Refugee Sponsorship (and cats, and lego)

July 25, 2020 at 3:01 pm (Daily Awesomeness, general life, With a list)

On the 13th of June (although, as usual in 2020 time, it feels like a million years ago) I switched my rationality off and wrote a big list of stuff I WANT. It ranges from the tragically unattainable (“I want Syria to be okay”) to the obviously psychological (“I want to stop feeling like God is mad at me”) to the shockingly complex (“I want to be a good parent”) to the financial fantasy (“I want a second storey on my house so we can see the mountains”).

A lot of entries are financial fantasy, if I’m honest. (A friend said to me the other day, “You know what your problem is? You’re not rich. I recommend you get rich.”) At the moment our whole household is bent towards replacing our air conditioning system (a really nice—and expensive—system which unfortunately for our finances is necessary for my health). It’s a horribly familiar feeling to be unable to afford medically helpful stuff (like a CPAP machine).

Moving on. Here are some items on the list that are of note:

I want my cats to do their business outside so I never have to deal with it… but at the same time, to be prevented from hunting native birds or animals.

Our yard is narrow (maximum about 3m from the house to the fence) but it wraps around three sides of the house. The main back door leads into a nice area in the corner between two of those sides, where a parent can sit and see the whole yard except for a narrow weed-bound strip that is 1.3m wide next to a windowless wall. We call that bit “the junk area”, “the jungle” (weeds grow over 6 feet there), or “the cat zone” because when the weeds are reduced and there’s bare dirt or mulch, it’s a perfect outside cat toilet.

Zipper likes it, and I’m confident that as Zoom grows bigger she’ll use it too (at the moment she’ll only go outside if there’s a human nearby… or sometimes she’ll follow ZIpper, but not far).

So the first part of the above wish was always relatively simple. The second part, not so much. I’m aware of a product called the ‘Oscillot‘ which basically just attaches to the top of a fence and flips the cat back down to the ground when they try to jump out. It’s simple and brilliant but costs around $50/metre and our yard is long. Then I saw a home-made version of this $700 deluxe cat enclosure:

The thing that inspired me was the very wide holes in the netting. Could we possible hook large pieces of netting between our house and the fence? That would enclose the space without making it too shady or too vulnerable to strong winds (which rip through more solid materials). Since that epiphany we’ve put shadecloth (which we already had) over the cat zone and we’ve mostly dealt with the weeds (and put newspaper underneath to hamper their growth—the shadecloth itself will also make it a less appealing area for weeds). So this dream is looking much more plausible. And we can do it bit by bit, section by section, until it’s done. In theory.

I want a bigger house, so Louisette has more room for her toys and I have more room for my ideas.

Even as a baby, Louisette has always obsessively arranged her favourite toys around her on the floor. This is… not ideal for anyone else. But I recently found out that people with ADD have an odd relationship with object permanence. Yes, technically they know that people and objects still exist when they’re not directly in front of them… but then again, sorta not.

Louisette will often take 6-10 trips from her bedroom to the living room in the morning, bringing out a large number of her toys and arranging them very carefully around her as she watches TV. It helped a LOT to give her an ancient laptop so she can watch TV in her room (and yes, I know that’s terrible parenting). But a few weeks ago we decided to go all-out on supporting her style and we let her have the entire converted garage for herself (sort of… there are still lots of bookshelves in there, and a spare bed). So that’s 6m by 3m. It includes a massive desk (1 metre by 2 metres) which is where the laptop lives AND a-l-l her lego. (One of the few rules I gave her was “No lego on the floor – ever”). So she watches TV and plays with lego (or does art, or plays with her other toys, or whatever). She also has a ‘babies’ area, a ‘Barbies/dollhouse’ area, and a ‘Doc Macstuffins’ area. Plus lots of open shelving.

She is thriving, and she almost never brings toys out to the living room. It’s only been a few weeks, and her room looks incredibly messy at first glance… but it’s arranged and rearranged and played with in very specific and orderly ways. And her lego creations are incredible. It perfectly mixes her inventing ability with her imaginative ability, and lets her both express herself and problem solve at the same time. She’s an 8 year-old lego master.


Of course I ended up with even less room to move/breathe, because I’m the only tidy person in the house (Chris also has ADD, and Tim appreciates tidiness but he’s 6 so there’s only so much self-regulation he’s going to do). Oh well. It’s not like the escape room is operating at the moment anyway, thanks to COVID-19.


I want to know refugees are looked after and welcomed, not just into safety (in Australia) but into living communities.

I want to know I’m making a difference.

I want my ‘good ideas’ realised.

I want to help Indonesian refugee families (but I’m also super shy and awkward).


