April Fool’s (Wedding) Day!

Kyle and Callie got married.

Josh watched.

Now, a week later the three of them talk about everything that went into planning and executing the greatest wedding of all time.

(P.S. A nasty cold has been going around and Callie’s mic cable kept falling out, so please excuse all the coughs, sniffles and intermittent fuzzy audio)

subscribe on iTunes

Mickey Mouse Haunted House and Gotham’s Got Ham!

 

Kyle was gone building haunted houses in the Ontario boonies, but he’s back after almost a month away! Do he and Josh talk about anything interesting? Hell no! Instead Josh tells a story about dressing up as a giant rat for a 1 year old’s birthday and they both discuss how much Fox’s Gotham licks balls.

mickey knife

I swear Officer… I was just tryin’ to cut the cake!

Bored Games IV: King of Tokyo

 

Today on The VTAN Podcast we give you another edition of Bored Games with our special guest Mr. Dan Fisher.

dan

His beard is good.

We tried to play  Sing King of Tokyo but ended up reminiscing about the 90’s and singing 20 year old songs like a buncha drunken sailors.

This episode is short and sweet because after we finished playing with monsters we got into the greatest most contentious game of UNO the world has ever seen. That will be another episode that we’ll release in the weeks to come.

009

SPOILER ALERT! The cat wins every game

Until then enjoy this watered down version of Pacific Rim with a bunch of dummies.
( I intentionally DIDN’T make a “Pacific Rim Job” joke. We’re way too sophisticated for that here at VTAN)

 

Bored Games

Anyone with even a passing familiarity with me will know that I often throw myself, enthusiastically, into multiple projects that we all know I’ll never follow through with.

Here’s yet another!

Bored Games.

A chronicle of the insane (and/or inane) conversations that spring up when playing board games with my friends. We’ve already recorded 4 of these so it’ll be a true testament to my laziness if this is the only one that ever comes out.

On today’s installment: Lord of The Rings Risk!!! The game of global domination with a Middle Earth twist.

risk

“Six sided dice are for PUSSIES!”- Gary Gygax, 1979

Join my friends Kyle, Callie and me as we discuss every bodily function in sweet, intimate detail as well as pop culture, the acceptability of slur words and all the matters of the heart.

If we make more I’ll put ’em on iTunes. For now click here to download or use the built in player above to stream

 

 

 

 

Make the Missed Connection

For 2014 I didn’t want to engage in anything even resembling romance until after Valentine’s Day.

There’s no logical reason as to why, it was just one of the random, inflexible decisions I make. It’s like how I’m always hatin’ on “Whovians”, how I never trust people with blonde hair or my instant disdain towards anyone who uses “club” as a verb.

Despite my resolution I ended up meeting with a lovely young lady almost two weeks ago and we spent the evening watching a movie and getting to know one another.

With the idea of avoiding romance still in my head, I said my goodnights and left for home pretty early but not before sharing a chaste, yet strangely intense kiss.

I was in a bit of a post-date daze on my way home but this sort of pessimistic pall fell over me. I started thinking the whole evening was a mistake. After last year, I really don’t need the added complications that dating would bring to my life.

I thought to myself, “This girl is sweet and all but there’s nothing there, bruce.”

I guess I should mention I’ve been spearheading a campaign to replace “dude” with “bruce” in everyday conversation and I even use it when talking to myself.

I started to feel a bit blue so I put on my headphones and maxed out the volume on one of the many Kevin Smith podcasts on my iPhone. That’s when I felt someone poke me in the ribs.

I was standing on a pretty crowded subway platform and my initial urge to pivot like a prizefighter and throw a jab to the nose, fizzled away when I turned to face her.

Her lips moved and she smiled but I had no idea what she said, the master of SMod was jabbering too loudly in my ears. I lowered the volume and gave her my most charming “huh?”

She told me she liked my bag.

I’ve never understood when people use the word “plain” as if it’s a bad thing. I have a very nondescript personal style. I never wear anything with a corporate logo on it and if I wanna buy a piece of licensed merchandise I’ll only do it if it doesn’t have the name of the IP on it. It’s the reason I didn’t buy this awesome limited edition House Martell T-Shirt I saw on the HBO store. I loved the sigil but hated that it said “Game of Thrones”. I feel like those who appreciate it would be the ones who don’t need to be told what it is.

This is why the bag in question is one of my favourite possessions.

It’s just a plain black messenger bag except that it has the N7 logo on it and, the Bioware online store assures me, it’s made of ballistic nylon.

I watch a lot of Mythbusters and I’ve chosen to believe that means it’s bulletproof.

When she told me she liked my bag what I heard was “I know what N7 means. I’m cool! Let’s be friends.”

The next 20 minutes were the most pleasant I’ve shared with a complete stranger.

Eventually she had to get off the train but not before turning to me on her way out and saying “It was nice meeting you… find me on Craigslist!”

And with that she was gone.

The second I got above ground I went online and posted a Missed Connection on Craigslist. It was the first time I’ve ever done anything like that.

I don’t know exactly what my intention was. More than anything I feel excited about the prospect of making a new friend. It doesn’t hurt that she’s also super cute!

She responded to my missed connection and it got me more excited than I’m comfortable admitting.

Hopefully she’ll continue responding.

Missing the Damn Point

I’m about to show everyone the depths of my insanity.

Admittedly I usually am the type to dramatically overreact but let that not allow you to discount the SCIENCE I’m about to drop on your face, INTERNET!

I am a dreamer. Unlike Mötley Crüe, however, I am about to make it evidently clear that my heart is not o’ gold as I switch settings from normal (for Josh at least) to BATSHIT VEHEMENCE.

As a Champion for Imagination I have to speak up.

Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is the worst fucking thing to happen to storytelling and should be seen as nothing less than a personal attack, A HATE CRIME EVEN, against storytellers or anyone with enough whimsy to see the inherent value in daydreaming.

Pictured: Hate Crime

Pictured: Hate Crime

In the past I’ve railed against people who “judge books by their covers” and who, in general, form opinions before collecting all the facts. It’s the reason why I’ve suffered through every single goddamned episode of The Big Bang Theory. I feel that it’s the only way to speak with authority when I say that it is THE WORST MOTHERFUCKING SHOW IN HUMAN HISTORY. It’s a right that I have earned through hours of torture at the hands of Chuck “Fuck-me-in-the-eye-hole” Lorre.

