Archive for August, 2012

What the hell have you done lately?

I was born in Russia. I have traveled around the world. Twice. I’ve lived in many different countries, traveled with the Peace Corps and worked with the US Army. That is not what this writing is about. This is about what came after that.

When I tell people “There is no better experience you can give yourself than the experience of travel,” I mean it. Life is all about experiences. And Life is finite. Which means there is never a ‘time like the present.’ You can plan and you can save up but eventually all that you are doing is holding yourself back. You just have to…Go.

After my time with the military was over, I looked back at my life and realized that for all my traveling world-wide, I experienced shamefully little of the country of whose military I was now a veteran. So I bought an old car and set out from the east coast heading west in a circular pattern, planning to visit every state in the USA.

DEPARTURE


Thats a terrible game, btw.

If you died today, would you be able to die without regrets? I can honestly say that; Yes, I very much could. You know why? Because before I ever got a grey hair on my head I had achieved what old couples with RVs plan to do their entire lives–and it wasn’t just the privilege of having traveled with organizations like the PeaceCorps or the Army (great balance of philosophies there, no?). It was just a kid with a hundred bucks in his hand who left everything behind and went on a year-long car trip.
How did I manage that? Wait and I’ll tell you all about it.

…okay, wait some more.

Okay here it is:

When I decided to leave, I packed up my survival gear and just drove away, tossing my phone in the process. You have to understand that like many soldiers after a life in the military, I was having trouble acclimating to the change. It was not so much that I wanted to run away, it was more like I wanted to be free of ALL anchors. Let me tell you; that is SCARY. I’ve been traveling all of my life, but never quite like this. Never alone. Never without a unit. Never before have I had to leave literally everything but the essentials (and video games). It was, for me, a spiritual quest.

You can think of a Christian pilgrim or a Buddhist monk. I was them. But not really searching for anything. Merely experiencing freedom.

EXPERIENCE

Freedom.

It was not the kind of freedom that they write histories about, but the kind religions are made from. This was not freedom from some great tyrant but a liberation of the mind and the heart. It was a freedom from tedium. From uncertainty. From fear.

At first, there was a lot of fear. But once I physically took off, leaving all my crap behind, that fear turned to longing and then nostalgia and then it died all-together, giving way to a metaphysical breath of fresh air. All change is scary, but I learned to accept it and the fear melted away. Only in travel, at first, then other things–like the fear of no money, or ridicule for being without harbor, and even freedom from the fear of death. A burden that has been lifted. I was free from physical possessions. I knew who and what I was and I am still as of this writing happy with that. I still relied on my car and food of course, but after a few weeks on the road I was happy with who I was. I was floating, more or less directionless, and definitely goal-less, but I felt free. It was liberating. It helped me to realize that nothing lasts, so why stress about it? Every morning I would wake and be thankful for what I had and who I was and what I had experienced up to that point, and then I reminded myself that ‘nothing mattered’. In the sense that worry is a waste of time. There is always so much more to see.

LOCATION

According to Dogma, that would be Wisconsin.

I do not think this trip would have been possible in any other country that I have ever been before. Europe is tiny, the size of one of America’s states, and while cars are in constant use are much more inconvenient to live in (in my experience). Backpacking through Europe seemed like the better alternative (and was). Russia, while 3 times the size of the USA is mostly undeveloped. There are plenty of roads around the major cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg (close to Europe) but the only thing that connects those cities in the west to the small towns in the east are a transcontinental railroad–not legions of highways like the ones that span from city-to-city, coast-to-coast in North America. Furthermore, the USA, by and and large, has much more hospitable climates. In other words, this was the most perfect, largest country I could explore by car.

GAS MONEY

Its my blueish (purple) 99 Ford Taurus!

At first I traveled as far as I could, then I ran out of money. I stopped in different places, a new town every week. It turned out that websites like craigslist found my skills very marketable. There were also always quick, small temporary jobs that could be picked up if the need arose. And so I taught private self defense lessons and generally worked a job or two until I got a couple bucks for gas and then I would leave for the next town. The next state. Always on the move.

FOOD

Still better than an MRE

I had MREs (military rations, or Meals Ready to Eat) but soon I ran out and had to humble myself by asking VA centers for help. They gave me a sort of Food Stamps card and I would use it to stock up on non-perishables on a monthly basis as I traveled. It was not charity in my eyes, but a temporary accommodation for my desire to travel after service to this nation.

Occasionally I would splurge and buy myself some hot food or coal to grill with.

HYGIENE

I brush after every meal because I want to set a good example for my adoring fans!

I would further humble myself by showering at shelters, though I never spent a night there. Mostly, I cleaned myself with wetnaps. Sometimes I payed the fees at truck stop shower areas. You have to understand, I did not think of myself as homeless. I thought of myself as Adventuring on the most spartan means possible (with videogames).

