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This is the time in the TV year when you never know what to expect.  Your regular shows might be showing re-runs already or they might be on a short hiatus, due to return in a few weeks.  At any rate, it’s a good time to stick your toe in the water and try some programs you normally don’t watch.

I’m going to give you a “down and dirty” rundown of some I’ve tried and enjoyed.  If you want to know more details, I’ll let you get those elsewhere. I’m just here to give you the general idea so you can decide if it might be something that would appeal to you.

Justified – This is a cable show on FX and since I don’t have cable, I’ve just finished Season One on DVD.  It’s about a U.S. Marshall named Raylan Givens, a character created by Elmore Leonard and played by Timothy Olyphant, who is transferred from Florida back to his hometown in Kentucky.  There he is surrounded by people he grew up with, many whom are now criminals.  He’s known for being rather quick on the draw, but he never shoots anyone unless it is “justified.”  I can’t take my eyes off of Olyphant.  He’s that good.  Great cast and stories.

The Chicago Code – This show is new this year on Fox and features Jennifer Beals as a police commissioner in Chicago.  She was put in the job by a devious, crooked  alderman who expected her to be his puppet.  It didn’t work out that way.  She has made it her goal to expose him and his criminal activities, with the help of an old friend on the force.  This show really illustrates how dirty politics work.  I didn’t expect to like it, but find myself enjoying it more and more.

Nikita – A spy-like show about a secret government organization which carries out assassinations.  Nikita is one of their former “students” who escaped and has gone freelance.  She has a mole inside in the person of a young woman.  Fast-paced.  Lots of action.

Shark Tank – This show was new last year and just returned.  Five or so venture capitalists listen to regular everyday people make a pitch for a product or service they’ve discovered or invented.  Any one or all of the “sharks” can make an offer to invest in their company.  I find it fascinating to see what people come up with and how they sell their ideas.  This is on Fridays at 7:00 p.m. central time.

Doc Martin – This is a British show on PBS that’s shown at 8:00 Saturday nights.  It’s about a brilliant surgeon who discovered that he passes out at the sight of blood.  Thus, he has opened a general practice in a small town on the British seaside.  He’s goofy-looking, has no bedside manner and is a brilliant doctor.  I would say that he’s like “House,” but without the maliciousness.  This guy just doesn’t know how to act with people, except his elderly aunt who has a farm in the town.  I came across this show by accident and, at first, was mesmerized by the strangeness of this character.  The guy is so rude and yet cares about healing people.  I often find myself getting angry with him and then feeling sorry for him.  The stories are a mixture of humor and pathos.  All I can say is I showed  up by accident and now stay by choice.  Charming show.

Okay, that’s it for now.  I was going to make a crack about that new show, Body of Proof, and how, after seeing a million commercials with Dana Delany’s smug smile, I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole, but then I figured that would be beneath me, so I won’t.

 

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In my last post I mentioned that the Pain Doctor had me discontinue a medication abruptly.  Even though I had recalled reading that you’re not supposed to stop this particular one like that, I knew that this doctor wouldn’t appreciate having a patient point something like that out to him, so I didn’t.  And, after all, he was the doctor and I assumed that he knew what he was doing.  It wasn’t until my friend Dee pointed out that my anxiety and inability to sleep and stay asleep were withdrawal effects that I realized that I should have geared myself down on my own.  But, by then I had gone a couple of days without taking the medication and I hated the thought of starting over.  Thus, I decided to just “tough it out.”

Toughing it out has meant waking up at about 2:10 a.m. every morning and being unable to get back to sleep.  The first time it happened I was upset and frustrated and tossed and turned, all while trying not to hurt or disturb my newly healed leg. It was a very negative experience which started the next day off all wrong.

So then I decided to embrace this new challenge.  When I’d wake up, I’d find ways to fill the time.  One morning (night?) I worked on remembering all of my elementary school teachers’ names and I got them right all the way through sixth grade.  Oddly enough, high school teachers were harder. Only the really good and really bad ones made an impression.

Another night I got out of bed and went downstairs in the dark and peered out my front window.  Right when I parted the blinds, a deer looked up from my stepping-stones where he had been feasting on a buffet of berries.  He stared at me intently and I stared right back, careful to avoid any sudden movements.  It was a special moment, like we were sharing a secret.  I wondered where the rest of his family was and if maybe he, like me, was unable to sleep.

