Sunday, January 30, 2011


I can't see a damn thing. Feels that way, anyway.

Honestly, my recent vision issues are a welcome departure from my last medical debacle, which is still going on. I'd love to tell you all about my semen analysis nightmare of the past couple of months, but it's much too complex and painful to write about. Let's just say it involves a Subway sandwich shop on Canal St., a testing center in South Maryland, and more than a few wasted weekends. I thought the whole point of masturbating was to avoid being rejected by other people!

Things started looking all washed out and blurry in my right eye about three weeks ago. Given that things have looked all washed out and blurry in my left eye for about seven years, this concerned me. Even weirder was the droop in my right eyelid, which ranges from about 50% to 15% droopage. Did I have one of those "silent strokes" everyone's talking about, or did I just fall asleep in my ice cream again?

This seemed like a question for Frank Weiner to answer. Dr. Weiner is one of New York City's most respected neuro-opthamologists, and he actually takes my insurance. I had an appointment last Wednesday afternoon, and arrived promptly with a CD of my most recent
brain scans and some scrawled out notes on a piece of paper. It was already starting to snow like the dickens, but I made it.

I was immediately convinced that Dr. Weiner was a stand-up guy and a master of his discipline. Within minutes he had diagnosed my ailment (contact lense fatigue), but he still put me through a battery of neurological and optical exams, probably to eliminate obscure diseases like heterochromia, Horner's Syndrome, and nystagmus (I actually had uveitis, which I guess sounds sort of cool). It's incredible how low-tech most of these tests are. Ratty parchment letter charts and plastic eye-patches are still used by the finest physicians in the world.

Defying description is the "visual field" exam. which measures a patient's peripheral and central vision. Imagine getting bonked on the head with a sledgehammer, taking a hit of acid, and playing Missle Command with a spaghetti strainer over your head. That's what a visual field exam is like.

Weiner sent me off with a script for steroid eyedrops and strict instructions to avoid contact lenses for at least one week. Avoid, as in "don't wear them." Of course, I forgot to bring a pair of glasses with me. [note: I famously forgot my glasses for Mike Mussina's near-perfect game at Fenway in '01...
Charles Simone will bring this up any time he has 5+ beers in him]I staggered out onto First Avenue and into the budding snowstorm. Slush puddles the size of Lake Huron had already formed at every corner. My chances of hailing a cab seemed as scant as Blind Pew finding buried treasure in the island sand. I decided to head west, young men.

Second on my mental list (right under "cab") was finding a drugstore-- not only did I need to fill my script, but I also needed some fancy-ass preservative-free eyedrops to prep my sore eyes for the 'roid-water. I spied a CVS across the street, just beyond what appeared to be a clearing in front of parking garage. That seemed like safe passage, even if I was still seeing flashes and swirls from the visual field exam.

The "clearing" turned out to be a side entrance to the Midtown Tunnel, and yes, it was rush hour. I hotstepped my way across and somehow made it over to CVS. I soon realized I had about as good a chance of locating preservative-free eyedrops as Blind Pew was never going to find what I needed without some major help. A kind strumpet took pity on me grim face and sent me to aisle 5. I grabbed a Snickers and shuffled back out into the cold.

Walking around Manhattan without glasses or contacts (if you're visually impaired) feels liberating at first, and quickly becomes absolutely terrifying. A lot like walking around Manhattan without pants or underwear (which I've only done once). I decided to push the taxi thing even harder.

I finally made it home, and joined my wife in a frantic search for my glasses. I believe I've owned only three pairs of glasses in my life, but I'm not quite sure. What is certain is that one pair was sat on by the Mz. and another pair was dropped in the toilet by me. The third pair was at least four prescriptions old, but easily located (of course). We were unable to find the toilet-glasses, which left me with lenses that actually accentuated my eyes' deficiencies, rather than correcting them (they blurred my left eye and doubled my right eye imaging). I immediately began wearing them.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Top 10 Guitar Solos

Buddy of mine came up with this "topic" a few weeks ago.  No, we weren't wasted!  At least I wasn't.  Anyway, here's my necessary but not sufficient list:

1. "Blue Sky" - Duane Allman/Dickey Betts
Brings a tear to me eye ev'ry time.  Probably the only song on this list you can safely play in front of anyone (in-laws, toddlers, your boss, the elderly, etc.).

2. "Comfortably Numb" - David Gilmour
Wait, you never listened to this on your floor with your eyes bulging out of your head?  You should stop reading this right now and go organize your sweater drawer.

3. "Flight Over Rio" - Al DiMeola
They shoulda called this one "Blimp Over Sunset Park On Cough Syrup" but hey, Al's never been big on song titles.  A.D. rescues this proto-Screwed flange-fest from the tussin swamp around the three-minute mark, and proceeds to embarass the sweatpants off of Jan Hammer in a somewhat unconventional duel of licks (Les Paul vs. Mini-Moog?).  Al carves up a fucking bison while Jan spurts synth-jizz all over the console.

4. "Free Will" - Alex Lifeson
I already nailed this one in two words or less on two pills or more in my Permanent Waves review: positively horny.

5. "Heartbreaker" - Jimmy Page
I remember a guy I used to hang out with complaining about this one: "Blah blah blah... so sloppy... blah... noisy pickups... not that fast... blah..."  Notice I said used to hang out with that jerk.

6. "I Heard Her Call My Name" - Lou Reed
The gold standard for noisy guitar solos. My college roommate was out on the roof with his friend and a couple of girls one afternoon, totally wasted and pissing me off. I took their bad rap CD out and blasted this song, and they kept on dancing. Neither drunk got laid.

7. "Sinner's Swing!" - Eddie Van Halen
I nailed this one on Lee's Steez too, but I was so bombed I deleted it. Something about skinning an electric eel, or maybe wetting your pants in an electric chair? It was right on, whatever it was.

8. "St. Elmo's Fire" - Robert Fripp
Mr. Bojangles perfects his toggle-switch electric pan-flute routine here, and is given a courtesy reprise for his efforts.  Bravo!

9. "The Thing That Should Not Be" - Kirk Hammett
You wanna talk about guitar solos that enrich not only the song but the song-concept as well?  I do.  The Lovecraft theme is reinforced by a non-Euclidean guitar-poem that defies all known tonal and harmonic constructs.  Yog-Sothoth is belching in approval somewhere...

10. "Whole Lotta Rosie" (live) - Angus Young
We don't usually recommend bringing a breakneck juggernaut to a complete stop for a guitar solo; in fact, we forbid it.  Angus somehow gets it back up on the tracks and up to speed in about ten seconds, in front of thousands of screaming fans!  Breathtaking.