to Winter

old man winterFebruary 9th, 2014
RE: Cease and desist
Dear Mr. Frost:
This CEASE AND DESIST ORDER is to inform you that your persistent actions including but not limited to forcible confinement, assault causing bodily harm, public incitement of hatred, and any and all meteorology resulting in the near literal severance of the pudendum have become unbearable. You are ORDERED TO STOP such activities immediately as they are being done in violation of any reasonable elemental expectancy.
I have the right to remain free from these activities as they constitute harassment, and I will pursue any remedies available to me against you if these activities continue. These remedies include but are not limited to: discussion ad nauseam of the atmospheric transgressions with anyone in possession of the power of speech, long introspective afternoons questioning my chosen nation of residence, and malicious aggregation and ignition of any and all fossil fuels.
Again, you must IMMEDIATELY STOP all hibernal pursuits and send confirmation that you will stop such activities by way of a decent weekend. You risk incurring some very severe environmental consequences if you fail to comply with this demand (see aforementioned spite fires).
To ensure compliance with this letter, and to halt any action I may take against you, I require you to fill in and sign the attached form and raise the average temperature to at least 5 ºC within 10 days of your receipt of this letter, or St. Patrick’s day at the latest. Failure to do so will act as evidence of your infringement upon my climate rights, and I will immediately be forced to contact a travel agent to remedy the situation.
Sincerely,
E. Nuff

Cereal Spokes-Characters Feel The Pinch

As fewer and fewer people incorporate breakfast cereals as a part of their morning meal, Kellogg’s and General Mills have had to make some tough cuts to their marketing budget. Long time spokes-characters such as Tony the Tiger, Lucky the Leprechaun, and Snap, Crackle and Pop have seen their hours greatly reduced or have been let go entirely.
Tony the Tiger (nee Anthony Felinson) has mixed emotions about the development. “Well I certainly don’t feel ggggreat about it” told reporters when reached at the Felix Gym in Venice where Tony works part-time as a personal trainer. “On one paw I feel guilty for fattening the pudge-os up, but on the other I have created a great client base. At the end of the day, I still get to yell a lot.” Lucky, working in the United States on a conditional visa, now faces deportation back to Ireland if he cannot find work elsewhere. “Sure, I’m grossly under-qualified for any other line of work”, Lucky explained bent over a shot glass of Guinness, “I mean literally, I’m five inches tall”. The trio of Snap, Crackle, and Pop have taken a more upbeat perspective on the development. “It gives us more time to focus on our real passion, music” Crackle explained via Skype. “For so long we have been pigeon-holed into this Saturday morning, kid-friendly, part-of-a-complete-breakfast bullshit”, explained Pop, self-described bad boy of the group, “Shit I’m a grown elf with grown elf problems”. Look for the trio’s new urban inspired album “Gat, Cracker, What!” to drop in March. Perhaps most tragic is story of Trixx. With a long history of substance abuse problems, the downsizing proved too much for troubled rabbit. He was arrested early yesterday at the border in Juarez, Mexico under suspicion of drug smuggling. Sources close to the department say after a full body cavity search police were baffled to find half a kilo of sugary powder lab reports confirm to be a cocktail of high fructose corn syrup and artificial colourings. When asked to comment the defiant Trixx proclaimed what its seems consumers across the country have concluded themselves, “I guess those Trixx aren’t for nobody”.

