Did I just have a date within a date with that corn dog?

I went on a date the other night. It was lovely.

It’d been a while, not sure why. I haven’t been doing much to seek out intimate encounters outside my anchor partner. Or maybe it’s just that everyone I’d been growing close to had been poly, are interested, but are also in relationships that are currently closed. Which has been fine. Emotional intimacy has always been far more important to me than physical. In those instances, it’s just been nice to have new friends. This person, however, is poly. So we got to have an actual date. It’s something that’s been in the works for ages. We’ve hung out at parties, but never one on one. She has a weird schedule. I now have a weird schedule, and for the first time ever, our free time coincided. I asked if she wanted to grab a food, or a drink, or overthrow the bourgeoisie, or do amateur parkour, or get stoned and watch a dumb movie, or go to Tilt. She said Tilt, the local arcade bar, sounded great.

I vowed to do wreck my face doing amateur parkour on my own damn time.

I think we were both there for about half an hour before I noticed her. Not because she wasn’t worth noticing, but because she was wearing all black and playing a game in the corner. Somehow, in a room full of garish fluorescent lights, she’d discovered camouflage. She played D&D with the barman, so I got to meet him too, and he was really friendly. Their DM used to DM our games of Call of Cthulhu, and was by far the best DM I’ve had for any game ever. We all gushed about how great he was. Then she and I grabbed beer and a seat. We chatted. We chatted for a long time, actually. Seeing as we’d never hung out one on one before, it was the perfect time to get to know each other better. I mean, it’s kind of the point of a date.

More importantly, the fact that we were sitting meant I had the perfect excuse [you didn’t need an excuse -Ed] to order a corn dog. As an aside, I love corn dogs. They’re a favoured treat of mine. I’m not wild about fried food, but back home when we got fish and chips, you ordered a “hot dog” and got given what North Americans call a corn dog: A battered hot dog on a stick. It’s one of my exceptions to my ambivalence about fried food, likely because of nostalgia. I’d never tried Tilt’s corn dogs, but I can now confirm they’re fucking fantastic. The batter is made in house. It’s pretty thin, but with some nice crispy flourishes. Also, they’re huge. I’m used to corn dogs on popsicle sticks. These ones come on skewers. You know the type that people use for BBQ kebabs? Picture a hot dog on that, except the only available bit of stick to hold is 1-2cm long. That’s a lot of dog. It was meaty and sumptuous, and a truly fantastic snack with beer. Have I now written a longer love letter to this corn dog than I have to this date? Maybe, but that corn dog and I shared something that no date and I ever will. R.I.P.

Anyway, it was fun to chat. She’s funny, and we’ve got a lot of geeky interests in common. A theme of adulthood that I’ve noticed, is I’m not actually aware of what most of my friends do to pay rent. I hang out with them because I like their company, but their jobs have never defined who they are to me. So I got to hear what she does for work and what she likes about those things. I got to learn how growing up was for her, familial connections and perspectives. She had been to the nigh legendary Florida theme park: Gatorland. I’d heard tales. She told me more.

After a while, I chimed in that while I was having an excellent time hanging out, I also wanted to play some vidya games. We played an isometric D&D style crawler called Gate of Doom. It was super button mashy, but nostalgic and silly. The magic system was quite unusual. All four characters had the same spellbook and system, but you had to wait until your magic bar filled up. The spellbook would flick periodically between spells, and whatever was active was the one you had access to. I kept turning into a walking flower, which was kinda neat. I had some kind of stun pollen with a radius effect. We beat the game, and my hand damn near cramped up. We played some Puzzle Bobble, and evened up at 5 wins. We chatted some more, and it was last call.

