What’s left to leave?

Sooo, impromptu borderline mandatory holiday. I’ve got seven days of leave remaining (notice how I skirted over saying “leave left”? I didn’t really. I just deleted it once I typed it. Then I thought I’d be all ironic pointing out how dumb that’d be. Then I lost all manner of credibility by explaining exactly what happened and how ironically unironic this whole uninspired mess was. This is why most of the time I just hit the backspace key a bunch of times and move on. Speaking of which, how about we move on?) and only five days I’m allowed to transfer to next year. Thus I have the next two Mondays off. I would’ve chosen more opportune days and planned things out, but with two people leaving the team, I’m gonna have to shoulder a ton of extra work. Considering we need to do the majority of our work in advance, if I didn’t take a holiday RIGHT NOW, it’d be more work to take the holiday than it’d be worth.

I certainly didn’t need to have any more excuses to hate my job right now, so let’s table that for some other time. Relentless negativity feels cliché in a world that seems to be fuelled by it.

Unfortunately, I don’t see this holiday coming together. It’s short notice and I don’t have a car. People are too busy for last minute excursions and I wouldn’t expect anyone to just drop their shit and go. A friend actually offered her car for Monday if I want it which is lovely, but the point isn’t just to get away. I’m looking to share experiences with people. If she wanted to go on an adventure I’d be all for it. I’m tired of travelling alone. I want to do dumb shit with friends. I want to check out small towns. Go to diners, local bars, thrift shops. Adopt my bullshit elitist big city persona and laugh with someone about how quaint and adorable everything is. Imagine an alternate existence where I grew up in a small town and getting drunk at the dilapidated skate park was the highlight of my week. Think about how it felt to have dreams of getting out of that podunk town and just drive until I saw the lights.

Then I could marvel to myself that everything worked out in reality. That this timeline is the one where I got out. That I live dwarfed by cityscapes and feel comfort in my own insignificance. Where opportunity is around every corner and all I need to do is ask around. Where it’s possible to be cynically optimistic, because even if things seem shit now they could all turn on a dime.

That had I stayed home things would’ve stayed fine but unexciting. That eventually I’ll learn to push myself and make it happen. That I will find a breaking point because I have to. Because otherwise I’ll spend the rest of my life telling myself stories of what it’d be like to escape and find myself. Because otherwise I’ll never really feel at home.

For these next two weekends, however, I’m on vacation. So fuck “home”.

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A plea for coffee more than anything else.

I went out for dinner with family last night. It was nice and some parts of it have stayed with me. Namely the parts blocking up my digestive tract. We ate a lot of meat. More than that, it was a good chance to catch up and chat extensively. EXTENSIVELY I say. We all got there earlier than our 7pm reservation and left at 10:30pm. Then we did late night ice cream for dessert. I think the only reason we ceased our catching up and extensive chatting was that the ice cream joint was shutting down and my girlfriend needed to use the bathroom.

I’d say shit happens, but I’m gonna need a coffee before anything’s happening in my system.

Anyway, we shot the shit, chewed the fat and talked ourselves to death. It was a great chance to discuss all manner of issues with people at a different stage of life than us, who have experienced the world in a different manner. I don’t want to make it sound like they’re eternal vampires who’ve witnessed the turn of many centuries. They’re not that old, but I’d wager being on the other side of having borderline adult children gives you a different perspective from disillusioned avocado toast munching snake people who’ve abandoned this cesspool of a world in favour of retiring to Never Never Land.

I dunno. I got worked up and ranted a little bit. Not like this is a huge deviation from the norm. At one stage I was asked something about coping mechanisms. In short, if everything seems dark out, how do you lighten up? I thought about it for a while, then went to the domain of thought: the bathroom. I certainly wasn’t doing much else there, the dinner had been lacking in dietary fibre (though overflowing with some manner of moral fibre). I considered it and later reflected. Escapism was my answer. Drinking, eating, watching endless TV shows, deep diving into video games. Many hours of mindless internet perusing. Basically all numbing behaviour. The response to a world in which seems to be circling the drain.

