The site name spells it out explicitly

Having distractions in these trying times is immensely necessary.

A couple of months back a friend introduced me to Watch Cartoons Online. I’m certain it’s incredibly illegal, but it’s also an incredible resource for long forgotten cartoons (as well as current ones if that’s your flavour). If you’re bored and looking for some animated ways to pass your time, here are a handful of suggestions:

  • May I suggest this fantastic workplace comedy about a cantankerous Chosen One fighting demons? Written by Toronto comic Mark Little?
  • Or Samurai Pizza Cats?Likely the most influential piece of media on my burgeoning absurdist sense of humour? Re-written by Canadians who couldn’t work with the abysmal Japanese translations they received? It holds up exceptionally well.
  • Or Gravity Falls? Which people have been telling me to watch for years. Supposedly a fun intersection of family adventure and X-Files style monster of the week?
  • Or Unikitty? A breakneck slapstick absurdist cartoon that I fell in love with from DVing it?
  • Or ProStars? Where Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson and Wayne Gretsky are international superheroes with the power of SPORTS?
  • Or Venture Bros? The most dense and tightly written adult cartoon I’ve seen in my entire life?
  • Or the original TMNT? With no explanation necessary?
  • Or Over the Garden Wall? An ideal 10 episode self contained story that’s a rollercoaster of a watch?
  • Or Harmonquest? Where Dan Harmon and friends play D&D and it’s animated?
  • Or Gargoyles? The Avatar:The Last Airbender of the 90s?
  • Or Denver, The Last Dinosaur? Because the theme song is catchy as fuck?
  • Or Cupcake and Dino? Because even though it’s on Netflix, I just like repping this cute and very funny show?
  • Or Captain N: The Game Master? Because a 90s Nintendo ad disguised as a cartoon probably hasn’t aged well?
  • Or Captain Planet? Because honestly a green mullet is probably all that stands between us and a total climate collapse?
  • Or Batman: The Animated Series? Because you want to cry watching the Mr. Freeze episode?
  • Or Attack of the Killer Tomatoes? Because there was a time where people adapted R rated Z grade horror films into children’s cartoons?
  • Or Toxic Crusaders? For exactly the same reason? His best friend is a goddamn mop?
  • Or Beast Wars? Because I remember it having some pretty satisfying arcs, and it was at a time where we thought CGI animation was super impressive?
  • Or The Tick? Because I’m wagering it probably holds up pretty well?
  • Or The Mask? Because while I’m not certain it holds up, I remember the voice acting talent being something fearsome to behold?
  • Or The Berenstain Bears? Because you’re a conspiracy theorist who wants to prod for loopholes?
  • Or Steven Universe? Because I know a lot of people who love the shit out of it and it’s probably a fantastic show for kids?
  • Or Star Trek: The Animated Series? Because apparently Trek is pretty popular and it’ll probably make a lot of y’all nostalgic?
  • Or Spawn? Because it was made by HBO and I remember it being exponentially better than the terrible film?
  • Or Jackie Chan Adventures? Because I have pretty positive memories of it?
  • Or Garbage Pail Kids? Because I’ve never watched it but I’m CERTAIN it’s fucked up as all hell?
  • And lastly, Earthworm Jim? Because while it probably doesn’t hold up, my childhood self would strangle me with a skipping rope if I didn’t include it?

That should do y’all for the next week. Stay in and THRIVE.

After a while, the Stone Cold Stunner lost its efficacy

What did you do on Y2K?

We had our work Christmas party yesterday, 1999 was the theme. It became a fun and easy conversation starter to ask people the question above. What was Y2K for them? How was their evening? What did they do? I got a whole host of answers back. Some of my old co-workers were literal toddlers, so they had no stories to tell, just stories to make me feel old. Others went to house parties. Someone invited a bunch of friends over to drink and listen to REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” on repeat for the evening. Another wandered into his old high school with mates and drank a mickey. For most it was a massive disappointment. For some, it felt like the dawning of a new age. For me?

