More like High Confide-lity.

It’d hardly be an exaggeration to say that “nostalgia” was one of my six senses. It’s likely on a higher rung than smell. My nose is a fickle friend, but my brain is so laden with memories that touching, seeing, hearing or tasting something is enough to make me tumble back in time. My friend recently started a dating podcast. It’s in its infancy, but both episodes released so far are fantastic. Of course they are, she’s a real life matchmaker. In the most recent episode, she has a conversation with her husband. It’s great. He’s a wonderful dude and he so eloquently and systematically lays out perceptive analysis of himself and his dating experiences. At the same time, so much of what he said resonated intimately with my own experiences. It was like being 20 again, but with the filter only meaningful life experiences can provide.

I was a different person back in my 20s. Naturally some core attributes were still the same. I’ve always loved words and puns, been obsessed with pop-culture. I’ve been fiercely passionate about the things I’ve cared for since I knew how to form an opinion. At the same time, ten years ago I was still very much learning who I was. Hatching from the shelter of an educational system and crawling out into the adult world meant some harsh lessons were incoming. I had to grow and change in order to truly be my own person.

Yeah? I’m sure you’re asking doesn’t everyone? Sure they do. My particular struggles focused around one thing: Confidence. In some areas I strutted by comfortably. I knew I was smart, capable and likeable. Dating though? I had all the experience and wisdom of a child. Years of being overweight had crippled my self-confidence. I questioned why anyone would find me interesting or attractive. I’d say that I crashed and burned, but frankly it was so rare for me to put myself out there that I rarely had the chance. I’d get these deep and debilitating crushes where one conversation was enough to make me obsessively swoon. I’d waste an alarming amount of emotional energy fretting about how to navigate my interest, how unlikely it was that there was reciprocal attraction, etc.

Po, my friend in the podcast episode I linked above, addresses this well. He mentions how outward approval can become your sole motivation in dating. This hit hard. I used to care so much about how the other person thought about me that I’d disregard how I felt about myself. Clearly I didn’t matter, only they did. If I wasn’t the kind of person they wanted, I needed to be. I’d have to change myself to be commensurate with their desires. Po also talks about pedestal-ing, or infatuation causing you to build up the subject of attraction to a level of idolatry. This would happen to me constantly. I’d see myself as some kind of lower life form, which ironically is the least attractive thing a person could do. My response to my own feelings were directly pushing away the people I wanted to get closer to.

Worse, this had a negative impact in any relationships that followed. By seeing the object of my affection as more important than myself, I developed the habit of forcing myself to mould around their desires. While it was great to invest in someone else and care about them, the unfortunate side effect was disregarding my own needs. I’m sure you can see how this would effect long term relationships, right? Of course they all imploded. Unhappiness does that. I’d become gradually more wound up and embittered and that would seep into my view of the relationship. By exclusively catering to them, I also divested them of the opportunity to give back. People who love each other enjoy being able to help their partners and I was stripping them of that recourse.

I’m on the precipice of my 30th year, and certain things are becoming abundantly clear. Time is a gift. I’ve learned that piece by piece with each passing solar cycle. Each rotation only drives the point home. Perspective is everything. It not only helps us understand why the past occurred the way it did, but how better to shape our future. Dwelling with dread doesn’t serve us one iota, but reflection can help us better see the best path forward.

Or am I blatantly trying to justify watching High Fidelity for the 80th time?

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They’re pretending to be something they’re not. Doesn’t that make Autobots as deceptive as Decepticons?

Do you know what’s cute? Looking back at stories you wrote as a child. That’s cute. I’ll always remember one of my most salient pieces of kid fiction: “Optimus Prime met Megatron. The Decepticons shot the Autobots with their lasers. The Autobots died.” There’s a clear arc. The stage is set, characters established. We see the characters take action and overcome adversity. Then there’s a satisfying conclusion. I couldn’t write better these days if I tried. Do you know what’s not cute? Looking back at any writing after the age of ten.

Teenage stuff? Oh geez it’s dreadful. I remember, as an adult, finding my diary from age 15. It was firmly couched in the exact time and age to be classified as “emo”. Lots of “I like all the girls, but they don’t like me. Something something System of a Down. Why do adults treat teenagers like kids? We’re way more mature than they give us credit for. Man, getting drunk is so cool.” That wasn’t verbatim, but not far off. Of course there’s no value in criticising our past selves, but fuck it’s fun to rip them new orifices. It’s so easy to shred the versions of us who bled hormones, who felt like adults undergoing constant body dysmorphia. When we could understand more of the world around us, without realising how much wider the world was than our viewpoint captured. There’s a question I oft see floated “would you restart your life with the knowledge and experience you have now?” Each time it’s those teenage years that give me pause. Could all the intelligence in the world counteract the ever-present fear of cumming in your pants at any moment?

