Another life, a lifetime ago.

There’s this radio ad I keep hearing (given that the radio is played in the kitchen and toilets (ya rly) at work). It’s terrible. It’s one of those client voiced ads and every time I hear it, I cringe a little harder. It’s the sound of a production engineer giving zero fucks and wanting to be finished by 5pm. “Here at [insert disability lawyer’s name here] we ONLY GET PAID. when you get paaaaid.” Weird fucking line reads with emphasis erratically sprinkled throughout as if by some darkest timeline Salt Bae. It’s not Prod’s fault that the ad turned out awful. They no doubt got press-ganged into it. Some sales rep with no regard for the on air result wanted an easy sale. I get it. I know how these things happen because I’ve had it happen to me time and time again.

Why is a client voicing at all? Because it’s an easy sales pitch. Appealing to the ego is the lowest common denominator of pitches, it’s pretty gross shit. “Oh, you’d be great. You’re such a big personality and you’d sound amazing on the airwaves. Just think of how much new customers will love walking in and meeting that celebrity they’d heard on air.” Vomit. The only thing more disgusting is how easily it works. Then you as a production engineer have to deal with the fallout.

Sales rep walks into your studio at 4pm telling you that a client is coming in to voice. Notice the lack of the word “ask” anywhere in that sentence? Typically this “conversation” happens ten minutes before this client is due in the studio. You ask them why a client is voicing again. Was it really necessary for the script to have it client voiced? Of course, they assure you. You tell them they’re lying. They reassure you that you just haven’t met this person yet. They’re hilarious, they’ll be fantastic. You tell them they’re lying, that they’re always lying and that they’re scum. Scum who makes three times as much as you do. You tell them (notice the lack of the word “ask” anywhere in that sentence?) to leave your studio, that you have rules about Sales Reptiles leaving their slime around. Tell them it’s bad for the equipment. They leave and you briefly consider self-mutilation as a less painful experience than the one you’re about to undergo.

After they leave, creative (the writers) walk in to apologise. They assure you they ripped out 70% of the copy to make it workable. They said the original script they were given was abysmally overwritten. Also it made no sense, mentioning a plethora of irrelevant details, but the sales rep told the client it was fantastic, so they felt chuffed. Creative apologises, but you’re not gonna shoot the messenger. You briefly regret that it’s illegal to shoot sales. As you do every day.

Sales arrives at the door with the client. “I leave them in your capable hands.” You look down at your “capable” hands and wonder how quickly they could strangle the life out of the reptilian shapeshifter standing outside the door. You invite the client in. Sales thankfully stays behind the door frame. Outside arm’s reach. Next time.

You get them in the booth and give them a couple of notes:

  • Stand up straight, but relax your shoulders.
  • Smile as you talk, it comes through in the voice.
  • Don’t stress about getting it on the first try, we have the technology.
  • Don’t just read the words, think about what they mean.

They may get one or two of the four things, but three or four requires some arcane planetary alignment. Usually they mumble, slouch, emphasise the wrong parts, speak too quickly or slowly. You reassure them not to worry, that it’s going great. You look over at the pile of work already sitting in your In Progress tray and cry on the inside. After 15 minutes of audio for a 30 second ad, you tell them they nailed it. Good job. You know you’ll fix it in post. You take them back out to reception. Two minutes later Sales comes in to say thanks. You tell them to fuck right off. You mean it. Five minutes later Creative walks in, apologises. Asks you if you want to grab a beer after you’re finished.

You say sure. Tell them you’ll be finished by 5pm.

The ad is in the client’s inbox before they arrive back at the office.

It’s a foregone conclusion that I don’t trust myself, but others are pretty reliable.

It feels like an age since I’ve “done” anything. I don’t mean like I’ve been frozen in carbonite. I’ve been out and about, though rarely after dark because it’s cold and I’ve kind of had enough of winter by now. I mean I’ve been unproductive. I’ve had spare time, which has virtually all been sunk into this ridiculous early 90s Magic the Gathering game. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been enjoying the down time, but something inside me is itching, telling me I need to create or perish. I mean, look at my writing lately, with the exception of that Clickhole style piece I put together it’s basically been LivejournalLite around here. Things have been calm, and I’ve been self-taught (by my own neuroses) to believe that if I don’t make a storm of my own, I won’t like the one that inevitably comes in its place.

