Do birds eat flapjacks?

If the Snapchat Ghost has a tongue, does it have a digestive tract?

Today’s million dollar idea: A matchmaker private eye show. A clever but troubled Japanese PI delves deep into the yenta lifestyle in order to combat their deep seated loneliness. They use unconventional means to find the exact match for their clients. So I guess it’s kind of like House too. They’ll raid trash bins, hack computers and national databases, sting operations (thinking To Catch A Predator) to weed out bad traits. Let’s see, what could be the catch. Oh, I know, they only deal with the uber rich and famous. Wait for it… it’s ’cause they need to find people to love them authentically rather than just for their money.

Why does the matchmaker drop out from the PI world? Maybe they have some kind of health problem. Like they have a crazy rare disease that can only be cured by an exorbitantly expensive designer drug. Definitely trust issues too. But under their stony exterior they have a heart of gold, which is why they can only match clients who are filled to the brim with goodness. Oooh, maybe they could match LGBT+++ clients whose out status would make them a target for hate or something? And their father is an ultra conservative politician. Like, The President or something. And we’ll call it… Private Ai. Cause her name is Ai.

I need a writer’s room, stat!

Speaking of things that were made without the aid of a writer’s room, I saw this trailer last night and it looks so fucking dumb. It’s called Hotel Artemis. They’ve basically taken the idea of the armistice hotel from John Wick and turned it into a fully fledged film. This time, however, it’s a hospital instead. Even better, it’s my absolutely favourite type of action film. A SIEGE FILM. So criminals/assassins have to fortify a location without weapons against an invading mob force bent on getting some expensive MacGuffin. Expect martial arts chicanery and a complete abuse of the laws of physics. Also a fucking STACKED cast that makes no sense in such a throwaway film. Jodie Foster, Jeff Goldblum, Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta), Jenny Slate, Charlie Day, Zachary Quinto and weirdly, Father John Misty himself.

Why does this movie exist? Can I even wait until cheap Tuesday to get a ticket?

Oh, on the subject of tickets, if you’re in Toronto you should get some for my friend’s show. I’ve shilled for it before and I won’t stop until it’s over. It’s called Avengerdale: Age of Archie. Post Infinity War, The Avengers do some kind of witness protection or something as teachers at Riverdale. It’s a rock opera comedy that’s ALSO a charity event. As an audience, you can buy drinks for the actors. The more they drink, the harder it gets for them to perform their roles. Hilarity ensues, everybody wins! Really though, my friend is an absurdly talented playwright and dramaturge. Everything I’ve seen of his has been spectacular and this is sure to be a spectacle. GET TICKETS. ENJOY. ?????? PROFIT.

Speaking of Charity, it’s a great new song by Courtney Barnett. Enjoy!

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I guess a perfect Sunday would’ve had even more cheese

Let’s begin. I think I was drunk earlier today and I’m hoping I’ve sobered up enough to put coherent word to digital paper.

I’m not sure how much I’ve spend on food/drink/entertainment this weekend. My guess is close to $200. That might be an extravagant guess, but I’m mildly concerned it isn’t. My belly is very happy. I’ll be even happier once the food has moved its way out of my body. This morning my girlfriend and I went off for brunch with our Toronto family. It was amazing. I don’t wanna use that word lightly, but I feel like it fits here. We brought Prosecco and made mimosas. They were the least decadent thing on the table. There was cheese and crackers. They’d set out both bagels and challah loaf for all of our bread-y needs. There was a wonderful salmon and cheese bake, vegan hashbrown casserole thing, coleslaw with apple and cranberries and a pseudo caprese salad thing. If we’d gone to a restaurant, we’d have been astounded by the meal. This was much better, since we got to share conversation with beloved family we hadn’t seen in maybe six months or so. It’s Toronto, “busy” is everyone’s neutral state.

