Stretched too thin. Crispin Glover thin even.

Do you ever have those days that seem to be linked by nothing more than a chain of caffeine? You have one late night and very little sleep, so you compensate with a cup of coffee. Then you start to fizzle out by early afternoon, so you have another. It doesn’t kick in fast enough, so you grab a small spoon of nutella and dunk it in instant coffee. That works, a short and sweet burst that leaves you ‘twired’. Eyes splayed open in true A Clockwork Orange form. So that late caffeine plus a little alcohol means you have trouble sleeping, then wake up early the next day. Lather, rinse, repeat, except throw an earlier morning into the mix. Sprinkle in a day of work and an evening Red Bull to keep you sustained for a night of booze and clubby dancing, then serve it up with another crappy sleep and a day of Pride Parade perusing out in the relentless sun. Maybe present it with a side of emails from the now ex-girlfriend (oh yeah, forgot to tell you that happened. It’s fine, for the best, etc) telling me what an idiot I am (to be honest, she’s probably right) to accentuate the flavours. The pièce de résistance is that I’m now so over-tired I couldn’t sleep if I wanted to. Have I sufficiently burned this candle at both ends yet? Or has the wick burned away completely, leaving me a melted pile of wax?

One thing’s for certain, I should probably stay away from caffeine for the foreseeable future. It’s not agreeing with my tenacious hold on sanity. It might have helped me bust out that concert review (lookie, I’ve got my own “author” page now), but at what cost? The alcohol isn’t helping matters either. I don’t think it’s a matter of drinking too much, but when it’s coupled with my fraying mental state it really doesn’t do me any favours. I’m seeing talk over The Facebooks from friends back home about their Dry July challenges. A month without alcohol is a great thing to aim for. Regular readers will know of my love for monthly challenges. I’ve done 6 months without alcohol before, I spent a long time not drinking once I arrived in an effort to afford rent. A few months ago I did the month sans coffee or liquor. With the exception of Canada Day (because it’s gonna be my first ever chance to celebrate it) I think I’m gonna do a Dry July style detox of my own. I hurt my knee a while back and it’s stifled attempts to really get back into shape. It’s starting to come right, so I want to use the benefit of healthy living to really dig in my heels and push through the month.

Food is an enormous part of it. Between the Abbey’s Kitchen writing, the lackadaisical standards you impose when you’re in a relationship and my sedentarily (I don’t think that’s a real word) inflicted emotional eating (feelings taste so good!), I’ve been way too lax on myself. It’s summer, I want to sweat it off and bring myself to a place of comfort. Funnily enough I actually hit my nebulous goal weight, but I’m chalking that down to muscle loss rather than conscious conditioning. I went food shopping (vegetables anyway) for the first time since January when I started at Real Food for Real Kids. Fresh kale, broccoli, carrots and bananas (technically berries, not veges) are stocked in my fridge ready for a month of restraint.

The last thing is more of a personal challenge. I’ll try not to be explicit, but since I’ve been single I haven’t really left the sex behind. No bedmates, but when has that ever stopped a guy from treating themselves? I don’t have any issue with the act, I think it’s something more people should do more often. The thing is, indulging in that carry on too much really dulls the experience and hinders the compulsion to share oneself with others. One month without? I hope I don’t start just humping my own leg.

July 2nd to August 1st isn’t that long. A month without excessive self-indulgence seems like a great little test. No coffee, no alcohol and no Shake Weight-ing? It seems plausible, but it’s also an idea born of extreme exhaustion. Right now I’m sure even infomercials would seem plausible to me. I have found it hard to reach high spaces at times. What could go wrong?

A Hospice-poor effort? Or is it a case of Familiar-ity breeds contempt?

It’s a pity my first review was for a band I really like. Not having adapted to the style, it came off as rigid and dispassionate. Still, the only way now is up. Or something.

The Antlers‘ 2009 album Hospice hit the critical music scene with the force of a meteor. With lead singer Peter Silberman weaving a tale of heartbreak, loss and acceptance metaphorically through the eyes of a hospice worker and a terminally ill child, its keen emotional resonance left a crater that critics and fans alike were quick to heap with praise.

