The Summer of “Math Horror”?

It’s only been one month in what we normally consider “the summer months”, but as I look through all my favorite Let’s Players on YouTube, I see a fascinating trend.  A trend that I personally refer to as “Math horror”.  What is math horror, you ask?  Well, allow me to explain.

Somewhere around early June (possibly earlier), I became aware of a game known as Baldy’s Basics in Education and Learning.  It’s often abbreviated to simply Baldy’s Basics, and I plan on using that from this point onward.  It’s a game that has stolen the hearts, and the imaginations of countless people on YouTube, and it’s not necessarily hard to see why.

Baldy’s Basics, in short, is what you get when 1990s edutainment games and Slenderman have a baby.  You have the popular Slenderman trope of wandering around some random location, collecting seven things, all the while avoiding the big scary dude who wants to eat your face off or whatever.  Then you have the edutainment portion of the hybrid, where in Baldy makes you do math problems before you can truly collect the thing.  Not to mention everything in this game looks like it was drawn in Paintbrush (the drawing program that would eventually become MSpaint).

I myself am very familiar with the old edutainment games.  Being the son of a first grade teacher, my mom often used me as a test audience for videos she thought about showing to her class, or games she thought about putting on the computer (more so the first one).  I played with such forgettable “games” like Hanging Out at the Treehouse, Fatty Bear, and…  Well okay, I forgot the name of it, but it was basically a Busy Town game.  Some of these were adequate, although I never really felt like I was learning anything outside how the game itself worked.  Others…  Were dumb at best, and patronizing at worst.  But regardless, this is not unfamiliar territory for me.

Then we get to the Slenderman portion.  I’m just going to come out and say it: I never understood the appeal of Slenderman.  I mean yeah, the idea of being chased around by a big spooky scary guy who wants to murder me to pieces is fine, but why am I collecting these notes?  How the hell did I end up in this forest?  What did I do to make Slendy so god damn angry at me!?  Or is it more of a wrong place at the worst possible time sort of deal?  It’s one of those concepts where when you’re booting it up for the first time, it’s fun, it gives you a scare, and you’re willing to forgive things like the abstract nature and the udder lack of plot…  But when you decide to play it MORE than once, it kind of starts to unwravel.  Especially if you’re like me, and find yourself overthinking things.

Also, Slenderman has been around long enough to where the fan games and the spin-offs wore out their welcome a long time ago.

The first time I watched a Baldy’s Basics playthrough, I was suspecting it was going to be more of the same.  Collect seven notebooks while something spooky chases you.  And yes, that technically is what Baldy’s Basics does.  However, there’s so much more to Baldy’s Basics than just the standard Slenderman ripoff formula.

For starters, there’s other characters whose one goal in life is to inconvenience you EVEN MORE than the angry bald guy in the green sweater ominously slapping the ruler on his palm, reminding you that he’s going to “spank your rump” the moment he catches you.  You’ve got a principal who monitors the halls to make sure you can’t run, or use items like soda to repel Baldy, or food to regain stamina.  You’ve got a little girl who seems oblivious to the fact you’re about to get spanked into oblivion, and wants you to stop and play jump rope with her.  You’ve got a bully that swipes items from your inventory.  Recently, the developer added a…  Robot, thingy, that can either give you a speed boost, or smoosh you in a corner and leave you a prime target for Baldy.

Then, there’s the math problems.  You have to do math in order to collect the notebooks, and at least one out of every three problems is complete and total jibberish.  [INSERT ALGEBRA JOKE HERE.]  The more problems you get wrong, the angrier, and the faster Baldy gets.

The math problems are what have led to a lot of intrigue with Baldy’s basics.  I’ve heard people liken Baldy’s Basics as a whole as an allegory of American education.  IE, you don’t learn anything in school because it’s useful, but rather, because society beats you to the ground if you don’t.  Then you exit school, and realize you didn’t even NEED a generous chunk of what you learned there.  [INSERT ANOTHER ALGEBRA JOKE HERE.]

