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.

 

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The Upgrade Blues

I don’t usually blog about how my day was, or what sort of internal affairs are going on behind the scenes.  Try to, anyway.  This story, however, feels like it ought to be shared.

Before we get in to things, though, you need to know this.

For about a year and a half now, I’ve had a Google Pixel XL as my cell phone.  I bought it in November 2016 when I decided I had enough of my Galaxy S5’s shit, and I had a generous amount of birthday money from family burning a hole in my pocket at the time.  So I figured I’d splurge, and buy a new cell phone that was top of the line.  On the down side, Pixel was such a popular cell phone that the local Verizon Wireless store was out of stock, and wouldn’t be IN stock till about January 2017.  But the important thing is I DID eventually get my Pixel XL, and it was probably the best cell phone I’ve ever had.

Then this past weekend happened, and suddenly, my phone started behaving a little weirdly.  If I tried to make phone calls, the call wouldn’t connect, and the phone would just lock up.  I’d have to reset the phone entirely.  It’d also lock up like this if I tried texting someone through Message+ (Google Messenger seemed to work just fine, though).  I’d either be typing, or dictating my message, and in the case of the former, the microphone would just switch itself off,  and the screen would lock up in BOTH instances.

I tried to fix this the best ways I could think of.  I tried uninstalling and reinstalling the apps, and that did nothing.  I tried alternate dialers (I use Rocket Dial) and alternate messengers.  As I said before, Google Messenger seemed to work just fine, but the dialer didn’t seem to matter.  Also, fuck the default dialer.  It’s like staring directly into the sun, the way my eye sight works.  I even did a factory reset, and obliterated everything on my phone.  That seemed to work…  Right up until I tried to call someone.  Then, we went right back to the problem we were having.  Also, I lost all my music, my audiobooks, my photos (all six of them), my bookmarks…  The list goes on.  A whole bunch of sacrifice for a whole bunch of nothing.

Left with no other alternative, I took my phone to the Verizon store.  I already have to swallow my pride regarding the fact my phone service is provided by one of the big 3 who are, as of this writing, mere hours away from firing up the machine that will bring about an era of tiered internet, premium passes for stuff that was previously free, and the outright blocking of websites on the grounds that they’re competitors, possibly with superior service to the service your providing (IE, YouTube > Go90).  However, as things stand, they’re the only place that sells and maintains Pixel.  Also, I’ve had T-Mobile and AT&T before, and they both suck.  Hilariously, AT&T is number 2 in the big 3.  The only other provider out here is Sprint, and they don’t support Pixel either.  Furthermore, my entire family declared bloodfeud on Sprint decades ago after falling victim to their hiring and layoff practices, but that’s THEIR story to tell more than it is mine.

Bottom line: You have nowhere else to go.  So shut up, take a bite, smile for the camera, and tell the world that this shit sandwich is delicious, retard.

ANYWAY!

I went into the Verizon store…  And proceeded to stump the woman who tried to help me with my Pixel.  She was convinced that my OS was third party, which no, it isn’t.  As far as I know.  I didn’t change anything in the OS whatsoever.  Unless wallpaper counts, in which case I made it a solid black background to make it easier on my good eye.  The dialer is definitely third party, but it isn’t something you have to gut the OS for.  You just install it, and use Rocket Dial instead of the default one.

The only suggestion she could offer was uninstalling an app called Clean Sweep.  Frankly, I didn’t even know it was on there in the first place, so whatever.  Sadly, this did nothing.

Left with no options, I resigned myself to upgrading to a Pixel 2 XL.  Which means I had to go through the reinstalling process all over again, AND get used to some of the new querks of the Pixel 2.

Having had this phone for all of two hours now, I can say with certainty that my overall reaction to this phone is…  Mixed.

On one hand, the colors are a lot more faded than they were on my Pixel 1.  The Spotify logo, and the call button on Rocket Dial used to be a pretty standard green, but now, they’re sort of a faded greenish-yellow.  I have the brightness set on 75%, but it STILL feels like the screen is dimmer than it used to be.  It’s something I definitely have to get used to.

Fortunately, the second time around, I didn’t have to reinstall anything the hard way.  I still have to log back in to everything (fortunately, I remember all my various passwords the second time around), but my music and my audiobooks that I reinstalled from the first time are still there.

