“Coincidence and Happenstance” sounds like a minidisc mix I would’ve made when I was 17. Oh God, it was actually called “Coherence and Concordance.” Fuck me forever.

A queen bed for $160. Pretty great deal, right? It’s not super fancy, it doesn’t have four posts or a large headboard. It’s not a top of the line model or anything. It is comfy though, a ramshackle memory foam monstrosity that’s pieced together from assorted causality. How you ask? Oh, you didn’t? Well in this case we’ll pretend that your call to adventure is greater than your apathy. Let’s go into the coincidence and happenstance that brought together disparate bits to make a $160 queen sized bed.

Our story starts in Montreal, where I happened to be checking out Just For Laughs. I’d loaded my evenings with comedy gigs, enough to keep me giddy for almost 2 weeks. I’d been lacking in things to do during the days though. Montreal is a gorgeous city with stately old architecture and dismissive, pretty people. It was fun to look around, but company was hard to find. “Stop being a shit” my friend would tell me “join couch surfing, go to an event.” She was right, and within an hour of making an account I was heading along to a park barbecue meet up. I know that none of this sounds bed-like, but I’m getting there. Good things take time. Are you cheesemaker quality or not? Anywhey… Met a bunch of people who I spent time hanging out with for the remainder of my Montreal trip. One of the guys was heading to Toronto in a few months, so we exchanged contact details and agreed to get in touch when he arrived.

Skip forwards a few months. I’d found a flat, and the former occupant left their shitty single bed. Whatever, a free bed was a free bed. My friend messaged me when he touched down in Toronto. We hung out, things were good. He let me know that one of his friends was giving away a double bed, was I interested? Of course I was, because if there’s anything I love more than a free bed its a free double bed. That’s like, twice the free or something. I’m not a maths person. I went out to his friend’s family’s house and picked up the bed: Double bed mattress, box spring and frame. Perfect. Also (once again) free.

Time went on. Lots of time. I still hung out with this guy and at some point he introduced me to one of his friends. We dated briefly. I found out it was her bed that I now owned, which had an amusing symmetry when she stayed over. Things ended on friendly enough terms, but the bed remained.

Another time shift. I’d stopped hanging out with this friend, not for any particularly menacing reasons, but we just drifted a little. It’s alright, I had other friends. I had two very close friends living here for a year in fact. They needed a bed and ended up nabbing one from IKEA. A nice mid-level queen sized memory foam bed. Eschewing any extras, they simply left the mattress on the floor like a futon. It was outstanding having them here for as long as I did, but they left maybe 2 months ago.

Having nowhere to put the bed (it’s not exactly compact) they offered it to me for $150. A good deal including all the bedding (and it was a queen rather than a double. EXPANDED STARFISHING), plus any way to help them out before they left was gravy. I’ve been using the bed, it’s great, but it would be nice not being on the ground. I’ve developed this unenviable habit of painfully headbutting the bedside table in the middle of the night (the Pokémon training is strong with this one. Blame my snorlax kigurumi). Are you guys wondering how this is connected? I’ll get there, geez (spoiler: it’s not too exciting and entirely low-stakes).

I was holding my old bed for friends in an effort to pay it forward. It took them too long to pick it up though, so I put it on the lawn outside my house. I left for 90 minutes and by the time I got back it was all gone. Except for the frame. Odd I thought and left it out there for someone to pick up. People will take anything around here. Nobody did though, nobody. So I thought fuck it and brought it back inside. I still wanted a boxspring/foundation to lift the bed up and elevate me beyond bedside table headbutting level, so I went out to search.

There’s a Brick furniture store at the end of my road. Maybe 10 minutes walk. I went in and asked some dude about boxsprings. He admitted that they’re all the same and my best bet was to just get the cheapest one I could find. He suggested the clearance section upstairs. I went up and looked around. Everything was part of a queen set. I asked one of the guys working if any were standalone. “Yeah, there’s one that’s been reduced. Wanna see it?” he asked. I nodded my agreement and he pulled me over. There it was. Priced down from $175 to $8. “What’s wrong with it?” I asked. He replied that it was just a bit dirty, it was a floor model and they wanted to shift it. I looked, smelled it and realised that I was just gonna cover it in a fitted sheet anyway. Perfect. $9.05 after tax. I looked at the base and asked the salesperson how much it cost. $69.90 she said. I noticed that the model she had up on her screen said “fits twin/double/queen/king”. She mentioned that they’re usually variable, able to fit all bed sizes. I paid for my boxspring and left.

