Much as he would seem a southpaw, Buddy was a retriever, not a boxer.

If finding a copy of Monkey Up at Dollarama a couple of weeks back wasn’t a sign that we need to start the Pawdcast up again, then this definitely is. I’m starting a super low key grassroots campaign to see if we could host the event. Because what’s to lose? The Pawdcast might not be family friendly, but we’ve absorbed enough wholesome entertainment that I’m sure we could fake it. The concept is bonkers, of course, but just crazy enough to make sense. Imagine, my co-host and I standing in the Harbourfront Concert Stage introducing a film about a basketball playing pup to an audience of parents, children and oblivious stoners because one day two years ago I thought the concept of a golden retriever doing back handsprings ad infinitum was funny enough to record a friend and I chatting about its wider mythos for hours.

Buddy never did back handsprings, but he sure did capture our hearts.

It just dawned on me that it’s been almost five months since we last recorded an episode. That’s crazy. We resolved to come back once the weather was warmer and that’s barely been happening in the past couple of weeks. Five months. Fuck. I suppose in having some semblance of a social life again (or at least remembering what my girlfriend’s face looked like, rather than passing like ships in the night), it was too hard to track time as it zoomed past. Five months. I guess that makes sense. I own a beard now. Or maybe it owns me…

The Pawdcast was a lifesaver last year. Much as I dreaded being constantly busy. Much as I dreaded having to sit through children’s film after children’s film. Much as I dreaded having to think of how to fill an hour or more of podcast every two weeks, I needed it. Being stuck in a job that I wanted out of after six months, I had to have a solid creative outlet that would push me to branch out of my comfort zone. The Pawdcast provided that. Writing/voicing parody trailers was tough work at first, but I did it. Getting back into the grind of audio editing was slow going at first, but after a few episodes I got back up to speed. Building up chemistry with new guests week after week was daunting, but I had no choice, so I went with it. Doing these things helped re-awaken long dormant mental muscles and brought back a part of me I thought I’d lost to the daily grind. For all my talk of dreading the work involved, that’s just my natural response to being challenged. It’s not something I enjoy, but it’s something I know is essential for me to keep up momentum or elsewise collapse.

Unfortunately, much as I’m into forcing myself back into the magical world of the ABCU, it’s not on the cards right away. The Pawdcast is not just me, it’s a small team who are all vital to our little operation. Our producer has a sketch group she’s assistant producing. My co-host has jumped off the freelancing train and into full-time work that’s taking up more of his energy and time than he can spare for another project right now. We’re gonna have to stay on hiatus for at least another few months. So Monkey Up will elude me for a little while yet.

The question now becomes, what do I do with myself? I’m still in that dead end job, with no way out on the immediate horizon. It’s an energy vampire that gives me no creative outlet. If I don’t funnel intention into some new endeavour soon I’m gonna regress into going through the motions. I’ve been me long enough to understand these patterns and they don’t head to a desirable destination. I had a writing room I wanted to set up with friends, but people were too busy at the time. Maybe “now” aligns for everyone. I wonder if there are skills I could be upkeeping by giving myself little projects. More audio editing, perhaps? I’d been thinking of taking some improv classes to help foster that mental alacrity. Maybe it’s time to work at letting my brain keep up with my mouth. Or could I finally pick boxing back up after years and mould myself back into shape?

I need something, whatever it is. Because when I get bored, I stagnate. Which seems awfully unbecoming for one of Toronto’s foremost Air Bud enthusiasts. What Would Air Bud Do?

Van Dammed if you do…

Every now and again I’ll get some reference stuck in my head and want so badly to find it a home. Of course I’ve got a stable of references ready to saddle up at any time, but not all references are equal. Some are super niche, requiring either a certain unlikely scenario to come to fruition. Elsewise the reference itself might be from something esoteric or lost to the past. Quoting Captain America: The First Avenger isn’t tough, but pulling from the 1990 Captain America film takes some work for very little payoff.

The question is why any of this matters. Ultimately, like most of my content, it doesn’t. Of course I want my references to be out of control, but if I navigated my life without constant pop-cultural quotes, I’d be doing alright in my lil’ Maslow pyramid. I’d probably talk less though. Why I do chase the ‘rush’ of a solid reference is truthfully a matter of pride. It feels fantastic to toss out something obscure and have acknowledgement flow back. It’s like the full body hum of making a room erupt into laughter. There’s nothing quite like the idea that even for a second, you were capable of making people happy. Absolutely nailing a reference has that same sensation, but on a much smaller and more concentrated level. You feel in sync with someone else. There’s this communal feeling of goodwill that exists between you. You’ve called to something hidden in the depths of their memory and that discovery brings them involuntary joy. Then you get to feel special for putting them in touch with it. Like I said, it’s silly and ephemeral, but that doesn’t make it any less of a goddamn delight.

