This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you use your boyband membership as a springboard to success. None of the overdramatic, Camila Cabelo-esque ready-for-primetime impatient grasping that usually characterizes the breakaway narrative; no Beyonce or Justin Timberlake-esque pulling focus, no Robbie Williams-esque bad boy drama, no Geri Halliwell-esque shock and awe. Just doing your time, putting in the work, waiting your turn, and then, when the time comes, capitalizing on your chance and proving that you have a helluva lot of talent as a songwriter, and more than enough charisma to outshine everyone else in your former boyband, simply by virtue of seeming above it all, and less… well, encumbered, by everything. Not everyone exits the weird cocoon of singing groups so unscathed.
Who doesn’t enjoy success stories, especially ones where the underdog suddenly emerges to become the bright shining leader of the new world order, Hunger Games style? Not that Niall Horan is a stranger to trying times. Even pretty people get their hearts broken. Not all of them mine it the same way. It seems Horan’s answer to dealing with heartbreak is to make upliftingly catchy tunes for a sad subject matter, which is a positive way of dealing with things, everything else considered.
I liked Flicker, Niall Horan’s first solo album. Not that I’m a big connoisseur but it’s one of the best a former boybander has ever put out in recent years. Heartbreak Weather, while not quite as stellar as Flicker, is not a bad second effort. Although Horan has said it’s a concept album, meant to show matters of the heart as various weather patterns, it’s not as cohesive, track arrangement-wise. By this, I mean the order of play could use just a smidge of re-ordering. Still, it’s really nice to see Horan come into his own, and so suavely too.
Liz Lemon: I scheduled a root canal for February 14th, Jack. I will spend half the day in twilight sleep, then I will go home and watch the Lifetime original movie “My Step-son is My Cyber-husband.”
Jack Donaghy: Wow, that is inspired. You are truly the Picasso of Loneliness.
30 Rock, S04E13: Anna Howard Shaw Day
I remember when I used to dread Valentine’s Day. I couldn’t stand all the giddiness and flowers, the cards, the chocolates, the naked, cherubic, rosy-cheeked little Cupids hanging from the ceiling. Instead of a day that highlighted what love was about, for me Valentine’s Day was a day that highlighted not being loved at all. I wanted so much to be one of the chosen and instead it was a day that made me feel like the ugliest stepsister at the ball.
So I hated it. Hated it like the Grinch hated Christmas.
Now, I find I don’t care all that much about it anymore.
Sure, you’ll say. Of course you wouldn’t care about it, why would you? You’re married, you’re done, you’re off the market, the pressure to find a mate is gone.
Romance as we know it – surprise helicopter rides and impromptu candlelit dinners at the top of some revolving restaurant in some unnamed metropolis – dies hard when one is married. And it doesn’t just get snuffed out like a flame, oh no. No, no, no. You won’t get that at all. You won’t even get the displeasure of having it ripped off like some sort of metaphysical band-aid, nursing the sting one moment, moving on the next. Romance doesn’t just die overnight; it dies gradually, struck blind by the kind of I-woke-up-like-this face not even a mother could love, deafened by the snoring, asphyxiated by morning breath and all the careless farting, until twelve years later you wake up and realize that yep, it’s gone.
It’s probably age. We’re both older now, and I don’t know about him, but I’m the kind of old that sees most things as a chore, measuring a choice or an activity against the remaining time I may have left on this earth. A lot of things are prefaced with “do I have enough time to do this and wait for myself to like it?” Or, “Why am I really doing this?”
Keeping a marriage alive takes work. Hard work. Some days, you work hard to remember why you got married in the first place. The sometimes suffocating closeness of living in proximity with another person can take its toll. So no. No more schmoopy love notes. No more surprise flowers. No more spontaneous nights in hastily booked hotels, or ostentatious dinners in ostentatious restaurants, and ostentatious gifts to prove we love each other; right now, the most ostentatious thing we give each other is the fact that we’re still together, a grudging “I’m still here, aren’t I?” which dissolves into mutual eyerolls and then a bit of a giggly cuddle.
Romance may be killed off as easily as the first sucker in a horror film, but love, now love is an entirely different animal. Love is a box of Michelina’s that gets eaten but replaced, making sure the “DO NOT EAT! EMERGENCY WORK FOOD” post-it looks just like it did on the original box because he doesn’t want you to know he ate it, but gets busted for it anyway. Love is putting up with getting pantsed. Love is getting dry humped randomly while doing the dishes. Love is waving at each other from the elevator. Love is surreptitiously patting him on the butt with a “giddy-up, horsie” as he pushes the yellow grocery cart at the local No Frills.
