If you read only one blog full of ranting and raving about sports (local and otherwise), movies, TV shows, miscellaneous pop culture, life and other assorted flotsam and jetsam, make it this one!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Update on #Cancer: Battle Nears An End

(Again, if you spot typos let me know.)

Sooo...this is where we stood at the time of the previous cancer update: I went back on the Avastin (the chemo that was stopped due to the swelling in my feet and legs as well as the protein in my urine). I had two treatments, on 9/7 and 9/14. At the time I decided, after doing some reading, to take a magnesium supplement to try to limit swelling. Don't think it had any affect other than making me pee even more than I was.

Today I saw my chemo oncologist. The swelling has returned. The tests on my urine show the protein leaking into my urine again. So we're stopping the Avastin.
Meanwhile, I am having increasing difficulties with walking and using my lest hand for...well, anything...I've had a few falls. which were mostly embarrassing. But in the last two days I fell outside, in basically the same spot: near my mailbox. Yesterday I got lucky because I didn't have my phone on hand, but a couple of neighbors eventually came outside and helped me up. But my side is kinda sore and really, really bruised. Today's fall left me bleeding from my knee and elbow, and happened even while using my walker (clearly I haven't mastered the use of this device). My sister-in-law had arrived to take me to the doctor. One of the same neighbors who aided me yesterday happened to come outside again. I called my brother who works close by. He was here quickly. And then the mail carrier arrived as well and helped. "This isn't in your job description," I told him.

In talking with the doctor after the decision to discontinue the Avastin, the only option he could offer to continue trying to treat the tumor was a chemo in pill form, which was actually a standard method of treatment for glioblastoma before they started using Temodar and Avastin (both of which were unsuccessful in my case).

The doctor left me and my sister-in-law alone to talk. We both broke into tears (I'd like to point out that this was the first time in this whole thing that I cried. And that it's happened a couple more times since.)

So I made the decsion to end all further treatment on the tumor. The doctor said there's no way to give me a specific prognosis as to how much time I have. Just basing it on averages of other glioblastoma cases he offered a guess of six months.

Plans were previously made for me to move in with my brother Steve and his family. They have an extra room in their house that is almost like an apartment so I feel I'll be comfortable. They are getting things set up and the hope is the move will take place this weekend. I don't have to move much immediately -- mainly clothing and some things I may need immediately.  The rest of the contents of the house I can take some time sorting (what to keep/donate/trash) as my cousin, who is buying my house as is and will renovate it and eventually move in, is giving me as much time as need.

 I am also slated to speak to someone from hospice care, although at this point I'm functioning well enough (hard to beieve but it's true) that I won't need, say, nurse's visits on a regular basis. I think we'll be talking about equipment I can get (such as a wheelchair?)

(BTW the Duke University clinical trial was a no-go.)

I know this is bad news and a lot to process. But the good news is I still have my right hand for  one-handed typing (minds out of the gutter) and my mind stilll works. So I intend to blog, tweet and complain about your behavior on Facebook for as long as I can.

Friday, September 23, 2016

My Sports Tees And Miscellaneous Caps, Part Last!

...I should add an asterisk to that title. I may have pics of every last tee and cap I currently, but I may be getting rid of some soon because of how they've aged over the years (sweat stains, etc.) or just to make more closet space -- but at the same time I'll buy new stuff. In fact, a t-shirt is already being shipped as we speak. So there may be an update here and there.

Or maybe I'll just post them on Instagram.

P.S. Some of these pics aren't so great due to the lighting and the current difficulties in my left hand which make it tough to hold the camera steady...and fold the clothes so they look pretty.

Oh, this is one of my absolute favorites! The 2007 NL East Comeback/Collapse!

An example of the lighting messing with the colors..

Gotta love giveaway tees with giveaway advertising...

Meanwhile, which of these is NOT an official locker room edition?

Wait, I actually went to a 76ers playoff game? In THIS century???

From the night the AHL Phamtoms won the Calder Cup -- with the NHL lockout for the entire season this is all we had, and over 20,000 poured into the Wachovia or whatever bank had the name on the building..

And we conclude with my remaining Flyers garments...

More playoff giveaway with more giveaway ads.. 

At least this sponsor's slogan sort of fit...

