Addicted to Dating?

I’ve had an OKcupid account for the better part of three years now. I’ve deactivated and reactivated it on several occasions throughout those years. In 2016, it was because I found someone who could put up with my dumb neurotic ass for more than one date. Usually, though, it’s closed because I get ghosted repeatedly and thus get mad at the fact that I’m apparently not worth so much as a generic “this isn’t going to work” message that a fucking autogenerator can produce in seconds, I close the account saying “This time, I fucking mean it!”, I spend a couple days to a couple weeks in the pit of perpetual depression and ennui, and then reactivate the account despite my previous intention to close it and keep it closed, and convince myself that somehow it’s going to be different this time.
The fact I’ve been doing this for three years should convince the most spectacular of all flunkouts from any given science program that it’s never different. It drives my roommate insane when I go into the pit. My friends have urged me to give up on OKcupid. One friend in particular has suggested I just give up on dating altogether and embrace the single life. Even my mom thinks I “need a new hobby”. By all accounts, all of these people are probably right… And yet, I just keep going through with it.
The thing about OKcupidis that, unlike any other dating site I’ve used over the years, I actually get results. I had a plentyoffish.com account for about the same amount of time as my OKcupid account, but I didn’t take it NEARLY as seriously because in that entire time, a grand total of ONE PERSON ever responded to me. I had a Match.com account for a grand total of nine months. I met people on there, but I had to pay to use their service. It’s hard to commit to something that has a monthly fee looming over head. Probably why I never got into MMOs back in the day, although just as much of that was because I didn’t have that kind of money. For Match.com, or for MMO games.
OKupid, in short, has been the best of both worlds: it’s free (mostly), and I actually get results. Disappointing, self-esteem crushing results it seems, but results all the same. And I think that’s why I keep going: because I get just enough results to give me hope, but not much in the way of legit success.
After nearly three years of disappointing dates, getting ghosted, and spam-likes from some asshole in Kernie, Missouri who doesn’t seem to get the hint that I’m not going to fall for their obvious fake profile (and even if it’s real, I’m not going to god damn Kernie , Missouri if I can avoid it), you’d think I’d quit by now. Shit, I quit playing Gems of War a month after I bought it, and that ended up being MORE of a headache than this. But For some reason, I just keep coming back to this dating site!
After thinking it over for a while, I can’t help but come to one conclusion: I have a gambling problem.
Dating is a lot like gambling: it’s a complete and total crapshoot, the house always seems to win, and there was a point where I was convinced the dice may be loaded. And yet, like that slot machine that occasionally gives me back all the quarters I put into it and dares me to keep going, I keep putting money and effort into it thinking this time I’m going to hit the jackpot. Hell, almost a year ago, I thought I DID hit the jackpot. But I’ve been over that in my 2016 retrospective.
The thing is I’ve been to casinos, and never really got hooked into any of the games. Half of the games the local casino offers are games I’ve never even heard of. I played slot machines, but didn’t really see what the big deal was. I played a round of craps, and ended up finding it more tedious than anything else, what with the fact you have to roll over and over and over again until you either make point, or seven out.
I get obsessed with a video game from time to time, but have you seen video games lately? It’s just as much of a game as it is a cinematic experience. I’m more obsessed with seeng how the story ends than I am with actual rewards. Especially since a lot of games think fucking concept art is a reward. Maybe if I were an artist, but I’m not. So no, no it fucking isn’t.
Dating, or really on-line dating, is a different story. I don’t know why I keep coming back to this when it clearly isn’t working, but I do. My roommate is on record saying I seem to have developed an unhealthy laser focus on the idea of having a girlfriend. Except really, I’m not even sure that’s what it is anymore. Sure, that might’ve been the endgame back when I started… But now, I think I just want to roll the dice for the sake of rolling the dice.
I don’t know. It’s 2:00 AM, I just got through telling someone that they really should’ve indicated on their profile they had kids from a previous marriage, and I really have a bad feeling I’m a week away from explaining all this to a therapist or something. And I don’t exactly have money for a therapist, but it seems like this may be on the horizon no matter what I have to say. I can smell the intervention all the way from here.

My Adulthood Experiences with D&D

Dungeons and Dragons.  Admit it, you’ve heard of it.  Lord knows I’d heard of it.  For the longest time, though, my experience with D&D has been pretty…  Mixed.

I’d first heard of Dungeons and Dragons when I was a wee little lad, living out in Western Kansas.  Western Kansas, for the record, is the single reddest part of one of the reddest states to ever red.  Meaning that if you ever brought up D&D, regardless of context, you’d be getting a lecture about how it was the work of Satan, and all yall chilins should shut the fuck up and read your damn bible.  I didn’t see the connection as a kid, but I ended up following the advice on the grounds adults are smart, and always know what they’re talking about.

Then I got older.  Suddenly, I realized adults aren’t all that smart.  I mean shit, most of them voted for Bush.  Twice.

I also quickly learned that individuals who declare that “[X] is the work of the devil” are either VERY poorly informed, or sanctimonious pricks.  They said D&D promoted Satannism, but they also said Harry Potter promoted Satannism.  Because apparently, Jesus is the only person allowed to cast spells I guess.  They said Pokémon promoted Satannism.  I’m still trying to figure out how they came up with that one, honestly.  These same people said stuff like The Life of Bryan was blasphemous, and that The Da Vinchi Code needed to be boycotted, and that The Passion of the Christ was the single most important movie ever made.  Life of Bryan is hilarious, Passion of the Christ was nothing but a two hour snuff film starring Jesus, and…  Well, The Da Vinchi Code wasn’t great, but heaven forbid something come along and challenge your perspective on life.  Slowly but surely, I was starting to realize these people were either stupid, or sheep.  And let’s be honest, sheep aren’t very smart to begin with.

