Stan by your man

Like any film character before a monstrous transformation, I don’t feel so good.

Must be nice, is all.

I dunno. Would my life be served by shifting into an inhuman creature? Maybe. It seemed to work out for that sexy fishman in The Shape of Water (spoiler, I still haven’t seen The Shape of Water). If I could get extra appendages or the ability of flight that’d be pretty slick. I know a lot of animals have cool abilities that humans would only dream of. At Te Papa museum my girlfriend and I visited this wicked exhibit on insects. There was a type of flying insect that basically had precognition. Or at least it could rapidly analyse the vectors other organisms and predict their actions. Spider Sense, by any other name. How cool would that be?

On the topic of Spider Sense, I guess it’s worth thinking about Stan Lee a little. Like most men in positions of power, I have no doubts there were times he abused that power. I’ve heard allegations of sexual misconduct and I think we’ve seen enough of this to know they were likely true. I also know that it’s hard to place the sum of a person’s worth upon one aspect of them. We all have nuance. I’m not gonna all out galvanise the guy. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the myriad of times he pushed others out of the spotlight to improve the way he’d appear. At the same time, it’s not possible to trace the sheer hope and inspiration his creations (many co-created with the talented Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby of course) brought to those who found solace in his work. I’m sure a lot of what we consider trope-y was at the time revolutionary and boundary pushing. The X-Men stand in for almost any marginalised group. I know personally that my own resolve was strengthened by the notion that despite insurmountable odds at times, I’d never really be alone. It’s notable too that both Lee and Kirby, of Jewish birth, changed their last names for the purpose of mainstream acceptability. These characters they made, fighting for the downtrodden against oppression, existed in a world with the spectre of WW2 a faint memory. Whatever realm of moral compass I have, I know that being brought up with an array of heroic opinion leaders formed a large part of it. None of us are saints, but if we can leave this place a little better for having lived here, that seems like a worthwhile use of an existence.

I don’t know why I pulled the escape lever on that paragraph, it’s not like I have anything better to follow it up with. I’m feeling a bit green. Last night my stomach was topsy turvy. I thought I was just suffering the effects of an overspiced pasta dish and rice for two means in a row. I don’t eat a ton of complex carbs, I figured, my body was having a rough time processing them. My throat was scratchy and a little warm. I tried TUMS, then covered my bases with some oil of oregano. No dice. Who knows? I drank a lot Saturday night. Maybe I made out with an uncooked chicken and forgot about it. Today my throat has been uncomfortably hot and my energy levels have plummeted. Just all over fatigued. I’m fortunate I had very little work today and could easily work from home. It’s a luxury. I guess the real luxury would be working a job where I didn’t feel I needed to “show up” for the day when I was ill, because I didn’t want to pass my work onto my co-workers. But that would take a major societal overhaul whereby we stopped venerating martyrdom and suffering for the sake of your job. I’ve been in the position long enough that it’s a breeze for the most part, but tons of my newer co-workers still stay after hours, take lunch at their desk or skip eating for hours because they’re too busy. Maybe, as much of a luxury working from home is (and it is), it’s still part of an overall fucked up system.

Look, if I’m about to Hulk out, I’m here for it.

See you in the stars, Stan.

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A one stop shop for all your premium Mal content

I have the words “Nightmare Beef or Christmas” in my head and I don’t know what to do with them. I guess it’s gonna be one of those days.

I was listening to the La La Land soundtrack this morning. Ready for the most lukewarm of takes? I still think La La Land was a grossly enjoyable popcorn film with a fantastic colour palette, gorgeous visual composition, likeable leads and a fun score. I think the majority of animosity it gets in certain circles comes from how critically lauded the film was when it was released and its friction with Moonlight for the Best Picture race. Moonlight was a better film, no questions. That doesn’t diminsh that La La Land has an enduring quality to it that leans on a successful musical formula with modern framing. Much as I loved the film, I don’t see why it was viewed as Best Picture material, and being overrated doesn’t inherently make the film bad. No, it didn’t really have anything poignant to say, but that’s also totally fine for cinematic escapism.

