Well I certainly won’t be motherbored.

At the moment life looks like a bunch of pixels. My brain is unravelling and I can see The Matrix. It’s not bad enough for my vision to have devolved into binary, but I could be in need of a graphics card upgrade. RAM’s usually pretty cheap. Let’s toss some more in there too. I don’t know if that ol’ 512MB of DDR RAM can keep up any more. It’s been a decade since I last knew anything about computers and it seems like my mind is similarly outmoded. Oh well, it’s not like overclocking could have any severe ramifications…

I still haven’t caught up from my holiday hangover. I caught a cold and instead of shirking it off, I spread it to my girlfriend who begrudgingly held up her end of keeping the contagion going. Thanks honey. So I spent the weekend soaking in the festering putrescence. I’m still congested and my squishy think-y bits are accordingly dealing with my internal traffic jam. Everything’s taking a while to process. Pity, because returning from holiday has meant a significant backlog at work. We’re ramping up to the busiest time of the year, which co-incidentally coincides with the colossal comedy festival, which I’m covering. Cool. Cool cool cool.

Buuuuut, my accreditation hasn’t yet been sorted. Normally I’m all geared up a week or two ahead of time. This year, a combination of poor communication and a new PR firm covering the festival has meant that three days out I still haven’t been told the status or extent of my accreditation. They want me to submit my requests, but they haven’t told me what level of shows I get access to. This means I have to put together requests with contingencies. I usually plan pretty carefully to maximise what I’m able to see. Some comics stay for a couple of nights, others pop in for a night or two. This makes the festival into an elaborate puzzle.

This puzzle is further compounded by travel times. It’s all well and good to book a 7pm show and 9pm show, but if the 7pm show is at the Sony Center and the 9pm show is at Comedy Bar, it can be pretty fucking tricky to make it from the first show to the second in time. Sometimes shows run long. Furthermore, now that they’ve included Yuk Yuks in the venue list for midnight shows, it’s damn near impossible to get from a 10.30pm show to the midnight show in time, even after taking an Uber (RIP the novel experience that is Andy Kindler’s Alternative Show).

So one axis is timing and venue distance, the other is headliner access. If I can see headliners, it’ll change which shows I prioritise. If I don’t, that’ll change the shape of my festival. Without knowing whether or not I get headliners then, will affect the structure of my schedule. If I get Mulaney on Thursday night, for instance, it won’t only change what I see on Friday night, but could affect which shows I opt in for on Friday, Saturday and Sunday too. Which means I need to submit multiple contingencies based on what access I will get, without knowing how this will play out. Anyone else confused?

Then while all this is happening I’ll also have daily coverage, a full time job (which could be in another department with later hours if I get the job (it’s a six month assignment that would start over the next week or two. Fingers crossed) and the necessity of keeping up physical activity (or otherwise truly go insane). Sleep comes in there somewhere too. Is caffeine more effective if I shelve it?

The scary part is, this is what I do for leisure. I think I need to learn what priorities are.

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Let the arbitrary hate flow through you.

Some dude on the subway in front of me us wearing a book with the Facebook logo, except in its place it says “fakebook“. What’s he rebelling against, really? Did he recently undergo a traumatic identity theft case revolving around the use of the popular social media platform? Is this some greater statement on the fleeing insincerity of online communication? Drawing contrasts between the facetious digital contact in lieu of a more personal connection? Or has he just seen The Matrix for the first time and convinced himself we’re all living in a simulation, thus goading one of the world wide web’s most influential sites into proving its worth in a land of make believe? Or maybe, just maybe he’s a gormless milquetoast zygote with a rudimentary sense of humour. You know what? Fuck that guy. He’s a FakeMook.

Work was shitty and frustrating today, so maybe that’s why I’m picking on this bland dweeb. A major shift in protocol right in the middle of my vacation means I need to do a metric fuckton of work before I leave. Otherwise it’d be left to other team members to pick up my slack. I bet that’s what Fakebook Dipshit does all the time. Slack prick. I bet he paid full price to see The Emoji Movie in cinemas. Maybe just to see his cousin, the poo emoji, on the big screen. Actually, that’s kind of sweet. I don’t want to personify him like that. I hate this guy, remember? How’s about this? I bet he was one of those goons bitching about the women only screening of Wonder Woman a while back. Yeah, that seems like his M.O. You know, they’re doing a Clown only screening of It at The Alamo. I wonder if gamer gaters will shit themselves over that too? Probably not. They’re just misogynists. They’ve got no beef with Arlequino and his ilk.

