Was cleaning afterwards considered a dust-y dust?

Welp. I just hosted my dream funeral.

To be clear, I had no idea how the event would go. It was uncharted territory. An attempt to celebrate life, and explore the mix of darkness, humour and sincerity that keep me going. The basic conceit was that the party was a mix of funeral and wake. There was a bell anyone could ring. If they rung the bell, it was their turn to give a eulogy for me. Whatever they chose to say. In an attempt to give a modicum of respect for the dead, I also kept the floor available for anyone who chose to share a eulogy for someone they’d once loved, or a memory from their lives. Nobody took that option, but it was there just in case. Who knew if it would be a farce, or incredibly sombre. Knowing my friends, I assumed the former,but I would’ve accepted the latter. It was in every part, the former.

My girlfriend and I had done some last minute prep. We hung black streamers from the centre to the corners of the room, draped like the roof of a tent. We put a black foil curtain over the entrance to the living (/dying) room. We made charcuterie. We had havarti, gouda and aged cheddar. We bought chorizo, maple smoked ham and sliced salami. We had crackers, pickles and olives. As a birthday present my girlfriend had ordered me a ton of Cookie Time snacks for sharing. As always, I love being able to share my favourite foods with people, and invite them to try things I grew up with. They were just as delicious as I remembered. Friends brought with them a heap of snacks, and ultimately we have more snacks left than we started the party with.

It took a long time for people to show up. I got antsy. Had the theme kept friends away? We had a start time of 7:30pm, in the hopes that it’d get people arriving closer to 9pm. A friend arrived just before 9. By 9.30pm, another friend arrived. I was nervous. At around 9.40pm, some more friends arrived. Then more, and more. The living room was thriving with conversation. Suddenly, I heard the bell ring. My friend stood on the table and gave her eulogy to The Bone King. As my mortal enemy, Wingding, she lorded her victory for all to hear. She stood in exultation and beamed with pride that she had finally conquered her arch nemesis. It was wonderful. Soon afterwards, another friend gave a heartfelt eulogy extolling my virtues. Mostly though, he wanted to shoehorn in a pun. It seemed only fitting.

One of my good friends stole the show. He’d prepared a written eulogy based on absurd and notorious injokes. Our shared love of Manischewitz (a bit that keeps on giving) and my well-known hatred of Marmaduke. He (lying), talked about our ritual of “Mani and Marm Mondays”, where we’d get together to drink Manischewitz and read Marmaduke comics. He then explained in excruciating detail, a Marmaduke comic from panel to panel. Egads I hate Marmaduke, and I love my friend for digging in so deep.

Just after midnight, when the party was in full flow, I gave my own eulogy. It was fucking great. Every joke landed just as I’d hoped they would. It’d been so long since I’d last done a speech, and I forgot just how much I love the process. Understanding how to read the room and deliver words for maximum impact. I got to share personal bits with friends who understood and appreciated them. I had my moments of sincerity, and got to truly thank everyone for being there. There was a point where I looked around the room. It was filled with people I cared for so deeply. They were all shooting the shit, chatting or playing games. Everyone was well-fed, and we had abundant drinks for anyone who needed them. I was so happy with how it went, and if my real funeral is anything like it, I’m gonna die a very lucky man.

As for now, I’ll just have to settle for living a very lucky life.

Ya googly

It’s my birthday and I’m hosting my own funeral to celebrate. What follows is my personal eulogy.

I believe it was Des’ree who once said:

“I don’t want to see a ghost,
It’s a sight that I fear most
I’d rather have a piece of toast
And watch the evening news
Life, oh life, oh life, oh life,
Doo, doot doot dooo.
Life, oh life, oh life, oh life,
Doo, doot doot dooo.”

I think those words speak a little louder for us all on this day.

We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of Leon. His cause of death is currently unknown. Given the amount of tuna he consumed, mercury poisoning is probably a safe bet.

Leon was survived by his beloved girlfriend Julia, and his rival, Mr. Smashmouth. Turns out at some point the years stop coming. Check and mate, Mr. Smashmouth.

Leon was born on January 17th in Auckland, New Zealand, at approximately 3pm. To whom it may concern, Capricorn, Leo rising. I know, it sounds weird. He was.

Leon was known primarily for his predilection for puns, Paddington, pooping and polysyllabic words. He fathered no children, but sired sigh-ers and grown groaners. He gave a wide berth to Birthers. He knew this would make no sense to you in audio form, but maybe not everything is about you. Jeez.

