Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Up on D6


I know it's been quite some time since I've blogged anything substantial. With clerkship revving up, it's been a struggle to find the time to put anything creative to paper (metaphorically speaking). Most of the time, I'm just trying to balance life as I know it - stressing out, procrastinating, and doting on Sandlot.

Now on my first week of pediatrics, I find myself with a brief abundance of time (or rather lack of study pressure). And while I'm quaking in my boots about my soon-to-be-exposed lack of knowledge, I see myself as being faced with a simple choice: I could study to try to achieve some level of competence, or I could write a song about my time on Obstetrics & Gynaecology.

I think the choice is obvious.

At my home hospital, which we'll call "Sunnydale", the Gynaecology floor is D6. Every morning that I trekked up there, I couldn't help but let my mind wander to Far East Movement's alphabetically similar pop hit.

The inevitable result? The following lighthearted and irreverent would-be one-hit-wonder.

Poppin’ babies out of moms, like a fellow
Epidural got her out feelin’ mellow
T-A-H in O-R Nine, take that cervix
Now I’m feelin’ so fly up on D6
Up on D6, up on D6
Now I’m feelin’ so fly up on D6

Gimme that chart right now, now
Doin’ my tuck-in rounds, rounds
Ladies love my style, at OR table gettin’ wild
Get that IV runnin’, we get that drip and that drop
Now give me two more units cause you know we don’t stop

(4-1-6) Hell yeaaa
Suture up, su-suture up
Superficial vessels, they be bleedin’ like they deep
They be bleedin’ like they deep, bleedin-bleedin’ like they deep
Superficial vessels bleedin-bleedin’ like they deep

Poppin’ babies out of moms, like a fellow
Epidural got her out feelin’ mellow
T-A-H in O-R Nine, take that cervix
Now I’m feelin’ so fly up on D6
Up on D6, up on D6
Now I’m feelin’ so fly up on D6

Chillin’ on, chillin’ on High Risk, with pre-eclam-lam-tics
Girls in preterm labour, breaking water at the crib
This is how we live, every single night
Put that vacuum on the head, and let the babies fly

(4-1-6) Hell yeaaa
Suture up, su-suture up
Superficial vessels, they be bleedin’ like they deep
They be bleedin’ like they deep, bleedin-bleedin’ like they deep
Superficial vessels bleedin-bleedin’ like they deep

Poppin’ babies out of moms, like a fellow
Epidural got her out feelin’ mellow
T-A-H in O-R Nine, take that cervix
Now I’m feelin’ so fly up on D6
Up on D6, up on D6
Now I’m feelin’ so fly up on D6

It’s that breech baby bum, make you section that mum
Make you section that mum, section, section that mum
(First assist)
It’s that breech baby bum, make you section that mum
Make you section that mum, section, section that mum
(First assist)
Hell yeaaa, make you section that mum, section, section that mum
Hell yeaaa, let’s deliver that bum, deliv-deliver that bum

Poppin’ babies out of moms, like a fellow
Epidural got her out feelin’ mellow
T-A-H in O-R Nine, take that cervix
Now I’m feelin’ so fly up on D6
Up on D6, up on D6
Now I’m feelin’ so fly up on D6

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

With friends like this...


...who needs frenemies?

Kushima: So, how are things with Bandlot?

Andy: Lol, you can't remember my girlfriend's name, eh?

Kushima: Oh, right, Sandlot... lol.

Kushima: I just remember B because of [her blog name]

As always, names have been changed to protect those involved. Of course, in the real conversation, Bandlot was replaced by Sandlot, and Sandlot was replaced by a real name. Try to wrap your head around that one!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Conversations with Mello


Mello: How do you know [insert Sandlot's mutual friend's name]?

Andy: Because I'm awesome.

Andy: How do you know [insert Sandlot's mutual friend's name]?

Andy: Btw, this is you:

Andy: http://www.thedoghousediaries.com/?p=1990

Andy: The male one.

[ ...several minutes later ]

Andy: See, you're already gone.

Andy: /flush

Monday, September 6, 2010

Long Live the Grill

Sandlot tends to come up with some pretty wonkers ideas for baby nomenclature. Basically, when she has a child, that child will be ridiculed more times over their name than George Bush Jr. was compared to a monkey.

Her latest bright idea is to name her future spawn "Harvey's". That's not Harvey, like the infamous Batman villain Harvey "Two-Face" Dent. Rather, it's Harvey's, like the hamburger chain, apostrophe-"S" included. Yes, you understood that correctly - Sandlot's future spawn will be named in the grammatical possessive. What happens when Harvey's himself arises to the age of ownership? That's Harvey's's problem, I guess.

This idea isn't exactly new, although I do think it's taking an affinity for Harvey's burgers entirely too far. What is new is Sandlot's projection that Harvey's will one day meet a girl named Wendy's. I suggested that he could have multiple Wendys (one for each day of the week), but Sandlot insisted that Harvey's have a singluar Wendy's, whose named matched his own illogical possessive nomenclature. The following conversation ensued:

Andy: I don't think that there's any girl named "Wendy's".

Sandlot: Well, then I'll name my daughter that.

Andy: I think that would incest [to pair Harvey's with Wendy's].

Sandlot: Ewwww... that's not what I meant!

Followed up by...

Sandlot: I think I just made an incestuous relationship with my future son and daughter.

Andy: ...

Sandlot: Wait, that's not what I meant! Stop twisting my words!

Speaking of twisted - this is going to be one twisted family.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Previously on Facebook...

The above photo was posted by Yuffie from her summer vacation. The below discussion ensued:

Sass me, and be prepared to be sassed.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Death by car

I'm driving down Yonge Street at 1 AM. The intersection is a couple hundred metres away and the light is green. I'm in the left lane. Left of me is a left-turn lane. Left of that is a concrete island. Right of me are another lane and a right-turn lane.

Suddenly, off of the island step three men. Why would they do that? They obviously can't make it across the street before my car arrives. One steps in front of my car, looks at me, and then walks casually into the right lane... he's still standing in the middle of the road.

His two buddies stand in the left-turn lane, also in the middle of the road, indecisive. I hate jaywalkers who act as thought they own the road - as though traffic has an obligation to slow down for them. One of the two takes a step toward my lane. I gun the pedal and zoom between him and his buddy in the right lane. I imagine the whoosh of air as my car races past his face.

I swear I can hear a faint whisper of, "Fuck you, man" through the glass window pane.

Fuck you too. I know where my car is, but the maneuver must have been risky because I notice my heart is beating faster. One of these days, my insistence on guarding my right-of-way will lead to one of you fools splattered against my windshield. I will regret the police charges that follow. Don't take that step.

In the words of Goose from Top Gun, "We regret to inform you your sons are dead because they were stupid."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Men are from Mars

The difference between the male and female mind:

You hear the word "absorbent" and...


Seriously, my mind was playing a little ditty that went,

"Bounty, the quicker picker upper!"

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kicked in the balls

...the bowling balls, that is.

Not too long ago, Brutus (Turtle), Sydney, and I went bowling. We were all a little rusty on our game: Brutus confessed he was a "terrible bowler." Sydney radiated more of the "hardcore" aura since she owned her own pair of bowling shoes. I personally am a somewhat schizophrenic bowler - I have, on occasion, been really "on" my game, and at other times, immensely "off."

