Category: Non-fiction

Why I will NEVER write a “strong” female character!

     When it comes to writing, it’s all about characters. The plot is second fiddle and there is nothing interesting about a plot if uninteresting characters are involved in it. Extraordinary things should have to extraordinary people, even if the extraordinary person is simply a fisherman, who is unaware that a sea curse is about to wreck his enterprise and he will forced to fight the forces of evil. You and I face adversity every day, but we don’t fight off 10,000 year old mummies on a monthly basis and we sure as hell don’t have aliens take us aboard their starship and take us across the universe to fight off giant monsters with laser swords. Part of the appeal of these character is routed in the basic Hero’s Journey structure that has been popular throughout most of human history. Why? It could be the desire for extraordinary things happening to us, maybe because it’s a great analogy for human growth or maybe just because normal people becoming larger than life heroes is intriguing.

     So, what makes a character iconic? Well, it was a simple formula, everyone would be doing it and everything would be a New York Times Bestseller. There are ideas to make a character compelling, but that doesn’t make your character Han Solo or Darth Vader.

     So, how does a character have a fighting chance of being interesting? Well, you make them relatable. How is that accomplished? You design a character you would like to see. Maybe they’re five foot tall, red headed with green eyes and starting to show signs of age at only 22. That’s a start, so what do they do? They’re a kindergarten teacher, which seems dull enough to make this a real person, few stories would need an armorer who creates mithril from dragon scales. What’s missing? Besides the omission of skin color, sexuality and it’s a flaw and that’s one of my main criticisms with writing today.

     What is a flaw? Well, few people are perfect and odds are there is something that will make them relatable even more. Maybe a speech impairment, being hard of hearing in one ear, a fidget habit, copious use of alcohol or even being a nympho or satyr.

     What isn’t a flaw? Being black, white, yellow, green, blue, grey or red. Also, being a woman, man, gay or trans. Yet, modern writing forcing these down our throats in an attempt to be “diverse” are really making matters worse for all and bastardizing the craft of writing in general for the sake of pushing an agenda.

     When you create a character for the sake of this so called “diversity”, you’re not an ally, you’re a cunt! In an attempt to be a hero to the minority, you’re actually making a subconscious connection to a person that this 6’2, 200 pound, football player has no relatable traits and his flaw is basically the fact he is gay. I’m 99% sure, that isn’t the goal of a lot of these writers. Think of Rey in Star Wars, the only “flaw” she has is being a female, something I don’t think the writers intended, unless they’re like most of the liberal dumbshits, who are secretly racist, homophobic or misogynistic, which will usually be found out the second they’re drunk and it hits social media.

     The people complaining aren’t misogynistic either, just because they do not like Rey or similar either. I mean, how many people spent the last 20 or so years bitching about Anakin Skywalker for the same reasons they hate Rey?

     All writing is, is directing. You’re putting the camera, through prose, into a readers head. As such, you lead the perceptive. In this case, all writing is propaganda and true, from a certain point of view. Do you really want them to have the perspective that a character is unrelateable, because not all of us can understand being gay? Unlike the X-Men, where each “power” was unique and had the benefit of being of broad appeal, because it was analogous with coming of age and the awkward teenage years, something most people of any age, race, sex or gender could relate to.

     Besides giving your character an accidental flaw, the other thing that skin color, sex, or sexuality have in common and should be omitted? They are almost always not important to the plot and slow it down it. So unless you’re writing philosophical lit, which deals with human plights, you’re not doing the reader any favors. You’re probably not going to be too sellable, either!

     When I write, I notice I don’t waste time with the above, unless it is important and even then, it can be expressed in a plethora of ways, from speech to name and beyond. Why? Because no one wakes up, looks in the mirror and goes, “My god, I’m still 5’11 and white!” Even if you’re writing from the third person, god perspective, you don’t really need to mention skin color or any other minutia.

     This brings me to my title, which is, I will never write a strong female character. Mostly because strong is subjective and because I just want to write excellent characters of all kinds. I think back to Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson when I was a teenager and think to myself, they didn’t want to assign this to the boys, thinking we would find the protagonist unrelatable and have trouble with it. Every boy in that class said, fuck that, we want to read it and read it we did. Not a single young man hated the book, it was beloved, with one exception, and the females in the class didn’t seem to care for it. Which is ironic, because it’s about a young girl who was raped and went through all seven stages of grief in getting her closure in bring her rapist to justice. Is this character less strong, because a bunch of nerds can’t jack off to her like they could Ellen Ripley? I don’t think so, not any more so than a Nancy Thomson vs a Freddy Kruger.

