I, for one, plan on dancing myself clean of 2017 tonight.

New Year’s Eve. Not that all new years are created even. My 2017 was a trying time. It was a year where things felt stagnant. I’ve never experienced such a strong sense of inertia. I had a lot of dismay around my career and the lack of progress. For the first time in quite a while I actively worried about where I was going with my life. There was a general sensation of “fine but unexciting” which I’m guessing is what adulthood is all about. Towards the end some wheels began turning, which makes me think that 2018 could be a year of meaningful recalibration. A personal state of the nation and mission statement towards living the life I want. 2017: Not a total trash fire, but a necessary pit stop.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. Here are some neat things I did in 2017:

  • I turned 30. To celebrate, I visited my friends and family back in New Zealand.
  • I ticked Los Campesinos off my bucket list.
  • I visited Montreal. Twice.
  • Trained for Tough Mudder on my own and saw massive results.
  • Had a Portland vacation/culinary awakening.
  • Saw my most JFL42 shows ever. 33 gigs over ten days.
  • Made a bunch of new friendships and greatly deepened a few existing ones.
  • Conducted my first ever business pitch meeting, despite being terrified to do so.

There was more, of course. It’s impossible to sum up the ebb and flow of an entire year in a bunch of bullet points and still capture its nuance. I mean, I took a bunch of great poops too, but I somehow they didn’t make the list. Speaking of shit, I thought it’d be neat to look back at some of my New Year’s celebrations that weren’t so happy.

The year 2000 had been riddled with hype. The banks were gonna reset, the world would implode and we’d all ride a wave of mutilation into Armageddon. Instead, I developed a rampant and highly contagious skin rash. I had to be doused in anti-bacterial cream and, being 12 years old, had no grand plans in any case. One of my friends and I rented an N64 from the video store. We played Super Smash Bros all day and night until the Willenium approached. We loaded up on V (a popular guarana based NZ energy drink) and went down to the wharf to watch the New Years fireworks. They were all kinds of uninspiring and I was quite dismayed that the world didn’t end.

Somewhere between 2008-2010 we had a house party. I was surrounded by friends and I was in my early 20s. We’d all planned to be… not sober? Unfortunately we spent $60 on duds and spent the entire night anxiously waiting for them to kick in. The evening shat the bed big time and we drank while mourning the times we could’ve had. Oh to be young again.

In 2011 I was in New York with a group of friends. I finally found somewhere that had Four Loko and I grabbed two cans. I drank one and a half cans (or approximately Six Loko), which kicked in quickly. My friend’s teetotaller boyfriend kept plying me with alcohol and I got way too drunk and emotional. I’d broken up with my longtime girlfriend a few months before leaving for the vacation and hadn’t really processed it. I started loudly weeping, but fortunately my friends just laughed at my misfortune and I didn’t harsh their buzz. Then we went to The Katz’ Deli and I almost got kicked out for significantly failing to understand their ticket based order system.

Last year my girlfriend and I were travelling to New Zealand on the 31st of December. We kissed in Los Angeles at Toronto midnight while eating sub-par, overpriced airport sushi. Then I failed to sleep on planes for the next 20 or so hours.

Let’s raise a toast to everyone’s New Year’s plans being better than any of the ones I just mentioned.

See you next year.

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It was gorge-ous, in case you were quarry-ous.

Adventure day! After many days in a row stuck in Toronto, escape was on the docket. Destination: Elora, a little town maybe 90 minutes out of the city. Where do I start? Well, nothing could keep us from repeating the town’s name in a sing song voice à la Master of None.

With no aux capabilities on the stereo, my girlfriend was forced (enabled?) Into bringing out her teenage CD wallet. We zoomed along the 401 highway cranking a Much Dance compilation and Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill. We weren’t merely travelling, but time travelling. It was interesting getting used to a) driving again, b) driving in snow and c) driving again in snow on the other side of the road. I’m not gonna be melodramatic enough to say that everything changed, but some things threw me off a little. First off, right hand turns on a red. I can’t even remember if there was an equivalent rule back in New Zealand, but it felt like stealing bases. A free pass! The left side being the driver’s side was odd. Mostly when reversing. Every time I had to back up I’d instinctively turn to my left and end up facing the door. Then I’d turn to the right, grab the headrest of the right seat and turn my wheels the wrong way.

