Today was the day I became a man. My K Bar Mitzvah, if you will

I’d like to take a minute or 30 to talk about New Zealand snacks.

I caught myself in a rabbit hole last night, getting sucked into the myriad snack foods that defined my childhood. There were so many. NZ snacks are pretty adventurous, especially in comparison to those I find here in Canada. I don’t know, Kiwis really push the boundaries when it comes to flavour and texture. Don’t just take my word for it, read this sublime piece of NZ journalism (please do, it’s a fantastic piece and Madeline Chapman is a talented, hilarious writer) detailing the many many types of chips that line our supermarket shelves.

I feel like it’s important to mention NZ’s corn based snacks. Perhaps not because they’re the most hard baked part of our national moreish consciousness, but because I liked them a lot. Burger Rings. If that name means nothing to you, you’re likely sane. Burger Rings occupied a similar position as Funyuns and/or Bugles. They were tactile, and fancy as shit. As a kid, your fingers could be doused in cheeto-esque dust, as you displayed your abundant wealth for all to see. Looking down on all the playground plebs with their chicken chip bullshit. When they called them “rings”, they did not stutter. They were the perfect size, though presumably as an adult they’d fit as far as my nails. And the taste? Ostensibly “burger”, whatever that means. They had abundant tang with a sumptuous umami flavour. An excellent snack option.

There also were a bunch of corn/cheese options I fucking loved. Biguns. BIGUNS. The same kind of jewellery based shenanigans as Burger Rings, but with added CHONK. Imagine a cheese ball that could envelop your finger. That’s the magnitude of what you were dealing with. Dense but puffy corn resplendent with cheese dust. Packed right through with flavour. I fucking loved Biguns, and Cheezels, their more economical but less outrageous cousins. Oh, not to forget the bacon based Rashuns. Those were some DENSE chips. Goddamn Bluebird monopolised the 90s savoury snack market.

Truthfully, I was never much of a savoury snacker. I’m a sweet boy at heart. When it comes to lollies (the Kiwi word for “candy”), my heart was abundant. I never got much into Snifters, though as an adult I’d probably fall right in love. Snifters. A candy shell, chocolate layer, and chewy mint candy centre. K Bars were hard, chewable candy concoctions. They clung to your teeth, lest you forget that you’d just ingested pure sugar. They’d last for ages, a marvel considering they were dirt cheap. Jafas are the quintessential Kiwi movie candy, as far as I know. Not least because they became slang as nationwide disdain for Aucklanders (Just Another Fucking Aucklander). They had an orange candy shell and dark chocolate centre. Think a bite sized crunchy Terry’s chocolate orange.

I think it’s time we talk about the elephant in the room. Or rather, the fucking menace in the movie theatre. Stay with me. Tangy Fruits. Tangy Fruits were iconic for several reasons. They came in substantial little pottles, which were practically only available at movie theatres. They were dense but chewable, colourful fruit lollies. They were, much like K Bars, pure sugar. Now. I don’t think you can understand from that picture just how many there were in a pottle. There were too many, not just for a child, but straight up an unfathomable quantity of sweetness. Kids would get them for the movies and inevitably eat too many. Sugar crash, sickness, raging energy. Whatever it was, they made films damn near unwatchable. Not only would kids up the back do Tangy Fruit races down the aisles, but in the last third of the film, things would get batshit.

See, there was some combination of the lolly’s density and the big plastic pottle that gave it a loud and specific resonance when shook. Agitated and energetic kids would shake these containers so fucking hard, that it’d get difficult to follow the movie. Just a bunch of little fucking wildlings shaking these damn things around like the thunder of wardrums. Little shits everywhere disturbing the peace, with no regard for narrative structure. To be fair, if you had that much artificial energy coursing through your young veins in an enclosed space, what would you do? It’s a marvel we didn’t tear up the upholstery. I so dearly want some tangy fruits right now, always and forever, but nothing good lasts that long. Much like most great Kiwi candy, they’ve been discontinued and only live on in my deepest fantasies.

