Friday, March 27, 2015

Debate Championships: Round 1

"Hello everyone and welcome to the 2014/15 High School Debate Championships featuring our two finalists: Gardenville High and Cedarview Secondary. My name is Sally Herman and I will be the moderator for this series of debates. Thank you for coming out to support these students who have worked so hard to get this far. I'm sure hours upon hours of practice and sacrifice have been spent and that, as well as their obvious skill, is why they are the finalists. Both teams have had to fight hard to get this far and, if the previous rounds are any indication, we should be in for quite a treat tonight. All of the normal rules apply and I know the team members are aware of the rules, but because this final should be very closely contested, I just want to remind both teams of a few of the basics: no speaking out of turn, nothing offensive towards the other team and no inappropriate language. Aside from that, I know I speak for the all of the judges, friends, family and other well wishers, I look forward to hearing more of the eloquent, creative and incisive statements and rebuttals that have highlighted the previous debates."

"We are trying something new tonight that neither team knows about yet and it will come as quite a surprise as it is a definite departure from how we usually conduct debates. In today's debate, we are strongly encouraging the speakers to avoid obvious hypotheses that are supported by tried and true and stereotypical arguments. For example, usually people will start with point A and connect that to point B and then C. Well today we are hoping that speakers will utilize all of the other 23 letters of the alphabet as well and to do so in unpredictable and random ways. Why, you may ask? Well, we all sit through so many debates, and it gets a bit boring at times, so we wanted to spice things up and to also challenge all of the students too."

"And without further ado, could the first debater from each team step forward to the lectern? We have Josiah Beacon representing Gardenville and Lucy Vuong representing Cedarview and the topic for these two debaters involves school uniforms and whether schools should enforce the wearing of them or not. After a random selection, Lucy will start and be taking the "pro" side in this school uniform debate. Lucy, you will have five minutes to make your statement in favour of school uniforms."

"Thank you, Ms. Herman. I have always been a big supporter of school's using uniforms. In fact, if I had my way, we'd all wear uniforms all the time and also speak and choose leisure activities with more uniformity as well. When I say that we'd wear uniforms all the time, I'm not being literal as each of us would need some time out of uniform to complete our dry cleaning when a simple white togo would suffice. And yes, I am looking for something else to do with my white sheets that don't involve sleeping or sobbing myself to sleep. Schools are meant to be bastions of learning and they would also accept castles of wisdom and da crib where da thunkin' is all goin' down and I think the students of today should dress for the occasion, even if that dress is not actually a dress and more of formless smock-like outfit that wouldn't look out of place on a walrus if said walrus felt like fitting in at a school so that they could prove to all of their friends once and for all that this walrus can solve for x. Think of a uniform as a bridge that helps support the youths of today as they pass over the shark and crocodile infested waters that are the pitfalls facing adolescents in high school education today. Now why the sharks and crocodiles are colluding and attempting to not only destroy the bridge but also to use its remnants as a rudimentary shelter so that they can have some amazing dinner parties is beyond me and beyond the scope of my talk. Join me tomorrow evening at the tool shed behind my father's garage for my theories on aquatic shelters and why the choice of material had better be both waterproof and seaweed resistant as well as sturdy enough to support at least two disco balls and multiple spot lights as the marine life in this area of the ocean likes to party. Students walk across this perilous bridge all pointed at the other side which is the promised land of either more school or barely minimum wage work and the uniform is what helps them get there. Now you may be wondering was my analogy was not only partially incomplete but also purposely incomplete? Well, imagine a school with no uniforms. It is chaos what with the constantly flashing colours keeping all present on the edge of epilepsy. Is that a way to learn? I don't think so and I know from personal experience growing up in a house where my parents believed that we should only eat breakfast with a variety of colourful lights being flashed at us indirectly at the same time waking up our senses and also giving our porridge the illusion of four dimensions. If the students were forced to wear head-to-toe grey jumpers with matching hats, socks and shoes it would be as if we generously gave each of them a bandage that they could wear and keep their oozing wounds patched up. Why do they all have oozing wounds? Call Cal in Maintenance and Facilities. Now, I know my opponents over there are wondering why I want students to dress as if they are in prison? Well, I just think that if students rid themselves of all of the distracting colours that only act to confuse and distract them then the learning will not only get easier but also seem more exciting in comparison to their outfits as the students will just jump at using red, green and purple pens thus helping our local economy, or at least the pen-distribution fraction of it. It may come as a surprise to you all, but I used to be a bully. Not a traditional one, mind you, but a bully all the same. I was forced, against my will, to bully myself. How you are wondering? I used to love colourful clothes - wore them all the time and with a confidence that bordered on brazen and only fell short of it because I was only 7 and had misplaced my dictionary. After sometime I just got a little sick of my own happiness and carefree attitude especially when adorned with quite comfortable materials that were so optically pleasing. I gave myself such a hard time - I was relentless, until, I burned my colours and bought solely black, white and grey clothes just like I had wanted me to. It was such a perplexing time and, to this day, I'm totally unsure why I made myself burn my clothes as there was tons of room in my closet and this phase was due to end the weekend after next anyways. I guess I am saying that I don't want little Johnny and Sarah to be harassed for choosing to dress in a flashy style. I am trying to protect them from the bullies who lurk out there and who would never bother someone wearing grey. Grey is such a lifeless colour and I think it would sap all of the misplaced anger out of the bullies - it worked for me. Once I switched over, I never bothered myself again except when I wanted more ice cream and then I just told myself to stop talking so loud as my parents were starting to stare...more. I'd like you all to close your eyes for a second. Think of school as a tray in the cafeteria of life. There are students in line in this cafeteria also holding trays that are also symbolic of smaller schools mostly for germs and viruses - they need an education too! The microorganisms are not holding trays in their school as they have no limbs that can support a tray and what would we serve them? They are fortunate that we build a school for them in the first place as we almost spent all of the allotted money on a large hot tub which would really come in handy at the moment considering the cold spell we are currently experiencing. The students in this school are receiving their daily lunch which consists of gourmet meats and cheeses and salads of micro-greens and buns baked with ancient grains, but that is not important right now! The students are holding their trays, that symbolize their schools, with a gentle care that is only concerning if you don't think a love between a teenager and their institute of education is proper plus they don't want to spill their food thus rendering all of the work of the local organic farmers moot - they may as well been spraying all of the veggies with all of the sprays that they keep around from the good ol' days just in case healthy eating goes out of style. I'm not totally sure why I asked you, the audience, to think of a school as a tray - it was mostly to help me fill up my time and to see if you can actually imagine that. It took me days and a particularly well-timed bump on the head by my little brother's toy train. I'm sure you have had mixed results in picturing a tray as a school and the school where the tray is being used as life itself and if you have actually been able to get your head around that and can prove it using mime then I have a complimentary bar of soap for you to take with you as a parting gift. Remember when you are voting judges, you too could leave here with more soap than you would know what to do with, or should know what to do with - I mean some of you may be expert soap carvers, or emerging soap-carving artists just waiting for your chance to shine and only judging high school debates until your avant garde soap creations are accepted by the mainstream. And before my opponent suggests that I get off of my soap box, I'll remind him that my brother is quite the mover and shaker in the soap industry and that he not only lent me this soap box for the debate today with the purpose of giving me the illusion of height and intelligence as I have always mistakenly linked the two of those together. To conclude, uniforms can only help the leaders of tomorrow ward of the evils both real and imaginary, both deliciously smooth and tantalizingly crunchy and both evil and not actually evil at all. Any peanut butter in the house?"