Another theory I’ve heard is that Baldy HIMSELF is an allegory for the frustrated teacher.  The teacher who wants his children to learn, but gets frustrated to death with the fact his kids are dumdums, or government keeps flopping down nonsensical standardized testing like No Child Left Behind or Common Core, etc.  So much so, in fact, that when a child can’t even do basic math, it sends him in a rage.

Whether these, and other theories are what the developer was going for, or if this is typical game theorist “seeking meaning where there is no meaning for that sweet sweet YouTube revenue” fair is something that either remains to be seen at the time I’m writing this, or has been explained and I just don’t know where to look.  Either way, it really says something about your game when people are trying to find meaning in a game mostly designed to be a cheap edutainment themed Slenderman clone.

In recent days, I’ve found that the fan community has begun the march towards Baldy fan games.  For the most part, these fan games focus more on concepts like “play the game as Baldy”, or “play the game as the principal”.  All novel ideas on paper, but they wear out their welcome within the first minute or so.

However, there are newer games that basically lift the concept of doing math and running from not-Slenderman popping up here and there.  The most well known of which being Advanced Learning with Victor Strobovski.

Strobovski takes the Baldy’s Basics formula of having to do math and running for your life, but cranks up the creepy factor even more by making the school look even more grotesque, and cranks up the difficulty even more by adding a SECOND antagonist who wants you to forget about running for your life and attending his cooking class.  Otherwise, he comes looking for you, drags you to the cafeteria, and kills you himself.  I think.  Also, the principal’s detention system comes with warnings now, and while nobody I’ve seen has maxed out their warnings, I’m about ninety-nine percent positive that three warnings results in you getting killed to death.

On top of the horrors of the school itself being ramped up to impossible levels, the math problems are significantly harder, too.  Not exactly algebra, of course, but definitely more advanced than Baldy’s 2+5 and 5-3.

While Victor Strobovski is the only other game like this I’ve found so far, I know trends.  And I have a really good feeling that the trend of math horror will only grow from here.  We will most certainly see other math horror games throughout the summer, and possibly even the rest of 2018.  A lot of them will suck, no doubt, but whether the game sucks or is actually halfway good is irrelevant.  Math horror is popular right now, and the likes of Markiplier, JackSepticEye, PewdiePie, and 2LesbiansPlay will probably be subjecting us to a lot of it in the oncoming weeks.

As it stands right now, though, I’m okay with that.  So far, the concept has held my attention, and I’ve liked what people have come up with so far.  Much like the Five Nights at Freddy’s games, I can guarantee immediately that these games will wear out their welcome just as quickly, but for now, I’m liking this concept a lot.  Probably because I’m not much of a math person.

 

Advertisements

That Moment When a New Idea Emerges

Something I always hate is when I’m in the middle of one project, and an idea for  second project shows up in my head.  It happened when I was writing The Majin Among us with the long since shelved project simply titled COLA, and it’s happened now.

For those who don’t follow my Facebook page, why the hell not!?  Also, amidst the vast amounts of links to Vegas Golden Knights news and net neutrality arguments, I do post progress reports on my projects that are too short to include in a blog post.  If you’ve been following my Facebook page, you’ll know that Realm of the War Pigs, Book 1 of The Highway Men, is in the proofreading phases.  I finished the writing for it this past Thursday, and before I pack my shit and move into mynew apartment, I have been getting as much proofreading into the second draft as possible.

Then, earlier today, I decided to just sit down, and write out a thought in my head.  This thought, as of this writing, has since become one chapter of a new idea I have for a…  Thing.

I know for sure this much about the project.  Essentially, it’s a superhero story told from the perspective of a reporter.  Not the most original idea, probably…  Although so far, the reporter in my story is a Hunter S. Thompson caliber mess.  Articles often devolve into rambling madness, she often hooks up with both the hero AND the villain.  There’s probably some bingedrinking and some peyote involved, but I haven’t gotten that far into the story yet.

