Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Lucha Libre: Mexican Pulp

My week long Twitter ban is up, and boy do I have some shit to impart to you guys! So okay, this requires a bit of background. I'm GM'ing an AD&D campaign with Moldvay rules, and I just lost half the readers, but keep with me for a minute here. This has led me to want to get into other games systems, specifically The Hero System, thanks to Greg and Allen at Dawn Somewhere recounting their adventures using this RPG system in The Burland Campaign. So I started digging and found out that The Hero System is a little bit more complex than I'd originally thought. I also found out that in 5th edition they came out with a supplement specifically designed around Luchadores. 

I don't know what it is, but I've always loved the concept of the Luchadore. The mysterious masked wrestler. I never knew much about the history or the actual lore or the Mexican culture around luchadores, but I sure as fuck knew that their masks were cool as shit and they could work a ring like nobody's business. I used to watch the WCW back in the day (yes I'm an old man), and Rey Mysterio Jr. was one of my favorite wrestlers. So when I saw the Lucha Libre Hero Supplement, I couldn't resist, and digging around in this thing I got one of the most shocking history lessons in my life.

Well, not "shocking" in the sense of "oh my god how could they do this," but "shocking" in the sense of "oh my god how did I not know about this before now?" In the supplement they spend a fair amount of loving time recounting the general history of Lucha Libre, and it's clear the dudes who wrote this supplement are in total love with this cultural phenomenon from south of the border. I even took a bit of time to check their history independently, and from what I can gather without reading actual history books it checks out. So what did they reveal?

Oh, my dudes.

This is the granddaddy Mexican pulp treasure trove.

So it started out as actual wrestling in the classical sense. Two guys get into a ring and grapple around with one another until someone wins. Then it developed into a kind of soap opera/stage play kind of thing, with white hats and black hats, basically what we have with American professional wrestling, only most people were wearing masks. But then the filmmakers got involved, and from there it evolved ("devolved" is too negative a word to use here) into a grab-bag free-for-all of every kind of wild bullshit imaginable. 

It started out small, with a few people making personally funded movies a la Night of the Living Dead, with no budget but lots of heart and soul. They were also trying to capitalize on the popularity of Lucha Libre at the time, and good on them for seeing a market and playing to it. But then, with the popularity in Mexico of movies like Dracula, some weird shit started getting added to the mix, and these masked men became folk heroes akin to John Wayne, Wyatt Earp, or Daniel Boone, with the great El Santo (The Saint) being at the top of the pile.

And they threw literally everything they could think of at these guys. They were wrestlers in their day jobs, but by night they kept the masks they wrestled in and fought crime, or supernatural threats to the populace, or mad scientists, or fucking space aliens. It was all over the place. They took a bunch of different genres, from scifi, to horror, to noir, to crime drama, to [insert genre here], and just kind of jammed Mexican wrestlers into them.

And I don't know about you guys, but this sounds like some of the coolest shit in the world to me. The big draw here was that these guys weren't chosen by destiny. They weren't Slayers, or The Chosen One, or magically gifted with supernatural powers to slaughter evil.

They were regular dudes.

Like El Santo.

El Santo has kind of become a folk hero in Mexico, to the point of having a statue of him built in his home town. But he wasn't supernaturally strong, or super fast, or really super anything except super determined to punish evil and protect people. Be it spies, mafia hitmen, vampires, mummies, zombies, mad scientists, whatever, these guys were the physical manifestation of everything good, virtuous, and manly about Mexican culture, and they were here to kick evil in the dick despite not having any actual superpowers. They got by on their strength, tenacity, virtue, and willingness to help people, not some ring of power or [insert power trope from American comics here]. 

They were just regular dudes standing up to protect innocent people from the forces of evil.

Now I should mention that I'm insanely new to this. I'm just going on what I've read in the Lucha Libre Hero book and some independent research mostly via wikipedia articles. But I have no real reason to distrust their veracity, so I am, of course, extremely excited about this. And I definitely had to bring this treasure trove of absolute pulp weirdness to the PulpRev's attention.

I realize that some may already know more than me, but bear with me while I sperg out about that new thing I learned that's super fucking cool. Add in to the discussion, please. More information is always a plus in these situations. But the thing that I wanted to get into here is the pulp aspect of these stories.

And by "pulp aspect" I mean that pulp ethos that we all jaw on about at length anytime we can get someone who'll let us talk their ear off about it. The total, complete, batshit insane, "anything goes" style of story. 

Why would Mexican wrestlers be fighting vampires?

My friend, a better question would be this: Why wouldn't they?

Same goes with any of the other villains I've listed, and more. There is literally no reason to have Mexican wrestlers and not have them fight all kinds of wild shit while just being regular guys.

For example, in the one (1) movie in this genre that I've watched, which was the shitty dubbed version of El Santo v Las Mujeres Vampiro, there's an entire scene where he gets into a legit, no shit wrestling match with a werewolf(?). The werewolf assumes the identity of El Santo's actual opponent, and proceeds to attempt to kill El Santo in the ring until Santo unmasks him and the authorities intervene. Santo doesn't have super strength, he's just some guy. An athlete. A wrestler determined to protect people from these hellspawned fiends. 

It gives his heroism that much more impact because he isn't some supernaturally badass vampire hunter. He's El Santo, the Mexican Wrestler/Part Time Superhero. Kind of like The Punisher, minus all the guns and slick tech and PTSD. Like if Punisher had to wrestle all his enemies into submission. 

I realize that I'm presenting this badly, but it's a combination of drunkenness and just finding out about this and being so monumentally excited about it. But this kind of thing seems to be right up the PulpRev's alley.

We talk a lot about the false distinctions between genres, and how it's perfectly okay to mash fantasy and scifi together to create an interesting setting or story, and here I find out that the Mexicans have been doing that for damn near a century! It makes me wish I'd gotten into this thing a lot sooner, and I think that there are a lot of lessons we can take from the Lucha Libre films. They weren't shy about any of this, and it's given me a lot of ideas for stories as well as tabletop campaigns. 

