Category Archives: Pop Culture

A Sellout – You Don’t Know What They Are and You Might Be One

By Doc Von Derwin

I remember the first time I heard the word ’sellout’. I was in middle school and my older brother and I were having a discussion of the classic American Film Employee of the Month starting Dane Cook. My brother regarded Dane Cook as a sellout because he wasn’t the funniest character in the movie. I thought it was strange at the time but didn’t really understand why. Some years later, he and I were taking a deep perspective look into Saving Woodstock with America’s sweetheart Dimitri Martin. After I told him that the film was not a comedy, he eloquently replied with: “So he sold out like Dane Cook?”. Again, I was totally lost on what he meant but didn’t understand what was causing me discomfort. Since he was the older brother, he had to be right after all. So I started trying to identify sellouts as they started to appear. A Queens of the Stone Age song on a T-Mobile commercial? Sellouts! Ben Affleck in a romantic comedy? Sellout. Anything that Nickelback performed? Sellouts! Now that years have past and I’ve started reading books that weren’t written by R.L. Stine or Limoney Snicket, I figured out that I have been wrong the whole time.

You have to start by identifying what a sellout really is. A sellout is someone who compromise their current beliefs for opposing or conflicting beliefs for payment or benefit. Essentially, someone who will say or endorse anything for the right price. Some of you might be thinking that certain bands are sellouts because they started as indie coffee shop heroes and turned into global commercial success, with their new stuff not being pure as their old stuff. They sold their musical integrity to become famous, right? But bad music isn’t a sign of selling out. It’s a sign that artist has evolved into something else, often because their original music was fueled by being an artist who has a lot of stress and fears about where their next meal is going to come from but but when they’re rich and famous, that sort of fuel is gone and they need something else to drive them. Nickelback didn’t sellout for money, they’ve always been a terrible band appealing to the lowest common denominator.

Demetri Martin and Dane Cook weren’t sellouts for doing those movies I mentioned earlier. They were making business transactions in the pursuit of being actors. The more they act, the more work they get and with big movie productions it’s not like they have creative control in the movies they’re on. Its is similar to the Queens of the Stone Age where the music production company are probably the ones who greenlighted T-Mobile using their song in a commercial.

The people who are sellouts are largely people who want to make the most money they can get. A person who can hate what their business does but still do it for the sake of the paycheck. We don’t know artists or actors personally so we can’t call them sellouts. The only sellouts we can really label are ourselves. So ask yourself, are you a sellout?

How Video Games Make You a Quantum Physicist

By Doc Von Derwin

Video games are often regarded as a waste of time, despite being a billion dollar economy-boosting industry that provides escapism in the same manner as movies and music, and which I would argue qualify as an art form. But beneath the entertaining surface, behind every compelling zombie apocalypse narrative and bullet-time slow motion headshot, there is a hidden experiment that can be found in almost every video game that makes the player a quantum theorist.

Let’s point to one of my favorite games, Bioshock: Infinite (if you have not played this, go do that now and let me know what you think, I genuinely want to know). Bioshock: Infinite uses quantum theory to explain the plot, the setting (a floating city), and the existence of its gameplay mechanics. A pair of scientists discover the ability to create tears through time and space, which leads to the discovery of alternate timelines and – in a manner of speaking – time travel. As they groove through time and space like a 1912 version of Bill and Ted, they end up bestowing a main character, Elizabeth, with the ability to create tears at will, allowing her to bring weapons or machines to a location instantaneously. As we find out, those items already exist at that location in a different reality; she is not conjuring them up out of thin air but rather is opening up a tear to another reality and meshing it with their current one.

Here is a bit on Quantum Theory. The idea of Quantum Theory is that there are infinite timelines with infinite possibilities. These timelines diverge over any action, such that there is a timeline where I do not write this article and read a book instead. When I play the lottery with a one in a million chances of winning, I exist in a reality where I lose, but there is one reality where I win despite losing in 999,999 other realities. Bioshock uses this to explain how the main character, Booker, is able to die in combat then come back. We see one Booker die by making the wrong decision in combat which leads to his death, then are moved to another reality where Booker makes different decisions that lead to victory. The death of Booker ends the timeline entirely, so we continue the rest of the game in another timeline where Booker is still alive and able to move the plot forward. What the makers of the game probably did not intend is for this to be able to apply to all games.  Every time Master Chief dies in Halo, we jump to a different timeline and continue the plot but with different actions.

In addition to Bioshock’s accidental explanation of save points in video games, the theory can also connect games in an interesting way. All games can technically exist in the same universe, but the players see only a particular section of a particular timeline which has been generated by certain actions. With The Last of Us, we see a timeline where cordyceps cause a brain infection in humans thus creating the fall of civilization, while Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare demonstrates a reality where that didn’t happen and the characters from the Last of Us are living happy normal lives. As I run through the depiction of Seattle in Infamous: Second Son, I am seeing an alternate version of Seattle because the existence of superheroes changed ideas of architecture. This is why it looks nothing like downtown Seattle.

