Top 10 Villains I’d Like to see in Future Spider-Man Films

I genuinely loved Homecoming.  It was such a different film from the others.  One of the things I loved about it was the fact that the scope was small.  See, Spider-Man isn’t a hero about saving the world, and his villains typically are small-time crooks who are just trying to get by.  Vulture was just trying to get rich by selling weapons from the MCU.  It was a good character and made for a good villain.  Spider-Man has a rich rogue’s gallery to choose from, each with a goal that isn’t big, because he’s a friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man.  Here are the ones that I’d like to see most in upcoming films.

10. Scorpion
While the look of this guy may be ridiculous, he’s a quirky and fun villain.  This guy is as big a thug for hire as it gets.  He only does work for other villains.  Despite his suit with the deadly tail, it’s all just about getting a paycheck for him.  Not seeing him as a central villain in a film, but he’d be a nice thug that the big bad sends at the wall-crawler.  Would make for some fun fights.  Brings back memories of seeing this guy in Spider-Man: The Animated Series.  Was always something of a comic foil to the bug, but he serves his purpose.

9. Rhino (done right)
Let’s not even talk about Paul Giamatti’s performance in Amazing Spider-Man 2.  That was terrible and cringe-worthy.  Here’s the thing about Rhino – just like Scorpion, he’s a thug for hire in a suit that is equal parts silly and utilitarian.  This guy only works for money, and he’s itching to cause as much destruction as he can in the process.  Also just like the Scorpion, he ends up being a comic foil to the Spider more often than not.  Maybe him and Scorpion could team up?  Just seeing the possibilities.  It’s more a character I want to see just for fan service than anything.  We’ll get to the more substantial villains soon enough.

8. Jack O’Lantern
As I said, to the substantive villains.  Here we have another thug for hire, but this guy is infinitely more malicious.  A former CIA operative, this guy took a look that could be seen as ridiculous and ran with it.  He’s got all kinds of toys to kill with, and a look that is more than a little imposing.  Part of me would love it if this guy was working under someone that we’re going to see much higher on this list.  If I have anyone who actually knows Spider-Man comics, they might see who I mean before I get there.  He may be in it for the cash, but this dude is no joke, and it would be cool to see how they could make him look.  Sure, it’ll be a CG nightmare (genuinely trying to think how this guy could be freaky with practical effects), but it intrigues me all the same.

7. Mysterio
When we talk about the fact that Spider-Man’s villains are small-time, we’re talking about this guy.  A villain who is completely devoid of superpowers in any capacity.  This guy is all about using tricks and manipulation to get what he wants.  His look is kind of silly, but this dude was a stage magician of the highest order.  But it turns out that that doesn’t pay the bills, so he decided to use the tools of his craft to be a career criminal, and even is able to give the Spider a run for his money.  It would be neat if they could make this guy a somewhat sympathetic villain.  He isn’t evil outright, just dirty.

6. Taskmaster
This guy is kind of a great villain that doesn’t get the respect he deserves.  He has a training school where he trains henchmen to hench.  That’s kinda cool.  But the real thing about this guy that he is a badass fighter.  Taskmaster’s trick is that he can remember any move that he has seen in action.  So all he has to do is study his opponents and he can learn their entire fighting style inside and out and be virtually untouchable.  What this means is that even the Spider, with his Spider Sense, can’t get around this dude because he knows his moves before he makes them.  In a film, having this guy to head-to-head with the bug sounds like too much fun because it would be like two guys who are completely untouchable to each other fighting.  Would get brutal.  Too bad this guy is just a thug for hire.  Would make a good big bad.

5. Kraven the Hunter
This guy is just awesome.  I genuinely love this character.  He’s a man who has had a very hard life.  It’s led him to become a big game hunter who has a reputation for killing some of the most dangerous game alive.  If this could tie into the MCU, it would be so awesome to see him killing some of the monsters that the Avengers have had to deal with.  But in the comics, he has his sights set on new prey to hunt – Spider-Man.  A real hunt that can test his skill in a way no other one has.  This guy is badass with a capital B.  In the comics, it is shown that he can hold his own with the bug and is a pretty damn smart hunter.  Would be cool if a film could see their cat and mouse game getting really crazy.

4. The Lizard (done right)
We’re not talking about the version from Amazing Spider-Man who is another villain with a split personality and a goal of turning the world into lizard people.  That was stupid with a capital S.  I’m talking about the version from the comics who is kind of like Spider-Man’s version of Two-Face.  He’s a tragic character.  A man who lose his arm and is so desperate to get it back that he goes to stupid lengths and is eventually the victim of his own ambition.  He’s a character that the Spider never wanted to hurt, but he had to protect people, so they ended up on opposite sides.  It would be cool to see a film where they really nail the human element and we get to see Connors grappling with the reality of what he is, while not wanting to give up being given his arm back.  I love this villain, and want to see it done with the respect it deserves.

3. Tombstone
This was the character I was talking about earlier, who I figured Jack O’Lantern would be working for.  Or Scorpion and Rhino, for that matters.  A small-time crook who goes big in the mob.  This guy is dangerous in the extreme, along with tough.  He’s been seen as a threat to the likes of the Kingpin, along with something of an ally due to their mutual dislike of the Spider.  He’s one of the biggest of the Spider’s villains, so it would be nice if we could get some introduction of this dude first.  Like maybe have him be the villain a film or two led up to.  You know, instead of another lead-in to Venom.  Love the character, but we’ve seen him in one terrible film, and we’ll see if we see him in two.  Tombstone is dark, grisly, and has a long list of violent kills on his resume.  Would be eager to see what would happen when the bug is faced with an enemy who is a threat in a way that goes beyond what he has seen.  A psychopath who has no compunction about doing whatever he has to.

2. Beetle
One of the most obscure of the villains on this list, I’ve been wanting to see this guy go head-to-head with the Spider in a game or film for a while.  It is especially would fit in how he ties in to the MCU.  See, this guy is basically like Iron Man, except with a bigger emphasis on killing.  Wouldn’t it be kind of cool to see the Spider having to tackle this guy, with the idea being it’s kind of like facing off with Tony Stark, who is something of a father figure?  There is so much potential.  Not to mention, this guy is a cool villain.  He doesn’t get nearly the respect he deserves, so hopefully we get to see a proper treatment.

And the villain I want to see most is…

1. Black Cat
Since Homecoming decided to make MJ an insufferable character who is pretty much just a Tumblr page, maybe we can finally see these two hit it off.  I always loved this character.  Pretty much just Marvel’s answer to Catwoman, she is still all kinds of fun.  Enhanced by a super soldier serum, the Black Cat is equal parts beautiful, strong, and wanting in Spider-Man’s pants.  Genuinely serious, can we make her a love interest for the titular character since the new film decided to make the character who Parker is supposed to fall for the most terrible and annoying character I have seen in cinema in a long time?  A cat burglar with super strength who is more of an anti-hero than a true villain, we haven’t gotten to see her in any film, so let’s change that.

