I wonder if Matthew McConaughey has ever tried marmite…

Lately I’ve done a pretty decent job of finding a topic and staying on it. I’m formally congratulating myself on this development before I dive into a fragmented mess of an entry.

Good job.

Honey, I Shrunk The Kids holds up. I’m not saying that it’s landmark cinema. I *am* saying that it’s a silly family adventure film that’s both harmless and entertaining. The plot is dumb and contrived, they need to give themselves a little push to get over the finish line, but it’s fun to watch. At it’s heart, the move has a simple concept that allows them to write a bunch of neat little scenes and make great sets. It’s not the kind of film that holds up to scrutiny, but that seems like a fool’s errand at best. It’s neat to see the late 80s creature animation of “Antie” and the inexplicable scorpion. Does everyone have a scorpion in their backyard? I don’t care. It looked cool and gave birth to a choice action sequence. The film considered its environment which gave us silly stuff like a Lego brick being an ideal spot to sleep, a fallen cigarette making for perfect torches and an errant baseball somehow being the missing element between a working and non-functional shrink ray. The parental relationships were oddly mature for a kid’s film and the whole thing was a joy to watch.

I kind of miss 80s adventure movies. I’m thinking stuff like The Goonies or The Wizard. Just kids going on wacky, unconventional journeys and adapting to unfamiliar situations. They’re essentially less like structured films and more a collection of scenes they wanted to write, then loosely tied together. I don’t care. I love the Power Glove. It’s so bad. Even for someone who’s as much of a grumpy buzzkill as I am, occasionally it’s fun to switch your brain off and watch light conflict and bright colours. People coming together after learning a valuable lesson about friendship. After all, the real adventure was the friends we made along the way. Right?

Do you remember being a kid and just falling over? Losing your balance for no good reason? I used to stumble all the time. I’m sure it was a matter of getting used to the dimensions of my body. Equilibrum was earned, not given. This isn’t super relevant and I don’t have much to say on it. I just thought that was kinda funny. In general I move quickly these days. I figure as a blanket notion that the faster I move, the more things I can do. The other day in the kitchen I was walking and reaching over for the fridge door. I sort of started keeling over before reorienting myself. I guess that’s what made me think of it. By the way, I was never a bouncing baby boy. I’m quite certain that I hit the ground with a *thunk* and not a *boing*. Just like everyone else.

I realised today that I wouldn’t be able to recognise a DJ Khaled song. To me, Khaled is just that guy who won’t go down on his girlfriend. That’s his enduring legacy and, as such, I’m pretty okay not listening to his music. Nothing of value was lost.

The other day my mum was bringing me marmite from NZ and it got seized by customs. That’s a bummer. Quelle betrayal, right? I was relying on the shipment. I’ve been out of marmite for some time and it’s kind of a comfort food. I expressed my disappointment on Facebook and friends didn’t really get it. To them it’s a silly, absurdly salty prank nutella. To me, I dunno, it’s more evocative of different stages in life. I remember feeling incredibly proud when I made marmite and cheese on toast in our toaster oven. It felt like one of the first things, as a child, that I cooked. I think of eating marmite and chip sandwiches with my best friend at his old house. I’d never tasted the combination and it was eye opening. The different bold flavours and textures. I even recall the white and grey penguin placemats we ate off. They were wearing tuxedos. I think about all those times I came back drungry from nights out and fixed myself marmite and cheese toasties. Or when I started making elaborate brunches with marmite and poached eggs on toast, complete with cheese, avocado and sundried tomatoes. Marmite was a big part of those dishes. Marmite has been a big part of my life. It’s more than a novelty food stuff, on some level it’s part of my history. I have every intention of making it part of my future. Luckily a co-worker is heading back to Australia soon and she’s promised to pick me up some Kiwi marmite.

Do you think when Matthew McConaughey is happy All’s right alright alright with the world?

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More like “cumtries”, because they’re a load of wank, geddit? Also, am I 12?

I’m in a pissy, unrelatable, First Year University Student mood. Blame coffee.

