What’s on the menu?

Illustration by Ed Appleby

… And other questions a person who can’t cook would ask

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Sept. 4, 2014

Why are we so indecisive when it comes to food? Everyday, regardless of my workload, obligations, or responsibilities, I’m required to ask myself a key question: “What the fuck should I shove in my face to shut my stomach up?”

Sustenance, pleasure, and an inconvenience: food. I’m not super picky, but I do have my preferences, although sometimes my preferences change due to external influences. These influences include my vegetarian friends, the price of the meal, and of course, what people deem to be healthy. Needless to say, I eat most of my meals in front of the television, at my computer, or even lying in bed. I’m not a role model, I agree.

But the problem is that I choose not to consider what I want to eat until I am already too hungry to cook or even to drag my lazy ass to a restaurant. I just pop something into the microwave or oven and forget about it. Done. I’ll worry about that problem again in five hours or so.

Cooking is a skill that I simply never acquired and now I feel a bit ashamed, especially when I’m invited to potlucks or any social gatherings where I’m expected to craft some edible dish to impress my peers and friends. “I’ll bring the cups and napkins,” I’ll jest, dying a little on the inside.

Correct, I’m not Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen, and I’m not even Guy Fieri in someone else’s kitchen. I’m just a guy who aims to stay alive and not get a steam burn when peeling back the cellophane of my Hungry Man.

It’s a sad position I have found myself in. In life, every person should be able to lick their fingers after a satisfying meal they have made for themselves—and then, of course, clean up after themselves. Nevertheless, I’ll never be an exquisite cook because of my bland taste, just like I’ll never become a tenor in a choir because of my tone deafness. It’s a fact that I have accepted. So I try to make myself useful in other ways: by suggesting meals to those willing to cook for me and by stocking up on crap that I can halfheartedly make at a moment’s notice. I don’t care if you don’t mind.

I have scrolled through Urbanspoon enough times to know that options and variety are far from the solution. Someone at some point needs to make an executive decision. When it comes to food, I have always been hesitant to speak up because I feel as though I have no authority in the say due to my taste. I was wrong. If I’m not the driver, I should at least be the navigator. Yes, true, I don’t care what we eat today, but I should be able to suggest something.

When it comes to picking restaurants or ingredients for dinner, it’s not about caring or not. You’ll have to eat, that is the fact! So make suggestions or pick something for yourself. At least one meal out of your day doesn’t have to be an indecisive mess in your schedule. So when it comes to soup or salad: I always pick soup.

America’s most-watched

Opinions_filming policeWhy police officers on duty should be filmed

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published by The Other Press. Sept. 4, 2014

Security cameras are an integral part of many organizations, from low-level retail to big brand manufacturing. Whatever is recorded is rarely shown to the public or even kept for long periods of time, but when something occurs it’s always good to have video evidence, especially in this day and age when it’s essential to justice.

So if the barista at Starbucks has to be on camera all day long while serving coffee, why shouldn’t police officers be on camera all day long while serving and protecting citizens? Law enforcement is a tough job—I don’t deny that; however, I’m convinced that often the coercive measures taken to enforce the law might be overly drastic.

Recently, several police brutality videos have been shared on the Internet to ensure that the citizens being detained receive at the very least an apology for the forceful way in which they were apprehended. It’s sickening to see a police officer throw furious jabs at a man who has his arms behind his back, or worse, see a 200lb man wrestle down a woman and continue to pummel her while she’s on the ground. Whether the victim deserved the physical punishment or the police officer overstepped bounds is beyond me, but what I am sure you can agree on is that transparency is the key to establishing harmony between the law and the people the laws are meant to protect.

In the States—California specifically—there are initiatives for police to wear cameras when they are on duty. Instead of having spectators film police when a wrongdoing occurs, the police should just include that in their operations. If they have done nothing wrong in the course of action, then there is nothing to worry about.

The argument is that if certain people see a police with a camera attached to them, then a certain level of fear is omitted, but I don’t believe that to be the case. After all, I sure as hell don’t want video evidence of me showing disrespect to a police officer. Nevertheless, I would want even less to have a video of me being assaulted by a police officer. Moreover, why the hell should citizens, who have done nothing wrong, fear cops anyways?

Well, that’s because 90 per cent of people are law-abiding, but 99.9 per cent of people are unnerved by the unpredictability of law enforcement officers. Simply put, people just aren’t educated in what the police can or cannot do to us. The RCMP, and other departments in charge of our safety, need to meet us halfway. Certain public places are constantly under surveillance. It seems to me that wherever a police officer happens to be, that is a good place for an extra eye.

Cops are people too, and they perform a tough role in our society. Wearing a camera on the job is not an expression of mistrust. Instead, it should be seen as how guns, Tasers, and other technological advantages are used to help them perform their job. It’s an affordable measure that can save a lot of people from injuries and stop officers from stepping over the thin blue line.

The ‘Emma Watson Talk’

Humour Emma WatsonHermione Granger and the young couple’s dilemma

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
A satirical article, formerly published in The Other Press. Sept. 4, 2014

Recent studies done by Statistics of Canada, BuzzzFeed, and teen-fiction fanatic Wilson McMichael’s Survey Monkey page have shown that four out of five young couples between the ages of 18–30 have engaged in the “Emma Watson Talk.”

