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. Thursday, 4 April 2019 .

Sometimes you just really want to see "good" battle it out "evil" and what better way to do that than by watching a superhero film? Luckily for us, tis' the season for some epic superhero movies.

Allow me to explain. A few years ago I was going through a horrendous bullying ordeal at an old workplace. There was one incident that left me particularly shaken. I took the rest of the day off as per my doctors advise. I remember walking around in a daze and somehow ending up at my local cinema. I guess because as a film buff, movies have always been my escape. It was around lunchtime so the cinema was quiet and only a handful of movies were showing. I decided to go see Fast and the Furious, an unlikely choice from me given that I have never seen any of the previous films but I knew that this one had a bit of Luke Evans in it so that was more than enough for me. It wasn't my usual genre - I used to just stick to what I know and like. But that day, to my surprise, I found myself absolutely enamored.

It was so therapeutic watching a "good guys" vs "bad guys" narrative. I still can't put it into words now, but sitting there in the dark and seeing 'good' and 'bad' clearly categorised in an action-packed few hours was such an integral part of my healing.

Because real life is a lot more complex. People are multidimensional, there is 'good' and 'bad' in everyone, and sometimes the road to victory is long and exhausting and when faced with challenging situations, it's so hard to keep the faith and trust that 'good' always wins. I needed to believe in the good. In the heroes. In the happy ending. In the good guys always emerging victorious no matter how hopeless the situation was.

And isn't that the power of film. It takes us to another world when we need it the most. It can reflect our society and values. It mirrors themes that we go through in real life. It teaches us so much about ourselves and the world we live in.

Shazam may be fiction, but it's core values are very much real. For one, it's about family and how family takes many different shapes and forms. It's about finding a place to belong, finding people who believe in you and will stand alongside you as you discover your true powers. It's about the hangups and trauma we carry from our childhoods and how we mustn't let hate fester until it consumes our every being.

Although the underlying themes are serious, the film combined humour and heart so perfectly that I think this might be my favourite DC film yet. The story follows 14-year-old foster kid Billy Batson (Asher Angel) who instantly turns into a superhero just by saying one magic word - Shazam! Zachary Levi plays Shazam so well - he appears to be a grown-up but really is just a kid on the inside. I loved that this film injected a much-needed fun aspect to a superhero film. You don't often see that these days. The jokes had the whole theatre laughing - an audience mixed with kids and adults at that. To be able to craft jokes that both audiences would appreciate is just proof at how sharp the script was for this film.

I also loved getting to know Billy's 'family' and was so excited to see Ian Chen (Evan from Fresh Off the Boat) in his first major film! Also absolutely brilliant in this film is Jack Dylan Grazer who plays Freddy, Shazam's 'manager'/bestfriend/hype man in the film. While the cast does an excellent job when they deliver the more light-hearted scenes of the film, I find that it was during the films more tender moments that they really showed their true prowess. Shazam is filled with those moments - light and dark, funny then heavy. Much like the good/bad concept I was talking about earlier.

We need films like Shazam especially at a time like this when there is too much hate, too much suffering, too much pain around. We need films to remind us of the good and how we can be good. We need to see ourselves in these films, in the heroes, and in the story. Shazam reminds us that there is a superhero in all of us and I think that's why this film is so essential in today's current climate. I can't find confirmation anywhere on the internet about this (and it's not on the full cast list) but I think Emma Gonzalez makes a quick cameo in this film. And if it is her, then what a serendipitous twist that would be towards the point I was making about Shazam being the film we all need to see right now.

Shazam opens on April 4 nationwide. Thanks Roadshow and Undertow Media for the preview! I can't wait to see it again this weeekend!

. Friday, 29 March 2019 .

I’ve been finding comfort in other people’s words, reaching out to friends and planning catch ups over coffee and ice cream. Processing, grieving, healing, and helping. There is no moving on - just moving forward in a new reality. Please be kind as you keep going.

. Saturday, 16 March 2019 .

Latest version as of 15 April, 6:31 pm - image credit Shaun Yeo from Yeo Cartoons

Today has been the most harrowing day in our beautiful country. I can't fully comprehend what's happened. My heart is so broken. Nothing I can say that hasn't already been said so instead, here are some ideas on how to help:

Al-Manar Trust is a non-profit Islamic Trust and they've set up an emergency appeal and you can donate to it here.

This is the official Give a little page for the victims. Please donate if you can. 

Tonight we found out thanks to the above tweets from Guled Mire that the flight costs from Auckland to Christchurch was at $747 minimum. This is a one and a half hour flight and when Air NZ has a sale, it can go as low as $39. What made it worse was Air New Zealand's reply that the reason for these costs were supply and demand. I couldn't believe I was reading that, to be hones. The reason for that 'supply' is because we've just had a terrorist attack and people are flying over to be with loved ones, for funerals, to help out. We need a lot of people power for mass burials - especially one as large as this. To act like they have no control over pricing is appalling. To profit off such a tragedy is unconscionable. I don't know about you, but I expect better from our national airline.