     In the end, what we need is better developed characters and not wooden, cliché or agenda pushing characters, because all the iconic characters of the past didn’t become the iconoclastic role models they did because they’re flat, they were relatable and that, when I was young, was considered a positive thing. The ability to place yourself in the shoes of another individual and understand their plight for yourself, regards of race, gender or sex. The fact the country has strayed so far from that ideology, in exchange for frivolity. Maybe it is time we started seeing those who can only identify with the superficial as dangerous and it’s definitely high time we started putting our crafts ahead of our agendas again, regardless of your political affiliation.


Ghostbusters and subtext

Ghostbusters: A Movie About Nothing (video essay) <—Click to see video this is a reply to!

     Is Ghostbusters really about “nothing”? In other words, does it lack subtext which ultimately makes it about more than three academic outcast busting ghost? I think there is an answer and it’s quite simple, it’s also why the original film seems to resonate more with Millennial men than older generations.

     The movie introduces us to three men, all of whom work at the same University investing a ghost sighting at the NYC library. Each one has a different personality and all three work well for the story being told. Peter is the outgoing, sarcastic, skeptical one. Egon is the straight-laced, somber scientist with a bias towards the paranormal. Ray is the giant man-child, with a clear bias in the supernatural, evidence by his bursting into Peter’s office, like a kid at Christmas over a ghost sighting.

     There is where the beginning of the subtext start to take hold, which is subtle, yet there and I think misunderstood as being less of a character flaw than something like, believing in ghost for instance.

     Ray is the man who is afraid to grow and face the real world. It may not seem it, but it’s ever present throughout the movie, instead of in your face. It is called subtext after and subtext isn’t an IPA.

     The next exchange we see regarding Ray’s fear of adulthood is a conversation with Peter over being kicked out of the university. “You never worked in the private sector before, I have, they expect results.” Cements his fear of going back into the “adult” world, that he was a part of and didn’t really fare too well. Following the heels of this scene we get the exchange “I grew up in that home, you didn’t even bargain with the guy!” once again the language leads us to believe that he is fearful of growing up.

     I notice that most millennial men who enjoy this movie are often much like Ray. They have toy collections, they’re very much the embodiment of the Peter Pan complex.

     Back to the movie, we’re developing the theme of Ray’s childhood fear, authority is the antagonist, more so than Gozer. This is a very child mentality were a US vs Them against authority comes into play. Walter Peck might be dick less, but he has a job to do and is an adult voice of reason. The mayor is a voice of reason, the university is the voice of reason.

     Peter is clearly not a man-child, just kind of lazy. He does all the active work in the Ghostbusters movie, a sign of lack of maturity is passivity. Ray and Egon have no interpersonal skills and it shows, since Peter is the “father” figure of the group and a horrible one at that. Egon might be just an awkward introvert, but Ray just cannot be bothered. He couldn’t even contain himself from sliding down the pole at the showing of their future headquarters.

     Even Ray’s cigarette smoking is, subliminally, showing us he is a child as by the second movie he choose more “mature” forms of tobacco and while tobacco use of any kind is really a horrible choice, given the time period a pipe and a cigar had different connotations than cigarette smoking.

     A huge part of everyone’s story, but Ray’s is a woman in their life. Peter has Dana, Egon has the sexually aggressive Janie Melitz, but Ray has a wet dream, normally associated with adolescence, about a ghost.This is typical male fear of intimacy.

     Once we get to the ending, where the Ghostbusters fight Gozer, we are seeing the conclusion of Ray’s whole character arc. He chooses the form of the Statepufft Marshmallow Man as the destructor, now it is his litteral childhood he is facing down. “It just popped in there.” and “I tried to think of the most harmless thing. Something I loved from my childhood, something that could never, ever possibly destroy us: Mr. Stay-Puft”

     The destruction of Stay-Puft is the conclusion of Ray’s character arc. All for come back to a hero’s welcome, but with Ray seeming more contemplative and somber after it all, as the credits roll.

     This was Ray’s rebirth, where this whole adulting thing is not as bad as Ray had feared and he takes it into the second movie with him.

     This ultimately makes the whole movie about Ray, growing up and conquering your fears in order to become something ultimately much greater.

Sol Forge:Review


     Solforge is an online card game created by Richard Garfield, known for creating Magic: The Gathering and designed by Magic: The Gathering Professional and lead designer of the World of Warcraft CCG, Brian Kibler of StoneBlade Games.

