It’s a bumpy ride, but someone’s gotta do it

I’ve spent enough hours procrastinating that if I don’t start now, I never will.

Do you think if a Power Ranger was in the hospital having an injury treated they’d be all “It’s Morphine Time”? Thank you. I’ll be here for the next 30 minutes.

It’s a long weekend and we’re going on a road trip. My girlfriend and I are renting a car with our friend and driving to Stratford, Ontario. By the sounds of it, Stratford is a cute little town with a thriving theatre community. Touristy, but non-offensively so. My dream is that we’ll find a homey diner where a matronly old waitress will call all of us “darling”. The portions will be both gratuitous and delicious, especially flanked by a spearmint milkshake. We’ll walk around thrift stores and antique spots, seeing weird and slightly odd relics. Maybe we’ll walk around and read a plaque or two, then grab a quick last bite before driving back to Toronto. We’ll listen to something we all know and sing along on the ride back. By the time we return to the city, the sun will have set and we’ll feel comfortably pooped from the long day.

Sounds ideal, right?

I used to love owning a car. Sure, it meant semi-regular maintenance and uncomfortably regular fill ups, but that kind of freedom on tap was amazing. If we wanted to drive 40 minutes out of town to visit a neat cafe, we could. We had the ability to go somewhere for an excuse to hang out in motion. Changing scenery meant there was always something to talk about. There’s something reassuring about the exact kind of privacy a car affords. It’s your own space where you can freely see the world around you, but you’re out of earshot. I guess it’s like how houses protect you from the elements, that sort of security. Except a car is security you can take with you. I don’t miss having to think when I’m stuck in traffic. I actually quite appreciate public transit in Toronto. Still, having unlimited access to an automobile was a delightful privilege.

It’s also swell just to pursue a different location. It’s a journey, an adventure, like all those 80s family movies I was talking about the other day. Who knows what strange phenomenon we’ll uncover. Maybe we’ll run into a local urban legend, or find ourselves high tailing it from the police on a high octane misadventure. Maybe we’ll accidentally kill a guy, flay him and dissolve his skin in acid. Who knows where the day will take us? Maybe we’ll even find that matronly old waitress who’ll call us “darling”. The opportunities are nigh endless.

It’s so easy to get stuck in your habits (like clumsy nuns) and it’s easy to get stuck in a rut when life is nothing but habitual (like workaholic nuns). I’ve found over the past few years that breaking up the norm a little here and there often releases tensions I didn’t realise I was carrying. It’s like we have our defences up about certain things at all times, because that aspect of auto pilot helps process the world around us more efficiently. Toronto is very busy. Automatically filtering out people who’d impede your route makes it easier to get around faster. In Stratford though, I Have My Doubts it’ll be as hectic a pace. Maybe having the time to smell the roses will also be time to reflect. Maybe I’ll reflect on roses, or get mirrored rose tinted glasses to make my view of the world that much more insular and palatable.

Maybe I’ll even check up places to buy acid in Stratford. Just to know, y’know?

I wonder if Matthew McConaughey has ever tried marmite…

Lately I’ve done a pretty decent job of finding a topic and staying on it. I’m formally congratulating myself on this development before I dive into a fragmented mess of an entry.

Good job.

Honey, I Shrunk The Kids holds up. I’m not saying that it’s landmark cinema. I *am* saying that it’s a silly family adventure film that’s both harmless and entertaining. The plot is dumb and contrived, they need to give themselves a little push to get over the finish line, but it’s fun to watch. At it’s heart, the move has a simple concept that allows them to write a bunch of neat little scenes and make great sets. It’s not the kind of film that holds up to scrutiny, but that seems like a fool’s errand at best. It’s neat to see the late 80s creature animation of “Antie” and the inexplicable scorpion. Does everyone have a scorpion in their backyard? I don’t care. It looked cool and gave birth to a choice action sequence. The film considered its environment which gave us silly stuff like a Lego brick being an ideal spot to sleep, a fallen cigarette making for perfect torches and an errant baseball somehow being the missing element between a working and non-functional shrink ray. The parental relationships were oddly mature for a kid’s film and the whole thing was a joy to watch.

