Today is Oscar Night! The “best” movies and actors will be announced, but here at VTAN we like to throw around our own movie awards.
We know you LOVED our Top 5 of 2015, so in the spirit of nostalgia here’s a re-release of last year’s Top 5 episode. It’s presented here as it was, in it’s original form, unedited, not like George Lucas’s bullshit Special Editions!
It makes an excellent companion piece with this year’s Top 5 Episode
We get real in this episode. It was never meant to come out so we spoke more candidly than normal. You’ll hear LOTS of bleeps to hide names of people or other possibly incriminating details and lots of interruptions midsentence because huge sections have been cut out.
So if you’re a devoted listener you probably heard Kyle, Callie and I sitting at The Duke of York for our weekly trivia night when the lights went out. The blackout last April affected a pretty substantial part of the west end of Toronto.
The subway wasn’t even working so I couldn’t get home.
I take prescription medication for anxiety and my intense, irrational, fear that the power will never come back made me take more than I should have. You’ll notice I talk super fast and you can tell by how I talk that I’m riding an intense high.
Kyle and Callie, (heretofore to be known as Kylie) being proud “Eastenders” where pretty sure their building would have power.
In Part 1 of The Blackout we walked to Kylie’s and the episode ended right before we got into one of our famous 6 hour conversations since I figured nobody would want to hear it.
I managed to chop it into just under an hour of interesting conversation.
In this episode I try to convince Kyle to watch One Direction: This is Us on Blu-Ray and since he vehemently refuses we end up talking about the poor business decisions that caused BlockBuster Video to go out of business, my rampant alcoholism, the possibility of having a child and being a good parent and all the reasons why, after taking a crazy ride on the pussy train and having a revolving door of meaningless sexual relationships, I don’t want to date…
Sane people, I’m told, regularly have cravings for certain foods.
Most of the time when I experience that feeling most aptly described as “craving” it’s for experiences. Sometimes I’ll restlessly get out of bed because I crave a late night walk through deserted streets. Other times I can’t sleep because of an addition-like “jonesing” to watch Gremlins or Jurassic Park.
Today I have this itch… this craving to make a blog post.
I don’t even have anything interesting to write about.
OK, let’s see, let’s see. What can I write about today?
A few weeks ago there was a pretty big blackout that affected some parts of downtown Toronto. I was at The Duke of York for Tuesday Night Pub Stumpers Trivia so I took out my iTelephone and began recording the shenanigans.
On this special edition Kyle, Callie and I are joined by two of our trivia team members, Eric and Rowena, as we navigate a dark pub and the apocalyptic streets of T.O.
Find out what happens when we Kill The Lights
Kyle will be gone for the next 6 weeks and so in order to pass time I’ve been listening to recordings of his voice to fill the empty void in my soul. It only worries me when I start trying to have a conversation with these recordings.
To stop myself from becoming the kind of crazy person who talks to himself, I’m gonna try to actually get some use out of the recordings we never intended to release to the public.
Also, we’re finallyon the iTunes click here to subscribe and while you’re there downloading our podcast FOR FREE, buy some of David Usher’s songs. He’s my number one favourite recording artist of all time and it’s always good to support Canadian Arts.
It’s for this reason that I don’t feel bad when I stumble upon a viral video that’s been up for 2 or 3 years but has somehow gone completely below my radar. Funny skits, or animations or music videos that seemingly everyone else has seen but I’ve, for one reason or another, never noticed.
This is different from the flash in the pan cultural phenomena I go out of my way to avoid like “Gangam Style” which I went almost a full year without ever hearing, or “Thrift Shop” which I miraculously have still never heard.
I still don’t know what “twerking” is and if I go to my grave without knowing, I’ll be happy.
I’m talking about videos I’d genuinely want to watch but have just remained oblivious to until very recently.
I only just discovered the amazingly talented Youtuber SweetAfton23 and I feel something approximating love beginning to stir in my withered black heart.
Her album is only five bucks on bandcamp so everyone should go buy it.
MyHope, I Pity the Fool, Peep Fight and Our American Cousin are all solid tracks but It All Makes Sense in the End is my new #1 favourite song in the world and possibly the best breakup song ever written.
I feel like this song was written especially for me as the complaints she makes are things I’ve been told before by those poor ladies unfortunate enough to have dated me. The actual subject of the song, though, is pure genius.
I did that fancy thing where you have to highlight the text after the song to read the spoilers. Listen to the track then drag your mouse underneath to find out, if you haven’t already, why it really does all make sense in the end.
It’s a break up song about wikipedia. She’s breaking up with a website. How cool is that?
Anyone who’s been unlucky enough to go shopping with me knows that is my customary greeting to cashiers as I plop my merchandise on the checkout counter. Usually they’re not expecting such candor from the long serpentine line of customers trying their damnedest to get out of the store as quickly as possible, so depending on their reaction (mild annoyance or curious amusement) I’ll either try to engage them in a little droll conversation or just clam up and pay for my goods.
It wasn’t always this way. I used to hate forced social interactions and stumble through them with the tension you’d expect from someone as awkward as me but about a year ago while stopping at Food Basics for a couple of bottles of Coke Zero and hair conditioner with my surrogate parents, I began to have a change of heart.
I should explain.
My friends Kyle and Callie a are couple with whom I spend the majority of my time. They’re usually the first ones to hear about any crises(plural) I’m going through and have on multiple occasions shown the ability to shake some sense into me and bluntly tell me when I’m acting like a fuck up. I’ve said before that they’re like parents who are the same age as me and I can get wasted and talk about sex with too.
Kyle scolded me for being a dick when being nice to the sweet innocent checkout girl requires a minimum effort and would probably make her day.
I started thinking about the possibility of making people’s days. It took me yearsto admit to myself that I could never don a cape and cowl and fight crime but now here was a real and simple way that I could inject a bit of positivity into the world.
So I started being nice to every retail and service industry professional I encountered. Making chit chat, telling jokes and always finding something to compliment them about. An ol’ shot in the arm as it were.
