In retrospect the heart swelling could just be from the immense quantity of bacon I ate.

I am a shadow of a functioning human. After seeing a mostly unremarkable year off with a downright remarkable party, today has been spent stewing in my own fragile state. I partied hard, slept little and paid the price. In my eyes, an equivalent exchange. Enough about me being a mope though, how was the shindig?

Firstly, some scene setting. One of our friends decided she wanted to go all out and have a mega fancy house party for new years. She and her boyfriend planned everything and set out making it happen. They painted the basement and turned it into a big plounge area. They set up a dance floor with visualisations on the projector and lights everywhere. They’d asked for $20/$10 from all attendees based on what they could afford, in order to cover costs. They used the money to stock the place with all manner of necessities. There were all kinds of hors d’oeuvres: mini quiches, shrimp cocktail, charcuterie, cheeses, crackers and chips. Frozen snacks like samosas and a fuckton of pizzas. A host of mixes, juices and soft drinks. The bar was filled with a ton of champagne bottles and spirits. Most importantly, there was a chocolate fountain. Like I said, it was a fancy fucking soiree.

The party also had varying zones. The ground floor was the general party zone. It was all about fancy dress, dapper attire. At a certain point in the evening, many stripped down to lingerie, underwear or classy lounge attire. The basement plounge was a space for cuddling, clothing optional garb and, if people felt like it, consenting light sexual play. There were bedrooms upstairs that had been rented out in which guests were welcome to engage in more intimate interactions. The couple hosting had written a lengthy mandatory rules post covering the importance of consent and acceptable behaviour in different areas of the house. It was pretty rad entering a space with a certain understanding that people would be on the level.

It all went off without a hitch. The party was fucking stellar. I got to catch up with a ton of great friends and met a bunch more. I got to sync up LCD Soundsystem’s “Dance Yourself Clean” like I wanted so the beat kicked in as the clock struck midnight. I drank, well, obviously a bunch. I chowed down constantly and had a pretty happy tummy. Also with everyone all dolled up, there were wall to wall babes. We all dressed to kill and looked like it. After the formal wear came off, it was wonderful to feel so comfy in my smoking jacket and underwear. My girlfriend and I ended up crashing in the plounge sometime around 6am. An unbelievably great night.

Today was spent working my way out of purgatory by being a useless fucking lump. My head hurt, I felt nauseous and threw up until I had only bile left to give. It was biblical. Friends being friends, helped. One of my friends made me a Bloody Caesar for some hair of the dog remedy. A guy gave me a quick five minute reiki massage that helped a ton. People pitched in to make omelettes and bacon for everyone. I ate all day. We lay about the living room and watched The Jerk, Shrek and Brooklyn Nine Nine on the projector. In my state I took maybe 45 minutes to make frozen pizzas, after foolishly assuming the Fahrenheit based oven was in Celsius. 220° F isn’t enough to melt cheese in 15 minutes, apparently. So after a while, we ate pizza. I had another Caesar. I ate chips even though I didn’t really want them. We eventually ordered Thai. After a day of doing absolutely nothing, I feel mildly queasy, but my heart is swollen with love. If this is any indication of the year to come, it’s gonna be hard to beat.

Tomorrow I start keto. Even if this year rocks, this month will be an uphill climb.

Advertisements

Beats Jabber-walking any day.

Today is a good day. It may have started with me getting distracted by a gif of a Komodo dragon swallowing a monkey whole and going the wrong direction on the subway, but things will get even better than that impossible high. I get to drive today!

Moreover, I get to drive in the snow. The last time I did that I was in control of a fuckoff-sized RV rig. This time I get to be in a svelte Honda accord. It has snow tires and everything. I’ll get to discover the many menaces of winter car ownership (for a day). This will involve shovelling the carport to enable parking and leaving. I’ll have to brush off the snow before departing for our journey. The tank will have to be kept at over half-full to prevent it from freezing. I’ll do that towel on the windscreen trick. I’ll switch up following times from the 3-4 second rule to the 8-10 second rule. I’ll slow the fuck down and accelerate/brake gradually. I’ll watch my turns and try not to come to a complete stop if I can help it. I’ll try to gain momentum at the top of a hill rather than accelerate hard as I’m driving up it. In short, I’ll drive like I’m piloting the Stair Car.