But I’ve already gone on that tangent about my time in Christianity, so let’s move on.

of all the things I did as a teenager that were in blatant defiance of the right-winged, uberchristian culture I was born into and forced to endure, picking up Dungeons and Dragons actually wasn’t it.  I didn’t think it was a product designed to promote Satannism…  But it was pretty damn nerdy.

Evidence may suggest otherwise (especially in hindsight), but I never really considered myself a nerd in high school.  I wasn’t good enough at sports to be a jock, and a lot of sports were out of reach for a one-eyed individual such as myself.  I wasn’t a goth kid, because my family had a dog that shed like crazy, and black clothes were a magnet for white fur.  I wasn’t a theater kid, though lord knows I tried.  I wasn’t a cool kid, because to this very day, the more popular something is, the more I tend to avoid it like the plague.  I wasn’t a hit with the ladies…  Partly because impaired kids are NEVER a hit with the ladies, but mostly because I wasn’t a people person back then.  In a lot of ways, I’m still not.

The only REAL clique I truly fit in with were the kids I dubbed “the metal clique”.  They were like goths, but the music was better, and it was less “the world sucks and I want to die”, and more “the world sucks and I want to burn shit.”  They were like jocks, except none of us were ever going to medal in anything.  Depending on your taste in metal, you could probably mesh with theater kids, though you’re a lot less interested in acting out The Crucible, and more interested in recreating something you saw GWAR do on stage.  Not entirely sure if anime is TRADITIONALLY part of the metal culture, but Yu Yu Hakusho was considered quintessential.  Largely because we were all Yusuke Urameshi.  But I digress.

You’d really think something like Dungeons and Dragons would appeal to a group like this.  It had metal imagery like dragons and epic battles resulting in massive carnage and bloodshed.  Blind Guardian, and other bands of that subgenre wrote songs based on D&D, and D&D esque franchises like Dragonlance, or Lord of the Rings.  And of course, the Christians hated it.  Sounds like the perfect match…  Except nobody was even remotely interested.  We may not’ve OFFICIALLY been the cool kids, but we weren’t about to get bumped to the same table as the nerds for fuck sakes.

I didn’t show any REAL interest in D&D until my adult years.  And even then, I didn’t start out with D&D.

Somewhere around 2013, my friends and I tried our hand at the ole tabletop RPG.  However, we went with Shadowrun.  It had cyberpunk elements, which one of my friends was, and still is into.  I myself was also interested in Shadowrun for more or less the same reason at one point.  So we ended up trying our luck with Shadowrun.  And…  Honestly…  It was a disaster.

One of our friends didn’t get the concept of rollplaying at all.  The GM didn’t really explain the rules, character customization, or really ANYTHING all that well, and in the end, we just made shit up and rolled D6 for everything.  The campaign we ended up picking at first was clearly not intended for beginners.  In fact, reading a little more into Shadowrun, I’m starting to think Shadowrun IN GENERAL isn’t for beginners.  I know for sure it’s the one D-20 game I’ve ever seen that doesn’t use a D-20.

So yeah, our attempt at a Tabletop RPG group was pretty much the equivalent of giving birth to a stillborn baby: a lot of pain and agony for a result that left a lot of us depressed for weeks at a time, wondering where the hell we went wrong.  What, too dark?  The original line was going to involve compare it to performing a wire hanger abortion on yourself.  And it’s at this point I realize I’ve been watching WAY too much Zero Punctuation.

Though our group didn’t succeed, like, at all, I still found the concept of the tabletop RPG intriguing.  It also helped that around the same time, The Spoony Experiment, and a couple other TGWTG personalities I liked at the time were trying THEIR hands at…  I think it was Pathfinder?  Either way, as I watched, and learned the rules, I realized something: this game is actually pretty fun when everybody knows what the hell they’re doing.

My friends and I haven’t tried a D-20 game since, but I’ve still found myself interested in the world of D&D.  I’m far from the most knowledgable person on Earth, even after three or four years of on-again-off-again research.  It also doesn’t help they put out new editions every seven or eight years or so, and change FUCKING EVERYTHING in the process.  In any case, I find myself making D&D characters in my spare time on occasion.  I imagine up a campaign idea that, with a large degree of effort, could actually become something worthy of recording and posting on-line.  Hell, I even listen to a podcast that’s basically a dude and his friends playing the game!

highly recommend this podcast, by the way.  It’s pretty entertaining.  Even when they aren’t playing D&D and just talking about video games or whatever.  Bird is my favorite. 🙂

One day, I may find a group of like-minded folks who’ll welcome my novice ass into the fold, and I can actually try this out.  If nothing else, it gives me a reason to buy that Cthulhu dice set and dice bag.  Till then, my fascination is more of a spectator sort of thing.

A Week of Bumble

If you’ve never heard of Bumble, imagine Tendr if it were yellow and themed after bees.  If you’re not familiar with Tendr…  Well, I’d say something about you being super out of it, but frankly, I’m a bit of a dinosaur myself, what with my OKcupid account and all.

I heard about Tendr through Aziz Ansari’s book Modern Romance.  Before I go too far off topic, I recommend getting the book.  Even if he decides to bitch out all the people who got the audio book.  Because apparently you’re fucking lazy or illiterate if you get an audio book.  Yeah, everybody knows blind people don’t listen to audio books.  They’re too busy learning sign language down at the circus!  Asshole!

Tendr, in short, is a dating app that many have jokingly referred to as a cell phone game.  Except after playing with one of its clones, I can’t guarantee it’s a joke anymore.  You swipe left when you aren’t interested, and you swipe right if you ARE interested.  If a person you right swiped swipes right on your profile, then you can talk.

Bumble works exactly the same way.  The one key thing that seperates it from Tendr, though, is that women make the first move.  The guy can right swipe, and the woman swipes right if she likes your profile.  However, the woman starts the conversation regardless of whether she swiped right first, or you did.  And there in lies the fatal flaw of Bumble.