But I truly do think we can learn a lot from the Mexican filmmakers of days gone by, and use this influence to improve our own craft. These folk tales of strong, manly, masked gentlemen protecting the weak and helpless because, well, that's just what they do is incredibly fertile ground for the PulpRev to plant story seeds in. 

So I hope you'll join me on this journey of exploration into Mexico's Lucha Libre phenomenon, because there's a lot there to work with, and a lot of story ideas to be had. A few stories in the PulpRev Sampler follow this template, perhaps unknowingly, and it's entirely possible that we could revive the glory days of Lucha Libre and bring it to an American audience for whom it never really caught on, for one reason or another. There is infinite potential here for stories of regular guys doing good because it's what they're supposed to do, and I think it'd be worth it to take a look at what our friends to the south have been doing for the past century.

So if you're an indie horror film buff, or a wrestling fan, or just someone who likes stories about regular dudes vanquishing evil, there's a metric shit ton of material here to draw from. Not just the El Santo flicks, which are fairly numerous because this guy is basically Mexico's Elvis, but the other wrestlers in the genre. 

I'm not saying we need to start writing the most batshit insane adventure stories imaginable about Mexican wrestlers...

But I am saying that we could do far worse than writing the most batshit insane adventure stories imaginable about Mexican wrestlers. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

On ToonKriticy2k

Image from HorseNews via KiwiFarms, made by Moozua
This isn't exactly something I thought I'd ever have to do, but given that I've been in collaborative YouTube videos with this guy, as well as considered him a friend until now, I figure that I need to say something. And I wouldn't be saying something unless I was sure it was legitimate, and I think it is. I'm not a #MeToo bandwagoner, and my default stance is skepticism always, so when I heard that my friend Zak a.k.a. ToonKriticy2k was being accused of grooming a minor, I didn't want to believe it.

A friend linked me a video made by my buddy Vida, and after watching it I decided to review his evidence. These allegations are very serious, after all. 

Vida's video is here because I can't find it on the embed feature.

I was also linked to this leaked skype call (google drive upload of the call is here), which I read while reviewing the HorseNews article and the KiwiFarms thread. Going over all of this stuff is rough. I may not have talked to the guy in a few months, but I still considered him a friend and I had a very hard time believing all this. However, when people are bringing him into a skype call in which he all but says he's a pedo and knew it was wrong, as well as dropping chat logs of the grooming of the underage girl, I find these allegations incredibly hard to dismiss.

It would take a lot of work to doctor 500 screenshots just to get at some brony on YouTube and ruin his reputation, and people usually don't make false police reports in my experience. What's more, one of the people in that call, Josh Scorcher, is a marine, and engaging in illegal activity of that nature while in the military would ruin him. I'm no lawyer, or military lawyer, but I can imagine the penalties would be steep. After reviewing all the evidence I'm forced to conclude that yes, this did indeed happen. And I'm not just basing this off the stuff in the HorseNews article or KiwiFarms thread. In the call, he all but comes out and says, "I'm guilty."

The people in the call give him 24 hours from then to turn himself in, and then they're making a police report, which hopefully they've done. I also have it on good authority that a report has already been made to the FBI. So in reality, if these people have followed through on their promises and my friend has told me the truth (and I have no reason to doubt them), then what needs to be done has been done and the police should be knocking on his door very soon.

And to that I say, "Good." 

I'm glad he's going down for this. I can forgive a lot of shit, up to and including pedophilic impulses if and only if the person is steadfastly avoiding acting on them and attempting to seek help via therapy or some other means. But this, actually grooming a 14 year old via erotic roleplay over skype, knowing that it's both morally reprehensible and illegal, and trying to justify it with the laughable excuse of, "The age of consent in the Philippines (where the victim lives) is 12!" is beyond the pale.

So I've done what I can to learn all the facts here, and about the only thing I haven't done is read the 500-screencap-long chat between him and this girl because I'm not interested in reading erotic role-playing between an adult and a minor. You can find pretty much everything you need in either the HorseNews article or the KiwiFarms thread. I'm convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has in fact done this thing, and as such I'm cutting ties with him. 

I've already unfollowed him on all social media he and I have a presence on, as well as removed him from my skype contacts. If I never hear from the fucker again it'll be too soon. I know I haven't been involved in the horse fandom for a couple of years, or even watched recent seasons of the show or the movies they've put out in that time, but I did work with this guy and used to talk to him reasonably frequently. This is a horrible crime he's committed, and it's something that gets you on my personal shit list instantly.

You do not mess with children. 

I don't give a fuck what the age of consent in the Philippines says.

And according to other allegations this isn't even the first time he's done this, which after listening to that leaked skype call and reading some of those leaked chat logs becomes easier to believe by the second. All anyone can do now is cut contact, condemn, and trust law enforcement to do their fucking job. So that's what I'm doing here, and making it as public as possible so that anyone who cares to ask knows where I stand on this. 

Fuck this asshole and everything about him. 

I can only hope that the victim is okay, and be glad that she got away from him before he was able to make good on those suggestions of getting her alone in a hotel room at a convention. If he's found guilty, which he should be if all of this evidence is genuine, may he rot in prison, or worse. 

It's still wild to me, though. You think you know somebody. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The JimFear138 Podcast Ep. 77 ft. Daddy Warpig

Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the podcast! This time Daddy Warpig joins us to talk about Quantum Mortis, Vox Day and Ethan Van Sciver, my recent contact with a supposedly famous author, and the ability to take criticism in stride. Hope you guys enjoy, and thanks to DW for coming on the show again!

MP3 Download of this episode:

EVS vs Vox Day from ComicArtistPros Secrets (EVS' YT channel):

Daddy Warpig on Twitter:

Daddy Warpig's website:

Daddy Warpig on Gab:

Geek Gab on YouTube:

Steemit & The PulpRev with Ben Cheah:

Social Media Dump:













Opening Music:
Honey Bee by Kevin Macleod:
Honey Bee Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

So This Is Funny

Well gang, I'm in twitter jail. And looking back on it, I only wonder why it didn't happen sooner. Apparently that post I released yesterday really ticked some people off, and I'm guessing that when I got tired of dealing with 40 people insulting me and finally called one of them what he was, the whiny little shitheel couldn't handle it and reported me. So in the interest of being up front and letting you guys know what's up in the coming week, I'm releasing this post. Here's the tweet they made me delete, as well as the consequences, screencapped by yours truly.

