Nerd Rage, Sports Fury, and Beyond: The Case for Recreational Hate

The feeling of anger and rage in the world feels like it’s been ramped up past 11 in recent years with no end in site. A version of Moore’s Law that’s built on a growing divide of emotions more that of computer intelligence. A lot of this is due to the double edge sword of the internet. The place where you can get enough cat videos to choke a small village is also where you can find a 10 page diatribe on why you are a bad person if you eat a carb.
People have been arguing view points, defending opinions, and speaking out for what they believe in for as long as there have been people.  Some of these have been very important to move society forward. Voting rights, abolishing slavery, ending of the Cold War. What I’m going to talk about here is none of these things.
“Stop liking things I hate! Stop hating things I like!” – the Internet 
I want to talk about the arguments and debates around all the things that don’t really matter. Nickleback sucks, subs are better than dubs, LeBraun is better than Jordan. Have a strong opinion on any of these or things like them? Great, strap in. This blogs’ for you.
Nothing seems to get a bigger reaction out of people than making a statement they disagree with or siding with an opposing opinion on trivial matters. People get so worked up that you didn’t like The Wire, choose to watch Game of Thrones over reading the books, or think Final Fantasy XIII is a terrible game (it is, but I’m not about to do a TED Talk about it).
I think we all just need to take a step back and breath before starting our next tweet with, “you know what…”.  Debating and arguing can be fun and I’m not saying we should stop this. We just need to set some boundaries and guidelines. We should enjoy a lively debate with others and not take every opposing view as a personal attack on who we are. We should feel free to speak up about something when we want and not fear death threats from anonymous faces online. And we should have an outlet for when we’re just mad so we don’t pour hot coffee on the next smiling person who walks by.
To help I propose a new term:
Recreational Hate, (verb): to dislike intensely for small controlled periods of time; feel antipathy or aversion towards someone or something for more non-serious reasons during times that are not of a more serious nature; “I recreationally hate the Duke Blue Devils, but Coach K is a good guy.”
Ancient games, sports, and things like the 80’s pro wrestling use to be used as an outlet for such recreational hate.  People would go to cheer on the good guys and boo the bad guys. This was a great way to get this build up angry energy out of your system so we would be more civilized with each other in real life and about important things. Get all that energy out so that the more pressing matters of the day can be looked upon with a clearer head.
Sure, I’ve watched the Green Bay Packers play and wish Aaron Rodgers would get attacked by wolverines with chainsaws for arms that shot bees out of their mouths. I don’t really want this to happen to him (I’ve actually heard he’s a really nice guy) but during the game this is a pretty normal thing to say.  But more and more these days people bring this aggression with them after the game. They associate themselves with this anger and have trouble separating the two after this recreational ‘play date’ is over. This is especially present online. From Ghostbusters remakes to Call of Duty in-game chat we as society need to chill the fuck out about stuff that doesn’t really matter. We need to stop ingraining what we like so deep into our identities or forcing our opinions on others without first looking at how silly our own stances are. I mean come on dude, it’s just a game.
Stepping around the psychology of why people think it’s okay to make hate for frivolous things part of their identity (because that would be a book by itself that I am in no way qualified to write) let’s talk about how to possibly fix it. Because sometimes it only takes a small shift in our collective mindset as a culture to make a big change.
Keep hating and arguing and debating fiercely. I mean really ramp it up. Just do it for only set periods of time, over things that don’t really matter, and then let it go. No matter what.
This works for everything across the board:
  • Nerd arguments – playing video game, arguing who’s the best Batman, yelling at each other about what is the most popular anime series ever
  • Sports arguments – Yelling at your rival team, calls made by the refs, hating on the designated hitter rule
  • Personal arguments – Not hanging up shirts a certain way, chewing loudly, not walking the dog right after you get home
  • Professional arguments – Using excel when everyone else is on Google Sheets, having a weird cat picture as part of a company e-mail signature line, talking about a bad case of ’the Mondays’ every Monday morning 
Imagine if you could could say something a little off kilter, argumentative, or even down right mean (solely for entertainment purposes) to someone and know they would be cool with it afterwards since whatever discussion or monolog that was laid down wasn’t coming from a place of malice or ill intent. Sick burns, put downs, stupid inaccurate statements. None of it would matter a few minutes later.  Instant memory loss with a big bonus afterwards. That anger you where harboring, be it on the topic or more than likely something completely different, is gone. Drifted away on some cathartic cloud, never to be seen again. Also in the case when you say something that crossed the line of recreational hate the other party could let you know this without any fear of an angry retort or retribution on your end. This would lead to better communication and closer more open relationships with more people. And isn’t that what life is really about?
“If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. If you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.” – Issac Jaffe, Sports Night
That’s one of the larger upsides to recreational hate.  All the anger we feel about stupid stuff can be taken out in this way with no one needing to get hurt in the process. An eye for an eye, but you are not playing with real eyes. Right now when people are mad and want to take it out on someone they tend to leave a trail of angry people in their wake. Anger spreads and boy is it a vicious cycle.  Imagine reading Youtube comments knowing that all the angry comments where 100% BS.  Maybe theres even post-posts where people after getting their anger out share what they truly feel or what they are going through.
Commenter: “This sucks, you suck, your mom sucks, and I hope you all burn in hell for this shitty video!!!1!
Commenter: “Feeling better, thanks for letting me get that out. Been a rough day. Dog got sick and worried if he’ll get better soon.”
Video poster: “Sorry to hear that dude, hope things get better!”
Commenter: “Thanks, me too. Like your videos! ;)”
Video poster: “lol, soooo not happening. ;P”
If this could be the world we live in I welcome it. I want to find a way to make this happen. There will always be anger and hatred, but if we can focus it more towards things that don’t really matter and people know it’s just us getting some recreational hate out we would all be so much better. Both to give and receive.
It’s booing the opposing team for 3 hours and then everyone goes out for a beer.
It’s talking shit during e-league night and then trading game tips afterwards.
It’s the first part of Fight Club, before things get out of hand.
I grew up in New England and the closer you were to someone the worse things you would call them. It was a sign of trust and closeness since if you said a tenth of that to someone else you could do some real damage (as well as probably get punched in the face). How do we get some of this into other peoples lives?
Arguing and debating should be fun. Rap battles get it, so should we.  I want to go back to fights about what color a dress is.  If there is some way to get the word out to the angry masses about using recreational hate instead of real hate I think we could make some big waves. Create recreational hate zones, pre and post statements with saying it’s recreational hate (like saying “bless your heart” but with less sass), or start using the hashtag #RecHate. I don’t know but I think it’s worth exploring.
Post Script:
A final quick note on the elephants in the room here: politics and religion. If we can get our heads & hearts around the above items first then let’s go after these next.  My only piece of advice here is to our orange Creamsicle in Chief that so far has made a political career of hate and fear:  
“Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel” – Mark Twain

