Sunday, July 6, 2008

the difficulties of silence



after four days of (almost) total silence, i have realised a number of things:

- speaking is a very hard habit to drop. the corollary to this being that remaining silent requires a surprisingly large amount of concentration. i've spoken, on average, three times a day since the operation, all at times when my attention has been directed elsewhere; unexpected conversations, djing, world of warcraft... yeah, i know. i also tend to sub-vocalise sentences i'm working on while writing; it's the only way i can make them... go and be... the right.... thing

- it is impossible to keep up with a multi-person conversation when you are trying to write down your contributions. best just to sit back, relax, and be mistaken for a semi-retarded relative.

- you start to get an insight as to where you fit in to normal conversations. unless you're one on one with them, most people will talk around you, as if you aren't actually there. this means you gain awareness of how people function in your absence. fascinating. also, frustrating. i have so many witty things to say. so many.

- it's almost impossible to articulate complex thoughts while trying to write your way into a conversation. it just takes too long. if it can't be said in 6 words or less, it's probably not going to get said. conversations also tend to be very one-sided with a straight up question-answer format. like a laborious tv interview with a not very interesting subject.

- if you can't speak, people start acting as if you can't hear either. makes me wonder if deaf-mutes are actually deaf, or just too polite to point out the fact they can hear to all their loudly speaking friends and family.

- i've barely left the house, because the concept of actually interacting with other humans seems like far, far too much effort. just 4 days of me, old lucasarts games, a stack of books longer than my thigh, and the sweet, non-judgmental, endless internet.

...............................................

1. the global rich list: punch in your annual outcome and bam! out comes your position on a global scale. if you're from australia and you can slip below the top 10% then you're really trying... nicely, it's designed to encourage charitable gestures, so if you're higher then you thought, perhaps it's time to get involved. by having trace amounts of money invisibly sucked from your bank account. the satisfying charity.

2. nietzche family circus: continuing in the spirit of the garfield randomizer, this pairs a random panel of the sickeningly trite family circus with a random quote from the sickeningly bleak friedrich nietzche. wonderfully surreal.



3. and dragging that brow back down to the depths provided for by the intersection of japanese television and youtube, we have a dog dressed as godzilla fighting it out with a monkey dressed as ultraman. i have to confess, when i first read about it, i expected more.



4. food special. for no other reason than the fact i somehow ended up with three food links one after the other... maybe i was hungry

- the top 10 foods only america could have invented: pretty self explanatory, but to paraphrase martin amis from his exceptional novel 'money', "you know how they say the french eat to live? well the americans eat to die". this is a philly cheese steak. it's a point of pride to use the lowest quality meat possible. so you don't really know where the stringiness of the cheese ends and the stringiness of the steak begins.



- 101 picnic suggestions: a far more salubrious list from the new york times. as dan pointed out, this is the kind of list you like keeping close to you because it makes you feel better about the fact you'll never cook anything that detailed. but you know, if we got the urge, the list is there. and some of the stuff does sound really nice. and does seem really simple.............. nah.

- the fallacy of use by dates: possibly the most interesting thing ever to have come out of the typically maligned UK daily mail, jonatahan maitland goes on a 14 day journey beyond the printed use by dates of various foods, and finds that it doesn't really affect him at all. who would've thought. and yes, he does eat this bread, albeit after toasting it thoroughly first.



[EDIT] as per chris' instruction, here's the spicks and specks crew dissecting elvis' after dinner snack of choice, the fools gold sandwich. simply hollow out a loaf of white bread, slather it in a jar of peanut butter and a jar of jam and then fill it with a pound of bacon. then just sit back and watch your arteries congeal. apparently 'the king' got through two of these a night. at 10 pm. after dinner. anyone else hear the one about his love of deep-fried steaks?



5. and finally super bingo. if you enjoyed powerthirst and powerthirst II, then you'll thoroughly enjoy this. given that it was made by the same people. and works on exactly the same style of 'take this, motherfucker' humour. of course, if you didn't, this may just confuse you.



..............................................

in other news, i've also started contributing to the somewhat ambitious, a vaguely nerd-themed blog (well, it emerged from triple j's nerds of a feather segment) with a sideline in oddities and general humour. go check it out.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

of cures and concerns


There has been a significant reduction in the size of the right upper zone mass lesion with opacity now reflecting pleural thickening and post radiation fibrosis. An underlying residual mass cannot be excluded.

and such is the radiologist's conclusion that dispatches me into a doctor-free wilderness for the next three or so months; a rather succinct summation of all that is good and bad about my current predicament really. the lack of a clearly distinguishable end point means i'm saddled with the paranoia inhering in that final sentence - it must be said, surgery provides a certain level of clarity in these matters. still, the mere fact that the final sentence is phrased in such negative potentialities speaks volumes about the success of the treatment to date. whereas my intial x-rays showed a ball of pure white occupying the area where the top of my right lung should have been, these images show fragments of darkened lung emerging from behind wisps of post-radiotherapy scar tissue. the whole region is a bit of a mess, but the weight of the tumour has quite obviously dissipated. how much of it remains, and to what extent those remnants remain active is of course more difficult to ascertain. nonetheless, in the absence of any obvious secondary lesions within my lungs, and given the previous lack of detectable activity within the mass itself i have been sent off to pursue my life once more. it isn't remission, but it's as good as it's going to get.

i'm thinking july 31/august 1 for my return to melbourne. i have a heat for the green faces comedy competition on july 17, and on the off chance i get through (i don't particularly fancy my chances - the winners are picked via audience vote, making it notoriously prone to vote stacking) the final is on the night of the 31st. meanwhile i still have a ticket running to see sigur ros on august 1 giving me a safe window of around 18 hours in which to pick a flight. we'll see how we go.

.....................................