Until next time, a quote,

“We got something special, can’t you feel it?” – Black Cat, Spider-Man: The Animated Series

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Life is Strange: Before the Storm (Episode 2)

Sorry this is a little late.  Been trying to organize my thoughts, and have other stuff going on.  Here’s the thing about this game – it’s kind of a mixed bag.  It’s not the original.  Part of me is impressed that it is not trying to be.  This game was created for one purpose and one purpose alone – to give players the back-story between Chloe and Rachel.  But it does make your choices feel weighty.  That’s one thing I’ll give this iteration that the original really didn’t have – player choice feeling substantial.  Since there are so few episodes, there aren’t a huge amount of choices to keep track of.  So the writing is easier.  Plus, it’s easier to make your actions feel meaningful.  Why am I going so far out of my way to preface this?  I guess it’s because I honestly like this prequel.  This review is going to be a little odd.  See, there isn’t a huge amount of stuff to substantively talk about.  The visuals are still in the same vein, and good.  Hell, even the kissing animation you have access to later on isn’t the worst I’ve seen.  It’s not Mass Effect 2 levels of clipping.

What do I think of this episode?  As I said, the core of this prequel is to explain the growth of the relationship between Chloe and Rachel.  And they got that right.  My favorite parts of this episode are when you see the relationship between the two deepening.  It feels pretty good.  It’s not perfect.  The dialogue is stilted as fucked.  But where this game goes right is making the emotions match the scenes.  You do believe these characters when they’re on stage together and Rachel is poetically confessing that she has a bond with Chloe that goes beyond typical friendship.  That scene is heart-warming.

Here’s my issue with this prequel – so much of this really doesn’t feel like it’s tying in to the story from the original.  It kinda feels like I’m ret-conning the lore of that game.  After all, I have worked hard to make the relationship between Rachel and Chloe feel real.  So if the events of the other game happen as you find out they did, then Rachel is doomed to basically cheat on Rachel with Frank.  Given the passion between them, am I to assume that in the months or years from when the prequel ends the two got distant enough for Rachel to leave her girlfriend and not feel at least a little conflicted about it?

Not only that, you can affect where the two girls are looking to run away to, which plays a huge role in what everyone believes happened to Rachel in the original.  Maybe all of this was developed just for fan service to fans of the original.  Maybe I’m really over-thinking this.  But as someone who genuinely enjoyed the original game, a lot of this plot stuff just rubs me a little wrong.

I don’t know.  Maybe I need to change my perspective.  Instead of seeing this as an extension of the original game, see it as its own story.  Where I a guiding the romance between two characters, one of whom I have really grown to like.  I still love Chloe as a character, along with the voice acting.  As stilted as the dialogue is, at least it feels genuine with all the emotion she puts into it.  I just know somebody is going to call me an SJW for liking this stuff.  This game definitely takes inspiration from social justice talking points.  Thankfully, that shit seems to be from characters in periphery.  Chloe and Rachel are not just walking stereotypes of Tumblr feminists.

One thing I really wanna touch on is the dream sequences.  I really do like them.  Each one has a thematic purpose.  The first is Chloe addressing the death of her father from her family, as more and more of him is being stripped away.  The second was her addressing the pain of having her blossoming relationship with Rachel seemingly going up in flames, while her father is the voice of reason who tells her that she still has a place in her life.  This episode had a really great sequence.  It has William sitting in front of the car he crashed, burning, roasting a marshmallow with the raven.  Really wondering what the raven is meant to symbolize in context of this story.  The butterfly from the original symbolized Chloe as a character.  The raven is a point of conjecture.  Chloe sits and starts roasting a marshmallow herself, and William tells her that watching everything burn is beautiful, but she might be missing seeing what other beautiful things are being hidden from her by her perspective.  We see this come to a point when she acts in The Tempest, with the stars in the sky sparkling like the ones on her outfit.

I also am really liking the new side characters you meet.  There is so much more personality from them.  Having a smaller cast let them give characters much more presence, and it really pays off.  This episode has a conversation you can totally miss but I’m glad I didn’t between Chloe and Steph where you can grow closer or end up hurting her and I went out of my way to be honest about the fact that I had Rachel as where I was setting up the romance between the two.  It led to a genuinely touching moment where Steph says you can talk to her about what it’s like, since she has been open about being gay.  Subtle touches like that go a long way.

One thing I wanna mention is the fact that the walking animation is so fucking weird in cutscenes.  During gameplay it’s fine, but in cutscenes the walking is just so strange.  And the running is even weirder.  Do the people who made this just not know how to animated that?  So odd.

Overall, it’s a good continuance of the story.  Granted, the opening act is painfully slow.  But once you get back to the junkyard, things pick up pretty quick.  I like this story.  With a bombshell having been dropped on Rachel at the end of the episode, I am genuinely eager to see how it plays out.

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

The Effect “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” Had on Me

When I was a kid, some of my favorite books to read were the Scary Stories series.  The cover designs were captivating.  Some truly amazing artwork.  The fact that the company who produces those books redid the covers because some soccer moms said it’s too scary for their pussy kids pisses me off.  But here’s the thing about those books – despite their scary imagery, one of the things about each of the stories was that it usually wasn’t that scary.  It was just something that wasn’t understood.  And very few of the stories had endings truly as dark as the visuals you had in your mind.  They had happy endings but with the surreal nature being something for the reader to contemplate.  Or to show that sometimes what you fear is just what you don’t understand.

For little kids, that’s actually a really good lesson.  Kids need to know that not everything they’re afraid of is bad.  Sometimes it’s just something they don’t know.  The sense of fear compels kids to know what happens.  They’re short stories where the author has to build suspense quickly, and the best way to do it is with fear of the unknown.

When I got a little older, I got into Stephen King.  But as interesting as some of his books were, I didn’t get into many of them.  It always built to a point when the source of the fear is explained, and that bored me.  That and that guy has a real problem knowing when to end a book.  Too often he just sucks the premise dry to the point that you don’t even care anymore and just want it to be done.  King has admitted several times that he has written himself into a corner more than once.

Then I happened across a little book by an author I had heard of, but never really read – H.P Lovecraft.  The book was called “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”  It told the story of a narrator who ends up in a small European fishing town, and learns about the secret cult that governs this community.  As he delves further and further into it, he learns a horrifying truth – that the beings that this cult worships are real.  The Deep Ones (or Old Ones, depending) are massive, unknowable, supreme being, ancient in a way that we cannot understand.  The people of this community are trying to cross-breed with them in order to rise to a higher plane of being.  The deeper the narrator gets into this nightmare, the more he is driven to madness because the truth nature of these beings is beyond his comprehension.  It’s beyond anyone’s.  You as a reader are having to realize that you are stuck with this guy, and you can’t tell if his narration is on the level the further it goes.

All of my life, I had questioned religion.  I mean, a story about a wizard in the sky who creates a guy from dirt and then makes a woman from his rib, who gets all pissed because said woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat fruit from a magic tree?  Who wouldn’t be a little bit skeptical of that?  Over 1 billion people in this world, apparently.  Will never get that.  But this book helped solidify what I found the entire concept of a supreme being fucking terrifying.

