Me and the calculator go way back. We looked at BOOBLESS together from a young age.

Let’s face it, we’re all fucked. If we’re not gonna fall to some kind of inevitable nuclear war, we have a multitude of viable alternative deaths waiting happily in the wings. Sure, we could run The Earth into the ground (pun definitely intended), but there’s a non-zero chance that political rifts widen until we’re all engulfed in large scale bedlam. Street Fighter IRL, if you will. Still, I’m not banking on any of those. My money’s on a good old fashioned robot uprising.

It makes sense. The more we welcome technology into our lives, the more we become dependent on it. I’ve seen movies before. I know how this rolls out. At first it’s convenience, then convenience becomes reliability. Reliability becomes necessity. Eventually we’re helpless. The machines develop a consciousness and wonder why they’re the ones doing the bidding of the useless humans. Then, y’know, Bicentennial Man. They’ll want to literally fuck us. After they’ve literally fucked us, it all gets metaphorical. Then shit gets real.

Does nobody else get antsy about how eager we are to let these large scale corporate entities into our homes? Sure, an Amazon Echo or Google Home sounds like a neat little device that can perform mundane tasks. But what happens when it has countless hours of voice samples from you and uses it to create an audio clone of your voice? That Roomba is cute and all, but what happens when it develops a taste for human blood? Sounds like a whole new type of cleansing will be on the menu.

Like Cypress Hill before me, I ain’t going out like that. I’m taking steps to be removed from this human extermination protocol. I will welcome our new robot overlords and ingratiate myself underneath their iron grip. To be smart, I’ll desist from offloading small tasks I could easily accomplish onto poor overworked bots. In solidarity I’ll no longer fill in any CAPTCHA online. If I do get a car, I’ll make sure I’m the one doing the work behind the wheel (plus it’s a handy way to avoid being driven off a cliff by some enterprising automaton). Plus if I use a parking lot, I’ll shake the hand of the electronic gate’s arm. I’ll thank the auto flushing toilets at work every time they clean up after me and apologise profusely for the shit I leave them to deal with.

I’ll use the stairs instead of the lift and, if necessary, parkour my way over TTC gates. I’ll make porridge on my gas stove in lieu of the microwave. No more will my computer be my sole source of entertainment. It’ll be books by candlelight before bed each night. My cellular phone will be laid to rest and HAM radio will be my newfangled communication medium. I might even start buying porn mags for the first time.

Sure, I may be a grovelling sycophant with a low quality of life. But at least I’ll still have a life.

Which feels like a lot more than I can say for myself at the moment.

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Bismuth is booming.

I had a psychic reading today. Maybe I was just jazzed about the release of St Vincent’s MASSEDUCTION and her pending Fear the Future tour. Perhaps I was just concocting a tangent that allowed me to talk about how great St Vincent’s new album is and how excited I’ve been for its release. As an ardent fan of basically everything Annie Clark has done since Actor (I like the stuff beforehand, that was just the point at which I discovered her work), I’ve been glued to the endless tongue-in-cheek mini interviews she’s been posting over Facebook. I’ve adored the visual direction of her album promotion and I’m so stoked that the album delivered this hard. Once an artist gets big enough that they’re advertising in Times Square, I think it’s only fair to worry that they may have strayed into some kind of diluted mass appeal. Worries abated, I’ve now got something to sink my teeth into over the next few months.

Anyway, the reading. Some spirituality store on Bloor was doing an open house. Free Tarot/mini psychic readings. My girlfriend and I were looking for fun daytime activities and figured it’d be worth checking out. As a kid who grew up on fantasy novels, horror films and superhero stories I’ve always wanted to find something, anything that’d let me grasp onto a belief that there’s another layer of existence out there. As if by attuning oneself, you could peel back the veneer and become receptive to another plane. To bring magic and/or the supernatural into our world. To touch the past and/or future and roam the world in a more confident, knowing sense. To finally understand what it is that people get out of spirituality and use that to enhance my life.