Pictured: Hate Crime

Pictured: Hate Crime

But when it comes to the new hashtag@mittymoviedotcom the trailer and the short clip I saw on Ellen today are enough for me to risk absurdity by declaring, sight unseen, that this movie is the slimy afterbirth of a bloody abortion of cinema.

I know you must be thinking, “Tell us how you really feel, Joshie!” and I’ll concede that it may not be completely out of line to call the Hyperbole Police on me, but there is some truth fueling my rage.

The tagline is “A life discovered is better than a life imagined.”

FUCK YOU 20TH CENTURY FOX! FUCK YOU RIGHT IN YOUR FUCKING DRUMS AND SPOTLIGHTS! YOUR FANFARE WILL NEVER AGAIN PRECEDE A STAR WARS MOVIE AND SO I NO LONGER OWE YOU ANY LOYALTY. FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU,
FUCK YOU!

Earlier this year Brad Pitt took my favourite book, tore it to shreds and wiped his ass with the scraps. Whether or not World War Z was a “good” movie is not the issue. He took a ground breaking, genre bending, cerebral and emotionally jarring, global scale masterpiece and churned out a generic ‘spolsion heavy action hero movie.

I don’t care that the plot deviated, my teeth gnash because the “creative minds” behind WWZ completely missed the point of the source material.

I’ve said numerous times that World War Z is not about zombies and these movie producers proved me right.

They took a story about the unpreparedness of world governments when dealing with disaster and the necessity of global cooperation and they turned it into a story about zombies.

More specifically a story about one man’s journey to TREK ACROSS THE GLOBE, REUNITE WITH HIS FAMILY AND SINGLE HANDEDLY SAVE THE WORLD from zombies.

Pictured: Hate Crime

Pictured: Hate Crime

Missing the Damn Point.

Now here comes Mitty, a giant lump of coal in my Christmas stocking.

Missing the Damn Point.

From what I can tell (and the tiny part of me that desperately wants to enjoy this movie hopes I’m way, way wrong) this Mitty movie is about a pathetic schmo who whittles the day away “zoned out” in his daydreams and learns that he needs to step up and have a REAL adventure in order to have a fulfilling life. They’re telling us all that our dreary boring lives aren’t good enough unless we’re jumping out of helicopters or street luging down some Icelandic mountainside.

Ben Stiller himself says “It’s about a daydreamer and a guy who sorta lives in his head and then he’s kinda forced to go out into reality.”

Any half-comatose jughead with a 7th grade education and A FUCKING LIBRARY CARD can tell you that is NOT what this story is about. That is, quite possibly, the exact fucking opposite message that is contained in James Thurber’s FOUR FUCKING PAGE SHORT STORY!

Walter Mitty is a story about a man whose overbearing tyrannical wife leaves him feeling worthless and emasculated. In order to cope he takes comfort in the adventures that he creates in his dreams. The story professes the VALUE OF IMAGINATION.

In this GoogleflixTweetbookXbox4 world I can’t think of a more necessary message we need right now.

Kids today can’t entertain themselves the way they used to. Most adults have forgotten how.

J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst recently released S. an amazing new book with a complex story that seemingly couldn’t possibly have been told in any other medium. ALMOST IMMEDIATELY the Internet is buzzing with “I can’t wait for the movie” and “Is it available for e-readers?” proof that our collective imagination is stagnating.

Every day another remake, adaptation, reboot or comic book movie is greenlit. Netflix is making a Jessica Jones series.

Don’t even get me started on Guardians of the Goddamned Galaxy.

Our lack of imagination makes it impossible for us to accept something we haven’t already seen. It’s the reason a Walter Mitty movie was even made in the first place. Movie studios scoop up the rights to any IP with a built in fanbase because they know they can sell it.

But again, they just don’t seem to be getting it.

Why go to all the trouble of adapting a story if you’re only going to strangle it to death and display it’s hollowed out corpse as your “version of it”?

World War Z would have been fine, and would’ve pissed fewer people off if it had been called Zombie Wars.

Ben Stiller turned 4 pages to 125 minutes. What we’re left with, I’m sure has nothing more than a passing resemblance to its namesake.

He should’ve called it Daydream Believer, licensed that Monkees track for the soundtrack and called it a day.

[note: it’s been almost three months since my last post. depression and poor physical health has made it impossible to motivate myself to write. the outraged fury that this innocuous episode of The Ellen Degeneres Show stirred in ma bellay finally shook me out of my funk. don’t get used to it. i might not be back for another three months]

Écoutez la Meilleure Chanson

The statistics say that the world uploads 100 hours of video to Youtube every single minute. That means that if I tried to watch Youtube in its entirety then I would never be able to catch up. You fall behind four days every 60 seconds.

Must... watch... Youtube

Must… watch… Youtube

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?

Elevate the Customer Experience.

“I’d like to purchase these products please!”

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 years to 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 lovely tonight.”

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:

007008009As 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:

016017018020Wow!

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.

Host the Handsome Guest

Today Jaron Francis, the sexy and good looking half of Long Distance Bromance, left the big city and returned home to Saskatoon.

He came for a week and kept me company while the lovely CousCous was off globetrotting and visiting her family.

It was weird having him here. It had been so long since I had seen him and the last time he stayed with me my life was radically different from how it is now. Even though we’re constantly connected through the internet and we do the podcast every two weeks, not seeing him in person for so long sort of made me mythologize him in my mind.

I am a Golden God!

I am a Golden God!

It was fun to just relax like a pair of normal dudes, have a few drinks, enjoy some of Toronto’s finest hippie cuisine and wander the city for hours.

We walked everywhere this past week. I have a pedometer and I usually top out around 6,000 steps per day, or 15,000 on days when I go for my crazy walks. We averaged 8000 steps per day.

Not bad for a couple of hungover deviants amiright?

I would’ve written a post sooner this week. So much has happened but I wanted to maximize the amount of time spent having fun rather than writing about it.

I’m going to come back and make a proper post. For now enjoy this 100% genuine and unscripted video of me seeing Jaron for the first time in years!

Disturb the Sleeping Giant

Thanks to an unfortunate, yet serendipitous, typo I’ve started using a new internet acronym that I’d like to share with you all.

WYF!

It stands for “What ye fucke!” the olde timey way of voicing one’s displeasure without spelling out full words and still retaining a bit of quaint ol’ fashioned charm.

Right now it’s the only invective that adequately expresses how I feel about the newest trailer for World War Z.

