If they were cassava chips, I’d risk it.

Sometimes you have dreams that you swear are trying to tell you something. Other times you get weirded out by your brain trying to sell you something.

Without further ado, my dream from last night, punched up just a smidge:

 

The shot opens on two hands clasped together. They’re swinging, attached to two bodies walking side by side. The lighting is sunny, with upbeat pop music in the background. Humming vocals, etc. There’s a moving zoom as the shot widens to show a couple walking through a mall. A heap of rapid static shots:

  • The woman runs over to a sunglasses stand.
  • A few quick shots of her wearing different pairs, smiling, goofing around. She gives him a suggestive eyebrow.
  • He runs to her, grabs her by the waist and swings her around, both smiling and laughing.
  • He tries on a selection of goofy outrageously coloured suits. All get a shake of the head from her.
  • She tries on a frilly pink bathing suit (guy shakes no), a bright yellow suit (guy gives the “so-so” hand gesture), an alien mascot costume (big thumbs up from him)
  • He tries on the frilly pink bathing suit she’d tried previously (big smile and nod from her).
  • They’re zooming around the mall in ride on scooters (still dressed in their outfits) racing with some old folks all having a grand time.

The static shots stop and we have motion again. They’re dressed back in their “civvies”, laughing. They up to a small convenience store which has a “Cascade Chips” display out front. The woman points towards it emphatically. Camera zooms in. Vocals in the music cut out, just the beat remains. Cuts back to the guy who’s nodding enthusiastically. Big thumbs up all around. Vocals kick back in. We see her hand reach out to grab a packet. They walk in the store, arms around each other’s shoulders, a bag in each person’s hand. Cutaway to a security camera, red light blinking, zooming in.

They sit down at a table in the food court. It’s a nice food court, greenery and a water fountain in the backdrop, lit by a rooftop window. They’re smiling, the vocals in the track hit their zenith. We can hear the faint pitter-patter of a rotor blade in the background. The guy pops open a bag and reaches in to grab a chip. The Cascade logo is clearly visible. The pitter-patter intensifies. He tosses it in his mouth and crunches down gleefully.

At that exact moment we hear glass shatter and see black garbed SAS agents rappelling through the ceiling. Music instantly cuts. Heavy on the SFX. Glass cascades (intentional) down around them as the agents land on the ground around them. Brutally efficient. Guns pointed at the woman, an agent behind the guy grabs his head and slams it down onto the table. The bag flies out of his hand and lands on the table pointing away from him. The woman is hysterical, screaming at the top of her lungs (as you would if something unexpected and horrible like this happened). The agent holds the guy’s head down on the table firmly. The guy is repeatedly saying “it’s not my fault, it’s not my fault”, almost feverishly. The agent yanks the guy’s arm behind his back sharply. The guy screams out in pain and continues his previous statement. A close up of his face, tears streaming down. The woman behind him is loudly weeping.

The camera cuts to a mid shot of the agent from front on. Arm still holding down the guy. He speaks. “You just couldn’t help yourself, could you?” (guy still muttering in the background). Out of the corner of the shot we see a feminine hand reaching across the table towards the open bag. A hand holding a combat knife instantly appears from off camera and nails the hand into the table. We hear a brief blood curdling scream before there’s a quick cutaway to a static shot of the Cascade Chips logo. The pleasant upbeat pop from earlier plays in the background.

VO: “Cascade Chips. A taste so good, it should be illegal.”

A goth damn delight.

Turns out social contact was the best remedy medical science had in its arsenal. For the first time in many moons, I left home after the cover of darkness in order to be conversational. My girlfriend’s mate was throwing a goth themed 28th birthday. It was foolproof. If at worst I ended up wallowing in a corner over social paralysis, at least I’d be on theme.

I pulled (literally) on some pleather pants I’d found at a costume sale and a black long sleeved shirt. Dabbed gel in my hair for the best imitation of an emo fringe I could manage (working with limited resources here) and got my girlfriend to apply some serious eye liner. She dolled up with all black finery, a grey cincher with purple highlights and pitch perfect makeup. Some, in her words, “skull contouring” was dead on brand. One Instagram later, we were ready to leave.