The original title was going to be Fear and Loathing in Metropolis, but I figured DC would sue me into oblivion for that one.  So I’m making a universe of my own.  Which I honestly like better.  Also, I don’t have to slog through hundreds of thousands of articles on random wikis about this or that.  I can really just make it up as I go when it’s MY universe.  All the more reason I tend to favor fictional towns and fictional worlds.

This is in no way or shape guaranteed to manifest into anything right now.  While I AM tinkering with this idea in my downtime, a lot of my energy is focused on finishing book 1 of The Highway Men.  The rest…  Well, the rest is focused on the move.

The thing about The Highway Men, though, is that I’m planning on making it a more episodic series.  Sure, it would benefit the reader to start at book 1, and read them in order.  However, if you’re like my mom, and pick up book 3 thinking it’s all the same no matter what, you probably won’t be as lost with The Highway Men as you might be with something like The Gael Saga.

An episodic series means I can take breaks from it when I get bored, and focus on other ideas when I’m not feeling it.  Trust me, after The Gael Saga, I don’t know if I’m going to do another continuous series like that.  I was very proud of how that series turned out, and I still am for the most part.  However, I still remember how much of a slog that project ended up being, and how much I wanted to work on other projects while I was banging out book 2 and book 3.  Especially book 3.

With a more episodic approach, I can either keep riding the momentum all the way into the next one, or I can take a break and try out a new project idea like I appear to be now.  It’ll probably annoy the people who want me to just shut up and write their favorite series…  But whatever.  If the internet has taught me anything in my lifetime, it’s that it is literally impossible to please everybody.  I’m thankful for every fan I get, and every review I receive, but at the same time, I’m in no hurry to give the pen to the audience.

Again, I can’t guarantee anything will come of this tinkering.  However, if something does, I’ll be sure to talk about it here as well as my facebook.

How The Vegas Golden Knights Reinvigorated My Love for Hockey

In 1999, I discovered the majesty of hockey.  More specifically, I played my uncle’s copy of NHL 99 for PlayStation1, and fell in love with the game.  The video game was fun to play, and the sport itself was actually pretty exciting to watch.  Sure, there’s the occasional hockey fight, but the actual game ITSELF is actually pretty entertaining.

Originally, I picked The New Jersey Devils as my team.  Largely because I seemed to win with them every time I played with them on that old PS1 game more than any other team.  Also, they would go on to win The Stanley Cup that year, so you better believe this fledgeling hockey guy was going to pay attention to this team.

Naturally, the moment I started cheering for them was the moment they started sucking.  Because that’s just how it goes with me and sports teams for some reason.  But I digress.

Even if my favorite team wasn’t one of the greatest anymore, though, I still watched the games any chance I could.

Then the hockey strike happened in 2005.  Or maybe it was 2006.  I forget when it was exactly, but it was definitely in that time frame.

Hockey did eventually come back, but by then, I wasn’t nearly as excited for it.  Until about 2013, when The Devils made it to another Stanley Cup.  Unfortunately, they lost to The Kings.  Also, there was talk of ANOTHER hockey strike, but I can’t remember if anything came of that.

Basically, ever since the first hockey strike, I’d gone from hockey nut to occasional spectator.  Until The Vegas Golden Knights came into existence.

I’ll admit, I was skeptical.  Intrigued, but skeptical.  I, like a lot of other guys, joked about how The Vegas Golden Knights was a first year team consisting of nothing but D-list hockey players whose better days were behind them, minor league call-ups, and maybe a few free agents nobody else wanted.  Furthermore, their coach used to be on The Florida Panthers staff.  And I found out in recent months that The Florida Panthers are so bad, they’re one of two possible candidates for getting shipped to Kansas City.

