Category Archives: Things Disliked

Upsetting, dismaying, or otherwise unenjoyable.

Tribbles Need Not Apply

Today, The Chronicle of Higher Education had a wonderfully misguided article entitled “Bloggers Need Not Apply“. Written by a “humanities professor at a small liberal-arts college in the Midwest” writing under the pseudonym “Ivan Tribble”, the article details how his college’s recent faculty search ended up disqualifying a lot of candidates largely because they were bloggers.

An article this misguided is not the sort of thing I’d expect out of the Chronicle. It illustrates the wrong line of thinking about blogs, the wrong line of thinking about interviewing candidates, and the wrong line of intersecting the two. This is worth picking apart. (Please click through for a full dissection.)

Continue reading Tribbles Need Not Apply

Tear It Up

Back in April of 2003, I wrote a post [discussing my disdain](http://vjarmy.com/archives/2003/04/if_i_read_any_more_fanfiction_i_will_be_driven_to_murder.php) for fanfiction – particularly that of the DDR variety. I think most of the links in the post are dead, but the point remains the same: fanfiction for video games, particular video games without a plot, is a crime against humanity.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m passionate about games. Twenty years of gaming gets you a lot of addictions and obsessions. I’ve played some games long enough to temporarily ruin my vision, taken mutli-hour car trips with people I barely know to play games in arcades, and written way more PHP to handle game accounting than anyone should have to in the course of their life.

But there’s a line for me. Somewhere past cosplaying at conventions is a breed of gamer who takes things way, way, way too far.

Today, Aaron Ramsey discovered – quite accidently – the [Beatmania IIDX Platinum Livejournal community](http://www.livejournal.com/community/iidx_platinum/). I should, in all fairness, know by now not to click links titled “SOMEBODY PLEASE TELL ME WHAT THE HELL THIS IS ABOUT”.

If there’s any game I’m obsessed with, it’s certainly Beatmania IIDX; anyone who’s been reading here for longer than a month has been subjected to the regular tangent about it. I am not going to go into details to describe the percentage of my gaming attention this game occupies. That said, this community scares the living shit out of me.

IIDX_Platinum is a role-playing group. This means each and every person in the community plays the role of one of the IIDX “characters”. Let’s stop right here, for the benefit of those people that don’t play: The characters in IIDX are largely relegated to screens that show your scores. They only occasionally appear in videos. They have very minor back-story associated with them, which is then obsessively filled in by people who think it’s worth filling in.

To base an entire perpetual role playing game off of characters that don’t have any characterization is…to make the obvious joke, *just disturbed, guys*. This is even acknowledged in the [group rules](http://www.livejournal.com/userinfo.bml?user=iidx_platinum):

> I’ve done all the research I could do and there isn’t a website that describes all the character’s personality.

There are other sections in the rules that are equally troubling, like the full acknowledgement that there may be [yaoi](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaoi) and [yuri](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuri):

> Keep an open mind. *This community/rp group is run by yaoi fans… and we do allow yaoi, yuri, and het in this RP. Anything lemony, please warn us in advance.*

Some people may find this hard to believe, but Beatmania IIDX is a fun game even if you *don’t* pretend the characters on the results screens are having homosexual relations with each other. I personally don’t think it adds anything to the gaming experience – but maybe that’s just me.

I don’t mean to go on a complete snark binge here, so let me get to the heart of the matter, which is based largely in this line in the group description:

> Forgive us for being uncreative (or maybe being lazy) at the time, but this role-play has no set definite plot or anything like that. I mean, our boys and girls are DJ’s. Still, that’s not to say that it’s all they ever do. They are human after all, and go through the same things that we all do. Happy times, fun times, depression, frustration, anger, emo, angst, etc.

If these characters truly “go through the same things that we all do”, what’s the motivation here to write about someone else’s (fictional) life ? Why would you want to *pretend* to have issues, especially those that aren’t your own? Is there really an emotional rush for *pretending* to be in love with someone else who doesn’t exist? Since all of these love stories seem to end in heartbreak, why would anyone want to pretend to go through that?

Don’t misread that as saying there isn’t something to be said for going through all of these things yourself; there’s a lot to be learned from falling into and out of love, from releasing your frustrations and having your friends be there for you in your darkest days. But you need to go through these life experiences as yourself, not as a fictional DJ (or any other character from one of the thousands of roleplaying groups online).

