If I had musical talent my band name would be Brine Adams

I’ve gotta get going, so let’s rip on into this.

I bought 69 cans of tuna today (nice). I didn’t walk into the supermarket knowing I was going to come away with almost 70 tins, but sometimes life throws you curve balls. Or mercury poisoning. My girlfriend told me it was on sale, which is always an exciting time. Less exciting is how every time I go to the local Loblaws to pick up a bunch of the Olive Oil flavour, my rival has gotten there first. I swear it’s one person with an agenda and I’ve got no time for that shit.

I had a dinky little bag with me, that proved to be of zero worth. When I saw a shelf practically overflowing, I grabbed a basket and basically shoved the whole stack in there Supermarket Sweep style. I kid. I counted them all out with the intention of spending up our excessive President’s Choice points. You can only spend in increments of $10, so I was wondering if I wanted $20 worth? $40 worth? $60 worth sounded great. Turns out I had $50 credit on there, but with 88c cans I’d picked up 60 of them plus a slush pile to make up the excess. So for $10, I walked away with all 69 cans. Nice indeed.

The other day I saw something remarkable (I mean, anything’s remarkable if you’re talking about it). I was in the bathroom at The Carlton cinema. They have wall mounted urinals. In case you’ve never been into a male toilet, the common protocol is to pull out your penis and hold it with one hand to aim. I feel like this is a learned behaviour. If you’ve ever used a hose, you can imagine how the pressure makes it all flop around willy nilly (yes, of course that was intentional). Maybe if you’re doing kegels with a 20kg weight things change, I dunno. The guiding hand has always been useful for me.


Some dude sauntered in, whipped it out, then kind of stood there. His hands shot out and grabbed the sides of the urinal, then he pulled himself closer. At this point he was basically fucking it’s gaping maw. He went to town. It was bizarre and I was kinda transfixed out the corner of my eye. I’ve spent a lot of time peeing in urinals (is that something I put in my CV?) and I’ve never seen anything like this. I’m morbidly curious, but also don’t entirely want to know, how he withdraws money from an ATM.

I’ve finally arrived at the gates of adulthood. This morning, after a day or two of mild discomfort, I packed a container of TUMS into my day pack. I have no idea why, but I’ve been cursed with low level heartburn for the past little while. Maybe it was a combination of things I’ve eaten. Perhaps mercury poisoning is catching up with me. I’ve always had a palette for the spicy and it could be coming back to haunt me. Is it time to pay penance for my youthful abandon? Are my best days behind me? How long until I need a cane with me at all times?

Well, I had a good run. So long and thanks for all the tuna.

Sets and Reps and Boots and Cats

Another post for my local Toronto fitness group. If anyone else gets use out of it, that’s gravy!

There are more ways than one to get your sweat on. Once you get past the myriad of activities and exercises, there’s still variation up the wazoo. I’d wager there are almost as many workouts as there are videos of that one dude smoking different pipes in assorted clothing.

I have a poorly kept secret. I once did crossfit. That may read like I went to a singular class, but the fact is at one stage of my life I was doing crossfit habitually. I realise again my phrasing could be better. As stated, it sounds like some kind of illicit drug. The words “Crossfit Kool-Aid” have oft been spoken, especially by me and at many points while I was doing crossfit. Crossfit tends to get a bad rap amongst athletes, but there are a bunch of things that crossfit is really good at. If you want to push your limits and/or develop debilitating long-term injuries, crossfit is amazing.

It’s also, sarcasm aside, a lot of fun. There’s a big challenge aspect to it, the atmosphere is absurdly supportive and participants non-stop encourage everyone to do their best. Aside from the nigh-constant injuries (that part was in no way sarcastic), it really does get unbelievable results. You feel like you’re part of a team and regularly overcome what you thought possible. Most importantly, it’s a hugely varied program that staves off boredom.

A normal lifting routine will often look a lot like this:

Superset A
3×8 Exercise 1
3×8 Exercise 2

Superset B
3×8 Exercise 1
3×8 Exercise 2

Superset C
3×8 Exercise 1
3×8 Exercise 2

Superset D
3×8 Exercise 1
3×8 Exercise 2

To break that down, you’re doing four different couplets of complimentary exercises. In each of those couplets, you’re doing three rounds of eight reps (repetitions). Sometimes people will add in warm up sets outside of those, but that’s the basic outline. It’s simple. It works. Another common variant would be 5×5 (should be self-explanatory) or some kind of pyramid structure (increasing the weight each set. Then after you’ve reached your peak, descending back down the weights (which should feel lighter after your peak)).