Go ahead and call me a sexist pig if you have to.  Considering I voted Sanders in the 2016 primary, and refused to see the new Ghostbusters movie due to its gender swop premise, I’m already batting zero.  Really, it’s been my personal experience women don’t want to make the first move.  The guy always has to be the one who goes out of his way to get noticed.  If this weren’t true, I’d probably have a lot more people on the dating sites sending me winks, or likes, or thumbs up, or whatever the site uses to show they’re interested but don’t have time for a message, or can’t think of anything good to say.  It could also be that I need to get rid of the beard, and that I need to get over this delusional idea mirrored sunglasses make me look cool, but this has been the case even BEFORE going through this phase of my life.

Women don’t want to make the first move.  In my entire life, there’s been a grand total of one exception to this lesson I’ve learned, and frankly, she ended up being a fucking trainwreck.  For everything else, I’ve had to be the one to make the first move.  And this is why the app is destined to fail.

The fact its rating went from a 4.1 to a 3.7 in the span of a week probably doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence, either.  But hey, I figured I’d give it a try anyway.  It’s free, so I don’t feel like I’m wasting any money on this ultimately fruitless endeavor.

So I downloaded it.  And I right swiped, and I left swiped.  The app provides very basic information: age, college they graduated from, job, and maybe a little blurb about them.  That’s it.  The information is so minimal, it’s almost not even worth looking at, honestly.  In fact, it pretty quickly reached a point where I wasn’t even reading the profile information, and was swiping right or left based entirely on the photo.  Which I guess is the point, but still, it seems kind of dumb.

It reached a point where I found myself more interested in the act of swiping right or left than in actually getting results.  Of which I got none, as I expected, but I digress.  It became less of an opportunity to meet some new people, and it ended up becoming something to distract a side of my brain while the other listened intently to the latest in The Expanse novels.  I guess this is what they meant by a cell phone game disguised as a dating site.

I complain about the lack of interest the community had in me…  Though if I knew it was going to use Facebook photos, I wouldn’t have wasted so much time trying to perfect the art of the selfy again, and picked some better photos than the ones the app picked.  I wasn’t wasted, or naked, or doing anything embarrassing in any of the photos they picked…  Though based on that commercial for Tendr, having a picture of you holding a cat apparently isn’t as appealing to women as I was led to believe.  So yeah, I had to delete that photo of me hanging out with my cat.  As well as two or three others that reminded me that I take a lot of photos while wearing sunglasses.  You’d think I was a cool kid from the 90s or something.

All the same, I really didn’t enjoy this app.  Gaming wise, it kept me distracted for a while.  In terms of meeting people…  Yeah, stick to meeting people in real life.  Or even the on-line personals.  Not this.  Never this.

American Labor Party?

The election is over.  About seventy-five percent of the people sending me petitions and requests for donations have either ceased operations, or I unsubscribed from them.  The remaining twenty-five percent, meanwhile, have reorganized their priorities now that the election is over in an effort that…  I hate to say, seems like an exercise in futility now that the republicans have everything.  Stranger things have happened, and as divided as the democrats are right now between Clintonite shills and Bernie backers, The Republican Party is actually just as divided.  That being said, I’m still bracing myself for anywhere between two to eight years of Christian tallaban rule despite these petitioners and their best efforts.

I bring this up, though, because one petitioner actually has a concept that left me scratching my head.  A petition is circling the net, and if it gets enough signatures, we might be seeing the beginning of The American Labor Party.

First of all, I’m pretty sure the labor party is a British political party.  Furthermore, I’m pretty sure the British Labor Party is basically the British equivalent of the democrats over here.  I could be wrong about that, though.  By all means, correct me on this.

As a third party man myself (Go Justice Party!  Rock the teal!), I can tell you right now that this is going to be an uphill battle.  The last time a third party had ANY success in America was Ross Perot.  Say what you want about Perot’s politics, personality, and the fact the dude could probably fly by simply flapping his ears, but looking back in 1992, you have to admit, he was a pretty influential figure.  It’s too bad The Reform Party fell to pieces like it did (thanks a lot, Buchanan), because if I were old enough in the 90s, I’d have probably registered as a Reformer.

All and all, you’re more than welcome to try, but I have a hard time seeing this new third party working out for anybody.  The Libertarian Party was at its most popular this election, but even THEY couldn’t win a single state.  And don’t even get me started on Garry Johnson again, or we’ll be here all day, and frankly, I have work in an hour.

But I suppose all of this has little to do with anything, because the most defining feature of any party is their agenda.  The democrats are…  Or WERE a home for lefties.  The republicans are home for the psychotic Christians and corporate tycoons who don’t want to pay taxes.  The libertarians are for those who want small government.  The Justice Party is home to people like me who are sick of corporate greed, government bureaucracy, and cronyism.  The Constitution Party (assuming they’re still a thing) want to preserve the United States constitution, and rule according to it and it alone.  The Freedom and Peace Party are communists.  And I suppose The Green Party is in there somewhere as well, but good luck figuring out what THEY want now that Nader isn’t there anymore.

So what will The Labor Party stand for?  At the time I’m writing this, your guess is as good as mine.  Although it was mentioned in the email that Bernie Sanders’ general philosophies are part of the foundation, so that probably speaks volumes all by itself.

Thing is, though, a lot of those philosophies are already part of The Justice Party.  Hell, The Justice Party themselves opted out of the 2016 election on the grounds Bernie Sanders basically wanted everything we wanted.  A decision that ultimately proved to be an exercise in futility, but I suppose in failing to get our guy past the primaries, this year was the opportunity we needed to build the foundation of our party a little more, and get the funding and support to get senate and house rep campaigns going.

So yeah, if you’re asking me personally, I can’t help but think this Labor Party might be a waste of time.  Maybe if The Justice Party collapses in on itself and kurplodes between now and 2020, I’ll think about it.  Assuming the effort for The Labor Party didn’t kurplode as well, at which point, I’m loudly and proudly independent again.

Still, it might be interesting to see what they come up with.

Is Scott Cauthon an Anarchist?

