King of the Hill Needs to STAY Dead

The title sounds brutal, I know, but I assure you, I’m a fan.  I love King of the Hill.  Granted, I’m kind of a minority within my circle of friends, and even family when it comes to this, but all the same, I love this show.

In recent months, there’s been talk of giving it the ol’ reboot treatment.  I say this as both a fan of the show who saw how it ended and was legitimately content with this being the last episode, and as someone who’s sick and tired of memberberry culture’s stranglehold on entertainment.  King of the Hill needs to STAY dead.

It hasn’t even been dead for all that long compared to most of the corpses being dug up for nostalgic puppet shows.  If they hadn’t made Jigsaw (AKA, Saw 8), King of the Hill would probably even hold a record for how shortly it’d been resting in its grave before the entertainment industry came wandering into that graveyard with its shovels and marionette strings.

I’ve heard tale that the new King of the Hill isn’t really going to be a full fledge reboot, nor will it be a straight up “picking up where we left off” concept.  Rather, it’s going the “years later” concept seen in such reboots as Fuller House, and Girl Meets World.  The rumor I heard was that Bobby would be college aged, and his parents would be older.  In core concept, this sounds like a fun little novelty episode at absolute best, and like something I’d read on Fanfiction.net at absolute worst.  And I suppose fanfiction made into legit canon can work.  It worked for Adventure Time (though god only knows why).  Unfortunately, fanfiction is also the reason 50 Shades of Gray exists, so…

I see nothing but disaster for this reboot.  Largely because, like I’ve said, it’s a reboot.  It’s starting to get to a point where even the people who WANTED to see the Ghostbusters strap on the packs one more time, or the Power Rangers to morph one more time, or whatever their favorite nostalgic property did one more time, don’t want to see it anymore.  Too little too late, according to my Twitter.  Unless you WANTED to see Predator go on a human hunt one more time.  Or The Usual Suspects do its thing one more time.  Or possibly Highlander endure the quickening one more time.

That much is probably just my personal bias, coupled with the fact that I’m sick of memberberry culture in the modern day.  Seriously, if I knew the stuff I used to watch as a kid was going to still be here as an adult in his thirties…  I don’t know what I’d say.

The thing about King of the Hill in particular, though, is that it ended on season thirteen.  THIRTEEN!  Usually when a show makes it to season SIX, the fanbase is starting to contemplate  maybe moving on to greener pastures, and the creaters start to get lazy.  To put it another way, somewhere around season 6 and season 7 is when a show encounters the problem of seasonal decay.

Seasonal decay is when a show with a lot of power, a lot of influence, and a lot of popularity behind it begins to lose all that power, all the influence, and all that popularity in a very slow, barely noticeable fashion.  It’s more or less the opposite of jumping the shark, where in a show makes a change so drastic and irrational that the fans leave almost instantly.  With seasonal decay, the fans drop out of the fandom at a slower, barely noticeable rate.  You never really notice WHEN the show starts to feel meh…  Unless you’re one of those obsessive idiots who memorizes things in the background of every scene of every episode for no reason other than to prove to your fellow nerds your dick is bigger because you noticed it, of course.  You just sit there, watching your favorite show, but notice that suddenly, everything that used to be funny, cool, and overall interesting about the show is just falling flat lately.

King of the Hill, as much as I love this show, definitely fell victim to seasonal decay.  The Powerpuff Girls is another example of a show that entered seasonal decay, and while I myself didn’t even bother watching it, it’s basically all over the internet that rebooting it definitely didn’t help.  I mean yeah, it didn’t help The Powerpuff Girls any that the reboot looked nothing like the original, and felt more like an episode of Adventure Time as written by the Teen Titans Go staff than a legit Powerpuff Girls series…  But yeah, rebooting it didn’t remedy the decay at all.

And of course, you can’t talk about rebooting King of the Hill without addressing the ginormous elephant in the room: Tom Petty and Britney Murphy are no longer with us, and therefore, can’t reprise their roles as Luanne and Lucky respectively.

I’m not sure how much that’ll bother people.  I’m a bit of a minority within the KOTH fandom in that I actually didn’t mind Lucky becoming a main character marrying Luanne, and getting her knocked up with…  I think they eventually named their baby Grace, but it would’ve been funnier to me if they stuck with Lasagna.  Hell, they could’ve called her Liz for short.  But I digress.

People HATED Lucky.  Him becoming a regular character was considered the closest thing to a jumping the shark moment that show had.  Hell, I distinctly remember a petition circulating through the internet demanding that Lucky be removed from the show entirely!  And you wonder why congress doesn’t take petitions seriously?

I can see that complaint, but at the same time, Lucky was pretty harmless.  He seemed like the kind of guy who, if nothing else, was a product of his environment.  And that environment, for better or worse, was the trailer park.

I suppose it’s an irrelevant observation now, considering Tom Petty’s gone now, and can’t reprise the role anymore.  Sure, you COULD possibly make a claim like “Oh, somewhere in the time skip, Lucky and Luanne moved to Georgia because shut up.”  Still, I have a hard time imagining King of the Hill without Luanne at this point.  And recasting Luanne and/or Lucky would be a bit of a grave disservice just to give some random schlubs in a dormitory their memberberry fix.

