Friday, January 09, 2015

2014 Greatest Hits: No Prisoners Taken, No Quarter Given

This is kind of a cleanup of sorts.  With only limited resources of time and effort, I am, unfortunately, unable to write about everything I would like to write about.  I try not to clog the pipes with too much personal bullshit because, despite a brief stint as a transvestite jewel thief in Indonesia, I'm not exactly the most interesting man in the world.  On the other hand, if your life is so fucking boring that even you can't be bothered to try and immortalize yourself in some way, then you've got even bigger problems.  So now I'm going to take this opportunity to kind of blow my 2014 load all at once and mention a few, memorable things and leave you to clean my word-jizz off of your brain later (at your earliest convenience, Jeeves).  So here's my 2014 Top 10 Countdown in no particular order:

1) Finishing my Master's Degree

There are no guarantees in life, but it's probably a safe bet to make that, odds are, I am quantifiably smarter than you.  And most people, for that matter.  Luckily, I'm also incredibly humble, so I don't let my brilliance go to my head.  There are some who tout a degree from the School of Hard Knocks as an unparalleled academic achievement, and while such scholarly pursuits do have their merits, there's also a lot to be said from actual quantifiable achievements from an accredited university that lets you put some fancy letters beside your name on a resume.  Also, I can't retroactively go back and make my life any shittier in order to claim the moral high ground, so I'll have to settle for forging ahead with my graduate degree trying to carve out a larger slice of the financial pie.  And probably some hookers and blow for good measure.

2) My Sister's Wedding

Even though I am honour bound to hate whatever dude sticks his dick into my little sister on principle alone, I have to say that were it not for the fact that the dude that ended up marrying my sister is married to my sister, I would not wish upon him eternal torture and various anal atrocities until the very end of the universe itself were he not married to her and we happened to meet randomly on the street, or at work, or at that weird bar down the street where, oddly, there were no chicks and I had the best time of my life with strange feelings in my underpants...

The reception ended up being a pretty kick-ass party, and the old people and other fringe elements went home early, leaving the rest of us to celebrate unimpeded and highly intoxicated.  Once again proving my social tactical superiority, I managed to oversee the pivotal BBQ portion of the event's cuisine and MC the fuck out of that puppy.  I also got into a great groove with copious amounts of alcohol and weed, which not only left me feeling fairly chipper the next morning but also inspired an unusually vivid hallucinatory dream that feel more than confident in saying that I effectively dreamed a novel.  

3) FanExpo

Once again, I embarked upon this mission to live out the consumerist dream with my old accomplice and occasional character witness, Ryebone.  Though talk of other glories dominated the planning stages of this mission, it ended up being a fairly typical run, which is to say that we ended up buying a bunch of shit.  My focus at the 2014 FanExpo was video games, and I ended up scoring big on Assassin's Creed III: Limited Edition at a price so low I almost felt guilty and a RetroN1 system to do some NES retro gaming.

When I returned from this little adventure, I also realized that I was running out of space in the archives for all of the shit that I seemed intent on collecting like some half-rate James Bond villain.  Like most wives, mine has never been a huge fan of anything I do, particularly anything that brings me even a modicum of happiness, although even she is impressed by the vastness of my collection of movies, video games, and various related paraphernalia when I whip it out in front of her while she's tied to a chair and gagged.  And while it is nice to have the option available to fuck under the watchful eyes of Mario, the Ninja Turtles, Captain Kirk, Aragorn, Trinity, Batman, Mr. Brown, and Lando Calrissian, it's not going to happen if there's no more room left in my office to seal the deal.

In a plan I believe has perhaps more potential of blowing up in her face than trying to establish September 11 as National Islam Awareness Day, she made a point about redirecting any future funds to items of quality rather than quantity, such as signed items, actual memorabilia, graded and properly protected action figures instead of random STAR WARS characters who appeared onscreen for three seconds in one of George Lucas' remastered versions, or hardcore special editions of shit.  Far be it for me to actually agree with my wife, but the mantra of "Quality over Quantity" is probably a pretty useful adage to begin applying to many more facets of life in general.