I sort of got hooked on it because I started to do it to real people. I made a decision to let everyone, friends and strangers alike, get a taste.
I went over to Kyle and Callie’s for dinner one night and right as I walked in the door I said to her “Callie, I don’t usually take the time to come out and say this, and for that I apologize, but you are looking lovelytonight.”
I learned that it’s fine when you do it to close friends and family but when you to it to strangers or even acquaintances, friends of friends, it can come across (at best) as flirty or (at worst) as super-goddamn-creepy-as-dicks.
I did it to K&C’s winsome redheaded neighbour and I think I really freaked her out.
So I had to pump the brakes a bit and went back to just being awful when it comes to social interactions.
That is except for, the genesis of this whole experiment, customer service reps.
A few months ago I had an issue with Rogers, my Cable and Internet service provider, and so I used their online live chat service to try and ask for help.
I’ve posted this before on Facebook but I think it bears repeating. I didn’t have the presence of mind to take any screenshots so what follows is a transcript of our conversation:
7:01 PM Connecting…
7:01 PM Connected. A support representative will be with you shortly.
7:01 PM Support session established with Eric.
7:01 PM Eric: Hi, you’ve reached Eric, how may I help you?
7:01 PM Joshua Alferez: Eric, a fine strong name if I’ve ever heard one. I’m having difficulty logging on to the MyRogers website
7:02 PM Eric: Have you tried the forgotten password feature? If so, did you receive any type of error message when using the forgotten password link?
7:03 PM Joshua Alferez: Your site has erred on the side of caution. In an effort to keep my information secure it requires me to answer a “secret question” before it sends me a temporary password via email
7:03 PM Joshua Alferez: i dont remember my answer or my password
7:04 PM Eric: I can update the secret question and reset the password for you. In order to access your account, I will require some information from you. Please click on the following secure link to enter your personal information. You will notice I requested a four digit PIN. If you do not have one associated to your account, please leave this field blank. Please let me know when you are finished.
7:04 PM Eric has sent a link: https://safesend.rogers.com/index.php?ut=c055fbfb2a0df99ca317eecd0143a979f73399c1b372093fdea5b19a0d9fb705&vq=y 7:06 PM Joshua Alferez: The task is complete, sir!
7:06 PM Eric: This will just take 1-3 minutes to bring up your account. While I am bringing up for account, is there anything else I can assist you with at this time?
7:07 PM Joshua Alferez: You’ve already been so helpful it would be selfish of me to ask for anything more dear lad
7:11 PM Eric: In order to reset your password, we will also require you to provide us with your preferred temporary password in the secure link I have just sent you.
7:11 PM Eric has sent a link: https://safesend.rogers.com/index.php?ut=28b73b58e4d1889301dcbd7891fe4cd247a94aa888e80782e748f6bb58090d2b&vq=y 7:12 PM Joshua Alferez: done
7:13 PM Eric: I have successfully reset your Rogers.com password to the temporary password provided in the form. This temporary password will be valid for up to 24 hours. Once you log in, you will be asked to create a new personal password. Please ensure to store this password in a safe place for future use. Please go to rogers.com/signin and let me know if you can login.
7:16 PM Joshua Alferez: SUCCESS! It works, HUZZAH FOR TEAMWORK. We did it Eric, we did it. They all said we couldn’t but we proved them wrong
7:16 PM Eric: Thank you for choosing Rogers Live Chat. For your references your session id is: 152148899. Also, please feel free to bookmark our direct link www.rogershelp.com/chat. We are available between the hours of 7AM to midnight Monday to Friday, and 8AM to midnight Saturday and Sunday EST.
7:18 PM Joshua Alferez: I’m going to very upset in the sequel when you are revealed to have secretly been a robot this whole time. Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!
7:19 PM Eric has ended the session.
You see that!?!?!
You can see how I tried my damnedest to engage the guy but he was giving me NOTHING.
Undaunted however I decided to try again.
A few days ago I used the service once more. This time I took some super lo-rez pictures for your enjoyment:
As you can see Rob was just as unreceptive to my charm as Eric. When he responded so flatly to my introductory salvo of compliments I didn’t bother pressing the matter and just let the rest of the session play out mechanically like a long term relationship’s obligatory birthday sex.
It was just as unsatisfying.
Just a few hours ago I had my third interaction with Rogers Live Chat and it has reaffirmed my faith in humanity and has caused me to vow, anew, to be more social.
See for yourself:
I grant you it’s not much of a two way conversation, it’s obvious I did most of the heavy lifting, but for the first time ever I got someone at Rogers to acknowledge the extemporaneous conversation I, up until this point, had been having with myself.
Persistence pays off.
I’m gonna keep trying to be friendlier and I think it’ll go a long way towards my ultimate goal of just being happier.
I don’t say that flippantly, it took me hours of contemplation to make that decision. Don Draper is in the top 3 on the list of my favorite “Double D’s” in the world and I usually take his words as the gospel truth, but in the season 1 finale of Mad Men, Draper gives an awesome speech about nostalgia that I’m starting to interpret in a new way.
He’s pitching an ad campaign for Kodak’s new slide projector. Being that it’s the middle of the 60’s during the U.S./Soviet space race, the muckety mucks at Kodak want to market the sleek curves of their new “wheel projector” as a spaceship. They’re trying to cash in on the NASA zeitgeist. Don Draper puts together an alternative campaign that causes one of the stuffedshirts in the boardroom to burst into tears and run out of the room crying.
He decides they shouldn’t look towards the future to market this product, but rather the past. To use the slide projector as a time machine. To let us catch a glimpse of days gone by.
Up until recently I would’ve agreed. If you asked me I’d have said that looking back into the past is painful and as Draper says, “takes us to a place where we ache to go again… a place where we know we are loved.”
But over the last few days I’ve been swimming in nostalgia and it’s making me happier than I’ve felt in the longest time. And not just happy about old memories but rather happy with myself as I am today.
