Monthly Archives: November 2010

Goals For 2011: Television

I haven’t ever had cable since moving out on my own, meaning I easily miss TV shows and fail to follow them.  It usually takes a friend, usually my media studies degree touting buddy Suze, to get my ass motivated to check out a new series.

That said, there’s this endless list of shows in a memo in my Blackberry that I never get around to, so I’ve decided that while I’m throwing down on books and movies, I may as well throw down on TV.  Ladies and gentlemen:  a list of TV series I am determined to either catch up on or actually try out by the end of 2011!

Series To Catch Up On/Finish

Dexter Finished Season 2
CSI Mid-Season 2, Plus Misc Further Episodes
The Big Bang Theory Mid-Season 2
South Park End of Season 13
Angel Mid-Season 2
Dollhouse Early Season 1
Heroes Near End Of Season 3
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Finished Season 2
The Venture Brothers Finished Season 2
Robot Chicken Finished Season 2

Series To Watch/Try

Battlestar Galactica (I’ll try it again; I only got 45 minutes into the minseries and wanted to commit suicide of boredom, but Suze and the fiance are very mad at me for this)
Nurse Jackie
True Blood
United States of Tara
The Mentalist
The Walking Dead
Criminal Minds

Before anyone says it:  I KNOW.  Like I said, no cable and broke to boot.  I don’t have the cash to rent/buy DVDs and I’m lazy about downloading.  AND NO SPOILERS!!!

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Goals For 2011: Literature

I posted over on my fanfiction blog about Banned Books Week and the list released of the 100 most challenged books in the United States in schools etc.  I decided, out of spite, to try and read as many of them as possible for fun.  Transferring that list here to keep my goals tidy, may I present the list of most challenged books of the last decade.

Books I’ve read are in bold.

The Top 100 Banned Books of 2000-2009

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Myracle, Lauren
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffin, by Lois Duncan
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, by George Beard
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry

76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77. Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96. Grendel, by John Gardner
97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
100. America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank

This list and its progress will also be tracked via a page on the upper header of the blog.  Join me, if you’re so inclined!  Fuck censorship!

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Goals For 2011: Cinema

I often find myself in a rut with the films I watch, never mind books and TV shows.  I simply spend more time writing and reading articles online than anything else.  However, I really want to catch up on various forms of media, aside from my music obsession, and thus, I’m laying down a few goals to be completed before the end of next year.

First Goal:  Watch Quentin Tarantino’s Top Twenty List

Quentin Tarantino, one of the best directors ever to be gifted to our world, made a list recently of the top twenty films released since he became a film maker.  Granted, this excludes the last year, which brought Inception, a film that strikes me as a Tarantino taste, but it’s pretty epic.  I’ve bolded the ones I’ve already seen.  I also reserve the right to stop watching any of these part-way through if I hate them.

Battle Royale
Anything Else
Boogie Nights
Dazed & Confused
Fight Club
The Host
The Insider
Joint Security Area
Lost In Translation
The Matrix
Memories of Murder
Police Story 3
Shaun of the Dead
Team America

Total Seen At Start:  9/20

Already, you can see some flicks on here that probably seem to be glaring omissions for someone with discerning tastes (Lost In Translation).  I have to confess:  I hate Scarlett Johansson and thus, have avoided that movie like the plague.  But I’ve made a nice dent in these, and look forward to the Japanese and Korean goodies.

Second Goal:  Attempt To Watch As Many Of IMDB’s Top 250 List As Possible

This will be a tedious chore, namely because I am already screaming bloody murder at how poor most people’s tastes are (Avatar over Donnie Darko?  ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?!) and how if a tiny group all rate a film high, it gets to coast up the list.  But a friend of an ex did this once when unemployed (he stuck to the top 100) and found it enlightening and challenging, so I figure it’ll be fun.  I don’t expect to see them all, due to age/availability/sheer number, but let’s see what I can do.

Movies in bold are ones I have seen and can at least tell you the gist of them; movies in red are movies I know I saw as a kid (you can tell what my dad liked by these) but barely remember them.  I plan to eventually rewatch those, but they’re low priority.

