The End of The Month of Rhyme – I’m Done

Hey, I guess it is my anniversary on WordPress, look at that. What an interesting day to post the results of my attempt to rap for a month.

Well, just the ‘bars’ of said rap. Really, this is just from the last few days. Well, it is more an open poem or something. Okay, enough, here it is.

“I’m Done”

I never had a dream about being the baddest,
Every time I stuck my neck out I’d be wishing I hadn’t,
But i’ve done it enough time to start losing my balance,
Can only get cut so many times before they call me a sadist.

So I’m done, balled up my dreams and tossed them aside,
I’ve dealt with more uncertainty than I could possibly abide.
And While the thought of writing used to bring stars to my eyes,
The only that’s certain now is my career’s suicide.
So here’s the best of me, the last cut, it’s all that you’ll get,
The last time I’ll try to come off as articulate,

I started off trying to emulate greatness, blowing minds like the likes of asimov and Scott Card,
But hard scifi with no sci is like binding isaac, balls hard,
And I’m not a scientist so I could only spit what was on my mind,
Girl struggles and race troubles, from around that time,

So I moved on to capes, cause at least people would read that,
Art is hard when you don’t have any feedback.
I’d port’em into my world, full of angst and fighting back,
Team, and trends, and tones too much to even keep track,

Then I made the dumb choice and I went to school,
Thought a piece of paper would make everyone know I rule,
Instead they read my degree and they call me ‘fool’,
Until they hear my vocabulary, then they call me ‘tool’.

But you can’t quit scratchin’ when you’ve got the itch,
And my degree might leave me scratchin’ by, but I can handle i,
But even a great like Poe was left dead in a ditch,
and I bet if Woolf was broke, they would have called her bitch.

But I’m a grown man, I can admit defeat,
I can barely pay my bills, forget my student fees,
Sure I can pen some purple prose that people don’t need,
But what good’s that do me when you ignorant fools can’t read!
At least something thicker than goosebumps,
Use your two stumps to flick through, and develop that gray lump.

Okay I’m getting mean, and really it’s my fault,
I thought my skills were so tight that winning was my default,
But it turns out wanting to write just ain’t enough, your words get lost among the crowd, you’re a hack before you’re even found.
You need time and money that I don’t got if you even want a shot, so forget it it, I’m done now.

Tried being a writer for a decade, became a better rapper in a month.

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July is the time to rhyme!

I am pretty sure I mentioned a few months ago that I have started alternating between editing months and writing months. During June I spent time going over a collection of short stories I have, but now July has begun. That means it is time to write, all sorts of writing, stories, poems, and maybe even lyrics.

For whatever reason I got the idea in my head to try my hand at rapping. Not because I have any great love for rap/hip-hop culture (though there is some love there), or because I believe I have any lyrical or musical talent (I don’t), but just because I had the thought and life is nothing if not a series of interesting challenges.

So I will do my best. Maybe that means I give up after five days, maybe that means I record some terrible lyrics and make a fool of myself like when I tried to record spoken word. At the end of the day, this is my proclamation.

Think of it as that moment in any anime when the main character tells you what the series is about in the first episode.

“I’m going to be the pokemon champion!”
“I’m going to be her escort!”
“I will be his sword!”

If you don’t shout it out loud, it can’t come true. Maybe it still won’t come true, but at least senpai will notice you along the way.

I will be a rapper in July!

Reacting to The Sexodus, Part 1

I was linked to an article today, on the Breitbart Report. It was titled, The Sexodus, Part 1, which drew my attention before I realized where I was being linked to. The Breitbart Report, for those who aren’t aware, is a conservative website made by a guy who helped the Huffington Post get off the ground. I don’t consider it a bad place to get news, but it is definitely biased. Seriously though, where can you get unbiased news these days?

So when I saw this article I was excited, I want to discuss the changes in sexual behavior as our society adapts to a new world. Then I realized I was looking at a conservative website, and I realized that the investigation of why and what was happening would be colored a certain way, a conservative way. Oh well, I read it anyway, and you should too.

I knew I was in for a doozie when this article started off and laid down a heavy fire of article links to ideas that would ruffle the dander of any male conservative reading.

“In school, boys are screwed over time and again. Schools are engineered for women. In the US, they force-feed boys Ritalin like Skittles to shut them up. And while girls are favoured to fulfil quotas, men are slipping into distant second place.”