devising a global utopian systems and other things to do in hotel rooms: thoughts on the jeremy paxman russell brand interview

i have more than once come across those who believe that if you don’t vote you forfeit all claim to political credence. this argument bothers me for similar reasons that it bothers Brand, it reduces all political engagement to a line up at a booth in a high school gym every few years. on a certain level you are exercising a choice, but a choice that been prescribed to a degree that severely mitigates your individual level of expression. a most probably fallacious comparison would be if you arrive at a cinema and ask what’s playing only to have the attendant at the counter responds, “’big momma’s house 4: the quest for peace’, ‘win a date with Tom Berenger’, and ‘the slow and lugubrious’”. dejected and disappointed you return home with your 13.75$ unspent. does this make you some sort of cinephobe? hardly, if anything you most likely hold the medium in high esteem. now, in some nightmare universe where these were the only three movies, ever, and were continually being played, with perhaps a redux released every four years, you might stop going to the movies all together. would that be a sign of your apathy towards the medium or a reflexive response to the content the medium delivers? worse, would others meet your opinion on film with contempt because ‘bm:4’ was not worthy of your consideration? yet when the established political system churns out their set of candidates for our chosing there is the tacit implication that they represent, not only the best, but the entirety of the viable political spectrum. therefore, anything or anyone outside this false spectrum is by definition not politically viable, not in any serious way at least. you are allowed to hate certain players but never the game. any objection of that magnitude is tantamount to poor sportsmanship.
i still believe you should vote. i believe it was Winston Churchill who said, “democracy is the worst form of government, full stop. now if you will excuse me i’m late for a sausage luncheon.” Aristotle believed it to be the lowest form of government, the highest being aristocracy. “why let the needy rule as opposed to the best? too much talk of goats and goat related inequities” he was known to mumble in that place with the pillars. though not perfect, democracy is the best system we have so far. frankly, arguing about alternatives seems a bit academic or at least premature. Brand argues that voting makes you tacitly complicit in the system. is it not possible to vote and also be explicitly against the system? can you not vote for the member of parliament most aligned with your anarchist views and also participate in an anarchist group on the weekends? sure its hypocritical, but you’re a member of an anarchist group for pete’s sake. i believe that hypocrisy is underrated. what it lacks in authenticity it makes up for in sheer efficiency. you really can get so much done. if you want to affect real change as opposed to merely holding the moral high ground of ‘being right’, cognitive dissonance is the only way to go. a useful attitude to adopt is to see voting as one facet of a larger spectrum of political action. it is only when seen as the end all and be all of political participation that voting becomes merely what Brand refers to as a release valve. at worst, casting a ballot ever few years absolves people of any pangs of responsibility that might arise as they watch the state of affairs worsen around them. at worst, it is the sum total of political engagement; at best, the beginning.
the true danger though with the argument that voting is a prerequisite for political credence is that it conflates political power with political authority. the whole thrust of Paxman’s line of question is what qualifies Brand, or gives him the right, to be the guest editor of The New Statesman. in essence, Paxman is asking Brand the rather specious question of ‘do you think you deserve to do this?’. my problem with employing the language of rights is the implicit power structure the language creates. rights are always ‘won’, ‘awarded’, or ‘given’. this must mean that there is something or someone who gives, awards, or deems the winner. the true agency then remains in the hands of this nebulous adjudicator and the recipient of this right merely exercises it at the munificence of those in charge. it is part and parcel of the delusion that the political system is a big family unit. you may be allowed to use dad’s car, but it’s still dad’s car and you are using it merely by his permission. it is not freedom but merely an expanded set of options hemmed in by your father’s judgement. the language of power, on the other hand, is ‘taken’, ‘wielded’, ‘exerted’. think of that visceral feeling of independence you experienced as a teenager. for the first time you were interacting with the world as a separate entity outside the family unit. that moment when you stopped being scared of the older kids who hung out in the park. they always made you nervous because they seemed to be aware of, but not quite under, the authority your parents represented. then one night you realised you were those older kids. though just a taste, that power is so thrilling because it is deeply and intrinsically personal and innate. it is more than an expansion of permission but a realisation that permission is not necessary. the true beauty is that this creative power can be combined with the power of others into ways that often end in things that couldn’t be imagined before you started. at that age it’s usually a bitchin kegger but i’m limited by my choice of analogy. reduce that kinetic adaptive power into something as obsequious as ‘rights’ and you limit that power’s potential. all right, but down that molotov, i shouldn’t have used munificence. the m word always gets people riled up. the point is that the political system is not your dad. don’t wait for someone to give you the right, as Brand put it, just take it.

