Beware the New Mage Order!

Those dang fool Mages are at it again!

First they went and figured out a way to make it easy to travel all over the world… cornering the market on fast transport. Want a ‘port? Ten dollah. You savvy ten dollah?

Of course, that was quickly followed by their secret cross-Azerothian furry porn ring.

What? You think they learn all those Polymorph spells for nothing? Why do you THINK Sheep is the FIRST one they all learn?

I’ve heard all about their parties… and the fact that BRK brings the beer each time says it all, doesn’t it? Yeah, we weren’t fooled by the recent, ahem, ‘controversy’, that’s one of them, whatdya call it, ‘beards’ dont’cha know. We hear he’s mighty close to Hobbes, is what I’m sayin’.

But that wasn’t enough. Then they went and teleported all that lime green jello into the Paladin swimming pool during the Argent Tournament, causing Jong to ruin his best thong.

Okay, that was pretty funny, I’ll give ’em that. I understand Jong didn’t even have anything else to put on for the party, since when he wears his plate, he goes commando, baby.

Not that the ladies were complaining, from what I understand. I wouldn’t know, I’ve been banned from that shindig ever since the infamous three week long marathon “All You Can Eat BLT” scandal during the ’09 Tournament.

Ahem. Moving on.

Now, THIS is the last straw!

Those dang Mages have gone and created their own secret communications network, dedicated to spreading their secret plans for world domination and recipes for jello shots!

Well, I ain’t standing by any longer, doing nothing while the New Mage Order works on overcoming the inherent Druid immunity to Polymorph. 

No, I won’t go silent into that terrible night! I’ll shout the news from the rooftops!

Go! Take yourself to their secret network, and read everything you may find. Make copies of their plans, and spread the news far and wide! Let it be obscured no longer!

Make sure EVERYONE knows about those Mages and where they go… our lives, our safety, even our sacred honor depend on it!

Just say NO to Bear Sheeps!

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Bearly Controversial

There is a movie coming out soon starring one of the most famous bears of all time.

I normally wouldn’t mention it, but there is this movie poster they released for it that, at least on a slow news day, is sparking a little controversy.

I took one look at it, and thought it would be great fun to have a little “Write your own tagline” fun.

First, the poster;

Now, you look at Yogi’s delighted expression, and Boo Boo’s surprised expression, then read the tagline, “Great things come in bears”, and, well, that’s not bad.

They did a pretty good job on that poster, assuming they were LOOKING to make a poster you could just read waaaay too much into.

But we can do better, can’t we?

When I see that poster, I think, “I can top that.”

Here are a few of my suggestions for alternate taglines;

  • “Grab your ankles and have a beary good time!”
  • “He’s harder than the average bear.”
  • “Hey hey, Boo-boo!”

Okay, those are a bit over the top. I apologise.

I’m still going to post it, though.

How about you? Does that poster inspire any creative taglines in YOUR brain housing group? Let me know!

… then you MIGHT be a bad tank!

I promised that the entire list of awesome “… then you might be a bad tank” one liners submitted by readers would be posted. What I didn’t anticipate was what it’d take to format over 6500 words into post format. Still, I hope you all agree that it was worth the wait.

Kurn says:

If you spend more time criticizing someone’s gear score than generating aggro, causing adds to eat your healer… then you might be a bad tank.
If you focus on one mob and figure that if the DPS doesn’t focus fire on your exact target then it’s his or her problem and they deserve their death, so you won’t taunt if they pull off you… then you might be a bad tank.
If you are not a druid tank and you go into a random heroic without at least 535 defense on your gear or a raid with 540 defense… then you might be a bad tank.
If you are a druid tank and you don’t have Survival of the Fittest when you join a random heroic or raid… then you might be a bad tank.
If you pull with a taunt that doesn’t cause damage… then you might be a bad tank.
If freshly-dinged level 80 beast mastery hunters can pull aggro off of you without even trying… then you might be a bad tank.
If you don’t know what your cooldowns are and where they are on your action bars or keybinds… then you might be a bad tank.

Sukugaru says:

If you say, “lol @ fire my GS is uber,”… then you might be a bad tank.
If you say, “I don’t need to move out of the fire, I’m getting healed and my gear’s good enough!”… then you might be a bad tank.
If you say, “Fire? What fire?”… then you might be a bad tank.In another vein…
If your health drops to below 50% in 5mans in only 2 seconds, on a trash pull… then you might be a bad tank.

Nate says:

If you wipe on the first pull because you’re using a 2 handed sword… You might be a bad tank, or a DK, or both!

RhondaNZ says:

If your entire group wipes on the first trash pull and then you ask “Am I good?” while running back in…. you might be a bad tank. And also? Here’s your sign.

Milk says:

If you don’t read The Big Bear Butt blog, your DEFIANTLY a bad tank.

Athenrein says:

If you mark a target with skull and then ignore it so the dps pulls it right off of you… then you might be a bad tank.

Pascal says:

If you gogogogo on a DPS cue, not that of the afk healer then you might be a bad tank.

dbodinem says:

If you run away from the group and then wipe cause you’re out of range of the healer, you might be a bad tank.
If you pull the entire hallway in H DtK but don’t bother to tell anybody and cause you’re healer and a dps to wipe, you might be a bad tank.

Rake says:

If you’re a pally and you try tanking without Righteous Fury on…you might be a bad tank.

Bear Pelt says:

If you think after 1 Thundeclap/ Swipe/ Consecration/ Death and Decay that all aggro issues are settled and you can /dance, you’re a bad tank.

Kym says:

If you chain pull mobs without checking your healer’s mana….and cause a wipe cos the healer didn’t have enough gas to chuck you a heal, hence causing your healthbar to drop like the bottom fell out..and consequently, getting the rest of your group utter decimated….you MIGHT be a bad tank 🙂
If you didn’t know the lay of the land and decide to pull stuff without first checking for patrols… and happen to pull a mob that was chained to ANOTHER mob..and this gang HAPPENS to run smack into a pathing patrol, bringing an entire room to your campsite… you MIGHT be a bad tank.
If you’re a druid with 360 swipe and you keep breaking CC, just cos you didn’t know you can butt swipe… you MIGHT be a bad tank.

solitha says:

If you make a pull in DPS stance/form, then blame the healer when you die… You might be a bad tank.

Random Poster says:

IF someone asks you why you aren’t in Frost Pres/Prot stance/RIghteous fury on and you reply “What’s that” you might be a bad tank
If you are trying to tank and someone asks why and you reply ” I have a shield and the description says Shamans can tank” you might be a bad tank

Fangtastic says:

If you came back to tanking and have rank 1 TC/Consecrate/Swipe/DND on your actions bars and scream at DPS for unloading too early… then you might be a bad tank.
If you are gemmed / enchanted for spell power… then you might be a bad tank.

leah says:

If you are a charge happy bear or warrior that complains about bad pug, because healer/dps cannot possibly keep up with you zooming from group to group without stopping – you might be a bad tank.
seriously, charge is an awesome thing, but the rest of us don’t have it and running is much much slower.

Itchi says:

If your healer has a higher threat output than you…you might just be a bad tank

Aza says:

If you’re running around grabbing tons of mobs and you don’t see that your fellow Druid who’s normally in Treeform just switched to bearform to grab some mobs of your DPS before they die…. you might be a bad Tank!
On the other hand it could also mean that you just have an imba healer with actuall skills and raidawareness (sp?) 😀

Rendrak says:

If you are asking why everyone is dead except you … you might be a bad tank.
If you think tanking with a pally bubble makes you and your group invincible … you might be a bad tank.
If you fetch the pizza right after the pull … you might be a bad tank.
If you are complaining not being healed as a druid tank in human form … you might be a bad tank.