Brad Pitt...Go Fuck Yourself!

Brad Pitt…
Go Fuck Yourself!

What ye fucke, indeed?

In order to give everyone a bit of context, and I’m sure it will become clear in the coming paragraphs, I am obviously deeply disturbed when it comes to my love for this book. World War Z is my 100% absolute favourite book EVER!

This movie, on the other hand…

On the short list of things that I don’t joke about, one of the very few topics I consider out of bounds, or taboo is Cancer. My aunt died of brain cancer when I was a teenager. She was one of my favourite people in the world. Her passing is still among the worst days of my life. I don’t take it lightly.

That being said, this movie looks like the cinematic equivalent of infant bone cancer. They could’ve called it Osteosarcoma and it would have been a more appropriate title.

That’s how much I love this book and how bad this trailer made me feel.

Ridiculous hyperbole aside, people who are unfamiliar with the book often ask me “What’s it about?” and I have never been able to answer that question in less than 45 minutes. Lots of folks will try to deconstruct it and say dumb things like “It’s about zombies!” and to them I say, after a chastising (but affectionate) backhand to the face “That’s like saying The Bible is about a bunch of shepherds!”

Cmdr. Shepard Systems Alliance N7 Special ForcesFirst Human Spectre for the Citidel Council, Messiah

Cmdr. Shepard, Systems Alliance Space Navy: N7 Special Forces,
Citadel Council’s First Human Spectre,
Carpenter and Messiah.

I went on a crazy rant about it on this week’s Long Distance Bromance so I’ll try to reign in the ire on this blog. The less I talk about it the better, because so far it’s just been a source of grief and it get’s me irrationally angry the more I think about it. Over the past few months I’ve been making a concentrated effort to feel better about myself and life in general so I won’t say any more on this sore subject. You’ve got to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative,

So instead of the anti-Brad Pitt tirade that will make me seem even crazier, I want to take some time to write about something positive.

I went on a date Thursday. It was the second time I went out with this girl. She’s super cute and super cool and I’m eagerly awaiting the opportunity to see her again. In addition to being very pretty she’s a great conversationalist and funny too. The plan was to meet for a quick bite to eat, she was taking me to sample some of Kensington Market’s finest vegan desserts. We ended up staying for hours just talking and laughing until the guy behind the counter’s dirty looks forced us to stop loitering long after we had finished.

Not wanting the fun to end we wound up wandering around aimlessly taking in the mild weather and sporadic sunshine just enjoying one another’s company. At one point during our walk we found a pair of discarded books just laid out on the ground. We each took one, sort of as a souvenir.

photo(8)

“I’ve often felt like a discarded book… waiting for someone to take the time to stop and pick me up off the floor.”
-Unknown Hipster Poet

We wrapped up the evening back at my apartment where we got a little snuggly on my couch and tried to outmatch each other while watching Jeopardy!

Sounds like a dream girl, amiright?

Most people will probably take for granted the normalcy of this kind of interaction and are probably asking themselves, “So what? Big Deal!”

The big deal is that I’m notoriously misanthropic. I don’t get along with very many people and the times when I actually DO find people I like, they, for whatever reason, don’t seem to like me. To find someone who piques my interest AND who can tolerate me is amazing.

Again, I feel like I’m flogging a dead horse with all the podcast plugs but I tell some crazy online dating horror stories on the newest LDB. I wasn’t having the best luck and was feeling discouraged but one of my favorite bloggers has been a source of inspiration with her recent positive experiences in the world of internet dating. Read her blog, she’s insightful and snarky!

At this point I’m not expecting too much. I’m happy just getting to know this girl and am looking forward to spending more time together. Where it goes nobody knows, but what I do know is that I’ve been on 2 dates with this girl and I’ve enjoyed every second. We’ll all just have to stay tuned to see what happens next.

Receive the Unexpected Honour

NOM NOM NOM!!!

My German's a little rusty but I'm pretty sure "liebster" means Sex Cowboy

My German’s a little rusty but I’m pretty sure “liebster” means Sex Cowboy

That’s usually the sound you hear when I get my hands on a plate of PC Veggie Chicken Fingers and plum sauce.

Today it’s short for NOMINATION!

J. Alex Alferez, and his brain-baby Verb the Adjective Noun, have been nominated for an award for blogging. I didn’t even know there was such a thing so imagine my surprise.

The only thing I’ve ever won before was a lip synching contest when I was 5. I performed Brian Adams’ Everything I Do (I Do It For You) from the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack. I was promised a $20 cash prize.

I never got it.

I cried…

After a scathing indictment of the meaninglessness of awards on my most recent podcast, you’d expect me to be ambivalent about being nominated for an award myself.

WRONG!!!

I am both honoured and humbled to know that at least one person thinks that my little corner of the world wide web deserves recognition. Honoured because it’s always nice when somebody throws you an “attaboy” and humbled because it was literally one person who determined I was worth mentioning. No write in campaign, no droves of adoring fans waving “Affleck was robbed” signs. Just a single reader who thought: This guy is pretty cool. Let’s give him a prize!

Not that I don’t appreciate it, but is it REALLY too much to ask that EVERYBODY love me?

If Morgan Freeman played Dumbledore, dressed as Yoda for Halloween the world would implode from a wisdom overload.

If Morgan Freeman played Dumbledore, dressed as Yoda for Halloween the world would implode from a wisdom overload.

I got word a few days ago that VTAN had been nominated for a Liebster Award. I was sent a message by my good friend Amy who nominated my blog.

One of the most interesting and not coincidentally one of my favourite people in the world, Amy is a red headed, bespectacled, vegan lesbian blogger/slam poet/mischief maker. She is the henchman without whom my plans for world domination would never come to fruition. She’s also one of two people who constantly kept pestering me to start a blog.

Well, I hope you’re happy Amy! You’ve created a monster.

Along with the message there was a list of instructions for what I needed to do to accept the nomination and submit myself for consideration.

I gotta tell ya, I don’t think I can summon the effort necessary to follow through. It’s not that I’m not appreciative, I just really don’t do this for any sort of reward or recognition. I don’t pimp my blog out or actively seek to expand my readership. Often times I hope nobody reads what I’m writing so that they don’t suddenly realize how crazy and despicable a person I really am.

