Or maybe the song’s about tumours. Who knows?

I miss my iPod. Not having a good portable media device is doing weird things to my already weird brain.

I’ve had a cavalcade of odd songs stuck in my head. For going on two weeks, I’ve had will i am’s verse from “My Humps” popping in and out of my subconsciousness. For those fortunate enough to have skipped it, check out my very real nightmare:

“I met a girl down at the disco
She said hey hey hey ya lets go
I can be ya baby, you could be my honey
Let’s spend time not money
And mix your milk with my coco puff
Milky milky coco
Mix your milk with my coco puff
Milky milky
Right”

It’s quite not good. The whole song is, truly. I’m way past the intentionally contrarian music tastes of my early 20s, but that song still sucks a big one. Anyway, I was biking home last night at about 1am, and the rest of the song was playing through my head. I got confused about Fergie’s nomenclature for her bits. While the song is called “My Humps”, in the chorus she repeatedly sings “my hump my hump my hump”. Singular, not plural. But then she also refers to her “lovely lady lumps in the back and in the front”. I’m guessing that means boobs and butt, but then what’s the hump? Singular? Does she have one fused buttock/boob? Or some kind of bony growth on her spine? Like, extreme scoliosis? If that’s the case and the song is all about her owning particular unconventional body growths, I might be slightly more on board. Somehow, I doubt it.

Since it was announced that Swamp Thing was making a prime time comeback, I’ve had the theme from the animated show moving in and out of my brain lobes. Unlike “My Humps”, it’s a goddamn delight. The whole thing is a rad as fuck riff on “Wild Thing” by The Troggs. Listen to this: Greasy 80s guitars, weird cartoony sfx, and a significant cheesy quotient (reminder, I’m into the Oxford comma now). It’s been kind of a blessing. I find myself singing it as I grind coffee in the mornings, or occasionally bursting into laughter in public because it’s still in my head, two months down the line.

“Down to the River to Pray” is another one. From the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. I know it’s weird not to have “Man of Constant Sorrow” tucked in there. It’s still a bop. Weirdly, I’ve been singing it with a closed mouth. I don’t know why. It’s this thing I’ve been doing for goofs lately. Like, I’ll have my mouth mostly closed save for a thin parting of the lips, and I’ll sing. Full articulation within my mouth. Actually pronouncing the words and everything, but muffled. It’s funny, sounds like you’re hearing singing from another room. I told my girlfriend and she was unimpressed. “They already have that. It’s called humming.” She’s wrong, I’m right and it’s funny. Or I’m just a goof, but I’m okay with that. In any case, I’ve been doing it with “Down to the River”.

Anyway, I need a new mp3 player. I sure can’t wait to get paid. But I will. Because I have to. In the meantime, at least I’ve got stuff to listen to in my head.

Like “In the Meantime“.

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iPod, iSaw, iCompared

It’s 2019. I did not expect that I’d be struggling to buy an mp3 player.

My ipod classic shat the bed, and it’s gonna cost $450 to fix. It cost $350 to buy, so this seems like a big stretch. It’s probably the fourth ipod I’ve owned in the past 15 years. I use them all the time, 1-2 hours daily. I’m not kind to my electronic devices, and that’s clearly shown in the life expectancy of my gadgets. With an ipod, there was so much I didn’t need to think about. Since it was the market leader, the proof was on them to make a solid product that was easy to use. I didn’t love going through itunes, but it worked. Everything was categorised and simple to scroll through. I liked the tactile, physical nature of the product without touchscreen. I could operate it without looking. It sounded good, and was surprisingly robust. I could take it to the gym, and it weighed enough to not constantly bounce around. The UI was excellent, and while I didn’t use most of the features, I didn’t have to. It just worked.