Love is the cockroach of emotions – it can survive anything, even a nuclear holocaust.And that’s okay with me. I don’t mind a little romance here and there, but I’m not going to let one single day dictate that I show it. Love is a tenacious little fucker, and if you ask me to choose between romance and love, I’ll take love any day of the week.
How did your New Year’s celebration go? Was it happy? Was it sad? Did it have fireworks? Mine came and went with a sort of sputter, because Le Hubs was at work and I didn’t feel like going out to mingle with strangers in Nathan Philips Square. So I stayed home, opened the doors and made sure I was clutching bills when the clock struck twelve. (That’s a Filipino tradition. Holding money ensures a steady supply in the coming year, and open doors usher in good fortune – it’s really more like welcoming in the flu when you do it in the dead of a Canadian winter, but I do it anyway.)
There’s been a lot of hue and cry about entering a new decade, and a lot of thinkpieces on how the 2010s have shaped and changed the world as we know it. It definitely feels like a decade where we went from zero to sixty in no time flat. It’s not a very pretty picture at the moment, with all the ridiculousness going on – careless leaders, divisive issues and all that. If there’s anything this decade, especially its latter half, has done for me, it’s to highlight the slow, lingering death of discourse, the seeming end of common sense, and the egregious abuse of some truly lovely words in the popular lexicon that will never be the same for me again. I’m all for slang, but some things just can’t be borne.
Without further ado, here are some of the words the 2010s have ruined for me:
Influencer – One of the worst things to come out of the 2010s. It’s at the top of the list of words (and people) that make me cringe. It’s a made up word for a made up concept, a hot air bag of a self-appointed title for pretentious wannabes who believe their lives are worth emulating and use it to take advantage of the gullibility of others. Seeing it makes me want to claw my eyes out and scream at society at large for celebrating so much vapidity. While we’re here, you may as well throw in curate/curated. Blech.
Iconic, Legendary, Epic, Massive etc. – No. Stop. Stop it. Stop it right now. These adjectives are hard-earned, and it can take a lifetime to earn them. For the love of all that’s holy, they are not herbs to be sprinkled liberally over everything.
Literally/Actually – I am literally losing my mind at how many valley girls actually exist based on the actually extensive usage of literally, which, actually, is literally always used out of context. It actually makes the ones who overuse it literally come across as, actually, idiots. Literally.
Cancelled – is for airline flights. And TV shows. And credit cards. It is not for human usage. You cannot cancel a person, no matter how badly you want to. If a person still breathes, “cancelled” is the wrong word. Please consider using kill, murder and/or eliminate if you really feel that strongly about pronouncing someone’s life as over. Bear in mind you will have to go and actually do the deed first.
Everything – as in “… and it was everything.” No it wasn’t. It was just steak. Stop being lazy and find an appropriate descriptor. And no, you are not allowed to use iconic, legendary or epic. Or say that you were shook. Once again, it was just steak. Jesus.
Shook – or any iteration of this when it is intended to mean overwhelmed. Like shooketh. The correct word is shaken, but… you know what, I give up. These are special times. Sigh. There’s still triggered, and snowflake, and slay, and savage. And, it seems fairly recently, pure. Please, not pure. Why? What did the English language do that was so bad we have to slaughter it this way?
I quit doing resolutions a while back, because they never work. Still, in the coming decade, I resolve to avoid websites that overuse all these words like the plague. You know the ones. The ones where headlines read like they were barfed out by a random SEO-driven headline generator that runs on 100% high-octane hyperbole. “A massive XXX happened and now everyone is upset.” Ugh. No more rubbish. No more clickbait. Nothing against them. I’m just old now, and unable to take too much of juvenile, half-assed, under-researched, hastily written shit. (Mine is an exception, but that’s because I came up with it, lol.)
I lost a couple of drafts I’d already been working on while I was away on my last big adventure of the year, which sort of sucks. I like writing in the heat of the moment, overwhelmed by all the sounds, tastes and textures, so much so that it’s almost a relief to get it all out, but now I’ll have to start from the beginning, after another numbing work week has already passed me by, to try and remember what my week in Spain was like.
