Reload, refresh and rewind.

This feels strange. Surreal. There’s an innate familiarity that’s unshakable, but with an indefinable distance. I’m home, but my core understanding of what home means has changed, so my parameters are having trouble adjusting. If home means Toronto, then what is Auckland? It’s as if my brain at some root level can’t understand the concept beyond simple binaries. Clearly I should’ve spent more time learning about quantum physics.

The best explanation of how it feels to be home is as if I’m in a simulation. I know what the simulation of Auckland is like, but every time I see something new it feels like a glitch. That’s supposed to be a hair salon, not an antiques shop, my brain will say. How it’s that oblivious to the passing of time, yet survived travel through time zones without unraveling, is a question for the ages. I woke up early and took a jog through my childhood neighbourhood. A stroll down memory lane at an accelerated pace. So much was familiar, a feeling that seemed almost physical. Then I’d jog past a park that no longer had the same playground and I’d feel deeply unsettled. Strange, but also comforting in a number of ways.

As I was jogging, I thought to myself about my relationship with Auckland. While I was chomping at the bit to leave, it’s undeniable that I have so much affection for the city in which I was raised. The level of attachment I have to random buildings or inanimate structures is bizarre. Jogging under the bridge to the lookout point I felt stirrings of something emotional deep inside. Pangs that I’d never felt. I wasn’t sure what to make of them.

I thought about that sensation more as I jogged and realised something. This reaction had a direct correlation to my own actions. I decided at some stage, knowing that I’d be away from home for some large period of time, to quash stirrings of homesickness or affection for Aotearoa. I knew I wouldn’t be back for many a day, so how would sadness over distance serve me? They were pointless emotions, so I pushed them down far beyond my acknowledgement. As I ran I let these feelings resurface, wash over me. Why be stoic? Why not soak in all I could while I could?

I thought back to the simulation notion, the glitches of unfamiliarity. I thought about how I imagined these surroundings as fulfilling a certain purpose, how they were no longer that one thing I knew them as. I thought more and realised that drawing a dichotomy between what was and what they’ve become is ridiculous. There’s far more nuance and a multitude of layers I never considered. The neighbourhood I grew up was not just a physical place, it was a bastion of memories spread across time. The run down to Fisherman’s Wharf was not merely the place where I ran before heading up to the bridge. I remembered fishing there, walks I’d taken with friends and conversations we’d had there. The Masonic Temple wasn’t just the place I went to vote once, it was also where I found $70 on the sidewalk. I jogged past old friends’ houses, up hills that used to be too steep for me to walk, let alone run. I saw my childhood house, remembered the basketball hoop in the driveway, still sans net. I cast my mind back to the lilac next to the front porch. The bees that used to swarm around.

It’s odd having a sense of comfort and wellbeing just existing in a certain space. It’s strange to be behind the wheel of a vehicle once more, but even stranger how easy it was to drive once more. It’s peculiar feeling reassured sitting on the toilet at my parents’ place, knowing how much has remained the same. I keep throwing these ambiguous modifiers in front of everything. “It’s odd, strange, peculiar”, but that doesn’t quite cover it. You know what? It’s good. Simple, but true.

It’s good to be home.

Shit just got reel.