"Thank you, Lucy. Josiah, now it is your turn to argue the con side"

"Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, I want to begin by saying that I used to wear uniforms. I know some of you may be shocked and disgusted to hear this. Uniforms, uniforms, uniforms - day in, day out, all I wore were uniforms. In fact, it got to the point where I wasn't quite sure where the uniform stopped and I began. I had to seek out help from my school counsellor as I wasn't even too sure who I was any longer. I believed that I needed the uniform to live. I was so wrong - the uniform was preventing me from fully living - I see that now! The uniform was limiting me from full realizing my true self, I was just a young man trapped inside the confines of his uniform sort of like a butterfly inside her cocoon, only with considerably less odor of larvae. Uniforms are like an invisible force making us conform and act like one. We lose our individual personalities to the will of this force and I, for one, couldn't wait to break free. But I was almost too late - another week under the force, the spell of my uniform and I would have been swallowed whole like a medium-sized hors d'oeuvres that the eater was unfortunately indecisive about taking a well-needed extra bite of and struggled with indigestion for a good hour as a result of. I now know that deviled eggs require no less than 2 bites and there is no upper limit of bites and that if I want to take hundreds or even thousands of bites because that is how I enjoy eating my eggs when they are presented in deviled fashion, then that is how I will do it and I don't care if that makes us late for the movie or the custody battle or whatever you are going to be late for that you think, quite incorrectly, is more important than my enjoying my late-afternoon or early-evening hit of protein and a mild Hungarian powdered pepper. As I stand in front of you, I sort I wonder what it would be like to be standing behind you all, but not enough to actually do something about it at the moment. I also remember the day I became free. It was such a transformative experience. It was like the joy one would get from registering for the army and being accepted only to suddenly quit just so they could have the satisfaction of quitting something that was really important. It is also like when ducks start hanging out with geese and start becoming demonstratively more goose-like in their gait, demeanor and attitude towards reeds. I know this would happen very slowly at first and then faster as time goes on as the ducks immerse themselves in the lives of the geese. When I first removed my uniform, I felt lost sort of like when I was once in possession of a rare family heirloom, a jewel of almost infinite value and I couldn't find it. I searched high and low for days upon days upon days with no luck. I was in a constant state of panic and covered in a thin layer of cold sweat before finally picking up the phone to call my grandmother to let her know the horrible news and she told me that she not only didn't know what I was talking about but that I should stop yelling at her. I came to realize that the jewel was a figment of my imagination and that I could easily create a new one. That weekend was spent in my room surrounded by jewels of all colours, shapes and sizes - it was the best figuratively rich weekend of my life. It felt like I removed my uniform for the last time as if it was yesterday. It was five years ago, and I generally feel like almost everything in my life happened yesterday - I experience all emotional events as very raw and they all feel like they just happened up until I drink some milk. If I could, for a moment, just take a second and say how much I love milk and how everyone should buy some and drink it. This last sentence was brought to you by the local Milk Industry, see me afterwards for a coupon. I was one of the lucky ones - my school decided that uniforms were unnecessary and took away from individual expression. They wanted to give us all hope; hope for a greater tomorrow with colourful and randomly chosen clothes that may or may not match or even look good regardless of the mood lighting or the season. They wanted us to express our true selves all the time and, in fact, when they got rid of the school dress policy they brought in a much harsher and harder to abide by personal expression policy that stated that everyone had to be themselves all the time and as a result I have never been more myself than I am right now aside from a few days when I was six as a result of eating some worms on a dare. I have hope that eventually all schools will abandon uniforms. I have hope for a future where each student can wear purples and pinks and oranges as well as greens. I have hope that each of you will buy some milk after I am done and to attempt to avoid playing near any bee hives as bees sting and that isn't helping any of us. The bees need to make honey in peace and not worry about some gangily, long-limbed youths playing recklessly around their homes and their work sites and the kids don't need to be stung, No one needs to be stung aside from my uncle who is a piece of work let me tell you. We can work with these bees for a world where human-bee relations are much improved and where the honey literally never stops flowing which would make everything tasty and sticky which we will all get used to over time. And we will as long as there are no school uniforms depressing the children and their loved ones and making the teachers sad as a result which also effects their spouses and their work colleagues. Essentially, what I am saying is that if even one student is forced to wear a uniform, we all suffer and we all die inside. It take a village to raise a child and only one uniform to blow down that carefully balanced house of cards, and I should know as I lived inside a house of cards once that blew down within the first five minutes and I was quite cold as it was November. You may wonder if I am getting off track and now I am starting to wonder it as well - thanks! Finally, as much I love wearing my own clothes, I once loved my uniform and I still have it in my closet with the door slightly ajar so I can look lovingly at it and blow it kisses. Which is a step towards looking lovingly at another human being and blowing it kisses."