Anyways, that day was decidedly "off." I came embarrassingly in last place in both games we played. Brutus, on the other hand, proved deceptively adept. He lost to Sydney in the first game then came up from behind and destroyed us in the second game with a whopping 130. Two strikes lined up with two spares and a plethora of one-offs. Beginner my arse.

I came home with a high score of 97. I didn't think it was that bad, but Sandlot, being the loving girlfriend that she is, instantly derided my score. "Wow, that's your highest? So low..." She claimed that thought she hadn't bowled in many years, her average score was probably around 120. I think she confused real life with Wii Bowling. In any case, I set my new goal to destroy my significant other in bowling when the opportunity arose.

So, this past week, Sandlot and I had our first ever bowling date night. All I can say is, if I was "off" my game that night with Brutus and Syd... I was off, face-flat on the ground, and six feet under my game this night. Playing in an unfamiliar bowling alley, it took me awhile to catch a decent stride in our first game, and by that time it was too late for me to catch up, even with a spare or two. Sandlot, the bowling goddess between the two of us, had landed a couple of strikes to secure her victory.

That's okay, though. We had agreed to play best out of three. All warmed up, the second game would be a shoe in, right? Gutter. Gutter. Gutter. Gutter. Seriously, but the end of my fourth of ten rounds, I had achieved the paltry and demeaning score of 2, that is, two. What. The. Fudge?!

I managed to pick up my game for the next few rounds, leading with a spare and following up with a couple of one-offs. Sandlot's game also began to falter a bit. In the end it came down to Sandlot's final shot at victory - the score tied at 55 to 55. Much to my chagrin, she managed to hit a SINGLE FREAKING PIN and gutter the rest. 56 to 55. I lost.

I'd like to say that with a pathetic and puny little score like 56, Sandlot is not really in a position to judge my now lofty looking 97. That's what I'd like to say, but I cannot. Broken and defeated, I can only admit that Sandlot, between the two of us, is bowling lord, lady, and goddess. She's also wonderful, intelligent, attractive, witty (in a punishingly sarcastic manner), entertaining, tall, and I want ass sausage.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Quarter-life crisis

The term quarter-life crisis was actually coined to describe those among the younger generation who, given vast access to education and choices, emerged on the other side with little inkling of that which they wanted to devote the rest of their lives too - directionless and afloat.

Indeed, the term seems invariably to require some explanation when used, because unlike a mid-life crisis, you don't often see 20-somethings buying a Porche to recapture their youth. Yet, at the core of the quarter-life crisis is a similar problem. Where the 40-something year old pauses and exclaims, "My life is half over! What have I done with my life?!" the 20-something year old pauses and exclaims, "My life is a quarter over! What am I going to do with my life?!"

Of course, allowing the term quarter-life crisis apply to 20-somethings defines fairly implicit expectations. For instance, if you say a quarter-life crisis occurs at 20, we're expecting our youth to live to approximately 80. If you apply it to a 25 year old, you expect them to live to approximately 100.

This struck me recently as I was pondering the direction of my life. See, like most young people, I seldom stop to think about my own mortality nor to question my own longevity. I've always assumed as a young, healthy 20-something in the upper-middle class, I would live well into my 80's and possibly even 90's.

But as I stopped to think about my life today, I realized something. I'm stressed. I'm stressed all the freaking time. I stress out about the smallest and most inconsequential things in life. Then, when it comes to the things that I truly care about - friends, family, relationships, school, and my upcoming USMLE exam... I sweat buckets. I stress out constantly and chronically, such that I can feel the blood vessels in my brain contracting and expanding into tiny little aneurysmal pockets of joy. If stress ages you, I must be at least 35.

I started wondering if maybe I should be adjusting my life-expectancy downward, perhaps somewhere into the 70's. My new life plan goes something like this:
  1. School until 26.
  2. Residency until 31.
  3. Fellowship +/- 1-2 years.
  4. Work 30-35 years.
  5. Promptly die.
It's scary to think about, but if a killer illness hasn't claimed me by my 60's and 70's, there's a reasonable chance that my brain will be on its way to demented-ville.

I think I'm having my one-third-life crisis.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cooking with the Force

Some time ago, I blogged about my being potentially model boyfriend material. Unfortunately, these boyfriendly skills did not include meal preparation. Sandlot, as a caring girlfriend, sought to rectify this and bought me for my birthday this wonderful Star Wars Cookbook. This is, for all intents and purposes, a children's cookbook. One can only imagine that Sandlot thought this would be a good way to get me to cook for her place to start my cooking education.

Last month, I visited Sandlot in her current university town for a week. I decided to put my newly minted Force powers to work and spend the week cooking edible (hopefully) meal-things for her. It was, for the most part, a great success; though I am not a Jedi yet. Behold, the fruits of my labours:

As hot as the twin suns of Tatooine, the planet where Luke Skywalker grew up, Twin Sun Toast involved two eggs dropped into holes in a slice of bread and then fried. It was the first item I tried from the book, kicking things off with breakfast. I think maybe the bread slice needed to be wider and the holes bigger because the eggs wouldn't fry all the way through without flipping. As such, the fried eggs ended up looking mangled rather than two nice suns.

Greedo burritos, named after the bounty hunter slagged by Han Solo at the Mos Eisley Cantina in A New Hope, called for black beans. We decided to omit these from our own burrito creations. Okay, so these soft tacos are actually Ol Del Paso fare and don't follow the recipe at all. Sue me.

Oola-la french toast, named after Jabba's head-tail adorned slave girl (who met an untimely end at the hands of his Rancor), called for a single egg and a variety of spices. While it may not look like much, it was damn tasty. So tasty in fact, that I made it twice that week and Sandlot later asked me for the recipe so she could recreate them herself.

Boba Fett-uccine, named after my favourite bounty hunter (who George Lucas made into a whiny little boy in his prequel films), was a vegetarian pasta. I could believe that the galaxy's finest headhunter would be eponymous with a food lacking meat, but the pasta actually turned out incredibly tasty. While I snub my nose at vegans and such, this fettuccine was surprisingly flavourful, owing in no small part to how great the broccoli was. However, I made way too much.

Wookie cookies, named after the race of hairy creatures from which Chewbacca hails, were basically just chocolate chip. However, owing perhaps to the cinnamon called for in the recipe, they had a very distinct flavour and were actually quite enjoyable. Sandlot played around with the recipe by introducing blueberries into a select few of the cookies. Most people avoided those.

Finally, this omelette was my own creation. Yes, padawans, it wasn't in the Star Wars cookbook. Four years of eating at the Queen's cafeteria taught me a thing or two about great omelettes, and I guarantee you these suckers were superb. I might have overdone it at three eggs apiece though. The whole week probably provided enough eggs (and cholesterol) for a month. I'll have to be a little wiser about what I cook next time.

Still, overall my first week of cookery was a whopping success. +1 for my quest to become a model boyfriend?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Rice Nation Planet

E: I didn't really like the guy though. He was one of those people that liked to drive around in fancy cars with the windows rolled down blasting rap music.

A: Wait, I know what kind of car you're talking about... that's not a "fancy" car.

