Oldirocks and the Three Bowls

Her Majesty’s first official royal portrait.

A few months ago I accidently knocked my bong off the royal nightstand that she surveys her queendom from, sending her tumbling to the ground. Fortunately, Her Majesty survived the fall intact without a scratch. Part of me is tempted to proclaim that as testament to her quality as a piece of glassware, but the fact that she landed on wall-to-wall carpeting probably had more to do with it. One presumes her fate would have been very different had she landed on a hardwood floor.

The incident was not completely inconsequential, however. The whole bottom part of her bowl broke off…

It still works if you hold it to the stem at just the right angle.

This is the bowl she came with. The only one she ever had, up until that point. I’ve accidentally dropped this bowl once before, back in January 2019. On a (garage) floor of solid concrete, to wit. A glass shard broke off the bottom part that fits inside the stem (a part that according to Google is called a “joint”), but that shard was not big enough to render the entire bowl inoperable. I could still fasten it snugly into the main apparatus despite the blemish, and continued to use it for the next three years. Up until the aforementioned incident last April. Whatever remaining portion of the original joint that didn’t break off in 2019 broke off then.

Within a fraction of a second, my bong found herself in need of a new bowl. Good thing I live in a country that practically has more head shops than churches. Two of which are operating in my immediate neighbourhood. It was in one of said establishments that I picked up this specimen…

…and with strange aeons even death may die.

This was an impulse purchase. I was in a rush and had not the time to carefully weigh my options. What’s more, I entered the store believing that replacement bowls were largely one-size-fits-all. A presumption I now know to be false, through practical experience. This bowl looked close enough to something that would fit my bong, and that tentacle struck me as exuding all manner of kickassitude. So I was sold. It would have given Her Majesty a certain Lovecraftian glow, if only it actually fit inside her stem. Turns out I’d just wasted thirty bucks on something that was one size too big.

Slightly more planning went into the purchase of the second bowl. At a different head shop, I brought the remains of the original bowl in for inspection so that the salesperson could better advise me on what kind of replacement part I needed. She suggested this compact number that fit Her Majesty perfectly. One of those contraptions that filters the smoke though tiny holes. It worked like a charm for about a day, until the tiny holes became clogged with tar. The second I tried to clear the holes of tar, this happened…

Lookit those tiny little holes.
…but at least it came in a pretty box.

The third bowl was the one that was just right. Unfortunately they didn’t have a Cthulhu bowl in my size. They did have ones that were all glittery. But I passed on those, judging them to be too much of a pain in the arse to clean (these things get right revoltingly filthy after multiple sessions). So I settled on this guy…

This is probably the cleanest it’s been since I first got it.

This is actually a hollow piece of glass. I didn’t realize it until I used it for the first time. It fills with smoke during a hit, enhancing Her Majesty’s royal powers by functioning like a second chamber. Since TikTok and YouTube tend to tsk-tsk me if I post anything depicting cannabis use, I give you a demonstration in GIF-o-vision™…


[Insert Punnily Clever Irish-Themed Title Here] #StPatricksDay

The last night I got rip-roarin’ slobbering drunk was the night of the most recent presidential election in a little-known country called America. Without elaborating on the details, somebody said something (apolitical) to me during the subsequent hangover that initiated a complete re-evaluation of my relationship with the sauce, in ways that years of addiction counselling could not. I shan’t repeat that message here, for there were a lot of razor blades and venom in those words that I can’t see being beneficial to your garden-variety drunkard (and besides, it wasn’t so much what was said but who said it). But it was just what I needed. Like the verbal equivalent of Buckley’s Original. Tastes awful, and it works.

Despite the fact that I don’t drink nearly as heavily as I used to, there’s still much to love about St. Patrick’s Day. All the festivity and jolliness of Christmas, minus the sanctimonious commentary about your personal life choices from hyperconservative relatives. In keeping with the spirit of the holiday, particularly its association with The Cause of (and Solution to) All of Life’s Problems, I give you a picture of my old bong that was made from a beer bottle. Her Majesty’s immediate predecessor. Destroyed accidentally one night. By an overzealous gamer. In a garage. In London. Which was unfortunately named after that English city. ☘🇮🇪

It’d be more Irish than this if stout glasses could be made into bongs. While it’s possible to fashion a Guinness can into a smoking implement, no respectable person over the age of fourteen would attempt such a thing.