Now for anyone who doesn’t know me very well, I consider myself to be musically inclined. I sing in the shower a lot and I’m a 10 speed dynamo when it comes to karaoke but I also play a handful of instruments with varying levels of competence.
Here’s me shredding on guitar.
I play a little bit of accordion, drums and piano as well but the first instrument I ever learned, the one that started me on this musical journey nearly 15 years ago was the harmonica.
Yes, ladies, he’s STILL got it… and by “it” I mean cripplingly low confidence and that self deprecating charm that drives the girls wild.
There is exactlyone reason why I, as a child, decided to learn to play the harmonica.
It’s because of Matt, a character from Digimon. More specifically, Matt, my favorite character on the first two seasons of Digimon.
Now he wasn’t the star of the show, he wasn’t the hero. He was always sort of the “second banana”. He had a cool exterior that belied a tumult of emotion contained just under the surface. His mom and dad were divorced and he and his little brother had been split apart as each of them went to live with one of their parents. During their adventures with the Digimon he always worried about his brother’s safety, attempting to be a responsible caretaker, but often having to face the sad reality that he wasn’t well suited for the task. When his younger brother starts to develop a strong bond with the show’s goggle-headed protagonist he gets jealous and further questions his self worth.
He was far too complex a character for what was meant to be a kid’s show but he played the hell outta the harmonica and I always thought he was super cool.
People have told me that it says a great deal about my personality that I don’t ever identify with the main protagonist of any story. If there’s any leading man in any movie, book, TV show, video game or comic, I always see more of myself reflected in the main character’s best friend or sidekick.
It turns out there’s even a name for that ultra important character in literature. It’s the Deuteragonist. He’s the secondary character who shoulders a lot of the burden when it comes to the plot, but he’s not always a hero in the traditional sense. Sometimes he’s a rouge or scoundrel, sometimes he’s just a weaker character who needs the support of the hero to fully develop. Whatever the case I’ve always thought I shared a similar temperament to the Dueteragonists of my favorite stories.
Yes, ladies, he’s STILL got it… and by “it” I mean cripplingly low confidence and that self deprecating charm that drives the girls wild… and a digimon, I suppose.
Now while these characters, for the most part, may not share many personality traits with each other I always identified with them more than I would with the heroes of their respective stories.
I guess I just lack the confidence to consider myself the leading man in the story of my life.
I’m definitely sidekick material though.
Watching Digimon for the first time in almost 15 years has transported me back into the past in a way that has let me see all the ways that I’ve changed in the intervening years.
And all the ways in which I haven’t.
But it’s been nothing but a joy.
I’m not a fan of anime. People are shocked to hear that just like they’re shocked when I say I don’t really like Sci-Fi. They think that just ’cause I’m a geek I like Doctor Who and Star Gate. It’s the closest to racial pigeonholing I’ve ever experienced.
People just expect me to have an interest in things that are considered “geek”. The truth is I couldn’t give a single fuck about Dragon Ball, or Bleach or Gundam and Evangelion. I think Akira sucked balls and Miyazaki is boring. No I don’t looooooveFull Metal Alchemist and I think people who read comic books backwards are a bunch of pretentious jackasses.
I am a self proclaimed geekI I love Star Wars and DC Comics. My thumbprints are concave from decades of videogames. I have toys in my house. But when it comes to anime I just never delved into that word. Ironically it always seemed “too nerdy” for me to get into.
I was an Inbetweener in the schoolboy ecosystem. I occasionally got picked on by some of the more popular kids, but I still would make fun of the guys playing with their Yu-Gi-Oh! cards at lunch.
So as a total anime neophyte, and with nothing to compare it to, I just randomly got sucked into the world of Digimon in 1999 and it was my favourite show for 2 years. Then by that time I mysteriously became more interested in boobs and rock music than cartoons and I stopped watching.
Now that I’m revisiting the series after so long it’s made me feel totally nostalgic but more than anything it has, surprisingly, helped me with my goal of moving forward with my life.
I’ve never been able to think about the future. When I was young I didn’t think I would live a very long life because I couldn’t fathom what I would be like as an old guy. I’ve never really made any plans for the future and have always been sort of ambitionless. My mind functions only in the immediate present and so it’s especially difficult for me to ever hope for the best. If I’m going through a painful emotional experience I literally can’t imagine a time when I’ll no longer feel that way.
But by watching this show that makes me feel the way I did as a child, and then thinking about how different I am today, it makes me wonder for the first time ever what I might be like 15 years from now.
And aside from all the philosophical revelations it’s still just such a damn good show. It holds up so well even after all these years.
At least to me.
So, Don Draper talks about nostalgia as being painful, of making you want to go back and relive better times.
As stupid as it may sound Digimon and the nostalgia I feel for it has made me excited about the future for the first time in recent memory.
For those of you who remember the show fondly, or for those who may have never seen it, here’s a clip from season 1 of Matt playing the blues.
There are 104 episodes in the first 2 seasons of Digimon.
I have a friend at work who has some medical training. He’s a smart guy and he could be a doctor if he wanted to finish his studies. For now, though, he’s content to pal around with me and talk about girls and video games on slow days when we try to get away with doing as little work as possible.
People are always bugging him with their aches and pains, asking him if their boils are actually tumors and that sort of nonsense. Me, I never exploited him for medical advice but, astute observer that he is, he started to notice within days of my pledge to stop drinking, that I was exhibiting symptoms of withdrawal.
Much in the same way that a toddler who trips and falls doesn’t cry unless the grown ups around her make a fuss about it, I wasn’t really bothered by the headaches and sweats until he pointed them out. I started to feel uncomfortably aware of the symptoms and started feeling really sick.
The good news is, just as he predicted, I got my appetite back. It turns out that since I’ve been consuming a shit ton(medical term) of liquid calories from all the booze it didn’t leave a whole lot of room for food. That’s why I wasn’t eating.
Now I’ve started to feel hungry again for the first time in months. Like seriously hungry. Katniss Everdeen hungry, but the odds neverseem to be in my favour.
