Torlo Goes to Portland

I may be forced to find some part time work if no fantastic assignments fall in my lap this month. So, if you know of anyone looking to hire a guy who has arms and legs and a typing speed of over 80 wpm, do pass it along. Data entry would suit me fine. I have this weird hankering for manual labor since I haven’t been doing anything active except the occassional swim lately (by the way, the tennis courts by my house are now just piles of dirt). I do not want to do anything that involves sales or calling people, or generally interacting with human beings, cuz those are the worst kind of beings. Maybe I should apply at the library.

Kodos missed me so desperately that he peed on things. I don’t blame him, I peed on a few things myself over the weekend. Mostly urinal cakes.

On Thursday Marlo and I went to ye olde Greyhound station and sat around waiting for the bus to come, which it did. Oh how it came! They moved the ‘Gifts ‘n’ Shit’ store since I was there last, but otherwise things are pretty much as I remember them. On the bus we played 20 questions, which turned into 47 questions, and we played with the channel changers on the back of the seats in front of us. There were 5 channels. We didn’t have any headphones, so we just decided to change the channel to reflect how antsy we were to get off the bus (I got up to 3 shortly before Abbotsford). Once we got to Ford of Abbots, we walked the 40 minute walk from the bus depot to Warren’s place. Somebody in a truck yelled something at us as they drove by, so you’ll be pleased to know that the culture in Abbotsford has not declined. Most eateries were closed by the time we got to them (10-ish) but I got some kind of veggie wrap just before War’s place. Warren had just got in as we arrived. He tucked us into bed and suddenly it was…

Friday morning. Marlo and I went to White Spot and had breakfast while Warren was at school. We both got the same thing but my sandwich had a toothpick with blue celophane to match my blue shirt, and Marlo’s had a toothpick with green celophane to match her green shirt. We learned that Sylvia was coming with us to Portland but that she wasn’t arriving until about 2 because her car had a flat tire. She was coming in from Vancouver. Marlo napped on my lap while I read Warren’s D&D books and conspired (with myself) to make my Thursday campaign just that much more interesting (and by ‘interesting’ I mean ‘nasty’). Once she arrived I managed to leave my jacket behind and we were off to those united states of America. The border check was uneventful. We got some snacks when we filled up for gas several hours into the trip, and I got my favourite exotic US candy bar Whatchamacallit as well as some Jelly Belly flavoured Smartie-like candies. They had instant soup in a can – pizza flavoured – that I found entertaining but I wasn’t brave enough to try it.

Traffic was dreadful so we got into Portland midway through the first block of films – around 8:30 I think. Marlo and I had dinner at Chin’s authentic Chinese restaurant just behind the Hollywood Theater and their egg foo young came as four greasy patties. We got well fed for about $6.50 Canadian each, and had the experience of take-out in those little folding boxes that you see on American TV shows and movies. Grood! That night I introduced Marlo to everybody (her blog has details) and we watched a bunch of shorts, most of which were so-so, but entertaining. I gave Marlo my schedule (which was in fact her schedule) so I’m lost. Afterwards there was an informal get-together at a pub, but since we got there late all the cool tables were full up, so we had to make our own cool table. John Tynes and Jenny showed up (by the way, John’s blog “dispatches from Revland” is to make the cool table legitimately labelled, and soon Scott Glancy snaked over, scraping along a miniature-size picnic table for a chair. Oh how I wished I hadn’t left my jacket in Canada, but we got the keys off of Warren and I found an extra shirt. Brian, Andrew & others talked Warren & I into performing some ‘unplugged’ Thickets. The first snag was that nobody had a pick for the guitar that somebody brought, so Warren ended up using Brian’s tie clip. The second snag was that halfway through the second song (The Innsmouth Look) the staff asked us to cut it out! The waitress said it was because the people next door complain (this was out on the back patio) but I think it was just because she didn’t like good old Cthulhu Rock.

