Never never? Call me JaPeter JaPan.

Hi there. I’ve got no idea where this is going, so keep your hands inside the cart and let’s all enjoy the ride.

I haven’t been to an amusement park in longer than I’d like. Last time I went was to Canada’s Wonderland. The weather was borderline scummy, which was great. The park was sparsely attended through threat of rain. My cousin and I cleared every ride in under two hours. At one point they closed the rides for all of 15 minutes, so we got lunch. The rest of the afternoon was spent doubling/tripling back on all the rides we loved (I got to take Behemoth six times!). Pretty much ideal. I’m a big fan of roller coasters or basically anything that allows me to get as close to g-force in my extremities as possible. I don’t typically get scared on rides. It’s no brag, but a faith in rigorous safety testing and statistics. Discounting that horrific freak accident at Dream World (on a fucking benign river ride of all things), large scale amusement parks tend to be pretty safe. If I feel like I’m not in any danger, extreme rides feel fun, not frightening.

It makes sense for me to be thinking about amusement parks. A friend of mine just came back from a holiday to LA, which naturally involved a trip to Disneyland. I did the Disney parks in Orlando as a kid and had the time of my life. When I think of stuff I’d like to do on vacation, going to a bunch of theme parks would be right up there. I’m still a child (with larger limbs) and the thrill of going on a bunch of rides, but with the executive decisions and flexibility of being an adult, is palpable.

Good thing, because once again I’ve got vacation I need to use.

I don’t know how I ended up with another five days. It looks like I miscalculated my vacation days over the past six months and I still had a few to take. They allowed me to roll over the five days on the proviso that I use them up over the next few months. So once more I’m in the enviable position of having to decide where I’d like to travel.

To be honest, I’ve always wanted to travel to Japan. Since being a child obsessed with anime, Disney and video games, it’s been top of my list. As kids, we had a succession of Japanese au pair who stayed with our family. It was a pretty neat cultural influence that left me with fond memories. Visiting Japan has been a dream of mine ever since. Financially I haven’t been in the position to follow through, but I’m fortunate for that now to be a reality. For the next two months it’ll be Spring there, which seems the perfect time to visit. I could do a Tokyo trip, visit Disneyland, check out some beautiful old temples and finally tick it off the bucket list. There’ll be sake and sakura and everything. What’ve I got holding me back?

Right now? Logistics and planning. I’d love to do the trip with a friend, to have someone I can bounce ideas off in a foreign country. I don’t speak or read the language (though I’m sure that hasn’t stopped others before). I don’t know my way around Toyko, the transport system, the best spots to visit and how much things should generally cost. Trip planning has never been a strong skill of mine. As always, there are endless resources on the internet and I definitely have friends who’ve been there. So really, it’s on me to get off my arse and look into it. Dreams rarely come true without a lot of hard work.

Still, that’d be one hell of a ride.

C’est la vie? More like sa-lie-va.

A use the urinal often. For peeing, obviously. It’s also one of the select few places (aside from the shower and my hope basin) that I spit. Sometimes if I’m really congested I’ll spit into a gutter or drain outside, but I’m sheepish about it. Spitting in public feels like a gross thing to put into others’ view. The urinal doesn’t feel so bad, provided nobody else is there. It’s not a private shame or anything, but maybe it would really put someone else off. Who knows? In short, what I’m really trying to say is how surprised I am that I only just spit on my dick.

I’ve been alive for 30 years. How did it take so long?

It’s not like I was aiming for it, but neither was I intentionally trying to avoid it. I always assumed it wouldn’t happen. As always, my arrogance was my downfall.

After it happened I froze for a second, unsure as of how to handle this bizarre circumstance. Usually at the urinal liquid comes out of my dick, but doesn’t loop back onto it. It’s not like I pee on my self on the reg, so I was ill equipped for this eventuality. Though I knew I was alone, I looked around just in case before reaching behind me. There’s a paper towel machine behind us with a sensor. I waved my hand underneath and hastily dabbed at it, then tossed it into the bin. Problem solved, right?

