As Chast's parents aged, she recognised the need to care for them, and she did, until they died. Graphic novel memoirCan't We Talk about Something MorAs Chast's parents aged, she recognised the need to care for them, and she did, until they died. Graphic novel memoir Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? details her uncensored journey with humour and poignancy, examining her changing relationships with them along the way.
Being a middle aged married mother, Chast had alot on her plate already without having to worry about her 90-year-old parents living a couple of hours away. But when the increasing grime and clutter became disturbing, and as they refused to get someone in to help, it was time to move them into assisted living. Convincing them that this was for best was difficult, to say the least.
Roz:How's your cataract-removal-operation recovery coming along?
Mother:GREAT! It's like there was a yellow scrim over everything - and now it's GONE! I still have a patch over the eye, though. But not to worry: there's plenty of food in the house - Daddy and I just came back from Waldbaum's!
Roz:Mom! Listen to me. You can't drive with one eye. You have no DEPTH PERCEPTION!!!
Mother:Not a problem. Daddy guided me.
Chast's experience really resonated with me. She confesses to the things I feel embarrassed to admit, things I feel guilty about, as well as detailing the weirder and more messy aspects of illness and advancing age. I definitely related to the tedium of the never-ending paperwork.
Relationships with her parents were complex. Her mother was brash and never hesitated to give a 'blast from Chast'. Roz's father, on the other hand, was the exact opposite.
...he was kind and sensitive. He knew that my mother had a terrible temper, and that she could be overpowering. She had a thick skin. He, like me, did not. She often accused my father of "waling around with his feelers out."
In many ways, my father and I were more alike than my mother and I. We were both only children, and less used to the constant emotional tumult between people than my mother, who was one of five.
Although the subject matter is somewhat frightening in reminding us of our mortality, Chast's memoir isn't depressing. It's frank and reassuring. Death is only mysterious because we don't talk about it. By shining a light on the end stages of life, I feel informed. I've been enlightened.
"The Devil doesn't want her, and God's not ready yet."
However, Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? also shows the need for medical euthanasia. DNRs don't go far enough. Both parents lingered in pain and unconsciousness. Quality of life did not exist for them in those last days and weeks. It seemed unconscionably cruel to prolong their lives when they could no longer partake in life's joys, in even something as simple as communication, in all its forms.
Upon finishing my library copy I immediately bought myself one. The hardcover feels lovely to handle. It begs to be touched. If you're even a little bit intrigued by this book, read it. It's definitely worth reading....more
Get ready to laugh your f*cking arse off. Actually "Sexy and I Know it" is the perfect soundtrack for this one. Brace yourself.
Cat and Mouse
Get ready to laugh your f*cking arse off. Actually "Sexy and I Know it" is the perfect soundtrack for this one. Brace yourself.
Cat and Mouse
An unconscious 30-year-old man was brought in to us by ambulance. His girlfriend had found him lying naked on the floor of his bathroom and called 999. Upon examination, he was found to have a large lump on his forehead and, strangely, several scratches on his scrotum. The lump was obviously from a fall of some kind, but we couldn’t work out the cause of the scratches until he’d woken up. He said he had been cleaning his bathtub while naked, kneeling on the floor beside the tub. His cat, apparently transfixed by the rhythmic swaying of his scrotum, lunged forward, sinking its claws into this deliciously pendulous target. The man wasn’t sure what had happened next, but clearly he’d jerked forward to protect his package and cracked his skull on the edge of the bath.
Chilli-filled vagina, unchoreographed slapstick, some harmless bestiality, many an ESA (Embarrassing Sexual Accident), fat nurse gets comeuppance, battered woman not actually battered... by a human - nothing is what it appears. You can't make this shit up.
One surgeon has removed from rectums: an unbroken lightbulb, a smashed champagne glass, a prosthetic arm, many toothbrushes, a large rubber ‘Hulk’ fist (and again, two years later), many eggs, and a stapler.
And I'm not sure why but losing an eel up the arse is more common than I'd originally thought.
(Click to see eel in human intestine story)
Also, penis augmentation - why?
