Digesta Plaga #4 — I Was Orwell’s Heir

NIN Fan In There’s No Point In Going On Shock

It’s been  about a month since I last made a hollow threat to quit the blog. But if there’s no post, then the funny and interesting stuff below the comment line disappears, too. Last week, Jen mentioned…

… I really wish you had worked in a Nine Inch Nails reference, especially with a new album called “Hesitation Marks” coming out in September. But live and learn I say.

After that, I had to see what Trent was up to. I’ve never been a huge fan, but he’s done some interesting stuff, and he cleaned up nicely for the Oscars.

Bloody goths, always dressed in black.

Turns out Came Back Haunted, the new single, compresses 50+ apoplectic posts into five-and-a-half minutes of groovy, gloomy goodness. “I am not who I used to be” indeed.

I particularly like that at 4’40”, the track appears to deliberately recall NIN’s greatest moment. But then, if I gave up on posting every time someone compressed the combined wisdom of apoplectic.me into something pithier, there wouldn’t be many posts at all:

My editor has been looking a the analytics for apoplectic.me again. It seems that the searches that most often give rise to randoms clicking through to the site are those for “Buddy Jesus” and “1984”. So, without further ado, let’s get on with today’s post and give the people that they want….

The struggle against the abuse and impoverishment of English online (notably, in blogs and emails)

Scotsman In Making Henri Barbusse
Look Like Laugh Riot Shock!

In that link, Robert McCrum (the former literary editor of the Observer and editor-in-chief at Faber & Faber) laments the fashion in which blogs, notably, are fora for the abuse and impoverishment of English as she is wrote. (Hi, mom! Still, fora, eh?) The fount of all knowledge tells me that “[i]n 1995 McCrum suffered a massive stroke. The devastating experience and his recovery is chronicled in My Year Off: Recovering Life After a Stroke. He had only been married for two months and the book includes diary entries made by his wife, the journalist Sarah Lyall.”

I suppose that explains why I had to read the piece twice to get the foggiest idea what he was on about. Or maybe that was because I suffered a massive stroke. (Did I mention that?) Regardless, I’m not going to complain about the state of the online written word when it gives rise to pieces as funny as this:

NSFW: Not Safe For Work. How do you know where I work? It just so happens I work in a pornographic meme factory filled with obese 70-year-old men in leather hoods poinking farmyard animals in the ear.

Surprisingly, Orwell’s original essay giving rise to Crum’s piece makes its points less hilariously than the average episode of Yes, Minister, but it’s worth a look if you’re into that kind of thing.

England’s ODI coach reveals how his wife’s cancer ordeals helped give him mental strength

Now that cricket is the biggest sport in New York — I like that The Times describes it as a “sport of many nations” because, of course, a sport that has some degree of global popularity is downright weird, man — it’s time to hop on the bandwagon. When I saw The Guardian tweeting about this article, I had to click through. Beth was a rock during my illness, and has continued to be throughout my recovery, so I was keen to hear what insight The King Of Spain could provide into the role of the caregiver. As it turns out, not that much, although I was interested to read of his reaction when he learned his wife’s brain tumour had returned.

“It was a horrible time, but I felt it was right to tell [the team he coached, Warwickshire, about his wife]. It’s in my nature to talk openly.”

Even though I have no memory of the first weeks after the hemorrhage, I do know that once I woke up, we just let it all hang out there (Sorry, Kathy!), and being open about what had happened, and some of the ridiculous results, made things a lot easier to cope with. I suppose that, after seventeen years, and just in time, I’ve got the hang of being an American, and let my reserve go.

Speaking of talk therapy, I had my final psychotherapy session at the Rusk Ambulatory Care Center last week. Talking a lot about what has happened, and building a narrative about it, has been a vital part of my “miraculous recovery”, so on what had been a pretty good day, I treated my last appointment with my excellent therapist as a victory lap. After I had listed the great events of the preceding days — not least, things coming together on The Homecoming front — but before offering my heartfelt thanks for all of my doctor’s help, she had a chance to ask if my black moods had become less frequent. What black moods? I wondered, before the crashing predictability of being on a massive downer the next day.

“A black eyed dog he called at my door”
Still, at least I’m not wearing that bloody stupid poncho.

