3 Twitter Feeds That Are Totally Worth Following

I’ve spent a few articles celebrating YouTube channel that were a lot of fun and/or added to society in some small measure. But, I feel like it’s time to show some love to other social media giants.

In all honesty, I have difficulty with Twitter. Its brand of ‘micro-blogging’ isn’t conducive to the ramblings of a long-winded so-and-so like me. That said, I still make use of it to keep up to date on happenings and goings-on. But, in my searches, I’ve found a few feeds that were genuinely good on their own merits. Such as…

Penny Underbust

I pray I look this good one day…
Source: @Penny_Underbust on Twitter

Let’s start by talking about my favorite chubby cyborg (her words, not mine).

As a recently out-and-proud transwoman, I’ve been eager to look for positive female figures to add to my life – particularly where body positivity is involved. And Penny Underbust is all about making your body what YOU want it to be and being happy with it.

As her online moniker implies, Penny’s defining trait is her rather ample bosom. And while breast augmentation isn’t quite one to one with HRT and bottom surgery, she very clearly understands the need to feel comfortable in your own skin; a need that she’s turned into a modestly successful career as a Youtuber and cosplay model who reviews clothing, plays ukelele, provides makeup tutorials, and generally spreads good vibes to all including transgender and non-binary people – “gender rebels,” as she lovingly refers to us as.

If you have an eye for fashion or just need some positivity in your life, I highly recommend following her on Twitter and YouTube and consider supporting her on Patreon.

Speaking of positivity…

Good News Network

Well, the other thing happens too, but THIS is something we can actually CHOOSE for ourselves.
Source: @goodnewsnetwork on Twitter

Anyone that has followed me on Facebook or Twitter knows that I try to start the weekend off right by proliferating the hashtag #GoodNewsFriday; my campaign to remind the world that there is good to be had in the absurdity of life. And these folks are my primary source.

The Good News Network, GNN for short, is dedicated to tracking down and reporting on people that are trying to make life just a little more pleasant for all of us. They do this through Twitter, on their website, and on their podcast. Think Buzzfeed, but less up its own tailpipe and more reliable.

There really isn’t much else to say; it’s a reputable news source that encourages people to do good in the world. What more do you want?

Pentametron

This right here… THIS is art…

So, let’s talk high-tech…

For those not in the know, a “Twitter Bot” is a kind of software that is scripted to perform certain actions on Twitter. Most of the time, it’s something annoying or outright malicious like tagging everyone that uses a certain word in a tweet to send them links to buy a useless book. But some people have begun to use Twitter Bots to create auto-generated art.

Such is the example set by Pentametron, a Twitter Bot programmed to seek out and retweet other peoples tweets in pairs that just so happen to form naturally occurring, rhyming verses of Iambic Pentameter – the style William Shakespeare was famous for using.

This is essentially a high-tech fusion of the style of Shakespeare combined with one of my favorite literary styles; the “Cut-up technique” popularized by beat poet legend William S. Burroughs in which text is scrambled and rearranged to create new works.

It’s a pleasant reminder of how art sometimes occurs by total accident and that we just need to stop and appreciate it some times.

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The Agent on Homophobia, Meme Culture, and Millie Bobby Brown

Millie’s face in this scene looks like mine when I heard the news.
Source: Hello Giggles

It’s not often that I wake up first thing in the morning and know EXACTLY what I’m going to talk about this week… I just wish I didn’t HAVE to.

For those that don’t follow celebrity happenings, Millie Bobby Brown, the young actress best known for playing Eleven on Stranger Things, was bullied off of Twitter yesterday because of memes circulating around the web using pictures of her and spouting off homophobic rhetoric. This was especially damaging to her since she is well known for being a powerful supporter of the LGBT+ community.

… I have SEVERAL complaints.

First, I want to address my attitude towards people leaving social media over bullying. Normally, I reprimand people for doing this as it shows the opposition that they can get whatever they want if they’re dickish enough. But, in this instance, I think Millie may have made the right choice. The sort of harassment that she’s experiencing right now is especially damaging when you’re as young as she is. So removing herself from that environment, at least until the meme runs it’s lifespan out, was probably the best choice she could have made.

That brings me to the culture of memes in general. Let’s not beat around the bush here; memes are the LOWEST form of entertainment. Any brain dead schmuck with a pirated copy of Photoshop can parrot the same unfunny garbage as 5 million other people and call themselves an artist. The only reason these things gain traction is just for that reason; they cater to and are (mostly) produced by the lowest common denominator. As such, the ‘insights’ they share will almost always be the same sort mouth-breathing troglodyte thinking that seems to have been dominating the landscape lately.

