Well after all that cake I certainly wasn’t gonna be Slim

Honestly, today’s been a good day.

I figure that’s not how most of these start, so I’m happy for the exception. It’s noteable. I woke up a couple of minutes before my alarm, which put my mood right. I got to work five minutes early without rushing. Everything just flowed. A friend updated his photos from Hyperborea there were tons of excellent shots from “the magic hour” (around dusk o’clock) that had perfect lighting. They brought back what a special experience it all was. Maybe the real memories were the friends we made along the way. It may sound like I’m getting needlessly gushy and trite, but you weren’t there maaaaaan.

Today was also the day I remembered that the BBC Essential Mix existed. From BBC Radio 1, the Essential Mix is a series of long form mixes from high profile DJs around the world. Big names like Chemical Brothers, Diplo, Justice, etc. All hosted by none other than Pete Tong. They’re very high quality and superb for putting a rocket behind your motivation to Get Shit Done. If you’ve got an issue with your output, I can’t recommend them enough for workplace listening. I found a Fatboy Slim Bestival set from 2016 and set to work. Holeeee shit. I was bopping in my seat all day long, plugging away at each task at hand. I felt the urge to get up out of my seat and go rave, but instead channelled that energy into furious productiveness. Very quickly I found myself having finished most of the day’s work.

I’d done so much so soon that I decided to head off to the gym for my lunch break. The mix was so “fire” I downloaded it and worked out to it. Turns out Fatboy Slim is still absurdly at the top of his game after all these years. It was also stellar for lifting incentive. I sweat and danced and, I dunno, pumped? What do gym people say? I did those things, got my endorphin rush and headed back to the office.

Occasionally (often) at work, certain departments get food delivered for client meetings. Uneaten leftovers go to the kitchen where they’re fair game. I have no idea who met with which clients, but there was a goddamn feast up for grabs in my post workout state. Sandwiches galore! Salads and Chinese dishes. Pad Thai, garlic bread, rice and pasta. Also some mammoth dessert made in the visage of chicken and waffles. The “waffles” were a big dense cake soaked in maple syrup. The lattice part was firm fondant style icing. Atop this fat stack was a rice crispy treat coated in corn flakes. It even had a little pretzel “bone” in the middle. Creative, but also rich and delicious. You best believe I sampled most everything at the table.

The afternoon was quiet. I plugged away at my remaining work, basking in the replete warmth of my overstuffed stomach. Problems emerged and I quashed them without a second thought. Everything was easy and nothing hurt.. Except my decrepit, withering body, but that’s only to be expected. But BEST OF ALL I found out my loud carrot stick chewing co-worker is leaving. I’ve griped about him before, but he’s an incredibly loud open mouth chewer which drives my misophonia up the fucking wall. It sounds silly, but hearing him eat a gratuitous amount of crunchy stuff is a serious point of stress in my life. In a few weeks, no longer! Today really was a good day.

Didn’t even need to shoot an AK.

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I guess I’ll swim

I feel like I was ready to have a good day, then I read about Scott Hutchison losing his battle with depression.

I do and I don’t know why it hit me so hard. Some dude at a party once told me I’d like Frightened Rabbit and he was alarmingly correct. I’ve listened to their album Midnight Organ Fight countless times. It’s this beautiful combination of gallows humour and earnest emotion. The rest of their oeuvre I’ve been appreciative of, but haven’t absorbed it as fully. I can sincerely say I’m a fan without the baggage of excessive fandom. Hutchison was an immensely talented lyricist who hung his heart on every line and a performer who brought everything of himself to the mic. He’s someone whose creativity and honesty I was in love with. A few days ago a news report surfaced saying he’d gone missing. I feared the worst and hoped for the best, but those hopes fell away this morning. It’s heartbreaking and no amount of platitudes make it any less so.

Naturally, we’re all gonna witness events like this and turn inwards. We think about ourselves and how we relate. This becomes an important part of how we in retrospect view the outcome. I’ve been known to have my ups and downs, often between months. There are times in which I start to question all the structures around me and fail to find purchase. If you’re reading this, please don’t worry. Emotionally I’m in a downturn, but not with tangible lingering effects. I’m trying to figure things out, which is a world away from doing something stupid. Still, part of working through this kind of stuff is getting the negative ephemera out there to see it for what it is. With that precursor out there:

I’m having a hard time right now, as I have been for a while. I feel like my up and downswings have had me lingering at the bottom for a lot longer than I’ve been climbing. It’s rough. At the moment I’m having trouble finding purpose. I look at my day to day, week to week, year to year and see nothing in the matter of cumulative gain. I don’t feel like I’m further ahead at 31 than I was in 28. Of course it’s symptomatic of these kind of moods not to check your blind spot for the light you’re missing. Still, when I look ahead to the next six months, I don’t see the point. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I’m doing things, but none of them mean anything. I don’t know why I continue to sit in an office five days a week, not to be gaining traction. I feel like I’m living for escapism, but nothing concrete. I exist to consume, but I’m not consuming for any kind of existence.

