Dec 28

Here’s Some Other 2014 Games I Wanted To Talk About.

When I make a top ten list, I feel like it should be things I finished and came out this year or whatever? And it’s hard to make a list.

Anyway, here’s some other games from this year (or that I played this year, anyway) that I felt I needed to say a thing about.

South Park: The Stick of Truth
Can I just say that I don’t like that this is here, really? Like, South Park has done some REALLY GROSS SHIT. The game itself does some things that I don’t appreciate as well. Thanks for bringing up that dolphin episode in a throwaway joke, assholes. Yet at the same time, Kenny gets to be a Princess and everyone just kind of… goes with it? It’s a really confusing thing. I have confusing feelings about the game.
But let’s just be clear: the game is REALLY FUNNY when it isn’t trying to shock you. The combat is a fantastic version of Mario RPG and a lot of fun to play. And also you eventually get to the point where your character (who has to be male for like… absolutely no reason) can crossdress and fire pink heart arrows and nobody cares, and it’s kind of great. It’s great, and it’s awful. I had a really good time with it.

Mario Golf: World Tour
This is a really solid Mario Golf release. I love Mario Golf a lot. But man, the lack of a compelling single player RPG mode just really drains a lot of the fun out of the game, you know? The online tournaments are really welcome, but that just doesn’t do much for me. I’m not one for a lot of competition with others. Solid, but just… thinking of what could be, it’s sort of sad.

Murdered: Soul Suspect
This game is better than it probably should be. It’s charming, and though the hide and run gameplay is often kind of annoying, the mystery and elements like that are top notch and fun. It’s almost a shame there won’t be some sort of sequel, because I bet they’d nail it with another go around. Still, totally worth playing if you like mysteries. Pick it up on a sale.

Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F
Originally I was all like “Ha ha, Hatsune Miku, how silly, how can people be obsessed with her and all this stuff!” and then I kept kind of digging into it to try to find the appeal and at some point this kind of spiteful research turned into a respect and a like, and then I got this game for cheap and played it, and OH MAN. It’s honestly a lot of fun playing dressup with the vocaloids and the songs are really charming! It’s really cute! I… quite like Hatsune Miku. Gotta play the second one. It’s on it’s way, actually.

Divinity: Dragon Commander
This isn’t from this year, but OH MAN did I love this game. Like, it would have been very high on my list if it was from this year. There’s some RTS stuff? Just put it on easy, that stuff is pointless. The real fun is that it’s this ruler simulator where you have to make all these political decisions that connect to the world today. It makes you kind of understand why it is not so easy to enact those things you want to enact. I really liked all the characters, and all the diplomacy. It was SO AWESOME. Get this for like 5 bucks.

Marvel Puzzle Quest

I am so addicted to this because the gameplay is so casual and fun and well-put together and I play it EVERY SINGLE DAY since I put it on my phone and I really wish it wasn’t so GROSS with how it treats real money transactions so I could recommend it. Don’t play Marvel Puzzle Quest. But if you do, let me know, because I’ll talk your ear off about it.

Broken Age (Part 1)
REALLY WANT PART 2. Part 1 is really charming and a really fun time and all the quality one would expect from Double Fine in their element. It’s really good stuff. But I mean, I want to see it all pay off, so I hesitate to toot its horn too much. Part 2 could fall apart. I sure hope not, though.

The Fall
GREAT STORYTELLING and a fun little time. It’s short. It’s clearly not complete. But what’s there sure makes one want to keep going. I sure as heck going to buy the sequels and whatnot.

Okay, there, that’s that. I’m sure I’ll copy over my book list sometime near the beginning of the year? So maybe look forward to that. But yeah, overall, 2014 sucked, good riddance, let’s hope 2015 is better, yeah?

Dec 27

Can I Make a Top Ten List for 2014? Apparently So.

Hi poor, neglected blog. I thought I’d try to make a top ten games of 2014.
Can I name 10 games that came out this year that I liked and finished? Apparently I can name 16. So let’s try to make a list, I guess. I’ll do it like I used to. I’ll do some runners up tomorrow, and a top ten today. How about that?

Okay, here’s my top 10 games of 2014 then, I guess.

1. Dangan Ronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
The first one was awesome too, but had… problems. Which I’ll talk about later. But man, the whole series is just MADE for me. Seriously. Completely. Dangan Ronpa 2 had some of the best characters I’ve interacted with in a video game in a long time, and I just love the detective gameplay. I really, truly do. The game also does its best to subvert and play with all the expectations you had from playing the first game, and does so masterfully. Just… a game people should play. Yeah.

2. Nidhogg
I didn’t play as much of this as I wanted, but every time I boot it up to fence someone, I’m blown away, again, by how fantastic of a game it is. It’s so well balanced and so well put together. It’s tense, it’s fast-paced, and it honestly isn’t that hard to get the hang of on a basic level. But it has depth, that depth that comes from needing to parry and fake out your opponent, that keeps one coming back again and again. I will play someone in Nidhogg ANY TIME. It is SUPER GREAT.

3. Freedom Planet
Sometimes I back “furry” kickstarters on a whim, because I want to, I dunno, support my sort of animal people? I don’t know. I can’t remember why I backed Freedom Planet, but I remember looking at some of the updates, and asking myself why I did, and feeling embarrassed.
Then it came out, and I couldn’t stop playing it.
Freedom Planet is not perfect, but it nails that sense of speed that Sonic tries for, and often fails at, and unlike Sonic, I always felt like I was in control. The game is just FUN, and I actually attempted a speedrun at it because I wanted an excuse to keep playing. Let me repeat that. I practiced a little at speedrunning this game because I liked it so much. I’m not much for the story, perse, though I appreciate it’s GAY AS HECK, but even if you skip all the story, it oozes charm, and it’s something I feel like you really should play if you have even the vaguest fondness for Sonic, or just want a good platformer.

4. Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

A way better Ace Attorney game than Dual Destinies, it was saddled with a lot of the Layton series’ ridiculousness in a bad way with a twist that kind of undermines a lot. But man, the witch trials are SO MUCH FUN in this. It’s great taking what you know from Phoenix Wright games and suddenly being without common tools, where you have to prove something without basic forensic information like fingerprinting. It wasn’t really more of a challenge, but it felt like it. There is some gender ick in here, but I feel like it’s extremely minor, as unlike a lot of these sorts of situations, the logic the game gives you makes PERFECT sense in the world of the story without being gross. But it would still be better if it weren’t there at all, you know? In any case, I really enjoyed it.

