Okay, let’s just beat this thing already

The What: It’s not that politicians can’t stop COVID, it’s that they won’t.

The Why: Politicians don’t actually understand what COVID is, how it works, or how to beat it.

It’s not fair to judge someone on what they don’t know. My country beat COVID, so I’ll explain some things:

1) COVID-19 is not intelligent. It’s a virus, and a virus’ job is to infect things. That’s all it’s doing. It’s good at its job. It doesn’t know we exist, it just does.

2) COVID-19 is not playing politics. An infectious virus is not playing politics. It’s just infecting people. Once again, it’s good at its job.

3) COVID is not a political issue. It’s a public safety issue. The public is being massively infected, people are dying. Every single industry is being impacted, and many are dying.

4) COVID is being looked at as a Problem. Not an Emergency. This part is hard, because when we think of Emergencies we think of sudden occurrences: An Earthquake, a Hurricane, a Tsunami, a Snow Storm. COVID is an Emergency, but it doesn’t look like any of the above.

5) Because COVID is being treated like a problem, politicians are going through their usual methods. They’re trying to address what they can with the budget they have, without getting caught up in political bills that have to run through opposition parties. The goal is to save money, because it’s hard to get agreement without strings attached. Politics sucks for getting things done.

6) Politicians work for Taxpayers. They’re employed to enable better lives for the Taxpayers. The money they’re spending is our money. We’ve given them the power and responsibility to work on our behalf. Remember though, politics sucks for getting things done. Which means a lot of our money is wasted on people trying to get leverage in order to accomplish their goals. They’re spending ENORMOUS amounts of our money on things that aren’t fixing our problems.

***

So if you’re with me so far, COVID isn’t political. It’s a virus doing its job. Politicians’ job is to use the money we give them to create infrastructure and laws to improve our quality of life. COVID isn’t a Problem, it’s an Emergency, and needs to be treated like one. We’re paying them to do a job they’re not doing.

***

I think part of the issue is that politicians don’t know what kind of Emergency COVID is, but they love the economy, so I’ll try to think of a money based metaphor. I’m not a money guy, so this will be kinda loose. Please bear with me, I have good intentions.

COVID is less like a natural disaster, and more like Debt/Interest. If you’ve ever been in Debt, you’ll know that you are charged a fee for being in Debt. It costs you money to be poor. I know, right? You might be charged $20 a month for owing money. The more you owe, the more you pay every month. Maybe you’re paying $100 every month. That’s pretty shit, right? You’re spending money on not having money, which means you’re absolutely paying money to get nothing. This is exactly what COVID is doing, but the scale is exponentially larger.

COVID is like everyone getting simultaneous Debt. Everyone everywhere gets Debt. The amount they have depends on a bunch of factors. The fewer resources you have, the more Debt you have. Working in public is Debt. Taking public transit is Debt. Not being able to afford good PPE is Debt. Living in cramped areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain is Debt. The more Debt you rack up, the higher cost you have to pay every month.

But being rich isn’t enough to ignore Debt. You might have less Debt, but you’re not inoculated from it. The more Debt there is around you, the higher chance there is that you’ll pick some of it up.

Remember, it’s not just one Debt. All of us have Debt of differing amounts. When we put this together it’s not cumulative, it’s compounded. The more Debt society picks up, the more Debt we each accumulate. The Debt of others increases our Debt.

COVID has exponential growth. I repeat, it’s SO GOOD at its job. You know how local stores get utterly driven into the ground by big box stores and franchises? That’s what COVID is doing to every industry by saddling them with Debt. This is Debt with exponential growth, so every month, we all have to pay more and more.

What politicians and companies right now is making the mistake of thinking they’re inoculated from Debt if they just make more money than it. They’ll be able to Stave Off the Debt if they keep it at bay long enough to close a big deal that helps them pay it off in full. Spoiler, that’s not going to happen. They’re taking chances, and COVID is not. Remember, it’s good at its job. Politicians don’t seem to be. COVID will continue to saddle us with Debt while we waffle around, and they’ll do it faster than we can make money to pay it off.

Think about the huge costs spent on CERB. CERB is part of the Debt. We can’t not pay CERB, because HUMAN LIVES ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN MONEY. Not to be controversial or anything. People need money to live. The longer we’re in lockdown, the more CERB we pay. The point is not for the government to just give people free money forever, it’s to save the Taxpayers who pay their wages. It’s also a temporary measure. It’s supposed to get us through this so we can resume our lives once the pandemic is over. The longer we’re in this, the more CERB the government pays.

