Stroke of Genius

After 10 days of administering medication to our cat Cubby, my mom returned to the vet to find out why the poor guy seemed to have gone blind. He was feisty again, but the vet managed to give him a shot and a more thorough exam, and is now sure that our cat suffered a stroke. The good news is that it doesn't seem to have affected him in any way, apart from the blindness, and he seems to have responded to the medication. He's walking in circles less, and favoring the right may be because he's more comfortable on that side or his vision is less obscured on that side. There is more green around his pupils, and hopefully those big black saucers will continue to shrink. At this point, he could go either way in terms of his vision, but it's still a relief to have a diagnosis and a plan of action.

With one less thing on my mind, I was able to concentrate on work. One of my assignments is now a week behind schedule, mostly because the direction was changed and we had to start over, a situation entirely out of my control but still annoying, because I've never been a week late on anything in my life. My department also had a big lunch meeting in which we all critiqued new designs we'd come up with. It was a fun side project with writers, artists, and marketing people broken up into smaller teams with different assignments. Somehow, though I'm the quiet guy and terrified with public speaking, my partners volunteered me to do the bulk of the speaking. I was nervous, probably spoke too quickly, and likely missed some points even though I'd jotted down notes. At least we were allowed to speak from our chairs around a conference table, and didn't have to get up at the podium in front of the whole room. That junk would have knocked me unconscious. As it is, I'd had a scare earlier in the day when my car skidded on some wet leaves and I almost hit a car waiting at a stop sign in front of me, swerving into the oncoming lane to avoid it. That set my heart pounding.

It had been a long week, and I was glad when some friends invited me out to see Black Dynamite, an hilariously faithful send-up of 70s blaxploitation films. I expect it will be a huge cult hit for writer and star Michael Jai White, though a lack of advertising and a limited release make me think it won't do well in theaters. We had to settle for a subpar theater at a local mall, where there were only five or six other people there, sad for a Friday night. But the movie itself had us in stitches and my face hurts from the laughing while I need to drink water to replace the tears. It has everything, from the lingo, to the over-the-top expressions and scenarios, and best of all the low budget mistakes. A boom mike is visible and consistently distracts the star in one scene. Footage is recycled whenever a car drives off a cliff and explodes. A woman has a tear in her eye in every other frame. A stuntman accidentally gets hit and cries out, and a second later a different actor is spliced into the same fight scene. The film is choppy and grainy and all around authentic to the style of the movies it parodies. I'm sure we missed half the jokes from laughing and repeating lines. “I'm gonna shake the smack right out of you!” says the hero to a drug-addicted orphan. “No Black Dynamite!”, cries Salli Richardson-Whitfield, “We already TRIED that!” I couldn't do the dialogue justice, and the plot reaches increasing levels of absurdity, with crazy endboss upon crazy endboss until they finally get all the way to the top. I haven't laughed like that in a long time. They did their research on this one.

Afterwards, we hit a diner, even though we'd eaten prior to the movie, and instead of the small coffee and pie I was considering, I found myself ordering a deluxe belgian waffle and an espresso. The waffle was huge, covered with bacon and scrambled eggs, sitting on a disk of ham, and flanked by sausage. The espresso never arrived, nor did the waitress ever come back to check on us. I think she was upset that my friend's thickshake had apparently exploded on her blouse, though after she left he noted that the consistency and taste of his drink seemed more akin to a light, frothy chocolate milk. At least my beverage wasn't on the check, because there was no way I was going to pay for something they never brought me. I suppose the staff was tired; it was close to 1 AM, although there were only two other tables with customers.

Black Dynamite really was genius though, and I couldn't let little things like bad service get me down. It would be great if a chorus sang my name when I entered a room, if I could just sidestep machine gun fire and only have one bullet graze my shoulder. It'd be nice to be that smooth with the ladies too. Maybe I need to change my brand of malt liquor....


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