"Well done, each of you. Lucy, it is now time for your relatively brief rebuttal."

"Thank you. I am slightly stunned and perplexed by my opponent's arguments although I feel oddly animalisticly attracted to him and may need to go back on my medication if my mother/naturopath sees fit. Be that as it may, I have to say there are some holes in his argument that are gaping wide and, I hope this doesn't seem mean, but the overpowering stench emanating from that gaping hole of a mouth could he halitosis. To ignore the holes would be a grand show of restraint on my part, and I'm just about out of shows of restraint. Instead I will take the advice of my debate coach to wear my hair in a bun as it gives the allure of librarian-ness and to focus on the issue at hand: wearing school uniforms provides the students a stiff, thick, protective layer against the corruption of the outside world and, knowing that, in some cases multiple layers of uniforms is probably advisable. While in their uniforms your children are safe and happy, aside from the discomfort they will naturally experience manoeuvring around the school in their ultra-stiff clothes. I'm not sure why I believe the clothes must be so stiff, what with all of the amazing fabric softeners readily available on the market and at such competitive prices, but we shouldn't concern ourselves with such details at the moment because that would only result in creating holes in my argument and filling the pockets of those near-demonic fabric softener company execs who are already too big for their britches if you ask me. I use the term near-demonic lightly as I reserve the full brunt of that term for the confounding school officials who wish to see their school hallways and classrooms ablaze with all of the wonderful colours of the rainbow. How can they not be aware of the disaster that is just around the corner? Especially with all of the anti-shoplifting mirrors they have recently installed to cut down on the epidemic of collisions. I would rather wear a uniform and collide with a million people a million times spraying jelly and jam and other spreads ranging from healthy to so-sugary-and-gelatinous-that-the-mesmerizing-result-of-the-jiggling-after-the-collision-just-about-masks-the-fact-that-actually-eating-the-substance-has-permanently-altered-the-consumer's-bone-density than wear the colourful, stylish clothes that would draw the ogling eyes of my fellow classmates as I strutted down the hallway. While I don't mind the ogling, and I do enjoy a good strut now and then, it is such a slippery slope. One day we are wearing our fashionable outfits and ogling and strutting and the next we are not only jumping but having to provide long, detailed answers using perfect syntax and grammar to "how high?" I, for one, do not want to be reduced to a stylishly-dressed, colliding, jumping fool when all I have to do is wear a school uniform. It is just that simple. Now I understand that my arguments may make the members of the audience say "she is way out there" and "where exactly is 'there' anyways?" and "isn't it high time for a refreshment break?" Believe me I understand. My feelings towards school uniforms may seem strange or weird and they may make you feel uncomfortable like you are sitting in a wet diaper that needs changing. We all have. But I challenge the judges to consider not only offering tea and or coffee to the audience but also a wide selection of juices as well as appreciating that wet-diaper-on-the-verge-of-creating-a-rash-on-your-pristinely-soft-and-unblemished-baby-bottom-that-is-the-envy-of-all feeling and awarding me the victory."

"A compelling argument, Lucy. Thank you. Josiah?"

"Thank you. My debate coach trained me well to handle arguments so varied as these. I spent much of last term figurately living in a sparse cave in the mountains constantly worried about being ripped to pieces by savage wolves entertaining myself with a rudimentary set of stick people action figures made from an actual pile of sticks all in an effort to prepare for this moment. I am so against the wearing of school uniforms that I have to fight the impulse to create a radio-friendly pop song with slightly euphemistic lyrics that would also receive airplay on some adult contemporary stations. So let's say the other side wins and we are all in school in uniforms, is that so bad you may be wondering? Well, I, for one, will feel like a fireman who insists on breaking down the door, no questions asked, and putting out the fire in the room as real or imaginary the fire is.  I'm not sure why I will feel like a fireman, but that is a question for another day, or at least it can wait until after the debate when we all can look at it with fresh eyes and ears, but I will and can you live with that? I can, I'm just honestly wondering how the rest of you feel? Let me put this another way, a young girl is riding a bike on a path by the beach. The wind is playfully blowing the hair that is not being restrained by her helmet. You long to see all of her hair flying around, but you must put that feeling aside as safety comes first and that is not really the point of this mostly pointless analogy. She is beaming and she clearly loves her bike to a degree that may be unhealthy but could be chalked up to the fact that they spent many of her formative years away from each other for purposes of socialization for both. Now that you have pictured that girl and her bike on the beach, I will come clean and say that there is no connection between that story and this debate, but I hope you enjoyed it none the less. I will now return to your regularly scheduled rebuttal in the hope that the judges also enjoyed the reprieve. If we all wore uniforms thus blending us all together, the hallways, between classes, would look like a vast ocean with choppy waves. And as we all know the ocean is both home for a veritable and wonderful cornucopia of plant and marine life and for some of the most blood-thirsty sharks that only wish to bite the ones we love and devour their flesh enjoying each bite with a hunger that is almost addictive until we remember that the food at hand is a loved one and this all is happening while we are forced to watch by the other  sharks. How can we knowingly create this ocean in our schools? I don't understand- do we want our loved ones to be mercilessly eaten, and enjoyed, by sharks? I don't know about you, but I would rather see a thousand kids wearing colourful outfits that are mind-bendingly nauseating than see one person's loved ones fall victim to a vicious shark. Maybe it's just me? In conclusion, when I was in grade school they taught me my letters, then they showed me how to spell words. Sometime passed and then I learned how to put these words into sentences and finally they showed me how to wipe my nose. But I am now using these sentences to speak to you and all I expect from all of you is to either blindly agree or to agree using your eyes. Say no to uniforms, or else you are essentially sending a message to all grade school kids and teachers that they shouldn't even bother learning or teaching letters at all."

