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.

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Adulthood: It’s less fun when you’re paying for it.

In a bout of chronic bad timing, I feel like I’m starting to come down with some form of flu variant. Pressure at the back of my throat, occasional throbbing right ear, vague dizziness. It’s fine, I have drugs. I’m not here to complain (for once). I more wanted to remark that whenever I start to feel unwell, my mind ticks back to thoughts of being at home. I recall my old blue bedroom with the cutesy carousel curtains. I’m reminded of comforts and that inimitable feeling of safety in being taken care of.

In the past four and a half years, it’s been rare for homesickness to rear its head. It’s still not the case this time either. That being said, it’s possible to cast your mind back and be appreciative of what you had without pangs of regret setting in. For me, a big part of what I enjoyed came from ritual. Little conventions that gave me structure, familiarity, security. Today, couched in mental convalescence, I recalled a two things I do miss from being home.

First up, grocery shopping with my mum. There was something both cathartic and fun about the experience. No matter what age, I loved getting to drive the cart. It was fun to check how each store’s trolleys handled (except those shit ones that for some cursed reason had a singular wheel that got stuck). One important detail to note is that money was always off the table. I wasn’t one of the main household providers, so I didn’t pay for a thing. It’s not like I got to demand everything I wanted, but I got to window shop and sometimes open said window to grasp my desires firsthand.

The aisles held an array of colours and shapes. Food being one of my favourite things (past, present and future tense), trying new varieties and flavours was a grand experiment. Mum would send me on missions to pick up certain items, so I got to zip around and accomplish tasks. Sometimes I’d get to request all new food to fold into the routine. Perhaps I’d get to search through produce for perfect looking fruit. Mum and I would play the guessing game at the register about the final total. Oh, and if it was a shopping night you could be damn sure that we’d pick up a rotisserie chicken, bread rolls and coleslaw for an easy dinner.

That conveniently segued into the next one. Family dinners. I had two older brothers (seven and nine years, respectively) and, for the most part, conversation would be blood-from-a-stone. How were our days? Fine. How was school? Fine. What did our parents expect? Aside from that, there was still conversation. We’d talk about movies or TV we’d seen. I’d hear about my brothers’ experiences at school (I can still remember having my mind blown by my brother talking about CD Rom technology). It forced us to spend time with each other, which was something I think we all secretly appreciated. Once again, there was ritual, structure and inherent comfort. We didn’t lack for our needs. We were fortunate to always have food on the table.

Our parents gave us responsibilities in stages. Tasks to be accomplished were setting the table, clearing the table, loading the dishwasher, and taking care of pots & pans/condiments. The three of us would take turns. There’d be arguments and fights, sure, but the work would get done. Mum was a good cook and we’d be encouraged at helping out with the meal for lenience in the chore department. Maybe if we made a salad, we wouldn’t have to be on pots & pans (the worst and most arduous job). As my brothers aged, they both took interest in cooking. One of my brothers eventually went on to become a chef. Being the little brother, if they thought cooking was cool, of course I wanted in too.

I guess the unifying factor is that both experiences taught me important life skills. In shopping I learned all about nutrition, fiscal responsibility and being critical of what I purchase. Evening dinners taught me meal prep, cleaning up after myself and the joy of a table full of people. Really, they were important stepping stones in how to adult. While on one hand they’re things I miss about being at home, they also helped form the blueprint of what I’d like my home life to be.

More like Artifice & Wankery.

Late night eats. They’re an important part of any good Friday, Saturday or any day ending with a sizeable quantity of alcohol. I didn’t even drink much last night, but after a $14 food truck sandwich filled with sadness and disappointment, I needed a mulligan. My girlfriend and I grabbed a ride home with friends that involved not one, but three fast food stops. Firstly, at Burger King for my friend to grab a veggie burger. Secondly, at Five Guys for a burger, fries and a shake. Lastly at A&W for onion rings. We got dropped home to feast and watch American Vandal until we got sleepy. A good night by any metric.

A&W was confounding though. In their desire to be a wholesome family restaurant, they’ve ascribed familial nomenclature to their nom nom noms. Frankly, their mythos is all over the fucking place.

It goes like this. There’s a Baby burger which has a patty and ketchup. Cute, it’s a basic burger. That tracks so far. The Buddy burger adds grilled onions, mustard and “teen” sauce. It’s odd that it’s not a familial relation, but clearly it’s a friend of teenage descent, right? However, by A&W’s metrics a Teen burger has onion, but it’s not grilled. It has the teen sauce, but also throws in pickles, lettuce, tomato, cheese and pork. If we’re delineating between the two, does this imply that Buddy is some kind of adolescent? Maybe a tween? Buddy’s puberty is in its infancy, but hasn’t fully blossomed into a hormone bound (though according to the byline, the beef patty is hormone and steroid free. How do you get a Teen burger without hormones? Is it grown in a vat?) burger?