Next up was the live Doug Loves Movies show. Remember yesterday when I talked about the cool The Leon Demon name tag I made? Well it didn’t get chosen by any of the guests. Poop. I was so psyched too. I spent ages spitballing with my girlfriend over who my “shithead” should be. I joked that Hitler would be a fun choice on a meta level. Like, isn’t he the poster child for shitheads? Isn’t it an answer so obvious that nobody would ever pick it, thus making it kind of funny and unexpected? I wasn’t sure, so I went for Jordan Peterson. I’d say he could go fuck himself, but I don’t want him having any pleasure, self-directed or otherwise.

The show was a fucking sweaty riot. Mark Forward, Kayla Lorette and [some random knowledgeable audience member]. It was a fun mishmash with endless riffing. The audience member was getting a little ranty and Forward was reciprocally antagonistic. It was a fun dynamic. At one point Kayla turned to the audience member and asked “how does it feel becoming the villain in your home city?” The mood was less aggressive than I made it sound. The audience member did a great job on the games, but Kayla came out ahead. Mark mostly cracked wise the whole time. There was a ton of great creativity with audience name tags (and a fair number of candy based bribes) and the two hours went past in a breeze. Everyone also sweat their balls off on a day Toronto turned the heat up to 11. Wait, that’s not particularly high in Celsius. Maybe 30 degrees is more accurate. I had maybe three beers, which weren’t helping with the sweat-age.

After the show, I got a burrito with friends then we headed off to the park to meet up with some others. We spun hula hoop (and at the age of 31, I finally learned how. I was just putting too much force into it), poi and staff. We did some handstands, cartwheels and round offs. We basically just goofed around a bunch in good company.

Honestly, I don’t think I have the imagination to conceive of a more ideal Sunday.

If looks could skill

How did you spend your Saturday morning? If you answered “mildly hungover I half-assedly taught myself super basic photoshop” then we’re probably twins and we should go out into the world and play twin pranks.

Because my body told me five hours was ample sleep for a weekend (they don’t call ’em “sleepends”), I woke up with purpose. I was gonna try to learn how to make my Doug Loves Movies poster goddammit. I had my idea, I had paint.net (basically a freeware low-rent photoshop. I can’t recommend it enough) and I had nothing else valuable to do with my time. The perfect recipe for creativity. I started by finding a high res image of the original film poster. Then to get it out of the way, removed the “N” from the title and copied the “E” to make an “L”. I fine tuned the edges by alternating between the dropper tool and small tipped paintbrush. This was some serious pixel shit. I trawled Facebook for a useable photo of me (the only one where I’m not copping a big dumb smile) and got to work. I added my face as a layer and sized it with her normal face. I drew corresponding white lines to those of the poster and trimmed off the sides of my face that would otherwise be out of bounds. For far too long I did this using the “overwrite” function on the paintbrush, before remembering that the best way to erase was just using the “erase” tool like any non-insane person. With my head sized right, I trimmed right around the edges to keep it as flush as possible with her face.

Then came the interesting part, with the face layer completed, I wanted to try and recreate the key lighting effect from the poster. I made a new layer to create a gradient of red/purple from the top left (getting the specific colours with the dropper tool). It took a bit of tooling around with hues, but eventually I had it figured out. I made yet another gradient layer to get light on my face from the bottom right. It wasn’t nearly the same as the gorgeous saturated light effect, but it was something. Then came the pedantic bit. I got the eraser tool out and went all the way around my face on the first gradient layer, basically separating the gradient that was on my face to that outside of it. I did the same on the next gradient layer, so I had my facial gradients and all the wasted stuff on the outline. Then came the fun part, where I got to increase the eraser footprint to the size of a fucking tree and clear off all the unnecessary gradients, so I just had the light on my face. I then went into the layer options for each gradient and put them to “glow”.

Voila, I was done!

