I choose power over whelming

When Doom Guy is at a bar and wants to get to know someone he thinks looks cute, does he IDDQT?

I used to love cheating in video games as a kid. Games were more about the experience than the challenge. I just wanted to have fun and play around in those worlds. I’m sure that if I grew up in a time where sandbox games were big, it’s all I would’ve played. As it was, we had side scrolling beat-em-ups, first person shooters, strategy games and fighting games. I was IDKFA, It Is A Good Day To Die, Left Down Left Right Down Right Left Left Right Right and Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A all the way down. And up, left, right, etc for good measure. I spent so much time memorising cheats, that I never really got good at the games. I’d say I was better with memory than twitch response. Maybe I should’ve played memory based games instead. I played so much Mortal Kombat 3 that I learned all the fatalities (plus many of the babalities, animalities and “friendships”) off by heart. It was less about being a skillful player, and more about seeing cool shit happen. Of course I was more interested in whether or not I could behead someone with Fei Long than knowing how to combo someone to death.

I don’t know that I’m super interested in cheating anymore. I’m not talking about vidya games, I mean IRL. I don’t really play anything but Magic Arena these days. My methodology lately has been to try and do things correctly, rather than skeeving off on tasks. Over time I’ve come to see the difference between outcomes when effort is applied. Oftentimes if you put the work in, the result is more pronounced. Seems like a given, but it’s a harder lesson to learn than you’d think. Why not just do a half-arsed job all the time and enjoy your freedom from duty? Because the rewards are cumulative. When I do a good job at something, I not only feel better about myself for having put effort in, but bask in the results. If I clean something well, it’s easier to clean it next time. Or I get used to the amount of work it takes to do something right, and it feels like less of a chore each time.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna look for loopholes. A guy can still grift, right? I like following rules when they make sense, but so much of the time they’re arbitrary. Or they require you to supplicate yourself before overwhelming capitalist forces. Am I not going to take advantage of a corporation? What would be the point? Our merest actions are unlikely to affect their bottom line, and they exponentially profit off of us. I’m fine evening the scale. Or at least, figuring out how to play within the rules while subverting their spirit. Oh, so I can only buy a maximum of ten cans of tuna at a time? What if I buy ten, walk out, then walk back in and buy ten more? Seems entirely legal, and I’m incredibly okay with it. It’s not cheating if you’re playing by the rules.

Also, ain’t nothin’ in the rules says a dog can’t play basketball.

They didn’t even have the dignity to line up for a mug shot

I’m ready for time off already.

Sure, it’s only been four days since I was in Montreal, but I’ve been sick for the past week and a half. Cut me some slack. Frankly, I’m mostly tired of being unwell. This goddamn phlegm. I’ve been coughing day and night. For the past 24 hours, the phlegm has often featured blood, just for kicks. I dunno, I think I’ve just had a bloody nose, but who knows? Maybe it’s more? In any case, I managed to infect my girlfriend too, who’s going through symptoms about a week behind me. Slacker. What, did we think just because we halted lip kisses for a few days we’d sidestep passing it on? Maybe we should’ve avoided sharing drinks/cutlery too. Then again, what kind of relationship would that even resemble?

My work mug is lost. Well, it probably knows where it is. I don’t. That’s the issue. It’s nobody’s fault, really. I think someone was trying to be helpful. I do shift work, and share my studio with two others. Chances are, one of them saw my empty mug and put it back in the communal kitchen. It’s a Bermuda Triangle kind of place. Cutlery vanishes in a heartbeat. There are many mugs, but they ebb and flow. I didn’t care a ton about the mug. It was some dumb thing I picked up at a secret Santa. It had a stupid slogan on it, and was probably randomly picked up from Indigo. It did, however, have a flared base. They’re not just great for butt plugs. A flared base meant my mug would rarely tip. It certainly never tipped on my watch. I didn’t even use it much, but I sure would’ve preferred the option of abandoning it, rather than the mug making that choice. Does that make me a control freak? Or just confirm it?

