If your responsibility is to stand guard outside toilets, is that Dysentry?

Hi hey things are busy, but I’m still here for y’all because I care.

It’s been kind of okay getting back to work after my weekend away. People were wearing sandals in the office. SANDALS. I saw no Crocs, but it’s certainly given me pause about the dress code. Maybe I could get away with sleeveless vestments. Though maybe not a vest. That’s a little too Chippendales for a non-male stripper job. Then again, they wear bow ties. That’s kinda smart casual.

The thing about travelling is it frees up a lot of head space. It’s exciting, but also sometimes you just want to knuckle down and get things done. It can be nice to have that head space filled by office cubical bullshit and meetings. Don’t hold me to that, I’m feeling charitable. It was busy though. We’re working in advance for the long weekend, so there’s a bunch of extra work. I had less downtime to untether my brain, and have to pull it back down to Earth. I had a meeting that took an age in the morning, then I had an afternoon job interview.

By this point, I’ve stopped being intimidated by interviews. I go in assuming that things won’t work out, so I use them as opportunities to learn. Since they’ve primarily been within the company, interviews have given me one on one time with individuals in different departments. I get to discover what people do and how they do it. I make contacts, and imagine a version of myself that gets that job. I can play around with that notion in my head and see how visceral it feels. Then if things really connect, it gives me ideas of direction and potential futures. Today’s job I went in kind of half-arsed about, but talking with the interviewer, I discovered aspects of the work that would be appealing. I think I made a decent impression, we chatted for just over an hour, and I had a good time. If the floor on the interview was meeting someone nice and having a pleasant conversation, that’s far from a bad outcome.

I’ve also been scrambling to get stuff together for a camping music festival this weekend. A friend told me about it a week or two back and said I should come. On Monday, I decided it could be a blast. Today I bought my ticket. We’ve been trying to sort out transit, and I think my friend/angel-in-human-skin said we can borrow her car. I need to borrow a tent from a different friend, and maybe do some loose meal planning. I’m not used to being this happy to lucky about travel, but I’m seeing how throwing caution to the wind and asking the universe goes. It’s not like this is a leave no trace/radical self reliance type gig, I don’t need to meticulously plan for everything. I have enough basic camping stuff within arm’s reach, and I can figure out snacks and primitive meals with the best of them. Or at least with the third stringers. It may mean canned tuna for every meal, but I’ve been surviving on something like that for nigh on 20 years now. What could go wrong?

If Oregon Trail taught me anything, then dysentery, probably.

Office showdown: Crumble in the urban jungle

We had an “argument” at work a week or two ago. I think I lost it, but I’m also not sure I was wrong. It was a Friday. One of our co-workers was working from home, or on vacation or something. It’s not super important why she wasn’t there, but her absense is. This co-worker had a cookie sitting next to her desk. It was half wrapped in gladwrap, but mostly left open to the air and other elements. I was in a snacky mood and wanted this cookie. That’s a bit specific. I wanted a cookie, and this cookie just happened to be there.

I opened up the floor to my fellow co-workers. Should I eat this cookie? My argument was that she had a bunch of days off, and it would be out of commission by the time she came back. Wasn’t it best that this cookie get consumed at the height of its delectability rather than left to languish in the trappings of time? And wasn’t it a shame, nay, morally inconscionable for it to go to waste? Didn’t I have some kind of Kantian imperative to ensure it went to a good home? And what better home than the belly of someone who would truly cherish it? Someone like, say, myself?

They said no, just leave it alone. I countered that by the time she returned, she would no longer want this cookie and would probably throw it out. It would be a total waste, and why not circumvent that villainous process by taking matters into my own hands. They said nope, still weird. I asked why “weird”? They said you just don’t take things that aren’t yours without asking. Now I got that. That made sense. At the same time, it made less sense if the alternative was seeing this baked biscuit get trashed unnecessarily? What good would propriety do us in the face of our own eventual extinction. I mean, what are we but future worm food? Shouldn’t we all rally against life’s transitory nature and rage against the dying of the light?

They said still no. How would I like it if someone just took my stuff? Like the coffee I so ritualistically grind each day? I replied that I’d love to share my coffee and offer regularly, but nobody takes me up on it. They said what if someone took it without asking? I said if the choice was between my coffee going off unnecessarily, or that ending up in the hands of someone who could use it in time, I’d rather they had it. Still, they relented. I shouldn’t be taking people’s stuff. I agreed on one level, but on another more personal level I wanted the cookie. Who’s to say what the right thing to do in this context was.