Elora was small, walkable and cute. A ton of niche stores with the kind of stuff adults buy to make a house look well travelled. First stop was the Elora Brewing House. It was exactly what you’d expect from a brewery, which I mean only as a compliment. Tasty pub style food and a range of beer on tap. I had a chicken sammy with bacon jam, lettuce and tomato. The home made tomato sauce was super flavorful with a strong ginger taste. The hot sauce was potent and I’m bound to feel it again later.

We checked out a couple of the boutiques around town. The Mermaid Emporium had heaps of inexpensive and nice looking jewelry. Not merely that, but an extensive collection of custom door knockers, handles and coat hooks. Have you ever had a hankering for hanging your coats on a line of dog butts? If not, we wouldn’t connect on any wavelength and I question why you’re reading this. My girlfriend and our travelling buddy bought a couple of things and we set out to see what else the town held. We looked into a bunch of windows, then settled on a cringeworthy looking gift store. It had more than the usual complement of Live Laugh Love placards and some eerily targeted divorce wine glasses. I guess there’s a market for everything.

The gorge and quarry, two local attractions we’d been keen to check out, were in opposite directions. People had suggested the quarry would likely resemble a large hole filled with snow, so the gorge sounded slightly more promising. In the summer it offered zipline routes, but covered in snow there were instead just empty tracks. We walked through them, playing in the snow like witless children. We stood on the zipline platform and witnessed the beautiful vista of the frozen gorge. We followed the track to a walkable over-bridge and saw an even better view, lit by the pink hues of fading sunlight. The cliffs were steep, indebted and chipped away through time. A small river ran through the mostly icy depths, opening up as it ran past the bridge. We messed around in the snow a bit more until frostbite threatened to claim our appendages. We hopped back in the car back towards home, content with a fun day out. So fun, in fact, that I forgot how much I wanted a fish sandwich until we were too far to turn around. Well, well, well, Elora, I guess you haven’t seen the last of me!

Beats Jabber-walking any day.

Today is a good day. It may have started with me getting distracted by a gif of a Komodo dragon swallowing a monkey whole and going the wrong direction on the subway, but things will get even better than that impossible high. I get to drive today!

Moreover, I get to drive in the snow. The last time I did that I was in control of a fuckoff-sized RV rig. This time I get to be in a svelte Honda accord. It has snow tires and everything. I’ll get to discover the many menaces of winter car ownership (for a day). This will involve shovelling the carport to enable parking and leaving. I’ll have to brush off the snow before departing for our journey. The tank will have to be kept at over half-full to prevent it from freezing. I’ll do that towel on the windscreen trick. I’ll switch up following times from the 3-4 second rule to the 8-10 second rule. I’ll slow the fuck down and accelerate/brake gradually. I’ll watch my turns and try not to come to a complete stop if I can help it. I’ll try to gain momentum at the top of a hill rather than accelerate hard as I’m driving up it. In short, I’ll drive like I’m piloting the Stair Car.

Note: Watch for Hop Ons.

The other day a friend messaged asking if my girlfriend and I wanted to take a short day trip. Instantly and without thinking, I said yes. Here’s the thing, moving to Canada I resolved to travel as much as possible. Then I arrived in Toronto and had no money. Travelling a bunch when I could only just make rent seemed non-plausible. Eventually I got back to full time work, but I had to build my savings back up. Eventually I had enough cash to see the sights, but figured since I wasn’t stuck in the arse end of the world I’d do better to check out other countries. Canada kept getting left by the wayside.

