Monday, December 2, 2019

I Want My Medicine: (The Music of) Hollerado & Me

When I first heard the music of Hollerado, it was in the form of the opening riff to their single, "Juliette."

It was January 2010 and I was 22 years old. The song was playing on the in-store radio server where I was working in music retail, selling Katy Perry CDs and Borat DVDs. It hit me like a bolt of lightning, at once old and new, classic and innovative, fresh and familiar.

I was at a point in my life where I, extremely misguidedly, was under the impression that I had already heard everything I was going to like. Music had always been a part of my life but my tastes hewed toward bygone eras and nothing being made in the 21st century was holding my attention. Hollerado was the first indication I was wrong. Hearing that riff was like hearing "Satisfaction" in 1965 or "Smells Like Teen Spirit" in 1991, a true gamechanger the likes of which only happens in your life two or three times if you're lucky. And if you think that seems like excessive praise, I do believe Hollerado to be the Nirvana of bands from Manotick, Ontario.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Beatless: Thoughts on Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis' Yesterday

The announcement of the film Yesterday was seemingly met with a collective eyeroll from everyone under the age of 40, and a collective, "Oh, that sounds pretty good" from everyone over. Those of us in the lower bracket may be a little tired of the constant deifying of Everything From Back Then at the expense of the good things being made today. Those in the upper one probably just wanted a chance to hear all those great old songs in a slightly freshened up context.

Over a decade ago, both groups agreed on Across the Universe, which was a hugely popular movie with my friends when I was in University, but in the time since we've come into our own a little bit more as a generation and are getting a little tired of Boomer influence directing the culture.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

I Said That Too!: Twitter Comedy, Joke Repetition, and Me

Every so often Twitter does this thing where it offers to show you "who you know" on Twitter, presumably by culling your contacts in a way to which you have doubtfully consented. Since most people don't run their Twitters like their Facebooks, this is an offer no sane person would ever accept.

A few days ago someone retweeted a very amusing tweet into my timeline to that effect:

Saturday, May 4, 2019

The Missing Part of the Map: Thoughts on Game of Thrones Season 8 at Halftime

Warning: While I try to be tactful about discussing plot info, if you're sensitive about spoilers, you might as well skip this one.

Now what?

I first experienced HBO's Game of Thrones around New Year's Day 2013, a few months ahead of the beginning of Season 3. My brothers and I had gotten Season 1 for our dad as a Christmas gift. My brother Eric was the only one of us who had watched it and figured, correctly, that it was exactly the sort of thing our medieval-fantasy-loving father would enjoy. He watched all ten episodes within a week. The next time we saw him they were discussing it animatedly. Their energy made me want to check it out when I had previously thought it just wasn't my thing.

By the end of the first episode, I had the unmistakeable feeling that this was definitely my thing. I had had the same feeling after watching "The Wedding of River Song" episode of Doctor Who, the "Walkabout" episode of LOST, and the "Pineapple Incident" episode of How I Met Your Mother. I had the whole thing watched in under 48 hours.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait: On Half-Past Eight PM (Part Three)

A few years after the video version of Half-Past was made, I was in a different place in life. I had finished the two-year Journalism course I took after high school and, after deciding I didn't want to be a journalist, enrolled at University of Toronto for a highly useful, very worthwhile Bachelors program in English Lit. I was growing out of my self-imposed outcast ways, nearly as likely to go out for drinks or board game nights with friends as I was to be sitting in front of my computer on a Friday night.

Early in my second year there, I was standing in line for a Metropass when I saw a flyer advertising open submissions to the Victoria College Drama Festival, encouraging student-writers to get in on it. A lightbulb went on over my head. I had, after all, written the greatest, funniest, most original one-act play in history, Half-Past Eight PM. Surely the people in charge of this festival will be salivating for my inclusion once I submit my 20-pages of genius.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

With a Lot of Help From My Friends: On Half-Past Eight PM (Part Two)

Are you ready for more self-mythologizing? Here's what happened next in the saga of Half-Past Eight PM...

A lot happened in the next school year after my success with Half-Past. My friend Ana, who had transferred to Catholic School for personal reasons, transferred back and asked me to write a movie script for her to direct, but was sadly never produced. Josh and I collaborated on a 30-minute film for CommTech where we played hired killers. And I appeared onstage for the first time outside the drama room in the cast of the Grade 12 production of The Importance of Being Earnest... as the main character's butler.

Over the course of that year I became closer with those drama kids I had been orbiting. Only my paralyzing shyness kept me from auditioning for that year's Sears Festival production of Twelve Angry Men, one of my bigger regrets in a high school career comprised mostly of regrettable moments. But I did become part of that group anyway, making friends without having to be a joiner, just as I always wanted. In the final months of high school it kind of finally felt like I belonged somewhere. My personality had taken three and a half years to bake, and I was very close to shedding the pervasive feeling that they didn't really actually like me. I just wished I had more time to enjoy it.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

A Strange Form of Revenge: On Half-Past Eight PM (Part One)

As someone who is prone to nostalgia but optimistically suspects his best years still lie ahead I have a tricky relationship with successes of the past, even as moderate as they may be. While putting on a reasonably successful local theatre theater production is a pretty low bar for greatness it remains the thing I have done in life that was seen and enjoyed by the most people. So since this is the blog about me, please indulge the part of me that is a legend in my own mind. Here's a little reflection on the 15th - and 10th and 13th - anniversary of Half-Past Eight PM.