R.I.P. My childhood.

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In pokemon it’s pronounced “Kakuna Rattata”

Before any ranting starts, I want to run a valid disclaimer. None of what I’m about to say actually matters. My opinion is not important, and should not deter anyone from any desired activity they choose to pursue. We’re all adults here (I can’t earnestly advise any children to read anything I write. I think it would be ill-advised at best, and actively harmful at worst), and we can choose how we want to spend our lives. I, for instance, climb atop dumb moral high horses and canter around. It serves nobody, least of all myself. The one saving grace is that my errant venting tuckers me out, and likely prevents me from spilling any additional unnecessary vitrtiol, which can only be a positive thing. I don’t have to possess an opinion here, and the notion of people being allowed to like the thing they like as long as they’re not actively harmful to others stands true as ever. With that said.

Fuck this Lion King film.

I say that as someone who grew up with this film. I say that as someone who saw the film in theatres. I say that as someone who made an ardent effort to collect every little bit of promotional material companies would churn out in an effort to get kids goading their parents into visiting their establishment. BP Lion King sticker collection? Check. I probably had little toys, or soft toys or something. I say this as someone who loved the Sega Genesis game. I say this as someone who used to “play house”, but as Simba and Nala with my childhood crush (and how did I not turn out to be a furry?). I say this as someone whose parents’ friends lent them the NTSC VHS of The Lion King (and the cover had a blue, not orange sky), so I had to switch my VCR from PAL, and I watched it no less than 30 times in those few weeks, sometimes multiple times per day. I say this as someone who went along with friends to the theatre 2011 re-release they did with printed sheets of all the song lyrics, bringing every intention of singing along. I say this as someone who, at age 31, excitedly got same day tickets to the broadway musical in London.

Fuck this Lion King film. Disney is wasting our time and doing a disservice to one of their most venerated/beloved movies in their catalogue. It looks fucking terrible, the reviews are not favourable, and it’s going to make a TERRIFYING amount of money.

THIS IS A KIDS’ FILM. The original Lion King delighted audiences with its balance of pathos and magical realism. It was a cartoon, with a wonderfully diverse colour palette and wacky sequences. Timon and Pumbaa were fourth wall breaking loons. There were broadway throwbacks, that whole hula thing. It was silly, and a joyous celebration of imagination. The new film has decided to take a super grounded take, complete with animals devoid of human style features. How are we supposed to connect to these characters when they’re basically CGI Mr Ed? I’m not throwing shade at the animators. It looks gorgeous, no doubt. It’s very much cutting edge stuff, but the decision to cut back on the more fanciful aspects of the film are every part a disappointment.

LOOK AT THIS SHIT. It’s a fucking Aaron Sorkin style walk and talk. Then look at THIS marvellous sumbitch. They use the animation to its fullest. There are spotlights, visual metaphors, even those bugs look goddamn delicious.

The cast is AMAZING. It is. Beyonce’s new song is awesome. But the whole experience is cheapened by the notion that Disney is supposed to be redoing its classics in live action. This film, entirely CGI, shits on that idea. It’s so fucking cynical and crude it makes me want to puke. There’s no point to this film beyond just making oceans of currency (curren-sea?). They’re not looking to push the envelope and create something visionary, they’re looking to create moolah.

Look. I’m very very happy with the idea of giving a new generation of kids something to be excited about and cherish for years. I don’t like to shit on things just because they weren’t from my childhood. I strongly believe that kids deserve good quality entertainment (’cause I adored pop-culture as a child and I only want everyone else to have the best too). Thing is, the originals still fulfill all of this, and I’m not sure that this new film will really be thought about in 20 years’ time. Except in jest, maybe.

At some point I may get to a “no worries” place on this. Hakuna Matata, however, is a long way off. I mean, for the rest of my days? That’s a while away.