The Romancier’s Guide to Netflix, Part II

I admittedly neglected Netflix for a period of almost a year after I signed up for a Disney+ subscription. I find myself having no regrets about that year of neglect whatsoever. The Mandalorian alone was well worth the price of admission.

…and that was just the appetizer.

Just before that year started though, there was one Netflix original series which stood out for me as a must-see. Still streaming as of the time of this writing, last time I checked. The Midnight Gospel. Co-created by Pendleton Ward, best known as the man who gave us Adventure Time.

The series follows the adventures of a “spacecaster” (something vaguely similar to a podcaster) who lives in a trailer in a rural area of some alternate (virtual?) reality resembling a hybrid of a Roger Dean painting and the titular ringworld of that old Matt Damon flick Elysium. He has two live-in companions: a white Tibetan terrier(?) who has a portal to the vacuum of space in her belly for some reason (frequently used as a garbage disposal), and a sentient computer system called the Universe Simulator that takes up about half the trailer, like a psychedelic non-evil version of HAL 9000. One with a distinctive triangular touchscreen, and a peculiar five-foot-tall pear-shaped component with a vertical orifice in the side of it, where the spacecaster inserts his head.

…which looks something like a…

Upon merging with the simulator, the spacecaster is taken to some virtual planet where he assumes a non sequitur physical form that differs significantly from his usual guise (e.g. a giant chicken, or man with a fishbowl for a head). He interviews a local resident of said planet, whose appearance is more often than not more bizarre than his. Some heavy philosophical concept is always the topic of the interview, usually one rooted in Buddhism or Eastern mysticism in general, although earth-based magick and mystical varieties of Christianity are also touched upon.

The interview topics frequently take a back seat to the visuals, however. The Midnight Gospel employs the same zanily surrealistic animation style that characterizes Ward’s more well-known series. A series that made quite an impression on me when I first saw it. I was visiting a friend of mine in London one eventful long weekend (not the British capital, but a Canadian city that was named after it) who owned an unusually large smoking implement I have affectionally dubbed Bongzilla. Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of Bongzilla, because those were quainter times before I started carrying a smartphone. But she was a sight to behold nonetheless. As tall as a petite woman, requiring two people to operate her, her mouthpiece more like a facepiece. Ripping her but once produced one of those intense existential highs that all but convinces the experiencer they’re due to drop dead from a heart attack any second. It was in that kind of mental state when I was first exposed to Adventure Time, courtesy of the same friend’s DVD collection.  

My mind was blown clean off when that DVD started playing. I was transported to a world that seemingly had its own laws of physics, inhabited by strange creatures who had evolved to inhabit that world. Some of those creatures had an ethereal quality to them, others were not so much creatures as they were collective intelligences. The fact that it was as hilarious as all shit was just icing on the cake. I wasn’t sure whether to be awed or amused. I got that same kind of vibe from The Midnight Gospel, although it’s a different kind of awe and a different kind of amusement. Compared to the animated sitcom format of Adventure Time, The Midnight Gospel is more like a podcast with pictures. But what pictures! The podcast is pretty interesting to boot.

I’d be lying through my teeth if I were to say that Adventure Time‘s Land of Ooo was in no way influential on the fictional world I created for my own stories. Although I found out the hard way with my last work in progress that throwing strange visuals in there willy-nilly just for the sake of throwing in strange visuals doesn’t really translate to a literary format. Not only does it make for a longer word count, but it also results in the narrative getting bogged down with a lot of unimportant details that ultimately distract the reader from the plot. So I’m taking more of a less-is-more approach with the book I’m writing now. Keep the focus on the story, but include enough incidental references and casual mentions of fictional things to create an overarching impression that the story is not set in our world in the present day. The reader gets the sense that something about the story’s world is off, they’re just not sure exactly what.