1. the eagle and the dragon: a long and involved, but thoroughly worthwhile examination of the current decrepitude of the american suburban project and its parallels with the decay of the automobile industry. the portrait of detroit as a 'failed' city is particularly evocative - a potent symbol of the collapse of western manufacturing and the segregationist myths of suburban utopia. there's also much to be said of the role of the car in structuring the american (read australian) landscape, and the potential abandonment of suburban enclaves in the face of economic depression and oil shortages. fun reading.



2. one post wonder: on a far cheerier note, this is the coolest concept blog i've found for a while. one post wonder collects the best of those blogs which were started with such high hopes, but then abandoned after the very first post. from phatgirls.blogspot.com:
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
more of phatness.
you see a chinchilla scuttling across the marble floor
"fatfat!"
SQUEEAAK-turn as the chinchilla scrabbles to get a foothold on the slipperiness
*BISH.*
the chinchilla falls down.
"oh my poor babybabyyyyyy"

"hello hello?"

indeed.

3. beached whale: hard to pin down exactly why this is so funny, but i've watched it upwards of five times and i'm still laughing. although cerebral it ain't. the first 30 seconds is the best.



4. one sentence: keeping up the focus on brevity, one sentence is a user-submitted blog where people tell stories about their life in one sentence. there's a postsecret style air of the confessional about much of it, but it makes for intriguing and occasionally poignant reading.
If there was ever a good time to stop drinking, it was this morning when I woke up next to a woman in a giraffe costume.

this bears a more than passing resemblance to the six word memoir project run by smith magazine. inspired by ernest hemingway's famously brief six word story - "for sale: baby shoes, never worn" - the website invites users to submit their own six word memoirs for other people to browse. the always reliable new yorker has a wonderful review of the book that has come out of it, written entirely in six word sentences. my god it's a good magazine.
The book’s originator: SMITH online magazine. It started as a reader contest: Your life story in six words. The magazine was flooded with entries. Five hundred-plus submissions per day. That’s two, three words a minute. “We almost crashed,” an editor said. Memoirs from plumbers and a dominatrix (“Fix a toilet, get paid crap”; “Woman Seeks Men—High Pain Threshold”). The editors have culled the best. And, happily, spliced in celebrity autobiographies: “Canada freezing. Gotham beckons. Hello, Si!” “Well, I thought it was funny.” “Couldn’t cope so I wrote songs.” (Graydon Carter, Stephen Colbert, Aimee Mann.) Mario Batali makes a memorable appearance: “Brought it to a boil, often.” So does Jimmy Wales, of Wikipedia: “Yes, you can edit this biography.”

not sure what mine would be. "had cancer - better. had cancer - better?" possibly too morbid. how about "cared little for life's seeming vicissitudes". that's better. if not a little aspirational.

5. anybody remember that almost ludicrously shit show 'catch phrase' from back in the mid-90s? well here's partial vindication of its existence with a small, innuendo-laden extract from the UK version. british tv does have its moments.



6. vinyl sleeve heads: and finally, we have a frivolous little photo set of people using the images on record sleeves to replace their faces. cute.

Friday, June 27, 2008

it is done. kinda.



soooooo. chemo's over. hip hip. seem to be on the upward swing healthwise too. that's nice. so i guess now we just move on as if nothing ever happened. yes. quite. current plans are to have new pet scans in late september, so essentially there's not a lot of factors actively keeping me in this city. i'm thinking the very end of july for my departure. there's a room and a job still waiting for me in melbourne, so you know, maybe we can forget the last 7 months actually happened? that would be nice. probably tough though.

there's a lot of uncertainty still hanging in the air with regards to future treatment (if necessary), future surgery (if necessary) and future maintenance regimes (if necessary. probably necessary. also experimental). keeping a reasonably large, and fairly aggressive tumour inside your body is a fairly sub-optimal outcome, irrespective of its apparently comprehensive response to treatment. which obviously helps, but it's hard to know exactly how the next five years are going to play out. from all reports a relocation to melbourne is a handy move, because it harbours the peter maccallum institute - reputedly australia's premier cancer research facility. and the peter mac institute has on staff a man named david thomas, who is apparently australia's premier sarcoma specialist. and that means potential clinical trials. and clinical trials could mean better non-surgical options. which would be nice. then again, wilhelm could simply remain forever dormant and i could emerge from this entire episode with little more to show for it then some light nerve damage, a bit of radiotherapy related muscle scarring, and a rather irritating inability to lie on my right side without putting my arm to sleep. actually, that last one is a little frustrating. but you know what? if that's it, i think i can deal.

so, anyway. next friday i've booked myself in to have the (now relabeled) cyst on my vocal cords removed. as my first surgical procedure in 8 odd years, i'm rather excited. the procedure itself takes around twenty minutes, so i still don't need to spend a night in hospital, but the operation will leave me unable to speak for five days. well, not unable to speak so much as not allowed to speak. how very zen. zen by force. as all zen should be.

.........................................................

1. napping: as a self-proclaimed 'nap ninja', this handy guide filled me with sweet, slothful vindication. when i am king we shall all take siestas.

2. the edward gorey alphabet: a rather grim take on the children's alphabet, courtesy of the ever-macabre, now dead (and therefore more macabre?) edward gorey. so cool.



3. bubble wrap: this should ease the anger

4. cuteness OVERLOAD: two videos that verge on the sickening, but still remain absolutely, incontestably adorable. sooooooo lovely. these will make your day appreciably better.

sesame street abcs



boy chased by horde of puppies



5. j.k. rowling on failure and imagination: harvard got j.k. rowling to deliver their commencement address this year. the result is a beautiful set of musings on the necessity of failure, as lensed through her own personal catastrophes.

I am not dull enough to suppose that because you are young, gifted and well-educated, you have never known hardship or heartbreak. Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates, and I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here has enjoyed an existence of unruffled privilege and contentment.