I was 12. I had this weird, voracious skin condition. I don’t know what it was, but it grew like a weed and spread like wildfire. I had to rub this lotion all over myself a few times per day. I think it was itchy too, so that was frustrating. It wasn’t infectious, thank Christ, so I could have a friend over. I think my parents took pity on me and let us rent an N64 from the video store (egads, that sentence is a time capsule). My friend and I played Super Smash Bros until late in the evening. I got to drink a can of energy drink, and we went down to the Auckland Viaduct to watch fireworks. They got rained out, and it all felt anticlimactic.

Y2K is seen as a joke now. It’s obvious to see why. We all thought that everything would end because computers wouldn’t know how to count the new year. Or was it some type of virus? The Y2K bug? The banks were gonna crumble and the world would fall into disrepair. Chaos would reign, people would loot, and we’d end up in some post-apocalyptic debacle. I was 12. I didn’t know any better, so I sort of assumed this was all within the realm of possibility. I don’t know that we did much in the way of prep. I think my parents bought a couple of large water jugs or something, but that was it. I got the feeling that for adults, it was mostly laughable. The notion that everything would end because of computers. They’d lived for decades, I’m sure it wasn’t their first foray into widespread nonsense.

I think that’s why, when December 21st 2012 rolled around, we all had a laugh. I made an End of the World playlist with most any apocalyptic song I could find. I think I even threw in “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” since it was in the Armageddon soundtrack. Friends came over to my parents’ place and we looked out over the harbour, drinking. If we were gonna see things end, we had the perfect view.

It’s weird that growing up, we had this background notion that Armageddon was coming. I wonder if that’s why there’s been so much post-apocalyptic material over the past decade. This stuff has a way of worming into your subconscious. I mean, of course a bunch of tent pole movies and shows catapulted the idea into the public consciousness. The Walking Dead, Fury Road, 28 Days Later. They all captured this zeitgeist of catastrophe. Arguably now, the world is in worse shape than it was ten years ago. Climate change and incredible wealth inequalities are on the tips of our tongues. Brash demagogues have soared into positions of influence and power. We’ve all lost count of how many mass shootings America has had in the past year.

Holy shit. I just went down a wiki rabbit hole. There have been 370 mass shootings in America in 2019 (as of today). That’s 1.22 mass shootings per day. It’s gotten to the point where we just tune them out. I looked at this number and thought oh well, that’s really sad. But that’s how things have always been there. I checked 2018, 321 mass shootings. Yep. I guess it’s always been that way in the USA. IT HAS NOT ALWAYS BEEN THAT WAY. In 2009 there were six. In 2008 there were five. In 2007 there were five. In 2006 there were four. In 2005 there were three. In 2004 there were three. In 2003 there were three. In 2002 there were three. In 2001 there were two. In 2000 there were three. Three hundred and seventy mass shootings is NOT NORMAL. How have we gotten to a point where we’ve normalised this figure in our heads? I can’t be the only one.

That is stone cold sobering. E fucking Gads.

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.

More like vent-y two, amirite?

There’s a trend happening on social media at the moment, where people will post side by side photos of themselves from 2009 and 2019.

I thought I’d give it a try.

Since navel gazing is one my my favourite hobbies, I thought I’d cast my brain back a decade. Who was I? Where was I at in life? What guided me?

In 2009 I was living and working in Rotorua. After lingering in Auckland post radio internship, I got sent off to “the regions” to level up. I brought all my worldly possessions, a lack of worldly knowledge and an shit ton of entitlement. I was an Aucklander, from the Big City, why was I tarrying with these common folk in a dead arse tourist town? Those weren’t my words verbatim, but they probably weren’t far off. I thought I knew everything. I mean, I was 22, of course I did. It was my first time moving out of town, and I had more than my fair share of baggage. I saw it as a temporary displacement. I needed to earn my stripes, do some good work and get back to where I knew I belonged. Really what I needed was a dose of growing the fuck up, but you’ve seen the picture. Don’t worry, I got there.

