Failing anything, those silhouette chairs would be an exquisite way to freak out the cat.

Doors Open Toronto. It’s a magical time of year in which doors around Toronto are open to the public. DOORS! Who doesn’t love doors? It’s even more magical when those doors lead to a variety of interesting places usually hidden from the public eye. Have you ever wanted to see what goes on in an unused subway station that’s instead been relegated to space for film shoots? I HAVE. Too bad the fuckers didn’t open the doors to Lower Bay Station this year. I kid, the event is excellent. It’s free and there’s a massive range of places across the city. Maybe up to 100 buildings ranging from governmental, scientific and media institutions. Where did we go? What did we do? Well that’s exactly what I’m gonna write, so maybe keep reading?

We started out at the MaRS Discovery District. It’s basically a place where a bunch of scientifically inclined start ups go to work out neat ideas for the advancement of their dreams. Oh, we saw things. A robot made me tea. YOU HEARD THAT GODDAMN RIGHT. My good pal teaBOT asked me exactly what I wanted out of a cup of tea and made that goddamn tea. What a good dude! It’s super cool, you can utterly customise the type of tea you want. You use a tablet to specify which teas you want (a combination of up to three. It lists caffiene content), the ratios of each tea to one another. You then choose how hot you want it to be. You put the cup in and it does your devious bidding. It was miraculous. My dark cherry chocolate tea was everything dreams of tea should be. We strolled around seeing many other wonderful burgeoning future products. There was an at home vagina testing kit to save time and the need to visit a doctor for check ups. A foot pedal operated mini washing cube seemed a neat green alternative to putting on large loads (heh, loads). There was some long exposure camera you could leave in a place for up to three months without charging, while operating the thing from your smartphone. Best of all, we tried out these little foldable electric bikes. Kind of weird, the pedals were next to the wheels, so balance took a minute or two to grasp. Soon enough we were zipping about. Using the battery was excellent, but as soon as you tried to pedal they got goofy as shit. Given that your handlebars were connected to the front wheel, pedalling messed with your inherent balance.

We visited the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, which was a lot neater than the droll name suggests. Like most governmental buildings it was a plush building stacked with portraits of old white men with questionable sideburns. We saw inside some fancy offices and saw the Autobot mace of leadership, which gives the incumbent government power to discipline the opposing elected officials with old school federal punishment. It’s brutal shit. The tour took us through a bunch of rooms with fancy, fancy furniture and some snazzy art. Very governmental.

The Yonge street Ryerson campus was a head trip. It’s a monolithic eight story building in which each floor has been designed with a different environmental theme. In short: Captain Planet, the building. It’s way less tacky than that sounds, actually a hugely tasteful confluence of functionality and comfort. The place oozes money and the seating is without exception, supremely comfortable. I know this because being borderline hungover, I fought the allure of naps in every structure I leant/sat/lay on. It would’ve been a magical place to study, but instead we marvelled at everything. Of note was the “beach” themed level, which boasted a tiered gradient of beach themed beach bags and chairs, including creepy human silhouette seats. Seriously, these things were nightmarish, while also being irresistibly comfortable. Given the amount of natural light in the place, snoozing was an ever-present threat. We saw someone studying in a strange little cubical fortification that seemed like it’d rise up with defensive weaponry in the event she was disturbed. The place was wonderfully accessible in most places too, like they actually gave a shit about creating somewhere people could come together in the pursuit of learning. If that wasn’t enough, the stairwells hosted an array of embarrassingly cringe-worthy mashups of motivational and meme culture. I was sorely tempted to give up my current accommodations and simply go lurk as the Phantom of Ryerson. My house doesn’t have creepy silhouette seats. Why do I even live there?

Everything closed around 4-5pm, so we ran out of time to check out some of the other places on display. The event runs tomorrow too, so if you’re keen to see what a streetcar sleepover palace looks like, check out TTC Leslie Barns.

Now don’t mind me, I’m gonna go concoct a heist to steal all the furniture from Ryerson. They had chairs that’d make Professor X jealous.

The dork knight returns.