Note: Watch for Hop Ons.

The other day a friend messaged asking if my girlfriend and I wanted to take a short day trip. Instantly and without thinking, I said yes. Here’s the thing, moving to Canada I resolved to travel as much as possible. Then I arrived in Toronto and had no money. Travelling a bunch when I could only just make rent seemed non-plausible. Eventually I got back to full time work, but I had to build my savings back up. Eventually I had enough cash to see the sights, but figured since I wasn’t stuck in the arse end of the world I’d do better to check out other countries. Canada kept getting left by the wayside.

You know what? I’ve been driving for years, but renting a car is expensive. I can’t afford to own a car in Toronto, so going on impromptu day trips feels outside the realm of possibility. So when my friend asked if we wanted to go on a day trip I thought fuck it and resolved to go whatever it took. Spontaneity and all that. I chatted with friends at a party about where we should go and a friend chimed in “oh, you can take my car.” Everything came together. It was such a generous offer that I couldn’t say no. Even better is that it’s an old reliable machine. I’d feel petrified to drive something new and flashy, like I was inside a vehicle made of eggshells. She’s adamant that, while she doesn’t expect us to trash her car, if anything happens it’s not the end of the world. Amazing, right?

No, I’m not planning on trashing the car.

It’s crazy how much opportunity having a car opens up. My head is swimming with ideas like could we do a Costco run? What about IKEA? Imagine loading groceries instead of carrying bags. The joy of riding or going for joyrides in general is heightened, but I’m likely just gonna use it for the drive tomorrow and that’s it.

O frabjous day! Car-llooh! Car-llay!

Sleighing it.

This place has descended into chaos and I love it. It’s a total mess, which couldn’t be more indicative of our frenetic and magical cohabitation. It feels like Christmas, but more so it feels like our Christmas. We have our weird little blue tree with its Star Lord topper. The central heating is causing our hand drawn pictures to periodically fall to the floor (blue tak and all that). Our sense of time has fallen away after a night out at a friend’s place. There’s no structure and bedlam is the word of the day. Bedlamham?

No festive ham, but we are having ribs. This recipe, to be exact. We had an 11am Skype date with my girlfriend’s mum, so waking up at 10am I got to work prepping the ribs. I lathered them in garlic, salt and pepper, then mixed the sauce. It couldn’t have been easier, just a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s bbq sauce and 180ml of coke. Put the ribs in the slow cooker, drenched them in the sauce and left them on low. They’re five hours in and smell divine. They’re gonna be unbelievable flanked by sweet potato fries and maybe some broccoli if we’re feeling sporty.

My girlfriend got me a nice little stay at home kit for Christmas. It had dark hot chocolate mix and home made cookies/marshmallows that one of our baking-ly gifted friends put together. We started the morning off with special hot chocolates, mixed with a liberal application of Baileys cherry chocolate. If this all sounds idyllic, keep in mind that it involved me accidentally tripping one of the fuses in the kitchen. The guy who lives downstairs (and thus has access to the fuse box) is away for some amount of time (hopefully just today) so a section of our place is without power. Oopsies. I had to plug the microwave/kettle into the hallway. Accordingly, making my breakfast meant crouching down on the floor in my giraffe onesie, taking my porridge out of the microwave to stir in peanut butter, then putting it back in. Looking around I saw the stack of pictures that’d fallen down, the kitchen table used as storage space, the microwave and kettle on the hallway floor, our weird little tree. I smelt the ribs cooking away. I don’t know that I’ve felt more at home in a while.

To truly go with the theme, we’re gonna have our own little home made Jewish Christmas. We’ve still got Kill Bill: Volume 2 in the chamber ready to fire off at will. In lieu of ordering Chinese food, we’re gonna cook up a stir fry and pig out (before pigging out on pig ribs later on). We have no reason to put on clothes for hours and only leisure on our schedule. It may be lawless chaos, but I have no complaints.

Wherever you’re at, whatever you’re up to. I hope you’re double-fisting merriment and cheer.

In a word? Billiant.

