Saturday, June 30, 2012

Murphy San ミッスタ ー マーフィー

ミッスタ ー マーフィー

I host a monthly Meetup Group, Sushi.Boston, with over 80 members and this past Thursday was a special event at Stephanie's house in honor of the companions we have recently lost.  

On the menu was a Lily blossom - a tempura onion (like an Awesome blossom) with sushi rice, spicy ranch and a pan seared scallop on top.  The inspiration for this dish was when, we first met her on a walk at Shelby Forest in Memphis, I picked a water lily blossom for her.  Lily passed away last week after a long battle with cancer.  

Next on the menu was Sunny Side.  Whenever I make sushi I'm always thinking about different ways of doing things.  We lost Sunny last week as well and aside from her beautiful spirit, her most striking feature was two different colored eyes.  So in honor of her, I made a Hamachi (Yellowtail) and Maguro (Bluefin) sushi with a single cucumber spear and a Wasabi rice cracker with tobiko on top.  

And since it was also the anniversary of my boy's passing last week, on the menu was Murphy san sushi sammich - pictured top and left.  Many of you know about his notorious sammich from previous posts.  I topped a near burnt tortilla brushed with hot chili oil with red scallions, tobiko filled avocados, cucumbers, and tuna dressed with my special spicy soy sesame mayo sauce, a recipe that would've made him proud.  

From my limited understanding of the Japanese culture, they try to balance beauty and sadness in everything they do.  It feels like lifetimes ago when I wrote a blog when Murphy was still with us (LINK) about an untranslatable expression 'Mono no aware'.  

Even, after my darkest hours have receded, it guides me still.  

Dividing By Zero

I was attempting to consolidate my blogs on last week and in the process I deleted myself from them which in any normal, rational, logical world would be seemingly impossible.  Since, after all, I started the blogs in the first place. 

And yet I found myself in an insane version of Descartes theorem 'Cogito Ergo Sum'. In reverse and in binary.  

How can one delete their own thoughts? And yet I almost did.  And the scary thing is four years of this our story were almost tragically lost.  

Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for technology and it sometimes serves a purpose.  But does it truly serve our purpose?

I could write an entire book about how many times I tried to use Twitter to keep everyone involved   and informed on our walk from Austin to Boston but it failed almost everytime.  Granted it was a relatively new technology in 2009 but, for example, when we were trying to build excitement for crossing the Purple People Bridge into Cincinnati, I'd been uploading photos leading up to it that didn't even get posted until hours after the event and in reverse order. 

This isn't just a Twitter rant - it's regrettable that all new technology companies think they can come up with the next novel idea, give it away for free, and take it viral.  And when and if it does they offer no support to the users as once they've duped you into using it their money comes from advertisers even though the ad dollars are based on you.  

It's a failed model and to prove it to yourself - take out your iPhone, open up the calculator app and divide any number by zero.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Murphy's Memorial Video

This Memorial video honoring the first anniversary of Murphy's passing I'm reposting for a few reasons.  When I first posted the link I couldn't type anything other than the link because I couldn't see through my tears.  

The director of this video, Deana Wehr, who we were destined to meet walking through Bowling Green KY, the city of the White Squirrel, did such a beautiful job of portraying my boy.  Her artistry and passion for animals are an inspiration.  Please take a moment out of your day to thank her for this video.    

I've had a lot of questions about the song choices.  

1.  I have a long, long history with Gulf Coast Highway the duet of Emmylou Harris and Willy Nelson and it was trail magic and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream of mine that our paths would cross with her one day.  And that she spent an afternoon with Murphy, it was written in the sands of time.

2. Hudson's always been the hugger and dancer that Murphy never was.  There's an Ellen DeG story in there somewhere, but on 'Dance' night at Mommy G's house shortly before he was given rest it was all about Murphy.  She played this song by Garth Brooks and as soon she and Hudson took to the dance floor Murphy cut in.  It was his night.  

I'd never heard that song before nor had Mommy G and it came for us from Michelle and Ramsey on the night I posted on facebook the question of when you go what song will you go to.  

3. Wynonna wasn't an easy choice for the final track.  Heck another country song was the last thing I wanted cause it'd be too obvious given my Texas roots.  But I sang this song to Malcolm twice - before limb amputation and on the way to his final rest.  That Murphy was my last living connection to Malcolm it couldn't have been more fitting.  