However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person’s idea of success, so high have you already flown academically.


this idea of a beneficial failure is one that i hadn't necessarily canvassed all that closely until recently, but as with so many points of interest it now seems to be cropping up everywhere. also worth checking out is this transcript of a recent episode of radio national's 'ockham's razor', featuring mark dodgson of the centre for technology and innovation in queensland talking about the links between failure and discovery.

Successful individuals and firms fail all the time. As Humphry Davy, the famous 18th century chemist, inventor and President of the Royal Society said, 'The most important of my discoveries has been suggested to me by my failures'. And as Henry Ford put it, 'Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently'.

I want to argue that failure doesn't get the credit it deserves. If you want to understand success, you must appreciate the ubiquity of failure, and if you're not regularly failing, you're not trying hard enough.


and now to summarise in audience friendly format via a slightly pat 1 minute video on famous american failures:



lovely.

6. requiem for a day off: this is quite close to the coolest thing i have ever seen. and i know i say that pretty much every blog post, but this time i mean it. if someone can dazzle me with a better movie mash-up, i'll be impressed.

Monday, June 16, 2008

i am older



if my parents had really wanted me to stay on with christianity, they would have given me this colouring in book.

.........................................

what an oddly non-momentous birthday. not that i'm offended by 23 per se, but i think circumstance has conspired to render the day itself somewhat of a non-event. i had dinner with the family on friday, my presents were sorted weeks ago and as far as celebrations go, i'm holding off for a while so that i can mash it in with leaving perth and finishing chemo. which, taken together, probably demand at least one drink. possibly more. speaking of which, last chemo is on wednesday. what an odd thought. just as i was warming up into my role as the semi-inspirational social invalid too. putting the can back into 'cancer'. and such and such. i take no responsibility for the 'cer' part though.

..............................................

1. photobombers: the people who treat it as their god-given duty to insert themselves into the background of photo opportunities. is it wrong that i quite enjoy doing this? the last two are the best.



2. bert and ernie learn the drums: i love this. so much. and i don't know why. seriously, the more you watch it, the better it gets.



3. david byrne, dizzee rascal and fatboy slim filmclip: my little contribution to viral video campaigns. still, cute concept piece, even if the song itself is pretty functional.



4. new york times double dose:

first up, an awesome piece about practical ways of cutting down your meat intake. times like this i always remember the (possibly valid) statistic about the average Western adult having 5 kilos of semi-digested meat lining their digestive tracts at all times. tasty. i think i may go veg again when i return to melbourne.

second, a profile on the fifth avenue apartment whose architect transformed it into a full blown mystery house, replete with complex ciphers, hidden panels and accompanying book. when i have kids i'm so putting secret rooms in my house for them to discover as they grow up... although i can't help but feel the whole fritzl incident may have tarnished the 'secret rooms' concept somewhat.

5. manic cat: awwww, he just wants a family to love him. there is something glorious about the timing in this video.



6. is google making us stupid?: and now that you've perused my scattershot meanderings, here's an exceptionally well-written article exploring the ways in which the internet is beginning to change the way our brains operate. it really makes me want to start reading again...

Monday, June 9, 2008

the time we have spent




i've been back in perth for six and a half months. what an insane thought. enough time to cycle through two seasons, a relationship, new friendships, old friendships and an assortment of events and passions. as well as 4 months of chemo and 6 weeks of radiotherapy. time flies when you're having fun. and now all of a sudden the prospect of a return to melbourne, and a return to the rhythms and patterns of real life loom enticingly in the middle distance. second last chemo on wednesday, the final one the week after.

i was quite enjoying to solidity of my life before i left melbourne last november; my friends were plentiful, uni was done, summer was encroaching, and for the first time since 2005 i was spending more than 4 months in the one place. and then another kink in the traveller's lifestyle, although more pseudo-homecoming than further travel. i still haven't unpacked some of the boxes that came back with me. given the running of time, their chances of being unpacked look slim. more tape and back on the plane, good sir.

it gives everything an odd sheen, transience. that constant process of negotiation as to how far you embed yourself in the world around you. i've had fun, certainly (what an odd thing to say), but i think there's always been a sliver of my mind keeping me aloof. possibly moreso than normal. i think for my own benefit as much as anything; it helps to keep this as a minor inconvenience, a trifling incident in an increasingly ascendant life.

i hope i haven't inadvertently spurned any of you in the process.

.............................................

1. this video is wonderful for reasons to numerous to mention. well, one reason really.



2. the 50 best pun store names: personally, i think number 50 is the best. well, that and 'william the concreter' - something about the historical references...



3. bankrupt offices: from phillip toledano, the photographer who brought you phone sex - the book, comes another gorgeous investigation of the dimly lit areas of our society. this time he surveys the remains of bankrupt offices. haunting and evocative.



4. italian spiderman. speaks for itself really.



5. musical-visual intelligence test: no, i didn't realise there was such a thing either. apparently i'm rather good at it though.

6. the internet ruins humour: a great (and thankfully quite funny) piece on something awful about the propagation of internet memes and the destruction of humour.

7. visuwords: this is pretty awesome. visuwords is a graphic dictionary/thesaurus working off princeton's 'wordnet'. type in a word and then watch the system generate all it's associates and derivatives with the appropriate relationship to the central concept marked by colours and shapes. makes more sense when you're there.



and done.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

my legs have lost quite a lot of their hair



sometimes i hold off posting because i have so little to report. not this time.

although my legs have picked up some distinctly hairless patches. they are smooth and itchy.

*cough*

.........................................

1. sensible units: type in a measurement and have it converted into real world equivalents. i weigh as much as 12 cats. here's the proof.



2. DIY album:

1 - Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random
The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Go to Random quotations: http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3
The last four words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

If you want to do this again, you’ll hit refresh to generate new quotes, because clicking the quotes link again will just give you the same quotes over and over again.

3 - Go to flickr’s “explore the last seven days” http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days/
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

Put it all together, that’s your debut album.


well i lucked out. i present to you:

'Mine Are Still Greater', the debut album by the unfortunately monikered I Could Sing of Your Love Forever (or ICSYLF to their fans)



i presume it's meant to be inspirational. or christian. or both.