5. Transistor
What a beautiful game, from the gameplay to the story. I feel like I’m in the minority, but I really like the story elements of the game. I like the mystery, and how everyone in the game KNOWS what’s going on, so they don’t pointlessly spew exposition. That made my writer brain happy. I liked that to understand things, I had to connect more with the mechanics. And boy, what mechanics they were. Much like Bastion before it, there are so many ways to fight in Transistor, and you’ll find a combo that feels broken, and be shocked when you move to another combination that feels equally broken. AND THE SOUNDTRACK. Oh man.

6. Shovel Knight

As I’ve already said earlier, the best “retro” or “callback” games feel like it used to, but are actually way better, and smooth the issues your nostalgia forgot about. Shovel Knight does this perfectly. The difficulty is really well balanced, with the items you can use or not, and the checkpoints you can destroy or not, and it just has a lot of charm without being “meme-y” or something of that nature. The enemy knights you fight, like Mega Man bosses, just ooze charm. It’s a really fun time.

7. Jackbox Party Pack
IT’S MORE YOU DON’T KNOW JACK. And more fun games! What is there not to like! This isn’t higher, because I just don’t play this kind of stuff as much as I used to. It’s sad. But this is a REALLY quality release, and something everyone can enjoy. Using the phones is just a genius way to let many, many people play, too. It is very much worth your money.

8. Dangan Ronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
I really do love this game, but a lot of the second class trial just leaves a lot of bad taste in one’s mouth. It’s not SUPER bad? It’s not Dual Destinies bad. But it’s still not handled super well. That said, though, it’s a great game, just like the sequel. It’s so good, and it is worth playing. The characters are still fun (though 2 really tops all of them, I think) and it’s just quite a mystery. Also, it’s really necessary to play 2, and 2 is REALLY GOOD. So.

9. Kirby Triple Deluxe
You know what still fills me with joy? A Kirby game. I never finished Return to Dreamland. I wanted to co-op it, but people get busy, and it didn’t really drag me in. This, as a single player thing, using some of the stuff in Return to Dreamland and cutting what didn’t work, was a joy. Hypernova made for much more fun scenarios and puzzles than anything I saw from the “Supercharged” weapons in Return to Dreamland. It was also fun to see the developers really playing with perspective and stuff, since they could. It’s a Kirby game. You know what you’re getting. I love Kirby. It’s all I wanted.

10. Dominique Pamplemousse in “It’s All Over Once The Fat Lady Sings!”
Look, okay, there is just so much LOVE put into this game. SO MUCH LOVE. It just oozes love, and fun, and happiness, and it makes me very happy to play. Someone set out to make this thing alone, a musical adventure game, and it’s just… it’s really charming. The singing could perhaps use a little coaching. But that’s kind of why it’s so charming to me.

Yeah, so… I guess I played a lot of stuff this year? I didn’t really think I had, but I showed me.

Oct 13

Here Is Why Bayonetta, As A Character, Rules.

In order to get it out of my head, I would like to tell you why I love Bayonetta as a character.

In video games, sexualization often exists without a story purpose. It is a marketing tool. It’s designed to draw you in and make you interested in someone who, perhaps, is not a deep enough character to deserve it. It’s a way to put some cheesecake on a game box and drag in just one more lusty teen.

I don’t personally believe that Bayonetta’s design is about that. Most sexualization for it’s own sake dis-empowers. It turns people into objects. But Bayonetta would not be herself without it. And that is why, at least in some ways, Bayonetta makes me jealous. I want to be like her. And in the game, I get to be here, and it feels fantastic.

In society, flaunting your sexuality as a woman is a dangerous move. It draws unwanted attention. There are leers and catcalls and who knows what else. Most female characters who wield their sexuality openly are eventually punished for it. The femme fatale’s wiles fail at an important moment, requiring a rescue. Or, perhaps, the heroine is targeted purely because of their sex appeal, more than anything else. Consider the controversy around the attempted rape in Tomb Raider for example. Lara was obviously a threat. She’d killed tons of people by that point. But no, it was her sexuality that was her weak point. There’s where she got in trouble.

At the same time, it is AWESOME to feel sexy. It’s great. Your self-confidence skyrockets. You can take on the world when you feel like you’re looking fantastic and everyone knows it. We’ve all felt that. We want to feel that regularly. The problem is, in reality, that sometimes comes with drawbacks.

Bayonetta has those drawbacks, but she could not even care. She does not have a love interest. (You could argue Luka, but no. He’s just fun to toy with.) There is no target for her sexuality. She looks hot as hell and she’s doing it because of the confidence that gives her. And as a witch, she can back that confidence up. She can summon demons. She can ice skate pirouette angels into a pile of goo. Every action she takes is full of strength, and power, and no fear. She has no fear. She is feminine and sexy and she has no fears because of it. And that makes me jealous.

An argument could be made that, because the camera shows her off so much, and because she often does things towards the camera, that her sexuality is for the player. She is seducing someone, and that is you, with the controller. I understand that, and you could probably make a good case for it. Personally, I think she’s doing that to make the player uncomfortable.

You see, the male gaze assumes a woman is for the viewer. That’s how male gaze works. But Bayonetta is over the top. She’s constantly losing clothing and poledancing and tying angels up and making them cum until they explode. This is not how someone designed to be lusted after acts, because one moment she’s enticing you, and the next she’s making it clear that you could never, ever be enough for her, and she is not interested. Or if she is, she’s going to destroy you and toss you away after that. Most guys I have talked about this game with, even if they like it, were, at the very least, borderline uncomfortable watching all this. That’s the point. You want sexy? Here’s so much it turns the mirror around on you, and makes you wonder why that’s what you were expecting. That’s what the game says. And by making it clear that Bayonetta does not need your approval or your lust, she breaks through that male gaze, at least for a moment.

The plot of the first game backs this up to some extent, as well. While most of the plot deals with Bayonetta’s past, a lot of it is her trying to learn to accept help, and accepting the idea that she can have friends. She wants to push people away, for the majority of the story. Isn’t how she’s dressing designed to do that?

In any case, there are many readings, of course. But I love Bayonetta as a character. Every new torture move in the first game had me cheering. Hell, I started wearing glasses again, because I say Bayonetta, and I wanted to be like that, a little bit. I love her as a character. I can’t wait to play the second game.

Apr 21

A Shuffled Pack: A Ramble

Last September or October or so, my friend Andy suggested a bunch of us on a forum write a book of horror short stories, just for fun. Now, I knew and still know very little about horror, but I wanted to join in. It sounded fun. I had no idea what to write for horror, however. I wrote a weird story about depression. It’s okay, for what it is, though not horrific or anything. Then, in a conversation, I basically got dared to write a furry horror story. So I did. And I was really happy with it. And people seemed to like it, even non-furries, who said things like “Wow, I think I understand the furry thing now” which is a weird thing to hear, I guess, especially considering it was kind of a failing and non-functioning version of it.

