I guess a perfect Sunday would’ve had even more cheese

Let’s begin. I think I was drunk earlier today and I’m hoping I’ve sobered up enough to put coherent word to digital paper.

I’m not sure how much I’ve spend on food/drink/entertainment this weekend. My guess is close to $200. That might be an extravagant guess, but I’m mildly concerned it isn’t. My belly is very happy. I’ll be even happier once the food has moved its way out of my body. This morning my girlfriend and I went off for brunch with our Toronto family. It was amazing. I don’t wanna use that word lightly, but I feel like it fits here. We brought Prosecco and made mimosas. They were the least decadent thing on the table. There was cheese and crackers. They’d set out both bagels and challah loaf for all of our bread-y needs. There was a wonderful salmon and cheese bake, vegan hashbrown casserole thing, coleslaw with apple and cranberries and a pseudo caprese salad thing. If we’d gone to a restaurant, we’d have been astounded by the meal. This was much better, since we got to share conversation with beloved family we hadn’t seen in maybe six months or so. It’s Toronto, “busy” is everyone’s neutral state.

Next up was the live Doug Loves Movies show. Remember yesterday when I talked about the cool The Leon Demon name tag I made? Well it didn’t get chosen by any of the guests. Poop. I was so psyched too. I spent ages spitballing with my girlfriend over who my “shithead” should be. I joked that Hitler would be a fun choice on a meta level. Like, isn’t he the poster child for shitheads? Isn’t it an answer so obvious that nobody would ever pick it, thus making it kind of funny and unexpected? I wasn’t sure, so I went for Jordan Peterson. I’d say he could go fuck himself, but I don’t want him having any pleasure, self-directed or otherwise.

The show was a fucking sweaty riot. Mark Forward, Kayla Lorette and [some random knowledgeable audience member]. It was a fun mishmash with endless riffing. The audience member was getting a little ranty and Forward was reciprocally antagonistic. It was a fun dynamic. At one point Kayla turned to the audience member and asked “how does it feel becoming the villain in your home city?” The mood was less aggressive than I made it sound. The audience member did a great job on the games, but Kayla came out ahead. Mark mostly cracked wise the whole time. There was a ton of great creativity with audience name tags (and a fair number of candy based bribes) and the two hours went past in a breeze. Everyone also sweat their balls off on a day Toronto turned the heat up to 11. Wait, that’s not particularly high in Celsius. Maybe 30 degrees is more accurate. I had maybe three beers, which weren’t helping with the sweat-age.

After the show, I got a burrito with friends then we headed off to the park to meet up with some others. We spun hula hoop (and at the age of 31, I finally learned how. I was just putting too much force into it), poi and staff. We did some handstands, cartwheels and round offs. We basically just goofed around a bunch in good company.

Honestly, I don’t think I have the imagination to conceive of a more ideal Sunday.

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If looks could skill

How did you spend your Saturday morning? If you answered “mildly hungover I half-assedly taught myself super basic photoshop” then we’re probably twins and we should go out into the world and play twin pranks.

Because my body told me five hours was ample sleep for a weekend (they don’t call ’em “sleepends”), I woke up with purpose. I was gonna try to learn how to make my Doug Loves Movies poster goddammit. I had my idea, I had paint.net (basically a freeware low-rent photoshop. I can’t recommend it enough) and I had nothing else valuable to do with my time. The perfect recipe for creativity. I started by finding a high res image of the original film poster. Then to get it out of the way, removed the “N” from the title and copied the “E” to make an “L”. I fine tuned the edges by alternating between the dropper tool and small tipped paintbrush. This was some serious pixel shit. I trawled Facebook for a useable photo of me (the only one where I’m not copping a big dumb smile) and got to work. I added my face as a layer and sized it with her normal face. I drew corresponding white lines to those of the poster and trimmed off the sides of my face that would otherwise be out of bounds. For far too long I did this using the “overwrite” function on the paintbrush, before remembering that the best way to erase was just using the “erase” tool like any non-insane person. With my head sized right, I trimmed right around the edges to keep it as flush as possible with her face.

Then came the interesting part, with the face layer completed, I wanted to try and recreate the key lighting effect from the poster. I made a new layer to create a gradient of red/purple from the top left (getting the specific colours with the dropper tool). It took a bit of tooling around with hues, but eventually I had it figured out. I made yet another gradient layer to get light on my face from the bottom right. It wasn’t nearly the same as the gorgeous saturated light effect, but it was something. Then came the pedantic bit. I got the eraser tool out and went all the way around my face on the first gradient layer, basically separating the gradient that was on my face to that outside of it. I did the same on the next gradient layer, so I had my facial gradients and all the wasted stuff on the outline. Then came the fun part, where I got to increase the eraser footprint to the size of a fucking tree and clear off all the unnecessary gradients, so I just had the light on my face. I then went into the layer options for each gradient and put them to “glow”.