Admittedly, at the time of this blogging, the talks between Mike Judge and the network are just that: talks.  Maybe nothing will come of these talks, or maybe we’ll get the reboot after all.  I’m not certain at this point, but all I can say for sure is that the prospect of a reboot doesn’t fill me with a whole lot of confidence, I tell you what.

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Announcements, cancelations, and speculations

I’ve had several thoughts, announcements, and the like regarding my writing all bouncing around in my head that I’ve had to hold off on due to having to promote Realm of the War Pigs.  It’s been a week, and for the most part, and I think enough time has passed to talk about something OTHER than what I published recently.  If I’m wrong…  Well, that’s probably another reason I have to self publish.

My announcements are as follows.

First off, the next book in The Highway Men is already under way.  As of this writing, I already have three chapters and a prologue.

In my blueprint, I had originally planned on book 2 simply being called Unfinished Business.  According to that blueprint, it’d be another story from the perspective of Kaitlin Klein, and it’d follow up on any loose threads book 1 left behind.  Somewhere around the second draft of Realm of the War Pigs, though, those plans changed drastically.

As of this blogging, book 2 of my series is titled Realm of the Mushroomheads.  Kaitlin does appear in the book, but now, the story changes over to a different character.

I’d alluded to a Cousin Bailey in Realm of the War Pigs, but never really went into detail on her.  Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler.  Nor is anything I’m about to talk about for the most part.

Funny thing is that Cousin Bailey and Cousin Sasha were just random characters that weren’t really meant for anything but to expand on Kaitlin’s background.  Hell, their NAMES were place holder names.  I looked over at my TV while I was writing (this was back when I had cable), saw Bayley and Sasha Banx were about to have a segment on WWE Raw, and just wrote those names down in the manuscript, thinking that if nothing else, I’d change them later.  I never did, I realize, and now it’s too late to change it.  Whatever, I’m rambling.

Realm of the Mushroomheads is told from the perspective of Bailey Boxberger (last name subject to change): Kaitlin’s cousin, and a native of Nevel, Kansas.  Unlike her older cousin, she’s never left town, and, in my opinion anyway, is more in touch with what the locals have to say about all these newcomers moving into town, and going over to that mansion.

So far, that’s all I can say about Realm of the Mushroomheads without spoiling things.

I have no idea when this project will be finished, but I can say with certainty that it’s probably going to be 2019 before you see it.  WHEN in 2019, I don’t know, but I doubt highly I’ll be able to finish this, get another glorious book cover from Cartoonist Mark himself, and get this out by 2018.

Especially because of item number 2 on my list of things to talk about.

I’ve been keeping this mostly to myself, largely because I have no idea if this is actually going to happen or not.  All I can really say for sure is I’ve been recruited to write the script for a potential graphic novel.  So far, all I can say about this project is about ninety-nine percent of my time on this project has consisted of researching a psychotic amount of obscure mythology, and the other one percent has been dedicated to trying to remember what comic book pages look like.

Yeah, somewhere around 2007-2009, I thought my blind ass could get into the comic book industry with all my ingenious ideas.  Perhaps Marvel or DC, or even Image (assuming that’s even around anymore) would be a longshot, but I was looking into smaller, but equally noteable publishers like Darkhorse, or Antarctic Press at the time.  Those plans went to the wayside.  Partly because I realized I was a lot better at pros.

Also, in recent years…  Well, a lot of this is basically third-hand information at best, but I’ve generally gotten the impression PC culture has the comic book industry in a stranglehold.  Things like diversity are more important to the big boys than actually telling a halfway decent story.  Or at least that’s the case with Marvel.  I couldn’t tell you anything about DC anymore, other than they eventually abandoned New52, and at one point, there were apparently three different jokers all running around like they do.

Basically, I’m having to learn, and relearn the ropes of comic book writing in order to make a halfway decent graphic novel.

As a result of this graphic novel project getting dumped in my lap, I have to manage my writing time, and shelf some potential projects.  The most prominent of which, unfortunately, is The Helen Tamzarian Papers.

Truth be told, I haven’t given up on The Helen Tamzarian Papers as a book just yet.  As a SERIES…  I’m suddenly a little less interested in pursuing that idea.  Really, if anything, Helen Tamzarian IN GENERAL is an idea I’m not quite as enthusiastic about these days.

I’m putting this project on the shelf for the time being.  I’m not really abandoning it like past projects, but I’m not necessarily going to be picking this up any time soon, either.

Another project that ended up getting shelved before I could even start it was another Novella of Highfill, Kansas.  Yeah, I know.  Just when I’ve convinced myself this one’s the last one, I come up with a new idea.

The thing is, though, I only ever write out Highfill, Kansas novels when I’m in the deepest depths of the backward dark: that horrible void where the voices assure me that life is meaningless, the universe is apathetic to my existence, and everybody around you is a selfish fucking prick who wishes you’d just hurry up and kill yourself already and spare us all the pathetic fucking sadboy posts on Facebook/Twitter.  Except I generally keep my Twitter professional, outside of some sports commentary and a couple dumb observations.

