Julescosby's Blog

Archive for April, 2010


Posted by julescosby on April 12, 2010

I saw Lou the other day.  First time in a few years.

Lou was once one of the Fitness Consultants at the hyper-absurd mirror-palooza they call a gym where I go.  When I started there a few years back, they forced me to take this ‘consulting’ session, despite the fact that I had been working out regularly for several years.  Lou wasn’t a particularly tall man, but he was solid as a rock.  Maybe it’s a good thing that they didn’t have exercise as we know it in post-Revolutionary France.  History might have turned out very differently if Napoleon had the option of building his wee body.

Let’s just say that Lou and I didn’t exactly hit it off.  He was a stereotypical high pressure salesman; I was a stereotypical smart ass.

  • To break the ice, he told me a little bit about himself.  He had recently gone back to school – he was probably around 30 – to take psychology.  He wanted to understand human nature.
  • To break the ice, I told him that I was a vegetarian, and that my only interest in going to the gym was fighting entropy.  I told him I felt that the construct of ‘human nature’ was tenuous at best, destructive at worst.

He didn’t pay much attention to my attempt to get a philosophical discussion going.  He wanted to focus on the vegetarianism, which to him was anathema to fitness.

Lou: “See bro, your body is like a truck.”

JC: “Woah, woah, woah, a truck? Slow down professor!”

Lou: “You have to put the gas into the truck in order to make the truck go.”

And in a moment of pure smartassery, JC: “What about ethanol? You know, because I’m a vegetarian.”

Lou: [pause] “Your body’s a lot like a wall, bro.”

There were a few other analogies he offered to the body over the course of the discussion.  I think ultimately his point was that you have to put in good ingredients into your body to get the results you want.  Except no, that can’t be right, because he didn’t care about the results I wanted, he cared about the results he wanted.

As part of the consulting session, Lou had to take a look at what I had been eating for the past few days.  I was living with my ex-girlfriend, a vegan, at the time.  That didn’t make me vegan, but it definitely had an impact on my dietary choices.  He tried to tell me that soy is bad for me, based on a study (which he could not produce for me).  The hardest part for me was trying to convince him that there is no soy in a chickpea.

But what frustrated me the most, aside from the fact that I had to be there to begin with, was the fact that this guy was a living, breathing confabulation of bodybuilding with health/fitness.  It’s a completely fallacious comparison because they are not one and the same.  Eating a giant chicken breast every day for lunch does not make you healthy.  It might make you buff, but what about the hormones they pump into the chicken to give them ridiculously large breasts? You think those hormones just disappear in the production process, Lou?

Anyway Lou, just to let you know: I’m still not eating meat; I’m still not bulking up; I still don’t listen to salespeople who simultaneously tell me not to believe everything I hear, and then try to bypass my skepticism with some fallacious nonsense.  You’re probably a few years into that psych degree by now.  Hope you’ve figured out human nature, although between you and me, you had a pretty solid grasp on it before.

All the best, bro.  Hope that truck is running fine.

Nasty, brutish and short.


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Qui veut la fin veut l’Absurde

Posted by julescosby on April 11, 2010

Before we get too far, first you have to watch this video.

I saw this on television as we were leaving a Yorkville bar the other night. And I couldn’t look away. A later internet search showed me that I wasn’t initially hallucinating; that it’s already been watched by several thousand people, and commented on by just about as many.

When I was young I remember my father, after a hysterical hurricane of laughter, wondering how comedians ‘came up with this stuff’. I said it then and I’ll say it again: Dad, it’s all out there. They just have to pay attention to the absurdity that dances around us each and every day.

I have often said that the Absurd is made up of a precise mingling of chance, will, and entropy. Now we can add to this mix the Shake Weight.

One could almost imagine the first meeting between the manufacturer and the advertiser: “You want us to sell…what?” Personally, I find it hard to believe that even die-hard, cuthroat capitalists would fail to see the humour at play. However, maybe they genuinely missed the boat on this one, like when the former Canadian PC party merged with the Western reformers to create the Canadian Reform Alliance Party (CRAP).