Famous last words of bad tanks or “If you say xxx before you die … you might be a bad tank.”:
“Healer is afk, well I can tank through this mob group anyway.”
“Am I supposed to tank?”
“Look there is another patrol coming…”
“Does swipe break CC?”

jurnag12 says:

If you happen to rush ahead not waiting for the rest of the group, then you might be…a bad tank
If you are under the impression that healers CAN heal stupid, then you might be…a bad tank
If you are in fact, George W. Bush, you might be, a bad tank/President
If you keyboard turn sloooooowly when you hear people screaming in horror behind you, you might just be….a bad tank

Nina says:

If you post recount after every trash pull to emphasize that you’re causing more damage than the fresh 80 in your Nexus run… you may be a bad tank
If you ask the group to do Less-rabi then don’t use any of your stuns… you may be a bad tank
If you don’t use Charge in VH to get that group that just popped on the other side of the room… you’re probably a bad tank
If you like to hide around the corner from your healer and make them chase you… you’re probably kissing the floor a lot.

Rahl says:

If you decide to take on trash or bosses when the healer / dps are oom
If you decide to take on trash or bosses when the healer / dps are 2 corridors back still drinking to top up his mana
If you decide to take on trash or bosses when the healer / dps are running from 2 corridors back after drinking to top up his mana
(Could i just add the optional “and then blame the healer / dps for the wipe” to those top 3)
If you decide to ignore all tactics and just try and brute force everything
If you leave that caster mob over there wailing on your healer because hes not in your aoe attack range and its too far to walk
If you decide that you are the better tank because you have more health than the other tank (even though he is def / hit / expertise capped and you aren’t!)
If you do a miltimob pull without marking kill order and healer / dps / all die because of aggro (“and then blame the healer / dps for the wipe”)
If you enter a heroic wearing cloth because its T10 and you are leet!
If you chain pull mobs in a dungeon (without looking at your healer / dps gear) because you are leet and it doesnt matter
If you link DPS output in party chat and beat the lowest dpser because hes a fresh 80 in greens and blues and ur in T10 ICC 25 gear
If you demand a minimum of 6k GS of your heals & dps to do a heroic
If you decide to tank in dps off spec as you can do more dmg / treat way!
If you enter a random dungeon and start pulling the trash even though not all of the party have zoned in yet
If you having an important buff that you dont put on the rest of your party members even though they ask you to multiple times
If you enter a random dungeon and start pulling without even saying “Hi” or doing a ready check
If you enter a random dungeon and start pulling even though your healer or a dps says one sec i need to do a quick spec change
If you pull trash or a boss just after the healer says brb

Kaethir says:

To combine two of Kurn’s into one….
If you are not immune to melee critical hits…. you might be a Bad Tank.
…and…
If you have ever tanked 3/4ths of an instance in your DPS gear and only noticed when you wiped…. *points at self*… you might be a Bad Tank.
If you think that marking targets is only for n00bs… you might be a Bad Tank.
If you can’t alter your play to fit DPS or Healers that don’t know what they are doing… you might be a Bad Tank.
If you have ever wiped because you paid no attention whatsoever to your health and didn’t even bother to use a cooldown…. *points at self*… you might be a Bad Tank.

Sarabian says:

If you have ever said “What’s Righteous Fury?” …you might be a bad tank
If you are not specced in protection and queue as a tank …you might be a bad tank
If you have a healer sitting on the floor with a mug in his hand and a very teeny tiny blue bar as you run in and pull the next room …you might be a bad tank
If you taunt off of the mage that starts their Blizzard as you shoot the mob with an arrow to pull …you might be a bad tank
If you enter an instance as a tank and have not read up on all the fights …you might be a bad tank
If you have no glyphs …you might be a bad player

Phus says:

If you dont have the haerbalz to tell the dps to hold their horses you might be a bad tank
If you wipe the party because you didn’t turn the mob away from the party you might be a bad tank
If you watch the squishy dps die terribly because they can’t control their agro, you might be…wait no you’re cool

branson says:

If you loot mobs while there are still mobs beating on you, then you MIGHT be a bad tank.

Chillyhollow says:

You know how sometimes you are on a run and the tank, he goes and falls right off the edge of a handy cliff? KerBLOOM? Yes, sirree, that there’s a sign of what might be called–if you want to be cruel about it–(and I do) a bad tank.
If the hunter’s pet in the raid generates more aggro than you, well, DAMN. You might be a bad tank.

Tangerine says:

If you decide to take on the boss while the DPS and Healer are drinking and then when you are kissing the floor to actually have the balls to blame the healer for not healing you.. you might be a bad tank.

Saffron says:

If you ignore your healer saying she needs to switch spec and gear and start mass-pulling, you might be a bad tank.
If you tank without Defensive Stance to prove you’re cool, you might be a bad tank.
If you start trying to grief the party by leaving the instance and forcing us to wait another fifteen minutes to kick your sorry ass, you might be a very surprised tank when I log on my geared bear tank alt, have someone from my server in the party invite me, and annihilate the instance while you’re jeering at us from the safety of Ironforge…and then you come back and try (succeed) in wiping us by pulling the ghoul room in DTK onto me all at once when I have a sub80 healer, and continue to make our lives miserable by sprinting to Gnomeregan and clearing the place because it puts you in combat the whole time and that means we can’t kick you.
*Deep breath*
And then, you finally leave the damn group when only my dedicated warlock friend and I are left, and we put ourselves back in the RDF, with a few decent DPS, and clear the place in 5 minutes top, you might be A BAD TANK!

I hate you, you stupid paladin. And that wasn’t a one liner, to think about it.

If you’re a stupid bear who died on Sarth3D because she didn’t use any of her cooldowns at the enrage, you might be a bad tank. (MEEEEE)

Callyx says:

If your healer dies, and you proceed to blame them for “Not healing themselves”, you may be a bad tank.
If you can’t be bothered to interrupt because you have too many other buttons to press, you may be a bad tank.
If you’re a blood dk tanking in blood presence, you’re definitely a bad tank.

Oh, and this one: “If you are not specced in protection and queue as a tank …you might be a bad tank”
I think it only applies to tanks over 35 or so. It’s pretty common for pallies to tank as ret until they get some decent prot talents.

Rauxis says:

if you die you might be a bad tank
if your healer dies because she got aggro you might be a bad tank
if DPS dies and you care about them you might be a bad tank

Cornfedhick says:

You may be a bad tank if the priest has more armor than you.
If you have more MP5 than the healer you may be a bad tank.

Clapus says:

If the healer says ‘mana’ after a 10 mob trash pull and you say “no thanks’ you might be a bad tank.

Toureg says:

If you pop out of bear form to heal up after a very close fight on a trash pull where you just couldn’t seem to hold aggro and see that you have a fishing pole equipped you might be a bad tank.

feorfin says:

If you queue as “tank” to get short wait times but don’t have a tank spec, then you may be a bad tank…. and a bad dps.

Cold says:

If you open with Deathgrip, you may be a bad tank.

xmolder says:

If you ask a druid for a battle rez for a guildmate DPS over the group’s healer, you might be a bad tank.

