Last night I experienced a unique sensation. The skin on my nose, cheeks and temples felt chaffed and raw. Weird, certainly. There was an element of exhilaration too. Why? Had my skin began to peel off like some Mission Impossible reveal? Did I accidentally stand too close to the flame of a hot air balloon? A disagreement with a belt sander? An anti-ageing exfoliate gone wrong?
Surprisingly not. I saw Japandroids live in concert.
Japandroids have been one of my bucket list bands for some time. I guess on a technicality I saw them already, but it was a short (albeit blistering) set at the sunny (also blistering) 2013 Laneways concert back in Auckland. Derailed by technical difficulties, it was a bit of a shitshow. They may be a two piece who can output a Capital Fuckton of noise, but they were hardpressed to do so with their sound continually cutting out. I took a mulligan on that and decided I still hadn’t really experienced the band in all its glory. So when tickets came up for their Danforth Music Hall gig came up, I pounced on ’em (still only managing one of the last few balcony seats).
One of the first times in ages I’d been at a gig without a dorky reviewer’s notebook, I was keen to get sweaty in the mosh pit. Being saddled with a balcony seat, I was a little bummed. I arrived ten minutes before they were to go on and took my chances with a security guard. He asked about my accent and jokingly asked whether I’d come all the way to see them. He let me through on the condition that I didn’t cause any trouble. “Scout’s honour!” I replied jauntily. I strolled into the hall, through the crowds, directly to the front. Canadian audiences being what they were, I didn’t even need to push. I flashed back to meeting a Canadian gal at a gig circa 2007. She’d mentioned how Canadian audiences had this unspoken rule to be excellent to everyone around them, like Bill & Ted. She said people didn’t intentionally push and there was an effort to make room if possible. Being idealistic, my eyes lit up and I stored the notion straight in my heart. As I weaved through the crowd without pushing at all, I smiled through time at her astute observation.
They kicked off with “Near to the Wild Heart of Life”, a single I’m as unenthused about as I am of the identically named album. Look, it’s fine. It’s rock music, but lacking Japandroids’ usual grit and bite. The album feels too clean. Fewer grunty howls in favour of doo-wop choruses. The lyrics sound trite and bordering on cliché. It’s not terrible by any means, but aggressively mediocre from a band who’re usually awesomely aggressive. Still, live it was a ton of fun. I’ve long found it difficult to truly feel the same way about mediocre tracks when they’re played live. Being in the presence of such raw energy breaks down those barriers nicely. Of course, they won’t be transcendent like those songs you fucking love, but they’re not awful, is all I’m saying. Even in these new tracks, I had a blast. 360 degrees of people singing, we were all being whipped around in a sweaty frenzy of joy. Whenever riffs from Celebration Rock or Post Nothing launched, I lost my shit. So, continually. The band were giving their all and having a riot of a time. The crowd repeatedly climbed onstage to crowd surf and the band didn’t make a move to stop them. Being front and centre, by the end of the concert my shoulders ached from all the overhead lifting.
In times of low energy, it’s always amazing how invigorating live music can be. I’ve been so disinterested in going out lately, but after finally seeing Japandroids do a solid set, I’m all too keen to get out and see as much as I can.
Oh, and the raw face thing? I’d sweat so much and so often that wiping it off was rubbing against the skin underneath. So in effect I’d become my own sander.
Am I gonna need to start packing a portable cell charger again? Pokémon Go is back! Bursting back onto the screens of former and present addicts alike, there are 80 new generation two pokémon to catch. It’d been a while since I’d loaded up the app for several reasons:
- When I tried, I’d never get past the loading screen.
- It’s the middle of winter, it’s been too cold to use a phone outside without those dorky smartphone gloves (and I lost mine).
- The game kind of lost its appeal when it became endless grinding.
- With work no longer 5km away, I couldn’t jog and play on the way.