All of this is to say, for the last day or two I’ve been searching every single conversation to drop the “For me, it was Tuesday” bomb.

A friend once laid me low with that very quote and I felt tickled inside and out. It resonated in my heart and mind, both of which grew three sizes (as a side effect, I got smarter). In that moment I felt connection and a certain kind of bliss. I don’t know if I’d attain that same glorious sensation when I imparted it upon someone else, but until I know I’m gonna keep chasing that dragon.

There’s a documented moment of me experiencing this kind of euphoria. In episode 14 of the pawdcast I cast out my net with an “I am Queen’s Boulevard” pull (at least I got something from my love/hatewatch of Entourage) and catch a whale. You can hear the joy in my voice as I reel from a successful delve into the deep. Witnessing that, it’s no wonder that I chase that high any time I can.

Once again, it’s stupid, but I’d be a liar if I said it wasn’t one of my favourite little moments of rapture. Then again, this would be news to nobody who’s read at least one of these entries.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to return some videotapes.

See, reading this was time you will never get back. Lesson learned?

I’m having my 30th birthday party tonight, a few weeks early of my actual birthday. I thought I’d write something for the occasion.

Now that I’m approaching 30, I’ve had a lot of time to make mistakes. Nigh on three decades of fucking up, gathering the pieces and reforming opinions. I think that’s called learning (at least in the curriculum of the school of hard knocks). It might seem narcissistic and self-indulgent to write a speech for my 30th but you know what? I write every day. If it wasn’t this, it’d probably be a listicle of my top 7 shitting secrets to success. As the years have passed, the more I’ve grown, and the more years that pass, the more I realise I have left to learn. I swear it’s some kind of pyramid scheme, or at least can be blamed on the illuminati. As my body slowly degenerates, I hope I’m coming off on top trading youth for wisdom. So approaching 30, here’s some stuff that’s stuck with me. Let’s see if I can ace this without sounding like a “Live Laugh Love” Lululemon ad:

 

1. Time 

We trade so much of our time for money, but money will come and go. Time is the one thing we’ll never truly be able to get back. Aside from Georgie Pie that is. We’re all getting older and moving on with our lives. Some of us are getting married, having kids, buying homes and other stuff that’s supposed to be the domain of “adults”. We’re looking back at past years with a rosy fondness. Hitting peak nostalgia, which leads us to believe egregious things like Georgie Pie having had any semblance of quality. The ball pit was great, the pies were shit. Let it go already.

We’re not the only ones getting older. As we bring new life into the world, our parents are getting on too. Some of us have already said goodbye. It’s sad, but it’s also part of life. We can’t do anything about that. We can, however, spend time while we still have it. Time is the one thing we can’t take for granted. Please don’t add your loved ones to that list. It may sound cheesy, but cherish the people in your life while you have them. Nothing lasts forever, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give them what you have while you can. Which leads me on to the next item.

2. Pooping (and yes that was a pun)

Perhaps the most important lesson of them all. If you want to have easy, smooth poops, try raising your heels and bending over to grab your ankles. It’ll change your life.

3. Presence and intentionality

It’s so easy to be distracted. We carry around small beeping, flashing computers. Eye catching advertisements are everywhere. Our society is geared towards capitalising on all our mental stimuli at all times. There’s always something to do and being bored is a luxury left to eras long past. What’s harder these days is being present. Remember when I was talking about how important time was? (Hint, it was item number one on this speech) Well you only get the chance to live each moment once. Until we invent time travel and this whole speech becomes defunct, anyway. Over the past few years one of my most important discoveries was how my interactions grew with intentionality of presence. Putting the phone down, directing my focus.

Instead of using conversation as an excuse to say things and wait until I could say more things, I started asking questions and listening to responses. Authentically being with the person seated in front of me. The inverse of this sits too. If you’re not invested in the people around you, if you don’t care about them and aren’t interested in what they say or think, why are you with them? Be intentional and seek out the people who enrich your life. Then when you’re around them, be there. Save Twitter for when you’re on the toilet. You know that’s when you think of the wittiest tweets anyway.

