Spoilers: People ran a lot. We drank accordingly.

I think I may have found one of my new favourite events in Toronto: Drunken Cinema. Have you ever played one of those ridiculous movie drinking games? Every time condition x or y is met take a drink, etc etc? Same thing, but instead of being crammed into a sweaty dorm room you can be crammed into a noisy bar full of drunken louts. The rules are simple: Follow the convoluted rules. See? Easy.

Last night’s event was 1987s The Running Man, a classic Arnie film I’d never been fortunate enough to discover as a child. I’ve got no doubt in my mind that if I had, I would’ve seen it at least 30 times by now. Instead I saw it at the age of 30, but with enough alcohol to imbue me with a childlike sense of wonder. It all comes out in the wash, it seems. One of my new to Toronto friends came out with me and we managed to squeeze into the last two available chairs. We sat at a table of friendly strangers all looking to get the most out of the experience. The dude sitting next to me was a little boorish, but got his comeuppance in the end. The crowd in general had the right attitude. Everyone was raring to go and, while loud, people were rarely dickish. There was a moment when the host was trying to explain the rules to the bar, only to be faced with drunken murmurs. It really brought home how similar drunkards are to children.

The rules (as far as I can remember) were as follows:

  • Whenever someone onscreen is running, everybody drinks.
  • Each table was assigned a Stalker (bad guy). Whenever they appeared onscreen you had to cheer your lungs out for them. Ours was the quick-to-perish Sub Zero.
  • One player at each table is designated the Cup Master. At any point they can drop a chocolate coin in the cup and everyone has to start “climbing for dollars” (it’s a film in-joke). Whoever the last person to climb is (miming a climbing action) has to drink. Whenever a Stalker appears on screen, the Cup Master gets passed to the person on their left.

There were also individual rules on each table. A stack of cards were face down and got randomly distributed around the table. If you had a Personal Rule, you flipped it up and let everyone see. When your condition was met, you had to drink. If you didn’t, anyone else could press the buzzer and remind you to do it. Some of the rules I saw were:

  • Take a drink whenever ICS (evil agency) appears on screen (pretty damn often).
  • Take two drinks whenever “Bakersfield” is mentioned.
  • Take a drink whenever a “code” is input.
  • Take a drink whenever Arnie has a cheesy one-liner.
  • Take a drink whenever someone dies onscreen (fucking brutal).

There were also a subset of Secret Rules. These ones you didn’t show to the group, but whenever their condition was met you pressed the buzzer and made someone drink. You didn’t have to reveal why, they just had to trust you that they’d fucked up. My secret rule was making someone take two drinks whenever they referenced another Schwarzenegger movie or role. I caught surprisingly few people, so by the end I resorted to entrapment techniques of making my own Arnie references, causing others to burst into their own.

I can’t tell you much about the movie, because I spent most of it drinking. It was rad seeing other tables all going through the same experiences in their little microcosms. Seeing who had gotten which conceit and how their responses reflected your table’s. There was a sense of camaraderie with the communal drinking cards. Every once in a while you’d catch other tables “climbing for dollars” or laughing uproariously. The boorish dude ended up getting the “drink when someone dies” rule and wound up passed out face down on our table. The movie was violent and the game, accordingly, left few survivors.

My friend and I had a total blast and I won a spot prize of store credit to a video rental place. So shout out to Queen Video, I guess? I half-wish I had any home video technology that could play your rentals, just to get use out of my win. It was a messy night of good (not so) clean fun and if you’re in Toronto, you should check out their I Know What You Did Last Summer double feature next month.

Because what good is a liver you don’t regularly test anyway?

Too bad there were no Good VibraSHUNS.

NEVER FORGET. Unless you never knew. In which case, LEARN AND REMEMBER.

I think it’s pretty important that people don’t forget what a piece of shit Mark Wahlberg is. At the age of 15, little Marky Mark followed a group of black schoolgirls on a field trip and threw rocks at them, shouting racial epithets. At the age of 16 he perpetrated two Vietnamese men on the same night. Total strangers. He bashed the first over the head with a large wooden stick and punched the second in the eye. Marky Mark served all of 45 days of a two year prison sentence and was let out. In 2015 he sought a pardon for this 1988 attack, to have it stricken from his record. Marky Mark is a garbage person and it’s fucking crazy that he has a career. In all honesty it’s probably because he’s white, good looking and successful.

