Alone in the Smooze: “Make New Friends but Keep Discord” review

Let me explain to you how my brain works… this will be difficult.

Every time something good happens in my life, I assume it’ll go bad. This is a big problem when friendships are involved.

Every time I’ve developed, or started to develop, some type of friendship with someone, something always goes wrong. And it’s never my fault, it’s always them! Everyone hates me and it was always inevitable!

And I know what you’re thinking: That makes no sense. And it doesn’t. But that’s how my brain ends up processing the situation. It’s always something small and sometimes trivial that takes place, causing me to feel like it’s all over, and I should just throw it all away. It doesn’t take much for my brain to interpret something as absolute rejection, and convert it into absolute derision. And by the time I realize that, it’s hard to go back.

It wasn’t always this way. Back in high school, I was very clingy as a friend, and it would take a person cursing me out to get me to leave them alone. Which actually almost happened.

But now, I’ve gone in the complete opposite direction. Now I’m overly sensitive to it. Now any minor thing will get me to fall apart. And I think it might be due to my fragile self-esteem, and a debilitating social anxiety. It’s hard to approach people, and when I do, if they’re not 100% open, my brain just cries ‘abort’ and I walk away.

And I can only wonder if I’m alone in this.

Possibly not.

For instance: Discord! My spirit animal!

And I’ll explain how as I write another piece on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The show that never stops teaching me about myself. Continue reading

Not As It Seems: “Appleoosa’s Most Wanted” review

During the series one finale of Broadchurch (which, if you haven’t seen yet, you should), we learned who killed Daniel Latimer. We also learned that it was unintentional. The killer (whom I will not name here) didn’t mean to kill the kid, just scare him, but got a bit carried away. But obviously, that doesn’t excuse it.

Though it begs the question: What exactly was going through the minds of the writers when they came up with that? Not to say it was a bad idea. I actually liked it. But what is the reasoning, thematically, behind framing the big murder as unintentional, rather than deliberate?

Well, let’s analyse this carefully. If the murderer deliberately killed Danny, and was thinking: “I want this little prick dead!” It would’ve made it much harder to handle. Because the idea that a complete sociopath could live a life in a small town without anyone noticing, is a bit beyond the pale, and probably more appropriate for something like Dexter.

It’s also the reason I think Gracepoint completely screwed that up. Sure, it’s even easier to believe that Danny’s death could’ve been a complete accident, but a major theme of the series was the idea that even though there’s a shell of sweetness and joy, this small town has a dark centre that’ll slowly get exposed. But Gracepoint didn’t really have a dark centre, because Danny’s death was a complete accident. The moral equivalent of a brick falling on his head. Terrible, but not intentional.

Ending what is ostensibly a thriller by revealing it was all just a horrible accident isn’t really appropriate for a dark character drama. It’s more appropriate for an episode of My Little Pony!

Oh by the way: spoiler warning. I’m going to talk about My Little Pony again. Continue reading

How the Rainbow Stole Winter: “Tanks for the Memories” review

I’ll be honest, I love winter. And I doubt it’s for the reasons you think it is.

It’s not because of winter sports. Mainly because I hate sports. Although, I say that, but just this past winter, I got back into skiing, which is something I hadn’t done in over a decade, and I genuinely had a lot of fun. And who knows? Maybe I’ll get another chance this coming winter. But it’s not really something I’d go out of my way for. It was fun, but expensive, and also very uncomfortable trying to fit my freakishly large feet into those tiny metal braces. (They’re not actually metal, but they might as well be.) And then there’s the cold weather trying to bite my face off. So, honestly, I can take or leave it.

So what about Christmas? Well, let me put it this way: I’m an atheist, and I don’t like my family, and I never get any gifts unless you count cash, which I don’t. So no, I can’t say I like Christmas.

So why do I like winter? The atmosphere. The world around you becomes soft and white, like a pure cotton blanket has been delicately placed atop it. And as the outside, cold and frightful, bares down on your home, you can remain inside, with a cup of tea, and good book, next to a warm fire (or space heater, depending on the fire code), safe, cozy, and content.

Basically, I like to hibernate during the winter. In fact, there’s this island in Lake Huron called Mackinac that I visited a few times as a child. The only way on or off the island is by ferry, so once winter hits, the entire place is locked down. Because of this, I have this secret fantasy. I want to spend a winter there. Actually, I want to spend a whole year, but winter would be part of it. At home, isolated, little contact with the outside, I’d only have to leave to replenish my food reserves, which would be relatively easy since it’s a small island. To me, that would be perfect. They have a newspaper! The Town Crier! I could work as a reporter there! Or possibly manage the local digital infrastructure, or be the go-to computer repair guy. I assure you, I can pay my way in even the most isolated of communities, and I would love it! However, this fantasy is slightly kicked in the head by the fact that there’s an airport and internet connection. But cut me some slack, I’m slightly dependant on the web at this stage. Without Google, I’d probably snap. And without regular shipments from the mainland, I don’t see how I could manage a computer repair business anyway.

