33. Outlander 1.11 – The Devil’s Mark

(The Outlander series of podcasts is not researched or prepared in advance the same way as our regular podcasts. Because of this, our accompanying blog posts will not contain notes/transcripts.)

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/outlander-111-the-devils-mark-0

Episode 1.11 “The Devil’s Mark” – original air date April 18, 2015

The next installment in Nikki and Sher’s Outlander sub-series! We’ll be reviewing all the episodes of Outlander, in honor of droughtlander. We’ll continue reviewing episodes until the end of the series!

As usual, this episode is only pretending to be about Outlander, while Nikki and Sher catch you up on their lives and comment on The Devil’s Mark.

*spoilers for the books and episodes*

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Favorite Quote: “Looks like I’m going to a fucking barbecue.” – Geillis

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!

Hellboy

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/24-hellboy

Hellboy (PG 13)

2004
81% Rotten Tomatoes

Hellboy is a Dark Horse comics character, introduced in 1993. He’s much beloved, but not terribly popular with the masses. That’s fine. More Hellboy for the nerds. Speaking of nerds, Hellboy was directed by Guillermo del Toro, who directed Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak, Blade II, Cronos (also starring Ron Perlman), Mimic, The Hobbit movies, and a berjillion more. And no he is not related to Benicio del Toro. I checked. Guillermo hails from Mexico, and Benicio was born in Puerto Rico. Both beautiful countries, but very much separate places. From what I can find, they’ve never worked on a movie together, which I assume would be like crossing the streams in Ghostbusters. That would be bad, but it would be so worth worth it.

Ron Perlman – I’m not sure if I’m madly in love with him or if I want him to be my protective uncle. It’s very confusing. If you don’t know who Ron Perlman is, you probably shouldn’t be listening to our podcast because you wouldn’t like who we are very much. Just in case you need a primer, Ron Perlman has had an impressive career of doing really cool stuff. He was in the original Beauty and the Beast tv show, Sons of Anarchy, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, etc. He’s been a voice actor on Adventure Time, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Family Guy, Archer; he’s done voices for Call of Duty: Black Ops, some of the Fallouts, some of the Halos; the list goes on and on. He’s one of those actors who’s always working.

A lot of his more popular roles, for some reason, feature him in a lot of heavy prosthetics. I think this has to do with his big hulking frame and his incredible talent. He’s 6’1” and built like a wrestler, but he’s a terrific actor who can play not only humorous and violent, but vulnerable and complicated. This all adds up to him being able to play monsters that have depth, and complex emotional stories. That’s a special niche. This is not to say that Ron Perlman is himself monstrous – he’s got a very affable, pleasant face. At least to me. He has a gravelly deep voice that makes you feel warm and fuzzy, unless you’re on the wrong side of it. And he’s sooo goooood. He disappears into his roles; he’s so engaging and sincere.

Sidenote – So I was looking up pictures of him as a young man, and there was one where he’s got a little girl clinging onto his back, and in one of the comments a person said how this would have made an awesome Bioshock movie and I, in terms of instantaneous mood swings, became elated at the perfection of Ron Perlman as a Big Daddy, and then furious that the timing hadn’t worked out, and then deeply depressed that this movie would never exist. The image is from, I think, a 1995 movie called The City of Lost Children. I mean I guess he still could – the Big Daddies are kind of cyborgs who are mostly metal…

MOVING ON

 

What I find hilarious, laughable, ridiculous, is that all these Nazis, in a desperate move to turn the war back in their favor before they’re defeated, put all their energy and resources into opening a portal to hell in order to unleash an army of demons on the allied forces – but all they manage to conjure up is a baby demon. A baby. A li’l tiny red baby demon. How disappointing that must have been for the Nazis. More importantly – how was that baby in hell if it had a human mother? I’m missing something the comics can probably fill in.

Lucky for us, the Allied forces (Professor Broom to be specific) rescued baby Red from the Nazis and raised him to be a tortured good guy with a love of cigars and cats. Now, as any supernatural kid raised in the human world will tell you, there’s some angst there. He’s not like the other kids. Not just the human kids, but he’s not like the merman kid, either. It’s hard to conceive of the absolute loneliness that comes from being the only one of you, and half EVIL DEMON at that. Especially with the way he looks, there’s no chance people won’t make a snap decision about him.

