So far away that a flock of seagulls couldn’t catch me.

A good day at work for once? How does that even happen? Most likely a decent sleep and great weather rubbed off on me. In truth, work has been unremarkable, but if the alternative is a clusterfuck, then unremarkable is excellent. It’s all relative. Like grandparents. Relatives.

The best part of the day was being able to get out and go for a run. “Whaaaaat?”, you might gasp and sputter. I ran. In Toronto. On my lunch break. Because today had a high of 14 fucking degrees. Fahrenheit? NO. CELSIUS, BITCHEZZZ.

*Ahem* Let’s try that again, but without the flagrant over-enthusiasm.

Today’s weather has been swell. Jolly. Righteous and filled to the brim with spiffiness. Being able to leave the building and go for a 5km jog was a highlight. Breathing in the air coming off the lake (except for the godawful smell of burning sugar from the refinery next door. How does a scent so innocuous sounding end up smelling like carrion?), feeling the sun soaking into my skin. My heart was thumping in my chest comfortably, a reassuring swell indicating that not only am I alive, but I’m really living. It’s like that primal sensation of having cut wood or the like. Calloused hands, worked muscles humming. You might be tired, but there’s an assurance that what you did was working towards a purpose. Going for a run made me feel lighter, like a gazelle leaping along the grizzled “urban jungle” of Toronto’s waterfront. Any lions dumb enough to chase me down would have to earn their meal. Dripping sweat in a light breeze gave me a sense of indomitably. Blame endorphins, but nothing was gonna bring me down.

Of course, nothing goes quite so hand in hand (or phone in hand, rather) with running as Pokémon Go. Continuing the theme of today being a great day, the app delivered with panache. Which is to say it still crashed every few minutes and immense tasks such as clicking on a pokestop was enough to throw the system into chaos and lag. Does everyone struggle like this? Maybe I need a new phone. Still, running along the waterfront was the perfect way to look out for rare pokémon, or at the very least trawl for Magikarp.

I found a super low cp one, but figured Magikarp candy is Magikarp candy. I threw pokeball after pokeball, but nothing was sticking. Maybe eight wasted pokeballs later, this was getting farcical. The thing had 49 cp for fucks sake. It was silly, more than anything. I figured why the hell not? It was giving me enough trouble that I wanted it all the more. I tossed a berry its way, then grabbed an ultraballs and tested the waters. One wobble. Two. Three. Settled. Finally. Then the screen darkened and the centre glowed white. What the hell was happening? I just wanted to get it appraised in case it was somehow special. As the screen came back to focus, I discovered it was special. In fact it wasn’t even a Magikarp. I’d finally caught the elusive Ditto. Surprise!

If that wasn’t neato enough, my 10k egg hatched me a Larvitar with decent stats. They’ve been pretty elusive so far, bring the initial component of 2nd gen’s rival to Dragonite. Speaking of which, I picked up a good Dratini today too. Maybe I’ll finally get that Dragonite I’ve been looking for. Do I really see myself getting competitive enough to start attacking gyms again? Who knows? I’ve got enough candy to evolve a Gyarados now, maybe I’m moving towards a workable team. Which in the end is silly, because if I really cared about decent battling I’d get the Game Boy game instead.

Who cares? The sun is setting on a brilliant day. I’ve got no responsibilities left before bed tonight. Hakuna Matata and all that jazz.

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Not to be taken as an authority on anything ever.

Ugh. Getting back into Magic the Gathering Shandalar was as addictive as I’d feared. Starting around 10pm, I had to force myself to stop around 1.30am for fear of looking shaggy and embalmed at work this morning. Even then, getting into bed I couldn’t do anything but think about the game, potential decks I could build, cards I’d lost and won. It’s baaaaaaad, dude. I dreamt about the game. My work day has been time spent waiting to play the game again. After hours of staring at the screen, I saw images of the game floating in my mind’s eye. You know that phenomenon where you play a game so much that everything around you morphs into a weird augmented hyper-reality of the game? It’s like playing Bejeweled and seeing gems everywhere you look. Same thing, but with mana costs, old school card borders and overly antiquated graphics. It’s great to be enveloped by a rampant desire to play something again, but addiction is gonna get in the way of life, if I’m not careful. At least when I was playing Pokémon Go, I was getting out of the house.

