Author Archives: radixius

AP

There’s this disturbing bit of news about some football man that’s making the rounds that sort of has me on edge because it lives up to this witch hunt culture we’ve built up thanks to this beautiful “social media” nonsense that we’re so wrapped up in nowadays.  Part of it is a holdover from the traditional news media that I am unfortunately a part of.  Though I’m not the deliverer of such news, the role is more like acting as a distributor.  Think of my position as a major record label; Without it, you wouldn’t get your easily consumable goods.

The news story, to make it short: Dude hits his 4 year old kid over the backside with an implement, reportedly a switch, possibly a thin belt, kid has welts on his posterior.  I’ve been told that there were open wounds, I’m not sure, I’ve not seen the pictures nor actively looked for them because I’m not some kind of sadist like the kind of person that searches for this garbage and then makes up some crap excuse about how they’re trying to keep informed.  The same mentality that the news media has worked to death over the last two and a half decades, something that is more akin to reveling in human misery.  A bacchanalia of eternal sadness.

And that’s not even my biggest problem with the whole thing.  The huge part of the issue to me, and it’s one that’s been stressed more times that I can probably count on one hand fifty thousand times, is that we hold these public figures to such impossible stretches of scrutiny that we ourselves couldn’t even think of measuring up to.  We treat their mistakes like each one is some world-ending affair, even though these events don’t amount to anything even approaching noteworthy in the grand scheme of things.  I’ll admit that, recently, I’ve done this very thing, but not to a celebrity.  I applied it to a normal, everyday citizen.  Remember the Michael Brown thing from a few months back?  The chaos that erupted from that gunshot?  That restless moment in history that we don’t know anything about?  I unfairly judged Officer Darren Wilson, without knowing anything about him, as being a scumbag solely due to the opinions I was given and because he was an officer of the peace, a position many in my generation hold with ill repute.  I still don’t know what went down, same as everyone else that wasn’t there, but I painted him with a thick brush of hatred for no reason other than it fit the disjointed, Piccaso-esque bits of information that I, like many others, was handed.

After a while I began to think about why we do this.  It eventually came down to my reasoning that it’s because a lot of us feel like we have this need of monsters to fight, of darkness to push back and of demons to rebuke.  We want to be right and we want all of the people we dislike and disagree with to wear their horns, these horns we know in our heart of hearts that they have.  If they don’t comply, then we make a pair for them.

A lot of the more savage comments come from people who back different football man teams, they chose their side in the war games long ago and treat their opponents as enemies, it’s trained behavior.  The people erupting with anger and bitterness toward what could have been nothing more than a momentary lapse in judgment.  These people act as if they’ve never done anything out of passion or overzealousness.  Out of rage or scorn.  They’d have you believe they’ve done nothing antagonistic to anybody, especially not to a child (as if that makes a difference), or that the person who was the target of their fury deserved it in some way.  They see accusations of child abuse, horrible parenting and other types of character assassination and treat them as fact because, collectively, we’ve been conditioned to think that the first thing we see and hear is the truth.

Do we ever stop to think that maybe the kid was being a straight up jerk?  That they might have broken something, or vandalized something, or participated in some other form of mischief that might have called for such strict measures?  It could simply be a matter of the parent not judging his strength properly before undertaking the task at hand.  Maybe the kid cut his own switch thin because he thought it wouldn’t hurt as much.  We don’t know the variables and we shouldn’t act like we do.  Remember that everyone has the right to a fair trial, innocent until proven guilty.  Before we go and start frothing at the mouth, maybe we should swing that judgment the other way.  We shouldn’t make the mistake of immediately voicing knee-jerk reactions that are ruining any semblance of sanity or fairness that may still remain within this country.  Instead, we should think of the other person as just that, a person.

Because, in the end, that’s all any of us are.


An Open Letter to The Game Grumps, Past and Present

After hearing Dan’s story on his depression in a recent episode, I figured that I’d write to you guys and echo the sentiments of many: You help me feel a lot better when my day is in perpetual crap mode, which seems unfortunately frequent due to a malevolent and crushing social miasma that is currently inescapable.