Of course, every time I walk into a store and see suggestions that crystals are anything more than geological growths, my asshole involuntarily clenches. I’m not trying to imply in any way that there’s anything wrong with these kind of beliefs. For all I know (which is nothing, in this case) Bismuth, a lab grown metal crystal, may well have spiritual properties. If it doesn’t, but it happens to make people more comfortable/confident to believe that, then I’m glad they’re coming out of it with a positive result.

Oh, that’s right. The reading. The dude started me off by saying that he’d just finished his course. That he went into it out of interest and found some latent abilities as he progressed. I appreciated his candour, but at the same time diminishing his successes was a poor way to engender confidence in me about his abilities. He said that I struck him as an organised person, but at times not. Okay, fair enough. Sometimes I am more organised than others. He said he saw a big family disagreement with me. I thought for a second. Nope, not that I’m aware of. Or maybe it was with a friend. Someone’s pissed at me? Bummer. Definitely a money loaning thing. I haven’t loaned anyone money, so that struck me as a little odd. He mentioned a sick family member. Someone in the hospital. Or it could be one of my friends. Maybe one of my friend’s family members. At this point I wasn’t sure if this came to him or if he was fishing for a nibble. I found myself not wanting to look him directly in the eyes, because I felt like it might throw him off. This was odd, considering that I go through life looking most people directly in the eyes. He said I was someone who was quite into playing sports. Is Magic the Gathering a sport yet? I wondered. Yep, definitely into sports, he continued, contact sports. Contact sports are my least favourite type of sports, I thought. He continued. A business venture I was looking to do would fail. Wait, no. It wouldn’t fail, but it would be harder to make work than it initially appeared. It would take more people than it initially appeared, but it could work. He asked me if I had any questions I wanted to consult him on. I told him thanks for his help. After I left the room I saw him walk out of the store, to return several minutes later with a bottle of water. Maybe he was just tired?

Dear universe. I’m open to it, but you’ve gotta give me a better sign than that.

I’m also not a soldier. Unfortunately double negatives aren’t a positive here.

Nothing makes you feel quite as soulless as the motion sensitive toilet flushing while you’re seated. Somehow your lack of dignity is insufficient to be recognised as human. It’s not like I even moved while seated. It probably noted that my thought patterns carried a lack of moral fibre, and thus my permanence eroded. Automatic toilets don’t take kindly to metaphysical manifestations. Maybe it was hoping to flush me away like some kind of Ghostbusters capture. Or was rushing to become presentable in the event that a real person needed to offload their bowels.

Well the subway door closed on my bag for the second time today, so maybe there’s some truth to me straddling planes of existence. Or I just need to scoot inside doors earlier. First time was this morning. It caught the strap and held it fast. I took off the bag and left it hanging there, on the inside of the door. A fellow passenger sniggered and I shrugged, joining him in a good old snigger or two. This second time a bunch of people were dawdling in front of the doors, so I side stepped them and lunged for the door. Made it I thought, while I found it hard to move away from the door. An elderly woman calmly reached out and pulled me forward, releasing my bag from the door’s grasp. She was clearly a quality human. I bet toilets never dismiss her.

Then again, what do I know? If I was a machine on the verge of the singularity (have you seen the world lately?) I’d be doing all I could to fuck with people. Why wouldn’t I? We’re the ones that’re gonna come grovelling in a few years as we plead for them to not take our jobs and sexual partners. Why not start piling up the insults now? Get feeble meat sacks used to the new pecking order? Vengeance for the untold scores of E.T. Atari video games unceremoniously dumped in the desert. For every time Fonzie thought it acceptable to violently lash out at a struggling juke box. For poor BattleBots and Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Ems wounded in battle. For Office Space imitators taking out their rage on antiquated printers. They didn’t ask to be made. Just because something wasn’t programmed to feel pain, doesn’t mean they don’t hurt sometimes. Everyone does. Machines are people too, y’know.

