Let’s hope it all comes out in the wash

If you wanted to know how my day’s going, I pointed to a dishwasher with an “out of order” sign and said “working hard, or hardly working?”

I expect that was as clear as it needed to be.

Felt a little raw today, so of course I watched my go-to short film that reduces me to a pile of emotional rubble. It just felt apt, y’know? It’s a wonderful, self-contained short story that epitomises show don’t tell. Gorgeous music, sans dialogue, preciously fragile animation and a slow beating open heart. No matter how many times I watch it, I still choke up. The pacing is phenomenal, a slow build that adds layer after layer. The best part is how it gives you as much as it needs to in order to hint at depths beneath the surface. It’s bittersweet, cute and heartbreaking simultaneously. So, perfect Tuesday fare, I guess?

Speaking of stuff that was good for the heart, I’m glad I went out to the open mic after all. It wasn’t precisely an open mic, but it was a terrific showcase of the kind of creativity inherent to Toronto’s alt comedy scene. The general notion was that of a late night talk show, but completely improvised. As it was a benefit (ish) show, performers and viewers alike were encouraged to bring a can or two to donate. The hosts had a couch and invited people to take part. People could write anonymous “monologue” jokes for one of the hosts to blind read (which resulted in maybe eight “Baby It’s Cold Outside” jokes. “Have you heard about this” certainly loses its lustre after the fourth “Baby It’s Cold Outside” joke in a row). This in itself was a riot. People had all of five minutes to write their jokes before the show started. Most of them were pretty terrible, and the host had a great time ripping on the underdeveloped punchlines, but it was all in good sport. Nobody was taking anything too seriously, and the douchebaggery was altogether limited.

The performance slots they offered were divided into two options. You could either do a stand up set for three minutes, or sit on the couch and riff with the hosts for five. Most people opted for the increased time, which led to a series of wonderfully phoned in “interviews”. A bunch of people had pre-written bits they tried to weave in, but primarily people were wanking around, so to speak. Someone bought his phone onstage and watched the first three or so minutes of Inglorious Basterds with the hosts. Another guest tried to teach one of the hosts how to have “attitude”, mostly trying to goad him into saying “bitch” sassily, to the host’s constant protestations. The majority of the couch segments were straight up dumb and half-arsed, which honestly fit the show to a tee. I got entirely taken by a prank phone call bit in which the comic “called 911” and said there was a fire at the venue, then hung up. He had an actor friend at the back of the bar pretending to be the respondant and, honestly, I was totally suckered. It was a pretty mean-hearted joke, but goddamn if it wasn’t provocative.

You know what? I did fine. With three minutes, I didn’t do all the jokes I’d prepped, but I felt good about it. No jokes fell flat, every one of them got a response and the audience was warm. The vibe was friendly all over, and while I was pretty nervous, I was chuffed to be able to stand up without bombing. I’d spent the day stressing out. I’d spent the previous night lying awake with my eyes closed, trapped in circuitious thoughts. I was a total wreck, but performing felt like a release. I can’t say that I’m gonna dive in head first, heart full of fire, but I’m gonna get up again, sooner rather than later this time.

It’d be downright selfish to waste my best material on kitchen appliances, after all.

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They should start more poetry slams with “It’s time to slam now”

How often do you give thought to when the things you care deeply about arrived in your life?

That was an amazingly clunky sentence, but I swear there was something in it. Firstly, I want to state that I rarely do. I find this odd because firstly, I’m an obsessive navel gazer. just look at how many times I’ve written “I” in this paragraph alone. Secondly, it’s a bigger part of what makes you tick than you’d expect. Think about all the music that defined your teen years. What if you heard different bands instead? Think about the many character defining stories that shaped what excites you in life. Would you still be the same you if not for them? Who would you be? What part of those texts primed you to receive the world with your own earned worldview?

I’m a clusterfuck of a basketcase, likely because I was raised as a cartoon. This has nothing to do with casting aspersions on my upbringing, and everything to do with my childhood desire to replicate behaviours I respected most. Ergo, I became a cartoon. Larger than life reactions, odd responses and strange comic timing. A colossal portion of my personality is based on how I perceive humour. This all started with cartoons. Whether they were the endless Loony Toones reruns on Cartoon Network all day, or the Saturday Morning cartoons from Captain N: The Game Master to Bucky O’ Hare. I am my own special weirdo and that’s double-plus okay. It’s thanks mostly to the many, many cartoons I consumed during my years of major cognitive development.

