Hot Air: Leave A Lovely Corpse

We live in a weird culture. Take, for instance, our twin obsessions with age and weight.

Saturday night The Loved One and I went out to dinner at Turkuaz Cafe with the Fergusons, Tyler and Dave. (BTW: Do yourself a favor and get on over to Turkuaz for lunch or dinner. Whatever. It’s worth it if only for the cup of red lentil soup that comes with every entree.)

It was a fine night overall, a delightful capper to a brilliantly sunny, comfortably warm day. I’ve missed chatting with Dave since last August when I moved my back office from Soma Coffee to Hopscotch. Soma’s a block and a half from his law office. I’d be sitting at my customary Table 1 and he’d come in for his daily cup of the life-giving and a muffin. He rarely could resist joining me for a spot of badinage and I always welcomed his interruptions. He and I would go on and on ad infinitum about the law, politics, and whatever else came to mind. One day he informed me that in Indiana there’s a little-known law that any old citizen can demand a special prosecutor be called to investigate…, well, anything. Say you think the mayor’s a crook — as long as you have some decent evidence to that effect, you can petition the county to call in a special prosecutor who’ll rake the Boss over the coals. That very day, Dave and I promised each other we’d be forever on the lookout for even some slight malfeasance in our happy town so that we could make headlines as the first private citizens to call for a special prosecutor.

Dave also is one of our town’s finest raconteurs. He should be recognized as such with a plaque or at least a spot of graffito on a women’s rest room wall.

As for Tyler, if you don’t already know all about her, she’ll be more than happy to come over to your house this minute to fill you in (although if plane fare is called for, she’d ask that you pick up the tab.)

The food was terrific, even more so because I could actually taste bits and pieces of it. I had the Turkuaz kabob with lamb. It’s prepared with vegetables and a red pepper sauce in an earthen casserole. Yum.

My taste buds have yet to return to full strength. I’d say they’re running at about a 25 percent capacity, if that. And I’m still producing only trace amounts of saliva. Together, these two side effects from chemotherapy and radiation have pretty much quashed all my desire to eat. Food tastes either like cardboard, like nothing at all, and in certain tragic scenarios (tomatoes, tomato sauce, chocolate, honey, etc.) like the sourest, most rancid dreck I’ve ever shoveled into my trap.

As a result, I’ve lost 75 pounds (and counting) since mid-March. Now, let’s be frank — my pre-cancer treatment girth most assuredly was throwing the Earth’s orbit out of whack. I admit it. I’d hit the truly round figure of 335 pounds before I started getting zapped and poisoned. I’m pushing 260 now with no end of the narrowing in sight.

Here’s a picture of Dave and me outside Turkuaz Saturday night:

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Before my weight loss, I was easily two of Dave. Now, as you can see, I’m more like 1½ of him.

I posted the pic on social media with some self-deprecating humor about what an old goat I am and how in the hell did that happen w/o me noticing it? See, because we’re supposed to fight aging with every ounce of our being. The old, we’re told, are only old because they let themselves get that way. The lazy, disgusting bastards.

Take a look at this slide show:

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(Just to clarify: I love the fact that I’m 60 this year. I hear people talk about how fun it would be to go back to their 20s and I think, really? You’re kidding, right? You actually want to go back to a time when your hormones ruled, when you had no idea of who you were or what this confounding existence was all about? When you were so insecure that you’d fall for any and every goofy-assed trend that came along just so’s you’d be part of the in-crowd? Not me, babies.)

Anyway, it surprised me when several people reacted to my post with wonderful compliments on how good I look now. Well, wonderful in their intent.

See, losing 75 pounds in a mere few months is terribly unhealthy. I’m constantly fighting dehydration and under-nourishment. My body has begun eating up lean muscle mass, having had its fill of my fat. Most often when I stand up, I have to steady myself against the dizziness that overwhelms me. I’m as weak as a kitten. I want to sleep most hours of the day. My metabolic blood panels (the numerical results of testing done on my blood samples, measuring my sugar [glucose] level, electrolyte and fluid balance, kidney function, and liver function) cause much head-shaking among my army of doctors.

I am, in short, still a wreck.

Even though slicing the equivalent of a 12-year-old girl off my silhouette ought to be a boon for my overall health and longevity, doing it this way is flat out wrong. In fact, all my doctors cautioned me early on in my treatment: You’re gonna lose weight but you’ve got to try to control it. Don’t look at it as a diet or anything good that’s happening. You’ve got to keep your strength up. Etc.