Crossfit says “fuck that”, then makes up acronyms like AMRAP, which funnily enough sounds like a pyramid scheme. AMRAP stands for As Many Rounds As Possible, which gives a time limit and gets you to push yourself to see just how much you can do. An example of a basic AMRAP workout would be:

“Cindy” (they all have names, much like Pokémon, which is cute):

20 minutes
5 Pull Ups
10 Push Ups
15 Air Squats

So the idea is that it starts off simple, but with each progressive round the exercises get harder. After 20 minutes (let’s be real, after 5 minutes) you’re totally gassed and done for the day. BAM, 20 minute workout (plus stretching, etc). If you’re looking for a good, high intensity workout, I strongly encourage you to try out different combinations. This isn’t the only neat set/rep structure we did in crossfit. Here are some others that I liked:

Working down: Pick a few exercises and choose a starting number. Do reps of each exercise equivalent to that number, then for the next round take the number down by one. The fun part with this method is the rounds get shorter and shorter. As you get tired and the exercises get harder, there are fewer of them to do. It’s kind of a bell curve since the middle rounds are really tough, then in the last few rounds you get your mojo back (since you might only have two or three reps in that round). A workout structured this way may look a little something like:

10x Pull Ups
10x Burpees
10x Squat Jacks
10x Dips
9x Pull Ups
9x Burpees
9x Squat Jacks
9x Dips
8x Pull Ups
8x Burpees
8x Squat Jacks
8x Dips

…and so on. For an extra challenge you can also start small and work your way up.

X Gon’ Give It to Ya: I don’t really know what the name is for this one, but it uses the principles of both the above exercises to make something different. You’ll often get two opposing exercises, then start one at low reps while the other is at high reps. So one gets easier as the other gets harder. It doesn’t even have to be entirely number’s game. I really enjoy using this one for working on my hill sprints:

Hill Sprint
10x Tuck Jumps
Walk back to the start
Hill Sprint
8x Tuck Jumps
Walk back to the start
Hill Sprint
7x Tuck Jumps
Walk back to the start

What ends up happening is that the tuck jumps, while active, become a rest from the sprinting. You get increasingly tired from the sprints and as the tuck jumps decrease, you have less time to rest before you’re sprinting again. This one in particular is fantastic for encouraging Fast-Twitch muscle fibers (ones used for explosive movements). If Tuck Jumps are too easy, Burpees are an excellent substitute (or addition).

Keeping Things Interesting: I’m gonna leave you with one more workout. Sometimes it’s just fun having different reps for each exercise based on difficulty. Variety is the sixth Spice Girl, and all. Here’s an easy workout that you can tailor to your level by altering the number of rounds:

10x Push Ups
15x Lunges (each leg)
20x Squat Jumps
30x Mountain Climbers
40x High Knees
50x Bicycle Crunches

Beginner: 2 rounds
Intermediate: 3-4 rounds
Advanced: 5-7 rounds

If you want to gauge personal progression, do it regularly and try timing yourself.

Have fun out there, stay safe and don’t drink the Crossfit Kool-Aid.

As an aside, Beginners was a great film. Watch it!

I’ve started a local Toronto fitness group on Facebook. It’s a resource to help friends find other people to work out with in parks, etc. I may end up writing some stuff for it over the next little while.

Super Basic Workout Things

This is by no means meant to be a comprehensive or even well thought out guide. There are many places across the internet where you can find that sort of stuff. The scenario I’m envisioning this being helpful for is the following:

You want to do basic personal bodyweight workouts. Maybe in a park or sweating in your living room/hallway.

Don’t laugh, I did it for a year or longer when I couldn’t afford a gym membership. Yes, I felt embarrassed to be working out in public. No, nobody else cared. Thing is, free fitness is something I care a lot about. I adamantly believe that having access to an active lifestyle should come with a cost barrier. Humans are incredibly resourceful, but there’s no reason why you need to pay a monthly fee or lift heavy metal things in order to get your heart racing and blood pumping. I mean, sex is 100% valid exercise. Especially when you don’t have air conditioning. It’s basically build your own hot yoga. Anyway, I digress. There’s infinite information out there, a lot of it conflicting. As far as I’m concerned the most effective exercise is the kind you enjoy. If you like it, you’ll keep at it. That’s far more long term than crash dieting or short term challenges. I don’t believe there’s one type that’s better than others. Let’s lay down some stuff.

