Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

I’m not sure why, but I’m in a real punchy, combative mood at today. I just feel unsettled, like there’s a crest within arm’s reach and I’m simmering in the boring body of the wave. As if all I need is to break through to what lies beyond and I’ll be surfing on top of the world. Whatever expectations I had getting out of bed, today has fallen short.

Maybe I feel cheated after waking up. I had some bananas party dream. A huge group of us had rented out a mansion on an island and everything was top shelf. We were stocked with high end liquor, the place was spacious, stylish and lavish to the extreme. Pretty sure there were several hot tubs. Even cooler, there were random platforms and hidden areas strewn throughout. Some areas were accessible only by descending ladders or climbing ropes. It was like a video game. Every now and again there’d be a cool looking nook or cranny that required a leap of faith, coupled with pulling yourself up. At some stage during the weekend, a guy from work (who I’ve never hung out with outside the office) tapped me on the shoulder and told me to follow him.

He began an assortment of parkour manoeuvres and I responded in kind, keeping a few steps behind him. We jumped off structures, there were flips, tunnels where we crawled on our bellies and an actual cave. With no trepidation, I jumped down the hole and looked around. It was a glorious video arcade. They had everything. All the Capcom Vs series, the classic MAME consoles, every permutation of DDR you could imagine, a wall of shooting games, pinball and those fairground games where you win tickets to exchange for prizes. It was a dream come true, but as I woke to the real world, my dream had not come true. There was no arcade. Just my bedside table and a clock with twenty minutes until I had to get up. I felt cheated.

It’s silly, because at the end of the day I don’t have much to complain about. I’m going to a space pirate toga party tonight. Knowing the crew (pun actually not intended), it’s surely gonna be bacchanalian as hell. There’ll be a ton of friends I haven’t seen in ages. The kind of folks who attend these events are raucous, but not necessarily inconsiderate. I’m sure there’ll be heaps of awesome costumes, stellar performances and wicked conversation. I’ll have a bunch of drinks then get rowdy myself. My kind of party, my kind of night.

At the moment though? At the moment I’m almost craving an argument. I want someone to come at me so I can snap back and reduce them to rubble. It makes no sense, right? I’m not that kind of person.

Maybe Bumble is making me angry. Perhaps I’m tired of self proclaimed yogis (get yourself a girl who can do this), people who are fluent in sarcasm and dog moms. People who use Instagram as a stand in for a personality. Those seeking a “partner in crime” or “something real”. The foodies, fitness freaks and fun enthusiasts. Anyone writing “Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose” unironically. I’m here chastising people and realistically I’m no better. Before I thought better of it, my profile picture was of me and an errant lynx I found wandering around the workplace. Of course people are gonna see that as me with a sedated big cat and see me as an asshole, even though the real story was far from that. I’m doing the same with them too, right? Drawing quick inferences from a few pictures and words? I hate the system and I want to know more that 500 characters will give me. Also it’s weirding me out that I keep seeing people who work at the same company. It feels seedy and intrusive. Like I now know a side of them I wasn’t meant to. That’s a vulnerable position and I don’t feel right having that information.

But mostly I’m missing my arcade. That’s the worst betrayal of all.


Am I not the quintessential bumbling idiot?

I might be addicted to Bumble.

As I said yesterday, I’ve been listening to a lot of dating podcasts lately. To be more accurate, I’ve mainlined 30 odd episodes of Why Oh Why in the past four days. Also as I said yesterday, I have this sort of apathetic attitude to dating. It’d be nice, but I’m also not lacking in anything and can’t be bothered putting much effort in. Still, the more that Andrea Silenzi talks about her experiences with all these dating apps, the more curious I am about trying them. I’ve dabbled with Tinder once or twice. Never seriously. First time around I got stifled by the 500 character limit. The second time was while during my trip to Portland. I was trying to use it to make friends. Turns out that wasn’t what people on Tinder were looking for. As I said, I was never particularly serious about it. This time around using Bumble… I don’t think I am either.


I once again had trouble with the 500 character limit, but made do:

“First off, I’m poly/non-monog and patnered. I’m available, but if that’s a dealbreaker for you I’d feel awful wasting your time. If not…

Cool with No Chill.

 I love weird foods, new words and odd experiences.

