I just realized it was four years ago today when I came uncomfortably close to dying. I don’t remember how blunt I was publicly about this at the time, but the surgeon who operated on me made it clear afterward that I had been much worse than he had thought. My gallbladder was inflamed and I had been in tremendous pain, but what the doctors didn’t know until they started is that the organ was close to rupturing. Surgery that was supposed to take half an hour took two or three hours, because my gallbladder was so diseased — the surgeon’s word — was falling apart as he tried to remove it. I had gone to the emergency room at St. Vincent’s Hospital (the same one where I was born) and was kept for emergency surgery the next morning. I should have been home that night, but I had to stay in the hospital three days instead. The weird thing is that I never really believed I could have died. Maybe it was just denial, but I didn’t feel as though it was my time. I thought I still had a lot of life left to live. Four years later, I’m grateful to be alive, but I feel as though my life is still on pause. It’s been a blur. I still feel as though I’m waiting for “the rest of my life” to start.
Is “The Nightmare Before Christmas” really a Christmas movie or a Halloween movie? It’s both, making it a delightful mashup of themes and images from two very different holidays. Although Danny Elfman’s score was nominated for several different awards, Elfman wasn’t a typical composer for film scores. Up until he started working on films with Tim Burton, Elfman had been a rock-and-roll artist best known as the leader of the new wave band Oingo Boingo in the 1980s. Just this week, I heard an interview on the podcast Song Exploder on which Elfman explains how he came to write the music for the movie, including why he approached the music for the film very differently than he had approached writing rock music. I enjoyed the 20-minute interview and if you happen to love the film, this Christmas would be the perfect time to learn more about how the score came to be. Tap or click below to listen. Listen here.
If you’re doing something that comes easily to you, motivation isn’t that important. It’s easy. But if you want to do something difficult, you’d better have some serious motivation — or you’ll quit. I discovered a three-minute film from Germany tonight that’s a beautiful and emotional illustration of that. It’s an ad about a frail old man — who seems defeated and weak — who suddenly decides to start pushing himself to get stronger again. As we see him struggle through early difficulties, we don’t know why. But in the last seconds of the film, everything makes sense. He had wanted to do something for a special little girl — and she had been the motivation for all the hard work. Click below to see the three-minute film.