This further gives meaning to why we play games. Somewhere across all the infinite universes is a timeline where the video game we are playing is a reality, meaning you are experiencing a real world scenario. Games are preparing you for a potential reality and arming you with the extra knowledge you need to stop the Covenant from destroying planet Earth. Games that are set in the past are like timeline history lessons, where we get to learn from the errors of focusing more energy on nuclear technology like in the Fallout series, or the advantages of a new evolutionary track where Bandicoots are better than humans at out-running boulders and are allowed to be named Crash. So the next time anyone dismisses video games as a waste of time, you can tell them you’re actually a quantum theorist and you like to be prepared.

How Boy Meets World Depressed Me


By Alexander Pereira

Television, books, video games and Taylor Swift’s first album lied about Romance and dating to all of us. We were promised and taught to expect a certain type of future that was so incredibly unrealistic that it’s amazing any of us would’ve been stupid enough to fall for it. Except I did. This is what it did to me.

I’m an unfortunate mix of the bitter cynic, chronically shy person and a hopeless romantic all jumbled into a great bundle of angst and social awkwardness. I grew up with my head wedged deeply between the pages of Tolkien and Tamora Pierce, of Fantasy and Science Fiction with its might heroes and star-struck romances. I took to the idea of being a fantasy knight seriously. True love and fate became a part of my expectations for life in a way that still affect how I approach romance to this day. That stuff? Not really that bad. It makes things like casual dating or the idea of casual sex really hard to stomach for me personally but I don’t feel like it’s hurt me, just put me in hard mode.

The stuff I really want to talk about is the nonsense television shows like Kim Possible, Lizzie McGuire, and Boy Meets World ingrained in younger me. Those shows all promised you that no matter how awkward and social weird you were; you could find your soulmate in high school. Even more importantly, that soulmate was your attractive best girl/boy friend who you’ve known forever. The lessons were that you both know you like each other but neither of you wants to admit it. So I came to expect that the path to true happiness was to realize my soulmate was that best friend I’d grown up, fall in love with her, date through college with a series of sickeningly adorable adventures, get married after graduation and have 2.5 kids by the time we were 28. Simple. Easy. It’s exactly what everything society was saying happened after all. Now, I don’t know if I’m just an idiot or if this happened to a bunch of us but I got really invested in this model for life. I knew in my bones that I was destine for a story of true love and early life bliss. Everything would be perfect and we’d choose our colleges together, figure out our careers and build our life together. I became so married to this idea I could hardly conceive of a world where this wasn’t my life.

It goes without saying that this plan for a perfect life didn’t happen. It didn’t even come close. The first real love of mine broke up with me after three months (summer time fling), and we spent our entire senior year of High school sniping and claw at each other. It took us years to figure out what it meant to be friends and not ex’s and work through the anger and hurt but eventually we figured out how to be friends. We’re best of friends now. – Yes if you’re wondering, I wrote really bad angst blog posts and some fiction about it too here go check it out:  — This shocking state of affairs left me genuinely feeling like something was broken with me. It was as if I wasn’t a proper person because I didn’t have the same romantic arc of Lizzie and Gordon; Ron and Kim; or Cory and Topanga. I just knew that since I didn’t find that perfect happiness in high school, I’d lost that entire future forever. No family, no adorable daughter or beautiful woman to come home too (or hell, to have come home to me). Not even the white picket fence. I was heartbroken and I started panicking as I rolled into my freshman year of University because I didn’t know what my life was supposed to look like anymore. I thought my life couldn’t have meaning any more. There is another post to be told about me dealing with the depression I faced, and may still face, through my freshman year of university but I know for a fact that this helped contribute to it.

The older me, looking back at that time is really glad things worked out the way they have. I’ve seen a few classmates marry the high school sweethearts and it feels myopic. Like the people of Plato’s Cave ignore the existence of an outside world. Not that I don’t harbor a quiet mourning for that childhood dream but I know I’m a better me for having had to grow past it. I thought for years that I was the kind of person who’d be happy staying in the same town for ever. I thought about how wonderful it would be to raise my future kids in the same place. I’ve been slowly learning that this isn’t true. That I’m not actually someone who enjoys stagnation like that. I have a tendency to let myself become stagnated but I don’t enjoy it.

I’m also thankful that I didn’t end up falling in love with my childhood best friend because guess what? We’d have been (still would be) an awful couple. The things I’ve learned I need from a partner and the things I know she needs don’t remotely match. This post-knowledge didn’t keep me from confusing genuine, almost familial, affection toward her for romantic feelings several times over the years though. Every time I realized I was trying to force a square peg into the round hole of my expectations before I genuinely damaged our relationship but it was a near thing at times.

I’ve moved beyond the expectations for a high school soulmate, for obvious reasons of course, but I’ve also managed to uncouple my sense of self-worth and identity from the ideal.  I’ve become self-aware enough to figure out where other unrealistic expectations are come from. Things that Romantic Comedies have hammered in with their stalking ideation or even the idea that College is a sexual banquet for everyone. That last one did its own number on my ideas of self-worth but I’m running out of space. I’ve very careful to be mindful the media I consume, especially as we move in on Valentine’s Day because I know it can still knock me into a depressive cycle. I don’t like being single and the upcoming deluge of happy couples and “only couples are complete people” is always dangerous. For all of you, I hope this made you feel a little less alone.