And you're reading that right, that is a week long ban from tweeting, retweeting, and even liking other people's tweets. The most I can do is send DM's to followers and groups I'm apart of. So when I'm not active on twitter this week, you'll know why. I'll probably move over to Gab, and try and get some other work done. This is nothing more than a mild inconvenience, and personally I think it's pretty funny.

Needless to say I regret nothing and am not sorry. Axebane was acting like a retarded faggot white knight, so I called it like I saw it. 

It should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway, I in no way want anyone to contact him under any circumstances. Just leave the poor guy alone. He probably had a heart attack after someone called him what he was. I also can't prove that he was the one who reported me, or if I was nabbed by one of twitter's algorithms. So I'm just gonna let that one lie, and I hope all of you do as well. 

Axebane is just some random dickhead on the internet, after all. 

But really, what is Twitter coming to when you can't even call a retarded faggot white knight a retarded faggot white knight anymore? 

Anyway, the podcast with Daddy Warpig will be up later tonight, and the D&D session from last weekend should be up in a couple of days. See my twitter peeps in a week when my ban(?) is over. I guess I could make an alternate account and be back on, but that sounds like work, so I'll just take any brain farts I have to Gab, and spend the rest of my time working. 

Catch y'all in 7 days!

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Myth of the Exclusionary Nerd

I'm sure you've all heard the stories. You can probably quote them by rote at this point. After all, they get shoved in our face so very often, and yet one thing they all have in common is this: Zero Evidence. For those of you wondering what I'm talking about, it's this myth that's circulated in feminist circles about how men are supposedly exclusionary to women. That we guys are gatekeeping our own hobbies, and trying to keep women out. From the stories we hear this happens everywhere in the nerd hobbies. Comics, tabletop, video games, you name it. All of these hobbies and more are supposedly just infested with awful men that hate women and don't want them to have any fun.

This is, of course, retarded on its face.

I've been sitting on this post for a while, but finally decided to write it when I saw this on Twitter today.

[archive link to the tweet in question]

This utterly ludicrous statement was made by the creative director of Dungeons & Dragons. The whole entire franchise. He also co-created the bloated abomination that is 5th ed., so now we all know who to thank for that. But before I get into this I'd just like to make sure that he understands one thing, should he ever read this post.

Much like a TV show can't decide who does or doesn't tune in, you don't get to decide who does or doesn't buy your product. You have no power in this situation. I can go to any number of online stores and buy a copy of 5th ed. and be playing it with my friends tomorrow, and there's quite literally nothing you could do to stop me. I won't, because as I said 5th ed. is a bloated monstrosity, and I also don't believe in encouraging people who want to put actual serious barriers to entry (such as a series of books you require to play the game all priced at $40 each), or giving money to people who so obviously hate me. I'll go play Moldvay, or AD&D, or GURPS, or ACKS, or Traveller, or Gamma World, or Hero System, or Vampire The Masquerade, or even Children of the Sun. There are about 500 or so other systems I could be playing besides 5th ed., and I would encourage others to look into those instead of giving Wizards of the Coast and Mike Mearls your money. But he needs to understand that he can't fire customers, and attempting to attack his customer base will only shrink the amount of people willing to put food on his table and pay his bills via buying his products, and if I were running WOTC right now he would issue a very public apology, delete that tweet, and watch his ass because it would be grass should that ever happen again. You don't insult your customers. That is a firing offense in literally every other industry. 

There's also the tiny little matter of WOTC actually passively protecting pedophiles in their Magic: The Gathering judge community until the fan outrage became so loud they were forced to respond and institute background checks on judges and refuse to work with any organization that actively hired sex criminals, but hey, that's fiddly little bullshit, right?

Stop giving WOTC your money. I'm deadly serious.

But anyway, my personal hate-boner for WOTC aside, let's get on with this post here. According to this fucking moron, the narrative repeats. The thing that really gets me is the inherent sexism in his statement. Apparently, according to Fuckstick up there, complex rules and lore are exclusionary, and women can't understand them. Therefore he has to fix the game by dumbing it down to women's level, and the guys who are mad about the dilution of their game aren't mad because everything they liked about the game is changed, they're mad because they hate women.


Remember, this is all according to this idiot. Now, on the other hand, and what I think is more likely, is that all of this is made up. I'd put the number of made up accounts at 99.95%. It's not outside the realm of possibility that this has happened a few times, but with nowhere near the frequency that these people claim. Remember, as the "Feminist 40K" mods have stated themselves, flat out admitting to it on more than one occasion, they assume there is a problem rather than looking to see if the problem is actually there or not. And given that there are women out there who can and have lied about being raped to get out of cab fare (no, I'm not bullshitting you), it's perfectly reasonable to assume that the vast majority of these complaints are either made up from whole cloth, or come from out-of-context or misinterpreted social interactions. 

Unfortunately, and this really, truly is unfortunate, we don't have any data to prove anything. There have been no studies done on this by reputable organizations such as Pew, and whenever these people bring these complaints and stories, they never, ever have evidence of such. You'd think they would at least have audio, if not audio and video, given that damn near everyone has a high-definition camera and microphone in their pockets. But no, they expect you to just "Listen & Believe". Take what they say on faith.

Social justice is, after all, a religion to these people. They take so much on faith, they cannot comprehend a world where someone would actually want them to prove the bullshit they spew rather than just believing them outright. I mean, there are wammen to respek! We don't have time for things like methodological study, due process, or critical thinking! Just believe them, and then we'll start burning witches and tearing down everything you hold dear! Don't you want that? Because you're a misogynist if you don't!

