If You Can’t Draw, Maybe The ‘Draw Something’ Game Is Not For You

Question: Why do people who can’t or won’t draw something want to play Draw Something?! I’m getting annoyed with people just writing the clues out. They must be the same maroons who shoot video at concerts with a potato and upload stuff to YouTube, where the resulting video clip makes you think you have been slipped some bad acid.

Screen shot 2011-04-04 at 11.45.09 PM

Didyourecordthiswithapotato

Admittedly, the game has some stupid clues sometimes, some of which are irritating pop culture phrases or names, like ”blueivy,” ”ladygaga,” ”bieber,” but, FFS, if we play several rounds and you always just write the damn word out, you are playing the wrong game.

I’m just saying.

Once in a blue moon, I understand someone needs a stupid clue word to earn a badge and has no idea how to draw ”seacrest,” but writing the words each and every time? You people suck, get the F out of my drawing game.

And if you can’t spell and constantly give up because you can’t spell simple words, like trying to spell “stapler” as “stapole,” whatever the hell a stapole is, or if you are seven years old and don’t know what half the words even mean, then you can F off too. You are spoiling my fun! Grr! Argh!

I’m supposed to be relaxing, here. WTF, people. Dammit, do not play drawing games if you can’t even draw a cat, a tree, or a flippin’ stick person. You’re pissing me off. I don’t judge people who aren’t great at art if they at least TRY to draw something. Which is, may I remind you, the name of the damn game in the first place.

Just to prove that I don’t slack off myself, here are a few sketches I did. I can’t show the animations (I like to illustrate verbs by having a character do whatever the word clue says they need to do, and the game shows the steps you take when drawing stuff so you can erase and redraw and such), but I can show the end results. Once I figured out you could save the stupid things, I was on the verge of rage-quitting due to non-drawing slack-asses, so there aren’t many of them:

196318_10100243364113557_193575304_n 73310_10100243364143497_1795270291_n 321487_10100243364168447_245640258_n 19197_10100243364188407_1926690147_n 558191_10100243364233317_686581687_n 397467_10100243364258267_1246300434_n 394825_10100243364273237_58784948_n

Note that 99% of these entries are DRAWINGS.

Incidentally, though most of my opponents guessed well and drew well, SOME of my opponents missed THREE of those clues I shared above, and the game gives you, like, 12 letters to use, lets you know how long the puzzle’s word is, and even gives you a “bomb” tool that removes all the wrong letters. The game also repeats the same clues a lot, especially those for badges. You should eventually figure out some of the weirder ones from context clues.

So I’m extra-annoyed.

How do you fuck up guessing “Kermit”? Does it not look like Kermit? Jesus Christ. I need a drink.

None of you people are allowed to play Pictionary with me, either.

An Entire Cable Channel About GOLF?!

Today I learned that there is an entire cable channel devoted to golf. A whole channel, with golf competitions, Golf Talk, Golf News, and, for all I know, golf ”fashion” shows, golf course tours and travel shows, and golfing sitcoms set at country clubs. Maybe there are even golf movies played every week, with ”Caddyshack” and that Adam Sandler movie I forgot the name of being featured prominently.

I can’t imagine how appealing the Golf Talk shows must be. ”Here’s an old white dude putting a small dimpled ball into a hole. Here’s another old white dude not quite managing to putt a ball into a hole. Here’s a rare minority person, also attempting to hit a ball with a stick so that it goes into a hole.”.

Fascinating stuff.

The most exciting things about golf:

1. Tiger Woods being a jerk, though that forced us all to endure lame jokes like “Tiger is a lion cheetah.”

2. Phil Mickleson being a jerk, whining about paying his fair share of taxes when he earns in a single year about 400x what you or I will earn in our entire lives.

3. The Masters being collectively a bunch of jerks, denying membership to women, and having a weird fixation on boxy jackets in a shade of green not ordinarily seen anywhere unless it is St. Patrick’s Day.

A whole channel about golf. I can’t even.

Baddiwad Foot Commercials Must Die

ERMAGERD, stop showing me manky, flaky, stinky, ashy, horny, lumpy, grubby, disgusting feet in foot care product commercials! CallousClear and PedEgg, I am calling you out. I’m not normally grossed out by feet, but you’re putting my tolerance to the test.

I don’t even know how an able-bodied adult’s feet can get that gross. Do they hire desperate homeless people with crappy shoes to pose for them in exchange for a cheeseburger or something? I mean, you’d think you’d have to be walking practically barefoot on every manner of filth one can find outdoors, and then not have easy access to a shower for weeks on end to wind up with those nasty trotters.

I can’t imagine what the ad buyer was thinking. ”It’s 7AM on Saturday morning, when most normal people are still unconscious in bed. Let’s treat the insomniacs, old people and small children to some real merzky, grazzy, grahzny, strazky nagoy nogas, o my droogies.” That’s a real horror show, not horrorshow at all, my brethren, and not appreciated on an empty tummiwum.

I’m just saying.

