Flolloping Along
Life with Archie

What happened to Archie comics? Even as a preteen kid in the 90s I knew that the production of good Archie stories had ended more-or-less in the 80s, and stories done after that were to be skipped. I would flip through the books my parents or aunts bought me and look for the older (more competent) art styles which signaled the stories worth reading. I grew up knowing that the Riverdale gang wasn’t a bunch of monotone, bland caricatures of human beings, but rather a crew of smart-alecky pals in a constant war of one-upmanship. 

Tried reading the comics where Archie married Betty and Veronica - nothing funny’s happening, so what’s the point? Archie isn’t supposed to be a soap opera. That said, there are much better soap operas.

Also picked up the first issue of Afterlife with Archie (the one where they become zombies). I’ve yet to read the rest, but the 1st issue didn’t get me interested at all. It’s just a johnny-come-lately addition to the glut of zombie crap infesting pop culture. And again, it’s not even funny, so what’s the point

Read the old Pureheart the Powerful stories if you want to see how Archie should really do genres - as parodies. It’s a kid’s comic. It’s not supposed to pander to your nostalgia, it’s just supposed to be entertaining.

To illustrate my points, I pulled an Archie comic from a few years ago off my brother’s shelf. In the 1st story (often the only new one in today’s books. The rest is just reprints), it takes Archie 3 pages of cleaning a pool to finally fall in, to which his supervisor thinks “that’s the 2nd time today”. That’s literally the first joke. Everything before that is just Archie talking to himself about cleaning a pool, and the supervisor’s big contribution to the comedy is an expository thought bubble. 

Contrast this to an older comic I pulled off the shelf which I opened to a random story, looked like a 60s piece. Betty is entering the Lodge mansion and

Mr Lodge says, “Veronica’s still pretty miserable”.

Betty: “Oh right she went to the dentist today didn’t she?”

Next panel: Veronica smiling widely.

Betty: “Mr Lodge that’s the happiest misery I’ve ever seen”.

Next panel: Mr Lodge explaining.

"Her face is frozen from the dentist’s medicine".

And there, the whole story’s set up in ONE PAGE. Betty and Veronica then go for a walk during which boys come on to Ronnie because of her encouraging smile, after which she beats them up in various ways while grinning happily. And the dialogue serves to move the story along, illustrate the characters, and keep up the comedy.

Reggie comes along, “Hi Betty. Hi gorgeous.”

Betty, upset while Reggie takes Veronica in his arms: “Thanks, loads.”

In 2 lines of dialogue, the first uttered when Reggie appears, you know exactly who Reggie is and what he’s about. This is what Archie comics are supposed to be like. People get sarcastic. People get pissed. People are jerks. The boys are pigs and the girls are bitches (at the end of the story it turned out the medicine had worn out long ago and Ronnie was just enjoying hitting the boys). They’re American teenagers for pete’s sake. Why is everybody just plastered with a Stepford wife grin in all the new comics?

Poor younger me, he actually believed that bad Archie was just a product of the 90s. If only he’d known, even suspected, the depths to which it would eventually sink.

I mean COME ON Archie Comics. Joani Jumpp stories were epic verse compared to the drivel you’re selling today. JOANI JUMPP.

Work Update.

Still no internet at the office, and that may be a good thing, at least for the people who pay me.

That said, my mere existence is a good thing for those idiots, and they’d better realize it soon.

Training Update.

Had a great experience sparring new friends. First time I played someone so well-versed in long range. As usual, despite having trained many hours together, sparring proved to be the real ice-breaker.

Wish I had more serious training partners.

Wolverine’s Skeleton

Wolverine has an indestructible skeleton, but as we saw in Age of Apocalypse and Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk, this does absolutely nothing for his joints (parts of the skeleton held together by soft tissues).

So here’s a question: why is it that whenever Wolverine is burned or shot or cut to the point that the bones of an entire limb are showing, said bones don’t just fall to the ground? In case comic book artists weren’t previously aware, museum skeleton displays such as those for dinosaurs are held together by rods, screws, and wires.

Cyclops’s power, set to an angle wide enough to engulf Wolverine’s entire body, would *literally* dismember him by severing every single ligament the beams come in contact with. And Cyke could do it from half a mile away.

That said, why the hell is Green Lantern always getting punched in the face when he could fight his enemies from orbit?

Pejorative Connotation.

 And then, in a moment of clarity in the year 2091, society realized that, “cripple” having been replaced by “handicapped”, “handicapped” having been replaced by “disabled”, “disabled” having been replaced by “physically challenged”, which was then replaced by “differently abled”, which in turn was replaced by “people with disabilities”, itself replaced during a particularly sardonic time in word coinage by “crips”, which was overturned by “bloods”, then “crips”, then “bloods”, which was replaced by “unpowered”, which lost popular ground to “differently powered”, which was superseded by “no-money-for-cyborg-prosthetics”, which shortened to what was perceived as the less-pejorative “au naturel”, which eventually was seen as pejorative anyway and made way for “defective” (which by the 2080s due to the perfection of society  had acquired a somewhat positive connotation that actually lasted for about a year), after all that, society realized that any word you use to refer to people who are perceived to have less than the majority will automatically become pejorative. This was explained by the theory of roses and garbage still smelling the same even when you switch the names around, which was discovered in the 2070s to have actually occurred in a cargo cult which had taught itself English through shredded novel manuscripts the Red Cross had used to build houses for them (the cult’s saying, “our breath smells like goddamned roses”, often chanted when praying for toothpaste and fluorinated bottled water to fall from the sky, became well known among American schoolchildren). 