Other Cassie says:

If you think the healer’s shield means that it’s reasonable for you to tell her to hold the boss for a minute while you go get a drink… you MIGHT be a bad tank.

Moonstalker says:

If the party wipes on a boss and you refuse to release because you’re too elite to run back, you might be a bad tank.

HerrDrache says:

If all the DPS have mana bars, and you’re pulling to the 2nd boss in H-Nex, and wonder why the bosses don’t die, you might be a baddadin.
If you’re asking to focus on your target (instead of marking) and switch targets every second, you might be a bad tank.
If you’re dual-wielding in starter gear on HoR(H), you might be a DK.
If you’re marking skull to ignore it, you might be a bad tank.
If you’re quitting after the sword (or Marvin) in HoR (H) for your Hilt-quest, you’re a bad tank.
If you’re not warning us that you’re new/rusty, then you’re a bad tank.
If you lose your 45+K health in plate in 3 GCDs, then you’re a dead tank.

Taeraresh says:

If you’ve ever tried to tank an instance with both a chef’s hat and a fishing pole equipped, you might be a bad tank, or you might just be me.

Largo says:

If you’re a mage, you might be a bad tank.
So STOP PULLING!

Bacon says:

If you’re a NE druid tank and you shadowmeld after a pull, you might be an EVIL tank.

Dothraki says:

If you tank with your fishing rod equipped, you might be a bad tank

Baerli says:

If you’re a druid and only have resto talents, but queue as tank, you might be a bad tank.
No joking, happened to me on my lvl21 hunter. Tank (druid lvl 30) couldn’t hold anything in bear, then switched to cat, then in caster form. Rogue and I ended up tanking most of it.

Berry says:

If I pull healing aggro and die… you might be a bad tank!

Grorg says:

If you forget to change presence/stance/RF after a spec switch, you might be a bad tank.
I haven’t done it since I made that mistake in ToC a couple months ago. Switched to dps spec for faction champs, and ended up doing Twin Valkyrs and Anub without a presence on.

I must have been doing something right though, because we downed the twins anyway. It’s hard to MT Anub without it though.

Delerius says:

If you are a tank and you don’t know what the words “threat” “aggro” and “taunt” mean, you might be a bad tank.

Veeka The Tree says:

You are a bad tank if you have no balls to make the pull.

Siobhann says:

If you’re a warrior or paladin and you’re not carrying a shield… you might be a bad tank.
If you don’t know about Righteous Fury… you might be a bad tank. (Yep, level 50 pally. RF is trained at lvl 16.)
If your healer is tanking more mobs than you are… you might be a bad tank.
If you’re crit… you might be a bad tank.
If you wonder what that empty blue bar is below your healer’s health bar is… you might be a bad tank.
If you give your healer blessing of might… you might be a bad tank.

Jacemcfly says:

If your a tank and don’t know you are a tank you might be a bad tank

Holly says:

If you’ve already pulled the first pack before the healer zones in, you may be a bad tank.
If you’ve never heard of the word ‘macro’, you may be a bad tank.
If you think ‘defense cap’ means you have a helmet on, you may be a bad tank.
If you only have 3 buttons on your action bar, you may be a bad tank.
If you find the party stays far enough back that you die, and they laugh when you ask for a ress……you may be a bad tank.
If you’re 2 rooms away by the time the rest of the group is done buffing….you may be a bad tank.

and lastly if you make a WoW blog about tanking where your title talks about how massive your hiney is you may…..wait, hold that one.

Paona says:

If you die with all of your survival cooldowns intact… you might be a bad tank.
If you’re specced into Vigilance, but don’t use it… you might be a bad tank.
If you think tanking is just “DPS-ing the enemy from the front”… you might be a bad tank.
If you think Spellpower is your best stat… you might be a bad tank.

Kevin says:

If you show up in LFD with res sickness, you might be a bad tank.
If you don’t notice you have res sickness and start pulling, you might be a REALLY bad tank.
If you have res sickness, pull, and on top of that fail to notice the healer is dead, you might be the WORST. TANK. EVER.

True story, believe it or not.

Cyrus says:

If you go down faster than a hunter on prom night, you might be a bad tank.

Rob says:

If you’re an Unholy DPS DK who thinks he can tank just by putting up Frost Presence…you might be a bad tank.

Ailea says:

If you wear your santa outfit while tanking ICC, you may be a bad tank.
If you constantly get whispers from your healer’s addon saying you are always out of line of sight or out of range, you may be a bad tank.
If you’re a druid tank and don’t have any points in Survival of the Fittest, you may be a bad tank. (Or at least not a self-respecting one 😛 )
If you have to wipe before you realize your healer has asked 5 times to stop for mana, you MIGHT be a bad tank 😛

Tesh says:

If you keep reminding the group that you’re a great tank… then you MIGHT be a bad tank.

Imanoob says:

If your druid healer looks like an uprooted hurricane victim you may be a bad tank.
If you ask what that cool ground effect under you is… You may be bad tank.
If the DK tank flys past in unholy pesence just as the healer shows DCed you MAY BE in for another long que.
If you are trying to kill that “caster” the hunter so kindly marked for you, while the other four mobs are chopping at your spine with big axes… You may be a bad tank.

dorgol says:

If you are in the right stance / presence, wearing the right gear, but in the wrong spec… you might be a bad tank. (Happens to everyone, right?)
If you join a group as a Tank but end the run healing the Warlock’s Pet… you might be a bad tank. (In my defense, this was while leveling during the early days of TBC, and the

Warlock was 6 levels higher than we were.)
If your pet Ghoul is doing and taking more damage than you are… you might be a bad tank. (I did more tanking on that run as an Enhancement Shaman. Was fun though!)
If you thin DnD stands for “Dungeons and Dragons”… you might be a cool dude, but also a bad tank.
If you use Divine Shield because “I was gonna die!”… you might be a bad tank.
IF YOU USE ARMY OF THE DEAD ON A DRAGON BOSS… I HATE YOU AND YOU ARE A BAD TANK.

Joel says:

If you use army of the dead or grasp … you are a bad dps.
If you can’t choose a talent tree … you might be a bad tank. (saw it!)
If you constantly lose threat to a warlock pet three levels below you … you might be a bad tank

Erthshade says:

@dorgol: What, you don’t play Dragon Roulette when the group overgears the place?

If you use a taunt as part of a tanking rotation… you might be a bad tank.
If the boss has its heiney in a void zone… you might be a bad tank.
If you stand in a void zone because of ‘lolHP’… you might be a bad tank.
If you let the MDing hunter die… wait, no, that’s a good thing.

Seleria says:

If your ICC10 pug wipes to gunship 4 times because you’re crittable… you might be a bad tank.
If you then want to try hardmode Saurfang… you might be an obliviously bad tank.
If it’s easier for the healer to swap specs and tank than to heal your butt… you might be a bad tank.
If you are a fresh 80 in crafted gear but chain pull heroics like you’re in 264 gear… you might be a bad tank.
If you are levelling up, have no real aoe threat abilities, and chain pull instances like you’re in 264 gear… you make me cry.

Wentockmosha says:

@dorgol, but da dragon boss dance be so much fun!

If Brann is dead on the floor, you might be a bad tank.
If you think plate is a license to taunt, you might be a bad tank.
If you think Death Grip is fun to mess with the dps, you might be a bad tank. ( I r not, but it is fun :P)

Skul says:

If you have all 71 talent points in a single tree…you might be a bad tank.
If your idea of a mana break is to pull only the next group instead of the next three, you might be a bad tank.
If you think you’re the best tank because you’re still standing after the rest of the party goes down (healer first, naturally), you might be a bad tank.