I’ve potentially got an interview on Sunday with one of my favourite bands. A band I’ve been following for years. They’re bloody prolific and lyrically dense. I’m kind of low-key terrified of this whole shebang. I’m certain it’s gonna be a don’t meet your heroes situation, that either they’ll prove to be dicks or I’ll be shamefully unprepared and feel like a bag of dicks. In this scenario I’m the bag holding the dicks, not having a craving that only a bag sized quantity of dicks can satisfy. I’m trying to think of interview questions, but it’s like butting my head against a wall repeatedly.

What can I ask them that will actually engage them, that won’t make me appear a total twat? Questions that aren’t the same stock ones interviewers throw at them every time. What angle can I take? I’m not a particularly cerebral fellow so it would be downright odd to try and approach them on that kind of conceptual level. I’m certain that they’re smarter than me, so it’ll be all I can do to not just nod repeatedly while trying to bite my own tongue out of mortification. Moreover, I know that being terrified to do it is all the more reason I should, so next time it’ll be one millimetre less frightening.  I need to do the things I’m not good at to get better, right? That’s how upskilling works?

The other tumbleweed rolling around in my head gathering bracken is about a sitcom idea. I had a dream the other night about writing a show. It felt so possible, but with work required that when I woke up, I went back to dream and made my brain keep working on the elevator pitch. I don’t want to talk about the specifics here, but I mentioned it on Facebook and developed traction with a friend about potential plot lines. The more we talked about it, the more realised it felt.

My first reaction to anything like this is always to dismiss it, because the thought of how much work it would take makes me want to never think about the idea again. Yet again though, it’s something that scares me, which means I should likely be running at it headfirst. It’s not something I could do alone. I’m far enough removed from the subject matter that I’d need to work with people who’ve lived elements of the experience. If I could help facilitate that though, I know so many funny, creative people who would knock this concept out of the park. What would be the harm in getting together in a room for a day and sharpen the soft edges? Maybe put together a basic outline that could be honed into a tighter script? If time is the big cost, is that really such a loss?

What have I got to fear?

I’ll be honest, this blows.

Honest Ed’s has closed its doors to the public for the last time. Non-Torontonians would find it hard to understand why the locals are finding it difficult to let go of a run down cheap department store. Hell, by now I’d be considered a local and frankly I’m not entirely sure what I saw in the place. Honest Ed’s was a landmark, not least because of it’s garish, carnival-esque signage. Orange, yellow and white, festooned with an array of flickering light bulbs. Honest Ed’s mantra seemed to be cheap goods at prices to fit. By no means was this a dollar store style enterprise, Honest Ed’s was slightly higher in price and doubtfully higher in quality. It also seemed to be the kind of place that was a rite of passage. No doubt if you were moving out of home for the first time, you’d get your mop, kettle or meat tenderiser from Ed’s. Then the summation of this rite of passage occurred if you managed to find your way out of its labyrinthine corridors. The place was like something out of Greek Mythology, wherein the terror of being trapped was enough to turn your heart to stone. It was enormous and comprised of so many sections. Dinky tourist stuff, kitchen utensils and appliances, children’s toys, exercise equipment, tools and cosmetics. Untrendy clothing galore. Legend says that if you ventured far enough in, there was a hair “salon” hiding out somewhere. There’s nothing you could tell me about the place I wouldn’t believe. Especially if it involved a real life minotaur.

Ed’s didn’t play a large role in my life, but for all the sub-ten times I went, it was memorable. I picked up a handful of things; a vegetable steamer I use most evenings, a sewing kit with a now broken zipper that has become a total nightmare in my ‘assorted’ drawer. The needles have spilled out everywhere and magnetised. The amount of times I’ve pricked myself trying to grab a hammer or Allen key are innumerable. There was the one time my ex and I bought adult diapers from Ed’s, but that’s a whole entry in itself.

