Wait, is it just me or is that Amanda Palmer/Dan Harmon comparison more apt than I’d like?

Yeah, this was kind of clumsy. The interviewer was pretty awful, but still better than the clusterfuck of controversy that would’ve overshadowed the event had Ghomeshi still been attached. I think I still enjoy AFP as an artist from time to time, but I have trouble retaining that enthusiasm when she tries to speak on difficult and nuanced topics. As the years progress I’m finding myself shifting away. Her fanbase seem to be as blindly sycophantic of her as I am of Dan Harmon, so I’m not any better. As she admitted herself, best she stays away from politics. I think I butchered this review, but I do tend to think that every time.

Is it possible to call the show messy without negative connotations? At Lee’s Palace on the final stop of her Art of Asking book tour, Amanda Palmer may have justified it. Holding aloft a red ukulele, a bottle of red wine in the other hand, it was clear that she was here in presence and spirits. As an artist who seems to tenaciously cling to the strength of fallibility, her improvisational adaptability only reinforced her modus operandi. Embracing the possibility of failure for the joy of its potential, she wasn’t afraid to take an idea and run with it. Thanks to a hearing impaired Twitter fan, Toronto’s performance involved a gifted and animated interpreter (also co-incidentally named Amanda). Between relating book excerpts, song lyrics or general banter, the gamble paid out, at times getting hilariously self-aware. “How do you sign cuddling?” Asked Palmer “spooning?”

Well received passages from her book were peppered with musical performances from throughout her career. Opening with an apology “this first bit’s gonna be a little uncomfortable”, she warmed into a timely cover of Public Enemy’s Fuck the Police. Defending an artist’s right to reinterpret the work of anyone who inspires them, she launched into the song it led her to write: Do You Swear To Tell The Truth The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth So Help Your Black Ass. Solo track Runs in the Family received a huge response, but the night really belonged to a stunning rendition of 2006 Dresden Dolls’ song Delilah, supported by friend/road manager Whitney Moses. Between the reading and rhythm wires sometimes crossed. During a moment shifting bemusedly between her uke and book, she had trouble deciding. A short-lived attempt at singing a story may not have panned out, but her loving and abiding audience had only affection for the effort.

There was no way the interview portion would’ve emerged from the shadow of Ghomeshi unscathed. Previously booked as the interviewer, she admitted that while she would talk to anyone, his presence would shift the event too far from its subject matter. Given the importance of the issue, she extended a hand through social media to anyone qualified to talk on supporting women facing adversity. Thanks to the help of Australia’s YWCA Adelaide, Sasha from YWCA Toronto made it onstage to raise awareness.

Without Jian, SiriusXM’s Eric Alper stood in his place, enthusiastic to be there. Reinforcing a story calling for people to accept help in the form of “taking a donut”, he brought 700 of the sugary baubles with him to share. Unfortunately, enthusiasm alone doesn’t make for a great interview. Clearly intent on pursuing his predetermined questions rather than listening to Palmer’s responses, his questions often took the form of waffling self-indulgent monologues laden with name dropping, questions hastily tagged on the end.  Without guidance, Amanda’s sincere and well-intentioned expression often veered without purpose. She had wonderfully lofty things to say, but they sometimes had trouble finding their way back to earth. An interesting night which was nonetheless exciting, The Art of Asking was expressed to an enthusiastically permissive crowd.

The YWCA Toronto’s website can be found here, or on Twitter @YWCAToronto.

Look at me droning on here.

