If you still read this, hi. See you in a few days

My parents are arriving in three days. It’s weird.

To be clear, it’s not weird in an unexpected kind of woah, how did these two aged humans manage to navigate hemispheres through sheer force of will and arrive in Toronto of all places? weirdness. It’s not weird that, post retirement, they’d want to take a holiday. It’s not even weird that they’d be interested in visiting their one child that has yet to procreate and give parents the one currency they desire over all: grandchildren and lineage extension. Hell, I think by now they like me, or at least they’ve gotten over the ludicrous sums it cost to raise what was once barely more then a sentient house plant. So it’s not THAT weird.

But it’s weird.

It’s weird because, for the first time in my life, my parents are gonna be under my roof. That’s weird, right? These people stopped me from dying thousands of times. They’d tuck me into bed and wash my little baby body. They fed me and instilled me with values like manners are important and people can love whoever they love irrespective of gender and that’s not weird. They created and enforced boundaries to help me become an adult with some scant clue about navigating a world that only cares about what you can do for it. Yet they’re gonna be under my roof, where my rules apply? Yeah, good fucking luck pulling rank, buddy. Not that I know any reason why I would. It’s not like we really have house rules, but if I ever felt like I needed to? Geez, I dunno.

I love my parents and by now I’m pretty sure I know then decently well. But what if I don’t know my parents, y’know? I’m pretty sure they’re reasonably socially liberal, but what if there are friction points? What if we’re so far entrenched in different bubbles of community that our views have tectonic instability? Will I have to spell out what privilege is? Or relate things that just aren’t acceptable now? Concepts of non gender binary or anything? There’s no way they’d know, right? Which doesn’t speak to ignorance on their part, but that things have drastically changed over time and it’s hard to care about that stuff as you age. I know, I care less about general whatnot than I did at age 20. Why should they give a shit post retirement? Or will I just swallow my tongue and let stuff slide? Figure if they were gonna change with the times, they would’ve made that decision on their own? They’re intelligent people and it’s not like they don’t grok things, but maybe they have views that *are* egregious in this day and age? I don’t know. The last time I spent physical time around them was around 17 months ago. If I did speak up about something they said would they accept my perspectives? Or brush anything off that the flesh lump they saved from cot death tried to teach them as condescending?

Even if I’m gonna give my parents enough credit, which they very much deserve, what about my extended family? We’re going to a big family gathering in Montreal. What if relatives I’ve never met as an adult start spouting off bullshit middle class white racism? “I was at the local market the other day and I noticed that nearly all the signs are in Korean. I feel like we’re the minority now.” That kind of thing. Also almost verbatim actual words a relative of mine has said. We don’t talk much. After a few glasses of wine I’m not gonna bother trying to hold my tongue. Is a family gathering even a good idea? It’s not high on my list of priorities, that’s for sure.

My girlfriend and I are also hosting a dinner for both our families to meet. THAT is gonna be weird as shit. Very different people. I don’t see any conflict happening, just a bizarre mish mash of assorted values and perspectives. It’s potluck, so at worst we can just talk about the food.

What if they get here and it suddenly makes me realise that yes, they are old? We’re all going to die and that’s a slow process. What if mortality is all that’s running through my mind? We’re having a mean and I’m thinking is this the last time I’m gonna have eggs Benedict with my parents? Or is the drive back from Montreal gonna be our last time in a car together? Who knows. You may call this excessively morbid, but all I know is my parents once picked me up for the last time without knowing it.

Yeah. It’s weird. I’m looking forward to seeing them though. It should be nice.

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And to think I woke up with no opinion on this song whatsoever

I was thinking about “The Girl from Ipanema” this morning. It’s basically just an unremarkable dude writing a song about feeling entitled to a gal he was oogling.

Thing is, he must have a bunch of albums. ‘Cause the kind of dude who gets so bent out of shape by a woman ignoring him probably gets ignored by a ton of women.