REST

I would often sleep with my car windows open…and a machete tucked safely within reach

I would sleep somewhat comfortably in my 1999 Ford Taurus, (I found all the ways to pile my cloths and sleeping bags up to make it as comfortable for my six foot four frame as possible.

I would park in Walmart parkinglots or at campgrounds. Walmart was especially helpful as they generally had a policy of being OK with travelers staying in their cars at night so long as you payed their grocery isles homage in the morning. Sometimes the car would need maintenance, and sometimes I had to stay in some places longer than normal in order to accommodate my stalwart metal steed. But it never failed me.

LAWS

Wakey wakey! Eggs and bakey.

I would, on occasion be woken by police (or as I called them, “Town Guards”) and I, as ever, would be polite and professional citing my experience with Military Police and if ever confronted with hostility would fall back on charm and common-ground. Evidently, most police officers have a sense of kinship with military (or ex military in my case) personnel. I would only ever have to move my car or sometimes (when caught speeding) get a ticket. Never any more trouble than that. They were, in fact, very supportive and kind.

FITNESS


Also helium

I would wake every morning with an exercise routine (PT) and with my private training classes get combat training (while teaching). I stayed in good shape, and kept my diet reasonable. I once even struck up a deal with a karate dojo (martial gym) owner to allow me to train prospective students in more militarized combat at his establishment (I other ways usually trained at a local park) and he would get 30% of my profits in fees. It was good for a while before I once again decided to move on.

COMPANY

Others were worse than most.

As in the popular movie Fight Club, I had many single-serving friends. People I would meet for a day or know for a week or even two. Others would become friends for a lifetime. Like I said I had cut off nearly all contact with family and friends elsewhere (as per my flight of fancy exploration and freedom quest). But between my students, some hitchhikers and the many interesting people that I met (and sometimes helped and was often helped by) in my travels, I was perfectly comfortable with my level of human interaction. I had met many wonderful people. I was a passing enigma to every person that I met. It felt GOOD.

ENTERTAINMENT


Its Go Go not Cry Cry

I would sleep during the night and be out around town during business hours. Public libraries would most often allow me to use their computers or read books on site or I would visit bookstores and occasionally pay homage there while using their wifi (I had a laptop). I also had handheld video games that were easy to charge in such environments. Depending on the city, I would sometimes be able to go to dance clubs (I brought with me my best dress attire) and within a few days of spending time around the scene, I would almost invariably be invited in free of charge. Nobody knew I had no home, I would simply tell people I was traveling (which was true). I would meet the club owners and strike conversations with strangers and people would come to know me. Usually by something like “The dancing Russian”. A handful of those clubs would offer me free drinks or even monetary compensation for my attendance because I was one of those people that was on the dance floor whether I was alone or not, and this, according to them “Motivated others to dance too” which meant more drinks sold and more people having a good time at their establishments. I was truly enjoying myself.

Each week it was a different place. A new world. Each state the same (American) but yet different ever so slightly in its customs.

Today’s adventure includes braving new roads, meeting people and surviving

I realize that for all my supposedly ‘spares’ amenities, I was heavily relied on the standards of first-world society in order to maintain my travels. But I felt invincible. I felt above the social caste. I went a new place every day while most of the people I met had never set foot outside their home state. I conquered mountains (there was plenty of out-doorsy kind of exploration too) where most people just wistfully dreamed of one day “maybe doing something”. I stood on the shoulders of society, yes. But I was apart from it at the same time. An outside observer. A tourist.

I was Aleksandr The GREAT!

I was liberated from the norm. I was free from fear. And the cost had not been so high as people feared. My car was my lifeline–the difference between an adventurer and a bum. And when, finally, a little over a year and every state except for Maine, Alaska (which I had been to previously) and Hawaii had been traveled in, I would be forced to settle. Except I didn’t. I stayed in one place for a bit, got an apartment and than just bought another used car and kept on moving. People complained about jobs and money everywhere I went. In some places it was truly worse than others. But it never, ever stopped me. I kept traveling. Sometimes with adventurous lovers or friends, sometimes alone.

Ultimately, the day came when I decided to return to one of my favorite states and there I sprung roots, reestablished contact with past relations and cashed in on more recent friendships. I started a business I can feel makes the world a little safer for other people. I built a place for myself in a society. And I am better experienced and feel more enlightened because of my sojourns.

Change is the only constant in this world, as my dearest friend often says. We must embrace every moment in order to not cheat ourselves of our existence. We all die eventually, the only question is how satisfied will you be when that happens? Fear only holds us back. Societal norms are made to support a static living, but inevitably lead to stagnation of the mind and spirit. I will, I am certain, continue my travels sooner or later (sooner). It will be good to have a home to come back to, but there is still so much more to see. So many other states and other countries to more thoroughly explore. I will never stop. I will continue to grow.

Want my advice?

Go out there and make some memories worth dying for.

