Is bedraggled chic “in” these days? My time has come.

I don’t know what it is about me that looks approachable, but I’m having one of those days. The days where strangers decide you seem primed for conversation. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s neat when people think I’m benign enough for chatting. It is, however, somewhat of an anomaly in Toronto. I guess it’s what happens when you leave your headphones at home. I left the house only to visit the gym. On the subway there a large dog came onto our car. Looked to be some kind of doberman mix. It was enormous, so maybe great dane? It had ears that flopped down rather than perking up, so who knows (aside from vets, etc)? I looked on adoringly as it strutted around.

I heard words appearing next to my ears. It felt like a physical embodiment of a speech bubble. Surprised, I turned to my left and realised the woman next to me was actually talking at me, rather than merely speaking out loud. She remarked on the size of the dog. What a good looking dog it was. I nodded. She began recounting the dog she used to have years ago. A big brown fluffy thing. Very intelligent, it seemed to understand emotions quite intricately. Every day when she came home it’d be there waiting at the front door, tail wagging happily. She didn’t get choked, but slightly misty eyed. I started feeling a little helpless as I realised we were pulling into my stop. I wanted to hear more. Rare as it was for a stranger to spark up conversation with me, it was rarer still for them to open up. On the other hand, I was heading to a class with a defined start time. I had a bunch of stuff I wanted to get done today. She didn’t seem emotionally fragile, but I still felt a little internal conflict. My flight response won out. I turned to her and thanked her, wished for her to have a lovely day, then got up and out of the train.

It was a hard class that happened to be taken by a Kiwi instructor. Nice dude from Wellington. The first time in years I’ve done a Les Mills class led with a New Zealand accent. On my way back from the gym I was tired, but glowing. I found a subway seat and stared blissfully at the wall, thinking about the editing I was gonna do today. I had chicken soup to make too. Was there anything I needed to pick up en route? Did we have any small potatoes to make it a bit starchier? It’d be a nice way to use that celery that’d been overstaying its welcome in the crisper. “You know, BMVs Annex store is pretty good, don’t you think?” Wait, was that my thought or did someone else say that? No, that had speech marks. My internal dialogue is in italics. That was someone else.

I turned to my right. An older man was rambling away. “They have a lot of great books, but they’re not the best for music.” He looked a little crusty, weathered. I was a bit spacey to give him my full attention. I half grunted in acknowledgement. “You have to go further out to find a really good BMV, but if you’re just looking for a few things here and there you can do a lot worse than The Annex.” Once again, I grunted. For just a second I wondered if there was anything I could get from BMV for someone’s Christmas present before remembering a) that I’m not hugely into physical media any more and b) I don’t do the Christmas present thing. Was this a new kind of embedded marketing? Was this fellow on the payroll? What kind of planetary alignment kept me arriving at my station right when conversation picked up? I smiled to myself, wished him a nice day and left the train.

After which, I haven’t left the house. Whatever it is that’s drawing people in (not having showered since yesterday morning, have I developed pheromones?), it’s being kept safe away in my home. With great power, comes great responsibility. Really though, my great responsibility is to have a great shower.

Let’s hope Liam Neeson doesn’t come after me for this.

I never said these trailers needed to make sense.

NARR The cutthroat world of competitive dog shows has always been an intense experience.

JUDGE I’m sorry sir, but your mutt has less bark than a dogwood tree.

NARR But when a rich megalomaniac with a love of exotic dogs and power mongering hosts a world class dog show…

KRUMB I’ll spread my specially created fleas to the world’s most influential dog breeders and turn them into walking electromagnetic bombs. There’s nothing they can do to stop me!

NARR The FBI is about to get a Federal Buddy of Investigation on the case.

MUSIC – JOHNNY RIVERS: SECRET AGENT MAN

NARR He has the moves.

AGENT BOB What your dog does have is a very particular set of skills, skills he has acquired over a very long career. Skills that make him a very bad dog for the people we want to fetch.

NARR He has the style.

“N” I just love your fluffy tail, darling.

NARR But to keep his identity a secret, Buddy is about to discover that restrictions breed creativity.

“N” Gold is so last season, darling. Let’s go for something a little darker.

JOSH Woah Buddy, I almost didn’t recognise you.

NARR And in a game without nets, bases or goalposts.

JOSH Sorry Buddy, we can’t play now. If this guy destroys the dog breeding industry, 2% of the world’s GDP could be in peril.

NARR Buddy has to become the belle of the ball.

MUSIC – IGGY AZAELIA – FANCY

NARR He’s gonna have help from some new friends.

AGENT BOB If you press this button on your new collar and point your tail, your entire body will turn into a giant taser.

JOSH And what does this other button do?