Talth says:

If you finish ToC with your lance on you might be a bad tank.
If you run randoms with your succubus you are a bad tank.

AngerFork says:

If your Warrior or Pally tanks with a 2-hander because a DK did so well at it once, you might be a bad tank.
If someone tells you to use LoS and you start thinking they misspelled a TV show title, you might be a bad tank.
If your gear is red and you refuse to fix it because it ‘looks pretty that way’, you might be a bad tank.
If you lose track of adds because you can’t pull your eyes away from Mr. Belvedere, you might be a bad tank.
If your group cries for a Taunt and you reply with a Yo Mama joke, you might be a bad tank.
If you are tanking in Cloth for the wicked stamina boost you’re getting, you might be a bad tank.
If you are spending too much time hitting on the healer to notice that plenty of enemies are hitting on her as well, you might be a bad tank.

Nightwhisp says:

If you think an interrupt is when the phone rings while you are standing in hellfire, you might be a bad tank.
If you think Mana was a gift that God gave to the Israelites, you might be a bad tank.
If you think 540 is code for “let’s roll a fatty”, you might be a bad tank.
If you leave the group right after the holiday boss or the one that drops that cool tanking shield, you might be a bad tank.
If you chain pull three groups and then leave group while still in combat, you might be a bad tank.
If you think Def Cap is a cute and cool rock band, you might be a bad tank.

Lightshope says:

If you put 71 points Unholy, always use Unholy presence, and enchant your spell power plate with +spell power, you might be a bad tank.
Unholy was fun to tank with in the Outlands while leveling though :-Þ
+1 on “If you show up in LFD with rez sickness, you might be a bad tank.”
If you show up in LFD with rez sickness, tell everyone that you’re stupid when you’re healer asks why you have rez sickness, and then start the first pull (still with rez sickness, you might be a bad tank…
If you you have full tier 10 tanking gear and can’t hold aggro over the 3k GS dps, then you might have bought your tank on Ebay…

SliderDaFeral says:

If the most common upgrade on your tanking gear is critical strike, you might be a bad tank.
If the most common upgrade on your tanking gear is mp5, you ARE a bad tank.
If the healer has more HP than you, you might be a bad tank.

Sina says:

If you ridicule the fresh level 80 healer’s poor gear and proceed to pull enough groups that she can’t keep you up thus “proving” your point, you just might be a bad tank.

jinkx says:

If you still have your bouqeut of flowers equipped to tank HOR HC instead of your weapon and you notice after downing the LK you might b a bad tank.
happened to me and ever since the guild has a new saying: pulling a jinkx… We survived though 🙂

Eberron of Ravenholdt says:

If every day you queue up and are constantly asked if you misqueued… You might be a bad tank.
If every time you queue up for a battleground and someone whispers you telling you that your PVP spec sucks without realizing what it is… You might be a bad tank.
If you stack avoidance in a fight made up of 90% magical damage, you… Might be a bad tank.
If you’re receiving your third battle rez in a single encounter… You just might be a bad tank.
If you’ve been tanking since vanilla and people routinely ask you if you’ve bought your character… You might be a bad tank.
If Eberron on Ravenholdt-US has you on ignore and you have never spoken directly to him, rest assured, you’re a bad tank.

Catsclaw says:

If you chain pull in crappy gear and run a Resto Druid out of mana…you ARE a bad tank!

Melfina the Blue says:

If you zone in, ignore the healer in shadowform, and proceed to pull half the instance, you might be a bad tank.
If you have never heard of ranged mobs, you might be a bad tank.
If you stand in the stuff on the floor because you think it’s pretty, you might be a bad tank.
If you’re attempting to tank wearing cloth heirlooms, you’re not only a bad tank but the idea of you having an 80 out there scares me.
If you’re yelling at the healer who just got one shotted from healing aggro while trying to keep you up, you might be a bad tank.

Faeldray says:

If you think that just meleeing (no special abilities) can keep all the mobs on you, you might be a bad tank.
If you hold aggro on a single mob only and completely ignore the other mobs running around splatting your DPS and healer, you might be a bad tank.
If a level 20 shammy with fire nova can tank the Deadmines better than you, you might be a bad tank.
If you never respond to the healer’s cries for mana and to slow down, and keep pulling massive groups of mobs that you can’t keep aggro on anyways, you are without a doubt an effing AWFUL tank.

The last three all came from the same pally “tank” in the same run. I was healing on my disc priest and my boyfriend’s shammy ended up tanking almost everything. The worst part was when the tank finally just left the group and the other DPSs asked to queue for another tank, never having realized that the shammy had been doing it the entire time. I wept for the future of the human race then.

If you tell your group to stay in one spot so you can pull back to them, and then later run into the next room, aggro everything, and only as you’re dying realize that they’re still back there because you forgot to tell them to move forward again…you might be a bad tank. (Me. Ooooops!)

Mentor says:

If you always look for shortcuts which fail 99% of the time you might be a bad tank..

Traellus says:

If you think tanking means you run into the middle of the group and let them hit you… you may be a bad tank
If you zone into an instance, grab all the mobs in the room and bring them towards the rest of the group just before zoning back out.. I hate you, want you dead, and you may be a bad tank (and a very bad person)
If the lock’s pet ends up tanking the mobs better then you, you may be a bad tank
If you zone into an instance and immediately cry, “God no, I can’t tank this” and drop group, you may be a bad tank (but at least you are aware of it)
If the group has to wait several minutes before each pull waiting for you to work out what to do, you may be a bad tank

Phoebrosa says:

When a kitty druid is able to steal and hold the aggro through most of the “maiden of pain” fight… perhaps you are missing something.
If said druid attempts to not steal aggro on a boss and ends up doing NO abilities – you suck.
When the kitty druid leaves form – casts innervate on healer, changes to bear for frenzied regeneration, uses survival instincts, and has flowers growing around her – YOU ARE NOT CONTROLLING THE AGGRO!!!
You pull the boss out of the black, purple or green spots or that deadly white stuff in occulus… and leave the rogue and kitty druid in it – you suck

Rauxis says:

if you refuse too take advice from your healer (who survived the last pull with 2 mobs pounding her) you might be a ….

Rhii says:

If the boss splats the healer while you happily tank his adds… you might be a bad tank.

suxxy says:

If you leave decursive on, and click it instead of the ad that appeared, thereby turning out of bear form and wiping the raid… then you MIGHT be a bad tank.
If you leave the default “auto cast on self” on, and accidentally click on a healing spell while tanking in bear form and wipe the raid… then you MIGHT be a bad tank.

Chillyhollow says:

If the tank brings his favorite Level 60 sword to a heroic 5-man PUG, that there might be a bad tank….
If the tank insists the way to run the instance is to sneak past the adds along the walls, you don’t have Sam Fisher, you have what some people might call a bad tank!

If your tank is being chased through the raid by the main raid boss, then you just might, maybe, have a bad tank.

Paona says:

If the other tank can draw aggro simply by autoattacking… you might be a bad tank.

Tank Talk: Choosing to Tank

Hmm, a tanking post that has nothing to do with math or stats or technique.

WoW is a social game, and tanking is, by definition, something done as part of a group effort. So, let’s talk for a bit about the social aspect of choosing to tank.

I think the biggest potential obstacle facing a good player who is contemplating trying to tank in a group is finding a way to deal with the consequences of failure, real or perceived.