The one really cool part about the nomination was that I was asked to list 11 interesting facts about myself and to answer 11 preselected questions. That part seems like a lot of fun, so I’ll fill those in here. Other than that I don’t think I’ll be throwing my hat into this particular ring.

spideygwen

Wealth and fame he’s ignored
“Action” is his reward!

11 Interesting Facts

1) In 2006 I auditioned for Canadian Idol. I made it to the second round.

2) I’ve been an atheist for as long as I can remember. At a barbeque one summer I had a 2 hour conversation with a Jehovah’s Witness. It began with him telling me about the merits of the church. It ended with him questioning his belief in God. I was like Obi-Wan in Attack of the Clones.

You want to go home and rethink your life.

You want to go home and rethink your life.

3) I have peed in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as well as the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas.

4) I invented the word “fauxhawk” and I will fight anyone who argues.

5) I am very susceptible to the power of suggestion. Advertising works on me and I will always say yes when a store clerk tries to upsell.

6) Even though I had never seen Star Wars until 1997, when they were re-released for the 20th anniversary, I distinctly remember that my mother would sing Frère Jacques to me when I was in kindergarten (circa 1990) and she had modified the lyrics. The version she sang to me went like this:

R2-D2, R2-D2, C-3PO, C-3PO,
Obi-Wan Kenobi, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Han Solo

7) In 2002 when Josh Hartnett’s 40 Days and 40 Nights came out I was inspired to complete the same challenge as the film’s hero. I was in 11th grade and when the girls in school found out about it they conspired to sabotage me. For a month and a half I had the hottest girls all wearing super revealing clothes and throwing themselves all over me, getting very handsy and trying to get me to crack. I lasted 38 days and was eventually disqualified due to nocturnal emission. In retrospect I should’ve just given in and let one of them blow me, I mean YOLO, right?

8) I became a Vegetarian out of spite. When I was 16 I saw David Suzuki speak about environmentalism and factory farming. He challenged everyone in the audience to go one month without eating meat. After his lecture we had a chance to wait in line for autographs and handshakes and when it was my turn I said “Mr. Suzuki I think I’ll take you up on your 30 day challenge.” He shook my hand and said in a slightly condescending tone “I don’t know. It’s harder than it seems, do you really think you’re up for it?” I’m sure he meant it as goodnatured ribbing but in my head all I could think was: WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE!?!?!?! YOU DON’T KNOW ME!!! I’LL SHOW YOU, YA SMUG BASTARD!

I didn’t eat meat again until I was 25. Now I’ll eat pretty much anything. I prefer not to eat meat and I don’t ever keep any in the house but I don’t treat it like an allergy. When I’m at people’s houses and the hosts ask “Oh Josh, can you eat…” I always say I can eat ANYTHING, I don’t turn food away just because the cook doesn’t share my preferences.

9) The first time I really listened to a Beatles song was in 1998 and it wasn’t even sung by The Beatles. I watched the movie Pleasantville with Toby Maguire and Reese Witherspoon. During the end credits they play Fiona Apple’s version of Across the Universe. I was 12 years old and I remember being moved to tears. I asked a clerk at Music World and he told me it was a cover of a Beatles song. When I got my hands on a copy of the original I remember playing it again and again and again. I can’t verbalize the emotional impact this song had on me. I remember, irrationally, thinking that this song could not have possibly been written by human men. It was transcendental. Very few pieces of music have ever made me feel the same.

It’s the reason why I don’t understand the question “Beatles or Stones?” It doesn’t make a lick of sense to compare the two. It’s like asking if I’d rather breath oxygen or argon.

10) My family comes from Latin America. I’m the third of 4 kids but I was the first to be born in Canada. The thought that from now on every member of my family, that all future generations will be Canadian has caused severe cultural disconnect for me. I don’t identify at all with Latin culture. My culture has always been Pop. My father thinks it’s a travesty that I’ve “turned my back on my heritage” and it’s one of the many reasons he and I don’t get along.

11) Batman. That’s it… just Batman.

You can see that I play fast and loose with the definition of the word “interesting”. Now that I’ve listed the facts it’s time to answer the questions Amy sent me.

11 New Questions For You

1) What website do you subconsciously always type first in your internet browser even though you mean to go to a completely different website?

Cracked.com

 
2) What are you MOST looking forward to in spring? (Patios? Birds? Women wearing less clothing? (that’s obviously mine))

Wearing shorts. I think I’ve got some pretty sexy legs. My calves look like my knee swallowed a grapefruit.

3) What’s one of the weirdest gifts your parents have given you since you became an “adult”?

Thankfully I don’t have an answer for this. I refuse to accept gifts. I actively request not to have any birthday gifts as it’s usually the worst day of the year for me. I hate it so much and so I try to draw as little attention to it as possible. The only person who still gets me anything is my well meaning older sister, but none of her gifts are weird. Usually books or movies that I want or clothes because I’m really not responsible enough to dress myself.

 
4) Did you ever read a book all the way through even though you knew you weren’t enjoying it/going to enjoy it? School books don’t count.

This question could have pretty much been phrased as “Have you ever been on a plane?” I read the first Twilight book on a plane ride. I hated myself halfway through but I sure as hell wasn’t going to let that book “beat me”!

5)Ditto the above for movies (though replace “read” with “watch”/”pay for”)

My cousin Brad is really more like an older brother to me. He’s the guy who first showed me Star Wars, and Raiders, Princess Bride and Mad Max. As part of my cinematic education he’s shown me tons of other gems, but for every Motorama, Fandango or Streets of Fire there’ve easily been a dozen duds I’d care not to mention. I’ve sat through a ton of movies just waiting out the clock but it’s a small price to pay for all the great stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise known about.

6) If you had to write a haiku (and you do have to) about your favourite Superhero, how would it go?

Oddly enough in my previous entry I wrote a haiku about myself. I don’t want to use the same one, even though I AM a hero of some renown, so here it comes

Hidden in shadows
the world’s greatest detective
watches over us.

7) What is your least favourite board game and why?

Pop-a-matic Trouble… she knows why!

 
8) You’re trapped on an island. You can only bring with you one celebrity of your choice. Who do you choose? (For sexy times? For eating? Who would be the best at figuring out an escape plan?)

Emma Stone won’t answer any of my letters, EVEN when I send her expensive flower arrangements so she’s out! I think I’d choose Louis C.K. I feel like he would be entertaining and there would be no problem with hierarchy because he’d be intimidated by me physically. I’d basically use the whole experience as a workshop to perfect my own stand up comedy routine

9) What is your go-to easiest meal to make yourself?