Girl Fights Versus Boy Fights

So this one blog talked about how the Internet doesn’t make you an asshole, but that human nature + the illusion of anonymity + minimal personal risk = assholish behavior. Same blogger is an anonymous crankypants, but whereas the tone isn’t what I’d choose, and the topics are those that I’d avoid lest they pissed off people I care about (who can’t separate a difference of opinion from a personal attack, even if the opinion stated was shared WITHOUT THEM IN MIND), I am finding her ranty-rants well-written and entertaining. (Also? I want to kick her abusive, selfish, neglectful, competitive, substance-impaired, crazy, kidnapping, bitchy bio-mom in the teeth. HARD. But she can handle herself just fine without me getting my hackles raised on her behalf.) Said blogger told a story or two about school-era conflicts that she handled with, well, direct violence to the perpetrators.

The interesting thing here is that this was effective, because, as a girl, she was expected to play by girl fight rules. Well, Girl Fight Rules SUCK.

I’m not adverse to an intellectual debate. I DO, however, despise whiny girly fight tactics. (Not all participants utilizing these tactics are girls, mind.)

Girly fights require that you do subtle, nasty things, preferably with a horde of cronies nearby to back you up and you get bonus points if you gesture towards your victim a lot. Say, they’ll pointedly gossip about the victim–who is RIGHT THERE–and then, if confronted, claim that the victim is being egotistical and paranoid. It’s gaslighting and cattiness. It’s not fighting an honest battle. Girly fights require emotional and psychic assassinations, not being able to trust your “friends” and the primary bully is always gathering forces around herself through the collective fear of her posse that the next victim may be one of the current “in” crowd.

Girly fights are lame. It’s all about being fakey-nice while in reality being a conniving shrew beating up on others with innuendo and rumor and shunning and stomping off in a huff and dropping drama bombs and crying and using emotional blackmail instead of, say, fists. Not that fisticuffs are better. But girl fighting is all about fighting indirectly and with a pack of harpies at your side, rather than sorting things out directly one on one.

Note that homophobic boys ganging up on less-than-jock-like peers and torturing them for real or imagined “gayness” is, in truth, a girly kind of fight.

Boy fights are more direct. First of all, the insult that triggers the fight must be rather grave. Mothers or girlfriends must be insulted. Property damage might have occurred. The offense is never “you looked cuter than I did today, so I hate you” or “I am secretly horribly insecure about my own popularity status, and how better to maintain it than by making everyone around me quake in their shoes?” or “you defended an unpopular person I was picking on and revealed me to be the ass I truly am, and now you must pay”.

Boy fights may involve a quick tussle or fist fight. Afterwards, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that two guys who were eagerly bashing each other into concrete walls and trying to kick each others’ gonads concave (low blow that it is) a few hours ago might wind up sharing a couple of beers later on. Boys are generally direct, if slightly more violent.

There will always be ladies asking their girls to hold their earrings, pinning up their wigs, ponytails or weaves, and putting Vaseline on their faces, sure, but that’s still boy-style fighting: actual blood might get spilled. It’s direct and not prolonged. There’s something to it.

Internet fights tend to be girl fights. Take a typical forum fight. There is a lot of frenzied IRC chatting and PM-ing and whinging on other fora. There’s the archivist, digging up past hurts and fights from whatever cobweb-strewn corner of a dead thread they were buried in. The pissheads who claim to be all in favor of peace, love and understanding, and then (often within minutes or hours) start “calling people out” and “naming names.” There are the backstabbers revealing personal information designed to embarrass former friends and then swearing anew that they really, really, really want a shiny, happy forum. There are idiots who just won’t leave even if they hate the way the forum is run by the owner and have other places to hang out, and lamers who create sock puppet accounts and bitch and whine and complain that others are shit-stirring, and…well, if you aren’t somewhat exhausted after just reading that shit, then you are better than I am.

Girly fights are doomed to fail where I am concerned. You pull that shit, you immediately lose as far as I am concerned. I label you as a jerk, and have no more interest in your arguments.

This is not to say that boy fighting ranks any higher, but, on the Internet, there are no real fists. Also, I may be a cat, sitting here typing. You don’t know. That’s the beauty of the Internet. P.S. Please send tuna, KTHXBAI.

There’s always the adult fight technique, where you stick to the disputed issue at hand, back your opinion up with facts, and don’t take a difference of opinion so darn personally. You don’t poll your buddies before you form your opinion. If your buddies disagree, so what?

The whole “enemy or pal” thing online is lame as well, because the likelihood that you will ever talk face-to-face is slim. 90% of what is said online is probably bullcrap, and that includes how people present themselves and the points of view they claim they hold. Some people just don’t have enough excitement in their daily life and need MOAR, and the Intarweebz is the perfect safe venue to troll, bitch, flame and be an ass. Again, human nature.
Even if you fight like a girl with someone who typically fights like a boy, they can’t sock you in the nose to shock you into behaving yourself if you get insulting and illogical and personally offensive and thereby bypass all the bullcrap and drama.

Girl fights failed with me in high school because I was blithely unaware of them, more often than not. Someone not liking me (or liking me) was not my problem. I didn’t share any secrets I didn’t want to risk having leaked far and wide, so there was nothing to embarrass me with (and it was already becoming more and more impossible to embarrass me, even then). If someone was being shunned by a pack of she-wolves, I either didn’t know or care. People from all groups were welcome to sit with me at any time, and they did. Lunch hour was pretty rockin’, what with the diverse group of folks at my table every day.