Postscript:  out of the tens of thousands of photos of Murphy it was exceedingly tough to select only 150 for the video.  Disinclusion was harder still and I apologize for those who were.  The pics are in the archives and not forgotten.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

This Our Story

When we were still walking through Texas there was a journalist of national repute who wanted to help tell our story.  It would have been an auspicious opportunity but at a cost of thousands of dollars per month in consulting fees and with only a couple of hundred bucks in my pocket at the time, it wasn't tenable so I figured we'd just have to bide our time. 

Four years later, there have been countless other offers to tell this tale that in of themselves could justify a book alone.  

After the final mile I headed out to Colorado Springs to work with Ed on the book. It was supposed to be simple. Man loses dog to cancer. Man and 2 dogs defy odds and walk 2300 miles over 826 days.  That was the story. 

But I was soon to learn that that was only Chapter One.  

Even still, Ed and I worked tirelessy on a book proposal.  Christian publishing houses were all over the story because it was alot about my own personal struggle with faith and belief in God.  But they didn't like my, umm, use of descriptive language.  Like F*ck Cancer.  And Chapter titles like 'Arc Goddamnit' when I danced around a campfire naked outside of Hancock MD (oddly ironic, the town name, now that I think about it). Or my euphemism for when we were in a pickle. Pickle.   

It became clear the Christian market was no place for our saga as there was no way I was going to compromise it or sanitize it for them.    

So we presented the manuscript to other publishing houses with understandably mixed results.  Though their initial rejections were heartbreaking, I didn't need them to tell me something I already knew.  It was unfinished.  I knew that the moment Murphy was diagnosed.     

Even though our manuscript got turned down and 2011 saw multi-million dollar book deals for Snooki and Sarah Palin's kid and the sort, it's what had to happen.

The three act play is ingrained in human nature from Shakespeare to Puccini to Aaron Sorkin.  I could've gotten a ghost writer to tell this story but then it wouldn't have been ours.  It'd been reduced down to a simple formula, packaged, and sold off cheaply.  That is something I can never permit.

But I've bided my time and learned a few things along the way.  How you tell a story is as important as the story itself.  And I've learned that I can no longer tell it by myself.  

So in three weeks time, Tish is moving to Boston and giving up a year of her life to help me tell this, our story. And tell it right.  

Inflection Point

For the first time in a long time, I had a really good day Friday, on Murphy's Day. Walking the final mile again; the beauty of Back Bay Fens and the Emerald Necklace, walking through the Rose and Victory Gardens, down Commonwealth Ave to the Common, it felt so good.  

Then afterwards we went up to Essex for fried seafood and clam cakes at Woodman's with the kids. Murphy was always a passionate eater - he would've been proud.  Later that nite when it was just me and my thoughts I thought I'd write a serious and deeply reflective blog but instead I kept watching that Three Amigos clip and laughing. 

In differential calculus, an inflection point is a point on a curve at which the curvature or concavity changes sign from plus to minus or from minus to plus.

I do not know yet whether it was that so many monumental events took place last week and that put things into perspective or I've finally taken the turn since losing Murphy.  Time will tell.

What I do know is that I found my voice again.  There have been fits and starts, moments of profound sadness and then extreme exaltation and all of the silence in between.  

Heh.  If you look at my dashboard here I have as many drafts, perhaps more, on this blog as I do posts. 

A lot of you have asked, 'Why haven't you published your book yet?' and that's a fair question that I'll answer in my next blog.

For now, I'm just deeply grateful.  For Malcolm. For Murphy. For the Mission.  For Fuzzybutts 3 and 4. For being blessed with our adventures past and future. And for you for having the courage to keep the Faith.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

In Famous

This past week we saw Indy's birthday party on the 16th, Father's Day on the 17th, the 2nd anniversary of the Final Mile in Boston on the 19th, the Toyota competition on the 20th, and today one year since Murphy was given rest.  

What an exhausting roller coaster of emotions week it's been.  

But will it be remembered as infamous or in famous? Reminds me of a scene from the Three Amigos.  

I started to write a serious blog tonite but I don't think he really wanted me to.  Murphy never took things too seriously (xcpt for food and pyr paw and snuggle snuggles). 

Like the DH Lawrence poem, Murphy was a wild thing, never sorry for himself.  

