I’m All Right

I did something yesterday that I rarely do anymore … I listened to a Rod Stewart song. It was on the large iPod playlist that I use to try to escape the pains and boredom of exercising. The sound comes in loud and clear on the headphones as I drag my ancient corpus around the track at the Recreation Center.

Suddenly I was transported to the year 1971, the year that his third solo album came out. Mandolin Wind is the tune in question, which I find to be a delightful folk/rock song. Sometime soon after that the poor man had his operation and his music has never been the same.

What operation, you ask? Well, I answer, the one where he had his rock and roll glands removed, and which turned him into the schmalzmeister that he is today.

I think that it is informative to look at these two photos of the man, one from the early 70s (pre-op), and the other from 2012.

The pic on the left is of the rougher and sneer-ier young rocker, who wouldn’t have cared much what we thought about him. The one on the right is the nose-bobbed and gelded version who might be saying “Look at this swell suit I bought, just for you.”

But let’s listen to Mandolin Wind one more time and think back to a time when juices still flowed and hairdos cost less than $500, shall we?

Mandolin Wind, by Rod Stewart

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A Dick Guindon cartoon

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In anticipation of guests coming at Christmas we’ve been cooking up a few entrees and putting them in the freezer, trying to avoid the Grandma Jacobson syndrome, where the host spends most of the time in the kitchen doing meal preps, and then hovers at the periphery during the meal. “No, no, thanks, I’m all right … I’ll eat later,” was Grandma’s mantra.

Here’s a pic of Ida Jacobson and her husband Nels, taken around 1937. They were standing in their front yard, and that building you see on the right was the woodshed, where wood was chopped, tools were stored, and instruction was given when lessons on proper behavior were needed.

(Grandpa Nels was one of my heroes growing up, but for some reason in this photo he reminds me of a mobster in 1930s Chicago … think Tom Hanks in the movie Road To Perdition. I keep looking for the submachine gun.)

But to get back to being the host. Yesterday Robin and I put together what I think is a pretty decent lasagna, and froze it uncooked. The meat sauce, however, had to be cooked beforehand … and I nearly swooned while tasting it. (Those of you who hang around me know that I never come to a full swoon.) Starting with a recipe with the modest title of “World’s Best Lasagna” we weren’t quite sure what to expect, since the names of recipes online tend toward superlatives.

Whether or not it truly is the best lasagna recipe in the whole wide world, it’s about as much perfection as this country boy can handle. Anything more might bring on ecstasy and that could be the end of me.

I’m All Right, by Kenny Loggins

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Our second Christmas movie to re-watch this year was Elf. It’s all a bunch of warm-hearted mindless nonsense but we like it. Afterward I was thinking how well Will Ferrell plays the buffoon, and that there aren’t many around who do that as well as he does. Robin Williams was a great one, but who else remains? So many of our modern comedians’ personas are too cynical to make it work for them.

Because it’s no small feat to play a simpleton in a way that is acceptable to audiences. If he’s too stupid they groan. If he shows too many signs of intelligence then much of his cavorting becomes infuriating. Ferrell basically plays the same character that he did in skit after skit on Saturday Night Live. He has got the schtick down pat. A master.

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From The New Yorker

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When I am forced to seek medical care, for whatever reason, there is something that I dread almost as much as whatever problem brought me through the clinic door, and that is TMI*. Because I have a medical background, sometimes physicians feel compelled to tell me much more than I need or want to know.

Let me give you a case in point.

A couple of years ago I had a by-god stroke that instantly made it nearly impossible to speak and brought on an odd sort of confusion. Fortunately I was riding in a car with Robin (my hero) who made all the right decisions, got me transported to a hospital, and in the ER they gave me the good stuff that dissolved the clot and returned me to my normal state of disrepair.

Here’s where the TMI comes in. When the neurologist came by he couldn’t wait to show me my scans and before I could muster the energy to refuse he demonstrated:

  • Where the clot was, before and after dissolution. (Kind of … interesting.)
  • How many other narrow places there were in the blood vessels in that brain that could plug up in other interesting ways. (Kind of … urk.)
  • How much my brain had shrunk due to aging, leaving enough empty space for a whole new organ to be stored in there if I needed. (Kind of … sheesh.)
  • Evidence of an old stroke that I had sometime in the past, in the cerebellum, which had damaged a part of the system that deals with balance and coordination. I am abashed to admit that my balance and coordination have always been so lackluster that I actually hadn’t noticed much change. Just one more part of getting on, I thought. (Kind of … who knew?)

The neurologist was so pleased to show me all of these things that I was glad for his sake that he’d stopped by. Whenever I can brighten someone’s day I am always glad to do so.

*Too Much Information

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It’s 1:30 pm, the sun is shining, the temperature is 22 degrees, and Poco is out in the backyard sleeping alongside the fence while lying on a slab of limestone. That is one tough old bird. For myself, even watching him through the window is threatening to bring on chilblains.

A delicate constitution like my own must be protected at all times from meteorologic extremes. Why, the slightest blanching of the tip of one ear when outdoors is enough to trigger 911 calls and ambulance rides. There is no such thing as being too cautious, not in my book.

ERDoctor: But sir, I can find nothing wrong with your ear, nothing at all

ME: That’s because you are trusting your eyes alone, while I must listen to the very cells of that organ screaming in terror. It’s more than I can bear, I tell you!

ERD: Mmmmmm, let me look again (takes a large magnifying glass in hand to do his examination) … you know, there might be something there … don’t know how I could have missed it.

ME: What – what – what do you see?

ERD: There’s an area about 1.0 mm by 0.5 mm that is slightly erythematous and that redness is not present on the opposite ear.

ME: Omigod – erythematous – I had no idea … it’s already advanced to that stage! Have I got here in time, or will I lose the whole thing and have to wear odd-shaped caps for the rest of my life?

ERD: Oh, I believe we can save it, but you’ll have to follow my instructions to the letter. Can you do that?

ME: Doctor, you don’t know this, but when up against terrible odds, I positively shine. You have only to lay out the program and I will take it from there.

ERD: Alright, we will enclose it within a special thermorelief material called ultracotton

ME: Ultracotton, I like the sound of that

ERD: Then Nurse Falmouth, you know, the one whose bosom you have been giving such close attention during your time here in the Emergency Department?

ME: Yes, yes, I know them … her.

ERD: She will wrap your ear and your entire head with the finest gauze that medical science has ever produced, and which is kept in reserve for just such situations as these.

ME: My whole head? Is that necessary?

ERD: You don’t want the wind to flap that tender organ about and further damage it, do you? We must anchor it to something dense, like your cranium.

ME: Of course, don’t know why I didn’t think of that.

ERD: And we would like your wife to drive the car right up into the ambulance bay, an area protected from the weather, where several orderlies will assist you in the transition from hospital to automobile. Nurse Falmouth, of course will oversee the operation.

ME: I am so impressed with your professionalism and efficiency. And the follow-up on my injury?

ERD: Please keep the entire dressing in place for 5 days without disturbing it. At the end of that time you may take the whole thing off and toss it.

ME: When would you like to see me again?

ERD: We positively guarantee 100% recovery, sir, and the good news is that you don’t have to come back to see us. Not now, not ever.

I Don’t Need No Doctor, by Ray Charles

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