Real or perceived by the tank, and by each individual of the groups they will be in.

I spent a lot of time thinking about the phrasing of that statement.

I said good player, and that’s at the core of where I’m coming from.

By good player, I meant people who care about what they do. Care about how well they do while playing their role, care about not screwing up and causing a wipe, care about whatever it may be that they’re doing, just care.

I think, sometimes, that it’s not fashionable to care about things in the game. That, somehow, if you allow yourself to care, to become emotionally invested in something thats “just a game”, you’re tossed off as a loser.

To me, the structure of WoW is a video game, sure, but as soon as you move from interacting with programmed AI to a group, to actually playing with other real living people, it’s no longer “just a game”. It’s now all about playing, interacting, and socializing with others.

Suddenly, the only difference between grouping in WoW and getting together at a party, bar, pool hall, hopscotch tournament or sporting event is that if you act like a dick, the people around you can’t grab you by the throat and choke the living shit out of you.

Just a game”? Like hell. It’s the biggest game there is; interacting with other people, working together towards a common goal. Whether trying to be a leader or a team player, putting the success of the group above your own snotty feelings of the moment.

Who are the losers in real social situations? Assuming a group of people who share similar interests and could be considered part of the same clique, it’s the people who act like self-centered asshats that become ostracized by the rest of the potential group. Nobody will hang out with them except, of course, other asshats, who splinter off and console themselves by saying the rest of the group were losers anyhow.

Enough BS pop psychology so simplified it’s nearly insulting. Let’s move on before Cassie flames me.

To me, it’s the players that just don’t care, who don’t “give a f%&^” that are the players I never, ever want to see again in my groups. They’re the ones you run into that are in it for themselves, care nothing about anyone else, and who, if feeling themselves slighted or inconvenienced, whether from a slow run (by their standards) or a repair bill or just from having things not go according to THEIR plan, will lash out with hatred and venom instantly to make sure everyone else suffers too.

A good player, to me, is simply someone that cares. Everything else is negotiable.

Any time I am playing any character, if I’m running solo I’m fine. I will be relaxed and confident that whatever happens, nobody but me will get annoyed.

If I’m grouping up, then it’s a different game entirely. Why? Because whatever I do affects other real people, and I don’t want to be the one that screws up or causes the group to fail, or even annoys people. I’m playing for fun, I am inferring that THEY are playing for fun, and I don’t want to ruin other people’s fun with my idiocy.

As soon as someone in the group reveals through their words or actions that they don’t care… well, I’ve said it before, you don’t have to be anybody’s bitch. You deserve a certain amount of consideration and respect, too.

The group requirement is a big obstacle for potential tanks.

By definition, tanking is a group activity, right? So, no matter how well you know your character or spec, at some point you HAVE to face the very first time you will be tanking for someone else.

Tanking a group run consists of a different set of concerns than soloing, regardless of spec.

Let’s say you level as a tanking spec. That will help you to become familiar with the mechanics of the spec, and be more comfortable with what you’re capable of. That’s a great thing.

Even if you dual spec at 80, practising your technique while soloing will help you get comfortable with what you can do. Sure, it’s a good idea.

When you’re soloing, though, the mobs you attack aren’t being distracted by other players. You’re not learning what your big threat generating attacks are, what speed sequences work best for different situations, or have a need to practise generating reactive threat.

You never have to fight to keep the attention of the mobs on you.

Also, while soloing you don’t have an opportunity to practise manuevering yourself and the mobs into positions tactically advantageous to the rest of the party and seeing how well it really works.

Yes, you CAN practise line of sight pulls around terrain obstacles to bring ranged casters closer, and yes you CAN find groups of mixed melee and ranged mobs so that, as a Bear, you can practise our unique skill of Feral Charge to leap from ranged mob to ranged mob, pounding them in sequence and building threat in turns.

But you’re also limited in the size and frequency of that kind of training by not having a healer… and again by not having competing threat generators (those pesky DPS) to challenge your control.

Those skills only really come from experience in groups.

At some point, to be a tank you’ll have to volunteer to tank for others without having any actual group threat and mob control tanking experience.

It’s the very first time thats the worst, when the fear is highest, the fear of failure, of screwing up, of letting the team down.

That first experience, I think, is where we lose a lot of potentially great tanks.

Just the knowledge that you have to tank cold and learn as you go is daunting.

How much worse if you have to join group for the first time with strangers?

Some quick advice; do not, do NOT group up as a tank for your first time with a group of strangers. You might get a group of good players, but chances are high that at least one will be a self-centered snot.

All it takes is one to ruin that first time. Please, don’t do it! Ask some friends, or friends of friends, to go with you knowing that you want to take it slow and ease into it.

My second bit of advice, reiterated from before, is practise your actual skills and talents ahead of time. When you go into an instance (or group situation) for the first time, you should already know what the buttons do.

My third piece of advise is, study the instances ahead of time, and be familiar with them. Most especially, read up on what various mobs and bosses do before you go in, if possible. This isn’t meant to spoil new content, but is very important when tanking content that everyone around you has memorized already. Wowwiki and Wowhead both have excellent comprehensive resources describing each instance, and the mbos and bosses within. 

When you enter that instance with a group for the first time, you should know your buttons, be familiar with your surroundings, and know where to go next. That frees you up to focus on learning/practising two new group-only aspects of tanking;

  1. How to grab mobs and build threat as fast as possible. Controlling the mobs.
  2. How to manuever your camera view to watch the room around you, and do it all the time. Situational awareness.

The first one is obvious. The DPS especially, but also the healer, will generate threat. This finally gives you a means to compare your own ability to generate threat against others. Use your Omen, use your Tidyplates/Threatplates, and concentrate NOT on generating your highest DPS but on cranking out your highest possible THREAT per second. You’ll find that is situational. Some of your best threat abilities will be single target only, and if you use a Global Cooldwon on them, you’ll be losing threat on a group of mobs. For Bears, learning when to start with group AoE threat abilities first like Maul and Swipe, and when to ease off Swipe and switch in others during your GCD comes from experience… and learning what your party will do.

The second one goes with the first. If you lose aggro, being fluid and watching your surroundings will show you what’s going on behind you. If you don’t see the mobs break off and go after your healer, then you can’t react to it with, say, a Feral Charge to a mob on the healer followed by a Challenging Roar.

Also, sometimes members of your party will stand in the wrong place and pull mobs from another group. You have to be able to move your view around and see what those chuckleheads are getting into.

It also helps to be able to see if someone in your group is just an idiot, and stands in the green slime all the time. Knowing that the reason their health is dropping is that they won’t move their ass helps take the feeling of personal responsibility over their life off your shoulders.

It also helps warn you that the healer is probably having to spend their own Global Cooldowns on saving said idiot, rather than on healing you. Time to be prepared to pop your own Survivability and Damage Mitigation cooldowns? Could be.

Please, the first time you run with a group, do it with considerate friends that will help. And try and keep at it, practising until you’re pretty happy with it.

But, that being said, the next hurdle will be deciding if you are willing to put up with random bullshit from asshats to tank for randoms.

It will happen. Nobody that tanks randoms gets good players ALL the time.

From that point on, having given yourself every possible opportunity to learn and practise and master the basics and nuances of tanking…

It’s your call.

I know of several really good players that just don’t tank for random groups. They’ll DPS, and they MIGHT heal, but they won’t put up with the casual abuse. They tank for friends, and that’s it.