Like any group worth its salt, they’ve grown with subsequent releases to explore different musical textures and terrain. Each album marking a departure from comfortable ground, evolving towards new frontiers of self-expression. From the emotionally destructive stirrings of Hospice to the balanced calm of Familiars, we see a band that’s become comfortable with the outwards spiral of their progression. The stylistic growth evokes equal parts wisdom and maturity, having aged into a divergent mood from their earlier offerings.

With the new album Familiars having been released fewer than two weeks ago, the performance at the Mod Club challenged fans whose obvious attachment to the earlier material was undeniable. Overwhelming waves of affection radiated towards the stage, with polite hecklers unable to offer anything beyond declarations of love. The band, famed for their portrayal of introspection, found themselves incapable of reciprocating with more than light banter. A few mumbled thanks and brief introductions left little warmth in words, choosing instead to express themselves musically.

The audience responded appreciatively to new, relatively unknown songs such as opener Palace, with its twinkling dreamlike melody. Silberman’s lighter-than-air voice floated in gossamer weaves, with a performance eschewing heavy distortion for a more ethereal dream-pop feel. Doppelgänger loomed, slick and seductive with smoky red lighting and meandering jazz trumpet. Receptive as the crowd was, it was clear that expectations of hearing a set of familiar anthems were dampened.

Possessing as intimate a back catalogue as possible, it’s hard not to hold a connection to beloved tracks. Witnessing the progression in a live environment then, with a flow that interweaved fresh material with cherished vintages, was akin to being viscerally pulled back and forth through the memories of an all-consuming relationship.

Parade, a sleepy, easy love letter to finding peace in relief stood in stark contrast to Sylvia’s passionate fear of losing one you love to an inability to connect. This connection was evident in the crowd’s palpable joy at Sylvia’s opening beat, akin to tribal percussion. Thrumming synths rose and fell, the atmosphere an affectionate relapse into the opening excitement of a new romance.

Director wafted through the room like an intimate embrace with warm, lush arrangements then pulsed with the intensity of a deep, abiding longing. Hospice closer Epilogue shimmered like the innocent chimes of a baby mobile before giving way to fierce enveloping power chords.

By the time the opening chords of Putting the Dog to Sleep tiptoed in, the crowd was emotionally raw. The soulful Hammond organ and wavering vocals rang of sincerity before surging to a crescendo alongside fuzzy synths and tenacious beats, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Trumpets rose to the fore, sounding the last call and ushering in a state of awe.

For a band whose songs take as much as they give, the performance left the crowd humming. Excited titters filled the room as the line for the merch table swelled. If this was the response from fresh, untested material, one can only imagine the impact it’ll have once refined.

You mean I can’t pluck something well formed and measured out of my arse? I guess we know what the alternative is.

I don’t really know how to feel right now. A certain numbness has set in. It’s like Neutral Milk Hotel all over again. A few years ago I settled on a trifecta of bands to see at any cost. Between Radiohead, Grizzly Bear and The Antlers, I didn’t expect to finish quite in that order. I certainly don’t know what I expected from the performance and I’m still having trouble processing it. When you’re driven by such a strong compulsion, when there’s such emotional presence behind it, how are you meant to feel when you’ve gotten everything you asked for? Hospice‘s emotional resonance with me is well documented. Since that album was released I’ve been a slavish fan of the band. Like any group worth its salt should, they’ve grown with subsequent releases to explore different musical textures and terrain. Each one a departure and evolution of sorts. From the emotionally destructive stirrings of Hospice to the balanced calm of Familiars, we see a band who’s become comfortable with the outwards spiral of their progression. The stylistic growth evokes equal parts wisdom and maturity, having aged into a divergent mood from their earlier offerings.

Possessing as intimate a back catalogue as is possible, it’s hard not to hold personal attachment to the material. Witnessing the progression in a live environment then, with a flow that interweaves fresh material with beloved vintages, is akin to being viscerally pulled back and forth through the years of an all-consuming relationship. Parade, a sleepy, easy love letter to finding peace in relief stands in stark contrast to Sylvia‘s passionate fear of losing one you love to an inability to connect.