That we didn't win the Toyota competition was disappointing but we've crossed this bridge before countless of times on our travels.  Having faith is momentary.  Keeping it isn't.  

The Summer of Murphy Tour starts in September and as it stands will include the following states: Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

In the spirit of Murphy, it'll be a celebratory tour thanking all of our supporters, making new friends, and showing the world that cancer will never keep us down.  There's much much more in store and we'll post exact dates and cities in the coming weeks.

Maybe we should call it Murphy's In Famous Tour?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

We Got Beat

Team Fuzzybutt lost the 100 Cars for Good competition and I'd like to share a few thoughts about the experience.  

1. Thank you to all of our friends and supporters who took extraordinary efforts to take us over the top and that we didn't reach it is by no means a loss.  All of us who have been touched by cancer have been beat down but we learn to get up again and fight so long as god may grant us the strength to do so.  

2. I want to thank Toyota for their tremendous and generous philanthropic program.  They are a thought leader for other corporations around the world to emulate and to show how to step up to help small non-profits who are trying to make a difference.  

3. Our warmest congratulations go out to the Central Aroostook Humane Society on winning the competition.  Since I have volunteered at dozens of animal shelters on our travels I have witnessed first hand the rampant problem of pet overpopulation and abuse. However...

4.  As well planned and orchestrated the competition was, it's unfortunate that Toyota pitted our two organizations against each other.  They say that a couple of million dogs are euthanized every year due to owner neglect but at least twice that are diagnosed with cancer.  But statistics don't matter.  We share a common enemy. 

2 Million Dogs recently funded a $50,000 study that took mammary tumors from shelter dogs at the University of Pennsylvania to analyze their DNA and try and understand how breast cancer metastasizes in women.  

It's a model that speaks to the fact that our mission and that of humane societies across the country are not mutually exclusive and I hope we can all do a better job of collaborating against the worst epidemic facing companion animals and people.  

5. Although I'm licking my wounds - and the fuzzybutts are just licking themselves - in the interest of good sportsmanship, I'll be sending Aroostook a picture of Murphy, after whom the Toyota was to be named. Use it well.  

6.  Now, I've gotta go.  I have a Dachshund to kill, make Indy eat a rat, and plan for Murphy's 1 year tomorrow. 

Cancer Can't Keep a Good Dog Down 

Keep the Faith & Puppy Up!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Father's Fathers Day Wish

Late December 2010 when it became evident that Murphy's initial course of radiation had not only failed but a new tumor, a sarcoma, had developed I knew his time was running out.  And even though I made the hard decision for a radical second round of radiation, my mind was already planning one final farewell tour:  To the cities we had not walked through and for those who hadn't met Murphy and witnessed his indomitable spirit.  

The handful of my confidants, who were in on the early discussions about the tour, were resoundingly against it for they feared the stress would compromise his already battered body.  Although I fought fiercely for it, within a few weeks his health deteriorated and I knew they were right and the tour was canceled.  

Almost equally painful than resigning yourself to the inevitability of losing your child and the absolute sense of helplessness was the sad realization that Murphy would never directly touch lives like the thousands he had on our walk.  

I saved this blog for Father's Day because as a father you do everything you can to save the life of your child and when that fails you do everything you can to carry their memory and beauty forward.  

On the eve of the first anniversary of his passing, we have the possibility of fulfilling that dream.  We are planning a 20 city Summer of Murphy tour and the Toyota 100 Cars for Good has given us the chance to realize it.  

The Murphy Mobile, as it will be christened, will be a beacon of hope and belief at every stop it makes for everyone and anyone who has been touched by cancer.  It'll be both a place of celebration and remembrance and a reminder that our work is not done.  

I wish I could have saved my boy.  I wish I could bring him back.  But I hope and pray I can keep his legacy alive. This is my Father's Day wish.

And to do so, I need your help.  Please vote for 2 Million Dogs to win a Murphy Mobile. Even though voting doesn't begin until 10AM EST on the 20th, right now you can go to, type 2 Million Dogs in the search box and click on 'Remind Me' and an email reminder will be sent to you.

Keep the Faith, Puppy Up, & Happy Father's day.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Indiana's First B-Day Party

When: Saturday 16th 3ish - 5ish

Where: Blue Hills Reservation -  Nahanton Hill Scenic Overlook.  The hike is about 1/2 mile up onto a plateau of rocks that have an awesome sweeping vista of Boston.

