I call a spade a spade, but this was more of a spayed

I saw Cats (2019). Spoilers will follow. This movie has left my brain a dense mush, so we’re doing this in bullet point, baby.

  • Cats (2019) is what happens when someone has a dream, a budget of $95 million, and a ceaseless erection draining all the blood from their brain.
  • I was told that this movie was rampantly horny and frankly, the sexuality was undersold.
  • The movie is both incredibly unsettling and unerringly perverted in every second of its runtime.
  • You will never get comfortable with the uncanny valley nature of the film. This is just part of the experience.
  • The animation looks like they worked really hard for a while, got 70% of the way there but just wanted to be home by 5pm and called it.
  • Cats is the kind of film that collapses under its own weight if you ask any questions, and you will not stop asking questions once you leave the theatre.
  • You will spend most of the film seriously asking yourself “would I fuck a cat?” At this moment, I think I just haven’t met the right one yet.
  • The body horror is palpable. There’s something discomforting about every character’s animation, and it’s unique for that character. Sometimes actors’ faces look like they’re floating. This is normal.
  • Jason Derulo’s furry neck tuft is kind of cool, but it also is maybe sentient? It moves in a way that’s not flush with the rest of his body, and is not affected by wind or motion.
  • James Corden’s proportions are alarming. His legs are not appropriately large enough for his body shape, and he looks like a furry anthropomorphic burger with limbs.
  • Ian McKellen is a fucking treasure, and commits 120% to the role. Is it beyond silly? Immeasurably. Will you be on his side? Unconditionally.
  • There’s a cat who wears bright red pants and suspenders. For at least three scenes this cat is unnamed, and draws all the focus as soon as he’s on screen. It’s a mind-boggling directorial choice.
  • There are liberties taken with certain actors’ CGI. Idris Alba has defined cat abs. Taylor Swift’s breasts are eerily shapely in comparison to every other female cat, like her fur has formed its own bra.
  • At one point a character unzips a literal cat fur suit, and the implications are beyond frightening.
  • The movie refuses to address scale. It changes on a whim and it’s never comfortable. There are two forks of woefully different sizes.
  • Why do some cats have clothes? What animals are those fur coats made of? How do the cats feel about that? The movie outright refuses to explain.
  • Cats wearing clothes is odd enough, and raises a lot of questions about the means of production these cats control. Despite this, as soon as cats wear sneakers it gets somehow worse.
  • Looking in the bathroom mirror, I took stock of my body. I felt at peace with the proportions I saw reflected back, then I shook myself off and returned to the nightmare.
  • At some point during the film I left to go to the bathroom. I saw a couple arguing outside about how bad the film was. To be clear, neither of them were saying the film was good. Merely that it was worse than the other thought.
  • That “Mr. Mistoffelees” song is still a fucking banger. We stan.
  • It’s an Emperor’s New Clothes parable for the modern age that so much money was put into this film, so many people were involved and nobody at any link of the chain stopped to ask not if they could, but if they should. This movie is fucking trash. It’s utter nonsense. It’s so poorly plotted, and it’s impossible to put aside its faults to focus on what they were trying to do. The audience started guffawing as soon as the cats were shown, and a low rumble of chuckles permeated the entire screening.
  • Our screening was CHAOTIC. It organically took on a life of its own. A group of four left after 30 minutes. A woman in the row in front of me exclaimed “ALREADY?” We all clapped and cheered furiously after every single song. We stood in respect after “Moonlight”. Sometimes people would make loud involuntary groans, and you knew exactly how they felt. We were far from the only group audibly heckling, and it was the most comforting, communal experience I’ve ever had in a cinema.
  • It’s inexplicable how quickly the “rules” of movie-going went out the window. People just didn’t care. The concept of having respect for the cinema collapsed once we understood how little respect the film paid to its audience. We all expected to be kicked out or talked to. We weren’t.
  • I will see this movie again. Probably many times. It’s destined to become a regular midnight cult film, and I can’t wait to see what call and responses develop. The cost to fun ratio of the $14 I paid for my ticket was astronomical.

Movie: 2/10
Experience: 12/10

See. This. Film. The nightmares are just part of it.

Nonsense and sensibility

Mistoffelees Navidad, motherfuckers.

Was that aggressive? Aggressively horny? Who cares? All that matters is that I’m seeing Cats tonight and will subsequently lose my mind in a swirling eddy of randiness. From what I’ve heard, this film is alarmingly sexual and terrifying, which is a Venn diagram of my interests. I’m in. I’m all in.

