Tuesday, September 29, 2015

In Which the Author makes an Error of Judgment

Hello it's me!  I hadn't blogged in AGES and I thought I probably should, because what if I die suddenly and my legacy is that terrible pilot rap?  That is not how I want the world to remember me, although if there was a massive group rap at my funeral I would be ok with that.

Wait, no I wouldn't, it would distract from the fireworks.

Sorry, future children.  Better luck with your dad's life insurance.

Anyway it is Healthy Living Month around here at the moment because, while I am generally pretty good at being a grown-up and doin' grown-up shit like 'paying bills' and 'getting car serviced' and 'consistently forgetting to put the rubbish out', left to my own devices there is a distinct tendency for me to go a little bit Henry VIII.

And then before you know it the floor is covered in chicken bones and you have soup on your bathrobe and you are drinking a self-invented cocktail called the Garlic Wallbanger because you did not go to the supermarket and thought it would be sensible to use up the garlic, but it wasn't, and also you still haven't put the rubbish out.

Side note: last week one of my neighbours decided on the spur of the moment that it was recycling day, and the whole street followed suit and put their cardboard and bottles out by the side of the road, only to sadly trundle them back inside again that evening because actually it wasn't recycling day after all.  I love it when this happens.  I wonder if anyone ever does it on purpose?  I also wonder if next week is recycling week.  I might just put my recycling out and see what hap- WAIT I GET IT NOW.

why, what does YOUR council's recycling campaign look like?

Anyway while I have not yet gone full Henry and (thankfully) the Garlic Wallbanger remains a figment of the imagination, I did decide to be more Good in General.  Which in reality means going to the gym slightly more and attempting to have dinners which aren't just a compilation of snacks.  This is going pretty well, but quite honestly now that I've compared myself to Henry VIII I'm bored with talking about it - I suspect you are relieved by this.

In other news, Button and I got fluoro lipsticks today; you may be asking "How fluoro can a lipstick really be," which was also my question right after I'd invested my $9 plus shipping, but it turns out the answer is very, and also the answer is where do I buy more.

you will most certainly have no trouble finding me in da club

Anyway, I've run out of news but here is the recipe for the imaginary Garlic Wallbanger.

1 part gin, or whatever alcohol you happen to have.  "part" means "amount sloshed into glass where you go 'huh that looks about right' and then tip in some more to be sure that the cocktail will in fact work.
1 clove garlic, or two if you're feeling adventurous
fizzy water, if you do not have fizzy water then get regular water and blow some bubbles in it with a straw. be the soda stream you want to see in the world!
maybe... cayenne pepper?  or an unsuitable spice of your choosing
something to garnish - mint and cherries and lemon wedges are traditional but this cocktail deserves something more.  garnish with star anise and charred Marmite or something.  you char it in the toaster.  I'm beginning to suspect you haven't done this before.


Put the gin into a glass.  Small glass means less gin, but large glass means more cocktail.  Your call.  Please don't put this in one of those fancy-ass dacquiri glasses, you will only be ashamed of yourself.
Wait, no!  Step one isn't putting in the gin.  Sorry.  Maybe just drink that gin so the glass is empty again.
Put the garlic into a glass.  Muddle it with your professional bar muddler, or a spoon, or the holding-onto end of a spatula if it's washing up day.  Muddle means smash it about.  Did you take the skin off first?  I hope you took the skin off first.
Once the garlic is mashed about and all up the walls of the glass, add the gin.  At this point, you should be beginning to question your decision to make this cocktail.
Put some ice in, if you have ice.  If you don't have ice, I hope you have been keeping that gin in the freezer, because warmth doesn't really help the um, the garlic ambience.
Add the cayenne pepper.  Holy shit not that much.  Take some back out.  Oh dear, you can't, it's all floating in the gin.  Add some more gin to make up for all the pepper. Muddle the garlic again for good measure.
Add fizzy water until the glass is full.  Stir.
Garnish with star anise and charred Marmite.
Pour down sink.

UPDATE: after writing down the instructions to the Garlic Wallbanger I thought it was only fair that I make it and let you know how it goes.  I have made it, and now I am afraid to drink it.

if you like pina coladas / you're about to get a horrible surprise

ANOTHER UPDATE: I have just taken my first sip and fuck I wish I had been out of cayenne pepper today.

REVIEW: At first sip it's vaguely savoury and refreshing and the cayenne pepper tingles lightly on the tongue and you go "Oh maybe this won't be so bad" and then HELLO, GARLIC AND GIN, and then there is a gentle aftertaste of cayenne and then there is a fucking massive aftertaste of garlic and then the cayenne comes back with a vengeance and oh my God, people, never ever make this.