I asked my co-worker today about this conundrum. I told her our arguments and asked her opinion. She said that it probably would’ve been fine to take it, but also it may have been weird for it to randomly disappear. She said she happily would’ve given it to me if I’d asked, and would’ve rather it got eaten than have it spoil. It was still sitting there next to her, half wrapped. She poked it and said it’d long gone hard, and was no longer good. I told her I liked hard cookies, and asked her if I could have it. She said yes, and it was yummy.

So I’m not entirely sure whether being wrong or right truly matters in the end if you’re good at asking for what you want.

A capital O kay

One more holiday down.

Ottawa was, fine, I dunno. It was weird coming from Toronto, carrying a bunch of expectations with me. I was looking forward to vibrant neighbourhoods and cool little spots to stop into. Ottawa was ostensibly a city, but didn’t really transcend the town vibe I assumed from the start. I think I could’ve done a ton more research and salvaged some neat, enriching experiences and local eateries/cafes/bars. Overall it was just kinda, dull, maybe? It was awesome that my girlfriend could have the experience of going through her old stomping ground, but that was mostly it. I think it got tricky for her to recommend spots because, well, she wasn’t in this stage of her life when she lived here. Ottawa existed in her teen years, and what a teen seeks from somewhere is vastly different to that of an adult. Could Ottawa be done in such a way that it’s a total blast? I’m sure it can. I didn’t have that experience, and I’m not certain I’ll aim to visit again any time soon. There are other places higher on my hit list.

It’s tricky, because I still haven’t worked out how to introduce tourist friends to the Toronto I love. In my head, Toronto lives and dies by its neighbourhoods. There’s so much local flavour, so many diverse restaurants and cuisines, interesting independent businesses and cool as shit bars. Whenever I’ve brought people through they’re like “yeah, Toronto’s fine” and I wonder what I’ve missed showing them. There’s a minor realisation that I think often comes back, in knowing that the Toronto I reside in has less about just the stuff within reach, but the ways in which I access all of it. My Toronto is less about the physical locations, and more about the spaces carved out by community. Local themed dance parties, burner aligned groups throwing fun events, weird cinema shit and retrospectives, the comedy scene, sex positive stuff, storytelling, arts and culture. It’s not like I even spend my time here going out to restaraunts and bars. I do that sparingly. My Toronto is made by what people DO with the Toronto that’s there. It’s about the opportunities provided by the wealth of shit going on, not just that there are spots that do that shit. If I were to bring someone through Toronto on any old weekend, would they find it dull? I’m sure some of them have.

I think it’s also tricky as always to holiday with partners. My girlfriend and I obviously love each other deeply (or else that’d be a waste of five years), but that doesn’t mean we spend every moment together. We normally hang out between stuff, or once every few nights. It’s rare that we have a solid couple of days in each others’ presence. We have very different ways of doing things that don’t always gel, and like I’m sure every other couple, there are tensions. Ours are pretty minor, and I’m thankful we do a good job of treating each other with patience. Still, that doesn’t mean we always want to do the same shit when we travel. So we compromise and try to work out how to split the difference. I’m not sure what we were trying to get out of this trip. The wedding was the biggest part, and that was a profusely enjoyable experience. It’s a huge boon being able to travel somewhere without having to shell out for an extra internet package, and even the public transit was on the same system. At the same time, Ottawa may not have been culturally different enough to make it worth picking up souvenirs. Like, what specific Ottawa experiences did we need to have that wouldn’t be easily replicated elsewhere? I’m not sure, otherwise I maybe would’a done it. As with most holidays, we’re on our way home and I’m kind of ready for it. I saw some stuff, ate a ton and I just want to get my regular poop schedule back in order. I had a lot of bread, which is anything but regular.

So yeah, I’m going home, but I’m already back on my bullshit.

Black and green was a ballsy choice

What a wonderful wedding. I want to make a mental note not to overuse the word “wonderful” in this entry. I could go rampant with it unless I rein in those impulses. I mean, it was, but I’ve gotta think of different words. I’m ostensibly a writer, so it’s time to visit synonym city.

