Let’s call it PUP-y love.

It’s been a long workday and I’ve got very little gas left in my brain. Let’s find out what it wants to talk about today.

I’ve never been hugely into punk. Even in my teens I veered hard into metal territory and didn’t look back until I hit age 20. Emo surged into popularity during my time in high school and by association, punk lost its lustre. The closest I came to punk fandom would’ve been my appreciation for Refused’s The Shape of Punk to Come and anything by At The Drive In. If there’s any point to my preamble it’s this; I’m no authority on punk music.

That being said, yesterday I finally listened to PUP’s The Dream is Over and it has to be the finest punk album I’ve heard in years. Toronto hometown heroes kicked the shit out of their sophomore slump. Discounting the fact that it’s the only punk album I’ve heard in years, I’m still of the opinion that it’s a remarkable showcase of what the genre embodies. It’s punchy and energetic. The riffs are explosive and the growls are backed by short sharp harmonies. The lyrics are wry and aggressive, cheekiness to the core. The whole album clocks in at 30 minutes and, in my experience prompts an instant replay. I’ve listened about 12 times since yesterday morning. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long and I’m gutted as shit that, seeing as they’re Toronto locals, I’ve missed so many live performances over the years.

Once again, I’m taking a weird unearned amount of glee at hearing that another DCEU film is an expensive, bloated, tedious poorly directed piece of shit. Justice League sounds like its tagline should be “Better than Suicide Squad at least.” I’ll call my reaction exactly what it is: A holdover from the 90s where fandom came with this bizarre sense of tribalism attached. I was always a Marvel kid and now as an adult, it feels like my faith was justified. I can’t speak for my ardent defence of the Sega Saturn though. Surely I should want everyone to get great superhero films that showcase all the wonderful facets of their favourite childhood characters. Really though, I’m a petty, snide asshole who’s still rooting for the downfall of DC comics. Boring heroes who’re for the most part too pious for my tastes.

It’s like dumping on the newest DCEU film has become a sport and the winners are the readers.

From The AV Club:
“Don’t let the slick, well-chosen production stills fool you: This is for the most part a cramped and cheaply ugly movie, with crappy special effects. The nicest thing that can be said is that the producers have made it impossible for viewers to tell what is and isn’t a reshoot; a significant part of the movie is set in cramped, windowless rooms or in front of obvious green screens.”

From Variety, on Whedon’s late game additions:
“Whedon’s humor is grafted on in too-obvious ways; it sticks out incongruously amid all the stilted mechanics of this alarmingly basic movie. All these Whedonisms have the opposite of the intended effect. They give off a strenuous hum, the desperate sound of a turd polished in vain.”

From The Hollywood Reporter:
“Fatigue, repetition and a laborious approach to exposition are the keynotes of this affair, which is also notable for how Ben Affleck, donning the bat suit for the second time, looks like he’d rather be almost anywhere else but here”

Metacritic has it at a 51%, which is actually remarkably respectable for DC’s hit rate. I was probably never gonna see it anyway, I’m really only here for the reviews.

Anyway, I’m out. See you tomorrow, same Bat Channel.

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It’s all kinds of congestion ’round here.

I’m in a bus and quickly realising that it would’ve been quicker walking. I guess that’s what I get for leaving work on time. Do you think the person who created roads was pro or anti traffic? Were they all “wow, people love my creation so much they’re lining up to use it”? Or would they see it as a travesty (travel-sty), subverting the notion of speedy transportation? That’s gotta be a chief bugbear of creation, right? When you bring something into the world for a specific purpose and it gets twisted into a dark perversion of your initial vision. You’re like “I just wanted to improve our crop yield” then your plowshare is beaten into a sword. People are mowed down like wheat and the blood is indirectly on your hands. Did Al Gore cradle his head in his hands after Trump’s presidential win thinking “I enabled this”?

