It had a Julia Roberts grin and everything.

I know I often joke that all I do here is talk about poop, but today I want to do just that. I mean, wanting to talk about dropping bum bombs is never far from my mind, but occasionally I write something about pop-culture or what I’m eating. Recent entries have focused on the ins and outs of keto. This one’s all about the outs, because today I dropped a game changer. Enough preamble, let’s get into this.

I’m mildly obsessed with what comes out my poop chute. Since childhood I’ve never ceased to find the hilarity in shitting. My first level up came when I discovered how to really poop. The raised ankles technique. Talk about a game changer. Where I’d previously strained and struggled to cleanse my intestines, I found a smooth sortie at my disposal (pun intended, obviously). I had my first metaphorical taste of slick bowel action and I wanted more. I looked into foods with high fibre content and folded them into my diet. Cabbage was a godsend. I oddly discovered it when a bunch of us went out for Korean. As an entree they put down a plate of chopped raw cabbage and QP mayonnaise. I loved it. I started steaming, roasting and sometimes downing it raw. I adapted chia seeds into my porridge. I started drinking coffee. The pieces came together and the faeces flowed easily. Bliss.

Keto has constricted my stream like a noose around my anus. It’s been hard to reckon with the loss of what had once been a point of pride. It’s not my first time mentioning this, so you know I mean it. This was one of the primary tools in my arse-nal. I’ve been recently reaching for something that just isn’t there. Sitting in my misery, waxing nostalgic for those days of long soft-serve strands. Better, more innocent times.

Today I had a breakthrough. Maybe the psyllium husk is kicking in. Or perhaps I drank the right quantity (read: lots) of coffee. In any case I felt a familiar burbling in my bowels and got excited. For some reason the lyrics “I’m gonna do a poo” popped into my head, to the tune of “We’re Going to the Zoo”. I, a nearly 31 year old man, giggled to myself. I was eager to unload. I sat down, raised my heels and grabbed my ankles. I didn’t strain, it all came naturally. I looked down and saw it. In the bowl there was a cute little mild curve, like the mouth of a smiley emoticon. I had a revelation. I felt the next package making its way down. I let a little come through, then pinched off a small nugget. It landed perpendicular to the smile, directly above it. Was I doing this? I tilted my buttocks to the right and moved an inch back in my seat. I pinched off another dot. It landed just to the top left of the first one. I took a breath, shifted my buttocks to the left and pinched out the last dot. I waited a second, heart racing, then looked down at what I’d done. Had I accomplished my grand design? My Mona Lisa Smile?

🙂

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They’re pretending to be something they’re not. Doesn’t that make Autobots as deceptive as Decepticons?

Do you know what’s cute? Looking back at stories you wrote as a child. That’s cute. I’ll always remember one of my most salient pieces of kid fiction: “Optimus Prime met Megatron. The Decepticons shot the Autobots with their lasers. The Autobots died.” There’s a clear arc. The stage is set, characters established. We see the characters take action and overcome adversity. Then there’s a satisfying conclusion. I couldn’t write better these days if I tried. Do you know what’s not cute? Looking back at any writing after the age of ten.

Teenage stuff? Oh geez it’s dreadful. I remember, as an adult, finding my diary from age 15. It was firmly couched in the exact time and age to be classified as “emo”. Lots of “I like all the girls, but they don’t like me. Something something System of a Down. Why do adults treat teenagers like kids? We’re way more mature than they give us credit for. Man, getting drunk is so cool.” That wasn’t verbatim, but not far off. Of course there’s no value in criticising our past selves, but fuck it’s fun to rip them new orifices. It’s so easy to shred the versions of us who bled hormones, who felt like adults undergoing constant body dysmorphia. When we could understand more of the world around us, without realising how much wider the world was than our viewpoint captured. There’s a question I oft see floated “would you restart your life with the knowledge and experience you have now?” Each time it’s those teenage years that give me pause. Could all the intelligence in the world counteract the ever-present fear of cumming in your pants at any moment?

A different experience is reading your writing from later. As a 25 year old, you’re technically considered an adult. I’m barely considering myself an adult going on 31. I still don’t consider whoever I was at 25 the kind of bloke who would’ve paid taxes (I mean, I did. No need to come at me, IRD). At 25 I flew to the U.S. with a bunch of mates, rented an RV and drove across The States. Today I stumbled across our old travel blog and read it again. It was about what you’d expect. Some parts were bafflingly hard to digest, either in message or perspective. Certain references are too insular, based around group dynamics or New Zealand memes. Others have fallen by the pop-cultural wayside. A 2012 Twilight reference seems a lot less inspired in 2018. Some viewpoints still needed a few years to slow cook before becoming fit for human consumption. In a few parts it was just poorly written or made scant sense. It’s nice to know some things haven’t changed.