I still seem to be the recipient of everyone’s deepest, darkest secrets (because I don’t tell them) as an adult. I still stay out of fights that involve shunnings. When it was supposed to be my turn to be shunned by a group of much younger folks in Atlanta–and I still don’t know why, or really give a shit–I felt slightly hurt (“what did I do?”) and a bit put-upon (“I wouldn’t treat other people like I am being treated”), but that didn’t last long at all. I didn’t depend on only one small group of friends when I wanted to socialize, after all. My self-worth was never really diminished. If anything, I felt a little indignant because I hadn’t done anything wrong, nor had I behaved any differently from before. Once I identified to myself that I was displeased, and what behavior was annoying me and why, that was that. I decided the situation sucked, and moved on, and thought little about it thereafter. When the same group apparently decided the shunning was over and done with, it took me months to figure that out…because I wasn’t paying much attention to any of them any more, even when we attended the same events, other than to be polite as always, but preoccupied with other people or things. I didn’t trust them not to pull the same stunt again, and made no plans that depended on any of them to follow through.

I learn fast.

Often I spend far more time trying to figure out what, precisely, I am feeling about a situation, because I am very much a Think-y type and any kind of new or unexpected emotion that is less than pleasant sometimes takes me a minute or two to define and analyze. If the behavior I’m irked about is illogical, I sometimes just have to give up figuring it out. Odd, but true.

Then I rant for a while, if still annoyed, which often made my former roommates laugh more than anything else, and then I’m done.

Like now.

The Joy Of Spam: Making The Most Out Of Something Annoying

Since I have been online for over a decade (actually much longer), it comes as no surprise that I get SPAM. About 100 a day on average, most of which spam filters hide from me, and more on weekends when the spammers really get going. I get spam in all languages. I get spam from the “President of the United States” and “Billz E. Gates”! I get spam that looks like a team of drunken monkeys typed it with their balls, and what is being sold and why is often completely undecipherable.

It’s time to celebrate the benefits of spam!

1. If you are a writer, fake names harvested from Spam make great character names. Then again, there are the unintentionally hilarious computer-generated monikers: “Schmuck G. Deriding, Iroquoian L. Biscuit, Zirconium H. Coquetted,Vealed C. Certitude, Abusiveness O. Solitude, Cursoring U. Bayonet, Disabling Condom, Kangaroo D. Castanet, Withering A. Footstool, Bombay Dyslexic, Disallows H. Bootstrap, Epidermis V. Manhunt, Frescoes S. Congo, Vegetated H. Febrile, Vacillating K. But,” just to name a few that another blogger (Phillip LaPlante) noted.

2. You can learn new 1337speak variations, especially how to spell VIAGRA and CIALIS with symbols and numbers…or, as LaPlante commented, appreciate that “subject lines can contain similar kinds of whimsy, or rely on the human brain to “i n t rp rit the c rr ct meening.”

3. You can play “Punk’d” with Nigerian scammers. There are actually entire websites that do nothing but share Nigerian 411 scammer punkings. Total strangers do not offer large sums of money, in general, to people via e-mail. I mean, would YOU do it? The only legitimate response is to string them along and ask for naked or embarrassing pictures with them wearing a shoe on their head and holding signs saying “I like tiny cupcakes” or something equally lame written on them.

4. You can keep up with the latest Urban Legends without going to snopes.com. I’m still waiting for Bill Gates to send me on an all-expenses-paid trip to Disneyland for filling out his way awesome survey, or for an animated Tweety Bird to walk across my screen because I responded to a total stranger’s e-mail that swore it would happen. Except I’m not. I don’t even like Disneyland or Tweety Bird.

5. You can participate in slacktivism by not signing petitions or reading chain mail. You have achieved the same result, but have expended no valuable time or attention to the problem at all! Conservation of resources is good.

6. Speaking of chain mail, you can bring 40 people bad luck by refusing to forward on their lame chain letter.

7. If you have penis envy, all the mail targeted to penis owners will cure you of that. Apparently penises are never long enough, wide enough, hard enough or functional enough, and you need all manner of pills and herbs to keep them operational. I think I’ll just stick to borrowing one once in a while from very close friends.

8. Speaking of friends, now you can meet lots of new naked friends! I get sent at least twelve porn links a day from naked people. I can’t go a day without a spammer intent upon infesting my computer with pop-ups and malware from an awesome porn site. Hold me back!

9. You can correct bad grammar, and keep your skills up to date. This is like shooting large fish in a small barrel. It is often more challenging to find a sentence in spam that is not a grammatical nightmare.

10. Word salad spam is particularly amusing, as it can often resemble William S. Burroughs-style “cut and paste” beat poetry. Enigmatic technicolour doorknob! Restless meerkat harbls! Antiquated velveteen renal foyer macadamias! Pickled milkshake Siberian antimacassar doughnuts! Constipated mongeese Cousteau sunshine wounded! Baffled fruit cocktail Batman fungoid cylinders! Rumpled nanosecond terrycloth pantaloons! Sensitized furniture millennium dentifrices!What does it all mean? I feel more wise and intellectual and artsy already.