3. dark energy destroys physics: well, that may be overstating things, but still, the ny times has just published a very interesting (and accessible) piece on the search for the mysterious mass/energy presence which accounts for almost 80% of the universe yet cannot be detected or accounted for under any of the models currently available to science. weird.

4. mister nice hands: oh good, i'm 5 again.

5. free idea factory: a bunch of artistic types put up all their excess ideas for free public consumption and adoption. it would be nice to see them opening the channels of submission a little more, but still it's a cool little concept.

6. japanese video trilogy: the best thing about the japanese is the way in which you can never really be entirely sure whether any particular piece of television is intended as parody or not. try your hand at these.

a) card crusher



b) learn english while exercising



c) inochi



in case you're wondering, the answers are: a) serious; b) serious; and c) i have no fucking idea, oh jesus what in god's name is happening, i want it to stop, why won't it stop

japan. interesting place.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

well, i'm bald again



which, as has been mentioned, is not an entirely unpalatable state of affairs. however, this time we decided to head (ha!) the shedding off at the pass and did the full shave after only a couple of days of heavy moulting. while this meant that my bed and keyboard have remained far less tainted than they were previously, it has come with the odd corollary that my scalp is a lot darker with hair residue than it was last time. this means that the pockmarks on my hair where the hair had actually fallen out of its own volition are far more visible and the whole process has left me looking a little bit like tom hanks from the end of philadelphia. but that's ok, that film had a happy ending, right?... well, it's that or a leper. take your pick.



my dad described it as having 'geography'.



but now that i'm bald again, i get to re-expose the world to my flattering array of baldness novelty shots, such as this:



and, more importantly, this:



luckily my blood count managed to stage a full resurgence over the past week, despite the insertion of chemotherapy and a reasonably full weekend in the the interim. so, i've been back in for more this wednesday just past, which takes me up to 4 of the 6 scheduled treatments in this round. which is exciting. we're still tossing up the possibility of having a small amount of additional radiotherapy to really finish the fucker off (apparently i'd only been given a pre-operative dose first time through), but it all still bodes well for a possible return to melbourne around the end of july. which would be handy, because i've already bought my ticket to the sigur ros show on august 1...

the temptation to make up side-effects for the edification of my oncologist is at times overwhelming. i mean, he acts happy, but i always sense this light disappointment that i'm striding through this so easily. i'll mention a miscellaneous ailment and he'll jump on it with a steadying call of 'oh yes, that will be the taxotere', a seeming relief that something palpable is happening to my body. the worst things to happen to me generally seem to be acne and occasional insomnia, both of which are linked to a drug i take to ameliorate the supposed side-effects of the chemo... it's always hard to reconcile the apparent severity of treatment with my ability to eat three full meals and go out partying with friends. but i guess that's the wonderful new world of oncology in the 21st century. 11 year old luke is... not impressed.

...................................

1. the last bite by bee wilson: my father's decision to subscribe to the new yorker magazine part way through last year has completely revolutionised our household, and its conversations. this is another typically amazing piece taken from the may 19 issue, in which bee explores some of the current food woes to be plaguing the world via a number of books which have been recently released on the issue. very, very much worth the read.

2. monkeys use robotic arm: apparently researchers at the university of pittsburgh have trained monkeys to feed themselves using prosthetic arms controlled by their brains. as someone who is facing up to a potential loss of an arm, this is a rather exciting news piece.



3. a brilliantly paced video my brother sent me last year, taken from a dutch sketch show. the dutch huh? who would've thought they had it in them.



4. 19 brilliant ad campaigns: everyone loves a list, and this is an awesome collection of some of the best and most innovative advertising campaigns of recent years.



5. blogging is good for you: or so says scientific american, which even points out the positive therapeutic effects for people with cancer

A study in the February issue of the Oncologist reports that cancer patients who engaged in expressive writing just before treatment felt markedly better, mentally and physically, as compared with patients who did not...

Whatever the underlying causes may be, people coping with cancer diagnoses and other serious conditions are increasingly seeking—and finding—solace in the blogosphere. “Blogging undoubtedly affords similar benefits” to expressive writing, says Morgan, who wants to incorporate writing programs into supportive care for cancer patients.


yes, that seems like adequate justification.

6. beatbox chef: another older video, but one that was just bought back to my attention by chris. funny and talented, its thoroughly worth the watch.



enjoy, there shall be more soon.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

endurance factor




i love this picture with a passion that is almost physical. it may be the most east germanic thing i have ever seen.

...............................

having waltzed through my first batch of chemotherapy with a white blood cell count that had occasionally tilted me in to borderline leukemic territory, it came as somewhat of a surprise to find out that my count from wednesday was almost too low to proceed with chemo that week. my sweet, insanely expensive immune boosting neulasta injection appeared to have failed me. but it seems that there are feasible limits to how much medical pounding your body can withstand. and right now my bone marrow is on the ropes, apparently letting the george foremans of the oncological world beat it to a pulp. not that neutropenia is really that worrisome per se, but it does strip a certain sheen of invincibility from the whole project. i now have to be careful about the health of the people i come into contact with. people with casual illnesses need not apply.

the major complaint i can hurl at it all is really just a creeping sense of decrepitude. there's nothing colossally the matter, but i'm just tireder than i should be, more prone to infection than i should be, feeling the creak in my joints more than i should be, losing far, FAR more hair than i should be. these are inconveniences rather than ailments, but i do so look forward to a time when my youthful vigour has been fully restored. people say it can take up to 6 months before you really restabilise after chemo. but i say pish to them. the instant i am out of this mess i am going to beat the living hell out of my body. with fun. it'll appreciate it i'm sure.

.............................................

1. for those who tried to rock: a memorial to all those bands that never survived the teenage years, those who, despite the months spent whiling out in their parents' garage, never actually made it to the big time. as a kid with neither the musical talent nor social prowess needed to play in a band in high school, this is all very cute.