4. Empathy

There’s nothing quite like having your opinion heard and respected. It feels great when people agree with you. Thing is, not everyone does. I know, for one, that there are people who got defensive when I shat on Georgie Pie earlier. That’s fine, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Even people who believe things that to you seem abhorrent. The world is made up of a spectrum of moral compasses and just because someone doesn’t agree with you, that doesn’t make them a monster. Your culture is the summation of the entirety of your lived experiences. Everything you’ve seen and done has in some little way shaped you towards the human you’ve become. It’s what makes you, you. It’s also why you see the world the way that you do. Nobody else has your distinct perspective, but that’s why the world is such a fascinating place full of myriad people. Do I sound patronising yet?

Here’s my point. If you truly believe that someone is behaving in a morally repugnant fashion, you cannot ever hope to change their perspective without first acknowledging it and seeing it from their point of view. If you start a conversation by telling they’re an asshole, they’re never gonna agree to anything but to disagree. It’s very rarely easy to put aside your views in order to understand someone (especially if they’re being a dickbag), but if the overarching hope is to be on the same side, it’s essential. Empathy. People are much more likely to be ignorant than malicious and they certainly haven’t lived your life. Consider others and it may change people in your mind from being “bad” to “different”.

5. Fulfillment

We all have needs and tending to each and every one feels almost impossible. Ask Maslow and his illuminati pyramid. Learn how you operate and it’ll do wonders to fix your mood. My girlfriend has helped me create a mental checklist that comes in handy if I’m ever grumpy.

  • Have I eaten recently?
  • Am I dehydrated?
  • When was the last time I was physically active?
  • Have I slept more than seven hours in the past three days?
  • Have I been able to switch off and decompress at all?

Or in IT speak, have you tried turning it off and on again? Learn what you need around you and life becomes easier to deal with. My biggest fulfillment lesson in recent years was how to find a creative outlet. I’m a creative person and it’s been a while since I’ve had a job that allows for creativity. Since I can’t exercise my creativity through my professional life, I’ve been leaning hard on external sources. I write every day for at least half an hour. It’s been massively helpful in expression and sometimes wrapping my head around difficult situations. It’s made it possible to cope at times where I would’ve otherwise crumbled. This last year I started a podcast (www.airbudpawdcast.com. Sign up for your free 30 day audible trial at audibletrial.comp/PAWD, that’s audibletrial.com/PAWD) and it’s allowed me to rediscover parts of myself I thought I’d lost. I feel more like myself than I have in years. I’m not telling you to start a podcast where you analyse the irreverent adventures of a sports playing dog and his incorrigible lineage (frankly we don’t need the competition), but have a think about what you need in order to be your best you. You won’t regret it.

6. Love

We don’t tell one another that we love each other enough. In western society we make the mistake of assuming love has to be romantic. If there’s someone in your life that gives more than they take, whose mere presence has made your life richer for having known them, isn’t that deserving of love? I’m so fortunate (#blessed) to be surrounded by people who inspire me. People funnier, smarter, more gracious, caring, witty and insightful than I am. I love that I can stand here talking to all of you, the people who shaped me and allowed me to be this person right here talking to you. I love you, sincerely, for having been part of my life.

Thank you. I love you.

Also thanks for indulging this extended wankfest of a monologue. Cheers to each and every one of you, you magnificent bastards.

As always, remember to buy the merchandising rights. That’s where the real money is.

2016 was A Tire Fire.

2016 was The Worst.

2016 was Literally Hitler.

2016 was a bad-ass mother who don’t take no crap off of nobody!

2016 was a lot of things to a lot of people. A lot of awful things did happen in 2016. Big political asteroids like Brexit and Trump left a crater in everything many of us believed possible. Our faith in others was shattered and the “Us vs Them” mentality crevasse widened to a gorge. A lot of people died. From the horrific deaths of Syrian refugees to the brutal violence committed on the black population of North America, 2016 was a pedestal for atrocities perpetrated through power imbalances. So many dead beloved celebrities. People who gave us hope and inspiration passing away in rapid-fire succession. So much grief, processing, acceptance.

2016 was also the opposite of doom and gloom in many ways. New discoveries, environmental reclamation, aid for those suffering. While there were infinite instances of sexism, racism and gender based conflicts both online and throughout society, isn’t it amazing that this discourse is finally making it to the mainstream? Five years ago did the vast majority of society even know of non-gender binary as a concept? Had “rape culture” joined our vocabulary? I’m not saying that we’re past any of this stuff. There’s a long road between awareness and acceptance. Many of the conversations we’re having now won’t pay off for years yet. Still, at least we’re having them. That’s gotta be worth something.

