Score for Sergeant: 1731.
Unless something really freaky happens (for all you who know me, you also know that is never beyond the realm of possibility), I will be promoted Apr 1st. I just wish that either my Dad or my brother could be here to pin me. I guess I just feel unfulfilled if Im not forcing my parents to spend thousands of dollars on me. Sorry.
Well, Jordan and I were planning on returning to the States for vaction in the early summer. We have moved that to late summer early fall after learning Jordan is about 4 weeks pregnant. So Jordan will be returning late summer and I will follow in october sometime.
...From OSC (Hatrack.com)
Of all the strokes I've read about, I have to rate the one I just had (on New Year's Day) as dull and second-rate on the danger-and-debilitation metere -- precisely the kind of stroke you want to have, if you have to have one at all.
The small blockage deep in my right-brain caused numbness in the left side of my lips and tongue and in my left hand and foot. The numbness left my limbs on the first day, but remains in my now-much-bitten lower lip.
As I write this, nearly three days later, I can report that my speech is unimpaired, I can walk (though I have a tendency for my left leg to buckle and I bump into walls and doorframes, and keep knocking my toothpaste tube off the left side of the sink.
I can even type, though at about a quarter of my former speed, because the fingers of my left hand don't quite land where I expect them to, leading to lots of G, Z, and R when I mean to type B, A, or E. It's the corrections that slow me down.
I've only fallen down once, because I was stupid enough to try to balance on my shaky left leg while putting on my pants.
All I have to do now is play a lot of videogames with left-hand controls so I can get my brain to wire new pathways for my eye-hand coordination, and practice walking, and make sure I hold onto things when I walk (I have a nice collection of canes -- and finally a use for them!)
But just so you know, I'm not going to be out on the road driving for a long time. I think people as wobbly as me have no business driving.
And the fact that much of my sense of taste has turned up missing will only help my efforts at weight loss.
My wonderful hospitalist at Moses Cone, who never once talked down to me or pretended to know more than he did, has me taking Plavix and a mild blood-pressure-reducer.
My wife is helping me take my weight-loss seriously -- yes to the brilliant tabouli from Mediterraneo, no (temporarily) to the equally brilliant barbecued-pork sandwich from Cook-Out.
Loco for Coco, I'll miss you! Unless you get more dark chocolate nonpareils in.
I compare my stroke with the others I've known. My grandfather's first stroke paralyzed him (except for speech), and he lived that way for the last year of his life. My uncle's first stroke wasn't completely debilitating, but his second one made him noncommunicative for the last years of his life.
Mine was definitely kinder to me than theirs were.
My friend Chris's stroke hit him out of nowhere -- at least I had heredity to warn me, and atrial fibrillation and high blood pressure to set off alarm bells, so I knew exactly what was happening when the left side of my tongue went numb while I was brushing my teeth.
Chris's stroke made him blind in one eye. The vision slowly came back, which is the good part. Loss of vision terrifies me, though -- at least with all my typing clumsiness I can see the errors and fix them.
So look, if you're as stupid as I was and you haven't lost weight and got your blood pressure down after ample warnings, I highly recommend my stroke over all the others I've seen or heard of.
I don't mean to brag, but the blood vessels in my brain picked their blockage carefully -- enough to get my attention, enough to keep me from doing book signings or teaching college for a while, which cleared out my schedule, but not enough to keep me from writing books or talking to people.
I hate it that I've disappointed and/or annoyed so many people, especially my would-have-been students this semester at Southern Virginia. But at least I can concentrate on fulfilling all my book contracts without distraction. (Does one of my publishers have a voodoo doll with a strand of my hair in it and a pin going right to the center of the head?)
I solemnly promise not to croak with any of my book series unfinished. Though I may miss a column or two or six in the next few months.
And bumping into walls can be kind of funny to the people around me, so I'm adding to the entertainment of my family.
The King's Speech
by Orson Scott Card (hatrack.com)
Right now, if you hurry, you can see the performance that shows an actor at such a fever pitch of perfection in his art that I do not expect to see its like again in a decade -- if ever.
I speak of Colin Firth's tour-de-force in the title role of The King's Speech.
We all know Colin Firth, right? As the aloof Mr. Darcy in the 1995 miniseries of Pride and Prejudice he permanently won the hearts of all women everywhere -- give it up, those hearts are owned.
Since then he played variations on "dignified Brit" until he was beginning to feel a little like a parody of himself. And then came Love Actually, in which his tender performance as the soul-injured man who falls in love across a language barrier stole a movie that was completely filled with brilliant performances.
But nothing prepared me to believe him capable of doing something so flat-out difficult as the role of Bertie (King George VI) in The King's Speech.
And that's something that seems almost never to be considered when people vote for acting Oscars: Was this performance actually hard to bring off?