As I’ve said in a previous article, I’ve followed the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise for a while now.  And by follow the franchise, I mean I follow a couple YouTubers who more or less owe their fame and fortune to playing and over reacting (maybe) to the jump scares.  my shit eye sight is totally not up to the task of surviving ONE night at Freddy’s, let alone five.  It doesn’t help the cameras get fuzzier and glitchier with each installment, but I digress.  It’s been a fascinating ride that has only recently become a bit of a headache.

But the more I look back on FNAF, the more I find myself wondering out loud: is Scott Cauthon an anarchist?  It sounds a little far fetched, but hear me out.

Anarchism is the absence of any and all leadership.  Also known as “SHUT UP, MOM!  GOD!  STOP MAKING ME DO STUFF!  I can’t wait to move out of here.  I can do anything I want then.”

Oh yeah, I went there.  COME AND GET ME, RON PAUL!  But I digress.

Anarchy, simply put, means that there are no rules.  It perpetuates the belief that things are better when there’s no rules, no regulations, and no one telling you what to do.  It’s also been described as “The Purge year round”, but if you actually WATCH The Purge, it becomes very clear The Purge actually DOES have a rule or two in place.  REAL anarchy doesn’t even have limits on what caliber gun you can have, or who you can kill like The Purge does.

Scott Cauthon, among many other things, is famous for  his mini-games within the various FNAF games.

In FNAF2, you’re given short mini-games upon death that give you clear cut instructions: give the kids cake, give them gifts, “GO!  GO!  GO!”, etc.  You follow the rules, and what is your reward?  More jump scares.  Notice that jump scares in FNAF are your punishment.  They’re the games’ way of saying “Yall done fucked up, son.”  Except the only way to WIN the mini-games is to follow the instructions.  If you do what the game tells you, you get punished.  You can’t win.

In the case of FNAF3, and FNAF: Sister Location, you’re given mini-games that require you to go from the start to the goal.  Except if you actually follow the rules, and go from start to goal, you get nothing.  You get zilch, nada, goose egg, the big zero, an overdose of nothingness…  That last one might be a Tristania song, but all the same, you get squat.  Seems kind of pointless then, right?

But if you actually DON’T follow the rules, and DON’T go to the goal like an obedient little drone, you not only find alternate goals, but you actually get rewarded!  You get the good ending if instead of going from start to finish, you actually break the mini-game and go to the goal off screen.  If you ignore the goal altogether in the Sister Location mini-game, and instead bring the ice cream cone to the girl at the starting point, you get access to the restricted area.

Maybe I’m thinking a little too hard about this, but it seems to me that Scott Cauthon is encouraging, maybe even demanding that players stop playing by the rules, and intentionally go against everything they were taught to believe was right in order to get the good shit.  Don’t go to the OBVIOUS goal, because you end up with a whole bunch of nothing.  Instead, glitch the game, break the rules, give the authority that told you this is how you do it the finger, and find this goal over here, and you get everything your heart desires.  You get closure.  You get a good ending.  You get to see how your stupid soap opera with the vampire ends, and a new roommate!

The lesson I got from Scott Cauthon?  Well other than Chuck E. Cheese is fucking creepy at night, springlocks are a terrible idea, and purple people can’t be trusted, is fuck the rules.  The rules are a box, and you’ll eventually be buried in it.  Break the cycle, and overthrow the government!  Or at least don’t go for the obvious end with the big shiny sign reading “GOAL!”.  I’m pretty sure it’s one of those.

Agree?  Disagree?  Have no idea what I’m talking about?

America Loves Stupid People

Well the election is over.  And my personal Facebook is just flooded with rage, angst, and the occasional antiauthoritarian rant from this one guy.  Technically, that’s my personal Facebook REGARDLESS of what time of year it is, but today, there’s a theme.  And that theme is Donald Trump winning the election.

The trend continued onward in real life, too.  Everybody at my job was pretty much a zombie.  The most talkative guy I know, a guy I like to talk superheroes with on occasion, was probably the least talkative I’ve seen him.

I spoke to my mom tonight, starting off with “So…  How about that election, huh?”  According to her, one of her coworkers, no joke, came to work in widow weeds.  Another one just erupted into tears and angry shouting.

People are pissed!  People are shocked!  People are horrified!  And all I can say in response is…  Really?  You’re really shocked the stupid one won the election?  REALLY?!

Trust me, readers, I’ve followed politics since at least 2001.  Admittedly, back then, I was loud and proud blue through and through, where as nowadays I’m more teal (Justice Party colors), but regardless of what side of the fence you’re on, there is a lesson that needs to be learned.

I learned this lesson in 2004 when George W. Bush got reelected.  I learned this lesson when people like Parris Hilton and Linsey Lohan dominated the news, and I had to go to places like fucking Ogrish.com to find news on the war in Iraq.  I learned this lesson in 2010 when The Tea Party Revolution sweeped in and stole the house of representatives.  And now, I have learned this lesson in 2016.  And what’s that lesson, you ask?  America loves stupid people.

While I’ve made it very clear I was never Hillary Clinton’s biggest fan, that doesn’t mean I liked Donald Trump.  Frankly, I’ve always hated the republicans, where as it took a couple elections to become disenfranchised with the democrats.  Also, it’s Donald fucking Trump!  The man can’t even keep a casino afloat, and I’m supposed to trust him with the white house?  This election ALONE has proven that Donald Trump is, hands down, very tiny pussygripping hands down, a fucking mongoloid.  And yet, he won the election anyway.  And he won the election for that exact reason.

