» Radiation tri-blade » I saw my chemo doctor today .. for the last time. "You look fantastic. So it looks like we're done. I dont need to see you anymore. There's no more that I can do for you. You still have two doctors who will be watching you closely. And they have the scopes."

No More Chemo Doctor (7 Months Out)

I was surprisingly sad .. for such a happy occasion. Maybe I just wasnt ready for it.

I called cousin Patty when I got out of there and told her the news.

"They should tell you the visit before," I said, "that next time might be our last meeting if all goes well."

I mean, for them, it must become just a job .. when you see so many people and do so much of it. And they have pretty much said as much.

But for the patient (uh, like me) it is literally a matter of life-n-death. So they become to you someone special .. something very special.

And my emotions have been all over the map these last several months .. and now (late at night) I am feeling soo happy.

Because I realized that » I NO LONGER HAVE A CHEMO DOCTOR. And more importantly » what that means.

I mean, I was saying to myself over and over » "I dont have a chemo doctor. I dont have a chemo doctor. I dont have ..."

Almost as if it were too wonderful and fantastic for me to fully comprehend.

And I literally did that "Yes!" arm-flex thing that the kid does in Home Alone when he trick-fucks the two mangy bandits with all those ingenious booby traps.

There is head-warp, mind-torque feeling to it. I mean, it kinda means that I am now a different person. In rather significants ways.

And I can feel myself adjusting inside and adapting.

So, my chemo doctor said that these two other doctors are going to continue to keep an eye on me.

"But you're my favorite," I said.

And I do trust her. I do feel safe with her. That is huge.

But medical companies do not pay for an oncologist to see you just because you like them.

I can still feel the impact of the realization hitting me.

And as circumstances would have it .. after the chemo doctor's nurse walks me out to the main lobby via a way that I had never before taken .. in order to avoid an emergency response situation blocking the normal route.

.. standing there is one of the dudes who I saw daily for 2 months straight while I was receiving radiation treatment .. with fantastic doses of radiation to my neck and throat.

Main lobby | Moores Cancer Center, La Jolla

He was probably the main one. There were a total of 7 people (4 girls and 3 guys) who set me up for each, daily radiation shot .. but he was probably there the most.

And the relationships that you develop with these operators who run the multi-million dollar radiation machines .. because you are there so often for so long .. it's truly a challenge to describe.

Because they are good at what they do. And making you feel comfortable is part of that. And this is very scary shit for the patient. And they know that.

And I would so very much enjoy these little daily rendezvouses with these people .. that is how good they were.

There are always at least two of them setting you up on the table, literally locking down your face, so it doesnt move. (At all.) And usually a third doing other things somewhere round about, but not hands-on .. like the other two.

And I took great note of the way the chemistry in the room would change from when there were two guys (one on each side of me) .. to a guy and a girl .. and finally two girls.

And I could go into great detail here, but I will spare you the ramblings of a madman on chemotherapy and getting blasted daily by monster doses of radiation.

But my point is that .. of ALL the many meaningful relationships that you develop at Moores .. and yes, there are many excellent ones .. of all of them, the ones that you develop with these radiation-machine operators .. these relationships are the most intimate, by far.

For reasons which I could elaborate on ad nauseum .. but I wont. And not because I wouldnt enjoy it.

But they literally strap you down to a table and close a huge metal door behind you .. the size of a freaking bank-vault door .. I shit you not. So that you are the only one in the room.

You are the only living biological matter in that room .. due to the fantastic doses of radiation coming out of this machine.

You will never see any flies flying around inside one of these radiation-accelerator rooms. No, sir. Never. Fly-strips not needed. Feel me? Even the cockroaches somehow know to stay away. Just you.

And this multi-million dollar machine is pointing RIGHT AT YOU. Right at your throat, in fact. Your neck.

And the actual shots last only 3 minutes, but it probably takes them 10 to set you up. And there is this rather annoying alarm-sounding noise during the actual shot. So it is not the easiest thing to relax .. during those 3 minutes. Even if they are piping in to you some Ray Charles Georgia on my mind.

And you spend both Christmas eve and New Years eve with these people. They are literally there for you.

And you never really know which ones you are gonna have any given day. They change things up and move around from machine to machine.

There was one girl in particular that I really liked. Tho I probably shouldnt say any more. But you know, the patient is in a very vulnerable place. And she had that sparkly thing going off all around her. Or maybe it was just my vulnerability reaching out to something compassionate that I saw in her.

I was pretty wowwed by the level of intimacy and trust that I was able to develop with her .. in a rather short period of time.

The superficial things of life tend to fall away when they strapping in your face to the radiation machine.

I will not say that I was flirting with her .. but I was totally letting my instincts explore the character and the contours and the boundaries of this most unusual of relationships .. which might have involved some flirting. I can assure you that it was 100% natural organic flirting.

And I remember thinking, "Wow, this is a beautiful creature. I did not know that such creatures even existed." Which naturally makes you want to know more. No?

There is a form of flirting which is more about the beauty of the soul behind the voice .. than the sexual appeal presented by the fitness of the body. Tho having both seems better than either one alone .. no?

And your curiosity naturally wonders if the creature is really as beautiful as she seems. So you begin to probe with probing questions and you watch her reactions to your potentially provocative statements.

But most of all, you (closely) watch her eyes .. when she first sees you, and the last eye contact you make before you leave. People can say things with their eyes that they can't say with their mouths. Because it's hard to hide when you genuinely like someone.

Anyway, I've said too much. So I will quit.

» Intimacy

Tho, this might be a good place to address the topic of » intimacy. Writers are supposed to » write what they know, and write what only they can write. So the subject of intimacy might qualify for me here.

Because I am indeed familiar with the subject and have considerable experience exploring all aspects of this terrifying topic. Tho surely, many others have experienced and can write well about the topic. So let me try to add something unique.

Because I used to avoid intimacy .. at all costs. True intimacy .. where you begin to see and become aquainted with the real (flawed) person behind the veil .. beyond the superficial niceties .. which many people have told me that I am very good at.

And yes, there is a risk/reward structure here that you must negotiate .. a rather severe risk/reward structure .. that comes with the proposition of intimacy.

But when you feel icky, yucky, dirty, and flawed inside .. you dont really jump at the idea of letting people past/beyond your well-constructed outer shell.

And it is easy to feel this way if people tell you all your life what a piece of shit you are.

But when you feel like and truly believe that inside resides a creature created by a loving God .. then you are able to bring a confidence to an intimate relationship ..

.. where you can say, "Let me show you what I mean."

Which is much more difficult to do when you feel like inside you are a worthless piece of shit. Because you naturally dont want anybody to how really ugly and fucked up you are inside. This should make sense to anybody.

And sure, much depends on the partner .. on the other end of the relationship. Which is why you are looking for the girl who sparkles. And does that cool thing when she makes eye contact with you.

This has been my experience, anyway. And this is the feeling that I got from this girl .. that she was indeed a beautiful creature, both inside and out .. and she knew it.

And therefore she wasnt threatened by my probings .. quite the opposite. Because a beautiful person will respond beautifully.

So, now I have really said too much.

Today I am » 7 months out.

My blood is still anemic .. having risen to 12.1 from 11.0 three months prior (.. where 13.7 - 17.5 represents the normal band).

There are a bunch of things still low, such as white blood cell count. But they are all moving in the right direction, and none of them concern her (my chemo doctor) enough to need to keep seeing me.

And the clinical trials girl stopped by to give me a hug. There was another excellent relationship. She was easily my MVP. Most Valuable Person.

I even picked up one of these forms that your submit for super-excellent customer service, so to speak.