I kind of miss 80s adventure movies. I’m thinking stuff like The Goonies or The Wizard. Just kids going on wacky, unconventional journeys and adapting to unfamiliar situations. They’re essentially less like structured films and more a collection of scenes they wanted to write, then loosely tied together. I don’t care. I love the Power Glove. It’s so bad. Even for someone who’s as much of a grumpy buzzkill as I am, occasionally it’s fun to switch your brain off and watch light conflict and bright colours. People coming together after learning a valuable lesson about friendship. After all, the real adventure was the friends we made along the way. Right?

Do you remember being a kid and just falling over? Losing your balance for no good reason? I used to stumble all the time. I’m sure it was a matter of getting used to the dimensions of my body. Equilibrum was earned, not given. This isn’t super relevant and I don’t have much to say on it. I just thought that was kinda funny. In general I move quickly these days. I figure as a blanket notion that the faster I move, the more things I can do. The other day in the kitchen I was walking and reaching over for the fridge door. I sort of started keeling over before reorienting myself. I guess that’s what made me think of it. By the way, I was never a bouncing baby boy. I’m quite certain that I hit the ground with a *thunk* and not a *boing*. Just like everyone else.

I realised today that I wouldn’t be able to recognise a DJ Khaled song. To me, Khaled is just that guy who won’t go down on his girlfriend. That’s his enduring legacy and, as such, I’m pretty okay not listening to his music. Nothing of value was lost.

The other day my mum was bringing me marmite from NZ and it got seized by customs. That’s a bummer. Quelle betrayal, right? I was relying on the shipment. I’ve been out of marmite for some time and it’s kind of a comfort food. I expressed my disappointment on Facebook and friends didn’t really get it. To them it’s a silly, absurdly salty prank nutella. To me, I dunno, it’s more evocative of different stages in life. I remember feeling incredibly proud when I made marmite and cheese on toast in our toaster oven. It felt like one of the first things, as a child, that I cooked. I think of eating marmite and chip sandwiches with my best friend at his old house. I’d never tasted the combination and it was eye opening. The different bold flavours and textures. I even recall the white and grey penguin placemats we ate off. They were wearing tuxedos. I think about all those times I came back drungry from nights out and fixed myself marmite and cheese toasties. Or when I started making elaborate brunches with marmite and poached eggs on toast, complete with cheese, avocado and sundried tomatoes. Marmite was a big part of those dishes. Marmite has been a big part of my life. It’s more than a novelty food stuff, on some level it’s part of my history. I have every intention of making it part of my future. Luckily a co-worker is heading back to Australia soon and she’s promised to pick me up some Kiwi marmite.

Do you think when Matthew McConaughey is happy All’s right alright alright with the world?

More like #metoosoon

This is mostly gonna be another Posts From Facebook entry, because I’ve been characteristically distractible today. To start with, I posted the following status:

“It’s kind of neat that in all the media I’ve seen about Louis CK doing a surprise set, none of them have given him any quarter.”

Which is true. At least from the pieces I’ve noticed from my usual channels (and that’s a big spot of bias right there) his return has been overwhelmingly condemned. Whether it was The AV Club, Vulture, or Dana Schwartz at EW, it wasn’t shown in a favourable light. A friend of mine chimed in with her support for, well, the lack of support. I agreed with her, but also didn’t want us to go off the notion that the rest of the world agreed with me. We all live in bubbles and my community is as insular as the rest. Anyway, here’s what I posted:

“Yeah. At the same time if we’re being realistic, while these elite media organisations are giving him shit, I don’t honestly think he’s been truly condemned by the mainstream. He got a standing ovation. If he dropped a Netflix special tomorrow, a lot of people would watch it.

While the movement is doing some really important stuff, and opening the conversation to create a ripple effect, I think it’d be incredibly out of touch to think it’s actually dented mainstream societal views. What we need is a total overhaul of dominant power structures. What we have is organisations doing the bare minimum they can to seem progressive as long as it doesn’t affect their bottom line.

Notice how so many people mention the “amazing” apology he made, but fail to remember how he fucking denied it to his death until there was absolutely zero doubt and then came forward with how contrite he was. If he was sincerely sorry he would’ve started with the apology.

People have a sickeningly short memory. Remember how we all ranted about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill or how inhumane those TSA full body scanners were? It takes virtually nothing for people to swallow their moral objections if it means maintaining the status quo or continuing to have the things they want.

