I considered making this a Hirsute Yourself entry, but it was a bit on the fringe.

I don’t know how much further procrastination I can do. It’s 10:20pm and I obviously haven’t finished today’s writing yet. In fact, I’m about as far as you’ve currently read. I’ve been meaning to get around to it for the past three or so hours, but each time I find another excuse to not get around to it. First it was dinner, then watching Fargo, then dishes, etc. The internet itself was pretty damn distracting, whether it was random Magic the Gathering content, Facebook or AV Club reviews. By now though, I’ve run out of those meagre excuses and anything further would be tantamount to self-sabotage. With no pressing subject matter on my mind, it’s gonna be a bullet point kind of entry:

  • I got a mediocre haircut today. My usual salon (oh, we fancy) was closed so I roamed Bloor St in search of anywhere that was open. I’ve got a wedding coming up next weekend and I wanted to make sure I got it clipped by then. I figured I had spare time and it’d free up the pressure to get it done during the week. I ended up in a barber shop close to Bathurst. My barber had started his shift while I was waiting and I was his first cut of the day. If he had any fucks to give yet, he certainly wasn’t wearing them on his sleeves. It was a pretty basic cut. The guy I normally go to does all kinds of fancy texturing and whatnot, plus he knows how I like my fringe. This guy did not. He seemed pretty chuffed with the job he’d done and I’ve always had a hard time bucking up and asking hairdressers to fix things. The cut was surprisingly four dollars more expensive than my usual one. Plus the fringe was noticeably cringeworthy. It’s basically the most noticeable thing about hair on a face. I guess it’s kind of a big deal. Hours later I stood looking at myself in the mirror, not stoked with how things looked. Against my better judgement, I reached into the bathroom drawer and pulled out a pair of small hair scissors. I have no experience cutting my own hair. I’m not aesthetically gifted in basically any fashion. Knowing these things, I decided that it looked terrible enough to take action. He’d cut my fringe in a straight line on an angle, so it looked like a weird, flat, lopsided ‘U’. I took the scissors and started making small snips to break up the strange curve. Give it a bit of texture, y’know? With each cut, I felt less confident about what I was doing. Still, I made sure to keep things asymmetrical. Then after a few more cuts I began feeling incrementally more confident. I put the scissors down and took a look. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better. Easy to ignore. I’d said fie to my worries and come out on top. Also I learned my lesson to never again take chances in my life. Or at least my hair. It turns out shitty most every time.
  • As always, I had a weird dream last night. I remember none of it except for giving my girlfriend this sage advice: “Well if you like farting and sitting then maybe you’d be into pooping.” True wisdom.
  • Saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 yesterday. Without any spoilers, it was an incredibly enjoyable film. The kind of film where you don’t want it to end because one scene after another you’re having such a blast. The soundtrack was awesome (having become such an integral part of the film), the colour palette was gorgeous, the battle scenes were fantastically set out. Really, really funny. Concurrently, I’m not sure it was a ‘good’ movie per se. It didn’t do a ton to advance the overall narrative or characters. That being said, I love that they made the decision to create a wonderfully engaging movie experience instead of leaning hard into the Marvel Infinity War through line. It’s also hard to feel like this criticism meant that the film didn’t succeed at everything it set out to do. So many fun character moments and sequences. I had a great time seeing a big budget blockbuster. I don’t know that I expected them to deliver anything more than that.

There, finished. Now I can finally get around to procrastinating about going to bed.

Solipsister Act.

It sometimes surprises me how self-aware my dreams are. Last night I found myself at work. Well, in a new job anyway. I’d been employed at some large theatre (in the musicals and one person shows sense) but it wasn’t immediately clear what I did. I sat at a piano mounted somewhere within the crowd. I had my own little area, but was totally enmeshed in the audience. I wasn’t facing towards the stage, more so I was on the left hand side, looking towards the centre of the seating. Right in the middle, there was some dude with a massive keyboard/organ contraption. In retrospect he must’ve been blocking everyone behind him. No complaining from the cheap seats, I guess.

This fella was the main musical maestro of the show. A one man orchestra, he handled a ridiculous assortment of tunes, fingers tickling the keys like little spider legs. On the other hand, I sat at my old ragtime piano, dressed like an usher in a vintage movie theatre. A blazer with those gold buttons on both sides. Little cap and everything. I told the musician dude that I was flattered, but ill suited for the position. I had no musical talent and couldn’t even read it. He told me not to worry, that it was a player piano. Entirely automated. All I had to do was sit there and make it look like I had some idea of what I was doing. Okay, so I was an actor then? I could handle this.