At other moments I was surprised to find passages that read well. Vocabulary I’ve since forgotten or cycled out. There was a creativity and excitement about the world I found refreshing. Occasional lucid moments that still resonate. Most pieces were basically journal entries (what’s changed?), but I found workarounds to lighten them up. One of them I did time based mental snapshots, using certain moments to create a larger picture of the day. Our New Orleans adventure was structured as a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. It was silly and gratuitous, but remains a neat read.

I can’t deny that any of it happened, it’s all there for the decades to lay bare. On the other hand, why would I care? None of us would be who we are without the steps we took. If they didn’t leave an imprint, what would be the point?

It’s their fault I can’t look at corn without imagining a typewriter.

I talk about rewatching movies all the time. No doubt because I endlessly scour the internet and live in a cosy bubble of nostalgia. I’m a colossal child (both in scale and mass. If I were actually a child in this body it’d be some André the Giant shit) and the notion of getting back in touch with the media that influenced and informed my adult persona holds a certain allure. The ratio, however, of talking about it and delivering on it is notoriously one-sided. So much of my viewing is mood dependent. Hell, sometimes I just can’t bring myself to engage with a narrative. If I’m not paying attention to what I’m watching, why watch it at all?

What I’m saying is, last night I watched Space Jam with a group of friends.

You know what? I’m willing to go on record and say it held up. Not as landmark cinematic genius. Everything it did, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? did better a decade earlier. It wasn’t a phenomenal film or anything, but I wasn’t viewing it as I did as a kid. I was peering at it with adult eyes and looking for how it would’ve appealed to children. Shitting on a kids’ film as an adult is a certain amount of unnecessary roughness (says the guy who recorded a podcast series about the Airbud Cinematic Universe) that leaves us all as lesser. Space Jam didn’t have the most coherent plot (as evidenced in this accurate nine minute song). It was obviously a cynical attempt to capitalise on late game Michael Jordan’s popularity and to keep the Looney Tunes relevant for another generation. Jordan is absurdly lionised throughout. He’s not the best actor, but to his credit he looks like he’s having fun. There’s a spectacular montage of Charles Barkley et al dealing with their lost talent. The film has a buttload of jokes for kids and a bunch that’re pitched way over their heads. It has all those characters you love, more cameos than episode of Entourage (oh yeah), plus Bill Murray shows up to save the day at the end. A silly but entirely defensible way to spend 88 minutes.

My biggest takeaway from the whole endeavour was how great Looney Tunes have always been. I guess I just forgot. Do you realise just how many conventions were drilled into your head by the adventures of Bugs and co? When Lola Bunny was introduced in Space Jam, Bugs swoons and there’s this small musical sting of sexy jazz. It’s so familiar to us now as a sort of language, but those conventions needed to be created somewhere. Cast your mind back to the original Looney Tunes. How instrumental was it in the formation of these tropes? You can see how necessary they’d be, right? These zany (never thought I’d see the day I used that word unironically) cartoons had out there plots, and the more shorthand they could use to instantly convey meaning, the better. I rewatched The Rabbit of Seville and it’s astoundingly creative. Animation unhinged these creators from the need to obey formal logic, so they created their own sense of it. It’s a clever play on an opera that would go way over the heads of kids, but still relates to them on their own level.

Not only were the cartoons clever as fuck, well animated and spectacularly voiced (thanks Mel), but the characters were so diverse and interesting. Can you imagine Bugs being a protagonist these days? He’s a cruel, manipulative sociopath, but we all love him. Daffy Duck is a total narcissist. The Sylvester and Tweety dynamic is a one note joke that somehow spawned years worth of scenarios. Most everyone is at each other’s throat, just trying to get the best for themselves. Loose, unscrupulous morals all over the show. In other words, they’re a total blast to watch.

What’re you still doing here? Go and Tune in already.

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.

Favourite Christmas movie? Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, hands down.

Merry Happy, everyone. I’m in jovial spirits on this Eve of Christmas. I’ve had a hashtagblessedly slow paced day. Got to the gym, did a little food shopping and I’ve been relaxing in front of the computer. No stresses or responsibilities, just “me” time. Plans for the next few days are constantly in flux and I couldn’t be more pleased. Well, that’s a lie. I’d be chuffed if I got a Turbo Man doll for Christmas, but peace and quiet is some consolation. Why is any of this notable at all? Because it’s all a departure from the norm and shows character development. What am I talking about? Let’s harken back a few years.

