Friday, April 20, 2012

75 Years of George Takei

Happy Dodranscentennial to one of my favorite people!

The Client List

After the events of yesterday, what Becca and I really needed was to get lost in something silly and blow off some steam. We ended up watching the first two episodes of what I keep calling Handjob: The Series, based on the Lifetime movie that aired a year or two ago, which I also watched for basically the same reason: it looked like silly, funny, fluffy trash that we could make fun of and enjoy and because I still find Jennifer Love Hewitt completely adorable and sexy. The TV show follows the same story, but focuses more on Hewitt's character, who finds herself taking a "massage with extras" position after her husband runs out on her. It's actually not a bad show, it's just... well, it's what it looks like and not much more than that. But it took me out of my grief last night and honestly I was kind of disappointed I only had the two episodes to watch.

I'll honestly keep watching this until it's canceled. It's magnificently silly, and J. Love is sympathetic instead of showing off. In the first episode, she uses the handjob hooker magic of listening and eye contact to fix the marriage of one of her clients. In the second episode, a client helps her understand that you can be alone and still be satisfied with your life. It's obvious that they're going to try to push her and her sexy brother-in-law into each other's arms--nothing on this show is remotely subtle--but I think this whole idea of her stroke-off clients being an avenue for her to learn and teach is hilariously fun. I can't wait for the show to jump the shark and have J. Love get involved in political intrigue because of a client. It's a ridiculous show, but very cute.

As long as it keeps being funny, silly, and keeps up the constant flow of cheesecake, I'll keep watching it. There's always room for trashy TV in my life.

I'll Rotoscope Your Soul!

Thank You, Everyone

For your best wishes, your condolences, your poems, your memories. They really helped me keep it together last night. It's going to be hard for a little while. Becca is especially hard hit. I woke up this morning and looked to his cage to see if he was still asleep or not, and I still expect him to rush around the corner at any moment. The whole apartment feels emptier.

I know it won't always hurt. It just hurts right now.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Saying Goodbye

Today is my bunny's last day.

Seven years ago, I didn't want to get a pet. Not at all. In large part, it was because I knew the day would come when we'd have to say goodbye forever, as I had with every other pet, and the last thing I wanted was to go through it again. Since 2000, I had lost my grandmother, an uncle, three aunts, and I was about to lose my sister, who was still going through chemotherapy at the time... I felt like letting something else into my heart and losing it later would be too much.

Becca was adamant. She actually wanted a guinea pig. But when we went to the pet store and saw Thumper waiting for someone to adopt him, we both knew we had to give him a good home. He was so sad and scared, and his previous owners had kept him locked in a cage all day on newspapers--he was stained on his feet and his underside from urine and newsprint. When we saw his name was Thumper, Becca felt that was a sign we should take him in--Bambi is one of my two favorite movies.

Thumper was called that because he thumped his foot. A lot. If he was unhappy about anything, he'd let you know. Repeatedly. Sometimes he'd wake us up in the middle of the night with it because something displeased him. He was always afraid of the dark, especially when thunderstorms got bad, and he'd have to wake everyone up until he felt reasonably reassured.

He was always aloof with us. He didn't like to be held, ever. I don't know what his previous family was like, but he could be aggressive and stubborn and for seven years he shied away from a lot of contact. If he really wanted to be petted, he'd come over and sit down next to you and put his head down so you could. But if he didn't want to be, he had no problem walking away and sitting somewhere else.

Not that he didn't love contact and being around us, because he did. If you stood up at all, it was time to play. He'd pick up one of his soft toys and gallop around with it, circling you over and over, running around the living room. He loved to explore and get places he shouldn't, like behind the bed. When the heat was too high for him, he'd go sleep in the bathroom all day, stretching out on the tile alongside the cool bathtub or toilet--he liked the toilet better because he could hide behind it. No one picking him up then.

It's remarkable how quickly you can see when a rabbit passes certain age levels. When we adopted him he was just a year and a half old. He was a playful, immature bunny. When he reached maturity and became an adult, it seemed to happen just overnight. Suddenly he was a new bunny, more aggressive, but still very loving. And when he became elderly, that happened suddenly, too. Even a year ago when he had the surgery to fix his overgrown teeth he was old. Older than I guess I realized.