Spoilers, the wedding went off with only a single hitch: The happy couple. It was a top to bottom heartfelt and good-humoured occasion. But I almost didn’t get there on time. I’d been doing all my prep. I had my own day where I walked around looking at stuff, eating things and chatting with people on the street to get their suggestions. It was exceedingly swell. I got back in the early afternoon for wedding prep, and spent most of my time eating Berlin style street food, knocking back a cold brew and watching Magic the Gathering drafts on YouTube. I’d smartly decided to wear a black shirt and dark green suit to a summer wedding. Bright fucking idea there, dingus. I was sweating before I left the apartment. I mean, geez, I was sweating when garbed in only socks, knee brace and underwear, alternating between the humid bedroom where all my clothes lived, and the lounge with its AC unit. I was all prepped, and made my way early down to the bus stop, to catch the first of two connections. I waited. The bus didn’t show. I checked my app, it was still coming, then it just disappeared. Fuck. I had a connection to make, in order to get out to some shopping centre in the middle of nowhere and meet the groom’s dad, to get a ride to the even more out there venue. I looked at my app to see when the connecting bus was coming. 6 minutes, then 36 minutes. If I got the second, I’d miss my ride. Google said it was a 15 minute walk. I took my jacket in my hand and fucking BOLTED. I ran the whole way, cursing and stressing and sweating. I got stuck at a traffic light, and saw numerous buses go past on the street where I had to catch mine. Fuck. Fuckety shit. The lights went green and I picked up speed. I arrived at the right street, only to see the bus at the corner about to leave. I did a quick check for oncoming traffic, then gave a metaphorical middle finger to the concept of illegal Jay Walking. I ran for the bus, and got on just before it left. I sat down and soaked in sweat, relieved, but still residually stressed. I made it to the wedding, y’all.

The wedding was splendid, and immaculately planned. We stood around and chatted, then took our seats for the ceremony. Everything felt immensely personal for this couple I barely knew. It was lovely to see how they’d weaved their personalities into every inch of the proceedings. The celebrant was dressed as Elrond (from Lord of the Rings), there were readings from sci fi texts and poems. The vows were realistic and actionable. It really was lovely. We were ushered into the next room for pre-dinner drinks, and I tossed back a few white wines. The meal was delectable. A lot of attention had obviously been paid to the menu. Almost our entire table had the bison, with a gorgeously rich gravy, heirloom carrots, asparagus, roasted capsicum and a substantial portion of risotto. Fucking yum, with a pleasing range of textures and tastes.

As a virtual stranger, it was interesting navigating a space with so many earned connections. I was the only one at the table who didn’t know everyone else. I had to read the room a little, but it was a fun crowd, conversation came easily. I found the many speeches immensely helpful, ’cause they made the bridegroom into well-rounded 3D people in my eyes. I understood who they were to their friends and family, and really got to know a ton more about them. You know how people say you find depth in someone at their funeral, it was sorta like that, but an affirmation of life. It was very clear from all the speeches just how beloved and kind these two were. Thoroughly touching, and it spoke to the company they kept. I didn’t see one iota of douchebaggery, just warm interactions all night long. As a weird aside, since I started taking anti-depressants back in February, I haven’t been able to cry. I just can’t access that emotional space. The groom’s mother’s speech though? Egads I was on the cusp of it. Then post speeches we hustled into the next room for hours of Big Dad Energy dancing. Cheesy pop sing-a-longs and 90s techno galore. Most of all, it was a total rush seeing my girlfriend get to spend time with the people who defined her teenage years. Some of her closest friends, and most formative people, all celebrating what they’d built together.

In a word, it was wonderful.

Given the venue, this could be a bait and switch for a high class weeding

WEDDING DAY. IT’S PREP TIME. Almost.

My girlfriend left at some unearthly hour. I woke at 8.30am to find the metaphorical equivalent of a curtain blowing in the wind. She was outta there, a breakfast bowl sitting on the kitchen counter, hairbrush lying dormant in the lounge, bags open, but most of all an unusual stillness. She’s getting her hair did with the wedding party. I, on the other hand, don’t have to go anywhere until around 3pm. So yes, it’s prep time, but strewn between my own fun activities. Funtivities, if you will.

