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Okay, so I own this shirt:
This is my superhero suit. It’s a majestic mixture of a soft yet vibrant pink and the worlds best tropical fruit: the pineapple, masterfully melded together to create one gorgeous men’s button up. It has been dubbed the “Taika Shirt”, after the one and only Taika Waititi (who we will get into later in the article).
This shirt grants me supernatural powers of story telling, productivity and a sudden universal sense of humor. It’s pretty cool.
And aside from just finding this piece of majesty on my person from time to time the “Taika Shirt” has made appearances along my social media feed, made its way into several of my groups as my identifying logo and even on our very own CMRU.ca! The shirt, in fact, had its premier on a July episode of our very own Ben Goodman’s (@grandpashampoo) On the Right Track in his promotional post for our collaboration episode! (Catch his new show coming in January of 2019!)
Okay okay, here’s the truth: It’s a $25 CAD impulse purchase that happened when I was freshly back from a one-month excursion in Guatemala and I wanted something cool and new that would make me smile and I was (cough am cough) a little obsessed with Taika Waititi (not in a creepy way). Now other than the fact that it’s just a fantastic shirt that everyone (and I mean everyone) seems to like, there’s a story behind this majestic work of apparel craftsmanship.
It’s November of 2016, the wind is biting at my face as I hold the door open for my mom (she also likes the shirt) who is scuttling across the parking lot as fast as her little legs and wonky hips will let her. We’re at Canyon Meadows Cinema, and if any of you readers are from Calgary you’ll know how much of gem that place is! We’ve made it just in time to see one of the later showings of some very serious and important film I have no recollection of now. The theater is full; I mean really full. We get to our seats just as the preshow reel ending and shed our coats. We settle in as a trailer for an independent film made by some hotshot director from New Zealand plays, it looks charming and I make a mental note to go see the film when it arrives in theaters.
That didn’t happen. It’s an Indie film, which means it only ever went to Canyon meadows and quite frankly I forgot about it.
Fast forward several weeks: I’m at home one day and my mom has just finished all the episode of The Good Wife that are available on Netflix (as a side note please beware of the hazards of showing your parents how to use Netflix, they aren’t built for that much media intake). As I am lying in my bed being a walking (lying) Generation Z stereotype, scrolling through my Instagram feed, my mom shouts from the family room couch “Get down here, I want to watch a movie but I don’t want to watch it alone!”. My first reaction was ‘Oh no, she’s watching a sappy drama about a mother a daughter duo and is trying to make me all misty eyed’, my second reaction was ‘well, I mean I’m not actually doing anything so why not’. So I made my way down the stairs and positioned myself on the couch, all awkwardly tangled up in the blanket my mom and I are attempting to share.
There, on the television, is the paused frame of the beginning of a film that would change my life. The film was Hunt for The Wilderpeople, and I promise this film is pure gold! There’s something about the storytelling of this film that gets me every time, it’s a really peculiar mixture of absolutely gut-wrenching depressing drama met with bizarre dead pan New Zealand humor.
The writer and director of this gem is non-other than the aforementioned Taika Waititi. There’s an amazing YouTube video that describes his style of film making as “Happy-Sad Cinema”, a style defined by telling depressing stories with humor and bizarre optimism. It’s a form of juxtaposition that often paints a more vivid picture than more traditional ways of storytelling can.
Taika Waititi is a personal idol of mine. Never before have I ever connected with stories like his, and that’s saying a lot considering I once thought I would make a living being a novelist. And so when he finally got his time to shine on the main stage when Marvel Studios hired him to make the third installment in the Thor series I was STOKED. Crazy space Viking aliens meet dead-pan Kiwi genius = my personal heaven (side note Kiwi is a term used for native New Zealanders).
Cut to a month before San Diego Comic Con 2018, I’m freshly back from spending a whole month in Guatemala, and while there I completely disconnected form social media (mostly…I’m only human). I arrive in the Houston International Airport, I download the Facebook app on my phone, I have 37 new notifications. I sort through them 80% of them are events my friend are interested in, 15% are updates from an event many of my friends attended while I was gone and the last 5% are messages to me about some limited addition some or rather.
An exclusive figurine was released by the company Pop Funko. I love Pop Funkos, I have several all around my room. But this Pop Funko was different, Pop Funko released a San Diego Comic Con exclusive figurine of Taika Waititi, who over the last year has been gaining a (very) well deserved following of fans globally. The Figurine features him in his iconic pink pineapple romper from Comic Cons past. (google it if you don’t know what I mean)
AND I WANT ONE. Like, so badly.
So here I am, sitting on a six-and-a-half-hour flight from Houston to Calgary covered in a very itchy rash (I’m real sensitive to volcanic ash as it turns out… again another story for another time) thinking about three things: wanting to be comfortable, wanting to be less itchy and the Taika Pop Funko I will never get to have. I wish I could say I’m being dramatic, giving the story a little more tension, but I’m not. I have a problem, I’m aware it’s unhealthy to fixate on thing like this. I want to be stronger, I want to be all “material possessions don’t make the man”, but I’m WEAK.
So, unfortunately, I cannot afford to fly to San Diego and I cannot afford to buy one of these suckers for $80+ dollars on eBay. So here I am, waiting for San Diego Comic Con to pass me by, to watch all those lucky souls walk out of the convention with tiny bobbling Taika’s in their arms. And YES, I’m jealous! I try not to be, green never looked any good on me anyways.
You know what else I can do for $80? Become the Pop Funko.
So it’s like a week after I get back, I’ve just exchanges my foreign cash and put it back into my account. So, let me reiterate where I am: I have money and access to the internet and I’m a little bummed out. I google the words “Pink” “Pineapple” “men’s” “button up” and “shirt”. I click on the third link down, they only come in medium (which is a hit or miss kind of size), but they’re only $25 CAD and shipping is free after $20. Cool.
It was almost an out of body experience, I wanted and now I have. The funny thing about having this shirt is now I needed to justify this shirt to myself, I now own a shirt that is pink with pineapples that I will surely get ridiculed for. So now it is my “work” shirt, I wear it Taika-ration (Taika + inspiration = Tiaka-ration).
And so this is the lie I tell myself. I wear it when I need it, and heck it’s starting to become true! I finished a screen play in it, I’m working on a film and you bet I wear it for good luck, and I think I get most of best writing done when I wear it as odd as that sounds.
Now yes, I have thought about completing the set. I look every once and a while at the shorts that could bring this whole outfit together, but alas that is for another impulse and another day. For now, I’m happy with just this magnificent shirt…
For now. There may very well be a part two.