Also as a negative, my cell phone bill went up a whole eleven dollars.  Not to mention that my in-store credits only covered so much of the cost for the phone itself.  Considering that I’m moving to a new place soon, this kind of additional cost is literally the last thing I need right now.

On the positive side, though, that extra eleven a month is because of protection services I put in place.  Protections I DIDN’T have the first time.  Protections that see to it I don’t have to give them the OTHER arm and leg if I need a replacement.    Also, if I just want to upgrade to Pixel 3 when it comes out, I can apparently just do that now with minimal-to-no cost if I understood correctly.

So yeah, I have a new cell phone.  So far, everything seems to be working just fine.  I DO notice Rocket Dial’s buttons tend to stick a little when I press them , but I’m making calls now, and nothing’s locking up.

As far as the problems with the previous phone go…  I’m stumped.  The Verizon store was stumped.  I will not be even remotely surprised if they take my phone over to HQ and dissect it for research purposes.  I mean yeah, it’s an out of date model, but who’s to say this won’t happen in NEWER models too?  Whatever the problem was.

I did become a little suspicious, and possibly even ANNOYED at the prospect that maybe Google is following Apple’s douchebag example of activating programs hidden in the source code that intentionally fuck with your phone if it’s not the newest model, thus forcing you to need the newest model.  That right there was originally one of the bulletpoints I proudly put on my list of reasons I give Apple the finger and recommend Pixel, or even just Android phones in general to people in the market.  But I guess if Google is going to do this now…  Then no wonder I switched over to Ecosia.  Probably ought to find me a new email provider while I’m at it.  This sort of bullshit will not stand.  Unless it’s the Android OS altogether, in which case it’s a harsh reality we all have to live with.  Because fuck Windows Phone.

I haven’t ruled out the possibility I’d gotten a virus from browsing…  Things, on the net.  Not going to lie, I heard about a website called WikiFeet recently.  Hear me out.  The concept of a wiki dedicated entirely to archiving photos and videos of women’s feet from the most mundane, usually nonpornographic places…  This is one of those things that’s so unbelievably absurd that I just had to look it up.  I mean come on, who the hell would waste their time on this when RedTube, or some video host dedicated ENTIRELY to foot stuff I don’t know of, is right there?

Oh, and for the record…  Yeah, WikiFeet is just as dumb and unsexy as you think it is.  Not unsexy in a gross way, but rather, unsexy in a “Yeah, it’s a closeup of a woman’s feet wearing a pair of sandals.  So?” way.  This seems like the kind of porn people had to make due with back when dialup was the norm.  Or like the kind of thing ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD footguys look up because all the obvious porn gets blocked by the filters their parents put on their tablet or whatever.  I don’t know, I guess I’m just harder to impress at the ripe old age of thirty-two.

And yeah, that little aside right there is going to do WONDERS for the foot fetish rumors the critics in my head are trying to spread after The Gael Saga.

All I’m really saying is morbid curiosity brought me there, I had a look around, wasn’t impressed, logged off…  Then a day later, my phone started to malfunction.  I’m not saying it’s THE reason, but it’s definitely a top suspect in my list.

Whatever the reason may be, my Pixel 1 is gone.  It’s been taken by the Verizon people, most likely to be disassembled and its pieces used to make a Pixel 3 one day.  Maybe.  I don’t know what caused it to flip out, and I probably never will know truly.

If you’ve experienced the same, or similar problems lately, I encourage you to leave a comment detailing your situation.  Or if you have an idea how to fix that problem (N B4 “don’t visit WikiFeet”, because I’m probably never going to after that anyway), comment with that.  I don’t usually encourage comments…  And I shouldn’t have to.  But if YouTube is the world we live in, apparently I have to get on my knees and beg like a bitch for your comments.  So yeah, leave a comment if you think it applies.

 

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.

 

Doki Doki Literature Club!: My Thoughts

First and foremost, I feel I have to mention that I’m not much of a visual novel guy.  It’s less of a preference issue, and more of an “I can’t read the fucking text 90% of the time” sort of issue.  If there’s a trendy visual novel making its rounds, I usually check YouTube for a Let’s Play.  Or I guess Let’s Read would be more accurate, since visual novels barely qualify as video games.If I had 20-20 vision, I’d probably be checking these things out myself, but as it stands, I lack that ability.

