Get this man a platter or there’ll be Hellapeños to pay

I’m feeling relatively fragile after my first all nighter in yonks. Be gentle, or something?

Goddamn if Halloween isn’t the fucking best time of year. Weirdo’s Christmas seems like the confluence of all my favourite things. It’s creativity and goodwill in abundance. People showing off the hard work they put into costumes, or even just the last minute hail Mary’s others luck into. The Internet becomes a nexus of inspiration and alley-ooping. Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, it’s awesome costume after awesome costume. Friends, friends of friends and complete strangers harnessing inspiration to cobble together something neat. Does it sound like I’m waffling and really saying nothing here? You’re probably right and I don’t give a damn. Here are some cool things about Halloween.

  • Candy Corn. Fuck you, Candy Corn is the shit. It’s got this bizarre dense softness to it that’s utterly pleasing. Also as a kid I just thought they were three coloured monster fangs.
  • Public transit gets better. When else do you get to see headless dudes and wraiths riding alongside disgruntled yuppies whose eternal mood is “busy”?
  • FOMO all the way down. Every night for a week or two there are awesome parties, quizzes, cult film screenings and seasonal drinks. There’s too much to do, which is among the best problems to have.
  • Feeling like a lazy piece of trash after excessive partying. It feels earned.
  • Nachos are appropriate for every meal. Breakfast? Breakfast nachos with eggs and baked beans. Lunch nachos? I dunno, some kind of nacho sandwich. Dinner nachos? Cook a steak and rest it on a bed of chips/beans.
  • Look, I kind of just want nachos now.
  • Has anyone ever tossed beef and cheese atop corn on the cob for deconstructed nachos?
  • Because I care, I’m gonna be honest. I’ve made the typo “nachoes” too many times in the past minute or two to accept that I really know how to spell it.
  • Are cookies covered in ice cream and sprinkles dessert nachos? You could even scatter candy corn around for extra festive flair.
  • Do I really have to wait another half hour for the local dive bar to open so I can get mediocre nachos and a beer? That is pretty spooky.
  • I feel like I drifted off topic a little, but hey. I promised you nothing right off the top.
  • Speaking of which, the sour cream dump on nachos always feels like a trap. Take one dip and you’ve lost all your toppings. The sour cream becomes a thick morass of salsa streaks and lost olives. I have used smooth cottage cheese instead and it’s 1000% better.
  • There’s a 0000% chance I don’t eat nachos after this post. Which I’m saying only in the hopes that I stay accountable to myself. Because if that isn’t self-care, I don’t know what is.
  • There’s a possibility that I just don’t know what self-care is. If it means nachos tonight though, I’m diving in with both hands.
  • Primarily because using cutlery for nachos is practically treason.
  • I’m starting to question the value of this bullet point format, but it does make it look like I have lots of things to say.
  • Seriously, if you looked at this page without reading closely, I’m sure you’d think I had a bunch of impassioned points to make. Turns out I’m just jonesing for some low down tortilla.
  • In summation, Halloween is great but also nachos are too? Get that cheddar!

I think my work here is done.

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From now on, I decree that all baskets be made of cheese

I now own several suits. I guess there was intention behind it, but it really just feels like they turned up one day. It’s gotten to the point where I now have more suits than occasions annually for which I’d need a suit.

Last night was one of those rare occasions. Every year I go to a fancy Toronto Library fundraiser called Hush Hush. Look, I’m not a fancy person. A large majority of the stuff in our place is second hand or scavenged from sidewalks. I seldom throw down a ton of money on new clothes, when I could just go to a thrift store instead. I’m not a fancy person. I just ate cabbage with tinned tuna and cottage cheese. I’m not a fancy person. It’s uncommon for me to go to the bathroom at home with the door closed. I’m not a fancy person. I have an alarmingly high threshold for eating food off the ground. I’m not a fancy person. I spend many minutes watching gifs of children falling over. I’m not a fancy person.

