Was cleaning afterwards considered a dust-y dust?

Welp. I just hosted my dream funeral.

To be clear, I had no idea how the event would go. It was uncharted territory. An attempt to celebrate life, and explore the mix of darkness, humour and sincerity that keep me going. The basic conceit was that the party was a mix of funeral and wake. There was a bell anyone could ring. If they rung the bell, it was their turn to give a eulogy for me. Whatever they chose to say. In an attempt to give a modicum of respect for the dead, I also kept the floor available for anyone who chose to share a eulogy for someone they’d once loved, or a memory from their lives. Nobody took that option, but it was there just in case. Who knew if it would be a farce, or incredibly sombre. Knowing my friends, I assumed the former,but I would’ve accepted the latter. It was in every part, the former.

My girlfriend and I had done some last minute prep. We hung black streamers from the centre to the corners of the room, draped like the roof of a tent. We put a black foil curtain over the entrance to the living (/dying) room. We made charcuterie. We had havarti, gouda and aged cheddar. We bought chorizo, maple smoked ham and sliced salami. We had crackers, pickles and olives. As a birthday present my girlfriend had ordered me a ton of Cookie Time snacks for sharing. As always, I love being able to share my favourite foods with people, and invite them to try things I grew up with. They were just as delicious as I remembered. Friends brought with them a heap of snacks, and ultimately we have more snacks left than we started the party with.

It took a long time for people to show up. I got antsy. Had the theme kept friends away? We had a start time of 7:30pm, in the hopes that it’d get people arriving closer to 9pm. A friend arrived just before 9. By 9.30pm, another friend arrived. I was nervous. At around 9.40pm, some more friends arrived. Then more, and more. The living room was thriving with conversation. Suddenly, I heard the bell ring. My friend stood on the table and gave her eulogy to The Bone King. As my mortal enemy, Wingding, she lorded her victory for all to hear. She stood in exultation and beamed with pride that she had finally conquered her arch nemesis. It was wonderful. Soon afterwards, another friend gave a heartfelt eulogy extolling my virtues. Mostly though, he wanted to shoehorn in a pun. It seemed only fitting.

One of my good friends stole the show. He’d prepared a written eulogy based on absurd and notorious injokes. Our shared love of Manischewitz (a bit that keeps on giving) and my well-known hatred of Marmaduke. He (lying), talked about our ritual of “Mani and Marm Mondays”, where we’d get together to drink Manischewitz and read Marmaduke comics. He then explained in excruciating detail, a Marmaduke comic from panel to panel. Egads I hate Marmaduke, and I love my friend for digging in so deep.

Just after midnight, when the party was in full flow, I gave my own eulogy. It was fucking great. Every joke landed just as I’d hoped they would. It’d been so long since I’d last done a speech, and I forgot just how much I love the process. Understanding how to read the room and deliver words for maximum impact. I got to share personal bits with friends who understood and appreciated them. I had my moments of sincerity, and got to truly thank everyone for being there. There was a point where I looked around the room. It was filled with people I cared for so deeply. They were all shooting the shit, chatting or playing games. Everyone was well-fed, and we had abundant drinks for anyone who needed them. I was so happy with how it went, and if my real funeral is anything like it, I’m gonna die a very lucky man.

As for now, I’ll just have to settle for living a very lucky life.

I’m a cell out like everyone else

I accidentally left my phone at home yesterday. It was great.

It also made me take stock of just how addicted I am to my phone. Grabbing my phone has become an automatic response for damn near everything I do. It’s unrelenting. In countless situations I had a physical reaction of reaching into my pocket, only to find empty air (and old tissues). I realised after I’d gotten on the bus and reached the station. Maybe a ten minute walk from my house. I couldn’t be bothered going back, when my only worry was that people might want to contact me and couldn’t. But I was gonna be at work until 12.30am. It’s not like I had anything urgent to get to or talk about. What was I gonna miss? A bunch of robocalls telling me I’d won a cruise? I didn’t turn back.

