Lion tamer is right out

Jobs that I would want:

  • Doing evil laughs on command.
  • Patting Highland cattle for hours on end.
  • Trying out adult sized playgrounds and obstacle courses to assess funability.
  • Radio call in show of most any variety.
  • Dating show reality TV contestant.
  • Meal taster for an aristocrat.
  • Years ago at a party, some dude told me that Katy Perry had a professional nipple tweaker for her music videos. I want to do that. It doesn’t have to be Katy Perry. I could be most anyone’s professional nipple tweaker, I just want to be able to tell people that I hold the position of professional nipple tweaker.
  • One of the knights at Medieval Times, if the pay was good.
  • Professional shit stirrer.
  • A mascot in Japan.
  • A paid wedding guest.
  • Friend to monkeys.
  • A tour guide to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
  • Pokémon consultant.
  • Hat model.
  • Taste tester for cheese.
  • Smooshing dough in my hands. No baking, just the smooshing part.
  • Lying on beds to assess comfort.
  • Spokesperson for Paddington.
  • Pimple Popper.
  • Ninja Turtle.
  • One of those old timey strongmen complete with moustache and black wrestling singlet.
  • Panel host.
  • Quality Tester at a weed edibles factory.
  • Snow sculptor.
  • Eccentric columnist.
  • Raccoon (I think I’d have a flair for it).
  • Weather presenter.
  • Pie contest judge.
  • Slow clap starter.

But I do like my job too.

Talkin’ ’bout my Gem-eration

I just came back from brunch with a buddy.

Do I talk about The Gem around here enough? I mention it frequently, but should I do it more often? Goddamn I love this place. Solid, affordable menu items and an ever evolving specials board. Great music on the turntable. A gentle, meandering atmosphere. Coffee on hand at all times. It’s a Sunday morning oasis, and an ever-treasured part of my weekly ritual. The place isn’t perfect, and that’s what makes it ideal. Par example, today I ordered the hot chicken sandwich from the specials board. A piece of toast, draped with a generous portion of chicken strips (non-breaded) covered in gravy. Home fries were topped with obviously pre-frozen veggies (corn, green beans, peas), flanked by a side salad and dressing. Absolutely bizarre, but tasty and filling. My mate and I ordered Caesars and had a good ol’ gab. Wonderful way to spend Sunday afternoon.

I had this thought the other day, about how neat it’d be to fill the place. Have the tables all packed out with friends, give the bar a solid day of money-making. We could all hang out together, grab some drinks and run the kitchen through its paces. With a take-over of the establishment, we wouldn’t be so worried about wait times. We could have a rad Sunday afternoon party, with everyone able to get in some fun without ruining Monday morning. We could all be home by 7pm or so, ready for an early night. Doesn’t that sound like a fucking riot?

My friend has been going through a period of instability that feels all too resonant. It seems like many of my close friends are undergoing a metamorphosis, or recalibration of sorts. So many of us have been dissatisfied with where we’re ended up. Maybe disillusioned about who we thought we’d be by our early to mid-30s. Commonly, we’ve been at crossroads, having evolved or matured in our values. Passions and interests changed to reflect how the world has shaped us. Friends are quitting their jobs, losing security and stability they once had. They’ve been branching out in work and hobbies, making big and different life decisions. Coming to terms with where they are and its proximity to where they’d like to be.

It’s hard living in a 24 hour news cycle, where it feels like pressure surrounds us. Where the world appears to be coming apart at its edges, and we’re deciding what matters to us. What callings speak to us, and how to realign our efforts with societal changes we want to see. How to support ourselves and those close to us when the pendulum appears to be swinging away from the vulnerable. Where to place our intentions and care, and how we can get out what we’re putting in to life. I don’t know that a 30s sea change is a modern convention, but it does seem to be happening a ton with my peers lately.

And we’ve got The Gem if we want to talk about it.

Brrrrrrd brained

Did you know how easy it is to cook a frozen chicken in the instant pot?

Apparently you unwrap the chicken, rub on some oil/spices, put water in the instant pot and put the chicken on a trivet. Turn it on for an amount of time based on weight (but pretty much all under an hour) and you have a freshly cooked rotisserie style chicken! It’s crazy how easy that is. Just think how much your classic pre-cooked rotisserie chicken costs. Probably $10-$12, right? I was so tempted after learning this that I looked out for a frozen chicken at the supermarket. I even found one! They only had organic, so the frozen chickens started at $18. I bought a pre-cooked one instead. There we go, another dead dream.