Arriving, it was obvious what a goofy application of theme it was. Marilyn Manson videos on the TV, tea light candles and black balloons everywhere. The catering was delightfully all kid’s party food: Cheetos, chips, faux marshmallow bananas, pretzels and taffy filled candy cones. I grabbed a beer and took a seat, squeaking as I did. I had a non-zero fear of self-combustion, the inner thighs of my pleather pants rubbing back and forth against each other loudly. Once again, dying at a goth party would only increase my street cred.

It was the kind of company you want at a party. Easy conversationalists, never strained or awkward. Everyone was friendly and seemed genuinely inquisitive. I chatted with a dude who’d just moved into the city about the struggles of getting settled. A gal educated me about the horrific treatment of the native population and how it hasn’t yet been put in the past. Did you know that medical professionals have been trying to coerce native women into forced sterilisation? Not 20 years ago, but as recent as 2013? I chatted about accents and cultural differences, the strange approach and almost blind acceptance of celebrity spokespeople. I leaned about demands placed on teachers these days, how smart phones in class not only hinder, but often aid learning. There was fluid back and forth and it was a total joy just to enjoy conversations with strangers.

Then the night hit its peak with a rousing game of Pass the Parcel. If you somehow had a shit childhood and never played, Pass the Parcel involves some small token wrapped in 10+ layers of gift wrapping. À la Musical Chairs, music starts and you Pass the Parcel around until it stops. When it does, the person holding it unwraps a layer. If this sounds trite, sometimes there are trinkets or booby prizes between layers. It’s more fun than I’ve let on. In last night’s incarnation there were Kings style mini games. Make a Rule, Wink Murder, Categories, freestyle rap (wrap?) about death. With the right crowd, it was a blast. The lesson to learn is that we’d likely severely improve all of our parties by a factor of 12 if we included the party games of our childhood, yet adapted them for adults. Bobbing for vodka infused apples? Fluffy Bunnies with sips of coolers? I’m sure I’m not the first to think of a Pin the Tail variant with one of those horse hair butt plugs… Consent being the main ingredient of course.

Or does the last sentence prove that I probably have no place hanging around with proper adults?

It’s finding something else to like that’s the problem.

I feel at a loss. Which is to say that I’m lost. I don’t know what to do now. Specifically at this moment, not in a wider what does it all mean? sense. I’ve got a limp self-propulsion that at the very least will stop me from treading water for too long. Right now though, I’m just floating on my back, heading nowhere in particular. I feel unwell in a very literal manner of speaking. I’m congested with a sore throat and low level physical fatigue. I happened to be working from home today anyway (so I could go to an Ear Nose and Throat consultation), so at least I didn’t need to be in the office. That sort of backfired. If I hadn’t taken the day to work at home I could’ve just had a sick day instead. Oh well. I got all my work done, it was more relaxing than being in the office would’ve been. I could mope around at my own pace and get loose-headed on NeoCitran. I also spent a fair portion of my down time watching Please Like Me.

I watched the first episode and really enjoyed it. I found its fusion of heavy events and irreverence entirely captivating. There was drama, but they rarely leaned into it without good reason. Bad things happening didn’t stop the world from revolving, they dealt with things and moved on, or talked around them until their impact gradually lessened. Hell, the first episode starts with the lead character getting dumped because his girlfriend knows he’s gay, even if he won’t admit it (they stay good friends regardless). Then his mum tries to commit suicide by eating a packet of paracetamol and drinking half a bottle of baileys. It’s serious content, but admits to the underlying silliness. The more I watched, the more attached I grew towards this tight knit group of characters. Somehow avoiding being beaten down by the world, it wasn’t relentlessly upbeat by any means, but neither was it maudlin or cheesy in any way.

Maybe it appealed to my underdog complex, but the show managed to champion the losers and weirdos without skewing self-congratulatory. The central character, Josh, is gay and they don’t make a massive deal out of it. It’s just his sexual preference, it doesn’t define him as a character as much as his wit, propensity for cooking or habit of trying to disarm tension with humour and irreverence. There are ongoing realistic depictions of mental illness, serious marital issues and realistic struggles of twentysomething life. There are also a multitude of dumb conversations about giraffes. Characters come and go, but they’re nearly always given three dimensional representation. There are meaningful friendships galore. It’s funny, sweet and disarmingly engrossing. I can’t tell you the last time I watched two seasons of anything in under a month, let alone four seasons.

