chocolately nostalgic goodness

It’s just been one of those days so far. Stared at the screen, pushed some paper. Read a few preliminary reviews of The Watchmen. I finally caved around 11 am and got a chocolate bar. On a whim I chose a Crunchie. I have no idea why.

As I sat at my desk, slowly savouring it, I realized why. The ‘honeycomb’ centre flips a few pages in a mental scrapbook, landing on a candy store in Whitby, North Yorkshire, circa 1998. I bought a bag of cinder toffee there, finding out in a rapid rate that this is the stuff inside a Crunchie bar. Anyway, since I don’t really use my brain all that much at work, I ventured forth on a rambling thought path, which led me past the idea that a retreat into something nostalgic usually signifies that I’m not quite happy, while the exploration and experimentation of new, uncharted waters usually signifies that I’m enjoying life and living it to its full potential.

My original thoughts explored this observation as something relating to society; a “big picture” reflection unsubstantiated by any evidence other than my own conjecture. Yet somehow that seems like my own self just finding some way to alienate my own feelings. Denial even? When I started this post, I had no intention of degenerating into emo ramblings, but alas, here it is. Maybe I’m finding far too much time to be alone and self-reflexive now that we’ve wrapped filming for Red Hood. Maybe I’m just having a bad day. Maybe I will go back to my Google Images of Patrick Wilson to cheer myself up, now that the chocolate is gone.

from magazine vendors to muddy boots: my weekend in an adequately-sized organic vessel

After an intriguing afternoon of gallavanting all over Vancouver, including a far too long walk down East Hastings (FYI, Spartacus Books has moved even further east down Hastings), Taryn and I found a vendor for Hacksaw! *cue rejoicing peasants* You can now get Hacksaw Literary Arts Magazine at People’s Co-op Bookstore on Commercial Drive!

Two celebratory beers and some plantain chips later, I was arriving at a sushi restaurant for my godsister, Natasha’s engagement party. Despite not knowing anyone when I got there, the evening was well spent; several potty breaks making up for the endless pots of green tea. I can’t wait for the actual wedding. Open bar, dude, open bar.

Saturday I recuperated, then walked around the dirt in burlap boots for awhile, before retiring to bed to watch Bones. All and all, a nice little Saturday.

Up at five am the next morning for our first day on location filming “Red Hood.” The day can simply be summarized with a few adjectives and nouns: Freezing weather, muddy fields, vehicular accidents (not me!), dusty barns, leaping frogs; and a few verbs: action, cut, that’s a wrap.


July 2008

commuter school

—So what’s your slant?
(He’ll start and end with this question.)
The bus winds slowly up a hill…
slowly back down.
—like sardines, he jabs.
The cynicism rolls off his shoulders and
lands with a sickening thud.
I’ll appreciate it less every day.
We—the hundred collective—cling to
something like prison bars to keep afoot.
— So what’s your slant?
I shrug. Still,
But slightly prouder of my ambiguity.
I wear it like a badge.

new years anti-resolution(s)

This year, I will:

– NOT make some idiotic proclamation that I will do anything productive for my intellectual self, like, say read the complete works of Charles Dickens or plan to go out to a play at least twice a month or anything, as I am barely finding enough time to catch up on LOST, and what’s the point of intellectual growth if I drive myself mad in the process? Rather, I:
– WILL ignore entirely the pile of unread books that only seems to grow with each trip to Chapters, as well as the list in the back of my notebook of classic films my cave-type living situation has ensured I’ve never seen, and especially the need to feel somewhat cool by discovering a random new indie band each week via the wonder of the internet, and I:
– WILL continue to listen to all of The Clash, all of the time, on my hopelessly outdated CD-playing stereo, while re-reading Harry Potter for the umpteenth time, and watching repeats of Friends.

– NOT vow to upkeep some ridiculous diet plan and exercise regime that only leaves me feeling like the flabby noob with lily white sneakers and sweaty, red face at every gym I attempt to go to, only to abandon the plan sometime around mid-February and thus eat more to curb the sense of utter failure and inherently gain more weight. Rather, I:
– WILL learn not to stress about my weight and embrace who I am, knowing that losing weight will not cure any self-esteem issues or solve my problems, so I will learn to like (we’ll work at ‘love’) myself as is, and know that I will be healthy when I am simply happy.

– NOT worry about keeping my house clean with the laundry filtering through the washer on a strict, orderly schedule and no dish sitting in the sink for more than two days and the floors free of dust and cat hair and dirt-yes, dirt. Rather, I:
– WILL remember an adage I saw in a store in Helsinki, “a clean house is a sign of a wasted life,” while I sit on the couch eating Mr. Noodles, staring aimlessly at my unused elliptical machine while disc one of Sandinista! replays for the third time.

– NOT make any insane resolution that no one will notice or care if I keep or not. Rather, I:
– WILL enjoy being single; stop and smell the roses; live in the moment; not worry about upward mobility or money or “improving myself.” I will spend this one year happy with my lot; ruminating on my life as is; exploring the built-up calculus of my inner conscience and the joy of my current companions; be happy.