Half of these excuses are still relatively relevant. Amazingly this morning, however, when I opened the app I actually got all the way to the play screen. Callooh callay! Within a couple of minutes I’d already found my first new pokémon; a Swinub. Pretty apt that a ground/ice pokémon is all over Toronto in the darkest heart of winter. It was almost emotional, getting reacquainted with this game that had totally absorbed me six months ago. Then I got reacquainted with all the bugs (glitches, not just Spinarak swarms). To be fair, the game only crashed 18 times today. I’m used to a 3-5 minute crash rate on average. I’ve written it off as part of the experience. Sometimes you’ve got to be diligent with things that are important to you. I get past the log screen in about a quarter of my attempts. Often a pokéstop will be enough to hang the game. Or trying to catch pokémon from a moving bus. Or rotating the screen too quickly. Or clicking basically any button. In short, playing the game isn’t too dissimilar from the dial-up porn experience. Once again, if you want something enough, you’ll wait. To be honest, the issues are probably either with my outmoded phone or slow mobile data plan. The price you pay for cheap, unlimited internet. Is it worth getting a new phone to run a mobile game better? Probably not. I’ll wait till this one dies.
Now the fun parts. New pokémon are everywhere. Seriously. So many shadowy outlines showing up in the tracker. Oh, that’s another thing. The tracker function is fucking tight. They’ve finally fixed it up and it works exactly like it should. A screen pops up with nine pokémon and the landmarks they’re near. Then if you click on the footsteps underneath the pokémon’s entry it’ll show you where that landmark is. It leads you directly to them, what more could you want? Surely there’s no need for online trackers any more? I can’t wait to get out there once the snow melts and run around.
There seem to be new items too. Two new berries with different effects. The nanab berries (they look like little pink bananas) slow the pokémon you’re trying to catch down. They’ll do their animations less often (always a pain in the ass if it’s a tough catch and they keep swatting your balls away). Pinap berries (a cross between a pineapple and a pinecone) seem sweet as. They’ll double the candy output when you catch the pokémon. If you’re desperate to evolve something, you could seriously cut down your required catches. Maybe I’ll finally evolve my starters after all.
The big guess is what all these new pokémon will do to battle tiers. We’ve got two new eveelutions, which could hopefully unseat some of the dominant heavy hitters. Is there anything that can deal with dragons? Any new ice types? Tyranitar was always a beast in the original games. How about Blissey as a defender? It always had so much goddamn life. How does battling even work any more? Did they balance movesets? Have certain attacks been nerfed? Does any of this actually matter any more? I have no idea.
But I intend to find out.
Despite writing up a big post for Valentines Day, my girlfriend/valentine and I didn’t get to celebrate much on the day. That wouldn’t do. Never one to shy away from a good ol’ celebration, I still wanted to do have some fun, even a day removed. I thought about what we could get up to. The weather was typical February fare. Leaving the house merely to go to a restaurant didn’t seem that enticing. There were no places we’d been especially chomping at the bit to try. Leaving the house at all didn’t seem overly great. What kind of activity was possible at home then? It was a school night, so hookers and blow would’ve been sub-optimal. Creating memories had always been the best kind of celebration, but what if we could make memories that resulted in tacit reminders? Arts and crafts were always fun. How about a totem to remind us of spending time together? What about some type of sculpting or moulding? I had it. We could get a bunch of modelling clay and make one another. Then we’d have dinky little statues. Sure we’d be smote by God for creating false idols, but who needs heaven when you basically have your own action figures?