Operation Respec

By Alexander Pereira

Welcome to January! The month of new beginnings – well on the Gregorian Calendar, which is just the Roman Calendar with some holidays renamed. Other culture’s calendars may beg to differ – Sorry my anthro major got away from me…. Where was I? Oh right, the Month of the New Beginnings, a clean break from the slothful you of last year and a fresh healthy start… until March. And then everyone sorta just goes back to what they were doing before. I’m not making fun of them, not really. I’ve certainly been guilty of doing the same thing, going to the gym takes effort. Eating healthy is just so… so… well you know. All of which is to say, hey I’m taking advantage of this mental and temporal ‘fresh start’ myself! If you’re a fan of the podcast, you’ve heard me talk a bit about this on episodes 14 and 15 [Links] but I’m going to set it in stone, as it were, here.

Operation Respec is about me, Alexander Pereira, making myself into a better version of me, the version I want to be. This is bigger than a weight loss goal, or aiming to run a 5k, although holy crap if you can do that I worship you.

For years I’ve felt like I’m not quite the person who I am in my self-image. I don’t feel like I look like I should. To the point where I’ve written videos about how my mental image of a hero doesn’t, and can’t, match with who I am, physically — and racially — in the past. I have an ideal for how I should act that I regularly don’t meet, interpersonally or just in how I go through life. You’ll hear me say “cause I’m lazy” a lot and, arguments with mom aside, I hate that I do. I’m not actually lazy when I care about something, as this freaking WEBSITE proves but I need to break several years of bad habits. I also have an annoying social confidence issue that hits me at weird times. I spent the better part of my two years in university not thinking my school friends were friends with me, just friendly strangers. Because I was afraid to make an assumption and maybe weird them out. Now of course, they’re the biggest group of people I tweet at on Twitter.

As for who I want to be? Take Commander Shepard, Honor Harrington, Aragorn and Admiral Anderson, blend them up and throw in some healthy realism and you’ve got me. Or just check out my friend Giselle Gonzalez. I want to be living my life as fully as she is. Or my friend Keezy Young, who’s a badass artist who is really leaning into her art and that’s brave and awesome. Those two are the ones who are really inspiring me to push toward meeting my own bars. Wil Wheaton and Rooster Tooth are the ones who made me realize public accountability is something I can use to motivate myself and others.

So what does Operation Respec entail?

Be Healthier

  • This is traditional. I weigh 213lbs. I want to weight no more than 190lbs. I can’t keep the level of activity I used to be able to do. I want to change this. What does this mean?
    • Go to the Gym. No really, I’m a former black belt gone to seed 5 years running, I HAVE to get myself back in shape.
    • Eat Healthier
      • I’m not going to diet. I hate diets. I love good food. Calorie counting makes me mad.
      • I am going to modify my current diet to cut out the crap foods.
        • That means no more M&M packages a week, no McDonalds, try to cook and prepare my lunches better.
        • Instead of a diet, I’m going to work to be more mindful of my food.

Be More Disciplined

  • I procrastinate. I avoid work. I play games when I should be writing. I’m bad at scheduling things or planning ahead… in some very poignant places. I’m still going to do/be all of that. But I’m going to work on doing it less.
    • Write 30mins-1 hour a day
    • Apply for that job, or message that person on OKC with a day of finding it/them
    • Schedule the Website, Podcast and personal life better
      • I’m bad at money. I am so freaking bad it’s not funny. I’m going to actually try and change that this year.
    • Help with cleaning and cooking around the house more.
    • Be more helpful in general

Be More Social

  • When I was living in Calgary, I was rooming with my only friend in the city. I knew literally no one else. I had to go out to meet people because I need more than one friend locally. I got to know some really cool writer people in Calgary but my other attempts to meet people ran up against my own anxieties or a general freeze from the board game scene. I Started playing World of Warcraft again, I STARTED PLAYING WORLD OF WARCRAFT AGAIN.
  • Here, I fell back into the comfortable cushion of childhood friends and the network I’d grown up building. I mean I live with the family of my best friend. We hang out weekly-ish and play lots of games online together. It’s good, I love it. It’s also really safe and not helping me grow at all. So I’m going to try and change it up.
    • I’m going to find or found a Writer’s Meetup Group. It’s going to help me write more and be more social.
    • I’m going to try to find and go to a Board Game group or dabble in local board game store communities. Seattle tabletop gaming community is so much more diverse and welcoming than Calgary’s that I need to take advantage of it.
    • Participate in the communities I’m already in. My dance studio has a pretty healthy community that I’ve been sort of skirting around being a part of because there isn’t a lot of people my age there. I need to actually take up getting to know people there.
    • Find Friends to go on Adventures with.
      • Adventures are fun but a lot of my close friends aren’t the sort to want to go do random adventures and the few who are don’t live nearby. I need more friends to do adventures with.
      • I mean, yeah. It’s a problem. I might see them more than once this year. Or like, ever. In the case of Doc. Seriously, Doc and I haven’t seen each other outside of a convention in like 3 or 4 years.
    • Last but not least? I’m going to actually try and use things like OkCupid to meet some people… rather than use it as this weird pseudo-meat shopping site it seems to have a tendency to feel like to me… there is an article on this.
      • Am I admitting that I use a dating site? Yup. Is it a big deal? NO. Meeting people is hard after school. Hell meeting people was hard BEFORE school was a public thing. That was the point of all the nobles holding balls and parties in the Dark Ages.

