The Stroke Bloke Shake

In 2006, a psychologist at Cardiff University identified today as the most depressing day of the year. Cliff Arnall suggested that this was due to the confluence of a number of factors, including debts from Christmas overspending, the abandoning of New Year’s resolutions, and low levels of motivation.

So if you were already been super-depressed about having to go through Blue Monday on 15 January, now you must feel really bad.

Barney was mistaken, apparently
I’m quite sure that you’ll tell me / Just how I should feel today

[Cheer yourself up – check out the Apoplexy Tiny Letter]

Makes you want to just climb back into bed, doesn’t it? Cos sleep’s awesome. It’s a panacea. That’s why it’s a recurring motif in art.

"What have I done of all the year, To bear this hated doom severe?" – Happy birthday, Raw"What have I done of all the year, To bear this hated doom severe?" – Happy birthday, Rab
Burns Night on Thursday…

Cheers, Rabbie.

England’s national bard gets into it, too. Methought I heard a voice cry ‘Sleep no more!’ says Macbeth. To die, to sleep – to sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub, for in this sleep of death what dreams may come… says Hamlet.

A child and their teddy contemplate suicide

Sleep is important. I’d put years of all-nighters at the office in the big grab-bag of stuff that led to my stroke. But last Wednesday, I stayed up all night for quite a different reason.

Since we moved to Edinburgh, my efforts to improve the amount and quality of my sleep have been quite successful, I think. Even now, Mr The Baby is quite respectful of his father’s attempts to get a good night’s sleep. But I’m still subject to clonus or tremors or uncontrollable shaking as I fall asleep and wake up. Or so I’m told.

My crew and I am about to terrorize the dance floor with our moves
The Simpsons get Homer Shake, too

The consultant at the Department of Clinical Neurosciences has his theories as to what might be going on here, but he arranged a Sleep Deprived EEG for me to see what that would indicate.

EEG, as any fule kno, is electro encephalography. It records the electrical impulses the brain produces while sending and receiving messages to and from the body. The reason I was required to stay up all night prior to the morning of the appointment, I assume, is so they could be sure I’d drop off on the table when I got to the examination and see what was going on in my noggin during sleep.

Strum-strum Strum-strum Strum-strum – HE'S DEAD
Please bring someone with you who will be able to describe the problem to your doctor

Obviously, not spending the night drafting a Receivables Purchase Agreement was going to make it a lot easier to stay awake all night. But I still needed something to pass the time. Per the rules, caffeine was out. And stroke survivors aren’t allowed to hoover up mountains of coke.

I took care of some correspondence and odd little tasks that always fall off the to-do list during the day, then settled in to watch a couple of movies that I’ve been wanting to watch forever.

Believe or not, George isn't around
George! I said no coke!

First, I finished Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation, starring Gene Hackman and Young Harrison Ford. Hackman – who I love – says it’s his favourite of all the films he’s made. In 2012, the Motion Picture Editors Guild has listed the film as the eleventh best-edited film of all time. I’ve been meaning to watch it for about 25 years.

It’s OK.

Let’s just say, I’d have to agree with Roger Ebert – The Conversation comes from another time and place than today’s thrillers. But not in a good way, for me. And most annoyingly, now I have to check out Kim Newman’s fun little claim that Enemy Of The State could be construed as a continuation of The Conversation.

Play Baker Street!
Er, Kim. Mate. I think you have to get out more.

Then I watched another movie I’ve wanted to see forever – John Carpenter’s The Thing. Although it kind of bombed at the box office, being released two weeks after ET, and on the same day as Blade RunnerThe Thing has more recently been described as

the best science fiction-horror film of 1982, an incredibly competitive year, and perhaps even the best genre motion picture of the decade

The Thing: “less optimistic than ET”

During one of those all-nighters in the office, I whiled away some time over dinner reading about The Thing. Something that could be described as nihilistic… foolish, depressing, and existing in a emotional near-vacuum sounded *great* to me. But in the context of trying to stay awake all night, Stroke Bloke 2.0 found himself agreeing with Ebert’s gripe about poor characterisation being a problem.