“Sexy Watson,” best-known for her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series, has been the centre of conversation for millions of millennials, ever since she got so crazy attractive and legal in the last few Harry Potter movies. Boyfriends and girlfriends across the globe are eager to know what their partner would do if the beloved Emma Watson were to consent to a threesome with the pair. Along with questions such as “Do you want children,” “Are you prepared for the future financially,” and “Why do you keep texting your ex,” couples want to be certain at the early stages that their committed relationship is not hindering their chances with Watson, should the opportunity arise.

“If we’ve learned anything from the Prisoner of Azkaban, nothing is impossible,” said Paddy Schwartz, age 23 and in a serious relationship. “My boyfriend, James, and I need to keep our options open. We don’t want to be slapping ourselves for imposing a promise that neither of us can keep. I mean, a relationship is all about trust and honesty. We would honestly let Emma have her way with us. Serious!”

According to the study, the desirability for Watson is 85 per cent higher than Orlando Bloom, 72 per cent higher than Justin Bieber, and 26 per cent higher than Peter Dinklage when it comes to being the third member of a threesome. Such clear facts are causing some people to worry that Watson might be the reason some relationships end.

“I would not let my boyfriend near Emma Watson,” said Heather Gatton. “She’s smart, beautiful, and an all-round great person—my boyfriend does not deserve her, and neither do I. We are doomed for each other, and that’s final.”

Meanwhile, others believe that the Emma Watson Talk serves as a great relationship test for many couples.

Psychologist Dr. Joan Ramón, a leader in couples’ therapy said: “If a couple disagrees on the Emma Watson Talk, then it’s a clear sign that the relationship will not work out in the long run. And if the man declares that he does not want to engage in a threesome with his girlfriend and Emma Watson, then another red flag is raised. Of course there are many variables in the studies and further research is needed. Perhaps the boyfriend is simply more of an Emilia Clarke kind of guy. That’s okay. But be cautious, ladies, you can’t really trust anyone who has a negative answer in regards to the Emma Watson Talk. It’s science—not magic.”

Many experts agree that should Emma Watson apparate in front of you and your significant other with the use of Floo Powder, engaging in coitus is a must. However, those experts also encourage couples to come to that conclusion for themselves.

“There are many perks to being a wallflower,” said Dr. Ramón, “but you don’t want to stand idly by while Emma Watson disappears again. I mean, let’s be serious, you’re not a Rupert Grint, are you?”

When asked about this phenomenon, Ms. Watson claimed she was flattered, but wouldn’t offer a quote. Damn, she’s classy!

Ice fucket!



Why peer pressure is so effective on social media

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Sept. 4, 2014

I, like so many people on social media, am a victim of peer pressure. Earlier this summer, the Ice Bucket Challenge to promote awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) seemed to be another Internet fad that would make an insignificant mark like the No Make-Up Challenge, Neknomination, and Harlem Shake. But that’s obviously not the case. The campaign has been instrumental in earning the ALS Association donations it wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Although some criticism has emerged suggesting the divergence of focus from disease to entertainment, and the ultimate water-wasting effect of the campaign is nothing to be proud of, I want to focus on the successful qualities: what peer pressure can do for us in the future.

The nomination-aspect of the Ice Bucket Challenge is most interesting. For some, being nominated may seem like an insulting gesture, a call-out. For others, it’s an invitation to participate. Initially, I watched the campaign from the perimeter, content. I’m not the most charitable individual, and if there was a cause for me to contribute to, ALS would not be the first—admit it, it probably wouldn’t be your first either. However, after I was nominated by a hockey teammate, it was no longer about the donation—even though it should’ve been. The point now was to continue the chain-letter effect, an idea gone viral.

Now I could have ignored the nomination, and I greatly considered it, as I’m sure many participants have. I hated the idea of someone pressuring me into an act in order to retain my “respect” within the community. Sure, some people might praise me for standing up against such peer pressure. After all, I’m not a conformist, am I?

Then I reconsidered. This social challenge isn’t a test of character. An ice bucket is not, say, bungee jumping. Especially during the hot summer we had, the icy water could actually be refreshing, no?

The Ice Bucket Challenge, like most social network challenges, is a demonstration of creativity. Let’s see how you can make pouring water on your head original. That was the real challenge, as lame and cheesy as they all end up being.

Seeing most of my Facebook friends and various celebrities participate is proof that there’s something about peer pressure that makes the Internet kind of scary. We could say, “No, the Internet can’t make us do stuff—it’s just a machine,” but when I consciously poured water on my own head and filmed it to prove to my friends and followers that I am just another brick in the wall, I knew that in the very near future I would be doing other irrational acts and filming it too. Why? Well, just so that I can continue belonging in the community and network I have worked so hard to include myself in.

This year it was the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge—it’s unlikely to repeat itself next year; however, that paves the way for the next fad. The Burn Your Shoe Challenge for Legionnaires’ disease. The Parallel Park Your Car Challenge for Parkinson’s. The Mortgage Your House Challenge for MS. And Big Brother will see it all happen on YouTube. Luckily for us I’m no George Orwell, but I will try to grow a moustache this November. I mean, if everyone else is doing it, right?