I think one of the more important things I learned from the date, is that I’ve finally reached a certain level of confidence. It always used to be that I was too afraid to make a move, and that nothing would happen until my date was like “dude, are you actually interested? Do you want to have sex or not?” Then I’d be all “oh, of course. That’d be great”. It largely came from feelings of inadequacy and not knowing how to navigate those spaces with utmost consent. These days, a better knowledge of consent has informed massive change. I’ve realised that I can just ask, and in ways that leave things very open for the other person to say no. A lot of the time these things happen organically, and I think societally people have assumed that organic was the only option, anything else was clunky and took you out of the moment. I haven’t found that. I’m getting better at reading signs, but still like to clarify. There was a point where we were sitting close to each other. I think her hand was resting on my arm, mine resting on her leg. I realised and said “I just want to check, do you like this kind of touch”. She said yes, definitely. Simple and clean. I knew she was interested, she had every opportunity to be like hmm, maybe not at the moment or actually, maybe no and that would’ve been fine. Instead, I actively knew we were on a wavelength, that she was interested and the waters weren’t muddied. Consent is the fucking best, and anyone who thinks it ruins the moment maybe hasn’t learned how to ask in a non-intrusive manner.

Since things were winding down at the bar, we were both still awake and having a good time, I asked if she wanted to keep hanging out. She invited me over, and we spent a bunch more time together at her place. I left some time after 6.30am, and since she lives with one of my friends, I got to give my friend a good morning hug when she got up to go to work. Since I live maybe 5 minutes walk from her, I got to go right home and to bed.

Is it time to bring back I Have My Dates?

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A wheely good time

To everyone who said I’d love having a bike, fine. You were right.

It’s not like I didn’t know I’d get into it, but it took some time to get there. Thing is, getting a bike is a process. It sounds simple on the surface: Give money to a retailer, receive bicycle. In reality, there are far more steps. What kind of bike do you want? Something racey and road-ish? A hybrid? A commuter cycle? What size are you? What frame fits your body? Do you need gears? If so, how many? How heavy do you want your bike to be? Something that’s easy to lift? Or one that sits more firmly on the road? These are all questions to think of before you even get the bike. Oh, and a helmet is super important too. Gotta protect your bike purchasing brain, otherwise how will you decide what you need?

Once you have one, there’s nigh endless customisation to think of. What extra gear will help you? What kind of handlebars are comfortable? Do you need some form of basket to ferry stuff around? Keep in mind that everything you get adds to your weight. Are you ever planning to cycle at night? Because that’s something to consider. Better get a headlight and rear light. Maybe some reflective gear so you don’t get sideswiped out of nowhere. You don’t want to be another statistic, right?

Are you looking to take your bike out in public? Because theft is sadly a thing. You need a lock. What kind of lock? There are U locks and chain locks and cable locks and Irish lochs. Teensy joke. But a lock is no joke, seriously. People will steal anything that’s not fixed, apparently. Friends have told me to remove anything that could be stolen, even my lights. Theft is supposedly rife in Toronto, so I was advised to get a U lock and loop it through both my frame and back wheel simultaneously. Also to get a cable lock for the front wheel. I finally ordered a substantial, fuck-off-sized New York Kryptonite lock, which has enabled me to actually take my bike out with me. Before that, I was hesitant to ride it anywhere I couldn’t safely store it. I spent $500+ on this bike. It would’ve broken my heart to lose it so quickly.

With that out of the way, I love it. I’m biking to and from work when weather permits. We have bike storage in our work basement, so it’s safe there. It’s wild doing an uphill ride home after midnight, but it’s kind of exhilarating. I may need new quad-forward jeans soon. Zipping around is making me feel like a kid again. I’m doing dumb little jumps over curbs, weaving between tight turns, speeding to make lights. I even do that silly low centre of gravity speedy bike squat thing when I’m going downhill. I’m really into gaining momentum, then letting my weight carry me. I get to choose my path through the city, doing creative problem solving on the fly to arrive at my destination faster. It’s neat.

Of course, it turns out drivers are a big obstacle. I’ve been fine so far, but there’s something about zooming past parked cars that makes me anxious. It’s only a matter of time until I get doored hard. I’ve been fully utilising my bell to keep cars abreast of my location. It’s a hella cute way to be passive aggressive. It’s kinda funny that, getting my bike so late in the season, I only have a few months before it’s over and I’m back to public transit.