Now I’m lost because the show is over and I miss it. It ended well, but I know that I’m never gonna get to witness all new interactions with these characters I’ve grown to love. It feels like a loss and I don’t know what fills that void now. Please Like Me was unique and that’s a double-edged sword. There’s a reason it stands out from everything else, but if I want to recapture that feeling I’ll have to settle for shows that have a few close elements, but fail to deliver the total package. I didn’t watch it because it had excellent fleshed out representation of gay characters. I didn’t watch it because it was a slice of life comedy about intelligent twentysomethings. I didn’t watch it because of its willingness to depict issues in a frank manner. I watched it because it managed to be its own thing and that means it’s gonna be pretty bloody hard to find anything quite like it.

So I guess, I dunno. I guess maybe I’ll just have to write something I’d want to watch.

It’s a foregone conclusion that I don’t trust myself, but others are pretty reliable.

It feels like an age since I’ve “done” anything. I don’t mean like I’ve been frozen in carbonite. I’ve been out and about, though rarely after dark because it’s cold and I’ve kind of had enough of winter by now. I mean I’ve been unproductive. I’ve had spare time, which has virtually all been sunk into this ridiculous early 90s Magic the Gathering game. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been enjoying the down time, but something inside me is itching, telling me I need to create or perish. I mean, look at my writing lately, with the exception of that Clickhole style piece I put together it’s basically been LivejournalLite around here. Things have been calm, and I’ve been self-taught (by my own neuroses) to believe that if I don’t make a storm of my own, I won’t like the one that inevitably comes in its place.

I’ve potentially got an interview on Sunday with one of my favourite bands. A band I’ve been following for years. They’re bloody prolific and lyrically dense. I’m kind of low-key terrified of this whole shebang. I’m certain it’s gonna be a don’t meet your heroes situation, that either they’ll prove to be dicks or I’ll be shamefully unprepared and feel like a bag of dicks. In this scenario I’m the bag holding the dicks, not having a craving that only a bag sized quantity of dicks can satisfy. I’m trying to think of interview questions, but it’s like butting my head against a wall repeatedly.

What can I ask them that will actually engage them, that won’t make me appear a total twat? Questions that aren’t the same stock ones interviewers throw at them every time. What angle can I take? I’m not a particularly cerebral fellow so it would be downright odd to try and approach them on that kind of conceptual level. I’m certain that they’re smarter than me, so it’ll be all I can do to not just nod repeatedly while trying to bite my own tongue out of mortification. Moreover, I know that being terrified to do it is all the more reason I should, so next time it’ll be one millimetre less frightening.  I need to do the things I’m not good at to get better, right? That’s how upskilling works?

The other tumbleweed rolling around in my head gathering bracken is about a sitcom idea. I had a dream the other night about writing a show. It felt so possible, but with work required that when I woke up, I went back to dream and made my brain keep working on the elevator pitch. I don’t want to talk about the specifics here, but I mentioned it on Facebook and developed traction with a friend about potential plot lines. The more we talked about it, the more realised it felt.

My first reaction to anything like this is always to dismiss it, because the thought of how much work it would take makes me want to never think about the idea again. Yet again though, it’s something that scares me, which means I should likely be running at it headfirst. It’s not something I could do alone. I’m far enough removed from the subject matter that I’d need to work with people who’ve lived elements of the experience. If I could help facilitate that though, I know so many funny, creative people who would knock this concept out of the park. What would be the harm in getting together in a room for a day and sharpen the soft edges? Maybe put together a basic outline that could be honed into a tighter script? If time is the big cost, is that really such a loss?

What have I got to fear?

Well if you can take anything from this Oscar rant, it’s that I’m a grouch.

Went on an unprovoked Facebook rant after seeing a bunch of everything is fucked if La La Land wins Best Picture articles. A friend of mine commented that she didn’t get why the film was being so hyped. I got very Ranty McRantface. Here we go:

To be honest, I really liked the film. From the opening scene right to the end I found myself captivated visually and audibly. The colour palette and shot composition was beautiful. I enjoyed the dialogue and structure. It was funny and stirring when it needed to be. I thought the two leads had great chemistry. It felt like a massive experience and when I’m spending time in a theatre, that means a lot to me.