In the weirdest development for some time, there are actually movies in theatres that I want to see. This practically never happens. I’m so often drawn to wanky dialogue driven shit, which rarely needs to be seen on the big screen. Yes, obviously watching anything in a more immersive environment will change the experience for the better. With most of “my films” I can simply trust in the depth of plot and character to pull me through. Big flashy films are so rarely my jam, but right now they’re filling the cinema. My issue is that I can’t find the time. Hell, I’ve had Don’t Think Twice for maybe a month and haven’t managed to scrape a solid two hour period of solo time on which I don’t need to accomplish something. Ironically, it’s mainly being spent on the adventures of talking puppies. If I wasn’t using up all my January vacation time already, I’d be tempted to take a Tuesday off and thrash the marginal discounts of Cheap Tuesday.
So what’s on my radar, film wise? First up, Moana. Film looks charming, funny and (as often is the case for Pixar) containing a depth that allows a family movie to shoot higher than lowest common denominator aspirations. I’m happy to see a non waif Disney princess, and hopefully a gracious depiction of Pacific culture. It’s culturally close to home and I’d love for it to be well handled. The lead is a virtual unknown, The Rock is always great to see in any role. I may well leave the cinema bawling, but that’s part of the experience. Pixar, don’t steer me wrong here. We don’t need another Cars.
We already tried to get to Arrival once, but we were dumb enough not to pre-book. Fantastic Beasts was the consolation prize. Arrival mixes my love of languages and application of science fiction into real world scenarios. Amy Adams has been outstanding in near every film of hers I’ve seen for the past few years. I still haven’t managed to get around to Sicaro (the two share a director whose name I’ll misspell if I try spell it from memory), but it’s been on my list since I first heard of it. Friends and critics alike have said a multitude of complimentary things that indicate Arrival is my kind of film.
Moonlight sounds like a gorgeous film. I’m a sucker for coming of age films and gradual linear progression. Really though, it’s a character study through the lens of his environment. It looks to be an emotionally grounded critical darling without the hokey nature of typical Oscar bait. While usually I’d leave something like this to the small screen, all indications point to it being gorgeously filmed and worth the price of admission.
After listening to the La La Land soundtrack today, I’m almost tempted to see the film again when it’s released. One of my most earnestly enjoyable film experiences in some time, it’s gripping and visually stunning. Such a wondrous colour palette free from the cynicism that so often calls to me.
Then there’s the rest of the TIFF stuff like Jackie, The Belko Experiment that I’ll likely never find the time for. It’s a luxury problem, to have too much in front of you while desiring what’s beyond your plate. In truth though, I probably won’t see any of them.
Instead I have to watch a movie about talking puppies with super powers. This is my life, after all.

Still should’ve called it Pokémon Go Go Dancers.

If there was ever a perfect fusion of my boyhood and manhood I found it last night. Peepshow TO‘s Pokémon Go burlesque.

A show stacked with sexy, salacious performers dressed in their best Pokémon attire. A 10pm start time meant the crowd was well lubricated, lusty and baying for booty. Was there ever booty to be had. I’ve never really been into strip clubs. Something about the set up feels seedy, creepy and doesn’t click right with me. Burlesque, on the other hand, seems to focus much more on adherence to theme. It’s about using seductive titillation to lead the audience towards the routine’s climax. There’s a larger overall narrative and I fucking love seeing it all come together.

Now when you pair that with one of my central childhood obsessions, you’ve got me by the (poké)balls.

They went all out and dug deep into the theme. All the show assistants were dressed as drowzees (Toronto’s resident pest pokémon). There was a contest where two audience members were pulled on stage, given pikachu/bulbasaur headbands and baskets, then had to try catch styrofoam pokéballs thrown by audience members. All of the performers’ songs were neat double entendres or apt choices for character. The entry of every act was preceded by an in silhouette “who’s that pokémon?” game.

Oh, the acts? A huge number of performers with a range of styles and concepts. There was a pokémon “battle” between a sandshrew and cubone. Set to Christina Aguilera’s “Dirty” (because they’re both ground types, duh doy), it involved them stripping each other’s clothes off in choreographed sections and eventually having a pose-off. Evolution featured in a big way. A tame magikarp act grew into a gyrating gyarados performance, complete with water gun spray across the crowd (water gun being a water type move). An eeveelution trio had a fantastic synchronised routine in which vaporeon and flareon each tried to seduce the eevee into taking their elemental stone. A caterpie-come-dragon dance performance shifted into metapod, which opened up into an amazing butterfree costume complete with scale wing harness. It was naughty and silly and a total riot. A lickitung performance went in the only direction a lickitung burlesque performance could. There was a charizard complete with orange scale mail and fire poi. Mewtwo’s act involved an elaborate Team Rocket capture pantomime and psychic attacks launched from twirling nipple tassels.

