Pandas Are Cool. Deal With It.

Ever since BlizzCon, when the expansion and the playable race were revealed, I’ve read a lot about Kung Fu Pandas.

I’ve never felt the desire to comment about Pandas before now, but there seems to be a rising narrative that I want to rebut and rebuke before it simply becomes “what everyone thinks” from inertia and a lack of pushback.

It feels stupid to even acknowledge the ignorance, but what the hell. It’s annoying me, I’m not seeing anyone address it, and whether you feel what I say about it is appropriate or accurate or not, I’ll feel better for having said it.

The playable race is Pandas. Pandas are cool. Deal with it.

I’ve seen people talk about how they hate the pandas, the idea of pandas, how stupid pandas are, multiple references to Kung Fu Panda, and my personal favorite, repeated statements that nobody out there wants to play a panda as a heroic character because they’re fat and stupid and uncool and, like, whatever.


First off, and my biggest point.

Speak for yourself. Don’t speak to what “everyone” thinks, or “everyone” wants, because you just come across sounding like what that shit is: stupid or ignorant or both.

All you can speak towards is what YOU think. You’ve got no idea what other people think. All you know is what you think in your head, and what you’ve seen people publicly say in the locations you go to.

If you surround yourself with alcoholics, and then ask if drinking is the best thing ever, you’re going to get a certain point of view. It’ll likely be damn close to unanimous in favor of the awesomeness of booze. Ask that same question at an AA meeting, and you’ll likely get a different answer.

So just shut up about telling us what “everyone” thinks based on what you think coupled with the opinions you’ve read in the places you frequent. Or, as I like to put it, stop giving us your knowledge learned in the school of “What some guy said in a pub.”

I’m saying you’re full of shit, in case I’m being too vague. You not only don’t speak for everyone, you CAN’T speak for everyone. Nor can you speak for a majority of people, about ANYTHING.

What, you did a Rasmussen poll? Who did you contact? Where? The forums? Oh yeah, that’s representative of the playerbase as a whole. Some blog? Your college dorm friends? What is your sampling size? What backgrounds and demographics are represented?

This goes for every damn thing out there. I don’t care what the topic is. Shit, even if we’re talking cannibalism. You can assume that nobody in the entire world is in favor of cannibalism, but you don’t KNOW. All you really know is what you think and what you feel inside your own head, and sometimes you don’t even know that.

Haven’t you ever heard of repressed feelings, and living in denial?

Maybe eveyone in the world secretly wonders what people taste like, but nobody dares to mention it for fear of being thought a freak. You don’t really know? Do you? 

If you want to say something about what you think, say what you think. Don’t try to bolster your argument by acting like everyone else thinks the same as you, if you disagree you’re not cool. Outsider, unclean, conform, conform.

Bullshit. Yes, speak your mind. If you think pandas suck, fine. Say so, loud and long, based on YOUR thoughts and feelings.

But don’t tell me that “everyone else thinks they suck, too”. Red flag, BULLSHIT ALERT. BULLSHIT ALERT.

Let’s move on to more Panda-specific ranting, on the race and on role playing in general.

People say Pandas aren’t cool. Aren’t neat. Are stupid as a playable race.

Here is where tastes divurge.

I think Pandas in general look pretty cool. When I see them hugging a tree, or eating a piece of sugarcane, I go “d’awww.” So cute! For all I know they might be mean little buggers in real life, with nasty claws and a bad temper. No idea.

More specifically, I think the Pandaran race in World of Warcraft looks very cool. When you see them in motion, there is a graceful flow to them that is very nice. I made a male Panda Warrior, and the two handed sword combat looks super-cool. It brings back fond memories of watching old Kung Fu movies when I was a child.

They are very graceful, without being explosions of macho muscle. They seem deadly like a keen edge, not a battering ram. And yet, the males Pandaren are physically huge, without being aggressively muscular.

So, you don’t think they’re cool? I do. I’ve given some reasons already, and I’ll have more further down. If your reason for why they’re not cool is to say, “Well, duh, ’cause they’re pandas” I say, not good enough. Back it up.

Now, I’m going to really delve into my own personal opinion on role playing games, playing, and what I think is at the heart of all the panda hate as a race.

Total speculation, my opinion, based on my own personal experiences playing pen and paper role playing games for many years, both in High School and for eight years with Marines that also played.

I know some people play role playing games to live vicariously through the lives of their characters.

I have known people I’ve played with who heavily invested themselves in the character they created. They played their character to feel things and do things, and act in ways through their character that they either could not or would not in the real world.

These were characters, yes, but they were also surrogate selves. They were the people my friends wished they were, or were like, instead of the reality.

Some of them, yes, played their character to feel powerful and badass. Some of them were Marines I’ve known. It may surprise you, but Marines can feel powerless and ineffective in the real world too. They played to feel some control, some power, some feeling of success.

I’m not just guessing. Some of my good friends and I would bullshit about this stuff all the time, they knew they did it, and copped to it. In some cases, freely admitted that they did it as a stress relief. Work may have really sucked and the Sergeant has been giving them a ration of shit lately, by damn let’s get this game going, I want to blow some shit up.

I say, good. Whatever you do that helps you feel better, and doesn’t involve hurting other people is just fine with me.

I’d much rather someone feel powerful by playing a badass in an RPG than that they get out on the open road in a 2 ton car and decide that by God they were going to make people fear them today and touch someone else’s life whether they like it or not.

It’s not just about feelings of power or control, either.

I’ve also known people that had a public face, professional, restrained, even proper, but when playing a role-playing game felt safe enough or free enough to act completely different than they ‘normally’ would. To be flirty or unrestrained, as one example, but also to act loud and brash, or argumentative and bullheaded instead of going along to get along, or other behaviors that they just didn’t feel right doing in real life.