     Retaining the same flavor that made Magic: The Gathering a fun fantasy game, players are whisked away into a new world that seems very familiar and different all the same. The art is amazing for what is only an online card game.

How to Play
The game is simple to pick up but hard to master.

     You build a 30 card deck and each player starts off with 100 life. There is no form of payment for cards as in other games. Each player is instead allowed to play two cards a turn, except for the player who goes first. Spells and activated abilities can only be cast or used on your turn. Creatures cannot attack the first turn they come into play with the exception being cards with Aggressive.

     The game has several types of cards. Creatures, spells, power ups and each one has their own levels. So far the max level for cards seems to be capped at three. As you level up in the game, so do your cards. Everything becomes more powerful.

     You level up by playing cards. You have no max level but in the games I have played, no one has gotten past level 5. Not because you couldn’t but because of how the game was played out.

     s with most card games, SolForge is turn based. On your turn, you may decide to play a spell, creature, power up or discard a card and level it. You have five areas before you where you will place your creatures. Although you only have five spots you can play a creature to an occupied spot, replacing the creature currently there with a new one.

     Next step is to go into the battle phase. Any creatures able to do battle will do so and anything not blocked by an opponent’s creature or with the ability breakthrough, will deal damage to the opposing player.

     You end your turn and your opponent how has his turn. Game play goes back and forth like this until one player wins.

Technical Terms

Free spells or cards that do not count towards your limit, are usually only accessed at higher levels. Spells and activated abilities can only be cast or used on your turn, except for cards with come into play abilities.

Aggressive allows your creature to attack the turn it comes into play. Sometimes it has restrictions as, your opponent must have a creature opposite it, in order to gain the ability. This is noted on the cards by a red lightning bolt.

Attack is a creature’s power that will be dealt as damage to a creature.
Health is how much damage a creature can take before he dies.

Mobility is the number of spaces a creature can move across the board.
Regenerate is how much attack and health a damaged creature will get back.

Poison is a special type of damage done to a creature that doesn’t go away. It continues to damage the creature.

Breakthrough is a creature that will deal leftover damage to the opponent.

Defender is a creature that cannot attack but can block and protect your life points.

Armor gives your opponent a shield that will reduce damage done to your creature.

Uterra are a nature based faction within the game itself. Beefy creatures and healing are abundant here.

Alloyin are an army based faction. Robots and Soldiers and other techno goodies make up this faction.

Nekrium are the death based and underworld faction of the game. Necromancy is their specialty.

Tempys are aggressive and fire based faction. Burning things and attacking early are some of the attributes to make up this faction.

Levels are more powerful version of the cards or the players. So far, levels on cards are capped at three but players can level up to extended levels past three but the level resets to one after each game.

Common cards are easy to get as they show up most often with uncommon cards being the next most frequent followed by Rare, Heroic and Legendary.

Booster Packs add to your collection and come in one of three styles. Basic or a three card pack.

Event tickets get you into constructed tournaments or booster drafts.

Booster Draft is where you take three packs of cards and pick one card out of it. Each other player also does the same. The pack is passed and you pick a card from another pack. You do this until you have enough to build a 30 card seems to be capped at three. As you level up in the game, so do your cards. Everything becomes more powerful.

The game has daily log in rewards of sliver, a single card or a booster pack. Sometimes two of those options combined. This will add to your collection. Within the game, if you win via online opponent or AI, you are also rewarded with sliver and or booster packs. These add to your online collection, giving you more options for deck building.

Sliver can buy you some things but sticking to a RPG type of theme, like World of Warcraft, you can buy gold to access even more. The gold comes in five tiers. With 30,000 gold for $99.99 being the most a player can buy.

Overall it isn’t a bad game. In fact, it is quite enjoyable. It’s quick to get into but the more you play, the more strategy you find within the game itself.

     I’m not a fan of the way it is Farmville-esque with the fact that you can play for free or unlock more by buying gold. It’s flavorful but seems rather silly. The gameplay itself seems rather solid but you’ll soon find yourself being outclassed by the people who bought access to more cards. The game could do with tier levels from Newbie to Expert from which allow players to hone their skills. Other than that, the game is a fun way to kill fifteen to thirty minutes of free time.

The game is available for free on steam or iPhone app.

Three and a half out of five stars.

Cyber bullying.

     Cyber-bullying has been a hot topic for years and in the day an age of every increasing social media it is important to take a step back and try to remember that the people we converse with on the internet are humans, much like ourselves, trying to live their lives.

     So, what exactly is cyber-bullying? Well, it is threats, harassment, relentless verbal assault that is harmful to those involved and could have potential actions. I don’t claim this as a definitive definition, but it is pretty spot on.