I saw someone on the train that I thought was a local comic I saw the other day. I was just about to tell her how much I enjoyed her “Kid Rock grandma” bit, but couldn’t tell if it was her. So she saw me turn to her, make eye contact and open my mouth. No sound came out, then I blushed, closed my mouth then turned away. She may have thought that I was some form of human/fish hybrid that’d forgotten about my gills. I remembered the comedian had chipped her tooth on the mic, so I wondered if that’d be how I could tell if it was her or not. I darted my eyes back to her periodically before realising I was trying to look inside her mouth and if things weren’t creepy already, they were bound to get into Slenderman territory in T-minus five seconds. I spent the rest of the subway ride trying to burn a hole in the floor with my glare.

At least I can console myself with knowing I’m not wearing a fucking fakebook shirt. That dude is an anus.

Look out world, somebody’s gonna roll ya!

Our mail is being held hostage. We’re on our third warning (though only two have been delivered. Maybe the second one is being held hostage with the rest of our mail) from the post office. Apparently our mail box is inaccessible. I mean, it’s accessible enough for them to deliver warnings to it, but not regular mail. The issue? Our path is COVERED in grass. Yes, it’s slightly overgrown, but it’s not a rampant expanse of forest. When did the mailman become my landlord?

I don’t know why, but I’m irritable. I’ve spent the last few hours traipsing around town on the hunt for various costume accessories for tonight. I didn’t find a single one that I was looking for. I kept getting distracted by other places to look. I stopped off at H&M to see if I could scoop up some sale jeans. I found some, but they had a hard time with my monstrous thighs and calves, even though the waist fit fine. The LCBO and beer store somehow didn’t have quite what I wanted for casual drinking. So I ended up leaving with a can of Watermelon Four Loko (the absurd 11.9% stuff). My new shoes arrived in the mail and they’re okay, though not as great as the previous model. Now after all this fruitless tripping I’ve got less time than I planned this evening. You know what was on my agenda if I had the time? MOWING THE FUCKING LAWN.

Today was supposed to go so well too. I woke up five minutes before my alarm. I felt so rested, turned over to look at the clock with fear in my heart that it was a good hour before I was supposed to wake. Nope, five minutes early. A free five minutes? That feels like being handed the day on a platter. I was out the door a full ten minutes before my normal time. I practically skipped down the road. I can’t help but feel that today’s had it in for me since. Do you know what sucks about being ten minutes early? It doesn’t gain you any time. Ten minutes before I leave the bus to the train station is rammed. The train is sardine-packed, meaning you’re inhaling someone’s armpit. When I got out of the subway and waited for my bus, the line extended around the corner and I still had to wait another ten minutes for it to arrive. With no seats, I stood at a funny angle wrenching my already sore back. Still my morale was up, I was five minutes early. So I got out and had a great coffee at my favourite cafe. They were playing Flashback Friday hits and it was all 90s bubblegum pop. I’d thought I’d turned it around.

Now I’ve got maybe an hour to have a shower, shave half my face, get dressed, have my girlfriend do my makeup and get to my friend’s place for pre-drinks. Then I’ll be in a limo drinking Four Loko. Things are looking up for your dear narrator.

Come to think of it, I don’t know why I’d be anyone’s “dear” anything. I sound like a curmudgeonly grump. What have I done to earn your favour other than gripe and grumble? Maybe the post office are right and we should be mowing our lawns more often than once every three or so weeks. Maybe mothers everywhere are right and we should wash our bed sheets weekly instead of… I don’t think even I want to know how rarely we do it. Maybe that bus driver was right when I tried to hand him a $20 and he told me to organise my life. Maybe I’m not perfect, okay? Maybe I am an incorrigible mess unworthy of your adoration.

Or maybe I should forget all of that and remember that I’m riding in a fucking limo tonight!

GET SHREKED, WORLD!

Even with eight legs you can’t outrun death.

