It’s all about conviction. Or at least it was.

Covering Fan Expo would’ve been my dream as a teenager. Days spent getting up at 5.30am to be first in line for Auckland’s Armageddon Expo now seem a lifetime away. I still love the idea of conventions, but so many have become bloated, festering clusterfucks of commercial interest. That’s a bummer, something that’s meant to celebrate all of these wonderful things in your life that give you a sense of belonging, instead making you feel like just another consumer. So here’s the piece anyway:

http://www.liveinlimbo.com/2014/08/31/news/humans-of-fan-expo-2014.html

More like, Why Tang Clan.

Quiet night tonight. Well at least that was my mentality 2 beers ago. 9% beers they were and you wouldn’t believe the difference the extra 4% makes in terms of typos and bad decisions. My next bad decision is to go and grab another. So be back in a second.

Back. Wasn’t that exciting. I guess it would’ve been more exciting if you had a tad more context, but as it stands as far as you guys know I didn’t even leave. You’ve got no evidence of time passing whatsoever. I could’ve just pretended to be drinking a delicious La Fin du Monde, while all along I was maliciously deceiving you. How do we know time passed? Well I guess I know that time passed because I’m sitting here with a cool fresh beer and one new user following this writing project.

Can we just talk about this for a second? At this moment there are 274 people following my daily rantings and ramblings. It’s a microscopic amount in this online environment in which the term “viral” is thrown out by news outlets who so desperately need a new buzzword. Still, that’s 274 people. That’s at least 5 more people than 269. You guys could represent a significant demographic in a New Zealand Nielsen ratings sample size (and you’d all follow my viewing recommendations right? Right? What other purpose is there to being an overlord? If I have followers, doesn’t that mean I need to behave in cult leader behaviour or else I get my membership suspended?

Seriously though, why? I don’t really know how this system works too well. I’m not an aged crone (even though I’m suitably curmudgeonly), but I’m kind of shitty at social media. My editor asked me to get a twitter in order to promote things and it basically boils down to me saying “I did a thing. Here it is”. I’m not good at this social media thing guys. So how is it that I have followers? Why do I have followers? What does that even mean? Do you guys automatically get a link or pop-up whenever I submit a new post? Does the whole entry get sent to your email? Are there people who found one topic they engaged with or found me passing strange and decided to grant me a follow, then saw their feed inundated with daily writing? Was it a case of instaregret? Someone who happened to like some fitness post I did, then found themselves subject to a graphic depiction of me going down on a lovely gal in front of a room full of strangers. Really, I feel for you guys. I’m the weird one here. I’m the problem. You guys are innocent cherubim who didn’t know what you were getting into. Wait, another beer is required. Be back in precisely 41 seconds.

Damn. It took 45. I must be slipping in my old age (which is a line I stole from Mallrats. That means I stole an integral part of my dialogue from Kevin Smith. I’m super embarrassed here.). A few years earlier and I would’ve popped that top like a Pussycat Dolls style bottle rocket. Full disclosure, I know nothing about the lyrical content of the song Bottle Rocket. I’m not gonna Google it, but I assume it has something to do with a hand or blow job. Back to the topic (and this tangent may justify it), why the hell are you following me? I’m not a significant writer of any means (artistic or financial), I’ve got a disjointed, dense style and I make more puns than must be palatable. Why are you still following me? Some of you joined well over a year ago, what gives? I don’t know anything about you guys. All of my pleas for real human connection on here have fallen flat (possibly because I don’t play the game and rarely if ever comment on someone else’s stuff), but if there’s a reason any of you are legitimately interested in the random scrawl I put here tell me why. I have zero feedback here, which would be hella (thanks 2007’s Juno) lonely if not for my vast network of friends that I’m awful at keeping up communication with.

So if you actually read this post then try posting a comment as to why you’re still on board with this project. I don’t know if I’ve become predictable yet in my secretions, but being obvious is one of my greatest fears. Let me know if I’m a hack, I can take it.

I mean, people love Rocket Raccoon, right? They’d go ape over a kangaroo.