Part of role playing is it’s not real. It’s a safe environment to let you do shit you yourself don’t do in the real world, because that’s not who you really are, but let’s pretend for a short time.

Sometimes, how you or someone else acts in the anonymity of the internet isn’t who you really are inside, it might be someone you are exploring being, a path not taken, someone you’ve never been, just to try it on where it’s ‘make-believe’. What else IS role playing, if not trying on something that ain’t really you?

They’re role-playing games. This is the whole point, doing things and experiencing things through a character that ain’t you. Sometimes you’re working out issues, sometimes, you’re just exploring the possibilities.

Hopefully, doing it inside a fictional storyline, being interactive and playing with friends makes it all one big fun time.

But, if you do play the your character in the game to feel like a powerful badass, then a character race or class that you identify with that feeds into a sense of personal power would be what you want, not some soft cuddly panda.

I get that.

In pen and paper role playing games, the races chosen by players seeking personal power would be the big gonzo things, the giants, half-giants, orcs, dragonkin, half-dragons, etc. Massive super-powerful, imposing, rippling muscles and ragged loincloths or big spiky armor. Honking big axes, flaming swords, that kind of thing.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Damnit, it’s one of the things that I like best about role playing games, we’re adults, we can damn well play make believe in any way and for whatever reason that we want to. There isn’t a ‘right way’ to play a role playing game. 

But maybe that is why people say they don’t like the pandaren playable race, or think they’re not cool?

The person playing to be a powerful badass wishes they’d gotten something badass and powerful like dragons or dragonkin as a playable race, or something else large and imposing and covered in spikes or rippling muscles. Something that fits a different definition of ‘cool’. A definition that gets fed by the covers of video game magazines, muscle car magazines, and the Shooting Times.

I don’t know. I’m wondering, and yes I’m projecting, but I’m trying like hell to figure out where all the panda rage is coming from, and I’m drawing some blanks here.

In short, I’m wondering if most of the rage at Pandas as a playable race is coming from people who wanted a race to feed their power fantasies better.

If you don’t like pandas or are raging against them, if that’s your thing, go for it.

But don’t go out there and start talking about how everyone hates them and nobody would play one, or how stupid they are, and expect it to go unchallenged.

I love the panda characters, their style, their feel. They are very interesting as potential characters.

They cry out for stories, for adventures, for making their way in a fictional world, stumbling into trouble and trying to learn more about the outside they’ve never known before. And all of this with a positive, open, curious frame of mind.

The pandas to me are a playable race where, finally, we don’t have a legacy of war and patriotism and old feuds and fury. We’ve got a race that can wander out in the world, not to kill or dominate or impose their will on others, but to see, to explore, and to learn.

Pandas are the good stewards, looking to leave things as they find them, to learn from what they see, and to offer aid to those that need it regardless of who they are.

I for one am grateful to have a new race that is more open to having a different point of view, a more peaceful, reflective mood as a foundation to build on.

Oh shit. Wait, I just thought. Is peace not cool, either?

The Fall of Theramore – Alone in the Crowd

Last night, in World of Warcraft, the first new content was released for the game in about ten months. It was released just a bit more than one week in advance of a new $40 expansion.

I recap that because I do have friends who come here who don’t play WoW anymore, haven’t in years, and probably couldn’t care less about it. It’s good to provide some general perspective before launching into discussion, right?

In the short time the scenario has been out, I have seen dozens of blog posts, hundreds of tweets, and some pretty incendiary flaming directed at it.

A lot of folks are upset.

Scenarios are a new addition to the game, and I’ve read that we will see a bunch more of them in the new expansion aimed at level 90 players.

Whats the big deal?

In the current game of World of Warcraft, there is the questing content for solo players (and lately we’ve seen just about all of the old group quests nerfed down to be soloable), there are dungeons designed for groups of five players that must incoporate a tank, a healer and three damage dealers, and then there are raids, content for groups of from ten to twenty-five players that again are designed to require some of the players be designated tanks and healers to succeed. Or to be pretty damn crafty and overgeared for the raid. Druids and Death knights and Paladins, I’m looking at you.

Scenarios, on the other hand, are a very new concept for World of Warcraft.

Scenarios are designed for groups of three players, they are supposed to be of shorter duration than a traditional dungeon instance, and most importantly, they are designed to allow groups of any composition, so long as most can do damage, to succeed. I’m sure groups formed of three healers will be… interesting to watch. I can’t wait to see videos spring up on Youtube of groups of unlikley combinations having fun.

Scenarios can still grant nice loot rewards, but they seem to be meant to be little mini-stories. True scenarios, where you are presented with a beginning situation, and work through the events towards a conclusion. more than a quest, less than a big dungeon full of complicated boss mechanics.

From a bald description of scenarios, you’d be left to wonder why so many folks are upset, right?

The answer to that is tied up in player expectations and story shit that has nothing to do with scenarios.

There have been quite a few expansions for the game now, and for each of the previous expansions, there was a special event within the game starting a week prior to the expansions release.

The events really only last a week or two, and typically end the night before the expansion is live.

Having done these cool little one-time-only events so many times before, there was an expectation in the game that we’d see the same thing this time; something coming out that was special a week or two before the expansion landed on store shelves.

So far, there is only one week remaining, and what we have is this one short ten minute scenario.

The next issue a lot of people have is that the Fall of Theramore is an act of aggression by the Horde against the Alliance, serving as the single most visible catalyst for the eruption of full scale war between the factions going into the expansion.

There was a book, The Tides of War, that deals with all of this story development and the buildup of these events, but within the game, everyone expected to see some kind of playable event or even quests or content that would allow us to take part in and feel involved in this huge whopping change that was about to take place.

Basically, we all expected to be playing something that would involve us in events and allow us to become more emotionally invested in going to war.