If you’re one of the three people who regularly follow this blog (I’d say “Hi Mum” but my mum isn’t one of you), you’ll recollect my ‘castle’ idea from here and here. Basically, I wanted to build a big beautiful house (that looks like a castle, with lifts in the square towers for disabled access) in which to live while also providing short-term accommodation for disabled Indonesian refugee families. Because they’d be in ‘my’ house, I would find it (relatively) easy to support them with stuff like social events, English lessons, driving lessons, play dates with my kids, babysitting, some unskilled paid work (eg gardening/cleaning) to fill in gaps while they looked for regular work, and so on.

Well it looks like the core part of the castle idea—which is not the castle, but assisting refugees—might be coming true as early as 2021.

In 2018, The Refugee Council of Australia, Save the Children Australia, Amnesty International Australia, the Welcome to Australia initiative, Rural Australians for Refugees and the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce joined to form the Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative. The entire idea is that non-profit groups of at least 5 people commit to looking after the financial, emotional, physical, and cultural needs of a refugee or refugee family.
That is EXACTLY what I want to do (and given my shaky health, being part of a committed group is clearly a good idea).
Now, obviously looking after the financial needs of an entire family for twelve months is not a simple or cheap commitment. Even ‘just’ raising that kind of money is going to be really difficult. (If the refugees are able to work, and to get that work quickly, great! But that’s by no means a given, especially if they’re disabled and/or have limited English. And the whole world is reeling economically already so it’s not exactly a good time.)
Send me an email at if you’d like to help financially. I’m asking a lot of people for $100 each, and have had only one ‘no’ so far so I’m well on my way to my first thousand.
And I’m limited in my helpfulness because I’m at my best in my own home but it’s unlikely the refugee family will be able to travel easily, especially at first. Which leads me to a smaller but still impossible dream: to find an investor to rent out the house next door to ours. It’s not technically for sale yet but I’ve been talking to the owners about this for a while and they’re likely to put their house on the market in the next 6-12 months. If a friendly investor bought it, perhaps I could negotiate to use it as a refugee house (so the refugees were nice and close to me). Maybe I could even commit to organising ‘bridge’ payments between groups of rent-paying refugees so the investor was literally better off for working with me.
Easy, right? Plausible, maybe? Why not?
(Are YOU interested in helping refugees and making money doing it? Or do you know someone that’s been thinking about buying a property to rent out to people? Email me…
Anyway, so that’s where things are at for me right now. Certain impossibilities are falling neatly into place. Others remain.

And Zoom jumped into the hammock with me (and TJ) the other day, so that was a win.

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After Infinity: The Most Exciting Marvel Stuff To Look Forward To

July 11, 2020 at 6:20 pm (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)

Amazingly, this beautiful MCU juggernaut hasn’t run out of steam.

5. The Black Widow film

Fans have been clamoring for this film for over ten years, and some of us are tired of the whole idea by now. But if the film is good (which seems likely), all our pent-up excitement will return in full. And all the pain of Black Widow’s ignominious death too *sigh*.

4. The Eternals, Shang-Chi, and more diverse heroes

I know very little about these characters, but Marvel now has an extremely well-established history of taking anyone and anything from past comics and making them great. Arg, the wait sucks!

I don’t just want diversity because I’m a fundamentally decent human being, but because we’ve had a LOT of straight white men telling stories, and even the greatest writers are never going to be AS good at telling different stories than people who have different life experiences. That is, after all, why Phase 3 spat out so many unique and brilliant movies after all these years. It was a hint of the diversity to come.

That trailer really didn’t tell us a thing, did it?

You do you, Marvel.

3. More Spider-Man! Yay!

2. More Black Panther! Even more yay!

And hopefully way more Nakia (and everyone else from Wakanda too). I’d love to see Nakia and T’Challa’s romance play out.

1. The TV shows

Lots more hours of our favourite characters? Uh, yes please. I’m not super excited about WandaVision, but I’m always ready for more Loki, and I’m deliriously excited about The Falcon & The Winter Soldier.

I stan Mackie & Stan.

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5 Biggest Writing Challenges for Marvel after the Infinity Saga

July 11, 2020 at 5:06 pm (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)

5. Will people get sick of superheroes?

It has been mentioned elsewhere that the MCU uses a lot of fancy imagery to try to hide the fact that most battles ultimately still come down to punching. The thing about punching is that it’s fun and cathartic and satisfying to watch (punching Nazis especially so) because it’s so simple. I’ve become aware of the inclination towards violent climaxes in my own writing, because the great thing about fiction is that it’s so much simpler than real life—especially when it’s violent. But I’ve been trying to improve my own writing (by which I mean thinking more about non-violent solutions) and it’s possible that the rest of the world will ask more than escapism from its fiction at some point. Maybe even me, as an audience member. Maybe.

