Saturday, May 20, 2006

Stacy Dialysis Course 101

Lo, these last twenty-five months, I have learned from experience the ways of the Dialysis Experience.

Let me share them with you now...

1) If you hold your access arm straight, I mean stereotypical all-American red state straight, the stabbing pain usually won't stop by and pay you an in-laws-are-in-town-and-I-have-no-Valium type o' visit.

2) Eating during the procedure eases the fatigue post-Dialysis treatment. It doesn't even matter what it is, which is good because my budget is quite single. Single bell pepper, single onion, single half gallon of milk. Single servings for a termainally single life.

3) If I'm dating someone for the first time, I like to set up the date within two to three hours post-Dialysis. I appear fierce and lean and my eyes seem brighter because there's less paper or plastic bags under my eyes.

4) I was rather traumatized by the massive amounts of hair on the top of my gigantic head, but I've reached the acceptance stage. Now I collect it all in hopes of using stem stell research, my blender and lots of Cheez-Itz to build a better, bolder, brighter me to usher in the middle of the century.

Yes, with properly functioning kidneys.

5) I don't really care if people stare at my bandages on my access arm anymore. They're my white badge of courage. Plus, I LOVE coming up with excuses for why they're there. "Shark bite" is my personal favorite. Their eyes get wide with anticpation as to what my next comment will be. I've only been called on it once, "Ugh...tiny shark."

6) I speak up and ask for EXACTLY how I want my needles administered. And whaddya know? They listen. I need a full does of lidocaine in each access port now and I only use 16 gauge needles. Some days I'm not totally coherent, but regardless of how I feel I have to check them every time, because they'll try to sneak in 15's when I'm not looking. I haven't decided if it's because they enjoy torchering me or there was a sale on that size.

7) I now define Dialysis, it doesn't define me.

Thank you and good night.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Odyssey 5

The talking media heads that blather on about the movie industry can't seem to determine why the box office looks to be bleeding internally and taking ticket receipts with it.

The patient is on life support, awaiting a Supreme Court like Schiavo decision to save it.

Tom Cruise, the savior of all that is box office gold, will not save the summer or the remainder of the year's totals.

There's one simple, obvious reason why the movie industry is in big, big trouble.

They're not the most creative people in the room anymore.

When you go back historically and review movies in the seventies against television of the same era, there's no comparison. The most engaging, compelling material was definately on the silver screen.

"The Godfather", "Dog Day Afternoon", "Star Wars", "Jaws", "Rocky", "Mean Streets", "Chinatown", "Taxi Driver", "Superman", "Network", "M.A.S.H.", "Apocolypse Now", "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"...the list is enormous (and obviously, subjectively biased, but you get the idea.)

During the same period you had "Starsky & Hutch", "Charlie's Angels", "The Dukes of Hazzard", "Gilligan's Island", "The Brady Bunch" all nearly unwatchable except for morbid curiosity.

The above examples could be debated ad nauseum, but my point is this:

Television is where all the quality, creativity and compelling material is residing today in contemporary media.

And the fantastically wonderous thing about DVD is that even when a show doesn't last more than a season due to whatever reason, you can go back and watch an entire season in a weekend and be thorougly entertained.

"Just My Luck" with the overrated Lindsay Lohan? A remake of a 70's cheese-fest "Poseiden"? Both at nearly $10 a viewing?

I don't think so.

Which brings me to a show I'm watching presently that I wish were ten seasons longer:

"Odyssey 5"

If you took the "X-Files" and gave it more of a sci-fi bent and then produced it with an R-rated mentality and added a time travel angle, you'd have "Odyssey 5."

It originally aired on Showtime in 2002, which is a shame because if it were on a more promotionally reliant channel like HBO, it might still be on the air.

Of course, they just cancelled "Deadwood" so what do I know?

This is one of those gems where the writing, casting and production come together to create a truly original and entertaining show.

The premise has endless possibilities: a crew of three astronauts, a scientist and a journalist the "five" in the title) are on a routine mission in space when the Earth explodes. A vortex opens up and their shuttle "Odyssey" is sucked into a giant ship manned by "The Seeker."

He tells them that this problem has been happenning all over the galaxy and he has the power to send them back in time five years to discover and halt the destruction of the Earth.

Five years is usually what a show needs to survive in syndication.

Clever, no?

Time Travel! Science Fiction! Horror! Drama! Comedy! Pathos! Ethos! Both of 'thos!

Sorry.

There looks to be five discs and twenty-something episodes and I only have one disc left.

That's the only disappointing part...how the hell does it end??

Will Sarah's son get cancer in this new timeline? Does Chuck Taggart's younger son still become an astronaut? Do Sarah and Kurt still end up together? And will any or all of them survive long enough to defeat the Sentinels?

Here are my Top 10 Reasons Why TV is Better Than Movies Today:

10. "Arrested Development"
9. "Lost"
8. "24"
7. "Smallville"
6. "Justice League"
5. "House M.D."
4. "King of the Hill"
3. "Odyssey 5"
2. "Sopranos"
1. "Freaks & Geeks"

I could compose a geeky, highly annoying blog entry about each and every one of these shows. They were all conceived (or are still going) in the last five years.

The last movie I saw in the theater was "Lucky Number Slevin" and I must admit I did enjoy that film, but I used to go the movies two or three times a week.

Yes, times have changed. I can rent movies by mail with Netflix and I am on a budget. But when I go to the New Releases page, each and every week I seem to be disappointed by all the choices. Every week there are fewer and fewer films I'm just dying to see.

Which is why this is the perfect opportunity for those producing "independent" film outside the studio system to prevail and allow their voices and vision to be heard.