I also realised I had a topic for today’s writing. I could simply list all the times I thought about using my phone. So without further ado I’m gonna turn to my favourite crutch, Bullet Point Time:

  • Once I realised I wanted to write about this, I reached for my phone to write it down in a notepad app. None was forthcoming. I crossed my fingers and hoped I remembered on my own.
  • On the TTC I saw a photo for some pantomime, Little Red Robin Hood. Every year the same company does pantomimes for kids, usually revolving around some fairytale. The same guy seems to be in each poster. A jovial looking older dude with bright red hair. He usually seems to play some kind of uncle type character, and he has this infectious smile. I saw the poster and wanted to take a close up photo of the dude to post on Facebook. Something like “this guy is my favourite part of the Christmas season. Hands down.” Obviously, I didn’t.
  • I usually listen to a podcast on the way to and from work. It’s a great way to unwind after a shift. Instead, I listened to St Vincent. I’ve been delving into her back catalogue over the past few days in order to figure out my preference order of her albums. Currently I’m at Strange Mercy>Actor>Marry Me>St Vincent>MASSEDUCTION. In saying that, I think every song on MASSEDUCTION is great, which should speak to how much I love her stuff.
  • On my break at work I usually catch up on social media. Last night I had nothing to do, so I kind of just ate and went back to my work. You’d think that working in TV, having access to years worth of programming for 40+ channels I’d just watch something. Nope, I just ate mashed potato and meat with a large plastic serving spoon because I couldn’t find a single piece of workable cutlery.
  • I had to DV an episode of Charmed. At numerous times I wanted to post something about how stupid it was. Seriously, this new series is fucking terrible. The writing is clunky and obvious. You know how characters will fare based on how good looking they are. They’re playing in a world of almost endless possibilities (as a character in this episode said, with the right spell, anything is possible) and still they choose the dumbest narrative options to pursue. Overall, the episode still hasn’t aired, so I’m glad I didn’t post spoilers.
  • I’ve been talking about that song Low Rider for the past few days, and how it used to be ubiquitous in soundtracks everywhere. Whether it was TV shows, trailers, or ads, its funky rhythm made it perfect for endless applications. For some reason I don’t feel like I’ve heard it much over the past few years, which weirds me out a little. I realised that I had no idea which band made the track, and had no way to look it up on the go. Then I forgot until now. Turns out it’s a band called War.
  • I’ve gotten really used to posting whenever something crosses my brain. It distracts me from my work all the time. Turns out when I have no phone around, I’m more productive. Last night at countless times I turned around to check my phone, only to find a space absent of solid matter.
  • The only thing I was even remotely worried about was using my phone to check bus times post shift. Without the Rocketman app, I had no idea. So I had to walk back to Union Station in the snow. No big deal, but also not ideal.

Today I have both my phone, and my work party. So no doubt it’ll be stowed in a pocket somewhere and largely forgotten. Keeping the dream alive.

My ringtone is the Full House theme. At least I think it still is

It’s JFL42 time! If I celebrated Hanukkah, I’m sure this is what it’d feel like.

JFL42 is Toronto’s version of the legendary Montreal comedy festival, Just For Laughs. In French, it’s called Juste Pour Rire, and it almost sounds like someone telling you to pour butts. Putting the ‘ass’ into ‘class’, those Frenchies. JFL42 is a bit different, in good ways. The credit system is innovative and value packed. You get a certain number of credits (two, four, six, 12) and use them to book shows. When you get to your show you get your credit back. You can then use this to book another show, ad infinitum. IT’S A GREAT SYSTEM. I usually use it to see around 25 acts in ten days, for around $100 altogether. It’s fun to strategise and figure out how to see all your desired acts. It’s gotten harder as more people have figured out how to use it. Still, the sheer quantity of quality comedy on display is amazing.

This year, I have a bike. It’s in a conditional condition right now. I took it over to a friend’s place yesterday so he could do some maintenance. A few things got better, but in trying to fix my gears, there were mishaps. My gears are now non-functional, and the one gear I’m stuck on is higher (faster spinning) than the one I’ve grown used to. I actually have to build up a cadence instead of relying on strong pedalling. It’s not ideal, and I’m getting a workout. While this is great on one hand, I’m also getting to shows late. Sub optimal, but still workable.