Wow, it’s hard to write a review at length in a 30 minute stream of consciousness fashion. When you’ve actually gotta consider sentence structure, themes and coherent ideas, that requires a bit more patience. I think I need to attack this after a good rest. I’m reviewing the gig for a certain site and I’ll post the finished version after I’ve knocked it out tomorrow. The end thing will probably be quite different to what sits here so far.

Of course in most of those timelines this writing project never happened.

If there’s one thing I love it’s the concept of alternate timelines. That’s not entirely correct though, because there’s more than one thing that I love and if I had to love something above all else, it probably wouldn’t be alternate timelines. Can I recant that first sentence? I stand by the enthusiasm I hold for alternate timelines, but not the extent to which the opening statement implied. It’s one of the reasons (coupled with almost every other aspect of it, to be honest) that Remedial Chaos Theory is one of my favourite Community episodes. It’s the reason why The Butterfly Effect was an enjoyable flick to watch rather than the conceited Ashton Kutcher vehicle I expected it to be. Maybe it’s just the potential for change, growth or fixing one’s mistakes that pulls me towards the concept. I don’t feel like I’ve made many excessive missteps, considering the wonder that’s grown out of many that could have potentially be seen as such. I moved away from my beloved radio career essentially because of a girl. It was a decision I still question, given my current wayward wanderings. Conversely I financially moved up in the world, became happy again and learned what it was to feel real emotional love for a time. I don’t know that, given the chance, I would trade those memories for the career bump.

Work is an interesting subject to filter through that of alternate timelines. At different points in my life I’d considered a variety of careers. As a child I wanted to be a transformer or dinosaur, neither of which has currently panned out. C’mon science, you’ll find a way, eh? A few years later I decided that, seeing as I shared a birthday with Jim Carrey (my favourite actor at the time), it was my destiny to become a great actor. It informed my ridiculous signature (equally inspired by Scorpion from Mortal Kombat (1994 was a hell of a year)). It drove me to follow drama for most of my schooling life. Somewhere along the way I knew that either I didn’t have what it took to truly engage an audience as an actor, or I wasn’t willing to put in the effort to do it (and let’s be honest, there were exceedingly more talented people in my own class). I loved acting, really put my heart into it, but saw it as more of a hobby than a profession. If I’d really followed that passion I wonder where I’d be now. So many dreamers spend their lives chasing that fantasy. Some don’t cash into it until years later. Others may have a hit early on and lose their youth attempting to recapture what they’ve lost. Where would I be now if I’d stayed with it? Lying in a gutter somewhere? Or a proud member of an international football (soccer) team?

I’d always loved monologues within acting (if you adore the sound of your own voice…) and along the way this, coupled with my obsession with anime, led me to want a career in voice acting. Very short-lived, but it drew me towards the first thing I could classify as a career: radio. I wanted to be on it. If enough people tell you that you’ve got a voice for radio you start to believe them. Once again I became aware of my own limitations in regards to the many others in my class who simply outclassed me on-air. I didn’t quite have the spontaneity required. I think I’ve grown more into the habit as time has passed, but at the time it wasn’t really a possibility. I ditched that idea and headed behind the scenes to find somewhere to excel. I fluked my way into commercial production, something that called on creativity, technical know-how and Germanic Efficiency. As indicated above, I side-stepped this career. Who knows if it’ll come back for me in years to come?

Over time different notions called to me. A teacher, funeral director or political speech writer. Advertising creative, station program director, chip packet joke writer. As I write these words it strikes me that all of these alternate timeline fantasies don’t need to be either fantasies or alternate timelines. Any number of them are still achievable in my current through line of action (have I really given up on the acting thing yet?), they’d just require a little bit of push. I’m at a crux whereby I can choose my outlook of the next few years. Life is ours to live, right? Why should any of these things remain in the realm of possibility without being afforded their chance to breathe? Looking at how things have turned out so far, the only things holding me back are effort and dedication. Is this the timeline where I possess those things?

