Monthly Archives: November 2012

sound and fury signifies everything

11/29/12

Okay, so Tessa convinced me to upload this other time-lapse film I made last weekend, as it is slightly more interesting from a human perspective. After seeing the carnage wrought by the previous film, I got frustrated and stuck the camera in the kitchen window facing inward, temporarily forgetting it was still on.

So it took a picture every second for 24 hours, from about 4:30pm on Friday to about 5pm Saturday, when we left. In it, you will see the kids scamper around, you will see my beautiful wife, my brother Sean, Jordana, even a few friends like the illustrious Annie. You will see a pterosaur revolving its ancient bones as nobody watches; you will see TV from another room, you’ll eye the yaw and pitch of life sleeping and awake.

Here’s the thing, though: there is nothing as glorious as a new day starting from midnight drear (right around :27) – even in a weird little movie like this, it still speaks of magic, hope, and possibility. May this weekend provide you of same!

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my favorite bit is around the 1:00 mark, where Sean appears to be looking into the camera, but is actually looking at the snow outside

 

the maple wears a gayer scarf

11/28/12

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Why, did I hear somebody say they wanted more time-lapse photography? Perhaps the leaves changing from verdant summer into a crackling gold-orange-red autumn?

Sure, there are videos like this one, taken this year in Central Park:

But you come here for the real sweep of nature’s majesty. You know, like my most boring winter time-lapse ever, or perhaps the summer where nothing happened. Yes, you want nature unfiltered, and apparently, unmoving.

So, on Labor Day I set up the time-lapse camera across the street from our house, and left it up for three months, hoping to catch the splendor of the Berkshires. On Thanksgiving, I brought it down, and eagerly downloaded the movie. And, my riveted audience, it did not disappoint.

Seems that almost instantly, the camera had jolted out of position and pointed downward and toward the neighbors. Better yet, in early November, a bird shat on the lens!

Let’s not delay any further. May I present to you: The Worst Time-Lapse Movie of Autumn’s Changing Colors You’ll Ever See! It’s eight seconds, but it’ll feel like 70!

“He’s outdone himself – the fruit tree snooze-fest was bad, but this shatters records for tedium” – Kansas City Star

“…how can so many sunny days strung together beget such sadness?” – Moncton Free Press

“the visual equivalent of zero Kelvin” – Garden & Gun Magazine

 

anthropomorphizing the stone

11/27/12

Many people have kindly emailed or texted me over the last few days to check on my wellbeing, given the allergic disaster of last week, and as some of you know, I had to come back to LA early and emergency-like. I’m sorry I haven’t written some of you back, because I’d like to say that I’m okay, but the fact is I am NOT goddamn fucking okay.

I’ve had it, frankly. I’m pissed off. Hearing about other people’s ailments might be boring to some, disgusting to others – but for those of you who can’t turn away, drawn like onlookers at a truck accident, I will do my best to entertain.

Let’s put it all in context, shall we? I am fully aware I should be fucking dead from a burst appendix at 5. ‘Twere I born but 75 years earlier in man’s ascent, that’s me in the corner, losing my religion, expired from internal poison. That I’m still here is pure happenstance and a couple of good decisions.

So let’s list my Fights with God. I’ll call it “God” because he’s easy to anthropomorphize, and someone’s gotta be the strawman.

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FIGHTS WITH GOD:

1. Inexorable loneliness. I was stuck in a grade, two years younger than everybody else, with red hair and a penchant for playing the violin. I liked ham radio and calligraphy; I wasn’t even cool enough for Dungeons & Dragons. Beaten up on the way home from school even on days we didn’t have school.

Cure: Finally getting to a high school – a prep school, actually – where I made friends among folks were intellect, humor and passion were valued. Then to college where it was the same, only explosively better.

2. Ravaging acne. I was so besot with acne that I couldn’t shower, because it hurt too much on my back. I went to school every day smothered in Clearasil, and the scars are still there.

Cure: Accutane during my first semester at Carolina. Sure, it fucked with my liver and dried me out like deer jerky hanging in a winter cabin, but that shit got fixed. Still have to bathe in Proactiv, though, and that’s stuff is expensive.