In possibly the greatest Christmas/Hanukkah gift I could’ve imagined, I recently discovered that my girlfriend had never seen Kill Bill. Look, nostalgia is a big driving force in my life. I feel like 30% of my mental energy is constantly devoted to wondering how pop culture has held up with time. I saw Kill Bill in my teen years. It was R18 but I went with my mum. Nobody asked any questions. It’s been almost another lifetime since my first viewing, so naturally the question of how time would treat it was burning deep in my synapses.

The statute of limitations should apply here. Just in case you’re like my girlfriend was several days back, there will be spoilers for Kill Bill Part 1.
.
.
.
.
.
I loved it. I fucking adored it. The film lived up to every expectation and new facets sprung forth. At 16 I couldn’t have understood the genre conventions and subversions as I do now. I plumb hadn’t seen enough film. At 30 it’s all too apparent. The postured dialogue laden with purpose. Totally anachronistic and intentionally overwrought. The glorious union of Kurosawa come John Wayne swagger. The honour and ceremony of samurai culture filtered through western accoutrement. Kill Bill wore its influences on its sleeve in the most affectionate way possible.

The pacing is fantastic. We sat down to eat dinner as we watched and a few minutes into the film is the household fight. It’s a brutal white-knuckle affair. So fast paced and dynamically shot that we sat there, mouths agape, food untouched. There’s an ebb and flow to the proceedings that makes it effortlessly enjoyable to watch. It’s harrowing to see her waking up in hospital, coming to terms with the child she’s lost then switching into action mode against the men about to abuse her body. There are jump cuts, tonal shifts and stories within stories. It’s immaculately composed and entirely gripping.

The choreography is unbelievable. Each fight scene has its own mood and cadence. From the more realistic confrontation with Copperhead, to the stylised whimsy of the battle with the Crazy 88. That battle in particular could’ve been so trite and tired. It never feels overlong. It dynamically shifts from the floor to the railings, trailing blood on the dancefloor. The cinematography is gorgeous. There’s the crane shot as Black Mamba goes to change in the bathroom, or the few times the camera finds its best vantage point behind the stairs, perfect for watching the ensuring carnage. The colours are sharp and bright, but in the blink of an eye it switches to a black and white palette. Then after a blink we’re seeing silhouettes on a fluorescent blue background. How the film manages to be so ambitious without feeling pretentious escapes me. It’s a damn fine film and a wild ride throughout.

The best part? We still have Part 2 to watch and I remember enjoying it a whole lot more. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Three cheers for everyone’s favourite Coppola.

Sometimes life is stranger than fiction. Like in that Will Ferrell movie. Or when you find yourself in a situation you’d merely dreamed of. Dreams, however, could not come close to the reality I was lucky enough to experience. It was all too brief, as only the best things are. Last night I went to (beat) a Nicolas Cage party.

How many films has Nic Cage been in? Many times more than enough. Accordingly there were beyond ample costume opportunities. While I’d initially conspired to go as Cowboy Pachinko Nic Cage, I left it way too late and didn’t want to have to track down a close-enough shirt and other costume accessories. At some point it gets expensive to put together costumes. The hope is that eventually you’ll have enough items in your closet/tickle trunk that you can assemble a costume from things that are lying around the house.

But I said “fuck it” anyway and went out to buy the necessary bits for a Con Air Nic Cage. I was surprised I didn’t already own a white singlet. It strangely took many hours to find one. The other necessary props were a small cardboard box and a soft toy bunny to put in said box. Then for extra marks I wrote a couple of letters from his daughter all written in coloured felt tip pens with a child’s scrawl. The first I took straight from the film. Things got weird immediately:

“My Daddy is coming home on July 14th. My Birthday is July 14th. I’m going to see my Daddy for the first time on July 14th.”

“I love my Daddy lots I think. I dunno. I’m sorta just a plot device.”

“Hey Daddy. Didn’t you think the use of Sweet Home Alabama in this film was a bit egregious? Or was that the point?”

“Hey Daddy. This film didn’t deserve the stacked cast it had. I mean, Cage, Malkovich, Cusack, Buschemi, fucken Chapelle, man?”

“Hey Daddy. Real Eyes. Realize. Real Lies.”

I was ready.