Why am I still talking about work, when I don’t have to be back there until Tuesday evening? I’ve got a broad and varied social life, surely there’s something more interesting I have planned over the next few days?

I mean, I was thinking of going to the bathroom..?

Ready for some groan ups

So I’ve been watching Marvellous Mrs Maisel season 3.

It’s fun, if forgettable and I like it. Something I’ve noticed is that while it’s a period piece, it seems to have a super sanitised view of race relations. Fair game. I’m here for light-hearted entertainment. I don’t need to see folks being shitty to people of colour. At the same time, I’ve noticed the “R” word being used twice. Neither time was it important to the script. They could’ve easily used different words. I’m not offended, it just seems like a weird choice. The show may take place in the 50s, but the writer’s room exists in 2020. For whatever notion of period appropriate dialogue they have, they’ve already chosen to smooth over contentious elements. Why not this, when it’s a very easy thing to not include? It’s a massively popular show, and the word is known to be offensive enough that y’all knew exactly what I meant by “the “R” word”. Seems like unnecessary roughness, or a room that specifically relished the chance to use that word. Am I the only one who finds this odd?

We’ve delved further into searching for a new rental. It’s depressing. The market is brutal, and rather than paying another $500 monthly for an equitable place to our current abode, it’s looking closer to an extra $800. Grim. Our real estate friend hooked us up with an agent exclusive search engine. It’s even worse than the public ones. Our current two bedroom costs $1450 monthly including utilities. Using this search engine to find a two bedroom with a rent cap of $2500, there are two places within desirable areas of Toronto. Literally two. One costs $2400 monthly, the other is $2500. Neither include utilities. We already realised that we’d maybe have to lower expectations. Having a two bedroom with on-site washer and dryer in a relatively decent area looks to be over budget for two professionals in their thirties. The system might be broken. At least the slumlords are thriving. Always a silver lining. Has there been a film where a professional couple stage a hit in order to take over a rent controlled unit? If not, I guess I’ve got work to do.

In good news, I forgot I was going to a staged reading of Tom Scharpling’s Grown Ups 3 script tonight. It’s good news, because I didn’t make alternative plans, and it’s an awesome surprise. I’ve never seen Grown Ups or its sequel, but I have listened to a few episodes of The Worst Idea of All Time podcast, where two Kiwi comedians watched Grown Ups 2 every week for a year, and recorded a podcast after each viewing. Suffice to say, I have a very basic idea. From what I understand, Scharpling did not write a spec script, nor did anyone actually ask him to write a Grown Ups script at all. He just had a twisted idea, and put it together with a disturbing amount of respect for the entirely lacklustre franchise. They’re films made so Adam Sandler can go on holidays with his actor friends. A good cause, to be sure, but not cinematic landmarks by any measurements. I’m thrilled. I haven’t even read the script yet, and can’t wait to see how weird it gets.

I bet HE won’t use the “R” word.

Is this too niche? Or too fringe?

I’m on my way to a long overdue haircut. Let’s begin.

For days this potential post has been lingering in my head. I doubt it’ll make it to social media, because it’s too dumb. It’s something to the extent of “your mum loves singing along to the lyric “February made me shiver.” I don’t know why I find this so funny. It’s both non and incredibly specific. Maybe it’s something to do with the fact that the lyric is so throwaway, but known. I don’t even know if *my* mum loves it, but I have my suspicions. It’s likely the fact that I don’t understand why it’s so funny to me, that causes it to bounce around my skull on repeat. Would posting it and letting go be cathartic? Or is there actually something there that I’d be wasting by putting out half-baked? I’m 99.8% sure it’s nothing, but that’s a whole .02% potentially going to waste. In this economy? Perish the thought. So instead I’ll waste even more time thinking about it. Does it just need sometime else? Like “Your mum loves singing “February made me shiver” wistfully”? Or even more? “Your mum loves singing “February made me shiver” wistfully. I can tell.” Or maybe, just maybe, it’s as dumb as I think and it merely needs to be tossed unceremoniously into the fires of Mordor. That’s likely it, but just in case I’ll obsess about it more for good measure.