It’s criminally unfair what a raw deal a black person would’ve faced under the same charges. Who do you think the world hates more? Mark Wahlberg or Kanye West? I’ve no doubt in saying Kanye. Kanye possesses a bizarrely entitled grandeur, which would seem almost performance art if it wasn’t so consistent (and I say this as a fan). He’s no doubt arrogant, self-obsessed and an asshole. He runs his mouth off a bunch (which, isn’t always a bad thing) and is more than a tad eccentric. Kanye also has never to my knowledge been arrested for aggravated racial violence. I mean, as far as backgrounds are concerned, Kanye’s a nice college boy. In the court of public opinion though, he’s basically literally hitler. Wahlberg seems to have come off pretty unscathed. Seems at least a little unfair, don’cha think?

Something I learned on the other hand, is that the 1981 movie Roar exists. Melanie Griffith (the most recognisable name) co-starred with her real life parents Noel Marshall (who directed) and Tippi Hedren. That’s not the odd part. The odd part is that this movie was filmed over 11 years. The story of a family being attacked by large numbers of predatory jungle animals. Oh wait, that doesn’t sound batshit insane yet? THEY WERE REAL FUCKING ANIMALS AND PEOPLE GOT LEGIT MAULED. At least 70 members of the cast and crew were injured, with many sustaining LIFE THREATENING INJURIES. Take a second to appreciate this excerpt from Wikipedia:

Over 70 of the cast and crew were injured during the production of this film. Cinematographer Jan de Bont had his scalp lifted by a lion, resulting in 220 stitches. Tippi Hedren received a fractured leg and also had scalp wounds. This occurred after an elephant bucked her off its back while she was riding it. She was also bitten in the neck by a lion and required 38 stitches. This incident can also be seen in the film.

People got fucked up. Melanie Griffith had 50 stitches in her face and somehow managed to avoid being physically scarred. Noel Marshall got attacked by the lions so often that he developed gangrene. A bunch of the injuries actually made it into the final film. I hope the cast (and cats) had a union. Worst of all, the film went on to be a total critical failure and was never released in the US. I’m still not sure whether or not I want to see the film, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be boring at least. How would that have ever been a good idea?

If only Mark Wahlberg had starred in the film instead. I’m sure “it wouldn’t have went down like it did.”

I considered making this a Hirsute Yourself entry, but it was a bit on the fringe.

I don’t know how much further procrastination I can do. It’s 10:20pm and I obviously haven’t finished today’s writing yet. In fact, I’m about as far as you’ve currently read. I’ve been meaning to get around to it for the past three or so hours, but each time I find another excuse to not get around to it. First it was dinner, then watching Fargo, then dishes, etc. The internet itself was pretty damn distracting, whether it was random Magic the Gathering content, Facebook or AV Club reviews. By now though, I’ve run out of those meagre excuses and anything further would be tantamount to self-sabotage. With no pressing subject matter on my mind, it’s gonna be a bullet point kind of entry:

  • I got a mediocre haircut today. My usual salon (oh, we fancy) was closed so I roamed Bloor St in search of anywhere that was open. I’ve got a wedding coming up next weekend and I wanted to make sure I got it clipped by then. I figured I had spare time and it’d free up the pressure to get it done during the week. I ended up in a barber shop close to Bathurst. My barber had started his shift while I was waiting and I was his first cut of the day. If he had any fucks to give yet, he certainly wasn’t wearing them on his sleeves. It was a pretty basic cut. The guy I normally go to does all kinds of fancy texturing and whatnot, plus he knows how I like my fringe. This guy did not. He seemed pretty chuffed with the job he’d done and I’ve always had a hard time bucking up and asking hairdressers to fix things. The cut was surprisingly four dollars more expensive than my usual one. Plus the fringe was noticeably cringeworthy. It’s basically the most noticeable thing about hair on a face. I guess it’s kind of a big deal. Hours later I stood looking at myself in the mirror, not stoked with how things looked. Against my better judgement, I reached into the bathroom drawer and pulled out a pair of small hair scissors. I have no experience cutting my own hair. I’m not aesthetically gifted in basically any fashion. Knowing these things, I decided that it looked terrible enough to take action. He’d cut my fringe in a straight line on an angle, so it looked like a weird, flat, lopsided ‘U’. I took the scissors and started making small snips to break up the strange curve. Give it a bit of texture, y’know? With each cut, I felt less confident about what I was doing. Still, I made sure to keep things asymmetrical. Then after a few more cuts I began feeling incrementally more confident. I put the scissors down and took a look. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better. Easy to ignore. I’d said fie to my worries and come out on top. Also I learned my lesson to never again take chances in my life. Or at least my hair. It turns out shitty most every time.
  • As always, I had a weird dream last night. I remember none of it except for giving my girlfriend this sage advice: “Well if you like farting and sitting then maybe you’d be into pooping.” True wisdom.
  • Saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 yesterday. Without any spoilers, it was an incredibly enjoyable film. The kind of film where you don’t want it to end because one scene after another you’re having such a blast. The soundtrack was awesome (having become such an integral part of the film), the colour palette was gorgeous, the battle scenes were fantastically set out. Really, really funny. Concurrently, I’m not sure it was a ‘good’ movie per se. It didn’t do a ton to advance the overall narrative or characters. That being said, I love that they made the decision to create a wonderfully engaging movie experience instead of leaning hard into the Marvel Infinity War through line. It’s also hard to feel like this criticism meant that the film didn’t succeed at everything it set out to do. So many fun character moments and sequences. I had a great time seeing a big budget blockbuster. I don’t know that I expected them to deliver anything more than that.