I love hearing that schools are engineered for women. The idea here is that boys being told not to rough-house, get into fights, or generally run around when they should be learning, means that schools are not serving boys. Like a lot of this article, there is a dash of truth. Over the last few decades, efforts have been taken in education systems to help girls keep up, because in the past, girls were having trouble making it to higher education. Certain fields, like math and the sciences, were male dominated. So education shifted efforts to try to help girls want to continue in any field of education they chose. In the meantime, the world has changed, and other social and economic factors, as well as that shift in focus, has lead to male students dropping out of school and being outnumbered at colleges.

So what is the solution here? Crying about how boys are doing bad and that it is the fault of feminists? Well, no, you should focus on trying to help young boys find outlets for their energy, stand for even education that can accommodate different learning types, and try to establish a world where young boys can learn to be emotionally balanced men. Which is something that many feminists do, oops.

“Never before in history have relations between the sexes been so fraught with anxiety, animosity and misunderstanding.”

This part actually made me laugh, like out loud. You see, when the anxiety, animosity, and misunderstanding is only a problem for women, there wasn’t a problem. I mean, who cares if women have long been afraid to walk the streets alone, who cares if there was a fear that you could be fired for resisting sexual advances, who cares that wearing the wrong clothing was considered an invitation to rape. It wasn’t a problem for men, so was it a problem? I’m putting words into Milo’s mouth here, but this still seems like a shallow view of the history of gender relations.

Is there a lot of animosity right now, among the internet population, and us first worlders, yes. The animosity is because of ideals slugging it out, and will continue until society shifts to correct for either side gaining the upper hand. That is how society works. When society perceives a problem, the different sides in the conflict will struggle against each other until we either resolve it peacefully, or something unfortunate happens to resolve it. If people, men and women, didn’t feel that something was wrong, this wouldn’t even be a conversation.

Unfortunately, the way that we socialize kids still leads to differing views on how others should be treated. Men still grow up seeing women as confusing, vindictive, prone to revenge, and manipulative. Women grow up hearing that men are dangerous, rough, distant, and insatiable. The reality is that every man, woman, and anything inbetween, is a person. Attempts to sum them up should be used as vague guides at best, and be treated as suspect otherwise.

So when Milo says, “Women have been sending men mixed messages for the last few decades, leaving boys utterly confused about what they are supposed to represent to women.” He says it without seeming to realize (which I think is impossible for someone of his intelligence) that women are all individuals who do not have a unified message. Do you want a woman who wants to be treated like a delicate flower? Find her, because she exists. Don’t expect whatever woman you approach to want to be treated that way, find the woman who wants to be treated that way. If you want the rough in the sack freaky girl who is going to burp in your face and literally bust your balls? Get off your lazy sack and find her, don’t treat every woman as if she needs to be her.

Of course that brings us to the other option, and the main thrust of this article. What about just saying no to it all? To this article, this is a travesty. The idea that men would just sit around, masturbate, and play video games, is the worst thing that could ever happen.

Let me tell you, it ain’t that bad. Now, if there are men out there living the no-woman life but being depressed over it, it seems to me that they don’t actually want to live that life. But we have to ask, do you want to live without women because it actually makes your life easier? If so, enjoy yourself, live that life, and I actually commend you to it. The world is overpopulated, so we need some ‘pretty ones’ who see breeding as not worth the effort. To Milo, in this first part, that is not a viable choice. Every man has to want to breed, they have to want to get out there and get a girl. Why, I don’t know, maybe that is his fetish.

There is no requirement in our modern world for someone to have kids. Having two incomes is financially easier, but you can just find a roommate. If you want tax benefits, find another buddy who has given up on women, and get a same-sex marriage going (okay, I guess I shouldn’t advocate marriage fraud).

But what this article says that I find ridiculous, is that women have somehow made it harder to be a man in a relationship. If we believe The Sexodus, women want men to work harder and harder, and women care less about men’s feelings. Milo was quoting this, so it isn’t his personal view (besides him putting it in his article), so I’ll just say to Rupert or whoever he was quoting that he is some sort of idiot.