Thing is, life is actually pretty generous to me lately.  I mean yeah, I’m dirt poor at the moment and scraping by on rent and bills, but honestly, a change of scenery was probably what I needed.  New place, new part of KC, new challenges…  It might be too early to make this declaration, but I’m pretty sure I can add new girlfriend to the list as well.  The only real downside so far has been having to rehome my cat, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s for the better.  Both for me, and for the cat, but mostly for the cat.It’s a long story.

So yeah, that’s basically all the news that’s fit to dish for the time being.  Sink your teeth into that, and I’ll see yall next time.

 

Realm of the War Pigs Now Available!

WARPIGS

 

Kaitlin Klein receives word that her grandfather has passed away, and makes the long trip back home to Nevel, Kansas for the funeral.  Unfortunately, along the way, she’s kidnapped by a cult of demon worshippers.  Before she can be sacrificed, though, she is rescued by The Highway Men: a group of demon hunters dedicated to keeping the American Midwest from falling into darkness.  After rescuing her, they give her a ride back home…  Only to find that something is horribly wrong.  Kaitlin and crew quickly discover that her grandfather might not be the man she’d thought he was.  They find tomes full of black magic and dark rituals, a zombie in the basement, and perhaps the most damning of all, a portal to a habitat full of half-man-half-pig monsters known as “war pigs”.  Can The Highway Men clean up this mess once and for all?  Will they even survive the attempt?

 


 

Not going to lie, The Highway Men has been a project I’ve been wanting to do for the better part of two years now.  I’ve had the blueprint in my head since at least book 2 of The Gael Saga, and I’ve been itching to get other ideas either out of my system, or on the shelf after hitting writer’s block so I could start this one.

Now it’s finally out and available for people to read.  And now I can start the next book in the series.

Get your copy here.

 

 

 

Space Opera: My Thoughts

Boy, someone REALLY wants to be Douglas Addams.  I suppose in the grand scheme of things, you could do significantly worse than Douglas Addams (Elron Hubbard comes to mind almost immediately), but there’s showing influence, and then there’s outright ripping off.

The concept of influenced by Vs. ripping off has been a topic of debate on the internet forever.  There was a time when making game reviews on the internet meant thousands of idiots would accuse you of ripping off The Angry Video Game Nerd, even if your style was nowhere near the loud, profane, fecalphiliac style of AVGN.  If you wanted to be a ranting raving lunatic with his own website designed in the most basic HTML, you were accused by thousands of ripping off The Best Page in the Universe, even if you didn’t copy his misogynistic, egocentric style.  Those are just two examples of this debate that I’m VERY familiar with.  I’m sure it goes on to other platforms, other mediums, and other creaters.

And a book like Space Opera gets me thinking more or less two chapters in that the comparisons to Douglas Addams are inescapable at best.  So is Space Opera a ripoff, or is it just heavily inspired.

Honestly, I’d go with the heavily inspired route.  Largely because while Catherynne M. Valente clearly goes out of her way to incorporate Douglas Addams esque narration about outer space and its various residents, the plot doesn’t even come close.

Space Opera has been described in one of two ways to me:

A. Eurovision in space.

B. That episode of Rick and Morty with the giant head demanding “SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT!”.

I’m not especially familiar with Eurovision, but I’m assured by friends within my book club that it’s a glorious trainwreck.  B was what ended up selling me on it.

Aliens gather far and wide to perform on the grandest stage of them all.  A stage so grand, Vince McMahon’s WrestleMania looks like a Podunk house show in a stinky old armory out in rural Kansas by comparison.  A stage so grand, various species have been known to convert entire planets into musical instruments just to stand a chance.  And every grand prix, new species are brought to the stage to determine whether or not they’re worth keeping around or not.  New contestants don’t have to win in order to avoid absolute annihilation, but survival depends entirely on avoiding last place.

Naturally, Earth eventually gets discovered, and is invited.  And after learning that all of Earth’s greatest musicians are dead (my favorite being The Insane Clown Possy ending up killing themselves as a result of something to do with magnets), Earth’s only hope ends up being Decibell Jones and The Absolute Zeroes.

Comparisons to Douglas Addams aside, this is an interesting challenge.  How the hell does one write about music?  Music is purely an audible experience, while reading is visual.  I’m going to take a wild guess and say Valente didn’t include sheet music in the print copy.

The story mentions several hybrid genres like barber shop quartet death metal, and symphonic dubstep just to name a possible few.  I would legitimately like to hear how all of these sound.  Even if dubstep is for pussies, integrating it into several other genres would be interesting to see.  The whole concept of mishmashing genres was really what made nu-metal so appealing to me.  True, every third band in the subgenre ended up being a collective of whiney bitches in hindsight, but that aside, combinations and mashups have always fascinated me, and I’d love to hear some of these genres.  It’s too bad that this is a BOOK, or else someone would probably try.

And no, there’s no attempt at replicating what these genres MIGHT sound like in the audiobook.  in fact, Valente really kind of just glances over the genres, or just mentions them off-handedly more than anything else.  Sure, they’re good for shits and giggles, but I’m that guy who has to actually ask out loud, “I wonder what that would sound like?”