Existentialism

Posted: August 22, 2012 in Life
Tags: , ,

The philosophy of thought that each individual is responsible for their own destiny;

That conflict and the exercise of free-will is essential to finding the truth of one’s personal existence;

That life-meaning is different for each individual;

That people are forged by their decisions and experiences in life;

That what is ‘good’ is an inherent choice;

That, through conflict, a sentient being either finds oneself or finds oneself lacking;

That Fear is a weakness that leads to anger leads to hate and is akin to a contagion;

That one-size-fits-all social and religious axioms are inherently flawed;

That nothing as broad as science or spirituality can answer all questions;

That discipline is vital;

That personal betterment is a constant goal;

That in order to find inner peace one must be prepared to let go of physical possessions, emotional attachments, and even spiritual ‘truths’- – the only constant is Change.

Woman

Posted: August 20, 2012 in Feminism
Tags: , , ,

What is a woman?

Have you observed the creature — watched it and studied it? More so than “how do I dupe this one into sleeping with me?”? You should. Because she has spent a great deal of time studying you. Learning the means and the ways to bend you to her will. Not out of maliciousness or wickedness. It is simply the course of woman to learn how to achieve her will in a male world. She is playing the game that you set in motion, and later you shall try to penalize her for playing it better than you.

From birth She has not only had to contend with the men and little boys that constitute 50% of the world’s population, but she has had to, on more than one occasion in her life, been forced to take on her sisters as adversaries. It is truly fascinating to witness how young a girl can be when she discovers just how easily the strings of others can be pulled. How easy it is to make us males dance.

Witness a little girl, 5 years of age, demonstrate all the cunning and ruthlessness of any CEO or President when it comes to filling her wants and needs, and then tell me that she does not further perfect that craft in the proceeding decades of her life.

That same little girl, by the way, will herself be betrayed by her sisters. She will know of Honor and Betrayal before you ever begin pretending to be a soldier. She will know of Love, and Heartache, and will learn all the knowledge and wisdom that comes from such pain, while you are still fearing cooties.

And once you reach adulthood, should you be as bright as you can be, you may finally accept her as your Equal. And if she is kind, and she has learned from her immense power and has chosen to take pity on you rather than satisfy her scorn, she will allow you to believe just that. But make no mistake — do not accept your delusion for reality simply because you wish it to be so — she knows more about Life now than you will catch glimpse of over the rest of your days.

She is not your equal, but your Better. She represents all that you may one day aspire to be — it is why you spend your days seeking her out.

But should you fail to learn this important fact as you move through life, worry not. She formulated a contingency for just such a situation before the blood even started flowing to your penis. For Woman’s true power is the illusion that her power originates between her legs. And all the while you are stacking the deck to get “lucky”, she is mind-fucking you six ways from Sunday until you have absolutely NO idea what’s up or down.

You know what’s kind of sad though? Deep down, she doesn’t really want to mind-fuck you. She doesn’t Want to toy with your mind and with your emotions. It’s that learning which ultimately separates a Woman from a Girl.

What does she want then? To be praised? Worshiped? To be recognized as having this immense power? To being superior to you? Not at all–not in my experience. She wants what you ultimately want — an Equal. Someone who will call her on her bullshit. Someone who is not so frail-minded and weak-willed as to fall prey to her simple manipulations.

She doesn’t want the one who “completes” her, in that bullshit Jerry McGuire way. She seeks the means to be complete unto herself, as she has always sought–as you should. To be an individual. To unlock that personal potential. But this isn’t to say that she wants to find that completeness in solitude. She yearns for that sliver of beauty amongst the horror — two people navigating the dark, finding their completeness together.

 

                         Clearly gay or trying to get laid

There’s no such thing, ammirite, fellas!? Women belong in the kitchen! If they are not they must be trying to prove something, right? Clearly they can’t make it as pretty adornments so they must be fat, ugly, or slutty. They sure as hell can’t effectively fight a man, or do a ‘man’s job’, or decide their own sexuality, or worship something other than a male god or resist their biological imperative to be baby factories or decide what to do with their bodies or not dress to seduce those helpless rapists or not be stoned/burned/buried/drowned/beaten/mutilated to death for any of the above infractions, RIGHT?

Okay okay, maybe I sounded off a little more than I should have. Maybe you don’t think so. But why in the hell would a guy give a shit about that stuff, anyway? After all, we are told in countless media and throughout our varied cultural upbringings that when brought before a woman, men are just mindless beasts and we can’t help but be crass, juvenile, knuckle-dragging, drooling lunatics who just wanna ‘get some’. Its certainly not possible for us to have a dialogue with a woman we find attractive and not simultaneously want to fuck her, RIGHT?

Thats what the world you have been living in has been pounding into your head (maybe not quite so bluntly). No matter where you are (and I’ve been around) varying degrees of sexism against women AND men are prevalent. From women being denied certain jobs (Women serving the military in combat roles!? Outrageous! Back to the offices with you!) To men being told juvenile and even violent behavior is justified because of their gender.