I also have the house to myself for a few days. My girlfriend has gone away for the weekend, so I get to sleep really deeply. I love having the bed to myself. To this day, I still sleep better alone. Will that ever change? Who knows? I use f.lux, I take magnesium citrate before bed, and wear earplugs. It’s not like I haven’t been training. I’m about to do my first day shifts in the new job. It kind of sucks to have that during one of my busiest, late night periods of the year. Still, at least I can still see the shows at night.

I’m waiting on internet people. They were supposed to call, which is why I’m at home and not seeing daytime JFL42 stuff. They haven’t called. They were supposed to call between 2.30 and 3.30, and it’s past 4pm. They were supposed to call to check that I was home, and if I didn’t take the call, they wouldn’t come. They haven’t called. They’ll probably called, but as of yet, no call. Zero ring. If only they knew my dedication. I turned my phone off silent for the first time since I bought it. I’ve been waiting for this call. This call is my sole raison d’etre at home right now. I just want faster internet. Is that too much to ask?

I have no idea, because they haven’t yet called for me to ask.

Hark, the Bone King cometh

What’s in a name? I’m Leon. I’ve always been Leon. Nicknames slough off me like water from a duck. They don’t hold or stick fast. Not sure why.

I’ve always been one to strip bones bare. Sounds like a red flag tinder profile, but really it means that I love BBQ ribs a whole bunch. Last night we had a big communal cook-up. Ribs on the BBQ, grilled mushrooms, corn, hot dogs, peaches, and a simple side salad. We sat around and had our bellies filled by the work we’d all pitched in. Everyone at the table had helped out somehow, and the rewards were bounteous. It turned out I had different standards than everyone for when a rib was considered “finished”. My friends’ bones piled up, and I flayed them one by one. I finished with a stack high to the heavens. Like a throne. A throne of bones. I was the Bone King.

Of course, this happened in my head. Nobody else had picked up on my clever moniker. So it was my duty to bring them onboard. This was a nickname that could stick. I tried incidentally sprinkling it a few times into conversation. Y’know, “hey, mind passing the chips over here to the Bone King?” They were all “wait, who’s the Bone King?” I was like “that’s me, I’m the Bone King. Y’know, all those dinner bones?” My friends exchanged uneasy looks. I tried it once or twice more. It didn’t land. After a particularly egregious one my girlfriend gave me a sidebar. “I’m not sure this Bone King thing is landing. Maybe it’s not happening.” I looked in my heart of hearts and stood firm. “I know this can work, I just haven’t found my moment. By the end of the night, I’ll have it.”

It was evening. There’d been a bunch of pot going around. We were all quite high. We’d all slid into colourful, comfy clothing. I wore my lion onesie, with these dainty rose tinted glasses; gold chain draping from either arm across the back of my neck. People commented on the aesthetics of my attire. I shrugged and said something to the effect of “that’s how the Bone King rolls”. Gentle chuckling ensued. I stepped outside to a spritely bonfire. We played around, making smores. Some tended the fire. I grabbed a bold stick and struck a pose. I referred to myself once or twice as the Bone King. Still not a whole lot of reception.

Hours passed. I’d put down my rose tinted glasses, and they’d become absorbed into a silly joke about a toy car wearing them. People were still laughing about Lightning McQueen in his rose tinted glasses. I grabbed the glasses, unaware I was cutting off their joke. Someone started to protest my theft of Lightning McQueen’s apparel, and I realised the only choice was to commit to the bit. I methodically applied the glasses, draping the chain over the back of my neck to the sound of the room’s protests. A friend called out “are you challenging Lightning McQueen?” I pushed the glasses to the bridge of my nose, squared off against Mr. McQueen and exclaimed “Hey Lightning McQueen, you come at the Bone King, you best not miss.” Rapturous applause exploded as I walked out the door for a smoke. Thus began the legend of the Bone King.

And I finally made that goofy nickname stick.

Mel Gibson ain’t a fan. But who needs fans like that?

What’s Ned Flanders’ favourite brand of sunglasses? Okillys!

