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.

Does Nu Metal Really Deserve the Bum Rep it Has?

For those out of the loop, “Nu Metal” was a subgenre of rock and metal that was popular from around 1995-2003 or so.  It’s also earned names like “rap-rock”, “rapcore”, and “funk metal” from fans, and names like “angry white kid metal” and “divorce rock” from haters and dudes trying to be funny.

I know that not everything ages like fine wine.  Some things we look back on, and wonder what on Earth did we ever see in them.  In the case of the 1990s, it could be a lot of things: Beany Babies, Giggapets (also known as tamagachi), The Spice Girls, Jerry Springer, etc.  There was a lot of stuff back then I look back on, and can’t help but laugh at.  And while I’m not about to champion nu metal’s superiority to whatever crappy 8-byt dubstep autotuned robot voice nonsense or ukulele playing pansies are popular now, but I really feel like nu metal gets a bum rep nowadays.

A lot of it unfortunately comes from the spokesmen.  Thrash metal had acts like Metallica and Megadeth: people who not only pioneered the genre, but continue to withstand the test of time today (even if you hated St. Anger).  Progressive rock had iconic bands like Rush, and Queensryche: bands that, while not necessarily popular with EVERYBODY, are popular within their genre.  Power metal has legends like Iron Maiden, Blind Guardian, and Stratovarius: individuals that showed the world the benefits of being a virtuoso at your instrument, and well educated in the realms of fantasy.  Nu metal…  Had Limp Bizkit.

I’ll be the first to admit that thirteen years has done wonders for my opinion of Limp Bizkit’s music, but at the same time, I don’t pretend to forget the past, or abandon common sense.  Even at their best, Limp Bizkit was never shakespear.  No nu metal band was Shakespear, and you should probably go back to power metal if you want that sort of thing.  A lot of the Bizkit could easily be forgiven, though, if Fred Durst himself weren’t such a pain in the ass.  I refer you to the legendary feud he had with the vocalist of Creed, and Woodstock99 for starters.

To this very day, I feel like if nu metal had a different spokesgroup, the genre would have a bit of a better reputation.  Also, if bands like Linkin Park and Papa Roach, the bridge between nu metal and emo, hadn’t come into existence towards the end.

As a brief aside, though, Papa Roach isn’t the worst band I’ve ever heard.  Even when they were straight up rap-rock, they weren’t bad.  The one problem Papa Roach will probably never live down is “Last Resort”: a song that, while having the best of intentions, really didn’t age all that well in hindsight.  I still feel like they ought to have led with a different song.  I’d have gone with “Between Angels and Insects”, which probably laid out the groundwork for my political views in the long run, but I’d have also gone with “Dead Cell”, or the title track to “Infest”.  If it weren’t a B-side, I’d even go with “Legacy”.  They had so many good songs, and they went with “Last Resort”?  Ugh.

Okay, let’s get back on track.

The nu metal genre has many common criticisms.

The first of which, of course, is its simplicity.  A lot of nu metal songs take the old saying of “all you need to know in order to rock is three chords”, and pushes it to the limit.  Hell, some of the founders of the genre made due with only ONE chord!  Are you really going to be mad because someone took your old saying to heart?  It didn’t seem to be a problem when AC/DC was putting it to the test.  But I guess AC/DC came from the 70s, so that means they’re untouchable.  Or at least that’s the attitude around here.

And of course, there’s the popular criticism: all nu metal vocalists are whiners.  I’m not going to defend every single nu metal vocalist in the world, because let’s face it, it’s not one-hundred percent unfounded.  At best, though, I’d say that applies to the mainstream acts more than to the bands I liked.  Linkin Park were whiners.  Limp Bizkit could be pretty whiney when they wanted to be.  Hell, even Korn, the Metallica of nu metal, were pretty god damn whiney on those first couple albums.  But that doesn’t speak for the entire genre.

Whiney vocals aren’t exclusive to nu metal.  If anything, they’re exclusive to emo, except they’re not really exclusive.  I’ve seen my share of whiners in alternative as well.  Some would even say hair metal acts like Poison had their share of whiner moments.  “Every Rose Has its Thorn” is probably the whiniest song to come out of that era.  Bottom line: whiners will always be around.  You just got to sift through the bullshit in order to find good stuff.

People tend to let bands like Limp Bizkit do all the talking for the genre.  They need to dig deeper.  The sooner you quit giving up at the door, and assuming those guys do all the talking, the sooner you can discover something good.  Otep, 3rd Strike, Reveille, Genuflect, Skindred, Trust Company…  The list goes on.  Though I suppose it’s all a matter of opinion in the end.

I probably sympathize more with nu metal than most because I was living the life back then.  I didn’t exactly have a girlfriend who drove me insane with rage with all her bullshit (not until 2004, anyway), but things like dysfunctional families, and directionless rage with no other outlet than just screaming unintelligibly and breaking stuff just cuz is the kind of stuff I’ve gone through.  When you’re living the life, suddenly, that whiney bullshit doesn’t seem so whiney anymore.

