I met up with some of my extended family over the weekend at my Aunt’s house, and damn, it was awesome. In fact this whole weekend from Friday night to now has been an exercise in learning just how many people are in my corner, ready and willing to help me whenever I need it. I am beyond grateful for everything.

I also haven’t been totally honest with pretty much everyone I’ve meet up with. I’m not doing quite as well as I said I was.

masks-833420_1920

I didn’t really realize it until I got home an hour or so ago after speaking to my cousin, my brother and their respective partners. They asked me how I was doing and I told them about all the good things that have been happening and painted a pretty rosy picture all things told. It wasn’t until I pulled into my driveway that I realized I’d left quite a lot out.

The problem is I can’t get my brain to work properly, and while I think it’s a side effect that’s going to pass, it’s really starting to bother me.

Pre- chemo I was a fount of story ideas, both for my day job in advertising and in my own creative endeavors. I had so many ideas it overloaded me a lot of the time, and I had to write them down for later (on that vein if anyone knows where I left my notebook full of ideas, let me know) but now when I try and get my brain to give me an idea I’ve got nothing. It hasn’t been so bad at work, usually if I have enough time to think I can come up with something, but it really bugs me that my mind doesn’t move the way it used to.

Don’t get me wrong here, I would still 100% have done the chemotherapy if even if I knew for sure that this would have happened…I also know just how lucky I am to have survived, but I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t affecting my state of mind.

I also know for sure that this might just be a bout of depression.

That doesn’t make it any less real, or any less frightening. Being able to be creative is a big part of my self image, and the way I relate to the world, and not being able to do it as well as I could has been surprisingly rough.

I had hoped that I’d come out of chemo with a rekindled fire for life, and now that I’ve found the opposite I think I’m a bit disappointed in myself. That’s entirely unreasonable, but again, no less real.

Still, I get to say that tomorrow is another day I get to be here for, and maybe things will be better then.

I hope so.

 

 

 

So apparently I’m cancer free.

I went in for a CT scan Monday last week, and got the results on Thursday. No evidence of cancer. In the same week my Dad found out that there is no evidence of cancer in his system either. As a family we’ve been dodging bullets like we’re in the Matrix.

Like this, but cooler.

I am one very relieved human.

It’s not over, because this kind of thing is never really over. I still get monitored every month for the next six months, then every six months after that until I’ve survived cancer long enough that death by misadventure becomes a more likely thing to read about my inevitable demise.

I wish I could say that I felt instant overwhelming joy at finding out from my oncologist that even the little smudge on my lung was gone, but what I actually felt was tired. I’d been wound up pretty tightly in the days leading up to the CT scan results, and getting the good news meant that I could let go of all that tension. I wasn’t really worried about dying, but I REALLY didn’t want to have to do another big cycle of chemo.

Chemo is my friend, it saved my life, but it’s the kind of friend I’m happy to appreciate from a distance.

I finally feel like I can at least sort of move on with my life, which is scary, because all of those things I was putting off until I was cancer free? Now I have to do them.

There are a few things on that list, and they’re either scary, expensive or scary and expensive. I also need to make some scary adult type life decisions in the next few months and a part of me really doesn’t want to.

It doesn’t matter though. I get to be alive, and existing is an important first step in attaining your life goals.

I’ll let you know what happens.

 

 

Like the title says, fear is a weird thing.

This is one of the free images that comes up when I Googled 'fear'. To be honest this guy seems more cute than scary...

This is one of the free images that comes up when I Googled ‘fear’. To be honest this guy seems more cute than scary…

 

It’s not even one thing; the bitter, hot, sharp fear that you get when you know a fight is about to happen is different from the deep, cold dread you feel when someone you know is very sick and that’s different again from the background fear that comes in when you yourself are sick. The fear that just hums away in the back of your mind.

When I first got diagnosed I felt the hot fear. My heart rate jumped up, I couldn’t hear properly for a few seconds (I think. Memory is even weirder than fear.). I had the same thing when I found out I needed chemo, but both times that fear faded back into the background. I got caught up in just doing everything I needed to do to survive and the fear had to take a back seat. The fear was always there, ready to poke its head out at weird times, but it never went back to being that sharp, intense fear.

Until this morning.

I needed a CT scan to make sure that the cancer has stayed away after we punched it in the face with chemotherapy. I had been anxious before then but nothing too terrible, normally the worst thing about a CT scan is feeling like you’ve peed your pants after they shoot you full of contrast dye. But while I was waiting my turn I felt a sudden rush of real, sharp fear. I felt like I wanted to punch something, preferably while also running away. This wasn’t down to a bad result, I won’t get the results until Thursday, it was just one of the those moments where my body decided that punching seven different shades of crap out of cancer was a viable strategy, and if that didn’t work fleeing down the hallway crying was also a workable plan B.

