Friday, November 25, 2005

My worst day ever so far, by Julio(*)

(Warning: the following has little to do with television, or movies or anything else, but given the date, it's something I needed to write. Snappy comments on lots of shows come towards the end.)

A year ago today, I was driving home from a late-night run to my local comic book store, where I was taking advantage of a Black Friday Midnight Madness sale to pick up a copy of JLA/Avengers on the cheap. If I'd known then what I know now, I would've just stayed home and paid the retail price for the damn thing. Instead, I was driving home in my hand-me-down Honda, pleased as punch at my purchase, when I drove through a green light and, out of the corner of my left eye, saw a car roaring at me so fast that I thought, "Oh, God, that police car's about to hit me," right before the left side of the car caved in on me, I spun out of control for 270 degrees or so and wound up perpendicular to my original position, unable to move or breathe and in excruciating pain.

My lungs refilled after a minute or so, and I reached for my cell phone, never gladder to own one than I was at that moment -- or to have the ability to move my arms at all. I picked it up and dialed home, and when Marian picked up, I was able to gasp out her name before the connection went dead -- and Marian quickly decided that I was dead, too. But she called back, and I was able to tell her where I was and what had happened, and she called 911. So had the woman whose lawn I came to a halt in front of, so two different ambulance crews showed up, both annoyed that the other was there, both stuck on location until they could cut me out with the Jaws of Life. A paramedic with a French accent and a French-sounding name that I can't remember anymore (Gerard? Henri?) sat in the back seat, holding my head in place in the event I had any kind of spinal injury. I don't know if it was the shock, or my disbelief at why this had happened, but I asked one of the other medics to make sure he picked up JLA/Avengers and put it in the ambulance, because I was gonna be damned if I almost died for a comic book and then couldn't read it in the hospital.

They cut me out of the car, placed me on the backboard as gently as they could, given my height and bulk, and slid me into the ambulance, where they proceeded to cut off my clothes, including my favorite jacket and my Superman t-shirt. (And, yes, I'm enough of a dork to wear a Superman shirt on a trip to the comic book store; and, yes, I'm aware of the irony inherent in almost dying while wearing the thing.) I was hurt bad enough that they didn't even take me to the local hospital, but to the nearest trauma center, a place where I had history both good (Julia was born there) and bad (my dad died there). I think I was in too much shock to feel real pain during the ambo ride, but when they set me down in the ER, it all hit me. I would find out later that I had broken three ribs and had badly lacerated my spleen, and boy howdy did all that hurt. And I wasn't even the most mangled guy in the ER. There was someone a few curtains down making sounds like a wounded coyote; one of the nurses told me that a car had completely crushed one of his limbs.

To add injury to insult and injury, when Marian arrived at the hospital with Julia in tow, she noticed that the fever Julia had displayed earlier in the evening was back. With nothing else to do until she was allowed to see me, she walked Julia down the hall to the pedes ER, where she found out that Julia had pneumonia. Not a good health night for the Sepinwall clan.

To make a long story only slightly less long, they kept me in the hospital for a week to make sure my spleen wouldn't rupture and flood my body with poisons. I started out in the ICU, where I was the nurses' favorite patient because, as the only guy not in a coma and/or with a tube down his throat, I could actually have conversations with them. Then I got moved to a step-down ward, where I suddenly became very popular among the family members of the other residents, all of whom had eyes on my room, the only private one on the floor. ("So, you going home tomorrow? Can you put in a good word for me?")

This was, obviously, not a good time. But as I look back on it a year later (And has it really been a year? Because it feels like yesterday.), I feel really damn glad to be alive, to have most of my health back, to have my wife and daughter and my friends and loved ones and blog-readers. Today (today), I consider myself (self) the luckiest man (man) on the face of the earth (earth).

The sentimental portion out of the way, let's get to all the stuff I've watched since last we met -- and it's been a lot, so buckle up.

"Prison Break": Oh my god, they killed Abruzzi! Those bastards! I suppose if I had to choose between Abruzzi and T-Bag, I'd rather keep T-Bag, who causes more trouble and is funnier than our mob boss. (Abruzzi's funniest moment was cutting off Michael's toe, which was an accidental homage to Peter Stormare's role in "The Big Lebowski.") The sequence with Michael flooding the chamber so he could swim to the top of it was genius; that's the stuff that got me hooked on this show in the first place, and the stuff I expect we're going to lose once Michael and pals are outside the prison walls.