It was really fucking rad. I hadn’t used clay since I was ten or so and had to make an emperor penguin out of Fimo for school. I’d hardly been an inspired artist as a kid and the penguin was no exception. Its back was all warped and it had human eyes, but all things considered it more composed than Beast Jesus. My girlfriend picked up a stack of different colours and a heap of tan clay. We opened the packs, rolled it flat and started moulding. I had no idea where to begin, but her suggestion of the torso was a good call. I got to work on this lump, trying to figure out proportions. I thought of what my girlfriend looked like naked and tried to emulate her curves as best I could. It was remarkable how the clay shifted underneath my fingers. I’ve got warm hands and they smoothed over any blemishes easily. I concentrated on certain aspects, the gentle shape of her hips, those cute little bones that frame her belly button. It was pretty handy having her right next to me. The breasts were something I wanted to get right. Tired of how so many guys tend to create art with these unrealistic basketball boobs, I aimed to represent as best I could. Not too big, but as perfectly proportioned as her own. I wasn’t putting together some monument to cheesecake, but a sweet little totem of the woman I love. I can’t tell you how handy it was having her next to me. A simple “hey love, mind lifting your shirt? I want to make sure I get your tits the right size”. I got an excellent reference, plus the chance to sneak a peek. The perfect crime…
Proportions were tough, but I tried using my mind’s eye as much as possible. It was fascinating. How far did her arms reach when they were hanging at her side? To the edge of her bum? What about legs? What kind of musculature do legs have? Could I create definition between the thighs, knees and shins? Did I have the right texture to her belly? What about her back? Was there enough flesh there? How big was a head, exactly? Could I shape the cheeks? Nose? Leave space for eyes without getting all uncanny valley (“my lips aren’t a third the size of my head, darling”)? Feeling the clay shift between my fingers, I briefly wondered if this was how FSM felt when he sculpted us with his noodly appendage. I looked over. Her version of me was flatter, with Earthworm Jim legs. She’d done an excellent job of creating textures though. The pubic hair, little penis with its urethra. She’d done some rad facial features too, it was all kinds of neat. I couldn’t get her to free-stand, despite all my efforts. While I’d initially sculpted legs I was chuffed with, I’d bulked them up in order to try and establish some literal balance to the piece. I didn’t want it to fall flat on its carefully sculpted cheeks. Either set.
How do they look? Well her legs are chunky, there’s no getting around that. Proportion-wise I think I did a decent job. Her face doesn’t look nightmarish, even if I forgot to give her eyebrows. I’d put such effort in sculpting a representative nose, but it was flattened in the process. I’m bummed that I missed her armpit hair, ’cause that’s something she’s proud of IRL. I’m stoked with how her hair came out. I decided last minute to try texturing her long locks and while I did it hastily, it looks alright. Her version of me is a behemoth. I’m maybe two heads taller than she is, with neat little flat “mannaries” and nipples. All the facial features are choice and the hair came out superbly. My little peen looks great, if I do say so myself.
All in all it was a really fun night and a hell of a way to spend Valentines Day. Plus now if I’m ever feeling small, I can remember that she thinks of me as a giant.
I just accidentally made the typo “ocuntdown timer” which may indicate what kind of workday it’s been. Why are people so obsessed with setting meetings? We live in the age of connectivity. Have people not yet realised they can send an email and curtail the need for busy worker bees to get up and move to a single room? We’re not all capable of choosing when we want to take in new information. It’s a revolutionary concept and it’s high time that people get with the program. Maaaan, working from home yesterday was nothing but bliss. I could work steadily, uninterrupted by people coming to my desk or calling me.
***Sorry, I had to stop for a few minutes as someone came to my desk.***
Yet again, working from home was the best. I don’t know if I could do it full time, for exactly the reasons this New Yorker piece lays out. One day a week though? It’d allow me to recharge and feel less frustrated on a weekly basis. It’d also save me from accursed meetings with anyone but the cat. She interrupts every once in a while, but it’s less often and normally-
***Sorry, I had to stop for a few minutes as someone came to my desk. It’s almost like I have a job to do or something.***
Anyway, I’m still in awe of the fact that I can work from home and the framework is pretty simple. As long as my work computer is turned on (logged off is fine), I dial into it and run it through a remote access application. Then I can move between computers by pressing alt+tab. Have I remarked enough that we LIVE IN THE FUTURE? If I’ve got an appointment that’s closer to home, I can instead take the day at home, go to my appointment then go back home without stepping one foot into the office. All it takes is a two key combination! Technology truly is the magic of our world.