and just as addendum added for additional amusement:
Brand at one point accuses Paxman of confusing seriousness with solemnity, here’s what John Cleese had to say about it:

 

getting what you deserve and other spells part 2

when we start thinking in terms of deserve we are already up to our collective testicles in fallacious thinking.

the first mistake is to believe we live in a meritocracy. if you still suffer from that delusion i invite you to graduate from high school. worse still is to believe that merit itself is some sort of driving force that permeates and binds the social world together. merit is only an abstract idea, it has no agency of its own. at best merit can be imagined as a form of consensus, at worst a benevolent authority actively reordering causality in our favour.

an illustrative example of this reordering is the just-turned-sixteen-year old stomping their feet in an empty driveway. why hasnt an automobile materialised on their big day? they took all the right steps, namely surviving a hundred and ninety-two months. even though there is no actual causal relationship between age and vehicle ownership, if you believe that once you turn sixteen you deserve a car, you are inferring there is. and you probably also suck. by saying ‘i deserve’ you are appealing to merit as though it was a concrete authority with the ability to intercede in your life and rectify the perceived misallotments. merit has no existence outside of those who have the ability to bestow it. now, your initial response to this might be that the kid just doesnt deserve it. he’s done nothing for it, hasn’t earned it, doesnt need it. its my argument that none of these factors matter.

it is seductive to see merit as an objective, impartial, and consistent agent of equality. wouldnt it be nice if there was some nurturing force out there making sure everyone played nice? but your mom just isnt here bro, stop looking for her. we fool ourselves into thinking that merit operates under fixed and, even more delusional, discernible laws. in other words, we not only believe that life is a fair game but that we have figured out the rules. this perspective is particularly flawed because it fuels the belief that, in order to get what you want, you merely need to design your life in accordance to these laws.

underlying this approach to life is a latent belief that merit behaves like a natural force such as those explained by physics. as the laws of physics binds the physical world together so we believe merit binds the social world. then like an engineer who designs a bridge in compliance with the laws of physics, we plan our own lives guided by our unfounded belief in the laws of merit. as though we ourselves were building a bridge, we approach success as merely a series of necessary steps performed in an prescribed order. we believe that if we live in accordance with the laws of merit our bridge will stand. and then this happens …bridge

the difference is that unlike physics there are no real laws to merit. again, the closest we come is consensus, which by its very nature is in a state of flux, therefore, impossible to codify. the only thing keeping that bridge up is how well its construction obeys the laws of physics. when a bridge collapses it’s not because someone changed the laws of physics when nobody was watching.

yet when some aspect of our own life collapses isnt that how we often respond? as if some immutable law had somehow been transgressed? if we view merit as having the same character as physical laws of nature we react one of two ways. we continue to believe that the world is a fair place and we simply didn’t deserve happiness. we are probably being punished for that time we stole the fat kids three musketeers bar in grade three. how many times do we have to apologize for that? or conversely, we straight up lose our shit. when something unfair happens, we act as baffled as if a steel bridge had spontaneously dissembled and rearranged itself into a giant spire bearing a resemblance to an outstretched middle finger. we act as if the physical laws of nature have been broken. the apple has floated back up to the tree. it defies belief.

or we realise that opinion without power is nothing but a fart in the wind and thats all believing you ‘deserve’ anything is.

