Sunday, July 8, 2012

Quick Hits

I just got back from seeing Twitter phenom Rob Delaney perform stand-up and it was a great time. I'm not just saying that because the first words out of his mouth were to point out the Sleep t-shirt I was wearing which sent him on an anecdote about writing a letter to Glenn Danzig as a child. Or the fact that he's a very handsome man who rocked a Kyuss t-shirt in a room full of plaid hipsters and young professionals. (The guy sitting next to me was wearing slippers. Legit slippers. How I got through the show without putting him in a headlock and driving his skull into the stage I'll never know.) Or the fact that he spent about an hour talking about how much he loves women, boobies, vaginas, buttles and all the wonderful things he can do to them in a consensual sexual context. He's just a flat out great comedian.

First thing you should know: homeboy loves women. All of them. Not in a creepy, misogynist way either. When he talks about sticking his face in a woman's nether regions and motorboating it like a guy in the middle of a violent seizure, it's not coming from a place of objectification, it's coming from a place of real love. In fact, just about all of his stories come from a place of genuine enthusiasm: his wife, his kid, his penis, Serena Williams, all of it.

If you spend enough time around stand-up comedy you can start to get a sense of the comedian's rhythm: set-up, punchline, pause, tag. That sort of thing. If I had to describe Rob's style it would be: set-up, punchline, punchline, punchline, punchline. He's great at raising the stakes and wringing every bit of laughter out of a premise. It helped that this was a genuinely good crowd at a good venue who were really into the performer and the material. If anyone left that show unsatisfied, it's not on Rob.

He's apparently just recently filmed a special that will be released later this year. Keep an eye out because it's good stuff.


In the video game world, I'm splitting my time between Lollipop Chainsaw, Dragon's Dogma, and an Insane difficulty run on Mass Effect 3 as well as some Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. There's a lot to say about Lollipop Chainsaw and Dragon's Dogma so I'll have articles up about them at length sometime in the near future. I'm currently working 60 hours of mandatory overtime at work this month so my free time is severely limited.

On the news front, I'm finding the story that Gearbox Software has decided not to add female characters to the multiplayer for their upcoming shooter Aliens: Colonial Marines very interesting. Apparently there will be female characters in the single-player but they'll be absent in the multiplayer.

Looking back at my previous articles, female representation in video games is something I'm a lot more interested in than I would have thought. I can't remember ever having a discussion about misogyny in the gaming industry with people in real life. Nonetheless, women are a solid and growing demographic that regularly gets short shrift from guys in the industry whose idea of women is... well, let's just say "naive."

There's no reason to believe that Gearbox is doing this with malicious intent. In fact, their justification is still pretty hazy right now. It could be a matter of time, lack of interest, or perhaps not wanting to risk the perception of violence against women being okay. If it's the later, they may just need a nudge to recognize that violence against women in video games is only questionable if it's mostly women who are the focus of the violence. Gearbox has always been a very solid developer with a track record of quality. Every woman I've ever gamed with has the potential to be every bit as bloodthirsty as the dudes. There's really no reason to mollycoddle or segregate them. If you've ever been in the lobby of a Call Of Duty game, the loud, whiny, obnoxious dudes are the ones you should be looking out for, not women.

To that end, I've been organizing some low level Twitter bombs to try and get Gearbox's attention. There's already a petition out there to be signed and the story has gained a bit of traction on the major gaming news sites. There's really nothing to be gained from not acquiescing, so hopefully either female characters will be available by launch day or as DLC after the fact. Because, honestly, where the hell would the Aliens franchise be without women anyway? Ripley and Vasquez alone are more bad ass then all of the men in the series combined.

You can get more information about the story here:

You can also contact Gearbox directly here:

Or on Twitter here:


Since I've been at work more than usual, I've been listening to a lot more music than usual too. I was lucky enough to see Southern Lord's Black Breath/Martyrdod/Burning Love/Enabler show a couple weeks (unfortunately missing the El-P/Killer Mike/Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire show as a result) back and was totally blown away by Toronto's Burning Love. They played so hard that a dude in the front row stroked out and had to be taken away in an ambulance as a result. At least, that's what I choose to believe caused it.

Burning Love is a punk band featuring vocals from Chris Colohan of cult legends Cursed and holy fucking shit their second record, Rotten Thing To Say, is the best punk record I've heard in years. So much music in that genre is just empty rhetoric and simplistic fist-pumping that when something like this band comes along it retroactively makes other music I listen to seem shitty by comparison.

The lyrics are dense and thoughtful, the music is intense and they aren't afraid of the occasional guitar solo. This track, "Hateful Comforts," is my favorite. It's been on regular rotation since the show:

Also in regular rotation has been Tokyo Jihen, a project headed by Japanese pop star Shiina Ringo. She's one of the rare pop stars in any country who can make a case for being an actual artist rather than a pretty girl with a decent voice pulling a paycheck by singing the same songs over and over again. Compare her recent Tokyo Jihen stuff to her early pop songs and she's clearly come miles since then. There's still a strong jazz and punk influence to her work that comes through.

There's also the new Aesop Rock album, Skelethon, that's due out on Tuesday. I liked the initial video he released, "Zero Dark Thirty," but this new track "ZZZ Top" just nails it. The video is pretty great as well... kung fu, throwing knives and baseball bats. Man, that beat just kills me.

And, finally, there's the mighty Baroness. People are apparently a little worried that they've gone in a more rock and roll direction since Blue Record but that's a load of bull. The band has more than proved themselves worthy of changing and evolving their sound. They were always a little too idiosyncratic to be a straight "metal" band anyway. If the rest of their double album, Yellow & Green, is anything as good as this, then the fairweather fans are more than welcome to suck it:

Hopefully, I'll have an article up in the next week or so about Lollipop Chainsaw or Dragon's Dogma.

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