I’m a lot like you were

For some reason I woke up with this video playing in my head on loop.

For context, a bunch of my friends and I thought this was the funniest thing in the world circa 2004. Like “Star Wars Kid” before him, Gellieman was a figure of ridicule, but also strangely some respect? Of course he was a figure of mockery, but like us he too was a teenager. I think on some level we understood that we all were not far off creating something that embarassing. We had that kind of potential. I mean, we were drama geeks. Have you seen Glee? If you substituted the singing for “acting out” and the wheelchair for stunted emotional maturity, that was basically us.

When I think about it more, it was pretty my best friend leading the charge with the “Aicha” video. Thing is, he always posessed this bizarrely infectious enthusiasm. If he got on a tear about something, nine times out of ten, everyone would be on that train whether they liked it or not. So, “Aicha”. We watched it enough times to learn it by heart. We knew the song, we knew the dance, we knew the very specific inflections with which Gellieman said every single line. We’d break out into spontaneous performances from time to time, whether this was in the middle of class or not. It all reached its fever pitch when, for shits and giggles, we created a parody boy band group and performed the song at the school talent show. In retrospect, I’m sure most people had no fucking idea what was going on, but we did it all with such conviction that I think they just rolled with it. We were all Known Individuals by that point.

Look, I could write novels about my best friend. We don’t talk much now, because we live half a world away. Doesn’t mean I don’t still adore the guy. We have one of the most concrete relationships in my life, in that it never needs watering and will always be there. I don’t know that we could have awkward pauses, there’s just too much history. We’ve known each other since we were infants, yet I think fairly often back to high school and his nigh frightening creativity. Saying he was prolific would be a dramatic understatement. He’d just get whipped up into these personal frenzies and create, seemingly apropos of nothing. We’d meet at the same corner to walk to school and weirdly often he’d be like “oh by the way, here’s a script I wrote last night” and hand me a 20 minute performance on paper. Maybe it’d was a faux soap opera script that included a character for everyone in the drama department, totally nailing all our personal in-jokes and isms. Or perhaps it was an ersatz Waiting for Godot, riffing on the fall of communism. It was always something.

Y’know, one time the Prime Minister was visiting our school. What did he do? He went home and painted a red & purple picture of New Zealand’s topography and gave it to her. Burned into my brain is a photo of the two of them standing together, him with a goofy grin, her more than mildly disconcerted. I’m 98% sure she thought he was a special needs student and treated him accordingly. I get it, he was a weird dude (still is) and was entirely unpredictable (still is).

I think one of my many many favourite stories about him was when we did a student directed performance of King Lear themed around the Stock Market Crash of 1929. He auditioned, but ultimately didn’t get cast as a speaking part. I think his part was “Old Man” or something of the like. Thing is, he was always around and constantly goofing off. We were all a pretty tight crew and he was good friends with the director. As the production advanced, he was Just Always Around, riffing and improvising. The more he was around, the more his character ended up being added to scenes. By performance time, Old Man was in a curious number of scenes. Not only that, he had lines. Plural. Was Old Man a big character in the original play? Did it matter? Not when he was around. When I think about it, whenever he was around, it felt like you were in some kind of scene. He made it that way.

I wonder how much it costs to get to Finland…

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I swear I’m not *just* saying it either

None of us really just “hang out” anymore.

This wasn’t my exclusive observation. A friend pointed it out while a bunch of us were hanging out as a group. Remember being a teenager and calling friends up to hang out? The motive was simple: Spend time together. That was it. Sure, you could figure out activities as you went, but it was more about being in each other’s presence than looking for an end goal. Maybe you’d “go to the mall” or mill about the house. We’d play video games or dawdle in stores and maybe go to the food court. As I said, there were still activities, but they were secondary to being together. These days that rarely happens, at least for me. It’s about finding an excuse, as if that was a necessity. “Hey, wanna grab Korean?” or “Hey wanna watch a movie?” “I’m looking to get a few things from Kensington Market. Wanna come along?” Constant justification for time spent, as if auditing ourselves. Excessive pretext in lieu of the subtext. We’re still just looking to spend time together, but couched inside a raison d’etre. We can’t *just be*. In this economy? Maybe it’s also fear, in an interconnected world where anything we want is at our fingertips. That’s a lot to compete with. If you want to be in somebody’s company, you better give them a damn good reason to commit to you and not the myriad of opportunities at their command. Time is a big ask of someone else. We’re all so busy busy busy and stepping off that treadmill is a huge emotional bid. There need to be stakes for the scenario to be worth it.