11. You can stay informed about politics that were last relevant in 2004, or read 12 messages a day from people claiming to be Barack Obama. I still get pro-John Kerry spam. Dudes, I was really pissed off a few years ago, too, but it is time to let it go. I’m pretty sure Kerry has.

12. If you have too much money, you can buy stocks from spammers. I always trust unsolicited financial advice I get from total strangers who can’t spell!

13. If you still have too much money, you can refinance your mortgage, even if you don’t actually have a mortgage. Is that awesome or what?

14. Still looking for ways to get rid of all those pesky dollars clogging your wallet? There’s always Internet Gambling! You are guaranteed to win! Those gambling sites aren’t in it to take your money at all. Awesome!

15. I am particularly impressed by phishing attempts to scam me out of, for example, my eBay data when I haven’t used eBay in years and am no longer an account holder at the site (as far as I know). ZOMG, my non-existent account has been compromised! Maybe “I” will win some cool auctions and have interesting packages arrive at my door. Dumbasses.

16. The celebrity gossip spam is also pretty cool, especially since I rarely pay attention to celebrities and have no idea who half of these supposedly famous people are. By spamming me with celebrity gossip, I stay “in the know” without even having to glance at the tabloids when I check out at the grocery store. However, since I don’t know who most of these people are, or simply don’t give a crap, why should I click those enticing links? I don’t care who “Shia LeBoeuf” is dating. (I’d swear that was a made-up name, but it rings a bell. I don’t know if it is a he or she, though. It has no relevance to my life.)

17. The pseudo-intellectual spam is also pretty nifty. LaPlante quoted one of his favourites:”To ensure the equality of the diagonals, we make use of a little testing-rod. Thus the body has the same energy as a body of mass on a Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Continuum. The surface of a marble table is spread out in front of me.” This text is then followed by instructions to get low prices on little blue pills.

18. MySpace had its own special spam, remember? I got spam for free gift cards, fugly designer crap, and more naked people. (These people now spam pictures of awful athletic shoes and overpriced heels and try to get people to fall for ‘free gift cards’ on Facebook.) Anyway, there sure are a lot of naked people out there. I see a naked person for free every day, man.

19. Learn Spamlish! I get ten spam-mails a day that say strange crap like “Buadtzy your mmpnllhdjmreds hyhsjijtnfonline.” (An actual quote.) Say what? I think that translates to “Click on me and verify your e-mail address is legitimate! Send me all your money!”

20. Learn what not to search for via GoogHoo, and you won’t get as much cool spam. Spam works like Darwin Awards to week out the weak and gullible! If you don’t have enough spam, here’s how to get some: search for free crap online.

The 8 Most Dangerous Search Terms:

  • Free screensavers
  • Bearshare
  • Screensavers
  • Winmx
  • Limewire
  • Download Yahoo Messenger
  • Lime wire
  • Free ringtones

Across all searches, up to 6 percent of the sites were flagged as dangerous, notes the BBC. “Even a single visit to a dangerous site can have serious and lasting implications for the average internet user,” Edelman and Rosenbaum wrote in their report.

(While we’re at it, don’t be stupid and use an easily-guessed password anywhere.

The top 10 most common passwords:

  • Your user name
  • Your user name followed by 123
  • 123456
  • password
  • 1234
  • 12345
  • passwd
  • 123
  • test
  • 1

Yes, people do this. Argh! I had to keep my mother from choosing one of the variations on this list.)

21. If you have spam, you have a guaranteed hot topic to bitch about and most people will happily bitch right along with you. Spam creates unity and agreement!

22. No free lunches! You could probably rid yourself of 99% of your spam by adding a mail filter that scans for the word “free” and immediately zorches with extreme prejudice any email you get that includes that word. Of course, there would be some false positives. Train your friends to never use the word “free,” then. Or “viagra.” Or “teens.” Easy! Or you can be like me and never check your email until all your buddies get mad at you and stop emailing you. Then all you ever have in your INBOX is spam, and can just “delete all” without reading anything. What a time saver!

23. Spammers NEVER get my name right. This is an easy way to zorch the tardburgers who try to sell me pills for my non-existent penis. As a bonus, I get to collect new and improved misspellings of my real name and a bunch of wacky new aliases. Do you think I can be “Kangaroo D. Castanet”? I kind of like that one.

24. Wow, free legal software! I believe that I can get the entire Macromedia suite, or all Adobe products or MicroSmurf Vista X, on dialup, no less, just by clicking a link! Rock on! I’ll be sure to trust this unsolicited spam mail from a total stranger who wants to send me to “http://totallylegalforrealio.xxxpornware.org.” They are only thinking of my well-being and such, of course.

25. Free empty flattery and friendships! I get told via spam every day that I am someone’s friend, or a smart shopper, or clever investor, or super sexy. Wow! They really know me!

So, hey, spam is great! Love your spam.

