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WordPress has been unusable for a while now.

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Off days.

I have a bunch of work that needs to get out and painted and drawn, but my head (well, mostly sinuses) and my hands aren’t cooperating.  Thought it might be time for a sort of statement again.  “Sort of” because I’m shit at them, but also I don’t feel the need to define anything through it, nothing I’m doing now.  Just some conclusions I’ve drawn lately and where I think I sit in them.

I’m fortunate enough to be able to make art even though I’m not anything close to successful.  Not financially, anway.  But that part has never been a huge thing.  Although I wouldn’t at all mind wealth, fame isn’t a thing I’m after at all.  I just want to get to the heart of what I do, to make things that have an impact of some kind, regardless of whether it’s a big impact or just something that inspires a few people.

But that’s not entirely true either.  I’d still be content just to go farther, to become as good at this art thing as one can get.  I want to make something sublime.  I suppose you could say what I’m chasing is spiritual, whether or not it ever gets acknowledged in a way that returns something to me.  That’s sort of a quintessential artist stereotype, but that’s one of the few things that motivates me.  To that end, I don’t think it’s really possible- at least at this juncture- to do this for any other reason.

Eventually I’m sure it will come down to that.  Either time or money, or likely both, will eat away at my freedom to just make art.  I’m aware I’m the worst at self-promotion.  I do well to maintain a website and an open workspace- the bar, sitting outside drawing, and so forth.  I’m bad at the social media aspect of it, I loathe the whole “branding” thing.  It’s gross, and even as I look for day jobs in that realm I more and more want to seperate my personal work from that.  So at some point, that’s a thing I’d like to have assistance with.  Hopefully, hopefully, that’s something I’ll catch a break on sometime.

Meanwhile, I’ll just keep working until I can’t anymore.  I just want that to be enough.

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Still alive.

I’ve been directing energy elsewhere.  I’m not apologizing.

Got some good painting done as well as a bunch of mediocre-to-bad painting done also.  That’s how it goes, I think.  I found out today I’ll have a booth in Lexington for something Chad’s putting together on May 8th, so that’s a thing.

Got an interview with the pizza place down the street.  First one went peachy.  The second seemed to be fine, but shortly after the standard corporate questions (what are your 3 best qualities? etc.) the guy abruptly said I wasn’t what they were looking for.  I guess someone with experience and interested in making pizza and available for any hours isn’t?  Seriously?  IT’S NOT FUCKING ROCKET SCIENCE.  Frankly, if future interviews go down that path I’ll just end them myself.  I’m smart, educated, responsible, and I don’t do bullshit.  Those are my best qualities.  Suck it, Trebek.

We switched my panic meds to Xanax, so that’s been a month of being asleep even while I’m awake.

That pretty much covers the last couple of months, and I’m sure it’ll suffice for a couple more.

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Wow, second interview in…forever.

The last panicked batch of resumes I sent got two responses, both from marketing companies.  I ignored them initially: two separate companies, both “with new offices in Cincinnati”, that each sent emails with “sorry we contacted you and no one answered” half an hour before they actually called.  That’s a little.. weird.  But hey, maybe that’s a new corporate trend or something?

They both called again, and one actually left a voicemail.  So I called them back and we set up an interview.  Here’s how that shitshow went down.

The girl I talked to told me to look up their site and be familiar with the company and the position.  It’s here, but I’ll save you the trouble and tell you that what little is there is generic corporatespeak- nothing specific, no actual listed positions, no client listings.  I left for the interview feeling unprepared.  I barely caught the bus on time; the route is almost 3 dollar’s fare and an hour long trip each way, so when the driver had to detour three times to get around railroad work (on what should’ve been a one-road, straight shot to the place) I called and said I might have to reschedule.

I got there on time thanks to the driver being a badass lady, but I was even more out of sorts when I went in.  The office building looked like reformatted apartments, and the office itself was pretty close to broom closet-size.  I met with a “Terrance”, who was nice.  He explained the site was intentionally vague “in case our client went under, we’d likely go under as well”, which is a nice sidestep.  But wouldn’t that happen whether they were listed on your site or not?  The interview went fine otherwise; he told me they do non-traditional marketing: demo events at product-appropriate locations (which, historically, is about as traditional as it gets, but whatever).  He explained they were looking for entry level people to train into supervisors (in a month’s time) and later move to managers and take over their own branch.

That’s where it really didn’t add up.  From what was explained to me, this is a SanFransisco-based company’s new Cinci office, with no others specifically listed.  Agressively expanding, opening branches in “New York, Texas, Florida” within the year.

They have one client account with a single product.