I hear that from far more people in private comments than you might believe.

If that’s what you choose, I support you 100%. I’ll say it again in a different way; you do not have to suffer abuse from other people. It’s not your job to be somebody else’s chew toy. If you tank in randoms and people throw abuse your way… you don’t have to deal with it. Put them on ignore at the very least.

What I hope is, if you’re facing that wall, the fear of failing a group, if THAT is what is keeping you from trying tanking for the very first time…

I really hope that you’ll prepare, give yourself every chance at success, and then give it a try with friends. Tanking is an incredibly fun aspect of the game, and you’ll never know if it’s that one thing that really ‘clicks’ with you until you give it a try.

Any model builders in the crowd?

Earlier this evening, our family watched the latest episode of James May’s Toy Stories on BBC America.

It’s basically a nostalgic look back on the hobbies of yesteryear, and a completely doomed attempt by a middle aged white guy to make them seem cool to the generation AFTER the Nintendo generation.

There was the model train episode, the erector set episode, and the modeling clay episode. All of which, apparently, go under different manufacturer’s trade names in England.

What? Other countries had their own versions of products? Go figure.

I enjoy the show because the inherently futile nature of James May’s quest to have kids tell him that, yes, what he did as a kid IS cool, is somehow fulfilling to me. It’s not Hamlet, but his utter cluelessness does qualify as a tragedy.

My son, on the other hand, finds this talk of toys on TV by stuffy adults interesting for it’s own sake, and we do our part by gushing over the awesomeness of what they do on the show. The model train show, for example, saw us explaining just how amazing the feat of a 15 mile working model train track was by comparing it to how far away his Grandma lives, and multiplying that by two.

Anyway, sorry. Follow the bloody link, that’ll tell you more about the show if you’re interested.

Mah point is, we watched it earlier this evening, and the topic was plastic model kits.

Well, hellfire, finally something I actually DID as a kid!

I loved putting together those damn model kits. Military planes and tanks were my subjects of choice. I was messy with glue, I didn’t have very good attention to detail, and much like Calvin and Hobbes, working canopies and landing gear, in my hands, quickly weren’t.

But that’s okay. At the same time, my other fascination was with fireworks. My stepfather sold ’em illegally out the back of a panel truck at the local swap meet. I, at the ripe old age of 12, used to actually be the one to drive the truck on my own down to the swap meet, which as I recall was held at the time at the Hialeah Race Track parking lot. this was before he became my stepfather; at the time, he was the guy that hired me to help stock shelves and work the register at his Five and Dime store, and I got the job to support my Pac-Man habit.

You know, come to think of it, my life has been filled with things that I would never let my son do in a million years, and that if I’m unlucky could still net me, or others, jail time. Maybe I need to start screening my memoirs.

I just fact checked myself. By god, I really WAS twelve when I did that. Wow. I hope my son never sees this; ain’t no way in HELL I’m letting that boy drive my car at twelve.

Where the heck? Oh right.

Plastic model kits and fireworks. It seems so obvious to juxtapose the two, doesn’t it? Who HASN’T stuck cherry bombs and M-80s up a jet’s tailpipe? C’mon, be honest. Or taken a shitload of bottle rockets, daisy chained the fuses and hot glued them to your jet’s wings to see if you could achieve powered flight.

Who else out there found out that what hot bottle rocket exhaust mostly does is melt airplane wings?

Ah, good times, good times. I still fondly recall taking the giant sized bags of plastic army men, planting them all over a huge dirt mound at the local construction site, adding tanks, and then mining the entire area with daisy chained firecrackers (Black Cat for preference) and lobbing M-80s at the stubborn ones.

Hmm. What the hell was I talking about before I got sidetracked into making things boom?

Oh right. Plastic model kits.

Our son watched the episode, and I could see the gears turning. I asked him if he’d like to build a model.

“Of course not, father, that is much too boring for me. I’d prefer a nice biscuit and a cup of tea.”

What do you think he said? He said YES!

So, he’s seven years old, and I haven’t built a model kit since I traded firecrackers for 40mm grenades.

What I do recall is Revell made a line of snap together model kits that were for beginners, models that didn’t require glue. They even had adhesive labels instead of the water decals.

I did a quick scan for plastic model kits on the internet, wondering if this was a hobby that has gone the way of the dodo, and found to my astonishment that there are thousands of kits and dozens of companies in the mix.

Too many choices, and no good places I found to find reviews from people NOT trying to sell me something.

So, I turn to you in the hopes that I might have some readers out there that still love building models, and have an awareness of the various levels of quality and sophistication (or lack thereof).

Anybody have any personal opinions on what manufacturers or brands would be good quality and skill level for a dad and seven year old to build together, with the idea that I really like my son to take the lead and figure these things out himself as we go, with my nudges? I don’t do the “let me take that and do it all for you as you watch” thing, you don’t learn anything that way.

I saw that BanBan apparently does some snap kit Gundam mech figures that look awesome, and Revell is doing snap tite Star Wars kits, and all sorts of craziness out there. And I think there were some dinosaurs available from someone.

Seriously, anybody got any knowledge of this stuff that could give us some guidance? I’d like to have some clue of what brands or kits to look for before I drag him into one of the massive local hobby stores and see him run RIGHT straight for the $300 precision scale models designed for the professional hobbyists.

I love that line. “Professional hobbyist”. Look, I’m Gallagher!

I asked him what kinds of models he’d want to try, and the categories come down to military tanks and spaceships.

Tanks and spaceships! [sniff]

I’m so proud!

Still, he didn’t know dinosaurs or giant robots were options, so I’m keeping my mind open. Or maybe it’s just that *I* want to build giant robots.

Either way!

Follow the thought process here

Last night, as I walked through the living room, my son was sitting at his playtable building with Legos.

He looked up at me, all bubbly with enthusiasm, and said, “Daddy, look! I made a catlaunch!”

I stopped dead in my tracks, looked, and saw that he’d made what could best be described as a long board, balanced on a pivot point, with a weight at one end and a little platform on the other.

You ever have one of those moments where someone says something to you, and you can just SEE the train of thought that led them there? 

I replied, “Sweetie, it’s a cataPULT, not a catlaunch. And the name doesn’t mean it’s for ‘pulting cats, or launching cats, or flinging cats. It’s just what they’re called.”

“Oh.”

Clearly, he’d heard me call it by name, and made an obvious mental connection that made a kind of sense.

I felt pretty bad about correcting him… I’d have dearly loved to let that one go until it came up in school.

But this does beg the question…

Why DOESN’T the Horde have Gnomeapults?

Writing about reading genres

Completely non-WoW post, nothing whatsoever to do with WoW.

A disclaimer, for the short attention span ooh shiny TL;DR audience… in this post, BBB goes bitch, bitch, bitch. I’m still trying to figure out of there was anything of value in this to anyone but me. But what the hell, here goes.

~ o ~

I like reading science fiction, and I like reading fantasy. I also like detective fiction, superhero comics, military adventure, action adventure, dramas, in fact I like books in quite a few different categories.

If you nodded along with that statement and didn’t see anything wrong with it, than it’s probably just me that has this grumpy old man problem with how I look at things. You’re probably going to think I’m insane. That’s okay, I think the same thing often enough.

See, I like to READ.

What I’m most comfortable reading are books. Books are portable. They don’t take batteries. If I drop one in a puddle, I’m not out a couple hundred bucks; I’m out a book I can pick up again at a local bookstore. I can take the book with me when I eat lunch, and I can leave it in the front seat of my car in the sure and certain knowledge that 99.999% of thieves will not break the windows of my car to steal it.