I think La La Land is a great film. I think Moonlight is too. At the same time, I feel like most of the backlash is Tall Poppy Syndrome due to some bizarre idea that the whole Oscars Industrial Complex has anything to do with rewarding merit and not just a chance for Hollywood to alley-oop itself and get more promotion for its films.
Why the fuck did they expand the Best Picture nomination section to ten films? Because money. Because then ten films can put “Academy Award Nominated” on their posters in an attempt to make them more appealing to film goers.
Do people think that La La Land was actually a terrible film? If they do, cool. Movies appeal to different people in an assortment of ways. Really though, are they shitting on it because it was poorly made? Or because they have an issue with the fact that Moonlight (an excellent, beautiful film, you’ve got no argument from me. Except maybe about the shaky camera technique that meant I couldn’t physically watch most of the film without feeling nauseous. Not the film’s fault, my body is weird) isn’t getting the respect that it deserves *because* of La La Land? If the Oscars didn’t exist, would people even care? Or would they both be independently enjoyable films?
People can think piece all they like about how The Oscars are failing society by not rewarding diversity or shining a light on films that represent social inequalities and struggles ignored by the mainstream, but the truth is that The Oscars don’t give a shit about people or non-mainstream views. They always have and likely always will be about the (predominantly rich/white, let’s not kid ourselves here) “cultural elite” patting themselves on the back with one hand while jerking themselves off with the other. Not until their ratings (advertising dollars) or major cinematic attendance suffered would they start to care about championing diversity. Even then, they wouldn’t care about people, just their money and the impact it has on them. The whole ceremony is a big joke that people take very seriously.
TL;DR – I think Moonlight should win too, but that doesn’t make La La Land remotely terrible. The Oscars aren’t a true gauge of a film’s value, that’s something you create for yourself. Also Mia not using BCC is 2016’s Kelly Rowland texting Nelly in excel.

Luckily we didn’t break the mould. We did do midsection surgery with floss though.

Despite writing up a big post for Valentines Day, my girlfriend/valentine and I didn’t get to celebrate much on the day. That wouldn’t do. Never one to shy away from a good ol’ celebration, I still wanted to do have some fun, even a day removed. I thought about what we could get up to. The weather was typical February fare. Leaving the house merely to go to a restaurant didn’t seem that enticing. There were no places we’d been especially chomping at the bit to try. Leaving the house at all didn’t seem overly great. What kind of activity was possible at home then? It was a school night, so hookers and blow would’ve been sub-optimal. Creating memories had always been the best kind of celebration, but what if we could make memories that resulted in tacit reminders? Arts and crafts were always fun. How about a totem to remind us of spending time together? What about some type of sculpting or moulding? I had it. We could get a bunch of modelling clay and make one another. Then we’d have dinky little statues. Sure we’d be smote by God for creating false idols, but who needs heaven when you basically have your own action figures?

It was really fucking rad. I hadn’t used clay since I was ten or so and had to make an emperor penguin out of Fimo for school. I’d hardly been an inspired artist as a kid and the penguin was no exception. Its back was all warped and it had human eyes, but all things considered it more composed than Beast Jesus. My girlfriend picked up a stack of different colours and a heap of tan clay. We opened the packs, rolled it flat and started moulding. I had no idea where to begin, but her suggestion of the torso was a good call. I got to work on this lump, trying to figure out proportions. I thought of what my girlfriend looked like naked and tried to emulate her curves as best I could. It was remarkable how the clay shifted underneath my fingers. I’ve got warm hands and they smoothed over any blemishes easily. I concentrated on certain aspects, the gentle shape of her hips, those cute little bones that frame her belly button. It was pretty handy having her right next to me. The breasts were something I wanted to get right. Tired of how so many guys tend to create art with these unrealistic basketball boobs, I aimed to represent as best I could. Not too big, but as perfectly proportioned as her own. I wasn’t putting together some monument to cheesecake, but a sweet little totem of the woman I love. I can’t tell you how handy it was having her next to me. A simple “hey love, mind lifting your shirt? I want to make sure I get your tits the right size”. I got an excellent reference, plus the chance to sneak a peek. The perfect crime…