Again, instead of any cutscenes, quests, or outward manifestation of what led to the moment, within the game we got… a 10 minute scenario.

Many players are a mite upset at this. And I do get that.

What I question is whether it is right to heap all that anger on the scenario.

I’m not looking at all the lore stuff, and I’m not judging the scenario based on my expecations for an in game event. I didn’t really expect it to be taken as one, but maybe I’m crazy.

I expected the scenario to be exactly what it was; a tease of the kind of new content I’m going to be able to play in Mists. And based on that expectation, I really enjoyed it. I loved it. It made me very, very happy. I can foresee many happy evenings with my family doing scenarios on whatever bloody character we’d like to bring.

The scenario is really two completely different scenarios, one from the Horde/aggressor point of view, and the other from the Alliance/defender point of view.

I like that, and for the first time I really, really wish I had at least one Horde character at level 85 to be able to experience it. My bad. I will next time, my Panda Warrior will be Horde all the way.

From the point of view of the Alliance side, my first expectation was met. I was able to group, on whichever character I chose, with Cassie and Alex and enter the scenario. I did not know if there was a quest or just to queue like you do with world holiday events, so I checked, and there were scenarios listed under the Dungeon Finder. The three of us queued, and in we went immediately.

The event itself spawned quests that flowed naturally from one to another. We did not try to ‘zerg’ it, or beat the clock, but instead took part as if we were in the story. We read the chat, followed the quest clues, and took part in the retaking and defense of Theramore Isle and Jaina. Alex felt pressure to avoid wandering level 85 elite wolf patrols, and loved being able to engulf each of the ships in flames. Cassie had to remind him to please let us get OFF the ships before he set them on fire. I’m totally going to use that in a book someday.

Each part of the scenario story flowed naturally into the next. At one point Cassie was irritated because she was taking considerable damage without time to heal between waves, but that’s what Natures Swiftness/Healing Touch is for. It’s back, baby! I feel like a real hybrid Druid again. Mangle Swipe Thrash BIG HEAL Mangle Mangle…

The scenario did exactly what I hoped it would do. It showed me a new type of content where three people will be able to play together in an interesting fastpaced storyline without taking the length of time of a full instance, and without the normal worry over having one of each necessary role or making sure each person was stopping and healing/holding aggro, etc.

It is indisputably selfish, but now Cassie, Alex and I will have current things we can do when we’d like together without needing to make sure we’ve got a tank, a healer, and two other people who may or may not be asshats. And I freaking love it.

For what I expected, it rocked.

I think it’s damn unfortunate that it was released to stand all alone a week before expansion, pushed out the door to be devoured by a crowd starving for new content.

I picture the scenario almost like a comedian being tossed out on stage to do a quick bit of standup to chill out a crowd that has been waiting five hours for Axl Rose to appear for a GNR concert. Poor scenario. Poor, poor scenario. Nobody deserves that fate.

I’m just not ranting or raving this time around. My expectations… were met.

I already did the pissy thing about the age-old question of how much of the game do we get to play as the main characters, and how much as the spectators. I ranted about it back when Cataclysm came out and the world just… switched over without my having any involvement whatsoever. When the cataclysm came, I apparently watched the waves roll in while drinking rum shots with little umbrellas in ’em.

I said it all then, I’m over it.

After the great Cataclysm world flip, I no longer had the expectation that I would be seeing or taking part in any of that story or lore that tranforms a world. I am a spectator, and as was pointed out to me then, the game world exists in it’s own time, an ever-fixed ‘now’.

As a critical piece of lore, standing alone to usher us from a world at peace in the aftermath of the defeat of Deathwing into a world where Horde and Alliance strive for conquest and domination, the scenario would be pretty sad. Maybe it’s just the tip of the iceberg this week, I dunno.

As an introduction to a brand new style of WoW gameplay,my expectations are met, and all I gots to say is, HELL YES!

Bring them on, the more the merrier I says.

Moving on

As a much needed follow up to my explosion of hostility earlier today, I wanted to provide some sense of closure.

Just a little bit ago, Navimie, Orvillius, Nymphy and I chilled out in beautiful Stormwind, dancing among the rooftops and admiring each others transmogs and mounts while we chatted about the stress of the day.

Whatever else that was said in my post today, and that I stand behind by the way, the fact remains that what I said about a certain person doesn’t reflect in any way on the rest of the guild they’re a part of, at least not in my mind.

It’s a double standard I didn’t even know I had, and it’s not about how well I like and admire Orv and Nymphy. I’m not giving them a ‘friend pass’.

It’s that their guild is a guild mostly built through the WoW Twitter community, and most of the members are bloggers or prominent in the WoW world.

What does that mean?

It means I don’t hold the guild in any way responsible for one of it’s members being a complete douchebag. I hold the douchebag responsible, and leave it at that.

You see, the normal ‘face’ of a guild is reversed here. Normally, a guild name is famous on a server, and the players are known by their association with the guild as members.

In this other guilds case, the PLAYERS are famous, and the guild is known by it’s association with the PLAYERS.

It’s a weird distinction. But it matters. The famous players are in a guild because they met each other in various ways outside the guild, and all came together for one reason or another and follow the golden rule, “Don’t be dicks to each other.”

Nothing is said about all these famous people dropping their very strong habit of speaking their mind how and when and where they see fit, and talking to strangers as they think appropriate. How in the hell could you? It’s how they all came to know each other in the first place.

Something I don’t see talked about much when we discuss WoW communities, but WoW bloggers are people first, bloggers second.

Being a blogger or a forum commenter or an official WoW forum troll or whatever else that has brought you fame does not mean you are also, inherently and automatically, a nice person.

WoW bloggers can be dicks too. And dear lord, don’t let me get started on the massive honking egos that anyone that blogs has to have to think that anyone else gives two shits about their opinion on anything and everything…

Oh, wait, what? Huh? Oh, I’m one of them?