This happened a few hours later. If you're reading this outside of NZ, Grant Robertson is our Minister of Finance and controls 52% of Air NZ on behalf of the state. I saw how angry people were on Twitter over this. I saw how they demanded change and made their voices heard. I saw how quickly things changed. A few hours later and prices are now down to $139 for a return flight. So in case you are ever wondering whether or not your one voice can make an impact, keep this in mind. Now is not the time to stay silent. Don't be afraid to use your voice and to amplify the voices in your community. You can make a difference.

Call out casual racism. Don't stay silent when your mates share a seemingly 'harmless' racist joke. Don't normalise hatred and racism. Don't stand for it either. Demand better behaviour. Because these little things, these micro-aggressions and harmless behaviour add up. They have consequences. And today that's 49 deaths and 42 people still in the hospital. Our men, our women, our children. All while peacefully praying.

Thoughts and prayers are important. So are actions. One cannot exist without the other.

Attend a vigil, reach out to your local Muslim and migrant community and find out what kind of support they need. Listen to them. Then get on with it and help out.  I read this morning that a Hindu temple in Henderson was threatened yesterday and this brazen person told the priest that the temple did not belong in NZ. The temple is closed now because their garden has been destroyed overnight. I've asked one of the people in their community what we can do to help and if we can help fix the garden. Will keep you posted if you're keen to do something with me. This is why it's important to reach out to our vulnerable communities right now. It's like the equivalent of changing your profile pic with an overlay text but IRL and offline.

I survived a mass shooting 23 years ago. Here's how to help survivors today.

Amplify POC voices especially those in the Muslim community. Listen to their lived experience. We don't need anymore trash hot takes from the media and the Mike Hoskings of the world. Listen to the communities who are mostly impacted by this and who will inevitably (and unfairly) bear the brunt and pain from this tragedy.

Demand for better action from companies like Youtube and Facebook. Youtube needs to be better at eradicating users who fester this type of hatred. And Facebook needs to think about their role in this too. The terrorist livestreamed the attack. The video has been downloaded by sick people and reuploaded. Some media outlets have shared it (let's not even get started on how unethical and immoral this is, not to mention against the law). Why do we not have security or monitoring measures in place for livestreaming? And if we can't provide that, then why are we offering such a feature in the first place?

Donate to paramedics like St John First Responders or volunteer your time. These brave Christchurch paramedics responded to the attacks and saved lives. They did it without bulletproof vests on, they dealt with the situation as it was unfolding. These are the same people who are fighting for better pay and working conditions. New Zealand's paramedics are now on some of the lowest rates in the developed world. Support them.

Our teachers also deserve better. While schools were on lockdown, these teachers ensured our children were kept safe. Have you ever tried to amuse a child for an extended period of time? That is a lot of patience and compassion. Educate yourself on why recently went on strike (this is a good place to start) and be a better ally.

Go to the Restoring Family Links (RFL) website or call 0800115019 to report a missing person. I've seen a few posts being shared on social media from concerned whanau (family) who are still looking for their loved ones. This is the number to direct them to.

You can call or text 1737 (hotline is open 24/7) if you need to talk to someone. Whoever you are, wherever you are in the country, the past few days have been intense and overwhelming for all of us. Talk to someone about it. Your feelings are valid.

Mental health advice for coping after a traumatic event and how to support kids after a traumatic event from the Ministry of Health.

Check in with your mates and loved ones. See how they're doing. Offer hugs and a cuppa. It might seem like a small thing but the feeling you're feeling right now - the anger, numbness, sadness - chances are, they too feel the same way. Talk about it. Be angry. Be support. Be love.

When we talk about the Mosques, can we please refer to them by their names? It's Masjid Al Noor on Deans Ave and Linwood Masjid on Linwood Av. It is a place of prayer and love and it's appalling that someone thought they had the right to take that away.

Teach kids why diversity is so important. Expose them to cultures and ideas and ways of living that are different to theirs.

Get to know your candidates and your leaders. Understand what they stand for and their policies. If you were apathetic then, how can you be now?

I'm thinking about our NZ police who responded swiftly and bravely. I cannot comprehend the amount of courage it takes to do your job. To head straight towards a violent attack by someone with those kinds of weapons. Thank you.

NZ, this IS who we are right now. And I know we all feel like this isn't who we want to be. So let's fight for that. Let's strive to not be this. There is so much work to be done but we need to start this now. We cannot undo what happened yesterday but it's on us to make sure this never happens again.

Join the Collaborate for Christchurch page where they post a lot of volunteer and fundraising info here.

These are just some ideas of the things we can do. The Spinoff and The Project have great lists with more ideas too.