I’ve recently become re-smitten with the idea of playing D&D. “Dungeons and Dragons” for all you losers out there who aren’t up to the play with 42 year old geek acronyms. I can place the blame squarely on the shoulders of my friend. We went for coffee and she was talking about how her boyfriend was setting up a campaign. She was a bit nervous and quite excited about playing. She mentioned an excellent podcast The Adventure Zone (run by the My Brother My Brother And Me group) that sparked my interest even more. That wasn’t entirely it though. The real catalyst for this explosion of enthusiasm? She mentioned that she was playing a druid. Instantly I had flashbacks to The Ballad of Shenaughnaugh of the Shillelagh (it’s worth a read) and had to read more. I’d had great experiences with 5th edition and wanted to give it another crack. Then the second bomb dropped. As a level six druid I’d be able to shapeshift into a dinosaur.

Maybe let that sink in. A motherfucking dinosaur.

I had to make this happen, whether heaven or earth would heed my cries, I had to call out regardless. Fortunately my cries were heeded rather quickly, because whiny man-babies are pretty fucking intolerable. A friend offered to DM (Dungeon Master for all you pieces of shit who don’t have a flawless knowledge of the Gygaxian lexicon) and the wheels started turning. I guess a question most uninitiated folks (read: unevolved pond scum) would ask is “why D&D?” It’s funny you ask that. Funny a) because not even The Earth’s molten core could reach temperatures as uncool as you, b) because I have my own reasons. Dungeons and Dragons is a game where most anything is possible. Can you justify it somehow? Find a way to maneuver through obstacles and interactions in creative ways? Have you got an imagination? Then throwing yourself at the mercy of dice rolls and accommodating DMs means the world is your oyster. Why am I particularly so taken with the notion of playing a druid again? Knowing full well that I mentioned dinosaurs already?

Here’s the deal. Druids are a fun class. The two distinct routes are a focus on shapeshifting or elemental earth magic. They’re hedge knights or jacks of all trade. They can do a ton of useful stuff, albeit not in such a focused way as other classes. Even turning into a large animal, you’re probably not gonna be doing as much damage as a trained killer. You can cast all manner of fancy elemental spells, but there are wizards who live and breathe the arcane. They have a one up or two on you. Still, you’ve got a ton of resources at your disposal to support the rest of the party or find creative ways to solve issues. Here are two paths I’d consider taking:

Conmammoth

If my stats would work out right, imagine how neat it’d be to infiltrate enemy animal lines? I’d use my shining charisma and persuasive aura in order to try convince my beast brethren that all’s right with the world, nothing is wrong with this party of adventurers combing our turf. They seem swell. Oh and don’t they look hungry? Say Larry, how about you bite off your leg for them to roast over an open fire? That seems reasonable, right? I mean, the food chain is a thing for a reason. Why not me? Well, you know, my meat is so tough and unsatisfying. They’d have to keep searching for more legs and then we’re right out of legs. Surely the path of least resistance is the smartest course of action. You’re a smart woolly mammoth, right Larry? Thought so.

Batman

Concentrate on stealth, multi-class with a rogue. Shapeshift into any manner of small animals and attack the enemy from behind/underneath. Transform into a flying snake and fly up a tree, then swoop down for a nasty poison head chomp from above. Or what about becoming some small spider thing and launching myself out from the darkness? Are trap door spiders a thing? I’m pretty sure I can become a mole. A mysterious animal vigilante surprising evildoers with my bestial brand of justice. What is not righteous about that?

Failing anything, I’m just gonna turn into a dinosaur and stomp around. Do I need reason more than that? How else am I to truly avenge Shenaughnaugh?

Can’t get the stink off.

Disclaimer: There might be potentially objectionable/gross stuff in this post. Hell, I should likely throw that out in front of every post, but this time it’s probably warranted. If body things are icky to you, maybe don’t read this one?

With that out of the way, I went to the doctor today. Last chance to high tail it.