As bad as the fear was, it didn’t last.

A little kid ran by me trailing a sizable amount of toilet paper (and an exasperated parent) and that was enough to send the fear back into its lair at the back of my mind. By the time the nurse arrived I felt back to my normal self, but just for that one moment my normal self was nowhere to be found.

I hate that feeling. I worry about what I’ll do or say when fear has the reins.

I’m just lucky that little kid went running by.

As far as I can tell, I’m fine. In fact I’m in better health now than I’ve been for a long time, but that fear is always there, waiting for its moment.

I think that’s what I’m most afraid of. Not the cancer itself, if it comes back there are other things we can try, but that when the fear slithers back out into the world, I won’t be able to pull it back in again.

 

 

 

10 Cloverfield Lane was much, much better than I was expecting it to be. If you have plans on seeing it you might want to stop reading this review now so you go in unspoiled. The short version is this: It’s really good, it’s probably not what you were expecting and the cast absolutely smashes it out of the park.

From this point on there are going to be spoilers so don’t say I didn’t warn you. I’m going to put an image of the poster below so you don’t see anything if you just want to go to another website.

If you feel like wasting a day I recommend TV Tropes.

I won a double pass to go and see a pre-screening of 10 Cloverfield Lane and literally couldn’t find anyone else I knew who wanted to see it that wasn’t busy fulfilling their responsibilities. Stupid adulthood, making them do the responsible thing.

They missed out.

10 Cloverfield Lane is one of the best sci-fi films I’ve seen in a while. Yes there are some plot holes, and the ending is, uh, big…but none of that really matters because the movie hits the tone so perfectly and the cast is so good at selling their respective roles. I spent the entire movie with an elevated heart rate because director Dan Trachtenberg draws out the tension in every scene until the air is thick with menace.

The movie starts with Michelle, played to the hilt by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, leaving her fiancee and driving into the countryside. She gets into a terrible car accident, and wakes up in an underground bunker to the news that there has been some sort of terrible attack on the USA, that virtually everyone else in the country is dead, and the only reason she’s still alive is that she was pulled from the wreck of her car by doomsday prepper Howard (John Goodman) who happened to have his own underground bunker set up and ready to go.

From the get go Goodman absolutely dominates the screen. In the confined spaces of the bunker his sheer size makes him a menacing presence and Goodman lends him an intensity that’s scary in its plausibility. There are plenty of people in the world like Howard, and despite his growing paranoia, Goodman never plays him as a caricature. At least at first, he seems like a relatively kind man with some personal issues and an entirely worthwhile end of the world plan.

That kindness doesn’t last.

When Michelle finds her way out of her tiny cell/room and meets the other inhabitant of the bunker, the goofy, genuine Emmet (John Gallagher), Michelle attempts to make her escape, thinking Howard is totally off his rocker and has kidnapped her. Throughout the film it’s not clear if Howard is totally crackers or if something truly terrible has happened and he was absolutely right to make a doomsday bunker and stock it with foodstuffs.

Here’s that spoiler I was telling you about. Last warning.

It turns out both are true. There really is an attack underway on the USA and Howard is also a complete monster. I honestly thought it was going to be one or the other, and by making it both 10 Cloverfield Lane put itself into a position to do something a little different with its premise. Michelle and Emmet are effectively trapped between a sort of familiar (or at least human shaped) devil in Howard, and the unknown horrors outside the bunker.

I’d like to give special mention of Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Michelle. Her character does all the things a smart, determined person would do. I never once wondered ‘why didn’t you just…’ as she constantly makes plausible decisions and plans to keep herself and Emmet safe. Her plans don’t always work, in fact some are a disaster, but she thinks, adapts and tries again. And when things go totally off the rails she keeps thinking instead of just reacting. It’s a convincing and interesting portrayal that I bought into completely.

The ending is as I said, big, and in a less effectively paced film might have been too much, but I was so invested by the end of the film that it didn’t bother me.

The violence isn’t over the top, but it’s played for the most part as real rather than say Deadpool‘s cartoonish killing, and it’s all the more brutal because of the confined setting.