2. extinction timeline: a timeline of various conceptual and physical extinctions from 1950-2050. spelling has until 2025 it seems, and we'll be saying goodbye to sit down breakfasts some point around 2018. which will be sad.

3. playing jack sparrow: a man describes the experience of playing jack sparrow at disneyland. apparently disney are a vile corporation. who would've thought.



4. the day there was no news: gorgeously put together video of newscasters in various states of inactivity. quite evocative.



5. young me, now me: a variable, but sweet concept where people submit photos of themselves as small children and then try to recreate those photos as their adult selves. some peoples' dedication to the cause is impressive. mine would involve me wearing grey short shorts and a woolen vest while sitting on a brick step and hoeing into a cold leg of lamb the size of my head. i was a hungry child.



6. manbabies: kinda similar. but kinda different.



7. bill o'reilly loses his shit - the remix: surprisingly good remix of the truly detestable bill o'reilly going absolutely apeshit on air. leaves me with a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

weekly posts it is



my hair has started to fall out. like within the past couple of hours. pre-dinner = fine. post-dinner = evacuation. maybe it was something i ate. but it did take a while. i was beginning to worry that i'd never be able to use my baldness material again...ah, cancer, the saviour of my comedy. i'm already starting to think about the potential for a melbourne comedy show. something along the lines of 'luke's got cancer'. yes, that has some punch to it. some saw an inoperable tumour. i saw a career opportunity... although quite possibly the shedding may not be so severe this time - after the inital hair explosion back in december i barely lost a hair for the next 6 weeks. hence my having to shave the regrowth every few days, so as to avoid looking like a cactus with eyes. which is something i never really thought i'd have to avoid looking like, but, well, here we are.

..........................................

1. phone sex - the book: phillip toledano takes photos of phone sex operators and gets them to write a small piece about their work. oddly lovely and insightful vignettes.



2. the something store: cute concept store where you give them ten dollars and they send you something. could be anything really, from clothes to remote controlled cars to alarm clocks to wall ornaments. i wonder when they'll open an australian branch. although they explicitly say that under no circumstances will you be sent any kind of human tissue. disappointing.

3. the ACME catalogue: my god i loved/continue to love looney tunes cartoons. and as we all know, the linchpin of the looney tunes universe was the mighty acme corporation, producers of, well, a lot really. fortunately someone has compiled all the many ACME inventions into one handy webpage sized catalogue.



if you want to chew through an idle few hours, then start revisiting the glory via youtube. they've aged remarkably well, courtesy of impeccable orchestration and an amazing sense of comic timing. for some reason, someone being shot in the face without consequence will always be funny. as such, this has got to be one of the best cartoons ever made.



4. the 100 dollar project: asks the burning question: how many people can you hire to sit in a room for one hour for $100 in different countries? well, maybe the question isn't all that 'burning', but it's still kinda cool. in china, apparently, the answer is 'quite a lot'.



5. and to leave you with a sour, slightly detestable taste in your mouth, here's a link to a 60 second sample of corey worthington's latest venture (you remember, the fucknut who's apparently stringing a career out of the fact that he managed to lose control of a party): a brutally and unintentionally ironic take on the beastie boys' seminal parody of jock culture 'fight for your right to party'. horrific.

Monday, May 12, 2008

like lazarus reborn



well, things got a little shaky there for a couple of weeks, but we're back now. in life and blog form. purportedly dire surgical pronouncements notwithstanding, i think everything has begun to stabilise somewhat. having the concept of amputation usefully proffered to you is, it must be said, a reasonably visceral experience. but with the gift of a few weeks, it becomes easier to recast the results in a more positive light; indeed, i'm probably facing up to the best possible outcome given the size and placement of the tumour. amputation was probably always going to be the surgical option on offer, they just didn't tell me. and i didn't ask. easier for everyone that way. but the fact that i'm currently in a position where i have an option over whether or not to indulge in surgery is very fortunate. had my tumour's response to the treatment been less than total, the choice regarding the amputation may have been correspondingly less than equivocal. as is, there's still plenty of uncertainty in my long-term prospects - sarcomas are notoriously aggressive - but plenty of reason to believe that a reasonably non-traumatic outcome could be on the cards. and hell, if nothing else this probably just accelerates my repatriation to melbourne - i have my last dose of chemo on the 21st of june, so could conceivably return at some point in july. we'll have to wait and see though. which seems to be the general shape of things at the moment. uncertainty gives your life an odd cast; a depthlessness, or free-floating lassitude. but maybe that's just a vague lethargy brought on by the hardcore regimen of radiation and high-powered cytotoxins they're feeding me. actually, come to think of it, that's much more likely...

...................................

but enough self-important existential wrangling. on to the links!

1. sorry i missed your party: a guy trawls through flickr to find and post people's obscure party photos. almost as much fun as being there.



2. crash bonsai: cute and quirky art project where miniature cars are made to crash into miniature trees to create minature models. adorably tragic.



3. the psychology of wine: a piece from the new york times on the various factors contributing to people's appreciation of wine. validates my inability to really distinguish wine types.

4. a stunning piece of video/street art by buenos aires based artist 'blu'



5. a reasonably well-done video on the social absurdities of facebook. chortle.



6. a spike jonze directed skate video set to m83's 'lower your eyelids to die with the dawn'. also has lots of explosions. like skateboarding in the somme.



more soon. i promise.