Which is exactly why THIS unfunny hack job we’re talking about now is centered around homophobia. It seems pretty obvious that one blinkering jackass who enjoys the smell of their own beer farts thought it would be hilarious to make an anti-gay meme during Pride Month of all times and centered around a young person that has supported the community for a long time because they lack the number of functioning brain cells – most likely having died through multiple college benders – to understand how comedic juxtaposition is SUPPOSED to work (Or at least I HOPE that’s the explanation because the alternative is that they were ACTUALLY hoping this would destroy the LGBT+ community… somehow…). You need a punchline in order for a ‘joke’ to exist. So where is it here? Where’s the goddamn joke?

I know it sounds like I’m just angry and fuming right now, but I actually am that upset. Stuff like this – people that think that being offensive just to get a rise out of people qualifies as comedy and probably claims that “Mel Brooks could have gotten away with it” while failing to understand that even he had the common decency to not make light of lynching when he made Blazing Saddles– has been going on for far too long.

The sad part is that you can’t just ‘get rid’ of thinking like this. there’s always going to be some colossal, cretinous clod-hopper who thinks insults and threats of violence alone with no real comedic exaggeration are the height of humor. But we CAN make it clear to them that they have crossed a line. We can shame and abandon such ignorant people and leave them to rot in obscurity and their own intolerance.

On the unlikely chance that Millie sees this, know that you did nothing wrong. You’re just an unfortunate victim of cruel, uneducated sub-humans. I hope that someday, you’ll come back to us fully healed and ready to make us smile again. Until then, we’ll wait for you.

As for the rest of you, congratulations; you attacked a harmless community on their day of recognition, earned the ire and hate of the world, and made a 14-year-old girl cry. Your parents must be beaming with pride.

Disapointment All Around: A (Brutally Honest) Open Letter To Chelsea Cain, Online Bullies, and The Comics Industry

“Oh no, this cover made my balls feel SLIGHTLY smaller! I must rage!” *snark snark scoff*
Source CBR.com

Well, I WANTED to do another Halloween themed article this week. Unfortunately, a bunch of really ugly and infuriating B.S. has come up that I feel the need to comment on immediately; if only briefly.

For those who don’t follow the business of comic books, Chelsea Cain, writer of Marvel’s amazing Mockingbird series, has retreated from social media and deleted her Twitter account due to harassment over her call for more female-driven narratives in comics.

I’m unsure where to start here. There’s just so much I’m upset about.

I suppose I should start with the obvious and call out the bullies first. I can’t believe I’ve been on the internet since the very beginning and still have to deal with people harassing and threatening each other – especially over trivial things that don’t warrant verbal violence. The one thing I’ve taken away from my use of creator driven platforms like YouTube, DeviantArt and Newgrounds is that if you don’t like the opinions that a creator inserts in their work, it’s as simple as NOT SUPPORTING THEM. You unsubscribe from their channels, stop buying their art, and stop following their work.

But, no – we live in the days where ‘hate-following’ is a thing because people have a raging fury-boner they don’t know what to do with. I’m not even going to debate about Feminist politics and who’s right or wrong here because it’s irrelevant. The point is that everyone conducted themselves like ill-behaved children when their disapproving silence would have had a much better effect. Seriously, if you just ignored Chelsea and stopped supporting her comics, the message would have been clear and SHE’D look like the a-hole for forcing her beliefs on you.

Of course, Chelsea probably wouldn’t have felt the need to speak up if it weren’t for d-bag number two; the industry.

The comics industry, Marvel in particular, have been ignoring the demands of a large number of fans that are crying out for more respectable ladies (and minority groups, but that’s another rant) driving the plots of their stories. And while things are certainly getting better in that regard, the change is far too slow. Sorry Marvel, but as great as Rescue, She-Hulk, and the new Thor and Spider-Woman are, distaff counterparts of established acts just smack of insincerity and attempts to bait the Feminist crowd. You have great characters like Black Widow, Captain Marvel, and Jessica Jones that you keep saying that you’re going to push more, but it feels like you’re dragging your heels in doing so.

But the one person I’m most shocked to be disappointed in out of all of this mess – and brace yourself, ’cause this is going to hurt – is Chelsea Cain herself.

By fleeing Twitter, you’ve shown an emotional weakness in yourself to the industry and the bullies. You’ve shown them that by throwing a temper tantrum and slinging a volley insults and hollow threats like spoiled children, they can have whatever they want. Believe me; I know how rough it can be to absorb all of the cruelty and hate of others. I’ve put up with it all throughout my life and I have the scars and broken bones to prove it. But, like poor tortured Sisyphus, you must struggle on with a smile on your face knowing that taking joy in your suffering brings the gods nothing but frustration and despair. I know it’s a cliché, but you can’t run away from your problems like this.