The very best thing I can make is Vegan Shepherd’s Pie. I got the recipe from a comic book so you KNOW it’s good. On a regular basis when I’m cooking for myself I usually make this or these. I have both recipes memorized but I still open up the bookmarks every time I make them.

10) Sprite or crab juice?

I’m glad you got the quote wrong. It’s supposed to be Mountain Dew or Crab Juice. I HATE Mountain Dew so much that you really would’ve had me stuck between a rock and a hard place. In this case I’ll gladly choose Sprite. Ya gotta “Obey your thirst” amiright? (see above: Fact #5)

11) How obvious was it that I ran out of juice on that last question? GET IT BECAUSE I SAID JUICE! Hahahah. How funny am I? (Don’t answer that)

I won’t… oops!

Well that was fun.I hope it took you 1/10th of the time to read it as I took me to write it and if you enjoyed it even only half as much as I did I’d count myself lucky.

Explore the New Artform

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 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 real writer 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.

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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:

tweet

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 EXACTLY 140 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.

…until I get bored and move on to the next thing

Long Distance Bromance

True Bromance

True Bromance

The moment you’ve all been waiting for! Episode 2 of the popular and highly acclaimed podcast.

Long Distance Bromance Episode 2

Jaron Francis and Josh Alferez bring you a unique perspective on the world of geek news.

On this episode we discuss the sweet nostalgia of Dawson’s Creek, my debilitating Skyrim addiction, the upcoming Star Trek and Star Wars movies, the Justice League, the Oscars and MAGICIANS.

I know the ones of people out there are just burning with questions so send your queries, comments and hateful death threats to longdistancebro@gmail.com

Polish the Dirty Mirror

In third grade I changed schools. Upon arrival I was immediately smitten with a girl in my class. It was one of those “pod” classrooms. The ones that housed 2 classrooms worth of kids, had 2 teachers and one of those retractable dividing walls that would allow the 2 classes to either unite or separate as the situation demanded.

I was in one half and she in the other and I remember focusing on her from across the room when I should have been learning cursive. I never did learn all the letters and I’m sure that will come as no surprise to anyone who has had to suffer reading my writing (before the “your blog sucks” zingers start flying I mean my actual chicken scratch handwriting).

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Go ahead and steal my private diary… good luck reading it!

Since I was “the new kid” and since I hadn’t yet developed my obnoxious habit of forcing everyone to pay attention to me, I avoided any kind of conversation and hopelessly pined for her through the years.

By the time we reached 7th grade I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with or  to her but I no longer just stared while avoiding her completely. Instead I created excuses to be around her as often as possible. It strayed into a weird place when I began walking her home every day after school. I’ve never been a particularly well adjusted person but I think that I actually started going crazy at about this time in my life.

When the school day was done I would walk home West and she would go East. We lived in opposite directions and so it took me twice as long to get back to my house whenever I walked her home. I tried not to call too much attention to it but when she started asking me why I was suddenly taking this new route home, rather than telling her that I just enjoyed spending extra time together I began a Jan Brady-esque web of lies.

george


If they made this show TODAY this kid would be on Ativan, Ritalin and Zoloft.

I told her, and even now 15 years later I can’t explain why I did this but I told her that my parents got divorced and that my mom lived in a new house. That was the reason why some days I walked home one direction and some days the other.

The strange thing is that the next year my parents did get divorced and I ended up changing schools again. It made me feel weird. In addition to all the regular stress that kids go through when their parents split up I also had this weird feeling that I had caused it to happen.

Up until the point when my Mom actually left, there was never any indication that she was going anywhere. Everyone in the family knew that there was a lot of unhappiness in both the marriage and the household overall, but no one ever thought she would pull the trigger and go.

Because it shocked everybody with it’s suddenness the divorce made me think that either I was clairvoyant and could predict the future or that I had magically willed  it to happen.

We all know that mischievous preteen boys are often bestowed with godlike abilities.


We all know that godlike abilities are often bestowed upon mischievous preteen boys.

Since then I’ve had a strange symbiotic relationship with dishonesty. I never wanted to be intentionally deceitful but in the past, usually when I’m asked about topics I wish to avoid altogether (family, future goals, emotions) I just wouldn’t tell the truth. Not even to myself.

This blog was created as a means for me to face what I used to make a habit of ignoring, to clean the cobwebs out of the closet so to speak. It’s been difficult being so honest and open because a lot of the words that I’m committing to perpetuity on the Internet, are things that I don’t even want to admit to myself and yet here I am on a regular basis telling the whole world.

By now most readers are no doubt thinking “get to the fuckin’ point already” and I apologize for my propensity to ramble and my penchant for $10 words. I can’t help it, I grew up watching Dawson’s Creek and Kevin Smith films. What I’ve been trying to say is that this 7th grade “love” story  has been on my mind recently.

This was my first taste of unrequited love. Since then it’s happened again occasionally, but I’ve found that most of the time I avoid this kind of drama altogether. Rather than holding a torch for someone when I know I have no chance I’ve realized, upon reflection, that I’ve been playing things a little safe.

By only pursuing ladies that I know are interested in me, I’ve skewed the odds in my favour making me much more successful with women then I have any right to be. I do this with the people I choose to be friends with as well. I search out specific types because, and I don’t mean to offend the people who are closest to me,  I always want to be the smartest person in the room.

I like it when people are impressed by how clever I am or by what books I’ve read. I love introducing you to great music and movies that you’ve never even heard of.

When I’m lucky enough to make friends with guys who are cooler and smarter or better looking than me, I don’t get intimidated. Instead I fall into this “little-brother-tag-along” role. It’s just another obstacle I face when it comes to connecting with people. I either feel superior and hold myself above my friends, or I develop and almost obsessive hero worship relationship with them.

So what happens if I meet a girl who isn’t impressed by me? What if she’s smarter than me or funnier? Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have someone understand why my jokes are funny? Wouldn’t it be great to not have to explain pop culture and literary references? As it turns out it’s more frightening a prospect than I would’ve ever imagined.

I always talk about how I have a love for Batman and an almost hostile disdain for Superman.

bat


Nuclear Apocalypse and Divine Intervention aside, NOBODY BEATS BATMAN!!!

I never understood the appeal of Superman. He’s just a jerk who can do anything. He never has to work or try hard, he’s just naturally gifted and is the best at everything.The writers always try to introduce conflict by making him lose his powers and this is where my preference really makes itself clear.