Speaking of the audiobook, the audiobook is read by Heath Miller.  He does a pretty good job with the source material, reading it in that sort of dry style that makes British humor so great.

Any downsides to the story has less to do with the performance, and more to do with the source material itself.  I understand that it’s important to get a history of The Glactic Grand Prix, but this seemed to be the part of the book that got exceptionally old in a hurry for me.  There had to be a better way of emplamenting all this instead of making every even numbered chapter a brief history of this alien race or that alien race.  Surely!  It reached a point where these chapters felt like the single most elaborate form of padding I’d ever seen.  For all the impact the “knifeosaurus” people, or the 321, or ninety percent of the other aliens had on the overall story, I found myself wondering at the end just how necessary this information was.  Then I came to the conclusion that the book would’ve been, like, ten chapters if they weren’t in there.  Nothing necessarily wrong with ten chapter long books (Simon R. Green’s Nightside novellas almost never make it past ten from what I remember of them), but I remember trying to get for-real published means having to meet a very specific wordcount.

The book overall…  Is okay.  It had parts I liked, it had parts I could’ve done without.  The worst I can say about it is that it’s harmless.  The best thing I can say is that I’m glad I read it…  But I don’t see myself picking it up again in the distant future.  It killed about a week’s worth of boredom, but that’s about it.

That being said, I’d still recommend checking it out.

Greg Orman isn’t Selfish, You Are

DISCLAIMER: at the time I originally wrote the rough draft of this, Kobach was slated to win.  Somewhere over the weekend, I heard he and Colyer were having to recount the vote due to some rule I just now heard about.  So forgive me if I assume Kobach won the primary in this article, only for the committee doing the recount to decide Colyer won.  Anyway, back to the article.

“Oh my god!  I can’t believe Greg Orman is so selfish!  Running in a race where we can’t afford to let Kris Kobach win!  What is he thinking!?”

This is the attitude I’ve been seeing from people lately revolving around independent candidate Greg Orman’s campaign for Kansas Governor.  I told myself I wasn’t going to talk politics this year, but stuff like this leaves me no choice.  I must purge!

This attitude is both sickening, and sadly unsurprising.  I find it interesting that we live in a society where everything from cell phones, to soda corporations, to fucking GENDER isn’t binary, but politics still is .  This is like someone getting yelled at because they had the audacity to buy an RC cola, knowing full well it’d take sales away from Pepsi.  Or for buying a Windows phone because it takes sales away from Android.  This is a highly irrational thought process everywhere else…  But in the battle between democrats and republicans, the moment someone decides they like an independent like Greg Orman, they’ve committed a sin.

Greg Orman has just as much right to run in the election as anybody else.  He shouldn’t have to bow before your democratic or republican overlords in order to get approval.  Dude wants to run, I say let him run!

Does he stand a chance?  That question is irrelevant.  He still deserves to run.

“But he’s taking votes away from Laura Kelly by running!”

First of all, I’m sick and tired of hearing this “a vote for X is a vote for Y” mentality.  Ross Perot ran in 1992, and republicans like to complain about how he stole votes from Bush Sr.  Meanwhile, surveys that were conducted in that time, where in voters ranked their choices from favorite to least favorite, it was actually Bill Clinton who suffered the most losses due to Perot’s involvement.  And Clinton still managed to win.

Also, telling people that the only reason your candidate lost was because a third party candidate was running…  Well, that really speaks volumes of how anemic your candidate was in the longrun, doesn’t it?  If your candidate’s success depends entirely on running unopposed, then that’s probably not a good candidate.

I have a question: who the hell is Laura Kelly?  This isn’t a lead into something clever like “Here’s who Laura Kelly is.”  This is a legit question.  Because lord knows I’ve never even heard of her until just now.  I had no idea she won the primary.  I had no idea she was even IN the primary.  I didn’t even know she existed till now.  Hell, I’m not even sure I’m spelling her name right, that’s how little I know about her as a candidate.

True, the local media has been a bit hyperfocused on how good ol’ Cowboy Kobach is trying to juggle a court case AND a campaign for governor (it’s like Milton Wolf all over again), but at the same time, this doesn’t look good when your entire primary is an afterthought before the candidates have even been named.

Also, candidates like Greg Orman exist not to ruin everybody’s fun, or to intentionally screw over your favorite team.  Rather, they exist because the two party system can’t possibly cater to every single group on the planet.  And lately, the democrats have been terrible at this.  I’ve seen more democrats turn independent because rather than give us the candidate WE WANTED, they gave us the candidate THEY wanted.  Hillary Clinton is a conservative in democrat’s clothing.  Her husband signed NAFTA into law.  Her husband supported The Defense of Marriage Act: a law that delt a blow to same-sex couples who wanted to get married.  As a senator, she supported the war in Iraq, as well as  a potential war in Iran.  She preached all about transparency, but not once did she ever make her speeches to Goldman Sacks public.  She DID change her mind on The Transpacific Partnership Act: an act so secretive that nothing good could’ve possibly come from it getting passed into law.  However, it took people like Bernie Sanders, The Justice Party, and dozens of paranoid individuals from the other side of the aisle to force that opinion change.  And if she got elected, five bucks says she would’ve flipflopped, and signed that law into effect anyway.  Of course she’d probably focus more on open and outright war with Russia first, because America definitely needs to have another one of those right now…  But I digress.

