Now that’s over with, can I get a redux?

I’ve consumed a lot of coffee today. I can’t give you a good reason as to why. Suffice to say I’m underworked and understimulated and one of these seemed more fun to fix than the other.

The outcome was twofold. Firstly, I listened to a hell of a lot of K-pop. I’ve been joking with a friend of mine about attending a K-pop gig for a while. At some point, it stopped being a joke and became something we decided to commit to. A couple of weeks ago we found a gig and put down money for the tickets. I was talking with a co-worker today about actually learning K-pop music. To date, I’d only really watched a multitude of videos on silent while eating gamjatang. If I was gonna dance to K-pop, the experience would be exponentially more enjoyable with added familiarity. Plus I’m not into half-assing most anything. I found a playlist on Deezer and started listening.

I fucking loved it. The ballads are kind of boring, but the more danceable stuff is a glorious fusion of world musics, brought together under a catchy mantle. I’m getting irrationally excited for this gig, but that may just be the unhealthy amount of coffee speaking.

I did say twofold, didn’t I? The other fold was as thus. As a kind of book-end to my online dating experiences, I wrote the following post for my Facebook friends:


After deciding to leave online dating, I had a thought last night.

I miss the experience of dating, of creating new/deepening emotional connections with people. Also being Toronto, I have a myriad of friends I don’t get to see enough.

In an intentional manner, I’d like to both recreate the experience of dating and further casual non-sexual intimacy with the people I love in my life: My friends.

I want to start going on “dates” with friends. I want to have new experiences and dig deep into all those squishy feelings I have for so many of you. I want to do stuff, but with the conceit that “this is a date”. Let’s play with the set-up that we’re trying to bring the best out in one another and grow closer as a result. Let’s learn more about each other and connect on an emotionally intimate level. To be honest, I think this is most of what I’d be looking for out of internet dating, but the fun part is getting to do it with people I already know I like.

Let’s go to concerts, events, active excursions, personal scavenger hunts, play 21 questions or spend a day doing our best Green Card re-enactment.

If this is something you think would be fun, let me know. The next time I’m itching for a date, I’ll reach out. If you have no plans one evening and want a date, message me.

It should go without saying that gender couldn’t be more irrelevant. In case it hasn’t, dudes, very much get at me too.


I hope this has given you whatever closure you were seeking. My life may be an open book, but that doesn’t mean it’s without chapters.


If you’re not into it, “jog on” would be an altogether apt response

I went for a jog last night for the first time in ages. Things are warming up here in Toronto and it was a balmy -1°C. My nose didn’t run that much, my fingers barely froze and my joints were only mildly clunky. Inhaling oxygen wasn’t remotely like swallowing blades. I stretched out my decrepit limbs, tossed on the Black Panther soundtrack and set off down the road.

Listening to the soundtrack, I started thinking about music that’s been released so far this year. Black Panther ended up being so much more than a score to a film (especially since so many of its fantastic tracks didn’t even make it into the finished movie). Kendrick managed to weave together an assortment of songs that stood on their own, playing on larger ideas and concepts the film brought to life. Saying that it seems effortlessly engrossing probably betrays the amount of work put into the album, but it’s such an enjoyable listen.

I then thought about Janelle Monae’s song “Make Me Feel”, which might already be my favourite track of the year, regardless of what else is released. It’s simply incredible and, well, I have a lot of gushy and effusive thoughts. It’s so funky and sensual. It’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve been able to shamelessly listen to it on repeat. The production is tight, the influences are worn on its sleeve (or they will be if it gets a vinyl release) and the video is gorgeous.

As I jogged, I wondered if there was some way of preserving the resonance of these songs in some kind of time capsule. To take what I’d been enjoying and catalogue it for the sake of retrospection. Would they hit me the same way a year down the line? A few years down the line? I’ve always been a fan of putting together playlists, why not turn this into an excuse for one more? The idea came to me, why not make an annual playlist? I could pick my favourite song each month and add them to the stack as the year went on. February could obviously be “Make Me Feel”. January could be “All the Stars” from Black Panther (unfortunately the rest of the album was released in February. Otherwise my answer would clearly be “Redemption” by Zacari and Babes Wodumo). It seemed a low effort way to produce a punchy snapshot of an audible year. Perfect for the gym or more jogs. Best of all, it could jog my memory. Eh? EH?