If you take away all of the things that make Bruce Wayne into Batman, the BILLIONS, the suit, the car and the gadgets, he would still be an expert martial artist and a genius detective. If you take away Superman’s powers he’s NOTHING. He’s a whiny little bitch. He’s never had to learn to fight because he can knock dudes out with a flick of the pinky. More to the point he’s never had to learn to take a punch. He’s spent his life being invulnerable so the second he loses his powers and some third rate street thug socks him on the chin he suffers massive physical AND emotional trauma.

Feeling pain for the first time in your life when you’re 30 years old will fuck up anyone’s day. And the feeling of impotence that comes with knowing that you used to be all powerful and now it’s all gone is worse than the pain itself.

This is how I feel now.

People will point to a certain type of woman, smart and sophisticated, a raconteuse who can keep up with and even beat me when it comes to my long winded  ramblings, and say “She’d be perfect for you!”

When my charms fall flat, and she doesn’t fall for the tricks that usually work for me I end up feeling like Superman without his powers.

Like I said, I’m used to being the smartest, most charming person in the room and while I would love the opportunity to share time with someone more like what I’ve described, when the opportunity does present itself I feel strangely intimidated.

Paralyzed with fear actually.

I usually rationalize that “opposites attract”. If I’m being honest with myself what this actually means is that I look for someone who I feel superior to and isn’t challenging.

Because I’m intimated by women who I’d see as equals, or better than me, I’ve limited the possibility of sharing some great experiences with someone who would ACTUALLY APPRECIATE ME MORE.

I need to take a better look at myself because by my logic only 1 of 2 explanations exist.

  1. I’m too afraid to be challenged intellectually and lose any perceived power I may have had in a relationship OR
  2. I don’t want to, or more likely don’t think I deserve to, feel appreciated.

This is just another thing I need to add to the list of stuff that’s wrong with me.

Nurture the Latent Skill

It’s almost 2:30 am.

At 8:55 I picked up my guitar that was gathering dust in the corner nearest to my bathroom and decided that I would fiddle around with it to keep my hands busy while watching the newest episode of The Walking Dead.

I’ve always been pretty musically inclined. When I was 14 I took a year of piano lessons and then used that knowledge to teach myself to play the accordion and harmonica.

I mess around pretty regularly. I know 10 different chords and can play 3 or 4 full songs. I don’t own an amp but one of my guitar cables has a USB adapter that I use to make loud noises, that could technically be called music, come out of my computer speakers. It never occurred to me until about 5 hours ago that I could use that cable to record on to my laptop.

On guitar I’d describe my level of skill somewhere between Beginner and Novice but when it comes to recording and editing audio my skill level is non-existent.

So after 5 frustrating hours of trying to teach myself to use Audacity, I present my first ever original composition. You can hear a few obvious edits but I couldn’t figure out how to smooth them out and it’s too far past my bedtime to keep trying.

It has no title but if I were going to call it anything it would be My Fingers Hurt

Enjoy

Cast the First Pod

Today we make history. I recently had the distinct honour of being invited to co-host a new podcast. Here’s the inaugural episode.

Long Distance Bromance Episode I

We haven’t yet figured out a permanent solution for getting our words into your ears so for now I’ll apologize if you find that the audio quality isn’t perfect. We recorded separately while talking on the phone and overlaid both audio tracks. My mic was on my desk next to my computer but getting a phone call from Jaron gets me excited like a 13 year old Bieber fan and I spent the entire time nervously pacing around my whole apartment. When I’m actually sitting at my desk you can hear me fine.

Also we’ll find a better way to host it in the days to come but I couldn’t contain my excitement any longer and just threw it up online as quick and easy as I could.

(Edit* The podcast is now being hosted directly off of VTAN and as more episodes come out we’ll see about throwin’ her on iTunes.)

Listen if you dare but before you do, allow me in my tediously roundabout way, to give you some background information.

This podcast was created by Jaron Francis and me. I know that’s bad grammar but I can’t put my name before his.

I talk a lot about both my love of Batman and my tendency to take command of any situation making myself the focus of everyone’s attention. All that posturing dissolves immediately when I’m in the presence of Jaron Francis. One of my favorite people in the world, Jaron is pretty much the only person I’d gladly play Robin to. I follow his lead, defer to his wisdom and when he’s not looking I dress up in his clothes and pretend to be him  he suggested that we start a podcast together I jumped way the hell on board.

Jaron Francis is an actor, playwright, film maker, a dreamer and a chaser. He’s a lover and a fighter, a lapsed Norwegian, a man afraid to dance and, I can only speculate, a generous lover. He’s a stoic agnostic, he’s Kirk in spirit but Spock in actuality and more than anything Jaron is a man happy to be merely content.

True Bromance

True Bromance

In Ancient Greece, Plato posited the idea of the ideal forms. He said that for every imperfect circle in the world, there must exist, on some ethereal plane, a perfect circle from which every other circle in existence derives. The same is true for every physical being or object. Trees, rocks, lions and spiders are all unique in their physical makeup but all of them follow the intrinsic “blue print” of their respective ideal forms.

When it comes to man, Jaron Francis is Plato’s ideal form.

He is the perfect man and we should all aspire to be like him.

It's a matter of public record that I get sexually aroused by breakfast foods.

It’s a matter of public record that I get sexually aroused by breakfast foods.

So when he asked me to partner up with him on this project I immediately relegated myself to sidekick.

However, together, we recorded the first of what we hope to be many episodes.

It’s a show about 2 friends separated by nearly 3000 kilometers who just like to hang out and talk about movies and stuff but can’t because of the distance. So we record our long distance phone calls and you all get to have the pleasure of listening.

Enjoy!

Dance the Whole Night

Ordinarily I’m not the type of person for whom “club” is a verb. In my vocabulary a club is either a tool for murdering those oh so cute baby seals or that group of asthmatic milquetoasts I used to play chess with in highschool. A club is never the place I think of when planning where I want to go to have a good time.

There’s an old maxim usually attributed to Albert Einstein that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. I’ve alluded to it in all of my previous posts, but I’ve never explicitly come out and said that my ultimate goal with VTAN is to become less insane. To that end I’ve found myself doing different things more and more often in the hopes that I’ll have better results.

So it was with more than a little reluctance that after many months of coaxing I broke out the dancing shoes and hit the downtown club scene.

