Clothing makes the manatee.

Over recent months I’ve been making an attempt to dress better. Nothing gratuitous, just learning what to wear and how to wear it, shaking up the wardrobe one pair of cargo pants at a time. I’ve learned about buying clothes that fit, working around the various oblongs and right-angles that my body is composed of. I’ve found some stuff that’s slimming and other stuff that just generally looks nicer. I’ve purchased v-necks, long sleeved shirts, sweatshirts, jeans and dress shoes. Slowly but surely I’ve been getting to a level where I no longer seem disheveled and unkempt. Instead I appear to sort of know what I’m doing.

In the past 2 weeks, all of my hard work has been flushed away.

In Melbourne I got utterly dumped on, which put paid to my new suede shoes. As such I’ve retired them from active service, reverting to the homely trailer-trash sneakers I picked up from Walmart. They’re black all over with thick dense soles, needless flimsy stitching and they’re goofily wide. They’re also incredibly comfortable. I forgot what it was like to walk with shoes that actually gave support. While my Hush Puppies had a cool name and a chilled air to match, walking in them for long distances did nothing for my flat, arch-less feet. I’d actually had to factor in at least 2 extra minutes getting ready, ’cause even with a shoe horn the length of my forearm, slipping into them required focus and discipline. I’ve heard it said that women will often base much of a man’s attractiveness on his taste in shoes. I’m sure my current derelict footwear would be a deal-breaker for most style-minded females. Consider this my current vow of celibacy. It’s not like I’ve got time to meet anyone before I leave, might as well make the most of it.

With the collapse of my shoes the first arrow has been fired in a war against presentation. The slovenly hordes are running amok through my wardrobe and desecrating corpses in their wake. I’m rocking comfy ill-fitting jeans, visible thermals underneath graphic tees underneath oversized hoodies, all tied up with a thick woolen scarf. It’s like I’ve regressed 5 years in 2 weeks. The worst part is I totally love it. Through my brief affair with style I forgot my abiding weakness for cosiness. I’m like a junky who’s taken his first hit after a lengthy departure. The other day I even wore sports shoes with white socks underneath jeans. I regret nothing. I’ve gotta take some care not to recede to a smeagol state, hunched in front of the computer sporting neckbeard and mullet. It’s a slippery slope and I know which way I’m sliding.

It’s currently a challenge to stay garbed in civvies under the seductive influence of the domestic sphere. As soon as I walk through the door I feel a magnetic pulse from my pyjamas, slippers and dressing gown that’s irresistibly strong. It’s rare to find my gown on the rack past 8pm. If company shows up, well we’ve practically got a slumber party going on. If I’ve got no reason to leave or more than 30 minutes before I’m gone, the clothes are off and the slumberwear is equipped (+1 to snuggly). If he’s left his own devices, the wild Leon can be seen roaming the kitchen at 3pm, still clothed in stripey blue PJs, grazing on errant nuts, fruits and vegetables. It’s like I’ve hibernated and hunkered down in a metaphorical foetal position. My polarwear is like fuzzy armour staving off the ravages of the arctic. Am I lacking in style? Definitely, but it seems like I’ve reverted to a defensive state to ward against the winter chill. It’s like Arnie said in the 1997 classic Batman and Robin “There is only one absolute everything. Freezes.” He’s not sending me to the cooler.

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A rested development.

Good news everyone! I’ve added categories to my posts. Huzzah! Odd, muscle memory made me try to chuck a full stop after that exclamation. Bad, tired, overworked muscle memory. It, along with my body, needs a rest. The last few nights we’ve been doing 5 episodes of new Arrested Development a night, which means after the gym, showering, dinner and watching it’s getting past 11pm. As discussed yesterday, I’m rapidly ageing and getting a proper night’s sleep is becoming more of a priority. My average at the moment hovers around 6-7 per night. I’d love to keep it locked into a nice 90 minute circadian rhythm but that’s proving kind of elusive. With a waking time of 6.20am I hate the idea that if I miss trying to crash at 10.36pm (it takes on average about 14 minutes to get to sleep for most people) I have to wait until 12.06am. So most of the time I crash somewhere in between and as a result wake up haggard most mornings.

