Sunday, March 29, 2009

Health, Pt. 1

We are now nine days past the vernal equinox, and though the weather has for the most part insisted on remaining cold and dreary, I have already felt a few of the first breaths of spring spreading over the land. Ah, printemps!--the season of love, when Nature bursts forth from the frigid shackles of winter, and amorous desires stir in the hearts of young virgins. Spring is a time for enjoyment, but it also carries its dangers, and an honest rake, if he is not aware of the proper medical wisdom, may fall prey to a catalog of ailments.

When we say medical wisdom, we don't mean this cellular pathology nonsense espoused by that charlatan Rudolf Virchow, which has lately blinded the eyes of natural science to the wisdom of the ancients. Any good rake knows that, for the maintenance of the constitution, Hippocrates, Galen, and Avicenna should everywhere be preferred to Pasteur, Salk, and Fleming.

Hippocrates tell us that the diseases of spring are maniacal, melancholic, and epileptic disorders, bloody flux, quinsy, coryza, hoarseness, cough, leprosy, lichen alphos, exanthemata mostly ending in ulcerations, tubercles, and arthritic diseases. The rake, more than other men, should constantly be on the lookout for the onset of such maladies. He is fundamentally of the sanguine temperament, and as both air and blood ascend in springtime, as they do in our sanguine characters, the coming season may exacerbate our humoral imbalance. If the accumulation of blood be too thick, the rake should limit his diet to cold & dry foods, such as raw cereals, as they will balance out the proportion of black bile to blood. Be careful not to produce too much black bile, though, as it will throw you into a melancholic humour and may even precipitate the onset of dropsy. If he suffers a particularly bad episode of coryza, he remedy it with bloodletting or leeches. Be careful here as well, as losing too much blood will sap your amorous energies.

Learning all the proper theory is key, and so you should immediately begin compiling your medical library. Here are just a few of the essential texts:

Aphorisms by Hippocrates
De Sanitate Tuenda
De Usu Partium Corporis Humani
Quod Animi Mores Corporis Temperatura Sequantur

Keep in mind that these basic texts only represent the orthodox Hippocratic-Galenic school. When you have familiarized yourself with them, you should then endeavor to acquire complementary books by the Erasistrateans and the Asclepiadeans, as the competing viewpoints will broaden your medical mind.

(Above is the chart of the Hippocratic Humours and their corresponding seasons, elements, organs and qualities. Commit this chart to memory and reference it often.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Into the Workhouse

Ladies, Gentlemen, and Comrades all: I, Gaspard Lerâteau, have terrible news. I have become gainfully employed. I know what you must be thinking; the world must be in quite a poor state when an honest rake has to get a job to support his habits, but alas it is true. This city has grown quite expensive in recent years and despite the excellent deals that have resulted from the current economic turmoil, the largesse of friends, women, and family has waned. An example for you: today I received a post from my generous father informing me that he had paid several thousand dollars to the City of New York for past-due parking tickets acquired over the last several months (Can I be bothered to look at the street signs every time I park? I think not!). Despite all previous benevolence, he has considered this transgression the last straw and has suggested I would be wise to avoid any further "surprise" charges to his accounts if I know what is good for me. This sudden terminus of funds has forced me to find other sources of lucre to support my habits, and while a potential bank heist is not yet out of the running, I have decided to opt for something a bit more safe for the time being.

This recent development in my status as a member of the national workforce has forced me to come up with a cornucopia of excuses and lies about what I do and where I am all day long. Here are a few tips in case you find yourself in a similar scenario:

1. Regardless of your position, wear a suit. At my current post, I work alone in an office and it does not particularly matter what I wear, but it should go without saying that I wear a three-piece suit everyday. Aside from the fact that the rake should be wearing some sort of suit at all times, this mode of dress seems to truly impress the great unwashed. An anecdote: At a recent interview, I arrived in said suit, and my interviewer was wearing what, in the common parlance, is known as a "white tee" and dungarees. Within twenty minutes, he was fired and I had replaced him in his capacity as chief recruiter. As I knew nothing of the industry, I can only attribute this sequence of events to the suit I was wearing, and not the combination of my eloquence, striking good looks, and general demeanor, but I digress...

2. When asked what industry you are working in, always reply "Finance." The most common response you will receive will be something along the lines of, "Ooh, that must be a tough place to be right about now!" Instead of agreeing with this idiot, give a small chuckle and a wink and reply, "Not if you're doing what I'm doing..." Let him interpret that as he will and change the subject to the inevitably poor cut of his suit. This will cause him to quickly forget what he has just asked and put him on the defensive.

3. Despite the flow of hard cash into your coffers, always cry poor. People will of course object "Don't you have a job?" Reply in the following manner, "I do, but you see, I am just starting out in the industry and as yet I have not made much money as my salary is based on commissions." Assure them that in one year's time you will be more than able to compensate them for the round of drinks they are about to buy you. Come up with elaborate schemes about how you and he (or she) will spend your hard earned cash on escapades that would give even the Earl of Rochester pangs of jealousy. You will soon see the stars in their eyes. At this point, feel no remorse in ordering another martini as you have given them something that no amount of money can buy: hope for the future. Perhaps that Obama chap knew what he was doing after all.

4. Have a set of business cards made. This is simultaneously the least expensive and most effective way of pretending you are somewhat professional. While the card may advertise your abilities as a master - (insert profession) , it can also simply supply a salient piece of information. A Russian chum of mine has a card that simply reads

David Kaganov

followed only by an e-mail address. Let us just say that his in-box is full.

Unfortunately, that is all I can think of for now but the days at work are long and dull and I have plenty of time for reflection. Perhaps I will soon supply you with more tips for surviving this tragic act known as "labour". However, do not hold your breath; these daydreams are rarely directed at providing information to you, and much more frequently directed at providing drinks for myself.


By this point, you are assuredly asking yourselves, "I wonder what Gaspard does for a living?" Well dear readers, without going into specifics, it involves me calling poor saps and selling them things that they have absolutely no use for. A tad immoral? Perhaps. Frankly, it involves spinning elaborate lies and that is one thing I have quite a knack for. As my grand-grand-grand-oncle François, duc de La Rouchefoulcauld used to say, "Some bad qualities make great talents." (Maxim 491, a favorite of his)