Is there anything mo 90s than Space Jam Pogs?

I had Pogs as a kid, but I didn’t really know why. I think I primarily just wanted to order from Consumers Distributing. I may have been living halfway across the world, but how would a spread like this ever not be enticing? There was some kind of cheap multi pack of pogs complete with a slammer, special mat and some shiny ones.

I may have had Pogs, but I’m not gonna say that I got Pogs. Understood the ethos, anyway. Pogs didn’t make a dent in New Zealand. Ostensibly they had something to do with milk bottle tops? I had my set of ten, but nobody to battle with. I think I tried to figure out how to play solitaire. So mostly, they sat there, destiny unfulfilled. I probably threw them out, eventually. It’s weird, but even at the age of eight, I saw them as a thinly veiled marketing tool. This is saying something, I wasn’t a savvy kid. If it weren’t for my more pragmatic parents I probably would’ve been shaped into the perfect little consumer. I’d read Toyworld brochures for fun. I knew what I was getting into, but I jumped in with both feet anyway, because I wanted to know what it felt like to get a package in the mail. Shit, imagine if we’d had Amazon at that age. I would’ve never left the house.

I remember so badly wanting to get mail. My parents would get letters constantly while I stared with wide-eyed envy. “They’re all bills.” They’d say. “Trust me, when you’re my age you’re not gonna want this mail.” I didn’t care, in a way I think I just wanted to be surprised. When I mentioned how badly I wanted to get letters (it happened in movies and cartoons all the time), my mum turned it back on me. “You want to get letters, but how often do you send anyone letters?” I shook my head “no, I don’t want to send letters. I want to get them.” With the patience of an adult, she explained “but if you never send anyone letters, why would they send them back to you? If you send one of your friends a letter with a question, maybe they’ll send you a response.”

It was a light bulb moment. My bulb switched on. Dimly.

A friend was having a birthday and I saw my chance. I got a birthday card and wrote the following message:

Dear ______

Happy Birthday!

Is today Thursday?

Love Leon

Keep in mind these were pre-internet times, otherwise I’d obviously check out isitthursday.org. I gave him the card. He responded “no, today is Saturday.” I had my answer, but I was in no way satisfied. It wasn’t about the question. Over time, I’d get letters here and there. Our former Japanese au pair girls were lovely and sent the most beautiful letters. Invariably they were on cutesy cartoon themed stationary (Disney was a hot favourite), written with delicate penmanship. They became cherished possessions, tucked away in a special drawer for nice things I liked looking at (as well as many Christmas cards I never looked at again. I didn’t think I was allowed to throw away anything that had intended sentimental value. Once I learned that wasn’t true, I threw out almost everything of intended sentimental value).

I haven’t yet reached the age Mum was when she told me that bills sucked, but I’m old enough to have caught her drift. It’s rare to get anything great in the mail these days (whether E or IRL). A couple of times a year I’ll get a tax return slip that puts a smile on my face (last time I got a whole nine dollars!).

If only Consumers Distributing still existed.

You win some, you Cthulhu’s some.

I’m excited. Today we’re playing Arkham Horror for likely my first time in three years. It’s a tremendously complicated and difficult Lovecraftian board game with a strong overarching narrative. You play a group of investigators in 1920s Massachusetts looking into strange happenings around town. A disconnected bunch, there’s a drifter, scientist, professor, nun and all kinds of characters who’ve experienced the supernatural. This was a pre-Ghostbusters era, obviously, but this motley crew have tasked themselves with exploring otherworldly locations to prevent the rise of the horrifying Ancient Ones from destroying our world. It’s atmospheric and at times staggeringly oppressive, but with the odds stacked against you there’s no choice but to fight back against the rising tide of evil.

There was a period of about two years where I’d play multiple times per week most weeks. I loved this game to bits. My friends and I composed rigorous strategies to attain victory. We’d seek to understand the game better on a macro level, breaking down what really made it tick, working out lines of play and crunching statistics. One of my friends started putting together an excel spreadsheet tracking our win/loss percentage, whether we won by closing gates or defeating the Ancient One and which investigators we used. We’d add expansion packs one by one, which would drastically change how it played. To say that we were obsessive would be both fair and accurate. It was intoxicating to dive head first into something new with a core group, developing our own lingo and shortcuts. In jokes too, of course. I’ve got rosy memories of those late nights and I want to recapture that feeling.

