17 Things Only Jos Will Understand – #11 is so accurate it hurts!

1. Heheh. Butts.

Am I right, me?

2. Axe Deodorant Body Spray Kills Kids

Disclaimer: Not insofar as any other aerosol spray applied so liberally in a poorly ventilated bathroom, but nonetheless

3. When You Almost Kill Your Roommates By Setting Your Underwear On Fire

Ugh, the most annoying thing!

4. All Your Reeds End Up Curved Because You Lost Your Mouthpiece Covers Ages Ago

Which dovetails neatly into…

5. Having Professional-Grade Mouthpieces To Play Your Student-Grade Horn

Berg Larsen or not, there’s only so much you can do to make a Yamaha sound good.

6. Dropping Manufacturer Names To Make Yourself Sound Learned About Saxophones

I am literally the only person who does this.

7. Having An Anglican Father, An Alliance Mother, Attending A Baptist Church, Then Choosing Buddhism In Adulthood.

Three churches, one God, and I end up following the teachings of a guy whose legacy to the world was intentionally confusing and contradictory stories and poems.

8. No One Knows What You’re Talking About When You Mention That Christian Extreme Sports Video From When You Were In Grade 7

Seriously, NO ONE KNOWS.

9. You Were Weirdly Into The Manhattan Transfer In The 90’s

…And I did not understand why none of my friends liked “Gentleman With A Family” as much as I did.

10. You Know That ‘Glee’ Is Just A Cheap Rip-Off Of ‘Kids, Incorporated’

I knew about Martika, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Mario Lopez and Fergie BEFORE they were cool. Also Ryan Lambert, but not THAT Ryan Lambert.

11. Having An Older Sister And Best Friend Who Were Subject To Severe Psychological Abuse At The Hands Of Missionaries Who Were Teaching Them A Lesson About Faith

This one’s kind of fucked up. While they were preparing for a Mission to build a house in Tijuana, the leaders staged a raid to kidnap a bunch of Christian teenagers under the premise that they were now being persecuted for their faith. The details are a bit vague this many years later, but as I recall, this happened in Los Angeles, and my sister ended up in a fake holding cell, while my best friend escaped among the refugees. Where was I when all this was happening? In Edmonton, learning how to play saxophone better.

12. While Your Friends Were Getting Kidnapped By Christians, You Were Learning How To Play Saxophone Better

Seriously, as an adult studying psychology, that is FUCKED UP.

13. When You Pick An Arbitrary Number For Your Dumb Satire Column’s Title Before Actually Writing Said Dumb Satire Column And Find Yourself Spinning Your Metaphorical Tires Just To Fill The Gaps

Weirdly specific problems that only I can relate to. That’s what we’re here for, right?

14. Your Mother Had Her Gall Bladder Removed And It Cured Her Lactose Intolerance

My family’s bodies are weird.

15. Watching Your Young Adult Friends Become Aunts/Uncles And It Blows Their Minds But It’s No Big Deal To You Because You’ve Been An Aunt Since Age 3

But even THAT pales in comparison to…

16. You Were Babysat By Your Neighbor Whose Youngest Daughter Was A Year Younger Than Her Granddaughter, Both Of Whom She Also Babysat

All those other Me’s know what I’m talking about!

And finally…

17. You Break A Multiple-Week-Long Hiatus For A Dumb Joke Column That You’re Mostly Writing To Spite Buzzfeed And Its Readers, Many Of Whom Are Good Friends Of Yours

And I don’t even get paid for this low-effort crap!


And Now For Something Completely Different

I’ve been babbling about social justice issues and spirituality for so long (you can rest assured that in periods of low activity on this blog, I’m just as busy with these sorts of discussions in the corporeal world), I think today I’ll just talk about anime lawyer video games.

So, Phoenix Wright. Or, rather, the entirety of the Ace Attorney series.

If by some miracle you DIDN’T arrive at this blog from my personal Facebook page, then you may not be aware that the latest entry to the series, subtitled “Dual Destinies”, was released today for download from the NIntendo eShop on the 3DS. For those of you that ARE Facebook Friends with me, then I offer a completely insincere non-apology for posting about it all day and especially after I started playing it. Look, folks, these days the only media I shamelessly fangirl about in social media is Homestuck. Ace Attorney games are an especially rare specimen, with only 6 recorded appearances in North America since their first sighting in 2005, so you only have to endure this from me less than once a year or so. LET ME HAVE THIS.