After all this time striving to get back into the media world, I finally started a swanky new job at Shaw Media/Global TV today. I’m no stranger to a corporate atmosphere, but after time spent absent from boardrooms and common areas it was almost surreal to be back there. Here are a few first impressions:

  • Clothing. It’s a casual dress theme, which is great, but people still wear button up shirts. I can wear nice jeans, but I’ll likely still have to iron shirts on the regular unless I can find button up shirts that don’t crease. Find being the right word, because I certainly don’t have them. Looking at my wardrobe, I literally don’t have enough acceptable shirts to last my first week. Can I cover my arse (or torso, rather) by wearing a T-shirt under a nice sweater that I co-incidentally never remove? My attire is my biggest issue, meaning everything else is going pretty sweet.
  • Emails. That’s a thing that happens, right? That hasn’t been relevant in years. Even when I worked at the university I was on a tiny team. I’d get one actionable email a month if things got hectic. That really wasn’t an exaggeration. They created my account last Wednesday and 230 emails were sitting in my account when I logged in for the first time. I spent much of my spare time today creating sub folders and auto-delivery commands.
  • Meetings. Oh, there were meetings. Being at the intersection of multiple departments, there are regular weekly meetings to attend. Marketing, promotions and scheduling all have regular meetings we’re expected to attend. Plus the 90 minute quarterly conference meeting that happened to be on the day I arrived. Something I haven’t missed about corporate work. Apparently I missed the one where they served beer and poutine. That’s not a joke.
  • I’m an office drone. I’m in a cubicle, but there’s a fair bit of space and we’re encouraged to customise them as much as we like. Wow, that sounds like I drank the corporate Kool Aid with an eager maw. I figure any way to make the most of working in a cubicle is worth doing. Now, how am I supposed to decorate without my coworkers realising that a large child has been employed in their midst?
  • Nice facilities. The common room is massive. Probably 3 or 4 times the size of my apartment. There’s free tea, drip coffee, hot chocolate/vanilla and an espresso machine. The views are quite stunning, looking East/West down Bloor or a lovely suburban Toronto vista. A passable flat white in hand, I surveyed the landscape (complete with rainbow) and smiled.
  • Friendly staff. Everyone seemed to be happy, not much in the way of grumbling as I’d expect. The company treats them pretty well (unless they’ve cultivated a cunning facade) and there’s a decent amount of job satisfaction. Most of the departments we visited had people sitting around in adjoining cubicles chatting or joking, not overly stressed.
  • Benefits. As well as corporate discounts for various services or companies, there’s a decent benefit plan in place. It’s flexible based on your needs and allows for things such as therapy, physio, eyewear, medicine and any other health concerns to be addressed. There’s also a personal healthcare expense account. Maybe most legitimate adults have gotten used to benefits packages, but it’s still quite the pleasant surprise for me.
  • Opportunities abound. A few of the departments offered to let me sit in on meetings they had if I wanted. If I wanted to learn about upcoming technological developments (which are usually catered meetings) I’d be welcome to join. The promo department suggested I offer my voice as a new potential voice over for the specialty channels. It could be quite lucrative, they said.
  • A great team. My team has a great attitude. There’s a jovial atmosphere, everyone seems to be chummy. Because of meetings and system maintenance interfering with my training, the only task I was assigned for the day was one that’d been embarked upon by the rest of the team: Picking my spirit dog. Yes, embarked was an intentional pun. After much searching, I found it. Of course it was a Leonberger. I think it’s apt.

Does a guy who loves Christmas in LA get a Hollywood?

I’m sure it’s no new sentiment that Christmas materialises earlier each year. We haven’t finished November yet, but the aisles are adorned with festive merchandise and stations added carols to their playlist (double down?). As soon as Halloween (de)ceased, garlands crept like brambles over its corpse. Things got jolly pretty quick and most people seem to have adopted it with an open heart and eager hands. I’m not the biggest fan, but I get Christmas in winter. It makes more sense. With age has also come the wisdom of knowing that just because something isn’t for me, that’s no reason I have to get in a shitty mood. Not when I can choose to ignore it instead.