Until then though, I’m gonna have my fun.

Keep eating gravy and you’ll never work a day in your life?

I have a secret that I don’t want you to share. Please, promise me, internet denizen.

I submitted my first invoice, and it actually doesn’t make sense for me to get paid this much for a something I actively enjoy doing. That’s my secret, don’t tell my bosses. Thing is, my job is cool. If you’re out of the loop, I started working in Described Video. We describe onscreen actions to make television more accessible for low or no vision audiences. I’m sure there’ll come a time where it gets stressful. We’re on the verge of Fall Launch, where the year’s hottest TV shows debut or return. It’s a Big Deal. I’m sure stuff is gonna come down the pipeline with urgency, and we’ll have to focus on quick turnaround. To be honest, I think that’s happening this week. So this weekend I get to focus on honing my skills, getting quicker. Already I’ve noticed how useful it is to read the waveform, to gauge where pauses in dialogue will most likely be. Certain shows have certain kinds of rhythm, and this job is really showing it.

I did an episode of Pawn Stars, and there’s a formula. It’ll return from break, I’ll describe the logo, there’ll be a few quick establishing shots of Las Vegas for me to describe, then it’s into the store. Time lapse shots of customers walking through the store, with a focus on a customer/staff interaction on a certain piece. I’ll decribe that. Then a customer will approach the counter and a scene will begin. I’ll mention what the customer is holding before the dialogue gets too heavy for me to describe, but eventually there’ll be a breakdown of the item. I’ll introduce the customer by name, as the show describes the item. They’ll talk with the staff and provide historical background on the item. All dialogue, no chance for me to describe. There’ll be a break in dialogue, and I’ll get to describe the nature of the interaction. The staff member will call for an expert. I get to describe their entrance. They’ll give background on the item, if I’m lucky there’ll be a chance to describe, then the expert will leave. The staff member will haggle with the customer. I’ll most likely be able to describe their reactions, then the deal will be struck. There’ll be a breakdown with the customer’s reaction, and I’ll describe their body language. Lather, rinse, repeat eight or so times, and you’ve got an episode.

It’s early days, I’ve still got a lot to learn, and I’m sure I’ll only get better at understanding how best to provide for the audience. I hope I get a greater grip on how to work between genres, to improve the experience. Here’s the thing though, for the first time in ages I actively feel like I’m providing a service. I’m helping people get access to media that would otherwise be out of their grasp. Do you know the coolest thing? Sometimes we do cartoons. As a kid I was obsessed with cartoons. I didn’t watch live action shows until maybe age 13 or 14. Cartoons were my everything. Imagine how amazing it feels then, to know that I’m helping kids who would otherwise lose out on the whimsy and wonder animation provides? My work directly aids little kids in watching cartoons. That’s really fucking cool.

Like anything accessibility based, it feels important. Everyone should have a seat at the table, and too many people are held back from activities most of us take for granted. Finally being in a position I enjoy, I’m trying to soak up and retain gratitude. If I spent the past three or four years toiling, I’m hoping I can stay gracious for at least as long. I’m lucky, and I think that’s something to treat with respect. The fact that I get paid to do it is awesome. The fact that I almost feel overpaid to do it is just gravy.

Yet again though, please keep it between us. I quite like gravy.

If I’m not getting my life back, y’all are coming down with me

Oh dear, I’ve been sucked back into Shandalar.

Let me explain. Shandalar is a Magic the Gathering video game from 1997. MtG has had many other video game properties since 1997. Battlegrounds was weird, real time stuff. Didn’t work. Duels of the Planeswalkers (later known as Magic: Duels) was okay, just straight games with a story mode and deck builder. Sometimes neat little bonuses. Then that got discontinued. Magic Arena has been amazing. It’s like a streamlined version of Magic Online. It’s colourful with cool effects. The UI is mostly pretty well done. It’s free to play with in game currency. They’re hunting for their white whales, and the rest of us plebs provide a player base for them to battle. It’s a working eco-system and a pretty huge deal for the future of Magic. I’ve spent innumerable hours in the past year on this game. I love it to bits. It’s not Shandalar.