Okay. So. I went to the doctor today. Why? Because I was concerned about a certain pimple type thing on my penis. Just under the crown there was the teensiest little silvery nodule. Could it be herpes? There was only one dot. Does herpes have a singular? A herp? The herpetrator? Herpes is pretty common, so chances being what they are…

An aside: I’m not here to herpes shame anyone. I’m not looking to get herpes in the same way that I’d rather not get a cold. Not having herpes is in every way preferable to having herpes. If I get herpes though, life goes on. It’s not a big deal. My biggest priority in having herpes would be not passing it on to other people, much like a cold. In any case, knowing is everything. As you could’ve deduced from my flimsy grasp of the English language and how tenses work, I don’t have herpes. It’s a relief, in that it’s not something I need to think about as much as the alternative would be. With that said…

Despite being a logical, reasonable adult, it was embarrassing. The whole process was embarrassing. Coming out to my partner as potentially having it made me feel silly. Then I needed to make the appointment.

*Ring ring*
Receptionist: Please hold.
*Dial tone. No muzac up in this biz*
Receptionist: How can I help?
Me: Hi, I’d like to book a consultation with [REDACTED].
Receptionist: Certainly, what is this regarding?
Me: I, uh, I’d like to get something checked.
Receptionist: And what is that?
Me: [quiet voice] I want to see if something is herpes.
Receptionist: Sorry, I didn’t hear you, you’ll have to speak up.
Me: (and thank fuck I wasn’t at work or in public) herpes.
Receptionist: Was that herpes? Did you say herpes?
Me: Yes. That’s what I said.
Receptionist: Okay. She has an opening at 10:15.

I felt sheepish the whole time, like I was transported to a grocery store as a teen and the clerk was making loud price checks on embarassing items. I know there was no ill will or judgement on her behalf, but that didn’t make me feel any less self-conscious.

I arrived, waited and was eventually brought to another room by a nurse to wait some more. She told me that once she left I could strip to my underwear if it made me feel more comfortable or go The Full Monty. I told her that I saved nothing but non-existent modesty by keeping my boxers on, so opted to strip down. She gave me a large sheet of paper to put over my lap and left the room. I then faced the dilemma of whether or not to keep on my socks. Like, what is the protocol? Frankly it was odd enough wearing a shirt and no bottoms, but I figure having a young female doctor (who is roughly my age) walking into a room to see an unnecessarily naked man with a paper sheet over his lap would only seek to terrify both of us. It’s the definition of random encounter. The only thing worse would be if I were still wearing socks. I shed my boxers, pants, shoes and socks, then sat on the table. I looked at the sheet. It was huge, big enough to cover my body. I unfolded the whole thing- which reached half way to the ground- put it on my lap and waited. I sat there with this massive sheet and my shirt and waited some more. Then I felt self-conscious. Was she gonna think I was a total dork for having unfolded the whole sheet when half or even a quarter of the sheet would’ve been ample? I folded it in half.

I heard a knock at the door and for a second wondered how to say “come in”. Like, I didn’t want to say it too eagerly or saucily, cause that would be weird. I let out this half whimper and nothing happened. I said it again a little louder, but because I was confused it come out as if I was unsure of what I’d just said. It was only the nurse bringing in a swab kit in case the doctor wanted to test for herpes. I thanked her and she left. I looked down at the paper and folded it in half again. I waited some more.

Then the doctor came in. I don’t know why I felt so awkward, this wasn’t even my first time showing her my penis. Hell, I knew she wouldn’t even care, I’m sure to her my penis was about as interesting as my knee. I told her what I’d seen, how you kind of had to strain to see it under the right light. She inquired briefly about my sexual history then she asked me to take off the sheet (without commenting on how folded it was, I might add). She looked at it for maybe half a second before announcing “that’s not herpes.” I was a little bemused. She continued. “It’s a silvery nodule, it’s just a sebaceous cyst. It’s nothing you have to worry about. It’s tiny. It’ll go away on its own.” I was relieved, but still expected something more. “That’s it, really.” She assured me that it wouldn’t affect anything, that everything was quite fine. I thanked her and she left. I put my clothes on, then wondered to what extent I needed to fold up the paper on the bed. It wasn’t like anyone else would be using it, but I didn’t want to give anyone the impression that I was messy.

I do it to myself, I do.

Thanks Maslow, you’re a pal.