Just in Time for the Holidays! – A Darker Take on 5 Classic Christmas Songs

 It’s the holidays so of course like many others I’ve been listening to Christmas music. As I was doing this my mind started focusing more on some of the lyrics. I’ve sung these in elementary school plays, at family parties, or just to be annoying to friends while driving but never really dived into the lyrics. Just took them at face value of what they were. But this time I looked at them a bit …differently.
Winter Wonderland
This song is about a heist over the holidays that goes wrong
Sleigh bells ring
are you listening
in the lane
snow is glistening
A beautiful sight
we’re happy tonight
walking in a winter wonderland

This is a flash forward to the end of the heist after it goes horribly wrong. Like the opening scene of the first episode of Cowboy Bebop. Guy laying in a snowy alley with a bullet in him, bleeding out and laughing. Hearing bells coming from the street.

Gone away is the bluebird
here to stay is a new bird
He sings a love song
as we go along
walking in a winter wonderland
Guy is walking down a snowy street to meet up with his contact, sees a bird
In the meadow we can build a snowman
Then pretend that he is Parson Brown
He’ll say: Are you married?
we’ll say: No man
But you can do the job
when you’re in town

Guy meets contact at the old church in the meadow. Contact is disguised as a priest. They exchange code words so they know they can trust each other before “doing the job when you’re in town”.

Later on
we’ll conspire
as we dream by the fire
To face unafraid
the plans that we’ve made
walking in a winter wonderland
They meet up that night to go over the plans for the heist. Which is taking place at a holiday festival. A winter wonderland.
In the meadow we can build a snowman
and pretend that he’s a circus clown
We’ll have lots of fun with mister snowman
until the the other kids knock him down

‘Snowman’ is the nickname of the 3rd guy taking part in the heist. There is always some loose canon in a heist movie that screws it up for the team. Snowman is that guy and he is going to dress up in festive attire (maybe even santa) to district people and make a scene to attract the cops on duty so the other two who can head the other way to steal what they came for.  They have to be quick though since they only have until the cops take Snowman down and get back to paroling the festival.

When it snows
ain’t it thrilling
Though your nose gets a chilling
We’ll frolic and play
the Eskimo way
walking in a winter wonderland

The cops deal with Snowman quicker than planned and caught the guy and his accomplice in the middle of the heist. When the bullets start flying, it ain’t thrilling. Even with all the shooting the guy tries to still get away with what they came for while his accomplice jets off to save his life. The guy takes a few bullets in the process and manages to limp into the the alley a block from the festival and collapses to the ground.

Walking in a winter wonderland
walking in a winter wonderland
We go back to the first scene of the song as the guy dies.

Frosty the Snowman
This song is about a drug trip
Frosty the Snowman, was a jolly happy soul,
With a corn cob pipe and a button nose, and two eyes made of coal.

“Frosty the Snowman” is the street name of a popular drug that creates a feeling of euphoria

Frosty the Snowman, is a fairytale, they say.
He was made of snow, but the children know he came to life one day.

This person hears about what the effects of this drug and wants to give it a try

There must have been some magic in that old silk hat they found,
For when they placed it on his head, he began to dance around!
They score some on the dark web through the silk road. They then sit back and give it a try.
Oh, Frosty, the Snowman, was alive as he could be;
and the children say he could laugh and play,
just the same as you and me.
They are having the best trip of their life
Thumpety thump, thump, thumpety thump, thump,
look at Frosty go.
Their heart rate rises. They feel ever beat.
Thumpety thump, thump, thumpety thump, thump,
over the hills of snow.
Their heart rate rises even more. They start seeing shapes and colors.
Frosty the Snowman, knew the sun was hot that day,
so he said, “Let’s run, and we’ll have some fun now, before I melt away.”

At the peak of the trip “Frosty” makes a person burst with more energy than they can handle

Down to the village, with a broomstick in his hand,
Running here and there, all around the square,
sayin’, “Catch me if you can.”

They jump up, run out the door, and into the street

He led them down the streets of town, right to the traffic cop;
and only paused a moment, when he heard him holler, “Stop!”

They run full speed into a cop on the street. They try to hide that they were on any kind of drug when the cop starts to yell at them.

