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.

Maybe hum along, just tune out the lyrics.

How’s February going? Good ol’ Frosty February, Toronto’s equivalent of frigid fallout. Long weeks at work with nary a beam of sunlight. How is one supposed to bask? It’s not like there’s even reflected glory on hand, ’cause everyone’s so gorram miserable. Things so far have been pretty mild, which is to say that yesterday everything was covered in a slippery sheet of ice. One wrong step and your ass was glass (fragile, not transparent). Could we have a moment of silence for tailbones across the city?

Thank you.

I wouldn’t say I’ve been wallowing, but I’ve certainly been retreating into die hard creature comforts. Frankly I’m surprised I haven’t yet devoured the Goosebumps omnibus. Instead I’ve been spending late nights working on Magic decks that’ve been sorely missing some TLC. It’s been nice to ratchet down the amount of time planted in front of a computer, even if it’s for another sedentary hobby. What else am I supposed to be doing? The streets are ice!

Musically I’ve also regressed. Nostalgia’s tough to beat when things around you seem cold. Over the past week I’ve delved into Tool’s discography. It’s comforting to know that while I’m not chaffing for a brand new release from the band, I can still have a pretty good time cranking them up. The fervour is gone, the rabid enthusiasm of a teenager has long departed. That being said, it’s been a hell of a while since I last heard “Sober” or “Prison Sex”. It’s pretty fun charting the evolution of the band from the spark of their prog metal roots to the goliath stadium band they became. Plus metal is a real good time when the sky turns dark. I’m plummeted right back to late high school, early university. Moshing is suddenly covered in this shiny veneer, somehow forgetting that the shiny veneer in any mosh is other people’s sweat. It’s a little nudge in my side reminding me that even though I don’t seek it out, when I feel like hearing metal it’s a helluva itch to scratch. I know what you’re all saying, seek it out, right? Maybe I will. Maybe. I. Will.

We both know I won’t. Who do you take me for? George Washington?

I also took a deep dive this morning back into Sublime. Sublime’s an odd one for me. At age 12 you’d probably catch me listening to them for upwards of three hours a day. At age 30 it’s pretty tough to identify with their particular brand of West Coast bro ska culture. In that typical 90s way, the band had zero room for nuance (did the word “problematic” exist back then? Surely that word couldn’t co-exist with the board game Dream Phone). Still, it’s hard for a bunch of the tracks to not resonate, given the deep groves they’ve etched into my brain. Bradley James Nowell had one hell of a sweet voice (apparently he inherited perfect pitch from his mother, but that could just be internet rumblings) and it really shines on Sublime Acoustic: Bradley Nowell & Friends. The recordings are messy, assorted bar performances with background chatter/yelling. His voice, however, shines through. Tracks like “Boss DJ” or “Don’t Push” are reinvigorated, while “Pool Shark” is a whole new beast. Like Cobain, I’m not sure how gracefully Nowell would’ve aged culturally, but I’m hard pressed to not smother those years of listening in fondness. I know that every summer I’ll crank out their self-titled at least once.

Maybe summer will come early this year. Right in the cold, dead heart of Toronto winter.

Still waiting for the kind-hearted pirate doctor film Eye Patch Adams.

In lieu of anything important going on right now, here are some short snippets.

  • I was really tired this morning, so for the first time since I returned to Canada I had coffee. It perked me up instantly and I was so confident that I peed in the middle urinal. If you weren’t sure already, that’s a ballsy move. I basically deserve a medal.
  • I haven’t been going out a ton. It’s been nice for a change. It’s also been a nice change for my wallet. My tuna/cracker lunches have been simple and cheap, saving a ton on lunchtime meals. I guess I’m paying for it in mercury poisoning. Next time everyone starts complaining about their mercury being in retrograde, it’ll be a very real concern for me.
  • Being a hermit has also meant I’m not shelling out for alcohol and meals. It’s a massive difference. Consequently my Magic the Gathering expenditure has gone way up. Suddenly it feels simple to be more blasé about spending money on something I want. It’s like wait, I can get all of these things I’ll use for ages and it’ll cost me less than the price of three beers? In short, I don’t know if I’m really saving any money. Net result zero.
  • I’ve done a few RPM classes at the gym lately as a way of getting in winter cardio. RPM people are different from normal gym people (though when have gym people ever been normal?). There are the hyper dudes who always pull their sleeves up and leave puddles on the ground beneath their bikes. Good on you for the effort, but if you’re that anti-sleeves, why not buy a tank top or something? I’m also unsure about the level of commitment required to buy those clip-in shoes. I guess if you’re a career RPMist you probably get more pull from them? How much do they help? Also what kind of disposable income do you have (that’s not already going to Magic cards)? Also what was with the woman who spent half the class looking at her phone? If something on your phone was that important, wouldn’t the lights, music and instructor be really distracting? Also how good was your subterranean reception? I need your plan.
  • Speaking of RPM, having heavily worked quads sure makes sex an uphill battle. It’s like a post-workout workout.
  • Apparently weather is so crummy today that we have freezing rain. I don’t know precisely what freezing rain is (though I could guess), but it sounds like a made up sci-fi concept. You know in Flash Gordon how Ming the Merciless is using his weather changing machine to plague planets with such nefarious ordeals as “hot hail”? Freezing rain sounds a lot like that.
  • The bathrooms at work have two toilet roll holders in each stall. While this sounds unremarkable, it’s actually amazing. No longer do we need to battle between over and under orientation. Instead, both sides are represented. Is this a recipe for world peace?
  • At work they have a TV on in the background screening Global TV. During the day it plays Days of our Lives, which isn’t notable. What is notable, is that there’s a long running character who looks like Snake Plissken. I guess he escaped from LA only to find himself in Salem. Today’s episode had a masquerade ball, which he attended. He wore his eye patch underneath his mask, which not only looked ridiculous, but also flew in the face (pun totally intended) of any kind of subterfuge.

I warned you nothing important was going on. This is what you get for not listening.