Later, when I returned to bed, I was still not able to fall asleep, so I did one of my old tricks.  In my head I picked a book I’d read and enjoyed and began casting for a movie of it.  That may sound easy enough, but finding actors and actresses in this day and age to perfectly fit a character can take forever, and that’s even using people who are already dead.  I don’t think I’ve ever completely cast a whole movie…at least not yet.

Another night, another 2:15 a.m. awakening.  For a while I just listed things in my life I’d like to change, but realized that that’s not an ideal activity when you’re already on the precipice of depression.  So, once more I slipped out of bed.  I turned off the burglar alarm and then, wearing only my slinky Hollywood nightgown, slipped out onto the balcony and into the chilled night air.  I stood at the railing, gazing out into the night and listening to the nocturnal sounds of the wind and critters in the underbrush.  I noticed a light on in a townhouse across the way and wondered what the story was there.  Was a couple up fighting because  the husband had only just gotten home?  Was a mother walking the floor with a sick baby?  Was someone suffering with a toothache and counting the hours until the dentist’s office opened?  Or did someone just fall asleep in front of the television?  Whomever it was, I felt a camaraderie toward my fellow night stalker.

But although I’m trying to make lemonade out of lemons one more time, I hope my body reverts to normal soon.  I’m not a napper and this getting by on only four hours of sleep is starting to take its toll.  But still, there’s something to be said for those wee hours of the morning when I have the world almost all to myself.  I can be Queen Of All I Survey…and I like it.

You can take the title of this either way.  It was indeed a weird encounter.  But I’m also beginning to think it was an encounter with a weird doctor, as well.

I wrote about having an MRI which revealed that I had a ruptured disc which was compressing my sciatic nerve, which runs all the way down my leg.  That’s why I could not stand up straight and why I was limping.  I was sent to a pain management center at a hospital to get a spinal epidural steroid injection.  When I met the pain doctor, he was very friendly, understanding and informative, explaining about ruptured discs and what they were going to do that day.  At the time I was in so much pain that I would have believed the moon was purple. I just wanted him to get on with it!   Right before I was sedated he told me that for some people one shot was sufficient, but for others, it took two to really have an effect.  So he’d see me again in two weeks and we could determine at that time if I needed another.

When I got up off the table (who knows how much later?) my back pain was gone and I stood up straight for the first time in five days.  The leg was different matter.  Long story short, it improved a bit, but then stopped and was throbbing in my shins to the point where it was waking me up in the middle of the night…every night.

As I neared the second appointment, I was pretty sure I’d need the second shot.  Then a funny thing happened the night before.  I was watching TV and was looking up sciatica on the Internet where I read that some gentle stretching exercises were very helpful.  I doubted I could do them, but on the next commercial, I got down on the floor and tried them, VERY GENTLY.  Then I went back to what I had been doing.  A moment later I realized…the throbbing had stopped! And it didn’t come back.  Weirdest thing I’ve ever experienced.

Meanwhile the pain clinic had moved forward, assuming I’d have another “treatment,” even to the point of calling the day before to remind me not to eat or drink after midnight.  When I saw the doctor, I told him what had happened.  He looked surprised and, if I’m not mistaken, a bit disappointed.  He frowned and said, “You have a pretty seriously ruptured disc there and make no mistake, exercise won’t help and steroid shots or medication won’t cure it.  As a matter of fact, if it acts up after a second shot, I think we should call in a back surgeon.”  He then asked me if I wanted to get a second shot “just in case.”  I told him that since I wasn’t feeling any pain at the moment, I didn’t see the point.  I asked him about some pills he gave me and he said I could stop them.  Actually, I think I ruined his whole day.  Now here’s the weird part.  I went home and did some more research and according to many sources, this one being Cedars-Sinai Hospital:

More than 90% of patients who have a herniated disc will improve within six months after nonsurgical treatment. For this reason, nonsurgical treatment is usually tried before surgery is considered. Nonsurgical treatment usually includes:

* Rest, followed by a gradual increase in activity

* Medication to control pain and inflammation

* Exercises recommended by the doctor or physical therapist to help reduce pain and strengthen the muscles that support the back

In some cases, herniated discs heal on their own by a process called resorption. During resorption, the body absorbs parts (fragments or tissue) from a herniated disc that has ruptured.

Surgery may become necessary in only a small number (less than 10 percent) of people who have herniated discs. Surgery may be considered for people who have progressive nerve damage or severe weakness or numbness or for those whose pain has not been relieved by other methods.

