We suck!

Five toga-clad revellers pulled off a coup that stunned even themselves in the Oyster Slurping Contest at last Friday’s Mermaid’s Ball. — the costume-party element of the (in)famous annual Clayoquot Oyster Festival.

Left to right in the pic (which is one of the least scandalous of our slurp posted on Facebook by Ed Henley) are winning team members Kim, Josie, me, Katie and Lyndsey.

Josie was the organizational brain behind this … triumph? Spectacle? Debacle? Whichever, i’m sure we all take great pride in the victory, and comfort in knowing that what happened at the Mermaid’s Ball … stays at the Mermaid’s Ball. Right, townsfolk?

For those at the raucous event who did not hear Cameron reading our  explanatory speech (i.e. everybody), here’s the text:

Friends, Tofitians, countrymen … Centuries ago, the ancient Greeks instituted a festival of sport.

YEA, in the very shadow of noble Mount Olympus, home of the GODS, they held a yearly contest of physical prowess FREE of cheesy corporate sponsorship and obscene insider profit at taxpayer expense.

This ancient, shining civilization — the very birthplace of democracy itself — NEVER compromised its citizens’ civil rights as they enjoyed their traditional sports of naked wrestling and WOMEN’S SKI JUMPING.

NOW, in a tribute to their TRUE spirit, we present the long lost opening event to those ancient Games … the OLYMPIC OYSTER RELAY.

And the sign that Josie held up at the end read:

This Olympic relay cost taxpayers $0!

In a lovely touch, it was printed in the Coca-Cola font. We rest our case.

Bread and circuses

“Bread and circuses” or bread and games from Latin: panem et circenses is a metaphor for handouts and petty amusements that politicians use to gain popular support, instead of gaining it through sound policy. The phrase is invoked not only to criticize politicians, but also to criticize their supporters for giving up their civic duty.In modern usage, the phrase has become an adjective to deride an infantalized populace so defined by entertainment, instant self gratification, and personal pleasures that they no longer value civic virtues and the public life not necessarily accomplished through deliberate pacification by politicians but through the popular culture itself. To many social conservatives, it connotes the wanton decadence and hedonism that defined Rome prior to its decline and that may similarly contribute to the decline of modern society.

via Bread and circuses – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Dead on

Thursday’s D.I.Y. Dharma class in Vancouver touched on contemplating your own death, a well known Buddhist object of meditation. Coincidentally, so did the previous Sunday’s meditation session with Zen monk Wayne Codling (Sojun Enso) in Victoria.

All of which reminded me of the following passage early on in David Darling‘s provocatively titled 1996 book Zen Physics — the Science of Death, the Logic of Reincarnation. As walking “meat-based time machines” (per Vic slam poet Skawt Chonzz) with built-in expiry dates, this is uncomfortable information we should have.

As soon as a person’s heart stops beating, gravity takes hold. Within minutes a purple-red stain starts to appear on the lowermost parts of the body, where blood quickly settles. The skin and muscles sag, the body cools, and within two to six hours rigor mortis sets in. Beginning with a stiffening of the eyelids, the rigidity extends inexorably to all parts of the body and may last for between one and four days before the muscles finally relax.

Two or three days after death, a greenish discoloration of the skin on the right side of the lower abdomen above the cecum (the part of the large intestine nearest the surface) provides the first visible sign of decay. This gradually spreads over the whole abdomen and then onto the chest and upper thighs, the color being simply a result of sulfur-containing gases from the intestines reacting with hemoglobin liberated from the blood in the vessels of the abdominal wall. By the end of the first week, most of the body is tinged green, a green that steadily darkens and changes to purple and finally to black. Blood-colored blisters, two to three inches across, develop on the skin, the merest touch being sufficient to cause their top layer to slide off.

By the end of the second week the abdomen is bloated. The lungs rupture because of bacterial attack in the air passages, and the resulting release of gas pressure from within the body forces a blood-stained fluid from the nose and mouth — a startling effect that helped to spawn many a vampire legend among peasants who had witnessed exhumations in medieval Europe. The eyes bulge and the tongue swells to fill the mouth and protrude beyond the teeth. After three to four weeks, the hair, nails, and teeth loosen, and the internal organs disintegrate before turning to liquid.

On average, it takes ten to twelve years for an unembalmed adult body buried six feet deep in ordinary soil without a coffin to be completely reduced to a skeleton. This period may shrink drastically to between a few months and a year if the grave is shallow, since the body is then more accessible to maggots and worms. However, soil chemistry, humidity, and other ambient factors have a powerful effect on the rate of decomposition….

The other porn addiction

Hal Niedzviecki in The Other Porn Addiction, from Walrus Magazine, April 2009:

British social theorist Nikolas Rose talks about the modern individual as an “entrepreneur of him- or herself” who is “to conduct his or her life, and that of his or her family, as a kind of enterprise, seeking to enhance and capitalize on existence itself through considered acts of initiative, and through investments.” The modern individual, then, seeks relationships that are essentially “parasocial” — the term social scientists use to describe the one-sided relationships we have with celebrities, in which we know everything about them, but they don’t know we exist. Social networking scholar danah boyd [sic] has argued that this flow of detailed information is creating a new class of people in our lives — people we follow closely online and come to know intimately but voyeuristically, without any need for genuine interaction. [emphases mine]

Much as i appreciate, at times, the product of “the other porn addiction” (subtitle: Why are ordinary women exposing themselves online?), the article provides some thought-provoking issues as to the social health of the people involved.

I’m a big admirer of Niedzviecki, one of Canada’s most astute social commentators. Hal’s website: www.smellit.ca.