Why Boys Don’t Go To the Movies Anymore

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Boys used to watch as many movies, if not more, than girls.  But over the last two decades, boys have simply gravitated away from film.  We asked a panel of critical analysts culled from the sociology department of Evergreen University, the gender studies department at Vassar, and the VP of Political Action at Planned Parenthood, among others, and they reached the conclusion that boys don’t watch movies because they can’t sit still, are less intelligent, and smell funny, too.

“There’s nothing wrong with the movies being produced today,” said Mx. Bahlbuster, professor of cultural studies at Missouri University.  “They have been carefully crafted to adhere to what the modern audience craves.  Everyone in my feminist knitting circle just loves the line-up of gender-swapped Marvel hero movies coming out now.  The only possible explanation for boys not enjoying movies is that they are stupid and dull.”

After a solid round of finger snapping, Brenda Stikkit-N’Mbuthol agreed.  A fortysomething street artists whose medium consists of her own menstrual blood and who makes ends meet by canvassing the streets part-time for Antifa, she said, “Of all the 57 genders, the only one that truly sucks is the male.  If they can’t appreciate the Oscar winning performances of the crazy lesbian in “Ghostbusters” – I don’t even know why we keep them around anymore, ugh.”

Films made during the dark ages, films like CommandoAmerican Ninja 2, and Invasion USA, might have appealed to less sophisticated pallets, but today’s films like Clarissa Wins Everything Without Breaking a Sweat, ScienceGirl To the Rescue, and A Hijab for My Kebab should be raking in the dough across all gender, racial, political, and furry divides.  That they are not clearly signals a lingering problem with audiences, and not the film-makers who are special, oh yes they are!  Who’s a special Hollywood executive?  Huh?  Huh?  Yes, you are, that’s a good Hollywood executive!

We asked multi-millionaire film director Joss Whedon and he answered, “Whatever they say – I agree completely.  Please, tell me what I should say here – whatever they want me to say, I’ll say it.  Whatever they want me to do, I’ll do it.   Tell me what I can do to make the left love me again.  Oh God, I’m begging you!  Begging you!  I’m desperate for validation from people who will always hate me no matter what I do.  Don’t they know I’m gay!  I’M GAY!  That’s supposed to make me immune from criticism!”

There are those who suggest that perhaps Hollywood’s decision to cater exclusively to the coastal enclaves has been a mistake, and that demanding boys like things that boys don’t like was a mistake.  They have been rounded up and sent to re-education camps.

Objectively speaking, it makes no sense.  Why, look at the stills taken from a collection of short films being presented at colleges across the country.  It’s breathtaking in how glorious it is.  What red-blooded American boy wouldn’t leap at the chance to watch these four films?  Everyone loves girl bands.  Minority science girls are all the rage.  And whatever the hell is going on in that upper right photo is amazing!  Why, there isn’t a normal white guy polluting up the bunch, it’s just precious beyond belief.  Clearly, boys are just weak and stupid and threatened by strong female figures in their lives.

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Ed. Note:  No shit – this polluted my inbox.  It gave me AIDS.  I’m dying now from the AIDS thanks to this visual nightmare.  Maybe ESPN will name a pointless trophy after me.

Box office receipts are a tenth of what they were just a short decade ago, but this decline has nothing to do with the quality of the product.  A host of excuses were proffered ranging from boys being stupid to boys being dumb.  Literally no one can even think of any other reason that boys might have drifted away from a medium that used to affirm the timeless virtues of strength, honor, and self-sacrifice.  Literally everyone thinks films that glorify the sexualization of pre-pubescents and that provide constant affirmation that girls everywhere are awesome and special and deserving of rewards and accolades regardless of their actual accomplishments are the only kinds of film that should have ever been made.

Whatever the reason, boys just don’t understand that hating boys – particularly white ones – is the only way to live a healthy life.  We polled 100 fans at a Melissa Ethridge concert and 99 of them agreed that Hollywood is making exactly the kind of movies they want to see.  Because we didn’t want to bias the results we also polled 100 fans at a Nickleback concert and it turns out 99 of them are also gay.  So that’s 198 to 2 that the only reason boys don’t like movies catering exclusively to girls is that boys are all rapists.

But not the Muslim ones – it would be racist against a political movement to say that.

