In which I realize I may be more of a millennial than I previously thought I was

I’d been coming down from the high that was Stranger Things 2, a gentle re-exploration of 80’s nostalgia and wanted to keep the buzz going. The movie in my head was Pretty in Pink, but I’d momentarily blanked and picked Sixteen Candles instead. It didn’t really matter; it unwittingly tied into my recent tiny spate of self-exploration vis-a-vis my upcoming birthday.

Of course I knew of Sixteen Candles. Who could miss that delightful visual of an awkward young girl in a dress as pink and fluffy as a cloud of cotton candy sitting across a handsome young man, their faces lit by the candles on a birthday cake? I knew it was a coming of age story, an honest exploration of what it means to grow up, a seminal movie that changed the face of American cinema.

It’s an awful movie. It’s racist, it’s demeaning, and, considering the climate of today’s sexual sensitivity, downright predatory.

“There’s your Chinaman.”

“I could violate her ten different ways if I wanted to.”

Everything the lone Asian guy in the movie says is punctuated by a gong. The family calls their eldest daughter’s fiancee an epithet for an Eastern European immigrant. The Jock practically gives away his drunken girlfriend.

The Geek is the worst. I’m not quite sure if he’s intended to be the endearing breakout star in this film, but all I feel when I see him is disgust. He comes on to our heroine on the bus, all bluster and fake swagger, sidling next to her on the seat, trapping her next to the window, obviously trying to smell her like some dog in heat. He follows her around incessantly, accosting her at the dance, getting close to her again when she clearly wants to be alone, attempts to kiss her not once, but twice, the second attempt right on the heels of her telling him to stop. It ends with him asking her for her panties so he doesn’t look like a loser to his friends. I was three when Sixteen Candles came out. Apparently it wasn’t just the hairstyles and the fashion that were heinous, social mores were, too. If this was acceptable behaviour in the 80’s, then I’m glad most of that decade was a blur to me.

I grew up with teen movies. The nineties were positively lousy with them. Clueless. The American Pie Trilogy. Cruel Intentions. She’s All That. Bring it On. Ten Things I Hate About You (still my personal favourite after all these years). There was such a glut, they made the criminally underrated Not Another Teen Movie. Female leads were just as spunky as redheaded Samantha Baker, but none of them were willing to take as much shit as she did. Male leads were just as handsome as Jake Ryan, but at least knew enough not to be Bill Cosby. They were by no means perfect, still a smidge creepy and maybe not as inclusive, but certainly a hop, skip and a leap ahead of Sixteen Candles.

It could be the current barrage of rapists and sexists being outed these days and the heated back-and-forth about racism and cultural sensitivity which I often think borders on the edge of hysteria, but who uses “Chinaman” anymore? Sweet Jesus. Even with the understanding that things were really quite different back in the day, it was still an exercise in clutching my non-existent pearls, and I don’t clutch my non-existent pearls very often. So thanks, Sixteen Candles. I’ve always felt more of a kinship with Gen X than I have the millennial generation, but I’ve never felt a closer link with millennials than I did while watching you.


Thor:Ragnarok is totally, madly, wonderfully skux

There are directors with a signature so unique, there is no mistaking their work for anyone else’s. Martin Scorsese and gravitas. Steven Spielberg and childlike wonder. Christopher Nolan and mindtrips, Wes Anderson and whimsy. Quentin Tarantino and dialogue, Tim Burton and oddities, Joss Whedon and wit… Taika Waititi and sheer unbridled irreverence?

It’s official. Taika Waititi takes nothing seriously, not even Asgard. And it works.

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NaNoWriNo, or a litany of excuses on why I’m chickening out this early in the game

November is it, I told myself. National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo.

I would sit down and pound out 50K words in thirty days. I would be in a lovely online community of writers all working toward the same goal, I would finally finish something I’ve been working on for what feels like ages. So why am I wasting my time decidedly not doing what I told myself I should be doing?

I’m a pantser.

In industry parlance, a pantser is someone who writes by the seat of their pants, writes when it becomes impossible not to, when the scenarios and the words come out of nowhere and need to break free. That’s when pantsers sit at the keyboard, make that  cursor move and the blank page fill. It’s akin to running to the bathroom and unloading whatever is in my gut. When I feel that familiar twist in my brain, when that bolt of lightning hits, everything seems as clear as day. The words knit themselves together  and it’s all I can do to capture them and write them down before they’re gone. Because that’s the underside to being a pantser. That wonderful fugue doesn’t last. It eventually dissipates, like mist clearing on a sunny day. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. There’s no specific trigger, which is why my stuff is sporadic and very often makes no sense.