Well, in lieu of actual evidence, all we really have to go on is what these people call "lived experiences". This basically means we listen to people who have been there, because they exist in that hobby/fandom/job/whatever and therefore are more qualified than average Joe off the street to speak incredibly broadly about it for some reason. Well, I've been here since I was a child, so my lived experience must add up to a shit ton of authority at this point. Tabletop is more recent, but about twelve or fifteen years of being in that hobby should count for something. 

I've met a lot of nerds in my day. I am one, they are my people. They're the people I almost exclusively hang out with because I find the discussions there more interesting. I don't hang out with people who talk sports because I find sports incredibly boring, but if those people are talking scifi, fantasy, tabletop, comics, video games, etc. I'll be right at home among them, because they're speaking my language and talking about things I'm interested in. I must have met or been tangentially acquainted with about a thousand nerds over the course of my life. 

Post-puberty, not a single one was even mildly hostile to women because they were women.

In fact, we actively tried to interest women in our hobbies, and the ones who were interested were treated like queens. They were invited to D&D games (and some even showed up), to get loaded and watch movies or anime, whatever nerd shit we were doing, the more women that were interested in it, the better. Nowadays I don't care so much, but when you're a horny teenager swimming in hormones who gets weird looks because he's reading D&D manuals at the lunch table, the approval of the opposite sex means a lot. So finding women who were interested in things like D&D was like wandering through the forest and stumbling upon a unicorn out of nowhere.

It's no surprise to anyone that women just generally aren't interested in games where you go into dungeons and bash goblins around for their meager gold coins. Or wargames like Warhammer 40K. Most of Dungeons & Dragons, or 40K, or Warhammer Fantasy, or other wargames and TTRPG's, is rolling dice until monsters fall down and die. Of course there are also other aspects to the game like shopping and roleplaying interactions with non-player characters, but the meat of the game is generally wandering through dungeons and slaughtering monsters. More so with wargames than with RPG's, but the point still stands. The name of the game that started all this is Dungeons & Dragons, after all. Sort of implies that there will be a fair amount of dungeoneering and dragon fighting in this game. And those are things that women tend not to be very interested in.

And it has nothing to do with sexism. As I said, women who want in on these things have always, in my lived experience, been welcomed with open arms and encouraged by the male players who were already there. I have been to comic shops, game stores, GW stores, and more all across my long years of being a nerd, and not once in my life have I seen some guy give some chick shit because she had a vagina. 

Not once.

Matter of fact, the exact opposite always happens. If a woman shows interest, the guys treat her just like they'd treat a guy who showed interest. They show her the game, what she'd need to get started, how the rules work, and offer to play a starter game with her to show how the mechanics work in practice. Whether it's Magic, D&D, or 40K, this is how it goes every time, because the people who exist in these hobbies understand that while they may be fairly popular, they're also pretty niche, so having more people interested who know what they're doing means having more people to play with, which means more fun for everyone. And for guys who are historically and stereotypically as bad with the opposite sex as nerds, it is completely counter-intuitive for them to treat women who actually want to be around them like shit. Most of these guys couldn't be mean to a woman if they wanted to.

A good personal example of this I have is from my time in college. Turned out there was a GW store a few miles from the school, and they were open on the days I had classes, so I would go to class, then drag my backpack full of models, paint, and brushes into the Games Workshop store and hang out for hours at a time and paint my armies. The manager at the time was a five-foot-nothing Asian woman, and she knew more about the lore and rules than most of the guys. She was treated perfectly fine by all of the regulars who knew this game and its lore inside out. She was also fucking obsessed with Orks. The big green fungus monkeys that reproduce via space spores and eat each others' heads off. Of course she, like everyone else including myself, lamented that the Sisters of Battle get no love from GW, but she didn't want to play them. She wanted to play Orks, and what's more she wanted to make an entire Halloween-themed orange and black army of the bastards. She could also fuck you up on the tabletop.

Now I don't know if you've ever taken a look inside a 40K rulebook, but I have, several times. Lemme give you a quick and dirty. If you buy one of the beginner boxes it comes with two small armies from different factions, a general rulebook, and a book with the different scenarios you can play to tell the story of what happens in that box (they're usually structured around some kind of story that adds to the lore of the game). The rulebook is single-spaced, double (sometimes triple) columned, with incredibly small print. It's 156 pages long. Of course there are plenty of pictures and diagrams, but the majority of this book is taken up by tiny text, and depending on how you play you need to be generally familiar with all of it. Furthermore, there are special rules for each faction (Orks, Space Marines, Imperial Guard, Eldar, etc) that each have their own books, and you need to be familiar with those as well. 

That manager damn near had the entire book memorized, and could rattle off rules from the top of her head. She was well respected, and put her heart and soul into running that store as efficiently as possible to bring in new customers. It was a fun time. 

But very rarely, at least while I was frequenting the place, did we have women come into the store. When it did happen they were usually with male friends, or their boyfriends or husbands, or they would be little girls with their parents shopping for Christmas presents and the like. When they were interested at all, they would be interested in the Lord of the Rings models, rather than the hardened militarism of the Guard or the Space Marines, or the tentacle-faced horrors of Chaos, or the gribbly nonsense of the Tyranids, or the soccer-hooligan-esque antics of the Orks. 40K is literally a game about neverending, grimdark warfare where nobody is in the right, and the only ones that are good by human standards are completely immoral space nazis that want to genocide all the aliens, because the aliens want to genocide all of them. 

It's just not something that a lot of chicks are into. The male players aren't keeping them out, I can attest to that personally. Hell, the guys in the store acted as unpaid salesmen to potential female customers more than once while I was painting my models or thumbing through a rulebook. There was only one GW employee there at a time most days, and occasionally it got pretty busy. They were mostly trying to just keep the people in the store until the manager could get to them, asking them if they had any experience, talking shop, discussing lore, the books, all that stuff, but the guys in the store helped her make more than one sale (I know this because I was one of those "more than one" sales). 