So, in closing, my three messages are as follows; Internet: grow the f*** up. Comics: wake the f*** up. Chelsea: savage the f*** up.

The Agent’s #UnpopularMusicOpinionHour Recap

Last Friday, my followers on Twitter likely saw a barrage of posts with the trending hashtag #UnpopularMusicOpinionHour which I actually posted non-stop for an ACTUAL hour (an impressive feat considering that I don’t like being glued to Twitter for very long).

But, the problem with Twitter is that it’s hard to convey an opinion with just 140 characters. So, this week, I’m going to elaborate on just a few of those posts to better get my point across.

“Some of the best music ever came from Super Nintendo Games.”

Untitled-1

I was born just as gaming was pulling itself out of the Stygian abyss of the North American gaming crash and started gaming when I was four. Back then games were much simpler in terms of visuals, gameplay, and story. So, developers had to rely on other stimuli to build an environment that left an impression on the player.

Music, to me, is one of those ways that’s often overlooked. Can you honestly say you’d feel the same hurried dread in Super Castlevania 4 without “Dance of the Holy Man” in the background or the blood-boiling hype of Killer Instinct without its iconic theme?

To be fair, games have always been home to memorable music and still come out with great soundtracks to this day. But, this era of games will always hold a special spot in my brain space.

“Getting kinda sick of Katy Perry, actually.”

Untitled-2

Believe it or not, there was a mythical time when I didn’t mind Katy Perry. At first, she seemed like just another well-intended, but heavily misguided female empowerment icon (the irony is that most women who TRY to be feminist icons are doing a huge disservice to womankind by trying too hard) that I could easily ignore.

But, as time goes by, she’s become completely obnoxious. She flips frantically between over-polished, you-go-girl anthems like “Roar” to sleazy, sex-as-power, pop dreck a la “Birthday.” As a result, both come off as uninformed at best and disingenuous at worst.

My point is that Katy needs to pick an angle and stick with it.

“I can’t stand the sound of Robert Plant’s voice.”

Untitled-3

I actually caught some hate from friends for this in the past. So let’s get something straight; I actually like Led Zeppelin. It’s just lead vocalist Robert Plant I can’t stand.

It always bugged me how whiny his voice was. I’d be thoroughly enjoying “Black Dog” right up until Plant’s dog whistle voice (heh… see what I did there?) pulls me out of the moment.

I think the only time that I wasn’t thrown out of the moment by Plant was the classic “Kashmir.” I’d also put “Immigrant Song” on that list, but I feel Karen O caught the feel better.

“Most of the people we call ‘One-Hit Wonders’ deserve more credit.”

Untitled-4

I actually delved into this before, but it begs to be repeated – so-called “One-Hit Wonders” tend to keep doing good work in music long after their most well-known hit. And I’m not just talking about long-forgotten tracks like last time. Most do some amazing stuff behind the scenes.

For example, do you love game soundtracks as much as I do? Then you might be surprised to know that Kurt Harland, the composer for the amazing Legacy of Kain series of games, is also the lead vocalist for Information Society. Do you love Adele? Then you should thank Dan Wilson of Semisonic for writing and producing her biggest hit.

Damn, now I just want to write another one-hit wonder article. Guess THAT’S going on the list.

On the Oregon Attacks, the Internet, and “Ya’ll-Queda”

Heh, okay, that made my day.
Source: Brave New Films

 

I didn’t initially want to write about this because I was trying to avoid depressing topics. But, I realized that I would be neglecting my duties as a social commentator if I ignored this.

For those that don’t follow the news, an armed “militia” descended upon the Maltheur Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon in protest of an arson sentence passed on two local ranchers. The backstory is INCREDIBLY complicated, but this Rolling Stone article sums it up nicely.

Long story short, everyone is P.O.’ed at the militiamen for the attacks and the federal government for their lack of response. So, we denizens of the internet took matters into our own hands by doing what we do best – troll the s*** out of them.

Frequenters to Tumblr and Twitter will have likely noticed hashtags like #Yallqueda or #VanillaISIS attached to stories about these hooligans. These were meant to poke fun at the militia for committing an act that is as effective to the situation as, to quote a well-known essay from my generation, “… trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.”