This weekend has become a celebratory funeral for the store. A festival of art and local culture winding through the expansive lot. Friday evening held a craft beer guided tour. There have been farmers markets and trade bazaars going on over the past couple of days. Last night was the much anticipated closing party, complete with a mass of DJs, lighting and decoration. I’m not sure how that went, it sold the fuck out and last minute tickets could scarcely be found. I’m not bitter. Much.

My girlfriend and I explored the art maze yesterday, which was stupendous fun. Ranging from the pretentious to the weird, funny and stunning, it was an awesome send-off. As huge as I always thought the complex was, having the back rooms and offices open really helped widen my eyes to its gargantuan presence. Two separate buildings, four floors each, none of which seemed to link in a coherent fashion. Having a critical mass of art around helped disguise the fact that you were really just wandering blindly until you emerged into sunlight. Graffiti was openly encouraged and a ton of the pieces were interactive (like the light harp, an instrument you placed by running your hands through beams of light. As nifty as it sounds). A few exhibits involved creepy dolls, some of which were animatronic. Music, dance, scripted performance (including a fun piece about the last standing employee, written by a friend of mine). An array of kitch, as well as heartfelt tribute., To top it all off, it was catered by Collective Arts Brewing.

Soon the space will all be torn down for condos and another weird bump in Toronto’s history will be beaten into conformity. The Annex is being annexed. So it goes. Anyway, I’m off to go steam some veggies.

The weakest kind of ammoonition.

Do you think lactose intolerant white supremacists are finally learning about the dangers of intolerance? Also, seriously? You’re gonna make chugging milk an act of hatred now? Cows don’t even know what racism is. You’re using a heavily processed dairy product as a statement of purity. Do you understand how ridiculous that is? This “pure” substance has been collected, separated, fortified, pasturised, homogenised then packaged. It’s like saying you’re really into stealing cars, then playing a game of Second Life where your character plays Second Life, playing a character who plays the PSOne Grand Theft Auto through a PC emulator. There are a lot of filters between you and your message, dude. Also please do a ton of gallon challenges so I can see you vomiting up your corroded vital organs all over your worthless bodies. They’re not doing you or the world any good here. Thanks.

Plus, why use plain milk as a symbol of your pride when it’s not even the most delicious one? Don’t get me wrong, I love me a big glass of milk (oddly enough, growing up on skim milk, I kind of prefer it. It’s what you’re used to, right?). Before I started drinking coffee I’d often order milk at a cafe in lieu of a hot drink. That being said, chocolate milk is the tits! If you neo nazis have a problem with that, I’m pretty sure the entire nation of NZ want to fight you. Strawberry is great too. Banana may be the only flavour that really wouldn’t hold its own, but I’m happy to leave artificial banana out to drown. Fuck artificial banana. Also fuck these bigoted, ignorant, hateful fucks who care so little for others that they’re ruining a quality dairy product for the rest of the world.

The thing they’re missing in this whole dumb (and it started on 4chan, not known for its inspired political idealism (“For the LULZ” doesn’t exactly evoke confidence)) milk as purity thing is that milk is at its absolute best in an assistance role. I love milk, but milk tends to be one mere aspect of a more holistically enjoyable recipe. Chocolate cake uses milk, but it’s how that milk works together with the other ingredients that makes chocolate cake as wondrous, smooth and lovably dense as it is. Pancakes, omelettes, cheesy pasta. Hell, milkshakes aren’t just milk. Things work better with cooperation, when we support one another and help accentuate each other’s skills and expertise. Not trying to kill off the parts of us that are unique and special.

Because frankly, we’re all tired of your bullshit.

In other words, failing to work against type.

