Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Remembering TV nights with my mom

Today, my mom would have turned 56.

My mom was one of my heroes, my best friend and my TV buddy.

We loved to watch Game Show Network, Disney Channel and “Desperate Housewives” together.

That night, before she went to sleep and never woke up, she came to my room and asked if I wanted to watch “Housewives.” It was a Sunday night.

It was March 6, 2011, and I was busy in my room, wrapping up Oscars coverage for the season, after returning from Hollywood earlier in the week.

That may have been the last interaction I had with her.

I remember that night like it was yesterday. Her fingers on my slightly opened door, peeking her head into my cramped quarters.

That smile on her face.

Maybe I should have joined her for one last TV binge.

A year or two later, I would find a photo on my phone from that night — the last meal she made.

It was nothing special: chicken with noodles.

My mom never had a penchant for making fine cuisine.

As a divorced working mom raising two kids and going back to school for her MBA, she didn’t spend time creating fanciful meals in the kitchen.

But that’s okay with me. That meant more TV time with me and the cats.

On this day, I remember my best friend. I mourn her lose everyday with my sister. But we remember the good times.

I’ll always remember the time we spent in front of the television.

To this day, when I watch a good episode from a TV show, I want to tell my mom about it.

Maybe she’s already seen it up in heaven.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tears of gratitude

A photo of me taken in my office after our 10th anniversary celebration. 
It hit me about 11 hours later.

I cried tears of gratitude mixed with grief, overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and messages about the closing of Toledo Free Press.

You never quite realize the impact something has had until it's gone or taken away.

Reading a colleague's comment on a photo I posted started the tears.

It was about 2 a.m., 11 hours after Publisher Tom Pounds' statement went live that his Toledo weekly would be closing its door after 10 years.

Word traveled quickly. I heard from friends around the country — Boston, Chicago, Milwaukee and Nashville — within an hour of the story going live. I had yet to share anything via social media myself.

I have been with Toledo Free Press for nearly all of my professional career. Since graduating college in 2009, I worked a few odd jobs until I was hired full-time in May 2010. It was joining the Free Press that showed me how important it is to be a part of something in your community.

I love the Free Press. I love what it stands for. And I love that it is about the community.

Yes, I may have lost my job, but more importantly Toledo lost one of its voices, an advocate for many and an outlet for those who were not given one before.

What meant a lot to me was that we were a newspaper that was informing Toledo with unbiased news and independent reporting that was important for the residents of Toledo to read.

We saw the city as a glass half-full city.

Seeing all of the posts and comments on social media only solidified this, bringing those tears of gratitude that we helped change a community for the better.

I love the Free Press. I will always love and be proud of what our team accomplished throughout its 10 years.

A photo posted by James A. Molnar (@thegoldknight) on

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A must-see documentary

I recently attended the Cleveland International Film Festival and a documentary really stuck with me.

"Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine" is a well-done documentary chronicling the life of Shepard, whom the world met after his 1998 beating and murder when he was a gay 21-year-old college student.

Director Michele Josue said the purpose of the film was to share his story and his humanity and to show that Matt wasn't perfect and he wasn't a martyr.

What the movie does right is trying to show Shepard as a flawed young man, instead of a gay rights icon.

Matt struggled with his identity, but also his place in the world. His teachers and mentors interviewed in the documentary echo this struggle.

Everyone struggles with their identity and place in the world. Having Josue focus on this and the backstory of Matt's life really made the film better.

If you get a chance to see the documentary, go! I'm hoping to bring a screening to Toledo. Watch my Twitter for updates.

Read my full review over on The Gold Knight.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

In Memoriam: Thank you for the journey, Roger Ebert

Each week, my routine was the same. After watching the latest offering from Hollywood on the big screen, I composed my thoughts and analysis and wrote my review. Then, I read what Roger Ebert thought about the movie.

This final step was important to me — week in and week out. If Ebert loved a movie I disliked, why was that? He always provided great commentary and gave me reasons to admire a certain film more or dislike it more. He has always been an important validator for me. It’s like we had a conversation about a movie each week.

And now I’m on my own.

I was devastated to hear about the loss of Ebert. He taught us all about movies and life. The New York Times called him “A Critic for the Common Man.”

He was the consummate writer, journalist, film critic and human being.

Ebert just celebrated his 46th year as film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. I always admired Ebert’s ability to draw on his life experiences when reviewing a film.

The first line of his 2011 memoir, “Life Itself,” reads, “I was born inside the movie of my life.” And while the movie has now ended, Ebert’s archive will give future generations of filmgoers a chance to read his incredible, award-winning oeuvre, which includes more than 7,200 reviews.

Ebert published a final blog post April 2, writing that his cancer had returned but he was still watching movies and would continue writing. His final words in the post: “So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I’ll see you at the movies.”

Thank you, Roger, for allowing us to be on the journey with you. You’ll never be forgotten. And we will see you at the movies.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Experiencing life’s fragile nature

It's easy to forget how fragile life can be — how fragile we all are.

I was reminded of this fragility earlier this year when I spent a few days in the hospital. There were so many things wrong with me, my family doctor thought it best to admit me.

After three full days of blood tests, an IV in each arm, a CT scan and beaucoup medication I was able to head home. I had been diagnosed with a fever, viral infection, strep throat and swollen ankles and joints — the latter of which the disease specialist called post-streptococcal reactive arthritis.

