Circe: My Thoughts

I don’t want to say I hate this book, but I find myself trying to go through it, and thinking about all the OTHER books on my audible cue I could be listening to instead.  Partly because I’ve been dying to read The Little Book of Hygge, and The Six-Gun Tarot since I got them, but mostly because this book is dreadfully boring as fuck.

I’ll be honest, Greek mythology is probably my least favorite mythology.  I might as well include Roman mythology in that slot as well, considering they’re literally the same fucking thing with different names.  I’ve always found Norse mythology the most interesting, followed more or less by Celtic.  Hindu mythology is also pretty fascinating in a way, particularly in how it tends to mirror the old testament in an aspect or two.  Greek mythology, though…  I remember this was the mythology they banged into my head in school, and frankly, I can only hear so many variations about the fall of Prometheus, or the story of the minotaur, or that guy who has to spend eternity pushing a giant rock up a hill, only for that rock to squash him and roll all the way back to the bottom when he gets there before it gets tedious.

The book basically tells the story of Circe from Circe’s point of view.  We hear all the stories from her perspective, such as the sentencing of Prometheus, the birth of the minotaur, the sailors she turns into pigs…  Oh, and by the way, I almost ended up putting the book down entirely out of suspicion I was about to receive YET ANOTHER god damn third wave feminist lecture on how all men are disgusting swine.  The pun is probably intended, which would’ve made it worse.

Look, I get it that this is how the original story went.  More or less.  I’m pretty sure Madeline Miller took some liberties with the myths in order to make the story make sense.  I just have a hard time believing that when the first group of sailors showed up to her island, then found out she was the mistress of the home, they went all rapy in 0.00000001 seconds.  It was literally “Hey, we’re all having fun with wine and steak!” to “Ima rape you!” in the blink of an eye.  Yeah, sailors are horny, and women are few and far in between, but that was just whiplash right there.

Then again, what the fuck do I know?  According to every third tweet on my newsfeed, I’m clearly wrong about anything and everything because I have a penis, and the fact I try to explain things from a LOGICAL standpoint is instantly labeled “mansplaining” and I should just shut the fuck up and embrace my future as livestock.  I really need to unfollow that transwoman.  Or stop getting on Twitter.

ANYWAY!

I’ve really tried to soldier through this book.  Thankfully, any hints of third waver propaganda tucked away in a retelling of a Greko-Roman myth are, at best, a phase Circe goes through as a result of meeting the wrong crew of sailors first.

If there’s really one thing working against this book…  Really, it’s just that it’s so unbelievably boring.  This whole autobiography just drags on and on, and it’s rarely interesting enough to read more than one chapter at a time.  Believe me, The Dark Backward was less of a drudge than this book.  And I actually LIKE The Dark Backward.  For some reason.

I’m not sure how much of this was the story itself, and how much of it was the reader of the audiobook.  Perdita Weeks’ performance is like one of those ASMR videos on YouTube people apparently put on their phone when they’re trying to sleep.  Say for some shouting matches here and there between characters, this reading is dull.  It’s like trying to listen to The Draconis Memoria all over again, except this time, the reader is female.  And the story is somehow MORE of a chore to get through despite being SHORTER than The Draconis Memoria.  Really, pick a book in the series: they’re all bricks, near as I can tell.

Believe me, guys, I really tried.  I really did.  Even if I’m not huge on Greko-roman mythology, I wanted to at least feel like this book was worth the read.  Unfortunately, the further I get into it, the more I find myself really wishing I was reading something else right about now.  Or shit, I could be working on MY OWN books right about now.  Lord knows I’ve been juggling projects like crazy these last couple of months.

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The Countdown to Reedstinkction

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of the season.  That magical time when Chiefs fans do everything they can psychologically to somehow delude themselves into thinking that somehow, this will be the year we win us a Superbowl.  Unsurprisingly, I know better.

There’s two kinds of chiefs fans out here in KC:

A. The realists.  The ones who cheer for the home team and love it when they win, but are more than willing to point out all the flaws, and don’t get their hopes up unless there’s actually a chance.

B. The delusional idiots who, near as I can tell, make “Yenser Nation” over in Pittsburgh look like the audience at an L.A. Chargers home game by comparison.

Yeah, I’m not drinking the flavoraid.  There’s a reason I’ve affectionately referred to The Chiefs Kingdom this year as “The Cult of Mahomes”.  I was originally going to call them “The Mahomies”, but I was afraid of that catching on in a nonpejorative, term of endearment sort of way.  Make no mistake, you’re idiots, and I will have no sympathy for you when we blow it in the playoffs again.  And note that I said WHEN.  Because we’re gonna.

The big story of The Chiefs this year, as I said earlier, has been Patrick Mahomes.  Believe me, I want to jump on the hype train.  I want to give The Chiefs the benefit of a doubt.  I want to throw caution to the wind, and believe that somehow, all it took to make KC great again was a rookie QB who spent the majority of his first season with us on the bench.  I want to believe…  But I can’t.

I WILL give the devil his due: Patrick Mahomes has been one of the best quarterbacks this team has seen in years.  I’ve heard sports radio personalities out here liken him to, and even claim he’s surpassed the legendary Joe Montanna on occasion.  Honestly, I’d have to take their word for it on the grounds I was more of a baseball kid when Montanna was playing football, but I’m assured the dude was a legend.  And Patrick Mahomes has definitely been one of the better aspects of The Chiefs in recent years.

It’s just too bad that our defense is made out of fucking cardboard.  True, we’ve been winning some tough games, and wracking up some impressive scores, but honestly, these scores are WAY too close.  The first time we beat The Raiders this season, it was 40 to 33.  The Raiders have been hot garbage this year, and really had no business getting 33.  Especially since in the second go-around, they only managed to get a fieldgoal against FIVE TOUCHDOWNS.  And that’s just ONE example of how defense turned a guaranteed squash into a game that was WAY more competitive than it had any right to be.

Also, if the past has taught us anything, The Chiefs fall victim to what one of my favorite sports YouTubers calls “Reed.exe”.  I refer you to last year’s game against The Titans.  Let’s be frank: The Titans didn’t win that game, The Chiefs lost that game.  Even speaking as someone who has The Titans as his OTHER favorite team, I can say with certainty that this was the case.  The Chiefs had a dominant lead over a team that a lot of people said didn’t deserve to even be there at the playoffs, and they just came unglued in the second half.

Similar problems have plagued this team, and honestly, you can’t even blame the coaching of Andy Reed for a lot of it on the grounds this habit of ours has been around LONG before Reed was even considered for a coaching position.  It happened under Todd Halley when we managed to wrack up a 10-6 season with Matt Cassel as QB, and then managed to get curb-stomped by The Ravens.  It happened in 2006 when we got equally curb-stomped by The Colts (having Peyton Manning as their QB didn’t do us any favors, either).  I’m assured it’s been going on even earlier than that, for that matter.

