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Farewell Stan Lee

Today the world mourns.

It is not the first day that we have done so, nor will it be the last. Sadly the time is coming where mourning will be quite frequent. It is the sad truth of the world as it spins and moves through space that we humans must grow older. Eventually, we all must die, and return to the Earth. Today, the Earth has welcomed back much-beloved Stan Lee.

I have never read a comic book in my life. I appreciate the art. I admire the story-telling. I love the characters. I just have a thing where I always feel the need to start at the beginning. A horrible thing to think about when it comes to comic books, but it’s something in my head nonetheless, which I can’t seem to get past. While I may never have read his works, I’ve fallen in love with the man’s creativity all the same.

I’ve preferred Marvel to DC for longer than I even knew the two were different. Watching superhero movies as a kid, I may have enjoyed Batman more than Superman, but it was Spiderman which really made me enjoy the genre. Then, of course, came the X-Men. Then Iron Man, and the current Marvel Cinematic Universe which we all know and love.

Since before I even knew who he really was, I enjoyed Stan Lee’s work. When I was younger, I was unaware of all the cameos he made. Now, every time I go to see a Marvel movie, I keep my eyes open, eager to spot him. I think the next few Marvel movies to come out will be the hardest to watch. Stan hasn’t been a spring chicken for a few years now, and has outlived many other much-loved celebrities. There have been rumours for quite a while now that even after his death, his cameos in Marvel films will be continued. That they have enough recorded footage of him to be able to keep him in his creations with the help of technology. I don’t know if this will happen, but I do know that it will be hard to watch regardless. Whether it’s a movie he’d finished filming his cameo for before passing away, or a technologically implanted Stan Lee cameo, or no Stan Lee cameo at all, the first movie will be the hardest.

Stan Lee isn’t the only notable name we have lost in recent years. We have lost many big names in the creative circles. From Robin Williams, to David Bowie. Alan Rickman, to Prince. These are people I grew up with. Watching. Listening to. I knew their work before I knew who they work. I was singing “Magic Dance” before I knew it was David Bowie who sang it. I was quoting Professor Snape before I knew Alan Rickman’s name. Hook, and Aladdin are both among some of my most beloved movies, before I ever understood who was playing my favourite characters.

It’s truly tragic, when we lose someone who has influenced the world so much in such a way as this. We have proved, however, time and again, that we can move on. They may not ever be replaced, not truly, but their work will live on forever. Much like Shakespeare’s works are still around today, and Beethoven’s music still celebrated.

I’d like to take the rest of this blog to have a moment of respect for the wonderful creatives we have lost. And to appreciate the ones we still have. Deaths can be unexpected, like Robin Williams’, or Kurt Cobain’s. Sometimes, you know it’s coming for a while. It’s still a shock, regardless. We need to love and appreciate the creative artists that we still have.

For today, farewell, Stan Lee, and thank you so much for everything you have given to the world. You have been so lucky to share your stories with the world as you have, and to have felt the love and appreciation that the world has for you.

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Welcome to October

It’s coming into October, my favourite month of the year. Ever since I was a child, I have always loved Halloween. Imagine my disappointment to have been born in Australia, one of the few big Western nations that doesn’t particularly celebrate Halloween. Naturally, all the Australia’s love for all things American when it comes to TV just made everything worse. After all, is an American TV show without a Halloween special actually an American TV show? I don’t think so.

Don’t get me wrong, Halloween not being overly celebrated in Australia never stopped me from trick-or-treating. My Mum and Nana would help me with a costume, and then my god-sisters and myself would walk around my Nana and Grandad’s neighbourhood. I have no idea how Americans always seem to have pillowcases filled with candy by the time they walk around a neighbourhood. I mean, sure, perhaps the neighbourhood I would walk around wasn’t quite as big as the American neighbourhoods, but that wasn’t the real problem. The problem was that no one was prepared for trick-or-treaters to come around. Not when I was growing up. Well, no one is an overstatement. A few people had some candy or chocolate bars. The vast majority, however, would just shrug and say “Oh, it’s Halloween? Sorry, I don’t have anything for you.” A couple of people were really nice, and they would give us two dollar coins instead.

The world is changing, and I like the way it’s changing. Now it’s becoming common for children in Australia to trick-or-treat. We still have a long way to go before it’s as normal as it is in other countries, such as America, but we have come quite far from when I used to be the only child in the neighbourhood to go trick-or-treating. There’s even a set of rules that are being generally acknowledged by parents, children, and just people living in houses. If you wish to participate and have trick-or-treaters come to your house to give away candy, you just leave your outside light on. So parents will take their children around neighbourhoods, going to houses with their lights on. One day it may even be as common here as it is in the United States.