Then we start getting into the adults. A Papa burger has two patties, onion, pickles, no tomato or lettuce, but still has teen sauce. Why would an adult burger have teen sauce? There’s some kind of disturbing connotation I’m not comfortable with here. So Papa has no bacon, but double patties. Are we to then draw the inference that extra meat is equivalent to age? But double Teen burgers exist that have two patties. So clearly the quantity of beef doesn’t have those connotations. Also why is a Papa less equipped with a toolbox of delectable toppings? Are we to assume that a Teen is young and passionate, full of potential, whereas a Papa has become resigned, old and tired. Straightforward and linear in his inexorable march towards the grave? But the Uncle burger has all the trimmings of the Teen burger (no teen sauce though), but with upgraded cheese and red onion in lieu of white. What are we supposed to glean from that? The burden of child rearing has quashed Papa’s spirit, but the fun Uncle gets to be fancy and carefree? We have to presume that the Uncle has no kids, because otherwise it would still be a Papa burger (and have two patties, duh). Or is this a way of A&W saying that your perspective (this burger being avuncular to you establishes this as his sole identity) overrules all else?

Hold on though, because there’s a Mama burger. The Mama burger is basically a one patty Papa burger. Why is that a gender dichotomy that’s being drawn? Is there an inverse correlation between the quantity of patties and x chromosomes? Would that mean that the Teen burger is female while the double teen is male? Hold on now A&W, that’s a political, sexist stance to take. If you’re adhering to the rules of your own goddamn mythos, it’s up to you to play within that structure elsewise fall on your sword and admit it’s all bullshit. Why do males inherently have more beef? Are you creating a very visible calf ceiling causing women to inherently limit their own potential?

Wait though. We have the Grandpa burger to contend with. The Grandpa burger is a Mama burger with three patties. Where the fuck did the extra patty come from and what does it symbolise? We’ve already walked through the notion that age and number of patties do not correlate. This is too much. The Grandpa burger collapses under the weight of its own senselessness. What the fuck are you trying to sell here A&W? The notion of a whitewashed nuclear family prescribing to outdated heteronormative ideals? How am I supposed to buy your burgers if I can’t even buy into their expanded universe? It makes no fucking sense and I can’t condone supporting this bollocks financially.

Furthermore who the fuck is Mozza? Why does putting an egg between English muffins suddenly make it an “egger”? Why are chickens exempt from familial hierarchical structures?

To know him is to love him. No question.

My dreams have been an orgy of starfucking lately. Not sure why. Perhaps innate delusions of grandeur or my subconsciousness compensating for my pervasive dour mood. Whatever it is, in moments of reverie I’ve been partying with the rich and famous. The weird thing is, it’s all been tied into this idea that I’m back home in New Zealand. I haven’t lived there in over four years. Why now?

The other night I dreamt that Harmontown was on another tour, except this time it was a world tour. They were travelling around the globe on a combination of flights and tour buses. Thing was, with such a lengthy trip, they wanted all the comforts of home. Accordingly, they were making stops along the route to sleep over at fans’ houses. In the dream it made sense. They wanted hot meals, soft beds and showers. It was part outreach, but mostly for comfort’s sake. I’d volunteered my parents’ place, since it had gratuitous bedrooms and more than all of the comforts of home. Dan, Jeff, Spencer et al drove the bus down their long, steep driveway and somehow parked on that slanty bastard of a hill.

It was a dream come true (in the dream, at least). We all sat around the table, wolfing down pancakes and orange juice. Somehow in my dream I knew it was dinner time, which only made it better. Why not breakfast for dinner when you’re hosting company? There was an amicable, familial atmosphere and nothing performative. I didn’t feel nervous, there was no status imbalance, nothing. Just a nice meal around the table. Then one of my friends (a fellow fan) came around to join in and I started waking up. As I roused from rest, I blamed her for bringing me back to this harsh, unforgiving reality. Several days later, I still do.

Last night I dreamt that I had a decent part in The Big Sick, the Kumail Nanjiani/Emily V. Gordon romantic comedy. As a fan of their previous work, it was gratifying to be able to not only meet them, but have an active role in bringing the story of their relationship to light. They were warm and friendly on-set and off. Enough that once the job was over, we still kept in touch.

Not only that, but I had an unexpected and newfound celebrity in public. The kind that rarely exists in real life, but dream logic had no issue spoon feeding me. I did talk shows, podcasts, etc. People on the street would say hi, but not be pushy demanding my time. The role hadn’t been big enough to warrant it, after all. It was nice to feel respected and admired, but I didn’t feel like my privacy was being compromised. Lucky, eh?

