time" is simply not in the same league.