That seemed a little rash to me, but again- I’ve seen companies do weird shit before, and I have zero experience with marketing companies, so maybe that’s normal.  Either way, I didn’t expect a call back.  I got one, later than I was told.  They wanted me to interview with their training manager the next day, at 9:00 AM.  So.. yeah.  Fun.  I understand that most of the world operates on banker’s hours, but still.  I’m not a morning person anyway, and it takes me a while to establish an early routine.  I did the whole thing all over again, exhausted and short on my usual pot of coffee, and here’s where it went downhill.

One adjascent room in the office had super-loud dubstep happening.  Terrance and a couple other guys were back and forth between there and the interview room, and my first thought was “how much coke did you all do?”.  Me and some miserable looking guy were sitting in the main room with the secretary for 20 minutes or so, and I was called in to talk to “Kevin” (or something with a ‘K’).  He told me again what they were looking to do with the candidates.  He asked a couple of questions.  He showed me a brochure with the usual corporate training BS; five whatevers that every employee should abide, some nonsense sales philosophy, whatever.  He literally turned the pages, pointed at those things and told me what they were, and kept flipping.  He showed me the “employee focus” section, you know, with “Bob and Sally who started where you are and now make 500k a year”.  He asked how I felt about relocating.  At this point, my bullshit needle was firmly in the red.  After about 10 minutes, he sent me back out to fill out a questionaire.

I was sitting on an absurdly low couch, staring at a sheet of questions that would have required me to have a photographic memory of that brochure to answer.  The secretary had shitty pop radio competing with the dubstep room (still going, btw), which also had acquired a few people who were yelling some sort of vocal sales excercise.  I stared at the page for a few minutes, handed it to the girl, and told her I didn’t think it would be a good fit.  I left and went to the Wendy’s nearby, had a nice chat with the staff while they made coffee, and decided that seemed like a much better place to work.

I’m not 100% sure the thing was a scam, but am 100% sure that none of that was anything I wanted to do.  Frankly, if I ever get a day job that gives me 500k a year, rest assured I wouldn’t be doing that job for any longer than it would take to save for a few years of freelancing again.

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Slow times update.

That got away from me a bit.  I spent a week and half at the folks’ for Christmas and got to see Katie, which was nice.  Did a party thing but missed out on NYE plans because everyone came down with the flu.  I did get the 5th edition D&D books, and if I ever find a group to play with I think it’ll be my favorite iteration.  I’ll post on it sometime.

This month has been the usual Jan/Feb garbage: unpleasantly cold and gloomy, extra awesome for depression.  I got sick for nearly a week but fought off a sinus infection, although I’m still not 100%.

Job applying became a slog; half of what I run across require signing up with some shitty online application service- and everyone has their own- completely negating the whole point of a resume anyhow.  The worst was a restaurant looking for 7 or 8 different positions, but only let me apply for one.  Look, no one aspires to work at a fucking chain sports bar, so expecting anyone not to apply for any qualified job is stupid.  I can do prep work or line cooking or wash the fucking dishes, and any of those sound equally appealing.

So instead of just uploading a resume, they literally had me sign up to yet another fucking site to fill out an application in the slowest, most painful way possible.  It took half an hour.  THEN I was directed to ANOTHER site to do some sort of “kitchen assessment”, which I was informed would take “45 minutes to an hour”.  I’ve since gotten a dozen email reminders to finish it.  I’m close to calling the company.

You know what?  I understand there are always hoops to jump though, and I expect that even more when it’s a corporate chain.  But I have a bachelor’s degree, experience working in a restaurant, and a solid list of references.  If I’m going to do any of that bullshit it’s going to be after you’ve hired me and I’m sitting through a bunch of goddamn training videos, because I’ll be getting paid for my time.

I guess that was a bit ranty, but it’s been a slow month.

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Goodbye old venue.

Busters couldn’t afford to keep their liquor license, and they’re closing.  I’m not too torn about it; I don’t live there anymore.  Aside from a handful of shows I went to in the last few years, it really wasn’t my kind of place.

But it was one of my favorite places to play.  I think I did maybe a half-dozen shows there?  Besides the first few Halloweezers, I think we played a few Welcome Strangers shows there.  The stage was huge, which was rare in Lexington.  At least when I played there, the sound was good- pro equipment, experienced sound guys.  An actual backstage so you could stash gear without worrying about it disappearing.

The old Dame was always my favorite place to see shows, but the stage was cattycornered.  One of the last JCX shows we did around Christmas, and the heat vent was directly above the corner where the drums fit.  The heat just poured out right on top of me, and I nearly passed out by the end of the show (if I recall, I think we cut the last song).  Plus the whole smoking ban debacle, when our decent-sized crowd was outside most of the night because the ban started the same date, and left them with a impression that didn’t get us many more shows there.  But the bar staff was excellent, which is not something you could say about Busters.

