COVID-19 Ways How I Learned to Stop being Bored and Love to Cook.

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Dr Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964).

If I had to pick the number one enemy, the bane of my existence, I would not hesitate to choose boredom. 

7 hours of dull, repetitive, gatekeeper work at retail.

5 days in a row.

10am to 5pm.

The first few days can be summed up like this:

Go on your phone, Damocles. 

Watch Youtube for hours, Damocles. 

Annoy your friends and chat to them incessantly on Facebook, Damocles. 

Eat McDonalds for the 5th straight lunch in a row. 

Serve customers and then go straight back to the incredibly urgent Office video I am watching for the 9th time. 

But … I soon got tired of myself and the routine that my week had turned into.

It started with food.

My favourite type of meat is the undeniably boring chicken.

McDonalds … has an extremely limited menu when it comes to poultry and when you’ve had the same McChicken or Nuggets combination for the 9th time in a row … you end up perceiving lunch the same way you would an unavoidable family gathering.

Why not eat beef? 

Just not a fan if I am honest. Something about the McDonalds beef patty puts me off eating altogether.

It was also around this time, that my girlfriend, equally bored at home and at work, began to crave certain dishes and meals. So whenever we got together on Fridays, we would try making something.

It took 4 or 5 middling successes to get the cooking crave.

Our dishes haven’t really been perfect, but they’ve been edible and far more enjoyable than a lukewarm chicken burger.

I started binging – Binging with Babish videos, eager to try and make recipes. Only last week, I made pasta Aglio e Olio for my girlfriend, to surprisingly OK results.

I say surprisingly, because usually whenever I am in the kitchen, things have a habit of going tits up.

But just like shooting, the more time and experience you gain, getting exposure to the gun, or in this case, chopping and gas burners, you start to get the knack of it.

So I’ve discovered cooking, because of how boring my lunch meals were becoming. I wanted tasty food. I craved something substantial that would help make my retail shifts a bit more palatable.

Which leads to my current obsession: sandwiches.

In particular, a cubano sandwich.

Because I started watching more Babish, I felt compelled to check John Favreau’s Chef (2014), a pleasing, fun, feel-good movie about a chef who turns his career around.

The cubano being the very bedrock in which he manages to transform himself, and me falling in love with the fun that John Leguizamo is clearly having on set.

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“Best Cuban food in all of South Beach. If you need it more authentic, you can swim 90 miles that way!” 

This obsession with a sandwich, ended up with me, trying something I have not done since high school.

Learn a language.

Spanish of course.

This was probably unhealthily reinforced by repeated viewings of Senor Chang on Community Season 1, completely massacring the Spanish language with his ridiculous pronunciation and unhinged racism.

Thus far, I’ve learned how to say ….

Hello, apples, goodbye, thank you, man, boy, woman, girl and water.

Hola, manzana, adios, gracias, hombre, nino, mujer, nina, and aqua.

I only started yesterday with the duolingo app.

But it’s fun. It’s also been interesting to see how much more prepared my mind is to learn a language, versus that of my juvenile state in high school.

I can see myself actively striving to remember words and phrases, instead of dismissing them.

Learning is always intriguing.

That motto, only came about because of my previous What If?, where I realised that to make my own life more interesting and genuine, I should be trying to learn more things, than just blindly follow the easy route.

Follow my interests and actually research topics instead of just dismissing names and ideas.

A key example of this was revealed to me, when I read a headline that said: Elon Musk hates Warren Buffet.

I was aware of Elon Musk (who isn’t) but was completely in the dark about Warren Buffet. I knew he had to be rich, of some importance, to warrant the ire of Musk, but beyond that, I had nothing.

So I did a little bit more digging on wikipedia.

I was astonished to learn about Forbes’ Billionaire list, which showcases the richest men in the world, and how much each is worth.

I couldn’t help but go through each of those names, their net worth and exactly what sort of empire they ran. My personal interest, dismissed a lot of those running computer systems, like Larry Ellison’s Oracle Corporation, or Bill Gates’ Microsoft and the more obvious contenders like Jeff Bezos’ Amazon, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook or the Walton’s Walmart. 

Instead, I looked into fashion industrialists, like Bernard Arnault’s LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) and Amancio Ortega’s Zara. 

Why?

Because to get into fashion, you need to cultivate sophistication and oftentimes, I can sense that rich European types edge their American counterparts in terms of taste and how they spend their money.

And in Arnualt’s case, he chose to create a Museum.

The LVMH Museum, which showcases Arnualt’s personal collection of artwork, is a fascinating piece of French modern history and personally, in my opinion, an affront to common design tropes.

My revulsion to the design of the LVMH Museum led me down to my secret passion for architecture.

For the longest time, I’ve always entered and stared at buildings. They still retain some of that whimsical wonder than gripped me as a child, when I saw giant 747s at an airport take off.

How the fuck do they do that?

In particular, what I love about architecture is the blend of creativity, expressionism and science that goes into it. Everything about it, is exacting, unique and undeniably complex.