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RPG Losers

It has come to my realization that modern players of RPGs don’t actually like playing RPGs.  Brace yourself for a surface of the sun level hot take, kiddos.  This one is going to get dark.

If you like modern RPGs, you are a loser.

Wait!  I admit that was incendiary, so let me walk that back a bit.

Modern RPGs – and D5D in particular – are built for losers desperate for a win.  It is theoretically possible to enjoy D&D 5: The Enlosering without being a loser, but the game itself was written for those who have a loser mindset.  Yeah, that’s better.  It should placate the special snowflakes who can’t accept generalizations and sooth those too stupid to distinguish between the micro and the macro.

Let us turn to why this might be the case.

Take me, for example.  I’m a very successful businessman and author.  My back trail is littered with more successes than Antifa has felons.  I’ve got a legion of fans, internet fame, and between my Rascal and my compression socks, my diabetes is mostly kept in check.  My wife’s children love me, and every time I take my ethnically themeed adopted child to church the pastor glad hands me like you would not believe.  I make enough money to pay for my wife’s kids and pay off my ex-wife’s student loan debt (Gender Studies degress don’t pay for themselves, you know – you need a husband for that.) Altogether, I’m doing A-OK.

Which means when I sit down to play D&D, I can sit and enjoy the experience.  I can enjoy the exploration and the game itself.  Laughing with friends, setting off traps, and even TPKs are all the reward I need.  Give me an interesting hole in the ground filled with clever atmosphere, puzzles, and evil to slay, and I can spend 20 hours playing a first level cleric without a healing spell.  I can die fifteen times without batting an eye.

Now look at D5D, which was expressly designed to cater to modern RPG gamers.

They spoon feed you little bits of cheese for barely pressing a lever.  Take D5D.  You level up after the first adventure.  By design.  Four hours of play nearly guarantees that you’ll attain second level and that oh-so-important extra HD.  The second level flies by almost as quickly.  By design.  You get new power-ups, more HD, more buttons and lever to press.  With every successive level you get more and more powers and more and more rules to interact with.  They are doled out in a steady drip, drip, drip, to constantly provide the player with the stream of trophies that keep them coming back to the table.

The convention games that I play in, and when I get roped into Storyteller D&D at the store, the players are constantly looking ahead in the rule books.  They chatter about what they will do when they level up.  They talk about where their character is heading, power-wise.  They talk about what they could do if they were only one or two levels higher.  They specify specific magic items they want, building more and more effective rule combinations.

These a long time have I watched.  All their table time they have looked away…to the future, to the next level.  Never their minds on where they are.  Hmm?  What they are doing.  Pshaw!  Level-ups.  Heh!  CR.  Ha!  One who loves the game itself craves not these things.

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What kinds of people are these?

Losers.  Their lives must be filled with such vacuous emptiness that they don’t just enjoy trivial rewards, they seek to remake entire hobbies to suck out the challenge and replace the enjoyment of exploration with heaps of undeserved prizes.  They see themselves as perennial victims, secret kings forever preyed upon by a world too stupid to recognize their obvious talent and worth, and so starved are they of the recognition their hind-brain tells them they deserve, they latch onto any hobby that can give them the endorphin rush of success and twist that hobby to ensure that it guarantees them the accolades and rewards they know deep in the depths of their black little hearts they deserve.

This is a simple question.  If you enjoy RPGs, then you don’t need the steady doling out of power-ups.  If you enjoy the exploration, then the exploration is the reward.  If you enjoy the game, then the game is the reward.  You can spend countless hours at the table and not fret for a moment about how you will earn enough XP to finally reach the character you really want to play.  The character you really want to play is the one right there on the cheeto-stained sheet in front of you right now!  Strength 6, 1d4 HD thief though he be, he is yours, and he is enough.

You play.  You laugh.  You live.  That is enough.

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Happy Father’s Day

To all you big daddies out there, here’s hoping your day is filled with a few crayon crafted cards and plenty of time in the hammock, cold beverage of your choice in hand.  You’re a good guy doing thankless work in an environment that is openly hostile to you.  Never has a civilization treated the engine of its prosperity so poorly as the West treats fathers today, and for that you are doubly so a hero.