3. Blindingly-poor eyesight. Got stuck with glasses at 7, thus cementing my virginity for another 15 years. I had the worse eyesight of anyone I’ve ever known who wasn’t actually blind. Got contact lenses at Carolina, but they were so thick that I got migraines.

Cure: LASIK, 1999. The absolute best. I can still read books in rooms across the street.

4. Soul-drenching lethargy. By 21, there were some days I couldn’t even move. Even researched something called “Epstein-Barr”, pre-internet, at UNC’s med school. Dazzling lack of focus.

Cure: Diagnosed with ADD in 2006 and went on small dose of Dexedrine. No longer have fatigue issues (when not sick, which, these days, is never) and lost 25 pounds without noticing. Gained some back, which contributes to…

5. Suicidal depression. Starting soon after parents’ divorce (but felt as far back as 7), I inherited my mom’s noonday demon. Like being drunk on black death tar.

Cure: Celexa in 2002, switching to Cymbalta and meditation in 2010. Still recurs, but with nowhere near the ferocity.

That brings us up to the last two years, which has been nothing short of a test of motherfucking physical endurance. Are my problems first-world? To paraphrase Ringo, “I can’t tell you, but I know they’re mine.”

6. Kidney stones. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone used to live through these before massive IV painkillers. Thought I was done with them in 2003 when I started Allopurinol, but got my worst one ever in 2011. So bad that it actually scared me like a little kid. Three days of agony I wouldn’t wish on the Taliban.

Cure: Allopurinol (for gout) seems to work, but hydration is key. Kidney stones lurk in those dark alleys in the future; I can only hope I elude them.

7. Unrelenting nausea. I told you all about the boat ride to end all seafaring excursions, but three weeks ago, I spent two full days on the floor of our bathroom praying to fucking die than to dry heave again. It was brought on by antibiotics taken due to…

8. Eight strep throats in 2 years. Apparently caused by a deviated septum that led to sinus surgery in May, easily the worst procedure I’ve ever undergone (which also led to splitting my bum open). Three weeks of pain and blood ensued, but things definitely got better sinus-wise. Except that started…

9. Six months of excruciating sore throat pain. Was it more strep? No. Was it dust mites? God knows. But the doctors thought it was thrush, so I went on Nystatin to kill the yeast. Four days later, I was in the throes of…

10. Agonizing, skin-shredding hives, welts and weeping itches. Yes, that’s right, I’ve spent the last week covered in festering sores all up and down my arms, my legs, my neck and ports Netherland. I look – and feel – like a plague victim hobbling out of Nottinghamshire in 1347.

On Saturday, I cut my trip to NY short, because I could see it all getting worse, and upstate New York was no place for skin experts. On Sunday, I was running around my house, alone, screaming in agony from the painful itching all over my body. I eyed the cheese grater in the kitchen cabinet, because I truly contemplated shredding my own skin with it, just to be in control. I understand people who go crazy from their own bodies.

On Monday, I got a massive steroid shot from the doctor, and it has taken the violent, awful edge away, but it’s still bad. Apparently when the yeast dies off, it releases massive amounts of toxins into your bloodstream, and your body reacts to the insult.

And this is where I am. Shot up on steroids, drinking Beandryl, trying not to think about tearing up my arm like a dog toy. It’s unabated torture, but there is an upside: it’s not depression, or some “feelings” or an unknown impetus. It’s straight-up physical agony, which is much simpler.

There is another upside, in that I am still here, writing this, despite all this bullshit. I can’t ask for more than that. I am still here.

I am still here

I AM STILL HERE

I AM STILL HERE

 

my ancient tribe would like to challenge yours

11/26/12

So I wrote this little piece in the NYTimes about the necessity of personal blogs still existing, and followed it up with… an fairly-unusual 6-day break from writing one. Because, really, why do the obvious thing?

Anyway, welcome lurkers and regulars back to another brain-exploding, profanity-laden web haunt where I’ve been battling myself since 2002 (successfully), and Facebook since 2009 (unsuccessfully), and occasionally write an entry – like this one – that will only appeal to basketball fans and aficionados of photo reënactments.

Oh, and devotees of the diaeresis. But I digress.

Fact is, when the Carolina basketball team has a big game impending, I toss away higher thoughts and concentrate on the guttural tribalism at hand: to wit, we have a basketball game against the Indiana Hoosiers tonight.