"Well done both of you. We will now take a break while the judges now need some time to discuss the merits of both of your arguments. The next to debaters can begin to prepare themselves as well."

Monday, March 23, 2015

Medicine to Mask My Pain

I take medicine to mask my pain, I put a smile on to mask my sadness, I use masking tape to hang some stuff on the wall to partially mask the ugliness of the wall and yet, when I wear as actual mask in public, I am considered "weird" and "creepy" and "worthy of holding you over night". Talk about your mixed messages.

My hair seems to have a mind of its' own, while my mind just wishes and wishes that it could have enough hair for a comb-over.

I heard the other day that it is better to have loved and lost, and I slapped myself upside the head as I had it backwards. I knew it felt weird when I spent a long time just flat out lost hoping that something magical and romantic would happen. Those were my 20s or as I like to call them "A Long Walk In The Woods".

The other day when I was out walking I had an overwhelming desire to mark a spot with an 'X', fly to Cuba for a salad, sing in an opera and then go home and hard boil four eggs, but not eat them, as that would be too cliched.

I require exactly 24 hours notice for any requests involving cheese and more so if I will be required to dress up as a mouse and pose for photos.

I don't know about you, but one of the most important features I look for in my sushi restaurant is the quality of its WiFi followed closely by the freshness of its fish - if I can have both, then I am one happy dude.

I, for one, am glad that the library limits the number of periodicals I can sign out at one time because if I was able to put together my love of fine magazines with my inability to safely deal with the absence of limits it would only spell trouble for the rest of the patrons of the local library.

Others have observed recently that I am in desperate need of some vowels, and that although they appear to have enough to go around, they are not sharing, or at least not sharing with me as I smack of desperation.

I flip pancakes with the best of them which only makes me stand out like a sore thumb as I am just flipping pancakes to pass the time until my thumbs feel well enough again to make waffles. Note: never attempt to move a hot waffle iron with your thumbs even when it seems like it will solve all of your problems; it won't, and even if it does, the searing and debilitating pain you will feel emanating from your thumbs will make you second guess everything rendering any problems solved moot.

I poured my heart into creating some art, mostly self portraits, and was crushed when I was told that the window had closed a long time ago on the cave person-era of artwork. 

I've learned the hard way that dressing up as a life-sized banana does nothing for my metaphysical angst, though I am dressed up as a banana, so I do have that.

I often chop vegetables when I want to cook something, although I have found it both therapeutic and relaxing when done while relaxing in a hot tub with Epsom salts. The  uniformity of my knife cuts suffer though.

When I walk downtown, I often stare up at the tops of the tall buildings and I imagine a man, similar to me in almost every way, at the top of the building staring down at me and just laughing and laughing at how small I am, until he realizes that he is only a figment of my imagination, and then the joke is on him.

Others have encouraged me to face my fears or to put my best foot forward or to at least stop mailing them jello. But I ask them, what am I supposed to do with all of these envelopes I just bought, not to mention all of that jello just sitting there begging to be mailed?

Some shirts make me happier than they should while my pants are always such a downer.

I haven't literally grasped at straws in months as my wife felt like we couldn't fit that into our tight budget - "waste of straws" she said. She is always saying that! If I had a dime for every time she said that, I could go buy some straws already.

Those close to me find my need to be loved "cute" and "adorable" and "that will cost you $6.45 

I am often out in public just craving some misplaced sympathy. I am a huge fan of misplaced sympathy by the way, but regular old sympathy works too if the misplaced sympathy cannot be located on such short notice. I will also accept sympathy or empathy if you insist, and I can even be convinced to receive solely pity if it is accompanied by some chocolate cake or free chalk.

In the evenings, I wrap myself up in the softest of linens and sleep like the baby I am. 

After years of hard work and research, my teaching style finally resembles that of an absent minded professor who has spent a little too much time in the gorilla habitat at the local wildlife enclosure.

There is only so much neck I can handle at one time.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Opinions: Part 2