Looking in the hallway back home, I realised that the frame left over from my old double was held together by a bunch of wingnuts. It was virtually identical to the one at the store. I tried fiddling around and pow, queen sized frame. Now all I need to do is get a friend to help me lug a light boxspring 800m (rather than paying $70 delivery) and I’m set. Queen bed for $160.

I love it when a plan comes together. Especially when I didn’t know I was planning it.

Do you think there’s a grindcore band called Death Camp for Cutie?

I don’t know what it is about this story that’s capturing the hearts of social media denizens everywhere. Some toddler is obsessed with a personal injury lawyer and had a themed Morris Bart birthday. It’s some of the best viral marketing I’ve ever seen. I can’t stop guffawing at my computer right now. The thought of a little 2 year old being so transfixed by something that is so far out of his world-frame just doesn’t cease to be funny. What use does he of a personal injury lawyer? Kids heal quickly, they’re like mini Wolverines (character, not the small weasel beasts). Plus, on that child’s salary he’d be hard pressed to hire even an affordably priced lawyer such aa Morris Bart. This is ridiculous, I already like this Morris Bart dude and I’ve never even seen the ad (lies. I took a couple of minute and watched some on Youtube). It’s lunacy, but loveable lunacy for sure. I get it though, when you’re that age nothing’s wrapped up in a tight little bow of accessible logic. You like what you like because you do. Simple.

When I was that age I apparently had a favourite toy. It was this little soldier thing. Maybe the height of a bic clic pen (dumbest link I’ve posted?), some officer dude garbed in all black. He had a red hat and a skull and crossbones emblem on his breast. I still think it looks like a tiny SS officer. I’ve got no idea why I would’ve been drawn to it, but my parents said that as a toddler I played with it all the time. We were inseparable. So tight, in fact, that I ended up almost chewing the thing’s head off like a randy praying mantis. That’s adoration. I think my parents hid it away at that point. Or I moved on. Unsure, I wasn’t exactly cognisant then. It wasn’t until age 5 or so that my parents re-introduced me to it.

I treated it like a stranger. I had (and to this day have) no knowledge of playing with it whatsoever. It was just some weird little object that I was informed I liked. I felt affection for it because I’d been told that was a pre-existing condition, but I had no evidence in my head that spoke to the little toy’s relevance. For all I know, my parents were just fucking with me and wanted to play some bizarre social experiment. I’m not saying they were (but I’m not not saying that either, dig?), there’s still suspicion. It’s like this urban tale that goes around within a close group of my brothers, best friend and his brothers. According to the older boys (back when we were much younger. The more that I type it out it’s becoming apparent this story came from the mouths of 10 year olds), when I was a kid on some farm we all visited (?) I ate cow poop. It was something they’d all laugh about, the older boys would tease, etc. I stopped caring and I think it got old for them not getting a reaction, so it was dropped. Between my friend and I though, it was taken as gospel. As a baby, did I really chomp down on some fine cow pat? It’s all too easy to call bullshit now, but at the time their conviction gave it some verisimilitude. That previous sentence was brought to you by pretentiousness and a strong desire to drop the word “verisimilitude” in wherever I can so people will like me. DO YOU LIKE ME YET? I NEEEED YOOOUR APPROOOVAAAAL. Man, I must’ve eaten shit at some stage, cause I’m a master of talking it now.

How much of your culture do you think is founded on dumb white lies and stories people have fed you? Did you parents actually tell you anything true about their upbringing? Or did they instead tell you the synopsis of Jingle all the Way with a few names changed? Man, if it wasn’t for the prevalence of social media and digital record keeping, you could just make up shit to your kids and have them believe anything. I want a 5 year old who believes they once jumped 2 metres vertically, just to see them repeatedly try.

For the millionth time, maybe it’s socially irresponsible for me to consider having kids.

A no tear o ah.