Or He could just stamp my pass and let me through. I’d hope God was less of an officious prick than that.

Inspired by the exceptional relationship driven episode of You Made it Weird, featuring The Nerdist‘s Matt Mira, I started thinking about the following scenario: If you arrived at heaven’s pearly gates and were given the option to ask questions on whatever you could from your life, what would you ask for?

It’s an intriguing prospect, but also one that lends itself to navel gazing and what ifs. Given the narcissist that I am, how could I refuse such an enticing prospect? I mean, the whole Jewish Atheist (apparently A Thing, so sayeth wikipedia) kick would probably prematurely boot me out of that cloudy paradise. Let’s just pretend regardless. Things I would be interested in discovering include…

  • How much cheese have I consumed in my life?
  • How many hours have I spent playing all Pokémon games combined?
  • What song have I heard the most?
  • What movie have I seen the most?
  • Is there anything I was best in the world at without knowing?
  • What is the most dangerous wild animal I would’ve been able to defeat armed with a melee weapon?
  • How many times have I smiled? Frowned? Cried? Pooped?
  • What word have I said most? Written most?
  • How many tooth brushes have I owned?
  • How many pairs of shoes have I worn out?
  • How many T-Shirts have I ever worn?
  • How many bugs did I unintentionally swallow in my life?
  • Did I ever indirectly kill someone?
  • Did I ever indirectly save someone’s life?
  • Was there a band I would have loved beyond all others had I heard it?
  • What was my highest number of skips from a stone on the water?
  • Did I ever leave a situation at the perfect time?
  • What was the worst time I ever entered a situation?
  • Who did I hurt the most?
  • What was the happiest I made someone?
  • Who was my most compatible romantic match on earth?
  • How many girls actually liked me?
  • Did I realise it?
  • Has anyone ever masturbated thinking of me?
  • Did I ever see anyone I knew in a porn without realising?
  • Did I ever “miss my shot” at large scale success? If so, what was it?
  • What was the largest amount of food I ever ate?
  • Largest poo I ever laid?
  • Who was faking?
  • Who wasn’t?
  • Did I ever meet someone hugely famous without realising it?
  • Were my friends proud to know me?
  • Which book would have changed my entire outlook, had I read it?
  • Is there such a thing as a nice way to break up with someone?
  • When I said those words, was I really in love?
  • How do you even define something like that?
  • Was there a “one that got away”?
  • When should I have waited?
  • How many entire chickens have passed through my digestive system? Cows? Carrots?
  • Was Dan Harmon really the right role model?
  • What was my primary flaw?
  • What kind of legacy did I leave?

It really is the most self-serving line of questioning. Where does this kind of thing grow from? I think in me at least there’s a strong desire to be seen as special somehow. I’ve grown up on a diet of stories that involve ordinary people rising against adversity to accomplish extraordinary things. Deep down I know I’ve always wanted something following that mythology. To rise from mediocrity and prove my worth beyond being just another statistic, another minute pixel in the vast screen of the world. At some point my parents must’ve told me I was special and I clung to that, hoping for it to be true. Life has a habit of beating that idealism out of you. At some point hope falls at the feet of failure and creeping resignation takes root. That’s something we let happen though, surely? Is it a delusion to stem the flow of despair and oppose defeat? To defy the signs that you see before you and continue to climb, as if those handholds refusing to find purchase will suddenly find stability? If it is, maybe I’m deluded. Maybe I’m a fool. Maybe I need to keep reaching up higher, because I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find myself drowning in a sea of regrets. Maybe I need to push myself beyond my comfort levels, because the alternative is to end up disappointed by my lack of success. What’s the point in reaching the end while holding misgivings? My passion is out there waiting to be found, why am I wasting time wondering what I’ve missed out on when I could be out there finding it?

Work hard, play hard, live hard, die hard. At some point you might want to get treatment for priapism.