In the vein of other musicals, I’m seeing a Rocky Horror shadowcast tonight. First time, “V” on face and all. It’s not my first viewing whatsoever. My best friend growing up was very into it at a possibly unsuitable age. When we were 7 or 8 we’d be watching the exploits of Frank-N-Furter et al, but I was mostly scared. I thought he was a vampire and, at that age, had no time for anything remotely scary. Though strangely I loved Aliens/Predator, so who knows what was up with that? I saw the stage show once, which was a fucking riot. Listening to the soundtrack this morning it all came rushing back. I can’t believe just how many lines are etched deep into my memory. I also somehow made it to this old without realising Susan Fucking Sarandon was in it. Frankly, I’m not even gonna try to learn all the callouts. There are way too many. This isn’t some filthy casual shit like The Room. Rocky Horror has enough of a history that it’s fine to be inexperienced. It seems like that’s half the fun.

My costume isn’t totally sorted. I’m halfway there. I saw a French maid costume at Dollarama and thought it was perfect. Easy Magenta outfit, right? I fretted over the size on the packet, working out which measurement was chest, hip, etc. Turns out it was just a fucking apron. So I currently have an apron, fishnet stockings and purple fishnet gloves. I own a colourful bra (because of course I do), so I think I just need to secure a skirt that fits and, ideally, some form of upper torso wear. If not, I’m basically wearing a bra and an apron. If it was any other event, maybe I’d need to worry about it, but when it comes to Rocky Horror, maybe not. I have friends that can help me with the makeup, which is most of the heavy lifting.

As for today’s work Halloween party (which starts in about 15 minutes), it turns out I owned enough on theme regular clothing to do a lazy Captain Mal Reynolds cosplay. Aside from having to wear a collared shirt to work, it’s just a burgundy shirt, tan pants, suspenders, a crooked belt, holster and gun. That’s all. I’ve done the costume once or twice before, but I now own nicer versions of the shirt and pants instead of incorrectly sized thrift store finds. Years after the initial costume, I’m still using a normal hammer holster (cannibalised from an Al Borland Halloween outfit) as a gun holster, but nobody has called me on it yet. Maybe one day I’ll swap out the burgundy shirt for something in flannel and go as Captain Mal Borland or something.

Would that be… an Improvement?

That’s what we call soFistocation

I have a ton of costume prep to do, a decent amount of time in which to do it and equal amounts of trepidation.

Do you know who Fisto is? Well from the ages of 9-31, I don’t think I did either. I’m sure I was probably a fan as a kid. The Heroic Master of Hand to Hand Combat was a companion of He Man in his ongoing adventures to sell action figures. I thought He Man was tHe Man and as an adult, I get it. The toys were colourful and based around fighting monsters. I played with them all at my mum’s toy store, and only as a tax paying grown up did I realise quite how shit the characters/naming conventions were. There’s no point straining to imagine what Moss Man, Battle Lion, Spikor, Stinkor, Ninjor, Fang Man, Goat Man, King Hiss or Buzz Off did or looked like, because it’s right there in plain English. Consequently, Fisto has a big metal fist. If the show were for adults, I also have no doubt what Fisto’s favourite thing would be. It’s in the name.

If you’ve clicked the link above, you can see what the costume will try and resemble. “Try” being the operative word, because I’m a) not adept which makes this whole concept b) trying. Why am I going as a character I hardly know? Because a group of my friends are donning Masters of the Universe getups and that sounded like a happy funtime to me. As I said, I used to adore the show/toys and when am I not seeking the eternal high of nostalgia? The only issue, is my friends are way more sartorially gifted than I am. I never do costumes that involve work. I don’t have the skills, primarily because I’ve never had to hone them, so they’re still beyond my grasp. My friends, however, know how to sew/stitch/craft pieces that work. Here I am wondering how the fuck do I make a loin cloth?

Luckily my friends are generous people who give freely of their expertise. Unluckily for me, that doesn’t involve them just doing the work for me. Which means I’ve got shit to do. I thought things would be far easier than they have been. Look at this guy. I did and thought right. Hulk hand, loin cloth, belt, boots, shirt thing and shoulder guards. I own blue Doc Martens, which I figure are good enough for the boots. I went to Value Village to look for second hand clothes that’d meet my needs. I found a belt and tank top, but that was it. Somehow they don’t stock loin cloths or hulk hands. For shame. The Hulk Hands I tracked down off BUNZ, which is a Toronto based barter site. Cost me three cans of beer, but that was easy. They were brown for some weird reason. A bottle of cheap acrylic paint solved that. I spent an evening doing quick coats and drying them with a hairdryer. It looks fucking awesome.