With the whole depression and ADD thing, I’ve been professionally diagnosed with both, used to be on meds for the latter but I asked to be taken off of them since it was causing some weird dissonance. I knew I wasn’t acting naturally, that I knew I was being a much different person, and that feeling just made me feel worse.

Perhaps that meant the medication was working? Who knows. But now, I self-manage by doing as much as I possibly can, to try and entertain anyone that’s willing to look, listen, experience whatever it is I do in life. In any case, long story short, the discussion really struck home. I’m sure you’ve been getting tons of messages about this, but that’s not the only discussion in the episode that applied to me.

This letter is also a thank you note for helping me get comfortable with calling myself what I am. If you guys hadn’t discussed that part about being proud of being an artist, I’d still be that guy that staunchly calls what he does in his free time “just a bunch of dumb crap I’ve made”. All the webcomics I’ve made over the years, the comedic rewrites of hentai doujinshi, the podcast, the music I write, perform, record and master, the screenplay I’ve been working on for a while, the silly little weather show I record with my buddy at work that, for some reason, I’ve decided to upload to YouTube, even the novel I’m currently writing a first draft of. Not taking the pride in the work I’ve done, preferring to be called a content producer rather than an artist, assuming there are negative connotations in that word simply because I’m an amateur at all of these things that I’m doing.

Well, that ends today. I’m declaring it to you fine folks: Arin, Jon, Dan, Suzy, Ross, Barry, and everyone else that decides to read this; I’m an artist, goddammit.

I’m an artist and I’m proud of it.

So, thank you, all of you, from the bottom of my heart. This channel, Game Grumps, means a lot to me, and it has since day one.

-Mike


Paperm’n

The wife-o-tron and I went to see Wreck-It Ralph last night and the experience has stuck with me. It was a wonderful date night filled with film and food. But it’s not the feature itself that really resonated with me. Albeit Wreck-It Ralph is an incredibly good movie, carefully handled and lovingly crafted, it’s more the short film that preceded the movie that I can’t get out of my head.

The name of the short is “Paperman”, you can probably find stuff about it on Google or any of the other menagerie of search engines out there. But if you can’t, here’s a small taste of it:

Here’s a video of the director of the short, John Kahrs describing the look, which basically pares down to hand-drawn characters interacting with pre-rendered three dimensional backgrounds.  And you’re probably like, “Yeah?  So what?  It’s been done, who cares?”  Yes, it has, but it’s never been done quite this well, at least not that I can remember.  Usually when studios try that kind of integration, they do some cheap cel-shaded look which, in my opinion, looks absolutely godawful and kludgy a majority of the time.  But here it looks like the characters fit with everything.  There’s some subtlety to the way that the characters are animated, they’re fluid, they’re not stuck in some weird axial movement like CG rendered characters.

In this article Mr. Kahrs describes the expressiveness of the drawn line.  How just a few strokes of a pen here or there can change something so incredibly.  A shift from a zenith to a nadir can mean that the character is happy as opposed to sad, and yes, this is obvious.  But it’s not so much what’s relegated to the paper, but also the feelings of the person behind the tool.  A hard line might mean that the artist was upset with something, or it could mean that he was trying to convey that the thing he was jotting down was an impressive or imposing figure.  You can’t easily get that kind of nuance with CG animated characters at this juncture in technology.

Wreck-It Ralph does look incredible, fluid and wonderful.  It’s incredibly polished as a film, but why couldn’t it have been drawn in this style instead?  Ease of use?  Probably not, it still takes one and a half to two years to finish one of these productions with the same amount of manpower.  It probably has to do with the industry standard, Pixar and their ilk, much to their credit, has made it so that it’s incredibly hard to market a traditionally animated film, which I think stanches the overall output of animation, which I hold in incredibly high esteem.  In fact, I regularly wanted to do something in animation, though I never cared enough about my art to begin even trying.