Indiana is ranked #1, we are currently in the low teens. Their star player is the brother of our star player last year. We have two losses against them that were arguably some of the most painful we’ve yet endured – 1981, when they won the NCAA Championship over us; and 1984, a game so excruciating that Michael Jordan himself laments it to this day.

As much as I love the movie, I do not care for Hoosier lore – the state is even more boring than Iowa (I should know) and has dreadful politics. True, both North Carolina and Indiana are the only states Obama lost from 2008, but I mean, come on, you can actually imagine living in North Carolina.

My dad taught conducting there after getting his undergrad degree at Long Beach State, another team we recently pasted in hostile territory, so I feel good about this one. Besides, Indiana has only made the NCAA Tournament 5 of the last 10 years. We’ve been there 8 of the last 10, and won the whole dance twice since.

There’a a word for that, and it’s the most difficult concept to attain in a culture that moves like mercury through a flask: consistency. Wanna see consistency? It works like this, my friends (click for bigger):

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a decade of our Thanksgiving picture, every year since 2002 (except 2009 – I fell asleep, damnit! Everyone gets a bye once, don’t they?)

 

there are no true synonyms

11/20/12

I am thankful for triple-paned glass.

I am thankful for the diphtheria-polio-tetanus shot.

I am thankful for aglets and finials and shutter-dogs.

Along the same lines, I’m quite enamored with weathervanes, especially the ones that aren’t roosters.

I really like copper that oxidizes into that unmistakable green.

I am thankful for time-lapse cameras.

Likewise, I’m thankful for how breathtaking nature documentaries have become.

I am thankful for the ocelot and kinkajou (although I could do without the spotted hyena and wolverine).

I am thankful for profanity.

I am thankful for my doubters.

I am thankful for microwave popcorn, magnets and sledding.

I am thankful for the Tar Heels, whatever the outcome, and feel sorry for those without some guys to root for.

And I am beyond thankful for whatever syzygy of planets that allowed me to be with Tessa, and produce such a little punkinpants as Lucy; with them in my life I shall never know want.

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 [UPDATE: Welcome New York Times readers! Won’t you stay a while? – ed.]

and in the great war we had trenchfoot

11/19/12

This is one of the entries where I really start sounding like one of those rheumatoid old farts in the emeritus country club wheelchair holding forth on his lumbago, grippe and shingles… but I really need your collective help.

Have any of you ever heard of a delayed reaction to an allergy skin prick test? Except the reaction wasn’t anywhere near the site of the test itself? I ask because the right side of my face has broken out in a rash that is now on my eyelids… and I’m itching down my legs as well. And as many bullshit ailments as I’ve had, I’ve NEVER broken out in a rash. Staph? Sure. Kidney stones, dysentery, you bet. But never a prickly, hive-like rash.

Two things: this happened about 48 hours after that skin allergy test on my back, but my back is fine. And I’m on that anti-fungal Nystatin (oral) for thrush/candida, but had been on it for days before the test.

Many Internet searches have revealed nothing about this particular problem, although the same keywords keep popping up, so it feels like I’m not crazy. And we’re in transit, thousands of miles away from our doctor.

Anyone got something – or someone – who leaps to mind?

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have barrel and fish, seeking shotgun

11/18/12

I’m getting on a plane this morning, but won’t you please check out the new episode of the Tar Heel Bred, Tar Heel Dead podcast? It’s full of Andy and Reed’s usual duet of clever fandom, but I got to sit in as a special guest with a report from Long Beach State.

You can get it on iTunes as well, but more than that, you really oughta subscribe, ’cause it’s so much easier!

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signing books in February

Hopefully they’ll let me back on for the Dook game in March, but this episode has a certain player from Derm behaving very badly (and their official website sucking as well) so there’s plenty to go around.

Coming to New York, people! Lube up the Metrocard swipers!

please wave your UV wand and make it disappear

11/15/12

There’s a point at which a “phase” lasts so long that it becomes part of your actual personality, and I think I’ve reached that point with the relationship I’m having with my body.

