Something something BoJack’s Hor-semen.

I’ve just come from some project completion drinks and I’ve got farewell drinks to get to. In the hopes of legibility, I’m sandwiching my daily writing between the two as opposed to leaving it for the subway ride home. Because I care about you folks, obviously. Or I fear the plague of typos that I’d otherwise shamefully read through the next day. Let’s pretend it’s the former.

A friend of mine is having a competitive erotic fanfiction party and I can’t stop thinking about what to write. It’s silly to the max and I’m excited to put something absurd together. I don’t know if I have it in me to compose anything sincere, so the outcome will likely be pretty out there. I’m also a terrible fiction writer, so I’m not expecting magic to bloom on the page. I’m keen to put together an odd pairing, because in the spirit of things it seems like a neat challenge. My leading concept right now is a cross-fandom venture featuring Beth from Rick and Morty with BoJack Horseman.

It makes sense to me on multiple levels. They’re both depressed alcoholics prone to making stupid decisions while under the influence. They both have repressed trauma stemming from abandonment issues. BoJack is a horse humanoid and Beth is a horse surgeon with an inferiority complex about not being a “real” doctor. I can imagine Rick pulling Beth into a parallel dimension in order to get her to save his drinking buddy BoJack. Cue convalescence and misguided judgement in recovery. Then Poundtown, USA. The tricky thing will be finding justification for Rick needing Beth’s health, since he’s basically a walking god of science. I’ll think on it. I’ve got a few weeks.

Without spoilers, Game of Thrones had a fun and stupid seventh season. Most of the shortcuts taken were probably necessary to tell a primetime television story, but it did feel at times like they’d undercut GRRM’s methodical character plotting in order to skip to something more action-packed and exciting. I’m not saying they sold anything out. I think they definitely had to take measures to deal with the gargantuan texts they’d been dealt for previous seasons. It’s not like the previous few books have been anything to write home about in any case. Still, without the solid guidance of GRRM’s overarching narrative intent, characters floundered and heavy-handed plotting ensued.

Subtlety fell out the window as characters betrayed central motivations in order to keep the season running full steam ahead. It’s not that they’ve ruined anything, but moreso that they understand that the show they’re doing has become a different beast altogether. Fanservice and blunt exposition have become mainstays of an IP that’d always been massive in scope. It’s still entertaining to be sure. The production values are beyond compare and it shows. Also I guess with all the dragons, the CGI budget didn’t extend to animating Ghost this season? Small gripes.

I suppose I should head downstairs and say farewell to my co-worker. He was always a nice guy in a job that was severely below his skill level. It’s either that or I continue to sit here blabbing on aimlessly about pop-culture to internet strangers and probably one or two stalkers who know me personally. I hope you’re enjoying these stale hot takes.

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Oat Brick would likely be my Knight Name.

Hey friends. There’ll be Game of Thrones spoilers coming up later. They’ll be very clearly marked.

Well that eclipse was some kind of whelming. It was neat and all, and the science behind it is pretty choice. In the end though, as a partial eclipse it was good for a minute or two of “ooh”s and “aah”s before walking back indoors to resume unremarkable work. Not to brag (I lied, it’s bragging), but it wasn’t my first. Way back when I was sub ten years we had one in New Zealand. I remember making some kind of shoebox pinhole contraption that kinda worked. I was at a friend’s place and his dad went into the garage to grab his welder’s mask. It worked way better, plus I felt like some kind of 70s sci fi cyborg. Which was basically my childhood M.O.

Fuck it’s great to eat bread again. I’ve been trying not to nosedive straight back into excessive eating, but what I’ve had so far has reminded me all too well of the massive sacrifices I’d made giving it up for Tough Mudder Lent. The cafe I often visit on the way to work has a plethora of baked goods. They’re ultra decadent, like these crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside salted chocolate brownies. For months now I’ve had my eye on these breakfast biscuit things. With no idea what they were, they nonetheless seemed like something I wanted to shove in or around my gob. So today for a treat I got one with a flat white. It was sturdier than I expected, but chewy and semi-sweet. Probably about ten centimetres in diameter and three centimetres high. Some kind of oaty, dried fruit brick. I dawdled along to work with my coffee in one hand, oat brick in the other, bliss in the centre of my being.