By 3010, after the great War Against Cloying Peace, everyone went back to using words like “blind”, “ugly”, “lame”, “dumb”, “squatter”, “maid”, “fat”, “poor”, and Context 101 became a required subject in the first year of high school.

Inequality of Gripes.

I have a friend who has been living here for a little over a year. He hails from a 1st-world country, and he rightfully states that the political and social problems of the Philippines are the same as in any other country. However, he wrongly believes that our countries are therefore equal in suffering and that I shouldn’t be so indignant about domestic injustices and inefficiencies since “it’s the same everywhere”.

All I can say about this without going off on a rant is that Americans, for instance, worry about ulterior motives in legislation such as Obamacare. Filipinos, on the other hand, worry about legislation will 1) actually be made or 2) ever be carried out. Americans fear the changes that can be brought about by poor legislation, Filipinos wonder if changes will ever be made. Americans fear shadowy conspiracies. Filipinos wonder whether competent, educated legislators even exist. Marcos is still a kind of hero for many even with all the shit that he did because he actually managed to do some good things on the side. Many people I know favored Estrada becoming Manila’s mayor just because, however dumb or corrupt he may be, he can’t play the system like Lim did, and so will probably get away with less. We are similar but not equivalent, dammit.

I even had one balikbayan telling me that copyright law was important to fight for in this country. Yeah, stopping minimum wage earners from buying DVD’s of movies that already made $3B is really going to put us on the right track. Agh, fuck you all.

Redemption!

Ah, such a good day yesterday, making up for the horrible beatings I took recently. Made a philosophical point by kicking the shit out of some spars, and learned a bit more about applying footwork. I’m also further down the line in understanding the distinctions among sport, martial arts, and fighting. 

Some people have told me that PNOY is reactive. Ridiculous. That would imply accomplishment. Paying lip-service after a crime or natural disaster isn’t being “reactive”, it’s showmanship/salesmanship.

Miriam Defensor is so awesome. I don’t for one second believe that she isn’t in some way corrupt, nor do I look past her incessant narcissistic grandstanding. But of all of her fellow senators, she’s not just brilliant in her analysis of situations and application of her skills, she’s also the only politician I can consistently expect to demonstrate any kind of competence or having done her homework. I grew up thinking that I could expect all public servants to be at least a Miriam Defensor. She makes me wish I’d studied law.

Back in the Saddle, Part I.

I stopped playing new computer games about 10 years ago because I could never afford a computer that could run them. I still haven’t played Half Life 2 and in 2008 I used a budget laptop purchased for thesis/schoolwork to play Homeworld 2 (and lots of Mechwarrior 3! And any of my other old games that would still run). Through an incredibly fortunate circumstance I was given a 2.4GHz i5 laptop with 4Gb of RAM in 2011, which while not being a gaming machine of any kind, will at least allow me to play releases from about 1 or 2 years back.

I was surprised to find so many F2P games available. I had heard of F2P while playing COD and CS in internet cafes, and had thought that the major issue with the model was P2W. Having been out of the loop for so long, I decided to try these games and see how badly imbalanced P2W schemes made things.

Imagine my delight when I downloaded MWO and, after a little reading on military tactics, started making a decent account of myself, whether or not my opponents were so-called “Hero” mechs. So I patted myself and PGI on the back and kept playing. And reading. And grinding.

And grinding.

After several days of play and missed sleep, I suddenly realized that I still couldn’t afford any new mechs! At the rate I was going it would be between a week and a month before I could ever afford a SINGLE new mech. Worse, all that grinding would eventually be for naught because I could only have 4 mechs at any given time. But in order to max out the skill tree of a single chassis I had to purchase each of the variants (3 or 4 variants to a chassis). So effectively in a game of about 2 dozen mech chassis, each with about 3 or 4 variants, you have between 70 and 100 unique mechs available, and you can only own 4 AT A TIME. If you want more storage, guess what you have to do?

Now I understand that some people think that a dollar-and-a-half isn’t a lot of money for a mech bay, and it’s not. It really isn’t. On the other hand you’d have to shell out around a hundred dollars for a mech bay for each variant in the game, as opposed to MW2: Mercs which had over a hundred chassis and cost $40 in a 3-pack of MW2 games back in the 1990s.