Well it looks like everything’s winding down for the summer. I’ve got one more shift feeding hot lunches to kids in schools, then that closes shop for several months. That’s a pity, it’s an easy, enjoyable job (the thought of which just reminded me to spend 10 minutes sending my invoice for this month’s work) that does wonders for my freezer. Seriously, the thing’s stocked with all kinds of meals to last me the summer (through some vain hope). I’ve got seafood chowder, chicken drumsticks, jerk chicken, Madagascar chicken, chicken fricassee, shredded chicken, beef chilli, vege chilli, bean chilli, mashed watermelon and probably a large lump of quinoa all waiting for my hunger. If I go back to buying large stacks of raw veges to steam, I should be able to stick it out without breaking the bank. Between that and the Abbey’s Kitchen thing, who knows? My supplies might even last into fall for the resumption of the program. Just how frugal am I? That remains to be seen.

Gymnastics is wrapping up for the session. Given that they run reduced classes in the summer (and that I’m shifting into summer camps. Why wouldn’t I pick up drastically increased hours?), there are a number of kids that, if I find work before fall (ever the hope), I’ll never see again. For a few of them, this does kind of bum me out. I haven’t always been the most child-centric chap, but it’s nigh impossible to spend so much time around developing personalities and not get a little bit attached. I’ll still have my Saturday kids, but the Tuesday and Thursday dudes and dudettes will be off playing softball, tennis or swimming laps. They’ll be skate boarding or roller blading, anything that keeps them out of a clammy indoor environment. The best ones will probably just stay inside playing video games, but I’m sure that’s a matter of preference on my behalf. It’ll only embolden them to remind me every week of how much I sound like stampylongnose (I don’t, but 7 year old Canadian kids can barely be expected to tell the difference between a New Zealand and British accent). So I’ll lose them all.

What I’ll gain is a large number of random children who’re really just there to have fun. We’ll do a little bit of gymnastic skill work, but most of the day will be taken up with games, arts and crafts, going on trips to the local swimming pool, supervising lunches and watching animated movies. On good days it barely feels like work. With difficult children it entirely feels like Hell. 3 days a week? I’m sure I’ve had worse jobs. I’m probably applying for some right now. Why is that? Money, why else?

Back home I never would’ve considered opting for a $24,000 salary. Right now I know the money would be better than what I’m bringing in (ain’t that frightening?). The consistent hours would at least keep my circadian rhythms ticking over and a regular pay check would mean I could start getting my life into some semblance of order. The work would be fairly humdrum admin for a bunch of porn sites, which I have no moral quandary over. They mention growth potential, whether this is financial or may perhaps teach me valuable skills to take somewhere else could influence whether or not I apply. How little do I value my skills and experience against my desire for structure? I’m about 15 days away from having been in Canada for a year. Am I nearing the point where I take anything that comes my way just to try and build up local experience in a variety of fields? Given the truly random nature of what I’ve been up to so far, I have no idea what’s gonna come my way. I’m getting more writing opportunities (nothing financial yet, but experience is worth something), could that be something I follow? Would a low paying office job require little enough commitment that I could take care of the writing during the evenings? If I just cram things wherever they’ll fit, will I start to feel fulfilled?

Did I say things are winding down for the summer? Maybe they’re just heating up.

Congenital greetings! Sounds like some perverted holiday salutation.

Pretty sure that there are zero pictures of my dick on the internet. I consider that an achievement of sorts. I mean, if I’d sought to put some out there and there were none, that would be naught to take solace in. If I’d tried to upload them to imgur or post them on 4chan yet yielded no dick pics on the web, I think I’d be losing then. No snapchatted prick photos or rick-roll Youtube cock shots. Nothing. I think my nipple might appear once or twice on Facebook, but that’s about as scandalous as it gets (apart from talking about your masturbatory habits on your own blog? -Ed). What am I, some kind of phallustine?

Please don’t confuse this for either braggadocio or anything puritanical. I have no issue with the concept of people putting themselves out there. By “themselves” I obviously mean their baby building bits. I’ve got friends who’ve done porn and there’s no moral judgement coming from me. If you know what you’re getting into and want to proceed, knock yourself out. If you and your audience are both consenting, then what wrong is being perpetrated? I don’t consider it a matter of dignity that my shaft has stayed well away from photographic lenses. It’s a preference, nothing more or less.

