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.