Shandalar is my forever mistress. It’s hard to escape, because it’s so fucking fun. For people who haven’t played before, I figure I might give some tips. First of all, if you want to play on Windows 10, here’s a really good tutorial from streamer Gaby Spartz. It’s an old game, there’s some finagling required. Okay, the gist of Shandalar is that it’s a MtG based RPG. You wander around a world map battling cronies of evil wizards, building your deck up over time. Eventually you battle the wizards and save the land. Sometimes you’ll find dungeons, which have old cards very few of us get to play in real life. Black Lotus, Ancestral Recall, etc. The game also features an ante system, which means you can lose your precious cards, or steal cards from opponents. The ante system, while heartbreaking in real life (and thus has been expunged from paper magic) actually makes the game really fucking exciting. You’ve got skin in the game, and you’ll feel super shitty losing a Mox Sapphire to some dork on a horse.

With that out of the way, here are some tips for the game:

  • Money. Money is a thing in this game. It helps you buy cards in towns, or from vendors. You can use it to buy food, which helps you keep a good speed walking around the map. Money is important.
  • Towns have different economies based on their size. It’s a good principle to buy cards you want from smaller towns. Or if something’s a good card in a small town, you might be able to flip it for more money at a larger town. Buy your food from small towns if you can.
  • Liquidate everything you’re not gonna use, and try to sell your more expensive cards at big cities. You’ll get a lot more for them.
  • Once you can consistently beat enemies, they’re a great source of revenue. Sometimes you’ll randomly get really powerful cards from them too.
  • Travel by roads. It’s faster and you can evade enemies.
  • The honest to god best thing about having money in this game is being able to pay off enemies instead of battling them when you’re trying to get around the world map. When you start out, your deck will be shite. A multi-coloured monstrosity. You can streamline it eventually. Before you do, however, your win loss rate will be pretty rough. If the choice comes between risking losing a good card to ante or paying 40 gold, the gold is well worth it. I mean, you’re in the game to play Magic and have fun, so do that too. Just don’t lose your key cards to errant druids.
  • The upside of paying people off is that it frees you up to do quests for towns. This will help you power up faster.
  • Quests: Take quests that give you mana links. Your life starts at eight or ten. Each mana link you get raises your life total permanently by one. Once you have 15-20 life, the game gets more reasonable and you’ll find yourself actually winning games.
  • Quests: At the start, do the dorky quests that just require you to take messages around in exchange for single amulets or mana links. When your deck gets good enough, you can start doing battle quests where you’ll get two or three amulets for defeating powerful enemies. It’s great. You can use these to buy new cards.
  • Amulet rates: Vendors sometimes sell cards by type and amulet colour. Rares cost three (very occasionally, four) amulets, uncommons cost two and commons are one. It’s a good idea to have multiples of three amulets whenever you open dialogue with a vendor. Once you choose to engage with a vendor, you won’t be able to engage with that same vendor again.
  • Contract from Below is in this game. It is fucking insane. Take a chance to play with it, because you’ll never, ever get a chance to play it in real life. The extra ante is irrelevant. If you’re drawing 7 cards for B, you’ll usually be winning that game.
  • There are different random locations that appear on the world map. Little mountain crags, sunken ships, graveyards, alabaster columns or little forest hovels. They’re random events, and usually have a more positive outcome than negative. Sometimes you’ll wander into a thieves den and they’ll steal half your amulets or gold. Mostly though, you’ll find cards, merchants who’ll sell cards for gold or amulets, or dungeon clues. Sometimes you’ll find a powerful monster with good spells up for grabs.
  • When you have a random encounter with a powerful monster, you usually don’t put cards up for ante. It’s risk free. You might as well take the battle and sell the cards, because otherwise the monster will just disappear for good.
  • Dungeons. Get dungeon clues so you know what you’re encountering. Life losses/gains are carried over between matches. There are dice that will give you a bonus of either extra life or a card to start with. You can accumulate life bonuses, but once you have something to start with, getting a new dice replaces that entirely, even if it’s another life bonus.
  • Dungeons, cont: The best practice in a dungeon is to entirely avoid battles if you can. Scope out every available hallway without taking dice if you’re able to. Leave dice scattered around, and once you have no choice but to battle someone (to get a treasure (which in this instance is always an amazing rare card)), collect dice until you have something good to start with. It’ll make the battle a lot easier.
  • You can run as few as 40 cards. Once you’re below 40, the game will start randomly adding in lands to your deck. Try to keep at 40-43 (in case you lose a battle out in the world and want to stay above 40 cards). You can run up to three of each card until later.
  • Worldmagics: There are a bunch of worldmagics. They’re not all created equal. The ones to get are:
  • The one that lets you walk through swamps faster.
  • The one that lets you walk through mountains faster.
  • The one that stops you consuming food when you’re walking through a forest.
  • The one that makes cities offer more cards for sale.
  • The one that lets you run up to four copies of each card in your deck.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY: The one that makes the evil wizards require five conquered cities instead of three. It’ll give you so much more time