Be More Adventurous

  • Given no push, I will stay at home and play video games, read or write before I do anything else. I don’t love travelling and I’ve been bad about going hiking cause summer camps are exhausting work. So this year I plan to:
    • Travel More
      • I’m already flying down to visit Newman in San Diego and I’ve already hit up Portland but I also want to plan a Vancouver weekend visit and go visit my friends in Bellingham. Maybe more? I want to remind myself to go see the world.
      • I’m not going to go on a crazy globetrotting tour because that’s not me, but I’m going to work harder to take even small trips outside of my own haunts.
    • Take Advantage of the fact that I LIVE IN SEA-FREAKING-TTLE!
      • I mean seriously. I live in Seattle, one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I’m going to try to go hiking more, maybe go kayaking again or find a trail riding place for an adventure. Things like this.
    • Work in fields I’m not intimately Familiar with
      • I’ve worked childcare/after school programs for most of my life. Maybe it’s time I try something else?
    • Do things I’m not comfortable with
      • Humans have a tendency to prefer things they are familiar with and know. I’m human. I want to do things that stretch my comfort zone.
      • If that means I’m doing things like taking a yoga class at my gym or going to see an opera, then that’s what I’m doing. I started this one a bit last year because I asked a freaking classmate out to do stuff. I actually talked to people.
      • I am doing the Spring Showcase at my Dance Studio.

I’ve given myself quite a job, haven’t I? Yes. Yes, I have. But like I said, I don’t expect to hit everything here but I expect myself to try. Because if I don’t I’m not the me I know I am.

What can you expect from me?

Weekly Updates.

  • These aren’t going to be long updates or big ones necessarily. I will check in with reports about any social or adventures I manage and more importantly, I’m going to be posting regular updates about my Exercise, Food and Writing Habits. Those are the biggest pieces of public accountability I want from this program.

An Example to Follow… or a Warning learn from

  • I’m not an expert at any of this. That’s the whole point of the website. We don’t know what we’re doing but we know are doing something. This is just another example of that. I can’t promise this will go well, but if it does I hope someone decides they want to do a Respec of their own. If this crashes and burns, well the lessons we find can make the next go around better.

Podcast Lost in Games Episode 3!

Episode 3: On this weeks episode, we discuss how story and gameplay coexist. Does a good story make bad gameplay something worth dealing with and vice versa? This weeks guests are Bryan Whiting, Terran Jendro, and Caitlin Johnstone.



4 Steps for a Better Gym Experience (for Beginners)

It’s almost 2016. Which means a lot of you are going to make the same resolution you have made for the past 5 years: to finally put forth the effort of going to the gym. You get a membership, some expensive gym clothes, and a water bottle that says “Beast Gains”. You pat yourself on the back for a week or two until you see me, former Bench Press World Champion Doc Von Derwin, stealing all the free weights in the gym to use as a warm-up set. Confidence destroyed, you refuse to step into the gym again, with the question “Why bother?” rattling around in your head. Well it’s time to shut up those negative thoughts you have about yourself, and start training to get that action hero body you deserve.
Step 1: The hardest part is showing up
After a long day of work, you find yourself home in your glorious fortress of solitude. You want to go to the gym but you just are so exhausted that the only thing you can do is pick up the tv remote and transport Funions from the bag to your dumb face. There is always tomorrow right? NO!
Getting to the gym when already comfortable is the hardest thing I have ever encountered. But sure enough, if you just get your ass to the gym you will work out. I have never seen anyone walk into a gym only to change their mind and go home. The moment you step foot in a gym, you are guaranteed to do something. Then, if you force yourself to go the gym enough, you will eventually get fit. The important thing is that you put forth any amount of effort above your average amount. Even if you aren’t exercising to an extreme degree, you are at least making progress.
Step 2: You cannot worry about what other people think of you
Now that you have entered the gym, you notice that you are not the only one there. On one side, you see a 20-something frat bro with frosted tips, wearing a normal t-shirt with the sides cut out to not only reveal his biceps but also his ribs, stomach, and nipples, and yelling every time he curls a 20lb dumbbell. On the other side is a muscle-bound woman who is training to be a SWAT team member, shadow boxing in the corner, with tattooed marks along her bicep that definitely represent the number of people she has killed.
No matter what you think of other people in the gym, you need to push them out of mind. Both of these fictitious examples have something in common: what they are doing has no direct effect on you and your time in the gym. They also are lifters themselves. Even if they are strange looking or intimidating, they are most likely not worrying about what you think of them and focusing on their workout.
When it comes to people at the gym who are stronger than you are, a lot of people get discouraged because they feel they can’t keep up with other members. I just want to remind you that it doesn’t matter. Anyone who is a real lifter understands that we all have to start somewhere. Personally, I was lucky enough to start when I was 8. You can start at the gym at any time in your life and as long as you keep showing up and putting in the work, you are a lifter. I invite all sorts of people to work out with me, and most refuse because they think I’m somehow intimidating, just because I can deadlift the pickup truck their dad got to compensate for something. I invite them because a good workout routine can be done at any weight. It’s more often about the number of reps you do than the actual weight you lift.
Step 3: Have a plan going in
Now that you don’t care about the other people in the gym, you suddenly realize that you have never seen any of this equipment before. The idea of trying any of it and doing it wrong terrifies you. You think to yourself, “Well, free weights are easy. Let’s start with some squats at about 100lbs.” What you don’t realize is that the gym uses the metric system, so the 20lb weights you thought you loaded on actually weigh 45lbs each. While you attempt to squat, your knees explode.
You can find plenty of information online. You can find workout routines that highlight your desired muscle group, as well as demonstrational videos on how to properly execute and exercise. If you have a predetermined idea of what you want to do and how long you want to do it for, walking into a gym will be less intimidating. All the equipment serves a purpose, but you get to say, “Not today ab machine. It’s leg day.”