Yesterday I encountered an event so momentous that it must be celebrated. The environs were innocent enough, with no warning of the epic occasion to follow. Merely my girlfriend and I eating a meal together. A simple meal, too (she’d snacked earlier, so wasn’t into anything grand) of steamed veggies, eggs and cottage cheese. Everything was prepped, we sat down with an assortment of condiments (the most vital part of any meal. I’ll fight you on that. Physically. Has grudge, will travel) when it happened. The words tumbled out of her mouth and I knew right away. I was telling my girlfriend a story she hadn’t heard.

This isn’t an everyday occurrence and I’m not even sure if it’d happen each week. So here goes.

Do you know how to catch common houseflies? I do. You’d think it’d be a matter of speed, slamming an enclosure down upon them before they could react. Nope, fuck right off. Ain’t no way you can react before a fly does. They’re not only quick, but they can detect movement in the air and act accordingly. Speed’s surprisingly the opposite of what you need. Catching a fly is about patience.

The way that we were taught involved a shot glass. You can use anything small, but it’s handy to be able to see right through it. You want the fly on a flat surface like a tabletop or bench. Position the shot glass directly above them. Slowly lower the glass. When I say slowly I mean glacial. Give paint drying a run for its money. One millimetre at a time. Show Heinz who’s boss. The secret? Keep going. You’ll think that the best call is to slam it down when you’re close, but you’d be wrong. Once again, flies are faster than you, but they’re not smarter than you. Well, maybe. I haven’t met all of you. Keep going slowly right to the bottom. That’s it, you have your own pet house fly.

Why do I know this? It’s certainly not because I had pet house flies of my own. That’d be preposterous. No, I had pet house spiders. Kinda. Our flat shared them. Well, a flat I used to live in before moving away. I’d stop back in most weeks when I was in town. Anyway. We noticed a decently sized spider in our kitchen one day and our friend taught us the fly catching trick. She informed us that spiders won’t eat pre-deceased flies, only ones they’ve killed themselves. So to feed them, you’ve gotta catch flies and release them into the web. The spider will notice the fly struggling by reading the vibrations on its web and come out to feast. It’s vicious too. You see its little mandibles chomping away on the squishy, crunchy fly. Gory as all get out. We named our spider Venom, after my favorite childhood comic character.

As we fed Venom it grew and grew until it was twice, three times its initial size. Then Venom had babies. One in particular survived and we named it Baby. Baby was a voracious little fucker and didn’t mess around at dinner time. It grew rapidly and soon was even bigger than Venom. We treasured our little arach-kids and continued to feed them for around eight or nine months, I’d help out whenever I was in town.

Then disaster struck. One of the flatmates, somehow not knowing that we’d been harboring pet spiders for the larger part of a year, freaked out at this so called “infestation”. It was a massacre. These little life forms we’d fed from infancy utterly obliterated. We were devastated and, despite the ludicrous situation, it caused a pretty significant rift for a while. We got over it enough to preserve the friendship, but the memory of our eight legged darlings has never left my heart.

So that sucked, but on the bright side here in Toronto we don’t get enough insects that we’d be able to keep spiders fed in the first place. I’ll miss Venom and Baby, but not as much as I love living in a relatively pest free environment.

Relatively. A cat lives here after all. At least the spiders were quiet.

The Dido song was probably queued up next.

Some thoughts:

As I was walking to the gym (the gym is wholly irrelevant to this anecdote. I don’t know why I chose to include that detail) some dude slowly drove past. His car was low to the ground, LED lit, essentially the baby boomer stereotype of everything wrong with our generation (I bet his passenger seat was filled with avocado toast for good measure). The car was kitted out with an absurd sound system. Bass to the nines. You could hear the vibrations as the car struggled to understand what he was trying to prove (as I’m sure the rest of the city block was). Thing is, he was cranking Eminem’s “Toy Soldiers”, a song known for its tinny, child sung chorus. I was baffled, bemused and altogether befuddled. Was this low level performance art? Or was he simply in a forlorn mood, seeking out the more sombre spectrum of ‘Nem’s opus? I cast my mind back to the days when I used to drive. We’d do this thing when rolling through small, quiet towns. We’d crank down our windows, jut our elbows out, turn the stereo up and crank out Peaches’ “Fuck the Pain Away”. Was it immature? Yes. Did we delight in it? Yes. Is it because we were immature? Without a doubt. I don’t know what the point of any of this is, other to say that whenever in my life it is that I next own a car, I’ll look forward to rolling down the windows, adopting a stern facade and blasting something absurd like the Sesame Street theme song.