They have already wasted so much of our money accumulating Debt. Remember that with Debt, that monthly cost keeps coming. Spending money on not having money, right? It costs us a COLOSSAL amount to be in Debt, and the longer we are, the more it will cost. Every month we spent trying to mitigate the effects of Debt instead of paying it off was a month of blown human lives, Taxpayer money, and businesses in the drain, spreading more Debt to the wealthy. Nobody at all likes COVID, because it’s bad news for every single one of us.

This is all very gloomy, yes? But that doesn’t mean we are powerless. What would you tell your kid if they’d amassed too much Debt for them to handle? You’d tell them that you can beat Debt by paying it off and getting into the black. Once you’re in the black, no more monthly payments. Not only have you taken care of that ongoing cost, but you’ve likely created a framework of managing your money that allows you to make better decisions going forward.

***

Politicians won’t defeat COVID, but they can. Here are things that need doing in order to defeat COVID:

1) Money needs to be shifted to places where it makes sense.

This isn’t politics, and the most important thing to our country/province right now is to defeat COVID. Any economic bills that don’t work towards defeating COVID are wasting money. We don’t want industries to collapse and leave the population vulnerable, sure, but now is not a time to make money. It’s a time to defeat COVID. Doug Ford can take all the existing safety protocols away from industries AFTER we’ve defeated COVID. Before they get to have fun with Taxpayer money again, they need to do their jobs. Prevent Taxpayers from dying.

We don’t need any new construction projects. We don’t need to fund military purchases, or police munitions. We definitely don’t need to be paying the salaries of suspended cops. We’re in a restructuring period. We don’t need to enable leisure industries. We don’t need dining at restaurants or bars. Not even patios. We do not need people in public, and we ESPECIALLY do not need people drinking alcohol in public, inhibiting their decision making skills. They can do that just fine at home.

We need to look at budgets and re-prioritise where these funds go. If it’s a Taxpayer funded department and money is not going to infrastructure or projects that aid Taxpayers’ ability to live, it’s wasted money. That’s money that could go towards paying off Debt.

2) Letting Experts and Experiences drive policy.

There are people who know so much more than I ever will about all of this. We need to listen to them. It’s not important that they tell us what we want to hear, we need to listen to what we need to know. We need to take their advice and shape protocols around it. Otherwise we’re wasting Taxpayers money. Once more, politicians not doing their jobs.

We are not the only country experiencing COVID. Other countries have tried pre-emptive re-opening. They’ve tried making masks optional. They’ve tried bringing kids back to school. None of these strategies have worked, and we can see just how badly they haven’t worked. If politicians have this data and are choosing to make the same mistakes, they’re either idiots or callous. We need to follow effective strategies and fold them into our methodology. If experts say masks are mandatory indoors, we need to follow that advice. Same goes for social distancing, bubbles, sanitising, maximum capacities, etc. Otherwise we’re wasting money and accruing so much more Debt.

3) Excessive and clear public information.

It is not the fault of the public for not knowing how COVID works. There is a lot of information out there, and what we’re learning about COVID changes constantly. The public needs up to date information. All of the public. Don’t leave rural areas out of the loop either. This information needs to be clear, so people can follow it regardless of education levels. We need daily broadcasts from Parliament that are apolitical and only focused on science. They need to be conducted by experts, not politicians. The public have a right to know what we’re up against, and not to be taken advantage of for the goals of the wealthy.

We also need the Why. People rarely ever learn if you just tell them the What. Without context or deeper understanding, it’s easy to forget. If they know the Why, they can take productive and intentional steps towards keeping themselves safe, instead of making unfortunate but understandable mistakes.

We need to know what a bubble is. We need to know how it works, its goals and objectives. We need to know scenarios in which our bubbles could be popped, leaving us exposed. Did you know that if you’re eating indoors, you’re not being safe if you or anyone in your bubble is next to or across from someone in another bubble? If anyone in your bubble is exposed, everyone in your bubble is exposed. That’s how the metaphor works.

Plagiarise info from other successful countries, I don’t care. I know this is expensive. It’s part of the cost of paying down COVID’s Debt. Do everything in your power to protect the public. Misinformation kills.