Another thing I feel I need to get out of the way is I fucking hate dating sims.  I’m no neoliberal social justice retard, proclaiming that the concept of the dating sim somehow demeans women by reducing them to mindless fuck toys or whatever, but I just don’t get any enjoyment out of it.  Dating sims just remind me of how lonely and/or miserable real life is.  They remind me that women are a lot harder to please in real life, and how horribly inaccurate these cartoon women are to the real thing.  They remind me of how I got ghosted yet again by someone I really liked recently, and how I fucking HATE IT when people ghost me.  It doesn’t make you a strong, empowered woman to just disappear off the planet and leave me hanging, it makes you a bitch.  Men don’t like bitches.  Well, MOST of us don’t.  The ones who DO like bitches are the male equivalent of women who like bad boys.  In any case, it thoroughly annoys me, and it annoys me even MORE when I know I’m paying $15 a month for a service to set us up, only for you to be an absolute bitch, and just disappear, and never return any of my texts, and…

I’m pretty sure I was talking about something else a minute ago.

Oh yeah, Doki Doki Literature Club!  I’m not shouting that, by the way: it actually does have an exclamation mark at the end of the title.

DDLC is a visual novel, and it’s a dating sim.  Two strikes right out the gate.  And yet, I soldiered through the videos.  Admittedly, my first viewing came from The Game Grumps, and every other line had something to do with potatoes, or one of the characters being a robot, etc.  It made that first couple of in-game days more bearable.  Then, out of nowhere, the first shocking moment happens in the game, and the entire mood of the VN takes a complete one-eighty.

I won’t give the twist away here.  Instead, I STRONGLY urge you to go to STEAM, and pick the VN up for yourself.  Seriously, don’t worry about the price tag.  It’s free to play, I’m told.

I will say this much, though.  When that shocking moment happens, DDLC takes a SERIOUS left turn in Albuquerque, and becomes the single most fucked up thing I’ve seen in a long time.

Believe me, when it comes to horror, I’m pretty jaded.  I plunged myself into the world of horror films when I became old enough to go to R-rated movies without an adult.  I already owned, and practically masterbated to the Resident Evil games (RE2 in particular).  I was even WRITING horror when I was a second-year-senior in high school.  To put it bluntly, I’ve seen just about everything, and it takes a lot to scare me.

I was fond of Five Nights at Freddy’s at one point, and even then, though I didn’t find it scary.  I found it intriguing, I found the story fascinating, and I found myself wanting more and more until somewhere around Sister Location.  But I never really found it scary.  Sure, the jump scare in every game takes you off guard and panics you, but The Spoony Experiment said it best: “That’s not scary, that’s startling.”

I feel horror has been a very misunderstood genre over the years.  People like Eli Roth took the horror genre, and transformed it into the torture porn fad popular throughout the 2000s.  Movies like the work of Eli Roth fail as horror because in all the movies of his I’ve seen, every character is an unlikeable douche that you actually WANT to see die.  This is not how horror works.  That moment when the character dies is supposed to be n absolute gutpunch, not a moment to sigh in relief and thank god that he’s dead.  You DON’T want to see that character die, and when that character does die, it’s a shock to the system.  When the obnoxious prick who won’t shut the fuck up dies, it’s a relief.  Or at least it doesn’t have as much impact as it should.

The horror scene in the 2010s thankfully departed from this concept…  Unfortunately, horror in the 2010s is either defined by Tom Six’s Human Centipede movies, or by Paranormal Activity and the countless amount of spooky ooky ghosty ghoully Ouija board horror.  The Human Centipede isn’t scary for the same reason Eli Roth movies aren’t scary: you don’t give a fuck about the humans stitched together into the human centipede.  Paranormal Activity isn’t scary…  Though that just might be more of an opinion based on my belief that Ouija boards are fucking stupid.

