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Remember when I bought a big disc of a buncha Kirby games? I needed something fluffy after Nier Automata, so that came out and I started playing.

Kirby's Dream Land, being a Game Boy game, takes about an hour start to finish. It's pretty good though. There's a lot of personality (Kirby totally derailed my train of thought when I paused and he started doing stretches while the rest of the game was frozen), it's just a fun and gentle game.

I unlocked an "Extra Mode" by beating it but I dunno if I'm gonna do that. I already had a tough time against King Dedede, or King Desmond Difficultyspike Duck as I refer to him.

Mostly it's weird seeing all the pieces of what I know comes together. This enemy uses a beam attack, but you can't copy it yet. That's not gonna happen for a few years. Come back later.

My only problem is that now that I've beaten the game, when I try to access it again from the Dream Collection menu, it's stuck on the ending screen that tells you how to open Extra Mode. Uhm.

...hopefully I'll work that out in the future.
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It is of course a well-known fact that if you establish a residence near an existing cartoon, there's the exciting chance of being allowed to guest-cameo on said 'toon and perhaps eventually get a spinoff show of your own. This is why Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, and Taz-Mania had so many characters: Taz alone had at least a dozen close neighbors in proximity and guests kept cropping up.

I was therefore on a boat, sailing down a string of islands looking for a house to call my own that bordered tight on an existing 'toon. Except Cartoon Network had been through, so all of the good locations had already been taken, used, and canceled. Which was really irritating, because I'd swing the boat towards a nice looking place and oops no wait that's where Sheep in the Big City lives, they're in retirement and nobody's gonna produce a cartoon on top of that anymore.

No particular ending to that dream, it sort of dissolved into a mess of "Hey, remember the Kung Fu Creatures gag from Garfield and Friends?" and ... then I woke up, because leg cramp.

Wonder where all the new cartoons live. Maybe there's a Netflix Apartments I should try to sneak into, next dream.
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Title: When Good Men Behave Badly: Change Your Behaviour, Change Your Relationships

Author: David B. Wexler, Ph.D.

ISBN: ISBN-13 978-1-57224-346-0

Type: Fixer

 

Summary: 

“When Good Men Behave Badly” focuses on men’s feelings of helplessness, powerlessness, and perceived threats to identity that can lead to acting badly in otherwise good men with good values, who want to make good choices instead of being emotionally hijacked by their limbic system. It offers these men acknowledgement and an understanding of their emotional life with the goal of equipping them with new behavioural options.

CONTENT WARNING: This book contains examples of domestic violence and examples of derogatory language

 

Presentation Style

This is a self-help book for middle-aged, white, cis-men written by a middle-aged, white, cis-man. On the one hand, this framing is useful because this to create a tone of (white) men talking to (white) men about shared experiences which may be difficult for women (and others) to have sympathy for when they are on the receiving end of the described bad behaviour. On the other hand, the advice is very binary oriented (men and women only), heteronormative (heterosexual and monogamous assumptions), and doesn’t discern between different groups of men (one size fits all *sigh*). It doesn’t specifically state that it is about white men, but with a white man on the cover… it doesn’t do anything to move away from white men as the default. I’m agender, I don’t exist in this book.

Speaking of the cover… I hate it. My edition has a white man in a dress shirt holding flowers behind his back. My mind jumps to the assumption that the man is in the “doghouse”. A focus group somewhere may have determined that this is brilliant marketing, but it makes me cringe. The irony of the cover is that the book warns of the importance of perception by telling the story of one of the author’s clients, who had a great session with him, but never returned to therapy after the author recommended a book that had the phrase “verbal abuse” in the title.[1]

“When Good Men Behave Badly” is a relatively short book (199 pages + references) that overviews and introduces a selection of ideas, explanations, exercises, and suggestions. It uses examples heavily (see content warning) and fiction examples which may be dated (I don’t recognize most of them, but that didn’t make much of a difference to understanding). This is introductory material. If you want to go into the topics in depth you will have to follow up with other material [2] or seek out a therapist familiar with men’s issues.

 

Chapter Breakdown:

1. Good Men and Broken Mirrors — Introduces mirroring, broken mirrors, and twinning through the concept of selfobjects (someone or something that helps us feel cohesive). How the broken mirror experience can trigger acting out. 

2. The Power of Women — What men are taught [by toxic masculinity] to expect from women and how emotional dependancy on women for missing needs can lead to resentment or withdrawal, and a perception that they have power over men.

