These are the times to remember…

It is with great happiness I declare that my second child, my first daughter, arrived safely Friday morning at 8:07. As a result, I spent the next couple of days in the hospital with my dear wife as she recovered and did some bonding with my new little gamer. As a result, I do not have an episode prepared for today. If you’re reading this it means at the very least that you have an RSS reader that added this to your feed or that you follow my blog on WordPress. I know I’m prone to missing weeks at a time, however I feel that at least acknowledging the absence of content is forgivable as I do have multiple episodes in the works, a solo episode, with featured guests, on emergent gameplay and how we can learn from games, as well as an upcoming duo with Jason on Mass Effect which ought to be a really deep, but also a very silly episode.

Thanks to everyone who listens, follows, etc… and as always feel free to contact myself, Jason or the show on our various correspondence methods.

PEACE!

-Jesse

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What are power-ups?

Power-ups are fundamental to games. This topic is so ubiquitous that I’m not going to do anything crazy like go into the history of power-ups like I might with other topics, luck you. But I do want to talk about why they’re so important. What are they, what do they do, why is that important in a gaming world and of course, how that relates to us as people and the real world.

 

At the most basic level, a power-up is THE THING, that one element that makes the gaming world differ from the real-world. Pick any game and there’s AT LEAST one thing. That’s why maybe the term “power-up” isn’t the best for describing what I’m trying to talk about, but I’ll stick with it for the purposes of the discussion. Even games where you’re expected to “simulate” real life, there is something in the game, inside the framework of the program, that makes it fundamentally different from the real-world, otherwise it wouldn’t be fun. It goes to the root of why we play games in the first place, to do something different from our day to day lives. This speaks to all genres of game and even format, table-top, pen and paper, electronic/computer, and so forth.

 

So, whether we’re talking about flight simulators, adventure games, RPG’S, puzzle games it still comes back to at least one thing, but really in almost every game there’s usually a plethora of things. Using those previously listed examples, in flight sims you’re operating craft that you’d never realistically get close to, you’re going places and wielding objects that you’d never see or use in your normal life, RPG’s grant you otherworldly powers and even puzzle games have their own rules that would defy normal real-world rules if you tried to do it with real candy, or blocks or birds or whatever.

 

Well, interestingly enough, that is why there is continuous debate on the psychological effects games have on their users. That’s the entire premise of this show, the ways that videogames have affected me and Jason and our listeners in our lives. More and more often in recent times we hear stories of people developing all sorts of problems that are the direct result of his or her game playing. People who stop eating, or bathing or much, MUCH worse. Sadly the lives of those gamers’ family and friends are deeply affected.

 

I can tell you that on more than one occasion I have heard videogames more accurately compared to a drug than entertainment. Especially if you consider the psychological results that most people derive from their game playing. Successful people, that is people who are successful at other things in life besides just videogames (but even them too), can and probably will tell you that the rush you get from succeeding at a videogame you can also receive by succeeding at just about any other activity. Supposed experts on human psychology will tell you that videogames are dangerous because they give you the feeling of success with only the most minimal effort. To the wrong kind of person this can be a bad thing. I’m sure if we were to look deeper here, we might learn more about gamers who end up committing random acts of horrific violence but I’m no (quote) expert (unquote). Nothing exists in a vacuum however and simply feeling good from succeeding in a videogame is not going to push anyone into some kind of psychosis, there have to be other factors in play, factors, obviously unknown to, or ignored by, those who decry games as a danger to the youth of the world. Look at the outcry over pen and paper RPG’s back in the 70’s if you don’t believe me. Statistically you’re more likely to link a random act of violence to a chemical imbalance brought on by prescription pharmaceuticals or illicit drugs.

 

Huh, drugs. There’s that word again? There’s a reason it keeps coming up here and I may end up pissing some people off here but here goes. What is a power-up? Well, if we want to use the definition from the world of videogames you would likely say it is “an object or device that alters fundamental gameplay.” What is a videogame? For tha matter what is a game? We might say that gamers are “programs or constructs with their own fundamental rules that offers a departure from the every day norm.” Now, if you can’t already tell where I’m going with this, here’s my final question:  what is a drug? A drug is a substance, be it natural or synthetic in composition, that alters the fundamental operation of the users body chemically. All drugs affect the chemical make-up of the human body, but in different ways; some stimulate certain parts of the body, others block the body’s ability to detect or function, and so forth. The danger that comes from drugs is by messing with the chemical make-up of our bodies to alter their dedicated functions is that there can be side-effects.

 

Side-effects, the dirty little step-child of the drug world, are that thing nobody likes to talk about, but no one can deny is real. Not a single drug commercial on tv has less than 5 seconds of dialogue devoted strictly to the side-effects. Not a single doctor will prescribe for you a drug without making sure you understand them. When they might be a problem, we like to downplay them. When they’re a benefit, the drug companies find other reasons to sell them.  Famous examples are the herpes medication Valtrex which was originally developed as a shingles medicine. Viagra and Cialis were both developed to treat heart problems. Pharmacology devoted to the study of the human brain is constantly learning of beneficial side effects to the chemical compounds they administer. A common ADHD medication was actually developed to be an anti-depressant but upon administering it to depressed patients, was found to have no effect. The commonly accepted explanation for ADHD is that a part of the brain is not functioning properly, therefore a chemical that most people have which helps them remain calm and focused is deficient in ADHD patients. So, despite what was known about the human brain, the chemical compound that was predicted to help people be less depressed didn’t change their depression at all, but people with issues focusing found it easier to do so. Most ADHD medications function in a similar way.

 

Sorry about the science lesson here, I’m almost done. Sadly, what happens over time with ADHD meds, as with most medication, is that the body begins to develop a relationship with the medication, usually in the form of dependence but just as often in the form of an immunity. People who take medicine for ADHD find themselves increasing the dosage of the medication until the levels become unhealthy. Quitting some meds cold-turkey can have serious withdrawal effects. Many pharmaceuticals actually function in the same way.

 

So, while power-ups could be described as “drugs” in the reality of the individual games, it’s interesting to note that games themselves actually can have very similar side-effects. Devoted gamers find it difficult to hear, but studies have shown that exposure to videogames at too early of an age can have a lasting effect on the person, both negative and positive. Additionally, for as long as games have existed, educational games have also persisted. We have a fundamental trust that games can teach us things, but what we may not be aware of is that whether we’re trying to learn from them or not, we’re certainly learning SOMETHING while we play them.

 

I argue that more complex RPG’s could easily teach useful life skills and a more recent study has shown that playing Portal 2 actually yielded an increase in IQ test scores among testees. But what are we taking away from games that we aren’t noticing. Pay to win games might be causing the player’s brain to begin associating success with paying money. Perhaps the ubiquitousness of games thanks to our phones has taught us that our brains constantly have to be active, always solving problems of some kind, so maybe the desire to play games between projects at work or classes at school is less a desire and more a compulsion? How much quiet reflection are we engaging in any more, as individuals or as a society?