Since all spammers are going to be poked in the eye with lemon-and-tabasco-dipped spikes and roasted over flaming pits of brimstone while boy bands serenade them for all eternity, at least once they die, you can rest assured that ignoring spam is your mission from God. Put on your sunglasses, grab your smokes, and brush up on the Blues.

The flaw with ignoring spam, alas, is that it doesn’t give up and go away. If I ignore the Jehovah’s Witnesses who traipse through my ‘hood every other week or so, and refuse to stop whatever far more interesting activity I am engaged in to get up and answer the door, they eventually stop knocking and ringing the bell and wander off to bug someone else. If only spam was as accommodating.

The Thinly-Disguised Contempt For Quirkiness On Home Decorating Shows

I went through a phase where I watched a lot of home improvement shows. The impetus behind this was clear: I’d moved from a nice, if rough-around-the-edges place where I was settled in and mostly satisfied with my living arrangements, to a mostly windowless basement flat. As soon as I got clear on the fact that there was nothing I could do to improve the structure of the place, given that it would take thousands of dollars and it isn’t even my house to fix, I lost a lot of interest.

I still watch these shows on occasion, but forget my objections in between indulging in a mini-marathon of house-flipping, house-cleaning and house-redecorating shows. This weekend, I am watching these shows again, and my objections are renewed.

The “Clean House” people (for example) are completely unsympathetic when it comes to the cherished objects some homeowners have.

Now, believe me, I lack some sympathy for some of the stuff these folks want to hold on to, like “my child’s baby teeth” (a baby food jar re-purposed as a science fair exhibit), broken crap, clothes that went out of style years ago, particleboard furniture, duplicate objects (why do you need five broken vacuum cleaners?), and dust-collecting collections that aren’t being enjoyed or displayed (but, rather, are languishing in storage boxes or in dusty piles). I realize that stuff must go, and it is your own fault if you sign on for a “Clean House” crew to come into your hovel and throw out your crap and give you furniture and scrub your floors.

I also realize that the family has to give up crap and stuff so it can be sold to partially fund the house-cleaning. This makes sense.

The crews of these shows, however, don’t see any value in anything that isn’t brand new and in pristine condition, and they don’t seem to understand that quirky possessions and decor actually personalize a home.

These shows would hate me, I’m pretty sure, because I would not part with the stuff I cared about just to make it easy on the designers, and I would call them out on their attempts to shame me out of my belongings. The fashion shows would want me to get rid of my homemade sequined rock logo shirts, and my costume-y clothes that are appropriate for going out at night to clubs, and try to get me to wear beige linen suits or something, which isn’t me.

I do have a bit of packrattiness, but when it comes down to it, if I have no use for something anymore, it does go to the Salvation Army. (Eventually. I drag my heels about tackling tasks that take several days of labor to complete, and rounding up Salvation Army donations takes hours and hours if not days.)  I appreciate the idea of dressing tastefully and in a way that flatters your individual figure.  I just dislike how the hosts and staff on these shoes revel in imposing their taste on the people they are supposed to be helping, and the attitude that any resistance is wrong, bad, stupid, useless. Your home should reflect your own taste, not look like an “Ashley Furniture” showroom, and if you like leather pants and studded belts and wear them when it is appropriate to wear them, then you don’t need to be insulted into parting with them. If you are happy in your tie-dye, I’m not going to make you give ALL of it up, no matter how tacky it is. You have the right to dress badly on occasion if you want to, and to surround yourself with your favorite collections of crap if that makes you happy.

I watch these shows to get ideas, but still have these bursts of annoyance. Sometimes it is directed at a homeowner (who may be angling for freebies, as sometimes nagging people to part with their crap is sweetened with bribery) who won’t get rid of a pile of bald tires or a huge stack of plastic soda cups they got from fast food restaurants or the world’s largest plaid scrunchy collection or novelty Homer Simpson house slippers mended with duct tape, or macaroni/bean/rice art or whatever, but usually it is directed at the hosts, who seem determined to eradicate any nonconformity or quirkiness the victim might possess. How boring is that?

There could be a middle ground of some sort.

The other irksome problem with these shows is that IF they manage to pry some object away from the family to sell, but it doesn’t sell, they family does not get to reclaim the beloved item. The purpose of wrangling the thing(s) away is to make money for the refurbing, and to make space for the decorator’s Grand Vision, but if the item doesn’t sell and would fit into the redesigned space, they still have to wave goodbye as it goes off to charity. That a charity possibly benefits is the only mitigating factor.

Most of the time I am completely in synch with the house-cleaning team, and understand why a family with no toddlers (just teenagers) and no pets should sell baby furniture and pet care items. This makes a lot of sense.

Other times, I am irked with them.

They do not understand why people would want to keep some of their VHS tapes, and complain that DVDs are a superior format and “all” of those VHS tapes could be replaced easily with DVDs. Er, no. Some films do not get converted to DVD, and paying $15 (on average) to convert a movie you already have on VHS to DVD seems like a waste of money. They claim that vinyl records are dead technology (even though Amazon.com sells turntables) and the homeowner can just “download these tracks on MP3s” and I’m here to tell you that no, that is not a given. Also, unless you pirate those MP3s, you are looking at days or weeks of effort and a lot of cash to buy those electronic files, which can be lost or zorched or corrupted pretty darn easily. Also? Vinyl (acoustic) sounds different from a digital file. Sometimes this is bad, if the vinyl has been abused or neglected or damaged with a dull phonograph needle or warped, but sometimes this is good, and an audiophile can tell the difference between a warm acoustic version and a digital version.