Speaking of dreams though, I tell you. Last night I went to my dream event. Big dance party with a bunch of my friends. The theme was “cosy”, kind of slumber party-esque. What this boiled down to is that I got to go to a dance party in winter wearing shorts and a tank top. It was the fucking best. Just think of all that mobility and airflow. A+ already. So many folks dressed up in onesies or pyjamas. There was a plounge (pillow lounge) set up at the back where people could chill out. They even had a snack table, at a $15 event. Not only did they have all kinds of chips, goldfish crackers, lollipops and candy, but they’d thought ahead and supplied ziplock bags so attendees could make little snack packs. If that wasn’t enough, they had boxes and boxes of pop tarts, toaster and all. I had a smores poptart toasted while on a break from dancing. I don’t know that I’ve ever put those words together in that order. By the time I’d become tuckered out from dancing, I got to hang out with friends and snacks, just watching the floor. There was some raver girl that was fun and dynamic to watch. Lots of great dancers, in fact. Some guy had these colour changing light up poi style ball things, and he was a blast to watch. Another guy repeatedly hoisted a large pink emu soft toy into the air. I didn’t have any shitty interactions, just a fantastic time. Fingers crossed any of these features show up at a future dance event, even if it’s just the return of emu man.

I also shovelled today. The snow lately has been soft enough that I’ve been able to push, more than shovel. It’s been great. Either I’ve just walked, pushing the shovel, and it’s rolled the snow along like Thai ice cream, or I’ve pushed it in short bursts. Just literally thrusting the shovel forward and back, tossing the snow ahead. Instead of labouring under the need to dig, it’s made the process quick as shit. I’ve had to expend very little effort, and it’s perfect for straight strips like the sidewalk and our back path. It feels trite to be stoked about a snow shovel level up moment, but hey, it works. I’m no stranger to getting excited about mundane achievements.

Like, y’know, cooking a frozen chicken in the instant pot. One day.

A Leonardo original

Last night I left the house only to shovel the footpath. I returned over two hours later.

Yesterday was a total whiteout. It snowed all day long. The streets were covered. Some dude in our neighbourhood was going double time with his machine, doing his self-imposed duty to keep the footpaths clear. At some point I looked out and realised our footpath was still snowed over. Snow was still falling. I thought if I at least shovelled, it’d make things easier to work on later. I wrapped up and grabbed the shovel. I put on some music and went to town. The show was so soft. I found that in lieu of shovelling, I could kind of just push the shovel and send snow flying. It was less intense on my back/forearms, and made quick work of the task. Our neighbours are older, so I thought it’d be a nice deed to shovel their footpath too. Satisfied with a job well done, I walked out back to return the shovel. I looked at the picnic table sitting in our backyard. It was totally covered with snow. Maybe I could use that snow to make a lil’ snowman.

I’d never really done a lot of snow sculpting before. I scooped snow together and tried to make the ball base. It wasn’t coming together quite like I hoped. It was too difficult to roll the snow on the table, so what I had was more of a mound than a ball. I stopped and thought, wouldn’t it be funny to make a massive penis? Give the upstairs and downstairs neighbours a good chuckle when they came home? I worked on the balls, set up good foundations. I wanted the sculpture to top out around head height (pun surprisingly unintentional), so I could work on it from the ground. I realised that if it was gonna be a truly impressive sight, I had to establish some solid girth.

Having not done much snow sculpture, I totally loved it. I’m not a big visual art guy. I had a blast when my girlfriend and I had a modelling clay evening, but that was a specific style of sculpture. With the right consistency, snow sculpting is amazing. Last night’s snow was so soft. Unlike other mediums, I had basically unlimited materials. It was easy to pick up (and if I ever needed more, I could just shovel and dump the pile on the table) and shape. I realised that there were all kinds of techniques. If I was shaping vertically, I could shave away with firm downwards karate chops. It worked really well. If I wanted smooth surfaces, I could polish with my gloves. My fingers don’t go right to the end of my gloves, so there’s always a little tip at the ends. I found that I used these tips to do most of my line work or whittling. If I rapidly rotated my wrist, I could get a real Edward Scissorhands thing going on. If I made a mistake or wanted to change something, I could just pack more snow on, then whittle away at it to get the shape just right.

Hours passed and I lost myself in my task. I started really getting into the shaping. It was cool to be able to look at it from all angles, consider proportions, etc. I knew I wouldn’t quite get the girth to length ratio exactly as I wanted because of the height limitations, so I tried to decrease the size of the balls to help my shaft perspective. I stood on the table and looked down. Was it even on all sides? What kind of gradient did I want for the head? Were all sides even? What did I want the ridges to look like? Was I gonna do veins? I decided it could use little a frenulum, as a treat. My girlfriend came out at some point, worried I’d slipped and hurt myself. She offered hot cocoa when I finished. I had such a blast, and it might finally be time for me to own some waterproof pants so I can try again.