Thinking of this made me realise how much more attention I used to pay to the music I consumed. I mean, for sure I still really get a kick out of finding a new release. When something grabs me I listen obsessively, as if to absorb it into my very being. And yet, I’ve lost the thirst for knowledge surrounding music. In most ways, this is great. I know a huge part of my desperate search to seek out what was new and fresh definitely had roots in an identity I was trying to cultivate. I desperately wanted to be cool and part of that for me was being on top of pop-cultural movers and shakers. At 31, my desire to discover new music is more pure. It’s a sincere wish to consume art that speaks to some part of me. Even if that’s just a track that makes me nod my head or move my hips.

This playlist concept is kind of exciting to me. It’d help me refresh myself on the cool releases throughout the year. Occasionally I’ll wholly forget large albums that dropped, but this will help me cement exactly what it was I loved about them in the first place. The more I talk about it, the more I’m convincing myself I need to get onto it right away. It’s only two songs so far, I can manage that, right?

Losing my edge would cut me like a knife.

I have consumed a quantity of coffee that has transported me outside of liminal time. I’m not sure when I am, so I figure I might as well roll with whatever flashes through my noggin. When should I start?

I once saw a woman sitting on a bench holding a small dog in one hand and a chandelier in another. I had no context for the encounter. Equally, I’ve got no desire to find out what led to that moment. It feels like it’d ruin the magic. I’m choosing to believe that she’d not only vanished between liminal time, but space. Any logic of this situation could only be parsed by quantum mechanics and frankly, I don’t have time or space for that. I guess you could say she seemed… quarky? I sense a phase shift coming on.

Spike Jonze just put out this advert and I think it’s all kinds of nifty. Look, I find intrusive and clumsy advertising as annoying as the rest of you do. That being said, it’s rare for me to tire of gushing over the great advertising I grew up with. Adverts in NZ were sarcastic, clever and really delivered on their objectives. Good advertising is effective, tells a story and makes your customer wonder why they don’t already have the product in their lives. In this case, maybe it delivers? I’m not 100% sure, but it’s sure as hell pretty as fuck. All music videos are advertisements anyway, right? It just so happens that in this one you’ve got Anderson .Paak’s gorgeously smooth vocals, FKA Twigs dancing up a storm of interpretive dance, the wonderfully imaginative visual stylings of Jonze and it’s all wrapped up in a tidy four minute clip. I was never gonna be the target market for a Smart Home device, but I’m sure if you were, the idea of being served an ideal soundtrack at will would be enough to sell you on it. Speaking of which, let’s jump back a week or so.

I was in Austin chatting with friends. We were talking specifically about these home devices, algorithmic learning and soundtracks. I was saying how on a personal level, I have an innate fear of this technology. Fear might be a bit strong, but it makes me feel uneasy. In my head it goes to a place where we no longer take an active role in choosing what we consume. There’s maybe a chip or something inside of us that just knows what we’ll enjoy. I’m sure the technology will get accurate enough to make it a reality. There’s a non-insignificant part of my identity that’s tied up in what I consume.

When something hits all the right beats for me, it feels like it’s added to my life. Whether this is music or a great narrative. Part of the satisfaction that comes from accessing those highs is going through the lows for contrast. Great music shines so brightly because terrible music exists. I can get bowled over completely by everything about Janelle Monáe’s new track “Make Me Feel” in part because in 1998 Shaun Mullins released his misguided tyre fire “Lullaby”. Seriously that song is so excruciating it becomes a physical sensation. “Make Me Feel“, on the other hand feels like a reward for endurance. If everything was perfect, then nothing would transcend. It’d all just be wallpaper. One of my most gratifying recurrent experiences is recommending something to a friend based on how well I know them. I’ll take their personality and preferences into account. I’ll factor their sensibilities, brand of humour and capacity for certain types of content to figure out whether or not they’ll jive with my suggestion. I’m not shooting 100% here, but having a friend come back to me thanking me for sharing is such a wonderful sensation. It tells me that I know them well enough to understand what they’re looking for, but also points to a growth in our kinship, that we both resonated with the same content in some fashion. I feel closer to them for having had that experience.