Doki Doki Literature Club! is effective horror.  I’m a jaded, cynical prick when it comes from horror, and that visual novel ruined my fucking weekend.  This is because DDLC introduces you to characters, and gets you invested in them.  They aren’t perfect people, you find out the further you get in, but you end up liking them, and you want good things to happen.  Which is why when the first real twist of the game ends up happening, it’s such a thorough dick kicking.  The fact everything goes completely off the rails from that point onward only adds to the unsettling feeling.

After the first twist, the VN starts glitching out, and nothing can be trusted.  The world of DDLC set up rules and established them very early on.  But after the first twist, everything is broken now.  All bets are off, and you have no guarantee that anybody is safe.  It leaves you on the edge of your seat, wondering what is going to happen next.

This, my friends, is how horror should be!  I’m glad I watched those playthroughs, but that first time I sat through it…  I tell you what, man, DDLC was the kind of experience that left a dent in my soul.  It thoroughly ruined my weekend…  And I thank Dan Salvato for doing it.

Of the four girls in DDLC, I found that Yuri was my favorite.  And to my surprise, it seems like I’m in the majority for a change, but I digress.  Yuri is quiet, introverted, prone to losing herself in the fantasy world of whatever book she’s reading, not really much of a people person…  Basically, she’s ME.  Except I’m not a high school girl.  I’m also not a cutter.

Yeah, I’ve already given too much away with that one.

I strongly, STRONGLY urge you to pick up this visual novel, and read through it yourself.  You can get it off STEAM.  And like I said earlier, it’s absolutely free.  Download it for yourself, or hell, do what I did and watch someone else play through it.  If you’d rather go the latter route, I personally recommend Pro Jared’s playlist.

The Majin Among Us Crosses the Finish Line First!

Those who’ve been following my exploits here, and on Facebook alike know that for the first time since my high school years, I’m actually juggling two different projects.

PROJECT 1: The Majin Among Us.  What started as a NaNoWriMo project quickly evolved and changed into an entity I can only describe as “teen drama meets gonzo journalism.”

PROJECT 2: COLA.  A more adult story about adult problems, and dependency on supernatural substances.  I think.  The idea kind of sprung up in my head, and I spent the better part of a weekend just winging it.

As of this writing, I can safely say for sure that The Majin Among Us has been finished.  It’s in its earliest draft phase at the moment, and I hope to expand and add to what I already have thus far in the rough draft.  Also, the obvious stuff: fixing spelling errors, fixing continuity errors, renumbering the chapters on the count I usually misnumber, etc.

COLA…  Has kind of hit a roadblock.  I haven’t given up on the project just yet, but the way things are going, The Majin Among Us is definitely going to see publication first.  I’m honestly not even sure I’m even going to finish COLA, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Tell you the truth, I’m genuinely surprised I haven’t scrapped either one of these projects just yet.  The Majin Among Us didn’t flow like previous writing projects have.  COLA, for about a weekend or so, had some pretty significant flow that just seemed to dump its way out of my hands and onto the Word document.  Only for that flow to come to a complete and total screeching halt.

In any case, The Majin Among Us is definitely looking at seeing the light of day.  I look forward to seeing it get to that particular finish line.  In the meantime, it’s crossed the rough draft finish line, and will probably be seeing more work done on it the way things have been going lately.

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.

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.

Reviewing Rockfest 2017 Entirely By Lineup and Nothing Else

I don’t LIKE being an angry-ass curmudgeon.  If I could change even the most trivial annoyance into something awesome, I’d do it.  I’m not one of those guys who complains because I like the sound of my own voice, or because it’ll get me more readers if I’m a negative fucking Nancy.

That being said, Kansas gives me a lot to complain about.  Whether it be something huge like the fact the governor is an idiot who has inflicted Reaganomics onto us all and left the state with a potential billion dollar debt to pay off by the end of the decade, or something trivial like the only rock station that played anything past 1991 suddenly establishing a cutoff date around 2005 or so and refusing to play anything from this fucking year, it seems like this state lives to infuriate me.

And speaking of local radio, it’s that time of the year here in KC.  That wonderful time where we spend the next three to four months hyping up a day-long concert.  A concert that…  Honestly, I’m surprised we’re having.