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I had started the morning with a literal “wake up call” that led to a conversation that pretty much ruined my day. Later that afternoon I got an email from one of my favorite people in the world and the excitement that came from opening it was immediately wiped away when I read that his girlfriend had just broken up with him. It bothered me so much to hear about all the bullshit he has to deal with now because this is the type of guy who truly deserves to be happy. He’s so infectiously charming that the whole world is better off when he’s got a smile on his face and so to see him in bad spirits really brings me down.

By the time I left work I was in a pretty shitty mood and was considering just staying home, putting on the Lord of the Rings Trilogy Extended Edition Bluray and just spending the whole weekend fastidiously cataloging all the reasons why the people who say LotR is a better trilogy than Star Wars are goddamned lunatics.

photo(3)

My greater than symbol is made of straws.  Just like MacGuyver used to make.

Instead I  managed to muster up the enthusiasm to follow through with the night’s plan.

I’m not going to give the Howard Cosell blow-by-blow of the night partially because, “who the hell cares?” and partially because I don’t remember it all. What makes the night worth writing about is how it didn’t at all feel outside of the zone of comfort.

I had alternate plans I could have fallen back on that night. My friend invited me to see his brother’s funk band playing at El Mocambo. This would have been more my type of scene. A live band instead of a DJ,drinks at bar rather than on a dance floor,  and if you ask me, sweet funky bass grooves win over dance beats any day of the week. I would’ve ended up going but I had made a conscious decision to act against my natural impulses.

It’s like that episode of Seinfeld where George realizes all his failures in life can be fixed by simply acting in the exact opposite way than he normally would. I took a different track and I gotta say I’m pleased with the results.

Lots of dancing:

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And drinking:

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And just a really fun way to end the night considering my day started off so shitty.

I have to admit though, some patterns are harder to break. Even though it was a night of doing things out of the ordinary there’s only so far you can go in one night.

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We still ended up at Fran’s for more drinks and All Day Breakfast!

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Explain the Crazy Obsession

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.

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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.

It makes me feel like maybe one day I won’t be.

Escape the Parental Trap

I hadn’t planned on updating so soon. Three entries in one week sets a dangerous precedent that I don’t anticipate maintaining but I’m facing something of a dilemma and it’s keeping me awake and restless even with my friend Pam gently stroking me to sleep.

Stifle your wolf whistles, by “Pam” I mean Diazepam, (better known as Valium) not some sweet young lady, but she sure does treat me nicely and I’ve toyed with the idea of committing to her long term especially after the conversation I had earlier today (or yesterday technically since its well past midnight… I’m feeling pretty sleep deprived so expect more incoherence).

My dad asked to move in with me.

This may not seem like such a big deal and you’re probably thinking that because you have normal parents but my dad is far from normal.

As spectacular a failure in life as you’re likely to meet, my father has a special talent for ignoring responsibilities, making poor choices and then finding convoluted rationalizations as to why the problems in his life are everybody’s fault but his.

My father runs a concrete paving business. He doesn’t own it, the owner is a wealthy old Italian man who I’ve been told my whole life has Mafia ties, but my dad basically is in charge of operating the company. He makes quite a bit of money but he only ever works in the summertime and has zero income for half the year.

He knows this.

It’s been the same every year for the last 30 years. In the summer he spends like a WWII era navy man on furlough literally throwing money away (he likes to carry at least a couple of hundred in cash at all times and has had his wad fall out of his pockets many times over the years) he’s never had a savings account and it still comes as a shock to him that he has no money in the winter.

When I was 12, that is FIFTEEN DAMN YEARS AGO, my parents got divorced. They reacted to it in complete opposite ways. My mother viewed it as a chance to make a fresh start. She moved to the suburbs, got remarried, bought a house and now owns a business.

She is happy.

My father looked at it as the end of the life he had built. He figured he was too old and tired to start all over again and so instead just moved into a shitty apartment and rekindled his lifelong love affair with cheap Mexican beer.

Since then I’ve made an effort to avoid him. I guess it’s because I’m actually a lot like him in some crazy ways. I’m pretty impulsive and rarely think about consequences and I have had tons of hilariously tragic “adventures” that were a result of my poor decision making that I know I inherited from him.

Everyday I live with the fear that I will become like him so I’ve spent almost a decade avoiding and ignoring him.

I originally moved out when I was 18 because I had an older brother and sister (6 and 8 years older respectively) who still lived at home. I didn’t want to end up like that so I took off and over the last 9 years I’ve only spoken to him 3 or 4 times.

Until the week before Christmas.

I was alone at home, I couldn’t find anyone to do anything with, I was feeling depressed and after throwing back a few drinks I went for a walk and ended up at the movies by myself watching “Silver Linings Playbook”.

Maybe I’ve got a warped perception of myself but I felt like I was looking in a mirror while watching that movie and I don’t just mean because I’m as handsome as Bradley Cooper.

The guy had gone through an emotional breakdown, he was genuinely, albeit reluctantly, trying to overcome his mental instability with therapy and medication and I really identified with him.

If you haven’t seen it then, without spoilers, I’ll say that there comes a time in the movie where Bradley Cooper and his dad, Robert DeNiro, repair their damaged relationship. It’s a very cathartic moment and I sat there in the dark theatre SOBBING like a baby.

As soon as I left the theatre I was overcome with this intense urge to call up my dad, talk for a bit… maybe have a catch in a cornfield or something.

It felt amazing. We talked for almost 2 hours. I told him all about my life and everything I’ve been up to over the last 9 years. We agreed to meet and I had him come over for dinner. We watched Inception on bluray and made plans to do Dark Knight Rises the following week. It felt like the start of a whole new relationship with my dad.

Then he started calling me.

Over the next 7 days he called me 11 times. Each time to ask for some kind of help. He asked me to fix his computer, he asked to borrow some money and strangest of all he asked if I knew any lawyers who would work for free.

After years of zero communication, in a moment of weakness I called him and opened up the floodgates of bullshit.

I couldn’t see it then but it was just a case of misplaced affection. I realize now, and I’m ashamed to admit, that I love Robert DeNiro, not my dad.

It was DeNiro who I wanted to hug me and play catch with.

I started ignoring his calls and they became more and more frequent.

3 weeks ago he left me a voicemail. He needed me to give him $3000 or he was going to be evicted. I asked him who I should make the cheque out to and he said I should just give him cash. I told him that I would write the cheque to his landlord and he started to freak out about how I didn’t trust him and that by not giving him cash I was accusing him of being a liar. I got frustrated and hung up the phone.