I hadn’t written anything in basically forever. But it felt really good to write that story, and I took some time to analyze why. I had picked reading back up recently, as a sort of calming focus to keep me from panicking. I hadn’t read anything in years, really. Reading still felt like work from my school days. But suddenly, I started reading fun things, and having a good time, and I read tons of books. I realized, while I was writing that weird furry horror story, that the same thing was true for my writing. Writing felt like work: I was putting a huge pressure on myself to write High Art, something with tons of depth. But was that what I was reading? No. Occasionally, perhaps, but mostly I was reading fun things, silly things, even sometimes sexy things. I was just reading what I wanted to read. Why couldn’t I just write what I wanted to write?

So that’s exactly what I’ve done. Since then I’ve written a lot of things. Sexy stories, novellas, short stories, and even a novel. I keep plugging away at things, editing, and modifying, but basically, I keep writing. I write what I want to see. It’s been a lot of fun.

One of my first complete successes was a story about a detective who was a dog having issues with being queer and trying to save her family. I liked it. Could I see flaws in it? Maybe. But I fiddled with it, and fiddled with it, until I liked it. And then it sat there, waiting for me to have the courage to do something with it.

I finally found the courage.
A Shuffled Pack

(Look at that awesome cover art that my friend ikks did for me! Oh man!)

A Shuffled Pack is not High Art. It’s probably not going to make you question your life or anything. But it was a blast to write, and, I hope, a blast to read. It’s got romance, some guns are shot, and there is probably more talk about heat cycles than there should be. But it’s my little novella, and I’m glad I did something with it, even if it only sells four copies or something. At least I put myself out there.

It takes a weird kind of courage to assume the ridiculous shit you like, or worse, make, is something someone else will care about. I’m glad I found that courage, even if everyone hates it. I really am glad.

If you want to buy A Shuffled Pack, you can click here. Thank you for your time.

Dec 31

Here Are The Books I Read In 2013

Over on Talking Time, I did something I hadn’t really done before: I kept track of everything I read, and wrote little blurbs about what I thought every time I finished one. I figured I’d transfer it over here for safekeeping. So here’s all 46 books I read in 2013, and a little something about what I thought about them. Enjoy.

January (1)

    Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles

(A… comedy? It was a strange little story. I stayed engaged the whole way through, but it didn’t totally rock my world.)

February (2)

    Hamlet’s Hit Points by Robin D. Laws

(A gift from the boyfriend, it’s a really interesting look at Tabletop roleplaying through an actor’s eyes, using acting-based analysis to offer tips on proper DMing.)

    A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

(I had like 5 students write about Lemony Snicket last semester, so I felt I needed to investigate. I would have loved these as a kid, if this is any indication. If they were cheaper to grab on my kindle, I’d probably devour the whole series. Just simple fun children’s lit, with a really strong female lead, which I appreciate.)

March (2)

    The Yoga Stripper: A Las Vegas Memoir of Sex, Drugs and Namaste by Laila Lucent

(I read a snippet on a website, and I love a good naughty memoir, but the writing teacher in me ruined a lot of this. I hated how it was laid out and jumped around constantly. But it wasn’t bad, perse. Just… rough.)

    Here’s Looking At Euclid: A Surprising Excursion Through the Astonishing World of Math by Alex Bellos

(Completely amazing. Math written about by a dual major Math/English dude, it explains Math in a way that will get you excited about it, especially if you still have some math knowledge lingering.)

April (10)

    Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming

(I love Fleming. He is so amazingly sexist and racist. I laughed the whole way through Casino Royale, and I did even harder in this one. It’s just amazing that someone once thought it was okay to write this way. How times have changed.)

    Needle in the Groove by Jeff Noon

(Jeff Noon is one of my literary heroes. In this book, he’s writing a novel, but it’s kinda poetry, but it’s kinda song lyrics? I thought it was a failure, in the beginning, but by the end, I was totally into his experimentation here. If you like his work, a must read. If you’re interested in him, start with Vurt.)

    The Key to the Kingdom by Jeff Dixon

(So terrible. So bad. And in such an unbelievable way. The book forgets its own plot points, has the dumbest hero I have ever experienced, and the “dramatic ending” is just so fucking off the rails I could barely breathe from laughing. It’s amazing to me that this book is like… well reviewed. Wow.)

    Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety by Daniel Smith

(Like, the entire time I was reading this book, I felt like I was becoming more anxious sort of sympathetically? I know how it feels to be really nervous and crazy, and this captures a lot of that perfectly. Wasn’t so much humorous as the descriptions claim, though. It was alright. No complaints.)

    Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

(It’s sort of attempting to be a murder mystery with a strange perspective, one of a character with dementia, but really it ends up just being kinda depressing. What draws you in is trying to understand the characters, less than the mystery aspect. They are some well-made characters.)

    Moonraker by Ian Fleming

(I want to give Fleming an award for “Most Improved Over Previous Novel.” Casino Royale was ridiculous because Bond did nothing but eat fancy food and get lovesick. Live and Let Die was ridiculous because AMAZING CONSTANT RACISM. This was… an alright little book. Not great, but a fine read. Good job, Fleming! I look forward to seeing if you go off the rails again.)

    How To Succeed At Aging Without Really Dying by Lyla Blake Ward

(Man, I picked this up as it seemed like an interesting little book of essays, but it was so weird. The first part was like… something such as “Have you noticed bubble packaging is hard to open?” for 4 pages, and then would end with a really painfully not good pun, and this coming from someone who likes most puns. Later, the essays got more essay-like, and were better, but overall, I wouldn’t recommend this.)

    Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls: Essays, Etc. by David Sedaris

(I love David Sedaris, and his new book is completely fantastic, as expected. It gets more political at times than he has in the past, and as usual, his fiction, this time in the form of several monologues by characters sprinkled throughout the book, didn’t do much for me, but damn. The man knows how to write a funny essay!)

    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

(Randomly inspired to investigate these classic books. Was a quick read, and fun enough. It was interesting to see how it deviated from what I knew of the story. We’ll see how completely strange the rest of the novels get, as I’m sure I’ll slowly work my way through them, knowing me.)

    The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum

(Man, the end of this book. Man, what? I had peeked at a plot summary before I read it, so I knew what was coming, but it was still kind of insane whiplash. Who allows their name and gender to be changed and just goes along with it, even though it wasn’t their will? Glinda, is it really “good” to change someone back who doesn’t wish it? Man, what. Such a strange look at gender politics in this book. I’m betting Ozma of Oz won’t deal with anything I’m having issues with, either. Ozma will probably be a totally different character. Lame!)