But what of my confidence? I’ve used the urinal since and I was a tad shaky (like, before peeing, not in the post pee shakedown). Is this something I’ll need to be cognisant of from here on out? Or can I chalk this down to a one off anomaly? It’s taken this many years, I could rest on my laurels and tag it as a statistical blip in the radar. What if it wasn’t though? What if this is a new trend? Should I be spitting pre/post-pee? Should I skip the spitting altogether? But what will I do when I have excess phlegm? Will I ever even learn how to spell “phlegm” without spellcheck coming in to save my arse? Did I just learn it by having to re-type it?

So many questions and for all I know, the answer is that I’m living a lie.

Things used to be so easy. Ignorance was bliss before fear entered the equation. Now it appears that my ignorance was piss and the harrowing outcome of my wilful recklessness. I’ve been hanging fast and loose (and ten) and my rule has come to an end in the form of drool. I guess the girls on the playground were correct with their astute gender dichotomy.

Heavy lies the crown too large for the head.

If I was a contender, I’d go by the name MeLeeon.

When I was around seven or eight years old, I thought medieval stuff was the coolest. I still loved super heroes and transformers, dinosaurs were right up there, but medieval anything was a newfound obsession. It started exactly where you’d expect: Reading King Arthur. Here was a person who came to rule through exceptional circumstance. He started with nothing and ended up a king. If that wasn’t enough, he surrounded himself with a bunch of badass knights who all had their unique skills and attributes. To an eight year old, Arthur was pretty rad, but Lancelot was where it was at. The greatest swordsman in the land, but not an infallible hero. Even at that age I was drawn to characters with flaws, anti-heroes or those whose moral compass veered slightly off due north. I thought the whole affair with Guinevere thing was a bit shit, but created an interesting conflict. Then along came Galahad, who seemed too righteous to be any fun.

Finishing the book caused me to dive deep into fantasy novels. Courageous heroes wielding swords, shields and axes. Grizzly monsters and fire-breathing dragons. Magic and back-stabbery galore. I fucking ate it up. I fell hard for Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf series and its diverse skillsets of magika and mental abilities. I loved Diablo and Warcraft, tried Dungeons and Dragons. I devoured Song of Ice and Fire, which went on to become the biggest fucking thing in the world. To this day I still play Magic the Gathering heavily. As it stands though, there’s still one thing I have yet to do to really harness my love of fantasy. In three hours, there won’t be.

I’ve never visited Medieval Times.

I first saw it on the 1996 Jim Carrey film The Cable Guy. It looked amazing, but also didn’t seem real. I was convinced that it was just invented for the film. Keep in mind that this was pre-internet and I lived across the other side of the world where it certainly didn’t exist. A friend and I took a trip to Chicago once and found out they had one. Without a car though, it would’ve been way too far out of the way. Disappointed. We then did a road trip across America, but still didn’t come close enough to one. Then I moved to Toronto and discovered that not only was there a Medieval Times, but they did birthday discounts. HOLY SHIT.

Three years have passed since then and I still have yet to go. Tonight however, tonight is the knight. I get a 45% discount through work, which makes it pretty damn reasonable for a night out. I’m pumped. It’s not logical how stoked I am right now. Friends are coming over, we’re gonna have drinks then go out to see the fantasy world of my childhood come to life. You know those moments where you’re reduced to that state of youthful wonder? I feel like that already and I’m not even dressed yet. Thing is, I don’t even know what I’m in for. It sounds dumb, but I’m not actually sure what the show contains. I assume jousting and sword fights. People have said you get a crown. I know that one of my co-workers used to play the executioner as a part time job back in college. We’re gonna get a big meal and drink beer. I may go hoarse from cheering on our very own Lancelot. I’ll likely be amped up from a little pre-drink before we go.