The Deep Ones are ancient, all-powerful, unknowable, and probably evil, if their motives made sense to us.  But they don’t.  Those who get too close are driven to madness.  Another thing about this is that they see us as less than insignificant.  We mean nothing to them.  That’s because we are nothing to them.  We are ants on this planet, whose petty efforts mean nothing.  As we live and die, they go on.  Generation after generation will perish, but they will remain.  The existence of humanity is just something that happens, and being this ancient, who have seen all the life of this world come and go, is just a small diversion that has no meaning at all.

And in my eyes, that’s what a true God would be.  Why would it care about us?  What would we mean to it?  The Abrahamic faiths wants to believe that this being created us and cares for us.  That makes no sense.  For starters, let’s just get rid of one of the arguments right off the bat.  This universe was not made for us.  We have scientific proof that this universe is billions of years old.  Humanity is just a species that came about after a planet that has existed for billions of years.  All the young-Earth creationists are blithering idiots who have not a single piece of scientific evidence to bolster their claims.  Everything we know about the universe tells us that it is billions of years old.

So why would a supreme being, who has seen countless species that we can’t imagine rise and fall on this lonely speck of dust in this one galaxy, give any amount of a shit about us?  It wouldn’t.  Objectively, there is NO reason why it would.  It’s ridiculous.  If you existed outside of time and space, seeing countless creatures and even countless sentient civilizations come and go, why would you care about this one?  Here’s a fact – it is a mathematic impossibility that this planet is the only one with life.

When I see people who say that they have a hotline to God and that they understand his will, I see two types of people.  The first are shysters like Ray Comfort and Joel Osteen.  They are just as much of an atheist as I am, only concerned about the money.  The second are the lunatics who are using religion to bolster their madness.  Only difference is that their supreme being is nowhere to be seen.  Can you only imagine what kind of madness this world would devolve into if a cult like the one in “Shadow Over Innsmouth” was real and was known to the rest of the world?  It horrifies me.

That books shaped a lot of my beliefs about the world.  Lovecraft had a firm belief that what you couldn’t see or understand was where fear comes from.  When I hear people say they fear God, it strikes me that they choose to believe because they are afraid of displeasing this entity that can destroy them.

As for me, I choose to believe there is nothing.  Because if one day the clouds are ever pulled back and this deity actually reveals itself, that’s when the real nightmare begins.  Just read how that books ends.

Until next time, a quote,

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is of the unknown.” – H.P. Lovecraft

Peace out,

Maverick

LGBT Characters in Gaming

Let’s talk a little history.  I don’t know how many of you were around and conscious of what television in the 90’s was like.  Much like the film industry, it produced some of the biggest garbage in the world.  You had shit like Friends and Full House, both of which got unbelievably popular due to nostalgia that people seem to believe the entertainment was so much better back then.  These people are what people like me call “clinically insane.”  But here’s something you may not remember – the 90’s didn’t always write gay characters very well.  Some of the biggest stereotypes about the LGBT community came into being then.  Now, the thing is that they aren’t negative stereotypes.  In fact, they were overwhelmingly positive.  There is a reason for that.  Maybe it was making up for old negative stereotypes, or people just not being able to write these kinds of characters very well.  Whatever the reason, they were all bad.

Here was the problem – these characters all had a bad habit of announcing that they’re gay to everyone they meet.  They are so damn proud of being gay and they are damn sure going to make sure that everyone knows it.  It was bad writing in the worst way.  All of these characters had a bad habit of the fact that they are gay being their entire life.  It isn’t one facet of it, but every facet of it.  Everything in their lives centers around the fact that they’re gay.  It was lazy, terrible writing that led to some of the most one-dimensional characters we ever got to see.

Time went by, however, and writers were able to get past whatever hangup they had and were able to start writing very rounded gay characters who were characters first, gay second.  They had rich personalities and issues with life that are part of the issues everyone has.  It led to some truly fantastic characters, like my favorite anti-hero, Omar Little from The Wire.

That sure was a long intro to talking about what this post is going into.  Gaming is at a similar crossroads.  What led us here is the fact that a lot of gamers are now part of an older generation.  The average age of gamers is closer to 30 than 20.  It’s become a part of popular culture, and is quickly overtaking Hollywood in telling engaging narratives that people can get wrapped up in.  As such, it’s only natural that we see games taking on more and more adult themes.  Things like the nature of marriage and ’til death do you part (Uncharted 4), the price of fame and losing one’s fame and selling out to greed (Persona 5), justifying evil for the greater good and the redemption that comes with being willing to change (Mass Effect 2 and 3).

Something that comes with writing narratives that are more complicated means having characters that are more complicated.  After all, people are not one-dimensional.  And it also means looking at other parts of life.  Like different kinds of relationships.  It was only natural that the gay community would make an appearance in this medium sooner or later.  Now sure, the core gaming audience is men.  That’s just how that goes.  The CoD games will never tackle this sort of thing.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the fact that narratives involving LGBT characters will typically be niche.

For a medium that has a real problem with subtlety, looking into something like this should be a niche thing.  There’s a reason why.  Let’s look at one of my favorite examples of it being done right and then it being done wrong.

In The Last of Us, you meet a character named Bill.  Bill is kind of a crazy man.  He’s weird, unwell, and has a real problem with Joel’s tiny companion.  Granted, they meet with her smashing a pipe on his arm.  That’s something.  However, as you go on with his narrative, he tells Joel of a person that he had to look after.  At first, he calls him his “partner,” and really doesn’t want to get very specific about him.  There is genuine venom in his voice when he talks about this guy.  What happened between these two?  When you get to a house after escaping the school, you find out.  He’s hanging from a noose that he rigged to stop himself from becoming one of the infected.

It’s here that we see another side of this.  At first, he’s clinical about it.  He’s looking over the body and seeing what happened.  But as you listen to him talk about him, there’s real pain in his voice.  Pain, anger, all sorts of emotions.  It’s a testament to what a good performance the voice actor does how much depth he brings into talking about this guy.  As I was playing this with my gay girly-mate Erin, she had this to say, “they had to have dated.”  To which I asked, “how do you figure?” “Easy, you don’t hate someone this much unless you’ve dated.”  Well put.  Bill lives a life where everything is regimented and safe.  When you find Frank’s letter, it tells of a man who was angry with Bill.  He wanted more from life than Bill was willing to give, and it ended in him leaving.  In his last letter, he says how much he hated Bill and wanted more from life than he wanted to give.

What happened between these two?  We never know.  It clearly must have been a very damaged relationship.  The audience can see some of the history and it’s enough to tell us a tragic story of two men who ended up hating each other because of irreconcilable differences in how they lived.  In a world where love for a gay person must be unfathomably hard to come by, to lose that relationship must have been hard for both of them.  But by the end both of them hated one-another.  It was done so well, and played very subtly.  I love everything about the nature of that relationship.  It also shows a side of Joel.  He figures out pretty quickly the deal between Bill and Frank, but he doesn’t make a big deal out of it.  After all, he is a Texan.