I posited that this kind of mentality had coloured the humour of this generation. I thought back to Generation X and the rise of sarcasm as humour in response to feelings of discontent. I considered this generation’s reliance on memes. Sarcasm, irony, meta narratives where the joke is on larger structures that society enables. Nihilism as common parlance. An understanding that we’re all fucked and if we don’t laugh about it, we’ll have no recourse but to cry. Frankly, we can only cry so much in a day.

I wanna point out that I’m not naive or ignorant enough to steadfastly believe that absolutely everything in the world is on fire. Small victories exist all over the place, it’s frankly just hard to see them through the smoke sometimes. Of course social media and groupthink play a big part in it. Disasters draw more notice than wins. We have rubbernecking on a global scale at a frequency that’s causing whiplash. I’m sure there are amazing scientific discoveries and advancements occurring every day. I’m sure that there’s probably more good in the world than bad. Thing is, you can only walk two steps forward, one step back for so long before you start focusing on how much further ahead you could be.

I mean, didn’t we all think we beat the Nazis over 70 years ago?

Do readers really digest?

I had a thought earlier about how often I consume and how little I digest. I’m not talking about my propensity to inhale cheese. This is more of an intellectual intake. It’s amazing that we can have the entire world an arm’s length away from our face. We’ve all got the internet in the palms of our hands these days. Hell, some people have psalms in the palms of their hands these days. I’m not sure how much I read or watch in a day. I literally couldn’t tell you everything I passed on my journey down the information super highway today. There was too much and I wasn’t paying enough attention. That’s sort of the crux of what I’m talking about. So often I’ll get to the end of an article/thinkpiece/rant/movie/episode and reflect well that was interesting, wasn’t it? That’ll usually be where my interaction with that text ends. If I cast my mind back to it later, I’ll recall only scant details. I think they call it The Google Effect (would looking it up be ironic?). Essentially I assume I can always find it and re-read it if it’s important enough.

I was in the bathroom maybe an hour ago reading an article, got to the end and asked myself how much of that did I really take in? Yes, I appreciate the juxtaposition of thinking about digestion while sitting on the loo. I thought back to learning techniques used in school. Doing book reports or going through supplied questions about the texts. Provoking thought on something I’d just taken in. Just because I’d devoured it didn’t mean my mind took any nutrients before flushing it out. I started to think about my regular daily intake and how much I retain when I rise the following day. Maybe 1% at a conservative guess. If that’s true, then why read so much? Why am I bothering to cover so much ground if its footprint is so small in my brain?

I’m thinking about my habits and what they do for me. Modern online life revolves around getting as much as we can all the time. Apps and websites are designed in a manner that encourages consuming more and more. It makes sense. They want to sell ads and monetise our consumption. They want us buying their products, subscribing, etc etc. Synapses in our brain are constantly firing off as the carefully cultivated content hits all of our pleasure/reward centres. They know what they’re doing. Do I? What’s the point of reading so much if it’s not doing anything for me? If I go to a buffet and eat till I’m in pain, did I really get more value for money than if I’d stopped when I was satisfied?

I don’t know for sure how you all use the internet, but did any of that ring true for you? If so, I want to put something out there (I’ll probably say this then forget about it (I can just google it later)) that I think might help to ring more out of a text. After you’ve finished an article/thinkpiece/rant/movie/episode, ask yourself questions. Do a little book report for yourself. Ask how the piece made you feel. What arguments did you particularly like that it put forth? Was there anything that felt underdeveloped or you disagreed with? Why? What were your takeaways from the piece? If you were to tell someone about it at a party, how would you phrase it? What important or novel things did you learn from it? How was your perception of the piece shaped by your wider societal views?

It sounds like a waste of energy, but if I did this for everything I took in and only consumed two pieces in a day, I’d probably come out having learned more than I do at the moment. I may read 20-30+ pieces in any given day, but retain very little. In retrospect, that sounds like a waste of energy.

P.S. Never surrender.

Long weekend begins now, so this is gonna be a loose and scattered entry. In case you forgot it was Remembrance Day tomorrow, they’ve Monday-ised the holiday for some professions. Mainly banks. Our company decided to follow suit, so if I decide to take advantage of it to seek out trendy brunch spots, chances are all my juicy eavesdropping will be consumed by the “insightful” commentary of Banker Bros. I guess that’s called penance.

