In-sub stantial.

Because this page encompasses everything I want it to (and more oft’, many things I wish it didn’t), I’m gonna spend today’s 30 minutes exploring Reddit. I’ve seen the Random button before, but never really acknowledged its existence. Well my friends, let’s see where the lolsorandom button takes us…

emojipasta.

I haven’t vomited yet, but it’s only because I’ve got an uncannily strong stomach. The circlejerk is so turgid it’s making me squirm in my seat. It’s also that self-aware train wreck brand of amazing. What kind? This kind. I may not add it to my subreddit list.

wowservers.

People still play WoW? That’s pretty impressive. I remember I once had a level 9 night elf ranger. I was excited to get to level 10 to get my animal companion. Playing solely at my friend’s house, however, I lost interest and forgot about it. I wonder if my character misses me, hanging out in the aetherspace of the aethernet alongside my much neglected Neopets.

uwaterloo.

Well that’s strangely close to home. In case anyone can help out, there’s 1B CS/BBA looking for grill. I hear your plight, whicheverpartofthatsentencedenotesanidentity. I only pray someone comes to your aid post-haste.

memphis.

I went to Memphis, actually. I was there on my birthday in 2011, I think. We parked our RV in an RV park, I bought cheap Chinese food and marshmallow flavoured vodka (not as bad as I’d expected). We were creeped out at how dark and ominous everything seemed. It was quiet, but disconcertingly so. An older woman with two dogs (named Grits and Gravy respectively) warned us that crime was on the up. Fortunately, everything felt rosier after half a bottle of marshmallow flavoured vodka. Everything usually does.

astrophotography.

This is exactly what it sounds like. I’ve never been a huge space guy, but there’s a bunch of stunning hi-res stuff. I mean, look at this for fuck’s sake. I don’t know exactly what I’m looking at. For all I know that could be the inside of an arsehole after eating cheap Chinese food and drinking half a bottle of marshmallow flavoured vodka. Because that was a thing of beauty. I think this one just earned a “subscribe”.

node.

Well we knew this was gonna happen. I’ve stumbled into something I have zero knowledge of. Some programming language. The top post of all time is an AMA by Ryan Dahl, its creator. If this is your thing, maybe watch out for these 10 things you shouldn’t do while running Node.js in production. You’ve been warned.

floor.

Well, here’s one for the girlfriend. Puffy, cuddly, long haired cat+ creatures. Fake or misidentified animals will be removed, so watch out. No dropbears in this establishment. 22,269 readers are watching. They may love soft things, but they draw a line on fakery.

rally.

This has everything to do with cars and nothing to do with people coming together for a cause. Unless that cause is about a race. Cars. I have nothing to add here.

VEDC.

Somewhat tangentially related, this is a more everyday person’s vehicle requirements. Instead of speed, these folks go for versatility. Vehicle Everyday Carry. I’m not convinced that this person isn’t Batman, given their absurd preparedness. I wonder though, if they’d ever manage to cross the border. Or do they have a pocket universe hidden in the truck to hide their excessive carry.

Time for ooooone more. Let’s hope it’s good and not just some fan page for postage stamp glue.

Oh boy, subscribed without a second thought.

I digress in excess on progress.

Is it weird how much of our lives are spent online now? I don’t know if I’m talking sheer time or the amount of activities we’ve relegated to digital spaces. The point is, we invest so much of ourselves in this platform. It’s a marked change from 20 years ago, but then again, so is gender. Things change. I wonder then how much we’ve changed accordingly. Have our expectations altered given our constant connectivity? Working in television, I know our expectations have definitely altered. Immediacy is the name of the game. We want things straight away on our schedule, whether this is entertainment or communication. Waiting is pretty much insufferable now. Whether it’s streamable content buffering, a release schedule or a response from someone. If you’re online, why aren’t they? Is this everyone? Or am I the lone arsehole here?

