SOBER CITY – Day 58

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Sober City – February 27, 2011
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There has been plenty of times in my life where I have bitten off more than I could chew. In high school I organized, emceed and performed in a large scale, multiple act concert event (largely on my own) and managed to turn a profit. When asked to do the event again the following year with more bands in a much bigger venue for many more people, a young 18 year old Joe said “Absolutely I can”. My second year at Mount Royal College I was cast as the lead in The Music Man (a large scale musical) as well as a main character in the smaller but equally demanding touring show, Nobody’s Children. I was taken aside by the head of the program and asked quite seriously if I could handle doing both. A 20 year old Joe said, “Absolutely I can.”
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10 years later I find myself in Toronto, a working actor/musician undertaking a year long experiment on the implications of not drinking and I keep asking myself on a daily basis if I’m actually going to last another 10 months without even once indulging in the simple pleasures of alcohol, and a 31 year old Joe says, “WHY IN THE HELL DID I AGREE TO THIS MADNESS?!” Somebody get me a bottle of Lemonhart, hook it up to my arm and put me on a plane to Vegas with a steady flow of Wolfblass Yellow Label and Grasshoppers at the ready accompanied with a video camera stuck on record to document the entire fiasco for future generations of anthropology students to dissect in classes about moments in historical awesomeness! I’m a musician damn you! I’m an artist! I’m suppose to be experiencing the world through booze goggled glasses so I can parlay it all into songs about strife and give future performances filled with heart ache and pain! I do honestly think this way a lot and I know how ridiculous and false it is, but that doesn’t make it feel any less real.
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It’s the constant struggle between feeling good about myself and feeling like I’m undertaking a pointless task that is serving no real purpose other than frustration and boredom. Alcoholics always talk about getting clean because of hitting “rock bottom” and needing to turn their life around or not being able to just drink socially. I doubt “quitting for a year just to see what would happen” has ever been a real reason for sobriety. Even though I’m not an alcoholic, I’m not a straight edge guy by any means either so this whole all or nothing thing doesn’t suit me very well. I’m not saying it would be easier to cut out booze completely if I had an actual drinking problem or believed alcohol was inherently bad, but having a legitimately solid reason for quitting would probably help a great deal.
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That being said, I’m still on track and I gotta say that going public with this was the best/worst thing I could possibly have done. For better or worse I’m in it for the long run now and as I approach the two month mark I can honestly say I’d probably be calling it off if not for you dear readers. It’s out of my hands now and slowly becoming something bigger than me, so I’ll keep going and keep complaining and keep writing about my frustrations and triumphs equally as they come. If not for my personal curiosity and self betterment, then for what I can only hope is public inspiration and entertainment. So you can ask me if I’ll continue this sadistic, self sacrifice of zero alcoholic intake for the entire year of 2011 and ask me if I’ll stay sober even during patio season and rock concerts and you can ask me if I’ll pass on that glass of wine tomorrow night during the Oscar telecast and rest assured the answer will continue to be “Absolutely I will”. God help us all. Cheers!

SOBER CITY – Day 50

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Sober City – February 19th, 2011
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OK. Fine. You got me. I admit it. This is not as easy as it seemed at first. I wouldn’t say I’ve had cravings exactly but over the past few days I’ve definitely experienced moments of longing for time spent with my good pal beer and his gang of Australian wine friends. The Beck’s Non-Alcoholic beer is doing it’s job and keeping me out with friends but it’s like being at a party with Keith Richards and Lindsay Lohan while you spend your time at the snack table with newly sober Charlie Sheen. Oh sure the stories about doing blow with Pee Wee Herman and hiding dead hookers at The Playboy Mansion are cool at first but after a while your looking for an excuse to find a bathroom, secretly hoping you’ll bump into Kesha and Andy Dick so you can have some real fun you will inevitably regret and relive insesently through stories at future snack tables forever. I exaggerate but only slightly.
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But fear not dear readers, the force is strong with me. I have yet to give in to these evil moments of temptation and I’m not about to ruin my entire experiment for a fleeting moment of liquid satisfaction. I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it anyway, what with all the guilt and prying eyes attached. I just think it’s important to convey to anyone reading this that it’s not a walk in the park and I’m really no different than anyone else out there who thinks they could never do what I’m doing. I don’t think I can do it either! That’s exactly why I’m doing it. If I knew this was something I was 100% positive I could do no problem then it would be a pointless experiment and I’d be at a pub right now writing a blog no one would ever see about how terrible Kareoke makes me feel. The things that truly change you and make you a better person shouldn’t be easy and shouldn’t be familiar. No one grows without change and you can’t change if you play it safe.
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All those inspirational words aside, I do look forward to reuniting with my adult beverage friends in 2012. Not enough to become clingy and overbearing but enough to maintain a healthy relationship and let then know I still enjoy their company. Except J├Ąger. He’s just an asshole. Cheers!