The Ace Attorney series began life as a quirky Japanese Game Boy Advance title called Turnabout Courtroom. The game was decidedly different from most of what characterizes the industry, but it managed to find enough success to warrant a couple of sequels. Eventually, the first game was ported to the DS, given an English translation, and ported to North America as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Capcom, who published the series, did not anticipate that this bizarre game about lawyers arguing in court would find much of an audience in The Land That Colonialism Built, so the initial print was limited to a few select retailers and not very many copies. Imagine their surprise when the entire first print sold out almost instantly. The second and third shipments also sold out completely, which seems to indicate that people in this continent REALLY like to argue.

I happened upon the series almost completely by chance; though I had heard about it and was curious about the first game, I never saw a copy of it in any of the stores convenient to me. Then, unexpectedly, I found the game’s sequel, subtitled “Justice For All”, sitting completely innocuously on a shelf in Wal-Mart. These were the days where I had a job and something called ‘disposable income’, so taking a chance on something whose quality was not assured to me was something I was much more willing to do. I picked it up, took it home, popped it into my DS, and proceeded to suspend all meaningful interaction with the world for the ensuing few days (I worked retail – no one noticed). I was hooked. Before I was even finished with the second game, I tracked down an errant copy of the first on eBay (the first and thus far only eBay purchase I’d ever made), and submerged myself in all things Ace Attorney.

Yes, I was THAT hooked.

Over a year later, the North American release of the third game “Trials and Tribulations” was released, and by then I was in so deep that I would spend every coffee break dashing off to the nearby EBGames to see if the game had arrived since my last coffee break, taking time before and after work to check other retailers (a limited, non-major release meant that pre-orders were effectively useless, especially where I lived). This diligence was not unwarranted; I finally got the game on the last coffee break of the day two Thursdays after the launch date, and it was sold out by that Friday afternoon.

So all that, to establish this one premise: I LOVE this series.

The gameplay is a unique blend of Hidden Object Games and Adventure Game-style dialogue options, whereby your character investigates crime scenes, interrogates witnesses and other persons of note, all for the purpose of proving your client’s innocence. The puzzles usually come down to analyzing witness testimony, comparing statements with all the evidence available in the court record, and presenting inconsistencies. The stories are incredibly well written, the tension and drama extremely palpable, and the characters a lot of fun. As a fan of good writing in games, this series and I are a match made in heaven. The rush I get from shouting ‘Objection!’ at my DS (because it supports microphone input, naturally) after carefully poring over every statement to find the hidden, subtle, but undeniable contradiction is unlike anything any other game has been able to offer. It’s incredibly satisfying, and the reason why I’ve followed this series through its highs and its lows.

“Lows, you say?” I can hear you through anachronistic spacetime. Yes, sadly, the Ace Attorney series of games has certainly faced trials (heh) over the years. The whole reason the first three games were ported to the DS in the first place was in promotion of the series’ fourth installment, developed from the ground up for the DS to take full advantage of the system’s unique hardware, known in English-speaking nations as Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. What happened to Phoenix Wright? Disbarred. Boom. The plucky defense attorney we’d spent three games falling in love with was stripped of his license to practice law without so much as a whoopsie-daisy. Though Phoenix does appear in the game, the familiar faces begin and end there, for the most part. The rest of the cast, who had earned just as much of a following, are nary to be seen, replaced with a bunch of forgettable jerks that no one had any reason to care about. The only compelling character of the whole lot was the new detective character, but almost fittingly, she’s not a ‘new’ character in the strictest sense, as she was first introduced in a bonus case exclusive to the DS port of the first game. Combine that with four cases whose respective experiences range from ‘wow, this is tedious and repetitive’ to ‘I think they forgot this was supposed to be an interactive experience’, and you have what was considered to be the worst entry of the series to date.

But the woes didn’t end there. Following Apollo Justice, a spinoff series called Ace Attorney Investigations (Turnabout Prosecutor in Japan) was created, starring Phoenix Wright’s main rival (and, if fanfiction is to be believed, True Love) Miles Edgeworth. Though the people behind this game seemed to realize that fans were still fond of the supporting cast for the original trilogy, this series did away with the courtroom segments, universally believed to be the best parts of the games, instead placing focus on Everything Else. Worse still, the second game in the series would never see an English translation, as the development team was quickly disbanded after the Japan release. Truly, the series had entered some dark times.

Still, I was completely in love. This series was one of the key influences that inspired me to go back to school and finish my degree. As embarrassing as it is to admit this as an adult, I had planned on pursuing a career in law myself, even though I was fully aware that the law in the real world is nothing at all like the law as it’s presented in the games. It was this inspiration that eventually drove me to finally quit my dead-end job and pursue the life I was always meant to live, even if I had a mistaken idea of what that was at the time. As silly as it sounds, Ace Attorney is one of the things that inspired me to turn my life around (appropriate, for a series where the word ‘turnabout’ is practically ubiquitous)., and so it occupies a very special place in my heart.