For Frosty, the Snowman, had to hurry on his way,
But he waved goodbye, sayin’ “Don’t cry, I’ll be back again some day.
Luckily the drug starts to wear off, and wear off quick, right about at this time. They were sad the experience was over but then remember where they could get some more.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town
This song is about government surveillance 
You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
‘Santa Clause’ is the code name for the program that tracks your every move in real life and online.  Everyone is aware this exists and lives in fear of not doing the right thing in the eyes of the government.
He’s making a list
And checking it twice
Gonna find out Who’s naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town

Police raids and other purges regularly happen in the city. Rounding up anyone who they deem a possible threat to the state.  When you hear that Santa Clause is coming to town there is only one thing you can do. Run.

He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

This is the mantra taught to school children so they learn at a young age that they need to stay in line and work hard. No one ever heard from little Timmy after that time he through a rock through the school house window.

O! You better watch out!
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
Santa Claus is coming to town
Always be good, sleep with one eye open, and pray Santa does not come to your town any time soon.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
This song is about the gentrification of a neighborhood
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas 
Ev’rywhere you go; 
Take a look in the five-and-ten, glistening once again 
With candy canes and silver lanes aglow. 
‘Christmas’ in this scenario refers to all the changes happening in the neighborhood. The old five-and-ten shop has been rebuilt to attract the young professionals in the area after the original owners where forced to leave after their rent was increased 400%.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, 
Toys in ev’ry store, 
But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be
On your own front door. 
All the local stores have new items to purchase, if you can afford the new higher prices that is.  ‘Holly’ is the nickname of the neighborhood watch group who comes around and hollers at the homeless to get them out of people’s doorways.
A pair of hopalong boots and a pistol that shoots 
Is the wish of Barney and Ben; 
Dolls that will talk and will go for a walk 
Is the hope of Janice and Jen; 
And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again.
What everyone is most excited for are all the new places opening up soon. ‘Hop along boots’ is a southern Korean BBQ fusion restaurant and ‘Dolls that will talk’ is a new bar where dogs get their own bar stools. Parents can’t wait to get their kids started at the new local schools being built in the area so they can spend more time at all these new hot places.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Ev’rywhere you go;
There’s a tree in the Grand Hotel, one in the park as well,
The sturdy kind that doesn’t mind the snow.
The changes are being seen everywhere, no block seems to be spared. Even the historic Grand Hotel. Which is being torn down to create a new park for food trucks and a local farmers market.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas;
Soon the bells will start,
And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing
Right within your heart.
The new bicycle meet up groups are now adding this neighborhood as part of their travels. Which the new people moving in love since local DJs have been known to remix the sounds of their bike bells for the weekend speak-easy after-work post-parties.

Let it snow
This song is about slowly dyeing in a bomb shelter
Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we’ve no place to go
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
Deep underground a group tries to best ignore the bombardment above. Staring at a wall sized painting depicting a fireplace scene during Christmas.
It doesn’t show signs of stopping
And I’ve bought some corn for popping
The lights are turned way down low
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
The bombing has been going on for days now. The power generator is starting to run low on fuel but there are still a lot of rations on hand. 
When we finally kiss good night
How I’ll hate going out in the storm!
But if you’ll really hold me tight
All the way home I’ll be warm
One of the bombing runs has caused part of the building above to cover the shelter door trapping everyone inside. What is left of the group huddles together in the main hall since it is the last room with working power and heat.
The fire is slowly dying
And, my dear, we’re still goodbying
But as long as you love me so
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
The final person left alive is breathing the last amounts of air in the shelter. The lack of oxygen to the brain has lead them to a delusional state where they start to see people who have already died. The last thing they see as the air runs out is the snow fall depicted on the wall sized Christmas painting.
Happy Holidays!

Rogue One: A Star Wars Fan Story

Warning: Some minor spoilers
There is so much to talk about regarding Rogue One. Ive already read a lot just in the past few hours this morning and looking forward to reading even more. So not to double up on any of the main discussions going around I wanted to instead share something from the overall feeling I took away from this film.
I really, really enjoyed Rogue One. Like REALLY enjoyed it. When it ended I found myself with tears in my eyes, both my hands shaking, my heart rate sky spiking, and barely being able to speak in complete sentences. This wasn’t 100% from the amazingly action packed final 20 mins of the movie, it did most certainly help, but from something else that I couldn’t put my finger on at the moment. Ive had 12 hours to ponder on this feeling and I think I’ve figured out what it was.
This was a less a feeling of enjoying a new Star Wars film and more like visiting some where that feels so familiar but you’ve never been to before. Like going back to where you grew up many years later and even though a lot has changed you can still see the framework of the town that was. A feeling similar to deja vu but when you are aware that this is something different and not exactly what was before. A strong emotional link between something from the past and something in the present. Let’s call it “newstalgia”.
I’ve watched ‘A New Hope’ more times than I can count. I was 3 months old when it first hit theaters in 1977 so I’ve had decades to ware away multiple VHS tapes, DVDs, and even Blu-rays of this film with so many revisits. Almost every time I clean our house I still throw in one of the films from the original trilogy. So to say New Hope is engrained in to my life is an understatement.
When Rogue One’s credits first started to roll and I turned into a big ball of goo I thought I was being overwhelmed by a new Star Wars film that made New Hope an even better film (which I do think it did and is worth it’s own blog post) and all the call backs to Episode IV where just triggering so fast that I couldn’t process everything that just happened fast enough. I also thought that I might have been a bit punch drunk going into seeing the film since in the past 2 weeks I had been on 5 flights across two times zones and not had much sleep during this time as well. After some more reflection, sleep, and whiskey I landed on these not being the main causes for clutching my girlfriend’s hand all through the credits like I was afraid I going to float away. It was newstalgia.
When finding out why the first Death Star had such a big design flaw. Newstalgia.
When seeing new scenes of Grand Moff Tarkin, Darth Vader, & Mon Mothma. Newstalgia.
When watching Rebels die trying to pass along the plans on an invaded ship. Newstalgia.
When finally putting all the pieces together that link the new with the old and you feel them merge together in that place inside you where you keep all those wonderful memories for the old and it feels like being plugged into the Matrix and suddenly getting new DLC for Ms. Pac-Man. Newstalgia.