Also, if you’re a beginner at guitar, nu metal is a fucking godsend.  Simplicity may not appeal to you as a listener, but when you’re just learning how to make chords, it feels like you’ve accomplished an amazing feat when you’re able to play anything.  As much as I don’t like Linkin Park anymore, I celebrated when I learned how to play “What I’ve Done” on guitar.  Too bad I can’t remember how it goes anymore, but that’s beside the point.  Once you master something simple like a Korn song, you can move on to something a little more advanced.  Like…  Oh, I don’t know, how about Jackyl?

Really, though, nu metal was a reflection of the time.  Us 90s kids were fucking sick of hair metal.  Unlike the hair metal generation itself, we had figured out that dudes with bleach-blonde perms who wore leather and makeup was really, really, super duper gay.  Also, six-minute tracks that consisted of two-minutes of song and four minutes of guitar solo…  Nuh-uh, not doing it for us.  We wanted it simple, we wanted it brutal, and we wanted it vicious.  It began as grunge, but eventually found itself incorporating elements of hiphop and rap as it went on.  And before we knew it, we had a genre we could be proud of.  Up until we hit twenty-five, looked back through our old CDs, and wondered aloud what the hell we ever saw in bands like Dope?

This is all stuff I’ve tackled in my old blog, back when I was writing music reviews and going through my old albums that I’d collected over the years.  I’ve said it there, and I’m saying it here: I really think nu metal gets a bum reputation.

It also doesn’t help that metalheads, as much as they probably don’t want to admit it, are some of the most elitist people you’ll probably ever meet.  Seriously, dude, metalheads fucking hate everything.  Including other metalheads.  I ought to know, too.  I used to hang out with metalheads back in high school.  I even considered myself a metalhead at one point, and to a much lesser extent than back then, I’d say I’m one right now.

But that’s a rant for a whole other day.

Willy Wanka and the Chocolate Factory Would’ve Made a Great Eli Roth Movie

As many people on my Facebook know, my next writing project is a parody: a dark comedy by the name of Charlie’s Chocolate Factory of Unspeakable Horrors.  I’ve always loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I enjoyed the book when I was a kid, and it’s probably one of the extremely few Roald Dahl books I revisit as an adult and don’t feel stupid for admitting out loud I still treasure.  I loved the 1970s movie, maybe even more than the book if that’s even possible.  The 2003 movie by Tim Berton…  Yeah, I pretend that one doesn’t exist.  But everything else is filled to the brim with warm fuzzy nostalgia.

As an adult, though, I noticed something.  This movie, when you really stop and think about it, could very easily be interpreted as a sort of horror movie.  Hear me out before you go all nuts here.

Typical horror movies have a cast of victims.  Five is a pretty good average, and Chocolate Factory has five kids.  One by one, the victims get picked off by a killer: your Freddy Krugers, or your Michael Miarses and what have you.  One by one, the kids get picked off by Wanka’s various inventions.  Until finally, the one character nobody wants to see die makes his grand escape.  Or in the case of Charlie Bucket, he survives the tour, and gets a lifetime supply of chocolate and the keys to a factory.

“But TJB,” you ask, “all those kids were ungrateful little brats who had it coming!  How is that a horror movie?”

Simple.  It’s the exact kind of horror movie you’d see from Eli Roth: the bane of my, and many other horror fans’ existence.

If I’ve learned nothing else from my horror film phase, I’ve learned that try as he might, Eli Roth just doesn’t get it.  Virtually every victim in an Eli Roth movie deserves everything they get, because before they become victims, every single one of them are unrelatable dicks who you can’t wait to watch die.

In a good horror movie, a maximum of one character should ever be like this.  Maybe he’s the first to get picked off by the killer.  That way, you get a feel for the kind of atrocities the castmembers you don’t want to see die are in for.  You’re not supposed to want to see people die: you’re supposed to want the victim to escape!  Sure, if you’re a horror fan like I am, you know for a fact around three out of five victims are going to die.  Hopefully, it’s not the character you identify with the most, and it’s especially crushing when that character ends up being one of the victims.

Eli Roth is less of a horror director writer, and more of a snuff film director writer.  I watched Hostile a long time ago, and I honestly can’t think of a single person in that movie who deserved to live.  The fact one of them got away was the real disappointment of the movie, and that’s how you know you’ve failed as a horror writer.

I’m not saying make everyone a saint straight out of bible camp (trust me, I made that mistake already, so I know it doesn’t work), but the characters should have some sort of redeemable qualities to them.  Even the jerk deserves to have a moment of clarity before he dies, right?

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in my opinion, is almost like Eli Roth horror for kids.  I say ALMOST, because Charlie Bucket is probably the only redeemable character in the entire group.  Aside from him, you’re watching characters like Veruca and Violet get exactly what they deserve: an absurd, ironic, and possibly even violent end.  It would be violent for sure if Roth were writing the novel instead of Dahl.

But hey, that’s just a theory.  Not a game theory…  Maybe a film theory, but I’m guessing good ol’ MatPat holds the copyright to that.  Whatever, I’ve spoken what needs spoken.  Am I insane?  Am I a genius?  You decide.

Charlie’s Chocolate Factory of Unspeakable Horrors is coming soon.  I’ll be the first to let you know when it’s done and when it’s available.  In the meantime, stay tuned to my facebook for updates on that front.