TL;DR: I’m Abed Nadir and Chris Traeger’s miracle baby.

No hook-ups.”

I think that covers me fairly well. My age range is set from 28-38. I don’t expect a lot of bites, but that also doesn’t matter. I’m not most people’s flavour and I don’t have the time to be. It’s not the kind of thing I take personally.

As I’ve discovered previous times, there’s this weird de-humanising element to the whole proceedings. I’ll typically arrive on someone’s page and look up their bio. No bio, swipe left. Love to laugh? Swipe left. A lack of full sentences? Swipe left. Too many emojis my phone doesn’t have? Swipe left. The words “Partner in Crime”? Swipe left. Solely a pull quote from a song/movie? Swipe left. Then I’ll check out the rest of their bio. Boring or has trouble standing out? Swipe left. If it’s neat, I’ll scroll up and look at pictures. If I don’t find them attractive, I’ll swipe left (rude right? As if I’m such a catch. Still, Kon Mari would spend an eternity getting nowhere on Bumble). If I think they’re cute, like their bio and/or just think they have a cool job, I’ll swipe right. It sounds like I have a system, but then again, sometimes there’s something indefinable that prompts me to swipe right. A gal’s profession was “copywriter” and her bio merely said the world “Tolerable.” I don’t know why, but it seemed contextually witty to me.

It’s weird to me how quickly I’ve evolved filters to transform these women into points of data. If they correspond to the parameters, that’s a swipe right. Most of them are probably fine people. I’m sure those who I swipe left on won’t cry themselves to sleep over it. I’d have a hard time believing they’re not doing well on dating platforms. The format seems biased towards the exceptionally pretty and the exceptionally witty. People look two dimensional on paper and it’s tough seeing a fully formed human on the other end. Like every other time, I’ll probably swipe for a day or two, then get bored and go back to Magic Shandalar. Until then, I’ll be doing reps on my thumb.

Of course the garlic thing wasn’t a real and specific reason I dumped someone…

I’ve been listening to a lot more dating podcasts lately than the amount of dates I’ve been going on.

It wouldn’t be hard, I haven’t been on a date in many moons. Don’t get me wrong, I like dating. I think it’s super exciting getting to know someone, seeing sparks fly and being pulled into the intoxicating orbit of their fresh perspective. There’s an intense pull to wanting to show off your best side for a new person. It’s neat to discover a whole swath of experiences they bring to your life and it’s gratifying to share your own with them. There’s a thrill to meeting for the first time and engaging in your own little will they/won’t they kind of melodrama. If things do go well, there’s a certain electricity in having all of those ‘firsts’ one after another. Dating can be the best, bringing a host of promise into your life.

Dating can also be the worst, right? Let’s not collectively get caught up in the rush and forget how shitty dating sometimes is. You’re putting effort into communication, filtering and sifting in order to figure out if there’s a spark or not. Sometimes the other person is flighty and avoidant. Maybe there’s an ambiguity to the way you met and you’re Facebook friends. Then you’re trying to figure out if that person in their Facebook photos is a friend or partner. Or you finally get on a date and in the first five minutes an iceberg of a dealbreaker surfaces and you spend the rest of the date fruitlessly trying to steer clear of it. Or perhaps mid-date you start cross-referencing past partners/dates and become fully aware of your terrible dating patterns. Maybe you find someone who you could talk to for decades and they turn out to be a selfish, uncommunicative partner in the bedroom. Maybe it’s a potential partner who looks good on paper, but you soon discover that they’re actually an asshole. Or attractive people whose looks compensate for a personality deficiency. Or a lack of flirtatious chemistry. Or fundamental conflicts of values. Or they’re scared to try putting garlic in the homemade mac and cheese.

Like I said, dating can be the worst. I still love talking and thinking about it though. I’d probably like to start dating again at some point, but clearly not enough to actually pursue it.

I’m in a wonderful long term relationship. I have a loving, communicative, fun and compassionate girlfriend. We’re also polyamorous. Thing is, the main thing I’d want from another relationship was emotional intimacy and witty banter. Those are both things I can and do get from my friends. Sure, sex with someone else could be (and has been) enjoyable, but it’s really not much of a motivating factor for me. Hence the lack of incentive to put effort into dating.