Christmas wasn’t always the easiest time as a kid. Yes, it was nice that classes often devolved into watching The Santa Clause, but it was also an emotionally difficult period. I grew up Jewish in New Zealand. Do you know how many Jews NZ had in the 90s? Roughly 8,000 or so. It was a “menorah-ty” as one of my friends oft’ said. Christmas in my eyes was like cruel window shopping. All the kids around me had a great time, getting big gifts, new toys and the like. It wasn’t all a wash. We had close family friends and we’d go around there for a barbecue every Christmas. Their family business was holiday/party supplies, so accordingly they cranked (but not Kranked, thankfully) Christmas up to 11. It’d be bacon, eggs and sausages, plus beer once we got old enough. We’d go over there for a few hours, then in the afternoon I’d call up all of my friends to hear what they got for Christmas. Vicarious enjoyment was half as good as the real thing. There was no disguising the fact that I felt kind of left out. It sucked, which led to a general contrarian approach to the season. I’d pride myself on “sticking it to the man” and giving Christmas the middle finger. The Grinch became my patronus and I’d wallow in negative feelings for the holiday period.

As I entered my early 20s and our close family friends moved away, Christmas fell apart. I had nothing to do, so I’d hang around on my own and drink. This morning I was checking my Facebook memories and it was one drunken lonely Christmas after another. It wasn’t all bad. While I was flatting with friends, for instance, I’d start drinking in the morning and in the afternoon they’d come home and join in. One year we created a Community drinking game, then discovered the joys of live heckling Jersey Shore while devouring our friend’s gingerbread house (he was there, it wasn’t a rogue demolition). Or even better was the year at Sky TV I managed to work during Christmas. I got time and a half and a day in lieu. They fed us, gave us a bottle of champagne and movie tickets for coming in on Christmas. It was all sorts of great.

After I moved to Canada, things shifted yet again. My flatmate at the time had family across the other side of the country. We had a few other friends who were transplants, so we started doing Orphan’s Christmas. It was messy, wacky and a total blast. It quickly became a tradition that outlasted that flatmate. It’s now become a valued part of the holiday season each year. A few weeks beforehand we’ll put out a message welcoming anyone without family or friends around to join our table. Everyone brings food or drink and we get merry to our hearts’ and stomachs’ content.

This year it didn’t happen. We put out the offer, but everyone seemed to have plans, which left us marooned without any. As it stands, we’re still not sure. A couple of things are floating, but with zero urgency it’s kind of nice. Friends are hosting a casual Christmas Eve get together today. We’ve got some ribs defrosting that we’ll toss in the slow cooker tomorrow. A friend who lives close by is also unoccupied so we’ll probably head around there for some cheer. Other friends are keen to do a movie night later on. We’ll probably go see a Star War on boxing day. The greatest part is, we’re free and flexible to follow our own schedule. Look at me, I’m having an afternoon beer simply because it’s a nice idea.

Maybe I haven’t changed that much from my early 20s. At least I’m not drunk before midday.

In a word? Billiant.

In possibly the greatest Christmas/Hanukkah gift I could’ve imagined, I recently discovered that my girlfriend had never seen Kill Bill. Look, nostalgia is a big driving force in my life. I feel like 30% of my mental energy is constantly devoted to wondering how pop culture has held up with time. I saw Kill Bill in my teen years. It was R18 but I went with my mum. Nobody asked any questions. It’s been almost another lifetime since my first viewing, so naturally the question of how time would treat it was burning deep in my synapses.

The statute of limitations should apply here. Just in case you’re like my girlfriend was several days back, there will be spoilers for Kill Bill Part 1.
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I loved it. I fucking adored it. The film lived up to every expectation and new facets sprung forth. At 16 I couldn’t have understood the genre conventions and subversions as I do now. I plumb hadn’t seen enough film. At 30 it’s all too apparent. The postured dialogue laden with purpose. Totally anachronistic and intentionally overwrought. The glorious union of Kurosawa come John Wayne swagger. The honour and ceremony of samurai culture filtered through western accoutrement. Kill Bill wore its influences on its sleeve in the most affectionate way possible.