You know what? I’ve been driving for years, but renting a car is expensive. I can’t afford to own a car in Toronto, so going on impromptu day trips feels outside the realm of possibility. So when my friend asked if we wanted to go on a day trip I thought fuck it and resolved to go whatever it took. Spontaneity and all that. I chatted with friends at a party about where we should go and a friend chimed in “oh, you can take my car.” Everything came together. It was such a generous offer that I couldn’t say no. Even better is that it’s an old reliable machine. I’d feel petrified to drive something new and flashy, like I was inside a vehicle made of eggshells. She’s adamant that, while she doesn’t expect us to trash her car, if anything happens it’s not the end of the world. Amazing, right?

No, I’m not planning on trashing the car.

It’s crazy how much opportunity having a car opens up. My head is swimming with ideas like could we do a Costco run? What about IKEA? Imagine loading groceries instead of carrying bags. The joy of riding or going for joyrides in general is heightened, but I’m likely just gonna use it for the drive tomorrow and that’s it.

O frabjous day! Car-llooh! Car-llay!

This is both The and A List.

With the year coming to a close, year end lists are all the rage. Without further ado, with no additional commentary, here are some things I enjoyed in 2017. I’ll at least sort them into sections. Note, they may not even all be from 2017. Maybe I just discovered them this year. No doubt I’ll forget a bunch. I’m not paying that much attention:

Movies

  • The Big Sick
  • Logan
  • Spider Man: Homecoming
  • Killing of a Sacred Deer
  • Baby Driver
  • I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore
  • The Florida Project
  • Okja
  • Kong: Skull Island
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Get Out
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • It

Television

  • Legion
  • Trial and Error
  • Dear White People
  • Crazy Ex Girlfriend Season 3
  • Master of None Season 2
  • You’re The Worst Season 3
  • American Gods
  • Catastrophe Season 3
  • Better Things Season 2
  • The Good Place Season 2
  • GLOW
  • American Vandal
  • BoJack Horseman Season 3
  • Big Mouth
  • The Katering Show
  • Rick & Morty Season 3
  • Please Like Me
  • Crashing

Music

  • Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked At Me
  • The National – Sleep Well Beast
  • LCD Soundsystem – Self Titled
  • Father John Misty – Fear Fun
  • Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory
  • SZA – Ctrl
  • Kelela – Take Me Apart
  • Jlin – Black Origami
  • Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
  • Sylvan Esso – What Now
  • Fever Ray – Plunge
  • Zola Jesus – Okovi
  • LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
  • St Vincent – Masseduction
  • Fleet Foxes – Crack Up
  • Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
  • Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 3
  • Lorde – Melodrama
  • Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
  • Neil Cicierega – Mouth Moods

Comedy Specials

  • Vir Das – Abroad Understanding
  • Rory Scovel Tries Stand-Up For The First Time
  • Patton Oswalt – Annihilation
  • Hasan Minhaj – Homecoming King
  • Chris Gethard – Career Suicide

Comedians I saw

  • Chris Gethard
  • Chris Locke
  • Chris Robinson
  • Gina Yashere
  • Hari Kondabolu
  • Kyle Kinane
  • Liza Treyger
  • Max Silvestri
  • Morgan Murphy
  • Rory Scovel
  • Roy Wood Jr.
  • Sara Hennessey
  • Sasheer Zamata
  • W. Kamau Bell
  • John Mulaney

Video Games

  • Cuphead

I guess now you know what I did with my time.

How did I make it through that entire entry without using the portmanteau “Leongerie”?

For the first time in what feels like an eternity, I’ve got solid New Year’s plans. A big fancy do at a friend’s house. It’s gonna be a super classy affair, suits and dresses, champagne at midnight, people trying to pronounce hors d’oeuvres. All sorts of swank. That’s not the entirety of the party, however. There’ll be different levels (in multiple senses). The main floor will be all about dressing up and the basement plounge/private rooms will be for dressing down. Our finest intimate apparel (and possibly less). This sparked a thought that I haven’t been able to quash. Is there a male equivalent for lingerie?

