Category Archives: humor

The Cellar Boy Returns In Time for Rosh Hashanah

The title of this post is especially ridiculous because I’m not Jewish and I don’t celebrate any of the holidays or observe any of Judaism. The reason I bring it up is because I spent this evening at my dad’s friends’ house, where Rosh Hashanah happened to be going on – the Jewish new year. I find it funny how I just stumble into these things by chance and am happily accepted. Like the Chinese new year a little while ago at my friend’s house. Chinese? No. Part of the family? No. Guest? Yes!  Anyway, I’d heard of Hanukkah and Passover, but never of this one; I wasn’t entirely sure what it was going in, so I tried to look like I knew how to conduct myself. Luckily for me, the family aren’t exactly orthodox. Basically, I observed all the general rules of propriety, such as don’t double dip in the honey bowl and only take an apple slice when you’re signaled to do so, not before it’s served and while everyone’s still talking. I think I did fairly well. The family consists of Dr. Jen and her wife, who is a writer originally from South Africa, and is possibly the nicest person in the universe. Correction, they both are. They had an ensemble of interesting characters over for dinner, who I kind of delighted in listening to. I couldn’t do them justice here, but it was a bit like a scene from an indie comedy, if you can picture it better now. My dad and I, I realized as I sat there, are incredibly similar. We even sit the same way, with our arms resting on the table, and when either of us was addressed we’d look at the other for help. At one point, the man across from us (in his forties, with a shaved head and a long nose, a vest and tie) said, addressing my dad, “So what kind of music do you make?” (At this point it had been established that both my dad and I were musicians.) At his question, my dad looked at me. I said, after a moment, “Well, you make it, not me.” It went on like that pretty much all night.

The kids (there were four of them, including my little sister) were missing for pretty much all of dinner and dessert, playing outside and upstairs while the adults (and me – I’m an adult. Weird, isn’t it?) sat at the table and talked. Initially it was apparently thought that I was a lot younger than I am. There were two kids my age there, an outgoing, round girl with glasses who let us know in an ironic way that she was allergic to pretty much everything, and her boyfriend, an obnoxious fellow with big arms and a silver watch whose comments were outrageous and rude, who everyone took like he was just talking about the weather. Oddly, perhaps only due to everyone else’s treatment of him, I was all right with what he said. Within the family circle it seemed accepted. He made fun of his mom’s dreadlocks (she sat across from me, a small French woman with glasses), and he made fun of who I assume was his sister, a girl a few years younger than me who sat to my side, wrapped up in a big grey sweater.

Dr. Jen’s wife, the writer (a tall, thin brown-skinned woman with long hair), told us a story about how she’d watched the interview of a serial killer and how fascinating she found it. It would’ve been weird if she wasn’t so clearly nice. I was mostly quiet, but I liked it that way. I was happy to listen to the conversation (and form opinions on the people. It was also kind of entertaining to try and infer their relationships to each other). There were no formal introductions, and so my brain organized them by either their features or their personalities. I’m not sure I could translate that into English; it’s just the feel you get from people. I found it interesting, anyway.

The food was good, dessert especially. It was an interesting mix of things – honey and apple for the beginning (and the breaking of the bread), followed by dahl and lentils for the main course, red and yellow beets in sweet vinegar sauce (that’s a very French Canadian thing too, by the way), with some vegetables, two salads, and then a peach upside-down cake with brownies and ice cream. There was no running theme through the whole meal, which I liked. I figured it was the Jewish, South African, and French influences of those involved at the gathering that had gone into what we were eating, rather than any particularly orthodox Jewish tradition. (My dad brought bagels from Kettleman’s for the occasion. Very Anglo-European-Canadian of us).  Besides the honey and apple and the bread, of course. Dr. Jen said some prayers or chants in Hebrew before we ate at the beginning, and my grandpa described what that was like best: it was like singing happy birthday while you bring out the cake. We don’t do it because we’re supposed to, we do it because we always have and we like to. That’s the sense I got from Dr. Jen as she spoke – it wasn’t overly serious, it was more of a comfort thing, though we all went quiet and listened. Her son Motsumi was impatient to get to the honey and apple but he also seemed intent to make sure the ritual was done, and he wanted to be a part of it. He touched the bread as his mom spoke, and he also inquired about if they would hide presents like in Passover. Once hearing that they wouldn’t, he promptly disappeared to play with the other kids. I thought for sure they would show up at some point for the food but I guess playing took precedent – weird. When I was that age it was food first, play later. Also I ate like a garbage disposal service, but you know. (I’m happy to announce it never made me unhealthy, or even that chubby. Notice how I say “that”. All that method of eating really made me feel was bloated, to tell the truth. And then I grew out of it. Sort of).