4) We need to go back into lockdown.

PLEASE LISTEN TO ME. I know how much it sucks. I know how dispiriting it is, but it’s important that we don’t confuse inconvenience for a violation of our rights. The more people in public, the higher chance of exposure. The more interaction between people, the higher chance of exposure. The more exposure, the longer we have to deal with COVID. Remember, we’re trying to beat COVID, not learn to live with it. We all need to make sacrifices, even if it’s inhibiting what we want to do. We need to look at all the ways that COVID could spread and take away all of those opportunities. We don’t compromise with COVID. Like we were supposed to do in lockdown.

We don’t need to go back into lockdown forever, but until we’re at a point where the cases are low enough they can be tracked by Contact Tracing. Once we know who has COVID, can keep those people safe and isolated. If we have a framework set up that can take care of these people, then we will be able to handle new cases while reducing the threat to lives, jobs and the economy. While lockdown is on, PAY TAXPAYERS WHO CAN’T AFFORD TO LIVE OTHERWISE. Even if the government doesn’t care about the lives of its citizens, it should care that the more people who die, the less tax they get to collect, and the smaller their budgets get. The quicker we deal with this, the quicker we can go back to our lives.

***

Did you know that back in my home country you can shake hands with strangers? Pash a hot person in a public bar? Walk around without masks? My home country is smaller than Ontario. The country has a GDP 1/3 the size of Ontario’s. My country beat COVID, and they have far fewer resources. The reason was cultural, not economic.

Information from experts was prioritised, heeded and understood. Communication was transparent, informative and easy to follow. The public knew why they had to take actions like wearing masks, staying home, keeping safe distance. Because of this, the public was able to take the initiative and do what needed to be done to keep each other safe. They beat it. Boring story, but a better ending. Let’s end this too. Please.

COVID operations

I think this might be my first ever pandemic.

You live for long enough, you accumulate experiences. After having gone through something, subsequent times feel less shocking. I guess this is growing up? Your first solar eclipse is a big deal. You’ve always known the sun to shine bright, then HOLY SHIT it’s a dim daytime. People get special glasses, etc. The next time a solar eclipse shows up you’re like well, it’s a departure from the norm, but it’s no longer shocking. I still do love the glasses though. I remember sicknesses going around schools/kindergarten. Chickenpox, the mumps, etc. I guess that’s slightly different, because you get your immunity and it stops being an issue. Still, they were scary once upon a time. Then other people get mumps and you’re like yep, I remember how that was. Taking two weeks off school, renting a Sega Mega Drive with Sonic 2 and Mortal Kombat 2. My older brother called me a “cunt” when I beat him and it was the first time I heard that word. It would be years before I knew what it meant. Memories, y’know?

I haven’t been through a true pandemic before. Sure there have been superbug scares, but they never really amounted to anything tangible. Of course, that’s a heartless thing to say. I’m sure people got sick and died, but the spread didn’t reach pandemic levels. Now in 2020, the fifth subsequent year that The Lord hath forsaken us, we have COVID-19. It’s spreading rampantly across the world. The US government has obviously shamelessly bungled the operation, because of general ineptitude, hubris and idiocy. I’m sure those in power have the money for personal medical attention if the need arises. Unfortunately, their choices and lack of action mean that many will die needlessly. I don’t know why health coverage is so despised by the right in the U.S. Unfortunately it’s not even “their loss”, because the innocent will suffer from the fallout. Grim, sad situation.

I think I’m pretty realistic about COVID-19. It sounds by all accounts to be a pretty infectious flu. Deaths of those under 60 seem to be quite rare. If you’ve got a fairly robust immune system, it will probably be an unpleasant experience, but not life threatening. I don’t want to catch it, but I’m also not petrified of what will happen if I do. I’d have to take time off work, which would put me in a financially frustrating situation. All things considered, not great but a much higher floor than others may face. I’ll probably be okay, so that’s great.