So no, I’m not entering the compound.  I’m not singing the praises of his holiness.  I’m not getting to my knees and kissing his ring.  Why?  Because I know better.  I know we have the bye, but I’m already predicting something is going to go wrong, and the very next day, sports radio is going to be full of armchair coaches telling everybody exactly what’s wrong with the team.  That love for Mahomes will go the way of our love for Alex Smith, Matt Cassel, Brady Quin, and god only knows how many other QBs we’ve decided were the second coming of football Jesus.

Really, it could be anything.  Reed will probably decide he needs to be the one making plays like last year.  Maybe the football gods will be just as ruthless as they were in Reed’s first year and injure about six of our A-list players in one quarter again.  Maybe The Chiefs will just outright forget how to play football and let whoever wins the upcoming game between The Colts and The Texans pants us.  I’m not saying I know HOW we’re going to blow it, but I know for a fact we’re going to blow it.

In fact, here’s a deal for you guys who think I’m just talking shit.  if somehow, I’m wrong, and The Chiefs make it past the AFC championship, I will change my name on Twitter to Patrick Mahome’s Biggest Fan for a month.  Bank on it!  And if we win The Superbowl, I’ll extend that all the way to the beginning of the next football season.  Bank on that, too!

Of course, if The Chiefs don’t even make it to the AFC championship, let alone win it, I in turn reserve the right to write another ten paragraphs worth of “I told you so”.

Whether I’m somehow proven wrong, or if Reedstinction takes place once more, these are my terms.  I don’t normally whore myself out, but in order to see if this bet works the way you think it will, be sure to follow me on Twitter @ThomasJBlack1 to see just how much humble pie I’ll end up eating.

Till then,I remain the skeptic.  All the while knowing that I may’ve put my foot in my own mouth by doing this, and leaving me wide open for karma to come along and kick my ass.

2018 in Review

In less than 12 hours, 2018 will be gone.  And I have to say, 2018 has got to be one of the best years that I’ve ever had.  Mostly on a personal level.

I suppose the big news is that in 2018, I found a new apartment.  It’s closer to my job, which means I spend significantly less on Uber rides to and from work.  It’s a lot nicer than my old place, and it doesn’t have the lingering stink of…  Whatever that was.  And perhaps best of all, I got this place all to myself!  It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to walk around my place butt-ass naked if I so choose.  And I’ve chosen to a couple times.  You’re welcome for that visual, by the way.

Yes, dear reader, I’m on my own.  Meaning that my roommate of many years and I have officially gone our separate ways.  There was no bad blood between us, there was no falling out…  Everything is fine between us.  To be fair, in the grand scheme of things, we were never really friends.  We were just a couple of people who needed a place to live, and couldn’t afford it individually.  We knew there would come a day when one of us was going to leave, and the other would have to find a replacement.  I just wasn’t expecting to have to leave my cat behind with them.  I’ll miss you, Peppy.

But yeah, new apartment!  It’s actually a pretty nice apartment, too.

And less than a month after I moved in to this new place of mine, I met the woman who’d become my current girlfriend.  We started talking over OKcupid in July, met in person around August, and in early October, we decided to be exclusive to each other.  Does it seem a little fast?  Hell, I don’t know.  The longest relationship I’ve had prior to my current one has been about three months.  And that particular girlfriend dumped me because I had the audacity to consider voting Garry Johnson in the 2016 election.  Longtime readers of this blog know I eventually changed my mind and wrote in Bernie Sanders, but I never got the opportunity to tell her that.  Although I’m thoroughly convinced that wouldn’t have done any good on the count my ex was a loud-and-proud “Clinton or GTFO” type.  But I digress.

It is through my current girlfriend I’ve learned a lot about the world of social services, the traditions of quaker Christianity, and…  um…  Certain aspects of myself that I wasn’t entirely sure about.  Let’s just say if you’ve been a long time reader of this blog, you’ll notice a certain musing from 2017 got deleted a few months ago.  Largely because I have those answers now.  But I digress.

2018 saw the release of three stories from yours truly.  The Majin Among Us was my NaNoWriMo project from 2017 that had, in one way shape or form, been on my mind for the longest time.  Sarah’s Phone is both the latest addition to my Novellas of Highfill, Kansas, and probably the most depressing thing I’ve written since…  Well…  The first Novella of Highfill, Kansas, really.  And of course, the story I’m probably the most proud of (for some reason), Realm of the War Pigs: book 1 of The Highway Men.  Book 2 is currently in the works, as well as a couple other ideas.

Yeah, 2018 was the year I tried my hand at juggling projects.  Results have varied.

2018 WAS going to be the year I got into graphic novels again…  Except it looks like that graphic novel project might have fallen through.  I never heard anything one way or the other about it after I got recruited for it, and wrote a few pages for them.  I don’t know.

2018 was the year a lot of good albums came out.  Bad Wolves dropped a spectacular debut album.  Ghost released their best album to date.  Disturbed…  Came out with something as well.  Godsmack…  Oi.

2018 probably marks the end of my Godsmack fandom.  Frankly, “1,000 Horsepower” should’ve been the red flag to end all red flags that this band is going to suck from now on.  Add on that puzzling solo album Sully Erna put out, and the stories I heard about Another Animal getting sabotaged right out the gate, I’m starting to wonder if I should even hang on to the GOOD Godsmack albums.  I’ll probably expand on these thoughts later on in another OP ED, but for now, maybe the legends shouldn’t have risen.

2018 was also the year that I got into Twitter.  And thoroughly regretted it throughout most of it.  Probably shouldn’t have joined up during an election year.  Also, as much as I enjoy MovieBob’s reviews on Geek.com, maybe following the guy on Twitter wasn’t such a good idea after all if I didn’t want my Twitter feed to become a place to find the loudest neoliberal claptrap I could possibly find.  Seriously, guys, you make me embarrassed to admit out loud in public I vote democrat.  I’ve never been more tempted to bitch someone out in my life more than that one time I found a guy who tweeted something along the lines of “moderates are just more tolerable conservatives”.

And yet, I still prefer Twitter over Gab.  I can’t say I agree with the far left all that often, but I’m willing to concede that the difference between the far left and the far right is that the far left at least STARTS OUT within the realm of logic before drifting off into god damn Bat Country.

Also, 2018 was an election year.  And frankly, I’m just glad the election is over now.  More than ever, politics has felt like an exercise in agony.  I’d rather have my nuts bitten off by crocodiles than spend any more time listening to a bunch of mongoloids from CNN spend five hours talking about the latest Donald Trump tweet these days.

Also, this year had some of the worst reelect Kevin Yoder commercials I’ve ever seen.  Seriously, it says a lot about your campaign when your attempts at editing Charice Davis speeches to make it look like she’s saying incriminating things made your average YouTube Poop videos look like Michaelangelo sculptures.  I’ve liked Kevin Yoder better than I’ve liked most other republicans, but after that laughably terrible attempt at a reelection commercial, that guy DESERVED to get kicked out of office.

And speaking of Kansas politics, remember when Greg Orman took votes away from Laura Kelly, and handed the entire election over to Kris Kobach?  Except the exact opposite ended up happening instead, and jesus Christ you people are fucking idiots.

