More like High Confide-lity.

It’d hardly be an exaggeration to say that “nostalgia” was one of my six senses. It’s likely on a higher rung than smell. My nose is a fickle friend, but my brain is so laden with memories that touching, seeing, hearing or tasting something is enough to make me tumble back in time. My friend recently started a dating podcast. It’s in its infancy, but both episodes released so far are fantastic. Of course they are, she’s a real life matchmaker. In the most recent episode, she has a conversation with her husband. It’s great. He’s a wonderful dude and he so eloquently and systematically lays out perceptive analysis of himself and his dating experiences. At the same time, so much of what he said resonated intimately with my own experiences. It was like being 20 again, but with the filter only meaningful life experiences can provide.

I was a different person back in my 20s. Naturally some core attributes were still the same. I’ve always loved words and puns, been obsessed with pop-culture. I’ve been fiercely passionate about the things I’ve cared for since I knew how to form an opinion. At the same time, ten years ago I was still very much learning who I was. Hatching from the shelter of an educational system and crawling out into the adult world meant some harsh lessons were incoming. I had to grow and change in order to truly be my own person.

Yeah? I’m sure you’re asking doesn’t everyone? Sure they do. My particular struggles focused around one thing: Confidence. In some areas I strutted by comfortably. I knew I was smart, capable and likeable. Dating though? I had all the experience and wisdom of a child. Years of being overweight had crippled my self-confidence. I questioned why anyone would find me interesting or attractive. I’d say that I crashed and burned, but frankly it was so rare for me to put myself out there that I rarely had the chance. I’d get these deep and debilitating crushes where one conversation was enough to make me obsessively swoon. I’d waste an alarming amount of emotional energy fretting about how to navigate my interest, how unlikely it was that there was reciprocal attraction, etc.

Po, my friend in the podcast episode I linked above, addresses this well. He mentions how outward approval can become your sole motivation in dating. This hit hard. I used to care so much about how the other person thought about me that I’d disregard how I felt about myself. Clearly I didn’t matter, only they did. If I wasn’t the kind of person they wanted, I needed to be. I’d have to change myself to be commensurate with their desires. Po also talks about pedestal-ing, or infatuation causing you to build up the subject of attraction to a level of idolatry. This would happen to me constantly. I’d see myself as some kind of lower life form, which ironically is the least attractive thing a person could do. My response to my own feelings were directly pushing away the people I wanted to get closer to.

Worse, this had a negative impact in any relationships that followed. By seeing the object of my affection as more important than myself, I developed the habit of forcing myself to mould around their desires. While it was great to invest in someone else and care about them, the unfortunate side effect was disregarding my own needs. I’m sure you can see how this would effect long term relationships, right? Of course they all imploded. Unhappiness does that. I’d become gradually more wound up and embittered and that would seep into my view of the relationship. By exclusively catering to them, I also divested them of the opportunity to give back. People who love each other enjoy being able to help their partners and I was stripping them of that recourse.

I’m on the precipice of my 30th year, and certain things are becoming abundantly clear. Time is a gift. I’ve learned that piece by piece with each passing solar cycle. Each rotation only drives the point home. Perspective is everything. It not only helps us understand why the past occurred the way it did, but how better to shape our future. Dwelling with dread doesn’t serve us one iota, but reflection can help us better see the best path forward.

Or am I blatantly trying to justify watching High Fidelity for the 80th time?

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When you think of it, swap meets couldn’t be more accurately named.

It’s late and I have to be up tomorrow to play Magic. Let’s go for some straight up stream of consciousness stuff.

I just came back from a clothing swap. Since the first time I heard about them, I’ve thought they were the best idea. Our culture is so wasteful. We buy endless things we don’t need and they end up lingering for no good reason. I say this peeping at the broken dehumidifier in the hallway. It has no power cord, it can’t be used. Yet it’s been sticking around for maybe half a year just taking up space? Pointless. Clothing swaps, however, are such a clever way of repurposing previously loved goods in solid condition. It’s like having a thrift store in your friend’s lounge. Each one I’ve been to has had piles of clothes, music and snacks. People goof around and try stuff on. You usually come away with some swell pieces while clearing out the shit you never wear. Win win. This time I had a heap of things I bought for costumes, or sweaters I thought looked rad in the store, but after wearing them once or twice saw nothing but faults. Usually it’s a jarring cut or just not hanging right on my frame. Whatever it was, I’m glad to have rid myself of seeing them sadly draped over hangers, ever hopeful to be worn. There weren’t many other guys at this swap, but I walked away with some fur lined faux leather vest. Seems like righteous festival wear.