A brief aside: Kansas City has been the NHL’s impending threat to mediocre teams for at least a decade now.  First, we were going to get The Pittsburgh Penguins: a team that, at the time, had seen better days.  They suddenly improved, and Pittsburgh wanted to keep them.  Then we were going to get The Nashville Predators: a team that was, at the time, so bad that I didn’t even know they existed.  But then they got better.  I think they even won The Stanley Cup the year they were being threatened, so there you go.  Now, according to my friend, frequent cover artist, and now a fanatical hockey nut who puts teenage me to shame, The Florida Panthers and The Arizona Coyotes are the next possible candidates.  Though they didn’t even touch the playoffs, Arizona improved their game tremendously as a result.  Knowing the pattern, Florida will probably be in the playoffs next year, too.

So yeah, we don’t have a hockey team to cheer for.  And lord knows The Devils have the worst habit of forgetting they’re halfway decent at this game around January these last couple of years (seriously, how the hell did you guys make it to the playoffs this year?).  So a curiosity like the brand-spanking-new Vegas Golden Knights is DEFINITELY worth exploring.

I’m not abandoning ma boyz in Jersey by any stretch of the imagination.  However, one of my favorite podcasts ever once said that you were allowed to have two favorite teams, provided they play in different conferences.  Jersey is in the eastern conference, and Vegas is in the western conference, so by that logic, I’m good.

And after this fascinating season of hockey, I’d say I’m not just good, but I’m actually golden.  Heh, see what I did there?  I’m funny.

My friend mentioned to me that The Vegas Golden Knights were originally going to be called either The Knights, or The Aces.  Both would work just fine in my book, honestly.  Then, a random commenter on the Facebook page mentioned that they went to Vegas for a “golden shower”, and that the team should call themselves The Golden Showers.  Obviously, it was a troll comment, but whoever was in charge apparently decided to roll with it, and the next thing you know, we have The Vegas Golden Knights.

No seriously, this is a thing.  You’ll have to dig pretty deep into their Facebook history, but this is most certainly a thing.

Between this, and the previously mentioned fact they’re a bunch of D-listers, call-ups, and rejects coached by a man who worked for one of the worst teams in the league, you would probably keep your expectations pretty low.  I wouldn’t have blamed you, either.  Lord knows I was keeping MY expectations low.

Then, they started winning.  A lot.  So much so, in fact, they were in first place in their entire division for the majority of the season!  They didn’t always win, but they won a lot.

Unsurprisingly, they made it to the playoffs.  And here, this was where everybody was saying their luck would run out.  Not only did it NOT run out, but they even swept their speculated rivals, The L.A. Kings, in the opening round!  That series, despite the shear domination of Vegas, was one of the most exciting series I think I’d seen in years.

The San Jose Sharks, and The Winnipeg Jets would also fall to the golden glory of Vegas, and their spot in history was sealed.  Even if they DIDN’T win The Stanley Cup, they would still stand tall as the first expansion team in history to make it to the finals, and no asterisks like there were in the case of The St. Louis Blues.

Sadly, their luck would run out in the finals.  The Washington Capitols: the last team ANYBODY thought would make it to the finals…  Well, other than The Golden Knights themselves, anyway.  The Washington Capitols of all people made it to the finals, and they dominated.

But all the same, I was more invested in hockey this year than I have been in a very long time.  It also helped that I’d found an app that links to every radio station that brodcasts hockey games.  So even though I live in FUCKING KANSAS, I don’t have to settle for that three or four times out of eighty-two that my favorite team(s) are on TV.  I could just listen to the games from Vegas’ local station.

Theoretically, I can listen to that station whenever…  But the station that plays VGK games is an affiliate of FOX.  Yeah, no thanks.  I get enough conservative loudmouths from one particular Uber driver.  Don’t even get me started: this thing is already all over the place as it is.

While Vegas didn’t WIN the Stanley Cup, I’m VERY interested in seeing what they do next year.  Till then, The Golden Knights can say with certainty that they are the team that reinvigorated my love for hockey.

All that being said, watch as they spend the entirety of the 2018-2019 season sucking harder than The Buffalo Sabers.

Rousy in WWE is Kind of a Downgrade

It’s WrestleMania season, which means I’m paying closer attention to WWE and their shinanigans in order to decide if this year’s pay per view is worth buying.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to order the Royal Rumble this year, but in this day and age where WWE THEMSELVES upload super abridged versions of every show, it’s no biggy.