The script is excellent, and it gives the actors a lot to work with. Nothing is overstated or explained, and enough is left to audience interpretation to make it intriguing without being frustrating. Writers Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken and Damien Chazelle did a superb job of pacing the dialogue and action so there are just enough lulls in the intensity to make the big moments in the film hit especially hard.

I was given a free donut before I went into the theater and I didn’t eat it because I was so wrapped up in what was happening on screen.

If that isn’t high praise I don’t know what is.

 

 

 

 

Last night I decided I needed a new t-shirt. I needed several new t-shirts. This is not a normal thought to have at 9pm.

So, after I located the supervillain cat I was babysitting and made sure she had sufficient levels of biscuits and cuddles to prevent her from ending the world in fire and darkness, I drove out to The Warehouse to see if I could locate something that would hide my pasty flesh from an unknowing public. The current bane of my existence are t-shirts that are just slightly too short as they seem to creep up while I work out and I end up wearing a sweaty fabric necklace. I have a similar problem with jeans, they hang just low enough on me to cause public outrage, but not low enough to make me look cool.

Actually no pair of jeans will make me look cool. That’s an entirely unreasonable thing to expect of denim.

Anyway, I decided that driving to The Warehouse was an entirely appropriate use of my time. For anyone outside of New Zealand, The Warehouse is a big box chain store that sells everything from garden tools to furniture to heavily discounted books…and clothes. It’s also pretty much the only place open if you decide you suddenly need one of these things late at night.

I pulled into the parking lot in darkness and got out of my car to come face to face with two of the biggest human beings I’ve ever met in person. One of them would have been very close to seven feet tall and big with it, while the other was perhaps six foot six and wearing a full metal knee brace that looked like he’d stolen a piece of a futuristic exoskeleton from the military.

We stared at each other for a moment across the concrete, the only light was from a puttering streetlamp.

Bad street lamps make for great mood lighting. Bad street lamps make for great mood lighting.

They nodded at me. I nodded back.

Then they launched back into the dance routine they’d been practicing before I’d rudely interrupted. It’s hard to describe, but considering that one of them was hobbled with a brace they were doing a good job of hitting the choreography.

As I walked into the store the bigger of the two said to his friend ‘no no, let me do the twirly bit!’.

When I came back out they were gone, and I was a little sad. I never got to see them attempt whatever the twirly bit was. I feel like I’ve missed out.

Wherever you are giant dancing men, I hope your performance went well.

 

 

 

 

I had a much better week last week. I’m still a bit messed up post chemo, but some of things that we’ve been trying to help me get past it are kicking in and I’m feeling pretty good, especially compared to the way I’ve been feeling. I actually made it back to the gym whereupon I successfully glared at some exercise equipment for an hour.

It’s also been a week of learning things.

First up my big cat Harry has lost a lot of weight on his new diet. He’s always been a big cat, and I’ve often called him ‘my chubby buddy’ (yes I call my cats inane things). I had the grim realization last week that he’s no longer my chubby buddy, I’m his. Hence the return to the gym.

NASA made these freaking amazing retro travel posters for different places in our solar system. I love the little touches in the tag lines like ‘experience the charm of gravity assists’.

I wrote a haiku:

A frozen wind swirls
the morning darkness total
Where, where are my pants

Carrie Fisher tweeted a picture of her dog Gary which is kind of amazing:

gary

That dog appears to be 200% tongue.

That’s about it other than general working and life stuff. So, tell me, what did you learn/find/do last week?

 

 

 

 

 

I’m just going to say this up front: I loved Deadpool. Loved it. I’m going to go and see it again. Also, please don’t take your kids to see it, it’s an R movie for a reason.

deadpool1-gallery-image

It’s even sexier than this image implies.

Deadpool is a superhero origin movie, but it’s an origin movie done differently…done right. Spoilers coming, nothing major but it’s hard to review a movie without revealing anything at all, so you’ve been warned.

Still with me? Cool.

From the moment the opening credits declare Ryan Reynolds to be God’s perfect idiot, the director an overpaid douche and writers to be the real heroes it’s very clear that Deadpool  isn’t going to be a typical superhero film. Not that anyone who has heard of Deadpool the character was ever in any doubt. The only way Deadpool the film was ever going to work was to respect the foul mouthed, fourth wall smashing, dirty joke filled source material and respect it they did. Deadpool sticks its foot through the fourth wall almost immediately and then waggles its cancerous toes at the audience for the rest of the film.

Deadpool starts off with a serious bout of ass kicking on a freeway before taking a small step back from the carnage to tell a piece of Wade Wilson’s story before he became Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds does an amazing job as both Wilson and ‘Pool. He nails the humor of the character both before and after his transformation at the hands of Ajax (real name Francis), the very British, very badass main antagonist.