If I may drop the act for one day, today’s post goes out to my own children:

Your father misses you terribly.  If you ever happen to wander past this site, please understand that much of what you read represents a healing catharsis that helps release the anguish felt daily by a man cut out of your life for committing the mortal sin of not being exciting enough for a…well, whatever she is, she is your mother, and for that reason if no other, she deserves your respect.

Some day you will be old enough to make your own decisions, and when that happens, I will be waiting with open arms.  Neither your mother nor the courts will be able to prevent us from seeing each other, and I pray regularly that when that day comes your heart will not have been filled with so much poison that you refuse to hear me out.  You will have grown up in the shadow of your mother and all of her struggles, and I can only hope that you recognize her for what she is and come to me so that I can help you heal and make up for years of lost time.

If you read this before then, I can only ask for your patience.  Daddy is here.  Though I’m not allowed to see you, I will always be there for you.  Your mother’s friends at the courthouse won’t let that happen yet, but they can’t do so forever.

Happy Father’s Day.  I miss you.  I love you.  I’ll see you – not soon enough – but soon4.

 

 

 

All right, dear reader, thank you for that.  We will return to your regularly scheduled frothing after these commercial messages…

 

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Great Ghastly Gygax – That’s It!

You ever been tap-dancing around an idea, stalking it, hunting it, not quite sure where it was in the bushes, but ready to flush it out, jump on it, tear its head off and drink of its blood to makes its essence your own?  Sweet, me too.  But this time, some jagoff beat me to the kill.

Bradford C. Walker is a solid mensch.  Back when I was posting at RPG.net (I got better) as American Badass, he always struck me as a level headed and sober fellow.  Ever since I developed measurable levels of testosterone in my bloodstream, I stopped posting there, but he’s one of a handful of dudes – and they are all dudes – whose writing I miss.  At least until I found his blog, which I’ve been a regular reader of for some time now.  Once you read his latest post, you’ll see why:

Guess what “Storygames” are? The attempt by people who can’t hack it with proper tabletop RPGs to exploit the competitive nature of gamers by gaslighting them into accepting the fakes’ redefinition of the medium as valid. Fake Games for Fake Gamers indeed.

Not even the hard work of Pundy could save D&D5: The Ensqualminating from the ravening hordes.  Oh, he gave it the old college try, but in the end it’s the same old cookie treadmill.  I’ve got a post similar to Walker’s dropping later this week on how D%D is for losers, but this post right here is analytical gold.  Go read it for other gems like:

All of this, because they just could not grok that to make in RPGs–being wargame derivatives–you have to Git Gud to succeed. In order to Git Gud, you have to get out there and compete. You have go out there, fail, and then learn from your failure before you try again. With each new character, new adventure, new campaign, new game you get better. The entire point of gaming is to teach you how to fail, how to recover from failure, how to benefit from failure, so that you can properly earn–and appreciate–your success.“Storygames” directly undermine this justification for gaming’s entire existence by making it anti-competitive.

I made the mistake of reading this post at the local public pool and they kicked me out because my tumescence all too clearly visible through my bright green Speedos, even under the rolls of my front-butt.  Here’s more – get the tissues ready, reader:

The other thing rabbits grok that we often forget because we’re too close to see is that gaming derives from training for war, and politics is war by other means. Therefore, gaslighting the culture is war by other means, and it’s long past time to start naming and shaming the fakes in our midst. Welcome their disapproval, their disavowal, their tut-tuts and nay-saying- and then ban the living fuck out of them. Permanent. Lifetime. Bans. There’s no hiding place for fake gamers or fake games here any longer. Git Gud or GTFO!

Damn you for putting this together before me, Bradford C. Walker!  You’ve stolen my thunder out from under me, and gotten me banned from yet another public pool.  If I didn’t want to have your gaming-babies so bad I’d swear eternal vengeance upon you, you magnificent bastard, you!

Oh, and that Dangerous Gamers book is amazing.  I’ll post an objective and completely dispassionate review about how good it is once I finish it.  Frisky Pagan is right up there with B-Walk when it comes to this sort of cultural analysis.  I’m no slouch, but Im’ not fit to carry and sniff their used lime green Speedos.  Guess I’ll have to stick to do that to my own.

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Death Becomes D&D

Yeah, I’m not done banging on this drum just yet.