The overall point is that Hillary Clinton was a terrible democrat, and never should’ve won the primary.  Yet she did, and I was supposed to just swallow my pride and vote for her.  Because the alternative was just too terrible to comprehend, and because there’s no other choice.  Either vote for Hilldawg in 2016, or you’re a bigot-ass racist who masturbates to pictures of Pepe the Frog.  Isn’t that right, Hillary?

It’s this exact mentality of “Vote Hillary or you’re a racist” that made people like me second guess being registered democrats, and start looking into third parties.  In my case, I admit to eyeing the exit since about 2008, but while I felt like Obama was SOOOO not ready for this job when he ran, I stuck with it.  It wasn’t until Hillary started her march for the white house when I realized that there was no way this two party system was going to benefit me this go-around.

Two years later, we have a race for the governor’s office.  Based on Twitter, the democrats haven’t changed their strategy even a little bit.  Furthermore, we’re living in a generation where republican candidates can be brick fucking stupid mongos who just say every stupid little thing that comes into their heads, all the while juggling campaigns and criminal charges for white collar crime or whatever, and still win.  And they win because the other side is insisting I have to vote for them, or I’m racist.  I’m not racist, and I’m sick and tired of you idiots telling me otherwise.

Furthermore, as I’ve said before, I have no idea who Laura Kelly is.  Probably nothing a quick Ecosia search wouldn’t fix (yeah, I abandoned Google years ago), but even then, if this is the situation, I’m not going in to her campaign positively.

I can’t remember her name, but she ran against Kevin Yoder in 2014.  And she lost.  Not because of third party interference, but because she was quite literally a nonentity the entire time.  Sure, she probably got on the debate stage, but I saw NO presence from her and her campaign outside that.  Hell, I couldn’t even remember her name when the 2014 midterms were going on!  This is unfortunately looking like the fate of Laura Kelly.

By comparison, I know who Greg Orman is.  Setting aside his defeat in the 2014 senate election, I know who he is because he’s making his presence felt.  He was all over Facebook, and I guess all over Twitter as well (I only got my twitter a month ago, so I don’t know).  He has comercials that pop up on YouTube before my videos.  I knew before primary season even started that he was going to be running.

Does this mean Orman is going to win?  Who can say, really?  All I know for sure is that he has a better chance than Laura fucking Kelly.  And I have a feeling that was going to be the case even if Orman DIDN’T run.

Greg Orman exists because the other two candidates aren’t giving me what I want.  That’s not selfish, that’s an alternative.  If anything, YOU’RE the selfish one.

People around here are talking about the governor’s race the same way they talk about a football game between The Chiefs and The Raiders.  I don’t even think it’s about making Kansas better to some of these guys.  I think they just want to see their team win.  And that’s a shitty reason to support a candidate.  The republican party have been a collective of syckophants for as long as I’ve been following politics (thou shalt not criticize a fellow republican).  The more recent “vote blue no matter who” slogan of the democratic party doesn’t make them a better alternative.  For guys like me, this is like a Chiefs Vs Raiders game where both teams are The Raiders!  We need an alternative!  And YOU need to improve your fucking attitude, mister.

So yeah, my mind’s made up.  And if you don’t like that…  Well, the unfollow button is right there.  No one will miss you.

NSP at KC for the First Time

Somewhere around June, I heard from both a friend and from their official Facebook page that Ninja Sex Party, one of my absolute favorite comedy and music acts of the decade, was coming to Kansas City for the first time.  The one thing keeping me from running out and buying tickets right away was that the previously mentioned friend beat me to it, and offered to take me and others to the show.

Musically speaking, I believe the YouTuber known as Todd in the Shadows put it best: the 2010s was a mistake.  Musically, this was the decade that gave us such audible atrocities as the dubstep genre, the mainstreaming of indie while still insisting on calling itself indie, the rise of the ukulele and that really obnoxious accent everybody uses when they want to sound like Imagine Dragons, the advent of “trap”, the rise and fall of “bro country”, the rock genre being handed over to the Swedes because American acts like Five Finger Death Punch, Halestorm, and Pop Evil are seriously the best America can do (according to Kansas City radio anyway)…  Hell, the only GOOD things that came out of the 2010s, as far as music goes, is a toss up between “djent”, and Ninja Sex Party.  And for the sake of this ranting raving lunacy I’m calling a concert review, I’m going to say NSP was definitely the best.

NSP has been around since at least 2009, but I personally didn’t hear about them until 2015.  By then, they had two albums in the bucket, and were in the process of pimping their recently released third album, “Attitude City”, everywhere they could.  While I arrived to the party late, the important thing is the party was still happening, and about three years later (give or take), I got to see them live.  And at The Midland of all places.  By KC standards, you know you’ve arrived when you play a venue like The Midland.  It’s not the arena KC folk affectionately call “The Amphitheater Formerly Known as Sandstone”, but it’s definitely up there.

