April 30, 2005
Off the road again.
What is wrong with this country when we can't get a stretch of Texas highway named after Willie Nelson without politicians becoming, well, political?
Our political world has become a game of "by finding fault with others I can make myself look good," no matter what stupidity or harm occurs as a result.
People are dumb. Politicians are worse. I'm gonna rename my driveway "Willie Nelson Court."
Unless Mrs. Popping Culture filibusters.
Once again, the headline says it all.
Time to lighten things up around here with a little cat-on-dog violence.
I think this qualifies as a hate crime under the new laws.
Message from the vet this morning said the latest tests showed some goofy electrolyte readings and they're changing the fluids they're giving Elwood. The vet said that should "take care of the problem."
I'm not sure what he meant by that but he didn't elaborate. Further updates as events warrant.
April 29, 2005
It's always something.
So much for the happy weekend.
Prayer vigils starting now.
Mrs. Popping Culture took Elwood the cat back to the vet. He has liver damage. They are keeping him over the weekend to see if they can do anything for him.
Mrs. Popping Culture didn't tell me too much but she was sad. She brought Elwood back home so I could see him before returning him to the veterinarian's office.
I guess there's no good time for something like this, but I have to point out that certain irony. After all, we are waiting on tests to see if I'm going to live or die.
The veterinarian said it might cost about $300 - $400, which of course we don't have, but you have to try. If cancer has taught me anything, it's that you have to try. You don't give up on anything. Let cancer or liver damage take things from you if they are going to, but you don't give up no matter what it costs and no matter if you end up eating ravioli from a can. The last several months have locked me in a "don't give an inch" mentality, so I'd probably find a way even if it cost $4,000.
Anyway, I just got the news. Elwood just left the house to go back. I'm not sure whether I'm going to cry or start breaking things. Suddenly Mexican food isn't as high of a priority.
Elwood is a good cat.
Speaking of Mexican food.
An extra credit burrito shut down a Mexican school. True story.
A student prepared a 30-inch burrito, apparently for some kind of extra credit project (I can only imagine what class this was for), and wrapped it in a white t-shirt to keep it warm.
You guessed it! A "concerned citizen" saw the kid haul the burrito to school and reported it as a "suspiciously concealed item."
In the words of the story, "Police were called. The school was locked down. Adjacent streets were closed and law officers were perched on roofs with weapons."
It all got settled pretty quickly, but we are left with some great quotes:
“The kid was sitting there as I’m describing this (citizen report of a student with a suspicious package) and he’s thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, they’re talking about my burrito.’”
“We’ve trained for incidents just like this — the training just kicked in,” said Sgt. Jim Schoeffel of the Clovis Police Department. [What type of training exactly goes into burrito scare preparation?]
And this gem just caps it off...
Russell said “98 percent” of the parents were understanding and supportive of school officials, but “we had a handful that were very verbal and one had to be escorted away by police.”
Popping Cancer Update: Good News and Bad News
I have good news and bad news, and they are both the same news.
The doctor called. My CATscan is scheduled for Tuesday morning. This is bad in the sense that it will be a while before we find out if the new chemotherapy has made any difference. It is also bad because of the yucky contrast you have to drink before the scan. Tastes like chalk.
The good news is I get a weekend off. I'm getting a little strength back and if I can stay healthy it might be nice to feel good for a couple three days for a change.
So this update is a mixed bag. I know we're all anxious about these next test results, but here we are with a free weekend. We might as well enjoy it. I, for one, plan on eating Mexican food.
Something to think about while we wait for the doctor to call.
Popping Culture Legal Tip of the Day
If you are arrested and sent to jail, and you send a letter to the judge asking for leniency, make sure the envelope doesn't contain any leaves of marijuana. The legal system tends to frown on that sort of thing.
April 28, 2005
American Idol scandal du jour.
I don't know why I care about these things.
Bo Bice was arrested twice in the past four years on drug charges! Neat.
I actually said this to someone today.
"Other than sometimes being unable to breathe, I feel pretty good."
Popping Cancer Update
Well, we've finished off two more three-week rounds of chemotherapy and now it's time to see if it made a difference.
My oncologist is scheduling a CATscan even as you read. I should be able to get in and get scanned in the next day or two. This is an important scan, since we're running out of options if this brand of chemo didn't work.
I'll let you know when the scan is and what the results are as soon as I know something. In the meantime, I could use all the prayer/good karma/happy thoughts/large cash settlements you can send my way. I've been having a little trouble breathing lately. Once or twice a day I have to conciously breathe in and out, which is troubling. Sometimes when I wake up at night I'm making an eerie rasping noise from somewhere in my lungs.
Still, it reminds me I'm alive, and it certainly beats the alternative, which is not breathing at all. Nyquil and Dayquil help the breathing, so maybe I just picked up a little bug.
Popping Culture Healthwatch Tip of the Day
That is, unless you can take 50,000 volts.
Via Obscure Store.
Minneapolis police chief proposes requiring beggars to be licensed.
Begging without a government license would lead to a fine and jail time. Neat.
No word yet on when the construction of the concentration camps will begin.
April 27, 2005
Time to show off your creativity.
I am enamored of the exploding German toads story below.
Here's where I need your help. Imagine that the Fox network got the rights to tell the story in a dramatic 2-hour movie. What would the title be and who would star?
Ribbit! Terror in Hamburg! (or) When Toads Attack!
Either way it has to star Hasselhoff.
It could be a sign.
I LOVE this headline.
"Exploding Toads Puzzle German Scientists."
I don't even want to read the story that follows, I'm so taken by the possibilities of that headline.
UPDATE: Ok, I read the first paragraph, and it's a dream come true:
More than 1,000 toads have puffed up and exploded in a Hamburg pond in recent weeks, and scientists still have no explanation for what's causing the combustion, an official said Wednesday.
I love this story! I'm going to read it in small doses, so don't ruin it for me.
What a night to be a Yankee.
A-Rod rang up ten (yes, ten) RBI in the game by his lonesome, and the Rebels don't like it one bit.
By contrast, the Evil Empire is lapping it up. 10 RBI, 3 Homers, one grand slam. That's a great week for some players. Of course, those other players don't make 25 million.
Still, the Yankees continue to contend for basement status in the division. And the beat goes on.
As a Blue Jays fan, it's gonna be a long summer. The Jays are actually a decent team this year, but they're stuck in the division with big spenders NY and Boston, along with a resurgent Orioles team. Long, long summer.
April 26, 2005
It's the end of the world as we know it, and I'm not sure how to feel.
Sign of impending apocalypse #314:
You can now get a Clay Aiken credit card. Gain points redeemable, I presume, for testosterone treatments.
Visual to go with the updates: this is Elwood the cat.
Popping Cancer Update: tests coming!
Elwood seems the same so far today.
Tomorrow, I meet with the oncologist for a standard check-up following chemotherapy. This is when we'll schedule CAT scans to check out our progress. Tests will probably take place Friday or Saturday and I'll let you know as soon as I know anything.
I wish I had more of an update for you. Other than that, I'm just a bit wiped out today and anticipate napping much of the afternoon away.
I am DRAGGING today. Maybe I didn't get enough sleep.
Maybe I've been at the keyboard too long or maybe weeks of the same crazy routines are finally catching up to me.
Bah, I'm probably imagining it.
April 25, 2005
Remember, it could always be worse.
Update on cat and owner.
Elwood the cat ate some soft food today. Not a lot, but some.
Also, he apparently peed A LOT, this for the first time in at least a couple days. Mrs. Popping Culture reported to me that he peed all over the corner of one of the bedrooms. She takes this as a good sign and seemed pleased.
Given her reaction, I am considering wetting the bed.
I may have turned the corner on the joint pain (I can actually get out of the bed now), but I'm still very sore and stiff. Still, maybe by tomorrow I'll be able to count myself once more among the living.
The trick is just to keep going. It passes, it returns, it passes. Such is life.
Please don't, Matt.
Matt Groening is quoted here reflecting on The Simpsons 350th episode.
He said, "I think the show has almost reached its halfway point, which means another 17 years."
Maybe he's joking, maybe he just means they have a season or two left. Comments?
Elwood the cat
When I first started getting sick in earnest, say around January (we knew I had cancer late in November but treatment didn't begin for a month or so), I remember saying a few times that I just hoped nothing happened with the pets while I was sick. Mrs. Popping Culture had enough to worry about.