I told her, "Whatever award they give you, it could not possibly compensate for the gratitude I feel." True that.

I remember her saying when we first met, "We'll be spending a lot of time together over these next several months."

I can look back now and see how I had no clue about what she was talking about at the time. If she sprouted the wings of an angel, I would not be so very surprised.

I remember calling her late at night, a little freaked out about something, and expecting to leave a message on her cell, and her taking the call. Long after business hours are over. You cannot image how comforting that is.

Of all the things I heard today, perhaps the thing that make me feel best .. was when the clinical trials girl told me that ALL patients have trouble putting the weight back one .. and that I'm not the only one.

This represents perhaps my rudest post-treatment realization .. and yes, there are others. [ Such as Biotene becoming a way of life. FedEx just delivered today a package containing over $25 worth of Biotene that I ordered from Drugstore.com. And that's with a 15% discount off of all items. ]

But I thought that, after treatment, I would be packing on the pounds with ease.

I thought my natural appetite would return and cause me eat tons of yummy comidas .. but this has been far from the case.

When treatment was done, I had dropped 30 lbs, frighteningly fast. And afterwards, when they didnt want to see me for a month, I ate when I felt like eating ..

.. and lost another 10 lbs without even realizing that I had lost it. (until I stepped on a scale to check.)

That scared me. Because you cant stay alive if you cant keep the weight from falling off. Not for very long, anyway. (Nobody can.)

So I realized that day that I cant just rely on my appetite .. that I need to make myself eat .. even when I might not feel like it.

It has been a battle. On another topic ...

Dude, I havent been to Moores in two months. They are building like crazy. You used to be able to step out of the main Moores entrance and easily see the Radiation PET/CT building on the hill across the street where I received my radiation shots.

Main lobby | Moores Cancer Center, La Jolla

Now there is a huge 4-level parking structure in the way and they are building a whole separate structure for the new Chemo Infusion center .. which right now is one of the wings at the main Moores building. (To your left in the big photo just above.)

And that is not even including the beautiful new 10-story hospital right around the corner (behind you in the photo, about a football field or two away) .. which is scheduled for completion next year. I can only imagine the views.

I no longer have a chemo doctor.

That whole experience left me a little disoriented .. but I started to feel better after talking to Patty.

I can feel myself processing. (You are reading some of my processing. Probably more than I should be sharing. But I just feel so good right now.)

Speaking of processing identity shifts .. I told my chemo doctor what the girl said about me having the Michael Douglas disease and how slutty that made me feel.

And she was quick to jump. "Absolutely not. It's like pregnacy » it only takes once. It's not a sign of promiscuity. Sometimes I have to sit there with a husband/wife couple and tell them and one is looking at the other like, 'You sleaze-bucket, you'."

No, she did not say 'sleaze-bucket,' but that's what she meant.

And I told her that the radiation doctor said that you could have this virus as a kid, and she said, "No." (And she did not stutter. Or hesitate.)

So she is saying that the only way to get this virus is sexually.

I'm not sure why it makes me feel slutty, because it doesnt change the number of sexual partners I have had. (Nor their quality. Or their moral fabric.)

Want me to count for you? Names? Should I include names? Kiss & tell? I have stories. Let me tell you. Truth is definitely stranger than fiction.

I also saw my surgeon last week and he could not find anything concerning.

He said that I need a PET scan at 1-year point and that he would order it if the radiation doctor did not.

"You have to fight with them sometimes. Nobody likes to fight with them."

Tho I remember my chemo doctor saying, about them shipping me boxes of Ensure .. when I was losing weight like a madman » "I called them up and told them, that if they didnt approve my request, I was going to drive over their and personally kick all their asses."

I exaggerate, sure .. but not much.

She is a Detroit girl. You dont want a Detroit driving over to kick your ass. (Trust me. Detroit girls know how to fight dirty.)

The clinical trials girl said that they have been getting big denials from the insurance companies the last few months. For everybody.

Because my 4-month PET scan identified some areas of concern, which bear watching closely.

They dont think these areas are cancer, but they cant be sure. Usually not such a problem if you catch it early enough. Maybe a little lazer snippage and done.

If you make it 2 years clean, you can still get it back, but your odds fall off precipitiously.

And when your odds of getting a certain cancer fall off precipitiously, this is generally considered a good thing.

Six months is 25% of the way to the precipitious 2-year drop. I am 7 months out, today. With no more chemo doctor. Wow.

"You are still anemic and your white blood cell counts are still low, but your blood is improving and everything is heading in the right direction. And you look fantastic. I never wanna have to see you again. Gimme a hug you cancer-free butterfly."

To be continued? Who knows where the Rad wind blows these days?

» Award-Winning Coffee from Guatemala to Help Celebrate My First Cancer Survivor Hurdle

Coffee Roaster at Kean Coffee in Newport BeachRight now it seems to be blowing over to a cup of award-winning coffee .. which I ordered from my old coffee shop in Newport Beach.

Which I ordered for myself as a way to reward myself for successfully passing the first important cancer survivor hurdle. I dont want to take anything for granted now. You know.

And I so badly wanted this to be a special moment .. downright ceremonial. So I am setting up a table and chair outside, out of the hot sun. And it has been 95 degrees here .. for a few days now.

And I like the heat, yes .. the therapeutic dry desert heat. (We are 10 or 12 miles from the coast.)

But dry mouth has been a persistent problem .. and not just for me. But it beats cancer, so you deal with it .. which means learning to wield the Biotene mojo.

Anyway, I am setting up to do this ceremonial thing .. this 6-month hurdle thing .. and it is 95 degrees out, in the shade. A real scortcher. And I wasnt quite ready to begin the ceremony.

When I suddenly got so freaking thirsty and I had no water or Biotene handy. And the only thing I had was the special coffee .. and I just had to take a quick sip .. and I thought, "Fuck! It's ruined."

My ceremony is ruined .. because my mouth is so dry here in the hot desert air .. which sucks the moisture right out through your skin.

But then, when I tasted it [ I took as small a sip as possible .. in order to preserve as much of the future ceremony as possible. I was actually preoccupied with this other thing. ] and I said » "Oh my God! .. that *is* good!"

Even with my well-chemo'ed and irradiated tastebuds I could still taste the lusciousness, and I was glad that I had ordered it. And that was the start of my celebratory 6-month cancer survivor ceremony.

Kean Coffee Shop in Newport BeachThere was a reason why I wanted to share that award-winning coffee story with you .. tho now I am tired and I forget why.

If it was important, it will come back to me. Blame it on the chemo.

But here is the thing with this coffee .. if you happen to order a bag .. something which I learned about from my days of roasting my own beans in San Clemente ..

.. is that » freshly-roasted beans contain a gas (from the roasting process). And you need to use a French press with freshly-roasted beans .. and keep stirring until all the gasses come out ..

.. which you can tell because the grounds will sink down into the water .. instead of floating up on top.

If you use a drip-style coffeemaker with freshly-roasted beans, the coffee will come out weak and watery .. because the coffee will FLOAT UP ON TOP of the water underneath. (Dont say I didnt warn you, Taylor.)

Full moon coming in a few more days. Last one of the summer. Howling time cometh.

Along with Lawrence Lessig. I wonder what Obama thinks of him.

Oh, lookie here » he is running. That means the geeks are fielding a presidential candidate.

I would be lying if I said that the voice is my head didnt just say » "How do you like *them* apples?"

And he is a smart fucker, too. With an IQ of about 8,000. I told you not to fuck with them, didnt I? I'm sure I did.