We’ve talked about this before, right? I was a colossal CK fan. I 100% thought he was one of the good ones. There’s a not insubstantial part of me who’d love nothing more than for him to pull back, do the work and eventually have a redemptive arc.

There’s a lot more to that notion though. “Doing the work” means more than empty lip service because of his career being on the line. It means extensive therapy, putting his money and influence behind acts who wouldn’t otherwise have access to those audiences. It means making a meaningful push towards reforming the horrible industry imbalance he was abhorrently complicit in. It means owning up to his bullshit and the lives/careers he’s ruined in a tangible manner. It means using his platform to educate those who idolise him on why his actions were so horrible and what consent is. That’s not remotely even the extent of it. I don’t fully know what redemption for him looks like, but I know that it’s exponentially more than taking 10 months off to sit with his money and write more dick jokes.

He’s a very talented comedian and writer, but those two things mean absolutely nothing if he’s a rotting piece of shit who’s learned zero from what he’s done. I want to be completely clear that no part of me thinks he *deserves* redemption. I hope none of the above gave that impression.”

It’s hard, because society at present has moved past integrity. I’m not saying that words were ever more than empty rhetoric, but they certainly ring hollow these days. Even corruption is irrelevant in a society where the truth is subjective. We’re living in a world where the only things that matter are preaching to the converted and good PR. And the PR doesn’t even need to be *that* good. You just need a receptive crowd who’ll parrot whatever you’ve given them as if it’s gospel. The “right direction” is all a matter of perspective and as such, doesn’t mean a whole lot. Prejudice is so often welcomed as “just saying what we’re all thinking”. Here’s the thing, if a bigot is just saying what you’re thinking, you’re probably a bigot.

Just sayin’.

Not exactly how we wanted our meal to go South

Here’s the anatomy of a shitty dining experience.

It starts well enough. You and your partner get a super cute little booth near the back. You almost have your own palanquin, which is all kinds of neat. You look down at the menu it looks great. I mean, you’ve been there before. You already know the menu is great. You’re not drinking, but you peruse the extensive bourbon menu for kicks. It’s kinda neat that they have something they specialise in.

The server comes around and asks what you’d like to drink. After you mention that you’re not drinking alcohol, his face physically pales. I get it, I do. If your table isn’t drinking, that means tips will generally be lower. That sucks. Still, you ask him what tasty non-alcoholic drinks they have. His face reboots to a neutral resting position and he says that there’s house made iced tea and lemonade. You get the iced tea. Your partner already got the lemonade and it was pretty damn great. The server returns with your iced tea and it’s similarly great. He’s kind of blunt and wanders off. That’s the last you’ll see of your server for the next 15 minutes.

A table is seated next to you. They tuck into the menu while you wait. Another server comes out to take your order. Your partner asks about some of the gluten free options. Your server disappears for another ten minutes. Eventually the original server comes back and takes your order. Buck a shuck is on, so you get six oysters just to try them. You’re in the process of acquiring a taste for this maritime snot and six seems a suitable number. Your girlfriend gets a small cornbread sample. You both order your mains. You order the seafood pasta. It’s been maybe a few years since you last ordered pasta at a restaurant and it sounds kind of exciting. The menu promises a creamy 8 spice mysterious voodoo sauce, which sounds enigmatic and delectable. Your girlfriend orders the ribs, marinated with honey, soya and rosemary, oven baked with bourbon BBQ sauce. Right? RIGHT? They sound awesome.

Your server comes back five minutes later with the oysters and you’re stoked with the quick service. He takes the order of the table next to you. You reorient yourself with how to eat oysters without filling your mouth with barnacle style sea grit. Your girlfriend’s cornbread arrives soon and it’s everything she wants. This is all fine, right? You will not see your server again for maybe another half hour. The table next to you, however, is already most of the way through their mains.

