Thursday, March 23, 2017

Wonder the Woman: Identity Politics + Wonder Woman = A Problematic Post.


This is why we can't have nice things.

Somehow, Wonder Woman keeps ending up atop the plinth of misdirected SJW outrage.  Apparently, this time it's because a distinct lack of visible armpit hair is an affront to everything in the universe and you're a misogynist agent of the patriarchy if you don't get out in-front of DC's offices right the hell now with a protest sign and 3 different whistles.  It is amazing how identity politics wielded as a cudgel by out-of-touch people just ruins everything it encounters.  Actually that's not amazing. What is amazing is that this is working its way into pop-culture via a most agonizing exploitation of ridiculous minutia.



The above sentiment is what brings an added degree of frustration to this mess.  The people doing all the bellyaching, moaning, whining, kvetching, shouting, ranting, back-turning, and finger waving or whatever various other unproductive disruptive activities they do, know exactly nothing about Wonder Woman other than "something something The Patriarchy!"  They also will never bother to learn.  To many people critical of these things, pop-culture is still something for the "nerds" or "basement dwellers" out there and they themselves with their oh so mighty opinions of what is and isn't appropriate are just so much more sophisticated.  It's understandable that people thought that way in 1987, but not 2017.  Seriously, ask one of them what Wonder Woman's real name is and they'll have no idea, but they'll have plenty to say about her outfit and what books/art you should be able to read or buy.  These social pontifications serve only to damage an existing brand and prevent people from accessing it who wish to do so.  Therein lies the problem.  The "I think it's bad!  So no one can have access to it no matter what" mentality is simply censorship under the guise of socially progressive propositions.  But this does not build anything, nor does it offer alternatives to something they believe is deficient in terms of being "woke" or whatever the comic book equivalent of that is.  It just destroys what it deems as antithetical to its own sensibilities and moves on to a new target. Or just comes back to bashing Wonder Woman again because these people are insane.


Yes that's a school punishing a student for bringing "violent imagery" into the classroom in the form of those above images.  This is most likely a case of not only hostility to Wonder Woman, but also the broader problem that schools have devolved into Zimbardian nightmares of out of control administrators and teaching staff, seeking to dehumanize every student to the point where they can exercise absolute control over them.  There is really not much difference between punishing a student for something so innocuous as the instance above, and that scene in Cool Hand Luke where the prison guards make him dig a hole and then fill it back in just for the hell of it, so they can show him who's boss.  It doesn't end well in either situation.

Wonder Woman is Greek, and has been alive for a long time.  Regarding specific tastes, you ever see Ancient Greek statues?  You know what's not there on the ones of both women and men?  Armpit hair.  So maybe we can get historical accuracy in on this and say that it is period specific.  Actually, she's basically half Goddess, so she probably has the ability to straight up will her hair right the fuck off any part of her whenever the fuck she feels like it. 

Hell, the Ancient Egyptians hated body hair so much they all shaved and waxed every inch of themselves (that's both the havers of XX and XY chromosomes), so if an Ancient Egyptian character had no armpit hair and a bikini wax, would that be sexist?  Of course not, it would be straight up historically accurate, but some people would call it sexist anyway by incorrectly applying modern social norms to areas outside their effective purview.


Something something, PH balanced, something something, punchline.


UNwoke:

Oh but that isn't the only bone of picking that the SJWs have with Wonder Woman.  In late 2016, she was "fired" from being an Honorary U.N.  Ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls, because... sexism I guess.  Like maybe she is sexist, or represents sexism or is the result of sexism ...something stupid, the reasons don't make a lot of sense.  This kind of thing is so ridiculous.  Sure there are legitimate issues of sexism and imperialism you could bring up when talking about an affiliation of Wonder Woman with the U.N., however the action was intended to be positive, and helpful by the U.N.  Then, rather than offer a replacement role-model, these protest people seem only concerned with tearing her down.   A fictional character getting removed from a fictional position at the (real) U.N., is something that is apparently worthy of major SJW action, because nothing says gender equality and female empowerment like firing a woman because of her looks. 

This guy knows what I'm talkin' about...
Yes that should worry you, it's terrible.

The armpit-police and people cheering Wonder Woman's removal from the U.N. are some of the same people out there who will insist that the 2016 Ghostbusters is the best movie ever and you're a total misogynist agent of the patriarchy rapist if you didn't go see it 17 times in the theater when it came out.  The thing is, they really are wasting everyone's time.  Their efforts might better serve women's issues if directed at other situations, such as;
  
Saudi Arabia is on the UN Human Rights Council.  You know, this place:


 
 
 
She's dead now.  Seriously.

Yes you heard right, Saudi fucking Arabia is (somehow) on the U.N. Human Rights Council.  Saudi Arabia should not be on the U.N. Human Rights Council.  They behead people for "witchcraft" there.  So yay, you got Wonder Woman fired, because what kind of message is the U.N. sending by associating with a fictional character who has been portrayed battling sexism herself but has the wrong outfit on while doing it and was "too sexy" or something...  she should cover up I guess! Doesn't Saudi Arabia have something she can use

It's a good thing the U.N. isn't doing anything else that might send out an even worse message to the world... like letting the country where this shit happens (very disturbing image) have a say in how the world approaches human rights. 




You probably forgot, but...


Most of these girls (and lots of others as well) are still missing, but that hashtag you put on your twitter 3 years ago is definitely totally helping, they should be getting rescued by Instagram any minute now.   You know Vine was actually killed for getting too close.  

Wouldn't it be great if there were perhaps a League out there, which dedicated itself to Justice, made up of people with powers beyond that of average people, they could rescue these kidnapped children by using those powers for good...  perhaps rescued by a Wondrous Woman if you will, who would fight for the safety of other women and girls throughout the world? 



You're about to open up Google Maps right now...

There is still a violent war and terrifying rape epidemic in the Central African Republic.  I am guessing you don't know where that is.  But hey, you wrote an angry Facebook post when Harambe got shot so it totally evens out (I am guessing you can't remember what the date was when that happened either). 



Hey look, a little closer to home...


 
People are still starving to death in Venezuela.  Yeah it's starting to get close to Raft of the Medusa levels of terrible over there.

Too depressing?  Here's a First World problem for you...


The art instillation in New York City known as Fearless Girl is a temporary one and is scheduled for removal at a later date.  There is vocal support for making it permanent.  All you have to do is contact the office of the Mayor and if you live in NYC you should also contact your City Council Representative.  If you don't live in NYC, you are still a potential visitor/tourist/student/whatever so you should write in anyway.  If you have 5 minutes and a stamp, this shouldn't be a hard decision to make.
See, so easy even an Angry Otaku can do it.


There, I just listed a bunch of stuff that you really should be concerned about, and might be able to actually do something that resembles helping, depending on the resources you have available to you.  You're not helping anyone involved by "checking" your "privilege" ...you help by using it to improve situations for others.
 