Really? Really man? We live in the age of going dutch, we live in a time where a woman actually can get a job that can pay the bills, where having equal finances in a home isn’t a surprise, where men can be stay at home dads, etc etc, and still women want too much out of a man? This vague statement has about as much meaning as some guy moaning about his ex-girlfriend while he is drinking a beer, but man does it blow my mind. Man, Rupert wouldn’t last long if he lived in past era where men paid all finances for their house, on top of managing everything that wasn’t related to taking care of the kids, cleaning the house, and growing the herbs.

But no, because of feminists, Milo, and Rupert, and whoever else were quoted in this article, have to suffer. They are the true victims of feminism, men who have to realize that women are not a hive-mind, and that maybe they will have to decide if they want to make some effort if they want a girlfriend. Hole-E-crap-a-rooni, it is difficult to be a man.

Now I don’t want to end this on a negative, so let me say that there are some interesting ideas in this article. The fact that men are deciding they don’t want to go after women, something we have heard cropping up in other first world countries as well. Also, young men feeling confused on how to deal with women (they aren’t the first, won’t be the last, but that is because they are teenagers, not because of feminists). To me, this article suffers from taking several unrelated instances, and then claiming they all have one source (big bad feminists). I mean, Japan has seen less and less men going for relationships, and they are a country known for their traditionalism. Are feminists also ruining Japan? Because last I heard the rights of women in Japan are still behind the curve. Well, we better just ignore that, because it doesn’t fit into the narrative.

If I had to guess at one of the driving factors of this change, it is because of affluence. Even among the middle-class and poor, we are still relatively wealthy and well off in this country. I’m poor, I live paycheck to paycheck, but I’m typing from a laptop, checking my smartphone, couldn’t live long without internet and TV, and I play video games all the time. We are rich compared to other places in the world. So when it comes to how we see relationships and sex, we see it with a pinch of that rich person’s eye. Among the truly poor, children are an extension of your labor force and your economic means, children need to be numerous to make sure your legacy extends at all, a wife needs to be there to take care of your assets and pop out kids for the previous points. Most of this isn’t true in the US. Having a girlfriend is for companionship, emotional stability, and physical pleasure. If the effort to get that is more than it is worth, you can say no. Maybe you have other plans, maybe, like Tesla, you want to focus your mind without worrying about a mate or children. That is your choice, because that choice is viable, because you live in a first world nation.

The Smart Believers

I haven’t posted in a while, but that’s mostly because I’m busy. Busy trying to survive, really. A tough job market when your skills include ‘a craft no one cares about’ and ‘job experience everyone else has too’. No surprise though, and I’ll take it in stride (up until starvation).

I come back a month later with this article that I thought was interesting. 

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It is ‘The False Equation of Atheism and Intellectual Sophistication’.

In it, Emma Green reviews the book ‘The Age of Atheists’, by Peter Watson. I haven’t read it, but it definitely sounds interesting from this article. If that was her plan here, she did an excellent job. She managed to raise a discussion worthy point, and make me want to read something.

What was Green’s point? That Watson draws an unfair connection between intellectualism and atheism. That is, you don’t have to be stupid to believe in god. Which I completely agree with. Most of the smart people I know, doing math, science, programming, and writing well beyond what I am capable of, are religious. This isn’t a surprise, because as Green points out, the vast majority of people on the planet right now believe in some sort of higher power.

A little depressing right? I mean, not for the religious, but for the rest of us. We live in a rather modern world, we are a scant few innovations away from full on cyberpunk, and we live in a world where a majority of the people are prepared to meet a white-bearded guy in the sky after they die. 

Back to the article. Green makes a good point. If Watson does what she says, because I haven’t read the book yet, then this isn’t the age of atheists at all. No matter how many philosophers, scientists, musicians, or artists ended up being atheists, they are still in the minority. We can say that creative minds wrestled with the question and came to atheism, but what about creative minds today which wrestle with it and stop at deism? Which do we say was superior? 

Artists are not a good comparison, because most of Western society is still under the illusion that there is ‘no judging art’. How about two great scientists, both have created new theories that have redefined industries, have made lives better for people worldwide, then one is an atheist and one is a christian. We cannot, would not, claim that the atheist one is some how smarter because of his conclusion, would we? Would be silly, and I wouldn’t expect it. To do the opposite is cruel as well, even in the rare cases where it does happen (especially when atheists are judged morally weak just because they don’t believe in god).