Voila, I was done!

Now if I had any standards, I’d put more work in. I feel like I didn’t really understand the layer opacity functions until after I’d done all the incredibly finicky outlining. By that point I flat out couldn’t be bothered going back to set a new gradient, because I’d have to do all the outlining again. If I’d done it I would’ve cranked the colour saturation right to the brink and softened the layer opacity to compensate. Maybe I’d use the lasso select to give myself purple eyeliner and make my features pop a little more instead of blandly sitting under the layer. Maybe I’d even do work on my lips to make them stand out. I dunno, as someone who knows nothing, the concept of digitally giving myself makeup is a little intimidating. I’ve got so many plans in the next 24 hours, I barely have time to print it. Still, for two or so hours of my life, I’m happy enough with the outcome. It’s a lot better than the cut/paste job I was planning on doing initially.

I certainly didn’t expect to end today with a whole new skill.

Definitely lower case on that whole “skill” word.

I would preemptively crack and I have no shame about that

I wrote a Facebook status today that went:

Me being tortured:
“I’ll tell you whatever you want. Just don’t call me late to dinner!!!

I swear I’ve spent 30 minutes laughing at it. Not one 30 minute period where I thought about it from time to time. 30 minutes of total laughter spread across the past five hours. 30 minutes is a lot of chuckling, considering each time may have been for about 10-15 seconds or so. Hell, 10-15 seconds laughing at a single joke is a buttload of time in itself. With strangely little exaggeration, I’ve thought of this joke and giggled to myself roughly every five minutes. For fact checkers out there, I did zero math on this, so my calculations may be one or two decimal points off. To be clear, I don’t think it’s a good joke. Even filtered through a myriad of meta layers it still barely makes sense. More so, that’s why it tickles me so. This whole preamble isn’t to highlight my scintillating wit. All’s I’m saying is that if I end up alone and destitute, at least I’ll be in good company.

I’m tired as all heck today, but for good reason. I got to work mega early for a clandestine meeting. Half right. I’ve been trying to track down this dude in our company about an something. It’s not super secret, but I also don’t feel like going into it. Suffice to say, it may lead to a new job directly or far more indirectly. Thing is, this bloke lives in Vancouver and commutes to Toronto every once in a while. I’ve missed him the last couple of times and he never felt super jazzed about setting a time to meet in person. Considering it’s leading towards something tied directly to my interests, I’ve been tenacious. Like a slavering bloodhound with prosthetic wheels in need of oiling. I also figure it’s easy to be dismissive of someone you’ve only interacted with over email or the phone, but once you’ve actually met it engenders them to you. Like naming a stray and getting separation anxiety when it comes time to say goodbye. Turns out he was friendly and the meeting will be helpful one way or another. Almost worth getting to work an hour and 45 minutes early.

I’ve got Doug Loves Movies on Sunday and I’m excited. The thing I don’t have is a name tag or the graphic design skills to put one together. I guess I should probably take a step back and explain how it all works first. So Doug Loves Movies is a live podcast taping with comedian Doug Benson (who, as you guessed, loves movies. Here’s an episode where Captain America gets drunk and bro-y, but in a charming fashion). He invites a bunch of special guests (usually comics, actors, etc) on stage to play movie trivia based games. The guests all bring gifts for a communal prize bag. Here’s where the name tags come in. Audience members make posters of a chosen movie that combines with a pun on their name. I’m planning on The Leon Demon, for instance. Some people get incredibly creative. Guests go out into the audience and pick a name tag, playing on behalf of that audience member. Whichever guest wins the games, their audience member gets the entire prize bag. But wait, there are no losers! Everyone gets to write a “shithead” in an envelope on the back of their name tag. If their champion doesn’t win, Doug reads out their “shithead” to the crowd. You might write “Harvey Weinstein” is a shithead or something.

So how long does it take to learn basic photoshop?