Speaking of time, that’s all I have right now. If you’re into Magic I implore you to check this game out. It’s sincerely amazing, and despite (or even because of) the graphics, it’s a riot. It’s very exciting, gripping, and I don’t think Wizards of the Coast will ever make another game like it. It’s not a lucrative enough system.

Happy casting, friends.

Well it ain’t sham-dalar

I’m swimming in spare time, but I did also drink a ton of coffee, so I’m very distractible (for a change). I want to get this done, so it’s a regular ol’ stream of consciousness deal.

Yesterday was great, today’s been great. I guess it’s hard to have a shitty time when you have regular four day weekends, but I haven’t gotten bored yet. Turns out there are other people with non-standard schedules. A bunch of them are my friends, too. It’s neat. I met a writer friend for brunch. We hadn’t caught up in ages, and tend to do a lot of JFL42 stuff together. She’s always a blast to hang with, and it was worthwhile comparing JFL42 must sees, etc. More importantly (because let’s be real), the food was awesome. As soon as I mentioned brunch she was like LEON WE’RE GOING TO DONNA’S FOR ROAST BEEF SANDWICHES. I didn’t argue. It worked out. The sandwich was incredible. The meat was succulent, and a lovely jalapeño spice pervaded each bite. There were crispy onions and soft, thinly sliced wedges of parsnip. It looked like cheese, but the texture was awesome. We had a pea salad on the side, which also featured solid quotients of both crunch and spice.

Then it turned out I was around the corner from another friend who I was gonna have a late lunch with. I biked a literal two minutes, and hung out at hers. We put on sunscreen, then headed out to walk the streets. Our goal was to hang in a park, and we did errands while we walked. She’s trying to learn Latin, so she picked up a copy of Winnie Ille Pu she’d booked from the library. I stopped by CAFE (a local pot shop) who’s been forced into weird sidewalk sales stuff by archaic provincial laws. I put an order in for a gram of indica (it’s been great for powering down and getting rest after late night work shifts) that I’d be able to pick up half an hour later, then we kept walking. I got some cash out, my friend bought a spinach pastry, she got a “Fat Mac” slice from Apiecalypse Now, and we lazed in Christie Pitts park. It was fucking great.

I have the rest of the day off, with zero commitments. I’m realistically gonna get pulled back into the world of Shandalar, a 1997 Magic the Gathering game that to this day is still the best MtG video game ever created. One of my favourite streamers Gaby Spartz plays it periodically, and it whets my appetite. The system is so old and clunky, and it features rules that’ve been long since updated in the card game. I’ve played the game so much that it’s a total nostalgia blast. It’s a fun RPG where you wandering the land trying to take down evil wizards and their cronies by battling them in a card game. There are elusive mythical cards you can find out of nowhere, and old ante rules means you can lose your top cards suddenly. It’s exciting, and a weirdly compelling game to view on Twitch.