As nice as it was to play at that place, there was a lot of internal mismanagement.  As a customer, Buster’s bartenders were inattentive and rude at best; at worst they overcharged for drinks, treated people like shit, added extra drinks and charged tips on the bill.  The booking was a mess.  From the people I knew working there, it wasn’t so much if it would fail, but when.  On the whole that doesn’t make it much worse than most of the other bars around, but considering it was the only place sized to draw big names, it makes it painful to see it go under.  I’m sure if it doesn’t get bought and reopened within six months something else will come along, but it’s disheartening to see one more in a string of venues with so much going for it run itself into the ground.

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Super quick Cleveland thought.

Since people are angry and looking for targets, the boy shot in Cleveland by cops is coming up a bunch.

I’m generally as far from giving cops the benefit of the doubt in most situations, but seriously? I grew up with gun safety, which I know isn’t universal, but also common sense, which should be. I knew better than to point fake guns at people and scare them, and that’s a thing that every child should know- particularly by age 12. When someone points something that looks like a gun at you, you don’t really want to guess if it’s real or fake. That’s not a luxury you have.

No doubt there’s plenty of blame to go around, but a child pointing a fake gun at people- especially one that looks real- shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

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The new Fantastic Four will feature “Doctor Doom” as the villain.  As in an angry blogger whose handle is Doom, rather than the actual metal-encased ruler of Latervia.

Congrats on making your reboot somehow worse than your previous FF venture, Fox.  I can’t even be outraged, really.  I honestly don’t remember whether or not I saw the first movie; if I did, it made less of an impact than any other film I’ve seen in the last decade.  I did go to see the second one because my friend bought the ticket, but sadly (well, I wasn’t really enthused to be honest), the projector/projectionist/poorly managed theater couldn’t make the film work two minutes past the previews, so I missed out on that as well.

I’m not too invested either way.  I like the FF, but mostly in the Kirby era comics.  In the eighties, before trades were a thing, Marvel made some collections (by year, IIRC) of their gold/silver/bronze age titles.  I have a great memory of being 8 and choosing to read library copies of the first few years of FF instead of watching cartoons one Saturday- for that age and time, that was a big fucking deal.  And of all the comics I’ve followed since, I’ve never really cared much for the more recent storylines of Richards et.al.; they seemed to fit well in the silver age universe.  Beyond that that didn’t age well by comparison.  In a universe with multitudes of superheroes and mutants and cosmic powers, being a space-accident dysfunctional family with a shiny flying car and a tower seems quaint by comparison.  And if your tiny European nation doesn’t register on google earth, is it really even there?  And why the fuck haven’t the Latervians ever revolted against their leader for spending all his time making evil plans instead of running his own damned country?

Mostly I’m just amused that Doom will be reimagined as last month’s news topic.  If we’re going contemporary the story might need a little upheaval, but it certainly deserves more thought.  What will Angry Blogger Von Doom do to cement his place in the hall of bad guys?  Force toddlers into beauty pageants? Will he spread Ebola?  Perhaps he’ll unite the anti-vaxxers and the MRAs into an army of stupid.  Maybe an armed assault on the Canadian Parliament.  Only time and really bad executive decisions will tell.

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Okay internet.

I’m not linking anything, just google “Lena Dunham sister” and you can find all the relevant stuff.  Long story short, Lena Dunham wrote some memoirs (which…okay. younger than me, whatever.), and wrote about some weird, self-described sexually abusive behavior involving her sister.  The internet-at-large got involved and shared opinions.

The results?  Lots of angry accusations and side-taking, and a whole lot of “we have opinions and they must be heard!” going on.  Look, kids do weird shit.  I read the passage.  She’s writing about events that happened when she was 7 from the perspective of an adult whose work is largely based around sexuality.

She was 7.  Seven.

She was 7, and now the internet is all torches and pitchforks over some typical child exploratory shit?  When I was 7 I didn’t have any idea what sex was.  But goddamn I knew I liked pictures of naked people in art books.  Maybe that’s not shit you need to put in your memoir.  But then, maybe anyone under 50 doesn’t need to write memoirs.

Frankly, I’m more disturbed about people who feel the need to respond to any of this beyond “well, that’s weird and I’m uncomfortable reading this book”.

edit:  Extra thought on this- a couple of twitter discussions about this wound up as “I don’t think we need to skewer this woman for pedophilia, but we totally should for her poor taste and using this to sensationalize her book”.  If you’re getting up in arms over this particular incident of ‘poor story choice in an autobiography’, you need to fucking read more autobiographies and then realize that this is the internet outrage of the day.