For some reason I was just thinking about how Marvel needed to reboot Brute Force. Seriously, how could that not translate to millions and millions of dollars flowing back into their already Scrooge McDuckian coffers? Brute Force, for the non initiated (most everyone, I think it was relatively obscure by the time my best friend and I discovered it as kids) was weird hybrid of Captain Planet and Dino-Riders. Cybernetically enhanced animal eco-warriors seeking to liberate the environment from the pillages of large multinational corporations. A lion, kangaroo, bear, eagle and dolphin all garbed in robot exoskeletons, equipped with an arsenal of weapons and intelligence enhancing technology. I know how kids operate (I was one), they’d lap that shit up. Just add a dubstep intro song and you’ve got yourself the newest range of action figures flying off the shelves for Christmas. Also a ton of old collector types would rush out to reclaim the nostalgic taste of their childhoods. A hit ABC Kids Saturday morning cartoon, video game and movie franchise. Just imagine Kangaroo Jack, C.S. Lewis’ AslanYogi Bear, Flipper and that eagle from The Hobbit all tanked up with lethal armaments with which to take down pollution. Doesn’t it sound equivalent to printing money? I guess someone out there agreed with me, ’cause I just discovered they’re bringing back the franchise in the newest Deadpool annual, co-written by US comedy mainstay Paul Scheer. Giving the people what they want.  By “the people” I mean me and only me. I love it.

Speaking of McDonalds slogans, I just turned on my old Galaxy S2 that I’m using for some Fan Expo coverage and holy shit. Waves of nostalgia and affection almost physically radiated through the screen. If you’ve ever been through a demanding emotional break up that just lingered as you guiltily checked out their Facebook page day after day to try and see how long it’d take before they finally announced their new partner online who your suspicious and calculating subconscious just knew was trying to carve a path towards your former partner while you were still together and looked with longing recalling the happy memories you had that suddenly epitomised the whole relationship ignoring the many problems that caused the schism in the first place but ultimately made you just want to jump back in time to that better place away from all the hardship, you might get an idea how I feel about this phone. It was my everything (and I’ve often gone on about it at length on here, despite the fact that it’s been about a year since I last used it) and I still feel like I’d be happy to wake up to its soothing default alarm every morning. It’s just a much faster unit than my current one and suits the hectic work environment I’ll find while cruising the convention for potential interviewees. It’s been sitting gathering dust, which I feel is a poor use of its still useable technical specs. At the very least I could use it without a sim card as a wireless remote for my computer. One that can also handily access the internet. I’m sure I could use it to automate any number of processes, but for Saturday at least it’s gonna record interviews and take notes like a champ. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of stuff comes out of the lips of geeks and hoping I can garner some choice quotes to use. I know anything I do for my Humans of Fan Expo article won’t hold a candle to the excellent Humans of New York, but with such an exemplary project, even its offcuts can still hold something substantive.

And if it doesn’t, I’ll just find a way to muscle in on a Marvel Brute Force relaunch to make my first million.

Especially gouda if you havartistic talents. If not, grin and camemberit.

Settling down to the keyboard, I’d completely forgotten what I did today. A quick 180 turn displayed a wooden cheese board, a cheese knife, an apron, some plain brown/black leather belts, glow in the dark spinning tops and a glittery blue bag. Maybe there’s an explanation for this somewhere deep down. Turning back 180 degrees I can see my media pass and the spare entry to the CNE they gave me by accident. That’s right he thinks. Today was a day. Yes it was, Leon. Yes it was.

A lack of sleep and availability of shitty coffee (the lack of sleep perhaps owing to the abundance of coffee yesterday. That and an annoying dream in which I slept through my alarm, which caused me to wake up IRL and check my phone. This made me conscious enough to not be able to rest once more) meant I was tired. Seeking to avoid the Canadian National Exhibition at all costs, not wanting to do a write up of a Mac & Cheese Cook-Off as a thinly veiled PR stunt to market Canadian cheese had me in a grumpy, bratty mood. I knew I was in a shitty mood, I knew I was acting incorrigibly immature yet I also knew I couldn’t be helped. I wanted a decent coffee (the instant cup I had at home notwithstanding), but didn’t have the time to grab one from The Commons, despite my proximity to it. I got sour. After my many loudmouth grumbles and a coffee so shit I threw it straight in the trash, my friend/photographer offered me a granola bar which turned my frown upside down for a little while.