If you’re starting out, simple full body workouts can be very effective.

Many heavy lifters do split programs. Perhaps upper/lower days. It’s where the whole “skipping leg day” meme comes from. At the beginning I’d be surprised if you knew enough exercises to fill two different rotating programs. What we’re gonna focus on instead is basic push/pull stuff.

What’s The Deal with Push/Pull?

Thanks Jerry. In true ELI5 fashion: A lot of exercises are either pushing exercises or pulling exercises. Bench Press, for instance, would be a push exercise. Horizontal Row would be a pull exercise. Combine the two and you’ve worked out your chest and back. The idea being that you want to try and balance your muscles. It’s both an aesthetic and functional thing. There are also different types of push/pull. The aforementioned Bench Press and Horizontal Row are, you guessed it, horizontal push/pull. Pull Ups/Shoulder Press would be a vertical push/pull. Combine that stuff and you can have a nice balance to your workout. A great way of hitting both together is “Super Setting”. It’s basically just coupling together similar exercises. So in this case you’d do a set of Bench Press, followed by your set of Horizontal Row, then back to Bench Press. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Let’s talk numbers.

There’s also a lot of conflicting information out there about numbers. Honestly, I’d suggest sampling different combinations to see what works for you. As a starting point, 3×8 tends to be an easily achievable number that can yield results. YMMV. This also varies by exercise. If you’re doing very heavy deadlifts, maybe 8 would be too many. Bodyweight squats might be quite easy for you, so 12-20 reps could make a lot more sense. Do what feels natural to you. A good basic indication is if you feel like you could do more, maybe you could. Keep in mind that each round will get progressively harder.

Warm up first.

The rule of thumb is to do dynamic stretching beforehand and static stretching afterwards. An easy delineation is that dynamic stretches typically involve movement of some variety, while static stretches often require you to hold a stretch. If you’re starting cold, you want to nudge your body towards work rather than turning it to 100 immediately. Once the muscles are humming, you can get a lot of benefit out of holding longer stretches. This article does a better job of explaining it, while giving some good basic stretches at the end.

Let’s put it all together.

I’m gonna use Westmoreland Avenue Parkette as an idea of somewhere perfect for this. It has high quality, sturdy equipment, it’s relatively shaded and doesn’t get a ton of use. Time for a basic workout (after so much preamble? What is this? A Mommy Blog?):

5 minute dynamic warm up:

2×10 Walking Lunge with a Twist
2×10 Star Jumps
2×10 Bodyweight Squats
2×20 Mountain Climbers
2×10 Forward Leg Swings (each leg)
2×10 Side Leg Swings (each leg)

Vertical Push/Pull:

3×8 Pull Up variant
If you can’t do a pull up (most people can’t), try using a resistance band. Or start with negatives. Stand on a box or jump into position and focus on slowly lowering yourself down. If this is too hard, try using a bar that’s lower to the ground. Begin in a crouch position and try to pull yourself up and closer to the bar.
3×8 Dips variant
Westmoreland Avenue Parkette has parallel bars, which are fantastic. If you can do dips on those, go you! If not, try tricep dips on the bench. Start with your legs at right angles to the ground. To increase the difficulty, progressively walk your feet out.


3×8 Bodyweight Squat variant
Your butt is a big ol’ muscle, so if these reps are too low you can increase them without too much worry. Protect your knees – Always remember to keep your knees behind your toes. If basic squats are too easy, try doing squat jumps. If these are too easy, increase the numbers. If these are too easy try doing one leg step ups on the bench. If you’re doing step ups, try to go slowly rather than just jumping straight up.

3×8 Lunge variant
Static lunges (staying in your lunge pose and dipping down) are great. Alternatively you can step into position then lower yourself (try to keep these as distinct movements to maintain form). You can do plyometrics (jumping up and down) on the same leg or even alternate between legs. As always, if these are too easy you can up the reps a bunch.

Horizontal Push/Pull:

3×8 Push Ups
We all know these, right? If it’s too hard to do a push up from your toes, do them from your knees. The basic push up has your elbows grazing your ribs. You can also widen your arms to work your chest more. Westmoreland has horizontal bars which can be great for decreasing the strain. You can try a less flat angle to ease yourself into it. Once these are too easy, you can start working on your one handed push ups (protip: Start these against a flat vertical surface).

3×8 Horizontal Row
If you’re really starting out you can stand up next to the parallel bars. To increase the difficulty, increase the angle. The more horizontal your body is, the harder it’ll be.