The whole experience shook me to my core. I was so used to things just happening for me. I was smart and things came easily. I’d enjoyed school and university, and managed to get through both without too much struggle. It’s not that I didn’t work hard, it’s that I saw myself as constantly deserving of success. It made sense with the way things had gone. I had this innate feeling that I was gonna do well, and evidence hadn’t presented otherwise. I’d hit a bump post university where I was stuck working my government call centre job full time for five months. I naively thought that was rock bottom, then a scholarship came my way and I got catapulted to a position of privilege. I worked hard, people in the industry with Names started to know who I was and what I did. In my head, it was just a matter of time.

Maybe it was, but I was 22. My perception of time was very different than it is at 32. I expected I’d be down in Rotorua for maybe six months, a year tops. I’d be back in the big leagues before I knew it. That was where I was meant to be. At 22 I’d drive back from Rotorua to Auckland maybe once a week. Sometimes more, depending if there was a concert mid-week. Two and a half hours’ drive, I’d sometimes do it closer to two. At the time I’d memorised the entire trip, and could visually recall every single intersection in my brain. At 22 I devoured content voraciously. Every week I’d download several albums and listen through them. It was of the utmost important that I was at the forefront of indie music developments. It was imperative that I had an opinion, because I was 22. I had an opinion on everything. I was always online (before that was the norm), and most of my nights in Rotorua were spent drunk in front of the internet.

At 22 I loved drinking. It was at the uncomfortable point between an interest and a hobby. I drank desperately. Desperate to escape fears that maybe I wasn’t going somewhere. I was “stuck” in a small town and the only friend I’d made there was off 4chan. I had no luck with women, and I was at the stage of life where I thought that defined me. I was incredibly insecure, and I have no doubt that I carried the stink of it. I felt lonely, isolated, and- once again- entitled. I didn’t want to be a Nice Guy, so I was an edgelord instead. It’s the kind of mind frame that’s a roadmap to incel culture. At my core, I just wanted to be wanted. But I looked past my lack of real confidence and blamed external sources. I had so much potential, and somewhere in there I had the potential to become a real piece of shit. Like so much of my life, I was lucky to be surrounded by people who thought when I didn’t, and weren’t afraid to speak up. I had friends who’d known me since age 1, and they course corrected where I wouldn’t.

At 22 I clearly thought I was the protagonist, years before realising we’re all here to help each other. I was deserving of far less than I had, and I wanted so much more. At 32, I’ve earned the lines in my face. I’ve started to realise what’s important in life, and what’s fine to let go of. Some might say I got bailed out again by stumbling into a job I love, and that’d be fair. The difference a decade makes is that I’m now humbled, not emboldened. I’m no longer lonely or isolated. I’ve found so many connections that I deeply treasure. I look for opportunities to help, rather than take. I’m thankful rather than expectant. I love where I’ve ended up, instead of feeling inadequate for not being somewhere else. It took ten years, but those were ten years well spent.

Egads though, I miss having 22 year old joints.

Today was the day I became a man. My K Bar Mitzvah, if you will

I’d like to take a minute or 30 to talk about New Zealand snacks.

I caught myself in a rabbit hole last night, getting sucked into the myriad snack foods that defined my childhood. There were so many. NZ snacks are pretty adventurous, especially in comparison to those I find here in Canada. I don’t know, Kiwis really push the boundaries when it comes to flavour and texture. Don’t just take my word for it, read this sublime piece of NZ journalism (please do, it’s a fantastic piece and Madeline Chapman is a talented, hilarious writer) detailing the many many types of chips that line our supermarket shelves.