4. So much backstory.

Marvel tends to handle this by having everyone forgive everyone and just move on as if nothing happened. Which is actually really sweet in some ways, and it fundamentally works. Each movie just needs to take a few seconds to establish who is good (in this movie) and who is bad (in this movie), and then it can get into the story.

3. Marvel is too powerful (especially Scarlet Witch and Captain Marvel).

It was extremely noticeable in Endgame that Captain Marvel had to be busy “elsewhere in the universe” or all Earth’s problems would be fixed too quickly. This is going to continue to take some tricky writing.

How would I write a story in which one character could fly through space and destroy rockets in seconds, and another character is a regular human? Well, mostly I would try to avoid the situation altogether, because it’s not easy to balance stuff like that. The main strategy Marvel will likely use is to separate people into teams a lot.


2. Where to go after Thanos?

How can you up the stakes after “half the universe”? And how do you make it not be boring if you keep nearly destroying the universe?

Ugh, I just read on twitter that Marvel may bring Thanos back. I really hope that’s not true. He was a mediocre villain, and he’s had all the screen time he’s worth. Plus they already did bring him back, in Endgame, and it’ll ruin the satisfaction of Endgame if it isn’t the final end of Thanos.

Spider-Man: Homecoming brilliantly pulled us WAY back to just one baddie (and a highly local one at that). More of that, please. Because when it’s our local bodega getting trashed, that means a lot more than an entire galaxy blown up somewhere else.

But of course the biggest writing challenge going forward is . . .












1. So. Many. Characters.

It was amazing when they managed to balance six heroes and one main villain way back in Marvel’s Avengers. Let’s consider the fates and futures of all those from the poster above (coloured side first):

Iron Man – dead

Captain America – retired and old; possible cameos

Black Widow – dead but has a movie coming out (set in her past)

Thor – hanging out with the Guardians of the Galaxy; part of their group now I reckon

Professor Hulk – withered arm; possible cameos

Hawkeye – fine but maybe in prison/retired; possible cameos

Captain Marvel – too powerful so they’ll be keeping her mainly in space having her own adventures

Ant-Man – fine; probably getting a third movie and generally being in tentpole movies

Nebula – reformed; probably joining the Guardians of the Galaxy crowd

Okoye – fine; will be in any Black Panther or Wakanda movie

War Machine – fine except for magically-fine (or are they?) legs; possible cameos

Pepper/Rescue – Gwyneth Paltrow is sick of acting so I don’t reckon we’ll see her (or Morgan) again

Rocket – part of Guardians of the Galaxy

King Valkyrie – I hope we’ll see her get a lesbian romance but she may fade out of the main storylines due to Thor being off world

Wong – sidekick to Dr Strange; in danger of death due to being a sidekick of colour

Happy – likely to appear in Spider-Man movies

Now for the black and white side:

King T’Challa – at least two more Black Panther movies; a central character going forwards

Star-Lord – Main character of Guardians of the Galaxy crowd; may have a romance with past Gamora; another movie coming

Gamora- dead, but now there’s past Gamora. As a love interest, she’ll stick around near Star-Lord and probably not die since she did that already

Dr Strange – two more movies so I guess he’s a central character going forwards

Spider-Man- another movie’s coming and he’s wildly popular; he’ll be a central character going forwards; possibly part of a younger generation of heroes. It’ll get tricky in 5-10 years when he’s not a kid any more

Scarlet Witch – shunted out of the main action since she’s too powerful; see her on TV

Vision – dead but past version will be on TV with Scarlet Witch

Fury – still around but mostly as a mentor figure

Loki- dead but past Loki has a TV show

Princess Shuri – attached to anything Black Panther/Wakanda

Groot- with the Guardians

Wasp – with the Ant-Man movies; in danger of death due to being a female sidekick

Falcon/Captain America- he’s Captain America now and I hope we see a lot of him. Definitely in TV

Bucky/ex-Winter Soldier- on TV with Captain America #2 and likely to stay on the small screen

Mantis -Guardians

Drax – Guardians

That’s all the main heroes, so going forward we have:

TV crowd: Scarlet Witch & Vision; Loki; Falcon & Winter Soldier

I reckon they’ll try to keep the TV heroes away from major roles in the movies from now on. Ditto original-and-tired/wounded/old heroes Hawkeye, Captain America, and Hulk.

Guardians crowd: Star-Lord, past Gamora, Nebula, Groot, Rocket, Drax, Mantis, and now Thor (probably temporarily since we’ve already seen so much of him).