This was a show that was just nonstop.  As a metal guy, I’m used to there being pauses in between bands while the roadies tune up their instruments and make sure the amps haven’t exploded yet.  But I guess when keytars and drum machines are your instruments, there’s very little tuning that needs to be done.  The closest thing to a breather the audience got was Tupperwear Remix Party’s over-indulgent ten minutes of blue light and repetitive noise.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The show opened with a group I’d never even heard of until that night: a little act known as Booty Patrol.  And that right there is another aspect of the 2010s: the rise in popularity of buttcheeks.  I hesitate to say I don’t get it, largely because there was a time in my life where I myself would’ve probably considered myself an ass guy.  Still, this obsession that the 2010s inflicted on us as a people…  Well, there IS such a thing as too much of a good thing, you know.

Booty Patrol is a group of people who take this cultural fascination, and crank it to eleven.  Their set design, according to a friend, even included a butt-shaped disco ball.  Their set was short, but it was an enjoyable act.  As much as I love to support local, independent, or even just favorite musicians, though, I couldn’t bring myself to buy any of their merchandise on the grounds that walking around with a shirt reading “Booty Patrol” is just asking for an ass kicking from some ultra uptight MeToo type.

TWRP came up next.  I’ve seen these guys live before, and my only real complaint about their performance is the previously mentioned intro.  For TEN STRAIGHT MINUTES!, the stage is empty, the lights are blue, and all you hear is this extremely repetitive beat.  If this is part of the joke…  Honestly, it’s more tedious than funny.

However, aside from that bit, TWRP put on a great show.  Basically, TWRP is the unholy love child of Saturday morning cartoons and Daft Punk.  For some, that’s plenty.  For the rest, all I can say is check them out when they come to your town.

And of course, there was the main event of the evening: Ninja Sex Party.  This was well worth the wait.

NSP was part concert, part epic battle between the team of NSP and TWRP against the evil Lasersaurus.  It was a spectacle that rivaled such epic stage battles as Tenacious D facing off against the dreaded Beelzaboss.

Other highlights included audience members performing The Cool Patrol Dance during the performance of their song “Cool Patrol”, a slow piano rendition of their classic song “Dinosaur Laser Fight”, and of course, my current favorite song of theirs, “Danny Don’t You Know”.

The show overall, regardless of who was playing on stage, was deadest on assuring the audience that they were all beautiful in their own way, and that the power of positivity will overcome all the naye sayers and what not.  I’m not saying I’m against this message (far from it), but man, I am SOOO not used to this sort of thing.  There’s a lot of factors adding in to that feeling of weirdness.

A. I was born out in Western Kansas.  AKA, Catholic country.  One of the first things you learn out there, even if you aren’t Catholic, is shame.  Probably another reason why I didn’t want to get a Booty Patrol shirt.

B. I was a child of the 90s, and a lot of the popular music of the time was stuff like Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana.  Not exactly upbeat cheerful music.

C. The majority of my high school years were spent hanging around metal heads.  As I’ve said countless times: metal heads hate everything.  Including, but not limited to, other metal heads.

Basically, I’m not hardwired to think positively and have pride in myself.  I’m not ASHAMED of myself, mind you, but I’m not exactly popping out of a paper mashay egg, waving a purple flag, and hugging everyone in arm’s reach or anything, either.

I’m not sure if this is the 2010s assuring people that shame is an obsolete concept, or if this is all part of the loud and angry fuck you we hand out to Donald Trump on a regular basis…  Although Danny of NSP did basically include the phrase “fuck politics” in his intro to “Danny Don’t You Know”.

If there was one regret I have about the entire show, it was probably not being able to hit the merch stand after NSP left the stage.  And that’s as far as I’m going to get into that tangent, because it was an awesome show, and I’m not going to let petty things like where someone decided to park get in the way.  Would’ve been nice to snag one of those exclusive copies of the new NSP album, though.  Or even a T-shirt.

Yeah, I won’t buy a shirt reading “Booty Patrol”, but I’ll totally buy a shirt reading “Ninja Sex Party”.  I’m sure there’s a double standard in there for some, but really, the term Ninja Sex Party leaves more to the imagination.  Also, I only had enough money for one.

NSP in KC was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to in my life.  I can’t remember the last time I came home with no voice, sweating like a fountain, and proud of it.  I really hope they come back to KC soon.

Slobberknocker: My Thoughts

Jim Ross: AKA, “Good ol’ JR”, is one of the greatest wrestling commentators of my generation.  Joey Styles is an extreme (no pun intended) close second, but Jim Ross just takes the crown.  There were many times in my middle and high school years when I sat down, watched me some Monday Night Raw, and let JR take me on a journey into the wonderful world of Vince McMahon’s one ring circus that is WWE.  Or WWF as it was known back in those days.  Michael Cole, god bless him, just doesn’t have the same ora of pure personality behind his commentary by comparison.  When Mankind fell off the Hell in a Cell, Jim Ross sold the shit out of it.  partly because, according to his book, he wasn’t in on what they were going to do, but all the same, he sold the shit out of that fall.  Cole, or the guy on Smackdown would probably settle for just going deathly quiet on the grounds this is super serious and requires us to be super professional.   Michael Cole screaming “AS GOD AS MY WITNESS, THAT MAN IS BROKEN IN HALF!” is like hearing a cat bark at the mail man.