Well, even though I'm in the rough day of joint pain and shall probably spend all day in bed and in various degrees of pain all day, I am thinking about Elwood the cat.
Elwood is sick. For about four days he hasn't moved. He barely eats and he hasn't gone to the bathroom from what we can tell. We know he has leukemia, which has previously been dormant. The vet gave him some antibiotics on Friday, but no response so far.
He just stays on the floor and doesn't move. Sometimes he mewls. And there I am in the bed, not able to do anything.
Elwood was one of two pets that were ever JUST mine. I grew up on a sort of mini-farm and we always had horses and a cow and dogs and cats and birds and fish of various sorts. They were family pets.
I left home after high school but came back shortly after during my first bout with cancer. Finally, I was well enough to get moving again and I took a job with a local church as their Minister to Youth. I lived alone next door to the church in the parsonage.
These were the years I was courting the woman who is now Mrs. Popping Culture and it became clear to me in short order that I wanted to spend my life with her. This meant that if I ever wanted any pets that were JUST mine, the time to strike had come, before I could do anything silly like propose marriage.
I went to the pet store and bought two identical tiny black kittens, Jake and Elwood. When I bought them, they could both fit in the palm of one of my hands. Now, in my condition, I can hardly lift Elwood, he's gotten so big (thanks to Iams cat food!). Not overweight, just big, with a beautiful black coat. Jake has since passed (in another sad story) from pneumonia, and now we have a replacement cat, Polly, who has been with us for years as well as Roxy the dog.
Still, I feel a special connection with Elwood because I redeemed him from the pet store and for a few months he was mine alone. I'm probably being over-dramatic because every joint in my body, literally, hurts as I type this, including my fingers.
But it's easy to deal with my own pain. All I have to do is suffer. Just get through each day. I can handle my own pain. But the suffering of children and animals is intolerable to me. This is a bad time for all of this.
Elwood doesn't seem to be suffering great pain, but you can't really tell with pets. They can't tell you where it hurts, and it is clear he isn't comfortable.
I keep thinking that if the leukemia has caught up with him at last, and something needs to happen to put him out of suffering, I won't even be there to say goodbye at the vets. I'll be home in bed.
Cancer is a jerk.
So, that's what I'm thinking about today.
April 24, 2005
Angel from Above
by Hua Chen
Only in a dream can one visualize the images of serenity, music and beauty illustrated in the works of Hua Chen. The heavenly women featured in Chen's luminous paintings exist in a mystical world. Using distinctive shades of pastel colors, the artist invites you into his own imaginary world filled with ageless beauty.
Hua Chen was born in 1952 in Shanghai, People's Republic of China. Between the years of 1973 and 1976, Chen earned a Bachelors Degree of Fine Art from the Anhui Teacher's University, Anhui, China. He then went on to attain a Master of Fine Art Degree in sketching, watercolor and oil painting from the Central Institute of the Fine Arts in Beijing, China. Chen has earned several titles and awards including Chairman of Anhui Oil Painting Research Association in China and is member of the Artists Association of China.
After relocating to the United States in the late 1990’s, Chen’s work became well recognized in the United States, resulting in his work being displayed in the national directory, "Artists of Chinese Origin in North America." His one-man shows have been exhibited in Japan, Hawaii, China and the United States.
Biographical information from Addison Gallery.
In which the author reveals certain horrors about his taste in music.
Loggins and Messina are touring again after nearly 30 years apart, and I'm excited. I don't know if they'll come within striking distance of where I live or if I'll even be healthy enough to consider it, but in my world, Loggins and Messina re-uniting is a big deal.
Go ahead, let me have it. I am a proud Kenny Loggins fan. I LOVE Return to Pooh Corner and Conviction of the Heart. Together, they did Your Momma Don't Dance, which is one of those songs nobody lists as a favorite, but everybody knows.
So the truth is out. While we're here I should admit as well that I own four Enya CDs and my favorite musician of all time is James Taylor. James Taylor transcends other music in my mind and so I rarely list him in musical discussions. He's just above it - the consumate songwriter/storyteller.
Most folks you meet these days who know JT lump him in there with Kenny Loggins anyway, so I guess it's no great additional confession.
Yes, I am the oldest 36-year-old you ever met. Mrs. Popping Culture is barely out of her 20s and still listens to alternative music, which I in my dotage refer to as "alternative TO music." She likes Beck and U2 and Franz Ferdinand and Gwen Steffani. She's all cool and stuff, my wife. She has an MP3 player. I can usually work the CD machine if the PLAY button is clearly marked.
I remember being burned openly and publically while watching South Park one night and the South Park Planetarium, in an effort to make a joke at how boring the planetarium is, had a "Laser Kenny Loggins and Laser James Taylor" show to bore and horrify the kids.
Still, those are my two favorites and I can't change who I am. Be kind in comments.
Of course, I'm also a fan of Tori Amos and John Meyer (who, frankly, is JT in the 2000s) as well, but I doubt that can save me after this.
April 23, 2005
If I could just set this up in front of the toilet, I'd be set.
A sort-of cancer reflection, I think.
I first posted this way back on January 11. I didn't know the connection then, and I don't know the connection now, but for some reason tonight this post forced itself into my head again. I re-post if for you now. Maybe you can make connections.
Some things stay.
When I was a kid, maybe 8 or 9, I took a hammer from my father's tools. I wasn't supposed to touch it but I took it anyway and went out into the neighborhood with it one Saturday morning.
I don't think it was a sin, mind you. I am a firm believer in the idea that a little mischief is necessary for a kid to grow up healthy. You can spot the kids that didn't get into any mischief pretty easily once they've grown to be adults.
That is beside the point.
I took the hammer and found a pile of rubbish. The men with trucks and bulldozers were building a new housing development not far from the development I lived in and, of course, they were off on Saturday.
So I hit whatever trash I could find with the hammer. Just to see what would happen, I guess.
On one particular swing, I missed badly whatever I was swinging at. The hammer carried through and I, not able to control its weight, hit myself in the shin, hard.
My leg was bleeding and pressure didn't make it stop. So I went home.
When it healed, there was a little crater-shaped indention in my leg that remains to this day. For some reason, tonight I was thinking about cancer, and some of the stories from my own life, and I found myself subconciously running my finger over that indention.
I don't know why I feel compelled to write this, or why I think it belongs with the cancer posts, but I do and it does.
No blogging for two hours.
It's afternoon naptime.
Popping Cancer Reflection
I borrow this from Norman Cousins, written in his Anatomy of an Illness:
"My first experience in coping with a bleak medical diagnosis came at the age of ten, when I was sent to a tuberculosis sanitarium. I was terribly frail and underweight, and it seemed logical to suppose I was in the grip of a serious malady. Later it was discovered that the doctors had mistakenly interpreted normal calcification as TB markings. X-rays at the time were not yet a totally reliable basis for complex diagnosis. In any case, I spent six months at the sanitarium.
"What was most interesting to me about that early experience was that patients divided themselves into two groups: those who were confident they would beat back the disease and be able to resume normal lives, and those who resigned themselves to a prolonged and even fatal illness. Those of us who held to the optimistic view became good friends, involved ourselves in creative activities, and had little to do with the patients who had resigned themselves to the worst. When newcomers arrived at the hospital, we did our best to recruit them before the bleak brigade went to work.
"I couldn't help being impressed with the fact that the boys in my group had a far higher percentage of 'discharged as cured' outcomes than the kids in the other group. Even at the age of ten, I was being philosophically conditioned; I became aware of the power of the mind in overcoming disease. The lessons I learned about hope at that time played an important part in my complete recovery and in the feelings I have had since about the preciousness of life."
Some days (like today, when the three-day trial of untouchable joint pain has begun) it's hard to keep away from the bleak brigade, but I'm trying. It's worth the effort, and a few days in bed with pain don't compare to a chart marked "discharged as cured."
This is the culture you live in: time for Saturday's dose of reality.
April 22, 2005
On when not to play it where it lies.
Here's a good time to take a penalty stroke:
When Parris saw where the ball landed, he wasn't tempted to remove it from the gator's tail. He put down a new ball and, in compliance with course rules, wasn't penalized a stroke for the drop.
Story here. Via The Obscure Store.
And now the minor bad news.