Maybe just stick to TV?

Coming back to super-hero movies, I would like to add the disclaimer that I hate hero movies.  Marvel/DC cinematic tripe is something I actively avoid.  With the exception of 30 minutes of Iron Man I saw on an airplane, I have not, nor do I intend to see any of this garbage (this includes GI Joe and Transformers).  So I already know I don't like this movie, but it's because I think the movie is going to be crap (DC couldn't even make Harley Quinn: The Movie without fucking it the hell up).  It's not because of some sort of warped notion of social values that I am avoiding this thing.

Another disclaimer I should make is that it seems apparent that the notion of armpit hair on Wonder Woman to be but a cause du jour with a relatively limited number of people and is most likely getting CNN-ed way out of proportion by the media machine.  Since Trump's tweets don't bring in the viewers like they used to, they have to come up with something.  My writing this is most likely in no way helping the situation either.  Actually since only 4 people are going to read this I don't think it's going to make any difference.

Comic book stories as TV have definitely contributed to our new golden age of television that we are currently enjoying.  Walking Dead, Lucifer, Preacher, DareDevil, Arrow, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, ...and The Flash I guess?  Is The Punisher still a show?  Also Iron Fist exists.  I know there's more and I'm not even going to go into animated shows but there's now so many all at once that it becomes possible to start doing actual scatter-plots with this stuff. Television actually removes the three main components that usually combine and conspire to kill major movies and make them utterly shitty.  So what specifically is it that makes TV better?

Hey, Maze, you got... a little something... on your... um... never-mind.

#1: No MPAA.  TV Ratings turned into a joke the day VOD became widespread.  With entire streaming services out there now making original content, the notion of making a solidified TV rating system akin to the draconian MPAA a reality, is reduced to a complete fallacy.  I have previously mentioned how damaging MPAA ratings are and most moviegoers who aren't 100 years old have recognized them as mostly useless relics of time when interracial marriage was illegal.  

As long as movies mutilate themselves in some sort of manic episode of body-dismorphia, cutting off their own fingers to fit within the glove of the "commercially viable" PG-13 rating, we will get nothing but equally mutilated works of cinema.  Like a super-model with anorexia, it is abhorrent to look at, no matter what designer rag you drape around it and how much "confidence" it has.  Hey parents, if you're not convinced yet, then go watch 007: Casino Royale then go watch The King's Speech. Now come back and tell me which rating should be on which movie. 

#2: China hasn't ruined TV yet like it has ruined movies.  China controls Hollywood.  No there are not people sitting in some dark room, wearing sunglasses, calling the shots and slowly smoking cigarettes while ominous music plays.  However, in financial planning, China as a market is now a significant fixture in earning projections for any project.  Producers, writers, and studio executives now have to take this into account when they decide what projects to finance and how they want them to be made.  So because of that, if you don't think that every major movie made by Hollywood studios has entire teams around them which have the sole function of making sure the final product will meet Chinese government censorship standards and resonate with Chinese audiences, then you haven't been paying attention over the past decade. So, low context stories and simple dialogue, jokes that are more "universal" and therefore more pedestrian, and a style that favors slapstick and visual effects over depth and intensity, those are what you will see a lot of, and those qualities are usually what makes a movie a stinking pile of shit.  That's why Ghostbsters 2016 sucked, it was counting on China and desperately tried to make it appealing to that audience as well... didn't really work out for them.

So to recap, Movies are multi-million dollar investments, the investors are going to want to earn as much as possible on them, and that means doing the China thing. That's how investing works.  Unfortunately, this leads to un-funny, one-dimensional, rubber-stamp stories with dialogue so simple you can't tell if the entire cast has brain damage.  Since TV doesn't need to kowtow to China, they can get very deep into the high-context type of narrative that domestic audiences can appreciate.  They also not only are able to freely ignore Chinese censorship laws but American ones as well.

As awesome as this looks, it would probably end up as a shit movie unless you involve Rule 34.

#3:  Technology... technology everywhere.  This is a broad one, but technology has allowed for productions the level of which would have been unthinkable even as recently as 10 years ago. Higher production values with less equipment.  Post production and effects that can be done in a single home-studio by a creative professional.  And a pool of talent that is able to get more done remotely than ever before.  These things help make the mega-hits possible. 

But wait there's more!  It's not just RED cameras and production technology that is helping, but media delivery and storage technology as well.  When you have a delivery system that frees the audience from an appointed airtime, you have fundamentally changed how people can consume media.  For example, although the last episode of Breaking Bad aired years ago, if I wanted to get into the show, I could still just fire up the Netflix and watch every episode on my own time without having to purchase packaged media which takes up space and has no exit for me to bail in case I end up not liking the show.  No more rushing home to catch whatever episode of anything because you can watch it on your tablet tomorrow on your way to work.  While this can lead to an overwhelming feeling when you realize how much is out there, it is ultimately helpful in building bases which have strong loyalty and follow-through.  It lets people integrate this entertainment into their lives and schedules like never before, which will lead to increased commitment when it comes to following a series.

Netflix is your friend.  Who could not like this show?

So in terms of Wonder Woman, though I don't like Marvel/DC dreck, I actually hope the movie does well, because there is a notion out there about a crossover between the DC and the Power Rangers universes.  I don't know why, but that actually sounds like it would be cool.  I am sure people will complain about something being sexist and all kinds of other -ists and so on, but if both Wonder Woman and Power Rangers are successful, then a tidal wave of investment capital is going to push right through any opposition, whatever it may be, and that movie is gonna get made.

 
Please line up for the armpit sexism check.  Armpit sex is ok though, it's just armpit sexism that's banned.  Not gonna google "armpit-sex" because I don't want to find out if it means what I think it means.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bee Stings vs Bullet Wounds: Toshiba continues to sponsor Sazae-san

When Smoke & Mirrors Are Just What the Doctor Ordered.

Toshiba.  The only brand of laptop computer I ever consider, is in a boatload of trouble.  What kind of trouble?  You might say it's of the Enron variety (AKA forgetting how GAAP / IFRS works and hoping nobody notices.  Someone will always notice, by the way). 

 This is totally what every accountant in Japan looks like, I am an expert.

While this proved fatal for Enron, it is unlikely that Toshiba will cease to exist any time soon.  Sure this is a hit to Toshiba and to Japan itself, but not a fatal one. Japan has already had a revolving door of Prime Ministers ever since Japanese Tony Blair left office (yeah I said it) and that didn't bring the place down. It's probably not going to come to Abe stepping down early, though he ain't gonna be around after the next election.  But Japan is still relatively healthy compared to the rest of the region, and these developments are bee stings rather than bullet wounds.