It’s been 2 and a bit years since I left home. I’m a few days shy of 2 years in Toronto. I don’t know if it’s some divine coincidence, but lately people have been asking me a ton about homesickness. It must be beeeeeauuuuuuuutiful back there. You must miss everyone so much. What are you doing up here? Aren’t you chomping at the bit to get back? Each time I politely rebuff them, stating that if I wanted to be back home, I probably wouldn’t have come. I’m not remotely interested in going back. There’s nothing pulling me. When you’re so far away from it, everything there seems so small, inconsequential. Major news stories break over bullying on NZ X-Factor or a popular chocolate milk selling out too quickly. You think I joke, but lest we forget Marmageddon happened. I’ve got family back home, but they’ll still be there when I visit for whatever wedding (or funeral, let’s be real) commands it. A good proportion of my friends left the country anyway. They’re either in Melbourne or London. Chances are they’re even making their way around North America, so I’m probably closer here.

The idea of this post wasn’t to shit on good ol’ Aotearoa, so here are some things I do miss about home (that I’m sure my girlfriend NEVER tires of hearing about):

  • Non cash society. Seriously, the fact that in 2015 I still need to withdraw money every week to pay at small stores, bars and many restaurants? Insane. What incentive is there to spend physical money if you’re just gonna have to withdraw more? It’s a pointless exercise. It’s not the 90s, shouldn’t we be past this?
  • Tipping not existing. I’ve ranted about this enough, but it’s as simple as pay your employees more instead of making patrons do it. Since 15% tipping is basically mandatory, you’re not giving incentive for better service. People who think otherwise are buying into a dumb capitalistic dream. I’m keeping it short. That’s it.
  • Tax inclusive. Just add it into the price. Fucks me off every time.
  • Mild weather. The extremes back home (at least in Auckland) weren’t too extreme. Winter got down to maybe 5ºC and summer barely got above 30ºC. Easy living.
  • Consistent metric system. Why are some things metric, some things imperial? I still have no easy conversion for miles, feet/inches or pounds.
  • Clever advertising. It’s really in the minority here. Going to the movies, watching ads makes me feel like my face is being pounded by a sledgehammer. It’s that dumb. Tone it down, learn some subtlety. Not everything has to cater to the lowest common denominator.
  • Dairy and lamb. Ontario, your pork is of the highest calibre. Still, I come from an agricultural island and the lamb doesn’t quite rack up here like it did back home. As far as normal commercially available cheeses, they’re bland and tasteless. Everything tastes the same, there’s nothing with a sharp bite. What the fuck even is marble cheese? Blending two colours of bland to make something equally as grey. You can’t taste colour and this cheese doesn’t taste like anything.
  • Coffee. It’s not like there’s no good coffee to be found here in Toronto, because there are a bunch of really great places. It’s just that your margin of error is much wider. There’s so much shit coffee and a few places that’re the crème de la crema (see what I did there?). Fuck brew, it’s shit. Keep your hogwash. Sorry Mr Horton, but your product is garbage. Stick to donuts.

Seriously though, that’s about it. Considering quality of life and everything, I love it here. There’s something happening at all times. So many diverse groups and opportunities. Bands who’d never tour the southern hemisphere. Public transport that works, despite how everyone bitches about it so relentlessly. Canadian people are pleasant, friendly and generally thoughtful. Social services are pretty damn good, not to mention benefits. Holy shit. The fact that practically all of my basic medical, dental or physical needs are met for a mere $400 paycheck deduction each year? Insane. It’s not like I even hate the weather. It’s exciting to see the extremes. To sweat in the sun, see the leaves colourshift and fall, trudge through the snow and smell nature coming back to life all in one solar rotation? It’s a marvel. Make no mistake, I’m glad to be here. Hence why I’m not sick for home at all.

Just the Marmite.

I mean, what’s to stop you from putting meringue on top of cheesecake? That question wasn’t rhetorical. Please do it. You could buy my love.