And I will not beat myself up if I don’t keep this anti-resolution.

challenge hipsters: they know how to sell themselves, that’s it (or is it?)

Why is it when you meet someone they always seem to perfectly match some stock character on a crappy television program? This comparison sticks in your head for a while… allowing you to the guileless pleasure of believing your life to be so hilarious it could be a Fox (at best) sitcom. However, then you actually get to really know this walking stereotype and they grow in dimension, slowly taking shape like one of those ‘grow your own boyfriend’ joke toys you stick in water for twenty-four hours until it bloats up like a captive whale. These people take shape; you begin to see their complexities and nuances. They become more than types; more than the archival stock footage label you mentally pressed across their forehead. You realise they are more than their television equivalent. They are real; they are layered; they are complex; contradictory; they are far less funny. Ultimately, you fail to recognize this in any wise, objective, observant way. You just begin to hate your life (and if you’re like me, you thus write a lot less).

What does this actually teach us? That television promotes a dumbed-down version of reality where laugh tracks have to prompt an emotional response? That any art of actual value promotes characters with surprising depth played by actors with an real sense of backstory and without offensive stereotypes and ridiculous catchphrases (Are you havin’ a laugh? Honestly?)? Ha. Fuck no. Anyone who watches this shit isn’t likely to pick up on much beyond the facade that skinny, attractive women love overweight dead beat men and it’s cheap and trendy to live in New York; covert sexism and Greenwich Village on a barista’s wage- the new bestseller by Candace Bushnell.

What we subconsciously pick up on is the idea that real people are two-dimensional; that there is nothing beyond my neighbour’s blue overalls and trucker cap. Do we ever give people a chance anymore? Or do we spend five minutes on them, associate them with some inane archetype and write them off: filed away as irrelevant without ever hearing about their fondest childhood memory? Of course we do. We judge people on insane things: their fingernails, their facial hair, their facebook profile picture. How do we respond? Do we make an attempt at change? Give the benefit of the doubt? Do we beg for substance over style? Ask hipsters if they are aware that the black and white checkered scarves they wear mean that they support Palestine? Ask them to point out Palestine on a map? No, we just know how to present ourselves in a manner accustomed to the archetype WE wish to be labelled as. Because we know no one is ever going to see through us. Everyone is simply too busy labelling themselves. I see a viscious cycle.

oh my god, i’m blogging again

So here I type. First entry. Cigar between teeth gonzo style. This, however, is not gonzo journalism. This is simply me trying to organise my thoughts, which in and of itself is a proverbial strange trip. Let’s see; I can easily breakdown the thoughts that continue to run through my head into five basic groups: (1) Quarter-Life Productions,  (2) Hacksaw, (3) the impending Euro-trip, (4) Work and other general ennui, and, (5) Everything Else.

(1) Quarter-Life Productions

QLP, to be less precise. Well, forget the details of the last two and a half years, how about the last two and a half months. Fuck. What a series of ups and downs. The rollercoaster simile does not do it justice, and thus nothing else will. Last weekend, we launched (Jason says “launched” in his business-like producer-speak, I say “premiered,” wearing my artisan/director hat) our third short film, The Year Without Hockey. The prophetic journey there had its potholes in the road. With a few days before we had to submit the DVD proofs to get them pressed, Graeme’s computer crashed, with everything but the films on it. Argh. And then we solved that problem, but then we had a whole issue where, two days beforehand, our venue tried to cancel on us. Argh. But it worked out. I even got a call the day before, while at work, from CBC RADIO wanting me to do a live interview. After about three hours of shitting my pants, I called in and was on the radio, talking about my film. One third of me felt too nervous and shocked to even react; another third of me felt on top of the world, like the clock on my fifteen minutes just began to tick; the last third of me felt like any second now they were going to call my bluff or realise that I was just lil’ ole me from North Delta playing “movie director” in my backyard with an old camcorder. I still haven’t heard what I actually said, and all I remember of it was hearing everyone I work with crowded around a computer on the other side of the room listening to my interview streaming live off the internet.

