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.

Hoard is where the heart is

I’m extremely lucky that I was raised too pragmatically to be a hoarder.

I know the potential is inside of me. As a kid I practically drooled my way through Consumers Distributing catalogues. Infomercials really worked on me and I swear I still know the Aircore infomercial song. No, I’d never need to make chilli in my freezer, but at least I want the choice, goddammit. I love eclectic single use items and, if I had all the dollars and a bottomless bag of holding, I’d get each and every one. I’d single handedly keep Sky Mall afloat. It’d be like one of those fetishised shots in action movies where they pull open a hidden compartment in a closet and it’s racks on racks on racks of guns. Mine would instead be an array of dog pedometers and automatic melon ballers.

Unsurprisingly, I love thrift stores. Even if I’m not planning on buying anything, window shopping lets me imagine fantasy scenarios where I’d have a use/space for all of that junk. Sometimes when I’m feeling very perky, I’ll actually buy the object in question and bring my fantasy to life. Which is a long way of saying that I now own a Roboraptor. This thing is fucking enormous. It’s longer than the cat. It also terrifies the cat, which brings me no end of joy. I remembered how Roboraptor was the hottest Christmas toy 10-15 years ago. They used to retail for something like $140-$200 back in NZ. I bought this one for $7. At that price, I was practically losing money by not buying it. Right? RIGHT?

Okay, so after getting it, discovering that it still worked and loading it with batteries, I found out that it was missing a remote. This means I’m missing out on being able to control it, or putting it on certain modes like hunting or prowling. Still, for $7 and batteries, I got myself something neat to bring to parties. I’m, not drinking at the moment and I would’ve spent more than that on alcohol. In its basic demo mode, Roboraptor (I’ve named mine Nigel) walks around, is sound sensitive and sometimes lunges at shit. It’s cute and goofy, and pretty neat to have wandering the floor. I know this because I brought it to a space themed party last night. I figured it was appropriate as a sort of ersatz space parrot. I carried it like a toy dog and occasionally set it down and let it run rampant. It was pretty fond of running into corners and hanging out. Each to their own.

I like Nigel a lot (I know, I named it and now I’m attached). Now I’m at a crossroads. Do I pump more money into it and buy a second hand controller? Or do I keep it as is, bring it to another party or two then give it to some kid? It’s a hard call. Nigel isn’t exactly the pinnacle of robotic technology (as a 13 year old toy). I have no doubt that I’d quickly get bored of it and it’d sit on a shelf taking up space. Still, are there real opportunities to use Nigel to bring joy to various scenarios? Could it be fun camping? When I’m bored at work? If we ever end up babysitting? Could it be a great present for some young child? Depending how much use I’d get out of it, $40 could be a pretty reasonable cost for the benefits.

I wonder if Value Village would have second hand Aircores…

Plz halp. Send noodlez

I haven’t watched either Mamma Mia film, but does anyone eat a spicy meatball?

One of the many reasons why it’s good I don’t make films is that I’d try to shove “cute” shit like this into scripts. Just ham fisted dumb jokes only for me. That’s not how you make good programming. That’s what Facebook is for. Hell, that’s what this fucking page is for, and you see how well that goes. Just aimless drifting manifested on a page. As my girlfriend can well attest to, this is what happens when you ask me what I’m laughing at. Something really, really dumb that’s extrapolated from a couple of layers of meaning without being clever. By now we should all realise that I’m not half as clever as I think I am.

I can’t remember the last time I had pasta.

Something that is clever, that I’m quite late to the game with, is The Killing Eve. There’s been a shitton of buzz that I totally ignored. For all the harping on that The AV Club and Vulture have been doing, it went way over my head. I didn’t know it existed until I asked a friend if there was anything else in the vein of Fleabag. Turns out its creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge has a very high profile show that’s garnered Sandra Oh an Emmy nomination. I hope that didn’t come off as cryptic, I mentioned it in the first sentence of this paragraph. Three episodes in, The Killing Eve is phenomenal. I watched two minutes before deciding I needed to see the rest of the show. The writing is so clever. Quick and witty conversation, gorgeously paced, with charming stars. Normally spy stuff feels dry and cliché to me. The Killing Eve is anything but. It’s brutally funny, with the laugh per minute ratio of a sitcom. The production values are exquisite, with no expense spared for lavish set pieces. It’s a cat and mouse game where both species are utterly captivating. You want to see the villain succeed as much as you want her caught. It’s slick and stylish, sexy and silly. It’s quite rare for me to get sucked into dramas, least of all so quickly. If you’re also behind the ball, get on it and watch this show.

Here’s my impression of The Hip Valley Mum: “Carbonara? More like Carb-o-rama, am I right girls?”

We can only ignore this for so long. Maybe I’m actually craving spaghetti and meatballs right now. I never eat pasta these days. I swear I love it, but kind of moved away from it when I tried to veer towards a lower carb lifestyle. I’m definitely not paleo in the least, but I just know as soon as I try pasta I’m gonna want to eat several kilos of it. It used to be a mainstay. I remember when I first moved out of home, a gal at my job sent me a bunch of recipes. Spaghetti and meatballs seemed like a winner, plus I was charmed that she mentioned drinking beer as several of the cooking steps. It got into my regular meal rotation (plus it froze well, definitely a plus) and I’d often overeat instead of portioning correctly. Because it was delicious. Well, more accurately I’d portion it decently enough, but as the night dragged on I’d repeatedly saboutage my leftovers for more food. Then I’d have to eventually reapportion my carefully measured servings in order to have decently sized future meals. “Decently sized” trended towards oversized. So eating pasta ended up being more like overeating pasta.