Apparently I missed Tori Amos on the Tonight Show last night. Tori is my favorite.
You folks have to tell me about these things.
Afternoon naps are the hidden graces of cancer. Except on those days like the ones I expect starting tomorrow, the three days or so of joint pain, I am usually able to get in a decent afternoon nap. The only pleasant dreams I have any more come when I am able to get deep enough into an afternoon nap, but generally the dog barking or some other distraction means they are just restful daydreaming times. In any case, the afternoon nap is the best and occasionally only good part of my day.
And so I offer this bit of poetry/creative prose for today's brain candy:
It is like finding a hole in the universe. A door nobody else knows about. You swing it open and crawl through into the streets of a small town. You pass the barbershop. The pharmacy. The bank. The grocery. Maybe a row of grain elevators on the edge of town. All the houses are white. People are sitting out on their porches as if they've been expecting you. They wave and say a few words. Some ask you to come up and visit for a time. They want to know what you were doing before you fell asleep and what you plan on doing when you wake up. They're fascinated by it all. Sleep is the sole religion of this town. Icons of their reclining saints are everywhere. On Sundays even the infirm gather their pillows and blankets and walk to church to lie down on the pews and worship their great and slumbering god. It's such a pleasant place, you almost hate to leave.
Popping Cancer Reminder: scrolling not required.
I got another email from a dear concerned citizen who sometimes doesn't want to hear about the American Idol rumor-du-jour (if you can imagine) and just wants to keep up with my health.
There is a list of topics in the right sidebar. Simply click on the top topic, "cancer," and you'll be taken to a list of all the cancer-related posts, starting with the most recent.
Oh, good... yet another Paula Abdul controversy.
An ex-contestant is claiming he had sex with Abdul in the guest room of her house, that she paid some of his expenses and promised to fund his career to the tune of $2 million. When is this season gonna end?
American Idol: Cloying to watch, but a gift to pop culture bloggers. This season alone we've had three Paula scandals (I'm counting the hit-and-run charges), a top-twelve contestant drop out, and domestic charges against Scott Savol. Neat.
Those Vancouver police are right on top of safety issues.
Here's the headline: "Police caution against lying in the road."
And since it's short, here's the whole story, in case you're too lazy to click:
VANCOUVER: Police in a Vancouver suburb have issued an unusual warning to drivers: If you run out of fuel, do not lay down on the road to get assistance.
Police were alerted to a man's body laying along the Trans Canada Highway in the predawn darkness only to discover he was "quite alive", but that his car had run out of gas and he "wanted to attract someone's attention".
"Guess it worked, but police don't really recommend this method," the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Burnaby, British Columbia, said in a press release.
The man's car was towed, but no charges were filed.
Link via Dave.
This might be worth a look when released.
Cable network A&E is working on a two-hour documentary discussing the friendly and occasionally competitive relationship between directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Maybe you've heard of them. Info here.
Clumsy cop on can caps commoner.
I thought of that headline myself to go with this story of a San Antonio cop who dropped his gun while in a men's room stall, causing it to go off twice, hitting a man who was washing his hands in the leg. Internal affairs is investigating.
I bet they'll prefer my headline.
April 21, 2005
Paula Abdul claims she is not on drugs; says her behavior is the result of a rare neurological disorder.
Oh, really, Paula? Then explain that video with the cartoon cat.
From Popping Culture's "Guess the Chinese Dish" desk.
First one to name this popular Chinese delicacy gets, well, nothing - except maybe a craving for supper. And you'll be hungry again in half an hour anyway.
Baby Bob TALKING E-Postcards!
You LOVE Baby Bob and you don't even know it.
Baby Bob is that talking baby on the Quiznos commercials. Now, you can send your friends a Baby Bob Talking Postcard by clicking here.
April 20, 2005
What kind of American English do you speak?
Find out here. I was interested in this because my formative years were spent at the top of a mountain in upstate NY, my teens and early twenties in Hampton Roads, Virginia, then a stint in Louisville and now in Youngstown, OH. My results:
Your Linguistic Profile:
55% General American English
5% Upper Midwestern
UPDATE: While there, I also took their "How Long Will You Live?" test. Turns out, I'm good to 82 years old! Suck on that, cancer! Of course, I had to leave the "Do you have a series of aggressive, metastisized tumors growing in and near your lungs right now, on which no form of treatment has made a decent impact?" question blank.
Let me tell you why I'm re-posting this picture.
I'm re-posting it, not only because it's a cool picture and shows great imagination, but also because I thought....
What if we tried again, using THIS cat:
Popping Cancer Update (under the influence of chemo drugs, so hold on)
Maybe it's more of a reflection.
My struggle is that I'm not sure what I'm hoping for right now. Chemotherapy (which is not quite over yet, but I feel a little functional and this is in my head and I want to get it out) was its typical horrific self today, with two special additions.
One was sudden nausea, like running into a wall unexpectedly. It's like when you cough suddenly and didn't feel it coming on, except that it's the most horribly productive cough in your life. Worse, if you haven't kept nibbling all day, it might be non-productive.
The other was that, unexpectedly, everything got loud. It was as if you were listening to headphones at level 3 and someone turned them up to 10 (or 11 for Spinal Tap fans). My dog was three rooms away, and her squeaky toy sounded like a megaphone going off INSIDE MY HEAD. Then it would just go away. I would have asked Roxy (the dog, name short for Rock Star, which is in turn short for Punk Rock Star) to stop squeaking, but I doubt she would have understood. What could I expect from someone who has worms in her poop? (NOTE: yes, Mrs. Popping Culture is taking her to the vet tomorrow. We thought the chemotherapy ranked higher on the priorities list today.)
Tomorrow, I get the shot that increases white cell production and causes about three days of constant, debilitating joint agony.
I say all that to say this. My life sucks on chemo days and the days after, and I don't mean that in a hum-de-dum having-a-bad-day sense. I mean that in the "how much more of this can I take before I give up" sense.
Granted, this is coming on the day of the pain, and with a week, my spirits will rise as my health rises.
Still, I look ahead to the scans and there are three possibilities:
1 - No change and we go back to the previous type of chemo,
2 - No change and we are done. I feel better for a few months, then start the dying process.
3 - The chemo works and the tumors have started to shrink.
Option One is not good. That chemo tore me up in what I believe are permanent ways. There was clear evidence of direct damage to my bladder or kidneys. I don't want to do it and I might not have a choice.
Option two sounds nice on painful days (A few to several months of feeling strong and good sound wonderful. I don't remember the last time I woke up and felt GOOD.) but then there's the slow painful death thing.
Option three sounds wonderful. The chemo is working! Huzzah! It's naive and silly to expect that it cured me in just two treatments, but I'm allowed, as a Baptist Pastor, to expect a miracle. The problem is that likely this option means more days like today. Today sucks. Cancer is a jerk. Given the option today, I would go to Hawaii with my wife, make love on the beach and eat lobster for a few months and see what happens. This is why we don't make decisions anywhere near chemo days.
Still, tonight I will say my prayers. I don't know what I'm rooting for here, other than "Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done."
Theme of the message: not even pastors have answers sometimes.
Closing: We all have work to do. This is the work I must do and if it continues, I will do it no matter how much it hurts, even unto death. This is the work I must do right now, and fear is just fine and natural as long as I don't let it keep me from my work, yes?
Homework: Get the hell out of bed tomorrow. Don't worry about the next day. Do whatever it takes to live in the day you're in.
Can you stump the Subservient Chicken?
Thanks to Kimm for the link.
April 19, 2005
More Brain Candy
Because I feel like something light and hopeful:
You can take the moon by the spoonful
or in capsules every two hours.
It's useful as a hypnotic and sedative
and besides it relieves
those who have had too much philosophy.
A piece of moon in your purse
works better than a rabbit's foot.
Helps you find a lover
or get rich without anyone knowing,
and it staves off doctors and clinics.
You can give it to children like candy
when they've not gone to sleep,
and a few drops of moon in the eyes of the old
helps them to die in peace.
Put a new leaf of moon
under your pillow
and you'll see what you want to.
Always carry a little bottle of air of the moon
to keep you from drowning.
Give the key to the moon
to prisoners and the disappointed.
For those who are sentenced to death
and for those who are sentenced to life
there is no better tonic than the moon
in precise and regular doses.