Okay but you’re not that kind of guy, right? You know you’re a decent sort. What do you care about feminism? Even if it really is about how cultures approach human rights as a whole, you don’t want anything to do with some matriarchy-loving crap! Besides, guys who claim to support feminists are…

JUST TRYING TO SCORE!
                             Yeeeeeeeah! Thats why I’m a ‘feminist’! Booyah!

Guys who listen to women. Men who pretend to frown when girls prattle on about women’s rights. Dudes who showcase their ‘feminism’ are just trying to get laid, right? It makes sense. Clearly in this age of minority empowerment, women would fawn all over guys that share their feminazi views.

Except that doesn’t make sense…at ALL. Unless you go around holding a “I need feminism because…” sign 24/7 how the hell would women know thats what you’re about? A t-shirt? Cool. Cool. Thats worth a shot. Or you could slip it into random (or every) conversation you ever have when within earshot of a nice ass, but if it were really that easy to get a random woman to start foaming at the mouth over a man-feminist, why the hell aren’t YOU doing it right now!? Go ahead! Go out on a college campus with a megaphone and start droning on about how you love ‘dem wominz rites!’ and just wait for the fanfare.

No?

Okay. So then is it something that you see mostly on the web? Then what kind of odd-ball world do you live in where someone can ‘get laid’ by ‘acting’ like a feminist online? What kind of secret prize do these men who ‘act’ like they give a shit get?

I don’t know, but when you figure it out, you be sure and get back to me, pronto because this ‘white knight’ is behind on some much deserved come-upins!

MEN THAT CARE ARE GAY

Only he could ever REALLY be a feminist!

Really, the only way that a dude could really give a shit about feminism is if he was a cross-dressing or closet homosexual. I mean, thats the only explanation! I mean sure, Mr. Dafoe there is about to shoot the shit out of some fucking mobsters and save the two straight white male heroes, but he is DEFINITELY going to give a blowjob to one of those gangsters first! For sure!
Also, according to my ‘extensive’ online research, being a man-feminist is almost certainly linked to being gay. That or being a slick pimp-daddy. But definitely not both!

Why, you may ask? Because these are the default insults to any guy who shows genuine (or other ways) interest in women’s rights. Why the hell should he care? Oh he either wants to get some or bend over and be a broad himself. Thats the only explanation, you guys!

As a matter of fact, feminism in general is for-sure-you-guys linked to being gay no matter what your sex. If a woman proclaims to be a feminist, she clearly is very ugly/butch/gay and hates men and most certainly wants to cut off your balls, dude!

At least, thats what the men making those posts seem convinced of. But don’t worry guys, its not just you who has your eyes open! Plenty of women will say they are all about equal rights but get super defensive if you try to suggest that she may indeed be a feminist.

Why? Because feminism = unattractive and we wouldn’t want ‘our’ women to be that, would we? No sir. So you better pretty yourself up and tell those gay, sugar-daddy men and ugly women feminists to shut the hell up!

Okay, so enough sarcasm.

/deep breath

I wrote this because for every pro-woman argument I have come across I have found a dozen whining about how both men AND women can be ‘terrible’. As if it is somehow necessary to point out that highly skewed and obvious fact, and that fact somehow invalidates the need for a female perspective.

It is the equivalent of a Nazi saying, “Hey remember that one guy who didn’t torture a lot of people? See! Nazis aren’t all bad!”

Godwin’s Law of Lolz: Sooner or later Nazis and Lolcats will be mentioned simultaneously

Obviously I – a dominant male – am not calling men Nazis. I am merely commenting on the fact that no women ever invented a Nazi party.
(for a loooooooooong list of what women DID invent look here)

But these “oppressed” man’s pride or ‘anti-misandry’ guys don’t just complain about the unfairness of women’s rights, or how they feel those rights emasculate them, do they? They also shame any man that disagrees with them using tactics I have covered above. Words from a leader in that pro-dude movement: Here.

Men complaining about women’s rights is the equivalent of a white guy complaining about the civil rights movement in the USA or a religious zealot displaying thinly veiled homophobia (its not really a phobia, is it Mike?) while hiding behind religious texts for justifications.

If women are to be considered a group of people, than in my humble opinion, and in a matter of numerical fact, all the racism, homophobia, and war causalities in the history of humanity do not compare to the atrocities that MEN have committed against WOMEN, all while protected by patriarchal social validations.

For anyone arguing that while, ‘yeah shit was bad a while ago but its all good now!’