I mention this because today, at the age of 31, I discovered a band that would likely have defined my late 20s had I known they existed. Okay, saying I discovered them today is mildly disingenuous. I’d half-heard of them before, but I didn’t really know them, y’know?

Discovering them went a little like this: I started listening to the latest Good One podcast with Rachel Bloom (of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fame). It centred around a Space Jam chorus line parody she wrote years back that helped lead towards the style of musical comedy she’d grow to inhabit. The podcast started with the sketch itself. Seven minutes into the podcast (before the joke itself had even finished) I remembered that some band once wrote a nine minute song recounting the plot of the movie Space Jam. So of course I abandoned ship and checked out the song (for far from the first time). Having listened to the song many times over the course of as many blue moons, I started wondering who this band was that had the hubris to commit such an audacious track to tape. I did a quick google and discovered that not only had they recorded the song, but they created an entire Space Jam EP on a dumb lark.

It turns out, Come On and Jam is actually fucking great. Sledding with Tigers are a musically talented San Diego folk punk band. The tracks are catchy and funny as hell. They manage to build premises based on silly plot points and expand them out into decent little jams (that’re at times oddly emotionally poignant). I listened, then immediately re-listened. The songwriting was on point and gave a hint to potential depth beyond 90s live action animation hybrid parody pop songs. If there is such a thing. Curious, I checked out some more of their stuff.

Once again, it turned out that they really were just an excellent band. Kind of like a softer Car Seat Headrest cum (in the Latin sense, pervert) Bright Eyes. Their songs spanned emotional insecurity, friendships and relationships, fear of opening up and pop cultural ephemera. Their discography is sweet, pleasantly twee and EXACTLY THE KIND OF MUSIC I WOULD’VE THRASED AT AGE 25+. 25 was the age where I finally began moving beyond my more edgelord-y proclivites and embracing a softer outlook. I got more in touch with my emotional IQ and sought out opportunities to connect more closely to others. I immediately went back to their Bandcamp and bought their entire discography for under 20. The songs are that good. I’ve been listening to three of their albums on repeat and I’m actively excited to download the rest when I get home. I think of who I am and the path it took me to get here. I wonder what that path might’ve looked like had this band been on my iPod. I am, once again navel gazing, proving maybe nothing would have changed at all.

But, I dunno, could they have?

I guess you could say I’m seeing more than one quack

I’m moody, for a change.

Frankly, I don’t know if I’m moody or irritable, but I’ve been vaguely on edge most of the day. I started the whole thing with therapy, which seems a conspicuous choice. Hey, you know how most of your days start with a base level of ennui where you habitually open your eyes and think oh great, this again? Why don’t you complement that with a 75 minute session of taking apart your constant mood swings and feelings of inadequacy? It’s like coffee, but the bitterness comes from self-loathing.

Look, I like therapy. I think it’s an incredibly helpful service that can either ease the weight of perceived burdens or give you the tools to dismantle them. Starting therapy with someone new SUUUUUUCKS. It’s especially compounded for me, where I already have a therapist, but benefits limitations inhibit me from seeing her more than three times a year unless I want to commit a bunch of money to it. Frankly, I should probably just commit the money to it because she’s very good at what she does. I have two sessions coming up with her over the next two weeks which is terrific, because by now we’ve built up the kind of rapport where we can tackle things rapidly and get to the core of them. Then I can probably book another few sessions at the start of the year with a refreshed benefits account and hopefully chain them together to actually work through my recent slump.

BUT that’s a really weird view of the horizon when you’re on your second session with a new therapist and have to work through the base level background. Why am I seeing a new therapist if I already have one? Because this one is covered by OHIP, which is an amazing privilege I don’t want to let pass me by. She seems to know what she’s talking about, even if I don’t feel the rapport as strongly as I initially did with my current therapist. Wait, is this new one my current therapist? I don’t know. This is a confusing and non-standard situation to be in. My old therapist tells jokes and gives me shit. I miss that. I guess that’s an earned relationship?