Whatever their intentions, the producers of the commercial may have a point: in the age of Michelle Obama, if a woman wants to be fashionably trendy, she’d better damned well have arms to show. And let’s face it folks, the ends often do justify the means, even if the means consist of holding a throbbing phallic device up in front of your face for 20 minutes a day.

So does this product represent social satire, showing us the bizarre lengths that we go to remain fit in a world that seems hell-bent on making us all fat? Or is this just another drop in the sea of Absurdity, unaware of both its immanent singularity and the sea as totality?

I’m still reeling from an irony-induced hangover from living on Queen West, and so my perspective on the matter is still a little biased. I’ll leave it up to you to judge. As for me, summer’s almost here, and I’ve got to get toned. So if anybody needs me I’ll be in the bathroom with my brand new Shake Weight.

Knock first, please.

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The Tetrosexual

Posted by julescosby on April 8, 2010

What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
a god!


Since the days of Fred Flintstone, men have always wondered what exactly it means to be a man.  But despite what some would have us believe, from the Neolithic through to the Renaissance of Shakespeare, there has never been a strict or eternal definition of manliness.  It is as malleable as Michael Jackson’s face, or the policy of the Liberal Party of Canada.

More recently, the turn of the current millennium brought us new concepts of man.  First came the Metrosexual, a prime example of life imitating art.  Or at least life imitating campy television shows featuring homosexual men giving makeovers to slobs.  Next, fast forward a few years to the age of Mad Men, and the Don Drapers of the world became known as the Retrosexuals.

But now, because the times simply cannot change fast enough, a new category of man is emerging from both the fabulous kitsch and the booze-soaked, women-bashing styles of yesterday.  This new man has been dubbed the Tetrosexual.

A Tetrosexual

The Tetrosexual is noted for his ability to choose the video game Tetris over anything else that life has to offer.  Work? No thanks.  Vacation? I’m fine here, thanks.  Sex? Puh-LEASE.

Aesthetically, the Tetrosexual might appear in bold magentas or cyans, or simple reds and blues.  In some post-Soviet countries, different shades of gray are the norm.  And while the Metrosexual may indulge his love for Lady Gaga, and the Retrosexual has an affinity for the crooners of his granddaddy’s day, the Tetrosexual listens primarily to a canned MIDI soundtrack of pseudo-Russian songs.

The ubiquity of Tetris made the cause of this phenomenon easy to overlook.  But a group of young men made this heavily addictive game, a relic of the Soviet Union, into a lifestyle choice.  Once manly virtues like strength or courage have been replaced by the ability to take on one of seven predetermined shapes.  And whereas once the yoga fad made men desire flexibility, physical fitness is now understood as the ability to rotate at strictly 90 degree angles.

Some have observed that the Tetrosexual is not merely a cultural phenomenon, but one which crosses over into the political sphere as well.  Tyler Shipley, political scientist at York University in Toronto argues that the recent American Health Care debate was not won through fear or intimidation, nor by the oft-decried but equally-as-oft-required backroom deals by technocratic oligarchs.  Rather, he argues, “the American health care debate was won by the widespread recognition that in life there are constants and there are uncertainties.  Pieces will always fall, and they will always fall faster.”

“You never know which piece will fall next,” he added.

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with a Tetronimo, a growing demographic of the American population.

In an age such as ours, Andy Warhol’s famous fifteen minutes has been condensed into a meagre fifteen seconds.  As such, it is difficult to see how long this latest trend will last.  Some have tried to compare the Tetrosexual to the emergence roughly a decade ago of the Petrosexual, a young uneducated worker who moved to Alberta to make big money on the oil field, only to spend it all on cocaine and hookers.  However, once the boom ended, the coke vanished and the boys moved home, the concept of Petrosexual was deemed as empty as American oil wells.

We know that boys will always be boys, but what about our men? Unlike boys, they will feel the need to define themselves, to negate the fact that they are as Hamlet and others have noted, dust.  Now they may do this four blocks at a time.

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