There is always that 0.001% chance you get a thief that wants to bring a book home to his/her kids; I’m willing to take those odds.

Sometimes the books have pictures, sometimes not. Sometimes the books are fictional, sometimes not.

Regardless, I like to read. Heinlein once wrote that he had it real bad; he’d read the used newspaper that was used to hold fish and chips if nothing else was available. Yeah, I know EXACTLY what he meant.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve actually become aware that books, those things I enjoy reading, are pre-segregated into categories. Books when they are published are carefully judged by others, and grouped together under category labels.

Sure, that’s obvious. It’s hard to imagine it being any other way. What in the heck can I possibly find in such an innocuous fact to be pissy about?

I’m going to be pissy about categories and segregation in general, but I’m also going to hit up the two biggest boxes that make my flesh writhe.

Science Fiction and Fantasy.

When I was a kid, those were two distinct categories. Science Fiction was one category, and Fantasy was another.

At that point, it was already much too late. The battle, if there ever was one, was long since lost.

What is the Keyser Söze quote? “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” 

Another applicable quote, often attributed to Edmund Burke; “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Well, in my opinion the greatest disservice ever done to open-minded readers was to allow people to create boxes (categories), assign labels to the boxes, and then judge each book for us, slapping a label on it before cramming them in their box and slamming the lid shut. A place for each book, and each book in it’s own proper place.

I say allow… as in, it had to start sometime, and that was the only time people had a chance to stand up and say, NO! It’s either fiction, or it ain’t. Any other category is subjective, judgmental, and in the eye of the beholder.

But it’s been too late for as long as I’ve been alive. It just took me a long, long time to notice the long term effects.

After that fait accompli, getting books categorized, the mopping up operations got under way, and have never stopped… people passing judgment on which book deserves to go where.

“Is this worthy of being in the fiction section, where serious works by important minds are gathered together? No! Into the Science Fiction box it goes with the other fairy tales and flights of fancy. Just keep that trash away from the serious literary works like The Great Gatsby.”

I did my best to make my point there with a sledge hammer. 🙂

Can you make a point with a blunt object? I’m willing to give it a try. If not, at least I can mangle similes so bad I make ’em cry.

Here’s where I’m coming from with this, and my attitude incorporates elements of “the times, they are a’changing”, grumpy old man get off my lawn type stuff.

First off, I am the ultimate egalitarian. I believe that there is no such thing as someone that is suitable to decide FOR me what I should or should not be allowed to read and consider.

That belief is burned into my bones and blood, and informs everything else about me. Control of knowledge is, in my opinion, a direct attempt to control not just what people think, but HOW they think. Everyone should have an equal opportunity to read, to learn, to consider, and to decide for themselves what they think about anything under the sun.

If you are of the opinion, as so many folks seem to be, that there are some people that just need to be told what to do, that are good for earning a paycheck and not much else, the great unwashed, the lower or middle classes, the cows requiring shephards to point the way, and that above them are the elite thinkers guiding the engine of progress… if you think of people in terms of how productive they are in serving as fuel for the great engine of progress, and once someone is too old or inform to produce, whay are we still feeding them? Well, you’re not going to like me if you meet me, I’ll leave it at that. You don’t want to have me start looking you up and down and begin questioning publicly your ‘right’ to consider yourself one of the elite, let alone pinning you down as to what you provide to society in general, and humanity in particular, that justifies you getting free oxygen. Trust me. If you can judge others as being beneath you, I feel fine in judging YOU. No worries on my conscience at all for ripping you a new one.

Freedom of choice, freedom to accept responsibility for your actions, and freedom to suffer the consequences are also built into my attitudes as well.

All clear? Let’s go.

When I was a child of elementary age, I had available to me one of the greatest gifts possible. I didn’t know enough then to appreciate it fully, not the way I do now. But I had the gift, thanks to some beautiful tax paying citizens, and I used it just the same.

The public middle school I attended in downtown Miami, Florida had a school library. A large school library. A freaking HUGE school library.

In what way am I measuring size? Why, comparatively, of course, the same time honored technique I trust is still in use by boys in locker rooms everywhere. 

In my case, I’ve toured some schools and seen some of the libraries in the area here in Minnesota, and they are… well, ludicrous. Pathetic. Mediocre. Miniscule. Marginalized.

The school libraries up here are f’ing shameful. They show all the care, thought and consideration you’d give to what trash can to stick in your second spare bathroom.

“Trash can? Got it, check.”

Same apparent care given to the school libraries.

“Does the school have a library? Room with books in, check!”

Not in my middle school as a child.

The middle school I attended, which as I recall was for 6 – 9th grade students, with High School covering grades 10 – 12, was huge. To handle the population of the middle of Miami, it’s probably not surprising. Massive sports fields, basketball courts, gyms and band rooms and just, holy cow. Big. And the High School! Damn.

We didn’t have cliques, we had the kind of gang wars you see in TV shows and laugh at as being impossible. No, they’re not, not when you get big enough class sizes, thank you. You put enough kids in one place with minimal possible adult supervision, and the Lord of the Flies becomes more than a book on a required reading list somewhere.

Well, along with everything else, the library was also super sized. And, believe it or not, the gangs didn’t often venture into it’s cavernous space. Perhaps they were afraid that the concentrated power of so much knowledge would cause their heads to explode.

I often wondered if it would, actually. Kinda like matter and anti-matter colliding. Gang kids and libraries. Boom!

This school library had an immense fiction section, of which I partook the way a starving man might launch himself at a Ritz cracker being carried off by ants.

I want to note here; a fiction section. Not a science fiction section, or a fantasy section, or a romance section or military or Judy Bloom style episodic or whatever.

Just fiction. Everything that wasn’t non-fiction went HERE in this big section of stacks.

Omigod, how the hell did anyone ever find something to read? I know, right? It must have been impossible to actually find a book in there!

Amazingly enough, I was able to find books. Granted, I did not know what pre-assigned categories the secret masters of the universe had previously assigned them to; I had to wing it, and pick stuff to read based on how their book jacket blurbs sounded. Sometimes, I went nuts and picked based on cover illustration.

Here’s the crazy part; I found out that there was no direct corrolation between the quality of cover art, and the quality of the written word within the pages. Holy shit, huh? You’da thunk the books with the best art on the cover would be the best, wouldn’t you?

Moving on, I didn’t browse the science fiction section looking for something suitably appropriate for my interests, as predetermined by someone that knows what’s best for me.

I also didn’t read books pre-judged as being suitable for my age.

Everything was there, apparently bought by the pound. Heinlein and Asimov and Bradbury and the masters of the Golden Age of science fiction, shoulder to shoulder with Tolkein and Chandler and Asprin and, oh heck, you name it.

I was a damn kid, I didn’t KNOW what my interests were yet. I just knew I wanted something to READ. And I had this gift given to me… no guidance. No “this is appropriate for your age, try this and see if it’s too difficult”.

Nope, just a big pile o’ books.

I was hunting for something cool and exciting, preferrably, but knowing something new wasn’t to be scoffed at, as long as it wasn’t boring.

I read a ton of stuff. I swept the library, and from there moved on to the public library that DID have sections and categories, but they were very tentative.

At that age I made a horrible mistake that I’ve carried with me the rest of my life. I paid little to no attention to the names of the authors or titles of the books I was reading. I just read everything, voraciously.

