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Notes From The Flip Side: 05.08.2005

"It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing."

Ernest Hemingway

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Braineaters; Or, "Wait, How Big Is That Cyst In My Head?"

I am, generally speaking, a pretty stoic motherfucker. Pain? Doesn't hurt. I used to start the day by swallowing three or four aspirin, gritting my teeth and getting on with it. Unlike Jason Giambi, I never took a day off because of a cramp. When my back was spasming so badly that I couldn't stand up more than half-way, I hunchbacked around the house and still fixed my own dinner. When I've left tours early, it's usually because the doc diagnosed with me with bronchitis when I got home. I drove myself home from the hospital in rush hour traffic after my vasectomy - about 45 minutes of bumpy Southern California freeways, stopping on a dime and then going again. Shifting from the brake to the accelerator was never so interesting before or since. During the recent cluster bullshit, I took my shots, popped the vics and - again - hid from light like a goddamned vampire ninja. Shit was tight.

So I finally got in to see my new ENT today - hell of a nice guy. I liked both him and his staff right off the bat because they all cracked jokes and treated me like a person, not a medical record with legs. They explained things to me and didn't treat me like a moron. They even laughed at my bad jokes - and my jokes are always bad ... but they're not as bad as this (with ... no, fuck that. No apologies to Pavement. I love "Here" and that reference is made with the utmost respect and love).

First, the good news - I don't have cluster migraines. This is good. I don't have to wonder when the next one is going to set in, carry Imitrex with me and avoid coffee, cheese, wine and chocolate - which, as some of you know, is tantamount to death to me (well, except for chocolate which I really don't eat much).

Since every silver lining has a cloud - and that silver lining seems pretty fucking slim at this point - there is bad news to go along with it. While it remains to be seen whether the cloud is a mincing little San Diego wisp of cotton or a massive fucking storm cell gathering power off the coast of Florida and heading straight for Miami remains to be seen.

You see, it turns out that something else was causing the problem. That something else, which my ENT saw the moment he looked at the MRI films, was a cyst.

A cyst about as big as my eyeball, which I could also see on the films and which made for incredibly easy comparison.

An eyeball doesn't seem that big until a cyst that big is putting pressure on the brain. Then it seems massive because there just isn't much room for something else that size in the skull. Luckily, pretty much everything in the skull is squishy so it can move around a bit. Of course, when that happens - particularly when the squishy stuff is grey matter that I use for unimportant tasks like thinking - it tends to be a wee bit uncomfortable ... you know, like blinding pain, swelling and dizziness.

But even that isn't really the fun part. The fun part was that my ENT - who I get a very good vibe from and trust pretty implicitly and explicitly at this point - said there is a problem. I really don't like to hear surgeons say that we have a problem, particularly not when they follow that up by saying that it is no longer a medical problem and that it is quite likely to be an interesting surgical problem, and especially not when they follow that up by saying that he needs to put me in for a CAT scan to see how much bone has been eroded. Not if - how much.

In short, if he has to go in, not only is the cyst coming out, some other stuff will likely be going in. I think I'm going to request titanium to make headbutting my friends more fun. And maybe doing something about the bump on my nose from all the times I've broken it. I mean, hey, if you have to go in anyway, might as well make a day of it, right?

The surgery that the doc described is fascinating - the cyst is in a location where he can't get to it through the nose or mouth, which means that I'll have to shave my head and the surgery will start by making an incision across the top of my head (basically from ear to ear), pulling my face down and either drilling in or cutting the skull open and flipping it down like the trunk of a Volkswagen to get at the little bastard.

I have to conclude at this point that I'm disturbed, because I'm wondering if I can get this shit videotaped so I can show my friends after the fact. I'm not sure which is worse - me planning to ask the doc if that's possible or knowing that I actually know people who would probably want to watch it. "Dude, all these years, I wondered if Puckett actually had a brain - now we have proof that he does so he must just not use it!"


I think I'm going to name my cyst. If you have a suggestion for a name, post a comment or send me an email. Right now, I'm leaning toward calling it Len. Those of you who have known me for any length of time know exactly why I think that's funny.

Of course, the question of why the GP - who treated me for clusters and then a sinus infection for a month - misdiagnosed me twice and never looked at the films remains, but that's a discussion for my ENT and I to have next Thursday, which may be followed by another chat with someone whose name ends in Esq., if you catch my drift. I want a medical license at this point, but I have no intention of going to school to get it. 'Nuff said on that point.

Happy Friday. More later.

And, once again, even though this is a repeat - and remarkably prescient - from the last update, as a very relevant side-note, please make sure that your loved ones, friends, co-workers, mail carriers, people who serve up your morning coffee, etc., know what you want done with your lame ass if you happen to get stuck somewhere between shuffling off the mortal coil and being a fully functioning human being. And when you've done that, put the shit in writing. Kali will be executing my living will - by force, if necessary. That's right. The Hindu goddess of destruction will be riding in on a pale horse to pull my card if that time ever comes. Best of all, I know that she will pull the plug - swords, guns and all. I wouldn't want to be the minimum-wage-earning hospital security guard on duty or disapproving zealot clucking their tongue and blocking her path out of some sense of morality when she shows up because shit will get hectic with a vengeance if anyone stands in her way.

