Saturday, January 05, 2008

Stacy's Top 5 TV Shows of 2007

Keep in mind, I'm not a TV reviewer, so all the following reviews are highly arbitrary and completely at the whim of what I could get NetFlix to mail me in the past year.

Thus, these are not necessarily new shows from the past years, just the ones I found time (ha!) at Dialysis to view.

That was a pretty boring disclaimer to what follows. I'd go back and delete it, but that would take too much energy and the tank is needling "E" right about now.

5) "The Office"

I can't get over how addicted I am to this show. I had only read about the British version and attempted to view it on PBS, but the accents are so thick I couldn't make out a word anyone was saying.

I can't name one episode that I haven't been entertained by. The office is run by a numb skull of a boss in Michael, pitch perfectly played by Steve Carell. Give it five minutes and you'll recognize someone from your own workplace that you either despise or pine for.

The real reason the show is so entertaining is the writing and many of the cast members on- screen are also writers on the show. Ludicrous situation's are balanced with moments of humanity that may surprise you. Rent Season 1 immediately. You can thank me later.

4) "30 Rock"

The funniest show on television. Tiny Fey has crafted a Mary Tyler Moore for the new millennium: a normal, working 30-something woman trying to find sanity in an asylum full of crazies. Alec Baldwin steals the show every time he's on screen, but Tracy Morgan and Jack McBrayer also bring fantastic comic timing to the proceedings. Much like "The Office" above, rent Season One and thank me later.

3) "The Sopranos"

I've always considered the first thirteen episodes of Season One to be a standard that the remaining seasons never quite achieved.

Until Season Six, the final season.

There was a big question mark dangling over this season as to why David Chase and his crew took so long to release the final two halves of Season Six. As you watch, it becomes highly apparent. There is a deliberate pace in storytelling this season that allows events to happen naturally. Nothing if forced, everything is honest and forthright.

And the controversial ending? In hindsight, pitch perfect. When I first viewed it, jarring as all hell.

2) "Six Feet Under"

Each episode begins with a rather unique and sometimes troubling death. Through the endless funerals at the Fisher Funeral Home, we learn about the lives of an extended family that's just as dysfunctional as the rest of us. Even for all my love for "The Sopranos" this is my favorite HBO production of all time. Alan Ball's creation was helped by an underrated cast that brought their vast talents each and every week.

And the finale was pitch perfect. I can't remember the last time I was so satisfied by the ending of a series.

1) "Battlestar Galactica"

Ron Moore (formerly of Star Trek) took the original promising premise from the seventies TV show and updated for a whole new generation. The series begins with parallels to 9/11 as the Cylons, who've been dormant for forty years, suddenly declare war on the human factions. The Galactica is about to be turned into a museum but survives because their computers aren't linked by an updated network and aren't felled by a Cylon computer virus.

War, betrayal, loyalty, politics, love, faith, conspiracies-a-plenty and cliffhangers galore. Don't be put off if you're not a science fiction fan. The show just happens to take place in space (at least until Season 3) I still have Season Three to watch on DVD and Season Four premieres on the Sci-Fi channel in April.

Since I'll be turning my life over to six days a week Dialysis starting Monday, if you've got a show on DVD you'd like to recommend, I'd love to hear about it.

I've got plenty of time to watch.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Dialysis' Dirty Little Secret

I must speak now because I believe you deserve to know the truth.

The Dirty Little Secret about Dialysis.

Once you're hooked up to the machine and your blood is swimming through the filter, before your treatment is finished, something is taken from you.

But it's so minuscule you don't even know it's gone.

Since the early 1980's, a little known branch of the government has been stealing DNA from Dialysis patients in an effort to create an army of clones in an effort to supplement our already dwindling military ranks.

Scientists with bleached while coats and spectacles dangling at the end of their noses pry into that tiny chunk of DNA you're not missing, repair whatever ails you, makes some minor tweaks to improve said specimen and then foster a new you.

But here's where they've made a vital error.

Once the Super Stacy has been fully developed, all he'll want to do is watch Winona Ryder movies, eat anchovy pizza and laugh at his own jokes.