He will be bringing the thunder .. Harvard-grade geek thunder .. right to your doorstep. Delivered hot off the press .. just like the LA Times.

You know as well as I do .. that an MIT dude should really be the one to bring the geek thunder. But they were weighed in the balances and found wanting.

You MIT boys need to step up with some super-extraordinary shit in order to atone for your past sins. Which are very bad stains.

And everybody knows you can do it. Use your imagination.

This little light of mine ..

I want to tell Edward Snowden .. that I was walking around the house today .. after I heard the news that Lessig anounced.

And I can feel myself processing in the background .. what that means .. the implications .. so many avenues yet to be fleshed out .. and without even trying .. I started singing (out loud) » "This little light of mine..."

And I was thinking that (.. among a shitload of other things) .. that yes, this is a good thing .. a very good thing.

But it is not really a happy thing. It is actually kinda sad .. that we even need to field such a candidate. That our country has come to such a place. A sad, sorry place.

It is a similar development with the popularity of Donald Trump .. yet another sign that most people dont feel like their government gives a shit about them .. because they are not super-rich or politically connected. (Do the polls lie?)

Our nation's ancestors must be rolling over in their graves.

Geeks are not really into ruling the world. (They got better shit to do.) But when things get soo fucked up .. they have no other choice.

That's how fucked up our country has become.

And I want to say to Mr. Lessig .. knowing what I know about the Entitlement Mentality (.. » "Yes, I deserve to own and possess more wealth than the poorest 150 million people in my country, combined ..." )

.. the ultra-wealthy .. who, by definition, posses such great wealth .. and who dont seem very interested in sharing much of it ..

.. wouldnt you expect them to just take their proverbial ball-n-bat and go home? So to speak. Thereby damaging and crippling the already-unsteady economy.

I am just thinking out loud, here.

"I know I am a sucky batter .. but if you dont let me bat, I'll take my bat and ball and go home."

Did you see that Bernie Sanders went to Liberty University? Wow. Full 28-min speech on YouTube. NYTimes. CNN. Washington Post also has the video. The Atlantic has the best picture of him.

Does he not seem like the man of the hour? Like he was made for this moment? He seems so authentic, so easily authentic .. without even trying. You dont have to listen to him for very long before you can see that he gets it.

Hopefully Mr. Lessig will follow Bernie there .. with a well-taylored, well-crafted, well-delivered message.

"These are my credentials. These are my qualifications. These are my strengths. These are my beliefs. And this is why I'm running."

These kids, by self-definition, are » believers. So beliefs are things that you can compare and contrast .. yours, theirs, and scriptural doctrine.

Actions speak louder.

Are they saying to the poor, "Be warm and filled and I hope a charity comes by to visit you down there at the homeless shelter." ?

Or do they wanna be part of an early twenty-first century movement that turns the current dysfunctional system upside-down and does something about it?

Are they satisfied with the status quo inequality of historic proportions? Or do they want to help overturn the tables of the money-changers?

» Screening Angelina's Calls

Here is something that I want to share with you .. a column by this Aussie chick named Julia, titled » Was it Cancer? Getting the Diagnosis.

I am totally feeling her. When I read this following paragraph, I started laughing and then crying .. at the same time .. as I continued to read.

What the fuck? I dont think I've ever done that before.

The voice in my head saying, "Dude, how can you be laughing and crying at the same time? One or the other, please. You're kinda freakin' me out. And there is snot running down your nose. I hope nobody sees you like this. You are a mess." (I told you that my emotions have been all over the place.)

See here for Julia's paragraph »

» The operation lasted five hours. The mass was fully removed, but it was far more complicated than anyone expected. I was in intensive care for eight days, in a tangle of wires, beeping machines, with drains in my lungs and my liver. I was so drugged I was hallucinating — Donna Summer was doing water aerobics in the hall outside, Angelina Jolie kept trying to call me (I screened her), a reggae musician sat mute on the end of my bed, my older brother had three heads, one of my feet kept catching fire, and it rained periodically around my bed.

Now I am exhausted from crying. You are crying hard when you are wiping both tears-n-snot together in a single wipe. Probably some sweat there, too.

Notice how she brought up Angelina. All cancer-people are sweet on Angelina. Cuz she knows. Angelina has been there. On both sides of the cancer fence.

So it actually doesnt surprise me that she is screening imaginary calls from Angelina. (Cuz I was screening her calls, too.)

And notice that Julia was also very active, physically. Is this part of a pattern?

Her column reminded me of an email that I received recently from my brother (.. when I had no voice) .. that said he & dad had found mom (years ago) walking in the freezing cold over a bridge wearing nothing but her flimsy hospital gown ..

.. such were there strength of the steroids that they were giving her for brain/lung cancer. She had literally lost her mind. (And mom was big on the mind. The library queen)

I liked Julia's piece so much that I actually dropped links to it in the section where I talk about Carter's cancer diagnosis. (You cannot possibly know what a compliment that represents.)

» Why Am I Crying?

I know WHY I was laughing .. but, I can feel myself trying to figure out why I was crying. (Which is why it was freaking me out.) I have nothing against crying, as you know .. but I just like to know why.

Are there two parts of me? One laughing and one crying? That's kinda how it feels. Am I fragmenting? Did treatment fragment my personality?

Tho it is good that I am feeling things. This way you can process the krap that comes with treatment and the existential trauma that fucks with your head.

If you read her column, then you know that she has two little kids. There is a particularly vicious mind-fuck that comes with a cancer diagnosis when you have little kids.

I honestly dont seen how you could ever imagine the nature of this soul-fucking torment .. without actually experiencing it.

But I could not even discusss that the last time I saw my son I had already grown the tumor in my neck .. to a point where you couldnt miss it .. and I was not feeling so hot.

This was before I went to the doctor .. so before the diagnosis. Before the biopsy. But the voices had already begun speaking to me. Saying the horrible things you could imagine.

A cancer diagnosis brings more than enough anxiety for pretty much anybody. You dont need to add the torment that comes from the thoughts of your kids growing up without a parent.

Oh, the mind-fucking .. you cannot imagine.

And I remember [ here we go deep ] that I was scheduled to have him for the 4th of July for a few days .. and how I kinda had this feeling about the bulge in my neck .. a feeling that was not good.

And how I didnt not think I could handle it .. if both the bulge was bad (cancer) AND there was some kind of discord with my son.

I did not think I was capable of facing cancer .. and all that entails .. very challenging, no matter who you are .. if there was any kind of problem with my son.

I am questioning right now my own abilities to convey both the delicacy and the savageness of the thing.

And I remember praying a prayer .. a heartfelt prayer .. that went something like this » "I know you hear me, because this is coming from my heart .. from way deep in my heart .. because that's pretty much where I am right now .. and I need you to make this time with my son special. You know what I'm saying. And I can feel that I am praying this in faith. So I consider the matter done and settled and I thank you now for it .. in a big way."

And we did .. we did have the coolest time .. on my favorite holiday, no less.

It was so cool, in fact, that it actually made me think of the super-cool time that I had with my mom .. right before she discovered that she had cancer.

Like it felt like a gift from on high .. is probably the best way to describe it. (I'm referring to the time with mom.)

And I remember walking back to the truck with my son after the fireworks were done, thinking, "Is it just me? .. Or were not those the coolest fireworks ever?

I mean, my son was 9 .. so he hasnt really seen very many fireworks. And we are walking up the middle of this side-street, where people are parked everywhere .. and this guy who is walking next to us says, "I've been coming here for 20 years and these fireworks were the best ever, by far."

And when he said that .. I thought of my prayer, and inside I said, "I knew you would come thru. You rock."

