Saturday, February 21, 2009

Role Models - Film Review

I went to see this on Wednesday evening. I'd tried to see it last month but it was sold out. Role Models is a gross-out comedy like Knocked up and other similar films. It's mildly entertaining and it features some quality swearing. It's not going to win any Oscars but it will make you smile. Especially if you are 'gay for robots'

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Good television shows about creative people with degenerative neurological disorders

February is cold and I have no money so I've been watching a lot of TV. Given my interest in neurology and comic books I have enjoyed a couple of interesting documentaries.

Last night I watched 'Here's Johnny', a 2008 film about John Hickleton, a comic book artist who has Multiple Sclerosis (MS). In case you don't know, MS is an autoimmune problem where parts of the the nervous system are attacked by the immune system. It's relatively common in the UK and has a range of clinical presentations. It can be mild in some people and very severe in other people. In the past it was untreatable although there are now some more promising therapeutic options.

John Hickleton used to draw Nemesis the Warlock and Judge Dredd (among others) for 2000AD when I was a kid. His art is pretty mental but good. Some of his images, especially those from Nemesis, really stuck in my mind. I missed the first 5 minutes of the film but I think Hickleton was diagnosed with MS in 2001. Much of his disease affects his spinal cord and he has had great difficulties in walking. The documentary covers his life from 2001 to 2007.

Hickleton initially took the diagnosis very badly and threw himself into drink and drugs. He admits that he was very angry and depressed at the time. He starts to experiment with various 'alternative' medications and there are some hilarious moments in the film where he takes a horse laxative (I might be wrong here). Eventually he accepts his diagnosis and he appears to be more comfortable with his life.

Hickleton comes across as energetic and likable. The visual design of the film uses a lot of his comic art and looks great. I strongly advise you to watch this film.

Over the last two weeks I've been watching a documentary about Terry Pratchett who has been diagnosed with posterior cortical atrophy, a variant of Alzheimer's disease, another neurodegenerative disorder. Alzheimer's is less treatable than MS and is a progressive form of dementia. The variant that Pratchett has initially attacks the visual system.

Prachett, who is a highly successful and entertaining writer, has much more money than Hickleton. He has donated lots of money to medical research and has done a great deal to publicise the plight of people with dementia. The documentary follows him as he tours the world looking for a cure. He meets a lot of people who have unusual ideas about how to treat the disease and he seems to assess them in a fairly intelligent manner. Again, I enjoyed this film and I hope a lot of people see it.

For more info

I couldn't find a link for a John Hickleton page but if anyone finds something please let me know.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


Doing some extra work to help with my own personal economic crisis. I need shoes cos the pair that I am wearing appear to leak. I'm also having problems meeting my music buying needs.

It has started to snow outside. I hope it stops soon because I don't want to be trapped in the hospital tonight. If I'm lucky the snow will make people forget that they are sick and keep them away from hospital. I guess that's wishful thinking.

Now that I work in research it's nice to do clinical shifts every so often. It improves my sense of self worth. It makes me feel like a proper doctor. It's good fun too.

Enough pish for now.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The West Wing

Being a sad bastard I spent 50 quid and bought the box set of every episode of the West Wing just after christmas. I then sat and watched it all. That was about six days of my life devoted to a TV series about American politics.

Was it worth it?

Yes, I think it was. I did enjoy the series and some of the characters are great. I think I learned a bit about the American political system and American history. The series is good even if the quality drops a bit at times. The Sopranos, Battlestar Galactica and The Wire are all much, much better but The West Wing is OK.

Would I do it again?

I won't watch all of the West Wing back-to-back again but I might have a Battlestar Galactica marathon at some point. It helped me not spend money for a month which was good and it helped me avoid crap January TV which was a bonus.

Should people watch the West Wing?

Yes, but watch The Sopranos and The Wire first.

Lux Interior - RIP

Lux Interior was the singer in the American garage-punk band the Cramps. The Cramps were never international pop megastars but I liked them. I loved their 'Off the bone' album when I was a teenager.

Lux died aged 62 of a heart condition.