The light is beginning to fade on the last day of 2011 as I write this. I’ve had an awe-inspiring two weeks off at the end of this year, and believe me, I have taken to this like a pig to mud. The fact I can’t sleep for a consistent stretch of time at night? Big deal. The day is mine to nap away. About the most useful thing I’ve done is drive to the grocery store.
Oh, not that it’s been dull, heavens no. I reached another crisis point with my hillbilly teeth (pretty sure I’ve mentioned it before, but both my mother and her mother had full sets of dentures before they were 30), and was hoping to use those two weeks to have all sorts of dental horrors visited upon myself. No such luck, as my first appointment came, and it was discovered my blood pressure was way, way, too high. As in go to your doctor right now high.
How long had it been that high? Who knows? As one of the millions of Americans without insurance, that’s not a question I can answer. My last checkup was (mumble mumble) years ago (HINT: it is a double digit number). I’ve been blessed with relatively good health in that time, possibly karmic repayment for having spent most of my childhood in hospitals.
In any case, after a week of medication, my pressure is down to acceptable levels, and some anti-cholesterol drugs have been added to my breakfast. I joked on Twitter that since my daily pill intake quadrupled overnight, my breakfasts are now very filling.
Bad thing, of course, is my dentist then went on her holiday vacation, and the horrors begin the day after I return to work, and start rehearsals for a show that opens in late January. Sigh.
But let’s talk about some good things, okay? Back in October, I came into a little money. Great considering how much the dental adventure is going to take (remember, no insurance. And in my experience, dental insurance ain’t all that great, anyway). I had enough left over to do something I’d wanted to do for a long time: buy a TV made this decade.
Timing couldn’t have been better, really. Those fancy-pants LCD HDTVs have been getting cheaper and cheaper. I found one at a price point I could tolerate – so good, in fact that I bought a Blu-Ray player, too – and though I hear things about “Buyer’s Remorse” I have to report that is a totally alien concept to me.
In other words: Holy. Crap.
I’m not a complete idiot. The first thing that was watched on this new TV was Dancing With The Stars. I shake my head sadly to admit this, but my wife is addicted to reality TV. Using ethical ju-jitsu, though, I managed to use that to my advantage.
(A brief side-trip: During her Thanksgiving break, she indulged in her once-yearly watching of “her soaps” and related to me, with great relish, how one actress whom she had long considered the epitome of loveliness was, in fact, a wretched creature of acne scars and layers of pancake makeup)
Needless to say, this has rekindled my too-long dormant love of movie-watching. I had meant to watch many more during this long break, but hey, you know… napping. Getting the crap scared out of me by doctor folks. And God help me if I should get in the way of Dancing With The Stars.
The God Help Me part is especially cogent when you consider the first full-length movie I sat through in Blu-Ray was Green Lantern. I, along with several million other people, hadn’t seen it in the theaters. Now, admittedly, as it was my first HD movie experience, there probably some halo effect, but: I thought it was okay. Not terrible. I watched the extended version, which apparently put back a lot of Act One character development absent from the theatrical version. Flawed, to be sure – the worst offense being that each and every character is a dick. I came closest to identifying with Tomar Re, and when your most sympathetic character is a dude with a talking fish head, there are problems.
I didn’t keep a real record of where I went from there, but I’m pretty sure the next stop was a Blu-Ray Scott Pilgrim or Punisher: War Zone I picked up used from various local outlets. The Criterion Blu of Seven Samurai was a probable improvement over the movie’s opening day condition. One of the things I definitely put days aside for on the break was the HD extended versions of the Lord of the Ring movies which were simply stunning.
I’ve been relying on a lot of foreign films these days:
Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame is a kung fu film noir directed by Tsui Hark and starring Andy Lau as the title character, who is freed from prison by the Dowager Empress on the eve of her coronation because people are spontaneously combusting. Why was Dee sent to prison, why, for treason against the Empress, of course. Interesting, convoluted story, but the HD transfer does, sadly, render (heh) the CGI even more obvious.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is one I’d heard a lot about, and saved it for Christmas Eve. It’s very odd and completely novel, but promises more than it finally delivers. Doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, though.
The Last Circus I found disappointing. When a box is splashed with verbiage like “Cult Status Assured!” and “The Most Insane Movie I Have Ever Seen” you are expecting some high weirdness. I won’t argue that some of the stuff is indeed weird, but… it wasn’t what I was expecting. Hell, I’m not even sure what I was expecting. There are parts I am still chewing over in my head.
Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen was another sad disappointment. It’s a sort of sequel to the Bruce Lee Fist of Fury (in the US, The Chinese Connection), or better the Jet Li remake Fist of Legend (mainly because Chen survives in that version). Chen Zhen does return after fighting in France, taking on the Japanese occupying Shanghai again. At least, when the plot allows him to. Donnie Yen is our current Asian martial arts superstar, and it seems that director Andrew Lau is trying to see how much movie he can put between fight scenes. That Chen steals a movie costume and thus fights as what is undeniably Kato from The Green Hornet is… I’ll be kind and say it’s an odd choice.
I also recorded a couple of podcasts with The Daily Grindhouse site, only one of which is currently available, about the really, really good zero-budget action movie spoof, Lethal Force. That one, I can recommend. The other Blu-Ray I got because Geoff was so effuse in his praise was Intruder, which is a slasher, and I hate slashers. Intruder, alas, did not change my mind. Oh, and this trailer is spoiler-iffic. You been warned.
And now I’ve been informed that the downstairs bathroom is broken and we are down to one bathroom with two houseguests for the weekend. Good thing I’m on blood pressure medication. Too bad that medicine makes me pee a lot.
But – let’s be positive. That also means that in one week, I’ve lost ten pounds in water weight.
So Happy New Year, everybody. Here’s hoping 2012 is a good one, all our problems can be solved with pills, and the Fifth World is a definite improvement.