Forcing the fugue is difficult, and again akin to sitting on the pot and waiting for things to come out. I’ve done it a few times. Sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn’t. It’s painful and frustrating, and what comes out is almost always unsatisfying.

It isn’t that I don’t know where I’m going when it comes to telling a story,  but plotters do much better when it comes to finishing a work. They have an outline, they come in prepared, they follow their own structure and ultimately come out with a finished work. I’ve tried to make myself one, but I just can’t seem to do it. The rigidity of it gets too tedious for me, although I really should find a balance between enjoying the journey and reaching the destination.

I’m a compulsive self-editor.

This is not a good thing, as many writers will tell you. The best way to write is to ignore the impulse to edit as you go, to  keep going until you run out of breath, to shoot now and ask questions later. Editing is a thing that should be done when everything is over, and I am aware of this as I write, but the urge to tweak the phrasing here and a comma there is almost impossible to ignore. So I get caught in an infinity loop of going over and over paragraphs, sweeping for issues until I lose my original train of thought. (I’m doing it right now!)

I’m superstitious.

I have a thing about pre-empting things. It may not make sense to most, but I believe if I’m working towards something, have a goal that I intend to reach or a project I want to come out with, talking about it will jinx it. It sounds ridiculous as I write it, but I just can’t seem to shake that feeling. It’s the way I work, which is why I tend to announce things once they’re nearing completion or are already achieved.

One of the first requirements of NaNoWrimo is announcing your novel, giving it a working title and a brief synopsis. Sure, no one is going to read it, and no one gives a shit, but I do. I broke the no jinx rule with one project I’m working on – talked about it, shared it, and it’s stagnated. I feel I talked about it too much and blame myself for oversharing. Officially announcing on NaNoWriMo not only breaks my no-jinx rule, it ups the pressure of actually finishing something I’m not sure I can even finish.

Not even started, and I’m already stumped.

I work better alone.

I chase Le Hubs out of my work space (which happens to be the bedroom) because I can’t write if he’s around. Remember Invisible Boy, the kid who becomes invisible as long as no one is watching? That’s me. I can’t write if someone I know is in the same room.

I’ve written in the library and this particularly lovely coffee shop along Broadview which sort of worked, because I was surrounded by strangers doing their own thing, but I find the best places to write are the ones where I am surrounded by absolutely no one. Writing is like tennis – a solitary experience. It’s just you and your keyboard and the untapped reserves of your own imagination, your opponent a blank page that needs to be filled.

NaNoWriMo is filled with a community of passionate writers who want to fulfill the same goal. It’s nice to be with people of the same bent, but sometimes knowing about the progress they make frustrates me. It makes me ask myself why I’m not making the same progress, why my own word count isn’t as high, why I’m not closer to the end of my work.

It makes me feel petty and small (not something I enjoy being) and it’s the opposite of what the community is intended to be, which is uplifting and encouraging. I know. I make myself sound sad, anti-social and maybe even borderline mad. Yes, sometimes I am all of those. Still, I have no problems sharing once it’s done, but until then I think it’s best I keep to myself.

Look at that, a thousand words and none of them on a NaNoWriMo project. I still really want to do it. A part of me wants to use this month to just flush out everything inside, like a mental colon cleanse. I’d  come out on the other side refreshed and ready to edit. Or I won’t, and I’ll spend the next few months beating my head on the wall out of frustration. I guess time will tell.


Featured Image from Bat Fan Diaries

Invite Them In

Awesome things come out of New Zealand. Milk. Corned beef. The haka. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Lorde’s debut album. And as if NZ wasn’t already blessed enough, it also has Taika Waititi, of What We Do in the Shadows, the insane romp of a vampire movie about  fanged roommates just trying to get along in the age of the internet.

I’ve  slowly been building up to Thor: Ragnarok by getting familiar with its director’s body of work. So far I’ve seen Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Happy Birthday, Ricky Baker!) and What We Do in the Shadows. Both have deceptively simple premises, relatively low budgets and the wickedest sense of humour.  If Taika Waititi has brought even half of his sense of the ridiculous to Thor Ragnarok, then I have high hopes for that movie, because I have decided that What We Do in the Shadows is now officially one of my favourite films.

Sharing space with someone else comes with a lot of baggage – it doesn’t just get more complicated the more people share the same home, it gets multiplied tenfold by the kind of people they are. And if you’re a vampire, who lives with other vampires, each of whom inhabits a particular Dracula stereotype… well. That’s what What We Do in the Shadows is all about.