Cool Down Stretches:
(30 second static holds)

Quads – Stand up with your right hand balanced against the wall. Grab the top of your left foot with your left arm and pull your heel towards your butt. Repeat on the right.

Figure Four – Lie on your back with your left leg crossed over your right knee. Reach through the gap and grab the back of your leg with each hand. Slowly pull towards you while gently pressing your left elbow into your left leg. You should feel a nice glute/hip opening. Repeat on the right.

Chest – Place your left palm on a wall to your left side outstretched horizontally. Turn your body to the right while keeping that arm securely planted. Repeat on the right.

Tricep – You all did this in P.E. Right? Raise your left hand, bend it to pat your back. Grab your left elbow with your right hand and gradually apply pressure. Repeat on the right.

Cat/Camel – Time to get sexy. Plant yourself on all fours with a relatively flat back. Keeping your knees and hands in place, alternate between rounding out your back (camel) and arching it (cat). I’d hold each for about five seconds for a total of 30 seconds.

Lower Back – Lie on your back with your arms outstretched (like a big “T”). Bend your knees and lower them both to one side. Turn your head to the opposite side. For a greater stretch, straighten your top leg, then bottom leg for even more. Be gentle with yourself here. Pushing it too hard could result in overstretching.


Did that take a while? It sure took a while to write. The good part is that the workout should only take around 30-40 minutes. Get out there and have fun!

Is this how I finally start a cult?

A few years ago, fresh to Toronto, I was looking for a job. For convoluted reasons, with no prior experience, I became a children’s gymnastics instructor.

When I say “no prior experience” I mean that I’d never worked with kids before. Or done gymnastics. Or taught anything professionally. You do the math. Truth is, while it wasn’t my favourite thing to do, I wasn’t terrible at it. I also learned a bunch about gymnastic technique and how to do a couple of things. My handstand walking got much better. My cartwheels and round-offs came a long way. My split front lever was actually pretty reasonable. I never learned to do back handsprings, but it’s not like I expected 2BA Master in a year or so’s time. One trick that I didn’t manage to land, however, was my one-handed cartwheel. It seemed within reach, but I couldn’t quite get there. I trained at it, but face planted more than my fair share of times. Eventually my drive to get there wilted and I forgot about it.

Yesterday a bunch of friends and I were goofing around at the park. One of them was doing one-handed cartwheels and I got wistful. With more than a little Dutch courage, I decided to give them a crack. It’d been years since I last tried and in that time I’d trained not one iota. Nevertheless, I did my best. Turns out my best was good enough. I landed the trick easier than I’d expected. It just felt natural. I was stoked, but also kind of stunned. Without practice, how had I landed it? I gave it more thought and realised that the accumulation of my assorted physical training over the past few years had put me in a position where it was possible.

The lesson being, we’re so often goal oriented. It can be incredibly frustrating when you’re putting so much effort and intention towards something that doesn’t materialise. It’s easy to beat yourself up over your inability to rise to the challenge. That’s not a failing on your behalf. We all have so much potential. Maybe it’s just not the right time for you. All you can really do is focus on being the best you can, but giving yourself enough leeway to understand that being the best you can be doesn’t mean that you have to hit your peak potential right away. We don’t blame saplings for not being towering oaks. Like Mainland Cheese, good things take time. Take heed, shitty Canadian cheese.

I’m an active guy and a lot of my friends know it. I hear so many frustrations from mates who don’t think they’re good enough, fit enough, strong enough. It breaks my fucking heart every time and I’ve had enough of it. The thing is, we all need to start somewhere. My journey through fitness has taken sixteen years so far. I vomited at my first personal training session. It probably took three or four years before I really started seeing active results. I quit and restarted and cried out of frustration umpteen times. It was too hard, it felt like I’d never get anywhere. Whenever I took a break, starting again felt like climbing a mountain. I forced myself again and again to get back to the gym. I hated it and hated myself for my inability to commit. After a while I took away the option of being inactive. Without giving myself compassion, it was a rough road that was all kinds of emotionally damaging. What I gained in discipline, I paid for in therapy both cognitive and physical. I have permanent injuries that won’t ever 100% heal.