There are nice things about Christmas though. Christmas parties, for one. I use the plural intentionally here, because I’m lucky enough to have accrued two. One from my former job, another for my looming employment. From the Kiwi cafe, we’re going on a boat cruise/dinner. Having not spent much time out on the harbour, it’s an awesome chance to see a different side of Toronto and “O Captain! My Captain” the hell of the evening. It’ll also be swell getting reacquainted with my former co-workers and let them know how the job is going. A week later I’m invited to another nautically themed shindig at my new job. They’ve hired out the Ripley’s Aquarium so I can see my much loved cuttlefish. Maybe mingling with co-workers too. I get to bring a guest, who I’ll proceed to openly ignore in favour of spending time with the cuttlefish. It’s fine though, if they’re bored they can just hang out with cuttlefish. Cuttlefish in captivity get sad sometimes, they need the company. Win/win. There’ll be food and drinks too, which I may not share with the cuttlefish. Their diets are quite particular. It seems like a great idea for a staff party though and obviously it showcases one of the great things about working for a corporation again: Perks.

When St Nicolas inevitably shows his jolly visage, other thoughts arise. How am I gonna spend my holidays? I get holidays this year. Outstanding. Being Jewish and having my Toronto family likely on a holiday of their own, I turn to my true family: My mates. With two lifelong friends spending a year here, they’re the family I know best. We’ve resolved to mimic Thanksgiving in throwing a misfits Christmas. They’ve come from large Xmas obsessed families and they’re looking forward to some relief this year. No assortment of presents to accrue or potential familial dramas to assuage. Just a few good friends having their own get together. We’ve resolved to make the day whatever we want, so now it’s my task to figure out what we need to make it so. A few things I’ve considered:

  • Creating nativity scenes composed solely of edible material. Devouring said scenes.
  • A slow cooker filled with mulled wine.
  • Eggnog ice cream sundaes.
  • A playlist of every ill-conceived Christmas carol we can find involving B-grade celebrities.
  • Home made dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets (because dinosaurs).
  • There’s gotta be some kind of secret Santa style game. We’ll need to recruit a few more people though.

I’m actually out of suggestions. I don’t know how I’m supposed to celebrate, my normal Southern Hemisphere festivities would involve beers, sun and bbq. This side of the world is still so foreign to me when it comes to Jesus’ birthday. Maybe I’ll have to crowd source. surely there are people out there with great ideas on how to kick it old yule. As long as we skip Snoopy’s Christmas. I can usually handle about 12 plays of the song per year. I’m sitting at 6 already, December’s gonna get tight. I’m not that into the holiday, but I wonder if going caroling would be fun. If the play is still to experience everything Canada has to offer with an open mind, should I put myself out there in its midst and give it my best? Now I wish I hadn’t wasted that Carole King bit, I could’ve finished with a fantastic pun.

Hell, oh darkness my old friend.

What would be your hell on earth? Something that preys on all your worst fears? Endless exposure to pain? Or death by a thousand cuts? We’ve all got so many pet peeves that, when stacked on top of one another, could create an insurmountable obstacle. What would make life so not worth living that you’d rather see what the afterlife has in store?

A few months back I was living mine. Constantly on edge, waiting to hear back from any number of important calls. I’d applied for a multitude of jobs and wanted some form of acknowledgement that I’d been considered. So many applications, zero feedback. It was agonizing, left me riddled with anxiety over the coming future and the worth of particular life choices I’d made that brought me to that point. Then the hell started. Call after call, multiple times a day. With my phone on silent I’d feel rumblings in my pocket, then fumble to unhook my headphones and plug them into my cell. Call missed. Or if I managed to connect to the call I’d be speaking directly with a recorded message notifying me that I’d won a cruise to the Bahamas. Telemarketers, always. Not knowing the numbers, if there was a missed call that I tried to ring back, I’d be notified that I was called to participate in a survey, which had expired. Thing is, any media corporation worth its salt is gonna be using a private number, so I had no chance of calling them back. I started to openly resent my phone and the excess stress it caused me. I was strung out on a series of applications that left me hanging and it felt like the noose was tightening. So my hell on earth? To be ever waiting on an important call, only to get spam calls instead.