Your mains arrive and they’re, well, broadly uninspiring. The corn that comes with the ribs is charred black and pretty dry. The ribs themselves, those marinated with honey, soya and rosemary, oven baked with bourbon BBQ sauce ribs are also dry. What’d you think when you read the above description? Did you expect something closer to this? I’m sure you did. I’m sure you also expected maybe more than six ribs for $24? The pasta is soft and dense, but without extensive stirring it’s dry as hell. The creamy sauce is all down the bottom. After a good stir the pasta is well covered. It delivers on the texture of quality pasta. There are a bunch of small calamari rings and maybe four shrimps. The sauce is creamy, it’s lovingly spicy. It’s also bland as hell. The calamari tastes like chewing. The prawns are beautifully dense and juicy, but have no flavour outside of pepper. The dish had so much potential and squandered the most important part of it.

Neither of you are particularly pleased with your meals, but you halfheartedly go through them. Well, your partner ends up leaving most of it to take home. Nobody checks in to see how your meal is going, because it’s roughly another 30-40 minutes before anyone comes back to your table, and only after you’ve pushed the plates right to the side. It takes another ten minutes for a different server to check if you need a bill and another ten minutes before they let you pay. $80 seems a pretty steep cost for the experience, but whatever. If the quality of the food lived up to the promise of the menu, it would’ve been totally fine.

So here’s the deal. I’m making a point not to mention the name of the restaurant because honestly, both of us like the place. We’ve had great experiences there before and honestly, I think it was an off night. I have a really hard time complaining at restaurants and I’ll usually swallow my pride then commence shit talking as soon as I’m out the door. My partner talked to the host and got the low down. They were severely understaffed, given that it was a Monday and a surprise 40th birthday party turned up 30 minutes before we did. Otherwise, we were pretty much the first in the restaurant. The host apologised for the server and said that, despite being busy, that was no excuse for the shitty service. It was kind of gutting that it was my girlfriend’s birthday and we were both pretty excited about a tasty meal. We don’t eat out much and usually go for cheap eats when we do. A nice dining experience is something that means a lot to us when it happens.

I’ll get over all of this pretty quickly. It happened, bad meals are a part of life. We’re also not gonna blacklist the place either. They do a bitchin’ brunch and I’d be remiss if I went without that from here on out. Still, it’s okay to be disappointed when something fails to meet your expectations. Especially when it’s your girlfriend’s birthday.

It’s fine, we bought a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, I put a candle in it and sung her Happy Birthday. We’ll survive.

I’m obviously in a mid life crisis. What else would explain the Roboraptor?

What do I do, folks? Where do I go from here?

Of course I’m meaning both in the sense of this entry and my wider life. I’m kind of brickwalled right now. Everything outside of my job is fine, but that’s holding everything else back. It sucks, but I’m getting increasingly tired of being miserable all the time for no good reason. Being unfulfilled in my work seems a trite reason for that to leech into the rest of my waking hours, but I guess it’s important to me deep down. I’ve been indoctrinated into a mindset where the thing I do to pay my bills has some relevance to my self-confidence. If I don’t feel like a useful, productive person in the eight to ten hours I spend under one roof five days a week, it makes me question everything else.

Yet again, that sounds dumb right? At the same time my brain chimes in with a what form of integrity do you have if you’ve been seeking a change for several years and haven’t made it happen? It subconsciously erodes the value of everything else because it all seems connected. Being uninspired at my desk for an absurd amount of waking hours makes the past few years kind of seem like a waste. What have I done outside of maintaining the status quo. I’ve had a cluster of tiny personal projects that don’t feel like a substantive mass when they’re gathered. I’m not saying that I haven’t done anything much outside of work because of work, but it doesn’t help.

In an ideal world, this pervasive ennui would be enough to ignite a fire under my arse. Oh, you’re bored at work? Why not funnel the lack of creative output into creative pursuits? On paper, that works. In reality, the lack of meaningful output makes it harder to summon the energy for creativity. It’s draining, day by day. At this stage I’m coming home exhausted with little enough spark to make dinner, let alone anything worthwhile. It’s gotten to the point where weekends have become this little oasis because I can take a vacation from who I am during the week. Well, that’s kinda uncharitable. It’s not that I hate who I am during the week, it’s that I find it increasingly challenging to get in touch with myself underneath the layers of disillusionment, fatigue, anxiety, disappointment, discontentment and other chaff. This one thing is bringing everything else down with it. I feel tethered to aiming low and it’s killing my ability to look beyond. Like I’m tightening up all my muscles defensively and feeling confused when it affects my mobility.