yawning: I am shocked that yawning gets off so easily considering how highly "contagious" and dangerous it is and what a constant threat it plays to destroy us all. Got your attention now, you who sit there and yawn away the afternoon and early evening without a care in the world? Yawning is so "contagious" in that we all have to yawn when we see someone else yawn and I, for one, want to have a choice! Is that too much to ask "yawning"? Do I always have to "follow orders" and "shoot first and ask question later" and "add 1 cup of heavy cream and a half a stick of butter to the sauce" without at least having a discussion about it first? I have a hard time just doing something because everyone else is doing it - maybe that's just me? Now, I have put "contagious" in quotation marks as my not-so-subtle way of mocking that it is actually contagious - what are you a disease all of a sudden? Unless you are really a disease and then a thousand sorrys from me and I'll do whatever you ask of me, my lord, aside from yawning for charity as it just seems to be sending an overly-explicit message to those that run and support the charity that I am yawning to show my support of that I really don't care much. Yawning is dangerous, and those that drive trucks or operate heavy-duty machinery know what I am talking about. But, the big problem with society is that the rest of us think that we can yawn while working and the only bad thing that can happen is maybe a random piece of fluff that has been blowing to and fro, beautifully in the sky almost as if part of the wing of an angel may land in your gaping mouth, mid-yawn, causing a coughing fit which may lead, in some rare cases, to being rushed to the hospital if you just happened to have some highly-elective-to-the-point-of-the-doctors-feeling-used-by-you surgery scheduled. I once yawned at the exact moment I was pouring some scalding coffee into a mug when I used to work the breakfast shift at the restaurant and what resulted from that single lapse was catastrophic and I fully understand how I need to limit or at least cut back on my listing of average events as catastrophes unless I like being referred to as "the man who cries ouch when the scalding liquid poured all over his arm thus causing him to drop the pyrex urn which shattered scaring the customer who, for some yet to be explained reason, threw her hot, buttered muffin at the chef which he took as a stark, but deserve, criticism of his food and then promptly quit which happened to be exactly what our restaurant needed - a kick in the proverbial pants if you will - to do a much better job of "assaulting people's taste buds" as our slogan stated we would". I actually don't mind being labelled in this way and would have already made business cards except that the sample card I printed was so big that I decided to attach it to a picketing sign and just carry it around town leading people from a far to believe that I was protesting something. I could have led the charge against being to blase about yawning in jobs where there are no inherent or obvious reasons to worry as I believe, and I will carry this to my grave unless it is a long walk or it is raining that day, that we must all be on constant guard against yawns and against being too blase about them or blase about anything as I can't stand the word blase unless it is spoken by a woman who knows how to select the correct shade of blush and apply it properly so as not to alarm little children. I mean in a way, yawning is fun - it gives the jaw muscles a good stretch, allows random people on the street to have a good peek at your pristine molars that just don't get enough good press, and it gives all of us, the people of the world, something that we can always share even when times get tough.

shampoo: Disclaimer: I grew up in a household that oscillated which made the completion of homework or nearly every other chore (aside from sweeping haphazardly) next to impossible. The members of my house, as a child, flipflopped obsessively and randomly between wanton overuse of shampoo and boycotting all stores that sold shampoo based on what was almost certainly a misinterpretation of a Christmas card from Uncle Freddy whose cards were mind-numbing cryptic at the best of times. Due to my odd relationship with shampoo growing up (I always felt like shampoo wanted to get to second base with me and I had no idea either what that really meant and how that would even look in reality, where I was trying to live more and more as I approached the big 20) I have often wondered if  shampoo is more than just a product to clean hair and, after dedicating a lot of thought to this, I have determined that it probably is. But, as those shampoo enthusiasts are always telling me as I wait for the bus, shampoo is quite possibly the best possible thing to have on your head - even better, for some people, than actual hair plus it is really really good at cleaning hair. Those enthusiasts are often challenging me, quite aggressively I must add, to find something that cleans my hair better and I continue ignoring them and go back to reading allegories about the rise and fall of communism. I am currently challenging myself to find more uses for my shampoo as I "accidentally" purchased a barrel full of it from some guy on the street who was really convincing (read "attractive" and "wouldn't take no for an answer" and "obviously very skilled when it comes to offloading barrels of goods on well-meaning and fairly naive passersby who fall for attractive and forceful barreled goods salespeople they meet on the street"). I need to free up more space in my linen closet as it was not quite built to house any barrels at all, so I could choose to be silly and say "why, of course we could use shampoo on our floors to momentarily create a temporary slip-'n-slide" and the others I live with (they insist on being referred to as "the family" mostly for legal purposes up until my writing becomes either less embarrassing or financially viable, at which time they would like their full names printed on the top of any promotional material in a font size at least 1.5 times as large as mine) would mostly enjoy this until the inevitable bumps and bruises occur and child services are alerted by the well-intentioned staff at the local elementary school and I have to come up with a really compelling story that explains why the kids university-educated, gainfully-employed, non-ironic curly hair wearing father chose to waste some perfectly good hair product on a frightfully dangerous "game" that would clearly end in injury and child services being alerted of which I will only say "oops" and offer them some day old pizza. I happen to love the feeling of lathered shampoo in my hair and, to a lesser extent, other people's hair as I am never invited to those kind of parties. The feeling of running my soapy hands through my detangled hair is just about the best feeling I experience in life that involves my hands, soap and my own hair, followed quite closely by the occasional arts and crafts project which never receive the applause and prizes that they deserve. I, for one, hold the producers of shampoo in high regard usually reserved for edible gooey substances like cooked okra - to be that gooey and ambivalent is worth applauding, as much as one person can applaud a vegetable without causing others to "melt down" or "hit the ceiling" or "slide into home plate". Can you imagine the pleasure these beacons of society must garner by waking each morning and striding confidently through the throngs of unhappy regular citizens like you and me on their way to artistically create more hair nectar so that we can divert our obsessive itching to other areas of the body? I can't.