The company was good but both Marlo and I were a bit burned out and we just wanted to go somewhere quiet and bed-like (possibly bed) but as both our hosts (Andrew and Linda) and our transportation (Warren) stayed later than almost anyone else, our schedule was a chattel to the ringleader of partydom. How ironic then that when we finally got to Andrew’s house the partying began in earnest! We partied as we blew up air mattresses, pushed couches together to make a nutty kookoo super couch, and brushed our teeth. Marlo and I ended up sleeping alone in the basement on a Jenga-puzzle of a couch set that was as wide in the middle as one of those stools that goes with the set, but it turned out fine and it was in fact only marginally narrower than Marlo’s bed at home. It was just hard to get in and out of in the dark. This was complicated by us hearing a strange sound shortly after we went to bed. It sounded like a dull moan, or whiney alarm from an expiring washer/dryer. It lasted only for a second, and then silence, but it sounded ominously close. We weren’t too concerned about it until it happened again, a minute or two later. Then again, and again. We decided it was a cow mooing, and we started stumbling around, looking for light switches and combing the room for the source. Since there was at least a good minute inbetween moos, this became frustratingly difficult. I found some kind of electronic dinosaur push-button learning interface, and looked for a power button. Of course dinosaurs don’t moo, traditionally, but it was all that I had at the moment. I pushed the power button, and new noises filled the room. While I was doing that, Marlo found the farmyard set that was in fact the source of the sound, but there didn’t seem to be any power button – just an array of things to touch. She touched. More noises. A cacophony of oinking, clucking, neighing and some awful midi song no doubt carried up the stairs along with our frantic giggling (caused by imagining what we would look like if somebody came down the stair fumbling around with these preschool toys in our underwear). I turned the whole playset over only to find that you need a screwdriver to take the batteries out. So I was scrounging around for something to unscrew the battery cover or, alternately, something big enough to smash the whole thing, Marlo figured out that the moo was triggered by the barn door being opened, so we just made sure it was properly shut and prayed that it would stop. It did.

In the morning (this is Sunday now), after some new and exciting American sugary cereals (which Andrew & Linda always buy especially for me, and I love them for it!) Warren, Sylvia and I went downtown to explore Powell Books. There were some good art books there that I couldn’t afford, but now I know they exist so I can keep them ‘on file.’ I did buy the first book in the Black Company series, so that was good. It was seemingly the last copy they had. We spent over two hours there and ran in to just about everyone we met the night before – John & Jenny, Aaron & Kirsten, Donovan and his wife whose name I forget. Funny how a bunch of Lovecraft nerds flock to a big bookstore. Apres that Marlo & I separated from Warren et al, and just started browsing downtown. First we went in circles looking for somewhere to eat before finally coming across a Mexican place. US restaurants give you a lot of food. And that’s good, because am I ever hungry! I had the nachos, and the nachos had me. Then we just wandered around till our feet hurt badly, popping in and out of stores and sitting in parks watching the yellow leaves fall from the trees. I don’t know about you, but I get a little nervous about public transit in unfamiliar cities. There are just so many unknowns, it stresses me out. So I was constantly looking at bus stops and asking people and consulting maps and finding exact change — and making sure Marlo was well apprised of my anal bus-tracking ways — just to figure out a simple route back to the cinema. Turns out it was pretty straight-forward, and we ended up arriving with the perfect amount of timelyness back to the cinema, but it was all thanks to me. ME, I TELL YOU! That night we watched more movies, and we got a ride back to Andrew’s with Aaron & Kirsten. Oh, and by the way, if you live in the US and you’re hounded by canvassers on the street, just say you’re from Canada and they’ll immediately lose interest in trying to get your signature or whathaveyou. But don’t not register to vote. Unless you’re voting for Bush. Anyway…

Sunday was the traditional HPLFF brunch, which is always the highlight for me. This year not only were delectibles supplied by Linda and experienced short order cook Warren Banks, but Andrew had a catering company supplement the home cooked buffet. It was amazing, with lots of fresh pineapple, plus we got to hear the annual “night before christmas’-like telling of the legendary Pagan Publishing severed dog’s head story courtesy of Scott, watched various guests do their impression of S.T. Joshi, and chatted with Lee Moyer about the art of Henry Clews, communism, and being a gaming illustrator. People started heading back to the theater for the matinees, so we hugged everyone goodbye and headed north. On the way back we stopped in at another Mexican place and had some really tasty burritos. The trip back took just under 5 hours and when we got to Abbotsford, Sylvia was nice enough to give me and Marlo a ride back to Vancouver – it was even on her way. We listened to the Eagles of Death Metal that I purchased in Portland for about $11 Cdn and it was very satisfying. Now I can give the burned copy that Sid made me to my brother or Garett & Lea, because I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.

I put my pants on one leg at a time, just like you. The only difference is, once my pants are on I make gold records.