Coupling my odd sleep cycles and my current quest to give up caffeine (after so recently picking it up) mean that my head’s all out of sorts lately. I’ve taken to chewing gum at work to stay focused and, more importantly, awake. It’s a trick I learned during my frequent night/morning commutes between Auckland and Rotorua. Often if a band was doing a gig up in Auckland I’d just drive up for the night, go to the gig, crash at someone’s place for about 4 hours, then drive back early morning for a day at work. When you’re tired it’s all about keeping yourself active. After more trips spent singing to keep myself conscious than it should’ve taken, I discovered the virtues of chewing gum.

As a teen mornings were tough. My tricks were either vaulting out of bed or flexing fingers and toes. I started going to the gym with my mum at 14 at least 3 times a week, getting up around 5.30am. So if I threw myself overboard and onto my feet, I had no choice but to sink or swim (which in this case translates to collapse or walk). Flexing the fingers and toes is a less extreme, more gradual answer and helps stave off being too heavy lidded after turning an alarm off. Discovered after too many times looking at my clock and shutting my eyes for a second, only to open them to a time 15 minutes later. I find the constant muscle movement switches on the brain (which immediately questions the sanity in leaving your cocoon of dreaming) and keeps you awake enough to get thee to a shower.

Now waking up is easy. Getting to sleep is tough. I’ve always had a problem telling my brain to use its inside voice. I turn the lights off, shut my eyes and suddenly with less strain on my senses, my mind kicks in to Bachman Turner Overdrive. It’s always the best ideas that come when you’re supposed to be powering down, right? That and when you’re offloading. Fortunately when you’re logging out you’ve at least got a cellphone handy. Using a phone on the toilet has to be one of the biggest threats to productivity facing our society at the moment, right? You’re reading a book or surfing the web while you’re dropping off your cargo. Amusingly with smartphones now you’re probably fully capable of doing your business while you’re doing your business. What an age we live in. I think the concept of being able to play Pokémon while otherwise occupied sold me on smartphones.

It’s insane how often you see people utterly absorbed in their handset. I feel like the outcast reading a real book on a bus now. Most everyone else has their Galaxy or iPhone out, white headphones plugged in, leveling up their crushing their candy or angering their birds. I actually use mine a lot for Note Anything. Totally innocuous note taking app that’s probably my numero uno. I’ve written most of my comedy material while on the way to work and even a couple of these entries. I still can’t text half as fast as I type, but eventually muscle memory will take over and I’ll be like a surgeon on Swype.  That poor overworked muscle memory. Oh, I was gonna talk about the categories feature I’ve finally implemented, but it kind of got away from me. Guess I’ll file this one under Stream of Consciousness.

The only magnetic power I have is my personality. At this moment it’s set to repel.

One thing I’m learning through my rapid cellular degeneration is to appreciate what my body can do rather than what it can’t. Okay, so I’m not ageing dramatically or anything, but I’ve certainly noticed how my limbs don’t bounce back in such a flubberish fashion anymore. A while back I did in a ligament in my knee and slowly nursed it back to health (I’m making myself sound a helluva lot more caring and matronly than I am) over a few months. I’m not saying I was a wild teen in any fashion (except for the occasional pungent jungle aroma. Thanks puberty!), but I’d generally give a certain disregard for my body and how it dealt with most anything. Back in those hallowed years I could take a beating and come out swinging in a metaphorical sense (I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a fist-fight). These days my body is less Wolverine and more Charles Xavier, but without the fancy unexplained yellow hovercraft thing. I guess we presumed that in a world populated by beings with uncanny genetic powers, amazing alien races and astonishing technology, The Professor’s proxy wheelchair begged no explanation.

I think almost every type of loophole in that series could be explained by either aliens or mutant powers. Slightly lazy I guess, but hey, I haven’t written a comic series spanning multiple decades. Everything was a Shi’ar this or a Magneto that. It’d be pretty handy to have that kind of catch-all on my side. It’s funny, but I’m sitting here trying to think of a throwaway flippant comment using these lazy plot devices and I’m totally stuck. Ironically, ain’t it? It’s like having ten thousand spoons and being entirely at the whim of Magneto. Dumb, just dumb. It’d almost be worth having powers of magnetism right now to entirely erase everything on this page and computer so far. A messier and far more frustrating method than using the backspace key, really. It’s insane the inconvenience that altering magnetic fields could place on modern life. Unwittingly destroying any kind of computerised device. You couldn’t keep a smartphone, EFTPOS or credit cards would become useless plastic, you’d probably be incapable of conducting any kind of transaction at a retail store without crashing their systems. Your potential for unintentional douchebaggery would be off the charts.