For some reason today I’m inexplicably mad that people think nations exist. They don’t. They’re just very popular memes. A “country” as we see it is a fictional concept. It’s a handy way of collectively grouping a series of people who settled on a landmass and then telling them what being part of that group entails. It’s all fabricated. It’s a very functional method of rallying people behind a cause or getting them to follow orders. Want people to go to battle for something imaginary? Tell them they’re fighting for nationhood. The enemy force? They hate your claim to your nationhood, so you should die to defend it. But wait, the enemy force is a cluster of individuals galvanised in the same manner, also fighting in the name of a fairy tale. That’s all it is. If you tell it often enough and in an impassioned enough manner, they’ll start to believe it. There’s no real reason why a person born in Canada would be innately polite. It’s a social construct. Just read Benedict Anderson’s “Imagined Communities”. While we’re at it, gender and money are also fictional concepts that gained a lot of ground because they’re useful tools for controlling people.

I’ve always fucking hated the idea of nationality and patriotism. They don’t make any sense. I was born in New Zealand, so I was told that I had a natural connection to those around me. A shared consciousness. Why? Our heritage all comes from different places anyway. The only reason why any kind of collective identity exists in a hypothetical sense is because we’re told it does. We’re told that being a Kiwi means you like rugby or that if you’re a real American you have faith in a fucking gaudy piece of fabric emblazoned with stars and stripes. Why? If you hate flags, are you not a true American? Maybe you’re more into stonework than fabric or something. I don’t like sports, I’ve never lived on a farm, does that disqualify me from being a true New Zealander? It’s fucking insane.

Also while I’m on this tear, I can’t believe how long it took me to realise that “The Star Spangled Banner” is a fucking terrible national anthem. It’s a convoluted mess. The song is difficult to sing for those who aren’t exceptional vocalists. Why would that be appropriate for something that’s meant to be accessible to millions of people. Much like the majority of American culture it celebrates exceptionalism and individualism, while effectively telling anyone facing difficulty to go get fucked. If you can’t sing it, too bad. Guess you should’ve been born with a better voice. Oh, you don’t have the exorbitant amount of money necessary to pay for health insurance? I guess you just go bankrupt or die. Too bad. Oh, you can’t afford talented lawyers to defend yourself legally against the ill deeds of large corporations? Whoops, sorry. I guess you don’t have rights after all. Justice has a high barrier to entry.

The worst thing about all of this fictional nationhood bollocks is that it takes advantage of the needy and less fortunate. Of course it’s not the rich and powerful dying on the front lines or forfeiting their right to life and liberty over unpaid hospital bills. It’s those who don’t know any better laying themselves down for an ideal that’s only used to manipulate the powerless. It’s no wonder that American patriotism and Christianity are often so inexplicably linked. They’re archaic systems of control that lead the most vulnerable to follow the desires of those who aren’t.

Maybe I’m just bitter Laser Kiwi didn’t become the new NZ flag.

Why screw my courage to this sticky place?

I was thinking about my death row meal today.

In full clarity, I’m not going to death row. Well, I don’t think so. Okay, I haven’t currently done anything to necessitate my execution. Ask me again in a few hours. I feel like my plans are benign enough that I’m unlikely to commit murder, grand larceny or something super vile like jaywalking before bed. It’s not impossible. After a little too much caffeine I stop questioning what I’m capable of doing and start worrying about it instead. Mostly I just get very regular.

I know what my death row meal would be. It’s very specific and I’m quite surprised (I tried a quick search of past entries) that I haven’t mentioned it before. My death row meal would be my mum’s chicken wings and spare ribs.

It’s my favourite meal, hands down. Well, hands in too. It’s very involved. A huge batch of chicken wings and spare ribs in a gorgeously sticky sauce. It’s usually accompanied by rice and sometimes peas. It sounds simple, but it’s so much more than that. Like any tradition worth a damn, there’s ritual. I can’t overstate how much food there is, several kilos of assorted small meats almost dripping off the bone. The sauce is thick and sweet, without the gross mouthfeel of shoddily made teriyaki sauce. It’s the best kind of meal: One where you can get your hands dirty. Across the table are several bowls, some empty and others filled with warm water. Bones bowls and finger bowls. It’s rare to not have hands caked in sauce, and the finger bowls help mitigate the struggle of sticky fingers (besides what you’re able to lick off). The meat is tender, having been grilled with garlic before the sauce was applied. There’s something in the combination of density and softness that’s indescribable for an author of limited skill. Like all the best things, it’s supremely messy, but also intimate. The sauce goes so well over the rice, which soaks it up perfectly. If there are ever peas, they’re a small oasis of greenery in a desert of meat, sugar, soy and rice. You do not leave the table hungry. Very occasionally I’ll dream of this meal, which begs the question: Why don’t I just make it?