Now if I had any standards, I’d put more work in. I feel like I didn’t really understand the layer opacity functions until after I’d done all the incredibly finicky outlining. By that point I flat out couldn’t be bothered going back to set a new gradient, because I’d have to do all the outlining again. If I’d done it I would’ve cranked the colour saturation right to the brink and softened the layer opacity to compensate. Maybe I’d use the lasso select to give myself purple eyeliner and make my features pop a little more instead of blandly sitting under the layer. Maybe I’d even do work on my lips to make them stand out. I dunno, as someone who knows nothing, the concept of digitally giving myself makeup is a little intimidating. I’ve got so many plans in the next 24 hours, I barely have time to print it. Still, for two or so hours of my life, I’m happy enough with the outcome. It’s a lot better than the cut/paste job I was planning on doing initially.

I certainly didn’t expect to end today with a whole new skill.

Definitely lower case on that whole “skill” word.

I guess normalised nudity is in my rear-view too

All good things come to an end. I mean, shit things do too, but that’s beside the point. We’re on the road, leaving an unforgettable weekend behind. Taking nothing but the memories and excessive quantities of snacks we brought. So long, and thanks for all the MOOP.

It’s hard to succinctly summarise such an expansive, weekend of endless experiences. I don’t have the wherewithal to explain the complicated feelings of sadness over leaving it all behind, while craving so much the touch of my partner and the four walls in which we’ve made our lives. Can someone make me a German compound word for it? I think there’s beauty in the transitory nature of such a vibrant ecosystem. I woke up this morning and looked across the vast fields of tents and structures. In eight hours it’d all be gone, the Leave No Trace team doing their damnedest to preserve the land that’d given us so much.

Hyperborea was like altered reality. An extended weekend with no egregious interactions. Everyone greeted me with a smile or a hug. Their generousity was bountiful, encouraging sincere reciprocation. Any time I could help a stranger or do a favour felt like a gift. Like called to like and I loved being able to give of myself. There was nothing but greenlighting. The principle of radical self-expression wholly invited offers of creativity without judgement. If someone was to strip naked and dance around the fire, cheers would erupt. If one was to start singing, others would join. A vibrant celebration of individuality and reminder that none of us are truly alone. An overabundance of affection and faith in the human spirit. How do I not embrace total strangers with a consensual hug and a peck on the cheek?

I don’t know how I’m supposed to sit in a cubicle tomorrow. What does it feel like to not live communally? To hold in thoughts and not speak your mind liberally? To be so bound by social conventions and polite niceties? To have to wear clothes at all times? To hide your individuality behind the shell of who people want you to be? Who am I when I’m not being me? Or is the real question, how do I be the most me I can be while playing inside the structures of others? I was wrestling with identity while staring into the burning effigy. Now I’m contemplating what parts of me were sparked by the events of Hyperborea. What path will this take me down? Are there lessons to take away in order to enrich my life?

The trip isn’t far enough in my rear-view for me to see how I’ve changed, but I know for sure that I have. As we watched the temple burn last night I looked around the circle. The air was still and quiet. I traced the faces of all assembled, diving back into endless transient memories. Conversations and meals shared. Dance and massage partners. Experiences both ephemeral and lasting. As I gave of myself, so too did they leave part of themselves with me. Much as this all sounds like nonsense, I did preface it by saying it was hard to explain. If this is my self-expression, I don’t want it to be anything less than radical.

‘Cause Hyperborea surely wasn’t.

Good ol’ fashioned effigyniality

I’m not entirely sure what I expected out of a Burn, but I don’t think I could’ve planned for any of it.

It’s been so interesting entering wildly different spaces. No matter the theme camp, the unifying factor seems to be an overwhelming generousity of spirit. An excess of gifting, both emotional and of tangible goods. Walking through the grounds, I find myself hustled over by well meaning folk. “We’re having a bacon party” they’ll say. An array of treats greet your eyes. Bacon wrapped marshmallows smothered in chocolate. Cream cheese bacon dip, chocolate covered bacon bit shot glasses filled with vanilla and apple whiskey. An angel stops by the camp every morning with home baked cookies. A cornucopia of culinary delights. Spicy tequila shots, distilled spirits, sangria, midnight poutine, crepes, cold brew and that’s just the fucking tip of the iceberg. Oh, and iceberg lettuce in the free salad bar. My stomach and heart have been so gosh darn replete.