Proportions were tough, but I tried using my mind’s eye as much as possible. It was fascinating. How far did her arms reach when they were hanging at her side? To the edge of her bum? What about legs? What kind of musculature do legs have? Could I create definition between the thighs, knees and shins? Did I have the right texture to her belly? What about her back? Was there enough flesh there? How big was a head, exactly? Could I shape the cheeks? Nose? Leave space for eyes without getting all uncanny valley (“my lips aren’t a third the size of my head, darling”)? Feeling the clay shift between my fingers, I briefly wondered if this was how FSM felt when he sculpted us with his noodly appendage. I looked over. Her version of me was flatter, with Earthworm Jim legs. She’d done an excellent job of creating textures though. The pubic hair, little penis with its urethra. She’d done some rad facial features too, it was all kinds of neat. I couldn’t get her to free-stand, despite all my efforts. While I’d initially sculpted legs I was chuffed with, I’d bulked them up in order to try and establish some literal balance to the piece. I didn’t want it to fall flat on its carefully sculpted cheeks. Either set.

How do they look? Well her legs are chunky, there’s no getting around that. Proportion-wise I think I did a decent job. Her face doesn’t look nightmarish, even if I forgot to give her eyebrows. I’d put such effort in sculpting a representative nose, but it was flattened in the process. I’m bummed that I missed her armpit hair, ’cause that’s something she’s proud of IRL. I’m stoked with how her hair came out. I decided last minute to try texturing her long locks and while I did it hastily, it looks alright. Her version of me is a behemoth. I’m maybe two heads taller than she is, with neat little flat “mannaries” and nipples. All the facial features are choice and the hair came out superbly. My little peen looks great, if I do say so myself.

All in all it was a really fun night and a hell of a way to spend Valentines Day. Plus now if I’m ever feeling small, I can remember that she thinks of me as a giant.

See, reading this was time you will never get back. Lesson learned?

I’m having my 30th birthday party tonight, a few weeks early of my actual birthday. I thought I’d write something for the occasion.

Now that I’m approaching 30, I’ve had a lot of time to make mistakes. Nigh on three decades of fucking up, gathering the pieces and reforming opinions. I think that’s called learning (at least in the curriculum of the school of hard knocks). It might seem narcissistic and self-indulgent to write a speech for my 30th but you know what? I write every day. If it wasn’t this, it’d probably be a listicle of my top 7 shitting secrets to success. As the years have passed, the more I’ve grown, and the more years that pass, the more I realise I have left to learn. I swear it’s some kind of pyramid scheme, or at least can be blamed on the illuminati. As my body slowly degenerates, I hope I’m coming off on top trading youth for wisdom. So approaching 30, here’s some stuff that’s stuck with me. Let’s see if I can ace this without sounding like a “Live Laugh Love” Lululemon ad:

 

1. Time 

We trade so much of our time for money, but money will come and go. Time is the one thing we’ll never truly be able to get back. Aside from Georgie Pie that is. We’re all getting older and moving on with our lives. Some of us are getting married, having kids, buying homes and other stuff that’s supposed to be the domain of “adults”. We’re looking back at past years with a rosy fondness. Hitting peak nostalgia, which leads us to believe egregious things like Georgie Pie having had any semblance of quality. The ball pit was great, the pies were shit. Let it go already.

We’re not the only ones getting older. As we bring new life into the world, our parents are getting on too. Some of us have already said goodbye. It’s sad, but it’s also part of life. We can’t do anything about that. We can, however, spend time while we still have it. Time is the one thing we can’t take for granted. Please don’t add your loved ones to that list. It may sound cheesy, but cherish the people in your life while you have them. Nothing lasts forever, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give them what you have while you can. Which leads me on to the next item.

2. Pooping (and yes that was a pun)

Perhaps the most important lesson of them all. If you want to have easy, smooth poops, try raising your heels and bending over to grab your ankles. It’ll change your life.