This is totally what every bee in Japan looks like, I am an expert


Like any bee sting, getting one or two is something you can shrug off, however, once they start adding up, things get really serious really fast.  Right now, Japan has so much egg on its face that it's 50% sentient omelette at this point, and it has found itself having to choose between a frying pan and a fire. There is a serious government scandal going on stemming from the Ultra-Nationalist School land deal in Osaka Pref., there's another serious government scandal going on regarding GSDF activities in South Sudan (both with Defense Minister Tomomi Inada in the middle of the mess), yet she is continuously supported by the very unpopular PM Shinzo Abe.  This all floats atop a barge of private sector embarrassment made up of everything from the airbag safety recalls to radioactive pigs. All the while; the Norkos have declared war on the ocean again and have decided that Assassin's Creed IRL is just super-fun, South Korea is under attack from its own appliances and just removed its president from office for being terrible, China just unfriended everyone because they won't stop hanging out with their hated ex (Taiwan), The Philippines is encouraging its law enforcement to shoot people in the street, it wasn't really that long ago when cities in Thailand were mostly on fire, and a walking used condom full of melted creamsicle and ADHD just pulled the USA out of the TPP (which had its shortcomings, but just pulling out is like choosing to stay stranded in Death Valley because the rescue vehicle is a Ford F-450 and you're a die hard Chevy fan).  So... yeah, things are going just peachy-keen.

 This is the correct response.

The result of all of this can be a real and tangible detriment to many sociological and economic facets of a population.  Outlook, consumer spending, stress, overall health, cost of living, investment strategies, isolationism, and an overall feeling of anxiety that can permeate daily life are all areas in which regular people are effected. Stability in global trade, politics, and technology aren't things that are easily accomplished, but cultural stability is something that can be delivered and often helps keep people grounded, if only just a little, and improves overall quality of life even if it is just by drawing appreciation to the little things.

https://www.mindfueldaily.com/

Joy in the little things is not only the theme of the world's longest running animated series, and Japanese cultural institution, Sazae-san, but also the source of its great importance and relevance to people today.   Sazae-san is the type of anime that Japanese audiences love and international audiences don't pay attention to because it's like the most boringest one when compared to something like Attack on Titan.  The thing is it trounces just about every other anime title out there in ratings every week because it's very relatable if you live in Japan. It's something your grandparents watched, it's something your parents watched, and it's something you grew up watching.  It can't go away.  Having it around is important and helpful for keeping people within some modicum of the life-patterns they are accustomed to.  After my first few months living in Tokyo I was watching it on a regular basis.  Side note; it's a great way to practice Japanese because the dialogue isn't that intensely complex, and contains less slang than something like Shinchan.  Whether it is because of a profound sense of national duty, or they are just trying not to look weak, Toshiba is doing a public service for Japan by continuing to sponsor Sazae-san.


Keeping Japan from losing it's shit, one episode at a time.

I have noted before that anime as an industry is inexorably tied to other economic sectors, and here is a major example of that.  A shakeup in the bond issuance of a technology company came close enough to killing Sazae-san that it became major news.

This is not an example of putting on blinders to the realities of the world, or a tool in some sort of propaganda fueled denial of factualities that grow dangerous if ignored.  This is staying grounded in the face of uncertainty.  It is a needed mental supplement to prevent the kind of bad news burn-out that can have detrimental effects. Anime has almost always been that, no matter what the genre or setting.  It's a fun thing to do, and the healthy escapism it provides makes you realize, such is life.



Not bad for a 94 year old.






Thursday, March 9, 2017

What You're Missing: WakakoZaké

Why you might like WakakoZaké ワカコ酒 (Wakako Zake).  There are actually plenty of reviews of this title out there now, but I hope to spread the word that this one is indeed worth it.

When in the course of human events, sometimes we find our own tastes have changed, and something else is required to reach expected levels of enjoyment.  Much as once you reach a certain age jazz music stops sounding like shit and you can't really listen to Blink 182 anymore, sometimes you can't really enjoy an anime series where "high school students do X," or "giant robots, giant giants, too-many ninjas, giant ninja boobies, etc" or just about any stuff that you really need to be in high school to like.  So if you find yourself in such a situation, if you actually like Yokohama Shopping Log (go google it, I know you're gonna), then the series Wakako Zaké is going to be something you probably will enjoy.

In this Mameshiba for the real world, we follow Wakako Murasaki, a single working woman in Tokyo who takes joy in the little things of small eating establishments and the pairing of their specialties with the perfect accompanying libations.  The small moments of decision and quiet reflections featured, undertaken by one living all alone in a big city and after working in a world where your efforts might be futile, culminate in finding that singular space and time when everything comes together for a feeling that can only be depicted as; "Pushuuuuu~ :) "


For anyone who has an interest in slice-of-life type stories or is interested in Japanese cuisine, this is going to be a fun watch for you.  There's really no story line here, and the episodes simply revolve around whatever Wakako decides to order that day.  The episodes themselves are quite short, and clock in at something like two minutes each. Much like the moment of zen (or "pushuuuuu~" as one might put it) they are fleeting, and so the value they bring to your day is all the more important.

One of the reasons I can personally connect with this is that when I lived in Tokyo, I did exactly this kind of thing, looking for out-of the-way places in the middle of Shinjuku and ordering something more indigenous.  There are a few tricks to finding a good place like this.
1) Are they insanely crowded at lunch?  Then it's good stuff.
2) When you go in there, is everyone eating the same thing despite an extensive menu?  Hint; Order that.
3) Does the place not have a menu and only serve one dish for lunch and one for dinner?  That's gonna be a good place.
4) Does it smell so good it makes you feel like you haven't eaten in 3 days? That's the place.
That's pretty much it, in terms of picking a spot. When you're on vacation try it out.  But a few things you should know:
-No big groups.  Seriously these places aren't built for that.
-They're not gonna speak English so don't expect them to.
-If it's crowded, eat everything on your plate and leave immediately. Not kidding, some places have rules like this posted on their walls.
-Cash only.
Happy Hunting.


Never know what you'll find.  (Photo courtesy of ME bitches!)

The ultra simplistic style of character design is actually helpful for this series.  The simple facial features and expressions create the perfect canvas to convey feelings and sensations that can't be explicitly articulated with dialogue alone.  There's something a certain kind of face says that no amount of words in the world could ever hope to.  It is momentary, vaporous, and fleeting; qualities without which would make this series just a boring food-show and not something much, much more.

 A thousand words.

Losing some of this quality, but no less enjoyable is the live action version of this show.  I don't know if it was because it just performed better, or because it's much cheaper to make, but the live action version seems to have more episodes.  To any otaku out there who would normally eschew live-action fare, I would say that if you like the animated version of this, then the live-action is most certainly worth a shot. 