In total, it strikes me as rather tragic that there are so many people out there who are content to churn out pages upon pages of fictional [phone conversations](http://www.livejournal.com/community/iidx_platinum/57710.html#cutid1), [AIM chats](http://www.livejournal.com/community/iidx_platinum/63104.html#cutid1), and [trips with fictional friends](http://www.livejournal.com/community/iidx_platinum/64835.html#cutid2) rather than try doing any of these things as themselves.

Life is too short to spend it writing a story for someone else’s life.

America – Now With Less Freedom!

I’ve been following the Terry Schiavo case a bit over the last few weeks, keeping my fingers crossed this wouldn’t become a national issue.

Lo and behold, [here we are](http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4367201.stm).

Friends, this affects every last one of us. You have lost the ability to make critical care decisions for loved ones. You no longer can expect someone to be able to take mercy on you and end years of pain and suffering and vegetative state. Personal decisions *and* the decisions of your doctor have been usurped by the government.

I don’t care if you’re Democratic, Republican, Catholic, Jewish, Agnostic, or SubGenius – read the [details of this case](http://abstractappeal.com/schiavo/infopage.html) and realize how tragic this is not only for Terry Schiavo and her husband, but for the United States as a country.

********

> In cases like this one, where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws, and our courts should have a presumption in favour of life.

-George W. Bush

> By now most people who read liberal blogs are aware that George W. Bush signed a law in Texas that expressly gave hospitals the right to remove life support if the patient could not pay and there was no hope of revival, regardless of the patient’s family’s wishes. It is called the Texas Futile Care Law. Under this law, a baby was removed from life support against his mother’s wishes in Texas just this week. A 68 year old man was given a temporary reprieve by the Texas courts just yesterday.

Digby’s *Hullabaloo*

I’m not even going to get started on his very much pro-death penalty ways; I’m content to stand pat and call the man a massive hypocrite.

********

While reading the [fantastic MetaFilter thread on the ordeal](http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/40549) – about Congress rushing through legislation to score political points; the stringent court cases that have assessed her as unable to recover; the fifteen years Michael Schiavo has spent flying her all over the country seeking treatment – I was struck by some odd nostalgia.

Bill Hicks, who by now should be up for sainthood, has a bit on one of his CDs (*Rant In E Minor*) about pro-lifers; it was one of the first Hicks routines I had ever heard. The jist of the bit was that if you’re so pro-life – if you so dearly value the sanctity of human life – then stop blocking abortion clinics, and instead links arms and block cemetaries.

Never in a million years did I expect anyone to actually take the suggestion to heart.

(As I write this post on the subway, *I’m Afraid Of Americans* by David Bowie + Trent Reznor came on my iPod. Irony noted.)

The Occasional Failure of Rotten Tomatoes

Warning: There are some spoilers here. But if you have any faith in what I’m saying, believe me when I say that I’m saving you $8.50. There’s also a lot of swearing in capital letters.

Over the past few years, I’ve been happy to see the rise of Rotten Tomatoes as a quality site for judging the general worth of movies. Using a system of average reviews from critics, it is generally very good about letting you know about what’s good and what’s crap.

The site only fails to correctly gauge a movie when the collective critics of the world all smoke up at the exact same instant, and somehow give the worst movie in history an overall positive rating.

Today is one of those days. Behold, Cabin Fever. Seemingly good reviews, right?

Only when the summer movie field has been THIS shitty is a movie like this considered good, or even remotely good. Let’s tick through what’s wrong here:

The gore is nothing special. It’s a flesh-eating virus, so there’s lots of blood coughing and bloody peeling flesh and all of that. It’s all so run of the mill, that you’ll just block it out.

The characters are about as deep as a kiddie pool. You’ve got the Paranoid Blonde Guy. Of course, he’s fucking the Horny Chick. On the other side, you’ve got the Sensitive Main Character who is in love with The Girl He’s Known For Ages Who Seems Disinterested And Of Course Gets Sick First. Oh, and who could forget The Irreverent Frat Guy, who goes out to hunt squirrels because “they’re gay”? Besides that, there’s such a wide cast of side characters! Like…the Stoner Guy From California (cameo by the director)! And the Funny Young Cop Who Parties! And the Redneck Entire Town!
Not only are all the characters ridiculously shallow, but the interaction between them is laughable. The aforementioned Sensitive Main Character and His Crush have a conversation as they’re walking to the lake. He’s trying his best to pour his heart out to her, and she just ignores him and races him to the lake. Okay, so that’s fine – but not 2 minutes later, she’s kissing him. And then she’s ignoring him again. What a great love story for our time.

