I’m not like them, but I can pretend. A nice suit helps too.

Maybe rich people do have more fun.

A couple of friends and I got dolled up last night and attended a fancy party. I’m feeling pretty fragile today, so don’t expect me to write a masterpiece. But anyway, the party. A super glitzy affair, Hush Hush is an annual library fundraiser, which turns a local library into an all out barnburner. The tickets were super expensive, at $100 each, but the event was goddamn out of this world. Everyone was dressed to the nines and looked dynamite. The essence of cocktail chic. I feel like every time I turned a corner I’d walk into yet another unbelievable set piece, each of which could’ve been an event in themselves.

  • A GIF photobooth. A stack of props and a camera that took four consecutive photos that it then turned into a GIF, which they in turn emailed to you.
  • Two servers walking around with oyster utility belts. Chainmail gloves, a knife, A bucket of iced oysters, a selection of different sauces and a bucket for the empty shells. I’ve never really enjoyed oysters before and I was convinced I just hadn’t tried the right one yet. One server had East Coast oysters and the other had West Coast ones. I couldn’t taste the difference, but they were damn delectable. I tried a hot sauce version and a champagne vinaigrette. The vinaigrette was amazing.
  • A cartoonist who’d draw your portrait. The line was 40-50 minutes long, which seemed like a waste at a four hour event.
  • A robotic hockey game, with little car robots controlled by iPads.
  • Liquid nitrogen cooking. There were cheetos on sticks, which were crazy. When you bit in, you’d get a mouthful of chilly smoke. If you were an idiot and accidentally put the whole cheeto in, you’d get surprised as smoke shot out of your nose. They also did nitrogen infused coffee flavoured ice cream, with little syringes filled with maple syrup.
  • Three HTC Vive VR setups. I didn’t get around to playing, but it seemed pretty rad.
  • Open bars. They had about four different stations set up. Custom cocktails, a couple of Ontario craft beers or wine. There was even a Bloody Caesar bar going all night.
  • They kept the same DJ as the previous year and she fucking killed it again. They had a different spin (pun mostly intended) on it this year, as they’d pulled a bunch of vinyl from the library’s collection. They had them set up in crates by the DJ. You could leaf through them and find songs to request. Lots of old classics and deep cuts, mixed with a little low hanging fruit. It was great.

The event was absurd and a total blast. Servers were constantly coming around to take empty glasses/dishes and offer hors d’oeuvres. The crowd was surprisingly great. One or two finance bros, but mostly chill, friendly people. Everyone seemed to have come determined to enjoy themselves. Super low douchebag quotient. The event ended around 1am and a couple of us were still looking for something to do. Someone my friend and I met on the dancefloor invited us back to hers with a couple of others. I had no expectations or idea of where it was going, but it ended up being this mega wholesome gathering. Six or so of us in the basement listening to music, chatting and singing along as someone strummed on the guitar. I took an Uber home just before 5am, grin plastered on my face. Being rich wasn’t too shabby. Maybe that’s what I’ll do with my life.

When you’re rich, DJs don’t give you shit for requesting Wild Wild West.

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Have a nice strip. See you next fall.

So yeah, looks like medicating with alcohol helped. Oh boy, I’m sure that’s healthy. More accurately, blowing off steam while hanging out with friends helped. Without plans, I put a plea out to the internet and the internet pulled me in with both hands. Friends invited me out to an Amateur Strip Show Judged by Drag Queens event. It was a blast.

Amateur also seemed like more of a misnomer than I was led to believe. For the most part these were polished acts with some props and definite intent. Someone’s scene involved “flaying” themselves, cutting “skin” from their forearms and nipple, with bloody “flesh” underneath. Another lady began in a thin slip that was soon shed to reveal a nude body beneath (started from the bottom? -Ed). Her scene cleverly turned the concept on its head and, starting with a little rope self-bondage, had her fully dressed by the time the song finished. There was a phenomenal “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” piece complete with glitzy period clothing. It was something else. Thing is, watching all of these people perform had me itching to do something.

