Thursday, June 18, 2020

We'll Meet Again

As a WWII history buff,  I was surprised to read that British songbird Vera Lynn died this morning.  I assumed she had passed on years ago, but, bless her heart, she made it to 103.  

Lynn, who in 2000 was named as the Briton who best exemplified the spirit of the 20th century, sang some of the iconic songs that helped unite the British people during the war including "White Cliffs of Dover." As a 20-year-old backpacking his way through Europe, I got teary-eyed on a boat from Calais to Dover when I saw those chalk-white cliffs drawing nearer and was reminded of Lynn's song and what it represented. 

Lynn's most famous song was one every Brit who lived through that God-forsaken era knew by heart, "We’ll Meet Again."

We'll meet again
Don't know where
Don't know when
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day
Keep smiling through
Just like you always do
'Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away…

The Queen, who well remembers the war— as a teenage princess she served as a mechanic — referenced the song in her recent address to the nation about the COVID-19 crisis. 

If you have two minutes, click the video above to see Lynn performing it at various points over her astonishingly long career.  It’s a simple song, beautifully delivered, that perfectly expresses the hopes of a beleaguered nation. It will give you goosebumps. Sadly, I can’t imagine any song that exemplifies the spirit of our beleaguered nation at this particular juncture other than “Crazy."
Once you've done that, click the video below to hear a version recorded throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland last month to mark the 75th anniversary of VE day. It doubles as a hopeful reminder that, once this current crisis is over and a vaccine and/or cure is discovered, the British people will be able to resume their normal lives. That's a sentiment not only Brits but everyone in our world brought low by this common enemy can get behind.

Until that day comes, keep smiling through. 

Friday, June 12, 2020

Having my pucker removed

What a God-awful year 2020 has been and it's not even half over. Let's see, there's been a global pandemic, racial unrest, the economy has crashed, and now I’m having my pucker removed.

No, I’m not becoming Thomasina. I'm perfectly happy with the gender I was assigned at conception (though I reserve the right to change my mind if my current gender goes out of style).  I have a pucker — wrinkle— on the macula of my retina, the light-sensitive tissue of my right eye, that is distorting my vision. 

I’ve always had near-perfect eyesight. A couple of years ago I noticed it was becoming blurry. My ophthalmologist said I had cataracts, which are common in people my age.

In January, after I pulled out into the path of a semi I hadn't seen barreling toward me, I decided to have them removed. The right eye was to be done first, followed by the left eye a week later. I was assured that 99 of every 100 cataract procedures are complication-free and that, within 48 hours, I’d be seeing perfectly thanks to the expensive multi-focal lens the doctor was going to insert, replacing the fogged-over lens in my right eye.

I was the one out of 100. The surgery caused blisters to form on my retina, along with a macular pucker. Everything looked like it was being reflected back from a funhouse mirror. The cataract doc sent me to a retina specialist.  Two weeks later the blisters had dried up but the pucker remained.

Each month since, I’ve had shots in my eyeball which, it was hoped, would smooth out the pucker. They didn’t work. And so, a week from Monday, I’m having surgery to have the top layer of my retina removed, which should get rid of the pucker. 

I made the mistake of watching videos about the procedure. There are a lot of invasive tools involved -- knives, scissors, icepicks, jackhammers, etc. Even though I'll be knocked out, I worry I’ll sneeze during the most critical juncture and will wind up with a hole where my eyeball used to be and will go through life looking like Orphan Annie. 

The recovery process will be relatively simple but lengthy. I won't be able to lie flat, exercise or bend over to pick up the dogs, and will have to wear sunglasses for two to four weeks, even when I'm inside. And I've read that pucker removal surgery, about 50 percent of the time, causes a new cataract to form within a couple of years in which case I'll be back at square one. At least I have one good eye -- my left  -- which has, and will continue to have, a cataract over it because I sure as hell have no intention of ever letting a surgeon anywhere near it.