There, finished. Now I can finally get around to procrastinating about going to bed.

Why do they keep making Oscars even though D2: The Mighty Ducks already exists?

In less than 24 hours, the movers and shakers of Hollywood’s cultural elite will come together to bestow the finest honours upon filmmakers and actors alike for their cinematic achievements over the past year. I ask you now, why? Why do we continue to celebrate the film industry’s output year after year, when the critically underrated 1994 masterpiece D2: The Mighty Ducks already exists?

The story of Team USA’s journey to the Junior Goodwill Games, D2, is a rich tapestry of overcoming adversity through the trials and tribulations of high level competitive sports. A film so emotionally compelling and well acted that Entertainment Weekly mentions it “now includes token members representing both sexes as well as major races, religions, and regions.” Wow!

Sure, Moonlight may have brought a tear to your eyes with its inspired use of Barbara Lewis’ “Hello Stranger” in the diner scene, but For Your Consideration, could anything match the raw emotional catharsis of Emilio et al singing Queen’s “We Are The Champions” around a campfire? I didn’t think so. And with all the hubbub about the Academy Awards’ lack of diversity (anyone remember #OscarsSoWhite?) what could’ve been more diverse than bringing together team members from as far away as Minnesota and Illinois? Heartwarming!

The Oscars have always been a forum for celebrating the truest love stories in cinematic history. Really though, while the budding romance between Jack and Rose in 1997’s indie darling Titanic may have captured our hearts (and The Oscars’ eponymous golden statue), does it really hold a candle to Coach Gordon Bombay rediscovering his enduring love of the game? Or his fiery romance with the steadfastly Icelandic Marria? Or his fatherly affection for star player Charlie Conway? When you actually think about it, it’s a downright travesty that The Academy never brought itself to gild what is unquestionably the greatest love story of our time.

At the end of the day, The Academy Awards were created to shine a light on the films that inspire passion, to make us aspire to reach for the stars. Sure, William Wallace’s “Freedom” speech was enough to lead the Scots against the English in the face of almost certain death, but could it have helped them defeat the juggernauts of ice hockey; Team Iceland? Not on your life, son! Just think, if Coach Bombay had been there to teach them that “ducks fly together”, maybe things would’ve turned out differently. Maybe Brexit never would’ve happened. That’s not only the power to change lives, but to change history! If that kind of time travel capability isn’t Oscar worthy, then maybe I just don’t know what is.

Look, I’m not trying to be controversial here. All I’m saying is that if The Oscars really cared about celebrating the best that cinema has to offer, they would’ve seen the futility of subsequent ceremonies from the moment the knuckle puck graced the silver screen.

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.

Sunshine doesn’t carry the same amount of critical acclaim. Blame Cliff Curtis.

This one may be up a little late (as if anyone is that litigious about these things). I’ve got my suspicions and we’ll see if they’re confirmed. I’m expecting that my girlfriend is trying to throw a surprise birthday party. I had my “birthday party” two weeks early of my actual birthday. At the same time I hadn’t had an actual Toronto birthday. I feel like something was up. She mentioned a night cooking together at home alone (which could’ve been any other night of the week). Then she checked whether or not I’d seen her Facebook page. After which, the super big clue, when she told me I’d be missing out by not drinking over a weekend because of Call of Cthulhu. She rarely turns away my decision to not drink. It’s not like we were lacking for spare time. It’s a Saturday and I’ve had a full day out. Original plans were to play another round of Call of Cthulhu, our RPG campaign held by our game master extraordinaire. Either he tends to overstuff his campaigns or we ask too many questions, in any case, one shot campaigns usually end up taking two or three sessions instead. Because we’re trying to mobilise six people altogether, instead of being weekly, we do what we can. Which is a nice way of saying that it’s often months.