It’s weird how this film has already created a mythos of its own. I can’t imagine many things more 2019 then people coming out of their internet holes to celebrate mainstream Hollywood crashing and burning. If there’s one thing I love more than big corporations failing, it’s big corporations failing big. It sounds like Cats was an unintentional abyss, and anyone conspiracy theorising that it was an intentional bleeding discharge is too high on their revisionist history. They tried, and created a monster. Accept it. Love it.

Mostly, it feels like getting in on the ground floor of a cult film. From what people have been saying, it’s madness wrapped ribbon-like around a visceral erection. I’m absolutely sure that Cats (2019) will find its way into midnight screenings/frenzied orgies. I’m ready to able to say “I just finished watching Cats and boy are my arms tired.” My friends and I are all super thirsty for the unedited version. Oh wait, let’s jump back a tad. So one of the big calling cards of this film is that it made it to the cinema unfinished. They didn’t nail all the CGI in their haste, and the studio is sending out updated versions to theatres. We’re taking Judi Dench’s human hand, ring and all. We’re walking a grey humanoid statue they forgot to add the cat layer to in post. An old man walking around in a scarf and hat. The movie already had suspension of disbelief issues with their unstable ratio of scale, and this only adds to the maelstrom. Supposedly big chains will have the updated version, but we have hopes it’s coming Tuesday. None of the smaller Toronto chains are carrying the film, so we have fingers crossed. We’re ready to be horrified, and positively randy.

We will not be sober. Edibles are legal here now, and we’re all prepared to embrace the clusterfuck. When Jason Derulo sprays milk in a radius at the summation of his song, we will lap it up metaphorically (and maybe literally, if the edibles are strong enough). I’m hoping the will be live sing-a-longs. I’ll scan the lyrics to Mr Mistoffelees just in case. Our memories in the moonlight will not be alone. We’ll have others to hold us in the theatre. I may have to refer to my life in BC/AC, for pre and post the screening. I’m prepared, but still not quite H O R N Y for this film. I have a few hours. I’ll get there.

See you in the AC, pals.

Your regularly scheduled reminder that polar bears are black with clear fur. Definitely not green

It’s been over six years since I’ve been to the zoo.

I know this, because the last time I went to the zoo it was for a specific event. My friend’s birthday to be exact. It wasn’t long before I left New Zealand for good, and I figured it’d be nice to take the day off to spend it with her. Flashback to two weeks earlier, when I found $70 lying on the ground outside a masonic temple. I then decided to use the money to make pot baking, and take it to the zoo for my friend’s birthday. Flash forward to the day before. Someone who won’t be named helped me buy it (I’ve never in my life bought pot from a dealer. As a 32 year old, I still wouldn’t know how and it’s my secret shame), and someone else who won’t be named helped me make a delicious infused chocolate caramel slice. We took a whole clip container full of the slices, brought a picnic lunch and had a marvellous day getting buzzed watching animals’ natural splendour in artificial habitats. It was an A+ experience, would do again.

I used to love the Auckland Zoo. I went there a ton of times. We’d go on class field trips maybe once every few years. My grandparents would take my best friend and I there each summer. I once helped out a crew for the 48 hour film competition, and we got special permission to film a bunch of scenes there for free. I’ve been here in Toronto for over six years now, and I still haven’t visited. Let’s see, what do I remember about the Auckland Zoo? Bullet Point Time:

  • I went there once for an intermediate school trip. I bought a cookie from the cafe. It cost $3, which at the time seemed OUTRAGEOUS for a cookie. It was marbled, chocolate and vanilla. The cookie had a similar consistency to short bread. You know the kind where you take a gentle bite and a piece crumbles off into your mouth? I really loved the cookie, despite its high price, and vowed to get one the next time I visited as a special treat. Unfortunately, enough time had passed between visits that the cafe no longer sold said cookie.
  • The playground had this really cool Chinese dragon. It got a bunch of facelifts and new coats of paint over the years, but it was always hugely popular. I remember being surprised at just how spiky its back was. Like, that thing was solid concrete. It’s probably why it’s lasted so many decades, but I’m sure it led to a bunch of bumps and scrapes.
  • The polar bears. I used to love seeing the polar bears, but their history is kind of sad. The zoo could never really get the enclosure right, and the bears suffered. One drowned, another got shot trying to escape years back. A ton of them developed skin lesions and died. I remember being surprised to see green polar bears, but that was apparently part of their affliction. They phased them out in 1995, after realising they couldn’t give them a humane home.
  • The aviary was amazing. It was this big enclosure with mesh fencing stretching in an arc above. The birds were free to fly in the space, and there were pathways that took visitors around. It wasn’t uncommon for a bird to land in a tree not far from you, so you could get a good look at them. They all had (comparatively, if we’re talking about cages as the alternative) a lot of room to fly, and it was neat to see them interact.
  • Eventually they made an ape enclosure that was relatively similar. The various monkeys all had a ton of space to move, swing and interact. There were water features and cool stuff to do for them. They had a ton of facts about the different species, and it was awesome to be able to see the size/scale first hand.
  • I always thought it was cool to see the lions being fed. They’d toss the lions these absolutely massive steaks. I definitely had my eye on those steaks. I wonder if I could actually eat one as an adult. I doubt it, but I wouldn’t say no if someone offered me one.