The generousity of activities are a marvel too. Octomassage was something else. Eight people rotating giving the person in the centre a simultaneous massage. Eight sets of hands on your body was an enveloping sensory experience. Everything was consent based, with participants aiming to give the massagee their desired physical release. Having hands on your shoulders, upper back, feet and butt at the same time was unreal. There was such a sense of goodwill, with no ulterior motive outside of making the face down participant feel as great as possible. Especially after having received such a boon, it was gratifying to be able to give back and help others access the same joy.

The most intense experience, however, was the burning of the effigy. I came in cynical about city hippies coming out to the country to set shit on fire. When it came time for the effigy to burn, I was taken in completely. Seeing ashes blow into the night sky, strata falling apart, all consumed by the encroaching flame, it stirred something inside. I began to question the person I needed to become and what I’d have to give up in order to get there. The pain of separation a thousand times over. A life of constant death and rebirth, finding myself again and again. One of our blissful connections, a French Canadian dude, came over to talk to me about the Maori gods. It brought up feelings of regret, guilt. Had I abandoned my homeland? What had I taken with me? Was I too proud to admit the pain of separation? Had my resolution in leaving been the right path? I stared into the flames and wept uncontrollably, wondering when it was I’d find my path in life, instead of the purgatory of aimless drifitng. I found comfort in the arms of my friends as I sobbed into their shoulders. I unravelled, cut open to the world with a vulnerablity I’m not sure I’ve ever felt.

Something in me shifted, and I’ve got no idea how it’s settled. I feel different this morning, attuned with my body and trusting that my mind will follow. I spent time in the sauna, sweat dripping out of my pores. As my bodily fluids drained, I felt something leave me, as if a possession had lifted. I’ve remained naked throughout the day. I joined friends in the field doing naked yoga. I lay bare underneath the sun to feel connected. I’m starting to feel centred. As if I’m coming back to rediscover who it is I am. I’ve got no idea what it is I’ll find beneath the surface, but I know I’m ready for something different.

With no concept of what’s burned away, I’m excited and scared to know what’s left.

For future reference, the correct answer is Bulbasaur

So far camping has gotten better.

After yesterday’s morning grumpfest and sleep deprivation, I was in a dark place. My mattress deflating, tent collapsing, entrapping me in a tomb of poles and canvas. I took in the panorama of joy around me and felt very alone. It was not an ideal start to the trip.

I willed myself to move through the negativity and into a place of nihilistic humour. We’re all gonna die someday, so hey, I’m on track. Then community came to the rescue. I felt shitty that I’d offered a friend both space on my mattress and in my tent. Circumstances had forced me to forfeit both. It was like I’d promised the Earth and arrived with a handful of ashes. My friends took stock and little by little, we worked together to bring me back to the fold. My friend was driving up, so I got her to grab an air mattress en route. Another friend offered us the plounge tent to sleep in. My friend arrived with a small tent which we used to store our gear (and presently, my “office”). We set everything up and the weight lifted. I looked around to see the abundant sun and colours in all directions. I let go of resentment and fear to just be present. Then I spent six hours doing my sanctuary shift. Six hours was a long time to sit there without anyone coming to us for help, but I guess overall it was for the greater good that we weren’t needed? It was great that nobody was having a bad time, but it sure would’ve been nice to help someone.