Anthony Hopkins, for instance, is a wonderful actor and deserved the Oscar for his difficult performance of intense emotion behind a mask of imperturbability as the butler in Remains of the Day. Instead, he got it for the relatively easy scenery-chewing performance in Silence of the Lambs, where the mask was a mere prop instead of something he had to create himself.
This blindness of the Academy to the relative magnitude of various acting achievements is all the more surprising because the largest group of voters, by far, is actors.
How can they give awards to acting jobs that were showy but relatively easy (Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot, Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman), but then fail even to nominate performances that were actually incredibly hard to bring off?
I will explain why this happens: Most actors aren't very good at their craft.
They don't understand what they themselves do. It's all instinct. In America, at least, most actors are taught completely useless and meaningless "skills" like getting in touch with their own emotions. This is not art but therapy.
The Brits, however, are usually trained to actually understand what they're doing as actors. And so I daresay many a British actor understands exactly what Firth achieved in this role.
Here's what he had to do: He had to play a man whose actual speech and manner actually exist on film and in recordings. This man had an accent (or speech impediment?) that caused him to pronounce his initial Rs in a weird and twisted way.
On top of this accent, Firth then had to place a convincing stammer of a particular type -- hesitant rather than repetitive. I have known several people with such stammers, and while they are easy to mock (if you're that kind of person), they are devilishly hard to produce. Firth has it dead right.
But that's not the hardest part. The hardest thing is then to give a performance that is not about the stammer, but instead is about the human being.
While doing these tricks with language and mannerisms, Firth then had to produce the aloofness and ignorance of a man raised to be royal, yet obviously incompetent to perform key parts of his role in life. He has to be warm and likeable, but also angry and arrogant, damaged and desperate, all at once.
Firth brings it off -- and does it so brilliantly that you never notice him acting.
He never calls your attention to his effort. In fact, you are never even aware of it. He just is Bertie Windsor, the younger brother who was never, never going to have to be King of England.
And you won't. Even though I've just prepped you to see nothing but his performance, when you go to The King's Speech you will get caught up in the story and think only of the relationship between Prince Bertie and his Australian-born vocal coach, Lionel Logue, played to perfection by Geoffrey Rush, who will simply win the Best-Supporting Actor Oscar this year. (The other nominees might as well not bother writing a speech.)
The King's Speech is a truly private movie. The people are caught up in great events, but the dilemmas and relationships are all utterly domestic. And the acting is so good that you come out of the theater loving, not the actors, but the people they portrayed.
Like True Grit, The King's Speech has an absolutely astonishing supporting cast. It also has a sensitive, nearly perfect script, whose few imperfections are completely overcome by the actors and director.
Don't see this movie because of awards talk. Don't even see it in order to admire the best acting performance of the year.
See it because it is a beautiful story of human struggle, of friendship born in adversity, of good people doing good. See it because your life will be better for having this story inside your memory.
And see it soon, because unless word of mouth -- for instance, the words of my mouth -- fills the theaters quickly, this is the kind of movie that will come and go in a moment. Why? Because it just doesn't have the ingredients that can be touted in advance.
It doesn't sound compelling in quick promos or sound bytes. It is only after seeing it that you know how very much you wanted to, needed to see it.
There is only one warning I must give before you rush off to the theater. This movie is rated R. And by the MCAA rules it deserves it. It has not just one or two F-words, but dozens, and lots of other foul language, too.
And it is absolutely right to have those words. They could not have been cut out or replaced with euphemisms.
That's because in the real world, stammerers often find that while they cannot speak without interruption, they can sing and they can swear without a hint of a stammer.
That's right -- once we code various words as "forbidden" in our brains, they actually emerge on a different mental track (so to speak), and a stammer that blocks normal speech does not stop the curses.
So part of the therapy is for Bertie to let rip with strings of foul language. The very fact that Bertie is not a swearing man makes this all the more poignant.
If you are one who cannot bear the sound of really bad words (though not the worst -- there really are words more vile than the F-word, and they are not used), then this movie is simply not available to you.
But if you can experience these words as an honest part of a truthful story which truly cannot be told anywhere near as well without them, then go to this movie, for apart from this perfectly explicable language, everything else about the movie is PG or even G; there is nothing else to stop you from loving the whole experience.
well i want you to notice
to notice when i'm not around
and i know that your eyes see straight through me
and speak to me without a sound
i want to hold you
protect you from all of the things I've already endured
I want to show you
Show you all the things that this life has in store for you
I'll always love you
the way that a brother should love his sister
when i walked out this morning
i cried as i walked to the door
i cried about how long i'd be away for
i cried about leaving you all alone
so i wanted to say this
cuz i wouldn't know where to begin
to explain to you what i have been through
to explain where your brother has been
...but it's not possible.