Some of the movie is just bizarre and/or unexplainable. The kids stop at a general store. You just know hilarity is going to ensue, right? Not this time. There’s a silent blonde kid on the swing on the front porch. The Irreverent Frat Guy sits next to him, tells him to “putterthere”, and the kid bites his hand. This is all you get in terms of the kid until much later (see below).

Later, they go inside where there’s this crazy old guy behind the counter. When they ask what the rifle is for, Crazy Old Guy says “That’s for the niggers.”, and the audience all went “Huh? Ha ha…wait, what? That’s not funny.” Again, this just hangs over the movie until the end of the film (see below).

There’s a long story about some psycho killer at a bowling alley that amounts to nothing. There’s a house that is empty the first time the kids go to it, and then later there’s a naked woman on the bed – of course, her husband comes outside, threatens a kid with a shotgun, and then disappears into No More Scenes Land. There’s a redneck that has to get “the kit” and is killed right before he opens it. What’s the kit for? FUCK YOU IF YOU THINK YOU GET TO FIND OUT. Oh, and while one of the kids is in the hospital, he sees a doctor dressed in a bunny suit. WOW THANKS THAT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING.

There’s a lot of retarded jokes and pay-offs. Remember the blonde kid on the swing? Well, later in the movie, the guy who’s hand he bit returns to the general store. The guy is yelling for help (since by this point they NEED A DOCTOR), and you see the kid. Sudddenly, the kid yells…

“PANCAKESSSSSSSS!!!!!!!”

And jumps off the bench in slow motion.

The kid then begins doing kung fu jump kicks and flips and all this ridiculous shit in SLOW MOTION, like I’m back watching Charlie’s Angels again, while we get intercut shots of Irreverent Frat Guy’s face reading “What the fuck?”, which accurately reflects the entire audience. The kid does a front roundoff flip and then…

…bites the guy on the hand again. More retarded than a short bus on its way to school. More brainless than an Ithaca College frat on a Saturday night.

Oh, but that’s not all, folks! The crazy old man earlier, the one who talked about his rifle? Last shot of the movie – you see three black guys walking up to the general store. The old guy goes back inside and begins to grab the rifle as they enter the store, and…

…he hands the rifle to them, pulling the age old Allegedly Funny Joke of Old White Guy Uses Black Slang. “Yo, I cleaned that for you and everything, look how that shines – oh WHAT UP MY NIGGA!” Giving them convoluted high fives and everything.

The movie, like every other horror movie I’ve seen over the past year, isn’t scary, isn’t suspenseful, and isn’t terrifying. Worse, all the reviews make this out to be some great homage to classic horror movies – bullshit. This is more like an amalgamation of all the really shitty ones that have come out over the past 5 years. The only worthwhile part is that Angelo Badalamenti did the score, and even he can’t pull this out from being drek.

I heard someone, a few rows in front of me, say about 30 minutes in “Boy, this movie is really gay” – which was amusing given how many times the word “gay” had been used to describe something characters didn’t like in the movie. (When asking if this “a date” with his crush, the quasi-main character was told “Don’t be gay!”)

So I happily name this The Worst Movie I’ve Seen Thus Far In 2003. Stay as far away from this as you possibly can.

Oh God, Not Again

Yes folks, it’s quite possibly my least favorite day of the year. Why do
I not like April Fools day at all? Because over the past couple of
years, *everyone* feels the need to pull jokes, to the point where the
world is so fucking oversaturated with jokes that nothing legitimate can
get done.

I have nothing against the jokes, but when you see a million press
releases go up, and you see the words “SHOCKING NEWS” fifty times, you
just have to roll your eyes and go Bah(tm). And because of that, any
even slightly legitimate news will be completely ignored. So, in effect,
nothing can happen today. It’s a day completely lost from the year.
Example: Last night, while pacing around aimlessly for CourseEnroll (and
yes, I got all my classes in just fine, thank you), I wondered into the
Friedland/Cross compound and saw an email from one Michael Suttles. The
email said that he was going to be transfering to UT Austin. The first
words out of my mouth were, “It’s April Fools Day.”

But what if Mike IS transfering to UT Austin? I was contemplating
transfering for most of last semester. Do we all brush off everything
today just because we don’t want to feel like a jackass?

Enough ranting from me, I feel like Mike Jasper. Oh, if you’ve got
cash kicking around, get the MDFMK CD, it’s quite swank.