Signs are everywhere...

How much do I enjoy watching M. Night Shyamalan’s 2002 movie Signs? That’s easy—even though I’ve seen it four or five times, I’m watching again. It looks great letterboxed on DVD on my massive big-screen television in the living room. But I’m not down there. I’m upstairs watching it on TNT on our little ten-inch portable television.

To ease the pain in my cracked ribs, my doctor did a procedure on me yesterday at the surgery center, wherein he injected some medication into the nerves that run the length of the damaged ribs. He opted to do in the surgery center rather than in his office, because, to quote him directly, “I don’t want to accidentally poke a hole in your lung, Fred.” I agreed that was something that I didn’t want to have happen. The procedure hurt like hell and my side does feel a little better, but I still don’t know if it was worth the effort. He told me that I’d be in pain for three or four more weeks, and the best thing I could do, besides popping the bottle of pills he gave me, was to stay immobilized.

If I wiggle and squiggle enough I can find a position on my bed where the pain drops down to a manageable level. I can sit on the couch downstairs for limited periods of time, but for the most part I sprawl like a beached whale, immobilized, on the bed. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and watching basic cable (the upstairs television is so tiny and we use it so infrequently that getting a cable box for it would be a waste).

I’m home alone this weekend, which is just a well. Valarie and Dakota took a drive up to San Francisco to visit with Val’s friend Michelle. I haven’t been a happy person to be around, since I took my tumble. It’s tough not to get discouraged. This problem with my ribs came right on the tail end of my kidney stone problem, and it’s tough not to get the blues when you’re on the disabled list for so long.

Watching Signs is cheering me up. Before I started pecking on the laptop during commercials, I had been switching over to old episodes of Spike’s Amazing Videos and COPS.

I like M. Night’s movies a lot. The only one that I haven’t watched repeated times is The Village. I enjoyed it a great deal in the theater when it first came out, but it is sort of a one trick pony. The other day Val was headed over to the video store and I asked her to rent Unbreakable, which for some reason we don’t own. She tried to rent it but it turned out to be broken, or gummed up, or damaged in some manner that prevented the clerk from renting it to her. I’ll have to look for a cheap copy on eBay.

I know a lot of people were so bothered by the flaws and clich├ęs in Signs, and I agree that there are plenty, but that doesn’t bother me from enjoying it all the same. The only thing that consistently bugs me about M. Night’s movies is his casting himself in them. He is very recognizable and seeing him always disrupts my viewing enjoyment.

What are you going to do? You take the good, you take the bad…


The Young and the Hopeless...

I love people but I guess I’ve always been a bit of a loner.

Three of my childhood aspirations included living in a lighthouse, working at a polar weather station, and serving a life sentence in prison.

No fooling.

The prison thing came mostly from my love affair with the movie The Birdman of Alcatraz (Burt Lancaster has always been one of my all time favorite movie stars) and my misguided notion that all prisoners are allowed their own private cells, wherein they can write, read, and draw all day long, and still have plenty of time to pursue hobbies like avian medicine without the fear of anal rape. Sure, the guards would be tough and rough around the edges for the first week or so, but pretty soon they’d see that I was an okay guy and they would bring me old National Geographic magazines from home, and would always look away when I had to use the toilet. I also somehow got it in my head that when you were in prison they gave you all the cigarettes you wanted for free. I didn’t smoke, but the idea of getting all the smokes you wanted by simply asking was darn appealing. I saw other movies set in prisons where the inmates had to work making license plates, breaking rocks, and doing the laundry, and they lived with sometimes four people in a single cell. I figured you could request the type of prison you were interested in at the time of sentencing. As it turned out I somehow avoided a life of crime and never spent any time behind bars, but I’m still pretty young, so you never know. Plus, reading Stephen King’s Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption put some ideas in my head, so if I absolutely have to work some sort of job behind bars, I’ll sign to work in the library or write a column for the prison newspaper.

I’ve never spent any significant time at an arctic weather station, so living and working at one was probably greatly romanticized by the movies. Two films that spring to mind are The Thing and Ice Station Zebra. Of course you had to dress warmly and you probably needed to drink plenty of hot coffee, but life didn’t seem too awful. Once every hour or so you probably needed to check the outside temperature and wind speed, and make sure there was enough gasoline in the electric generator, but other than that you were on your own to read, draw, or write a couple of novels a week, if you wanted to. There would probably be a few other people working at the station with you, but they would more than likely keep to themselves. Plus, if everyone was feeling a little social there was always a recreation area that had a jukebox and a pool table. Because it was a government job there would probably be free cigarettes and all the soda you could drink.

I never saw any movies set in a lighthouse or read any significant books, but they always looked so damned cool that I wanted to live in one. I’m sure that at some point during their crime-fighting career, the Hardy Boys squared off against some criminal types in a lighthouse, so maybe that’s what put it in my mind. Now that I think about it, I don’t think I especially wanted to live inside the lighthouse. I could be quite happy in a small cottage directly adjacent to it. So after a long day I could climb the spiral stairs up to the top and smoke a cigar and drink a Dad’s root beer while watching the sunset.

In the schools today they have therapists available for the kids to talk to. I think this is a great idea and I’m glad my tax dollars are going toward something so worthwhile. I wonder if I’d had someone to talk to when I was young, if I would have told them about my dreams of being left alone, and if they would have taken any action. I clearly had some issues back then that have followed me into adulthood. If some of these issues had been addressed back then and maybe nipped in the bud, who knows how different my life would be today.

Perhaps I could have been saved from my dysfunctional childhood. Or perhaps I should quit lamenting about what coulda/shoulda/woulda and make some changes starting today.


That's just super...

While I’ve been waiting for my cracked ribs to heal I’ve been watching television off and on and have caught big chunks of the Ken Burns documentary “Look, Up in the Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman” playing on A&E. It’s really quite good. I guess there’s a longer DVD version available for sale that has a bunch of extras (and if there’s one thing we likes is our extras).

The documentary is narrated by Kevin Spacey and touches on the up coming movie every once in a while, but it’s not a crass commercial. There are plenty of good interviews and info that I was not aware of concerning the many incarnations of Supes in print and on film.

If you get a chance, check it out.