Yeah, I was kind of bummed out about the end result.  Really, though, things could’ve been a lot worse.  To quote my own Twitter: “I’m disappointed Laura Kelly won, and I’m thanking merciful god that Kris Kobach lost.”  Technically, that’s a bastardized Orson Scott Card quote about the 2012 election…  But it’s basically how I feel.

2018 did have its share of downs, though.

For starters, net neutrality got repealed, and I’m already seeing the effects of it.  My phone bill went up a whole twelve dollars a month, and Verizon is literally making no effort to explain why.  Hell, when my electricity bill went from eighty a month to a hundred and ten a month for that period of time between July and September, the electric company at least made an excuse.  Specifically, everybody was turning their A.C. up, and the demand was difficult to maintain without raising prices.  Is it a GOOD excuse?  Maybe, maybe not, but at least they made the attempt.

I also feel sorry for anyone who has cable through Time Warner, because with net neutrality gone, AT&T ate Time Warner almost instantly, and wasted little time fucking over their customers with “new premium plans”.

And it sounds like 2019 is going to see a crusade against “text neutrality” next.  Hope you aren’t part of a political party that opposes Ajit Pie, because important communications regarding your next rally might end up getting labeled as spam.  But that fucking chainletter I keep getting will be fine, so hey, at least there’s that.

2018 was also the year that Bret Cavanaugh got elected to the supreme court.  Let’s just set aside the rape alligations, and any stories, memes, and what not relating to “The Devil’s Triangle” for just a moment.  Even if those alligations are one-hundred percent fabricated, I still want Cavanaugh as far away from my supreme court as humanly possible.  My inner conspiracy nut who lives in perpetual fear of the conservatives dismantling the American government and replacing itself with a sort of Christian tallaban has gone into overdrive these last couple of years, and that guy’s nomination to the supreme court has NOT done these paranoias any favors.  Rand Paul once proudly declared “keep your government out of my god.”  Fine.  Just do me a favor, and keep your fucking god out of my government, you evangelical lunatic!

But aside from a couple of concerns like this on the grand scale, my 2018 has been pretty good on thepersonal side of things.  Compared to the slow, mindless, agonizing drudge that was 2017, 2018 has been quite the ride, and I’m actually looking forward to what 2019 has to offer.

 

The XFL is Going to Suck. Again.

At this point, it’s becoming an extremely tired expression about how “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.  And yet, here I am, finding myself commenting on the resurrection of the XFL.  Because THAT was something the world needed: a terrible football league full of mostly terrible ideas that wasn’t all that good the first time around.

Frankly, I wouldn’t even comment on this…  Except I’m seeing a strange amount of enthusiasm from people on both my friendlist on my personal Facebook as well as my Twitter feed.  Largely because these people don’t really strike me as people who exactly want to see the XFL so much as they want something to point at and say “see?  This is what REAL football looks like!  Not like those stupid Marxist lefties keeping America from being great again with their fucking kneeling.”

All I’m going to say is this.  If you’re happy the XFL is giving your city a football team, fine.  If you’re legitimately curious to see if the XFL is going to be just as disastrous as it was the first time, also fine.  Hell, if you’re sick of the fact the entire NFL season has basically degenerated to “Oh boy!  I cant wait to watch The Patriots win ANOTHER superbowl!”, I might even sympathize with you.  Unfortunately, I feel like a lot of people who are jumping on board aren’t jumping on board for any of these reasons.  Rather, it’s pretty obvious that the XFL is going to be like the Gab.ai or the Bitchute of football: a haven for ultraconservative, red hat wearing dipshits to hang out and talk about how much they love the flavor of Donald Trump’s penis.  Because Donald Trump himself told them they have to boycott the NFL because black lives don’t matter more than scoring touchdowns through the goal basket.

Oh, and semi-related note, that’s why they’re kneeling.  At least that was why when I was paying attention, anyway.  I don’t know if it’s metamorphed into anything since, but they DEFINITELY weren’t kneeling because they wanted pay raises and more vacation time.  That sounds idiotic and made up, but I promise you, I heard some coworkers throw around those exact accusations in the break room back when the kneeling phenomenon was fairly new.  Another reason I say that if you’re going to be a hater, the absolute LEAST you can do is do your fucking homework.

Okay, getting back on track.

Even if XFL doesn’t become the MAGA football league, I will legitimately be shocked if this league lasts more than a year.

I would like to think Vince McMahon has learned his lesson from last time.  I doubt highly there will be any “beginning scurmishes”.  Not to mention #MeToo would probably crucify the camera man who tried to get an upskirt shot of anyone on the cheerleader squad this time around.  Considering Vince’s kids and his son-in-law more or less run WWE now, Vince won’t have to juggle the world’s most popular professional wrestling promotion and the world’s shittiest football league at the same time anymore.  Hell, maybe they won’t get professional wrestling commentators to commentate a sport some don’t even know how to call!  Partly because they aren’t football guys, and possibly because the XFL is a whole other game from traditional football altogether.

It also helps the XFL that NFL attendance has gone down in the 2010s.  Whether it be because the previously mentioned fact every season has officially become a question of how The Patriots win this year, or because streaming platforms are more convenient and usually cheaper than cable (at least until Ajit Pie’s master plan comes to fruition, but that’s a rant for a whole other day)…  Or yes, because cult45 stopped buying tickets, the fact remains that the NFL is not doing as well as it has in the past.  In 2001, the NFL was the superpower in professional football.  The only league that could even BEGIN to compete was probably up in Canada or something.  In any case, in 2020, the NFL’s stranglehold on the sport is as loose as it’s been in decades, leaving plenty of opportunity for challengers.

And if that challenger had been LITERALLY anyone else, I’d actually be intrigued enough to trash this op ed right now and embrace the opportunity.  But it’s the fucking XFL!

Even with the state the current NFL is in, even with the lessons of the past being learned and worked into the second incarnation, the XFL is still the XFL.  The stink of the original’s failure still perfumes the air, and while newbies wonder aloud who farted, those of us who lived through the first XFL season in real time know exactly what that stink is.  And a lot of us are smart enough to know that it isn’t worth it.

The 2010s have been about the reboots and revivals more than any other decade.  However, the vast majority of reboots and remakes are based on properties that ACTUALLY SUCCEEDED the first time.  The original Ghostbusters is a classic.  The original Mighty Morphing Power Rangers was a smash hit in its day.  Invader ZIM has a massive cult following to this very day.  Dozens of 80s hair metal bands are still around today because they were generating hits left and right.  So forth, so on.

As much as I’ve railed against memberberry culture and Generation: Nostalgia in recent years, I can at least see the mindset.  Unlike all those other examples, though, the XFL was a complete and total disaster the first time.  So why in the reddest corner of hell would you ever think this was a good idea a second time!?

In the longrun, all I can really say is I will put money on the table that says that the XFL doesn’t live long enough to see 2025.  If I’m wrong, then I owe a certain someone on my friendlist over on FB a steak dinner.