Leon was an ambitious child. When he grew up he wanted to be a voice actor, Jim Carrey, or a Street Shark. Instead of growing into a mutant fusion of shark and teenager with large teeth and killer attitude, he grew old. It was considerably less jawsome.

At the age of eight, Leon had a dream that he would die at 33. Given that being right was one of his favourite things, he at least died doing what he loved.

Leon was many things; a living cartoon character, a wholesome pervert, strangely particular about apples. He loved monologues, being the centre of attention, and breaking the fourth wall [what, too meta?]. Unbeknownst to many, he did not love Air Bud movies, but that didn’t stop Netflix algorithms from recommending every single talking animal movie it could.

Things weren’t always easy for Leon. Many times he wasn’t totally in love with living. For him, sadness was a big part of life, and he’d made peace with it. He figured it was entirely normal to not feel okay a lot of the time. He often resonated with those who understood. Sharing struggles with those close was important, and he always wished to be there for friends when he could. If anything, knowing that he could make others feel more comfortable, known or seen was one of his guiding principles. He knew first-hand it wasn’t easy to ask for help, but resolved to do what he could when he could.

Friends were what mattered most to Leon. When he found good ones, they were friends for life. There was a special kind of love Leon reserved for his friends. People he could lose time with, sharing vulnerabilities, stories, and secret pettiness. Those who bought into his endless bullshit, hijinks and the weird way he just assumed everyone understood his niche references. His favourite feeling in the world was the comedown after a room full of laughter. By this metric, he lived a pretty good life.

I guess you could say, the real life he lived was the friends he made along the way.

And now I invite you to lift your glasses. As the Black Eyed Peas said in their Grammy Award winning song, “I Gotta Feeling”: L’chaim.

99 black balloons

I’ve had an idea for a party stewing in my head on and off for years.

Well that’s unfair. I’ve had many ideas for many parties stewing in my head for years. The particular one I’m thinking about is the idea of hosting my own funeral. It’s something that none of us get the chance to do, and I want to stake my claim. Get guests to dress in funeral attire, have finger foods (will someone bring cucumber sandwiches?), make a playlist, etc etc etc. Then the “bit” of the event, is For Whom the Bell Tolls. I’d have a bell in an accessible place. At any point that someone wanted to ring it, they’d have the floor to talk. In a combination of funeral, wake and good ol’ narcissism, I’d want attendees to give me eulogies, or tell stories about treasured times we had together. I’m a sucker for sincerity, punching up my friends’ ego, and telling people I love them as much as possible. That doesn’t mean I don’t want a little bit of the same, y’know?

The idea of organising your own funeral screams peak control freak, and I’m quite okay with that. It’s my party, I can die if I want to, etc etc. I’m sure deep down it’s some hack rip off of Empire Records. Or more likely, it stems from years of teenage suicidal ideation. Curious thoughts of what my own funeral would be like, who would be there, what they’d say. I’ve long been obsessed with death, and morbid thoughts have resonated strongly. Over the past few years as my depression deepened, I’d more readily imagined a world without me in it. Last year was a major upswing, where things changed for the better. I started off the year with no desire to continue living. That’s not sarcasm or glibness, I really had lost my interest in life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have such a personal reversal. A massive component was finally going on anti-depressants instead of staunchly assuming I’d get better on my own, or give up. It really turned my life around, and gave me a recourse against constant negative spirals. It eased a burden, and allowed me to take full stock of the things I loved, and focus on them. The second big aspect was finding a new job through a combination of luck and straight up hustle. I’m now in a position where I’m not only thankful for so much of my life, but I have a renewed perspective with lessons learned. It’s been huge, and I think it’s worth taking this event to consider the parts of me I had to put to rest in order to move forward.

So I’m doing the event and sent out invites yesterday. I dropped the ball hard. I gave no consideration to the fact that a couple of my friends had a hard time in 2019, going through deeply painful loss. It was thoughtless, and tacky. So today, I posted this addendum on the event:

I’ve been thinking about this event all night, and I think there are things worth saying. A few of my friends have undergone very real and deep loss over the past year, and this whole thing comes off as very glib and inconsiderate of that. I don’t have/want a good excuse. While those weren’t my intentions, they were the outcome of my actions. That’s not something I can take back. I’m sorry if, in my ignorance, I’ve caused hurt.