98.9 The Rock has not been itself lately.  The Annual Freaker’s Ball and Twisted Christmas events (the latter devolving into a cheap excuse to invite Steel Panther over to KC on a yearly basis, but I’m not complaining) didn’t happen this year.  Up until this month, every single concert they’ve been advertising has been some 70s throwback like The Led Zeppolin Experience, or The Pink Floyd experience, or The Red Hot Chili Peppers coming to town.  Shit, the only reason you ever hear about a modern band like Ghost coming to town is because they’re opening for Iron Maiden or something.  All of this only serves to perpetuate the timewarp this state is stuck in.  Forcefeed the audience the belief that rock died in the 1990s, and Kurt Cobane killed himself so he couldn’t be tried for murdering it.  Isn’t that right, KQRC?  You assholes who have officially programmed me to cringe in disgust and annoyance every fucking time AC/DC comes on the air anymore.

Okay, I’m calming down.  Seriously, it’s hilarious to think that about this time two years ago, I was complaining about Five Finger Death Punch getting played into the ground.  You know what I’d give for that playlist to make a comeback?

The point I was getting at is that considering this dramatic shift in format, and cancelation of what I’ve considered 98.9 traditions, I’m legitimately surprised we’re even HAVING Rockfest in the first place.  True, it’s at the KC Speedway instead of Liberty Memorial this year…  Which only furthers my belief not enough people came to last year’s Rockfest, and the station might be hemourhaging money, but that’s honestly just theory at this point.

Still, I had a feeling this year’s Rockfest was going to suck.  Considering the most recent band they’ve been promoting is either The Red Hot Chili Peppers, or Iron Maiden, I had a feeling there either wasn’t going to be a Rockfest, or Rockfest was going to become another nostalgia circuit show like Rocklahoma or something.  They released the lineup earlier in the month, and…  Honestly, my thoughts are mixed.

And so, for your enjoyment and my desire to purge the chattering voices in my head, here’s my thoughts of Rockfest based entirely on the lineup.  Because honestly, relocating to a smaller venue is easy to forgive if the bands can hold my attention.

Opening up this year’s Rockfest on the second stage is a band by the name of One Less Reason.  I’ve never heard of them, and I doubt most people have.  This has little to do with the previously mentioned cutoff date hampering the exposure of new music in KC, and more to do with the fact the opening act on the second stage is almost always a newbie that no one’s ever heard of.  Barring that, they’re an indie band that nobody who doesn’t go to that one bar has ever heard.  So yeah.

I listened to One Less Reason on Spotify, and honestly, they’re…  Okay.  They’re not horrible, but they didn’t necessarily light my world on fire either.  If anything, they sound a little overdramatic.  Seriously, check out the music video for “Break Me”.  I appreciate they decided to give us more than just a video of the band playing, but holy hell.  I seriously thought the first thirty seconds or so was a YouTube ad I couldn’t skip.

Up next is Sidewise.  They’ve been here before, and I liked them well enough.  So far, I’m thinking of showing up late enough to maybe skip One Less Reason, and catch these guys.

Up next, we have Candlebox.  AKA, those dudes who wrote “Far Behind”.  And literally nothing else.  I don’t know if they’re legitimately a two-hit-wonder, or if that’s just 98.9 humoring all three of Candlebox’s fans by occasionally playing this one song, and going right back into spanking my eardrums with “Back in Black” for the infinity-billionth time.  Kind of an odd choice.  Even if they’re a one or two-hit-wonder everywhere else in the world, it’s a good enough hit to hold my interest.  Doing good so far, 98.9

Next up is Crobat.  I…  Have no idea who these guys are.  I think they were at a Rockfest or two before this one, but I couldn’t tell you anything about them.  And I probably even watched them on stage the year they were there and everything.  Oh well, I could use the refresher.  Worst case scenario, the main stage is usually starting up by now, and if I end up hating them, I don’t have to stick around for them.

After them, we have Blackberry Smoke: that super obscure underground band that’s all over the place.  I’ve heard them, and I honestly can’t tell if this is rock or country.  If they’re country, we have ourselves some hardcore Trashville “city faggot in a cowboy hat” caliber country right here.  If it’s rock…  It kind of reminds me of American Bang: a one-hit-wonder (maybe) who’s ultimate claim to fame was that their one hit was the first theme song ever for WWE NXT.  I guarantee you the ONLY reason these guys are coming is because they’re buds with Johnny Dare.  Not that this is a bad thing, but honestly, they’re not my cup of tea.