The Shivering Truth: My Thoughts

First off, I thought for sure Adult Swim was something I was going to have to say goodbye to when I moved to my new place, and gave up cable.  Then I realized months later that I could just download the app, and watch it all on my cell phone.  Suddenly, I feel kind of stupid for having DVDs of Adult Swim shows.  Although now I have to watch my favorite shows on a tiny-ass cell phone screen instead of a decent-sized TV, and I’m fairly certain the shows on the app are still censored…  But I digress.

This revelation came up at a good time, because Adult Swim’s latest show, The Shivering Truth, was coming soon.  And boy, did this show look strange.

I know, right?  A strange show on Adult Swim?  Next thing you know, I’m going to point out that the sky is blue or something.  But trust me, The Shivering Truth has got to be the single weirdest thing I’ve seen in a while.

There wasn’t a whole lot of information on the show available beforehand (though I admit to doing a bit of a halfassed job of looking), but the fact the show is claymated caught my attention almost immediately.  Claymation impresses me.  Whether it be an impressive feat of stop-motion like the Wallace and Grommit movies, or something dumb like that one guy on Newgrounds who used to make claymated flash cartoons that mostly consisted of little blue lumps with arms and legs saying stupid shit only a fourteen-year-old on the internet would ever think was funny, I’m a sucker for Claymation.  It’s probably why Dino Stamatopoulos is one of my favorite creaters as far as Adult Swim shows go.

Then I saw that the show was made by FFMR: a production company with quite a few shows on Adult Swim.  And…  Well, let’s just say my enthusiasm for this show decided to pace itself a little.

You can do worse than FFMR (cough cough Tim and Eric cough), but at the same time, they’ve had more misses than hits.  For every Delocated, there was The Heart She Hollar.  These people also gave us Xavier: Renegade Angel: a show that seems to have developed a cult following in recent years.  And I’m still trying to figure out why.  The show sucked when it was new, and it sucks over a decade later.

So yeah, consider my confidence in The Shivering Truth officially dampened.

I eventually got around to checking out a couple episodes on the Adult Swim app, and…  Well…  It was a lot more humorous than I thought it was going to be.  Admittedly, I was expecting something a little more serious than I got, though.

Whatever it was I was expecting, this isn’t it.  This right here looks like David Lynch decided to direct a season of Robot Chicken.  It’s basically sketch comedy…  Or sketch something.  There’s definitely multiple sketches per episode, and the only thing that really ties everything together is something like how everything in one episode is the dream of a random ant.

I’m honestly still trying to make up my mind on whether or not I like this show.  Therefore, all I can say is you may want to see it for yourself.

The Aversion to Inclusion: a Theory

So yeah, how about that Last Jedi?  Never have I seen a more polarized reaction to a Star Wars movie in my life!  Usually, Star Wars is universally loved, or universally hated.  If there has ever been any polarization, it’s been a lot more civil than it has been lately.

Here and now, I don’t hear a lot about it, but when the movie was in theaters…  WOO!  People were pissed.  And everybody else was pissed that those people were pissed.  Then I joined Twitter, and found out that this was another instance of war were declared.

At first, I didn’t get it.  I mean yeah, gatekeepers within the fandom aren’t especially new to the 2010s (another reason I feel like this decade was a mistake), and I’ve seen my share of hot button topics in other fandoms.  But it seems like The Last jedi just brought out the worst in everyone.

And a popular point of debate is yet another gemstone of the 2010s: inclusion.

The Star Wars franchise has basically been the boys club for the longest time.  True, there was Leia, and…  Uh…  Whatever her name was in Return of the Jedi who was explaining the rebel forces’ mission (I seriously can’t remember her name, assuming they ever gave us one).  And that was basically it.  Leia was around, and she contributed, but all the focus was on either Luke confronting Darth Vader, or Hahn and Chewie being badass while C3PO acted like an absolute fop, R2D2 helped where applicable, and Leia…  Did stuff too, I guess.

The only woman in the prequel trilogy was Padme, and her only real contribution to anything was being Anniken’s girlfriend/wife.  There were lady jedis, but the focus of the entire story was mostly on Anniken and Obewon.

Really, the only woman who contributed anything to anything was probably either Ahsoka, or Asaj Ventris from The Clone Wars.  And that’s assuming you consider Clone Wars to be canon.

Jump forward to the 2010s, and the new trilogy.  And HOLY SHIT!  There’s women now!  Rae is not just one of the good guys, she’s THE good guy.  Holy shit, there’s multiple women within the rebellion who contribute things to the plot!  Well what about the bad guys?  Surely that’s still all dudes who…  NOPE!  There’s a badass bounty hunter who, in core concept is basically Boba Fett after getting rule 63ed, but holy shit is she awesome!  She’s got the fucking Masterchief battle armor and everything!

So yeah, there’s a lot more women in Star Wars now.  And a lot of people are pissed about it, apparently.  But why?

Well, when you take away the assholes who make up the MAGA crowd being all MAGA, and the more valid complaints that Rae basically Mary Sues her way through the force, I have a theory about this.  Is there any validity to this theory?  Hell if I know, but allow me to lay it out before you bitch me out so viciously.

Really, what makes someone a nerd?  Exclusion.  Exclusion from all the the cool kids’ activities.  Everybody wants to be the cool kid, but only a select few ever get to be.  And usually, the ones who ARE elected the cool kids end up being absolute dicks.  The cool kids only want like-minded individuals, or at least syckophants willing enough to play the part to be in their group.  They don’t want a bunch of nerdy bullshit in their club, and back then, Star Wars was nerd city.

The nerds, dejected by their failure to belong, seek escape.  Star Wars provides them with an escape.  It gives them Luke Skywalker.  Or shit, maybe even Anniken!  I’ve heard that attitudes towards the prequels are starting to soften.  Or at least, towards episodes 2 and 3, anyway.  But I digress.

The nerds embrace this franchise because the characters are relatable, the story is epic, and it provides them with something that gives them comfort, and maybe even a reason to live.  Yeah, the cool kids won’t let me drink beer with them at Vince’s house, and the hot chick won’t let me anywhere near her because I wear glasses, but here in the Star Wars galaxy, I can fight stormtroopers and hang out with an awesome wookiee companion!

High school ends, and time moves forward.  The nerds discover that computers are becoming more and more commonplace in society.  Furthermore, the guys who were the cool kids in high school suddenly begin to realize that once we’ve exited the aquarium known as high school, and entired the ocean…  Well, the ocean isn’t nearly as cool about things as the aquarium was.  The nerds have all the power, and the cool kids are basically pumping gas for a living.  JUSTICE!

But despite this paradigm shift of sorts, you never forget your roots.  You and your friends went from the geeky kids getting swirlies in the trrlet, or getting bodychecked into the lockers for not being cool like us cool kids, to the thirty-somethings doing computer stuff that makes you the most useful dudes in society.  Maybe you’re working on top secret computer equipment for the CIA or NSA.  Maybe you just got hired to fix Ms. Johnson from next door’s computer, and found out the only thing wrong with it was that she switched off the powerstrip by mistake.  Either way, you nerds of yesterday have more influence now than you used to.  Hell, the cool kids of the current generation hold significantly more respect for nerds, knowing that they may have to depend on you one day.  Now it’s the theater kids’ who get swirlies in the trrlet, and bodychecked into lockers.  But that’s beside the point.