SOBER CITY – Day 42

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So I passed the one month mark and am now in the cold grip of February winter in Toronto without the warming effects of sweet sweet alcohol. All is good though! No serious urge to quit the experiment or inflict harm on anyone just yet and the soda water seems to be doing the trick at bars. One of the things I’ve noticed recently is the connection I have with drinking and writing. It’s age old and kind of cliche but true none the less. Writing and music are both historically connected to drinking. There is no exception in my case as I’ve spent countless hours at bars across North America with a note book and a bottle of red wine. It’s the romance of the tortured artist writing words down on a tear stained page with one hand while the other hand is firmly wrapped around a glass of some sort of liquid inspiration. It’s a nice image and maybe it worked out a little for Charles Bukowski or Jim Morrison but there’s a danger in linking booze with inspiration and it’s not just the risk of ending up dead in a Paris bathtub. It’s an illusion of creativity and while it can definitely get the juices flowing, it can also slur those juices after a while.
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I bring all this up now because I’ve had a pretty bad case of writers block for the past year or so (maybe even longer) and any writer or musician knows how frustrating that can be. Then last week out of nowhere, I write (and more importantly finish) two new songs. This initially made me angry. Two new songs from scratch and not one line written in a bar with a glass of Shiraz?! What the hell Eddie Vedder? I thought that was your muse! I really wanted to believe all those nights alone in bars were necessary and productive (in some ways I’m sure they were). Obviously that’s ridiculous but it’s these little moments that need to be recognized. It’s all habitual kids! A bunch of false truths we make up in our wee little brains that we swear are real and faithfully abide by no matter how detrimental or crazy. It’s psychotic really. Then again humans are pretty crazy by nature I suppose. I guess it’s up to us to decide just how much crazy we’re willing to live with. Personally I think I’ll keep the majority of my wacky tied up in pretending to be other people for a living and melodically telling strangers stories with a guitar in bars. That’s plenty enough crazy for anyone. Cheers!

SOBER CITY – Day 36

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Saturday Feb. 5th, 2011
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So it’s been over a month sans the booze and I’m feeling pretty great. This is now the most days I’ve gone consecutively sober since my early 20’s and this blog is sounding more and more like an AA meeting everyday. I was briefly spooked by a link someone left on my last post about how some non-alcoholic beers are actually 0.5% and therefor technically contain alcohol. This is true but thankfully after double checking the type of Beck’s I had on my birthday, I confirmed that it is in fact one of the few that actually contain 0% alcohol so bullet dodged and experiment still intact.
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Now I think that’s a high enough percentage of booze talk in this blog, so let’s move on to my Top Ten Movies of 2010! Normally I’d add pretty pictures of all the films and little blurbs about why I included each movie on the list, but I’ve opted for the simpler “list of movies unnumbered in semi random order”. That just means they’re not necessarily in order from “best” to “less best”, but I did spend some time considering placement from top to bottom so it’s not complete chaos. Also there ended up being a handful of movies I didn’t get to see yet that could’ve ended up on the list, including “I Love You Phillip Morris” which never played anywhere in Canada EVER and is officially THE FIRST JIM CARREY MOVIE I DIDN’T SEE IN THEATERS ON OPENING DAY SINCE DUMB AND DUMBER! But I digress. Here’s the list:
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BEST MOVIES OF 2010 (according to me)
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True Grit
Black Swan
The Social Network
The Fighter
Inception
Blue Valentine
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
Exit Through The Gift Shop
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There ya go. Good for you. Thanks for reading. You know what? Here’s 5 more great movies from 2010 just because you’re so awesome:
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The Kids Are Alright
Easy A
Toy Story 3
Kick Ass
The Town
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Good times. Cheers!