The Thing is so single-mindedly determined to keep you awake that it almost puts you to sleep – David Ansen, Newsweek

But despite nodding off for ten minutes here and there, I pretty much stayed up all night.

Like the legend of the phoenix
…to the sun, yo

Oh, the examination? Well, the people administering the test didn’t see any shaking from the far end of the room when before they left to let me sleep, or when they came back, so I don’t know if they’ve got any good info. I guess we’ll see.

. . .
“Why don’t we wait here, see what happens?” McCready, The Thing



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5 thoughts on “The Stroke Bloke Shake

  1. John Carpenter. I recently re-watched “They Live”, which I remember as “Rowdy Roddy Piper Kicks Hidden Alien Ass” from when I saw it in the theater in high school (dating myself a bit). And then it popped up on a streaming service to which I subscribe where I also watch that dragons-anticorrelate-with-protagonist-IQ show so I figured “hey I like kicking hidden alien ass, so lemme watch that again”.

    And lo and behold, I discover that it is actually a super subversive anti-capitalist anti-consumerist social commentary masterpiece. With some alien ass kicking.

    Much like your reaction to the conversation (which I haven’t seen), it is paced a bit slowly compared to nowadays. When even super-exciting-high-pacing-glitterbombs like Thor Ragnarok seem to be a bit sleepy, there’s nothing you can do to not be a bit bored when a wistful loner walks the streets of the west coast shanty town to wistful loner music. But the movie is still worth your time.

    I’ll go check out the thing.

    Be well.

    1. The Thing‘s the only Carpenter I’ve seen, so I just checked to see if They Live is also part of what he considers his Apocalypse Trilogy. Apparently, it’s not – Prince of Darkness (A priest invites quantum physics Professor Howard Birack and his students to join him in the basement of an abandoned Los Angeles church) and the Lovecraft-ian, it says here, In The Mouth of Madness.

      Well, together with a super subversive anti-capitalist, anti-consumerist social commentary masterpiece, colour me intrigued. All added to The List.

      There seem to be two Stroke Blokes at war with each other regarding pacing and ‘splosions. The one who makes Last Night his favourite movie, and the one who wants to watch Face/Off and Broken Arrow on a loop. I’m trying to persuade them to reconcile on the basis that pacing doesn’t matter. The Romans and The Aztecs are arguably my favourite Doctor Who serials, after all.

  2. I very much enjoyed The Conversation. [MINOR SPOILER ALERT] I love how the plot turns on a misheard conversation by a professional eavesdropper. He certainly heard the words, but he missed the crucial inflection in the speaker’s tone which led to a serious misunderstanding of what the speaker was really saying. I’ve been guilty of that myself many times, no doubt.

    Prince of Darkness – now that was some fun pseudo-scientific horror trash! In a good way, mostly. As a high school nerd, I enjoyed the pretentious faux-physics discussions to balance out the inevitable religious silliness, and the visceral carnage. Don’t touch the mirror!

    1. Yes, that’s an interesting aspect – the inability to connect to human communication, so to speak. Certainly, the important words sound different in their final playback in the movie. Did I miss the inflection the previous times, or are they actually delivered differently? Fascinating stuff. But there’s still that coldness that leaves this Millenial-sympathizing Xer, well, cold. Hey ho.

      Fun pseudo-scientific horror trash! Hey, I’ve the got the elevator pitch for the story I’m working on. Thanks, Marcelo!

      1. Yes, it works as an elevator pitch. Though I always thought you’d go the superhero route. Man has stroke which causes pain and suffering, but also gives him special super powers like [x] and [y] and [z], and leads him to confrontation with the various forces of evil. (Insert your most-coveted super powers for x and y and z above.) Maybe start with a graphic novel series, then sell it to Hollywood. You can do it!

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