Now let’s look at this done wrong.  In Mass Effect 3, you meet a shuttle pilot named Steve Cortez.  He seems like an interesting character.  But there is a stark contrast of narrative quality in his his story plays out, depending on if you have male or female Shepard.  If you have female, it is a very interesting narrative about a man who is getting over the loss of someone dear to him.  If you have male Shepard, it’s a narrative about a gay man throwing his grief away in a nano-second in order to try and jump your bones.  It’s cringe-worthy to say the least.  Since I preferred Femshep because she was a much more engaging character, I was able to see the story done right.

What happened?  I’ll tell you – a narrative had to be spun.  See, we have another player in the problem with writing gay characters in gaming right now – SJWs.  Social justice decided to come in and take over the writing process of this character, all so they could call foul when the gamers were like, “this gay sex scene sucks.  Where did this come from?”  Good fucking question.  He was poorly written in order to spread a narrative and get a subject matter talked about.

This has happened quite a bit.  Gay characters are being written where the fact that they’re gay is their entire personality.  Or now the big one is trans.  Like how Ubisoft created an openly transgender character in Victorian London.  A time when I guarantee NO ONE was open about gender dysphoria.  Yet this character is all about talking about it to whoever they meet.  Or the trans character in Mass Effect: Andromeda, who really had to make a big deal out of this when they have a fuck-ton more things to worry about.

I get why this medium is going to be the hardest to write these kinds of characters in.  The core demographic is men.  That’s a demographic that is going to see this stuff pretty black and white.  Hell, in this insanely divisive culture that we live in, nuance is hard to see on any sides.  This is why I genuinely believe that if we are going to see more and more gay characters, it needs to be first handled in the niche markets, where it can be handled with a deft hand, rather than a stick to beat people over the head with, despite how rarely that deft hand is applied.

But maybe there’s hope.  I just got done with the latest episode to a prequel to my favorite game of 2015 – Life is Strange.  That game already had a very well-done relationship between Chloe and Max, but the real stand-out example of a blossoming romance that I genuinely enjoyed playing was in the prequel.  While it is miles below the original, the thing I can say is that the relationship between Chloe and Rachel that I have been able to help shape feels genuine.  And this most recent episode had payoff to that.  We’ll see if it can keep the trend of well-done character development happen.

*Update: The third episode of Life is Strange: Before the Storm totally fucked the relationship between Chloe and Rachel.  There was no payoff.  Zero.  The last episode might as well have pretended their relationship didn’t exist*

The ultimate message of this ramble is that making gay characters should be about making characters first.  Being gay is a part of a person’s life, but it isn’t everything.  At least not if they aren’t these social justice idiots who feel the need to make everything tie back into it.  It’s just one part of who that person is.  That’s how these kinds of characters need to be written.  Make them a character first.  Make gamers like them for who they are, then ease them in.  Just like how straight men can have gay friends who they are cool with, I guarantee that that gay friend knows that he can’t be too in this person’s face with how they are, because they know it would make the other person uncomfortable.

Wow, this seems like a whole lot of nothing, doesn’t it?  Maybe I should have made this a RAB post.  Unsure.  What do you all think?  Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“Do you think there’s a point where you’ve been acting so much that you don’t even have your own personality anymore?” – Rachel Amber, Life is Strange: Before the Storm

Peace out,

Maverick

If Single Player Games Die, I’m Done

That’s not hyperbole.  Some people say shit like, “I hate this company!  I’m never buying another one of their products again!” even though you know deep-down that they are.  Like every idiot who says “I’m never eating at McDonald’s again!”  Bullshit!  You already debase yourself by eating there.  You’re going again.  Don’t lie to us.  However, for me, this isn’t just some design decision.  This is a personal issue that I refuse to be a part of.

I got into gaming because of how lonely I was, growing up.  I didn’t have many friends, and escaping to fiction was better than real life of being all by myself all the time.  Some of my favorite stories, growing up, were told in video games.  I got lost in the fantasy world of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.  I felt myself captivated by tragic and beautiful narrative in Final Fantasy X.  My youth was all about my best friends and I escaping into fiction.  Later on in my life it was me and my cat.  Her name is Lizzy.  She is extremely old and it’s pretty clear her health is declining.  The parents keep talking about her losing her mind, and while I shrug it off, part of me does wonder.  When I had my big chair, my kitty would sit on the arm.  I’d play games and watch movies and she was always with me.  A loyal friend, whose idea of perishing fills me with genuine pain.

In college, I played the Mass Effect trilogy so many times that I know most of my favorite character’s dialogue by heart!  I got through some unbelievably painful personal moments with those games.  Does this make me sound pathetic?  It wasn’t just games.  My favorite movies, books, TV shows, long walks where I get to look at beautiful things, it all helped me get through horribly difficult times in my life.  But gaming is a big one.

So when I see articles talking about how single-player gaming is going the way of the dodo, it genuinely fills me with a pit inside that I cannot describe.  Here’s the thing – I will NEVER be into multiplayer games.  Moreover, I’ll never be into MMOs.  Why?  Because I game for stories.  Guess what kind of story Destiny had – a shit one.  How about Destiny 2?  That story was shit too.  What about The Division?  Shit.  Or how about all the Call of Duty games?  The last time I enjoyed a narrative from them was Modern Warfare 2.  Hell, even the Assassin’s Creed games are trying to make themselves multiplayer.  It kills me inside.

Now, plenty of people have pointed out all the fantastic single-player only games that have come out lately.  This year has had some real standout examples of the genre.  My favorite game thus far has been Persona 5.  To see a AAA JRPG is something I NEVER believed I’d see in my lifetime.  It’s incredible that such a thing now exists, and it was a massive hit.  All the dates it was pushed back clearly was the right call, because it got everything right.  There was also Horizon: Zero Dawn.  While it has its flaws, it is a unique concept that really put forth the effort to make a different experience.  We also got a truly fantastic remake of Doom, where the biggest lesson the developers got to take away is that people loved it beyond words for the singe player, while hating its multiplayer components.  So there may be hope.

But it does seem like more and more AAA developers wants to move away from that kind of game.  We also have microtransactions seeping their way into single-player games.  This disheartens me for a lot of reasons.  For starters, just think of all the great visions that will be stifled by companies who only want to cater to markets where they can make as much money as they can, all the time.  What kind of gaming market is that setting up?  That’s simple – one that isn’s sustainable.  After all, people move on from games.  How many of the servers for the old CoD games still run?  Are there any servers for EA’s shit-tastic remake of Sim City?  Oh, right, they patched single player in because everyone hated their half-assed excuse for multiplayer.

Part of me thinks that all of this talk is indicative of a medium that can’t sustain itself anymore.  The cost of game development has just gotten so huge that unless they make games that are money-factories, they lose money on making games.  Because after all, you gotta make the most cutting-edge properties all the time, right?  Middle-tier games that may not have the best visuals or maybe have some funky controls or what-have-you, where devs can find ways to experiment and try new things?  Nope!  Can’t have that.  That might involved having the guts to sink money into something and not get it all back.  Because Hollywood refuses to take risks, so why should we?

I will never want to play games for multiplayer.  It doesn’t matter what bullshit the desiccated husks at Bioware put out, I still don’t want it.  EA decided to shit-can Visceral Games and turn their latest Star Wars project into a new Destiny game.  Because why try to make an interesting game when you can make a cash cow that the Star Wars fanboys will cum in their pants for because of the license.  I swear, it’s the only reason EA’s new Battlefront game made any money at all.  Same with why the second will make money.  Because if they can shove the name in your face enough, it’s gotta be good…right..?

