Monday, March 31, 2008

Zen and the Art of Having the Flu

This week, on top of everything else, I was hit with one of the worst flu bugs. I totally blame my sister, who on despite being sick with the flu came over to my parents to make dinner for Easter. My germs are in everything she said. Great. By Monday I was feeling odd, by Tuesday afternoon I was leaving work early. I don't get sick that often (hangovers not included), and when I do it lasts a day at the most. But this was as Hazel would say, 'a doozy'.

High temps, chills, coughing. It was the full symphony of symptoms. I just gave in and slept when I could and when I was awake I drank lots of hot water and lemon and watched a lot of TV shows. There is something zen like about having the flu. I remember when I was young, there was an excitement about it. Staying home from school, lots of attention, and getting to see all the shows that you missed during the day. I mentioned Hazel earlier, but of all the shows that one reminds me more of being home sick. For Years, WGN 9AM. Hazel with it's non-threatening plots and quiet Shirley Booth cooing voice, were perfect for when the body was ailing.

So this time while I was fighting off the worst of it, I pondered what are the best shows to watch when you are sick. Comfort shows.I really believe that there should be a TV health ruling in hospitals. News, loud awful shows with people yelling at each other should be blocked.

Now I've gone on before about how today's TV is too loud. Especially morning shows. Too many talk shows with over excited audiences or 80's tired sitcoms with their blaring laugh tracks and sickeningly sweet stories. Soap operas still are quiet, but I never know what's going on, and being a completest I'm terrified I'll get caught up in one. So, I hit my reserve of old TV shows to drift away on. After a week of pondering and watching I thought I'd give you:

Dr Johnny C's Top Ten Shows to Watch When You Are Sick
10. Lost in Space - The color ones especially will dazzle and lull you into a quiet peaceful coma. Although a tad loud, I would not recommend this except for a head cold.

9. The Dick Van Dyke Show - Now you might be able to repeat the lines with these shows, but that's part of the healing process. Plus, the plot lines are usually so fun that you'll be a half hour to being well before you know it.

8. Fantasy Island - There is nothing like some quality eye candy and pretty scenery to make you forget your runny nose. And there is nothing that can shut off your brain like Fantasy Island.

7. Alfred Hitchcock - A sublime flu show. It has it all quiet, interesting, and in some cases sleep inducing. That's not a bad thing, sleep is important in getting over a flu and your mind has to be distracted by something to fall asleep.

6. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
- The same qualities that made Dick Van Dyke such a good flu show are carried over when Mary got her show. Except even more, the music was much more soothing using muted clarinets instead of blaring horns. I recommend this show especially if the flu bug hits you in the dead of winter.

5. Dragnet (circa 1967). Like Alfred Hitchcock, you will be distracted, but unlike Hitchcock you'll most likely be dozing comfortably before the end of the show. The dazzling Technicolor and stilted dialogue can be taken together, or try a cold cloth over your eyes and just listen. Works just as well.

4. The Lucy Show: Now I might get some flack for picking The Lucy Show over I Love Lucy, but for shear comfort nothing works like the early black and white ones with Viv and Lucy getting stuck in a shower. Warning: This is only for a sniffly cold. Everyone seems to yell a lot in this show. It's too loud for a flu.

3. The Doris Day Show - Next to Hazel the quietest, cozy show that was ever put on TV. Pretty, colorful, vapid, but totally engaging. Should be used during the worst flu. I once had a flu that was so bad that I probably should have gone to the hospital. I swear the Doris Day Show was the only thing I could even begin to watch. It was also the only thing that did not stick in my head when I slept. I made the mistake of watching the Simpsons and Lisa's laugh rang in my head for hours.

2. Bewitched - Like Hazel, the color Bewitched's have this certain patina about them for me. They are a perfect flu show because they incorporate all the best elements; They colorful, funny, sleep inducing, but not boring. This flu I happened to time my sickness with the one where Endora gets Dr. Bombaby to cure Darren's cold. It was good to watch a show where everyone had a cold.

1. The Andy Griffith Show: I was never a big fan of this show until I was in the hospital ten years ago for an appendix operation. I had several channels to choose from but I was on morphine and everything hurt. That was until I ran across Andy on at 6 in the morning. Suddenly everything seemed right in the world.

Anyway... I had to share my favorites... What are yours?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The News So Far... I've not been posting a lot lately, I'm sorry about that... The blog has always been a good escape for me. But I've made a goal this year not to sit mindlessly in front of the computer. I've re-joined my gym trying helplessly to get back into some sort of shape that doesn't resemble an Troll Doll.