What I’m saying is, while I got to a place of progress eventually, I can’t in good faith recommend my path. If I’d been kinder to myself, maybe I’d still have an untarnished PCL or rotator cuffs that don’t click. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s important to listen to yourself, to give yourself the space to not be at 100 all the time. I can say without question that I’ve progressed exponentially since then. Some quick things I’ve taken to heart:

  • If it hurts, stop. No question.
  • There is no such thing as too much mobility.
  • Active stretching beforehand. Passive stretching afterwards.
  • Progress is not linear.
  • Just because you could lift it last time, that doesn’t mean you will today.
  • Form>everything. No goal weight is worth the risk of long term injury. I will regularly drop 10-20kg off an exercise if I feel my form is suffering.
  • Don’t look at the scale. Those numbers mean nothing. Instead, take measure of how your body feels. Are you a little less puffed post-jog than you were a year ago? That’s massive progress.
  • Your body has muscle memory. It’s a lot easier to get back to somewhere than it was to get there in the first place. If you’re not there right now, that doesn’t mean you won’t be again.
  • If your body doesn’t feel ready to be as active as you want, don’t force it. Do something lower impact or save it for tomorrow.
  • No More Zero Days.
  • Forgiveness is a longer road than pressure, but a much safer one.

Take care of yourself if you want to get there in one piece. You’re the only you you’ve got.

I guess a perfect Sunday would’ve had even more cheese

Let’s begin. I think I was drunk earlier today and I’m hoping I’ve sobered up enough to put coherent word to digital paper.

I’m not sure how much I’ve spend on food/drink/entertainment this weekend. My guess is close to $200. That might be an extravagant guess, but I’m mildly concerned it isn’t. My belly is very happy. I’ll be even happier once the food has moved its way out of my body. This morning my girlfriend and I went off for brunch with our Toronto family. It was amazing. I don’t wanna use that word lightly, but I feel like it fits here. We brought Prosecco and made mimosas. They were the least decadent thing on the table. There was cheese and crackers. They’d set out both bagels and challah loaf for all of our bread-y needs. There was a wonderful salmon and cheese bake, vegan hashbrown casserole thing, coleslaw with apple and cranberries and a pseudo caprese salad thing. If we’d gone to a restaurant, we’d have been astounded by the meal. This was much better, since we got to share conversation with beloved family we hadn’t seen in maybe six months or so. It’s Toronto, “busy” is everyone’s neutral state.

Next up was the live Doug Loves Movies show. Remember yesterday when I talked about the cool The Leon Demon name tag I made? Well it didn’t get chosen by any of the guests. Poop. I was so psyched too. I spent ages spitballing with my girlfriend over who my “shithead” should be. I joked that Hitler would be a fun choice on a meta level. Like, isn’t he the poster child for shitheads? Isn’t it an answer so obvious that nobody would ever pick it, thus making it kind of funny and unexpected? I wasn’t sure, so I went for Jordan Peterson. I’d say he could go fuck himself, but I don’t want him having any pleasure, self-directed or otherwise.

The show was a fucking sweaty riot. Mark Forward, Kayla Lorette and [some random knowledgeable audience member]. It was a fun mishmash with endless riffing. The audience member was getting a little ranty and Forward was reciprocally antagonistic. It was a fun dynamic. At one point Kayla turned to the audience member and asked “how does it feel becoming the villain in your home city?” The mood was less aggressive than I made it sound. The audience member did a great job on the games, but Kayla came out ahead. Mark mostly cracked wise the whole time. There was a ton of great creativity with audience name tags (and a fair number of candy based bribes) and the two hours went past in a breeze. Everyone also sweat their balls off on a day Toronto turned the heat up to 11. Wait, that’s not particularly high in Celsius. Maybe 30 degrees is more accurate. I had maybe three beers, which weren’t helping with the sweat-age.

After the show, I got a burrito with friends then we headed off to the park to meet up with some others. We spun hula hoop (and at the age of 31, I finally learned how. I was just putting too much force into it), poi and staff. We did some handstands, cartwheels and round offs. We basically just goofed around a bunch in good company.

Honestly, I don’t think I have the imagination to conceive of a more ideal Sunday.

If looks could skill

How did you spend your Saturday morning? If you answered “mildly hungover I half-assedly taught myself super basic photoshop” then we’re probably twins and we should go out into the world and play twin pranks.