Back in 2004, John Kerry was our man.  To paraphrase a conversation that took place in Max Barry’s novel, Lexicon (great novel, by the way): “John Kerry is intelligent, he’s well-spoken, and that’s exactly why he ended up losing.”  Americans hate smart people.  Hell, have you heard us bitch about Obama?  He’s intelligent, he’s well spoken, and everybody here fucking hated him.  Some people insist it had to do with him being a socialist (which I don’t see at all), or being a tax-and-spend liberal, or even for being black.  But I’ll tell you right now, it’s not any of that.  It’s because Barack Obama is smart.  Okay, maybe the guy isn’t going to build a rocket any time soon, but he clearly graduated from college, and he doesn’t have the vocabulary of a fourth grader like Trump, and he isn’t famous for making up words on the spot like George W. Bush was in his prime.  And all I fucking heard from 2009 onward was how he was an overprivilleged dick who had everything handed to him.

Although, to be fair, I DO live in Kansas, and there aren’t many states redder than red fucking Kansas.Trump is an idiot.  America loves idiots.  Therefore, America loves Trump.  This isn’t algebra, folks.

Also, if you ask me personally, I think that WikiLeaks incident with all those emails really didn’t help Clinton any.  Even if I DID like Clinton (which I fucking don’t), I had a hard time believing she was going to win this election.  In fact, the only thing that really surprised me in the longrun was how unanimous it all ended up being.

So yeah, four to eight years of Trump.  America is going to go through some VERY interesting times.  Should be a riot.  I almost can’t wait.

Dreams are Fascinating Things

The last time I visited my mom, she and I did this survey.  It was this dumb little survey she probably found on Buzzfeed, or Quizzilla, or whatever.  It would determine what sort of witch you were based on how you answered the following questions:

 

  1. What color is your wand?
  2. What color are your eyes?
  3. What does your spellbook look like?
  4. What do you value the most?
  5. What animal companion would you favor the most?
  6. What is your favorite superpower?

My answers were “black wand”, “green eyes”, a blue book with some symbol my mom described very poorly (I’m guessing it was a pentacle?), “wisdom”, “a cat”, and “telepathy”.  And for the record, I picked “telepathy” because “shape shifting” wasn’t an option.  But that right there’s a rant for a different day.  When I picked those answers, it told me I was a “dream witch”.  Dream witches specialize in manipulating the dream world, and appearing in other people’s dreams.

I normally don’t put a whole lot of thoughts into those kind of surveys.  I don’t hate them by any means, but I don’t really think about it.  Hell, a third of the time, the answers are so obvious, I know how to manipulate the survey to give me the answer I want.  And that’s why I always fucking hated those career aptitude tests in high school.  This one, however…  Well, this one actually got me to thinking.

For as long as I can remember, dreams are something that fascinated me.  For a few months, I even kept a blog where I basically wrote about things I could remember from dreams, and tried to piece together what it meant while encouraging all my readers to lend a hand.  Sadly, the reader base for that little pet project was a grand total of zero from start to finish.  Not to mention towards the end, I was either forgetting ninety-nine percent of my dreams by the time I was awake and ready to write, or I was having nightmares revolving around that albino guy from The House of 1000 Corpses.  Again, that’s probably a rant for a different day.

In past story ideas, I’d often incorporated dreams in one way shape or form.  Maybe it was relevant to the plot, or maybe it was just a haunting vision of how things could go wrong that TOTALLY isn’t filler.  Either way, dreams did make up a good chunk of my earlier work.

A story I wrote in 2006 was based entirely around a demon a woman could only see in her dreams.  A demon that wanted to take over her body, and used traumatic memories and phobias to create personifications of everything she lived in fear of.  I’d ultimately deleted it halfway into the second draft on the grounds it seemed too much like Indigo Prophecy, though.  Honestly, a lot of my work in 2006-2007 felt like a ripoff of Indigo Prophecy in some way or shape.  I won’t lie, that game blew my mind when I first played it.  And as for the story itself…  Well, I’ve considered rewriting it.  True, ten years later, my philosophies towards life, the universe, and everything have changed considerably, and said changes might end up taking that character in a much different direction.  Either way, this was the backward dark before I even had a word for what it was.  Ten years later, the nightmares are bound to get even worse.  Either in terms of spookiness, or in terms of stupidity.

Even today, I occasionally incorporate dreams into my story telling.  To name a recent example, Gael.  As much as I’d like to talk about it here, Gael is still fairly new, and I’d like people to read it for themselves.

I’m not quite as passionate about the concept now as I was in the early days, but I still like the idea that dreams are trying to tell us something.  Maybe it’s a message from god, maybe it’s the spirits of Earth trying to communicate with us…  In which case, I think somebody needs some god damn Prozac, because my dreams have a tendency to be all over the god damn place.

I don’t want to dismiss the idea that dreams are simply a dumb little movie your brain puts on to distract itself while your body is recharging.  Sometimes, my dreams are complete and total nonsense.  At the same time, though, I’m not ready to accept that belief as truth.  I’ve made a decision or two based around what I saw in dreams, and it hasn’t necessarily steared me wrong.

I still find myself consulting dream dictionaries whenever I feel like someone is trying to tell me something.  It’s how I learned that having a pet polar bear in your dream means that an ordeal is coming your way, but you will conquer it.  It’s how I learned that seeing a snake in your dreams usually means there’s someone in your life you can’t trust.  It’s how I learned that giving someone a foot massage in a dream means you need to learn a lesson in humility.  Or that you’re a pervert, and you haven’t quite gotten over the fact you got dumped completely out of the blue by a girl you really thought you had something with.  Either one works for me at this point, though I can’t help but want to lean towards the former.

What say you, reader base?  Are dreams communications from a greater power?  An idle distraction your brain comes up with?  Complete nonsense?  Phillosophical gold?

 

Clinton Vs Trump: Whoever Wins, We Lose

It’s debate season over in the 2016 election, and frankly, I could not be more uninterested if I tried.  This is literally the single worst election I have ever lived through.  Seriously, even 2012 had the option of giving Obama four more years.  Not to mention the devil I knew wouldn’t fuck up every other thing he tried till 2014, so there was that.

