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Thursday, September 09, 2021

MORE MEDICAL FUN...

Another day off from dialysis spent in the medical maze.

This morning I got up early and hauled my ass up to Mount Sinai for a 10:30 podiatry appointment.

A while back I broke a leaded pint glass here in my apartment, and though I thought I had thoroughly cleaned up all of the shards, one eluded me, and I did not notice that I had stepped on it until I saw thick trails of blood on my floor. I had stepped on it with the thickly-callused portion of my left big toe — due to having feet as flat as a paddle, I put a lot of my body weight on my big toes, hence their perpetually armored state — so I di not feel the damage being done, but once aware of it I addressed the wound with proper cleaning and filed dressing. (When you have as many medical issues as I do, your bathroom becomes a ready-to-rock triage supply area.)

Once admitted to see the podiatrist, a Dr. Blustein, she examined the toe and immediately began debriding the callus and extraneous dead flesh with a deft hand. Once the debriding was completed, she applied a purple substance to the area that will aid in drying it out. 

She then applied an antibiotic ointment and wrapped the toe with paper tape, noting that I was to wrap it only in paper pate, as elastic bandages do not allow the area in question to wick out moisture. I was also given a padded surgical shoe that I am to wear while the healing takes place, and I am to return in a month so Dr. Blustein can assess my healing's progress.

 

I am not digging the shoe, as it fits poorly and could really use a heel strap to keep the rear secure and avoid the patient's heel from popping out, but I have no choice in the matter and therefore just have to butch up and deal with it.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

AURAL TORTURE ON THE B63 BUS

It's my day off, so I hied myself down to the McDonald's on 9th Street for my day-off treat of a double Filet O' Fish sandwich. Upon finishing my meal, I caught the B63 bus up the Avenue to my stop. My ride was maybe ten minutes long, but it seemed like an eternity, thanks to a toddler screaming "The Alphabet Song" at the top of his lungs. That was bad enough, but he did it in stacatto , Shatnerian bursts, so it sounded like "A, b, c, d...E, F,G !!! (pause) H, i, j,k...L, M, N, O,P!!!" This was repeated over and over, with the volume escalating while the bored mother adjusted her jihjab.

That song is aural torture in the first place, but when trapped on a moving bus and being forced to hear it on endless loop as screamed by a toddler? It's like waterboarding.

 

Friday, August 27, 2021

FRIDAY GROUSING

 

It's once more Friday, the most welcome finale to another week in my endless cycle of life-sustaining medical treatment.

I know the wait to receive a donor kidney is long, but there are days when I feel like Sisyphus, damned to an eternity of pushing a boulder uphill, only to have it once more roll back down. For me it's enduring on serious medical issue and beating it , only for yet another to step in and make life interesting, in this case dialysis, AKA a years-long waiting list accented by painful and nausea-inducing treatment.

In the words of the late Sam Kinison, "It never ends! IT NEVER ENDS!!! AAAAAUUUUUUUGH!!!"

Thursday, August 26, 2021

HOW TO DRAW DC SUPER HEROES and SUPER-VILLANS (written by Yours Truly)

             Get yours today! (Not that I'm seeing any royalties out of this. It was strictly work-for-hire.)  

My mother just called to tell me she'd received her copy of the HOW TO DRAW DC SUPER HEROES AND SUPER-VILLAINS book that I wrote, with artist Scott Koblish doing the heavy lifting as the illustrator. I had flipped through it when I received comps, but my mom told me that there were photos and bios of me and Scott in the back, a detail I had missed upon first perusal. 

 


It should also be noted that Amazon lists Scott as the author/illustrator, an error that is reportedly being corrected. Typical of Yer Bunche's luck...

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

ONE YEAR IN THE BATTLE

 Today marks the one-year anniversary of me going on regular thrice-weekly dialysis. Oh, YAY...

PUNCTURED!!!

(art by Wally Wood)

Among the many things I hate about dialysis is the removal of the bandages after treatment. 

 Once one's surgically-created fistula has matured enough, the tubes that facilitate the dialysis process are connected to one's fistula forearm via two needles, one arterial and one venous, and as the fistula becomes more amenable to being penetrated, the gauge/size of the needles increases so that the hollow needles can more easily allow the flow of blood both into and out of the body. 