Armed with a virulent cynicism and premeditated dismissal of the event, arriving at the CNE and having to circumnavigate half the festival grounds to enter through the gate that held our media passes was a burden and a half. I was ready to shit the bed before discovering that they’d accidentally gave me an extra pass that I could gift to someone else, thus spreading the displeasure of the event to someone else. As a misery vampire, the thought itself gave me strength. We arrived a little late (having to skirt the outside of the event will do that to you) and came in just as they were introducing the judges of the Mac & Cheese Cook-Off. We settled into the exclusive media seating (front row, baby) and began taking notes and photos. It was a small scale Iron Chef that required gratuitous mentions of the host product (in this case, Canadian cheese), but I don’t think that’d be news to anyone who was there. It was pretty transparent. Also beside my shitty mood and consistent snarky comments to my pal, it was a fun event that never really lagged. Props to the host, who did his part to keep things flowing. It all felt a little hokey, but created an engaging narrative and a host of irresistible aromas.

Slipping behind to the media room after the event meant we could help ourselves to ramekins of the competing dishes to taste for ourselves. A roasted tomato/chorizo/bocconcini/ricotta dish, an Indian spice inspired dish with melted Camembert sitting atop, a rich dish with four types of mushrooms crammed throughout and a 3 cheese dish covered in crisp roasted green veges. Also bottles of regular/chocolate milk were provided thanks to the Dairy Farmers of Ontario. They sent me home with a care package and my friend and I tried to escape the venue as soon as possible. A shitty low-rent carnival/flea market atmosphere felt about as welcoming as the terrible coffee had earlier in the day. They left me with a gift bag holding most of the aforementioned loot adorning my bed.

Coming home I could at least take solace in my close friends and killing time with glow in the dark spinning tops. We staged our own Beyblade style combat, while I imparted the ancient dreidel technique of spinning a top upside down. Later after a few drinks we had The Big Chill style conversations about how our development shaped us as individuals and just how apprehensive constant communication makes us. We bid each other good night and I tended to the stack of emails/Facebook messages that’d built up, thus lending credence to my fears. It’s media I’m into. That doesn’t necessarily make me social.

I hope I’m not taking it for granted. I don’t see myself as javaricious.

I find it almost ironic that yesterday’s post centred around sleep habits, considering my new job has almost certainly ensured I’ll never sleep again. Today alone I may have had 3-4 coffees, testing various brews I’d made and tasting samples of how they should’ve come out. I can’t even tell if I’m wired right now, or if I’ve just ascended to another plane of existence. Furthermore, none of them were mochas. Maybe I’m drifting towards the hipster coffee snob Mt Olympus after all.

I start my job next week, but they sent me in for a training program at their coffee roasters (Pilot Roasters. A New Zealand owned/operated roastery). Checking up online it looks like the course I took gratis usually costs $150 to enrol. It’s always nice to see that your company is investing in you as an employee. That’s the kind of stuff that helps build loyalty. It was an excellent course too. Focusing not only on the what of coffee, but the why, they taught us the different steps coffee takes to get to the customer. From its inception as the seed of a coffee cherry, to picking, processing, dry milling, shipping, roasting and so on. The comprehensive overview helped build an appreciation of the product we’ll be putting into each cup. They were also intent on driving home the theory behind getting a good, consistent blend, resulting in a high quality of espresso. Watching a tasting occur in the “lab” next to us, it’s evident these guys take their coffee seriously. Our teacher prepared a bunch of different shots to taste, harnessing the start and end points of the extraction. It really showcased the sour tastes inherent at the start of an extraction, while bitter notes crash in towards the end. Sampling the full shot in comparison really helped gauge how the flavours balance each other out, finding a sort of sweetness in their unity.