A different experience is reading your writing from later. As a 25 year old, you’re technically considered an adult. I’m barely considering myself an adult going on 31. I still don’t consider whoever I was at 25 the kind of bloke who would’ve paid taxes (I mean, I did. No need to come at me, IRD). At 25 I flew to the U.S. with a bunch of mates, rented an RV and drove across The States. Today I stumbled across our old travel blog and read it again. It was about what you’d expect. Some parts were bafflingly hard to digest, either in message or perspective. Certain references are too insular, based around group dynamics or New Zealand memes. Others have fallen by the pop-cultural wayside. A 2012 Twilight reference seems a lot less inspired in 2018. Some viewpoints still needed a few years to slow cook before becoming fit for human consumption. In a few parts it was just poorly written or made scant sense. It’s nice to know some things haven’t changed.

At other moments I was surprised to find passages that read well. Vocabulary I’ve since forgotten or cycled out. There was a creativity and excitement about the world I found refreshing. Occasional lucid moments that still resonate. Most pieces were basically journal entries (what’s changed?), but I found workarounds to lighten them up. One of them I did time based mental snapshots, using certain moments to create a larger picture of the day. Our New Orleans adventure was structured as a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. It was silly and gratuitous, but remains a neat read.

I can’t deny that any of it happened, it’s all there for the decades to lay bare. On the other hand, why would I care? None of us would be who we are without the steps we took. If they didn’t leave an imprint, what would be the point?

I, for one, plan on dancing myself clean of 2017 tonight.

New Year’s Eve. Not that all new years are created even. My 2017 was a trying time. It was a year where things felt stagnant. I’ve never experienced such a strong sense of inertia. I had a lot of dismay around my career and the lack of progress. For the first time in quite a while I actively worried about where I was going with my life. There was a general sensation of “fine but unexciting” which I’m guessing is what adulthood is all about. Towards the end some wheels began turning, which makes me think that 2018 could be a year of meaningful recalibration. A personal state of the nation and mission statement towards living the life I want. 2017: Not a total trash fire, but a necessary pit stop.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. Here are some neat things I did in 2017:

  • I turned 30. To celebrate, I visited my friends and family back in New Zealand.
  • I ticked Los Campesinos off my bucket list.
  • I visited Montreal. Twice.
  • Trained for Tough Mudder on my own and saw massive results.
  • Had a Portland vacation/culinary awakening.
  • Saw my most JFL42 shows ever. 33 gigs over ten days.
  • Made a bunch of new friendships and greatly deepened a few existing ones.
  • Conducted my first ever business pitch meeting, despite being terrified to do so.

There was more, of course. It’s impossible to sum up the ebb and flow of an entire year in a bunch of bullet points and still capture its nuance. I mean, I took a bunch of great poops too, but I somehow they didn’t make the list. Speaking of shit, I thought it’d be neat to look back at some of my New Year’s celebrations that weren’t so happy.

The year 2000 had been riddled with hype. The banks were gonna reset, the world would implode and we’d all ride a wave of mutilation into Armageddon. Instead, I developed a rampant and highly contagious skin rash. I had to be doused in anti-bacterial cream and, being 12 years old, had no grand plans in any case. One of my friends and I rented an N64 from the video store. We played Super Smash Bros all day and night until the Willenium approached. We loaded up on V (a popular guarana based NZ energy drink) and went down to the wharf to watch the New Years fireworks. They were all kinds of uninspiring and I was quite dismayed that the world didn’t end.

Somewhere between 2008-2010 we had a house party. I was surrounded by friends and I was in my early 20s. We’d all planned to be… not sober? Unfortunately we spent $60 on duds and spent the entire night anxiously waiting for them to kick in. The evening shat the bed big time and we drank while mourning the times we could’ve had. Oh to be young again.