Apparently, this year was the year they had their first ever women’s Royal Rumble.  And can I just say, the women’s division in WWE has come a ridiculously long way since  2014.  Last time I watched WWE religiously, Daniel Bryan was still an active wrestler, John Cena was at the height of his obnoxiousness, and the “divas” were an absolute shit show.  God bless Natalya and Beth Phoenix for doing the best they could with the talentless idiots they had to carry.  It was an era when women’s wrestling wasn’t taken seriously, but we couldn’t make them do swimsuit competitions and wrestle in pudding like when The Kat was around.  Well, technically, you COULD do swimsuit competitions, but they were pretty bulky one-piece swimsuits that left a lot to be desired if you were anything but a leg man.  But I digress.  Gone are the days of Kelly Kelly, Candis Michelle, and The Bellas.  Long live the era of Sasha Banx, Asuka, and Bayley.

Okay, getting back on track.

Asuka winning the rumble was the exact opposite of a shock.  The big shock came when Ronda fucking Rousy, former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, came out, and did her big thing where she pointed at the WrestleMania sign.

Ronda Rousy debuting in WWE is one of those moments that causes the roof to come unglued.  People have been talking about Rousy being a wrestler since 2016 or so.  Maybe even longer, for all I know.  This seems like a pretty great moment…

But then a thought occurred to me.  Ronda Rousy actually LOST her last two matches in UFC.  She lost the title to Holly Holme (one of my favorites in the division at the time), and…  I forget who she lost to the second time, but she never got her mojo back from that first loss.

Rousy seemed unbeatable in her championship days.  She was fortunate to be in a real sport, where winning a twenty-five minute match in fifteen seconds is something to brag about.  You pull something like that in UFC, you’ve accomplished something great.  True, it’s probably not a world record (I think Andre Arlovski holds the record for shortest title fight victory ever with a match lasting six seconds), but it’s still something that’d have a lot of shit talkers second guessing themselves.

You try a fifteen second match in WWE, meanwhile, it doesn’t go over nearly as well.  A fifteen second match in WWE is either a comedy spot, or it’s the biggest ripoff ever.  Just take a look at the reaction to Daniel Bryan Vs Sheamus at Wrestlemania28.  Eighteen seconds is not something to brag about in a scripted show.

Ronda Rousy, the woman who beat about ninety percent of her opponents in the first round, suddenly loses her winning ways in a REAL fight, and ends up in a scripted show like WWE?  That seems like a demotion to me.  The same thing happened with Brock Lesnar after he lost to Cain Velasquez.  He just couldn’t win anymore, and had to resort to play-fighting in order to be taken seriously again.  Although Lesnar got his start play-fighting, where as Rousy is just now entering the arena, but still…

I know that sounds kind of demeaning to wrestling fans when I say that.  Believe me, I know what that’s like, having people who not only can’t take your favorite thing on TV to watch seriously, but thoroughly ride your ass from first period to the end of the school day calling you a gay-ass faggot and making fun of you nonstop for liking a fake-ass show.  And yes, I reluctantly own up to being one of those idiots who tried, and absolutely failed at trying to explain the difference between fake and scripted.  PS: don’t ever do that.  It doesn’t improve your case at all.

As someone who likes wrestling and MMA equally, I try to be as diplomatic as possible.

But let’s be honest, guys, wrestling is scripted, and MMA is real.  To go from real fighting to scripted fighting…  Doesn’t that seem like kind of a downgrade?  Sure, Brock Lesnar is built up as this inhuman tank, but in the world of REAL fights, he had to beef up on HGH or whatever just to even stand a chance against some rando heavyweight from the UFC.  I can’t imagine Bobby Lashley’s recent MMA career has treated him any better, considering he’s down in IMPACT right now.  And now Ronda Rousy is taking up the wrestling trade.