 

A common modern trend is to “disconnect” and get away from technology for a while. Many scoff at the idea. “I could never be without my phone for any length of time,” they say. I’ve described on this show several times how just a couple of years ago my gaming “habit” was so severe that I couldn’t get rid of a game that I hadn’t completed and I was so compelled to play games whenever possible because my backlog continued to grow. My free time is still devoted to games but now only for the purposes of having fun, unless you count the occasional FTL-Faster Than Light session that lasts all day. Which in itself could very well be a “side-effect.” Modern games like the aforementioned pay to win games, but even the more complex MMORPG’s, have taken psychology into account on the development side:  knowing exactly what the human threshold for patience with any given activity before require some kind of impetus to continue is how leveling, difficulty and rewards systems are written. So you’ve reached the level cap and you’re not a PvP fan and you’re not going to buy anymore DLC in DC Universe Online so you decide it’s time to quit forever, you give it one more go and find out that there’s almost 100 more skill points left to earn to raise all of your stats so that you can access all of that other content you had all but given up on playing. That is by design. You may not get a point now every time you play for an hour, but you might be able to buy just one more item of armor to raise your combat rating, you might get one more piece of material to use for creating new items, you will get something just enticing enough for your brain to tell you, “One more hour won’t hurt.”

 

But why is this the case? Why are we so obsessed with our experiences? As I have mentioned before, our life is the culmination of our experiences so it is only natural for us to want to fill our lives with as many amazing ones as we can. Entire works of fiction have been devoted to this ideal! Most science fiction of the last 70 years would probably fit the bill. This particular genre is filled with fictional examples of amazing chemicals that grant the users an interesting and entertaining altered view of his or her world. The complete works of Philip K. Dick is devoted to the pursuit of experience and what makes us human and how we perceive our reality, often through the lens of drug use. Many dystopian futures are depicted as overrun with synthetic drugs that give the masses an escape from their daily horrors, famous examples would be RoboCop 2’s “Nuke”, Dredd’s “Slo-Mo” or Substance D from “A Scanner Darkly.” In each case, the dark underbelly of the side-effects is also explored however, so it’s not as though we’re ignorant of the dangers of anything potentially addictive. And yet, we’re continually fighting that battle, individually and societally. The debate continues to rage in this country whether marijuana is harmful and should it be legalized at the federal level even as states have individually legalized it and benefitted from it in multiple ways. On one hand we have the medical and military industrial complexes pushing the benefits of synthetic chemicals while natural substances continue to be labelled illegal. Alcohol has been documented to cause permanent damage in many ways, not the least of which is death, smoking tobacco too, while naturally occurring and in some cases even synthetic compounds are prohibited despite their provable and repeatable benefits.

 

This goes back to my previous episode about cheating. What is right, what is wrong? What is a power-up and what is a “poison mushroom”? It depends on the eye of the beholder and like as before, ultimately the outcome will be decided by the group with the most influence. At least in the mean time we know that power-ups will continue to be in games forever. And there’s always cheat codes.

 

This has been Jesse, babies to babies, still looks like Billy.

 

PEACE!

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Gamer Gate or Growing Pains?

(This was also released in spoken-word format as an episode of LilTooClinical’s podcast, “VideoGame Construct,” which can be found here: http://vgconstruct.libsyn.com or on iTunes.)