I don’t have a ton to do, even. I polished my shoes before we came. My suit is hanging in the closet. With my total disdain for ironing, I pulled the coatrack from the front door and plonked it in the bathroom. I took my mildly wrinkled shirt from the closet and put it on said coat rack, then turned the shower up to max and closed the door. I left it on for about 10 minutes, hoping that the steam will do my ironing for me. It’s 9am, it’ll have all day to dry and straighten out. Who do I think I’m kidding though? I was dumb enough to buy a long sleeved black shirt for a summer wedding, and I’m gonna sweat all the way through that to the suit. Ironing probably does matter when I’m gonna be a portable swamp. It’s a nice shirt though, I like it.

Getting to the wedding is probably the biggest obstacle. We checked the venue out yesterday and it’s lovely, but very out of the way. I don’t have a car, an Uber is upwards of $40, and it’s not accessible by public transit. I’m lucky enough for the father of the groom to be giving me a ride from some shopping centre (that’s still an hour’s travel away). So I’ll be walking in the 25 or so degree heat, garbed in full suit (no tie) for 15 minutes to get to a bus that gets me to the shopping centre to then get a ride. One day I’ll maybe get to a point of fiscal comfort where a $40 Uber ride is not a big deal, but chances are Uber will no longer exist by then. I expect to be a sweaty mess all day long, especially considering the venue is basically a greenhouse. Don’t worry, they have Big Ass Fans installed. No, really, the brand is literally called Big Ass Fans (which is great for me, because much like the beknighted Sir Mix-a-lot I’m also a fan of big asses).

I’m expecting an awesome day. The couple are super nice, and all the groomal party are friendly as fuck. I know the menu kicks ass, because we got to pick our meals in advance. It was long enough ago that I’ve forgotten, but I trust past me’s tastes. My girlfriend has been working hard on her speech, and she’s gonna kill it. I’m one of the weird few who genuinely really enjoys the speechifying part of weddings. Hell, I love weddings in general, ’cause it’s hard to find too many people in shitty moods. I get to meet soon to be former strangers while they’re buzzing with positivity (and probably a glass of bubbly or two). There’s a 600+ song playlist, so likely a few dancefloor bangers in there. I get to be friendly and charming in an environment where there’s sure to be little to no douchebag quotient.

Even better, I get to have my own day of adventure before any of that. LET’S GET TO IT.

Did you know that for them to be called Gargoyles, they need open mouths? Otherwise they’re called Grotesques

I’m seated at a rickety table on a ramshackle deck. There’s an angle to this thing. Well, these things. The table is warped, my keyboard bouncing up and down on its bowed slats. The deck has, shall we say, a gradient. It’s all topsy turvy, but I’m finding equilibrim.

I’m not exactly saying that eating so much bread has fucked my shit up in a big way, but egads the yeast I’ve consumed is considerable. Of course, I’ve got a glass of hoegaarden to my right, so it’s not like I’m helping myself either. I’m on holiday, and what’s vacation for if not filling one’s body with an unwise quantity of wheat? Backtracking from the lunchtime burger, complete with candied, kimchi flavoured bacon and wasabi mayo (which was all delicious, and flanking a fist sized beef patty), I had a simple bacon and egg breakfast sandwich at the Happy Goat cafe. And of course, last night I downed a Californian Club at the Elgin Diner, subbing my fries for onion rings. The sandwich was filled with meat, jack cheese, avocado and tomato. Basically a BLTC++ on rye. It was A+ for me. The onion rings were colossal, and battered to the max. It felt like I was eating shaped batter with a side of slivered onions. Typical diner fair, especially with my girlfriend and I sharing a creamsicle milkshake. It’s been all about the food, as is any holiday. I just want to gorge myself without worrying too much about what I’m taking in.

Here’s the thing though, despite how it sounds, I think I’m starting to make Better Choices. I’ve been trying to think about water consumption, trying to stay hydrated as best I can. We have a wedding tomorrow, and there’s gonna be a ton of food. Whereas in younger years I’d probably be going all out, packing in the drinks and staying out to all hours of the morning, I’ve been having maybe a beer. I want a quiet night in so we can relax and take tomorrow at full speed. Hell, I may even eat a vegetable tomorrow. Turn over a new leaf, be it kale or mesculin. I haven’t felt stressed about fitting everything in, I’ve been pretty relaxed and content to take it all in as it comes. This isn’t a holiday about maximising experiences. It’s about getting to the wedding (of which my girlfriend is in the “groomal” party), having a great time there, then maybe looking around the city a little once it’s all over. Find the bohemian spots, have a fancy coffee or two. Chilled, like the creamsicle milkshake we so readily devoured last night. Sheesh though, after a long hot day this hoegaarden is going down smoothly.