May (9)

    Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum

(Well, Ozma wasn’t a different character from Tip, perse, but seriously, no adjustment, no anything is seen, which just saddens me. What she went through at the end of the last book would really mess a person up! Outside of my personal holdups, though, this is more of the same, and I don’t mean that in a bad way, really. This book certainly has some very creepy moments, though. Enjoyable, to be sure.)

    Killing is Harmless: A Critical Reading of Spec Ops: The Line by Brendan Keogh

(I want more long form close readings of games like this, and I want more games to aspire to be worthy of long form close readings like Spec Ops: The Line attempted to do.)

    Escape by Perihan Magden

(Really repetitive, but on purpose. The entire book is clearly supposed to make you feel on edge. And it did! I can’t say I enjoyed it, perse, but I’m glad I read it. It succeeded at putting me in the head of some really messed up people and drowning me in their world.)

    Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum

(The amount of overwhelming in-your-face retconning that happens in this book just feels insulting and stupid. I understand Baum says Oz and such is a “fairy land” and thus he can do whatever he wants, but that doesn’t involve rewriting the past stated in your own books! I lost a lot of respect for him as a writer with this one, basically.)

    Pixel Juice by Jeff Noon

(Collection of short stories. A few in, I realized I had read this before and totally forgot! A few of the best stories stuck in my head, but there were plenty that had totally slipped out. Still, with so many stories tying in to his other novels, this isn’t a place to start for people who haven’t read his stuff.)

    Storm Front by Jim Butcher

(Now everyone can stop telling me to read this book! I always resisted due to connections to exes of various sorts, and it certainly didn’t blow me away [IGN.com] but I understand why the series has fans, to be sure. The book felt very… over-inflated though. Like it needed to ratchet the danger up EVEN HIGHER constantly, which left it feeling a bit silly to me. But I bet that’s something that’s fixed as the book is no longer a one-off but a series.)

    Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

(I have used Mary Roach’s essays in my classes often, and think she’s awesome, but never dove into her books before this. This book is fantastic, entertaining, and really interesting. I also had to take breaks and was really uncomfortable reading it, not because she did a bad job, but just because of the subject matter! She makes the subject matter interesting and sometimes funny, but it’s still kinda tough to read about some of these things. Still, if you can handle the topic, highly recommended.)

    Naked Came The Stranger by Penelope Ashe

(Oh man. Oh man. This book. Oh man. Written to mock and make fun of horrible, churned out “big money” writing full of terrible sex. A huge number of reporters wrote this in a week, each taking one chapter. It makes no sense, it’s offensive, it’s terribly written, and it was apparently a huge hit. Read this and despair… but in an entertaining way.)

    Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming

(My Bond exploration continues with another nice book! I really wonder what happened between Live and Let Die and Moonraker, as that book, and this one, almost seem like they are written by different people. Suspense, actually action… Bond fired his gun for the first time in this one! The action cut away when non-relevant things were going on! Fleming is learning! It’s neat to see.)

June (3)

    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

(You all were talking about it in the “Whatcha’ reading” and I realized I had never read it, and tried it, and HOLY FUCK WHAT A BOOK. What a hilarious and incredibly affecting and gut-wrenching novel. If you were like me and haven’t read this, you HAVE to. You just have to.)

    Air Force Gator by Dan Ryckert

(See, you gotta follow up something so literary and classic with something completely fucking stupid. It’s the only way, clearly.)

    [Citation Needed] 2: The Needening: More of The Best of Wikipedia’s Worst Writing by Josh Fruhlinger and Conor Lastowka

(A cheap, quick look at some really terrible writing and I was once again very entertained. Who wouldn’t be?)

July (2)

    The Disappearing Spoon And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean

(A title so long my Kindle cannot properly display it. This book starts out really slow, if you know your high school chemistry, but then quickly blossoms into awesome stories of scientists and interesting facts about the elements that I certainly didn’t know and found captivating.)

    Falling Out of Cars by Jeff Noon

(Was not expecting a weird post-apocalypse sort of scenario when I started the book, but that’s what I got. I thought the ending was weak, but I’m still in love with Noon’s writing. The narrator, Marlene, really connected with me. I’ve felt lost like that, with nothing to hold onto but words, and those too fading away…)

August (4)

    From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming

(Man, the beginning of this book is bonkers. Like over a third of it is just pointless backstory about people in SMERSH! It’s crazy. Overall, the actually story itself is not TOO bad? Not up to the improvement Fleming’s been having though. Also, dunno what’s up with the CLIFFHANGER ENDING.)

    The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

(Here’s a classic that’s been around my peripheral vision that I got gently pushed into trying, and it was quite nice! This was a weird deluxe edition with a little novella at the end and all kinds of extra material… it was a nice way to experience this story for the first time. Light, breezy, and fun. A good book, though I could poke at it if I really wanted to nitpick. Also, random thought, it’s kinda silly how much past me would think all the extra material (interviews and such) in this book was stupid, and how much current me enjoys it. Times change, I guess.)

    To Be Or Not To Be by Ryan North

(I’m sure I’ve missed a couple endings, but I’ve given it a thorough read, and it is quite a fun little book, and I am 100% glad I backed it. The end.)

    B^F: The Novelization of the Feature Film by Ryan North

(This came with the previous book! I had started reading that blog but lost track of it! So this was a good reason to just read the whole gosh-darned thing, and it was lovely, and hilarious, and [warm and] wonderful.)

September (6)

    Dr. No by Ian Fleming

(More Bond! It was… alright. This book is clearly where the concept of the crazy Bond supervillian with the evil deathtrap lair comes from. Bond, of course, had horrible sexist thoughts throughout, but the book omitted the scene from the film where Bond basically rapes a lady and laughs about it, so that’s nice.)

    Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart

(A friend of mine told me this was his favorite book ever, and I should read it, so I did, and it was cute, and funny, and fun, and lovely, and I would recommend it to basically anybody who likes to read a book.)

    It’s Kind of a Cute Story by Rolly Crump and Jeff Heimbuch

(Yeah, more Disney stuff. I’m still obsessed. Still, it was a pretty neat look behind the curtain of a lot of stuff I love, so I really can’t complain!)

    Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers

(Man, this was weird. I really don’t know what to think about it. At the very least, it seemed to have very little thematic connection between the weird little stories that led up to anything. Glad I looked into it, but yeah… huh.)

    Soulless by Gail Carriger

(Oh man, shivam was so right about this book and me. Oh man. I have not read a book this fun and this sexy and this smart in a long time, and I am shocked and VERY pleased that they were somehow all in the same book. So good.)

    Changeless by Gail Carriger

(Yep, more of the same. I am pleased. Ending makes me annoyed in “I love the characters and am invested way” but not in the “I am someone who studies literature and this is not well done” way which I think is about the best way for something like that to be, even if annoyed. I feel for all these characters. That’s awesome.)