Shit. Well, that proves that theory, doesn’t it?

Look, the key thing here is, we’re talking about “oh I’m so special my shit doesn’t stink and I have a thousand people who will agree with me” behavior. We’re talking about someone who, in their clique with friends and people they think of as equals, they’re (from what I have heard) sweetness and light personified.

But to outsiders or strangers that seem pesky or dare to bother them? Well, it’s just like one of the unwashed herd wearing a dirty sweat shirt and grubbies daring to bother the great and powerful Paris Hilton.

I damn near expect to see something along the lines of, “Don’t you know who I AM? I’m internet famous! How dare you waste my time?”

Okay, this has turned into a parting shot. I guess I can’t help myself.

But really. It’s true. Don’t think of it as Navi dealing with an asshat, and how dare that guild have someone like that representing them.

Just think of it as her face to face with a Kardashian.

Really, what else would you expect to have happen?

I mean, do you really blame all the other people who are nice and competent and shit hot who are stuck with this  self-important, puffed up asshat just because they all belong to the same country club? Of course not. Especially when the stuck up asshat is quite nice if they think they’re talking to fellow royalty rather than unwashed swine.

Wow, I am snarky when I haven’t had sleep. It’s true though. If someone is ALWAYS nice to YOU, and I mean always, and is your friend… don’t you give them the benefit of the doubt? Especially if there is an apology, as there was, and a case made for a serious miscommunication and misunderstanding issue?

Seriously, nothing excuses that kind of behavior in my eyes, but I am 100% behind calling this done and moving on. This horse has been beaten, Orv and Nymphy have seriously had way more than enough stress over this, Navi had some major bad stress but has moved on and even enjoyed fun dancing and picture time, I got to see all three of them together, and I’ve moved on too.

Navi has continued past this with a positive attitude, and Orv and Nymphy have taken artemisian steps to overcome this shitstorm, I kid you not, we can all move on now.

Oh, and that person that I ripped into? The stress they felt over all of this, if any?

I don’t give a shit, sit and spin on it, I’ve got nothing for you.

Tomorrow, I take my inspiration from Navi and will post from within the enthusiasm and excitement I felt when Deathwing died and Alex got the Destroyer’s End achievement last night.

That was what I went to sleep on last night, that massive feeling of HELL YES, that pleasure at seeing the joy Alex felt at winning the kickass two handed mace from the Skyship encounter, the overall feeling of having been part of a great time as a family, as a guild, and with friends in a great game.

I’m gonna pretend today didn’t happen, except for the part where I got to chat in one hell of a great and enjoyable conversation with Orv and Nymphy.

Yep, nothing happened, we just killed Deathwing, Alex is asleep, and now I go to dream of navistamps and Mount Hyjal raids and sailing over the High Seas.

Stick a fork in it.

Blowing off a lot of steam

I’m so fucking pissed, it makes my chest ache. So, today you get what you get, and it’s a fucking rant about an arrogant prick.

Am I going to make enemies with this? Probably. I know how people take sides along friends lines, friends can do no wrong and anyone challenging them must be crushed. There must have been an excuse. Well, I saw the screenshots, I saw the chat logs, you want to crush me for speaking my mind, bring it. I don’t fucking care. What I’m doing is siding with a friend too, for my own reason, so fine.

Ooh, outrage at asshat behavior? What an original topic!

True story, but this post is for me, to blow off my own steam, because I’m at work and I am NOT going to go through the rest of my day without venting in some way. I’ll be damned if I’m going to be taking my anger out on someone else who can’t simply close the window, change the page, or put me on /ignore and walk away.

Time to fire up the f-bomb machine and set the controls for the heart of my raging sun.

I’m serious. If bad language offends you, if the spewing of my venom will bother you, please just close the browser. I am not here to bring anyone down, to ruin anyone’s day, or to piss people off. This post will not lift your spirits or bring you chuckles or giggles. This is me venting, pure and simple.

Okay? All right then.

I’ve come to know Navimie purely through her writing on her blog, the Daily Frostwolf.

If she didn’t write, I really wouldn’t know her at all. She’s not on my server or even on my faction in the game. Our paths were never likely to cross.

But she does write, and because of that, instead of a faceless stranger, she is a real person whom I have come to know a little bit through what she has shared of her experiences, her hopes, her enthusiasms and her achievements.

I have learned through her writing over the months that she is a very strong person that faces a lot of stress in her real life career, she is a skilled hard mode raider in WoW, she is a gifted writer, she has a great deal of fun with and promotes the successes of her friends, she shows a delight in the fun, whimsical and silly that is to be found in this world, and above all else, she is a very nice and polite person who pursues her passions with honest enthusiasm.

An infectious enthusiasm. When Navimie starts to gush about something, even I start to feel like I should be a nicer or more approachable person to live up to her expectations that other people are as nice as she is.

Navimie has recently been reaching out to others within the World of Warcraft community and seeking them out to ask them to pose for pictures with her in the game. She is approaching people she likes through their writing, or from what she knows of them. Her friends and family, and then her extended ‘WoW’ community family.

She is saying hello and taking a snapshot to remind her of the folks she has come to know through their own writings, or who are good friends, or who have in some way touched her life or WoW experience.

Thanks to her having a blog she is able to share those snapshots with all of us. I know everyone gets something different about blogging and writing and readong about it, but one of the things I’ve liked best about the whole thing is the way I feel connected to a bunch of people with shared interests, and I enjoy seeing these. It strengthens my feeling of, well, belonging to something more than doofus playing video games, one each.

Even if that feeling is based on an illusion, the feeling is real, and that’s enough for me.