Almost EVERYTHING he said to me was contradicted by this, the Mayo Clinic, Web M.D., etc.!  What am I to think?  Oh, and I stopped the medicine he told me to stop and had a very bad reaction a couple of days later.  I found out you’re not supposed to stop it abruptly!  It says:

If you suddenly stop taking Gabapentin, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, nausea, pain, and sweating.

I had all of those except the sweating.

So what’s the deal?  Who can you trust?  Could it be that this doctor gets a kickback or commission on these epidurals?  Before you scoff, let me tell you what just one costs.  $2,290.63 !!!!!!  No, I’m not kidding.  Something to think about, isn’t it?



 

When I heard about who was in the cast of this season’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” I wasn’t overly excited.  There were a few people I was sort of interested in, like Dionne Warwick and David Cassidy, but I didn’t really hold out too much hope that it would be a good great season.  Boy, was I wrong about everything!

First, there’s the cast, which has surely proven to me that appearances are deceiving.  It is made up of:  LaToya Jackson (Michael’s sister,)  Gary Busey (crazy actor,) Star Jones (former “View” co-host,) NeNe Leakes (“Real Housewives of Atlanta,”) Lisa Rinna (actress,) Marlee Matlin (actress,) Dionne Warwick (singer and Psychic Friend,) David Cassidy (’70’s heart throb,) John Rich (country singer,) Richard Hatch (winner of the first “Survivor,”) Meat Loaf (rock legend,) Mark McGrath (former lead singer,) Jose Conseco (former baseball player and steroid user,) Lil Jon (rapper,) Niki Taylor (super model,) and Hope Dworaczyk (Playboy Playmate of the Year.)

The very first episode got off to such a rollicking start that I just knew this season would be a load of fun.  All of my preconceptions were thrown to the wind.  People I thought I liked have turned out to be villains.  People I didn’t like have won me over.  And all of these strong personalities have made for a tinderbox just waiting to be ignited!  Great TV!

Before I get to the Good and the Bad and the Busey, I want to take a minute to talk about players who didn’t have a chance.  David Cassidy whom, by the way, I never had crush on in his “Partridge Family” days, has joined the club of “celebrities-who-have-had-too-much-plastic-surgery.”  Seriously!  He’s 61 and his face is as smooth as a baby’s behind.  But it’s stretched so tightly that I feared that any moment his stitches would pop and all of his facial skin would collapse around his jaw like a basset hound’s!  I think David had hoped to be more of a hot-shot than this show allows.  He turned out to be whiny and was soon sent home.  Lisa Rinna, who I kind of didn’t mind, forgot to make friends and when the sharks began to circle, she had no allies and was gulped up quickly and sent home.  Niki Taylor was really soft-spoken and nice and on this show nice girls finish, if not last, then pretty fast.  She’s gone.  And Richard Hatch who was absolutely diabolical on the first “Survivor,” thinks he’s going to win this, but I can tell  that the guys are less than impressed with him.  I think his days are numbered.

As for the Good – Marlee Matlin, whom I have never much cared for before, has become my hero.  She’s one of the few women who will step up and tell it like it is to Donald Trump.  Her translator is so good and fast, that her deafness hasn’t been a problem at all.  She calls people on their hypocrisy and doesn’t allow herself to be rolled over.  I’m pulling for her.  LaToya Jackson, while not exactly a powerhouse of initiative, seems so sweet that I can’t help but like her.  And NeNe Leakes, whom I’ve never seen on the “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” is coming across as a real person, not perfect, but trying. Hope Dworaczyk, the Playmate, has kept a pretty low profile, but so far she hasn’t pissed me off.

On the men’s team I’ve taken a real shine to Meat Loaf, who, surprisingly, has a very sentimental streak and cries when talking about his charity.  Mark McGrath, John Rich and Lil Jon all seem to be really nice guys.  I’m wondering if any of them will be able to sharpen up their knives when they need to.

Now for the Bad – On the men’s team, Jose Conseco is the baddest of the bad.  This guy is not only rude, but lazy, as well.  On the last task, while others were working their tails off, he spent most of the time relaxing in a recliner or playing catch with Gary Busey.  Since he’s a former baseball player, I’m very surprised that he has no concept of being a team player.

But the real baddies are on the women’s team.  Here we have two.  Star Jones is the slippery kind of villain.  She is totally nice to your face and when you turn around, she’ll stab you in the back.  Honestly, when she’s explaining herself, she’s so persuasive that I can see why someone would buy into it.  But I also see how she manipulates everyone and everything.  I believe she’s probably the most dangerous player and has a good chance of winning.