M: What kind of car?

A: You're talking about a rice rocket! That's not a fancy car...

E: Lol... rice rocket. But this guy was brown.

A: Well, I don't know, a curry rocket?

E: Haha!

M: Curry rocket?

E: Well, I guess brown people eat rice too...

E & A: Basmati rice!

E: Hehehe... Basmati rice rocket.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

TL; DR

Lately, I've cut down on blogging. I've set this new tempo intentionally, even refraining from blogging at times. It was my motive not only to save time for myself, but also to give some breathing room for those of you who read and comment.

It was to my chagrin, as I lamented on a post with a particular dearth of comments, that I discovered people desired a decrease in word-burden, not blog-burden. While I know that my summer entries have been far to skewed toward video games, Stewie presented another reason for the lack of commentary - TL; DR.

Apparently, this is an web-acronym for "too long; didn't read." /sigh

Maybe I should stick to a picture blog.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Window blindness

So my parents are technologically illiterate. This is especially true of my mother. In fact, I think it should be illegal for my Mom to come within ten feet of an electronic device. However, she's become accustomed to many of the latitudes afforded to modern society by this invention we know as the Internet (such as E-mail).

The problem is, she can't use a computer to save her life. She doesn't know what to look for when scanning a web page or a program window, she can't adapt to even the most mundane of unexpected events (e.g. yes/no pop-up prompts), and she looks to me to help her.

This leads to moments every day where my Mom comes banging on my door yelling the Chinese equivalent of "WTF?!" followed by something like "How come I can't print?" or "What's this thing? Update? Not update? This computer is stupid!" or, in this case, "What's wrong with the computer, everything is in French?"

Invariably, I have to haul myself off my ass, go downstairs for the umpteenth time only to glance at the page and click THE BIG FREAKING BLUE "ENGLISH" BUTTON on the incredibly sparse page. Seriously. No, seriously. This happens all the time.

Believe it or not, my Mom actually has a Computer Science degree. Of course, that was from back when wall-sized computers were programmed using punched cards.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I write like JB

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!


Today's Toronto Star introduced a website entitled "I Write Like." The site analyzes any text that you put into it and uses keywords to map your writing style to that of a famous author. Based on my latest entry, I write like David Foster Wallace, some American author who wrote a whole bunch of things that I've never read.

My girlfriend, Sandlot, apparently also writes like David Foster Wallace, "full of irony and self-created acronyms and abbreviations and long-winded sentences." I guess that's what makes us such a power couple. Birds of a feather, right?

Well, we do have similar writing styles... sort of.

Or maybe he's a default.

What's more disconcerting is that Justin Bieber's hit song Baby also channels David Foster Wallace (I'm sure that would be disconcerting for the late Mr. Wallace as well). While I'm sure JB doesn't write his own material, being associated with a prepubescent pop star doesn't sit well with me... although, this would explain why I like that song so much.

Luckily my Bieber association doesn't have to stick. The site admits limited accuracy with only 50 or so authors to compare with and no measure for the degree of correlation. Site founder Dmitry Chestnykh confesses:

I think that people really like to know how they write, even if it's not accurate results.

I think a statement like that makes us all suckers for trying this site.



Addendum: Apparently, the above entry reads like Dan Brown.

Addendum2: Tally of ten most recent Chronicle entries:
  • Cory Doctorow - 5
  • David Foster Wallace - 2
  • Dan Brown - 1
  • Vladimir Nobokov - 1
  • Stephen King - 1

Friday, July 16, 2010

Does this make me a xenophiliac?

Photo credit: Mass Effect Wiki

So I just finished barreling through BioWare's latest science fiction epic, Mass Effect 2. While the game provides numerous junctions at which the player can make small choices, the most intriguing (as in Dragon Age: Origins) was the protagonist's choice of romantic partner.

Male versions of the heroic Commander Shepherd have three options on which to focus their courtship: the down-to-business and initially cold-hearted Miranda, the extra-terrestrial Tali, and the foul-mouthed convict Jack.

Jack, a psycho-killer bitch with tattoos running the length of her body was an automatic out - particularly since I ended up having to choose early on between her and Miranda. Jack might have been fair romantic game for more adventurous gamers... Stewie perhaps?

Miranda seemed a perfect win. Voiced and modeled after the smoking hot Yvonne Strahovski (Sarah Walker from the TV series Chuck), she was the first character Shepherd met in the game and was responsible for bringing him back to life from his untimely demise at the hands of an unknown alien menace. Furthermore, she sported a sexy Australian accent, she was genetically engineered for both combat prowess and the aforementioned smoking hotness, she walked with swagger, and she blew through battles wearing ass-accentuating spandex and high heels (okay, the high heels were actually a bit of a turn off... but I imagine for many people it would not be). Indeed Shepherd spent most of the game getting to know Miranda, and Miranda had all but given the wink wink nudge nudge by the time Tali joined his crew.

Enter Tali. Tali was an alien engineer as well as one of only two companions to reprise their role on Shepherd's crew from the first Mass Effect. As such, bringing her on board felt like bringing back a long-lost friend, and the interactive dialogue suggested as much. Tali, however, is hardly what one would consider a sensual character. First of all, she's rather shy and awkward, unlike the assertive Miranda. While she's humanoid in form, she also only has three fingers and three toes per hand or foot, respectively. Her race of aliens has such a weak immune system that they have to wear environmental protection suits at all times - the Mass Effect equivalent to the bubble boy. What her skin or face looks like is a complete unknown. She could be a five tentacles squid-face under that mask (her species name "Quarian" is indeed uncomfortably similar to the "Quarren" of the Star Wars universe). As if that weren't bad enough, kissing or making love to Shepherd could result in her contracting an infection severe enough to kill her, requiring that she load up on antibiotics and immunomodulators before engaging in any hanky panky - talk about taking the spontaneity out of a relationship!

While Tali is a returning character from the first game, she was never a contender for Shepherd's affections (though I had previously considered that she should be). He was too distracted by his gunnery chief Ashley Williams and the blue-skinned and bisexual Liara T'soni. However, when Tali returned for Mass Effect 2, Shepherd's ship counselor gave him the heads up that Tali's body language indicated that she was out for more than just friendship.

Let's break it down then:

Door #1: Smoking hot Australian girl who Shepherd has been courting for the whole game and has already said yes to him.

VS.

Door #2: Socially awkward immuno-compromised alien with only six fingers. Could die from sex.

Yet, as straightforward as this decision seemed, I found myself vacillating from one to the other. When push came to shove, Miranda was a barely compelling character who seemed transparently placed in my crew to a) kill things and b) be sexy. She had very little meaningful dialogue and even less in the order of meaningful personality.

Shepherd's idea of a pickup line for Miranda came while she was brooding about how she was nothing but the sum of genetic engineering experiments and how her body and talents were not earned. Shepherd threw in something along the lines of, "So I'm not allowed to admire your body or your talents? You're great because of how you choose to live, not where you come from."

She tossed back a fantasy win, "Wow, thank you. Nobody's ever said anything like that to me before, and maybe I wouldn't mind if you admired my body." /gag

Tali, on the other hand, had loads of character. She was defiant in the face of danger, loyal to her family and friends, and awkwardly adorable in her banter (in real life, this is one of Sandlot's many charming traits). Dialogue with her felt warm and familiar, and she often invoked adventures she and Shepherd had braved together in the original Mass Effect.