I’ve had this dumb idea for so long that I can’t get out of my head. I KNOW that Ottawa is a city, but it still seems like a town to me. We’re right by the city centre, perhaps 15-20 minutes’ walk from Parliament Hill. There are some high rises, but they’re not THAT high. I know the population here is over a million, but that hasn’t been made apparent to me yet. Things seem very quiet in comparison to Toronto or even my hometown Auckland. I’m judging purely from what I’ve seen so far, but Ottawa seems kinda slow. The past day has done nothing to disprove my obviously wrong idea of Ottawa. We’ll fix that. I’ve been here for barely 24 hours and have yet to really see much of living, breathing Ottawa. I wouldn’t expect to “get” it by now. I’m excited to see what the different areas are like. To check out spots where locals go, as opposed to the more franchise-esque places that are in the downtown core. I mean, if I solely checked out the Toronto CBD, I wouldn’t have favourable things to say about the city, y’know?

So wait, what am I doing here writing on a rickety table? There are sights out there to see.

I’m imprisoned by my own dilemma, thank you very much

I’m significantly high right now. Like, REAL high. So high I’m soaring above the clouds en route to Ottawa. I’ve had an irritating day at work and I haven’t been able to let go of it yet, despite now being on holiday. Consequently I’ve resolved to write nothing of significance in this entry. Here be dragons, etc.

Does anyone else find the phrase “come one, come all” to be linguistically bizarre? Like, neither parts of that sentence stand on their own. You don’t say “hey you, come one”. Neither do you look at a group and say “yoose folks, come all to my attraction.” Yoda might, but he clearly missed his calling in the tourism industry. But together, it works. Maybe because we’ve gotten used to PT Barnham and similar charlatans telling us to check out their circuses. Technically it makes sense, but it’s also sorta clunky sonding, and gramatically I’m not sure where it sits.

It’s different, but kind of reminds me of this thing in linguistics one of my exes told me about called “cranberry morphemes”. They’re words that are composed partially of a word that stands on its own, and another word that doesn’t exist independently of the pre-existing word. So like, “cranberry”. Berry is a word, cran is not. There aren’t wild “crans” running around, but without them you wouldn’t have cranberries. I was thinking today that “walnut” must be a cranberry morpheme, because a “wal” is not a thing, as far as I know. I don’t know enough about these morpheme thingies to understand what happens if the “cran” part turns out to be a real, but unrelated, word. What if “cran” turned out to have a totally different meaning like ‘a V-shaped pipe used as a conduit between two sinks?’ Would it still be a cranberry morpheme, because “cran” in that way had nothing to do with the meaning of “cranberry”? Or if “cran” became a neologism? Like suddenly people started calling a V-shaped pipe used as a conduit between two sinks a “cran”? Would cranberry no longer be a cranberry morpheme? I have zero idea. I’m not educated about linguistics, and I’m currently on board a flight with my phone on flight mode. No internet. I could stand up and yell “IS THERE A LINGUIST ON THE FLIGHT?”, but I feel like I might come back with diminishing returns. So we’ll just have to continue wondering.

I’m not entirely sure why, but I still get into an internal “fuck you” mood when I see people on flights with devices not on flight mode. Say that announcement comes on where they’re all “please turn your transmission shit off, we’re on a plane for fuck’s sake”, and the person stays on snapchat. It makes me silently fume, and I don’t know why. Obviously a couple of people on phones is not gonna make a plane crash, otherwise they’d require cellphones to be turned off and checked in with baggage. I highly doubt that a plane full of people with active cellphones could crash a plane, otherwise, again, they wouldn’t let people have them. So why do I give so many shits when people flaunt the rules? Is it because I’m following them, and others ignoring them feels unfair? Like, I could be reading shitty, racist ice cold takes on Twitter, or visiting hatsofmeat.com. But I’m not, I’m being a good good boy, and others are trying to make me rot away in a cell like some kind of prisoner’s dilemma. Ugh, I just know I’d get taken advantage of in most every Prisoner’s Dilemma iteration. I just don’t have it in me to let someone down like that. I’m almost certain the other person would fold and dob me in, because I’m a sucker who’s too concerned with being considerate as much as possible. I mean, chances are I’d make friends with the guards and eventually get out for good behaviour, but still. I could be doing better things with my life. Like getting off this goddamn plane and eating something delicious.

