Friends In Alignment
Monday August 01st 2011, 2:00 am
Filed under: Denver, Friends, Me, Myself, and Reid, RestauRants, Sodapopcornculture

Saturday was a 6. Yeah, that’s right. 6/5.

I don’t know about this number day ranking system. I feel like people reading my blog like it better than I do. Don’t worry, I’ll think of something to mend the rift between me and numbers. Oh, and the 6 is not due to me thinking the number system is inadequate–if the numbers went up to 10, this day would be an 11.

Two of my oldest best friends in the entire world (“world” is used here as it’s used in the “World Series,” in that it’s not really the entire world, just the parts I care about), Jason and Reiman, who now live in some other states someplace else somewhere, were both in town on the same day. Neither had any foreknowledge that the other was coming into town, nor that both were staying for a week, one right after the other. By chance, they had one overlapping free day–this was the day I’d been waiting for to celebrate my 28th birthday (again) in a big way.

The coincidence that they were both here on the same day was a lot like an alignment of planets. Planets, which cannot think or change the speed at which they orbit the Sun, cannot speak to one another before aligning, nor can they align for very long. Perhaps this makes such an alignment even more special; a rare moment that is something to be appreciated and remembered. Or, alternately, maybe my buddies just need to coordinate with each other better when they’re coming home. I don’t know, it could really be either of those.

Anyway, it was a great day/night/early morning. Honestly, I can best describe what we did as “palling around.” Where we were and what we didn’t wasn’t nearly as important as who we were with.

Oh, and I’m not just saying that to cover up some sort of illicit activities in which we may or may not have been involved. Because we definitely did not rob any banks. So just let it go, okay? Just let it go already. Jeez.

Eventually, we met up with another of our close friends, Matt Sullivan of the Matt & Coreycondo Sullivans. The Sullivans live to the southwest, far beyond the Great Temple of Ikea (I think it’s Aztec). Together, the four of us saw a double feature of two movies we found very entertaining.

First, we saw “Captain America,” which exceeded my expectations. Not only was I entertained and impressed, but I’d say “Cap” could be in contention for the title of best Marvel Comics movie ever (hey Chris Evans, congrats on getting another chance at being in a good Marvel movie!) except that the end of the movie felt like a lead-in to another movie rather than the end of this movie. While someone might argue that this is okay because it is the lead-in for another movie, someone would be wrong. I give “Cap” 45/50 stars. I give the musical number 13/13 stripes.

Second, we saw “Cowboys & Aliens,” which all four of us enjoyed thoroughly. It delivered on its name, it was fun, and it was a great fit as the B movie of our double feature. I give “Cowboys & Aliens” 3/4 Indys for entertainment value, 22/22 Bonds for being the best movie about cowboys and aliens that will probably ever be made, and ∞/∞ motherfuckin’ snakes on this motherfuckin’ plane for being a movie that, before I die, I need to meet the person that greenlit it.

After the movies, Matt went home for no good reason other than it was midnight; he was tired; he had stuff to do in the morning; the theater was right by his house, and we were going far away in the other direction; and he wanted to take care of his wife Coreycondo, who wasn’t feeling good that night. Pfft, what a spoilsport.

Mattless, we proceeded to iHop. Oh, also Matt didn’t want to go to iHop because he eats people food. It was neat being back in our old high school late night truckstop hang out. We extended our day until 1:30 AM, at which point Reiman’s drooping eyelids frightened me since he had been our getaway driver for our series of bank heists the whole day.

The 6/5 isn’t about any one thing we did. It’s about the feeling I get when I’m around my best friends: total and complete happiness.

* * *

Sunday was a 4. A pleasant, no to-do list, rest and recovery day.

Notable events:

-Although it sounded fun, I turned down an invitation from the Brothers Reiman to attend the Colorado Renaissance Festival. I had done a lot on Saturday, and even though I felt okay, I decided it would be better not to spend the entire day and evening walking around in 97° heat.

-I took a long nap.

-We watched a lot of TV. A few “Daily Shows,” a “White Collar,” and a “Warehouse 13.”