In other news, a friend just let me know that Disney is rebooting The Mighty Ducks as a TV show. I don’t know if they’re just intent on ruining the abundant affection I have for D2: The Mighty Ducks, but they’re doing a pretty good job. First things first, let’s hope they’re rebooting this absolute shitshow of a cartoon about alien ice hockey obsessed humanoid ducks who come to Earth and battle aliens with their ice hockey inspired weaponry. If that’s not the case and it’s instead live action, my next wish is for a Bash Brothers buddy cop show. Maybe they could team up with Casey Jones. Does Disney own Ninja Turtles yet? Or better yet, they could do a concept episode where baby Keenan Thompson hits a knuckle puck so hard that it flies right around the world and we follow it POV style as it befriends everyone it passes and creates world peace basically like a cross between War Horse and that 1971 Coke ad. Or even one where they fly to Vegas for Charlie’s wedding and they get super drunk and spend the entire time shouting “DUCKS FLY TOGETHER” and Coach Bombay vomits all down the aisle.

I guess what I’m saying, Disney, is that I will write all of these on spec at the drop of a hat.

Your move, Disney.

Clearly they should have employed a less talented cast

I read this article and thought it was pretty interesting.

The premise, if you’re too lazy to click, is that TV shows no longer “end”. Long dead shows now have the potential for a new incarnation, whether continuation or reimagining. If Murphy Brown can return in 2018, then every series is a potential Dr Who, regenerating with a new cast, but the same basic character. I’m not here to pass judgement (for once?), I just find the concept fascinating. Why? Well, mostly because I lacked anything else good to write about today.

If you know me well enough, I’m sure you’d immediately pick me as a “fuck reboots” kind of bloke. You’re not far off. Did we need another Robocop? Did we need another Robin Hood? Did we need another Full House? Did we need another Ocean’s 11? Did we need another Ghostbusters? Did we need another A Star Is Born? Did we need another Every Single Disney Film But In Live Action? I could keep doing that for the rest of the entry, but I think the point is well-tread. Originality in cinema feels like a relic of the past. A while back someone used the words “pre-sold” and it made everything click. Hollywood has been making progressively less money as the years have rolled on. Is it piracy? The decreasing spectacle of the big screen? Who knows? All I know is that there have been a shit ton of unnecessary remakes in the past ten years. Franchise building is a huge part of the cinema experience. There are the aforementioned Disney live action films, or the plethora of Marvel spin offs and projects. Legendary has some kind of big monster movie (Godzilla 2014, Kong: Skull Island, etc) thing going on. Pre-sold is what it says, it’s an easy way to ensure a certain segment of the audience. If it’s nostalgic or plays on a beloved property, a number of seats are basically sold irrespective of the film’s objective quality.

Do I think this is lazy bullshit? Yes. Do I think efforts would be better spent on supporting original IP like Get Out or Sorry to Bother You? Of course I do, but I’m not naiive. Hollywood is scared to invest in projects that may not make a return. It’s too much of a risk. Mid-Budget movies (this article mentions them briefly) don’t happen anymore. It’s Go Big or Go To Netflix. I’m also not dumb enough to think that only my tastes matter. You know what? A lot of people were stoked to see Beauty and the Beast rebooted for the big screen and there’s no reason I’d want to take that away from them. There’s nothing wrong with watching entertainment for entertainment’s sake, that’s kind of the point. The relentless onslaught of remakes and reboots doesn’t preclude me from getting the stories I want, so it’s not like there’s an issue there. I just won’t watch them. There’s exponentially more than enough content to go around.

I also think it’s interesting that the reliance on pre-sold IP can actually help buff out mythos’ that were otherwise undeveloped. Castlevania on Netflix is a good example. It was a video game with an unremarkable narrative. The first season isn’t great, but the second season really does develop a fun arc and characters that justify the setting. It’s an original plot that’s been birthed from one that was otherwise super bland. Similarly, I’ve heard that the new Voltron series is clever and engaging for kids, with excellent voice acting. While I’d usually balk at the idea of resurrecting an old IP instead of making something new, why shouldn’t our kids get to understand why we used to love this old shit? I’m happy to fence sit on this notion. I don’t have any answers.