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Holy fuckballs. I thought I hated the people who like sunshine.

I was tired of the whole thing last month, but since the gamergate bullshit has become a raging, untreated bout of syphilis that won’t die, here we go again.

I’m not a joiner. I’m smart enough to form my own opinions. I find groupthink abhorrent. I don’t need my views echoed to feel validated. Above all, being outside of any group allows me to associate with factions and ideals as I choose while not being beholden to one or another; it allows for continuous objectivity. This is considered bad in politics, but that’s just fame for ugly people anyway.

So while I avidly play both tabletop and video games, I’ve never felt like a gamer. And while I share most of the principles of feminism, I wouldn’t call myself a feminist either. As it stands now, at least in the communities of the online world, this is a very “pick your side” kind of fight.

The sheer volume of bullshit being shoveled around by the #gamergate tag (and right off the bat, that word is so devoid of any connection to serious scandal, but goddamn are they trying) should offend most people.  A fairly small group of fringe assholes latched onto a letter full of (later disproven) claims that the writer’s ex, a developer, had had an affair with a game reviewer.  And as inconsequential as that letter should have been, those assholes used it to build a virtual army- first blowing it up, and then using the confusion about why it was anything to further widen their umbrella.  Here’s a quick breakdown of the major players:

-MRAs: the modern version of the he-man-women-haters-club, but with sad adults.  Lump the pick-up artist bunch in with these.

-4chan/8chan/twitter trolls: just in it for the lulz, but willing to go the extra mile to share people’s private information.  Also a lot of these are unsupervised 14 year olds.

-“gamers”: not a fiction, but this is what I’m calling all of the people who sincerely bought into the “this is about ethics in journalism“.  Guys.  Even real journalism is 90% paid b.s., and we’re talking about motherfucking video games. 

– Everyone else who either has no idea what any of this is actually about and maybe think Jack Thompson has resurfaced, or that ISIS is somehow targeting people who play video games, or that this has something to do with ebola.  The ones thinking that gamers are in danger, or games themselves are in danger.  Slow to the party and often uninformed/misinformed.

The thing that really binds these groups together, like the rings of Sauron, are insecurity and fear that something fundamental about their identity is threatened.  Most are willing to deny any accusation that they aren’t comfortable with.



The end result is that amidst the flags being waved, the most aggressive and vehement pushers of #gamergate are attacking women in the game industry through harassment, doxxing, and libel and spouting a lot of gender hate in general.  And everyone using that tag is either culpable or ignorant.  At this juncture, ignorance is less an excuse than willfully disbelieving the truth.  This all seems completely silly to most people, especially since the mainstream media (3 months late and in-between ebola updates), has now convinced your grandmother that evil is coming for the children.  On some level, this is fucking absurd.  In the broad context of current events, this is farcical.  And then people start getting death threats, and people in the industry are growing legitimately afraid, and those are real problems.

1.  Death threats, etc. aren’t an appropriate response.  And yes, this shit happens often because this is the internet and most of it is stupid people being stupid.  But now that the scope has widened beyond the gaming community, the chance of some nutjob with an agenda harming any of these people has ramped the fuck up.  See Elliot Rodger.

2.  When women who aren’t even gamers feel threatened by #gamergate, it’s past time to retire the pretense of “it’s about journalistic ethics”.  Because who the fuck cares.  This is no longer about games, this is about a culture of assholes and misogynists in waking life.  Now we are aware that these people exist, and we should know who they are because it sucks to give merit to someone who turns out to be a waste of space.

3.  If you think there’s a problem with journalism in games, go research the history of game journalism (TL;DR- it’s always been advertising).  Don’t lash out at the people who are analyzing and responding to games, particularly for having a POV because..

4.  Games are art, and art is broad.  There’s Art, revered and copied and put on pedastals for being original and amazing.  There’s commercial art, to make your living room decor match.  There’s art in advertising, all fluff and no substance but with the sole intention of parting you from your money.  There’s porn, which is even officially loosely defined as art by SCOTUS.  There are comics and performances and graffiti that all fall under the umbrella of art.  And just like art, we need games that inspire and make us think and unearth a deeper connection with ourselves and the world.  And we also sometimes need to throw grenades at cops and run over hookers and laugh about the fan service of whatever Square gives us next.  But most importantly, we need to understand how and why this is, so that games can become better and more than they are.  So that we can learn to appreciate the simple elegance of a game like Gone Home without writing “fag” on a message board somewhere.

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