-I worked on this blog entry for a few hours. Writing these entries at the end of the day, which I see as necessary if I’m going to write about the whole day, keeps me up way too late. Eh, well… I don’t know if that’s true. I’d probably still be up now anyway. But these things do take me a very long time to write. Maybe I should write less? Start writing earlier? Write faster? No, I don’t think I can make myself write faster; I type fast and think… slower. I need to figure this out.

-But not tonight.

–Reid.



Turning 28 on the 28th: My First Chemoless Birthday In Four Years

Thursday was a 5. My golden birthday: my 28th birthday on July 28th. The first birthday I’ve celebrated while not on chemotherapy in four years. It was a long day, but it was a really good one.

I continued my strength training with my trainer at the gym. Although I’ve only been working out at the gym for two weeks, I’m already starting to feel the benefits. I walk out of there feeling really good, mentally and physically. I’ve got a lot of muscle to rebuild, and then it’ll be on to Beyond Rebuilding: Building Beyond Rebuilding! I also verified last week’s hunch as to why I was limping around the day after working out: working out at the gym is way harder than working out at home. Ow. I feel good. Ow. Really good. Argh.

I met my mom and my sister Rachel for lunch. Rachel flew in from DC just for my birthday! What a special thing to do; it meant a lot to me. She and Rebecca then left Friday morning for Las Vegas to celebrate Rachel’s 25th birthday with 13 friends. Rebecca set the whole thing up for Rachel. 3Rs: we’re very lucky to have each other. Also, we need official 3R power rings.

J and I went to Mile High Comics (my dad referred to this as “our own little Comic-Con”), which neither of us had been to in a whole bunch of years… many, many years. We both agreed, being the wise geeky continental travelers we are, that the old favorite store just doesn’t stack up against our favorite comic book stores in New York and Atlanta, respectively. Honestly, I don’t even really read comics anymore, except for Fables. And even then, I don’t read the individual issues, I buy the graphic novels that reprint 10 issue story arcs. Even then, I… no wait, that’s it. But I still felt like the old place was somehow less than I remember it being.

There was something really cool, though. This month, Marvel Comics made variant covers of Spider-man for comic book stores all over the country. Each cover has Spidey holding a copy of the Daily Bugle with the headline: Spider-man Saves [Comic Book Store Name] and that store’s logo. So now, thanks to J, I have an issue of Spider-man in which Spider-man apparently saves Mile High Comics! Which doesn’t actually happen inside the comic. But the cover is cool, because Mile High is the big Colorado comic chain, and we have hometown pride. Also, I forgot how dumb the Mile High Comics logo was. Captain Woodchuck? Why? Oh well, whatever. It’s still cool!

We had dinner at Piccolo’s, a local Italian & Mexican food restaurant. It’s delicious, and I’ve been eating it all my life. Mom, Dad, Rachel and I met Rebecca there. She brought me balloons, to officially certify that it was a real birthday celebration. Grandma, Gigi, Papa, Uncle Neal, Aunt Stacie, and my cousin Jeff were all there too, to help celebrate. Lots of pizza and spaghetti were consumed. We all talked and laughed and our goblets ranneth over with root beer and Shirley Temples and some sort of alcohol. As expected, Gigi yelled about the debt ceiling. An adorable proto-child stared at my balloons so longingly, and grabbed for them from twenty feet away with such might, that I had to go give him one. He immediately began ungratefully, yet so adorably, grabbing for the other balloons–he knew I was powerless against his adorableness. My sisters gave me some books I’ve been wanting. They (the books, not the sisters) have an added benefit beyond being full of information. Because they are so massive and so solid, after I’ve read them, I can use them as the cornerstones of a large building, or perhaps as anchors for an aircraft carrier. A good time was had by all.

I barely made it home without falling asleep. My parents insisted that before I would be allowed to go to sleep, I had to open my gifts from them. Tyrants! It turned out not to be so bad; I got more books I’ve been wanted and a cool electric shaver. For shaving! Some time ago, I tired of shaving my face with razor blades. To avoid this, I tried several things: I grew a beard, I brought scruffy back, and recently, I’ve been shaving my face with my electric beard trimmer. This new shaver is perfect, in that it will let me shave quickly, easily, and without the pain of being used on my skin when intended for trimming beards. Also, my parents helped pay for part of the cost of the graphic tablet I recently won in victorious battle against various local electronics stores.