It creates an intriguing point. Can atheism claim a philosophical or intellectual high ground? My stance has always been this: If you examine evidence directly, you’ll at least end up agnostic. You may ask yourself ‘Mr. Black blogger man, what about all your smart friends you mentioned earlier?’

Most people don’t bother examining the evidence. As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, they have no reason to ponder the question beyond a superficial ‘Is there a God?’ and then moving on when their own life experiences calls back with ‘yes’. Green would say that this is wrong, if her article is any clue, because it implies that the average person has examined the question incorrectly, and only these ‘intelligent’ outliers have thought it through right and come to atheism. That isn’t how I see it.

Life is a awful mixture of cultures, personal, friendly, familial, local, etc. The life you live is going to determine your path to answering the question yes or no in the end. I heard about god my whole childhood, there were bibles all around, but my mother wasn’t the sort to go every Sunday. Who knows, I wouldn’t be writing this today if she did go every Sunday. If she did go every Sunday, I might not be writing at all, since my atheism has informed innumerable choices in my life. I think religious Marshall would be somewhere with his dad right now, probably organizing that business to feed people that just got out of prison. Not bad, not bad.

The reason I’m an atheist, and another person smarter than me is not, is because of that trail of variables that is existence. Those moments we brush up against that rewrite us as a human being, crafts us from day to day. When I dropped my religion, it was before I even looked at all the facts, it was turning my back on something I thought of as childish and badly put together. Really, my initial reason for atheism is because the bible story is pretty crappy, it is mother goose level WTFery. I didn’t believe in many other nursery rhymes, and god was one more that could be discarded. I went from being in constant fear that I would meet my maker, to altering my definitions of my maker so I wouldn’t have to fear them (I remember trying to be a Zen Christian in high school after reading one book, oh me), and then discarding the whole thing all together. 

Not easy, mind you, but I don’t remember crying over it. I’ve had anxiety attacks since then, but now I’m a simple human being who will cease to exist upon death, so give me a break.

On the other hand, I know students on their way to doctorates who still believe in god. Are they stupid? Not really. Have they wrestled with the question incorrectly? Possibly. Would it be wrong to say otherwise? If you are say, a medical doctor, you know enough about the basics of human life to put the god question to task. Infinite source of morality? It doesn’t take the experiences of a medical doctor to throw that out the window, it just takes reading about the wildly different moralities across the globe and through time. Humans created from whole cloth? But then people break their ‘tail bone’, and you remember that we have one of those. Automatically, the level of education required of a doctor requires adjusting your personal definitions for god. 

So why are so many nurses and doctors still religious? You don’t have to think about whether there is a god while you study medicine. It isn’t in the curriculum (and shouldn’t be). You can examine the skeletal structure of a human being, then turn around and praise to your heart’s content.

This all said, great minds have come to the atheist conclusion when wrestling with the question. Many others have gone agnostic. Usually, the more book smart you get, the more liberal your religious interpretations become until they break away. You go from praising for every meal, to realizing that god is probably just some distant clock maker, to realizing that maybe god is just what we call consciousness and true thought, to realizing that there isn’t a need for a god in there at all. It happens, or it doesn’t happen.

No Being Nice Is Not Enough

I’ve penciled in some time to be angry.

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So have I told you that I’m on G+? No one cares, that isn’t the point, but I use social media. The problem with social media these days is that it is always trying to read you, find out what you want to see, and usually it is well off the mark. Especially if your posts usually include talking about religious gods, but not in a positive light.

G+, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, they see the word ‘god’ in a post you responded to, or a video you watched, and they think ‘this guy wants to hear about jesus’. So when I go to the internet, I’m inundated with sponsored posts with quotes about loving the lord. You can imagine how that makes me feel (the answer is: meh).

The worst of these come from what I think is a vital misunderstanding between atheists and theists of different sorts. These are the ‘We love you too, atheists’ posts. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of love to give, and I’m not one to turn away positive feelings. It is just hard to accept. 

You know how in recent years churches have been loud and proud about their acceptance of gays? Then we realized most of it was just the terrible ‘hate the sin not the sinner’ bull that has probably driven countless gay people to self-hated and possibly suicide? Yeah, this feels a lot like that. 