The floor I work on has two sets of toilets. One for each side of the floor (it’s a large floor. Big building). The male toilet that’s usually within ten metres walk from me was closed for repairs today. I swear today was the most exercise I’ve ever done. I didn’t realise just how many times per day I went to the bathroom.

Went to a family gathering last night. I’m lucky that my family here in Toronto are pretty politically aligned. It makes for fewer awkward dinner table arguments. We were all taking about Trump last night and eye rolls abounded. It was a congregation of preaching to the converted. Except for an elderly, well, I can’t quite figure out what relation she is to me (if any). Every now and again she’d chime in with something outmoded or missing nuance of the discussion going on around her. I thought about whether to seriously engage or not and decided it wasn’t worth it. She wasn’t looking for a discussion or debate, she just wanted to be heard (which we weren’t really giving her either). I’ve heard post U.S. Election talk of similar thought, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it play out in front of me. I understood a little more how a ton of people in the other camp felt, why Trump had any basis of power in the first place. Anti-intellectualism kind of made sense if people felt tired of being ignored by a system that saw them as brainless statistics.

The removal of Confederate monuments came up and most everyone was in agreement in one way or another. Someone brought up the point that they should be removed from public places, but it made sense to put them in some kind of museum. The idea was that instead of celebrating them, to treat them as learning opportunities condemning their actions, but not forgetting them. The older woman commented that there was no point getting rid of them, because history couldn’t be changed. She mentioned how students now are rising up against their institutions, giving no respect to the system they resided in. I countered that this was a healthy thing and also wasn’t an anomaly. The youth had always rebelled, it was part of discovering and shifting boundaries. She asked what the point was, as things would never change. Hatred had always existed for Jews and minorities. I remarked that the mentality she exhibited was exactly the point, that younger progressive people weren’t content to resign themselves to that future. That while it might not happen in their lifetime, if they didn’t push as people before them did, nothing would ever change. Inwardly I was thankful that her views were a generational thing, that they’d eventually die out (THE VIEWS, NOT HER) and we’d stand a chance of nudging further towards equality. There’s still a long road, but at least we’re walking it.

I mean, yes, she will eventually die too. We all do.

That’s one way to put a bounce in your step.

 

I was thinking about this game Ricochet today. Despite the title of this clip, it was a piece of shit and I loved it in a weird way. A Half-Life mod, two friends and I tried it out to see how bad it could be. It was terrible. Bouncing from pod to pod in outer space, aiming to knock one another off balance. The controls were clunky and awkward. The gameplay was repetitive and stilted. It probably took longer to program than the entire time players spent in game. It’s questionable how gaming powerhouse Valve could’ve thought it had the potential to catch on, but life’s about taking chances. I remember this one afternoon where the three of us had nothing much to do. I mean, we were teenagers. There’s jerking off, video games, angst and little else. Anime, probably. So we spent this particular afternoon racing to try and be the first to 100 kills. We all had our particular gaming skills, and while I was likely the least competent FPS player, this was new territory. None of us had spent time on this game, because we were too busy doing things like trying to beat Final Fantasy 7 in a weekend. Y’know, trendy shit. We didn’t give a freak.

So we played this game. I don’t know how long it took. Hours, I’m guessing. We were learning as we went. At first we’d get killed rapidly. We’d catch each other unawares and knock one another off with these silly discs. Then power ups started to come into play. If you hit someone, instead of knocking them off, you’d decapitate them. Points had an ebb and flow. Someone would streak ahead, then the others would catch up and overtake. Kills were racked up. Then muscle memory kicked in. We’d learn how to anticipate attacks, read opponents strategies. Lives began to last longer. The slog from 70-100 was probably longer than 0-70. Because it wasn’t a well designed game, I don’t know if any of us were even enjoying it. Why would that matter though? We were in for the points. For bragging rights on something with no real stakes. The whole time we were yelling to each other “why are we doing this?” “Does anyone even care?” “Is anyone having fun?” Our cries were in vain. We didn’t stop.