Really though, being together is its own reward. I think we all know that deep down. Having close friends to share yourself with is pretty goddamn fulfilling. Confiding in one another, offering support, reminiscing or joking around. It’s all an excellent use of time if we spare even a few seconds to think about it. Yesterday I spent almost 12 hours hanging out with friends. It was impromptu and the best use I could’ve made of the day. It wasn’t true “hanging out” in the “without pretense” sense, but it kind of became that. It all started with a group afternoon brunch message. We quickly mobilised at a local spot and got our menus. I regaled the group with how my brain works when trying to decide how to order:

“So I’m trying to choose between the PLT and the burger (the linked menu is old and lists a Grilled Cheese Burger. It’s now just a regular burger with additional options). The PLT has most of the options that I want, but it feels like it doesn’t quite get there. The Burger feels sort of like a cop out for breakfast usually, but since it’s 1pm I feel okay about a burger being the most important meal of my day. I really like that the burger feels more substantial than the PLT, but it doesn’t have cheese, which the PLT does. The PLT also has egg, which the burger doesn’t. But at the same time one egg feels insubstantial, so I’d want two eggs or more food. The burger is $2 more expensive, but it does feel like I’d be more full. I mean. Ideally getting the burger with cheese and an egg would get me to my happy place, but with those additions I’m paying $20.50 for a breakfast burger, which feels a little excessive. By the time I’m there, I might as well be getting the steak and eggs for $20 (the prices on the linked menu are also a little outdated. Two eggs costs $5 now). No, that wasn’t an option that I mentioned before, but in the back of my mind I was thinking that if I got past $20, no matter what I was ordering it’d make more sense to get the steak instead, since it’s the premium menu option. So, I guess I’m having the steak?”

The steak was great. Brunch was great. The company was great. We chatted about movies, we got nostalgic about old trends, we reminisced about past parties and our own weird “isms”. We joked around and made puns, all while gorging on excellent tucker. So when someone suggested to keep the party going, it all made sense. With all of us being locals, we stopped off at home to pick up supplies then reconvened at our friend’s place to watch movies. For the next 10 or so hours we did just that. We lay in their basement plounge (pillow lounge. They have a couple of mattresses, lots of soft toys and blankets. We fall asleep there all the time), watched films, snacked and shot the shit. Some people came and went, and the dynamic was always rock solid. It was the utter best, just shamelessly chilling out and being ourselves around friends who encouraged exactly that. We celebrated each other and the people in our lives. We bitched and moaned about things on our mind. We followed narratives and got sucked into nature documentaries. It was totally ideal, and it’s a shame it doesn’t happen more often.

So yeah, we should hang out more.

In other words, Viet-nommies

I had this brief thought, wondering if it was possible to string together varied song lyrics as some kind of faux poetry.

The ice we skate is getting pretty thin,
I move away from the mic to breathe in.
Long after the thrill of living is gone,
The beat goes on, the beat goes on.

You wouldn’t think it, but that short combination took maybe 10 minutes to write. It’s goddamn hard to bring the disparate songs together. I know there are people out there (Black Thought, anyone?) who can string together thought provoking and conscious lines in a mental tight rope walk. I’m not one of those people. Instead I sat thinking of lines, then other lines that matched. But then I realised that I didn’t really know the lyrics that well, so I had to think of other ones. Most of the lyrics didn’t make a ton of sense when smooshed together and these aren’t miraculous. Still, they honestly don’t work that badly together. This isn’t a statement. If I was gonna do a statement it’d be longer and I’d devote a bunch of time to it. This isn’t that. Even so, I am surprised at how congruent Smash Mouth, Tay Zonday, John Cougar Mellencamp and Sonny & Cher lyrics were. Words, yo. They’re great.