With my ipod dead, I’ve had to do my research on figuring out what to buy next. For the past few months I’ve been using my phone. I hate it. It’s too bulky, and fits awkwardly in workout clothing pockets. I don’t have an online music subscription, primarily because my internet connection isn’t reliable. I want something with a huge storage capacity, so I can curate what I want on there, but also don’t have to worry about filling up any time soon. I’ve had so many issues with my ipod over the years, and it’d be kind of cool to have removable stuff so I don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Removable batteries, storage, etc. That way I can just get a new microSD card instead of having the whole unit repaired for hundreds of bucks. I want something sturdy and rugged, physical controls rather than touchscreen. I want a decent battery life of around 10-15 hours per charge. I want 200+ gigs of storage. I want a UI that’s functional, easy, categorises by artist, album and whatnot, taking ID3 tags into account. If I’m stuck with a file tree to navigate, that’d feel clunky and undesirable. I want a player that sounds good. I’ll most likely just be using mp3 320kbps. It’d be too much work to start getting FLAC by this point. Still, to my untrained ears 320kbps plus my M50x headphones should be good enough. Who knows, maybe I actually try buying a good pair of earbuds for active work like running or gym stuff. I don’t want apps, internet connectivity or wifi. I want something that runs as a self-contained unit, that just plays music and does it well. I’m sure that’s not too much to ask.

And yet, holy hell it’s a lot of work navigating the landscape. There are things like the Sandisk Clip that would be perfect if only it had expandable storage. The FiiO III Mark 2 looks like exactly what I want, but it only supports storage up to 120 gigs. The FiiO III Mark 3 doesn’t have the same weight or size as the Mark 2, which is disappointing. But at the same time it’s still an all tactile, non touchscreen unit, plus it handles larger expandable memory. The UI is apparently a little slow. The HIDIZ AP80 has so many features that I like. It can hold up to 1 TB of expandable storage. It’s a little smaller and dinky than I’d like though. Apparently the UI is functional, but it’s all touchscreen with tiny onscreen buttons. My fingers are not diminutive. Then there’s the Ibasso DX50, which looks like it mostly has everything I want. It’s a tactile unit with decent weight. It has up to 2TB expandable storage. The battery is user replaceable. But I can’t find any in Canadian stores. It’s gonna cost a mint to import from the USA. Apparently the software is a little sluggish, but if I can find one that works, maybe that’ll be the go. I spent hours last night looking up models, comparing specs, figuring out how one of these units would fit into my life. I even made an excel spreadsheet to help make my decision.

It’s almost enough to make me want to resurrect my dead ipod once more.

I cracked the code! He’s just saying that to throw us off his trail!

Forgive me while I watch this video of Billy Joel flipping out on repeat for the rest of the day.

It’s so great. I have no idea how many times I’ve seen it already. I’m sure everyone already knew about it, but e-fucking-gads it’s hilarious. I got so sweaty laughing that I became relieved I keep a towel at work. It’s not just the juxtaposition of seeing a usually benign artist like Billy Joel losing his shit, there’s so much more going on. Hearing him intersperse furious production demands throughout his lyrics (“When am I gonna take control get a hold of my emotions-STOP LIGHTING THE AUDIENCE. Why does it only seem to hit me in the middle of the night-STOP IT.”) was a good enough gag, but it’s only amplified by the joyous muppet on the keytar in front of him barely breaking his stride. Then if that wasn’t adequate, he fucking FLIPS THE PIANO and runs out front to start wailing on the stage with his mic stand. Perhaps I need to learn more about his ouvre aside from “We Didn’t Start The Fire” and “Uptown Girl”. Wait, maybe he did start the fire.

I had another flying dream last night. They’re not super uncommon, but this one felt quite sustained. What I thought was interesting (and I knooooow that everyone falsely thinks that their dreams are fascinating), was that flying in this particular dream had a profoundly physical element to it. Flying was like a muscle. None of this magical levitation, there was a specific action linked. I just tightened something inside of me. You know when you tighten your core? It was like that, but further internal. The more I tightened it, the faster I’d ascend or move. It felt incredibly visceral. I’m not gonna try to really pin down the narrative (something about being in a small yee-haw Western outpost and having to hide my ability, so as not to appear a witch), but it was so strange actually intellectualising the sensation and how to work it best. Like trying to better understand your gait and how to make it more efficient. Throughout the dream, I noticed my ability increase substantially. Maybe it was just someone mentioning the film Chronicle the other day, but the ties were pretty apparent. Y’know, I’m well overdue for a Spider Man dream come to think of it.