They shame people, too. They tell collectors of toys that they are adults and should have no interest in toys. They tell crafters that they are being selfish and not thinking of their families if they want to pursue a hobby that requires supplies and space for them. They tell sentimental parents that holding on to baby toys and outfits is stupid because they “aren’t useful”. They sneer at dried flower arrangements and then replace them with woven pods filled with sticks. They nag homeowners to get rid of their homemade art, and then replace it with mass-produced crap or childish “We’re Not Artists” Art Projects.

For some reason, they see no problem with homeowners having fourteen television sets. TVs are great! But if the homeowners have lots of bookshelves, those pesky books have to go, immediately. I rarely see bookcases make it into the redesigned spaces. If they do, they are used to display generic pottery and “art objects.” They replace the quirky things the homeowners loved–and that you couldn’t just go buy at a Pier One, Crate and Barrel or Target–with bland things that designers plotz over because they add a “punch of colour”. Even DVD / VHS tapes get more respect than books.

The good thing is that the redesigned rooms DO generally look a lot better, but your average hotel room also looks better than your average lived-in bedroom.

I remember a couple of shows in particular that really annoyed me. One girl had a “Day of the Dead” skeleton/skull collection. It was pretty keen. It was living on a small shelf, and added a fun touch to the room. The designers took one look and proclaimed it “morbid” and wanted it gone immediately. The homeowner dragged her feet, and was shamed into selling the bulk of it. Except it didn’t sell, so her collection got thrown into a charity van. Another homeowner had been collecting vinyl albums for decades, and a quick glance at them showed a bunch of out-of-print rarities (along with some crap), and he was guilted into selling them and told he could easily replace them with MP3s. Good luck with that, I own a lot of vinyl that is not and will never be released on CD or made available through iTunes or pirate-y peer-to-peer programs. There was a guy who enjoyed playing video games, and the designer said “that’s not something adults do, buddy, get rid of them and grow up,” and I think the professors at my school in the Game Development department would like to have a little word with that designer. Just because he doesn’t play or understand video games (or surfing, or scrapbooking, or computer geekery, or comic book collecting, or whatever hobby they are harshing on at the time) does not make these activities childish or unworthy. How dare they!

I have a friend who collects action figures, nudie girls and folk art, and her own art is rainbow-coloured abstractions with glitter and sequins and found objects and (frankly) trash glued on top, and she surrounds herself with her art and collections, and her house is FUN. It may be cluttered, it may be dusty, but it is unique and interesting. She even painted her sofa rainbow-coloured and it has glitter paint and puffy paint and other oddments, but it makes her happy. What’s so wrong with that? It isn’t my style, it’s her style. If someone tried to guilt or shame her into giving up her toys and nudie girls and vintage sci-fi novels and folk art and ashtrays (no one on these decorating shows smokes, have you noticed that? No one. Ever) and video games and vinyl albums and vintage costumes and action figures, I’d have to go after them with a baseball bat, with or without nails sticking out, and beat them senseless for being arseholes. It’s what makes her happy.

Actually, there is a commercial out lately that irks me for the same reason: the message that what you cherish is not important if it somehow takes up space, is an unusual interest, and/or is “hard” to design around. The bitchy girlfriend in the commercial hates the music-loving “High Fidelity character” boyfriend’s awesome collection of albums, and throws a bitch fit. The boyfriend caves, and replaces all his stuff (supposedly he was able to do this easily and within a mere day or two) with an iPod stereo device. Bitch! I bet she didn’t have to give up a single pair of her shoes (or whatever her most beloved items were). The message is that you are a bad little consumer if you want to hold on to perfectly serviceable old things you love instead of running out to replace them with new technology.

I understand “paring down,” mind you. If you haven’t worn something in a couple of years, it doesn’t hurt to ditch it. Mass-market paperbacks are notorious for taking up a lot of space, and if you can buy it in a grocery store, it probably isn’t a work of great literature that will enrich your life. I would give a molar for a Kindle Fire HD tablet so I could travel without toting sixty pounds of books with me, and it would certainly help with “running out of bookshelf space” problems. One homeowner had twelve full sets of “seasonal dishes,” and I have to say I didn’t get the point of that, either. I can understand everyday china, “company china” and heirloom china, and MAYBE a few holiday pieces, but not twelve full sets of dishes and glassware for twelve people when the family has only three members and a table that seats six, tops. I understand getting rid of stuff that doesn’t work, and which has been kept because the homeowner thinks s/he will eventually repair it. I understand getting rid of scuffed shoes and cheap discount store handbags and huge stuffed animals. However, a lot of the things these house-cleaning crews want to get rid of are one-of-a-kind objects or collections that reveal something about the people who live in the house. I don’t like baby dolls, but if the homeowner collects them, there’s no reason why she has to get rid of all of them just because they are “hard” to design around. Consider it a challenge, instead, and provide tasteful display units.