And the one below came from Game 6 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals (with Tampa Bay up 3-2 in the series)..This was the GREATEST HOCKEY GAME I HAVE EVER SEEN, IN PERSON OR ON TV, including the two Stanley Cup clinchers and the game vs. the Russians in the 1970s. Keith Primeau at his finest. Jeremy Roenick. Simon Gagne. And I was just a few rows from the OT game-winner.

By the way, what idiot uploads video of an incredibly dramatic game from 2004 -- and puts an Ed Sheeran song from 2 years ago on it???? What a dumbass!

Finally, jersey time!

Both conferences had very cool, retro designs for the 2004 All-Star Game. The pic doesn't show the lace-up front too well.

The first of the three that I bought belongs to the Flyers' newest inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Movie Catching Up, Part Three

And now to begin the home stretch of my movie catching up!
Star Trek Beyond is the latest installment of the recent reboot. The Enterprise is heading for a starbase to restock supplies; meanwhile, Captain Kirk is having doubts as to whether he wants to continue on the ship's five-year mission. The ship is dispatched to respond to a rescue signal when it is ambushed by a villain named Krall. Despite some decent action sequences it seems like a flimsy plot. I've read a couple comments that compare it to a TV series episode. I don't think I would go that far but it seems like a standard plot for Star Trek.

Probably the most notable thing about it isn't part of the plot but the revelation that Sulu has a husband and family. It's a nod to the openly gay George Takei, the original Sulu, but he was not pleased, because he wanted a new gay character, not changing the orientation of one of the established ones. My grade: C.

War Dogs is based on a true story  (with embellishments, I'm sure), David (Miles Teller) is laboring away in 2005 as a massage therapist as well as a failed venture to sell high-quality bedsheets to nursing homes. At a funeral he reconnects with a high school friend, Efraim (Jonah Hill), who offers David a job at his new venture, buying arms and reselling them to the US Government during the Iraq War. David's learns his girlfriend is pregnant. The couple are both anti-war but David takes the job anyway. lying to her about his "business trips" (soon the guys are in the Middle East running guns to fill their orders) and his sudden income increase.

Both leads are appealing, though Hill often finishes a sentence with a laugh that's painful to hear. The "lying to girlfriend" angle is stale and the plot seems too far-fetched for a "true " story. My grade: C-plus.

And then there's Sausage Party, an animated movie for adults (very deserving of the R rating) which actually has an interesting premise. Inside a supermarket, all the products for sale worship people as their gods. They believe when they're "chosen" (i.e. purchased) they go to the "great beyond." Some items, though, are nonbelievers, non-perishables who claim to have returned from the great beyond and seen the horrible truth.

A sausage named Frank (Seth Rogen) and his girlfriend Brenda, a hot dog bun (Kristen Wiig) are happy to be chosen despite being warned by a nonbeliever. A mishap causes their packages to be left behind, unfortunately. Frank decides to journey to the liquor aisle because a bottle of liquor named Firewater is said to be an expert about the reality of the great beyond.

Oh, did I mention that Firewater is a Native American?

And here's the problem. Whatever statements the filmmakers (cowritten and coproduced by Rogen) are making -- about religion and beliefs and how they can divide us -- are completely overwhelmed by the "humor." Stereotypical humor (see: Firewater; a lesbian taco, and bickering bagel and lavash). Scatological humor. Sexual humor (ha ha, look at the giant orgy! Look at the douche, name of Douche, unload his product into the...I've said enough.) I think I actually laughed out loud twice, and that doesn't cut the mustard. My grade: D-minus.

That's all the movies I've seen in the theater. But I'm not done. I recently watched some movies On Demand and I've decided to write about those as well. Stay tuned!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Movie Catching Up, Part Two

Welcome back to the return of regular blog posts! Hmmmm...well, that may be asking for a bit much, but at least I'm getting these movies out of the way. After this I have three more that I saw in theaters and two more via On Demand.

So Jason Bourne came out of hiding. Just skipping over whaterver happened in the Matt Damon-less C-less "Bourne Legacy," this sequel finds him in hiding but recovered from his amnesia. What brings him back this time? He's contacted by the former CIA operative (Julia Stiles) who helped him in the past and is now also on the run. Through computer hacking she's discovered files about how Bourne became part of the program that turned him into a killing machine -- and it involves his father. Soon they're both being hunted by CIA assassins. The action sequences are what you'd expect, but the film gets bogged down a bit by a subplot involving privacy rights and a secret deal in which the CIA is funding a social media venture to use it to spy on everyone. My grade: B.