A simple diagram.

As this process removes, filters, and replaces one's entire blood supply, along with removing excess fluids/uria that one's kaput kidney are no longer capable of purging from the body, wide-gauge needles are slowly worked up to, and I am at the point where my regular needles are the big ones. Consequently, when the needles are removed at the end of a day's session, the entry points must immediately be tightly bandaged, lest the area quickly wind up looking like a scene out of BLOOD FEAST (1963).

When I get home from treatment, along with the usual puking and inability to eat anything until 11pm or later, I have to wait several hours, usually around five or six, before removing the day's bandages. When the nurses bind the wounds, they have to make them as tight as possible to prevent leakage, over which I wear a compression sleeve to aid the process, and sometimes the removal of the tape and wadding can be painful due to the glue on the tape adhering to well to my atopic dermatitis-scarred skin, and it can even take a chunk out of me when removed.

That said, when removing the bandages, I have to have strong over-the-counter bandages at the ready to deal with any possible spillage. Since the wounds are basically small holes, I generally favor Band-Aid Tru Stay Clear Spots, which are small adhesive patches just a tad smaller than a square postage stamp, which makes them the perfect unobtrusive bandages for the punctures in question. I also have a bottle of alcohol close by to further clean the area once the initial wrappings are off and before the Clear Spots are applied. The problem is that before the nurses wrap the punctures, they cover the fresh wounds with an individual medical band-aid each before applying the absorbent wadding and then tightly wrapping everything from there. Removing the medical band-aids requires a good grip, as the adhesive is strong, and when removed, any healing over is undone by ripping off the band-aid. The venous puncture is barely an issue, as it yields barely a pin-prick's worth of blood that's easily swiftly covered, but the arterial puncture can be a whole other ballgame.

It's there in the name: It's an artery. Therefore, once opened, the vino flows quite freely, Fortunately, it's a small puncture wound, but that does not stop blood from flowing quickly, no matter how prepared one is for the patching of it. I have to daub at the arterial site with dry medical wipes and hope that the flow slows long enough for me to apply a clear spot, but sometimes a clear spot just isn't enough and I have to cover the blood-soaked clear spot with the more aggressive and stretchy Band-Aid Water Block Tough Strips. As the name clearly states, these are durable items that stretch to allow the user to regulate the needed tightness of binding, in effect serving as a first aid answer to duct tape, and being perfect as a patch for an arterial site puncture.

I had this on my mind because I just got through changing out today's bandages (applied by the mighty Shaunda), and it was not a pretty site. If I had not gotten quite skilled at this procedure over the past several months, my bathroom's surfaces would have ended up looking like a minor crime scene, and even with my relative adeptness, there was still a decent amount of sanguinary cleanup required. But my stretchy medical duct tape is in place and all is right in the land.

 

Sunday, August 22, 2021

THE STREET FIGHTER'S LAST REVENGE (1974)

Sonny Chiba as Takuma Tsurugi returns for one final bout of karate mayhem.

I first saw THE STREET FIGHTER'S LAST REVENGE with the American dub, which involves intrigue surrounding factions warring over two tapes containing a valuable formula for synthetic heroin. What I did not know at the time was that the U.S. dub had been edited to remove some of the gore — in the Japanese version, Chiba rips a guy's heart out, which could have garnered an X — the order of some scenes had been rearranged, and that the plot about heroin was added by the American distributors, completely altering the Japanese version's story. The fuckery with the American version forced the film to make little or no sense, and I hated it when I saw that version in the '90's.

Then, a few years ago, one of my favorite "grey market" online video stores began selling a set of all three Street Fighter movies, uncut and with the option of watching them with English dubs or in Japanese with subtitles. I snagged the set and watched all of the films in Japanese for the first time, and the native language made a big difference in re-experiencing them. In the case of THE STREET FIGHTER'S LAST REVENGE, seeing the original version completely reversed my opinion on the the film, and watching it again yesterday cemented its place in my head as my favorite of the sequels, as the liveliness of the first film returns somewhat. It's not as savage as the first installment, but it's a solid chopsocky actioner. So, for my one-man Sonny Chiba memorial wake, I  re-watched all of the Street Fighter movies, and this time I've finally made peace with RETURN OF THE STREET FIGHTER. It's mediocre, yes, but overall it has its moments, is entertaining enough to sit through, and Chiba is excellent while in what he must have known was just a "meh" sequel. THE STREET FIGHTER'S LAST REVENGE, however...

