getting what you deserve and other spells

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)

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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’


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.


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this seems to be the epitome of hipster humour. its clever, but not terribly funny. its ridiculously inside. its like writing a joke that requires the audience knows both who clyde drexler played for and the nuances of quantum mechnics. who are you appealing to?

yet, i find myself laughing because i think i should be


what can i say about the idea that our society is now too complex that we cant live our lives just seeking immediate physical pleasure. there is a strange appeal / repulsion to that whole style of life. that i think is the reaction that jersey shore tapped into. these people didnt have any higher ambition than satiating their basic urges, and where unapologetic about it. that lifestyle seems like it would be fun but at the same time its like we secretly know we eventually be stabbed in the face because we just kept pissing other people off. Continue reading


i cant think straight any longer so im just going to fire these ideas out as they come. ive been trying to write this bit about how romance is almost like a new religion. well I guess not a new religion, its been around for quite some time, maybe its better to say its replaced elements of religion in our culture. i say this because the old school romantic ideas seem to be based on faith. ideas that destiny will provided us with our perfect mate, that there are some forces working on unseen levels moving us toward the other half of our soul. our true love is out there just waiting for us. I think a lot of people take comfort in this idea because if you believe in destiny, it relieves you from a lot Continue reading

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

nerdology pt. 1

ive been trying to write this thing for days and its just not coming out the way i wanted it so im just going to pull a kerouac and write out the idea as it comes to me. im even listening to bebop in an attempt to capture the whole aesthetic, dont judge me. its been brought to my attention by those in the know that this is how all the cool kids write their blogs. the all at once part, not the reference to the beats part.

basically the idea is that ive been trying to make some all encompassing connection between how its become a lot more socially acceptable to look like, have all the earmarks Continue reading