Suicide Squad is one DC comic book that I've never been interested in, and in the wake of the film that hasn't changed. The premise: government operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assembles a team of imprisoned villains, either wiith special skills (Deadshot, Will Smith), metahuman powers (El Diablo, Jay Herndandez), or just plain psycho (Harley Quinn, Margot Robbie), who are coerced to participate The team's job is to do whatever it takes should someone like, say, Superman (currently still dead in the movies) decided to destroy the planet. Soon there is such a threat and the "team" is sent into action. But secrets and lies threaten everything.

Having Harley Quinn in the mix led to adding the Joker, and there are a couple of cameos by Ben Affleck's Batman. (Meaning all of this takes in the DC movieverse DC Extended Universe alongside Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, etc.) And Jared Leto's Joker is awful, annoying in every scene in which he appears. Oh, Heath Ledger, why did you have to die?

And too many of the Squad members leave no impression as characters. They're just along for the ride or to serve to move the plot a bit. Fortunately, Robbie's Harley Quinn is a live wire, and Amanda Waller proves to be a total badass -- a term that fits Viola Davis as well. And a scene inserted into the credits makes me glad she's part of the DC movieverse DC Extended Universe. My grade: C.

P.S. I suddenly want to go see it again.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Movie Catching Up, Part One

I 've been so behind on this because of my current life circumstances, but I am determined to get back on track. At least the older films are on Blu-ray or DVD or On Demand. (I decided to split this into multiple posts, BTW.)

Central Intelligence stars Kevin Hart, who's in pretty much every movie now, and Dwayne Johnson, who's also in pretty much every movie now. It starts with a flashback to high school. Hart is the BMOC with a bright future and comes to the rescue of the nerdy Johnson (in a fat suit) after a bullying incident. (By this way, am I detecting a trend of movies inserting messages and life lessons and such? I mentioned it in my comments on Zootopia.) Cut to a few yars later and Hart hasn't soared, working as an accountant. One day the Rock -- still nerdy but now buff -- shows up at Hart's workplace, claiming to be a CIA agent, needing Hart's accounting skills to prevent a terrorist attack. The plot is confusing/preposterous but the leads are fun. My grade: B.

It took almost as long as Pixar to make a sequel to Finding Nemo as it took me to get around to writing this post. Finding Dory focuses on the blue tang (again voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) with short-term memory loss. But Dory begins to remember brief snippets of her childhood and getting separated from her parents. She sets off to find them, and soon Nemo and his father Marlin are on her trail. Despite some new characters it's kind of a retread -- but wait! This film has a message too.This one's about the challenges faced by parents raising a special needs child. If you're dealing with this you may particularly identify with tjhe flashbacks to Dory's parents. My grade: B.

The first trailer for The Secret Life of Pets made me want to see it. It didn't reveal any plot details, though. It opens in a Manhattan apattment building as various pet owners say goodbye to their pets as they go off to work, etc., after which all the pets hang out together. Then one woman, owner of a Jack Russell Terrier named Jack, adopts a big dog named Duke from the pound. The two clash (jealousy issues) and that leads to misadventures on the mean streets (and sewers) of NYC. Kevin Hart (told you, he's in everything) voices the leader of a gang of abandoned pets. He's an angry...white fluffy bunny. Ultimately, despite some funny bits, it was kinda meh. My grade: C-minus.

Next are a couple of raunchy comedies (this first one more so). Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates -- the title explains the basic plot: brothers Adam Devine (starting to approach Hart/Rock status) and Zac Efron manage to wreck every big family gathering with their partying antics. Their parents order them to behave and bring respectable dates to their sister's upcoming wedding in Hawaii. A Craigslist ad leads to a TV appearance, which leads to two friends  (Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza) who are definitely not very respectable, but they fake it to get the free trip to the wedding. Hijinks ensue. Lots of R-rated sexual content but later comes some sweet and romantic moments as well as feelings begin to develop between characters. It was not as bad as I expected going in. My grade: C-plus.

The Bad Moms in this one are considered "bad" for different reasons by different characters. For example, Amy (Mila Kunis) is overwhelmed by her job, her two kids and her PTA duties, especially when she throws her husband out of the house for online cheating (which potentially could lead to some sexytime of her own with a hunky widowed father.) One day she breaks, letting her kids fend for themselves and quitting the PTA, making an enemy in its dominating president (Christiana Applegate). Amy fights back with the help of two more "bad" moms (Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn). And believe it or not I found a message -- about modern-day parenting and the way society has affected it. Kids are often overloaded with activities to get into better schools or pad their records for college, often stressing them out as well as their well-meaning parents. Come on, people, we all need down time! My grade: B.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The State of Pitching

OMG, a post about sports!!!!