The rest hasn’t been so simple. I bought some leggings from Dollarama to make the loin cloth and a friend helped me out with leftover fur she had lying around. I cut them down, then realised I wouldn’t be able to hot glue the fur onto a stretchy fabric so easily. My friend suggested stuffing a pillow or two in a plastic bag, then into the leggings to make them slightly smaller than my body. Then pinning the pillow to the waistband. Apparently making them a little too small would be better than too big. Even after gluing, there’d be some stretch to the leggings. If I went too big, they’d be loose and fall off. I still haven’t done it ’cause I’m afraid I’ll cut/glue it wrong and everything will be fucked forever. I’ll get there.

I thought the shirt would be easy. My answer was to pretty much just make stripes of duct tape and stick them to the tank top. Turns out a) duct tape doesn’t stick amazingly well to a shirt and b) it’s impossible to keep the shape and remove the garment. So now I’m painting the shirt. My friend once again helpfully chimed in. I could get fabric medium and mix it with the cheap paint I already had to have soft drying paint that wouldn’t crack. I could just draw the lines… which I still have to do. It’s not super simple to get straight lines, so I’m putting card underneath the tank top to keep it taught, then drawing my lines on. I’m just gonna draw on the metal shoulder brace thing, because I can’t be bothered making anything else. My fear is it’s gonna take an age for one side to dry and I’ll run out of days before Saturday night. In fact, the longer I spend writing, the less time I have. Maybe I should be doing that now instead of merely writing about it.

Ugh, do you think I can grow a beard in four days? It’d really help.

If you still read this, hi. See you in a few days

My parents are arriving in three days. It’s weird.

To be clear, it’s not weird in an unexpected kind of woah, how did these two aged humans manage to navigate hemispheres through sheer force of will and arrive in Toronto of all places? weirdness. It’s not weird that, post retirement, they’d want to take a holiday. It’s not even weird that they’d be interested in visiting their one child that has yet to procreate and give parents the one currency they desire over all: grandchildren and lineage extension. Hell, I think by now they like me, or at least they’ve gotten over the ludicrous sums it cost to raise what was once barely more then a sentient house plant. So it’s not THAT weird.

But it’s weird.

It’s weird because, for the first time in my life, my parents are gonna be under my roof. That’s weird, right? These people stopped me from dying thousands of times. They’d tuck me into bed and wash my little baby body. They fed me and instilled me with values like manners are important and people can love whoever they love irrespective of gender and that’s not weird. They created and enforced boundaries to help me become an adult with some scant clue about navigating a world that only cares about what you can do for it. Yet they’re gonna be under my roof, where my rules apply? Yeah, good fucking luck pulling rank, buddy. Not that I know any reason why I would. It’s not like we really have house rules, but if I ever felt like I needed to? Geez, I dunno.

I love my parents and by now I’m pretty sure I know then decently well. But what if I don’t know my parents, y’know? I’m pretty sure they’re reasonably socially liberal, but what if there are friction points? What if we’re so far entrenched in different bubbles of community that our views have tectonic instability? Will I have to spell out what privilege is? Or relate things that just aren’t acceptable now? Concepts of non gender binary or anything? There’s no way they’d know, right? Which doesn’t speak to ignorance on their part, but that things have drastically changed over time and it’s hard to care about that stuff as you age. I know, I care less about general whatnot than I did at age 20. Why should they give a shit post retirement? Or will I just swallow my tongue and let stuff slide? Figure if they were gonna change with the times, they would’ve made that decision on their own? They’re intelligent people and it’s not like they don’t grok things, but maybe they have views that *are* egregious in this day and age? I don’t know. The last time I spent physical time around them was around 17 months ago. If I did speak up about something they said would they accept my perspectives? Or brush anything off that the flesh lump they saved from cot death tried to teach them as condescending?

Even if I’m gonna give my parents enough credit, which they very much deserve, what about my extended family? We’re going to a big family gathering in Montreal. What if relatives I’ve never met as an adult start spouting off bullshit middle class white racism? “I was at the local market the other day and I noticed that nearly all the signs are in Korean. I feel like we’re the minority now.” That kind of thing. Also almost verbatim actual words a relative of mine has said. We don’t talk much. After a few glasses of wine I’m not gonna bother trying to hold my tongue. Is a family gathering even a good idea? It’s not high on my list of priorities, that’s for sure.