I love cartoons, and anime, and 3D CGI stuff, but there’s room for all of these things in the marketplace.  I remember watching Kung-Fu Panda years ago and being really disappointed that more of the movie wasn’t done in the very fluid, traditionally drawn style of the opening sequence.  I thought it looked gorgeous, and I think there’s just something soulless to everything just being rendered out from a giant server farm in polygons, as opposed to done in some sort of Photoshop equivalent on a handful of drawing tablets.  We have the technology.  Let’s start doing something like that.

Let’s change the paradigm so that all forms of animation are openly accepted and released in the consumer space.  I’m game to start something if anyone else is.  It’s not like I do anything else.


Options

I’m going to preface this post by writing that a lot of people, some I know, some I might not know, will probably disagree with this post, perhaps even vociferously.  Just remember to keep it civil.

I recently received a letter from Senator Rand Paul that infuriated me.  Maybe you have, too.  And maybe it pissed you off as much as it did me.  This letter, this mass communique, this junk mail, this solicitation, whichever category you feel it fits into,  is about repealing Roe v Wade.  Clearly I disagree with this idea, mostly because I’m a liberal baby-killing monster, but also because I enjoy giving people, like, you know, women, options.  At least I do when it comes to my peers, not specifically on this topic, but any topic.

But the part I don’t understand about this is why abortion is so demonized.  Because we’re killing things that may or may not be alive yet depending on the study you choose to site based on which point you’re trying to make?  Or is it because you read in a book somewhere that every life is sacred (after God told people to crusade like crazy, fucked with Job and spake to Abraham that he should kill his son Isaac, even though he was joking on that last one ’cause Big G is a cut up) and you can’t make your own decisions?  Though I understand it, the thought of killing another person is a weighty beast no matter what their age, but I’d rather someone just terminate someone than have the little creature suffer for a lifetime.

There are many people I know that have worked in homes for troubled children and have had to hear their stories, like the child that had a mother who allowed grown men to rape him so she could score drugs, and sometimes I wonder if that’s the reality that some of these people are trying to create for these chilluns.  I don’t see abortion so much as a solution to a problem as I see it as a preventative measure to avoid having children be brought up in hellish conditions or neglected or abused and then causing more problems in society because people raised in broken homes ofttimes don’t turn out to be the most well-adjusted adults.  It happens, but it’s not a great shot.

I think back to the wonderful Greg Proops who often says that people denying abortions are pro-life but also anti-woman.  There’s a contingency of these pro-lifers who don’t care if a woman was raped or if a pregnancy is caused by incest because it’s an unborn fetus and it should have a right to life.  I get the last part, but why should we care so much for the unborn and not the person who will have to live with the fact that their child was created from rape and the memories of that situation, but let’s say that someone took out part of your liver and then mounted it on your wall, it might open up some mental wounds of when some jerk barged into your life and tore an organ out of your body every time you see it.  But you’re not allowed to take your removed, desiccated organ off the wall because that’s against what someone interpreted in, like, The Tripod Series by John Christopher.  Wouldn’t that get a little overwhelming and nerve wracking?

That’s what you have to think about.  That child is going to be a memory of that moment, no matter what they turn out to be.  And there might be that unconditional love for some people, but more often than not there’s going to be resentment, and do you really want someone to be put through that?  Thanks, people that aren’t the child bearer of that tiny human!

It doesn’t surprise me that it’s mostly men that harp on this stuff, but it honestly surprises me when women don’t want the choice to even be available.  That they want to be locked into a decision that’s being made for them by some dude they don’t know.  But then shit like this happens, where a woman says that rape babies are blessings and I just totally lose my mind.  I don’t understand the kind of mental state someone has to be in, except for total ignorance, to even state something that heinously wrong and horrible.  Like their mind has been twisted by what someone told them when they were growing up so much that they lose all grasp of reality.  I don’t think religion is an awful thing, it can be useful and there are people who practice it that are genuinely good people and they should be respected.  But it’s the nutballs like Sharon Barnes that give spiritual people a bad name who should be ashamed of themselves for doing such a thing.