It’s not a challenging meal to recreate. As far as I understand, you slather the meat in garlic and grill it in the oven. After it’s well-cooked, you add equal parts brown sugar and soy sauce to an amount of water. You slowly heat it in the microwave, stirring every few minutes. When it’s starting to thicken, you douse the oven meat in this sauce and let it cook. Every once in a while you’ll reapply the sauce with a baster so nothing dries out. At some point you cook rice. That’s basically it. For all I know my mum just got it from a cook book, but it’s (at least in my mind) become her enduring signature dish. Whenever I eat this meal, I think of my family. This meal is love.

I’m an adult, I’ve made more complicated dishes than this. Frankly, I could probably just bung it all in the instant pot and have it ready in under an hour. For some reason though, I don’t. There’s no reason it needs to be bound to a time and place, but for some reason in my head it is. It’s a family meal and I haven’t pulled it out for other means. It makes no earthly sense. I’m resigning this to my impending death because… why again? My friends here are practically family. I think it’s high time I had a dinner party and shared with them the last thing I’d eat before I die.

I just hope that’s not tonight. We don’t have any chicken wings or spare ribs in the freezer.

The real deal or no deal

I saw St Vincent last night.

It was one hell of an experience. Then again, it always is. I think it was the third or fourth time. Given that I’ve been tracking her career for years, it was also somewhat surreal. When I saw her at The Kings Arms back in 2012, she almost kicked me in the head. The Kings Arms (R.I.P.) was a legendary venue back in Auckland, New Zealand. I saw an absurd amount of now huge indie bands there in my burgeoning concert-going years. I think it was around a 500 capacity venue. It was always tightly packed, sweaty and a riot in the making. There was a great beer garden and they’d always have earplugs on hand if you needed them. I fucking miss that place.

I next saw her at Yonge and Dundas Square touring her self titled album. It was her mainstream breakthrough and the scale had changed. Like zooming out on Google Maps. Big stage persona and sets. Her image was tweaked. Her sound had morphed from unsettling indie rock to something resembling art pop. Evolution in an artist is a healthy thing and her music still kicked ass. Still, the stage at Yonge and Dundas was quite a departure from the lil’ ol’ Kings Arms. Still, amazing show.

Last night’s Sony Centre performance was another couple of Google Maps zoom outs again. The Sony Centre is a big deal venue. The lighting and sound are fantastic. It’s all seated and, unlike shitboxes like Rebel, they’ve actually considered acoustics. The way that Annie Clark tours now is a world away from The Kings Arms. There’s no judgement, simply observation. She’s a big fucking deal now. She’s not an indie artist. I don’t know if it’s possible to be an indie artist with billboards in Times Square. The scope of what she presents onstage is entirely different. I feel like she’s at the stage where now, she has people. Like Donald Glover or Beyonce or something. It’s not that she doesn’t have creative input, but that she’s likely presented with ideas and she gets to say yay or nay. Her costumes are involved and creative. The lighting is enormous and complex. She changes to a new coloured guitar in every song. There’s actual choreography. I can’t imagine old Annie doing stadium style fists in the air to encourage crowd clapping. It just wasn’t her style. Economies of scale, right?

Let’s get something out of the way: I think Annie Clark is the coolest fucking person in the world. She’s an immensely creative, talented artist. She writes these songs that drip with menace and humanity. Her music strings along this kind of existential madness that no doubt scares me on some level. I find that unbelievably exciting. In interviews she’s so quick, clever and funny. She seems like a very genuine person who appreciates where she is. She can shred a guitar solo to bits. I don’t know how many bands feature their lead singer as their lead guitarist, but I feel like those duties are usually divided between multiple people. Not when it comes to St Vincent. She looked me dead in the eyes back at Yonge and Dundas Square and I literally swooned. I’m entirely taken with her. There was this moment right before the chorus in “Cheerleader” where she reared her head up and spat before singing. As a distilled moment, it sticks in my brain as one of the coolest, most rebellious, sexiest things I’ve ever seen. I say all of this not because I objectify her, but because I adore her. I don’t know if it would’ve even been possible to have not enjoy the gig.