I expressed the above on Facebook today and one of my friends chimed in. He said, rightfully so, that there’s a lot of problematic stuff in past pop music, but as far as he’s concerned this song gets a pass. Who hasn’t felt the pangs of unrequited infatuation? Of wanting to talk to someone you take a fancy to, but being too afraid to say a word. This is undeniably true.

That said, the song still kinda felt a bit iffy to me and I started to think why. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with checking someone out in public. We all do it and anyone who says otherwise is probably lying. Checking someone out, in my mind, is a cursory glance or two. It’s not quite staring so intently at them you look through them and into the void. It’s not lingering unnecessarily enough that you gauge how similar the rhythm of their walk is to a musical genre. If you’re glowering at them day by day and you never make eye contact, maybe there’s a reason. People have a decent amount of peripheral cataloguing. I have no doubt that this girl- nay, woman- knows that dudes are watching her. It even says in the song that when she passes by, they go “ah!” The fact that they’re making actual exultations does not sit well with me. She knows where she’s sashaying (to the sea) and she’s pointedly staring straight ahead. This further underscores that she understands she’s being watched. She sounds single-mindedly focused, which may imply she’s had bad experiences in the past and just wants to get where she’s going. Then there’s this dude pining in the background studying her every movement thinking “how can I tell her I love her?” Love her? You’ve never met her, let alone loved her. You don’t know a thing about her, but you’re in love with her? You’re not in love with her, you’re attracted to her or infatuated by her. You’re not in love.

To be entirely honest, I have a ton of issues with the way love is represented in a wider sense. In so many movies (and not just romcoms, but especially romcoms), people “fall in love” for the sake of a plot. What they term as “love” I feel is closer to just infatuation. Maybe I have commitment issues, but love means a lot more to me than being attracted to someone pretty. I can like being around someone, be attracted to them and enjoy the chemistry, but that’s not love. Your mileage may vary, but love to me feels earned. Love is something that kind of takes hold when you realise that person is a large part of your life. Love is knowingly embracing the fact that your significant other has shortcomings. It’s not seeing the rosy ideal of how that person fulfils your needs. Love is when you want to go out of your way to take care of someone because them feeling better makes you happy. Love is picking ingrown hairs or shitting with the door open. Love is having the hard conversations without taking shots or one-upping each other. It’s understanding that there’s the option to cut and run, but there’s something larger worth preserving and working on that as a team. That seems like love to me.

Shoehorning romance into a plot or song as a way to make it easily palatable feels lazy and uninspiring. Stop using romance as a seasoning when it’s a veritable meal on its own.

ALSO after doing a bit of research and math, the “girl” in question was 17 at the time. The songwriters were 35 and 49.

Fuck this song. That girl dodged a bullet.

Situation: Comedy

In case you’ve never worked in an office, it’s just you and your coworkers saying hi in the hallways until one of you dies.

Then you get to do their work too.

Thanks Global Financial Crisis.

We’ve hit our busiest time of year, which means I’ve actually got stuff to do for most of the day. It’s kind of a treat. I get to put my head down and only be a fraction of the menace I usually am. Case in point. Today I noticed a co-worker had a three litre bottle of distilled water by his desk. I walked up to it and took a closer look.

Me: Do you think they call it distilled water because they were worried people would think it was no longer water?
Him: What?
Me: Dis still water?

His groan was palpable. What’s worse, a couple of times I went up to him and “checked” it was still water. I may have made a legit enemy. The best part is that I’ve orchestrated with other co-workers via email to do some cursory check ins. If this isn’t a firing offence, I don’t know what is.

I actually don’t know what a firing offence is. I wonder about it all the time. I get all of my work done and get the fuck out of the office on the dot. I’m generally pretty pleasant to my co-workers and bosses. I also hate going into the office every day and desperately want to quit once I find another job. That’s not a fireable offence though, right? Being unhappy isn’t a fireable offence and I’m sure that unless I was spreading despair throughout the building, I’m safe there. I goof around a bunch, for sure, but as I said, the work gets done on time and to a high standard. Goofing around isn’t fireable if I’m not constantly making mistakes or causing co-workers to, right? Being unmotivated and distractable isn’t propable cause, right? I can continue to walk in and out of those doors and cash a paycheck every two weeks without concern. I think, at least.

