April 21, 2016

Despots, Demagogues & Dictators when despair hits I go to the movies.

"…for within the hollow crown that rounds the mortal temples of a king keeps death his court…"                                 ~ Shakespeare, Richard II

While I try to keep this little corner of the internet relatively apolitical, even the most politically inactive, apathetic or far-removed of us has had cause to gape in awestruck disbelieve at the campaigns being run for the nomination for President of the United States.  With soundbites and speeches that sound like satire, and countless elegant and not-so-elegant take downs - of suitability, honesty, intelligence, basic decency, even business savvy-apparently doing little to stem the incomprehensible popularity, I have done what I always do when despair hits I go to the movies.

Richard III - "Richard III" (1995)
As icy as Ian McKellen's blue-eyed stare, this brilliant version of Shakespeare's "Richard III," updated to a parallel 1930s fascist Britain, must rank among the chilliest films ever made.


President Judson Hammond - “Gabriel Over The White House” (1933)
Anyone looking for an insight into the mindset the last time that the world saw the rise of an unstoppable powerful authoritarian, totalitarian leader could do a lot worse than to watch Gregory La Cava’s utterly bonkers 1933 curio “Gabriel Over The White House”.

Idi Amin - "The Last King Of Scotland" (2006)
"The Last King of Scotland" is a bruising and brutal experience. But it's not just in tracking the rise of Amin, who would suspend the country's constitution, establish a military dictatorship and go on to murder 300,000 of his countrymen, that the story is valuable. With its fictionalized elements, it also becomes an intelligent dissection of the kind of willful blindness that can afflict those nearest to the intoxicating influence of absolute power.

Adenoid Hynkel - "The Great Dictator" (1940)
Comparing anyone to Adolf Hitler is a fool's errand, an example of the kind of hyperbole that says less about the one so accused than the person doing the accusing. So I am going to focus on Adenoid Hynkel instead. The centerpiece of Charlie Chaplin's 1940 masterpiece, Hynkel is a not-at-all-veiled approximation of Der F├╝hrer right down to mustache, murderously short temper and megalomaniacal desires.

April 15, 2016

You, Me, and the Apocalypse.

See that vision in leather, fake balloon boobs, and spandex with hair extensions? Her name (and it’s not her stage name apparently) is Amber Marchese. She is one of Bravo’s “Real Housewives” of New Jersey which except for The Real Housewives of Orange County is the most absurdly cartoonish of the franchise.  Anyway, People Magazine has made this woman a voice and face of breast cancer.

Now I feel under-dressed I should wear my good leather to chemotherapy.

You think you are flying to London landing at Heathrow but you end up on Mars.  This is how it felt after I received my 2013 diagnosis.  

Friends you have been understanding but in a culture focused on survivorship those with
metastatic breast cancer can feel isolated.

I have a very no-nonsense way of educating people about metastatic breast cancer.  Someone will ask, when are you finished with treatment and I’ll tell them, when I’m dead. So many people interpret survivorship as a given. Doesn't everybody survive cancer?  No, not everybody survives cancer.

An estimated 155,000-plus women (and men) in the U.S. currently live with “mets,” stage 4 breast cancer that has metastasized, or traveled, through the bloodstream to create tumors in the liver, lungs, brain, bones and/or other parts of the body. While treatable, metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is incurable, between 20 and 30 percent of women with early stage breast cancer go on to develop MBC. Median survival is three years; annually, the disease takes 40,000 lives.

As with primary breast cancer, treatment for mets can often be harsh and unforgiving.  But dealing with an incurable illness and the side effects of its treatment aren't the only burden MBC patients have to bear. Many also have to educate others about their disease, explaining repeatedly that no, the scans and blood tests and treatments will never end. No, the metastasized breast cancer in their lungs is neither lung cancer nor linked to smoking. No, staying positive and “just fighting hard” isn't going to beat back their late-stage disease.

Sadly, people don’t “get” mets. In fact, a recent survey sponsored by Pfizer Oncology shows just how misunderstood it is. Sixty percent of the 2,000 people surveyed knew little to nothing about MBC while 72 percent believed advanced breast cancer was curable as long as it was diagnosed early. Even more disheartening, a full 50 percent thought breast cancer progressed because patients either didn't take the right treatment or the right preventive measures.

I feel like I’m on a merry-go-round and I keep waiting for it to stop. I have lost a lot of acquaintances and feel bad about that. But it’s like musical chairs. I keep wondering when I am going to miss that chair. 

So far, I've been “lucky”.

April 03, 2016

Ready? Set!

1. Check email.
2. Check Facebook
3. Check blog
4. Check blog statistics
5. Stare off into space and wonder why the blog is suddenly popular in both the Ukraine and China
6. Found 1099
7. Rifle through desk drawer for pass code to tax account 

8. Find photo of friends
9. Copy and e-mail
10. Compose a witty note to go along
11. Send

12. Total all the medical insurance payments
13. Query as to whether proof of medical insurance is necessary
16. See the latest news updates online
17. Click to find out the weather forecast

 18. Nope, not going to fly
19. Ditto

20. Check email
21. Wash dishes
22. Vacuum
23. Locate all the interest-paid and interest-received statements

24. Search another desk drawer. Find picture of old boyfriend
25. Google old boyfriend; he's the father of two; admire pics
26. Stare off into space; worry about the children

27. Locate dividend statements
28. Query on difference between qualified and non-qualified dividends
29. Notice that there's a London Spy review
30. Click to see if London Spy is available on DVD
31. It is. Bookmark
32. Search glove box in car for registration tax
33. Find a lost pair of sunglasses in glove box
34. Feel kind of good about that. And they look great. Score
35. Search another desk drawer for paperclip to attach car reg
36. Find sweet pea seed pack in drawer
37. Google whether it's too late to plant sweet pea seeds
38. Oh, what the heck, plant them anyway
39. Google how to plant sweet peas
40. Search tool shed for trowel. Find old hedge trimmer
41. Recharge hedge trimmer
42. Wonder why life isn't more deductible
43. Stare off into space about this
44. Check email
45. There a messages from friends . . .