getting what you deserve and other spells

french
i assume that most people know the meaning of the word ‘deserve’. if you asked the average punter on the street, their definition would be something along the lines of ‘getting what you should have, having what you should get’. nobody needs a dq blizzard, but after a hot sweaty day in the office, gorgeous, you deserve one. one could also assume that most people hold some concept of how the idea of deserve works; how it shapes the world around them. contrasting legal and political systems differ in how they define what citizens deserve. both the marxist paradise and the american dream could be conceived as promises to ensure what you deserve. one system promised to give to each according to their needs, and take according to their abilities. in practice, a great deal of the time seemed to be spent lining up for baked goods. the other system, i believe, promised cristal and bentleys to anyone who ’embraced the hustle’. in practice, these luxuries were only affordable as baby names. successful group dynamics depend upon a shared definition of deserve. if is a strong scienfictious fact that the most entitled people are the least annoying to converse with at a party. a problem’s importance is directly proportional to the level one can pout about it in front of near strangers; its just math. more individually, our core personal beliefs revolve around the center spoke of deserve. from infancy, like some perpetual i-just-shot-frank-in-the-stomach tony montana, we are surrounded with daily affirmations that ‘the world is ours’. these various manifestations of the concept of deserve are interesting enough to examine on their own. though more interesting is how the use of the word deserve, whether implied or explicit, serves to frame the questions we ask of ourselves and society.

i assume that most people reading this dont believe in magic. yet i also assume that when i say the word ‘magic’ most people know exactly what i mean. the word brings to mind images of wizened wizards, dragons, crafty imps, and princesses with both bleached blond hair and the uncanny ability to inspire men. the last image, perhaps works only for those with premium cable. its strange that even though we know magic doesnt exist, we still know what magic is. we most likely even have an idea about how it is supposed to work, its mechanics. for instance, magic requires certain paraphernalia such as wand, a book of spells, various amphibian appendages, a cauldron or sizable pot. get a good boil going, say some vaguely latin incantations and, voila, bobs your uncle. for most of us, in fact, that would really be the only way bob could be our uncle. a man named robert suddenly materializing as a sibling to one of your parents is far more difficult than the parlance of our day implies. the point is that in the world of fantasy, magic is a supernatural energy force that can be harnessed in order to change the natural world. it is a force that has rules. only when those rules are adhered to does the adherent gain the power to change the material world. you have to cast the spell correctly in order to achieve the desired effects.

in real life, as we all know, magic does not really exist. there is no mystical energy that, recognising you have said or done a certain set of things in a prescribed order, rewards you with the ability to shape the world as you see fit. yet when we say ‘i deserve’ arent we appealing to some external power to reshape the world as we believe it should be?

continued in part 2 (seriously)

and vote for me and enter a draw for tickets for jfl toronto http://www.siriusxm.ca/nexttopcomic