If a machine is gonna come and take that away from me, what do I have left? I’ll just be here caffeinating myself out of the timeline.

By the way, have you ever heard of this cartoon called The Simpsons?

So I was listening to The Beatles this morning and they were pretty great. Yeah, you head me. The motherflippin’ Beatles. Stick that recommendation in your pipe and smoke it.

Yeah, I’m being glib, but also not. It’s hard to be both broader and more unnecessary than so The Beatles were pretty good, eh? Thing is, I was having a fantastic time. The temperature has jumped maybe ten degrees in the last day or two. I even had a real sleep last night. Everything was in its right place for The Fucking Beatles to make sense for my morning commute. It’s not like I was pulling some deep cut either. Have you ever heard the remix album Love? I think they put it together for Cirque du Soleil or something. In essence it’s a condensed version of The Beatles experience. It’s their big hits, but with new arrangements. They’ve tossed in sound effects, isolated vocal samples and played around with the tracking. Samples are taken from throughout the band’s catalogue and rearranged into an expansive soundbed. It’s pretty neat. I was walking through my day, but it held this innately theatrical tone. I mean, of course it did, the album was designed for the theatre. I’m not blowing anyone’s mind here.

I’m not proud of it, but for the longest time I had this deep seated belief that artistic merit was intrinsically tied to being outside of the mainstream. I sought out new and underground sounds and eschewed the popular for the downtrodden and discarded. I found particular critics and outlets that peddled in what I considered cutting edge. It made me feel like I was special, seeing the world through my own lens. In reality, while I was avoiding the mainstream I was still following a stream of some variety. My disregard for “the dull catalogue of common things” didn’t speak to any kind of heightened tastes. It took far too long for me to realise that you like what you like and that’s all that matters. Nobody is better or worse because of the media they consume. That’s just buying into another line. It’s dumb. We can’t say why certain art speaks to us, but we should heed when art does speak to us. If consuming something lifts us, we owe it to ourselves to ascend with it. That’s not as trite as it sounds.

Every once in a while I find myself questioning what it is I like about something. Why, as a teenager, did the frenetic energy of System of a Down and Faith No More find a mirrored beating in my heart? What is it about the twinkling intro of Wouldn’t It Be Nice that puts me into a certain emotional state? In the search for which art lights a fire in my heart, I can also search for what parts of my personality are drawn to that flame.

Is this all gobbledigook? For sure. It’s the issue with trying to say multiple things at once. In listening to Love this morning, it helped me take in The Beatles in a whole new manner. As I’ve aged, The Beatles’ relevance has shifted in my life. It’s strange listening to the complex arrangements and isolated elements from throughout their career. I think how the fuck did four British twentysomethings create such lush sonic pastures? I’ll hear “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and think Oh, this is fine but unremarkable, then “Get Back” will wash into my ears and blow my brain out my arse. I’ll hear the song for the thousandth time and in some ways it’ll be the first. The song hasn’t changed, but why then does that line stick out that always just faded into the background? What’s shifted in me that this line is suddenly apparent? Who even was I when I first heard it? How did I see the world? How will I see it in ten years?

It’s not like The Beatles are going anywhere.

I remember that time that you told me, you said “Love is touching souls”.

I was listening to James Blake in the morning commute. No particular reason, I hadn’t heard him for a while. I figured I’d start with the Enough Thunder EP. When I got to “Case of You”, I put down the phone and really listened. I had a seat. The song’s outpouring of emotion had me stuck fast. When I got to the end I skipped back to the start, closed my eyes and listened again. I was pulled deep into a catharsis, releasing something held back by the stifling regimen of the commute.