I wonder how much of 2016’s “worst-ness” was defined by social media. It feels uncommon to witness this much suffering in one rotation of the sun, but then again have we ever been this interconnected? The concept of online life as an echo chamber is not new. The notion of negative news drawing more attention than the alternative certainly isn’t either. Still, something’s gotta be up when we only hear that “world hunger reached its lowest point in 25 years” in an article basically telling us ‘not to jump’. In times of crisis, social media has become emotionally draining. It’s one thing to wallow in a puddle of grief, it’s quite another when you dive into an ocean of pooled tears. Fear, anxiety and sorrow amplified by a deafening chorus of voices. While it should be comforting that people share your views, it often instead doubles down on them, adding an inescapable weight. It’s hard to find hope when you’re surrounded by dense darkness. This isn’t to negate or downplay the seriousness and validity of people’s emotions at all. I have my doubts (shameless plug) over how much it helps.

For me, 2016 like most years had its ups and downs. Work was a low point. Still stuck in a job that feels menial and draining, things have only gotten worse. The defining factors of a job I could phone in (namely amazing benefits, supportive work culture, excellent location and a quick commute) have all taken a nosedive. No part of my job in 2016 has improved and everything has declined. Fingers crossed I get a new position in the new year. On the flip side of that, things with my girlfriend have been flowing along nicely. She moved in nine months ago and we haven’t looked back. Tomorrow we’re getting on a plane to travel half way across the world. She’ll meet my family, friends and see the country in which I was born. While my job has been a bust creatively, I finally took a leap I’d spent years pining for. As anyone who’s read at least one other entry this year will know, I started a podcast. A Pawdcast to be more exact. It’s been a learning curve, a lot of work and at times, trying. It’s also put me back in touch with my audio editing roots and made me approach the format from a number of different angles. It’s been my biggest accomplishment this year by a large margin and a journey I’m proud to have embarked upon.

If it’s any consolation, 2017 is bound to be far worse than 2016. The world may have voted in Brexit and Trump, but we haven’t begun to see what they can do when they’re actually in power. 2016 was the beginning of a dark trilogy. We’ve merely finished the First Act. Expect 2017 to drive us to the edge of extinction, with salvation coming in the dying hours of 2018. I don’t make the rules, just calls ’em like I sees ’em.

Optimistically Yours.
-Leon

So near, so far, so so, so your wild oats.

With a mere two days until liftoff, it’s getting to the point where the fear of forgetting things has overtaken the anxiety of not having finished everything. In truth, I don’t need to get that much done before I leave, but the spectre of potential loss is real until we’re checked into our flight. At that moment, as long as I have my passport, wallet, phone and a spare change of underwear, I’m golden. Now though it feels like every step is a wrong one, that anything that feels easy was *too* easy.

I exercised my right to work remotely today and logged into my work computer from home. Scratching the commute out of my day meant I had an extra two hours to play around with, clearly an opportunity to sleep in. That didn’t happen. Regardless of getting in from a party at 1.30am last night, regardless of setting an alarm, my body knew what 7.30am felt like and rose accordingly. Cursed internal chronometer. Having awoken two hours before I needed to be “at work” I opened pro tools and resumed editing the season finale of The Air Bud Pawdcast. It was a busy, tangential episode and the audio levels were all over the place.

I soldiered on, taking breaks to shower and get breakfast. If I was gonna be “at work” I was at least gonna be showered and dressed, elsewise fall into the temptation of slacking all day. I logged into the remote desktop application, loaded up all my work programs, checked my emails and alt+tabbed back to pro tools. Throughout the day I continued to work on the Pawdcast, checking work emails ever 15 minutes or so. At around 10.30am I got an email that required action. I spent two minutes completing the task and emailed them back to let them know I’d finished. That was the one and only piece of work that came in all day. Considering the 50 minute commute each way, I’m pretty fucking stoked I neglected to come into the office for all of two minutes’ work I could do from home.

After finishing the episode editing, mixdown and admin around 5.30pm, I felt like I’d completed a day of work. I was handily home to receive my brother’s courier package and started on packing clothing. Oddly enough, the one item I really need is something I don’t own: A hard wearing pair of summer shorts. Let me clarify, I have one, but the pair has a massive hole in the crotch. If I wanted the Dickeys Workwear equivalent of chaps, I’d be pretty damn close.