I finally went to bed, expecting to collapse into a long, restorative sleep.

* * *

Friday was a 2.5. There’s not much to tell. Also, I might need more numbers to rate these days.

It turns out I forgot to take my pills before bed last night, and then I had a really terrible night. I don’t know if that was entirely due to not taking my pills, although I’m sure it played a role. I also overdid it yesterday. I felt cruddy and tired all day and couldn’t seem to fall asleep during the day, despite trying several times. I got a few things done here and there. I’ve been feeling noticeably better for awhile, so a day like this, while not a bad day, was certainly a frustrating one.

* * *

Saturday, there will be more partying. Of a different sort. I don’t quite know what sort yet, but it’ll be excellent. Hooray for several day long birthday celebrations! Did I mention that Matt and Coreycondo Sullivan put a candle on a cookie for me and got everyone to sing me happy birthday at poker the night before my birthday? Well, they did, and it was great. ¡Viva las celebraciones!

–Reid.



To-Do List #1: Remember What To Put On To-Do List
Sunday July 24th 2011, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Family, Me, Myself, and Reid, RestauRants, Sodapopcornculture, Technobabble

Argh! Something came into my head, I said to myself, “oh yeah,” I was just about to add it to my to-do list, but instead of simply typing in whatever it was, I first read over the list of things already on the list. And then I accidentally clicked “You have 5 friends with birthdays this week,” which brought up my email and Facebook’s notice that 5 of my friends-on-the-Internet have birthdays this week. And I forgot what I was going to add to my to-do list. It might not have been that important (I don’t know, maybe it was), but it’s hovering around the outside of my head, like a balloon with a static charge. And just like a balloon floating around and sending little tiny sparks shooting into my skull, this missing task is floating on the boundary between my awareness and my critical irritation threshold.

I’ll just try to move on for now. Sigh. I’ll try…

I’ve had over a full, good week with no down or bad days. That’s awesome! I can’t tell you when the last time I could say that was. Well, I mean, I could tell you. I could’ve said it anytime, really. It wouldn’t have necessarily been true, and in fact, it probably wouldn’t have been true, but I could’ve said it. Even during chemo! But, as I am out to tell the truth, I suppose what I meant was that I can’t remember the last time I actually had so many good days in a row.

Today was a 4. I felt good and happy despite the weekend being a wash for my to-do list. Speaking of my to-do list, I think maybe the thing I was going to add to my to-do list had to do with my to-do list. Though… that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense… hmn, anyway…

-I was able to drive again today! My chemo-era-medication-induced blindness-at-ten-paces did not make an appearance today. There’s an editor’s ransom in dashes back in that previous sentence. I love driving. It gives me a feeling of independence after being sick and unable to go very many places for several years. I also just enjoy going places, and being the one to take myself to them.

-I had lunch with Rebecca and Grandma at Zaidy’s Deli. It was good to spend some time with Grandma, just we grandkids. We caught her up on our various goings-on. And Rebecca turned into a pickle. They only had sour dills, though, so Grandma and I, who like half sours, were okay.

-Rebecca and I went over to Grandma’s new apartment because Becca had not yet seen it and I like the jelly beans there. It’s a beautiful, huge apartment and it’s just fantastic for Grandma. We looked through some old photographs and discussed what to hang on the walls. It was very nice to spend an afternoon with Grandma. Oh, and the jelly beans are a brilliant marketing strategy to encourage repeat visits.

-I took a nap at the expense of my to-do list. I don’t think I got a single thing on it done this weekend, which I suppose is okay. Especially since I haven’t just been lollygagging around, and there’s always tomoDAMNIT! What was that thing I was going to put on the list?! It’s driving me crazy! Wait! Waitaminute. CRAZY! That’s it! Let’s see… crazy… nuts… peanut butter… no, never mind, it was nothing.

-The Folks and I went to a new Mexican restaurant with Aunt Stacie’s family. Together, we are a group that likes our Mexican food, but often with quite different discriminating tastes. Between us, we’ve tried every Mexican restaurant this side of the Rio Grande. Well, I dunno, that might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but we’re pretty darn close to having tried every Mexican restaurant this side of the Rio Grande. Okay, no, not really, but we have tried lots. Maybe a dozen. Maybe even a baker’s dozen. Lots.