Sometimes I wish there was some scenario in which I got paid out. I know that as miserable as I get, I’m not gonna leave a job without another lily pad to jump to. Can’t do it. I’m too wrapped up in my security blanket. Kind of depressing, n’est-ce pas? I’ve got self-preservation skills enough to ensure I don’t starve, but have no problem letting my soul slowly dwindle to a trickle. My soul is water in this metaphor. I guess it’s flowing too. I don’t know why I didn’t just opt for evaporation imagery. It went along with the “starving” idea a lot better. If I wasn’t so focused on treading water I could’ve seen that much more clearly.

It’s okay though, I have escapism on my side. A safe little oasis where I can pretend that everything’s all sunny and plentiful. Tonight, for instance, I’m going to the first night of JFL42, Toronto’s comedy festival. I can forget my woes for the next 16 odd hours and instead see what transpires when tragedy meets time.

It’s funnier when it’s happening to somebody else.

Here I am muddering to myself

Tough Mudder this year was…

…actually, I think that says enough. Tough Mudder this year was.

It existed. There was a path to run on. They had some obstacles. It was a Tough Mudder course, in the proprietary sense of the word.

It was also a real disappointment. Look. I’m a decently optimistic bloke. I really am. I look forward to this event every year. I train like mad to throw myself at everything the course puts in my way. Every year I have a total blast getting covered in mud, slipping and sliding, crawling, climbing, swinging and jumping. Everyone helps everyone else out, and we all make a time of it. Great event.

This year it felt like they phoned it in. I’ve heard rumours that they’re looking to sell the brand and, as such, they’re trying to maximise profit margins by scaling things back. Feels accurate, even if it’s just a rumour. Which sucks, because the event has always been a master class in price scalping. We’ve known this going in, but it’s been fun enough to compensate. You’re paying at least $150 for a ticket, $20-$30 for parking and $10 for bag drop.

The obstacles this year were altogether pretty tame. King Gorilla was almost farcical. It was a zig zag through a dry, flat field. In previous years, at least it’s been up and down a hill, adding some interesting dimension. This year it felt like they got pushed for time last minute and turned the line outside of bag check into an obstacle. This year the full course involved looping around to do a second lap of the course, with some divergent paths. There were a couple of obstacles you had to redo. It was sorta lazy, like they didn’t even try. The partner carry was weirdly short and Mud Mile 2.0 felt like a mildly inconvenient puddle. Most of the obstacles felt like smaller versions of the previous ones. It was like they wanted to make them accessible for the half course, but didn’t add an extra difficulty layer for those who wanted them. Funky Monkey 2.0 was a blast last year and downgrading to the regular version this year was disappointing. The new Kong was fun, for sure, but there was nothing this year on the awe inspiring scale of King of the Swingers from a few years back. In past years they’ve had extra obstacles for returning participants, extra challenging ones. Not this year. My team and I were halfway through the course thinking “sure, it’s nice to be outside and people are very friendly, but does this all seem pretty underwhelming to anyone else?”

This was my fourth, and it seems like each year they scale down food options. First time around there were energy gels, pre-workout and real protein bars at regular intervals. If you’re burning a couple hundred calories every hour in the hot sun, this stuff is important to keep you going. It’s kinda irresponsible not to keep participants fed, not least because they’re paying $150+ per ticket. You think they could spare a protein bar, energy gel and pre-workout per participant and still be laughing all the way to the bank.