And then this mess that I came across while doing research for this entry.  Yes, the children in that picture look identical.  Who gives a shit?  It’s not the end, it’s the means of the situation that matters.  What caused the result matters more to some women than the parasitic entity that is growing inside them.  That’s all there is to it and that’s my opinion, but don’t worry, I’m not going to gin up numbers or try to conjure facts to stand by my beliefs to get others to agree with me, either you do or you don’t.  That’s your business.  From what I can see, this whole thing is just an agenda against women that has been going on forever, and trying to shock me or put me into a guilt trip isn’t going to work, pro-lifers, because I’m from the internet and there isn’t a damn thing you can show me that I can’t best with a quick Google search.

I didn’t even get into the insanity where pro-life fundamentalists go out and kill doctors that offer late term abortions, picket family planning clinics and defame, debase or destroy anyone with any power that disagrees with them, because that’s ground tread far too often.  The duality of some people’s morals is just baffling to me.  You can’t kill a baby but killing someone who does a service for the people that are just looking for the option being drawn and quartered is A-OK!  That notion doesn’t make any sense, no matter how you slice it.

Look, I’m not saying that abortion is always the best option, hell, it shouldn’t even be at the top of the list when you don’t think you can provide for the child, at least seriously consider adoption first, and then consider it again and again.  But if the mother cannot bring this child to term or there are medical complications that will lead to the mother dying, then abortion should always be a choice.  It’s a last resort, and that’s all it is.  Don’t let these politicians, zealots, or anyone else take away your choices, because that’s what it is, another attempt to put a clamp on the collective genitals of the American people.


No, I Don’t

Something occurred to me, recently.  I lack a lot of passion for things because, growing up, everyone around me was so supportive and told me that I could do anything I wanted to, which ends up being somewhat problematic because then you’re given the Paradox of Choice.  I can do anything I want and no one can stop me, and that’s a great feeling.  The only thing that’s limiting me is my own insecurities and self-loathing, both of which I have in spades.  However, where this becomes an issue is that I still don’t know what I want to do for a living.  I enjoy my job at a TV station, I enjoy my hobbies of writing, or drawing, or of making music, or playing video games and the panoply of other activities I partake in.  And I can do all of these things because I’ve tried them, I was allowed to experiment.

I’ve had no one to argue against, nor to prove wrong, thus I don’t have these same passions that someone else might.  I never had to tell someone “I will become a great author” or “I will become a celebrated painter” or “I’ll make a great album”.  I was never externally limited in my ambitions, I just do stuff until I get bored with it and then stop abruptly and have one less thing to do.  The only thing that people have ever really told me is a necessity or have been forcing me to do is to go back to college and get a degree.

This is my rebellion, as ridiculous as it is.

“But you’ll never get a good job if you don’t graduate.”

No, I’m gonna prove you all wrong.  I’m going to gain experience in my field and get great jobs everywhere in the country, in the world, because I’ll be great at what I do, savvy in the business and gain connections and exposure to people who will see that I know my shit and I can lock it down with the best of them.  I’m going to show these people that matter, that I’m the important part of my education, that I don’t need a piece of expensive paper with ink all over it to prove to the world that I’m worth it.

And yes, I get that this is stupid, and childish, and altogether probably going to result in failure and sadness on my part due to the fact that corporate America, in all it’s glory and wisdom, doesn’t look for the results, it doesn’t look for who can do what and how well.  It looks for the kids with their sheets of paper that show they’ve paid enough to get hired.

Or will they get hired?

Another thing that I’m apprehensive about when it comes to this discussion is that employers also look for experience in the field that you are trying to get hired for.  And thus raises the issue of The Employer’s Absurdity.  To get a job you need to have a degree, which to obtain one you will, under most circumstances, be forced to forgo any job experience while pursuing education for your career by taking a full schedule at college while at the same time the person with the experience in the job might not get employed because they did not get their college education and receive their diploma which proves that they are qualified enough for the job.

Look, assholes, you can’t have both.  Choose one or the other.  Hell, you can train an inexperienced person to do the job simply through the act of repetition, which is all schooling really is, pounding information into the heads of young minds ad infinitum until they can execute actions in a rote manner.  And the guy with the degree can do just as well as someone who has been doing the work for years and will increase their adeptness in the job market quicker than someone who has not completed their secondary education.