Wakako Zaké

So when the Sword Art is offline, when you really don't care what's going on in Ouran High School or whatever, and when you're out of episodes of Dragon Maid to watch, go sit down with some edamame and some Junmai Ginjo, fire up the Crunchyroll, and sit back to enjoy an anime about the little things that make life worth living.  Wakako Zaké



Thursday, March 2, 2017

Cracked.com: Censorship and IP blocking which would make China proud.

 Cracked.com has gone full Left Pole.



The decline of Cracked.com has been well documented around the general internet.  Lots of people are realizing what they were becoming in terms of hyper-politicization and militancy over several years, but recently we have crossed a threshold.  Cracked.com getting attacked by shit-pits like Britebart and The NRA regarding their content is not really something you'd find surprising (The NRA are gun-nuts and Brietbart is just terrible on every level).  But when Huffington Post and F.I.R.E. have to call you out for basically the same bullshit, and fan blogs and entertainment websites have to take a step back and start being critical, then that's a different story.  Since that one article (now deleted) that said having the World Cup in your country would be more harmful than helpful, and when it comes to the USA we can expect absolute bedlam (all the while being obtusely oblivious to the fact that the USA did indeed host the World Cup in 1994 without incident), Cracked.com has been moving away from pure, and puerile, humor to a strange changeling of Buzzfeed listicles and Rolling Stone style life-experience reporting, to finally going all-out SJW in the course of about 5-6 years.


What happened?  Oh, David Wong showed up (the guy who got kicked off his own AMA for acting like a tool.  No, seriously he did).  
David Wong's real name is Jason Pargin by the way.  Yeah take one look at the guy and you'd never ever think "Wong."
And before you go and say "well you know those stories on the right side didn't all come out the same day" you can then ask yourself; how much does that f-ing matter if they all in fact came out on that site. Because they did.

So as Cracked.com continued their march down that path for better or for worse, something interesting happened and and that "something" was quite recently.  There started to be a bit less politically and socially absolutist assertion pieces and a bit more actually funny stuff.  Oh, not real funny as in the days of Swaim and the only O'Brien at Cracked.com that matters, but at least it wasn't the barrage of "hey-hey ho-ho this penis party's got to go!" stuff they'd been putting out.  And then on February 27, 2017, they published this piece:


There's nothing more awful out there I guess... yeah nothing at all.


Yeah, according to this Cracked article, super-atheist Bill Maher, the guy who made the film "Religulous," is totally a "religious bigot" because questioning the veracity of any religion is ok, except that one (I'll give you a hint, it's not Scientology).  They go on to treat Maher's show as if it's Meet The Fucking Press and not a late night commentary program created and hosted by someone who is, at his core, a comedian. It then continues to equate the appearance of Brian the Dog on an in-episode segment of Maher's program on an episode of Family Guy, to some sort of serious barometer on transphobia and its implication on social policies. Yep, Family Guy that bastion of cultural and racial sensitivity.


Totally a perfect template for no social argument what so ever.
 
You can think that Bill Maher is awful.  How anyone reacts to what Bill Maher says and does are matters of opinion, and they will undoubtedly range between "he sucks so bad I'm gonna murder him" to something like, "ready for your fellatio Mr. Maher sir?" to which I am thinking the majority of them will fall somewhere in between. Additionally, the fact that this article contains the phrase "Oroborus of white male privilege" when speaking about Maher's efforts to legalize Marijuana, is like having a neon sign blazing out that your insulated life in a social value echo chamber might be impeding an ability to reach reasonable conclusions.  But that sign is on your back, and the one wearing it will never see it, which just punishes the rest of us.

But I am not here to defend Bill Maher (you can read that crazyness for yourself and you'll realize no one has to).  What I am here to do is continue the story of what happened next.  Cracked.com's reaction was first to start deleting comments, not for being obscene or profane, but for disagreeing with the tenents that the article bases its conclusions on.  Now this is something they have been long known to do, and they continue to delete comments that the author or editors don't like for political reasons.  What was surprising is that, in addition to deleting comments, Cracked.com actually blocked the IP addresses of the people who made the comments entirely.  Someone who made a comment that was deleted was simply met with a blank screen should they try to access the site's home page or any other page on the site.  I know this because when my desktop was being given the "oops something went wrong" message, the separate tablet I had running on the same network was able not only to refresh content on the site, but leave additional comments via a different username/login.  So now, if you incur the wrath of the arbiters of social justice on Cracked, you can expect to be kept completely out.  No dissent, no outside information.  That reminds me of something... what could it be..?




Cracked.com has seemed to have just skipped the next step of Full Mcintosh and went straight to Little Red Book territory and has moved house directly to The Left Pole.  For those unfamiliar, The Left Pole is a concept developed by the cognitive scientist and Harvard Professor, Steven Pinker.  To paraphrase, in that the earth has a north pole and south pole, and if you are at the south pole, then any direction moved away from that singular point is going to be ipso facto moving north.  At The Left Pole, the points and doctrine are so extreme and absolute, that any move away or critical analysis of them is considered a move to The Right Pole and therefore right-wing.  It doesn't matter what it is, but if you have any disagreements with anything they say or do in the name of their doctrine, you are ipso facto right-wing, wing-right, alt-right, far-right, old-right, right-right, or a member of the left-rights... and you'd have to be on Crack in order to think like that.


Remember when it was just cats, cats, cats cats cats...?  Cheeseburger anyone?


So after they did that, they eventually backed off and went back to just deleting comments.  But like an alcoholic who has that one drink and then a day or two later goes on a bender because of it, Cracked.com went completely down the rabbit hole, hit the bottom, bounced back up to apogee, screamed at everyone who happened to be standing around the general vicinity, and then fell back down.  This happened on March 1, 2017.


No caption.  Just frowny face.

Does any of that look funny, comedic, humorous, or even satirical?  I'll save you the trouble on clicking on any of that; No it's not. It's the Following:
-TRUMP BAAAAD! (like tell us something we don't know).
-Video about depression is depressing
-BE AFRAID!
-Look at me! I just got an undergraduate degree in Political Science!
-This should be on Live Journal but because I'm John Cheese they're gonna put it here.
-Not as funny as you'd think
-Thanks for telling me asshats are asshats... any jokes about them? Or are you actually expecting me to have not known this stuff beforehand? 
None, and I mean NONE of this was funny. None of this was written TO be funny.  It was just fucking sad.  Go see for yourself.  Cracked.com March 1, 2017.  The day Cracked.com's cancer metastasized.  

That "This should be on Live Journal" comment is something I actually posted on the Cracked.com article, but someone (and I won't say who) was just too ...emo, to let it stay there and deleted it.  That's the shit you do on your own YouTube channel, not what a commercial website valued at 39 MILLION DOLLARS that calls itself " America's Only Humor & Video Site Since 1958 should be doing.  I don't even delete comments here that are critical.  I use them as the genesis of conversations that might lead to a better understanding.  If you are not willing to compromise the conditions of your own environment to hear the thoughts of others who are nothing but divergent with you, then you are incapable of gaining value.