I awoke from the dream, went to the bathroom and fell back asleep. The next dream retained my dream logic from the previous one. In this dream, however, I met Jeff Goldblum. Kind of. In this dream I’d supposedly always known Jeff Goldblum. I was walking past the Bridgeway Theatre in Northcote Point and Jeff waved at me. “Hey bud, remember me?” He asked. I paused for a second. Did we meet on set somewhere? I thought. How would I know Jeff Goldblum? He’s many rungs above my level. He did my job for me. “Don’t you remember the time you went for a bike ride and got locked out?” He inquired.

I thought to myself for a second and it sprang to mind. Of course, I was a little kid and I’d whipped out on my BMX to bike under the bridge. I had a great ride around The Point, but when I arrived back nobody was home. I didn’t have my key on me and this was a pre-cellphone time. I’d knocked on the door of my mysterious new neighbour to ask if they could help me out. A tall man welcomed me in (zero fear of stranger danger) and I used his phone to ring my parents at the office. My mum came to pick me up and Jeff became a close family friend. It was mega weird that I’d forgotten all that history with someone I’d grown up around. I chastised myself and my poor memory.

Even as I woke, the dream logic still seemed so real. I’ve thought to myself a bunch of times today did I really not know Goldblum?

Though that begs the question, can anyone really know Jeff Goldblum?

As you would expect, I give waiters TMI every single time.

When I was a kid, my favourite egg dish by far was Eggs with Soldiers. Called dippy eggs by some (we in the biz call them “Dip-Shits”), they still remain a wondrous combination of ovum and military imagery.

Eggs and Soldiers were no mere dish, they were an event. Not only did I get to eat them from my top notch Bunnykins egg cups, but there was process and tradition. When I was small enough to fit into a high chair, mum would scoop out the egg’s viscera and tip it into the cup. She’d mix it together and create a homogeneous warm savoury mush, just like I loved it. I had one piece of toast that she’d mix-spread. One half would have plain margarine, the other would have vegemite (back when I was subjected to the tyranny of living in a vegemite household). She’d then cut it into strips for my dipping pleasure. The crusts were straightforward, I’d dunk ’em and munch ’em. The in between parts were more of a challenge. I tried dunking them like the crusts, but they’d bend and fold uselessly. How was I meant to get adequate coverage with such flimsy materials? I wasn’t gonna risk scalding my fingers in the lava-like egg innards. Eventually I figured out a plan. I’d take the floppy strip and fold it in half, thus reinforcing its stability. Then I could dunk away and what was more, I could get a double dose of margarine goodness in each bite. Flawless.

As I aged, techniques changed. I moved up to a two toast man. No longer did a slice of heat-forged bread have to face its own duality, each piece had its individuality intact. Moreover, I now had access to a spoon of my own. By this point my mum couldn’t be bothered scooping and mixing, figuring I was old enough to dunk within the fragile exoskeleton of the egg. She’d lop off the top and leave the rest in place. This was a new obstacle to work around. I still folded the middle pieces, but now in lieu of dunking them, I’d spoon some of the eggy flesh into the sling-like apparatus I’d constructed. With poise and balance, I’d navigate the faux dumpling towards my mouth and devour the package, leaving only the small crust pieces to reckon with. With age had come dexterity and I could deftly descend the delicate dough-debris into the desired detritus.

We all need to grow up at some point. The time came when I learned to soft boil my own eggs. Also my parents recognised my needs as a marmite muncher and began to stock a small jar just for me. My hunger for bread transformed me into a three toast teenager (like my dad had been). We all know that teenagers love excess and I’d become an avatar of appetites. My hubris had become such that I’d take one middle piece of margarine toast, one piece of marmite and smoosh them together, then dunk as one. I’d flown too close to the sun and I loved it. I had become the master of my own destiny, met with the goddess and atoned with the father having changed. This was some Campbellian shit. I felt reborn. My own man.

And now I know what I’m having for dinner tonight.

As the wise philosophers Destiny’s Child once said: “Question”.

I’ve got no salient thoughts right now. One of the pitfalls of my current schedule is that I often end up writing at the end of a workday. I’m drained and mentally flaccid (though alternatively being mentally turgid is equally as abhorrent. Perhaps I should stop comparing my brain’s most complex organ with my most cum-plex one) and the result is commonly lacklustre. Surprise surprise, it’s hard to be inspired when your day hasn’t been. I hope you’re not looking for some grand proclamation here. This isn’t time for a state of the nation style address. I’m moreso looking to fill time and pad out while making it seem like I have a topic to roll with. Spoiler, I don’t. So I’m gonna look elsewhere for inspiration. Note, the questions I’m getting are unlikely to match yours.

Have you ever been in any YouTube videos?

