Saturday, February 19, 2022

Pike Vs The Automaton

Oh my god. Rough day yesterday, then I woke after a recuperative 11 hours and 18 minutes of sleep (haven't slept like that in over a decade, but my body needed it after yesterday, which I will get to shortly) and find Matt Pike's solo album Pike vs the Automaton has dropped! Three songs in, and I love this. I mean, out of the first three tracks, it was tough to decide which one I wanted to post: "Abusive" opens the record, and I loved it the second I heard those opening chords. Track 3, "Trapped in a Midcave" opens with such a throwback to The Art of Self Defense era High on Fire it seemed the natural choice, but in the end, how do you not post the track named "Throat Cobra". Shit, what a great Friday already!


First, I LOVE that HBO has titled the second season of their SciFi/Body Horror show Raised By Wolves, Raised By Wolves 2. Episode 4 dropped last night, and as with the previous three and all of season one, I am repeatedly left scratching my head at where any of this is going - in the best possible way. There is NOTHING like this show, and I find there is no way to estimate where any of the plot threads are going, where the beats are landing, or to what lengths it will go to get stranger and more Horrific in a very Ridley Scott's Alien kind of way.

I'm going to go ahead and post the full first episode here - courtesy of HBO's youtube channel. 

If you've not seen it, this one is definitely worth your time. And if you dig it but don't have HBO Max, I can assure you, if Raised By Wolves isn't enough to justify the cost of a few months subscription price, then the Turner Movie Classic suburb of the app more than makes it worthwhile. 


I saw this on Ghost's youtube channel, called and received a cool little message that included this picture. 

I feel like Ghost is going back to their old-school weird, counter-intuitive approach to marketing, and I like it.


Pearl Jam - Vs. *
Justin Timberlake - Justified
The Dillinger Escape Plan - Plagarism EP
The Dillinger Escape Plan - Ire Works
Alice in Chains - Eponymous
Urge Overkill - Saturation
Urge Overkill - Oui
Pike Vs the Automaton
Tricky - Maxinquaye
Burial - Antidawn
Beach House - Once Twice Melody 


* I still get a chill everytime I listen to the opening track on Pearl Jam's second record, "Go." I've never been a huge fan of the band or even this particular album - Ten is spotless start to finish, Vs has its ups and downs for me, although I love more of it than I don't. But the energy in this opening track and the emotional charge to Eddie Vedder's vocals is powerful stuff, mate.


One of the things I love about the High Priestess, and this Raven Tarot High Priestess my friend Missi made me, is the inclusion of Joachim and Boaz, the two pillars from King Solomon's temple. They represent Love and Understanding, Knowledge from unifying the two. When I look at this card, I see the Kabballahistic tree of life between the two pillars, and the High Priestess sitting in front of the image, occluding several of the sephiroth. Not just any sephiroth, either. She is blocking the lower spheres of perception, making it difficult to discern the path from where we are, to those higher planes of consciousness at the summit of the tree. This card, then, often reminds me that although the path to my intended goal is unclear, unifying disparate information, or simply acting out of love and understanding, will reveal the path I need to take. This is especially pertinent at the moment. The 'rough day' I referenced above - now two days behind me as I type this final part of this post - involved a failed biopsy on my right lung. Long and the short of it is, I have had a condition known as sarcoidosis for several years now. Actually, probably more like a decade +, it just took the doctors a bit to figure out what it was. Sarcodosis is a chronic inflammation disease, and not necessarily as troublesome as the word disease implies. However, it's something you keep tabs on. So every 6 months or so, I go in for CT scans so my Pulminologist can track the amount of difference between my pulmonary inflammation - has it increased or decreased. At one point, they tried treating it with the steroid prednisone, however, that produced a side effect that gave me terrifyingly blurred vision, thus, my doctors promptly removed me from the treatment. 

During the pandemic, I did not see my Pulminologist. Also, I'm a typical male in the respect that I hate going to the doctor and following up on this type of shit. Whatever. I have already excepted that this is probably what will eventually kill me. Fine - let's just push that off as far as possible, right? 

Anyway, this past October I went in for my first CT scan since May 2019, and in reviewing the images, my doctor saw a 1cmm shape that, "may be nothing, but let's be sure."

Yes doc. Let's be sure.

So a biopsy is ordered. Or it was supposed to be. November came and went and I never heard from the doc's office. We moved into December and I figured now it's the holidays, so I'll wait until January. Come the first week or so of 2022, I start calling to talk to someone.

I cannot get through. At some points, there's not even an answering service on the line, it just rings and rings. I start to fear the doctor has died or retired or something. Then I get a phone tree, and am able to leave  message. 

I never hear back.

Okay, what the absolute fuck, right? Finally, about three weeks ago, I finally get someone. They transfer me to an amazing woman in booking that is mortified at my experience when I describe it to her. She sets out to book the biopsy as soon as possible, does, and I go in this past Thursday. Only, the little fucker they need to access - via a 26cm needle inserted through my back into my lung - is behind a fucking rib. We spend a great deal of time practicing various combinations of my holding my breath, exhaling, etc, all to try and get the doctor performing the procedure a shot at accessing the spot in question. During this, my right lung begins to collapse. 

Needless to say, that's where we stop. 

I spend the better part of that day in the hospital on oxygen, having X-Rays every two hours to make sure my lung is reinflating on its own. 

It is. 

During this time, I have nothing to occupy my time, so I spend six or seven hours basically meditating; practicing very specific, purposeful deep breathing. I figure it's good for me all around, and should hopefully help my lung regain its proper shape. I am trepidatiously discharged that evening. I'm in pain and still somewhat short of breath, but I'm markedly better. I watch episode of Raised By Wolves 2, then turn over and go to bed at about 7:00 PM. I sleep 11 hours and 18 minutes and wake up feeling great. The pain in my back, side and chest that came from the inserting part of the procedure is reduced by about 60%. My breathing feels better still. I go in at 9:00 AM for another X-Ray and talk to the doc afterward. The lung is still partially collapsed, but I have a follow-up with my Pulmonologist on Monday and we will decide how to proceed. 

Which brings me back to the High Priestess. 

This has, as I feared it might, paused our move. Not for long, but the path to our goal has become obscured. I have to figure out how to get a sample of this damn thing, and I'm pretty sure it's going to require being put under and attached to a machine that can breathe for me. Not a fan of this idea, however, if it will provide the results, it has to be done. I already know the other option is, since this might be nothing, to wait and see if it gets bigger, which would be alarming but would also, in theory, make it easier for them to get a sample. Not sure I want to wait, though, especially because once we move, I'm fairly certain I will be switching to a PPO insurance plan, which traditionally includes more out of pocket expenses. 

But I want to charge forward, cut a path through to the results I want as fast as I want them, because I want out of this fucking state. I want to be closer to my friends and family in Chicago, and I want to get away from the place where liberals act exactly like conservatives, and ubran expansion continues unchecked into realms that will absolutely damage the infrastructure of the city and, consequently, its inhabitants' lives. Elected officials in most states suck, but California - and LaLaLand in particular - is off the fucking charts. I need calm, less traffic, and some semblance of sanity.


Tommy said...

Hey man, hope everything goes well with the doctor. Thinking of you here in Texas.

Shawn C. Baker said...

Thanks Tommy. Seeing this (finally) made my night.