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
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
more of phatness.
you see a chinchilla scuttling across the marble floor
SQUEEAAK-turn as the chinchilla scrabbles to get a foothold on the slipperiness
the chinchilla falls down.
"oh my poor babybabyyyyyy"

"hello hello?"


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.