But you get my point, right? I love winter. It’s the only time I have an excuse to never leave the house. And I’m sure many share my perspective.

But not Rainbow Dash.

No, she hates the idea of staying inside where one won’t freeze their nipples off, which is where she comes into conflict with Tank, her pet turtle/tortoise/who-gives-a-shit!? Because apparently, he’s planning to hibernate for the winter. And she does not like it. Continue reading

The Filly Who Wouldn’t Grow Up: “Bloom & Gloom” review

I think I may be afraid of growing up. And that is a terrifying revelation to come to in your late 20s.

This is something I only recently noticed. Because next year, I’ll be graduating college for the second time, and I have no idea what’s going to happen. After all, my last college diploma didn’t do so well for me, if I’m honest.

For a start, I’ll have to move out of the college dorms, and I have no idea where I could move to and be able to pay for. I mean, if I don’t find a well-paying job, I might have to live is some shitty share house again! I don’t want that! Mainly because I don’t want another surly and obnoxious roommate whose major hobby is calling me a ‘fag’!

Though that’s unlikely to happen, regardless.

But can that really be defined as a fear of growing up? I’m not sure. I think it’s just fear of the unknown… fear of uncertainty… fear that I won’t be able to support myself. I’m not afraid of working, I’m afraid of not working. And given how the economy has been going these past few years, it’s not looking up.

But more than that, what if I get a job I hate? Alright, I’m getting paid, but I’m miserable at the same time, so it wouldn’t really be worth it. There comes a stage where you have to admit that the job you have is worse than starvation. I really hope I never reach that point. Then again, I’m learning IT, which is slowly making me want to live among the Amish.

Am I alone here? Almost certainly not. There are probably many people around the world genuinely afraid of what their future holds… and many ponies.

Yes, Apple Bloom. The precocious little filly who’s been spending the last several years desperate to lose her virginity– Uh, I mean, get her cutie mark, is now deathly afraid of it. Oh how times change… Continue reading

A Small Fish in a Big Pond: “Castle Sweet Castle” review

For some reason, these days I’ve been watching a lot of ‘Let’s Plays.’

You know what a ‘Let’s Play’ is, right? They’re those videos people post of gameplay footage, accompanied by their own boring commentary.

Generally, I watch them for the talk, because the right commentator can make even the most boring game in the world, a fascinating piece of work. Case in point: Gabe and Yahtzee, who do the ‘Let’s Drown Out’ series on YouTube. They’re entertaining, insightful, and hilarious as they talk about gaming news, answer viewer questions, and comment on random shit while one of them plays a game.

It may not sound that great, but for some reason, the formula works. And half the time I just pick a random episode and use it as background noise while I’m doing some menial stuff around the house.

One of their most recent videos featured them playing ‘Papers, Please,’ (which is a really good game, by the way) and their discussion naturally drifted toward communism. Or should I say: COMMUNISM!!! [shake fist dramatically]

That doesn’t work as well in text.

Anyway, it got me thinking about why communism has never worked in the past. And really, it all comes down to the fact that no country has ever had enough money to pull it off.

Alright, part of it is human nature. If you’re not getting rewarded for doing a good job over a bad job, why would you bother doing a good job? And if everyone gets paid the same regardless of skill set, why wouldn’t you just pick the easiest job you can find?

But let’s be honest, how many jobs out there can be described as, ‘shit’? How many jobs are lamented with the phrase, ‘it’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it’? How many jobs does no one want to fucking do!?

So imagine a world where that’s no longer an issue. Imagine a world where toilets were self-cleaning, robots handled shipping and loading at factories and warehouses, where machines handled our customer service… Actually, we already got that last one, which proves my point. Eventually, that’ll become a reality, and there’ll be no demand for shit work. So what does one do? How does one earn an honest living? Well, in that world, we’ll be so bogged down with resources, we won’t care! We’ll just give you food, fuck it!

This was what was envisioned by Gene Roddenberry: the Star Trek economy. They have no money in Star Trek, so they do what they want to, not what they need to.

But why would they even bother working at all in that world? Well, for recognition, responsibilities, power, fun, or simply maintaining their own sanity! It’s not for personal gain, but personal growth.