It makes absolutely nothing better, but I want to pivot a little. I’m gonna keep the written event description up as accountability, but I’d like to change things a bit. Instead of making things just about me, I want to open up the floor for people to talk about those who are no longer in their lives. To tell stories about loved ones, or give sincere eulogies they never had the chance to. In amongst the roasts I no doubt have incoming, I want to make space for people to talk more about those who have affected them, and share memories.

Is this still a bad idea, with the best recourse to just do another event instead? Obviously yes. Am I gonna try to have my cake and pay respects? Of course I am.

After a while, the Stone Cold Stunner lost its efficacy

What did you do on Y2K?

We had our work Christmas party yesterday, 1999 was the theme. It became a fun and easy conversation starter to ask people the question above. What was Y2K for them? How was their evening? What did they do? I got a whole host of answers back. Some of my old co-workers were literal toddlers, so they had no stories to tell, just stories to make me feel old. Others went to house parties. Someone invited a bunch of friends over to drink and listen to REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” on repeat for the evening. Another wandered into his old high school with mates and drank a mickey. For most it was a massive disappointment. For some, it felt like the dawning of a new age. For me?

I was 12. I had this weird, voracious skin condition. I don’t know what it was, but it grew like a weed and spread like wildfire. I had to rub this lotion all over myself a few times per day. I think it was itchy too, so that was frustrating. It wasn’t infectious, thank Christ, so I could have a friend over. I think my parents took pity on me and let us rent an N64 from the video store (egads, that sentence is a time capsule). My friend and I played Super Smash Bros until late in the evening. I got to drink a can of energy drink, and we went down to the Auckland Viaduct to watch fireworks. They got rained out, and it all felt anticlimactic.

Y2K is seen as a joke now. It’s obvious to see why. We all thought that everything would end because computers wouldn’t know how to count the new year. Or was it some type of virus? The Y2K bug? The banks were gonna crumble and the world would fall into disrepair. Chaos would reign, people would loot, and we’d end up in some post-apocalyptic debacle. I was 12. I didn’t know any better, so I sort of assumed this was all within the realm of possibility. I don’t know that we did much in the way of prep. I think my parents bought a couple of large water jugs or something, but that was it. I got the feeling that for adults, it was mostly laughable. The notion that everything would end because of computers. They’d lived for decades, I’m sure it wasn’t their first foray into widespread nonsense.

I think that’s why, when December 21st 2012 rolled around, we all had a laugh. I made an End of the World playlist with most any apocalyptic song I could find. I think I even threw inĀ “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” since it was in the Armageddon soundtrack. Friends came over to my parents’ place and we looked out over the harbour, drinking. If we were gonna see things end, we had the perfect view.

It’s weird that growing up, we had this background notion that Armageddon was coming. I wonder if that’s why there’s been so much post-apocalyptic material over the past decade. This stuff has a way of worming into your subconscious. I mean, of course a bunch of tent pole movies and shows catapulted the idea into the public consciousness. The Walking Dead, Fury Road, 28 Days Later. They all captured this zeitgeist of catastrophe. Arguably now, the world is in worse shape than it was ten years ago. Climate change and incredible wealth inequalities are on the tips of our tongues. Brash demagogues have soared into positions of influence and power. We’ve all lost count of how many mass shootings America has had in the past year.

Holy shit. I just went down a wiki rabbit hole. There have been 370 mass shootings in America in 2019 (as of today). That’s 1.22 mass shootings per day. It’s gotten to the point where we just tune them out. I looked at this number and thought oh well, that’s really sad. But that’s how things have always been there. I checked 2018, 321 mass shootings. Yep. I guess it’s always been that way in the USA. IT HAS NOT ALWAYS BEEN THAT WAY. In 2009 there were six. In 2008 there were five. In 2007 there were five. In 2006 there were four. In 2005 there were three. In 2004 there were three. In 2003 there were three. In 2002 there were three. In 2001 there were two. In 2000 there were three. Three hundred and seventy mass shootings is NOT NORMAL. How have we gotten to a point where we’ve normalised this figure in our heads? I can’t be the only one.

That is stone cold sobering. E fucking Gads.

Failing anything, it’s a carte blanche to harmlessly gossip with friends. Who doesn’t want that?

Did everyone have a lovely night of death and intrigue last night, or just me?