I was about to say it wouldn't be that bad if it wasn't for all the cayenne but quite honestly it would.  I don't know what I was thinking.  I'm going to have another sip and see if it gets better.





(In the interests of honesty - I did not char the Marmite, but I very much doubt that it would have helped.)

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Being A Pilot, and Other Good Ideas*

*another good idea: if you call a meeting, you are allowed to set the Meeting Soundtrack, which is any song of your choice.  I do not wish to host any more meetings in which I am not allowed to play 'Funkytown'.  I will sing along, to engage the meeting participants: "Well we talk about it, talk about it, talk about... revenue! *finger guns*" and because you called the meeting, nobody is allowed to leave.  Team, if you are reading this, tomorrow morning's meeting is on.

Today during a particularly trying 15 minutes at work, somewhere between trying the sugarfree RedBull and copy checking the deal for pyjama jeans*, it occurred to me that perhaps I could quit my job and re-train as a pilot.

I have many of the required attributes, like enjoying money and looking good in uniform and saying things like "Cabin crew, prepare the cabin for departure" and "We've now reached our cruising altitude" and "Gentlemen, please! Form an orderly line."

Also I am completely rubbish at parallel parking and I don't think I've ever seen anyone have to parallel park a plane.  Nobody tell the pilot training people about the time that I scraped the car on the fence because the car is big and it was dark.

look I'm sorry about the control tower but normally I drive an A380.

I would probably have to get out of the habit of saying "Ooh!" loudly whenever I make a mistake.

So after work I was still working, but in a relaxed and peaceful manner instead of a panicked, deadline-driven manner, and I saw this and the being-a-pilot thoughts intensified:

Here are some of the things I would do, if I were a pilot:

  • Fill the in-flight update with puns:  "This is your captain speaking, the weather looks fine all the way to Auckland, we advise you not to try the cassava crisps because, like your current mode of transport, they're a little plain."
  • Break off mid-update to say "...wow, is that a balloon?" and make everyone in the plane look out the window at once
  • Throughout the in-flight update, refer to the plane by name.  The name will be something humble yet majestic, like Barnaby or Brucetifer.
  • Rap the in-flight update.  I wrote an example line and then got carried away and wrote an example rap and the moral of the story is that I think my copilot will have to write the rap updates (rapdates? sounds like a date with a raptor, or maybe a speed dating event where you are only allowed to speak in verse and incidentally that idea is now my intellectual property so put the phone down) because fuck I am a bad, bad rapper. 

But anyway, here is the example rap (rapxample?)

Pilot (me):

This is your cruising altitude of 30,000 feet
Most of you are waiting for a biscuit you can eat
If you're in a window seat then you can sneak a window peek
There is turbulence ahead, it was worse last week

This is your captain speaking
This is how your captain speak

Copilot, in falsetto:  
this is how your captain do
this is your lovely cabin crew
this is NZ2300, straight outta Timaru**

Pilot (me again):

We on final approach and the weather is fine 
We be on the tarmac by the hour of nine
'cause we refined our flight time by divine design
to coincide with the arrival of the other airline 
now stop!
we switching on the seatbelt sign

Copilot repeats chorus

Pilot (still me):

put on your own mask before helping others
now relax and enjoy your flight, motherfuckers.

- - -

I really don't have anything to follow that.  See you all at flight school.

*tagline: Pajamas you live in.  Jeans you sleep in™.  I'm glad they trademarked it because I can imagine that appearing on a whole lot of other products. 

**please note that this is the actual flight number for Air NZ flights departing Timaru.  I am taking this pilot shit seriously.

Monday, August 31, 2015

To Choose Your Own Adventure, turn to page 72

Hello everyone!

I just opened a cider and took a biggish swig and the cider was a LOT fizzier than I was expecting, and it went out of control in my mouth and I went "BWOOOSH!"like a small surprised fountain and now there is cider all over the lounge.

In more impressive news, last week I wrote a short 'Choose Your Own Adventure' book and it was immense fun.  I wrote it for Button, so it's very in-joke heavy and you would be unlikely to enjoy it, but to decant some honey turn to page 48.
spoiler alert: you do not save Poley by decanting honey

To make the plot I eviscerated a notebook and wrote a Thing That Happens on each page and arranged the pages all over the floor of the living room.

I thought I might write another one.  Perhaps it will be a mystery, perhaps it will be a romance, perhaps it will be about pirates, perhaps it will be a pirate romance mystery where you are Detective Inspector Cannonball, stowed away on board the - boat names are surprisingly hard - the Terror of the Seas in order to solve the Case of the Disappearing Viking Heiress, but then you are forced to choose between the call of duty and the call of booty.  
Pirate booty.  But also sexy booty, because of course there will be sexy booty.   To climb the mast, turn to page 21.  To 'climb the mast', turn to page 48.  Surprise!  There is Poley, decanting honey.