My girlfriend and I are also hosting a dinner for both our families to meet. THAT is gonna be weird as shit. Very different people. I don’t see any conflict happening, just a bizarre mish mash of assorted values and perspectives. It’s potluck, so at worst we can just talk about the food.

What if they get here and it suddenly makes me realise that yes, they are old? We’re all going to die and that’s a slow process. What if mortality is all that’s running through my mind? We’re having a mean and I’m thinking is this the last time I’m gonna have eggs Benedict with my parents? Or is the drive back from Montreal gonna be our last time in a car together? Who knows. You may call this excessively morbid, but all I know is my parents once picked me up for the last time without knowing it.

Yeah. It’s weird. I’m looking forward to seeing them though. It should be nice.

Swatch the skies, friends

Egads, get it together man!

I’ve been drifting along in a fluffy brain cloud all day. Not sure why. I came back from a Kpop/Jpop dance event last night and got to bed just after 3am. I had seven hours sleep, so it doesn’t make sense to be so thoroughly shot. Still, a combination of coffee, eggs benny brunch and a leisurely walk back home did nothing to appease my mental fogginess. My girlfriend and I napped for around three hours. Still groggy. Expect less than nothing in this entry.

I put out the question of favourite colour combos to friends today. Not sure why, I was just thinking about how much I liked purple and bold yellow together. Think of The Lakers and you’ll get what I’m thinking. I wonder what it is that endears someone towards particular mash ups of shades and hues. Is it instinctual? Based on any number of life experiences? If someone was super into blue and red, could it be because of a lifelong Spider Man or Super Man fandom? Could an affinity for brown and blue come from seeing crispy brown leaves cascading down on a clear Fall day? I’m not sure. Whenever I think of orange and purple together, the image that pops into my head is from a random hacky sack I had as a child. It somehow became my go-to, despite Jaffas packaging and the existence of The Phoenix Suns.

I remember learning about colour wheel theory. It’s easy to remember, because it happened all of five years ago. One of my exes told me about it and my views on visual art, fashion and composition were forever changed. Something something “after the jump”. I had no idea about Accent and Dominant colours. There’s still a nigh infinite amount I don’t know, but at least I now understand that there’s a method and logic behind it all instead of hoping for pure serendipity. To some people it is just instinctive. Occasionally I’ll spot a mix of colours and wonder why it makes me feel uncomfortable. Like a math equation with an incorrect solution. Nature usually seems to get it right somehow. People of Walmart, less so.

A bunch of friends suggested blue and teal as their favourite. My mind bolted to some kind of warm mint chocolate drink. Another mentioned neon green and baby blue and I thought of water wings on a sunny day. My more artistically inclined friends chimed in with more complex arrangements. Me? I have difficulty composing an outfit. Which is why I tend to rotate between simple palette swaps of plain coloured shirts and pants.

Palette swaps describe my initial fascination with colours. They came from fighting games. As a kid I thought it was the coolest to see known quantities in alternate colour schemes. When I first saw Blanka in his yellow/blue incarnation instead of the common green/orange my world inverted. I thought someone at the arcade had put in a cheat code. I always tried to cycle into unusual colour schemes. When I played One Must Fall: 2097 I’d spend a bunch of time on my robot’s colour scheme. It was the fucking best being able to personalise these robots and put my own stamp on them.

It’s neat too knowing that I’m only at the foot of the mountain that is understanding colours. They’ve got so much potential to influence mood. I’m certain that specific colour combos encourage productivity or set tone. Whether it’s in movies, fashion or visual design/iconography, our feelings are deeply influenced by colour. Chatting at a bar a while back, a friend told me that design trends were shifting back towards those of more oppressive times. Bold reds and blacks. Certain fonts and design styles reminiscent of past fascist regimes. Shying away from complex interpretive palettes towards blunt, uncompromising design. A sign of the times.

On that note, I hope we get at least another year of bisexual lighting before it follows the next step in its eventual evolution.

What I’m saying is that I’m here for bisexual lightning.

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?

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.