Step 4: Go with a friend
As you look to your bloody leg stumps where your knees used to be, you wonder if any of the other people in the gym would be willing to get you to a hospital. You look around to find that everyone has left, and begin to wonder about how good prosthetic leg technology might be these days.
A friend is always a helpful tool. They motivate you, they spot you while you lift, and they reinforce your self-esteem. I find that I always have a better time lifting with a partner. Conversing with someone makes lifting a much more enjoyable experience and becomes therapeutic in certain ways. Having a person spotting you and giving you words of encouragement helps demolish any sense of doubt in yourself and makes you a better lifter.
Now I ask one very important question. Do you even lift?

Doctor Who and the Zygon Cease Fire

Welcome to Earth. Time period: Now. Population: Approximately 7 billion H umans and 20 million Zygons, plus sundry and assorted other aliens. Universe: Doctor Who.

Hey Everyone! It’s finally time [no pun intended]. PLIS is finally going to post in the elusive “TV” tab. And of course, as tradition would have it, it’s going to be nerdy, political and written by me. So let’s get nerdy.

In the finest traditions of Cold War paranoia, the Zygons (first introduced in 1975) were a race of shapeshifting aliens who can steal the identity and memory of their victim, provided they remain alive. In a time where the fear of the Other became obscured by the fact that the Other could be anyone, the Alien Infiltration trope gave birth to classic sci-fi such as the Invasion of the Body Snatchers or Robert Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters. The Zygons remerged in 2013 as part of the 50th Anniversary Special Episode “Day of the Doctor” and only the intervention of the Tenth, Eleventh and War Doctors prevented catastrophe. As part of the treaty brokered, the President of the World aka The Doctor  agreed to accept 20 million Zygon refugees provided they disguise themselves as humans and live incognito amongst humanity. Refugees who were created as a result of the Time War—a great cataclysmic war fought between the Doctor’s species (The Timelords) and the ‘perfect warrior race’ the Daleks that spanned time and space itself, trashing across the universe. This is where it gets good.

While the “Day of the Doctor” brokered a deal in which Earth accepted war refugees from a war only the Doctor himself can claim direct connection with, it didn’t explore the ideas any further. The ninth season (counting from the reboot) returns to the Zygon plight in the two-part arc “Zygon Invasion”/”Zygon Inversion”. The episodes aired on October 31st and November 7th of 2015 respectively… just a week before the November 13th terror attacks in Paris. The truce brokered in “Day of the Doctor” is breaking down. While the majority of Zygons wish to live in peace, a radical splinter group, primarily made up of younger Zygons, has become fed up with the conditions of assimilation they live under. This splinter group begins pushing for a change to the treaty, to allow them to live as they want (un-shapeshifted) and “Truth or Consequences” becomes their rallying cry. You later find out that Truth or Consequences is also a town in New Mexico where a young Zygon had accidentally reverted back to its natural form, only to be killed by twitchy Americans and starting a whole war. The splinter group plans to unveil their own existence to the world, backing the majority of the peaceful Zygon population into a corner where they’ll be forced to either join their movement or die, either at the hands of the splinter group or the humans. Shenanigans happen, Peter Capald as the Twelfth Doctor finally gets to have his moment, in which the true nature of this incarnation of the Doctor shines through and the fans can start to understand him. (Seriously, I’m going to link to the speech, it’s that amazing) And in the end, tensions are dismantled and the splinter group returns to the fold but lives remain lost.