-- Poemas sueltos, 1981
translated by W. S. Merwin
My mother-in-law cared for her husband every day while he was dying of cancer.
The trick now (and I'm doing all I can) is to keep her daughter from doing the same thing. This poem reminded me of my mother-in-law, or at least some of what she must have gone through.
How did you survive the frost
knowing the book would close,
music would stop, a pulse would quit,
and you would be left in a room
surrounded by empty chairs?
Six long months with death for drapes
your hands were always drawing them.
Back and forth, the steel screeched
as if it were an oil rig
plumbing a desert for hope.
You messed with even valances,
tugging at puffs as if this skirt
could ever hang over the going bone.
Inviting in the hiding sun,
blue batiks of fading skies
becomes commitment's old career.
You sign forever in the sand;
someone kicks it in your eyes.
All palms are idle in the end,
tortilla husks that speak
of curdled, passing meals.
Little scraps of ivory moons
bequeathed to soil, then covered up.
Rage drops anchors in the mud
and dying sails the fitful sea,
testing every rope we own.
You kept his college photograph
in every room you wandered through
touched the glass as if to print it with a wish.
Fed him ice chips, spoons of yogurt,
watched the drips deliver fluid to the sand,
packed his watch and wedding ring
took it home and stored it there
where every clock had lost its dial.
Adoring him was not a chore
even when his face was ash.
- Janet Buck
Chemotherapy Wednesday, so I'll be blogging late, if at all. In the mean time, try and make sense of this:
Someone please explain this to me.
How could you possibly justify giving a written reprimand to a high school teacher, when all he did was offer extra credit to students who observed "Get Naked Day" in his classroom?
Oh, wait. I think I know.
Quote of the day.
"A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for."
- Grace Murray Hopper
Christening pictures are back from the half-hour photo place!
Coco Arquette is officially whatever you become when you are christened. Word from Gawker is that baby Coco remained surprisingly crispy, even after being dunked in the baptismal font!
Reason to Live #34
Monday Night Football is moving to ESPN in 2006. Maybe we'll finally get some announcers.
It cost ESPN $1.1 billion a year over eight years to nab the Monday classic.
Al Michaels and John Madden are fine announcers, but are getting up there and Madden, while still being my all-time favorite, feels like he's mailing it in sometimes.
In addition, NBC is back in the football market, grabbing the Sunday night games.
April 18, 2005
Popping Cancer Update: Officially worried now, heading quickly toward scared.
I'm going to bed now (9:40 p.m. Monday night). Tomorrow is Tuesday. Wednesday is the last chemotherapy treatment of this cycle. Next week I get scans done.
These scans aren't like the other ones. If these don't show some progress against these stupid tumors, there aren't any good options left on the table. What we really, really need is for next week's scans to show some tumor shrinkage or we're in rather a large bit of trouble.
It's funny how easy it has been to feel miserable during chemotherapy, telling myself I'm getting better. It's not long now until we find out for sure.
I guess we all walk a thin line between living and dying every day, but, my goodness, my thin line comes with dates attached now.
So, I'm a little concerned to hear the results of next week's scans. It's funny, but I don't think I'm scared to die (or, what can be a bigger fear for some, scared to live). I think I'm scared of the unknown. Give me something to fight against and I'll be ok. Just don't leave me alone without knowing what's going on.
Cancer is a jerk.
Whoa... a movie with Dustin Hoffman AND Warren Beatty? This flick is gonna rock!
Ad via Defamer.
Well, we know how safe it is in a crash, anyway. Make that crashes.
An 81-year-old woman who was shopping for a car got behind the wheel of a brand new Honda Accord and "apparently stepped on the wrong pedal." The car "shot backward," hitting her husband, a salesman, a car and a tree before running into a wall.
Quote we could have figured out for ourselves:
"She must have panicked," said Joe Sica, sales manager at Honda of Fort Myers.
Reason to live #217
Sam's Club sells a 5-pound Hershey bar.
Music to make your ears bleed. Bette Davis! William Shatner!
I just polished off this book:
It's called Hollywood Hi-Fi and describes "over 100 of the most outrageous celebrity recordings ever." There is a sad trend in Hollywood that makes film stars suddenly go nuts and think they can sing. What we have in Hollywood Hi-Fi is a collection of stars who were at the height of their popularity (and arrogance, no doubt) and looked to cash in by cutting an album, completely ignoring the important fact that they had no actual singing skills.
I should have suspected something when the book was given to me by a Professor of Church History.
This collection of truly regrettable recordings includes descriptions of albums cut by Marlon Brando, Walter Matthau, Sylvester Stallone, Telly Savalas, Buddy Hackett (yes!), Boris Karloff, Clint Eastwood, President John F. Kennedy, Fabio and Hugh Downs.
The authors, however, save their most blistering reviews for two stars of horrific sound recording: William Shatner and Bette Davis.
Long-time Popping Culture readers will remember a contest held here once where points were awarded for sitting through the video of Shatner reading/singing/performing/defacing Elton John's "Rocket Man." Sadly, the link no longer works and I can only find audio links. The mind-scrambling effect is lost if you can SEE Shatner split into three Shatners and demolish the timeless classic in stereo.
The beauty of Hollywood Hi-Fi is in it's descriptions of bad singing, so let me treat you to the high points from the chapters on Shatner and Davis:
On Shatner's "The Transformed Man":
"'The Transformed Man' is an ego trip of intergalactic dimensions."
"'MR. TAMBOURINE MAAAAAAN!!!' he bellows, in the identical line reading he used for his famous riposte from Star Trek II: 'KHAAAAAAN!!!'"
"For all of Shatner's self-proclaimed versatility, every cut follows the same pattern: he begins in a groggy, halting delivery, as if he'd just swallowed a whole bottle of Nytol... then gradually works up a head of steam, until at last, he's howling his lines at a volume that could raise an echo on the moon."
"We must give our coveted Hubris Award to the duo 'Hamlet'/'It Was A Very Good Year,' in which Shatner pummels both the greatest soliloquy in the English language (Shakespeare's 'To... Be... Or! Not!... TO BEEEE!') and a signature song of the greatest pop singer of the twentieth century, Frank Sinatra."
As bad as all that sounds, the authors take a special delight in the musical mis-stylings of Bette Davis. I hesitate to even try and imagine what her singing voice must sound like on "Two's Company," the album that garners the most abuse, but it must be truly horrific because the critics just wipe the floor with Davis over three full pages, more than any other "singer" earns.
Some excerpts from their review of Bette Davis as a songstress:
"Bette Davis was a glorious combination of everything we look for in an artist: a famous name in a field completely unrelated to music, an astonishingly awful singing voice, a weakness for tackling the most outlandishly inappropriate material, and the type of elephantine Hollywood ego that made her truly believe she could do anything and woe to any peon who told her otherwise."
"It's called 'Life Is A Lonely Thing' and you will be, too, if you play it for your friends."
"She declared, 'They haven't had a hit in a long time, and if they could have done "Charlotte" with me, it would have been the biggest hit IN THE WORLD!' Bette Davis always insisted that her bizarre singles would be massive hits, although none ever were. To find out why, pick up the compilation LP 'Bette Davis Sings.' It is highly recommended for Davis fans, drag queens, or anyone who is seeking a nonchemical way to peel paint."
"Ignoring her many advisors' warnings, Bette agreed to do it because she hoped to show the world she had talents beyond being the grande dame of cinematic bitchery: 'The New Bette Davis! She yodels! She jumps about to music!'"
"Vernon Duke later said of his beloved ingenue, 'Bette had four notes to her voice, all of them bad,' and he wasn't kidding."
"One critic claimed that Bette in her Sadie getup reminded him of a female impersonator."
"Critic Walter Kerr assessed Bette's musical debut quite succinctly when he wrote, 'It's a lot like listening to Beethoven's Fifth played on a pocket comb. You marvel that it can be done at all. And five minutes is about enough of it.'"
"According to biographer James Spada, during one rehearsal, her understudy tried to compliment her by saying that she had done a song 'just like Rex Harrison,' and Bette snapped, 'Don't be silly! Rex Harrison can't sing!' She also couldn't remember her lines or lyrics, at one performance turning to the orchestra leader in mid-song and demanding, 'Where the hell am I?'"
Pure gold. And I've only been able to give you the very tip of the iceberg.