I got bored, as I do, so I started walking the floors at work. I found a big pumpkin on the 5th floor and took it. I gave it big ol’ anime eyes, a cute bulbous nose, a little smile and a big beard. Then I borrowed a trilby from a co-worker for extra flair. Its name is now Pumplestiltskin and it’s my newest workmate.

I’m getting Vietnamese with friends tonight and I’m gonna have to fight my ever instinct to get Pho. To impact the situation, Toronto’s getting down to around -19 degrees this evening. Pho would clearly be the ideal dinner, but for the sake of sharing and introducing friends to Vietnamese cuisine, I’ll relent. Look, Vietnamese is great, but I rarely ever don’t want Pho. It’s just brilliant. It’s a big bowl of love and warmth. It incorporates meat in various stages of rawness. The broth has been tended to non-stop for hours. It’s a quick, cheap meal that’s delicious and seems relatively healthy. It’s also crammed full of noodles, which are endlessly fun to eat. Not getting Pho is an exercise in willpower so extreme, that if I manage to go through with it, I’m pretty sure I’ll be capable of anything.

I will try, for my friends’ sake.

Invariably, it’s gonna be spring rolls, vermicelli dishes and maybe if we’re lucky, “broken rice”. I want good shareable dishes so we can sample a bunch of different things. Pho is not that. I mean, you could share Pho, but why would you? If you already have Pho, you don’t want to eat any less Pho than you could. Pho is life, Pho is love.

In short, tonight I’ll have PhoMo.

I do have a children’s Wolverine mask I bought from Dollarama

I’m planning and plotting RIGHT NOW. You don’t even know. Probably because I haven’t mentioned any of the details. Heck, you didn’t even know what I was plotting until I mentioned the fact that I was. Upon reflection, I don’t even know if plotting carries the connotations I’m looking for, so let’s revert back to planning. Because if everything comes together, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Did that sound clandestine? Blame me for following a thread I’d be quick to abandon. I’m doing a thing next weekend and I think I’d be served coming to the table with some ideas. I’m still being vague, ain’t I? Like I’m hiding behind some kind of… mask?

Look, I’m playing Masks: A New Generation on a friend’s Role Playing Game podcast. I don’t expect you to know what Masks is. I also don’t think you know my friend. I’d maybe hazard that you’d know what a Role Playing Game is (think Dungeons & Dragons), and podcasts are evergreen enough by now that I’d suppose you’d have heard of them. With that considered, a general rundown.

Masks is a game based around Halcyon, a city of heroes. Preceding generations have paved the way for a superpower aware society. The gold generation are long past, the silver generation are a little younger. They might be in their 40s-50s and possibly still operating in the city. Your squad are teenagers coming into their powers. It’s a volatile time for anyone on the verge of adulthood, but doubly so when you’re filled with warring motivations and parahuman abilities. The framework of the game allows for some detailed backstory and potential Acting, which seemed like a fun thing to take part in on a Sunday afternoon. If you’re interested in knowing a little more, try this link.

So I thought I’d brainstorm a couple of character ideas based around the different archetypes. I’m not making characters now, but maybe on the day I’ll think back to these and consider some of the concepts.

The Bull is your classic Big Guy in a Five Man Band. Driven by impulse, they’re strong and rush headlong into conflict. Typically they have a love and a rival. This archetype doesn’t super appeal to me, but I do like the idea of being an emotional glass cannon at a time when angst is rife. Maybe they could have skin that shifts elemental state based on emotion? Kind of like The Thing or Colossus, but with an added elemental state. Anger could case the skin to harden, sadness could weaken it and leave it vulnerable. This character would be at the mercy of their own mental state, but also highly susceptible to villains’ emotional attacks.