When I got to Toronto, one of the first things I did was seek out an Arkham playgroup. In fact, at a concert on my second night in the city I met a guy who played. Serendipity on my side. A bunch of us would visit his friend who had stacks of board games and have these great days spent playing through them. We’d throw on atmospheric music and have a blast. Then Fantasy Flight games’ updated Eldritch Horror came out and we dove in, exploring all the nuances and updated mechanics. Being new to the city, it was a damn swell time. Sadly the main guy who owned all the games moved away to Vancouver and it kind of fell apart. Before he left, however, he sold me his base copy of Arkham Horror for dirt cheap so I could keep up with this game I loved so much.

After buying it, I haven’t played it once.

Today though, today I get to crack it open and relive those past experiences with a fresh perspective. Back to the mean streets of 20s Massachusettes. Sifting through the stacks at Miskatonic University, searching for treasure at the Curiositie Shoppe, canvassing for allies at Ma’s Boarding House. Or frankly, just trying to avoid getting devoured by The Hound of Tindalos. With so many ways to die or be driven insane, what’re the odds of survival without at least one major psychosis?

Where’s that damned excel spreadsheet when I need it?

If you took him to jail, would you be committing Scumocide?

When did you last walk into a room pulled straight from your heartfelt dreams and wishes? When were you last face to face with a tangible manifestation of hope? How did your mind react, knowing that the architects of your imagination had erected their monument within your arm’s reach?

Were you also at Tilt last night?

As a kid I adored arcade machines, or “Spacies” as we called them (the moniker derived from Space Invaders, of course). They’d sit in the entrance of takeaway shops or movie theatre lobbies. My parents would rarely give me money to play, so often I watched or pretended to play. On the odd occasions (a friend’s birthday or something) that I actually got to play, I lost my mind. Fighting games such as Street Fighter 2, King of the Monsters or Mortal Kombat 3, side scrollers like Captain Commando or puzzle games in the vein of Snow Bros or Bubble Bobble. I guess I wrote about it a bunch here.

I walked into the doors at Tilt, paid my $5 and had free rein on a collection of 40 or so machines, all set to free play. The aforementioned Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat 3, Captain Commando and Bubble Bobble all made an appearance. Live DJs played a cavalcade of cheesy 80s hits (including a chiptune cover of Haddaway’s “What is Love?”) and the bar was stocked with great beer. I couldn’t imagine anywhere I would’ve rather been.

Playing arcade games with an adult perspective is interesting. With their revenue stream dependent on players pumping in quarter after quarter, you can see how they’ve specifically engineered the games to feed the addiction. Captain Commando and other similar games featured unique and powerful character moves that would do area-of-effect damage at the cost of HP. Health items were few and far between, meaning that the more you used these moves, the more likely you’d have to keep paying the toll to stay in the game. NBA Jam was fucking great. A four player machine. In the years since childhood I’d forgotten that players had to pay per quarter (time period, not currency), with the winning team getting the next quarter free. For that genre of plane games like Raiden, so many bullets were flying through the air that it was nigh impossible to survive without repeated cash infusions. They knew what they were doing.

On free play however, none of that mattered. A friend and I fulfilled a childhood dream and clocked Captain Commando. I finally got to use Mack the Knife (instead of my older brother repeatedly hogging him), the purple alien mummy with twin blades. I’d like to believe that even as a child I would’ve cringed at least a little to learn that the final boss’ name was Scumocide. Let’s be real though, I sincerely thought Street Sharks were jawsome. I was no critic.

I also didn’t realise how physically demanding it was to toggle and mash repeatedly. Some of those beat ’em ups were a one way trip down a long carpal tunnel. If I needed yet another sign that my body is succumbing to the ravages of time, my mangled hands tell the truth.

OH WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE.

You know something? I used that middle urinal and I felt like a god.

At improv yesterday we were learning about status and our teacher told us something interesting. She said that status is a choice. It’s not something that can be taken from us, it can only be volunteered. She said to imagine status as some kind of liquid within us. We wake up each day with it filled to the brim. Countless interactions throughout the day allow us to tip out or refill that status, depending on our response. When our status is lowered, that’s a choice we’ve made. It went deeper, but let’s keep things pretty simple.