I cannot truly ever grasp architecture, because in my mind, it’s the same thing as wondering how we managed to light up a city grid with electricity and allow everyone to have 24/7 access.

Its amazing.

So instead, I just go off, an instinctual reaction to buildings.

Some are boring, some are interesting but stale, some reward you with study, and some repulse me.

The LVMH museum is one such Gehry design that I cannot say I am a fan of.

To say that Frank Gehry is a genius, is a fact.

But to say that I like everything of his?

It’s more like a love-hate relationship.

I love his work on the Guggenheim Museum – Bilbao in Spain, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and New World Centre in Miami, but absolutely loathe his work on the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle.

And the less said about the Dancing House in Prague, the better.

However, he is the product of our contemporary times. He serves as a reflection of modern taste, a master of shaping and bending metal, glass, plastic and glass, that we all love to use in our modern construction.

But I love the understated work of Rem Koolhass more. The sharp lines, the way how he manipulates angles and showcase windows, is a lot more definitive and interesting.

The beyond gorgeous Seattle Central Library is amazing, as is the China Central Television Headquarters in Beijing.

How he envisioned the CCTV Headquarters is nothing short of incredible in my opinion.

To me, architecture provides such an unique opportunity to showcase your city’s character and personality.

Melbourne’s architecture is rather plain, but I’ve walked the streets long enough to know about the hidden nuggets here and there. I love my town, but it isn’t flawless.

However look hard enough and you’ll find buildings of very interesting design

And I’m not referring to the hideously designed Federation Square either.

Instead, I direct you away from the dull, commanding, and dome-less Parliament House of Victoria, and towards more respectful and a homage to an Ancient Wonder, the Shrine of Remembrance in South Melbourne.

A national war memorial, it is a Mausoleum, made of granite, and can be seen directly down the centre of Melbourne’s CBD when standing at the proper angle. It is also a callback to Ancient Wonders, like the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and the Parthenon in Athens.

Once you’ve admired and paid respect to the Museum, look across the street and stare at one of my favourite Melbourne apartment designs, the Melburnian, with its iconic and strange curved design.

Ignoring the Eureka Tower, and the Rialto, I advise you to observe the gargoyles on the Gothic Bank (ANZ) and the beautiful stained window designs.

Also nearby is the amazing 333 Collins St, a former banking chamber, with baroque overtones and an incredible roof and classic alleyway design. It was also featured prominently in the time travel thriller Predestination (2014), a surreal viewing experience for me, as I know that building so well.

Venturing further, one must always visit the skyway that link the Emporium and Melbourne Central and marvel at the traffic below.

But before doing so, you must treat yourself to an intriguing green lantern roof, in the St Collins Lane. Alas the intriguing green lounge rooms, with their grunge roofs and black wall decor, have disappeared, replaced by dull shops. I have many fond memories of the lounge area, and relaxing with my girlfriend there, after long trips around the CBD.

However, my favourite places to visit, will always be hotels.

There is something magical about visiting a luxury hotel. It’s a strange mixture of temporary and permanence, your home away from home, but it’s always perfect, still and dead, despite you living in it.

The couches aren’t quite as good as the one at your home, but the toilet and shower are better. The bed is perfect, soft, clean but never as warm as your own.

But beyond the rooms, I adore the lobbies. I love the perfect facade, and how people come in and out, stay and leave, resting or waiting. There’s a unique ambience in them that I love, and the architecture has to reflect that.

Books are placed in a certain place, windows are designed to showcase the world outside, elevators are hidden away, floors are marbled, convention rooms are subtly labelled and even the receptionist must blend with the surroundings.

I personally adore the Park Hyatt Melbourne lobby and design, with its magnificent staircase.

Equal contenders are the Westin Melbourne with its marbled, grey and white interior, the Grand Hyatt Melbourne with its beautifully dark, dimly lit atmosphere, where I’ve hung out for hours on their outdoor chairs, and eaten at its restaurant, and the antique Victorian styling of the Hotel Windsor that opposes the Parliament House for classicism.

Yet, the most hotel experience I’ve ever had, still remains the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins with its actual structure built into an office complex, complete with an incredible Japanese restaurant, Kenzan, and my favourite cinema theatre: Kino – Palace Cinema.

The valet and taxi rank area is circular, with the actual lobby overlooking it, and a beautifully calm, relaxed and comfortable lobby/cafe section that has the best couches to sink into.

I love the tall roof, the circular doors for the convention rooms and level 35, which boasts the best bathroom view in all of Melbourne and an incredible airy, Middle Eastern styling for the Atrium Bar.

It is arguably my favourite place in the city.

But I’ve digressed enough on my passion for architecture and hotels.

This is the week where I’m going to learn how to cook more, learn new things to say in Spanish (Hola, mucho gusto! Mi nombre es Damocles.), and keep on writing.

My next big style to perfect is actually a screenplay.

So look forwards to that. I’ll be using the Gone Girl (2014) screenplay by the author herself, Gillian Flynn, who I am a big fan of.

Until next time, when boredom strikes again.

~ Damocles.

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