how i learned to stop worrying and learn to love sports pt. 1

ayn rand yankee
i have always had a strained relationship with competition. as a child, i held the maxim that any satisfaction derived from direct comparison between oneself and another showed a deep weakness of character. you know, typical kid stuff. this belief held especially so when applied to the crude arena of the physical. my ego, in comparison to my brutish peers, was vastly superior due to its self-sufficiency. no external stimulus required, or so i would tell myself. as my buddies played endless games of street hockey, i practiced my free throw on the basketball net above the garage. even this solitary pursuit was an exercise in absurdity as i never once acquiesced to play a game of one-on-one. once in a moment of weakness i did enter a free throw competition, but who can say no to the knights of columbus. this attitude may indeed seem strange. especially when possessed by a nine-year old who would not encounter the works of ayn rand until several years later.
this was of course a defence mechanism, an intellectualization employed by a young boy not particularly adept at sports. oddly, this egotistical compensation was not a result of a lack of athletic ability but based on the belief that the universe had conspired to instil this stoic stance on victory and defeat through circumstance. namely, an accident of geography and a pair of portentous sporting campaigns. first of all, my family emigrated from ireland to canada when i was two years of age. needless to say, ice hockey (yes i prefaced it with ‘ice’) was not my father’s forte. this was a man who after living in the country for over thirty years would still occasionally refer to people as ‘canadians’. needless to say jim jr was never taken out to the pond to learn the basics of the great canadian game, never enrolled in peewee hockey, never knew the joys of waking at five am to be in leitrim for six. amongst my group of friends it was so taken for granted that young boy played hockey that once on meeting a buddy’s father he naturally asked ‘so hows your hockey going?’ the shame still haunts me. for the next ten years in that household i was treated as a suspected homosexual. by my perverse logic, hockey was the preeminent sport, by not playing ipso facto you where not an athlete. it is perhaps fair to say that i was a child who spent too much time inside his own head.
there were of course other sports available. being an immigrant of european stock, football was the obvious choice (im calling it football just because thats what the other five continents call it). that experiment ended in disaster. i played two years, the second on a competitive team. competitive perhaps being too strong a term as we didnt win a single game. i only remember two things about that season: us scoring once, and the confusion from the opposing team who had never seen a team so elated by a draw. in a spasm of self-preservation, my psyche repressed the rest the season. being embarrassed for ninety minutes every week soured me on the beautiful game. thinking a little more domestically i decided to play baseball for a season. ominously, i was drafted by a league team calling themselves the ‘all-stars’. this hubris would no doubt go unsmoten. again, the cassidy curse struck; we did not win a single game. distraught, i quit the team half way through the season. this precipitated a winning season that lasted all the way to the championship, which they won. apparently they were the all-but-one-stars. to my embarrassment i still received a trophy. i felt it should not have been of a baseball batter at the plate, but of a soldier falling on his own grenade. sadly, trophies are traditionally not fashioned with irony in mind. it was hard not to divine from this series of calamities that competitive athletics was not for me.
for years afterwards i shunned all sporting events, even in the capacity as a fan. i figured if you did not play the sport you had no business watching it. who are you to have an opinion on a game of which you cant even perform the basics? my friends seemed to know every obscure player, every intricacy to every rule, constantly awash in a sea of stats. at best, my contribution would be to muster a decent don cherry impression after watching a marathon of rock ’em sock ’em videos. it was not until i was in my twenties that i learned to chill the fuck out and get into it.
part 2 coming soon …

the january war

this is the time of year when the holiday haze finally lifts. on some wednesday in early january we hesitate a moment too long in front of the mirror and suffer a flash of introspection. we realise that the ‘until the holidays are over’ deadline that we established somewhere on the way back for thirds on boxing day can no longer be postponed. the guerillas of self-improvement have descended from guilt mountain and are threatening the city gates. there is unrest amongst the natives. some welcome the wily rebels, what with their crazy new ideas and idealistic outlook. still others long to be kept under the protection of uncle, el presidente, general el mismo. after all, he got into power preaching the comfort of continuity; the party slogan: ‘we fear change’. these are the players in the january war. the tactic employed by both is the key to keeping your own resolutions: the winning of hearts and minds. namely, your own.

now im sure by this point in the year you have come across some sort of advice writing about what measures to employ to stick to your new year’s resolutions. i certainly not one to give advice. in the past i have found that my suggestions have been met with, at best, polite receptivity to, at worst, stern instructions to deplane without making a scene. i simply would just like to point out one of the glaring incongruities of self-improvement: the tool is also the problem. every year we take inventory of ourselves and notice a distinct deficit of judgement, resolve, and discipline. our response? using our best judgement we resolve to be more disciplined. we are doing no more good than setting the hands on a broken clock. without repairing the interior workings we are doomed to lose a second a minute until eventually the time is so off we find ourselves waking up at three pm on the other side of the city with a girl calling herself ‘sheryl’ who is demanding cab fare in an accent i could only place as uzbekistani. metaphors aside, not a mere change in behaviour but a real change in perspective is the true challenge.