3. Fathers and Sons: Curses and Blessings — How fathers may expect sons to be positive mirrors, react to them as broken mirrors when they don’t measure up, and what this does to boys. 

4. Midlife, Affairs, and Projections —What people do when there is a gap between what is and what they expected in their life. This talks about self-awareness, distress tolerance, taking responsibility and how these can help when it feels like something is missing.

5.  Men’s Brains —What it is like to be hijacked by your limbic system and the effects of anger. Some strategies for dealing with these.

6. Odysseus, Relational Heroism, and Imaginary Crimes — How to be a Relational Hero through self-awareness, preparation, and doing things differently. How to let go of Imaginary Crimes.

7. Guy Talk —How men talk to themselves and other men, and how that sets the frame for behaviour.

8. What Women Can Do —For those women who read the book, a short chapter on dealing with men (and raising boys) within the context of the author’s “good men” hypothesis with some concrete “try these” ideas. It also recognizes that there are men who are dangerous and not just behaving badly.

 

My Opinion:

This is a book about how toxic masculinity fucks over men.

 

“When Good Men Behave Badly” presents itself mainly as a relationship repair guide, but it is more about how men can have better relationships with themselves through self-awareness, emotional regulation, and understanding the influences of masculinity in themselves… improved romantic and family relationships is a (very positive) side-effect of being able to navigate one’s internal landscape without being capsized or swamped. I think it is important to healing and growth that men have acknowledgement of their feelings of helplessness, powerlessness, and missing needs, and I like that this book acknowledges this as something that women do for men while at the same time pointing out that disowning responsibility for those needs ultimately undermines the ability to get them met. I like that the author manages to navigate recognizing the subjective reality of these feelings while disassembling the idea that it is women’s job (and men are helpless) to emotionally regulate men. The author strongly believes in men’s positive ability to learn how to regulate and manage their emotional needs well. 

 

That said, as an agender person who is regularly misgendered as a woman, I’m struggling to find a way to get this book into the hands of the men I think who would benefit from it (possibly even enjoy it), without giving the impression that I think they are broken and harmful people. The book goes in a much different direction than that, but that doesn’t matter if first impressions means they don’t get past the cover.[3] Even beyond the usual problems with giving self-help books to people[4], I think it may be especially difficult, due to the topic, for a woman to give this book to a man without it being potentially perceived (accurately or inaccurately) as shaming. That is unfortunate.   

 

I think, therefore, that this is a book for men to read and then share with other men in an act of twinship mirroring. 

 

-------------------------------

Footnotes:

[1] One of Wexler’s areas of specialty is domestic abuse. He has a number of other books on the topic as well as a book about men in therapy, which (according to the blurb I read) apparently does deal with groups of men other than white cis-men. 

 

[2] Such as the work of Terrence Real (author of “I Don’t Want To Talk About It” a book on male depression) which is quoted and referenced in this book. 

 

[3] Being known as someone who reads a staggering number of self-help/psychology books does help diffuse this “I’m giving this to you because you’re broken” vibe, but still… “Hey! I found this fabulous book on [insert taboo topic here] that I think you will love and get lots out of!” isn’t a great party topic for most people. My friends have figured out how to run with it, but they are also used to seeing books on conflict or trauma (for example) on my coffee table.

 

[4] Self-help books don’t make good gifts folks. They are specifically aimed at fixing people and giving them will *always* have an underlying message that needs to be managed. I love self-help books but there are books on my shelf that just sit there unread specifically because of the framing of their gifting. 

 

Disclaimer: I am not a therapist, a doctor, or a professional reviewer. I do, however, own and enjoy reading a staggering number of self-help books and I have opinions. Lots of opinions. One of these opinions is that the underlying assumptions in “self-improvement” and “self-help” books should be unpacked. These reviews may or may not do that, but I will try to acknowledge both some of the potentially useful and potentially problematic aspects of the books I review. 

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Code: Realize ~ Guardian of Rebirth is one of those sprawling multiple-route otome ("man-dating") visual novels. They gave this one away for the Vita on Playstation Plus (uhm-?) months ago and I was playing it quite avidly ... sometime in January? I remember it was before we moved to this current apartment...