You want to know how pernicious this nonsense of “protect the character at all costs” is?  In an effort to remind myself that tabletop RPGs are not a hobby exclusively full of delicate flowers and gaping lady-parts, I was listening to the Roll For Initiative podcast’s episode on Death Magic Saves in the hopes of finding like-minded travelers.  This is a whole podcast that accepts that death is on the table.  It hangs like a specter over everything even to the point that there are specific instances where even the mightiest character can die from just one bad roll.

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If you do this, you are playing D&D wrong wrong.

Alas, even this crew of first edition D&D players have succumbed to the notion of protecting the characters to protect the story.  They offer countless examples of ways they “kept the story going” after a botched save.  Or ways to save characters from a failed Save versus Death.

You want to know how to keep the story going?  You roll up a new character, that’s how.  Bob died?  Okay, Bob junior shows up, let’s go.

Are we as a hobby so bereft of ideas that we can’t imagine ways of introducing new characters that keeps things moving and keeps the game fun?  Are you really so desperate for a minor success in your life that you need to play a game where your token cannot die?

Come on, man!  Step up.  Take risks.  Embrace the risk.  Enjoy the consequences.  Learn to hand wave and justify and welcome crazy coincidences to keep players at the table.  Crazy coincidences were good enough for Edgar Rice Burroughs, they ought to be good enough for you!

An example:  “Well, we couldn’t just let Chet’s character die.  We were a thousand miles from civilization in the heart of trackless jungles, six levels down in the depths below a snakeman temple.  The only way in or out was a flooded passage that was only dry during the full moon which was two weeks away.  There was no way to introduce a character at that point.”

Dear God, man.  What are you doing playing a creative game like D&D when your boring lack of imagination is so ill suited to it?  You should really take up needlepoint, and not the hard kind where you design your own pattern, but the easy paint-by-numbers kind where they show you ever stitch you need to make.  This is crazy easy:

  • Chet’s new character was held prisoner in the temple for a year and escaped just as you showed up.  He is naked and starving, but Chet’s old character’s equipment fits him perfectly.
  • Chet’s new character was exploring a temple of evil elemental in nature a thousand miles away when an evil wizard cast an spell that sent him to the worst place in the world and just so happened to fling him halfway across the world…to you dopes.
  • Chet’s new character was right behind you the whole time.  He rushed to keep up and only just now made it to you.  He barely snuck in behind you when the waters rose, and became separated.  Thankfully, he heard your last combat and arrived just in time to watch Chet’s old character die.

How hard is that?

Oh, well, Chet’s character was the sole driving reason they were in this temple?  It was for some single-character specific reason that they trekked all the way over here?  Okay, that’s dumb.  You suck.  Hang your head in shame.  If you’re in a dungeon for one character, then you’ve already screwed up.  Everybody should have a stake so that these things don’t happen.  But even here Doctor Wright can bandage your game.

After a thousand miles of danger, six levels of battling snake men, and miraculously finding Chet’s character’s replacement, the party has been through a hell similar to the one that I went through back in ‘Nam.  That changes a man.  Brings him closer to the men around him.  The rest of the party should see this adventure through to honor the memory of the fallen character – if they aren’t willing to do that, then there’s no reason to believe they would have started the adventure in the first place.

Or heck, so they abandon the adventure altogether, so what?  Are such a precious DM that you can’t prep material you’ll never use?  Of course not, the prep is fun in itself, even if it never sees the light of your player’s stupidity.  You just roll with the players fighting their way back through six levels of snakemen and a thousand miles of trackless jungle.

Really, this isn’t hard.  New characters are like my second wife – they are cheap and easy and the fact they go down easy is a part of the deal you should appreciate.

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D&D5 – The Storyteller’s Dream

When I got word that my parole officer was out of town Friday night, that gave me a chance to sneak out of the house and down to the local nerdery to partake of a night of forced laughter and damn-near visible levels of gamer miasma.  (In a perfect world, game stores would make enough money to run industrial air-conditioning units at full blast.)  There weren’t any suckers on hand to play a proper game, so that forced me to partake of a story-telling game that revolved around plot and characters in which everyone gets a say in what goes on and everyone knows all the rules and everyone knows pretty much where things are going and how they are going to end.

I’m talking about fifth edition D&D, of course.