The Navispams are something completely in keeping with what I know of her. To be enthusuastic about something, and spend some of her time reaching out to others and approaching them to take a few pictures, and then spend more of her time making a post showing them. It’s an incredibly flattering thing, to know that someone out there is thinking of you, and likes you enough to spend a few minutes of their precious time, time they will never get back, with you, and to want a screenshot to remember it by.

If anything, I bet everyone who knows her would love to see their picture up there next to Navi, and feel that same sense of belonging.

That is why I have such an incredibly strong reaction to this. THIS is why I am fucking enraged. I am reacting to this almost as strongly as if this had happened to my 9 year od son who plays the game, because Navi is not some faceless shell to me who might be overstating things because maybe she is a secret asshat. I have a very good idea of how she comes across to people.
How? Simple. I know how she approaches people she wants to Navispam because I am one of the people she has already approached out of the blue in game to ask for a Navispam snapshot. I know from direct, personal experience EXACTLY how she approaches someone, how she speaks, what she says, how polite and considerate she is, and how completely uncalled for this bullshit was. I know firsthand. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Well, she went to go looking for a few people I think VERY highly of that are on my same server, Nymphy and Orvillius, who you might know from D/E The Tank. From what I know of both of them, they are very nice people, and I hold Orvillius in the highest personal regard. More on that later, but I can say that from everything I’ve seen, I am lucky to know the both of them.

She didn’t see either of them online at the time, but they did have someone else from their guild online, so she whispered.

What resulted from that, Navi has posted herself. And she was very clear about NOT wanting to start any kind of argument or controversy about it. So yes, I’m going directly against her express wishes in talking about it.

Navi, I am sorry. I’m just so fucking pissed right now. Grats, whoever that cockface was, because if he’s a troll in real life, he managed to get through my “don’t give a shit about asshats” armor and inspire an emotional reaction, so congrats, you fucking win the internet.

Navimie whispered the person while that person was in an instance. That is her vast crime.

This unnamed person went off on her in reply. Hey, hot tempered, some people are dicks, it happens, right? Ah, but then they went on Twitter to bash her there, too.

So, it wasn’t enough to treat someone like shit because they interrupted you while you were doing something? Apparently not, no. You have to go and make a special point of tabbing out to bash them to all your social contacts, too. A little after the fact spin control to get people on ‘your side’ after you realized what a complete prick you were? Rallying the troops? That’s my call.

Hey, people can go be pricks all they want, the world is full of them, they are worthless sacks of shit, and the greatest justice in the world is that I only have to know about them for five seconds, but they have to live with being themselves every day of their lives. Damn, that’s gotta suck.

Here is why I am so fucking pissed.

Navimie is blaming herself for how SHE was treated by this pusball, she is making excuses for the abuse she suffered at his/her hands, and is torturing herself over how she should never have been so rude or inconsiderate as to bother this person while they were busy.


There is no fucking excuse for that kind of flame in a blind reply. None. You don’t invite abuse by politely approaching someone through a whisper. If you get whispered while you’re doing something, if you can’t answer it at the time, you IGNORE IT and reply at your leisure when you get the chance. Nobody is forcing you to respond, either now or ever.

“Oh, but it is so rude to get a whisper while I’m busy, why didn’t they do a /who so they could see I’m busy, oh why Mr Owl?”

Really? Fucking really. That’s what you’re going with? You saw a little purple line of text whisper while doing something and it broke your concentration and you died and the run wiped and you ate a 100 gold repair bill and it harshed your calm zen-like ‘tude, dude. That is the grand excuse for your behavior. Oh, it was absolutely her fault, your response wasn’t over the top or excessive, oh no, not at all.

I want to remind you, this prick didn’t just have a grouchy moment, snap at an utter stranger and then leave it at that. They felt the special need to go bash the person on Twitter afterwards.

Oh, right, that reminds me. FUCK YOU. I wanted to make sure I said that again, I might be being a little vague here about how I feel.

If you are so delicate that you get broken by a whisper from a stranger while tanking, guess what? That’s not the fault of the person whispering you about people in your guild on a multiplayer game.  

I know Navimie was saying that I have no way of knowing what pressures that person was under, or what mitigating circumstances could cause that kind of reaction.

The instant nastiness and /ignore? That’s not the sign of someone who is innocent in the ways of being a prick. that is someone who is used to being a complete douchebag, and then doing /ignore so they don’t have to deal with any blowback. 

The Twitter crap is cold, stone sober inner child bullshit. News Flash: That is who they really are.

People bullshit you all the time. They bullshit me. This is the internet, and all you know about people who blog is what they say, and what others say about them. You decide who you believe, if anyone.

It’s anonymous, and anyone can try and pretend to be whoever they want, and you can buy into however much of it you like.

What you see of someone when they think nobody is watching? That’s not the irregularity, that is the real person. That is how they really treat people they think don’t count.

I read once, “You are what you do when it counts.” I buy into that. You can think things through at your leisure, and decide to do something after weighing the pros and cons carefully, including what people will think of you when you do it. When shit happens and you act with an instant snap decision, that comes from the gut. It’s all you, no time to filter it.

Bad judgment? Bullshit. it’s not bad judgment, it’s a bad person. When nobody is watching and they think they could get away with it, they were a nasty little shit, and then went out on Twitter to spin it and try to get their followers on their side agreeing and reinforcing that they were the ones in ‘the right’.

Navimie, I know you don’t want a controversy, and I am not here to start one. There is no controversy to be found here. That person was an offensive little slime mold to you, a piece of dogshit to be scraped off the sole of your soul.

Don’t blame yourself, your actions, your enthusiasm or anything else for what happened. This is not about what YOU did or did not do. This is about what THEY chose to do of their own free will in response.

And now, patient people who have read this far, I want to wanr you of something.

Before you blast me for how horrible I’m being, you better keep one thing in mind, because it will drive how I respond to whatever justification you come up with.

My son plays World of Warcraft now. He is nine years old.