Regardless of what you do professionally, you never forget.  You and your friends still talk about Star Wars to this very day.  You check out all the new movies and TV shows, you post fan theories on message boards or Facebook groups…  Hell, maybe you even write fan fiction.  The important thing is Star Wars was the geeky little obsession that helped you cope.  It gave you something to look forward to when you got back from school, it gave you something to talk about with friends, and it factors in to your identity as a human being.  Because apparently we do that now in the 2010s, hyperfocus on our identity.

And speaking of the 2010s, the 2010s come along, and you begin to notice a new trend: inclusion.  You’re starting to notice more media is beginning to include black characters, gay characters, trans characters…  And yes, even nerd characters.  This seems fine.  These communities have been pretty poorly portrayed on screen over the years, and you can sympathize with the fact they’ve ALSO been excluded, or portrayed as the punchline of every joke about their community.  So good on them for finally getting some positive portrayals in media.  I mean yeah, there’s The Big Bang Theory, but everybody hates that show.  It’s like the Will and Grace, or BET of nerddom.

But then, Hollywood discovers the delicious flavor of memberberries.  They become addicted to the delicious taste of nostalgia, and begin remaking movies left and right.  Including several nerd franchises like Transformers, Robocop, and so on.  These remakes all suck.

As time progresses, the remakes only get worse.  Furthermore, the inclusion concept becomes less of a concept, and more of a fad.  Suddenly, all the Ghostbusters are chicks, Dr. Smith from Lost in Space is a girl, the yellow ranger from Mighty Morphing Power Rangers is sort of an allegory for transsexuality (according to a fan theory I read once), a popular British comedy movie gets remade shot for shot but now has black people instead of British people…  Not only do these remakes suck out loud, but inclusion slowly but surely becomes a dirty word.

Hollywood isn’t interested in catering to the fanbase it established with its original versions.  Rather, they’re interested in bringing in NEW fans.  Specifically, bringing in a variety of new fans.  Including the very people who used to give you swirlies in the trrlet and bodychecks into the lockers.  Suddenly, the franchises you’ve known and loved are now the stomping ground for the very people who made it their mission in high school to ostracize you, exclude you, and remind you that you’ll never be one of them.

Star Wars too falls victim to remakxploitation.  Episode 7: The Force Awakens, is basically episode 4 with better special effects and, gasp, inclusion!  There’s a lot more women than there used to be, there’s black storm troopers…  I vaguely remember the fan community theorizing Po and Finn were going to shack up at one point, but I think The Last Jedi shattered those hopes the moment Rose got introduced…  But I digress.

You have been conditioned to hate inclusion, because inclusion is a gateway for those very people who hated you, ridiculed you, and made you unwelcome in an environment you had to go to come in to YOUR domaine.  So what do you do?  Well, you COULD be the bigger man, and welcome the new fans with open arms…  Or you can do what the vast majority of Twitter seems to be doing, and keep the gate.

And thus, we find ourselves where we are now.  The nerds have become the cool kids, and the cool kids have become the nerds.  In this new age, words like DIVERSITY and INCLUSION have become dirty words.  Because according to the current gatekeepers, “where the fuck was all this inclusion and diversity when I was the one getting my ass kicked?  Huh?  Where was inclusion when I was being excluded from literally everything, you fucking dicks?”  And as a result, we find that no real peace has been established, but also, that the pendulum has swung to the other side.

But that’s just my theory.  This is coming from the guy who was absolutely wrong about the summer of 2018 being “The Summer of Math Horror”, after all, so maybe take this with a grain of salt.

Crazy is My Superpower: My Thoughts

For the longest time in WWE, the term “women’s match” was code for bathroom break.  It was a bit of a joke we, “the WWE Universe” had for the longest time…  Except after reading this book, I’m not entirely sure we were the only ones making that joke.  Or that it even was a joke in the first place.

Women’s wrestling IN GENERAL has had to make a lot of progress.  Especially after The Attitude Era basically reduced it to glorified cat fighting and bikini contests.  True, there were women like Lita and Molly Holly, who busted their asses and put on some pretty good matches…  But there were also people like Candis Michelle: a woman whose resume prior to WWE included “that video on PornHub where in I let a guy lick my feet for ten straight minutes.”

By the way, that’s actually a thing.  If you have to ask how I know that…  Let’s just say that’s going to do wonders for the foot fetish rumors.

Eventually, the WWE went PG.  Whether it was damage control following the horrible murder suicide of the Benoit family, or the fact Linda McMahon was on the verge of running one of the most laughably doomed senate campaigns in history at the time, who can say.  All I know is suddenly, matches were stopped the moment a wrestler started bleeding, DX started hanging out with a fucking leprechaun, and the top guy in the company was a whigger who dressed like a fucking seven-year-old with the most annoying entrance music since The Right to Censore.  Except at least with The Right to Censore, you could argue it was on purpose because they were the bad guys.  That little trumpet sample still haunts my nightmares.  All you people bitching about Roman Reigns being the handpicked guy…  I mean yeah, it sucks cronyism is once again in full effect, but compared to John fucking Cena, I’ll at least tolerate Roman Reigns.  At least he looks the part.

Oh, and also as a result of the PG era, women’s wrestling got REALLY AWKWARD.  They hired a bunch of models to basically look sexy for the camera…  Except with a PG rating, you really can’t be all that sexy.  The one time they tried a swimsuit competition in the PG era…  Well, let’s just say I hope you’re in to legs, because that’s about as much skin as you ended up getting.

By this point, the only women who were worth a damn were Natalia Neidhart and Beth Phoenix.  As much as I want to include Layla in that mix, I’m seriously one of those people who believes Team LayCool were TOO good at the heel role.  I could write a whole article on that alone, but I’m already having a hard time keeping my head in the game.

This situation was all in large part a result of The WWE Diva Search: a competition that started in 2004, continued into 2005 and I think 2006, and resulted in other models who couldn’t even SPELL wrestle, much less ACTUALLY WRESTLE, getting employed with the company.  In time, you saw fewer wrestlers like  Molly Holly and Victoria, and more “divas” like Kelly Kelly and the fucking Bella Twins: women who were hired for their looks…  And not much else.  No joke, Kelly Kelly once talked about how “Rafiki” inspired her to take up the stinkface as one of her signature moves.  For those out of the loop, she meant Rikishi: a four-hundred pound samoan whose ultimate claims to fame are portraying a headhunter, a sultan, and spending the last years of his active WWE career as a fat guy in a sumo thong that rubbed his butt in everybody’s face.  Look, I’ve forgotten about my share of professional wrestlers in my day (I didn’t even know Cizzarnie was a thing until I saw an article about him on Wrestlecrap.com), but despite being basically being a ginormous butt joke for the remainder of The Attitude Era, Rikishi was pretty well known.  How the fuck do you botch that!?

Enter AJ Mendez-Brooks: better known to “The WWE Universe” as AJ Lee.