"Gilmore Girls": I used to think that Amy Sherman-Palladino wrote the wordiest scripts on television, but now I've realized that it's her husband Daniel. I almost don't need to look at the writing credits for a given episode to tell if it's a Daniel show or not; the staggering words per minute ratio is always the clue. Glad to see Rory and Lorelai enjoying the reunion some more, though I would've liked to see them deal with the fact that Luke essentially lives with them now. (Did he move back into the diner apartment when Rory came home?) Zach's meltdown at the band showcase was funny, even though I've never seen "Dig" and didn't get the homage. (That's the secret of good homage... and let's just say 'homage' one more time to stick it in our brains for the rest of the day... feel better? I know I do.)

"House": Greg, you magnificent, self-loathing bastard. Your plan to win Stacy back of course drove her away -- just as I'm sure you knew it would when you stole those files. Meth-Head Cameron was an interesting diversion, but most of this week's highlights took place away from the main medical story.

"My Name Is Earl": Okay, they need to keep revisiting that one-legged ex-girlfriend, because those scenes are always gold -- especially when they brought in her no-legged, one-armed, ass-kicking new boyfriend. One of the better episodes overall, what with the multiple taser scenes, the recycled negative campaign ad and Crab Man displaying a social conscience.

"The Office": This, on the other hand, was pain. Pure pain. I had to start fast-forwarding through the Michael improv class scenes after a while, it was so squirm-inducing. Now, the thing is, a lot of the British episodes were just as uncomfortable (his motivational speech comes easily to mind), yet I found those more tolerable and funnier than when Michael's being pathetic. If I could figure out why one works for me and the other doesn't, well, then I'd have a decent column, I suppose. (Then again, I just wrote my whole "Jim and Pam should be the leads" column last week, so maybe I'm done proposing ways to improve the show for a while.)

"Lost": Remind me to just ignore all Damon Lindelof interviews from now on. He went on and on about how no one would believe what Ana-Lucia used to do for a living, when I think every single person who watches the show would have picked either cop or soldier after seeing her for a few weeks. Ana-Lucia, former ballerina? That would be a twist. Ana-Lucia, ex-debutante? That would shock me. Ana-Lucia, cop with a hair-trigger temper? Not so much. The flashbacks did explain why she acts the way she does, and it established that even the writers think she's too extreme, so that was good. The best parts of the episode, however, were the meetings and reunions -- Locke and Mr. Eko, Jin and Sun, Michael and the dog and, best of all, Bernard and Rose. (Excuse me, I have something in my eye again. Be right back.) Someone needs to come up with a few flashbacks for those two.

"Veronica Mars": Hot damn, that was good. Because Veronica is almost never scared of anything, on those rare occasions where she shows any fear at all (think back to her seeing Aaron Echolls in her rearview mirror), you know the shit has absolutely hit the fan. So that biker bar scene was intense (and helped along by one of my favorite songs off the "VM" soundtrack, "Dakota," by Stereophonics). Just as freaky as Weevil's henchmen playing Russian Roulette with Logan's privates; I've already seen next week's episode, and the fallout from that is good. And if we can't have Wallace around for a while for budgetary reasons, Mac makes a fine substitute sidekick.

"Survivor": Didn't see much of it. I was otherwise occupied Thanksgiving night, and then my poor impulse control got the better of me and I read a recap of the episode before I got to see it, just so I'd know who was voted off. Damn spoilers and their tempting chocolatey goodness! I did check out the Tribal Council, just because it sounded like Gary went down swinging, and he sure did, taking shots at Stephenie (loved seeing Bobby Jon and Jamie giggle in hysterics at the autograph joke) and Judd the bad liar. I'll miss you, mighty landscaper. One thing I wish had happened: Hogeboom gets his torch snuffed, then turns to the others and says, "By the way, I really was an NFL quarterback," followed by everyone saying, "We know, Gary, we know."

"Sleeper Cell":
This one isn't on yet, but it's been taking up a lot of my viewing time lately, and it is very cool. A friend of mine described it as "'Wiseguy' meets '24'," and I think the description is pretty apt, though it doesn't have the constant plot logic problems of "24" and the bad guy doesn't act circles around the main character. I'm five or six hours into a 10 hour show, so I'll have more comments later this week, before I write the review. But if you have Showtime, check it out next week.

So, in short, it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive, and there was a lot of great TV in the last week. Sepinwall out.

(*)In case you were wondering, by the way, this post's title comes from Rick Schroder's finest moment on "NYPD Blue," a sarcastic interrogation from his very first episode with a suspicious gunshot victim named Julio; when Julio whined that he was having a bad day, Rick suggested he submit his tale of woe to Reader's Digest, and call it "My worst day ever so far, by Julio." You couldn't write that. David Milch could, but you couldn't.

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