An elderly male came in to the surgery with a steel cock ring stuck behind his scrotum and penis, both of which were swollen to four times their usual size (he told us with pride). I asked him how long he had been in this predicament, to which he replied, ‘Three days.’ I asked, ‘Why didn’t you come in sooner?’ His answer: ‘I could still pee, and the wife was happy...’
A warning to those that are sexually active and like a drink:
Rip it Up and Start Again
We were called to an attempted suicide in a student flat. A young couple had been drinking, had a fight, then made up, before falling into a deep sleep. The girlfriend had woken in the early hours, with the sensation that she was soaking wet. Turning on the bedside light and pulling back the covers, she was horrified to discover they were both drenched in blood, huge amounts of it.
She quickly worked out she was okay and it seemed her boyfriend had been driven to try and kill himself as a result of the fight the previous evening. He was unconscious. She called 999 immediately.
When we arrived she was hysterical. The bed was a mess. Like that scene in The Godfather. There was even blood on the walls. But something wasn’t right. We couldn’t find any incisions in his wrists or on his thighs. Although he was totally unconscious his pulse and breathing were normal.
After further examination, it appeared the source of the blood was around his groin area. But again no cuts. My colleague then had a brainwave. He peeled back the lad’s foreskin and sure enough, his frenulum (the piece of skin that runs between the foreskin and the head of the penis – also known by Paramedics as the banjo string) was completely ripped. There was a lovely gaping wound right up to the urethra. Believe it or not, a remarkably common injury when couples have sex drunk – caused by lack of lubrication.
You have been warned.
When the health professionals get to have a little fun:
A man was brought in with a bad case of concussion, which had resulted in extreme short-term memory loss. I’d walk into the room and tell him he had a concussion and he’d explain he had one when he was a kid. This was repeated every time I walked into the room. After about 10 times of doing this, I walked in and told him he had a concussion and he’d had one before when he was a kid. Mind blown. Priceless.
When you realise humanity is doomed:
I asked him if he’d been travelling overseas recently or eaten anything off or odd. This is what he told me: ‘Well, I was at a brothel last night and I may have swallowed some water in the communal spa they have there, would that count?’ And I had to treat this guy.
These two went viral a few years ago:
Fire in the Hole
‘In retrospect, lighting the match was my big mistake, but I was only trying to retrieve the hamster,’ Philip told colleagues in the Severe Burns Unit he’d been rushed to. Philip and his partner William had been admitted for emergency treatment after a felching session had gone seriously wrong. ‘I pushed a cardboard tube up his rectum and slipped Gerald, our Campbell’s hamster, in,’ he said. ‘As usual, Will shouted, “Apocalypse!” – our safe word that he’d had enough. I tried to retrieve Gerald, but he wouldn’t come out again, so I peered into the tube and struck a match, thinking the light might attract him.’ The match must have ignited a pocket of intestinal gas and a flame shot out of the tube, igniting Philip’s hair and severely burning his face. It also set fire to Gerald’s fur and whiskers, which in turn ignited a larger pocket of gas further up the intestinal tract, propelling the hamster out like a cannonball. Philip suffered second-degree burns and a suspected broken nose from the impact of the hamster, while William suffered first and second-degree burns to his anus and lower intestinal tract. I never heard what happened to Gerald the hamster.'
Burned to be Wild
A woman was cleaning up the mess left by her hairy biker husband after he’d decided to strip his motorcycle engine on the kitchen table before putting the parts back together and taking it for a spin. One of the things he was using was a bowl of petrol (apparently it is great for getting rid of grease). She took this bowl and, not knowing what to do with the contents, decided to pour them down the loo. Her husband came back, lit a cigarette and, happy with his bike, went to the bathroom. As he did a wee he threw his cigarette end into the loo. The explosion brought his wife running upstairs, where she found him crumpled against the wall, having been blown backwards through the door, his hair, beard, eyebrows and pubes burnt off and his clothes smouldering. She dialled 999 and we came and took care of him. Hopefully he’ll remember to clean up his own mess in the future...