Other major heroes: King T’Challa (+ Okoye, Shuri, and hopefully Nakia), Ant-Man (+ the Wasp, and possibly Cassie), Spider-Man (+ Happy), Dr Strange (+ Wong), Captain Marvel (+ hopefully Monica Rambeau and/or Lieutenant Trouble who’s grown up by now).

That’s “only” six, so long as we count groups as one person. Keeping them balanced will be super easy—barely an inconvenience.

Plus of course there are heroes we haven’t met yet—most notably, The Eternals, Shang-Chi, and a rebooted Blade (plus a bunch of Spider-Man stuff).

I have ONE list left to write: the list of what I’m most looking forward to from Marvel in the near future.

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5 Best Romances in the MCU: Infinity Saga

July 11, 2020 at 3:29 pm (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)

I am, sadly, not going to rank all the beautiful gay ships that have blossomed during the MCU’s run thus far. As far as I’m concerned, they’re all perfect and there must surely be enough timelines for all of them.

So let’s talk about official romances that have been established in canon thus far.

5. Pepper and Stark

By far the longest and steadiest (which isn’t saying much) of our romances thus far, this is the golden couple of the Infinity Saga. It’s last on the top five because Stark is terrible and unhealthy in so many ways. It’s in the top five because Pepper is extremely familiar with all his faults and she usually manages to set healthy boundaries. There’s no doubt that Pepper is the reason Stark is as sane as he is, and ultimately able to settle into being a pretty decent husband and father in Endgame. (Note: It is never a woman’s job to fix a man. This is a super dangerous trope that abusers love.)

4. Okoye and M’Baku

These two are settled in their relationship, but still call each other ‘My Love’ with such affection. It’s beautiful. And they love each other, even when their core beliefs conflict. It’s highly notable that they seem to have moved past their strong disagreement (you remember the battle, with the war rhinos?) in Black Panther, and are still together in Endgame.

3. T’Challa and Nakia

They’re broken up in Black Panther, but are still extremely close. I find that beautiful, especially when it becomes clear that their disagreement on Wakandan foreign policy is the cause of their break-up (rather than something petty). I hope they are able to get together now that King T’Challa has decided to open up Wakanda to the world—and I also hope Nakia is never reduced to a mere queen. She deserves her own plot lines. I would 100% watch a movie trilogy that was all about her.

2. Captain America and Peggy

It’s fair enough that they both moved on, but it’s also lovely that they ended up together and lived a good long life as husband and wife. I have lots of questions about what they each did during all those years (World War 2? Hydra? etc) but sometimes logic doesn’t matter.

Honorable Mentions:

*Thor and Jane, since Thor’s respect for Jane makes him a better person. (Jane is already perfect, and it’s great to see that she has her own life apart from his—and she’s handy in a climactic battle too.) I look forward to seeing Jane become Thor.

*Hawkeye and his wife, because they’re obviously doing a fine job raising three kids together, and because keeping his family secret is a very wise move on Hawkeye’s part (and telling Black Widow about his family makes sense too—she’s his best friend, plus it’s nice for hot single co-workers to know you’re not available so no sexual tension builds up).

*Scott Lang and Hope. I think this is mostly based on them working together under high stress rather than anything they actually have in common, but I’ll allow it.

*Peter and Gamora. Peter is a man-child and Gamora is a semi-reformed psychopath, so there’s a rocky road ahead (behind?) but both of them seem to be improved by the relationship.

*Black Widow and Banner. This is quite sweet except for the part where Black Widow describes herself as a “monster” just because she’s unable to have kids. That’s the part where any decent human says, “Er, that’s not monstrous. Thank you for being up front, now let’s talk about whether we actually even want kids, and how we feel about adoption or surrogacy…”












1. Peter Parker and MJ

They are young and awkward and adorkable, but there’s more to them that just being two young hot people. They’re both in the science club, but they also actually know each other properly. Peter knows that MJ’s favourite flower is the Black Dahlia (“because of the murders”) and knows she deserves to be asked out in the most romantic manner possible. She knows he’s Spider-Man.

They’re smart, and good, and brave, and lovely, and their concern for each others’ safety is genuine and deep.

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Top 5 Scenes in the MCU: Infinity Saga

July 11, 2020 at 1:50 pm (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)

5. Captain Marvel beats up everybody.

It’s so cathartic, not just after all the gaslighting Danvers has been through in her own movie, but after all the years we waited to have a female hero with her own film.