Look, what I’m trying to say is that this annual party is kinda special. It’s nice to get all fancied up on occasion. This year my girlfriend came too, which was a treat. She had a new dress that made her look like a goddamn princess and I… well, I had one of my several suits. The gendered fashion disparity was no more evident than at a shindig like Hush Hush. The women were garbed in all manner of interesting and provocative dresses. The dudes almost uniformly wore suits with shirts. Some guy had a bold red suit and another had fluorescent green socks, but they were the outliers. Hey, I looked fine, I’m not dumping on that, and we certainly looked a pair together. She just looked a little more extravagant than I did and that was fine. I was there to eat, drink and play games.

The food was great. I don’t know how to say that food options had been more interesting and varied in previous years without dumping on what was there. It still tasted great, it just wasn’t as exploratory. That said, there was this very tasty thinly sliced strip loin atop smoked carrots and some kind of spinach puree, topped with crunchy potato shavings. Of course there were sliders, because what do rich people love more than smaller versions of something that already exists? Sliders were great. Little truffle mac and cheese baskets came around and I grabbed them most every time they did. If I wasn’t explicit enough, they were tiny baskets made of crispy cheese, filled with truffle mac and cheese. Someone we chatted to earlier in the night told us to stay away from the vegan Philly cheesesteak, and look out for the tiny chicken Wellingtons. She was on the money. The Wellingtons were hard to track down. My girlfriend found one over the course of the evening, though I swear I saw sliders 5+ times. The vegan Philly cheesesteak? The “steak” didn’t have the taste or consistency of steak, and the “cheese” sauce tasted similarly uncheesy. I get that it was from a vegan cookbook that was being featured and they wanted to be flashy, but it just wasn’t a comparison. I think the A&W burger is the only vegetarian/vegan substitute I’ve had that tasted anything like the original. Why make so many substitutes and not just entirely different dishes? Beats me.

The booze was free flowing and all included in the ticket price. I mean, aside from the food that’s kinda the point of the event. For the most part it was great. They had three different bars set up, so you could always check out a different side of the room to see if it had shorter lines. A local distillery supplied their boutique black strap rum, moonshine and gin. There were speciality cocktails just for the event, though by the time I found out they had them, they’d already run out of the central ingredient. Wouldn’t you be pumped to try some kind of black strap rum, peach and habanero concoction? Alas, me too. The only bummer was getting stuck in a drink line for half an hour (of a four hour event. It was a while) ’cause multiple lines converged into one and everyone was ordering 5+ drinks for friends. Still, moonshine and ginger kept me buzzed all night and the wait for spirits didn’t do enough to damper mine.

Being a fundraiser for the library’s digital collection, they had a bunch of cool gizmos to play with. One selfie station made animated gifs that could be emailed to you. Another had a ring of cameras to take pseudo 3D photos. One more had a built in ring light for super defined shots. They had photographers walking around too. There were 3D printers making keychains for guests to take home. They had three VR games set up for partygoers to try. There was a big TV hooked up to a SNES/N64 emulator, so Mario was going all night. There was also a neat little arduino based light game that was simple to learn and neat to play.

So I ate a ton, drank a ton and played a couple of games. If this is what being fancy is like, maybe I need more suits.

All aboard the Magic School cannaBus

It’s a really interesting time in Toronto, what with the municipal elections, the province being run by bigots and the re-emergence of regressive, hateful attitudes that are just “telling it like it is”.

It’s quite the time for plant based escapism to have become legalised.
I don’t know a whole lot about weed. It’s something that I never smoked a ton of as a teenager or through my twenties. I’ve kind of picked it up lately, since seeing what a legal framework looked like in Portland. It was all above board and pot shop employees were super knowledgeable in helping me find the right type of experience I was looking for.
So, the basics that I understand (which are probably quite wrong):

As far as I know there are sort of two main strains: Indica and Sativa.