So when I say that if single-player in games dies, I’m done, I mean it.  I’ll just collect all the games I loved and will just die off in nostalgia, because what the fuck would I want to play the latest MMO sandbox game?  That’s not why I game.  It will NEVER be why I game.  Desperately hoping I’m not alone in this thought.

Until next time, a quote,

“Words are how we think; stories are how we link.” – Christina Baldwin

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: Single Player Microtransactions

I don’t know who to blame for this.  I suppose I could blame the dumb-shit gamers who actually made this happen.  After all, it truly is their fault.  They had every opportunity to not support this kind of behavior.  Back when games had them paying for stupid shit like custom skins or weapon packs.  Maybe it could have been when games started having Season Passes.  Maybe then?  Yeah, that seems like a good fucking point to have stopped.  I know!  Maybe it was when you had games start becoming pay-to-win multiplayer experiences?  Yeah, that seems like a great point to stop.  But nope, people too stupid to vote with their wallets enabled this.  You all are a bunch of enablers, allowing game companies to gouge you without any real effort to stem the tide.  I guess it isn’t just fools and their money who are parted.  It’s gamers too.

Middle Earth: Shadow of War has single-player microtransactions.  What’s more, it is genuinely pay-to-win.  If you aren’t willing to grind to insane degrees, you are going to shell out a frankly absurd amount of money to get the true ending to the game.  It’s insulting.  It’s legalized gambling in the gaming sphere.  After all, players are shelling out money to game companies with no guarantee of what the return is going to be.  None.  If you’re spending money without knowing what you’re getting in the hopes of getting something good, you know what I call that – a gamble.  Gaming companies have made gambling a part of their pay-to-win formula.  It’s disgusting.  It’s insulting.  Why aren’t more people outraged by this?!

You know that Battlefront II game you’re so hyped for?!  Guess what, it’s entirely pay-to-win!  And they use the same formula!  Loot boxes that you have no guarantee of what they will give you.  Whether it be something good or complete shit.  If you want to get better weapons, then you will shell out an insane amount of money to get enough boxes in order to get the amount of spare parts you need.  This game all the stupid fucking Star Wars fanboys are going to cum in their pants over is screwing you.  No joke, it’s fucking screwing you.  You people are the reason I am done with Star Wars.  All the fanboys who cried when Episode VII’s trailer was released.  Did nobody notice what a fucking rip-off of the original that was?!  Did anyone notice how this new game is basically just a re-skin of Empire Strikes Back?  Maybe it’s the walkers attacking a rebel base with a small group of defenders coming out in low-altitude vehicles that gave it away?  Oh, and our hero is off on a planet alone with an old Jedi learning the ways of the Force, and it seems to be pointing to it ending with them being tempted by the Dark Side.  Sound, fucking, familiar?!

Part of me is genuinely worried that this practice is going to become commonplace.  Soon studios who are known for quality content are going to decide, “why not?” and do it themselves.  After all, it’s not like the gamers are actually doing something to stop it.  I am.  I refuse to participate in it.  I won’t be paying game companies for DLC that is on the fucking disc!  I won’t be buying a game where I have to pay to be able to win it the way it wants.  I especially won’t be buying a game where you are having to fucking gamble to win.  That’s insulting to a sickening degree.

Here’s where I turn it over to you – why are you?  What could possibly compel you to play a game where you have to gamble and pay obscene amounts of your money in order to win?  “But Lucien, look at the gameplay!  It looks so cool!”  Is that really enough?  Does it having cool factor give you the confidence to spend your fucking money on it?!

I don’t know how to stop this.  The only truly effective method to stopping this is to not buy this stuff.  But I know that’s a fool’s errand.  Dumb-shit Star Wars fanboys will cum in their pants and buy it.  And fans of Shadow of Mordor will shell out their money because the first game was so good.  This is how they seem to do it.  Make a good first game, or in Battlefront’s case a decent first game, and then make a sequel that looks cooler so you can con them into this shit.  We have to vote with our wallets, people!  We cannot pay money into this!  Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels this way.  Please!  Unless people start voting with their wallets, it’s only going to get worse.

The thing I fear most is when games like The Last of Us, Part 2 and Insomniac’s Spider-Man start doing this stuff.  When I see games outside of the broken AAA market that is full of greedy corporations who now have a reputation for screwing their consumers left and right without their consumers ever giving enough of a shit to try and stop them.  And make no mistake, the more people do this, the worse it’s going to get.  Mark my fucking words.

Mark them.

Until next time, a quote,

“What would your favorite author say, Captain?  ‘Let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings’?” – Gen Chang, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Peace out,

Maverick

Let’s Respond to 20 Things Men Can Do to Support Women (according to Medium)

I haven’t done one of these in forever.  After I got through all of BuzzFeed Yellow’s insipid catalog of crap, I haven’t had one of these to do.  Well, a woman who isn’t know for anything outside of being a glorified blogger decided to go to Medium and make another list.  I decided to respond to it and see if I fit the terms of a person who supports women, according to the criteria that she laid out.  Here’s a link to the article, now let’s see how I do.

Overcome your own transphobia. Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Accept the lived truth of NB and GNC people, whether or not they are women.

Nothing to overcome.  I treat people as they come.  I don’t care about trans people any more or less than I don’t already care about anyone else.  I’m a misanthrope.  Granted, I believe in treating all people with basic levels of respect, so long as they treat me in kind.  That seems like a good criteria.  Unless of course that person is Riley J Dennis, in which case she can fuck right off because she is a prick who has the same beliefs about sexual preferences as pray-the-gay-away preachers.  So I got this first one down.  Excellent.

Be pro-choice and be vocal in support of reproductive rights. (And generous! Give to the National Network of Abortion Funds!) Understand that the opposite of reproductive choice is forced childbearing.

I have made donations in the past to Planned Parenthood, which I trust infinitely more than your charity because it is known for the results it gets and the transparency which it operates.  I have always been pro-choice.  Got this one too.  Damn!  I am on a roll!

Support subsidized birth control. Support women’s healthcare. Support women’s preventative healthcare. Support medical trials that include (or even prioritize) women.

I’ll do you one better, cupcake.  Instead of just supporting women’s healthcare, I support universal healthcare.  That way, everyone can have the healthcare they need without worrying if it will put them in bankruptcy.  So I am actually one-upping you here.  Nice!  I think I may be a very good “ally” for women, according to this woman’s criteria.  But I won’t be supporting medical trials that prioritize women.  If it’s for a drug or medical procedure that’s for both genders instead of just being a drug for women, then there’s no reason for me to support prioritizing women.  None.  So you got me there.

Support nontaxed menstrual products. Ask your workplace if tampons and pads are free. If they’re not, advocate for them to be free. Get over any embarrassment you may have about menstruation.