Having Shepherd choose between Miranda and Tali felt like a choice between lusty good times and potential true love. Tali was an alien with immune issues and an unknown face. Did she even have the requisite... parts? What she and Shepherd did have, however, was chemistry. Miranda on the other hand had the face of a Hollywood actress, an alluring Australian accent (I cannot overemphasize this!), and was willing to strip down and dry hump Shepherd in the engine room. Could I really deprive him of that?

In the end, I threw hotness to the wind and paired Shepherd with Tali - she just had so much more character. Shepherd went to tell Miranda that it was over, and to be honest, she didn't seem too broken up about it. "Oh, I'm sorry that you feel that way. Still, it's probably better this way. Simpler. Strictly professional." We'll see if I regret this when my decisions get imported to Mass Effect 3. If Yvonne Strahovski steps it up a notch in the sequel, I may need to change Shepherd's mind.


Martin Sheen and Yvonne Strahovski?! Watch for more.

On the plus side, choosing Tali is not the weirdest possible outcome. Female versions of Commander Shepherd can have sex with Garrus. /gag

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Codenames, aliases, and call-signs

Sandlot recently tweeted that her codename in militarized alphabet would be Tango Tango. This got me thinking about all the codenames I'd taken over the years. No, I'm not a super-spy, just a hardcore gamer.

Growing up on games in the 90's, it was typical to use an alias of some kind for multiplay. I think it was somewhat built into geek culture to have some kind of alternate online persona. Hackers did it. ZModem text-based RPG players did it. My brother and I did it.

The popularity of aliases is not just rooted in anonymity - it's also rooted in pop culture. First of all, there is a kind of distinct power in being branded with an alternate persona. Think of Dwayne Johnson of WWF, popularly known only as "The Rock." There is a legitimate coolness and intimidation factor to being known only by a forceful alias.

Secondly, gamers like to take on the mantle of the fighter and the hero. Oftentimes, this is done so under the allure of a military or fantasy setting. Military order is exciting. Military culture is cool. Enter then the concept of the "call-sign." Call-signs are aliases used by pilots in the air force and in numerous fictional settings. Take for instance the 1986 classic Top Gun. Tom Cruise's "Maverick" butting horns with Val Kilmer's "Iceman" while the comical wingman "Goose" provided witty banter. Every little boy imagined having their own call-sign emblazoned on their helmet, and every little boy was inspired by the fast-flying fighter jets and military honour code. Heck, I'll never leave my wingman behind.

Thirdly, aliases are an outlet for imagination and expression. My brother, for as long as I can remember has run under the alias of Peregrine. Oh, the years I spent being blown to bits, fragged, and gunned down by this very name. Peregrine refers to a type of falcon, and falcon is a raptor - a bird of prey. My brother was a predator. There was something mystical about this deep and hidden meaning behind the name. When Peregrine was not available, my brother occasionally defaulted to Merlin as a call-sign. This referred not to the mystical wizard of Arthurian lore, but rather another type of falcon.

...

My own childhood was much more schizophrenic. I settled not on a single alias, but constantly invented new personas: Neon, Cateye, White Griffin, Bloodline - each tackier than the last. They were, in many ways, the evolution of my creative juices.

Neon was the first name that stuck with me, and was used throughout the majority of my youth. It was not an invention, but stolen from the Chrysler vehicle of the same name. This didn't stop me from making it my own. In elementary school, I produced an entire backstory to the Neon persona including short stories, drawings, comics, and even a supporting cast.

Cateye was a short lived title, inspired by a sticker set from the bicycle headlight brand of the same name. I used it in video games around the time that I was into physical forms of play such as mock sword-fighting with plastic swords. I would go out into the backyard and find sword or dagger-shaped sticks, painting them with elaborate decor including the name Cateye. I guess I was very tribal at this age.

White Griffin was a long and cumbersome name I used around the time that Transformers: Beast Wars first began airing. I really liked the white tiger character and played around with a variety of aliases that involved white animals, such as White Siberian and White Griffin. In many ways this was my attempt to emulate my brother's animalistic Peregrine alias. I was, as a child, quite envious of it. I also used White Griffin as a springboard to create a "secret club" of sorts in which I enlisted my next door neighbour and best friends. I even made little ID cards with our aliases on them. That didn't last long.

Bloodline was a return of my original Neon character, probably around Grade 7-8. He was the sequel, and I actually drew up a fairly nice looking set of mock trading cards featuring him and his enemies. Again, short lived.

...

As an adult, I've finally settled into a gaming persona with some permanence. It's not stolen off a car brand or a sticker or inspired by sibling rivalry. Warden, the final iteration of my gaming alias is a rearrangement of the letters in my first name, Andrew. It's also intended to carry with it the imagery of a guardian or warrior.

When I first started gaming with J-Rock, he recoiled at the codename Warden. He pictured it to be some mundane station, like a park ranger or prison guard. This reaction surprised me, as I had not stopped to consider that these would be the most common images conjured by the average person's mind.

Warden, to me, was a powerful image. It's an oft used term in fantasy games to portray an order of powerful guardians. For instance the Night Elf wardens in the Warcraft universe or the Grey Wardens in Dragon Age. Additionally, I could recall the term being portrayed similarly in military fiction or science fiction settings. Finally, wardens in real life (and outside of the prison) are often persons of supervisory or governing roles - an elite and aristocratic terminology.

So remember the next time you're fragged by Tango Tango and Warden - the Warden is an elite warrior, not a park official.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Jaundiced!

Yesterday, my girlfriend Sandlot took the liberty of PhotoShop tweaking one of the pictures she took of me last week. The product came with a warning:

Sandlot: It might look saturated on your comp... because for some reason all my pictures look saturated on your comp.

Andy: I look like I have jaundice...

Sandlot: Yeah, I'm a PhotoShop n00b, mkayyy? This is the first time I've actually used these functions. You can desaturate it.

Andy: Haha, I don't know how to do that!

Sandlot: Really? You don't? I thought you were a PhotoShop pro.

Andy: Well, I usually don't saturate my photos...

Sandlot: HAHA!

Andy: Besides, I try to avoid altering colours, because it'll probably end up green.

It's true. With a mild case of red-green deficiency, tweaking colours that aren't labeled can be dangerous. I learned this in Grade 8 art class when I ended up mixing a perfectly "normal" looking skin tone (to my eyes) that turned out to be green. I learned it again in Grade 9 when I made a Flash movie with an unintentionally green Pikachu.

Even so, I decided to open my PhotoShop and take corrective action. I opened the Color/Saturation menu and given the cue that the picture was too "saturated" I decreased the Saturation. This was a pretty safe bet since this would reduce the intensity of the colour without altering the colours themselves. (I steered hard away from the Hue slider, since I didn't want to turn myself green or purple) I stopped when the skin intensity seemed about right with the caveat that I was taking a bit of a chance on the colour (seriously, fleshy tones are my enemy). I sent it back to Sandlot:

Andy: Here, I think I fixed it.

Sandlot: You sepia'd yourself...