How Goku Became My Homeboy

I recently had the pleasure of being part of Derek Padula’s book Dragon Soul: 30 Years of Dragon Ball Fandom. A new book revealing the personal stories about Dragon Ball from 108 fans and professionals from 25 countries around the world. Derek was kind enough to let me share with you one of the questions I answered in the book on this blog.  This is the story about how I first got into Dragon Ball Z. Spoiler alert: I wasn’t a fan in the beginning. Hell, I use to actively be against the series as you will read below.
If you enjoy this story and would like to read more from people like Mike McFarland, Christopher Sabat, or Sean Schemmel I recommend you picking up a copy today.
Q: When did you first experience Dragon Ball, and how has it changed your life?
I think how I first got into Dragon Ball Z will surprise most people.
I first collided with DBZ back in the late 90’s when it was getting its first run on US TV and I was still in college. I say ‘collided’ here since I heard about the show before I ever saw it. I was working at a local comic book retailer in Arlington, TX and would run into people regularly who would go on and on about DBZ all the time. I was the ‘anime guy’ at the store so naturally they all would be filtered my way. Which I wasn’t the happiest about. I disliked DBZ before I ever saw an episode.
A little backstory here. I have been into anime for as long as I can remember. Around this time I was getting a bit too high on the horse about anime being ‘art,’ and anything below that should be ignored. Not my proudest moment, and I’m so glad I got past this notion.  I kept this opinion on DBZ for a bit and wasn’t afraid to share it with my friends when outside of work. I railed on the series enough that I was even asked to sit on a few anime con panels to speak against the show. Over the next few years my negative opinion of the series lessened. Not because I finally sat down and watched it, but because I just stopped thinking about it and it wasn’t coming up as much as it used to.
It wasn’t until I got my first job out of college that I would collide again with DBZ. This was as the Hummer driver and Tour Manager for the DBZ Collectable Card Game. “You totally sold out!” one of my friends said. To which I replied, “Yes, but for a good price.” What I meant by that was that I was about to get paid to drive around the country in a Hummer playing card games and hanging out with voice actors. I would have done the same thing for Rainbow Brite if I were asked too.
I thought to myself I would just ‘deal with’ being surrounded by DBZ all the time. That it was all worth it. Little did I know that before the end of my first tour that I would forever have a strong bond to the series. My main job on the tour was going to a new city each week to promote a mall event that Saturday with voice actors, game demos, giveaways, and the Hummer right in the middle of the mall. The rest of the week was spent getting everything prepped for this and promoting the event that weekend. I would go to card shops and anime stores to make appearances with the Hummer, pass out free stuff, and talk to people there about the mall event. This is where things first began to click for me with DBZ.
It was an H1 military grade Hummer covered in Dragon Ball Z characters, so I totally understood their excitement. But they were also excited to see me as well, which was something I didn’t expect. I mean, I just drove the thing and talked about our upcoming promotions. I’ve always been good for pumping up a crowd, but this was still marketing 101 stuff I assure you. They were excited to see me even before I got a chance to talk with them about anything. This happened everywhere I went, no matter what part of the country I was in.
I soon discovered something about DBZ that had never crossed my mind before. That is, it has a sense of community. Being a fan of the show brought people closer together instead of driving them apart. This was unlike my snootier ‘anime is art and anything below that should be ignored’ days where things were more exclusive than inclusive. Seeing DBZ bring so many people together with such happiness was not only refreshing, it was exhilarating.
I’ll admit I was a little embarrassed that by this point in time I could count on one hand how many DBZ episodes I had actually watched. I was traveling 100% of the time and wasn’t going to be back home for 3 months, so there was no real chance to sit down and marathon the series. So I did something that’s popular now but was a new idea back in 2001. I crowd-sourced the information.
If you know DBZ fans, then you know they will be happy to tell you anything and everything about the series. The story, characters, what was the best fight, whose death made them cry, who they most idolized, or who was their secret crush. Everything poured out of them, no matter the age, with such passion and love. So what was a better source for information than the fans I was now surrounded with on a daily basis? Over the next few months I coyly asked questions about the series. I was afraid to straight up ask about the show and admit I didn’t know much about it. I didn’t want to make anyone feel bad that a representative of the show and card game they loved so much was a total phony. I was always waiting for a Holden Caulfield in a Goku shirt to call me out.Luckily if anyone did catch on they were kind enough not to say anything.
By the time the first tour ended I was well versed in the series. By no means an expert, but enough to know I was no longer talking out of my ass when asked how to do the fusion dance. I’ll leave you with the main thing I learned from this experience: Don’t be too quick to write off anything in your life until you have tried to experience it from as many sides as possible. You might find something unexpected and wonderful out there. Like I did, with Dragon Ball.