Thank you and good night.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Jesus Take the Wheel

The lyrics from Carrie Underwood's big-time, blockbuster, no-holds-barred chart burner were wandering aimlessly through my head, trying to form new sentences that would guide me out of the boondocks I found myself lost in.

They hopped all over the giant blackboard standing firmly in the back of my mind. But once parked in place and making no sense whatsoever, the board morphed into a massive Etch-a-Sketch.

I held my head still so as not to erase their message. It might be a way out of this mess.

My companion displayed her composure and sense of humor from the passenger seat.

"I know why you went this way. You brought me out here to kill me."

At least the laughter muted the silence in a nervous, boy-I-shouldn't-be-laughing-kinda way.

The evening wasn't supposed to end this way, a mangled, decrepit bookend to an otherwise fantastic day.

Hope and Anticipation are really the only aspects of my Life that keep me sane these days, and today possessed both in ample amounts.

Carrie Underwood you might recall from the media juggarnaut that is "American Idol" was last season's winner. She's made huge strides on the country and pop charts and really appeals to middle America.

And of course, zealous "American Idol" fans.

It has been over three years since I've attended anything resembling a concert. That timeline coincides with my failing health, which has tested my ability to enjoy myself.

So when my friend Jess asked me to go, I realized I could use my massively impressive connections to get free tickets. Although the sales executive who ran the account waited until the very last minute to actually place the stubs in my skinny little paws, it was worth it.

Floor seats. Twelfth row.

If you've never been to the Konocti Ampitheater overlooking Clear Lake, it is probably one of the most picturesque backdrops you could ask for. Rolling hills and sparkling water. Very Normal Rockwell, very Americana.

I decided the best plan would be to meet at the station around 4pm and head out in the Stacy TruckMobile. Jess arrived looking extra adorable, but I tried not to notice because I know that's not what she wants and I'm in no shape to date anyone anyway.

The entire circumstance actually made the day much more enjoyable because there wasn't any pressure.

The drive itself is nearly a ninety minute advertisement for Dramamine.

It's as though someone decided that the best way to connect two points was to get drunk first, start sketching and then try and finish the design before passing out.

The view is awe inspiring though.

It was when we were pulling into the Konocti parking lot around 5:45pm that I realized I had forgotten my Konocti cash.

Who knew this would be forshadowing of events yet to come?

We still had tickets to the BBQ, so all was not lost.

I had made sure to have her bring her copy of Carrie's album "Some Hearts" because I had a surprise.

We were going backstage.

This would have been a bigger surprise, but apparently she's not a big fan of "surprises."

So be it.

There's usually an air of excitement when you go backstage to meet an artist you're about to see perform. The line is usually populated with about twenty to thirty people. They're either dutiful fan club members, relatives of people "in the know" or people like me: radio personalities who promote the show.

Whenever you go backstage, I suggest you be on your best behavior, because there are an army of security personnel just waiting for an excuse to expel some agression.

They lined us up like little six graders and explained what was going to happen. By some act of wacky Fate, I managed to become first in line because I was with the radio station.

I know. Pretty cool.

The trailer that Carrie was occupying was about eight to ten feet above the platform that we were populating, the entire area overlooking Clear Lake.

Fortunately, Jess is a thinker and brought her digital camera.

When Carrie came out, she looked stunned by the number of people who wanted to meet her. She didn't say a word and just followed her manager to the railing overlooking the view.

I walked up and mumbled something about how much our listeners love her single releases. She quickly grabbed my album and singed it while expelling a whisperey "thank you."

We looked up together to take the photo and she puts her arm around me.

And then I froze.

I know. What an idiot. She's one of the few celebrities I've met who actually looks better in person. She's mesmerizing.

And, as Jess pointed out, "so tiny!"

Television definately adds ten pounds, as the cliche goes.

My boss mentioned before he went on stage to introduce her that she's not full of herself, just incredily, massively shy.

There could have been a hundred things that we, the fans, didn't know was going on. She's far from her family, she could be tired from the water skiing earlier in the day, she could have received some bad news...the list is endless.

"Little Big Town" opened the show and they rocked. You know how you can enjoy an artist or group and you're a fan? And then you go to a show and they surprise you by being even better in person?

That's what happened with "Little Big Town." They tried four years ago and just nosedived on the charts.

They're a true testament to "never give up, never surrender."

When Carrie took the stage, I noticed that the bleachers in back as well as the floor seats weren't full.

Is this a testament to higher gas prices or is the power of "American Idol" not as all encompassing as once thought?

Whatever the case, I take it personally because we're the only station in the market pushing the show.

Jess loved Carrie Underwood, but I was a little underwhelmed. That speaks less about Carrie's talent and more to the fact that most of the concerts I've been to have featured veteran performers.

Give Carrie another year or two and her live performances will really speak to the masses.

Not two miles from the exit to Konocti, I made a decision that Fate is still hemming and hawing about.

I made a wrong turn.

Ten miles into my misdirection, Jess mentioned we should probably turn back.

Since I am a "man" and a "man" NEVER asks for directions or admits when he's made a wrong turn, we pushed on.

This is where the night could have turned ugly, but Jess is a patient young woman. Different night with a totally different personality in the passenger seat and I probably would have been screaming obscenities back.

That just speaks to Jess' personality and patience. Thank goodness.

It was forty-five minutes of wandering the one lane highway (the stripes in the middle had ceased to exist twelve miles back) that the lyrics popped into my head...

"Jesus take the wheee-eeee-eeeeellllll."

Jesus actually kicked back, took another belt of homemade wine (it was bath water just minutes earlier) and just smiled, comfortable in the knowledge that all roads lead somewhere.

Unless you're in Napa County.