I enjoyed this more than Wilderpeople because Waititi doesn’t just direct. He plays a major role as Viago, a prissy vampire fussbudget who wants his flatmates to lay down newspapers and towels if they’re going to eat someone on his nice clean couch.

Undone dishes. Orgies. Virgins. Sunlight. Partying with ghouls and witches. Google. Skype. Werewolves, not Swearwolves. Vampire bat fights. Victims. Blood. A group of perennial man-children running around Wellington just trying to live their best lives. It’s all very matter-of-fact from beginning to end, and the sheer normalcy in the face of so much absurdity is what makes this movie imminently watchable.

I’ve seen what Waititi can do on a limited budget and an unlimited imagination. I wonder what he’ll do on a Marvel budget, and if he’ll make another cameo, the way he did as a particularly strange priest in Wilderpeople. I hope he does. And I hope it’ll be a hoot.

Random YouTube K-hole: Halloween Edition

It’s Halloween, and you know what that means. Everyone’s going to be running around in skimpy costumes pretending they’re not dying from exposure because it’s Canada and the temperature just hit the ultra low Cs. Sexy witch for the win! Yay!

There’s no shortage of macabre music videos that will leave you twisted for days – all the gore and cockroaches you could want! But I’m a pop tart and will forever be one, and suddenly posting something from Nine Inch Nails doesn’t quite feel authentic. Ha! Authentic. Like anyone would know. Or care. But anyway.

I wanted to revisit videos that are perfect for Halloween – whether or not they were intended to be – but are still sweet enough to avoid mental anguish. Without further ado, here are three of them (plus an extra one thrown in at the end because I’m nice like that!).

Daft Punk, Around the World

A Halloween party for people on a modest budget and a lot of imagination. It’s got everything. Mummies. Skeletons. Robot people. Synchronized swimmers. Tiny baby heads. All on a constant repeat. It’s hypnotic, weird and could potentially cause nightmares, but that backdrop of lights playing an otherworldly game of Connect Four is fun enough to stop just short of really messing with your head.

Ylvis, The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)

Let’s all dress up as animal mascots and have some bubbly! The closest I’ll ever come to an acid trip, this is what happens if the Hieros Gamos scene from Eyes Wide Shut is re-enacted somewhere in the Scandinavian woods. By hipster furries. On shrooms.

Backstreet Boys, Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)

You didn’t think I’d let this post go without dropping the world’s biggest boyband and a literal monster mash of a video, did you? Backstreet’s Back, and they’ve got it all – werewolves, mummies, vampires, Jekyll & Hyde and even the Phantom of the Opera. Probably the closest in spirit to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, this is a Halloween Dance Dance Revolution.

And finally (more like inevitably)…

Michael Jackson, Thriller

The granddaddy of all music videos and the one that jumpstarted the MTV revolution. Wacko Jacko’s oeuvre wins Best Costume, Best Makeup, Best SFX, Best Zombie Dance Moves, Best in Effort, Best Everything, godamnit because just look at this classic. He even got Vincent Price to voiceover. There’s not a single Halloweenish video ever made that’s ever topped this one, before or since. Bad with a capital B, the song itself matches the video, making it the rightful ruler of the Halloween video empire.

Happy Halloween, everybody!

Night of the Living Undead

I wish I was one of those people who stayed attractive even when fat. Curves in the right places, a tiny face. But nope. We’re talking Judy Ann at her worst. And it sucks.

It sucks when Halloween comes around. On one of the very rare instances when wearing costumes in public is socially acceptable, sometimes it feels like the go-to costume is a variation on a sexy professional. Sexy nurse. Sexy firefighter. Sexy maid. Sexy nun. Sexy zombie. It wouldn’t do to just be professional, it has to be sexy because it isn’t Halloween unless your ass cheeks are hanging out.

Hallow – J.K. Rowling aside – means holy, and the hallow in Halloween has long passed its sell-by date. There’s nothing sacred about running around in stilettos, wearing thigh-high fishnets and a sexy nun costume but hey, we’re only young once. I’m not hating. Between you and me, that Halloween would totally be my Halloween if I weighed at least twenty pounds less and had a waist.  But it isn’t. So I end up looking like this.


I’d decided if I couldn’t have my ass cheeks hanging out, I could at least make a statement, the statement being work sometimes feels like a penal colony so I felt like dressing the part. Which apparently made an impact, because the next year they decided to have a theme, and the theme was…

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