Anyone know what The Battle in Seattle was like?  I am sure a few people do.  Anyone remember being there?  I am sure a few people do.  You know what ruined it?  Those fuckers in the black hoods, and the ones with bricks breaking windows at McDonald's and doing it right next to the Union march (that had a permit by the way) so that the shock troops of the police would swoop in and just start kicking everyone's ass. You can argue that some were agent provocateurs, and they do exist. But I saw enough of them, and you see, they all aren't agent provocateurs, but artards who try to start violent revolution because they read Abby Hoffman or whatever a year or two ago.  All it takes is a hit from one or two of them to start the sad downward spiral into absolute bedlam where no one can get a single message across and everyone is just throwing shit at each other, figuratively or literally, it doesn't matter.  Result is the same.  Cracked.com is fast becoming that element.

So, that cred out of the way, I know bullshit when I see it.  The other O'Brien (the anorexic douche looking one), probably doesn't give a crap about any of this and just wants clicks.  I hope he gets them, but he won't be getting much from me.  The rest of them over there... yeah they drank the Kool-Aid by the gallon.  This will cause a pigeon-toe effect that will perhaps show an increase in their traffic during the short run, but in another 5 years when the cause du'decade isn't anything they can possibly relate to in time (seriously, you ever see an irrelevant brand suddenly catch up to relevancy?) he sure as hell won't be there and the Kool-Aid drinkers will be going down like the Titanic and saying "I just don't know what went wrong".  

 Whole new meaning now, isn't it?

Cracked.com has gone beyond an Oroborus of SJW insanity, it has become a Chimera of Left Pole absolutism, moving between the planes of fanatical reason and reasonable fanaticism.  Unaware of the direction of the winds that it, with bird-like movements, soars through.  Striking with its head and piercing its beak into current pop-culture, all mistaken for the body politic, hoping to inject positive social congruity, but it is an action which serves only to leave a septic bite that simply horrifies the tissue around it with which it sought to be relevant. And once it passes its attack, there is no progression of its will, because not but scars remain.  Scars which retain the memory of being that which absorbed the intensity of absolutist thought from such a sting, and a piercing from irrational anger, free from all reason. Cracked.com is naught but a terror bird, ready to do the like of its kin, and tethered to that, The Left Pole, which fewer and fewer dare approach, despite the siren song of true goodness which it represents.  True goodness.  For they are those whom it would try to eviscerate, forgetting that in the process it does but sheer the flesh from its own legs leaving naught but bare calcified stalks to support an inflated body.  They shall then turn their backs or at most give but the resistance of paper swords, when a true malignant blow comes to shatter them.



-

Monday, February 20, 2017

Viacom Viacan't: Regressive corporate strategies in entertainment media


This just in, Viacom invents time-machine, gets stuck in 2005. 

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish has announced that some Viacom programming, most notably so far The Daily Show and @Midnight, along with The Colbert Report and Tosh.suck, will no longer be available on streaming services such as Hulu.  Now, to someone who reached the zenith of their professional career in 1998, this kind of strategy makes sense because they never bothered to learn how cord cutters worked or what kind of market they will inevitably create.  The reason is that there was no such thing as a cord-cutter in 1998, and people still had subscriptions to AOL dialup internet service.  If 1998 were a person, they'd be old enough to drink in most countries, and could have voted in the last election.  It seems obvious that  applying the same corporate strategy from that era, or even from something like 2005 is a bad idea since they would be woefully outdated, but that doesn't usually occur to the entity that is the CEO (they're not people).  Enter the long suffering baby boomer executive who knows exactly how to market and design pull-strategies for other baby boomers sitting on folding chairs in Boca Raton just waiting around for their prostates to swell up to the size of a soccer ball and complain about how the waitress at Applebee's (who is working her way through medical school) is part of a super self-centered generation that "fails to adapt" while making their grand-kids check their email on their phone for them because they're "too old" to learn that new-fangled technology ...technology that's been around since 1971   Yet for some reason this same baby boomer executive is somehow surprised that the same strategies that work on boomers, somehow don't work on this product of society they've invented which they call "Millennials."



No, old TV guy, I am not going to go sign up at Time Warner or Comcast (two companies that have about the same approval rate as the Nazi Party, or worse, Electronic Arts), just so I can watch one show or another which I could easily pirate, and mostly pirate out of spite at this point.  Not only is this another confirmation of the downright uselessness of "The CEO" as a concept, but how they are now a downright malignancy to otherwise healthy and sustainable companies, dragging them down like the world's most expensive boat anchor.


Some could argue that the only function of a CEO is to make sure investors stay comfortable paying the corporation's allowance, which would only be a salient argument if their ability to run the place into the ground through complete ignoramical idiocy wasn't so palpable. When police make some little kid with cancer a member of the SWAT team for the day, it makes for great PR, but even they are smart enough to know he's just a mascot and shouldn't be given an AR-15. CEOs surround them with environments they feel comfortable in.  In modern America, your environment is a commodity to be purchased.  Don't have a lot of money?  Enjoy the one that comes with life in a trailer-park and a job that probably involved a blue vest, khaki pants, a time-clock, and the need to look at your odometer to see if your car needs an oil change, or make a decision between paying your phone bill and getting a haircut.  Have a shitload of money?  Congratulations, you will never ever have to know what it's like to wash your own dishes or wait for something to go on sale before you can buy it.  But if you are a CEO there is definitely one specific type of environment you are going to buy.  One where you will never be exposed to the word "no."  You'll love it in there.  Surrounded by people getting paid barely enough to make their rent who are going to be so terrified of putting you in a negative emotional state, that they'd skip their own funeral to make sure you have enough of that stationary you like.  Wearing even the most luxurious blinders still means you have every chance of getting t-boned when your confidence is a product of an echo chamber.  Don't believe me?  Do you think Jar Jar Binks would exist at all if The Phantom Menace was George Lucas's first or second movie?  Yeah, someone would have told him "no George, that's not a good idea," but now he bought himself an ecosystem where that will never ever happen.

The end result is that people in these outdated power positions end up having an outdated idea of how things work, and do not stay current with changes that effect their own industry.  This problem sustains itself because they live in a world where absolutely no one is going to make them address those shortcomings either.  They just stop knowing how stuff works because said "stuff" has significantly changed.  Stuff like TV viewing.  TV doesn't work the way it used to, even as recently as 5-10 years ago.  I don't need Animal Planet, the Home Shopping Network, or a whole bunch of other channels that air too much fake reality house hunting shows or make me watch even one second of any Guy Fieri or Rachel Ray (yuck).  If History Channel is going to make a show about alligator murder then I really don't need to pay for that, because it's not a product I really want to buy (although alligator tastes good by the way, if you want some I got a guy.  You want alligator meat I can get you alligator meat by 3oclock). 