Sure, there’s such a thing as nice underwear for guys. I’ve been systematically trying to cull my boring old cotton boxers for the past year or two. I’ve bought soft spandex blends, micro-modale and compression fabrics. All in the service of greater comfort. Sure, they look nicer, they usually have some kind of segmentation that I’ll guessing helps accentuates my assets, but the primary motivation has been comfort. They feel great. I’m sure good lingerie is comfortable, but I’m not sure that’s the greatest motivation for wearing it. Lingerie looks fancy, expensive, intricate. It’s supposed to be sexy apparel and I’m not sure that nice undies really stack up in the same fashion.

I asked a friend for his opinion. He said perhaps some form of chest harness could be roughly equivalent. We thought about it some more and realised that wasn’t really the same. A harness is certainly intimate apparel and has sexual connotations, but it’s a more specific stream of sexual interest. Lingerie, while of course being greatly varied within the category, does have a catch all of sexy implication. Lacy, embroidered, shiny, what have you, it’s not quite the same as the specificity of bondage gear. Darn (though perhaps not. I can’t imagine woollen knickers inducing much in the way of lust).

The “why” seems incredibly obvious. Lingerie, as it was designed, fit into the male gaze at large. Women then (and frustratingly still in a widespread manner) were perceived as objects or commodities. Lingerie, then, was a way of making your “assets” more appealing (commodititties, as it were). It was for women to sex themselves up and snag a man, which in those days (when women were largely forbidden from the workforce) was one of few revenue streams available to them. Say it with me: We live in a patriarchal society. I’m in no way trying to imply that women these days are without agency, but we’re still influenced by societal foundations that teach women that their value is supplicant to men’s. It’s bullshit, and trying to unravel the dichotomy of lingerie as sexual empowerment or a tool of the male gaze is a minefield for a more thoughtful essay than this. Of course men can exist as sexual entities, but that’s more often tied to physicality, status and power. Skimpy undergarments are an afterthought.

In lieu of building a better body by Sunday, I think the answer is that sheer confidence would fit the atmosphere better than sheer garments. If I choose to visit an area of more intimate dress, to take comfort in myself rather than worrying about my lack of embroidered underwear. Male lingerie could be mere years away from the mainstream. With the societal loosening of strict gender conformity, who knows? Until then, I’ll hedge my bets and leave the grey cotton undies at home.

Maybe I just don’t like movies after all.

A spoiler warning for the new Star Wars film. I may or may not spend the whole entry writing about it, but at this point I don’t know.

It was just pretty okay. Not terrible by any means, but neither was second film in the new trilogy the second coming. I like the mentality of burning everything down and starting anew. I like how they handled Luke’s character. I’m glad they’ve rightfully made the story about the new generation rather than the gratuitous fan service and hero worship of having Skywalker come back and anime style speed blitz everyone. Star Wars films have always had this sort of winking overly theatrical space operatic atmosphere and this one felt a little more down to Earth. It makes sense to update the franchise to a modern day aesthetic. At the same time (and this (like the rest of this entry) is just a personal taste thing), I thought a bunch of the dialogue was a bit too quippy. Cheesy “oh no you di’n’t” style comebacks and generally poorly written lines. I dunno, was I looking for a bunch of iconic quotes? I didn’t really catch any. Has the dialogue in Star Wars ever been its strong suit? Not sure. I’m pretty ambivalent to porgs. I thought they had more screen time than necessary, but Disney wants to sell toys, right? I like the interplay between Rey and Ben, which continues to be the most compelling part of the series. A couple of female characters felt like throwaway tropes used to buffer the male characters and teach them lessons. Laura Dern was great in her role, but her role felt like a proxy Leia. The whole casino planet felt quite flashy, unnecessary and hollow. A lack of great substance, but merely used to introduce a couple of new characters and some horse critters. I was very happy to hear about Rey’s lineage being entirely insignificant (and I hope they stick to that. Isn’t the story more inspirational if she’s come from nothing rather than descended from some royal blood line? It seems to be the way they’re going with most of the new cast). I would’ve been happier if it’d come in at two hours instead of two and a half. I was expecting a lot from Rian Johnson and came away pretty disappointed. I’m by no means a big Star Wars fan. I enjoyed the last one far more than I thought I would. I might see the next one, but I’m not super enthused about it. These films aren’t really made for me and that’s fine.

