Am I Billy Corgan? ‘Cause I’m practicing my future embrace

I think I over-coffee’d. Let’s go.

I’ve been wondering lately about the state of this here writing project. It often feels like something I’m compelled to do through obligation, rather than desire. I don’t sit down to the keyboard with a brain full of ideas that scream out for a canvas, I sit down with the hopes that something will be on this page once 30 minutes are up. It was one thing when I was working my old job, desperate for a scrap of creativity in my life. I’d get to the end of the day, and process my feelings on the page. My frustration, anger, stress, angst, and angostura bitterness. Also bizarre observations. For some time I’ve been possessed by this reckless need for an outlet to all the murk that’s been clogging up my brain. These days, there’s a lot less of it.

I don’t know if it’s just that happiness doesn’t sell, but it’s like I don’t know what happened to all my complaints. In general, I’m quite okay these days. My work now encourages the kind of creativity I craved, and at the end of a workday I find myself having spent most of it on the job. I feel dried up and satisfied, instead of having kept it all crammed in. I’ve found it harder to access the font of imagination I accessed out of necessity, because I’m now able to channel that into something I care about. What am I saying?

I’m saying nothing new, effectively. As ever, I wonder how long this project will go for. I’ve long just assumed it’s indefinite. For many years, I needed it to function better. It helped as a form of self-therapy, and let me work through a bunch of stuff. Of course it was mostly nonsense, as it is now. It’s not like becoming happy helped me transition from a goofy rascal to an upstanding citizen. I’m still on my bullshit big time, it just smells different. Not better, different. The idea of putting an end to I Have My Doubts is old as time, if we’re talking the past six years that is. I don’t know if I’ll ever pull that trigger, but I think it’s okay to constantly check in with behaviours and whether or not they contribute meaning to your life.

As it stands, I think I’ve written straight up garbage for the past few months. Really. The idea of a struggling artist is tired and worn out, but I certainly think my content was more interesting when I had more conflict in my life. I’m not being self-deprecating, and I’ll freely acknowledge when I’ve put something to paper I’m proud of. I know that the best stuff I tend to put together comes when I’m feeling sincere, heartfelt and vulnerable. Nostalgia, pain and romance seem to be my M.O. I don’t know how much of that I’ve been going through lately. I’ve been having a genuinely nice time, and my work/life balance has allowed me to feel less hectic. I’ve slowed my roll, and it’s siphoned off some of the steam that pushed me. Look, I’m not complaining that I’m happy and more even keeled, it just hasn’t translated into great writing.

This post is another in a long line of check-ins that effectively say the same thing. I don’t know whether or not this is forever. It’s important to think about what this project is for. Am I writing content for others? Or sifting through my brain, and getting thoughts in order? The answer can be both, but I don’t know that it always is. I think that’s okay, and that I don’t need to have a concrete answer. For the time being, this page is the best way to work out if I’m still alive, and I think that’s as good a reason as any to keep going. It keeps me accountable. I’m sure that every now and again I’ll be able to look back and see where I was. That seems like a gift to future me, and I’m here for it now.

That’s enough for me.

Did you know you’re supposed to wear bum bags backwards?

Work Halloween party in an hour and a half, and I still haven’t figured out my costume.

To be clear, I know what I’m going to wear, I just haven’t figured out what I’m gonna call it. I want to wear my lion onesie, because it’s comfortable and doesn’t require any planning. That’s fine, and the only issue really is that that it has no pockets. I need pockets, because I’ll want my scan card to get in and out of the party. I have a bum bag/fanny pack, which works great for the pockets dilemma, but it doesn’t do wonders for the costume. So if I’m gonna have the bum bag and also retain a modicum of decorum at a costumed event, I’ll need to justify it somehow. Unless…

I’ve definitely told the story here before, but I used to have a friend back home with one particular costume for parties. A taco. She didn’t even own the costume, she just loved it. Her friend worked at a costume rental place. My friend borrowed the taco costume so often that eventually she started getting it practically for free. She’d go to parties as a taco, any parties. Halloween? Taco. Themed parties? Taco. I had a Comicon themed leaving party from NZ, and you can bet your arse she dressed as a taco. It was a fun bit, but it got better. Every time she’d show up at a party, she’d meet new people who didn’t get it. They had no idea that she was some form of wonderful sociopath dressing to her own theme no matter what was on offer. So they’d start making offers. “Oh, are you the character Taco from The League?” Whatever they’d suggest, she’d be like “oh, you totally got it. Good job”. Then if someone else came up with another suggestion, same thing. Everyone thought they were so astute for guessing, and she didn’t have to justify a thing. It was great.