I don’t need your acceptance, I don’t want your internet faith hugs if you are only paying lip service. There are reasons that theists aren’t atheists, and for a lot of them it is a genuine faith in their religion. There are reasons that atheists aren’t theists, and usually it is the opposite of the previous. Being nice is not going to make everything magically fall together. Christians, I’m sorry, but that dream of spreading the word to everyone just ain’t going to happen, please, cut it out. We’re not just pretending to not like it, it is turning into psychological molestation. 

Even worse, and don’t mind me as I go down this dark metaphorical road for a second, some people have been or still are abused by religion. Whether that abuse is the relatively rare physical case, or the common psychological abuse, religions are on the global sex offender list. Excuse me if I keep my metaphorical psychic babies clear of your creepy smile and beckoning fingers.

No, I’m not saying that all christians, or all religions are full of abuse. I’m just saying, the ball is in your court religion. Let me spell out the passing of the ball, because I know not everyone has experience with the handling of said balls.

Atheism had the ball, and was like, ‘If you keep your odd rituals and archaic beliefs as laws for your life only, we will let you come to the neighborhood barbecue.’

Then atheism handed the ball over, physically put it into the hands of religion. 

Then the religious dropped the ball, and put their arms out for a hug. Which is great, except you haven’t accepted the deal. We can see right behind you the countless attempts to enshrine religious beliefs into law, the shaming of homosexuals, the regulation of sex, all of it is right over your shoulder and you’re looking at us with this stupid grin on your face as if a hug is going to make it all go away.

We can eat hot dogs without you, more for the rest of us.

Trying Out Being Organized

Not a lot to say. I’m trying to get my thoughts together for some novel editing. Trying to get my thoughts together to make my life work. Really, the last week has just been a lot of trying not to be trash.

It isn’t going so well.

One victory though, the program known as yWriter. Well, victory so far. It allows me to organize out my novels in a way that makes it easy to create notes, understand where stuff went wrong, and make systematic changes across the novel. Like, when I accidentally call a character Dedric one place, and Dedrick another. This is a thing that happened, I felt pretty sad. Most of my novels (read, all of them), have been written as part of a NaNoWriMo project, so I tend to just write in one long spree. So when I miss a detail, or a character returns in a later chapter, I don’t have the time to try to find the character’s previous appearances. 

yWriter should make Nano easier, and editing easier. I’m glad. 

I need something to help with projects. It seems I drop them everywhere. I was creating three RPG books, a short novel series, editing a larger novel, and creating a Rogue-like video game. This is only scratching the surface. At the end of the day, I don’t finish stuff. This is one of my great flaws (besides being so darn handsome), and I know it. The problem is, what am I going to do about it.

So I continue to push toward little accomplishments. When I sold a book under a pseudonym, I felt like I had climbed mount Olympus. It turns out it was a foothill. I still need to learn to properly edit, to sell myself, to create proper promotion campaigns. I have a lot to learn, and I’m running out of youthful years.

Keeping up with the Joneses: Getting Told No

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When you go through a creative writing program, you will often hear authors talk about the process of being denied. You might have heard it just from looking on the internet for tips to get published, or tips for writing. Authors get used to being told no, or they don’t make it. That is the prevailing wisdom, and I assume it is true. 

Those writers that came before sometimes talk about having drawers full of rejection letters from magazines and publishing houses. That sounds amazing, because who writes letters anymore? More so because being told you aren’t good enough that many times would break the average person. Unfortunately, it seems to be the way things go. There are only so many publications out there, and there are more writers out there than you can shake a badly organized portfolio of fictional works at. 

Needless to say, I’m one of them. I’ve briefly been on the other side of the rejection situation, when I got to intern on the editing team for my school’s literary magazine. Even in that short time I realized there are too many stories, and too little time. Something good could sink to the bottom, because there is so much dreck out there that you might catch a first reader at a bad time. I’m sorry guy who had a touching story about the death of an elderly woman, I just got done reading a story about a woman watching her dog lick its balls, I’m sort of in a bad way right now.

Now I’m getting my rejections. Well, I’ve been rejected before, but usually it comes in the form of an email. It isn’t a huge deal when I get an email saying that my story isn’t going to be taken. It will sink to the bottom of the archives, and I will never see it again. This rejection though took on a whole new monstrous form. It was a contest, for an award at the Bellingham Review, and entering the contest guaranteed me a copy of the magazine. So not only did I not get in, now I get to read what made it in instead of me.