I only have one thing to say to anyone in the Gamer Gate movement: If you consider yourself a gamer and you consider yourself an adult, grow up. I could end the podcast right there but of course, that’s not my style. Rant ensues.
I don’t like Anita Sarkeesian’s video series either but not because she’s a feminist, not because I don’t like the things she has to say, but personal reasons, that have nothing to do with her as journalist or a person, that makes them opinion. Because they’re opinion and by definition not objective, while I have a right to feel any way I choose, I am not entitled to special treatment nor do I have a right to judge.
I can also admit as a calm and rational adult human being that while I might believe that Ms. Sarkeesian’s method is flawed, I defend her right to say it and I defend her overall message which I understand to be one that encourages game designers to stop relying on lazy writing, cliches and tropes in their games but especially any that treat women as a concept and not as people.
My opinion on the state of video game journalism is even less important. I think I can honestly say that I don’t even have one. Once again, as a calm, rational adult human being I can take what I read and separate it from a larger narrative. I can view it with enough healthy cynicism to understand that their may have been a bias in it and recognize what is editorial versus what is information. Additionally, I understand that if I am unhappy with the way something is reported, or unhappy with the circumstances by which it was reported on, I can exercise my right to get my information elsewhere.
On the opposite end of the argument, the ones that believe it is their mission to do something about the state of videogame journalism have been collecting evidence of journalists acting very un-journalist-like. I have seen screenshots and blog posts chronicling these so-called journalists resorting to the same methods of intimidation, hate-spewing person shaming vitriol as the “gamers” (in quotes) that they are asserting are a dying breed.
Websites devoted to videogame journalism, that I will not name because I believe their names to be irrelevant to the larger discussion, have published articles in recent weeks insisting that “gamers” are going extinct. The issue as I see it is that the term gamer is almost as all-encompassing these days as “person” or “human being.” Everyone plays games! I have to assume that the same juveniles who think it’s ok to bombard journalists and video game designers with hate, or worse, have no conception at all that videogames were first created, designed, and played by adults, and not children, before the videogame market crash of the mid-1980′s. When Nintendo managed to reinvent the market with the NES, they did so by marketing it as a toy, something for children, but I knew plenty of adults who bought the systems because they also played games on personal computers, a pastime which was far more complex than it is today which precluded most children, and even the technophobic, from participating.
While the journalists are heralding the end of gamers, I have to assume they’re thinking of the preteen to twenty-something male who plays predominantly action and shooter games, who curses incessantly in multiplayer matches and rages online about social issues of which they likely have no real understanding. What they, the journalists, fail to realize or perhaps are choosing to ignore is that you can find the same attitude by the same relative group in almost every other enthusiast culture. Sports fans, movie buffs, comic book nerds, name a pasttime and I can almost guarantee you that they have their own idiot man-children sub-culture to deal with.
Right now in our country we’re dealing with a brand new civil rights movement revolving around the equal treatment of many different social classes and cultures. The issue of a hateful fandom versus misogny in game design and marketing is just one more example of that larger movement but in every single case, I can assure you that the loudest voices are certainly not the majority. You see, just like Second Amendment supporters like to constantly remind the gun control movement, many gun owners manage to not commit any acts of a gun violence every single day, but unfortunately in our culture, tens of thousands of people abiding by the law of the land and behaving isn’t news. So while thounsands of videogame enthusiasts are happily playing their games without heading to the internet to voice their non-opinion in support of the game, a couple dozen angry, nasty, hateful idiots make news when they harass an indie game developer for expressing an upopular opinion.
Perhaps the videogame culture is too insulated to realize, or once again the angry voices too preoccupied with their petty issues to notice, but NBA basketball fans just drove an owner out of their association because of things he said privately to another individual that became public. Objectively we know that the man’s privacy was violated and he didn’t break any laws but that didn’t stop a culture of calm, rational, adult human-beings from exercising their right to express displeasure. The NFL is fighting a two-pronged public relations battle right as they deal with the socio-political fallout of one team that possesses a name that some find offensive while simultaneously dealing with the fact that members of their organization are potential and confirmed domestic abusers. The NASCAR organization is still reeling from the death of a rookie driver at the hands of veteran driver while the culture fights over who is to blame and continues to apply social pressure that would lead to answers in the still ongoing investigation.
I can admit that none of these three issues are directly analagous to the Gamer GAte (in quotes) issue, I mention them if only to point out that the enthusiasts themselves are just as integral to the culture as the providers. While I am certainly no expert, I can say that videogame culture is experiencing growing pains. The multi-billion corporations that provide the games continue to find ways to entertain the masses at the smallest possible cost to themselves for the biggest possible return, which sadly results in the use of the very tropes that Ms. Sarkeesian is attempting to illuminate. I’m not so gloomy as to say that the industry is headed for another collapse, as game budgets and scope inflate, a large part of the market is already showing dismay for those same games as indie games and smaller, more unique titles gain popularity and continue to grow in the internet age.
This debate doesn’t exist in a vacuum either, as comic book companies struggle to please their growing audience of women the movie and TV industry is doing the same thing. Modern female content consumers are a growing market and not simply content to read and watch and play the same things as their male counterparts. Some of them are, but the larger point is that they have a right to ask for it, to express displeasure about it, to illuminate the problems inherent to that and even do it themselves if they feel others aren’t doing it adequately enough.
They also deserve the respect that we give, or at least should be giving, to everyone else. NOBODY deserves to be bombarded with hateful rhetoric simply because the possessor of an opinion cannot properly express themselves, calmly, rationally and maturely. While I will say that freedom of speech does not mean freedom of the consequences of speaking freely and that goes for both sides in this whole Gamer Gate issue, nobody deserves to have their lives threatened for simply existing in defiance of someone else’s narrow minded view. We are fortunate enough to live in a time and place where people are allowed to express themself any way they choose without being jailed, or worse. We also have a free market through which we can express ourselves, and if you don’t like the content you’re being provided you are free to look elsewhere for it. If such a thing as what you desire specifically does not exist then you need to ask yourself a couple of questions like, is what I’m looking for realistic or reasonable? Would it appeal to others? Would those others be a large enough market to make it viable? Would I be willing to make it and if so would I be willing to deal with the consequences of putting content out there for the world to see and form opinions of? If the answer to any of those questions is no then it might be time to reevaluate what it is you’re after and consider that perhaps your wants and desires do not necessarily reflec the wants and desires of others.
Sadly, the conclusion that I have come to regarding all of this is that on both sides of the argument, like any other socio-political issue being argued and reported on in this country and in this culture today, neither side is blameless. Neither side is behaving completely calmly, rationally and maturely. Widespread assumptions are being made in both directions and ultimately what is being argued isn’t even relevant to the primary issue at its core anymore. Not all videogames, their designers, their players or their reviewers are complete and total misogynists but not all journalists are being perfectly unbiased, objective and staying away from editorializing.
Please don’t misunderstand, I am not blaming Anita Sarkeesian or Zoe Quinn for the hate and harrassment they received. While they appear to be the impetus of this whole so-called “movement”, these two individuals are the most blameless for what it has become. When I said that neither side was blameless what I meant was that other journalists and game developers, in their defense, were found to be engaging in the same kind of immature behavior and hate-spewing rhetoric as Ms. Sarkeesian’s and Ms. Quinn’s harrassers. I’m not a journalist, I’m what would probably be referred to as a blogger and ultimately this is just my opinion, but I can say that as a gamer who cannot easily adopt or even identify with either side that I have seen evidence of both sides behaving immaturely. Sadly, like many pioneers, these two women will not be properly upheld and respected until sometime in the future after their contributions have had time to take effect and culture has had time to grow.
I tend to stay away from direct confrontation to the best of my ability the majority of the time, but I have to say, Gamer Gaters, no one is going to take you seriously as long as you act like there is no problem and you certainly can, but most definitely shouldn’t, get angry when someome tries to address the problem with the express purpose of trying to fix or improve it! Journalists, you cannot expect your readers, listeners or viewers to take you seriously if you’re going to make assumptions that color your content but you certainly can’t, or once again rather should not, get angry if those same content consumers want to respond with criticism, corrections or dissenting opinions. I think participants on both sides need to learn both how to be a little more thick-skinned but also be a great deal more open-minded.
I’m sure all sorts of people might listen to this and have plenty of things to say about this episode once it’s out there but if I wasn’t prepared to have the discussion, i wouldn’t be putting it out there in the first place. This is my chosen favorite past time and what happens in the culture and industry matter to me, but I also realize that ultimately none of this is so important to me that it’s going to trump my life and responsibilities. It might irritate or even upset me, but it’s not worth getting angry over and it’s certainly not worth calling names or spewing hate or making threats!
In the end, the conclusion I have drawn is that a handful of insecure people, on both sides, let their emotions get the best of them and reacted before they were able to calmly, rationally and maturely reflect on what it is they had just experienced and work it out before also attempting to defend the various issues and make counter accusations. Assumptions were made, but also assumptions were met, and in the end all that happened was a bunch of people ended up screaming at each other, literally and figuratively, until it escalated to a level that damaged the credibility of EVERYONE WHO MAKES, PLAYS AND COMMENTS ON GAMES.
So with all the sarcasm I can muster I will close by saying, thank you children for embarassing the rest of us with your ridiculous and juvenile behavior. I look forward to your poorly worded, horribly misspelled, ill-informed arguments to fill the various inboxes this show uses for correspondence. I will ignore all of them and continue to enjoy, and talk about my favorite past time as a calm, rational and mature adult.
This has been Jesse, “Babies to babie, still looks like Billy.” PEACE!

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Takin’ my online-life into my own hands with this one…

Really pro-life or just anti-choice?

 

Last week I read a most enlightening article on a friend’s Facebook page, re-shared from a friend of hers. It asked the question which is the title of my entry. The person who wrote it identified himself as a pro-lifer and then went on to propose that in the long run this most recent decision by the Supreme Court (in favor of Hobby Lobby not allowing its employee healthcare plan to pay for certain types of contraception) is actually detrimental to the pro-life movement. He elaborates that he believes the “modern pro-life” movement has adopted philosophies that actually fly in the face of the principles that essentially established the movement in the first place, way back when in the earliest days post the infamous Roe. V. Wade court battle that made abortions legal in this country. Unfortunately, amid the heated rhetoric and the endless public debate which is grossly dishonest on both sides both the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice” have truly lost their meaning so this article wondered how many people who identify themselves as “pro-life” are actually in favor of not only the child being born but then the child’s continued well-being all the way to adulthood and how many simply call themselves pro-life because it aligns with other socio-political beliefs they also hold. He then went on to argue that the pro-life movement ought to be supporting the ability for people to have more access to more forms of contraception if they truly want to reduce the number of abortions.

 

Pro-choice on the other hand is the firm belief that regardless of the circumstances of conception, the individual whose body is to be affected by the gestating fetus should have complete freedom to choose in what way she will handle the pregnancy. The debate rages on as those who fight against the viewpoint argue that “life begins at conception” and therefore any and all abortions are “prenatal murder.” Those in favor of the option to choose indicate that advances in modern science now allow us to see every single development of the gestating fetus. This gives us the unprecedented ability to determine at what stage the zygote transitions from a collection of multiplying cells to an actual living infant. This has led to laws at the state level that add to, but do not take away from, the federal statute outlawing only those abortions that would happen after said transition.