It’s not all bad. Christie Lake Conservation Area was gorgeous. Truly lovely terrain to run through. It was nice to not have the constant hills of St Louis, but it would’ve been great for the difficulty level to compensate. The electronic waivers were excellent this year. The staff were friendly and helpful. When a guy in the beer tent started getting faint, medical responded quickly and helped him out. There was still the outstanding attitude of camaraderie and an admirably low douchebag quotient, given the hordes of shirtless dudebros. It was a nice day out in the sun and I’m stoked that they’ve developed accessible opportunities for burgeoning course-goers, but it would’ve been nice to have the challenge level of previous courses. Felt like a waste of training.

Will I go again next year? Every other year the answer would’ve been a resounding yes. This time? Maybe I’ll see what Spartan Race 2019 is like instead.

Hard? Or bet? Or fast? Or strong? Or…

Well that’s a massive relief.

The interview is over. I don’t really want to talk about it (not cause it went terribly or anything) a lot. It went as well as it could’ve. The hiring manager seemed to really like me and thought I’d be a good fit for the position. When I asked her if, after meeting me, there were any particular worries she had about me in that role she said she really liked my passion and attitude, her only worry was that I might get bored after a while. I assured her that every job has its downtime and that’s why it’s a job. We parted on good terms. I told her that I understood she no doubt had a ton of other qualified applicants to talk to. The job sounds terrific and the right direction I want to be taking. If I pass muster, there’s one final interview I’d need to attend, which means I’d need to once again wear a button up shirt. A different one, no less. Life is hard sometimes, y’know.

Tough Mudder tomorrow. I’m really fucking excited. I know I’m gonna have trouble sleeping tonight, so it’s probably okay that I need to be out of the house by 6.30am. Not like I’d be catching Z’s anyway. I’m gonna rest up tonight. Some carbs with my dinner (leftover bibimbap from last night) and do a bunch of mobility work. I’ll pack everything I need for tomorrow (snacks, pre workout, big black plastic bags for muddy attire, a change of clothes/shoes, sunscreen. No doubt a million other things). Most importantly, I’ll get an early night. An early night meaning I’ll get into bed at 10pm or so, then no doubt be awake with my eyes closed until 2am. It’s one of the most wonderful times of the year.

This year has been hard beyond belief. After fracturing my wrist and spraining my ankles, training was incredibly difficult. Any progress I’d gained was pushed back to the stone age. Three months ago I had trouble eating a bowl of cereal. After a few weeks my ankles healed enough for me to jog, so I jogged with my arm in a cast. My arm amassed sweat and it sprayed out as I ran. Didn’t matter, had to get better. After the cast came off I went straight into theraputic exercises. Day in and day out I was testing my flexibility, working the small muscles in my hand. I got back to the gym and added exercises in one by one. Pull ups, bicep curls, chest press, tricep dips. It was hard, going from almost no weight and incrementally putting pounds on the bar. Tomorrow I’m going to pull myself over sheer walls. I’ll bound across the course like the Energizer Bunny on a rampage. There’ll be ring swinging and mud crawling. Tear gas and maybe real tears (gotta watch that wrist when hoisting people up). When I fractured my wrist the doctor said no. When I started doing physio they said “we’ll see how it’s healing”. After a little while that turned to “oh fuck yes you’re doing this course”. So, fuck yes. I’m doing this course. For the first time in years they’ve relocated the course from Mount St. Louis Moonstone to Dundas, Ontario. I’m really pumped to see what the new terrain is like. Fewer hills is my prime wish. I mean, Moonstone only really had one, but it was immense and you had to run up and down, up and down.

I’ve been waiting for this. I’ve been working for this. Tomorrow, I’m gonna push myself across that finish line.

Please don’t read the cast list, it’s a memorial to wasted talent

You could watch Transformers: The Last Knight, but why would you?

I watched “TTLK” because I was exhausted on a Sunday and friends were doing a movie night. Don’t ask me why this was the chosen film. Maybe it was meant to be a Movie Knight and they’d already watched the unrelated trilogy of A Knight’s Tale, Knight and Day and Knight of Cups. Perhaps it was the fourth Knight in a fortnightly series. Whatever their justification, I would’ve preferred a frontal lobotomy so I could stop fretting over what a waste of money/time the glorified tyre fire was. I could’ve gone to sleep at 7pm instead and it would’ve been a better use of my life.