I don’t really want to go back to college until these kinks in the system are worked out, and they will be sometime soon.  More people will become savvy of this profoundly absurd hiring system and will rebel against it.  We need to.  There needs to be more than one path to success in this country, if there isn’t, then this isn’t a country where you can be happy in whichever career you choose.  Where everyone is free to be amazing.  Where you can do anything you want to.

And that means everyone’s been lying to me.


Here’s a Letter I Wrote To BioWare

I enjoy so much of Star Wars: The Old Republic that it almost physically hurt me to quit playing it, there are just so many cool things and ideas in this game.  But I just couldn’t take the dragging game play and the clearly, at this point, draconian shell of MMORPGs that it kind of shut itself into.  I wanted to make sure that BioWare, the developers of SWTOR, knew that I was concerned about their first foray into the MMORPG market.

When confronted with the questions asking me why I was quitting The Old Republic, I had to enter Other/Other because the problems I had with this title were so far reaching that they really didn’t have a valid category in the drop downs.  What happened afterward was basically a brain dump of the biggest, glaring issues I had with SWTOR, a game that could have easily been so much better.  And here it is in full:

——————————

I feel that there are many flaws to this game that stem from the predisposed requirements of traditional MMORPGs that this game could easily transcend and still allow to be marketable, profitable and allow players to keep coming back for more.  I have not leveled a character to maximum because, as fun as the story is to play and as fun as it is to keep building my character as an actual character and not just controlling it as a puppeteer does to a marionette it is an absolute slog to get to the parts that make my character matter.  If you were to reduce the experience requirements to get to maximum level by at least 10% across the board past 20 I believe this would make the game a bit more streamlined and allow the player to change environments more frequently and reduce the diminishing returns one feels by being on Tatooine for five hours, or even Hoth for longer.
The second issue I feel that really drags this title down from its full potential is the combat.  BioWare has made so many strides in this industry, be it the interlocking stories between games you’re famous for, or even switching up combat and trying new things with each new title, some things less successful than others, it seems odd to me that you’d keep in the trappings of EverQuest, a nearly 13 year old game.  Combat is boring button mashing that isn’t made any better by the simultaneous competing with the ideologies and paradigms of the much more subscribed to World of Warcraft.  And I mean this by no offense, but you’re innovators in the world of gaming.  Able to craft fine stories and gameplay to boot.  Wouldn’t it have been better to figure out a way to maybe make your skills more reactive?  Or more action oriented in the vein of Mass Effect 2?  Or just somehow different from every other MMO out there?  I’m not saying it’s possible, or even probable, to fix this glaring issue, but my character grows, both in personality and in skill, but the gameplay does not reflect this.  All you are doing is sending us more monsters with more HP that do the same things.  If any company could do it, BioWare is the company that can make combat in an MMO interesting, if at least a bit more like a combination between Aion and TERA.
There are so many things in this game that I absolutely adore.  I love the companion system.  I love the settings and the freedom I have with my character.  I love that socializing matters.  I am really impressed with what you have done.  But the pacing for the grind has to be improved, as the leveling is not at all the point of an MMO.  A player should be able to do their class quests alone and get through a planet easily, that should be the pace to set, the other stuff should be lumped with the [BONUS] strings of quests that come at the end of planets, after your character has made a name for themselves.  I, and I feel that many others, aren’t playing the game to run around for random people, but for the chance to play their characters, and there is very little character building to be had in these non-class quests from my experience.  Sure there might be some Dark or Light Side points or what-have-you, but that really isn’t something that ultimately matters, since you can get those later in the game doing the end game Operations and Flashpoints, or you should if that isn’t already an option.
Perhaps if things get ironed out, I will return to this game, because it fascinates me, and my character was my own creation that had a life of its own.  But it feels that the developers did not do any forward thinking enough in the gameplay aspects.  I look forward to future news and additions you will be coming up with for this title.