Bitch don’t look that hungry to me! Where’s my whiskey…
So now that the discomfort has mostly dissipated I’m just settling in to a new routine of… not drinking and I’m looking for other things, besides binge eating, to occupy myself.
I bought Flashpoint on Blu-ray and watched it 4 times in a row.
If you’ve never heard of it, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is an animated movie that tells the butterfly effect-esque story of what happens when Barry Allen, The Flash, travels back in time to prevent his mother from dying when he was a little boy.
He creates a whole alternate timeline where he’s gay, there is no Superman, Aquaman King of Atlantis and Wonder Woman Queen of the Amazons have started World War III and Gotham City is a debauched, neon drenched casino town patrolled by a bloodthirsty, gun wielding “Batman” who unlike the realBatman, kills crooks and street thugs without giving it a second thought.
It’s an animated movie but it’s definitely not for kids. There’s blood and guts, dismemberment, sex between superheroes and swearing!!! At one point Hal Jordan says “ASSHOLE“.
It’s a DC fanboy’s wet dream!
The final scene between Batman and The Flash is just beautiful. It’s like Field of Dreams, it’ll make you want to call up your dad and, unless you’re a heartless son of a bitch, it’ll make you cry like a baby.
Those little drops of water? Yeah they’re tears, so what!
For all its complexity the moral of the story is easy enough to figure out.
We have to learn to accept the tragedies in our past and just move on. As better as you think your life might have been if things had happened differently, we can’t dwell on the desire to change the past.
For all you know things could’ve been a million times worse.
So any time you look back at the moments in your life that you regret and say to yourself “If only I could go back and change things” remember that your life may not have played out for the better.
I’m an atheist. A devout atheist, ironically enough, and so the hardest thing about going out and formally seeking help to quit drinking is how much these programs are tied to religion. It’s a simple thought, but my childish mind needed a bunch of superheroes in tights to fully understand the concept.
Grandma Allen was TOTALLY an alcoholic.
I’m going to try to live without any regrets.
Try living without obsessing over painful memories.
If you only take away one thing from this movie it should be this: Be happy with the life you have.
On the other hand your time traveling adventure could end up making you gay and that could be pretty interesting.
I had to download special software to make these crappy collages so you better damn appreciate it!
“Why would you do it?” you might ask. “If you feel so terrible about it, what was the point? Why not just keep the relationship going?”
It’s because even before the break up I was feeling terrible.
It was becoming increasingly difficult spending time with someone who was always so happy to see me, so happy to just be around me, when I was physiologically incapable of matching her level of enthusiasm.
I feel like a broken record constantly talking about how unhappy I’ve been recently. I worry that people will eventually lose their patience with me. After a while most people’s response is “Get the hell over yourself! You think you’re the only one out there with problems?”
I know that’s how I feel. I lost patience with myself a long time ago. I can’t tolerate what a miserable piece of crap I’ve become and so I can’t imagine how infuriating I must be to the people around me.
A really good friend of mine recently told me that he thought I drink too much. It was sort of funny because I was doing my typical rant about how shitty I was feeling and he flat out asked “Well, how much have you been drinking?” and before I could respond he interrupted me and qualified the question with “And answer honestly!”
I had to stop and take inventory of how much alcohol I consume in any given week and when I told him he sort of slapped me in the head and said “Well there’s your problem, genius! Alcohol is a depressant!”
He went on to tell me a story about how years ago he went through an extended period of serious drinking and realized, gradually, that it was taking a heavy toll on his emotional sate.
I drink a ton of whiskey. Whenever I buy a 6 pack of beer or cider it’s done before the night is. I also, over the last year have been smoking a ton of pot.
I usually sleep 2-4 hours each night unless I take a couple of over-the-counter sleeping pills which I know I shouldn’t be taking because they can react dangerously with my antidepressants and anti anxiety medication.
Add to that an addiction to Pizza Pizza, potato chips, pop tarts and McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches and you have a brain that is being bombarded by a whole slew of biochemical triggers that have been making me feel and act like a crazy person.
I think that in the past few months I’ve overloaded myself in some way because recently I’ve been unable to feel anything.
I have not been able to enjoy any of the things that usually make me happy.
Not only does food not make me feel that rush of satisfaction that it used to, but I haven’t felt genuinely hungry in almost 3 months. I eat because intellectually I know that my body needs its gasoline. I eat when social situations require me to and I eat when I smoke pot, but even those effects have started to peter out.
Before 2012 I would never do any drugs but since last summer I’ve smoked so damn much, and not just pot either. I recently pulled a Miley Cyrus and started smoking Salvia. I went online and found a website that sells what they, very cloak and daggerly, call “herbal incense” which are basically lab grown, mutant plants that they can sell legally in the US and Canada because they are artificially created and their genus classification (which is made up by the creators) doesn’t fall within any of the DEA’s lists of banned or controlled substances.
Now after a year of overindulgence when I do smoke it doesn’t make me feel good at all. It doesn’t make me feel anything. And just like I’ve said in many of my past entires I feel like I’ve become immune to whiskey.
I feel nothing.
And it’s not just substances. All the things that used to bring me joy have become insipid and boring.
Video games and comic books, YouTube videos and podcasts. All the myriad forms of distraction that I used to use to trick myself into not dealing with my problems no longer hold my attention. I feel like if I’m not doing 3 or more things at once then I can’t get any enjoyment out of anything.
I have to be watching a movie while simultaneously listening to a podcast and playing a video game in order to get any kind of joy out of it.
Even sex was unsatisfying. I found myself playing the role of an accommodating participant rather than enthusiastic instigator when it came to doin’ it.
There are exactly 3 things in the world right now that have been able to break through the numbness and actually make me feel some joy:
1) Watching new episodes of The Newsroom on Sunday nights.
Other than that, the only emotions I feel are negative.