Andy: No, I didn't! My shirt is still blue, and my hair is still black.

Sandlot: Well, you made yourself almost black and white.

Andy: You crazy, or your compy is... one or the other.

Sandlot: No, you are. What did you do? You took all the colour out! This is not your skin tone at all. Maybe it's because you're colourblind.

Aside from how uncool as it is to constantly invoke my colour impairment as an excusatory argument, my desaturated image is not sepia. While I admit that the skin tone may not match mine (I can't tell all that well), I certainly didn't suck all the colour out of it. For reference, I've added a copy that's actually been cast in sepia.

Readers, what do you think? Whose computer monitor (or eyes) are broken? Do I look like a sickly jaundiced inpatient through door number 1? Do I look like a colourless sepia'd fiend through door number 2? Does door number 2 look like door number 3? Let us know.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Andpire will strike back!


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Hello friends, I hope that you have all been enjoying this super-hot summer weather. I've spent it more or less between hardcore gaming and logging quality time with my lovely girlfriend, Sandlot. I apologize for my MIA-ness and would like to assure you that I have not forgotten that I do have a blog. More entries will follow.

Until then, enjoy this lovely Domo rendition of Scenes 337-338 of Star Wars: A New Hope. I spent the whole afternoon productively working on it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

In an Age of Dragons

Why do we seek out fiction? The answer is escape. Whether through books, television, movies, or video games, fiction allows us to escape our own mundane lives and live vicariously through others. In doing so, we immerse ourselves in another world - one similar enough to our own to be relatable but different enough to be fantastical. Finely crafted fiction allows the audience to "temporarily suspend their disbelief" and accept the story as though it were reality. We grow attached to the characters who we are following, through which we experience feats that are exciting and oftentimes heroic. We become invested in them and their struggles as though we know them, and when the story ends we're both blissfully grateful for the journey and yet feel simultaneously empty that it's over. The character, were they alive, would venture on. We, the audience, feel left out. It's likely this reason that book series have such appeal. Returning for the next chapter of the characters' lives in a finely crafted world feels like revisiting an old friend - one that we are loathe to say goodbye to with finality.

The worlds of fiction are so compelling for escape because of their sensational nature. Fiction, while natural feeling, is life compressed. Sleep, bathroom breaks, and idle time are removed (if they serve no narrative purpose). We experience life distilled down to its most meaningful. In doing so, even the most mundane biography becomes epic. We revel in love and romance that may be no more inspired than our own, yet it feels magical because it stumbles from one intimate moment to the next, with no breaks for the slower times in life. In this way, no real life can live up to fiction. We become addicted to the action-packed pace of life retold - life from concentrate.

There are numerous ways to increase the dramatic involvement of the audience, usually at the expense of imagination. For instance, visual media such as movies and television actively present your senses with a world of fiction and fantasy. Your emotions are further manipulated by the addition of auditory stimuli and mood-appropriate soundtracks. This presents another reason why real life feels more mundane than fiction: because there is no soundtrack to your life.

Video games present the ultimate promise. Where other forms of fiction give you the feeling that you've experienced a bit of someone else's life, make you feel like you know them, and leave you feeling like you might want to be friends with them (how many children wanted to meet Spider-Man or date Sailor Moon or catch their own Pikachu?), video games offer the opportunity to be part of the story, to meet and interact with these fictional characters, and to play the hero.

Until recently, however, video games have been viewed as an inferior medium for storytelling. With simple plots and substandard acting, the interactivity often came at the expense of the quality of the emotional experience. However, as the video game industry strives toward an increasingly cinematic experience, its potential as an emotionally involving fictitious experience seems unrivaled.

From time to time, you may have heard me gushing about the sweeping space opera Mass Effect. This shooter-RPG from development studio BioWare had an incredible setting, fantastic voice-work, and engaging story and gameplay. I played it three times. Three times.

But for the last week if not more, I've been locked away in my room, pulling all nighters, bleeding my eyes out trying to finish BioWare's (almost) new fantasy epic Dragon Age: Origins. Whatever impressions I had about storytelling in Mass Effect were completely blown away by Dragon Age.

So fantastic was the setting, that I genuinely felt like the world of Ferelden was one that existed. Everywhere I traveled in that world, people spoke as though it were a vast and real world. Even places I would not have the opportunity to visit in the scope of this game had fully fleshed out cultures and backstories and lore. The characters, particularly my companions, felt so real and so memorable that I genuinely enjoyed conversing with them. I'd often feel disappointed when I would return to camp to speak with my comrades and they would have nothing new to say to me. So engaging was the world that I expended serious thought and contemplation deciding which road to take and what decision to make.

Everything felt so believable that sometimes the little things, which in other games of lower caliber would have been entirely unremarkable, gave me pause. Why was I going into people's homes and stealing from their chests - particularly the poor? How did I get captured, escape, and return only to have my companions greet me with the same dialogue as though I had never been gone? These types of qualms demonstrate that the world of Dragon Age was so immersive that the expectations for character behaviour were almost on par with those in the real world - an experience that no movie could provide.

My girlfriend, Sandlot, will no doubt read the above paragraphs with disapproval. She will, inevitably, shake her head at my overzealous involvement with this fictional world. She will, possibly, question her boyfriend's grasp on reality. She may, briefly, contemplate whether she can stay with such an awkwardly geeky boy. In response to these protestations, my response is as follows:

Fiction involves us. As I learned in high school drama, the performer seeks in the audience the "willful suspension of disbelief" - the ability to, for the duration of the performance, drink in the fictional setting as real, despite the foreknowledge that they are sitting in a theatre or in a living room or at a desk. A good performance is able to make worlds, people, and events come to life. It's able to engage our imaginations and allow us to whimsically dream about greeting aliens or fighting dragons. A good audience is able to put their disbelief on hold an step into that setting.

In many ways, fiction is in fact practice - practice for the real world. It allows us to observe human behaviour from the artists' point of view. Believable fiction teaches us about the world and about people, while at the same time showing us landscapes and events that are improbable if not impossible. It's an enigmatic paradox.

Around Halloween this year, an article appeared in the newspaper postulating that our fascination with fictional monsters - Dracula, Frankenstein, zombies, etc. - was in fact a sign of the safety of our society. When we hear scary stories and we watch frightening movies, we get an adrenaline rush and we desensitize ourselves to the fear. We do this because genuine threats to our survival are few and far between. But by tackling our fear response in this manner we train ourselves for those situations. Nobody, as the article posited, wants to be the boy who runs away in a pinch leaving his girlfriend to fend for herself. Unprecedented situations can lead to unpredictable reflexes.

So, it's perfectly normal (adaptive even) to take fiction with a little bit of seriousness and a little bit of emotional investment. This also increases the level of entertainment and makes both the performer and the audience satisfied.

Now that I've properly justified my investment in this game, we're ready to talk about the experience itself. BioWare billed Dragon Age as a "dark fantasy epic." Dark was meant to imply a mature, adult experience. Epic was meant to imply a grand, sweeping story. I dismissed this as public relations fluff. No doubt "mature" was meant to refer to frivolities such as the persistent blood that stains your characters even after you're done fighting (a feature which I quickly switched off - I preferred my armour shiny and my loved ones neat, not gory) or the sexual encounters with other romantic (or casual) love interests that were possible. I was, however, quite wrong. Dragon Age did feel both appropriately mature and incredibly epic. The storytelling and acting occurred on a level unprecedented in gaming to date.