October (1)

    Blameless by Gail Carriger

(More fun. More awesome. I have not cared about characters, even fairly minor background characters, this much in a long time. They are fun to read about, and I care when things happen. These books are just completely awesome.)

November (2)

    Heartless by Gail Carriger

(The series continues to be lovely, though less sexy than before! Heh, though for good reason. Onward to the last one.)

    Timeless by Gail Carriger

(And now I’m out of this series, which is bittersweet. I can respect ending when things are done, and it feels pretty done! But I was having so much fun and want more. Oh well, so it goes. Heh. READ THIS SERIES, SERIOUSLY.)

December (4)

    Thy Neighbor’s Wife by Gay Talese

(What a strange book. While sometimes the tone of how it describes sex gets unquestionably hilarious, this is an extremely interesting and person book of history about the sexual revolution of the 60’s and 70’s, and I’m very glad I read it. It’s dense and long, but good.)

    Felidae by Akif Pirincci

(That weird German cartoon you may have seen on Youtube is now a book! Well, uh, it’s the book that film was based on. It has an interesting tone in the narration, but wasn’t as divergent from the movie as I expected. I look forward to reading Felidae On The Road sometime.)

    Earthbound by Ken Baumann

(Baumann obviously should have written a memoir instead of trying to force all his memories into video game criticism. The amount this book is not about Earthbound, given it’s title, is ridiculous, and it’s kind of oddly organized besides. In no way recommended, especially if you want to, say, read a book of criticism about Earthbound that approaches that game’s text with any sort of insight or usefulness. I really hope the rest of the Boss Fight Books stuff is like… much much different than this.)

    Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C O’Brien

(I had always meant to read this book, especially after I saw the movie after some prodding and had many issues with it. As expected, those were totally addressed and not issues in the book, and man, Mrs. Frisby is such a wonderful protagonist. A heroic mother in a realistic way. It’s such a fun book, and I would have loved it as a kid.)

Oct 29

Random Story Clip: A New Pack

I’m just getting this out of my head. Consider it fanfiction for a story I’m writing that’s not done? That makes no sense, but whatever. Anyway, a random story clip.

I heard the door open, and Rex answer the door. I opened the door to my quarters and growled loudly at him as he stood in the doorway.
“Splicers save us, Rex, I fucking told you not to answer the door without clothes on! This is a human building you stupid…!” I yelled as I marched across the living room towards the door. “Pup…” Sam was standing in the hallway, waving.
“Hey, Prince. Uh, who is this?”
“I’m Rex of Prince, and I live here. Who are you? You smell odd.”
I rubbed my eyes. Could this get to be any more of a clusterfuck? Why had I ever let them in here? “Rex, this is Sam, he’s my partner at work, and he is fine. Now fucking listen to me and get out of the doorway until you at least have some pants on.”
Rex’s tail fell between his legs, and he backed off. “Sorry, ma’am.” I pointed to his quarters, and he scurried off.
“Fucking pups,” I grumbled, looking back up to Sam, getting him into the apartment and closing the door. “What’s up?”
“Is that Sam?” Brie said from the kitchen.
“Yeah. Dunno why, though,” I called back.
“Just thought I’d see your new place. Realized I never brought a housewarming gift,” he said, chuckling, holding out a bottle of whiskey.
“Seems more like a gift for you than me,” I said, grinning.
“Yeah, well, gotta have a reason to stop by,” he said, grinning right back. “Rex of Prince, though?”
I lowered my ears a little. “I told them not to say that, but they won’t listen to me.”
Sam found a seat and plopped down in it. “Explain, explain, explain!” he said, grinning at me.
“Will you be here for dinner, Sam?” Brie said, ducking her head in from the kitchen. She had put on an apron for a little cover for Sam’s sake, but that was it.
“Sure, if you’ll have me.”
Brie nodded. “I don’t know if it’ll be to your liking, but you’re welcome to stay.” She moved back into the kitchen, and I sat down across from Sam.
I could hear the door to Buddy and Rex’s quarters creep open so they could try to keep tabs, and I turned in their direction and growled loudly. Then I turned back to Sam. “You really want to hear?”
“I asked, didn’t I?”
I sighed.

About two weeks ago, things were a bit less complicated. Well, they were very complicated, to be honest. I had taken my bitch and run away from the pack, so I wouldn’t have to deal with trying to keep us together in a situation that wouldn’t just let us be. I didn’t really want to, to be honest. Sylvan pack was my family. But they didn’t give me much of a choice. With Sam’s help, I had found an apartment, and Brie and I had started our new, more human lifestyle. It was working out okay, until they showed up.
There had been a knock on our door. We hadn’t really been expecting anyone, of course. None of the other tenants in the building knew what to make of two dogs living on the top floor, and so we weren’t really expecting social calls. Still, I asked the door to wait a moment, got dressed, and opened it.
I found two male dogs waiting for me, who looked like this was probably the first time they had ever put on clothes, though they were decent. The smaller one was hiding behind the bigger one, who looked at me with a worried expression. They weren’t Sylvan, as far as I knew, and I didn’t think I had seen them before. They were both basically pups.
“Can I help you two?” I asked.
“You’re Prince? Used to be from Sylvan den?”
“That’d be me. Who are you?”
“I’m Buddy of Malcom.”
“Rex of Malcom,” said the smaller male behind him.
“We want to join your pack,” Buddy said, though he looked quite nervous when he said it.
I laughed. “What pack? It’s just me and my bitch here. Sylvan den is across town.”
“B-but you left!” Rex said, surprised.
“Is what everyone is saying not true?” Buddy asked. Rex looked up at him, worried.
I frowned. “What is everyone saying?”
“That you left to form a new pack where… where dogs could love each other without duty getting in the way?” Rex said.
“Well, I left to be with my bitch, but I don’t have anything in the way of resources to form my own pack.”
“But you have a den,” Buddy said, “You have one right here.”
“It’s a two bedroom apartment,” I said. “Barely enough room for my bitch and myself.”
“But…”
“I don’t know what you pups are up to, but you should get home,” I said. “What are you doing?”
Buddy tried to look intimidating. “We’re not leaving. We’re joining your pack.”
“Like fuck you are,” I said, growling. “I can’t take care of a couple of pups. I can barely take care of my bitch to the extent she deserves.”
“We’re staying,” Buddy said. I could tell he was scared of me. I wasn’t sure why he was doing this.
“Leave, now.” I growled.
“N-no!” Rex shouted as Buddy pounced me, knocking me to the floor. I could hear Brie rush in to see what everything was about and cry out in fear as I kicked the male off of me. He was big, and probably a bit stronger, but he sure wasn’t a fighter. He tried to scramble to his feet, but I was on top of him faster than he could get up, pinning his paws and pressing my jaws around his throat. He yelped. “N-no, please, don’t!” Rex yelled at me.
I let up my grip on Buddy’s throat. “You submit, right?”
Buddy nodded, shivering in fear.
“Why the fuck did you do that? You clearly knew you had no chance.”
“Nobody is taking him away from me,” he whimpered.
“What?” I said.
“Nobody is taking my bitch away from me!” he barked, getting a second wind, but while he put on a fierce face, he didn’t fight back.
I looked at him for a moment, then to Rex, and back to him. I stood back up on two paws, brushing myself off. “Well, I guess it makes sense there’d be males in a similar predicament, but it never crossed my mind,” I said. Brie came over and I licked her cheek. “I’m fine. He’s nothing.”
Brie nodded. “Just had to make sure.”
Buddy stood up, and Rex came over to him. Buddy gave him a hug.
I sighed. “Fine, but you two cannot be dead weight. I can’t support you. You can stay here until you figure out a good way to live on your own, okay?”
“You’re serious…?” Rex asked, worried.
I turned to Brie. “I’m assuming you don’t mind looking after these pups while I’m at work. Am I right?”
Brie smiled. “It’ll be nice to not be alone all the time, though I agree, our finances can’t support them.”
“Alright. Then yes, Rex, I am serious. Don’t make me regret it.”
The males let out a sigh of relief, and then happy yips, hugging and licking each other. I rolled my eyes.