Do you know how long it took me to write this review? I read this aloud on Christmas Day. Too many quotes I wanted to include; half the book was copied here, and I had to cut it down.
To all the firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, emergency call handlers, dentists and every other health professional, thank you for your service and your stories....more
Other than the seriously offensive smell of Hyperbole and Half's pages (I think it's all that colourful ink) and that odd yellow triangle on the top oOther than the seriously offensive smell of Hyperbole and Half's pages (I think it's all that colourful ink) and that odd yellow triangle on the top of Brosh's cartoon head (what is that, anyway? A hat, a blonde ponytail?), this is a self-aware blog-to-book memoir describing some of the absurdities and poignancy of everyday life.
My first encounter with Allie Brosh's blog of the same name was a few years ago when the glorious "God of Cake" went viral. I was reminded of an angry 8-year-old me wanting to get revenge on my mother. She wanted to go into town. I didn't. I said I needed the toilet. I sat there, and sat there, and sat there, making her wait. She knew what I was doing. After that day she was suspicious every time I emptied my bladder before leaving the house. My plan backfired while Brosh's succeeded.
What usually ends up happening is that I completely wear myself out [doing all my chores in one day]. Thinking that I've deserved it, I give myself permission to slack off for a while and recover. Since I've exceeded my capacity for responsibility in such a dramatic fashion, I end up needing to take more recovery time than usual. This is when the guilt spiral starts.
The longer I procrastinate on returning phone calls and emails, the more guilty I feel about it. The guilt I feel causes me to avoid the issue further, which only leads to more guilt and more procrastination. It gets to the point where I don't email someone for fear of reminding them that they emailed me and thus giving them a reason to be disappointed in me.
Everyone will have a story similar to "The Parrot". That toy that makes that annoying, repetitive noise which suddenly and mysteriously stops working, because your parents have removed the batteries before they experienced a mental breakdown.
Brosh's take on depression (Part One and Part Two) did an excellent job of explaining the pressures of acting 'normal'.
I'm no stranger to the inappropriate hysterical laughter that comes after something breaks inside, together with not having been genuinely amused for a long time, made me completely understand Brosh's episode over a single piece of corn found under the refrigerator. My toilet had overflowed, shit everywhere. Only a few days before, the kitchen had flooded with clean water. It was already a time of great stress, and this was that infamous final straw. I laughed and laughed.
...my depression got so horrible that it actually broke through to the other side and became a sort of fear-proof exoskeleton.
But my cynicism wouldn't leave me.
Hating everything made all the positivity and hope feel even more unpalatable. The syrupy, over-simplified optimism started to feel almost offensive.
"Identity" Parts One and Two focuses on feeling bad for the uncensored and uncharitable thoughts we want no one to ever hear, and the need to feel like a better person than we actually are, hating when we're reminded of it by overachievers. We've all been there.
Duncan had a bad day . . . sort of looks like he might cry. Feel highly inconvenienced by this. Was planning to sit on couch and do nothing, but now obligated to pay attention to feelings of person I love. Ignore for a few seconds to see if it will go away on its own . . . Nope. Going to have to do something. Realize I'm an asshole. Feel even more inconvenienced by situation because I also wasn't planning on having to think about what an asshole I am. Momentarily overwhelmed by self-concern in middle of someone else's crisis. Somehow fight through self-centered haze long enough to provide adequate emotional support. Congratulate self for being so caring.
Although I enjoyed reading Hyperbole and a Half, I'm not sure if it's worth buying. It depends on your preferential type of humour and whether you're a dog lover who can enjoy the misadventures of Simple Dog and Helper Dog. Sampling a few of Brosh's blog posts would give you a feel for her style of writing, and if you're still unsure, just do what I did and borrow it from the library....more
Bestiality. Kidnapping. Mugging. Ye olde carjacking. Burglary. Assault. Murder. Female paedophiles. Incest. Male rape. Adultery. Animal cruelty. SeriaBestiality. Kidnapping. Mugging. Ye olde carjacking. Burglary. Assault. Murder. Female paedophiles. Incest. Male rape. Adultery. Animal cruelty. Serial killers in the making. Poisonings. Homosexual priest gangbangs. Shapeshifting. Gods and goddesses. The Seven Deadly Sins. Evil mother-in-laws. Drama. Comedy. Tragedy. Adventure. Romance. Horror. Urban legends. Stories within stories. Inspiration for that Hannibal episode where a person was sewn into a dead horse's belly.