Meeting the family was lovely. Her mum’s a great hugger, no awkward pauses, nice to get some backfill on the kind of people my favourite person came from. Spoiler, they’re pretty great. Also we had delicious dinner. I opted for shepherd’s pie, which was as delightful as any pie has right to be. An odd choice for a day that got up to around 30°C, but when you’re a recovering hermit who spends most of the day in an air conditioned lair, shepherd’s pie is always a winner. I mean, shepherd’s isn’t always the first flavour I think of when I think of pie, but when the time is ripe for a stodgy treat, it’s tough to beat. You’d think that since I grew up in New Zealand I’d go straight for a classic mince and cheese pie, but my favourite pie isn’t even a mean concoction. I’m a keen fan of a sweet slice of key lime. There’s something about that crumbly crust, topped with sweet (and slightly tart) lime filling (which is basically liquid candy) and meringue topping. If you’re really cruising my good books you could flip it and magic it into a key lime cheesecake instead, but I’m not fussy. In any case I think you’d have earned three wishes from me.

You’d lose these wishes instantly if you picked up my recently remembered pet peeve. What is it with people who play music from their cellphones in public without heaphones or earplugs? Is it braggado, obliviousness, ambivalence or just a total disregard for those around them? At least twice in the past week I’ve had someone sitting next to me on the TTC playing music loudly from their cellphone that’s just sitting in their lap. If you didn’t have headphones, wouldn’t you keep the noise lower but put it closer to your ears so you could hear it? I know how tinny the speakers on those things are (though it seldom makes a difference if you’re listening to metallic auto tune). You’re actively ruining the music for yourself. Earbuds are very very cheap. Even a crappy pair should sound better than what you’re running with. It makes people stare, which might be part of the attraction if you’re an attention starved individual. If you’re not though, this wouldn’t be motivation. It’s rare for someone to say anything. I’m sure in the US someone would pipe up and start a fight, which could also be what people are looking for. I’m using so many conditional modifiers because I have no idea what incites this kind of behaviour. I was still feeling a little sapped today on my way back from picking up the work laptop and some guy was blaring his music full bore. Many people were staring. After a song or two I politely asked the guy “sorry mate, but your music’s a little loud. Mind turning it down a bit? Cheers.” He did. I was relieved. No fuss. Then as I exited the train I heard him turning it back up. So in that case, perhaps no wider perspective.

Speaking of wider perspective, a couple of times in the last while I’ve been watching something and I’ve noticed a lack of action taken against a certain kind of foe. Invisible enemies, specifically ones who possess physical bodies. I see protagonists go up against them, take a licking, heal their wounds and go in for a second strike. So often they’ll just get a blanket or curtain or something. These things can be taken off easily. WHY DOES NOBODY GET SPRAY PAINT OR FLOUR? This stuff sticks to your foe and makes them far easier to spot. Have you ever tried to get flour off quickly and easily? Fuck no. Wet it and you’ll have glue. They’re still fucked and you can go in for the kill instead of shitting yourselves at your invisible nemesis. Not to mention if you get them in the eyes you’ll temporarily blind them, giving you the advantaged of a stunned foe. Don’t say that these things are hard to find. If you can’t find one then surely the other will be around. Other substitutes could be paint, wine (most any coloured liquid that can stain) or gasoline. It surprises me how often these things come up, but they rarely go for the simplest and most effective answers. I’m no monster expert, but come on people. We need to stop giving these demons more of a fighting chance. If you can’t see that, then you’ve lost sight of the goal.

The stakes have never been lower. Them steaks though…

I’m back, alive and kicking for another day of kicking back in front of the keyboard. Woah, a lot going on in that sentence. I have drugs to cure what has been confirmed as strep throat, so in a few days I should come back around to some sense of normalcy. Terrific. My recuperation has involved being prone, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I think I’ve blitzed through about 20 episodes over the last few days. Fun series, it’s aged well aside from any reference to technology, but that’s unfair to bring up nigh on 20 years later. The show has a great linear arc and I’m pulled in by the little pieces strung together to make a more complete narrative. Incidental details from past episodes are brought up again, showing an attention to development that’s understated and underrated. Character development is slow but steady and it doesn’t feel like oh, this is the episode where we learn about Giles. Oh, in this one they give Willow some loving. It’s more subtle and cumulative, making it frightfully easy to marathon. The dialogue is quick (though not Gilmore Girls speed) and it’s got its share of cute one liners and fun banter. Also lots of people die. LOTS. There’s a suicide in school, students are regularly devoured or dismembered by monsters. The bestiary is expansive and varied with just a hint of campiness to keep things light enough. It’s not afraid to go to dark places, but they do a great job of balancing it all out with humour. Hah, as if my opinion means anything when talking about an already critically acclaimed 17 year old cult hit. All I’m saying is that if you were on the fence about watching it and catching up, it’s easier and far more enjoyable to do than you’d think.