I’m a libertarian for Bernie.  I make no apologies about that.  If being a libertarian who supported Bernie Sanders, then jumped back to the Johnson camp when I didn’t get Bernie Sanders makes me a retard, then sign me up for the next special Olympics.  I don’t agree with socialism, but as a co-worker once told me: “It really tells you how fucked up things are in our glorious capitalist society when a fucking socialist is the only one who’s making any sense.”

The democrats had every opportunity to give the people what they wanted: a charismatic, intelligent, well-spoken man with a lot of good ideas.  But instead, the blue party decided to fuck him over at every turn, and forcefeed their voters more of the same.

I fucking hate Hillary Clinton.  Even as a syckophantic, opinionless, “vote blue no matter who”, “a vote for Nater is a vote for Bush”, loud-and-proud democrat in 2004, I never liked Clinton.  In fact, it amazes me republicans hate her as much as they do: she votes like a republican, and supported a lot of republican friendly agendas like the defense of marriage act, and the war in Iraq.  But hey, I guess it’s a matter of “you ain’t one of us, so fuck you”.

The more I learn about Clinton, the less I want her in charge of this country.  She’s voted in favor of wars and coups, she’s supported very neoconservative-friendly legislation that takes away people’s rights, she’s supported trade agreements that take jobs away from the American people, she’s legendary for using plants in town halls, she’s the least transparent politician preaching the gospel of government transparency I can think of…  But hey, I guess she’s better than Trump, right?  Vote Clinton, or you’re a sexist, misogynistic pig!  Just like Trump!

I’m not a Trump supporter, either, for the record.  Really, what the hell can I say about Trump any other blogger hasn’t already.  The dude’s a cheeto-colored mongoloid who has no business being near that other potium.  The man is so unbelievably incompetent, no wonder the whole “It’s all a work to get Clinton into the white house” conspiracy theory sounds legit.

People are telling me over and over again that this is the most important election ever.  Yeah, uh, no.  I have literally no investment in this election.  I haven’t since June.  No matter who wins this election, America loses.

I have said I supported Garry Johnson, but honestly, even I think the man has no chance in hell.  Not necessarily because he’s third party, and third parties haven’t won a single election in The States since the 1860s, but rather, because the man has proven to be a disaster on the mic.  In his defense, I didn’t know where Aleppo was, either.  In fact, I’m not even sure I’m spelling it right.  Still, you want to be ruler of the free world, you may want to read a fucking geography book every once and a while.

I just want this election to be over with.  I don’t care who wins, I don’t care who gets the majority in congress…  For all I know and care, Jill fucking Stein could win the election.  All I know is I’m done.  Game over.  I quit.

How Wrestling Taught Me Story Telling Fundamentals

Between sessions of exploring promoting myself, actually promoting myself, and plotting out the next installment in Gael’s epic adventure, I’ve been listening to an audio book.  Well technically, I’ve been listening to TWO audio books, but the reading of Belinda Blinked has been more of a Mystery Science Theater caliber experience than a traditional audio book.  While I’m on that topic, I encourage everyone to listen to the podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno.  You won’t regret it.  Or maybe you will.  I suppose it depends on your tolerance for stupid.

The other book I’ve been listening to, though, is an actual honest to god audio book.  Specifically, a little number by the name of The Death of WCW by R.D. Reynolds and Bryan Alverez.  Yeah, I’m reading a book about professional wrestling.  This is the part where you point out wrestling is fake, and I’m a retarded little faggot for liking a show involving grown men in speedos play-fighting.  All out of your system?  Good.  Let’s move on.

Yeah, middle school consisted of a lot of that: the super cool kids deciding to walk up to the dumb little thirteen-year-old newbie who was still extremely used to talking about wrestling in an in-universe context with his friends from elementary school, wearing a stupid black hoody because it made him look like the grim reaper or whatever, and pick on him mercilessly for it.

“Wrestling is fake and you know it, you little faggot!”

“Steve Austin is a retard, and you’re a retard for liking him!”

“Nice hoody, Kenny.  Go die in a South Park episode and don’t come back, you fucking fag!”

Yeah, I paint a pretty negative picture, but in their defense, I REALLY didn’t make things better.

PRO TIP: never, ever, under any circumstances, get into the old “scripted Vs. fake” debate with nonmarks.  You will never win this argument, and it will only result in you looking stupidder, and the ass whuppins getting that much worse.

Monday was always sort of a weird paradox for me in middle school.  On one hand, it meant that I had to go back to school, and back in the late 90s, I fucking hated school.  Believe me, I could write a novella on my time at the state school for the blind alone.  I have enough mental demons from that era to fill a fucking zoo.  But I won’t bore you with that story on the grounds it’s WAY beside the point.

Monday was ALSO one of my favorite days of the week  back then.  This was because of three simple words: RAW is WAR.  During the legendary Monday Night Wars, I was a hardcore WWF mark.  I was a WWF mark BEFORE Raw became RAW is WAR, in fact, but 1997 to 2001 was a very exciting time in wrestling.

The only real problem was that I was hardcore WWF.  And maybe casual ECW around late 1999 early 2000 or so, but definitely hardcore WWF.  WCW, to me, and to many WWF marks, was the enemy.  World’s Crappiest Wrestling, we used to call it.  A friend I’d eventually make around eighth grade even called it “Wheel Chair Wrestling” for a while.  It was the enemy, and the inferior product.  There was no god but Steve Austin.  And in my case, Mankind was an immediate second place.

Nowadays…  I don’t know.  Maybe I’m older, maybe I’m wiser…  Shit, maybe WWF/WWE has gotten so stale, repetitive, boring, insulting to my intelligence (even by wrestling fan standards), and overall more of a chore to sit through nowadays that I find myself pining for the good old days.  Here and now, at the ripe old age of thirty, I’m a lot more open to the idea that maybe WCW wasn’t so bad after all.

I’d actually been wanting to read The Death of WCW for years now.  Unfortunately, back in 2004, Audible.com didn’t exist (as far as I know).  Also, The Death of WCW was an indie book, which meant Books on Tape almost definitely wasn’t going to be producing an audio version at the time.  And at that point in my life, I was pretty much done with that shit anyway.  Fucking four-sided cassettes, my special little yellow cassette player with battery life that makes your standard smartphone look significantly better by comparison…  God damn audio books used to suck!