I’m not sure what they have planned for Rousy at WrestleMania this year.  Honestly, I’m one of those guys who doesn’t look up the spoiler pages.  I’m subscribed to a wrestling podcast or two that dishes out some back stage news, so I know about stuff like Enzo Amore getting fired recently.  But as for what’s going to happen at WrestleMania…  I’d kind of like to be surprised.

Still, I can’t help but think this is actually a bit of a step down for Rousy.  Especially since MMA guys fucking HATE pro-wrestlers.

There’s definitely some resentment between the two fanbases, and it’s not hard to see why.  A lot of people, including my own mother, can’t tell the difference between the two.  Wrestling sites have, in the past, covered UFC events, which I always found baffling.  MMA fans, meanwhile, tend to get lobbed into the same crowd as wrestling fans, and I can definitely see why that’d piss people off.  It reminds me personally of all those bureaucrats in the Kansas state government who think the school for the blind and the school for the deaf should be the same building.  Because apparently, blind and deaf are the same fucking thing, and if they had it their way, those freaks would all be going to the circus to learn sign language with all the other cripples anyway.  So yeah, I get it.

I really don’t know how to end this ramblefest.  So all I’ll say is that this WrestleMania season is looking kind of interesting so far.  Between this, and the fact they actually DIDN’T let one of The Fortunate Sons win the rumble on the men’s side this year, it might actually be worth dropping some cash on.

 

Tommy Wiseau: An Exercise in Rewarding Failure?

Tommy Wiseau isn’t funny.  Tommy Wiseau isn’t brilliant.  Tommy Wiseau doesn’t deserve the cult status you people give him.  Even if it’s crappy “hur hur memes r the lulz” cult status, because even when you’re laughing at the fail on such a widespread level, you’re still acknowledging that Tommy Wiseau exists, and you really shouldn’t encourage this level of failure.

For the three people who probably don’t know who this guy is, Tommy Wiseau wrote, directed, starred in, produced, and probably catered for a movie simply known as The Room.  While saying this out loud isn’t exactly new, thought-provoking discussion, it still needs to be said: The Room is garbage.  I’ve literally seen TROMA movies that had more effort put into them, and you’d be amazed how often Uncle Loyd recycles some of those shots of people driving cars.

Tommy Wiseau HIMSELF…  A lot of people are convinced he’s trolling us, and that his persona, coupled with his shit movie, is the single greatest act of trolling ever.  Somehow, I’m not buying it.  I genuinely believe this guy thinks he’s a lot better at what he does than he actually is.

It’s one thing to be proud of your work.  Hell, I’ve written a dud or two in my time (cough Family Reunion), but even I feel good about having a story out there in public.

It’s one thing to feel proud about your project, though, and it’s another thing to delude yourself into thinking you’re good at what you do.  I’m not really sure what Wiseau thinks he’s doing.  I’ve theorized that the man is either an anticomedian, a space alien, or one of THOSE artists.  Neither of which are positives that justify his movie, but all the same, it gives me something to anchor to.

If it was just a bad movie made by a guy whose first language CLEARLY isn’t English, that’d be fine.  Worst case scenario, it drifts around the ether of Amazon.com or wherever, we never hear from it again outside “art” circles, and the world is a beautiful place.  Except I remembered that I live in the version of Earth where Donald fucking Trump is president, Tim Heidecker gets as many TV shows as he wants, and “I Miss the Misery” by Halestorm is considered a party song.  So of course a movie that sucks this much gets elevated to cult status.

I personally subscribe to the Kevin Murphy philosophy that was briefly mentioned in his book, A Year at the Movies.  I believe that failure shouldn’t be rewarded.  Bad movies don’t deserve to be talked about.  The Razzies, while fun, and possibly even cathartic to some, is ultimately the spirit award of cinema.

“Hey, buddy, how’s it going?  How about that movie you made that bombed at the box office and nobody liked.  Sure was a piece of shit, wasn’t it?  Here, have a trophy.”