I never believed I’d unironically contemplate “won’t somebody please think of the children?”

Here in Canada, it’d be funny watching all this conservative political kvetching over fuel prices rising 4c a litre, if it wasn’t so sobering knowing that people are buying into the moral panic.

Fuel prices in NZ have been over $2 a litre for at least the past 10 years. A rise of 4c per litre is just what we call “a Tuesday”. The economy hasn’t imploded, the sky hasn’t fallen, and realistically the difference annually of a 4c per litre price hike would be pretty much covered by the tax break being offered. If you have a 60L engine, that’s like $2.50 more per fill up. It’s not great, but it’s also not backbreaking.

I don’t mean to suggest that everyone has the resources to “just get a new fuel efficient car”. I do mean to imply that a lot of people own luxury vehicles, and that part of owning a luxury vehicle is accepting that it costs more to run. People 100% deserve to have nice things and enjoy those nice things, but if the operational costs of those nice things push you beyond your means, surely there’s a consideration of how those things are impacting your life?

I know what it’s like to pay through the nose for gas, and rely on that mobility to live your life. It’s entirely anecdotal, but back when I lived in a small town and travelled home to the big city once every week or two, it was costing $120+ to fill up my car. I had to fill up probably 5 times a month. I was earning $30K annually, it was a massive cost, and really did impact my cash flow. It was like paying a second rent. AFAIK we also did not have a tax rebate to offset this, we just ate it. It sucked. I’m certainly not saying that rising fuel prices aren’t an issue. I am saying that it’s absolute rubbish that the head of the conservative party is texting Ontarians, irrespective of political affiliation, to say that this 4c per litre price rise is a big enough issue to warrant a change in government. Or that things would be any different under their power.

A friend of mine rightfully noted that it’s baffling how consumers are being made to pay for the environmental abuse driven by corporate interests. Companies should be held accountable. Of course this is all part of a larger fucked up societal notion that consumers are the ones who a) should be making the effort and b) have the capacity to make an impact, when their footprint pales in comparison to those of corporations. See also plastic straws, recycling, etc etc. Consumer output is a drop in the ocean, but we’re told that if we do our part we can solve global warming. That’s a straight up lie. It’s gonna take a total overhaul by enormous corporations who care more about their bottom line than the environmental effects of their operations.

I know this is a change on a federal level, but also it’s really fucking bizarre living in Ontario and seeing the breakdown of issues by political affectation. The left seems to be worried about an erosion of basic human needs like education, health and affordable housing. The PC government has removed rent increase caps, causing rent prices to skyrocket beyond people’s means and pushing out the less affluent. They’re defunding education and increasing class sizes, reducing kids access to time spent with their teachers. They’re shutting down safe injection sites after consultations with NIMBY Cabbagetown denizens. People will die. The right seems to be worried about being inconvenienced or having to compromise. That their profit margins might not be as high as they once were. That they might have to think about how they use gender pronouns. That kids will grow up believing that it’s okay for people to love others irrespective of gender. There’s just a little disparity in scale, no?

I know I’m preaching to the converted. I know that we live in divise bubbles of political orientation, and the recourse to challenging concepts is to reject/ignore them. It’s very very likely that I’m missing out on hearing sincere stories of the other side who are suffering from the gaps in leftist ideology. I’m also very happy to be wrong, and learn from errors in judgement. I’m less happy to see vulnerable people suffer because of political posturing and scaremongering. I know it’s nothing new, but I just kinda wish it’d fade into the past so we could move forward.

I’m obviously in a mid life crisis. What else would explain the Roboraptor?

What do I do, folks? Where do I go from here?