My other gripe with these home improvement shows are the deliberately evil designers. On “Trading Spaces”, for example, I’ve seen some really horrible room makeovers. Some of the designers like stapling crap to the walls (a wall of moss comes to mind) that doesn’t look that great, and which is going to collect dust and allergens. Some designers feel the need to pick really startling paint colours that look great on television, but are difficult to actually live with, like taxicab yellow living rooms, or baby poo green dining rooms, fluorescent blue-green kitchens, or orange bedrooms. Some designers impose their preferences on the homeowners, so you get homeowners who like ethnic art coming home to Kuntry Kute kitchens (I’d vomit), or homeowners who like shabby chic florals coming home to a super Modern den. Some of the decorative touches are impractical (shattered mirror on walls in homes with small children) or perishable (grass, fresh fruit). They paint wooden furniture and glue tile to painted sheetrock walls and dump quarts of sand all over the floor. They are simply insane sometimes.

I also get grouchy with fashion makeover shows that go beyond correcting fashion faux pas and try to change the personality of the makeover victim. I may not be a rockabilly, or a biker, or a Goth, or into harajuku fashions, but some of the makeover nominees are, and they may not be “fashionable” in the traditional sense, they do have a style. A good makeover show would be able to design around these “counter culture” fashion statements instead of turning the makeover subject into yet another straight-haired, makeup-wearing, get-rid-of-your-glasses and put-on-some-high-heels, Gap/Banana Republic/Old Navy/Hilfiger clone. One gal I thought was cute just the way she was: she had punky black and red hair, cat’s eye specs, tattoos, and a Bettie Page pinup girl wardrobe that suited her personality. They turned her into a tanned, blonde, pearl-wearing Barbie. Did she look good? Well, sure, but she didn’t look like herself anymore. Another gal was into camping and had a job that required her to dress down, and they spent the whole show calling her trashy and dirty, and put her into linen suits and A-line dresses, but the woman still works where she is required to get down on a dirty concrete floor and crawl around, and she still enjoys camping, and I’m not sure how easy it will be for her to go hiking in four-inch heels by Christian Louboutin. (Or whoever.) The hosts bitch if the makeover nominee doesn’t want to get a haircut, or if s/he doesn’t like a particular style, or if they prefer not to wear a lot of makeup. Personally, I have collapsible arches, and while I own some cute shoes, I can’t just wear pointy pumps all the time. Apparently, if I felt the need to suffer for fashion, I could get collagen injections in the balls of my feet and my (non-existent, because I don’t torture my feet out of vanity all the time) corns and bunions, or give my soles a harsh acid peel. All this–none of which is a permanent solution, and each of which costs hundreds of dollars–so I can wear damaging pointy shoes for 2-4 months with less pain? Are they kidding me?

I had to confess that I don’t see the point of shoes or handbags that cost several hundred dollars, so maybe I am not the target audience. Yes, please do buy quality accessories if you can, but do you really need a pair of shoes that cost $800? Or a $3,000 handbag? Seriously? Why?

I am all for organizing, and throwing out crap and clutter, and dressing to suit your lifestyle, body type. I believe in hiding clutter and keeping what you see clean and elegant, and buying quality instead of throwaway crap. I agree that holding on to an old Pooh Bear or a bunch of straw sombreros from a trip you took years ago is probably a bad idea (Pooh Bears are a dime a dozen, and if you aren’t going to wear the damn sombreros ever again, why keep them?), and that no one needs to be defending parachute pants or stuff with holes and stains.

I just don’t like it when these shows try to shove people into a certain mold, or embarrass and shame them to get them to part with their things.

Obnoxious Fans Make Me Want To Go Take A Long Nap

I’m a Serial Obsessive, which means I rarely continue a strong interest in any one topic for more than a few months at a time.  Casual interest in a topic means I don’t quality as being in any particular “fandom,” really. I’m not saying my way of doing things is better or worse than anyone else’s, and having interests and hobbies is not a bad thing, either.

That said, most fandoms simply exhaust me. Been there, did that. I actually do have some t-shirts, too.

Things about fandom that really piss me off:

1. Other people don’t give a crap. Please get other (completely unrelated) interests, so you do not bore everyone.

2. Being a Big Name Fan is a generally empty prize, much like winning the Doesn’t Sweat Much For A Fat Chick gold medal award. Speaking as one who was thrust into BNFness and took years to escape from it, if you have had BNFness thrust upon you, for whatever reason, be it visibility, or knowledge, or active participation within fan circles, don’t let it define your entire being. I do know that you can’t escape from BNFness, whether you want the label or not, unless you withdraw completely from the fandom. Did that.

3. Melodrama about how your fandom saved you from social retardation, illness, mental illness, suicide or self-harm really make me worry about you. Save the drama for your mama.

4. Insisting that you know better than the participants involved (actors in a film, writers of books/scripts/etc., band members, team mates) what “really” happened is delusional. It goes beyond speculative fiction at that point.