Goddamn I’m excited and the more I talk about it, the more excited I’m getting. Is this how normal people feel about watching sports? Why don’t we go out to watch athletes joust and melee any more?

Who cares? I WILL TONIGHT!

Gland to be of some use.

I think the most exciting thing I’ve done in the past hour was get up to go to the toilet. Bleak. This isn’t the life I yearned for as a child. Then again, as a child I wanted to grow up to be a dinosaur or Wolverine. Hell, I probably would’ve settled for becoming a wolverine. I could go for having potent anal scent glands used for marking territory and sexual signaling. I’m sure it’d be preferable to this dim office job. I can blame the weather all I like, but truthfully not a day passes that I don’t rue my lack of a special upper molar in the back of the mouth that is rotated 90 degrees, towards the inside of the mouth. Now THAT’s something that’d make my CV pop.

As a kid though, outside of the desire to inhabit every pop cultural IP I could easily obsess over (and there were so many), I found it hard to latch on a Stanislavski style through-line of action with which to be guided. In short, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. Furthermore, I didn’t know what was within my reach. My parents were always encouraging, but grounded. Reach for that rainbow, but don’t expect the pot o’ gold to be waiting for you without working for it. For years I decided that I was gonna be an actor, almost purely because I shared a birthday with my favourite actor; Jim Carrey. At this advanced age of eight I hadn’t pursued acting with any zeal. I just thought it’d be fun. People would give you lines and you’d say them. Then you could play superheroes as a job and all would be right with the world.

I didn’t actually start drama until age 13 or so, and even then it was a pretty tepid toe in the water. For something I’d supposedly wanted to do my whole life (five years basically being that at 13), I kept myself from launching headfirst. To be honest, I was fine. Totally unremarkable. I could act, but without the spark of greatness that eludes 99% or people who truly believe they’ll make it. I knew it, and so the dream passed me by without any particular feelings of loss. It didn’t matter, I had potential. I could do anything. As the years went on, I did a ton more and my expectations of what the future held widened. I’d write a book, or articles, or a comic, or speeches. I’d act in movies, TV shows, voice act. I’d edit video, audio, music. I’d do something in media. Surely that was a more defined dream?

I hope nobody is expecting some profound discovery or declaration here. I have worked in media for going on ten years now. I’ve had a plethora of jobs that’ve certainly varied in satisfaction levels. Even if the only constant in my future careers is uncertainly, I know at least that I’m in the right industry. I am the very model of middle class angst. Having your life struggle surrounding the fact that you’re fine, but have yet to excel is the kind of privilege so many would adore to suffer.

I may not be Wolverine, but when the right costume party strikes there’s nothing stopping me. I might not have found my niche in media, but it’s better than clawing at the industry from the outside. Taking a shit might be the highlight of some days, but give me a cup of coffee or two and that’s one thing I do excel at.

A goth damn delight.

Turns out social contact was the best remedy medical science had in its arsenal. For the first time in many moons, I left home after the cover of darkness in order to be conversational. My girlfriend’s mate was throwing a goth themed 28th birthday. It was foolproof. If at worst I ended up wallowing in a corner over social paralysis, at least I’d be on theme.

I pulled (literally) on some pleather pants I’d found at a costume sale and a black long sleeved shirt. Dabbed gel in my hair for the best imitation of an emo fringe I could manage (working with limited resources here) and got my girlfriend to apply some serious eye liner. She dolled up with all black finery, a grey cincher with purple highlights and pitch perfect makeup. Some, in her words, “skull contouring” was dead on brand. One Instagram later, we were ready to leave.

Arriving, it was obvious what a goofy application of theme it was. Marilyn Manson videos on the TV, tea light candles and black balloons everywhere. The catering was delightfully all kid’s party food: Cheetos, chips, faux marshmallow bananas, pretzels and taffy filled candy cones. I grabbed a beer and took a seat, squeaking as I did. I had a non-zero fear of self-combustion, the inner thighs of my pleather pants rubbing back and forth against each other loudly. Once again, dying at a goth party would only increase my street cred.