The Transformed is a character whose physical form has become twisted into an inhuman visage. Think a lycanthrope with no recourse back to true humanity. I typically really enjoy lycan type characters and the notion of turmoil with human vs animalistic nature. I’m kind of into the idea of some form of insectoid characteristics. Maybe Metamorphisis left some kind of imprint on me, but a cockroach could be neat. Truly disfigured, maybe a departure from previously attractive features. There’s some really disgusting stuff you could do with fighting base instincts. I’d have to do research, but this would give options of flight, maybe some kind of poison attacks or asexual reproduction to create minions. Who knows?

The Beacon is a character with no powers, but an overwhelming desire to enact heroics. Think Iron Man or Batman. Something drives you and vigilante activity is your everything. I’ve always had fascination with a character who has an innate, almost unnatural understanding of physics. It’d be cool to have a true daredevil, someone impulsive and a total slave to adrenaline. Maybe they had a life threatening situation they narrowly escaped from as a child and it forever altered the direction of their life. Very athletic by design, they’ve trained their entire life in the pursuit of heroism, but their motivations are anything but pure. Reckless to the core, it’s all about chasing that high. Could be a gambler, parkour, a throwing weapon they could use for rebounds like Captain America or Daredevil.

The Janus has a secret identity, and keeping it that way is of the utmost importance. I think this character could be neat as a total pedant. Perhaps very privileged and inflexible upbringing. They’ve always had everything they wanted, but it’s never been enough and they don’t know why. They could go their lives without working a day, but they’re lost, purposeless. Maybe a part of them has secretly felt like they’re not doing enough and it eats them up inside. Perhaps they see inequality, but it’s so far removed from their existence that they don’t know how to deal with it. They’re all about propriety, and it’s a challenge to break loose from that. I honestly don’t have any great justification as to why, but I’d really like a sound based character, maybe with the ability to manipulate waveforms in the air. They could make people hear things, mess with volume, create pressure and pain through overloading eardrums. Physically though, they wouldn’t be gifted. Why would they? They’ve never had to be.

It’s all stuff to think about, looking at central motivations and how powers fit into a character’s personality. I’m pretty excited to get rolling and figure out who I’m gonna be. What kind of mask will I wear?

Fall for one and one for Fall.

Okay, okay. I’m here. I mean, I’m also not here. I’m typing and that counts for something. At the same time, my attention is on the other half of my screen. My favourite player is in the Magic Pro Tour semifinals and I’m rapt with the game. I’ve been tracking his progress all weekend and it’s really fulfilling seeing him dominate. He’s up two games, so he’s currently the forerunner in this match. Still, that could change on a dime. It’s all very exciting, isn’t it? ISN’T IT?

Well I think so.

Today’s a loose day. I went out to a rave style event last night and I’m suitably hungover/recovering. It was fucking great, exactly the kind of dance event I look for. Weirdly enough it was in a home and garden centre. If not for the sign above the bar, you wouldn’t have known. The party was themed after The Fall, both seasonal and biblical. Lots of autumnal wear, angels and demons and an absurd amount of glitter. So yeah, typical rave fare, I guess. It was a paid private party, so there were a bunch of stipulations. You needed a code to buy tickets, and only a certain number of people had codes to give out. This basically cut down on a lot of potential douchebags. Friends of friends, mostly, made it a great crowd. I swear, I entered the dancefloor and instantly saw someone I knew. Then I turned around and bumped into another friend. It was practically this ad infinitum for the rest of the evening.

Oh wow, LSV takes the win, three games in a row. Onto the finals.

The other perk of the private party thing was the bar. It was all based around a shared economy. You could buy drinks as per normal, or you could bring an unopened bottle with you to donate and drink for free all evening (plus tipping your bartenders, of course). I had a bottle of moonshine I happened to buy last week, so I figured it was ideal. I mean, moonshine is fun to drink now and again. I feel, I dunno, kind of filthy when I have it. Which I mean only in a positive manner. At the same time, it’s not the kind of thing I want to down all night. Donating it to the bar was the perfect compromise. Everyone was told to bring a refillable cup with them to cut down on rubbish. I had my faithful sippy cup, Dr Tipples. PHD. Faithful she was. There were no spills on the dancefloor and she was tactile enough to keep hold of. So easy that even a baby could’ve been mess free. In other words, perfect for me.