Of course I’m meaning both in the sense of this entry and my wider life. I’m kind of brickwalled right now. Everything outside of my job is fine, but that’s holding everything else back. It sucks, but I’m getting increasingly tired of being miserable all the time for no good reason. Being unfulfilled in my work seems a trite reason for that to leech into the rest of my waking hours, but I guess it’s important to me deep down. I’ve been indoctrinated into a mindset where the thing I do to pay my bills has some relevance to my self-confidence. If I don’t feel like a useful, productive person in the eight to ten hours I spend under one roof five days a week, it makes me question everything else.

Yet again, that sounds dumb right? At the same time my brain chimes in with a what form of integrity do you have if you’ve been seeking a change for several years and haven’t made it happen? It subconsciously erodes the value of everything else because it all seems connected. Being uninspired at my desk for an absurd amount of waking hours makes the past few years kind of seem like a waste. What have I done outside of maintaining the status quo. I’ve had a cluster of tiny personal projects that don’t feel like a substantive mass when they’re gathered. I’m not saying that I haven’t done anything much outside of work because of work, but it doesn’t help.

In an ideal world, this pervasive ennui would be enough to ignite a fire under my arse. Oh, you’re bored at work? Why not funnel the lack of creative output into creative pursuits? On paper, that works. In reality, the lack of meaningful output makes it harder to summon the energy for creativity. It’s draining, day by day. At this stage I’m coming home exhausted with little enough spark to make dinner, let alone anything worthwhile. It’s gotten to the point where weekends have become this little oasis because I can take a vacation from who I am during the week. Well, that’s kinda uncharitable. It’s not that I hate who I am during the week, it’s that I find it increasingly challenging to get in touch with myself underneath the layers of disillusionment, fatigue, anxiety, disappointment, discontentment and other chaff. This one thing is bringing everything else down with it. I feel tethered to aiming low and it’s killing my ability to look beyond. Like I’m tightening up all my muscles defensively and feeling confused when it affects my mobility.

It’s been years of giving myself little pep talks, telling myself I can do better and failing to deliver. I’m quite sure that motivation isn’t an infinite resource. Time’s marching on. My brain and body are depleting with each passing year. My ability to move with the flow is stagnating. I desperately want to find direction before I’d even think of bringing a kid into this world. If I’m not happy with who and where I am, I’ve got no business burdening an innocent child with the ramifications of my personal baggage. What a way to prematurely stunt their growth. I think at the core of it too, I’m not ready to adopt the level of selflessness being a parent would require. If I’ve been thinking of myself for this long and still not managed to get anywhere, what chance would I have of finding where I need to be when I don’t have time to think about myself? That’s a surefire way of breeding a spectacularly effusive resentment. A recipe for waking up in twenty years oozing with silent rage.

I feel like this entry hasn’t taken me anywhere, but it has taken half an hour to get there. “Just be better” has a hollow ring when it lacks a substantive swing behind it.

Maybe the interview wasn’t that bad after all?

Were ’87 French youths “Mal” content?

Hot take, I think the Michael Jackson video “Black or White” holds up.

It’s silly and audacious. The Macaulay Culkin part is cute and takes the Twisted Sister motif in a 90s direction. The dancing to this day is still excellent. The special effects look dated, but that’s only natural. The message, while missing the nuance of modern discussions, has its heart profoundly in the right place. No matter who you are, the colour of your skin or where you were born, we’re all human. We’re all in this together. I don’t think Michael solved racism in 1991 by dancing, but it was a splashy, bold statement from someone who was undoubtedly a phenomenon. “I’m not going to spend my life being a colour” is a great line about dehumanisation. The song isn’t remarkable so much for the entirety of its content, but how it delivered that content in an undeniable massively digestible manner. I mean, he transformed from a literal black panther and performed acts of passionate protest.

I don’t think of Michael Jackson often, which is weird considering he singlehandedly sparked my interest in music. So much of his later years were plagued by rumours and hearsay. An individual obviously suffering from mental illness was grossly taken advantage of. It’s hard to imagine in the aftermath of his passing, but back in the early 90s there was nobody cooler. Thriller remains the top selling album of all time. He transcended pop star status to become an icon. No question. Consider it from the perspective of a sub ten year old. He transformed into robot and plane. He was a gangster, a bloody zombie. He told us all to love one another. He used his platform to bring issues of inequality and racism to the forefront. I may have thought that “Man in the Mirror” was a song about an evil doppelgänger, but that’s on me.