What doesn't The Golden Ass have?
At this point I should probably be comparing The Golden Ass to the brutality shown in Game of Thrones, only this is much less about political maneuvering and Machiavellian plotting, but still, they're both not for the faint of heart. The Golden Ass is one of the first, or the first, human-to-animal transformation stories that run in the same vein as Disney's Brother Bear and The Emperor's New Groove.
With all of the beatings Lucius received as a helpless slave in donkey form, carrying loads too heavy for his four-legged form, having his fur set on fire, never allowed rest when he most needs it and forced to continue on or have his feet tied together to be hurled off a cliff - because that's what they did to lame animals - I feel like I need to donate to The Donkey Sanctuary.
For a 1,900 year old novel, you realise that nothing's really changed in that time, socially speaking.
Sex scenes are surprisingly good. There's no hesitation. No repressed sexuality. No self-esteem issues. And all manner of positions are attempted.
'The only redeeming feature of this catastrophic transformation was that my natural endowment had grown too.'
Typical man. Turned into a donkey and he's impressed with the increase in the size of his manhood.
Yelling 'FIRE!' when being burgled and in need of help:
'Then, leaving him there fatally crucified, he climbed to the roof of his hovel and shouted at the top of his voice to summon the neighbours; calling each one by name he gave out that his house had suddenly caught fire, reminding them that this involved the safety of them all. So everybody, frightened by the danger next door, came running in alarm to help.'
Well, it's been proven. Video games don't make kids violent, a lack of video games does. Imagination is a dangerous thing. So many inventive ways to torture and kill, to humiliate and degrade. The devil makes work for idle hands, as they say. So parents, quickly stuff a Playstation controller into your little one's hands before they turn their minds to dastardly deeds.
Certain aspects of The Golden Ass really do get you thinking about contentious issues.
How do you define bestiality? Lucius is a man turned into a donkey. When it's proposed that he'll be allowed his choice of horses with which to procreate - is that bestiality? Is Lucius's fornication as an ass with a human woman bestiality? Does the fact that he has a human mind inside an animal body change the status of the sexual relationship?
Surprisingly, Apuleius doesn't deliver the stereotype paedophile. A lusty married woman sets her sights on her stepson. Oddly this is labelled incest though there appears to be no blood connection. And it's the same with rape. A cuckolded husband rapes his adulterous wife's toyboy lover as punishment. Perhaps male paedophiles and rapists were stereotypes even 2,000 years ago.
The feminist in me feels compelled to point out the unbalanced female representation. Many women were demonised as witches who pee on men's faces, who steal body parts from the dead, who are complicit in evil deeds, who are nymphomaniacs, adulterers, paedophiles, vain and jealous grudge-holding goddesses. Psyche (myth), Photis (Lucius's servant lover) and Byrrhena (Lucius's aunt) are the only exceptions.
The Abduction of Psyche by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
During Lucius's journey, the stories he hears are mostly told at the dinner table, around the fire, as a distraction on a long journey, or as a comfort to distraught kidnap victims. Understandably storytelling was their main form of entertainment. Well, that and gossip, which was free or you provided a meal for the teller. I really enjoyed the mythical telling of Psyche and Cupid.
Each of the 11 'books' are self-contained chapters of about 20 pages with a spoiler-y summary of what's to come at the beginning, so it was easy to dip in and out. I wasn't particularly happy with the ending, in fact I skimmed and skipped around at that point. I can understand Lucius's gratefulness at the chance to become human again, and I'm aware of that ancient tradition of 'a life saved, is a life owed' [see Azeem of 1991's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves], but I have an issue with blind faith. Lucius walks away from his previous life to devote himself and his future to worshipping his rescuer. That's just weird, from my 21st century non-religious perspective.