Buuuuut, I can’t deny how much of a pull there is to that sense of being wanted and/or desired. The level of gratification when someone finds you compelling is undeniable. It’s a compliment right down to your core. It makes you feel so goddamn special and puts you on top of the world. Obviously I get that from my relationship, but at the same time it’s different. It’s something deeply known and appreciated, but it’s not the take-you-by-surprise fulfilment that makes your day. If I was to date again, that’s what I’d look forward to.

Until then, I guess I’ll just listen to dating podcasts.

Quite quote unquote, quid pro quo?

I’ve been humming and hawing (a word I’ve been using for years without knowing the true meaning. Apparently it’s to hesitate in speech) about what to write. No cohesive themes are popping into my head. I don’t have the darndest notion of where to start, but if I’ve learned anything from this project it’s that starting is the quickest route to getting somewhere.

Man, that sounded like I dropped some serious wisdom:

“Starting is the quickest route to getting somewhere” – Albert Einstein.

Maybe I’ve finally gained the ability to casually drop aphorisms on the fly. Wouldn’t that be a rad superpower. It sounds meek at first blush, but the more you think about it, you’d be able to give your opponents pause while you came in for the coup de grâce. They’d be standing there doing some serious hawing (’cause the only way to truly learn a word is to use it in a sentence, right?), and I’d take advantage of their flat footed predicament. An ability to drop truth bombs at will sounds like a great power with great responsibility.

I read an Onion article the other day “Man Forced To Reverse-Engineer Point In Midst Of Meandering, Absentminded Rant“. I was just happy they had the restraint not to print my real name. Perhaps it’s come from years of downing Harmontown episodes, but I totally do this. I’ll start at a certain point in a conversation with this unearned confidence that I’ll be able to spout something vaguely resembling sense. I’ll twist and contort, taking non-linear sidesteps while engineering a through-line that comes together at the end. It’s a high wire act. I’m well aware that most of the time it doesn’t work, but when I have a couple of drinks, any potential self-doubt is clipped in favour of blind faith. I’ll make it happen, even if I have to force it with clunky segues and tenuous narrative links.

I get away with it far more than I should. Maybe here in Canada it’s an offshoot of accent privilege. I’ve mentioned it a bunch of times before, but I feel like having a Kiwi accent affords me a great many privileges here in a foreign country. You know that socially observed phenomenon whereby attractive people go through life with strangers being nicer to them? 30 Rock did a great episode on it with John Hamm. Living in a foreign country, I feel like having an accent gives shades of the same. So perhaps people smudge over those times when my conversational crafting is bumbling at best. Possibly they’re not even understanding the words I’m saying, but get a kick out of my cadence. If neither of us notices and it gives me neat little advantages, I’m certainly not gonna complain.

I was saying to my girlfriend the other day that I’d love nothing more than to have a job where I could just be amicable and charming all the time. Spout total nonsense, but help facilitate others having a blast. I like making people happy as much as I enjoy being liked. Win/win all around. I was speaking to a French dude today who said when he was in Korea, he got invited on a popular KPOP panel show just because he was a) tall and b) spoke English. They were all oh, your English is so great as he spoke in his thick French accent. He told me he had zero qualms about monetising that shit, because it made others happy and he benefited from it. Is there some way I can do the same? Find a line of work where I can be me and that’ll be enough for others? Where my meandering absentminded rants are marketable? How do I even set out to find that?

Then again, as the great Albert Einstein once said: “Starting is the quickest route to getting somewhere.”

Wise words indeed.

If you’re not into it, “jog on” would be an altogether apt response

I went for a jog last night for the first time in ages. Things are warming up here in Toronto and it was a balmy -1°C. My nose didn’t run that much, my fingers barely froze and my joints were only mildly clunky. Inhaling oxygen wasn’t remotely like swallowing blades. I stretched out my decrepit limbs, tossed on the Black Panther soundtrack and set off down the road.

Listening to the soundtrack, I started thinking about music that’s been released so far this year. Black Panther ended up being so much more than a score to a film (especially since so many of its fantastic tracks didn’t even make it into the finished movie). Kendrick managed to weave together an assortment of songs that stood on their own, playing on larger ideas and concepts the film brought to life. Saying that it seems effortlessly engrossing probably betrays the amount of work put into the album, but it’s such an enjoyable listen.