But it doesn’t stop there. This is a pandemic, and it’s very much not just about me. I tend to think that a certain amount of empathy is important in cases like this. Just because I’ll be okay, the same can’t be said for older folks that may cross my path. I have friends who are immunocompromised. If I got COVID-19 and passed it off to them, they could well be in a life threatening situation. That’s a big deal. I’ve always washed my hands. I’m unlikely to stop touching my face, or become pedantic about sanitiser. At the same time, I do think it’s worth taking a step back from my normal slovenly behaviour and considering how to change certain habits. If it makes a difference for others, it’s hard to see a little extra effort as a dealbreaker. Maybe I use the hand sanitiser dispensers in my work kitchen. Maybe I become a little more diligent about cleaning equipment I’ve used at the gym. I won’t upend my life. I’m still gonna be riding the TTC, which I’m certain is a hotbed for germs of all variety. I’ll still go to shows, hug/kiss friends, and eat with my bare hands, but maybe I’ll do some other stuff now.

My first pandemic doesn’t have to be my worst one.

Goddamn ACMElennials

I think I got caught by a Wile-E Coyote trap.

Lately on my days off I’ve been going with a friend to his gym. It’s closer to home than mine are, and it’s nice to share the experience. We don’t work out together, but we generally do a little stretching, hop on a cardio machine, then do separate exercises and leave together. It’s been handy as an accountability tactic, which means a bunch to me. There are always days I really don’t want to be active, but being accountable to someone else helps me get out the door. I was walking to the gym when the successful hoodwink took place.

People here in Toronto throw out stuff all the time. They’ll put it out by the sidewalk. The rules generally are that you don’t take objects with fabric as a bedbugs avoidance tactic. Often though, people are ridding themselves of superfluous belongings. Over the years I’ve gotten wooden shelves, bathroom drawers, board games and a cast iron pan I nursed back to health. As I was walking to my friend’s gym today, I noticed a bong sitting on the side of the road. I thought that was bloody weird, brazen and almost endearing. I did not take the bong. I don’t often smoke from bongs, and I have no desire to make it a part of my home habits. If I did, I’m certain I’d spring the $20-$40 (I’m a square, I have no idea what a bong costs) to buy my own. Frankly, the only Bong I care about is the dude who directed Parasite. However, I stopped to look. There wasn’t just a bong. There was a pile of books, a pair of leather pants and some gumboots. Sitting in the middle of all this was a solitary can of tuna. My interest was piqued. It was spicy Thai chilli flavour, which is not my favourite. My girlfriend likes it though, and I’d eat a can if I didn’t have any yellowfin olive oil left.

I picked up the can and had a closer look. Everything seemed fine. I tested the foil seal, it was entirely intact. There were no puncture marks over the foil, all the edges were secure. I turned the can over in my hand, running my fingers along each side. I checked for any marks, dents, etc. The can was as fresh as the day it was factory sealed. The expiry was September 2020, loads of time. It all appeared too good to be true, so I did what any youngster who ascended to adulthood post Global Financial Crisis would do and I took it. Cans of tuna don’t grow on trees, y’know?

I know it sounds exactly like I’d accidentally knock a stick and have an oversized cardboard box trap me, but it didn’t happen. No anvils fell from clifftops. I saw zero sign of bombs or rocket powered rollerskates. I didn’t walk into a brick wall painted like a tunnel, nor did I get crushed by a train. I would have expected at minimum to be caught in a bear trap, but zilch occurred. The can is sitting on my kitchen table, and I’m giving it time on its own before integrating it in with the rest of my cupboard full of cans. Who knows? Maybe it’s filled with TNT or snakes. I bet this is how I get COVID-19. Nothing’s happened yet, but my eyes are peeled.

I can roadrun, but I can’t hide.

I swear I did not smoke a half-pipe before writing this

Happy Valentine’s Day.

I’ve been writing dumb little Valentine’s rhymes today. Wrap your eyes around these bad boys:

Roses are red
Violet is blue
She should have thought
Before she started to chew.

Blood is red
Veins are blue
Is a caesarian
A womb with a view?

Who says romance is dead?