The translation very much played a part in my enjoyment of this ancient novel. I carefully researched which was right for me. I chose the Kenney edition as it seemed the least stilted of those available, and I'm glad I made that choice.
I never thought I'd enjoy a 2,000 year old novel, but I did. And you might, too.
Ever wanted to question the specifics of a villian's clichéd world domination plan? Call a villain out on the infantile nature of it, presenting the dEver wanted to question the specifics of a villian's clichéd world domination plan? Call a villain out on the infantile nature of it, presenting the difficulties he'll face in accomplishing such a feat, and then maintaining leadership should he succeed? Skullduggery Pleasant does all that and more with his quick, dry wit and that sharp, sarcastic tongue of his, and it's deliciously satisfying and rib-ticklingly funny. An excellent non-essential freebie.
I'm so sorry for laughing and judging you based on how I believed you'd died. Living with Hirschsprung's disease had to be awful, aDear Elvis Presley,
I'm so sorry for laughing and judging you based on how I believed you'd died. Living with Hirschsprung's disease had to be awful, always worrying, always in discomfort. People assuming you were fat when the distended abdomen was a sign you were seriously ill.
Begging your forgiveness,
At autopsy, his colon was "two to three times normal size ... was jam-packed [length-wise]... The impaction had the consistency of clay and seemed to defy Florendo's efforts with the scissors to cut it out." The clayey material, he says, was barium, administered to prep Presley for a set of X-rays - taken four months earlier. "That barium was... Just like a rock." He says the impaction obstructed at least 50 to 60 percent of the diameter of Presley's colon ... [It] had expanded so dramatically [at the end of his career] that it crowded his diaphragm and had begun to compromise his breathing and singing.' Soiling himself on stage happened regularly, he had no control whatsoever because of the disease. 'The resulting arrhythmia [from straining to make a bowel movement] can be fatal ... especially likely to happen to someone, like Elvis, with a compromised heart.' It's a common cause of death but wasn't well-known or understood at the time of Presley's death.
'Stool softeners are administered as a matter of course on coronary-care wards.'
Nasal regurgitation. Fistulated stomachs. Rectal feeding. Holy water enemas. Mythbusting Mary Roach concentrates on the strange, the unethical, and the downright funny aspects of the alimentary canal.
I've learned many things:
✺ Eat more liver. Organs are the most nutritious parts of an animal. ✺ Never take alka seltzer / bicarbonate of soda / baking soda after eating too much. ✺ Never light a match or breathe without apparatus near a manure pit. ✺ Never punch someone in the mouth unless I'm willing to lose a finger. ✺ Anal cancer exists and is contracted the same way as cervical cancer. ✺ A human cannot survive being swallowed by a large fish. Jonah lied. ✺ Fire-breathing dragons snakes are possible under the right conditions. ✺'Humans perceive five tastes - sweet, bitter, salty, sour, and umami (brothy) - and an almost infinite number of smells. Eighty to ninety percent of the sensory experience is olfaction [smell]. ✺ Never take the ability to smell, taste, or swallow for granted. ✺ 'brachioproctic eroticism' = 'fist-fucking' ✺ To respect the "prison wallet" (rectum). When I need to go, I'm going. I don't want to be constipated. ✺ Never insert an object rectally unless I'm will to lose it up in there.
Well, Roach has covered the three basics of animal biology: feeding, sex, and death. Her witty approach to her subject matter helps the medicine go down, as it were. She makes learning fun by breaking things down into easily digestible bites (puns intended), though there are a few less interesting bits. I wonder what she'll cover next.
*Many thanks to the publisher for the e-ARC in return for an honest review....more
Refreshingly not politically correct. Loved the comic strips which rendered perfectly well on my Kindle. I was most interested in the Scottish historyRefreshingly not politically correct. Loved the comic strips which rendered perfectly well on my Kindle. I was most interested in the Scottish history (e.g. Jacobite Rebellion) and the personal hygiene and fashion of the period. Had I still been a child I'm sure I'd have given this 5 stars. The only one I read and enjoyed back then was The Vile Victorians....more