I wonder if we’ve all become more or less insufferable than 20 years ago. It’s impossible to tell, because it’s not 20 years ago, our memories aren’t that great and we can’t peer into alternate realities through some high tech pensieve. I know for certain that I expect more than I ever did, because my expectations have been continually surpassed. The world kept delivering beyond what I assumed its capabilities were. Accordingly, my beliefs of what should be capable rose. Ironically in a world that’s transcended my hopes, I’m disappointed constantly. I’ve become entitled to this idea that the world now owes me the sensation of being impressed. With artificially inflated standards, I should know that’s not gonna happen. Still, I often catch myself getting angry with a world that doesn’t owe me shit.

Oddly enough, the older generation often has the opposite problem. They’re angry that the world has progressed beyond their comfort levels. In their ironic twist, we’re achieving what they fought for and it’s making them feel insignificant. How many times have you heard the refrain of “in my day we had to…”? Safe spaces, non-binary genders, a whole spectrum of sexual attraction and identities. “You want safe spaces? In my day we had to deal with polio. You can’t handle someone calling you a boy? We were lucky if we lived to 30!” I’m being deliberately being both facetious and straw-manning. The point is, people don’t have the same struggles because you beat them. Thank you.

The wars we fight revolve less around literal bloodshed (though let’s not undermine the fact that many minorities still face disproportionate fatalities in our society) and more about wars of identity. Struggles of freedom to be who you are, they’re a good thing. Believe it or not, this is actually what you fought wars for. Your generation died specifically so that this generation could have their battles be ideological. I’m telling you folks, you’re winning. Is the concept of people wanting a safe space that offensive? Are you really that against the fight for acceptance? Or would you prefer that they suffered the same indignities you hated? Because that seems like a shitty thing to wish upon others.

At the same time, I often find myself being a shitty person without realising it. I spend so much time reading the thoughts and feelings of others online and reacting. I might read something and feel inflamed. I get these uncontrolled, unmeasured reactions in the heat of the moment. Thing is, I’m not interacting with somebody else, I’m seeing their words devoid of their delivery. I’m taking the distillation of their thoughts, lacking the emotions that birthed them, then basing my reactions on how my brain filters how I’d perceive those thoughts in my head. So I’m reading those words in my brain without taking into consideration their gestures, inflections, cadence, or backgrounds. It’s pretty easy to see why we come to so many misunderstandings when we really don’t put much effort into understanding one another. But, of course, that would take too long and immediacy is the name of the game.

We could be living in a utopia folks, but it’d take a lot of patience and hard work.

Well if you can take anything from this Oscar rant, it’s that I’m a grouch.

Went on an unprovoked Facebook rant after seeing a bunch of everything is fucked if La La Land wins Best Picture articles. A friend of mine commented that she didn’t get why the film was being so hyped. I got very Ranty McRantface. Here we go:

To be honest, I really liked the film. From the opening scene right to the end I found myself captivated visually and audibly. The colour palette and shot composition was beautiful. I enjoyed the dialogue and structure. It was funny and stirring when it needed to be. I thought the two leads had great chemistry. It felt like a massive experience and when I’m spending time in a theatre, that means a lot to me.

I think La La Land is a great film. I think Moonlight is too. At the same time, I feel like most of the backlash is Tall Poppy Syndrome due to some bizarre idea that the whole Oscars Industrial Complex has anything to do with rewarding merit and not just a chance for Hollywood to alley-oop itself and get more promotion for its films.
Why the fuck did they expand the Best Picture nomination section to ten films? Because money. Because then ten films can put “Academy Award Nominated” on their posters in an attempt to make them more appealing to film goers.
Do people think that La La Land was actually a terrible film? If they do, cool. Movies appeal to different people in an assortment of ways. Really though, are they shitting on it because it was poorly made? Or because they have an issue with the fact that Moonlight (an excellent, beautiful film, you’ve got no argument from me. Except maybe about the shaky camera technique that meant I couldn’t physically watch most of the film without feeling nauseous. Not the film’s fault, my body is weird) isn’t getting the respect that it deserves *because* of La La Land? If the Oscars didn’t exist, would people even care? Or would they both be independently enjoyable films?
People can think piece all they like about how The Oscars are failing society by not rewarding diversity or shining a light on films that represent social inequalities and struggles ignored by the mainstream, but the truth is that The Oscars don’t give a shit about people or non-mainstream views. They always have and likely always will be about the (predominantly rich/white, let’s not kid ourselves here) “cultural elite” patting themselves on the back with one hand while jerking themselves off with the other. Not until their ratings (advertising dollars) or major cinematic attendance suffered would they start to care about championing diversity. Even then, they wouldn’t care about people, just their money and the impact it has on them. The whole ceremony is a big joke that people take very seriously.
TL;DR – I think Moonlight should win too, but that doesn’t make La La Land remotely terrible. The Oscars aren’t a true gauge of a film’s value, that’s something you create for yourself. Also Mia not using BCC is 2016’s Kelly Rowland texting Nelly in excel.