I wonder if I could take the same tack at this work party. Just wear what I want to wear, and put the onus on others to let me know what I am. I know I’ve got a twisty turny brain that’ll contort itself to come up with concepts. If I saw someone wearing a fanny pack and lion costume I’d be like “ooooh, are you Muff-asa?” Maybe not safe for work, but my brain sure isn’t. I can leave the job of figuring out my costume to others, and just have a good time. I can make people feel great for ‘guessing correctly’, and if someone comes up with a really good one, I can take it for myself. No stress whatsoever, and I’ll be comfy as a bean in a burrito.

Or just like, make a cardboard crown and go as The Lion King.

Is, was and always will be

The Addams Family has aged well.

It’s a really sweet family movie about a group of oddballs who love each other a bunch. Sure, the kids perform actual torture on one another, but it’s all just harmless fun. Gomez and Morticia’s relationship is wonderful, and immensely healthy. They support and respect one another utterly. They’re passionately in love, and the passion is evident in their love life. The whole family openly show their adoration, and they have a ton of fun together. They’re buoyed by family money, so nobody has to work. As a result, they live in a bubble where they just get to do what they want. It’s low stress, and their lives seem to be scored by MC Hammer. What more could you want? It’s flagrantly silly, and immensely watchable. If you’re doing any kind of Halloween film catch ups, add it to your list.

Okay, now some errant stuff that’s in my head:

That’s about all that’s in my head right now. I’m on the third day of a four day stretch. My mind is unravelling. I think my girlfriend and I are gonna try for a double feature at some cinema today. The good films from TIFF are finally getting released. It’d be amazing to see Jojo Rabbit, and if we could round out the evening with Parasite, that’d kill most any reason I’d need to revisit the movies for the next month or so. Then again, Knives Out isn’t far off, and that’s supposed to be a riot. I’m vaguely tempted to see Joker if I can get it on a double feature, primarily because I want to understand that whole “ringing of the death bells” bit on Twitter. If I don’t, I’ll just catch it streaming sometime.

Here’s something I thought was really neat. Every year around this time, The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn does a show called “Schtick or Treat”. Up and coming comics do sets as more famous comics. The link I shamelessly put at the start of the paragraph instead of somewhere more intuitive like here, has one of these sets. It’s a perfect set. Comedian Jeremy Kaplowitz does a set as 90s 38 year old Jerry Seinfeld doing bits about his 17 year old girlfriend. It’s a great way to highlight how the rich and successful get to sidestep societal norms without consequence. The impression is spot on, both vocally and stylistically. I’m sure it won’t really affect Seinfeld himself, but it does ground just how creepy the whole relationship was by trying to present it in an unremarkable fashion. Seinfeld seems to get a pass on a lot of stuff just because he’s beloved, and it’s kinda weird that he’s repeatedly enabled. I think it’s well worth watching.

And Zendaya is Meechee.

An endless cycle, and I want mine back

My body is breaking down.

Or at least, that’s what being 32 feels like. Since my work/life schedule shifted, it’s been harder and harder to stay consistent with fitness. I’m not complaining, things are great now, but that doesn’t mean everything has become easier. For me, so much of my sweat based activity has revolved around habit. It makes sense. If fitness is bundled in with obligatory stuff, it’s less imposing. When something’s hard enough to do on its own, coupling that with extra obstacles has an exponential effect. One of the gyms I frequent has had a broken upwards escalator for months. Do you know how difficult it is to hoist yourself up that escalator on a good day? When it’s broken, you almost feel like turning around, satisfied with a good workout by the time you reach the top. Maybe enter the gym for a shower, at least.