One thing I noticed clearing out my closet was how each piece had a story to it. I don’t have an expansive wardrobe, and what’s there has always been intentionally chosen. I’ve needed certain items for a specific purpose. Because of this, I found that for most everything I pulled out, I remembered where or why I got it. The gaudy Hawaiian shirt was for an Ace Ventura costume (the hair was the hardest part). A red sweater came into my life during the JFL42 comedy festival. I’d bought it to save myself from freezing, then realised it really didn’t suit me. There was the blue and white striped shirt my flatmate had given me. She’d ordered a couple (?) for a sailor costume and had one spare. I figured it’d perhaps come in handy for a costume some day. It didn’t, but some guy at the swap grabbed it and the fit was perfect. Guess it was destined for him. I realised that as I was rifling through shirts, jackets and sweaters that I was flicking back through years of memories.

It’s not the first time I’ve thought this, but it’s crazy to look around your home and think of the stories items hold. Stuff doesn’t just accumulate. There’s a how and why to each piece, even if that story was merely “I wanted it, so I got it.” Why did you want it? How did you get? Where did you get it from? Did you have any unusual encounters there. Was it for a party or costume? Did you inherit furniture? Who did that come from? Does it have any stories from its past life? How old are the things around us and what path did they take to get into our grasp?

Is that also why it’s hard to let go sometimes?

They’re pretending to be something they’re not. Doesn’t that make Autobots as deceptive as Decepticons?

Do you know what’s cute? Looking back at stories you wrote as a child. That’s cute. I’ll always remember one of my most salient pieces of kid fiction: “Optimus Prime met Megatron. The Decepticons shot the Autobots with their lasers. The Autobots died.” There’s a clear arc. The stage is set, characters established. We see the characters take action and overcome adversity. Then there’s a satisfying conclusion. I couldn’t write better these days if I tried. Do you know what’s not cute? Looking back at any writing after the age of ten.

Teenage stuff? Oh geez it’s dreadful. I remember, as an adult, finding my diary from age 15. It was firmly couched in the exact time and age to be classified as “emo”. Lots of “I like all the girls, but they don’t like me. Something something System of a Down. Why do adults treat teenagers like kids? We’re way more mature than they give us credit for. Man, getting drunk is so cool.” That wasn’t verbatim, but not far off. Of course there’s no value in criticising our past selves, but fuck it’s fun to rip them new orifices. It’s so easy to shred the versions of us who bled hormones, who felt like adults undergoing constant body dysmorphia. When we could understand more of the world around us, without realising how much wider the world was than our viewpoint captured. There’s a question I oft see floated “would you restart your life with the knowledge and experience you have now?” Each time it’s those teenage years that give me pause. Could all the intelligence in the world counteract the ever-present fear of cumming in your pants at any moment?

A different experience is reading your writing from later. As a 25 year old, you’re technically considered an adult. I’m barely considering myself an adult going on 31. I still don’t consider whoever I was at 25 the kind of bloke who would’ve paid taxes (I mean, I did. No need to come at me, IRD). At 25 I flew to the U.S. with a bunch of mates, rented an RV and drove across The States. Today I stumbled across our old travel blog and read it again. It was about what you’d expect. Some parts were bafflingly hard to digest, either in message or perspective. Certain references are too insular, based around group dynamics or New Zealand memes. Others have fallen by the pop-cultural wayside. A 2012 Twilight reference seems a lot less inspired in 2018. Some viewpoints still needed a few years to slow cook before becoming fit for human consumption. In a few parts it was just poorly written or made scant sense. It’s nice to know some things haven’t changed.

At other moments I was surprised to find passages that read well. Vocabulary I’ve since forgotten or cycled out. There was a creativity and excitement about the world I found refreshing. Occasional lucid moments that still resonate. Most pieces were basically journal entries (what’s changed?), but I found workarounds to lighten them up. One of them I did time based mental snapshots, using certain moments to create a larger picture of the day. Our New Orleans adventure was structured as a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. It was silly and gratuitous, but remains a neat read.

I can’t deny that any of it happened, it’s all there for the decades to lay bare. On the other hand, why would I care? None of us would be who we are without the steps we took. If they didn’t leave an imprint, what would be the point?

It’s their fault I can’t look at corn without imagining a typewriter.

I talk about rewatching movies all the time. No doubt because I endlessly scour the internet and live in a cosy bubble of nostalgia. I’m a colossal child (both in scale and mass. If I were actually a child in this body it’d be some André the Giant shit) and the notion of getting back in touch with the media that influenced and informed my adult persona holds a certain allure. The ratio, however, of talking about it and delivering on it is notoriously one-sided. So much of my viewing is mood dependent. Hell, sometimes I just can’t bring myself to engage with a narrative. If I’m not paying attention to what I’m watching, why watch it at all?

What I’m saying is, last night I watched Space Jam with a group of friends.