Could anyone really be ready for such a soirée? There was a clothes line in the kitchen, with a ton of hanging Nicolas Cage masks to choose from. A playlist of Nic Cage movies played all night long on the TV. There were tacos (not thematic), a plounge (also not thematic) and a car buffer people were using for quick low key massages (maybe thematic? Who knows? Cage is a sensual fellow). There were cheeses and nice fudges. Tons of mixers. A polaroid camera and endless enthusiasm. My friend’s place is in a converted factory and it’s made for a wonderful home overflowing with character. She has unbelievable amounts of awesome colourful art she’s both purchased and created. Soft toys, dioramas and colourful displays were everywhere. Colour changing mood lights in each room of the house. It was like being transported to a fantasy world. A monument to absurdity and whimsy, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect environment in which to erect a shrine for the OneTrueGod.

As for today, I’m coming out of my Cage and I’ve been doing just fine.

Adulthood: It’s less fun when you’re paying for it.

In a bout of chronic bad timing, I feel like I’m starting to come down with some form of flu variant. Pressure at the back of my throat, occasional throbbing right ear, vague dizziness. It’s fine, I have drugs. I’m not here to complain (for once). I more wanted to remark that whenever I start to feel unwell, my mind ticks back to thoughts of being at home. I recall my old blue bedroom with the cutesy carousel curtains. I’m reminded of comforts and that inimitable feeling of safety in being taken care of.

In the past four and a half years, it’s been rare for homesickness to rear its head. It’s still not the case this time either. That being said, it’s possible to cast your mind back and be appreciative of what you had without pangs of regret setting in. For me, a big part of what I enjoyed came from ritual. Little conventions that gave me structure, familiarity, security. Today, couched in mental convalescence, I recalled a two things I do miss from being home.

First up, grocery shopping with my mum. There was something both cathartic and fun about the experience. No matter what age, I loved getting to drive the cart. It was fun to check how each store’s trolleys handled (except those shit ones that for some cursed reason had a singular wheel that got stuck). One important detail to note is that money was always off the table. I wasn’t one of the main household providers, so I didn’t pay for a thing. It’s not like I got to demand everything I wanted, but I got to window shop and sometimes open said window to grasp my desires firsthand.

The aisles held an array of colours and shapes. Food being one of my favourite things (past, present and future tense), trying new varieties and flavours was a grand experiment. Mum would send me on missions to pick up certain items, so I got to zip around and accomplish tasks. Sometimes I’d get to request all new food to fold into the routine. Perhaps I’d get to search through produce for perfect looking fruit. Mum and I would play the guessing game at the register about the final total. Oh, and if it was a shopping night you could be damn sure that we’d pick up a rotisserie chicken, bread rolls and coleslaw for an easy dinner.

That conveniently segued into the next one. Family dinners. I had two older brothers (seven and nine years, respectively) and, for the most part, conversation would be blood-from-a-stone. How were our days? Fine. How was school? Fine. What did our parents expect? Aside from that, there was still conversation. We’d talk about movies or TV we’d seen. I’d hear about my brothers’ experiences at school (I can still remember having my mind blown by my brother talking about CD Rom technology). It forced us to spend time with each other, which was something I think we all secretly appreciated. Once again, there was ritual, structure and inherent comfort. We didn’t lack for our needs. We were fortunate to always have food on the table.

Our parents gave us responsibilities in stages. Tasks to be accomplished were setting the table, clearing the table, loading the dishwasher, and taking care of pots & pans/condiments. The three of us would take turns. There’d be arguments and fights, sure, but the work would get done. Mum was a good cook and we’d be encouraged at helping out with the meal for lenience in the chore department. Maybe if we made a salad, we wouldn’t have to be on pots & pans (the worst and most arduous job). As my brothers aged, they both took interest in cooking. One of my brothers eventually went on to become a chef. Being the little brother, if they thought cooking was cool, of course I wanted in too.

I guess the unifying factor is that both experiences taught me important life skills. In shopping I learned all about nutrition, fiscal responsibility and being critical of what I purchase. Evening dinners taught me meal prep, cleaning up after myself and the joy of a table full of people. Really, they were important stepping stones in how to adult. While on one hand they’re things I miss about being at home, they also helped form the blueprint of what I’d like my home life to be.

At precisely 3:06, I danced myself clean.