MLB needs to hold a summit meeting in the off-season to discuss the state of pitching, particularly starters. I got this idea after hearing the news about Stephen Strasburg's latest injury.

 I've never seen a season where there were so many early exits, skipped starts, innings limit issues, pitchers shut down for the season, multiple times on the disabled list, etc. This has led to what seems to be an endless stream of pitchers called up to make their major league debuts...and then shortly after that they're on the DL as well.

Baseball has a lot of problems, but this is a crisis to me. They need to evaluate their training and workout programs as well as how they handle pitch counts and innings limits (face it, not only did the Nationals screw up their playoff hopes in 2012 with how they handled their end-of-season Strasburg shutdown, the last two seasons he's been oft-injured.)

What do you think of my idea?

Friday, September 2, 2016

Brief Update on #Cancer Front

When I saw my chemo oncologist on the 26th, he presented me with another treatment option: going back on the Avastin via IV. This was the one that was stopped due to the swelling in my feet and legs as well as the protein in my urine. Since all the subsequent tests on the kidneys turned out fine, and the Avastin seemed to have the most success in slowing the progression of the cancer cells, the doctor felt it was worth a try. So I had my first biweekly IV Wednesday. If the swelling returns and I'm taken off the Avastin again, well, I honestly don't know what happens then.

I contacted Duke University about their clinical trials, and because I have multiple tumors now, even though the cell groupings are close to each other, I don't qualify for the much-hyped polio virus-turned-cancer cell killer, or any of the other trials, save one. For that one my tumor has to be something called EGFR (Epidermal growth factor receptor) amplified 5 fold. My oncologist is going to check the pathology from my previous surgeries tested to find out my number, though he said the number can change over time. The only way to know the current number is to test a new sample, which would require another surgery, which, as I explained previously, isn't really an option after having two already. So I think this is a long shot at best. If I did somehow get qualified, I'd have to go down to Duke every 2 weeks.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

My Sports Tees And Miscellaneous Caps, Part 7

With all that's going on related to my cancer, things are kinda tough, including with this blog. But last night I finally got a picture of EVERY baseball cap I own! (For now. Some are quite old and have sweat stains so it may be time for them to go, and there's a Phillies cap or two I'd like to buy if they're available/the right price.)

And so I present the final batch of caps...followed by some cool throwback t-shirts I got recently...

OMG! A 76ers cap! And the 1997 Flyers Eastern Conference Championship. That was a fun ride. Until it wasn't. #chokingsituation

Baltimore Orioles giveaway from a game in 2002, some time when I gave money to Human Rights Campaign (something I'll never do again), and from the golden days of Outsports.

These tees are from Shibe Vintage Sports, and I love them! There are a few more I hope to get soon.

Except for the above, which also comes in red for the Vet's other main tenant, so far I've got some long-gone teams...

Note: this pic is from the Shibe website. My pic turned out a brown color(????) The Bell, from something called the World Football League, looked like a success story when they initially drew over 50,000 to JFK Stadium. Turns out they gave most of the tickets away. It killed the team. The WFL soon followed.

The Star were able to play at the Vet because USFL played their games in the spring. And they won a chapmionship! (See, Eagles, it IS possible!) Then this happened. The Stars were forced to move to Baltimore until the league was killed. #NeverTrump

The Blazers played here for one year before moving. They were from the WHA, the league that the NHL eventually took some teams from. Not the Blazers, of course. The NHL did get a team from Edmonton. Had a kid named Gretzky. Whatever happened to him?

Before Oakland, before Kansas City, they were the Philadelphia Athletics. And look at this list of championships won while they were here (before things went sour and they...you get the idea.)

World Series titles: 1910 1911 1913 1929 1930
AL Pennants: 1902 1905 1910 1911 1913 1914 1929 1930 1931

Phillies? Any comment?