I’ve been doing everything right, I really have, but since my sinus surgery in May, and ensuing body implosion, something just ain’t goddamn workin’ when it comes to my immune system. It feels like every time I get well, I start to exercise, and that releases some kind of demon in my bloodstream.

Like my body is saying “OH NO YOU FUCKING DON’T, YOU TWAT, YOU’RE GOING BACK TO BED FOR TWO DAYS.” Finally I went to the Lord Supreme Allergist of Beverly Hills yesterday, and they drew 16 gallons of blood from my arm, swabbed my larynx with those alien Q-Tips, then did the “prick test” up and down my back for allergens.

Lying on that wax paper, while little pin-pricks of pain shot down my spine, I was reminded of the last time I’d reached such a place: New York in early 2001, when I was getting acupuncture. The same thought saturated my head: how did I get here? What is so fundamentally screwed up? At least this time I didn’t break down in tears; being a parent toughens up your solipsism.

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this little fucker may be one culprit

On a more immediate level, my throat has been in searing, almost unbearable pain for seven months. Some days it’s not terrible, other days I can’t swallow and can’t talk. It has been very, very bad this week.

Tessa says that I’m butting heads with some limitations of Western medicine, and while that may be true, the medicines of other hemispheres weren’t helping either. Another possible culprit is thrush, a candida-like yeast issue that can take over certain ecosystems of your body when you’ve had as many antibiotics as I have.

I’ll gargle with the radioactive stuff, and take some virile probiotics. And keep trying to play basketball, ride bikes with Lucy, and pretend it doesn’t feel like white-hot iron ore in my throat when I swallow. Because I may be a foul-mouthed, scorched-earth depressive, but I always assume I’m a day away from redemption.

 

i’m an american, i don’t share your english hatred of comfort

11/14/12

It’s one of our High Holy Days here at Chez Blake-Williams… you guessed it, the Day We Get the Early DVDs for the Upcoming Season of Downton Abbey!!!

Yes, through the miracle of mail-forwarding services, a region-free Blu-Ray player and a motivated viewing audience, this is the third year I’ve been able to get the English (and slightly longer) version of the show that you won’t see in America until next year.

This combines a bunch of my favorite things in the world:

• beating the system

• British television

• period dramas

• paying writers and actors for their work by not downloading

• making a certain little girl wild with excitement:

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Does that make us fey liberals? Does that make me a latté-sipping Masterpiece Theater queen? FINE! I don’t care! I’m married, and no longer have to kowtow to your expectations, Dating America!

You know what? I would have done this even BEFORE I got married. I can promise you a very shitty dub of our favorite English soap opera on a VHS tape would have made it to the Pink House, where Jay, Scotty, Grant, Tom Holden, Linden, Jiffer, Zia, Chip and I would have watched the fuck out of it.

As it is, Lucy and I can barely contain our excitement, but Tessa is making us wait for next week, when a quorum of like-minded twee bon vivants will descend on the farmhouse in upstate NY for Thanksgiving. We will make tea, we will make scones, and we will fry fish and wrap it in copies of the Evening Standard.

And we will find out, O! Can Mister Crawley and Lady Mary find love against all odds?!? What of long-suffering Bates’ conviction – will he ever drop his Edwardian honor and do right by Anna? OH, I can’t BEAR IT!!!

 

breaker one-five, this is plantar fasciitis checkin’ for smokeys

11/13/12

There is one last frontier yet to be crossed in the great social media landscape: that of your own voice. I don’t mean that in some poetic, fey, self-important up-with-people kind of way, I mean YOUR ACTUAL VOICE.

We spend a lot of our day dicking around on the internet, posting pictures of our parties and our kids, tapping out bon mots for the Twitterverse and posting Facebook links with witty persiflage, but NONE OF US (besides old friends) ACTUALLY KNOWS WHAT ANYONE SOUNDS LIKE.

So I’ve got a simple question before I go all out on a limb: would any of you participate in a little vocal experiment? Instead of writing your comment, if I asked you to actually put a link to your own voice would you do it? Or are you afraid of what your voice might sound like?

Just a question; you don’t have to do it today. But with Chirbit or Vocaroo or SoundCloud or YouTube – using your computer or even the “voice memo” feature on pretty much any phone – it’d be super easy. No video, just sound. Thoughts?

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