Well, we’re going down now. It’s been a pretty descent flight.

Hudson’s Bay-ment

I hate shirt shopping. Always and forever.

I guess for some context we have to go back a day. My girlfriend and I were smoking on the porch and saw a Canadian Tire catalogue in our mail. Something caught my eye. A rolling chilly bin for $40 down from $99. Last year I borrowed one from a friend to go camping, and it really elevated my summer. It was study as hell, it had cupholders, the handle was like that trundler baggage you take on planes. It could even be used as a seat (which I’m doing presently). This one in the flyer was pretty much identical. It even held 84 cans, which as ever is my foremost metric of volume. So today I braved The Eaton Centre and looked for one. The sale was not on. I foolishly bamboozled myself into visiting before the sale had even started. I talked to a sales rep and told him my plight. He said he’d look up all the Canadian Tire stores and see if anyone had put the price down early. If so, he said, they’d be able to price match it down. It worked! I got my $40 chilly bin and quickly tossed all my stuff in there (which I estimate was around 30 cans worth). Great success!

This weekend I’m going to a wedding. I saw some cheap shirts at Hudson’s Bay the other day (before accidentally getting locked in the store), but didn’t have the time to truly look through their selection (hence accidentally getting locked in the store). My goal for today was to find a shirt I liked without getting locked in the store. Simple, right? It gets more difficult. I have a dark, dark green suit. It’s flashy and novel. I got it at a warehouse sale, and I love it. However, I wanted a flashy new shirt to wear with it for this wedding. I had these bold ideas of finding an interesting colour match. Maybe a lavender, or something on the yellow spectrum. The suit’s a very specific shade, which makes colour matching very specific. I also don’t know shit about colour matching. I pulled up a bunch of colour wheels, colour match generators and whatnot, and they weren’t helping. Or rather, they weren’t giving me the answers I wanted. They kept suggesting dark stuff, and I wanted something lighter for a Summer wedding.
With clunky chilly bin in tow, I roped one of the sales reps into helping me. He wasn’t having an easy time either. He mentioned looking up the colour on Pinterest, but still was a little unsure. At the very least, he gave me my measurements, which helped a bunch. 15 32-33, apparently, if you were looking to identity theft me or something. We looked for a while, but both of us didn’t have much of an idea. I’m hard to shop with, because I have vague ideas until I see what I want, then I know it. He tried helping for maybe 40 minutes, but we were getting nowhere, all the while I was dragging this fucking chilly bin around and banging into the displays like a fucking muppet.

So many sales, and nothing fit the bill. I was frustrated and walked around, looking for inspiration. I walked into the designer department and found a fashionable looking dude. I asked for his help. He was like “oh, that’s easy. Dark colours like purple or black, or soft neutrals. Lighter greens, whites, greys, etc.” I went back to the dress shirt section with renewed vigor, and felt almost immediately disheartened in not finding exactly what I wanted. I felt my dreams dying one by one. What if I dropped some of my standards. It didn’t have to be light, I could do without short sleeves. Did I even own a black shirt anymore? I found the guy from earlier. “Sorry for this, but what if we just found something black?” He pointed straight to a shirt on the wall. Slim fit, non iron, good cut. I said sure, and he took me to the changing room. Upon donning it, I realised it was identical to the white shirt I have at home. Simple, I knew I liked it and it fit well. It wasn’t summery, but it would go with most anything. I’d get use out of it. It was not on sale, and I was too tired to care. So to the tune of almost $70, I walked out of there with something new.

Shirt shopping. Bin there, done that.

I hope you have a fucking great time, sincerely

Fair warning, I’m gonna talk about some sexy type stuff today. If that’s not your thing, enjoy the rest of the internet until tomorrow. ‘Cause it’s not like there’s anything sexy on there, right?