Haircut accomplished. It felt almost mean spirited. It’s been months since I was last shorn. I’d called a couple of times in early January, to no response. Then I ran out of free evenings, got sick, went on holiday, and it’s no longer early January. In case you needed a lesson on how weeks work. I called ahead today, and the guy answered. Strangely, he didn’t exclaim “oh, the Irish guy”. I’m not Irish and I’ve only been seeing him for the past five years, but tradition is tradition, y’know? I asked if I could show up in 20 minutes for a cut. He said that was fine. I arrived, and a woman was lying back having her hair washed. Felt straight up Lando Calrissian. “She just got here” the hairdresser remarked. I asked how long she’d be, in case it’d be easier for me to come back another day. “Probably half an hour” he remarked. “45 minutes? An hour maybe.” He concluded. I looked at my watch. “Do you mind waiting?” He asked. I thought for a second. “It’s probably just easier to come back another day, no big deal.” He looked at me “I was talking to her.” She said she was fine waiting. I balked. “But you got here first, that’s not fair.” She shrugged and replied “I’ll just grab my phone.” The hairdresser addressed her. “Guys’ haircuts are quick. I’ll be done in ten.”

He looked at my mop and grabbed his clippers. “The usual?” He asked. I nodded. “So, a fade?” I blinked. Was my ‘usual’ a fade? Had it really been so long that I’d forgotten? I shrugged. “Sure, that sounds great.” He immediately set to work and frantically started cutting away chunks of hair. “It’s so long that I have to clear it off before I can even start.” He commented. I watched as clumps fell away. I didn’t remember my hair being THAT short. Must’ve been a small life time ago. True to his word, he was done in all of 15 minutes. He only gave me shit for not using product once, which must be a new record. I glanced in the mirror, then did a second take. Holy hell there was barely anything left. It looked fine, but egads my head felt weightless. I put on my beanie and it felt loose to say the least. Was it a truly dumb idea to get a short fade in winter? I’m about to find out.

Looks like I’m the one that February will make shiver after all.

Lox and keys

It turns out that at a point, you hit a wall with smoked salmon.

Let me elaborate. The morning after Saturday’s wedding (traditionally known as both Sunday Morning, and “easy like”), there was an arranged brunch at a nearby hotel. It was fantastic, and interesting. People who we’d previously seen at the wedding were visible in the light of day. That same assortment of characters, who had no other reason to ever be in the same room, filled a hotel banquet room. Naturally, for a hotel banquet. There were poached eggs with hollandaise, salads, bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, bagels, fruit, pastries and, as mentioned, smoked salmon. Given the quantities of alcohol consumed the night prior, everyone was in mildly rough shape, and eager for a big feed. Having had virtually no appetite for the past few days due to sickness, I was in an ideal situation. I piled my plate high with meats and bread, packing my stomach like an apocalypse prepper before Y2K. While many cradled their heads in their hands, I bobbed up and down in my seat, happily chewing on animal, vegetable and dough based foods alike.

We had a five plus hour drive ahead of us post brunch. Our car was all packed up, we were going straight from the open buffet to the open road. I saw my friend/our driver lathering up a bagel with cream cheese. I thought, as is her style, that she was prepping a road meal. It made so much sense. We were at a buffet with gratuitous quantities of food. There was no way that they were in any danger of running out. Why not take some of the ample vittles on offer and make a lunch for the trip? When you thought hard about it, it was frankly wasteful and villainous to do anything but. I would do my solemn, heroic duty and prepare something to eat later. At the same time, I was gonna be subtle, low key and potentially surreptitious about it. For kicks, y’know?