Ticket codes aside, it was fucking packed. The event sold out and it showed. The dance floor was rammed. I oscillated between dancing and being a human thoroughfare. When space opened up I took advantage and moved into it. I tried to stay together with friends, but dance floor traffic kept shifting us apart. As time passed and I drank more, I stopped caring and just danced on my own, relishing the selection of ace DJs. The gig started at 10pm and went all the way to 6am. I’ve got this thing where I don’t really like seeing the sunrise on a night out. I danced for hours, intermittently going upstairs to relax in the plounge (pillow lounge. It’s a thing) and chat with friends. By the time 5am rolled around, I decided to take the long hard journey home. Psyche, it was a five minute walk to my front door. What a goddamn great night.

And with the finals starting, it’s time for me to GTFO.

I’m perturbed there was never a distinct Beach Boys haircut called the Kokombover

Weird dreams last night. Must’ve been the Jack O’Blast.

So in my first dream I was a metaphorical fly on the wall while the Beach Boys were recording “Kokomo”. Thing is, I have no idea beyond Brian Wilson of who the Beach Boys consisted of. I know “Kokomo” was done with some new guy, and in my dream one of the other members was Seann William Scott A.K.A. Stifler from American Pie. The new guy seemed to be a nice dude, really excited about his song and to be working with the Beach Boys, but SWS wasn’t sold. They’d be recording and Stifler was all “this song is terrible. Kokomo isn’t even a real place. These lines have nothing to do with one another.” And I was thinking well, Stifler’s kinda right, but he doesn’t have to be such a dick about it.

So they recorded a bunch and Seann was obviously agitated. They laid down a bunch of tracks and new guy was like “oh guys, my mum’s here to pick me up. Anyone want a ride?” SWS was enraged and started aggressively walking towards new guy while new guy backed up towards the front door. Seann was all “OH, so you think you can just coast on the legacy of one of America’s most influential pop bands? What are people gonna think of this shit? Our first song in like 20 years and it’s this?” And as he walked, he started shrinking into this freaky doll thing. You know those ones with soft bodies and firm plastic heads? But he had these huge eyes like Christopher Lloyd at the end of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? And new guy kept backing up and tried slamming Doll Stifler’s creepy doll head into the ground to get away. It made this foreboding heavy thump and SWS kept advancing. Seann Doll got right up close till all I could see were those eyes, then I bolted awake.

And worse, I had “Kokomo” stuck in my head.

The cat was meowing and I kind of had to pee, but I was determined to get back to sleep and have my last hour or so of rest.

I must’ve managed, because I found myself in a familiar but all new location. Friends of mine who live together were moving out. They decided to have a massive party to bid the place adieu. Thing is, while they do all live together in real life, the place in the dream didn’t resemble their IRL flat whatsoever. This one was out in the country. It was a sprawling, three building property. The houses themselves were totally dilapidated. They didn’t all have walls, and there were large chunks of exposed brick jutting out from the open field surrounding them. Like they’d inhabited a former war ruin. It was such a big party that some of my friends from New Zealand were there. Food was all over, tons of pizza boxes, Halloween candy and a friend dumped a trough full of capsicums, onion and sausage into a barbecue. Yes, into. You know where the charcoal usually goes? It all went in there.

In the dream I really had to pee, so I went to the bathroom. Thing was, the bathroom was in this odd L-shaped room with three toilets on different walls. Not urinals, full on seated toilets all in the same room not separated by doors. So I just got in there with other dudes and started my process. We all chatted about how great the party was, and I complained how slow my stream was coming. One of the other dudes patted me on the back reassuringly, telling me that good things took time. After what seemed like half an hour, I finished peeing and rejoined the party.

There was a huge rugby game going on in the field, with people dodging around other players and the large concrete chunks. Other partygoers were sitting around in deck chairs drinking Coronas. Turns out it took so long for me to pee that the weird barbecue sausage mélange was finished. Also, it was goddamn delicious. I took a couple of shots off an ice luge and helped my friends pack things into boxes. By the time the sun went down, everything was packed, we were all exhausted and tucked ourselves into the copious bunk beds around the property.