Consider that a woman in South Africa will be raped every 26 Seconds.
Not convinced? How about the femicide happening in India and China:

“I am a feminist because women don’t have the most basic of human rights – the right to live safely, simply because they are female. By 2030, India will have systematically eliminated 20% of women from its population, annihilated both before and after birth — only because they are female. And China will have similarly eliminated 20% of its female population. Since these two countries together constitute 40% of the human population, the implication of this is global. This is a genocide – the systematic and deliberate destruction of a targeted human group—on a scale that’s historically unprecedented. Furthermore, there’s not one country in the world where women are not subjected to one or another form of violence, like rape, sex-trafficking, “domestic” violence, random femicides, lethal customs like FGM — because of their gender. Women live in fear of their safety and lives, inside and outside their homes, everywhere, all the time, in a way that men never have to. Yet, governments and international bodies don’t see this as a violation of the basic human rights of a group that constitutes one-half of the human race.” – Rita Banerji

Still not close enough to home for you?
That suggests that at least one woman that you know or will know will have been the victim of gender-specific violence.

Still don’t give a shit? How about slavery? Thats strike a cord? No? Fuck those guys? How about slavery of children? Not just in Russia. But in the first world. Good ol’ US of A.
RAINN (an anti-sexual assault organization) quotes the United States Department of Justice statistics that:
1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted before they reach adulthood.

I bring up this modern day slavery (human trafficking, they call it) because it is almost exclusively based around sexual exploitation of women and children–meaning it is a feminist issue.

WHAT THE HELL IS ‘FEMINISM’ ANYWAY?

According to my own humble opinion and experience with (believe it or not) other ways ‘normal’ women-who-are-also-feminists, Feminism is the idea that women and men are equal as human beings and recognize that modern-day patriarchal societies are detrimental to both sexes (that last part is why it is different from humanism).

Thats it. Thats all it is.

     No castrations required!

Now, maybe (and despite being a dominant male) I personally belong more in the drow-society matriarchal-take-over kind of camp, but that is certainly a minority and not what feminists at large represent–at all.

So why aren’t more people feminist?

Is it just because certain men are threatened by the idea of women accomplishing something worthwhile?
Is it women unwilling to be shamed and labeled as radical and therefore unattractive?
Is it dudes just afraid of being called gay?

I think its a large combination of all of that with a healthy does of (willful or not) ignorance and (definitely willful) apathy. People just don’t give a shit.

Well I do give a shit and I’m not ashamed to say:

I AM A FEMINIST.


I know you’re gay and all, but I bet I can TOTALLY fix that!

Okay, I was never a big Kevin Smith fan. I like Dagma. I dig the fem-god thing. Thats…about it.

Conversely, I liked Ben Affleck’s Daredevil. And it wasn’t anything to do with Jennifer Gardner who I can take or leave as an actress.
So thats out there now.
(just like, real quick before we get into this: I was never a Daredevil fan, which is probably why I didn’t have issue with it like fanboys of the comics did in the same way that I loooooooooathed everything to do with the three Spiderman films because I love Spidey comics–2012 reboot rocks!)

Back to the point: Certain people running in certain groups adore this film. These groups being:

A. Kevin Smith fans who love hockey AND potheads simultaneously (my father was a Sovet-era Olympic hockey-player and I lived in Amsterdam for a few months..but I really wouldn’t call myself a fan of either despite having many a-pothead friend. So thats all out there now too. Suck it!)

B. Indie Film buffs who just can’t get enough of low-budget bullshit. Seriously, the only reason someone should watch Clerks (in my humble opinion) is because they are an aspiring director and they need to do research on low-budget flims. Thats…really about it.
Btw: I fucking LOVE Hard Candy, and that shit had all of like four actors in it (little red riding hood and the wolf with additional cast being a coffeeshop guy who sold the wolf a coffeeshop t-shirt at the beginning and the wolf’s ex-girlfriend who arrived at the end, both of whom only got like one line) all while being filmed in the director’s own house. That movie is forever in my top ten not because it had a low budget and a skeleton crew cast, but because it was a fantastic fucking movie.
If you haven’t seen it, WATCH ‘HARD CANDY‘!

and
C. People who feel they are ultra liberal on the whole gay rights movement and really want other people to know it.

There is nothing I can or should do about group A. If you love everthing Kevin Smith, go to it but PLEASE don’t pretend like this film also relates in some way to group C. Group C and somewhat group B are the folks I want to talk to.

Upon starting this film I was cautiously optimistic. I recognized the faces and it seemed to be heading into a cool direction (finally, the fucking guy doesn’t get to sleep with the girl!)