Then there’s Dionne Warwick.  Oh boy, did I ever have her wrong!  She has been the most despicable, rude, arrogant and lazy player I’ve ever seen.  I got so mad watching her that I often wanted to throw something at the television!  For one task the teams had to write a children’s book.  As the women brainstormed the idea of diversity, Marlee suggested that one of the characters could be deaf.  Dionne piped up and said, “Oh no!  That would be too sad and pathetic!  We don’t want the kids to feel sorry for a character like that.”  Marlee came right back with “Well, I’m deaf and I’m not sad and pathetic!”  Dionne just ignored her, like she ignores everyone who disagrees with her.  She insisted on having her way and the team lost.  Since then, I could tell that the other team members were becoming frustrated with how slowly she does things and how she’ll refuse to listen to anyone.  Up until last Sunday they left her alone in the Boardroom because “Well, she IS a legend,” or “Well, when I get to be her age…”  But she pushed them too far.  She’s so rude and mean-spirited that I refuse to play any of my Dionne Warwick albums ever again.  It was a joy to hear Donald Trump tell her: “You’re Fired!”

And then there’s Gary Busey!  I’ll admit he’s a bit out there and I know he’s driving his team crazy, but I see a bit of underlying sweetness in him.  He’s told people that after a bad motorcycle injury he had a traumatic brain injury and that’s the charity he’s playing for.  When his team complained in the Boardroom that he doesn’t always listen to them, he made an interesting admission.  He said that just the week before Marlee told him she thought his hearing was compromised and fixed him up with a specialist.  He said he now has a hearing aid and exclaimed, “she changed my world!”  It kind of brings home the idea of not judging someone too soon, doesn’t it?  It wasn’t that he wasn’t listening.  It was that he couldn’t hear. And, crazy as he may be, when he was Project Manager, his team won.  Maybe it was his very spaciness that made his team work harder.  Who knows?  That could be his strategy…although I doubt it.

Like I said, I can tell this show is going to get better and better with each week.  You don’t have to be a regular viewer to enjoy it.  So, if you want to have a peek, it’s on NBC Sunday night from 8 to 10 central time.  It’s a great escape.  And it’s fun to watch.  Just thought I’d share that with you.

I have several totally unrelated bits and pieces to share, but then, aren’t they usually?  First off, during these past two weeks when I’ve been dealing with such pain in my back and leg, there’s one important duty I’ve neglected, which has come back to bite me.  I’ve totally neglected to fight back against the mole!!! And the result?  Take a look for yourself.  Once he realized that I wasn’t out there pounding the tunnels back down, he had himself a field day. There are over ten tunnels there and those are just the ones to the left of my stepping-stones!  It makes me sick.

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Dolly Parton was a guest on Good Morning America this morning.  Now, first off, I love Dolly.  I really do.  I have several of her albums and think she is the sweetest person.  But, let me tell you, she has GOT to stop having plastic surgery!  When they showed her the first time, I took a double-take.  Her mouth is pulled to both sides so tightly that she looks like The Joker in Batman!  And her eyes, too, are pulled so that they look like Catwoman’s!  I was going to include a picture here, but all of her pictures are touched up.  She’s 65, for crying out loud.  Why doesn’t she just accept it?

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I was in a mood to shake things up, so I decided to go with a different color of fingernail polish.  First I tried lavender, but it make my hands look corpse-like.  But then I tried this blue and I kind of like it!  What do you say?  Go or no?  (Please ignore the bony, OLD, red-knuckled hands!  They’re the only ones I have.)

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And finally, for those of you who have told me that I should have a pet, I have finally found the perfect one for me.  Ready?

Okay, here it is...a lap giraffe!

I need one of these badly.  I really do.  You all know I do.  Just because my birthday has just passed, don’t let that stop you.  It would make a lovely “belated birthday gift.”  You can find out more about them HERE.

So, until I get that big surprise…



Well, what do you know?  I went outside the other day and found a sky full of clouds and immediately ran inside for my camera!  The funny thing was – everything I “saw” involved heads and faces.  There were no bodies, no interesting scenes, but perhaps those will come with warmer weather.  I’ve decided to present them to you from easiest to hardest, since you’re probably out of practice.  Without further ado, here is the easiest.