Does this sound familiar yet? In a brilliant bit of prescience and political astuteness, Peter Harness managed to encapsulate our current immigration and refugee crises while also exploring the nature of radicalization. The two-part comes complete with commentary about the effect drone strikes can have on their operators and civilians, a fake country called Turmeszistan and sleeper cells having infiltrated UNIT (the global earth defense force). It explores American paranoia of immigrants. The splinter cell uses a bold, easily tagged logo (Top picture) to mark its own operations. Even more impressively, Harness uses the now familiar imagery of Al-Qaida and Daesh propaganda videos with prisoners reading prepared statements and being executed and those videos being posted to the internet to reach their intended audience. The entire arc, and its conclusion especially (see video) are a scathing condemnation of our current societal panic and fear of the hidden enemy while also being a companionate warning about the horror and futility of war itself.

There is something else from this arc that I fell in love with and that’s how it depicts the Osgoods. A UNIT scientist Osgood finds herself duplicated in the aftermath of the “Day of the Doctor” and the two of them, coexisting as Zygon and Human consider themselves neither Zygon nor Human and come to embody the spirit of the treaty. One of them is later killed by the Mistress (the Doctor’s arch-nemesis and foil). Throughout the arc, various characters, including the Doctor, try to figure out which Osgood survived. Osgood however rebuffs the questions by simply replying “I’m Osgood”. Osgood gently but consistently demands the right to define her identity herself, pushing off the rest of the world’s attempts to define her as either Human or Zygon. This self-determined identity even rebuffs the Doctor’s attempt to logic his way to an answer, when Osgood reveals that the rules have changed and the host ‘body print’ doesn’t need to be alive if the Zygon has spent years sharing the identity.  We leave the story with the Doctor finally accepting Osgood’s chosen self-identity and I think it’s a beautiful subplot. Now as a cis heterosexual male, I’m not about to make any sweeping claims about how closely Osgood’s struggle to define her own identity mirrors the struggles of the LGBTQ community but from my own point of view, I found it a great analogy for the side of the struggle I’ve seen. I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on this, so drop a comment below!

I ended up watching this arc on November 14th and in the newly sparked American panic about refugees, terrorists and Muslims it stuck with me. Because of the context it was left to stew in, I think this might actually be my favorite two-part in Doctor Who. It was poignant and timely that I think very few other moments can match it.


Why you should join the rest of the world and watch soccer

When you think of the biggest sports in America, the “Big 4” come to mind: football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. But when you look at the “Big 4” for the world, it is a much different list: soccer, tennis, cricket, and rugby. While most people in America have at least heard of soccer, it doesn’t even crack the top 5 with a lot of the time Nascar taking the fifth most popular ‘sport’. This is quickly changing, though.

Domestic soccer started in 1968 with the North American Soccer League having 64 unique teams play in the league through their 16 year existence. But more recently the professional league has been Major League Soccer (MLS), which started in 1996 with 10 teams. Over those 20 years, the league has grown to 20 teams with 4 more teams being added within the next 5 years. However, whenever you talk to someone about MLS they take it as a joke. Being a soccer fan I have heard more often than not “I only watch soccer during the World Cup” which means every 4 years. They get sucked into the world-wide hype when it is the biggest sporting event going on and then they stop caring until the next one.The latest World Cup held in Brazil in 2014 was the largest one yet for popularity in the US. 26.5 million people watched Germany’s extra-time win over Argentina which blew the previous viewership out of the water. This past summer, the Women’s World Cup took place in Canada. The USWNT (US Women’s National Team) made it to the final to play against Japan—which I had the great pleasure of attending . That game had the most viewership for a US match, men’s or women’s, of all time having 25.4 million people in the US watch that game.

With every World Cup there is always a boom in MLS popularity. With 14 of the 23 players on the 2014 World Cup roster playing in the MLS, this year had the largest increase of fans in recent memory. And this is an exciting time for US soccer with a lot of our US team stars being younger players. One of the biggest stars from this World Cup Deandre Yedlin, is only 22-years old who is currently playing on loan for Sunderland in the English Premier League, arguably the best league in the world.

Even locally in the MLS big name stars are being attracted to come play in the US. With soccer legends Frank Lampard, Kaka, Steven Gerrard, and David Villa all making the jump across the pond within the past year; and rising stars like Sebastian Giovinco, Fabian Castillo, and Gyasi Zardes getting looked at world-wide all playing here in our growing league. Many big name players have expressed interest in coming to play in America, and within the next 10 years the MLS is projected to be competing for one of the most popular sports in Americaand have the type of talent that you see in Europe.

So instead of only getting soccer fever once every couple years, go support your local MLS team. If there is a team near you look around and I’m sure you can find a team that will suit your interest. With the playoffs winding down now is the time to see what MLS has the best to offer. The MLS Conference Finals start on November 22 with the MLS Cup Final being played on December 6th.

It is about time that America caught the same fever that has captivated the rest of the world for years.