The pacing is fantastic. We sat down to eat dinner as we watched and a few minutes into the film is the household fight. It’s a brutal white-knuckle affair. So fast paced and dynamically shot that we sat there, mouths agape, food untouched. There’s an ebb and flow to the proceedings that makes it effortlessly enjoyable to watch. It’s harrowing to see her waking up in hospital, coming to terms with the child she’s lost then switching into action mode against the men about to abuse her body. There are jump cuts, tonal shifts and stories within stories. It’s immaculately composed and entirely gripping.

The choreography is unbelievable. Each fight scene has its own mood and cadence. From the more realistic confrontation with Copperhead, to the stylised whimsy of the battle with the Crazy 88. That battle in particular could’ve been so trite and tired. It never feels overlong. It dynamically shifts from the floor to the railings, trailing blood on the dancefloor. The cinematography is gorgeous. There’s the crane shot as Black Mamba goes to change in the bathroom, or the few times the camera finds its best vantage point behind the stairs, perfect for watching the ensuring carnage. The colours are sharp and bright, but in the blink of an eye it switches to a black and white palette. Then after a blink we’re seeing silhouettes on a fluorescent blue background. How the film manages to be so ambitious without feeling pretentious escapes me. It’s a damn fine film and a wild ride throughout.

The best part? We still have Part 2 to watch and I remember enjoying it a whole lot more. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

It’s probably just a racier version of Lawnmower Man. Who needs that?

Do you remember dot matrix printers? We had one when I was a kid and I thought it was the coolest. It might be from before your time. The paper was different. Odd, even. Wait, did I just use “odd, even” as a complete sentence? Rock solid! Anyway, I remember thinking the paper looked all futuristic, but really it was archaic. Reams of these blue and white lined sheets. The borders were tearable and covered in holes. I’d frequently pull off part of a border by accident and feel like I had to tear the rest off to compensate. Wait, why not practice show don’t tell? My favourite thing by far about this printer (apart from the nifty noise it made) was that I could use it to print out cool birthday cards. There was one with a robot, there were others, I think. I guess? I dunno, once I had the capacity to print robo-cards I had no interest in printing anything else. Who wouldn’t enjoy birthday salutations from a robot? A monster, that’s who. Come to think of it, monster cards would’ve been rad too. Actually, it was the 90s, they would’ve been “radical” instead.

There was a bunch of technology I grew up with that seems a lifetime away now. It makes sense when you put it into perspective. I was born in ’87, so even though I’m 30, this is the fourth decade I’ve experienced. That’s a significant period of technological development. When I was a child, I had a My First Sony Walkman. Cordless home phones were frivolous rich people toys. Now it’s gotten to the point where people listen to music on their portable phones and landlines are pointless. It’s been about eight years since I last owned a TV and likely longer than that since I seriously used one. I’m not complaining, gloating or anything in between, I just think it’s interesting. This is what ageing is, finding the tools of your youth fading into irrelevance. It’s a fine and natural part of growing up.

This article encapsulates it pretty well. I may sound wistful, but I’m generally a fan of new and emerging technology. I’m may not be a gadgets person (my phone upgrade strategy is accurately expressed in this classic XKCD comic), I am however delighted by finding cool and efficient ways of doing things. The one way in which I am a curmudgeon is when we get unnecessary developments in order to drive consumer interest. Do we really need to be driven to upgrade so often? New iPhone models seem increasingly Malibu Stacey in their benefits.

I wonder though, how long before I’m aged out of progress? I got a non-standard cardboard VR headset (it was a work promo) the other day and I can’t get it to work properly. My headset didn’t have the QR code where it was supposed to, so I used a Google one, figured out my phone’s DPI and input the details. Yes, I have an old phone, but I thought I’d configured everything correctly. The demo worked, blurry as it was. When I tried to use other sources (porn, he’s talking about porn), I got audio without video. It wasn’t ASMR, so where’s the fun in that? For some reason my girlfriend’s phone (many years newer than mine) wasn’t compatible at all, so we’re shit out of luck. Of course we were both curious. Who wouldn’t be?

Of course I felt entitled to it. I was lucky enough to have the internet kick into my life with puberty. I never had to forage in local parks for encrusted magazines or try to hack free cable. I had it easy. Now there’s a form of porn that’s out of reach and that feels strangely unjust. I don’t want to upgrade my technology or shell out for a better headset just to watch. It seems so unnecessary and mercenary. Who knows if it’s even good? 3D movies turned out to be a shitty money grab. Why would porn be any better?

On that note, I wonder if Leisure Suit Larry will ever go VR…