I got bored today and figured I could play a harmless prank. A few weeks back, I talked about the mysterious package that showed up at my desk. This left me with an interdepartmental envelope. Everyone else was out at a stakeholders’ meeting, but since I’m leaving soon, I got to skip it. I took the envelope to my co-worker’s desk (the one who sits right next to me) and jotted down her name/desk number in the appropriate sections. Inside I put a little note on a post it. “TAG! You’re it! No tag backs!” That was it. I sealed the envelope and took it downstairs to the mail room. So far it hasn’t been delivered. Maybe it’ll come tomorrow, who knows? My eternal hope, is that it suffers the same fate that the envelope did on its way to me. That took months to deliver, MONTHS. If this thing kicks around the system for several months, then she ends up with a dumb tag note from someone who used to sit directly next to her, how great would that be? It seems silly, but fun, and I’m sure something like that could lift her day immediately. Do I feel guilty for tying up the mail room with my own dumb jokes? Likely not as guilty as I should. Who knows, this could move all around the company and start a building wide game of tag. Why would that be something to feel guilty about?

If anything, I’m sure perennial firestarter Billy Joel would approve.

We had a gas. Or in a word, sublimation

I so rarely karaoke.

I did last night. Karaoke was fucking great. I don’t usually, what was different? My girlfriend and I went over to our friends’ house, and they’ve got it all down pat. They built a gorgeous tiki bar in their basement complete with AstroTurf and comfy couches. They also have a karaoke mic. I’d never considered the logistics of home karaoke with modern technology, and it’s actually pretty smart. In lieu of a whole machine, it’s a singular mic that looks a bit like a reporter’s mic. It has a little box thing between the receiver and hilt. Said box has a couple of buttons, but also a built in speaker. Your voice doesn’t get amplified through the wider audio setup, but instead through this handheld gizmo. It means that you hear yourself pretty clearly, others who are close by can hear your non-amplified voice clearly, and people chilling about can have their conversations without disrupting the person singing. It works really well. The other unsung hero of this setup was YouTube. People upload a ton of karaoke versions, and all it takes to find them is using the prefix “karaoke”. So a search term might be “karaoke let it go” and there you are. You can belt out Elsa’s queer anthem for the entire lounge. You’d be surprised at just how many there are, and you don’t even need to fuck around with huge tomes full of arcane numeric codes.

I so rarely do karaoke because the thing here seems to be people coming in with polished song choices. That’s cool, but it’s not me. I just want to fuck around and see if I can imitate voices, or hit certain notes. I don’t care about blowing the roof off, I want to goof off. I don’t feel like I have the safety net to do so when it’s this performative bar scenario. If I’ve had to wait an hour to get a turn, I’m not gonna toss on “Teenage Dirtbag” purely to test if I can do the weedy voice. I’d go for a safe choice instead. In a friend’s basement, things felt a lot looser. I didn’t have to worry about embarrassing myself, because it’s only friends present. If we’re all trying stuff out, there’s a ton of support for merely giving it a go.

It was widely agreed that one of the worst karaoke conventions is being stuck with a song that has infinite outro. You know those tracks where the last minute or two is just the chorus repeating? If you’re not a strong or creative singer, that shit gets stale so quickly. My guess is that trained singers know their voices better, and thus are well equipped to improvise or do neat variations. If you’re like me and pretty much know the song how it was recorded, it’s hard to find the subtle changes to keep it fresh. On the contrary to this, it was interesting thinking about “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. The whole “where do we go” breakdown looks boring on paper, but the vocal inflections are really interesting and fun to emulate. It made me realise that while lyrics matter to some extent, that only goes so far. What are words if not a way of expressing the instrument of your voice? Rhythm and cadence are their own language, and sometimes that supercedes the amount of sense their guiding lyrics make.

What this did for me, at least in a smaller group, was to make me consider approaching songs that were punchy and fun to sing, but potentially problematic in content. Case in point: Sublime. Sublime were my favourite band for years, and while everyone knows “Santeria” or “What I Got”, they also have a bunch of gems. Bradley James Nowell was a very talented singer and songwriter, and it always felt like his heart was in the right place. The thing is, the world’s a vastly different place than it was in early 90s surfer SoCal. For its time, it really wouldn’t surprise me if the conceit of “Date Rape” (dude is a shitty date rapist, nobody tolerates his shit and he gets sent to prison where he’s forcibly butt sexed. Ba dum tss.aiff) was considered progressive. It ain’t now. But songs like “Date Rape”, “Mary”, “Wrong Way”, they’re as much of a blast to sing as they are inappropriate for this time period. The songs have all kinds of rad dynamics, and they’re quite theatrical. With a certain amount of acknowledgement of that, and an understanding that the lyrics themselves aren’t being put on a pedestal, it’s a wicked time singing along with a bunch of friends.