Of course, there are good things about both. Sometimes it’s helpful to be in the office. Let’s take a swing at some upsides of each.
Perks of working at home:
- Sleeping in (though oddly enough I was technically two minutes late for work. Don’t tell anyone).
- Clothing optional.
- Cheap lunches.
- Choose your own environment.
- Only Big Brother is watching you.
- No commute.
- A wider wealth of options for taking breaks (midday naps included).
- You could probably cook a roast without other people acting like it’s weird.
- Not having to interact with anyone you don’t want to.
- Avoiding the guy who loiters in the kitchen making conversation with anyone who passes by.
Perks of going to work:
- Stops you from oversleeping.
- Routine promotes productivity.
- Free (terrible) coffee and tea in the kitchen.
- Communal snacks on offer.
- More expensive and comfortable furniture.
- A slide. If you work at an office with a slide, that is.
- The commute forces you to read/listen to something.
- The stationary cupboard exists.
- You can still cook an entire roast and when people ask to have some you can pause, think for a second and say “no.”
- Social interaction is healthy. Probably. Sometimes co-workers are alright.
- You can loiter in the kitchen making conversation with anyone who passes by.
Did you notice the word “meetings” on that list anywhere? FUCK NO. Meetings can go suck a fuck.
It’s Valentines day, and I think discussions of romance have been pretty scant around here as of late. Mentions of “love” or “relationships” have been reduced to a few token mentions of my/the girlfriend, hardly a sentiment overflowing with evocative imagery or flowery prose. I haven’t been talking about how things are going between us, ongoing tensions or resolutions. Peaks we’ve overcome or trials we’ve faced. Really though, I haven’t mentioned anything purely because things are going so well, and that’s boring to hear.
On the other side of the equation though, things going well feels anything but boring to experience. I remember the early days of the relationship fondly. One of our biggest issues was that we were terrible at watching things together. In short, every time we lay down to switch on a movie or show, we realised we could be fucking instead. Pure, adrenaline fuelled passion while we were figuring one another’s bodies out. Discovering sweet spots, how to drive one another wild. Steamy and unshackled, almost furious with desire. Throwing ideas at one another to see what stuck. Once again, fond memories. The unspoken element however, were nerves. Being unsure of how things could go, often being afraid to ask. At times, holding back or pushing too far. Communication, endless communication that to this day I still cherish. Asking before pushing blindly into new territory. Enthusiastic consent, or offering suggestions. We worked at it and improved on our chemistry together, discovering all the areas where we meshed. Aiding one another through the areas that needed help. The sex is less frequent now, as spare time, physical and emotional energy have been in shorter supply. It’s also a lot warmer, deeper (emotionally. My dick didn’t somehow grow an inch or anything) and satisfying on a whole different level. We’re still more than happy to try new things, but the way we communicate about them is much smoother, there’s no ego about it. We’re great together, we both love our sex and simply being able to touch skin night after night is one of the greatest daily pleasures I couldn’t have imagined a year ago. It’s not possible to take something for granted when it brings you so much joy.
This time last year we had a pending move on our hands. Time was wrapped up in prepping, packing and dealing with the associated stresses. A see saw of excitement and dread. So much potential hidden under piles of exhaustion. Once it happened, the stress seemed to fall away and we stumbled joyfully through the new boundaries of living together. Thankfully because of who we both are, it couldn’t have been easier to navigate. Learning about how to make space for one another, the tensions of desire for intimacy and a need for solo time. I don’t want to sound too saccharine about it, we had tons of fun. It allowed me to see a whole different side of her. Yeah, I knew who she was before we shared a home, but it wasn’t the same. When we’d visit one another there was an implied necessity to be “on”. If we were hanging out it sorta felt like we had to be our best selves, constantly try to remind the other why we were so rad to be around. Living together the artifice is gone. We have nothing to prove, we know we love one another and that ultimately we’re on the same team. We want the relationship to thrive and grow. Part of that being the ability to accept one another as we are. To accept the things that at first glance aren’t our favourite aspects, but are just another feature of the person we’d each love to spend the rest of our life with. To know and trust that we can talk things out. That if something truly bothers us, our partner is likely not being intentionally malicious, but blissfully ignorant. Using our words.