Failure shouldn’t be rewarded.  At absolute most, failure is something you should keep in the ole disappointments room, and kept around only as a reminder of how yall done fucked up.  Take that failure, and learn from it.  Remember that this right here is how NOT to make a movie.

I grew up between the generation that buried hundreds of thousands of unsold E.T. cartridges, and the generation that says “Wow, Bee Movie sure did suck.  Let’s spend an entire spring break polluting the internet with Bee Movie memes and convince the internet it’s worth remembering despite the fact it clearly isn’t.”  Which basically means I received a spirit award or two (they were called fourth place ribbons when I ran track in high school), but I was encouraged to not put them on the same level as a medal or an actual trophy.  They were a way of saying “Hey, you suck too much to get a medal, but at least you didn’t come in last.”

The fact people make The Room memes, or do parodies of popular movies on YouTube in the style of The Room is more recognition than this movie deserves, and more recognition than Wiseau HIMSELF deserves.  With all due respect to the author, I don’t plan on reading The Disaster Artist out of fear it’ll only fuel the machine.

Now I’ll own up to liking a few bad movies in my time.  I’m literally the only human being on Earth who seems to have actually LIKED Apollo 18, for example.  I am a loud and proud fan of The Purge movies (though I really need to see the third one).  Hell, I even liked Tusk.  These movies are also bad…  But unlike The Room, or anything else Wiseau has put out, these movies looked like someone actually put FUCKING EFFORT into them.  There was a good idea here.  There was a sequence of events that, at least in context of the universe, made perfect sense.  Go ahead and disagree with the possibility The Purge could happen one day, or believe all you want that The Lost Cosmonaut Theory is bunk, but surely you can at least agree that there was some thought put into all this.

The Room…  Ugh, The Room.  I’ve seen honest to god Skinemax flicks that had better acting than this.  Better set design, too.  Hell, even the plot was more coherent and not repetitive.  And have you actually WATCHED sex?  Take your dick out of your hand, take all the anticipation and excitement out of it, and just watched it from an analytical level?  It’s probably the most repetitive, monotonous activity out there!

Just because a movie is funny for all the wrong reasons doesn’t instantly make it good.  Or even redeemable.  It’s admirable that you managed to find a way to enjoy cinematic torture, but if I’m supposed to be taking this dead serious, yet all I do is laugh the entire time, yall done fucked up, son.

And I know memes don’t usually pick on good movies, but at the same time, the fact we’re even acknowledging this movie and this man even exist in the first place seems like we’re only encouraging him to keep existing.  Hell, I’ve written, like, three pages or so of text at this point, and I’m already trying to justify posting this incoherent ramblefest outside the fact I’m fucking sick of seeing Wiseau memes on my Facebook feed.

I probably make it sound like I’m furious, but really, I’m not.  Hell, at this point, I’m barely annoyed at absolute best.  After years of being taught that failure isn’t something I should be proud of (not necessarily ASHAMED of, but not proud of either), I’m suddenly finding that we’re reveling in it.

“This movie sucks!  Let’s give it ridiculous amounts of attention!  Let’s have special viewings, and make dumb parody videos and put them up for everyone else to see!”

I just don’t get that mentality.  Then again, I also don’t get why it’s suddenly okay for thirty-year-old men to admit out loud they watch cartoons for seven-year-old girls, or why after years and years of developing technology to where video games are practically fully rendered movies, the most popular things to play are the same fucking 8-byt “metroidvania” games we played in the days of the NES.  Believe me, I could, and on occasion, HAVE ranted on those topics individually.

I just feel like all this time we’re spending giggling at Tommy Wiseau is doing two things:

First off, it’s not helping the guy.  If anything, it’s only encouraging him to be as horrible at his job as humanly possible.  By portraying The Room as “a spectacle”, and celebrating its horridness, you’re only telling Wiseau, and future generations (maybe) that this is okay.