It was so much easier when I tacked the gym onto the end of a workday. Great way to shake loose the day’s frustrations. With a five day work week, it was simpler to maintain a one day on, one day off schedule. It’s four days on, four days off now. I know it sounds like it’d be a breeze fitting a one hour workout into an entire day off, but that’s not the case. If you have no reason to leave the house, going somewhere to lift heavy things isn’t a stellar motivator. Also my bike is out of commission, so I have to pay $6 in transit to get there and back. Disincentive.

Look, excuses are the easiest things to find in the world, and I’ve found the most success when I’ve minimised my ability to make them. Having a bike means I can accrue incidental activity. It’s only been a recent addition to my life, but I’m glad to have finally joined the cult of cyclists. It makes trips into mini adventures, instead of passively riding transit. Bundling gym stuff with other errands makes it feel worthwhile, and lowers the barrier to entry. Today, for instance, I’ve bribed myself into doing a yoga style class. It’s in the vicinity of the fruit and veggie shop where I get my apples, and I’m gonna buy a ton. It’s small, but if it gets me there, it’s worth it.

Something that’s been brought to light for me recently, is how important it is to have goals with fitness. My always and forever goal has been to feel good in and about my body. If I’m feeling fit, it’s straight up easier to navigate life. I have more capacity for activity, and it makes it easier to quash excuses. I have more pep in my step, and those steps take me further. If I’m well stretched and limber, living is less of an encumbrance. I don’t ache when performing small tasks, and it greatly lifts my quality of life. If I feel good about my body, it improves my attitude. I’m happier in general, and my mental health gets to take a break. I’m not getting stressed by looking into mirrors and finding negativity. In general, being active makes my day to day better.

However, I’d been mostly pretty pleased with this stuff lately. Maintenance is a positive place to be, but it’s kinda piss poor as a motivational tool. I don’t have things to strive for, and it’s turned down the fire under my feet that’s historically pushed me out the door. What this means, is that I’ve had a harder time getting there. I’ve had a stressed muscle that needs time off, and it’s kept me out of the gym. I still need a new mp3 player, which has made workouts less engaging. It’s been cold, which is a death knell for getting out and about. What this means, is that my body hasn’t had the same level of activity. My muscles are under worked, and they’re not getting stretched as much. While maintenance is the goal, it’s not an exciting one. It’s become a good reminder that keeping up with all this is a choice, and not something to take for granted.

Suffice to say, treadmills are boring. If you’re on auto-pilot with a bunch of this stuff, it can be worth checking in on why you’re feeling that way. I know that in my case, keeping active is an act of self-love, even if it doesn’t feel like that at the time. I’ve been getting so achy, feeling tepid about it all. I’m both getting older, and too young to lose touch with why I’ve been keeping up with it in the first place.

I feel okay about spoiling a movie so irrelevant, it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry

Hi friends. Fair warning, this post will have spoilers for the film Assimilate (2019). Can you spoil a bad movie? I’m not sure. I think they did that to themselves.

Movie night with friends last night. Very much an excuse to hang out and eat snacks. My friend shortlisted a bunch of films that looked somewhere in the range of decent to terrible. Assimilate was one they’d picked out. It sounded like it had elements of Body Snatchers, found footage gimmicks and teens being teens. Why not, eh? At worst it was something we could talk through. It was so much more than that.

Basic preamble: Two kids try to get more out of their nowhere town by filming it all via lapel cams. They have a YouTube channel where they broadcast it all. Strange things start happening around town, people act weird, then more die. They try to figure out what’s at the bottom of this mystery. If it sounds like they’re ripped off trope after trope, you’d be correct. If it sounds like this film would break all the rules of decent filmmaking, you’d also be correct. In fact, the film tears that band aid right off by starting with a Scream scene. Some hapless redhead is killed by a naked dude busting through the window. She’d been bitten by something. My girlfriend pointed out that it had to be some kind of goofy film within a film thing, elsewise they were showing their hand too quickly. It wasn’t. The scene both happened, and was never mentioned again. We never saw the victim again, and her death had no real relevance but to tell us that a) biting would be involved and b) whatever infestation was occurring was already happening by the time we met the central characters. Otherwise it was kinda pointless.