I haven’t talked about sex in a long time. Why? I’m not entirely sure. It might be that my parents sometimes read, and gosh forbid they know I’m making whoopee. Really though, that’s not it. Am I afraid of tarnishing my image as an irreverent little scamp who makes puns and talks incessantly about 90s pop culture? Not quite. Am I too busy clutching my pearls to type the word “orgasm”. I’m not. Am I constantly scrambling for topics to write about day by day? I am. This however, is not an act of desparation. I had a couple of chats over the weekend, and I feel like I’ve got some stuff that’s worth hearing for some people.

Sex is weird. People are weird, therefore bringing multiple people together to simulate making more people is exponentially weirder. Also sex is tied up in so many bullshit social morasses that it gets tricky to keep your head above the mire. The muck is fine, sex can be wonderfully dirty, and that’s can be great. Not here to yuck anybody’s yums.

I’d wager that socialisation plays into how we feel about sex a lot more than we may think. Sure, the media and advertising shapes a huge amount of our views as to what we find sexy, ways to have sex and what good/bad sex looks like. My guess is it goes a lot further than that. I can’t speak to womens’ experience, but it seems like there’s a gratuitous amount of pressure placed upon image. Hell, I’m listening to a podcast right now where Allie Ward talks to an expert on Beauty Standards (the study of which is called Kalology, apparently). The ins and outs of it are more than a litte absurd, and I’m sure all women know intimately more about the struggle than I do. I’m not here to talk for them. It’s not like men are entirely exempt, and I’m sure Marvel Studios have done wonders in making men feel inadequate too (remember the surprisingly buff Chris Pratt workout pic?). Equality, this is what we’re shooting for, right?

Look at me, vamping like a food blog. What I want to talk about today is partnered orgasm pressure from a male perspective, and how it’s letting us down. Because I don’t think us men talk about it enough. This is also probably gonna be a very het-oriented view. I apologise.

As men we’re often told that our sexual prowess is one of the many things that defines our masculinity. We’re supposed to be virile, dominant, borderline animalistic. Raging horndogs with big ol’ dongs. That’s male sexuality, apparently. If you’re a good partner you fuck good, your partner’s eyes roll back into their head, they cum buckets with ten orgasms, and your sperm is so mighty that your partner instantly has quadruplets. That’s the manly thing to do.

Unsurprisingly, this creates a ton of pressure. Here’s the thing about arousal, it’s all mental. If you’re all stressed about having to be a certain something in the bedroom, there’s a high chance that will affect performance. It’s tricky to get it up and keep it up when you’re anxious about whether you’ll be able to get hard enough. Or if you’ll be able to sustain it. Or if she’ll enjoy it. Or like, what if your dick is weird? Or too small? Or you don’t feel dominant and animalistic? GOOD LUCK, BUDDY.

I’m gonna take the charitable assumption, and guess that whoever I’m talking to wants their partner to have a good time. That most want congress to be a mutually fulfilling, satisfying and pleasurable jaunt. So I’m gonna share something I heard a while back that helped shift my perception.

NOBODY HAS EVER GIVEN ANYBODY AN ORGASM.

It was from famed sex educator and porn star extraordinaire Nina Hartley. She said that orgasms aren’t given, they’re facilitated. You can be the sexiest goddamn entity in the world, you can be physically doing everything you can, you can tap into all your partner’s favourite sensual triggers, and they can still not orgasm. It’s because you’re not making them orgasm, they are.

Remember when I was saying arousal was mental? No matter what you do, if your partner can’t bring themselves to a place where they can let go and access their orgasm, it ain’t comin’. It’s not necessarily because of what you’ve done or haven’t done, but sometimes it’s out of reach for all of us. It happens. Releasing to the point of orgasm isn’t always accessible, and neither does it define the experience. I’ve had many bouts of amazing sex that haven’t resulted in an orgasms, both for myself and/or partners. That hasn’t stopped it from being amazing sex.

Take from it what you will, but the important nugget that I took from this lesson was to get ego the fuck out of there. It’s not about you. The be all and end all is how you can help your partner access a place where they can let go. Any concept of virility or value tied to an ablity to “induce” orgasms is fucked up and unhelpful. Get that shit out of there.

Make your partner comfortable. Ask them what they want. Your “job” is to help them have the experience they’re looking for. They’re connected to their own nerve endings, chances are they have an idea of what makes them feel good. Do you have go to techniques that “always work”? There is no “right” way to do things. Everyone is different. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily apply across the board. Listen to your partner, look for body language and try to interpret what that means. If you don’t know, ask. The socialised notion that we should all “just know” is super fucking harmful, and likely holds so many of us back from more fulfilling experiences. If you’re gonna ruin the moment by showing genuine interest, maybe you both could do better with different people.