Spain feels like a dream now. A hazy, wonderful dream spent exploring twisting, secretive alleyways, grand palacios and beautiful, manicured jardins dotted with marble statuaries of king and queens come and gone; of carefully watching my sneaker-shod steps on rain-slicked stone mosaics in an ancient summer palace where sultanas once danced and sang, accompanied by the soothing melody of trickling water; of staring up, aghast and bowled over by the imagination of a single, solitary artist, his work an explosion of creativity so immense, at least three generations of builders have passed and still his work is incomplete. A lovely adventure punctuated by dipping spongy, delectable soletillas (ladyfingers) into almost mythical cups of the richest, velvetiest hot chocolate you can imagine; of washing down delectable bites of seafood and chorizo with tinto de verano, which is like sangria, only better; of conversing in broken Spanish and giggling at the antics of very handsome (and very friendly) waiters at a crowded tapas bar, always with their eye on you, attentive to your slightest need, all naughty winks and nods of approval at your obvious enjoyment of what their establishment has to offer. It’s only been a few days, but that’s what it feels like. A dream. Like waking up and wondering if all that really happened.
So here I am, buried in photographs of memories made within the span of a mere seven days, trying to recapture the magic of what it was like to see the great kingdom and former empire of España, taking stock of all the things I loved and the things I couldn’t abide.
So much of Spain remains in the lifeblood of the Philippines, in our language and our food, our interactions and instinctive social cues, our beliefs and our way of community. As a country whose influence has impacted so much of my homeland, even its name, Spain has always been on my list of dream places to visit, if only to see and experience life in a land that colonized, shaped, influenced and yes, to a certain extent, terrorized, my home for centuries. It’s also home to forty-eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, if chasing World Heritage Sites is your thing. It’s second only to China and Italy, tied at fifty-five. As such, it definitely is well worth your while to give it a visit.
Last month, the management cut the power to our high-rise.
The reason lay in January of this year, when the residential building across from us experienced a complete breakdown of power and heating when a burst pipe flooded the building’s electrical room with water. They never really stated what caused the pipe to burst, but in particularly harsh winters, extreme cold can cause water in the pipes to freeze. The resulting ice expansion puts pressure on the pipes, which eventually crack, or burst, if the build-up becomes too much for it to contain.
A burst pipe is enough of a potential catastrophe when it happens in a single residence. It’s a harbinger of the end of the world when it happens to a 33-storey residential apartment building that houses about 1200 residents. They had to shut all essential services down while they investigated the extent of the damage to avoid possible electrical mishaps – or worse, a fire.
Imagine what that must have been like. No power, no heat, no light and no running water for three straight days in January, which is the absolute dead of winter. That means no heat in sub-zero temps and no working elevators, which would necessesitate going up numerous flights of steps if you live on a higher floor. It’s particularly inconvenient for children, the elderly and the disabled. It wasn’t pretty. There were fire crews, ambulances, and police cars all surrounding the building to make sure no one emergencies could be dealt with as they worked to restore power to the building. It must’ve been a complete nightmare for the residents of that place.
With all that in the rearview mirror, the management of our building decided some preventative maintenance was in order to avoid the same thing happening to us. Which is how we came to be without power or water for 24 hours.
I suppose it’s nothing to me, a veteran of Noreco II’s regular brown-outs, to amuse myself for the day and find some way to be occupied. I’m easy. Something to read, something to eat, some water stockpiled. But power outages are rare to non-existent in this part of the world, especially with Niagara Falls providing hydro-electric power not too far away from us. Unlike me, Le Hubs doesn’t find escape in books, and his preferred pursuits involve the use of electricity – music, podcasts, and video games – and he was pacing around like a caged thing, utterly annoyed by his regular routine getting upended, which struck me as absurdly funny.
I spent a good while ribbing him about being completely unprepared for the apocalypse, my lack of empathy an unfortunate (?) side-effect of being Filipino. In the Philippines, our matters of life and death are considerably a lot more serious than the loss of power and access to TV or computers for 24 hours. He was justifiably angry with our building’s management for letting things slide so much they ended up having to deal with it by inconveniencing us all, but it was still funny to me. Only those of us who have ever been held hostage by Noreco II will ever have the fortitude.
That said, his reaction to the lack of power was my reaction to the lack of water. I suppose I should’ve expected that the water would be shut off as well – to test heating? – but I am used to constant access to running water. In the unlikely event we would have no water in the pipes, my childhood home has a manual pitcher pump out back and yes, I’ve had mornings when I used to go out back, pump enough water to fill a pail, and lug the whole thing back inside the house just to shower before school.
I had two buckets of water set aside for washing and the water was ice cold, enough to chill the blood. In the Philippines, our water is sometimes warmed by pipes exposed to the sun, and even when it isn’t, the temperature of our regular running water is not hard to adjust to.In Canada, cold water is cold. Bone-chillingly, horribly, uncomfortably cold. I couldn’t really appreciate the convenience of having both hot and cold water running until all I had to wash with was cold water. This was just before spring came on and the weather had a high of 5C; having a normal shower was out of the question.
