Thursday, April 13, 2017

Come Back to the Bloc and Write, Rikky Tod, Rikky Tod...

NOT a safe way to work. Like me, Donald
 never seems to learn from his previous mistakes...
Contrary to what regular visitors may have surmised, neither I nor this website are dead. Sure, it's been just a few months – OK, almost six months, but who's counting? – since I last posted on the Cinema 4: Cel Bloc. And it's a real shame, because I had a full slate of Christmas/winter-related toons already selected for posts last December, and other special focus events planned for this February and April. Oh, well... there is always next year.

In over a decade of keeping this blog alive, I've taken extended breaks before owing to various concerns, most of them work-related. This time around, it was a hip injury in late October that made it very difficult to sit, stand, walk, lie down, or even concentrate for very long at all. To make matters even worse, it was a hip injury that occurred later the same day that I posted my last article on this website – Wednesday, October 26, 2016 – and get this... it happened while riding the Matterhorn at Disneyland. My hips locked on me as I sat my out-of-shape butt into the ride, pain shot through my entire body, and the pain grew ever more intense as the ancient and famously jolt-ridden rollercoaster bumped and slammed me around every awful, too tight turn. By the end, I was, in the words of Rivers Cuomo, "Jell-O, baby."

Though I believed that I had recovered for the most part over the next month, I still had some stiffness in my left hip area. It was through some part-time work I picked up in late November that I discovered the real truth of my physical condition. My would-be new gig turned almost instantly into a living hell as the hostile (to me) working conditions (far too quick a pace crossed with far too many hours demanded – 60 – in repeated 6 day work-weeks, along with other concerns) proceeded to trigger sharp, stabbing spikes and weird, pulsing hot/cold sensations through my left hip and leg, numbness in three toes on my left foot, and residual effects on the right side.

I fought on, but after a couple of weeks, I had missed enough time that I had to quit or be fired. The management talked me into taking a medical leave of absence for 10 days, to which I readily agreed. Not being able to get into my doctor until early January, I started seeing a local chiropractor, who did his best but finally admitted that if what he was trying was not making me better, then I had better wait to see my doctor before proceeding, fearing he might do worse harm.

And then the time for my medical leave was up and I had to go back to work the next evening (it was a 6:30 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. shift). Needing to be either on ice or heating pad, along with large doses of pain meds, and barely able to even get up or down the stairs at home, I knew that I was doomed. Came the next day, I called in to quit again, knowing I couldn't work or even if I went to work, would probably not make it an hour on my feet. Either way that I missed work, I would accrue the 1/2 point needed for them to fire me.

While getting fired would make me eligible for unemployment, I also didn't need a second straight firing on my resume. [Note: I was previously canned in 2015 for "insubordination" when I ran afoul of the evil jerk president of the Board of Directors of the non-profit sports organization that I had worked for with great success for a decade. All I did was write "Down with the Board" on a friend's going away party card, who was also being let go by the company. Due to the mental stress the board members had caused me that sent me spinning into psychiatric therapy for two years, my wife and friends had been insisting that I quit for quite a while. I really should have listened to them.] And so I opted to quit. That way I could say that I left for medical reasons. I asked if I would still be eligible to return to the company once I straightened out my medical issues, but they said "No, because you didn't give us two weeks notice." I started to blurt out, "But you were the ones who talked me into a medical leave almost exactly two weeks ago!" but I stopped after the word "talked" and more politely said, "Thanks" and hung up on her. Better to just get out while the getting was good. They had tortured me enough.

So, now it's April and almost Easter weekend. I have gone through three months of doctor visits with various medical experts, and the chief cause was bursitis. Eighty percent of the problems in my legs were wiped out with a single bursa injection. My orthopedist wants me to get an MRI to dig further into the hip problem, which is still sore and causes me problems after too long in physical excess. But insurance turned down the request (twice) and is insisting that I go to many, many weeks of physical therapy instead, which they will cover. This is fine, because 1) it's cheaper overall, and 2) I really need to get onto some form of regular exercise program. This has gotten gym-hating me some time to get used to being in one of those places pretty much by force, and I am not disliking the experience. Also, I am already seeing benefits from going there (just about ten times now, but I have to keep going for the next six weeks before getting a re-evaluation).

Sometime in January, I started sneakily posting again on my main site, The Cinema 4 Pylon, usually just extended riffs on things I was posting on Facebook to my friends. After I started really feeling better after the injection, there came a rebuild of the entire Pylon site including a freshly updated look. Regular articles and new series are starting to appear on there – please visit to check it out for yourself – and so now the time has come to finally get going again on my two favorite babies: The Shark Film Office (which has not seen a new post almost 3 weeks longer than here), and this site, Cinema 4: Cel Bloc.

I am working on a new, multi-part piece for the Cel Bloc about the more often than not amazing films created via the National Film Board of Canada, and I am hoping to have the first part up early next week. I have also been watching a good deal of animation, both feature length and short films, during my hiatus, and am itching to get going again on some of those titles. In other words, keep checking back here at the Cinema 4: Cel Bloc. Good things are bound to happen!