I feel like celebrate is the wrong word, but I plan on spending the weekend eating, drinking and letting off steam like someone who works for the weekend. I work a tedious office job, this is all I have. Going out dancing tonight, having barbecue with family tomorrow, attending a wedding on Sunday and playing Magic with friends on Monday. Also making sure not to forget about Dre the whole time. Never forget.

So Louis C.K. has put his apology out and it’s a bummer. The worst part is that he’s saying mostly the right stuff, but it’s a matter of too little, too late. For a proper apology you need to acknowledge how your actions have hurt the other party. You need to show remorse and empathy. Then you need to commit yourself to restitution, outlining how you plan to change or proceed in a manner counter to your previous behaviour. His apology mostly ticks all these boxes and likely would’ve had some impact on public opinion and reception. Would have. Timing is everything. He’s had so many opportunities to come clean. He could’ve issued this apology when the rumours surfaced or when he was called out by Tig. He didn’t. He denied it right to the last second. You’ve gotta question the contrition of someone who only apologises once their bottom line is in danger. If you’re only sorry for your actions because of how the outcome affects you, you’re not really sorry for what you’ve done, are you? Is he?

I dunno. I’m pretty burnt out on thinking about it. No, hiding away and pretending nothing is wrong sure isn’t the correct response, but I don’t have the emotional energy for this now. Really what I want to know over all else, what does Sofia Coppola think of Daddy’s Home 2? Why? Because one of the most refreshing things I’ve heard in recent memory is that one of esteemed director Sofia Coppola’s favourite films is the Will Farrell/Mark Wahlberg (he’s another piece of shit, never forget) vehicle Daddy’s Home. I’ve never seen this movie. I have no intention of ever watching it. That doesn’t stop me from being totally charmed by her admission that a dumb low brow comedy is one of her top films because she can watch it with her kids. What a nice way to give the middle finger to a holier than thou industry so concerned with personal branding. I think that’s fucking awesome. She’s fucking awesome.

Also when the fuck did we decide to forgive Mel Gibson? Never forget. Never forgive.

I’m not C.K.ing sanctuary.

Well, the Louis C.K. bomb has finally been dropped. The rumours have been around for years. With the frequency of their resurgence, I’d hope that we didn’t have any doubt over their truth. Realistically though, I think we mostly hoped that they weren’t true. Why do I say this? Because I took the allegations as fact a while back, but still quietly crossed my fingers they’d be proven wrong. Hell, silly as it is a part of me still wants to believe that this never happened. Why? Because like all of us, I want to live a life without obstacles. I’ve consumed a lot of his work and been engrossed. I enjoyed his TV series and a bunch of his specials. I’ve actively sought out shows or movies because of his involvement. I’ve seen him as an impressive auteur, a good writer, someone who creates work that provokes and challenges existing structures. I’ve looked up to him and now that’s something I need to deal with.

I’m sure I’m not alone here. There’s a reason the guy sold out Madison Square Garden. There’s a reason why he could afford to skip studio distribution in favour of his own independent set up. He’s been admired by many. Furthermore, whether by his own admission or not, he cultivated a persona that seemed to support women and the struggles they face. Promoting female comics like Tig Notaro and giving her album “Live” a platform. Creating bits that called out the aggressive patriarchal structure of society and how unsafe it is for women. He also cultivated the persona of an honest pervert, which seemed like he’d put his dirty laundry out in the open. Yeah, we knew he was gross, but everyone’s gross. We just thought his grossness lay on the side of consent.

I can’t be the only fan who wanted to believe that he was one of the good ones. Someone I could safely idolise. In fact I know I’m not. I’ve had these conversations with other fans over the past few months, especially in the wake of #metoo. It’s been tough and I know it’s not over. Why? Because I read through the NY Times piece and parts of me were still looking for excuses. These all happened over ten years ago, maybe he’s apologised to the victims. Maybe he’s made an honest attempt at rehabilitation and putting it all behind him. Maybe I don’t have to reconsider my relationship with his work and the support I’ve given it. The lengths to which I want to make it easy for myself to not jump through mental hoops is absurd.