the first thing to keep perspective on is that new year’s day is, in the grand scheme, a fairly arbitrary date. it is easy to over invest the date with a surfeit of chastity. we are often induced by the cold stillness of a snowy new years morning to believe that in such a virginal setting a rebirth of our own is more than merely possible, but destined. this will be the year it all turns around. the year they shall remember me for! but then, inevitably, somewhere around the seventeenth, perhaps the twenty-first if you are particularly spartan, it all goes to shit. we take that first drag, order just the one drink, text the ex. then like finding out your girlfriend has been nailing your cousin, january is just another whore like all the rest. more so in fact because of the initial perceived purity. its like sandy’s transformation scene at the end of ‘grease’, except not as wholesome, and probably not at an amusement park. unless of course the particular vice you were trying to kick is cotton candy, gravitrons, puking in public, or some combination thereof. from that point on we treat the rest of the year with the scorn generally reserved for ex-lovers. the problem with both holding on to spite and feeling as though you must abandon your resolutions because of a few slip ups is that the only one youre really punishing is yourself. allow yourself a modicum of guilt but certainly dont let shame settle in.

guilt and shame, though often conflated, serve a different emotional utility. guilt is an intersubjectively agreed upon placement of blame whereas shame is something you feel when you get caught masturbating. guilty is a label people give to you, ashamed is something you feel. the two are not mutually inclusive. often people are guilty of committing some social transgression or another but feel no shame for it. they just go on living their life as if nothing happened. a certain football player and an incident in the nineties springs to mind*. how this relates to resolutions is that too often when we falter in our quest for self-improvement the ensuing shame devalues the goal itself. in our failure to improve ourselves we no longer feel worthy of improvement.

whats the solution? fucked if i know. the closest ive come is to recognise the guilt and leave the shame out. dont be so hard on yourself and learn to forgive yourself. its not what you do once and awhile that matters, its the habits you keep that determines the most. that and walk your gimp weekly, at the very least.

* dan marino owes me thirty-five dollars stemming from an unpaid brunch tab in palm springs circa march 1993. the juice is running dan-o.

‘manbaggery’ or ‘screw you colson: an exploration of the murse’

trailblazer

i am a man and i carry, for all intents and purposes, a purse. of course i don’t call it that. i employ one of the many euphemisms invented by the fashion industry in order to make myself and my brethren feel less ‘european’. its a messenger bag, a carry-all, a satchel, or just simply ‘a bag’. people make fun of me but i still choose to carry it. when someone picks it up off a couch at a friendly get together and asks ‘whose purse is this?’, i confidently put down my soy based beverage and announce, ‘that sir is mine’, and bare my chest to the inevitable derision that is sure to follow. some sarcastic line of questioning concerning the location of my tampons or my preferred brand of mascara is a popular tactic. at the end of the day, despite the teasing, i am still glad i carry it. particularly because at the end of the day is when i’m the most peckish. am i expected to stuff those larabars into my pockets? that’s just disgusting. yet it does raise the question of what is it about carrying a bag that is so intrinsically emasculating.

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‘catch 2012’ or ‘bitches be crazy (and so am i)’

     in an on going to attempt to determine exactly what is wrong with me ive decided to focus on one particularly disturbing psychological node. this would be my persistent attraction to women who exhibit one personality trait almost definitively: disdain. this demeanour is not to be confused with that malt shop conceit of ‘playing hard to get’. in that scenario betty merely fawns disinterest in an attempt to maintain chucks attention. the attraction examined here is not rooted in some sort faux derision of yours truly, but rather in an encompassing antipathy for the world at large. why is this a quality any rational person would seek in another human? let alone someone on whom your future sexual estimation will hinge.

@jennifermaguire


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nerdology pt. 2

in the early days of the internet, as i remember them, it was a very nerdcentric place. now im talking the early days, when it wasnt assumed everyone had an email address, where having a 28.8 modems was the cutting edge, and having a webpage with flashing text was considered graphics heavy. the internet buzzword back then was ‘interactive’, which now just seems redundant, like colour television. every website stressed how interactive it was which usually consisted of signing up for newsletter or having your own login: ‘hello sexmonster69, welcome back’. needless to say it was all pretty lame Continue reading