Status exists on two poles; high and low. Those poles each have tiers to them. The highest is happiness, then anger and lastly sadness. Status is also largely a concept that we buy into societally. We’ve decided that attributes such as wealth, power and attractiveness dictate our status. We see those who possess these traits as opinion leaders or somehow more capable than those without. It sucks, but when you think of high status, what image comes to your mind? Is it a tall white dude wearing a nice blue suit getting into his Mercedes? Society is all kinds of biased. It’s sexist, racist, ableist and, well, facist too. It’s systematically drilled into us a certain image of status and over time we’ve chosen to accept that.

I started to think about the way I roam the world and how I exchange status. A lot of the time in public, I aim to be as considerate as possible. This can involve stepping out of the way on the footpath, standing on public transport, making myself as small as I can to let people through. I’m not a tiny person or physically unimposing, but I’m aware of how I could be perceived as thus. I’m conscious that as a dude, I tread upon a mountain of privilege every day and I intentionally try not to take it for granted. I know that if I didn’t go out of my way to consider others, it’d seem like I was any other white dude imposing himself upon the world. That sounds shit in my book, so I try to mitigate it. I try to lower my status to even the playing field. Whether this works, I have no idea. Most people tend to find me pretty non-threatening, so maybe I’m on track.

Our teacher said something else. She said that the difference between confidence and arrogance involves whether or not you ever choose to willingly lower your status. If you refuse to ever yield status, you come off as an asshole. Cocky and unfriendly. People will resent that you seem to put yourself above them. I thought about this and wondered what balance I could strike to raise my status without trampling on others. I often joke about what the world must seem like to a confident person (doing power moves like pissing in the middle urinal of three), but it’s not like I don’t have that option in front of me. Recently I’ve been trying small tricks to see if they’ll help. I’ve been checking my posture more regularly. An upright chest with neutral spine, shoulders back, pelvis tilted forwards. I’ve been trying to smile more often in a fake it till you make it kind of fashion. If I do move aside or let someone through, I do it with a smile. Happiness is a status move, whether intentional or not. I’ve been heeding another lesson learned in improv- that it’s okay to pause before responding. You don’t need to always have an answer right away. Taking a second to consider isn’t a sign of weakness. It shows you’re thinking about the right answer.

Status is a privilege and it’s also a choice. It’s weird to think that I had a say in this all along.

Sounds choice to me.

Beetloaf? How would anyone ever figure that out?

I was listening to a playlist and David Bowie’s “Heroes” came on. It’s a great song, obviously. This ain’t no hot take. It’s not like you were in doubt about Bowie’s discography until I came down from on high and anointed it with my blessing. Oh, Leon thinks it’s a sweet jam? I better slide this one into my A rotation tout de suite. Bowie don’t need my help. Also, having passed into the pale, he’s beyond my reach.

It got me thinking, when did I get into Bowie? It was likely after hearing a bunch of his stuff on Radio Hauraki. I was 20 or so, working part time at a party store. Despite his legendary status in the rock canon, I didn’t know his stuff intimately. I liked that “Ziggy Stardust” one, but knew piss-all outside of that. I downloaded the rest of the Spiders from Mars album and soaked it in. Then Diamond Dogs. My appreciation of Bowie never passed into true idolatry. Since listening more intently, I’ve always thought he was great, but didn’t get sucked into the orbit of his mythos. I think I missed the boat, his contemporary relevance having happened before my time.

Then Bowie passed away and, well, nothing much changed. I still think he’s pretty great, but even more so than my own appreciation of his work, I love how his music and persona inspired so many. The pop cultural sphere was overflowing with tributes and it was hard to escape (not that I’d care to) from his pervasive oeuvre. Watching interviews where he clearly thought in a manner that was beyond his time, knowing that he constantly championed new and emerging artists only increased my admiration.

I noticed all the furore after his death (partly sparked by his late game release of Blackstar and the oddly prescient “Lazurus”) and wondered, cynically, if any artists had considered faking their death for the sweet, sweet tributes. I thought back to Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, how the boost to their discography rotations must’ve aided their estates. In poker you’ve gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. For an established, but fading artist (like Kenny Rogers himself), could it be time to cash out and escape to serene seclusion? Set up getaway plans, have lawyers plot everything out, then disappear leaving only grim fiction of your demise in your wake.