I’ve had this idea for a strip/burlesque scene for years. Set back in the 40s or 50s, with a husband coming back home after the six o’clock swill. Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love” starts playing. He’s feeling flirty, but also sloppy drunk. So the entire scene involves him trying to do a sexy strip tease for his wife, but he’s literally falling all over the place. In reality, acting drunk would involve a lot of control, especially if pratfalls are gonna be a big part of it. I haven’t really worked out the beats, but let’s have a little go at it:

He walks in the door, pulls off his hat and throws it at the coat rack. It obviously misses by a wide margin. He pulls his coat seductively off one shoulder, then goes to shunt it off the other arm in one go, but it gets tangled on his hand. He waves it back and forth, but ends up with a bigger tangle. He puts it between his legs to try and wrench it off. Then he looks up and raises his eyebrows suggestively, pulling his hand out of the mess and stumbling forward. He undoes his tie and starts pulling each side back and forth across the back of his neck. Then it slips out of one side and he doesn’t notice, so he’s just pulling at empty air with one hand before realising it. He drops the tie and focuses on his suspenders, slowly pulling them down a little, then putting them back into place. Back and forth, up and down, left and right at different times. Then with a flourish he pushes them down at once. Except he’s missed the left one and sheepishly pulls it down. He untucks his shirt, stumbling backwards a little. He goes button by button, sashaying as he does. He goes to pull the shirt off, but he forgot to unbutton the top button. So his hands are stuck in the sleeves, he wriggles around and falls to the floor. He wriggles some more and wrests his hands from the sleeves, ending up flat on his face/stomach. He unbuttons the top button finally and, exhausted, pulls off the shirt while in a heap. Then he realises he can wriggle his bum. So he wriggles his bum a little bit, then pokes it up into the air to wriggle it a little more. He tries to unbutton his pants, but it’s pretty tough to do with his face flat on the ground. He rolls over and battles with the belt, pulling it free, but the momentum turns him on his side away from the audience. He wriggles his bum again as he goes for the button. He rolls back onto his bum and pokes his hips into the air, then pulls his pants down slightly. He turns to look at her and raises his eyebrows again, arching his hips up and down a few times.

I need to start getting ready for my fancy party tonight, but that seems like the start of an idea. Maybe I’ll do one for my girlfriend when I come home tonight. There is an open bar…

Or not. Swallowing sadness feels like a valid survival strategy.

Maaayun, it was so nice having a long weekend to not be at work. Now I’ve gotta wait until the next one rolls around to once again get that level of fulfilment. I’ve got a whole three days time to bide and it’s gonna be a hard slog. My Big Sis (in law) will be in town on Friday and I’m taking the day off work so I can spend more than an hour in her presence. If she’s coming all the way from New Zealand, it seems worth loosing one vacation day from my holster. I mean, when do I ever take vacation anyway (he says having just returned from Portland a mere few weeks ago)? This Friday I do. Will, I mean. Anyway, October’s a big month full of things more exciting to go on about than my ever-mounting disillusionment about having achieved naught as I propel onwards towards irrelevance with each passing day. That’s not totally fair. At worst my rotting corpse will make for top notch worm food!

October! It’s grand! With the changing of the leaves comes a host of fun activities. Funtivities for short. Funtives for even shorter. I don’t know how you roll. This week involves Friday the 13th, which means I’m gonna catch up with my aforementioned Big Sis. That’s some excitement. In terms of local Toronto events there’s always Drunken Cinema’s Friday the 13th event. The last one I went to was bonkers. Absurd game rules that seem to openly encourage the pursuit of alcohol poisoning. I’ve always wondered what’s so sinister about Fridays? Why don’t we celebrate Saturday the 14th with the same cursed dread? It’s the weekEND, right? Endings are sinister. Or Thursday the 12th? You still have another day left in the workweek. Wouldn’t that feel like death for those who live for weekends? Why does Friday have such shitty PR? There’s just one restaurant chain that’s stoked about Fridays? One undead dude in a hockey mask has ruined them for the rest of us? On that note, does Jason even play hockey? What gives?