I call this one “Doofus Guy.”  It’s pretty hard to miss him. His eye is in the upper middle and he has a very pointy nose.  His mouth is open and he has a small chin and a long neck.  His collar is up.  Oh yeah, and he has long hair that is blowing in the wind.  See him?

This second one is “Rabid Clouds.”  Two crazy vicious clouds are about to devour the helpless one in the middle. Okay, you can barely see the one in the middle over the fence.  On the left is one insane cloud with his mouth open and a mean eye.  The one on the right also has his mouth open and he looks to be purely evil!

Okay this next one is called “Gremlin Guy.”  I think he’s pretty obvious, too. His pointy nose is in the middle-right of the picture.  He also looks remarkably like Grandpa Munster from the TV show.

Okay, now we’re getting into harder territory.  This one is called “Girl in a Coma.”  She is lying down and staring straight up. If you start at the left upper corner, you’ll be at her hair and bangs.  Move down and you see her big eye, complete with eyelashes.  She kind of has a piggy nose and her mouth is slightly open.  She also has braids behind her head.  This one takes an eye.  Can you make her out?

And last but not least, is the hardest one of all.  You get extra credit if you can figure out this one.  Sometimes when I look at it I can’t see anything.  Then, when I make it out, I can’t believe how obvious it is.  It’s called “The Guy From Above.”  It’s not God, but probably a friend of His. To orientate you, in the middle toward the bottom of the screen is a blob of cloud which is his big fat nose.  From there, you should be able to see two eyes, a smiling mouth and a white beard on his chin.  Or, you could start at the beard which is in the lower middle right and work up from there.  He is literally looking down at the earth from the sky.  Can you see him?

So, now that I’ve given your minds a good workout, I’ll bring this to a close.  As always, if you have the time I’d love to know which ones you found and which you couldn’t see.  And until next time, remember “Keep your eyes on the skies.”

Something weird is going on in my house.  At first I just thought I was going crazy or something, but now I’m beginning to suspect “outside forces.”

It started a couple of days ago. I woke up and went into the bathroom to wash my face.  But, when I looked into the mirror, I got a shock.  My bangs were standing straight up! Let me clarify why that was so odd.  I have the kind of bangs that are relatively thick and are the kind which lay down straight just by the force of gravity.  Still, it would be normal if I got up and they were messy, as in tousled or disarranged or even swept a bit to the side.  But, in order to achieve the look I found, I would have had to wet them down, apply hair gel and then comb them straight up to dry that way!  Sure, I’ve been on pain pills for my back, but come on!  I would never do that to my hair in a million years!  As I gazed at this totally unfamiliar me, I began to get seriously creeped out. I started looking around to make sure there weren’t hidden cameras somewhere.

Then today when I woke up, I noticed that one of the bottles of e-juice (for my electronic cigarette,) that was on the nightstand was missing.  I had used it before I went to bed and it should have been right there with another bottle.  It was gone.  I’m the only person who lives in my house.  I got up and checked the bookcase, my vanity table and the bathroom counter and it was nowhere to be found.  Once again, creepy feeling.  After a cup of coffee, I was making the bed and, out of curiosity, looked under it.  I saw the bottle cap first and then the bottle, but not at the edge of the bed where it would have been if I had knocked if off the nightstand in my sleep.  It was way in the middle under the bed, so far under that I had to crawl to get it! Now, how could that have happened?  How could it have fallen off and rolled way under there?  The floor is carpeted.

It was about now that I began to wonder about elves or maybe some other-worldly sort of beings.  After all, I’m known to be alien-friendly.  But still, I decided to let it go as some sort of inexplicable fluke…until now.

I was in the kitchen drying some dishes, using the dish towel which I took off the rack.  As I was drying a bowl, I felt something round and hard in the dish towel.  When I tracked it down with my fingers, I saw it was one of the little rubber feet from the bottom of one of my iBooks!  Huh?  I went to check the iBook.  Sure enough, one of its little feet was missing.  But here’s the thing, at no time have those two objects ever been in the same room.  Never.  So how did the little foot make its way into the kitchen?  Not by human means, I can tell ya that!

So yes, my house has been invaded by elves or aliens or alien elves or something.  I’m sure they have a great sense of humor and are, even now, circulating a picture of me with my bangs standing straight up on their little Facebook pages.

So it starts out funny, but who knows where it goes from here?  All I can say is that if I don’t appear on this blog in a couple of days, you might want to notify the National Security Council or the folks at Area 51 or something.  Just sayin’