One of the things that struck me about the event was the vast range of body shapes and sizes. It was outstanding to see such diverse representation and overflowing body positivity. Everybody brought the sexy, proving attitude is everything. I don’t know if it’s possible to be any more complimentary of the event, but if you’re reading this and have any interest I implore you to check out their Hanna Barbera show next month.

Because who doesn’t wanna see a sexy Yogi Bear?

If there was ever a way to put a barbell through a roof…

It’s just like riding a bike. Except you need to change out and customise pieces of the bike while you’re riding, otherwise it’ll constantly fall in and out of balance. Plus you’re riding that bike uphill the whole time. Have the wheels fallen off this metaphor yet?

It’s been quite some time since I last did a Bodypump class.

I first started years back at Les Mills in Auckland. Having never ventured to the group fitness area, I saw a stream of fit butts in tight workout gear heading upstairs. Being 16 years old, I was drawn as by the pied piper. I found myself at the back of the class, but somehow actually engaged in the workout itself. Shattered after a seemingly endless all body assault, I came back again and again. For the next few years as I drifted from gym to gym around Auckland and the rest of the country, like some fitness recidivist I found myself in Bodypump classes time after time.

Years later, I’m in the middle of a free gym trial. Today I thought I’d return to something familiar. It was familiar, as if nothing had changed. You know how travellers sometimes delight in finding a McDonalds on their adventures? It’s not that they don’t like taking in new cultural stimuli, but the comforting fact that a Big Mac is a Big Mac worldwide helps them feel a sense of home. I felt the same way taking the class. Bodypump and all the Les Mills stable of fitness classes are the McDonalds of the fitness world. When you want two 100 per cent beef patties, “special sauce”, iceberg lettuce, American cheese, pickles, and onions, served in a three-part sesame seed bun, it hits exactly that spot.

That pre-packaged serving of workout extends beyond the class itself. Between different Bodypump releases (and I don’t know what number we’re up to now, but this looks cultish as hell), the tracks may vary, but only by sound. It’s the same moves time and time again (with micro-variations), but each sequence has a slightly different order. There’s always the intro track, then squats, chest, back, triceps, biceps, lunges, shoulders, abs, cooldown stretch. Each track is between two to four minutes of high octane rock/pop. The instructors are loud, vivacious and excited, as if snorting a line was an essential ingredient of instructing. More than that, there are archetypes you’ll always see:

  • The 60 year old hardcore woman whose body is composed purely of muscle and skin. She takes extra reps where no reps exist.
  • The Mountain That Rides, who might as well be using other class members as his barbell.
  • The front row of super fit regulars.
  • Darryl, who isn’t in shape, but has a positive attitude and a great rapport with the instructor. The instructor calls on him by name several times per class to show that they’re human just like everyone else.
  • The person clumsily behind. They haven’t quite figured out which weights to use in each track and change mid-track (me).
  • One person who throws a ton of weight on their bar, but has awful form and constantly wonders why they have back pain.

All of this is to say, the class is fun. It does seem cultish as hell, but if you put in effort and follow along you’ll come out with tired muscles and a sheen of sweat. If a formula works time and time again, why would you change it? Didn’t we learn anything from “New Coke”?

Speaking of which, where can I score? I may need to test this coke/pump theory for myself.

The tropestest with the mopestest.

For a change I feel creatively bankrupt. I don’t have any pressing social issues to talk about (like my ill fitting shoes or Pokémon Go adventures), so I’m gonna go on a guided tour of a TV Tropes rabbit hole. I’ll go page by page and follow whatever piques my interest, bringing you along for the ride. My only hope is that the 30 minute time limit will help me jump out of said rabbit hole instead of going deeper for the rest of the night. First up…

Chain Letter

I figure you all know what a chain letter is. The only reason I started here is that (spoiler) my other idea was do fill out one of those dumb chain letter things for today’s entry. I quote: “Chain letters in real life have nowhere near the credibility that they do in media, and are annoyingly common in e-mail spam and on comment pages and message boards.” Too true, TV Tropes. Anyway let’s see what Glurge means:

Glurge

A word derived from the sound of someone throwing up, “Glurge is a catch-all term for any “inspirational” tale which conceals a much darker meaning than the uplifting moral lessons it purports to offer.” It also notes that consequences are often simplified in a manner that leaves the only option as accepting the positive message. No shades of grey, kind of thing. Which leads us to our next hole, Tastes Like Diabetes:

Tastes Like Diabetes

An audience reaction best simply defined as “saccharine”. When things are revoltingly cutesy, idealistic and have no dimensions or nuance. Primarily because the focus is so much on making things sweet to the point of the body’s physical limits. So basically the entire Air Bud Cinematic Universe. Okay, there is no reason I wouldn’t click American Kirby is Hardcore:

American Kirby is Hardcore

Oh, this one is interesting. Apparently with video game ports from Japan to the United States, there’s a habit of altering box art from cutesy to determined. Kirby being the example. The article implies that there’s a concern from the largely male, testosterone fuelled American audience that overly cutesy things imply childishness and immaturity and will actively be harmful to their cultivated masculine identity. In Japan, alternatively, pink is a neutral colour and historians have linked the Japanese tendency to move towards softer, cuter imagery as a 180° turn from their warrior culture after World War 2. Now let’s see what Heart of Blackened Steel leads to:

Surprise Difficulty

Heart of Blackened Steel redirects to Suprise Difficulty. This video game trope revolves around an assumed correlation between cuteness and ease of play. There are references to licensed games based on children’s series, which sends my mind reeling back to all those fast food themed video games of the early 90s like Cool Spot or M.C. Kids. Okay, what’s the Animation Age Ghetto got in store for us?

Animation Age Ghetto

Oh, it’s a page about how animation is still widely believed to be a childish medium. It credits the proliferation of profitable merchandising within child targeting animation as one of the big pushes towards animation’s assumed demographic. It does mention Futurama, Rick and Morty, South Park and so on as shifting away from this notion, though it’s not like they don’t all lend themselves to merchandising of their own. Running out of time here, let’s look at 30-Minute Commercials.

Merchandise-Driven

There’s a picture of Optimus Prime on the page, so I’m rolling with their pun, intentional or not. Big mentions for Transformers and Pokémon (I mean, it’s imperative to catch them all) An interesting quote goes: “the key difference between this and normal licensed merchandising is that here, it is the toy manufacturer who dictates the show’s canon. They may be able to demand addition or removal of characters from the series based on the actual toys in their production line, or that new characters must be something that they can design a toy version for on demand.” Transformers: The Movie was a total joy to watch as a kid (and kind of still is), but I always loved this quote from Orson Wells on his final film role: “I play a big toy who attacks a bunch of smaller toys.”

So if you were wondering what half an hour on TV Tropes looks like, that’s it. I’ve intentionally not included the links because I value your spare time. Then again, I’m not saying there’s anything stopping you for taking a look yourself. Do you really need to go to that party?

Am I a tough crowd? Or a robot?

So this was written late at night while I was exhausted. At the time I thought it was terrible. In retrospect, I still think it’s terrible.

In an attempt to be relevant with at least one show that’s current, I started on BoJack Horseman season three. You know what? I don’t actually find the show to be funny. It’s a weird stance, but I recognise there’s humour in it, it’s just not humour that gets a rise out of me. It’s bizarre, because on paper a cartoon filled with anthropomorphic characters and puns seems like it’d drill straight into my funny bone. It practically leaks pop culture references. It’s also crammed with a ludicrous amount of talent. Seriously, just look at this list. Absurd, right? Now I’m not saying I don’t enjoy the show, just that the humour doesn’t appeal to me. I feel like a ton of it either falls flat in my eyes or feels random for random’s sake. I’m quite sure that hordes of people think it’s hilarious and I’m not here to argue with them. Each to their own and all that.