Don’t care about menstruation.  It’s all just biology to me.  As for supporting non-taxed, why would I support a product being given out for free?  Condoms aren’t free.  If it’s a product made by a company, why would I support them not charging money for it?  Companies can have whatever policy they want in regards to selling this stuff, but as for me, I don’t support us just giving shit away to people if it cost money to produce.  So I can’t support this part.  Guess my ally cred is slipping.

Vocally advocate at your workplace for longer and more egalitarian paid parental leave, whether or not parenthood is part of your life. Advocate for lactation spaces. Advocate for on-site or subsidized childcare.

Here’s a question – do you believe this should be applied equally to men.  Some countries have paid paternity leave.  That seems fair.  But here’s the thing – people leaving on maternity leave is an imposition on a company.  I’m not about to sit here and pretend that a corporation whose only concern is making money should just totally wave off the fact that losing an employee to have a kid is a problem for them.  Is that fair?  No.  But it’s the risk women taken when they choose to have children.  I’m sorry, but most women understand that risk when they take that step.

Tell your elected officials that you are a man who votes and you prioritize women’s issues when you decide who to vote for. Then actually prioritize women’s issues when you decide who to vote for. Understand that women’s issues are your issues.

I don’t prioritize women’s issues.  I prioritize issues that affect my life.  Like when my state chose to legalize pot.  I vote in that election.  I voted in the primary for Bernie Sanders, then wrote in Harambe in the general election because I didn’t (and still don’t) support either of those ass-clowns.  If that’s a problem, sorry-not-sorry.  Issues for other women are not necessarily my issues.  I’m not a feminist.  I’m an egalitarian.  In that same election where we voted to legalize pot, I voted to raise the minimum wage because the girl I was dating at the time was making that and I supported that issue.

Whenever you are in a group composed of only men (whether it’s social, work, church, or whatever) ask yourself why there are no women present. Then ask out loud why. Force an honest answer.

I have no groups I am a part of that only have men.  I’m not really a group person.  I don’t believe in Gawd.  My office has a ton of women in it.  My immediate supervisor is a woman, and she is viewed as the mom of the office for being so good at whipping it into shape.  She’s a hell of a woman and has years of status under her belt showing she’s earned her place.  So yeah, this question has no relevance to me of any kind.

Cultivate genuine, intimate, nonsexual friendships with women.

Got a ton of those.  No problem whatsoever.

Seek out women to be your heroes and mentors.

My heroes are George Carlin and H.L. Mencken.  Find me a woman who can compare to them and I’ll let you know what I think.

Any time you see a building, street, institution, etc. named for a man, see how long it takes you to spot another one named for a woman.

What the fuck do I care what a building, street, or institution is named after?  Nothing.  Why do you care?  What effect does this have on your life?

Ask yourself what things you don’t do, for whatever reason, that you also think of as something women tend to do. (Sew? Send birthday cards? Care about skincare?) Try doing it for a while, just to see what it’s like to be a person who does the thing.

I love to cook, I take care of my sad apartment by myself.  I’ve sewn buttons back on clothes.  Went shopping for lotion with a girly-mate and was cool when she bought some for me.  There’s nothing to think about.  What is this idea that all men seem to believe that there are some tasks that only women are supposed to do?  I guess only women can have lesbian sex.  There’s a task.  I found one.  Happy now?

Talk less. In all spaces. At all times. At a lower volume.

Um, no.  So long as I’m not hurting anyone or being rude and interrupting, I’ll do whatever the fuck I want when I’m not at my job.  Don’t assume you have ANY right to tell me how to conduct myself.

When you need support, reach out to men as well as women. Work to be a person your friends of all genders can reach out to when they need support. Create a culture of openness around yourself.

Nobody wants me around when I need support.  See, I’m kind of a negative person suffering from hardcore depression.  However, because of my depression, I keep an open door to all people in my circle of friends who need to talk.  That’s important to me.  Because I am the kind of person who is easy to forget, I will never let anyone in my circle who wants me there to feel they are forgotten.  So got the openness status all locked down.

Consume media marketed to women. Don’t perform your consumption.

I don’t care who media is marketed towards so long as it fits in my view of things I like.  My favorite film of all time is a hardcore love story (5 Centimeters Per Second).  Does that count?  I’ll consume whatever I like.  I like and dislike a lot of things.  My likes and dislikes run the gamut.  But I don’t think about it as something marketed towards women.  I think about it in terms of – do I think this product looks good?  If yes, then I consume it.  It’s why I drink fruity drinks and not whiskey shots.  Why are you working so hard to divide media when you should be taking my approach and encouraging people to create media that is meant to be marketed as broadly as possible?

Deprogram your beliefs about thinness being an optimal state of feminine beauty. Deprogram your beliefs that your desire matters in determining a woman’s worth.

No.  Fuck you.  What I want in a partner is my business.  It’s not yours or anyone else’s.  Same with what you want.  Since I’m bisexual, my desires for men and women are my own.  And yeah, I’m never gonna find a landwhale attractive.  I’m sorry.  I don’t mind women with a few extra pounds.  I like a girl I can eat a pizza with or get a burger and not have her going on about how bad it is.  A totally platonic girly-mate occasionally comes over for dinner and she goes to the gym but also likes the food I make.  I just won’t find attractive a quality in a person that I believe is detrimental.  If someone is eating themselves to death, I find that unappealing.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Obese has NEVER been the standard of beauty.  It never will.

Jerk off without porn for a while. EDIT: This really should be “Pay for your porn.” In particular, seek out (and pay for) porn that’s made by women, queer people, and people of color, and that’s produced ethically. Consume sexual culture as thoughtfully as you would consume any culture.

I jerk off without porn all the time.  I have a very vivid imagination.  I don’t care who porn is made by.  I care about the content.  Don’t even bother to look into who made something.  It’s almost like I’m just trying to get off and then go about my day.

Learn about racism and intersectionality, and do everything you can to empower and amplify black women and NBWOC.

Not into the social justice scene.  Not even a little.  I fucking hate this victim culture people in the first world have.  So yeah, can’t get on-board with that even a little.

Detach yourself from straw-man definitions for hot-button issues (intersectionality, cultural appropriation, political correctness, preferred pronouns, etc.) and learn what they’re really about. Unpack the real meanings behind phrases like “SJW” and “feminazi.” Believe people when they say they’re in pain.

I have detached myself from straw-man definitions.  See, part of why I respond to posts like these is so I can make sure I don’t leave out context.  For many years I have responded to posts like this and made very clear my disdain for a large swath of people within the social justice community because of the things they say and the ideas they propagate.  So yeah, not gonna get behind this either.

Prioritize kindness.

Decent advice, I guess.

Befriend children.

I hate children.  I will never like children.  The job I have right now is the greatest form of birth control in the universe.  So yeah, never gonna do that either.

All things considered, this was pretty standard feminist advice bullshit for men.  Seen shit like this before on BuzzFeed.  Honestly surprised she didn’t say to stop looking at lesbian porn or something like that, but whatever.  How did I do?