The following week is time to get fancy. Hush Hush Toronto is a library fundraiser that’s both hoity and toity. Last year I even bought a suit for it. This year I’ll most likely just re-wear the suit. I don’t bleed money or anything. I don’t know what the tagline “One night. No boundaries” means. It sounds sinister. Should I be packing a hockey mask in case things go down? Preparation in the event of a fight erupting over the last hors d’oeuvre? The theme is apparently “the beautiful landscapes we call home”. If anyone asks, my blue suit is specifically sky themed. I can pretend to have some modicum of class and that my life isn’t crumbling around me with every waking breath. I didn’t study acting in high school for nothing. Unless my inevitable career trajectory shoots towards becoming a super villain. In that case, my monologuing skills are on point.

Then in the final week of October, we have Halloween! The greatest holiday all year! A time when everyone looks as ghoulish on the outside as my life prospects are! I’m at least a little unsure why each of these sentences is ending in an exclamation mark! Can I escape the loop by asking a question? It seems so…

No, I still don’t know how I’m gonna dress for Halloween. Perhaps as the evocation of my constant dread? I’m sure that will make everything feel better!

On an unrelated note, maybe it’s time to go back to therapy.

Let’s get some gin and Jewice up in this bitch!

I just realised that we have guests arriving for Thanksgiving in 50 minutes. I’m currently in my underwear. I have my 30 minutes of writing to do, plus I need a shower. This is gonna be tighter than that time I tried to remove my polyprops after exercising in them. Serious graft vs host kind of stuff. I thought they were gonna melt back into milk bottles.

The turkey is in the oven! It’s been cooking away for a bunch of hours now. Turkey is my nemesis. This’ll be the third thanksgiving we’ve hosted and I’m crossing my fingers that this is the year we get it right. For two years we tried slow cooking it. It was decent, but not amazing. Last year we did our first oven turkey but it was pretty dry. DISSAPOINTED, as Kevin Sorbo might say. This year I’m taking a mixed approach. I’m pulling aspects of a bunch of different recipes in the hopes that it’ll all come together well. Conventional wisdom tells me that sticking with one method and following it to the letter is probably the smartest idea. Who am I to follow convention? We tried a dry brine, which was basically covering it in a combination of rock salt and baking powder. Here’s hoping it retains all the moisture. After 4.5 days in the fridge, the deepest cavities were still a little frosty. I pulled all the gizzards out, which felt like a daring dance with frostbite. I salted the interior then crammed it full of chopped onion, celery and garlic cloves. I zested a lemon (after years of lusting after a proper lemon zester, I finally got one in New Zealand earlier this year. Fuck all that microplane noise) and shoved it in the gap.

Next up, I got a stew going. Every turkey prep photo I saw from friends had the bird resting on a bed of chopped veggies. I followed suit, chopping carrots, celery and onions to make a nice little meal mattress. I covered it in chicken stock, assuming that the resulting medley would maybe resemble chicken soup at the end? Or at least give some flavour to the eventual gravy. I mixed crushed garlic with the residual lemon zest, pepper and olive oil, then got the gobblemonster all slicked up. Getting right underneath the skin and all around. This was gonna be some fragrantly pleasant poultry. I’m periodically basting it (around every 45 minutes or so) in the hopes that this year we’ll finally get that delicious moist turkey meat we’ve always dreamed of. At the last check (with 45 minutes of cooking left to go) the skin was golden brown. Internal temperature of the breast and outer thigh measured 165°, while the inner thigh was closer to 145°. Things are on track. As advised by the main recipe I’m following, since the breast is getting cooked quicker than everything else, I’ve loosely covered it in tin foil to disperse the heat. Are we on track for maximum moistness? God only knows.

It’s gonna be a more cosy affair than previous years. While in the past we’ve had unruly numbers, this year we’re down to a svelte ten people. My hope is that there’s still room to move in the kitchen. That we’ll be close enough to be able to hear one another talk over the din of dinner. That we won’t end up with a ridiculous overwhelming cacophony. That maybe we’ll create a space where people feel open to sharing intimate conversation. If the point of the evening is to bring together those who don’t have family around, what better than spreading warmth in bellies and hearts?

Plus it’s the best excuse for our traditional Manischewitz appreciation. Because what’s a celebration of rampant and brutal colonialism without a little bit of cultural appropriation?

Personally I think I hit a house run.

Well folks, turns out I’m old. I had a spicy burrito and got heartburn, which was mildly irritating for the rest of the night. Alas, my youth has fled and with it, my innocence.