That's right. Make laugh, not war.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Stacy's Top 5 Films From 2007

Dialysis, although blatantly evil and lacking in true compassion, has afforded me uncompromising hours of free time to indulge my true Cinephile nature.

What the hell else am I going to do there? Rate the length and duration of the farts of the patient next to me? Count the blood spots on the machine nearby? Wonder aloud whether Superman could take on Godzilla in a no holds barred fight?

But I digress, or redress, depending on the time of day.

I must thank the fine staff at NetFlix for allowing me the bargain of renting roughly fifteen to twenty discs a month and only charging me $19.95. If I were to visit the video store for every film I desired, my income would evaporate exponentially.

And do know that I say "FROM" 2007 because some of the following were released in 2006, but I didn't manage to rent them until this last year.

Dim the lights. Heat the popcorn. Put your feet up. It's a momentous time.


5) "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"

Many will dismiss my tastes simply from viewing this on my list. I have never indulged in any of the books, but the film's are true Hollywood magical popcorn escapism. (Keep in mind my rating system is based on whether a film I'm watching at Dialysis can take me so far out of myself that I forget that my arm is burning with rage and that I feel like a used rag doll.) As the final battle takes place and our heroes are fighting for their lives, I glanced up at the ever mocking clock and I had a half hour to go. Thank the Cinema God for these films and I can't wait for the remaining two.

4) "The Pursuit of Happyness"

I've always been a fan of Will Smith. I seem to appreciate actors who I personally feel I'd like to hang out with and Will seems like that kind of dude. This is the ultimate underdog story proving that tenacity and faith add up to an equation of determination that is unstoppable. And give some kudos to his son Jaden who's got some acting chops and made the relationship between the two that much more real. I was a little disappointed to find out in the extras that the character's son, even after all his father sacrificed for him, is simply living off of his father's wealth, but that doesn't take away from the power of this film.

3) "Casino Royale"

Once MGM went back and produced Special Edition's of all the previous James Bond films I started to rent them in order and was fascinated by the extras. "From Russia With Love" is still my all time favorite because it's a simple spy flick but with all the flavoring of a true Bond film. I ended up stopping when I reached the second Roger Moore film because they were starting to dabble in camp. This is the first Bond film in thirty years to get it right. Although I believe Clive Owen may have been an exceptional Bond too, Daniel Craig fills the role nicely, tailoring it to his personal talents. It's a reboot and a retool that works on all levels. And yes, I want to steal away Eva Green and keep her for my own.

2) "Children of Men"

I just squeaked this one in before the end of the year and I was haunted and mesmerized during the entire film. Within the first few minutes you're transported to London in 2027 and not much has changed. Except for the fact that there hasn't been a child born in eighteen years. We're following Clive Owen through the war torn streets and a bomb goes off. The film doesn't let you go until the unfortunate but hopeful end.

1) "Talk to Me"

I can't tell enough people about this film. Don Cheadle (one of my all time favorite actors who can play anybody) stars as an ex-con in the late 60's who somehow talks his way into a radio show on the first R&B radio station in the country. The period detail is fantastic, the civil turmoil is palpable and the entire cast shines. It's a story few know and I was surprised how long the images and feelings from the film stayed with me. Yes, as a radio personality this might seem like a biased choice, but that was merely the template for the entire story to play upon.

In the past, films were merely a vessel to transport me to places and times that I would never fully enjoy in my lifetime.

Now they're medicinal necessities injected into my soul to free me from the indignities of Dialysis.

And thank God for them.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

My Mom the Savior

I was talking to the Greek Goddess recently (who's also on Dialysis) and our conversation wandered into how we discovered our condition.

(People call it ESRD. That's just a medical way of saying "End Stage Renal Disease.")

I remember mine quite vividly.

We had been trekking back and forth between Stockton and UCSF a number of times and I was blissfully unaware of the full extent of my condition.

My parents had just started their own screen printing business and my Dad always stayed and worked while my Mom shuttled me to these excruciatingly tedious appointments.