Then my shift ended and so did my need to be sober. I had a couple of drinks and went adventuring with friends. There’s a massive metal polyhedron that you can climb. It rolls around, so part of the fun is trying to hold on. I did all sorts of hanging shenanigans and pull up-y tricks. Then I met my friends who were experienced hoop artists and we mucked around some more. My arms are certainly feeling it today. We looked around at some of the camps. I did axe throwing, choosing from their array of 72 (!) weapons. I was a contestant on the Trash Fence TV Dating Game. The potential date was kind of uncharismatic, but the two other contestants were friends. We riffed with each other and wondered out loud why we didn’t all just go on a date. The only question I can remember answering was “What pop culture character would you describe yourself as and why?” I don’t know where I pulled this from, but I responded immediately with “Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors. Because my hunger is insatiable.” The crowd went wild. When it came time for each of the contestants to ask the potential date a question, I posited “What pokémon did you start with?” She responded “Uh, I didn’t play Pokémon, so I don’t know?” Straight away I put my hands up, yelled “I’m out!” and faux walked off the stage. When it came time for her to choose which suitor to date, the crowd was cheering my name. She did not choose me. I’d had such a blast that I didn’t care one iota. Then post show a bunch of people came up to give me hugs. My heart swelled three sizes.

We spent a couple of hours dancing up a frenzy, then chilled way out. Our friends had procured a magnum of champagne, so we settled into a plounge and formed a big cuddle puddle until the wee small hours. It was such a lovely night, and I even managed to get a good sleep this morning.

I think I’m getting a hang of this camping thing, guys.

Any May showers I have will be solar showers. It’s campin’ time!

I was meant to be sleeping right now, but here we are.

To put a ribbon on last night, I did not get any corn dogs. I checked back in hours later, LSV was drafting an insane deck in an 11 year old set, oddly sweaty. A room full of Magic the Gathering hall of famers were blissfully drunk singing along to Chat’s song requests. Respected MtG theorist Patrick Chapin was rapping and author Brandon Sanderson donated $3500 to their St Jude charity drive. It was quite the night. Catch up here if you want.

I intended to finish packing for Hyperborea last night. It seems every time I walk into a room I remember something else I’d forgotten. At 7am, it was TUMS. I made an alarmingly spicy chilli (for those paying attention, I’ve finally decided one the “Double L” spelling) to share and I don’t want to give everyone stomach ulcers. For someone who comes from a country with a sometimes sub 20 minute burn time (thanks, hole in the Ozone layer), it took a strangely long time for me to think about bringing a hat. I chose one of my girlfriend’s big floppy garden hats. It’s yellow and sports a handy wire frame in case I want to pose extravagantly. I’m camping, isn’t that what camping’s all about?

Really though, I just need ice. I think. I say “I think” because clearly after I write I’m gonna walk into another room and remember something else I’d forgotten. It’s gonna be a rollercoaster couple of days. I’ll try to update daily (the cyberpunk camp is offering free wifi), but I may end up posting all my entries after I return. I’m making a big effort to be present while I’m there. I don’t want to have internet access. I’m intending to forget about the outside world for a few days and take in everything I can. I’ve low key half wanted to go to Burning Man for a while but always felt intimidated. This Toronto burn seems like an ideal litmus test to figure out whether that curiosity could coalesce into something greater. So yes, I’m gonna try out blacksmithing. I’ll probably get an eight person massage at Octomassage. Maybe I’ll figure out a story to tell at the Shameful Storytelling room. If I’m gonna be there, why not be there entirely?

I’m not sure what the weekend will hold and that brings more comfort than anything. I’ve felt static for so long that I need something to pull me out of this rut. It might be ambitious to expect more than a weekend of partying, but really I’d love to emerge at the end with renewed perspective. When I returned from Austin earlier this year, everything seemed so clear. Impositions around me seemed like mild inconveniences rather than aggressive boundaries. I felt lifted, not constricted and I’d love to recapture that sensation. It’s because of this that I want to dive into all things new. Perhaps one or more of those will bring a sense of purpose with them. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find out that blacksmithing was my calling all along. Or helping people in Sanctuary will ignite a need to help others. I could even find whatever niche it is that I fill and run headlong towards a future in pursuance of it.

Really though, I’d be surprised and charmed if I didn’t merely bring back a body full of bug bites.