Cover photo by Thomas Riggs, used under Creative Commons license

“We are building the biggest weapon for oppression in the history of mankind.”

Hey, remember last week when I had the flu? I miss last week. Because this week I had goddamn pneumonia. Like I’m some sort of Arctic explorer or something.

So obviously I spent the entire long weekend — the first really nice weekend we’ve had in six months — in bed. And this whole week too…I’ve been able to do a little work from home, but generally speaking this has kicked my ass. I at least got myself some antibiotics, which seem to be helping.

Whilst lying on my ass, drifting in and out of sleep, and coughing up some truly terrifying things, I did watch a few movies:

Moonrise Kingdom (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was classic Wes Anderson. Quirky, hilarious, and this surreal, mildly-alien world made out of the most mundane memories. Seriously outstanding performances from the two lead kids, and you wouldn’t hear that from me often. I can’t believe I waited this long to watch it. Next up: The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Citizenfour (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was a (the?) documentary about Ed Snowden, and how he revealed himself (and his secrets) to journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras. More compelling than you might expect a technical documentary about electronic surveillance to be.

Mean Streets (imdb | rotten tomatoes) is one of a bunch of now-classic films from the golden era of Hollywood cinema (the 70s) that happens to be on demand on Bell right now. I’ve watched that, The Exorcist, All The President’s Men, and others. It’s made me finally take my copy of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls off the shelf to read. Honestly, I didn’t love this one quite as much as those others, but I will say this: Robert De Niro was barely recognizable. Hard to believe it came out only a year before Godfather II.


Cover photo by Thomas Riggs, used under Creative Commons license

And I thought the other kind of calculus was bad

Last Sunday, after a late but enjoyable Saturday evening with friends, Nellie and I were enjoying a nice lazy lie-in, like any other Sunday morning. We didn’t have anywhere to be, so after a few hours we’d probably get up, go find some breakfast, maybe watch a movie, just enjoy the day.

Our plans changed slightly when I was awoken by an excruciating pain in the right side of my back. I’d never felt anything like this…not pulled muscles, not torn ligaments, not a broken wrist. I fell out of the bed, writhing on the floor in pain and generally freaking out because it felt like someone was stabbing me from the inside. Standing up, walking around, sitting down, twisting my back…nothing helped. Nellie, now convinced I didn’t just have a leg cramp or some other silly thing that was unnecessarily interrupting her sleep, was up too, Googling symptoms on her iPhone while I sat, twitching and trying to catch my breath. Nellie guessed kidney stones, and based on the region of the pain I was inclined to agree. Actually, I was inclined to claw that part out of my body, but whatever. A quick call to TeleHealth led us to think we were right, and made it very clear that a hospital visit was required here. I’m not afraid of hospitals, but neither do I enjoy them, so I normally do everything I can to avoid them. However, this was not an avoid-the-hospital scenario. I couldn’t even function.

So, off we walked to the ER at St. Mike’s, which was sure to be a treat on a Sunday morning. Actually, it was quite calm, apart from the kid who’d cooked himself on ecstasy the night before and woulnd’t shut up, and the screaming cursing ranting crazy guy strapped to the bed in the isolation room (who we could still hear), and the wailing meth addict who was admitted right behind us. Just a regular morning at St. Mike’s, I’m guessing, but they treated me as well as they always do. I was quickly on a bed, getting blood drawn and donating some urine, being pumped full of morphine (which didn’t do shit) and Toradol (whoooo!!!!), getting an ultrasound (really never thought I’d have one of those) and finally a CT scan. The doctor’s first guess was confirmed by the tests: yup, kidney stone. Renal calculus. Three of them, to be exact. Small enough, it seemed, to pass without surgery (unlike the dude a couple of beds over, who had one the size of a golf ball!) so they sent us home with prescriptions and best wishes.

We picked up the Percocet and Naproxin along with piles of other stuff at the drug store (never shop whilst high on Toradol), then got McDonald’s for lunch (Toradol: also a bad influence on lunch decisions), then went home to wait the little fuckers out.

That evening, about twelve hours after the Toradol went it, it started to wear off. I took two Percocet without eating anything but half an apple, and promptly puked it all back out. Can’t remember the last time I puked, and certainly not the last time I puked like that. This affliction just kept getting better.

After that I basically settled into two days of pain, nausea and fuzziness. I thought I’d be able to work from home, but I could barely lift myself out of bed when I was drugged and writhed in pain three hours later when they wore off. Seriously, you’d think that two Percocet and a Naproxin every six hours would keep me good and numb, but…nyet. I had just enough energy to drink my own weight in water, emptying and refilling my various containers every half hour or so.

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, when I was on a ‘sleep for an hour, then pee’ cycle, I felt something…I don’t know, like a bump, in my groin. I looked down, saw a bunch of blood and what appeared to be wine sediment in the toilet, and figured the worst had passed. I did a little silent cheer, went back to the couch, and slept a few more hours. Telling Nellie the next morning felt like the times as a kid when I told my parents I won a tournament or an award at school. SO. PROUD. But mainly, I was just happy that my bladder-y region had stopped the constant spasming. That was weird. On Tuesday Michael (one of our cats) actually attacked my groin under a blanket because it wouldn’t stop twitching.

I spent the rest of Wednesday unfuzzing from the (no longer necessary) painkillers and by Thursday was back to work. Still with some fever and tenderness, but more or less back to normal. As I write this I nearly have my appetite back, I feel very little soreness and it actually seems like a vaguely fuzzy memory…like it happened years ago, or to someone else.