     So, who can be cyber harassed? Well, that is a tricky question. We know that those who put themselves out there in the public eye, celebrities and politicians, that we have the ability to dissect their lives with little recourse. Granted, even celebrities can still be harassed, but things like criticism, memes and the like are normally considered fair game.

     Stalking is one thing that most people, regardless of being in the public eye or not, have recourse with. Obviously protection is a necessity in most of our lives and no one should feel threaten. How threatened can you feel from an online discussion, though? There have been many stories of young teens killing themselves from brutal taunting from bullies online. Are adults susceptible to such, though? Obviously anyone can be hurt, even by such innocuous things as words, but would adults care more about peer ostracizing more so than teens? I don’t have the answer to this question, but tormenting is tormenting.

     Criticizing a public official or anyone in the public eye, is not stalking or harassment, though.

     Anytime you put something out in a public sphere, and disregard taking proper precautions to impede individuals, whom you do not want to see your post, the ability to see them, you are at fault. Pay close attention to Facebook’s privacy policy and settings. Is it checked for only friends to see it? Does it say “Public”?

     If it says public, this allows anyone who should happen across your page the ability to see things you wouldn’t want them to see. You also have access to the block feature, so that you can block certain individuals from accessing your page. If you are truly a victim of harassment, you have the power the prevent it. If such precautions are not preventing the individual from contacting you or getting to you, if they are still looking for ways to contact you, then you might have a stalking and harassment claim. Maine stature doesn’t factor in Facebook, only things that happen off the internet. It may be time for an overhaul when it comes to statues to better factor in the internet and take those cases into account, but it needs to be for more than having thin skin in the public eye.

     Remember, at the end of the day, the best thing you can do is say “Hey, is this something I want people to see?” If the answer is no, it is perhaps best not to post it to Facebook. Recourse for your actions is not stalking or harassment, it is your fault. People taking a screen cap of your negative actions are not harassment. You have the right to say what you want, but you are not sheltered by the consequences of those actions. Good or bad, they are yours and the responsibility lies with you.

     Keep this in mind as you wade through the muck that is the internet. It should go without saying by now, but it appears as if it needs to be mentioned again, from time to time.

Nothing Left to Lose: Poverty is Freedom (2013)

You see that fecal matter on the sidewalk? Take a nice big whiff because that, my friends, is the smell of freedom. We are free to live our lives on our own accord. To succeed or fail based on our own merits. The very essence of what this great country of ours was founded upon.

I have been homeless and you wouldn’t believe how much better life was. Every morning I was awoken by the beautiful sounds of nature and radiant warmth of the sun. Sleeping on the cool ground and looking up at the universe each night before falling asleep. No responsibility at all. That is how nature intended us to live and live I did.

Being surrounded by the beauty of nature really allows you to reflect on humanities so called “Progress”.
Are we really making strides in our own evolution? It seems to me that we are really stifling our true nature and defiling the human spirit.
Civilization is for the weak. Human beings where not meant to waste their lives shackled to a cubicle, at a nine to five job for a paltry sum. To survive in the wilderness is for the strong. When was the last time you caught a fish with your bare hands?

While the rest of us just continue on with our mediocre existence, the homeless seek adventure. They are some of the most interesting types of people you will ever meet. Where else could you go at two in the afternoon and listen to an old war veteran regale you with tales of war?

To say we have a homeless problem is fallacious. No, we have a Homemore problem. That is, the more homes you have the less connected you are with your roots.
James Cameron, speaking through his character of Jack from the movie Titanic said:
…I got everything I need right here with me. I got air in my lungs, a few blank sheets of paper. I mean, I love waking up in the morning not knowing what’s gonna happen or who I’m gonna meet. Where I’m gonna wind up. Just the other night I was sleeping under a bridge and now here I am on the grandest ship in the world having champagne with you fine people. I figure lifes a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it. You don’t know what hand you’re gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you. To make each day count.

You can live your life in a veritable prison or you could enjoy absolute freedom. The choice is up to you.
So why not quit your job, burn down your abode and come join up with the rest of the tramps as we journey off in search of ourselves.
So, as Jack said: Here is to making each day count.

Men on Pause (2013)


The bright red and black colors jump out like a tractor beam pulling you in. Next you notice the bold white letters which read, Men on Strike: Why men are boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, the American Dream- and Why It Matters.

Ann Coulter type of titles seem to be all the rage these days in order to get you to read a book that will be one of the biggest waste of time, energy and money you are likely to spend this summer. The line you stand in to purchase the book will be more exciting.