And it is one hell of a transformation.

Wade is having a pretty good time with life when we first see him out of the red suit. He’s getting paid to beat sense into stalkers and other miscreants and has found his perfect match in Vanessa (played perfectly by Morena Baccarin), his life is good right up until his cancer diagnosis. Director Tim Miller doesn’t belabor the cancer diagnosis but he doesn’t play it off as nothing either. Wade knows how bad his cancer is going to get, and Reynolds does a great job of selling the desperation lurking behind his endless jokes. I bought why he would turn to the bad guys to help him survive, even though they’re running their facility in an abandoned building that looks…let’s say less than hygienic. 

Ajax gifts Wade with a healing factor fast enough to make Wolverine jealous. I say gifts, but what I mean is: brutally tortures Wade over and over until the healing factor kicks in.

And then things get crazy.

Deadpool doesn’t hold back for one second over its short run time. There are some wildly entertaining fights and brutal kills that are mostly played for laughs. The movie definitely earned its R rating, because where most movies might cut away, Deadpool zooms in. All of this is undercut with almost constant jokes. Some reviewers have said that the jokes wore thin by the end but that wasn’t my experience, I was laughing for the entire runtime  (and the credits…stay after the credits).  Reynolds just has knack for Deadpool’s style of humor, although with that said Morena Baccarin and Brianna Hildebrand (playing Negasonic Teenage Warhead) both sell their jokes brilliantly and I hope we get more of them in the sequel.

I also have to give some serious props to T J Miller who plays Deadpool’s sort of friend Weasel. Miller’s ability to deliver an acerbic line is nothing short of awesome. He gets a couple of the best lines in the entire film, and his interactions with both Deadpool and Blind Al (played by Leslie Ugghams) are some of the best moments in the movie.

I should mention that there is an incredible amount of violence in the movie, from fun superhero movie style fights between Gina Carano’s Angel Dust and a CGI Colossus to some truly vicious hand to hand combat and gunplay.

It’s not a perfect film (is there a perfect film?), it goes for the easy joke a lot (I’m not saying I didn’t laugh, I’m just saying sometimes I’m not proud that I laughed) and the bad guys never really feel all that much of a threat…but it doesn’t matter, Deadpool is a really good time at the movies.

 

Highly recommended.

 

 

 

This roof animal thing has really gotten out of hand, and I’m bitter.

Why am I bitter?

Because it’s almost one am there is a bloody rat on my roof. A really big rat. He will not leave.

animal-655308_1280 (1)

This is not the rat in question, but it does represent his vile nature.

I’m going to call him Frank. Frank the Rat…which does make him sound somewhat less like a rat and more like a 1930’s gangster.

Anyway I threw an empty egg carton at Frank and let me tell you, Frank could not have given less of a shit. You have heard the expression ‘couldn’t give a rat’s ass?’ well I found the rat, the ass belongs to him and he isn’t giving it to anyone.

My cat Harry followed me outside. Harry was disinclined to intervene with Frank on my behalf. Harry is a very big cat, more like a small purr filled bear than a tabby, and it’s not like he’s never eaten a rat before…however Harry is not what you’d call motivated. 

So, unwilling to throw anything else onto the roof, I’ve some back inside and stuffed tissues into my ears so I don’t have to listen to Frank scurrying about on my roof. I don’t know what he’s doing. Rat stuff I guess.

I’m going back to bed.

Dammit. Frank has started a fight with a bird which is loudly screeching at him. This is a surprise because it’s one am and dark and birds are supposed to be sleeping.

Why won’t you sleep Mr Bird?

Why do you hate Frank so much?

Frank as far as I can tell is still on the roof and Mr Bird sounds like it’s in the oak tree so I don’t think Frank is hurting Mr Bird but Mr Bird is seriously pissed at Frank. Maybe Frank, true to his nature, told one of Mr Bird’s secrets.

Did Frank start an animal mafia war in my garden?

Mr Bird has gone quiet.

This is ominous.

Did Frank whack Mr Bird?

I may never know, because while I was typing this a mosquito bit me and in an effort to kill it I just smacked myself in the face. I’m taking that as a sign that reporting on my garden’s animal mafia’s turf wars can wait for another night.

 

 

Alternate title: Sometimes the universe is good to me; or, how my friend Cam ended up with a goat on his roof.

I have had my fair share of run ins with roof dwelling animals in the past. Everything from amorous possums to rats to whatever it is that skitters about in our ceiling cavity muttering about humanity’s end being nigh. But this, this was something else.