Wait… that’s it!?! (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

This is the end... right?
When Mad Men ended a few weeks back the final episode was something that had many people talking, myself included. Some loved it, some hated it, some didn’t quite know what to make of it. I’ll admit I had to run it through my head for a few days to solidify my final thoughts on the episode and the series as a whole. No matter what you thought about the ending it does bring a thought to mind about how much endings matter to a series. TV series, book trilogy, album discography, etc. How much does ‘sticking the landing’ effect everything else that happened before?
I’ve been an anime fan for a long time and not getting the ending you want, or one at all for that matter, comes with the territory. I’m actually surprised half the time when I get closer on something here.  Deadman Wonderland leads you to read the manga to complete the story, the third season of Rurouni Kenshin was basically bad fan fiction, and then we have a great ending with Space Dandy which was unexpected for how sporadic the series was overall.  I share this to say that my overall perspective on how important ending are is a bit skewed. If it’s 98% done well they can still count me in for liking the series. Similar thinking to when working on Jaws Steven Spielberg told Peter Benchley, the author of the original book, who was saying that you couldn’t blow up a shark by shooting an air tank in it’s mouth and making it explode, “I’ve had them for 118 minutes, I can have them for 2 more.”
I think this question stirs a wonderful debate because there really isn’t a right answer. It all depends on your expectations, how well the series lead up to the finale, or how much story ‘Kool-Aid’ you’ve drank before its over. I would like to say I’ve found some semblance of a trend over the years but it seems less a venn diagram and more spin art.  I’ve picked a few titles to talk about that’s endings are normally as much a part of discussions of the series as the series itself is.
So so Lost
I’m betting you thought I was going to lead with the end of The Sopranos right? I didn’t finish watching the series so going with something that seems to have just as much popular dislike for the ending.
I liked the first few seasons of Lost, then it became a delicious train wreak up until the end. I do know people who loved the series all the way through for not-WTF factors as well so there is plenty of room to debate the series on the whole of course. From my perspective the series finale jumped shark (which was hard to do since jumping the shark had been a staple for a few years now so I came to expect it by now) on the last episode. The people I talked to about the final episode who loved the series still were a bit miffed by it’s ending. This didn’t seem to sway them from enjoying the series as a whole though.
Stephen King’s The Dark Tower
The Dark Tower series took Stephen King over 20 years to write. 7 books that seemed to get thicker as the series went on. I started reading these in high school and can highly recommend the first three books in the series if you are looking for a fun action packed post-apocalyptic story to read. The series mellows out as it progresses. By the time I got to the final book I was mostly reading to see how the story would end. For anyone who has read this series just bring up the ending can make the hairs on their neck stand on end.
I’ll keep this to the minimum of spoilers here in case you haven’t read the series. When you get to the end of the book there is a conclusion to the story, but not everything you want answered is answered. Very similar to the ending of Mad Men. King has a brief chapter after the book ends that he wrote for people who have to have a full ending of a story. King leads in to this chapter with a page basically stating “you really don’t want to read this so I recommend you stop here.” This alternate ending gives you more closer but also makes you want to throw the book at the wall afterwards. I of course read this ending but don’t consider it the main ending of the series since King is clearly trolling people who can’t live with not having all the answers to a story. I ended up being satisfied with the original ending overall. Would have liked to have been given more but can live without it none the less.
LCL smells like OJ
Neon Genesis Evangelion
I can already hear a lot of you saying, “which ending are you referring to?” so let’s talk about both the TV series ending and End of Evangelion. Neon Genesis Evangelion was a ground breaking anime series from the mid to late 90’s that is still talked about today. The final two episode of the TV series went from epic giant robot battles and the internal struggle of teenagers at the end of the world to something that looked like it was produced by a 32-box of crayons and a script written on the back of napkins. After making it through all this the ending felt so different from the rest of the series it was hard to adapt to such a juxtaposition. The studio that produced the series seemed to feel the same way, basically pretended these didn’t exist, and made a movie to end the series.
The end of End of Evangelion had all the wonderful feelings of global annihilation and school kids singing. To say it was a trip is like saying the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey was ‘colorful’.  I personally love this movie. It’s one of my favorite anime films of all time. I do see though how the film, and ending of the film, have lead many people to discuss the series as a whole. Overall I don’t see many people not liking the series because of either ending but it sure is something brought up from a WTF perspective from many angles.
I do enjoy the debate that comes from endings like this. How much of the internet is devoted just for these sort of debates? If anything this puts out a conflict discussion that’s just silly enough to get heated over but has little to no real consequences.
Chuck Jones is a god

“I may regret the way we ended, but I will never regret what we had.”
― Drake (not the rapper)

Which series finales stand out most to you as departing from what lead up to it? How did these endings effect your perceptions and enjoyment of the full series?  I would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below or feel free to hit me up on Twitter at @neumaverick.