Okay, pause. I need to address that. I am really. Like, REALLY tired of seeing the dude save every plot, every day. Its OKAY for a guy to be the hero. But for the hero to do ALL the saving while tugging a hapless actress along is just insulting to every sensibility I a Straight, Slavic, Male have. I just finished watching the casual action film ‘Lockout’. Guy Pearce’s character is amusing and the production quality is pretty damn solid, but its just another tired damsel in distress film. LITERALLY the whole point of the movie is to save some dipshit president’s daughter from a loony-bin of rapists. Its not like there aren’t dozens of opportunities for her to return the favor and actually do something competent. Instead she looks pretty and disheveled leaving it to the wise-cracking jackass hero-man to save her over…and over…and over again. That is both aggregating to watch and fucking sexist as hell. Its like Mario if Peach didn’t also have the ability to fly and summon hellfire (didn’t know that did you!?)
Sure there are a few exceptions, like (maybe?) in Wanted were Angelina Jolie is a badass (yet highly irrational) assassin. (have you read the comics? NOTHING like the movie…and thank gods. That comic was awful.) But I am not talking about just action titles here. If a film goes outside the boundaries of this Hollywood norm, like the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo films/books, it literally has to be the whole premise behind the film (All Hail the Mistress Salander, sovereign of the United Queendom of Sweden!).

But I was talking about a romantic comedy and though there is rarely any physical ‘saving’ in the genre, the guy getting the girl that is gay and should not be gotten but still getting her anyway is FUCKING ABSURD. Oh yeah, *spoilers*. This movie SUCKS!

So right back to it then (thanks for indulging me in that little side-rant).
Instead of say, exploring what it is like for a straight man to have a relationship with a gay woman (its just like having any relationship ever where your first thoughts shouldn’t be ‘man i’d hit that’) this movie explores how all a gay woman really need is a good hot dicking to set’em straight (Dr. Tran style!)

Okay, here are the details:

This movie is about a comic book artist who falls in love with a woman that he meets who also writes/draws comics and then finds out that all his wooing skills are for naught when he realizes that she is gay. Inexplicably, he acts weirded out, let down and generally emasculated by this discovery, all while insisting upon decidedly non-homophobic things while gently berating his offensive best friend. The woman, being a friendly sort, seeks out this butt-hurt little sack of testosterone and tries her damnedest to be friends with him and answer all of his asinine, school-yard boy questions about being a lesbian.

Since this movie encourages the myth that it is physically IMPOSSIBLE for straight guys to have a non-sexually tense relationship with a member of the opposite sex, our ‘hero’ (who is Ben Affleck, btw) confesses to his new gay friend that he loves her. She is understandably offended by this and tells him that one cannot simply stop being gay before walking out on his juvenile ass. Since she made it perfectly clear there could never be anything between them and he is just not capable of being a fucking adult, I found this scequence of events to be logical and silently smiled as she stormed out of his shitty car into the dramatically milky rain. At this point, any director making a movie about homosexual-straight relationships would have faded to black and then picked up a few days later where they reconciled as friends or NOT. Instead, this director (Kevin Smith, you guys!), isn’t worth a shit, so he has Ben Affleck leap from his car and chase her down where she promptly folds in his strong, masculine arms like the gentle origami dove that she is and they go back to his place and inexplicably FUCK.

The rest of the movie isn’t really important. Benny ends up losing both her and his buddy because his buddy ends up being totally gay for irresistible old Ben but they can’t work out how to have a polyamorous relationship like ADULTS and therefore both of them say ‘fuck you Ben’ and leave his sorry ass. Which isn’t the point. This is not a ‘ha-ha, the juvenile man-child that always gets what he wants didn’t get what he wants this time’. This is a ‘holy shit this is supposed to be an ending to a movie that tried to prove that lesbianism can be dropped at the simple introduction of dick’.

On top of every homophobic insult a man can make to both gay men and women being ‘vibrantly’ present in this film, it is BAFFLING that I found not a soul online who seemed to share my distaste for this cinematic boy-fantasy bullshit. Every feminist blog that I came across seemed to be praising this film as some kind of brave new step in talking about homosexuality in cinema. Everybody seemed to love it. And if they didn’t it was because they were “hatin’ on da gayz!”

I don’t know how anyone can come out of this movie with a sense of ‘wow that was really a step forward for gay rights and my personal understanding of that lifestyle!’ That is like walking out of Twilight and thinking ‘wow that was the next big step in showcasing the ability of women in a male-dominated world since En HeduAnna the first philosopher-that-was-also-a-woman’! (bet you didn’t know that, huh?)

Conversely I don’t know how you can walk out that film and say ‘man that sure was a cinematic achievement for indie flims!’ In other words when I finished feasting my eyes on that steaming pile of trash, I went in search of kindred souls who also loathed this disaster. Instead I found people politely praising this debacle. (yes I said debacle!)

In short, this film is not just a failure as decent entertainment, it somehow managed to showcase how totally oblivious people today are to glaring examples of skull-numbing bigotry.  These same people that called crass an action flick (Sucker Punch), because they failed to grasp that there was a certain cerebral element to the power of the mind retreating into a fictional world as a means of escaping the psychological ramifications of sexual assault. But thats a topic for another time.