The Toronto Zoo is technically accessible, it’s just really far away. Once the weather warms up, I might take myself there on a day off. I’ve heard they have polar bears and everything.

Did Steve Irwin live in a gatored community?

Crocodile wrangling is insane.

I wouldn’t have known that if not for this show I had to DV at work. Monster Croc Wranglers. It’s set in Australia, with an American VO. It seems like they’ve taken an Australian show, and tweaked it for a US audience. The music is different, they cut it in ways to heighten the drama, these quick talking Aussie guys are periodically subtitled (even though they’re speaking English). It’s a riot. They’re rural dudes who let slang fly freely. Enough that the US version has to give definitions. They’ll be like “hey mate grab the tinnie and chuck it on top of the buggy”. Then a caption appears on screen saying Tinnie: A small aluminium boat. It’s wild. We haven’t even gotten to the content.

As far as I understand, these blokes handle crocodiles and remove them from problem areas. In the episode I did, they had to get several crocs out of the dry lands so they could move a herd of 200+ cattle. They took them off to a breeding facility, so that the council didn’t have to take preventative measures. Do you know how a croc is wrangled in the country? I didn’t. First they get these large steel cages, and hang them from helicopters. They transport them at the end of a long steel cable, which means they have an ersatz wrecking ball flying over the countryside. They deposit the cages in croc areas with bits of feral hogs (also local problem animals) as a lure. The next day they come back and check on the cages. If there’s a croc in there, they weave a nose rope into a loop, thread it through the cage and loop it around the crocodile’s top jaw. By the looks of it, rather than thrashing, crocs are one of those animals that stays still waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Once the nose rope has been looped and tied, they weave another loop through the nose loop, and affix it to another part of the head. They then get on the other end of the rope, undo the cage door and try to pull the croc out. Apparently crocs jaws are so strong that they can be dragged by their goddamn mouth without feeling pain. The wranglers attach the rope to a buggy, and drag the crocodile out.

Here’s where it gets wild.

While one of the wranglers holds the rope tight, keeping the croc’s jaw open, another wrangler throws a burlap sack over the croc’s eyes, calming it. The wrangler then approaches and gingerly places their bre fucking hand underneath the croc’s lower jaw. They then gently push it up so it touches the top jaw, grab some duct tape and begin taping the croc’s jaw shut. They probably loop around somewhere in the realms of 20-30 times, and wrap the tape over the burlap sack. This apparently calms the croc more, and they go into a docile state. They then put strapping around the crocodile’s midsection and tie it to a trailer, on top of a mattress. It’s nuts.

In the show I watched, they also herded cattle by helicopter. It was unbelievable. They helicopter was so close to the ground, and insanely quick. I couldn’t get over how manoeuvrable these copters were. They cut cattle off at the pass, and moved large quantities from a jungle into a paddock. You’ve gotta see this shit. It’s unreal. This is the kind of thing that could only happen in ‘Straya. It’s what occurs when you’ve got steel balls for brains, and I have nothing but respect for it.

This show is great, and you should seek it out.

Anyway, see ya later alligators.

Did you know you’re supposed to wear bum bags backwards?

Work Halloween party in an hour and a half, and I still haven’t figured out my costume.

To be clear, I know what I’m going to wear, I just haven’t figured out what I’m gonna call it. I want to wear my lion onesie, because it’s comfortable and doesn’t require any planning. That’s fine, and the only issue really is that that it has no pockets. I need pockets, because I’ll want my scan card to get in and out of the party. I have a bum bag/fanny pack, which works great for the pockets dilemma, but it doesn’t do wonders for the costume. So if I’m gonna have the bum bag and also retain a modicum of decorum at a costumed event, I’ll need to justify it somehow. Unless…

I’ve definitely told the story here before, but I used to have a friend back home with one particular costume for parties. A taco. She didn’t even own the costume, she just loved it. Her friend worked at a costume rental place. My friend borrowed the taco costume so often that eventually she started getting it practically for free. She’d go to parties as a taco, any parties. Halloween? Taco. Themed parties? Taco. I had a Comicon themed leaving party from NZ, and you can bet your arse she dressed as a taco. It was a fun bit, but it got better. Every time she’d show up at a party, she’d meet new people who didn’t get it. They had no idea that she was some form of wonderful sociopath dressing to her own theme no matter what was on offer. So they’d start making offers. “Oh, are you the character Taco from The League?” Whatever they’d suggest, she’d be like “oh, you totally got it. Good job”. Then if someone else came up with another suggestion, same thing. Everyone thought they were so astute for guessing, and she didn’t have to justify a thing. It was great.