» Thank God for the Clinical Trials Girl

I will share a little secret with you .. I did a similar thing when I gifted the clinical trials girl from Moores recently. I sent her a gift certificate from Amazon for $35 .. enough for a nice, quality candle + tax + shipping. [ Or whatever she might like. ]

Nothing too fancy, cuz it's not really about the gift itself .. but rather, it's about expressing appreciation.

I prayed <paraphrasing_on> » "I know you are hearing this .. because it's coming from my heart .. and I am sending this girl a candle .. as an expression of my appreciation .. for what she did for me in my hour of need. I appreciate her and I'm formally asking you to add your special touch. You know what I'm saying. And you know her better than I do. You know best what will convey to her my appreciation. Do that cool signature thing you do. I hereby consider it done. Muchos gracias."

I told her, "I am planning to gift everybody there at Moores who helped me .. but I wanna start with you."

I have the Bamboo-Teak candle myself, as my way of remembering them. Because of the bamboo garden there at Moores. So I know these are nice candles. Amazon has very different prices on the same items.

The writer strives continually to say things that he could not say before. That he could not write before. Things that he was unable to give voice to. And these are things that I could not say or write or give voice to before.

And this whole thing .. this soul-fucking torment that came with the cancer diagnosis .. came about because I am a dad of a young boy. But this girl who wrote that column, Julia .. she is the mom of two young boys.

So the torment must be even more soul-fucking for a mom, no? I can only imagine.

Earlier, I was writing in this entry about the subject of » intimacy. And a part of intimacy .. and probably a big part .. and maybe even a major part .. comes from the feeling that »

  1. you 'get' the other person.
  2. they get you.

It's kinda like the relationship starts off at second base.

Is not the worst thing in a relationship .. when you feel like the other person just doesnt get you? .. that they know nothing about you? The real you. Do not those kinds of relationship feel like a lie?

I know only about this girl what I read here .. but I feel like I 'get' her. And I've never even been to Australia.

Tho I know that Australian guys are no-shit tough .. and if you get in a fight and you have two Australian guys on your side, you probably wont even get dirty .. no matter how many guys are on the other side.

You can actually glean much insight into a person from their writing. And I caught myself analyzing both her style and her content.

And she talks about prayer, which is a very intimate thing. And when I got to the part where she writes about praying hard, I could hear the voice of an old pastor say, "It's not how hard or long you pray or how long you cry, but rather praying in faith .. that God acts on .. that moves the hand of God."

And since she got results (.. the calm amid the storm) .. that tells me that she prayed in faith.

Tho, I should say that .. believing something .. before you have any physical supporting evidence .. that is not as easy as it sounds.

Anyway, I think I am just going to put on my pajamas and vape a hit of this Presidential-grade stuff that I was saving to share with Obama.

Down at Big Corona, of course .. right after we see Snowden's next movie together. [ Official site ]

Have you seen the trailer? .. panning across the inverted American flag .. as This Little Light of Mine plays hauntingly in the background.

Oliver Stone .. you reckon that man knows how to make a movie? Watch-n-see.

I want to tell Oliver Stone .. that I was playing Kingdom Rush with my son, and the newer Kingdom Rush Frontiers (.. from your gaming friends at Ironhide) .. and in these games, one of the audio tracks includes the words » "Say hello to my little friend."

Along with other great movie lines .. such as Bruce Willis' » "Yippie Ki-yay, motherf*cker." [ Tho they beep out the last part. ] My favorite is a recording of what sounds like Clint Eastwood the way he sounds in Dirty Harry, saying, "I see dead people."

And I paused the game and we went to YouTube and I showed him the clip from whence that line came. And he smiled. "Okay .. you wanna play rough?" says Tony Montana.

And I was playing this game in the depths of treatment .. because it made me feel closer to my son .. and because it distracted me from effects of treatment .. when I was feeling like I was at the end of my rope .. my very thin, badly frayed, emotionally distressed rope.

Anyway, I am kinda useless for much else, right now. (Thanks to Julia.) I am a mess.

[ Obama should take some of this Alaskan Thunder Fuck with him when he goes there. How cool would that be. Oh, it looks like you're already there. No wonder you're extending your stay. Were you able to see Russia? ]

» An Emotionally Innovative Version of Anna Karenina with Keira Knightley

Speaking of movies .. Anna Karenina came today from Netflix .. something I have been wanting to see for a long time.

A quick Anna update .. I have just started getting into it. I heard lots about the style and technique that this director used .. very unconventional.

It reminds me of Moulin Rouge! by Baz starring a singing Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor. (Which I very much enjoyed.)

And the question for a director, I would imagine, is » "How do I get the juiciest juice of this 817-page novel into 2 hours and 9 minutes?

So you need to be innovative. But I can already tell that I like the style .. once you get used to it. It works for me. (Is working.)

I saw an interview with Keira back when the film debuted and she said something like, "It's like you are watching, going 'Huh?' and then you go 'Oh, I get it'.".

And when I heard her description, I thought, "That is stupid. What does that even mean, Keira?"

But now I can see that this is exactly how it is. And that time between 'Huh?' and 'I get it' is where you are seeing how the director is playing/telling the story .. at which point you adapt. It's really a very cool thing, I think.

But there is definitely a point where you go, "Oh, I see what he is doing. And I like it, even tho it is unconventional."

I can tell already that this is the most impressed that I have been with Keira Knightley's acting career so far .. by a considerable margin.

A couple of her looks during her beginning interactions with Vronsky reminded me of looks from Diane Lane in A Walk on the Moon and Unfaithful .. where she plays a married woman who sees a man that twitterpates her.

There is a look that Keira gives at t=32 mins, after she sends young kitty to Vronski after dancing with him .. where she looks like she has radiation tri-blade symbols reflected in her eyes. A bevy of heightened emotions reflected in her eyes. Most impressive.

» The Rest of the World Seems to Disappear

I loved the whole dance scene .. how they had the other dancers stop-action.

That is totally how it feels in real life. And then all the other dancers disappear and Vronsky & Anna are left dancing alone in the spotlight. Nailed nicely. Lots of creativity in this film .. much use of artistic license.

I was actually surprised by the intimacy of the kissing scene. They were lingering like real lovers do.

With these type of movies that speak to an emotional narrative .. people tend to either get them or not. There seems to be no middle ground. They either have experiences that lets them relate .. or not.

I was actually more prepared for a movie with a historical approach .. tho I am really loving this emotional journey.

The scne where Anna leaves her boy in the bed on the stage on his birthday and walks that long walk on the hardwood floor .. right past Karenin (Jude Law) .. that was a way-cool shot.

And also the one where she goes out into society and is sitting in the box at the opera when everything suddenly stops and all eyes are focused on Anna and the camera pulls back so that you see everybody looking at her .. with contempt. That shot was great work.

I will reserve ultimate judgment and opinion 'til later .. but I got to the point where they introduce Kitty, who is played by Alicia Vikander .. who I was not familiar with.

And when I see this girl, I know that I know her .. but I can't recall from where. Surely, you have experienced this before.

And it was a weird feeling, because I knew that I should know where I knew this girl/actress from .. but I didnt. No matter how hard I tried to remember.

And I will tell you that the chemo fucks up your memory .. to a degree. And instead of being in denial, I find myself adapting .. to my new post-treatment world.

Shooting for the best outcome, of course, but we all need to live in the world in which we find ourselves right now.

I mean, it bothered me enough that I could not continue to watch the movie .. the voice in my head shouting at me, "Where do you know her from? Where do you know her from?"