A friend once gave me the helpful mnemonic of Indica as “In Da Couch”. It’s your typical “lazy stoner” kind of high. You feel kind of relaxed and dopey. Good for winding down. It makes basic activities a little more interesting. I know methodical stuff like folding washing gets a little more pleasant for me. I don’t often do a ton of complex cooking/knifework after smoking Indica. Maybe I’d make a simple, low upkeep meal like a soup after smoking Indica. Toss on some music and have a quiet night doing something basic. Then once the soup was ready, tuck in with a crusty bread and a low mental impact TV show/movie. Or get some deep fried bones from my local mediocre fast food place. I’m honestly not that big on Indica, it’s not really my kind of high.

Sativa, on the other hand, is a strain I tend to like. I’ve heard the comparison between the two as Indica being below the neck and Sativa being above it. Personally, Sativa makes my synapses fire off in all sorts of directions. My brain goes to interesting, creative places. I notice odd little details that would never cross my mind sober. Maybe I’d see the absurdity of unnecessary social posturing or get a better grip of what people are saying between the lines. When I smoke Sativa and play Magic, for instance, it makes me slow down and gauge what’s going on better. I see vectors and long term outcomes a little clearer. I’m not faster at doing the math, per se, but it helps me consider the math a little more carefully. I wouldn’t say I play better high, but it does make the game a lot more fascinating. When I watch TV shows, I’m paying more attention to overarching character motivations and the representation of certain themes. In short, it helps me consider background details I’d usually ignore. I don’t mentally process quite so quickly as I do sober, because I’m noticing a lot more stimuli.

There are also hybrid strains that fuse aspects of the two together. For me, this is still a wild (Wild) west scenario. I don’t know what I’m getting into or how to adroitly choose the kind of hybrid experience I’m looking for. Like oysters, I feel like I just haven’t met the right one yet, but one day I will and they’ll be my favourite new thing.

All of the above, I think, tend to be rather THC based. THC tends to be the active ingredient that gets you high. I don’t know if Indica vs Sativa have different THC quantities, or if there are variations within types of THC. I just don’t. I know that with edibles, THC content is measured in milligrams. The standard that I’ve stuck to is that 10-20mg of THC in an edible is a pretty entry level amount. If you don’t smoke much, this should be enough to get you high without being overstimulated.

In contrast to THC, there’s CBD, another “cannaboid”? CBD has a lot of medicinal effects and I don’t think really makes you high. People use it for mental clarity/focus. It’s common for anxiety sufferers to take CBD based strains. I think it has healing properties too. When I was in Portland and suffering from a lot of joint pain, some dude at a cafe gave me a couple of drops of pure CBD oil and it really helped ease my pain without making me mentally foggy. People have talked about CBD use with physical workouts and I’m curious to see how that goes.

I don’t know if this helped anyone. I’d love to learn more, because I think legalisation has much more potential than “let’s just get fucked up all the time”. The more we know, the better we can help people who’d benefit from its use.

Also selfishly, I just want to know what I’m doing.

Dopen minded?

#ohcannada #marijuantario #torontoke #hightearonto #torontoreeferancelibrary #homeofthebluejays #hashhashtags

Honestly folks, I’m so old and out of touch that I initially had commas between each hashtags. I came out of my stupor quickly enough to realise. It’s the 17th of October and today marijuana was legalised in Canada. It’s an historic day, and having been at work for all of it so far, I’ve noticed not one difference. I don’t expect to leave the office and into a cloud of smoke. I don’t expect that the initial changes will be particularly drastic. I’m sure there’ll be people in parks ignoring the sub 10ºC temperatures and having a great time. I hope they all remember that while weed is no longer illegal, littering is still shit. I hope they have a blast, but responsibly.

Still, despite everything I just said, this is all kinds of wild. I’m not expecting drastic changes overnight, but I am expecting a bunch of subtle societal shifts. Firstly, I don’t really expect that there are that many grown ass adults out there who haven’t tried it before. We were all impressionable teenagers once, right? I never liked the stuff much as a teen, and to be honest it took a really long time to grow on me. I never knew what I was doing and always smoked too much. It’d leave me catatonic or paranoid and I’d have a terrible time. So I didn’t really do it that often.