It’s been years of giving myself little pep talks, telling myself I can do better and failing to deliver. I’m quite sure that motivation isn’t an infinite resource. Time’s marching on. My brain and body are depleting with each passing year. My ability to move with the flow is stagnating. I desperately want to find direction before I’d even think of bringing a kid into this world. If I’m not happy with who and where I am, I’ve got no business burdening an innocent child with the ramifications of my personal baggage. What a way to prematurely stunt their growth. I think at the core of it too, I’m not ready to adopt the level of selflessness being a parent would require. If I’ve been thinking of myself for this long and still not managed to get anywhere, what chance would I have of finding where I need to be when I don’t have time to think about myself? That’s a surefire way of breeding a spectacularly effusive resentment. A recipe for waking up in twenty years oozing with silent rage.

I feel like this entry hasn’t taken me anywhere, but it has taken half an hour to get there. “Just be better” has a hollow ring when it lacks a substantive swing behind it.

Maybe the interview wasn’t that bad after all?

Hoard is where the heart is

I’m extremely lucky that I was raised too pragmatically to be a hoarder.

I know the potential is inside of me. As a kid I practically drooled my way through Consumers Distributing catalogues. Infomercials really worked on me and I swear I still know the Aircore infomercial song. No, I’d never need to make chilli in my freezer, but at least I want the choice, goddammit. I love eclectic single use items and, if I had all the dollars and a bottomless bag of holding, I’d get each and every one. I’d single handedly keep Sky Mall afloat. It’d be like one of those fetishised shots in action movies where they pull open a hidden compartment in a closet and it’s racks on racks on racks of guns. Mine would instead be an array of dog pedometers and automatic melon ballers.

Unsurprisingly, I love thrift stores. Even if I’m not planning on buying anything, window shopping lets me imagine fantasy scenarios where I’d have a use/space for all of that junk. Sometimes when I’m feeling very perky, I’ll actually buy the object in question and bring my fantasy to life. Which is a long way of saying that I now own a Roboraptor. This thing is fucking enormous. It’s longer than the cat. It also terrifies the cat, which brings me no end of joy. I remembered how Roboraptor was the hottest Christmas toy 10-15 years ago. They used to retail for something like $140-$200 back in NZ. I bought this one for $7. At that price, I was practically losing money by not buying it. Right? RIGHT?

Okay, so after getting it, discovering that it still worked and loading it with batteries, I found out that it was missing a remote. This means I’m missing out on being able to control it, or putting it on certain modes like hunting or prowling. Still, for $7 and batteries, I got myself something neat to bring to parties. I’m, not drinking at the moment and I would’ve spent more than that on alcohol. In its basic demo mode, Roboraptor (I’ve named mine Nigel) walks around, is sound sensitive and sometimes lunges at shit. It’s cute and goofy, and pretty neat to have wandering the floor. I know this because I brought it to a space themed party last night. I figured it was appropriate as a sort of ersatz space parrot. I carried it like a toy dog and occasionally set it down and let it run rampant. It was pretty fond of running into corners and hanging out. Each to their own.

I like Nigel a lot (I know, I named it and now I’m attached). Now I’m at a crossroads. Do I pump more money into it and buy a second hand controller? Or do I keep it as is, bring it to another party or two then give it to some kid? It’s a hard call. Nigel isn’t exactly the pinnacle of robotic technology (as a 13 year old toy). I have no doubt that I’d quickly get bored of it and it’d sit on a shelf taking up space. Still, are there real opportunities to use Nigel to bring joy to various scenarios? Could it be fun camping? When I’m bored at work? If we ever end up babysitting? Could it be a great present for some young child? Depending how much use I’d get out of it, $40 could be a pretty reasonable cost for the benefits.

I wonder if Value Village would have second hand Aircores…

An egg foo and his money are soon parted

Last night I wanted a night home with movies and mediocre takeout.