I also can’t stop thinking about how hard OPM’s seminal single “Heaven is a Halfpipe”, from their 2000 album Menace to Sobriety, refutes the titular dichotomy of the landmark 1988 video game “Skate or Die”. I’m conflicted. One is a dumb stoner anthem from the year of our lord, Will2K. The other was an unmitigated gaming delight from my childhood crammed full with fun minigames. I know who I want to believe, but that’s not what truth is. If I can die and skate, then maybe my cherished skateboard simulator needs an ampersand in its title. Then again, now that I’m thinking about it, skating in death is not a certainty, despite OPM’s assurances. They only mention heaven’s halfpipe scenario, but Hell defies explanation. Are we then to believe that posthumous skating is a reward for ascension? If I’m to carry myself through this mortal coil in a morally unscrupulous fashion, am I forsaking my ability to kickflip in the afterlife? THEN then again (it’s a term now, poindexters), OPM doesn’t NOT say that skating is possible in Hell. In fact, I can’t imagine Beelzebub foregoing gnarly grinds for all eternity. Which sphere of Hell has the skatepark? In true hellish style, do they put it in the icy one? Creating vast difficulty for anyone trying to gain traction on the nefarious, slippery terrain? And furthermore, if Heaven is a halfpipe, isn’t that sorta shit for non-skaters? What do they do aside from getting in the way of ardent tiny wheel based sportspeople? That sounds like a pretty shit reward for a life well-lived, playing second fiddle to some goodie two shoes skate punks.

I forewent IT’S A REAL WORD, GET OFF MY BACK, JACK the gym today and I’ve already been punished. I’m on the subway. The train has travelled all of one stop. There’s an unauthorised person at track level. We’re stopped with the door open. The air conditioning just turned off. The lights in the train car have gone out too. It’s packed, we’re all waiting. There’s a gentle dissatisfied hubbub, but mostly people are sticking with whatever they were doing before the power went out. They’re reading books, typing on phones. I can see the train opposite, it’s waiting too. Honestly, everyone is in pretty good spirits. Strangers are chatting. It’s unbelievable how much disruption this dude walking around in the tracks has caused. The power is out, I’m guessing because they don’t want to electrocute the guy. I’d walk to street level and take a bus, but it’s -20 degrees outside. It’s so goddamn cold that being above ground feels like a hazard. If I’d just gone to the gym, I would’ve been blissfully ignorant of this disruption, instead of dejectedly looking at my phone, wishing for the sweet release of death so I can skate in Heaven.

Happy Valentine’s Day, I guess.

Was cleaning afterwards considered a dust-y dust?

Welp. I just hosted my dream funeral.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ya googly

It’s my birthday and I’m hosting my own funeral to celebrate. What follows is my personal eulogy.

I believe it was Des’ree who once said:

“I don’t want to see a ghost,
It’s a sight that I fear most
I’d rather have a piece of toast
And watch the evening news
Life, oh life, oh life, oh life,
Doo, doot doot dooo.
Life, oh life, oh life, oh life,
Doo, doot doot dooo.”

I think those words speak a little louder for us all on this day.

We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of Leon. His cause of death is currently unknown. Given the amount of tuna he consumed, mercury poisoning is probably a safe bet.

Leon was survived by his beloved girlfriend Julia, and his rival, Mr. Smashmouth. Turns out at some point the years stop coming. Check and mate, Mr. Smashmouth.

Leon was born on January 17th in Auckland, New Zealand, at approximately 3pm. To whom it may concern, Capricorn, Leo rising. I know, it sounds weird. He was.

Leon was known primarily for his predilection for puns, Paddington, pooping and polysyllabic words. He fathered no children, but sired sigh-ers and grown groaners. He gave a wide berth to Birthers. He knew this would make no sense to you in audio form, but maybe not everything is about you. Jeez.

Leon was an ambitious child. When he grew up he wanted to be a voice actor, Jim Carrey, or a Street Shark. Instead of growing into a mutant fusion of shark and teenager with large teeth and killer attitude, he grew old. It was considerably less jawsome.

At the age of eight, Leon had a dream that he would die at 33. Given that being right was one of his favourite things, he at least died doing what he loved.

Leon was many things; a living cartoon character, a wholesome pervert, strangely particular about apples. He loved monologues, being the centre of attention, and breaking the fourth wall [what, too meta?]. Unbeknownst to many, he did not love Air Bud movies, but that didn’t stop Netflix algorithms from recommending every single talking animal movie it could.

Things weren’t always easy for Leon. Many times he wasn’t totally in love with living. For him, sadness was a big part of life, and he’d made peace with it. He figured it was entirely normal to not feel okay a lot of the time. He often resonated with those who understood. Sharing struggles with those close was important, and he always wished to be there for friends when he could. If anything, knowing that he could make others feel more comfortable, known or seen was one of his guiding principles. He knew first-hand it wasn’t easy to ask for help, but resolved to do what he could when he could.