I feel like it’s important to mention NZ’s corn based snacks. Perhaps not because they’re the most hard baked part of our national moreish consciousness, but because I liked them a lot. Burger Rings. If that name means nothing to you, you’re likely sane. Burger Rings occupied a similar position as Funyuns and/or Bugles. They were tactile, and fancy as shit. As a kid, your fingers could be doused in cheeto-esque dust, as you displayed your abundant wealth for all to see. Looking down on all the playground plebs with their chicken chip bullshit. When they called them “rings”, they did not stutter. They were the perfect size, though presumably as an adult they’d fit as far as my nails. And the taste? Ostensibly “burger”, whatever that means. They had abundant tang with a sumptuous umami flavour. An excellent snack option.

There also were a bunch of corn/cheese options I fucking loved. Biguns. BIGUNS. The same kind of jewellery based shenanigans as Burger Rings, but with added CHONK. Imagine a cheese ball that could envelop your finger. That’s the magnitude of what you were dealing with. Dense but puffy corn resplendent with cheese dust. Packed right through with flavour. I fucking loved Biguns, and Cheezels, their more economical but less outrageous cousins. Oh, not to forget the bacon based Rashuns. Those were some DENSE chips. Goddamn Bluebird monopolised the 90s savoury snack market.

Truthfully, I was never much of a savoury snacker. I’m a sweet boy at heart. When it comes to lollies (the Kiwi word for “candy”), my heart was abundant. I never got much into Snifters, though as an adult I’d probably fall right in love. Snifters. A candy shell, chocolate layer, and chewy mint candy centre. K Bars were hard, chewable candy concoctions. They clung to your teeth, lest you forget that you’d just ingested pure sugar. They’d last for ages, a marvel considering they were dirt cheap. Jafas are the quintessential Kiwi movie candy, as far as I know. Not least because they became slang as nationwide disdain for Aucklanders (Just Another Fucking Aucklander). They had an orange candy shell and dark chocolate centre. Think a bite sized crunchy Terry’s chocolate orange.

I think it’s time we talk about the elephant in the room. Or rather, the fucking menace in the movie theatre. Stay with me. Tangy Fruits. Tangy Fruits were iconic for several reasons. They came in substantial little pottles, which were practically only available at movie theatres. They were dense but chewable, colourful fruit lollies. They were, much like K Bars, pure sugar. Now. I don’t think you can understand from that picture just how many there were in a pottle. There were too many, not just for a child, but straight up an unfathomable quantity of sweetness. Kids would get them for the movies and inevitably eat too many. Sugar crash, sickness, raging energy. Whatever it was, they made films damn near unwatchable. Not only would kids up the back do Tangy Fruit races down the aisles, but in the last third of the film, things would get batshit.

See, there was some combination of the lolly’s density and the big plastic pottle that gave it a loud and specific resonance when shook. Agitated and energetic kids would shake these containers so fucking hard, that it’d get difficult to follow the movie. Just a bunch of little fucking wildlings shaking these damn things around like the thunder of wardrums. Little shits everywhere disturbing the peace, with no regard for narrative structure. To be fair, if you had that much artificial energy coursing through your young veins in an enclosed space, what would you do? It’s a marvel we didn’t tear up the upholstery. I so dearly want some tangy fruits right now, always and forever, but nothing good lasts that long. Much like most great Kiwi candy, they’ve been discontinued and only live on in my deepest fantasies.

R.I.P. My childhood.

It’s finally Summer. Why don’t you slide?

It’s easy to forget simple pleasures.

I went swimming yesterday. I’m not talking arduous lap swimming, I’m talking splashing around in a community pool. It was awesome. The day was sunny, we had a bunch of friends there. Kids were playing all kinds of games, throwing balls, some form of tag, squirting each other with water guns. It was a fun, idyllic Sunday afternoon. I got there, found my mates and almost immediately was ushered off. “Dude, the slide is closing in two minutes. You gotta get on it.” My instant brain reaction was who the fuck cares? I’m an adult. Then I pulled my brain out of my arse and thought wait, why would being an adult make slides less fun? You know what? IT DOESN’T. Water slides confirmed still neato as an adult. I got in line just before it closed. An excited, husky kid behind me was thrilled to have gotten in before close. He was breathing heavily, having just run there, and it immediately reminded me of myself at that age. Endless enthusiasm. especially after the lifeguard stood at the bottom of the ladder behind us, telling people sorry, but these folks are the last for today. The slide was great. I crossed my arms across my chest coffin style, and whipped on down, pushed by rushing water. It really was a blast, and I figure it’d be silly of me not to take a day trip to a big water park over the summer.