I’d like to take this entire entry to talk about the takeout, because I think this particular brand of mediocrity is worth mentioning. To set the scene, I was unsure of what I wanted to eat. I’d just had Korean the other day, so I felt sheepish getting that again. I didn’t want pizza or burgers. For once I wasn’t in a soup mood, so pho was out. I wanted something hot, so no sushi. It was a conundrum. My girlfriend suggested checking out the churrasco spot close to us and that sounded ideal. It may have been, but it was closed. On my sad Charlie Brown walk back, I remembered that there was a small Chinese/Polynesian place close by. Having grown up around Polynesian cultures, I was keen to see what they had. I’d always looked at the unassuming spot and very much assumed that it was a drug front. 100%. There was rarely anyone in there, the opening hours seemed weird, and it’d somehow stuck around for the past few years without any constant stream of business that I could see. My mind and heart were set.

I scouted the menu on the front window. As far as I could tell, it had nothing Polynesian whatsoever. It was the most typical westernised Chinese takeout I’d seen. Egg Foo Young, Chop Suey, Lemon Chicken, etc. They even had combos for one. I stopped expecting anything of quality and decided I was in for the adventure wherever it took me. I went in. The front counter was staffed by a gawky white teenager. He seemed uncomfortable and a little unsure of how things worked. I didn’t know whether to chalk that up to being a teen or the drug front thing. Out back was a pretty decently sized, but scantly populated kitchen. I think there was one dude. Someone else was waiting for her takeout. She seemed unperturbed. I grabbed a menu to make an informed decision.

The prices were cheap. Absurdly so. I’m not sure if any of the mains were over $10. Everything hovered around the $7.50 mark. I was in a shitty Chinese food and Netflix mood, so it couldn’t have been more perfect. Rather than commit to one thing, I decided on one of the combos. I was curious about whether the food there was legit or not, so I wanted to try as much of the menu as possible. $7.50 for an egg roll, chicken fried rice, sweet & sour pork and sweet & sour chicken. I was expecting tiny portions of each, but it’s not like I needed a ton of heavy food. For ~$10, my expectations couldn’t have been lower.

I went to make my order and the teen seemed intimidated. I asked him about the portion size. Would I need any sides? He thought to himself for a second, looked around and stammered a bit. “Uh, I mean. Um. There’s some food. I mean, a bit of food. I dunno. It’s probably enough. Maybe? Probably.” I get his concerns. He doesn’t innately know my appetite. You’d think that’d be his first question though. He seemed relieved enough that he didn’t have to immediately speak again that I was loathe to ask more questions. Kid had been through hell trying to formulate a simple response. I settled on the combo with no sides, figuring at worst I could snack all night. He spoke up again. “Um. The food will be a while. There’s gonna be a wait.” I asked him how long. “I don’t. I don’t know. Maybe ten minutes? Fifteen to twenty maybe?” I said that was fine. It takes time to cook stuff after all. I pulled out my debit card. He sort of looked at it, then looked back at me, clueless. “One moment” he said, before walking out back.

He brought another man out. This guy was also a little skittish, but very friendly. He operated the debit machine, which was clearly a high level manoeuvre. He once again warned me that there would be a wait. I asked him how long. “Fifteen to twenty minutes perhaps?” He replied. Once again, I said that was fine. Did people usually expect pre-cooked meals? Why did they have to preface their service so much? It wasn’t busy, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they had phone orders. I paid (all of $10 after tax and tip) and sat back down. A minute later the other customer left with her food. A couple of minutes later someone else entered, unaware of what she was walking into.

The guy from the back walks out again and warns me it’s gonna be a little while, did I want a water or soda for the wait? I said I was fine. I had my phone and iPod. I’m used to killing time. It was another in a chain of mildly weird interactions. The people were perfectly polite, but it was like people skills really weren’t first hand knowledge to them. Like they’d been rote learned and were having a clunky time putting them into practice. My food arrived and the kitchen dude was very apologetic about the wait. I checked my clock. It’d been all of nine minutes. I thanked them and walked home with a surprisingly heavy bag of food.

The food was, for the most part, unremarkable. There was, however, a lot of it. The egg roll was basically deep fried mung beans. The sweet & sour chicken balls were pretty much drab, spherical corn dogs. The chicken fried rice was voluminous, but bland. Dry and without sauce. There were chunks of something soft that could have maybe passed for chicken, but were in reality totally unidentifiable. The sweet & sour pork? Half of the pieces were just bones. I was served deep fried bones.

I am certain that this place is a drug front. I’m not certain I didn’t eat another human being last night.

6/10. Their prices are very reasonable.