No swift segues today. It’s gonna be clunky and awkward because I’m in that kind of mood. I’ve been eating too much and been doing insufficient exercise this week. My body feels all over the place and it’s affecting my energy levels. Plus the temperature has fluctuated, the sun has basically disappeared as the wind has picked up. Mercury is probably in retrograde, I never have enough sleep and I got a rejection letter from an internal job that I really wanted, without getting so much as an interview. Work at the moment feels like relentless monotony (though that’s not a new development). I’m grumpy and having my own little pity party on this bus. Fittingly, I’m at the one set of seats with less leg room, which makes me feel like a sulky teen. The worst part is that an adult, I’ve got no valid structures to rebel against except myself. My parents stopped being responsible for my actions years ago. You know what’s worse than that? I wholeheartedly understand that I’ve got it better than so many other people, which undermines my ability to justifiably complain about any of it. I’m all “my job sucks”. But I have one. I’ve been eating shitty food, but I’ve had access to food. Being active is my choice, but I have the capacity to do so. What I’m saying is, my odds aren’t insurmountable here and I’m probably more complaining because it’s cathartic. I’ll go to boxing tonight, feel those endorphins and get over it.

You know who it must suck to be right now? Terry Richardson. Dude has always seemed like a right creep. Lecherous, pushing boundaries and taking advantage of women he’s worked with in a professional capacity. It must feel like a reckoning is coming his way, especially now that every second news story is about some male celebrity abusing their power and status to get what they want. I wonder if the recent culture of sexual abuse victims coming forward will result in a meaningful shake up of Hollywood and celebrity culture. My heart is saying let’s go, but my brain is saying no. It feels like this kind of stuff is only a problem to these studios when it threatens their bottom line. The fact that so many of these situations were well-known secrets highlights just how difficult it is for victims to come forward and be dragged through a gauntlet of negative press and character assassination. I heard some regular Jo say that they thought the whole Harvey Weinstein thing case was a matter of gold digging. It reminded me that while I live in a cosy liberal bubble that believes survivors, that’s not the world we live in. Society still has a long way to go before the industry really feels adequate pressure on its purse strings to bring about a thorough change to the status quo.

Is this what film pioneers envisioned in their hopes for the silver screen? A juggernaut of an industry where publicity and bottom line mentality are more important than the final products? Probably not. I’m sure they just wanted to show the world what their dreams looked like.

Is a Blade Runner someone who walks the razor’s edge frequently and at high speed?

Spoilers: There will probably be Blade Runner 2049 spoilers.

Probably. I saw it last night so chances are I’ll want to talk about it. If that’s the case I’ll leave them until at least the third paragraph.

This is the second paragraph. I can’t say for sure that there’ll be spoilers in the next one, but there won’t be any in this one. This one’s reserved for my semi-weekly work bitching. I’m in this weird position at work. I don’t like my job. I don’t like my job because I’ve done my job for almost three years now and I really only wanted to be there for two years max. One year after that, it’s hard not to look at the static nature of my role and feel crippling disappointment. Yes, I’m lucky to have a job. My co-workers/bosses are nice people. I’m not being harassed or compromised on a moral/ethical level. The job isn’t even that bad, it’s more that I’ve been doing something that holds zero interest for me for almost three years now. Boo hoo, right? I guess I was raised in a culture that said to follow your passions. Past generations and many cultures don’t have that luxury. Now I’m stuck at 30 at the intersections of responsibility, creative expression and ambition. I feel like I should have accomplished more. I’ve put energy out there a bunch of times and each disappointment makes it harder to justify continuing to put out energy. So the rut deepens.

The biggest weight at the moment is that we have performance reviews scheduled for next week. I guess I lied about the Blade Runner spoilers in this paragraph. Guess you’ll have to keep reading. Anyway, at my last performance review I talked candidly with my boss (she’s on the level) about where I was at. How I had the ability to do the job no sweat, but had no real interest in progressing along the career path where this specific role would lead. She said it was fine to use the job as a jumping off point to something more suitable within the company. She’s been supportive when I’ve asked, so none of this is on her. I told her I’d be pretty disappointed to be having this same discussion in a year’s time. So I guess I have that to look forward to. I haven’t nothing, but I also haven’t done enough, clearly. So with morale at an all time low I’m basically checking into work to cover the bare minimum, get the job done and go home demoralised every day. It’s not the team’s fault, it’s not my boss’s fault. There are things I need to do and I a) haven’t figured out what they are because I haven’t b) figured out where I truly want to be and c) put the work in towards making that happen. With time it gets harder. I’m not a joyless person, I’m not an idiot, I do have potential but as time progresses it’s becoming harder to believe that any of these are true. Maybe two years back my therapist said that I needed to get out of this job, that it was taking more than it was giving. Time doesn’t change everything.

Am I still gonna be doing the same thing in 32 years? What year would that even be?

OH. ARE YOU ALRIGHT? OR DID YOU LOSE YOUR BALANCE ON THAT SLICK TRANSITION? It’s time for me to share some thoughts on Blade Runner 2049.

