Blog Ramblings About Blog Ramblings, Excited To See Cousins, Need Permanent Trivia Ringer
Wednesday December 22nd 2010, 3:05 am
Filed under: Family, Me, Myself, and Reid, Who Knows?, Word Nerd

I’m quite certain that in blog writing, there’s a balance between a bulleted list of events and my encyclopedia-like verbosity. I haven’t quite figured that balance out yet, though. When I do, you’ll be the first to know!

Today Mom and I had–you know what, hang on a second. Don’t worry, I’ll remember where I was. Since I set my goal to write a blog or a tweet everyday, I’ve been referring to some people differently than I used to. For instance, I used to write, “my mom did such and such,” in posts, but I’ve started writing simply, “Mom did such and such.” I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. It’s a bit more personal to refer to people as what I know them as, and not define who they are or my relationship to them whenever they come up. And, truly, I’m writing this for myself to remember what it was like counting down to the end of chemo.

However, that being said, I have to acknowledge that you are reading this as well. I must also acknowledge that you, the reader, are ignorant of a lot of the information that I know. For instance, in this next part, I’m going to mention my Aunt Stacie. But if I just say “I’m mentioning Aunt Stacie,” you might not know who that is and get confused and quit reading my confusing blog and then decide my blog has soured you to reading altogether and then I will feel bad when, one day, you fail to read–and therefore fail to understand the serious mortal peril in which you have placed yourself by ignoring the “Watch For Hungry Alligators” sign in the bathroom.

So I’ll be toying around with that too. Lots of toying. All sorts of toying. I like toys.

I’m also reconsidering my use of the hyphen… okay, okay. I see you rolling your eyes. I just find punctuation interesting, that’s all!

…anyway, back to:
Mom and I had lunch with Aunt Stacie and Kerri, my academically gifted cousin who is being interviewed by Georgetown tomorrow. Most of the outlying members of Mom’s side of the family will be coming into town for Christmas over the next few days. I’m very excited to see all of my cousins who are coming in; only one will be missing. Well, there will actually be two cousins of our generation missing, but one is Rachel, who is traveling to Israel, and I tend to count her as my sibling rather than my cousin since that’s what she is. I’m excited to see those cousins who will be here, though. It’s been a really long time since we’ve had this many family members from Mom’s side all in the same place. Kristina and Ivan (my cousin and cousin-in-law, respectively) will be staying with us, which should be fun.

We had lunch, and that was neat to get to do since Kerri’s on winter break and Aunt Stacie had taken the day off from work. She had a great suggestion for where to donate all of the clothes I’ve cleared out of my closet and drawers. Dad’s going to drop it all off tomorrow for me at a center specifically for homeless teens. I counted everything up this evening as I got it ready to go and realized I had, by pure chance, selected 50 pairs of socks to donate. Now there are several questions here that you might be wondering to yourself, or if there’s someone in the room, you might be wondering to them. I will attempt to answer all such questions in this HFAQ (hypothetical frequently asked questions):

Q: Why are you bragging about donating clothes?
A: I’m not, I just want to remember where all my clothes went.

Q: Are you joking?
A: I wish I could say I was, but chemo has really–

Q: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Why are you bragging about giving away so many pairs of socks?
A: I’m not, I just thought it was a weird and mentionable that there happened to be exactly 50 pairs of socks.

Q: Why were you counting how many pairs of socks you were donating anyway?
A: Taxes. And OCD.

Q: How many pairs of socks are you keeping?
A: I don’t know; a lot.

Q: Why do you have so many socks in the first place that you can donate 50 pairs and still have “a lot?”
A: You know, you’re hypothetically kind of a jerk. This HFAQ is over.

Q: I’m sorry.
A: That’s all right, I didn’t mean to snap at you like that. You’re not really a jerk. Do you have any other questions?

Q: I ask the questions around here!
A: You jerk!

Mom, Dad and I played pub trivia this evening without half of our normal team; the Reimans are down in DR this week. We rounded up my worldly buddy Matt to play with us and the four of us managed to end up in second place for all three rounds. That’s a pretty nice showing anyway, but it was particularly good considering most of the questions were about Christmas. Matt, who is not Jewish, did very little to help on Christmas questions, but was very helpful in other areas.