Seriously, I could go on for fucking ever about JR’s commentary.  But then you’d have no insentive to read the book.

Suffice to say, there’s a lot of stories in this book I’d never heard before.  Primarily around Mid South Wrestling: JR’s first job, and the king of the Oklahoma territory back when terratories were a thing.

Honestly, had I known about Leroy McGuirk: blind color commentator, I probably would’ve pursued my teenaged dream of doing color commentary for pro-wrestling a lot more passionately.  I mean hell, to hear it from Slobberknocker, Leeroy had less vision than I did!  If a 100% blind guy could do color commentary, than surely, my one-eyed ass could do it, right?  Ugh, this is what I get for listening to my parents.  Oh well: multiverse theory dictates there’s probably a version of me that gave it a try.  I hope it turned out well for alternate me.

Some stories in Slobberknocker, though, are pretty unpleasant.  IE, the story of Grisley Smith’s…  Addictions.

There’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff that I’d never known about, either.  IE, JR’s crippling depression brought on by his second bell’s palsy attack.  It probably gives away the ending of the story, but it’s amazing to think that Wrestlemania15 was originally going to be his last commentary gig ever.  Crazy.

I bought this book on a Saturday, and I finished it yesterday.  There was never a dull moment.

The book is mostly read by Jim Ross himself.  Admittedly, it’s very obvious that he has the book, or at least prompts in front of him as he’s reading.  His style of commentary is something that’s stuck with me over the ages, but his reading style…  Well, it doesn’t leave anything to be desired, but you can tell when a guy like JR is reading from a card.  But in the end, it wasn’t bad.  Hell, he didn’t even have to get on the mic and do the audiobook, really.  But he did, and I appreciate that so much.

I think I’ve brought this up before, but it really makes it special when the author of an autobiography, regardless of the subject, goes out of their way to read their own story for the audiobook.  Sure, they might not be the best reader on the planet (Cough cough Daniel Bryan cough), but at least they made the effort.  More than I can say for some people, Hardcore Holly.

I highly recommend this book.

After On: My Thoughts

Whew boy, this book was an ordeal.  People who follow me on my Twitter (@ThomasJBlack1) watched me struggle with this one in realtime, but for those who don’t give a fuck about Twitter and prefer blog posts featuring paragraphs of text all in one place…  Yeah, this book was a chore.

I’ve mentioned before that nonsequential story telling is a pet pieve of mine.  Admittedly, this one does it better than most…  Sometimes.  As far as Mitchel’s high school romance storyline goes, at least I had warning that we were going to be spending several chapters jumping to the past.  More than I can say for the unfolding epic of Epetstore.com’s demise, anyway.

This is one of those stories where they just dump a bunch of random shit in your lap in the early going, and expect you to figure out how to put it together as the story unfolds.  I seriously thought the epic saga of Brock Hogan was happening in reality alongside Mitchel’s company getting eaten by Phluttr Inc.  Only to figure out later (several chapters before the book just outright tells you, mind you) that Brock Hogan is actually just the CEO’s terrible scifi creative writing.  The Amazon.com reviews included in the book, while amusing enough, take a while before you figure out what purpose they serve to the plot.  Before then, they just feel intrusive, and maybe even counterintuitive to the story.

Another pet pieve of mine that I might or might not have gotten in to in this blog as a whole is present tense narration.  Plenty of GOOD stories suffer from this pet pieve of mine, and a lot of them are very noir esque.  This seems to be a trope of the young adult genre, and it just reaks of laziness.

In the case of After On, the present tense narration is compounded by the fact the narrator is FUCKING ANNOYING!.  Eventually, you figure out the artificial intelligence that eventually becomes known as Phluttr is the one narrating.  That doesn’t improve anything, but…  Well…  No, that doesn’t improve anything.  Seriously, the narrator for The Powerpuff Girls wasn’t this fourth wall breaking and excessively biased.

I’m aware that unreliable narration is a concept, but much like nonsequential storytelling, it’s one of those things that needs to be done right in order to work.  William fucking Faulkner couldn’t even make it work, and I love Faulkner.  After On is no Faulkner, though, and I’m made aware of it with every paragraph.

This book was featured in my scifi-fantasy book club.  Other criticisms, such as the author’s unhealthy obsession with “info dumping” were brought up.  I personally could look past the fictional disease of the protagonist (Folkenberg’s Syndrome, I think it was called), if only because of all the things that annoy me about this book, that one annoyed me the least.  It’s not a real condition, but whatever.  Don’t care

One person in the group even went on an EXTREMELY long tangent about how Phluttr could communicate with every country in the world, and understand every culture’s language querks and cultural taboos was flat out absurd.  Seriously, the last time I heard someone go on a tangent this long and ridiculously over thought out, one of my best friends was trying to explain how Ron and Hermione should’ve never ended up together on the grounds “opposites attract” is pure and absolute bunk.  In his defense, though, he has aspergers syndrome, and really wanted Harrymione to be a ship (I guess).  And in defense of the person arguing the Phluttr case, foreign language is apparently the thing she nerds out over the hardest.  She herself even admitted it on at least three occasions since I’ve met her.