Oh shit, she’s playing right now. I think I know what I’m doing this evening. See ya.

Tears of joy were shed

Wow, I feel different already.

It’s my second day off. I have four. FOUR. I’ve just started my new job and it’s lifted a huge burden. I’ve known for a while that things were mostly going great outside of my job. But that job. That job… I’ve finished that job for good, and the changes were instant. My stresses have dropped away, I’m actively interested in learning more about what I do, how to improve, and I’m keen to succeed. I’m, oddly enough, enjoying the work I’m doing. It’s a seriously interesting and compelling job, one where you get to see just how much you’ve done in a day. It’s very nice to have so much time to just do things that needed to be done. I re-opened my To Do app for the first time in years. I made a shopping list. I made another list of things that I need vs things that I want. I’m trying to organise, prioritise and start to take control of my life, now that my time isn’t broadly allotted.

Let’s take today for instance. Totally mundane, but full.

I got up about 10.30am, made some breakfast and put coffee on. I put dirty clothes in the washing. An aside: I currently don’t have a lock for my bike. I’ve been borrowing my girlfriend’s when she doesn’t need it. Sub optimal. Plus I just got a milk crate for the back from a friend last night. I want to use this thing to do errands. With a fresh cup of coffee, I went back to the bike locks I was considering, checked the reviews once more, then pulled the plug on a solid new Kryptonite New York lock. It cost a stupid amount new, but I knew if I didn’t get something soon I’d deliberate for far too long. Every day I don’t bike to work costs me $6. How many $6 days would I waste trying to find exactly what I wanted, but second hand? I bought a couple of supplies at the same time. They’ll be here in a few days. Then I called the bank to set up a new high interest savings account. Now that I’m an independent contractor, someone advised me to put away 1/3 of my earnings into a high interest savings account so I could pay tax at the end of the year, plus have a surplus. Chatting with a particularly friendly/patient CSR, I got it done. Success. That done, I tossed the washing in the dryer.

Second coffee in hand, I went out to inspect the shed. It’s been filled with junk for years, leftovers from long since departed upstairs/downstairs neighbours. Supplies my landlord left in there, then forgot about. Since I bought Grimsby, my bike, it’s been tough getting him in and out. My girlfriend needed more regular access to her bike, so I’d just been lifting Grimsby over it. Once again, sub optimal. When I dropped off Grimsby last night, I took a look and wondered if I could make space. So today, in a pair of shorts, wearing jandles. I did.

First I took out all the cans/bottles that people had left in there for years. We’d never had a car, and kept forgetting to take them into a beer store to get cashback/recycle. There were tons. I put them all into our granny cart and set it aside. Next came the big items. Our bikes, the portable BBQ, long handled tools, the paint cans and loose wood our landlord had left. Then I surveilled the interior. Cardboard everywhere. Big boxes, and an entire floor of sodden, muddy, rodent chewed cardboard. I grabbed the big boxes and took them out to the recycling. I looked closer and found a pair of rusty old hedge clippers. I tried to pull them, but they were stuck under a mat of cardboard stuck fast. I wrenched them out, then got an idea.

I pushed the clippers blade first under the cardboard. A layer was pulled up. I did this again and again, loosening all the cardboard that’d stuck to the floor. I grabbed some latex gloves and put as much as I could into the recycling bin. I fetched our old, crappy snow shovel (don’t worry, we have a new, better one we actually use) and swept all those little scraps into rubbish bags. I pulled all the mud, scraps of cardboard, and literal animal excrement, and tossed it all into rubbish bags. With that done, I swept the entire floor with a broom. This all went into the rubbish bags. Swept, it actually looked nice. Aside from the mud stained corner. I moved my landlord’s shit into the back corner. The BBQ went beside it vertically. A small side table went by them, with someone’s chilly bin on top. I put all the tools into the back corner, easily accessible but out of the way. There was so much room. Holy shit. We could fit all three bikes in, and they didn’t even need to touch. Unreal.