Until next time, a quote,

“I won’t bore you with the details, but after reading these articles I discovered three modes of excuse-making – I mean thinking! – 1. pointless list-making, 2. dumb observations, and 3. overly intellectualizing” – Harry Ass Plinkett

Peace out,

Maverick

Critical Examination: There Doesn’t Need to be a Discussion About Difficulty in Gaming

I recently watched the review of Cuphead by a YouTuber that I find genuinely engaging.  I often have some disagreements with stuff or think some of his perspectives are not the best, but I am not the kind of person who has to agree with everything someone says to like their content.  Contrary to popular opinion, not all of us critics of the regressive left are as bad as the people we criticize.  Some of us actually can deal with disagreement and even have some genuinely lively banter on the subject.  This particular YouTuber and I have actually had very lively debate in the comments section of my own posts where I reference their work.  As a way of helping promote this individual, here is a link to their review of Cuphead, now let’s get to the point.

In the video, he says that there is a genuine discussion that should be had about difficulty in gaming.  This talking point has come about after a frankly hilarious video of a game journalist being oddly incapable of dealing with the tutorial level had this person getting well-deserved ridicule.  There was a guy who is very physically handicapped making a video showing his ability to play the game well.  I’m sorry, but he fucked up, and there’s nothing wrong with making fun of the video that was put out and his butthurt reaction to it.  There is especially nothing wrong with ridiculing video game journalists for standing up for being bad at games when this is their line of work.

The aforementioned YouTuber said difficulty vs accessibility in games is a worthwhile discussion.  I am here to respectfully disagree.  Now let me make something clear – I’m not talking about this when it comes to video games that are virtually unplayable.  If a game has a stupid difficulty spike that makes things unfair, that is something worth calling out.  I’m talking about games that make very clear the fact that they are hard and you should be expecting that.

Best example – Dark Souls, but instead of looking at that (because I never got into the franchise), let’s take a look at a game in the same vein that I happen to love – BloodborneBloodborne is hard.  Really hard.  This game will fuck you up.  Dark Souls is a game where you are encouraged to play defensively and wait for openings to attack.  Bloodborne is nothing like that.  Playing defensively will get you killed.  The reality is that it is a game where you are actively encouraged to take risks.  Did you just take a really bad hit?  Well, if you have the guts and fast timing, you can get back into the fight and regain some of the health if you do it quickly.  You got a limited window, idiot!  So get in there and fight!  That style of gameplay is not accessible to everyone.  Plus, the fact that the game demands that style of play also means that you are going to be putting you fate in the hands of blind luck more than you’d like.

But here’s the thing – the players of this game know this.  They accept this.  It’s an understood risk of playing this game.  Because that’s the kind of game that From Software makes.  It’s in the vein of a franchise that was marketed specifically on it being really, really hard.  The original poster for Dark Souls had the line “Prepare to Die” on it.  Players went in with both eyes wide open.  Uncompromising difficulty.  But here’s the thing – you can learn how to work with that.  You learn the placement of the enemies, and the weaknesses of bosses.  Then you put that knowledge to use and fight your ass off.  A little luck will sometimes be required, but you will learn by trial and error.  Lots, and lots of error.

At what point does a game that is difficult become inaccessible?  When it doesn’t appeal to the casual?  Games that market themselves on difficulty are by their nature going to be niche.  Despite the mainstream success of Dark Souls and Bloodborne, they are games made for a certain type of gamer and they know that.  They aren’t the only ones.  Look at Devil May Cry 3 as another example.  That game’s difficulty is downright punishing at points.  The final fight with Vergil requires nerves of steel and a little bit of genuine luck to overcome.  But players understood this.  No one was saying back in the day that we needed to have an Easy mode.

The big debate seems to be that we need to make games easier so that people who don’t like difficult games can have them.  Why?  Why should a game designer compromise their creative image of a game in order to cater to people who don’t want to invest the time or energy to master the game’s mechanics?  You can become pretty badass at Bloodborne if you just learn the placement of enemies and learn how to telegraph their attacks.  I can take on giants and wolf-men early on just by being able to dodge at then strike while taking time to step back and recover energy.  It’s not that hard.  Guess who I did that – by mastering the game’s mechanics.  While the enemies get more difficult in New Game Plus, now I have the weapons I like best and can make even shorter work of my foes.  Because by now I’ve played the game long enough to have that level of mastery.

Plus, there is no way to make that game easy.  Not really.  The game’s entire mechanics are centered around the difficulty and playing well to be able to overcome that.  Everything is built around that!  Take that away and what are you left with?  A game where you wander around beautiful gothic environments and kill the occasional bad guy.  Where’s the fun there?

I’m not seeing where this idea that games need to be easier in order to cater to more people comes from.  The new Assassin’s Creed game has a kind of spectator mode where there are no enemies or threats and you can just wander around the world and look at stuff.  I mean, sure, the environments are pretty, but why not just make a game that is an open world walking simulator at that point?  I don’t even hate walking simulators on their merits.  My favorite game of 2015 was Life is Strange.  But Assassin’s Creed isn’t that type of game.  It’s the kind of game where you are supposed to be taking out targets and using stealth to infiltrate places.  All of the game’s mechanics are built around that.  Take that away and what’s left?  Nothing important, that’s what.

Here’s the thing – I get that hard games can be frustrating to people.  The uncompromising difficulty of Cuphead with its catchy art style and glorious music (sucks that I don’t have an Xbox One.  Will never get to play it unless I get a decent gaming PC) is something players have to adapt to.  But forgive me if I actually believe that players can do that, instead of having to have their hands held the whole damn time because the devs need to make a mode just so they can get in on the fun.  I can play the easy mode on Persona 5 because I love the story and I am just dying to get ahead on it without grinding for long periods of time.  But then I can crank up the difficulty on Doom and rip and tear with the vast arsenal.  But the thing is that both devs made those choices for those modes to be in it.  Can you imagine Doom with a safe mode?  That sounds boring as fuck.

Will be sending this article to the aforementioned YouTuber.  We’ll see where this goes.  What about all of you?  Thoughts about the difficulty vs accessibility in gaming?  Let me know in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“It is one of man’s curious idiosyncrasies to create difficulties for the pleasure of solving them.” – Joseph de Maistre

Peace out,

Maverick

How Many Steps Forward Do I Take?

There’s this retarded video making the rounds that is supposed to educate everyone about the nature of privilege and show me that I’m a bad person for having all the privilege with the camera consistently cutting to some black guy who feels dejected for not being as far ahead as everyone else.  Well, I’ve decided to see how many steps I get to take.  I’ll answer each question and we’ll count the steps at the end.  I’ll also be proving a point with this at the same time.  I am a lower-class adult who is living just above the poverty level.  I grew up VERY lower-middle class.  As I said, it’s going to prove a point.

Take two steps forward if your parents are still married

Over 25 years and counting.  Probably closer to 30.  Took my two steps (in my mind).

Take two steps forward if you grew up with a father figure in the home.

Wait, I thought one of the big things is how we don’t need fathers anymore?  I thought that was a big regressive left talking point?  Took my two steps, though.  Thank Groj I’m not actually having to do this in real life.  My tiny-ass apartment isn’t good for it.

Take two steps forward if you had access to private education

The idea that my family was affording that is amusing to me.  I’m a public school boy just like pretty much the rest of you.  Ain’t taking those steps.

Take two steps forward if you had access to a free tutor

Not even in the state university I went to.  No steps taken.