Still, that may be something to keep in mind.

The audiobook is read by a ridiculous amount of people.  I’m going to guess January LaVoy is the one who reads about eighty-five percent of the book.  It also features Felicia Day: famous for…  Uh…  Some reason.  And I’m sure this was the case BEFORE she appeared on the reboot of MST3K, or her appearances in Ninja Sex Party videos.  I guess she hosted a podcast or something?  In any case, Day reads all the Netgrrrl posts, and she reads them all through a voice filter.

My favorite of all the narrators of this book, though, has got to be Jesse Cox as the guy who reads all the Whistleblower posts.  This guy right here steals the show.  You can just hear the capslock key being glued permenantly to the ON position once he starts up.  Whistleblower ITSELF is like listening to Alex Jones, if the roided up gorilla knew the first thing about computers.  Considering he doesn’t know the first thing about FROGS, I imagine he doesn’t stand a chance, but I’ve been proven wrong before, so…

So yeah, they really went all out with this audiobook.  It’s just too bad this thing ended up being such a fucking headache to get through.  I’m genuinely impressed with myself that I made it through this book.  If it weren’t on my cell phone, I’d have probably chucked this fucking thing against the wall at least twice in the process of reading it, it was so tedious.

I can’t recommend this book.  At all.  Don’t get suckered into the dare.

Oh yeah, this book actually dares you to read it at the beginning.  Did I forget to mention that?  You know you’re going to be in for a bad time when the author of the book has to DARE you to read his own book.  You DARE people to read Battlefield Earth.  You DARE people to read The Naked Lunch (spoiler: it’s not as sexy as you think it’s going to be).  You DARE people to read Confessions of an Economic Hitman.  You DARE people to read The Satanic Bible.  You DARE people to read Atlas Shrugged.  If you have to DARE people to read YOUR BOOK, that doesn’t reflect all that good on you as an author.

So yeah, don’t accept the dare.  Just walk away, and find something else to read.  It’s not worth it!

The Golem and the Jinni: My Thoughts

I pose this question to you, dear reader: Have you ever read a book that had a good idea, an interesting story, and had everything going for it…  But you just can’t get in to it despite all that?  You know in your heart of hearts this story is good, but you just can’t get anything out of it?  This is basically my relationship with The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.

The plot is pretty straight forward.  Some guy in…  I guess it’d technically be Palastine at the time the story takes place?  Either way, he makes a golem: a construct of clay and other assorted materials that is brought to life for the single purpose of serving its master.  Unfortunately, this golem’s master suffers a heart attack on his way to America, and now the golem is forced to wander around 1910s New York wondering what it ought to do with all this confounded freedom.

Elsewhere, a jinni from the Syrian desert is released from his prison, and finds himself just as puzzled about what to do with his newfound freedom.

Eventually, the two meet…  And that’s about as far in to the story as I got.  I don’t know why, but despite this interesting premise, I just couldn’t get in to this story.  I ended up setting the book down around chapter fourteen, and I haven’t picked it up since.

This isn’t really a review, so much as it is me wondering out loud if I’m weird.  I’m sure everybody’s encountered this at least once with a book, or a movie, or a TV show, or literally any other form of entertainment. This happened to be mine.

Furthermore, I’m apparently the weirdo because literally everybody else I’ve talked to loves this book.  Even if they didn’t finish it at the time I spoke to them, they just adore everything about this story.  And the strange thing is that I agree with them on just about every point.

The only real negative I can think of is that the story has a hard time staying on topic.  Yeah, ME, the guy who prides himself on his barely coherent stream of consciousness both in his blogging and his podcast, is criticizing someone for drifting off topic.  But I stay pretty coherent in my story telling, at least.

This book will focus on the golem, or the jinni, as it should.  It’ll also focus on the golem’s maker, and the man the jinni is working for in exchange for room and bord, which is understandable.  I’m going to guess people like the Syrian doctor turned ice cream maker has something to do with the plot, because diversions like his seem flat out unnecessary.  The author explains his story from his days as a doctor all the way to how he came to live in New York making ice cream, and all I can think is “Um, weren’t we talking about a fucking golem and/or a jinni three pages ago?”.

I am on record saying nonsequential story telling is a bit of a pet pieve of mine.  Flashbacks are fine (lord knows I’ve used flashbacks in my writing before), but for fuck sakes, tell the story in order!  You’re not deep, you’re not smart, you’re a pretentious douchebag!

Other than this major nitpick, though, this is a story I know I should like…  And yet, I don’t.

The audiobook is narrated by George Guidal.  I think he’s narrated a couple other books I’ve reviewed here, and liked, which is equally puzzling.

This might be one of those moments where I suggest just picking it up for yourself.  Clearly, I’m no help.