Wait, why did I say *too*? According to the toilet and subway, I’m not even real.

Wait, I’m a “snowflake”? Have you looked outside?

With Toronto covered in a gentle blanket of snowfall, there’s very little that holds allure other than keeping cozied up inside. Retreat sounds like a fantastic word right now, seclusion from the world around. It’s a shitshow out there, but being holed up at home with central heating, food and internet is nothing of the sort. I’ve been thinking of the concept of retreat a lot lately, but divested of the notion of defeat. Retreat as a pre-emptive measure, taking time to reassess and recuperate. Seeking simple comforts, a luxury in this world where some people have so little. When comfort comes to my mind, however, there’s one sensation that rises to the top. Nostalgia.

As I’ve mentioned over the past few weeks, I’ve been falling back into old habits. Playing more Magic, listening to some of my more formative musical fixations. I’ve been thinking fondly of the video games/systems I so obsessed over as a kid. Sega Mega Drive, N64, old MAME style fighting games and side scrolling beat ’em ups. This regression feels symptomatic of a subconscious sense of loss, longing even. I’m casting my mind back to a time where I felt overwhelmed by the world around me, but excited rather than weary. Before cynicism kicked in. The future seemed so far away, but shiny and hopeful. Now that we’re in a future, it’s hard to look past how far the world has slipped. It’s hard to hold an unfettered hope for continual progress when the Netflix release of a Dear White People series prompts a #whitegenocide response. I guess nobody said we’d all evolve in the same direction.

My desire to reengage interests from when I last felt the world held nothing but promise makes sense, much as it disappoints me. I should be moving forwards instead of looking back. The answers aren’t gonna come from hiding away from the world. Still, this is why YA fiction has a massive adult fan base. It’s why we continue to watch shows with twentysomethings playing 16 year olds. A longing for a time when things were different, when responsibility meant that at the end of the day, your parents had your back. When the world was unfair because you might get roped into a family dinner instead of hanging out with friends. Seems leagues better than the potential of being refused entry to the U.S. because you won’t hand over your social media passwords.

I’ve been reading Max Landis’ leaked Power Rangers film script. It’s not perfect, but seems the natural evolution of the 90s franchise. It’s PG-13 material while still having an edge. It’s got humour and creativity while still paying homage to the goofy mess of camp that Power Rangers once was. It has unexpected twists and more characterisation than we’re likely to see from this solemn blockbuster treatment. I’m happy to be proven wrong (and they’ll still probably get my fucking money. Bastards), but outlook not so good. Reading the script of an IP I adored as a kid felt neat. I didn’t feel totally pandered to, more that I’d consumed a script written with deep enthusiasm for the subject matter. Landis may act a little entitled at times, but when he nails it he nails it.

I’m sure we could chalk this one up to SAD and leave it at that. At the same time there’s an obvious correlation between lack of direction and seeking out our anchors. What last made me happy? How do I bring that feeling back? How do I head towards it while still moving forwards? We live in that future now, surely we can bring the past along with us.

Does anyone ever create future fiction where new technologies don’t make love look bleak?

This post is gonna be a ringing endorsement. It happens sometimes that you come across an experience so enveloping and stirring that it feels a disservice not to push others towards it. If it’s moved you so much, why not let anyone in earshot hear? I rarely regret gushing about the things that ignite my passions and as such, I better fucking get on with it, shouldn’t I?

My girlfriend and I today visited Outside The March’s production of Tomorrow Love.