I swear I never used to get heartburn before I reached my late 20s. Perhaps New Zealand had a natural invisible barrier that protected me. Or maybe my body, before growing ancient and feeble, produced the necessary antacids on its own. Now we just have Tums, which honestly I’m kind of fine with. If my reward for suffering mild heartburn is to eat candy, then SEND ME THAT HEAT, BABY. However last night as I was out and about to watch comedy, I didn’t have Tums on me. I sort of wanted ice cream to combat the burn, then I started questioning a world where my desire for ice cream stemmed from anything but a desire to be eating ice cream. Ice cream is like frozen joy. It’s the laughter of a child distilled into a foodstuff. It tastes like refracted light, but also sometimes you get weird flavours like garlic. Ice cream should be the reason for anything, rather than needing a reason for ice cream.

N. E. Weigh.

If it wasn’t apparent by now, I’ve reached the point of the festival where my rational mind has fled. Perhaps due to sleep deprivation, alcohol or too much caffeine, last night I went on a dumb Full House joke tear. It started out so simply:

Already reached the point of the festival where I’m doing bits in regular conversation. May Stamos have mercy on my soul.

Cute, right? Because Stamos’ catchphrase is “Have mercy”? I thought so. Primarily I just liked the idea that Stamos would be so method that to this day he still said his catchphrase in everyday life. Don’t worry, things got worse:

At Thanksgiving is John Stamos all “Have Merci”?

Do you think if Dave Coulier had a tumour he’d go to the specialist and be all “cut it out”?

If John Stamos was a Colosseum editor, would his judgement be “Half Mercy”?

To be honest, I had to do a little bit of research for that one. I didn’t really know the veracity of the film Gladiator and whether or not the emperor would judge the games. Turns out the title was called “editor”. The moar you know, eh?

Do you think if Mary Kate/Ashley Olsen were Westworld hosts working at the brothel and a guest asked for A Sex they’d be all “You got it, dude”?

I’d always remembered that Dude Ranches existed, but I had no idea what Dude really meant in this context. Was it just a cowboy? Once again, I did some more research (okay, so I went on Wikipedia) and discovered that Dude is another name for city slickers. So then I needed to figure out some kind of scenario where MK&A would not only be in the (wiki wiki) Wild Wild West, but in some kind of service position. I’m watching Westworld at the moment and it clicked. Then I realised that despite them being fully formed adults with realised existences, the world might cringe a little at the idea of former child stars being sex workers. Which is stupid, of course, sex work is real work and people are overly too averse to sexuality. So I softened the language to the childish “A Sex”. Also because it sounded funny to me.

Do you think if Jodie Sweetin asked some guy for his daughter’s hand in marriage and he said no she’d be all “How Rude” and marry her anyway?

I just wanted an excuse to think about this sublimely written article about why that song is such a pile of fuck.

Also maybe I need to go get ice cream now.

Just for Flasks, then?

And we’re off. JFL42 is in full swing and it just so happens to coincide with the busiest part of my work year. *Half-hearted cheer*. If by some grace of a higher power (or substance abuse) I manage to not go insane, these next ten days could be quite fun. Or the beginning of severe dependence issues.

John Mulaney was a hell of a way to start. The consummate comic, sure to be a palate cleaner before the cavalcade of straight white dudes thinking that edginess for edginess’ sake is a novel point of view. His opener Max Silvestri was great. It was easy to see why Mulaney picked him to open. He had a similar physicality and vocal playfulness. His punch lines were creative and well set up. I’d be happy to check him out during the rest of the festival, though realistically I’ve already seen half of his set.

Mulaney himself was everything I’d hoped. He’s a total professional and cripplingly funny. There was this bit he had about wanting to be friends with everybody that resonated so strongly with me. For a split second I thought I was the one onstage, but then wondered why I had such an impressive wingspan. His material was excellent, in the sense that it was specific and personal enough to be novel, but broad enough to be relatable. He had this phenomenal extended bit about school assemblies (in particular the stranger danger ones) that was perfect. I finally got to hear the full iteration of his Trump horse loose in a hospital bit, which really sung when taken out of its truncated late-night form. It was impressive to see how much he did with so little too. One of his stories involved a Mick Jagger impression. Thing is, there were no extended diatribes or anything. A few words here and there, maybe a short sentence. The level at which he sold that impression though, was something to behold. Even if it was a word or two, his posture shifted, mouth morphed, voice and demeanor instantly recognisable. I’m sure he spent hours refining it, but he sold the shit out of an impression that at times lasted fewer than three words.