One more thing I learned? I straight up don’t know the Spanish parts of “Caress Me Down”.

Nothing grows here

I need a post Pride holiday.

What a brilliant weekend of sunny, vibrant revelry. I danced, drank, dressed and dallied to my heart’s content. I did very little sleeping, and very lots of socialising. VERY. LOTS. I crashed a bunch of pre-parties, which were perfect occasions to meet friends of friends. I spent a ton of time moving with groups between venues, ordering Ubers and being the logistics fella who kept loose plans on track. I also spent way more time outside than I usually do, and I think that’s tuckered me out more than anything else. Today I have no time or capacity to give fucks. Like Van Morrison when he made that absurd contractual obligation album. I want to go home and zone out with food, however it’s taking all day for work to finish. Y’know, the work day and all…

I don’t know how many plain crackers I’ve eaten today, but the answer would astound you if I knew it. I’m reverting to primal urges. It’s only a matter of time until I throw a stick into the air and it morphs into a satellite. If this keeps up, I’ll probably end up making roast pork for dinner, then tearing it apart with my bare hands. I’m not even suggesting this would be a negative outcome. It sounds fun as hell. Hand held foods are the best type of foods, hands down.

My brain feels so flat today. I walked into the office in a fugue, and I’ve barely talked to anyone in my waking hours. Except, of course to tell them about Van Morrison’s contractual obligation album. It took a litre of coffee for me to regain some semblance of composure, if of course composure can be measured in how readily you rant about the improvised album Morrison recorded in a single day. I’m well-composed, by that margin.

Did you know that Van Morrison had a contractual obligation album? I didn’t know if I’d mentioned it. The thing is bonkers. The first few tracks are mostly identical, but swapping verbs readily. I’m sure there’s an elegant difference between “Twist and Shake”, “Shake and Roll”, “Stomp and Scream”, “Scream and Holler”, and “Jump and Thump”, that I’m just not discerning enough to notice. In this clusterfuck of a recording session, he does a song about ringworm. He does a song about going to the bakery. He talks shit about the label and their demands. It’s the epitome of sowing salt, and I’ve seen few moves so inherently salty.

Did you know that salt has no calories?

All this talk of salt is making me hungry. Maybe it’s time to put aside the plain crackers in favour of something a little bit flashier. Saltines, here I come!

Is this emotional ska-ring?

I’ve had The Mighty Mighty Bosstones “The Impression That I Get” stuck in my head for two days straight.

Knock on wood it takes its leave soon.

If it wasn’t for Sublime, I’d say I skipped right past ska. No Reel Big Fish, The Specials or aforementioned Bosstones. It was back when everything had to be adversarial for me. I loved rock/metal, I couldn’t be a punk/ska guy. I remember my friend telling me that ska was “punk with horns”. In my head that translated to metal (which had horns already) with only three chords. So I never listened. Now I wonder if the jauntiness would’ve drawn me in had I tried. I guess you could say ska and I had a chequered past (if you’re picking up picking up what I’m putting down). These days I don’t overly care about genre stuff. Country is still a hard sell for the most part (I’ve tried Kasey Musgraves, it just ain’t sticking. Maybe it’s a lack of cultural relevance that’s the issue?), but if music is compelling or clever, its genre is of the least importance. Of course, sometimes songs are just undeniably catchy, which is probably why this dang song has inundated my brain.

I was thinking of words I used to mispronounce today. First and foremost, I used to pronounce “pronunciation” as “pronounce-iation”. Easy enough mistake to make. Usually mispronunciations are a result of not having heard a word out loud. Which is why I called the central Harry Potter character “Her-me-own” before the film releases. I made the mistake of saying “om-knee-us” (instead of “ominous” out loud once in a circle of friends, which prompted deserved derision. I’d been misreading the word for years. Diablo 2 taught me the word “ethereal”, which I said as it’s spelled “ether-real” instead of the more proper “eth-ear-ee-al”. In short, English is a confusing and garbled language and I love it to bits because (not in spite) of this.