One of the features that BioWare, as a veteran producer of role-playing games, championed with Dragon Age was choice - the ability to make decisions that genuinely affected the outcome for not only your character, but for the world. Again, I dismissed this as a frivolity. The same thing was said about Mass Effect, but only a few decisions had genuinely meaningful consequences, and the story always converged. Yet in Dragon Age, the decisions you were forced to make were everywhere - some small, some big, some ideological. They coloured the world you lived in, how people reacted to you, and appeared to be referenced in the subtlest of ways. The world really felt alive. I thought a good way to express how exciting this game would be to describe some of these decision points.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Let us begin with the love story, because love is a topic which is of universal human interest. My character, Andy Cousland, had the option of pursuing romances with two of his companions (though not simultaneously): the pious bard with a jaded past, Leliana; or the cold-hearted mage, Morrigan. Andy opted to woo Morrigan, brilliantly voiced by Claudia Black (Farscape, Stargate SG-1). Morrigan was a far more interesting character, but it was far more difficult to win her affections. I played Andy as a heroic and moral character. Morrigan was pragmatic - she valued power and survival. She didn't approve of going out of one's way to help others, she often disapproved when Andy turned down moral plea bargains by villains, and she was certainly not one to be doted on. Despite her cold demeanour and utilitarian attitudes, she was hilariously sarcastic. Her battles of wit with Andy's other companions were by far the most entertaining of companion interactions. She also hid underneath an unexpected sensitivity, and it took much patience getting to know her and warming her approval of Andy before this became apparent. She liked pretty things, and was hopelessly torn once she fell in love with the protagonist. Such feelings of affection were completely foreign to her - she felt it was weakness to have her feelings so desperately tied to another, and she begged him to end it between them, though at the same time unwilling or unable to truly desire this outcome. "You selfish bastard!" she would exclaim. "You're going to regret this... I'm going to regret this... but maybe that's the way it's meant to be." Indeed, few of Andy's other companions approved of their union. All suspected some ulterior motive.

They were not wrong, however. When it came time to slay the mighty "old god", or dragon who led the creatures known as darkspawn, it became clear that Andy would have to sacrifice his life in order to terminate this mighty being. Morrigan came to Andy with a ritual - they would conceive a child, and the spirit of the old god would be channeled into the zygote. Where such a transfer would kill an adult like Andy, the zygote would survive... changed. In exchange, Morrigan would raise the child alone and never be seen again.

Of course, this was a bitter outcome. On behalf of my character, I felt used and discarded. I had Andy agree to the joining, because I knew that if I did not, she would suggest it with another of my characters, Alistair. The idea of that turned my stomach. Yet, despite all things said and done, Morrigan paused in the midst of the final battle of the game to uncharacteristically open up and bare her feelings. While she acknowledged that she had complicated her purpose in seeking Andy out by developing legitimate feelings for him, she could not bring herself to regret what they had shared. She loved him, and had hurt herself by what she knew she must do.

In the end, she took off as promised, staying only to complete the final battle with him. During the epilogue, Andy was asked what he planned to do now. Would he stay and help his friend Alistair, who had become king? Would he help to rebuild the order of knights of which he was the last remaining? In some way, I felt duty bound to help Alistair, who had kingship thrust upon him by my doing and with whom Andy had found a close and earnest friend. However, I instead led my character to strike out in the world in search of Morrigan, knowing full well that she did not want to be found. Perhaps, if Andy found her at all, she would feel obligated to strike him down dead, with tears in her eyes. But still, translating my personal beliefs into my game character, I could not help but shirk off everything in the pursuit of true love.

Another game-changing choice appeared with the aforementioned companion, Alistair. Alistair was a royal bastard and Andy and his allies presented him as a legitimate heir to the throne against the villain, Mac Tir Loghain. Loghain was a legendary general who betrayed the king and seized the throne. Eventually, Andy defeated Loghain in honourable combat.

He was given the choice to spare Loghain's life, in which case Loghain would have become one of his companions - a legendary general humbled back into line. Upon defeat, seeing Andy's resolve, he regained his wits and returned to the patriotic, caring tone for which the people loved him. He was repentant. He certainly would prove a useful ally. What I did not foresee, however, was that Alistair would not accept Loghain's surrender. Having betrayed the king, tortured his own people, and hunted down Andy's party throughout the whole game, Loghain was beyond redemption in Alistair's eyes. Sparing him would mean that Alistair, Andy's friend, would leave, bitter and betrayed. Killing Loghain would mean the loss of one of the nation's great heroes, simply gone astray. I bid Andy remove Loghain's head himself. I cringed as I watched.

There was, in fact, a way to spare both Alistair and Loghain. However, Andy would have needed to spent every conversation with Alistair "hardening" him - using his position of influence to strip him of his firm moral convictions, his inflexible sense of justice, and his faith in the Maker. Being of a similar character myself, I had not, and if I could go back, I would not, do this.

There were plenty of other situations that challenged my moral judgment in shades of grey - particularly in down and dirty dwarven politics. (See? Even in video games politics get a piece of my mind!) Should I support the tyrannical and power-hungry heir take the throne so his progressive and no-nonsense policies can see the light of day? Or should I support his father's general's bid for the throne - an honest man but with conservative values which would keep dwarven society isolated and living in the stone age (quite literally). I chose the former, and was quite horrified when the new king's first decree was the execution of his rival.

Should I support one hero's bid to destroy the means to create golems (powerful warriors made of rock) he invented because the cost (dwarven souls) is too great? Or should I support another hero's bid to reclaim golem technology despite the tortuous means of creating these weapons (and the disapproval of most of my companions)? I chose to support my war effort by reclaiming golem technology, then I lied to my golem companion about what really went down so that it wouldn't desert me. I felt kind of bad about that too. At least Morrigan approved.

In the end, Dragon Age provided an immersive and believable fantasy environment. The characters proved lovable and complex, and the story was appropriately epic. More importantly, the choices that your character is forced to make are both ubiquitous and deep. They proved more intricate than a mere style choice of good versus evil, but presented the world in realistic shades of grey. Additionally, few choices came without consequences, and it was the damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don't catch-22 situations that really gave reason to pause and think.

The game's epilogue sheds some light on the consequences of some of your heroic actions. For instance, enlisting the elves gives them respect with the humans for a time. Previously, a richly cultured race, elves were conquered and enslaved by humans and subsequently emancipated but remain highly discriminated against. Their assistance in your quest gives them a reprieve from this, however it does not last long. Only the stalwart elven leader keeps racial tensions at bay. It is a story that is sadly reflective of many real world struggles such as those in South Africa, where apartheid ended, but racial tension is again high - possibly because of Nelson Mandela's presidential absence.

More than 24 hours after finishing the game, it still remains in my thoughts as I continue to ponder this incredibly personal journey and the consequences of those choices.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Citizen of the Domo Nation

DomoNation.com: Domo does Long Distance (fullsize)


Like it? Create your own at DomoNation.com. It's free and fun!