4. Hulk vs Thor in Ragnarok

I’ll be honest: a lot of fight scenes are pretty boring. Not this one. There are so many emotional beats to this scene that it tells a full story. Thor is delighted to see Hulk; Thor tries and fails to get Hulk to recognise him; Thor fights; Thor attempts to calm Hulk to get Dr Banner to reappear; more fighting, etc

Meanwhile we also have Loki and the Grandmaster watching the show, and there is another story playing out as Loki sees the Hulk (remembering him very clearly from his rag doll moment in Marvel’s The Avengers), and has to act like he’s having fun in front of the Grandmaster while at the same time watching his brother get beaten up (or not?)

3. Baby Groot dancing while the Guardians attack a big tentacle monster (and keep an eye on him at the same time).

This is joyful, character-filled, and hilarious. It’s a stunning opening to a sequel.

2. Captain America and The Winter Soldier fight on a crashing helicarrier as Steve tries to get through to Bucky.

This is a fight that matters on an emotional level, while also challenging Captain America physically because it’s not easy to have a fight in which you’re trying not to hurt the other guy (much).

1. The Dusting.

Marvel spent so long making sure we knew that the heroes would always win and everything would be okay, and then they broke everything and everyone.

Honorable mentions:

*The airport scene in Civil War.

*Peter Parker’s home video of the airport scene (Spider-Man: Homecoming).

*The battle for New York in Marvel’s Avengers —bonus points for the fact that it has consequences eg Vulture, Loki’s failure, Earth knowing about aliens now. And it makes a fantastic backdrop for time travel scenes in Avengers: Endgame.

*Star-Lord dancing, stealing the orb, and then announcing his hero name… to confusion (Guardians of the Galaxy).

*Stark vs Captain America (and technically Bucky) in Civil War.

*War rhinos, and the confrontation between Okoye and M’Baku that ends the battle in Black Panther.

*Stark and Nebula dying in space. Nebula softening emotionally, and Stark talking to Pepper via his helmet recording (Endgame).

*Endgame final battle.

*Grief for Stark after his death (several scenes, but they work together perfectly) in Endgame.

*Steve Trevor finally dancing with Peggy (Endgame).


What’s your favourite scene?

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The MCU: Infinity Saga’s 5 Most Problematic Moments

July 10, 2020 at 11:53 pm (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)

You may have picked up on the fact that I’m a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But although it’s mostly great, some of it is seriously problematic.

5. The Missing

There is an increasingly-glaring lack of women, people of colour, and (most of all) gay people in the MCU so far. Even characters that are in a gay relationship in the comics (such as Ayo and Okoye) are straight in the movies. There have been many, many promises made about future diversity, and we have Captain Marvel and the cast of Black Panther now, which is a good start. Killing off both Gamora and Black Widow is…. not ideal.

4. Haweye killing people of colour

Hawkeye goes full vigilante after his family is snapped into dust by Thanos. He massacres several gangs, and it just so happens that both of the ones that are mentioned/seen in Avengers: Endgame are people of colour… perhaps because if he’d killed white people, or US citizens, there might have to be some kind of consequences. Hmm.

3. Fat Thor jokes

I don’t need to write a second time about how trauma can cause massive weight gain. Nor do I need to point out that mocking weight gain is not okay.

2. Replacing Asian characters with white people

Marvel has done this at least twice, swapping out The Mandarin and The Ancient One for white folks. Ugh. They actually went out of their way to be less diverse than the comics, which is awful.

Dishonorable Mentions:

*”You’re insane!” It’s a phrase often used in fiction, which is going to fall out of favour as it becomes offensive to speak so lightly of mental illness.

*Scarlet Witch and Vision dating. The age gap between the two actors is ew, and is one of the reasons I’m not desperate to see their TV show (having said that, I’ll still give it a shot and see if they change my mind).

*Did Captain America kiss his own niece that one time? Weird.

*Thanos ‘loves’ Gamora, which is why killing her gets him the soul stone. Yeah, that’s definitely not love.

*Black Widow dies instead of Hawkeye. Is it because he’s a man? Because he’s married? Because he has kids? It’s certainly not because he’s killed less people than her.

*Problematic romances. Both Stark and Star-Lord pressure their respective romantic options in icky ways.

But most of all. . .


1. That anti-trans joke in Iron Man.

Yeah, I know it was a long time ago and it’s a throwaway line. But that’s the thing. Comedy should punch up, not down, and no one is further down than trans women (especially trans women of colour), who are literally getting murdered because awful people think that their deaths won’t matter.

Their deaths matter, and so do their lives.

Jokes at the expense of trans people are not, have never been, and never will be okay. This is a matter of life and death.

Do better, Marvel.