For no good reason, today I remembered something from high school. There was this girl that we all had a crush on. She was super cool and disaffected. Really pretty, long brown hair and almond shaped eyes. When I say that we¬†all had a crush on her, I mean it. You know that stereotype of teenage girls excitedly tittering about the quarterback? We were those tittering teenage girls about her. ZOMG it’s mufti day, did you see what she’s wearing? That kind of stuff. Anyway, we were doing speeches for English class. She wasn’t in my class, but one of my friends told me he saw hers. She did her speech on Nelson Mandela, which was a neat subject. He was a cool dude. But she did a real half arsed job and didn’t really know how to finish. Instead she played Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” on a boom box and danced a little bit. Weird, and maybe more than borderline inappropriate. Incongruent enough that as soon as my friend told me, my crush on her instantly died. Simple as that. No more tittering.

In writing that out, I didn’t think I’d type “tittering” half as many times as I did.

Ugh, I used to love doing speeches at school. It was by far my favourite assignment. I was big into public speaking, considering that I spent all day talking shit in class anyway. I think I mostly liked making jokes, and it was an ideal opportunity to do so. I don’t fully remember my speeches from primary school. I did one about books that I kind of phoned in. It wasn’t my proudest work. I do remember getting a kick out of writing my barmitzvah speech, and figuring out metaphors with the rabbi. The friends I invited didn’t understand anything about Judaism, but they did enjoy pelting me with candy as I walked the Torah around the room. As is tradition.

I distinctly remember doing a fun speech during my ‘campaign’ for Deputy Head Boy in highschool. We all knew who was gonna win, so I tried my aim for silver strategy. I spent the whole time doing basically a stand up set. I leaned heavily on my best friend’s suprise campaign-

Which went a little like this:
“Hey bud” he said to me as he arrived at my front door to walk to school “I put up the posters”. I blinked. “Posters?” “Yeah” he replied “for your campaign”. Cue me walking into school, people coming up to me saying “oh man, love the posters. I’m voting for you for sure.” I saw one of the posters containing the image of an elderly Hasidic Jew and in bold: I’D VOTE FOR A JEW. WOULDN’T YOU?

-and really talked up my latent Judaism. I harped on about losing the Nazi votes, but hoping I could make it up with people proving they weren’t Nazis by voting for me. I didn’t win. Maybe I should’ve ended that one with Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” and a little dance. Who better to claim the title “Survivor” than the Jews?

If I retconned every memory I had of giving a speech to have ended with that song, would that be the Mandela Effect at work?

As always, my survival method is to beer and grin it

Let’s get at it.

Holy hell I drank a lot last night. I’m lucky that I got to the work party several hours late. Had I arrived at 2pm, with an open bar, I’m sure I’d be in worse condition today. Yeesh. Counting it back I had seven strong Belgian beers between the hours of 5-11pm. One beer per hour. That’s far more than I’m use to having on a school night. As it stands, I still felt not great this morning around 5am. I had a headache, and I was mildly dizzy, overheated, etc. Usual hangover symptoms. I took some ibuprofen, drank some water and hoped for the best. Instead I just felt poopy for a few hours, and eventually drifted back to sleep.

Since weed was legalised, I’ve been getting hangovers far less, supplementing the usual large assortment of drinks for a couple of tokes. Maybe this has been a blessing, having heard just how much worse hangovers get in your 30s. I still woke up before my alarm, and rallied to overcome my ailment. More ibuprofen, kimchi, electrolyte water and stocky porridge. It helped. Coffee this morning hammered in the last of my support structure and I’ve been right as rain. Considering the number of co-workers that came in with dark glasses this morning, I think I got off lightly.

Right now I’ve got a can of coke chilling in the freezer several floors up. Much as I’d like to work in a different building, the fact that my new job keeps me in a place I know is actually kind of helpful. Like in this scenario, I know that 90% of the fridges do not have freezers. But I also know that the eastern mini kitchen on the 5th floor does. My timer is set, and in a few minutes I’m gonna run up there to get an ice cold can. There are interesting ins and outs in this building. Pecularities that I’ve stumbled upon, and should make this transition a lot simpler for me than my future co-workers. I know where the meditation rooms are. I know which floors are more likely to have free food hanging around. I know the secret rooftop seating areas and balconies. I know about the bike lockers and showers. Even though it sucks to have to work all the way down the bottom of town, with nothing but condo developments around, at least I’ve got the run of the place in my head. Small mercy.