Om nom nom

This isn't going to cost Viacom much money at all.  Remember this is the company that invented the concept of deliberately not paying freelancers being counted as a viable revenue stream.  On paper, from an accounting perspective, pulling programming is mostly innocuous.  Entertainment media isn't really a tangible commodity, so limiting it's availability isn't really going to drive the price up, that only works with Game of Thrones and Disney movies (come on home where your video's waiting).  But those same intangible assets are what are going to take the hit.  Goodwill (let's be clear, Viacom has no goodwill and doesn't need it, but the shows themselves, as individual brands have tons and more importantly their success depends on having it).  Properties like that are going to take a straight kick in the nards once people who pay for streaming services all of a sudden can't get what they previously could get.  It's not that something just isn't coming to streaming services, it's that something is being taken away (huge difference).  That kind of thing makes people angry, and angry people won't give a shit if pirating something hurts Summer Redstone's ability to buy another yacht to get to his bigger yacht on his private island which is made of even bigger yachts all tied together.

I couldn't find an image of a yacht going to an island made of bigger yachts tied together so...


There's a light, over at the Amazon place.
Thankfully Amazon seems to be doing the opposite of this.  Bolstered by the popularity of the New Top Gear I mean The Grand Tour, they have announced they really want to be the big fish when it comes to entertainment media streaming.  And you know what?  That's fine, that's great, you go for it.  I remember in the days of VHS you paid money to rent the things, so paying a small amount to watch something you want to watch (but now you don't even have to leave the house) isn't such a weird concept.  Jeez I have a premium Crunchyroll subscription and I'm only following 3 shows.  Don't be a friggin idiot you people, Crunchyroll Premium is a great value.  ...Hey Crunchyroll, open an NYC office and hire me, I'll make your dreams come true.  I filmed you guys for a!Pon in Tokyo and you don't owe me anything but, BUT, you can pretend that you do.  See how easy that was?  Yeah.  Just re-imagine that in the Rick Sanchez voice and it sounds way better.

Anyway, Amazon's streaming service is mostly cool.  But the downsidessesseses be that they rarely have things that Netflix doesn't have (High Man in the Castle isn't really that great) and their user interface could use a lot of work.  But those two things are fixable.  There's nothing that's fundamentally wrong in the DNA of Amazon's streaming that would make it impossible to like for the majority of consumers. If they have done anything it's that it has proven that perseverance and sticking to your guns can still be a viable business strategy even if every finance major from here to Bangalore is only capable of thinking a maximum of 5 quarters into the future.  Oh, and they use wage-slaves.  Lots and lots of wage-slaves.  But, that's not gonna stop you from logging in and ordering the next time you need new underpants or whatever Danganronpa figure you happen to really really like.



Did... did I have a point?  Oh yea, cord-cutters are not going to jump ship and sign up for Direct TV or Satan-Serve or whatever  just because any show or even every show is no longer available on streaming services.  No Optimum, I don't care if I can still remember every word from your TV ads from 10 years ago, it's not gonna happen).  Things like Network Decay/Channel Drift have become so prevalent and intense in their ability to devalue content providers, that the required willingness to pay among media consumers has withered and become a most fragile thing.

I mentioned it really recently that cord-cutters are heavy on certain demographic metrics, more-so than telecom/cable/satellite customers as a whole.  Than which means that certain types of properties are going to be more of a draw than others, certain advertisers are going to have more success, and they are mostly what old people would call "tech-savvy," you know, like your Aunt when she found out you knew enough html to change the font on your eBay listings and then thought you could repair her printer.  That means that finding the show online is going to happen one way or another, and you, Mr. Entertainment Company Executive gotta deal with it.  Mimeograph manufacturers got fucked by Xerox, that pesky horseless carriage put farriers out of business, and RCA isn't making many record players anymore, so if you want to succeed, put your ego in check, realize that the massive amounts of knowledge you've built is going to lose its value at the same rate as bananas go bad, and get your shit together and keep up with "the now" as they used to say. 

Of course not.

I think that much like Verizon lately realizing that not offering "unlimited" data is a bad idea, Viacom is going to look around in a few months and be all like "oops" and then you will be able to see The Daily Show on Hulu again.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Zelda Goes Paid DLC: A step forward or a step back?

Steps Backward; It's never a good thing.

The once unthinkable has happened.  For generations the people told themselves that such madness would never come into positions of power which would allow such sweeping changes to the fundamental dynamics of the world in which we live to be implemented by the personification of abject madness that seems naught but a relic of a bygone age.  I speak of course of the contamination of the Legend of Zelda universe by DLC via a Season Pass or as Nintendo calls it, an Expansion Pass ...which does not make it better.  My god, this is the worst thing to happen... oh, wait.

Hold on, don't cry and hide under your blankets kids, just remember this is NOT the worst thing to happen to Legend of Zelda
Before you were born, something way worse happened.

Unlike 98% of all anime, the Japanese video game industry actually does have to care about international markets quite a bit.  While throughout the world DLC and expansion packs have run the gamut from a lauded grand-slam of awesomeness, to crimes against humanity that need to be tried in The Hague, some long running institutional properties seemed to operate in a world separated from such things where "no, not that one, we don't do DLC with that one" was an explicitly understood unwritten rule.  Such separation is no more. 




How earth-shattering is this?  Well with even Forbes covering it, and with still-fresh memories of some significant blunders shaking up the industry in general, such as No Man's Sky, Duke Nukem Forever, Doom, and a few others, this Zelda release is going to be the focus of a lot of a lot of attention.  Video games are a big industry.  The thing is, DLC was all the rage in 2005, but that was a long time ago.  We have since learned that (like just about every technological advancement) it isn't some magic pixie-dust that you can just sprinkle on literally everything to create boundless improvement.  It only is a positive if other conditions are right, and Zelda Breath of the Wild is missing one component that usually helps DLC fit into the "value added" category of purchases and not the "why the hell am I going to waste my money on this?" category.  Multi-player mode.  Unless it's some incarnation of Smash Brothers, Link and Zelda should never ever be in anything that's "multiplayer," which is something that anyone who has actually played the games before would instantly realize so succinctly that it would just be one of those second-nature thoughts like "don't try to breath underwater" or something like that.  Deep down in your brain, you aren't seeing the DLC as an extra thing you buy, you are seeing it as part of a game you already bought that's now behind a pay-wall.  It's going to be the source of some consumer hostility, passive-aggressive or otherwise.  Somewhere in your head there's that little voice looking at Nintendo, saying "I thought we had a good thing going?" to which Nintendo turns around and, shrugs, and keeps giving an hand-job to its preferred stockholders.

That's not to say that DLC can't be successful without multi-player mode, but it is known to provide customers motivation to buy DLC, and so this game isn't going to have that, and will need to create a motivation by other means.  Those other means are going to have to be premium game design, a story you simply can't look away from, and a few bells and whistles so addictive that they become in-game staples for all future releases.  Or they could just throw in a Hot Coffee Mod and hope for the best now that Jack Thompson and Hillary Clinton are out of the limelight.