Now, Thumper's very ill. It started as an irritation in his foot. He was starting to pick up his left forepaw more often, then babying it, then finally carrying it under him and not putting any weight on it. I was fooled into thinking that, because he was still running around and playing with his toys and his stuffed panda bear and eating normally, that he was just in a little discomfort. I started to look up advice online. Rabbit surgeries can be deadly, and if it was a dislocated shoulder or a broken toe, I didn't know what was better: trying to make him comfortable (because he was still running, playing, and eating normally) or trying to get him in for surgery.

When we took him to the vet two weeks (and two days) ago, he was still putting a little weight on his paw sometimes. Everything but that was normal. But you could see the way he carried his limb around under him was taking its toll on his hind legs, and he was starting to walk less steadily. The vet was actually surprised to see a rabbit as old as Thumper--she said she could count on one hand the amount of rabbits she'd seen that were over 6, and Thumper is just getting to be 9. She took x-rays of his left front and hind legs, and saw arthritis in the rear and a black spot over his toe in the front. She said it could either be a tumor or a break (even a bone just coming detached). She gave us some medicine and we took him home. Thumper started to lean against furniture and walls when he walked because he would fall over.

In the past two weeks we've had glimmers of hope, but nothing permanent. He's been in obvious pain at times. The strength has just left his body: he went from trying to walk, to standing and crawling sometimes, to finally not being able to stand at all. He even has trouble lifting his head now. He's also been eating less and less, and he's the thinnest I've ever seen him. He can't get to his litter, and he can't groom himself, so we've been gently bathing him. Where he never used to like being held before, now he can't get anywhere without us carrying him. We hold him a lot now. He doesn't hate it.

It's obvious he's not responding to the medicine. When we talked to the vet again on Tuesday, she told us that if he hadn't responded to the medicine by now--and he was declining so quickly--then what we saw on the x-ray was probably a tumor and not a break. She gave us two medicines, an anti-inflammatory and a painkiller, and both seemed to make him feel more comfortable, but that's all. She said it was possible that we could go and have blood tests done to see if he has cancer, but that she wouldn't recommend that path, because Thumper's 9 and, even if he does have a tumor, there's no guarantee they could do anything about it. He certainly can't have surgery; in his condition he probably wouldn't survive it.

What we do know for certain is that he's deteriorating. He can't lift his body up. He can't groom himself. He can barely feed himself, and he eats maybe a third of what he was eating just a month ago. He can't lift his head up for very long to drink from his water bottle; we have to hold it in place for him. He's losing weight. His quality of life has diminished to the rabbit equivalent of being bedridden, and it's done so very rapidly.

So we made the decision to have him put to sleep. Because if not, he's going to starve to death, and I don't want him to be in that kind of pain. He's in pain now, and I want that to end. There are times when he seems so alert and so engaged that I think it must all be some kind of mistake... but then I hold him and I can feel his ribs and he weighs less than ever, and I know it's not. He's at the end of his life. So this is the humane decision to make, so he can stop hurting and die in peace. I will be there until the very end this afternoon, because you don't let an animal who has meant so much to you die surrounded by strangers. After that, we're going to take him to Becca's mother's farm nearby and bury him with his stuffed panda and his blanket. His body will lie in a place where there are lots of other rabbits running around. You know I'm not a spiritual person, but that still makes me feel okay.

It's hard making this decision. I want to do what's right for him, but I've never had to be the one to decide this. All of my pets have either died or run away, or where taken when I wasn't there. I've never had to decide to end a pet's life before, and to be there when it's done. I have to admit, even at age 35, I don't really feel mature enough to make this decision. All I'm feeling right now is grief and sadness. Exactly how I knew I'd feel one day when, seven years ago, Becca wanted a pet.

Still, I'd never trade having had Thumper in our loves to save myself this grief. He's been a wonderful part of this family. I can't even imagine this apartment without him being in it. When I was a little kid, all I wanted was a lop-eared bunny. And one day I adopted one. And I've loved it. I'm happy he's been here.

I love him so much. It feels unfair to have to say goodbye now. I'm not ready yet. But we're never ready to say goodbye.

Last night I just held him in my arms and stroked him, and he licked my arm and cuddled against me. Even knowing it was his last night, it made me incredibly happy.

Thank you for making me happy, Thumper. I hope I've made you happy, too.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

I've never seen one of the Leprechaun movies before. This one was streaming on Netflix, so we just watched it and... well, I can't say I'm sorry I saw it, because some of the intentionally campy bits are actually really hilarious and Warwick Davis is funny as hell and never winks at the audience, so his commitment to playing this evil leprechaun actually works. But overall it just felt like not enough Leprechaun and too much hood, because I ultimately didn't care about the kids trying to make it as rappers (one of whom is Anthony Montgomery from Enterprise) as much as I was enjoying watching the Leprechaun just do his thing. Ice-T is amusing as a pimp/record mogul. *1/2, but recommended if you're hellbent on sitting with an example of late-90s grade Z.