My girlfriend and I got to be kids again. We went on the diving board and tried a bunch of dives. I’d never been one to do head/handfirst dives as a kid, so as an adult I gave it a go. It’s funny, knowing that I now have an adult body and greater understanding of movement, I still felt that tiny stab of fear standing on that board. What if I faceplanted? Or fell on my back? What if I slipped and hurt myself on the diving board? I know I used to be able to do front flips. Was it worth trying one? Or was that just a path to pain? I skipped the flips, but I did try a couple of traditional dives. I did some bombs (or what people here call “cannonballs”). I jumped really high and landed feet first, attempting to touch the bottom. The pool was 3.6m deep, far deeper than I’d expected. I touched the bottom, then pushed myself off, breaking through the surface of the water effortlessly. My body experienced all these familiar but long forgotten sensations. I had water burning through my nostrils. My ears popped underwater, then had trace amounts of water stuck in them. Not remotely pleasant sensations, but extremely nostalgic ones.

We played around, just being goofs. We got to do “horsey rides” and carry each other around. We dipped one another, we picked each other up. Basically the kind of shit you’d do to entertain a toddler. Y’know what? As an adult it was legitimately fun. I used to love being thrown around and picked up as a kid. Because of my large adult body, it’s rare that anyone can do that with me anymore. The weightlessness of water enabled a whole host of activities, even my girlfriend being able to legit pick me up. What a totally unexpected thrill, that was all too simple to access. I mean, I was always a water baby. Back home in NZ, it was everpresent. We spent so many summers in pools, going to the Glenfield Community Centre to ride their hydroslides. Waiwera Hot Pools was pretty far off, but they had so many great slides. The Point Erin Pools was another hot spot. My best friend and I would go there with my grandparents during the weekends. I rarely realise how important spending time in water is for me until I’m in it.

But mostly, waterslides still kick arse.

1999 called. It just wants to say it’s still thinking of you

I never watched Justice League, but if you don’t think the credits should’ve rolled with “Superman” from the Tony Hawk soundtrack, you’re flagrantly incorrect. For all I know, they do, which just means it should’ve played twice. I guess I’ll never know.

I still can’t understand how those Tony Hawk games were so popular. I’m not implying that they weren’t awesome. I bought the first one on PSX. I gave that game 50+ hours of my life. I just don’t know why. Back in the 2000s, skating captured the zeitgeist in an all encompassing capacity. Like the 70s reborn, it was pop punk bands and wide, cushioned, slacker footwear all the way down. Jackass thrived. Blink 182 united listeners across genre spectrums until that weird Tom DeLonge verse from “Miss You” made us give up the ghost. Then he got mixed up in alien conspiracies, which should’ve only made him more endearing. It didn’t. He isn’t. I’m saying all this as a non-skater. I don’t know that I so much as stepped onto a board, but I had friends who did. It’s like when yo yos got cool in the 90s again. I never had one, but it seemed like something I should be enjoying. And what are skateboards if not cordless yo yos bound by trucks to a deck? Everything’s connected, so I guess that entirely explains the colossal popularity of Tony Hawk (before they adopted the awkwardly juxtaposed acronym THUG). Or maybe they were just fun games. Perhaps they even set the stage for sandbox games to emerge. Would you have Batman: Arkham City without Rune Glifberg’s Christ Air? Geoff Rowley did Dark Slide for our sins.