I plan on arriving early to grill up some tapas for the picnic.

What to Bring:  I have it on the highest authority that what lil' Indy really needs for his bday is a Sea Ray 350 Sundancer Sports Cruiser with a T-MerCruiser 8.2 MAG ECT Bravo III 375 hp Sterndrive.   

Or 20 bags of Nature's Variety Raw Boost Bite treats, two dozen of their split beef knuckles (for the knucklehead), and a can of worms (just in case).

Or just bring yourself and your puppers for a ton of fun at one of Boston's most stunningly beautiful parks.  If you haven't already RSVP'd - send me an email at  

Weather Contingency:  Looks like it'll be a gorgeous day but in the event of rain, we'll still meet at the Scenic Overlook then take our party to one of the nearby pavilions.  

Friday, June 8, 2012

Jumping Off Cliffs

I was a big fan of Ray Bradbury growing up and his books The Illustrated Man and Fahrenheit 451 influenced me as a precocious and scientifically curious young lad.  I recently learned of his death while listening to NPR and the segment reminded me of how much he believed in the human spirit and our propensity to achieve greatness and goodness.  

It reminded me of one of his most inspirational quotes, "Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down."  It was one of several that would shape my life and instill in me the conviction that an ordinary person could pull off the seemingly impossible.  

What saddens me most, perhaps, about Bradbury's passing is that I fear there's a paucity of successors who will carry his hopes, dreams, and preternatural prescience forward.  

I highly recommend listening to the NPR segment on Bradbury.  And if you don't, I sure as hell hope it's because you're jumping off a cliff...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Reflections of a Colonoscopy

As some of you know I had my first colonoscopy yesterday and although I am only 41, I have a familial history of colon cancer and early screening can often determine the difference between life and death.  Colorectal cancer ranks second or third in total annual cancer related deaths in the U.S depending on the source and it's very serious.

This blog isn't.

But it's a blow-by-blow (please pardon all puns herein - intended or otherwise) account of my experience.

May 31 2012. 7 PM.  Magnesium Citrate first dose.  The protocol for the procedure at the Endoscopy center where it was conducted called for two - 15 ounce doses one the day prior and one the morning of.  The label of the 'MagC' as it's commonly known as, says it's a 'Pasteurized Sparkling Saline Laxative'.

I want to personally meet the marketing knucklehead who came up with that tag line.  It's as though they wanted me to envision myself enjoying a glass of Pouilly Fuisse on the Champs Elysees.  The bottle actually has a pic of a lemon on it.

I wouldn't criticize said marketing knucklehead for irresponsible labeling or anything of that sort.  Rather they've missed a unique opportunity to cross-brand or strategerize a marketing synergy or whatever.  Think of a vodka based cocktail:

Magnesium Citratini.  Nip and Purge.  No doubt any one of the other desperate real housewives who like to get drunk and lose weight at the same time will pounce on this opportunity.

JELLO. The only 'solid' food I could have the day prior and I kept hearing Bill Cosby saying "If you have a colon, the first thing you need to do is eat JELLO".  Oh Jeez, it's going to be a long night.

June 1 2012. 1 AM - 2 AM.  Sleep.  "When I woke up this morning my girlfriend asked me, 'Did you sleep good?' I said 'No, I made a few mistakes'." - Steven Wright.  

An hour's sleep is all I got prior to the procedure and it wasn't restful.  It was like I was caught in a collaborative short film by Woody Allen and Tim Burton.  I dreamt I was running through a cheap looking rubbery synthetic colon lined with attacking polyps.

June 1 2012.  7 AM - 8 AM.  Traffic.  The morning drive from Winthrop to Wellesley was hellacious  and during it I added a new phrase to my medical diction.  "Angry Bowels".

June 1 2012. 9 AM.  The procedure.  Hmm... I won't go there.  

Postscripts 1.  The physician removed a 'suspicious' polyp.  The image I got in my head was a camo-fatigue clad polyp with a Beret sporting a goatee smoking Clove cigarettes.  Course I was hopped up on Fentanyl and Versed at the time.

Postscripts 2.  Casting for a spin off of Jersey Shores has begun now that we have Toomey and Paulie.

Postscripts 3. 'Paulie' is being biopsied but the likelihood of him being malignant (unlike the other Pauly) is minimal since we caught it early.  

Postscripts 4.  Two words - Sympathy sushi.