My son personally knows both Nymphy and Orvillius. Not only that, but he has spent several weeks now playing in a raid with both of them every single Sunday evening in Icecrown Citadel.

Yeah, that’s right. That is how personal this is for me. I don’t play with the Navi side of the coin, I play with the Nymphy and Orv side.

My son plays with them both, and he knows what guild they are in because he RAN WITH THAT GUILD IN ULDUAR.

My son knows that the legendary axe quest chain he is on in ICC is something he has been helping Orvillius complete each week, and he also knows that if he has questions on what to do or how hard the quest steps are, Orvillius is the one he would ask. This has even come up IN THE LAST WEEK, because he is supposed to drink the vial off the table of Professor Putricide this week to become a giant slime monster, and Orvillius is the one who just did it a few weeks ago.

My son is not stupid, but he is enthusiastic, eager, cheerful, and thinks the best of people. He knows how to do a /who and how to whisper people, and he likes to say “Hello.” And he really looks up to Orvillius, who has been a strong voice of reason in our Sunday runs.

Do you have any idea how easily this could have been the story of how my son, eager and excited to ask Orv about doing the legendary axe quest this Sunday, whispered somebody in Orvs guild to see if Orv was on, and got that response?

Yeah, if I make enemies with this post because they don’t get why I might be personally hot up about this, you know what? Those are people I am grateful to have out of my life.

You go ahead and convince me that response was appropriate. Good luck with that.

When The Lights Go out

In our connected society, with gadgets and gizmos aplenty, there is one thing you should keep in mind;

If your power goes out, they are running down their charge.

In the olden times, back in the prehistoric days before cell phones, most households were prepared for power outages with matches, candles, and silver colored flashlights with two D batteries in them.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Your power can still go out at any time. There are people on the East Coast of the US that have been without power for weeks.

There are areas in California famous for their ‘rolling blackouts’.

Rolling Blackouts are a euphemism for “we’re the ones with the power, we don’t have enough to go around, and we’re choosing who to give it to tonight.”

This isn’t a joke. You should give two seconds to being prepared.

Now, if you’ve got money, a portable generator is a great choice, but they require some tech savvy. You get the generator, and a fuel source, and then you either plug things into it, OR you buy what’s called a switchgear, which is a fancy sounding name for a diverter switch. Normal power coming in? All is well. Normal power dead? You flip the switch, and the generator is now going to pwoer the house, cutting you off from the city grid.

It’s a great option, if you can afford it, its nice. You can power some extras that way, such as heaters, your fridge and chest freezer, fans, the stuff that keeps food from spoiling or you from freezing to death.

But the minimum preparedness is to keep the darkness at bay.

When the lights go out, every sharp corner and poking edge in your house is now a hazard. Piles of heavy stuff? Hazards to bump into or knock over.

At the minimum, you should have short term lighting in mind, and long term.

Short term? That smartphone of yours has a great backlight. Your tablet, too. A laptop in a pinch. Something to get you to a sustainable source of light.

Now is when you think geek.

There is one huge advantage we’ve got over the golden years; LED light bulbs.

LED light bulbs require miniscule trickle current for maximum light output.

That old flashlight with the D batteries might have lasted an hour on constantly. A modern itty bitty LED flashlight with a couple AA batteries might last a few hours.

But even battery powered LED flashlights run down eventually, and just having a four pack of LED flashlights isn’t enough with a pack of kids who want a night light that you don’t have available at 2 in the morning.

This is when you pull out… the hand generator LED flashlight, in full-on geek mode.

This LEGO dynamo LED flashlight with a hand crank generator, for example.

Nothing reassures your kids quite as much as a LEGO maxifig that lights up, is poseable, and will never, ever be dead.

And there are several styles too, so each child can have their own.

There are many more traditional hand torches with dynamo generators out there, pretty cheap too. You can get one for around $10, and have some peace of mind. A flashlight that you know ain’tent dead yet.

Just a thought, my friends.   Candles are great, inexpensive, and add a warm mood to a house.

At the same time, having candles lit up in your children’s rooms when everyone is asleep is probably not a good long term plan.

Okay. I’ll admit it. I just think the LEG flashlights are cool, and I’m trying to get you to buy some.

We own one for Alex, and let me tell you, you crank that sucker up and it lasts for hours. HOURS.

A Professional Training Opportunity

There is a need, a desperate need in America for training in basic phone skills, both in answering and leaving messages.

This should not be left to an employer to train you. These should be fundamental skills. Skills you can develop yourself by taking five minutes and applying some critical thinking.

And yet, day after day, I am presented with people that can’t answer a phone or leave a message to save their ass.

For those that might get a link to read some twit rant about phone messages, I was in the US Marines, and I like to tell old sea stories.

I’ll never forget the first time I drew guard mount duty where there was a phone involved.

I was provided phone training. A 5 minute, high speed low drag “what you will and will not do on the phone while representing the unit” training session.


Because I was a rock, a pebble, what we call a noob today, and I could not be trusted to just automatically know how to answer a phone in a proper military manner, or know how to leave a message.

I was now going to have the weighty responsibility of answering that phone, representing the unit to anyone, anyone at all from the outside world, that may want to call in.

The President of the United States or the Commandant of the Marine Corps may take it into their head to call the guard desk at MACS-5 just to screw with a Lance Corporal, and you’d damn well better not answer the official phone, “Yeah?”.

It was incumbent upon me to perform my duties in a professional manner.

Thus, my Sergeant instructed me for 5 minutes on how to answer a damn phone.

I have never forgotten my surprise at the forethought involved. I’d already gotten so used to everyone in the civilian world assuming everyone else knows everything and leaving you floundering, that I never expected something as simple as answering a phone to have a procedure… or that someone gave some thought to the fact that a new employee/person would be uncertain what to do exactly or how to do it, want to have that task done in a certai way, and addressed it.