The service at this place wasn’t the best. My mom ordered something unsmothered, which arrived at the table smothered in pork green chili. My mom doesn’t eat pork, so she asked the waiter if there was pork in the chili in which her food had been smothered. He said no. But then she found a chunk of meat that definitely could only be pork, and she showed it to the waiter. At first, he stood by his original position, that there was no pork. Then, that tactic having failed, he insisted that what she had found was cheese. Finally, he identified it as “only a little pork.” She got a new plate with her original smother-free order.

This wasn’t representative of the service as a whole. Or of the food, which I thought was very okay. Or of the place’s name, which I can’t remember. So, in closing, I guess I’ll ask someone the name tomorrow and give this place a rating or probably just forget.

-We went to the grocery store to trade all our coinage to a Coinstar machine. Apparently, my mom noticed recently that one of the options on Coinstar machines is to get gift certificates for things like iTunes and Amazon.com for the value of all your coins (with no fee). This could be something that’s been going on for years, but we just noticed it. When I lived in Brooklyn (2003), I hiked to the only Coinstar machine that showed up on Coinstar’s map of Coinstar machines on the East Coast. I swear I left Brooklyn, and back in those days, you could only get money. And there was a huge fee. I remember getting back $17.85. I trekked outside New York State altogether I tells ya…

Anywho, I have no idea how this all came up tonight, but before dinner, my dad told me to grab any spare change I had lying around. In fact, I had a ceramic blue piggy bank with my name on it and a silver Snoopy bank absolutely filled to the brim. Both banks were probably given to me when I was born, although the coins inside were added by me over the past 10-12 years. In the end, I wound up with a $58.19 Amazon.com Gift Card and a 2 eurocent, which had apparently been amongst my change.

-We took a walk tonight, but this time a little earlier so we were not walking around in total darkness. Another beautiful night.

-We ended the night with the season premiere of TNT’s The Closer on demand. In the future, will there be any reason for non-news networks to broadcast pre-recorded programming? Its seems like they could simply release their shows (with commercials) on a schedule through a video on demand system, rather than having people “tune in.”

OH! HOLY CRAP! I KNOW WHAT I WANTED TO ADD TO THE TO-DO LI

…nope, lost it again. Damnit.

–Reid.



The Tablet Quest Comes To An End! ALSO: Succulent Burgers, The Cable Box, and Indy Meets the X-Files
Saturday July 23rd 2011, 11:27 pm
Filed under: Family, Me, Myself, and Reid, RestauRants, Sodapopcornculture, Technobabble

Today was a 4. I felt good and despite not getting most of what I wanted to get done done, it was an all around good day.

-I slept in very late.

-Went to lunch with the Folks. Dad was in the mood for burgers, and listed off a bunch of burger joints from which we could procure burgers. This put me in the mood for burgers. Dad ushered us into the car and drove towards The Counter at Park Meadows Mall. Oh man, I love their burgers. You can put anything from a list four pages long on your burgers, on myriad kinds of bread or notbread, you can even choose from a variety of meats and non-meats. These burgers are so succulent, we only have them once in a very long while, for risk of over-succulating. Mmmm… The Counter.

-It turns out The Counter went out of business several months ago. That’s a shame.

-We wandered around the outside part of Park Meadows and found a fish place called the Fish City Grill. It’s in a place that I can’t imagine gets much foot traffic. In fact, I would say, of all the places in the entire mall, including the outdoor part, it’s probably in the worst spot for foot traffic. Nonetheless, they’ve been open for three years (and we did stumble upon them, despite their odd location). Pushing our cravings for succulent burgers aside, we all had various fishy lunches. I had fish and chips, which was really good. The chips, or fries as we call them in America, were waffle cut fries and they were delicious. They were very fresh (some even had a bit of potato skin still on them) and not only complimented my fish well, but also the meals of some vultures. It was a great restaurant, to which I will probably return. Out of a possible 19 cod with capes, I give Fish City Grill a solid 15 caped cods.