Anyway, here’s what you came for, in all its glory.

Was cleaning afterwards considered a dust-y dust?

Welp. I just hosted my dream funeral.

To be clear, I had no idea how the event would go. It was uncharted territory. An attempt to celebrate life, and explore the mix of darkness, humour and sincerity that keep me going. The basic conceit was that the party was a mix of funeral and wake. There was a bell anyone could ring. If they rung the bell, it was their turn to give a eulogy for me. Whatever they chose to say. In an attempt to give a modicum of respect for the dead, I also kept the floor available for anyone who chose to share a eulogy for someone they’d once loved, or a memory from their lives. Nobody took that option, but it was there just in case. Who knew if it would be a farce, or incredibly sombre. Knowing my friends, I assumed the former,but I would’ve accepted the latter. It was in every part, the former.

My girlfriend and I had done some last minute prep. We hung black streamers from the centre to the corners of the room, draped like the roof of a tent. We put a black foil curtain over the entrance to the living (/dying) room. We made charcuterie. We had havarti, gouda and aged cheddar. We bought chorizo, maple smoked ham and sliced salami. We had crackers, pickles and olives. As a birthday present my girlfriend had ordered me a ton of Cookie Time snacks for sharing. As always, I love being able to share my favourite foods with people, and invite them to try things I grew up with. They were just as delicious as I remembered. Friends brought with them a heap of snacks, and ultimately we have more snacks left than we started the party with.

It took a long time for people to show up. I got antsy. Had the theme kept friends away? We had a start time of 7:30pm, in the hopes that it’d get people arriving closer to 9pm. A friend arrived just before 9. By 9.30pm, another friend arrived. I was nervous. At around 9.40pm, some more friends arrived. Then more, and more. The living room was thriving with conversation. Suddenly, I heard the bell ring. My friend stood on the table and gave her eulogy to The Bone King. As my mortal enemy, Wingding, she lorded her victory for all to hear. She stood in exultation and beamed with pride that she had finally conquered her arch nemesis. It was wonderful. Soon afterwards, another friend gave a heartfelt eulogy extolling my virtues. Mostly though, he wanted to shoehorn in a pun. It seemed only fitting.

One of my good friends stole the show. He’d prepared a written eulogy based on absurd and notorious injokes. Our shared love of Manischewitz (a bit that keeps on giving) and my well-known hatred of Marmaduke. He (lying), talked about our ritual of “Mani and Marm Mondays”, where we’d get together to drink Manischewitz and read Marmaduke comics. He then explained in excruciating detail, a Marmaduke comic from panel to panel. Egads I hate Marmaduke, and I love my friend for digging in so deep.

Just after midnight, when the party was in full flow, I gave my own eulogy. It was fucking great. Every joke landed just as I’d hoped they would. It’d been so long since I’d last done a speech, and I forgot just how much I love the process. Understanding how to read the room and deliver words for maximum impact. I got to share personal bits with friends who understood and appreciated them. I had my moments of sincerity, and got to truly thank everyone for being there. There was a point where I looked around the room. It was filled with people I cared for so deeply. They were all shooting the shit, chatting or playing games. Everyone was well-fed, and we had abundant drinks for anyone who needed them. I was so happy with how it went, and if my real funeral is anything like it, I’m gonna die a very lucky man.

As for now, I’ll just have to settle for living a very lucky life.

Your boogie is a wonderland

Egads. I’m still waking up and it’s 9.30pm.

Long night out. It seemed like everything was happening last night in Toronto. German Sparkle Party has become a rave mainstay over the past few years. Having sprung from a weird viral video, people get dressed up in the sparkliest attire they can find, and dance their booties off. We didn’t go there. There was Krampus Ball, a rave with live performances, based around the half-goat/half-demon. It’s flashy and creepy, with some top tier costuming all around. We didn’t go there. There was a (pretty affordable) fetish party, and I’m sure at least two other big events that we didn’t go to. We went to the Everybody party, and had the best fucking time.

Last night was the first anniversary of their parties. Over the past year, they’ve become some of my favourite spaces. Endlessly welcoming and supportive. Good vibes incarnate. Most attendees are pretty chill, and in the rare case that people are being shitty, there are safety people who’ll de-escalate or get rid of anyone who’s being a menace. My girlfriend and I wore matching sparkly outfits. A tall friend gave me a disco style jumpsuit that was too short for them. It fits me perfectly. It’s also polyester, and thus mostly composed of sweat. I drank absurd quantities of water, and had to get near nude most any time I wanted to go to the bathroom. Everywhere I looked, I saw another friend. It was an easy sign that we were in the right place. Without exaggeration, there were probably 20 or so friends I got to hang out and/or dance with last night.