So, yeah, I’m skinnier now. But it doesn’t mean I look good. In fact, it’s prima facie evidence that I’m still awfully sick.

Then again, I’m alive. I’ll take the now as opposed to the then.

Scoop Coup!

Hey, you’d better be here every day of the upcoming Democratic National Convention (Mon-Thu, July 25-28). The Electron Pencil has struck a multi-penny deal with a special correspondent who’ll be roaming the scene.

I’m thrilled. She’s thrilled. You will be too! (We hope.)


Stay tuned for the great unveiling of our correspondent. Her identity, that is; she’ll remained clothed throughout. Phew!

July 18th Birthdays

A veritable treasury of birthdays today, including that of our very own Brother William Morris, host of WFIU’s Soul Kitchen, civil rights lawyer, volunteer for Indiana Legal Services and scads of other do-good orgs. around the region, teacher, and all-around cool-as-all-hell guy.

Hendrik Lorentz — Without old Hank, Albert Einstein might not have been able to conjure up his special theory of relativity. From the Nobel Prize organization’s biography of him:

The so-called Lorentz transformation (1904) was based on the fact that electromagnetic forces between charges are subject to slight alterations due to their motion, resulting in a minute contraction in the size of moving bodies. It not only adequately explains the apparent absence of the relative motion of the Earth with respect to the ether, as indicated by the experiments of Michelson and Morley, but also paved the way for Einstein’s special theory of relativity.

Lorentz’s mother’s maiden name was Geertruida van Ginkel, a fact I add here only because it makes me chuckle.

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Lorentz (R) & Einstein

Margaret Brown — Born Margaret Tobin, she became known as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” She was raised in poverty in Hannibal, Missouri (also home of Samuel Clemens — Mark Twain) and moved to Leadville, Colorado as an 18-year-old. She’d always hoped to marry rich but instead settled for love in the form of a self-educated mining engineer named J.J. Brown. Brown developed a safe system to prevent mine cave-ins that allowed the Ibex Mining Co. in 1893 to retrieve huge amounts of copper and gold from the Little Jonny Mine. The couple became extremely wealthy as a result. Margaret was aboard the Titanic when it sank. She helped load survivors on lifeboats and later helped oar her own lifeboat. She chided crewmen to return to the stricken liner to attempt to save passengers. Her valor and insistence led to her nickname and a 1960 Broadway musical about her.

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Vidkun Quisling — His name sounds like the kind of guy he was — a wishy-washy, spineless, shoulder-shrugging collaborator with Adolf Hitler. A quisling, natch.

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Jessamyn West — The short-story writer and novelist was born Mary Jessamyn West in North Vernon, Indiana. Her family moved to southern California when she was six. There, she attended Sunday school classes under the direction of Frank Nixon, father of future president Richard. Jessamyn was Richard’s second cousin. She credited Frank’s teachings of the social gospel as the inspiration for her later adherence to socialism.

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Red Skelton — Born Richard Bernard Skelton and raised in Vincennes, Indiana, on the Wabash River, he and his first wife, Edna Stillwell, developed a bit called the Doughnut Dunkers in which Red pantomimed different types of people dunking doughnuts in their coffee. President Franklin Roosevelt enjoyed Red’s humor so much he made the comedian the emcee of his yearly official birthday celebrations.


Nelson Mandela — An amateur actor, boxer, runner, and law student who was thrown out of one college for his early forays into activism, Mandela spent 27 years in prison before his triumphant release in 1990.

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John Glenn — The first American to orbit the Earth. Testifying before the House Space Committee in 1962, Glenn told the representatives he was against the idea of women becoming astronauts.

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Hunter S. Thompson — According to lore, Boston Globe magazine editor Bill Cardoso invented the term, “gonzo journalism,” borrowing the word from Southie Irish slang indicating the last man standing after a night of drinking and brawling.

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Dion DiMucci — Former front man for the doo-wop act, Dion and the Belmonts, he struck out on his own in the 1960s and, mere weeks after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., charted with the most heart-breaking pop song ever, “Abraham, Martin and John.” To this day, just hearing the song brings tears to my eyes.

On this date in 1988, Nico died. In 1969, Mary Jo Kopechne died. In 1817, Jane Austen died. And, finally, in 1610, Caravaggio died. (Images in slideshow.)

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