Secondly, I feel like all this energy we’re putting into this clearly could be spent on better things.  There are great things on Netflix right now that we could be watching.  Sure maybe everything on Netflix’s original category isn’t for everyone, but surely there’s something there that’s more worth investing time in than the same fucking garbage cinema you’ve been meming, parodying, and overall inflicting on all of us for the last decade now.

Thumbs Vs. Stars

Netflix had been talking about switching from the five stars system to the thumbs up or down system for a few months, but up until earlier tonight, I had dismissed it as a rumor. However, I logged on to Netflix after a day of work, proofreading, and what not, and found that they finally made good on that promise.
I wonder out loud why they bothered switching from one system to another like this. A friend of mine is convinced that the thums system was set up after Amy Schumer threw a fucking temper tantrum over the fact her special was getting record-setting amounts of one-star ratings. Some people (Schumer herself included, apparently) claim it’s people being assholes because a woman is doing stand up. Others believe it’s because Amy Schumer is legitimately not funny, and spends more time talking about her vagina stink than actually telling jokes. Normally, I belong to group B, but as far as whether it’s the reason Netflix switched from stars to thumbs… I don’t know, man, I think it was a lot more complicated than that.
Well, whatever their reason is, they switched to thumbs. So instead of five possible options, now you have two: thumbs up, or thumbs down.
Am I in favor of stars, or thumbs? Honestly, I don’t know. They both really have their ups and their downs.
Bill Burr: stand up comedian and recent hero of mine, was on his podcast talking about the negatives of the thumbs system. He made claims that one simple, petty complaint that ultimately contributes fuck all in the longrun might be enough for Mr. Petty-fucking-asshole to thumbs down your standup special. “Oh, I didn’t like the color of the background. Thumbs down. Oh, that one joke wasn’t funny. Thumbs down.” etc.
In a way, he’s definitely on to something. I’d like to think that the average Netflix bingewatcher isn’t a savage retard like about ninety percent of the people who leave comments on YouTube videos. Of course, we are talking about people. This may be my misanthropic attitude from my early twenties talking, but people are assholes, there’s too god damn many of us, and the world would be better off if seventy-five percent of us died right now.
The star system had more variety. If you liked a show, but didn’t LOVE the show, you could just rate it four. If you thought it was just okay, you could rate it three. Five and one were the extremes. A lot of the time, you could follow the same philosophy a lot of Amazon.com users follow, and trust only the four, three, or two star reviews. The ones who rate it five or one probably love or hate the show that much, but someone who rates it four, three, or two is probably more guaranteed to be genuine, and not a kiss-ass.
The thumbs system, meanwhile, demands a lot more of you. It takesaway the ambiguity four, three, or two stars may leave behind, but with the thumbs system in place, you either love it, or you hate it. No middle ground is possible.
If Amy Schumer hissyfits were really the reason for this change in ratings, I have a hard time seeing it accomplishing anything. The people who rated it two stars, or even three stars will probably just thumbs-down the standup special now. Which between my friend’s comments, and my own research, means people still fucking hate her special. Congratulations, dipshit, you accomplished nothing.
In the longrun, I prefer the stars. There’s more flexibility in the star system. There’s a lot of stuff I watch on Netflix I don’t feel deserves a positive rating, but it doesn’t deserve a negative rating either. I give shows like Bordertown a nice neutral three, because while they keep me amused in the moment, I don’t see myself watching it again. I only ever give the truly horrendous a one-star.
In the thumbs system, though, there is no nice neutral rating. You either love it, or you hate it. Or you decide not to rate it, but that’s not really contributing anything. Dead silence is the worst thing you can give an artist. Or an actor. Or a comedian. Or a lonely blind guy on OKcupid trying to find some sort of companionship in a fucked up world where Donald fucking Trump can be president, but I can’t even get a book published for real because…
Uh, got a little sidetracked.
I personally favor the star system. But maybe I’m a fringe minority. Maybe people prefer the thumbs system. Hell, maybe the next step is to put a Facebook esque system in place where there’s no thums down. Either like my show, or get the fuck out.
What do you say, audience? Stars or thumbs? Or do you even care?

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.

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?