So you can imagine my excitement when the fifth game was not only announced, but revealed to be getting the full localization treatment. Up until that point, I had resisted picking up a 3DS (that launched after I quit my job to pursue the calling of a broke-ass student), but that changed less than 7 days after the announcement hit.

Everyone has their vices. Anime lawyer video games are mine.


Why This Millennial Is Unhappy

A while ago, I said I would talk about people and their love of dumping on Millennials. Unfortunately, I saw a bunch of shiny things immediately afterward and forgot all about it. How fortunate, then, that Huffington Post decided to run this piece entitled Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy and remind me that yes, we are still the favorite scapegoat for the current state of the world, and yes, I still have things to say about it.

But before I get into the article proper, here’s a quick primer for people who aren’t hip to the lingo: “Millennials” refers to the generation that is generally believed to consist of young people born between the years 1980 and 2000, following Generation X (1960-1980), the Baby Boomers (1940-1960) and the Greatest Generation (1920-1940). I’m not sure if the trend of naming generations extends before that, and I don’t really think it matters for the purpose of this discussion. It took a while before popular discourse settled on Millenials as the title for us, as even the article in question today uses the more dated “Generation Y”. I’ve also heard the term iGeneration floating around, but I prefer Millennials because it’s less derivative of previous names (like, can you imagine a generation called Baby Boomers’ Babies?) and sounds less like a marketing ploy by Apple.

And according to the media, We Are The Worst.

You’ve all heard the same lines I have, no doubt. We’re entitled. We’re shiftless. We prefer Facebook to face time. We all got trophies for showing up. The dastardly Mr. Rogers told us we were special, and that ruined us. The central problem is that we have too much self-esteem, and as a result we’re a bunch of spoiled brats who expect the world to just give us what we want with nary an ounce of effort on our part.

Political cartoonist and columnist Matt Bors does a pretty thorough rebuttal to the notion of the spoiled Millennials in this strip, but that hasn’t stopped our anonymous friend “Wait But Why” from offering their take. I saw it shared by a few people on my Facebook feed, not as a piece to be mocked (like that Tattoos Lower A Woman’s Social Value guy from a while back), but in solidarity with the message. And because I just LOVE to engage, without further ado, let’s do this:

So right off the bat, Wait But Why (heretofore shortened to WBW) ditches the term ‘Generation Y’ and invents their own term for our generation: “Generation Y Protagonist and Special Yuppie”, or “GYPSY”. Well then. I suppose they could have gone with “Narcissistic Individual Grown from a Generation Expecting Riches”, but THAT might have been in poor taste! I know that not everyone considers “Gypsy” to be a racial slur, but if you’re going to center your article around putting down a group of individuals, headlining it with lines like “GYPSYs are delusional”, maybe, just maybe, you should consider not naming your group of people after a common term for an entire ethnic group. But alright, let’s take this casual racism for granted or else I’m not going to be able to get past the first screen (*exasperated sigh*). WBW seems to employ an infographic style of writing similar to much of The Oatmeal’s work, and as such breaks down ‘happiness’ to the following equation:

“Happiness = Reality – Expectations”

Taken entirely at face value, one might react to this with a resounding “…what?”. It takes a bit of parsing to figure out that they mean level of happiness as a value that can be positive or negative. It’s logically consistent with the argument being presented, but as a rule with this infographic format, the less mental work your reader has to do to comprehend what you’ve written, the better; remember, the goal is to simplify information into easily digestible bites of knowledge. You may think I’m being nitpicky by criticizing this person’s writing style, and you’d be correct; if you’re going to present yourself with an air of superiority over me and my age group, you’d better at least be a better writer than me. In any event, this “equation” ends up being integral to the entire point of the article, which I’ll get into a bit later.

So it goes that WBW presents us with some startling revelations as “The Baby Boomers had it better than the people who grew up in the Great Depression” and “Parents generally want their kids to be even better off than they were” by making up silly graphs that have no mathematical basis whatsoever. What, for example, is “success” measured in? Annual salary? Financial stability? It can’t be such silly notions as “personal satisfaction” or “emotional gratification” because we’ve already established that it’s being presented as an entirely separate variable than ‘happiness’.