Or you know what? No. We will talk about this now. For all the movie critics that hated Sucker Punch but loved Chasing Amy, and for all the feminists that loathed Sucker Punch but thought Chasing Amy was great, here ya go:

Sucker Punch looked to me in-trailers like a female perspective on Sin City, a movie and graphic novel series that I love. My only objection to Sin City was ever that it focused almost exclusively on the male protagonists while tackling female abuse (instead of having more fem-heroes). Sucker Punch dressed its actresses in skimpy anime dresses, gave them stripper nicknames and stuck them into an Alice the Madness Returns sort of fantasy land that they can escape to when being sexually brutalized by their caretakers in an insane asylum. That is the movie that those critics hate. They expected a feel-good action flick, instead they got an Inception level mindfuck about rape and they just couldn’t fucking make the transition (or handle it). And the feminists that hate that film just couldn’t wrap their heads around something that both mocked the male gaze and pandered to it at the same time.

First, the fantasy landscapes look amazing. Its like a Steampunk meets Tolkien DnD meets Anime meets Sci-Fi wet dream with each consecutive ‘dance’. The dance, obviously, is when they are being raped in the asylum. Apparently (apparently to me, anyway), this was ‘Baby Doll’s’ way of keeping the heat off the other girls, meaning she was attracting all the rapists’ attention, meaning she was being abused triple as much. Its unclear how much of what they did actually lead to the escape of “Sweet Pea”, what is clear is that this dream within a dream within a dream delusion/escape fantasy is not pedantic and therefore is easy to misunderstand for people who go in with low expectations.

Anyway, Sucker Punch in my opinion mocks the male gaze while being as feminist as any action-based (cerebral or not) movie has ever been. Whereas Chasing Amy is a ‘romantic comedy’ hate fest that enforces the myth that  1. Lesbians just need a good dicking to turn them straight again. and 2. Men are incapable of loving a woman without wanting to fuck her.


Zombies you say? Eeeeeeeeexcellent!

So….Okay. First post…about…video games?

I guess so.

Huh.

Oh well. I’m going to have to give the random fiction musings its own section.

Moving right into it!

Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City…people complain about it. Gaming sites have given it low scores. Me? I LIKE it.
I enjoyed the Resident Evil games. I played up through RE3. This one…was never meant to be a continuation but rather a look back to the events of the second Resident Evil through a fresh perspective. That fresh perspective through the eyes of a group of Umbrella strike team sociopaths. (Huzzah!)

People seemed excited about this prospect at first. And then they got angry. Apparently when they heard ‘fresh perspective’ they thought ‘exactly like the other games’ and therefore were disappointed. (aww!)

That is like the equivalent of Pokemon fans getting to play as Team Rocket (the antagonists) and then complaining about how un-Pokemon it is because the game is in first person view and not the aerial view they love so much. Now before I get stoned at the Raccoon City square for somehow managing to loosely link those two widely different genera together, please allow me to attempt to sneak back to the point that I expertly lost a handful of fragmented sentences ago.

First, and let me be clear; the game is not without its faults.

For one, I take issue with the targeting. Even with a fully upgraded “Assault” class, one perk of which is increased accuracy, the reticle still flails madly. Even the lazar-guided pistol weaves like our expert agents are shaking a soda can in the off hand.

Next, when your teammate gets infected and becomes a zombie (oh no!) you you must then euthanize them…and promptly revive them again.
Who knew it was that simple to get rid of the dreaded T-virus!?

I have to admit; thats pretty lame. It completely ruins any fear of infection.
In my opinion the game should punish you severely for losing a teammate in this fashion. Maybe if they just got shot and got down on a knee and you revived them — OK. But full on zombie-attacking-you and all you have to do is stomp on their head and hold a button for a few seconds to bring them back seems like a highly anti-climatic conclusion to the dreaded undead plague. Unless they casually failed to mention that Umbrella’s soldiers come equipped with the secret of resurrection, this breaks up the immersive(ness?) of the gameplay substantially.

But really, aside from the objection of weapons accuracy that every shooters suffers from to one degree or anther, that is LITERALLY my only major gripe with the gameplay.

Ah yes, the gameplay. Now we can get to why other people take issue with this game.

They don’t seem to like that its a squad based, third person shooter bereft of the tension that our usually lone Resident Evil impromptu heroes subject us to.

These critics seem blind to the empowering perspective this ‘Delta Team’ of hardened killers is supposed to impart to the player. I don’t think this is the game’s fault so much as it is some sanitary objection to change in this offshot of their usual horror genera.

All these critics stand united in a puritan grievance against a game that is SUPPOSED to do something different. They hold hands and congratulate each other on how well they can rip down something out of the norm.

Well done!

Asshats.

It would not bother me if they simply said ‘hey look! I don’t like how this squad based game operates!’ Ok. Fine. There are better squad based games out there. For one, this game doesn’t allow you to order your computer-controlled team around. AT ALL. That would be a genuine issue (one that I am fine with given that I never had an objection with the actions of the AI.  ((and I only ever played it on Professional (((the hardest difficulty))) yet I had no issues with this ‘problem’ they keep bitching about)). Instead these fanboys moan about how not-suspensful the playstyle is.