It was nice and I’m glad I got to go. I’m glad it wasn’t too formal, or too orthodox for that matter, because I’m not sure how ultra-orthodox Jews feel about atheist transgender people being at their holidays. There’s a world of difference between ultra-orthodoxy and a lax practicing of a religion. I like the lax people the best. The extreme ones make me feel a bit nervous to be quite honest.


 

So that’s Rosh Hashanah. Now should I talk about why I’ve been gone for so long, or why my last post was a negative evaluation of the pointlessness of getting pictures of Pluto? Well, as for the first thing, basically I’ve been gone for three reasons, only one of which is really viable. The first is that I’ve been lazy. The second is that I sort of lost my password. And the third is because I’ve been hellishly, unbelievably busy.

The biggest thing going on right now is that I’m back at school – not only back, but back full-time. This is for the first time in five years. The last time I was going regularly was grade eight – now I’m in the imaginary grade thirteen. I should’ve graduated last June, but you know… going part-time, and then not at all, and then part-time again leaves you a bit behind.

Now I get to wake up at the ungodly hour of 7 a.m and lug my exhausted, unresponsive body out of the house, down a hill, up a hill, into a bus – then keep myself from falling over for half an hour as I hold the bar next to my face, while crushed against other morning commuters – then I stumble out of the bus, and down twenty blocks to my school, by which time I’ll hopefully be awake. Then I fall into a chair and sort of learn for a few hours. Then I take the bus back, and by the time I’m home, I’m ready to curl into a tiny, comforting ball under something, preferably a mound of blankets, and hide. While sleeping. A nice hide-sleep. Unfortunately, I have to stay awake until a little later, or I’ll pop awake at three in the morning like that one time. That one time that didn’t go so well. It’s a tough thing, going from half-days at school (and a whole summer of sleeping in) to getting up when dawn has just broken, and being expected to stay awake for the next sixteen or seventeen hours, most of which are spent needing to focus, of all things. On schoolwork. Of all the fucking things.

It’s a lot. But it turns out I’m doing it – so far. I’ll check back with you in another two months. If I’m not a harried, shivering little ball clutching onto a Macbeth essay sheet covered in drool and scratch marks by then, consider this whole thing a roaring success.

There are more things to say, of course. I have months and months to fill in here – but I did get a lot of that down, just not here on this blog. I keep a journal so all the inane day-to-day things, or some of them anyway, are recorded. In a hundred years, when someone wants to know what the life of an average Canadian transgender autistic musician writer was like, they can check that journal, and they’ll know. However I doubt anyone’d be interested. Fuck usually I’m not even interested, and I’m the one living this shit.

Til next time. And it won’t be that long this time, I hope.

– Brynn

Advertisements

On Seeing the First Pictures of Pluto

I came out of retirement for this.


pluto

 

It was then that humankind realised Pluto is a rather uninteresting potato-hued thing.

I’m not entirely sure what we thought it would look like. The images I recall from my childhood present it as this poor little purple or blue circle, always considerably less impressive than its other heliocentric companions, sometimes with stripes of different color like a morose Easter egg, picked last from the basket because Jupiter is huge and Saturn has a ring! I’m not going to pretend as if I ever gave a shit one way or another about this overlooked planet but I think some part of me understood its relative lonerism and appreciated it, in a very small way. Never enough for me to actually sit back and go “Ah yes, Pluto, my celestial equal”,  but I never had any negative opinion on it, either. It was tiny, extremely far away, a billion degrees below zero—all the things you don’t put on travel brochures. Mars had appeal because it was attainable—still is attainable—and you could imagine what it would be like to walk on it, or terraform it, or whatever. It was exciting to watch Mars Rover documentaries, and even the pictures they sent back could be fascinating if you were able to get your head around the fact that when you see them you’re really seeing an alien planet, millions of kilometers away. A whole other planet. The other planets never had Mars’s accessibility, shall we say—but Saturn, being the coolest, appealed from a “I wish Earth had a giant ring of space dust” angle, and the moon, though old news by my time, was a thing you could also appreciate because people had actually walked around on that one. Difficult to imagine, when you look up at it on nighttime drives and see it seem to follow you, glowing, silent and eerie—but you could watch those old films of black-and-white astronauts bouncing black-and-whitely in that barren, colorless world and feel a surge of amazement, or pride, or pure wonder even at the idea of it, and the concreteness of its actually having happened.

