Rant: Repainting films

I’ve spent many days and evenings escaping real life and CF by watching movies – good, bad and mind-blowing. However, I’m irritated by trend of the enhanced version, or director’s cut, or need to release a second version of a great film for increased profits. It cheapens classics and makes me wonder why this craze haunts the film industry and not other art forms. What about novels and paintings?

Apple products would have a huge role in the new version. HC can visit the NYC Apple store.

If we can re-do films, why not pen updated versions of the Catcher in the Rye or Catch-22? Or paint new brush strokes on the Mona Lisa. Perhaps my examples are cheating, as the novels came out in a different time period when movies didn’t get updated (along with the fact J.D. Salinger, Norman Mailer and da Vinci are long gone).  However, should that really matter? Couldn’t these works be freshened up for modern audiences? Think of the possibilities: Mona Lisa sports a Bluetooth headset in her ear, reflecting the busy, independent woman she is now. The current painting doesn’t do her lifestyle justice. In the repainted version, the porcelain veneers of her $10K J Lo smile sparkle when she’s caught mid-sentence ordering another five thousand shares of DreamWorks stock.

Let’s not stop at paintings. Think of the possibilities when it comes to adding modern, marketable technology to novels. Holden Caulfield gets a cell phone to use in TCITR II, the Technology Cut. Or better yet, Holden gets an iPod playing marketable hits while he walks around New York City contemplating life, which will be the cherry on top to sell the music rights for a massive amount of money. Now there’ll be a Catcher soundtrack album, or two, and a Holden Caulfield special-edition iPod. And McDonald’s Catcher in the Rye drink glasses that will be recalled due to some nasty Chinese metal in the coating that causes us all to want to kill ourselves, which is how I feel thinking about this.

There is no greater example of my hatred of revisionist history than Star Wars, which I remember waiting three hours to see when it was released and have since seen a dozen times. But, and it hurts to say this, George Lucas has killed it for me with updated versions that include added scenes that weren’t part of the original footage. In the ultimate unfair do-over, he added scenes created with new special-effects technology. Why not just re-shoot the entire movie with new technology, George, if you’re going to apply that rule? Why make a quilt of old and new? Might as well get rid of the cheap masks in the cantina scene while you’re tinkering with your masterpiece.

Imagine the Na'vi in pink or purple or ecru or Home Depot orange, the latter creating unique marketing opportunities

Why not re-shoot the whole damn thing, George? Re-shoot it every year with new actors and you’ll have a billion-dollar hit every June. Or, instead of re-releasing 4 or 5 different versions of your crowning achievement, as you clearly screwed up the last four of the movies you made, why not let someone else take a spin with the characters and make new movies? My eight-year-old daughter would jump at the chance to see new Star Wars films, not Star Wars films with new scenes.

I know my cause is hopeless. There’s too much money involved. And that’s our world now. Marketing and packaging – or repackaging. Maximizing the return. I don’t blame anyone. I would do the same thing if given the chance. If I had made Avatar and had had total artistic control, I wouldn’t release a second version less than a year later like James Cameron did. No, no, no –  I’d release a new version every month with different skin colors for the “Na’vi.” Then, when I ran out of colors, I would give the Na’vi iPads. Today, Avatar 1, version 27, would be in theaters.

Oh, well, it’s a shame some artists can’t leave their masterpieces alone. It makes me sad, though hopeful that one day someone will release a director’s cut of Troll 2. Hopefully the new version will be a total of nine minutes long and come with 100 dollars in cash for those of us who wasted two hours of our lives watching it the first time. One can only hope.

Reflections on my recent tussle with C diff

This is what hell looks like for your gut

After 34 days of stomach aches and diarrhea, and heartburn that ate away at my esophagus like an alien ready to rip from my chest and scamper across the room, I can say that C diff no longer holds the upper hand. It causes me great fear to write this because C diff is devious and has in the past come back within a few weeks. That was before I knew about probiotics and the dangers of acid-reducing drugs. So, I continue to avoid Nexium while I suck down billions of probiotics.

The past month has been an interesting story in how doctors approach treatments differently. My regular superhero CF doc saw me first and came up with the  C diff diagnosis (with my help) and prescribed the vanco. I consulted with my stomach doctor during the ordeal. At 14 days, it was clear the vanco hadn’t wiped out the C diff. My CF doctor ordered another six days of vanco. My stomach doctor suggested another 14 and told me he’d call in an Rx for it, if needed. This is always the danger of having two doctors involved. It’s pretty much guaranteed the two will follow different playbooks.