I didn’t win, but I also didn’t take umbrage with that. In the end it was within 10 points. While it wasn’t that enjoyable, for some reason it created a kind of bond. Every once in a while we’d mention “hey, you guys wanna go for a Ricochet rematch so I can finally get my title?” The answer was a resounding “no” every time. Still, we talked about it far more often than you’d expect. From time to time the game still pops into my head and I wonder if anyone still plays it. Was there ever a Ricochet community? Is there some dude all lonely waiting out there in space in the hopes that someone will play with him? Did Ricochet actually mean a great deal to anyone, and if so, why? I’m not often 100% sincere, but I really hope there’s love for the game out there. Not everything has to be a success and Ricochet obviously wasn’t. At the end of the day though, it left me with a mostly positive memory that ties me to these two specific friends. I hope I’m not the only one.

I wonder if anyone’s done a 4K port…

Hard to take it personally.

I’m using this occasion primarily as a chance to try out my fancy new bluetooth keyboard. Right now I’m waiting on the subway platform. While I’m a massive fan of Swift Key, it’s doing wonders to fuck up my typing here. It auto spaces after a full stop and corrects any non-standard words I try to type. It’s a work in progress.

I was thinking earlier how technically being a “foreigner” here in Canada hasn’t ceased to create strange little scenes from time to time. People remember me. I guess that should be expected enough. The Kiwi accent sticks out amongst all the Canucks. I was sitting at a cafe this morning having breakfast and I heard someone call out “Leon. Leon.” There were kids around. I assumed my parents weren’t the only people in the world to think that Leon was a nifty name (my life experiences aren’t THAT far from that hypothesis). I turned around and an older woman was looking straight at me. “Hey Leon, you’re ‘x’s cousin from New Zealand, right?” She and her husband had met me at a BBQ with my extended family. I couldn’t remember them, but with respect for my 20, my inability to recall doesn’t negate that life happened. We chatted briefly, before she let me get back to my parfait and coffee. Someone at another table overheard that I was from down under. “Where abouts in NZ are you from?” She asked. “Auckland” I replied. “Oh” she said “I have a cousin in Dunedin who’s having a baby.” I had nothing urgent to get to, so we chatted.

I say that we chatted, but more so she asked questions and I answered. It’s not that her line of questioning was unwelcome or overly personal, but that I figured the conversation was more for her than me. It happens, you get used to it. When someone hears that you’re a Kiwi and it spawns chatter, there’s always a reason. They knew/know someone from there, they visited/are visiting. There’s some personal connection they have and you become a conduit for that. It’s not about you personally, rather you’re a stand in for them to have purpose to re-engage a part of their life. Am I making sense? These conversations have nothing to do with you and everything to do with what you can be to them. It doesn’t happen all the time, so I don’t get worked up about it.

Accent privilege both giveth and taketh. People are genuinely pretty friendly when I speak. It makes it easy to reciprocate. Attractive people here are more likely to talk to me here than back home. When it happens though, it’s mildly impersonal. I look at it two ways. It gives me a chance to get to know those who might not otherwise give me the time of day. Weirdly at times it feels oddly infantalising, they’re amazed when I have a personality and know things, as if that would’ve been impossible for someone from such a “simple” country. I know that my heritage has little to do with who I am, they don’t. It also feels a bit disheartening sometimes, that people expect me to be some stereotype. It’s far from identical, but probably not 100% dissimilar to what attractive people experience when people chat to them for no reason other than their attractiveness. You realise that people’s motives are sometimes downright transparent. If that’s mutual, fantastic. Otherwise it can make you feel lonely and strangely worthless. If your value to others is tied up in a factor that’s outside your control, then how can you rightfully take credit for it? If this is all people are gonna see in you, how much are you actually contributing?

Like I said, it’s an occasional happenstance and the accent opens more doors than it closes. It helps make me memorable and generally greases the wheels of my everyday life. The ceiling and floor alike are both pretty high, so I can’t complain too much. Altogether it’s just a bit weird that four years in, while I feel at home for the most part, occasionally a few words can make me feel like I’m not.

You know, like being asked where in Australia I’m from.