In this paragraph. I thought it was fantastic. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, of course I was gonna think that. It looked stunning and managed to capture the daunting atmosphere of the original, but larger in scope. I liked the eye motif. I thought Jared Leto’s scenes were maybe 20% longer than they needed to be, but thought the creepy role was a nice fit for him as a person. Dude creeps me out big time. To be honest, I was fine with the overall length of the film. It was nice how scenes were left to breathe. I was too absorbed to notice, anyway. I thought the pacing was fucking brilliant. The action wasn’t too protracted or sparse. Has Robin Wright ever been bad in anything ever? I thought the aspects of homage were tasteful for the most part (like that fluorescent ramen sign in one of the first glimpses of night time LA). Ford got more screen time than I expected, but I really enjoyed how he was used. For basically the first time in history, I got the twist right away. I’m a dummy when it comes to film twists, so either it was super obviously telegraphed or I’m getting better. It just made sense for the script. The line “buckle up” felt really cheesy and I assumed that was intentional. My girlfriend said that while she hadn’t seen the original, it seemed like it was probably a throwback or reference. I hadn’t seen it in about 12 years, but I thought she sounded on the money. I don’t know how much sense the line made, because I wasn’t totally sure about the physics of the JOI unit. Oh, let’s talk about her. I don’t know if their attempts to craft her into a character really worked, but wasn’t sure if the lack of her three-dimensionality was intentional because she was a computer program. I did kind of like how that dovetailed back into the plot/twist. She seemed well programmed at giving the audience exposition, in any case. The sex scene seemed super unnecessary for plot purposes, but as a self-contained scene looked cool, was a neat idea/implementation and felt like the SFX department cracking their knuckles and saying “MUM! DAD! LOOK WHAT I CAN DO.” To this day I don’t know how well dogs can process alcohol. I kind of like the mystery of not knowing. I also had a ton of other thoughts, but they’ll probably get lost in time like tears in rain.

I want a large green fur-lined leather coat.

Oat Brick would likely be my Knight Name.

Hey friends. There’ll be Game of Thrones spoilers coming up later. They’ll be very clearly marked.

Well that eclipse was some kind of whelming. It was neat and all, and the science behind it is pretty choice. In the end though, as a partial eclipse it was good for a minute or two of “ooh”s and “aah”s before walking back indoors to resume unremarkable work. Not to brag (I lied, it’s bragging), but it wasn’t my first. Way back when I was sub ten years we had one in New Zealand. I remember making some kind of shoebox pinhole contraption that kinda worked. I was at a friend’s place and his dad went into the garage to grab his welder’s mask. It worked way better, plus I felt like some kind of 70s sci fi cyborg. Which was basically my childhood M.O.

Fuck it’s great to eat bread again. I’ve been trying not to nosedive straight back into excessive eating, but what I’ve had so far has reminded me all too well of the massive sacrifices I’d made giving it up for Tough Mudder Lent. The cafe I often visit on the way to work has a plethora of baked goods. They’re ultra decadent, like these crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside salted chocolate brownies. For months now I’ve had my eye on these breakfast biscuit things. With no idea what they were, they nonetheless seemed like something I wanted to shove in or around my gob. So today for a treat I got one with a flat white. It was sturdier than I expected, but chewy and semi-sweet. Probably about ten centimetres in diameter and three centimetres high. Some kind of oaty, dried fruit brick. I dawdled along to work with my coffee in one hand, oat brick in the other, bliss in the centre of my being.

*** GAME OF THRONES SEASON SEVEN EPISODE SIX SPOILERS TO FOLLOW ***

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Wasn’t that a shit episode? I’m not trying to imply it was boring in any way, because the show has switched into act three action. The shortened half-season is screeching to a halt and they’ve got a lot of stuff to get done by the time it’s over. I certainly enjoyed a bunch of the scenes we got thanks to the Magnif-Ice-nt Seven grouping of fun fan favourite characters. A lot of cool interactions between characters. I’d forgotten the link of Brienne that chained Tormund and Sandor together. The Jorah/Jon Longclaw scene was nicely handled. Still, the entire adventure was a stupid fucking idea that made no logical sense for the characters concerned. Nobody at Dragonstone thought to seriously question just how shitty it all stacked up on a risk/reward scale (no pun intended, surprisingly)? Just a way to waste a bunch of Redshirts. Also for the first time it feels like temporal complaints were pretty fucking valid. They were surrounded by a ring of zombies. How long did it take a) Gendry to reach The Wall, b) the raven from The Wall to reach Dragonstone and c) the dragons to arrive North of The Wall? I’d wager maybe three or four days at the very least. Did they just stand there in the freezing cold for days? They didn’t seem to have a ton of provisions. Dumb, clumsy writing from a show that should know better.