My only complaint about this collection/coffee table book/discussion starter (may God have mercy on your soul if you use it as a reference book), is that I can't actually HEAR some of these dismal tunes. They paint such an ugly picture that it's a shame not to be able to actually listen along.
April 17, 2005
The Son of Man
by Rene Magritte
"The Son of Man" came about from a friend’s request for a self-portrait of Rene Magritte whose comment on it was that, “Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.”
I've finally found my calling.
Jimmy Kimmel is looking for one more staffer to watch TV all day and gather humorous clips for his opening monologue each night.
I'm virtually doing this already, thanks to the cancer bug.
The job pays "about $500 or $600 a week," which is more than disability from a church job. A lot more. Still, I'd probably have to relocate. Also, I presume the job only lasts as long as the show itself.
I hate to interrupt your Sunday...
...but I just got a great idea for a crime drama.
April 16, 2005
Rideaccidents.com bills itself as "the world's single most comprehensive, detailed, updated, accurate, and complete source of amusement ride accident reports and related news."
Via Boing Boing.
Popping Cancer Update: Eye of the beholder.
I got a DVD in the mail a few days ago from the school I attend, Colegate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. My head finally cleared enough from chemotherapy to feel like I could watch it sensibly.
It was full of greetings from students, staff and faculty and was a very touching idea for a gift, especially since I have been so far away from school for so long. None of the people on the DVD seemed to want me to die from cancer, which was nice.
I was struck, however, or maybe reminded, that at CRCDS I am viewed by many of the citizenry as a sort of conservative fundamentalist type.
This always tickles me, since I was thrown out of Virginia for being a liberal.
I think it depends on where I am at the time. At a traditionally left-leaning school like CRCDS (well, traditionally since I've been there), I am a fundamentalist. If I went to a conservative Southern Baptist school like Southern Seminary, the school would probably burst into flames, or more likely I would burst into flames as they burned me for a liberal heretic.
Isn't it interesting how we try to control our environments by using labels? Call Dan a liberal or fundamentalist or whatall and we have him securely quantified. Still, it makes me wonder where I do fall on the spectrum. Maybe I drift or maybe I'm close enough to the middle that both ends see me on the other side.
In any case, it was a touching DVD, one that I'll be watching again as needed.
Somebody said I'd get more visitors if I posted pictures of sexy chicks.
PETA all wet in Brownsville.
Local KFC manager turns the sprinkler system on protesters in meat-eating South Texas town.
“You bunch of crazy animal rights nuts!” he shouted. “You’re not going to win. Not in Brownsville!”
“As far as I’m concerned, they are terrorists. I’m trying to make a living and they are trying to stop my people from making a living,” he said just before cranking the water system at full blast, showering the protesters. To me, there is no difference between them and al-Qaida.” (emphasis mine)
Eric Deardorff, the man inside the chicken suit, was at the receiving end of most of the obscene comments at the intersection.
April 15, 2005
Popping Culture classic
You've seen this picture here before, but it's my all-time favorite, and I could use some cheering up.
Unprecedented combination popping cancer update and brain candy.
Today's poem comes from a writer named Michael Lidington.
It will never appear in Norton, it won't win any awards and, quite frankly, it's not all that well-written when one compares it to some of the classic poems we post here at Popping Culture.
The thing is, when he wrote the poem, Michael was a child. A child with cancer. After a doctor told Michael there was nothing more she could do for him, and left the room in tears, Michael said to his mother, "I never want to be a doctor."
"Why not, Michael?" his mother asked
"Because I never want to have to tell that to a child."
After his cancer went into remission, he wrote the following poem, called "I Won!!!":
The cancer's gone, I'm free once more;
I've decided not to walk through the door.
I'll leave this place when the time is right;
Be it during the day or late at night,
But if I'm not ready, then count on a fight!
My family and friends have helped me through;
A lot of the time, not knowing what to do.
If they only know I'd do the same for them;
They'd understand they're MY life's precious gems.
No one will ever quite understand,
The pain which feeds the pen in my hand.
I know they would,
They wish they could,
But until they do I'm alone in this land.
It's time for my life to get a move on;
To break away from the plague I've carried so long.
It's time for me to live again;
To pull my life around this bend.
Thank you those who worried so;
But I'm not going to die, (I told you so!).
To those who need it, take my hand;
I'll guide you through this savage land.
Michael wrote another poem of note, as well. He wrote it after his cancer came back some time later. It was written for his brother to read at his funeral and contains an important message.
He titled it "Dare":
Twas not there a time,
When a man could be a man?
When a woman could be a woman?
And either one could live without the world?
I see a world with disaster foretold;
I live in a fantasy from times of old
People don't care for silks or gold
No-one's evil, no-one's on parole
I came into this strange world, not knowing up from down,
It's a world of independence where people need to love.
Do what I have done, and challenge the world
Take nothing for granted, and know where you're going
Let go of all your physical restraints, don't rely on anything
This material world won't make it without the love of God.
Many people care for you or else they wouldn't be here for you
Trust me, anything is better than no-one
Wipe your tears, I'm having fun.
Do what I did and accept the challenge of your life.
You see, I beat the challenge. I won.
Soon, I'll be in a better place of no hate or disease
I'm always with you, so I don't want to see one tear on your face
You can beat the world,
So challenge it. I DARE YOU.
Michael Charles Lidington died peacefully at home. He was fifteen years old. At his funeral, he had the last word.
My point all along about this cancer thing is not that you beat it, or that you kill the tumors. It's that you live while you're alive.
(Poems quoted from How to Live Between Office Visits by Bernie Siegel, M.D.)
And from our "News of No Importance" desk.
Paris Hilton is looking for a new partner on The Simple Life, which apparently some people watch. Nicole Richie is looking for greener pastures.
Maybe a season opposite Paris Hilton could be some kind of punishment for a real star.
Don't get Schiavo-ed!
No matter which side you took in the Schiavo case, it's clear that a living will would have concluded the matter toute suite.
With that in mind, I present you this living will template I came across in The Christian Century. It should take care of everything:
"I, (WRITE YOUR NAME HERE), do not want my body to be kept alive after my life is over. Please put a fork in me when I'm done. If I am incapacitated, I forbid all relatives from circulating footage of me on national television and on the Internet. If I'm unable to make medical decisions for myself, please ask (WRITE NAME OF SPOUSE OR TRUSTED LOVED ONE HERE) to make them for me. I don't want this person to kill me, even though I said so while we watched the hospital scenes in Million Dollar Baby. I want this person to reject any life-prolonging treatments if I permanently lose the ability to learn, communicate, sustain relationships and comprehend the world around me.
Like three-fourths of Americans, I believe in heaven. This doesn't mean I want religious extremists to march outside, compare me to Jesus and clamor to enter my bedroom with cups of water. Remind them there is a time to be born and a time to die; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to speak up and a time to butt out. On the off chance that politicians try to seize custody of me, or disparage the best judgement of (REWRITE NAME OF CHOSEN DECISION-MAKER HERE), please ask them to use their time more appropriately and productively. Ask them to improve Medicare and Medicaid.
Finally, please don't fight for my 'right to die.' Remind people that I already have that right. In fact, I have a biological imperative to die, barring any major advances in genetics or Botox. The trick is to live fully, take advantage of modern medicine without getting trapped by it and die at peace."
(Susan A. Neilsen, RNS, March 30)
April 14, 2005
Words fail me.
Time for a joke.
This from Tommy's email:
Four brothers left home for college, and they became successful doctors and lawyers and prospered. Some years later, they chatted after having dinner together. They discussed the gifts they were able to give their elderly mother who lived far away in another city.
The first said "I had a big house built for Mama."
The second said "I had my Mercedes dealer deliver an SL600 to her".
The third said "I had a hundred thousand dollar theater built in the house."
The fourth said, "You know how Mama loved reading the Bible and you know she can't read anymore because she can't see very well. I met this preacher who told me about a parrot that can recite the entire Bible. It took twenty preachers twenty years to teach him. I had to pledge to contribute $100,000 a year for twenty years to the church, but it was worth it. Mama just has to name the chapter and verse and the parrot will recite it."
The other brothers were very impressed.
After the holidays Mom sent out her Thank You notes. She wrote:
To the first son: "Milton, the house you built is so huge. I live in only one room, but I have to clean the whole house. Thanks anyway.