Like I said earlier, I can always watch my own stuff, even if I consider it underappreciated. Part of me wishes it got more attention purely because it deserves it. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is still not a household name. Neither are Stephen Falk, Noah Hawley or Yorgos Lanthimos. Would I adore this stuff as much if it was watercooler conversation? I flat out don’t know. I do think it’d make watercooler conversation more gripping, at least.

I guess if I’m boiling it down, what guts me the most about this whole scenario is that most people don’t know what they’re missing out on and they don’t care. People are already happy with what they have. As far as they’re concerned, they’re getting what they want. There’s a new Star Wars film every year, so why worry about those universes they never explore? If it was good enough for them to hear about, they would.

I guess what I’m saying is, when’s the Community movie being released? We had six seasons.

Stan by your man

Like any film character before a monstrous transformation, I don’t feel so good.

Must be nice, is all.

I dunno. Would my life be served by shifting into an inhuman creature? Maybe. It seemed to work out for that sexy fishman in The Shape of Water (spoiler, I still haven’t seen The Shape of Water). If I could get extra appendages or the ability of flight that’d be pretty slick. I know a lot of animals have cool abilities that humans would only dream of. At Te Papa museum my girlfriend and I visited this wicked exhibit on insects. There was a type of flying insect that basically had precognition. Or at least it could rapidly analyse the vectors other organisms and predict their actions. Spider Sense, by any other name. How cool would that be?

On the topic of Spider Sense, I guess it’s worth thinking about Stan Lee a little. Like most men in positions of power, I have no doubts there were times he abused that power. I’ve heard allegations of sexual misconduct and I think we’ve seen enough of this to know they were likely true. I also know that it’s hard to place the sum of a person’s worth upon one aspect of them. We all have nuance. I’m not gonna all out galvanise the guy. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the myriad of times he pushed others out of the spotlight to improve the way he’d appear. At the same time, it’s not possible to trace the sheer hope and inspiration his creations (many co-created with the talented Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby of course) brought to those who found solace in his work. I’m sure a lot of what we consider trope-y was at the time revolutionary and boundary pushing. The X-Men stand in for almost any marginalised group. I know personally that my own resolve was strengthened by the notion that despite insurmountable odds at times, I’d never really be alone. It’s notable too that both Lee and Kirby, of Jewish birth, changed their last names for the purpose of mainstream acceptability. These characters they made, fighting for the downtrodden against oppression, existed in a world with the spectre of WW2 a faint memory. Whatever realm of moral compass I have, I know that being brought up with an array of heroic opinion leaders formed a large part of it. None of us are saints, but if we can leave this place a little better for having lived here, that seems like a worthwhile use of an existence.

I don’t know why I pulled the escape lever on that paragraph, it’s not like I have anything better to follow it up with. I’m feeling a bit green. Last night my stomach was topsy turvy. I thought I was just suffering the effects of an overspiced pasta dish and rice for two means in a row. I don’t eat a ton of complex carbs, I figured, my body was having a rough time processing them. My throat was scratchy and a little warm. I tried TUMS, then covered my bases with some oil of oregano. No dice. Who knows? I drank a lot Saturday night. Maybe I made out with an uncooked chicken and forgot about it. Today my throat has been uncomfortably hot and my energy levels have plummeted. Just all over fatigued. I’m fortunate I had very little work today and could easily work from home. It’s a luxury. I guess the real luxury would be working a job where I didn’t feel I needed to “show up” for the day when I was ill, because I didn’t want to pass my work onto my co-workers. But that would take a major societal overhaul whereby we stopped venerating martyrdom and suffering for the sake of your job. I’ve been in the position long enough that it’s a breeze for the most part, but tons of my newer co-workers still stay after hours, take lunch at their desk or skip eating for hours because they’re too busy. Maybe, as much of a luxury working from home is (and it is), it’s still part of an overall fucked up system.

Look, if I’m about to Hulk out, I’m here for it.

See you in the stars, Stan.