» The Ex Machina Girl Uses the Turing Test to Mess With Your Mind

So I paused the DVD and asked the Google. And that's when I saw that she is the Ex Machina girl. Wow. That kinda torques my mind.

Tho Anna was shot first (2012), so she was younger there (compared to 2015 Ex Machina) .. which may be why I had trouble placing her.

Which I saw a week or two ago. I am not going to get into that movie now. Cuz I could go on for a long time. But that movie (Ex Machina) messes with your head .. blurring the line between artificial intelligence and human emotion.

And they use this girl .. to mess with your head. And she does a good job. So it feels like this girl has messed with my head.

It's a weird feeling .. but obviously a very apt conversation to have right now .. given the state and trajectory of technology and computers and artificial intelligence.

And they bring up the Turing test. I wont say that the movie revolves around the idea of the Turing test .. but it certainly plays a major role.

» Free Will

This would be a good place to discuss the concept of free will. I do not feel that we have wills that are as free as we think they are .. or would like to think.

It is well beyond the scope of today's entry, but sometimes, if I mention something, then it's easier to return later and flesh it out.

If you read your bible, then you know how it says that God created man of the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life .. and man became a living soul.

A living soul with the ability to make decisions. (This is such a gigantic tangent.)

And science is working on artificial intelligence .. which programs responses based on situational algorithms.

And as these algorithms get better and better .. the result at least appears to be closer and closer to "a living soul".

This is all I will say for now. But you will no doubt be hearing a lot more of this in the future .. the near future. (Like tomorrow.)

» Fassbender's Girlfriend

But I also noticed that the Google said that this girl is Fassbender's girlfriend .. or at least, she was. And I am thinking .. "You fucker, Fassbender. This girl is 12 years younger."

And I am watching her here in Anna Karenina .. in which she does indeed look very young and innocent. There is definitely something special about her. Tho I am not sure what it is.

She has a morphing thing about her. In her looks. And I am guessing that Fassbender can see this specialness, which is probably what attracted him to her.

Does not Fassbender get all the coolest roles? I first saw him playing Bobby Sands in Hunger, which I heard about from the Dog, who is also Irish, and who spent an entire summer there in Ireland researching a novel .. which apparently involved drinking lots of Irish beer in lots of Irish pubs. (For which the Dog eminently qualified.)

So I knew about Bobby Sands (and other Irish political figures) from the Dog. And after seeing Fassbender's performance there .. I have been impressed with his work ever since. I frankly dont see how anyone could not be. He boldly goes ...

Dude, the rape scene in 12 Years .. wow. Double wow.

» "I Like You, Nicholas"

When I saw a headline that said Fassbender and this special girl had parted ways .. I thought of what little Nicholas said to me one evening after his mom dropped him off (.. there on PCH in Laguna Beach, in this place that used to be a church back in the '40's) ..

.. and after the Film school girl had left me .. for the guy who ran the Sound engineering studio there at USC, where she was going. (The idea of nurturing a starving writer only gets you so far.)

And yes, they are still married .. adding to my catalog of training successes.

Little 10-year old Nicholas said » "You ruined her for all other men."

"I like you, Nicholas," I said. "You can come over here and play games anytime you want." (I was feeling kinda krappy at the time.)

From the mouths of babes ...

Update » I saw an article in the LA Times about Alicia [ a-LISS-sea-uh ] that said she was reported to be Fassbender's girlfriend. So they must still be together. (Good for her.)

Then I would share with Mr. Fassbender what was told to me by the wise, old Texan .. who had lived many hard, tough years. He said, "You want to find a young one and take good care of her .. so she doesnt get bitter. After they get screwed over a few times by shitty boyfriends, they get bitter."

» Fury the WW2 Tank Movie with Brad & Shia & the All-Male Environment

Speaking of the coolest roles .. I saw Fury last night. What an amazing movie. Far exceeded my expectations. No wonder it's Certified Fresh.

It made me realize how much I miss life with the boys .. in that all-male environment. The movie portrays it remarkably well. Well enough to make me miss it.

The acting was impressive. No-shit impressive. The casting here really stuck out to me. Whoever did the casting .. I would hire them to cast my next film. The character selection was outstanding.

And what a story. The arc-of-character of the kid was bent as only war can bend. More like a spiral than an arc.

The way they fuck with this young kid .. reminded me of how the guys fucked with me when I was a punk-kid myself. This kid .. who later becomes "The Machine."

"I hereby christen you The Machine."

And right at the very beginning of the movie, one of the tank guys (nicknamed Bible) asks him, "Are you saved?"

And the kid responds, "I've been baptized, yeah."

And the bad dude jumps in and says, "No, no, no .. that's not what he asked you."

So you can tell right off that they have been having these scriptural discussions in the tank. These debates. Because that is where I first heard them myself. (In the military. Long story.)

They even quote a verse from Isaiah .. that I have used myself .. in talking about becoming the voice of your generation.

Tho I have since looked more closely at what comes before that verse .. and what comes after. (Immediate context.)

So the movie struck me as very authentic .. in that, and many other respects .. knowing what I know about the all-male environment. (Which is a lot.)

I mean, I could go on and on ad nauseam.

Perhaps I can best wrap the entire feeling, which I am very much feeling, about the authenticity that this film portrays of the all-male environment .. by identifying the #1 thing, the #1 scene, that validates my (own) feelings.

Because it surprises me .. and it comes during the scene where Brad's character [ War-daddy, cool name, no? I can almost hear Brad on the phone to his agent, "What's the name of the character? War-daddy? Tell him, 'fuck. yes, I'll take that part'." ] lets the bad guy in his tank group take food off the girl's plate .. but not 'touch' her. And everybody here knows what he means by the word 'touch'.

This seemingly insignificant item speaks volumes to me. War-daddy is juggling two different worlds here, and it is not an easy thing to juggle.

And he lays down seemingly arbitrary lines. He let the bad guy, who had been drinking, fuck with her, with the young girl. Harass her. He lets him make her cry. But not 'touch' her.

And War-daddy encourages the young kid in his tank-group to sleep with the girl. And you know how Angelina has already spoken out against rape in times of war. [ At the U.N. ]

So everything seems to stop in the movie. There seems to be a pause .. but the action merely shifts to a different frequency. I can feel myself exploring the surrounding circumstances.

And the guy who I call the Bad Guy is not really a bad guy, per se. But merely my own character short-hand. This character was well-cast and well-acted.

There are other scenes also, many of them, which give this film a ring of authenticy for me .. but that one most of all.

Am I reading right that Fury was nominated for no Oscars? I must be missing something.

Anyway, you must admit that Angelina has been good for Brad .. in more ways that just his professional career.

Oh, look .. they are doing a movie together » By the Sea .. written by Angelina and co-starring Brad Pitt, who plays a blocked writer. "I am feeling you, too, Ang."

There are a handful of actors and actresses who are soo good .. that they are like freaks of nature. Shia is one of them. It's like they are so good that it's hard to believe even when you see them working their craft.

Speaking of acting talent so good that they seem like a freak of nature ...

» Getting Inside Llewyn Davis with Carey Mulligan

Let me just drop a quick marker here and say that I saw Inside Llewyn Davis recently. Most impressive.

The Coen Bros at it again. Lovely layered subtlety upon subtlety. I could go on and on. This is my kind of movie.

The storytelling I found innovative .. from a 'perspective' perspective. Few things impress me more than a good storyteller.

But really .. the girl who is in this film, Carey Mulligan .. is it just me, or is she not a rare talent? She gives you the feeling that her talents are literally unlimited. Limited only by the character that she is portraying. (And then just barely.)