I think this year was the first time I ever actually bought my own pot like a Real Adult. Even then, the rate at which I’ve been smoking has been altogether mild. I’m a light touch and don’t enjoy the experience if I’m too stoned to function. I tend to enjoy sativas or hybrids. Something to provoke the more creative parts of my brain instead of sinking into a comfy chair. I’ve definitely been smoking more often than I expected to, but I have been enjoying myself. It’s made some mundane tasks more tolerable. It’s been a nice way to unwind after a stressful day. The CBD strains have generally helped with feelings of mild illness or aggressive muscle pain. Also, as a frighteningly light sleeper, they’ve helped me rest a little easier at night. I’ve never been impaired at work, because I’m not an idiot. I couldn’t do my job high, so I’m not gonna try. I might not like what I do, but I at least respect that there’s an agreement that I’ll be sober while I do it.

It still feels weird though, this legality thing. I was looking on the government owned (!) OCS site to see what legally purchasing pot would look like. They have an assortment of strains to choose from. There are grinders and pipes and bongs, oh my. You can buy online and they’ll ship it to your door. It’s so surreal. You can smoke in parks or at any private residence. It’s hard to get past the notion that it’s all a trap. That it’s part of some elaborate Canadian bait and switch to fill the prisons with workers. I’m wondering how long it’ll be until the prison pardons are processed and those jailed for possession can be set free. So many condemned individuals being able to finally live a life that society robbed them of. It may be too little, too late, but it’s not nothing.

Tonight though? It ain’t a rainy day here in Toronto, but let’s just say that Bob Dylan was right.

It could be worse, people could be influenced by me

I feel old all the time. It happens with age, y’know?

Superfluous statements out of the way, a better way of qualifying it is that I feel increasingly out of touch with certain parts of society. I’ve been thinking of that absurd Gymshark line up over the weekend and having trouble working through my mental and emotional responses to it. I wonder if they’re indicative of being too judgemental or discounting large subsections of society unfairly. This is garble. I’ll try to do better.

I don’t Instagram. At a stretch you could say that I did briefly when I ran the Air Bud Pawdcast social media account. Really though, I posted and didn’t bother to look further into the platform. I’m not much of an image based person. I like reading and audio a ton, but there wasn’t a ton of appeal at looking at photos. This is no admonishment of anyone who uses the service, it’s just not for me and that’s fine.

I feel deeply unsettled by the rise of Attractive People Fame. Don’t get me wrong, attractive people have prospered since the beginning of society. This in itself is nothing new. It’s not like I woke up in 2018 and suddenly discovered that celebrities were pretty. Attractive People Fame takes this to another echelon. With the rise of the Kardashian Clan and the words “social media influencer”, being famous in itself has become a career trajectory in a whole new fashion. I’m not breaking ground saying this. There are a lot of people making money for being popular and attractive. There are corporate tie ins and sponsorships. These people a) being alive and b) using products has become a very visible avenue of advertising. I’m not trying to stand on a rickety pedestal and say this isn’t work. I know that a lot of effort goes into scheduling posts, cultivating an audience, reshooting and retouching photos until they’re perfect. It’s a real job with a ton of hours and thought. This isn’t my issue.

Cult of personality has become a career in a whole new way. Yet again, I don’t see that in itself as an indication of crumbling societal values. Take me as an example: I follow a lot of Dan Harmon’s stuff. I was a big fan of his show Community and began listening to his podcast Harmontown way back in The Year Of Our Lord (aren’t they all?) 2012. I’ve paid actual dollars to go to live podcast recordings. I bought a limited release book that his ex-wife put out of his Tumblr writings collated. I met him and got him to sign my book. I’ve interacted with other Harmontown fans in the online community. I’ve met some of these people out in public; When I was visiting Portland and sought out fellow Harmenians because I thought we might have similar interests. It’s not blind adoration. I don’t personally see Harmon as an aspirational figure in all manners. He has issues and views I don’t agree with. I do, however, think that he’s an incredibly good writer, is hilarious, talented and unbelievably sharp. I like a lot of what he does and the kinds of guests/friends he brings onto the show.