Star Wars is the 90’s Bulls of Pop Culture

I watched the final score on the Bulls/Cavs Game 6 playoff game last Thursday night come across my phone and sighed. It was official, the Bulls were knocked out of the playoffs again. As I saw this I noticed three guys dressed as storm troopers walk through the lobby of the hotel. I was at an anime con at the time of the game. I’m not sure how the thought first came into my head. Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t want to think about how LeBron James had again knocked Chicago out of a run for the title or the fact that the three storm troopers were trying to pose for a jumping high five ala an 80’s TV show credit role and weren’t quit sticking the landing. But it was in there and it spent most of the weekend in the back of my mind being milled over.
Star Wars is the 90’s Bulls of pop culture.
For those who are not familiar with the Chicago Bulls of the 1990’s they were one of the most dominant teams the history of the NBA. Six championships in 10 years. Lead by Micheal Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and the zen master Phil Jackson as their coach.
In the early 70’s the studio system in Hollywood was getting stagnant and profits were down. The studio execs were desperate and started to hire untested young directors for all types of  new kinds of films. George Lucas and Star Wars were one of these.  When Star Wars hit the theaters in 1977 it broke the mold of what a movie could do. A strong set of characters, a larger than life world never seen before, and it left audiences with a new expectation of what they wanted to see when going to the theater. The Bulls started something similar staring in 1991.
The late 80’s were a great time for basketball but there lacked a finesse that made it hard for new fans to want to jump in and watch. The Celtic and Lakers dynasties were starting to age and the Detroit ‘Bad Boys’ Pistons were not the family friendly type of team you took your kids to see. Then in ’91 the Bulls beat the Lakers in the NBA Championships and everything started to change. They won two more championships in 1992 and 1993. Their first of two three-petes and an new generation of basketball fans were born.
Star Wars changes movies forever and the Bulls lead the NBA into a new era.
When The Empire Strikes Back came out the whole world was excited with anticipation. How could any film follow A New Hope though? How do you meet those expectations? Most sequels don’t. They are usually shells of the original film that are made just to squeeze some extra cash out of a franchise.  Luckily for all of us Empire delivered in a big way. Considered by many to be the best of all the films.  It not only met expectations, but destroyed them.
In 1993 Micheal Jordan shocked the sports world and announced his retirement from basketball. The Bulls struggled without him being there. Another championship looked out of the question. Then just as surprising as Jordan leaving he came back in the middle of the ’95 season. This lead them to the greatest regular season record in NBA history (72 wins, 10 loses) and another championship in 1996.
Return of the Jedi was a great closer to the original trilogy though most people will lean towards the first two being the better of the films. Great battles on the ground, in space, and with their greatest enemies leading to a climactic end of giant explosions and dancing around bonfires. New characters were met and some old ones said their farewells.
The Bulls clinched their second three-pete by winning two more championships in 1997 and 1998. The team added more all-star players like Europe’s top player Toni Kukoc and the always controversial rebounding machine Dennis Rodman. The team was firing on all cylinders but this was the beginning of the end. After the 98 season Phil Jackson left Chicago, Jordan retired for a second and final time, and many of the other players were about to become free-agents and sign with other teams.
The end of end era, cut to credits with a John Williams score or The Outfield playing “Winning it All”.

Player vs Character Comparison

Micheal Jordan is considered one of, if not the, greatest player to ever play basketball. I feel he encompasses the group of Luke, Leia, and Han. The key trio that lead the rebels to over come the empire were MJ finally getting past the rough & tumble play of the Pistons and passing the then king of the NBA Magic Johnson to win his first title.
Scottie Pippen was one of the best wing men to have for Jordan. He’s Chewbaca and Lando all wrapped up in one guy who knew when to pass the rock and always ready to pull the ears of a Gundark at any given moment. A life debt and a bond to never be broken.
Phil Jackson will always be my Yoda. The zen master invented the triangle offense and taught his players through focus and determination.
“In basketball — as in life — true joy comes from being fully present in each and every moment, not just when things are going your way.”
– Phil Jackson
“You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.”
– Yoda
Toni Kukoc came off the bench as the best ’sixth man’ on the team and was the R2-D2 of the Bulls. When you needed someone to step up and score when Jordan or Pippen were being double teamed he was your man. When you needed someone to shut down all the trash compactors on the detention level R2 was your droid.
Dennis Rodman made just as many headlines off the court as he did on it. Boba Fett was his spirt guide. Fett showed up, said two lines, and walked off cooler than the other side of the pillow. Rodman didn’t need to step up and be bigger than Micheal Jordan, he just needed to make rebounds …and wear feathered boas while riding a motorcycle …with green hair …in a wedding dress.

Sadly the Bulls haven’t won a championship since 1998. The early 2000’s saw some really bad teams. Sounds familiar right? The Star Wars prequel trilogy left many of us in tears and were quite happen when Disney came and took the franchise from Uncle George’s green-screen-Jar-Jar-special-editon-dance-game-angry-birds hands.
I have hope for what JJ Abrams is doing with The Force Awakens. The trailers look great and from what we’re seeing this next chapter of the Star Wars universe could be quite enjoyable.  Just like the present day Bulls lead by the amazing, yet a bit more injured than I would like, Derrick Rose. This season there were high hopes for a championship, and next season looks good too I will say.
I hope a new dynasty starts soon, for Star Wars and the Chicago Bulls. I believe this because I want to stop looking back at both of these franchise’s golden age as being a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Rolling 20s with your Role Model