I have come to realize that should the apocalypse come, I am capable of living without power for a while. I can live with walking up seventeen flights of stairs even if it really truly sucks and I had a moment where I truly considered living in the tenth stairwell. I can deal with being unplugged. No, should the apocalypse come, true suffering for me would be the inability to take a decent shower, as shallow as that sounds. (And, I suppose, access to the warmth whenever winter comes.) Even us hardened veterans of Noreco II are helpless when it comes to the ice cold waters of the Great White North.
May has been a month for goodbyes. The final chapters of stories I – along with a good chunk of the rest of the world – followed over the past decades (The Avengers, The Big Bang Theory, Game of Thrones) have finally been unveiled. I know it’s ridiculous to feel sad about bidding farewell to characters who don’t really exist in real life, but they were real to me, and it was nice to have that sense of community, of belonging because other people felt the same way I did.
It feels a bit empty too, wondering what the next big show would be. In the past, we’ve seen great shows come to an end – and attempt second lives by way of disastrous movies – but there was always something. Something else. Some other TV show that was different, but just as good if not better. The last time I remember feeling even the slightest bit bereft was when Breaking Bad ended. But Game of Thrones was there to catch me, and what a long rebound relationship that turned out to be.
I suppose it was a bit like being a serial monogamist. Always having one boyfriend waiting in the wings once the current one plays out with barely any change in rhythm, but this one… well, this one feels different. I felt the same way about Avengers: Endgame. It was immensely satisfying to see it all play out, but I walked out that theatre with the feeling that I was personally ready to move on. The MCU and Marvel Studios is obviously going to keep on keeping on, and I’m quite sure they will always have an audience for the stories they have yet to tell, but my part in their tale might just be more of a recurring guest star than an episode regular.
I can’t say the same about HBO, a powerhouse which frankly dominates the landscape of TV with good reason, but I do wonder if I will ever be as invested in a TV show as I was with Game of Thrones again. Perhaps I might. I enjoy good TV, and there’s a lot of good shows out there. But I don’t see myself going full on stan the way I did with Game of Thrones.
There’s a lot of corny platitudes that could be used here, and I suppose anything really would be cheesy and completely tacky to say, but there’s still truth to be found in the cheesiest of sayings.
“How lucky [we] are to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
– A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
There’s not taking no for an answer, and then there’s this. Voluntarily signing up to break the law in favour of handing out free King James Bibles to hostile tribespeople who have proven time and again that they don’t like strangers and will kill them on sight. Yay? It didn’t work for Magellan. No means no.
I identify as Baptist – I know, shocker – and am very good friends with a lapsed Jehovah’s Witness as well as a Mormon, so I see no problem with the idea of going out to spread the good word. I also see no problem with living and think people should go out of the way to avoid dying stupid, unnecessary deaths.
Or causing stupid, unnecessary fires.
This baby gender reveal sparked a week-long wildfire, burning through 45,000 acres in Arizona and causing $8m worth of damage
In one of the best episodes of Netflix’s Grace and Frankie, Grace decides to down all the vodka so she can function at a gender reveal party held by one of Frankie’s kids. My guess is that’s probably what everyone involved at this party was doing.
I used to get really annoyed seeing people I knew sharing their ultrasounds and fresh pee sticks on social media, but that pales in comparison to going out of your way to fire a gun at a target rigged to blow up with either pink or blue powder to celebrate and starting a wildfire in the process. I’m dating myself here, but I remember when gender reveals happened when the baby slipped out of its mother’s birth canal and plopped into the waiting hands of the OB-GYN. It’s a boy! Can we please just go back to doing that and stop making humanity look like such idiots who keep making questionable decisions?
Speaking of questionable decisions,
A furious mother has accused an airline of mocking her five-year-old daughter for her name which is Abcde https://t.co/OtdtBEST0H
Is it the impending weight of becoming responsible for another human being? Is it the realization of how much time, money and effort it’s going to involve? Is that what caused this bit of mental gymnastics? Help me. Help me understand why someone would name a child Abcde and insist it’s pronounced “Ab-city,” when really, it’s pronounced “my mother is a dumbass”?
I don’t care what people say, giving a child a name composed of the first five letters of the alphabet is cruelty and endangerment when you know what life has in store. Writing Kick Me with a sharpie and slapping it on your child’s back before he/she goes to school is merciful by comparison. At least it wouldn’t be something they’re stuck with for life. And flight attendants wouldn’t make fun of your offspring.
Not that the flight attendant was any better. While I thank her for taking the very courageous, and yet horribly unprofessional step of posting private flight passenger information on Facebook so we could all share in the experience, that was completely disrespectful and unprofessional. No one won this thing.
No one won the other things up in this post either.
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