It might be a personal bugbear, but I have a ton of difficulty reckoning with Attractive People Fame. This might be rich coming after the past paragraph, but Attractive People Fame and its societal influence feels different to me. I don’t listen to Harmontown and ache to be those people. I’m not out there buying the products they shill to keep the lights on. I’ve met Harmon and other show members a couple of times, but it’s not why I follow the show. It’s entertainment, and the way its errant observations bring joy to my life can’t be understated. My mind sees Attractive People Fame and it worries me. Why? Because it seems irredeemably predatory.

Attractive People Fame is enormous in younger demographics. Teens and tweens following a collection of Influencers and their daily lives. I’m talking Instagram Models, Fitspo people, etc etc. It’s an industry that’s driven by aspiration porn. It’s telling these impressionable kids that this could be them. They could be hot, rich and successful by imitating these people. They see glimpses of these Attractive People at their best. They see all the rewards, but not the hardships.

They don’t see the 50 takes required to get that perfect shot. They don’t see the intentional angling of the model’s thumb right below the label. They don’t see the meticulous diet complete with calorie counting and a-z macronutrient content worked out. They don’t see the personal stresses and anguishes behind the scene. They don’t see the marketing team creating spreadsheets of release schedules. They don’t see the sales people hunting out sponsorship opportunities. They don’t see the Attractive People being told exactly how to cultivate their Brand. They don’t see what it’s like for your personality to be A Brand and how all consuming and dehumanising that is. They don’t see the hundreds of thousands of kids who don’t make it and spend their lives chasing a dream that’s so far out of their reach. They don’t see that no matter how many products they buy to emulate their role models, 99.9% of these kids will never be their heroes, never be friends with them. They’re a revenue stream to an industry which is so much larger and more brutally cynical than the heroes they look up to.

I see kids eschewing valuable life skills and experiences in order to aspire for something they don’t realise is entirely beyond their reach. I see kids developing eating disorders or dangerous health initiatives in order to have these perfect bodies. I see kids desperate to be noticed and adored without an understanding of the pacts that come with fame. I see a level of superficiality qualified as a goal that opposes true human connection and understanding. I see values shifted to an extent that growth really will suffer. I see a future with a much larger quotient of adults who will eschew compassion for Their Brand.

I already saw a 5-8 hour line comprised of thousands of individuals, waiting to be let into a warehouse with 19 different clothing items so they could take photos with Attractive People leading lives they themselves will never come close to. I’m not scared of who these kids will be, I’m worried for the people they could miss out on becoming.

Which is what I’m sure a generation said when MTV created VJs.

This message brought to you by Guy Fieri’s stolen Jalopy

My girlfriend and I left the house today to look for Halloween costume bits. Here are some of the people we saw during the three or so hours we spent out in public:

  • A throng of gym garbed folks lining up for some gym gear sale around the corner from us. They were taking up basically the whole sidewalk, three to five people abreast. I had to softly push them out of the way because they’d left no room for pedestrians to get past. The line wasn’t super long, but I imagine it had around 30-50 people in it. This in itself wasn’t super notable, if not for the previous day when the line stretched down the block, around the corner, down the entirety of the parkette, around the corner, down the block, around the corner and back as far along the next road as I could see. There would easily have been thousands of people in line yesterday at around 9am for a brick and mortar pop up of gym apparel. No sales or anything. To be clear, this was all stuff they could buy online, but it was a two day pop up in a physical location. Apparently there were athletes there for people to meet and greet? Maybe an Instagram thing? From what I’ve understood, this was a big part of the appeal. According to people on the Facebook page, the wait was 3-8 hours, depending on when you arrived. It was kinda baffling to see that sheer quantity of people. Thing was, most of them looked like they were already wearing pretty expensive stuff. I dunno. I can’t imagine waiting in line for that long to meet someone I was a fan of, but I guess if it’s not for me, it’s not for me. Torontonians do love waiting in lines after all.
  • Some dude in an old Archie style Jalopy. It was painted all black with Guy Fieri style flames licking up the side. His passenger was his pet dog and, because I still by default look to the right hand side of the car for the driver (thanks Down Under upbringing), I thought the dog was driving. It wasn’t. The dog would’ve had better taste in cars. The flames were purely cosmetic, but it smelt like something was burning. The exhaust was thick and odious. Thanks to traffic on the street, we caught up to, walked past, then got passed by it three times. So we got to smell its crusty old exhaust a charming amount.
  • I spotted someone wearing a winter coat that was so brand new, they’d forgotten to take the price tag out of the hood. I just thought it was kinda funny.
  • I overheard a girl in Value Village begging her mother to buy her Harley Quinn accessories for Halloween. That’s not super odd. The girl was taller than I was and until she opened her mouth I thought she was a grown ass woman. So it was more a juxtaposition of reality and expectations than anything. It reminded me of so many times shopping with my parents, begging for dumb things I’d probably use once or twice, but my parents well understood how quickly I’d get bored of them. So when the girl said “please Mum? I’m gonna use it basically every day” with full sincerity, I had trouble stifling a sensible chuckle. While I stood in the women’s section looking for booty shorts that I could affix fur strips pulled from a soft toy to create a pseudo loin cloth thing. Yes, this perfect ordinary teenager was the weird one.

