Coup de Grâce

September 27, 2009

After the LSAT, I rushed to Quebec city to play in the provincial rugby semi-final. You know when you try to will a car or bus or metro or cab to go faster but all that happens is that you realize the limited influence of your will and you realize that the best strategy is just to sit back, calm down and accept the lateness? I was in this state for two hours.

But eventually the crystalline sparkle of autumn on the Plains of Abraham came into view. The tidal rush of rugby roared across them. I scrambled into cleets and took the field.

We lost. The anxiety and mental exhaustion of the day had taken its toll on me and I made quite a few mental mistakes. My passion was slightly hobbled by a sinus infection and LSAT fatigue. But I played quite heroically at times, and stole a ball to win an 80 yard footrace to the try zone. There was one guy who was going to angle me out of bounds or tackle me but I was NOT going to run 80 meters at full tilt with a bad ankle just to get tackled within an eyelash of the white chalk by this little French squit who, unfortunately, had looped around at just the perfect angle to bump me out of bounds. But then this kind of metaphysical refusal to be robbed of this one small drop of victory in the f—ing ocean of strife that composes my life sort of unhinged something inside me. Some primal moral construct became dislodged – blame it on the LSAT, or the frustrating game, or the anxious car drive, or the anxiety emergent from reality’s constant hampering of our attempts to impress our volition upon it. I didn’t even hesitate to think. I just swung. It was a little vicious, not to mention totally illegal rugby-wise. I caught him with the soft underbelly of my fist, right in the jowl. I didn’t slow down to watch as he careened past me, his legs giving out like a boxer in the final round. I just tumbled in to claim my five glorious points.

The pudgy, post-ambulatory linesman was still around the half way line. He had already given me a penalty for fisticuffs early in the match, but he was far too far away and too myopic to be able to distinguish an innocent arm bar from a malicious blow. A towering opposing 8-man came up to me in offended disbelief. He had chased me like a hunting dog does a bunny all the way from the other hemisphere of our little rugby microcosm. He was the primary audience for my transgression and he was shocked. I rubbed it in his face a little. When we lost the game I had to shake hands with him a little sheepishly. He was pretty magnanimous about it.

Its comes with a strange, neandertholic pride, playing a bit of dirty rugby. I feel a little bad, from a kind of Kantian, categorical imperative, standpoint. I feel guilty thinking that I have perhaps somehow tarnished the game, discredited the sport by encouraging its barbarism. But there is a ‘this-is-war’ poignancy to it that cannot be denied, not to mention a kind of internal, karmic justice. Violent play is often answered with curt vigilantism. Fortunately karma is a long-run phenomenon, so I might just get away with it this season…


Law School Admissions Fest

September 27, 2009

Yesterday was a full day. It was a day-tight compartment, a lifetime in a 24 hour window saturated with coloratura and angst and catharsis and exhaustion and alive-ness.

7:30 an electronic cacophony of cellphone alarms fishes me from sleep. I wake suddenly to find myself lost in that very suddenness. Given my habitual addiction to 4 minute snooze alarms, the urgency characterizing my resurrection hints to me that something was special about this morning. I don’t know quite what it is, so I suffocate the alarm and consider further sleep: I have had a few confusing mornings recently, probably due to stress. I even went to sleep once on wednesday in my room-mate’s bed (secretly- he is out of town on business) and woke up in mine. Disorientating. Perhaps not quite categorizable as sleep walking, but close.

Then four letters of grand purpose came to me, before I nod off into the late morning. LSAT. Law School Administration Test. Yippie-Kai-Yay. At least I am up in time, at least in a way it is close to being over.

Heavy caffienation, and bagelation ensue and I am soon winding through a crisp fall morning in Montreal, au velo. I bike through a wash of abandoned sunshine. The cold is sharp, a reminder that I’m alive. But it’s warm enough for me to be happy about that fact. I power up a hill past a lanky skateboarder. It surprises me, makes me feel a little self-conscious and lush, to see a skid like him up on the early hours of a Saturday. Where is he going, this lone four-wheeled ranger? I usually feel proud when I get up early, especially on a weekend. But this guy kind of disinfects it.