But even with plentiful resources, there is only so much land mass on this planet. How do we control that? If we can get anything we want without working for it, how do we stop people just taking five-story mansions and claiming that as their own?

Which finally leads me to a very important point: I don’t think that’s an issue, because not only does no one person need a five-story mansion all to themselves, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t even want it if they had it!

Now, to be honest, I’m not someone you’d call ‘cheap’. I do have expensive tastes. I like fine wines, and imported Scotch Whisky. I like a good meal in a fancy restaurant, Earl Grey tea, and a well-made cup of coffee (which I still haven’t found in this town). I like a custom-tailored suit and tie, with nice shoes and a sweet hat. I like nice things. What I don’t like is a giant house with 27 rooms unless it’s a goddamn orphanage! Do you know what my dream home has? A bedroom, an office, a kitchen, a bathroom, and if I’m feeling cheeky: an entertainment room for all the entertaining I never do. And if I’m living with other people, like a wife and family for instance, we’re sharing most of that.

So why would anyone in their right mind want a house ten times bigger than they need!? Where half the time you’d enter a room and go: ‘Oh, this is new, never been in here before’? Where you can get lost on your way to the loo? Where every room just reminds you of how alone you are?

No one would want that!

And that brings us, in a roundabout way, to another episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Establishing, once again, that Twilight isn’t princess material, and for once, I mean that in a good way. Continue reading

The Stepford Ponies: “The Cutie Map” review

I’m perplexed by conformity. This desire by some people to fit in, and be the same.

Not that I don’t understand people wanting to be part of a group. That I certainly get. We all want friends, and companionship, and what better way than by being part of a group? We are social animals after all.

No, what I don’t get is people seeing a group, and deciding to fit into it by changing who they are. That is perplexing to me. And you see this happening all the time; people adapting and giving into peer pressure, particularly teenagers. A lot of social fears are heightened at that age and the fear of being ostracised can lead someone to change their entire personality. Adapt to fit the crowd. Of course, these people are young, so they’re allowed to be stupid.

But I still see this happening, even years after I left high school. People are encouraged, and oftentimes forced, to adapt to the crowd and do things the way the majority does it. For instance, I’m currently learning Computer Programming (well, technically I’m on break right now) at college, and because of that, I have to run Windows on my laptop, even though I’d much prefer Linux. I know it’s a minor point for some, but it matters to me! However, one could argue a practical limitation here. It’s very hard to develop Windows applications on Linux.

But that’s not the only pressure I experience. For instance, I prefer open source software, and whenever I mention I don’t use Microsoft Office, people look at me like I got a third arm growing out of my chest.

I know, I know. It’s a very IT-specific point to make. I’m sure most people couldn’t give a shit about my software preferences.

But here’s my point: You shouldn’t let that happen. You shouldn’t let other people determine what makes you, you. Mainly because if we did that, we would stop being. If you’re the same as everyone else, we wouldn’t need you anymore, because we have everyone else. Which sounds very nihilistic, but it’s not untrue. What makes us important, and gives us value, is what makes us unique and different.

And I’m sure I won’t get anyone to question that. I’m sure everyone can agree that we should cherish what makes us unique. Right?

Well, perhaps not everyone. Which brings us to the fifth season première of My Little Pony! Or as I like to call it: Adventures in Stepford!

Ehh… creepy… Continue reading

Every New Beginning

Ah, Royalty. In this day and age, it’s vestigial. A remnant of ancient society that we just haven’t bothered to get rid of. The only cases where a society has rid themselves of their monarch and established a republic are cases where their monarch was an asshole. Even going back to possibly the earliest republic: Rome.

Before the Roman Republic was established, their last king, King Superbus (yes, that’s his real name), was an arrogant and tyrannical prat. Of course they overthrew him!

The United States ousted the British Government because of taxes and other things, France overthrew their king mainly because of the wealth gap, Germany got rid of the Kaiser because he was a twat who caused World War I, and India dropped King George VI because… well because Ghandi didn’t like him, apparently.

But as long as one doesn’t make too many waves, or piss off the people, they should be able to maintain their rule indefinitely, even if the vast majority of people don’t really care for them. Why? Because it’s just not worth getting rid of them. There really is no point, because even if only a small minority of people support them, their non-supporters just wouldn’t care enough to change things. Everything’s fine! Why fix what isn’t broken?

In Canada, our monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, the same as it is in the UK. And her only job, really, is making sure every nation under her rule has a government… that’s it. She doesn’t have to make any decisions, do any real work; just greet dignitaries, make the occasional speech, and sign every document the parliament puts on her desk. She doesn’t even have to read, she just has to sign!