The thing is, I was thinking today about how as soon as a new technology emerges (after military applications have taken their pound of flesh) people use it to plaster their peen onscreen somehow. Snapchat is a highly functional piece of. Nah, I can’t even finish that sentence. I don’t think anyone but the app’s accountant thinks it’s important software.  Still, no sooner had it hit the Google Play store than people were transmitting their bits to others. Chatroulette/Omeagle were known for the same reasons. Does anyone even use them for the intended purpose? Who am I to say that genital sharing wasn’t the intended purpose? If it was then I’ve definitely missed the boat on all of them. Don’t even own a webcam, so that rules out any penile posing.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’ve never done it and I don’t get the point. I don’t know what you gain from the exchange when it comes to internet exhibitionism. You show your dick, the gal balks and quits the chat. Is there more to it than that? What happens when they do quit? Do you just soldier on and save your salami for the next comely lass to come across you cumming across her? Is sexposing (have I ever sounded more like Cosmo?) yourself an endless quest to find a doe eyed dear who finds your dear dick endearing? Suddenly I’ve become overwhelmed by my strong underdog complex and I’m almost on their side. Talking about turning on a dime. I mean, fuck the non-consensual elements, that’s the mortar of a shit brickhouse. That endless dedication to the cause, however? That grit in the face of adversity? I kind of admire that.

I mean, what’s under-riding your over exposure? Surely it’s that utterly human need to be desired. We all want others to see something in us that they admire, if not want. Everyone wants to be the star of their adventure and receive their token adoration. These dudes, while fundamentally embarking on shitty behaviour by putting their needs before their consideration for others, must exhibit a certain amount of loneliness. Has someone way down the line left them with lingering seeds of self-doubt? Is it a problem that one random female with a coy grin could fix? Has past heartbreak left them with a compulsion to discover someone out there who can appreciate their existence (and by existence, I’m once again talking about their dick)? Or is it a confused and horny teenage boy trying to thrust himself into a world he has yet to understand? Is it an older guy who just wants to relive the rush of his more adventurous youth (or compensate for his lack thereof)? As long as she’s ok with it (always consent, guys. Always), what’s the harm?

Maybe I’m filling these guys too full with the milk o’ human kindness (which they’re looking to pump into some unsuspecting sista). I’ve had some thoughts that are pure conjecture, so take this next bit with a grain or two of salt. I’m sure the majority of indiscretions stem from deviant desires to despoil innocence. There’s an undeniable element of the male psyche that just wants to tear apart something because it’s nice, gentle, beautiful. Please don’t equate this to a “men are all monsters” thing, but I think on some level there’s a a truth to it. Whether a man admits it or not, I feel like there’s a primal urge (that most of us would very rarely if never act on) that’s hidden deeper in some than others. A drive that likely arises from feelings of guilt or disgust at our own baser needs. What do men do when it comes to sex? We get horny then fertilise others. It takes two to make a thing go right and I’m not denigrating men’s role in crafting a tiny human, but our biological imperative is to disseminate ourselves rather than focus on a more nurturing directive.

Is there a notion of jealousy at women’s ability to produce offspring and bring life into the world? The Madonna/Whore dichotomy couldn’t have become pervasive if not for a nascent element of something that’s not kosher. Do we resent the fairer sex for the purity we associate with childbirth? Is there something insidious driving this insatiable need to prove that women can be gross and sexual too? Are we merely trying to bring them down to our level? To point a metaphorical finger and say “oh yeah, well she wanted it too, she’s not so pure after all.” Are we trying to apportion the blame for our own self-hatred? As if trying to explain to the virtuous image we hold of our own mothers that we’re not monsters, we’re still worthy of love because we weren’t solely to blame? Could that somehow cause these dudes to centre the camera on their crotch and stroke away?

*Shrug* Maybe they just really love their penis and want to share it with someone else. Random act of cockness?