Sunday, October 30, 2011

Special Blog Story Sunday, Nov 6, at 7:30 pm ET

Sarah Palin reminds you to visit this blog next Sunday, November 6, 2011, at 7:30 pm ET to read Part I of the "My Cancer Story" finale. "My Cancer Story" can be found by scrolling down the right side of this blog a little ways, or click here to read from the beginning.

If you want to receive this powerful story automatically and without having to think—e.g. Palin-style if she were literate—then subscribe easily and for free to the RSS feed or by email.

Part II will be posted one day later, on Monday, November 7, at 7:30 pm ET, and so on until "My Cancer Story" culminates in its Palincredible conclusion.

See you next week. My StatCounter better show some Russian visitors.

Sarah Palin winking

Leia Mais…

Passed Away Resulting from Cancer: Poh Nikbar October

“What are they gonna say about him? What are they gonna say? That he was a kind man? That he was a wise man? That he had plans, man? That he had wisdom? Bullshit, man!” – Dennis Hopper, Apocalypse Now

Dennis Hopper

Man, I was shocked to hear the rumor that Dennis Hopper was stoned while filming Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, which is widely considered a top-50 film of all time. Man, he seemed so normal, man, with his long hair and wackjob rants, not to mention the film's trippy cinematography and plot.

Hopper’s acting career consisted of over 200 movies including the best sports film, Hoosiers, in which he was nominated for an Academy Award for playing a passionate drunk. He excelled as a villain. He was the bad guy in 24 (never cross Jack Bauer, man) and Speed, opposite the God of Acting Keanu Reeves and also one of my favorite movies. Of all his movies including Apocalypse and Easy Rider—also considered in the top 100—it is Speed that Hopper is best known for according to Speed has taught me useful life knowledge. Always shoot the hostage. Cheap gold watches make for great bombs. And poor people are crazy but, man, Hopper is just eccentric.

Hopper divorced five times, including a real nasty one with his final wife soon before his death. In 2009 Hopper was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. The cancer reportedly spread to his bones, and he was considered terminal and unable to undergo chemo. Hopper passed away in his home on May 29, 2010, at age 74. Damn, man.
Dennis Hopper from Apocalypse Now

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Official Book Trailer for "Twice" by Benjamin Rubenstein

I'm pleased to announce the release of the official trailer for my book, Twice: How I Became a Cancer-Slaying Super Man Before I Turned 21. It can also be seen on my YouTube channel,

Leia Mais…

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Baby Experiment

I visited my college friend, Barfman, who lives in Annapolis and works at The United States Naval Academy.

United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD
The dormitory looks like mine at UVA, only the opposite
United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD

Barfman has a seven-month-old little human, a.k.a. baby boy. I enjoyed spending time with this curious little human. He is intrigued by the world around him, likes to smile, make gibberish sounds, and lick my feet.
Seven-month-old baby plays with dad's leg

Barfman has significant power over how this little human will turn out, and I would like to experiment with it. If we (what, I don't have any say?) decide he should be outgoing, then we let him roam around and hope he doesn't get lost or eaten. If we want him to be a cagefighter then we let him play with toys until he inevitably injures himself, and then reward that behavior with puréed squash and luxurious diapers. This could be so much fun.

When I mentioned how cool it was that he has so much control over his little human, Barfman agreed but added, "In many ways he controls my life."

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Most Interesting Organ in the World

Following my bone marrow transplant in 2003, my body went haywire. For example, the orifice meant to expel solid waste went in favor of a viscosity close to water, and the orifice meant to expel liquid decided to shoot blood clots instead.

My liver stopped working properly, and I was left with gallstones and sludge in my gallbladder. The gallbladder is a small organ near the liver that stores bile to help break down fatty foods. The bile originally comes from the liver. Unless you eat fried chicken tenders every day, it is not critical and can usually be removed without causing problems.

Gallstones are harmless unless one gets lodged and causes inflammation. Beyond the possibility that this leads to potentially life-threatening emergencies, it is also one of my top-ten all-time pains. Remembering what I said before about where I excreted solid objects will give you an idea of the level of pain.

My first gallbladder attack occurred when I was still recovering from my transplant. At first I thought my liver was exploding. Then the pain radiated across my entire back and pulsed through me. I took 10 milligrams of oxycodone and showed my gallbladder who has the real stones.

Since I could hardly keep food down, of course fatty, calorie-packed foods were the ones I chose. But fatty foods are also what disrupts gallstones. And now I needed a high-calorie, low-fat diet, but I was unable to eat large quantities, which, by my calculations, was impossible. Faced with the prospect of laparoscopic surgery, I listened as my dad said, “You should get your gallbladder removed. While you’re asleep, they should also take out your appendix and spleen, because you don’t need those things.”