I wouldn’t wish this upon my worst enemy. It is hard to imagine a psychological torture more foul than seeing other works you know were deemed superior to yours. I immediately started asking why. was it this intro paragraph? Is it because of this colorful diction? Is it the flow of the plot, or the random additions here and there? WHY!? WHY!? WHY!? 

My ego could have used a victory, and instead I have grim motivation. I have to look at other stories that I was sure I could beat out, and know that I’m still not good enough. Now if you excuse me, I’m going to go cry into a cup of hot coffee while I turn the page.

The Unknown and Spirituality

Back when I was a religious person, I considered me and my family spiritual. This was, and still is, a sort of an out. It is that last ditch effort by the liberal minded to escape a lot of the stuff we just don’t like about religion. Turns out I fell the rest of the way out, but there are a lot of people out there who have taken on this ‘spiritual’ point of view.

It isn’t bad when you really consider it. I mean, most of us are not science minded. I grew up taking only a few science classes, and then my time at university was spent nose-deep in books about fantastical gods and witty Brits insulting each other. Even though I believe I understand evolution, anti-theist arguments, string theory, I really don’t. I take what I can, and I draw connections for the rest. It would be just as easy for me to drop those concepts and live my life without ‘atheism’ or religion.

Religion is hard. It is an easy mental escape, but it requires a ton of mental space to remember rituals, sayings, mythology. On top of that there are the social obligations that are nearly impossible for someone like me. No, I don’t want to go to the church BBQ, there have been four of those this month, stop! 

On the other hand, atheism is a mental struggle with little to no social obligations. It takes on the opposite space within our culture. Atheism requires first and foremost the admittance of mortality and oblivion. There is no do over, no second life, no after-party. 

Why deal with either of them? The world is full of so much in between. We have believed in gods, spirits, aliens, karma, mojo, curses, hexes, magic, all without needing the overbearing religions we have today. Some of these things feel good to think about, the idea that doing good will echo good in your life, that a terrible accident wasn’t your fault but instead a curse from some harmless action. It is all the mental escape of religion without the social weight. These terms and ideas have become so ubiquitous that you can mention them without any follow up questions.

“That must have been bad karma.”

“That is some good mojo.”

“Thank god we made it.”

Done, no background needed, everyone understands what you mean. Whether you truly believe in the details or not, that isn’t important to the conversation. 

This sort of ‘spiritualism’ doesn’t mean the person doesn’t consider themselves Christian, or any other faith. Far from that, it allows them to mix their knowledge of their faith with other concepts that they come across. The christian that believes in karma has an easy answer to the problem that doesn’t require questioning the motivation and frequency of divine intervention. 

This is fueled by our history, and the power of the unknown. There are things that we don’t question because it allows us to pad what we just don’t know. If you don’t know how probability functions, recurring bad luck can seem like fate instead of odds that just didn’t go your way. All of my knowledge of probability comes from rolling 1s when I need my little plastic soldiers to win me battles against other nerds. I know the sting of probability, and even I cry out in anguish to the dice gods. It is that easy to get swept up in what seems hard to explain, even if it actually is simple.

Even with education on the topic, it is easy for people to still believe in the supernatural solution. Knowledge of evolution hasn’t stopped millions from believing in a god, they just rewrite god’s process. That is good though. I would rather have someone rewrite their idea of mojo to account for odds, than have to deal with someone who thinks god plays dice.

When You Just Have To Be Right… Christian Movies

I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t grow up in the church. I’ve never been like, an altar boy, or the pastor’s favorite. That wasn’t my life, and I have my mother to thank for that. I can’t imagine what my existence would be like if my split from religion was nearly as painful as some of the stories I’ve heard. For me I just woke up one day and decided to be salty on the internet.

That said, I’ve put up with a fair bit of Christian related entertainment throughout my days. Most of this was through the Lifetime channel, but that is just the tip of the Made-for-TV-movie iceberg. 

I’ll note right now that I don’t see a lot of harm in Christian entertainment. Actually, I find it kind of amusing. If you’ve been in America long enough you’ve probably heard whispers, whether joking or from actual wingnuts, that the Jewish people control the media and negatively influence society through it. Considering the percentage of Christians in this country, and the sheer number of movies they create every year to celebrate their own religion, I can’t help but imagine people wearing tinfoil hats when they say the media is anti-Christian.