I was about to ponder if you’d be able to propel yourself in a car without using the engine before realising Magneto can fly anyway. One point in your favour I guess. Though considerably less useful in winter. You can command magnetic fields, but that wouldn’t keep you warm in spandex and a cape, would it? At least he’s wearing a helmet for safety’s sake. Surely that’s a barely touched on concern in comic books. Winter would be way too harsh for so many, outside of those with heat oriented powers. I know there are a few Canadian super heroes, but do Alpha Flight parade around in fleeced jeans? Does everyone just start packing merino for the colder months? Villains too, since their attire is barely different from their opposition. Perhaps there’s a downwards trend of crime over the chillier season. Does Dr Doom curl up in his Latvian mansion with a teddy and a cup of hot chocolate to churn through his TiVo’d seasons of The Bachelor? I wouldn’t blame him. I’m sure after a multitude of beatings and defeats at the hands of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes he’s learned to nurse his wounds and take time when he needs it. I’m smart enough to know when to hold ’em, despite my ineptitude at poker. Ol’ Victor von Doom is a brilliant scientist (and son of gypsies apparently?), he’d know when to take a knee.

Anyone want to re-watch Mulan?

I’ve got “I wanna be like you” from Disney’s The Jungle Book stuck in my head. On one hand it’s fun to have the jaunty tune on rotation in my brain, lighting up all the nostalgic pleasure centres and generally uplifting my mood. On the other hand I can’t get the thought of its possibly unintentional implied racism from seeping through. I mean, King Louie is obviously intended to be black in classical Disney racist style, right? He’s smooth, talks jive and sings scat. He also has a deep desire to “walk like you” in reference to Mowgli. The thought of personifying a simian as a black dude coveting Mowgli’s human status can’t be ignored, right? He’s just a hop away from the cultural connotations of the hyenas in Lion King. Or am I just projecting my inner racist? It’s not something I’ve really had a lot of experience with, to be honest. It’s odd, but I’ve ended up with a reasonably whitewashed circle of friends. Not through any manner of preference or anything, but it just so happens that the core of my friend group all happen to be Caucasians of differing descent.

Weird. It’s not something I’ve really taken much stock of til’ now. Back through school I had a ton of friends from a multitude of cultural backgrounds and now that seems to have dissipated. I mean, I practically spent my teen years half-living with Chung’s family, though I don’t see him nearly as much as I’d like to. You’d think in Rotorua with a much larger Maori population I would’ve made a couple of friends with at least some interesting cultural heritage. Then again I would’ve had to make some friends in Vegas full-stop for that to be relevant. It’s funny, but the more I talk about it the more racist I feel. Is that typical white guilt? It’s not like I’ve got preconceived biases, but my social circles seem to have culturally thinned out over the years. It’s peculiar where the mind goes between thoughts. I’m now wondering whether I should’ve been going out to try and meet people of different ethnicities? But that smacks of tokenism and seems racist in itself. I mean, you meet the people you meet, I guess. It’s a little sad that I don’t have widened cultural interactions, but I guess most of the jobs I’ve been in over the past couple of years have been pretty solitary.

Any of my production engineer stuff really only led me to work with the creatives, at Sky TV I was primarily working on my own and at the Chapman Archive I’ve definitely kept to myself. I’ve got the thought stuck in my mind now that I’ve somehow stuffed up by not meeting more people, which is simultaneously being appeased by the Will Hunting-esque “it’s not your fault” mantra from my other hemisphere. Maybe? I’m not too sure how hemispheres communicate, if they do or how a brain holds conversations within itself. I’m guessing there are a fuckton of concurrent discussions happening at every moment up in there, but you only hear the ones you pay attention to. I can barely hear them over The Jungle Book soundtrack on repeat.