-We went to Best Buy and picked up my Wacom Intuos4 Medium Graphics Tablet. The same Best Buy we’d gone to yesterday, where we’d been told they had no Wacom Intuos4 Medium Graphics Tablets in stock, despite their website clearly stating they had several Wacom Intuos4 Medium Graphics Tablets in stock. My mom, whose brand of never-give-up spirit is the stuff of legend, was able to reserve a Wacom Intuos4 Medium Graphics Tablet online this morning somehow, and was told we could pick it up today. Honestly, I’m overjoyed to finally have my Wacom Intuos4 Medium Graphics Tablet, but, seriously, what a stupid quest to obtain the thing!

-We went over to Grandma’s new apartment and helped her with some things, like putting stuff away, taking things down to her storage lockers, and breaking her cable. That last one was a bit of unintentional bonus help that we did not even realize we had rendered for awhile. At some point, we realized that the TV connected to the cable box we’d been moving around had been displaying a message to the effect of “Your cable will return momentarily” for several hours. This message, clearly a lie, left us with only two options: 1) call the cable company, or 2) bash the TV screen in with a rock. Despite some dissent, we ended up going with the smarter of the two options. The hardest part turned out to be finding a big enough rock.

-We had dinner with Aunt Cindy’s family at a place of their choosing: The Tavern. Hah! They did not know that we try to play trivia there almost every week. I don’t know that I’ve ever been there when not playing trivia before, but luckily, their food is very good, so that worked out well. Also, the hostess, who is not a hostess I recognized from trivia nights, just happened to seat us at our regular trivia table. WoooOOoOoOooO… cosmic trivia alignment… It was neat to hear my cousin Gabe recount some of his favorite adventures in Israel. He’s been there all summer and just returned (and got his driver’s license, to boot). He went on the Israel Study Tour, the same trip that I went on before my senior year of high school, and the same one Aunt Cindy went on before her senior year of high school. It’s really an amazing program for Jewish youth in Denver and Boulder. And of course it was good to see the others as well! Good times.

-We took a very nice walk with Ferris. The sun below the horizon, it was getting dark and cooling off from the 98° heat of the day. There was a cool breeze, which was almost as refreshing as the sprinklers that hit us. It was really nice to be outside.

-We returned home and watched one episode of a TV show. I’ve said it before: I didn’t watch more than two TV shows before I moved back in with my parents. For a few years, that annoyed me. Now I can either see the value of these great shows to which they introduced me or, alternately, I’ve grown addicted the squawk box. We took a break from the USA Network tonight and worked our way over to Syfy to watch the second episode of Warehouse 13’s new season. I love that show. It’s got very good characters and very cool toys; together they make the show. It’s a solid mix of Indiana Jones, the X-Files, and a little bit of Ghostbusters.

You know, like Indiana Jones 4: George Lucas Used To Be A Great Storyteller.

–Reid.



Grandparents, Dragons and Knights and Wizards or Something, also… THWARTED!
Friday July 22nd 2011, 11:58 pm
Filed under: Family, Me, Myself, and Reid, RestauRants, Sodapopcornculture, Technobabble

Today was a 4. I felt good, got some stuff done and was thwarted at getting some other stuff done.

The day in brief:

-Mom and I had lunch with Gigi and Papa. Normally lunch with them is a nice, short, efficient affair (they, like all of my mom’s side of the family, are escape artists), but today we took our time and spent two hours eating and talking. It was wonderful to sit and talk with them for that long. Gigi recently obtained some pictures and documents of her father’s family, which she showed us. She told us about each picture–I love family history. We dined at a new restaurant nearby called Purple Ginger Asian Fusion. It wasn’t bad, but it was quite underwhelming. I give it 4 pieces of a bland 8 piece sushi roll.

-We went to Borders because it’s going out of business and I had two gift cards there. I bought the Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet (which I might already own in NYC, but oh well, I want to read them again), and I still have some gift money left. Which is fine, because it turns out Borders.com still works. I’d like read some high fantasy books, but I don’t really know where to start. I like Arthurian legend, Harry Potter, Fables (the fantasy comic, not the genre… although I do like the genre, too), and I really liked The Chronicles of Prydain when I was young. I’ve tried to read The Lord of the Rings, but I’ve never been able to get into it (although I enjoyed the movies). I don’t think I’ve read much other high fantasy than that, which surprises me. I’d appreciate any suggestions!