I grabbed two bagel halves, a sachet of cream cheese and a stack of smoked salmon, capers & red onion. If I was to hazard a guess at how tall that salmon stood? Probably around five centimetres high stacked loosely. It might not have been a literal tonne, but it looked like one. I spread the sachet of cream cheese thickly, making sure every inch of each bagel face was covered. I layered the salmon, one sheet at a time. I wanted a tight operation, with a maximised salmon per bite ratio in place. I think I broke the scale. I also tossed two chocolate chip cookies into my lunch bag for a little treat. I wrapped the bagel in two napkins, and stowed it away in a plastic bag that I kept at the side of the table. 20 minutes later, the hotel brought out styrofoam containers for people to take home food. The food had all been paid for, and it was a common occurrence to offer leftovers in cases such as these. Clearly, my heroic and not at all self-interest based plan was nothing out of the ordinary.

We brunched around 11am. I think I finally got hungry just before 6pm. That’s how much I ate at brunch. I unwrapped the bagel and was hit with a salty scent. The bagel had heft, and the normally thin blanket of smoked salmon was instead a virtual steak. It was thick and substantial, having morphed into a solid brick. I took a bite and stopped for a second. I reeled. Amassed in such a quantity, it tasted like biting into pure brine. My body bristled. It’s not like the salmon wasn’t tasty, but holy hell it was intense. I think there’s a reason why it’s treated like a delicacy, because it’s meant to be delicately balanced. When it resembles a burger, there’s nothing delicate or balanced about smoked salmon. It’s an overpowering wall of taste. No room for nuance, it was like being slapped over the tongue with a whole fish. I powered through the entire sandwich, and I believe that my heart is now encased in a salty prison, preserved against the ravages of the elements. It’s what they call a “Love Lox-down”. My life has been divided into two periods, pre and post bagel. If I hear a word against my actions, I’ll decry it as a schmear campaign and deny everything. In my new life I’m emboldened an unrepentant. Born again under a pillar of salt. I am irrevocably changed, and the salmon is to blame.

I mean, mostly I’m to blame, but that doesn’t fit in with my new unrepentant personality, so the finger points to the salmon.

Give ’em the good new fashioned

My girlfriend had been telling me for months that there was something secret and special planned for the wedding.

“Is it a flashmob?” I asked. “It’s probably a flashmob.”
“A secret is what it is.” She replied.
It was a flashmob.

As the years have passed, I’ve naturally attended more weddings. Each a little different, each their own. What I’ve come to appreciate the most is how each couple tailors their marital unity to their distinct personalities. It’s neat to see all the little touches they add, whether in presentation, vows, even food. This wedding was entirely the summation of these two individuals tying the knot together.

The vows were incredibly sincere, and made absolute sense for a couple who’ve been together for the past 15 years. While distinct people, they’ve grown together in many ways. A myriad of nicknames and bits found their way into the vows, while I didn’t know the couple well enough to be in on them, I still got the gist. I don’t know that I managed to straight up cry, but there were definitely a bunch of moments that yanked on the ol’ heart strings. The vows made sense in a modern context, talking in a wider sense of trust and understanding, a desire to grow together, work as a team and see the best intentions in one another. I mean, they were worded much more sweetly than that, but the gist is there.

Everyone involved in the running of the wedding was absurdly pleasant. Nothing close to any drama. There was the wedding party (denoted by their silly tiny hats), helping out with little tasks around the place. Making sure the bridegroom ate, drank and had anything they needed.  The servers taking around finger foods were lovely, incredibly friendly and super helpful. The bar staff were great, and the DJ kept things rolling on. I don’t know that I’ve ever been to a wedding where both the Tetris theme and Die Antwoord have played, but it was that kind of wedding. Get on board already, geez.

The food was excellent. Instead of a personal meal, they had servers coming around with all sorts of hors d’oeuvres. The bride assured us all that nobody would go hungry. She was right. The hors d’oeuvres did not stop coming. There were calamari sticks, meat and veggie skewers, potato cake things, mushroom risotto, pad thai in takeout containers, these amazing fig and blue cheese concoctions, warm pumpkin soup in little shot glasses, and my favourite, the seared tuna. Even with my reduced appetite, I still managed to try everything. Except maybe the desserts. There was a literal wall of desserts, and I had no hope in trying more than three or four things.