There is a scene that blew me away .. where she says (talking to Llewyn, outside, sitting on a park bench):

".. because everything you touch turns to shit. Just like Midas' idiot brother.

I shoulda had you wear double condoms. We shouldnt have done it in the first pace. But if you ever do it again. Which, as a favor to women everywhere, you should not. But if you do, you should be wearing condom on condom .. wrap it up in electrical tape. You should just walk around always inside a great big condom because you are SHIT! You should not be in contact with any other living thing, being shit."

I would definitely put this film on my recommended list. A special treat at the very end. Many things about this movie I enjoyed and appreciated. These Coen boys are real artists. This is not a movie that you make in order to make a lot of money.

And it lingers with you .. in a haunting sort of way. That is a good storytelling trick .. however you do that. I should quit here, before I cant stop myself.

» American Hustle by David O. Russell with Amy Adams

Back when I first got Netflix, the first movie that I streamed was » Silver Linings Playbook. Not long after, American Hustle was the movie that made me open a DVD account .. because that was not a streaming movie.

I did not realize that both these films are by the same director » David O. Russell. [ Not to be confused with David O. Selznick, who died in 1965. ]

I very much enjoy these types of movies, which delve into family and societal dysfunction .. because they make me feel more normal .. about my own crazy life.

The first thing that I noticed is that Christian Bale sounds almost exactly like the Dog, a Hoboken boy, born-n-bred. If I close my eyes during his voice-overs, I can hear the Dog talking to me.

And I googled Christian Bale .. and he is not even American. He is British. I am so impressed with his accent.

Any the performance that he gets out of Amy Adams .. holy moly. Which is why I am mentioning American Hustle here after I mention getting Inside Llewyn davis with Carey Mulligan .. because this is where it belongs.

Most performances contain individual that scenes that really impress me .. but her whole performance impresses me.

Maybe it's because she is acting that she is a person who is acting that she is someone else. So there is some recursion there .. which has the appearane or maybe the illusion of infinite eternity .. like seeing yourself reflected in one of those mirrors.

Whatever it is .. she seems mind-blowingly committed.

I want to ask her if it is the director that elicits such a performance .. or does who come to work with this already in mind.

The scene where she tells Christian Bale that maybe she "really does" like Bradley Cooper. "Maybe I like him a lot." Wow.

How does she do that? Do the other outstanding cast members cause her to up her game?

I was also impressed by the scne where where AA shows up at the party where JLaw is there and she says, "I know who you are. I know who that is, Irving."

And also with the scene where Robert DiNero gives Bradley Cooper the evil eye, not trusting him, when he is speaking arabic to the sheik.

And tho this film was nominated for 10 Oscars, it's hard to believe that it came away empty-handed.

Rather than a slight to this film, I see it as an indication of the quality of movies being produced today. Because this is a super-high-quality film. Who would not be proud to have this film on their catalog? (Regardless of Academy awards, or lack thereof.)

It is a great time to be alive in Hollywood .. when such outstanding films are being made.

I like this director .. David O. Russell. I can see that I'll be watching for more of his films in the future. I would like to encourage him to press on with his creative artistic intuitions.

» Joy for Christmas with JLaw

Oh, look at this .. ask and ye shall receive.

I have been reading up a little on this guy, this director, David O. Russell .. dude, he kind of has Jennifer Lawrence as his personal actress. JLaw. If I were a director, I might be jealous of him.

She is very good. Waay talented. Enough to wow you every time. I mean, you see her doing it, but it is still kind of an amazing thing to behold.

I first saw her in Winter's Bone and she seemed so young .. just a kid .. and you could tell already that she was a monster talent. Tho maybe she didnt yet realize it herself.

Before Winter's Bone I did not know that a girl that young could pull off a movie like that.

You dont need me to tell you about JLaw's acting talents .. her acting skills. They speak for themselves. If her capacity for acting is not unlimited, then it's obviously pretty close. "Do you pick up the gun, Joy?"

Anyway, this director .. I really like the themes that he explores. There is something in them that resonate with me on a very cool level. I'm not exactly sure what's going on, but I know that his movies speak to me in a unique voice.

Plus, he seems to have DiNero and Bradley Cooper on-call. Talk about unlimited potential.

The end. ■

» Radiation tri-blade » Every August 1st for the last few years I have attempted an entry that challenged me. That I might be afraid to attempt. Or at least, something that contained an element of fear. Something of a one-time-only venture .. never to be addressed again. Once-n-done.

Periodic Personal & Artistic Challenges

And these types of things will present themselves .. if you welcome them and embrace them.

And what kind of writer is not open to, or does not embrace challenging new experiences?

Perhaps one with a good imagination?

But the problem with imagination .. is that it's limited (.. to your imagination). Or is it?

Anyway, it is exhausting to really challenge yourself .. because there is an element of wringing-out-your-soul.

So you need a breather or two in between. I figure that you can only do these types of things maybe twice a year, max ..

.. which for me seems to be during the heights of summer and during the depths of winter.

Seems natural enough, no?

» The Writing Locomotive

Anyway .. this year, after treatment, the thought of my traditional August 1st entry .. passed thru my mind. But I let it pass right on thru.

The thought there being something like » "Dude, you are obviously in no kind of shape to be doing any kind of August 1st entry. Even when you are in good shape, you know how those things kick your ass. We will go outside and read a little Proust and take it easy. Your surgeon says that you are on 2-years double top-secret probation with this cancer thing. So go easy for two years. Let's watch a little Netflix."

But I never really know how the writing thing is gonna go. And right now I'm kinda playing over here in this Prousty area. Experimenting. And Proust is very much about » involuntary memory. (More.)

And sometimes the writing takes you .. and sometimes it doesnt. (Which is fine by me .. cuz I can use the rest.)

So it got to be late and I started thinking, "Good .. it looks like I am not going to be doing another August 1st entry this year. Great. Smart move. I am so proud of you .. for exercising such restraint. Tho, I must admit that, uh, I am a little surprised, sure. Because sometimes it just feels good to sink your writing teeth into a juicy writing bone and grind away at it. In a Bukowski sort of way. But I am proud of you, nonetheless."

It was not 30 minutes later when the writing locomotive arrived. All aboard. "You might wanna hold on. This might get a little bumpy."

Matt Damon says the same thing to the girl sitting beside him in one of the Bourne movies .. right before he drives the car down a long stairway. I loved that scene. Understatement. He kinda glances innocently at her seatbelt, concealing his concern.

I will tell you all about the writing express later. But for now I do indeed have an August 1st entry for you .. except that it was posted on July 27 .. a few days ago .. as an extraction from an earlier entry. Which was itself an extraction from an earlier entry. Which itself ... (I can feel myself waxing experimental.)

I did not know at the time that this was going to be my August 1st entry. So I feel like I tricked myself into it. If that makes sense.

See here (it's still kinda rough) » Lance & Egan and Those Now Famous Fastballs.

And there are already sections there to lift-n-move to even further entries.

Regarding that entry that I am working on .. that I started working on a few days ago .. before I knew it would become my August 1st entry ..

.. I will tell you that I was impressed by that movie » Boyhood, which I saw a few weeks back.

But it's like something powerful hit me .. and I'm not even sure what it was. But I know that it is about life in general, and growing up and becoming a man. And the things that can happen to fuck you up while you are doing that.

The film's title is Boyhood because that is where they focus the story. Ages 6 to 18, I think.

When you read that entry, you can see the effect that the movie had on me. What was churned up.

And I have also been drawn to Proust .. which starts with Swann's Way .. which is about » Childhood (Boyhood, just like the movie). The childhood of a sensitive, observant boy.