Dr. Smith has written a book that has a pro-man bent. Too bad that masculine tone is Al Bundy from Married with Children. Seemingly everyone writing books on the subject are the equal to Al’s neighbor Darcy, the Fem-Nazi with the whipped husband that is dragged along everywhere she goes which creating hilarious situational comedy between the two extremes.

The entire argument is that men get a bum rap for being men and are slowly being ostracized by society that wants them to be here to only serve woman and nothing more. Essentially, we’re in 1900’s part deux with men now being the second class citizens as opposed to woman and Dr. Smith is calling for the a version of Men’s Suffrage.

The problem is, men are men. This means, they don’t want to speak out for fear of being less manly. Ironically, in order to get anything done, men must become more like woman. A feat that woman everywhere have been attempting for generations to no avail. Apparently the issue isn’t that men don’t want to talk but no one wants to listen to them and they must pay for the sins of the father, so to speak.

So long as you’re male, you have no choice but to be in on Dr. Smith’s ride as she argues that men are dropping out of society, either consciously or subconsciously. Apparently that means that men cannot think for themselves and they are only shunning these things because society is mean.

I would tend to agree that men do get hurt in society at the hands of feminist extremist. Equality, in the eyes of the law, is something to strive for, even if true equality is never achievable among people.

This book is the wrong way to go about it, though. It is appealing to men and inciting them to stand up and fight. Oddly enough, doing as the book says pretty much would be going against what the book suggest by listening to what a woman tells you to do. That is part of the problem.

Dr. Smith uses men’s personal testimony on why they do not want to engage in society and impresses it on the whole of men. It cites few examples of men going to extremes to make themselves heard, as well as the few oddball cases that are egregious errors of judgement on behalf of the judges overseeing the case.

Yet these few examples do not allow you to look up statistics on suicide and infer that the amount of male suicide is based on society out casting them.

The book decries shaming men as being stuck in a permanent state of adolescence and then offers shaming those men who are not on her side for daring to have a dissenting opinion. Using name calling is childish regardless of which side you are on.

Dr. Smith suggests that there are just no incentives for men to man up and get married. This is clearly false. Marriage still offers all the same things it always has. The only difference is that men are upset about being held accountable for their actions. Oh no!

Back in the day, marriage was never a very lucrative option for woman. Society demand marriage and those who weren’t married by a certain age were considered un-marriageable for the rest of their lives. Infidelity had a higher cost for woman. They could get pregnant and had to bear the child. Harder to cover up when your husband is gone for months at a time and when the math doesn’t check out that it could possibly be your husband, you could be shunned by society. Men, on the other hand, could cheat more readily and it would be a lot harder to prove. DNA test did not exist. Now with a level playing field, men cannot be men. So they sulk about it.

It seems to me that Dr. Smith’s biggest problem with alimony and child support is that it is socialism and that doesn’t jibe with her Libertarian worldview.

Dr. Smith suggests that schools are creating hostile environments for boys and have been for years. I think this is absurd. I grew up in the 90’s and school was never more hostile towards boys then it was for woman. The schools I went to often tried to be equal towards both boys and girls in treatment and books that would excite them. With a few exceptions, books where picked to appeal to both genders in school, to get young boys and girls excited about. I, on the other hand, would have nothing to do with being told I couldn’t read a book because it was more geared towards young girls, then boys. This allowed me to read some amazing books that I might not have gotten to, otherwise. Speak, Harriet the Spy and Matilda are just a few of them. One of the books assigned to young boys was The Red Badge of Courage. A book I detested reading because it conflicted with my view of masculinity.

Dr. Smith’s idea of men seems to be that of a teenage girl’s fantasy. Men doing hard labor and glistening with sweat in the hot summer heat and a willingness to die for woman and country. Apparently if the men of yore could see today’s men attempting to save their own lives, they would be appalled.

College could be seen as different story entirely though. Yes, I have noticed that a majority of my classmates in college are females. Nowhere have I encountered hostility based on my gender, though. Yes, we do put an emphasis on woman going to college rather than men. Why do men need the positive reinforcement of society?

I would love to say this is the book that was needed to give men a heads up in today’s society but it isn’t. It is just a book that points out the obvious and tries to ignite a spark among men to rally. Books like this is what damages the causes of men by getting them smashing at their chest like apes and grunting. Men cannot afford any more bad press than is already out there.

While the book does offer some valid points and something’s need to be reconsidered in society, Dr. Smith does a lousy job in helping men out.

* Out of *****