3. Presence and intentionality

It’s so easy to be distracted. We carry around small beeping, flashing computers. Eye catching advertisements are everywhere. Our society is geared towards capitalising on all our mental stimuli at all times. There’s always something to do and being bored is a luxury left to eras long past. What’s harder these days is being present. Remember when I was talking about how important time was? (Hint, it was item number one on this speech) Well you only get the chance to live each moment once. Until we invent time travel and this whole speech becomes defunct, anyway. Over the past few years one of my most important discoveries was how my interactions grew with intentionality of presence. Putting the phone down, directing my focus.

Instead of using conversation as an excuse to say things and wait until I could say more things, I started asking questions and listening to responses. Authentically being with the person seated in front of me. The inverse of this sits too. If you’re not invested in the people around you, if you don’t care about them and aren’t interested in what they say or think, why are you with them? Be intentional and seek out the people who enrich your life. Then when you’re around them, be there. Save Twitter for when you’re on the toilet. You know that’s when you think of the wittiest tweets anyway.

4. Empathy

There’s nothing quite like having your opinion heard and respected. It feels great when people agree with you. Thing is, not everyone does. I know, for one, that there are people who got defensive when I shat on Georgie Pie earlier. That’s fine, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Even people who believe things that to you seem abhorrent. The world is made up of a spectrum of moral compasses and just because someone doesn’t agree with you, that doesn’t make them a monster. Your culture is the summation of the entirety of your lived experiences. Everything you’ve seen and done has in some little way shaped you towards the human you’ve become. It’s what makes you, you. It’s also why you see the world the way that you do. Nobody else has your distinct perspective, but that’s why the world is such a fascinating place full of myriad people. Do I sound patronising yet?

Here’s my point. If you truly believe that someone is behaving in a morally repugnant fashion, you cannot ever hope to change their perspective without first acknowledging it and seeing it from their point of view. If you start a conversation by telling they’re an asshole, they’re never gonna agree to anything but to disagree. It’s very rarely easy to put aside your views in order to understand someone (especially if they’re being a dickbag), but if the overarching hope is to be on the same side, it’s essential. Empathy. People are much more likely to be ignorant than malicious and they certainly haven’t lived your life. Consider others and it may change people in your mind from being “bad” to “different”.

5. Fulfillment

We all have needs and tending to each and every one feels almost impossible. Ask Maslow and his illuminati pyramid. Learn how you operate and it’ll do wonders to fix your mood. My girlfriend has helped me create a mental checklist that comes in handy if I’m ever grumpy.

  • Have I eaten recently?
  • Am I dehydrated?
  • When was the last time I was physically active?
  • Have I slept more than seven hours in the past three days?
  • Have I been able to switch off and decompress at all?

Or in IT speak, have you tried turning it off and on again? Learn what you need around you and life becomes easier to deal with. My biggest fulfillment lesson in recent years was how to find a creative outlet. I’m a creative person and it’s been a while since I’ve had a job that allows for creativity. Since I can’t exercise my creativity through my professional life, I’ve been leaning hard on external sources. I write every day for at least half an hour. It’s been massively helpful in expression and sometimes wrapping my head around difficult situations. It’s made it possible to cope at times where I would’ve otherwise crumbled. This last year I started a podcast (www.airbudpawdcast.com. Sign up for your free 30 day audible trial at audibletrial.comp/PAWD, that’s audibletrial.com/PAWD) and it’s allowed me to rediscover parts of myself I thought I’d lost. I feel more like myself than I have in years. I’m not telling you to start a podcast where you analyse the irreverent adventures of a sports playing dog and his incorrigible lineage (frankly we don’t need the competition), but have a think about what you need in order to be your best you. You won’t regret it.

6. Love

We don’t tell one another that we love each other enough. In western society we make the mistake of assuming love has to be romantic. If there’s someone in your life that gives more than they take, whose mere presence has made your life richer for having known them, isn’t that deserving of love? I’m so fortunate (#blessed) to be surrounded by people who inspire me. People funnier, smarter, more gracious, caring, witty and insightful than I am. I love that I can stand here talking to all of you, the people who shaped me and allowed me to be this person right here talking to you. I love you, sincerely, for having been part of my life.

Thank you. I love you.

Also thanks for indulging this extended wankfest of a monologue. Cheers to each and every one of you, you magnificent bastards.