5. If you are not twelve, then banding together with socially retarded peers and feeding off of each other’s social retardation to annoy other members of your fandom or outsiders is BAD. Just STAHP, okay? You make non-socially retarded members of your fandom look stupid by association, and it is a sad fact that the loudest and most outspoken fandom members are typically those with the fewest other interests in life, and the most free time.

6. Feeling jealous rather than happy for peers who have had an enjoyable fan experience you wish you had experienced is childish.

7. Sock puppetry for fun and profit is the sign that you are taking your hobby FAR too seriously. You are not “more right” if you and all twenty of your alter egos show up to argue that you are right.

8. Refusing to acknowledge any flaws your fandom or objects of interest in your fandom might have is silly and a way of avoiding critical thought and perspective. Example: “Arena” was embarrassing. Sane Duran Duran fans acknowledge this. Insane ones think it is high art because it has a reference to a softcore French comic book that was later a film. Ooh. Art.

9. Shipping in general is tiresome to me, but that is a personal gripe. If the writers put a couple together, I accept it. If they don’t, I accept it. I don’t spend a lot of time poking at the possibility. In fact, I generally dislike situations that make a big deal about relationships. Example: X Files jumped the shark when Chris Carter pandered to Philes and got Mulder and Scully to hook up and breed.

10. A real person’s sexual inclination and preference isn’t really cool to speculate about unless it is generally known and discussed by said person. Example: No, Merry Whosits is not secretly sucking Frodo’s toes behind a bush in Chapter Twelve. Or in the trailers between takes. “Gandalf”, however, has a truly hot real life boyfriend. It is entirely possible there was some hot boy on boy lurve in the Wizard’s Winnebago occasionally.

11. If a character is supposed to be 12, what possesses you to spend hours lovingly sketching him or her having sex with an adult and not seeing that there may be a slight problem with this? If nothing else, it is distasteful. Quick guideline: can you show this to your grandmother and your pastor (or imam or rabbi, or whatever)? It’s probably not okay to upload to Teh Intarweeblez. Srsly. What’s your motivation for this, if not to titillate someone (if only yourself)? Which is gross. And illegal.

12. Characters are not paper dolls that you can write absolutely anything about. Well, you can’t do it convincingly or well. Also, spelling, grammar, punctuation, paragraph breaks, plot, characterization, showing rather than telling and lack of cliches are all required in GOOD writing. They are not optional.

13. Mary Sue and Gary Stu can go get bent.

14. Lack of well-roundedness in life, when reflected in obsessive fandom-ness, can make you boring. There are things outside of your fandom ‘verse. Truly. A sense of perspective is useful in life. Enjoy your fandom. Just give it a rest once in a blue moon.

15. Just because you want something to be true, it does not make it true.

16. Speculation and satisfaction with said speculation is no substitute for actual research, logic, and, when appropriate, canon.

17. Don’t expect outsiders to understand fandom-specific slang, acronyms, band member names, footnotes, the name of the gaffer on the set, your favourite character’s girlfriend’s birthdate, and so on. Why would outsiders care? Conversely, don’t be surprised if an outsider does happen to know some of the Sacred Secret Insider Information, as s/he probably saw the same TV show / website / interview you did.

18. Do not tattoo your fandom on your body. It is unkind to name your children after your fandom. Example: If your dog is named after a Hobbit or a Jedi, do not be surprised if Obi-Wan the poodle bites you.

19. Tips for writers: “Rape” is not a synonym for being 100% willing and OK with being talked into having sex so you don’t feel guilty or dirty because you have some prudery issues or whatever. It is, however, rape is someone says no or is unable to consent.

20. Tips for writers: “Incest” is not healthy or sexy or titillating. Family members who are close do not inevitably secretly desire to have sexual intercourse with each other.

21. Tips for writers: Even if two characters you find attractive are gender- and sexual-preference-appropriate for each other, that does not automatically mean they “should” hook up. If they are not sexual-preference-appropriate partners, bending the laws of space and time to make them bi or gay when they are not is not “being gay positive,” it is called “having a sexual kink that is sparked by writing or reading about fictional people getting it on”.

22. Tips for writers: Relying on death, sex, or soap opera plots to insert Dramatic Tension in your story is rarely going to result in a fine result. It’s been done to death, it’s been done very badly, and there are other ways to construct plot and dramatic tension and excitement into a story.

23. Tips for writers: Mixed metaphors, especially inserting quotes from another obsession or fandom ‘verse into your writing, is generally a bad idea. Strive to be original and to speak in your own voice when writing, without neglecting the natural voice and character development set forth in canon for your borrowed characters. NOTE: Crossover fic has its own rules, but it is still a good idea to remain true to the various established personalities and ‘voices’ of your borrowed characters.

24. If cosplay is part of your fandom, glamour bombing and freaking the mundanes is an attention-seeking ploy that makes your fandom peers look bad by association. Try to restrict your urge to run around like a vampire or fox person to your private gathering spot.

25. If you are a furry, don’t bother non-furries or try to win converts, and, for god’s sake, please don’t mongle your dog.

I’m just sayin’, man.

I could go on, but I’m getting repetitive.