I might be in more, but I know that somewhere on the internet there’s a video of some dude on a drug freakout at Lollapalooza 2011. I was not that dude, but I was watching that dude. It was hard not to. He was garbed in a tartan skirt, rolling around in the mud while his peen was lollapalooza-ing all about. I was pretty drunk at the time, but I was doubled over with laughter. My hope is that I’ve learned to dress better, but at the time I was garbed in not only a silly trilby, but white socks with black shoes. If I needed some kind of indication of emotional growth, that’d be it.

How would you define success?

I’d say some combination of self-satisfaction and love. On a personal level, it’s having people to confide in, feeling like you’re contributing to the lives of those around you. Warmth and humour in abundance. Meeting goals and challenges set for oneself. On a professional level, there’s gotta be fulfilment in the work you do. You don’t have to love every moment of your job, but being able to sit back and think you know what? This is alright every once in a while means something.

What do you like to do on a rainy day?

The same thing I do every day Pinky, marathon TV shows, play video games, eat excessive amounts of delicious food, snuggle up with a warm body and drape myself in cozy things.

What things are you passionate about?

Mostly things that don’t matter. Good writing in pop culture. Clever, emotionally devastating or gripping. Humour that challenges pre-existing structures and does its job of punching up. Hearing music that makes me feel something, whether that’s giddy, distraught or cowed with wonderment. Words. Puns, mostly. Apples.

Are you smarter than your parents?

No idea. I’m more educated than my parents, but I feel like that’s symptomatic of a generational divide. My parents encouraged me towards education, so that’s points for them. They’re certainly wiser than I am, but in that case they’re older than me. With age comes wisdom, or thereabouts the maxim goes. At the same time, my brain is younger and thus probably more pliable, quick. This question is odd.

What was the last book you read?

I don’t read nearly enough, but when the film adaptation of The Dark Tower was announced, it encouraged me to go back and start the series. I got two books in and fell off the wagon. I’ll probably go back maybe. Possibly. Aren’t TV shows the new literature these days?

What do you wear to sleep?

Ennui.

 

Well wasn’t that a fun departure from the norm? It feels like cheating, but considering there’s no real point to this project other than getting words on a page, I’m not sure if cheating is possible. Is it? Ask my parents, they’re clearly wiser than me.

A plea for coffee more than anything else.

I went out for dinner with family last night. It was nice and some parts of it have stayed with me. Namely the parts blocking up my digestive tract. We ate a lot of meat. More than that, it was a good chance to catch up and chat extensively. EXTENSIVELY I say. We all got there earlier than our 7pm reservation and left at 10:30pm. Then we did late night ice cream for dessert. I think the only reason we ceased our catching up and extensive chatting was that the ice cream joint was shutting down and my girlfriend needed to use the bathroom.

I’d say shit happens, but I’m gonna need a coffee before anything’s happening in my system.

Anyway, we shot the shit, chewed the fat and talked ourselves to death. It was a great chance to discuss all manner of issues with people at a different stage of life than us, who have experienced the world in a different manner. I don’t want to make it sound like they’re eternal vampires who’ve witnessed the turn of many centuries. They’re not that old, but I’d wager being on the other side of having borderline adult children gives you a different perspective from disillusioned avocado toast munching snake people who’ve abandoned this cesspool of a world in favour of retiring to Never Never Land.

I dunno. I got worked up and ranted a little bit. Not like this is a huge deviation from the norm. At one stage I was asked something about coping mechanisms. In short, if everything seems dark out, how do you lighten up? I thought about it for a while, then went to the domain of thought: the bathroom. I certainly wasn’t doing much else there, the dinner had been lacking in dietary fibre (though overflowing with some manner of moral fibre). I considered it and later reflected. Escapism was my answer. Drinking, eating, watching endless TV shows, deep diving into video games. Many hours of mindless internet perusing. Basically all numbing behaviour. The response to a world in which seems to be circling the drain.

I posited that this kind of mentality had coloured the humour of this generation. I thought back to Generation X and the rise of sarcasm as humour in response to feelings of discontent. I considered this generation’s reliance on memes. Sarcasm, irony, meta narratives where the joke is on larger structures that society enables. Nihilism as common parlance. An understanding that we’re all fucked and if we don’t laugh about it, we’ll have no recourse but to cry. Frankly, we can only cry so much in a day.

I wanna point out that I’m not naive or ignorant enough to steadfastly believe that absolutely everything in the world is on fire. Small victories exist all over the place, it’s frankly just hard to see them through the smoke sometimes. Of course social media and groupthink play a big part in it. Disasters draw more notice than wins. We have rubbernecking on a global scale at a frequency that’s causing whiplash. I’m sure there are amazing scientific discoveries and advancements occurring every day. I’m sure that there’s probably more good in the world than bad. Thing is, you can only walk two steps forward, one step back for so long before you start focusing on how much further ahead you could be.

I mean, didn’t we all think we beat the Nazis over 70 years ago?