Random thoughts from a week of not-blogging

1. Saw Michael Moore's Sicko last weekend at the beautiful Michigan Theater in lovely downtown Ann Arbor. Not everyone's a fan of the portly Mr. Moore and his equally large opinions, but if there's a film of his to watch, it's probably this one. It's surprisingly opinion-free and with good reason; the state of health care in this country is such a big-business racket, there's little commentary needed. He pushes the envelope with a segment involving taking 9-11 rescue workers to Cuba for healthcare, but it's probably a smart strategic move to help silence the critics who love to accuse Moore of being un-American. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll cry, you'll cry. 2. I signed up for a Beginner Spinning class at the Y a couple of weeks ago. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But it starts tonight and it no longer seems like a good idea. My knees hurt just thinking about it. I'll let you know if I survive it.

3. I leave for Iowa on Sunday for the Summer Writing Festival and finally decided which story I'll use for the advanced short story workshop I'm taking. I was going to whip up something new, but the inspiration didn't hit and I've a couple of pieces that I wanted to work on. It's a relief to have that selected and not worry about coming up with something new.

4. Finally watched The Last King of Scotland last night. Apologies to all the people with Netflix who had to wait 800 weeks to get it since it's been sitting on top of my DVD player for ages. Thought it was pretty good, especially since Glaswegian James McAvoy holds his own as a young Scottish physician against Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin. I was warned about it being dark and brutal and it certainly was, especially towards the end. I watched the "behind the scenes" bits on the DVD after and was really surprised to learn that perhaps the most graphic images the filmmakers employed (involving a woman's mutilated body) was actually a debunked myth. I still can't wrap my mind around why, as storytellers -- albeit telling a fictionalized account involving a real man -- you'd choose to perpetuate a myth when there are plenty of real Amin-related horrors you could rely on.

5. I've been driving myself crazy lately, grammatically speaking, using the unnecessary "have got" combo. At some point, I realized I say, "I've got to do this or that" a lot when it's far tidier to say "I have to do this or that." Now I'm driving myself to the point of distraction with it. It's everywhere! ("America's Got Talent." Try, "America Has Talent -- and Bad Grammar." ) Ack. I can get slightly obsessive about these things. Also, everyone needs to stop using "myself" as a substitute for "me." It's also driving me crazy. ("My wife and myself went to dinner last night..." "You can talk to Sheila or myself about your STD...") Me! It's just plain ol' "me," people! Quit trying to be fancy.

6. Back to time-wasters...due to lack of cable, I'm usually a couple of seasons behind on cable shows (though not always, as I have "my ways.") Thus, I've only recently watched entire back seasons of Entourage, the much-ballyhooed HBO series. I'd avoided it this long because of my deep-seeded aversion to Jeremy Piven. But damn if he isn't funny as hell as the loathable agent Ari Gold. I don't know what it is about that show, but it's sort of perfect summer fare -- eminently watchable. Put me on the bandwagon, folks, which I know has been full for ages.

7. The one thing I haven't been doing much of lately is reading, which is unusual for me. Since I've been spending much of my free time sewing, I've been listening to podcasts or watching old TV (see above post) while I stitch away. But with Iowa looming, I've picked up Eggers' "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" which I set aside about halfway through a couple of months ago. Not sure why. But I'm back at it and when you've been away from reading for a while, you forget how meaningful and rewarding it is. Lately I've had the attention span of a fly and can barely get through magazine articles in one sitting. One hopes that this too shall pass.