Friday, April 11, 2008

i burn, you burn, we all burn for melbourne



radiotherapy finished up last thursday, and thus brought to an end my pre-surgical treatment plan. now i have a PET scan (the one that checks for activity) on the 21st, and an MRI (the one that sees exactly where it's sitting/what it's attached to) a couple of weeks after that. which is the kind of window i need to justify another trip to this beautiful city. currently rendered even more wonderful by the final week of the comedy festival. yes, yes. it's all research. so far i've seen (aside from the 24 hour show, which, while still an amazing experience, could not live up to the almost life-changing experience that was last years)

glenn wool - here describing his dissatisfaction with contemporary swearing. reasonably offensive. while this bit didn't make it into the show we saw, he was nonetheless absolutely fucking hilarious.



daniel kitson - who has evidently decided that embedding is too good for him, but you can find his gala performance from 2003 here. his show went for nigh on two hours and was the most lucid, enervating, philosophically charged, enagaging piece of comedy i think i've ever seen. the man is doing wonderful things with the medium.

josie long - sweet, endearing, quirky female comic from the uk. one of those girls who is so adorable that when she swears it makes your heart melt. not necessarily hilarious (not a huge amount of videos kicking about), but this video of her describing her favourite books remains fairly heart-warming.



reginald d. hunter - this video from the gala is far, far different to his show (though no less funny). his show was slow and measured, filled with odd pauses and drawn out sentences. you don't often see a comedian control themselves like hunter. there's never any apology for the things he says and the way he says them. he'll just let them hang, leave 4-5 seconds of silence, and then resume in an entirely different vein of thought. quite remarkable. also, quite funny.



still yet to come: phil nichol, kristen schaal (mel from flight of the conchords) and mark watson. plus late night comedy and assorted party fun times. oh so good.

and if you're in the mood for my self-indulgence, this is a video of a set i did two weeks ago in perth



and finally, this is the best thing i've seen since that count video. my god he sounds drunk:

Sunday, March 30, 2008

almost there



three more bursts of radiotherapy and i'm through phase two of this semi-arduous process. hard to know where the time's gone really. people continually ask me how i fill in my days and i'm constantly at a loss as exactly how to answer them. certainly i'm not bored, but i still haven't made it through the backlog of books and tv shows that i had intended/presumed to by this point in the process. the internet accounts for a lot, surely. google reader is next best thing to a live-in partner given the amount of time i devote to it. i'm also spending a huge amount of time immersed in music of all descriptions, which is rather lovely. another tick next to the internet. then there's the obligatory facebook communiques. internet again. blogs. internet. news. internet. idle wanderings. internet.


and sometimes, i leave the house.

..................................

1. will it blend?: at some point in early 2007 a man by the name of tom dickson had an ingenious idea as to how best market his range of high-powered, ultra-resistant food blenders. he'd use them to blend a range of normal household products, including rakes, ipods, bic lighters and glow sticks, and then release them as a series of videos on the internet. the rest is viral marketing history.



anyone else keen to do a buy-in to get one of these babies? this has theme party written all over it...

2. movies in typography: a great blog post compiling together the best examples of movie scenes told only through animated typography. some of them are brilliantly inventive.



3. the 8 least impressive guiness world records: i can remember the magic of the guiness book of world records dying tragically for me when i realised that the ability to toss a cow pat farther than any other human who had decided to toss a cow pat was perhaps not worthy of official recognition. this list brings together a lovely assortment of those moments.

4. the battle for wikipedia's soul: now anyone who has broached the topic of the internet with me in the last year or so will probably know that i rank wikipedia as among humanity's greatest achievements (notwithstanding this somewhat depressing list of the most needlessly detailed wikipedia entries). with it's ethic of free collaboration, free access and non-profitability, nothing seems to symbolise the potential of the internet to invert/radically shift the power structures of the pre-digital age than the further development of wikipedia. however, the economist here picks out the emerging tension between the inclusionists, those who think wikipedia should include everything that it's contributors choose to contribute, and the deletionists, those who think varying amounts of quality control are needed to prevent the encyclopedia from collapsing into triviality/irrelevance, and how these increasingly bitter editorial feuds are starting to impact upon the collaborative base upon which wikipedia was founded. the missing wikipedians page provides a compelling glimpse of the users and their reasons for leaving. given the recent emergence of google's 'knol' project, with its focus upon individual merit and proclaimed authorship, it's an interesting time for the wikipedia project.

5. the top 25 tv put-downs: a magazine called 'radio times' decided that it was within its remit to do a poll on the best put-downs from the past 40 years of television. my personal favourite, patsy from absolutely fabulous: "one more facelift on this one and she'll have a beard". oh zing. zing.

6. and finally, this. stare at the centre of the picture for thirty seconds and then look away while blinking rapidly. coooooooooool.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

cancer: an exercise in stasis



man, things were exciting at the get go. there were diagnoses, treatment plans, scans, life upheaval and emotional superfluity. now it's all just variants on low-impact routine. radiotherapy is monday to friday, but for 10 minutes apiece. as lizzi said 'it's just like a 9-5 job. but 9-910'. with that said, they very rarely get me in and out in the allotted ten minutes, and i have had multiple opportunities to further avail myself of the daytime television force-fed to the waiting patients at the sir charles gardiner cancer centre. so, what have i learnt?

1. ready, steady cook is as good evidence as any as to why we might still be considered minnows on the global entertainment stage.

2. dr. phil is even more odious than previously assumed. at one point he based a show around the dr. phil house, in which he collected together a racist, a black, female social elitist, a guy who hates society and a misogynist in a house while he force-fed them his own brand of social normalcy. and it wasn't the earnest attempts at group personal development that really grated, but rather dr. phil's earnest brand of self-congratulatory, auto-erotic ego massage. and then at one point someone in the waiting room asked if they could turn it up. and they did. and i withered a bit inside.

i also hold out severe worries for the calibre of human stashed in his studio audience. watching an excerpt from the christmas special, in which they 'shocked' the audience by rewarding them with medium-quality giftwares (0.5 carat diamond earrings! a credit card with $200 loaded on it! because that's really going to take the pressure off!) i couldn't help but notice the tears streaking the faces of a number of audience members. to paraphrase lydia millet from her novel 'oh pure and radiant heart', it seems that the idea of secular america doesn't so much refer to a diversification of beliefs as it does a diversification of demagogues. everybody's still looking for their messiah. and maybe dr. phil could be it. what jesus would have looked like if he could have held on for another couple of decades.