How hard would it be to fake your identity, buy a small plot of land and enjoy the quiet life somewhere outside of public scrutiny? You could chop wood and portage, whittle and play the fiddle. Plus other shit that country people do day in day out. How am I supposed to know? I’ve never shoved my arm up a cow’s butt. Royals and residuals lining your coffers, leaving the rest of your days unencumbered by the need to perform for others. For someone who’d lived in the public eye, wouldn’t that be idyllic? Meatloaf would do anything for love, would he fake his death? C’mon dude, it shouldn’t be hard to create some plant-based persona and find the sweet bliss of obscurity. Kill your public persona and live for yourself, not for anyone else. Then if you need a huge cash infusion, re-emerge from the grave like a Bat Out of Hell.

What are you waiting for? Your career has written itself to this moment.

Not that the word “flaccid” was important. I just wanted to add texture.

It’s been some time since I’ve talked about anything polyamory and that’s likely because it’s been some time since polyamory was relevant in my day to day. Neither my partner nor I have had much interest in dating other people, so neither of us have. When enough’s going on in your life that you’re having difficulty spending time with those you love, it’s hard to muster up enthusiasm for getting to know even more people you’ll eventually have to cancel on. Hell, it’s hard enough failing at re-working a sentence not to end on a preposition.

I figure that still being relatively new to the practice of extending romantic connection beyond monogamous commitment, there are muscles to be worked. It’s not like those muscles atrophy without use, but have you tried going for a run after a weeks spent marathoning The Wire? One of these things is only an exercise in patience. I haven’t had to think about romantic/sexual connections with others in yonks. Nor have I put myself through the mental gymnastics of working around the abundant social programming of a largely monogamous society. I haven’t been considering my anchor partner meeting others and how my brain reacts to that idea. She hasn’t dated anyone in an age. The last time I dated anyone was maybe ten months ago. It ended amicably enough, but I also didn’t yearn to get back out there. So we’ve been nesting comfortably.

My girlfriend and I went to a party the other night. I noticed she was getting close to a guy there. Nothing remotely explicit. A light brush here, a hand on the upper arm or waist. My immediate response wasn’t anything apocalyptic, but more aw geez, now I’m gonna have to do the work of mental unpacking. I was bracing myself for the thought of dealing with feelings that could potentially be challenging at some point. Like standing behind a wall holding a shield encased in a suit of armour. Are feelings that monstrous?

I tried poking and prodding at them a little. I’d met this dude a couple of times before. He’s always been a friendly, welcoming fellow. He’s open and honest, fun to be around and a warm soul. He’s a tall, good looking guy, so I understand her attraction. It’s not like I harbour any ill will for him, so why would I bristle at the thought of my girlfriend wanting to spend time with him? Because my italicised counter-thoughts chimed in, if she thinks he’s attractive, then she doesn’t think you are. That was silly. I find other women attractive, does that mean I don’t consider my girlfriend to be a knockout? Hell no. She’ll get infatuated with him and you’ll feel lonely, sad, holding your flaccid dick in your hand. I mean, this was getting to the heart of it. I didn’t want to be left behind or put out. The assumption that she’d no longer want me was ridiculous. I went off and had another relationship while living with her. Did I desire her less? Hell no. It made me appreciate even deeper all the things that made her special. But she’s a hyper-desirable person. She’ll be constantly out at parties finding people to fuck while you circle the snack table and talk to people about Air Bud like a child or adult with severe arrested development issues. Like a textbook narcissist, this was all a big plea of “what about me?”

I’m sure I sell myself short, but my base assumption is that nobody is interested ever. Straight up, my brain tells me that nobody wants to fuck me. The fact that a) I’m not a virgin and b) don’t think I have it in me to coerce anyone, should contradict this all to hell. It’s a worthless mental affirmation that I constructed years before I’d ever had sex. I don’t know why I’m still holding onto it. I’ve got a strong conviction against making anyone feel unwelcome or uncomfortable and it’s really hard to shirk the notion that my advances would cause discomfort. To be thought of as That Creepy Dude is anathema to my M.O. My involuntary response is to never hit on anyone at a party ever. Then I feel like a fucking child as people are getting frisky around me. It’s not that I don’t get hot under the collar when I meet someone sexy at a party. It’s more akin to having a mental collar that threatens to blow my brain to giblets if I were to act on that. I’ve conditioned myself to be harmless and in so, severely damaged my self-esteem.