Just call me the Retrievian Man

This whole project is nothing (could I have stopped the sentence there?) if not a nostalgia factory. It’s such a driving force in my life that I often find myself navel gazing back at my past in the hopes of forgetting what a dismal state of affairs adult life is. Other times I get nostalgic about times in my adult life, blowing my hypothesis of its dismal state out of the water. Did any of this preamble matter? Was I typing just to kill time? Isn’t that really what this whole project is about? In any case, I went back and listened to a bunch of The Air Bud Pawdcast.

You know what? It’s pretty good. At the very least, it gets pretty good. The first few episodes were understandably “ruff” as we were trying to find our footing. Two nobodies with zero experience making a podcast. As the episodes went on, we found our rhythm, added new segments and began to understand how we could create a better listening experience for anyone who dialled in. We started developing chemistry, creating multi-episode in jokes and o’erleapt previous technical difficulties.

As an entirely “impartial” listener (as if), I’ve actually really enjoyed going back through them. It’s funny, and the one-note joke of “isn’t it crazy that us adults are watching a kids’ film?” has way more elasticity than I’d expected. The kind of ridiculous and meticulous details we pull from the movies are both worth hearing and eerily observant. Neither of us get too high on our own supply (it’s hard to be justifiably uppity from a low status position) and tease one another from a place of love.

Once we brought guests on, the show catapulted. Not in popularity, it was ever an indie darling (is that what we’re calling it?). In quality. Bringing a new subject into the bizarre world of animal based children’s cinema was a treat every single time. Each guest took it slightly differently, some with aplomb and others with a reasonable distaste. They all had varied perspectives and points of interest. The sheer fact that we were no longer in an echo chamber allowed us to really branch out. We built up rapport, sometimes instantly, other times over the course of the episode. Listen to Episode 7 with Degrassi alum Raymond Ablack, for instance. Ray was a real sweet dude and immediately jumped on board.

Maybe I’m just getting listless because it feels like I haven’t made anything substantive in some time. Dumb as it was, the Pawdcast gave me some sense of purpose. I was flexing old muscles with audio work, using skills of analysis to find the oddities in each new Air Bud outing, getting to freely riff with a bunch of funny people. The best part of the whole thing? It’s still there for me to listen back and enjoy.

Even if MeUndies never gave us that sponsorship we kept clamouring for.

Does this make me The Big Sycophant?

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

Also because I clearly have no friends.

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

Okay. Waiting for the film now. Observations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If I cast far enough, shit might get reel.

Sometimes a moment of clarity will just strike you from out of nowhere. Like a bolt flung from the hands (or tentacles, let’s be real here) of a deity, an epiphany. While I was voicing yesterday, somebody from the station dropped into the studio to hang out. When I came out of the booth, she introduced herself. She asked me my background and what I wanted to do. Without skipping a beat, I replied.

“I want to make podcasts.” I said. “It’s something the opposition does, but we’re really lacking behind.” Someone else chipped in “We have them.” I nodded and replied “we do have them, but the breadth of subject matter is pretty limited, which seems weird considering the vast Intellectual Properties we have access to and our company’s push for consumer engagement. If having a social media presence is so important, why not offer them cause to spend time with us while they work? Give them even more reason to engage with our brands. It’s an intimate, personal medium. Selling the idea to consumers that we’re their friends? It’s hard to buy that kind of marketing. Why not do that?” I stopped ranting. All three people in the room were quiet, nodding.

Where the fuck did that confidence come from?

I’ve had vague ideas about professionally producing podcasts before, but haven’t given it a whole lot of serious consideration. Then all of a sudden that torrent came tumbling out of my mouth. Who would pay me to do it? Where would the funds come from? Today though, I’ve been thinking about it more. Who better than a large corporation? It’s not like they’d have to invest in infrastructure. They have the equipment, the hosting. They can handle traffic and would have umpteen ways to promote it. They have on-air talent. They have content that invites both discussion and promotion. We know that there’s a market for it, given the near ubiquity of podcasting. All it needs is someone to go to bat for it.

I’ve been struggling a bit lately in multiple areas. Aside from near constant impostor syndrome (though I assume this is a universal part of the human condition), I’ve been feeling really down on myself. For years I had a fire burning, mantra of Make it Happen running through my head. I felt indomitable and pushed forward constantly. The past few years have felt like a rut professionally and I’ve started to doubt whether or not I’m a capable person. It’s been harder to get motivated and excited about things. Self-esteem has given way to recursive negative self-talk and I’ve started to stop believing that I deserve opportunities.