For the record:

Does anyone detect a pattern? Pull the plug and make sure it doesn't hurt. I don't think any of us can ask for any more than that.

And if someone elects to defy my will, they had better pray that I don't regain consciousness or emerge from whatever state I'm in because there will be hell to pay.

Sharpened Ballpoint Pens And Steel Guitar Strings

So far, 2005 hasn't been a hugely interesting year for music ... until this Hold Steady album dropped a week or two ago. Sure, I love the new M83 and Crooked Fingers' "Dignity And Shame" is probably a better album than we have any right to in our bold new Red America and the new Red Sparowes disc is killing me, but "Separation Sunday" has been worming its way into my brain through a handful of MP3s that Cat posted or linked. It's deceptively simple shit - think about Bruce Springsteen's early logorrhea, the explosions of syllables that he crowded into songs like "Rosalita," back him up with either Danny Federici or Roy Bittan (depending on the song and whether organ, piano or both are called for), strip away the rest of the E Street Band and replace them with the Bob Stinson-era 'Mats and let them play nothing but loose riffs - make it sound sloppy as hell, like the songs are staggering home lonely, sad and drunk after watching an unrepentantly shot-out stripper with vacant eyes inhale super-sized tina rails that could single-handedly revive Amtrak's hopes and future. I'm not sure how much joy is present in these songs if you look at them on their face, but assholes like me will usually argue - as I will in this case - that rock 'n' roll embodies an inherent form of redemption, made all the more appropriate in this case through the constant use of religious images and iconography. This album, to crib from it, mixes its own mythologies and pushes them out through PA systems as it progresses, weaving stories about Catholic girls and bad men and camps down by the river into ... well, fucked if I can even guess at what it all means yet because I only picked it up today.

This is one of those records that doesn't grab me in its entirety on the first or second or, so far, even the twelfth listen, but there's just too much ragged beauty here for me to dismiss. If you really want to understand how awesome it is, I keep listening to "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" and "Stevie Nix" and thinking that I really need to start my own band sooner or later - there aren't many albums that make me think those bad thoughts all over again when I really should know better. Right now, about all I know is that I'm going to be spending a shitload more time with it over the coming months and, even though it's early, I've yet to hear a note that doesn't ring true or a line that seems false; I've yet to hear a reason why this won't be on my list at the end of the year.

Goddamned Technology

In the past two days, I've had to apply two separate patches to the message board; I woke up this morning and started backing up my backup MP3 drive only to find out that the fucking thing had gone up in flames and had to be formatted. I've spent most of the day restoring it from DVD backups which take a little more than 20 minutes to copy over. I have 20 DVDs - you do the math about how long that bit of fun took.

The Good News About Bad News

Coffee tastes great - just give me an extra shot or two of espresso-flavored bitterness to take the edge off the sweet chocolate.

Off The Top Of My Head ...

  1. Red Sparowes released the most heavily ruling album I've heard this month. Don't have it? Sounds like you have a bigger problem than I do. Ditto that for Pelican.
  2. Dear Hydrahead - I would like very much to know where my replacement Jesu disc is. It's been nearly three weeks since I sent you the copy I bought in San Diego ... you know, the one that skipped like a motherfucker? While I don't expect next-day FedEx delivery, I also didn't anticipate the Slothy Express. Can you please make sure it gets here before the executor of my will has to figure out what to do with it? Thanks. Love, Puckett.

Now Playing:

The world's greatest jukebox, also known as my G drive. Yes, I have so many drives in my system that my 200 GB MP3 drive doesn't rank higher than G. Do you see what happens when you put 3/4 of a terabyte of storage in a computer? This is what happens!

Oh, and The Hold Steady, Red Sparowes, Crooked Fingers, Ryan Adams, The Mountain Goats, Jaga Jazzist, Candi Staton, The Evens and Pelican.

Now Watching:

"The Big Lebowski," "House Of Flying Daggers"

Just Finished:

James Salter, "Light Years"

Now Reading:

Paul Avrich, "Anarchist Portraits"; Bertrand Russell, "Why I Am Not A Christian"; Umberto Eco, "Island Of The Day Before"; Alan Lomax, "The Land Where The Blues Began"; Peter Guralnick, "Lost Highway" and "Sweet Soul Music"; Steven Heller, "Graphic Design History" (edited with Georgette Ballance); Gunnar Swanson, ed., "Graphic Design And Reading"; Daniel Guerin, "No Gods No Masters"

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Last modified on Wednesday, March 26, 2008