Before all the strip malls and fast food stops along the 580 corridor, once you passed Tracy, Pleasanton and Livermore didn't really have many exits. Except for the impending traffic, it was usually a pleasant drive with slices of Americana: the aroma of cows, the roar of tractors and the occasional hitchhiker.

Halfway between our trek was the Hopyard Road exit with a gas station and a Denny's. That's it.

God help me but I loved Denny's when I was a kid. Maybe it was because it was a treat I felt I deserved. Because an hour or so later I'd be filling up a container with urine or handing over my blood to another merciless needle.

It was on one of these fateful trips that my Mom laid everything out for me. Between the time we ordered and the arrival of my eggs and juice, I learned my fate.

She never talked down to me, never simplified the facts. She knew I was bright enough to understand if she explained it slowly and patiently. I remember the look in her eyes vividly. Her gaze never left mine, serious but concerned.

I gained a lot of respect for my Mom that day and an appreciation for her I have never allowed to waver.

A year later she went under the knife and sacrificed her kidney so I could forge a better life for myself.

My Mom is in her sixties now, retired and enjoying a well deserved rest with my father in the middle of nowhere in Oregon.

If I told her this story, she might not remember. That's ok. We made countless trips to and from the hospital that they all blurred into one long excursion.

I've carried this with me my entire life and never had a chance to thank her, so thank you Mom.

And I have to end this entry now because I'm starting to tear up.

Good night Mom.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

345 and Counting...

As the first day of the New Year begins unabated I find that my yearly does of bronchitis has made its yearly visit.

Although it's early this year. Probably missed me.

There are many things I hope to accomplish this year regardless of how Dialysis tries to steal them from me. Most of which is I would like to give this blog the attention it deserves. In 2007, my blog became weak and abandoned, fettering among the winds of the polluted internet.

I have made a vow to myself to blog every single day in 2007.

I know. How enterprising. And quite possibly, how annoying.

I've been keeping this wonderfully unkempt notebook jotting down ideas for short stories I've had tinkering around the ghettos of my mind, hoping to bring them to fruition. For the longest time I've felt like I've been waiting for something to push me to live one of my life long dreams. As the New Year has made itself fully known I've been reexamining my life and wondering what the hell I'm doing.

That's right. What the hell am I doing?

Sometimes I use Dialysis as an excuse, a lie to myself as to why I can't fulfill all of my true potential. Yes, most days I feel like crap. Sadly, that's something I've become accustomed to. So leaning on it like an old worn crutch isn't something I'm too proud of.

I have two dreams left in my life and before I recoil into the depths of history I'd like to know that I gave every ounce of my being to achieve them. I will share those with you now:

1. To be a published author.

--- I started this blog as a way to flex my writing muscles and see if I still had enough talent buried in the crevices of my soul. If I had tried ten years ago I wouldn't have had the life experience. And truth be told, everything I wrote then was more trite and superficial than I'd like to admit.

As I continue to age I find more and more that my condition has given me insight into appreciation for parts of life that otherwise I would have taken for granted.

And all those years patiently waiting in doctor's offices and hospital beds pushed my imagination to create worlds for myself so I could deal with my circumstances.

That too, has surprisingly been a blessing.

I have set a goal of twelve short stories by the end of the year. Will I finish one a month and move happily on? Probably not. But twelve is a viable and achievable goal.

2. Voice an animated character.

--- Every since I started in radio over ten years ago I've always wanted to be the voice of an animated character. If you've ever listened for more than five minutes to me while on the air (and God help you if you have) I believe some individuals picture me rather cartoonish. Actually, when listeners meet me in person they wonder why I'm not taller.

Um, that's, a, compliment? Sort of?

Anyway, there's a world renowned voice over training, production and recording studio in Sonoma that I've been wanting to attend. I have years of training behind the mic but I have no experience putting a demo tape together for voice over much less how to market one.

I think that would be a good investment and probably a hugely entertaining and life gaining experience.

To summarize, the preceding are NOT resolutions. Merely goals I have for the New Year.

And Dialysis be damned.