Anyway, point is, women are perfectly capable of understanding complex rules and lore, and the rules and lore don't need to be changed to accommodate women at the expense of the men who already like it the way it is. We've proven that the "Wider Audience Appeal™" is a complete myth. It does not exist. Marvel tried this for over 5 years. They hired a bunch of diverse people to write diverse comics to appeal to a "Wider Audience™" and managed to run their company so thoroughly into the ground that they've almost taken the US comics industry with them. The people they were marketing towards were simply not a sustainable market, because they were not interested and weren't showing up to buy comics. And the comics were on the shelves, we know this from testimonials from shop owners who had to throw them away or bargain bin them and take a loss because they weren't selling. The "Wider Audience™" is as much a myth as the Exclusionary Nerd™. Literally nobody was stopping these people from buying these comics. They just didn't want to.

The women that are into 40K are already playing and collecting, and the women who would get into it but don't know will find their way around one way or another. Changing the hobby to be more "inclusive" of women is just going to kill it, and if anyone is pushing this as an objective that GW should be pursuing it should be assumed that killing the hobby is their goal. We have objective proof at this point that appealing to social justice principles does not work, it alienates your regulars and it doesn't pull in the people you're condescending to. Sorry to say, but a new Sister of Battle codex and model lineup won't bring them in, nor will changing the lore. This will kill the hobby dead. I don't mean a new Sisters Codex. Honestly that would probably make GW some cash and get people buying the Sisters models again (especially if they made some tentative explorations into giving them plastic). But changing the lore and rules absolutely will kill the hobby, which is probably why GW doesn't do it. They may be one of the physical manifestations of corporate evil on planet earth, but they're also not stupid. 

So having observed this pattern in certain women wherein they will lie for attention and victim points, I think it is safe to say that this simply does not happen outside of a few isolated incidents, and the people those isolated incidents happen to need to find better friends and game shops. What I think is actually happening is that these guys are trying to figure out where these gals are with regards to lore and rules knowledge, so they can fill in any gaps that might exist in order to better facilitate gameplay or enjoyment of the medium in question. Comics, card games, tabletop, whatever. It's no secret that primarily men built these industries and hobbies, and they're to this day primarily enjoyed by men.

Given this, as well as the fact that stereotypes exist for a reason, unless a woman shows up with a full deck(s), a fleshed out character sheet and the rulebooks, or her own painted army, they're going to assume she's some level of newbie. And there's nothing wrong with that, because 9.95 times out of ten, they're doing this because if she is a newbie, they want to help her become adept as soon as possible. As I said earlier, the more people playing, the more fun everyone has, and the vast majority of nerds agree with this.

The problem comes in when these women expect to be treated deferentially, they expect everything to be changed for them, they expect everyone to worship the ground they walk on. This is, quite simply, not how things work. In these hobbies you show your ability to hang by knowledge about the setting or system. If you're playing Magic: The Gathering, and you're sufficiently able to manipulate the rules such that you completely fucking destroy anyone of any deck style that you go up against, you're going to get more respect than the guy who gets wrecked every game but is happy because he's just playing to have fun. Simply having a vagina, sorry to say ladies, does not qualify you to be respected in nerd circles, nor does the fawning adoration of sweaty virgins give you lease to start changing things to suit you. 

You need to learn your place, just like the rest of us did. I knew dick all about the 40K game when I walked into that GW shop. I listened to the friendly, more experienced people and they helped me understand the mechanics, why there were so many dice I had to roll, and the advantages and disadvantages to each army and system generation. So really what I think is happening here is that these guys are trying to be helpful and the women assume that they're treating her like she's stupid.

It's either a complete fabrication or a misinterpretation of the social dynamics of an unfamiliar place and group. This actually happens fairly frequently across all kinds of social groups, and the technical term for it is called a "faux-pas". Just a silly mistake someone made because they don't understand the group they're trying to gain entry to. There's nothing wrong with making a faux-pas or two so long as you actively work to become better versed in the thing you're trying to understand and be apart of. Nerds who dig comics and tabletop are also far more friendly about faux-pas if they know that you don't know a lot about the subject matter. 

"Fake it till you make it" doesn't apply here, because you can't fake knowing a rule set that you've never encountered before. You absolutely can not fake damn near 40 years of lore (or more, depending on the thing in question). The best approach is to just be okay with making mistakes, and listen when someone corrects you. Nobody knows all the rules, nobody knows all the lore. Just be cool, and everyone around you will be as well.

Of course I should mention that this applies to an incredibly small subset of women. The vast majority of women into nerdy stuff I've met in my life have been totally cool about everything, and usually they're just as into it as the guys are. But we're talking about a subset of a subset of a subset of a population. Allow me to get sociological for a moment.

You have all women. Then you have women who might be interested in nerd shit. Then you have the women who might be interested in nerd shit that actually go out and get into nerd shit. Then you have the women who stick around. Then you have the women who stick around and don't act cool, but instead try to turn it into their own little kingdom where they can do whatever they want. Given the numbers that we're working with (mostly unknown, but we can make educated guesses in certain directions EXTREMELY TENTATIVELY), this means that the amount of women into nerd shit who are actually shrill harpies with daddy issues is relatively small. We're talking maybe 2 or 3 out of 40, if I had to make an extremely tentative guess. I've been apart of a bunch of groups into a lot of shit and have only met one personally. This is over about 20 or so years.

However, one of the things about social media is that it allows these people to congregate, as well as garner a misguided following of thirsty orbiters. Often these people are not involved in these hobbies, or if they are it is in the most tangential fashion. They don't buy comics, they don't buy models, they don't paint, they rarely if ever game, they barely understand how D&D words as a system, they might've watched some Marvel movies and Star Wars back in the day. And yet, they think that because a woman claimed something, it must be true, therefore there's this gigantic problem in these communities that they know precisely fuck all about. Their combined presence, as well as their incessant whining, leads people to believe that these people are more numerous and more important than they actually are, which gives them a certain level of power with out-of-touch corporations like WOTC or Marvel. This happens because the people actually enjoying the thing are just quietly enjoying it like they always have been. So these people look like an even larger contingent of the customer base because nobody is countering their narrative. 