To the second son: "Marvin, I am too old to travel. I stay home; I have my groceries delivered, so I never use the Mercedes. The thought was good. Thanks.
To the third son: "Michael, you gave me an expensive theater with Dolby sound, it could hold 50 people, but all my friends are dead, I've lost my hearing and I'm nearly blind. I'll never use it. Thank you for the gesture just the same.
To the fourth son: "Dearest Melvin, you were the only son to have the good sense to give a little thought to your gift. The chicken was delicious. Thank you."
Sometimes the headline says it all, part deux.
"Harvard Professor Accused Of Trying To Steal Manure From Farmer."
That's pretty sweet.
Idaho’s legislators. Freakin’ idiots! Gosh!
Adfreak points out that both the Idaho Senate and House passed a resolution honoring the creators of the wonderful film Napolean Dynamite ("Are you gonna eat those tots?"), Jared and Jerusha Hess. The flick is based in Preston, Idaho.
Sponsors of the bill said those who didn’t vote for it would be “forever labeled freakin’ idiots.”
UPDATE: Ara had a link to the full resolution, which I have quoted below and is actually worth a read.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 29
BY WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE
1 A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION
2 STATING LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND COMMENDING JARED AND JERUSHA HESS AND THE
3 CITY OF PRESTON FOR THE PRODUCTION OF THE MOVIE "NAPOLEON DYNAMITE."
4 Be It Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Idaho:
5 WHEREAS, the State of Idaho recognizes the vision, talent and creativity
6 of Jared and Jerusha Hess in the writing and production of "Napoleon Dyna-
7 mite"; and
8 WHEREAS, the scenic and beautiful City of Preston, County of Franklin and
9 the State of Idaho are experiencing increased tourism and economic growth; and
10 WHEREAS, filmmaker Jared Hess is a native Idahoan who was educated in the
11 Idaho public school system; and
12 WHEREAS, the Preston High School administration and staff, particularly
13 the cafeteria staff, have enjoyed notoriety and worldwide attention; and
14 WHEREAS, tater tots figure prominently in this film thus promoting Idaho's
15 most famous export; and
16 WHEREAS, the friendship between Napoleon and Pedro has furthered
17 multiethnic relationships; and
18 WHEREAS, Uncle Rico's football skills are a testament to Idaho athletics;
20 WHEREAS, Napoleon's bicycle and Kip's skateboard promote better air qual-
21 ity and carpooling as alternatives to fuel-dependent methods of transporta-
22 tion; and
23 WHEREAS, Grandma's trip to the St. Anthony Sand Dunes highlights a long-
24 honored Idaho vacation destination; and
25 WHEREAS, Rico and Kip's Tupperware sales and Deb's keychains and glamour
26 shots promote entrepreneurism and self-sufficiency in Idaho's small towns; and
27 WHEREAS, Napoleon's artistic rendition of Trisha is an example of the
28 importance of the visual arts in K-12 education; and
29 WHEREAS, the schoolwide Preston High School student body elections foster
30 an awareness in Idaho's youth of public service and civic duty; and
31 WHEREAS, the "Happy Hands" club and the requirement that candidates for
32 school president present a skit is an example of the importance of theater
33 arts in K-12 education; and
34 WHEREAS, Pedro's efforts to bake a cake for Summer illustrate the positive
35 connection between culinary skills to lifelong relationships; and
36 WHEREAS, Kip's relationship with LaFawnduh is a tribute to e-commerce and
37 Idaho's technology-driven industry; and
38 WHEREAS, Kip and LaFawnduh's wedding shows Idaho's commitment to healthy
39 marriages; and
40 WHEREAS, the prevalence of cooked steak as a primary food group pays trib-
41 ute to Idaho's beef industry; and
42 WHEREAS, Napoleon's tetherball dexterity emphasizes the importance of
43 physical education in Idaho public schools; and
44 WHEREAS, Tina the llama, the chickens with large talons, the 4-H milk
1 cows, and the Honeymoon Stallion showcase Idaho's animal husbandry; and
2 WHEREAS, any members of the House of Representatives or the Senate of the
3 Legislature of the State of Idaho who choose to vote "Nay" on this concurrent
4 resolution are "FREAKIN' IDIOTS!" and run the risk of having the "Worst Day of
5 Their Lives!"
6 NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the members of the First Regular Session
7 of the Fifty-eighth Idaho Legislature, the House of Representatives and the
8 Senate concurring therein, that we commend Jared and Jerusha Hess and the City
9 of Preston for showcasing the positive aspects of Idaho's youth, rural cul-
10 ture, education system, athletics, economic prosperity and diversity.
11 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we, the members of the House of Representa-
12 tives and the Senate of the State of Idaho, advocate always following your
13 heart, and thus we eagerly await the next cinematic undertaking of Idaho's
14 Hess family.
15 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chief Clerk of the House of Representa-
16 tives be, and she is hereby authorized and directed to forward a copy of this
17 resolution to Jared and Jerusha Hess, the Mayor of the City of Preston and the
18 Principal of Preston High School.
Sometimes the headline says it all.
There's more to the story, including a beating death, but I like that sub-hed the way it is.
Popping Cancer now attracting a higher class of spammer!
I remember the old days, when I first got started, every morning there'd be about a dozen comments snuck in the website from spammers. They were inevitably titled "Buy Viagra" (or Ambien or whatever the pill du jour was) or "gay boys" or "free sex site".
Then, as readership continued, I still got the occasional sex site spam, but mostly it was "free poker online" and "play Texas Hold 'Em". Joel will remember the day I got hit by 1,800 poker promotional links.
That's all over, though. Popping Culture has finally arrived. I'm proud and honored to say that this morning I deleted 18 spammed comments, all from sites that can lower your mortgage rates and sites that want to give you home equity loans!
If that's not moving up in the world, I have no idea what is.
April 13, 2005
Wednesday was bad.
Let us promise each other not to mention Wednesday ever again.
April 12, 2005
Best headline from The Onion in a long time.
While I'm off doing chemotherapy on Wednesday, here's something for you to look at.
If I make out the name correctly, I think this post-seaworthy vessel is called "Temporary Insanity".
Popping Cancer Reflection: The Power of Positive Thinking.
No, I'm not talking about that Robert Schuller nonsense.
Schuller was, and may still be for all I know, a popular pastor who preached a thinly-veiled prosperity gospel that said if you think positive thoughts, if you visualize what you want, the Lord will give it to you. Be good, think happy thoughts, and ask for whatever you want.
Of course, that sells to people in need (specifically, those viewers at home who are likely to mail you their life savings), but in reality it doesn't pan out.
I, for instance, am hardly a saint, but I've been through more crap in my 36 years than any of the sins I've committed could justify. No amount of positive thinking or clean living kept me from getting cancer.
Anyway, that's not the kind of positive thinking power I'm talking about.
I'm talking about HEALING once the damage has been done. People get cancer; that's how the world works. So here I am, with cancer. I have two choices: I can get gloomy and depressed and just take what comes or I can be positive and pro-active. I'm here to say that there really is a difference.
I'm here to say that my belief is that your state of mind, your thoughts and beliefs, can have a direct bearing on your course of healing.
Here I quote Bernie Siegel, M.D. from his book How to Live between Office Visits:
Laughter and joy can mean a healing, life-enhancing message going to every cell in your body, whereas shame, guilt and despair can lead to destructive messages. Your emotions are chemical. It is exciting to understand that specific thoughts can create changes in the body. When you are happy, your body knows it. When you're depressed and feeling hopeless, your body also knows that. And when I refer to your body I mean your bone marrow, the lining of your blood vessels, your liver. Every organ participates in the happiness or sadness. Consciousness and knowledge occur at the cell membrane. (Candace Pert, a neuro-physiologist, has done work with neuropeptides and in essence feels that awareness and consciousness will ultimately be located at the cell membrane.)
We know that the happy individual has a different set of neuropeptides (hormones) circulating from those of the person who is depressed, angry or anxious. Our nervous system and other organ systems through these neuropeptides are communicating with every cell in our bodies. Our gut feelings, how we deal with life, how many white blood cells we produce, how rapidly a wound heals - all of these are linked.