If we really want to commit to winning every week, there’s one guy we need to make sure is there every week: Loren Knaster, freelance sportscaster and life coach, we need your help with sports questions. By that, of course, I mean that we need you to answer all the sports questions for us. It was pretty much entirely your fault that we didn’t get first place because you didn’t show up tonight after I asked you an hour ahead of time if you could come play and you said you already had plans. Jeez, is that what commitment to a team that sometimes invites you at the last minute to play with their team from time to time?

After trivia, I finished getting all the clothes for… the… dammit. How did this all get out of order? The day is out of sequence. That’s just great! It’s not really great, I was being sarcastic.

It’s really tired so I’m just going to put this up as is without editing or correcting the order of my day. Which is really hard for my OCD to accept. But I guess it was probably much harder for you. If you got through this entry to the end right here, I’d like to take a moment to thank you not only for reading, but for sticking with me as well. I’d also like to acknowledge what an awful lot of energy and patience it probably took you to get to the end–

Q: You got that right!
A: Congratulations, you hypothetical Jerk.


Avs: 7 Blackhawks: 5 Me: Surrounded By Friends
Tuesday December 14th 2010, 3:44 am
Filed under: Friends, Leukemia, Word Nerd

Physically I felt great today, owing largely to being in massive pain all last week and being taken off last week’s “big one,” oral methotrexate.

I’m on an emotional high, as I’ve been the past three Decembers, because I have many good friends back in my day-to-day life. When the holiday dust clears, I’m going to try to keep spending time with the people who live here.

Mentally, I struggled with several words, including a few really easy ones like “selfish” (albeit used in a joking manner once I was helped finding it). I’ve noticed this more over the past few days. Was able to talk foreign affairs while watching a hockey game.

The hockey game was a holiday gift from Jason Shwartz, who took Matt and Corey Sullivan, Jason and Ashley MillMott, Matt McDole, and I to the game tonight. We saw the totally unfamiliar Colorado Avalanche of modernity defeat the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks 7-5. We were concerned that we were running late, but we made it to our seats just in time for the first half, where the score started not at 0-0, but at 3-all. Personally, I still find these post-lockout rules very strange.

Thanks Jason, and thanks Marni Shwartz for procuring the tickets!

A note of clarification: When I wrote in yesterday’s entry that I would “try as hard as I can to bang out at least 140 characters each day,” I didn’t mean to imply that I’d be trying to tweet once everyday. I meant that I want to write more than a tweetsworth a day. And yes, I just added “tweetsworth” to my lexicon and perhaps to the English language. Etymologists take note.

I’m sure there will be days when I can only write a tweet. In fact, I bet there will be days when I can’t write even write 140 characters. But I’m going to try my best. And just for those of you who feel cheated out of a tweet or those of you annoyed that you had to read all 1,927 characters (including spaces) of this blog entry, this is for you.


Sunday December 12th 2010, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Leukemia, Word Nerd

(updated 12-13-10: see end of entry)


The title of this entry is the way I noted today’s significance in my phone’s calender. From here on out, the capitalization and punctuation will only get crazier, so be prepared. As of Sunday December 12, I have five months of chemotherapy treatment left to undergo before I’m done. This is the last occasion of this sort to celebrate this year. In a few weeks, when someone asks when I’ll be done with chemo, I’ll be able to respond, “This year.” And then they’ll scuttle off mumbling about how that doesn’t sound so rough.

The past few months seem to have flown by me. That probably sounds like a good thing for someone being treated for cancer, but it hasn’t been for me. It’s given me the feeling of being a passenger in a car going faster and faster and seeing that the driver is not going to hit the brakes in time to stop the car before we accelerate right into that brick wall. The security of being told what to do, the warmth of being at home and cared for and being able to put off important decisions about life after May 12, 2011 are fast approaching their end. I expect it will be rather startling.

Don’t get me wrong–I certainly do not want to be on chemo forever. I don’t want to have leukemia again. I don’t want to have to fight against my body to stay alive ever again. But at least those things are black and white. Cancer = BAD. Life After Cancer = ¿COMPLICATED?