I then thought about Janelle Monae’s song “Make Me Feel”, which might already be my favourite track of the year, regardless of what else is released. It’s simply incredible and, well, I have a lot of gushy and effusive thoughts. It’s so funky and sensual. It’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve been able to shamelessly listen to it on repeat. The production is tight, the influences are worn on its sleeve (or they will be if it gets a vinyl release) and the video is gorgeous.

As I jogged, I wondered if there was some way of preserving the resonance of these songs in some kind of time capsule. To take what I’d been enjoying and catalogue it for the sake of retrospection. Would they hit me the same way a year down the line? A few years down the line? I’ve always been a fan of putting together playlists, why not turn this into an excuse for one more? The idea came to me, why not make an annual playlist? I could pick my favourite song each month and add them to the stack as the year went on. February could obviously be “Make Me Feel”. January could be “All the Stars” from Black Panther (unfortunately the rest of the album was released in February. Otherwise my answer would clearly be “Redemption” by Zacari and Babes Wodumo). It seemed a low effort way to produce a punchy snapshot of an audible year. Perfect for the gym or more jogs. Best of all, it could jog my memory. Eh? EH?

Thinking of this made me realise how much more attention I used to pay to the music I consumed. I mean, for sure I still really get a kick out of finding a new release. When something grabs me I listen obsessively, as if to absorb it into my very being. And yet, I’ve lost the thirst for knowledge surrounding music. In most ways, this is great. I know a huge part of my desperate search to seek out what was new and fresh definitely had roots in an identity I was trying to cultivate. I desperately wanted to be cool and part of that for me was being on top of pop-cultural movers and shakers. At 31, my desire to discover new music is more pure. It’s a sincere wish to consume art that speaks to some part of me. Even if that’s just a track that makes me nod my head or move my hips.

This playlist concept is kind of exciting to me. It’d help me refresh myself on the cool releases throughout the year. Occasionally I’ll wholly forget large albums that dropped, but this will help me cement exactly what it was I loved about them in the first place. The more I talk about it, the more I’m convincing myself I need to get onto it right away. It’s only two songs so far, I can manage that, right?

Maybe if they believe in the heart of the cards, we’ll all be fine.

Magic the Gathering post. As always, if you’re not into that, come back tomorrow.

Every once in a while I’ll buy large piles of Magic cards from people. I used to use Trademe back in New Zealand. Half the fun was rifling through in search of hidden gems. It was great. Bunz Trading Zone in Toronto has opened up these avenues once more. Occasionally users will post collections for trade. Once I put my feelers out to see if someone had a specific card. It took all of five minutes to get a response. Within hours I was at his place, looking through his old cards and finding all kinds of gold. The other day a guy posted about a collection of 7000+ bulk commons/uncommons and tokens he was looking to clear off his floor. I got in quickly and offered him a couple of tallcans. He accepted and I picked them up. Nice dude. I went home and spent 4+ hours pulling out everything of value. The value well exceeded the $10 I spent on beer for the dude. There were so many handy staples I’d given up when I left New Zealand (and dropped a large box of commons/uncommons at my local game store for new players to pick over). I sorted it all into colours, leaving the rest of the sorting for another night.

Having taken everything worthwhile, I wondered what to do with the box. There were still thousands of cards that were surplus to my needs. I realised I could put it back on Bunz to blow the mind of a new player. There were tons of great resources in that big ol’ box. A friend of mine chimed in saying her kid loved the game. I said he was welcome to them and all was good. Then I realised I had an opportunity to do something nice. Her kid is six and frankly, the whole box would overwhelm him pretty easily. Not saying he’s dumb, just saying it’d be way too much for him to mentally absorb. He’s a kid, but the game is recommended for 13+. It’s pretty complicated for a six year old. I resolved to go through the leftovers and make some simple decks he could play with his friends. I’d try to balance them, showcase different playstyles and allow them to discover what exactly they enjoyed about the game. I tried doing clean, basic concepts. I thought about what sort of effects would be awe inspiring for kids. What sort of creatures would seem super cool? Stuff like dragons and angels, right? I also tried to put myself into the mind frame of a six year old to think of how I could encourage simple maths, but edge in with some ever more challenging gameplay too. I was also hamstrung on some numbers, which is why there are two and three ofs. The decks I put together were Red/Green Landfall, Black/White Tokens/Lifegain and Blue White Control/Prowess. Here they are.