VNs live and die based on their characterizations and storylines, and... this one is pretty strong. It helped a lot that instead of a sort of "Your Character Here" main character, we got Cardia. Cardia is a girl who lives alone in a run-down mansion because she is literally straight-up acidic poison to anyone she touches. Like her actual touch melts through metal kind of acid.

For the first chapter or two she's rather passive and moody, but around Chapter 3 (of 13 per route) she gets a change of outfits and she starts actively participating in things.

From there she goes straight-up action heroine in a couple of routes. Lock Cardia in a room and leave her unattended? She'll melt off the lock and kick the door down. Door is treated alchemically to be unmeltable? She's learned to lockpick from Arsene Lupin. Turn your back on her? She knows kung-fu. She can co-pilot an airship and she's never really treated like the group's waif. Everyone treats her like the person she wants to be, instead of the monster she thinks herself to be.

I found Cardia deeply refreshing and she's maybe my favorite character in this thing, which is great because no matter which guy's route she was on I was cheering for her happiness, instead of thinking "Man I wish I was on that other dude's route, he was so much better".

There was a little of that though. 8 of those chapters are identical aside from the "Today I want to go with (GUY YOU ARE PURSUING)"/"I think (GUY YOU ARE PURSUING) has the best suggestion" forks, so you get a long common route to introduce and set up everyone and then it goes into personal stories.

Uh, let's meet our lineup.

ARSINE LUPIN - Gentleman thief, the first guy to be introduced and the last one to unlock a proper plotline. Lupin's route is tough because it has to be a strong canonical ending AND resolve every loose plot thread involving Lupin AND resolve all Cardia's business AND because it's the final route unlocked it has to deal with the shit that came up in everyone ELSE'S route, so there is SURPRISINGLY little time for actual LUPIN in the Lupin route, so the WEIRD thing is that Lupin on this route path actually feels like he has less personality than he does on OTHER PEOPLE'S. I cannot account for that. Whatever. Lupin is all bluster and pride and thiefly ways.

IMPEY BARBICANE - Engineer of hearts and also steamships, ornithopters, secret weapons, you name it he can build it. Impey is Lupin's partner and an incurable romantic who swoons over Cardia at first sight and spends the rest of the VN either A: flirting with her desperately, B: being the butt of everyone else's jokes, or... interestingly, C: once you're locked into other people's routes and it's clear he has no chance with you Impey pivots and becomes the loudest possible cheerleader for Cardia and her chosen. His route is all about Jules Verne SUPERSCIENCE and AIRSHIPS and CHASING YOUR DREAMS and MAKING FUN of CAPTAIN NEMO. He's the light and fluffy character and probably my favorite of the entire crew. I like Impey.

ABRAHAM VAN HELSING - The guy who wears little glasses and goes "Hmf." a lot and is scary-ass prepared in combat. Hero of the Vampire Wars, wields twin shotguns, is basically a weapon in human form. It's hard to warm up to Van Helsing because he does not warm up to anyone else, but there are hints he cares. I think one of his unlockable CG illustrations is just him doing a tiny-ass little smile. His route is all about his PTSD over vampire genocide and also about stopping Jack the Ripper and other serial killers from terrorizing Steampunk London, so hey if you like lots of blood BOY HOWDY we got a route for you.

VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN - Yeah I know, but this one's just an Alchemist. No giant corpse-men in sight. Frankenstein is the shy dude with a soft voice and a soft touch and a DARK SECRET IN HIS PAST and yeah that's an archetype. He is probably my second favorite character in this thing. His route is about his DARK SECRET PAST and also about Queen Victoria going completely bugnuts and trying to start a megawar for British expansion. As one does.

SAINT GERMAINE - nnnnnhhhhh I just did not like this dude that much. He's the "always has his eyes closed, always has a little smile, is fake as hell" archetype and when his secrets start spilling out they just DERAIL this plot into a spiral of "What the hell. Really. What the hell. Why. Really?" ... so I can't say anything about his route because it's just... so many miles out into left field that it makes this sound like a TOTALLY DIFFERENT DAMN GAME. And Lupin's route cements that yeah all of that is canon so ... nnhhhhhh I dunno whatever.

ANYWAY I really got into this one even if it did take me the better part of the year to complete. Distractions and all, y'know. I realize all that crap up there doesn't make a lick of sense without the game, but I'm half-asleep and have been plinking at this all night so ... butt noises whatever I'm done writing.

Good VN. Had fun.