Then again, I am still playing Pokémon Go. It’s less manic-obsessive this time around. Though there was the massive disappointment of my long awaited Victreebel having a terrible moveset (with zero grass type moves). Bummer. My workplace is handily close to the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, the numero uno place to catch in the city. If I’ve got nothing to do during lunch (do I ever?), I can go for a wander and hoard Magikarp. It’s neat getting back into the game again. With fresh pokémon I’ve got a renewed interest. It’s still entertaining and less tedious than it had gotten. Once the weather warms up I can start going for jogs on my lunch break and play at the same time. No floating Magic cards, just actual air flowing in and out of my lungs.

Went to Hogtown Vegan yesterday for lunch. After hearing nothing but glowing reviews, I was pretty excited to check it out. My girlfriend and I both left feeling like we’d had an unremarkable meal. Neither of us are vegan or vegetarian, but with how lauded it was, we thought that wouldn’t matter. It’s not that it was terrible by any means, but the concept of meat substitutes still feels odd. I enjoy vegetarian cuisine well enough, in that I don’t assume all meals need meat and there are endless flavours you can pull out of dishes without killing for them. Meat substitutes though, are pretty damn odd. Seitan has this bizarre texture and, in a “Reuben”, didn’t resemble bacon in the slightest. Dry, yet squishy was my best approximation. The “pulled pork” my girlfriend got wasn’t pulled at all, but squishy little bite sized pieces of tofu. The collard greens were delicious and the “cheese” sauce on the fries was great, albeit cheesy wouldn’t be the flavour I’d describe. I wonder what I would’ve thought of the meals had no comparison to meat been made.

It reminded me of how people try to say how tasty some protein powders are, when in fact they taste like chemicals with artificial flavouring. I’ve yet to try a chocolate protein shake that actually tastes like chocolate. Then again, I’m not sure how that’d be possible without masses of sugar, which negates the point of the whole exercise. I get it. I buy protein bars all the time. Some of them don’t taste awful, but they don’t also taste delicious. It’s the same as that phenomenon where, after purchasing something expensive that’s meant to be healthy or high quality, convincing yourself that it was an excellent purchase. As if by admitting disappointment, you’re admitting you made a poor choice. It’s okay to not be an expert every time. Your financial decisions don’t define you as a person.

Then again, what do I know? My life is spiralling out of control because I’m obsessed with an updated 90s video game.

If I had one hand in my pocket, I wouldn’t have been in this mess.