The LSAT is so much better but somehow worse than its medical counterpart. It’s not as debasing. It doesn’t try and break you with the weight of four oversized textbooks and an approachable-but-impossible-to-attain state of perfect preparation. It does come with its share of intangible stress. You invest hours. The test approaches. You reach a critical point where you have become helpless to really influence your preparedness further. You are left to wonder if you have done enough. Will you be good enough? Will it be a series of worst case scenarios? Will you be confounded by the subjectivity of Arguments? Paralyzed by the smallest stumble in the logic games section? Drown in an oceanic Reading Comprehension passage? Or will you experience just another mundane averaging of your effort? Will anomalous good and bad moments cancel eachother out, returning you to the barren, sternal bosom of the median?

What is perhaps worse about it is the ineluctability of your score. There is no ‘i could have studied harder’, or ‘memorized more’ type of post-test palliation. You are a number. It’s not all that matters, but in this particular, and at least minimally comprehensive forum of life, you equate to a number. No amount of protestation will change it. It is as real at the serial number tattooed on a prisoner’s arm and it also imprisons you in an evaluative cage of sorts. You grow aware that you have been gifted with language and logic abilities that place you above a crowd of people interested in exhibiting their language and logic abilities. But you are also now aware that there are others who will, in most likely scenarios, continue to be your facultative superiors. This is healthy to an extent, this standardized testing business. It is a salve to the hubris of nurturing parents’ caresses that have left you scarred with a close-to-inviolable sense of superiority and entitlement. A sense that you just might be smarter than everyone else in the world, that only effort separates you from genius.

The test is a breathless, totalitarian affair. I didn’t realize it would be so rushed. Everyone shows up with a 3.78 litre ziplock bag full of LSAT accoutrements: old-school pencils, analog watch, eraser, sharpener, protein bar, water, kleenex. The essentials, according to some sub-committee somewhere who determines these things.

The girls, there are a few cute ones who are wearing too-tight tights for bottoms and baggy McGill sweaters for tops. Some chauvinistic voice within me, perhaps reinforced by the near-ubiquitous coquettishness of women in western society, mutters critically that today is no different than yesterday and they could have at least done their hair up without threatening their test score. Shallow, cynical, I know. But perhaps there is a buried frequency in it. Perhaps it’s a cry to all of humanity to stop giving up the few prideful routines that give life its color under the oppressive heel of necessary-for-success events that demand our full attention.

Nevertheless, formalities and circle-bubbling commence. I battle both clock and bladder. I am in here. Out there are the real questions, all the intriguing complexities of human life. If only I could shed the light of this effort and logical rigor on the darker recesses of the human heart.

If the LSAT was a bit more human, perhaps it would look like this: a David Foster Wallace Pop Quiz courtesy of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men and phrased in LSAT vernacular:

Two men, X and Y, are close friends, but then Y does something to hurt, alienate, and/or infuriate X. They had been very close. In fact X’s family had almost sort of adopted Y when Y arrived in town alone and had no family or friends yet and got a position in the same department of the same firm X worked for, and X and Y work side by side and become close compadres, and before long Y is usually over at X’s house hanging out with the X family just about every night after work, and this goes on for quite some time. But then Y does X some kind of injury, like maybe writing an accurate but negative Peer Evaluation of X at their firm, or refusing to cover for X when X makes a serious error in judgment and gets himself in trouble and needs Y to lie to cover for him somehow. The point is that Y’s done some honorable/upright thing that X sees as a disloyal and/or hurtful thing, and X is now totally furious at Y, and now when Y comes over to X’s family’s house every night to hang out as usual X is extremely frosty to him, or witheringly snide, or sometimes even yells at Y in front of the X family’s wife and kids. In response to all which, however, Y simply continues to come over to X’s family’s house and to hang around and take all the abuse X dishes out, nodding sort of studiously in response but not saying anything or in any other way responding to X’s hostility. On one particular occasion X actually screams at Y to ‘get the hell out of his family’s house and kind of half-hits-half-slaps Y right in front of one of the family’s kids hard enough to make Y’s glasses fall off, and all Y does by way of response is hold his cheek and nod sort of studiously at the floor while he picks up and repairs a bent arm-hinge as best he can by hand, and even after this he still continues to come around and hang out at X’s house like an adopted member of the family, and to just stand there and take whatever X dishes out in retaliations for whatever it is Y apparently did to him. Just why Y does this (i.e. continues to come around and to hang out at the Xes’) is unclear. Maybe Y is basically spineless and pathetic and has no place else to go and nobody else to hang out with. Or maybe Y’s one of those quietly iron-spined people who are internally strong enough not to let any kind of abuse or humiliation get to them, and can see (Y can) through X’s present pique to the generous and trusted friend he’d always been to Y before, and has decided (Y has, maybe) that he’s just going to hang in there and stick it out and keep coming around and stoically allow X to vent whatever spleen he needs to vent, and that eventually X will probably get over being pissed off so long as Y doesn’t respond or retaliate or do anything to aggravate the situation further. In other words, it’s not clear whether Y is apathetic and spineless or incredibly strong and compassionate and wise. On only one specific further occasion, when X actually jumps up on an end table in front of the whole X family and screams at Y to ‘take his ass and hat and get the fuck out of my family’s house and stay out,’ does Y actually leave because of anything X says, but even after this further episode Y’s still right back over there hanging out at the Xes’ the very next night after work. Maybe Y is somehow both pathetic and strong…though it’s hard to reconcile Y’s being pathetic or weak with the obvious backbone it must have required to write a negatively truthful Peer Evaluation or to refuse to lie or whatever it was that X hasn’t forgiven him for doing. Plus it’s unclear how the whole thing plays out – i.e., whether Y’s passive persistence pays off in the form of X finally getting over being furious and forgiving Y and being his compadre again, or whether Y finally can’t take the hostility anymore and eventually stops hanging around X’s house…or whether the whole incredibly tense and unclear situation simply continues indefinitely. There’s also the factor of how X’s overt unfriendliness to Y and Y’s passive reaction to it affect certain intramural dynamics within the X family, like whether X’s wife and kids are horrified by X’s treatment of Y or whether they agree with X that Y dicked him over somehow and so are basically sympathetic to X. This would affect how they feel about Y continuing to come around and hang out at their house every night, like whether they admire Y’s stoic fortitude of find it creepy and apathetic and wish he’d finally just get the message and quit acting like he’s still an honorary part of the family, or what.

In fact, the whole mise-en-scene here seems too shot through with ambiguity to make a very good Pop Quiz, it turns out…


Kanye vs Obama

September 23, 2009

First watch this: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036789/vp/32855902#32855902


HoneySuckle Strip Spelling Bee

September 22, 2009

Alopecoid: fox-like creature. Often causes dizzy spells and fainting when spelled.

“My name is Sherwin,” begins the transvestite with flirtatious show(man/woman)ship, “and welcome to the Honeysuckle Strip Spelling Bee. The rules are simple. If the contestant misspells a word, she is obliged to remove 1/3 or her clothing. On her third strike, she will be expected to strip nude, or as near to nudity as she is comfortable doing. Only the official photographer, which just so happens to be me, can take photos. So if you see someone sneaking photos, please alert one of our towering members of security. Once the offending individual has been ejected and sufficiently mutilated, we will award you with a free beer.” She gestures to the nervous group in the front row and leads a round of applause for the contestants. “Oh, and one more thing: there is a strict No Booing policy. If you hear anybody booing, snitch on them. They will be dragged on stage and forced to remove ALL OF THEIR CLOTHING.”

A fuzzy blonde beard, a cowboy hat and a small paunch make up the first contestant. The perturbing “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” jingle reverberates through the room. Dylan leans over to me and whispers cynically: “it looks like we are going to see a lot of wrench tonight.” There is a hint of masked excitement under his cynicism.