Red/Green Landfall:

4x Scythe Leopard
3x Snapping Gnarlid
4x Makindi Sliderunner
4x Valakut Predator
3x Khenra Charioteer
2x Grove Rumbler
3x Territorial Baloth
1x Shockmaw Dragon

Noncreature Spells:
3x Prey Upon
2x Magmatic Chasm
4x Lightning Strike
3x Hunt the Weak

10x Forest
10x Mountain
4x Evolving Wilds

Great, right? The gameplan is simple: Play creatures, pump them with lands, use removal to clear blockers and/or trample over. Evolving Wilds could be a cool level up moment for the kid, realising that he could get a double landfall trigger. Plus there’s a sweet dragon to rain fire down on one toughness creatures. Awesome.

Black/White Tokens/Lifegain:

4x Typhoid Rats
4x Mardu Hordechief
3x Ampryn Tactician
1x Healer of the Pride
3x Kalastria Nightwatch

Noncreature Spells:
3x Bone Splinters
3x Moment of Triumph
4x Raise the Alarm
3x Moment of Craving
3x Painful Lesson
3x Recover
2x Campaign of Vengeance

10x Plains
10x Swamp
4x Scoured Barrens

Home run! Play lots of little critters, pump the team, gain life, removal spells. A nice well rounded deck that should be easy to play. I figured kids would get a kick out of taking down a huge hulking beast with some teensy rats. Plus new players always love lifegain. I was pretty stoked with this one.

Blue/White Control/Prowess:

4x Fan Bearer
4x Niblis of Dusk
3x Student of Ojutai
3x Ringwarden Owl
1x Serra Angel

Noncreature Spells:
4x Disperse
4x Turn to Frog
4x Accumulated Knowledge
4x Luminous Bonds
4x Cancel
1x Sleep

9x Plains
10x Islands
1x Azorious Chancery
4x Tranquil Cove

Tapping, countering, card draw, lifegain, turning stuff into frogs. I feel like this one is likely to be a hard sell (do new players enjoy control decks? I never did) but teaches valuable game skills. It’s probably the hardest one to play right, but maybe also the most powerful deck? Not sure.

So I put all these decks together and felt pretty chuffed with myself. I was excited to be able to teach this kid how to play and looking forward to him and his friends discovering the magic (pun kinda intended) of the game. Then I realised that all the decks were still way too complicated. How many concepts would I be introducing to them? Trample? Instants? Activated abilities? I should’ve started with vanilla creatures, possibly some flying and a couple of sorceries. I feel like this is gonna be way too much for a six year old. Am I underestimating a child’s resilience? I sure hope so. I put so much work into trying to balance them and now I’m worried it’ll all blow up in my face. I haven’t even taught someone to play for years. Aww geez. All I wanted to do was a nice thing for some kids. Will it all be wasted effort?

I sure hope not.

Identity politalks.

I use Facebook muchly. Every now and again I get involved in discussions, arguments, whatever you want to call them. One of my friends posted this article, which I thought was quite fair. One of her Facebook friends took issue with it and stated his position thusly:

“Nop. Fuck that. I knit, I sew, I do fabric work, and I can cook 33 dishes. But if someone calls me girly, I’ll knock their teeth out. I’m me – a man. Girly men are not men anymore. It’s simple as that.”

I thought this was a pretty narrow way of looking at things. A discussion thread developed where this guy raged about identity politics, individualism and such. I decided to chime in.

Also [Person’s Name], I can be snarky all day but I’m not sure it’d get us anywhere. Frankly, I’m not sure an actual conversation will get us anywhere because from your responses, it seems like you came here to be adversarial. Who knows? If that’s not the case, here, have an essay.

I don’t know if you read the article or not. In case you didn’t, the TL;DR is basically “it’s silly that we push people away from doing certain activities because of gender, when they could benefit from them.” It’s actively heading away from identity politics, which seems to be your Hulk-esque trigger. It’s also weird, because it sounded at the start like you were in agreement with this concept. Cooking and sewing are activities and it makes no sense for them to be gendered, right? We all got argumentative and stuff, but I think we were all on the same page here. I’m pretty sure [My friend’s name – Redacted] said as much (and better). Let me know if I’m wrong.