In other words, failing to work against type.

I’ve spent the last half hour staring at my screen, finding nothing but weak excuses not to write. I could’ve spent that half hour writing about weak excuses not to write and then I’d have the next half hour to do whatever I wanted. So for the next half hour, I’m gonna list weak excuses not to write:

  • I need to find things other than the Guardians of the Galaxy 2 villain that look like Cee Lo’s grammy outfit.
  • 11 minutes having passed since I last opened the fridge, looked around, was tempted by a swig of pineapple juice but instead closed the door and walked back to my computer. I mean, I could’ve at least picked up some water or something. I should probably go check again in case something has changed.
  • Combing through GP Pittsburgh’s top 32 to find at least one deck that wasn’t BG Constrictor, Mardu Vehicles or Copy Cat combo. Whoops, not gonna happen (though seeing Gonti get its time in the sun was some good time).
  • Ignoring the terrible dialogue and gratuitous CW style cheesecake to watch what’s quickly becoming a pretty well crafted teen drama; Riverdale. Oh wait, no new episode until next Friday.
  • Scrolling through Twitter to see people talk about The Grammys, so I can get worked up about an increasingly irrelevant award ceremony that may as well be called the Golden Lobes, vestigial as they are. Also I’m the asshole here. They’re not targeted towards me, why should I give a shit?
  • Meowing back at the cat, who keeps meowing loudly at me like I understand what she’s saying. C’mon cat, can’t you just speak human like the rest of us? Such an intolerant animal.
  • Reading Clickhole headlines out loud at my girlfriend, who’s trying to do her own mindless internet browsing. Then when she’s finally focused in on what she was reading before I so rudely interrupted with my emotional bid, read another one at her.
  • Checking on the pantry, in case it held something alluring that the fridge couldn’t match. Do I ever really need to have something to put marmite on? Or can spoons suffice?
  • Looking around at the many projects I said I’d start before getting distracted. Procrastinating through procrastinating about things I’ll inevitably procrastinate about again? Maybe later.
  • Buying Hindenburg Journalist recording software (tailor made for podcasting) for no good reason other than it’s absurdly cheap right now ($1.90 for World Radio Day instead of $80+). I have Pro Tools. Why would I ever need this?
  • Checking to see if any of my Facebook comments got more likes (even though I have the tab open and I can clearly see that they haven’t).
  • Trying to figure out a wittily worded Facebook post about Cee Lo’s GotG2 Grammy’s outfit.
  • Seeing others do it better.
  • Crying about it.
  • Cheering up once I realised half an hour had passed and so had my daily writing.
  • Finishing without so much as a snappy conclusion.

If you couldn’t tell, I’m pro-tour.

HAY GUISE, I THINK I GET THIS SPORTS THING NOW. Or at least some approximation of it. Today’s 9-5 sped past as I was glued to the Magic the Gathering Twitch stream of Pro Tour Aether Revolt. I understand that for many of you, most of those were just words devoid of meaning. Or context, for that matter. Twitch is a streaming service primarily known for its use in streaming live game events. People may show a feed of a video game they’re currently playing, for instance. In this case, Wizards of the Coast (the company who makes Magic the Gathering (also owned by Hasbro (because the Pokémon Trading Card Game was so profitable that Hasbro wanted a piece of that sweet, sweet, CCG market (coincidentally they also now own Dungeons and Dragons)))) uses the service to live stream its professional level gaming tournaments. There’s one going on right this minute (time of writing, not necessarily your time of reading) in Dublin and it’s pretty exciting to watch. Why?