It must get boring. I know if I had a boring job where I did the exact same thing day after day, no choices, no judgement, no challenges before me, I’d slowly lose my damn mind! Which I guess would explain Prince Philip, wouldn’t it? If only he had a hobby, maybe he’d stop putting his foot in it. I assume that’s how Her Majesty stays sane, some secret hobby no one knows about, like writing erotic fiction under a pseudonym. Maybe she’s the real author of Fifty Shades of Grey! Wouldn’t that be great!?

If life is boring, it’s not worth living. You gotta keep busy, you gotta stay sane. Royalty that does nothing but sit around and wave has no real purpose, and that’s all we have in modern times, unless you count Saudi Arabia. Which I wouldn’t, because I did say ‘modern’ there.

However, in Equestria, Royalty has power. None of them are mere figureheads, overlooking their society while perpetually disconnected from it. They all have a role to play. Well, all except the newest member of the royals: Twilight Sparkle.

And this leads us into the fourth season finale of My Little Pony. Where Twilight finally gets a job. What took her so long? Continue reading

Because You’re Worthless

A little over two weeks ago, Robin Williams killed himself.

Oh, what a bright and cheery way to open this piece.

But he did! It happened, and I honestly can’t ever remember being this broken up over a celebrity’s death. I mean, maybe Michael Jackson; but then I wasn’t sad, I was just surprised. But with Robin Williams, I was seriously broken up over it. And it didn’t take me long to realize why: because he killed himself.

When someone dies of natural causes, or due to some accident or drug overdose, you know you can’t really blame anyone. I mean, I could get angry at Heath Ledger for ruining The Dark Knight Rises by dying of a drug overdose, and I did. But I shouldn’t have because it wasn’t really his fault, it was an accident, and I’m sure he didn’t want to die. A statistical fluke, we’ll call it.

But Williams deliberately ended his own life. He chose to kill himself. So the rest of us don’t just have a sense of loss, but betrayal, and are left to only ask ‘why?’ Why did he chose to leave us? Why did he have to die before making Mrs. Doubtfire 2!? I’m sure the answers were in the note he left his family, which the rest of us will probably never see. And fair enough, we don’t have an explicit right to. But regardless, it was a decision he made. And the rest of us can only wonder why. And we may never, ever, get an answer.

So is that the reason it hit me so hard? I could keep saying that. I could say the gnawing existential questions are what tore me apart. But that would be a lie. A lie used to cover another lie that I’ve told everyone who’s ever asked, including myself. Because the truth I came to shortly after he died was: I know exactly how he felt. You see, in the past, I’ve thought of killing myself. And this is the first time I’ve ever told anyone.

Obviously I never went through it, and I don’t think I ever will. I’ve never even come close; I’ve never made a single action in that direction. It’s just… there were certain dark moments where I thought about it, but quickly decided against it. Which is why I was in denial about it. Oh, it was only for a few seconds, it doesn’t count! But looking back, it probably did. I’ll probably need to talk to someone about this, like a professional councillor, or a psychologist. Someone who would know exactly how to handle this.

I know I won’t talk to a friend who’ll probably have absolutely no experience with this kind of thing. Because if someone is depressed, and on the verge of suicide, a friend may be able to make the commitment and spend the night so they can physically stop the person from taking their own life. And yeah, sure, that’ll work, but it may only be a short-term solution. These people have serious issues they need to deal with, and if a friend tries to fix them, they might just make it worse! They may say things like: “Oh, life’s worth living!” and, “You have friends and family who love you!” and stuff… And that won’t help… at all. And you may be wondering: ‘Why!? Why won’t it help!?’ Well, because they won’t believe you!

The thing is, if someone’s that deep in a pit of depression, it’ll take more than meaningless platitudes to pull them out. “But they’re not meaningless!” you might say. But you’re wrong, they are. Just because you say something, doesn’t make it true, and someone suffering from depression is going to gravitate to the negative, and ignore the positive. They simply won’t believe you! And they may even think your pointless platitudes are condescending and insulting.

The truth is, if you feel inadequate and useless, someone else’s words aren’t going to pull you out of it. Even your own words will fail to pull you out, especially if you don’t believe them. You’re going to have to feel better, and want to feel better, by more than just simple words.

And with all this talk about suicide and depression, we come to the penultimate episode from the latest season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Where Spike becomes clinically depressed during the Equestria Games. And I know exactly how he feels, I hate sports too. Continue reading