I'm hoping to win a new car and Kenmore refrigerator

With cystic fibrosis, I’m no stranger to this dilemma of different paths. I’ve put myself in the situation may times. Years, ago one pulmonary doctor wanted to treat me with inhaled TOBI and one IV drug. My CF doctor wanted to treat me with two IV antibiotics. I had to choose between the two. And it caused me much anxiety making the decision. This is one of the most painful challenges there is – the fear of making the wrong medical choice. It’s same as the final segment of Let’s Make a Deal when you have to pick between doors 1, 2 or 3. One door hides a big win, while the wrong door sends you home with a goat. (The third door hides about the same value of prize you risked, leaving you neither rich nor poor with your new washer and dryer.) Little did I know when I was a child watching the show at my grandmother’s house that it was really a metaphor for life. Or at the very least, the hard medical choices we have to make.

Luckily, or with educated luck, I chose the correct door in this C diff situation and trusted my CF doctor. He was correct. Had I gone with my stomach doctor’s choice of another 14 days, he would have been correct, too. But hopefully, by not doing an extra 8 days of antibiotics, vanco will still be effective for future C diff bouts.

My last thought on this adventure was that during the weeks of eating soup and drinking Gatorade and avoiding anything spicy or cutting that might upset my digestive balance more than it already was, there was one solid food I could eat which didn’t bother me at all. Yep, one food I could count on. And though I had to go without it for a short period of time while the C diff was hot, it was the only solid food I could count on not to rock the boat.

Long live the McGriddle.

Deja Vu Office Cliches

Dressed in a blue suit he wore two times prior to this glorious day, once at a funeral and once at his cousin’s wedding, your new manager delivers the line like an actor with years of summer theater behind him. He sends it forth, passes it on, believing you’ve never heard it. Like it’s fresh, just born, a baby of an expression crying and taking its first breath of hospital air. The words will make all the difference in how you approach your work from now until they find you face down on your laptop.

And later, when you and your “colleagues” leave the meeting, feeling queasy, heads held high as the survivors, the phrase’s impact will be lasting, like the weekend in Vegas where you puked on the Blackjack table and you remember the staff at the Wynn telling your friends to remove you from the premises, which they have to do because you can’t do it yourself. Your only coherent thoughts being that it was neat how they hid hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades in the carpet design and that the last six Mojitos were a mistake and you’d like a do-over because you didn’t get more attractive to the cocktail waitress each time you tipped her a five dollar chip, then a ten, followed by a 25, which would have hurt had she not delivered the pain medicine each time.

You thought you were unique, as did your new boss when he used the phrase you hate the most, the one that is both confusing and depressing like some fart-house French film one of your brainiac friends with the faux Euro glasses seems to have a complete understanding of but in which you somehow got lost when the clown rode the merry-go-round for two hours then ran screaming into the rain, which is what you felt like doing, running from the movie theater into the street where you wished a large semi would barrel down at 40 mph and send you flying, separating you from your shoes. And that’s how you feel now, hearing your boss’s words. Does anyone realize you are sitting in the meeting without your shoes? Had anyone looked under the table at your socks or realized the smell comes from them because your feet were swollen from the side of beef you ate this weekend, including the charred part, which might be something you’ll regret later in life at a doctor’s office?

You wished you could go back to kindergarten when all words were newborns and clichés thrilled your parents, who were your paparazzi, who took pictures of you, or better yet video they’d show during the holidays to the family. And everyone loved the parts with the clichés and you spitting out the most mundane of them. But you were excused because you were five and everything sounded cute coming from your pie hole at that age.

But now work clichés are like acupuncture with icepicks, screaming is involved, and pain, though not in that order. And that’s the pain you feel now when he said it again and another identical icepick stuck you in the forehead. But this pain was worse because of the long string of thoughts it released from your cranium that everyday was the same and that nothing changes, and that you’ll be sitting in the same stained red office chair that doesn’t recline with its cheap sandpaper fabric and plastic frame and handles that never work when next year’s manager says the same thing and thinks it’s original, important. But it’s not. It’s the same. And you’ve heard and seen it before – in another language no less. It’s the French film and you’re doomed to watch it over and over until your eyes pop out of your head and roll down the sticky movie theater floor where one comes to rest against a gummy bear a three-year-old dropped and was told not to pick up lest he catch typhoid fever or something really bad one can only read about on the Internet by typing in “red spots and itching and slimy discharge.”

Yes, that’s what you thought about when the new manager stood there, bright smile filling the room with sunshine and happiness that he had said the correct things over the years and wrote the correct emails and made friends with the correct people and climbed the correct ladder, each rung hand over hand, never breaking a nail. All of that work and this is what he said first: “We have to do more with less.”