(2) Hacksaw

Hacksaw Literary Arts Magazine, to be more precise. The first issue is well underway (“well,” of course, being that oh-so-subjective term used to denote the fact that we’ve started, but still have a lot of work to do in order to be considered “finished.”). At that late stage of “quarter-life,” where QLP seemed really like the beginning of the solution to many of the mid-twenties problems, Hacksaw is a much different direction in which to take my rambling sense of art and aesthetics. The older I get the more I realise the truth in Joe Stummer’s words (see “Everything Else”), “Without people, you’re nothing.” I have been so incredibly lucky to find one person that perfectly compliments myself in making QLP the success it has been so far (“success” also being ambiguously subjective), that to find another that compliments myself in my crazy ‘zine stylings is just so insanely lucky that I feel an array of contractions. Usually when you start a venture such as this, like with any relationship, you usually get a gut feeling right off the bat as to whether or not it’s destined to burn out quickly or to be something long, substantial, and fulfilling. I’ve really only known Taryn Hubbard for less than a year, but she was one of those rare people you meet that you just really click with. I think a week after working together, someone else we work with said, “You guys are, like, the same person!” Day one of sitting beside each other at our menial file clerk jobs and we got on the topic of postmodern literature. The med student sitting beside us said, “I have no idea what you guys are talking about but it sounds really smart.” Not to say that we are, but we can rattle things off to each other without having to worry about context or backstory- those irritating nitty-gritty bits that usually plague a blooming friendship. We have so much in common: interests, histories, values, ambitions. Anyway, cut to several months later, after discussing everything we want to do with our allegedly creative selves, we thought, “Fuck, let’s just do it.” And thus, with a punk-rock ethos, Hacksaw was born. Now, the contradictions appear because everything’s just going so well. The endless riding of waves that swiftly break upon a rocky shore that pretty much sum up anything we try to do with QLP has me prepared for something to go wrong. Everything that seems too good to be true usually is. Where’s the fucking catch? I feel like I’m hunting around for it like a dog who knows he has a bone hidden somewhere in this backyard.

(3) The Impending Euro-Trip

On August 10, I’m going to Europe. For how long exactly is TBD. I bought a one-way ticket to Paris, and (as I’ve rattled off to several semi-interested people) from there I go to Spain, then Morroco, then London, where I meet up with my sister, Brianne.  We board a bus to Munich for Oktoberfest, then on to Amsterdam, where I will celebrate my 25th birthday, and Bri was instructed by my mother to buy me a birthday “cake.” Then, we make our way through Benelux to Paris again to check out Disneyland Paris (the third Disney theme park Bri will have visited in as many seasons), then we bum our way out east, hitting up Italy, Greece and other southeastern countries before arriving in Transylvania, Romania, where we will be in the village where Vlad Dracul was born just in time for Halloween. From there we make our way north, through Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, etc, to Finland, where we have family. While in Finland, I will make a side trip to St. Petersburg in Russia. From Finland, we are going back west across Scandinavia to England once again, where we may or may not spend Christmas. This is the plan, but we know nothing goes according to plan. That might just be the fun of it. Needless to say, I’m a little scared shitless. There’s nothing like jumping in the deep end and learning to swim on the way up. Sink or swim. I’ll probably bellyflop, but that’s always a learning experience, too. I have also made attempts to wean my vegetarian stomach back into the possibility of eating meat. I’ve quarrelled with my ethics over this one, and have decided that as I will often not have any choice but to eat meat or starve, I don’t want “stomach troubles” anywhere in Europe, thank you. I’m also a firm believer in the saying you haven’t really been somewhere until you’ve had the food. Since I really want to learn about the places I’m visiting, in a see-how-people-live way, rather than a hit-up-every-museum way, I will regret it if I restrict myself in anyway. Bri has also used this trip to Amsterdam to similarly wean herself onto weed. I guess we all know our strengths and weaknesses. Anyway, this blog is primarily intended for just this trip, and I’m taking my laptop with me, yuppie-style. If I write anymore about it now, I will just freak myself out. I leave soon, but I have a couple of more weeks before I really need to plan stuff, right? Ha.

(4) Work and Other General Ennui

“I hate the civil service rules,” to borrow a more idealistic phrase from the Clash. Ugh, work. Overall, I like my job, but I often feel that I am simply a cog in a machine. Not even a deus ex machine either, but a bureaucratic, “I process noise-violation complaints” type of machine. I can’t really complain, as I only really have myself to complain to and even then I would want to tell myself, “Suck it up, Princess.” I hate people that complain about our job, but really they are getting paid twice as much as someone with the same job in the private sector, get better benefits, and don’t get in trouble when they take two hour lunch breaks. Our job is sweet in and of itself, and the people I work with are awesome. If I’m not happy, I can get a different job. But I am happy enough. So you want to be an independent filmmaker or start your own magazine? Lesson one: Get a good day job. Done.

(5) Everything Else

Last night I saw Gonzo, directed by Alex Gibney, the new documentary about Hunter S. Thompson, so pardon my reference earlier. I’ve also just got my copy of The Future is Unwritten: Joe Strummer, directed by Julien Temple, in the mail, and have watched that, too. I just finished reading The Clash: Return of the Last Gang in Town, by Marcus Gray, so needless to say, I’ve been listening to the Clash a lot. A lot. Now this is nothing really new in my life, but I do seem to go in phases. I’m either in a normal phase. Or I’m in a Clash phase. It comes and goes, but the cycles are never really that long. Anyway, I’ve also been watching a lot of old movies lately. I simply mention this because what I currently am watching, reading and listening to often tends to form a frequently referred to wrinkle in my brain. You can’t escape it. I need to get out more. Good thing I’m going to Europe. There’s no point in trying to form some sort of big-picture mentality right now, when it will simply all change in a month or so.

“Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?”

– Ernest Gaines