So taking the advice that I’ve been ignoring for so long I decided to cut out all the bullshit. I’ve decided to make the following changes:
1) No more drugs and alcohol
2) No more eating shitty fast food
3) Actually sleeping at least 6 hours each night WITHOUT any sleep aids.
4) Jogging every day. I usually walk home from work but my pace is too leisurely. I’m gonna bring a change of clothes and start doing time trials.
5) Focusing my attention on one thing at a time. No more of this sick entertainment multitasking.
6) Forcing myself up and out of bed on all those days where it would be so much easier to just curl into a ball and pray for death.
7) Be happy.
I’m on day four of this new regime. I feel sick and have been suffering from the worst throbbing headaches I’ve ever experienced but with the exception of not being happy and still playing video games and watching TV at the same time I’ve managed to stick with all the other goals.
Part of me wants to fail. Part of me wants to give up on this plan halfway through. Because if I actually stick to it and I make all these changes and I still feel this way then there will be nothing left to blame my problems on. It will confirm my worst fear that there is something fundamentally wrong with me as a person.
I’m gonna stop it before it even starts. Josh is a verb, it means to engage in banter or to tease good naturedly. Maybe it doesn’t fit my regular scheme, at least not in this particular context, but I wanted to spend more time writing this entry than choosing the title so let’s just chalk this up to my ineptitude with double entendres and move on.
I find it has become more and more difficult to deny the claims of friends and family that I may be drinking too much.
My father has always had issues with alcohol and as a child I remember thinking to myself that I wouldn’t be like that when I grew up.
Somewhere along the way that ambition, like most for me, just fizzled out. I don’t even remember how or when but I became, I wouldn’t say a heavy drinker, but a drinker nonetheless.
Right now I’m drinking straight Jägermeister, and not out of a shot glass. I’ve got an 8 ounce High Ball of teeth staining, anise flavoured, godawfullness and I’m wincing as I pound it back. Earlier this afternoon I was mixing it with Pineapple juice, making “Chuck Yeagers” as they are called, but I found the 7-1 juice to alcohol ratio just wasn’t cutting it for me. At least not for what I had had in mind.
That’s when I realized just exactly what I had in mind.
I was intentionally trying to get drunk.
I never did any underage drinking. I didn’t have a drink until well after my 19th birthday. Prior to that I just had no interest in alcohol. Because it was never a “forbidden fruit” type situation I never overdid it, I never got blackout drunk. What I’m trying to say is that for me drinking was never the “thing to do” it was always just what I would do while I was doing whatever I was doing.
I would have a few beers while watching the hockey game, have wine with dinner. I never sat in a parking lot just getting wasted, and I never drank alone.
Over the last 4 or 5 years I’ve been doing a lot of recreational drinking. I was doing it for the same reason I do most things. I always get obsessed in the minutiae of whatever hobby I stumble upon and when it came to drinking I wanted to become an expert. I wanted to know everything about wine and spirits, I wanted to be able take a blindfolded taste from any random cup and tell you if it was a Cabernet or a Malbec and what country it came from. With a single sip I can, and will even if you repeatedly ask me not to, correctly tell the difference between Bourbon, Scotch, Whisky, Whiskey and Rye.
Since the beginning of this year I’ve been interested in more than just connoisseurship. I’ve been trying to get drunk.
There are even more empties under my sink that wouldn’t fit on the stove. It’s like a liquor bottle grave yard and I killed each and every one of them!
It’s become evidently clear when I started creating my own terrible, terrible cocktails.
I’ve mixed iced tea with cinnamon flavoured vodka, I call it an IV Drip (IV for iced tea and vodka, and drip ’cause I’m trying to be clever) it was gross.
I mixed tequila and Strongbow. I called it a Juan-y Appleseed… it was gross.
I was gonna call Pineapple Juice and Jägermeister a Pacific Rim until I discovered some genius had already called it the Chuck Yeager. It was gross
I routinely mix vanilla vodka with orange crush. It tastes just like a creamscicle but I’ve been calling it Riot Punch because it gets me drunk as dicks and makes me want to run in the streets and take my clothes off while punchin’ stuff. It tastes like a dream.
I took caramel sauce that is meant to be drizzled over sundaes, stirred it into a glass of milk and then poured in 3 fingers of Glenfiddich.
I called it Butter Scotch.
It was so, so fucking gross.
I don’t know what, if anything, I’m trying to say with this post.
I feel like I’m straddling the line of alcoholism. I’m not yet at the point where I feel like I’m in any danger. I do drink when I’m feeling sad but I don’t ever get strong cravings or feel desperate for a drink. I don’t blow all my money away on booze, I don’t ever drink to give myself more confidence or exhibit any of the other lame ass self diagnostic traits you’ll find on the dozens of online self assessments.
My biggest problem is, as with all things, moderation. I’ve said before that I’m a binary creature. I live in a world of mutually exclusive blacks and whites. So when it comes to alcohol I either have none or get completely wasted.
So I’ve decided that after I’ve finished this bottle I’m working on, I’m going to go through an extended period of abstinence. A month ought to do it. Maybe longer.
It won’t be hard. Like I said I don’t needto drink.
The only tragedy is I’ll have to deny the world of all of my amazing cocktails.
He’s back ladies and gentleman. After almost 2 whole months of depressed, motivationless wallowing, the prodigal son has returned.
I feel I owe it to you all to preface this post by admitting that I’m drunk as dicks right now.
Try to picture that. A bunch of disembodied penises all crowding the bartender, getting all up in his grill shouting things like “I’ll tell YOU when I’ve had enough”.
That’s how I feel right this very now.
Maybe it’s the 375 ml of vodka flowing through my veins or the fact that a piece I wrote about online dating has just been published on the far more interesting Steph not Stephanie but whatever it is, I’m back.
Whether or not this is a good thing remains to be seen.
I’m a self delusional sociopath.
I started this blog as a way to be honest with myself, just to organize my thoughts and get my jumbled up feelings out in the open. Then a couple dozen people started reading it, then over a hundred subscribed and then I sort of lost track of what I had originally intended.