I went to my first murder mystery party. I had half-baked expectations, but realistically I didn’t really know how it would play out. In my head we’d all be free roaming around a house with directives, trying to pick at people’s brains in private conversations. Instead, we were led through a structured game as a group. There were eight specifically defined characters all linked to this murder scenario. Each round we were given more information about ourselves and others. We had details we were encouraged to keep to ourselves, and other details we had to share each round. Nobody was allowed to lie, but at the same time you were encouraged to talk around things, change the subject and/or mislead without actively stating the facts. It was like one big gossip session, and it was a blast.

Okay, so the scenario was that we were all friends who’d come back for our 5 year high school reunion. We were chilling in a malt shoppe waiting for one of our friends, Rock N. Roley. Roley was a big shot music star, and he was coming back to play a show while he was in town. The plot thickened, however, as Roley had been quite the ladies’ man back at school. He’d had flings with almost everyone. More intriguing was that on homecoming night, his car had stalled on the train tracks with Betty Sue in the passenger side. He’d escaped unharmed, but she’d been killed on impact by a runaway train. Then unbeknownst to us, HE had been killed in a copycat crime earlier in the evening, while we waited at Maltie’s Falcon. Instead of our friend, the door opened and a goddamn COP was standing there, talking very film noir.

The game was old enough that it came with a cassette tape. Some kind folks had uploaded it to youtube, and it introduced us to the wider scenario. In around four minutes, it gave us a ton of information and maybe red herrings? Oddly enough the train crossing had been green from both sides, instead of stopped. Roley had been in his hotel room, visited by a mysterious woman with a dark scarf and glasses. There was an external lock placed on his door, but when locksmiths broke in, they discovered he’d escaped over his balcony by tying sheets together. The plot thickened. A strange man next door had also left his room, but in the afternoon a bomb had gone off there. Lots of shit was afoot.

Truthfully, it was super fucking convoluted, and a shit ton of fun. For instance, my character had tried to commit suicide on homecoming night by jumping off a bridge (but landed in a goose feather barge and hurt my wrist instead?). A few other characters knew that I’d weirdly been in the hospital, but didn’t know why. So I had to try and hide my motive, while they wanted to bring truth to light. I couldn’t directly lie, right? Then I got given a Hail Mary to throw others off my scent. A different character said we’d had a date at Lookout Point that night, then he’d dropped me home and later found out I’d been in the hospital. However, I had zero knowledge of the date he and I had. It wasn’t in my booklet. When he brought it up, I could truthfully say “I have absolutely no memories of going on a date with you that night”, then turned it around as an accusation that maybe he’d slipped me something or gotten me drunk. Every time he tried to circle back to it, I misdirected without breaking the rules whatsoever. My character had also cheated on a big exam, which led to me getting this great job out of college. Another character knew it, but I also deftly sidestepped away from that information coming to light with good ol’ subterfuge.

I can imagine that these old How to Host a Murder box games are cheap as shit now second hand on Amazon. In fact, I’ve been kind of loathe to spoil important details in case anyone ended up picking this game up. If you’re looking for a cool and different night out, I totally suggest grabbing one. Then you can all blame the wrong suspect like we did.

Happy plotting, everyone.

Technically is all of their meat blade steak?

I’ve got nothing, so let’s get it over with.

Unpopular opinion, I think macaroons are grossly more enjoyable than macarons. The texture has just the right combination of crunch and chewability. The chocolate bottom is a wonderful treat, and the cherry tops it all off. Macarons make me feel guilty for eating them, I feel like I’m engaging in some form of class betrayal, and there’s no way I can eat more than one or two without feeling like I’m somehow committing a social faux pas. Macaroons don’t judge, they’re just delicious and morish. In fact, they’re the kind of food that grandmothers demand you endlessly gorge on, which is even better. Macarons taste like condescension. I’ll still eat a macaron, but the experience is significantly less enjoyable than eating a macaroon.

I can’t believe discourse is still flying around on this “Ok Boomer” catchphrase. Lots of disgruntled tweets from incensed folks claiming it’s discrimination or ageism. Funnily enough, the people that are offended are probably likely offenders. As far as I understand, Ok Boomer isn’t about shitting on people older than you, it’s a response from generations of older folks who dismiss what younger folks say without actually listening to what they’re saying. Catchalls like “you’ll understand when you’re older” or whatnot. It’s weird, because Ok Boomer isn’t rallying against age, it’s rallying against ignorance. It’s about people blaming millennials for thing after thing, instead of taking a look at the legacy of their generations economic decisions and how they flowed down to following generations. It’s about people who hold rigidly to outmoded ideas of how the world once was, instead of actually considering that times have changed. It’s a response to endless comments beginning with “why don’t you just…” followed by unrealistic standards of how things work in 2019. “Pounding the pavement” in search of jobs isn’t a thing anymore outside of service industries, and not always in them either.