One of the ways that I feel like I resonate with Proust .. to the greatest degree, maybe .. can be found in the following passage pulled from the wikipedia entry for the 7-volume In Search of Lost Time (1913-1927).

Proust established the structure early on, but even after volumes were initially finished he kept adding new material and edited one volume after another for publication. The last three of the seven volumes contain oversights and fragmentary or unpolished passages as they existed in draft form at the death of the author.

Because I know (from experience) that the REASON the writer does this (.. beyond mere grammatical editing) is because (drum-roll, pls) » one thought often leads to another.

And it is often the secondary thoughts that contains the cool details that can really bring a thing to life.

And these connected thoughts are very similar to how the brain itself is arranged, with its many zillions of neurons (brain nerve cells) connected in ever increasingly complex circuits (groups).

You would have never discovered this most excellent of villages in which you now find yourself .. had you not first eplored the one next door.

Proust wrote himself to death. At 51. I guess there are worse ways to go.

He started writing the first book sometime around 1909, and wrote like a madman til he died in '22.

I will have to go back and double check .. but I think that I read that he hardly said anything about World War I. How can that be?

Or does this simply speak to the degree of his isolation?

I mean, I very much include the zeitgeist in my writing » "Big Brother has his NSA probe up the people's asses in clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. This shit does not look right to me. And besides, it makes my butt tingle."

So I cannot see how a writer could omit mentioning a war. Does not compute, Will Robinson.

Did you know that Proust slept during the day and wrote at night? In Paris. In French. In a cork-lined room .. due to his asthma. A room from which he ventured only rarely. Tree and flower pollen affected him severely.

How cool would it be to read a little Proust while staying at a cork-lined room in Paris? Or any room in Paris.

One of the more eyebrow raising comments that I read from a reviewer was »

But one cannot shake the feeling that In Search of Lost Time is the ultimate written work about what it means to live. Existence iself, in all its forms (time, love, beauty, self, and the other) is the subject Proust holds forth on.

That definitely got my attention.

» The Craziest Thing (Proust's Writing)

I remember seeing the stack on books sitting on the nightstand beside the Dog's low-profile unmade bed ..

.. during one of the long weekends that I spent with him up in the hills above Hollywood (.. mere walking distance from the famous sign).

And when I got to Swann's Way, I read a little and asked, "What's this one about, Dog?"

And he said (something like) "This guy just writes whatever comes into his head. It's a long book .. 3,000 pages. That's just one of the volumes."

"Whatever comes into his head?" I said. "That's the craziest thing I've ever heard."

He laughed. "Yeah, that's what I thought, too," he said. "But I actually find it strangely comforting."

I didnt say anything but thought, "Well, I dont see how that could be."

(This was after the Dog had been to Columbia and got his masters at USC.)

Perhaps I should share the first few lines of this famous work. See here »

For a long time, I went to bed early. Sometimes, my candle scarely out, my eyes would close so quickly that I did not have time to say to myself: "I'm falling asleep." And, half an hour later, the thought that it was time to try to sleep would wake me; I wanted to put down the book I thought I still had in my hands and blow out my light; I had not ceased while sleeping to form reflections on what I had just read, but these reflections had taken a rather peculiar turn; it seemed to me that I myself was what the book was talking about...

And on it goes .. for 3,000 pages. Which makes him one thoughtful dude, no? Certainly long-winded, literarily speaking.

I am only becoming familiar with this book .. but I can see already that it is not just a mish-mash of random thoughts .. like the Dog's comment sugested. No, sir.

Rather, there is a structure to it .. a structure so elegant and ingenious that it is very simple. Or else it is so simple that is appears elegant and ingenius. And I'm honestly not sure which is the case.

I have noticed before the relationship between ordinary simplicity and fantastic complexity. And the more you have fanstastic complexity that you (your story) has .. the more ordinary simplicity you must ground that story in.

So one sorta lets you explore further the other .. almost like a giant with one foot in each realm. If he wants to take his story to more distant and fantastic lands, then he needs to root the foot of ordinary simplicity more firmly and securely.

And Proust is going to take you on a fantastic voyage, so he wants to root you in the ordinary simplicity of life.

I mean, I catch myself marvelling at his structure. And yes, I can see why the Dog said what he said .. but I can also see how I misunderstood him.

» I Shall Not Die, But Live (As a Cancer Survivor)

But really .. regarding August 1st, or any other date for that matter .. I am just glad to be alive (and cancer-free). I do indeed like to challenge myself from time to time, sure ..

.. but I like to be alive even better.

I will tell you, tho .. the notion of 'cancer-survivor' as another category of who I am. That is a process.

I mean, for the longest time, you are not really sure if you will live or die. And the treatment comes at you so fast and furiously that you dont have a chance to process all this info.

You are just reacting and trying to make it to your next chemo appointment or your next radiation shoot or your next clinical trial appointment. It is a whirl-wind.

Sometimes I was up before 4 to shower and grab a bite to get my ride at 5:30 .. and be gone all day until long past dark.

Tho the weekly sessions with my shrink were a welcome respite. I went to those even when I couldnt talk. (So I whispered for an hour.)

But today I caught myself actually wearing the label of Cancer Survivor .. and the head-torque that accompanied it.

After jail and cancer, you just sorta crave peace-n-quiet for a while.

The Six-Month Hurdle » The Cancer Survivor's First Hurdle

I see both my surgeon and my chemo doctor later this month. The six-month hurdle. I may have to step over, instead of jump over .. but I will get over it.

I am sorta on a 2-year track of hurdles that I need to get over. And my neck/throat is definitely feeling the effects of scar tissue. So it kinda talks to you.

Probably not so terribly differently from that experienced by a man who survived a hanging and lived to tell about it .. I would imagine.

Not long ago I tested myself, physically, by doing more than my body wanted. I wanted to see how it responded.

Ooh, dude .. it did not like that shit one bit .. let me tell you. It has been talking to me for a few days now. And it is saying mean, angry things to me. And even threatening to retaliate.

I pushed it too hard. And I am often reminded in various unpleasant ways. (Aches-n-pains.)

Soo .. I am nowhere near where I was hoping to be six months out. But I am just starting to put on a little weight. Tho it is hard work.

I have been feeling so bad for so long that I just want to feel normal again. So it gets a little frustrating sometimes .. like now, for example. When only a moderate amount of physical exertion kicks your ass for a few days.

Patience is a virtue, I know.

The best part is that I'm starting to regain a little muscle in my arms. I can feel it. It feels good. I think, maybe, because I have been hitting the protein so hard.

But if I drink only the protein and have no carbs, it makes me feel antsy. Tho once I eat some carbs, that antsiness goes away. (And a bowl of Haagen Dazs works just as well.)

So I am just noticing now the very beginnings of a return of muscle definition. Ooh, baby .. I can see now that the chicks are gonna be totally hot for my cancer-surviving ass. Eat your heart out, Michael Douglas.

But stamina is the real issue. Stamina especially in terms of recovery times.

If I ever tried one of my old work-outs now, it would take me months to recover from the exertion.

» The Muscle Chick

I dated this muscle chick for a while .. who would throttle carbs in preparation for a competition. (Yeah, she was hardcore like that .. had the boob-job and multiple plastics and everything. One time she asked me to pick her up at her doctors office after a nose job. It looked like somebody punched her in the face. A lot. Kinda scary .. with two black eyes. She was whacked out, big time. I was not expecting that. They just told me to take her home and put her to bed. And that she isnt gonna feel like talking very much.)

And she was very interesting to be with during these times when she would "cut" .. because she knew that it made her waay agro, but she dealt with it .. tho it brought out a more 'real' part of her.