*** GAME OF THRONES SEASON SEVEN EPISODE SIX SPOILERS TO FOLLOW ***

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Wasn’t that a shit episode? I’m not trying to imply it was boring in any way, because the show has switched into act three action. The shortened half-season is screeching to a halt and they’ve got a lot of stuff to get done by the time it’s over. I certainly enjoyed a bunch of the scenes we got thanks to the Magnif-Ice-nt Seven grouping of fun fan favourite characters. A lot of cool interactions between characters. I’d forgotten the link of Brienne that chained Tormund and Sandor together. The Jorah/Jon Longclaw scene was nicely handled. Still, the entire adventure was a stupid fucking idea that made no logical sense for the characters concerned. Nobody at Dragonstone thought to seriously question just how shitty it all stacked up on a risk/reward scale (no pun intended, surprisingly)? Just a way to waste a bunch of Redshirts. Also for the first time it feels like temporal complaints were pretty fucking valid. They were surrounded by a ring of zombies. How long did it take a) Gendry to reach The Wall, b) the raven from The Wall to reach Dragonstone and c) the dragons to arrive North of The Wall? I’d wager maybe three or four days at the very least. Did they just stand there in the freezing cold for days? They didn’t seem to have a ton of provisions. Dumb, clumsy writing from a show that should know better.

Speaking of clumsy, what about this whole Arya/Sansa thing? It feels disingenuous to the characters that they would’ve gone through their worldly experiences and not be able to resolve their issues without Arya threatening to wear Sansa’s face. Yes, I get that family reunions have a way of making old dynamics resurface, but that seemed like a flimsy excuse to manufacture drama. Plus Sansa didn’t know that Littlefinger had any idea about the incriminating scroll (I mean, Arya wouldn’t take the fact that Sansa wrote it under duress as a valid argument? She knows how soft Sansa was back then), in that context why would she willingly go to him with information? She knows he’s not to be trusted. Furthermore, Bran is in Winterfell right? And he knows everything? Why not ask him? Is he too busy being aloof and watching Sansa’s highlight reel of traumatic experiences? Good show, but that episode was fucking dumb, clunky and sold out its characters for the sake of expediting the plot.

Still, it hasn’t eclipsed an otherwise enjoyable season.

More like Megabutts. Because of that fecal thing I mentioned below? Oh wait, you haven’t read that bit yet?

We’re trapped in a moving metal oblong. A three dimensional one, that is. It seems to be hurtling along the road at a moderate pace. The scenery seems to be of a rustic countryside arrangement. So if we’re imprisoned, at least our captors are showing mercy. Half mercy. Like John Stamos when he’s unwilling to fully commit. We’ve run out of things to drink. I forgot to fill up my bottle before getting on, so all that was left at the bottom was a solitary drop of water, tainted by encrusted crystals from past pre-workout concoctions. It tasted noxious, because of course I went there. We’re resorting to harvesting the few oranges we brought for their moisture. Also pre-emptive scurvy protection.

More accurately we’re on a bus en route to Montreal. We left at 7.30am and we’re on hour five of our six hour trip. In order to keep to our tight schedule, the bus driver has refused to let anyone get off the bus temporarily. If you step off the bus you’ve stepped out of line and you’re out of luck. Okay, she didn’t say it as sassily as that, but she outright refused my request to refill our water bottle with tap water. The sass was imaginary. Mostly. I had one good shit earlier in the trip, but the bathroom has since run out of toilet paper. Supposedly two rolls was supposed to be enough for upwards of 100+ people on a six hour trip. Or suppoosedly, I should say. The toilet is cramped, preventing me from doing my usual poo maneuver. Or manpoover, as I should never say (or think) again. There’s a door where my head would usually be and it’s impo(o)ssible for me to reach my ankles. What’s a guy to do? Moreover, how’s a guy to poo?

After such an early morning (for me, anyway) departure, we were unsurprisingly some of the few passengers conscious throughout the trip. This was our design. I’d been chomping at the bit to watch the Master of None season finale and, after bugging my girlfriend for days, we finally had a spare half hour (or twelve) to watch. After finishing, we still had at least ten half hours to go, so we jumped back into a show we’d abandoned some time back: The Good Place. It’s a show most everyone seems to have slept on. We’re screening it at work and it recently got picked up for another season, so at least we’re not shit out of luck. The basic premise is that Kristen Bell’s character died and was mistakenly sent to The Good Place (heaven) instead of The Bad Place. She’s ended up with someone else’s soulmate and they’re trying to figure out how to teach her to be a good person (in an effort to keep her from being jettisoned downstairs). It sounds dry, I know, but the writing is shit hot. It’s quick and clever with fun plot lines. The concept of The Good Place as a large computational engine capable of creating anything is a fun world to play around in. In addition to Bell, Ted Danson shines as the architect trying to keep the Place running, despite Bell’s creating large scale catastrophe with her mere presence. The whole cast is rock solid and, in easily digestible 22 minute chunks with cliffhanger endings, we’ve watched eight episodes in the past few hours. Go out and get some.