I want to profess, I had a blast watching this film. I think it comes under the umbrella of glorious trainwreck.

The Acting Was Uneven. The Stakes Were Confusing. The CGI Was Constantly Laughable. It was a cast of mostly unknowns. That was kind of neat. The lead character’s dad was in a wheelchair. His legs below the knees had been removed via CGI. His dad was the worst actor in the entire film. This is important, because when the Body Snatcher type stuff went down, the infected characters’ behaviour turned robotic. This actor, in all his mechanised glory, left no headroom. He was still a bad actor, but he got his legs back.

The pacing was odd. It took a long time to decide that it actually wanted to become a horror, enough that I’d kind of forgotten we were watching one by the time things kicked in. It filled out the lives of these characters, introduced others who’d later get snatched/killed, and tried to make us care. Here’s the thing, it took a lot. The characters had so many chances. Be aware that this is a big fucking spoiler, but here’s the convoluted process required for a character to really be gone. Firstly, these little ant things came down in spores. The ants themselves didn’t do a lot, but a bunch of them could coalesce into some mutant rat/spider/frog with humanoid mouths, filled with pointy teeth. They’d bite people. If they bit someone, they weren’t dead or infected, the rat spider frogs just took their DNA. Then they hid somewhere and gestated, becoming clones of the humans, except without humanoid intelligence, just animalistic instincts. THEN those clones would come back to try and attack their non-clones. They’d hold the person down, send out tons of little ant things and absorb their minds, then kill the people. There were so many steps, and opportunities to mess with the process.

Of course, it was all paint by numbers. We knew which characters we’d go back to, because they were the ones that’d been previously introduced at some point during the script. Then suddenly the entire town had been replaced. Then the lead characters had to pretend to be zombie clones to go past other clones untouched. THEN we found out that the clones couldn’t really use the internet. THEN we saw that ostensibly the world had been taken over. THEN right at the end we saw a couple of views on one of the duo’s videos, and online discourse emerging. It never discussed how this was happening on a global scale, or why people hadn’t somehow found more efficient discourse than a random YouTube channel with zero views, instead of the many, many popular sites online (’cause the clones couldn’t use the net, right? It’s not like they had to hide it somewhere obscure). The thing is, once the alien spore ant things absorbed someone, the clone had seemingly normal intelligence. However, the aliens never explained why they were invading. They could’ve, right? But we didn’t get a motivation. We didn’t know what the point of it all was. The film had infinite chances to say something, then chose to ardently make no commentary at every turn. It was madness.

The film was bonkers, and made very little sense. I think this is an endorsement, but I’m still not sure. It’s a great film to talk through, I’ll give it that.

Time to parcel on some knowledge

What dumb shit did you write in school?

I was listening to a podcast, and someone mentioned a high school essay they wrote. I had a thought, and almost physically recoiled. I remembered my schooling, and the excessive amount of essays I contorted into talking about subjects I already liked. In intermediate school I got put in a gifted stream. It was an elective class outside of our ordinary ones. We’d get together weekly, and were led to work on individual projects of our own design. I felt uncomfortable being moved away from the regular streams, and in no way did I think I deserved to be there. The rest were really smart kids. They loved science and computers. They had a host of extracurricular educational hobbies. I was just some goofy kid who loved superhero comics. I immediately knew what I had to do: Dig in. I decided to do my project on comic creation and the process. I think I really sold our teacher in charge on a piece about production. However, I really didn’t want to do research. So I read a bunch of fluff pieces, and put together a lionised account of Lee and Ditko creating Spider Man. Compared with the rest of the final projects, it was dismal. I’d drawn a dumb little comic, and I was a terrible artist. I didn’t care, I’d gotten off doing the bare minimum. I was relieved.

In high school I got put into the extension class again. I didn’t know why it kept happening to me. We did extension science and English. I flailed helplessly at the science, but in English? I did great. We were given Shakespearean sonnets to learn. I rote learned mine in an hour and said it out loud repeatedly. Soon everyone in the class knew mine. Hell, I still know it off by heart. I know it’s called “O Mistress Mine”, but I’ve got no idea what play it’s from. We were instructed that we were going to film a play. I got cast as Macbeth in a very truncated role. I learned my lines in a day, and turned in a gloriously gratuitous performance. I wasn’t in my element, I made it my element.