But, Pluto, as the most distant and possibly least hyped-up planet, had none of these things going for it. Forget accessible—no real pictures had ever come back of it. Forget cool, except in the literal sense, of course. One teeny rock, out there apparently by itself, so insignificant that eventually they decided it wasn’t even a real planet, it was a dwarf planet. The poor thing.

Of course I think we tend to romanticise these things. We oughtn’t treat Pluto as if we’ve hurt its feelings, because a lump of icy rock, unfortunately I must say, has no feelings. It’s natural enough to feel a pang of unfairness at the idea that, with what seems suspiciously like a stroke of pure arbitrariness, it was scratched out from the solar system model completely, to leave us with a rather unfulfilling eight planets, as opposed to the nine that I had gotten used to as a little kid—but let’s end the drama there, please. Besides that, people get so excited about the idea of traveling into space; and yes, that is exciting, but let’s not forget it’s taken New Horizons since 2006 to travel this far. That’s nine years—that’s a long time. You can go from a stupid ten year old to a fully functioning, car-driving adult in nine years. And it’s hardly encouraging to consider that getting to the edge of our own solar system takes an entire decade, when everything actually interesting out there is millions of light years away, and that even traveling at the speed of fucking light it’d take millions of years to get to those places. Is it exciting to have sent a probe that far? Yes, it is, but you should remember that it’s getting nowhere fast. The distances it’s covering are miniscule, really. Voyager passing out of the system is cool, but mostly arbitrary—we won’t suddenly discover aliens the moment we pass the “edge” (wherever the hell the edge is supposed to be. I guess it’s where the sunlight doesn’t reach?) My point is don’t get unduly excited. Yeah we’ve got some pictures of Pluto now. And guess what—it’s a potato ice-rock. Hurrah.

 

 


Reasons to Despise Society, Pt. 1

It feels like last time I did a post we were still in the paleolithic age, smacking rocks with other rocks and chasing buffalo off high ledges. A whole lot of stuff has happened since last I took up the metaphorical pen to gift you with the machinations of my often idle mind, but rather than attempt to compact it all into a readable wad of text, I think I’m going to leave it all up to your imagination. You can imagine I was bundled away in the night by a mysterious band of rebels out to protest some awful new law and then became their leader, went on to conduct a completely underground (and successful) rebellion; or you can imagine I was stuck on the top of some distant mountain, barely surviving on bits of trail mix and granola while I waited for the authorities to come find me (while at the same time writing my masterpiece novel); or you can imagine that life has been kind of as it always has. Better, these days, but still not all that much different. I realize I’m hurtling, reluctantly, towards adulthood, and that at the end of this year my friends will be off to the bizarre guessed-at lands of life; and it is a bit daunting, to think that soon we’re all going to get tossed to the winds like so many discarded leaflets – but that’s life, it evolves and the people around you evolve, too. To remain static is impossible, and stupid if you try. You’ve got to kind of ride the waves, man.

I am imbued with some obscurity today, sorry. I think the happier I get, the sillier I get – and when I’m down or depressed I turn into a bad realistic fiction novel. I really do, I’ve read over my previous writings. I think I prefer my writing when it’s somewhere in the middle – not too obscure as to be difficult to enjoy, but not too raw that it starts to suggest the world sucks horribly and everything will be bad forever.

So with that out of the way, let’s look at reasons to despise society. I was inspired by one thing in particular, but I’ve realized since then that there are reasons all over the place, simply growing on the trees ready to pick off, and that I should maybe discuss them. Because as anyone who knows me knows, there are some aspects of society that I just can’t get past, that I feel it is my duty NOT to get past, so that you may understand them, too, and wield your new-found knowledge for the betterment of humanity. Or something; I’ll go with that for now.

What’s the thing, then? The thing is this:

asylum cover

Does it look fairly innocuous? A little creepy, but pretty much innocuous? Hold on to your hats. This is the cover for a book that I happened to see at the store, and when I saw it I felt a narrow look of uncertainty grow on my face, wondering if it was the new sequel to Ransom Riggs’ popular series about weird kids who live in Wales (it isn’t that good in my esteemed and glorious opinion.) But aha, the author is someone new – Madeleine Roux, to be exact – and, because my deductive skills rival that of the well-known fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, I was able to deduce that this Roux person is not in fact Ransom Riggs, and is in fact someone entirely different who just so happened to write a book that is eerily familiar to a certain other book which I didn’t find all that good. Am I overreacting? I’m not overreacting. Just look at the cover to Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children:

peculiar children cover

WHAT HO! Still not convinced? Take it upon my word then that both books use the quirk of including photographs en lieu of illustrations, for I guess a more realistic and avant garde feel. Yes, both novels feature photographs as a way to enhance their texts. There is no coincidence here. Why is there no coincidence here? Because, in the Goodreads summary of this “Asylum” book, it is written: “Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-novel perfect for fans of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.”