It was the kind of company you want at a party. Easy conversationalists, never strained or awkward. Everyone was friendly and seemed genuinely inquisitive. I chatted with a dude who’d just moved into the city about the struggles of getting settled. A gal educated me about the horrific treatment of the native population and how it hasn’t yet been put in the past. Did you know that medical professionals have been trying to coerce native women into forced sterilisation? Not 20 years ago, but as recent as 2013? I chatted about accents and cultural differences, the strange approach and almost blind acceptance of celebrity spokespeople. I leaned about demands placed on teachers these days, how smart phones in class not only hinder, but often aid learning. There was fluid back and forth and it was a total joy just to enjoy conversations with strangers.

Then the night hit its peak with a rousing game of Pass the Parcel. If you somehow had a shit childhood and never played, Pass the Parcel involves some small token wrapped in 10+ layers of gift wrapping. À la Musical Chairs, music starts and you Pass the Parcel around until it stops. When it does, the person holding it unwraps a layer. If this sounds trite, sometimes there are trinkets or booby prizes between layers. It’s more fun than I’ve let on. In last night’s incarnation there were Kings style mini games. Make a Rule, Wink Murder, Categories, freestyle rap (wrap?) about death. With the right crowd, it was a blast. The lesson to learn is that we’d likely severely improve all of our parties by a factor of 12 if we included the party games of our childhood, yet adapted them for adults. Bobbing for vodka infused apples? Fluffy Bunnies with sips of coolers? I’m sure I’m not the first to think of a Pin the Tail variant with one of those horse hair butt plugs… Consent being the main ingredient of course.

Or does the last sentence prove that I probably have no place hanging around with proper adults?

Wait, I’m a “snowflake”? Have you looked outside?

With Toronto covered in a gentle blanket of snowfall, there’s very little that holds allure other than keeping cozied up inside. Retreat sounds like a fantastic word right now, seclusion from the world around. It’s a shitshow out there, but being holed up at home with central heating, food and internet is nothing of the sort. I’ve been thinking of the concept of retreat a lot lately, but divested of the notion of defeat. Retreat as a pre-emptive measure, taking time to reassess and recuperate. Seeking simple comforts, a luxury in this world where some people have so little. When comfort comes to my mind, however, there’s one sensation that rises to the top. Nostalgia.

As I’ve mentioned over the past few weeks, I’ve been falling back into old habits. Playing more Magic, listening to some of my more formative musical fixations. I’ve been thinking fondly of the video games/systems I so obsessed over as a kid. Sega Mega Drive, N64, old MAME style fighting games and side scrolling beat ’em ups. This regression feels symptomatic of a subconscious sense of loss, longing even. I’m casting my mind back to a time where I felt overwhelmed by the world around me, but excited rather than weary. Before cynicism kicked in. The future seemed so far away, but shiny and hopeful. Now that we’re in a future, it’s hard to look past how far the world has slipped. It’s hard to hold an unfettered hope for continual progress when the Netflix release of a Dear White People series prompts a #whitegenocide response. I guess nobody said we’d all evolve in the same direction.

My desire to reengage interests from when I last felt the world held nothing but promise makes sense, much as it disappoints me. I should be moving forwards instead of looking back. The answers aren’t gonna come from hiding away from the world. Still, this is why YA fiction has a massive adult fan base. It’s why we continue to watch shows with twentysomethings playing 16 year olds. A longing for a time when things were different, when responsibility meant that at the end of the day, your parents had your back. When the world was unfair because you might get roped into a family dinner instead of hanging out with friends. Seems leagues better than the potential of being refused entry to the U.S. because you won’t hand over your social media passwords.