Tomorrow I’m going to a Brazilian steakhouse with friends to celebrate a birthday. My friend’s birthday, not mine. I’m pumped. I haven’t been out for a nice meal in a while, and too few of my restaurant meals involve meat on swords. In fact, people approaching me with meat on swords is damn near my ideal. Even if it were to result in me getting stabbed or murdered, if I got killed by something I dearly love, I think that’s a piece of humble pie I could swallow. Just think, a blade pierces your heart, while the scent of beautifully spiced meat wafts up to your nostrils. You slump forward, and your face lands on a tender portion of steak pushed right up to the hilt. Just saying, there’s not a 100% chance this won’t be the outcome of tomorrow’s meal. If that’s the case, I think I’ll go gently into that good night with a smile on my dial.

Someone told me their salad is typically really good too. Weird, but great.

Welp, I tried and failed, and we’re all gonna die for our sins. All in a day’s work

Weird timing today, I’m getting writing in whenever I have the chance.

First day of training. It’s pretty exciting to be surrounded by a bunch of audio geeks again. Instant rapport with all of them. They’re friendly, positive and welcoming people all with a range of experience. Some come from composing, there’s a lifelong radio guy in there. Another is a year out of college. All have been freelancing for some length of time. I get the feeling that it’s gonna be a solid group. Training has run into technical difficulties, and while we’ve gone over a lot of the theory, practice is yet to come. We’re on a lunch break right now. I’m glad I at least opted for both training days. As it stands I’m still getting paid, so it’s not all bad. Still, I’m itching to get into the booth and voice. It’s funny, I was so stoked to get back to audio work, and now it’s the allure of learning the ins and outs of descriptive video that has me buzzing. There’s so much to consider and a heap to learn. What kind of stuff is best to focus on? How do we best illustrate for those who have visual difficulties? What language and terminology is appropriate?

Fast forward to a night spent drinking and chatting. I aired my grievances with the rest of my team. It’s a transitional thing, which means people will be left behind. One of my ‘girls’ had diarrhoea today. She was too embarrassed to walk to the pharmacy and ask what medication would be appropriate, so I did it for her. I figured I could take 15 minutes of my day to make hers better, so I did. I dropped the medication on her desk without saying a word, then got back to my work. I didn’t mention it the rest of the way. A few of us chatted, but moved on. There’s been a very clear hierarchy in our group for a while. As an employee, I know how meaningless this whole hierarchy is. We sat at different tables at different parts of the bar, if that wasn’t flagrant enough. The hierarchy and clique-iness wasn’t apparent enough by desk structure, apparently. It’s fine, my fellow plebs and I had our bitch session in any case.

I got locked into a conversation with a conservative middle class white boy for two hours. I know I’m a white boy from a middle class upbringing. That said, holy shit what a narrow minded dipshit he was. It’s hard to totally fault him, because he was 23. This was his first job, and he was convinced he knew how the world worked. We talked about homelessness, guns, taxes and education. I’m imagining y’all can guess how well that went. He said that guns were an I’m important liberty as part of the framework of the U.S.A. I asked him how many shootings he thought there’d been in the past year. He said 24, and said that was an acceptable number. I don’t know if he was aware that there’d been at least one per day in the past year. He gave me my condolences, as he understood that NZ was a hotbed of mass shootings. This well informed white 23 year old whose life aspirations were getting a wife, home and jet ski. What an ignorant piece of shit.

The hard lesson that I think I learned. No matter how much I tried to work through any of these ideas, and how inherently problematic/selfish they were, nothing got through. He was locked into his way of thinking. Believing 100 homeless deaths per year were entirely acceptable, with a true faith in a merit based system that didn’t account for people who didn’t have family based safety nets. I asked him, have you ever been bailed out? Then followed that track right the way back to how it would emotionally effect him situation by situation. His excuse each time was “I’d just work harder”. So naive, such a common viewpoint. It’s understandable why we’re so fucked. Still, oddly enough he said he was an NDP voter.

Weird timing? Maybe it was just a weird day.