Several reasons. It’s early in the season. A new set was recently released, dramatically changing the playing field. New interesting effects and mechanics are now accessible and it’s fascinating to see how they interact with those that were previously dominant. There were also recently some high profile bannings. Cards deemed too dominant and oppressive were banned from competitive play. This meant a huge overturn in viable deck archetypes. Why? Because if certain cards are too strong, it means that you either have to adapt your deck to play with or against them. Sometimes both. This can make the format feel stale, boring and in general unfun. Since Wizards’ primary motivation is to sell more product for their parent company Hasbro, they want to keep pro play fun. A fun pro scene means more players playing, buying product and in general a healthier environment for the game.

When it comes to watching an event like this, you’re seeing the best of the best squaring off against one another. As a big fan of the game, I spend a metric fuck-ton of my time (sadly, more time than I spend playing) reading strategy articles. I’m pretty engaged by new emergent decks or clever card interactions. On the pro tour, the players competing are the same authors of so many of those articles. They relentlessly test against one another, learn the intricacies of each format and in general treat the game like another full time job (there’s prize money, but it’s rare for the game to be lucrative enough to be a full time vocation). In short, it’s basically Magic’s version of the NBA. Still, why would this be so exciting?

Watching the stream, many aspects of the game come into play. First and foremost, witnessing the skill of high level players. Magic’s a game that involves constant analysis of game state, potential outcomes, quick mathematical calculations and deep knowledge of the format/mechanical interactions. These people play at a level so far beyond me that they can think of fascinating lines of play I’d never consider. It strengthens my future game knowing of these interactions. It’s also exciting to see all these high calibre players clash with decks I’d never be able to afford. Sometimes there are huge blowouts due to luck or unexpected metagame decisions. Seeing a multitude of decks created to take advantage of how they expect the format to evolve is kind of inspiring. To see the pay off from their endless hours testing is really rewarding, even as a spectator.

There are also “limited” events. Limited in this context meaning that their deck is limited by the cards they open. Players each have a total of three boosters (15 cards per) that they pass around a table, picking a card one by one. They have to make a deck based on what comes their way. It involves luck, for sure, but a ton of skill in evaluating the format, making both informed and gut decisions. When these factors all come together in a strong deck, it’s fucking great. In fact, I may just log back in to see how it’s all going.

I guess I know how my weekend’s gonna go.

It’s gross out there in more ways than one.

Today’s been an outstanding exercise in not leaving the house at all. After last night’s “surprise” party (evidence of which was sloppily written all over yesterday’s entry), I managed to extraordinarily stay in bed past midday. For me that’s one hell of an achievement. A modest hangover, likely due to a lack of solid food in my stomach, was taken care of by putting solid food into my stomach. Easy as that. My friend made two exquisite cakes yesterday and the remnants were still in the fridge. She made a cookie cake covered in cookie dough icing (with crushed oreos throughout) and covered in home baked cookies. Ridiculous, right? The other cake was a dense chilli chocolate concoction, cooked with rich dark chocolate and scotch bonnets. Determined to do something other than lie in bed, I pulled out a slice of cookie cake and went around cleaning the house. I told myself I could have one bite every time I cleaned something new. So thanks to the delicious cake we now have a clean kitchen table and vacuumed floors for the first time in months (we’re sorta slack around here). Clean sheets and an empty laundry basket. We also have less cake than we did too.

After last night’s blowout (an unholy assortment of chocolate cherry stout, vodka and boxed wine), I vowed to eat at least somewhat healthily. While I craved nachos pretty hard, I used what little resolve I possess to instead make small cabbage taco things. I pulled off intact cabbage leaves to use as tacos. In a saucepan I cooked up a batch of refried beans, tossing in some cumin, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and chilli. I chopped up a few sun dried tomatoes and fetched cottage cheese. I made a layer of beans, then cottage cheese, sun drieds and Kaitaia Fire. Tasty, filling, farty as fuck.