Rolling 20s
When I was 8 I wanted to be a truck. Not just any truck but a red Kenworth K100 so bad ass that when it showed up you knew things were going to be alright. Of course I’m speaking of Optimus Prime. After an episode of The Transformers you could find me running out the door with my friends making Transformer noises, jumping over imaginary barriers, shooting the invisible hoards of Decepticons scattered around the backyard.
I will add that back then after watching almost any tv show or movie that I thought was amazing I could almost always find some character to bond with. Causing me to run around with the same vigor and boundless imagination as mentioned above.  Swinging around a broom like a lightsaber making whooshing sounds, running from imaginary giant boulders in the woods on a treasure hunt, or looking for ghosts with a PKE meter made from an old remote and some cardboard.  I’m sure many of you have had similar experiences.  
Going back to Optimus, there are some characters that stand out more than just an imaginary friend or the toy you always took with you on vacation. Some play a bigger role that you might not have realized back when you were a kid. A role that would help set you on a path to being a better person. The role of a role model.
First, I don’t want to discount any real life role models. Family members, friends, public figures, etc. These can of course be an amazing source for finding a role model. Here though we are going to talk about the kind that are not flesh and blood. More like ink and memorable voice acting.
A good role model is ‘a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated’ as the internet tells me.  There are many of these kinds of characters in pop culture. Characters to guide us and teach us how to be better than we currently are. Show us how to stand up taller, be stronger, and to care about others more than ourselves.
Superman being a badass
Role Models Breakdown & Examples
  • Hard working – Peter Parker/Spider-Man
    • Saving NYC from everything under the sun and still able to punch the clock as a photographer for Daily Bugle with only being yelled at by your boss every other day. That takes a work ethic on a level most of us won’t dare attempt on our good days after 5 cups of coffee.
  • Creative problem solver – Sherlock Homes
    • Any version of Sherlock Homes owns at problem solving. From the classic books to Cumberbatch. “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” I’m betting he pre-solves Rubix Cubes in his sleep.
  • Open minded – Samus Aran
    • Samus lead the charge when it came to the extermination of the Metroids. You would think she would never side, let alone protect, a Metroid. If you have played Super Metroid you probably well remember the climactic final boss fight that can be summed up as, ‘Get away from her you bitch: rainbow laser beam edition’.
  • Brave – Kamina
    • Three words: Pierce. The. Heavens.  Determined to always keep moving forward and protect his friends no matter what they were up against. Always the first to run into a fight or push forward to make his goals a reality. “Whether impossible or laughable, we continue to walk the path of men!” Dude was hardcore with a capital H.
  • Have a good conscience – Clark Kent/Superman
    • Truth, justice, and the American way. Do I really need to say more about the ultimate boy scout? There has been some darker storylines in the pantheon of Superman but at the very core of the man of steel he full of absolute goodness.
Over all the importance of a role model is generally expected to decrease as one gets older. The lessons and the feelings can still remain but asking yourself ‘What would He-Man do?” during a meeting on quarterly budgets with your boss might not be the best idea. One of those, “When I was a child I thought as a child; but when I grew up I put my childish things on eBay” situations. If you are reading this I’m betting that might not be the case for you. For some reason us in fandom tend to carry our feelings, attachments, and overall love for what others might call ‘kids stuff’ longer than most. The same tends to go for role models.
I'm a TRU kid
I’m not going to dive too far into the idea of how pop culture has changed the growth patterns of Americans over the past few decades leading us to never really growing up because that’s a much longer topic than we have time for today. I do want to briefly discuss why we choose the role models that stay with us through out the years.  What makes us hold true to Yoda’s teachings and not Snake Eyes? Why find strength from Sailor Moon and not Jem? When does the calming voice in your head sound like Yuna and not Zelda?
In my humble opinion it’s because of specific personal moments in your life with a character. These could be as big as your Rainbow Brite blanket was the only thing you could save from a house fire or as small as you ate Nintendo Cereal every morning for a year and preferred the Mario side over the Zelda side.
Dreams with in dreams
These kind of moments puts a seed in your heart that grows into something much larger. A moment that you go back to when needing comfort, guidance, strength, and whatever other emotions you have tied to it.  The role model becomes a totem for this moment and all your feelings associated with it. A stronger bond is solidified, not to be broken easily.  Not even by Micheal Bay or Joel Schumacher.
Oh the humanity!
What are the role models you had when you were young that you still hold dear to and what makes them special to you? I would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below or feel free to hit me up on Twitter at @neumaverick.