 

Now, I could go on for pages and pages about how both sides have their positives and negatives; how there are people on both sides who likely do not believe in or care about the debate and just have a selfish and greedy stake in their chosen horse continuing to run the race, but worst of all how there are uniformed government officials who continually and publicly make fools of themselves by commenting on the issue with an air of intelligence while expressing most foolish and obviously ignorant, often times wildly offensive, arguments both for and against. I have no desire to debate the issue let alone defend the viewpoints of one side or the other. What this article helped me to do was to articulate why this entire debate frustrates me so much. I feel like I cannot be the only one who is angered by both sides; who wonders how supposedly intelligent, empathetic people can seem so obtuse and ignorant. The conclusion that I arrived at after reading this article was quite simply that the whole debate is flawed and though both sides genuinely only the best of intentions, if we continue to argue in this way the issue will never get resolved. I would even go so far as to say that it’s possible there is someone, maybe several someones, who deliberately obfuscate the issue as they stand to benefit as long as the argument remains unresolved, but that is an issue for another entry.

 

Let me explain how I believe the debate in its current form to be flawed. Not that long ago I was introduced to a book series that gave a unique perspective on the issue of abortion. It imagined a future United States of America where a second, bloodier-than-the-first, civil war had erupted over the abortion debate and the only way it was ended was by finding a compromise. This being the future, a scientific solution was found. Thanks to new developments in medical science that eliminated all difficulties associated with organ transplants and gave anyone the ability to receive any body part from anyone else, a group of people interested in bringing a peace to the hostilites this: Life is sacred at all stages of development however not everyone in this world is a useful and contributing member of society, therefore children between the ages of 13 and 17 could be “unwound”: while still alive the child would be dismantled body part by body part so that life didn’t (theoretically) end and those parts would go on to save the lives of people in need. As I describe the process here it sounds grizzly and disgusting and how or why anyone could ever come to accept such a horrible premise seems impossible, yet the author does a very good job of painting a picture of a nation so weary of war that any end to the fighting was considered ideal. As the books go on we discover that it was not originally proposed as a realistic solution, rather it was intended be the most horrifying compromise one could imagine. The intent was to shock both sides into seeing reality: the number of lives lost waging the war far had begun to exceed the number of potential lives prevented by legalized abortion. However, it was proposed, accepted and despite some minor protests, the horrific war had ended and people grew used to the idea. Soon people became accustomed to the idea of always on hand spare parts. Additionally, the vain with enough money began engaging in cosmetic surgeries that would replace their unwanted, physically unattractive parts for plumper lips, bluer eyes, and so forth. Worst of all, a black market was also created where the parts of poor foreign visitors and runaway children whose families didn’t choose to unwind them, among others, found buyers.

 

The reason I tell you this is because of the message I believe the author was trying to convey. (Please bear in mind the following is only my interpretation.) In a world where contraception exists and where we have some of the most powerful and amazing tools at our disposal for the purposes of education, American society still chose not to change its attitude or treatment of the act of sex and child-birth and rather decided to harvest the bodies of young people for the purpose of socioeconomic improvement. I hope I have illuminated it well enough here because I still feel as though my point isn’t clear. In a world where over 99.9% of unwanted pregnancies could be prevented through the widespread adoption of contraception, this country still found another, and far more gruesome, solution to the issue of unwanted pregnancies!

 

So the conclusion that I have arrived at is that the argument is flawed because we’re even having the argument at all. Realistically, abortions don’t even have to happen, but in the current state of our society they are utilized to solve a larger problem that, by many accounts, no one wants to address.

 

Two dogs fuckin’? COVER THE CHILDRENS’ EYES AND REMOVE THEM FROM THE AREA IMMEDIATELY! Barely visible nipple during the Super Bowl Half-Time Show? THE WHOLE GODDMANED GOVERNMENT LOST ITS MIND!! Mandatory sex education in public schools? HOW DARE YOU TRY TO TALK TO MY CHILDREN ABOUT SOMETHING THAT I AM NOT AT ALL COMFORTABLE WITH TALKING TO THEM ABOUT MYSELF!!!

 

I feel like on one side we have people saying, “We’re just animals man, why deny our natural urges, just do what feels good,” to justify the having of sex whenever, wherever, with no judgement. The other side isn’t any better though with its mantra of, “Sex is horrible and dirty and Jesus sees you sinning and unless you want to have a baby don’t ever do it and you better not enjoy yourself then either!”

 

Friends of mine commented on this article on my Facebook page. One argued that unless you’re absolutely in need of birth control for medical reasons, government money, either in the form of an entitlement program or through the government provided healthcare insurance, should not be used to pay for your recreational sex protection. They point to Sandra Fluke’s testimony as an entire generation of people saying, “Sex is just something that happens and we can’t help it if we’re gonna do it so the government needs to protect me from myself because clearly I cannot be trusted to do the same.” From that perspective, it makes sense. However Sandra Fluke going before a board of government officials to elaborate on this need is just another sympton of the same problem that we’re using abortion to resolve. The counterpoint was made, “whose business is it of yours what anyone does with his or her own body?” I’m not defending either viewpoint, simply pointing out that this too is just one more sympton of the underlying problem.

 

Another friend asked me why I thought no longer treating sex as something dirty and shameful and as something to hide would have any effect on the number of abortions and then admitted they couldn’t finish the article because the perspective disgusted them. I am more than happy to explain why I think that. I grew up knowing very little about sex except what I could puzzle out on my own (i.e. men have a prong, women have a hole, obviously the prong goes into the hole, babies don’t come out of the butt, so that must be where babies come from) and stumbling upon my dad’s collection of adult magazines didn’t help much. My parents tried to have the “birds and the bees” conversation with me but to my best recollection, all I got out of it was, “You’re at an age where you can have sex, sex makes babies and we’re not ready to be grandparents, don’t have sex, don’t make a baby, or else.” That’s it. It was never talked about otherwise. When I finally did have sex and I had serious questions about it, I felt like I couldn’t go to my parents and talk about it otherwise I would be in some major trouble. Masturbation never came up once. I attended a parochial school from kindergarten to eighth grade. I received religion classes in addition to my standard elementary education. The debate over abortion was never actually up for discussion although once, during a teachable moment my history teacher opened the floor. Granted, we were all 12 years old and midwestern kids most of whom had never left the tristate area. He brought up a fellow student of ours who was a few years our elder however who would happily argue the pro-life stance with anyone and she had an answer for every reason someone might give to justify an abortion. Some of her answers could appear quite reprehensible when given out of context of her devout religious beliefs. I suppose some of them may have been reprehensible beliefs or not. When religion gets involved it only makes it more difficult. Some of it is very naive, or outmoded or just straight up irrational, but regardless it’s not making the problem any better.

 

Let me point out something: prohibition doesn’t work. It’s been proven. Why do you think alcohol prohibition was reversed in this country? Do you think the war on drugs has really had a positive affect on the number of users of illegal substances? Do you really believe that abortions never, ever happened prior to their legalization in this country? Do you really believe that were we to outlaw them again tomorrow that would change anything? Look at the amount of T&A in the media right now; the amount of free pornography available to anyone with just a tiny bit of technical knowledge; and the glorifying of untraditional pregnancies and child-raising in our culture right now (16 & Pregnant, Jon & Kate Plus 8, the whole Octo-Mom media circus, etc…) and then tell me that we have a healthy relationship with sex in our culture.