Because my body told me five hours was ample sleep for a weekend (they don’t call ’em “sleepends”), I woke up with purpose. I was gonna try to learn how to make my Doug Loves Movies poster goddammit. I had my idea, I had paint.net (basically a freeware low-rent photoshop. I can’t recommend it enough) and I had nothing else valuable to do with my time. The perfect recipe for creativity. I started by finding a high res image of the original film poster. Then to get it out of the way, removed the “N” from the title and copied the “E” to make an “L”. I fine tuned the edges by alternating between the dropper tool and small tipped paintbrush. This was some serious pixel shit. I trawled Facebook for a useable photo of me (the only one where I’m not copping a big dumb smile) and got to work. I added my face as a layer and sized it with her normal face. I drew corresponding white lines to those of the poster and trimmed off the sides of my face that would otherwise be out of bounds. For far too long I did this using the “overwrite” function on the paintbrush, before remembering that the best way to erase was just using the “erase” tool like any non-insane person. With my head sized right, I trimmed right around the edges to keep it as flush as possible with her face.

Then came the interesting part, with the face layer completed, I wanted to try and recreate the key lighting effect from the poster. I made a new layer to create a gradient of red/purple from the top left (getting the specific colours with the dropper tool). It took a bit of tooling around with hues, but eventually I had it figured out. I made yet another gradient layer to get light on my face from the bottom right. It wasn’t nearly the same as the gorgeous saturated light effect, but it was something. Then came the pedantic bit. I got the eraser tool out and went all the way around my face on the first gradient layer, basically separating the gradient that was on my face to that outside of it. I did the same on the next gradient layer, so I had my facial gradients and all the wasted stuff on the outline. Then came the fun part, where I got to increase the eraser footprint to the size of a fucking tree and clear off all the unnecessary gradients, so I just had the light on my face. I then went into the layer options for each gradient and put them to “glow”.

Voila, I was done!

Now if I had any standards, I’d put more work in. I feel like I didn’t really understand the layer opacity functions until after I’d done all the incredibly finicky outlining. By that point I flat out couldn’t be bothered going back to set a new gradient, because I’d have to do all the outlining again. If I’d done it I would’ve cranked the colour saturation right to the brink and softened the layer opacity to compensate. Maybe I’d use the lasso select to give myself purple eyeliner and make my features pop a little more instead of blandly sitting under the layer. Maybe I’d even do work on my lips to make them stand out. I dunno, as someone who knows nothing, the concept of digitally giving myself makeup is a little intimidating. I’ve got so many plans in the next 24 hours, I barely have time to print it. Still, for two or so hours of my life, I’m happy enough with the outcome. It’s a lot better than the cut/paste job I was planning on doing initially.

I certainly didn’t expect to end today with a whole new skill.

Definitely lower case on that whole “skill” word.

I would preemptively crack and I have no shame about that

I wrote a Facebook status today that went:

Me being tortured:
“I’ll tell you whatever you want. Just don’t call me late to dinner!!!

I swear I’ve spent 30 minutes laughing at it. Not one 30 minute period where I thought about it from time to time. 30 minutes of total laughter spread across the past five hours. 30 minutes is a lot of chuckling, considering each time may have been for about 10-15 seconds or so. Hell, 10-15 seconds laughing at a single joke is a buttload of time in itself. With strangely little exaggeration, I’ve thought of this joke and giggled to myself roughly every five minutes. For fact checkers out there, I did zero math on this, so my calculations may be one or two decimal points off. To be clear, I don’t think it’s a good joke. Even filtered through a myriad of meta layers it still barely makes sense. More so, that’s why it tickles me so. This whole preamble isn’t to highlight my scintillating wit. All’s I’m saying is that if I end up alone and destitute, at least I’ll be in good company.

I’m tired as all heck today, but for good reason. I got to work mega early for a clandestine meeting. Half right. I’ve been trying to track down this dude in our company about an something. It’s not super secret, but I also don’t feel like going into it. Suffice to say, it may lead to a new job directly or far more indirectly. Thing is, this bloke lives in Vancouver and commutes to Toronto every once in a while. I’ve missed him the last couple of times and he never felt super jazzed about setting a time to meet in person. Considering it’s leading towards something tied directly to my interests, I’ve been tenacious. Like a slavering bloodhound with prosthetic wheels in need of oiling. I also figure it’s easy to be dismissive of someone you’ve only interacted with over email or the phone, but once you’ve actually met it engenders them to you. Like naming a stray and getting separation anxiety when it comes time to say goodbye. Turns out he was friendly and the meeting will be helpful one way or another. Almost worth getting to work an hour and 45 minutes early.