Up next, we have Tom Keifer: the former frontman for Cinderella.  Oh boy.  I can hardly wait to skip this act entirely.  If you know me, or if you followed my old blog, you know how I feel about hair metal.  For the newbies…  Basically imagine Steel Panther without a punchline, and you literally have the entirety of hair metal.  It’s a joke, and it’s not a funny one either.  And yes, this is coming from someone who cut his teeth on grunge growing up.  I’d rather have a bunch of semi-intelligible homeless dudes from Seattle than a bunch of glittery transvestites who are TOTALLY super straight any day.

And really, what can I say about Cinderella.  Near as I can tell, they’re pretty much the status quo for that generation.  I have a pretty good feeling Tom Keifer’s set is going to be nothing but Cinderella covers.  So if you like Cinderella, then you have motivation.  If you’re like me, though, you’re already seeing what’s on the main stage, or hanging out at the concession stand/merchandise stand.

Rounding out the main stage is a band by the name of Zakk Sabbath.  I have no idea who these people are, but based on the fact they’re the ONLY second stage act that gets a soundbyte in the promos, and said soundbyte is a clip of “Iron Man” from BLACK Sabbath…  Yeah, I smell cover band.  Black Sabbath is more my speed, but again, keep that timewarp perpetuated, 98.9.  *sigh*

Then we get to the main stage.

Opening things up is…  P.O.D.?  Holy shit, those guys are still around?  Here I thought those guys broke up.  Or they disappeared into the ether, and retreated to the sanctimonious realm of Christian rock.  Don’t even get me started: this article by itself is taking for fucking ever to write.

Honestly, the fact P.O.D. was a Christian band always put a bit of a raincloud over my head.  I loved rap-metal, but I was a thirteen or fourteen year old boy who was in open rebellion against all things Jesus.  The one saving grace of P.O.D. in the longrun, though, was that they were never really in your face about it.  Yeah, they looked on the brighter side, which was a nu-metal no no, but at least they weren’t forcefeeding me heavy-handed Christian symbolism.  More than I can say for those jerks in Skillet.

I might actually check that show out.  Yeah, it’s a total nostalgia circuit show, but it’s MY nostalgia.  And yes, that does make me a hypocrite for railing against the nostalgia circuit, then immediately turning around and enjoying a nostalgia circuit esque show.  Big whoop, want to fight about it?  Well it’ll have to wait till I’m done with this.

After P.O.D., we have…  Oh dear god.  We have Buckcherry.

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a trillion times: WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU PEOPLE SEE IN BUCKCHERRY!?  Buckcherry is, hands down, the worst band I have ever heard in my entire life.  Seriously, even at their absolute worst, Slipknot was still a trip to the fucking circus.  Even The Dillenger Escape Plan has some sort of pattern to its cacophony.  Hell, even AC/DC, burnt out on them as I am, at least sounds like music.  Buckcherry is fucking terrible.  “Crazy Bitch” is the equivalent of ear rape, and it’s embarrassing you people enjoy this shit song that any god damn thirteen-year-old could write in their sleep.  Josh Todd couldn’t carry a tune if you gave him a god damn forklift.  This band should’ve died in 2002 when everybody refused to buy “Time Bomb”.  But for some reason, they came back.  And we LET them come back.  And they’re never going to go away, no matter how much they suck , because you idiots decided after FIVE YEARS of absence, they needed to come back.

Ugh, fuck those guys.  Buckcherry suckvery.

Okay, I’m done.  What else do we have?

Well, after that exercise in misanthropy, we have…  Collective Soul?  Where are they getting these guys?  Here we have another band that 98.9 has perpetuated into one-hit-wonderdom.  Except I’m positive Collective Soul have written a lot more than just “Shine”.  Not that “Shine is a bad song or anything (far from it), but I’d certainly like to hear more.  Of course, such a request would cut into all that Pink Floyd time, so I’m not surprised I won’t be getting it, but still…

Up next is RATT.  Ugh.  Again, I’d point out the one-hit-wonder thing, but to be honest, that one hit isn’t even all that great.  Considering what era it came from, it could be a lot worse though.  “Round and Round” isn’t my favorite song, but it could be worse.  It could be something like “Talk Dirty”, or “Love Injection”, or literally anything by W.A.S.P.  Ugh, my god those guys suck!