AJ Lee, from what I remember of her, was a real “blink and you’ll miss it” sort of wrestler.  She wasn’t in WWE especially long, and I think she only ever had one or two divas championship reigns.

Ugh, the divas championship.  Can I just get this out of my system?  I know, I know, I’m just all over the place in this review.  Stream of consciousness is a bitch.  Also, I’ve had this in the proverbial shotgun for years now, and what other chance will I have to unload this shot?

The divas championship was fucking stupid.  No, seriously, it had to be the lamest title belt WWE had ever created.  When your division’s championship is so lame and tacky that Whigger McGee’s retarded little spinner belt has more credibility, yall done fucked up A-A-RON.  Hell, at least John Cena was the only one who ever carried around the spinner belt.  And maybe Rob Van Dam for a while, but I digress.  Every woman on the roster had to deal with the fact this joke of a title the fans affectionately referred to as “the butterfly belt” represented their entire division, and they had to put up with it for years!  And considering the previously mentioned Natalya and Beth were the only wrestlers worth a damn in the division at the time, it just seems like icing on the cake.

Okay, I’m done.  I’ll try to get back to the book review.  Key word is TRY.

I’ll own up to have only seen AJ Lee on the main roster.  It didn’t really occur to me that I could look up Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) on YouTube…  Nor did it interest me, really.  I also own up to not watching the NXT season she appeared on after hearing it was going to be between divas.  Sue me: the words “diva’s competition” in that era of WWE programming filled me with dread and loathing.  What does it say about your program when heel Michael Cole wailing on a gong that he just happened to have near the commentators’ booth for no explainable reason is the most entertaining part of your show?  And the only reason I even knew about THAT was because it was a meme for about a week or two.

So yeah, I don’t know a whole lot about AJ Lee’s past.  I just know she was one of the EXTREMELY few women on WWE programming who could actually wrestle, she was definitely the SHORTEST woman on WWE programming, and that the smartmarks absolutely loved her.  Which you’d think means WWE creative HATED her, considering how they’ve treated audience darlings like Zack Ryder, Daniel Bryan, and currently Becky Lynch…  But I actually got the impression there was more indifference than anything else.  And not even towards AJ Lee herself.  As far as they were concerned, she was another woman trying to enter a division where your only requirements were look pretty, pull off maybe two or three halfway decent looking wrestling moves, and try not to be too shocked when Kelly Kelly ends up rubbing her flat bony ass in your face.

The book seems to focus more on AJ Mendez-Brooks growing up than it does on her wrestling career.  Partly because, as I said before, her career was surprisingly short.  It was sort of the inverse of Bob Holly’s Hardcore Truth in the sense she accomplished a shit ton in just two or three years.  Also…  Well, I think it goes without saying, the story of growing up in the Mendez family is a lot more interesting.

I don’t want to get too deep in this, but I know what it’s like living with a parent with…  Issues.  Granted, I don’t know what it’s like having a psychotic mother checking my period blood to make sure it’s actually period blood and not a broken hymen, but I do know what it’s like having to spend your entire day walking on egg shells, knowing that you’re either going to get the happy joke time family member, or the pissed off at everyone and everything family member who watches your table manners with a sniper scope, just waiting for you to make a mistake so they can just unload on you about how “it’s like you’ve never eaten in front of real fucking people before!”.

Also, unlike the Mendez family, I was an only child in a family that, while far from rich, was definitely financially stable.  I’ve definitely never had to go dumpster diving for furnature for an apartment that we’d eventually be getting kicked out of.  Although I DID scavenge my current computer desk from a curbside, but that doesn’t even come close.

This is truly an amazing story, if only because it’s so depressing that this is how some people are forced to live.  Being so broke that family won’t even take you in, dumpster diving for basic essentials, having a bipolar mom who was gracious enough to pass down her bipolar disorder to you…  This is the sort of life I pray I never have to live.  And she survived it all.

Whether it be her family life, or her time as a wrestler, AJ Mendez-Brooks’ story was gripping, and engaging.  Right up until the last couple of chapters where in I got an EXTREMELY lengthy feminist lecture.

On one hand, UGH!  I GET IT!  Men suck!  Straight white men in particular.  Lord knows I don’t get enough of feminist Twitter filling my newsfeed with their bitchy, angry, “stop mansplaining stuff!” tweets that remind me of this.  Semi-related note: why did I want a Twitter account again?

On the other hand…  There are some stories within the lecture of sorts that creep even ME out.  And you should see some of the shit I have in my Audible.com account if you want to talk creepy.  The most horrifying anecdote, hands down, is the story of how a hotel manager broke into one of the women’s hotel room at 3:00 in the morning.  That is just wrong on SOOO many levels.

I find myself once again asking myself: “Am I really part of a fringe minority of men?  A fringe minority who treats women with respect, understands that nobody wants a dick pic, and that nobody likes being patronized?”  Trust me, as someone with a vision impairment, I get my share of patronizing bullshit, so maybe I’m more aware of what constitutes patronizing comments?  Seriously, what the fuck?

Much like Bob Holly’s Hardcore Truth, Mendez-Brooks peppers in little interludes.  Unlike Bob Holly, who mostly decided to talk candidly about certain wrestlers and the business, Mendez-Brooks fills these segments, titled Diary of an Unfit Mind, with therapist homework, messages to a future child, and other amusing little tidbits.  The one that made me laugh was when she encouraged her future child not to worry about people googling their mother’s name with the word “ASS SHOT”.  I don’t really remember AJ Lee having much in the way of a butt-oriented gimmick.  Personally, I’d much rather be the proverbial fly on the wall when Brooke Tessmacher’s kids get old enough and discover people on YouTube have made ENTIRE MONTAGES of their mom stinkfacing random women back when she wrestled for IMPACT.

The book is read by the author, which is always a positive for me.  Also, her performance is probably one of the better ones I’ve heard in my time collecting wrestler autobiographies.  I’ve mentioned before that as much as I love Jim Ross, it’s very obvious that he was reading from a script.  I’ve also mentioned that in Daniel Bryan’s autobiography, he reads like he really wants to get this over and done with.  But Mendez-Brooks?  Her reading of her book felt genuine.  It felt like she actually wanted to be there, and wanted to give the audience a memorable performance.  Definitely a plus.

All and all, this book is worth your time.  I highly recommend it.

The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell: My Thoughts

It could just be my specific little corner of the internet, but it seems like everybody and their fucking mom is in love with this show.  I’ve seen several people tweeting about it on Twitter, I’m pretty sure a coworker or two have brought it up in conversation…  Basically, there’s a considerable amount of hype involved here  And that’s usually what turns me away from shows.

I’ll own up to being a bit of a contrarian when it comes to stuff the mainstream loves.  I think I’ve made it clear at least once how I feel about Orange is the New Black and Moonrise Kingdom.

Also, we’re talking about the internet here.  Outside of shopping, pornography, and shopping for pornography, the internet is a wasteland of pop culture references, horrendous spelling errors, and constant negativity.  Oh, and I guess ASMR, too, but mostly the other stuff.