In the immortal words of the great philosopher Fredrick Durst “It’s just one of those days.” My phone is having trouble reading my touch as human and I’m stuck here thinking you know what buddy? I hear you. Something feels off in my psyche, like a dump truck full of existential dread has unloaded on my front lawn and I’m exhausted from trying to hide it from the rest of the neighbourhood. I’m bone-tired and my synapses ache from hauling these feelings around my brain. It’s weird, because there’s nothing especially tragic going on right now and that only makes this emergence all the more confusing. I was talking to my girlfriend the other day and suggested that while not everything is perfect in our lives, the floor is so much farther away than the ceiling. We could be happier, yes, but we could be considerably more distraught than we could be happier. I’ve got my health (aside from my rapidly degenerating post 25 year old body), a stable job, roof over my head, good friends and a burgeoning animal sports podcast empire. I don’t greatly want for things, which I guess is the desired result, right? I’m winning, right?

I was talking to my physiotherapist today and I found myself saying the words “my prime directive seems to be delaying future unhappiness” (yeah, I guess if I want my phone to register me as human I should start speaking like one). I don’t know if I’ve ever made a non-calculated risk, I’m not sure if it’s in my nature. I feel like I suffer from a real lack of spontaneity that goes deeper than just worrying about something going wrong. There’s this deep seated belief that I’m one bad decision away from fucking everything up. It’s not about finding happiness and things that thrill me, it’s about not being unhappy, as if this pursuit of neutrality is as far as I’ll get. Fulfilment takes a back seat to simply not having the world crumble around me. I’m not all doom and gloom all the time, obviously, but there’s a tension in my core that I’m ever searching for distraction from giving up. There’s a “why” that’s not being answered and everything feels so terrifyingly temporary.

You know the feeling after a laugh has subsided? The chuckles have run their course and the glow fades away? I’m terrified of the split second where a certain nothing sets in. When joy becomes neutrality. There’s a silent thought that lives in that moment that it won’t happen again. That forever I’ll be gasping for it while the weight of its absence seeps in. A kind of drowning that feels all too pervasive. It’s there waiting every single day and distraction seems to be the only way to forget it for a short while. Is this kind of avoidance healthy?

When I mentioned delaying future unhappiness to my physiotherapist, we were talking about body modification and how a tattoo seems so terrifyingly permanent. How every few years I seem to shed elements of my personality in a snake-like fashion and the things that meant something to me have faded into the past. There’s a dread in permanence that I can’t escape. I gave her my stock standard line that “I don’t care about anything enough to live with it for the rest of my life.” I’ve said it countless times, but for some reason today it sunk in and resonated. It’s true. I have a lack of passion that comes back to haunt me in those split seconds between laughs. There are no causes close to my heart. My absence of spirituality or belief in any capacity makes me fear for my own shallow nature. I long so much to have anything that drives me besides inertia and not knowing what else could be around the corner. Delaying future unhappiness is not enough and I don’t know how to find that calling. I don’t know how to answer that “why”. How do I find that meaning? Is it something you can deliberately grasp? Or is it a haphazard stumble each time? Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere. I’m just worried that waiting for it to come along isn’t gonna help me find it.

Your daily dose of cerealism.

Hi. Howdy. Greetings and other salutations. I’m trying to be chipper right now, but I think my body is beginning to collapse in on itself. I had so much goddamn sugar over the weekend. The epitome of “it sounded like a good idea at the time”, one week after getting a clean dental check up I went in and R.E.K.T. it all. As if the check up was some test to pass and now that I’ve ticked the box it gives me carte blanche to destroy everything it stood for. Now I’m trying to cut back on insidious little sugar landmines I’ve placed through my habitual workplace timeline. Perhaps the morning mocha (2 espresso shots from the coffee machine, a drop of half and half then a serving of hot chocolate from the hot chocolate machine) needs to go. I’ve also insidiously been falling into the trap of buying three packs of cookies from the tuck shop downstairs. They’re clearly just repackaged from Costco. Hell, I’m not even sure if they’re the kinds of cookies I like. They’re soft all over instead of having a crispy exoskeleton and soft interior (I like my cookies like I like my lobsters, clearly). Still, that explosion of sugary baked goodery was artificially hauling me through the afternoon slump. Added to this dastardly temptation, it’s iced capp season again. How am I to resist the allure of chilled sugar, sodium and caffeine? My Caniwi heart beats with a longing so pure for this nationally lauded cool treat, yet I must rally against its siren song.

Some people have real problems, y’know.