Too bad it’s not Mulan‘s “I’ll make a man out of you”, easily the best Disney song out there. Higher tier than “A Whole New World” even, no joke. There’s something about Mulan‘s best montage song that gets you really fired up. I can see myself using it as some would Trappt‘s “Headstrong”, before an important performance, job interview or promising date. Maybe once Google Glasses reach their next step as some kind of contacts based ocular computer I’ll be able to wire my favourite Mulan track straight to my brain while I’m waiting. They’ll never see me coming, so full of bravado that my handshake would crush mountains. My beaming self-assured smile would melt the polar ice caps and my positive aura would be visible from space. Like Boris from Goldeneye, I would be invincible (but hopefully attract a more sustainable (but less lucrative) fate). Oh Mulan, how “I wanna be like you”.

I hear the jury’s still out on science.

An unfamiliar feeling gripped me today as I was revisited by an old friend. As I poured over the upcoming shows on EZTV I noted the presence of Arrested Development amongst contemporaries such as Mad Men, The Borgias and… Marvel Avengers Assemble? I’ve been getting steadily more excited as the launch date draws closer. Yesterday a rainy gale drained any desire to leave the house, so we started re-watching some of The Bluths’ misadventures. Some 18 of them. I’d forgotten how absurdly layered and dense the series was/is. Jokes that run over multiple seasons, recursive elements or foreshadowing planted deep within the first season that only reveal themselves halfway through the second. A constant barrage of references and throwbacks, clever throwaway lines and well stacked “bits” cement it as my favourite comedy bar none. Even my deep, well documented love of Community (another show that lasted 3 seasons) doesn’t come close to the respect and admiration I have for the AD writing staff.

Those reassuring elements resurface constantly. We know that the Bluths will never play against their true nature. Michael always wants to be seen as a good guy, Lindsay only wants what she can’t have, Gob’s desire to be loved and appreciated overrides almost everything, Buster craves safety in all forms. It goes on. The show stands up to repeat viewing ridiculously well, with so much hidden under different layers and new things popping out each time you watch. Also knowing the comedy and TV landscape so much better it’s refreshing seeing characters from across the spectrum. Amy Poehler, James Lipton, Phyllis Smith, Craig Robinson, Dave Attell, Jack McBrayer and so many others appear in bit parts throughout the series. The quality of the central cast and their relationships really shines through as well. Any interaction between Gob and Buster, George-Michael and Maeby or Tobias and anyone is usually enough to leave me guffawing like a donkey. Is that what donkeys do? Or do they bray? I’m thinking more the latter. Regardless, this series is astounding.

It’ll be interesting seeing how this Netflicks arrangement and the concept of releasing everything to the market immediately works out. Consumption habits have definitely changed for most and it seems archaic to be tied to traditional network television models of weekly scheduling. Hopefully this deal is successful enough that it ushers in a new release method from the studios. It’s always nice to see some form of progress. A mass dump of the rest of Breaking Bad perhaps? The internet is proving to be quite the bolstering force for critical darlings and commercial flops to get a resurgence of support. Arrested Development is just one. New Firefly? More Party Down? Maybe we’ll even get a season 4 of Community? Thing is, times pass and most of the actors from unsuccessful or prematurely cancelled shows tend to move on to bigger things. Certainly the case with both Firefly and Party Down. Exceptionally talented casts in well constructed shows, but you’ve seen the actors scattered all over the place. Martin Starr certainly gets around and Jane Lynch shot up to a level of exposure becoming an icon befitting the outstanding comedic actress that she is. Too bad Glee blows chunks, or in reality is just targeted at a demographic I don’t find myself within.

Still, excitement builds as I pour over the remaining episodes to revisit. I really hope the writing stays consistent, that Mitch Hurwitz is still “on” and that the series moves on to new territory without spending all of its time pandering to old fans. I get the feeling that if Community got a 4th season without Harmon at the helm, we’d be seeing a bit of the latter. Good thing they cut it before it started rotting I guess. One More Day.

I’ve never known my dad to have driven a jeep.