I wonder if I could take the same tack at this work party. Just wear what I want to wear, and put the onus on others to let me know what I am. I know I’ve got a twisty turny brain that’ll contort itself to come up with concepts. If I saw someone wearing a fanny pack and lion costume I’d be like “ooooh, are you Muff-asa?” Maybe not safe for work, but my brain sure isn’t. I can leave the job of figuring out my costume to others, and just have a good time. I can make people feel great for ‘guessing correctly’, and if someone comes up with a really good one, I can take it for myself. No stress whatsoever, and I’ll be comfy as a bean in a burrito.

Or just like, make a cardboard crown and go as The Lion King.

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.

That tunnel ain’t so secret no more

Greetings comrades, who’s ready to maintain the status quo?

I don’t think I’ve run out of things I like (though to be fair, it’s an evergreen topic) so let’s get back in that saddle:

  • Evergreen trees.
  • The colour green.
  • Referring to people being “saddled” with things, when implying a burden. It makes me feel like a cowboy.
  • The fantasy of watching Deadwood someday, despite knowing how unlikely it is that I’ll get around to it.
  • HBO’s twitter presence.
  • Sarcastically using the radio advertising trope of “it’s our birthday, but you get the presents”.
  • Working remotely.
  • The board game Dixit.
  • Becoming instant best friends with strangers I know I’m never gonna see again.
  • Saying “keep the change” when it’s silver coinage.
  • Not taking pamphlets from people, and telling them I’ll check it out online instead.
  • Saying “I’m not here to kink shame” when people talk about their hobbies.
  • Homes that feel lived in, rather than overly showy.
  • Petrichor.
  • Finding out that I share a birthday with someone.
  • Hanging out in kitchens or hallways at parties.
  • Pretending to have an American accent and showing people how good I am at doing a New Zealand accent.
  • Billy T. James’ laugh.
  • When I’m wearing costume glasses, pushing them up the bridge of my nose and feeling like I’m smart.
  • Earned physical exhaustion.
  • Being so tired in bed that I can’t even pronounce words correctly.
  • Getting goofy with intimate partners.
  • Saying “did I stutter?” mock aggressively in a wholly unimportant conversational.
  • Inflatable floaties in pools.
  • Having permission to break things.
  • Eating too much with friends, then lounging around watching a movie. Sometimes naps are involved.
  • Walking very fast, and weaving in between slow movers.
  • Retaining coordination while drunk dancing, but with ALL OF THE ENTHUSIASM.
  • Coordinating caffeine and alcohol to get the perfect buzz on a Friday/Saturday night.
  • Remembering on the Sunday that it’s a long weekend and there’s no work the next day.
  • Finding an old joke I wrote and losing myself to guffaws.
  • Slapping my knee out of laughter.
  • Meeting up with old friends and instantly feeling like no time has passed.
  • When I’ve done a shitty job tying a tie, and someone fixes it for me.
  • The sound of a kereru whomping its wings, then landing on a creaky branch with a thud.
  • Seeing shitty people get what’s coming to them.
  • When four legged animals rear up on their hind legs.
  • Effortless conversations that flow naturally, without people speaking over one another.
  • Shouting “HEEEEEEY YOOOOOU GUUUUUUUUUYS” like Sloth from The Goonies.
  • Scratching the “L” off signs that say “Public _________”.
  • This sign that my dad and I would drive past all the time. It used to say “We’re not fast, we’re old” but someone scratched off letters to make it say “We r  ot fast, we’re old.”
  • Sarcastically using condescending words like “pedestrian” or “banal”.
  • The word “myopic”.
  • Having my low expectations be utterly bowled over.
  • The knowledge that my Neopets aren’t truly dead.
  • Having someone understand a really “clutch” reference of mine.
  • The bit in The Wedding Singer when the guy says “THEY WERE COOOOOONES.”
  • Cosying up and rewatching Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  • The “Secret Tunnel” song from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  • Finishing up my writing so I can listen to the “Secret Tunnel” song a bunch more times.

Adios.