Time passed and shifts came and went. For some reason I was a crowd favourite, even though I’d told my secret all my friends who came to see the show. Nonetheless I was a hit, profiting off the hard work of some piano robot. Fine by me. I settled into my new life away from the television industry and time passed pleasantly. After a while I began training new recruits. One show night I’d been working with a new guy, but he couldn’t find his uniform. It was cutting close to the show. We searched all the dressing rooms, backstage, through the props and costume rooms, but found zilch. I heard the opening notes playing out from the theatre and realised I was just about to miss my cue. The fucking show had started! I bolted out as fast as I could. I got to my piano and faced an angry crowd. Our resident maestro threw down his hat and stormed out. The crowd looked towards me expectantly.

All of a sudden I heard a voice from the audience. It was my girlfriend singing some pop song. After a beat or two, backing music slipped in behind her, likely from the sound tech in the booth out back. The crowd turned to her and started clapping. She finished and bowed. Then someone else from the crowd rose up and picked a song. Once again, accompaniment kicked in right away. Sound techs earning their keep many times over. Then another. The show turned into karaoke en masse. Success!

Not all voices were equal and my girlfriend was very clearly the star. She had a better vocal range and projection than the rest of the amateurs. It didn’t go unnoticed. After the surprise hit of the show, I took her aside to thank her.

Me: That was amazing. Thanks so much for filling in.
Her: It felt like the right thing to do, plus I had fun.
Me: Yeah. Well you were clearly better than the rest of the crowd. Your vocal range in particular.
Her: Don’t be silly. This is your dream, right? So in reality while I seem like me, I’m just another projection of you. That means you’re the one with the great vocal range.
Me: That’s not how dreams work. Like, I may have created you as a character, but that doesn’t mean that your skills in this dream translate to real life.
Her: You’re totally wrong.
Me: No way. I dream that I have telekinesis or Spider Man powers all the time in dreams. That never happens in real life.
Her: We’ll just have to disagree then. So are you gonna write about this tomorrow?
Me: I guess. Unless something momentous happens during the day. I’ve got nothing else remarkable to write about.
Her: Is this really that remarkable a dream?
Me: Well if you don’t think so in this dream, then I guess I don’t either. Let’s leave that to any readers to decide.

Can we go back to the ones where I have super powers?

Like most every other human around, work sucks at the moment. Day after day it feels like death by a thousand cuts. The thing I always respected about my job was that it was something I could ignore. Punch in, do the work, punch out and go home. It was breezy and stress free. I knew full well my job didn’t matter and I’d be replaced by machines in sub five years, but that was fine, I’d be gone by then. Increasingly since the merger, more systems and procedures have been put in place that’ve micromanaged my day to day and needlessly complicated things. With dwindling autonomy, I’m beyond ready to leave the job I already wanted to leave two years back. So far the opportunities I’ve gone for have all come back blank. I know things will get better eventually, but for now it feels like I’m gonna be here in ten years with every day being that same shade of mediocre or worse. Barrel of monkeys, it ain’t.

The last job I had before leaving home was as part of a fascinating project. I was digitising and cataloguing a massive archive of National Radio content. It’d all been recorded onto open reel tape and cassette. I’d port the content into a computer, then go through and export each individual show as a separate file. While the duties of the job itself remained the same, the material would vary wildly. Recordings would differ in audio quality and clarity of content. Early recordings were some professor recording the radio haphazardly and left no record of what was on each tape. So I’d have to sleuth them. Going to the library and looking up old radio schedules. Listening out for snippets of time checks, familiar hosts’ voices, or world events we’d be able to date by pouring over Google News archives from the 60s forward. Even when it was difficult, it was fascinating. My boss was this lovely old guy who’d dedicated his life to audio technology and preservation techniques. He was so patient and wise, always happy to explain something no matter how many times it took to sink in. Very sharp thinker. He was the life of that archive and so passionate about what he did. I remember him sadly remarking to me once that he couldn’t bring himself to retire, since there were very few people in the country who’d be knowledgeable enough to continue his work after he’d gone. He wanted to hold on long enough to do everything he possibly could so future generations would have access to the wealth of material.

I had this dream last night that felt all too real. Like, nobody had the head of a fish or overabundant limbs or anything. I’d left my job and returned home to New Zealand, tail (metaphorical only) between my legs. Rather than spending time with friends or loved ones, I went straight out to find a new job, picking up where I left off. I went straight to my old boss to see if there were any projects he’d need a hand with. He told me that once I’d left they couldn’t find anyone to take on the VCR project he’d hoped I would’ve picked up, so he’d be able to put me straight on that. I gratefully took him up on the offer and started straight away. I got into a rhythm and soon enough months had passed and my old normal became my new normal. I’d always liked the job and time away hadn’t diminished it at all. My boss though, seemed less animated than he had last time around. Less passion and more feverish working late into the night. I became worried that he wasn’t doing so well and made a point of checking in on him regularly. He said he was fine, but things really seemed off. I continued plugging away at my work, but with a nagging feeling at the base of my brain.