This is and isn’t a review for LCD Soundsystem at Air Canada Centre. If it is, it’s a sloppy one, lacking in objective perspective and proper cohesive structure. Primarily because there was nothing cohesive about my experience. It was weird and nostalgic and present and emotional. I was there in one sense and ten years back in another. TL;DR: I experienced liminal time.

Having never gone to the ACC for a gig before (I went to a Raptors game once) I didn’t quite know what to expect. As I said yesterday, I’ve shied away from stadium concerts for a while now. They’re so often this overblown experience where showboating is a matter of course. It’s less the artists’ fault and more in tune with societal expectations. If they’ve shelled out $100+ for a ticket, there’s the assumption that there’ll be a commensurate level of panache. I think. I dunno. I want to be close enough to the stage that I can see artists spit (Salive music?). Sure that’s doable at a gig with a few hundred others. Air Canada Centre fits over 19,000 people. I didn’t know what time I’d need to be there to have my desired spitting image.

Doors opened at 6pm. I was there at 5.50pm. I’m no stranger to being prompt and since this was the first gig I’d paid for in far too long, I resolved that I’d get my money’s worth. Whatever that odd concept of “value” means anyway. At worst I’d play on my phone and see the opener. Doors at 6pm would mean an opener at 7pm. I could wait an hour. I did. I wasn’t right up against the bar in front of the stage, but I was behind the guy who was. There was a rubber pad running along the floor at the front. It was flat, then sloped off. I stood firmly on the slope. My view of the stage was uninterrupted. I was stoked. I waited my hour, messed around on the internet and learned all about Cicada 3301 and weird hacker subcultures. It was creepy and fascinating. It was a good use of my time by any stretch of the imagination. At 7pm a DJ started playing to zero fanfare. She didn’t give a shit, she kept doing her thing and doing it well. I realised that in character for my withering physical detritus of a body, I was getting a little achy. I’d been staring down at my phone and my feet had been flexed on an angle for an hour. I shifted a bunch, but primarily ached more. Ageing is as ageing does.

8.30pm ticked by and the band finally took the stage. Any physical pain subsided due to pure ecstasy. I wasn’t drugged, but I may well have been. A smile crept across my face and refused to leave for the next two or so hours. By the end, I ached from grinning too. The stage looked like a cross between a disco and a submarine. Weird old electrical boards flanked the back, with wires patched in all over the show. A disco ball hung from the ceiling and lights were everywhere. Three drum kits, numerous keyboards and synths plus massive speakers. An impressive haul for any band.

James Murphy was like a large child starved for attention. The few times he wasn’t singing (and half the time he was), he’d get distracted and go play. Whether it was disassembling other people’s drum kits, hitting things or prodding himself with his own sticks or using the mic cord as a whip, he was rarely bored. Sometimes he mounted the speakers and turned his back on the crowd, like some kind of crazed conductor. He was glib and sarcastic, but there was no denying that the band were having a great time.

They weren’t the only ones. Everyone in my radius (who were, I guess, people that bothered showing up two hours early) were losing their minds. A constant series of gyrations, jumping, twisting and, I dunno, flicking, spinning and anything else Bop It does. We were all singing along and celebrating anything they threw our way. The setlist was a fantastic spread of their career, with a couple of great early pulls and a hugely crowd friendly assortment all around. I couldn’t have been more in my element.

Here’s the interesting thing about being right up the front at the ACC. You have no idea of scale. It was impossible to see much of the stands, or far behind me. My scope was no different than being at The Horseshoe Tavern. Because of this limited vantage, it changed my perspective entirely. These songs were broadly popular, sure, but they’d always been personal to me. LCD Soundsystem was the music of my 20s. “All My Friends” is nostalgic for too many reasons to count. From where I was standing, it was like I was seeing a band play with complete abandon in their garage. Despite the mammoth gig, it felt intensely intimate and special. At more than one occasion I teared up at how overwhelming it all was. In those moments I was there, but I was also travelling in an RV late at night after getting lost for ten hours. I was partying in the basement of my friend’s house with rainbow lights everywhere. I was running in the streets where I grew up. I was on a plane heading to Canada for my brother’s wedding. I was dancing with friends at a packed out warehouse party. I was living and re-living so many simultaneous moments that it didn’t matter where I was, I was happy.

If that ain’t value, I don’t know what is.