Who is this mysterious creature that was hatched from an egg? Upon closer inspection we see that his monster-like features conceal a gentle soul with a body of pure fluff. Domo just can't stop watching television. Is this a problem? Perhaps it is if you're already a sloppy creature whose daydreams often lead to disasters. Be careful not to disturb Domo as he sometimes farts when upset.

via domonation.com

What is Domo? Until last week, he was a cute but nameless cosplay at Fan Expo, poised to eat a little child. But then, a couple of Saturdays ago, something magical happened - I won a Domo stuffed animal for Sandlot via the whack-a-mole at Wonderland.

I've never known a winner before...

Suddenly, we were interested in Domo. Who was he? What was he? Was he poo? Was he an alien? Of course, after watching his 7-Eleven slurpee ads on YouTube, we were sold that Domo was the new greatest character on the planet.

The next day, Sandlot confessed to me that she had spent the whole morning watching Domo videos on domonation.com and that she had been tempted to sign up for an account so that she could animate him. What had stopped her was that she had noted a profile picture of one of the users and he looked like the was twelve years old.

Well, that didn't stop me.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The worst controller ever


...is not having one.

Kinect (formerly known as Project Natal) is Microsoft's answer to the Wii and entry point into the casual gaming market. It offers camera-based control of your XBox360, so you can just wave your hands in the air. The only problem is... why the fudge would I want to pretend I'm holding a steering wheel made out of air? It was hard enough with the Wii wheel for MarioKart where the wheel wasn't connected to an axle.

What could be cool for Kinect is this - not waving at the air, but incorporating real-life objects. In an early concept, they showed a boy scanning his real skateboard with the camera and then applying his real-life decorations to the in-game skateboard. However, he was still ended up pretending to ride a skateboard made out of air. What would make this system really unique is scanning real life items and then using them. So for Tiger Woods PGA Tour, you could hold and swing your real golf club, and not some clumsy Wiimote, and your game would use those movements and that club in-game. Pretend I'm holding an imaginary gun? No thanks.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's a cardigan

Earlier today...

J-Rock: Hey, is that a new shirt?

Andy: No?

J-Rock: I mean... new... vest...?

Andy: You mean cardigan?

J-Rock: Yeah, whatever, I don't know fashion terms.

Later, after describing the event to Mello...

J-Rock: Whatever, I don't wear cardigans!

Andy: But you do realize that vests have no sleeves, right?

J-Rock: I don't know, I don't wear vests!

Andy: Wouldn't it have made more sense to call it like a sweater?

J-Rock: No! I don't wear sweaters either, okay?!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Now seeking membership


Seriously, how do I achieve membership in this club? What if I rock the set of Jersey Shore: Version Yellow Fever?

Despite spamming Jimmy Kimmel's mailbox, I have yet to hear back regarding my membership application. This seems tragically unfair in light of my great ass and piercing brown eyes. As such, I can only make the following conclusion as to why I have not yet been voted in as handsome: white supremacism.

That's right, the only thing holding me back from the hottest in-crowd since the Justice League (apparently writing a mean blog doesn't qualify as a superpower... I beg to differ) is the colour of my skin. Allow me to demonstrate by reviewing HMC's membership roster:
  • Patrick Dempsey (White)
  • Rob Lowe (White)
  • Matthew McConaughey (White)
  • John Krasinski (White)
  • Tony Romo (White)
  • Keith Urban (White)
  • Ethan Hawke (White)
  • Josh Hartnett (White)
  • Sting (White)
  • Ted Danson (White)
  • Matt Damon (White)
  • Ben Affleck (White)
  • Gilles Marini (White... and French)
  • Taye Diggs (Token Black dude)
  • Lenny Kravitz (According to Sandlot, almost White)
At final count, HMC includes thirteen (fifteen if you include Jimmy Kimmel and George Clooney) white folk of varying ages, the token brother, and one half-Jewish/half-Bahamian rock star. God bless America.

If you, like me, are brought to tears by this injustice, please support me by signing my petition to Mr. Jimmy Kimmel that I be forthwith and without delay inducted into the Handsome Men's Club.


...

For those of you who, like me, are not walking encyclopedias of pop culture, the Ben Affleck and Matt Damon bits at the end of the video refer to a recurring Jimmy Kimmel joke and a faux-rivalry between Kimmel and Damon. Damon allegedly stole away with Kimmel's long-time girlfriend Sarah Silverman (and announced it via song), and in retaliation Kimmel boned Damon's brother-from-another-mother Ben Affleck (also announced via song). I guess Ben's wife Jennifer Garner has been rolled into complicity. Click here to watch the musical rivalry unfold!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Do you know the muffin man?

In 2009, Allan Detsky, an internist at the University of Toronto wrote a (partially facetious) JAMA article on the Art of Pimping. "Pimping" is a legitimate term in the medical vernacular, referring to the staff practice of grilling medical students and trainees with questions, often pushing them to their limit.

Last year, Kon directed me to this article, both for its amusing anecdotes and the marvel of its publication in a recognized peer-reviewed journal. In it, Detsky lays out several strategies for both avoiding or (if you're keen enough) capitalizing on the act of being pimped out by your staff.

One such "pimping protection procedure" is referred to as The Muffin:

This technique is particularly useful for senior residents who are fearful that the attending physician will embarrass them with a question they should be able to answer but cannot. The resident holds a large muffin in the dominant hand with the elbow flexed, and slowly makes motions with the elbow that move the muffin toward and away from the mouth, somewhat like the graphical lines representing the attitudes of focus group members used by television networks while watching the recent presidential debates (ie, closer to the mouth if the resident does not know the answer, further if he or she does). If the resident feels that the teacher will call on him or her to answer a question to which he or she cannot respond, the muffin should be placed into the mouth. Most attendings will not ask residents or students to speak with their mouth full of food. If the attending does, the resident should pretend to choke, thus avoiding all future questions.

Kon clearly had this article in mind whilst entering the following anecdote. In our radiology seminar last week, the teaching resident pointed out a few common X-Ray tricks. She followed up these teaching points with, "Staff love to pimp you with these kinds of cases."

A classmate's hand went up. "Excuse me, what does pimping mean?"

The resident registered surprise that a second-year medical student could be unfamiliar with this term in its non-underworld context, but obliged in explaining. Kon, eager to demonstrate his awareness of medical culture and bubbling with excitement at being able to reference Detsky's entertaining paper turned to those around him and with a grin burst out...

"I'll just take a muffin and stuff it in my mouth!"

I choked back a laugh. I guess Kon had not seen Betty White's muffin skit on her recent hosting of Saturday Night Live (to which I was directed by Sandlot), else he would have been aware that the word "muffin" can also be used to connote "vagina." Perhaps this is not surprising from the fellow who during a game of charades once confused the term "rising sun" as meaning "morning wood". I'm sure the Japanese would not be pleased if they suddenly became known as the "Land of the Morning Erection". We can only presume that Kon in that case had been confused with the less-popular term "morning glory" (which then must generate a small chortle at Morning Glory brand stationary).

In any case, Kon's double entendre went unnoticed by the rest of the seminar group, while he himself continued unaware that he was such a cunning linguist.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sheathe thy weapons

I don't know about you guys, but sometimes I feel held hostage by the flashing light on my mobile - trying to focus on other things but constantly looking down to check for the reassuring pulsation of a cherished reply.