Michael Jackson’s History tour was my first ever concert. I lost my fucking child mind. It was such a spectacle, an affirming experience. He went though innumerable costume changes, there were massive props. Other kids got to go onstage for one of the numbers. I stood in those stands, with my tiny binoculars, and I marvelled that the evocation of cool was breathing the same air. I was inspired to think that if he could stand up there and bring joy to so many people, well that was something to be goddamn celebrated.

I don’t know if there’s been another Michael Jackson. I know for sure that nobody is gonna touch the 66 million album sales that Thriller reached. People don’t buy albums anymore. The nature of marketing has changes so much that we’re sold every big act as the biggest on Earth. For all I know, little kids look at Beyonce the way I looked at Michael. I mean, this is in every way a spectacle. I sure hope they do. I think we all deserve figures to look up to that teach us all to be better. For all the kvetching people do about pop music and how it’s shaping our children, there’s so much potential. I can only imagine the way the world reacted to Childish Gambino’s “This is America” was pretty damn similar to the reception of “Black or White” in ’91.

Go on, load up some MJ and see how you feel.

You know, I’ve never seen Mamma Mia

A co-worker dropped in from mat leave today with her child.

This obviously speaks more to me than it does to her, but I can’t imagine a world where I’d do this. What part of I’m away from the office for six months to a year and I’ll break that marvelous run to introduce strangers to a child who’s not gonna be a part of their lives is appealing? Why are you going back to the office? If you’re not close enough to these people that they would’ve met the kid outside of work, why would you be interested in creating that connection? Why would they in turn care about that child?

Yet again, it’s more about me. I don’t tend to make a ton of strong workplace friendships. Accordingly, when people drop in with their infants I have no idea what to say. Congrats, that child is still alive? It was hard enough making small talk with them before, and this hasn’t made them any more interesting. Every time they say hello, a timer goes off in my head counting how long it is until they’ll leave. I dunno, maybe it’ll change when it’s a co-worker I like. Seriously though, don’t they have friends? I know you want to simultaneously escape from your child and get validation that you didn’t do the wrong thing by having them. Can’t you get a sitter and therapy? It’s a massive world out there, why are you so bored? The Internet exists. Watch Nanette on Netflix. If you’ve done that already, watch it again.

Seriously, go watch Nanette now. I’ll wait.

Maybe I’m just tired and cranky. Well, I’m definitely both those things, but I don’t know if I can use either as justification for my assholery. I’m sure when I grow up (he says as a 31 year old man child) and have kids (he says as a 31 year old man child), I’ll see in new parents a reflection of my own child rearing experiences. I’ll learn to appreciate the joy of sharing your child’s development with those close to you. I just doubt that “those close to me” will involve my co-workers. Maybe once I finally get a job I like.

I am tired and cranky though. I tried the one armed upper body workout I was considering yesterday. Holy shit. I basically invalidated the functional half of my torso, making everything more difficult this morning. It was crazy. I stepped into the shower post workout and realised I was having trouble washing myself. I’d pushed too hard with my one working arm and thrown myself for a loop. I don’t recommend it. Also, I’ll probably do it again. While it was grueling and difficult, it also felt really gratifying to be using my body once more. It also gave me insight into how my muscles activate when isolated. I tried one armed pull ups on the assist machine. The lowest I could go was 85lbs. There’s something about using two arms that’s stronger than the sum of their individual strength. Probably helps engage parts of the back you can’t get to with one. Stretching was really hard. Seriously, how am I meant to work into my tricep with one arm? Using walls to compensate for enforced phantom limb can only go so far.

