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August 7, 2006 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Academic Idol: Round five

There is nothing like being stunned by the brutal shock of a cold hard surprise. We here at Salient were shocked you decided that you couldn’t stand to have Jon ‘Wet Noodle’ Johansson around any longer. We thank you for participating Jon, it’s been a journey, but for you it ends now. Leave.

And so the numbers start to thin. Four down. And we had a doozy for the contestants this week:

You are on death row facing execution. Why are you there? And what would be your last meal?

Peter Gainsford (Classics)

I’m unlikely ever to commit arson in a dockyard, or have unmarried sex with the heir to the throne (*shudder*). So I’d have to commit some crime overseas. Perhaps go to Texas and sodomise the flag while taking a photo of a policeman; or make fun of a mafioso in a Moscow restaurant. I’d go with the second, as (a) it’d be more fun, (b) they’d probably come up with more interesting ways of carrying out the sentence, and (c) the appeals process wouldn’t drag on too long.

Last meal: something involving foie gras and unpasteurised cheeses. To be followed by a really good cigar, and a nightcap of Lagavulin whisky.

John McDowall (Psychology)

I was down on my luck and living in some two-bit joint above the Cobalt Club on No Exit Street when she walked into my life. Claimed her name was Delores Del Rio and I could tell right away she was no ordinary sister. Real class and she knew it. Spun a line about being leaned on by a street punk, name of Mickey Ramone. Offered me a good deal if I could get him off her back. This was my ticket to Easy Street – I had to take it. So I shot Mickey full of bullets, but Delores ratted on me when the heat went on. My mistake? I had fallen for a dame. I used to be a university lecturer – I could have been someone.

Entrée: Dry Martini – with three olives. Main: One bottle of Wild Turkey Kentucky Bourbon and a glass – straight, no chaser,

David McLauchlan (Law)

It is the year 2026. Chairman Don Brash, now aged 85, is still in power after a bloody coup in 2011. All non-government newspapers and magazines are banned. Anyone who breaches the ban is guilty of a capital offence. Nevertheless, with the assistance of my funding and the journalistic skills of former editor James Robinson, Salient is still being published from a secret room in the basement of the Hunter building. Unfortunately, after publication of a seditious article advocating the policies of the underground “Hezbollocks” party, our organisation is infiltrated by a treacherous member of the Young Nats. I am arrested, convicted without trial, and await my destiny on death row.

My last meal has to be: roast lamb, roast potatoes and vegetables, topped with gravy and mint sauce; apple and rhubarb sponge with lashings of custard and cream; and two bottles of Martinborough Pinot Noir; followed by pots of coffee to keep me awake all night as I pray for salvation.

Grant Morris (Law)

How about crimes against technological advancement? I still use a Sony Cassette Walkman and have an extensive tape collection. I prefer videos over DVDs, and regularly use a Playstation 1 machine. It’s not that I’m a Luddite, just that I take time to adjust to new technological inventions. This is obviously an insufficient defence though as I’m on death row. Final meal? The Fettucine ala Bologna from La Casa Pasta on Dixon St. Best value for money in Wellington. I suppose the waiter will have to bring the meal to me at death row which is a pity because the new restaurant premises are great.

Warwick Murray (Geography)

Warwick’s crime is as follows, not handing in an answer for round five. The mistake has been made, but will it be deadly?

Sean Redmond (Film)

Erin, my 28 month old daughter, has started stealing into our bed in the middle of the night. Some nights she finds just me there (my partner works shifts). During these restless twilight hours I have caught myself waking up to watch her gently sleeping. There is nothing as sweetly affecting as a young loved one dreaming. But I have also woken up because of the dread that she may not be breathing – I often put my head to her chest, even though I can see it moving, to make sure her heart is still beating. Her not living is nearly too painful to contemplate. I can only imagine being on death row because I have brutally taken the life of the killer of one of my children. And if I have been sentenced to death for this ‘crime’ then justice sucks. My last meal would be a plate of paracetamol: a final fuck you to a system that doesn’t understand the beauty of a child sleeping.

(Of course, in my other wuxia pian fantasy, I am Master Red, skilled swordsman extraordinaire, who heroically stops the killer with a single dagger to the heart, with seconds to spare; Erin lives forever; and I am given the freedom of the city.)

Tony Schirato (Media Studies)

I once had a dream about exactly this situation, so I may as well just reproduce the details. I was in school in 1970 and I’d just been threatened with expulsion for having my hair cover the top of my ears, it was a Catholic school-cum-prison run by sadists and psychotics. Appropriately enough the next night I dreamt that I was in a Nazi concentration camp about to be executed by firing squad, along with a long haired Chinese boy Wang (to this day I have no idea why it was a Chinese boy named Wang). I presumed we were being executed for having long hair: as the witch says in Monty Python & the Holy Grail, ‘It was a fair cop’. My last meal was a Kit Kat. I was munching it as the firing squad approached. Now on a chocolate high I grabbed a long bamboo pole that was very conveniently standing up against the wall (dreams are like that) and vaulted forty feet or so over the barbed wire fence, breaking the world record in the process (its a dream, remember). I ran off to … er … Paris (dreams and geographical reality don’t mix well) and came across a guy who was obviously a Gestapo agent, on account of the fact that he was wearing a trench coat & looked shifty (We’ve all seen the film). I stuck my finger in his back, pretending it was a gun, and told him to take me to the Canadian embassy, where I would be safe. This he did. I escaped death by firing squad through the intervention of a Kit Kat and a little dream logic.

Matt Wagner (Film)

What did I do to get here, yea, even to Death Row? Well, I got five words for ya, to answer that question: Pay. Back. Thy. Student. Loans.

Sheesh! I mean really, who knew they’d take a mere hundred grand so seriously?

And what do I want my last meal to be? I want to drink in the sea air, taste the succulence of fresh scallops, savour a bottle – no, a case – of Framingham’s Montepulciano, and feast my eyes endlessly on my beloved sitting in the sunset.

Oh, and seeing as this is a ‘last’ meal, maybe a truly bottomless cup of coffee would be nice…


About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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