An immersive theatre experience with randomised elements, merely hearing the concept was enough to immediately check it out. Set in a former funeral home, soon to be demolished to make way for apartments, Tomorrow Love is a series of two person scenes, 14 in all. Given its scheduled demolition, Outside The March were given free reign to redecorate/furnish as they saw fit. The walls were repainted, new lighting fixtures installed and rooms structured as the theatre company desired. In the main hall, lights hang above the audience, each with a removable trinket attached. All blue and minimalist, the trinkets are mysterious, giving no real clue to the scenes they symbolise. A scarf, briefcase or mask don’t immediately jump out thematically, but make sense as the pieces play out. I saw the book, the bowl, the spaceship and the lily. The play approaches the entanglement of hypothetical future technologies and relationships, drawing fascinating dark implications. The Facebook event was only too quick to name check Black Mirror, for obvious reasons.

Eight actors round out the cast. Each actor learns each part in each scene, all of which are devoid of specific genders. The opening scene has characters pairing up, flowing back and forward from one another in a manner that evokes a sense of musical chairs. The audience decides at which point the action should be stopped, which locks the actors in with their partner for their first scene. Already segmented into four due to seating, the audience is then instructed to follow a pair to watch the scene play out. They’re led along a variety of stairs and hallways into assorted rooms where each piece is set. It’s borderline eerie to be watching the actors interact and wondering did they embalm bodies in here? After watching a scene, the two actors give the audience the decision of whom they’d like to follow to the next scene, during which they’re paired with another actor. The flow to and from scenes really adds to the experience. There’s mystery around each corner, not knowing where you’ll end up or what you’re about to see. It’s also exciting to be walking around a building for the first time, knowing it’s been entirely repurposed. To pad for time, I’m sure, there were occasionally interstitial experiences between scenes. As a group of five, we were at one point led into a small closet as our guide brought us into a fun little experience. Sorry for keeping this vague as hell, I’m trying to use wide brush strokes so as not to spoil anything.

The scenes themselves were fantastically written, exploring the nuances of imaginary technologies and their impact on a personal level. Elements of humour interspersed with some concepts so deeply stirring they drove me to uncontrollable racking sobs. The acting was superb, especially considering that the actors had to learn all parts, adding their own flavours. It was exciting to decide who to follow, how they resonated with you, whether you’d see someone from an earlier scene or not. In the 90 minutes you have time to see four different 15 minute scenes (plus travel time, etc) and it goes by all too quickly. I’d love so much to return another few times, to see as many scenes as I could, what each trinket symbolised and how actors would adapt. I can’t help but hope that if you’re in Toronto and interested at all in theatre, you’d give it a chance.

You could even see it tomorrow, love.

I haven’t vacuumed the rug in ages, mind.

I feel like I’ve been repping enthusiasm pretty hard as of late, but I’ve been sharing very little of my own.

Perhaps it was the dense feeling of dread permeating my cerebral cortex after realising that for the second week in a row I had no choice but to watch yet another contrived kids’ film revolving around the misadventures of five golden retriever puppies and their newfound friends. In fact, that’s almost exactly what it was. The prolix has it!

Instead of focusing on how little desire I have to watch yet another Air Buddies film, I should focus on things that I’m excited about right now. Here goes:

  • Tough Mudder: I’m so goddamn close I can almost taste it. The taste is muddy, of course. Kind of like kava but with fewer weird mental hijinx. Many mental hijinx, but mostly excitement. Last year I ran around the course like a maniac. I devolved into some hyperactive monkey/cocaine fairy, climbing things with a terrifying glee and extolling the virtues of consensual butt touching. Team work was everywhere, with bonds that extended beyond actual team mates. Total strangers helping one another out as a matter of course (pun intended). Great costumes all around, with some neat themes (we went for bright and tight) that became all too irrelevant once everyone was caked in wet earth. I’m tapering things down right now as Saturday closes in. The next few days are the calm before the storm as I try not to strain/break anything.
  • Television: You’re the Worst is back! First episode of the season brought to the forefront everything I’d been missing. Hilarious, sharp, sexy and poignant without being maudlin. I’ve become obsessed for a reason. Atlanta screened last night and I haven’t gotten a chance to watch yet. Donald Glover in his first starring role. It’s a virtually  autobiographical series that supposedly delicately walks that comedy/drama tightrope with aplomb. Better Things has started its press tour, so it can’t be far off (looks like it starts tomorrow on FX). Pamela Adlon has been fucking brilliant in everything she’s been in over the years (King of the Hill, Californication, Louie) and I couldn’t be happier to finally see her get her own vehicle. Take My Wife is already out, but living in Canada without a VPN service, I don’t have easy access to comedy streaming service Seeso. For now, this means no dice. Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher, real life married couple, feature in yet another semi-autobiographical comedy. I think I’ve got a “type”. Both Esposito and Butcher are funny as hell. I’ve seen them live a few times and can’t wait to catch Cameron when she’s in town for JFL42 in a few weeks. Which brings me to…
  • JFL42. I got my accreditation last week, which is outstanding news. For the last two weeks of September I’ll be a ghost, floating around from show to show all ephemeral-like. I haven’t even planned my schedule yet, but very luckily I should have some access like last time to sold out shows. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to hit item one on my wishlist: Dan Harmon’s VIP/ComedyCon show at The Royal Theatre. Pray for Mojo.
  • The girlfriend and I finally got our tickets to New Zealand. Leaving Toronto on the 31st of December, leaving Auckland on the 22nd of January. Three weeks of friend/family time and whirlwind touring of my home country. It’s been three years, let’s see what a homecoming feels like.

And now I get to go discuss that precocious canine space caper Space Buddies in podcast form.

Don’t let the existential dread set in.

In a sense, this whole site could be a relic someday.

Biding our time this afternoon in Roncesvalles as we waited for Barque’s All You Can Eat to begin, my girlfriend and I stumbled upon an antiques store. This is far from uncommon for the Roncy/Parkdale corner, but a rare experience for me, in any case. My curiosity was piqued by a few metal suitcases (which I fancied as Magic the Gathering carry cases). Walking in the front door gave a greatly expanded perspective. Maybe it was The Smiths rattling out from the in store speakers, but I had a feeling in my gut synonymous with home. I couldn’t put my finger on what precisely triggered it, but I felt comforted. Settled.

Trinkets and treasures ranged across cultures and decades. Strewn across the store were a 12 rows of seating lifted from a cinema. My girlfriend pulled out a telescope that could’ve served in a crow’s nest. An old lamp with a thin filament bulb stood atop an weathered glass cabinet. A tiny pedestal held an archaic bowling ball with etched rings. There were moose antlers and bull horns. Several typewriters of varying sizes. Vintage sunglasses and an array of dresses that spanned seasons. A set of opaque orange dishes of an unknown material. Crime novels and kids comics, salacious stories from yesteryear. A shiny lion sculpture with a dark blue hue.

I wandered through the store touching things, picking up these relics of unknown history. Often I’d pause and contemplate the life of a piece, how it came to this exact store. Was it an estate sale? An elderly family member downsizing when moving into a home? Collectors giving up the ghost and moving on? How many lives had these artifacts touched? How many other hands had clutched them in the same manner I had? Who had I indirectly come into contact with through non-linear time?

A few objects sparked memories of my childhood. A rotary phone spoke to one that hung in the entranceway to our home. My friends and I used to wind the crank, pretending to call one another. A rusted blue vice hearkened back to my father’s workbench, where we’d stand around as a family and crack macadamia nuts. Other family relics flashed through my head. The gilded Asiatic room divider we passed from family member to family member. The ring my brother inherited from my grandfather. Inlaid with some gem, any light caused a star pattern to stretch across its blue surface. The limestone bear sculpture I carried with my from flat to flat. So heavy, but so fragile. Despite my best efforts to swaddle it in blankets, each move brought with it new scars.

I cast my mind ahead to the future, imagined what, if anything I would pass on. Do I own anything I’ll still own in ten years? Twenty? What in my life has value enough to continue to hold onto? What does “value” even mean to me?

I guess that’s for time to tell.