I stepped away from the irritation of constantly moving my large bag so as not to inconvenience others, of contorting my body around other people and their baggage (literal and metaphorical). Of trying to be considerate of making space. Of encouraging other passengers to move into unoccupied areas of the train so potential passengers wouldn’t be stranded at the station for no reason. Everyone just wanted to get to work, so the best course of action was to make room for as many as possible. As Blake’s voice washed over me, I forgot all that. I thought back to when I first heard the song, working late nights at Sky TV. I thought of Joni Mitchell, who wrote the original. I thought of a Sunday morning post drinking at age 20. I walked into a room to find one of my friends peacefully listening to “Big Yellow Taxi”, humming along, blissfully unaware anyone else was awake.

I realised I didn’t know much of Joni Mitchell’s oeuvre and resolved to hear more. When I got to the office I put on Blue and went about my work. Something about the sound pulled me back to my childhood, to my parents. I’m not sure that my parents necessarily listened to Joni, but there was something in her sound that brought a scene to mind. In this mental snapshot it was night time. My parents must’ve been having friends over. We were all in the lounge. The long curtains and trusty old speakers stood out to me. The mood was jovial, adults chatting amicably, glasses filled with deep red wine. Plates were piled high and a couple of us kids were scattered around. The conversation was mostly going over our heads, but we were just excited to be around the adults that late. I don’t even know if this ever took place, but picturing it brought rise to feelings of safety, comfort and contentment.

As the album went on, it gave birth to some simple fantasy in my mind’s eye. In this fantasy my girlfriend and I go out to meet friends for lunch somewhere. We’re all a little older. The meal is great and laughter fills the table from start to finish. Phones are nowhere to be seen. We’re totally present and in the moment. We’re getting nostalgic over past adventures, stories we’d forgotten to the ages. It’s a long overdue catch-up and we revel in the affection we hold for each other. The warmth is abundant and it’s hard to keep from smiling. As we settle up and prepare to head on out, we all realise we have no particular plans. Maybe someone needs to run an errand in the surrounding shops and we decide to tag along and meander with them. The rapport continues as we mess around. It’s fantastic. Everyone’s doing bits and lifting one another up. We’re having a time.

The weather starts to take a turn and an idea sparks in my head. Why don’t we keep this party going, duck into a bottle shop and head back to ours? Everyone’s on board and we follow suit. We grab a couple of bottles of wine, order a car and pile in. The driver picks up on the vibe and turns out to be really interesting in their own right. We learn something new and by the time we’ve arrived, it felt like we shared a moment. It’s pissing down, so we rush the front door and get in as quick as we can. We’re all a little soaked, but the heat was left on. It’s beautifully balmy and inviting, despite our wet clothes. We figure we’re all friends and there’s nothing we haven’t seen of one another, so we all end up stripping down to various states of undress. Maybe someone’s still cold and they’re lent a plush garment. What we’re wearing doesn’t matter one iota, but what does matter is that we’re all abundantly comfortable.

My girlfriend grabs some glasses and I head to the stereo to toss on music. It’s something universally familiar, say The Big Chill soundtrack. Pillows and blankets are everywhere and we all cosy up with one another. We’re all chatting amicably, excited to be together. A song comes on and it sparks a memory for one of us. A long, heartfelt story is told, one we’ve never heard before, and we all feel privileged to be have shared in it. We realise it’s been a while since lunch and someone rounds up snacks while we all resolve to order takeout. We opt for candles in lieu of overhead light. The night continues in much the same vein. We lounge around, filled with wine, food, memories and song. The warmth we feel is in sharp juxtaposition to the storm raging outside. There’s an unspoken quality in the air that’s simply the representation of being excited to be together with the rest of the world on pause. The hours drag later. Wine swaps out for scotch and the music grows softer. Eventually it gets late enough that we realise we’re softly drifting off. It’s time to part ways. The storm has lifted. Nothing’s lost in leaving, because we’re all so filled to the brim with everything we could need. We don’t want for anything. A car is called and our friends get dressed to go. It arrives, we share long hugs and resolve to do it again sometime. There’s a note in the way it’s said that carries with it meaning. We know it’s not an empty gesture. Our friends head off into the night and we’re left with a warm, quiet house. One of us turns to the other and says “that was nice. Like, really really nice.” There’s no point in disagreeing.

That’s how I want to grow old.

This is both The and A List.