We were taught technique on how to accurately tamp coffee, plus theory on the correct ratios of dry to wet dose and the coarseness of the grind. We were shown how to effectively steam and pour milk to get the perfect cloudy or light consistency and sculpt an attractive beverage. A tip I didn’t know, if you want to practice your steam technique without wasting milk, you can just fill the metal jug with water and a squirt of dishwashing liquid and it’ll come out looking almost identical. Doesn’t taste half as sweet as it looks. If this all sounds like it was totally insipid, it wasn’t. I know working as a barista sounds like something I should’ve been doing 5 years ago while looking for a real job, but it’s actually pretty engaging (he says before actually starting the job. Let’s see how you’re feeling in a month). I’m getting paid a decent wage (which they say they’ll review after 3 months), I could basically choose my hours and the owners seem like really awesome people (a former firefighter and commercial airline pilot?). I feel like they’re actually sending respect my way, which I appreciate after having been doing a motley collection of odd jobs for the past year.

After my course they asked me to come in and get a feel for the work environment. They showed me around a little then unshackled and set me loose on the coffee machine. I was instructed to go nuts, making whatever kind of brews I wanted without worrying about wastage. If I wanted to drink the coffees, that was fine. Alternatively I could give them away or throw them out. The idea is that they want me to find my own style that works and they know it takes time. I’ve always been fond of getting hooked into a consistent workflow. It’s always a blast mastering a new skill and right now I’m getting much more excited than I thought to hone my talents. I’m gonna be the prime barista and I’ve got a large professional pride when I’m outputting any kind of product. Like one of my former bosses told me, whenever you start in a new job, become the person people go to with their questions. Make yourself indispensable and there’s nowhere to go but up. It seems I’ve once again found myself on a different path than I would’ve ever expected, but that’s done little to temper my enthusiasm at hiking up it vigorously. It just so happens that the beans I’ll be filled with have an addictive caffeine kick.

Less edifying, more bedifying.

How much consideration do you put into your sleeping habits? A conversation I just had made me re-examine how I sleep and why. From a physical standpoint I’m a solitary sleeper by nature. I’ve always slept best on my own and even when I’ve been with a partner for quite some time, I don’t get the same kind of rest I that I do when I’m flying solo. The emotional warmth I gain tends to make up for my lack of sleep and it’s not like I resent partners, having someone around is just a thing I have trouble overcoming. It’s the heat, really. I overheat quickly and easily. I’m like a furnace and adding any external heat overloads my capacity, turning excess warmth to sweat. Naturally this means I can’t really sleep spoon with partners and my automatic state is to turn away from them.

This was a behaviour I actively tried to change. I’d say most of us favour a particular side of the bed. It’s habit, pure and simple. Habit becomes comfortable and shifting away from that causes irritation. With my longest term partner I decided that if we were to be spending most evenings together, the considerate thing to do would be to try and sleep facing her. Used to sleeping on my right side, I intentionally changed my side of the bed so that I’d instinctively face the middle. It worked, though falling asleep on the “wrong” side took many moons to get over. Things settled and were pleasant, idyllic. Bit by bit though, my body turned away until I faced the outside of the bed. Nature vs nurture? At the conclusion of that relationship I’d remain on the side I’d gotten used to. I cast my fair share of longing glances to the empty side I once claimed, but time healed those wounds. In the end I guess I trained myself to be an ambi-sleeper if nothing else. The partner is long gone, but the skill remains. Now I roll between both sides. I may have been struck down, but I became more powerful than you would ever imagine.

My room isn’t large, but rather than push my bed up against the wall and give myself a bit more space, I’ve opted to pull it out enough that any prospective partner has an unobstructed path from the bed to the door. No climbing over me in the middle of the night for a clumsy bathroom break. I guess I took my cues from Maori pa warfare and ensured there was an available exit. I’m not sure how important it is, but somewhere in the back of my mind I imagined that if I somehow took home a one night stand (that wasn’t a 41 year old former dominatrix/escape artist) who, in the middle of the night she decided she wanted to be anywhere else, an escape route would be readily accessible to save her any embarrassment of having to justify her departure. Seriously, that scenario has shaped the way I’ve arranged a significant part of my bedroom. I don’t think I’ve ever used the exit myself, so I might as well have the side flush with the wall. Still there’s a part of me that feels hesitation in depriving this hypothetical girl of her dignity. The walk of shame is bad enough without additional hurdles.