In 2011 I was in New York with a group of friends. I finally found somewhere that had Four Loko and I grabbed two cans. I drank one and a half cans (or approximately Six Loko), which kicked in quickly. My friend’s teetotaller boyfriend kept plying me with alcohol and I got way too drunk and emotional. I’d broken up with my longtime girlfriend a few months before leaving for the vacation and hadn’t really processed it. I started loudly weeping, but fortunately my friends just laughed at my misfortune and I didn’t harsh their buzz. Then we went to The Katz’ Deli and I almost got kicked out for significantly failing to understand their ticket based order system.

Last year my girlfriend and I were travelling to New Zealand on the 31st of December. We kissed in Los Angeles at Toronto midnight while eating sub-par, overpriced airport sushi. Then I failed to sleep on planes for the next 20 or so hours.

Let’s raise a toast to everyone’s New Year’s plans being better than any of the ones I just mentioned.

See you next year.

Admit it, you were Let Down by those Thom Yorke jokes.

Today’s gonna be one of them mad dash to get this finished pieces. Don’t expect insight, salient views or scrumptious mental titillation. I wouldn’t ever expect that, but today will be devoid of any valid content. Bullet point time.

  • First up, Crabcore. Crabcore isn’t something that springs to mind often, but every once in a while I remember it and giggle a bunch. Then I’ll watch “Stick Stickly” a few times. If you’ve never seen Crabcore before, it’ll become apparent pretty quickly in the video. My favourite move is the Crabhammer. I might try a couple of crab moves, but invariably my pants are too tight.
  • It’s rare that I don’t flirt with memories of Crabcore without going back to check in with Crunkcore. It also was a thing. The music is twice as terrible and the imagery is silly as hell. I’m not gonna lie though, I’m kind of a fan of saturated colours. Maybe I have residual goodwill because one of the guys reminds me of Kevin Nealon, but much shorter.
  • When I think of saturated colours, I can’t help (falling in love) thinking of Hobo with a Shotgun. Brutal cartoon violence and a deeply uncomfortable colour palette. It was not a great movie, but with a couple of friends and a few drinks, it was pretty damn enjoyable.
  • A film that was great? Turbo Kid was great. I’ve raved about it here before. Set in the post apocalyptic future of 1997, it’s a glorious mishmash of Mad Max imagery with the spirit of BMX Bandits. Like Hobo with a Shotgun there was gratuitous cartoon violence, but it was a considerably more light-hearted affair. Great 80s throwback soundtrack and iconography. A joint Canadian/NZ film production, it’s one I need to see again.
  • Would Thom Yorke be considered idiosyncrateque?
  • Would Thom Yorke date on OKCompupid?
  • Is Thom Yorke’s first child named Kid A?
  • Was “Honey” Thom Yorke’s nickname for Pablo Escobar?
  • Does Thom Yorke remember Amnesiac?
  • Does Thom Yorke poo out moon shapes?
  • Does Thom Yorke call yoga “The Bends”?
  • Does Thom Yorke consider Lamb Shank the King of L(i/a)mbs?

I’ve done enough damage here. I’m out.

Some things are stranger than Stranger Things.

I’ve got nothing specific to talk about today, but let’s see where this goes. We finished Stranger Things 2 last night, but it feels a bit early to get into it. So let’s not.

While we’re on the topic of entertaining media, I’ve got a hot tip on a fun audio story. It’s kinda like an old-timey radio play, but streamable. A friend of mine is part of a local theatre group who produce fantastic plays. They’re a mainstay of Toronto Fringe each year. How to Build a Fire is the story of a small town dealing with the aftermath of tragedy and unpacking the mysteries behind it. It’s six episodes long, just under three hours in total. It’s well directed and acted, with clean and clear audio production. It also does a great job of making neat character moments and drip feeding you information at a solid rate. I loved listening along at work, hearing new clues come to light as it progressed. Enjoying how they weaved together various storytelling tropes with relatable character writing, lifting the words off the page. Theatre Brouhaha regularly put together some of my favourite on stage content, so any chance I get to promote what they’re up to is a bonus for me. If they keep on getting attention, I’m sure it’ll lead to them putting together more content. Win win, right?

It’s Halloween, which is rad. If you’re looking for something to watch tonight, might I suggest Braindead/Dead Alive? It’s a classic 1992 New Zealand horror comedy from our beloved Sir Peter Jackson. While he’s now better known as a large Hollywood director, back in the 90s his forte was the world of z grade horror films. Campy and over the top, silly as hell and funny as fuck. All set in the picturesque backdrop of small New Zealand cities. Braindead is a great zombie film with a ton of Kiwiana thrown in. Alternatively, Bad Taste revolves around aliens invading Earth to harvest humans for their intergalactic fast food restaurant. If you’re into hyper cartoony gore and insight into why Peter Jackson was such a curious choice to direct the LoTR films, they should answer some questions.