3. oprah can get a laugh out of the line 'you know how you always pack too much?'. maybe i'm trying too hard...

but radiotherapy is pretty low impact, and to this point in time i've only been left with eerily geometric radiation burns on my front and back (which are really just low-end sunburns, but 'radiation burns' has that little extra kick, you know?), a slight morning scratch in my throat and some moderate lethargy. i am becoming a nap ninja. last week they kept on rostering me on at 8/9 am, so i'd sleep for 5-6 hours, get up, go for treatment, come home and sleep for another 2-3, get up, do what i do during the day, and then go down again around 5. it's like looking into the lifestyle i'll be living when i'm 80. although hopefully without the tumour.

in other news, my hair is coming back. like jesus himself (that's an easter joke). at this point in time it seems darker than before, and my facial hair is considerably thicker and darker too. other body hair is returning as well. which makes it look kinda like i'm going through puberty all over again. exciting times.

and finally, i'm back in melbourne from the 6th to the 19th of april. make space in your social calendars.

..........................................

1. the procrastination flowchart: a fair explanation of why this blog gets updated so irregularly.

2. the best medical pictures from 2007: i'm kinda disappointed i didn't make it in. this is a picture of red blood cells leaking from a ruptured blood vessel. coooooooool.




3. the playmobil security checkpoint: getting kids scared early. playmobil cavity search cubicle sold separately.


4. presumably the dollar palace has gotten rid of wal-marts ever so onerous 'pants' policy



5. what ronald mcdonald used to look like. as someone said, the subtitle to this ad could quite easily be 'how to lure a child into your car in 60 seconds'. or possibly just 'gone in 60 seconds'.



6. let's paint and exercise tv. against a backdrop of hypercolour camera effects, a rumpled, unfit man in a paint spattered suit runs on a treadmill while painting badly, taking abusive calls and pursuing other side interests - in this episode, making blended drinks. all at the same time. so awesome. so overstimulating.



from a list of the 7 most insane moments on cable access television (which is worth browsing in its entirety - if you dare, no. 1, the 'merrill howard kalin show', can be found here)

7. a news anchor and roving reporter crack the shits at each other. fabulous television.




and i'm done. enjoy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

absurdity



and that's me being consumed by the immensity of the stage at his majesty's, photo courtesy of a friend seated well back in the gods. this photo was taken at almost the exact moment that i managed to accidentally turn off my microphone at the very beginning of the set. which was not the best way to soothe my already jangling nerves. as a result my opening gambit kinda fell flat, and i then spent half the set trying to win over the sections of the crowd who were convinced that i was just an aberrant character comic trying to make jokes about cancer because he had no hair. i won them over by the end, but the damage had been done. weird, and a tad disappointing, but still, it was one hell of an experience. especially for my 9th set of stand-up...


....................................................

1. judge a book by its cover: a librarian in america keeps a catalogue of the worst covers she encounters in her day to day work. i gotta say, i do enjoy this hawaiian pidgin bible:



EDIT: oh my good lord. the pidgin bible has a web page. with extracts. go here now!

But da angel guy say, “No scared. I come fo tell you guys Good Stuff From God dat goin make you guys an all da peopo stay good inside. Dis day inside King David's town, one boy wen born dat goin take you guys outa da bad kine stuff you stay doing. He da Christ Guy, da Spesho Guy God Wen Send. He da Boss." (Luke Tell Bout Jesus 2:10-11)


2. 41 awesome science fair experiments: photographs of some sterling science projects being staged by america's best and brightest. as my mate dave said, i so want to hang out with this guy:



3. LOLTapirs: this is exactly what you think it is.

4. OM NOM NOM NOM: this, on the other hand, is not.

5. song charts: a flickr photo pool where people upload semi-scientific graphs of the logic behind popular songs. this is kinda what my thesis was about. only not really.



and to keep in the mood of the day, here's a video that no amount of explaining could possibly explain:



now go waste your days! back soon

p.s. a casual reminder that i'm also a regular contributor to electrorash, a melbourne based electro/indie/awesome music blog, so head over and see what else is keeping me occupied at the moment

Thursday, February 28, 2008

all continues apace



i began radiotherapy last tuesday. despite the process essentially boiling down to me holding very still while they shoot me with gamma rays, it's all a bit of a non-event. well, at least to this point in time. each treatment lasts from between 5-10 minutes, although most of that is just spent positioning you on the table. the actual blasts themselves are completely invisible and last for about 3-4 seconds a pop. then you get up, put your shirt back on and get on with your life. still no signs of potential side effects, but they're probably unlikely to emerge for another week or two anyway. i was rather disappointed to work out that the chances of me turning into the incredible hulk are apparently minimal, but i'm still hoping that at the very least i might end up with an incredible hulk shoulder. and when i get angry it turns green and huge, and shoulder butts its way through a tank. with me hanging on the end like a marionette puppet... even so, everyone continues to tell me that radiotherapy is as nothing compared to the chemotherapy shitstorm... but then i look back to the almost complete lack of tangible effects that the chemo had on me, and i wonder if that adage can possibly hold.

.................................

other news of import:


1. i got through my raw semi-final. next stop is the state final, on at his majesty's theatre on march 8. in front of 1200 people. shit me running. tickets are available through BOCS

2. i had been hoping to do a couple of elective units at uwa this semester in order to chip away at the 15 odd units that i presumed i still had left in my law degree. however, in a rather... odd turn of fate, it turns out that, by a miracle of modern academia, la trobe only thinks i have 5 units left to do. yes, by the mere act of transferring my degree to another state, i have lopped two thirds of it off. i now have less law to do than most of my friends. this is both hilarious, and slightly unnerving. they've credited me for trusts (because it was bundled up with equity) despite the fact that i have never done trusts, and really have absolutely no idea what they are or how they work. hopefully they won't come up in any future interviews...