So am I gonna give into cravings and eat spaghetti for dinner? Here we go again…

Sautéeing my shit out

I ate too much afternoon cheap candy, so now I’m tired. I make my own problems around here.

It’s my fifth Torontoversary and, while it’d make sense to espouse the city’s virtues, I don’t much feel like doing that at the moment. Doug Ford is butting his butthead into the city’s face and the resulting civic pink eye is making me feel less and less charitable by the day towards what’s become my home. I’m not happy that they’re trying to cut the city council in half to “save costs” (and also limit availibility of the remaining overwhelmed councillors). Of course Ford wants a smaller council that’s easier to bribe. Most of Toronto didn’t vote for the slimy shitstain, so what business does he have shredding our representation? I’m incredibly unhappy that he’s halting the Universal Basic Income pilot project, which could’ve served as valuable research for not only the province, but the world. I’m not surprised at this bullish, callous, short sighted behaviour from a brute/bully of the Ford lineage. It comes with the territory.

So instead of zeroing in on the machinations of someone who may come to make me hate the city I love, I want to talk about something I cherish: Food. I adore food. Next to words, food is my second favourite thing. This morning I read an article about Wagyu Beef. It was delightful. Aside from being outlandishly silly and humourously slanted, it also made me irresistably lustful for expensive meats. My mouth literally started watering as he wrote of the complex marbling and laden soft fat content. It affected me so much I frantically began shoving vegemite covered soda crackers into my urging maw to achieve some modicum of umami. Had a cow been within arm’s reach I would’ve bit it, fur and all.

A $250 steak is an unbelievable steak, the quality of which I’ve never experienced. I don’t know if I’d be able to handle food that rich. Of course I could literally digest it, but while I eat food a lot, it’s mostly not fancy. Don’t get me wrong, I love well cooked and expensive food. I treasure fine cuisine in the way many would a fragile newborn, squishy fontanel and all. Ordinarily I treat my mouth with all the delicacy of a woodchipper. I scoff food like I’ve been starved for months. I’ll gorge myself with no concern for posterity. When it comes to fancy dishes, every bite counts. I’ll fall back to a snail’s pace and focus on every little morsel. The texture, taste and cornucopia of flavours. It’s an enriching experience every time and, happens so rarely, that I doubt this will change. Expertly prepared dishes, for me, likely produce the same notions of divinity that church do for religious folk. I ascend as Scooby post Scooby Snack, gently floating back to earth as the lingering aftertaste gently dissipates. Goddamn I could go for a great steak right about now. Why don’t we have an office cow, goddammit?

We don’t have an office cow or even a home cow. My girlfriend and I do, however, have an instant pot. I hate to shill unnecessarily, but the product has been a level up for quality food with minimal effort. Look, it has a ton of functions. We use very few of them. We’re not gonna be making yoghurt or porridge in it any time soon. I doubt bone broth or rehydrating beans is high on our priority list. We’re basically using it as a fast slow cooker/quick all-in-one device that’s batting damn near 100. The only issues so far have been user error and their forfeits have been barely noticable. For all I know, a pressure cooker was good enough and the instant pot aspect of it is irrelevant. I’m not sure that, aside from steamed greens and fried eggs, we’ve cooked anything on the stove since we got it.

Instant pot recipes are everywhere. I’d say the only real downside to owning an instant pot is that we’re getting carpal tunnel from scrolling through the unnecessary preamble in these mommy blog recipes. Outside of that, it’s bliss. Most every recipe is some combination of cut shit up, put it in, seal it and you’ll have dinner plus eight leftover meals in an hour. Take last night’s pork shoulder. We’d bought shoulder because it was $4.30 for a 1.3 kilo chunk and we thought it was like every other pork roast. We had no idea that pork shoulder, because of its fatty content, is meant to be slow cooked for 4-8 hours until it breaks down to carnitas or something pulled. When it comes to dinner, we’re lazy as fuck. We don’t have that kind of time. Dinner for us is looking at what we have in the freezer, defrosting it in the microwave then throwing it on the stove or in the oven and praying we don’t contract salmonella. Sometimes if we’re feeling fancy we’ll defrost meat in the sink. We’re classy like that occasionally.

Last night’s pork shoulder went something like this: My girlfriend put the shoulder in the sink to defrost in the afternoon. I came home and cut it into three chunks. I rubbed seasoning into it. I mixed two tablespoons of soy sauce and brown sugar into a cup of chicken stock. I crushed some garlic and cut an onion. I turned the instant pot onto sauté and seared each side of the pork quickly. Then I threw everything into the pot, sealed it and turned it on for 90 minutes. I let the steam vent for ten minutes, then pulled out the pork. By this point it was practically falling apart on its own. I added some cornstarch and brown sugar to the liquid still in the pot and sauteéd it on high for the next half hour, stirring occasionally. I pulled the pork with two forks while I waited. So just over two hours for maybe eight portions of gorgeously pulled pork, slathered with rich gravy. An hour and a half of that time was just me watching Preacher on my computer. It’s unreal how easy it was, and the high quality of the end result.

Fuck I can’t wait to get home and eat some. Happy Torontoversary to me.