I was kind of surprised to hear RATT is even still around.  I’m pretty sure that, at absolute best, RATT is a classic case of a band with none of its original members involved in it in any way, shape, or form anymore.  Like Cannibal Corpse, or GWAR, or Anthrax for a while.  The list goes on.

I’m also kind of surprised RATT are relegated to one-hit-wonder status.  Considering where I live, and the mindset being perpetuated, you’d think they’d play every single they ever came out with, regardless of whether it was a success or a flop.

After that, we got Halestorm.

Well at least they came from this decade.  Not to mention they’re LOADS better than Buckcherry.  Although saying that out loud is kind of like saying bologna tastes better than drywall.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: my one ultimate criticism of Halestorm is that they have no distinct sound.  They’re not quite as bad as Nickelback, or Papa Roach anymore, or any other play-what’s-popular band, but there’s no consistency from song to song.  One minute, Lzzy Hale is a badass who takes shit from no one (“Dirty Work”, “It’s Not You”, “You Call me Bitch Like it’s a Bad Thing”), and the next thing you know, she’s a fucking doormat (“I Miss the Misery”, “Mz. Hyde”, I almost want to say “The Familiar Taste of Poison”…).  Otep is consistent.  The Agonist was consistent until they replaced their vocalist.  Tristania was consistent.  Halestorm just isn’t consistent.

Also, as I’ve said before, “I Miss the Misery” hits too close to home for me.  Not getting into that story again.  At least, not here.

After them, we have Volbeat.  And Finally, we have a band I actually want to see.  A lot of the bands I’ve said I was interested in seeing up to this point, it was more of a “eh, why not?  Could be fun.” sort of deal.  Volbeat, on the other hand, kick ass, and I’ve wanted to see them for fucking ever.  Also, they and Halestorm are literally the ONLY bands from this decade, which I find fucking depressing.

Especially since right after Volbeat, we get Sammy Hagar side project 352.  Seriously, has ANY band Hagar’s put together lasted more than one album?  And don’t say Van Halen, because that wasn’t HIS band.  Aside from his Van Halen years, the only thing I know Hagar for is a solo career, and in more recent years, the band Chickenfoot.  Chickenfoot: they are so totally decent!

And finally, we get to the main event of the evening.  The band that everything, for better and for worse, has ultimately been leading up to.  And…  It’s Godsmack.  Again.

Okay, I’ll be honest with you guys.  I love Godsmack.  Yeah, they write the same two or three songs over and over again, which suddenly makes me sound like a hypocrite for loving Godsmack despite it, and giving AC/DC shit for it, but fuck you, Godsmack isn’t getting played into the fucking pavement.  I’m also aware Sully Erna is kind of a dick, but I’m at a point in my life where either all my childhood heroes turn out to be dicks, or I know better than to deify someone because they wrote a catchy tune I like to listen to while I punch things after a bad day.  All that being said…  Yeah, that solo album of his sucked.

There’s only one real reason I’m not all that excited for another Godsmack show, and that’s because I’m at a point where I’ve seen them to death.  They definitely have some new songs since…  What was it, 2010 when they last headlined?  And they’re probably coming out with a new album pretty soon.  I’ll never know for sure if the radio is all I have to go by, because FUCKING TIMEWARP!  But even if there is new stuff coming out, I’m really not motivated to see Godsmack AGAIN.

In fact, pretty much the ONLY reason I would waste money on a ticket or two is for Volbeat.  And literally nothing else.

And yes, I’m aware I hated “Seal the Deal and Let’s Boogie””  I still hold to my opinion that that album is a sign of coasting.  Still, literally everything BEFORE that album was awesome, and even if it means sitting through songs from that album, it’d be worth it to see a band I’ve been dying to see live.

Sadly, one out of fifteen isn’t enough to motivate me to go.  If I had to judge by the lineup, I have a feeling this year’s rockfest is going to be kind of a downer.  I’m probably better off saving that fifty bucks for rent anyway, the rate I’m going.