It was just another of a thousand things in the Marines that reinforced the concept that prior proper planning and thinking about the smallest details when you have the luxury of time help to avoid stupid mistakes.

I was taught that even somethign as simple as answering the phone could be approached in a professional manner.

“Identify professional location you have reached, identify yourself with rank and last name, identify your current duty role, ask how you can be of service.”

For example, answering the phone with “Marine Air Control Squadron 5 Guard Mount, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, Sgt Patricelli speaking, how may I help you today sir or ma’am?”

Or, closer to home, “Humpty Dumpty Crane and Hoist, this is John Patricelli, how can I help you?”

You tell the caller what company they have reached and who they are speaking with. You’re polite. And you’re as brief as humanly possible. It’s called being professional, and it’s about as basic as you can get.

If I call someone, before I start talking to them, I need to know I’ve reached the right person, the person I hope can help me or is the right person to hear my spiel. If I get the receptionist, and I need to order a part, then I can ask for someone in parts ordering.

If I call the police department to report a theft, what I don’t expect to hear is someone answering the phone with “Yeah? Wassup dude?”

“Umm…is this the police department?”

“Yeah, whattaya got bud?”

Just, no. Really? No.

If you ever call a company looking for goods or services, and you have to ask them if you reached such-and-so company because the person who answered sounds like a stoner that answered his home phone, then they answered the phone wrong or half-assed.

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve called a sales or services number, and gotten “Yeah?” as the whole and total reply.

Yeah? Shit, I don’t even answer internal calls from extensions in the company with “Yeah”, let alone outside lines. And if you can’t tell if a call is coming in from an outside line or from some schmuck that works in your shipping department, play it safe by being professional every time you answer the phone instead of never.

But this, this is not even close to being as bad as how people leave messages.

There is a reason Elune cries. Bad phone messages cause the tears of Elune to flow.

Here is a message I had left on my phone this morning, and I’m not even making this shit up;

“Hey, this is Doug, the parts don’t fit, they’re not the right size. Give me a call after seven.”


Part of what I do is handle repair parts sales and field service for cranes and hoists all over Minnesota. Literally thousands of customers.

I can think of nine Dougs right off the top of my head who are frequent customers for crane and hoist parts, most of whom I’ve already talked to this week, and I sell of customer specified parts, and even more people go through the city desk for parts orders.

Doug? Who the fuck is Doug? What company are you with? What’s your phone number to call you back? When were they ordered? Who makes the part? What was your PO#? What was the part number you ordered?

ANY ONE of those things would have given me a corner to peel back to get at the rest of this, let me identify the most likely customer, and return his call. Any one of them.

You’d almost think he put effort into giving me as little information as possible just to fuck with me.

But I know he didn’t… because I get this shit ALL THE TIME. Most of those Dougs are all liable to leave the same kind of message, I can’t even narrow it down by “the Doug that leaves bad messages.”

“Hey, this is Joe, our shop crane got hit by a forklift last night, I need you to send a service guy out first thing in the morning, has to be here by 5 AM.”

Joe? Joe WHO, motherfucker? Are you shitting me? What company are you with? What is your number? What address? Are you even a customer with us?

I’m not kidding. That’s another message I had waiting for me this morning.

I mean, how hard is it, even without training, to spend a few seconds of your time thinking over what information might just be needed so someone can get in touch with you?

“Hi, this is Joe Guyabara, Lord of the Shirts. I’m the Head Shirt Guy at Totally Awesome Shirts, Ltd in Towering Manhood, Minnesota. We have a hoist what just blew up and is raining fiery debris all over our sewing machines. I need you to send a service tech asap to our west Towering Manhood address, and give me a call when he’s expected to be here. my number is 555-1369.”

Who are you, who are you representing (if anyone), where are you, what do you need, and how can I reach your sorry ass so you know that I got your message and am responding?

Is that really so difficult?

And yet… yes. Yes it is.

Please, if you are a young gamer still in school, if you have yet to enter the professional workplace, PLEASE, I beg of you, spend just three minutes to think about how you’d answer a phone or leave a message when you are representing a company, or yourself as a business professional.

You don’t have to be a coldly corporate as a DirecTV or Comcast service rep on the phone, boredly reading responses off a cue card. You can liven it up a teeny bit, inject your personality into it, you just need to be able to clearly identify yourself or what you need, with some consideration given to providing the basic info someone on the other end needs to help you.

Think about it. If you’ve got your resume out there, and you’re hoping to get a phone call from some Human Resources person, are you really going to impress anyone by answering your phone, “Mario’s Plumbing and Repairs, head mushroom bouncer speaking, hey dude, whats up?”

That I even feel like I have to say something about this just depresses the shit out of me.

Razza Frazzin’ Spider-Mazzin!

Here is a totally pointless rant, in the truly original theme of “Hollywood needs some fresh ideas”.

There is a new Amazing Spider-Man movie coming out. Had you heard?

I have one question.


I’m gonna go out on a limb, and suggest the answer is, “To make money.”

I’m trying to think of another reason, and at this point, I’m coming up dry. To make money. It costs millions to make one of these big special effects blockbusters, and the rankings are based on amount made per weekend, so, to make money is the plan.

If the goal of making a special effects thrill ride movie of Spider-Man is to make money, how well is this going to work?

Will they get MY money?

I am a self-professed geek, I’ve collected and loved comic books since I was a wee tot, I’ve long loved Spider-Man, I even own every Ultimate Spider-Man graphic novel there is to date.

I saw all the Spider-Man movies in the theater. I saw all the Avengers-related movies in the theater, and I own them all on DVD. I saw The Avengers twice. I can’t wait to buy it on DVD.

What I’m saying is, I am the ‘no brainer’ demographic.

So… will they get my money for the new Spider-Man film?