The Shawshank Redemption
The Godfather
The Godfather Part II
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
Pulp Fiction
Schindler’s List
12 Angry Men
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
The Dark Knight
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
Seven Samurai
Star Wars: A New Hope
Fight Club
City of God
The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring
Rear Window
Toy Story 3
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Once Upon A Time In the West
The Usual Suspects
The Matrix
The Silence of the Lambs
It’s A Wonderful Life
The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
Sunset Blvd
Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Forrest Gump
Leon: The Professional
Citizen Kane
Apocalypse Now
North By Northwest
American Beauty *due to strong objections to a plot point, I will not watch this film*
American History X
Taxi Driver
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Saving Private Ryan
Lawrence of Arabia
The Shining
Spirited Away
Paths of Glory

A Clockwork Orange
To Kill A Mockingbird
The Pianist
Double Indemnity
The Lives of Others
The Departed
City Lights
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Requiem For A Dream
Das Boot
The Third Man
LA Confidential
Resevoir Dogs
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Modern Times
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Life is Beautiful
Back To The Future
Pan’s Labyrinth
The Prestige
Raging Bull
Singin’ In The Rain
Nuovo Cinema Paradiso
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Some Like It Hot
All About Eve
Once Upon A Time In America
2001: A Space Odyssey
Inglorious Bastards
The Green Mile
Full Metal Jacket
The Great Dictator
The Apartment
Bicycle Thieves
Gran Torino
The Maltese Falcon
The Sting
The Elephant Man
Sin City
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington
On the Waterfront
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
The Great Escape
Die Hard
Batman Begins
Slumdog Millionaire
Hotel Rwanda
The Seventh Seal
Blade Runner
No Country For Old Men
Touch of Evil
The Wizard of Oz
The General
For A Few Dollars More
District 9
The Social Network
The Sixth Sense
Donnie Darko
Annie Hall
The Deer Hunter
Cool Hand Luke
Strangers On A Train
Witness For The Prosecution
High Noon
The Big Lebowski
Kill Bill Vol 1
Hotaru no haka
It Happened One Night
The Lion King
There Will Be Blood
Into The Wild
Million Dollar Baby
Toy Story
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Gone With the Wind
The Wrestler
The Big Sleep
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
The Graduate
Groundhog Day
Life of Brian
The Grapes of Wrath
The Bourne Ultimatum
Finding Nemo
Amores perros
The Gold Rush
The Terminator
Stand By Me
How To Train Your Dragon
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
The Thing
The Best Years of Our Lives
V For Vendetta
Twelve Monkeys
Dog Day Afternoon
The Kid
The Secret in Their Eyes
Star Trek (2009)
The Wages of Fear
Les diaboliques
8 1/2
The Night of the Hunter
The Princess Bride
Judgment at Nuremberg
The Incredibles
The Hustler
Tonari no Totoro
The Killing
In Bruges
The Wild Bunch
Good Will Hunting
The Exorcist
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
A Streetcar Named Desire
Children of Men
The 400 Blows
La strada
Stalag 17
Ed Wood
Dial M For Murder
The Battle of Algeria
Let The Right One In
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Big Fish
Kind Hearts and Coronets
All Quiet on the Western Front
Mystic River
Rosemary’s Baby
Kill Bill Vol 2
Duck Soup
Barry Lyndon
The Passion of Joan of Arc
Fanny and Alexander
Letters From Iwo Jima
Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
Infernal Affairs
Mary and Max
The Truman Show
Roman Holiday
In the Mood for Love
Nights of Cabiria
Crash (2004)
Howl’s Moving Castle
King Kong (1933)
His Girl Friday
Arsenic and Old Lace
The Philadelphia Story
Three Colours: Red
A Christmas Story
Monsters, Inc
Toy Story 2
Mulholland Dr
Shadow of a Doubt
The Nightmare Before Christmas
The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance


Like I said, I’m under no illusions I can finish all of these on top of other goals, but I’d like to take a shot.  American Beauty, for personal reasons, is a movie I cannot watch.  I’m not going to elaborate on why, but trust me, it’s a good reason.

Coming Shortly:  my reading list and TV show catch-up goals!  All of these lists will be linked to a page tab at the top of the blog, and updated with my progress.

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The Elusive Unicorn

As I stumble through the blustery winter winds, it occurs to me tonight, while nursing yet another sickness (throat infection) that my immune system is anything but immune.  It’s never reliable, never resilient, and part of me wonder why I even bother attributing one to my body.

From my birth, when I emerged so ill that I nearly died and needed an incubator, I have been a sickly child.  Nothing in my body has ever quite worked properly, so much so that, to spare any dire errors if incapacitated, I have a full page of typed medical conditions and allergies wrapped around my health card.  For me, an immune system that works has been as elusive and mythical as a unicorn – although I sometimes believe the unicorn more likely to turn up in my apartment than good health.

I often wish I wasn’t utterly hopeless at advanced Physics and Chemistry, because I have quite a knack for diagnosing myself and others around me.  Having read a multi-volume medical health encyclopedia for fun at the age of 10, I’ve always been fascinated by the human body’s many potential failings.  I’ve self-diagnosed a few key ailments, correctly diagnosed a few close friends as well.  I’m usually everyone’s go-to girl for medical questions now, and I’m always happy to offer my knowledge and intuition up.

Maybe if I were a doctor, I wouldn’t be in the situation I find myself in now.