I wouldn't hold my breath of the wild for that last one.

So is this really a regression rather than Zelda joining many other more modern game franchises?  I think it is.  It hearkens back to a way of thinking that paid DLC can be shoehorned into anything and everything.  This was very prevelent between 10 and 12 years ago.  I am sure there was once an idea of paid DLC for Tetris where you get more long ones if you buy the "expansion pack."  We have since seen enough to know that there is a right way and a wrong way to do this, and  there are some red flags here.  Most notably that the "hard mode" is part of the expansion and not part of the regular release.  What could possibly be the reason for that?  If it were free DLC then ok, it means they missed a deadline or something, but making you pay for it would only be justifiable if "hard mode" meant that a completely new type of enemy would now be included in the game where it previously was not.  The second red flag is that they're including in-game clothing...  That's lazy.  I know that sounds like a standard, but when a company throws a a whatever on a character it seems like they are using a very cheap solution to compensate for a significant shortcoming.  It's like someone giving you a free iPhone in the hopes you don't notice that they crashed your car into a tree.  With Nintendo being tight lipped and only releasing a vague "please trust us" video, there is not much to go on.  Furthermore, there is always the looming all-encompassing peril of an incongruity of sensibilities between Japan and the rest of the world.  What might have Japanese consumers ready to go into "shut up and take my money" mode, might have virtually no effect in other markets around the world.  I think they're making the right choice to make the expansions more of the same thing as the game, you can never really get enough Hyrule, it will probably be a moderate success.  But with Nintendo's world-famous ability to piss away success like a freshmen on spring break in Mexico pisses out used Corona, they've probably pinned all their hopes on this one thing, that just will not be big enough to carry it all.  It might be  helpful new revenue stream, but in the grand scheme things it's like bringing a garden hose to a house fire.  Yes it will spray water on it, but without something fundamentally different, that house is burning down.


Would this face lie to you?
Of course not, he's not saying anything of substance at all.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Jan-Feb 2017 Recap and Leftovers

I can see clearly now... well not really but it's better.
So I've been having some eye procedures done.  In about 2006, my vision went from regular bad to borderline legally blind, and there was really not much to do about it until recently when some new technology was invented.  It isn't gonna fix anything but it will stabilize things to keep anything from getting worse and then maybe I can start wearing contact lenses (regular glasses don't fix what I have).  So being legally blind in one eye and having difficulty with the other, it's hard to read small print and impossible to drive at night.  The treatment I got leaves your vision blurry for a while, so that is why I haven't posted anything or been doing much keeping up with stuff. The effects have worn off and my vision having returned to what it was previously, I can get this going again, so lets see what's what.


I seeeeeeeee you



Nazi-Punching.
Mostly everyone knows the incident involving Richard Spencer at this point.  From Kotaku to to those busy-body hippie SJWs over at Cracked.com, everyone seems to be weighing in on this by asking the absolute wrong question:  "Is it ok to punch Nazis" "Is is right to punch Nazis" "Can we punch Nazis"   These are all the wrong questions, because terms like "ok" "right" and whatever the third question implies, all bring the matter of subjectivity to the situation.  Subjectivity in this matter means that if you ask 20 people you are going to get 20 different reasons for one of 2 answers. The question that should be asked is simple and explicit: "Is it legal to punch Nazis?" And in case you haven't guessed it, the answer is no, you can't just go up to someone and punch them even if they are espousing Nazism or something that is generally thought to be deplorable in ways both socially and morally.  Again, I think this is the 5th time I've had to bring up the Supreme Court case of National Socialists of America v Village of Skokie which affirms that equal protection under the law applies to everyone, even if they are supporting something you don't like. 


And what's not to like?

So yes, out in public, if Nazis are saying Nazi things in their little Nazi outfits, then physically assaulting them, or stealing their stuff, is indeed a crime.  No matter how deplorable the message of someone, it can not decriminalize your own actions.  Is it good to punch Nazis? Yeah.  Is it rewarding and a source of pride to punch Nazis?  Of course.  Is it legal?  ...no.  Lots of fun things aren't legal, so for better or worse their right to not get punched in the face legally supersedes your own butthurt. Deal with it. Like. An. Adult. For fucks sake. Very few people in the fandom seem to be approaching this with a true impartial logic based on American Case Law and Constitutional Values, but some have.  It's worth a read.  So is its sequel.




It's OK to be a grown adult and like Dragon Maid.
Dragon Maid is an anime.  It's what it sounds like, a dragon becomes a Maid (this is Japanese pop-culture "Maid" and not someone paid minimum wage to clean up your nasty ass hotel room after that conference you went to which had an open bar).  Now it sounds like a ridiculous premise, but our linchpin character in this series is a working adult.  No, not a high school student, no, not some magical girl from a different universe, and no, not some alien with superpowers.  She's a regular working stiff, like lots of other grown adults out there.  Yep, that's the game-changer.  If you're a grown adult and you watch a series about stuff happening to other grown adults, you might find it easy to relate to.

 
And....... you're hooked.

You might be saying to yourself, "yeah, but there's dragons and fantasy and other totally unrealistic things in there so how can you call yourself an adult and like it?" to which I would respond, "Is that Game of Thrones your talking about?" ...yeah, shut up.  Not for nothing but I'd feel better having Dragon Maid on in a room with children than Game of Thrones. 

HaHa.... boobs.


Disturbingly or not-so-disturbingly depending on your own personal feelings, this is a major reason why there are so many adult fans of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic.  Almost all the characters (especially the main characters) are very much adults.  They don't live with their parents, they are well out of school, they own their own businesses, they have employees, deadlines, some have the highest level of government security clearance, they go on diplomatic missions, one struggles with a clear case of schizophrenia, and one is a member of the military and also a member of the most elite flying squadron in the entire Air Force.  They are pretty much all late 20's if not older.  So people in their late 20's can relate to those characters. When combined with a well-written and technically well animated TV show, you've got something interesting, even if it did grow out of a terribly made 30 minute toy commercial from the 1980's.


Owns 3 boutiques, manages 10-20 employees, deals with a shady land lord, is a celebrity designer.
You don't do that when you're 13, you do it when you're 33.

There is no shortage of anime and manga made about and made for adults who work at companies, are home-makers, or creative professionals, but they often get overlooked for the traditionally popular genres of "ninjas" "mecca" "magical girl fill-in-the-blank-moon-card-captor-blah" "High School X" "my girlfriend is a vampire" or "boobs ...totally boobs"    ...that's a lot to deal with just there, so something about an overworked ad executive who finds a moment of Zen in a small park in Osaka one day during a sunset isn't gonna catch a lot of attention, but there are plenty of people who that would resonate with.  Enough to make it worth licensing?  No probably not.  But this segment does exist and it's only going to get bigger.