I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not actually doing coverage this year, that this whole festival is purely a leisure activity. I’m so reigned to my previous mentality that it feels like my duty to work the system and try to catch everything I can. To make sure I’m seeing a diverse range of acts and really taking advantage of what the festival has to offer. Without door list privileges this year, I need to expend much more mental energy ensuring I get all the acts I want. Ironically, not doing press almost feels like more work.

Wait, if this is for fun, does that mean I can relax and have a drink? This might not be so bad.

If I was to put together a personal ad, “Miserly, loves company” would be my tagline.

And reality comes crashing back in. While it’s tempting to grumble about how returning to work makes me want to walk out a window, we’re only five stories up. That’s more trouble than it’s worth. So let’s try and figure out positive things about being back home.

  • Life is cheaper. Do you know how goddamn expensive it was to go away for a week? I’m sure if I wasn’t such a lazy mook I could’ve put effort into keeping my costs down, but you can clearly see my use of the conditional above. I spent a fuckton. Close to $100 USD per day, which is absurd. Let’s not forget that I was spending at least $10 a day on coffee, let alone booze, food and whatever activities floated my boat (or submarine, as the case may have been. Now that I’m home, I can scrimp and save and be as miserly as I desire.
  • Friends. Miserly loves company (see what I did there?). I had a great time in Portland, but there’s no skirting around the fact that for significant portions of the week I felt lonely as shit. I thrive on human connection and the absence took its toll. A big part of what keeps my running is feeling fulfilled by my close relationships (whether romantic or otherwise). Now that I’m home, I can reconnect with everyone I missed on my date with the Northwest.
  • Girlfriend. Yes, we’re nuanced autonomous people with lives of our own, but we’re also a massive part of each other’s lives. She’s the last person I see before I go to bed and the first person I see in the morning. We share food, cat feeding responsibilities and naked body heat. She tolerates all my dumb jokes and touches my butt. These are vital components of being human, people. While I had a blast checking out Portland, I also missed the fuck out of her. When you get so used to sharing space and skin with someone, it’s hard being without them for too long.
  • Other Magic Decks. I was so stoked to have brought my Chainer, Dementia Master deck on holiday with me. It gave me an excuse to meet people while travelling. I stopped in at a few local game stores and had an amazing night at Tonic Lounge’s “Monday the Gathering” evening. The deck over-performed, exceeding my expectations. It was reactive and surprisingly resilient, with the capacity to win out of nowhere. I also have a ton of other decks, none of which got to come on vacation. Hazezon, my pride and joy. Ruric Thar, the deck that still hasn’t found its potential. Hapatra, which is proving to be scarily formidable. I miss my playgroup, where the meta has evolved to reward tight plays while still being fun and friendly.
  • Being active again. After blisters created a pincer formation on my right foot, I started walking funny (not silly. It’s an important distinction) to avoid the pain. I guess it engaged the wrong muscles, because I pulled something. I developed a limp, stifling my speed and hindering my progress in navigating Portland on foot. it also meant my plans of jogging to keep active and work off the beer went unfulfilled. I felt slow and bloated, which didn’t help my mood. I’ve found in recent years that my state of mind is often contingent on a certain amount of physical activity. Not getting that meant I moped around more than would’ve been ideal. Towards the end of the trip I managed to locate the stretched muscle and rehabilitate it myself, but I wasn’t instantly better. It’s finally sorted itself out enough for me to get back to the gym. Maybe I’ll skip the weigh in today though. Baby steps.
  • Toronto Events. Competitive Erotic Fanfiction tonight. Father John Misty is on Monday. JFL42 begins on Thursday. Life in Toronto is constantly moving at a rapid pace and it runs in tandem with my heartbeat. It’s great to be away on holiday, but Toronto is home. That sure counts for something.

Most importantly, it’s the end of a Friday workday and I won’t have to think about being miserable at my job for another two days. Life is pretty sweet, when you think about it.