I got this new shirt type thing. It’s great. I don’t know how to classify it, but sometimes neat things are beyond clarification. It’s long sleeved. Too thin to be considered thermals, but warm enough. At the same time it’s incredibly well ventilated. Merino. Seems tailor made for outdoorsy pursuits like hiking or jogging. It has a zipped pocket, something I’m always keen on. Weird thing though, the zip is on the back of the shirt. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no loon. I know how shirts work. I’m also savvy on the front to back orientation of how  labels in the neck area work. With the label on the back on my neck, the pocket is still on the back of the right hand side of the shirt. It’s odd. As it happens, it’s also useful for things like hiking or jogging. Over the past two days, weather in Toronto jumped from minus ten to ten above zero. Jogging was a viable pastime, and with the Pokémon Go update, I had more reason, if ever I needed any, to get out and jog. That and using the shirt.
Turns out the pocket was perfectly suited to a house key and debit card. Despite running at speed, I never felt them bouncing against my back, the pocket held them fast. I zipped around, catching new Pokémon and rebooting the app every couple of minutes, just like last summer. It felt freeing to get out and remember what outdoor cardio was like. An unusual scenario for mid February in Toronto, but so welcome. I was stoked for my feet to be hitting the pavement, to build up a sweat, controlling my breathing as my heart rate rose. My muscles pushing, pulsing to keep up speed.
Still tired from yesterday, this morning’s jog was cut short. I was tired and jogging seemed more something to work back into than hit the ground… jogging? I got maybe twenty minutes in and began to make a bee-line for home. I noticed a large cardboard box that someone had left outside their home. It was filled with used pans, baking trays and chopping boards. I’d been looking for a sturdy plastic board so I snatched it up and headed home. Walking the steps to my front door, I reached around for my pocket. It was open. I put my hand in to check. Debit card? Still there. Front door key? Absent. Bummer. I could hardly blame the pocket, could I? I sighed and mentally retraced my steps. Friends were coming over in an hour to play Magic. At least I had my phone, but with no access to my house, I’d find it hard to invite them inside. I sighed again and physically retraced my steps.
I walked slowly, casting my gaze around. I thought positively. The key was gaudily leopard patterned, something I thought was dumb when my friend had it carved, by turned out to be a great way to find it in a cluster of silver keys. Or, y’know, the footpath. I thought negatively. What if I’d already passed it and the further I walked, the more distant I was getting? I crossed the street from my house, turned a corner, crossed another street, turned another corner, crossed another street. I began to despair before chastising myself. The worst that could happen would be going to a friend’s house sweaty and waiting for my girlfriend to finish work. Really nothing worth being worried over. Plus I had a phone, debit card and shoes. Also my shirt had a pocket! I was set. I lifted my head to see my key right in the middle of a busy intersection. Perfect.
So I ended the day with a new chopping board, a pretty roughed up house key and a valuable lesson on how not to use the pocket on my weird shirt type thing. All before lunch time.

It’s Go time again.

Am I gonna need to start packing a portable cell charger again? Pokémon Go is back! Bursting back onto the screens of former and present addicts alike, there are 80 new generation two pokémon to catch. It’d been a while since I’d loaded up the app for several reasons:

  • When I tried, I’d never get past the loading screen.
  • It’s the middle of winter, it’s been too cold to use a phone outside without those dorky smartphone gloves (and I lost mine).
  • The game kind of lost its appeal when it became endless grinding.
  • With work no longer 5km away, I couldn’t jog and play on the way.

Half of these excuses are still relatively relevant. Amazingly this morning, however, when I opened the app I actually got all the way to the play screen. Callooh callay! Within a couple of minutes I’d already found my first new pokémon; a Swinub. Pretty apt that a ground/ice pokémon is all over Toronto in the darkest heart of winter. It was almost emotional, getting reacquainted with this game that had totally absorbed me six months ago. Then I got reacquainted with all the bugs (glitches, not just Spinarak swarms). To be fair, the game only crashed 18 times today. I’m used to a 3-5 minute crash rate on average. I’ve written it off as part of the experience. Sometimes you’ve got to be diligent with things that are important to you. I get past the log screen in about a quarter of my attempts. Often a pokéstop will be enough to hang the game. Or trying to catch pokémon from a moving bus. Or rotating the screen too quickly. Or clicking basically any button. In short, playing the game isn’t too dissimilar from the dial-up porn experience. Once again, if you want something enough, you’ll wait. To be honest, the issues are probably either with my outmoded phone or slow mobile data plan. The price you pay for cheap, unlimited internet. Is it worth getting a new phone to run a mobile game better? Probably not. I’ll wait till this one dies.

Now the fun parts. New pokémon are everywhere. Seriously. So many shadowy outlines showing up in the tracker. Oh, that’s another thing. The tracker function is fucking tight. They’ve finally fixed it up and it works exactly like it should. A screen pops up with nine pokémon and the landmarks they’re near. Then if you click on the footsteps underneath the pokémon’s entry it’ll show you where that landmark is. It leads you directly to them, what more could you want? Surely there’s no need for online trackers any more? I can’t wait to get out there once the snow melts and run around.

There seem to be new items too. Two new berries with different effects. The nanab berries (they look like little pink bananas) slow the pokémon you’re trying to catch down. They’ll do their animations less often (always a pain in the ass if it’s a tough catch and they keep swatting your balls away). Pinap berries (a cross between a pineapple and a pinecone) seem sweet as. They’ll double the candy output when you catch the pokémon. If you’re desperate to evolve something, you could seriously cut down your required catches. Maybe I’ll finally evolve my starters after all.