This past weekend was spent in the constant company of friends. A couple of them were people I’m quite close with, but most were casual acquaintances. I had an amazing time, but one thing stuck out to me. Almost universally, people there saw me as quick witted and down for anything. They assumed I took chances and opportunities, that I was creative and hard working. Good-natured, compassionate and funny. They saw me as the kind of person I want to be, a person who boldly follows their desires and makes things happen.

I feel like I used to be him. That if circumstances align, I become him again. I realised just how much I want to be as my friends see me. I want to take risks and be okay with failing. I want to put in effort because a lesson learned is the worst outcome. I want so badly to believe in myself again.

If others do, what’s stopping me?

I’d call mine Gilbert Goattfried if it’s any consolation.

Great day. Intense day. It’s no longer day and I’m scrambling to get this entry out so I can finally go to sleep. 1am on a “school night” seems an appropriate time as any to start, n’est-ce pas?

So.

Work got busy right at the end. I was feeling mildly unwell (with the portent of future ailment tomorrow) so I tried to cram a bunch of work in today. You know, ease the strain on the rest of the department in case I do call in sick tomorrow. There was a bunch of stuff I needed in order to finish my work and my manager was not forthcoming with it. Then my manager delivered. Being the grand ol’ chap that he is, he also delivered the news that one of our shows had been pulled and subsequently any sign of it needed to vanish across the network. Prime 4pm news, right? I’d been trying to organise a bunch of people on the side for tonight’s dinner/comedy shows. When the work rolled in I forgot about those plans and took care of business. Subsequently my phone died. When 5.30pm rolled around I checked it for a heartbeat. None. Murdered. Shit. I’d made 6pm dinner plans that were 50 minutes away via public transit.

Time to call an Uber.

Or not, because I’m an idiot and my phone was dead. I flagged down a taxi and asked for a fare estimate to The Royal Cinema. $15-20 he said. I jumped in and we hit the road. I asked if I could borrow his charger for my cellular corpse, but try as I might it’d been slapped with a DNR order. It was my turn to die a little on the inside. Rush hour traffic was predictably grim and during my journey I spent $3 cold hard cash moving 100m. I should’ve walked part way. I made it no more than five minutes late, a small wonder, in the hopes that everyone had gotten the messages I’d sent before my phone kicked the bucket. I waited for another five or so minutes and my friend walked in. I’ve rarely known relief to be such a tactile sensation. My girlfriend arrived, we had an awesome dinner and lined up for Chris Gethard’s live Beautiful/Anonymous podcast taping.

The show was fun, but also a transcendent trash fire that made me question everything I knew about probability. A quick rundown of the show: Comedian Chris Gethard talks to an anonymous caller for an hour. He has a talent for asking the right questions and whittling away the artifice to find the true story beneath the call. Tonight? Tonight was a weird night. Tonight’s hashtag for audience members with questions was #lowrystrong, which would’ve been great if I had a phone that didn’t hate living. We were warned that it could get weird. Like the manic caller the night before. The only thing Chris had been able to glean in an hour was that he owned two goats, one of which was adorably named OKGoat. I’m ’bout it.

The caller wasn’t weird, so much as avoidant. Obviously a fan of the show, it sounded more like he wanted to chat with Gethard, but not about anything in particular. Was he in love with his ex-girlfriend/best friend? Why did he feel so listless? What was his issue with revealing his age? Try as Chris might to delve into this dude’s deal, it felt a little flat. The connection was spotty and whenever Chris really seemed on the mark with a great point, the call would cut out and our caller wouldn’t hear it. With 25 minutes left on the clock, we had a Beautiful/Anonymous first: We took another call. This caller got straight into it and called her ex-boss a cunt right off the bat. The crowed roared, baying for blood. She was a sympathetic character and we all latched onto her. The more details that emerged, however, something seemed off. Were we really getting the whole story? Why had her boss and close personal friend made steps to remove our caller from her family? With seven minutes remaining on the clock, the call dropped. Fuck. Chris took another call, who turned out to be… THE FIRST FUCKING CALLER. 7700 CALLS AND HE GOT THROUGH? WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF THAT? UN FUCKING REAL. Things were intense. Chris took him to task and laid straight into him, stringing everything we’d heard into deduction, outlining this guy but good. AND THE CALL DROPPED. FUCK. He took ANOTHER call, which wasn’t the second caller back with some answers.

IT WAS THE FUCKING GOAT GUY FROM THE NIGHT BEFORE. WHY DO WE EVEN HAVE PROBABILITY IF IT’S NOT GONNA DO ITS JOB?

Oh, and my phone rose from the grave, in case you were worried.