I do have a children’s Wolverine mask I bought from Dollarama

I’m planning and plotting RIGHT NOW. You don’t even know. Probably because I haven’t mentioned any of the details. Heck, you didn’t even know what I was plotting until I mentioned the fact that I was. Upon reflection, I don’t even know if plotting carries the connotations I’m looking for, so let’s revert back to planning. Because if everything comes together, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Did that sound clandestine? Blame me for following a thread I’d be quick to abandon. I’m doing a thing next weekend and I think I’d be served coming to the table with some ideas. I’m still being vague, ain’t I? Like I’m hiding behind some kind of… mask?

Look, I’m playing Masks: A New Generation on a friend’s Role Playing Game podcast. I don’t expect you to know what Masks is. I also don’t think you know my friend. I’d maybe hazard that you’d know what a Role Playing Game is (think Dungeons & Dragons), and podcasts are evergreen enough by now that I’d suppose you’d have heard of them. With that considered, a general rundown.

Masks is a game based around Halcyon, a city of heroes. Preceding generations have paved the way for a superpower aware society. The gold generation are long past, the silver generation are a little younger. They might be in their 40s-50s and possibly still operating in the city. Your squad are teenagers coming into their powers. It’s a volatile time for anyone on the verge of adulthood, but doubly so when you’re filled with warring motivations and parahuman abilities. The framework of the game allows for some detailed backstory and potential Acting, which seemed like a fun thing to take part in on a Sunday afternoon. If you’re interested in knowing a little more, try this link.

So I thought I’d brainstorm a couple of character ideas based around the different archetypes. I’m not making characters now, but maybe on the day I’ll think back to these and consider some of the concepts.

The Bull is your classic Big Guy in a Five Man Band. Driven by impulse, they’re strong and rush headlong into conflict. Typically they have a love and a rival. This archetype doesn’t super appeal to me, but I do like the idea of being an emotional glass cannon at a time when angst is rife. Maybe they could have skin that shifts elemental state based on emotion? Kind of like The Thing or Colossus, but with an added elemental state. Anger could case the skin to harden, sadness could weaken it and leave it vulnerable. This character would be at the mercy of their own mental state, but also highly susceptible to villains’ emotional attacks.

The Transformed is a character whose physical form has become twisted into an inhuman visage. Think a lycanthrope with no recourse back to true humanity. I typically really enjoy lycan type characters and the notion of turmoil with human vs animalistic nature. I’m kind of into the idea of some form of insectoid characteristics. Maybe Metamorphisis left some kind of imprint on me, but a cockroach could be neat. Truly disfigured, maybe a departure from previously attractive features. There’s some really disgusting stuff you could do with fighting base instincts. I’d have to do research, but this would give options of flight, maybe some kind of poison attacks or asexual reproduction to create minions. Who knows?

The Beacon is a character with no powers, but an overwhelming desire to enact heroics. Think Iron Man or Batman. Something drives you and vigilante activity is your everything. I’ve always had fascination with a character who has an innate, almost unnatural understanding of physics. It’d be cool to have a true daredevil, someone impulsive and a total slave to adrenaline. Maybe they had a life threatening situation they narrowly escaped from as a child and it forever altered the direction of their life. Very athletic by design, they’ve trained their entire life in the pursuit of heroism, but their motivations are anything but pure. Reckless to the core, it’s all about chasing that high. Could be a gambler, parkour, a throwing weapon they could use for rebounds like Captain America or Daredevil.

The Janus has a secret identity, and keeping it that way is of the utmost importance. I think this character could be neat as a total pedant. Perhaps very privileged and inflexible upbringing. They’ve always had everything they wanted, but it’s never been enough and they don’t know why. They could go their lives without working a day, but they’re lost, purposeless. Maybe a part of them has secretly felt like they’re not doing enough and it eats them up inside. Perhaps they see inequality, but it’s so far removed from their existence that they don’t know how to deal with it. They’re all about propriety, and it’s a challenge to break loose from that. I honestly don’t have any great justification as to why, but I’d really like a sound based character, maybe with the ability to manipulate waveforms in the air. They could make people hear things, mess with volume, create pressure and pain through overloading eardrums. Physically though, they wouldn’t be gifted. Why would they? They’ve never had to be.