But I felt like I had to keep some of my regular readers and friends up on what's been going on with my brother. If you remember in October I went through the process of being a stem cell donor for my brother. You can read the full post HERE.

After the procedure the doctors were extremely hopeful. His white blood cell counts went way up. Practically back to where they were before he was diagnosed. After the procedure he was put in isolation for 120 days - November until the end of March. I called him every week and really the worst part about it for him was the boredom. He'd say: "I've nothing to talk about, unless you want to know what happened on Judge Judy today..."

Two months ago I was on the El coming home from a dinner, when he called excitedly to tell me that the DNA test came back 100% and that my DNA had taken over his bone marrow and was producing white blood cels. He said that he was feeling better than he had in a long time. We both couldn't believe that this process had worked so well. Well... well...well...

Things have taken a drastic and fast turn for the bad. Three weeks ago he had a bone marrow test, which would show how many of my cells were producing in his marrow. The test came back at 93%. Now I guess for a math test that's a good score, but for a bone marrow test, it's not so good. The small amount of error has allowed the return of the Leukemia. I'm sure hearing this from the doctor has completely disseminated my brother's will to go on.

Within 3 weeks he's gone from hopeful to just waiting to die. I can't imagine what this must be for him after being isolated for that long waiting to go back to some order of a normal life to have it snatched away. As per my steely brother he just asked the doctor "When is the expiration date..." and he wanted to know if he could come to Easter at my parents to 'say goodbye'... His immune system is so weak that the doctor of course put the kabash on that.

This week he started back on chemo. The plan now is to kill off his immune system again him the 2nd bag of my stem cells. He had his first shot of chemo and within an hour of it had completely collapsed in his house. He is now in the cardiac unit because his blood pressure is so low. I have a feeling he's given up. I'd probably have the same feeling has him in the same situation.

So anyway, I had hoped to start a new series of blog posts starting with the great news of my brother's recovery, but I think that this is going to be a very gloomy spring.

I'll probably be posting the odd YouTube link or funny article for a while. But I wanted everyone who were regular readers to know why things may have seemed a little distant and scattered lately.

Best to all...

Monday, March 24, 2008

It's Raining McCain...

I'm taking a little blogging break, but I had to pass this gem along... via Toweleroad. As it's pointed out on that site... this is wrong on so many levels.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Super Highway

Considering that obstacle course trying to miss the potholes on the highways here in Chicago (especially Lake Shore Drive) I think we haven't quite made it to the future yet.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Monster of Frankenstein
Johnny C Has Way Too Much Time on His Hands

In the early 1970s Power Records put out a series of Famous Monsters book and record sets. They were intended for children to read along with the comic book as the Power Records cast dramatized them. As a young boy, I was enthralled by these and probably listened to them dozens of times. The blending of two great loves comic books and records!

I've been wanting to combine the image and sound together for a while, but I had to teach myself a new program. This is my first effort at doing anything like this. I've screwed up only once on the one of the scans, and I accidently left in a 'bing' where the page was supposed to be turned. I'll go back and fix these later. Let me know if you like it; I've three more to do!

Does anyone know the proper screen resolution for Google Video? Whenever I've tried to post this there it's been too fuzzy.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

More VCR Memories...

A month or so ago, I asked some of my favorite bloggers to give me their experiences with VCRs. The original post is HERE.

A couple bloggers didn't get me their contributions until after I published the post. So I thought I'd do a short addendum to that post.

BC's blog Twenty Years and Counting is a wonderfully written essay on life in Chicago in the late 80's. Although we occupied the same spaces, parties, clubs during that time, we really didn't get to know each other until 20 years later because of our blogs. Funny how the time goes.

From B.C:

I dated Doug in the Winter of 1984. I was 18, and he was 21. We saw each other a few times a week, when our busy student schedules would allow, for about a month. I liked him, and he liked me, but physically, we never got past the make-out stage. I didn't press him on sleeping together, but I playfully hinted around to him that I wouldn't refuse his advances, if they were to happen. One night, after 'last call', he said I'd really like it if you would spend the night at my place. I played it cool, and said Sure, but on the inside I was screaming YES!
Walking up the snow covered steps to the large, sleepy, turn of the century house made me feel a little intimidated. But upon entering, he told me it was chopped up into apartments sometime after WWII. I started to imagine men just getting home from their over-seas battles finding factory jobs in town, and spending long nights with their fellow GIs getting drunk, trying to forget the war. He lived with a roommate, and his rundown, homely college apartment belied the slick, chic, European image his clothing and hair portrayed.
Their place was very cramped and tiny, but the mid-century thrift finds, scattered among what looked like furniture left by the soldiers, elevated the vibe to 'artsy' and gave visitors a sense of what the place could really look like had they the money. I still lived with my dad, and a place of my own was only a distant dream.
Before we went to bed, I watched as he meticulously removed his de rigueur 1984 black eye liner with a Q-tip and dollop of Oil of Olay, in his tiny pink bathroom. Before he washed his face, he took off his small collection of necklaces and gave them to me to hold. I began studying them, when he mentioned the pearls were his grandmother's.
The pearls went so perfectly with his asymmetrical straight black hair and deep brown blazer. The were Excalibur-like: only he could pull off pearls and still look manly. I rolled my eyes when he offered me a fresh Q-tip to take off my make up. It'll prevent wrinkles, he warned. I'm not wearing any, I said.
Sleeping with him was worth the wait, and I was happy we finally had a night together. His tattoo held a special fascination for me; it was like an Aztec tile, a small blue dragon, and lay on his back as if archaeologists had just unearthed it from the sand. The next morning, he made us some toast and coffee, brewed in his Euro-style maker, with the v-shaped filters. Coffee never tasted so good.
Now that I have you like this, Brian, I never want to let you go. You feel so good next to me. He said as we lay on his couch. He kicked out his roommate, that frozen Wisconsin winter Sunday morning, and asked if I wanted to watch a movie.
I was impressed: he had a VCR. I had never seen a movie on a VCR. Back then, they were very expensive. My parents thought VCRs were too much of an indulgence, and bought us a video disc player in 1982. Why get a VCR? They would say. You can get the same movies on disc, for half the price!
Doug put in Bladerunner, a movie I wanted to, but hadn't seen. You gotta see this movie. Every square inch is designed to death, and every scene is beyond cool. He said.
To put it mildly, it blew me away. To this day I watch it twice a year. I was so excited when they re-released it in theaters in the early nineties, so I could finally see it on the big screen.
Watching the movie's over the top futurism unfold in the arms of a guy I really liked was heaven. I felt a little closer the movie's world, what with that small chunk of technology grinding away under the TV, seeding out the picture we were watching. That feeling was shattered a little when Ford's character took that ten minute dive into the world of his VCR, looking for clues to capture his prey.
I saw myself as part of the punk gay couple striding across the screen, in Scott's future urban scapes, hoping it would be Doug by my side. I wanted to be displayed like them; gazed upon. I day dreamed about looking as flawless as Sean did in the movie. I day dreamed about being a robot without a childhood.
It was so great we watched it again. Later that day, he took me to his studio, where he painted for school, and unrolled one amazing painting after another. I was so happy Doug had finally invited me into his private rooms, and I was starting to hope we would have more of a future together.
A few months later, I moved here to Chicago to be with him, to create a world of the future together, but to hear the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey likes to say, you'll have to read
Twenty Years and Counting on Blogger.

Aaron's blog Go Away I'm Reading is a daily journal of a local musician. It's insightful commentary on news stories or city life are always fun to read. Be sure to check out his posts where he answers questions by Dear Ellie. Hilarious. Aaron's ubiquitous comments can be seen on mine and many other blogs.

It was early 1984...when I wasn't busy listening to my new Eurythmics album, I accompanied my parents to Sherman's furniture and appliance store in Peoria to look at VCRs. I remember it well: a wood-cased (because it was considered a piece of furniture then) Hitachi that cost in the region of $800 (yes, they were new in those days--and I suppose wood wasn't cheap).We spent an entire week watching Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor in "The Mirror Crack'd" on tape (it had just been on HBO and my mother was quick to pirate things off cable :-)). I didn't learn to work it myself until later that summer.The machine lasted almost nine finally died (or at least, the motor broke) in 1992, right after I came home from college. Rather than pay to have it fixed, we set it out by the curb and just used the one I'd bought during school, until I moved out for good...Now I have TWO VCRs that are sitting in my closet unused. (My current TV set has a built in VCR and DVD player, so I don't need the outside units.)It's hard to watch VHS when you're used to DVD quality and don't have the popping and sizzling you get when tape starts to deteriorate. (Although DVDs sometimes have glitches in them and freeze up too...)

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Little Priest by Moshe & Joost

A few months ago I posted a video by this fabulous couple when they lip synched to a song from Lost Horizon .
Now they take on Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter's duet from Sweeney Todd.