On some level, Tony Hawk gave rise to a kind of grounded fantasy. As far as game settings/scenarios, it was mundane. You were skating in urban environments. Whether in the city, a big airplane hanger, or a school, it’s not like you were grinding rails in Narnia. But then you had a secret alien in Roswell. You could paint entire buildings by doing tricks off them. You made physics your bitch at every turn. Glass windows shattered with your arrival. Glass ceilings, maybe less so. Though at least you got to play as Elissa Steamer. And Officer Dick proved that cops could bust a mean kickflip. Even within these limited stages, you felt free to explore your own whims, instead of following a prescribed course. Subsequent games got steadily more insane. Manuals meant you could chain up ludicrous combos and stack multipliers. They had something like eight games, making Tony Hawk a household name/brand. Funny, he wasn’t even the best character in his own game.

Look, I’m mired in nostalgia here, slipping into the past. I can barely think about writing when I’m mentally doing ollies in 1999. It’s time to let the credits roll on this entry. HIT IT BOYS!

So here I am, growing older all the time,
Looking older all the time,
Feeling younger in my mind.

I’m a lot like you were

For some reason I woke up with this video playing in my head on loop.

For context, a bunch of my friends and I thought this was the funniest thing in the world circa 2004. Like “Star Wars Kid” before him, Gellieman was a figure of ridicule, but also strangely some respect? Of course he was a figure of mockery, but like us he too was a teenager. I think on some level we understood that we all were not far off creating something that embarassing. We had that kind of potential. I mean, we were drama geeks. Have you seen Glee? If you substituted the singing for “acting out” and the wheelchair for stunted emotional maturity, that was basically us.

When I think about it more, it was pretty my best friend leading the charge with the “Aicha” video. Thing is, he always posessed this bizarrely infectious enthusiasm. If he got on a tear about something, nine times out of ten, everyone would be on that train whether they liked it or not. So, “Aicha”. We watched it enough times to learn it by heart. We knew the song, we knew the dance, we knew the very specific inflections with which Gellieman said every single line. We’d break out into spontaneous performances from time to time, whether this was in the middle of class or not. It all reached its fever pitch when, for shits and giggles, we created a parody boy band group and performed the song at the school talent show. In retrospect, I’m sure most people had no fucking idea what was going on, but we did it all with such conviction that I think they just rolled with it. We were all Known Individuals by that point.

Look, I could write novels about my best friend. We don’t talk much now, because we live half a world away. Doesn’t mean I don’t still adore the guy. We have one of the most concrete relationships in my life, in that it never needs watering and will always be there. I don’t know that we could have awkward pauses, there’s just too much history. We’ve known each other since we were infants, yet I think fairly often back to high school and his nigh frightening creativity. Saying he was prolific would be a dramatic understatement. He’d just get whipped up into these personal frenzies and create, seemingly apropos of nothing. We’d meet at the same corner to walk to school and weirdly often he’d be like “oh by the way, here’s a script I wrote last night” and hand me a 20 minute performance on paper. Maybe it’d was a faux soap opera script that included a character for everyone in the drama department, totally nailing all our personal in-jokes and isms. Or perhaps it was an ersatz Waiting for Godot, riffing on the fall of communism. It was always something.

Y’know, one time the Prime Minister was visiting our school. What did he do? He went home and painted a red & purple picture of New Zealand’s topography and gave it to her. Burned into my brain is a photo of the two of them standing together, him with a goofy grin, her more than mildly disconcerted. I’m 98% sure she thought he was a special needs student and treated him accordingly. I get it, he was a weird dude (still is) and was entirely unpredictable (still is).

I think one of my many many favourite stories about him was when we did a student directed performance of King Lear themed around the Stock Market Crash of 1929. He auditioned, but ultimately didn’t get cast as a speaking part. I think his part was “Old Man” or something of the like. Thing is, he was always around and constantly goofing off. We were all a pretty tight crew and he was good friends with the director. As the production advanced, he was Just Always Around, riffing and improvising. The more he was around, the more his character ended up being added to scenes. By performance time, Old Man was in a curious number of scenes. Not only that, he had lines. Plural. Was Old Man a big character in the original play? Did it matter? Not when he was around. When I think about it, whenever he was around, it felt like you were in some kind of scene. He made it that way.