 

This is the core problem we need to solve. This was the point the original article was making. While we’re busy discussing fair pay between the gender’s, we’re apparently incapable of actually even discussing both genders as equals on the personhood level. The Supreme Court decision on the Hobby Lobby case ended up supporting the employer in their right to deny certain types of contraception, but out of 20 types that are mentioned in the healthcare insurance plan, only 4 were taking off the table. Certain types of contraception prevent conception altogether and do not actually interfere with “fertilized eggs” or “zygotes” at all. I truly hope that I disparage no one by mentioning this, but there are also many teenagers currently, girls AND boys, who are so spoiled that having to deal with anything difficult, which would include a pregnancy that resulted from being irresponsible, as unfathomable.

 

One side in their rhetoric has accused the Supreme Court of putting the rights of women behind the rights of corpses, while the other side “simply cannot understand why anyone else would be upset that they used their religious beliefs to justify their actions” (no sarcasm added). What neither side failed to mention was that the Supreme Court is a group of 9 individuals whose job it is to interpret the law and the Constitution. While it’s not uncommon, let alone unlikely, for the personal beliefs of the Justices to affect their ruling, ultimately they ruled the way did because they felt it was the proper interpretation of the law. Meaning, regardless of your feelings on the ruling, if the ruling yielded an unwanted outcome, the law needs to be changed, not the ruling.

 

How much knowledge on either topic is the average person even aware of though? I had to read multiple internet articles to find out both of those things which tells me that for most other people it would likely be the same. Meanwhile the media is quick to point out when a right wing politician says something so incredibly sexist and ignorant as to likely widen the gap between the two sides. They are quick to point out when Planned Parenthood officials get caught doing amoral shit without giving context. Are some politicians out there saying simply what they need to say to the people they need to say it to just so that they can re-elected? I’m sure there are. Are there unskilled and unqualified people working inside government funded organizations doing things they shouldn’t be? I can almost guarantee that is happening. One side proposes that severe restrictions be placed on one’s ability to get an abortion. The other side blocks a proposal to allow counselors to speak to the women before undergoing the procedure because evidence has shown in some cases that women later regret having it done. In every instance tempers flare and people have knee-jerk reactions and then their discussion sidetracks the larger argument and detracts from any potential solution the issue may have been approaching. It should not be stopping the discussion for rational, reasonable adult human-beings who are trying to solve the problem and yet we’re letting it.

 

I’m not claiming I know the answer to this problem. I’m saying that we’re not being honest with ourselves if we continue to behave as though abortions themselves are the real problem we’re trying to solve. The rational, reasonable, adult human-being voices need to be louder. We need to quit letting angry and uninformed guide the conversation. We all need to grow up and learn to talk about sex like grown ups and not children who titter at “dirty” words.

 

In closing, if you feel that I have misrepresented any perspective or facts here, please feel free to address me on them. I tried to remain as middle of the road as I could and simply highlight the problems on both sides, because I truly do believe that we won’t see a resolution without both sides working together. The unfortunate reality is that in the current sociopolitial environment, that won’t happen anytime soon. I consider myself to be a pro-lifer but I also would never dream of telling a woman what she could or couldn’t do with her body, so that makes this whole topic rather complex for me anyway. As I’m sure it probably is with most people, but “most people” aren’t the ones making the headlines.

 

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Self-medicating?

I was recently informed that I am a self-medicater. What this means is that I like to use substances to alter my state of mind so that I can be happy. Obviously this would create a codependence issue, unfortunately it feels excellent when done “properly”. I also recently realized that I when properly medicated I am actually more present and self-aware ans I respond to regular stimulants like anyone else, specifically caffeine or nicotine. Interestingly enough, it seems that I also prefer cheap beer and the way it makes me feel versus the more expensive, specialty or micro brews.

So tonight I am playing a game, the sequel to a game I played under heavy influence several years ago when I was self-medicating, and I discovered that the joy I felt while playing the game then and “altered” (my preferred term versus “high”) is the same joy I get playing the game unaltered. It’s very heartening to know and very relieving as well. I am drinking beer, but it is cheap beer and I haven’t eaten anything today, so I wonder would I feel the same drinking a Sam Adams seasonal instead of a good ol’ Busch Light? Truthfully, as country as this probably makes me sound, I prefer the Busch Light.

Part of me craves, almost to the point of craziness, becoming altered now. Yet, I can now say to myself, “Nope, you don’t need it.” Another part of me reminds myself that there may be a day again some time in the future that I can become altered again, but even knowing that, I manage to simply shrug it off and go back to my game and beer. Most interesting of all, I can recognise the depressing aspect of alcohol and remind myself that any sadness I think I am feeling is likely caused by it and not a genuine sensation I am feeling. Never before have I been in such control and so content. I hope this continues and that I can continue to post here, perhaps even with more frequency. I just received an opportunity to write comedy and be compensated for my efforts. Never before has a dream of mine been so close. A small part of me thinks that it’s not possible and that something will inevitably go wrong. I relish this newfound ability to call shenanigans on my brain’s own bullshit.

Is this what happiness feels like?

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Let me tell you about how jacked up my organization is…

I have a sparkling record for three years and three months and three separate leaders who put it on paper in the most official capacity at their disposal. Not once in my four years at my current occupation did I complain about my circumstances or my treatment, despite the most recent nine month period during which I was told at every turn that nothing I did before mattered, nothing I was currently doing was good enough and I possessed no skills that were of any use to my current leadership, both regimes under which I served. It should also be noted that one member of the first regime, in less than nine months from moving to another region, has been punished and separated from the Army because of his professional conduct. Ultimately for myself, nine months, one marriage headed for divorce and one failed APFT later I spent five days in the Mental Hygiene ward of a VA hospital to receive treatment for suicidal and homicidal ideations brought on by stress.

 

Within ninety minutes of being released from the hospital I was debriefed and asked if I was “better.” I informed the debriefing parties, my Company Commander and First Sergeant, that I had benefitted from my treatment and that as long as I could be granted the time I had been prescribed to maintain my mental health treatment I would continue to improve. I was informed I would be afforded this time. This would be the last time I would ever speak with either of them about this matter.

 

At this time I was in the position in my office for which I was best suited, not to mention the position I most preferred and most enjoyed, paperwork and administrative expert or “processor”. I continued to conduct business as usual, under the pressure of doing both my job and a second job that was in violation of all guidance and training I had ever received in this particular Army organization. While under this pressure, I was forced to deal with the additional pressure of battalion and brigade leadership teams fully aware of their defiance of guidance and comfortable with that reality and imposing unrealistic goals upon Soldiers at every level while failing to support those same Soldiers in every meaningful way. Specifically when integrity was in question, it was not uncommon for battalion leadership to accept the word of personnel outside of the Army over the word of NCO’s who are typically held in esteem for their trustworthiness and required to follow a strict moral code that values integrity. While conducting business as usual, issues that would have been ignored in other brigade and battalion areas of operation are held up as massive violations of policy and punished with such severity that lengthy careers have been prematurely terminated. All the while company leadership, who is also aware of the defiance of guidance and violations of policy, is in such fear of being removed themselves that they do nothing to enlighten USAREC leadership about the failings in the battalion and brigade and pass the pressure on to their subordinates at company level, in direct opposition to the same moral code mentioned above. It was during this time that I was dropped by my mental health provider for failing to attend my monthly appointments out of fear that I would be persecuted professionally for putting my mental health issues above my duty and at no time since I had been released from the VA hospital had anyone in my company leadership inquired about my mental health, which is a clear violation of not only the moral code but a glaring example of poor leadership.