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The 5 Best Chrises

July 10, 2020 at 10:17 pm (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)

There are so many white, handsome, famous Chrises right now. So let’s rank them!

5. Chris Sullivan

You might not have known his name. Or if you knew his name (from This is Us) you didn’t recognise him under three and a half hours of makeup. But this is Chris Sullivan aka the mighty Taserface (Guardians of the Galaxy 2).

4. Chris Pratt

Chris Pratt rapidly changed from a schlub in The Office to a superhero (even if Drax describes him as a “dude” rather than a “man” like Hemsworth’s Thor). He is, after all, an actor. I don’t have a strong impression of the actor’s personality except that he loves laughing both at himself and at others. He manages to balance that humour with action scenes, and with Star-Lord’s emotional complexity and growth.

3. Chris Hemsworth

Yeah, but Hemsworth is funny and has the biggest muscles and he’s Australian.

2. Chris Evans

Chris Evans, though. He has the best arc of all the Chrises (so far… Thor and Star-Lord are still going), and the best heart, and he’s clean-shaven (usually) which I prefer in my eye candy. The actor has great range, but also uses his fame to speak out about those who are less privileged than he is. He’s a real-life hero. What could beat that?

Honorable mention: Chris Pine. He’s in Star Trek and Wonder Woman which makes it feel like he’s in Marvel even though he’s not. Pine is the most intellectual Chris, with a love of books and of unusual words used well. But he’s not in the MCU, and he once said he’s not that big a fan of superhero movies, so screw him.

Also, his eyebrows are stupid. There, I said it.

1. Mine

Well, obviously.

I’m a sucker for a (mostly) clean-shaven Chris with gorgeous green eyes, a love of all things nerdy, a quick wit, and a hero’s heart.

So that’s the most correct and final list of all the greatest Chrises of our time. No need to sound off in the comments; I know I’m right.

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The 5 Worst Father Figures in the MCU: Infinity Saga

July 7, 2020 at 11:05 pm (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)

So many choices, amirite?

So let’s start with the man who got a pass on the villain list despite making Ultron.

5. Tony Stark

Look, Tony. I know your own dad wasn’t super emotionally competent, but it is not okay to enlist a child into your civil war, okay? Particularly without his guardian’s knowledge or consent.

And coming on to said guardian while you’re there? Unhelpful at best.

No matter how cool the scene ends up being.

4. Yondu

In Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Yondu is ret-conned to a certain extent. He didn’t keep Quill because he was handy child labour; he kept him to save him from his killer father.

Having said that, Quill was still abducted from his home planet and was constantly threatened with being eaten. Yondu died to save him, and that’s worth a lot—but parenthood takes a fair bit more than one grand heroic moment. Quill has a lot of reasons to be screwed up, and Yondu is definitely one of them.

3. Odin

The all-father seems like a great dad, wise and compassionate and all kinds of great stuff. He sends Thor on a quest that makes him a better person, and he adopts a baby belonging to his traditional enemies, raising him as his own. His quest for Thor nearly gets the god of thunder killed, and he should have told Loki he was adopted… but it’s not until Thor: Ragnarok that we find out about Hela and about Asgard’s blood-soaked past.

Parenthood: It’s not one of those things where you can change your mind about your parenting style and lock the first kid in an underground dungeon so you can start over.

It is an elegant tragedy that Odin’s most lovely, fatherly speech towards Thor is actually Loki pretending to be Odin.

2. Ego

Impregnating various races in order to gain a child who can help you take over the universe is not a good reason to become a dad. Killing countless offspring who disappoint you—and the occasional mother that you’re tempted to stick with—is also not good parenthood.

Just… just no.

Honorable mentions, for those who are mostly good but also kind of awful:

Rocket cares deeply for Baby Groot, and it’s adorable, but in an ideal world children don’t get raised by psychopaths. Just saying.

King T’Chaka raises two wonderful children, and is fundamentally a good man—but he has something in common with all the worst billionaires of our time. He chooses not to care about the rest of the world. I understand the urge to protect one’s own people at the expense of others, but if you truly want to be a decent father, that means being a decent human being as well.

Hank Pym, for being cranky as and for taking way too long to let Hope have a suit. She’s so, so much more competent than Scott.

Scott Lang, for going to prison and then continuing to steal stuff and risk his freedom. He loves Cassie, but he makes a lot of dumb, awful decisions that put her in harm’s way and that stop him being able to actually act like the good dad he wants to be.










And finally, Thanos

Not because he wants to kill half the universe (although that’s certainly a solid entry in the ‘nope’ column) but because of the way he gaslights, abuses, and manipulates his adopted daughters.