THOUGHT YOU WERE CLEVER, DID YOU, SOCIETY? Well, you can’t get that past ME, deductive cynical intellectual that I am! Point goes to the Cellar Boy. Smirk.

This isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened, naturally. I remember when Twilight was huge (remember those strange, dangerous times? I got through them by hiding in a closet with a pot on my head), a whole bunch of knock offs suddenly mysteriously appeared, with names like “Blue Moon” and I wish I had another example but I don’t. I didn’t really care about them because my opinion of Twilight and vampires in general was so low. But I have, in comparison only, a much higher esteem for Ransom Riggs’ kind-of-neat books, and it actually sincerely bothers me that other authors can publish books that are just obvious rip offs, and then make money off of them. The same thing happened with a book called “Gods of Manhattan”, which was clearly written straight off the fame of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians. And in film, too, we can observe this annoying practice recurring – (look up Asylum Films. That is beautiful irony right there, that it should have the same name as the Ransom Riggs ripoff novel.) Why do people feel they can do this? More than that, why do they feel they can do it and then get away with it scot-free? Sometimes leeching off of other people’s ideas and success isn’t the most terrible thing (for instance look at the humorous goodness of Pigfarts), and I suppose it’s stupidly subjective of me to forgive in some cases and not in others – but I think, just in principle, that it’s a pretty slimy thing to do. There are fan fiction websites out there for a reason. Put your rip offs on there so random internet-goers can have fun reading them. But for money? Really, for money? O, the green-eyed monster, she who pulls the strings of our desperate hearts.

Now, wait, there are more reasons. Of course there are. I would never just leave you with one. The second one is perhaps even less of a big deal, but what it is is far more prominently displayed in the public light. In fact, it’s so prominently displayed that everyone and their poodle is doing it. It is so prominent that I currently cannot turn my head in any direction without seeing it. At school, it is everywhere, like some bizarre tribal brand signifying that soon the civilized world is going to be overthrown. Even the pompous Canadian politicians in their fifties on the news channel I watch religiously are doing it. It is starting to make me sincerely unhappy, simply because no one seems able to resist it. It is, of course, this.

bad hair

No, not the guy. Well, the guy too. But more specifically his hair. Good mother of all that is holy, everyone has this haircut now. Put down summer and fall of 2014 in the record books as the “Time of the Shaved-Sides Haircut”.  It’s like we’ve crashed hair-first into some Utopian  George Orwell concoction where Big Pop Star is Watching You.

big macklemore is watching you.

I think I’m about to have a nervous breakdown. Such conformism has not been seen since the Time of the Skinny Jeans, and thank Brian that one’s mostly over. It’s not the haircut itself that I dislike, you understand; back before everyone had it I thought it was kind of neat, but since then it’s gotten unnervingly prevalent. I’ve seen fads before, and fads are weird, granted – the one with the hamster teddies on wheels was basically impossible to grasp – but this one is different. It could be because I’m older, more aware, and far more cynical and angry – or it could be that it’s just seemed to hit all at once this time, and with force. I don’t understand it at all. If I see a popular figure that I really like get an interesting new haircut, then maybe I’d consider doing the same thing – if it looks good on him or her, then why not? I can understand that, sure. But you’d think – I mean you would, wouldn’t you? – that after a certain point, you would no longer want to get that haircut, after five out of the fifteen people in your class have that hair, after the goddamn Conservative fifty-year-old guy on Power and Politics has that hair. I mean, I don’t really care, but I do care. I care but I don’t care. If you have this hair, then I think no less of you; it could very well be you weren’t aware of the extent of this fad, or that maybe you just didn’t care. BUT – if you are actively aware of the popularity of this hairstyle, and then you go out and get one yourself – I must ask you why. Why? Do not be a pop star sheep. There are too many of them already, they’re clogging up the classrooms and I don’t have anywhere to sit. I’m a pretentious idiot, aren’t I. I’m just a sheep covered in rainbow paint with a little hat on its head trying to not be the same. Well, I stand by my ethics; I will not wash my wool.

New slogan for 2014.

i will not wash my wool!

Perhaps I should separate myself from Photoshop, forthwith. How silly, why would I do that? I think that’s it for this particular wad of text and bizarre pictures. I have perhaps or perhaps not officially returned from my hiatus. We will see. Do stick around; until next we meet, I am your champion of the obscure blog, he who sits among the sheep, – The Cellar Boy

 

– FIN –