The story is solid, with Chiba's character staying more or less his usual asshole self, only having upped his game into the realms of a 1960's spy boom hero for this third outing. He's still a mercenary jobber for assorted underworld interests, but now he utilizes MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE-style masks as disguises and has a slick, James Bondian apartment.

Tsurugi fights for the film's Mcguffin,  a tape containing a confession worth killing for.

This time around, Tsurugi is hired to break out a criminal who's about to be interrogated by the police. That daring and clever breakout places and unwitting Tsurugi in the middle of two factions who seek to obtain a tape containing a damaging political confession. (The heroin plot found in the American dub has absolutely nothing to do with what was going on in the Japanese original.) Though Tsurugi delivers on the jobs he is paid for, he is double-crossed by his employers over and over again, and as we have previously seen, he is not a man to take being fucked-over lightly...

There's more mayhem in this one than in RETURN OF THE STREET FIGHTER, and the film moves at a lively pace. It's replete with karate fights, and the legendary Etsuko Shihomi (SISTER STREET FIGHTER, DRAGON PRINCESS, THE YOUNG ARISTOCRATS, MAKI'S 13 STEPS) pops up as a young but skilled Chinese karate fighter for hire. 

Tsurugi cops a cheap feel off of Etsuko Shihomi.

There's also Reiko Ike as an underworld seductress, and she is by far the most memorable and well-developed female character in the entire trilogy. A Flemingesque avaricious viper with a hot pussy who will shift alliances in a nano-second, as long as her shenanigans will make her rich.

Tsurugi cozies up to Reiko Ike during a romantic ride though a carwash.

THE STREET FIGHTER'S LAST REVENGE would almost be on par with the original if it had more blood and overall viciousness. What nastiness it dies have is fun, though, and there's Mister Black, a ludicrous American character who's another of the seemingly endless legion of martial arts thugs for hire, only this guy runs around in full-on Mexican attire, complete with huge sombrero. 

  Mister Black: the Frito Bandito with laser fingers.

He claims to possess psychic superpowers that allow him to cut through wood and metal, so our anti-hero must somehow contend with a man with laser fingers. Tsurugi has a couple of encounters sombrero man and susses out the source of his alleged superpower, with their final set-to occurring in a crematorium, where Tsurugi lures the guy into a coffin-style box that sends him straight into the the crematorium's incinerator while the guy was very much alive. His screams as he's dispatched into the incinerator and he realizes what's about to happen to him are horrifying.

Anyway, none of the several bad guys who fuck Tsurugi over during the course of the story make it out alive, and all meet terrible fates. in short, THE STREET FIGHTER'S LAST REVENGE does not disappoint, is flat-out the best of the sequels, and is a good installment with which to end the series. Personally, I would have loved to see more of Takuma Tsurugi adventures, perhaps even one where he meets his inevitable and nasty fate, but Sonny Chiba chose to move on and play other types of characters. Good on him, but his Takuma Tsurugi is indelible, and he is among my Top 5 martial arts movie protagonists.

Bottom line: THE STREET FIGHTER'S LAST REVENGE in its Japanese version is simply terrific and absolutely worth your time.

R.I.P, Sonny Chiba, dead at age 82, felled by the global scourge that is COVID-19. Thank you for entertaining us for so many years, and for being an all-around badass and sweet human being. You will not be forgotten.

Poster for the Japanese theatrical release.


RETURN OF THE STREET FIGHTER (1974)

The legendary Sonny Chiba returns as Takuma Tsurugi, once more facing off against rat bastard mafia scumbags. (Not that Tsurugi is himself any kind of a nice guy, but whatever...)