I’ve been sick and I’ve been sleeping a lot. Perhaps this is to make up for all the time I couldn’t sleep at all. This is definitely a big part of feeling that time is slipping away. Having four hour long days has got to affect the brain’s internal clock in some weird way. But I’ve also grown lax in keeping up quick notes in my calendar about what I’ve done on any given day. I haven’t been blogging. I haven’t been writing. I’ve been making excuses. Yes, I know and I agree that getting well is my number one priority every single day, and that sleeping 32 hours a day might be what my body tells me it needs to do right now. But that doesn’t mean I can’t write at least a measly 140 characters a day. I don’t want to look back and regret going silent at the end. I want to remember each day and what it felt like, and how it was different than the day before and exactly what I felt like five months from today.

So I’m going to try as hard as I can to bang out at least 140 characters each day. As this is not a New Year’s resolution, it might actually get done. I’ll call it my Five Months To Go resolution.

UPDATE (12-13-10): When I wrote that I would “try as hard as I can to bang out at least 140 characters each day,” I didn’t mean to imply that I’d be trying to tweet once everyday. I meant that I want to write more everyday than the amount of characters allowed in one tweet. I’m sure there will be days when I can only manage to write a tweet. In fact, I bet there will be days when I can’t write even write 140 characters to fill a tweet. At the very least, I’m going to try my best to write everyday.

See you tomorrow Internet,


Now playing: Scala And Kolacny Brothers – Creep (Originally By Radiohead)
via FoxyTunes

Friends, Weddings, Friends’ Weddings, Theater, Memorials, Theater Memorials, Writing, Writing About All Of That Aforementioned Stuff
Monday October 25th 2010, 1:37 am
Filed under: Family, Friends, Health (Not Cancer), Leukemia, NYC, Word Nerd

I’m feeling well, I think. It’s been a while since I’ve felt okay, but I think tonight, right now, I’m feeling well. Turns out there’s a lot to catch up on, so go to the bathroom now and grab a snack on your way back before you start reading. I’ll wait.

Okay, welcome back. Here we go. Remember to keep your hands inside the blog at all times.

This evening, my grandma took my folks, my aunts and uncles, and me to see Alfred Hitchcock’s 39 Steps at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. She had already seen the play and thought I would enjoy seeing it so much that she gave tickets to my parents and my aunt and uncle as anniversary gifts. Their gifts also included seeing the show with my grandma, my other aunts and uncles, and me. It made some sort of sense, somehow. And even if it didn’t, everyone had a great time.

This production of 39 Steps was turned into a farce of itself and Hitchcock films in general. It was in one of the DCPA’s theaters I’d never been inside before. It was like a black box, only with good, comfortable seats. The play was great and very funny; it was well re-imagined, well directed, well acted and well produced. The ensemble was fantastic. In many scenes, two or three actors switched between different characters faster than the audience could track. Each actor made clear distinctions between their different characters, so there was no confusion between their split-second changes. They were aided by an array of spectacular hats and, in several cases, entire wardrobes–changed on stage in the blink of an eye. They did a great job–with only four actors–filling the stage with more than a dozen people. I highly recommend seeing 39 Steps if you have a chance.

I feel like I haven’t been writing in my blog as much as I’d like to lately. I think, as I’ve been sick for months and months with little well time in between, it becomes monotonous and depressing to write about how I feel, what the doctor says and what we’re going to try. I’ve been writing (offline) while resting in bed. I have a few things I’m really happy with, and that I have to admit I look forward to having time to work on during the day. It’s that writer’s high I’ve written about before. I’ve never personally experienced a runner’s high, but for all my marathon running friends out there, I figure the principle is the same, at least.

There is one blog post in particular that has been giving me trouble. I’ve been tinkering with it for a week, trying to get across exactly what I want to say about being at Summer and Alex’s wedding in Connecticut and being with our ever expanding family of friends. But, to hell with that: everything was great. The wedding was absolutely wonderful, and I was thrilled to be able to attend. The ceremony was just about as perfect as any I’ve ever attended. Not only was the wedding great, but being around my friends was intoxicating. It always is. Being around this family of friends always seems to refresh my health, my mood and my outlook. All the significant others seem like such perfect fits into our circle. It’s very hard to say goodbye to everyone, but at least we’re already scheduled to have two more weddings next year–several months after the chemotherapy drugs should be out of my system. Maybe I’ll be able to stay up and party past 10:00 pm!