barnacles - I have often pondered, after the screaming and the warranted profanity have subsided, what is the point of having barnacles there in the first place? And is there even a second place? No one ever talks about the second place. All barnacles seem to do is give my feet, which have clearly grown complacent after running and jumping in pristine, unblemished sand and sliding, recklessly, on smooth rocks the return to reality that they obviously need. I mean - what is up with barnacles!?!? And before any of you science-types look up from your microscopes with your freshly-pressed and suspiciously-white lab coats on and proceed to lecture me on all of the wonders of not only barnacles, but every living thing, cram it! And when I say cram it, I am really recommending that you don't cram at all as it has been proven time and again that studying over time is a much better method for the retaining of information. You're welcome! I am sure barnacles serve a purpose and if they were to all magically vanish (in my dreams I am a massive man with huge muscular arms and long,powerful legs and an amazing beard that covers much of my body that allows me to finally save money on fancy belts who brandishes a chainsaw and a vacuum and travels the world in a few steps - don't forget how skyscraper like I am in size - and saws the barnacles into smithereens and then vacuums up the mess) I'm sure there would be millions of barnacle-like holes in our collective hearts. But, what else would be different? Fewer cuts and scrapes when playing on the beach thus allowing everyone to play more recklessly which can only be a good thing up until the recklessness reaches a point where no one can even take a nap in the shade any longer. I wonder how the rocks and shells and wooden posts that support the dock feel being covered with barnacles? Is it annoying where all they want is to be rid of the barnacles sort of like how I don't want to be covered with pieces of egg shells which has never actually happened but is still, for some reason, one of my fears as I move through my life that is suspiciously egg shell-free. I mean where are all of the shells hiding and what are they waiting for? It is to the point where I am so paranoid and anxious about those egg shells confronting me and covering me like barnacles that I almost just want to do go to the store and buy a few dozen eggs, make an amazing roasted red pepper, asparagus and goat cheese frittata, and then attach the shells to my body using all of the extra glue I have just lying around. But, back to the rocks and shells and their relationship with barnacles - maybe I have it all wrong and it is win-win for both, almost as if their relationship is symbiotic and they complete each other. Possibly the barnacles are exactly what the plain old rock needs to parade around town with and not feel out of place or ashamed. Sort of like the barnacle is a badge of honour. If I had more time perhaps I'd monitor barnacles and try to see things from their perspective - maybe write an academic paper or a journal article, get famous around the world as the barnacle whisperer and be able to fight for barnacle rights. But, I don't have the time and I honestly don't see myself doing that as I have tripped on one two many barnacles in my life and have felt the pain and curiously licked the blood to see if it is salty and it was, and I am just not ready to either forgive them or lay the blame elsewhere.

melting cheese - I'm guessing that I enjoy melting cheese more than the average Caucasian male of my size, age and foot speed. It is true - I really gain a lot of pleasure from the melting of cheese. I don't mind the selecting, purchasing, eating and digesting of cheese, but the melting...that is just the best. In fact it is so amazing, that when I am able to witness the transformation from solid slice of either pale yellow or sunset orange to gooey bubbly mess my heart is filled with such joy that it almost borders on a feeling of panic. Also, sometimes my heart is filled with so much joy due to my proximity to the melting that I accidentally inhale the melted mess (use of straw is optional and generally frowned upon by all but a few CEOs of an era gone by) and then my heart is considerably less happy. Some may say it is the power I enjoy when I stand there, at a same distance shielded by the portable plexiglass dome I was given, ironically, for my birthday and observe "the melt" all the while knowing that I was in no real danger aside from any metaphysical "hangovers" I may feel as a result based on my past where my best friend melted one too many plastic bags as a youth, inhaling the toxic fumes, and has believed for a long time now that the trees and bushes in his yard have a by-the-book-captain/renegade-detective-who-do-not-see-eye-to-eye-but-secretly-exchange-recipes-for-shepherds-pie-featuring-some-ground-turkey-to-lessen-the-caloric-impact relationship that he describes as overly leafy. I also love eating cheese when melted in dishes like pizzas, pastas and, on special occasions, my wife's favourite coat. There is just something about that glossy, cheesy coat that I just feel the overpowering desire to wear or lick or bound around the playground with an energy best reserved for springtime in Paris. I should probably get that checked out and also stop ruining coat after coat as my wife's patience is running thin similar to how her patience ran thin when I wouldn't stop spelling her name with powdered soap on the bathroom floor as a misguided means of communication on my part. The one thing I haven't been taking into account all of these years is how the cheese feels. Maybe I should look at this step-by-step, and no, I am not contemplated placing cheese slices on the actual steps of our stairs at this point. I am writing at the moment, can't you see that I am busy? Actually, I certainly hope you can't see me right now as I am subconsciously gnawing on the largest wheel of unpasteurized cheese I could obtain legally. The first step towards seeing things from the cheese's perspective is going back to the milking of the cow when the cheese is still just a thought in the milk's head almost as if cheese is like a baby for the milk. Woah! Is that how milk sees cheese?!?!? And what of the cow? Are they like benevolent godmothers who may intervene if one more slice is melted against it's will? I don't know about you, but my capacity for angry cows coming to my house, knocking quite politely on my door and then passive aggressively bothering me about my treatment of their godchildren is full. Step 2 would be the making of the cheese which is probably quite enjoyable almost as if the cheese is graduation from some sort of self-help program. I can only imagine that when the cheese is finally formed it feels both fulfilled and maybe a little out of shape and that they probably go out and join the nearest gym only to let the membership lapse over time. Step 3 is the buying of the cheese and I figure outside of missing the other cheese in the dairy section of the store, I can only imagine that cheese is adventurous - or else what is with the orange colour? - and totally open to new experiences. From what I hear, at the store, cheese is always the first to put their hands up to when they decide to play truth or dare. And then the slicing know, I can see that the slicing is traumatic. It must hurt and, although I have zero experience with any part of be loped off - and I know that I don't fully show my appreciation for that each and every day - I can only imagine what it would feel like to lose a part of yourself. I'm sorry cheese - many a time I have cut you and sliced you, often while laughing or talking on the phone. The least I could have done was to show you the proper respect and maybe had a ritual ceremony to mark the slicing of the sacrificial piece of cheese. And then I place the surviving members of the cheese family back in the fridge where I imagine they play cards or talk about sports with the eggs and milk all-the-while avoid eye contact with the veggies on the level beneath them. Finally, the melting....I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I will never melt again.