Those girls are deeply messed up, and that was entirely intentional on his part. He wanted them desperate for his approval, and constantly fighting one another in an attempt to please him that would never be satisfied.

It is delightful to see them both break free of him.

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Five Best Exposition Moments in the MCU: Infinity Saga

July 7, 2020 at 1:21 am (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)

If you’ve read any of my recent articles on the Marvel Cinematic Universe Infinity Saga, you know that I don’t like obvious exposition. There’s a lot of very good writing throughout the Marvel movies (in particular, bickering to introduce characters and character goals works beautifully), and here are my top five moments of exposition:

5. Black Panther‘s opening animation

I know I lowered Black Panther‘s ranking in the five best films because of the opening exposition, but it’s still very good exposition. The animation isn’t just good; it’s fitted to the story and its technology—Princess Shuri later mentions her sand table.

It tells us a lot: why Wakanda is rich, where the vibranium came from, how the Black Panther super power is given via the heart-shaped herb and most of the ritual and tradition that comes with that. Personally, I can’t think of a better way to communicate all that info quickly and memorably. And I have a feeling that the panther-god Bast may be more than just a minor cultural detail in future films. (Or not. Who knows.)

4. The Wonka tunnel experience in Thor: Ragnarok

This is a very funny, entirely bonkers mini-scene that tells us a little about the Grandmaster and the planet Sakaar. It knows that it’s echoing the tunnel sequence from the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (that traumatised a generation of children), and used a twisted instrumental version of Pure Imagination to let us know that they know that we know. From this we learn that no one leaves Sakaar, the Grandmaster is the boss, Thor is his slave, and that gladiatorial combat is a-coming.

3. Stark’s name on weapons

Way, way back in the very first scene of the whole Infinity Saga, Stark is blown up. In the middle of an intense firefight that ends with his capture, he spots an unexploded (at that point) missile with his own name on it, and he is so shocked to see it that he freezes, staring at his own name.

This is when the audience and Stark both find out that his company—the company of which he is supposedly the boss—has been selling weapons to baddies. It is devastating not only because Stark is captured and nearly killed, but because everything he believes he knows just got turned on its head. It is abundantly clear from his face that he didn’t know his weapons were being sold to both sides.


2. The opening of Thor: Ragnarok, with Thor talking to the Ragnarok-bringing monster about the Ragnarok prophecy.

Yep, Ragnarok again. Thor chats to a skeleton and is then threatened by a big horned monster (Su-something) that is prophesied to destroy Asgard (which he then kills*). He takes a page out of Black Widow’s book and uses his own imprisonment and interrogation to find out what he needs to know. And we’re laughing so hard we don’t notice that they’ve just outlined an important plot beat so they don’t have to waste time explaining it in the climax.

*It gets better.

Honorable mention:

“And get this man a shield.”

Captain America gave up his shield to Stark at the end of Civil War and he doesn’t get it back until Avengers: Endgame, when he and Stark are fully reconciled. King T’Challa fought against Captain America and Bucky in Civil War, but that fight is well and truly over, and has been replaced by respect. This line is badass, while also establishing that King T’Challa and Captain America are friends now, and how Captain America gets the Wakandan shield he uses in the battles to come.

And people love this line. There’s something deeply satisfying about it.

Speaking of lines that are just beautiful, while also conveying vital plot information:

1. “He’s from space. He came here to steal a necklace from a wizard.”

Now that is what I call an excellent summary of all the salient facts needed to jump into an action scene. And an epic movie, for that matter.

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5 Best MCU: Infinity Saga characters to cosplay

July 1, 2020 at 12:48 am (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)

I love Trappers Bakery in Goulburn. (For those who regularly travel between Canberra and Sydney, it’s a perfect stopping place—right near the Gouburn Maccers.) I also love the annual Goulburn Waterworks Steampunk & Victoriana Fair (which is every October, except this year due to COVID-19).

Last time I went to the Steampunk Fair, I stopped off at Trappers Bakery and was talking about the fair. The server said, “Oh, that’s why so many people are dressed up.”

“When adults do it,” I informed him, “it’s called cosplay.”


Cosplay is an awesome way to express your creativity, and/or to express how much a character means to you.


I almost always cosplay as something vaguely steampunk, in part because it’s not that different to my regular clothing. (This is an extremely old photo, but you get the idea.)

So, who are the most awesome MCU characters to cosplay (so far)? I’m sticking to a semi-plausible costume budget of around $50-$300, and presuming most but not all of my readers are white/white-ish.

5. Fat Thor

Finally a hero for us fatties.