Not a chance in hell.

Seriously, not a freaking chance in hell. I will not see it in the theater, I will not buy it on DVD, but I am highly likely to get it when it comes out on my already-paid-for Netflix subscription.

A Netflix subscription we pay for, as far as I can tell, so Cassie can watch McLeod’s Daughters on streaming video.

So, if they’ve missed so badly with me, why?

The big reason for me would be that, based on every trailer I’ve seen and the Wikipedia entry, this is not a continuation of the current film series but a reboot.

Fuck a bunch of reboots.

Chickenshit storytelling crap.

Everyone loves telling the origin story. It’s almost all there is to super-hero movies.

Telling the story of an average person people can relate to having extraordinary events and circumstances enter their lives is easy to do. Everyman or everywoman going from zero to hero, normal to super-normal, untrained and uncertain to confident and powerful.

It damned near writes itself.

And it can be taken to an art form. I still think Unbreakable was brilliant. Maybe by accident, but I loved that movie.

We’ve seen the origins before. The comics love to reshow the origins of heroes every damn ten issues, it seems like.

They show the origins over and over, in part, because the hard part is taking the hero, the complete package, and carrying that story along without losing the audience, who no longer directly relates to this super-powerful being. THAT is the challenge.

Making the superhuman human and telling stories that resonate for the audience once you get past the “Oh wow, I was picked on in school but now I am teh uber!!! Bullies f3ar my wrath!!!!” is where it gets hard.

So, oh, franchise fell on hard times, we can’t figure out any more stories to tell? I know, relaunch it with a different take! Let’s make it grittier, more urban, bring it down to the streets, strip it down and bring the character to the basics. Oh, and have some sweet 3D for the web swinging.

Because after all, with Spider-Man cartoons, TV live action shows, a movie series and more cartoons, and then more cartoons, there is still a living soul somewhere out there among the movie-going crowd that doesn’t yet know about radioactive spiders, and the perils therein.

I can hear you cry, “Fine, you think they’re rebooting the series with a gritty remake because they ran out of ideas, it got hard to come up with a script that a large meeting room full of bosses would agree on, and they’re trying to capitalize on how well Batman has done by relaunching with The Dark Knight. Could you come up with something different?”

Yes, yes I would.

I could come up with something different, taking off from where the last Spider-Man movie ended and moving forward in a brand new direction. And it wouldn’t even be with MY ideas.

I’d explore territory Marvel themselves has originated, where there is truly fresh ground to direct something NEW to see.

Basically, I’d say to not be so damn timid and use your own intellectual property. And that Bendis guy? Maybe talk things over with him on how to tell a story. Just a suggestion.

In Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter Parker has died.

Like, dead. Really dead. Not “it was really my clone”, or “I’m only stunned, put me in the sun and I’ll get better, I need chlorophyll to heal”, or any of that crap.

He’s dead, Jim.

In the aftermath, there has been a new Spider-Man who has risen, inspired by the original, who is feeling his way into trying to be a hero, to live up to the legacy that Peter Parker has left behind.

All right, I’ll admit, in the new comics, Miles Morales, the new Spider-Man, is not white. I know cynical people say, and perhaps with some truth, that Marvel planned that out intentionally for publicity and shock value. I frankly don’t care as long as they write and create the character with integrity, and it sure as hell would put a new spin on it.

I’m not an activist, I’m not a crusader, I don’t march around or any of that stuff, I don’t honestly give a shit what the racial background of the character is for itself as a social point.

What I love is a good story, written with integrity, with care given to the subject material, and where the people are people first, true to themselves, and portrayed with some realism.

I’d have loved to have seen a new Spider-Man movie that would start with the Death of Spider-Man. A big-ass battle, saving the lives of a shitload of people, showing the original Spider-Man for who he was, someone that fought to protect the innocent, ALL the innocent.

Boom, 15 minutes in and Tobey Maguire is dead, thousands or millions of innocent lives are saved, but Spider-Man passes on, obviously dead but with his secret identity intact.

Maybe die by taking a nuke from a terrorist attack in a crowded sports arena, and carrying it out to sea, big vaporizing bomb blast atomized Spidey? I know, too cliche, but hell, this is a comic book superhero, there are limits. Look at the Avengers, and Iron Man riding a rocket through a wormhole, return to sender.

My point is, 15 minutes in we get a dead Spider-Man, and as a city responds to the death of an anonymous hero who sacrificed his life for everyone, a hero nobody can pin down into an easy racial category and heap any kind of preconceived bullshit onto, a new Spider-Man rises who is inspired to do his best as well, a boy who has smiliar powers due to a similar accident, but who happens, just happens, to come from a totally different background in New York City, and his struggles.

There is so much you can do with that story. And yes, you could work into the story a powerful statement about assumptions, and race, and how heroism has nothing to do with what color or sex or religion you come from. Of course you can.

But if you just HAVE to do yet another Spider-Man Origin Movie, at least it would be a chance to do a NEW one, one without the same old Uncle Ben and Aunt May and Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson.

Damn it, I know it wouldn’t be original, but even maybe to see it go the way of V for Vendetta, with one sacrifice and victory inspiring a thousand others to step up and try their best, ahhh, that would freaking rock. To see women and men of every possible type come forward, masked and not, anonymous or in the open, to witness, to act, and to each be the hero they can be…

Just, damnit. Talk about lost opportunities.

Ah well.

I’m sure it’ll be a great movie. Original, groundbreaking, just what we all wanted this summer. I bet the special effects and 3D will be amazing. I can already see “Spider-Man: the Roller Coaster Ride” coming soon.] based on web-slinging web swinging 3D scenes.


So, when does the third Batman come out, again?

Look, you want my money, you’re gonna have to tell me a story I have some interest in seeing. Telling me the same story for the 15th time? Not going to do it.