This latest iteration of D&D reminds me of my wife’s son.  Having been there to help raise him for years, he acts a little bit like me, but you don’t have to look to close to see that he owes far more to his actual ancestors than to his purported parentage.  In the case of D&D, the ‘actual parentage’ would be storytelling games like…oh, who are we kidding, I’ve never played any of those artsy-fartsy table games and don’t have a list handy.  I guess…Heist?  That’s the latest game the fluffers at RPG.net are fellating, right?

You know the types – the DM is an equal partner.  Characters direct the action.  Every question is answered with a “Yes, but…”  Listening to a podcast the other day, the host mentioned a game where the players even had a level of control over room sizes.  My heart nearly stopped.  I had to take a break from soaping up my car and sexily rubbing my hefty manboobs all over the windshield when I heard that.

It’s a real shame DFiveD went that route, but the more I play it, the more I realize that it’s just one big story game prancing around in D&D’s dead skin.

Friday night, bored with the utter lack of suspense, I decided to play a little meta-game.  Without telling anyone at the table, I decided to see how hard it would be for my character to die.

The answer – really, REALLY hard.

UntitledThe rules are set up to make it extraordinarily hard for characters to die.  My third level sack of hit-points, a sword and board fighter, charged into every combat (both of them in four hours…sigh), triggered every trap, and generally jumped in the path of danger at every opportunity.  My dude got burned, fell thirty feet, stabbed, sliced, diced, and poisoned, and managed to survive the night.

Once I had to make a couple of death saves, but that was it.  There were so many hit points on the table, and so many ways to recover them, that nothing I did mattered.  The DM and players moved heaven and earth because they were worried about my character dying.  The game ground down as everybody searched for ways to keep my secretly suicidal fighter alive.  They loved that he was so willing to bear the brunt of things, and thought him heroic.  They wanted to know about his motivation.

His motivation!

He just wanted to go into holes in the ground, kill things, and come out with shiny gold coins so that he could go into holes at the local brothel.  That’s his motivation.

I’ll give the DM this – it was a proper dungeon crawl.  We were trying to recover a magic sword for a local duke so that he could claim an inheritance that would allow him to make a power play to eliminate a rival threatening to oh my God this is some Game of Thrones garbage and there was no way the DM would let us fail to recover that sword lest the precious story he and the players had agreed on be ruined by something as stupid as a die roll.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t know why they even used the dice.  All they did was determine whether the adventure was a rousing success or a close call.  Hell, there’s more uncertainty in combat in a game of Amber Diceless than in D Fate D.

Death is the price you pay for taking stupid risks in a game.  It is the ultimate price, and it’s a powerful incentive to encourage players to think about what they are doing.  It has the potential not just to ruin their plans, but to ruin their everything.  Take that off the table and you change the game drastically.  It becomes a game of manipulating and working with the DM rather than manipulating and working against the rules.

To think I risked six months in the clink for this?  That’s the last time I ever sneak out on my parole officer.  Unless there’s a guaranteed game of Holmes or Moldvay on the table I’m staying home next time.

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Emperor Ponder’s Book is Available: “Dangerous Gamers.”

Emperor “Frisky Pagan” Ponders – or is that Frisky “Emperor Ponders” Pagan – decided he didn’t have enough monikers so he wrote a book that has his real name on the cover…or is it? It’s a look at GamerGate and what he calls the “Commentariat” but I call “those smug, deluded jackasses”. I have a copy and will be reading it and writing up my thoughts on it, and they will be positive because I like EFPP and appreciate that he did me a solid by reading my short stories and talking about them. I fully intend to blow so much smoke up his ass you’ll think he is a hookah.

Buy his book if you love freedom. If you hate freedom sit there like a Comey and suffer for your sins.

Emperor's Notepad

My DRM-free ebook, “Dangerous Gamers: The Commentariat and its war against video games, imagination, and fun,” is available on Amazon. Currently, it’s only in ebook format, but I intend to upload a paperback version as soon as possible (Amazon is giving me problems with the formatting of the Table of Contents and a few footnotes, and I need a new and better cover.)

Edit: The book has been updated (grammar, typos, etc.,) be sure that your version (in the “copyright” page) is at least version 1.1. If it isn’t, turn the autoupdates on.

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