We were down one friend at the wedding, who we missed greatly despite his valid excuse: McDole’s in or near Afghanistan right now, serving our country. He taught me that life is–or can be broken down into–a series of five minute achievable goals. I try to use this as often as I can to get through tough situations. Recently, though, he announced a long term plan for all of our friends that I’m not sure whether or not it was genuine or a joke. One day, he told us, our circle of friends should all live in the same cul-de-sac. That sounds pretty damn great to me. And I think McDole was serious.

Speaking of weddings, Dave Burdick is getting married. That’s awesome, and I’m really excited for he and his fiancee Rachel. For some reason, this news struck me entirely different than other friends’ wedding announcements have. Maybe it’s because I don’t see Dave as much as I’d like to anymore. Maybe it’s because just about everything Dave and I have ever done together would be something 14 year olds would enjoy, and 14 year olds don’t get married, or if they do, it’s usually frowned upon. That’s probably it. I’m really happy for them.

Before traveling to Connecticut for Summer and Alex’s wedding, I caught up with friends in New York City (which was great), and I attended a memorial service for Chris Thomas. Chris was head of Pace’s Performing Arts Department when I was there. He had been there for many, many years, but had to retire last year. He set the Department on the path to offering new majors like musical theater and dance, he set the school on the path to offering an MFA program, which happens to be the Actor’s Studio, with whom Chris opened discussions with. He cared about us, he took care of us and I think he was always very proud of us. The circumstances surrounding his death are incredibly sad, and I just hope he knew how much he was loved. Judging from the memorial and its many speakers (including me), Chris Thomas won’t soon be forgotten.

Finally, I have the app installed on my iPhone. When I woke up today at 1 o’clock in the afternoon, I could only chuckle at today’s word of the day: slugabed. It’s not entirely an accurate summation of my circumstances, but I have certainly announced that I’ve felt like a slug many times through my treatment. And for today, it was entirely accurate. Haha.

All right, I think that’s good enough for one night and eight blog entries.


Now playing: Guster – Jesus & Mary
via FoxyTunes

Seven Months To Go! AND: I Try This Whole Going To NYC For A Wedding Thing Over Again.
Tuesday October 12th 2010, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Friends, Leukemia, NYC, Word Nerd

I officially have seven months remaining of chemotherapy treatment as of today, Tuesday October 12, 2010. A friend told me how many days are left as of today, but I think the number so overwhelmed me that my brain purposefully did not commit it to memory. And what would a special day like Seven Months To Go! be like without a trip to the hospital and some fear that I would miss the second wedding in ten days? It was that kind of day. Or at least it seemed like it was that kind of day until we played trivia with friends, which was fun, and we saw the first Chilean miner emerge out of the ground after a harrowing 69 days in a collapsed mine, which was very inspiring.

Tomorrow I’m flying to New York City so that I can attend the wedding of Alex and Summer this weekend (which is, unfortunately, not steampunk themed). Aside from catching up to friends I missed this past weekend, the extra days are basically for sleeping off my flight and otherwise acclimating myself to the East Coast. It’s just like putting the bag with the new goldfish in its old water from its old bowl into its new bowl with the new water before dumping it into its new bowl outright. Growing up, my sisters and I went through a lot of goldfish we won at Purim carnivals, so I don’t know how universal this simile is. But the point is: fish fly east for Summer. I think.

The wedding is actually taking place in Connecticut, at a coincidentally familiar location: Candlewood Lake. I spent many happy years around, on and in that lake with Amy. Although neither the bride nor the groom are from Connecticut, it is a very beautiful place, and I certainly understand its appeal. I am just hopeful that the predictions of a nor’easter are all wrong.

I grew up with Alex in Colorado, and I feel like Summer has been a part of our circle of friends for a long time now. I’m also looking forward to seeing a lot of other friends this weekend who have scattered across the country. Over the past couple of years, we’ve had many chances to commune at weddings, which has been great. I think after everyone is married, there are already plans for everyone to get married again, just so we can keep seeing each other for happy occasions.

Those plans could probably use some work, but I think their intent is in the right place.


Eight Months Minus One Day To Go!
Monday September 13th 2010, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Leukemia, Word Nerd

I needed to give my September 11 post from Saturday a bit of room to breathe, so I didn’t post my normal “X Months To Go!” post on Sunday. On Sunday, the countdown clock officially ticked to eight months of chemotherapy left in my treatment road map. Which, of course, makes today Eight Months Minus One Day To Go!