I wonder how much it costs to get to Finland…

Clearly they should have employed a less talented cast

I read this article and thought it was pretty interesting.

The premise, if you’re too lazy to click, is that TV shows no longer “end”. Long dead shows now have the potential for a new incarnation, whether continuation or reimagining. If Murphy Brown can return in 2018, then every series is a potential Dr Who, regenerating with a new cast, but the same basic character. I’m not here to pass judgement (for once?), I just find the concept fascinating. Why? Well, mostly because I lacked anything else good to write about today.

If you know me well enough, I’m sure you’d immediately pick me as a “fuck reboots” kind of bloke. You’re not far off. Did we need another Robocop? Did we need another Robin Hood? Did we need another Full House? Did we need another Ocean’s 11? Did we need another Ghostbusters? Did we need another A Star Is Born? Did we need another Every Single Disney Film But In Live Action? I could keep doing that for the rest of the entry, but I think the point is well-tread. Originality in cinema feels like a relic of the past. A while back someone used the words “pre-sold” and it made everything click. Hollywood has been making progressively less money as the years have rolled on. Is it piracy? The decreasing spectacle of the big screen? Who knows? All I know is that there have been a shit ton of unnecessary remakes in the past ten years. Franchise building is a huge part of the cinema experience. There are the aforementioned Disney live action films, or the plethora of Marvel spin offs and projects. Legendary has some kind of big monster movie (Godzilla 2014, Kong: Skull Island, etc) thing going on. Pre-sold is what it says, it’s an easy way to ensure a certain segment of the audience. If it’s nostalgic or plays on a beloved property, a number of seats are basically sold irrespective of the film’s objective quality.

Do I think this is lazy bullshit? Yes. Do I think efforts would be better spent on supporting original IP like Get Out or Sorry to Bother You? Of course I do, but I’m not naiive. Hollywood is scared to invest in projects that may not make a return. It’s too much of a risk. Mid-Budget movies (this article mentions them briefly) don’t happen anymore. It’s Go Big or Go To Netflix. I’m also not dumb enough to think that only my tastes matter. You know what? A lot of people were stoked to see Beauty and the Beast rebooted for the big screen and there’s no reason I’d want to take that away from them. There’s nothing wrong with watching entertainment for entertainment’s sake, that’s kind of the point. The relentless onslaught of remakes and reboots doesn’t preclude me from getting the stories I want, so it’s not like there’s an issue there. I just won’t watch them. There’s exponentially more than enough content to go around.

I also think it’s interesting that the reliance on pre-sold IP can actually help buff out mythos’ that were otherwise undeveloped. Castlevania on Netflix is a good example. It was a video game with an unremarkable narrative. The first season isn’t great, but the second season really does develop a fun arc and characters that justify the setting. It’s an original plot that’s been birthed from one that was otherwise super bland. Similarly, I’ve heard that the new Voltron series is clever and engaging for kids, with excellent voice acting. While I’d usually balk at the idea of resurrecting an old IP instead of making something new, why shouldn’t our kids get to understand why we used to love this old shit? I’m happy to fence sit on this notion. I don’t have any answers.

Like I said earlier, I can always watch my own stuff, even if I consider it underappreciated. Part of me wishes it got more attention purely because it deserves it. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is still not a household name. Neither are Stephen Falk, Noah Hawley or Yorgos Lanthimos. Would I adore this stuff as much if it was watercooler conversation? I flat out don’t know. I do think it’d make watercooler conversation more gripping, at least.

I guess if I’m boiling it down, what guts me the most about this whole scenario is that most people don’t know what they’re missing out on and they don’t care. People are already happy with what they have. As far as they’re concerned, they’re getting what they want. There’s a new Star Wars film every year, so why worry about those universes they never explore? If it was good enough for them to hear about, they would.

I guess what I’m saying is, when’s the Community movie being released? We had six seasons.

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?