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.

Advertisements

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?

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.