A few days after I posted that I had nine months of treatment left to go, I realized I had missed the chance to make a Grade A analogy about my new life starting in nine months, or a new lease on life in nine months, or being reborn in nine months. Just something having to do with birth and my nine month countdown. But then I got sick and forgot about it. By the time I got around to writing about how I hadn’t written that Grade A analogy (right now, at this moment), it just doesn’t seem that clever anymore. It seems like a Grade C analogy at best.

Now I don’t think there’s an equivalent Grade A analogy for eight months minus one day left to go of chemotherapy treatment, but if I can think of something within the next… let’s see… three days, you’ll be the first to know it, The Internet. After that, I just can’t commit anymore time to sitting around all day trying to figure out good analogies.


Twitlog: Several 140-Character Stories I Meant To Blog About

Since my last entry, I’ve missed several topics I wish I’d blogged about. Knowing full well from prior experience that if I gave each of these many topics their own posts, I would quickly feel overwhelmed and, just as quickly, give up. So I decided to write about each of these many topics in one entry I’ve dubbed a “twitlog.” Aware of my propensity for verbose verbiage, I decided to treat each story as a Twitter post by limiting each of them to 140 characters. Onward!

-Last Vid: Bobby Fitzsimmons (of screen & stage) vlogs. Los: great! But whycome so few hits for funny video? I want to play Bobby’s cousin.

-New Vid: Crazy lady thinks cat is her son; boyfriend aghast. YT Comedy Spotlight! Moms Day dedication: to all moms, not just the crazy ones.

-Ebert: Why I Hate 3-D (And You Should Too) I’ve been saying that! If only I were a movie critic, they’d listen… and pay! Er, just listen.

-Rachel moved up and out to D.C. Rebecca is graduating on Friday and got into law school. I’m writing in my blog in the middle of the night.

-Dad and I met current Minnesota Senator and former SNL writer and performer Al Franken the other day. He was extremely nice and personable.

-How could I have possibly forgotten to mention burping as a side effect of iron overload? Hmn… maybe it’s because I’ve been busy burping?

-Weekly bar trivia, I think I love you.

-The Fam is going on a cruise next week to honor Boo’s graduation & acceptance into law school, Roo’s promotion & move, and my 1 YEAR TO GO!

-I’ve been feeling well enough to restart physical therapy. Crack! Snap! Oops! Those exercises hurt enough that I’m not sure I can do PT. Ow.

-I went to my first Derby Day party/benefit. Mmm… mint juleps. It was a blast until the last 90 seconds-we had to watch some horse race.

-The Levin Fam is being honored by the ADL for community service & leadership. I serve the community by making videos about boobs and farts.

-My ANC is great, but my platelets are so low that I’m off chemo until at least after the cruise. Note to self: don’t get stabbed on cruise.

Funny parody of Jay-Z & Alicia Keys’ Empire State Of Mind. Star Wars, I admit I’m still in love with you despite George Lucas’ best efforts.

-I’ve tried so hard to enjoy the new Steven Page-less BNL album. It’s very, very okay. But it lacks a certain… Steven Page.

-New “Give A Shit” lyrics: Earthquakes, volcanoes and the oil spill/My candidate still says, “Drill, Baby, Drill!”

Whew, okay I think that does it. This turned out to be a fun challenge. Maybe I’ll wind up making more of these. We’ll see how I feel about it a few days out. At any rate, I enjoyed doing this enough to create a new category for these things (’cause you know, this entry wasn’t already in enough categories).

For the record, “twitlog” is a double portmanteau, and I love me some portmanteaus. First, of course, there’s the Twitter-weblog combination, which is an apt description of all these Twitter-style stories in my blog. Second is the more self-derisive combination of “twit” and “log”; with the “twit” being myself, and this effort being the only “log” of what happened in the unintended space between more frequent and detailed blog posts.

I’m such a nerd.