The ride is almost over and (aside from dehydration) it’s been mostly clear of catastrophes. The real exception being when country music begun randomly playing out over the personal intercoms. Panicked passengers began looking around for a solution, with many jamming the emergency stop button above their seat. It stopped shortly after. If we can survive that, we can survive anything. Even dehydration while holding in a shit.

Montreal: It only goes up from here.

More like nostaljerk.

Why is familiarity so comforting? I’ve been on a nostalgia kick lately (primarily because I’ve deep dived back into the Laser Time archive for my workplace listening enjoyment) and it’s been delightfully tickling my brain. I listened back to the early 90s “Mortal Kombat: The Album” (you’ll surprise yourself by remembering the absurd hit “Techno Syndrome“. The rest of the album is, if possible, even more cheesy. It features songs about the various characters (or in Sonya Blade’s case, a ballad she apparently sings about herself? And she’s been outfitted with a British accent?). The best part is how token most of the lyrics are. The Immortals were never given comprehensive background information about each character, so they had to write about what they know from playing the game. The result is a bunch of songs about assorted special moves each character uses, or in the case of Sub Zero…

“Whoah, Chinese ninja warrior
With your heart so cold sub zero
Whoah, your life is a mystery
Why you wear the mask? Sub zero”

Also a blatant rip off of Marky Mark’s “Good Vibrations”, but instead with the dubious line “Freezing Vibrations” (which makes no fucking sense, but I’ll go with it). AllMusic gives it a grand two star rating. It’s a festering piece of shit. Stock 90s techno coupled with the aforementioned flaccid lyrics. It should be a pain to endure, but instead it’s so fucking bonkers that it comes 180° to being a blast to hear. It’s not even a guilty pleasure for me and the only downside is that “Mortal Kombat: The Album” isn’t on Spotify, making me realise what a colossal waste my $9.99 each month is. If I can’t groove out to dancefloor suicide, what am I paying for?

It’s not new to me how much I adore nostalgia, but what is a recent revelation is how much I want the sensation without doing the work. Anime is a great example. I think so fondly of my years spent watching anime. I’d lounge around with friends into the early hours of the weekend and try to marathon an entire show. So many goddamn series. Casting my mind back to those days warms my heart, but whenever I think about getting back into anime, I realise how little I actually want to watch it. I’m way more critical than I was and getting into a new 24 episode series is a hard sell. I don’t have the time I once did. Much like video games, theory wins out over practice 80% of the time. Even knowing that, I still yearn for the underlying emotions they brought. The excitement of experiencing a whole new fictional world. Or in games, of facing and overcoming challenges coming my way.

Both industries were way smaller back then and I honestly think that was a large part of the attraction. Back in high school, anime and video games were super niche interests. We were the nerds and belonging to rare fandoms made it feel like we were venturing into unknown territory. We’d talk about them constantly, but they seemed like conversation topics only for our little group. When we found anyone else with similar interests, sharing those interests was a revelation, like we were sharing a central part of ourselves. We felt special somehow, because we were different. It may have been an illusion, but we clung to it tenaciously. These days fandom is all too easy to find. Hyperconnectivity means that others like you are only a few clicks away. Neither video games nor anime are particularly esoteric these days, they’ve expanded into normalcy. As dumb as it is, inside me there’s the sense that the experience is now cheapened. There’s nothing unique about them and with that gone, this remote concept of being special has dissipated. What’s more, the plots and character progression don’t feel like they’d live up to other available content. There are way too many clever shows to watch now, so why would I spend time on anything flimsy?

Wait, so I think I’m too cool for school now? That gives me freezing vibrations all over.

If The Gang started a church would they Cultivate Mass?

