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Saturday, June 10, 2023


I went out to pick up my latest prescriptions and found a Pride-themed street fair in full, colorful swing. While wandering among the throng, I heard my name called out by a familiar voice. It was old friend/family member Sara, with her husband Pat and their daughter, my niece Jackie. Jackie is currently in her tweens and is a bright and voracious reader who has discovered young adult literature.

During our conversation about books at a block party a week ago, I told Jackie she would probably enjoy reading Anthony Burgess's A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Kids her age have no idea what that infamous book (or movie) is, so I related the basics of the story to her. She was very intrigued, so I ran the idea of me giving her one of my copies of it by her parents. (I have several, each rescued after being left out on stoops around the neighborhood). Sara and Pat were totally cool with it, with Pat being particularly pumped at the idea, so I promised to have Jackie's copy with me when next we met. Well, today's unexpected encounter happened right around the corner from my apartment, so I hustled upstairs and grabbed Jackie her copy.

Instead of the common movie edition with the florescent orange cover, I gave her the paperback of an early pre-movie edition. Unfortunately it's not the version that features the final chapter that was not adapted for film, but it does feature the slang glossary in the back, which will make parsing the Nadsat language that dominates the novel that much easier. Which is not to say that Jackie isn't more than bright enough to catch on quickly, because she absolutely is.

Anyway, this is the cover for the edition that she now owns, and I told her to get back to me with her thoughts when she's finished reading it.

Tuesday, June 06, 2023



What is your favorite James Bond film, and why?

I've been on the 007 bandwagon since age 9, when I saw GOLDFINGER on the ABC Sunday Night Movie, back in the pre-cable era when periodic screenings of the Bond films on ABC were a special event, so I have watched the series progress for almost five decades. (My first Bond was seeing DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER at a drive-in with my parents when I was six. The only part that I remember from that viewing was the bit with the moon buggy. Other than that, I believe I slept through everything else.) My tastes in Bond adventures was defined by the Connery era, the first five films specifically (DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER was Connery's return after George Lazenby's one-shot and excellent ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, by which time Connery clearly no longer gave a shit), and during those early entries was when the formula was finding its way. Bond as we know it now was really codified with the trifecta of GOLDFINGER (1964), THUNDERBALL (1965), and YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967), in which the franchise's tropes of lavish spectacle, dad jokes, outlandish gadgets, ludicrous femme fatale names, travelogue thrills, and nonsense that veered into outright fantasy/science-fiction were carved in stone, with what amounted to remaking GOLDFINGER over and over for decades being the result and becoming a worldwide cultural institution in the process.

Most fans love the more outrageous, over-the-top entries, but I prefer the more down-and-dirty, grounded flavor of Cold War espionage, and for me no other film in the series is as pure in that department as 1963's FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. Hewing closely to Ian Fleming's novel, it's a taut thriller that will surprise modern viewers with its relative realism, and that, coupled with Connery's finest turn as 007, is why I rank it as the best of the series. It was cold-blooded spyjinx with zero fills and gewgaws, just before the franchise took a hard left into self-parody. Prior to the Daniel Craig era, the only 007 flicks that hold the same appeal to me are ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE and LICENSE TO KILL, so make what you will of that opinion. If you have never seen FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, perhaps dissuaded by its vintage, I urge you to give it a watch. It's like getting hit in the face with a bucket of ice water.

So, what's your favorite and why? Please feel free to elucidate at length in the comments section. 

Seriously, folks, they may have gotten bigger, but never better.

Friday, June 02, 2023


As today's dialysis session was ending, I received a phone call from Mount Sinai's kidney transplant department. It recently made the news that the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network board has prohibited use of an antiquated kidney function test that can overestimate kidney function in Black patients, which masks the severity of their kidney disease and results in late diagnosis and delayed transplant referrals. Consequently, in what experts are calling an unprecedented move to correct racial inequity in access to kidney transplants, the board recently approved a waiting time adjustment for Black transplant candidates. The call from Mount Sinai was to alert me to my status being re-assessed, so my current projected time is somewhere around four years. They're going to send me documents outlining things in more detail, but rather than getting psyched over this news, I just let out a groan. When this journey began, I was repeatedly told that the average wait time for African-American transplant patients was between three to seven years, and I will have been undergoing dialysis for three solid years as of this coming August. Today's news basically told me that I can expect four more years of thrice-weekly treatment. Four. More. Years.

I will read the upcoming documents in detail when they arrive, just to make sure I am not mis-understanding anything, but the concrete prospect of four more years in limbo just kicked me right in the skull.


Thursday, June 01, 2023



One more dialysis session for the week, starting tomorrow morning, and I am counting down the hours until it ends and I can come back home. I'm not feeling sleepy yet and I have to be up at 7:45am, so I have no idea what time I will finally crash or if I will be able to sleep. I'm just too wound up. It's times like this when I wish I were still stupid enough to indulge in a strong edible chased with a fistful of Gabapentin. The resulting effect found me slowly drifting off to the dreamscape, and once I was fully under, my dreams looked like a live-action iteration of Pepperland from YELLOW SUBMARINE. The sleep was deep and it would last for nine hours or more, and when I woke I would still feel like I was existing in another, happier dimension. 

I wouldn't do it now, but I would be lying if I said the temptation to just check out wasn't occasionally there.



While going through the nearly 9000 digital photos on two laptops, I am reminded that my life used to be both a lot of fun and creatively enriching. Looking into that rollicking past occasionally makes me wistful, but the underlying point of all of this is to remind myself that when I finally make it through the ordeal of late stage kidney failure treatment and the eventual kidney transplant, once I convalesce, I can actively strive to reclaim my joie de vivre. As of right now I am a few weeks shy of turning 58, so I'm not that old, not really, and plenty of people have rediscovered/revivified themselves even later in life, so here's to an impending rebirth and creative surge! HOKUTO SHINKEN WA MUTEKI DA!!!