 HaHa.... boobs again.

That's fan-art by the way, not a scene from the actual show.


 Crunchyroll is having their own convention.
 Here: http://www.ign.com/articles/2017/02/09/crunchyroll-announces-its-own-anime-convention 
Slippery slope fellas.  It's sexy but not a money maker.  Get ready for some loss-leader deductions for 2017.  Also it's in California so ...meh.


http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2017/02/09/crunchyroll-announces-first-ever-crunchyroll-expo-convention
Can't you just feel that excitement.


Annoying Prince Trumperdink.
So there's this thing where you are supposed to write postcards to The White House and address them to "President Steve Bannon" and Trump gets mad and stuff.  I have no idea if that's really what happens but as a committed troll I am so gonna do that.  DON'T use your good anime postcards.  #1) you will wish you had kept them.  #2 They are going to go straight into the shredder with an anime image on them, think for a minute junior.  What I am gonna do, is I am going to go to Columbus Circle and get some post cards that have Trump Tower on them... that way maybe he will actually want to see them then right?  Either way, I went down to my local US Post Office and bought a sheet of these stamps to use.  Hopefully the symbolism will get through.

Man the 90's sucked for American Comics.


Anyway, I don't think he's doing a good job as President.  So I am going to voice my concerns.  If anyone wants to know specifics then we can have it in the comments section.


I'll be wearing my Xmas gift while I write replies.

 
When Life Gives You Lemons
So I am continuing to have everything implode all around me and it's just about 100% of my own doing.  Sure there's the occasional unexpected thing breaking or bad weather messing something up, but the shitstorm of my life is pretty much my fault at this point.

You ever get one of those realization moments when you know you should just throw in the towel?  Mine came over Christmas, when I was hoping to get some alone time to shape up and do the warrior under the waterfall thing you always see and get my shit together (not an easy task but still had to try).  Instead I got a depressing talk in the woods in an entire situation I had actually convinced myself a few weeks prior I was going to be able to avoid.  I always play along but somewhere in the background I heard the game-ending buzzer go off and looking at the scoreboard I was way behind.  Did I feel the need to get some overtime and make things right and finally stop being so terrible?  Yes.  Was it enough to make me do anything?  No, clinical depression is kind of like a boat anchor that keeps you from doing anything for an irrational and indistinct fear you're just going to make it worse or just continue the parade of fail that has become your life.  Hell, my house could be on fire right now (from the lemons) and I probably wouldn't even bother getting up and leaving. I'd just take the batteries out of the smoke detectors so they would stop making that annoying sound.

It's not that I want to call it quits either.  But looking at the wall of insurmountable uncertainty, one can simply freeze in a mild panic which metastasizes into a process of thought which becomes as second-nature as breathing or blinking.  Then you just live there hoping for change from outward force, which never comes.

So for all of you people out there who don't like me, take solace in the fact that I am doing way worse than you and will probably stay that way.

Third time's the charm maybe...


Do you smell that?
Ramen is oft-maligned as cheap, un-creative, yuck-food that only college students and Naruto eat on a regular basis.   Sure some big cities have actual Ramen shops where you can get the real deal, but they tend to be crowded and more expensive than they should be.  To that end, I now give you a recipe that anyone can make anywhere in America that will rival the best corner dives of Tokyo.


 Om nom nom


How to make TanTanMen:
You will need:
1 brick of cheap-ass Maruchan or Nissin ramen (throw away that soup packet.  Never use the soup packet).
Ground Pork (cheat code; Ground turkey works fine, AND so does sliced roast beef from the deli if you want to save time, but if you use roast beef you still have to cook it all the way through in the pan until it gets all nice and shriveled).
Assorted veggies (whatever you want really.  Recommendations; show-peas, bean sprouts, thin sliced carrots... never broccoli).
Half an onion finely chopped.
Mashed garlic (boiling it before-hand makes it very easy to use.  Smooshes up just like toothpaste).
Worcestershire sauce
Soy Sauce (dark, like San-J Tamari)
Pepper flakes (pepperoncini like they have at the pizza place works just fine)
Oil (olive or sesame ...or whatever, just not 40weight)
Hot sauce (Louisiana red works great.  So does sriracha but that stuff can be expensive).
Beef bullion cube or beef broth
Mirin
Big bowl
Hot water

OK so oil up a frying pan and start cooking your meat, pepper flakes, and onion (leave out the garlic for now).  We will be intentionally over-cooking it so just make sure you don't burn things.  We are drying out the meat so it can absorb the flavorful soup base later.  At the same time put the brick of ramen in your bowl and start your kettle or boil some water.  Once it's boiling, pour it on top of the noodles and they'll soften up after a few minutes (they're already cooked, remember).
While the meat is cooking, add worcestershire and soy sauce.  Add a bit more than you think you need since we're going to make a soup out of this. 
Once the meat is dried out, add veggies (we don't want to overcook those), and garlic and mirin to taste.
Drain the ramen.
Pour the whole contents of the pan on top of the ramen and then add hot water, a third of the bullion cube, and hot sauce to spice it up.  Top w/ sriracha if you really like hot stuff.  Throw a shot of sake or vodka into the soup  and it will really help the flavor.
Eat the thing.


1 pan, a few minutes, and cheap eats that don't suck.

If you're looking to cut salt, ditch the hot-sauce for more dried pepper flakes and just use worcestershire, with a low-salt beef broth.
If you're looking to cut calories, leave out the ramen itself (I know, blasphemy), and replace it with shredded cabbage.  It's not the same, but it's nice and filling with way less carbs.
If you don't like spicy (I know, blasphemy), then swap out the pepper flakes for something like mushrooms or sweet potato or whatever, and use your favorite BBQ sauce, a teaspoon of molasses, and a shot of whiskey along with the water and soup stock (if you are using beef not pork, then use a shot of Tequila).  I've never tried that but it sounds like it would be pretty boss.

Next time I'll show you how to make your own teriyaki come out just like it does at the restaurants because you know you're doing it wrong.


Remember the Alamo
If you live near an Alamo Drafthouse, they are still celebrating the works of Hayao Miyazaki with cinematic screenings.  Most of the major hits are on the menu like Totoro, Sen/Spirited Away, Nausicaa, Mononoke, and I think some locations have Ponyo.  Conspicuously absent seems to be Porco Rosso for some reason. Keeping kosher I guess?

Don't worry, we still love ya you glorious fat bastard..

The Alamo Drafthouse is really movie-going as it ought to be.  And I will sure as hell be bringing my trusted cell jammer with extended battery life for the shows I have tickets to.  Seriously as I've said before, some people just don't know how to behave in public.  So you still have time in some places.  See it before your eyesight goes, it might happen faster than you think.