I’ve had too many carbs today. This isn’t some kind of ill-advised oh I’ve been NAUGHTY moral compass bullshit. This is more an unadvisable illness inducing amount of flavoured popcorn, slices and cakes. We have a treat desk at work, and part of our team has meetings where they get courted by clients. We often share in the riches. Today’s riches contained six different types of flavoured popcorn (all of which I had to try) from the Toronto Popcorn company. There was confetti (candy popcorn), BBQ steak, cheese and dill, Buffalo kick, parmesan and chives, and something else not worth remembering. They were all delicious, and I would like not to know how much I consumed. Then came the brownies, cookies and sugar tarts from the catering tray. They were all subpar, which means “sugary and tasty enough, but unremarkable”. Consequently, I’ll stop remarking on them further.

In fact, it’s time to get going. So I’ll stop remarking on anything further. Night night.

I guess you could say my foundations are buttrest…

It’s after miiiiiidnight. So fuck it.

Today didn’t end. Work was batshit. Then I had to go to the doctor. THEN I had this other thing writing I’ve been working on, which was the last five hours. I’m not ready to talk about that one yet.

Here’s something. I’m tired of taking my pants off at the doctor. Years and years ago I had a pilonidal cyst excision. Basically I had this area where a pore blockage or something created havoc. Blood, sebum and pus all swarmed and made a big ol’ lump. It swelled and swelled, and I had to visit an emergency walk in to find out what the hell was wrong with me. I had flare ups over years, and when it got bad enough, I had a specialist go in and just pull out a chunk of my arse. Right between the cheeks. I’ve got this Harry Potter scar there now. It’s kind of neat, I guess. So I’m used to having my pants down at the doctor, in as much as someone can be used to it. Over the years I’ve had a variety of reasons to go in and drop trow.Last week when I had my whole heat rash thing, I at least got to keep my undies on. The doctor was curious how far the rash went, but she saw enough to suss it out without me having to expose my genitals.

Over the past few days, I’ve been noticing little blood trails when I’ve wiped. It definitely wasn’t hemorrhoids, but it did look an awful lot like pilonidal sinus discharge. Heh, discharge. Having had some mild flare ups over the years, I wanted to get the antibiotics to take care of it quickly, before it turned into a massive issue. So of course, when the receptionist took me in, she told me I’d have to strip and lie down under one of those weird paper blanket things. She walked out of the room, and I took my place on the table. When the doctor arrived, we chatted a little, then she pulled on her gloves and dove right in. She definitely wasn’t rough, but she didn’t hesitate either. Pried me right open, lubed up and had a poke around. It turns out I had an anal fissure. Apparently the heat rash had caused my buttcrack skin to stick together. This had formed a little nick. She likened it to a paper cut. It’s not a big deal, she says if I just put diaper rash cream on it for a few days, it’ll heal up. Also she marvelled at what a good job my pilonidal surgeon did, so that was clearly money well spent.

On another matter entirely, I saw James Blake live in concert last night. I think it’s my third time, and it doesn’t get less impressive. He’s an incredibly captivating performer, the light show at The Sony Centre was fantastic. He has a very charming stage manner, and the atmosphere was pretty damn welcoming. After the first song, he looked out at the seated crowd. “Oh. We’re gonna be polite tonight are we? Or are we gonna stand up and have a good time? It didn’t take long for the invitation to catch on.

During one song the drummer eschewed his kit for snapping his fingers. I got the sense that he wanted people to join in, but barely anyone was. It made me think of improv a little. He’d put out an offer, and it was up for us to say yes. I wanted to join in, but I also didn’t want to feel silly or sheepish in front of anyone. So I held back. It was really weird. I wanted to play, and I knew that if I did, I’d have a good time. I also knew that I was surrounded by strangers, and nobody would really care. But what if it was annoying for someone? What if I ruined their experience by being obnoxious? So I didn’t do it, and I kinda regretted it. In truth, I had nothing to lose by saying yes, and I’ve got no real idea why I didn’t. Next time maybe I’ll be the concertgoer I wished to be.

As for now, I’m saying yes to putting my butt in bed.