My seats weren’t perfect. I was pretty far back, enough so that I had trouble making out her facial features. Still, she sounded fucking awesome. The lighting looked amazing and was totally captivating. Everything worked in concert (pun obviously intended) to distill a certain mood. Her setlist was great, showcasing her more recent material but still with at least four songs from Strange Mercy (and “Marrow” from Actor, which was a delight). I’ll never hear “Huey Newton” the same way again. Despite a weird internal disconnect with the scale, I had a goddamn riot of a time.

If this is what “selling out” resembles for St Vincent, it puts paid to that notion even existing in the first place.

Could I be any more of an ideal spokesman?

I rode a bike yesterday!

It was magical. The wind whipping through the phantom locks I had in my experimental hair phases. Engaging my calves pushing uphill. Trying to wrap my head/hands around the odd downward sloping bullhorn style handlebars. An all new familiar experience. Unexpected and thrilling. I used to bike all the time. As a kid, from ages 10-15, I’d bike to school. I buckled my wheel at some stage and kept riding on that wheel for several years. It was so freeing. As a cookie-doughy child, I got to be active and experience the joy of speed. To have that control, to find new hidden routes and side streets. To zip around in charge of my own direction. I’d cover so much ground and see small changes on my day to day route. I tried besting my old times, it was awesome. I never really got the confidence to ride on the road, plus bike lanes virtually didn’t exist yet. So it was always ducking and weaving around pedestrians on the footpath.

Last night a bunch of us went out to Kensington Market for drinks. After chatting and chilling, we piled back to our friend’s place for more relaxed hangabouts. It was a no brainer. We could stay in a bar grabbing expensive drinks, or go back to her plounge and tailor our own vibe. Thing was, all the liquor stores were closed. Not even Wine Rack, the last refuge of desperate drunks, was open. She had a couple of bottles, but it felt like a dick move for us all to deplete her stash. When we arrived, I opted to go and grab some bottles from home. I was just down the hill, after all. With a monthly pass, I could even grab a bus there and back if the times synced. She off-handedly offered her bike. I opened my mouth for polite refusal and thought for a secondHow many years had it been since I’d ridden? Too many. It’d be faster and maybe more fun. The five or six drinks I’d had by then nudged me in the direction of yes and I went for it. I grabbed a helmet and climbed aboard.

Maybe the beers helped. It was just like riding a bike. Sure, the handlebars were more narrow than I was used to. My recovering wrist made things a little less secure. Given that it was almost midnight, nobody was around, so I took the footpath. It was great. I reined in my speeds coming down the hill and made it home in sub five minutes. I parked up front, put together a goody bag of liquor and climbed back on. Was it a fixie? Oh, it totally had gears. they were these odd little toggles that were quite estranged from what I’d grown up with, but they worked. Away I went. Even in my drunken state, the hill was a breeze. I didn’t even need to stand. I guess when you grow up in the land of dormant volcanoes, everywhere else is flatland by comparison. I was back at my mate’s place within 15 minutes.

Every year I think about buying a bike. Every year it gets late into summer and I think well, next year will be the year. It isn’t. Every year. Maybe though, and hear me out here, maybe next year will be the year. Not this year, because my wrists need time to heal. Next year though? It’s perfect. I’m sure it’ll happen. I do get bogged down by the artifice of owning a bike though. I’d need all the accessories; helmet, lock, etc. I’d have to consider lugging the vehicle around or where I was gonna store it. It’d make navigating public clunky at times. It’s that stuff that gets in my head ever year and thwarts plans to get one. Really though, I’m sure it’s not as bad as I think. It’s not an all or nothing conundrum. Just because I have a bike, doesn’t mean I need to use it all the time. I can take it when I want to, when the sun is shining just right. When I’d otherwise walk but want a swifter trip. Maybe if I was picking things up and slung my backpack over my shoulders.

2019, you hear me? Twenty biketeen. It’s coming.

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.

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.