I looked up an old co-worker who’d helped us out on the project. Wonderful older woman who’d had endless amazing, fascinating life experiences. She said that a week after I’d left, my boss’s​ wife had passed away without warning. He’d taken it hard and his grief had transitioned to workaholism. He’d been throwing himself into trying to finish whatever he could before he too passed and his knowledge died with him. He hadn’t even been leaving the office recently. I went back to work, took one step in the door and begun sobbing uncontrollably. I woke up trembling and all day I’ve been unable to shake it from my mind. I know it was just a dream, but I can’t get rid of this sense that it wasn’t.

A sure shank redemption.

I’ve been 30 for several months now and 30 is great. I’ve felt more secure in the ‘me’ I bring to the world. Cared less about what others thought and put focus into the energy I’ve exuded. There’s been no fear of having peaked, because it’s becoming increasingly clear that I’ve got more of my life in front of me than behind. Tonight though, it all changes. Tonight I soar upwards into a crescendo. I’ll high five my zenith and coast for the rest of my life secure in the knowledge that not only have I lived, but for one night was magnificently alive, positively charged with potential. Tomorrow I’ll step foot into a plodding decline but tonight? Tonight I’m the master of my own destiny.

I’m speaking of course of the fact that there’s currently eight kilos of bone in ham shank waiting to be carved in my kitchen.

Eight goddamn kilos. That’s so much fucking ham. All for the low low price of $16. I’m sure you think you know how much eight kilos is, but you’ll find that you’re mistaken. If you were to have a ham sandwich, 150 grams would be a decent sandwich. I could have 60 of those. I’ve got enough ham that I can experiment. Ever had ham curry? Neither have I, but what if it’s a taste sensation waiting to happen? Summer’s coming up. If I’m overheated and hungry, why not kill two birds with small frozen chunks of pig? I could have a hamburger, but with literal ham in lieu of buns. A world of possiblity is unfolding in front of my eyes.

The last time something like this (though not nearly the same magnitude. I’m pretty sure that was a mere four kilos) I had spiral cut ham to work with. It was pre-sliced and hard to truly mess up. This time it’s just meat on a bone. I’m gonna need to employ actual technique in order to maximise meatficciency. This ain’t no two bit operation, it’s a big bite operation. I’ve done my research, but theory has nothing on practice. Thankfully it’s pretty methodical. I need to cut a few slices from the narrower side in order to have a flat base to work from. With that achieved, I can cut thin vertical slices from the top of the shank down to the bone. I then simply cut along the bone horizontally and the slices will fall off. Repeating as such for all four sides will have the job virtually finished and all I’ll need to do with be straighten out the odd shaped bits. Likely with my mouth, in all honesty. It sounds possible, I just need to think confidently. If all goes terribly wrong, at least the whole eight kilos is divided between two shanks. If I butcher the first (maybe the one situation where that verb falls flat), by the second, I’ll have ascended to mastery. Or butchery, as the case may be.

Holy shit folks, I’m just about to walk in the door. Are you excited? Doesn’t matter. I’m excited enough for all of you combined. TIME TO PIG OUT.

Never never? Call me JaPeter JaPan.

Hi there. I’ve got no idea where this is going, so keep your hands inside the cart and let’s all enjoy the ride.

I haven’t been to an amusement park in longer than I’d like. Last time I went was to Canada’s Wonderland. The weather was borderline scummy, which was great. The park was sparsely attended through threat of rain. My cousin and I cleared every ride in under two hours. At one point they closed the rides for all of 15 minutes, so we got lunch. The rest of the afternoon was spent doubling/tripling back on all the rides we loved (I got to take Behemoth six times!). Pretty much ideal. I’m a big fan of roller coasters or basically anything that allows me to get as close to g-force in my extremities as possible. I don’t typically get scared on rides. It’s no brag, but a faith in rigorous safety testing and statistics. Discounting that horrific freak accident at Dream World (on a fucking benign river ride of all things), large scale amusement parks tend to be pretty safe. If I feel like I’m not in any danger, extreme rides feel fun, not frightening.

It makes sense for me to be thinking about amusement parks. A friend of mine just came back from a holiday to LA, which naturally involved a trip to Disneyland. I did the Disney parks in Orlando as a kid and had the time of my life. When I think of stuff I’d like to do on vacation, going to a bunch of theme parks would be right up there. I’m still a child (with larger limbs) and the thrill of going on a bunch of rides, but with the executive decisions and flexibility of being an adult, is palpable.