I also learned the hard way not to agree to Ryebone's rendition of the ass-talking scene from ACE VENTURA, as his version involves an au naturel approach, and his hairy, dilated asshole is not a site for the faint-hearted.  I must admit, however, that it was the single best acapella version of "Cotton Eye Joe" that I have ever heard.  

4) Aerosmith

One of the deficits in my cultural education has definitely been in the area of music, especially in the attendance of live events.  Luckily, I got a chance to partially make up for that with a local music festival which featured none other than Aerosmith as one of the headlining acts, along with Big Wreck and Slash.  I'm not sure what kind of chemical cocktail/voodoo spells/cybernetic implants that Steven Tyler and his crew have employed to keep them rocking well into their 60s, but goddamn they can still put on a hell of a show.

I was standing in a crowd of roughly twenty thousand people swarming around a brightly lit stage, marinated thoroughly in ambient marijuana smoke and in eminent danger of being pissed on by a bunch of bladder-challenged stoners, but I was certain of one thing and one thing only: Steven Tyler was singing directly to me.  I'm sure I wasn't the only person to feel this insane energy that Tyler put out, but I realized then the true power of a performing artist to create the illusion of an intimate connection in the least intimate of contexts with each individual on a massive scale.  That shit was kind of frightening, which, I suppose, is part of the allure.  Steven Tyler was still in full possession of all of the gifts that had undoubtedly cost him his mortal soul, which made for a kick-ass show and an excellent lesson from the School of Rock.  He was also rocking a goatee, my favourite facial hair configuration, so that was pretty cool too.  (Almost like we were twins...)

5) Medieval Times

This one came pretty late in the game, just squeaking in before the end of the year as a birthday surprise.  As far as family-oriented surprise birthday gifts go within our budget range, Medieval Times is about as kick-ass as they come.  I vaguely remember going there once in my youth on a family vacation, but the years and alcohol must have taken their toll, because this time around it seemed particularly awesome.

The serving wenches weren't as scantily clad as I would have liked, but other than that, there was nothing to complain about (except for the expected price gouging on merchandise for the kids).  The concept seems pretty simple, and all it boils down to really is dinner and a show, but the way the whole package is dressed up is superb.  Some of these kinds of places can tend to feel cheap, but everything at Medieval Times felt solid, from the decor down to the food.  My family and I  got there super early, and we were literally the first people in the door for that show, so we ended up sitting right in the first row.  We must have lucked out, because our section (For the Red Knight.  Recognize, bitch.) was particularly rambunctious and the energy helped get us all charged up.  Which was good, because normally sitting in a restaurant wearing a fake, paper crown and cheering like an idiot for some dude you'd just been introduced to to win a series of staged medieval-style tournament games would seem sort of ridiculous.  Sort of.

For those who rekindled some last spark of my childhood wonder, we salute you.

6) Movie Madness

2014 saw my movie collection balloon to a respectable 764 individual titles, with the help of some eleventh hour Christmas and birthday presents.  I was also able to get a much sweeter set-up for the collection due to item number seven on this list to display and bask in the total money-hole of a hobby that I have embraced.  Still, legacies have been built on less.

Despite a reduced ability to go to an actual movie theatre, I still did manage to check out a few of my more anticipated releases on the big screen, including X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and INTERSTELLAR, the latter of which I even managed to squeak in in IMAX for the win, despite my brother's inability to stick to any kind of schedule even when somebody's taking him out for his fucking birthday.  I also caught up on some films that I've been meaning to get around to, such as HARD CANDY, OLDBOY, MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, RUN LOLA RUN, and MULHOLLAND DR.  Also, during my (somewhat truncated) ritual Boxing Day excursion, I picked up the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY hardcore steelbook edition, mostly based on the sweet-ass design of the packaging and the passing hope that the movie would at least be on par with Marvel's usual middling fare.  Instead, I ended up an existential crisis as I'm still trying to wrestle with the fact that not only might GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY be my favourite Marvel movie so far, but also that I want to inhabit Chris Pratt's brain BEING JOHN MALKOVICH-style.