As much as I want to be entertaining when I write, this blog is really, at it’s core, about an emotionally stunted, chronically immature man-child and his struggle with mental illness.
It should come as no surprise then, that the extended sabbatical I took from blogging was due to a relapse I had in my ongoing lightsaber battle with depression.
For almost a year I have been taking 2 different mood stabilizing medications to stop me from collapsing in the middle of the street in a fit of sobbing and to prevent me from driving my fist through the faces of the ever growing population of mouth breathers that surrounds me.
It was going well until about 10 weeks ago when I just stopped taking me meds.
It wasn’t a conscious decision, it was more like a growing apathy that started with me taking my doses much more sporadically and then eventually just reaching a point where I couldn’t be bothered to follow the routine that I had set.
The routine that was specifically set up to give my life structure and stop me from going crazy.
After 2 weeks off of my antidepressants and anti anxiety medication I started to feel sick. It was withdrawal but rather than talking to my doctor I just missed a couple of weeks of work, ignored all calls from my friends and family and started a series of 40 hour days.
The calendar meant nothing to me. I’d stay awake for 30 hours straight and then sleep for 10 only waking up to repeat the process.
It was during this time that I started having really bad nightmares.
They scared me so much that I went back to my doctor, stopped cancelling my psychotherapy appointments and started taking my meds again.
During this transitional period I suffered an extreme case of anhedonia.
Now for those of you who don’t know how to google definitions of words you don’t recognize, anhedonia is the inability to feel happiness or pleasure.
During this time I was watching all the TV and movies I wanted, playing TONS of video games, reading (and spending the majority of my disposable income on) comic books and having regular sex.
I mean regular as in “on a regular basis” not regular like “same ol’ same ol’ boring” sex.
I guess it would be more accurate to say, frequent sex.
I need another goddamn drink. It’s time to crack open the Ballantine’s, fuck this vodka! Everyone knows that clear alcohol is for rich ladies on diets.
But to get back on track, of all the “fun” activities I had engaged in, none of it made me feel anything.
All of it felt wholly unsatisfying and coming to terms with the idea that the word is giving me everything I could want and I was still unhappy, filled me with shame and made me hate myself.
What the fuck is wrong with me? I’d go to bed every night thinking that and I’d wake up in a cold sweat from a terrifying dream that I couldn’t even remember.
After a while it wasn’t dreams anymore. Just an overwhelming sensation of dread whenever I’d go to sleep. Even dozing off for a few seconds on the subway would end up with me waking up screaming.
As it stands I’m back at work, I’ve reestablished the lines of communication with my social circle and I’ve been trying to regain some semblance of normalcy in the freakshow that my life has become.
The dreams haven’t stopped though.
Even though I’m back on my meds I still can’t get a decent night’s sleep without waking up covered in sweat and tears with my heart threatening to erupt from my chest.
It’s for all these reasons and more that I’ve been ignoring this blog. Maybe I’m flattering myself in thinking that people actually missed my regular posts, but the truth is the interest of readers hasn’t brought me back.
When I first started writing I found it to be a very therapeutic experience.
It made me feel less crazy.
It made me happy.
I’m trying to catch lightning in a bottle a second time. I’m hoping that by coming back here after so long an absence, I can recapture the peace of mind this blog had originally afforded me.
I promise my future posts will be less maudlin and self indulgent. I just needed to get this out of my head and onto the screen to stop me from going nuts.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Over the last 2 or 3 weeks I’ve been feeling more and more weak, tired, apathetic, depressed and angry with myself.
It’s such a radical change from how I was feeling when I last posted.
I’ve been having a hard time sleeping.
I thought I had got passed this but the insomnia that was crippling me all winter is back.
Also I feel like I’ve been drinking more than I’m comfortable admitting, but I seem to have developed an immunity to whiskey. I drank a half bottle of Johnnie Walker while I watched almost a whole season of The Sopranos this evening. It doesn’t seem to have had the desired effect.
I don’t know what’s caused this shift in my emotional state.
Actually that’s not entirely true. I know exactly what the cause is. It’s an uncontrollable compulsion to look back and remember some pretty low moments in my life. I can’t stop these negative thoughts and my mind will drift towards painful memories seemingly of its own accord. What I don’t understand is why.
Things have been going better for me than they have in a long time, so why do I feel so shitty?
I have a pretty sweet job that makes me feel like I’m actually contributing to society and making a difference by helping people. So why is it so hard for me to get out of bed and go to work in the morning?
I have a lovely new girlfriend who is such a joy to be around and I feel like she genuinely likes me in spite of all the glaringly obvious reasons not to. So why am I spending so much time and mental energy thinking about the girl who broke my heart even though, by my own admission, I didn’t even want her anymore?
I’ve made so much progress in therapy gaining valuable insight and acquiring new tools to unravel the jumbled up mess in my head. So why can’t I look in the mirror without feeling so damn angry with myself?
I need to sleep.
There’s no two ways about it.
If I don’t start getting some real rest I’m going to collapse in the middle of the street. I might punch a little old lady while waiting in line at the super market or bite the head off someone’s tiny yip-yapping accessory “purse dog”.
I just want to stop feeling this way.
I don’t want to be splayed out on my uncomfortable bed staring at my ceiling at 1AM every night. I don’t want to keep replaying past events in my head over and over, conjecturing the innumerable ways in which things could have gone differently.
I don’t want to be unhappy anymore.
It’s been a Sisyphean effort. A perpetual motion machine of negativity. I get bogged down by all these feelings and then I start feeling ashamed of myself for feeling this way so I feel even worse so it causes more shame.
I need to interrupt this cycle because it’s keeping me up all night and driving me closer and closer to a complete emotional breakdown.
Usually I go back and revise these posts. I write in free flowing streams of consciousness and I have a whole editorial process to try and make them make sense.
Not this time.
If you feel like this post has been self indulgent, whinny, repetitive and nonsensical THEN GO FUCK YOURSELF!!! You knew what you were in for when you came here so quit complaining.