With the year coming to a close, year end lists are all the rage. Without further ado, with no additional commentary, here are some things I enjoyed in 2017. I’ll at least sort them into sections. Note, they may not even all be from 2017. Maybe I just discovered them this year. No doubt I’ll forget a bunch. I’m not paying that much attention:


  • The Big Sick
  • Logan
  • Spider Man: Homecoming
  • Killing of a Sacred Deer
  • Baby Driver
  • I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore
  • The Florida Project
  • Okja
  • Kong: Skull Island
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Get Out
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • It


  • Legion
  • Trial and Error
  • Dear White People
  • Crazy Ex Girlfriend Season 3
  • Master of None Season 2
  • You’re The Worst Season 3
  • American Gods
  • Catastrophe Season 3
  • Better Things Season 2
  • The Good Place Season 2
  • GLOW
  • American Vandal
  • BoJack Horseman Season 3
  • Big Mouth
  • The Katering Show
  • Rick & Morty Season 3
  • Please Like Me
  • Crashing


  • Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked At Me
  • The National – Sleep Well Beast
  • LCD Soundsystem – Self Titled
  • Father John Misty – Fear Fun
  • Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory
  • SZA – Ctrl
  • Kelela – Take Me Apart
  • Jlin – Black Origami
  • Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
  • Sylvan Esso – What Now
  • Fever Ray – Plunge
  • Zola Jesus – Okovi
  • LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
  • St Vincent – Masseduction
  • Fleet Foxes – Crack Up
  • Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
  • Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 3
  • Lorde – Melodrama
  • Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
  • Neil Cicierega – Mouth Moods

Comedy Specials

  • Vir Das – Abroad Understanding
  • Rory Scovel Tries Stand-Up For The First Time
  • Patton Oswalt – Annihilation
  • Hasan Minhaj – Homecoming King
  • Chris Gethard – Career Suicide

Comedians I saw

  • Chris Gethard
  • Chris Locke
  • Chris Robinson
  • Gina Yashere
  • Hari Kondabolu
  • Kyle Kinane
  • Liza Treyger
  • Max Silvestri
  • Morgan Murphy
  • Rory Scovel
  • Roy Wood Jr.
  • Sara Hennessey
  • Sasheer Zamata
  • W. Kamau Bell
  • John Mulaney

Video Games

  • Cuphead

I guess now you know what I did with my time.

After all those puns, who wouldn’t consider me a lunatic?

First review in a while. As always once it goes up on the mothership, I’ll change this entry to a link.

Get yourself a band that can send you to the moon. Failing that, get yourself a band that can bring the moon to you. July Talk, in a stellar Massey Hall show, did just that. Their debut performance at the beloved Toronto venue managed to be both special and spatial. Flanked by a planetary backdrop and massive floating moon balloon, they brought an otherworldly spectacle to an adoring crowd.

Did that come off as too cute? Blame the band, whose charismatic leads bring a sultry energy to their live sets. The vocal interplay between Peter Dreimanis’ gravelly bourbon and Leah Fay’s smoky punch forms their iconic sound, which shines on the stage. The two bring together Nick Cave swagger and bratty spunk, complemented by a talented band. There’s a stylish anachronism to the nine piece ensemble, which features Motown style backup singers, two full drum kits, dirty rock guitar and an abundance of keys. In short, it’s one hell of a show.

There was a dynamic energy throughout. The stage was a constant blur of movement and crowd engagement. Peter and Leah would sink down and sing directly to the front row or grasp their hands tightly. Whether it was a rollicking rock number or a somber ballad, the band’s intensity never wavered. They gave themselves to the sound and the audience lapped it up.

So often performances will be defined by one memorable moment. July Talk kept those moments coming. There was Dreimanis thanking his 92 year old grandmother for coming to see him perform (prompting crowd chants of “grandma, grandma, grandma”), or Fay walking through the crowd to serenade a concertgoer face to face. A surprise guest performance by Toronto singer-songwriter Jason Collett (of Broken Social Scene fame), or the tender Leonard Cohen cover “If It Be Your Will” with (five month pregnant) guest vocalist Elisapie.

As Leah brought down the floating moon in their final song, “The Garden”, there was a sense that we’d arrived. Equal parts ascension and send off, it was a charming way to say farewell to a good night.