Speaking of enjoyment and an inability to make a decent segue, I’m meeting my girlfriend’s family tomorrow. I’m surprisingly excited, if only because being nervous about meeting family seems to be a trope we all ascribe to. I find often enough that if there’s someone in my life that I cherish, some of those elements may have come from family. Not all the time of course, but there are teensy things you can notice if you look hard enough. It might be certain mannerisms, facial features, something about the way certain family members talk. We’re all pretty impressionable and we tend to take on aspects of the people we love. This became apparent when I met my niece for the first time. I wouldn’t say that I look too much like my brothers, but people have told me that a bunch of their expressions or habits hang on me like a cape. My niece somehow clicked into this and was strangely calm when I held her. I don’t know if I’m quite as perceptive as a 3 month old with their mystical infant mysticism of wonder. Still, I hope to be able to find where some of my girlfriend’s many quirks and traits came from.

My lack of fear for familial interaction probably has something to do with having lucked out in the past. I always remember my first girlfriend being deathly scared of me meeting her mother. She painted the picture of a draconian tyrant, all unfair rules and expectations. Meeting her mother, this ruse vanished in a puff of smoke. Her mum was great, a doctor of anthropology, fascinating person in all regards. What’s more, I could see where my girlfriend got her fierce wit from. Maybe she was a different person when I went home, but she always seemed lovely to me. It’s funny, but years after we’d broken up, I ran into her at my university job. Being placed in the anthropology department, I ran into her often. I guess it’s always hard to see the same person in a parent as someone who’s been raised by one, but she was never anything but lovely to me. She suggested some books for me to read, gave me advice for an upcoming American road trip and helped me deal with difficult heartbreak.

So shoot me if I’m eager to meet the woman who brought my girlfriend into this world. The mother who raised her with values and heart, who helped form the strong woman I found so easy to fall in love with.

Also now that I’ve got my appetite back, I could really use a good meal. I swear that’s not my top priority.

David Thorne was right. The internet IS a playground.

So it’s looking like my mystery illness was strep throat all along. I’d never heard of it, but my super sexy nurse has been taking care of me all day and suggested it could be a thing. She took my temperature, up at 39.1°C. She felt my lymph nodes and noticed the left side was swollen up like a balloon. Next she fished out a little flashlight and we peered into my gaping maw in front of a mirror. Little white spotty things were clustered on that skin to the left of my uvula. Consulting various websites, we ruled out cancer and decided it was down to strep throat or tonsil stones. All the signs pointed to strep, so tomorrow it’s off to the doctors to get antibiotics and fix it right up. It’s weird having a painful lump at the back of my throat. That’s not half as weird as my lack of appetite though. You know something’s dire when I don’t want to eat. Thanks to my wonderful girlfriend though, I might come out of this one alive. Knowing me, I would’ve just spent today wallowing in bed, sweating, for all the good that would do. She’s a goddamn hero. Like Enrique Iglesias in that video with Jennifer Love Hewitt.

But enough about sickness. It’s not all that fun to talk about. I could talk about Enrique Iglesias more, but my knowledge is kind of restricted to the fact that he cut his hand on a drone at a gig a few months back. True story, remarkably (even with blood streaming down his back) he kept playing. I’d never really thought twice about Enrique, but that kind of dedication to the cause is admirable at least. It’s like when Pitbull, an artist who I have no room for in my brain, held that breath strip Walmart contest. Whichever Walmart got the most likes on Facebook, he’d fly there and perform. Of course the internet got a hold of it and of course they sent him to Kodiac, Alaska. Pitbull, questionable talent but game individual as he is, went there and performed. That takes balls, to be a straightforward commercial shill and stick to it. I love this quote from the energy strips CEO: “I’ve known Pitbull for a few years now, and he’s up for a party – whether it’s around the corner, or you have to get there by three planes and a boat in between, as I understand it takes to get to Kodiak.” I can respect that.