And what's more, with Gamergate, we saw that these people are more than willing to lie to advance that narrative. The FBI itself did an investigation into the movement/hashtag, and found fuck all to do with abusive behavior coming from the GG side of things. Anti-GG, on the other hand, were implicated in a lot of abusive behavior, and since the events of that fateful consumer revolt a lot of the major players have been outed as sex pests if not outright rapists. So in reality what's probably happening here is that old chestnut of, "Accuse the enemy of that which you are guilty." 

As evidenced by Shitnugget's tweet up there, he is very contemptible of women. Women like Morgon Newquist, or that GW manager just don't exist, and if we want to appeal to women and get them into our hobbies, we have to dumb the games down for them. We have to make comics unreadable preachy Chick Tracts so that the stupid blacks and browns can identify with them, because they're obviously too dumb to get white comics. When you really break these people's beliefs down, it honestly sounds like something out of an alt-right screed, doesn't it? They're white supremacists and misogynists with guilty consciences. 

But as I said, given their frequent use of lies and absolute refusal to provide a single shred of proof of these misogynistic, racist, hateful, exclusionary nerds, we can safely assume that they are lying about his as well. This is how the burden of proof works. The one making the claims must provide the proof. So to all of the people claiming that this problem exists, the only thing I can say is this:

Prove it.

Presumably this is happening in public areas. Film it.

If it's happening in skype chats then tape it with a program like OBS. Although you may want to get consent, depending on the laws in your state or country. Some countries/states require both parties to consent to a recording in a non-public setting. 

If this is such a widespread problem, if it happens so often that it's this big of an issue, prove it.

I know you can't, and you won't, because it isn't. But the time is now, because we've listened to you crow about this for too long.

Put up or shut up. 

Prove it, or get the fuck out. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

You Seem Upset...

[UPDATE: I have been corrected on a small bit of lore by a friend of mine, Todd Everhart (@Rolecasters). It turns out that Vlana and Ivrian, the lovers of Fafhrd & The Gray Mouser, were not in fact burned alive by the Thieves' Guild. They were hung by sorcerous magic and eaten alive by giant rats. The Mouser overturned a pot of coals and set his treasure horde on fire because he couldn't bear to look at what happened to them. Thanks for the correction, Todd!]

So apparently I unlocked an achievement earlier: Trigger a Supposed Major Author You've Never Heard of Before.

Before I get into whatever this turns out to be, I want to make it very clear I have no particular animosity towards Mr. Barron. Like I said, I'd never heard of the guy before a friend of mine showed me this screencap. I don't even have a Facebook, so the best I can do is a quick check of his wikipedia page, and from what I got there he has a lot of anthologies he's contributed to and stories out there.

Good for him.

I mean that seriously, good for him. It still doesn't change the fact that I have never heard of him before today in my entire life, but if he's getting it in this industry then good for him. 

I can't for the life of me figure out why he's so upset when a nobody like me criticizes an anthology that he didn't even contribute to. But there are some things in his little Facebook post I'd like to correct, and now seems as good a time as any.

This wasn't "a rant disguised as a review."

This was a rant. 

I like to think I was up front about that at the start, when I mentioned that I hadn't read the book, but trust the opinions of the reviewers of Castalia House to know whether a book will be worth my money and time. That is, after all, what reviewers are for. Maybe I should be clearer in the future with that kind of thing, so there's no more confusion. If I knew dick all about graphic design I'd make some kind of "RANT NOT REVIEW" image to put on these sorts of posts so that everything's nice and clear. We'll see what I come up with.

Now on to Mr. Barron's next point. Yes, all the characters listed have their bloodthirsty moments. But if all you're familiar with is, say, Conan pastiches, or the movies, or the media featuring the Cimmerian which was not written by Robert E. Howard, I can see how you'd think that's his overall character trait. I haven't been in the business of debunking individual statements of ignorance in a while, but I think I remember how to play this game.

In the very first published Conan story, the world's first introduction to the mighty barbarian, "Phoenix on the Sword," Conan is a king. He is a wise and noble ruler, willing to ride into the jaws of enemy armies woefully outnumbered (as is shown in the story "The Scarlet Citadel"), and is even a patron of the arts! In "Phoenix", there is a poet who is essentially spreading seditious material against Conan and lionizing the king he deposed and killed. Conan is reluctant to even say a harsh word against him, because, and I quote, "A great poet is greater than any king. His songs are mightier than my scepter; for he has near ripped the heart from my breast when he chose to sing for me. I shall die and be forgotten, but Rinaldo's songs will live forever."

Quite the thing for a "bloodthirsty prick" to say, wouldn't you think?

Quite the thing for the writer of said "bloodthirsty prick" to put into print, as well. 

As for Beowulf, if I recall that story properly he came upon a group of people in the grip of a terrible monster that invaded their homes at night and literally ate people alive. Beowulf killed that monster with his bare hands, and then went on to find that monster's mother and kill her, all to ensure that these very put-upon people he'd come across could sleep soundly at night. Sometimes being a "bloodthirsty prick" can do good for people in need. 

Fafhrd & The Mouser are perpetually broke thieves who nonetheless find ways to do good for people, despite their "bloodthirsty prickishness". In "Bazaar of the Bizarre", Fafhrd risks his own skin to save not only his companion but all of Nehwon itself. The entire reason they were so admittedly bloodthirsty near the end of "Ill Met in Lankhmar" is because the women they loved had been burned alive by the Thieves' Guild. Seems justifiable bloodthirst to me. And in "The Price of Pain-Ease" The Two make their way quite literally to Death's Door simply to say goodbye to those two women. But no, we can reduce the entirety of their adventures down to them being simply "bloodthirsty pricks." Right.

Now I have not read Tarzan, or watched any John Wayne movies, or read The Iliad, or the 12 Labours of Hercules, and as such I will not speak to them. When I do finally read or watch these, I'll let you know whether or not I find the heroes to be simply "bloodthirsty pricks."

