Archive for December, 2014

The Last Christmas

There have always been three grand occasions in my household: Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. But Christmas has always been the greatest and grandest of them all.

That’s something I’ve said many times before but won’t be able to say for very much longer.

As grand an occasion as Christmas is, it isn’t immutable. Things can happen to alter or disrupt it, as we saw two years ago. Thus far we’ve been fortunate in that very little has happened to affect Christmas, and those few events which have affected Christmas have been minor and mostly temporary in nature.

This year however, two events occurred which will have a more major and permanent impact on our Christmas celebrations going forward.

The first is that my aunt resumed her relationship with her ex-husband. Generally speaking this is a positive development as it eliminates a previously awkward element within the family social dynamic and (more importantly) gives their daughter a stable home, but the downside is that it means that they’ll have to alternate where they spend their Christmas Eves once again.

The other development is that my grandmother sold her longtime home and moved into a small apartment. Her old home wasn’t all that big, and it was always a tight squeeze for the dozen or so of us who would cram in there for the third and final Christmas feast of the year. Her new apartment simply can’t accommodate that many people.

These two events created a need to change how my mother’s side of the family would be spending Christmas going forward. After much deliberation and debate, a four-year cycle was arrived at. I won’t set out all the details here, but basically our Christmas Eve event will be entirely without my mother’s side of the family on odd-numbered years. Presumably we’ll still have a gathering in those years, but these will be more intimate events with just 10 total people at a maximum. I wonder whether my father will bother dressing up as Santa on those years, as the youngest cousin on my father’s side of the family will likely be beyond believing in Santa by the time next year rolls around – all of the cousins who still believe are on my mother’s side. On even-numbered years, Christmas Eve will proceed normally, but Christmas Day will feature just one feast instead of the usual two. I’m not too bothered by this change; although part of the fun of our two-day extravaganza is how hectic and non-stop the whole thing is, it’s absolutely exhausting and very difficult to do justice to a third feast in the span of 24 hours. So, perhaps having a quieter Christmas Day will be a positive thing.

But for me, Christmas Eve is the heart and soul of the Christmas season. It’s always been the day I look forward to most all year long. And to have that change in such a dramatic way is quite sad for me.

Calling this the “last” Christmas is perhaps going a bit far since the schedule calls for another grand celebration over here in 2016. Nevertheless it feels like the last Christmas. It feels like the end of a tradition, like the end of something truly great.

And no matter how many times I say it, it just doesn’t feel right to say “There are three grand occasions in my household: Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. But Thanksgiving is the greatest and grandest of them all.”

Interview Granted

I already have plenty to distract me from preparing for the back-to-back exams confronting me over the next two days.

Not only are the Raptors playing a big game against your Cleveland Cavaliers tonight, but the Flames are playing the Leafs tonight as well – a matchup I absolutely hate, and one which I can never escape from owing to the number of people who will be razzing me later should my team lose. And then there’s an episode of Criminal Minds to watch and a Pokemon game to play…

But as if all of that that wasn’t enough, I’ve just checked my email and it looks like I’ve got an interview on December 18th.

I’m happy about that, but I’m not ecstatic.

See, as much as I’d like to say I’ve earned this one, I’m not so sure I have. The process of applying to this place has been informal, I’m not sure if there are many (or any) other candidates, and I know that my dad has a couple of connections in this place. It certainly appears as though I’ve been granted this interview as a favour more than on my own merits.

Although I started off being dead set on getting a job without having to rely on any sort of tenuous connections, I’m not really in a position to be picky anymore. I’ve struck out two dozen times at this point, and I think I have to recognize the reality of the situation. The fact of the matter is that only 45% of the class ends up finding a legally relevant job for the summer, and you have to wonder just how much of that 45% is made up of people going to work for their parents, or uncles, or cousins, or what have you. As no one in my immediate family works in law, I’m at an immense disadvantage. I’ve spent the last two months fighting with hundreds of other people for whatever scraps remain once the nepotism appointments are finished with.

And look, this job has a number of benefits. It’s close to home, and although I’d probably rather be working downtown, it means that my commute will be 10-15 minutes rather than 60+ minutes. Multiply that by two, and I’m saving myself at least an hour and a half every day – not an insignificant amount of time. Besides that, they do work that I’m actually interested in, which is more than I can say for half the places I’ve applied to.

On the not-so-positive side, details are kind of sketchy as to how long I’d be working and how much I’d be getting paid. I’m hoping for about 12 weeks, but for all I know they want me for 16. Money is less important – I have no illusions about being paid the $1700 weekly that the big firms pay – but it’ll be a little depressing if I’m being paid minimum wage. I’d probably still take it though, because I don’t exactly have any alternatives at the moment.

So that’s where I stand. For now, better get back to focusing on these exams.

This right here is one of my favourite commercials of all time. Partially because it’s named after me, but mostly because of the idea it represents. In case it’s unclear what’s going on, you have a bunch of famous video game characters in an old pub, talking about their experiences and honouring Michael, the player. It’s kind of a neat idea, don’t you think?