I’ve found myself sharing my life with a gorgeous soul through and through. She has a passion for the things she holds dear that’s awe inspiring to behold. I’m the luckiest person in the world to be one of those things. She’s smart and sensible, in ways that complement me. We work well as a team. She’s boisterous in all the right ways, always happy to look for the adventure in the simplest of errands. She shares my love of play, whenever we can find it. She’s a goofball, makes me laugh deep resonant belly laughs till I cry. Seeing her smile lights up my world. She’s so giving in everything she does. Her heart’s in her hand always, in her touch or desire to help those she loves. She cares so much and it warms me to my core, inspires me to look for the good in others. She’s beautiful and sexy and catching her eye is enough to make my heart quiver. It’s so effortless to be in love with her, because I can’t imagine any alternative. She makes me say things that could only sound cheesy if you hadn’t met her. I tell her I love her time and time again every day. I mean it every single time. My biggest worry is that no matter how many times I do, it won’t convey the depth. Then again, words never could. That’s something I’ve got the rest of my life to keep working at.
So that’s “the girlfriend”. She’s one hell of a dame and I’m one of a lucky fella. Happy Valentines day Lioness. Once again (but never enough), I love you.
Do you think lactose intolerant white supremacists are finally learning about the dangers of intolerance? Also, seriously? You’re gonna make chugging milk an act of hatred now? Cows don’t even know what racism is. You’re using a heavily processed dairy product as a statement of purity. Do you understand how ridiculous that is? This “pure” substance has been collected, separated, fortified, pasturised, homogenised then packaged. It’s like saying you’re really into stealing cars, then playing a game of Second Life where your character plays Second Life, playing a character who plays the PSOne Grand Theft Auto through a PC emulator. There are a lot of filters between you and your message, dude. Also please do a ton of gallon challenges so I can see you vomiting up your corroded vital organs all over your worthless bodies. They’re not doing you or the world any good here. Thanks.
Plus, why use plain milk as a symbol of your pride when it’s not even the most delicious one? Don’t get me wrong, I love me a big glass of milk (oddly enough, growing up on skim milk, I kind of prefer it. It’s what you’re used to, right?). Before I started drinking coffee I’d often order milk at a cafe in lieu of a hot drink. That being said, chocolate milk is the tits! If you neo nazis have a problem with that, I’m pretty sure the entire nation of NZ want to fight you. Strawberry is great too. Banana may be the only flavour that really wouldn’t hold its own, but I’m happy to leave artificial banana out to drown. Fuck artificial banana. Also fuck these bigoted, ignorant, hateful fucks who care so little for others that they’re ruining a quality dairy product for the rest of the world.
The thing they’re missing in this whole dumb (and it started on 4chan, not known for its inspired political idealism (“For the LULZ” doesn’t exactly evoke confidence)) milk as purity thing is that milk is at its absolute best in an assistance role. I love milk, but milk tends to be one mere aspect of a more holistically enjoyable recipe. Chocolate cake uses milk, but it’s how that milk works together with the other ingredients that makes chocolate cake as wondrous, smooth and lovably dense as it is. Pancakes, omelettes, cheesy pasta. Hell, milkshakes aren’t just milk. Things work better with cooperation, when we support one another and help accentuate each other’s skills and expertise. Not trying to kill off the parts of us that are unique and special.
Because frankly, we’re all tired of your bullshit.