Dream Remake: Mortal Kombat

Warning: You are entering a zone of extreme nerdiness and fan boy passion

In 1992, ninja assassin disguised as a game developer, Ed Boon, delivered unto us a game so violent that the ESRB rating system was invented to keep the video game world from being the wild west of pop culture. That game was Mortal Kombat. In 1995 we got a film adaptation of the same name that could quite possibly be the first and only successful video game movie, just to have it ruined by the diarrhea hurricane that was it’s 1997 sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. What made the first film so enjoyable for fans was its embrace of the wacky lore of multiple realms, vengeful ninja story lines, and mystical powers that contain no logical sense what so ever. In 2010, Kevin Tancharoen released an 8-minute short film as a pitch for a more realistic depiction of the Mortal Kombat universe. This brilliant reimagining of the franchise would allow Tancharoen to do to Mortal Kombat, what Christopher Nolan did to Batman. This caused me to suffer from a disease only know as Fan-Boner Extremis. Unfortunately for me, when the Kevin Tancharoen was given a YouTube series instead of a feature length film, the original lore was included which caused its logic to spin out of control once again, but now with a strange serious tone that absent of any fun. This wasn’t a terrible depiction of the MK universe but it could be described a less fun retelling of the video game series. The point of movie or series adaptations is to have the source material “adapted” to the new media form which provides the fresh spin people like myself enjoy seeing. If I wanted a whacky Mortal Kombat, I would have played the video games. Right now, I know what you’re thinking, “Doc. How do we fix it? How do we make a Mortal Kombat movie ground and set in the real world?” Here’s how:

The Tournament is an Underground Street Fight (not the game street fighter):

The key to the success of its game series was its unique characters. Each character had incredible powers but was usually an over-the-top example of extremely good or extremely evil. For the game, that’s all we need when we can distract ourselves by upper cutting people through the ceiling. A modern movie adaptation can’t use these pieces without feeling ridiculously campy, and we really need to see the moral ambiguity and emotional conflict of when Jax rips the arms off of Reptile.

The tournament, as depicted in the game series, is a fight to see who controls Earth realm. Participants from Nether Realm, Outworld, and other metal band names all want it to expand their control. While if any of Earth’s warriors win, Earth Realm stays safe till the next tournament. What kind of messed up reward structure is that? Now let’s scale it down and add a bit of logic.

The Deacon City is rotting from the inside out with gang violence and criminal activity. The criminal syndicates with in the city are growing strong and taking more control of the city each day. When a rival gang is wiped out their territory becomes open, and rather than having a war across 4 different syndicates, all gangs agree to have a tournament financed and organized by the leader of the Brotherhood of Shadows, Shang Sung. Each gang provides 4 fighters, and the last team standing wins.

Who is participating in this tournament:

Little is known about the Brotherhood of Shadows. All we know is that they have nearly limitless funding. Informants have revealed that they are buying up tons of weaponry from the Black Dragon clan, and that there is someone above Shang Sung who is the really mastermind with an unknown motivation. Their known accomplices are the unlikeliest group of criminals that would be expected. First is a cannibal who was born with his skin inside out. His scaly completion led him to adopt the name Reptile. Next is a plastic surgeon who went insane and turned the knife on himself. He sharpened his teeth to fangs and inserted sharp pieces of steal into his forearms. He now goes by the name Baraka, an ancient African word that means “The Devil’s Servant”. Then there is Devin Ermac, who is a recent escapee from Deacon City Insane Asylum. A master of 7 different martial arts styles, who was locked up for multiple personality disorder. Each personality clamed ownership to a different style of combat. Lastly is Quan Chi. The newest player in this gang of misfits but the most dangerous. He was specifically chosen to work alongside Shang Sung to assist in fulfilling the will of the Brother Hood of Shadows.

The Black Dragon clan has been plaguing Deacon City for years. Their leader, Kano, has been moving weapons in and out of the city. The Black Dragon has been arming two warring factions, the Lin Kuei and Shirai Ryu, and is single handedly to blame for the increase of gun violence within the city. What makes them an even bigger threat is Kano’s right hand man, Kabal; Kano’s childhood friend and personal assassin. After barely surviving a car bomb, Kabal wears a specially designed life support that was personally developed by Kano. He is loyal, lethal, and hard as hell to kill.

The Lin Kuei is a Japanese gang similar to the Yakuza, and Deacon City is their most prevalent location for criminal activity. They have had their hand in everything; racketeering, drug trafficking, etc. They are rivals to the Chinese crime syndicate, the Shirai Ryu. In response to the deadly war between the 2 factions, the Lin Kuei formed an elite team of assassin’s, all with codenames to conceal their identity. There is Sektor, a demolition specialist and an expert with explosives; Cyrax, an interrogation specialist known for capturing enemies and sawing off limbs for information; Smoke, a master of stealth and camouflage; and their leader Sub-Zero, an assassin who utilizes a liquid nitrogen system that runs through the sleeves of his jacket and releases the gas from his palms. He is known for freezing an enemies arm or leg and ripping it off in one motion.

The Shirai Ryu is a recently destroyed Chinese syndicate. Only one man was left alive, Hanzo Hasashi. After barely escaping death from the attack on his clan, Hanzo finds out that not even his wife and child were spared from this deadly attack. After time recovering and healing his wounds, he seeks the man responsible. All he knows about the man in charge of the attack was that he was able freeze people and objects with his hands. With his family and clan dead, his territory becomes the location up for grabs in the next Mortal Kombat tournament. He decides to adopt the mantle of “Scorpion”, the name of an ancient warrior from his home village.