The only time this article actually DOES get factual and analytical, it takes the completely nonsensical approach of analyzing how often the phrases “a secure career” and “a fulfilling career” come up in print over time, noting that the latter has gained prominence that the former has lost. How much prominence, precisely? Well according to these folks, the phrase “a fulfilling career” appears in roughly 0.000001% of printed words, or 1 in 100,000,000 or so, whereas “a secure career” comes up 1 in 500,000,000 times. Or something. The figures are so ridiculously low and proves so ridiculously little about anything that I’m almost relieved when we ditch the real math and get back to the truthiness-charts about lawns or whatever.

There’s another occasion where WBW makes an attempt at credibility, and that’s in citing the work of Paul Harvey. The claim is that Paul Harvey “found” that millennials have an increased tendency towards narcissism when entering the workforce. Here’s the issue, though: if one actually reads the cited work, one will see that at no point does Harvey actually provide any supporting data to indicate that the problem of narcissistic employees is especially prevalent among millennials, that’s just an assumption being made by the author (and, arguably, by Harvey himself). If I’m feeling generous, I could call this ‘conjecture’, but it’s really a lot closer to ‘fabrication’.

The remainder of WBW’s piece is more nonsense based entirely on the author’s gut feelings regarding them damn kids. They cap it off by having the nerve to claim that the current job market is “bubbling with opportunity” and you can just “dive right in” and your ambition will take care of the rest. To their credit, they also offer advice that I agree with, namely that one should never measure their own success relative to another’s, but that gets eclipsed by the larger message of the piece, encapsulated in that equation from earlier: “[level of] Happiness = Reality – Expectation”.

Forget the idiotic lawn metaphors and logically bankrupt graphs for a second, let’s just focus on that equation. At its heart, it’s not entirely incorrect; generally speaking, the source of our unhappiness tends to come primarily from unfulfilled expectations. Nothing new here. The problem is that the focus of this article is that expectations are too high, and THAT’S the source of the problem. All of the proposed solutions are not “let’s work to improve the reality of the world”, but “lower your expectations and settle for mediocrity, because that’s all you are and that’s all anyone is”. Criticize some one who has lofty, unrealistic expectations if you must, but I will never get behind the attitude that an unpleasant reality must be satisfactory for all.

Here are a few realities that WBW is asking us to accept:

  • An estimated 2.5 million people are homeless in the United States, over half of which are children (whom I’m sure have lofty dreams including ‘a roof under which to sleep’).
  • While half of post-secondary graduates manage to secure an unpaid internship, about 37% of those result in stable employment, meaning that about 19% of people currently pursuing higher education can expect employment in their field, and then only after working for free for a to-be-determined amount of time.
  • Meanwhile, tuition costs in Alberta have increased approximately 400% in the past 20 years, while its minimum wage has only increased by about 99% in the same time frame. Neither trend is showing any signs of adjustment.
  • As technology continues its rapid evolution, fields of study can not be guaranteed to be reliably employable upon graduation. For example, at the height of the dot-com boom in the early 2000’s, IT workers and graduates were the most sought-after employees. Less than three years later, the bubble burst.
  • Similarly, Canada and the U.S. are seeing an oversaturation of Law School graduates, with fewer and fewer able to find work after investing a minimum of 7 years into their education.

I could go on, and frankly, I’m inclined to, but the bottom line is this: it’s not that our expectations are too high, it’s that reality, as it stands, sucks. We the Millennials were born into the world after two generations’ worth of copious consumption and unbridled industrialization, and then told that the resulting mess is our fault. We came after Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher (may they both rest in unending, eternal agony) convinced the developed world that the best way to stimulate growth was to give more to the rich and less to the poor, after the height of the so-called Me Decade, after the days of free love and free substance abuse, after Richard Nixon declared that medical care was a luxury and not a necessity, after true scientific innovation was abandoned for the sake of seeing how many home appliances we can put TV screens into (so that we can all be exposed to more advertisement), into a world where polliticians have sold us on various unwinnable wars waged on vaguely defined concepts, where we would rather lock up the impoverished than to help them survive, a world that has forgotten that “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” was originally an ironic expression used to illustrate unhelpful advice to do something impossible…

And you have the GALL to blame us for the state of the world.

Meanwhile, the Koch Brothers and the Walton heirs will never want for anything in their entire lives, and not because of an ounce of effort on their part. While the rest of us fight for scraps by working multiple minimum wage shit jobs just so we can afford electricity this month, they can go yachting and attend $10,000/plate ‘fundraisers’. Until any of your ilk are ready to acknowledge this very simple truth, don’t you dare talk down to me about entitlement.

Don’t you dare.