Mostly I’m tired and killing time before acupuncture. I booked the appointment not knowing how early I’d finish work. Unfortunately I severely underestimated how not busy I’d be. I probably even had time to talk to my generic co-worker about her child. Honestly, even acupuncture is just killing time until I can go home and play Magic Arena. They’re trying to break the servers today and are offering half priced drafts. I’ve been hoarding a ludicrous quantity of in game currency and I’m gonna splurge as much as I can. It’s Friday. I should be out taking advantage of social plans. Instead I’ll spend hours in front of my computer, rare-drafting to hell and making dumb as shit decks.

In any case, it’s time for acupuncture. Maybe an abundance of needles will stop me from being such a prick.

Today I realised they call the underwear “boxers” because they look like boxing shorts. Some things come when you’re ready for them

Sometimes memories stay buried. Sometimes that’s for a reason…

A lot of the time it isn’t. Sorry not sorry for the misdirect. If we didn’t stow memories away our brains would be constantly overloaded with stimulation. I don’t remember every apple I ate, good or bad. I’m sure there was stuff that’s was borderline traumatic at the time and got dropped off because in retrospect it might not have been that bad. I’m sure there are a plethora of lovely memories covered by the sands of time.

I had a dream last night that I was at a friends birthday party. This may be more specific to a certain character archetype, but remember when birthday parties were unbelievably simple? All it took for a stellar shindig was pizza, cake and video games? Maybe if you were lucky, jelly and a sleepover? I don’t know why I grouped those last two things, they certainly weren’t linked. We used to have so much fun without a ton of effort (I mean, I’ve never thrown a party for a child. I’m sure it was a lot more complex from the parents’ POV).

These days there are so many considerations. Do we have the space at home or are we better to stake out a bar/resto? Is there an event on people could go to? What kind of cost considerations do we need to make? Is it a multi-venue occasion or more of an “I’ll be here, you’re welcome to join” affair? Talking or dancing? Do we need to cater? What about dietary restrictions? What’re we gonna do for music? Does the house need to be cleaned? Do we supply booze or BYO? What do we want to drink? Is there a particular style of buzz we’re looking for? What kind of timeframe? Do we need to be concerned about other events happening that night? If twenty people say they’re attending on Facebook, how many will actually turn up? Which friend groups will interact favourably? Are there any personal vendettas/ex relationships/partner conflics between certain individuals we need to take heed of? Does it make more sense to have separate occasions for alternate social circles?

What I’m saying is, I want to have a night of pizza, beer and videogames at some point. That sounds nifty.

Another memory popped into my head recently. So my mum used to run a second-hand toy store. I’ve talked about it here before. It was The Best. All the toys were out of their boxes, so I could play with them and everything. I couldn’t imagine a more idyllic childhood. Anyway, our grandparents lived in Montreal and they’d send these massive shipments of second hand toys they picked up cheap. Came in these huge cardboard boxes. I’m sure there was a scale component to it, I was a tiny child at the time. Everything dwarfed me. Consequently, everything was exciting. Occasionally however, things would go beyond the norm.

So we’d had this considerably large shipment from my grandparents. We often got big ones, this went far beyond that. Our garage was cluttered with boxes. Ordinarily it was a two car garage. It was jammed so full that neither of my parents cars could fit. I came home from something. I can’t remember, it was the evening. Realistically it was probably about 7pm. Quite late for me. We opened the garage door and I saw the most amazing sight. The garage was filled with an enormous maze. While I was out, my two older brothers took all of the boxes and constructed a twisted, winding maze out of cardboard. They’d taped boxes together in all directions. I couldn’t believe it. My parents let me stay up late and crawl around in it. My brothers were a lot bigger, but they’d chase me around and we’d all giggle. It was pretty goddamn special, one of the many, many treasured memories that’s stored deep in my noggin. For no good reason, it’s been probably about 20 years since I last thought about it.

Recalling it feels like a gift.