Post party, we all went back to our friends’ place to relax. They’d been looking forward to hosting, so we had blankets, pillows, snacks and soft toys galore. They have a projector set up in their lounge. We watched youtube clips, listened to music and threw on a few movies. It was the best. We all went on dumb riffs and bits. Friends shared stories of vulnerability and growth. We mostly lay around and got comfy. A friend had a bunch of chocolate chip cookie edibles and they coasted us through. It was gratifying to be able to spend so long hanging out with people without tiring of them whatsoever. We hung out for HOURS. Enough that my girlfriend and I finally dragged ourselves out of the house just before 1pm. Today has mostly been a throwaway day, and I’m absolutely fine with that. I had nothing to accomplish, and I’ve EXCELLED at that. This writing was literally the only task I needed to do, and now that’s in the can.

Like I was, every ten minutes after drinking twice my body weight in water.

If you’re a pick up artist, you can pick up the bill right?

I was thinking earlier about that book The Game.

Y’know, the Neil Strauss pick up artist book? When I was 20 and lonely, that book hit hard for me. I was stuck in a weird place. On one hand, I loved this idea of being attractive and enticing to women. I craved the knowledge of how to be so, so charming that they’d want to sleep with me. I read these accounts of men sleeping around, dating up and connecting with a range of women. It sounded so exciting and scandalous. I didn’t like the methods. They felt dehumanising, turning intimacy into a numbers game. There was something odd and cult-like about the way they’d live in what start-up folks these days would call “incubators”. The idea of having a routine felt awful and mercenary. If clicking with someone was turned into finding the right thing to say to unlock a puzzle, what was the point? I’ve always been attracted to people the more I learn about them, and if reciprocal engagement was based on me running social tricks that others had made up, then it wouldn’t really be me they were interested in, would it?

There’s a concept in a lot of artistic endeavours of finding your voice. In stand up it’s working out how to be true to the unique standpoint you have. To do the type of comedy that both gets laughs and makes you laugh. In clowning people find their archetype, work out their status and how to play with it. Writers often find their calling and style. I think what I’ve discovered lately is that I’m starting to find my voice in life. There are so many better writers. I’m not being self-effacing. I know how to put words together okay, but I’d never say that writing is my forte. I’m not the funniest person, and I don’t really know that I have the soul of a comedian. I’m okay looking, but there are more handsome men out there. I have a solid moral compass, and also I see others doing kind things without thinking that I’d love to have as a natural reaction. I don’t always own a room. I make mistakes. Hell, it’s insane I’m not better than I am at Magic considering the amount of time I’ve spent playing over the past almost two decades. That said, I’m finally at the point where I’m comfortable with myself, and leaning in.

Recently I’ve been going on dates and getting closer to people a lot more often. I don’t use pick up lines or try to get people into bed. I’m just me. I joke around and treat people with kindness. I have a weird sense of humour, and I don’t sell out my values to try and impress people. I’d rather just date someone else. I know that money doesn’t impress me, and I’m not drawn to those who think it’s important. I’m very happy being vulnerable and letting people vent. I enjoy spending time hearing about others’ problems, learning about their lives. The people who I tend to be drawn to are quite different, and sync with varied parts of my personality. I know that I’m a human cartoon character, and that this is unlikely to change with time. I’m becoming the person I both admired and didn’t know existed when I was a kid.

If I think back to all that The Game kind of stuff now, I realise I have the kind of life that I sought from that lifestyle, but it’s one that makes sense for me. I don’t pressure anyone into sexual encounters, and instead operate on a Fuck Yes or No philosophy. If they’re actively looking to connect intimately, then fuck yeah we will. If not, zero harm. If they never want to, who cares? We’ll just spend time together hanging out. If they do, then that’s great. If I’ve shared intimacy with someone previously, I have no expectations that they’ll want to each time, or even again. Sexual play has become the icing on the cake of making deep friendships where sometimes we want to kiss. I’m certainly not standoffish or emotionally distant, but I let my partners dictate how physically affectionate they want to be.

I think it’s important to regard your trajectory. To see who you’ve become, and where it could lead. To sit in your identity and analyse it. None of us are truly immutable, and we all have the potential for happiness.

Except, well, pick up artists can go fuck themselves. I’m sure they’ve got a routine for it.