At C&K’s wedding reception some guy came up to me at our table and asked if I was Toren Atkinson. I gave confirmation. Then he didn’t say anything so I asked him why he asked, expecting that maybe he wanted to ask me a question or a favour or something, but his response was only that he had heard “so much” about me – that I was (I’m trying to remember his exact words but I can’t) a famous gamer (or maybe artist?) and a rock star and stuff. That made me feel awkward and I didn’t know what to say, so I tried to divert the attention to somebody else (in this case, Stewie, who was seated beside me). I don’t know why that sort of thing bothers me so much. I mean, I am proud of some of the accomplishments in my life, but being singled out and put on a pedestal makes me feel uncomfortable. Maybe it’s the fact that this guy doesn’t really know me. I’m betting he doesn’t even know if I’m a good artist or a good musician, and he certainly doesn’t know about all the uncool, jerky stuff that I’ve done to balance out the cool stuff. Maybe it’s the fact that all the other people at the table were just as cool as me and I felt like I was hogging all of the spotlight. I mean it’s not like I’ve singlehandedly saved the panda bears or brought the country out of a recession. Maybe it’s that I’m too much like Marge’s art teacher – “I don’t take praise very well!”

Five Things You Probably Know About Me Because I Forgot I Already Posted Them

Five things you may not know about my time in school.

1. In elementary school I spent a great deal of time in the corner facing away from the classroom, or in the hall, or at the principal’s office. I guess I had cried wolf so many times that Mrs. Douthwaite (we called her Mrs. Deadweight) didn’t believe me when I said I was legitimately feeling sick. I had Kraft Dinner and grape drink for lunch at my friend Ian’s house that day, and it was not sitting well. When I asked to be excused I was refused. Excusal refusal. So I just sat at my desk and felt really sick. The girl in front of me turned around and saw my face, which was clearly death-on-a-pale-horse-white, and alerted Mrs. Douthwaite that I looked legitimately sick. At that point she excused me, but it was just a little too late. I got to the door and opened it, and there, coming out of her classroom across the hall was Mrs. Dare, my kindly first grade teacher. She said “hello Tory” and my response was to puke up the purple mass of half-digested KD.

2. I took two and a half years of post-secondary education. At UCFV they had this two year art program, but they screwed up the scheduling so it was actually impossible to complete the program in two years because they had scheduled two of the requisite classes AT THE SAME TIME. I already thought that school was a sham and I was really just going through the motions anyway, so when it became clear that they had fallen through on their end of the agreement as I saw it, I became completely disillusioned with the education system and never went back to finish my last course and get my certificate (for all the good it would have done me ). The only other courses I ever took was a course in creative writing and a course in cartoon voiceover.

3. I was and am kind of dysfunctional when it comes to ‘real life’ paperwork (taxes, applications, etc) so I never really applied for any scholarships or bursaries, even though I probably would have received something. It seemed like a lot of form-filling for what equated in my mind to be the lottery. Likewise I never applied for any student loan, and I have never in my life been in debt nor do I want to be, so I never considered spending any real time at any real school, tuition being as financially prohibitive as it is. I don’t think my parents had any money set aside for my schooling, and/or they thought it would be a good exercise in independence if I did it myself. If so, that backfired nicely. Furthermore, it’s been explained to me time and again what the difference is between undergrad, BA, PhD and all that other stuff is, but to this day I haven’t been able to wrap my mind around it. I think everyone should have a mentor and he or she should decide when the student is “graduated.”

Oh. That’s only three. Oh well.

You're my friend, right George?

When I was in high school I was picked on quite a bit. Stop me if you’ve heard this one. There were usually three or so ‘regular’ bullies who did not-so-nice things to me. That line from Big Robot Dinosaur “hit in the head with a half-eaten orange” is based on true events. I don’t remember the names of all of the bullies but I do remember Ernie. How pathetic is it that I was on the bullied side of a pair with an Ernie in it? The answer is: pretty. Years later, I bumped into him at a party. This was in the heyday of the Thickets and I don’t really know what his deal was but I got the impression that he thought I was now ‘cool’ and so he came up to talk to me. He said something to the effect of “hey you remember me?” to which I replied “Yes. I remember you used to throw rocks at me while I waited for the bus after school.” Now the best part of this very short conversation was what he said next “No, that wasn’t me, man.” Needless to say I brushed him off, and that was satisfying to me, if petty.