Weird, weird dream last night. One of those dreams that eschews a proper narrative in favour of disconnected ideas and confusing themes. I wasn’t really able to make much sense of it, but perhaps others would do better with it. It began in the aftermath of some unexplained catastrophic event. No idea what it was, but all I know is that the world of the dream resided in a post-apocalyptic society. I decided that my best course of action was to make my way to my parents’ batch in Ohakune. I wandered on foot for what seemed an inexplicably short time for such a large journey and found myself laden with bags, knocking at the door. It was answered by a woman who held a strange fascination for me, as if we’d known each other intimately before, but I had no idea when or where. I got the feeling like she was an amalgamation of many other women in my life and probably representative of something far larger than herself (outside the dream that is. In my sleeping state she seemed legit, but familiar). We made ourselves comfortable and cranked up the fire, glad to have achieved temporary reprieve from the dire wasteland surrounding us. There was a mass of sexual tension between us, but I knew for some reason that I couldn’t act on it, that there was someone else embroiled up in this mash. Just then the door opened and my old friend Kobe Bryant walked in (it made sense at the time). This was ‘he’, the other guy involved in this bizarre triangle. I knew that she’d previously been with Kobe and that acting on impulses would seriously jeopardise our friendship.

Whatever had ravaged the land had warped the nature of night and day. Sunlight never made an appearance and the world was lit in blues and purples. Time went on and I grew closer and closer to this girl. Out of boredom we dropped some MDMA and things started to get weird. Colours expanded to reds, blues and yellows, all pulsing and changing erratically. A certain magnetism flared between us and intimacy seemed unavoidable. Yet again as things started to heat up, we were interrupted and Kobe was at the door. I had a flash that we’d been business partners somehow, like we’d worked together on something and I’d met this woman through him. I felt like I needed a tactic, some kind of diversion or distraction to get rid of him and back to her. I looked at him through what was suddenly a screen door and started yelling “WHAT’S UP WITH YOU MAN? WHY ARE YOU ACTING LIKE THIS? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DEAL WITH YOU RATIONALLY WHEN YOU KEEP LASHING OUT THIS WAY?” He looked at me, raised his hands in the international ‘woah, back off’ signal and said “I don’t need this shit, man.” He was gone, quest completed. With Kobe out of the way I stoked the fire that’d been burning between this mystery gal and I. Things got explicit and intense immediately. Colours pulsed rapidly in an uneven fashion and we built to climax.

No sooner had we finished than I heard a honk outside. My dad was in a jeep loaded up with fishing supplies and my old school chums. I ran out and joined them in a lush world of overly saturated greens and yellows. Nature had sprouted all around and we were flanked by verdant surrounds. “Just heading down to the old lake for some fun.” Dad explained. I jumped in and headed along, suddenly garbed in my togs. All my mates were at the lake having a picnic. We splashed and played, diving and cannonballing. Dad started really getting on my case for some reason, just being really hard-assed and patronising (actually totally out of character for Dad IRL) and I’d had enough. I snapped and told him to fuck off. I grabbed my pack and travelling cloak and headed off down the road in search of more promising scene. I cleared the foliage and found myself in a gleaming metallic metropolis. Skyscrapers dominated the horizon and the azure seas were littered with robotic leviathans. I dropped my gear and stared in wonder. Finally I’d arrived. This was where I was meant to be.

Decoding my subconscious, I can certainly see a few representations. I’m pretty sure I know the link between this girl, the guy (though Kobe? That’s out of left field) and I. Possibly even the connotations of her sudden disappearance from the narrative. Maybe the journey from wasteland through regrowth to civilization has emotional and literal ties to my impending voyage to Canada (famed for its leviathans? Maybe not). I’m going down to the batch with my siblings and parents next week, so that’s kind of literal, but the fight with my father and resulting indignant storming out? Seems pretty distant from any of my family relationships. Maybe I’ve got problems elsewhere that I’m imprinting on them somehow? Maybe this dream has much deeper levels that others could pick out? Or maybe I’m pulling meaning from short disconnected flashes, devoid of any basis in reality? Maybe I should just stop watching Adventure Time before bed.

I sound more drunk when I’m sober.