 

Upon getting a referral from my Primary Care Physician I began seeing a new mental health professional who concluded after her initial session with me that I needed to work with her on a weekly basis; in other words four times as often as I was to be seen by my previous therapist. With her help I discovered that the issues that put me in the hospital were the culmination of problems I had not been appropriately dealing with for nearly fifteen years. However, in just five months since working with my second therapist I have not only improved as a Soldier but substantively in every other aspect of my life; as a husband, as a father and on a personal level I would have never before thought possible.

 

While seeing my new therapist, errors I had made doing my job in my “business as usual” sort of way caused me to be removed from processor and put in a position where I had previously been less than successful, “prospector” or the Army’s version of a talent scout. At that moment I was counseled professionally regarding the matter by my first line supervisor, a team leader, as well as the company commander. After this counseling session was complete, the commander then asked about the state of my family and personal life (but not my mental health counseling nor any related issue) for the first time since I had been released from the hospital six months prior. So while the timing of the question angered me, I maintained my professionalism and made him aware that I was irritated and I did not feel now was the appropriate time to discuss it as I was too emotional. He continued to insist until my team leader stepped in an offered to take me out of the office for a bit to cool-down. This particular moment was brushed off as inconsequential though I was later made aware it may have been perceived as just one more piece of evidence that would suggest I was a sub-par Soldier with an attitude and a persecution complex. I would not speak with him again in a professional capacity for another three months.

 

Bear in mind, in the time-period that spanned from my hospitalization to day I was removed from the processor position, another Soldier in the battalion had committed a serious impropriety. This is a choice he attributed to pressure. My very own company commander conducted the inquiry of the impropriety and recommended no punishment because of the toxic situation in which the Soldier had been working. Despite that recommendation, the Soldier was punished, by the battalion with the most severe punishment that could be handed down for the violation. Prior to that, a Soldier in a neighboring battalion killed himself and an eighteen year-old high school student who was in the process of joining the Army. Yet, I was not approached at any time about the potential improprieties I was believed to have committed and nor my mental health issues that came to light because of suicidal and homicidal thoughts.

 

Shortly after I was reassigned to prospector, company leadership instituted a new policy wherein they would review the daily schedule of each individual Soldier in the station, down to the hour, each month to scrutinize work ethic and productivity. I was separately, and repeatedly, informed that my continued employment was contingent on these reviews and quantifiable progress in the scrutinized areas was vital for me to remain in the Army, not just USAREC. Once again, these reviews are in direct defiance of USAREC guidance, the accompanying training and the methodology under which I was groomed.

 

Finally, two months ago, while still dealing with the possibility of divorce and under the most intense pressure I had experienced thus far, I suffered a lapse in judgement and violated my integrity. In order to satisfy what I felt was an unrealistic and unattainable goal set by the company commander I submitted false information which he quickly discovered. When confronted I, in a panic, attempted to cover it up as I did not know how much he knew or how far he would go to uncover the truth. I was informed I would be counseled for the inputting of false information and would be meeting with both the commander and the First Sergeant the next morning. During this meeting I was presented with evidence that the mistakes I made professionally, to include the undocumented (and therefore for all intents and purposes nonexistent and not usable as evidence to justify anything) instances, since being hospitalized framed me as lazy and a liar. Because my most recent APFT score less than four weeks before was another +235 the “lazy” part was retracted; however my integrity was still in question and I was told they truly believed this about me. The commander also made it a point to inform me that he had gone to his leadership, the battalion commander, to ask for advice on how to deal with this situation.

 

When I informed them that my integrity lapsed because I saw that my leadership’s integrity appeared to already be absent, they laughed. A better description might be “they scoffed.” I informed them that the pressure I was under caused me to fear the consequences of mission failure more than the consequences of not doing the right thing. When I was asked to what pressure I was referring, both leaders declared that it could not possibly have come from them and that their integrity was above reproach. In that moment I believed that no amount of explanation on my part with regard to their own integrity violations, as I perceived them, would serve me as I felt that they had both already made up their minds about me and could not see that the things they were doing could ever be construed as lacking in integrity. I explained instead that at the battalion and brigade levels the continued defiance of USAREC guidance made it difficult for me to live the same values when clearly leadership at those levels could not. I was scoffed at once again.

 

I was then informed that none of that was any of my concern and that the only leadership I should be concerned with was theirs; they were well-suited and well-prepared to complete the mission they had been given with the resources and personnel they possessed. It was my responsibility to simply do what they asked and use my experience and position to help my fellow officemates complete the tasks they had been given. Once again, I felt that I could not explain that was where much of my despair and frustration originated: if I were to train and mentor my fellow Soldiers in the methods I had been trained, I would be continually in direct opposition to their orders as their orders were in defiance of USAREC guidance. I was then informed that my annual NCOER had already been completed prior to this event and could not be changed. I was told previously, on the day I was moved from processor to prospector, that I had been giving extra chances that I did not deserve. On this day I was told I was receiving mercy; I had twelve months to convince him that I was a better Soldier than what he believed me to be and to prevent me from getting a “No” under “Integrity” on my next NCOER. This would of course be the end of my career in the Army. I was also being recommended for the maximum form of non-judicial punishment as a result. He did however lower it from the maximum to a lesser punishment, “for showing integrity that day.” I was then “retrained” on Army Values, specifically Integrity, and told to “get back to work.”

 

Less than two weeks later I was implicated in an impropriety. It was brought to my company commander’s attention that I had informed an applicant attempting to the join the Army not to reveal an arson charge he received and the resulting rehabilitation program he completed as a juvenile. I informed the company commander that he had never told me of an arson charge at any time and had only ever mentioned a single minor infraction as a juvenile that was of no consequence so I never listed it, as was common practice at my previous duty station. I was then informed that I had committed a serious offense and my conduct would be reported to the battalion commander again. I am fully aware that as a Sergeant First Class my mastery of the regulation in my chosen field is my responsibility and I am not attempting to deflect blame. It is my intent to highlight the glaring differences in environment between my previous station and my current. While the company commander continually insisted that he had already noticed a positive change in me and that he would assist me at every step in the process by which I was to receive my punishment, I still feel as though I was not properly briefed and that it may already be too late to do anything else to defend myself and present myself to the battalion commander in a way that more reflective of the Soldier I truly am.

 

Once again today I received a monthly review of my work ethic. I was informed that while my “numbers” had clearly improved, upon deeper scrutiny it actually had not. Instead of meeting only three-fifths of my projected goal, I in fact, only met one quarter of my goal, because the other fraction of work was not the direct result of my specific and dedicated efforts, and therefore I could not take credit for them. While I was never explicitly told by the commander that this was disappointing to him, I was later informed by my team leader that once again I had provided him with more evidence that would support the point of view that I am a sub-par Soldier who is not suited to this job or the Army organization as a whole. My team leader then proceeded to counsel me, under guidance (or perhaps more accurately pressure) by the commander on my individual shortcomings as a prospector (once again in direct violation current of USAREC policy) and that I had now nine months to improve my standing with the commander. I was then informed that next year, because of the non-judicial punishment proceeding, that the battalion leadership would insist on a “No” under “Integrity” on my next NCOER and that in the following nine months I had a near-insurmountable task ahead in convincing the company commander to defend and hopefully prevent the “No” from appearing on my NCOER.