This isn’t the first time in my life where I have knocked on door after door, confident of something being wrong with my body and having my personal observations dismissed or disregarded, to my own detriment.  In 2006, I suddenly became extremely ill, having frightening episodes of shortness of breath and dizzy spells.  I could no longer handle short flights of stairs.  My heart would pound and I would feel as if I were dying.  I also had episodes of my face going numb, but that is a whole other matter.  At the same time, my long-existing stomach disorder (IBS) went nuts and stopped responding entirely to my daily medications, drugs that had worked for four years admirably well.  Over and over, I pointed out the stomach angle, only to have it chalked up to stress and get told to double my dose (for the record, it didn’t help).  They checked my lungs, my heart, and found nothing.  I wore a tedious heart monitor strapped to my waist even, and it made me homicidal.  A few months after giving up on the ‘anxiety attack’ touting doctors, I was stricken with the worst heartburn any human has suffered, for 7 straight days.  After initial exams and tests, I was diagnosed with GERD – chronic acid reflux.

I had a two year period of reflux at the age of 16.  My symptoms were consistent, and the excess acid fully explained my stomach’s poor reaction.  In fact, the doctor that finally solved my issues with another handy pill agreed that someone should have clued in from the start.  Thanks, medicine.  I was told I had ‘marked scarring’ of my esophagus, but ‘luckily, no sign of cancer’.  It was that dire.

Almost four years ago, I injured my right ankle severely and, like every other joint injury I sustain, it refused to fully heal.  Again, numerous specialists and physiotherapists prodded and poked at me, with wonderful theories and no real answers.  I have a family riddled with arthrtis, so they tested me for a marker known as antinuclear antibody.  It’s basically a generic red flag for autoimmune disorders, ranging from rheumatoid arthritis to lupus.  I came up as a weak positive, and was sent to a rheumatologist, completely unsurprised by this prospect.  A retest and more in-depth blood work came up negative, and in spite of my symptoms, family history and the rate of false results, I was shooed out the door for taking up said specialist’s precious time and continued to live in pain.

For the last year, I have insisted that my body just isn’t right.  Being unlucky and clumsy as hell, I have injured and now suffer chronic pain in my left knee, right ankle, right hip, lower back, left shoulder and arm and my neck.  Each ailment flares up and down at random, no rhyme or reason.  Physiotherapy doesn’t do shit beyond a certain ‘almost okay’ level.  I can’t take daily anti-inflammatories because of my stomach, leaving me with a developed tolerance for aching.

Puts a serious damper on my love for general admission concerts, lemme tell ya.

I found a new family doctor this summer, a rarity in my city due to its population and the lack of available physicians.  In my first interview, she takes a look at my plethora of symptoms and promptly asks if anyone has ever mentioned ‘Crest’.  Confused about the relevance of toothpaste, I ask her to explain.  Seems there’s an autoimmune disorder out there called Limited Scleroderma, or CREST syndrome (the acronym doles out the five core symptoms).  We review them and I go home, shaking and realizing I have four of five.  My respiratory health has taken a sharp decline without explanation; CREST can create blockages in the lungsm reducing capacity.  Reflux?  CREST causes that too, due to abnormalities in the body tissues.  Spider veins?  Check.  Raynaud’s Phenomenon, an affliction of the hands and fingers where cold sends all circulation running away and leaves them white and icy, is a problem I’ve had since my teens. But it’s the joint issues, where CREST creates pressure due to abnormal collagen, that should have screamed out to someone I saw:  multiple GPs, two rheumatologists, three physiotherapists, and a gastroentologist.  New doctor retests me for that pesky antinuclear antibody:  it comes up positive.

I shake my head and sigh.  Three years ago, someone could have kept asking questions, could have tried to help me as I insisted something was wrong.  Instead, I was shoved out and ignored.  And now, if further tests prove it is indeed CREST that causes my issues, I have lung damage that might have been prevented, if my symptoms are an indication.

Fitting, it seems, that for a woman who’s never been able to develop a strong immune system against anything, even the flu, that an autoimmune disorder would crop up.

The moral of this blog, dear friends, is while armchair diagnosis often veers for the worst possible scenario (and the unlikeliest), knowing all of the possibilities and demanding answers for your questions can often keep doctors working for you, as opposed to working to get rid of you.  Never be passive about your health.  My grandparents were aggressive and still ignored, until the cancer they instinctively knew my grandfather had was terminal.

As for me, I’ll be fine, no matter what the next round of pokes and stabs and scans brings.  After spending so many years dealing with one problem after another, I can only do my best to stay comfortable and healthy.  This isn’t to say that an incurable and, at times, fatal disorder (or one that leads to emergency amputations of digits) isn’t a horrifying prospect; it is, and once in a while, I cry it out for a minute or two.  But until I know what is and isn’t wrong, all I can do is push for more information, now, immediately, yesterday.

And look for that damn unicorn.  Because I know it’s out there.

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