FEELS, SOUNDS

Next Week I’ll Be A Student (Again)

I shall be returning to school this fall to formally train in the medical sciences. The scope of what I’ve been doing these last couple of years has revolved around this line of work, so it seems like a natural fit. At first I appreciated the fact that I still had a job to do regardless of whether or not a provincewide COVID-19 lockdown was in effect, but along the way I had the pleasure of working with some actual professionals in the field, finding myself greatly admiring the fact that their culture values things like compassion and lovingkindness. A complete about-face from the vicious cutthroat slash-and-burn world of information technology.

My former boss in Toronto had an original A.Y. Jackson as part of her office décor, but an entire canoe soundly owns that shit.

Don’t get me wrong, I love building web apps. But to me, building an app has always been more of an endeavour than a job. Something one willfully devotes a great deal of time and elbow grease to simply because doing so provides joy and contentment, like a vintage Harley Davidson being restored in the garage. The presence of a corporate manager constantly breathing down my neck about how the Harley must be street-legal by a particular date always killed the joy for me. It felt like being told I have only three minutes to get my rocks off during a sexual encounter.

Are we men or are we rabbits?

Unfortunately, our health care system is in shambles. A lot of essential medical personnel have either retired early or entered a different line of work. Not just because of the stress of dealing with the pandemic (which is taxing enough on its own), but also because of the psychotic behaviour of certain misguided souls who get all their medical information from Karen from Facebook and react to any request to get vaccinated as if it’s a demand that they cut off their penis. We all know the type…

However, I’m certainly no stranger to people exhibiting abnormal ways of thinking driven by fetishized superstitions and old wives’ tales. The formative years of my childhood were spent listening to my grandfather proclaim young-earth creationism the Truth with a capital T, denouncing those geologists who have actually studied the earth and heartily beg to differ as harlots of Satan (his arguably disturbing obsession with what consenting gay men choose to do with their own genitals warrants a separate blog post). A decade or so later, my mother found instant validation for her hatred of my teenage self’s favourite bands in then-current conspiracy theories about satanic backmasking, and would hear nothing of her validation being built on a pile of sensationalist horseshit that was designed to exploit the ignorance of white suburban mothers and scare them into giving more money to the church. This is to say nothing of the fact that I used to work for somebody who eventually went insane and stabbed a guy. In part because she fell for that silly old li(n)e about God having a plan for her life. Thus I’m pretty sure I can handle whatever the cultists throw at me. I’ve been told (recently) that I have the patience of a saint.


SIGHTS

A-Tikkin’ and A-Tokkin’

As a comfortable majority of us are aware, talk of a change of management at Twitter is afoot. Depending on to what extent the Muskian suckage sickens The Bird (which I anticipate to be significant, on account of our new would-be overlord’s dastardly plot to reanimate the orange monster from its eldritch crypt for no reason whatsoever other than for the evulz), I may find myself switching to another platform as the primary social tentacle of this website. Methinks the time has come to give that new kid on the block a whirl. I’ll probably get bored with TikTok after a week, but it’s nice to know it’s there as a backup in case Captain Elon’s woeful neglect of the rat problem forces me to abandon ship.

My voice isn’t the oratory chocolate of Sir David Attenborough and I probably totally goofed in putting this maiden TikTok creation together, but as an exercise in getting my hands dirty with the platform, it works.



SMELLS

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.