Ooh, this is kind of fun. Let’s see what else…

Nourishment, or a lack thereof. Eating food constantly, taking in the calories and getting none of the nutrition. You’re left hungry at all times, constantly craving more. No matter how much you eat you’re never satisfied. Those pangs just keep eating away at you while you keep eating yourself to death.

Having your skin replaced by finger nails all over. All firm edges, except for the cuticles which would be in a constant state of agitation. How much does one ripped cuticle piss you off? Imagine that’s all that you are.

Being incapable of drying off. You’re always wet, at least a little. Regardless of circumstance, you’re sweating, your nose is running, something spills on you. One thing after another, your only hope to feel any sense of normalcy is to live in an underwater tank. Then again, this does lend itself to fanciful Little Mermaid shenanigans, so it can’t be all bad.

Every television show you watch is replaced with snippets of the Star Wars Christmas Special ad infinitum. Alternatively I think this scene on repeat is what heaven feels like.

Whatever you wear feels too tight. Unless it’s tight enough to cut off your circulation. Then it feels comfy.

Your internal voice is replaced by Gilbert Gottfried.

Every letter you read looks like braille but feels flat to the touch.

People are incapable of understanding any method of communication you transmit. Gestures, words, writing, anything. You will never be understood by anyone ever again.

Birds suddenly find your skin irresistibly delicious. They can smell it through even solid concrete and will do anything in their power to get to you.

Every building seems like a terrifying living monster to you.

Nobody can remember who you are. Ever. Except for that creepy dude who touches himself at the back of the street car.

You become a vegetable. Specifically a yam. You have sentient thought but no way of influencing anything.

You’re stripped naked and placed in a public square. You’re kept alive, incapable of movement while any passers by are free to lick you anywhere as much as they want.

Anything with negative consequences happens to you as soon as you think of it. Non-lethal thoughts only. If you’re incapable of thinking happy thoughts, your best survival tactic is to constantly be thinking of your own death.


Wow, that got grim. Would you believe that venting all that negative stuff has just flooded me with positivity? Saturday night, people. L’chaim and all that!

Plows and highs.

Today’s been a hodgepodge day filled with sloth (the action (or inaction, rather) not the animal) and an assortment of varied proclivities. Having consumed a celebratory Four Loko (seriously, why do I keep doing this to myself?) in honour of my current (technical) unemployment my thought patterns are ever so slightly scattered. Consequently, this entry might be too.

I got salt! This would make more sense if I gave context. So, here in Canada it snows. Not hugely revelatory, right? What you might not know is that here in Ontario at least, it’s illegal to have sidewalks covered in ice/snow. You’re responsible for keeping your sidewalk clear, which in turn prevents passersby slipping and breaking themselves. One option is shoveling, another is sand and the other is salt. Shoveling is more physically demanding than you’d think and if it’s iced over, you might as well be Gandalf plunging your staff in opposition to an encroaching Balrog. It’s tough going. Sand doesn’t erode the ice, but at least provides grip for passing pedestrians. Salt draws in the water from the ice and makes it dissipate. It’s useful stuff, but requires constant upkeep/vigilance. Last year I didn’t know this was a thing and as such I would’ve be surprised to hear I’d caused a fair number of slippages outside my place. I felt shitty about it. Salt comes in these 10kg bags and sells out faster than you’d think. After a few weeks it can be nigh impossible to find any. It barely started snowing heavily a few days ago and already it’s getting tough to track down. I went to No Frills and Walmart (who were entirely sold out) before finally discovering Sobeys had some. I bought 2 bags, which I’m hoping will be enough to last the winter. Packing them into my travel backpack I felt like some kind of pack mule, which differs from a drug mule because of the capacity of the cavity. It’s almost frightening to think that we’re settling in for snow over the next 4 months at least. I’ve just stepped into my winter boots and donned my coat, gloves and hat, but this is my life for the conceivable future. Time to start listening to post rock I guess (or Serial, which I finally started this afternoon. Gotta keep cool with the kids somehow).