“And since then they’ve been treating me like alpha,” I growled, annoyed. “I’m not alpha material.”
“Says you,” Sam says, grinning. “You have a good head on your shoulders, Prince. I’m sure you’d be fine at it.”
At that point, I could hear talking in the hallway. Soon, the door unlocked and opened, and I sighed. I had forgotten she had left.
“Oh! Uh, company,” said Daisy, walking in. She was still wearing her waitress outfit from her job. Behind her was Lola, who had gone to walk her back to the apartment, as she always did.
“Human company,” Lola added, looking to me.
“This is Sam Moranth. We work together.”
“Hi there!” Sam said, giving a wave as he turned to me and mouthed “More?” I nodded.
“I’m Lola of Prince, and this is my bitch, Daisy of Prince. It’s nice to meet you,” Lola said, smiling.
“Can I just tell them? They’re going to ask anyway over dinner,” I said to Sam.
Sam shrugged. “Sure.”
I turned to Lola and Daisy. “Sam’s a spook, but he’s a good friend. He won’t look without permission. Don’t be an ass towards him, okay?”
“Spook? Seriously, ma’am?” Daisy said, shivering a little. “In the den?”
“It’s my fucking den and like I said, he’s a good friend. I know you’ve had bad experiences, but keep a level head,” I growled.
“Y-yes ma’am,” Daisy said, shivering.
“Go gossip about all this with the boys, dinner will be ready soon and I’m talking with Sam, okay?” I said. Lola and Daisy nodded and disappeared.
Sam laughed. “Seems to me like you’re taking to being an alpha just fine!”
“Well, what choice do I have? They all look up to me for no real reason. Hell, Lola is older than me and she still treats me like her senior.”
Sam grinned. “You’re a leader, clearly.”
“I’m a shitty one, though. I mean, you think I haven’t thought about treating this thing as a pack? But there’s no way to do it. There’s no way to make the pack sustain itself without forcing everyone to breed, and that’s the whole fucking thing I wanted to get away from. It’s a shitty alpha that sabotages their own pack like that.”
“Then be a shitty alpha, then,” Sam said, shrugging. “I mean, they’re clearly okay with you not forcing them to do that.”
“I can’t do that…”
“You couldn’t move away from Sylvan either, if I recall.”
I sighed. “Man, fuck you and your logic and shit.”
Sam laughed. “Yeah, well, so it goes. It’s how my brain works.”
“Your stupid, fucked up human brain,” I said, grinning.
“Yep!”
I sighed. “Prince I just feels weird, though. Even weirder than the name my mother gave me.”
“Well, I’m sure you’ll deal with it,” Sam said. “Just don’t forget the little people from up on your throne.”
Brie ducked her head in. “I think things are about ready. Um, it’s mostly meat, Sam, I hope that’s okay…”
“Not like I expected anything else, Brie. Don’t worry about it,” Sam said.
Brie turned to me. “Tell everyone to set the table up?”
I nodded. “I will. See if you can find silverware for Sam. I thought I bought something.” I then turned to Sam. “We don’t really have good furniture for this stuff, so don’t give me shit about my card tables.”
Sam laughed. “It’s fine! You’ve seen how shitty my apartment is. I get it.”
“I know you’re eavesdropping,” I barked at the door to the boys’ quarters. “Set up the tables. Sam is eating with us, so make sure there’s room for him too.”
The door opened and all four of them murmured, “Yes, ma’am,” before starting to get the tables and chairs out of the closet. Lola and Daisy had basically claimed what was supposed to be the dining area as their quarters, so setting these tables up in the common area was the only solution I could think of. It worked okay.
Sam bopped the side of his head. “That’s what I was forgetting. I didn’t offer to let them smell me. That’s rude, right?”
“With how you smell? Nah,” I said, chuckling.
Sam chuckled with me, turning to the four dogs as they finished setting up the chairs. “Anyway, any of you can, if you want, though perhaps you’ll let me get to know you in return? But Prince tells me I’m pretty harsh on the nose, so maybe after dinner, so you don’t lose your appetite,” he said, grinning. “Any family of Prince is a friend of mine.”
Lola looked to Daisy, who seemed uncomfortable. “We’ll pass, but we both appreciate the offer nonetheless.”
Rex came over, and gave Sam a sniff, before yelping and leaping backwards in surprise, almost knocking over a table.
Sam laughed, and I sighed. “Now you know what a spook smells like. Be prepared next time.”
Rex nodded. Buddy followed suit, and handled it a bit better, though I could tell he was shocked it was as bad as Rex suggested it was.
Brie brought the food in, and we all sat down.
“Toast!” Sam yelled.
“What’s a toast?” Rex asked.
I huffed. “Human tradition. Normally by head of the house.”
“Then toast, ma’am,” Rex said, smiling.
I sighed, and raised my water bowl. It always looked more impressive with human glasses, I had to admit. “Well, uh… to friends and pack, and the bond between.”
Trying to follow suit, everyone lifted their bowls, and watching Sam and Brie, clinked them together. And then we ate.

Oct 26

A Light In The Dark: A Horror Anthology I Had A Small Hand In

So awhile back, Andy had this hi-larious crazy idea: what if we all put together a horror anthology and sold it on the Kindle store? What a wacky thought!