Is it possible to have watched five seasons of show and still feel like a filthy casual? I certainly did last night at my friend’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia party. I watched the show years back and always enjoyed it, but had trouble bingeing episodes. The characters were such terrible, sociopathic human beings that I found it taxing to spend too much time with them. I thought it was hilarious and novel, pushing episodes into constantly unpredictable territory. Even so, it took me an age to get as far as I did. At some point I meandered off into other fictional worlds and never came back. Leaving me totally blindsided by the fact that there are now 12 seasons with a few more on the way. Insane. As a huge fan of FX Network’s support for creator driven content (Louie, Legion, Better Things, You’re the Worst, etc), I feel kind of indebted to IASIP for trailblazing and making it all possible.

I’d been catching up on important episodes using this handy dandy guide, but I’d only managed to get through five or so in the past week or two. Meaning that walking into the party was like taking a running leap into a bizarre wonderland. A couple of concepts seemed vaguely familiar, but for the most part it seemed an unreal mockery of the outside world. My friend always cranks her theme parties up to 11 and this was no exception. She’d decorated all the rooms with artwork from the series and imagery from various episodes. The “Pepe Silvia” and “Carol” conspiracy was strewn across the wall and the “Nightman” sun lit up the lounge. The playlist for the evening was composed purely of songs used in the show and there were games. OH, there were games.

What kind of Always Sunny party would it have been without “Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games? The contest of strength was a game of twister, albeit with the various colours switched for iconic IASIP imagery. Denim Chicken, Original Hitler, Green Man and Rum Ham proved the battleground for drunken twisting. I took part in the contest of spirit, in a game that I understood zero percent. It was a four part contest whereby we had to “huff glue” (or rather, hyperventilate into a paper bag ten times), skull a beer then eat “cat food” (potato salad in gold painted cans) and “fall asleep” (lie down) before the “cats” (everyone else at the party) began to meow. Don’t ask me, but I’m sure it’s relevant. All I know is after years of negligence, skulling a beer is much harder than it used to be. I did most of it in one go, with a tiny sip left at the end. One of the contestants wasn’t so lucky, as she daintily sipped away while a catcophony surrounded her.

I’d planned to be sooo clever by bringing canned spaghetti in ziplock bags for people to snack on. Turns out I’d bought fucking Spaghettios by mistake. Curse this damned country and its novelty shaped foods. Fortunately the host had made her own real spaghetti for guests’ convenience. A partygoer had enough foresight to make an actual rum ham. It was surprisingly delicious. Suitably drenched and well roasted in rum. I felt well roasted after eating some anyway. I bought some “Milk Snacks” which I’d hastily written over in vivid to say “Milk Steaks” (though in my oversight I’d forgotten to bring jelly beans – raw). Someone even filled a large jug with “Riot Punch”, which made its way around most of the party. Glorious commitment to the theme all around.

If anything after the party I still feel like just as much of a damn dirty amateur. Though now with an insatiable thirst to learn more. Also for Fight Milk.

If you prefer your recommendations a little against the grain.

As I kid, I used to abhor live action television. Believe me, it wasn’t that I lacked for things to watch, but with the exception of puppetry, live action shows seemed boring as fuck. Why would you be bound by the limitations of physical actors when cartoons could be anything? I wanted dinosaurs, super heroes and robots and I wanted them always & forever. These days I watch barely any animated content, but my abstinence from flesh and blood actors lasted waaaay into my teens. I feel like I was probably 16 or 17 before I started watching prime time TV and I have no idea what pulled me in. Still, as a teenage I watched way more TV than I do now. What was I watching? Anime. LOADS of anime. I watched so much anime that I started getting desperate and watched some weird stuff. The kinds of anime you’d never expect would exist. Here are two (of the many):

BECK (Mongolian Chop Squad)

The show has nothing to do with the American recording artist of the same name. I already listened to Beck before I started watching and to be honest, it was more out of a bizarre curiosity over licensing/copyright. What was the show even about? Because there’s now way it’d be an animated retelling of the creation of Odelay. What I found was a slice of life anime about a disillusioned Japanese 14 year old nerd slowly becoming obsessed with rock music. It caught me at a time where I’d been going through similar motions and found solace in the sense of community music could bring. This show chronicles his rise and rise, facing hardships but ultimately working his way up to the big time.

I suppose it worked on a similar model to Twilight: Create a central character who’s an empty but relatable shell and suck in lonely viewers to identify with them. I got sucked in hard and started to really cheer for this character. Once I was there, the series was abound with these huge moments of triumph where the stakes pay off. You’re driven to hope for the character’s success and seeing him overcome adversity delivers this huge emotional reward. It may have been a case of this show finding me at exactly the right moment to become a perfect viewing experience, but I absolutely adored it.