Sometimes the safest thing to do is to disassemble thy weapon.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm a preclerk


Stewie petitioned me to compose some sort of rhyme for our class newspaper. I, being the fool, agreed and spent all afternoon teasing lyrics out of this migrainous head of mine. In fact, I think it might be a bit too sarcastic for such a serious publication, but whether or not it ever sees print, I've done my part. Here it is for you:

To the tune of Denis Leary's I'm an Asshole:

Folks, I’d like to sing you a song about the professional dream
About me, about you
About the way our scholastic hearts beat way down in the bottom of our chests
About that special feeling we get in the apex of our hearts
Maybe below the apex
Maybe in the costo-phrenic area,
Maybe in the ego, maybe in the superego
Maybe even in the perineum, we don’t know


I’m just a regular bloke, with a CMA sack
I’m your average vain and OCD quack
I like singing, fundraising, and advocacy
I’ve got my research in journals to pad my CV
My ophthalmoscope, my pocket eye chart
My big Queen’s Square hammer and my lab coat look smart

But sometimes that just ain’t enough to get a chum like me residency
(Oh no, no way, uh uh)
No I gotta go out there and look smart at someone else’s expense
(Whoa yeah, yeah yeah, yeah yeah yeah)
I can’t remember any lessons from class
When I’m pimped out I cry “Lupus!” to pass

I’m a preclerk (He’s a preclerk)
I’m a preclerk (He’s a preclerk, such a preclerk)

Flash my hospital card when I go to the pub
I shimmy up and drop the M-bomb saying, “How about some love?”

I’m a preclerk (He’s a preclerk)
I’m a preclerk (He’s the world’s finest preclerk)

I act real keen in PBL cases
While PBL tutors make delighted faces

I’m a preclerk (He’s a preclerk)
I’m a preclerk (He’s a sweet-talking preclerk)

Maybe I shouldn’t be singing this song
Schmoozing, butt-kissing and carrying on
Maybe they’re right when they tell me I’m wrong
Nah

I’m a preclerk (He’s a preclerk)
I’m a preclerk (He’s the world’s slyest preclerk)

You know what I’m going to do?
I’m going to join a student interest group in my specialty
Be the president, with lots of speakers
All residency committee members
And makes sure they’d all want to go camping with me (yeah)
And I’m going to stare down all the other students
If they’re interested in my specialty
Sucking down Iced Caps and donuts from Tim Horton’s
In large-size Roll Up the Rim cups
And when I’m done infusing my blood with caffeine
I’m going to take my pulse to practice for ASCM
And I’ll note the palpitations I’m having about clerkship
Because I can’t remember a gosh-darn thing from lecture
You know why? Because I crammed, that’s why
2 words: Grey’s freaking Anatomy, okay?
Taylor, Latta, Schreiber – they all told me to study ahead
They can take away my TV have a big study party
Right in the middle of Toronto General Med Ed
And it won’t make a lick of difference
Because I’m still going to cram, okay?
Preston Burke’s not dead, he just got kicked off the show for homophobia
But that’s okay because the new cardiothoracic surgeon is super hot
You know how?
Take Pamela Anderson in a labcoat and multiply her IQ by 15 million times
That’s how hot the new surgeon is!
I’m going to learn to cut and suture
And perform appendectomies, Whipples, IL-2 therapy,
And trach someone with a pen…


(Hey! You know, you really are a preclerk!)
Why don’t you just shut up and sing the song, pal?
I’m a preclerk (He’s a preclerk)
I’m a preclerk (He’s the world’s finest preclerk)

P-R-E-C-L-E-R-K
Everybody!
P-R-E-C-L-E-R-K

I’m a preclerk and I’m proud of it

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I got 99 problems

The first-year charity committee is running a fundraiser via matchmaker questionnaire. This year's survey was not of the one-size-fits-all high school variety (last year a similar fundraiser had us bubble in whether we were in grade 9, 10, 11, or 12). Rather, it was heavily individualized to our medical school experience.

When I arrived at question 19, my brain chuckled a bit, and I shared the following text message with my girlfriend, Sandlot:

Q19. I got 99 problems, but the following isn't one: 1 bling, 2 cash-money, 3 ride, 4 significant other. A = 4. Sandlot trumps ride.

While I thought this was a relatively straightforward gesture, I could not have predicted the lively debate that it would spark about the meaning of the question, and more fundamentally, the meaning of Jay-Z's lyrics.

Sandlot: Lol. I think #4 means u don't have a s/o.

Andy: Ah, I see what you mean, but I don't think that makes sense. If a ride is not your problem it means you have one right?

Sandlot: Hmm your interpretation makes sense as well. I guess I interpreted s/o to be a problem a la Jay-Z.

Andy: Is that what he means? I always thought that meant he was so fly that he has no problem getting it on.

Sandlot: No. I don't think that's what he meant. Haha listen to the song again. You should ask J-Rock, he seems gangster enough to know. Lolll

Andy: But what about Beyonce? I can ask J-rock, but remember his fav bands include BSB, Britney, and Kelly Clarkson. Plus, he does not listen to words.

To the culturally inept, the song in question is Jay-Z's 99 Problems. In it, he opens with the line,

If you're having girl problems I feel bad for you son
I got 99 problems but a bitch ain't one

Now I have to admit, I can't always understand what this man says. Thus, since forever, I've thought this song read, "I've got 99 problems but a f*ck ain't one." In other words, "I feel bad that you have to bitch about girl problems - I've got real problems, but son, girls aren't among them."

Even so, I think my interpretation still stands. J-Rock agreed.

Andy: J-Rock thinks the same thing I do - that Jay-Z doesn't have trouble getting laid. We're looking up the lyrics now.

Sandlot: What? U guys are both fail.

Harsh words. So harsh. J-Rock and I went to Stewie for another word, since despite J-Rock's Scarborough upbringing, Stewie seemed much more likely to have the culturally appropriate answer.

Andy: Hey, you know that Jay-Z song 99 Problems? The line, "I got 99 Problems but a bitch ain't one"... what do you think that means?

Stewie: It means he doesn't have a bitch to be a problem.

Andy: Really?

Stewie: Why, what do you think it means? That he does have one?

Andy: Well, yeah.

Stewie: Well, as in he doesn't have a bitch. He still has girls, and he sleeps with them. He just doesn't have one that bitches (gestures towards Yuffie). Just kidding!

This explanation fell somewhere between Sandlot's and mine - Jay-Z didn't have girl problems, and he didn't have a bitch, but he did have girls.

For her part, Sandlot rescinded her confidence:

Hmm the braintrust at songmeanings.com has conflicting viewpoints as well. Dunno! *shrugs*

There's a website called songmeanings.com? In any case, I think this warrants her taking back that hurtful and premature "fail."

What do you guys think? Does having 99 problems but a bitch ain't one mean that a) there is no bitch or that b) Jay-Z don't take no bitchin' from his girl?

Similarly, does having 99 problems but a significant other isn't one mean that a) I don't have a significant other or that b) I don't have to worry about a s/o because I already have (a wonderful) one?

Share your two cents in the comment box below!