Anyway, uh, then we did it, and it’s awesome. Click here and buy it. This is a legit book of like 150 pages. There are a lot of random Kindle things up there that are like 12 pages long for 3 bucks? This is 12 short stories, man. This is serious! It’s a book!

I only wrote one of the stories, but I think it turned out pretty well, given I know basically 0 about horror and it’s not really a thing I ever indulge in. I decided to write about the most horrific thing ever: sex and relationships. To be more specific, furry sex and relationships. So that’s terrifying, clearly! But my story is only one of them in there. It’s all pretty good stuff. Check it out.

The word on the street is that we’re going to try to do these on a regular basis with different themes, and just have fun. I certainly hope so. This was a great thing to do, though I admit I didn’t put in as much work as I hoped. I had wanted to edit more, but got bogged down with stress and grading and blah. Andy is the real hero here! That’s why he gets the editor credit, I suppose! Heh.

Anyway, that’s a thing, if you want to check it out. We’d all appreciate it. I have more self-promotion stuff I need to put up here, so look out for me bragging more soon. Later!

Oct 6

Monogamy, Polyamory, but Mostly, Love.

I love you.

Well, okay, sure, I MAY not, but let’s just be honest. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance I do, since you give enough of a shit about me to check this out. So there, take that as you will.

I’ve been struggling a lot lately with what the hell love means and where it fits into my life nowadays. As I’m sure I mentioned at some point, I’m kinda in a situation I have never been in ever before. The concept of monogamy was shockingly foreign to me until recently, even though I was in such a relationship. I found myself starting to freak out because I honestly didn’t know how to handle it, and I didn’t know why.

I mean, let’s be honest, Ceton is not getting away. I am fucking keeping him. We are a permanent thing. As I told him the other day, there is basically nobody in the world I can be around constantly and not feel socially drained, at least a little, except him. I honestly never experienced it before he came into my life. So yeah, he’s mine, and I’m glad I’m his, and that’s that. This monogamy thing is something I do want. I know me being with others would bother him, and my life stress has honestly gone down a ton once I gave all that stuff up (though perhaps you couldn’t notice, since I am so good at panicking). It’s all exactly what I want.

But here’s why it was making me freak out: I didn’t know how to love otherwise. Like, the main reason I never considered anything but being poly was the whole idea of passing up on love. I couldn’t handle it. I fucking LOVE too much. Once I started being honest with myself, and who I was, I started realizing I felt deeply for a ton of people! Not all of those feelings were romantic, of course, though some were, and the idea of trying to squash those feelings because I was just being told I was “supposed” to was a distressing idea. I had been told the feelings I had were wrong for years, and I was supposed to feel this way, and that was so fucking wrong and toxic for me it’s hilarious to look back on. So surely turning away love because I was “supposed” to was just as bad, surely. Trying to do so felt like I was devaluing people who were extremely important to me. I couldn’t imagine doing it. I also, just because of where I was in my life, couldn’t imagine expressing love in any way other than a physical way. It just all kinda made sense. It was the only way things could work, really. It was the only way to really and truly be close to a person. Sex terrified me, and still does in a lot of ways, and revealing those sorts of weaknesses is a real expression of love. It broke down so many barriers in a torrent of fear and emotion, and those barriers had to be gone to bed close.

Over time, though, I found myself just kinda cooling it on the physical love, though, on those who weren’t my partner, even without being asked. I wouldn’t admit it to myself, because I couldn’t, but I didn’t really want to. I felt it, in a lot of ways, HAD to be part of these relationships, but I wanted to share that part of me only with this lovely jackal I shared a bed with, who made me feel right and helped me when I didn’t. The problem was, as I said, I didn’t know any other way to show love. Because all my partners from all these years, well, I’m still close to a whole lot of them, and I mean, I call them by names that are sexually charged most of the time in some way, because that’s just what we did. Bedroom nicknames. Fuck, one of my best friends I exclusively call Master, for the exact dom/sub reasons you are thinking. So, you know, how could I still show them I loved them, if I didn’t want that? I didn’t know.

But that was stupid.

Affection isn’t an all or nothing thing. Closeness is not created by genitals touching exclusively. I freaked out about this for weeks, and spent an hour literally flailing around in my psychologist’s office, trying to figure this shit out. And then I did what I should always do, from the very start. I talked to everyone. I explained what I was feeling and how scared I was of hurting them just because I had to be true to my partner. And every single fucking one of them gave me a hug, told me they understood and it was no big deal, and that they’d still be there for me. And in that moment, THAT was love. THAT was love, right there. Hell, the fact that several of them admitted to ALREADY KNOWING, that is love.

It’s not an issue to love. It is NEVER an issue to love. Love everyone, in whatever ways you are comfortable. Love!

Love.

Just love.

Sep 23

After Dark, And A Sense Of Belonging

A thing I have started doing is following After Dark accounts on twitter. This has mostly gained me access to a lot of tweets full of pornography, random horny musings and cravings, and pictures of the genitals of people I vaguely know from the internet.

I’m pretty okay with this. I don’t really need to see said pictures of people’s equipment, though I’m glad they’re proud of it and will gladly cheer them on in their endeavors to use it, and most of the porn really isn’t my thing, though quite nice, for what it is. But I mostly haven’t undone this thing I’ve done and gotten it out of my feed because, oddly, it really makes me feel connected to something I kinda felt like I lost.

I talked awhile ago about how I kinda feel like I’m not part of the furry community any more, and it kinda bums me out. It does, too. It’s a weird thing. But a lot of that furry camaraderie is coming back to me as I read these accounts from furs I kinda know in passing and am now learning tons of super-detailed risque info about. It just kinda affirms me. It makes me feel like part of the group again.

Outside of furry culture (which I was really tempted just to call human culture but goddamn that kinda makes me feel a little insane to say, so I’ll write it out the long way (even though, in my heart, that’s probably what I would call it, I am that crazy, oh no)) things are just so goddamn taboo. It’s kinda unhealthy and stupid, seriously. Like, I showed a video to a class today where a middle-aged lady cracks jokes about how insane sex research has been in the past, and everyone was SUPER uncomfortable. It wasn’t that graphic. No naughty language was used. It was just kinda the idea that someone might think and study things like how different the semen of young men smells to that of old men. That’s just weird, right? But it’s one of those things, in a weird moment, you might wonder, and these scientists just fucking WENT for it, and that’s awesome and funny. We laugh because it’s weird, but we get uncomfortable because it reminds us of the things we wonder about, and we think about, and we want to try but never do. It reminds us of things we are supposed to be embarrassed about. And at the same time, these people just out there tweeting their most fucked up fantasies and talking to others about how to make them weirder or hotter or just flirting with them. They don’t care. They crave what they crave and they celebrate it. That just seems way healthier to me in general. A world in which I can tell my mother “Mom, I need this expensive surgery so I can have tons of hot sloppy sex with the guy I’m in love with without sobbing constantly” is a way better world than the one where I had to try to express that without breaking these taboos, and having the whole talk go badly. A world in which I didn’t nearly have a panic attack wondering if I should share experiences with my ex-girlfriend to make a point to my students because that would mark me as gay or bi seems way better. It’s way better to just be honest with these wants, isn’t it? Furries think so. I’m one of them. It’s super-refreshing to be, at least a little, indulged in that general mentality around me again very blatantly. (I mean, most of my good friends share this view, though they probably wouldn’t explain it this way, but instead in a much less dumb way. This is one of many reasons why I love them.)