I look at someone like Scott Hutchison, someone who made so much for so many, and I wonder what I’ve done. Once again, what am I doing? What am I doing for others? What am I doing for myself? If all I’m doing is going through the motions, that’s not enough for me. That’s not sustainable for the next 50 years. That’s a long time and I need a pretty good reason to hang around for another five decades. That’s not to say I’m looking for a way out. I’m looking for a way forward.

It sucks all the more because I feel like two months ago I had momentum. I felt indomitable, full of steam and drive, not knowing where I was going but not stopping to worry. Months later with nothing to show for it, the idea of picking myself up by the bootstraps seems a worthless endeavour. It’s hard to press on when the path seems to lead nowhere. I have no doubt I’ll turn this around in a matter of time, but right now that’s hardly enough for me.

Guess I’ll just wait.

So my defining characteristic is that I never learn?

I was probably less hungry than I was desiring bread and cheese, so I bought ham, cheese and a bread roll from the supermarket. Now I’m uncomfortably full. If that isn’t a metaphor for my entire existence, I don’t think I know what metaphors are.

Come to think of it, more accurately I bought ham and a bread roll. I asked the lady at the deli counter if any of the cheeses were sharp (since apparently your average Canadian isn’t super partial to non-mild cheese) and she grabbed me a pre-cut slice of Havarti. I told her sheepishly I was only really looking for a single slice for my filled roll. She nodded and put a finger against her lips, then winked. It felt very conspiratorial.

It must be kinda tough out there right now in Hollywood for handsome white men called Chris. Marvel seems to have cornered the market.

I saw a bunch of dudes standing around chatting while a docile shiba inu lay leashed at their feet. A plastic bag blew over and immediately the shiba pounced, ripping the ever loving shit out of it. It tore the poor bag to shreds and took a massive bite. It happened in an instant and was possibly the funniest thing I’ve seen all day. Something about this cute dopey dog galvanised into action by simple detritus evoked incredible comic timing.

After complaining about the absurd quantities of branded swag people keep dumping on my desk, one of our new employees gushed to me how much she loved free stuff. I told her of my plight and she remarked that she wished she was in my position. I collated it all into a single bag and left it on her desk. In a single swoop I managed to de-clutter my life and make someone’s day. I just hope I haven’t enabled a future hoarder.

I went to a pilates class at work yesterday. One of the exercises involved us moving between normal and neutral spine in conjunction with hip raises. The instructor described the sensation as if we were “rolling a marble between your belly button and pubic bone.” Like a child I giggled, reminding me that even if I pay taxes, maturity has yet to find me. It made me think of when we first heard the word “cum”. It meant we’d excitedly titter whenever someone said the word “come” or “coming”. There was some song we had to sing at school assemblies with lyrics along the lines of “coming on the bridge/coming through the water/coming through the forest/your sons and daughters.” It killed us every time.

Speaking of songs, I don’t know that I’ve been to a concert yet this year. That feels nutty to me. Absorbing live music for years has been one of the large components of my personality. It’s so stirring to have acts you admire in your immediate vicinity, to join in with the communal energy of a crowd. I’ve got Okkervil River, Janelle Monáe and St Vincent coming up over the next few months, but even that feels sparse. This might be the most enduring element of my adult life, that I find myself going out to see bands with decreasing frequency. Excuses range from “but it’s cold out” to “I’m too tired”. Younger Leon who would almost weekly drive two and a half hours/drink/watch a gig/crash on a friend’s couch/wake up at 6am/drive another two and a half hours back to work the next day would slap my current self for such a feeble dismissal of a good time.

Of course, Younger Leon made questionable decisions almost daily. Given my ham sandwich debacle earlier, it’s nice to see not too much has changed/.

When aliens find the remnants of our inevitably doomed civilisation, I hope they at least read the Duffman wiki

Not for the first time, I need to start writing in order to make some kind of non-writing deadline, so that’s what I’m going to do.

Does Duffman have the right to beer arms? I know very little about Duffman, but after this wiki I learned that one of the actors playing him (in show) was bisexual. In that case if he were hairier, would he have the right to bear arms?

After much kvetching, I got my ticket to Janelle Monáe. Believe me, the kvetching was strong with this one. I was all prepped at work. I had my battle station at the ready. I didn’t know the presale code, but everything else was sorted. I had tabs all open: The Facebook event page in case anyone there knew the code. A reddit post where people were looking for the code. The artist’s Facebook and Twitter pages in case she posted the code. Gmail open in case I had an email for the fan mailing list with the code. One of my Facebook posts where I’d asked friends to post the code in case anyone was looking for it. I had the ticket page at the ready to go as soon as they went on sale. Thing is, I didn’t have the code. I tried a bunch of her song names, no dice. I even tried ROSEBUD, but my usual methods yielded nothing. Five minutes after tickets went on sale, none of my friends seemed to have the code. We were metaphorically running around like metaphorical chickens with their metaphorical heads cut off (I’m certainly glad none of those were parables).