But here’s the catch; god knows these people deserve all the ridicule they get, but I can’t help but feel that the way we ridicule them diminishes the problems they’re causing. Remember, these are armed and hostile terrorists that invaded a protected territory. We need to take them seriously or else they’ll just keep acting up like the spoiled child that knows his parents are too lazy to punish him for misbehaving.

On the other hand, remembering that this is an act of terrorism, it’s important to let them know that we won’t flinch when they start flexing and posturing. And there are few better ways to get the point across that we aren’t afraid of them by insulting them to their faces. It’s very similar to the tactics we recently employed when we dedicated an entire day to trolling ISIS on Twitter; it doesn’t stop the problem, but it helps to let them know how ineffective their scare tactics are.

I call this “the Prince Vegeta Diplomacy.” Much like how Vegeta acts in Dragonball Z, we need to acknowledge our enemy as a problem that needs to be dealt with (preferably more swiftly and with less toying around than the prince, of course), but still treat them as more of a nuisance than a credible threat.

So, you know what, keep those hashtags flowing. They remind the enemy how pathetic they are and force the people that are sworn to protect us to acknowledge their existence and act. Words are the weapons of choice for the modern Digital Soldier and the best of us now how to keep them sharp, honed, and wield them with unmatched finesse.

Sharing the Love and the Screams with Screaming Soup!

For those of you who never thought you’d see a skeletal cowboy, a humanoid catfish, a werecoyote, and a native american toilet paper mummy riff on bad movies over their favorite drinks – here you go.
Source: screamingsoup.com

 

As those of you who follow on Facebook and Twitter know, I’ve been getting a lot of love lately and I try to give it back with my #ThursdayThanks posts. But I wanted to give a special thanks to someone with big aspirations whose work I really enjoyed.

Not long ago, I got a message on Twitter about a horror movie review show called Screaming Soup! that seemed interesting. Normally, I ignore these door-to-door tactics, but I decided to check it out on a whim to see what it was about. I was not disappointed with the results. So, to show my appreciation and spread awareness for a fellow enterprising creative talent on the ‘net, I’m going to give a constructive critique in as close to the style of the show as a literary medium will allow.

Screaming Soup! seems to get it’s name from the now canceled show Talk Soup that spun off into simply The Soup. Just as those shows recap and review talk shows and general pop culture respectively, Screaming Soup! does the same with B-grade horror and monster films.

So what sets this show apart from other horror and schlock film critics? How about the fact that it features an animated cast? In other words, imagine The Soup revamped for horror films with a format akin to Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and hosted by Deadwest -a man that’s equal parts Ghost Rider, Jonah Hex, and Svengoolie. That’s Screaming Soup! in a nutshell.

Looking at the negatives of the show, or “the sours” as Deadwest would say, most of them fall on the show’s opening title sequence. Don’t get me wrong; the theme song is catchy as hell and I will catch myself headbanging to it if no one’s watching. But I do take some objections with it in some places.

For example, there’s one lyric in the theme that refers to “gay-ass monsters made of clay.” Really, dude? You’re using gay as an insult in 2015? I get that most of the humor of this show revolves around immature comedy that spoofs the man-childish glee of bad horror cinema, but there’s a fine line between immature and borderline insulting. I don’t think anyone involved with the show has a “God Hates Fags” sign in their closet, but it does make defending otherwise brilliant work that much more difficult.

Also, as awesome as the rest of the theme is, I feel it runs a bit too long. Episodes tend to run five to nine minutes and the title sequence takes up about a minute of it. If it was trimmed by half to make room for one or two more clever jokes and the lyrics were changed from “gay” to “lame”, I wouldn’t be bothered in the slightest.

Those jokes are a good jumping-off platform to the good parts of the show – “the sweets” if we’re still using Deadwest’s terminology.

As stated, the humor is very similar to Space Ghost: Coast to Coast tinged slightly off-color to reflect the nature of the types of exploitation horror that tend to dominate the line up. Recurring gags of this nature include the “Pissing Time” clock that counts the seconds and minutes of time where nothing happens in the movie and you can safely run to the bathroom, the “Bogus Scares” counter that tracks the annoying jump scares, an end movie body count, and a “Tit Counter” that tallies up the number of times the actresses go topless.

Another awesome thing about this show is how well characterized the cast is despite having just one guy, one girl, and a text-to-speech program for one lady to do all the voices. Everyone comes together to bring color to the setting of the Howl Inn. From Deadwest’s lovable invisible specter girlfriend Mandy to the urban hipness of the blaksploitation throwback monster Eb’nstein to the house sad-sack and Creature from the Black Lagoon parody Catfish, all of them add character to the show and help to keep things fresh (Sidenote: my favorite character so far has to be Peyote; the werecoyote trucker).