Friends were what mattered most to Leon. When he found good ones, they were friends for life. There was a special kind of love Leon reserved for his friends. People he could lose time with, sharing vulnerabilities, stories, and secret pettiness. Those who bought into his endless bullshit, hijinks and the weird way he just assumed everyone understood his niche references. His favourite feeling in the world was the comedown after a room full of laughter. By this metric, he lived a pretty good life.

I guess you could say, the real life he lived was the friends he made along the way.

And now I invite you to lift your glasses. As the Black Eyed Peas said in their Grammy Award winning song, “I Gotta Feeling”: L’chaim.

99 black balloons

I’ve had an idea for a party stewing in my head on and off for years.

Well that’s unfair. I’ve had many ideas for many parties stewing in my head for years. The particular one I’m thinking about is the idea of hosting my own funeral. It’s something that none of us get the chance to do, and I want to stake my claim. Get guests to dress in funeral attire, have finger foods (will someone bring cucumber sandwiches?), make a playlist, etc etc etc. Then the “bit” of the event, is For Whom the Bell Tolls. I’d have a bell in an accessible place. At any point that someone wanted to ring it, they’d have the floor to talk. In a combination of funeral, wake and good ol’ narcissism, I’d want attendees to give me eulogies, or tell stories about treasured times we had together. I’m a sucker for sincerity, punching up my friends’ ego, and telling people I love them as much as possible. That doesn’t mean I don’t want a little bit of the same, y’know?

The idea of organising your own funeral screams peak control freak, and I’m quite okay with that. It’s my party, I can die if I want to, etc etc. I’m sure deep down it’s some hack rip off of Empire Records. Or more likely, it stems from years of teenage suicidal ideation. Curious thoughts of what my own funeral would be like, who would be there, what they’d say. I’ve long been obsessed with death, and morbid thoughts have resonated strongly. Over the past few years as my depression deepened, I’d more readily imagined a world without me in it. Last year was a major upswing, where things changed for the better. I started off the year with no desire to continue living. That’s not sarcasm or glibness, I really had lost my interest in life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have such a personal reversal. A massive component was finally going on anti-depressants instead of staunchly assuming I’d get better on my own, or give up. It really turned my life around, and gave me a recourse against constant negative spirals. It eased a burden, and allowed me to take full stock of the things I loved, and focus on them. The second big aspect was finding a new job through a combination of luck and straight up hustle. I’m now in a position where I’m not only thankful for so much of my life, but I have a renewed perspective with lessons learned. It’s been huge, and I think it’s worth taking this event to consider the parts of me I had to put to rest in order to move forward.

So I’m doing the event and sent out invites yesterday. I dropped the ball hard. I gave no consideration to the fact that a couple of my friends had a hard time in 2019, going through deeply painful loss. It was thoughtless, and tacky. So today, I posted this addendum on the event:

I’ve been thinking about this event all night, and I think there are things worth saying. A few of my friends have undergone very real and deep loss over the past year, and this whole thing comes off as very glib and inconsiderate of that. I don’t have/want a good excuse. While those weren’t my intentions, they were the outcome of my actions. That’s not something I can take back. I’m sorry if, in my ignorance, I’ve caused hurt.

It makes absolutely nothing better, but I want to pivot a little. I’m gonna keep the written event description up as accountability, but I’d like to change things a bit. Instead of making things just about me, I want to open up the floor for people to talk about those who are no longer in their lives. To tell stories about loved ones, or give sincere eulogies they never had the chance to. In amongst the roasts I no doubt have incoming, I want to make space for people to talk more about those who have affected them, and share memories.

Is this still a bad idea, with the best recourse to just do another event instead? Obviously yes. Am I gonna try to have my cake and pay respects? Of course I am.

After a while, the Stone Cold Stunner lost its efficacy

What did you do on Y2K?

We had our work Christmas party yesterday, 1999 was the theme. It became a fun and easy conversation starter to ask people the question above. What was Y2K for them? How was their evening? What did they do? I got a whole host of answers back. Some of my old co-workers were literal toddlers, so they had no stories to tell, just stories to make me feel old. Others went to house parties. Someone invited a bunch of friends over to drink and listen to REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” on repeat for the evening. Another wandered into his old high school with mates and drank a mickey. For most it was a massive disappointment. For some, it felt like the dawning of a new age. For me?