I’ve got Doug Loves Movies on Sunday and I’m excited. The thing I don’t have is a name tag or the graphic design skills to put one together. I guess I should probably take a step back and explain how it all works first. So Doug Loves Movies is a live podcast taping with comedian Doug Benson (who, as you guessed, loves movies. Here’s an episode where Captain America gets drunk and bro-y, but in a charming fashion). He invites a bunch of special guests (usually comics, actors, etc) on stage to play movie trivia based games. The guests all bring gifts for a communal prize bag. Here’s where the name tags come in. Audience members make posters of a chosen movie that combines with a pun on their name. I’m planning on The Leon Demon, for instance. Some people get incredibly creative. Guests go out into the audience and pick a name tag, playing on behalf of that audience member. Whichever guest wins the games, their audience member gets the entire prize bag. But wait, there are no losers! Everyone gets to write a “shithead” in an envelope on the back of their name tag. If their champion doesn’t win, Doug reads out their “shithead” to the crowd. You might write “Harvey Weinstein” is a shithead or something.

So how long does it take to learn basic photoshop?

A swing and a miso

How do I know so many cool people doing so many cool things?

I don’t know if it’s a matter of like calling to like, but it seems my circle finds me more than I search it out. One of my enduring favourite things about Toronto is how it tends to provide more than I could ever imagine possible. Opportunities are ever-present. I know so many individuals with fingers in disparate flavours of pies. I’m babbling, but that’s what happens when I get excited.

First up I saw a friend post a message in a shared group. One of her buddies was starting up a new Japanese food tour. Consequently, he needed curious and adventurous individuals to give it a test run. If you a) enjoyed Japanese food, b) loved sake and c) didn’t mind getting your picture taken for promotional purposes, then get in touch. Guess what I’m doing in an hour? It’s 15 minutes’ walk from my work and I was looking for something to do anyway. I was even craving Japanese or Korean for dinner. Perfect, right? So now I get to learn about new and exciting cuisine and more importantly, eat it. All for free. Sometimes luck just presents itself on a silver platter.

Next up, another friend posted about an awesome structure he’s put together. You know how as kids we all dreamed of going the entire way around the swingset? He’s basically made something that can accomplish just that. Instead of a loose chain, it has long arms that extend to just above the ground. There’s a platform, sort of like a trapeze, that you strap your feet into. There are straps for your arms too, so you’re totally secure. From there it’s a matter of building up momentum. Much like a swing, it’s about straightening your body at the right time and keeping a tight core, flowing with the arc. He posted a video and it looks like total madness. Once you get your speed up, not only do you go the entire way around the top, but you can start chaining up loops. It’s fucking insane. He extended the invite to come along and test it on Saturday. You bet your ass I’m gonna spin myself into a centrifugal state.

If that wasn’t enough, I’ve got more talented friends doing awesome things. One of my favourite local Toronto attractions was Pursuit OCR. It was an indoor obstacle race styled after Tough Mudder type competitions, but with an emphasis on fun and play. They did such a fantastic job of making sure each obstacle scaled by difficulty level, giving options no matter your strengths. A community minded place with an unwavering commitment to inclusivity. Every single time I went the atmosphere was wonderful, encouraging people to try their best without any shame. Accomplishments were celebrated wholeheartedly and giving it a try was everything. They had workshops on handstands, aerials and acro yoga. All the staff were super knowledgeable and would offer their expertise freely. I remember when I was trying to train for human flag, one of the instructors stepped in without fail, explained the physics of the movement and gave advice on how I could work towards it. Never condescending, rather he was extremely helpful. I went there for lightsaber battles, NERF wars and a bunch of parties. Everyone was always up to play and gave it their all. It was an amazing space, but when I heard it was being torn down for condos, my heart sank.

Fortunately my friend who owns the place never shies away from a challenge. He’s found a new, much larger location and has even bigger plans. They’re incorporating a paintball-esque escape room, Mario Kart style trikes and an enormous all new track. Different obstacles, with a renewed emphasis on accessibility. I’m so excited about it coming to life later this year. They’ve put together an Indiegogo campaign in order to raise the funds to bring it into existence. If you’re based in Toronto and this sounds like your kind of thing, please take a look at what they’re planning. If you want to kick in some shekels (and snag yourself some cheap perks while you’re at it) then go right ahead. If you want to signal boost or share the word with friends who’d love it to bits, please do so. All I know is that any steps I can take towards this coming to fruition are worth actioning.

Speaking of steps worth taking, I better get to this Japanese food tour. Arigato, go as I must!

It’s been a while since I’ve fallen off a bike. It’s been a while since I’ve ridden one at all

I have nothing momentous to talk about, which seems proof as any that I’m coming back down to Earth.