Take two steps forward if you never had to worry about your cell phone being shut off

I’ve been so poor that my phone was shut off.  That’s the thing about having a prepaid cheap as shit phone.  Still standing here.

Take two steps forward if you’ve never had to help your parents with bills.

Finally, moving again.  Yeah, my parents are excellent with the money they have and are able to save well.  They learned how to do poverty right and thanks to both of them working for the school district in my hometown, they both have stable retirement, but it’s understood that because of their financial situation, one of them will be working until they are REALLY old.  Took my two steps, but this question is ignoring the nuance of the situation.

Take two steps forward if it wasn’t for your athletic ability, you didn’t have to pay for college.

My debt was $46,000.  Blow me.  Standing right here.

Take two steps forward if you’ve never had to worry about where your next meal would come from

I’ve starved myself before because of the poverty I’ve been in over the years.  But please, tell me again about all the privilege I have because of the color of my skin.  All fucking ears.

So let’s count the steps.  I took six.  Six steps.  How much do you figure the rich black kid who grew up on the hillside in the city I live in took?  A fuck of a lot more.  This stupid video that’s making the rounds ignores all nuance because it’s easier to show the dejected black guy looking sad and play to one’s pathos than to look at those of us who grew up in a poor community and had to work our fucking asses off to get where we are.  I hate that video, and fuck the people who say it’s so inspiring.  Fuck everyone who wants to tell me about the fact that I have it so much better because I’m white.

Here’s the thing about privilege – if someone could tell me how I could cash this shit in, I would.  I really would.  Without a second thought, I would.  I’d go to the Privilege Bank and get all the perks I could get, today.  My life has been so fucking hard and I am so fucking tired of being poor and having to balance doing repairs on my car with saving a hundred bucks a month.  That’s the position I’m in.  You want to tell me about how I have it so good because of my fucking privilege?  Yeah, you do that, upper-middle class white girl with hair dyed a color not found in nature, of the black kid who is attending an Ivy League school on your parent’s dime.

Go right ahead.  Because my answer is the same – can you direct me to where I can cash in this privilege?  If so, I’ll talk to you later.  I got somewhere I need to be.

Until next time, a quote,

“One ungrateful person does an injury to all needy people.” – Pubilius Syrus

Peace out,

Maverick

My Romantic Movie Night

Just got done watching Garden of Words.  The animation in that film is absolutely stunning.  It is a visual masterpiece.  Thought about doing a review of it, but I figured that I haven’t written anything of substance on this page in a while.  Honestly haven’t had much that inspires me to write about.  I could write about Trump’s latest idiocy, but that’s done by the entire fucking media.  To be fair, he doesn’t make it hard.  How are people saying that America didn’t elect its first female President?  Sure looks that way to me.  We elected an oversized teenage girl into the Presidency.  The glass ceiling has been broken!

But back to the film, it may have been a visual masterpiece, but I kind of hate it.  Hear me out – it all comes down to the ending.  There’s no resolution!  You have this scene where the underage kid reveals to the woman who he has bonded with when he finally figures out who she is that he’s in love with her.  She totally shoots him down.  It’s a harsh scene.  I felt so hard for that kid.  Throwing your heart out and then getting it thrown in your face is hard.  Then the adult woman who he admitted his feelings for realizes that she has feelings for him too and goes after the kid.  It’s a truly fantastic scene when they meet and the kid is all sad and angry and rails on her, only for her to run into his arms.  I love that scene.  It’s some truly amazing payoff and the voice acting is phenomenal.  It’s a testament to the people who made it.

Then she leaves!  The two are apart and that’s it.  Come on!  Now, I get that this would be a little weird, considering the fact that she’s 27 years old and he’s 15.  But better films have made this work.  Why have her leave?  Maybe have the two admitting how they feel but also acknowledging that they can’t be together because of the age gap and have them realizing that they will have to wait a little bit.  That’s an acknowledgement of reality while still having them looking to keep their feelings alive.  It would have been much more fulfilling if the film ended with her finding a life close to the person she loves, and having him giving her the shoes he had been making the whole film to her at the end.  Like a kind of promise.  Wouldn’t that have been more fulfilling?

See, here’s the thing about me – I’m a hardcore closet romantic.  When I watch FLCL, I feel a genuine tinge for the kid when he is falling for an older woman.  It’s funny, American media bitches about how the idea of a younger man dating an older woman is so frowned upon.  Japan certainly doesn’t shy away from an age difference with boys and women.  What’s more, they also make it respectable.  Sure, there is plenty of fan service for busty older women that young horny boys are into, but in both Garden of Words and FLCL, they play it as these women being genuine people with the boys discovering their romantic identity with them.  In both cases, it makes for some great scenes.  But while FLCL played it off that the kid falling for the older girl was a metaphor for him growing up and accepting who he is, Garden of Words played the romantic angle straight.  Which makes it that much more frustrating when the film ends on a sour note for no good fucking reason.

I really am bad about it.  When I watch the scene in Stein’s Gate when Christina and Okarin admit their feelings for each other, I judge that scene harshly as well.  It’s a great scene, but it could have been better.  For starters, the music in there is terrible.  It’s distractingly bad.  The scene would have been better served if there was no music at all.  Would have added to the emotional gravity as well, considering the fact that Okarin was about to let the woman he just admitted that he loves die.  Genuinely would have loved that scene more.  Also, get rid of the narration by Christina.  It added nothing.  Just quiet.  Have the rain be the biggest sound, with a few seconds for the audience to take in the cruel irony of what was happening with these two characters.

Anytime I see romantic scenes in stuff I like, I typically get all butterflies, while secretly seeing ways the scene could be better and really make me all warm and buttery about it.  Am I the only one?  No joke, someone in the comments, tell me if I am fucking crazy here.  So many great romantic scenes in movies are ruined because of bad details.  Used a lot of anime references.  What can I say, they tend to play romance a lot better than sappy love stories in American cinema.  That’s not to say that it isn’t done well in other mediums.  In the French film Blue is the Warmest Color, I feel genuine heartbreak as Adele is first introduced to the truth about her sexuality with a classmate, only for her feelings to be totally crushed when she realizes it was just a one-off thing and not a sign of true attraction.  The tears on her face seemed genuine.

I guess it’s a sign of me getting older.  As the years on my birthday cake grow, and my time having been single grows, I feel more and more of it.  But no one who sees me in person will know that.  My cynicism is well-known to those who speak to me.  Groj knows, I’ve made no secret of it here.  Deep down, though, there is that part of me that secretly longs to have that moment where I meet a girl at a place I regularly go and then strike up a conversation and something grows between us.  A man can dream, right?  Granted, everyone goes to bars to meet people these days.  I go to bookstores and walks around my home.  Not a lot of places for romance.  But hey, it can happen, right?

What about all of you?  What romantic scenes from stuff (I swear, if someone says The Notebook I’m gonna virtually smack you.  That movie is fucking terrible) have made you all warm and buttery inside?  Let me know in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“I love you.  I can’t help it.  Yukino, I think I’ve fallen in love with you.” – Takao Akizuki, The Garden of Words

Peace out,

Maverick