Slightly odd but totally benign. Kind of like me, I guess.

That’s what we call soFistocation

I have a ton of costume prep to do, a decent amount of time in which to do it and equal amounts of trepidation.

Do you know who Fisto is? Well from the ages of 9-31, I don’t think I did either. I’m sure I was probably a fan as a kid. The Heroic Master of Hand to Hand Combat was a companion of He Man in his ongoing adventures to sell action figures. I thought He Man was tHe Man and as an adult, I get it. The toys were colourful and based around fighting monsters. I played with them all at my mum’s toy store, and only as a tax paying grown up did I realise quite how shit the characters/naming conventions were. There’s no point straining to imagine what Moss Man, Battle Lion, Spikor, Stinkor, Ninjor, Fang Man, Goat Man, King Hiss or Buzz Off did or looked like, because it’s right there in plain English. Consequently, Fisto has a big metal fist. If the show were for adults, I also have no doubt what Fisto’s favourite thing would be. It’s in the name.

If you’ve clicked the link above, you can see what the costume will try and resemble. “Try” being the operative word, because I’m a) not adept which makes this whole concept b) trying. Why am I going as a character I hardly know? Because a group of my friends are donning Masters of the Universe getups and that sounded like a happy funtime to me. As I said, I used to adore the show/toys and when am I not seeking the eternal high of nostalgia? The only issue, is my friends are way more sartorially gifted than I am. I never do costumes that involve work. I don’t have the skills, primarily because I’ve never had to hone them, so they’re still beyond my grasp. My friends, however, know how to sew/stitch/craft pieces that work. Here I am wondering how the fuck do I make a loin cloth?

Luckily my friends are generous people who give freely of their expertise. Unluckily for me, that doesn’t involve them just doing the work for me. Which means I’ve got shit to do. I thought things would be far easier than they have been. Look at this guy. I did and thought right. Hulk hand, loin cloth, belt, boots, shirt thing and shoulder guards. I own blue Doc Martens, which I figure are good enough for the boots. I went to Value Village to look for second hand clothes that’d meet my needs. I found a belt and tank top, but that was it. Somehow they don’t stock loin cloths or hulk hands. For shame. The Hulk Hands I tracked down off BUNZ, which is a Toronto based barter site. Cost me three cans of beer, but that was easy. They were brown for some weird reason. A bottle of cheap acrylic paint solved that. I spent an evening doing quick coats and drying them with a hairdryer. It looks fucking awesome.

The rest hasn’t been so simple. I bought some leggings from Dollarama to make the loin cloth and a friend helped me out with leftover fur she had lying around. I cut them down, then realised I wouldn’t be able to hot glue the fur onto a stretchy fabric so easily. My friend suggested stuffing a pillow or two in a plastic bag, then into the leggings to make them slightly smaller than my body. Then pinning the pillow to the waistband. Apparently making them a little too small would be better than too big. Even after gluing, there’d be some stretch to the leggings. If I went too big, they’d be loose and fall off. I still haven’t done it ’cause I’m afraid I’ll cut/glue it wrong and everything will be fucked forever. I’ll get there.

I thought the shirt would be easy. My answer was to pretty much just make stripes of duct tape and stick them to the tank top. Turns out a) duct tape doesn’t stick amazingly well to a shirt and b) it’s impossible to keep the shape and remove the garment. So now I’m painting the shirt. My friend once again helpfully chimed in. I could get fabric medium and mix it with the cheap paint I already had to have soft drying paint that wouldn’t crack. I could just draw the lines… which I still have to do. It’s not super simple to get straight lines, so I’m putting card underneath the tank top to keep it taught, then drawing my lines on. I’m just gonna draw on the metal shoulder brace thing, because I can’t be bothered making anything else. My fear is it’s gonna take an age for one side to dry and I’ll run out of days before Saturday night. In fact, the longer I spend writing, the less time I have. Maybe I should be doing that now instead of merely writing about it.

Ugh, do you think I can grow a beard in four days? It’d really help.