I still have yet to buy presents for my sub-eight month old nephews. Perhaps I can knock them out at the same place I’ll find shorts. We’ve got a friend coming to house/catsit, but I’ll need to do a write up of things to know. Garbage day, catcare dos and don’ts (I mean, she knows a lot about cats. Just not *this* cat) and what’s handy in the area. I need to start collating costs incurred for the trip in a workable spreadsheet, so my girlfriend can divvy them up afterwards. After I get there I need to have my suit dry cleaned for a wedding and find a suitable gift. We’ve got close to 24 hours travel in front of us, so I’d be dumb not to prep new music, download some movies with the new Netflix feature and put something on my kindle other than that Murakami back catalogue.

So much to do, so little time. When did everything become all early 2000s Olsen Twins up in this bitch?

To think, it all started with a little barksketball.

My plans for today were to sleep deeply, sleep late and rise to visit friends. I would feast, sup deeply from the cup o’ life (why is that a thing in my reference Rolodex?) and revert back to the sleeping thing.

Instead I awoke at 7am and started editing episode 15 of The Air Bud Pawdcast. Because what better use for a Saturday morning could there possibly be? Holy shit was this ever a fun episode. There was the high of having reached the end of season 1. Super Buddies was actually a fun, if ludicrous film and the perfect way to cap off the Air Bud Cinematic Universe proper. Being the end of the year, end of a good run and Christmas time, I shelled out to buy our team branded T-shirts. I told my co-host what I was looking for (since he’s the one with the visual skills) and he manifested my dreams into reality. We also recorded the episode with one of my favourite people. My friend, who hosts monthly bad movie nights in Toronto. The episode was smooth, given that my friend and I already had palpable chemistry, plus the chemistry I’d built up with my co-host over 14 episodes prior.

Like the years, the jokes started coming and they didn’t stop coming (though I bet Steve Harwell wishes they would). I wouldn’t say that we went off the rails so much as that where we were going, we didn’t need rails. We took tangents, took them further then came back around again to where we started. It got silly, siller and flagrantly absurd. In short, it was everything I’ve been wanting to get out of this podcasting experience. The episode rang long, nearly an hour fourty five. The only reason it ended where it did was calling it out of necessity. I could’ve kept going ad infinitum, having found my happy place.

Which is a nice perch from which to give a retrospective. It’s been six months since we released the first episode. We started recording a month or so before that. So many of the early episodes found themselves through trial and error. We saw what worked, what didn’t and got better with each release. My co-host is an expert at making things happen, planning ahead and keeping us all committed. I’m more of the she’ll be right persuasion and having a more rigid structure to work within did wonders for our quality. It was an exciting new pursuit. I’ve been wanting to put together a podcast for years, and seeing it come to fruition stoked some flame of recognition in me that oh, we MADE SOMETHING.

That hard work paid off, resulting in an end product I’m proud of. It was a lot of work and I haven’t felt one pang of regret that it might not have been worth it. Even when I’ve felt the pressure of getting things done to deadlines, to have to work at something that wouldn’t pay off financially, still no regrets. And yes, having the creative outlet of the Pawd has pulled my focus away from I Have My Doubts. I’ve definitely felt like I’ve been phoning it in a bit lately. Then again, I’ve felt like I’ve been phoning a lot of things in lately and it’s nice to look at the list of episodes and realise #notallthings. 2016 has been a hell of a year, but it wasn’t a total tyre-fire.

Not all I got was this fucking shirt.

This entry brought to you by Atlantis Morissette’s hit single: You Water Know.

Like an alternate universe Bad Company, I feel like making puns. So for the next 30 minutes I’m gonna hit up Wikipedia and make puns on randomly assigned topics until my mental well runs dry.

Style (2006 film)

  • What’s the chance this film has Bollywooden acting?
  • More like Ganesh Up 2: The Streets.

2009 Qatar motorcycle Grand Prix (Oh, this really isn’t working out like I hoped)

  • I guess they revvised the date on that one.
  • It was raining? More like “While My Qatar Gently Weeps”.
  • Looks like a rolling Stoner won.

2012 Georgia State Panthers baseball team (FFS Wikipedia, give me something)

  • Isn’t it weird that Cole Outz played infield?
  • Why’d they leave Gabe Shivers so far away? Talk about giving him the cold shoulder.

Kang, SBS Nagar

  • I’m afraid to make any puns here. It’ll sound like I’m taking a Punjab at them.

Linalool dehydratase (Fuck this. I’m out)

Okay, so maybe this experiment didn’t work so well. It’s nice to try something different for a change, right? What else was I gonna do? Continue to mention the absurd amount of food they’ve plied us with at work? How having half the building already on holiday means we never have to wait for a bathroom stall? That I don’t need to watch another Air Bud film for at least a month? That work gave away the poinsettia plants it had in the lobby yesterday and I’m so careless I think mine is already dying?