[EDIT] - Oh right also this is getting an anime adaptation this October! I hear otome VN anime adaptations are kind of ass most of the time, because A: It's hard to compress five routes into 12 episodes and B: in a visual novel your heroine can stand at a window and monologue to herself in 69,105 lines of text about her situation but in an anime you have to trim that down to her eyes half-closing as she says "I wonder..." and then smashcut to end credits.

But there is the chance we will see an animated version of the Van Helsing Cannon.

So it may not be any good but I'm gonna watch it anyway.
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If I talk too much about Nier Automata, I will inevitably convulse violently and let out a stream of raw emotions peppered with giant-ass spoilers. It is a difficult game to talk about, but it's a difficult game NOT to talk about.

So...

Nier, the original, may be what I consider the strongest game ever made. Not the best or most fun or anything like that, although it DOES have one of the best soundtracks in gaming. I mean it overwhelmed me with emotions and feelings and all kinds of things. It is the 'most game' in my personal history. The gamest.

Nier Automata is not better than Nier, or stronger, or more fun. It is different in many ways and similar in many ways, and by the time I was up to the second ending I liked Nier more, and by the time I was finishing ending E I was in big blanketing sheets of tears and my hands were shaking and I was just so intensely, powerfully grateful that I live in a time when games like this are being made.

I don't know if I will ever play it again, but it affected me deeply and will stay in my memories a long, long time. In this it is like the game that came before it.

It is something very special.

I hope they keep giving Yoko Taro work.

Anime Night Notes

11 Sep 2017 02:26
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So because I'm playing kind of a rough game (Nier Automata, a game about pushing all your emotions into a pile and setting them on fire) and the BF's been distant since we spend most of our time in separate rooms (not purposely, it's just how the apartment is laid out) we've decided to set at least one night aside a week to sit out in the living room and watch some anime.

I don't watch a lot of it anymore because I'm usually too busy with games, so I picked some stuff off Crunchyroll to make a queue with and off we went.

We have some stuff already in the queue...

- Log Horizon
- Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
- Maoyu
- Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Season 2
- Ace Attorney: The Anime

but we decided to go for a run of all episode 1s this time. I've jotted down my thoughts on what we watched beneath the cut.

This cut here. )

So it turns out everything we picked was a success! Now we just have to get back into the other shows we were watching, too.
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By the end this got a little tedious, but then it was a very long dungeon crawler. Before I started playing this I noticed that the BF had racked up about 90-some hours by playing the Early Access version. (I won't play an early access game no matter how good it is, if I can help it.) That should've been my clue that this was going to be A: pretty long, and B: pretty good.

It was both, really. Amusing writing, good mechanics, strong clear interface. I haven't played a dungeon crawler this sharp since Etrian Odyssey Untold, although that was a rather harder game.

Actually, this one started out quite difficult (I assume because of my class choices, I picked four of the eight in-game classes and stuck with them) and got easier. By the endgame I was basically untouchable due to my build and weapons. When I said in the comments of the last post that there was a scarcity of healing... well, my builds were kinda messed up I suppose. There ARE ways to heal and regen if you ferret them out. My Soldier was regenning big chunks of her health every time she taunted enemies, and The Prototype was tossing out regens with haiku, and my little Chaos Muffin's armor had a "heal if you..." condition that I kept triggering...

I just had a really good time with this one, good enough that I kind of want to go through again with a party composed of the OTHER four classes someday.

Not right now, but someday.

Friday Five

8 Sep 2017 11:18
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1) What makes you unique?
I think the sum of everything that is me. There's not a specific one thing that does the trick, but the combination of traits, habits, skills...

2) What are you really good at?
Daydreaming. LOL Really? No idea. I'm good at a fair number of things, but I don't know which to name here as better than others.

3) What are your best character traits?
I'd like to think humour and reliability. Others might have a different opinion.

4) What character traits do you need to work on?
Being more social? Yeah. Whatever you call that trait. I'm still a hermit at heart, people are scary. Is "social bravery" a thing? Hmm...

5) What are some of your idiosyncrasies?
Had to look that one up, idiosyncrasy, and yet I'm not sure what to name. Sounds too much like a technical term.
Is the fact that I am not a visual person an idiosyncrasy? I react strongly to audio-input, listening is my strongest sense. Oh, and how about this: My brain comes up with songs to the most stupid situations or topics without me consciously looking for one. Goes with the audio/listening thing. Music leaves a major impression on me. Everything works better with music and a good laugh.
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