It’s also just really refreshing to see someone’s personality on their sleeve like that. When you know someone’s desires, it’s really easy to get a good mental picture of them and know if they’re someone you want to deal with. People’s priorities are outlined or hinted at, seriously, by what they crave. I always felt like I had no problem judging people online, something people always thought was weird and hard to do, and I’ve since realized it’s because I was mostly involved with furs, who just put this stuff out there, and we could part ways amicably, most of the time, before any sort of issue erupted because we just knew. We knew what was up.

But mostly I guess it’s kinda one of those “relive your glory days” things, as lame as that sounds. I love love love love love where my life is now, but it’s very different than the polyamorous life of exploration I used to lead. It was honestly pretty fun, as far as things go. Every day lead to new potential partners and new potential experiences and things to enjoy, which I never would have even imagined without all that. Many of those partners are some of my best friends now. And since I basically figured out what I wanted out of romance and love (which is what I have now, minus some stupid intimacy issues on my part that will get dealt with eventually) and I stopped doing all that, I do have a little bit of loss, as you do with any freedom, even if given up willingly in exchange for something worth so fucking much more. It’s still opportunity gone. It’s sad to close a door, even one that needs to be closed. But seeing these other furs still in that phase, and exploring and loving and doing without restraint to figure it all out (or maybe they have figured it all out, and that’s what they need in life, that’s cool too) is just… it’s awesome. I’m happy for them. I love rooting for them from the sidelines, because I know how well it can all work out, and I want it to work out as well for them as it did for me. It’s the same kinda feeling I get when I see a student really start to click with writing and dive in and really enjoy it. It’s just so awesome! I mean, I’m not going to interfere or anything in anyone’s journey. I’ll help if asked. But it’s just nice to know that some things still work in the world, and that your joys, and the ways you found them, are shared by more. That the things you value are kinda universally good. I dunno, maybe getting enjoyment out of seeing that sort of thing happen makes me old. I’m probably old now. Oh well.

Anyway, I’ll probably keep these accounts on there, and slowly add new ones I find interesting, because of these things. Sure, it now makes checking my phone at work REALLY AWKWARD or whatever, but it’s nice. It’s really nice. Maybe I’m odd for seeing it that way, but fuck, that’s how I see it. No reason to be ashamed.

Aug 14

Amusement Park Polish

As someone who has a sticker of the EPCOT Center symbol on her car, and is slowly filling up her walls with more and more EPCOT stuff, I think we can agree that I am not unbiased in what I am about to write, so we’ll just get that out of the way. But I feel I am that way for a reason, and I want to talk about said reason.

Yesterday, I went to Six Flags St. Louis. I hadn’t been there in years, and it was an interesting and fun time. I rode roller coasters and water slides. What more can you ask for, you know? But man, the whole time I was there, I just felt this feeling of desperation from the park. Like, it didn’t know what it was doing and was just throwing everything at the wall to try to make an extra buck. Ads were literally everywhere, and not for like… things happening in the park, but for candy, movies, hair products, electronic cigarettes… literally anything, posted all over the place. Every ride was plastered with advertisements for The Flash Pass, which was something else you could buy that was AS MUCH AS OR MORE THAN YOUR TICKET that could let you skip lines. It was just kind of gross. I mean, I rode a roller coaster in a coaster car covered in ads for hair gel. It was on the coaster “American Thunder.” I guess the ads are pretty American.

On top of that, the park was split into thematic areas. Well, it was in theory. Very few of the attractions had to do with the thematic areas at all. What does the previously-named “Tony Hawk’s Big Spin” and now “Pandemonium” have to do with Britannia, a Robin-Hood Themed Area? At least the big coaster in that area, The Boss, has some attempt to make it blend in to those surroundings, with a big archway that kinda fits the era it’s trying to put you in, but The Boss still doesn’t fit the theme as a title, and the coaster goes over a go-kart track. You know, like the go-karts Robin Hood and his merry men rode around on. The Studio Backlot area was all Tim Burton Batman themed (but nowhere near the DC Superhero area, starring Scooby Doo, your favorite DC Superhero, of course) except for The Ninja, and Panda Express, and things that have little to do with being a WB Studio Backlot. The music all over the park was this really crazy collection of hits a little out of date, really old songs, and strange selections from the 90’s.

The only area that really had a theme was Hurricane Harbor, which actually did a fairly good job. There were plaques telling the history of the harbor, and everything had fairly thematic names. But, of course, you could see Batman: The Ride from anywhere in Hurricane Harbor, looming over the whole thing, or the parking lot it was next to, so you could never really get too immersed.

Disney spoils me, I guess. Even when they go and build a “thrill ride” because something needs a thrill ride, they think hard about where it’s going to go and how it’s going to fit in there. They build an impressive mountain landscape and surrounding features for Expedition: Everest. They come up with the idea of teaching about aerodynamics and other vehicle-related science by letting you make your own car in Test Track. They build a gigantic mountain mine surrounded by all kinds of neat things in New Fantasyland. The most “just thrown in there” ride I experienced at Disney World during my last trip was the Primeval Whirl, but that was 100% by design, since it is placed inside of the thrown-together amusement park area of Dino-Rama. It was evoking that kind of feel.

Similarly, all the “ads” in Disney World are classy. They’re simply sponsorships. Sure, you exit Spaceship Earth into basically an advertisement for Siemens nowadays, but it’s done in a smart way, with games explaining how communication technology will continue to advance society in the future. It ties in to Spaceship Earth. It doesn’t feel out of place or gross.

It really just seems like Six Flags should stop half-assing it, I guess. If you aren’t going to go all the way to immerse me, it really just ends up being more terrible than if you hadn’t tried at all. Not trying to would be preferable. I went to Cedar Point a long time ago, and that is a place full of coasters. It has no themeing and no pretense. It’s just coasters. And it doesn’t invoke the same “this place is a mess” feelings because of it, you know? Six Flags should just tear down the rest of their themeing and just have a coaster park. Sure, still have the Looney Tunes and DC heroes and all that, but just get rid of the premise, you know? It would probably serve them well.