I also made myself get back into Hannibal. It’s scary how easily distracted I’ve become. I constantly interrupt viewings to check email, Facebook, Twitter, etc to see if anyone’s tried to get in touch or there’s anything for me to check. Inevitably I’m not that important, but one good click deserves another. It means a 45 minute episode takes 80 minutes to watch. Not remotely feasible. Planting myself on my bed with no communicative devices in reach made it easier to plow through a few episodes. Finally finished season 1 and I’ve downed the first quarter of season 2. Stunning. Just an immaculately filmed show. Everything is nigh pornographic in its enticing nature. Lovingly portrayed preparation of food, expansive backdrops and engrossingly creative murders. Okay, so any time they use CGI fire it looks like a Windows 95 screensaver, but we’ll give them that one. The show’s spectacular as everyone has said and I’m glad I’m pushing through to concentrate on the proceedings. Excellent series that I should’ve followed serially. Next season I will. Hannibal Lector’s always been a favoured character of mine and it’s nice to see him being treated adequately, not as some cheap adoption of IP to get a quick ratings hike. If you haven’t picked up Hannibal yet, it’s well worth doing so. It has a great cast (including excellent guest stars), compelling narratives and visually rich iconography. If you’re looking for a new (old) drama series to fill your nights, fill your boots with this one.

I haven’t started my new job yet. Monday’s the day I return back to my preferred field. It’s been quite some time since I was plunged into the locomotive world of media and I’m actively revelling in the impending change of pace. It’s an adult job, guys, Benefits and holiday pay, salary. Hour lunches! My supervisor has been sending a few emails through and let it slip that I already have an email account there, so I guess half of Monday will be spent clearing those out. I haven’t set foot into the building as an employee and I’m already set to attend 4 staff meetings next week. One of which revolves around eating cake. I guess they employed the right guy after all.

Screenplaying with myself. Cinemasturbation. The show must go onanism.

To celebrate my last day as a barista, I drank enough coffee to prevent me from sleeping. Ever. Consequently I’ve decided to kill this next half hour by coming up with impromptu screenplay ideas.

  • A brilliant scientist discovers the cure for cancer, but the shock of doing so has her consciousness trapped in the body of a horse. She must quest to find Robert Redford (playing himself playing the titular character from 1998’s The Horse Whisperer), the only man capable of truly understanding her. Warning, may contain erotic human/animal subtext.
  • A lowly barista falls into a vat of magical brew coffee. It causes one eye to see 1 minute into the future while the other sees 1 minute into the past.
  • A young marketing intern discovers the woman of his dreams. The catch? She’s a character mascot from an unpopular cereal brand. He embarks on a personal quest to popularise the brand in order to meet an actress who best embodies her character.
  • A bike tyre repair girl discovers her skin has the ability to withstand large amounts of air pressure from within. She must rise up to save the world from Ccuumulative Industries, an evil corporation intent bent on privatizing oxygen.
  • An awkward, talentless tweenage girl is given 24 hours to get 1,000,000 views on Youtube or else her family will be executed by a crazed Buzzfeed writer. She mus find her chewy, marketable tootsie roll centre to save the people she loves.
  • A blind, deaf mute discovers that they can communicate with computers via a USB input at the end of their tongue. They have vital information that could save The President’s life, but they only have a week. Also they have no hands.
  • The internet becomes sentient and depressed. Humanity’s only hope lies in a cat obsessed first year psych major.
  • Aliens decide Vladamir Putin is the perfect human and imbue him with godlike powers. The president of Uganda is the only one who can stand against him.
  • A seamstress discovers that her equipment can cut apart and stitch together dimensions. She must seek to undo the mayhem she has caused before a picky customer gives her a bad Yelp review.
  • An anonymous, asexual, anthrophobic internet denizen drunkenly posts the most romantic tweet in the world and must avoid the world discovering his identity. In doing so, learns a greater lesson about the deadly perils of privacy in today’s society. At least 70 people die throughout the film.