........................

odds and sods:

1. stuff white people like: this does exactly what it says on the packet. a blog of things that are peculiarly white, such as #70: difficult breakups"" or "#67: standing still at concerts". brilliantly done.

2. fuck i hate garfield. i mean, everyone does, but for me it goes deeper you know. i feel like he stole certain portions of my childhood. luckily some form of comic redemption is at hand, because similarly resentful individuals have been doing experiments in garfield. first up we have the classic random garfield generator which simply combines three disparate garfield panels and mashes them together to form a newly absurdist take on feline-canine-human interactions. and then we also have garfield minus garfield, a collection of garfield strips that have had the cat removed. leaving jon to speak aimlessly into the air. it's like, existential, and shit.

3. a distressing, but awesome video of a slow motion karate chop. this clip is made by the sound effects.



4. a wonderfully embarrassing video of a man attempting a public proposal at an nba game but being rejected by the object of his affection. i can only hope that if something similar ever befalls me, there'll be a giant mascot on hand to aid with the comforting. commentators would also help.



5. a man using crystal glasses filled with different amounts of water to form music. i can only imagine how many hours of hard work and experimentation it must have taken to get to this point, and exactly how little real world application it actually has.



and that's plenty. more soon. or as warranted.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

audiovisuals




back from a thoroughly enjoyable, if not a little flat-strap tour of melbourne and its people. was good to feel part of the rhythms again though. there's a lot to like there. but it remains a future contingency for the moment, and perth has plenty to keep my thoughts busy. my raw comedy semi-final is on this thursday at the charles street hotel, and i'm doing a run through of the material at the shapiro comedy night at the brisbane hotel on tuesday. i'm rather excited actually. and if the prospect of 5 solid minutes of jokes about cancer gets you all hot under the collar then you should come to one/both of them. tumour humour is the new aids.

...........................

remember prince? me too. what i don't remember is this 1987 incident involving james brown and a black michael jackson all whiling out on stage together. only problem is that prince seems like he may be a little... hepped up. as they say on the streets. best vocal performance ever? almost definitely



if i was manager of an office, everyone would be using hawaii chairs. hell, i'm tempted to get one for home. i just can't get that jingle out of my head...



and finally for some audio. radiohead's 'in rainbows' was not only a pretty stonking album, it was also a pretty stonking exercise in the capacities of digital distribution. their 'pay as much as you want' policy was both reasonably revolutionary, and awesome. of course a subsequent experiment by the slightly less cultish trent reznor and saul williams entitled 'the inevitable rise and liberation of niggy tardust' has not fared so well, but the idea of freely available music underpinning a new musical economy is kinda intoxicating. but i digress. yesterday i stumbled upon a project by producer/dj amplive called 'rainydayz', a hip-hop recreation of 'in rainbows'. despite being hit with a cease and desist halfway through, amplive managed to plead his case and now the album is available for FREE from the website behind these words. While it's a little patchy, there's some pretty cool tracks on there and it also features vocals by a whole suite of mcs, including perennial favourites chali 2na (who has the deepest voice in the universe) and del the funky homosapien (who doesn't). definitely worth the download though. think of it as doing your bit for the new musical age.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

of idle delays and imminent returns




somehow my flight to melbourne has been delayed by two and a half hours, meaning that it now leaves 15 minutes prior to its immediately subsequent melbourne-bound brother. how a flight which takes little more than three hours can be delayed by close to the entirety of its duration isn't wholly clear to me, but it's given me a fine opportunity to take advantage of the free food, beer and internet available from the wonderful world of the qantas lounge. i'm onto my second rotation on the buffet. they've introduced pan-asian finger food. exciting.

more exciting (probably) is the fact that i'm actually going back to melbourne. albeit briefly. still, a week in this fabulous city is more than enough to get me all hot under the collar. it's coming courtesy of the enforced break between chemo and radiotherapy, which doesn't kick in until the 19th. and there's people to see, festivals to attend, bars to frequent and stand-up to do. oh my lord yes. had a meeting with oncologist last tuesday which seemed to clarify the likely shape of the next few months as well. i'll have radiotherapy from the 19th of feb to the 4th of april, followed by another six week break as i wait for my body to de-irradiate itself before we look into surgery around mid-may. best case scenario (i.e. no chemo post-operatively) i should be done around my birthday, medium-case (i.e. chemo post-operatively) and i should be done some time in auagust. which might be too late for second semester, but i think this city's going to struggle to keep me in place for another 6 months. ah, melbourne. you're so close i can almost smell you.

..............................

and while we're in the mood for filling in time, here's a few odds and sods to occupy those idle minutes.

1. want to feel worse about your place of employment? then spend a while browsing 'this ain't no disco, it's where we work', a collection of workplaces that have poured more money into their office design than you have into your house. makes those demountable cubicle partitions we know and love look pretty sweet if you ask me.



2. while we're on the topic of design, hows aboot some floating salt and pepper shakers. fuck to the yeah. i could live in cardboard and still be content if i had some of these.



3. show some valentines love. order chocolate miis, for your significant other/tennis arch-rival. send your mii designs to paul pape and enjoying eating each others digital representation in chocolate form. how... lovely.



4. jennifer maestre makes sculptures out of pencils. i'm sure she does other things with her life as well, but this is too cool.



5. news from the world of science that men could be made redundant, as scientists have successfully created sperm cells out of female embryonic stem cells. while the process is still incomplete, it raises the possibility that viable, genetically diverse human pregnancies could be produced from two women alone. interesting...

6. and finally, the good people at reuters have compiled a debunk-heavy list of the seven greatest medical myths. as someone who has for years been arguing that shaving body hair could not possibly cause it to come back thicker, i can't help but feel slightly vindicated.


and would you look at that, my plane boards in ten minutes. thank christ.