What I can speak to is Mr. Barron's near-total ignorance of that which he speaks. Well, I can't say that, as I'm not a mind reader, now am I? I don't know if he's read a single word of Howard, or Leiber, or the Beowulf legend, or if he's just working off of what he's heard from other people or movies he's watched. If he's simply ignorant, that's forgivable, as he just doesn't know and can't be faulted for not knowing. Speaking while not knowing is another matter entirely. The other option, however, is that he has read these stories, and is simply lying.

Maybe he's upset that I attacked someone he likes. Fair enough, but if you're going to come riding to rescue your beloved sempai at least pretend like you know what you're talking about when you do. If your ignorant, misrepresenting, nuance-lacking assessment of these gods whose feet you dare to even approach, much less spit on is any indication of where science fiction, fantasy, and horror is as a whole, then thank you for proving my point. 

Howard, Leiber, and Vance are three of the most influential authors in the history of literature. Howard's characters are still read, written about, given new stories, and influencing everything from new writers like myself to massively popular tabletop RPG's, almost 100 years after his death. The "Fighter" class in the wildly popular Dungeons & Dragons franchise is directly influenced by Howard, and their magic systems still have more than a small smack of the Vancian. Mr. Barron, nor I for that matter, could not even have the faintest shimmering of a hope to ever be as influential or well-loved as these gentlemen. 

If you think that going back to the people who literally dug the well Dozois and Martin are attempting to poison is a bad idea, then there might be no hope for you. I'd suggest you actually go back and read some of these people whose work you're pretending to know anything about before you attempt to shit on their legacy by calling their most popular, enduring, and well-loved creations "bloodthirsty pricks" as if that's a bad thing 100% of the time. 

"Bloodthirsty pricks" are the absolute lifeblood of Sword & Sorcery literature. Without them, it is merely short experiments in bad writing pretending to be high fantasy. Allow me to quote myself, here: 

(the readers) came here to watch good guys bash bad guys (or at least reasonably okay guys bash bad guys), airship pirates conducting daring raids, wizards of vast and deadly power hurl spells, monstrous creatures eating people, underwater kingdoms threatened by ancient evil, unthinkably valuable artifacts stolen by intrepid thieves, and on and on the list goes of things you could be doing rather than putting people to sleep with your boring message fiction that seems to be trying to take up the majority of fantasy literature these days.

This is what Sword & Sorcery literature is about. If your Sword & Sorcery literature doesn't involve "bloodthirsty pricks" with swords either fighting against or wielding deadly sorcery, you're doing it wrong. It's quite literally in the name. 

I'll end on this. Mr. Barron, if you'd like to see my metaphorical ass, all you'd have to do is listen to my podcast where I put it on display about once a week. If you'd like to see what I and people like me are doing with the influence from people like Vance, Leiber, Howard, Tolkien, and all the rest, I gave you some very nicely curated links in the original post. There's even some free literature on Steemit you can peruse at your leisure, and the tags are linked there as well. I'll also remind you that I've sold an Old Venus-style story to Cirsova Magazine, and you can get a digital copy of the issue my story is going to be appearing in for $0.50, or one half-dollar. For the other half you also get their spring issue. Drop a dollar, read it when it comes out. 

Have fun.

But I would like to sincerely thank you for the 4-500+ views that post has gotten since you shared it. You've exposed a whole lot of people to an attitude, philosophy, and approach to writing that many people agree with but are too afraid to speak themselves. The time for attitudes like yours that do nothing but denigrate the masters we should be looking up to who created the genres we all write in (well, some of us actually write in them, others just pretend to) is nearing its end. Enjoy it while it lasts, because it won't last forever. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Call To Action: The Swords of Saint Valentine

The Council has met, and come to a decision. Well, actually it was a bunch of yahoos on a discord server, but nyewhatever, details. The Steempulp Warband is putting on an event through the end of February, and you can take part! The full details you can read on Warboss Cheah's Steemit post about the event, and if you're wanting to contribute you're more than welcome to join us on the blockchain-powered blogging platform.

The basic rundown is this: It's past New Year's, and it's Valentine's Season. Being the intrepid neo-pulpsters and hopeless romantics that we are, a bunch of us fungus monkeys with keyboards got together and decided to host an event for the fiction side of Steemit. 

We're having an open call for tales of chivalric heroism and romantic love, preferably together in the same story. They can be a whole post or a serial, but the one thing they must be other than chivalrous and romantic, is pulpy.

Did you really expect any different from us?

Also nothing over 15,000 words. We're doing this for an eventual anthology, akin to the PulpRev Sampler, and the stories chosen for invitations to the anthology will be voted on by some group of jackholes in their discord server, based on non-bot, non-paid upvotes. I'm one of those jackholes, along with Warboss Cheah, Noughtshayde (you may know him as Conner Goff of Darkest of Dreams), t2tang, notjohndaker/themixedgm, and J. D. Alden. The Chief Editor shall be the PulpRev's own Jesse Abraham Lucas, editor of the Sampler. 

Also your story can be anything, so long as it has chivalry and romance. Set it in space, prehistoric times, other planets, fantasy worlds of your own creation, whatever you like. You're not limited to knights rescuing princesses, and frankly in my opinion if that's all we got it would be a pretty boring anthology. So go buck-fucking-wild with. Bring out the true batshit, and let's give these people a taste of the pulp side of things they won't soon forget. 

Once again, full details at the Warboss' post. I just wanted to give y'all a quick rundown and point you in the right direction. If it sounds up your alley, then hit us up. See you on the S.S. Steempulp!

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Attempted Murder of Sword & Sorcery

So the good people over at Castalia House have put out a review of the new Gardner Dozois/George R. R. Martin anthology, The Book of Swords. You can read the autopsy of this shitpile here, but I'll just let you know that it doesn't look pretty. This is the same problem they had with their Old Venus anthology, which is that these people fundamentally do not understand the medium they're working in. Either that, or they're actively trying to kill it. They say you shouldn't attribute to malice what could be attributed to ignorance and incompetence, but at this point I'm really starting to fucking wonder over here. 