I'm not complaining. I know I’m lucky. The only surgery I’ve had before this was a tonsilectomy when I was 15. I’m otherwise in good health. I’ve enjoyed great vision and didn't even need reading glasses until the cataracts appeared. It's not like I'm having cancer or heart surgery. But I sure can’t wait until this is over so I can see clearly again.
On second thought, perhaps I should ask for extra anesthesia that’ll keep me asleep until January 1, 2021.  Given all the crap that’s happened so far in 2020, I’m not so sure I want to be able to see what the second half of the year is going to look like. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

I forgot to write a headline until the day after I posted this but nobody noticed

Larry King used to write a weekly column in USA Today that consisted of bullet points, none having anything to do with each other. For example:

  • Ran into Clint “Dirty Harry” Eastwood in the lobby of the Plaza last night. 
  • So, what about those Lakers?
  • Nothing beats an ice-cold martini on a hot day. 

I never understood how he could write such drivel. Until now. 

For weeks I’ve been meaning to write a new post but have had neither a) the concentration to write two connected sentences much less an entire column, nor b) anything of import to say. It’s as if my brain has been consumed by the Corona virus or numbed by all the news which is becoming more disturbing by the day. 

And so, like Larry King, I can only write bullets, for which I apologize in advance. My readers deserve something better. But, alas, I’m not capable of delivering it. Sorry. 

  • TV news reporters wearing face masks look like idiots and viewers have no idea what they are saying. Take your masks off. 
  • Speaking of facial coverings, I’m sick of masked people who cross the street to avoid me because I refuse to wear one when I walk the dogs. If you’re that afraid of the virus, stay at home. It’s 95 degrees here in Florida. You’re more likely to die of suffocation than from a virus you caught from me.
  • Are my eyes playing tricks or are Nancy Pelosi’s eyebrows a quarter of an inch below her hairline? She looks permanently surprised, like someone just goosed her. 
  • Gotta love Wall Street.  Let’s see, there’s a global pandemic ... the highest unemployment since the Great Depression ... nationwide protests ... and our cities are burning ... so what does the stock market do? It goes up, up, up, of course! Happy days are here again! 
  • Who’s more insane — Trump, Biden or people who would willingly vote for either of these loons if anyone else was running? 
  • I’ve received so many emails from cruise lines announcing “further reductions” that I finally bit the bullet and booked an around-the-world voyage. For $99.99 each, my wife and I are getting a suite with our own private butler, a $10,000 per cabin credit and free shore excursions. If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Seriously folks, I’m about as likely to book a cruise as I am to give birth to twins. Aren’t you? 
  • Lately I’ve been playing a lot of online Scrabble with friends from around the world. I can understand why Brits drive on the wrong side of the road — they’ve done it since feudal times —  but why do they spell color “colour" and center “centre?” Drives me nuts. Does anyone know? 
  • Sad news about Hertz’ bankruptcy. Remember those, “Let Hertz put you in the driver’s seat” commercials when a nattily-dressed couple would be lowered by wires into the front seat of a rotoscoped Hertz convertible? Even as a kid, I always wondered WTF were they thinking wearing hats if they were driving a convertible? Wouldn’t their hats blow off? (You don’t remember those commercials? Click the youtube video at the top of this page.) 
  • Last night we made one of those unfortunately-named “dump cakes” that were so popular about the time we got married (in a double ceremony with our friends Fred and Wilma Flintstone).  Dump cans of pineapple and cherry pie filling into a dish, sprinkle a box of cake mix over it, and top with a stick of butter. I’m telling you, it was De-lish with a capital D. Great for breakfast, too!
  • How come it's called the “novel" Corona virus? It oughta be called the non-fiction Corona virus cuz folks, you couldn’t make this shit up if you tried. 
You read it all, didn't you? Well, don't say I didn't warn you. 

Til next week. Or month. Or whenever I have some more thoughts to collect.