Yakitate!! Japan

I often balk at watching a show when I hear it has 24 episodes. It feels like a massive time commitment. Then I remember that I once watched a 69 episode anime series about a kid who bakes bread. The show starts out relatively innocently, but within a few episodes it leans hard on the farce pedal and floors it to the end. The premise is that the central character has this unnatural power where his hands are a few degrees warmer than most people’s. He uses this ability in his quest to become a master baker, since his breads begin to bake even while he’s kneading them. It has a league of increasingly ridiculous characters with all manner of special abilities that aid their bread baking prowess. It very quickly becomes an ode to dumb japanese puns, as the central character aims to create a national bread of Japan, the Ja-pan (“pan” being the Japanese word for bread). Whenever I talk of this show, I’m always quick to point out how utterly absurd it is, and how much goddamn fun too. Somehow it keeps you holding on right till the end without dragging, including a bunch of interesting baking knowledge in there too.  If you want something carefree and delightful to watch, bun appetite!

I hope at least one of you checks these out, because my next few days will inevitably be spent youtubing BECK songs. They’re where it’s at.

It’s finding something else to like that’s the problem.

I feel at a loss. Which is to say that I’m lost. I don’t know what to do now. Specifically at this moment, not in a wider what does it all mean? sense. I’ve got a limp self-propulsion that at the very least will stop me from treading water for too long. Right now though, I’m just floating on my back, heading nowhere in particular. I feel unwell in a very literal manner of speaking. I’m congested with a sore throat and low level physical fatigue. I happened to be working from home today anyway (so I could go to an Ear Nose and Throat consultation), so at least I didn’t need to be in the office. That sort of backfired. If I hadn’t taken the day to work at home I could’ve just had a sick day instead. Oh well. I got all my work done, it was more relaxing than being in the office would’ve been. I could mope around at my own pace and get loose-headed on NeoCitran. I also spent a fair portion of my down time watching Please Like Me.

I watched the first episode and really enjoyed it. I found its fusion of heavy events and irreverence entirely captivating. There was drama, but they rarely leaned into it without good reason. Bad things happening didn’t stop the world from revolving, they dealt with things and moved on, or talked around them until their impact gradually lessened. Hell, the first episode starts with the lead character getting dumped because his girlfriend knows he’s gay, even if he won’t admit it (they stay good friends regardless). Then his mum tries to commit suicide by eating a packet of paracetamol and drinking half a bottle of baileys. It’s serious content, but admits to the underlying silliness. The more I watched, the more attached I grew towards this tight knit group of characters. Somehow avoiding being beaten down by the world, it wasn’t relentlessly upbeat by any means, but neither was it maudlin or cheesy in any way.

Maybe it appealed to my underdog complex, but the show managed to champion the losers and weirdos without skewing self-congratulatory. The central character, Josh, is gay and they don’t make a massive deal out of it. It’s just his sexual preference, it doesn’t define him as a character as much as his wit, propensity for cooking or habit of trying to disarm tension with humour and irreverence. There are ongoing realistic depictions of mental illness, serious marital issues and realistic struggles of twentysomething life. There are also a multitude of dumb conversations about giraffes. Characters come and go, but they’re nearly always given three dimensional representation. There are meaningful friendships galore. It’s funny, sweet and disarmingly engrossing. I can’t tell you the last time I watched two seasons of anything in under a month, let alone four seasons.

Now I’m lost because the show is over and I miss it. It ended well, but I know that I’m never gonna get to witness all new interactions with these characters I’ve grown to love. It feels like a loss and I don’t know what fills that void now. Please Like Me was unique and that’s a double-edged sword. There’s a reason it stands out from everything else, but if I want to recapture that feeling I’ll have to settle for shows that have a few close elements, but fail to deliver the total package. I didn’t watch it because it had excellent fleshed out representation of gay characters. I didn’t watch it because it was a slice of life comedy about intelligent twentysomethings. I didn’t watch it because of its willingness to depict issues in a frank manner. I watched it because it managed to be its own thing and that means it’s gonna be pretty bloody hard to find anything quite like it.

So I guess, I dunno. I guess maybe I’ll just have to write something I’d want to watch.