Good thing, because once again I’ve got vacation I need to use.

I don’t know how I ended up with another five days. It looks like I miscalculated my vacation days over the past six months and I still had a few to take. They allowed me to roll over the five days on the proviso that I use them up over the next few months. So once more I’m in the enviable position of having to decide where I’d like to travel.

To be honest, I’ve always wanted to travel to Japan. Since being a child obsessed with anime, Disney and video games, it’s been top of my list. As kids, we had a succession of Japanese au pair who stayed with our family. It was a pretty neat cultural influence that left me with fond memories. Visiting Japan has been a dream of mine ever since. Financially I haven’t been in the position to follow through, but I’m fortunate for that now to be a reality. For the next two months it’ll be Spring there, which seems the perfect time to visit. I could do a Tokyo trip, visit Disneyland, check out some beautiful old temples and finally tick it off the bucket list. There’ll be sake and sakura and everything. What’ve I got holding me back?

Right now? Logistics and planning. I’d love to do the trip with a friend, to have someone I can bounce ideas off in a foreign country. I don’t speak or read the language (though I’m sure that hasn’t stopped others before). I don’t know my way around Toyko, the transport system, the best spots to visit and how much things should generally cost. Trip planning has never been a strong skill of mine. As always, there are endless resources on the internet and I definitely have friends who’ve been there. So really, it’s on me to get off my arse and look into it. Dreams rarely come true without a lot of hard work.

Still, that’d be one hell of a ride.

If I was a contender, I’d go by the name MeLeeon.

When I was around seven or eight years old, I thought medieval stuff was the coolest. I still loved super heroes and transformers, dinosaurs were right up there, but medieval anything was a newfound obsession. It started exactly where you’d expect: Reading King Arthur. Here was a person who came to rule through exceptional circumstance. He started with nothing and ended up a king. If that wasn’t enough, he surrounded himself with a bunch of badass knights who all had their unique skills and attributes. To an eight year old, Arthur was pretty rad, but Lancelot was where it was at. The greatest swordsman in the land, but not an infallible hero. Even at that age I was drawn to characters with flaws, anti-heroes or those whose moral compass veered slightly off due north. I thought the whole affair with Guinevere thing was a bit shit, but created an interesting conflict. Then along came Galahad, who seemed too righteous to be any fun.

Finishing the book caused me to dive deep into fantasy novels. Courageous heroes wielding swords, shields and axes. Grizzly monsters and fire-breathing dragons. Magic and back-stabbery galore. I fucking ate it up. I fell hard for Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf series and its diverse skillsets of magika and mental abilities. I loved Diablo and Warcraft, tried Dungeons and Dragons. I devoured Song of Ice and Fire, which went on to become the biggest fucking thing in the world. To this day I still play Magic the Gathering heavily. As it stands though, there’s still one thing I have yet to do to really harness my love of fantasy. In three hours, there won’t be.

I’ve never visited Medieval Times.

I first saw it on the 1996 Jim Carrey film The Cable Guy. It looked amazing, but also didn’t seem real. I was convinced that it was just invented for the film. Keep in mind that this was pre-internet and I lived across the other side of the world where it certainly didn’t exist. A friend and I took a trip to Chicago once and found out they had one. Without a car though, it would’ve been way too far out of the way. Disappointed. We then did a road trip across America, but still didn’t come close enough to one. Then I moved to Toronto and discovered that not only was there a Medieval Times, but they did birthday discounts. HOLY SHIT.

Three years have passed since then and I still have yet to go. Tonight however, tonight is the knight. I get a 45% discount through work, which makes it pretty damn reasonable for a night out. I’m pumped. It’s not logical how stoked I am right now. Friends are coming over, we’re gonna have drinks then go out to see the fantasy world of my childhood come to life. You know those moments where you’re reduced to that state of youthful wonder? I feel like that already and I’m not even dressed yet. Thing is, I don’t even know what I’m in for. It sounds dumb, but I’m not actually sure what the show contains. I assume jousting and sword fights. People have said you get a crown. I know that one of my co-workers used to play the executioner as a part time job back in college. We’re gonna get a big meal and drink beer. I may go hoarse from cheering on our very own Lancelot. I’ll likely be amped up from a little pre-drink before we go.

Goddamn I’m excited and the more I talk about it, the more excited I’m getting. Is this how normal people feel about watching sports? Why don’t we go out to watch athletes joust and melee any more?

Who cares? I WILL TONIGHT!

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.”