I’m shifting rooms soon anyway, so now I’ll have to concoct other elaborate potential requirements and cater to them. What if the girl I bring home sees by sonar alone and my room doesn’t reflect sound well enough? What if she requires a cocoon for truly enriching slumber? Would she crawl into bed as a poor choice of mate undetected by my beer goggles, but undergo a metamorphosis to emerge as a fitting partner? Why does my subconscious mind immediately assume that for a woman to want to come home with me on a one night stand she has to be some type of inhuman mammal or insect?

I now own glow in the dark spinning tops. How am I even employed?

My internet’s being a dick. When I say that my internet is being a dick I mean I’m being a cheeky arsehole and trying to circumvent paying for internet ‘til the end of the month by running my “unlimited” mobile data plan as a wireless hotspot. My indignation at my clever plan falling to pieces is a perfect depiction of my entitled attitude at work. A poor workman blames his tools and at the moment I’m being a bit of a tool.

I’ve got no right to be. After I worked through most of the sloppy shit left over from the renovation yesterday I had a fine Saturday evening/Sunday. Sloppy shit? How about unmopped paint speckled floors, a front porch covered in dust and wood shavings, a bunch of nails and sharp screws scattered across the house and some limp plumbing? Try virtually non-functioning, leaking taps in the kitchen, bathroom taps with a slow trickle and a shower that a drooling old man would severely challenge in water pressure stakes. Having ambitiously invited company, I whipped out the mop and attacked the mess with a whirling dervish’s fervour. Apparently my landlord will fix the water issues when he comes to deliver the new rental agreement tomorrow night. Timely.

Company arrived and the evening picked up. Given the achievable blackout state of the place, I bought a bunch of snap to glow crap for a two person rave. Hanging glow sticks like mistletoe and lanterns we took advantage of the privacy and open space. Eschewing traditional garb for glow bracelets/headgear, we turned on the music and let the atmosphere shine. Throwing couch cushions onto the bare kitchen floor we improvised fluoro star-gazing. Given that we were both adults, we found adult uses for the glow in the dark material and experimented with Snapchatting. We also had the place to ourselves so, y’know, played some fun private games. Pun kind of intended. Once again I felt justified in my assertions that being an adult isn’t necessarily governed by behaviour, but is more of a state of mind and acceptance of responsibilities/consequence. If you’re with someone who likes to play, then by all means play. You’re not harming anyone by exercising your right to refuse to take things so seriously. Just because you don’t have to sneak out of the house without waking your parents, doesn’t mean you’re restricted to dinner and a movie or a walk in a park. Those things are great, but they’re not the only way to date.

It almost feels like “dating” itself is shifted. I don’t know if it’s the ascendancy of Tinder or pop culture increasingly portraying the widening of options when it comes to wet and dry humping, but things seem less rigid than they used to be. A younger girl at work mentioned something about “the guy she’s seeing” as opposed to opting for the more common ‘boyfriend’ label. I feel like ten years ago this would’ve been a given. I’m not knocking it; I’m finding the varied landscape to be interesting and fun terrain to navigate. I’ve been growing ever fonder of this show You’re the Worst on FX and the show’s started hitting its stride. The premise is of two intelligent, acerbic, poisonous people who are no good for anybody else finding themselves intertwined with one another and coming to terms with what that means. The show resonates with me first and foremost because of witty writing and convincing leads, but also the principle feels ever closer to how I’ve been experiencing amorous interaction as of late. It’s harder to look at things and determine how they’ll play out, now that a myriad of persuasions and lifestyle choices have entered the picture. At what point do we decide that “going steady” is a commitment we’re ready to make? Is that even a necessary step in most relationships anymore? Or have new emergent paradigms lessened the need for this kind of emotional ownership over the coupling? Is it possible to extend sincere affection without affixing a label? Or are we just deluding ourselves into thinking that we’ve evolved beyond the need for security when in fact we’re trying to evoke an image of apathy in order to obfuscate our insecurities? I don’t think I’m projecting here, truthfully, but I’m also completely unaware of where I’m the road ahead leads or what’s pushing me there. In a way, isn’t driving without headlights kind of exciting? Or is that the kind of ironic line someone spouts just before a crash?