Life is good

Even though the weather is crap - rainy and getting colder - I'm in a cheerful mood.


  1. The vertigo seems to have disappeared, thanks to last week's treatment. Thank you, Egle. (The physiotherapist Egle was/is so pretty that I kinda had the hots for her, especially when she put her arm around me during maneuvers.) Now I am hoping the Cub* will visit soon, although December is probably not an ideal month for mischief.
  2. After much nagging, my mother has been moved into a much nicer room at the long-term care facility. She also has her original roommate Jeane back, which is more good news as they both have relatively slight dementia. And they like each other. The facility has also introduced a musical therapy program.
  3. My friend Elizabeth* accompanied me to the John Cleese/Eric Idle show last Friday night, which was very funny. And I think it cheered Elizabeth to go out for some entertainment. She's been depressed the last few months and I was concerned.


After the Friday night show, we ended up talking about our college days and how much trouble we got into. It eventuated that neither of us got into serious trouble, but we both enjoyed occasionally pranking others when we were living in dormitories. 

My favorite prank was shower-related. It was pretty easy - all I would do is go into the bathroom, remove the shower head, insert one chicken boullion cube, replace the shower head and wait for a victim.

When someone began to use the pranked shower, the warm water would melt the boullion cube and make them feel all greasy. Of course, they would assume that continuing to shower would remove the greasiness and chicken smell when it was making it worse. Some people would stay in the shower for quite a while before they figured it out.

Med school students all enjoy pranking the freshmen, usually during cadaver dissections. But my favorite is when one of her fellow student's fathers - a doctor - arranged with a professor to prank the entire class on the first day of school by pretending to be the professor for the first two minutes.

Of course, the fake professor outlined a study course that terrified everyone. He began by describing a reading list that nobody could possibly complete, and ended with a statement that only about 10% of the students in the room would be able to pass all of the courses and become doctors. Elizabeth said that one of her friends literally began to cry during the prank. 

* See The Usual Suspects.


Kill me now, part 2

I just spent about 15 minutes trying to describe the plot of the movie Dr Strangelove to three colleagues. Two out of three were over 30.

It seems that you have to be pretty damn old to have seen this movie and to appreciate the black humour.

Something I've always wondered about is why actor George C Scott didn't do more comedy, although he later claimed that Kubrick "tricked" him into playing Buck Turgidson in this manner:


Another reason to call it Black Friday

Kill me now. 

Here's what happened at work this morning. Since few of us are here today and I was working on some boring edits, I decided to put on my headphones and listen to my Pandora stations. Some of my playlists are pretty hokey. For example, one is a selection of traditional country and western. I even like western swing now and then.

I suppose I inherited this from my father, as he was big into the country music. None of this modern crap, he had stacks of George Jones, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash LPs.  I even found some Elvis Presley 78 rpm Sun Records recordings in his closet after his death. (78rpm records are depressingly fragile; one broke in half simply because I picked it up.)

To  make a long and embarrassing story short, a Willie Nelson song came on - one that my father had owned. He had the original Bob Wills version on an old fashioned, 33 1/3 rpm record. He played it a lot so I learned the whole damn song by the time I was in kindergarten.

I forgot where I was and began to sing along with it.

Of course my workmates found this sufficiently amusing to videotape me doing this. My back was turned, so it took me almost a minute to notice. And if you haven't already guessed this, I can't sing. If they post it on YouTube I may have to kill someone.

Readers will not understand the extent of my embarrassment without knowing what song I was singing, so here's the original version. Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys perform it within a movie:




Winston Churchill's greatest hit

Still plagued with vertigo (I'm not dizzy when sitting, just when walking around), I decided to spend some time sorting an out of control music library. This is something I begin every few months, but it never goes anywhere, as I always end up listening instead of filing.

I surfed a few of the more eccentric titles and discovered some interesting trivia about one of my favorite singers, Annie Lennox. She included this 1933 song on her Diva album. It originally appeared in an Eddie Cantor film, and was actually one of Winston Churchill's favorite songs. One wonders what he would have made of this rendition:

Another song that's one of my favorites is an oddball. This is because I hated everything else Culture Club ever did. But this song has a cool Motown hook and Ellen Terry singing background vocals. What else could go wrong? It makes me wonder why my friends insist they never heard the song before.

I could waste a lot of time trying to decide my favorite Eurythmics song, but this is definitely in the top three. David Stewart actually gets screen time, which made me covet his guitar although I've never been able to ID it. The video has a calculating and surreal flavor, with Lennox at her androgynous best. I think a few clips could have easily been added to Blue Velvet, one of my favorite David Lynch films (even though I had awful nightmares after seeing it). 


Is there a spin doctor in the house?

I was very much looking forward to Ian's* finally visiting Texas (and me) last weekend. But it didn't turn out that well. 

The first bad news is that his wife had booked him a hotel room for his stay, and he felt he should pretend to stay there. He has always lied about the occupant of the house, substituting a single male friend for me. This didn't make a lot of sense as this house has three bedrooms, and it looks like Ian could have simply said he was staying in the guest bedroom. But it seems he was also worried about the neighbors across the street spotting him - the ones who are still friends with his wife.

The second bad news is that although Duncan didn't criticize or chew me out, he said I would be better off with fewer cats. This is not something I would argue with, but not news to me either.

Things really went downhill the second afternoon/evening of his visit. We were watching TV, I leaned over to pick something off the floor, and I promptly had the worst vertigo attack in memory. The room wouldn't stop spinning and I could feel my eyes twitching (this is called nystagmus and it's extremely unpleasant).

After a few minutes, I crawled backwards into the bathroom as I was convinced I was going to be ill. I was more than simply nauseous, I was sweating like crazy to boot. I have had the occasional vertigo for the last 20 years, but kept it at bay by never becoming dehydrated or sodium-deprived.

Ian ended up taking me to the ER where some kind staff gave me an IV of diazepam (aka Valium) to stop the nausea and spinning. After a few hours of IV treatment, a CT scan and some dozing, I was sent home with a recommendation to see an ENT specialist asap.

Through all this and his entire visit, Ian kept running back to his hotel room to keep up the facade of my non-existence. This bothered me, especially as he was gone the following eveningwhen I had another awful attack. I had gone to the kitchen around 3:00 am when I dropped a water glass, and I ended up dozing on the kitchen floor for at least a  couple of hours until he showed up.

Ian also managed to rear-end another car with his rental car during the weekend. I did feel sorry for him for his misfortune. 

The visit wasn't a 100% waste, though. He managed to get his Passat properly registered so he can sell it back to VW for a profit - it's one of the diesels with the hacked emissions computer - and I was able to help him figure out what he needed to do to refinance the house. This will save him a fair bit of money.

Now that Ian's gone, I am trying not to be too hard on him. A bad vertigo attack causes total helplessness, which is a state I particularly hate, so this had me all wound up. It wasn't his fault I became ill, and I feel bad that it happened after I waited all year for him to visit. But this isn't the sort of long term relationship I want, and I'm not sure I want to wait for it.

* See The Usual Suspects.