To be honest, I didn’t need those four bowls of cereal at the Saturday Morning Cartoon and All You Can Eat Cereal Party during the weekend. I did make good on that All You Can Eat promise though. Even being small bowls, I don’t know how much more my body could’ve taken. Pretty sure the ringing endorsement my dental hygienist gave me last week has spoiled like spilled milk. As someone who only really discovered the joy of sugary cereal as an adult (coco pops were reserved for rare treats at home), this was my mecca. Mecca is a place where you slowly slip into a diabetic coma, right? The table was overloaded with gratuitous amounts of sugary cereals. What’s more, these were flashy North American cereals I didn’t have access to back home (but given our household ban on froot loops and its ilk, “access” is a moot point). I finally tried Lucky Charms in all of its magical deliciousness (not to mention crumbly, dessicated marshmallows). Corn pops in both normal and Reese’s variety, sugar snaps, peanut butter cheerios, Trix (too good for kids), nesquik cereal, shreddies and a mountian of granola. My favourite “technique” (because my bowls became mountainous enough to rival Olympus), was to do a bottom layer of granola, complete with raisins and assorted dried fruit. Atop this I’d pile the rest of those glorious corn orbs. What this meant was a variety of consistencies and densities in each bite. While the corn based cereals would often grow soggy and bloated, the crunchiness of granola countered in sublime fashion. Added to the the taste of peanut butter and chocolate cereal, I attained some measure of godhood. I couldn’t tell if the 60s commercials were actually cereal or surreal. My mind began to slowly unravel as I discovered the multitudes of the universe coalescing and expanding around me. I felt the heartbeat of all matter simultaneously and discovered my connection to the great unknown. In short, I evolved into an all new life form.

Or perhaps I was just stockpiling a future sugar rush with which to bulldoze tonight’s recording of the first ever Air Bud Pawdcast. I know I said I was recording it like 10 days ago, but my cohost lost his voice, which is contrary to the whole point of podcasting. Are you excited? ARE YOU EXCITED?

I don’t blame you.

Questions of self-ish.

It feels like ages since we last chatted like this. Just the two of us. Like that smash hit from Big Willie Style. I was so wrapped up in this whole dialogue exercise that I overlooked y’all. Then I went to that JPOP anime hologram show and THEN I wrote about writing dialogue. I’ve been so narcissistic, focusing on my things without even casting an ear towards your worries. So how’ve you been? Any trials and tribulations coming your way lately? How are the kids? They doing all those kid things like walking? Eating? Shitting? Sleeping? Breathing? Talking? Harvesting sunlight nutrients to acquire sweet, sweet vitamin D? What about the job? You going in day in/day out? Doing what you love? Loving what you do? Working Hard? Hardly working? All the livelong day? Burning the midnight oil? Keeping up with all that watercooler talk? Exchanging time and energy for financial recompense? Paying taxes? Meeting those minimum fiscal requirements for general life upkeep?

What about Adam? How’s Adam doing? He still doing all those typical Adam things like walking? Eating? Shitting? Sleeping? Breathing? Talking? Harvesting sunlight nutrients to acquire sweet, sweet vitamin D? Oh that Adam. You know ol’ Adam with his hair, skin pigments and nails. He’s one of those guys with a series of internal organs that keep his daily bodily functions running according to the demands of life, ain’t he? Such Adam behaviour. What a wild and crazy guy.

Enough about Adam anyway, what’ve you been up to? Been getting out of the house? Feeling the wind on your cheeks? Observing all the life going on around you? Interacting with other forms of matter? Going out to events with other people? Using sidewalks? Pressing buttons? Utilising electrical appliances? Going on the internet? Surfing the web? Travelling full speed down the information superhighway? Downloading data? Expending bandwidth? Beaming signals into outer space and back down to communicate with other users? Watching things? Reading things? Hearing things? Tasting things? Smelling things? Touching things? I thought so. Sounds right up your alley.

To be honest though, a conversation is a two way street. It’s a little rude that you haven’t asked what I’ve been up to, how my life’s been going. Surely if this really is a friendship you’d be interested in my trials and tribulations. I’m a bit miffed that you didn’t even inquire as to my goings on. This has all been a tad one sided, what with me asking all the questions and such. It’s like we don’t even talk no more. It’s all about you, you, you. Am I not important? Am I not human as you are? If you prick me, do I not bleed? Whence hath mine existence tarried in mires thon self o’erleapt? Zounds! Handkerchief!