 

Obviously this doesn’t even cover the fact that I believe I was being discriminated against because I am a Reservist and I am still being discriminated against for seeing a therapist and have now been denied two possible experiences that would benefit me for the purpose of promotion as a result. There are also two other Soldiers in the company who are likely suffering similar discrimination. As well there is the issue that those same Soldiers are experiencing the same leadership failure from company leadership with regard to their issue as well. That is specifically: leadership not following up at any time since the issue was reported.

 

Never before has anyone questioned my integrity with the severity I have experienced under this particular command. However what is worse to me, never before have I personally and professionally been treated with such disrespect while my rank, my knowledge, my experience and my record appear to have been outright ignored. I do not know what I did to this leadership team when they first arrived to deserve this treatment.

 

Not once did anyone in the current company leadership ask the question, “How does a SFC with a spotless record for nearly twelve years, an APFT score of +235 (which also happened to be an improvement over his previous APFT score six months prior) and a sparkling NCOER turn to illegal substances, nearly lose his family to divorce and end up hospitalized for suicide in just four months after PCSing?” I also have reason to believe that no echelon of leadership above the company was ever made aware of my hospitalization or later issues. I was informed recently by an incoming Sergeant Major at battalion level that I needed to take care of myself and my family first, above my duty and mission accomplishment and yet I feel like leadership at multiple levels is actively trying to prematurely end my Army career, subsequently preventing me from doing exactly that.

 

I’ll tell you how a Soldier suffers such a downward spiral in four months: No incoming counseling, no meeting with company leadership and no initial 30 day NCOER upon my arrival to this unit, followed by continual assurances from company leadership that I am worthless, threats of maximum non-judicial punishment for non-punishable “offenses” and eventually a new leadership team that promises to fix all the company’s problems but never actually addresses the welfare or well-being of each individual Soldier. A perfect example would be a URAC form I completed two months prior to being hospitalized that showed me as high risk; all the warning signs of a depressed individual were clearly there. A better example would be a falsified URAC that was completed by my team leader (after speaking to a suicide counselor but before being transported to the hospital) but signed by the First Sergeant the day I went to the hospital. Perhaps I should mention that the company leadership lived within walking distance of my family on post and never made more than one attempt (after COB the first day I was hospitalized) to contact my family or to find out if they were in need in any way during my absence.

 

I have always stood up and taken responsibility for mistakes that I have made and been more than willing to learn from them and do better and I have two former team leaders that would speak to that, so do not think that I am trying to get out of my non-judicial punishment for the committing of the impropriety or falsifying data. Both of those team leaders advised me multiple times to contact IG with my issues and though I came close several times I never did. I felt it would be dishonorable to potentially ruin the careers of two men I barely knew and who I was sure deep down did feel as though they were doing their jobs not only correctly but well. I just wanted to be treated like an adult and with the respect that the Army teaches you to give and that NCO’s are conditioned to expect, especially talented and motivated NCO’s that believe in the Army, the Army Values and try to live up to the NCO Creed at all times. I simply wanted to highlight the circumstances that led to the committing of both integrity violations and propose the possibility that if leadership had not failed me perhaps none of this would have ever happened at all. I want to ensure that if I am going to be held accountable for my own lapses in judgement, integrity and leadership, that those who outrank me and are expected to set the example for me and my peers be held to the same standard.

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Pacific Rim

My latest Drunk Live Tweet. I tried to keep the tweets that made it to Twitter as spoiler free as I could. I think I did a pretty good job. Without further ado:

 

Oh, thanks for that definition from Japan.

 

HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!

 

Has it occurred to anyone that these things are just poor frightened animals? Have we tried going into the damn fissure?

 

Seeing this, I can only imagine what the Halo movie is finally going to look like.

 

You know what you tell a a Jaeger Pilot? Not much. #OldJoke #PacificRim

 

So what you’re telling me is, the world came together to build something THIS AWESOME! Isn’t that be motivation enough? #PacificRim

 

Eat plasma you freakin’ dinosaur!

 

Eat plasma you Power Ranger Villain reject. #PacificRim

 

Old tin robot. Cute.

 

Canada’s always gotta have the last word. #PacificRim

 

How do alien animals from another dimension adapt to being punched in the face? #PacificRim

 

I wish today’s military would let me grow a mustache like Idris Elba’s.

 

Idris Elba. Damn. #NuffSaid

 

You have got to be kidding me Charlie Day AND Burn Gorman?!

 

Charlie’s five o’clock shadow looks really good in 3D.

 

American bulldog in 3D. Nice #PacificRim

 

I want to mind meld with a giant alien monster animal.

 

Kaiju brain trying to communicate is probably the scariest thing I can think of right now.

 

Clifton Collins Jr. is one of the most underrated actor in Hollywood.

 

That’s pretty sexy looking hair for “rugged and unkempt.” #PacificRim

 

Fighter pilots are the same everywhere.

 

those are some nicely spit-shined black boots. I wish we still used black boots in the Army.

 

Marshall you’re a dick!

 

Wait a minute, something isn’t right here.

 

Human/kaiju drift. #Barf

 

Yep. Something really isn’t right.

 

Idris Elba for Doctor Who. Seriously.

 

So if I can see the sexual tension, what must that feel like when you enter each other’s brains? #PacificRim

 

God dammit, I love Charlie Day. This is his most amazing and impressive role ever. #PacificRim

 

Baby Mako looks so much like my niece it’s scary.

 

This is what the opposite of a good trial run looks like.

 

Hmm… you think that boat with the giant fuck-off horns has something bad going on inside it?

 

Ron. Fucking. Perlman. In gold boots with a golden balisong.

 

Hey, when did I turn on Top Gun? #PacificRim

 

Dude, Marshall Pentecost just told you, TWICE, don’t touch him. I had a platoon sergeant like that once.

 

Everybody stare at the dude who just fucked up. Like he isn’t already self-conscious about it. #PacificRim

 

I love how stereotypical the russians are.

 

I really love the way they gave us tons of giant robots, but didn’t overdo it.

 

Crimson Typhoon is fighting Godzilla from the Roland Emmerich piece of crap. Symbolic? I think so. #Pacific Rim

 

That thing just farted a damn EMP!

 

Oh, snap, your redheaded step-child just became useful. #PacificRim

 

ron Perlman was just channeling Jos Piscopo in Johnny Dangerously! #PacificRim

 

Let us fight about nicknames we don’t like during a life and death scenario, shall we?!

 

Oh suddenly douchebag has respect for the has-been?

Holy shit, Gipsy Danger has Mega Man’s Mega Arm?! #PacificRim

 

Wicked tongue!

 

BATTER UP!

 

Why wasn’t there a videogame for this film?

 

Wait a flying-monster punching minute! Bat wings? Sword? Japanese kill quote? I love Guillermo and I hate Hollywood.

 

Is there a medal for bisecting a kaiji in mid-air? An achievement? Something?

 

Hey, when did I turn on Evolution? #PacificRim

 

Why is the spit pink?

 

Nice jump scare Guillermo.

 

That shot in the mirror is trippy in 3D.

 

Burn Gorman needs to make a guest spot on “Sunny.” What an amazing thing that would be! #PacificRim

 

This is some of the most beautiful CG I have ever seen. I need more!!!