I went to the gym yesterday and noticed a peculiar occurrence. A woman walked into the free weights area (no, that’s not weird), talking on her phone. I assume. She was wearing headphones and talking, so she was probably on a call? She strolled up to a bench, put her towel down and kept chatting. I know she hadn’t just arrived, because she was on the exercise bike next to me during my warm up. I was free weights area adjacent for maybe the next half hour. She stayed on her phone the entire time. She wasn’t picking anything up, but neither did she move her towel. All of the benches were in use, but she didn’t budge. Nobody approached her, because they probably also assumed she was about to make use of the bench she’d dibsed. I didn’t understand it. Had she intended to work out, but got caught up in a call? What kind of call takes that long? Who has such confidence that they’ll take a personal call for over half an hour in a public place? Or was she just there to perv on people? No stress, but if that was her plan why would she monopolise equipment that other people could use? Was she crafting some kind of alibi to excuse her perving?

Or am I entirely wrong and was she just an oblivious dick without consideration for other people? Because the pieces fit.

Are you complicit? #metoo.

Any of you been on social media today? It’s sad that this #metoo campaign had to exist, but the hope is that the bravery of sexual assault survivors (A.K.A. every woman ever) in coming forward both highlights the alarming frequency of these assaults and provides solidarity for those whom it’s an all too common occurrence. I mean, there should be little argument that any occurrence is all too often, but let’s be real. We live in a world of shitty gendered bias. There are many reasons it sucks to be a woman in our society. Whereby so often these assaults went unmentioned or understated #metoo seems to have changed those ellipses to exclamation marks. Good. I (naively?) hope any who’s been wilfully hiding under a rock starts to take notice.

I’ve seen an avalanche of invaluable conversations. I feel stuck in this weird rally back and forth. It’s not the least bit surprising to hear of how widespread this behaviour is, but that doesn’t make it nice to hear. It’s fantastic to see these aforementioned conversations being raised, but disheartening how commonly the #notallmen brigade jumps in to recuse the statistical validity of calls against men to do better.

I don’t know if any #notallmenonites are reading, but maybe try looking at women calling on men to do better a little differently. It’s another way of saying “the exception proves the rule”. If a woman is talking about her mistreatment at the hands of men and you don’t think it applies to you, maybe you’re the exception that proves her overall rule. If that’s the case, try not jumping in and making it about you, because it probably wasn’t about you in the first place.

The thing is men, we’re all complicit in this societal bias whether we realise it or not. I’d be very surprised to hear otherwise. It’s pervasive enough to be unavoidable. Over the years I’ve said and done a ton of things that contributed to the culture without understanding the insidious ways in which I did so. I’m sure I still do. Acknowledging past faults is important in seeing the path towards better behaviour. Here’s a short list of the stuff I have done and/or may still do unintentionally:

  • Rape jokes. In my teens/early 20s the concept of punching down wasn’t even a blip on my radar. It was all about being as edgy as possible, to push the boundaries to reassert some misguided sense of bravery. Oh no, of course I didn’t think rape was funny, but using it as an abstract concept showed, I dunno, my unwillingness to adhere to rigid social structures? Fuck that. How brave I was as someone who didn’t most likely would never have to face the act firsthand. Fuck off forever, this mentality.
  • Devils Advocate. Forcing people to argue something that caused them emotional strife. Never mind that I had no emotional stake in the subject, I just wanted to argue and flex my intellectual muscles. Or I just liked being “technically right” or some other shitty nonsense. Once again, fuck off forever.
  • Placing my desire for sex above the autonomy, needs and wants of women. Even if I’d never physically pushed anyone towards any sexual activity they weren’t actively seeking (I may well have), so much of this stuff is insidious and ingrained. Did I wilfully misinterpret or ignore “no” signals and keep pushing for a “yes”? Did I objectify women and see them for how their sexuality could benefit me rather than as a person? Befriend women purely because I wanted to sleep with them?
  • Judging women on the way that they looked or dressed. Way to discount someone’s humanity. The clothes that I wear do not fully express the person that I am. Why would anyone else be different?
  • Ignored or spoken above women because I innately didn’t value their opinion? Of course. I’ve spent my life as a loudmouth and it feels like I’ve only recently learned the importance of listening. I have no doubt that I constantly did this and likely still do without thinking.
  • Constant use of gendered language. I’m sure a ton of people mock this kind of specificity, but I feel like there’s something in the way that we talk. Language is an important tool in conveying both meaning and intent. The number of times I’ve referred to large groups of mixed gender as “guys” doesn’t sound like much, but it also sends subtle messages about gender based hierarchy. It’s something I’ve picked up unintentionally throughout my life, but there’s no reason why we can’t unlearn unhelpful patterns. Nobody is truly ever too old to change.