Maybe this is why it’s been ages. Have you ever thought that? Perhaps the reason why we don’t see too much of each other any more is because this stopped becoming a “we” when you left “me” out of the equation. You’ve changed. We used to be so close. We used to be something, but now? I don’t even know who you are anymore.

Then again, what is it to really know someone? Perhaps I’ve been unnecessarily judgemental, jumping to conclusions and shutting you out like this.

Let’s try this again. How does tomorrow sound for you? Good. I’ll see you there.

Talking about talking.

Well there goes that experiment. Barring yesterday’s gig review (I needed to get it done and I was too lazy to write twice in one day), my attempt at doing a week of dialogue was a mixed bag. It’s not a skill I’ve refined, nor did I put a lot of time into each entry. Writing dialogue is simply an area I’ve often been interested in, but haven’t veered towards. Thus my week (six entries in all) involved trying a few different scenarios on for size.

Each entry involved very little pre-planning. Most of them I toyed with in my head during my workday. I tried to imagine basic scenarios with some kind of differential. There didn’t need to be conflict per se, but I knew things would work better if the characters could be parsed from one another. The one stipulation I had for the week was to not mention gender. Why? Because I don’t know whether my dialogue comes across in a gendered fashion. I was curious about gender neutral notion, to see how characters would evolve stripped of descriptors. The goal was to have them sculpted by their views/opinions and not to have that coloured by preconceived assumptions. How much does a character’s gender shape how you internally define that character? I don’t know how important it really is, being a socially constructed concept and all. I’m not gonna claim some kind of “I don’t see gender” mantle, I definitely had gender in mind when I wrote. I’m curious to hear if any of you readers placed certain genders on certain characters and how that matched up to my views.

I quickly learned that I have a habit (as I’m sure most people do) of creating characters as a mouthpiece for myself. I wanted to move past it as best I could, but “best I could” meant that characters were often pop culturally obsessed or intentionally possessing widened perspective. I didn’t want to straight up write two dimensional cardboard cutouts, but simultaneously was writing each entry in just over 30 minutes, which didn’t give a hell of a lot of time for development. It’s damned hard to tap into the kind of empathy that lets you think like an entirely different person. I feel like the characters that felt less developed were those more distanced from myself. I tried not to set up straw man characters, to make sure they were at least more nuanced than sticking to one central conceit. Still, a few came off a little stagnant.

It’s really evident how much I was stumbling by reading the first few lines of each conversation. I began each piece with one line and in my head improvised the dialogue that would flow from that point. I didn’t know how well I’d deal with conflict. The friend calling the other friend out on being narcissistic, tensions of a date that wasn’t working out, the introvert vs extrovert conversation. That one was actually the piece that had me sweating. I’m pretty extroverted and don’t have a lot of experience looking at things from an introverted lens. I didn’t want to short-change either side, but didn’t have as much capital of experience to put behind the introvert. How was I supposed to drive their through line of action without creating a narrow petulant teenager?

The other tension that surfaced was attempting to not make everything a lesson or have some kind of greater resolution. Characters didn’t have to evolve in half an hour. Situations didn’t necessarily have to come back around into a verbal ouroboros just because it was a neat bow to tie. People don’t. Situations rarely have a clean ending. Yet I have this predilection for personal growth and change that’s almost patronising. Once I start writing characters, I want the best for them. Killing my darlings is hard and while they don’t all have to be Mary Sues, I just want them to be happy. I want characters to undergo challenges, to face up to them, get hurt and come out better off in the end. Most of all I wanted conversations to feel like they could’ve come from real people. Like my characters could come off the page enough for people to identify with a little.

Is dialogue something I’ll dip back into? I think so. It’s a nice way of working out how to set a scene rather than falling into my patterns of stream of consciousness ranting. I want to try different differentials and see how they work. I’d like to play with age, status, gender and feel out those tensions. Like everything else I do in this project, my fervent wish is to improve, to experiment more and understand the hows and whys of stylistic changes.

Cheers for coming along for the ride.