Or as Tim Robbins' character in The Shawshank Redemption puts it, "It comes down to a simple choice: get busy livin' or get busy dyin'"
You don't have to agree that putting away my sad movies for now or not reading depressing books or steering clear of the negative and violent and thuggish images on MTV will help with my healing, but if you do disagree, don't rain on my parade.
I believe I can beat these sarcomas, despite what doctors say. I believe that I can assist my body in healing by thinking positive thoughts and that positive imagery can help direct the poisons put in my veins to the areas that need healing. I believe that "beating" cancer doesn't have to mean going to war, but working for healing.
That's what I mean by the power of positive thinking in my life.
As always, somebody else has already said it better. I leave you with a quote from Francis Hodgson Burnett in The Secret Garden:
One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts - just mere thoughts - are as powerful as electric batteries - as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live.
This is why some people die at peace, and some die scared. Positive thinking can heal, and can re-define healing when necessary. Healing for me might mean removing the cancer from my body. Healing might mean getting over something I'm angry about or mending fences with someone I have a grudge against. One day, it might mean closing cirles and dying on my own terms. This is the power of positive thinking.
A day without poison is like a day without sunshine.
Maybe it's just me, but this new Star Wars movie feels different than the others.
(photo from a disturbing ad on Craigslist)
I've found another must-read blog.
Their front page alone right now features 27 reasons to love the Hootie Burger King ad, the fate of the Miss America competition, the joy Nike feels at having their swoosh featured so prominently on Tiger Woods' miraculous chip on the 16th at Augusta and a New York Times eulogy for a stalker.
Rube Goldberg is haunting (well, WAS haunting) 1313 Tompkins Drive in D.C.
This is how it happened.
Tim Brender was working in his basement when he pushed a table back. This caused a can of spray paint to fall. On the way down, the can hit a hammer square, causing spray paint to, well, spray all over the place.
So far, no harm no foul, just a wicked amount of clean-up.
However, the spray paint spread all the way to the water heater and got into the chamber with, you guessed it, the pilot light. A flash fire hit and was able to reach (thank you, fate!) a cushion which immediately ignited. The basement blaze turned into an inferno when flammable liquids and gunpowder stored there combusted.
It would be almost surreal if the family didn't lose everything: all their furniture and kitchen appliances, their computer, beds and the majority of their clothes.
It was a townhouse they were renting, so they didn't have renter's insurance, in part because people don't usually buy renter's insurance, despite how cheap and useful it is, and in part because they were just days from moving to a new home.
"You don't realize what your stuff is worth until you have to tally it up in a dumpster," Lani Brender (the wife) said.
April 11, 2005
All I'm saying is, somebody put Tobey Maguire in a movie before he has a heart attack.
The now-to-then ratio is nearing 2-to-1.
Popping Cancer Update: According to the American Cancer Society, more than 60 percent of all cancer deaths could be prevented if Americans lived healthier lives.
Finally some warm weather.
Follow me, everybody! I know a shortcut to the beach!
Popping Cancer Update: The party's almost over.
The first successful week of rest is nearing an end. During my other two three-week sessions of chemotherapy, you will remember, the third week (the week without treatment wherein I was supposed to gain strength for the next round) hit me with various bugs and viruses that kept me sick and tired instead of strong like ox.
This week I've felt pretty good. Weak as always, and a mild cough, but nothing to complain about. I even went out of the house (shock!) to an Amish breakfast buffet in Columbiana County, Ohio.
I have today off (The hope is that a good nap in the afternoon means I can leave the house again for supper at a non-crowded restaurant, assuming the checkbook allows) and tomorrow off, then chemotherapy hits again on Wednesday. Oop Aak.
I hope you have your chemotherapy gifts all picked out.
Great new look; same bloodshot eyes.
Starbucks Gossip ("Monitoring America's favorite drug dealer") has an eye-catching new re-designed look.
This is the problem with the Costco and Sam's Club types.
Eventually, they go to the dogs.
April 10, 2005
Reason to Live # 31
All three next generation game systems might be out within a year.
Update from The Masters.
This just in: Tiger Woods is good at playing golf.
Further updates as events warrant.
April 09, 2005
This is pretty sweet. We should institute this where I live, except we'd have to give out a few hundred titles.
It's one thing to be thought of as a goofball, a jerk, a clod or just plain stupid in the head.
It's another thing entirely to have it confirmed in a town-wide election. This Indiana man was formal and officially named "Village Idiot."
I love that.
Not to mention that he really did earn the title.
Ara sent me these six literary questions and said I had to answer. Since I am nothing if not compliant, here you go...
• You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be [saved]?
I want to say the Bible, but I probably could remember enough of it to make a reasonable facsimile later. I’m going with The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho by a nose over Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.
• Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
I was madly and tragically in love with Connie Selleca’s character in “The Greatest American Hero.” I was hopeless.
• The last book you bought is?
How to Live Between Office Visits by Bernie Seigel. Before that, an inordinate number of theology books.
• What are you currently reading?
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.
• Five books you would take to a deserted island?
1. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. This is one of two life-changing books I read at least annually.
2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. This is the other.
3. Parables as Subversive Speech by William Herzog. Because this is the book that started my re-thinking of Jesus’ mission.
4. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Because I would wither and die without it.
5. One of my writing craft books, preferably one with writing exercises. To keep myself sharp while away from opportunities to write.
• Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
I’m not passing it on to specific people because I’m lazy. But I fully expect my readership to chime in with their answers.
As if we needed more proof that the Apocalypse is getting closer.
There's even a new song — "A Cookie Is a Sometimes Food," where Cookie Monster learns there are "anytime" foods and "sometimes" foods.
Board up the windows.
April 08, 2005
Eye Candy Classic
A Friend In Need
by C.M. Coolidge
Like to see The Man getting his?
Via The Obscure Store.
A short, off-the-top-of-my-head list.
Things I've enjoyed greatly in my life, but never been very good at:
First Person Shooters
Dancing (college only - I've settled)
Picking Winning Football Teams
Communicating Emotions with Women
Texas Hold 'Em
Selecting Personal Gifts for Friends
I'll add more in comments as I come up with them. What's on your list?
While you're out and about today....
Get one for yourself, too. It might save your life.
April 07, 2005
Here's something you may not have known.
The Soup Nazi, from the popular Seinfeld episode, is a real guy. His name is Al Yeganeh and he's the chef at Soup Kitchen International.
I think it's a sign.
Popping Cancer: Timing is everything.
When I was a teenager, and first diagnosed with late stage Hodgkin's Disease, it was quite a shock. We all think we're going to live forever, especially when we're kids.
I had a sore throat and some mild weakness. I didn't notice that the lymph nodes in my neck had hardened and swollen enough that I had gone up a full neck size in my shirts. I was a kid on summer vacation from college and all I ever wore were loose t-shirts.
This time around, as a man of 35 (now 36), it was the same deal. In spite of 6-month checkups, I felt good and thought I would live forever. In this case, timing was even more important.
The sarcoma started as a lump on my back in the spot where I had taken radiation treatments as a teen. I had lost 85 pounds (on purpose) and the lump was growing as I was shrinking. Finally, I noticed it when I went to bed... like I was on a rolled-up sock.
By that time the lump was very large... the incision from the surgery to remove it was about 9 inches long.
If I had found the lump a month earlier, it is very possible that it could have been removed completely and treated with a little radiation before it spread to my lungs. If I had found the lump a month later, it is very possible that I wouldn't be doing treatment right now, other than taking meds to make me comfy before I died.
Timing is everything.
Of course you think you're going to live forever. Of course, when you feel good, you can't imagine anything going wrong. You can't imagine being sick, especially not at your age.
I'm just saying that I was 17, and I was 35.
Maybe food for thought.
Places to avoid today.
April 06, 2005
"Puppy Bowl" may spark 24-hour all-puppy television channel.
I don't know if the wife and I were the only people who saw this, but during the Super Bowl, Animal Planet aired a simple show called "Puppy Bowl."
The entire show consisted of a large room, maybe the size of a large dining room, set up like a football field and littered with dog toys. They released about a dozen puppies into the room and just showed 3 hours of the puppies playing. That's all. It was obsessive.
They had a camera under the water dish. They cycled in new puppies from time to time. When a puppy had an accident, a man dressed as a referee came out and threw a flag, then cleaned up the mess.
Just puppies playing and tackling and trying to sleep and whatall. You couldn't tear your eyes away.