The cowboy is introduced and presented with his first polysyllabic test:  Equilibrist. Definition.
A performer who is skilled at balancing in unusual positions and hazardous movements, as a tightrope walker in a circus. The cowboy spells the word with ease, almost guilty to get a word right in front of the hungry crowd. A gaudy menagerie of contestants follows. Each is presented with a wacky word to orthographize: Glossopharyngeal. Schadenfreude. Prophylaxis. Meitnerium. Prolegomenon. Gadolinium. Tsimishan.

Sensual female lips form the auditory contours of the alphabet. The women are tantalizing. Each girl has a peculiar sexuality, a radiating nubile innocence that would drive Nabokov mad with lust. As clothing begins to peel away, there is none of the sad perfunctoriness of molting strippers. There is none of the homogeneity of industrial sexuality. This is lawless nudity, heightened by maddening anticipation and voyeuristic curiosity: just how far will they go? Just what is going to be under there?

Did I mention it only costs seven dollars?

I look over at my friend Caleb, who is frothing over the sides of his seat in excitement. He is a 220 pound instantiation of schoolgirl giddiness. His competitive streak is titillated by the spelling, his carnal side by the inexorable revelation of mammarial flesh. Dylan tries to calm him down. It is common knowledge that Caleb is victim to ‘mammalalia’: he irrepressibly shouts “Boobies!” whenever he happens across a pair of what Dylan refers to as “Baps.” I maintain a more composed exterior although I am secretly mesmerized by the simultaneous engagement of both sets of my marbles.

A stunted, smiling, suited character takes the podium and introduces himself with exaggerated showmanship. “Arcadi is the name.” His nerdiness seems at once authentic and embellished. Squinty eyes shift behind absurd, rounded spectacles. A three piece suit constrains his already jerky movements. A silent stiffening in the crowd marks a silent consensus: this guy is a square.

“Your word, Arcadi, is porphyra.”

The event is explicitly exhibitionist. And here he is actually trying to win the thing. “Porphyra” he repeats, with professional spelling bee poise. Then he rapidly rattles off letters with sublime confidence: “p-o-r-p-h-i-r-a.”

The judge’s apologetic news of his mistake loosens the boulders of his pudgy cheeks. His face falls in mock horror. The red lights of Amsterdam descend on the stage. Music amplifies. Then things start to get a little strange: he collapses, then starts to writhe in exaggerated self-disappointment. Just audible above the blaring speakers is an all too human howling. Immediate captivation sweeps the audience. This is unrestrained imprecation, primal shame, the prostrate stance of self-flagellation. He is a man possessed.

In the second round, Arcadi crawls back onto the stage. The judge starts speaking with a hint of hesitation, “Um, your next word is…”

“Nooo!” the shuddering figure on the podium bellows with theatrical bitterness: “No. I will not spell again. I have been humiliated by a seductive combination of hubris and seaweed. The humiliating stance of the quadruped becomes me! I cannot escape your insatiable eyes! Have it! Have your pound of flesh!”

A cacophony of howls and striptease jazz strikes up once again. Arcadi tears at his clothes . The agony in his eyes and screams couldn’t have been more violent if he were shredding off flesh. This is not the giggling, self-conscious precocity of amateur striptease. It is the the soul-shout of a coliseum casualty. It is the surrendering, existential bleating of the public execution.

What fun.

Pierce takes the stage, his effeminate face framed by the monstrous collar of a polar bear coat. His grin is sly. His word is Quodlibet: a subtle or elaborate argument or point of debate, usually on a theological or scholastic subject. Pierces sidles up to the microphone, clears his throat, and repeats the word in the booming seductive low-registers of his vocal range: “Quodlibet. Z-7-D-A-B-A-B. Quodlibet.”

His approach is shock and awe exhibitionism. His preparation is intricate. Outer layers are removed with focused method. His frenzy crescendos. His underwear is prepared with the impressive multilayering of a Matryoshka doll. Silk boxers give way to briefs, briefs to speedos, speedos to blue little boy undies with the white trim. He pauses momentarily at one of the nether stages of his strip to highlight the leather codpiece that covers his nether regions.