Upgrade to the latest version of your beloved past today

A Link between two games
Near the end of 2013 Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. The proverbial follow up to their mega-hit, and my personal favorite in the series, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Link to the Past was one of my favorite SNES games ever so when I heard they were basically releasing a love letter to it there was no way I could pass on playing this game. Hell, I got the Zelda exclusive 3DS solely for this reason.
After completing Link Between Worlds I thought about how great this game was from start to finish.  To my surprise this left me with a strange and uneasy feeling. Which made no sense at the time and the more I thought about it the worse it would get. This game was EXACTLY what I dreamed it would be. It delivered on all fronts. Great game play, music, story, and had everything I loved about Link to the Past at its core.  Using everything the 3DS had to offer this game surpassed its predecessor with ease. So this meant that Link Between Worlds was my new forgive Zelda title right?  Logic should deem this would be the case, but I just wasn’t willing to bump Link to the Past off its throne. I actually started to feel bad about how I was feeling shortly after making this realization. What was fogging my logic here? What was I clinging to with Link to the Past that I wasn’t ready to let go of yet? I’ve not usually one to fight change or growth.
In a word: Nostalgia.
Best. Christmas. Ever!
I’m betting many of you have felt nostalgic towards something. That warm fuzzy feeling associated to some item, event, or place that when you take a moment to think about it you can’t help but smile. Or as Don Draper put it in one of my favorite ad pitches from Mad Men, “Nostalgia – it’s delicate, but potent. It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone.”
My feelings of nostalgia are very strong with Link to the Past. Heck, even as I type this I’m watching a walkthrough of the game on YouTube. I love to write to old school video game walkthroughs. ^_^  I knew my nostalgia for Link to the Past was strong but when presented with pretty much the same game as if it was made today instead of back in 1991 I in no way thought it would jump in to block its successor. Like an old king past his prime not ready to pass the crown to the next in line.
This lead me to think about how powerful a role nostalgia can play when looking at updates and remakes of beloved entertainment properties.
A tale of two Battlestars
Battlestar Galactica is a good example. The original series is highly loved by those who grew up with it back in the last 70’s. I caught this in syndication in the early 80’s so I enjoyed the series but never tied too much nostalgia to it. When the new Battlestar series launched in 2004 to great praise I remember talking with some people who grew up on the original series about it. They were enjoying the relaunch but just couldn’t detach their feelings for it away from the original series. I saw the same unsure looks on their faces I had after finishing Link Between Worlds.
This was more than just fear of change, it felt closer to a fear of loosing those good feelings tied to the past. I don’t think any of us actually believe that remaking or continuing something will negate past emotional connections but still these feelings spring up.
Does marathoning Super Mario Bros. U in an afternoon take away the time when you and your cousins played Super Mario 3 for an entire summer? Does Seeing Evangelion 2.22: You Can [Not] Advance at an anime convention lessen the semester in college when you hosted Neon Genesis Evangelion discussion groups in your dorm? Of course not. Then why do we sometimes still feel this way, maybe only on an unconscious level, even when we know it not to be true?  This seems to be something deeper.
I have a theory on the possible cause for this. We are all still inherently tied to a 40,000+ year old piece of nostalgia that as a species we haven’t found a way to let go of yet. Stay with me.
Why Homer will never give up donuts and beer
The Amygdala or ‘lizard brain’ as it’s sometimes called is at fault here. This is a set of neurons in the brain that controls many of our emotions and motivations such as fear, anger, and pleasure. It is responsible for determining what memories are stored in the brain and is believed to also determine how strong of an emotional response an event invokes as well. In short, the amygdala keeps you alive by tying pain and pleasure signals to memories and doesn’t like to rewrite or rewire anything it doesn’t have to.
Part of the Amygdala’s functions is focused towards loss eversion, so you can be quite sure it will go totally agro when challenged. Using my Zelda experience as an example let’s walk through this theory.
  • I played Link to the Past when I was younger. Video games were very enjoyable, scarce, and important to me
    • Amygdala creates a strong tie between Link to the Past and the time I first played it
    • Events grow into nostalgia over the next few decades
  • I played Link Between Worlds as an adult. Video games are still very enjoyable, but a lot more accessible, and not as important as they use to be
    • Amygdala seems similar emotions and triggers with Link to the Past
    • Create pain signals to override logic to stop any chances of damaging the ties it created with Link to the Past
A survival mechanism at its best. Seriously, evolution is pretty bad ass to build this kind of emotional fire wall.
What do you think? When the feeling of nostalgia is threatened, is it part of our lizard brain that causes us to feel a bit defensive about something new? Have you ever experienced this feeling with a remake or update to something you have a special place in your heart for? I would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below or feel free to hit me up on Twitter at @neumaverick.

I Like You, But I Don’t ‘Like Like’ You

blog #1 Header
This all started when my girlfriend told me to check out a new show this season called Empire. She isn’t really too into most TV dramas so the fact that she was really into this one grabbed my attention.  I gave it a few episodes. I could see why people like it. It’s basically King Lear told via the modern day music industry. A very cool choice for Fox I would say.  But at the end of the day, it just didn’t grab me.  I’m already at my ‘TV time’ max for new shows to watch this season so I decided to let this one go.
She still loves it, and the unprecedented ratings growth shows that many others do as well. Am I missing out here? Not getting into a solid show that is getting more popular each week. On paper I can see this is a good show but it just didn’t pull me in like it did for her.  All the while though I have been super happy for her enjoyment of it and all it’s success. It is great to see something a little fresher on network tv.
This got me thinking. “Am I enjoying the enjoyment others are having for this show?” Yes, it seems like I was. Which lead me to ask, “Is this really even a thing?” I was so unsure of this idea at first I didn’t even know how to properly search for more info.
Google search WTF
This lead me to looking into possible words used to describe this phenomenon. At one point I was looking for antonyms of ‘Schadenfreude’. Schadenfreude as some of you might be aware is German for, “The joy or pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.” With a little digging I found something that I thought would work. The Buddhist word for the concept of unselfish joy: ‘Mudita’.
Mudita means, “Especially sympathetic or vicarious joy. The pleasure that comes from delighting in other people’s well-being rather than begrudging it.” Wow, that’s just perfect!
I also think this being a Buddhist word adds strength to it being the right choice here. The way we come to enjoy the specific things that others enjoy can sometimes feel like we are on a path to some form of entertainment enlightenment that could end up leading us somewhere else all together.

Take Parks & Recreation for example.  I gave this show many, many tries but just couldn’t find its spark. I know, I’m a monster.  But what started out as a journey to find enjoyment lead me to a path of respect and understanding. Not as much of the show but of why people enjoy it. Its great writing, wonderful cast, etc.

 Broad City, Girls, Love Live: School Idol Project. These also fit into this category for me.
Another way of looking at this is when finding something you had an excitement for before fully diving into the content but after doing so being left feeling a little empty. Sure, this can happen when something is overhyped but I’m talking about situations with confirmed quality content.
For example, I’ve never been able to feel the euphoria others have from listening to David Bowie’s early work. He is hands down an amazing artist and I enjoy his music at times but nothing every gave me the ‘wow factor’ feeling outside of playing Ziggy Stardust on Rock Band 3.
Prince, Patlabor 2, Charles Dickens. All great, but are in the same boat as Bowie for me in this situation.
Have you ever experienced the feeling of mudita?
If so I would love to hear about it in the comments below or feel free to hit me up on Twitter at @neumaverick.