Anyone can take these ideas and run with them, as long as you name a side character after me and credit me in the movie as being “swell”.

Unless your business card is scratch-‘n’-sniff. You’ve got me there.

On Monday I’m starting a job as a promo scheduling coordinator. The irony of which is that most promotion really rubs me coarse. If you’re thinking of giving me your business card or flyer, don’t. Just put it back in your pocket, please. We’re a modern day society, if I wanted your details I’d ask for them. I’d give you my email or something. I’m not gonna grab your dead tree that’ll take up room somewhere around my house until it takes up room in the bin, then in a tip somewhere. It might end up being recycled, if we’re lucky. Best net result. Just tell me what your business is called. If I care enough I’ll facebook (it’s a verb) or google it. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t let me know something’s happening, but gauge my interest before taking it further. You could save yourself or myself some embarrassment, and the environment just a tad. Even better, don’t print it out at all, just get with the times. Create some app that allows you to tap phones with someone else to send them a promotional email or something. It probably already exists, use that. Maybe ask for consent first.

Twitter. Facebook. You use them to surround yourselves with friends and sympathetic peoples who might want to engage in the things you do or make. Great. Please don’t overdo it. I resent the notion of sharing gig reviews that I write on Twitter or Facebook. I don’t want to thrash all available social networks, I’ve likely got the same audience on each. None of this stuff is important enough that it demands their attention so readily. My editor’s pretty into the promotional aspect and, hey, it works for him. Really though, I don’t care. I think it’s become increasingly obvious as I’ve become decreasingly enthused about my posts. Most of them end up as “this is a thing that I saw. It was seen” or something of the like. I don’t truthfully see why people would need to know. I mean, my editor would probably like to raise the view count in order to entice potential advertisers and more heavily monetise his site (no secret, right?). I don’t see how that’s my job. I’m just a pleb, leave this out of my hands.

It’s a hard balance, because I see the need for friends to promote events in order to get the word out. I’m sure it’s often something they genuinely think people will enjoy, thus the invitations. With anything arts based it seems the right to perform is based on the concept of “bringer shows” as a way of pay for play ethos. Thus friends promote the hell out of gigs because it allows them an avenue for performance. I don’t know that I’ve got any valid complaints here, probably more venting than anything. You’re fine to promote your artistic events all you want. I may resent the regularity of the posts, but I’m not gonna actively revolt against the practice. Just don’t take it personally when someone doesn’t come. People have busy lives and just because you’re really into something, it doesn’t mean everyone else has to be too. Your friends can support you following your heart without being there in person.

How much of this is me lambasting others for their actions while failing to extend the same criticism to my own? I mean, I promote this site once a week on Facebook. Every 7 days (when I remember) I update people with short snippets of the week’s content. I can see the numbers, I know when a spike happens. I don’t know if I’m luring in new people who never would’ve found it otherwise, or reminding the same people that there’s a heap more to read. I don’t think it’s excessive, but then again, how often do people look at my post and think fucking hell, this handsome rebellious figure who’s incredibly modest just posted another link to his site. He did that no more than 7 days previous. The system has been taken advantage of. I should really use better sentence structure when I form thoughts in my brain. Do we really think in words or just concepts? Why is this dashing rogue making me think these thoughts? Should I check his site to find out more? I’ll click, but I won’t like it. Because I imagine that’s how it goes most times. When I promote events or post links it’s usually because I think friends/associates may get a kick out of them. I’m no different than anybody I’m complaining about here. The only difference is the view through my own tinted glasses.

So what was the point of this whole rant again? Oh right, I’m a hypocritical asshole. Didn’t we already know that? I guess I just had to promote the concept to anyone who was unaware.