I mentioned before that the episodes run significantly shorter than the average review show, but I feel that works to it’s benefit. Animation, even simple animation like this, takes a lot of time and effort and you need to cut corners where ever you can. Screaming Soup! takes advantage of shorter running times by cutting out the plot-point by plot-point analysis style of other shows and removing the spoilers that they would have contained as a result.

Now, I’m not in the business of rating the films, games, and shows I talk about like Deadwest. But if I were, I’d have to say that Screaming Soup! is a solid four out of five that, with a little polish, could become a five out of five in future seasons. It’s inventive enough to stand out as welcome addition to the world of online film critics. I recommend this show to fans of Count Jackula and Diamanda Hagan who want something new, want fewer spoilers, or are just looking for something to enjoy during their lunch break.

But what do I know? Like Deadwest himself, I also like Killer Tomatoes.

Crisis Management for Internet Personalities (or What JonTron Can Teach Us About Public Relations)

And THAT would be half your problem, sir.
Source: Know Your Meme

Not long ago, several of my preferred news sources and my Twitter feed were flooded with news about a supposed controversy involving popular video game critic Jon Jafari; AKA JonTron and his choice of words regarding his criticism of Sony’s “Playstation Now” streaming game service.

The problem could be said to have began on August 2nd of this year when, in a choice of words seeming meant to offend the politically correct crowd, Jafari called out Playstation Now’s hourly rental system on Twitter for being archaic and user unfriendly by calling it, “the most painfully retarded thing I’ve seen in a while.”

Naturally, this sparked a wave of anger over his choice of words. And while I’m certain that he meant no harm, my background in Communications (particularly as it relates to Public Relations and Crisis Management) can’t help but see obvious mistakes in Mr. Jafari’s actions in retrospect. Today, I’d like to clarify everything that went wrong to help Jon and others avoid a P.R. nightmare like this in the future.

First, the fact that he actually used the word “retard” as an insult. Ignoring how flimsy name calling is as a debate stance, this was just insensitive. There may be nothing wrong with the word in and of itself (to retard something just mean to slow or impede and, in the context of human health, refers to a condition that slows or halts physical or mental development), but using it as a dysphemism for stupidity rather than for its intended purpose to describe a serious condition is just going to far.

Secondly, it seems Mr. Jafari doesn’t understand the difference between acting as himself and acting in character or at least can’t convey the difference well. If JonTron, the person he portrays on his show, said these words, he might have gotten away with it with little more than a few ugly looks. That’s because those kind of over reactions are what we expect from that character. However, when Jon Jafari, not JonTron, calls something “retarded”, it seems as if he actually believes that it’s okay to minimize the seriousness of a condition and makes him look unsympathitic. This obviously isn’t true, but that’s how it looks.

Thirdly, more damning than his choice of words was his reaction to being told to stop. When asked to stop by others, Mr. Jafari responded with more off-color jokes devaluing the opinions of the people he calls his fans. To make matters worse, he proceeded to release an official statement that read as follows:

“I don’t usually respond to this kind of criticism, but this has gotten so out of hand and always happens when I make some sort of ‘controversial’ statement on twitter. To you people who get offended at every turn: Why don’t you try focusing your civil unrest at something that dearly needs it, like the fact that today the Israeli air force struck a school with a missile killing 10 people, most of which were children. I suppose you’re all ok with that, as long as the missile didn’t call the school ‘retarded’ first, right? My job as a comedian is to make people laugh and feel better about their lives. So no, in the midst of so many other pressing matters in the world, I will not apologize for calling a PS4 retarded. I encourage you to look at yourselves and think about what really matters.”

Again, this devalued the opinions of his fans. Yes, it is a shame that there so many other more serious problems around the world, but there is no need to make the world less tolerable with hateful language. It’s that proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Not to mention the act of bringing up serious world events smacks a bit of trying to redirect the issue (again, obviously not what he meant to do).

Mr. Jafari gave a partial apology for bringing up the climate in the middle east as a defense, but still has not apologized for the comment that started it all. Still, I’d like to think that some good can come from anything – even a hot mess like this. As such I’ve learned the following: 1) Even if you think PC-ness is bogus, you still need to watch your mouth, 2) If you act in character for a living, be sure to leave that character at the office before continuing the rest of your day, 3) What you say can be damaging. How you treat what others say in turn can be cataclysmic, and 4) I was absolutely right when I said that Mr. Jafari doesn’t know when a joke is over. Here’s hoping he knows now.