Some twelve years later, though, R.D. Reynolds and Bryan Alverez would put out an audio book, and I can finally, finally, FUCKING FINALLY read the book I’ve been wanting to read for a long-ass time now.  They even got Bryan Alverez to read it.  Admittedly, some of his inflections, and his weird sort of sing-songy way of narrating took a little getting used to, but it could be a lot worse.  It could be another Noah Michael Levine reading.  Yeah, virtually a month later, and I’m still dwelling on the god damn Dinosaur Lords audio book.

Weirdly, a lot of this flashing back to the old days of wrestling conjures up a lot for me.  Not just nostalgia, not just rememberances of the bad old days between episodes of Monday Nitro and RAW is WAR, but other things as well.

It sounds weird to say out loud, but I learned a lot about basic story telling from my time watching professional wrestling.  Yeah, WWF wasn’t exactly Rogers and Hammerstein, but I still learned a good share of the fundamentals.  I learned how to tell basic stories through feuds.  I learned how to write exciting battle sequences through matches (though in hindsight, a lot of my older work from thirteen and fourteen did tend to include more suplexes and powerbombs than your usual action flick probably ought to have).  I learned how to make memorable, colorful characters that are both relatable good guys, and bad guys you absolutely love to hate.

In some cases, I also learned how NOT to tell stories.  I refer you to such gems as “the fingerpoke of doom”, and “the unmasking of Mr. America”.  I’ve learned a lot about making your bad guy competent largely by watching the legendary WCW invasion, seeing how “The Alliance” was portrayed, and doing pretty much the exact opposite.

I learned a lot about storytelling through professional wrestling.  Probably a lot more than a normal person should.  Admittedly, a lot of my earliest horror villains were knockoffs of Ministry of Darkness era Undertaker, and a lot of exchanges between good and bad guys sounded like exchanging promos than dialogue normal people would exchange, but I got older, I got wiser, and Audible.com made audio books a lot more accessible and plentiful.  Plus I dare you to find a thirteen-year-old who can write a Moby Dick caliber epic that’ll change the way you look at life and the world around you.  If they’re anything like me, they’re probably more interested in seeing who The Undertaker straps to the “cross” and sacrifices to his evil god who’s TOTALLY not Satan.  And was apparently Vince McMahon.  Even though McMahon was a face character for that month and a half, and had no honest to god reason to dissolve nine tenths of his stable in order to fool one guy.  Yeah, that was a pretty weak twist.

OOH!  That’s another thing I learned: how NOT to write a twist ending.  Seriously, the late 1990s was all about the swerve, and half the time, the swerve didn’t even make sense.  Sometimes it’s a matter of hindsight, and other times, it didn’t even make sense in the moment.  Never the less, this is not how you write a memorable twist, Russo.

It’s not a conventional way of getting your start, I know, but it’s never the less how I got my start.  Would I recommend this path to future authors?  Nah.  Frankly, I’d suggest sticking to creative writing classes, or poetry night at that coffee house all the goth kids hang out at.  I didn’t have access to said coffee house (though my dumb black hoody wearing ass probably would’ve fit in loads better with THAT crowd back in seventh grade), and I didn’t get into creative writing classes till I was in tenth grade, so I had to learn from what was available to me personally.  You can probably even still see some of that wacky cartoonish wrestling logic in stories like Gael: my latest novel that’s now available for purchase on Amazon.com.  Just $1.50 for 200+ pages of awesome, exciting action and adventure!

Yeah, I forgot where I was going with that last paragraph.  Whatever.  Wrestling was where I got my start, I got better, buy my fucking book.  That is all.

Christianity: My Seventeen Year Ordeal

I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I am a loud and proud Baha’i.  Sure, I’m not perfect, but I do the best I can.  And I absolutely love the community.  I’m terrible with names, and it doesn’t always help that a good number of them are Persian names I can barely pronounce as is, but I’ve made a lot of good friends within the community.  I really feel like I belong here.  I tell my story of how I came to the faith, and everybody loves it.  I read from the Braille book, and I get complemented on my reading of the prayer as opposed to being patronized for being able to read Braille.  I’ve only been a registered Baha’i for a year, and I’ve been reading and learning about it for two years, but  I feel like I belong here.  Which is more than I could ever say about Christianity.

For the longest time, my parents tried to raise me Presbyterian.  When you live out in Western Kansas in a day and age when the internet was either nonexistent, or accessed through slow-ass 56K motems that required phone lines, your only real choices for religion were either Catholicism, or Presbyterianism.  And in more recent years, a Church of Latter Day Saints appears to have shown up…  Or maybe it was always there, and my parents tried stearing me away from them thar creepy fucking Mormon folk.  I don’t know why my family picked Presbyterianism, aside from the fact my maternal grandparents were Presbyterians, and that’s just what you do.

I went to church, I attended Sunday school, and I even went to church banquits with my mom, dad, and grandparents on both sides.  And I absolutely hated virtually every minute of it.

I’m not going to denounce Jesus as some sort of false prophet, or go on a rant about how my religion is superior.  Baha’is actually hold a lot of the prophets (Jesus, Muhammad, Zoroaster, Buddha, etc) in very high regard.  Really, in a way, they were all talking about the same god, and preaching the same message in their own unique way.  Baha’i, to me, is a lot like uniterianism.  Except unlike uniterians, we actually have our shit together and know what the hell we want to do instead of creating some hippy-dippy neoliberal feel-good-religion.