I’ve spent the last half hour staring at my screen, finding nothing but weak excuses not to write. I could’ve spent that half hour writing about weak excuses not to write and then I’d have the next half hour to do whatever I wanted. So for the next half hour, I’m gonna list weak excuses not to write:

  • I need to find things other than the Guardians of the Galaxy 2 villain that look like Cee Lo’s grammy outfit.
  • 11 minutes having passed since I last opened the fridge, looked around, was tempted by a swig of pineapple juice but instead closed the door and walked back to my computer. I mean, I could’ve at least picked up some water or something. I should probably go check again in case something has changed.
  • Combing through GP Pittsburgh’s top 32 to find at least one deck that wasn’t BG Constrictor, Mardu Vehicles or Copy Cat combo. Whoops, not gonna happen (though seeing Gonti get its time in the sun was some good time).
  • Ignoring the terrible dialogue and gratuitous CW style cheesecake to watch what’s quickly becoming a pretty well crafted teen drama; Riverdale. Oh wait, no new episode until next Friday.
  • Scrolling through Twitter to see people talk about The Grammys, so I can get worked up about an increasingly irrelevant award ceremony that may as well be called the Golden Lobes, vestigial as they are. Also I’m the asshole here. They’re not targeted towards me, why should I give a shit?
  • Meowing back at the cat, who keeps meowing loudly at me like I understand what she’s saying. C’mon cat, can’t you just speak human like the rest of us? Such an intolerant animal.
  • Reading Clickhole headlines out loud at my girlfriend, who’s trying to do her own mindless internet browsing. Then when she’s finally focused in on what she was reading before I so rudely interrupted with my emotional bid, read another one at her.
  • Checking on the pantry, in case it held something alluring that the fridge couldn’t match. Do I ever really need to have something to put marmite on? Or can spoons suffice?
  • Looking around at the many projects I said I’d start before getting distracted. Procrastinating through procrastinating about things I’ll inevitably procrastinate about again? Maybe later.
  • Buying Hindenburg Journalist recording software (tailor made for podcasting) for no good reason other than it’s absurdly cheap right now ($1.90 for World Radio Day instead of $80+). I have Pro Tools. Why would I ever need this?
  • Checking to see if any of my Facebook comments got more likes (even though I have the tab open and I can clearly see that they haven’t).
  • Trying to figure out a wittily worded Facebook post about Cee Lo’s GotG2 Grammy’s outfit.
  • Seeing others do it better.
  • Crying about it.
  • Cheering up once I realised half an hour had passed and so had my daily writing.
  • Finishing without so much as a snappy conclusion.

Negativity is one thing that ain’t in short supply right now. The solution? Positivi-tea!

As the January chill continues cool and unabated, so too does my semi-annual reclusiveness. It’s cold out and I don’t much feel like getting out there and being sociable. It’s fine, that’s why God created video games and subscription streaming services. Wait, what? That was Big Capitalism? Well I guess I know who butters my bread (a butter-ler of course). In any case, I don’t feel like doing anything and the unrelenting negative news running through my social media feed is doubling down on my desire to hermit up and ignore the world. What’s that you say? It’s time for a phoned in list of things I don’t like right now?

Happy to oblige.

  • You know that thing when you’re wearing pants and you pull them down to sit on a toilet seat? Then you pull them back up but the pocket with your wallet or phone twisted while you were seated? Then you try to reach into your pocket to grab said wallet/phone to reorient it but your hand can’t fit in that tight gap? So you’ve gotta grab the object with your thumb and forefinger to repeatedly pull it up and down while slowly turning it around or right out of the pocket? While concurrently you’re leaning your body to the side so your arm can have the necessary manoeuvrability to make it happen? Then someone looks at you and either gives you a raised eyebrow or asks you what you were doing, but the entirety of the explanation is too complicated, so you just tell them your wallet was twisted. Then they grunt affirmatively or nod like they understand , but as they walk away you can see their eyebrow raise anyway or feel the judgement radiating from them because apparently you’re the only person who this ever happens to. That thing.
  • Sharing a communal kitchen at work. It’s not that I don’t like sharing (except for me lucky charms. Hands off, trashbag!), but as always people are either accidental or intentional slobs. Especially in scenarios where the company has cleaning staff or a dishwasher. It sucks, because I get grumpy and monumentally passive aggressive. I’ll get pissed that other people don’t clean up after themselves, but fear of entering a prisoner’s dilemma scenario stops me from cleaning up after others. Thing is, the people who do this don’t care, so even if it’s not my problem it still feels like my problem. No matter what I do, I can’t win. I’ll resort to bringing my own cutlery, cups and plates and hand wash so I can stand back from the whole messy sink clusterfuck, but then I’ve gotta wash them in a sink stacked with dishes. Inevitably they’ll be blocking the drain, so I’ll have to move them out of the way otherwise I’m that asshole who filled the sink up with water.
  • Nazis in the White House. Also what the fuck does Putin have on Trump anyway? Have they made a number of shady profitable business deals, leading to a scenario where Trump fucks over the United States and gets rich in the process, then leaves the country in ruins while he leaves with his cash? Or is Putin just blackmailing him to sell out his country à la Black Mirror‘s “Shut Up And Dance”?
  • When people on a packed subway car refuse to sit down out of politeness to others. C’mon dude, sit your ass down. It means a fraction more room for everyone who’s standing.
  • Nazis outside of the White House, or anywhere for that matter.
  • A constant stream of emotionally overwhelming news on the internet. Feeling disempowered and insubstantial in the face of something so much larger than you.
  • Not drinking. Which in retrospect is probably a good thing at the moment.

