Thursday, October 19, 2006

My mother has cancer.

My mother, Ma Pop, went into the hospital last Monday to get some anti-biotics for what she thought was a sinus cold. She had been throwing up, had a terrible headache and was also feeling dizzy and physically unbalanced. It was a warm, sunny day and she was actually considering forgoing the visit to the hospital for some time in what should have been one of the last nice days of the year. She arrived at the hospital despite these feelings and had some tests done, they came back with alarming results. There was something growing in the soft, vulnerable folds of her brain, a tumor, which was causing her brain to swell and push against the inside of her skull.

She was immediately put on anti-inflammatories, stomach medicine for the havoc wreaked in her guts by the above drug, and codeine. Then came a long wait in the hospital as they ran test upon test and it was finally decided that it would need to be removed and a biopsy performed afterwards to find out what exactly was causing the growth in her head. The week was a long one, full of visits from family and friends, wishes and prayer sent in a multitude of ways and from various different sources. Most of the people she has touched in this past half of her life sent something tangible or intangible to her. A blessed rosary, a prayer from an anglican minister, flowers of all different colours, types, prices and in all kinds of containers were sent to her. She told me later she was rather overwhelmed with this wave of attention and love from places expected and unexpected.

Her surgery was this past Monday, her release was Tuesday. They drilled a hole in her skull and expertly extracted the piece of organic tissue, at which point the kicked her out of the hospital, the dregs of an anesthetic stupor lingering in her veins. Her brother took her home in his van and I arrived at her house immediately, took the reigns from there and nursed Ma Pop as best as I knew how. It is worth noting here that I have a wife and daughter and cannot neglect them for very long. Indeed during my two day absence my wife hasn't slept and was dizzy and sick, throwing up with an unbearable headache, and is now sleeping like a baby. I am home for at least a couple days, leaving my mother in the capable hands of friends, calling work and telling them I can't be in, once again, for my family's ill health.

Ma Pop has told me what the doctors have said, that the brain tumor was not local to the brain, that it is likely a manifestation of something happening somewhere else in the body, that she might have cancer that is spreading.

She can't die.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I have been listening to newer Metallica recently, you know, post-Black Album. I've never given it a chance before, though now that I listen to the three proper albums they've released since '91. I can't give them an entirely horrible review. They've changed since my teenagehood, certainly. They're not metal anymore, it's more like blues rock with some obvious country influence. Your typical bar band sound is what they've being going for, I think, though they are obviously Metallica, you can't mistake the lead's voice. They're using more blues riffs and more typical timing in their tracks, and more consistantly, too. Some of Kirk Hammet's lead guitar (i'm talking about a couple solos and a lick here and there) is still beautiful but that seems to clash with the general sound of base rock that they've managed to create. They're still using punk/metal muting and rhythm a lot of the time, though, which confuses me and, I think, blunts the whiskey-and-oak imagery I feel when listening to Load.

By the way, I really dislike the newest album because it has a digital sound, like linkin park or something. The guitar and everything is much, much too clean and very obviously digitally altered. I have no problem with digital production of songs and tracks, but only when you are using it to enhance your existing sound (i am speaking here of bands who use live instruments,) not when you are creating a whole new sound using the digital technology. You begin to lose the feel of your finished product if you change it so much it sounds like flipping switches, rather than pulling strings. The human element got lost on their last album, is what I think I'm trying to say.

Load and Reload, while having silly names, are alright albums. I approve.