The international plague of COVID-19 continues its inexorable march, and just the other day it took one of the legends of martial arts cinema. Yes, COVID-19 felled the mighty Sonny Chiba ate age 82, and now the legendary Street Fighter fights no more. Upon hearing the news, I was devastated, so, in Chiba's honor, I watched a triple-feature of the Street Fighter series as an impromptu wake for the martial artist/actor who had so thoroughly entertained me for nearly forty years. My thoughts on THE STREET FIGHTER, the landmark 1974 Japanese answer to ENTER THE DRAGON that was reportedly the first film to be award an X-rating for violence rather than sexual content when released in the United States, can be found here, so let's go over the first of its sequels.

Released a swift three months after its predecessor, RETURN OF THE STREET FIGHTER, though better than I usually give it credit for, is a tepid confection indeed when stacked against the masterpiece that preceded it. The plots beats are virtually the same as those in the first film — Takuma Tsurugi engages in assorted violent mayhem before being hired for a Mafia job his code of honor will not let him accept, so he fucks over those who hired him and spends the rest of the movie decimating those they send against him in retaliation for his betrayal ; we also get a montage of Tsurugi's rigorous training, and he's stuck with a goofy Okinawan sidekick (Yoko Ichiji), only this time the sidekick is a young woman — with the proceedings padded out with reuse of the flashback about his fathers execution during WWII (and his father's memorable advice to him as a child) and bits of business from the Seikubon dojo sequence and fight against Grandmaster Masaoka (Masafumi Suzuki). And though he was quite decisively killed by having his throat manually and gorily ripped out by Tsuguri at the end of THE STREET FIGHTER, vengeance-seeking Masashi Ishibashi as Shikenbaru ("Junjo" in the U.s. dub of both THE STREET FIGHTER and this sequel) returns (complete with flashback footage of their last encounter at the previous film's climax, further padding things out), seemingly from the dead, to once more engage with Tsurugi, only this time somehow equipped with bionic vocal chords. Oooookaaaay... (Shikenbaru notably ends up suffering the same electrified fate as Oddjob in the 1964 James Bond classic, GOLDFINGER.)

Having seen the classic original, watching RETURN OF THE STREET FIGHTER is a textbook case of the filmmakers playing it safe and just more or less giving the audience the same film again, only this time with the gore and flagrant brutality considerably neutered. Though there are plenty of fun karate fights throughout, they are neither as lively nor as creative as those found in the first film, and the climax is very much a rehash of the first film's, with Tsurugi making mulch of dozens of opponets, though this time in a building instead of on a rain-swept oil tanker. That said, there is a memorable bit where Tsurugi inexplicably finds himself atop a snowy ski slope where he is attacked by two weapons-wielding assailants that he makes short work of, with the coup de grace being him slugging a guy so hard in the back of the head that he knocks the bastard's eyeballs out of their sockets. 

                                                             An eye-popping encounter.

That moment lives up to the glory of the initial installment, but it's diamond found in one's truck stop sushi. Nonetheless, an acceptable and entertaining way to spend 85 minutes.

Extra points for the superb foley work. The numerous slaps, crunches, and squish noises greatly enhance the fight scenes.

Poster for the Japanese theatrical release.

Poster for the U.S. theatrical release.

 

Thursday, August 19, 2021

THE STREET FIGHTER FIGHTS NO MORE

Requiescat en pace to the martial arts cinema icon Sonny Chiba, taken from us by the scourge of COVID-19 at age 82. His THE STREET FIGHTER (1974) was reportedly the first film to earn an MPAA rating of X for violence rather than sexual content, and it remains my favorite karate/martial arts film that takes place in the then-present day. If you have never seen it, I cannot recommend it enough.

From 2015, here's the raw footage of yours truly expounding on THE STREET FIGHTER and its meaning for and impact upon me personally, minus script and on the floor at a now-defunct Park Slope comics shop. (special thanks to Bill Scurry)


Saturday, August 07, 2021

THURSDAY NIGHT BURLY Q AT FREDDY'S

My dear friend Tracey bar-tends at Freddy's, a local bar here in Brooklyn, and every Thirsday night they stage a burlesque show featuring local talent. Here's a taste. Our performer seen here is the one and only Kita St. Cyr.