It’s all stuff to think about, looking at central motivations and how powers fit into a character’s personality. I’m pretty excited to get rolling and figure out who I’m gonna be. What kind of mask will I wear?

That’s what we call soFistocation

I have a ton of costume prep to do, a decent amount of time in which to do it and equal amounts of trepidation.

Do you know who Fisto is? Well from the ages of 9-31, I don’t think I did either. I’m sure I was probably a fan as a kid. The Heroic Master of Hand to Hand Combat was a companion of He Man in his ongoing adventures to sell action figures. I thought He Man was tHe Man and as an adult, I get it. The toys were colourful and based around fighting monsters. I played with them all at my mum’s toy store, and only as a tax paying grown up did I realise quite how shit the characters/naming conventions were. There’s no point straining to imagine what Moss Man, Battle Lion, Spikor, Stinkor, Ninjor, Fang Man, Goat Man, King Hiss or Buzz Off did or looked like, because it’s right there in plain English. Consequently, Fisto has a big metal fist. If the show were for adults, I also have no doubt what Fisto’s favourite thing would be. It’s in the name.

If you’ve clicked the link above, you can see what the costume will try and resemble. “Try” being the operative word, because I’m a) not adept which makes this whole concept b) trying. Why am I going as a character I hardly know? Because a group of my friends are donning Masters of the Universe getups and that sounded like a happy funtime to me. As I said, I used to adore the show/toys and when am I not seeking the eternal high of nostalgia? The only issue, is my friends are way more sartorially gifted than I am. I never do costumes that involve work. I don’t have the skills, primarily because I’ve never had to hone them, so they’re still beyond my grasp. My friends, however, know how to sew/stitch/craft pieces that work. Here I am wondering how the fuck do I make a loin cloth?

Luckily my friends are generous people who give freely of their expertise. Unluckily for me, that doesn’t involve them just doing the work for me. Which means I’ve got shit to do. I thought things would be far easier than they have been. Look at this guy. I did and thought right. Hulk hand, loin cloth, belt, boots, shirt thing and shoulder guards. I own blue Doc Martens, which I figure are good enough for the boots. I went to Value Village to look for second hand clothes that’d meet my needs. I found a belt and tank top, but that was it. Somehow they don’t stock loin cloths or hulk hands. For shame. The Hulk Hands I tracked down off BUNZ, which is a Toronto based barter site. Cost me three cans of beer, but that was easy. They were brown for some weird reason. A bottle of cheap acrylic paint solved that. I spent an evening doing quick coats and drying them with a hairdryer. It looks fucking awesome.

The rest hasn’t been so simple. I bought some leggings from Dollarama to make the loin cloth and a friend helped me out with leftover fur she had lying around. I cut them down, then realised I wouldn’t be able to hot glue the fur onto a stretchy fabric so easily. My friend suggested stuffing a pillow or two in a plastic bag, then into the leggings to make them slightly smaller than my body. Then pinning the pillow to the waistband. Apparently making them a little too small would be better than too big. Even after gluing, there’d be some stretch to the leggings. If I went too big, they’d be loose and fall off. I still haven’t done it ’cause I’m afraid I’ll cut/glue it wrong and everything will be fucked forever. I’ll get there.

I thought the shirt would be easy. My answer was to pretty much just make stripes of duct tape and stick them to the tank top. Turns out a) duct tape doesn’t stick amazingly well to a shirt and b) it’s impossible to keep the shape and remove the garment. So now I’m painting the shirt. My friend once again helpfully chimed in. I could get fabric medium and mix it with the cheap paint I already had to have soft drying paint that wouldn’t crack. I could just draw the lines… which I still have to do. It’s not super simple to get straight lines, so I’m putting card underneath the tank top to keep it taught, then drawing my lines on. I’m just gonna draw on the metal shoulder brace thing, because I can’t be bothered making anything else. My fear is it’s gonna take an age for one side to dry and I’ll run out of days before Saturday night. In fact, the longer I spend writing, the less time I have. Maybe I should be doing that now instead of merely writing about it.

Ugh, do you think I can grow a beard in four days? It’d really help.