Anyway, I just got a new kettle. Time for celebratory tea!

A Mood for Mouthing off.

Because I’ve been procrastinating on the internet all night, it’s time to dig in and get this done. How about a round of dumb complaints?

  • I’m tired because I procrastinated on the internet last night instead of getting a good night of sleep.
  • I’m tired because I’ve been abstaining from drinking coffee. New Zealand’s coffee was so good that I’m loathe to drink shitty coffee and be disappointed.
  • I’m tired because jet lag has finally caught up with me after gloating about avoiding it for the past 24 hours.
  • I’m tired because getting back into work after three weeks of vacation is exhausting (oh poor me).
  • I’m tired because my diet was in travel mode. Getting back to normal food has been a shock to the system.
  • I’m craving rich foods because I’m trying to curb my diet back to something reasonable. The worst part is that they’re easily within reach and I have to exercise willpower. Once again, oh poor me.
  • After eating cheese, bakery food and quaffing booze most nights of my holiday, I feel bloated. I haven’t worked out whether my clothes seeming tight is psychosomatic or not. All I know is that my movement feels sluggish.
  • My body feels achy after my first time back at the gym post holiday. As with everything else, it’ll take a week or two to feel back to normal. Right now it’s like I’ve body swapped with a sloth.
  • Not drinking coffee after drinking so much coffee on vacation is wreaking havoc with my regularity. I used to pride myself so much on my ebullient bowels.
  • I got new slippers. That’s not really a complaint. They’re comfy and come half way up my calves, keeping me warm and toasty. The problem is that when I sit on the dunny my pants (both over and under) can’t slide all the way to the ground.
  • I wanted to chill out and watch something, but as I mentioned I wasted too much time on the internet and the evening is rapidly dwindling.
  • Neil Cicieraga just dropped the third album in the “Mouth” trilogy and because I’m taking a week off Facebook I have nowhere useful to share it.
  • I so want to listen to “Mouth Moods”, but I know how much it’ll lift my morning commute if I save it for tomorrow. I’m part of the internet generation, I’m no longer used to waiting for anything.
  • Then again, part of my identity was forged listening to this twelve times in a row in order to spend several hours downloading Weird Al parodies off Napster. So I guess I need to hand in my Still Jenny from the Block badge.
  • I wanted to go out and watch Moonlight tonight, but as I previously mentioned, I was tired. This means I either need to wait a week for cheap Tuesday tickets (and as I previously mentioned, I’m no longer used to waiting for anything), or see it for full price.
  • I’m mildly miffed that Amy Adams didn’t get a nomination for Arrival. She was fantastic. Then again, The Lobster was nominated for Best Original Screenplay so I have very little to complain about.
  • I like having things to complain about, so I guess The Lobster ensuring that I can’t complain is something to complain about.

If clouds are gonna rain on my parade, at least they have silver lining.