It is hard to make it through the year without watching some movie with at least a small Christian message to it, especially since Christmas is a thing. This isn’t bad though, this is just a matter of audiences getting what they want. If more than 50% of your audience can be pleased by having an angel give a woman a backrub, you better hand that angel some KY because things are about to get slippery. That is how business works.

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We’ve come to the point where big movie releases, like the upcoming Noah, can just scoop up biblical stories and mutate them for the audience that wants to feel a little biblical, but also wants to see someone be impaled. Some kid is going to see this movie as an action flick, in the way that I watched movies like Terminator, and it will be a formative part of their youth. That is strange to me.

I’m pretty sure the most impact Christian imagery had on the movies of my childhood was watching Nick Cage be a creeper in City of Angels.

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Actually, this could explain a lot about my childhood, and dealings with women.

Still, the untold story here is that these movies create an atmosphere with one religion prominent. Sure the angels in City of Angels are a little on the Edward Cullen side, but it makes a nice stepping stone for a parent to justify real angels to their kid. Sure Noah probably wasn’t as undeniably handsome as our friend Russel Crowe, but he makes a better story than pseudo-moses building an impossible boat to house varying numbers of animals. It is pervasive. That isn’t me being angry or annoyed by it, just stating the fact. When you grow up watching movies where squeezing your cross real hard and holding on to your good Christian values saves the day, you don’t see much of a need to question that attitude. 

I wish this was a conspiracy, but it is just good old hollywood fun. It helps highlight that even the figures we respect, great actors and directors, are likely Christian. They enjoy these messages, and will create shows/movies/video games/snappy post cards with that imagery implanted. Even if they aren’t, the population of our world will, on average, respond better to a Christian message. 

Heck, even I’ve made use of this fact.

I Don’t Know if I Count Anymore…(Gamer Talk)

I’ve been playing video games since before I was steady on my feet. From playing Dr. Mario alongside my grandma, to using my early reading skills to play Nintendo era RPGs. When people talk about being an ‘OG’ gamer, I used to enthusiastically count myself among them. Video games have shaped my life, helped me see worlds I never would have experienced, and brought me together with some of my closest friends. So when the question comes up if I am ‘hardcore’ or if I am a ‘gamer’, I want to say yes.

Unfortunately, I’m getting old. I’ve always feared becoming a dinosaur, too old to realize why some obvious topic should be the way it is, but here I am. I never wanted to reach this point, but I feel ready to make the declaration and wear my scales proud.

Gaming has changed. Not just in the obvious ways. The systems are faster, stronger, bigger, beautiful machines that push out astounding graphics and action. I don’t care about that, I haven’t been left behind by what the systems are capable of doing. In comparison, my grandmama can walk into the room while Madden is on and she will think that an actual game of football is on. 

If anything I think the consoles still have some catching up to do, and their catch-up game is slowing down the PC market. 

No, I’m disturbed by the community. I grew up playing games, cooperative and competitive, and I can’t understand the vitriol. Maybe it is because when I was growing up, our communication was so stunted. Sure you could be a jerk in the chat of a round of Starcraft, but it took too much work. Why not just play the game, and if you were going to try to be a dick, do it in the closing moments before you win or lose. Sure you are still a terrible sport, but at least you didn’t drag down the whole game with it. 

I’m not saying that people weren’t rude in the past. I’m sure anyone could tell you stories of terrible neckbeard fueled ferocity from the arcade era to their first time in VOIP. Still, in my experience, we realized they were being jerks. Now we surround ourselves in an atmosphere of aggression, and I don’t feel like I can interact with video games without some part of the experience feeling negative. Negative responses to the company that made it, negative responses to the game itself, negative chat in the multi-player VOIP, negativity even in the chatrooms while it is being streamed. 

I understand that games are an avenue for removing stress and frustration, but does that require so much hate? I used to relax to calming games like kirby, or overcome difficult obstacles in adventure games. I enjoy working as a team to win multi-player games. I gain no joy from getting pissed off at a fellow player, a stranger, a teammate.

The world of gaming feels twisted now. The elements that should have vanished, like rampant misogyny and racism, haven’t. The medium has turned up the volume on the petulant child-like world that once felt like a misguided stereotype.

Whatever, I’m going to go back to playing Pikmin 3. I’ll get back to writing about something less negative next time, maybe holy wars.