I had my first training day yesterday and egads, this job is hard. You wouldn’t think it was that difficult to narrate what’s happening onscreen, but it’s a lot. You need to find the right spot so as not to talk over dialogue. It’s all improvised, no scripts. Someone picks up a pillow and jokingly “smothers another character”? Wait for the laughs, then say “the woman grabs a couch cushion and places it on the man’s face”. It sounds simple. In the moment though, there’s a bizarre kind of pressure. It was literally my first time ever doing it yesterday, and I did not do a great job. It’s fine, I didn’t expect to. I imagine that I’ll shit the bed for a while, and probably do a Rocky montage of narrating people’s behaviour for a while to get in fighting trim for my first day. I can’t emphasize how exciting it is to try something new that I’m bad at. I love progress, becoming incrementally more masterful day by day. This is a fresh skill set, it’s different and unfamiliar. I’m thrilled to get a chance to learn it right from the start, then one day look back at how green I was. Until then, I’m gonna have to eat metaphorical dirt.

Speaking of which, it’s time to get to my training.

JFC – Jesus Fucking Clowns

I’ve been pretty lucky lately to have a lot of time with friends.

I mean, we all like spending time with friends, because otherwise they probably wouldn’t be friends. I dunno. At the same time, while it’s great to joke and catch up with my mates, I think one of my favourite aspects is soaking up differing perspectives from my own. Most of my friends have wholly separate experiences from mine. They have a variety of jobs, they see the world from their own unique viewpoint. It’s cool to hear not only what they’re doing, but how they’ve been doing it, complications and excitements. It’s fascinating to discover new stuff I never would’ve sought out on my own, and sometimes come away with other things to pursue. This might be something as simple as a pal turning me onto a new TV show I didn’t realise I’d love, to understanding an aspect of society I previously held no knowledge of. It’s all great. I’m gonna try and think about conversations I’ve had this week, and why they were interesting to me.

We went to The Walton last night. A cosy spot on College St with neat cocktails. One of my friends happens to be very knowledgeable about cocktails. She has a very curated Instagram presence where she participates in all kinds of cool home bar competitions. She makes her own cocktails, and she’s extremely good at it. Trust me, if she wasn’t already a dynamite person to be around, going on holiday with her is extra special, because she ensures your cup runneth over with alluring potions. She just attended a cocktail conference, and she talked about one lecture that blew her mind. It was on the concept of “rounds”. I’d never heard of rounds, but it’s basically the idea of cocktail artists making a bunch of drinks together with the utmost efficiency. They’re taking stock of the ingredients they’re using, how many can go into multiple assorted drinks, and working out a system whereby the least amount of energy is expended. A bottle should only be touched once in a round, she said. She also mentioned that drinks are supposed to be assembled from the cheapest ingredient to the most expensive, to minimise cost if there’s a big mistake and it needs to be tossed. She said the whole session was filled with jargon, but the long and short of it was, these professionals, using rounds, were able to create eight different drinks simultaneously within six minutes. If you’re not impressed, you’re far handier than I. I know I’m not operating within an optimised system, but I think it’d still take me about ten minutes to make two Manhattans, which are not particularly complicated. Eight drinks in six minutes is mind boggling.

Another friend talked about this notion of clowning, and the impetus to find your inner clown. Apparently a big part of being a clown is to understand what your dominant personality aspect is, and play into it big time. Are you playful and mischievous? Snarky and mean? Overly fastidious? How can you reinforce this in your makeup? Your act? How can you lean most into the clown that you are, to bring your most authentic performance? I’m a lot less afraid of clowns than I used to be, and there’s something in this notion that humanises them for me. The idea of so much forethought and intentionality going into their persona is kinda cool. They may be a lot of makeup and incongruence, but if it’s intentional, that changes a bunch. Maybe clowns aren’t so bad after all…

You know what the best part of this whole thing is? My weekend is very not busy. I’ve got a whole lot more time for friends.