We had such a great time. The music kept going until the early hours of the morning, and the dance floor stayed full the entire time. All of the couple’s friends were great, very easy to get along with. There was nothing contentious whatsoever, just a wonderful night of excellent people getting hitched. And a flash mob.

If you have to ask, it’s probably a flash mob. And it was a fun one.

Good ol’ fashioned jean therapy

Oh Jeans Jeans Jeans.

Never change. I mean, do change, that’s half the point. The changing rooms specifically are the focal area of Jeans Jeans Jeans. I’ve written about Jeans Jeans Jeans before, but rarely do I run out of things to say about Jeans Jeans Jeans. Okay, I’m likely to type that many times today. Let’s stick with the acronym JJJ for now.

If you haven’t read one of my many other experiences at JJJ, let’s boil this down. JJJ is a big underground warehouse. Jeans cover the walls. Not just errant pairs, but cascading styles and sizes of brands. The different coloured hangers on each pair denote the size, to easily pick them out. There are tons of new seasons jeans, and just as many old seasons pairs for 50% off. Very nice jeans at affordable prices. If there’s something you want, they probably have it. If they don’t, maybe come back in a few weeks. If it doesn’t look like they have what you’re looking for, you probably haven’t asked.

Customers and staff alike stand around the changing rooms. Customers go in, try things, then come out wearing them. There are mirrors everywhere for customers to check their fit. Staff are on the lookout to ascertain how good they look, and to pin up for alterations. Alterations are free, and take 5-10 minutes in store. If they pairs don’t look so great, staff will call around the store for certain styles, sizes, brands, etc. More accurately, Leroy does.

Egads, Leroy gets his own paragraph. Leroy is the engine that keeps JJJ running. He’s a whirling dervish, weaving between customers, making things tick over. He’ll peek at customers looking in mirrors and give suggestions. He’ll get back to customers he dealt with earlier, offering them alternatives. He’ll bark around the store “Harry, get me a 410 in Sierra on a grey hanger”. Half a minute later, a pair of jeans will fly through the air, Leroy catches them and hands them to the customer. He’ll stop and pin up hemlines in 5 seconds flat. A guy waiting around was like “is he going to pin me up?” His friends looked down “he already did” they said. Every now and again, while dealing with one customer, he’ll toss a pair of jeans into another changing room. “Oh, thanks” you’ll hear, surprised as they are by the impromptu delivery. Other staff consult with Leroy and he’ll give them snappy and seemingly accurate suggestions. Then he’ll hurl a pair of jeans halfway across the store to another staff member walking through. It’s Leroy’s circus.

I walked in today looking to pick up a few pairs. I love all the jeans I grabbed two years ago. Some of them are starting to show wear and tear. One pair in particular, I adore. Every time I “get” to wear them, I’m bowled over by how comfortable they are, how smooth the fit is and the flexibility in them. I can walk up big stairs without worry. Without looking at any jeans, I walked right up to the changing rooms. I found Leroy and showed him the jeans I was wearing. “I got these here last time. They’re my absolute favourite pair. If I could wear them every single day, I would. What do you have that fit like these, but in some interesting, outrageous colours?” He directed me towards a changing room. A minute later, he trust eight pairs of colourful jeans on hangers into the room. He picked my size exactly. A lot of the legs were a little long, but they got pinned back easily. The fit was astounding. Each pair I tried, I loved. I picked three pairs with colours that would complement my wardrobe: A soft grey, the colour of shark skin. A shade of green slightly lighter than olive. Finally, a gentle sky blue. I spent all of 20 minutes between the front door and having three pairs. I spent almost $300 once I added a belt. I’m banking these pairs because I know some of mine are wearing down and I want to future proof myself. Maybe soon it’ll feel like I’m wearing my favourite pair every day.

JJJ doesn’t just sell jeans, but by God does it ever sell jeans well.