There have been some fun internet pranks over the years. Usually engineered by 4chan. They’re a wayward bunch of perverted script kiddies, but sometimes they know how to get right to my ulnar nerve. They once tried to rig a contest to send Bieber around the world. Whichever country had the most votes by the end of the contest period would be Justin’s destination. Naturally 4chan chose best Korea, North Korea. Unfortunately the country’s ban on Western music meant Bieber was unable to fulfil the request. Pity, he missed out on the experience reserved primarily for Dennis Rodman, to hang with the late KJI himself. Sounds like he would’ve won the prize there. Even better, he could’ve visited the happiest place in North Korea. Oh the laughs, smiles and encrusted, ill maintained rides.

There was also the time 4chan stacked a contest aiming to name a new apple flavour of Mountain Dew. Judging by the top submitted names, they did their duty well. Mountain Dew admitted the contest lost to the internet and shut it down, but we’ll always have the results. Despite the obvious immaturity of the names, I can’t help but smile at the internet once more getting one over on a corporate entity. It’s hard for me to have sympathy here, so all I can do is share my amusement with others.

Oh, and there was that time 4chan rigged Time’s person of the year

I’m basically wearing a wet do-rag right now.

A warning: This is likely to be awful. If it reflects in any way how I feel right now, it’ll be loathsome, scattered and a little bit loopy. The flu that I picked up through unknown means has not abated and I’ve done a poor job of improving my wretched state. My throat is inflamed to the point that even water hurts to gulp down. I’ve got a fever that cowbell can’t fix and it’s causing me to alternate between burning up and shivering non-stop. My head is throbbing and my eyes hurt. I wasn’t aware eyes could hurt, but I guess you learn something new every day. I’ve washed my sheets twice in the past two days, because I keep doing my best interpretation of Will Graham. The cold and flu medication I’m taking helps somewhat, but I think I’ve had too much and the pseudoephedrine is sending my mind way out into orbit. I’ve spent most of the day in bed feeling sorry for myself and sweating excessively. When I get cold, it makes no rational sense. I was wearing my polar fleece snorlax kigurumi and slippers, still I couldn’t cease shivering. My fingers have been some shade of purple most of the day. I’ve been fading in and out of consciousness and I fear I’m gonna have trouble sleeping tonight yet again. If there’s one sliver of silver lining I’ve managed to watch a ton of TV. That’s how optimism works, right?

Wait, that’s dumb. My silver lining shimmers considerably more than that. While I suffered in the morning, the afternoon brought with it a saving grace: My girlfriend arrived. I’m not one who likes to take help when it’s offered, but given that movement has been tricky, I haven’t had much of a choice. She’s been amazing. Whatever I’ve needed she’s had no trouble grabbing it and helping out. When my fever got to be too much, she dampened a towel with cold water and placed it on my forehead. She’s ensured that I’m drinking enough fluids and even brought a whole host of ingredients to make me home made chicken soup. Though we had other plans today, she blew them off without hesitation in order to stay with me and make sure I’ve been doing alright. She ran her hands softly through my hair and traced light patterns with her fingers across my back. I felt guilty taking all the help she’s offered, but she repeatedly told me to think nothing of it.

While feeling utterly fragile, it’s also made me feel completely loved. I’ve felt ok to be vulnerable, to let her know how I’ve been hurting. In return she’s exceeded anything I could ask for. I’ve felt at home. Safe, secure and cared for without a second thought. I’ve been exuding adoration but anything I’ve said fails to capture the extent to which my feelings reach. It’s not like I had any doubts about her, but this experience has shown me more about loving and being loved than I thought possible. Look at me here turning to floppy mush, but it’s true. Infirm as I’ve felt today, it’s reaffirmed what I already knew tenfold. I’m reassured in what we have together and-much as I’d prefer she doesn’t get sick-I’m awaiting a chance to return the favour. I’m a lucky guy, that’s all I can say.

Though judging by my loopy mental state, I could’ve dreamed the whole thing.