The point is, nobody is normal. We’re all weird as fuck. Get along, folks.

If a guy was horny, but too baked to get it up, would he be between a stoned and a hard place?

Day four of JFL42 and I’ve entire abandoned any notion of doing reviews.

I’ve got a life outside of the festival, y’know. Even if I’m eschewing it entirely. I’m more than my ability to park in a chair and observe funnier people make funnier observations than I could. I’m also a) not getting paid to do so, b) trying to build up a portfolio or c) getting free shows out of it. Also d) literally nobody cares about them. Don’t worry, my feelings aren’t hurt. It just means I can continue in my usual vein of talking utter nonsense and not sleeping.

So here’s a thing. Weed is getting legalised in under a month and we’re not talking about it as much as we should be. That’s a pretty big fucking deal. It’s been a mainstream maligned substance for the better part of a century and suddenly it’s all gonna be kosher? Why aren’t we spending every day discussing the myriad of ways that society could change with its widespread adoption? Are prior convictions going to be overturned at all? Or will a likely overwhelmingly POC prison population be left to rot over archaic and outmoded laws? Are coppers still busting people to buff up the coffers?

Who can and can’t sell? Is it just going to be a governmental organisation like the LCBO? Or is the PC government planning on making a buttload of back pocket deals to license retailers? Will weed be available in bakeries? Bars? Cafes? Cannabis coffee/cocktails? Will weed products become more mainstream? Cosmetics like balms and lotions? Will hemp products face a resurgence? Will we be able to smoke everywhere or only in designated zones? Will smoking dope be treated as nicotine is? Will vaping be allowed indoors? Will there be weed only clubs, no alcohol allowed? What about in restaurants? Can you smoke while eating outside? What about the office? Will smoking weed be considered equivalent to alcohol? Not on company hours? Will it be looked down upon at work gatherings? Or once again be treated as alcohol is? What about medical marijuana? If you have a prescription because of anxiety or anything, will you be able to smoke up before coming back in the building to move numbers around a spreadsheet?

What industries are on the verge of emerging? Will we see an explosion of weed based journalism and editorial content? Will weed find its way into physical fitness? CBD based protein bars or smoothies? Will you be allowed to smoke then get behind the wheel? Will there be more accidents due to reduced reaction times? Will Chinese restaurants become governmentally run because of their vital importance to a stoned society? Will pizza pockets be covered by OHIP? What if you have The Munchies as a pre-existing condition?

How will social stigma impact use? Is it something that most people do/are doing already? Will legality only serve to make people talk openly about it? You’d be hard pressed to find any opinion leaders getting grilled over enjoying the occasional glass of whiskey or wine. What about a joint or edible? Will weed still be treated as the domain of unambitious layabouts? Or will assenting public figures help shift the tide of perspective?

Most importantly, will the public be educated on weed strains and their effects? The last thing we need is more businesses blowing smoke up our arses.