I was 12. I had this weird, voracious skin condition. I don’t know what it was, but it grew like a weed and spread like wildfire. I had to rub this lotion all over myself a few times per day. I think it was itchy too, so that was frustrating. It wasn’t infectious, thank Christ, so I could have a friend over. I think my parents took pity on me and let us rent an N64 from the video store (egads, that sentence is a time capsule). My friend and I played Super Smash Bros until late in the evening. I got to drink a can of energy drink, and we went down to the Auckland Viaduct to watch fireworks. They got rained out, and it all felt anticlimactic.

Y2K is seen as a joke now. It’s obvious to see why. We all thought that everything would end because computers wouldn’t know how to count the new year. Or was it some type of virus? The Y2K bug? The banks were gonna crumble and the world would fall into disrepair. Chaos would reign, people would loot, and we’d end up in some post-apocalyptic debacle. I was 12. I didn’t know any better, so I sort of assumed this was all within the realm of possibility. I don’t know that we did much in the way of prep. I think my parents bought a couple of large water jugs or something, but that was it. I got the feeling that for adults, it was mostly laughable. The notion that everything would end because of computers. They’d lived for decades, I’m sure it wasn’t their first foray into widespread nonsense.

I think that’s why, when December 21st 2012 rolled around, we all had a laugh. I made an End of the World playlist with most any apocalyptic song I could find. I think I even threw in “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” since it was in the Armageddon soundtrack. Friends came over to my parents’ place and we looked out over the harbour, drinking. If we were gonna see things end, we had the perfect view.

It’s weird that growing up, we had this background notion that Armageddon was coming. I wonder if that’s why there’s been so much post-apocalyptic material over the past decade. This stuff has a way of worming into your subconscious. I mean, of course a bunch of tent pole movies and shows catapulted the idea into the public consciousness. The Walking Dead, Fury Road, 28 Days Later. They all captured this zeitgeist of catastrophe. Arguably now, the world is in worse shape than it was ten years ago. Climate change and incredible wealth inequalities are on the tips of our tongues. Brash demagogues have soared into positions of influence and power. We’ve all lost count of how many mass shootings America has had in the past year.

Holy shit. I just went down a wiki rabbit hole. There have been 370 mass shootings in America in 2019 (as of today). That’s 1.22 mass shootings per day. It’s gotten to the point where we just tune them out. I looked at this number and thought oh well, that’s really sad. But that’s how things have always been there. I checked 2018, 321 mass shootings. Yep. I guess it’s always been that way in the USA. IT HAS NOT ALWAYS BEEN THAT WAY. In 2009 there were six. In 2008 there were five. In 2007 there were five. In 2006 there were four. In 2005 there were three. In 2004 there were three. In 2003 there were three. In 2002 there were three. In 2001 there were two. In 2000 there were three. Three hundred and seventy mass shootings is NOT NORMAL. How have we gotten to a point where we’ve normalised this figure in our heads? I can’t be the only one.

That is stone cold sobering. E fucking Gads.

Failing anything, it’s a carte blanche to harmlessly gossip with friends. Who doesn’t want that?

Did everyone have a lovely night of death and intrigue last night, or just me?

I went to my first murder mystery party. I had half-baked expectations, but realistically I didn’t really know how it would play out. In my head we’d all be free roaming around a house with directives, trying to pick at people’s brains in private conversations. Instead, we were led through a structured game as a group. There were eight specifically defined characters all linked to this murder scenario. Each round we were given more information about ourselves and others. We had details we were encouraged to keep to ourselves, and other details we had to share each round. Nobody was allowed to lie, but at the same time you were encouraged to talk around things, change the subject and/or mislead without actively stating the facts. It was like one big gossip session, and it was a blast.

Okay, so the scenario was that we were all friends who’d come back for our 5 year high school reunion. We were chilling in a malt shoppe waiting for one of our friends, Rock N. Roley. Roley was a big shot music star, and he was coming back to play a show while he was in town. The plot thickened, however, as Roley had been quite the ladies’ man back at school. He’d had flings with almost everyone. More intriguing was that on homecoming night, his car had stalled on the train tracks with Betty Sue in the passenger side. He’d escaped unharmed, but she’d been killed on impact by a runaway train. Then unbeknownst to us, HE had been killed in a copycat crime earlier in the evening, while we waited at Maltie’s Falcon. Instead of our friend, the door opened and a goddamn COP was standing there, talking very film noir.