In any case, our game master had to work double overnights and our game was cancelled. So my girlfriend and I hit the movies. Plural. After catching Moonlight we snuck into Manchester By The Sea. Sorry not sorry. Two VERY different movies. Moonlight was fantastic, harrowing, inspiring, gorgeous and filled with shaky camera work. Within minutes I felt nauseous, and considerably ill by the end of it. Which is a major pity, cause there really was some stunning character work and cinematography. I loved what I saw when the camera was still, and when it wasn’t I just looked at the floor. Regardless, many tears were shed. Especially with a couple of the musical cues.
***
Okay, so admittedly I’m seven hours into a “surprise” party  that I expected. People have come and gone. I had mass amounts of love around me, buoyed by onesies and booze and puns. I can’t imagine anything more Leon than that. Just for good measure, I threw on some Neil Cicieraga. I have a lot of people here in Toronto who love me. A number who enrich my existence, who with no exaggerations make my life worth living. That could also be very much my drunkenness typing. There were good humans here tonight, which was a testament to Toronto denizens.
Despite the long day. Despite the two movies (the second of which I’ve barely talked about), I’ve had a day where I’ve dealt with the amazing humanity around me. I’m a lucky guy, and luckier still to have a girlfriend who not only knows best, but cares.

I guess that Point Break came after her breaking point.

It takes a long time to fly half way around the world. With four hours left of my third flight in a row, my bum can sure testify to that. My tailbone in particular is furious. Real “I am Jack’s raging tailbone” kind of stuff. My body has decided to cramp and groan all over, so sitting in my seat feels more like writhing in discomfort. I wonder if United wants to adopt that as their new slogan. I don’t know if the phrase “familiarity breeds contempt” was coined for insomnia purposes, but after upping the ante and taking two melatonin pills, I’ve had a hard time getting much more than 20 minutes sleep per hour. I did just have the inimitable pleasure of shitting through turbulence. No typo. I love turbulence. I have enough faith in statistics to assume we’re gonna be perfectly safe and on the odd chance that we’re not, I won’t have very long to worry about it. When you’re sitting on the bog, bouncing up and down while holding on to an assistance rail, it just seems more adventurous. I don’t want to say that the one downside to riding a horse is not being able to shit on the go (without being bucked off), but if you’d ever been craving that unique experience, shitting through turbulence must be pretty damn close.

It’s been a peculiar day, as surely only an entire day navigating through transit and transit hubs can be. I guess expecting too much out of airports would be… hubris? To be honest, they haven’t been that lousy. Overinflated prices for sure. I’m not even gonna think about how much that bento cost. Still, San Francisco was nice, with bouncy horizontal travellators and the always enticing opportunity to eat Boston style clam chowder from a bread bowl (your quality and mileage may vary). After grabbing Japanese for dinner, we quickly found some seats and discarded plastic champagne flutes to do our Toronto New Years countdown/kiss. We made our duty free stop all of ten minutes before our flight was due to board, but weren’t allowed to carry our duty free to the gate (where we were directly heading). Instead we had to go to the gate and wait for the DFS service staff to deliver our goods at said gate. It’s the first time my alcohol has ever had an entourage. OH YEEEAH!

To be honest, the flights themselves have been fine. No real issue with food, decent entertainment, friendly staff, they don’t charge for blankets (which may indicate how low the bar is set for air transit these days. Thanks WestJet). The first flight, after an unusual 40 minute taxi, was smooth and a mere hour long. I spent the entire time listening to an old Harmontown episode. There was a sublime moment with a mom and daughter, both with long blonde hair. Sitting across the aisle from one another, entirely unprompted, pulled out hair ties and pulled their flowing locks into buns. The elderly woman sitting across from us was the oldest woman I’ve ever seen in my life. Not necessarily in age, but in mannerisms. She started ripping articles from the in flight magazine to save from later. She then began writing short emails to friends and family with strange capitalisation. 20 minutes before the flight ended she stated using the in-flight entertainment app, spent 15 minutes deciding what to watch and, with five minutes remaining in transit, settled on the Point Break remake.

The second flight, five hours in duration, went by pretty quickly thanks to the aforementioned in-flight entertainment. I’d heard great things about Your Name, a 2016 anime. The movie was about a guy and gal who began randomly finding themselves in each other’s bodies as they awoke. It sounds a lot more gimmicky than the touching, compelling film it turned out to be. A couple of twists and turns accompanied by stunning visuals and an emotionally manipulative score meant I basically spent most of my flight alternating between laughing and sobbing inconsolably. Especially after the next film I watched, Captain Fantastic. A quirky but earnest film about a father being left to raise his (six or seven. I lost count) children alone in the bush after their mother passes away. The film is a hell of a lot more layered than that, but I’d hate to give too much away. Viggo (can’t spell his last name) is in the titular rule (I guess. Nobody explicitly calls him Captain Fantastic, but it’s sort of implied), with a tremendous cast of young talents. I once again cried many times, but an equal ratio of happy to sad cries. A truly wonderful film.

But then the sound jack on my 12.5 hour flight was fucked and I couldn’t really watch stuff. So here we are. Anyway, I need to go. I’ve got a well sized turd waiting in the wings. Fingers crossed for turbulence.