I don’t go trick-or-treating any more. I’m a bit too old for that now, sadly, and don’t have any children to escort around. Maybe one day I might steal a child from a friend. That’s not to say that Halloween is any less boring as an adult. Now, I can just buy all the candy I want to eat and binge-watch Halloween movies.

Which is, of course, my plan for this Halloween. I have a bunch of friends who I plan to voice call while watching the wonderful world of Halloween movies. The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Hocus Pocus are naturally two of the first movies on our list. Of course we’re also going to be watching some Beeltejuice as well. There are just so many other good Halloween movies out there as well that I don’t know what else to add to our list. Especially since I’m trying to educate a couple of my friends, who haven’t seen some of these movies before. (I know, believe me, I’m just as shocked as you are. Don’t worry though, they have agreed to being educated.) Any particularly important must-see Halloween movie suggestions would be more than welcome.

There are three other things that I’m particularly looking forward to this wonderful spooky month. Firstly, there are Halloween events. I don’t necessarily mean at bars, or places like that. Although if I can find any events like that, I may very well do just that. However, what I am talking about is the wonderful world of gaming events. Okay, so, the one game in particular, although I can hope that other games might also have events. For example, I’m hopeful that the Harry Potter mobile game, Mystery at Hogwarts, might have a Halloween event. Given that it’s still a growing game and mostly in development, I would not be surprised if such an event didn’t happen this year, however they are doing some events for unique skins fairly regularly, so I think my hope may just pay out.

The game I’m particularly looking forward to, however, is Overwatch. Now, I haven’t been playing this game since it came out. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not good at it. I’d like to be, but I’m only a lowly bronze player. (In comp as well as border). Maybe upgrading to a better mouse and keyboard might help with that for me. Or maybe I’ll just find out that no, I’m still horrible at it. Though, my skill level isn’t the point I want to talk about right now. Instead, I want to talk about the Halloween event. I had so much fun last year when playing Junkenstein’s revenge. It was the first special event arcade mode that I played, since I joined at the end of the Anniversary event last year.

Overwatch is great, I’ve been enjoying playing it a lot lately. Although it’s one of those things that’s definitely better with friends. Even better when it has those Player vs Environment events, as opposed to constantly Player vs Player. I’m just going to ignore the whole trend towards Battle Royale that games seem to be going to at the moment due to the popularity of some certain free to play ones, because let’s face it, those modes are undoubtedly my least favourite. The PvE modes, however, Junkenstein’s Revenge, Uprising, and Retribution are some of my favourites. Let’s face it, Overwatch players can get quite salty sometimes, whether you’re playing with them or against them. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing competitive, quick play, or arcade, unless you’re playing with a six stack, you’ll almost inevitably find a teammate who doesn’t co-operate. That’s not to say that you don’t find that in those PvE modes. In fact, sometimes you get players who either disconnect or purposefully leave, which results in a very unbalanced group, since unlike other game modes, there isn’t any back-fill for these PvE games, which are designed for four players to work together.

The game mode isn’t the only thing that’s got me excited. I’m a pretty big fan of some of the skins that already exist in the game, but Halloween skins will always be among my favourite on any game that has such a mechanic. Some of the ones that I got last year during the event are still up there among my most-used skins. The Dragon Symmetra skin, and the Cultist Zenyatta skin in particular are absolutely wonderful. As someone who currently “mains” Moira, I’m naturally hoping and praying for a Goblin Queen Labyrinth-style skin. If not this event, perhaps I’ll be lucky next year.

The second exciting thing about this month is that it’s going to be my last month at university. Now, I’m not going to say forever, at this point. I know myself too well to say that. Maybe one day I’ll go on to do a Masters. For the moment, however, with what I’m currently studying, I am nearly done. This is both exciting and absolutely terrifying for me. Having to go out into the real world as an adult with a degree? What on Earth will I do? It doesn’t help that it’s a Fine Arts degree. I’m just going to be so employable!

The third thing that’s happening this month is connected to the second, and is essentially the main reason I’m writing this whole thing right now in the first place. I’ve just spent the past three years working on a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing. Naturally I want to go on to do something with this. Which is why I’m starting this blog. The blog is just a small part, of course. I’ve also taken steps to become a sole trader, so that I can begin getting paid for writing and editing. It feels like a big step for me, quite possibly because it is. I’m going to be putting myself out there, which hasn’t always ended well for me in the past. Not that such things have always ended horribly for me, but when you have anxiety, you always begin to expect the worst.

So here goes, the first blog for my site, talking about my favourite month, and letting everyone know that Marlee McDougall, writer and editor, is officially open for business.