-We went to Best Buy to best buy my graphics tablet for $120 cheaper than I bought it for at Micro Center. However, despite their website stating that they had them in stock at that location, they did not have them in stock at that location. THWARTED!

-We went home. I best bought the tablet online for in-store pickup at a different Best Buy that had several in stock. However, less than five minutes later I received an email stating, “Haha just kidding that Best Buy locations doesn’t have the tablet you want either! Fooled you! Haha!” THWARTED AGAIN!

-By this time I was very tired and hot, so I decided I would put off thwarting those thwarters and their thwartenings that had thwarted me. Revenge can always wait. Nap time is hard to put off.

-Due to the time spent at Borders and dealing with Best Buy (which all took much longer than expected or reasonable), I didn’t get some other things done today I wanted to get done today. It’s all small on-the-computer stuff, so I think I’ll be able to get it done tomorrow.

-My folks and I watched three episodes of Burn Notice. So much USA Network. It sustains us through the summer. Or part of it at least. And a brief period during the winter. We can quit any time we want to.

–Reid.



Training, Taking It To The Micro Man, Rolls With Rebecca

Today was a 5. I felt really good, got stuff done, and enjoyed the things I wanted to do.

-I started strength training again with my trainer Diana. We haven’t worked together for a long time because I haven’t been up to it for a long time. She used to come to the house and bring barbells and weights, but since I’m no longer burdened by chemo, I was able to go to her gym. I’m confident this will help me on my road to recovery. I’m very excited to be training again! I even remember some of the tricks she taught me, like sitting, shaking, and rolling over. Unfortunately, even after all this time, we’re still confronting my barking problem.

-I ran some errands (I drove! I could see today!), including marching into Micro Center and returning the overpriced graphics tablet I’d purchased there. When the woman asked what was wrong with it, I told her they were selling it for $120 more than another business in the area. She asked if I wanted her to see if she could price match it. I told her I had no problem with her, but that I didn’t want to give the store the satisfaction. By “the satisfaction,” I meant “any money whatsoever,” and whether she knew that or not, she let me return the tablet and wished me a nice day. Hah hah! Take that, you corporate barons, what with your high prices, lying sales associates, and very friendly and helpful customer service representatives!

-Rebecca and I started what we hope to make a new tradition of getting dinner one night a week. Since she moved out of the house, we figure this is a good way to make sure we stay in the habit of spending sibling time together and keeping one another up-to-date on our various goings-on. Tonight we ate at Sushi Sa Sa (try saying that a million times fast) in the Highlands neighborhood near downtown. The Highlands is hip and cool, so naturally, we fit right in. We ordered some original Sa Sa sushi rolls and some traditional sushi rolls; it was all delicious and surprisingly filling. I have to agree with Rebecca’s assessment that it was some of the freshest fish we’ve ever had in sushi. Highly recommended!

-As a bonus to our sibling night, we ran into popular radio personalities Slacker and Steve, who, much their credit (and my surprise), recognized me from that time I was on their radio show to support The Children’s Hospital (I thought there were pictures in that post… there are pictures somewhere). This was not only impressive because they surely meet thousands of people every week, but because I was totally and completely bald when we first met. And now I have hair. Very cool.

-I drove home, and no day would be complete without watching at least one episode of some television show with my parents. Tonight, Royal Pains featuring The Fonz and Lou Grant.

I’m as worn out as person who did a lot of stuff all day, and as happy as a clown that won the lottery.

Goodnight,

–Reid.



Writer’s Block, Harry Potter 7.2, & A “New And Original” Trivia Format: I’ve Seen And Judged Them All!
Thursday July 14th 2011, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Denver, Family, Me, Myself, and Reid, RestauRants, Sodapopcornculture

I’ve been having a hard time writing for awhile. I don’t know why exactly. I love writing and it has definitely helped me get through the past several years. I suppose it’s some sort of writer’s block, which is really just a broad term that means, “I’ve been having a hard time writing for awhile. I don’t know why exactly.” I have always believed–and have always told others–that the best way to get around writer’s block is to simply start writing. It doesn’t matter what the words say or where they go. Just write.