For months after my stay at the hospital, which came at the beginning of May, I had to see a rheumatologist, a joint doctor. From there, I had more tests — my blood toxicity still high — and even had to see a cardiologist to make sure my heart was not affected from the strep.

I was on multiple medications for weeks, steroids almost until Labor Day.

The fragility of my body was tested. My ecosystem had been compromised. It wasn't until later in the summer when I finally felt back to normal.

This experience was the first real wake up call to the fragility of life — my life.

I am thankful for each day I wake up. I have been trying to eat, exercise and sleep better. You only get one body, one life.

Hospital viewing

The next time I really witnessed the fragility of life was just after Thanksgiving.

On Nov. 30, my friends and I were given a rare opportunity to witness a surgery or two at Toledo Hospital.

We had bid on an auction item at a charity event over the summer. The item included viewing a surgery and having a steak dinner with the surgeon. We decided to pool our money and bid on the item, which we would find out later that we won.

What this thoracic surgeon and his team of trained specialists do is nothing short of miraculous. Each day, they put on scrubs and save lives. I can't say the same about my life; I design newspapers and write movie reviews.

My friends and I checked in and got scrubbed up around noon on that Friday. Our first surgery we witnessed was a "routine" pacemaker battery change.

The pacemaker expert took us aside and talked to us about pacemakers, how they work and how important they are.

After the surgeon made his small incision below the woman's left collarbone, he showed us the pacemaker and prepared to replace it with a fully charged unit. After he disconnected the old one, we noticed the woman's heart rate flatline on the moment. This was only for a few seconds but we all looked cautiously at one another.

Tim and I. 
Having masks on, all we could see of each other were enlarged eyes, not quite sure what to make of this flatlined heartbeat.

The doctor them plugged in the new pacemaker and the heartbeat continued up again. He later told us, he would only have been concerned if the heartbeat didn't return within a minute or two.

He then sewed her up and the first surgery was done.

Since we hadn't really eaten that day yet, the doctor told us to go eat and return for the next surgery, which he promised was less routine.

Three more friends would join us after lunch, but it was very neat for the three of us (Tim, Sue and I) to eat in scrubs in the cafeteria. We felt cool and important — an episode of "Grey's Anatomy" was playing in my head.

The next surgery would be life-changing for the woman receive and, quite honestly, for us watching it.

She had been a smart for more than half a century and a cancerous, baseball-sized tumor had developed in her left lower lung lobe. After showing us the CT scan results, one of the doctors told us the woman may need her whole left lung removed in order to stop the cancer. Although, he said he hoped they only need to remove the lower lobe.

After waiting for a while for the patient to be knocked out, the surgeon returned and it was time to open her up.

Before he started, the surgeon selected what music he wanted to listen to during surgeon. He went to Pandora radio and select the "Cher radio" channel. My friends and I smiled at one another.

For the next hour, we watched. The surgeon went in through the woman's left side — through her ribs. He pulled them apart and put a clamp to hold them open. He began cutting and his search for the tumor began.

With each step, he explained to the six of us what he was doing and why.

The doctors are ready: My friends Cliff, Luke, Spencer, Tim and I. 
After much investigation, he and the other doctor assisting him decided the whole lung would need to be removed.

The anesthesiologist pulled us aside at one point and explained everything she and her aid were doing, including their use of a double-lumen endotracheal tube to control the woman's breathing and anesthesia. (Read more about the tube.)

Once the lung was removed, the surgeon allowed us to look into the cavity and pointed out various parts of the body, including some of the arteries.

He then stitched her up, as Cher continued to serenade in the background.

That was our experience. The room of specialists still could not understand who we were — just non-medical observers for the day. They mostly have students or other specialists in the room observing.

I'd like to thank that surgeon, his team and the hospital for letting us witness something truly miraculous. It was a normal day for them, but an extraordinary day for us.

I hope that woman realizes her fragility and the second chance she has been given. We all don't get a second chance.

I'm thankful for every day I wake up. And I'm trying to make sure I don't visit the hospital again as a patient any time soon.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My predictions: 83rd Academy Awards (updated)

I have been following the race to Oscar Sunday since September, and I'm ready to make my predictions in all 24 categories. (Update: I correctly predicted 15/24 categories, a 60 percent accuracy, down slightly from last year.)

Best Picture √ Correct
“Black Swan” Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
“The Fighter” David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
“Inception” Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
“The Kids Are All Right” Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
“The King's Speech” Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
“127 Hours” Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
“The Social Network” Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ce├ín Chaffin, Producers
“Toy Story 3” Darla K. Anderson, Producer
“True Grit” Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
“Winter's Bone" Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My predictions: Golden Globe Awards 2011 (updated)

Originally posted on The Gold Knight Blog

It's time for bacchanalian party of the year: the Golden Globe Awards. Ricky Gervais is the ringleader for the second year of an evening where celebrities eat and, notably, drink — an awards show without the required gravitas. Last year Gervais was the first host in 15 years for the show by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Here are my predictions (marked in blue and winners highlighted **) for the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards. Enjoy and feel free to leave comments.

Josh Duhamel, Katie Holmes and Blair Underwood announced the noms in December. "The King's Speech" received seven nominations, "The Fighter" and "The Social Network" six.