So why is it that I enjoy the show? Oddly enough, for a comedy, it’s the drama that reels me in. That doesn’t quite do it justice. The show is very well written. It builds its characters out and gives them heaps of developmental moments or chances for redemption. See, half the cast of characters are varying degrees of terrible people (animals, mostly). They’re flawed and broken, bringing out both the worst and best in one another. Between the levity (even if not in my case), there are deep lines that land with gravity. The oft quoted “You know, it’s funny; when you look at someone through rose-coloured glasses, all the red flags just look like flags” line rings poignant. There’s a weight to that and other lines of its ilk that carry an undeniable truth. Even when the show takes absurd turns, it doesn’t retreat from them. Actions have consequences and in this world, they’re all too real. Hell, two characters in a ludicrous marriage are actually following through with therapy, dealing with their inability to communicate their needs in a vulnerable fashion. It’d be all too easy for the show to make them break up, then move on, but it refuses to.

Obviously, I’m gonna keep watching. As someone who’s still not even into the heart of this season yet, I feel like there’s still rock bottom left to explore. How would that not sound enticing?

Have I convinced myself to invest in cloning yet?

Well this is goddamn confusing. I’m trying to take care of business with peak efficiency. Not only am I writing this entry as my usual daily exercise, but I’m working on the pawdcast simultaneously. “Working” might be a stretch, but I’m mixing it down. So I’ve gotta listen and make sure nothing goes wayward. Also I have to try make what I’m writing here somewhat readable. Is it possible? I have no idea. I know I’m getting repeatedly distracted and the outcome will likely be that both items come out poorly. Pray for Mojo.

Why don’t I just take my time and do each separately? Because a) I’m irredeemably lazy and b) I wanna get more spare time tonight. I’m loving the pawdcast, but I also have approximately a billion minus five things I’m craving right now. I’ve got SO much to do that I can’t be bothered working out how much a billion minus five is. Isn’t that deplorable? I’m bringing my own character into disrepute by cheapening the quality of my writing, my pawdcast and my mathematical prowess. You know, instead of bitching about having too much to do, I could bitch about what I’d want to do instead. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Obviously I wanna be playing Pokémon Go. I’ve had less time to play this week. I’m not about to say it’s putting me on edge, but I’ll put it this way: I think life is getting in the way of my Pokémon playing. I’ve been catching some nifty stuff lately (finally got a snorlax in Koreatown on Sunday), but delving more into the data, I’ve discovered that I have a talent for catching lacklustre pokémon. How do I know this? I’ve been using the IV calculator. It crunches the CP, HP and power up cost to work out the potential of your pokémon. You’ll get a percentage out of 100, which tells you how high on the scale compared with other pokémon of the same type. Mine are typically coming in at 40%-60%, which is kind of a bummer. My snorlax is apparently pretty average, but he’s still slaying it out there. I’ve got an eevee that’s a 97.5%, so now I’ve gotta decide whether I’ll power it up to be a vaporeon (when I’ve already got one) or get a lame flareon. Vaporeon towers above the other eeveelutions, so it should be a non-brainer. Shouldn’t it? LIFE IS TOUGH, PEEPS.

I’d also love to tuck into the next few episodes of Harmonquest. An animated show taken from Dan Harmon and his friends playing (what’s ostensibly) Dungeons and Dragons. Recorded in front of a live studio audience, episodes were improvised, cut into a tight 20 or so minutes and fittingly animated. I’m a few episodes in and it’s fucking hilarious. The plot moves (sometimes with a little Deus ex Machina) and the animation is adorable, with immaculate attention to the little details. Dan, Erin McGathy (his clever and eerily creative ex-wife) and friend Jeff Davis have a palpable chemistry that allows for riffs stacked upon riffs. Spencer, the Dungeon Master runs with whatever comes his way without flinching. Guest stars I’ve seen so far include Paul F. Tompkins, Ron Funches, Aubrey Plaza and John Hodgman. That’s a stack of talent. The show’s a blast and it’s ripe for bingeing. Which is what I’d be doing if I weren’t writing/mixing. Unless I was out catching pokémon.

Okay, that’s it. In T minus 20 minutes I’ll be out and about catching pokémon, then I’ll come home and finish the series. I’ll then sleep next Tuesday or something, when I finally get some spare time.

I might be confused, but at least I’m not bored.