It began as revenge. A very specific, strange form of revenge. The kind where the people you're getting revenge on aren't even there to know it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Storytelling Layer: Thoughts on This New York Times Article About The Best 20 TV Dramas

Yesterday, the New York Times promoted a tweet from January into my timeline that, for whatever reason, prompted a thought:

I love TV.  It got me through some really rough years and continues to be a primary bonding method for me and my significant other. I was always more a comedy guy than an hourlong drama guy so my experience with The Sopranos actually mostly boils down to the constant discourse on it from other people who love TV, and happening to be in the room when my brother watched the last episode, lo those many years ago. Ditto The Wire, The Shield, and many other canonized TV dramas. I did watch, and enjoy, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men, after they had finished.

Monday, February 25, 2019

There Really Aren't Any Rules: Learning to Drive in Your Twenties

Southern Ontario is connected by a series of highways/freeways called the 400 series, which intersect at various points and link all the major and medium sized destinations in our small, densely populated corner of the world. The ability to drive on one is what separates the introductory level drivers (G1, the equivalent of a learner's permit elsewhere) from the intermediate level (G2.) And confidence in your ability to drive on them is what separates those drivers from the permanent class (simply called G.)

The first time I ever drove on the 400, it was a pitch black freezing rainstorm in February. I had been out with my co-workers from the bookstore, holding our long-delayed Holiday bowling party. One of the girls, Sam, had recently moved back home with her mom and wasn't ready for the party to end, so two of our coworkers and I were persuaded to keep it going by hitting a pool hall and drinking away the winter blues.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Falling Down a Pasthole: Me and My Timehops

As any of the dozen or so actual humans who follow me on Twitter knows, for the past year I have been using the TimeHop app to dredge up some of my best tweets. Also my worst tweets, which are often the same things. The app has my entire Twitter history loaded onto it, and permits me the ambrosia of showing me every tweet I made on this calendar day on each of the past nine years of tweeting. It's been... a trip.

At first, I downloaded it out of idle curiosity, wanting to skim my own archives despite Twitter quite deliberately not having an easy way to do this. Then after the first time I used it, I found it was keeping track of my streak. Well, I thought, that sounds like a challenge that's fun for both me and my adoring followers, eager to hear my greatest hits again.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Here We Keep Going Again: Mamma Mia and Us

The other night, we were flipping through the channels with much disappointment. Every one of our go-to cable distractions was a miss. There was nothing left on the PVR for us to burn through. We were lost. I excused myself to the restoom, and while I was in there, I heard from the other room the voice of one Christine Baranski softly crooning "Chiquitita" to Meryl Streep. I smirked - as is bound to happen from time to time, my fiancee had found Mamma Mia on TV somewhere.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Caging a Panther: Michael Finkel's Stranger in the Woods

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,   
has grown so weary that it cannot hold 
anything else. It seems to him there are 
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world. 

- Rainer Maria Rilke, "The Panther" (translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Beginning in the late 1980's, 20-year-old Maine resident Christopher Knight did something unthinkable - both because of how inconceivable and difficult it was, and how bananas-illegal. Knight drove into the Maine wilderness and left society completely - well, mostly - behind. Spending the next 25 years in a small encampment in the Maine woods, Knight survived not by hunting or farming but by pilfering supplies from a nearby summer camp and surrounding community. He was seen by only a handful of people during that time, although the "Hermit" became the stuff of local legend. His own family had no idea where he was or if he was even still alive. He's the subject of Michael Finkel's 2017 nonfiction book Stranger in the Woods, which took me almost 18 months to get around to reading, and several months since I finished to write about. ("Better Late Than Never" is a title I take to heart.)

Why'd I Nuke My Archive?

Astute longtime readers - of whom I assume/hope there are none - will note that I have been running for a lot longer than the 8 months or so the archives go back - intermittently, but certainly I've written more than the half-dozen or so musings that you can find on this blog.

It's true. I began this particular manifestation of my online presence in late 2013 after spending a few years writing exclusively about music, because I wanted to write about a comic once, maybe sometimes a movie or TV show. Who could forget my epic takedown of Zack Snyder's Man of Steel, which was so effective they never made another Man of Steel II.

Then after a while I decided I really didn't have that much to say about a wide variety of topics, and got back into music-blogging, which otherwise would have swallowed this blog whole. I had a whole concept, and for a year and change it was a pretty fruitful project. I liked it, I had fun.

I flipped back in late 2016 and managed to squink out a few more thoughts on poorly-executed comic book movies, but as I was ramping up my coverage of Old X-Men Comics elsewhere, it wasn't long before this URL went fallow again.

I came back again again last summer when ideas for dumb little observations, far too long for a Twitter Thread, kept occurring to me. I had a new idea how to use this space, which has only partially come to pass. By that time, the archive seemed like an anchor. How can you make a fresh start when you have all this old shit hanging around, reminding people you only post super-sporadically? Even if some of it was worth reading.

Ironically, I wanted to reinvigorate this blog as a place where I wrote about myself, told my story as well as recounting things I have consumed, but no longer wanted to sign my name to a bunch of old shit I wrote. But it was the truth - I flipped all the old posts on this blog to Drafts, because that's what they were. Every day of your life is just a rough draft of the next one. Get that tattooed on your neck.

We're all changing, every day - hopefully for the better. I spend a lot of time revisiting old things I've written through the magic of Timehop or being overly interested in my archives, but there's no reason to think that intererst is widespread. What I've found is, there's a pretty consistent throughline of self there - I'm the same person, with new versions of the same opinions. Some things I'm more adamant about than I used to be, some things I'm more relaxed. And that's cool, and sometimes I got it more right back then than I would now. And sometimes I just have no idea what I'm talking about -- there are already posts on this blog I think I should revert so I can do them again better later.

Someday, if I deem it necessary, I'll go back and repost some of the good stuff. But I found it just as easy, for my purposes, to KonMari the whole lot of it and start fresh.

You know, like I already have with three or four other blogs.