Then I grabbed a bite to eat, carted the recycling off to the Beer Store, went back to Loblaws to exchange a cereal flavour for another (I bought the wrong one by accident yesterday), got toilet paper, brought it home, re-electrical taped the sticky handles on my bike (replacing those next week), biked off to the supermarket, shopped, biked back and now I’m here.

It’s weird how productive you can be when you have nothing to do.

Maybe it wasn’t me, and was the job after all

I, uh. I think I like my job.

If this sounds outlandish to you, don’t worry, I’m there with you. It’s been so long since I legitimately took pride in my work that it’s boggling my mind. Thing is, I enjoy what I do. This Described Video thing not only provides a valuable service for those who need it, but I flat out enjoy the process. It pulls on so many elements simultaneously. I need to script my descriptions in real time, figuring out how to best relay the non-verbal action happening onscreen. It’s challenging vocally too. I’m essentially voicing for hours on end. I also get to flex weird little Pro Tools tricks when needed, adjusting odd vocal ticks or bringing things up in the mix. Each show is different, each genre is different. Some comedies rely heavily on visual gags. Cartoons necessitate creative description, so as not to lose the joke for those with decreased sight. Some are so stuffed with dialogue that it’s tough to get a word in edgewise. Others have abundant time to really let me chew the mise en scene-ry. Everything I do is without a script, and holy hell it’s a challenge. I love it though, I really do.

Live DV though? Egads it’s difficult difficult lemon difficult. I’m only a few days in, but I’ve done certain shows that barely have pauses longer than a second or two. It’s nigh impossible to squeeze in there without voicing over dialogue. There are certain best practices to follow, some of which really hamper our ability to describe. For instance, we’re not supposed to voice over any English language lyrics. But if there’s an out of context music video clip playing, what’s more important? That the audience hear the lyrics, or know what’s happening onscreen? DV is still a relatively young process. Maybe we’ll develop these best practices further as it expands. Who knows? Live stuff is simultaneously stressful and exciting. It requires knowing when to jump in, and when to stand back. We’ve got no idea how long pauses are likely to be, so we have to quickly get in, then vamp if we have the luxury of extra time. One of the most important aspects is ‘finishing the thought’, and not curtailing yourself because a voice has kicked in. How distracting would that be for a viewer, half a description? Finish the thought and duck out, that’s the game.

Like any any job, I’m new and slow. I still haven’t figured out where to find efficiencies, what kind of stuff is imperative, and what I can leave behind. At the moment, it’s taking me an age to do anything. Mostly because I’m voicing everything I can. In some of these shows, as soon as I have a second or longer, I’m trying to cram in descriptions. I think it’s a bit much. Honestly, I think I’ve been doing a great job at theatre of the mind stuff, but I could stand to describe a little less. There’s a trade-off in efficiency, and I’m not sure I should be spending four hours on one 24 minute episode of Invader Zim. Egads though, that show has a plethora of visual gags.

Strangely, I’ve been quite enjoying working the evening shift. When there’s nobody around, the same building I’ve spent 40 hours a week in for the past few years takes on new charms. It straight up looks pretty at night, the atrium all lit up. I can use all the facilities without waiting. That was meant to imply the water filter, which usually has a line, but it for sure encompasses the bathrooms too. I’ve never had to wait for a stall. I can go to the loo with impunity. I can even sing along to the radio with no fear of judgement. There’s nobody around to hear me. I walk the halls doing vocal exercises to keep my voice fresh. Best of all, I can get my work done at my pace, without people rushing in with requests. It’s a kind of neat I couldn’t conceptualise, and just one more cool aspect of this new gig. It might be kind of weird biking home uphill at 1am, but it’s far from bad.

It’s better than bad, it’s good!