If they have an orgasm? Great. If they have ten? Great. If they have an excellent time? That’s what we’re looking for. If we’re all enjoying sex, maybe we won’t be so scared of whether or not it’s happening the “right way”.

Block-busted. Little Leon Lays down the Law

Children are not the most discerning viewers.

I mean, most viewers are not the most discerning viewers, kids even less so. I remember as a child, being part of a discussion about the Fair Go ad awards with my family. Okay, let’s step back a sec. Fair Go was a TV show about consumer rights, etc. They’d also run annual awards for creative advertising. NZ has always done an excellent job with clever ads, and I’d eerily patriotic about it. So I was a child, and The Adults Were Talking. I heard what they said, then impulsively barged in.

“I think the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers toy ad should win. It’s a toy ad and they show all the toys. The toys look really fun, so it’s a good ad.” I was wrong, perhaps because my metrics were off. At least I gave it some thought.

Like I said, not so discerning. It’s probably why shitty kids movies made to push toys continue to exist. Their audience laps them up without complaining, and it puts adult bums in seats. Then, of course, the real money comes from the toys being sold. Ugly Dolls, Transformers, Trolls 1 and or 2. Plus ça change, eh? That said, here are some movies I thought were shit, even as a non-discerning kid:

Super Mario Bros (1993)

Look, a bunch of these are likely to be video game adaptations. The medium has suffered shitty storytelling, contrived plots and low level talent for years. Sure, gaming is a massive industry now, but in the 90s it wasn’t such an all-encompassing entertainment juggernaut. Super Mario Bros was a big deal. It was the game that people thought of when they heard the words Video Game. The movie, however, was a total fucking shitshow. A bizarre plot where Earth was suffering a planetary overlay from some dinosaur planet. All of the game’s goofy/cute looking monsters were retconned into dinosaurs. Even Yoshi, who may well be a dinosaur already, didn’t fair so well. Look how they massacred my boy.

This film actually had talent involved, but even as a kid I could see the lack of coherence. It just made no fucking sense. And why were goombas so fucking creepy? Did Bob Hoskins actually know what he’d signed up for? Looks like maybe not. I watched it again a few years ago, and may have developed an ironic soft spot that was beyond me at an age where I didn’t know what irony was. Have some drinks and watch, but please leave your expectations behind. Super, it ain’t.

Street Fighter (1994)

As a precocious little seven year old, I guess I was finding my pretention too. This movie was yet another shitshow. Once again, they massacred my boy. Why was US Colonel Guile played by renown non-American, Jean Claude Van Damme? Why did esteemed actor Raul Julia waste his final performance on this piece of arse? I’m not the first to wonder. I hated it, but didn’t know why. I was so thirsty for video game film content that I tried to watch it many many times to see what went wrong. I just kept finding more things. Where were the Hadoukens? Sonic Booms? Shoryukens? Why wouldn’t they just do something awesome and animated (they did. It was awesome. Here’s the entire thing on Youtube)?

Wild Wild West (1999)

This one’s fresh, ’cause I just went to a screening with live commentary by local Toronto drag queen Allysin Chaynes. It was a blast. As a child though, it was a rough movie to watch. Why were all the characters so patently unlikeble? How could a giant mechanical spider be boring? Why was the movie significantly less exciting than the audacious and oftentimes riotous full seven and a half minute music video? Will Smith throws his hat across the room to himself in a full white suit. It’s badass. I think I may even still like the song, especially Neil Cicierega’s brilliant rearrangement. I thought this film was gonna be super cool, and instead it was kinda boring, the jokes didn’t really land. It was a slog.

I watched last night after a bunch of drinks and, egads. It’s fucking terrible. Not only does the script suck, but the characters do too. Salma Hayek is reduced to an accent, pair of boobs and a role as a plot device. The script has an unforgivable amount of racist and ableist jokes. It’s altogether many kinds of hateful. So many non-plot literal devices (it’s steampunk all over) serve no real purpose in the plot. And of course, Smith turned down the role of Neo in The Matrix to play Jim West, which is always notable.

Look, I’m no prodigy. I watched my unfair share of terrible movies. These are just some of the few instances where I realised it.