Who are our Heroes:

The main story will focus on Sonya Blade, a rookie recently added to the Deacon City Criminal Task Force lead by Jax Briggs. She is the third member with the other being Kurtis Stryker, the best shooter on the force.

Intel has revealed that the tournament will be happening within the city. Their mission is infiltrate the tournament, and confirm its destination so a SWAT team can breach the location and arrest all the killers in one fell swoop. More intel has revealed that Hanzo Hasashi has been sent an invitation to compete in the tournament. Hanzo is recruited by the Deacon City Task Force to enter the tournament after being given evidence that Sub-Zero will be there. Together, they enter the tournament as the new Shirai Ryu.

The following events focuses on what happens to Sonya as she has to mentally cope with brutally killing people in one-on-one fist fights and staring down death at every turn. The city is being held ransom by Shang Sung leaving her no choice but to push aside her faith in traditional justice by commit violent acts in the name of protecting the city. Not to mention Sony has the added pressure of seeing her superiors Jax and Kurtis fall in the line of duty and leaving her to be the last bastion of a better future for the city.

This Scorpion/Sub-Zero side story is actually best kept to its video games routes. Sub-Zero has actually been framed for the death of Scorpions family as part of a much more elaborate and sinister plan. Our movie demonstrates the hubris that falls upon Scorpion for fighting only for revenge. Scorpion’s pursuit of Sub-Zero only leads to his self-loathing and dishonor as he finds he has been so easily manipulated the man who really killed his family. After an epic fight between the world best assassin’s Sub-Zero exposes proof that he wasn’t responsible for the killings and that Scorpion’s only reason for living is a lie. Scorpion finds no justice and only has himself to blame.

This is the movie we could have got 5 years ago, which is a movie I would spend money on time-and-time again. Of course, movie executives would not run the risk of making a film that places a realistic spin on a violent game franchise, which robs us of ever seeing Jason Statham as Kano, the robotic-eyed gun runner, or Lateef Crowder as the murderous fang-toothed plastic surgeon who has amazing martial arts skills for no explainable reason, or even a sequel movie that has Chris Pratt as Johnny Cage, the cocky actor who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unfortunately for me, this is a movie that can only exist in my own head, making me the biggest fan of my own fan fiction.

Warframe Community Article

WarframeWarframe. A one sentence description of it could sound like “a free to play third-person mission based co-op space ninja shooter” but even that doesn’t do the game justice.

A game is so much more than what one does in the game or what the game lets you do; games are defined by its community. We all make judgements and assumptions about games based off of the community that has chosen to make that game theirs. Games like League of Legends are well known for their toxic community. A player may spend more time worrying about what kind of teammates they’ll que up with instead of what roles are going to be fulfilled and what the battle strategy is.

Warframe is a game that tends to have an overall welcoming community that does not mind helping guide both new players and seasoned vets in making gameplay decisions. There are members that make it their specific goal to guide the new players in discovering the parts of the game that aren’t completely explained in the tutorial mission. There are also high-level discussions between long time players about what items or tools work best in the highest tiered missions as well as great theorycrafting about the lore and the story behind the game play.  No one says no in Warframe, instead they say things like “I haven’t tried that before,” “lets see how that works” or “this is an interesting mechanic, let’s explore further”.

This type of welcoming and thoughtful community is heavily aided by the developers (Devs). The Devs created an in-game organization called the Guide of the Lotus (the main in-game helping hand voice in the head character) specifically designed to make players that want to help new players easier to spot and to give them better resources to help them with.  The Devs also are very active on the game forums: reaffirming theories, discussing bug reports, or asking for input on new design concepts. This allows players to feel connected to the people that make the game they enjoy so much. Often times there is a large gap in communication and face time with some developers of large companies and it makes it feel like the player is forgotten or alienated. But in Warframe there are numerous live streams throughout the week players are able to put a face to each of the Devs and understand that they (the Devs) also play the game that they make. This is a big deal because it lets the community know that the Devs see the players side of any problem.

The Devs make a strong effort to go and meet the players wherever they are. They attend conventions all over the world holding panels and hosting after parties so players can feel connected and engaged with the Devs. They’ve been to Seattle’s PAX, New York’s Comic Con, Germany’s GamesCon, and even to a small convention in their hometown of London, Ontario. There is always a Question and Answer part in any of the panels or after parties, and this gives players the chance to get a direct answer and have ongoing discussions with the Devs in person.

All these things are to say, simply, that Warframe the game is heavily reliant upon Warframe the community for its continued success and expansion. It relies upon the min-maxers to find cases of op or broken weapons or enemies. It relies upon the content creators to craft an album of breathtaking art and sculptures helping maintain in the game and outside of the game. It relies upon the explorers to find new areas and holes in the maps and new vantage points or hiding spots. It relies upon the fan-boys and girls to come out to Cons and show the Devs how much of an impact they’ve had on their lives. And it relies upon having a community that loves the game so much they can’t wait to invite new players and show them all the wonderful and exciting things in store for them.


A game you come to for the gameplay and stay for the community.