The Hero We Need, or The Hero Who Needs Us?

For better or worse, we live in a superhero culture. You can’t avoid it – the theaters are inundated with comic book movies of varying degrees of quality.

But there are very few superhero stories that have the depth and courage to comment on that culture, to ask what kind of heroes we need, what kind we want to be.

So it’s no small surprise to find that kind of vision coming from, of all places, The Tick. Continue reading

Out of Hiding

Previously in this whole medical odyssey, I was trying to reconcile my need to stay connected to the outside world with my frequent feeling like crap because of my illness and its attendant symptoms and side effects.

I really wasn’t doing a very good job of it. And I wonder if… no, I really don’t. I know I was using it all as an excuse to hide from everyone. I just don’t want people to see me at my worst. And even on the better days, I haven’t been anywhere near my best in a long, long time.

But sometimes you just have to keep going. Continue reading

Film Music Friday: Thank You, Jonathan Demme

There are so many things you could say about the life and career of Jonathan Demme.

You could say he was an eclectic filmmaker. You could say he loved people, onscreen and off, in all their messy glory. You could say he was restless. You could say he loved his character actors (and you have to love a guy who couldn't make a movie without trying to find a place in it for Charles Napier). And all of that is true. It's right up there onscreen.

For me, of course, the thing that marks Demme as one of the greats is the deep and abiding love he had for music. Continue reading

“Smile, Though Your Heart Is Aching”

We look to season premieres to set the tone for what’s to come. So, looking at the season premiere of Doctor Who, it seems (and I hope I’m right) that the relationship of Twelve and Bill will take precedence over the usual twists and turns we’ve come to expect from a series run by Steven Moffat.

That said, there’s still room for some plot. And “Smile” at least has an interesting one. Continue reading

“I Never Know Why, I Only Know Who”

It’s been a long while since we had Doctor Who every week, too long for most our tastes. And between the wait and all the changes announced – from Pearl Mackie’s arrival as the new companion to Peter Capaldi’s imminent departure from the role he made his own (don’t get me started) – there was the usual anticipation and uncertainty about what Series 10 would have in store for us.

Based on that first episode, it looks like we’re in for quite the journey… Continue reading

How Do You Talk To Someone With Cancer?

It’s a situation I wish none of us had to face, but it’s more or less inevitable that all of us do.

When someone you care about is diagnosed with a serious illness, how do you talk to them? What do you say? How do you keep their spirits up, and yours, in the face of something as terrible as cancer?

I’ve been there. I was that guy sitting next to you when you were sick, with no idea what to say. And now I’m that guy you’re sitting next to, as you’re trying to figure it out.

So, with me as an example, I’d like to share what I’ve learned so far…

First, it’s okay to talk about the disease. I’m dealing with this thing – it’s a fact you really can’t avoid. So it’s okay to ask how I’m feeling, physically or mentally or emotionally. If I’m hurting, it’s okay to talk about the nausea or vomiting or whatever symptoms I’m going through. You’re invested in my well being, so share it.

Second, it’s okay to not talk about the disease. As much as I know I can’t truly avoid it, sometimes I’d like to pretend I can. And you’ll figure out pretty quickly when those times are. So, talk about what’s going on in your life. Talk about your work. Talk about your family. Talk about that show you’re in. Talk about books you’ve read. Talk about that show on Netflix you really like. Give me things to write. Give me grief about my klutziness (and if you’ve known me long enough, you know I’ll give you a lot of material). Play cards with me. You can even gripe about the weather (and it’s 20 degrees as I’m writing this, which is reason enough to gripe in San Antonio). Life isn’t normal for me, so I appreciate the effort to carry on like it is.

And that’s the most important thing: treat me like the guy I used to be. I know my life has changed. I have cancer. But I don’t want to feel like I’m just That Guy With Cancer now. I want to be Lee. I miss being Lee. So when you call, when you text or FB me, when you stop by, just remember the way you used to talk to me before I was diagnosed, and keep doing that.

For anyone who’s asked if there’s anything I need… I think I need that the most.

Thanks as always for following along. Love you all…

A Quick Note About Future Posts

When I first announced my diagnosis on Facebook, I wrote that I didn’t want people to see me as That Guy With Cancer. I was still Plain Old Lee. I didn’t want that disease to define me.

And that’s why I’ve only written two posts about it in the last four months. I didn’t want this to become That Cancer Blog.

But I’ve had so many people respond to my updates. So many people thanking me for my bravery and strength. Personally, I don’t feel particularly strong or brave, but it means a lot to me that so many of you see that in me.

What I am, of course, without dispute, is a writer. And from the beginning, I knew I’d have to use what voice I have to get through this. I knew that I’d have to use my experience to help others.

A few of you know that I’ve been working on a long form project. Trying to share my story in my way. I don’t quite know if the shape it’s taking now will be its ultimate form, but it has helped me deal with the mental and emotional issues that come with this whole cancer thing.

But while and until that comes to fruition, I think I’ll be writing a little more on the blog. I’ll still do my best to keep my original focus on the arts and pop culture, but be ready for a brief update here, a definition there, when I feel like I have something to contribute. When I feel like I can help.

I hope you’ll read these posts. I hope you like them. And most of all, if you know someone who might be going through the same experience, I hope you’ll share them. I want your friends, your family, your loved ones to know what you all have reminded me time and again: that we’re not alone.

Thank you.