The big guess is what all these new pokémon will do to battle tiers. We’ve got two new eveelutions, which could hopefully unseat some of the dominant heavy hitters. Is there anything that can deal with dragons? Any new ice types? Tyranitar was always a beast in the original games. How about Blissey as a defender? It always had so much goddamn life. How does battling even work any more? Did they balance movesets? Have certain attacks been nerfed? Does any of this actually matter any more? I have no idea.

But I intend to find out.

Still should’ve called it Pokémon Go Go Dancers.

If there was ever a perfect fusion of my boyhood and manhood I found it last night. Peepshow TO‘s Pokémon Go burlesque.

A show stacked with sexy, salacious performers dressed in their best Pokémon attire. A 10pm start time meant the crowd was well lubricated, lusty and baying for booty. Was there ever booty to be had. I’ve never really been into strip clubs. Something about the set up feels seedy, creepy and doesn’t click right with me. Burlesque, on the other hand, seems to focus much more on adherence to theme. It’s about using seductive titillation to lead the audience towards the routine’s climax. There’s a larger overall narrative and I fucking love seeing it all come together.

Now when you pair that with one of my central childhood obsessions, you’ve got me by the (poké)balls.

They went all out and dug deep into the theme. All the show assistants were dressed as drowzees (Toronto’s resident pest pokémon). There was a contest where two audience members were pulled on stage, given pikachu/bulbasaur headbands and baskets, then had to try catch styrofoam pokéballs thrown by audience members. All of the performers’ songs were neat double entendres or apt choices for character. The entry of every act was preceded by an in silhouette “who’s that pokémon?” game.

Oh, the acts? A huge number of performers with a range of styles and concepts. There was a pokémon “battle” between a sandshrew and cubone. Set to Christina Aguilera’s “Dirty” (because they’re both ground types, duh doy), it involved them stripping each other’s clothes off in choreographed sections and eventually having a pose-off. Evolution featured in a big way. A tame magikarp act grew into a gyrating gyarados performance, complete with water gun spray across the crowd (water gun being a water type move). An eeveelution trio had a fantastic synchronised routine in which vaporeon and flareon each tried to seduce the eevee into taking their elemental stone. A caterpie-come-dragon dance performance shifted into metapod, which opened up into an amazing butterfree costume complete with scale wing harness. It was naughty and silly and a total riot. A lickitung performance went in the only direction a lickitung burlesque performance could. There was a charizard complete with orange scale mail and fire poi. Mewtwo’s act involved an elaborate Team Rocket capture pantomime and psychic attacks launched from twirling nipple tassels.

One of the things that struck me about the event was the vast range of body shapes and sizes. It was outstanding to see such diverse representation and overflowing body positivity. Everybody brought the sexy, proving attitude is everything. I don’t know if it’s possible to be any more complimentary of the event, but if you’re reading this and have any interest I implore you to check out their Hanna Barbera show next month.

Because who doesn’t wanna see a sexy Yogi Bear?

Let’s face it. I’m just gunning for a replica Eddie Murphy Raw costume.

Tough Mudder is tomorrow, which means I’ve been going on about this for the past two months.

Isn’t retrospect interesting?

By far the most prophetic thing in the entry was the last line. Pokémon Go was a game changer. It did make fitness fun. As you can well read, I’d planned to jog a little here and there. Six workouts including runs. Instead, hatching eggs became a part time job. Six workouts a week became seven or eight, sometimes nine, all in pursuit of a snorlax with decent IVs. As you could tell by my relative silence over the past week, the allure of Pokémon Go is dying out a little. I’ve hardly turned the app on in the past few days, no longer content to deal with the bugginess and lack of enticing new goals to reach. Still, while it held me fast, it kept me moving fast. I ran well over 200km playing that game, not to mention the many kilometres run while the game crashed or stalled.