I’ve got work to do. I need to train those mental muscles to relax and chill out. I need to accept that my partner will be attracted to others and it’s fine for her to act on that attraction. If this relationship is to have the sustainability we both desire, then I need to work on compersion, to be happy for her finding connection. But also that it’s okay for me to do the same. I also need to understand that I’m not a burden or continually unwanted, that sending out flirty vibes is not the same thing as assuming the woman I’m talking to has no agency or choice in the matter. That it’s possible for someone to look at me and think I want to put my lips on his and maybe touch his butt.

It wouldn’t be the first time.

If you can’t handle me at pukana, you don’t deserve me at Haka.

I met someone at a party last night who’d lived in Auckland for four years. She and I sung the New Zealand National Anthem in Maori. It was bittersweet. Wonderful to experience that part of my culture, especially the Maori version that’s always sounded sweeter to my ears. Disappointing to realise that aside from the first verse, I don’t actually know the entirety of my national anthem. That’s weird, right? Or is it okay to be enough of a fairweather Kiwi to aim for the bare minimum? I was also surprised to hear her recount the words to the Haka, something I’ve never fully known.

My culture is part of me, of course. It may not have defined my upbringing, but it certainly heavily contributed to who I am today. One thing I’ve always wanted to be able to do was a solid Haka. I love the Haka. It’s powerful and emotionally stirring. It reminds me that I come from a country with a rich and storied history. A country that’s dealt with brutal colonialism and unforgivable atrocities. A country that hasn’t attempted to whitewash any of this and has for years accepted that reparations are to be made (and will most likely never be paid in full). In school we were taught of the proud Maori heritage inherent to our country. We had Maori lessons and learned of the historical culture. Particularly in the last year of high school, my history teacher took great pains to present a balanced portrayal of colonial New Zealand. In particular, he emphasised just how culturally, militarily, numerically and politically dominant the Maori were over the Pakeha for decades into their arrival on New Zealand shores.

It’s kind of surprising by now that it’s not something I’ve learned, the Haka. I’m sure we were taught in schools. If I’d been more of an avid rugby head I’d have seen enough games for it to be etched into my memory. At age 30, notions of potential cultural appropriation have started circling in my mind. Concurrently, the more I think about usage, the less prevalent those thoughts seem to be. I can’t imagine pulling out the Haka in any situation without full respect. It’s not some joke or party trick. It’s a declaration of war or powerful show of emotion. If it’s to be performed, it’s always to be done with integrity. I don’t know what kind of situation would demand such a response, but I feel almost unarmed to not have it in my arsenal.

There are YouTube videos, the lyrics are widely available (for the most common Haka, certainly). The internet brings the means to learn right in front of my nose. The potential is there. I’m sure it would feel strange to practice in my bedroom. I may get worried texts from my upstairs and downstairs neighbours. Seems a small sacrifice to fill in the blanks of an important cultural practice.

If I ever develop enemies, best I leave them quaking in fear.

I did knot expect to tie that all together.

I’ve been procrastinating about starting this. The Internet has been far too alluring. So to make up for it, I’m gonna let you in on what I’ve been reading. Doesn’t that sound exciting? Sorry, messed up the word order there. Meant to say That doesn’t sound exciting!

Let’s begin.

I watched the trailer for Ready Player One. I enjoyed the book. It was a silly wish fulfilment narrative. The lead characters weren’t terribly well carved out. The whole thing was pandering stacked upon pandering. It was also a lot of fun, and even if it felt like the evocation of something my friends and I used to play called The Anythink Game. The premise was simple, you could be anyone and do anything you could think of. We used to play it on a trampoline. We’d be Transformers one minute and Ninja Turtles the next. I don’t know if we ever played as everyone’s favourite female Street Shark, but that was obviously a missed opportunity. Ready Player One felt in the same spirit and as such, it was a neat world to slip into. If I’d read it at age 13, I can guarantee you it would’ve been my favourite book of all time. I have no idea how Spielberg’s team is legally gonna get a hold of all that copyrighted material, but they’re the real heroes of the film. The scale of the idea makes sense on the big screen and in watching the trailer you can already see how specifically tailored to 3D they’ve made it. A big dumb film perfectly fit for a cheap Tuesday.