However long you think the film was, it was longer. I don’t know who decided a CGI orgy of racist robots and Mark Wahlberg running in tank tops needed to be two and a half hours, but they need to be retroactively fired. While we’re here, when did Hollywood decide that the average movie length needed to be over two hours? What was wrong with tightly scripted 90 minute films? If you’re gonna dominate viewers’ attention for that long, at least have the grace to hire a script editor. TTLK clearly didn’t. TTLK was three different movies smooshed together without trying to meld any story elements. Part National Treasure, The Matrix and Braveheart, but without any of the charisma or intriguing plot elements that made those popcorn flicks watchable. This movie has so many ideas. It’s a wonder that none of them are any good. Here are some of the plot points.

  • Firstly, Cybertron (though wasn’t it destroyed in the previous film or something?) is doing some kind of planar overlay with Earth. Mankind was in peril, etc etc. Oh, also Earth is actually Unicron, a transformer.
  • Optimus Prime goes back to Cybertron to see what the deal is. Some transformer god slaps him and he turns evil. Goes by the new moniker of Nemesis Prime (personally I would’ve gone for Pessimus Prime, but there’s a lot I would’ve done differently). Goes back to generally menace.
  • The world has outlawed Transformers. Mark Wahlberg is living in some junkyard taking care of rogue transformers. Oh, and he finds a talisman that’s talked about a bunch, but basically just gives him a sword for one scene. I think Wahlberg just had a dream about wielding a sword in front of robots and was like “hey, write this in.” Since they apparently didn’t hire a script writer, he just wrote it verbatim.
  • There’s some orphan who also fixes transformers or something? She seems like a main character, but stops mattering after the first half.
  • They spend a frustrating amount of time on Bumblebee’s voice box, which doesn’t play by its own mythology.
  • A historical professor who’s the last descendent of Merlin (oh shit, I forgot about the Merlin stuff. I’ll get back there in a minute) is used almost primarily for spinster jokes and to shoehorn in a romantic sub sub sub subplot (they’re even on a submarine at one point) into a movie about fighting robots and King Arthur.
  • Okay, Merlin stuff. Transformers coming to Earth in the first film is retconned and now they helped King Arthur in his battle against the Saxons. Magic is real, but also all the magic wielded is just technology? They kind of characteristically shat the bed on that one.
  • There’s a secret society who’ve aided the transformers throughout history. Also, transformers killed Hitler apparently. Anthony Hopkins is a direct descendant of Shia LaBeouf from the first film. He’s been given a lemon of a role and he juices it for everything he can. He also has a human sized robo butler called Cogman.
  • Megatron is back to destroy the earth. Or Unicron, whatever it is. It’s not clear why he wants to do this, but he starts working with the FBI or something to hunt down Wahlberg and his merry band.
  • There’s a whole kerfuffle about how the Merlin descendant professor is the only one who can wield this staff that’s linked to her DNA, but they sorta abandon it after Megatron steals it.

There are so many scenes in this film. 80% of them didn’t need to happen. The first hour and a half is exposition and backstory to stack up the convoluted plot elements of this CGI clusterfuck, then the last hour just does whatever it wants. There’s no payoff for any of the ideas. They’ll spend 15 minutes on a certain plot point that’ll only lead to one line before it’s dropped. Again and again. They go on unnecessary side chases that could’ve been tightened and cut. There’s no fucking point in the Nemesis Prime plotline beyond selling another toy. He doesn’t even look that different, it’s just one side of his face that turns pink.