I got a text message over the weekend from Cam, asking me if I knew anything about the goat on his roof. In fairness this is actually a reasonable question, as he and I do double duty as worst enemies for each other too, and if he does end up in a terrible animal related situation, it is sometimes my fault.

However the goat was not my doing.

Nor is this photo. But this is indeed the goat in question. He has been named Angus McBastard.

Nor is this photo. But this is indeed the goat in question. He has been named Angus McBastard. (photo credit Cam Gibbs)

My friend lives in a quiet port town that has been overrun with hippies. Said hippies are mostly harmless, but they do have a tendency to own livestock that they’re not always well equipped to look after, so when this particular goat threw off its completely insufficient barriers to freedom it made its way to my friends house and proceeded to eat every vegetable in his veggie garden. It’s hard to blame the goat in this situation, if I was him I would have done exactly the same thing. The goat then decided that its position in life had not yet been sufficiently elevated, and it was high time it clambered up somewhere.

That somewhere being the roof.

It then refused to move.

As Cam asked me after it was over ‘do you know how hard it is to make a goat go somewhere it doesn’t want to go?’

Well, no matter how hard you think it is, it’s harder than that.

After much cursing, slipping, falling and general dragging of said goat my friend managed to get it down off the roof and  back onto the property it was supposed to be on but not before having to get it back though a hedge it has chewed its way through. The goat is 100% OK, Cam is battered, muddy, bruised and now smells quite a lot like goat…although that is a situation that may have been ongoing even before the arrival of an actual goat. I can only assume Angus the goat is biding its time until it can eat all of Cam’s vegetables again.

This whole saga improved my entire weekend. I am rarely so happy as when Cam is being harassed by wildlife. He has never once come off best in any confrontation with mother nature (case in point he was once trapped in his car by an angry flock of geese).

Then I found out that goats on roofs may be becoming an epidemic in New Zealand. This story is about Kevin the Goat:

 

 

Kevin is a menace. And sort of awesome.

Kevin is a menace. And sort of awesome. (photo credit Rob Stillwell, instagram.com/rob.stillwell/)

 

Kevin, who I should stress is an entirely different goat to the one who is terrorizing my friend is what I can only assume is the vanguard of an army of goats who want to colonize our nation’s precious roof space.

I for one welcome our new goaty overlords.

 

I realized today that there are certain aspects of my health that I really have to get under control, or I am going to end up dying in a way that makes my cancer treatment look like a terrible waste of public health resources. In fact there are a few ongoing major threats to my survival: cancer, depression, high blood pressure, poor diet and horrific yet somehow hilarious accidents.

It was a tragic art installation accident officer. We told him not to mix with abstract concepts and farm machinery but he wouldn't listen!

It was a tragic art installation accident officer. We told him not to mix abstract concepts and farm machinery but he wouldn’t listen!

Cancer I can’t really do much about, if it comes back I’ll have another go at poisoning seven different types of crap out of it.

The same with depression. I’ll treat it as well as I possibly can with every (medically proven) technique at my disposal.

However I should probably do something about the fact that my body is starting to look like a garbage bag full of melted cheese. I wasn’t in great shape prior to the whole cancer business but semi-regular gym sessions and occasional MMA and Jiu Jitsu sessions kept me in reasonable trim even if I did sometimes commit crimes against entire carbohydrate groups.

The croissant people know and fear me. To them, I am DEATH.

The croissant people know and fear me. To them, I am DEATH.

Then when I was in chemo I gave myself some doctor sanctioned permission to eat whatever I felt like, whenever I felt like it. It was important according to my oncologist that I not lose too much weight.

Not a problem doc.

Actually I did lose weight during the month of vomiting, but when I could eat I absolutely went for it. I didn’t just eat my feelings, I ate my sense of abstract thought too.

It was delicious.

However now that I am sort of back to what I call real life, I find I need to get back to looking after my health. I’m not up for martial arts quite yet, although I do look forward to sweaty hugs from my Jiu Jitsu friends when I am.

I do more or less know what I’m doing exercise wise. I’ve had some excellent (if frequently exasperated) trainers in my lifetime and the things they taught me stuck. Most of the things they taught me stuck.

Some of the things.

I probably won’t catch fire if I go to the gym.

 

This post doesn’t have a point, except to say that if you see something shambling down the street that looks like someone shaved a bear and then made it go jogging, that’s probably me.

You want me to run how far?

You want me to run how far?