Now playing: Guster – Jonah
via FoxyTunes

I Don’t Care If The Glass Is Half-Empty Or Half-Full; I’m Just Thirsty.
Thursday April 22nd 2010, 1:01 am
Filed under: Word Nerd

Who came up with this whole glass half-empty or half-full concept? As far as I am concerned, this metaphor is old and boring; frankly, it has exhausted its usefulness. Why, kids today are hardly even aware of its existence, let alone where they stand on the issue of how much water is in the glass. I don’t want to get beat to the punch here like we did with that whole “dead horse” fiasco. Let’s just go ahead do away with this stodgy old figure of speech and roll out a new hipper, edgier, sexier metaphor. Something cool the kids will pick up on. I’ve got it! From now on, there is no glass, there is no water. From now on, you see the situation as half-clothed, while I see it as half-naked. Genius!


P.S. Maybe we should go with “nekkid” instead of “naked”; kids just love misspelling things these days!

Now playing: Barenaked Ladies – War on Drugs
via FoxyTunes

Newish BTTM Videos: “Prank Calls” and “A Videophone Hello” + Analyses
Wednesday February 03rd 2010, 12:27 am
Filed under: Better Than The Machine, Word Nerd

Two Better Than The Machine videos for the price of… two videos! What a steal! I missed posting and analyzing last week’s video here in my blog so I’ll show it off with this week’s video! Hooray!

Last week’s video, “Prank Calls,” shows off Matt Gallo’s amazing crank calling skills. We even managed to get a microphone into the room of the person he called! Wowzers!

In this week’s video, “A Videophone Hello,” I got to phone in my performance. Videophone it in, that is! Hiyo!

And if you didn’t like that logline, well then, here’s another one just for you: In this week’s video, “A Videophone Hello,” I get to experience instantaneous modern communication without the use of my semaphore flags! What a time to be alive!

Both videos were directed and edited by Ballard C. Boyd.

The interstitial videos continued unabated last week and on into this week, which caused some confusion, as the they do, rather explicitly, advertise new videos in February and it is now, scientifically speaking, February. To anyone who is confused: we didn’t say when in February we’d switch over from the sketch comedy videos that advertise new sketch comedy videos in February to February’s new sketch comedy videos that do not advertise new videos in February. Thus, scientifically speaking, we won’t be in breach of contract for at least another couple of weeks. Phew!

These two videos were shot at the beginning of a single Better Than The Machine meeting at Pace. I wanted Paul and Matt to be in them, since we’d released Carlos and Christina videos the two previous weeks. I especially wanted Paul to be in something so that people would be reminded of his existance, which is good to remind people of every know and again. When “Prank Calls” was being shot, they shut off the video feed with me, so I don’t know what they were doing out there.

I do know, however, that both Ballard and I had ideas for me appearing in a video on the computer screen (which is how I attend meetings). My idea was more complicated and homoerotic, so we did Ballard’s idea–which is to say we did Ballard’s idea because it was easier, not because it was less homoerotic. All of us have now been in these interstitials. On the Xbox, I think we’d get a medal for that. Or something. I don’t have an Xbox.

Here is an interesting fact: if you watch “Prank Calls” on, there’s a big ad covering me up for most of the video. I’m just doing my part for the team. Remember that, the team.

The big reason for making these interstitials was that they were quick and easy, and could be thrown together while we hopefully buckled down and worked harder on other videos. It’s been an interesting experiment. There has been a lot of writing, scheduling and some shooting, but I feel like without, at the very least, a second editor available in NYC (to say nothing of another full time director), it puts a tremendous strain on Ballard. It was hard for Paul and I when the two of us were directing and editing videos full time, and I am thus both very impressed and very thankful for Ballard’s tenacity.

We may go back to full videos next week, but I’m not making any promises! There is still another unreleased interstitial with Carlos and Christina, and we could probably make more if we wanted to, so don’t push us! We’ll do it! Maybe!


P.S. I have found a staggering number of words missing from Firefox’s dictionary, the latest of which is “analyses,” the plural form of “analysis.” It’s true.

“It’s funny. Don’t ever tell anybody anything.” – H. Caulfield
Thursday January 28th 2010, 1:05 pm
Filed under: Word Nerd

Goodbye, JD,

The more I read about you today, the less I wish I knew about your personal life. I have always maintained that I like most artists for their art, and that knowing about artists’ personal lives–be they actors, painters, musicians, or writers–only serves to muddy things up. I have learned that you were many things, Sir, but rest assured, you were never a phony.