That was uncalled for. I’m clearly delirious and more than a little bit stressed right now.
In 1939 Ernest Wright wrote a novel called Gadsby. Not to be confused with The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (from whom I drew inspiration for the way I stylize my own name), Wright’s book was more of an experiment than anything else. He set out to write an entire 50,000 word novel without using the letter E.
I am a good work… guy
I vividly remember stumbling across this book in the 9th grade and enthusiastically showing it to my English teacher. His reaction was the complete opposite from what I expected. Instead of “Wow, that’s interesting” he just rolled his eyes and scoffed in a cynically derisive way and said “No realwriter would ever subject himself to self censorship. There’s no way to express yourself within any strict confines, you have to break rules to create true art. Now everybody take out your notebooks, today we’ll be learning how to write a haiku!”
In retrospect this guy probably had half a dozen unfinished manuscripts in his desk and hated the fact that he needed to waste his days babysitting a bunch of teenagers. I just found it so ironic that before any of us were allowed to read our haiku in front of the class, he forced us to listen to about a dozen of his own. And he really seemed to dig his own work. He really thought he was saving the world one haiku at a time and he projected his smug satisfaction in the most despicable way. He had this look on his face like a dog finally getting to pee after an 8 hour road trip, or a sleazy dude discovering that his sleepover buddy forgot her underpants on her pre-dawn walk of shame.
My words burn with passion for I have the soul of a poet!
For anyone not following my meandering train of thought, a haiku is a type of Japanese poem with very strict rules. It’s composed of 17 syllables arranged in 3 lines. 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second and 5 in the third. Here’s an example:
Josh is very cool
He’s the coolest guy around
Disagree? You die!
A haiku is an example of writing within the confines of self imposed restrictions. You can choose to break the pattern if you want, but then what you’re writing is no longer considered a haiku.
Now, Josh, what’s your point? What was it that you were trying to say this whole time but just couldn’t, before making us sit through 400 words of build up?
Well aside from the fact that my teacher was a dick, my point is this.
I think tweets are the newest form of poetry.
Much in the same way that your haiku must fit into a very strict syllabic format, tweets are restricted to a maximum of 140 characters.
Most people may not even notice or care since the majority of tweets don’t even come close to using up all 140 characters. The shocking statistics show that 90% of twitter users have fewer than 100 followers, twitter has devolved into a celebrity promtion service. When we non-famous, or normies as they call us, tweet most of what we get is stuff like:
Few people are actually conversing, sharing thoughts or ideas.
It’s no secret I have a problem being concise. For me it’s almost impossible to say what I want to say in 140 characters or less. Almost all of my tweets come in right at 140 character mark, and that’s after 2 or 3 edits to trim the fat or substitute some words with shorter synonyms. I realised, with a bit of that same smug pride my 9th grade teacher had, that it’s quite an accomplishment.I make funny, thought provoking observations and for the most part I do it in EXACTLY140 characters.
It’s like a 21st century haiku!
Here are some examples of tweets of mine that are exactly 140 characters on the nose:
I literally JUST found out that the MS in MS Paint stands for Microsoft. I thought it was just the “pink bow wearing” sequel like MS. PACMAN
Americans spend 2BILLION more on potato chips than the government does on researching alternative energy sources You really CANT eat just 1
It’s like I’m a living Oscar Wilde play: I’m on 2 meds, one perks up my energy but kills my libido. The other knocks me out but turns me on
Google you are freaking me the fuck out!! Why does every male celebrity name auto-complete with “net worth” and every female’s with “feet”?
Life tip number 37: When suffering from dry elbows so severe you’d do ANYTHING for relief dont resort to using Chapstick. Splurge on lotion
I have embarrassing drool stains on my couch they look all jizzy and won’t come out. It’s ironic ’cause the jizz stains DO come out easily!
Well if that ain’t poetry, then I don’t know what is…
It’s actually entirely possible that I don’t but I’ll stick with my original assessment.
People should have more to say. Twitter is the new venue for experimental writing and we should all take advantage of this everyday opportunity to make some poetry.
They say that when an ostrich is in danger it buries its head in the sand. It leaves its entire body exposed to harm, but it takes comfort in the fact that it can’t see whatever problems it needs to face.
Intellectually I understand how illogical and impractical this defense mechanism is, but I can’t say that I haven’t done exactly that during difficult times. For almost a full week now I’ve been ignoringmy problems rather than actually facing them.
Why are you hiding your face? Was it burned by acid or something?
Oh no. It’s just that it’s terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be doing it in the future.
One of the things I write about most is how anti-social I’ve always been. I’ve said multiple times that I frequently feel a greater emotional connection with fictional characters than I do with real people. I’ve been depressed for months but I was managing my depression. Over the last week I’ve had a severe relapse and have started to become more and more disconnected from reality as a result.
To protect myself from the stimuli that would trigger an emotional breakdown I’m finding that I take more and more comfort in isolating myself from others. Literally locking myself in my apartment and not leaving for days at a time or, just flat out, not responding to phone calls and emails.
I haven’t had any proper sleep in months and since I’ve got a whole extra 8 hours every day that I now need to fill, I’ve found that I’m immersing myself in movies, TV shows, video games and comic books… much more so than usual, I mean.
In the last month and a half I’ve watched the following series in their entirety: Red vs Blue (10 Seasons), Seinfeld (9 Seasons), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (8 Seasons), The Office (8 Seasons), The Twilight Zone (5 Seasons), Batman: The Animated Series (4 Seasons), Parks and Recreation (4 Seasons), The Life and Times of Tim (3 Seasons), The Inbetweeners (3 Seasons), Game of Thrones (2 Seasons), The Newsroom, underGRADS and Clerks: The Animated Series (1 Season each)
Conventional wisdom would tell you that there aren’t enough hours in 6 weeks to watch that much television but what’s crazier is that THAT’S not all I’ve been doing. In order to keep myself distracted and to keep crippling anxiety at bay, I have to multitask.