 

GlaDOS is the voice of the Jaegers. Well done Legendary, well done. #PacificRim

 

That’s 2 kaiju bisections in 1 day. that’s very unlikely, but buh-dass as all hell.

 

Oh now you want to take orders. You stupid, honorable sonuvabitch.

 

Chivalry isn’t dead after all.

 

You ever seen a nuclear detonation beneath the ocean? Ya want to?

 

WHY WON’T YOU DIE?!

 

Don’t you understand, movies that involve war of any kind have to follow Murphy’s Law. #PacificRim

 

Can you swim in a plastic suit of armor?

 

Buying the soundtrack. #PacificRim

 

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Suicide is painless?

September 9, 2013

 

Long lonely drive back from Syracuse today after a long and lonely drive up there, despite 5 kids in the van. Had my therapy appointment today and it even seemed like Pam was upset at what I did last week. I know she’s not, she could care less either way, but she clearly saw something that confused her:  how can I have made so much progress and in a single moment fucked it all up. Thoughts of suicide came back. Not serious, not really. Still, when all I want to do is talk to someone I love about it, and everyone else seems too busy with their own shit, it’s depressing. I texted Jared, he responded in a typical Jared fashion and still after the exchange was over, I felt as though he doesn’t want to be my friend as much as I want to be his. I wonder if calling Jason my best friend on the podcast hurt his feelings, or if perhaps Heather said something to him that caused him to turn against me again like Andy did before, or has he simply “grown up” and no longer interested in the things I’m interested in and thinks that we have nothing in common anymore? I want to talk to Kristen about how sad I am, how sad this makes me, but I get the feeling from her that she’s too upset with her own issues that she couldn’t care about mine. As I type this out I realize how stupid it sounds and I remember that I should never assume anything. Let the other person tell me if they don’t have time or can’t be bothered, don’t not talk because you think there mind is already made up. And even as I think that, I then think I still probably won’t.

 

I think about stories I’ve heard that suicidal people go on meds only to get better enough to actually go through with it and I wonder if that’s why my thoughts have returned. I think I should go to the Mental Illness Happy Hour forums and talk to others and then I think, “No, that’s one more thing I don’t have the time for.” Bad grammar notwithstanding. I hate ending a sentence with a preposition. I think that SFC Hawkins is right that I need to take care of this and myself first, and that I can trace my specific work-related issues right back to that moment in November. Then I think I need to send up that IG complaint before they try to kick me out of the Army. And then I talk myself out of it.

 

Maybe I should call Tim again, I think. But then that means admitting to him that I’m a giant piece of shit. Yesterday for the first time in a long time I felt awesome because Brad Trachtman told me I was funny, and smart and he liked the way my brain worked. Today I realize that someday in the future someone could say of me, “Hey did you know that Jesse Holt was in the Army once? He was even a recruiter,” just like people talk of other celebrities who used to serve in the military. Today, I get home and I’m sad, hungry, depressed, angry. Kristen is upset because we won’t have the money we need to pay our bills at the end of the month. meanwhile I stare at the 60” tv, think about the 55” in the other room and don’t say a thing because I’d rather not have a fight right now.

 

All I want to do is crawl into my black leather chair and meditate. Perhaps hopefully have an out of body experience which is why I started meditating in the first place and knowing I’ll probably fail at that too. So, instead I sit here in the dark, writing out how I feel, regretting everything I’ve done this entire day, fuck, for the last whole month really, and thinking that wrecking my car and killing myself in a way that couldn’t be proven as suicide would be the best thing to happen to everyone I know. Last time I felt like this, I had lots of alcohol in my system. This time there is none. What to do?

 

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Video Friday

liltooclinical:

NICE! Way to go Patty!

Originally posted on DiHard:

My good friend Patty Marvel did her first stand up set!!  It is a solid performance for a first time person!  She is adorable and has a great deal of potential.  I hope that she keeps it going!

Here is an extra feature for your eyes!  2 Nerds 1 Podcast produced the first of what I hope to be many videos about cooking for the lazy time challenged person!  I am equally horrified and amused by this video.  Go Joe and T$!!

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Important Questions

Just very recently I finally came to terms with the reality that is:  I have Adult ADHD. I just turned thirty-one, mind you. Tonight I’m sitting here with my wife at the lake as we stare out of the bay windows and drink some wine and I asked her, “What are you thinking about?”

Her response:  “That’s a lot of boats heading that way.”

“Really!?”

Slightly irritated now she says, “Yeah?” As if to say, “So, what of it?”

That scares the shit out of me because at the very same moment I was thinking about a song from an episode of “Thrilling Adventure Hour: Sparks Nevada, Marshall on Mars,” what it was I did earlier today that upset her so, how would I get a haircut before Monday, how would I also trim my facial hair before then, “Dammit, it’s my fault I didn’t pack a razor even though Kristen packed my suitcase for this trip,” “Is that couch a foldout bed,” “What am I going to do about work Monday,” and a handful of other things that I can’t recall precisely at this moment. This is what it’s like for me all the time. It never stops; it never slows down.

This is the only way it has ever been my whole life! Now I’m struggling to understand that it isn’t like this for other people. My brain isn’t anymore special or exceptional than anyone else’s, I don’t think anyway, but is it really that calm in other peoples’ heads? Is it really possible to only be thinking about one thing at a time at any given moment? That doesn’t make a single gods damned bit of sense to me!

This line of thinking of course has only opened up completely new thoughts and questions. I am taking medication for my “condition,” which I only call it that because I think it’s jacked up to call it a disorder, or an illness, or any other word that means “abnormal,” and I know that when I’m on it I am a different person. I’m less impulsive, less animated, among other things. I’m also in therapy to help me cope with my bad decision making that has plagued me most of my life and how I can improve it. My therapist tells me that what I really need is an expert on these medications to properly adjust the dosage I am on to maximize the good it can do for me. Does this mean that if my dosage is adjusted properly and it improves my mental state even more that my mind will be as calm as Kristen’s at moments like these? Is that really a good thing, I wonder? Can I even handle that?

I don’t know, as I’m just beginning to learn that psychotropic meds have effects beyond what we can predict, not to mention that when your mental state really does change things that made complete sense to you before seem completely insane later. I don’t think I even want my mind to be that calm. It’s not that I necessarily like the chaos that’s going on up there all the time, but if my mind really is capable of a dozen thoughts a minute, is it really wise to be reducing that to one a minute rather than attempting to harness that power to do truly great things someday?

I’m also angry. I can’t say if it’s justified or not, but I’m angry that other people appear to have no conception what it’s like to be drowning in thought twenty-four seven. I’m angry that medical professionals who may or may not know this feeling are telling me and others like me what normal is and is not. I’m angry that I can’t say certain things without it sounding like I’m actually saying, “The voices in my head said…” and immediately branded a crazy person. I’m angry that at this point I probably sound that way to some people already.

I also have no outlet for this anger. My old outlet is no longer an option. Suffice it to say, this only makes me angrier. It doesn’t help that sometimes it feels like the only person who understands is my therapist, which is a phrase I had hoped I would never, ever in my life say because I feel it makes it look as though I’ve made poor decisions forever and ever. The anger gives way to pain when I start to think that no one else can help me either, especially the ones closest to me whom I want help from the most.

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