The internet at large tends to be fond of a lot of things that make me hang my head in shame and regret spending so much time here.  It’s thanks to the internet that My Little Pony, a show intended for seven-year-old girls, has a fanbase consisting almost entirely of thirty-year-old men.  It’s thanks to the internet anybody actually remembers who Rick Astley even is.  And while it’s a bit of a jump from point-A to point-B, I have to point out that it was the internet that showed me the definition of “voreraphilia”.  I am never looking at that episode of Mighty Morphing Power Rangers featuring The Terror Toad the same way ever again.  But I digress.

So naturally, when the internet decides it loves something to death…  I generally avoid it.  Easier said than done, considering that when the internet loves something, they meme the shit out of it.  The same way they decided to meme the shit out of something they HATE.  Which really makes things confusing in the grand scheme of things…  But again, I digress.

I resisted as long as I could, but in the end, I caved, and I checked out a few episodes of The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell.  And…

*sigh

Okay, internet, you win.

This show, in short, is what I imagine it would look like if Mortisha Addams had her own cooking show.  And that cooking show was written by the same people who wrote Food Party.  By the way, if you’ve never seen Food Party, you totally should.  True, Curious Creations isn’t NEARLY as twisted as Food Party.  Whether or not that’s a GOOD thing or not is probably up for interpretation.

I’m usually not all that fond of shows that play up the creepy and the spooky for camp value…  Well, okay, I proudly admit to liking The Addams Family, but aside from that, I usually think shows that go for that angle tend to be more tacky than anything else.

Curious Creations isn’t without its cheese, but the balance between dumb jokes and fascinating crafts is very well done.  I do think they abused the “who is she talking to?” joke a little bit in the first couple of episodes, but even then, it’s still amusing.

Christine McConnell herself is a terrible actress…  But I’m a bit convinced she’s reading her lines the way she does on purpose.  Not to mention that this is a cooking and crafts show at heart.  A high budget cooking and crafts show featuring muppets, but a cooking and crafts show all the same.  So maybe as far as line reads go, maybe set your standards a little lower.

It’s a pretty episodic show (something unusual for Netflix originals), so there’s really no insentive to bingewatch it.  On the other hand, I don’t mind that at all.  Lord knows the last thing I need right now is ANOTHER show to bingewatch after work.

I’ll own up to not being much of a cook outside of flipping burgers and boiling pasta…  And there’s no chance in hell I’ll ever get gutsy enough to try some of the recipes Christine McConnell shows us on her show.  But it’s still pretty fascinating to watch her make things like gingerbread haunted houses, or shortbread Ouija boards.

Overall, I say give it a watch.  Even the internet is allowed to get one right every now and then, I guess.

Nevernight: My Thoughts

“It’s like Harry Potter, but with assassins instead of wizards,” was how a member of my book club described The Nevernight Chronicles.  Why not?  They sold me Space Opera by telling me it was basically that episode of Rick and Morty with the giant head shouting “SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT!”.  So I burned an audible.com credit, and bought myself a copy.

I’ll admit, I was keeping my expectations fairly low when I went into this book.  Primarily, because I’m pretty sure this same member of the book club recommended another book for the club, and I don’t think I liked it.

Also, I’m fairly certain this book is young adult, and if there’s anything I find more tiresome in the 2010s, other than Dubstep, using high tech state of the art gaming consoles to make 8-byt Metroidvanias, “trap” music, the rise of memberberry culture, the Trump presidency…  Huh.  You know, this entire decade seems to be pissing me off, come to think of it.  But another bulletpoint on the list is the young adult genre.  Not DEMOGRAPHIC, but GENRE.

The young adult genre anymore can easily be defined as “Oh boy!  I can’t wait to see how the pink-haired protagonist escapes their dystopian situation while simultaneously juggling a love triangle for an entire fucking trilogy while writing in the present tense this time!”.  Although in more recent entries, I’m noticing the whole “writing in the present tense” thing is dying out.  And thank god.

Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight has hints of young adult cliché within it…  And yet, I ended up loving this book.

Nevernight takes place in a universe with three suns, no moon, and the actual concept of night (IE, true dark) is a rare occurance.

There’s a lot of lingo to learn in this book, but it rarely fills like an infodump.  Even when the author himself is going out of his way to infodump.

Half the time, though, I have to wonder if the new lingo is all that necessary.  True dark and nevernight make perfect sense, but then you get into words like justikis, and emperitor.  Oh, and I’m making educated guesses on those spellings on the grounds I had the audiobook.  But seriously, what was wrong with emperor?  What was wrong with justice?  I can’t tell if we’re trying for pseudo Lattin, real lattin, or if Kristoff felt like he had to make this world as alien as possible.  In the case of the third…  Fair enough, but there’s something to be said for “keep it simple, stupid”.

The balance between humor and dead seriousness…  Could’ve probably used some tweeking in spots.  I understand the need to explain certain elements of the universe (IE, what is a “sand kracken”), but a lot of the time, I feel like someone REALLY wanted to be Douglas Addams.

There are a couple clichés that made me sigh in annoyance.  IE, the FRIangle: my most hated of tropes.  I didn’t predict right away that Tric was going to be the forced romantic interest, but it reached a point where the writing was on the wall a few chapters before the the main character and her FRI are forced to boink.

And can I just say: holy fucking hell the sex was graphic in this!  Believe me, I’m no prude.  If anything, I probably included WEIRDER shit in my fiction (my inner critic still insists I have a foot fetish after The Gael Saga).  At the same time, though, the last time I encountered a sex scene this graphic, I was still reading fan fiction.

Five bucks says he probably included the pairing of Tric and Mia boinking so the fanfic writers wouldn’t feel obligated to ship them themselves.  Then again, there’s probably that one weird group of writers who think Mia and Jezemin (again, I’m guessing because audiobook) should be a couple.  Trust me, they’re almost definitely out there.  And they vote.

It sounds like I’m giving this book shit, but trust me, I actually liked this book a lot, despite these complaints.

Also, as far as cliché goes, the book goes way out of its way to swerve you.  There’s really no way to explain this without giving away a spoiler like “don’t get used to Tric”, or the old cliché of the bitchy rival character stealing the main character’s notes after fooling her into thinking Tric wants to spend the evening boinking…  Only to find out that the notes they’d stolen weren’t the right ones, and they end up dying in poisons class as a result.  That one actually made me very happy: partly because I just wanted to see that asshole get his come-uppins, but also because I actually didn’t see that one coming for a change.  I’d say more, but I fear I already spoiled too much.

The audiobook is read by Holter Graham.  I feel like I’ve heard that name before.  For sure, he sounds like the kid with the pop-collar shirt in Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil.  In any case, he does a pretty good job.

If not for the beginning and ending of the book, though, I’d have found it surprising they picked a male reader to read a book from a female protagonist’s perspective.  It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve encountered this, but it’s a pretty rare occurance these days.  Hell, even in the dark days of four-sided cassette tapes, I rarely encountered this.

All and all, the book isn’t perfect, but I still enjoyed the ride from start to finish, and I still recommend you check it out.  Apparently, book 3 doesn’t come out till 2019, which, if nothing else, gives me yet another thing to look forward to in 2019.  In the meantime, I think I’ll give book 2 a try.