7) Buying a House

Home ownership has its pros and cons, and if you'd talked to me even ten years ago about concepts like "variable rate mortgages," "building equity," or "storing corpses without having to worry about snoopy landlords who get what's coming to them," I would have looked at you quizzically then gone back to watching CSI (a dark time in my life, no doubt).  We did take the plunge a couple of years back, but sold old Betsy when I moved to another city to "further my education" and "get away from the terrorists that I had duped out of their plutonium for time travel experiments"and dragged my family along for the (expensive) ride.  Because we sold before our five year term was up, I also learned the hard way that banks aren't fucking around when it comes to collecting their cash, and we ended up being dinged big time in penalties that took a huge chunk out of our profits.

But the fact is that even after taking it up the ass from the bank, we still came out slightly ahead.  Now that I'm advancing in years and at the point where I have kids and can reasonably consider that my death is a certainty and not simply one of several Choose Your Own Adventure endings that it seemed in my youth, I'm starting to think long-term.  Assuming we're not overrun by zombies or cyborgs or good, old-fashioned terrorists and Western culture doesn't completely implode within the next fifty years or so, I need to have a fucking plan so I don't end up sucking dick in the back of a Denny's for rent money.

It's kind of weird not having a landlord to fall back on who takes ultimate responsibility for any damage or shit that may go down and being sort of broke, even if it is being temporarily broke for a purpose.  There's something empowering about carving out a small part of the world for yourself, even if it will technically be owned by the bank for the next twenty-five years or so.

8) Surviving the Office Christmas Party

I find myself in some kind of antisocial stasis at the moment, though I can't put my finger on the root cause.  In order not to be a complete antisocial prick, I forced myself to make an appearance at the office Christmas party, if only long enough to score some free food.  I ended up running into some people from a couple of other groups I've worked with, and it turns out that all of my coworkers are a bunch of drunken reprobates.   I actually halfway enjoyed myself and left no incriminating evidence.

9) Camping

The '80s were a weird and wonderful time.
In my youth I had a bit of an outdoorsman slant, having learned the ancient arts of Camping, including keeping my cornhole tightly guarded from the likes of pervert Scout leaders and rabid raccoons.  As I've gotten older, I've become more of a suburban commando, though I still do enjoy the occasional trip to the great outdoors to relax and get away from the noise.  My wife and I always have grand visions of camping extravaganzas, but what with kids and work and the incredibly finite nature of our finances we usually end up only getting out once a year.  This year, we managed to get out twice, bitches.

Besides getting in touch with some primordial connection to Nature, it's also an opportunity to get wasted and add cook food the way it was meant to be cooked over an open flame and with copious amounts of alcohol.  The campfire has also become a strange portal through which the deepest, darkest sexual perversions of our friends come to light.  Two years ago, our group's fascination had centred around anal bleaching, but last year we found our minds orbiting footjobs, especially since one couple in our circle of friends expressed their particular proclivity for them espousing their efficiency as one of the main benefits.  I also learned which of my siblings and wife's friends swallows, which is probably more information than I needed to know, though potentially useful in some unforeseen life or death scenario where blowjobs are the only answer.  (Actually, they're a pretty good answer for most situations, so it's a nice ace in the hole to have tucked up your sleeve.)

10) Adventures in Publishing

This past year I took the first step in realizing my dream and what I hope will turn out to be the beginning of a beautiful (and lucrative) friendship.  My first published book, Feed the Voices in Your Head: Volume I hit virtual bookshelves last year, more than anything else to prove to myself that I could actually see a writing project of that size through to the very end (although if sales picked up, I wouldn't complain either).  As a monument to how amazing of a human being I am, it stands unequalled in the publishing world, and it served as a reaffirmation of my commitment to the writing craft.  I'm currently in the process of trying to finish up my first actual novel and aiming for a 2015 release date.  Ultimately, your legacy is up to you. And it's about time I got the ball rolling.


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