So, the narrative and relentless positivity don’t always work. But they do a lot of the time. And in the first issue of Brain Injury Journey, Barbara Stahura writes a piece that speaks strongly to the benefits of journaling. As regular readers will know, this blog performs that function for me. Barbara writes of her husband’s TBI:

Unknown to me at the time of Ken’s accident, “expressive writing,” or writing down our thoughts and feelings about an experience, has been shown in numerous studies to provide therapeutic benefits for body, mind, and spirit. A journal is an excellent place for this kind of writing, since its pages accept whatever you have to say without judgment or criticism. As Kathleen Adams, LPC and founder and director of The Center for Journal Therapy, says, “In moments of ecstasy, in moments of despair, the journal remains an impassive, silent friend, forever ready to console, to confront, to contain, to cheer on. Its potential as a tool for holistic mental health is unsurpassed.”
… Take precautions to keep your journal — paper or electronic — private, and you can pour out your heart, dive deep into your soul, and find release and healing. From there, you can begin to envision the possibilities of your new, post-injury story.

Eh? What? Oh.

That’s good advice, and, as I’ve mentioned before, would probably strike a chord with the Aneurysm Awareness Group. In fact, the article as a whole reverberated enough with me that I reached out to Barbara to let her know how much I enjoyed it. As well as being editor-in-chief of Brain Injury Journey, she’s a lovely woman, and I’d encourage you to check out BIJ. The first issue is at http://www.lapublishing.com/Issue-1-Brain-Injury-Journey-Magazine, and you can subscribe to the digital edition for free. Or, you could do what Lou Reed did, and take up tai chi.

I am a triumph of modern medicine, physics and chemistry

Couldn’t have said it better myself, mate. Well, I might have said “physiatry”, rather than “physics”, but I can see how that might lose some of the poetry.

I’ll give ye poetry, asshole.
“Doo do doo do doo do do doo…”

As it turns out again — and not surprisingly, in this case — the patient’s caregiver is the one with insight and grace. Laurie Anderson says:

“I was completely awestruck [by the operation],” she went on. “You send out two planes – one for the donor, one for the recipient – at the same time. You bring the donor in live, you take him off life support … I find certain things about technology truly, deeply inspiring.”

Answers Surface In Giant Hudson River Head Mystery

After last week’s post, some of you may have been worried, and even written in to Gothamist to explain, “That’s not a mystery. That’s Stroke Bloke on the razzle.” Well, never fear, it seems that this was simply a large fiberglass sculpture that someone(s) or something sent into the river. Or was it? Brilliantly, for an article entitled “Answers Surface…”, the piece ends:

So, people of Meredith, is The Head missing? We have contacted the Town Clerk’s office there and will update if we hear back.

So, Bob and Carol from Meredith, if you’re reading this, there’s still time to e-mail Gothamist and let them know that, No, The Head’s not missing. That’s just Stroke Bloke after the Brooklyn Pride Parade. They’ll probably run with it.

Y-M-C-A, doo do-do-do-do-do-do, Y-M-C-A…

What else have you got? Rockall!

And, finally…

I’m excited about getting to spend some quality time in Scotland again. Primarily, I fancy getting out to the Islands for the first time. ‘Cos, lovely and fascinating as it is, Inchcolm doesn’t count.

No, I’m wrong. That counts. Let’s start off easy.

So, we’ve been reading about Rockall, in the wake of Nick Hancock’s recent failed record attempt. And Rockall is funny. Here are ten favourite Rockall facts (and one crap one — can you spot it?):

  1. This tiny lump of guano is claimed by Denmark (for the Faroes), Iceland, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
  2. The first literary reference to Rockall was made by Martin Martin.
  3. Nuair a thig Rocabarra ris, is dual gun tèid an Saoghal a sgrios.* Hilarious!
  4. On 7 November 1988 the United Kingdom and Ireland agreed a delineation which ignores Rockall’s existence.
  5. Rockall constitutes the only example of a state voluntarily downgrading an insular feature to a rock.
  6. Irish politician Seán Loftus changed his name to Seán Dublin Bay Rockall Loftus to demonstrate his commitment to an Irish claim on Rockall. As well as something to do with Dublin Bay.

    But that’s not important right now.
  7. The annexation of Rockall on September 18, 1955 was the final territorial expansion of the British Empire.

    “Gurk! Bomb Iceland!”
  8. On the subject of bombing Iceland, in 1983, Icelandic jazz-funk band Mezzoforte released a piece of music entitled Rockall.
  9. After the plaque formalizing the annexation went missing in 2010, a bloke called Andy Strangeway announced his intention to affix a replacement plaque. The Western Isles Council have approved planning permission for the plaque. The 2010 expedition was cancelled, but Strangeway still intends to replace the plaque. So, that’s what happened to the Empire.
  10. The cast of I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again once claimed to have spent the break between two series of the programme making a “triumphant tour of Rockall”.
  11. Ben Fogle made a claim to Rockall by sticking a post-it note onto the rock bearing the words “Property of Ben Fogle” in his book Offshore.

* “When Rocabarra returns, the world will likely come to be destroyed.”

“Today’s post was the cat’s whisker, wasn’t it?”
The Hudson is cleaned up.
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