And back in those days I could customize my mechs however I chose. I don’t mind grinding to buy weapons and equipment for a mech, because the game-money (C-bills) prices are pretty reasonable. But why in the realm of Middle Earth do I have to pay real money to customize the mech’s paint job??? Character customization is literally the.most. basic element of character creation, and has been this whole millennium. To say nothing of the fact that it’s.a.war.game. and you want to be able to camouflage yourself appropriately.

Also, why are the Hero mechs so expensive? Are there really people who will pay $30 for a single mech? I want to reiterate that I got 3 Mechwarrior games in the 90s for $40 total, and in them I got over a hundred mechs, dozens of hours of campaigning, and as much customization as I cared for. I actually considered buying the Founder’s pack when I heard of MWO (I signed up long before it was in Beta), but I never thought they’d be fleecing customers after the game’d gone gold (in an unfinished state, no less).

Finally, MWO may not be P2W, but people who pay for Premium Time (during which you earn more C-bills and XP than non-payer-players) certainly have a much less grindy life. If they’re earning 50% more money that means they’re only going to have to put in 2/3rds the time and effort that I do. This may sound fair – I thought it did, at first – but this business model feels a lot like being punished, physically punished, for not shelling out money. But in the end, I play. Whatever, it’s fun, it’s not really P2W, it does most of what I expected it to as a MW game and a lot that I never even thought of. Bravo, PGI, you have a fan. 

addendum to “Rambling on Combatives”

Also, at any age, knowing how to throw a hook and a straight, lifting weights and doing some sit-ups will get you out of probably 90% of sticky situations.

Rambling on “Combatives”

Caveat: This rant is mostly based on a couple conversations I had with the most violent-minded people I’ve met, both of whom are in the upper economic strata with tertiary education or higher, and both of whom are family men. I should add that the less wealthy people I know that do martial arts do so because they like fighting and don’t make excuses for it. Finally, the best and most qualified people I’ve ever met in martial arts (especially Muay Thai) are just about the nicest most laid-back people ever —- probably because they let it all out in the ring and don’t feel they have to prove anything outside of it.

Somebody recently told me he was no longer into things like boxing or Muay Thai or BJJ or wrestling because these need youth and strength, while “combatives” are easy, effective, efficient, and practical (I think they call that “functional” these days), like headbutts, eye gouges, and I’m guessing biting.

OK first of all, if your body is destroyed training anything, then you’re either a professional athlete or an idiot. It is a pro’s job to destroy himself to be competitive and entertaining, not so for a civilian who wants to learn to defend him/her self. If you insist on training with BJJ guys who think torn rotator cuffs and ACLs are membership cards to an elite club, that’s your choice. If you think that fighting every week or month in full contact matches is necessary to learn to apply the techniques, that’s your choice. If you think that you need to destroy your knees and ankles or shoulders through overuse injuries to learn to kick someone in the thigh or elbow them in the face, that’s your choice. If you think that it makes more sense to only do things that any untrained person could do, rather than say, train in something and also be aware of the things any untrained person could do, then that’s your choice.

Me, I think that martial sports are healthy and improve reaction speed, timing, strength, stamina, health, etc etc, and everything else is about mindset (not my term, thanks sir) —- a mindset that a trained person OR an untrained person could have. The difference being that a trained person can have the mindset along with totally useful skills, while an untrained person can have the mindset, eye gouges, groin shots, teeth, and would probably collapse like a sack of potatoes if you punched him in the nose or kicked him in the leg. 

Furthermore, I find it silly when people come along telling me they’re learning X or Y martial art for practicality. Practicality is studying hard, working hard, being a nice guy, and avoiding dangerous situations. Practicality is technology: a gun, gloves that can’t be cut, hidden edged knives, poison. 
Efficient techniques are making money so you can pay someone else to put their lives on the line for you, or getting in a fight with someone and then telling them that you have had his family kidnapped.

We practice martial arts because they’re cool. It’s probably a tiny minority of people that got the snot beat out of them as kids but then practiced martial arts and then managed to save themselves and their friends and family from muggings and gang violence. To say nothing of the fact that saving the environment and working in education or simply wearing a cop uniform and driving around the block a few times with an unloaded gun do a lot more for public health and safety than any number of ULTRA REAL NO BS MARTIAL ARTS.

Nobody looking for practical solutions to everyday problems will learn how to hit things with sticks, knives, swords, fists, or feet. No society ever became better or won a war because of the ability to throw down (sharper rocks, longer spears and automatic weapons, hello!).

We think it’s cool. We want to be like the masters. We want to feel strong. We’re upholding traditions.

Martial arts won’t make you feel strong. Walking in a dangerous place at night will always be walking in a dangerous place at night. And in fact, looking badass can make you a more inviting target. Winning streetfights can make you a more inviting target. Being the toughest guy around WILL make you a more inviting target. And as much as I hate Penn and Teller’s “Bullshit”, they’re right about one thing: martial arts practice is a surer way to get injured than random violence. More expensive, too.

Please, I’m still not sure what I’m doing martial arts for, but if you just want you and your family to be safe from violence, be a good person and do good things for and with good people.