I re-entered the world of Facebook to find that nothing has changed. There were a ton of lovely birthday messages people had posted a few weeks back. Then Trump. All Trump. Trump and his fucking travel ban. The deplorable actions of a fucking monster. If this is how the Trump administration has conducted itself within the first few weeks, I can only fear for how far it’s gonna go. It’s awful. People unable to return to their families, jobs and friends. Imagine going away for a weekend and returning home to be told that you’re no longer welcome. What would you do? What could you do? If recent refugee crises weren’t enough, now they’re making refugees of citizens? From everything I’ve heard, getting a green card is monstrously difficult, tedious and can take years. It’s hard work. Ironically, a country whose national identity is centred around working hard to achieve success is doing its best to rid itself of honest, hardworking people in waves. All this off the back of a man who’s probably never had to want for anything in his life. Disgusting. Fucking disgusting.

No wonder I don’t want to leave the house.

It hasn’t even been One Week.

How’s a guy supposed to get his jollies in his personal impermanent post Facebook pass time? In the least important self-directed experiment I’m taking a week off Facebook. I did it for two weeks while on holiday and I’m extending this into my first week back. Why? I feel like part of me is trying to make some dumb self-righteous statement that the rest of me knows is bullshit. I don’t need my feed or  I’m more than this or misguided sentiments that rhyme with “steeple”. Perhaps I’m of the opinion that it’ll stop me from spending so much time online (when in reality I’m just spending more time refreshing Reddit instead). It may even be a reaction to having been absorbed in so much face to face with friends that I’m taking a break from people for a week. Any or all of these could be true. Hell, there’s also the question of what the point is, given that I’m 99.24% likely to return to it next week.

In the meantime (-5:00 if we’re talking about Greenwich) some aspects I’m missing more than others. Given the death of Mary Tyler Moore (an actress “before my time” enough that I have no real concept of her. As far as I know she was hugely influential in the realms of comedy, talented and someone the years to follow took inspiration from), I’m quite okay with missing an onslaught of think-pieces. It’s also nice not to be bombarded with Trump news 24/7 (as if wilful ignorance was ever a sensible coping mechanism). Do I really want to know all about the multitude of ways he’s failing America and society at large? I’m sure people everywhere are doing shitty things because that’s part and parcel of being human, but right now I’m hearing less about that and compensating with Magic the Gathering news/decklists.

On the other hand, I want little more than to be constantly engaging with friends about how great the new Neil Cicierega album Mouth Moods is. Having saved it till this morning as a treat, for the first time ever I was dismayed to find my commute being smooth and hassle-free. No delays, long waits or anything. By leaving at the right time I somehow hit the perfect stride, doing a 50-55 minute trip in 40 minutes flat. What this meant was not being able to listen to the album in full while nothing else was occupying my thoughts. It’s fucking brilliant, if you’re into his particular brand of absurdism.

The opening track has judicious use of Montell Jordan’s 1995 smash hit “This Is How We Do It”. “All Star” references are throughout, but its pole position in the “Mouth” trilogy has been supplanted by Canadian darlings BNL‘s “One Week” (not without a sublime tail out on a wondrously uplifting YMCA/Hans Zimmer track). My current (ever-changeable) track is “Annoyed Grunt“, an ode to gratuitous vocal punctuation featuring Tim Allen and that guy from Disturbed. Of course, I’d be doing myself (and frankly, humanity) a disservice if I didn’t toss a mention towards “Wow Wow”, a new spin on Will Smith’s eponymous hit to the 1999 critical disaster “Wild Wild West”. To be honest, I could emotionally jizz over every fucking track on this album, and honestly that’s a little unbecoming. If you’re into weird send ups of 80s/90s pop culture then plug this into your ears right away. If you’re not, why are we friends in the first place?

Anyway, I’m off to the gym. I wanna see if Mouth Moods makes for good lifting music. Moodsic?