More immediate. More guy-like. More aggressive. More confrontational. More bitchy, yes, tho she did not know me well enough to be very bitchy.

And I met her in a church, so she must be kind and loving and compassionate and all those other christian values.

But she was like a whole 'nuther person. A different personality. And I am thinking, "This girl brings multiple personalities to the relationship. It will be fun getting to know them all."

But I still must MAKE myself eat. I never really feel hungry. I just get spacey .. then, after I eat, the spaciness goes away. So I figure that I needed to eat.

» Personally Challenging Writing Criteria

Remind me to tell you about the criteria that I use for these personally challenging entries. An intuitive thing. But something revelatory is part of that criteria. Because that is so difficult (for me).

But the main thing is to attempt to » go beyond .. what you have done before. So you need to challenge yourself in some new area. Or some new way.

And new things often come with a fear-of-the-unknown .. but another important aspect of these types of extries is to find something that you are reouctant to even attempt .. for whatever reason. So I look for the biggest source of opposition and reluctant.

I will not necessarily choose my biggest fear, but I will take a hard look at it. (Girls scare me .. to a degree. In an unpredictable alien sort of way.) But the more challenging and difficult something is to write about, the more of a candidate that topic becomes.

And it should be something that you and only you could write .. to the degree that this is possible. Which would naturally include something that you know about and know about well. (Write what you know. Even if you have to learn something new.)

Because I sometimes feel intuitively that there are certain things that a writer can't write .. before and until he writes something else. So you always want to stretching yourself and your skills and pushing back the limits of those things that you can write about. Become an expert in all things.

And like all entries, it must feel right.

Another aspect that I can feel myself embracing .. is writing something that speaks by its very existence. I mean, the very fact that such a document actually exists .. says something.

Now, of course, this will probably say different things to different people. Up until the point where you bring a 400-pound gorilla into the room .. you can safely deny its existence. But then you must deal with the situation .. or suffer the consequences.

I may elaborate more on this aspect in the future .. because I am not so clear on it myself .. tho I can feel myself moving in that direction.

Something that I am clear on .. is to make part of my topic criteria .. something that I must write about before I can write about other things.

The gateway, so to speak. The launch platform to even more distant galaxies of thought and ideas.

In math, they dont teach you multipliction and division until after you have first mastered addition and subtraction. They dont teach you algebra until after you have first mastered multiplication and division.

Because one is a prerequisite for the other. I am talking about exploring and writing the prereq's .. so that you can write even further down the road of ideas and experiences.

I mean, I could not very well talk about writers until until I have first talked about writing. That sort of thing. Adding another lego link to the thing that you are building.

And yes, this is very intuitive. And sometimes you dont see the reaon why you are writing something until much later. And then you are glad that you followed your instincts.

If you study the design and architecture of the Unix vs Windows philosophies .. you will see that my style of writing more closely follows the Unix architecture design philosophy. Windows being more monolithic.

The most challenging thing to write, I feel, is when you know it's time to write on a certain topic .. but you feel like you arent ready. And truth be told, there are some topics for which you'll never feel quite ready .. no matter how much research you do.

Especially if it is something that you are uniquely qualified to write .. to address.

» Rad Hoverboard v2.0

I've also seen the idea pass thru my mind of a follow-up to my Righteous hoverboard entry .. because I have learned a lot since writing that (in 2012). Tho, I kinda did a mini-update as part of my Writing entry.

And speaking to the idea of the hoverboard itself .. some game developer should make a game .. a sphere that you walk into .. containing a hoverboard .. and go from there .. to make the experience as life-like as possible .. visually, audibly, wind blowing on you.

You could reproduce worlds, both real [ Machu Picchu ] and imaginary. [ What better way to learn world geography? ]

The key would be in [ designing ] the controls, no? For beginner, intermediate, and advanced riders.

The military should love the idea and want to fund the development because they no doubt envision putting a soldier on one some day soon. Or perhaps even a warrior-robot.

Educational institutions could code in learning and skill objectives as part of the progression from one level to the next.

» Past August 1st Throw-Downs

Two years ago I did the 4-pager on Not Talking About Writing, which was really talking about writing (how clever of me) .. something that I happen to know a little about.

And last year I was Flirting with a pretty girl .. in the digital age. Something that I happen to know a LOT about.

Which I never did really finish. It just kinda went on f.o.r.e.v.e.r. I am still flirting with her.

Even after she abandoned me in my hour of need. [ « Notice effective use of Catholic-grade guilt-trip. ]

And today I was feeling very sexual, so my ego is convinced that she was secretly thinking of me in a very special sort of way. Talk about quantum entanglement.

I want to ask her what she thought about Rattner's column on the 31st. Actually, there are a few other things that I'd like to ask her about. Including this.

Not so much with the Flirting entry, which was really a lot of fun, and which I used to distract myself from the ever-growing lump in my neck, which was so big that shaving was like a skiier skiing over a big bump (catch air) ..

.. but normally my topics contain an aspect of letters to myself .. if I were to come behind me .. what would I really like to know. What absurdity of life can I most readily help validate for a younger version of myself.

This is not so much a conscious thought .. but I can feel it at play in the background. And the message is roughly this »

"We here in the future are sending you a verifiable message, which is this » the future is worse than you think. Much worse, actually. But we kinda got a handle on it. Yet we need some smart, crafty fuckers who are well educated to craft for us some better algorithms. So study up, boys."

So what could possibly top those two entries?

But it is now only 9:37 PM and I have an official August 1st entry posted live. (Sometimes I just change the date to go back, which is kinda like cheating.)

» Writing From a Physically Weakened State

But this will be interesting .. because I simply do not have the physical wherewithall to attempt an August 1st type of entry. No matter how much coffee I might drink. So it will have to come from some other place.

Did you see the blue moon last night? The next one isnt until January, 2018.

I see all my doctors this month. I did not see a single one last month, July. I loved that.

After the existential threat that is cancer, I find that my priorities have shifted. Some of the things that used to important no longer seems so important.

And other things that used to not be so important now seem much more so. And this cannot but affect my writing. Because your writing naturally follows your interests. Your curiosities. Your attention.

Hemingway is famous for saying that you judge the quality of a book by what is omitted. By what is thrown in the trash. But of course, you and I are forced to do this by judging the quality of what is left in. No?

Did you notice on Proust's (1871-1922) wikipedia page that it says he was » "considered by many to be one of the greatest authors of all time." ?

Notice in particular the phrase » "of all time". Because "all time" is a long time. A loooong ass time.

Yet I noticed his name included there on the list of the 100 Greatest Books of All Time in Any Language. The list of the ages. So maybe the wikipedia page isnt such an exaggeration.

Which lends credibility to the statement contained on the inside flap of my hard-cover copy of Swann's Way (the 2003 translation by Lydia). [ Deckle-edge paperback here ] which calls In Search of Lost Time » "arguably the finest novel of the twentieth century."

But Proust really goes back to Stendhal (1783-1842) who was really the bigger stud, historically speaking, and whose name also appears on that list.

But their approach to writing is much the same. They basically observe people and tell you what they observe.

Of course, the trick is in selecting the people and in your ability to have access to interesting people.

And if these people happen to be doing nasty shit, then it is only your duty to posterity and the historical record of our species to record it so the fuckers may be accurately judged by the gods of future centuries.

But that is kinda what they do. There are a bunch of all-time greats that trace their lineage back to Stendhal. Including Dostoevsky.

There might be someone before him that I dont know about .. but I think that he was the seminal type-setter for that particular style and approach to writing. That makes him one very bad dude. (So to speak.)