going to see the doctor - At the risk of sounding weird, I don't mind seeing the doctor. I feel like I am in the hands of a true professional, and yes, I do insist on either sitting on their hands or having some sort of their-hand-to-my-body contact at all times. I am aware that many people have a fear that oscillates between irrational, rational and hyper-rational over seeing the doctor and I think it is akin to when the contractor wants to see what's inside the walls - you never know what they will find, how much money it is going to cost and let's not forget about all of the drywall that needs to be replaced no matter how many times I tell him I just have an ingrown toenail. I too have felt that sense of panic and unease over what the doctor may find and what the results of those tests may say and if his falsetto is as good as advertised as that is the main reason I chose him in the first place as my best friend always tells me "never trust a doctor who sings base". But, as much nervous anticipation as I have felt, it feels so great to "win the lottery" when everything is okay and the parting gifts almost always are a welcome prize especially the ones that act as both artwork and a bath toy for my kids. I think the truly horrible part of the "seeing a doctor" experience is calling the-monotone-and-seemingly-uncaring-yet-prying-and-questioning-and-speaking-so-loudly-the-entire-waiting-room-can-hear-all-about-my-embarrassing-and-rare-ailment-or-problem receptionist. I think it is this aspect that has had me delay and delay making appointments when I full well know that I need to. "Oh, it's only light green" I say to myself, "no need to have to call the receptionist about that." I almost wish there were doctors who didn't have receptionists at all! Cut out the middleman or woman or two-dimensional-comic-strip alien! I can just see these doctors in their lab coats hiding from the manical receptionists in dark alleys giving out prescriptions and diagnoses to the welcome masses all-the-while super-conscious of being eyed by either a receptionist or one of their moles. Those receptionists are evil and vindictive and I imagine that the doctors, once freed from under their collective thumbs will be happy and free to practice medicine the way they once dreamed of when they were little kids having odd dreams of writing unreadable notes on small pads of white paper that strangely can only be deciphered by pharmacists. It is quite clear to me when I call that the receptionist is not just taking down my information and looking at their booking calendar to make me an appointment, but they are also ruthlessly judging me and keeping track of my problem for their office pool. And then the next debilitating part of this whole experience is when I show up in the waiting room and check in only to have the same receptionist I spoke to on the phone acknowledge my arrival with a poor and half-hearted attempt at a poker face that quite obviously reveals both their absolute disgust with the medical issue that  I have and also a look of smugness as if to say that they would have predicted that I look as I do based on the said issue. I want to yell at the top of my lungs
"I'm sorry sister, you can't tell I have a horrible bacterial infection between my toes based on how I dress. I threw that shirt out years ago!", but instead I retreat slowly, with my head hung in shame, to a seat that is not next to anyone else, because who in their right minds would want to come anywhere close to a bacteria-housing wretch like me. The waiting room is full of others like me, eyeing each other sideways, checking each other out and gaining the mental awareness that seems to say " that how depressing and gross I look??!?!" Names are called, almost as if there is a lottery and each person, once called, jumps up and looks around for someone to highfive, but everyone else is too mired in their outcast status waiting for Charon's ferry to the underworld. It is my turn and I walk proudly to the doctor's office, uttering a lifeless "thanks" to the receptionist who seems to want a long and emotional thank you note and tearful goodbye hug. In the end we all leave the receptionist behind and, as I walk by, I feel an ounce of sorrow and that is only because I feel that I have neglected the ounce in my life as it has been probably my least used and written about measurement aside from the parsec and the nanometre as neither come up too often in my day-to-day existence. The doctor is usually helpful and brief; always leaving me wanting more.

Friday, March 6, 2015


Sometimes I am so happy that I could cry.

And other times I am so sad that making even the smallest of smiles feels impossible.

Sometimes I ache with a hunger that leaves me weak and debilitated.

And other times I am strong and impervious to all forces that aim to knock me down.

Sometimes I swim in the waters loving the cool, soothing wetness on my skin.

And other times the rain angrily pelts down on me almost as if to say "go away".

Sometimes I feel the need to hide from the prying eyes and loose lips that are seemingly around every corner.

And other times I boldly and bravely announce my presence to the world.

Sometimes I just want to tickle someone.

And other times the idea of any contact with another human being feels so awkward.

Sometimes I am battered and bruised by the harsh realities of the cold world around me.

And other times I sink into my bed at night; comfortable and secure without a care to speak of.

Sometimes I close my eyes and enjoy every last morsel of an incredibly rich and dense chocolate cake that leaves me in a state of pleasure that only it can.

And other times I need something and have no idea what.

Sometimes I try so hard to fit in, to feel a part of the group, and to not stand out.

And other times, I purposely wear crazy, clashing outfits and walk proudly down the busiest street in the middle of the day.

Sometimes I receive the appreciation I feel that I have earned.

And other times I feel used by the system. 

Sometimes I am so angry that I want to scream at the top of my lungs.

And other times I sit cross-legged with my eyes closed on a picnic blanket and am so at peace.

Sometimes I look around in awe at my surroundings and am so grateful for all that I am blessed to have.

And other times I give in to feelings of jealousy and envy that never get me anywhere.

Sometimes I feel so alone.

And other times I remember that I need to show all the people I love how much they mean to me.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Big Game

Okay team, we've got a big game today. Well, more accurately, it is exactly the same size as all of the other games, it just feels bigger. Why, you may ask? Not could have to do with what is in the water and I should know as I have been mixing random non-illegal substances into the water for months now hoping to either help us achieve more successes on the court or make us all younger and more attractive, either way really.