Between video games, books, TV shows, comics, and movies, I’ve taken in a fair bit of fiction over the years. And in that fair bit of fiction, I’ve met a great number of characters. If you’re anything like me, you probably have too.

Some characters are forgettable. They’re out of your mind the moment you close the book or the credits roll.

Others stay with you, hanging around in the back of your head. They don’t necessarily have any impact on your life, but every once in a while you’ll think back to that book, or movie, or game, and you’ll remember that character with fondness as you’d remember an old friend.

I like to imagine that somewhere in the back of my mind there’s a pub for fictional characters to go and have a pint. And I like to imagine that I can go into that pub from time to time to meet up with my old friends to catch up and see where how things are going.

The big question: if such a pub existed, who would you put in it? Sub-question: What drinks would you share?

This is very much along the lines of the old “If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead” question, and I think it’s every bit as valid – I’m just as likely to meet up with Pac-Man for a pint as I am Elvis, aren’t I?

For me, I think I’d start with Wallace Wells from the Scott Pilgrim universe. Perhaps Ramona or Scott himself would have been more obvious choices, but I think that me and Wallace would hit it off better, what with the dry, sardonic humour. Drink of choice would be ciders. Wallace might be the only one I’d bring along from comics, as neither Calvin nor Jeremy from Zits are of legal drinking age. Sorry guys.

I don’t watch a ton of TV shows, but in terms of current shows, Mike Ross from Suits would probably be my first pick. Harvey Spectre and Derek Morgan will no doubt feel slighted, but I think I’d be too intimidated by the former to have any real conversation, and as cool as the latter is, I think I’d get on better with Mike. A measure of scotch for us. Of course, admission isn’t limited here, so Harvey and Derek would be there too – the former also drinking scotch, the latter going sampling various bar shots. Looking at older shows, Cory and Shawn from Boy Meets World are obvious choices. Can’t have one without the other, after all. I don’t think the three of us would be able to agree on a drink, so I’d probably have something girly with Cory whilst Shawn would have a beer.

And if we’re talking about animated TV shows, without a doubt Dr. Doofenschmirtz from the critically acclaimed and yet mystifyingly underappreciated Phineas and Ferb – by far the best show Disney’s produced in the last decade. The pub needs a good villain, and me and Dr. D would no doubt get along famously with our shared love of a good show tune. We’d drink something tropical – pina coladas, I think.

I have a harder time thinking about characters from books for the simple reason that if you run down the list of my favourite characters, you find that most of them are too young to drink. But I’ve got three for you regardless: The Giver, from the eponymous Lois Lowry novel. Charlie, from The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Atticus Finch, from To Kill a Mockingbird. The Giver was one of the first books I read which had a significant emotional impact on me. The titular character is the saddest and most intelligent man in the world, and no doubt he’d teach me many lessons over a gin and tonic. I’m cheating a little bit with Charlie since he’s not old enough to drink, but he does it in his book. Besides that, Mike’s Pub doesn’t check IDs. He’d want to stick with beer, but I’d convince him to go with a raspberry margarita. And Atticus Finch because he’s the man we all wish we were brave enough to be. Whiskey on the rocks.

Movies are an interesting realm because most of my favourites characters are non-humans. But fuck it, it’s my pub, and I’m certainly not about to prohibit entry based on species. Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc has to be in there for all the obvious reasons. We’d keep it simple with screwdrivers. And of course, I’ve got to have Hades in my pub. Hades is one of the very few Disney characters who we actually see drinking, so we know for certain that he likes his martinis. Can’t quite tell exactly what’s in that drink. Perhaps it’s a splash of cranberry and blue curacao to give it that hue. Hard to say. I’ll take mine sans worm though.

And lastly you’ve got the realm of video games. I think it’s much easier to develop an affinity with a video game character than any other type of character because the player-character connection is so much stronger than anywhere else. As a result, I could probably rattle off 30 names off the top of my head. But I’m going to limit myself to games I’ve played since September, which leaves me with just a few. First off, let me remedy the sausage fest I’ve got going here by bringing in Syrenne, the Mancunian protagonist who actually lives in a tavern in her respective game. She’d literally be right at home. Tequila shots for us. Second, Rucks from Bastion, a game I just finished this past week. He serves as the narrator for your adventure, and holy hell does he have a sexy voice. Just listen to a few lines of this. Makes you want rip your clothes off and get on your back, doesn’t it? If bourbon had a voice, that would be its voice, and so that’s what we’d drink. And rounding out the group I’d have Ike and Lucina from both Smash Bros. and Fire Emblem fame. Anyone who’s ever had the privilege of losing to me in Smash Bros. knows of my love affair with Ike, but Lucina is a more complex character with a richer personality. The three of us would share a pitcher of cocktail. Purple rain, perhaps.

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means. After all, I haven’t even touched upon shows like Scrubs or games like Golden Sun and Chrono Trigger or movies like The Emperor’s New Groove, all of which feature characters who hang out in this pub of mine. Nevertheless, I have to cut it off somewhere, and I’m arbitrarily choosing this point here.

That’s Mike’s Pub. What’s yours?