YES!, My Thoughts

I like professional wrestling.  Pretty sure I established that a few months ago.  I may’ve implied I gave up on it some time ago…  And as much as I would like to, they just keep finding ways of pulling me back in.  Case in point, “The New Era”.  They really need to work on that name (I’d go with “The Second Brand Extention” myself), but despite the fact it feels like every episode of Raw is recycling the same god damn matches every week, it’s actually not half bad.

And no, I’m not saying that because John Cena’s on the B-show now.  Seriously!  Okay fine, it’s PARTLY that.  Still have to put up with Roman Reigns, but even Reigns has his moments.  Also, Reigns doesn’t dress like a fucking six-year-old.  Admittedly, he looks like a taller, muscular, more Samoan version of what I’d look like if my parents let me goth it up beyond the black hoody, but that’s a rant for another day.

Recently, in my quest to find some audio to cram into my earhole to distract me from my perpetual loneliness, ennui, and the fact February 11 can’t just get here already, I picked up Daniel Bryan’s autobiography off of Audible.com: a delightful little memoir known simply as “YES!”.  Keep it simple, stupid.

The book is a joint effort by Daniel Bryan himself, and Craig Tello.  I’ll bet you money Bryan just dictated, and Tello compiled it all into an easy to digest brick of paper.  Or in my case, dozens of hours of audio read by Daniel Bryan himself, and Peter Berkrot.

Peter Berkrot’s portions of the book talk all about the leadup to WrestleMania30: what is so far looking like the last great WrestleMania.  And I’m only partially saying that because D-Bry was involved in the main event.  Seriously, now that Shawn Michaels is retired, The Undertaker’s streak is over, and the fact WWE still isn’t convinced we’re fucking sick of Roman fucking Reigns in the main event, I don’t think we’re going to see another epic.  We’ll probably have some passable Wrestlemanias, but the words PASSABLE, and WRESTLEMANIA aren’t designed to be in the same sentence!

But I’m getting off topic.

Berkrot’s readings are very dramatic.  I can’t tell if he’s going out of his way to do it like that, or if that’s just his default reading style, but it suits the tone just fine.

Daniel Bryan’s portions of the book…  Well…  It’s not the WORST reading I’ve ever heard, but aside from a couple reenactments of conversations with various other people…  Well…  I’d say “don’t quit your day job”, except he had to retire from that last year.

Honestly, Bryan just sounds like he’s rushing through it.  I don’t want to say it feels like he could literally be anywhere else right now, but I do get this feeling like he was on a time table, and wanted to get this all down as quick as possible.  It’s not quite as bad as the now legendary one-take approach in that Elderscrolls game, but it does kind of feel like he’s just rambling it all out.

But I can honestly look past that.  Let’s be honest, guys like Luke Daniels, Steven Fry, and Wayne June among others,  have set the bar pretty high.  It’s the story I’m interested in.  If I can endure Steven Brand trying to put me to fucking sleep despite reading an epic fantasy novel like The Waking Fire, I can endure this.

When it comes to the actual story…  Well, I already knew about most of the WWE stuff he covered, but everything from his childhood, to training, to Ring of Honor, to Japan, and even some of the behind the scenes stuff while he was in WWE was actually pretty fascinating.

He even recommends other books to read within his own.  Largely because he seems to feel he can’t do guys like William Regal justice when he talks about them, but all the same, that’s pretty cool of him.  I just wish Audible.com HAD THEM!  So far, out of the books he’s recommended, the only one I’ve found was that guide to Dao.  And honestly, I’m not even sure it’s the one he was recommending.

While I did watch a lot of the stuff he was talking about in WWE, it was still interesting to hear his take on several of the rivalries, skits, and matches he’s had.  Particularly, the nine months he spent tag teaming with Kane.  A veagan and a libertarian in a demon mask walk into a bar…  And only in the WWE would that NOT sound like the set-up for a bad joke.  Or even a GOOD joke.

As much as I’d love to recommend this book, I realize not everybody’s all that in to pro-wrasslin’.  Shit, I’m genuinely amazed I stuck with it this long.  Still, I recommend it, minor narration problems aside.  Also, you probably have more eye sight than I do, so that’s easily remedied by simply getting the hardcover version.