If you would like to read the choose your own adventure book when it's done, let me know in the comments and I will post you a copy.

This week I found an old USB that has the contents of my previous computer in it.  Highlights include: 

  • a melodramatic and mercifully short horror story about being trapped in an inhumane torture compound where the inmates are thrown into sacks and skinned, but then in the end it turns out that the story is from the point of view of potatoes
  • a melodramatic and mercifully short horror story about a submariner who wakes up to find the submarine deserted and explores it with a Growing Sense of Dread, but then in the end it turns out that the entire crew had hidden to throw him a surprise party (the last sentence is 'Petty Officer Wallace had forgotten that it was his birthday')
  • A folder of notes made, presumably, when I was working at the Press.  Notes include, "NO MORE BAND! ENOUGH BAND FOR TODAY!" and "I just sat on my headset."

IMAGINE.  Other people are writing the Great American Novel, and I am writing things like 

p.s. today after a meeting I was having a Work Conversation about some new site functionality and I asked if we could still have badge redirects to different parts of site, and the developer said, "You can add them wherever you like! You could have a link at top of page telling everyone to go to 'Ally's Blog!'" and MAN sometimes I forget that the me that writes the ridiculous blog is also the me that has the serious meetings and does the professional things. Hopefully everyone at work also forgets this. Work if you are reading this maybe you should read this post about the top 50 most ridiculous Pokemon names and leave me in peace to action my workflow.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

New Zealand Flag Idol

At the moment, we as a country are having a referendum to decide if we would like a new flag! I don't know why I put that exclamation mark, it isn't particularly exciting.  Which is also a fair description of our current flag.

pictured: flags who know how Pluto feels

The Prime Minister says we need a flag that “better reflect[s] our status as a modern, independent nation” and which is more representative of NZ's multicultural makeup than old Little Britain up there.  This is a fair point.

The third reason, which is definitely not even slightly the main reason, is that it would be nice to have a flag which doesn't look quite so much like Australia's.

shut up with your extra star. nobody likes you.

Before one can have a new flag, one must have a Flag Consideration Process.  This is less interesting than it sounds, which is impressive.  It's also remarkably similar to a TV talent show, except much more expensive.  Did you know the FCP will cost us $25.7 million?  That's a lot of Le Snaks.

"What about the 260,000 NZ children who are living in poverty?"
"Don't worry, they will love the new flag."

Note that that is probably not a real quote.

Here are the steps on the road to becoming NZ Flag Idol:

Part 1: The Auditions  
Anyone can make a submission for the new flag design.  We have done this part!  Over 10,000 designs were submitted and 90% of them did not make it through to the next round.  Their NZ's Next Top Flag dream ends here.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the Susan Boyle:

"I believe my design is so powerful it does not need to be discussed." - designer

That one is a real quote.

2: Boot Camp
A panel of Prominent New Zealanders cut down the designs from over 10,000 to a more modest 40.  The designs which are not selected are no longer part of Project Flagway.  Auf wiedersehen.  Air kiss.

This is just happened, here are your top 40:

"Kiwi with laser eyes, your Flag Consideration Process journey ends here."
*crowd boos*

(Note that many of the final 40 are predominantly black, allowing NZ to join the hallowed ranks of other black-flag-users including anarchists, pirates, and ISIS.)

3. The Live Rounds:
Next, your Flag Factor judges whittle down the 40 to a more modest 4.  They haven't done this yet, but I am very excited to see what they choose.  By now, we the people are expected to have our favourites and follow their emotional journey from being a tiny flagling to appearing in front of a live audience for the first time!  Txt to vote.  Votes cost 50c.

Note: we do not actually get to vote at this point.

4.  The Semi-Final:
We the public are asked to vote: if there was to be a new NZ's Next Top Flag, which one of the four semi-finalists would you choose?   This then gives us the Preferred Alternative Flag.

I really hope that this is where they unveil the Wildcard Entry, and this is what it is:

fuck yes, new zealand

5. The Final:
We the public are asked to vote: Would you like the Preferred Alternative Flag, or would you like The Flag We Have Already Got?  Voting lines are closed, the votes are tallied, and the triumphant flag makes a humble acceptance speech while hugging the losing flag, who is trying desparately not to cry.  An emotional video plays.
We remain excited about NZ's Next Top Flag for approximately ten minutes and then go back to wondering when MasterChef starts up again.


Footnote: it seems to me like the final question of "would you like a new flag" would have been a logical thing to ask at the beginning of this process, but then I am not a Government.