You know what? I’m willing to go on record and say it held up. Not as landmark cinematic genius. Everything it did, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? did better a decade earlier. It wasn’t a phenomenal film or anything, but I wasn’t viewing it as I did as a kid. I was peering at it with adult eyes and looking for how it would’ve appealed to children. Shitting on a kids’ film as an adult is a certain amount of unnecessary roughness (says the guy who recorded a podcast series about the Airbud Cinematic Universe) that leaves us all as lesser. Space Jam didn’t have the most coherent plot (as evidenced in this accurate nine minute song). It was obviously a cynical attempt to capitalise on late game Michael Jordan’s popularity and to keep the Looney Tunes relevant for another generation. Jordan is absurdly lionised throughout. He’s not the best actor, but to his credit he looks like he’s having fun. There’s a spectacular montage of Charles Barkley et al dealing with their lost talent. The film has a buttload of jokes for kids and a bunch that’re pitched way over their heads. It has all those characters you love, more cameos than episode of Entourage (oh yeah), plus Bill Murray shows up to save the day at the end. A silly but entirely defensible way to spend 88 minutes.

My biggest takeaway from the whole endeavour was how great Looney Tunes have always been. I guess I just forgot. Do you realise just how many conventions were drilled into your head by the adventures of Bugs and co? When Lola Bunny was introduced in Space Jam, Bugs swoons and there’s this small musical sting of sexy jazz. It’s so familiar to us now as a sort of language, but those conventions needed to be created somewhere. Cast your mind back to the original Looney Tunes. How instrumental was it in the formation of these tropes? You can see how necessary they’d be, right? These zany (never thought I’d see the day I used that word unironically) cartoons had out there plots, and the more shorthand they could use to instantly convey meaning, the better. I rewatched The Rabbit of Seville and it’s astoundingly creative. Animation unhinged these creators from the need to obey formal logic, so they created their own sense of it. It’s a clever play on an opera that would go way over the heads of kids, but still relates to them on their own level.

Not only were the cartoons clever as fuck, well animated and spectacularly voiced (thanks Mel), but the characters were so diverse and interesting. Can you imagine Bugs being a protagonist these days? He’s a cruel, manipulative sociopath, but we all love him. Daffy Duck is a total narcissist. The Sylvester and Tweety dynamic is a one note joke that somehow spawned years worth of scenarios. Most everyone is at each other’s throat, just trying to get the best for themselves. Loose, unscrupulous morals all over the show. In other words, they’re a total blast to watch.

What’re you still doing here? Go and Tune in already.

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.

In a word? Billiant.

In possibly the greatest Christmas/Hanukkah gift I could’ve imagined, I recently discovered that my girlfriend had never seen Kill Bill. Look, nostalgia is a big driving force in my life. I feel like 30% of my mental energy is constantly devoted to wondering how pop culture has held up with time. I saw Kill Bill in my teen years. It was R18 but I went with my mum. Nobody asked any questions. It’s been almost another lifetime since my first viewing, so naturally the question of how time would treat it was burning deep in my synapses.

The statute of limitations should apply here. Just in case you’re like my girlfriend was several days back, there will be spoilers for Kill Bill Part 1.
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I loved it. I fucking adored it. The film lived up to every expectation and new facets sprung forth. At 16 I couldn’t have understood the genre conventions and subversions as I do now. I plumb hadn’t seen enough film. At 30 it’s all too apparent. The postured dialogue laden with purpose. Totally anachronistic and intentionally overwrought. The glorious union of Kurosawa come John Wayne swagger. The honour and ceremony of samurai culture filtered through western accoutrement. Kill Bill wore its influences on its sleeve in the most affectionate way possible.

The pacing is fantastic. We sat down to eat dinner as we watched and a few minutes into the film is the household fight. It’s a brutal white-knuckle affair. So fast paced and dynamically shot that we sat there, mouths agape, food untouched. There’s an ebb and flow to the proceedings that makes it effortlessly enjoyable to watch. It’s harrowing to see her waking up in hospital, coming to terms with the child she’s lost then switching into action mode against the men about to abuse her body. There are jump cuts, tonal shifts and stories within stories. It’s immaculately composed and entirely gripping.

The choreography is unbelievable. Each fight scene has its own mood and cadence. From the more realistic confrontation with Copperhead, to the stylised whimsy of the battle with the Crazy 88. That battle in particular could’ve been so trite and tired. It never feels overlong. It dynamically shifts from the floor to the railings, trailing blood on the dancefloor. The cinematography is gorgeous. There’s the crane shot as Black Mamba goes to change in the bathroom, or the few times the camera finds its best vantage point behind the stairs, perfect for watching the ensuring carnage. The colours are sharp and bright, but in the blink of an eye it switches to a black and white palette. Then after a blink we’re seeing silhouettes on a fluorescent blue background. How the film manages to be so ambitious without feeling pretentious escapes me. It’s a damn fine film and a wild ride throughout.

The best part? We still have Part 2 to watch and I remember enjoying it a whole lot more. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

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.