I have no idea where my head’s at tonight, which could prove troublesome. I’m at that stage where I might as well be asleep for all the rational thought consciousness is providing for me. The option’s there to just write this from bed, but I worry for a) my productivity (though in my current mental state there’s not likely to be a huge difference) and b) that I might just conk out mid-word. I’m sans alcohol at the moment, which seems to put me to a place I’m not comfortable with. In an odd kind of reflexive way, my discomfort in being sober around people who’re drinking is a bit of the impetus in refraining from imbibing. I bet I could’ve phrased that in any number of more concise ways. Essentially what it boils down to is that I get antsy about my inability to relax if I’m the sober one out. I feel on a different level socially, as if lacking in alcohol’s numbing lubricity makes me incapable of properly relating. Surely as someone who’s been sober more often in my life than not, this shouldn’t be a problem, right? I feel that merely the notion that this could at all be problematic highlights that it is.

One of my other concerns revolves around the amount that I can and do drink without severe consequences. I’m not the kind to attract hangovers for the most part, so I never really learn from my overindulgence. The lack of punishment creates its own issue. If I’m not severely dehydrated the next morning or suffering from splitting headaches, what else could the large quantity of booze be doing to my insides? I know I’m not nearly as bad as some people out there, but not being an alcoholic doesn’t therefore make my intake healthy. I’ve tried off and on to go cold turkey and I don’t really have a major problem committing, but I still find less enjoyment in social engagements, as if I put too much stock in the activity of drinking itself as part of relating to others. I undeniably enjoy myself more when to some extent I shut off higher brain function and notions of anxiety. Yet again, acknowledging this to be the case shows itself to be a concern. Why should I be dependent on a substance to be present with others? It’s not like I can’t relate to others without it, but I definitely feel less inclined to.

It’s not like I can’t be disciplined about it either, restricting myself to a certain quantity when I drink. I’ll tell myself not to drink over a certain amount, then I won’t. It’s just that I often do want to drink more and if I have an evening where I decide not to worry about it, I find myself going far over restrictions I’ve set for myself on previous engagements. Psychological addiction maybe? Or am I just ascribing the values of happiness and sociability to the substance, which subconsciously increases those qualities whenever I drink? I don’t want to just be making rules for myself every time I start on a bottle. Surely I should be perfectly capable of exercising restraint without forcing myself to? Except it doesn’t seem that I am.

So what am I achieving with this cycle of cold turkey/drink tank? I’m not getting any progress either way and the notion of controlling my drinking isn’t occurring organically. I don’t really know where to go from here. I guess the important thing to note is that I’m worried about an issue that doesn’t hold huge consequence at the moment. My drinking hasn’t hurt anyone as far as I know, my mental faculties don’t seem to be massively diminished and I’m still able to operate perfectly fine while I drink. My main issues tend to really revolve around its impact on having a healthy self-image. There’s the vanity side of things, as drinking leads to a shit-ton of calories, not only in the spirits/mixers themselves, but in everything I consume while drungry. I care about this more than I’d usually tend to admit, often finding that within a week I lose about a kg from diet and exercise, which I gain back over the weekend. Things are easy enough if I tie myself down to a strict regime, but as soon as one crack appears, the dam bursts and I find myself  drowning in a sea of overindulgence and regret. This leads to self-loathing, which leads to social isolation, which in itself leads to mental withdrawal and makes me feel severely less inclined to want to talk to people. Even putting the words to page makes me feel disappointed and draws me away from wanting to expose myself to social contact. To put it succinctly (for once) I feel bummed and it’s not even something I want to talk about (says the guy who’s just dropped 800 words on the subject).

I’m well aware of my issues with consumption and associated lack of discipline, but talking about it doesn’t seem to get anywhere. If anyone has a solution I’d be glad to hear it. Clearly the proper answer is “just don’t eat/drink so much” or “stop when you’re full” or “just eat healthier food” or “don’t care about it so much” (because this is just as much about food as it is about drink) or anything involving attaching self-worth to actions rather than weight or physical appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fishing for compliments here and anyone who just wants me to feel better about myself can, with all due respect and love, fuck right off. What this really boils down to is that, like every fortunate kid in the western world without real issues, I just want to have something to bitch about without really doing anything about it. Is that even right? I’m sounding increasingly contradictory the more I write. I’m probably just in a funk from post-holiday hangover and need to rest it off. I did say that my head was in a weird place tonight (more or less, read the first sentence), which may explain the rambling. I think it’s safe to say I’m far from done expressing this issue (and far from any kind of resolution, clearly), but consciousness has had about enough of me for tonight. I’ve had enough of it too.