My sisters have been in El Salvador the last 2 weeks. They went on vacation to visit family they haven’t seen in years and so I called my older sister up to say goodbye before she left. During the course of the conversation the topic of our father was brought up.

She was annoyed because he had promised to give her $1000 to put towards the trip but then told her he couldn’t because he didn’t even have enough to pay his rent.

His rent is $1000.

That’s when I figured out his scumbag plan. He was gonna fleece me for 3 grand, was going to give a wad of cash to my sisters so that he could come across as some kind of big shot, pay his overdue rent and then pocket an extra thousand for himself.

Since I didn’t give him any money his land lord is forcing him out next Friday and he has nowhere to go.

He told me that his friend is going to let him stay in his house in Barrie but he can’t go until the second week of February. He needs me to let him move in temporarily.

I have a hard time saying no to people.

It’s really strange. I have no problem being a dick to people and I’m an expert grudge holder. I hold grudges like they’ve got those huge Canadian Tire heavy duty rubberized handles attached to them. I’m usually not a nice person EXECPT when people are asking for my help.

It’s from all those damn times I watched Star Wars as a kid. “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope!” It’s ingrained in my consciousness and it’s become a real problem.

I either go out of my way to help people when i shouldn’t or I say no and am wracked with overwhelming guilt for weeks afterward.

In the end I tend to get walked all over and people have taken advantage.

I don’t want to let my dad stay with me.

I think I might actually hate him.

It’s a real concern of mine that if I let him stay for that week he’ll never leave.

If he refuses to leave I’ll probably murder him.

It’s quarter to 3AM and I’m about to pass out. I’m not going to bother proofreading this entry so if you gave up halfway because it was too disjointed a stream of consciousness to make any sense to anyone but me, then I don’t blame you.

The truth is that I don’t even need anyone to read this, I just needed to write this all down and get it out of my head so that I could finally get some sleep.

I really want to tell him to go to hell but I’ll wait until morning to make my final decision.

Drink the Good Scotch

It’s no secret that in today’s world of sensationalist media the stories that get all the attention aren’t the most well researched or socially relevant but rather the most exciting. This means sex and violence. Since the overall goal of this project is to get people to understand me more and like me better I don’t think we’re quite yet ready for one my sex stories.

So that leaves violence. Here we go.

I got hit by a car last week.

I’m gonna be jumping back and forth chronologically and making wild tangential asides so try to focus. Also there’s no need to point out my my unnecessary use of paragraph breaks. I write the way I speak, which is long winded, simultaneously narcissistic and self deprecating, and full of pauses for dramatic effect.

I went to a bar last weekend with people I hadn’t seen in a long time. It was a friend’s birthday party but it was meant to be a low key “non-event”. I was initially hesitant because it usually falls onto me to be the entertaining one in social situations. It’s a lot of pressure when you’re not feeling too enthusiastic about where you are or who you’re with and as natural as it may seem from the outside, most of this charm is affected. But, I heard that a person that I had wanted to see would be there so I went.

I got there exactly on time so I circled the block for a few minutes and almost froze my ears off. It was cold as dicks and I didn’t wear a winter hat because I had my hair so carefully disheveled. I wanted the illusion of messiness not the real things and so my ears paid the price. When enough time had passed where I wouldn’t appear to be too eager I walked in to find a dozen people already 3 rounds in, and having a great time despite my absence. It was pretty relaxing having that burden taken off my shoulders seeing how they were all able to have fun without me there to be the life of the party. The person I was most interested in seeing wasn’t there though and those in attendance weren’t exactly what you would call my biggest fans.

So I started drinking. Everyone was splitting pitchers but they had been there hours before the scheduled meeting time so in an effort to catch up I started ordering Scotch and Sodas. Within 20 minutes I had thrown back 3 doubles and was starting to feel uninhibited. I was wrestling with my scumbag brain to not make the situation awkward by bringing up that fact that I, not too long ago, had a bit of a romantic dalliance with a certain lady in attendance who had brought her new boyfriend to the party.

He didn’t know anyone at a table full of friends and so rather than being left out of conversations he started clutching onto topics like a drowning man in the flotsam. Inevitably I got stuck talking to him but I couldn’t pay any attention to anything he was saying. I felt bad for the guy but I didn’t care too much because I was still waiting for someone to show up so that the real fun could start.

That’s when I got a text, “I’m not coming. Tell everyone I said hi and wish her a Happy Birthday from me.” I was bummed to be sure, but I wasn’t going to let this bring me down so I just kept the party rolling and continued having a good time.

So I kept drinking and everyone kept talking, I kept making everybody laugh and the night wore one. Eventually everyone left except for the birthday girl, her boyfriend and this one other really cool guy. We stayed until last call and the birthday girl ordered me 2 more Glenfiddichs bringing my total score for the night to 8 (10 including the ones I had with dinner before going out). When it was time to go she said what she probably meant as a compliment but what made me never want to go anywhere with anyone ever again. “Thanks for coming,” she said. “It would’ve been no fun without you here!”

I left the bar feeling like a clown who gets hired to perform at kids parties. The subway had stopped running and so I needed to catch the Yonge bus to get home. I saw one starting to pull up to the stop but I was on the wrong side of the street.

I needed to make a break for it.

There were a few cars crossing, but this one must’ve been closer than I had thought because as I made my wobbly-legged sprint to the bus stop the guy in the car leans on the horn and slams on the breaks. He comes to a skidding stop just a few feet away but the snow, ice and slush on the street had him slide forward and close the gap between us. His bumper hit me in the right knee and I toppled over, my shoulder bouncing off his hood, and collapsed onto the floor. I shot up onto my feet immediately as if nothing happened because at the time my main concern was still catching the bus, but it had already passed.

I looked back as if realizing for the first time that there was a car behind me and the driver started shouting at me before speeding off. I was left standing in the middle of The World’s Longest Street at 2:30 AM completely alone. I felt like the last survivor of the apocalypse as I limped back to the bus stop.

I eventually made it home but not before getting kicked off the bus at Eglinton. I walked the rest of the way with a veggie dog in one hand while I sent multiple sexually harassing text messages with the other.

I woke up the next morning fully clothed with a pocketfull of toonies and a sore knee and shoulder but NO HANGOVER.

The moral is “Don’t waste your time. Always drink the good stuff.”