It appears that someone else was equally obsessed, because the show's success is sparking interest in The Puppy Channel, which would be 24-hours of all puppies, all the time. Sounds like a cure for cancer to me.
You can catch some video of the Puppy Bowl that aired on Super Sunday here.
You can even buy the whole thing on DVD.
Winning mayoral slogan of the decade.
"I'm a big fan of vaginas, but this is really gross stuff."
That statement, by a River Grove trustee, sums up the key issues in the recently decided mayoral race.
Read about it. You know, if you want to.
Sheila is reading Margaret Atwood on writing.
Shocking news from the world of television!
The shock to me, of course, was that it was even still on. I thought they nixed it 5 years ago.
April 05, 2005
The stupid shot the doctor gave me for my white blood cell count has kept me bed- or chair-ridden for the last three days, in constant joint pain. I admit a certain temptation to feel sorry for myself. This poem helps, and I hope it will one day help you.
Feeling Sorry for Myself
I start with a groan, swelling to a moan,
rising to a keen, ascending
to a shriek that tapers off in a thin wail.
I hug myself and, whimpering,
rock back and forth on my heels.
No one has ever known such sadness.
No one can grasp how I feel.
I smash an egg over each eye.
I smear my face with coal and pepper.
I wear a paper bag soaked through
with spoiled watermelon and pork grease.
I shred my happy past - my books,
pictures, and poems, published or not.
Ill never fly fish again.
Ill never make love again.
Ill never sit outside and watch night
stretch its starry tent over the sky.
There will be no more metaphors.
I am more sorrowful than a sorrowing man.
Life has no more meaning to me
than a life without meaning.
My heart slows. My blood congeals
to brown, vein-clogging mush.
My stomach goes on strike; my colon
bars its door. People assume
Im terminal. They imagine what
would make them feel the way I look,
and project their paltry problems onto me.
As if they could fathom my misery
by waterwinging over its abyss!
My pain is too heavy to lift,
too vast to measure, too ineffable to name,
and incalculably too precious to share.
I dig my grave in a landfill, and topple in.
I rub dirt and dog droppings in my hair.
Ive sunk so low its funny; so I start to giggle.
Then to chortle. Then to roar. Mothers
clutch their bleating kids, and rush away.
Gangbangers dash to the far side of the street.
I crawl out of my grave, strip, and shower
with a gunk-filled water hose.
I shake and shiver, grinning, in the filty air.
- Charles Harper Webb
Update on the Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin situation.
Remember last week when they stripped Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin of her title because she was seen standing? She's mostly disabled, but can occasionally stand, and officials deemed she wasn't disabled enough to hold the title.
That outrage has been in turn answered by the runner-up contestant, Michelle Kearney, who refuses to take the crown.
“Who is to say who is more disabled and less disabled than another person?” Kearney said. “Had I accepted (the crown), it’s as if I had been saying I’m OK with the decision,” she said. “I thought they educated and advocated about disabilities.”
Popping Culture's must-read book of the day.
Candyfreak: A Journey into the Chocolate Underbelly of America.
The author's name is, ironically enough, Steve Almond.
Comments are back on! In fact, why not provide a caption for the photo below?
April 04, 2005
On how to know when it's time to switch to bottled water.
Comments are still down.
If I don't hear from "Webmaster@danielchampion.com" by the end of the day, I'm gonna have to try something drastic. Plenty of stuff to see and do here still, including a truly gross sandwich description below.
Then again, "firstname.lastname@example.org," whom I contacted by email Saturday, might be ME for all I know.
Keep sending the comments in email for now, and I'll be able to keep using my basic keyboard in the meantime:
I guess they're big eaters in Wisconsin.
Burger King's Enormous Omelet Sandwich, which is enough to give me chemotherapy-like symptoms just from looking at the billboard, is "just a small fry" to some.
A few statistics:
Piled onto the $2.98 sandwich were two scrambled eggs (folded like linen napkins), two pieces of grilled bacon (which fell out when the sandwich was turned sideways), one sausage patty (the Burger King press release said there were two, but mine had one cut in half and placed on the bun in the form of a letter S) and two slices of cheese that cemented the top of the bun to the eggs.
Compare that to this other Wisconsin specialty:
Better yet, head over to Kelly's Bleachers, 5218 W. Blue Mound Road. For $18.95, you can get a 4-pound hamburger, served on a bun that's custom made by the Gonella Bakery in Chicago. Finish the burger, bun and accompanying fries as just two other customers have done before you and you get the burger for free.
"It's like eating 16 Quarter Pounders at McDonald's," said Kelly's Bleachers owner Patrick Guenther. "I've gone to McDonald's and ordered two Quarter Pounders, but I never asked for 14 more," he said.
Just the meat on that sandwich delivers 3,184 calories. The bun, fries and toppings are all extra.
Full - VERY FULL - story here. Full story includes other heart-rending Wisconsin delights, including a fish 'n chips meal that tops out near 1,500 calories.
April 03, 2005
Nobody does practical jokes like the bomb squad.
I don't think webmasters work over the weekend, and I don't know who to contact, so there may not be any comments for a few days, given my illiteracy at computers.
Shame, really - the comments are the best part. I'll keep posting new content.
Continue to feel free to contact me at email@example.com or write comments on your monitor with a grease pen.
In the meantime, here's a picture to help you always remember about high tide.
April 02, 2005
Update on the "Save Toby" scam.
The Singing Butler
by Jack Vettriano
Comments are down for some reason. I sent an email to the webmaster, whoever that is. Hold tight. I don't know if webmasters work on weekends or not.
If you know why comments might have just shut off for no reason, let me know in email please. I banned a few IPs (spammers) yesterday, but NO comments are coming through, not even my own. It is all very frustrating.
In the meantime, our email is still open at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday morning outrage: Ms. Wheelchair stripped of title when she's seen briefly standing.
That decisive act raised the question "How handicapped is handicapped enough?" The "winner", Janeal Lee, has Muscular Dystrophy.
When Janeal Lee was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin in January, she envisioned her role as an advocate for people with disabilities as an extension of the classroom.
A steering committee led by Gina Hackel of Freedom, a former Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin and pageant state coordinator, is stripping Lee of her crown. It said she was photographed in The Post-Crescent’s Heart of the Valley supplement, The Current, standing in her classroom, adding that she does not always use her scooter and that she walks in her classroom.
They (candidates) have to “mostly be seen in public using their wheel chairs or scooters,” said Judy Hoit, Ms. Wheelchair America board of directors treasurer, supporting the move. “Otherwise, you’ve got women who are in their wheelchairs all the time and they get offended if they see someone standing up. We can’t have title holders out there walking when they’re seen in the public.”
Lee disagrees with the assessment.
“The way they see it, you’re either 100 percent disabled or 0 percent disabled, when in reality everyone is somewhere in between. It gives us a narrow view of who a person with a disability is,” she said Thursday. “I’ve been made to feel as if I can’t represent the disabled citizens of Wisconsin because I’m not disabled enough.”
“It was a very difficult day,” Lee said. “My students are very shocked. They said they don’t understand. I told them there are things I don’t even understand.”
“That’s the image we want to portray of disabled people?” said Lee, noting the lift in her van, the ramp and adaptive equipment in her home, right down to the lightweight dishes in her kitchen.
“Yes, I am disabled. And I’m being asked to compromise or validate my disability?”
Here's the full story, if you're in the mood to be further enraged. It also includes phone numbers and addresses if you would like to comment.
If it can happen in Wisconsin, it could happen in America.
April 01, 2005
Test your open mindedness.
Ok, I'm going to show you two images.
This is designed to get your immediate reaction to the way you think the universe is meant to work. Please take it seriously, you know, just so SOMEONE out there is.
Rate each image on a scale of 1-10. 10 is "Oh, that's SO CUTE. Isn't that adorable?" and 1 is "Oh, dear sweet Lord, that's an ABOMINATION. I'm going to be sick."
Ready? Here's image #1:
Now image #2:
Compare and contrast. Reactions?
BBC asked for an interview recently with Bob Marley.
"I've already yielded more than a cheerleader at a drive-in."
Probably not the best thing for Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, to say on the Senate floor in the middle of a debate.
YOU can save Toby the Bunny!
Thanks to John Schalekamp, who sent the link in email, and actully bought a mug.