Anyways, this game is important and I would love if we could summon up the energy and focus needed to win or at least lose with an energy and focus that doesn't draw too much negative attention to us. I hope everyone read my series of romantic poems on summoning up energy and finding lost love this weekend and are now ready to implement it. 

It's important to love the basketball. Treat it as you would want it to treat you. If you have the chance to caress it and rub it just so without drawing the ire of the refs, then you must. That ball has given you all a chance to make a living bouncing it and throwing it. Do you understand how ridiculous that sounds? Don't anger the ball or let it think that you don't care because I'm pretty sure what you have can be taken away with a wave of a hand. And don't tell me that a ball doesn't have hands! You don't think I know that now after I checked last week when I thought no one was watching only to see it on the sports highlights that evening. 

Close your eyes for a minute guys; I want you to do a short visualization exercise with me. First, I want you to picture a dinner table with your favourite meal. This has no practical connection to today's game, I just want to see if I am able to get you to envision things on command as that may come in handy later on. Second, I want you to see yourself driving down the court with time ticking down about to take what could be the winning shot. This is your chance to be the hero, to appear on late night talk shows, to be able to upgrade your cable subscription to include more movie channels, to finally be able to afford extra shrimp when eating out. 

You are jumping and the shot is about to leave your hand and you notice your shoe lace is not only untied but is trying to communicate with you. Your laces start to sing the most beautifully romantic and timeless song you've ever heard and while you are quite impressed both with the quality of the lyrics as well as the music itself, you are also impressed that your laces both wrote these deeply emotional words and can talk at all, let alone sing in perfect harmony. You also notice yourself starting to grow concerned that you are believing that laces can do these things while millions are watching you on international sports networks. You have reached the apex of your jump and the ball has been launched and you either win the game and confetti falls from the ceiling as the cheerleaders carry you off the court or you have to make your own confetti and pay for your cousin with ingrown toenails to stand on a ladder and sprinkle it on you as well as hiring your own cheerleaders like the rest of us regular folk.

I would say just go out and put your best effort in, but I tried that with my ex-wife and that didn't stop her from running off with that underwear model. That's right men, sometimes just trying your best just isn't good enough, especially when someone else, like that model, is just better than you are. And no matter how many crunches I did, or angry phone calls I left, or promises to join a gym, eat healthier and actually wear underwear made a difference. I'm sure there is a lesson in there somewhere that you can use to motivate you in someway. 

You will be facing your toughest opponent today whether it be their star player, your own demons or that wet mop over there. Whatever you do, you can't feel sorry for your enemy at any moment or it will crush you and shatter your dreams! That's right, mop - you know I'm talking about you! For those of you with an army of personal demons, I suggest if you can't beat them; join them. I did, and that's why many of you often find me in the mop section of the local hardware store doing my best to fit in.

You only get so many chances in life to leave your mark. Do you realize how lucky you are? You are professional athletes and people out there either think you are overpaid spoiled brats or just really tiny basketball players because not everyone can afford court side seats or binoculars in this day and age. To commemorate this time together before the big game I've bought each of you a week's supply of face cream and a new hairbrush so that you can look your best even if you fall short in what is probably the end of your short-lived period of relative fame. 

In order to not look back on this game with any anger or regrets, I suggest never looking backwards at all and only looking forward. Fewer bloody gashes on your forehead that way - believe me, I know. If you find yourself overwhelmed with anger or regrets afterwards, I encourage to see Dr. Walters as she did wonders in helping me completely forget my infuriating and depressing childhood. Seriously, I can't remember anything - talk about getting your money's worth. I think I may have owned a dog but for all I know it could have been a pogo stick.

There will be moments today when you will be tempted to quit. There will be times today when you will want to cry. There may be moments you crave some really good smoked meat. And there will be moments when you will want to take that ball and shove it down that underwear model's throat, but you don't want to lose your cool or violate the court order. I want you to fight off all of these temptations and rise above and defeat your own personal demons as well as the opponents who stand in our collective way from glory. 

I have never seen or held glory and am a little lost on how tangible and three dimensional it is, but I want to know. I want to know so badly I could cry. Yes, I know I already spend much of our practice time crying. Between me and you and any hidden cameras in the room, I'd like to try bathing in the glory. My baths are getting a little lukewarm and routine and I know my mom tells me over the phone while she gambles away her savings in online poker rooms mostly due to the fact that she thinks she is playing bridge, that I should just add more hot water already, but I see that as a sign of weakness. I see lots of things that way - probably should have my prescription updated. 

From the first whistle to the last I want you to play hard. Soft playing will earn you a spot on the bench and a new plush toy. Don't worry - I have enough for everyone! If we play harder then they do, we will at least look like we are trying which helps with the sympathy vote which I am told will be conducted at 9:30 tonight at the public library- tell you friends and family. I've been led to believe that hard equals good since I was a little boy who was encouraged to ignore the clay and dirt in the backyard and, instead, to amass a collection of rocks that would help me through the tough times. I do want you to look good, not for me, and not for you, but for all of the potential endorsement dollars just waiting for you around the corner. Don't get up! That's an expression! Around that corner is just some packing tape and empty boxes. You can now get up if you'd like an empty box or two as well as some tape. Tons of fun!

In just a few short hours our season will be over and you can hit the beach or play some golf or plot some revenge on those that attempt to put you down or steal your wives right from under your nose. I had told her not to sit there! Let's put our best foot forward and then place the other foot in front of that one and continue alternating feet like at short distances in front of the other at a rapid pace until you do something I refer to as "running". I know it sounds way out there, but I believe it will work. 

The time has come. Come on men! Let's do this!