“Dad, your spleen is kind of important.”

“Are you sure?”

“I think so.”

“Then they’ll just take your appendix, that’s all. I kind of want my gallbladder out. I don’t use it,” he explained.

Since the stones and sludge never completely disappear, my gallbladder removal is inevitable. Removal of my appendix and spleen, however, is not.

I held off on surgery, mostly because I had the insurance of oxycodone at my disposal. My gallstone attacks also continued, mostly because I was also overly fond of fried chicken tenders. When I completely recovered from my transplant, my gallbladder calmed down and I went four years before my next attack.

I was working at a bank—my first job out of college. I had eaten a plate (or two or three) of bar-b-que at the holiday party a couple hours earlier. I thought I had indigestion so I took Zantac and Tums. When those were ineffective, I knew it was my gallbladder. Already having stepped away from the office for an hour, I told my supervisor I wasn’t feeling well and left. She probably assumed I had been in the bathroom all that time and was happy to see me take my presumed digestion problems home.

No oxycodone this time, though, so I found extra-strength, fast-acting Tylenol at Rite Aid. I could barely breath because of the pain, but I still had the presence of mind to get the cheap generic pills. Only a slow old woman was in line ahead of me. My stream of thoughts were foul and not because I have a granny fetish. Eventually I paid, swallowed my pills, and a couple hours later could at least breath normally.

I consulted a general surgeon who, again, suggested I get the organ removed. Though I read rare horror stories from people who had theirs removed, it is a simple procedure, and most people function fine without their gallbladders. But my gallbladder and I have been through a lot together, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let go of it by way of minimally-invasive surgery. I’m holding out until it has to be removed by cutting me open. I need to add to my 25+ inches of medical scarring. Bring back the fried chicken tenders.

Leia Mais…

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Birthright Israel: We’re Coming Back (Part IV of ?)

Read these first:
Birthright Israel: We’re Coming Back (Part I of ?)
Birthright Israel: We’re Coming Back (Part II of ?)
Birthright Israel: We're Coming Back (Part III of ?)

At the Golan Heights overlooking Syria on Birthright Israel
At the Golan Heights overlooking Syria
I learned how Israel gained control of the Golan Heights, and how Syria uses a captured Israeli soldier named Gilad Shalit to negotiate back ownership. Israel considers this an option*. Our tour guide tried withholding bias throughout the trip, but here he couldn’t abstain: Syria may agree to peace, but once Israel relinquishes the Golan Heights then Syria would require something else for real peace. The cycle could continue.
* other aspects of negotiation, and other potential negotiations, not named here

Israel's Gilad Shalit
I learned the value of a life. The parents of Gilad Shalit host strangers in their home—more like a living memorial—to pray for the safe return of their kidnapped son. He has been gone for over 1,900 days and counting. And sadly, Israel’s enemies use this against it, knowing that Israel will give up the world to get their soldiers back. Gilad is twenty-five years old.

I learned how nearly all high school graduates enter service—the men for three years and women for two. They talk about their military background the way Americans disclose their University or degree to display status and success.

I learned how proud the soldiers felt to be part of our Birthright group. Whereas I applied for the trip because it was free and promised to be an awesome party, the Israelis felt honored to be selected. At Mount Herzl, each one received a Taglit pin and sincerely thanked us for letting them be a part of our experience.

Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum
Artwork at Museum in memory of the death march from Dachau
The Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum was redone since my Israel trip in 2000. It is interactive and spectacular. Before entering, we had the privilege of hearing a Holocaust survivor speak. It pains him deeply every time he gives a talk, but he feels obligated to share his story to make sure it never happens again. Considering how old this gentleman and all the other survivors are, that may have been the only time I’ll ever hear a survivor speak in person. Although I gained a lot by hearing the man speak, I already knew how unfathomable the Holocaust was. That is something everyone should learn at a young age, though so many Americans don’t.

I learned that despite being surrounded by people and governments that hate them, Israelis move on with life at a 21st century pace. We spoke a bit about the many threats Israel faces. I believe Iran’s nuclear program is the most critical. That wasn’t even a top-3 topic in our discussion. Israelis seem in a bigger rush than Washingtonians or New Yorkers and they don’t have time to fret about Ahmadinejad.

I learned that Israelis wheel and deal more so than Blagojevich. I was rushed through stores and eateries, expected to know what I wanted to buy before entering, buy those items, buy additional impulse items, and then run out of the store to tell others to buy the same stuff. Their cost of living is high, too, but they make up for it by making Coke Zero available most everywhere. That made me willing to forgive the Coke Zero can being closer to 11 ounces than 12.