In university, I repeatedly warped the assignments around my sensibilities, almost rebelling against taking things seriously. We were to write an essay on a sentimental object in our lives. I wrote about Transformers bedsheets I got as a kid. I turned a feminism essay towards porn, and video game boob physics. I wrote an Environmental Feminism essay on mass production as a result of men’s inability to give birth. I talked about the curves of sleek cars and Coke bottles as commodification of the female form. I turned in an exam essay on creative revolts in the comic industry. Almost every project I put together revolved around subjects of interest, requiring the least amount of effort.

I think what I’m discovering, is that I spent my education trying to do as little work as possible, while getting results. If the schooling system was trying to teach me something, it was that nominal results didn’t really translate into anything tangible. I could get all the good marks I wanted, but I wasn’t really learning in the process. I was doing my best to not change, and teaching myself terrible lessons along the way. I wish that I’d known years back that there’s no way to shortcut the process. That real results came from advancing skills, not abstract marks for turning in projects. I think I’ve finally started to learn, but egads I wish it didn’t take this many decades.

Some gifted student, eh?

Can a melon change its stripes?

Okay. Workday over and I have an absurdly heavy watermelon by my side. I’m ready for the night.

Really, this watermelon weighs more than one would expect. That was the point. I stood by the box of melons at the supermarket and pondered. What makes for a sweet one? Aside from the obvious- being Summer, not Autumn- I knew there were indicators. The internet said to look for a melon that weighed a lot for its size. Check. It said to look for a big, creamy yellow splotch on the side. Check check. Lastly, a good watermelon should apparently have a hollow sound when you thump the bottom. Check check one two. All set. I’m having dinner with a friend and she asked me to grab dessert. She doesn’t do dairy, or caffeine, so no chocolate either. It’s not like I had prep time, so I scanned the supermarket. My options seemed to be Halloween candy, entire oven baked pies (which seemed excessive for watermelon) and fruit. I thought a non-processed option might be nice, but more so I wanted to see if it was possible to grab a great Autumn melon. We shall see…

Low key night, because everyone is out at Halloween gigs. See, in Canada Halloween lasts for two weeks. It’s marvellous, but this year I don’t really get much of a Halloween. My shifts don’t really align. It’s not a big deal, I’m kind of tired of spending money on costumes to ticketed events. Still, I had an idea this year. It’s pretty evergreen, so I’ll keep it locked and loaded. Okay, I’ll tell. I wanted to be Paddington Bear. I looked it up, I’d basically just need a big blue duffel coat, a red hat and a pair of gumboots. Maybe even a mail tag saying “please look after this bear.” I’d paint a little dot on my nose. Costume sorted. It’s great, because I clearly love Paddington. It’s less great, because if I stepped into any busy event I’d sweat my way out of the coat in a second, and I’m not sure what I’d wear underneath. As soon as I put on some bear costume below the coat, I’d be doubly screwed. My body isn’t made for that sort of heat. It’s fine, I have a year to think about it, and find some kind of suitable event. I’ll practice my hard stares in the meantime.

At work today I was doing description for a show about Nazi Megastructures. This’ll be the understatement of the century, but it was kind of crazy to hear about some of the Nazi machinations. Did you know that Goebbels basically shut down most written publications? Newspapers, etc. He re-centred media around radio, then controlled the means of broadcast. I don’t know the number of closed publications off the top of my head, but it was immense. They created learning institutions to indoctrinate children, raising them in the Hitler Youth programs. The guy talked about the insane stuff they did to make kids face their fears. Making non-swimmers dive into pools from 3m high boards. Swimmers were made to dive out windows onto blankets. Unreal. I’m a grown ass man and I wouldn’t dare. Is this the kind of stuff I’m missing out on by not being a typical male, reading WW2 books on the toilet? Am I really missing out? That’s heavy.

Though not half as heavy as this melon.