I don’t quite understand the demographic of this film. Isn’t it a kids film? I’m no prude, but it felt a bit much for preteen audiences. I can’t help but imagine it only looks good through fratboy Monster Energy Drink coloured glasses. “Shit” is every sixth word. Characters straight up murder people. Lots of flying bodies everywhere. Robots try to outdo each other in being as edgy as possible. Much like the drunk person in an earthquake, you’d have to be borderline alcohol poisoned to make plausible sense of the plot.

I recommend this film for anyone who owns truck nuts. Or has ornamental samurai swords all over their bedroom. Maybe Al Bundy. As someone who intentionally watches poorly composed movies, I can’t in good conscience advise this as an enjoyably bad experience. Nothing about it is enjoyable. It’s not even a good hate watch, you’ll just end up hating yourself for watching it.

If Michael Bay ever dies, I don’t doubt he’ll be spinning in his grave after watching what he’s done here. Expecially because EVERY FUCKING SCENE HAS A SPINNING CAMERA. HAVE SOME FUCKING RESTRAINT.

In short, I’m saying the man should be jailed for his crimes.

Un-bully-viable

Since McDonalds skins its fish, shouldn’t the burger be called “Flay Yo Fish”?

Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

Last night I bid adieu to my girlfriend for the next two weeks. She’s working TIFF, so we’re doing the whole ships in the night thing until the 17th. Then with JFL42 starting on the 20th, we’ll enjoy a swell Tuesday and Wednesday before I descend into the madness of 3-4 shows per night each night. Oh, and Tough Mudder’s thrown in there too. September, as usual, is chaos in our household.

I was just thinking about childhood bullying. I got bullied, it sucked. Bigger kids took advantage of the size/strength differential and went to town. It was demoralising, severely dented my self-confidence and made me realise that some people had no compunction over taking their frustrations out on others. It made me realise just how satisfying it would be as an adult to just beat the shit out of a child bully. One punch, that’s all I’d need. Right to the noggin. I know it wouldn’t be productive. I know it’d come under the grounds of child abuse and, as such, likely be illegal. Still, watching movies on oil rigs is illegal and I have no doubt people have done that and gotten away with it. Just think of anyone who made your life hell as a kid. Now imagine that you grew while they didn’t. Imagine one solid right hook, then the sound of them hitting the ground. Imagine the restorative thrill of getting revenge. I think if X-Men Danger Room style technology becomes available, that’s gonna be one of my first requests. Knocking simulacrums of my childhood terrors the fuck out.

Yes, I understand that teaching children self-awareness and consequence would have more longetivity to it. Still, when has humanity ever truly had foresight?

This article was a fun read. I don’t know if they pulled the trailer card and printed all the best bits. If not, the book should be a good popcorn novel. I’m sure the Washington Post is using their exclusive access to print as much eye catching stuff as possible. Still, if Woodward is involved, I’d think it pretty fair that the stories have a certain amount of veracity to them. Woodward has seen some shit, y’know. He pretty much co-created the “gate” suffix. What’s this one? Trumpgate? The claims that’ve been raised are quite something and paint a picture of the White House as the kind of satire too unbelievable for television. The notion that his subordinates are simply removing documents from his desk so he doesn’t sign them. That’s quite something. It also speaks to his cohorts more than I expected. That despite how much I disagree with them politically, at least they’re shielding the world from the worst of Trump’s incompetence. He sounds like he’s about as unfit for the position as we expected, but perhaps more.

Here’s the tricky thing. My response, as well as everyone else’s, speaks to exactly why he’s still around. He gets so much goddamn attention that it’s impossible to look away. Instead of truly condemning the trash fire he is, media outlets give him way too much lenience. If they can get ratings from his antics, why would they say no? It’s Keeping Up With The Kardashians, but with something actually at stake. Gormless following of insubstantial people because of endless fascination. It’s reality TV at its worst, because the fallout directly impacts so many lives. Will this book have any impact? Or will his supporters deny to their death (because admitting you’re wrong is apparently beyond possibility)? Will he ever get ousted? Or will one of his aides fail to stop him from committing all the carnage he intends to sow?

What the fuck will history think looking back at this mess?