There was another guy who used to shove me around in the halls because well…I don’t know. Because he could. Because his mean old man burned cigars into his forehead. Because I never made any attempt to stop him from doing it. Except for one time when he was leaning on a locker with his buddy and as I walked by he stuck his foot out to trip me. I saw it coming from a mile away (that’s a dog mile, mind) but instead of just walking over top I hooked his foot with mine and pulled. He fell on his ass. I smirked to myself and kept walking without a word or a look. I heard him get up behind me and start running toward me. Now let me tell you about a little schoolyard judo I learned back in elementary school (where I was quite the hellraiser and was chased around quite a bit – and rightly so): if someone is chasing you, all you have to is drop down and curl into a little ball just before they reach you and they will likely trip over you. As I heard this bully (let’s call him Pattie because I can) coming up behind me I thought wouldn’t that just be the icing on the cake to do that, but I decided to err on the side of caution and just let him get his shove in so the whole incident would be over and done with and I could get to fourth period Socials or whereever the hell I was going. I was not into confrontation. I would never defend/stick up for myself against bullies in high school. I called it pacifism. I guess I kind of learned that from my dad – not because he was a pacifist, but rather because even if I was right and he was wrong, I simply could not win an argument with him, so there was no point in trying. Just take your lumps and get on with whatever you were getting on to. I think that coupled with my burgeoning hippie philosophies made me an easily and readily available target for bullies in high school. Luckily, Chris Woods didn’t have the same restraint. One day he was with me when Pattie struck, and as I recall Chris grabbed Pattie and slammed him against a locker and said something to the effect of “if you touch him again I’ll kick your ass.” I don’t remember the exact words. But Pattie never bothered me again and so Chris became my hero. He remains my hero to this day, but more so now because of his strong and public advocacy for furry porn. Shine on, you crazy diamond.

Hey! You have won a gazillion dollars, and you have 48 hours to live

I’ve been looking for a serious relationship ever since Tinessa cut me loose in August 2002. I’ve been signed up to a myriad of online dating services and very occasionally I have gone on dates with various gals therefrom. Recently I met Andria on Lavalife and she and I had gone on three dates. Each was full of stimulating conversation, yuks, and interesting activities. Always I enjoyed her company and looked forward to the next time, but I was getting (and giving) more “friend” chemistry than “relationship” chemistry. Replace chemistry with vibes, if you prefer. Before yesterday I hadn’t seen her since Wednesday of last week, what with all the work I’ve been trying to catch up on. We had a date scheduled for yesterday. We were going to go to the beach in Surrey (where she lives) and check out the wildlife.

When Marlo told me on Monday that she had feelings for me beyond friendship, my world went topsy turvy. I don’t even remember when I met her, it was so long ago now. I guess it would be 97 or 98. We chatted online and she seemed really cool to me. Also, sexy. Despite a bit of a crush, I didn’t have ambitions to get in her pants (well – beyond the ambitions I have to get in ANYONE’S pants) I just thought she would make a good friend. As practically everyone knows she is one of my bestest friends, and though she is just as sexy as the day I met her, over time the crush took a far back seat to all the other things that she gives me on a daily basis. Anyway, as I was saying, when she told me she had feelings for me, I told her I would have to think about it. I knew that this would make my life a lot more complicated (and it already has). I knew that other dear friends would be affected. I had to consider the fact that the words “I just want to be single” came out of her mouth and blog more times than I can count over the past several months. I wondered if I went into this and it didn’t work out, would we still be friends?

On the other hand, like I say, I’ve been looking for a relationship for years now. In order to work, my relationship would have to have compatibility, passion, love, trust – all that shit. The same shit that anyone asks for in a relationship. I already love Marlo. It’s stupid how compatible we are. The trust and passion columns get big checkmarks. While I was turning all the data over in my calculator, the Great Gazoo appeared and said “Are you nuts? If you turn Marlo down it may very well become the biggest regret of your life, Dum Dum” and the Great Gazoo is wise and a cartoon, so I readied myself and asked her if she was sure about this. Then I asked her again if she was REALLY sure about this.

The bad news is that at best I feel that I have splintered my group of friends into factions, and that sucks. I don’t like drama, and I don’t really know how to deal with it or minimize it. I feel like no matter what I do (who should I tell first and second and third? Shouldn’t I do it in person? But if I wait until I see someone in person chances are they will have already heard from someone else, and will they resent that? etc etc) will be the wrong thing. I guess the best I can do is continue to go with my instincts, which are notoriously bad but since I have yet to find the Official Guide they will have to do. I love my friends and I want them to be happy, and it disturbs me greatly that there is this friction over the issue(s). I hope that over time things will settle down and return to normal because I don’t plan on hiding or downplaying the good things I have and hope to have with Marlo.


I was saving this post until I had talked to James. I wanted to talk to him in person about the situation but, not surprisingly I suppose, I waited too long. I just talked to James on the phone. It seems we won’t be friends anymore and that makes me profoundly sad. I can understand how and why he would be upset. I guess we had as good a conversation as was possible, but I am going to miss him. I guess you can add “at worst I’ve lost at least one good friend” to the above bad news. Maybe the both of us (Marlo & I) have made some bad decisions. I hope that we have not. I guess time will tell.

