I’m a bad son and a worse sun.

It’s Earth Day tomorrow! Don’t let the exclamation mark fool you, I’m having trouble mustering up enthusiasm for the holiday. It’s not that I don’t care about our dear Mother Earth, but I’m unused to offering her much thought in my day to day (I’m sure my blood mother probably feels the same). I mean, it’s also the National Day of Puppetry, which is neat. Plus International Marconi Day, which feels far more important. He did pioneer long distance radio transmission, which ties directly into the career I loved the most. Why isn’t International Marconi Day a bigger deal? Does the Earth think the universe revolves around it or something? So how to celebrate…

How about a playlist?

  • Ben Harper – “Ground on Down”
  • Pink Floyd – “Mother”
  • David Bowie – “Dust to Dust”
  • Foo Fighters – “Enough Space”
  • The Beatles – “Revolution 9”
  • Joy Division – “Atmosphere”
  • Grizzly Bear – “Deep Blue Sea”
  • Animal Collective – “Grass”
  • The Flaming Lips – “Do You Realize??”

Well that would fill all of 40 minutes. How else could I celebrate? I could…

  • Plant a tree.
  • Mow the lawn.
  • Uproot those annoying plants in my backyard.
  • Stare once again at the pile of dead trees that’s been amassing for years in my carport, gradually forcing the fence to budge. Do nothing about it for another year.
  • Sow salt in the shape of a penis on my neighbour’s lawn.
  • Make a mudcake.
  • Marathon the BBC series Planet Earth.
  • Repeatedly hit the sidewalk with a sledgehammer as vengeance for the planet.
  • Think twice about reducing the rubbish I output on a daily basis. Fail to think a third time.
  • Reuse a single tissue 17 times.
  • Recycle any Earth Hour jokes I made last year.
  • Shed a tear thinking of the musician Seal trapped in one of those plastic six pack rings. A tear of laughter.

But instead I’m gonna play Call of Cthulhu and maybe listen to the radio instead. Sorry Mum.

I’ll slice you in a minute, random office sociopath. Wait, is that a firing offence? Or a social good?

It snowed this morning. The rest of the day has been bright, with mild clouds. I don’t understand this country. Maybe I was never meant to. Maybe this reality is a simulation and someone’s messing with the Danger Room controls. If sentinels descend and begin rounding up the mutants, it’ll either be a sign that something’s off or that all of my dreams are about to come true. Then again, I don’t know if I’ve ever really imagined being a helpless normie in any superhero stories that were to come true. Is that emblematic of privilege? Or the way that these stories are designed? That naturally since you identify with the empowered central characters, you feel like you’re inhabiting that role? You wouldn’t imagine yourself as your normal self, because what would be the point of your normal self being in that universe?

I’ve been wearing my newest pair of pants this week. I had a gap in my wardrobe that required something burgandy-ish to go with my assorted plain coloured shirts. Having previously experimented with jeans, I bought a pair closer in line with trousers. They’re soft, which is nice, but by fair the most pleasing feature is the zipper. It’s unusually long. I don’t know why it has such an impact when I’m zipping them back up, but it’s hugely noticeable. More leverage and easier to grip without fumbling. It couldn’t be more than 5mm larger than a normal zipper, but so far it’s elevating these pants from tolerable to enjoyable.

I was pretty stoked to walk into the work kitchen to see pizza on the counter. While it was no gin tasting like yesterday, free pizza still has abundant charms. There’s an armistice zone where up-for-grabs food goes to linger. Reaching the box, however, I found it to be empty. What kind of sociopath does that? Look, if I see an empty box in the garbage, I think oh, that would’ve been yummy. Maybe I’ll stow that thought in my brain for some other time when I’m considering snackage. However, the concept of having taken part in its deliciousness never really crossed my mind. When an empty box is there, for an all too brief moment my brain gets flooded with hope. The trials of my monotonous trudge through quotidian existence fade as my vision haloes around this pending treat. To discover that someone has not only dashed my hopes, but desecrated the corpse of said dashed hopes by ensnaring them in some inhumane trap feels like a brutal betrayal. IF YOU TAKE THE LAST SLICE/PIECE/ONE, THROW THE BOX OUT. Monsters.

Ugh, I’m too disgusted to go on. Fuck this noise, I’m off to get my own pizza.

It’s dark outside. I am likely to be eaten by a grue.

I need to get out of the house. With the exception of the hour and a half I spent going to and from my doctor’s appointment yesterday, I haven’t left the house in over 24 hours. I’m getting bored of myself. I’ve had my butt pretty firmly glued to my computer chair (save getting up for food, water, or drugs), clad in slovenly sweatpants. Feet stuffed in slippers, wearing a bright yellow sweatshirt. I’ve been the perfect picture of comfort, but also the perfect picture of indecision. With the entire information superhighway at my disposal, I could be anywhere doing anything just by surfing the web. Instead I’ve found myself clicking around the same couple of sites, playing Shandalar and flicking through Netflix without watching much of anything. I repeat, I need to get out of the house.

I’m less sick than I was. The constant pressure of my headache has subsided. My throat no longer burns. My nose is still pretty congested, but how’s that different from any other day? It’s past 6pm and I haven’t taken any meds since this morning. Maybe I am on the mend after all. I really should go, even if it’s cold outside. I do weird things when I’m home alone. I pace back and forth from the office and the kitchen without purpose. Scan the fridge or pantry for something to eat, find nothing that I can be bothered making, go back to the office and feel hungry (or bored. Same difference). Occasionally I’ll feel guilty for not having been active, so I’ll try a few handstand push ups. I maybe get to three or so, then lose my balance and guide myself back to the ground. Feeling accomplished, I’ll usually go straight back to being inactive (realising as I do, that this small amount of work doesn’t constitute a workout. I won’t follow it up with more work).

Indoor kid as I am, I’m finding myself longing for spring. Toronto had an oh so brief flirtation with temperatures over zero. Remember last week or so when I got to jog? That was amazing. There are all these new pokémon to catch. So many unused patios citywide that would be ideal for enjoying a beer. Hell, I miss beer. It’s been about five weeks or so since I last drank and I think I’m ready to open up the La Fin Du Monde sitting in the bedroom. I need human connection. The cat may be talkative, but she speaks a lot of garbage. I love my girlfriend, but I don’t want to wear her out. I realised the other day that most of my friends haven’t seen me with a beard, which has been slowly accumulating over the past five weeks. It’s time to put on real clothes and make elaborate hand gestures while conversing.

I didn’t get the interview with Los Campesinos tomorrow, which is both a bummer and a relief at once. I’ve been raring to see this band live since they dropped two outstanding albums in 2008. Getting the chance to meet and chat with a member or two would be amazing. On the other side, I felt a massive amount of dread that I was walking into some kind of trap. What would I be able to say to people I’d respected and looked up to? I was intimidated, as if I’d say a bunch of dumb things and be treated either patronisingly or like I wasn’t worth their time. I was sure they wouldn’t be rude, but that any amount of prep I’d done wouldn’t be enough to, I dunno, have them like me? Don’t meet your heroes encapsulated. It’s silly. I should really have enough self-respect to know that I’d be fine, that I could hold me own, that they’re just Welsh thirtysomethings and I’d probably have fun in the end. Sorry, *would’ve* had more fun in the end. Still, I get to review their sold out show that I’d forgotten to nab tickets for, so all is not lost.

Enough of this whole “typing” thing. I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna shower and see what the outside world has to offer.

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.

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.

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.