I will say this much for my years as a Presbyterian, though: I didn’t feel like I belonged.  If anything, I felt like I was being held hostage.I woke up on Sunday, put on a nice shirt and slacks (thankfully, Presbyterianism doesn’t require a suit and tie), and went through the motions.  I attended Sunday school when I was a wee little boy, and got nothing out of it other than ideas for parody lyrics to some of the songs the Sunday school teacher had us sing.  I attended services with mom and dad, and smuggled in notebooks and markers so I could doodle something while the reverend droned on about how I was ultimately going to hell.  I attended a Christian summer camp in seventh grade, and the only positive memories I have of that entire time were talking pro-wrestling with a fellow mark, and going to the nurse’s office: the only building on the entire campground that had air conditioning.  I attended youth groups in high school, and the only good memory I had was when a relatively attractive girl ended up sitting in my lap for a moment.  Something to do with the game we were playing, and the penalty for losing was you had to sit on the lap of the person next to you, but that’s all I remember.  I went to a Christian weekend retreat with other high school kids, and I and a couple other kids spent most of the time hiding out in the boys bunk listening to each other’s death metal albums on a stereo one of the other kids smuggled in.  Keep in mind, iPhones and sharing shit over WiFi didn’t exist yet, and we still had to sneak actual CDs in, so this was a pretty impressive accomplishment.  But I digress.

Basically, the point I’m trying to make is that I fucking hated my time in Christianity.  I may’ve been a Presbyterian, but I quickly figured out your denomination was a classic “Six in one, half a dozen in the other” sort of situation.  It astounds me there’s so many dinominations.  In fact, there’s even dinominations within dinominations!  Not only are there Presbyterians, but there’s also “Reformist Presbyterians” (which basically meant vote George W. Bush or fuck off near as I could tell), “Bible Presbyterians” (No idea), and I’m pretty sure there’s a group called “Heartland Presbyterians” out there too.  Although that could just be the name of the church.  Either way, there’s so much division and in-fighting when it comes to Christianity that it amazes me that the religion as a whole hasn’t imploded in on itself yet!  And that’s just the Presbyterians!  I hate to see what the Baptists, the Lutherans, the Seven Day Adventists, and god only knows whatever other ones have to put up with.

I dreaded Sundays for the longest time.  All I wanted to do was sleep in, play whatever video game I’d rented that weekend, catch WWF Sunday Night Heat (back when that was around, and actually affected the main story)…  Shit, I’d have even preferred doing homework!  Anything but another fucking church service.

During my high school years, my parents also insisted on dragging me to the service that featured a “rockband”.  Okay, even as a dumbass fifteen-year-old, I knew better than to expect a band the church put together to bust out some Slayer, or some Dimmu Borgir.  Hell, maybe even Papa Roach would’ve been too much to ask for.  But oh my god I hate Christian music!  You have no idea how much I hate Christian music.

A lot of Christian acts that were popular in my day were, at best, knockoffs of bands that…  In some cases might not have aged all that well nowadays (cough Puddle of Mud cough cough), but even if they DID age poorly, they were still better than their Christian counterparts.  Largely because I found Christian music to be the single most patronizing dribble ever.

“What will people do when they find out I’m a Jesus freak.  What will people do when they find out it’s true?”

Well if you lived in Kansas, they’d probably pat you on the back and welcome you into the fold with open arms.  It’s when you decide to be an atheist, or an agnostic, or a wiccan, or a Linkin Park fan when you need to worry about people persecuting you, teasing you, bullying you, calling you a faggot, etc.  True, you’re probably not going to get nearly as much of that out in KC (the beautiful blue sapphire in one of the reddest red states to ever red), but I felt more unwelcome and unwanted pretending to be a Christian than I ever did openly declaring I was an agnostic.

I went through Confirmation like a good little Presbyterian boy.  Which basically meant on top of Algebra homework I had no hope of understanding, and reading a book for English class I had no interest in reading because of its distinct lack of light sabers and jedi superpowers, now I had to read the fucking Gospel of Luke from start to finish as well.  And I went through the whole thing less than half-hearted.  I’m pretty sure my counselor during the entire time was aware of it, too.  It was mathematically impossible for me to calculate how much of a fuck I didn’t give about any of this.

I always referred to my confirmation as my “shotgun confirmation”.  The reverend would do his usual routine where he would ask all the sixteen and seventeen-year-olds if they would continue to follow in the footsteps of their forefathers and honor and live by the teachings of Jesus Christ.  When it came time for me to answer, I could practically hear the shotgun being cocked behind me as the voice murmured in my ear “Well?  Do you, boy?”  Everybody’s parents are in the audience, and my grandparents were there with my parents.  Did they really expect me to say no?

I went through those years trying to relate to that crowd.  For a while, I actually wished the stockholme syndrome would finally kick in so this wouldn’t be so torturous.  But it never did.  At absolute best, I’d come to the conclusion that not EVERYTHING in Christianity was nonsense, but a lot of the “turning water to wine” and “turning a fish and a loaf of bread into a banquit” was either incredibly clever metaphors that didn’t translate from Lattin to English so good, or a little thing the legal world calls “heresay”.

Strangely, by the time I was seventeen, my parents seemed to finally give up.  I think a lot of it was because seventeen to nineteen were my wiccan years.  Believe me, that deserves an article all on its own right there, but I digress.  It could also have been because I’d gone through confirmation, and now that I was confirmed, there was no longer that sense of urgency.  “Yeah he’s not going to church nearly as often, but he’s confirmed Presbyterian now.  So fuck it, he’ll outgrow this Wiccan shit and want to go with us to heaven.”

As disjointed and all over the place as this all sounds, this was literally my time as a Christian in review.  If you’re a Christian, and it’s working out great for you, then fine.  I’m not out to convert anyone to my way of thinking, I’m not here to sell you Baha’i (I’m pretty sure we have a commandment against that sort of recruitment tactic in fact).  Really, as long as you aren’t some gay hating abortion clinic bomber who lets the bible do one-hundred percent of the thinking for you, we’ll probably be able to have halfway decent conversations about literally everything else.  Really, all I’m saying is that I’m pretty much done with Christianity, and no amount of Pope Francis or legalized marijuana is going to change that.