I’ve been reading Max Landis’ leaked Power Rangers film script. It’s not perfect, but seems the natural evolution of the 90s franchise. It’s PG-13 material while still having an edge. It’s got humour and creativity while still paying homage to the goofy mess of camp that Power Rangers once was. It has unexpected twists and more characterisation than we’re likely to see from this solemn blockbuster treatment. I’m happy to be proven wrong (and they’ll still probably get my fucking money. Bastards), but outlook not so good. Reading the script of an IP I adored as a kid felt neat. I didn’t feel totally pandered to, more that I’d consumed a script written with deep enthusiasm for the subject matter. Landis may act a little entitled at times, but when he nails it he nails it.

I’m sure we could chalk this one up to SAD and leave it at that. At the same time there’s an obvious correlation between lack of direction and seeking out our anchors. What last made me happy? How do I bring that feeling back? How do I head towards it while still moving forwards? We live in that future now, surely we can bring the past along with us.

Maybe hum along, just tune out the lyrics.

How’s February going? Good ol’ Frosty February, Toronto’s equivalent of frigid fallout. Long weeks at work with nary a beam of sunlight. How is one supposed to bask? It’s not like there’s even reflected glory on hand, ’cause everyone’s so gorram miserable. Things so far have been pretty mild, which is to say that yesterday everything was covered in a slippery sheet of ice. One wrong step and your ass was glass (fragile, not transparent). Could we have a moment of silence for tailbones across the city?

Thank you.

I wouldn’t say I’ve been wallowing, but I’ve certainly been retreating into die hard creature comforts. Frankly I’m surprised I haven’t yet devoured the Goosebumps omnibus. Instead I’ve been spending late nights working on Magic decks that’ve been sorely missing some TLC. It’s been nice to ratchet down the amount of time planted in front of a computer, even if it’s for another sedentary hobby. What else am I supposed to be doing? The streets are ice!

Musically I’ve also regressed. Nostalgia’s tough to beat when things around you seem cold. Over the past week I’ve delved into Tool’s discography. It’s comforting to know that while I’m not chaffing for a brand new release from the band, I can still have a pretty good time cranking them up. The fervour is gone, the rabid enthusiasm of a teenager has long departed. That being said, it’s been a hell of a while since I last heard “Sober” or “Prison Sex”. It’s pretty fun charting the evolution of the band from the spark of their prog metal roots to the goliath stadium band they became. Plus metal is a real good time when the sky turns dark. I’m plummeted right back to late high school, early university. Moshing is suddenly covered in this shiny veneer, somehow forgetting that the shiny veneer in any mosh is other people’s sweat. It’s a little nudge in my side reminding me that even though I don’t seek it out, when I feel like hearing metal it’s a helluva itch to scratch. I know what you’re all saying, seek it out, right? Maybe I will. Maybe. I. Will.

We both know I won’t. Who do you take me for? George Washington?

I also took a deep dive this morning back into Sublime. Sublime’s an odd one for me. At age 12 you’d probably catch me listening to them for upwards of three hours a day. At age 30 it’s pretty tough to identify with their particular brand of West Coast bro ska culture. In that typical 90s way, the band had zero room for nuance (did the word “problematic” exist back then? Surely that word couldn’t co-exist with the board game Dream Phone). Still, it’s hard for a bunch of the tracks to not resonate, given the deep groves they’ve etched into my brain. Bradley James Nowell had one hell of a sweet voice (apparently he inherited perfect pitch from his mother, but that could just be internet rumblings) and it really shines on Sublime Acoustic: Bradley Nowell & Friends. The recordings are messy, assorted bar performances with background chatter/yelling. His voice, however, shines through. Tracks like “Boss DJ” or “Don’t Push” are reinvigorated, while “Pool Shark” is a whole new beast. Like Cobain, I’m not sure how gracefully Nowell would’ve aged culturally, but I’m hard pressed to not smother those years of listening in fondness. I know that every summer I’ll crank out their self-titled at least once.

Maybe summer will come early this year. Right in the cold, dead heart of Toronto winter.