Cool, that’s probably all the Star Wars talk I have energy for.

New Jurassic World movie looks really dumb. Like they turned that stupid Game of Thrones episode about capturing a zombie into a feature film. I’ll probably pay to see it and be incredibly unhappy with my decision.

New Avengers movie looks bloated and quite un-good. Once again, it’s a personal preference thing. I think I’m just more into smaller scale stories that focus on character development and progression. The large scale Marvel films have become this absurd juggernaut (, bitch) of characters who all need screen time and a couple of smart-ass lines. How many characters are in this new movie? Are they all gonna have to talk? Or have specific character moments? Surely we’ve already discarded the notion that anyone gives a shit about Hawkeye? Is the “cataclysmic” conclusion of Civil War gonna be resolved in a five minute conversation? Couldn’t they have done that in the first place? Then again, let’s not shit ourselves that the comics were any better. Colossal crossover events were always a tad silly.

You’d think after all that Christmas cheer I’d be in a more positive mood. Perhaps my cup overrunneth and now I’ve got stains to clean out of the carpet.

Sleighing it.

This place has descended into chaos and I love it. It’s a total mess, which couldn’t be more indicative of our frenetic and magical cohabitation. It feels like Christmas, but more so it feels like our Christmas. We have our weird little blue tree with its Star Lord topper. The central heating is causing our hand drawn pictures to periodically fall to the floor (blue tak and all that). Our sense of time has fallen away after a night out at a friend’s place. There’s no structure and bedlam is the word of the day. Bedlamham?

No festive ham, but we are having ribs. This recipe, to be exact. We had an 11am Skype date with my girlfriend’s mum, so waking up at 10am I got to work prepping the ribs. I lathered them in garlic, salt and pepper, then mixed the sauce. It couldn’t have been easier, just a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s bbq sauce and 180ml of coke. Put the ribs in the slow cooker, drenched them in the sauce and left them on low. They’re five hours in and smell divine. They’re gonna be unbelievable flanked by sweet potato fries and maybe some broccoli if we’re feeling sporty.

My girlfriend got me a nice little stay at home kit for Christmas. It had dark hot chocolate mix and home made cookies/marshmallows that one of our baking-ly gifted friends put together. We started the morning off with special hot chocolates, mixed with a liberal application of Baileys cherry chocolate. If this all sounds idyllic, keep in mind that it involved me accidentally tripping one of the fuses in the kitchen. The guy who lives downstairs (and thus has access to the fuse box) is away for some amount of time (hopefully just today) so a section of our place is without power. Oopsies. I had to plug the microwave/kettle into the hallway. Accordingly, making my breakfast meant crouching down on the floor in my giraffe onesie, taking my porridge out of the microwave to stir in peanut butter, then putting it back in. Looking around I saw the stack of pictures that’d fallen down, the kitchen table used as storage space, the microwave and kettle on the hallway floor, our weird little tree. I smelt the ribs cooking away. I don’t know that I’ve felt more at home in a while.

To truly go with the theme, we’re gonna have our own little home made Jewish Christmas. We’ve still got Kill Bill: Volume 2 in the chamber ready to fire off at will. In lieu of ordering Chinese food, we’re gonna cook up a stir fry and pig out (before pigging out on pig ribs later on). We have no reason to put on clothes for hours and only leisure on our schedule. It may be lawless chaos, but I have no complaints.

Wherever you’re at, whatever you’re up to. I hope you’re double-fisting merriment and cheer.