Yesterday was understandably tough. The world felt muted and dull. I’ve heard that’s a pretty common experience when returning from a burn. I went home and made some low rent chicken soup. I played Magic: Arena and watched a couple of episodes of Fleabag. I slept. I dreamed of mundane things like being on a bus. Some old woman walked on and kicked the shit out of the Presto machine. Everyone cheered. In another dream I visited an Air BnB. The host pulled a creepy doll out of a closet and told me how she’d performed a seance to summon a demon. It’d inhabited this doll, which if anything may have toned down its creep factor. The demon decided it wanted to eat my soul. I told it that in dreams I always seemed to have telekinetic powers. I harnessed my telekinetic powers to keep the demon doll at bay, but somehow failed to connect the dots that I was in a dream. One more potential lucid dreaming situation wasted.

Apparently the N.F.L. will fine teams if their players kneel through the national anthem. Hah. What a bullshit rule in a shitty sport composed of posturing. If that ain’t the most ridiculous, ‘MURICA regulation I’ve ever heard. As someone who genuinely likes his country’s national anthem (well, the Maori version anyway), all the hubbub surrounding them is fucking stupid. Going back to ol’ Benedict Anderson, the notion of national pride is pretty absurd. It’s a set of geographical boundaries and somehow that’s grounds to treat them as sacred? The cultural milieu that exists within the landmass of Canada spans the entire world. Not only ethnicities, but religious, gender, sexual and subcultural variation. What does a national identity provide for its citizens, enough that adherence to its tenets is something that requires respect? In most cases, nations certainly don’t respect a wide swath of their citizens. Subtracting someone’s ability to make a stand for what they believe in seems entirely the antithesis of this supposed “freedom” that Americans love so much. I don’t give two shits about the game, but the concept of it having principles while subtracting the harmless rights of its players is a total joke. Is the U.S. identity so fragile that it can’t stand up to criticism or questioning? Poor little shaky male egos.

I got bored at work today, so I went outside to sit on a rock. It was a sizeable rock, this wasn’t some Princess and the Pea kind of thing or an exercise in shelving. I’m not sure what I expected. Did part of me think I was gonna postulate on some deep issues? In reality I went from sitting inside fucking around on the internet to sitting outside fucking around on the internet. The only differences being the rock in lieu of a seat and fresh air instead of air conditioning. Then I went on a swing. You forget how much abdominal work goes into swinging. You need to keep your core taught to maintain movement and centrifugal force. Leaning into the arc. Otherwise you get to the top then crash down. No grace. Without grace, what’s the point?

Let’s be real, there was none. I was just trying to kill time. As I was with that last sentence.


Temporal relativism takes a while to end

Reality certainly doesn’t feel as such.

I knew returning from the heightened state of Hyperborea would be a process, so I’m exercising self-love and compassion. I’m intentionally not putting myself under any pressure to accomplish a single thing today. Today does not exist for exercise, caloric concerns or expended energy. It’s about turtling up and rediscovering my space in the world’s heartbeat. If it happens, spectacular. I shot for the Earth and ended up in the stars. Time and I aren’t on equal footing right now. I feel temporally displaced. The world will go at its own pace as I struggle to find mine.

It’s a little surreal. While logically it makes sense for me to be in the office plugging away at my desk, emotionally it’s hard to determine why I can’t feel fresh air on my face. Why is anybody here? Why did we all agree to this Brutalist social structure devoid of individuality? Where are the bursts of creative expression? What of the sights, colours and sounds of mirth? It’s simultaneously noisy and deafeningly quiet.

Everything seems strange and alien right now. Last night I went on Facebook and saw people aggressively arguing about some ephemeral minutiae. It felt so bizarre and unnecessary. This morning I stood in darkness at the precipice of my door. I felt a surge of emotion and barely managed to hold back tears. I looked out into the world and the sky was somber. Today as I rode on the TTC it was nothing but downcast faces and avoidant behaviour. Money doesn’t make sense. I’ve been leaning hard into music to grasp at any modicum of belonging I can. It’s an adjustment for sure, but presently it’s hard to imagine holding a place in this existence.

After days of living in immediacy, clocks have reared their ghastly faces. Calendars and schedules just seem so unforgiving. If you’re present where you are, the concept of “missing” anything is little more than absurd. Why care about things outside of your control? Why care so much about controlling everything? It’s all chaos, just hold on tight to what you love and find your place in the maelstrom.

Problems are for another day. For now there’s only acceptance.