A friend of mine came through and messaged me with the code and I spread it like wildfire (it was DJANGO, not ROSEBUD like I’d hoped).I clicked on three GA tickets and waited. It was still verifying my ticket choice. I tried opening another Chrome browser in incognito mode in case there was some issue with that. Still waiting and verifying. I even resorted to Internet Explorer, which was unsurprisingly no help whatsoever. I loaded it up on my phone. Still nothing. I got my friend who I was chatting with at the time to try and she was waiting. She tried her computer, her phone. We were fretting a little while trying not to lose our cool (which was silly, because we were looking for GA tickets and it’s not like they’d all sell out in a presale. There were still another two or three presales to come on Monday) until finally her tickets went through. Success. It sounds like all of my friends who wanted tickets got them and everyone came away happy.

I also discovered today that my work benefits don’t cover Athletic Therapy like I thought they did. It’s my fault for not reading the fine print, but it still sucks. It means I’ve at least put myself out over a few hundred bucks in the past two or so years. Bummertown, population me. It especially sucks because I won’t be able to see my new favourite Athletic Therapist any more. I can still go to physio, but her category of treatment won’t be covered. Yes, I’m still very fortunate to be getting cover at all (though I’ll sorely (literally) miss the days of company sponsored unlimited physio. My aged appendages never felt better), I’ll just have to plan further ahead next time. Physios tend to be more in demand than ATs for some reason. Maybe the aforementioned reason that a bunch of plans don’t cover ATs? The proof is in the pudding.

A photo of my friends and I got used in the event page for a local dance party. They didn’t ask and I don’t mind or anything. It’s a nice photo. I guess I’m struggling to find remarkable things to write about today. So I’m resorting to re-market-able things instead? Funnily enough the ad reminded me about the party (on this Friday) and now I want to go back. The only problem is my metatarsals and other garbage in my foot are all flared up. I would’ve had an Athletic Therapy session tonight to massage a bunch of the crap out, but as it so happens that’s not covered, right? Goddammit, why don’t I have a bevy of self-solving problems? Or a bevvy of self-solving problems.

Then again, I’m not Duffman.

It’s not like they’re both immensely busy touring artists or anything, right?

My concert bucket list has been dwindling year by year. As I’m ageing and settling into my ways, new acts are being added at a much less frequent rate than they were at age 20. The past few years have really only tossed Run the Jewels, Lorde (both of whom I could’ve crossed off on their recent double header tour), SZA and Courtney Barnett in. Maybe there are more, but I can’t think of them presently. This is notable only ’cause one of my longstanding bucket list acts is about to be plucked from the bucket and onto the Toronto stage.

Janelle Monáe has been one of the most captivating acts of the past decade. Unwavering in her devotion to creative concepts without compromising pure catchiness. I caught onto Janelle’s The Archandroid after a friend’s recommendation back in 2010 and it’s been on rotation ever since. What can I say? She’s musically ambitious, blending a wonderful melange of genres and excellent storytelling. After absorbing Archandroid I went back for Metropolis: The Chase Suite and was immediately charmed. There’s this fantastically campy time travelling Android tale underlying so much of her early work and it’s a fucking blast. The central character, Cindy Mayweather, falls in love with a human and bounty hunters set out to destroy her. There’s a lot more to it, but that’s as good a starting point as you’ll need. Her follow up to Archandroid, Electric Lady, looks at that same society but from the perspective of a niche radio station. It’s oozing with afrofuturism goodness while remaining irresistibly danceable.

The other aspect of Monáe’s oeuvre that took me a while to approach were the videos. Frankly, I didn’t realise she had this phenomenal visual aesthetic underlying her work. You can see the inklings of this in her video for “Q.U.E.E.N.” For her upcoming album she stomped the pedal way to the fucking floor and put together an overarching “Emotion Picture”. Each single she’s put out not only has its own distinctly different sound, but has a video dripping with gorgeous motifs and subtext. I’m not even a super visual person, but when something is so beautifully composed, it’s impossible not to be. I fell in love with “Make Me Feel” and had the video on constant replay. Need proof? She’s also put out “Django Jane“, “PYNK” and today dropped the video for “I Like That“. If you’re not excited, I think I’d have a hard time empathising with your worldview in a holistic sense.

You know where this is going, right? This morning she announced her tour dates in support of her upcoming release and I couldn’t be more chipper about it. Posting the link on Facebook opened up an excited tittering with a bunch of my mates. I’ve heard she’s phenomenal live and I’d believe it. Seeing an artist in concert is exciting at the best of times, but someone with such a curated visual aesthetic will only lift the game. For all the shit I give to REBEL as a venue, they definitely get it right when it comes to lighting up the room. The question, I guess, is whether she’ll bring out her past hits or stick to putting together a tailored album experience. To be honest, I’d be more than fine with either. If the floor is seeing an immensely talented individual bring their craft to an adoring crowd, it’s hard to be disappointed.

Now if she’ll just do me the solid of collaborating with St Vincent, all my musical dreams will have come true.

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?