The Firebirds were a minor league hockey team that played at the long-gone Civic Center (fun fact: the building's gone but Civic Center Boulevard keeps the name to this day!) I was at their final home game in 1979 before they moved to Syracuse. Someone outside handed out fliers asking fans to chant "Keep the Birds in Philly!" midway through the 2nd period. The result: dead silence. #ByeFelicia

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Not good news on the cancer front

Again, if you see weird typos and such, let me know so I can fix them.

So in my last update I talked about the aftermath of the MRI I had at the end of April. During May I went through a brief round of radiation. I had 10 total treatments that only lasted maybe 10 to 15 minutes each After that I started the next chemo treatment, this medicine being called irinotecan. This was administered via IV (and it took about THREE hours each time) in a regimen spread out over a few weeks. It was done on Wednesdays. First they did it on back-to-back Wednesdays, then they'd skip a week, then they would repeat the process. The day after each second Wed. treatment I got an injection of a medication designed to keep my white blood cell count high.

Luckily, unlike the previous chemo, this one did not cause my legs or feet to swell. In fact, the previous swelling went away thanks to getting off the Avastin as well as changing my diet to reduce my salt intake. However, in the last 2 or 3 weeks or so my diet has very much gone to pot. I've been eating more junk food and red meat so my weight has come up a little bit; also, I think my feet are swelling a little bit so I really have to get control of what I'm eating again. I'm due to see the nephrologist in about 2 weeks. There shouldn't be any issue with my kidneys, though.

Which brings us to my latest MRI on Wednesday. I saw my chemo oncologist Friday. He had the results and they were not good. The area which showed the cancer cells in the last MRI still shows cancer cells. And he said there are more cells growing in kind of a ring pattern around that area.

He spoke to my radiation oncologist, who said they really couldn't do any more radiation because of the two previous rounds of radiation; there's only so much radiation that they can do to the brain, and it doesn't seem to be helping anyway even if they could do more. They also said they feel surgery isn't really an option since I've already had two in that area, though I have the option to a talk to a neurosurgeon about it.

My chemo oncologist said he reached out to Penn Medicine to the doctor I saw previously to see if I qualified for the clinical trial.(By the way, I did not qualify for that particular trial based on my genetic testing.) So he sent her an email to see if there were any other trials going on; he has not heard back from her yet.

He also suggested I should contact Duke University because they have a lot of activity as far as trials for treatments of glioblastoma. CBS News did a report on one a while back that showed great promise. I shared it on Facebook at the time. I don't know if I can get into the trial or any of the logistics as far as how many times/how often would I have to go down there and for how long.

In the meantime my chemo oncologist said there are two more chemo drugs I can try, but they don't have much of a track record for treating glioblastoma. One that seems to be slightly more promising would be in pill form given every six weeks.The other would be given intravenously every 3 weeks. My thought is right now to start on the pill form of the chemo and then try and see what clinical trials are available either here or at Duke in the meantime, but I have to let the doctor know of my decision when I see him on the 26th of this month.

I had a suspicion that it was not going to be good news just because some of my issues have seemed to worsen recently. My left leg has been still kind of weaker, dragging my foot when I walk. The forefinger and thumb on my left hand are still giving me problems: gripping things, typing and holding my phone, getting out of chairs or using a toilet in the restroom --all of this has really become frustrating. To hopefully alleviate of this, my doctor increased the dose on the steriod Decadron (it had been stopped for a while and then I went back on it but at a lower dosage). So incompetent customer service people, Jehovah's Witnesses knocking at the door, ignorant drivers who don't like stopping for pedestrians with the right of way -- get ready for more ROID RAGE!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Quick Review: Ghostbusters

I have to say I was a bit concerned with the social media and other commentary regarding Ghostbusters, the latest franchise reboot, being a bad idea because the Ghostbusters are now women. After all these years Hollywood is still unfair to women, whether it's the type of roles and scripts they're offered or their pay compared to male actors. So I made sure I saw it during opening weekend, and the box office report says it earned $46 million.

And it deserves it, because despite a bit of a slow start to set things up, it's quite funny. The new 'busters (Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones) work well together, and Chris Hemsworth gets to ham it up as their receptionist, hired despite being dumb as a post but pretty to look at. The plot involves a scheme to open a portal to release malevolent spirits and bring on the apocalypse. There's a post-credits scene to set up a sequel, and though I tend to frown on them I want one in this case. If nothing else, it may help shut up the sexist Twitter trolls...no, they're like the cockroaches that will survive nuclear holocaust. My grade: B-plus.

P.S. Classic title song >>>>> New theme song.