Simply doing a 180 and condemning him now isn’t enough. It’s important to put in the work and decode why it’s been so hard to believe not only in his fallibility, but guilt. Overall he’s been dismissive of the rumours in an attempt at damage control. He’s done nothing to own his mistake and commit to meaningful change. Those are the actions of a man who wants to quash something instead of dealing with it. They’re guilty actions and now so many of us feel guilty for supporting him. It makes sense. There’s a linear connection between a loss if faith in someone we admired and our own sense of guilt. If they were abusive and we looked up to them, what does that say about us and our own ability to read others? If we consumed their output and supported them, does that make us complicit in putting someone who performed deplorable acts on a pedestal? If we saw him as someone greater than us and he’s no good, what does that make us? Can we no longer in good conscience watch his shows? Listen to his comedy? Can’t we just separate art from the artist?

It’s gonna sound like a cop out, but that’s for you to decide. I can’t tell you what to do, because even now I’m conflicted. Of course I don’t want to give up something that I’ve enjoyed. Change is difficult and life is hard enough already. I know that the right answer is to stop consuming his content. It should be easy to stop supporting him and move on, but it’s not. A big part of me doesn’t want to open that door, because I’m not sure where it leads. Woody Allen? Bill Murray? Nicolas “One True God” Cage? Can we have one dude in power out there who doesn’t abuse it?

Please let The Rock be an okay guy.

Is this that movie moment where you look back and realise “Oh, so I was the problem all along”?

I’m not good at social norms. I’m not tossing this out there like I’m some roguish rebel with no cause to speak of. This also isn’t some edgy Hot Topic mall goth style “I’m so weird and random lol” thing either. It’s more that a lot of established niceties don’t make a lot of sense and seem like a waste of energy.

Take “how’s it going?” for instance. My usual response is honest. I’ll say how I feel. If things are going great, I’ll say so and give an explanation. If they aren’t, #same. If they didn’t want to hear it, then they shouldn’t have made an emotional bid. Why waste the words if they didn’t care? If all they wanted was to acknowledge my presence, a nod would’ve sufficed, right?

Now I’m fine with this as a concept, but the execution doesn’t always stick the landing. Lately, as things have been generally sub-par, I’ve found myself unloading on unprepared people and giving them more than they signed up for. Nobody has had a massively adverse reaction or anything. People have listened and responded as best they could for the most part. The issue I have is that it’s created an unbalanced dynamic. I often end up talking about myself (which is everyone’s favourite thing to do, don’t lie) and they don’t reciprocate. I’d be happy to do the emotional labour for others. I’m open to be there and listen. The thing is, people aren’t conditioned to know that it’s an option. If I ask “how’re you doing?” I get back an auto-response. “Fine. Good. Alright.” It’s shorthand for “I’m not looking for a conversation.”

This isn’t to mention my odd conversational disappearing act thing. That one I fully understand is absurd, but it’s been an intentional bit. A while back I decided that I liked how in movies nobody ever says goodbye when they hang up the phone. I decided it’d be amusing (to me only, clearly) if I just vanished once the conversation had run its course. No so long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen or goodnight. Why? Because I wanted to cultivate an air of mystique. Because I realised a while back that to some people I was basically a magical creature who apparated, said something interesting or different then disappeared into the aether. Why not lean into that? I thought.

So for the past few years at work, I’ve engaged with people, had conversations beyond the mere “so how’s it going” mentality and just kind of left. It’s often dawned on me that it’s probably considered quite dick-ish, but my commitment to the bit is strong enough that I don’t want to relent. In retrospect, this is likely all the more dick-ish and serves nobody but me. If nobody else is in on the bit, what would it do for them. Furthermore, does anyone consider me to be enigmatic and magical? Who knows? I probably disappear before they could mention it.

The un-examined life is not worth living, right? So I figure it’s pertinent to question why these structures exist. What are people really getting out of these minor social flourishes? Does it serve us to continue using them? Or is it up to us to find some that serve a purpose?

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.