While these DVDs are playing on my laptop I’m either simultaneously playing Xbox on my TV or reading comic books, and I don’t mean 20 page single issues. Some of them are 350 page hardcover anthologies.
In September of 2011, DC cancelled all of their ongoing comic book series and rebooted the whole continuity. That means that there are 52 different titles that are published on a monthly basis and all of them started the stories off fresh with whole new “Issue #1’s”. The project is referred to as DC’s The New 52.
I’ve been going through and catching up on it.
All of it.
That’s almost 2 years worth of FIFTY TWO DIFFERENT COMIC BOOK SERIES.
A guy at work found a copy of Swamp Thing on my desk. He didn’t say anything but he just gave me a look that said “Swap Thing? SWAMP THING?!?!?!? Dude! What is wrongwith you”
In my defense, I will read ANYTHING written by Scott Snyder
What I’m saying is that there are plenty of real problems in life, obligations and commitments, that I’ve been neglecting because I’m more interested in my fake virtual life in the Mass Effect Trilogy on Xbox. I played through all 3 games in 115 hours and was so pissed off that a decision I had made halfway through the first game resulted in the unavoidable death of one of my favorite characters in the final chapter, so I’m playing through the whole series AGAIN so I can “Marty Mcfly” the situation and change history, so to speak, to ensure that he would survive.
The reason I’m writing all this is because it’s time to stop. I have to pull my head out of the sand. I have to realize that just because I’m distractingmyself from my problems it doesn’t mean I’m protected against them. The ostrich’s whole body is exposed to predators.
He’s gonna end up getting eaten and won’t even be able to see it coming.
People think it’s an obsession. A compulsion. As if there were an irresistible impulse to act. It’s never been like that. I chose this life. I know what I’m doing. And on any given day, I could stop doing it. Today, however, isn’t that day. And tomorrow won’t be either.
–Batman, Brad Metzler “Identity Crisis”
I didn’t want to do this. At least not this soon. I started this whole thing because I never talk about myself. Most people know me as a goofy, fun loving joker and very few get to see the gears working behind the scenes in this crazy messed up head of mine.
I never talk to anyone about how I’m feeling. Even with my closest friends I only ever have hollow conversations about pop culture, so books and movies rather than thoughts and emotions are standard topics of discussion. But since today marks the release of the latest in the series of DC Animated Universe films, and since I’m running out of ways to distract myself from having to deal with my whole “dad situation”, I want to take a little time to talk about Batman.
Today I went out and bought a copy of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns part 2 on BluRay.
I imagine it would’ve had to have been an amusing sight, watching me watch this movie. Every now and then I’d catch myself involuntarily whispering, “Damn, I fuckin’ love Batman!”
I thought about maybe writing a review but instead I decided to be a little more self reflective and try to put into words why Batman matters to me so much.
So? Why am I obsessed with Batman?
Because I feel more emotionally connected to him than to most real people in my life.
It takes a person of a special disposition to consider a fictional character, originally created for ten cent pulp rags, as an emotional touchstone. I am aware that most people will say I’m crazy when, in a world full of poverty and violence and real suffering, I say that Batman is important, but he is to me.The effect that this character has had in shaping me into who I am today is so significant I’d go as far as saying that it makes me understand religious fundamentalism in a frightening way.
I’m not saying I agree with the fundees AT ALL, I’m just saying that I understand how these crazy nutjobs can get so incensed over their most strongly held beliefs. If I can almost come to blows with a stranger at the comic shop over something as trivial as a freaking superhero book, then it makes a weird sort of sense that people would go to war over religion.
And that’s really what I’m trying to say. Since 1992 Batman has been my religion.
June 19th 1992.
I remember the exact date because it was my older brother’s 12th birthday as well as the original theatrical release date of Batman Returns.
I’ve been obsessed ever since.
At first it was about the adventure of it all. I was only six years old at the time. Little kids are impressed by the car and the gadgets and the BILLIONS OF DOLLARS. As I grew older and read the works of Grant Morrison, Jeph Loeb, Paul Dini and especially Frank Miller, I started to see the true complexity that makes him so interesting.
Batman is as crazy as I am.
I am crazy.
I say it so often and so candidly that people sort of just shrug it off without really letting it sink in, but the truth is that there’s so much wrong with me that just the thought of trying to list it all is exhausting. I’m psychologically damaged in a way that I fear may never be fully repaired and while I’m certainly not dangerous I’m self aware enough to know how unpleasant it can be having me around. This means I either spend a lot of time alone or having to apologize for myself.
If you read Batman through a certain lens, it becomes very clear, very quickly, that he’s not at all a hero in the traditional sense. He’s more insane than the weirdos he’s always locking up.
He’s a an obsessive compulsive, paranoid sociopath with dissociative personality disorder and an infallibility complex. He went through emotional suffering at a young age and has never been able to get over it and, more to the point, it appears he’s not even trying since he’s intentionally putting himself into situations that will make it worse.
I feel like I’m talking about myself when I write that.
One day I’m going to write about the experiences both past and very recent that have contributed to my overall mental instability. For now I’ll just say that I recently sat down and had a real conversation with someone recovering from a substance abuse problem. Although it was a brief talk, and I’ve never dealt with this kind of problem myself, I was amazed at how connected I felt to this person. Being able to talk about feelings with someone who could draw upon their own personal experiences to really understand the type of pain I had been feeling was so different. Even now I’m still trying to work out how I felt about it.
What I’m hamhandedly trying to say is that never before did I have anyone who I felt I could relate to emotionally and so I used Batman as a surrogate.
I would read about this poor little boy so full of anger who grows up to be a man with no hope for a happy future and while it didn’t necessarily give me hope for the future it did give me that feeling of “at least I’m not alone.”
I started this entry with a quote that gives us a glimpse at the denial that Batman lives with everyday. He’ll never admit to himself just how crazy his actions are and how little control he has over his obsessions.
That’s at least one thing I’ve got going for me. I’m happy that I’m able to recognize that I’m all messed up in the head.