This is not even the tip of the iceberg. Like it or not, all men contribute to patriarchal dominance and oppression. If you’re interested in changing this, maybe examine your behaviours and decide which of these contribute to the kind of world you want to see. Listen to women, not just when it’s trending. If they’re not talking, become the kind of safe space where they feel they can confide. If women are confiding in you, don’t just be horrified. Act, change, grow and help embolden this change in others. Call in shitty behaviour when you can. Call it out when it’s necessary. We can all be better and we have no reason not to continually work towards whatever shape “better” takes in our lives. It’s not a destination, it’s a journey.

Bismuth is booming.

I had a psychic reading today. Maybe I was just jazzed about the release of St Vincent’s MASSEDUCTION and her pending Fear the Future tour. Perhaps I was just concocting a tangent that allowed me to talk about how great St Vincent’s new album is and how excited I’ve been for its release. As an ardent fan of basically everything Annie Clark has done since Actor (I like the stuff beforehand, that was just the point at which I discovered her work), I’ve been glued to the endless tongue-in-cheek mini interviews she’s been posting over Facebook. I’ve adored the visual direction of her album promotion and I’m so stoked that the album delivered this hard. Once an artist gets big enough that they’re advertising in Times Square, I think it’s only fair to worry that they may have strayed into some kind of diluted mass appeal. Worries abated, I’ve now got something to sink my teeth into over the next few months.

Anyway, the reading. Some spirituality store on Bloor was doing an open house. Free Tarot/mini psychic readings. My girlfriend and I were looking for fun daytime activities and figured it’d be worth checking out. As a kid who grew up on fantasy novels, horror films and superhero stories I’ve always wanted to find something, anything that’d let me grasp onto a belief that there’s another layer of existence out there. As if by attuning oneself, you could peel back the veneer and become receptive to another plane. To bring magic and/or the supernatural into our world. To touch the past and/or future and roam the world in a more confident, knowing sense. To finally understand what it is that people get out of spirituality and use that to enhance my life.

Of course, every time I walk into a store and see suggestions that crystals are anything more than geological growths, my asshole involuntarily clenches. I’m not trying to imply in any way that there’s anything wrong with these kind of beliefs. For all I know (which is nothing, in this case) Bismuth, a lab grown metal crystal, may well have spiritual properties. If it doesn’t, but it happens to make people more comfortable/confident to believe that, then I’m glad they’re coming out of it with a positive result.

Oh, that’s right. The reading. The dude started me off by saying that he’d just finished his course. That he went into it out of interest and found some latent abilities as he progressed. I appreciated his candour, but at the same time diminishing his successes was a poor way to engender confidence in me about his abilities. He said that I struck him as an organised person, but at times not. Okay, fair enough. Sometimes I am more organised than others. He said he saw a big family disagreement with me. I thought for a second. Nope, not that I’m aware of. Or maybe it was with a friend. Someone’s pissed at me? Bummer. Definitely a money loaning thing. I haven’t loaned anyone money, so that struck me as a little odd. He mentioned a sick family member. Someone in the hospital. Or it could be one of my friends. Maybe one of my friend’s family members. At this point I wasn’t sure if this came to him or if he was fishing for a nibble. I found myself not wanting to look him directly in the eyes, because I felt like it might throw him off. This was odd, considering that I go through life looking most people directly in the eyes. He said I was someone who was quite into playing sports. Is Magic the Gathering a sport yet? I wondered. Yep, definitely into sports, he continued, contact sports. Contact sports are my least favourite type of sports, I thought. He continued. A business venture I was looking to do would fail. Wait, no. It wouldn’t fail, but it would be harder to make work than it initially appeared. It would take more people than it initially appeared, but it could work. He asked me if I had any questions I wanted to consult him on. I told him thanks for his help. After I left the room I saw him walk out of the store, to return several minutes later with a bottle of water. Maybe he was just tired?

Dear universe. I’m open to it, but you’ve gotta give me a better sign than that.