While rooming with one of the soldiers one night, he was talking to me after he took a shower. He dropped his towel and then stayed that way for several minutes to put on deodorant and such before dressing, still talking and looking at me. I learned that either soldiers in general, Israelis in general, or Israeli soldiers in particular have different standards regarding air-drying.

I learned that, while chasing girls, I shouldn't concede victory just because my competitor is a foreign soldier who drops towel far more leniently than he should. Fiery, my interest on the trip, told me so at the end of the trip when I inquired. On that note, I learned that I am better looking at very low body fat (like I was in Israel) than at just low body fat (like I was in last month’s rejection). Those two examples are a proper sample size to conclude cause and effect, not just correlation, so I expect great things when I once again get low low low body fat probably next month.

When public restrooms are not available and you really need to pee, it’s OK to just go, man. I knew this way before going to Israel, and maybe more appropriately I should say you just go, man, even if it’s not perceived as OK. Despite the temperature in the 40s and the accompanied chilly sensation, this was the most scenic pee of my life. Ahhhh.
Golan Heights sunset

Leia Mais…

Monday, October 3, 2011

My Book is Now ‘50/50’ Toward Becoming a Movie

Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in 50/50
…Well, probably closer to 1/99, but the new film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt strengthened my book’s chances. I saw it tonight with my friend, Republican, because it seems like a requirement for me to see all the cancer movies since I have a published cancer memoir and would love for it to become a film.

50/50 was well-done, and real. There were some big laughs, and the dramatic moments were unforced. Gordon-Levitt played the role of a typical twenty-something male with cancer spot-on, and I contend he should be nominated for a “best lead actor” award. It was pleasant to see another cancer media besides my book that isn’t sappy Lifetime-bound.

According to, the production budget for 50/50 was $8 million, which it has already earned in its opening weekend, making it well on its way to profitability (though, I do not know if that budget includes advertising). This is important because everything revolves around the Benjamins, and if this movie can be profitable then maybe “Twice the Movie” can, too.

One complaint about 50/50, I suspect, is that it is too real. I could hear Republican sniffle a couple times, and one scene in particular may bring a twinkle to your eye unless you are a robot like me. If I wanted to be a sellout then I would take notice regarding this blog’s level of realness…nah. I keep it real, and always will. But 50/50 is heavy, and viewers must be prepared for that. “Twice the Movie” would be more focused on dark humor and less heavy since the main character—yours truly—never considered death, a prime them throughout most cancer stories.

It may surprise that even after what I've been through I can sometimes use inspiration. And Gordon-Levitt delivered, reminding me to have more fun, take life less seriously, and remember my roots. Seeing him “fucked-up" with cancer, as I often describe in Twice, was a refreshing reminder of just that.

Leia Mais…

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Passed Away Resulting from Cancer: Poh Nikbar September

Rich Cronin

I own many hundreds of CDs, and I purchased more than half of them. My musical taste covers most genres, except opera, bluegrass, and Rebecca Black. I rarely hold back in my book or this blog, and I’m not about to now: I purchased seven albums by Britney, NSync, Backstreet, O-Town, and LFO. I expect my friend PepperoniNip to post a comment berating me, but just know that he also burned me one more NSync and one LFO album.

LFO was kind of the shit, and not simply because Jennifer Love Hewitt was in their “Girl on TV” video. Their lyrics were incredible: “You're the best girl that I ever did see/ The great Larry Bird Jersey 33,” and, “When I met you I said my name was Rich/ You look like a girl from Abercrombie and Fitch.”

I listened to their self-titled album on repeat on the plane ride to my first Israel trip, just before cancer. I’m sure Hewitt was on repeat in my mind, too. The following summer I listened to their Life Is Good album to and from my radiation sessions at NIH. At that point the end of my cancer treatment was near, and I mimicked my behavior from the previous year—stereo blaring, windows down, back sweat accumulating as I drove dozens of mph's over the limit. I was blind to the notion that August 2000 didn’t flow into August 2001. I did accept that Heidi Klum overtook Hewitt on my Top Five List, though.

LFO—like so many other athletes, musicians, movies and shows—helped to make cancer life easier for me. That’s why I was sad to hear the lead singer, Rich Cronin, died of leukemia last September after battling it for five years.

LFO found success with their self-titled album, which went platinum. They opened for NSync and Britney Spears, and Cronin was part of a VH1 show on boy bands. When their 15 minutes of fame were up, Cronin kept at it, releasing a solo album, creating a rap duo, and trying to reunite LFO years after splitting. As a fellow “artist” who has no idea how to sell my book and doubt I’ll ever make positive cash flow from it, I admire Cronin’s achievement and persistence.

Boy bands are dead, but they had a solid run. Perhaps Cronin and LFO were the most underrated of the bunch.
LFO's Rich Cronin

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