Something That Was Keeping Me Up

Now, I’m going to preface this by declaring that I don’t purposefully set out to target atheists but I have the most questions about them because a lot of their world seems to be so far askew of logic, yet they seem to revel in believing themselves superior of intellect of those that are religious in some way, often combatively so.  I don’t care if you are religious or not, honestly.  Do whatever makes you happy.  Yes, both camps can decide their hyperbole, be it about abuse or rape or whatever disgusting, dark place your mind decides it wants to go to and get back to me later.  I’m here to ask the atheists a question that wouldn’t leave my brain, and I’m asking them because they seem more willing to give answers that aren’t simply some hand wave of a Jedi mind trick.  So, without further ado, here is that question:

Are hope and prayer not the same thing?

On the surface, this question seems a bit aping, trite and silly.  Well, one might say, hoping is a bit more realistic because it gives way for failure whereas prayer is putting one’s stringent, unswaying belief in a munificent being.  But I’m not sure anyone can honestly be so foolish to assume that if you believe in something it will happen at all costs.  There is always room for failure.  But you have to dig a bit deeper, and to do that you have to begin at the surface.  At what the words themselves mean.

Wish.  Pray.  Hope.  These words, all three of them, mean the exact same thing.  They are all synonyms of each other, thus, they convey the same idea.  But only the one in the middle.  The one with some sort of ridiculous religious connotation would be considered taboo among the most steadfast of the non-religious sect.  And I can’t wrap my head around why, mostly because those that don’t hold a faith still wish and hope for things.  Most of the time they wish and hope for things they can’t control, which is what a religious person might pray for: That a sickness be healed, that a couple has a healthy child, that someone passes their class of choice.  You can hope or pray for these things, but only one will get you lambasted or defamed in certain sects of the public.  Is it really okay to be afraid of a word that holds the same merits and ideas as two others you may deem totally acceptable just because someone chose to align it with something you disagree with?  And yes, I know that we can run the parallel with other words that discredit an entire race, or sex, or anything else.  That’s what I’m trying to do, I’m trying to figure out the offense because I don’t understand.  I’m not trying to raise hell or condemn or whatever else you may think from these words, I simply wish to hear why someone would be taken aback by something that is meant to be positive on your behalf.

I know quite a few atheists that hinge their entire being on the solidarity of science.  But I also know that they hope and wish for things because they are human.  They want to have good things happen to people.  They want good things to happen to them and try to imagine them and want them and that’s fine.  But the issue at hand is that none of those ideas are scientifically sound.  When science deals with uncertainties it does so with theories and hypothesis and does so with pretty exacting language.  “This will work because such a reaction occurs.” or however else you wish to run your idea.  If you were working with the certainties of science while dealing with the desires of humanity, by logic you would either have to say that you will or won’t succeed and there is no gray area to it.  If dealing with certainties there is no try, only do.

Those three ideas are dealing with the uncertainties of the future, the unpredictable things that happen to all of us, and our desire to want to get out of those situations.  Wanting the positive, idealistic possibilities within the sphere of outcomes that is the future is, by definition, hopeful.  To be optimistic you have to wish for the best.  You have to.  There isn’t a second road to optimism.  To be optimistic you have to believe in something, be it a bearded man flying around on a cloud, to believing in someone close to you, to believing in a second chance at life, to just believing in yourself.

We are all the same.  All of us.  We are not right, nor are we wrong, we are all just being.  We all believe in something, so why does the method in which we do so cause such rifts between us?  Why should any of us cause contention or disorder and bring ire to other people that are just like us because they think something different?

Everyone:  It’s time to grow up!  Accept that there are some people out there that don’t agree with us, that will never agree with us, and accept that as a fact and move on.  Don’t dwell on the negatives.  Don’t stop at the differences.  Find the similarities and build upon that.  It’s time for us to stop defeating ourselves and others with paranoia, with delusions of grandeur, with superiority, with castes and segregation and gentry.  We can change.  We can make things better.

We can improve the world for those that come after us, learn from our mistakes and nurture their successes.  We need to believe again.

We need to believe in each other.