This has since bit me on the ass endless times over the decades, as I will see a book, read the cover blurb, think it sounds interesting, and take it home. About halfway through, it will occur to me that this story, these characters, this entire book seems suspiciously familiar.

Deja Vu? No, just a book I’ve read before without noting author or title, and now have read half of again without even bloody knowing it.

During that period in the school library, I found out that I wasn’t a science fiction reader, or a fantasy reader, or a detective fiction reader, or someone who likes westerns, or a historical romance reader, or any other carefully crafted pigeonhole to help the secret masters of the universe put me in my proper place.

Nope! I’m just someone who likes a well written book regardless of where the story may be set.

I didn’t set limits on what I allowed myself to read, and nobody else had set those limits FOR me.

One of the books there was the Illuminatus! trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson, and let me tell you something, if you think that a 12 year old can’t read something meant for adults and get an education, you’re crazy.

For one thing, it actually gave me some idea of how crazy you older idiots were in the sixties. Funny how that stuff kinda got buried and passed over in hostory class, as if the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis and the JFK assassination were the only topics worth knowing, and everyone walked aruond in suit and tie and were sober and sophisticated. Yeah, right!

Stoner hippies were an eye opener. Hi mom! I understand everything a LOT better now, thanks.

I’m going to ramble on further for quite a bit now, but I really wanted to get that point down, because it’s important to me.

I know for a fact that because there WAS no structure or classification to the fiction section of that library, I read and enjoyed books, was deeply enriched by books, and had my horizons expanded by books that I never would have read if there had been a “Science Fiction” section, or a “Fantasy” section, or a “clones of the Lord of the Rings” section.

It was a rude awakening when I went into a public library looking for books, and found out that there was a single “science fiction/fantasy” section to cram all those books into.

I still remember, and this goes back thirty years now, I remember that moment at ten or eleven when I looked around and thought, “What moron thinks science fiction is the same as fantasy, and lumped them both together like this? Wow, they don’t have a clue.”

It took a long time to really come to grips with the idea that some folks actually feel challenged by having any other style of writing given official recognition. That there is a self-styled elite class of literary snobs out there that want to keep ‘populist trash’ from being classes alongside their favorites.

As I said, egalitarian. Thinking like that doesn’t come naturally. 

There are people out there that know that they know better than you or I. That think that they ARE better than you. Better than me. Better than all of us unwashed swine reading our populist trash.

“Populist trash” does say it all, doesn’t it? The opiate of the masses. Those things we use to distract us from the pathetic meanness of our little lives. The things we read that are barely one step up from TV.

Do I really need to say more?

Categories do serve a purpose… in the exact same way stereotypes do. They allow us to make surface judgments about something without taking the time to THINK, or take a risk and spend some time to find out more for ourselves.

Oh look, a republican, a democrat, a conservative, a liberal, a green energy wacko, an NRA gun nut, a blue collar worker, a politician, an executive, a banker, a high school dropout, a biker, a nerd, a geek, a goth, an emo, a jock, a stoner, a tofu-eating pillow-biting kool-aid drinking Obama supporter.

Labels. Stereotypes. A simple grouping of words meant to take the totality of all that a person is, and dismiss ALL of it in one shot. To dismiss THEM, make them irrelevant, their opinions, their dreams, their hopes and their goals, flush them all and cram them into a box.

Labels. Categories.

It’s the same thing with books. You take a book, slap a “Science Fiction” label on it, and dismiss it. It’s just science fiction, after all. No actual thought went into it. Populist trash.

You think I’m overstating things?

Maybe I am at that.

But I’d like you to take a little time, and think about your own experiences in book stores or libraries.

Have you ever known you liked the writing of a particular author, and went looking for it, only to find it in not one, but multiple areas?

Take John Ringo for example. He wrote some books that were categorised as science fiction. So, they got slapped with the sci fi label and shoved into the sci fi library stacks.

But then he wrote some military adventure fiction. Not a single science fiction aspect to it at all.

You go looking for those books, and half the time you’ll find some are in the science fiction section, because he’s a “science fiction writer”. He was tagged and bagged, and so that’s where his books get shoved. Not all of them, clearly not everyone is with the program.

And that’s what makes it really stand out. It’s not consistent. It’s each book, or each author, getting judged and then dismissed.

Take another example, Dean Koontz.

When Dean Koontz books were first published, they were categorized as “Horror”. Stephen King, too. And Straub, and others.

Dean Koontz is a great example, though, because although his books all hold some element of the fantastic, the amazing, the supernatural, they are a far cry from “Horror”.

Suspenseful, sure. Surprising? Certainly. More fantasy or speculative or thoughtful, in my opinion.

But they’re also one other thing.

Almost all of his books culimate in inspirational endings, as in “leave you feeling good, with thoughts of a positive nature”.

Yes, there may be suspense, surprise and fear along the way, but I’m having a hard damn time thinking of a single Dean Koontz book that had an ‘unhappy’ ending.

Dragon Eyes was one of the most intense books in my opinion, with a truly terrifying opponent, but even that book was a triumph of compassion and order winning over chaos and evil.

But you look in a library and see where Dean Koontz can be found. Some of it is in the fiction section, and some of it is still in horror, if there still IS a horror section. I think that the popularity of Stephen King actually helped to kill the Horror category over the last few decades.

It’s still there to be found, though. “Is my Raymond Chandler book in the mystery section, or the fiction section at this library? What did the judgmental folks decide here?”

Lee Child is another one. Adventure fiction, hugely enjoyable books. I’ve seen them both in fiction, and in mystery. Likewise with Ian Rankin.

Lawrence Block seems to be nailed down in the mystery section, although I’ll be damned if I can understand how his Matthew Scudder books are somehow less ‘fiction’ than Lee Child.

There is one other aspect to categories I swear I’ve noticed, and I really don’t know which came first, the chicken or the egg.

When I started reading books that were science fiction, the books were fiction first and foremost, and the science part meant they looked with keen analysis on the world we live in, and took serious looks at the underpinnings of everything.

A book could be considered science fiction if it was about exploring alternate, currently non-existing forms of government. Political science was enough science, when looked at speculatively, to be science fiction. It didn’t have to have rayguns and flying saucers.

Emotions, relationships, alien reproduction as a metaphor for human sexual mores and cultural attitudes, it was all fair game to be written about, and called science fiction.

It almost feels like, at some point writers began writing TO the stereotypes and categories.

As though the success of a series like “The Lord of the Rings” brought respectability, and that encouraged writers to follow in the same mold.

Or “Star Wars” and writers of science fiction.

To what degree does the existence of a category and a stereotype about that category encourage people to write FOR that category, trying to be included?

Do mystery authors try to write in a formulaic way so their book qualifies to be labeled a ‘mystery’?

I told you this was a cranky old man post. I have no wonderful new ideas.

Categories are here to stay. That war was lost before it ever started. Who chooses categories? Who judges books?

I’m sure things have rolled along to through the generation to the point that the original elitist snarks are long gone, and most people who are in the position to make those choices are in that field because they love it, love books, and would never think of having some secret, machiavellian plot in mind to marginalize the books they don’t like by sticking them safely in a category.

It’s just the way it’s done.

I do think about that kid I was, and wonder what my worldview and understanding of things would be like if I’d just been restricted to Judy Blume, the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew mysteries, and Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators.

Hmm, Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators. Hell, I loved that series, come to think of it. I wonder if I can find that set for Alex to read someday?