The game was old enough that it came with a cassette tape. Some kind folks had uploaded it to youtube, and it introduced us to the wider scenario. In around four minutes, it gave us a ton of information and maybe red herrings? Oddly enough the train crossing had been green from both sides, instead of stopped. Roley had been in his hotel room, visited by a mysterious woman with a dark scarf and glasses. There was an external lock placed on his door, but when locksmiths broke in, they discovered he’d escaped over his balcony by tying sheets together. The plot thickened. A strange man next door had also left his room, but in the afternoon a bomb had gone off there. Lots of shit was afoot.

Truthfully, it was super fucking convoluted, and a shit ton of fun. For instance, my character had tried to commit suicide on homecoming night by jumping off a bridge (but landed in a goose feather barge and hurt my wrist instead?). A few other characters knew that I’d weirdly been in the hospital, but didn’t know why. So I had to try and hide my motive, while they wanted to bring truth to light. I couldn’t directly lie, right? Then I got given a Hail Mary to throw others off my scent. A different character said we’d had a date at Lookout Point that night, then he’d dropped me home and later found out I’d been in the hospital. However, I had zero knowledge of the date he and I had. It wasn’t in my booklet. When he brought it up, I could truthfully say “I have absolutely no memories of going on a date with you that night”, then turned it around as an accusation that maybe he’d slipped me something or gotten me drunk. Every time he tried to circle back to it, I misdirected without breaking the rules whatsoever. My character had also cheated on a big exam, which led to me getting this great job out of college. Another character knew it, but I also deftly sidestepped away from that information coming to light with good ol’ subterfuge.

I can imagine that these old How to Host a Murder box games are cheap as shit now second hand on Amazon. In fact, I’ve been kind of loathe to spoil important details in case anyone ended up picking this game up. If you’re looking for a cool and different night out, I totally suggest grabbing one. Then you can all blame the wrong suspect like we did.

Happy plotting, everyone.

Technically is all of their meat blade steak?

I’ve got nothing, so let’s get it over with.

Unpopular opinion, I think macaroons are grossly more enjoyable than macarons. The texture has just the right combination of crunch and chewability. The chocolate bottom is a wonderful treat, and the cherry tops it all off. Macarons make me feel guilty for eating them, I feel like I’m engaging in some form of class betrayal, and there’s no way I can eat more than one or two without feeling like I’m somehow committing a social faux pas. Macaroons don’t judge, they’re just delicious and morish. In fact, they’re the kind of food that grandmothers demand you endlessly gorge on, which is even better. Macarons taste like condescension. I’ll still eat a macaron, but the experience is significantly less enjoyable than eating a macaroon.

I can’t believe discourse is still flying around on this “Ok Boomer” catchphrase. Lots of disgruntled tweets from incensed folks claiming it’s discrimination or ageism. Funnily enough, the people that are offended are probably likely offenders. As far as I understand, Ok Boomer isn’t about shitting on people older than you, it’s a response from generations of older folks who dismiss what younger folks say without actually listening to what they’re saying. Catchalls like “you’ll understand when you’re older” or whatnot. It’s weird, because Ok Boomer isn’t rallying against age, it’s rallying against ignorance. It’s about people blaming millennials for thing after thing, instead of taking a look at the legacy of their generations economic decisions and how they flowed down to following generations. It’s about people who hold rigidly to outmoded ideas of how the world once was, instead of actually considering that times have changed. It’s a response to endless comments beginning with “why don’t you just…” followed by unrealistic standards of how things work in 2019. “Pounding the pavement” in search of jobs isn’t a thing anymore outside of service industries, and not always in them either.

Tomorrow I’m going to a Brazilian steakhouse with friends to celebrate a birthday. My friend’s birthday, not mine. I’m pumped. I haven’t been out for a nice meal in a while, and too few of my restaurant meals involve meat on swords. In fact, people approaching me with meat on swords is damn near my ideal. Even if it were to result in me getting stabbed or murdered, if I got killed by something I dearly love, I think that’s a piece of humble pie I could swallow. Just think, a blade pierces your heart, while the scent of beautifully spiced meat wafts up to your nostrils. You slump forward, and your face lands on a tender portion of steak pushed right up to the hilt. Just saying, there’s not a 100% chance this won’t be the outcome of tomorrow’s meal. If that’s the case, I think I’ll go gently into that good night with a smile on my dial.

Someone told me their salad is typically really good too. Weird, but great.