Unfortunately, the one big problem I can identify seems to be more of an editorial problem, as evidenced by the 22 blog entries in the “drafts” folder. Or those four drafts in the trash from this week alone and the countless entries trashed before this week. So my follow up advice to myself right now is “just post.” I’ll keep trying to figure out what the other components are to this blockage, but in the meantime, right now, here’s a blog entry that’s not going to end up in draft limbo or the trash… no matter what.

I’ve got some catch up to do and I’m going to start small: the past two days.

Yesterday afternoon, my folks and I attended a special pre-release screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. This was the third or fourth Harry Potter pre-release I’ve been to since getting sick. Each of them has been a fundraiser for There With Care, an organization the helps families of children with critical illnesses by doing everything from making meals for the families to finding them convenient housing. They’re really amazing.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film. It is much faster paced than its predecessor, beginning with the quick final scene from the last film, and launching at Nimbus 2000 (NERD!) speed from there. The emotions I felt reading the story were the emotions I felt watching the story on the big screen. I was very pleased with this, as some of the previous films in the series have seemed to lack the strong emotions conveyed in the books. Together with Part 1, this is a very good adaptation of the book. There are differences between the book and the movie, of course, but I think most of them worked very well for this different medium.

I try to approach movies based on books as one might approach the Gospels. They tell the same story, but in different ways. That doesn’t mean I’m not a little sad or bothered when something I particularly liked in the book doesn’t wind up in the film adaptation, but in general, I do my best to consider them as two distinct works. There is one thing I missed from the book, which was the story of Dumbledore and Grindelwald. This was a huge part not only of the book, but of the series. It redefined Dumbledore by showing his flaws and weaknesses, and eventually revealed his greatest strengths. I wish this had been integrated into the two films.

I have a strong suggestion for anyone who is going to see this movie. As someone who has read all the Harry Potter books, I’ve always wondered if the movies make any damn sense to people who haven’t ever read the books. With this movie, some of the people I attended the movie with, despite having read the book, still had some problems reconciling some plot details because they didn’t remember them. I highly recommend re-watching Part 1 before seeing Part 2 if you can. They really are one long movie, so Part 2 doesn’t take much time to re-explain anything.

It’s a great movie and I hope you find it as satisfying an ending to the series as I did!

Two night ago, despite missing half our regular contingent, my folks and I set out to play trivia. We called in my Aunt Stacy’s reliable-at-knowing-things family to join us, and we were set. We arrived at the DTC Tavern, full of confidence about our familiar trivia game that we’ve been attending for over two years. How naïve we were. Or, to put it another way: How naïve were we? Very naïve.

Almost as soon as we sat down, we noticed that everything was different. The format of the game. The host. Even our regular waitress was nowhere to be seen. Our team name came easily: WE FEAR CHANGE. The new host, a man named Orion, thought this was just a funny dig at him. It was not. It was genuine fear that the game we’d grown to know and love over the past few years had been transformed into something from a completely different and alien universe, where people have names like “Orion” instead of “Dan.”

However, our fear quickly faded as we realized this newfangled trivia was strikingly similar to another game we’d played. No, not Red Rover. That’s a good guess, though. Here’s a hint: it starts with a “Geeks” and ends with a “Who Drink.” That’s right, you got it: the coincidentally Denver-based, much more successful, nationally renowned (or at least infamous in many states) Geeks Who Drink!

There were several corporate bigwigs (who were young and hip, but still bigwigs) in attendance, observing the totally “new and original” format of their trivia game. When asked, they denied that their innovative new pub quiz bar trivia had anything to do with Geeks Who Drink. I’m certainly not saying that Geeks Who Drink own the concept of pub quizzes or bar trivia or obscure and twisted questions about the 80’s or anything. However, the similarities were pretty hard to miss, in that it was exactly the same as Geeks Who Drink with two differences:

1) Scoring. There’a nothing like a joker to double your points and in the last round, you lose points for wrong answers.

2) Dignity. As players, you are not constantly insulted or berated.

My dad pointed out that the Quizmaster Trivia Host was not ceaselessly tormenting anyone or crushing people’s spirits, abilities required of Geeks Who Drink quizmasters and quizmistresses. That whole dignity thing was pretty nice, I have to say. It was almost enough to make me forget I was taking part in blatant copyright infringement. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed myself and will gladly go back (after all, I’m no stranger to *ahem* allegedly infringing on copyright myself). But the prizes–previously money towards dinner and drinks, have been changed to things that are not money towards dinner and drinks–shook me out of my dignity-inflicted stupor.