Well YEAH! This is not a lone police officer with five bullets sneaking around an office building solving puzzels while giant monsters that take a shotgun to kill crawl outside the nearby window. That game is Great!

But that is not this game. Nor should it be!

This game is more like Left 4 Dead meets FEAR set in the beloved RE franchise. It is reminiscent of Left 4 Dead in the playstyle but with a wider selection of weapons and unlockable customizable character specific traits, and FEAR in that ‘I just plowed through an army of super soldiers and now I’m scared of that creepy little girl stalking me in the dark who is immune to my bullets’. Except they replace Alma (creepy little girl who breaks up the super powered vibe of FEAR with some Fear) with Resident Evil zombies, infamous monsters and beloved characters. (wow that was long winded. Oh well. Deal with it.)

Next they complain about how its ‘too hard’. And how even though the game isn’t punishing enough in certain areas (like the zombie teammate thing–and I agree on that), but according to them, its TOO punishing on others…like general combat. They say it becomes too overwhelming and some bosses and soldiers you have to fight through are just too damn tough. Well boo-fucking hoo! I don’t remember RE2 being a breeze. This game, though not the same creepy crawl as the originals–more fast-paced–is still Resident bloody Evil at the end of the day. I had to die quite a few times playing on the toughest difficulty, but guess what? I made it. And not with any heaving breath either. It got frustrating here and there, sure, but  mostly because I was searching every nook and cranny for cameras and data pads in order to score extra experience points in-between getting bulldozed by Mr. X.  How exactly can these purist gamers claim the game is not suspenseful enough while simultaneously bitch about it being too hard?

Okay look, I’m not some wanna be MLG flaunting his shit. I get how a ‘horror’ game can be suspenseful and a ‘shooter’ can be frustrating yet just as rewarding. So…what the hell is the problem? Hone some fucking reaction time.

Also, I really enjoyed the multiplayer.. The only complaint I heard there was that you couldn’t get the player that you wanted. Okay, yeah. You just have to jump to it and then select which character you want. This, obviously, encourages the player to level and experiment with the other classes. What alternative is there? Everyone playing as Lupa/DeeAy? What kind of shit game would that be? Plenty of other multiplayer games take the power away from you as an individual (like voting on a map in Halo Reach). You don’t always get what you want. Its part of growing the hell up. Deal!

Next, they complain about the characters themselves. They claim to ‘love’ the cameos from the usual cast, but find the super psycho umbrella strike team ‘bland’ and ’empty’.

Personally, I find the strike team refreshing. You make of these characters what you will. I found them instantly personable. Lupa is a wicked leader who while still a cold-blooded killer actually cares about the well-being of her team. Bertha is a sadistic doctor and something-something pain killers. Four Eyes is a sweet looking scientist who utterly lacks empathy and loves fucking with genetic codes and viral strands…for fun. Vector is kind of dick but badass as an assassin. Beltway is the classic big bruiser-blow ’em up guy who has a at least one prosthetic limb. And Specter is some ex-KGB creep who I never played with.

Also, they are nicely rounded character selections. Whether playing as the evil USS or comparatively goodly Spec Ops the character selection is evenly split with interesting female and male characters each. I approve of that, for certain!

These aren’t the empty Bethesda characters of Fallout or Elder Scrolls that you just ‘fill in’ with whatever you want to imagine but actually have no personality in-game (perfect for what they are). These are lightly fleshed out ideas that you have no real control over. You never get to know them. But you get to share their experience while in the badass setting of Raccoon City!

These characters did not NEED to have a backstory spelled out for me in order for me to care for their psycho lives. They were badass. Evil. And compelling in all the ways that decent bad guys are–not needlessly cheesy (unlike the heroes).

If these people (critics) really miss RE2 so much, maybe they should just go play that. The gameplay in RE: ORC has flaws, and the story is simplistic to the extreme, but it shines in its remake of the atmosphere — an atmosphere that you are usually terrified of suddenly becomes a joyful playground that you dominate: take THAT zombies-who-I-was-afraid-of! Whats more, they revisit all the best parts of that timeline and do it well to the point where I feel bloody sorry for the Leons and Claires who had to crawl through those levels with limited ammo and ALONE.

In other words, everything that makes RE ORC different is that it empowers people who have likely already experienced the thrill of the horror fest and gives them some bloody-good-time-VENGEANCE!

 

Addendum: I realized I left out one more valid concern about this game: Its lack of local multiplayer. Unfortunately, despite its many strengths, this game tries to screw you out of mulitplayer with your friends (unless they too chip in to buy a disk..and bring their own console). Only online multiplayer, in other words. Sadness!