And then that is gone too. Only a weird, miniature sock type apparatus remains, a diminuitive stocking pulled over his flapdoodle third leg.

People get progressively more drunk.  After a few breathless hesitations, someone successfully spells ulu: an inuit all-purpose knife. Dylan offers objective criticism: “Wow. They went for a tricky one, and he sniped it.” Later, a voluptuous brunette lets the men in the crowd know that they are welcome to buy her drinks, alluding to a not-so-subtle win-win situation for her and the audience.

Sherwin, the host with a host of sexual ambiguities, weaves exotic words into lascivious sentences, to give the words context. “Well. In this life I have come across two types of people: the simple fuckers that have barely enough brain mass to support an ocellus but also the intricate, vociferous fuckers that make this pageant worth sticking around for.”

Awkward males resort to the ‘ass floss’ move after stumbling out of their trousers. Wobbly Sapphic spellers come complete with gyrating nipple tassles. Almost everyone goes full monty. After a week of LSAT studying, I am somehow relieved that there are people out there who spent a week in preparing to get naked in public. It’s somehow noble.

The spelling bee winner is called up. Despite impeccable spelling, he must share the fate of his friends. The crowd demands it. Wearing only his briefs he leans in to the mike to make an admission: I promised my mother that I wouldn’t take off my underwear.” A monumental “Awww” of disappointment pours forth from the audience.

Instead of apology, he leans in conspiratorially to the audience: “Sherwin? Can you come up here? Can you come up here and help me? I’m pretty sure I only promised that it wouldn’t be me that takes off my underwear.” A coy smile spreads over his face.

This is the way the spelling bee ends.

Not with bang but a simper.


Cover Letter

September 11, 2009

I wrote this cover letter the last time I was entrenched in permanent job search mode. It was some sort of cathartic blowing off steam moment. I actually sent in an application.

Charelli’s
Delicatessen & Cheese Shop Inc.
2863 Foul Bay Road
Victoria, British Columbia, V8R 5G5
250-598-4794

Mickey LeSouris

38 Mouseketeer Blvd.

Apartment #1 small hole behind the fridge.

V1C 2H3

To whom it may concern.

You say you are looking for a special individual. I think I fit the bill. My resting heart rate is around 180 bpm. I have a sleek, grey coating of fur that allows me to appear at once erudite and compassionate.

Small and fast paced environment? That pretty much describes my evolutionary niche! Weaving away from the brooms of frantic house wives and predatory felines. And when it comes to the gastronomical mysteries of that tender yellow goddess that you sell in your store, I am both knowledgeable and passionate. In my sleep I have been known to cry tearfully: ‘le fromage! mon amour!’  I have eaten rancid bits of Kraft Singles ™ off of the bottom of smelly work boots. I have also let world famous Bree’s melt in my mouth, nibbled with the earnestness of a crack addict on a fresh slice of Gorgonzola , and let a heavenly morcel of Bleu age in my mouth for 6 weeks.

Your browser may not support display of this image. She is my religion. My first love.  My raison d’etre. Why do I fit? Because I weigh 230 grams. Why should you hire me? Because I have 230 grams of heart.

Seriously. I freaking love cheese.
Yours tastefully,
Mickey

Good Morning Mickey!

Thank you very much for submitting your application for a position with Charelli‘s. Unfortunately at this time we can not accept another application for applicants of your type due to possible inspection risks. We would however like to keep it on file for our new location which will require at least one friend like you.

Have a great day!

Carmen

PS. The funniest applicant by far! We laughed!


www.revisionwriting.ca

September 11, 2009

The website is under construction, but I’m getting my little editing hobby shop off the ground. A Lochinvarian adventure in entreprenuership.

Here is my prodigial flyer, my marketing brainchild, my desperate stab with a sort of captivating faux-wit to attract the dollars of lazy, trust-fund undergraduates.

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