I’m not going to tell Geeks Who Drink that their well-developed homegrown copyrighted quiz format has been blatantly ripped-off. But somebody will eventually. And then what? We’ll walk into the Tavern one night and there’ll be a new trivia format that’s even newer, scarier, and crazier: we’ll have to answer in the form of a question.

–Reid.



Tch. This Is Sooo Reid.
Monday May 16th 2011, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Denver, Family, Health (Not Cancer), Me, Myself, and Reid, RestauRants

Update of Great Importance 5/17/2011: To my dear family and friends, I am truly sorry; I never meant to imply that I ate at Casa Bonita the night that this entry took place. I only meant to convey that Casa Bonita is the standard for bad Mexican food. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused to you and/or the Mexican food industry. Thank you for your understanding. I will try to be more clear in the future.

Last night, my folks and I went out with my Aunt Stacie, my cousin Jeff, and Jeff’s “hey! we know you through the grapevine!” girlfriend Lee–an all-around fun group to go out with. We went to a very authentic Mexican restaurant that my aunt really likes. Everyone here has their own favorite “very authentic Mexican” place, and each varies in degree of objective authenticity. The agreed upon least authentic, but perhaps most fun “very authentic Mexican” experience is Casa Bonita. There is not, however, any agreed upon top end to the “very authentic Mexican” scale.

So anyway, we were at this authentic Mexican restaurant (that was not Casa Bonita), and for the first 30 minutes, we were having a great time. We picked our food from this huge menu, people got their fancy alcoholic drinks, and Jeff, Lee and I were laughing about both things and stuff. In fact, I would say we were having a marvelous time.

Then, my hands turned blue. Well, my fingers did, anyway. My palms remained a healthy pasty pinkish hue. After a few minutes of everyone making fun of me (in their defense, it did look like I’d smeared blue ink all over my fingers), we realized that this might indicate a life-threatening problem. I called one of my doctors, who reacted with several, “Oh my god!”s and told me to head to the nearest ER. Blue coloration in the extremities is a sign that blood is not getting to where it needs to be.

I had never been to this ER, but, as far as ERs go, it was pretty good. The ER nurses and doctors worked hard to determine the cause of my cyanosis (Medical English for “Blue Man Group extremities”). There were a lot of reasons why this was difficult to pin down. One of the primary reasons for this was that fingers on both of my hands had turned blue. Meaning that either a common blood pathway had to be not working correctly, and that would be the heart, which they ruled out, or that, incredibly improbably, two clots that had formed separately at the same time on both sides of my body. There was some concern about my central line, but as I understood it, the way it’s setup into my heart, it wouldn’t create a problem on both sides of my body evenly.

I underwent an ultrasound to make sure there weren’t any clots. There were no clots. By the time that was done, about an hour and half after my fingers first turned blue, they were almost totally back to their normal color. The ER doctor explained that some people simply have “asymptomatic problems” that don’t really seem to be the result of, or indicative of anything. I howled with laughter (on the inside), and quipped, “You don’t know the half of it!” (on the inside). They could not explain why my fingers had turned blue.

So I was released with a paper that said, basically, “we don’t know why this happened, but you’re okay.” My primary doctors were less than satisfied with this conclusion, and are intent on not letting it go. They’re conferring and racking their brains to solve yet another Reid Levin Medical Mystery™. This Wednesday, at my first post-chemo clinic visit, they will now have a lot to thoroughly examine and test. Although I’ve known this for a long time, it’s still nice to by reminded that my doctors have my back and are concerned enough about me to try to figure all of these weird t”this would only happen to Reid!” hings out.

Maybe it should scare me a little bit, too. Honestly, though, I think this incident was just my body saying, “Okay, chemo is over, what other kind of mischief can I get into?” Again, that was not a satisfactory answer for my doctors. Which is good.

Oh, and since I didn’t get to eat my dinner, I went to Taco Bell after I was released from the ER. I got my just-above Casa Bonita “very authentic Mexican” food in the end. Muy bueno!

–Reid.