One of the new Hammer offerings. It's a middling thriller about a building landlord (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who stalks and spies on his new tenant (Hilary Swank). I dunno, I was totally rooting for Jeffrey Dean Morgan the whole time. Maybe because he's the only one here with a personality (and barely at that). Nice to have Christopher Lee cameo in the first new Hammer movie, even though he's barely in it and doesn't get a lot to say. Good set design, suitably creepy, but kind of like a warmed-over, less-exciting version of Pacific Heights, which really isn't a good movie to start with. **1/2

WAKE WOOD (2011)
Another new Hammer movie, and definitely their worst film since they revived. Predictable claptrap about a couple who resurrect their dead daughter in order to say goodbye to her, but who comes back... evil or something... for no actual explained reason. There's a bizarre streak of cruelty and animal violence in this flick; I felt like it was totally ineffectual and yet despised me and wanted to hurt me at the same time. No stars.

Opinions seem to vary on the effectiveness or originality of this very meta horror thriller, but I have to say I'm really glad I got to see it at the cinema and without having it spoiled for me, because I found it surprising and very easy to enjoy. Yes, it's a smart movie that comments on all manner of genre aspects, including the one-dimensionality of the victims in slasher movies, the expectations of the audience, the weariness of genre filmmakers with the limitations of horror movies imposed by commercial expectations, and even the whole idea of the Male Gaze in horror movies. And then it gets heady, positing the idea of horror movies as a modern replacement for the dim past of ritualized sacrifice. But it never gets smug about the whole thing; at its heart, it's a slasher flick with a clever gimmick, great special effects, and likable actors. But in practice, it begins as a cliche and builds into one of the most original horror films I've seen in a very long time. ****

Ugh. Three mind-destroyingly boring white guys (Jason Bateman, Charlie O'Day, Jason Sudeikis--seriously, Sudeikis, why leave SNL at all if your bright future includes making movies like this and the even-worse Hall Pass?) are stuck in bad positions with their bosses and decide to kill them. The bosses are cliches played to varying degrees of who the hell cares by Kevin Spacey (basically reprising what he does in the far superior Swimming with Sharks), Colin Farrell (because someone has vastly overrated his ability to be funny), and Jennifer Aniston (embarrassing). Pointless filler with nary a laugh to be found. * I especially found the whole Jennifer Aniston thing to be insulting; apparently the writers felt the only way a woman boss could be horrible is to be an emasculating maneater who sexually harasses you all the time, leading to a lot of uncomfortable scenes with Aniston that just feel forced, like the idea of Jennifer Aniston even playing this character is supposed to be funny. Hollywood seriously needs to stop pretending she's capable of comedy. Also, I've worked for a lot of women bosses, and the bad ones were bad for most of the same reasons bad male bosses are bad. Not that this movie has a realistic idea in its head. (Also, I found it insulting that the male bosses were called by their last names and she was always referred to as "Julia.") Bad movies give you lots of time to think about other things...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Last Shuttles

The Space Shuttle Discovery being transported to its new home at the Smithsonian. I believe this places all four remaining Shuttles in museums (except for the Atlantis, which is basically a monument at Kennedy Space Center).

It's a great image; it feels like the end of an era that went on for far too long. How strange to think we were still heading into space inside the best late-1970s design had to offer. We really should've replaced these long ago. We've not really spent much on our space exploration. Still hoping for the next giant leap.

Monday, April 16, 2012

"It's a jumpsuit. My grandfather in Florida wears them all the time because he's too lazy to put on pants."

This weekend I started what's basically become my annual re-viewing of the entirety of Freaks and Geeks, my second favorite TV series ever. So I was pretty thrilled to accidentally discover today that the AV Club did a feature last week where, in five parts, they did a walkthrough of the entire series with creator Paul Feig. Pretty good stuff; if you're a fan and you haven't checked it out yet, do so. The first part is here.

How Much Would You Pay for the Universe?


Kristen Bell Mondays

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Song of the Week: "Faust"

From one of my all time favorite flicks, Phantom of the Paradise, whose star, William Finley, passed on yesterday. Excellent Paul Williams soundtrack to this Brian De Palma flick.