AGENT BOB That turns on his entry music.

MUSIC – BAHA MEN – WHO LET THE DOGS OUT

NARR And with his skilled sporting background.

JUDGE I’ve judged a lot of competitions, but this dog’s physique is on point.

NARR This summer, he’s got a score to settle.

JOSH Mister, you may have money, but my dog has something you’ll never have.

KRUMB What’s that?

[WHOOSH]

JOSH Gold mettle.

KRUMB Like, straight gold? That’s pretty flimsy, it’s usually paired in an alloy.

JOSH No, M E T T L E. Resilience and courage under fire. Look, I’m saying he’s really brave.

KRUMB This is a serious hostage situation, why would you resort to a pun?

JOSH I don’t have time for an argument on semantics. Buddy, let’s get ruff.

NARR Disney presents – Air Bud: Under Rover Agent.

There are sexual implications I don’t want to think of. I bet that hasn’t stopped you.

Are these trailers getting farcical? No doubt. Problem?

NARR: Buddy is a dog who knows all the plays.

JOSH: You’re a parkour master too Buddy? Is there anything you can’t do?

NARR:  But when a lightning storm caused my mysterious magnetic fluctuations from a freak laboratory accident opens a portal to another dimension and an ancient spirit inhabits the body of an old Gypsy woman who creates a curse that manifests on Friday the 13th of October, Josh’s sixteenth birthday. For once, Buddy doesn’t know the rules.

BUDDY: Josh, did we swap bodies? Are you in mine? WHERE’S MY TAIL?

NARR: And with the Fernfield High prom just around the corner, Buddy has to play the hardest game of all.

JOSH: You want me to do WHAT?

NARR: The game of love.

MUSIC: ELVIS PRESLEY – HOUND DOG

BUDDY: How am I supposed to invite Emma to the prom for you Josh? Want me to sniff her butt?

JOSH: [whimpers]

NARR: Now, trapped in his favourite pet’s body, Josh has to teach his mutt to act like a man.

MUSIC: THE JUNGLE BOOK – I WANNA BE LIKE YOU

JACKIE: Josh, did you take Buddy into the bathroom with you?

BUDDY: Yeah mum. I figured if he could learn chess, he could learn how to flush a toilet.

NARR: They’re gonna have to train hard.

KID: Mommy, why is that dog the one throwing the Frisbee to the man?

MOTHER: Oh Timmy, that’s just Buddy. He’s inexplicably amazing at every sport he tries.

NARR: But can they make it to prom without Emma finding out?

JOSH: You look great, Emma. I really love your shiny coat.

EMMA: My new leather jacket? Oh Josh, you do know how to compliment a woman.

MUSIC: FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE – DOG DAYS ARE OVER

NARR: This summer, love is in the “Air”.

EMMA: You know Josh, people usually eat spaghetti with a fork.

JOSH: Uh, not on a date. Haven’t you ever seen Lady and the Tramp?

EMMA: Josh! You sly dog.

NARR: Disney Home Video presents – Air Bud: Buddy Swap.

Are we budding prodigies? We’ve definitely gone long and put in the hard yards.

I’m sure you’re tired of me talking about it, but The Air Bud Pawdcast is set to launch. We’re days away from something that’s gonna be all types of excellent. The first episode is wrapped up with a neat little bow and we’re just awaiting iTunes approval. It’s crazy to think how much work has gone into getting this far. Doing a podcast seems like such a simple thing. Maybe it is. Perhaps we’re just crazy and putting far too much effort into it. We could just care enough to be deemed insane. In case you haven’t been following or are just curious as to what goes into making a podcast (with this level of fastidiousness), here’s ruff-ly what we did:

  • I made a Facebook post about the absurdity of the Air Bud franchise. Demanded a podcast partner.
  • Friend responded. Lots of enthusiasm. Vague commitment.
  • A year passed.
  • Friend actually began planning meet ups, did something rather than just talking about talking about it.
  • Found a producer.
  • Brainstormed. Did a SWOT analysis without strictly calling it that. Drank beer. Talked about comedy.
  • IMPORTANT: Scheduled a follow up meeting.
  • Followed up and met. Set a recording date to cut down on excuses.
  • Co-host and producer made sure they had adequate gear.
  • Missed the recording date. Set another recording date.
  • Recorded the first episode. Set a follow up recording session two weeks later.
  • Producer thought about editing things, but got busy.
  • Co-host made a Facebook page, Twitter page, Instagram.
  • Co-host followed 700 odd people on Twitter.
  • Time passed, second recording date got close.
  • We each watched the movie. I took down six pages worth of notes.
  • Research research research on IMDB/Wiki.
  • Recorded the second episode.
  • I got antsy and started gathering editing hardware/software from Craigslist/Kijiji.
  • Another two weeks, watched another movie.
  • Recorded another podcast.
  • Producer started to edit episode two.
  • I installed, updated, deleted, installed updated and finally ran Pro Tools successfully.
  • I began editing episode one.
  • Co-host ordered more mics.
  • Producer started working on the theme song.
  • The fourth episode date came up. We stuck with the date despite the backlog.
  • Forgot to tell producer we were recording.
  • Recorded the episode anyway.
  • I edited 90% of episode one. Awaited re-recorded bits from producer.
  • Producer delivered re-recorded bits. Garageband had auto-processed, rendering the audio unusable.
  • Producer re-delivered the re-recorded bits.
  • Producer delivered the theme song. Emphasis on delivered.
  • Added the re-recorded bits to episode one. Added the theme song.
  • Mastered/mixed down episode one.
  • Co-host made an FTP. Sorted RSS feed. Created WordPress page.
  • I installed Hootsuite in preparation for launch.
  • Installed Hootsuite and Instagram on my phone.
  • Co-host created a logo. Producer and I did the requisite poo-pooing to get him to try harder.
  • Co-host knocked the logo out of the park.
  • Wrote up the podcast caption/description.
  • Co-host uploaded the first episode.
  • I edited the episode description.
  • I tried to submit to iTunes. Lacked an Apple ID.
  • Co-host submitted to iTunes. Submitted to Google Play Music and Stitcher while he was at it.
  • We got Google Play Music approval.
  • Co-host’s mics finally arrived from China. The shipment had all the supporting peripherals, but lacked the mics themselves.
  • I realised the weight of all this social media marketing dump. Promptly regretted each and every aforementioned step.

It’s been a crazy ride so far and it’s only gonna get bigger. I’ve listened to the first episode many times. You know what? It’s fun. It’s a good listen. We’ve put work in and created something, and that means something to me. Wherever it goes from here on out, I’m happy at least that we’ve put out a product I’d be happy to consume had I not created it. That’s gotta count for something.

I shit you not, these ceremonies are a real thing. Dogs wearing little hats and whatnot.

I know there are so many sports left untouched, but the title popped into my head and I couldn’t not.

NARR: For a dog, Football was a tough sport to tackle.

COACH: He’s a golden receiver!

NARR: But when the Framm family uproots from Fernfield…

JACKIE: I know things are different in this Hassidic community Josh, but I needed the job.

NARR: Buddy has to make a conversion like never before.

JOSH: I know we need to become Jewish, mum, but Buddy’s a dog.

JACKIE: He may be a dog, but he’s turning 13 in a month.

NARR: In order to stay with his family, he’s gotta have a Bark Mitzvah.

MUSIC – THE BEATLES: HEY JUDE (jewed)

Josh: I know you wanna go play ball Buddy, but you’ve gotta study.

Buddy: [Bark bark]

Josh: That’s good, now finish the sentence: Bark atah adonai.

NARR: And he’s about to tallit like it is.

RABBI: Oy Vey. A dog in a yarmulke? Vat’s next? The pope?

JOSH: I know it’s called a torah portion, but you can’t lick the paper.

NARR: They’ll face stiff opposition from the local community.

JEW: I mean sure, he’s a good boy. I’m just worried that he’s merely a good goy.

JOSH: Don’t the ten commandments begin, “I am the lord your dog?”

NARR: But Buddy’s gonna prove that he’s a kippah.

DODGY GUY: You got balls mutt. You ever thought about the underground dreidel circuit?

MUSIC – GWEN STEFANI: (c)HOLLABACK GIRL

NARR: This summer, America’s Golden Boy is about to become America’s Golden Man.

JACKIE: Uhh Josh. I might have some bad news. Buddy was never circumcised.

JOSH: Oh no! Not Buddy’s stubby.

BUDDY: [whimpering]

NARR: Disney presents – Air Bud: Fiddler on the Woof.

Did we miss the golden boy? Or are we stuck worshipping false idols?

I know everyone’s getting really tired of me prattling on about this Air Bud Pawdcast without seeing any evidence that we’re doing diddly squat. I’ll have you know we’re doing many reps of diddly squats (which sound like a euphemism for thrusting and wiggling) as we’re getting ready to launch. In our tunnel visioned push to get things ready, we missed the most important and relevant news we could’ve ever stumbled upon.