I had forgotten how cringeworthy a bunch of it was though.

I bought a new keyboard. I’m so tired of having to write on my phone while in transit. The Swype keyboard sure speeds things up, but it also gets overworked pretty easily. My poor Moto G can’t keep up with my fingers. I’d been considering buying a tablet or laptop, but if a keyboard can fix all my issues, why not go with the simplest solution? I realised the other day how I still haven’t adjusted to Bluetooth as a technology that exists. I’m a curmudgeon who’s already been made technologically obsolete. I was at the park the other day, marvelling at my friend’s rugged and robust bluetooth speaker. In my head, if it’s not hard-wired, it won’t work. I guess I’ve acclimated to the understanding that I often buy technology that’s behind the curve. Since my gear’s never top of the line, I just assume that all technology is as shitty as mine. The last time I bought something cutting edge was my beloved Samsung Galaxy S2. Even when it was dated, it still worked great. Stupid different Canadian networks not working with my pride and joy.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to constantly carrying a heavy work-around everywhere I go.

Lastly, T.J. Miller. I always thought of him as a provocative performance artist in the vein of Father John Misty. If that’s what he’s going for, judging by this interview he overshot the moon and ended up in another galaxy. Ugh, he comes off as a totally snarky, condescending prick. Just an unrepentant asshole. It’s a pity, his live performance at JFL42 2015 stands as one of my all time favourite comedy experiences. Densely interwoven meta commentary that was both flashy and subtle. He’s always walked that line for me, but if he’s trying so hard to present an unlikable persona, I’m fine accepting him as thus. Bummer. I hope he gets hoisted on his own petard and comes back to earth.

By the time he does, I might even have my own Bluetooth keyboard on which to write about it.

Maybe it’ll be after seeing him in Ready Player One.

Now I feel bad for not knowing the right kind of card tricks.

Magic the Gathering post. If you’re not into that, come back tomorrow.

Well we’ve reached the end of my Magic Grand Prix adventure. Immersing myself in a game I’ve been playing for 17 years now. I knew that I enjoyed it, but I didn’t realise how entrenched I’ve become in the culture surrounding it. I have good friends who I’ve met through the game. I read daily articles on strategy and changes to the metagame. I follow Magic stocks, the fluctuation of how much cards are worth. I get the jokes rising from the endless online circle-jerks. I knew it was a hobby, but didn’t understand that it was really a part of my life.

Spending two days at the GP was great. I always had people to chat to, given the commonality of our hobby. It was exciting to hear how friends were faring in their matches and overall records. I had consistently skill-testing matches and played a ton of players who were far better than I was. I learned a ton about the format and drafted a bunch. My drafts started off a little bit dicey, but by the end I realised where I was erring. I’d remembered that Amonkhet was a hyper aggressive format and I was convinced that playing five drops or six drops was a dead man’s game. That was true. It was all cartouches, trials and fucking Slither Blade of all things. The addition of Hour of Devastation slowed things right down. It’s entirely possible to splash cards. You can get to late game and mount a comeback. In short, if there’s fun, splashy stuff you want to play, go ahead. Play it.

It’s hard, getting a couple of bad beats in a row. It really shits on your morale. After a rough morning of being outplayed, I started getting almost delirious. I was clearly losing my mind and decided I could either let the pressure drive me insane, or stop taking it so seriously. It was just a game. If I wasn’t doing it for enjoyment, why was I doing it at all? I chilled out a little and tried to draft what I felt like drafting rather than what I felt I should. I managed to eke out a win in my third draft and felt the upswing. Then tragedy. Common practice in drafting so far had been to split after the first round. In short, declaring that the top four players all came out even. It meant everyone could walk away with ten boosters and go off to draft again. Everybody barring this one confident dude was up for splitting. This guy wanted to play it out. So we were all forced to play, then that guy got totally crushed. I got destroyed by my opponent and walked away with six boosters rather than ten. Fuck that guy (a sentiment I heard repeated later by other players in other drafts).