You seem to get really hung up on words while also being all “labels don’t matter”. You’re right. Labels don’t matter. By giving a shit about them (which you say you don’t, but then you’re also all “if someone calls me girly I’ll remove their teeth with my knuckles” or something. That seems like a pretty drastic response, but what do I know? I just like my teeth, is all), you’re the one giving them power. It’s entirely within you to remove yourself from this narrow view of what defines an individual. If someone calls you girly, does that really affect you? Doesn’t that seem more like their issue of suffering from such a myopic societal view? As you’ve said, people are all “cooking and sewing are girly” and you already know how silly this is. Why would you care if they’re wrong? Let them be wrong.

Also from what you’ve said there seems to be this super binary way of thinking to your worldview. I can see the flowchart in your brain when you say stuff like:

“I do not believe in identity politics. =>
To me, that is synonymous to mental illness. =>
And that is why labels are bad.”

There’s so much more nuance in society than that. I understand that stereotypes were created in order to make it easier and more efficient to process information, but it also means that you start judging people and situations without context and depth. Identity Politics => Mental Illness => Labels are bad?

Let’s talk for a second about Identity Politics.
Maybe some people take comfort in finding others who resonate with them. Community is a pretty strong beacon for a ton of people and it makes them feel connected. Is that wrong? Are people aberrant in seeking out comfort and connection? It doesn’t mean that by default they reject anyone who’s not connected with them, but it might mean that they’re able to share more of themselves with people who add value in their lives. I play Magic the Gathering. I tend to like to meet others who play. We can talk about our favourite decks, play games and stuff. I’ve met tons of cool folks playing. Some people might call me a Magic player because I play. Sure, I’m a magic player. It’s not the entirety of my existence. I also love stand up comedy and occasionally engage in bloated and protracted dialogues with people on Facebook. Someone calling me a Magic Player or Nerd or Geek or whatever doesn’t get rid of that nuance in my life. They can call me whatever they want, but I’m still the myriad of things that make me Me. So I figure there’s no sweat in other people’s labels, right?

Other people may congregate for religious stuff. I’m not a religious person, but them enjoying that in their lives doesn’t preclude me from enjoying my life for not being into religion, right? If something’s not for me, that doesn’t automatically make it wrong.

For some people, they may group for things that unite them like gender or sexual identity. Maybe they’ve been judged or persecuted throughout their lives because of who they’re in love with, or that the way society makes them feel about themselves makes them uncomfortable. That sounds pretty shitty to me, I don’t know how you feel about that. I can also imagine that when you come together with a ton of people who have similar experiences to you, certain viewpoints get reiterated and amplified. The world looks a particular way because of how people talk about it. We tend to absorb aspects of the personalities of people we spend time with, because we often admire them and want to be more like them. Within a lot of communities, I’m sure this happens. I’m sure it leads to people outside of the group hearing a homogeneous voice from a mass of people, when in fact it’s tons of people saying lots of things, but the more commonly said things are more audible, because they’re more often said. Then we hear those amplified things and think “they’re all so narrow minded”. We judge them. Probably unfairly.

Maybe identity politics don’t matter to you, but is it possible for you to understand that for some people they matter a great deal? That they might be lonely without them? That even if they sometimes lead to homogeneous thought, it makes an otherwise challenging life easier and more engaging for those people?

Also I don’t know if indirectly you were casting negativity on people with mental illness. If so, that’s shitty. Straight up. If that’s the case, that’s a whole different discussion and one that should be had.

I have a tendency to be super condescending on Facebook and I’ve really tried not to be here. Mostly. If you actually want to have a conversation about this stuff (rather than me posting an essay) with back and forth in a non-judgemental manner, feel free to send me a message request and we can do that. This whole thing doesn’t have to be yet more emotional labour for [My friend’s name – Redacted].

If not, and this is just destined to be a polarising Facebook argument, please at least come back and qualify your system for deciding that you know exactly 33 dishes, because trying to figure out the specifics is doing my head in.