There are three visual elements to this cosplay: beard, long greasy/dreadlocked hair, and being fat. You can add Lebowski-style sunnies if you like. As a bonus (and handy, since ‘long greasy hair’ isn’t super distinctive) either or both of his classic weapons can be added, since he uses both in Avengers: Endgame. The down side is that carrying a prop gets old fast.

4. Dr Strange

The crucial visual elements are a goatee (FYI mascara makes great facial hair) and a cross-grained red patchwork cloak. If you can sew, you can make this costume. If you have high cheekbones and dark hair, then you’ll be doing great. If you want a bit more to your costume, a piece of round perspex drawn on with orange texta (the kind that’ll draw on perspex) can look like his magic. You may also want to source a ‘sling ring’. The Eye of Agamomnon is a more complex build but you can buy one or build one if you like. But the cloak is what matters, and it puts this costume within the budgets of most people. You can make dark-blue robes for underneath, or just wear clothes that are dark and unobtrusive.

Handy hint: The main thing that makes cloaks tricky to wear is that when they fasten around the neck they hang funny and tend to choke you (especially if they’re heavy, as this cloak should be). I recommend designing one that fastens in two places near the collarbones or shoulders instead.

3. Gamora

FINALLY a girl, and FINALLY a person of colour (although given that she’s green, it’s fairly easy for any race to cosplay as her). Her long dark hair is predominantly a very artificial red, and her skin is green. There are loads of skin paints you can buy online or at cons (although obviously it can rub or sweat off, which can make things tricky). Her outfits range from black/brown to dark red leather (when she joins the ravagers). She can also be part of a great pair or group cosplay with Thanos and/or the other Guardians of the Galaxy, especially her sister Nebula (who of course is blue and bald, with metal bits). She has a distinctive sword (and/or a distinctive double-ended knife), but you don’t need props if you don’t want them.

2. Grandmaster

He has fantastically iconic visual looks (shiny gold cloak, blue under-eye liner, blue chin stripe, and blue fingernails) and a wonderfully distinctive manner as well thanks both to the writing and to Jeff Goldblum. So if you like a bit of acting with your cosplay, this is fantastic.

Handy hint: Putting eyeliner under eyes can be tricky to maintain, especially if you get dry eyes at all. I recommend trying it one evening at home and/or skipping it.

Can be paired with his guard (above; the white face paint and staff are all a New Zealand woman of colour needs although she can go the whole leather outfit if she wants; bonus points if the cosplayer is not thin). Can also be paired with Valkyrie, Thor, Loki, or Korg. Golblum is fairly tanned, so hopefully at least some people of colour can cosplay this one without the cosplay police hassling them (unfortunately people of colour are often told they “can’t” cosplay any white characters, which sucks). Or not, because the cosplay police are really just horrid and no logic can stop them so you might as well cosplay as whatever you want and ignore them.

And the winner is. . .

1. Loki

Any decent purveyor of cosplay knows that Loki cosplay works just as well for female and male cosplayers (high cheekbones are a bonus once again). All you need is long dark hair, green and black leather (a dark green cloak is optional but recommended) and ideally that iconic helmet:

If you have a dark green cloak, an awesome attitude, that helmet, and have/can acquire long dark hair, you should be good to go no matter what you look like because Loki is a friggin shapeshifter.

If I had the physical strength to commit to a costume and strut about all day, I’d cosplay as fat female Loki. That black corset from the picture at the top of this entry would be grand with black pants, and I would not say no to a fabulous forest green cloak.

Another bonus about Loki is that, since he’s getting a TV show, he’ll remain at the centre of pop culture for a good long while to come.

Honorable mentions:

Captain America. All you really need is a shield (you can buy a backpack that looks like that shield, by the way), and you can play as either Chris Evans or as Anthony Mackie if you’d like a choice of Caucasian or African American (or indeed African).

I’ve seen a bunch of glorious steampunk interpretations of Iron Man and others.

The Winter Soldier wears a mask, so that’s a great cosplay for 2020/2021.


Some basic cosplay concepts:

*Always ask before taking a photo. This is a legal consent issue, and you can (and should) be thrown out of a conference if you don’t follow this rule. If you plan to show a photo to anyone else, eg social media, you need permission for that too. If you plan to monetise the picture in any way, you need written consent.

*Never touch someone without their enthusiastic consent, even/especially if they are not wearing many clothes. It is a costume, not an invitation, and any decent con will throw you out if you act even a tiny bit creepy. Also be careful with your compliments eg, “That’s a fantastic Gamora!” rather than, “You are so sexy!” Recognising who someone is playing is a great compliment.

*Please shut up about racial stuff. If someone is cosplaying as a race different to their own, that is not an invitation for you to comment on anything to do with race or skin colour or whatever.

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