My memory is selective

Last night over dinner it came up how Angie’s sister Pam was my first girlfriend and Marlo was interested to learn about that. As it turns out, I learned quite a bit about it too, and Angie learned some as well. I won’t go into specifics but Ang and I had never traded details, so Marlo & Chris & Stewie got to hear Pam’s side (via Angie) and my side (via me). It wasn’t like a big argument or anything even remotely dramatic, but to me it was just interesting to hear a different perspective after all these years. On top of that Angie reminisced about how one time Warren and I were making fun of Pam behind her back and it made Angie cry. That’s sad and I don’t remember it. It’s true what you’ve heard – 19-year-old Toren can be a prick. Anyway now Pam is married and has a baby and I rarely see her and when I do we don’t really exchange words because we don’t really have anything in common besides our past. And that suits both of us, I reckon. I get to hear about her when Chris gets roped into this or that in-law family obligation and that is no less than I require to go about my life.

Worst Karaoke Awards

And the Gold Kara-NOT-Okay Award goes to Elliot, the guy who “sang” Joe Cocker’s “I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends” with his back to the audience. Silver goes to the crotch-grabbing “Dork” hatted fellow whose “Bohemian Rhapsody” made me wish my water was antifreeze.

Yes, for Marlo’s birthday party the whole gang gathered at The Dufferin for some good new-fashioned karaoke. You’ll read the blogs of Janet, Yvonne and Marlo to learn more, but on my end I’ll mention that I sang “Fernando” with Angie, and “I Ran So Far Away” by Flock of Seagulls and “Daniel” by special request of Marlo. (Also there was delicious cake courtesy Janet & Yvonne, and delicious Denny’s courtesy of Sid ‘n’ Ang)

Next time I have my eye on some Monkees. Everyone (not everyone, but you know) does Frank Sinatra – and I might too. Maybe somebody (Marlo? Sid?) could make me a Sinatra CD? Also, I’ve got to find out who does “I learned the truth at 17 that love was made for beauty queens….”

Bats are good luck

I went on a date today, and it wasssssssssssssssssssss…

…good! In fact, we met for bubble tea and then ended up going to the Dr Sun Yat Sen Gardens and then wandered around and then had dinner.

Fear of God/Dad

Written sometime after 1996 in a very small book (transcribed here in 2020):

I remember once when I was very young I was throwing rocks – not just rocks but big fist-sized (mind you my fist be be half the size it is now) stones and maybe jokingly, but I hit a kid – a kid I knew from my neighborhood and he was really hurt, bent over crying hurt. And I felt huge pangs of guilt but even more so fear. Fear for myself and the repercussions of my actions. If my dad beat me up for not washing the dishes, for saying “what” too many times – what could I expect for braining someone? I ran home and I don’t know that I’ve ever believed in God more that day, or at least wanted to believe in some all poerful force that would save me from pain if only I would beg it from Him and make empty promises. But even then I knew it wasn’t enough and so – and I have no idea if this was courage or cowardice – I went to the kids parents and at first they were livid with me but they could see the regret or at the very least fear in my eyes and I begged and pleaded with them not to tell my parents through fountains of heaving sobs – quite real I assure you.

Sometimes you cry so much your glands hurt – your ducts get raw and bitter. This hasn’t happened for a while but I remember the feeling.


Tonight I went swimming at a pool near Marlo’s house – with Marlo. It was a new experience for both of us. It’s $4.40 between 7 and 9. Adult swim in Coquitlam was $2 but it cost me $2 to get out there so it’s only forty cents more. Trouble was it was pretty crowded – and at 8pm we got kicked out of our side pool to make room for the lousy aquafitters. The instructor’s voice was incredibly shrill and when Marlo and I were discussing the idea of signing up to audit the course (for shits and giggles) I thought that would be the biggest hurdle. It was fun to watch her dancing around like an idiot though. We kept bumping into and kicking other people, it was so crowded. Once my hand came up out of the water and hit the hand of a girl in the other lane coming from the opposite direction. I thought it was romantic, but Marlo compared it more to a high-five. There was a whirlpool room but it was closed off with a sign that read – DANGER – CLOSED FOR SUPERCHLORINATION.

Afterwards we went to get something to eat at a sushi place on main and for 4 bucks I had the yummiest sushi I’ve ever had. It was yam with a bit of cream cheese on top and the whole 8 pieces were covered in crispy potatoe shavings – like a bird’s nest. With the wasabi I could hardly taste the seaweed. Cheap and delicious. Then I biked home – and here I am! I have another story to tell you but it will have to wait until Chris takes a digital pic.