It’s a shame really. What about the beauty and three-dimensional quality of  “thinking outside the box” or the soft-drink sounding “synergistic”?  He could have coughed up one of those, the bad oyster not staying down. No, those have a positive quality to them, as if you might hear your kindergarten teacher use them “that’s not a box, that’s a rectangle, and you’re coloring outside the lines, Mr Amount To Nothing.” Now you’re upset because you were taught to color inside the lines but to think outside the box, which is as confusing as what the beer ads tell you, drink responsibly, as this is not something you’re good at, wishing now you could hoist the beer can over your head and pop the top letting its life flow down the plastic tubing of the beer bong into your waiting mouth, trying not to spill any, but failing, and drawing the jabs of your equally irresponsible buddies. The same ones that left you outside the Wynn. When you woke up the next day you spent the morning hung over cancelling all of your credit cards because someone took your wallet when you fell over sideways, landing in your vomit, exposing your back pocket to the sky, where some scumbag pretended to care and helped themselves to your plastic and family pictures. Worst of all, you had to drive back to LA at the speed limit because you had no license. Then the horror of the DMV that week, and the circles under your eyes in the picture as a memento of the trip living forever in your wallet or until someone lifted the new one you bought at Macy’s for $42 plus tax.

But as bad as it was explaining how you lost everything to your wife, it was still 100 times more fun than sitting in the large conference room without windows and blackjack tables and the sound of slot machines and the cocktail waitress who had never met anyone more charming than you than it was listening to the new manager say “do more with less.” And wondering if he really meant you when he said “less.”

If I had courage

If I had courage, I would . . .

Everything you need to make your point in a meeting.

wear a toolbelt everywhere and with all types of clothing. Like a three-piece suit at a business meeting or a swimsuit at the beach. Though I would have to take it off to swim, as my first try would be my last when the tools dragged me to the bottom of the ocean. That might be the only kink in the plan. However, the toolbelt would be helpful with a business suit. Especially when the smart ass at the meeting says, “hey, Joe Toolbelt, what gives?” One whack of my rubber-gripped hardened-steel hammer to his head would answer that question. “Yeah, that’s what gives, part of your skull, Jerky. Hope you enjoy your stay at the hospital. Now would the rest of you like to hear my idea for increasing revenue or would you like a screwdriver in your ear?”

get a tribal tatoo that covers one of my arms. I want to be a member of the tribe with tribal tattoos, though I’m not sure who exactly is in that tribe. Is it really a tribe? A secret tribe? It looks like a pretty diverse group of people with this type of tattoo. I can’t pinpoint one type. But I know if I got a tattoo to match theirs, then they would regret getting their tattoos because I’d be a member of their tribe and it wouldn’t be a cool tribe if I was a member. No squares allowed. Especially freaks wearing toolbelts all the time. Nope, these secret tribe members would have to go to the plastic surgeon and have their tribal tattoos removed and get new tattoos on their arms. Then they’d start a new tribe. That’s okay. All I wanted was the tattoo, not membership in their stupid club.

Ladies, this one is for you. Not in a million years did I ever imagine putting a photo like this on my site. Consider this your birthday present.

wear g-string underwear in the hospital and pretend I was a male exotic dancer. In fact, when anyone asked what I do for a living, that’s what I’d tell them. “Yep, not earning any tips in here while I’m on IVs, am I, Doc?” Then I would make it sound authentic by adding, “The ladies at the nursing home will be missing their love dancer this week. Hey, doc, you think I could do a gig here, in the hospital? Cheer up some patients?” While in my room, I’d play AC/DC and all sorts of dance music and ask the doctors and nurses to tell me if they liked one dance move over another. “Do you like it when I shake my hips first or kick my leg out and pretend I’m a karate guy?” I know this strategy would get me released to do home IV’s sooner rather than later. Nothing scares medical folk more than dealing with a guy in a leopard g wearing a toolbelt and sporting a tribal tattoo on his arm.

write a novel. Yep, I would sit down and finally give it shot and get it out of my system. Or finish one I started. I would overcome the fear that it would suck and would be a complete waste of my time. I don’t think I have enough courage for that. Not in a million years. Can I paste a bunch of blog posts together and call it a novel? Maybe not. Oh, well, let that be a lesson to you. Or not. In fact, there’s not really a lesson in there at all. Not if I have to call it out to you. It has to spring forth organically. This post is a lesson in what not to do. Do you have any idea what I’m talking about? Good. Neither do I, which is exactly why I shouldn’t write a novel. No one would get past the nonsensical first page. Or the picture of me in a g-string on the cover. I can’t get past the stupid male dancer photo I added. It’s creeping me out. What was I talking about?

Stay well.