Speaking of clumsy, what about this whole Arya/Sansa thing? It feels disingenuous to the characters that they would’ve gone through their worldly experiences and not be able to resolve their issues without Arya threatening to wear Sansa’s face. Yes, I get that family reunions have a way of making old dynamics resurface, but that seemed like a flimsy excuse to manufacture drama. Plus Sansa didn’t know that Littlefinger had any idea about the incriminating scroll (I mean, Arya wouldn’t take the fact that Sansa wrote it under duress as a valid argument? She knows how soft Sansa was back then), in that context why would she willingly go to him with information? She knows he’s not to be trusted. Furthermore, Bran is in Winterfell right? And he knows everything? Why not ask him? Is he too busy being aloof and watching Sansa’s highlight reel of traumatic experiences? Good show, but that episode was fucking dumb, clunky and sold out its characters for the sake of expediting the plot.

Still, it hasn’t eclipsed an otherwise enjoyable season.

Beetloaf? How would anyone ever figure that out?

I was listening to a playlist and David Bowie’s “Heroes” came on. It’s a great song, obviously. This ain’t no hot take. It’s not like you were in doubt about Bowie’s discography until I came down from on high and anointed it with my blessing. Oh, Leon thinks it’s a sweet jam? I better slide this one into my A rotation tout de suite. Bowie don’t need my help. Also, having passed into the pale, he’s beyond my reach.

It got me thinking, when did I get into Bowie? It was likely after hearing a bunch of his stuff on Radio Hauraki. I was 20 or so, working part time at a party store. Despite his legendary status in the rock canon, I didn’t know his stuff intimately. I liked that “Ziggy Stardust” one, but knew piss-all outside of that. I downloaded the rest of the Spiders from Mars album and soaked it in. Then Diamond Dogs. My appreciation of Bowie never passed into true idolatry. Since listening more intently, I’ve always thought he was great, but didn’t get sucked into the orbit of his mythos. I think I missed the boat, his contemporary relevance having happened before my time.

Then Bowie passed away and, well, nothing much changed. I still think he’s pretty great, but even more so than my own appreciation of his work, I love how his music and persona inspired so many. The pop cultural sphere was overflowing with tributes and it was hard to escape (not that I’d care to) from his pervasive oeuvre. Watching interviews where he clearly thought in a manner that was beyond his time, knowing that he constantly championed new and emerging artists only increased my admiration.

I noticed all the furore after his death (partly sparked by his late game release of Blackstar and the oddly prescient “Lazurus”) and wondered, cynically, if any artists had considered faking their death for the sweet, sweet tributes. I thought back to Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, how the boost to their discography rotations must’ve aided their estates. In poker you’ve gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. For an established, but fading artist (like Kenny Rogers himself), could it be time to cash out and escape to serene seclusion? Set up getaway plans, have lawyers plot everything out, then disappear leaving only grim fiction of your demise in your wake.

How hard would it be to fake your identity, buy a small plot of land and enjoy the quiet life somewhere outside of public scrutiny? You could chop wood and portage, whittle and play the fiddle. Plus other shit that country people do day in day out. How am I supposed to know? I’ve never shoved my arm up a cow’s butt. Royals and residuals lining your coffers, leaving the rest of your days unencumbered by the need to perform for others. For someone who’d lived in the public eye, wouldn’t that be idyllic? Meatloaf would do anything for love, would he fake his death? C’mon dude, it shouldn’t be hard to create some plant-based persona and find the sweet bliss of obscurity. Kill your public persona and live for yourself, not for anyone else. Then if you need a huge cash infusion, re-emerge from the grave like a Bat Out of Hell.

What are you waiting for? Your career has written itself to this moment.

Sure, complain about opportunities. That’s the essence of charisma, right?

Aren’t holidays meant to alleviate stress? First day back at work and it feels like I need a grappling hook to catch up with my backlog. I’m clearly to blame, considering I actually took a holiday instead of working on all my side projects. It feels like I’ve become beholden to a mass of metaphorical mistresses, demanding my attention without being aware of one another. My fault for straying, I guess.