The problem with Old Venus, as expounded on in many places, is that the stories went nowhere and did nothing. They were vehicles for preachy wannabe litfic, not adventure stories exploring the possibilities of Venus as an inhabitable world in the way that the old pulpsters did. So in the interest of showing these wankers how it's done, I wrote a story playing with the concept of Old Venus, and it'll be appearing in Cirsova Heroic Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine this summer. It's called "Slavers of Venus", and you can support their Kickstarter here.

Unfortunately, it looks like we're going to have to do more of this kind of thing, because these people are apparently damned and determined to slaughter everything that used to be fun about these old genres. What really pisses me off here is that there are authors in this new anthology that I actually respect, and they're engaged in this exercise in killing the primary genres that I write in. My opinion on Martin is already well known (for those who don't know, I really actively dislike the fucker, and try to steer people away from his nihilistic celebration of his personal fucked up sexual fantasies), but some of the rest of these people formerly had my respect. 

Robin Hobb is one of my favorite fantasists, and I routinely praise her series of books dealing with Fitzchivalry Farseer and the Liveship Traders. She knows how to tell a damn fine yarn, and it's very disappointing to see her be apart of one of Martin's deconstructions and subversions of the genre that she has formerly imbued with so much wonder and so many brilliant ideas. 

C. J. Cherryh I'm particularly disappointed about, because I love her Faded Sun trilogy, and I know she's a better writer than someone who thinks the subversion gimmick is any kind of original or even fun. And really? Beowulf? You're going to subvert Beowulf and make him the bad guy? While Grendel was raiding the feasting halls while people slept and devouring entire innocent human beings, the hero who came and stopped the slaughter of innocents was the bad guy the whoooole time!

You're better than this crap, and you know it. 

And I know the people running the show know that fiction better than this crap exists, because they published some in that very anthology! The person at Castalia who reviewed it had some very nice things to say about a few of the stories in this book, and more often than not my tastes and theirs' align enough so I know whether I'll like a book or not based on the review. If they enjoyed it, chances are I will as well. It's not enough to get me to buy the anthology, because I'm not paying god only knows how much for 10 stories I'll hate and 3 I'll like. On top of that, I'm no longer in the habit of giving money and time to people that hate me.

So the real question here is this: Is this intentional or is it incompetence?

I know what my guess is, but more importantly this is symptomatic of the slow death of fantasy literature. Everybody wants to be Martin, nobody wants to be Tolkien, Burroughs, Howard, Merritt, Leiber, Vance, et al. Much as I enjoy Tolkien's work, there was only one of him, and all the imitators (slavish or otherwise) since his debut have been a little bit worse. Or a lot worse, depending on who we're talking about. People are hungry for short, punchy, weird, out there, batshit insane, heroic fantasy adventure fiction. This anthology is not going to give it to them. 

Instead what it appears to be actively doing is just giving them enough of what they're after to make them want more, but letting them know that what they're after is only a small part of the genre in question. No, the REAL point of fantasy literature is boring think pieces that go nowhere and subversions of heroic tropes so that the characters you've always loved were really the bad guys all along! There are no more exemplars, no heroes, no true adventure, no true monsters, no true fun in this genre.

This pisses me off in particular because this genre is my home. Fantasy adventure fiction has been my bread and butter since I was very young, and continues to be my favorite genre to read and write in today. It pains me on a spiritual level to see these heathens defiling my temple, and I want them gone. They don't deserve your respect, your time, or your money. These people simply do not understand anymore (if they ever truly did) that the entire basis of swords and sorcery is high-flying adventure, dastardly villains, heroic heroes (or at the very least a protagonist who's willing to risk danger for personal gain, a la Fafhrd & The Gray Mouser, or Cugel The Clever), mystical locales, deadly magics, and batshit insane supernatural creatures. 

Sword & Sorcery is most definitely not a genre in which to make social commentary the point of your story. That can happen, of course. In "Phoenix on the Sword" REH makes a point about lower taxes making people happy and prosperous, then moves on. In most Drizzt books Salvatore makes a point about racism at one time or another (usually often, and easily spotted), but the rest of the book is an adventure story. In The Dying Earth Jack Vance makes a point about how dreadful the world would be if everybody were solely out for selfish, personal gain. 

However, what you notice with all these examples is that the story, the adventure being described, takes primacy. The lesson is merely a throwaway line, or something minor that happens but means a great deal to that particular character. It isn't the overall focus of the story. If you absolutely have to put politics into your stories, that's how you do it. Making the whole story a commentary on racism, sexism, insert your pet issue here, is a fast way to make your story boring as shit. It's the equivalent of making your story all about how much you love Jesus, on the Christian side of things.

Nobody who doesn't really care about your pet issue is going to think it's anything but you preaching, and that isn't what they came to sword & sorcery for. They came here to watch good guys bash bad guys (or at least reasonably okay guys bash bad guys), airship pirates conducting daring raids, wizards of vast and deadly power hurl spells, monstrous creatures eating people, underwater kingdoms threatened by ancient evil, unthinkably valuable artifacts stolen by intrepid thieves, and on and on the list goes of things you could be doing rather than putting people to sleep with your boring message fiction that seems to be trying to take up the majority of fantasy literature these days.

Fortunately for everyone who actually does like this kind of thing, there are people out there working to reverse this trend and bring things back to the golden days of Conan, Cugel, Elric, early Drizzt, Fafhrd & The Mouser, and all the rest. You can find some of them in the PulpRev Sampler (only one (1) single United States Dollar on Amazon in the Kindle store), and we're also beating it up on Steemit under the pulprev and steempulp tags. The stories on Steemit are 100% free for anyone to read, no account required.

If you want to see what real pulp looks like, look us up. Accept no substitutes, because these half-hearted attempts to murder genres like sword & sorcery will only leave a bad taste in your mouth. The indies are where the real writing is, so get some books like the Sampler, or Paragons, or our DimensionBucket Media horror anthology Darkest of Dreams. The big publishing stuff is just a waste of time at this point.