Kevin Zegers was in town. YES. THAT KEVIN ZEGERS. You may know him from his roles as Alec Lightwood in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, or Damien Dalgaard in the CW teen drama Gossip Girl. What you may not realise is that Kevin Zegers portrayed MOTHERFUCKING JOSHUA FRAMM, Buddy’s owner/master/friend/a whole lot more in the Air Bud Cinematic Universe. He was here in Toronto for the CTV upfronts and this pearl of wisdom rolled on past us. We didn’t catch sight of his absence until he tweeted (of course we follow him) from the Air Canada departure lounge. WHITE WHALE HOLY GRAIL indeed. You may have eluded us this time, Mr Zegers, but this won’t be the last you hear of the Air Bud Pawdcast. Oh no, it won’t.

Well that came off exceedingly more menacing than intended. Dear Mr Zegers. We have no intention of hunting you with spears hurled from the prow of our vessel. We just want to have a nice sit down to discuss the experiences that led you to fame, on set shenanigans and insights. Was Buddy a consummate professional? Inquiring minds need to know! I’ll make tea and biscuits.

The third episode is in the can and it’s time for us to get stuck in and edit. Now is when the magic happens and we turn our endless ramblings into some kind of serviceable show. It’s weird to think that in a couple of weeks a misguided (and frankly insane path of logic) will come to fruition in a cohesive fashion. I can’t wait for you all to hear it. Better yet, I can’t wait for you all to watch the film and actually understand what I’ve been sinking my teeth into week after week. Why have I been spending so long researching a film made for kids ages five and up? Have the hours and hours of work form a product that’s actually consumable? Or leave you feeling bitter for having given up so much of your time? Most of all, is it even funny? I goddamn hope so. The longer I spend in this echo chamber, the more doubt seems to pile up, causing me to question everything I believe. Is the sky really blue? Do we actually exist in a simulation? Is there anything at all in the basketball rule book prohibiting dogs from playing?

Mr Zegers, I await your answers. Especially about the simulation thing. I bet you learn all kinds of things in Hollywood.

Love and dunks.
-Leon

And in the end, he died after the first film. Valar Morghulis indeed.

I’d love to bury you all under a mountain of planned prose, but frankly nothing is looming as important right now. It’s the afternoon, I’m tired after a listless sleep and the only mountain I’m thinking of right now crushed a man’s face. I’m several seasons behind on Game of Thrones and slowly catching up. I’m sure that’s what you’re all looking for here, a recap of shows and seasons long past. Like a poor time traveller, warning you about things that haven’t been relevant for ages. I watched last night’s (last year’s) episode as a palate cleanser from the second Air Bud film. Wait, aren’t I Air Bud’s staunchest champion? Am I not helming a Pawdcast on our golden furred hero? Why, pray tell, would a palate cleanser be necessary?
Here’s the thing about reviewing or critiquing. I’m not sure how it affects other people, but when I’m involved it pulls me out. It’s not an immersive experience, as I’m laser focused on trying to find the right details to extract. Whether it’s live music, comedy or any entrant in the Air Bud Cinematic Universe, it’s a tough sell to give myself over without stepping back. When I review live music or comedy I’m doing so with a little notebook. The performance will be spending alternating between watching and scribbling furiously. I want to make sure I’m not gonna miss important information to the detriment of the review. Unwittingly, this is to the detriment of the viewing experience. I still enjoy seeing shows, don’t get me wrong. It’s a privileged position and I’m not knocking it. I get to see gigs for free in exchange for an hour or so of writing. That’s a good deal. However, some value is stripped with that step back from the full sensory experience. It’s made me more selective about what I choose to review and what I choose to pay for instead. Is it worth $15 to get more out of the performance? If you can afford to, it’s hard to say no.
In the case of watching one of the many (many) obviously fantastic, well crafted and sublime Air Bud films, it’s a process. My split screen set up has half the screen taken by whichever Air Bud cinematic masterpiece I’m watching. The other half is a word document with which to take notes. It’s not as simple as merely watching a brilliant and captivating exploration of silver screen potential, I need to ensure I’ve got as much information as possible to bring to the Pawdcast. This means jotting down character notes, quotes, important plot points, foreshadowing and thematic choices. The point is not to merely talk about these artful masterpieces, but to dissect them on unnecessary levels. These transcendent marvels weren’t sculpted by the touch of a higher being for nothing. It seems an injustice most severe to not ponder as to the true purpose of their creation and the divine messages hidden between the heroic sporting prowess. It’s kind of exhausting and, between the pausing/rewinding, means it takes about three hours to watch a 90 minute film. Am I focusing way too much on things that don’t matter? I’m not yet prepared to imply that anything in these films is at all less than essential.
It’s like any new job. With time, these things get easier. I’ll figure out which details are important and those that I can leave. It’ll be less of an effort to watch a kids movie about a dog jock and maybe, just maybe, it’ll seem less like work.
Until then, well I guess I’ve got an excuse to keep catching up on Game of Thrones. Valar Morghulis!