I did one last ditch effort draft. I started out picking Resilient Khenra, then got fed a number of solid red cards and began to question my green pick. Then the pendulum swung back and nearing the end of pack two I was solidly in RG, but with a bunch of fixing just in case. I noticed a super late Obelisk Spider coming around and decided what the hell, why not pick it and splash? The card is neat and I’d never been able to solidly get in that archetype. It was my last draft of the day. Fun was my motto. I opened pack three saw Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons staring me in the face. Time to commit. I was hoping to find a couple of those -1/-1 counter green creatures. Then Plague Belcher was passed and I knew I was set. I had fixing and three powerful themed splashes. ROCK AND ROLL MOTHERFUCKER.

The deck played out like a dream. It had a bunch of aggressive critters, but truly came alive in the mid-game. I didn’t see Hapatra, but hell that Obelisk Spider and Plague Belcher put in work. Both games they showed up and made things difficult for my opponent. I had a blast and did some tight aggressive manoeuvres. I felt like I was playing limited like it was meant to be played. I felt centred. Then our pod all decided to split because they weren’t assholes. I left the convention centre with a lightness in my heart.

AND A FUCKING STACK OF BOOSTER PACKS. YEAH BOI.

If I didn’t wake up tomorrow, I could hardly be that angry.

Oy vey, if the point of life is to live, then today was a fulfilment of my true prerogative. What a full day. Stacked to the brim with bustling activity, decadent consumption and love all around.

I woke up with plans to meet friends for lunch. Headed to my local for a coffee, which delivered on everything a decent coffee should. Why else would the place be my local? Do you think my standards are low enough to settle for shit in a mug? Fuck no. The baristas are super consistent and the beans are smooth and aromatic. I walked out of there with a mocha in hand and sunshine in my heart.

BRUNCH. Brunch plans came together hurriedly late last night. I basically got tacked onto a friend’s already scheduled brunch engagement. There was very little planning or discussion, but I figured I’d go with it and see how it turned out. As it happened, the brunch skewed more towards fine dining at Globe Bistro. It’d been yonks since I last visited a fine dining establishment (maybe Liverpool House in Montreal?) and was more than up for it. Even better, Summerlicious happened to be on. Summerlicious is a period of prix fixe menus, often experimental. A $23 three course meal at 11am? Why the fuck not? I call that a Saturday.

I started off with the Dry-Aged Steak Tartare. I’d never had Steak Tartare before. I’d been yearning to give it a try ever since hearing a story of my dad on his first date at a fancy French restaurant and ordering the steak. The Tartare wasn’t what he expected. It was, however, what my body wanted this morning. A little pool of miso aioli sat to the side, with a sprinkling of toasted hazelnuts, mustard greens and rice chips planted in a nicely sized circle of minced beef. It was so goddamn rich and all the flavours alley ooped one another like fucking champs.

For my main, I went for the Lake Trout. Served on a corn sake kasu broth, with Norther Woods oyster mushrooms, baby bok choy and scallions. Bloody divine. Soft and flakey, with crispy seared skin running along the top. I’d never imagined corn and mushrooms complementing one another, but somehow the textures meshed. Perhaps soaking in the sake broth mellowed them out. An A+ success.

The dessert was a Milk Chocolate Pannacotta. Soft and smooth, with a hazelnut meringue, Chantilly cream and salted caramel sauce. Decadent enough to melt my tastebuds to blissful numbness.

Then with a stomach fit to bursting, I met my girlfriend for rock climbing. I hadn’t climbed in some time and I think all the rich vittles were dragging down my centre of gravity. I did a bunch of climbs and to be honest, they weren’t too shabby. I got up those walls, I had a couple of well executed foot placements. I made it up a few walls easier than I’d expected. Defeated an overhang or two. Sure, I was still lunging for more holds than I would’ve liked, but having not climbed for aaaaaaages, I did pretty damn well. I also went upstairs to try out some stuff on the rings and it turns out my muscle ups are still solid. Stoked to bits.

We walked down the hill to Christie Pitts park and met up with a bunch of friends we hadn’t seen in far longer than was cool. All of us had been somewhat reclusive and had sorely missed one another. We snacked on cheese, fruit, popcorn and chips (because I hadn’t eaten enough already). We unleashed pun after pun. I got to try out handstands and round-offs after what’d felt like forever. All of which turned out really bloody great. We felt full of food and love, content with a day well spent.

Then went home to spend some quality time without clothing. Because there’s no such thing as too much love.