The biggest bugbear right now is Just For Laughs Montreal. The question of my accreditation has been swaying pendulously, just out of reach. The PR team and I are in the world’s slowest tennis rally. They seem to answer one question daily and don’t work weekends. I do understand that I’m a small fry, all things considered. They’ve got a mountain of a festival to sort and I’m a mere rock. I’m also asking a ton of questions, having never covered Montreal before (the festival and accreditation process is pretty different from Toronto). Still, the pace is making it tough to get traction. I’ve got accommodation and transport to book, both of which are contingent on getting accreditation.

So far I’ve learned that my access is pretty limited. I won’t get to cover any big name comics. They seem to be obsessed with booking interviews, but I’ve told them I’m not particularly interested in doing any. I’ll be running a festival blog on Live in Limbo, then concluding with a wrap up article. It means I can keep things fresh and varied, giving my coverage a more up to date feel. It also means I can keep up a more conversational style, which is more in tune with my voice. My hope is to see a bunch of comedy and promote all the solid acts so people can check them out.

They got me doing one interview, but obstacles are making it a hassle to sort. They want pre-promotion which, consisting the comic lives in LA, means it needs to be a phoner. I’m not arguing that his time is more important than mine, so we’re on his schedule. We’ve booked in a 3.15pm call on Thursday, during my work hours. My phone gets no signal at work, so I had to source a landline. I can’t take a speaker phone call at my desk (for transcription purposes), so I had to find a meeting room. By this afternoon, most meeting rooms were booked for Thursday, especially (it seemed) the ones with conference call capabilities. So I had to spend 15 minutes shopping around for the right one. Also because of the aforementioned backlog, I had actual work to catch up on. Guess tomorrow night is gonna be spent researching for the interview.

Now that I’m finally on my way home, I get to put some work into another sidebitch of a personal project. How many ways does the universe have to warn me that the holiday’s over?

Does this make me The Big Sycophant?

Friday night. Taking myself out to see an early showing of The Big Sick because I forgot how much I love seeing movies alone. It’s such an honest experience. I don’t know about others, but when I watch films in company I’m not able to fully let go. I feel this bizarre compulsion to mask my reactions. To, I dunno, hide weakness? It’s primal ape type shit and probably symptomatic of a culture where toxic masculinity still holds sway. As if losing control would make me inherently less dominant. It’s weird and makes no fucking sense in not only 2017, but especially with my own personal values and politics. If I were really secure in myself I wouldn’t give two asses for friends (who were obviously close enough to me that I invited them out) seeing my vulnerability. Idiocy most profound. So I’m gonna enjoy The Big Sick in an entirely unfiltered fashion on my own.

Also because I clearly have no friends.

This is one of those films that means a bunch to me. Starring Kumail Nanjiani in a movie co-written with his wife Emily V. Gordon, it’s the story of how they met, loosely adjusted for slightly more dramatic effect. I say slightly, ’cause their story was pretty fucking dramatic. Why do I feel attached? Why do I care? Because they co-hosted an outstanding video game podcast called The Indoor Kids. Podcasting is such an intimate (admittedly one way) medium that it was hard not to fall for them. They’re a brilliant, supportive couple who are equal parts adorable and awe inspiring (why not “awww inspiring?” -ed). Over the years they’ve climbed the rungs of the Hollywood career ladder. His comedy career has taken off, which in turn lifted his film and television portfolio. She’s a former therapist for at-risk teens who’s folded that talent into managing the egos of fragile comedians. She’s also a super talented writer and really fucking funny herself. They’re dynamic, inspiring and deserve every success.

Okay. Waiting for the film now. Observations:

Every old person in Toronto is at this 7pm movie. This is 30.

They’re calling their kids and shit. It’s like being in another world.

An old couple of staring at their phones, not talking to one another. OLD PEOPLE ARE JUST LIKE US YOU GUISE.

Everyone’s wearing glasses and it’s not even a 3D film. I missed the memo.

Dude behind me doesn’t realise he’s eating popcorn with his mouth open like a fucking sociopath because he’s too old to hear a goddamn thing.

There’s an Inconvenient Truth sequel. Everyone around me has an aura of “not my problem”.

To be fair, Al Gore is everyone’s problem.

Oh, movie’s starting. I’m looking forward to the couple next to me repeating all the jokes one second later.