The chain reaction of all the extra cardio fed into the other large question mark. Food. I decided to not be as militant as last year, but still tighten up with a month to go. Because I’d been running so much, I reached my goals far earlier than I expected. Consequently I did not go cold turkey. I let myself have cake now and then. I had a boozy night or two. Compared to last year, it’s put me in a much better place mentally. I haven’t resented the stresses I’ve put myself under, instead I practised moderation a bit more than normal. The goal was never to come out of this experience with a six pack, but to get to a point where I could feel proud of my progress and comfortable with my body. You know what? I am. I’ve done a shit-ton of work and I’m pleased with the results. I like my shape, and where bits are a little more round than is considered conventionally attractive, I’m starting to see them as features rather than flaws.

Why?

I’m stronger than I’ve been in the past year. After a long reprieve from straight up weightlifting, I was amazed to have kept up. I can still lift and squat under heavy bars. I’ve also become much better at gauging my limits and gently prodding them rather than trying to barge them down. I’m more respectful of my body and treat it far kinder than I ever have. My muscles are responsive, meaning I can do all the things I want to do and then some. Best of all, constant recurring pains are at their ebb. I feel great physically and because of this, despite whatever long-held body image anxiety I have, I see the representation of that in the mirror. I acknowledge all the things I can do and in the face of that, it’s harder to focus on what I can’t.

Maybe talk to me again after a week of hard drinking and we’ll see how I feel then.

It must be all those weedles I’ve been catching lately.

The weather outside is frightful. The only thing prohibiting me from calling it a literal shitstorm is the fact that faeces isn’t raining from the skies. Outside is vacillating between hot and cold, but dedicated to the muggy lyfe. Today has seen both beaming sunshine and thunderstorms wet enough to flood the gutters. In short, being outside isn’t worth it and my air conditioning is worthy of deification right now.

This is one of those nights where I wish weed would just be legalised already. I don’t tend to talk about marijuana much here, mainly ’cause I’m a very occasional partaker. I’m a casual listener, I don’t know the discography by heart. It’s the kind of thing I’d do maybe a handful of times a year and only a puff or two. The feeling of smoking is pretty unpleasant. I’m a lightweight and as such, indicating that it’s part of my identity would make me a poser at best. Still, having a gummy or candy around on a night like tonight would be great. I’m tired and groggy. I can’t think of any aspirations grander than eating comfort food in front of silly, lightweight programming. My evening plans are basically stoner 101 anyway. Why not veg out with a substance that makes me feel squishy and comfortable?

It’s not like I’ve even had a gruelling day. I got up early and ran out to catch a lapras.  I saw a guy across the road going for it too. Catching it, I discovered it had cp 1649 with IVs of 91%, which is pretty great. Its moveset is unfortunately, hot garbage. Pretty much the worst lapras moveset possible. Net result, I’m still pretty stoked. I celebrated by taking down a bunch of gyms (just to help clear the neighbourhood infestation of those Gryffindor motherfuckers Team Valor). Unfortunately it was before my daily counter could update and now every local gym is beyond my reach. Big time bummer.

I finished off BoJack Horseman season three, then a friend came over to play Magic. We hung out, listened to some retrowave he’d recently gotten into (in his words, like a heavy synth John Carpenter soundtrack), played cards, made a pizza, then parted ways. Like I said, not a gruelling day.

Now imagine that after a weed candy. Imagine the excitement of finding that lapras, seeing its mystery “??” cp and wondering just how strong it’d be. Watching the pokéball tremble, seeing it break out time and time again. Each throw, ratcheting up the tension over whether it would run or not. Imagine the glee and satisfaction when I finally did, when those numbers revealed themselves. Imagine how victorious I’d feel stomping out local gyms, staking my claim for Team Instinct (yeah, I wanted to go Mystic but felt bad for not supporting the underdog). Pretty damn fun, I’d say.

Imagine chilling out with my friend under the heightened influence of the gummy. We’d joke together, get wrapped up so much more in the game. The music would feel more pronounced. The flavours and textures of the pizza would stand out all the more. With no pressures or responsibilities in the situation, we could’ve just chilled under the influence.

Does that really sound like a menace to society?