And that is why drugs freak me the hell out. That, and the wailing lady on the floor of the St. Michael’s emergency room.

Note to self: buy "iPus" trademark

I should be on a plane right now. I should be flying home to my family’s farm, to join my parents and my two brothers (one of whom flew in from Sydney on Saturday night) and their families. But I’m not. I’m still in Toronto. I changed my flight from this morning to Wednesday because I’ve been sick since last Monday, and showed no signs of being able to fly today. My head, she would have asploded.

This is, without a doubt, the sickest I have ever been. I had strep throat (wtf?) and a sinus infection at the same time. Sneezing, coughing, dry throat, severe headaches, dizziness, fever, and — the pièce de résistance — pus coming out of my eyes. For serious, people, eye pus. Oy.

Anyway, last night — for the first time in a week — I slept for more than a couple of hours, and today I feel a lot better than I have. Still not 100%, and certainly my sinuses would not have tolerated a 3-hour flight involving two descents, but it’s improvement. At this point I just want to feel normal again, and then go see my family.

On the plus side, being at home this much has allowed me to read the first two Game Of Thrones books, and I’ve just started the third. I don’t think I could have done that on a backlit screen, what with the headaches, but Nellie got me a super-awesome early birthday gift: a Kobo eReader touch. Thank the gods, I’d have gone mental otherwise.

"Just kidding."

I didn’t survive this week at work so much as I climbed out of it. Pushing through this cold (again? seriously? dammit!) I suggested a pub near the Ryerson before our second-last TIFF film. Much to my surprise they had several Unibroue bottles behind the bar, including #9 on the Project FiftyBrew list: Don de Dieu! Kickass. It was very nice, by the way…tasted much smoother than a 9% beer should.

We had time to kill and full bellies, so we walked home, dropped our stuff and then walked back to the Ryerson. I was so wiped that I needed coffee; our barista at Starbucks mistook my ‘sticks of shame’ t-shirt for an indication that I actually speak Japanese and tried to converse with me. My blank stare pretty much answered that question for her. We strolled up to the Ryerson and the oh-so-familiar line-up spot: the concrete wall running along church, a tired movie-goer’s best friend. Oddly enough we were shown in to the theatre 35 minutes before the scheduled start time. That never happens.

Speaking of Japanese, many of the people in the audience spoke it. That’s because we were there to see Confessions (tiff | imdb), aka Kokuhaku, Japan’s submission for best foreign film Oscar. I think I like it more now than immediately after I watched it…it felt a little long at the time, but now I appreciate all the story threads it had to pull together. The filtered slo-mo was beautiful for a while, as was the droning soundtrack, but it wore a little thin in the second hour. Still, very good. It deserves a B, says I.

Tonight is all about relaxing. I could only get about 3 hours of coherent work in at the office today, and tonight — while Nellie is off doing girly things with other girlies — I plan to do nothing more strenuous than write this blog post to the following soundtrack:

  • Ida Maria . “Oh My God”
  • DevotchKa . “How It Ends”
  • Uncle Tupelo . “Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down”
  • We Are Scientists . “Pittsburgh”
  • The Tallest Man On Earth . “Graceland”
  • FemBots . “Count Down Our Days”
  • Vampire Weekend . “Ottoman”
  • Rogue Wave . “Electro-Socket Blues”

Those last two were from the closing credits of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, playing in the other room, and about as highbrow as it’s gonna get around here tonight. Peace.

The only thing that I got's been botherin' me my whole life

Ugh. I sat down, all ready to write a nice long blog post about something frightfully interesting, but my brain is so foggy from this cold and all the DayQuil* I’m taking to deal with it that I can’t string together a coherent sentence. I’ll get back to you on…whatever it was I was going to write about and have already forgotten.

In the meantime, I can muster some thoughts about the two books I just finished: Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk was one of his better ones, I thought. It took me some time to get used to the writing style, but once I did I flew through it. I actually wish it had gone on a little longer, a rare sensation for me with books. I then whipped through Deliver Me From Nowhere by Tennessee Jones, ten short stories written as companion pieces to each of the songs on Bruce Springsteen‘s excellent Nebraska album. Some were good, some were tedious, but only the first two felt like they added to the songs that inspired them. Still, a worthwhile (and quick) read for fans of the album.

* By the way, is it no longer possible to get DayQuil in liquid form? I stumbled out to a drugstore yesterday for provisions, and can find lots of liquid NyQuil, but DayQuil seems to only come in capsule form now. I have to take 2 or 3 just to feel anything, whereas a little gulp of the liquid stuff and I was giddily altered for a good four hours.

A rite of passage in my left thigh

There are certain events in a man’s life which make him feel more like a man. Today I experienced one of those.

Today I suffered a mild groin pull, and I became more of a man. Specifically I became more of an old man, as I’m sort of hobbling around now and look as if I need a cane.

Since none of you were there when it happened, here’s a official story I’m giving people on it: I suffered the injury rescuing a kitten from a drainpipe while also kicking a game-winning field goal.

Sinuses > self-actualization, apparently

Sorry. I know it’s been drab and boring here lately. It’s just taking forever to get out from under this goddamn cold. Maslow was right, it’s hard to be spontaneous and creative when your body just wants to lie down and ingest unholy medicines. It’ll get better — I’ll get better — soon, I promise.

In the meantime, I want to draw your attention to a widget you might not have seen, especially if you only read this blog by RSS feed: the bottom widget on the right side of the page shows which book I’m reading right now. Clicking on it takes you to the excellent Shelfari, which you should use if you’re at all into books.