In Defense of Richard La Ruina

2018 is many things to me.  I’ll save about 99% of those things for around new year’s week, when everybody and their mom is talking about their 2018, but for now, I’ll let you in on this much.  2018 was the year I discovered Richard La Ruina existed.

For those out of the loop, Richard La Ruina is a “pickup artist”.  This raises red flags for a lot of people right out the gate.  He talks a lot about how he went from awkward spaz to one of, if not THE greatest pickup artist of our generation.  I can’t verify any of that, since all I have is his personal testimony, but I went into this a lot more open minded than a lot of people seem to be.

in 2018, Richard La Ruina put out Super Seducer: a game for STEAM, and possibly PlayStation4 (last I checked, it wasn’t out yet), where in you try to seduce hot women.  Based on your choices, La Ruina explains why your choice is either a bad idea, or a good idea.  Some choices are so obviously wrong that La Ruina himself basically looks at you, and says something along the lines of “Admit it, you picked that one on purpose just to see what’d happen, didn’t you?”  Based on what little I’ve seen of the game (I’m entertaining possibilities of streaming it for my YouTube audience of, like, three people if and when it hits PS4 and I have the money for it), it plays less like a video game, and more like an edutainment game for adults.  If you get a question wrong, it kicks you back to the choices, and you try again.  Hell, they even cross out the choice you previously made that ends up being wrong.  There’s really no consequences for getting a question wrong, near as I can tell.

Naturally, the Let’s Play community of YouTube got a hold of this game.  Hell, how do you think I saw it?  And…  Yeah, the reaction has been pretty outright negative.  Not just to the game, but to La Ruina himself.

Based on what little I’ve seen, I’ll grant you the production values of the game aren’t exactly going to give Ubisoft or Electronic Arts  a run for their money.  Also, while La Ruina is an expert at seducing women (apparently), film is clearly a different story.  But hey, I’m not picking up an adult edutainment game like Super Seducer to be blown away by blockbuster film editing, triple-A gameplay, and mindblowing experiences that make me think there might be something to this “video games as art” concept.

Also, to the LP community…  Are you really this surprised?  Really?  He’s a fucking pickup artist!  Sorry you decided to spend your own money on a game called Super Seducer and didn’t get fifty hours of third wave feminism lectures.

Knowing that it was going to be a while before I could play this for myself, and knowing that a Super Seducer 2 is in the works as of this writing, I looked into Richard La Ruina.  Yeah, instead of hiveminding with the cool kids, I decided to go gonzo, deviate from the norm, and actually formulate my own fucking opinion based on what I myself have observed.  What a foreign concept in this age of Twitter.  But I digress.

Along with the Super Seducer series, La Ruina has also written a couple books.  One of which was available on Audible.com.  Meaning that my blind ass doesn’t have to recruit friends, or pay a dude on Craigslist to read it to me.  Always a plus.

I picked up The Natural a month or two ago, and I’ve been reading it off and on.  I usually stop for a while when I get to the assignments: partly because I’m reading something for book club, partly because I’m brushing up on Egyptian history for a project that might or might not be happening anymore, but mostly because educational books like this (even if the education itself is of a dubious nature) requires me to take breaks and digest what I’ve learned.  I’m up to assignment 4 as of this writing, and I got to say…  This isn’t the worst advice I’ve ever heard.

Taking a lot of his advice out of its intended context of “use these tricks, and hot chicks will want to bob on your knob”, a lot of this stuff is actually good advice.  IE, project confidence, be assertive, don’t fidget, etc.  I’ve been dating off and on since college, and these are all lessons I’ve learned for myself in one way or another.  Though the intent may seem dubious for some, it’s really not bad advice.

The assignments in the book are usually confidence builder exercises like “develop affirmations” or “take an improv class to work on your improvisation skills”.  These are all pretty good ideas!

So far, if there’s only one fault with the audiobook, it’s that La Ruina himself doesn’t read it.  I’ve expressed before that this is a bit of a downer when reading someone’s biographical account.  However, the guy reading the book, Steve West, isn’t a bad reader by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard him before.  In any case, it’s a minor bummer at absolute worst, and I eventually got over it.

I’m actually liking this book.  I don’t think I’d have ever picked it up if I hadn’t seen those Super Seducer videos on Pro Jared Plays, weird as that sounds.

That being said, I can definitely see why the internet has decided to pick on La Ruina.  Not necessarily for his advice, or the fact that his Super Seducer video games aren’t really video games so much as they’re FMV quizzes.

As it turns out, La Ruina is apparently not the best at taking criticism, constructive or otherwise.  Taking advantage of YouTube’s broken copyright claim system, he’s done what many famous YouTube trolls have done over the years, and filed false copyright claims in order to take down any negative reviews people have made.  And believe me, the reception to the game is pretty negative.  This is the kind of dick move that kills any respect you may have generated dead right here.  If it had just been a pickup artist putting out a lackluster gaming experience with ideaology that offends everybody’s neoliberal sensabilities, and nothing else came of it, I’m sure the community would probably think higher of the guy.  Not MUCH higher, but Super Seducer probably wouldn’t be as infamous otherwise.

Furthermore, I’ve heard that in the upcoming Super Seducer 2, there are ways you can deviate from the task of picking up chicks altogether to seek revenge against the more popular YouTubers who have criticized La Ruina.  I’ve heard you can supposedly launch a nuclear missile at Jim Sterling.  I’ve heard Pro Jared is in there too somewhere.

This right here is the sort of passive-aggressive bullshit that does NOT win people over to your side.  If anything, it only stirs the pot even further, and recruits people over to THEIR side.  I get it that a pickup artist is too busy getting laid on a weekly basis to pay attention to internet culture, and thus hasn’t learned the extremely valuable rule of “don’t feed the trolls”, but even then, you’d think a guy who specializes in this sort of thing would be used to rejection by now.

of course, as of this writing, a lot of it is just hearsay that I picked up from Jim sterling’s Twitter.  I don’t know how accurate it is, but Jim tends to be pretty straight forward, so I’m not going to be all that surprised.

So after all of this, where do I stand on La Ruina?  Well, honestly, I’m mixed.

On one hand, it’s not hard to see why the internet has decided they hate him.  He comes from a world where the end game is one-night-stands, and things like equal rights and what not are a bit of a nonissue.  Also, as I said earlier, the guy clearly doesn’t take criticism well.

On the other hand…  I can’t bring myself to hate the guy.  Yeah, he’s a sleezy, passive-aggressive fuckboy…  But in the grand scheme of things, he’s mostly harmless.  It’s not like he’s running for congress or anything.  [INSERT DONALD TRUMP JOKE HERE]  Also, if you calm your inner PC bruh the fuck down, and actually give the guy’s book a chance, you might be surprised.

Then again, this wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been part of a fringe minority, so I won’t be surprised in the slightest if I’m officially the third most hated person on the internet after posting this.  I say third because Bret Cavanaugh, and Linsey Lohan (believe it or not) have apparently set the bar pretty high as of this writing.