But we get to skip all that and go straight to adulthood. Hellboy is a crusty, stoic loner who would very much like you to leave him alone to smoke and drink in piece. In del Toro’s hands, his curmudgeonly attitude is charming, but if you’d plopped this character down into a movie like Sin City, he would be moody and dramatic. So I think a lot of credit goes to both Perlman and del Toro for striking a balance of duty and vulnerability, and snark and sincerity. Abe Sapien is pretty much the polar opposite of Big Red, and we need them both.

And it’s important to point out that Hellboy is not at all mean, he’s walled off for sure, but he doesn’t have a narcissistic self-destructive personality where there’s a martyr or victim complex. He’s got some pretty significant issues, but he keeps doggedly doing what needs to be done, even though he gets beat the fuck up in the process. In this way he reminds me a lot of Constantine. Also a grump, and also made extremely lovable because who can hate Keanu? He’s like the best person on the planet. He’s going to be reincarnated as a thousand dogs. He might be a thousand dogs reincarnated, such is his lovableness. And they’re both wise-asses. And they both have lady problems.

Now raise your hand if you thought his fully grown out horns were sexy as hell. Yeah, me too. Why are we so attracted to demonic figures? Trying to find the answers to this question is maddening. There are a number of rabbit holes that skirt around the issue, but none that really stare it in the face. Google thinks the best match is “why are women attracted to bad boys?” and when you click on a couple of those links it gets gross pretty fast. There are a number of sites out there listing the attributes women find attractive, and saying that all we want is money or power, and here’s how to project that confidence and assholery. I assume these are men who get rejected a lot, and so are pitching the blame onto women, instead of developing a decent personality and sense of humor. These are probably the guys who cry about the friend zone, as though women owe them sex and aren’t actual humans you could just be friends with.

The whole “women like bad boys thing” is not new, and honestly it’s not wrong. But… and let me be perfectly clear here, this phenomenon is generally limited to eye lust. Or lust in general. Sure, James Dean looks good in that leather jacket, smoking a cigarette, and being all “fuck tha police”. But we know what happens if we settle down with that guy. You get Marlon Brando from a Streetcar Named Desire. He’s hot, but he’s a dick. Not worth it.

https://thedebrief.co.uk/relationships/dating/dark-triad-attracted/

https://www.healthyplace.com/personality-disorders/psychopath/psychopath-vs-sociopath-what-s-the-difference/

Apparently there’s something called a Dark Triad of personality traits. This collection of traits have their roots in Machiavelli’s The Prince, but show up everywhhhhhhere in literature (now and throughout history) as well as film and tv and real life. Women have these traits as well, but we see them most often in men. Here are the traits: narcissism, which is an extreme self-interest and self-love that goes way beyond healthy self-esteem; Machiavellianism, which is essentially manipulation of other people to get an outcome most beneficial to oneself; and psychopathy, which is a lack of conscience and empathy. Psychopathy is different from sociopathy in that sociopaths do have a conscience and empathy, but they’re shriveled and weak, like atrophied muscles. You would almost be right if you said they were the same, but psychopathy is a more severe form.

BUT SHOULDN’T WE ABHOR THESE TRAITS? Well, sociopaths and psychopaths aren’t necessarily evil people – some of them might just be very socially awkward people. You’re actually more likely to be charmed by a psychopath. They can go full hog into manipulation; lying and telling you what you want to hear to without any emotional baggage. Sociopaths will struggle a little more with this, especially with people they care about. That’s really the hallmark of the triad – manipulation. All of these traits stacked on each other equals a person you absolutely cannot trust, but who designs situations in which you really want to trust them. They’re attractive to us because they’re smooth as melted butter over a well-worn river rock. They’re confident because they love themselves so much, and after a few forays into manipulation with positive results, they exude even more confidence, which is reassuring to others. They’re often ambitious – because of the narcissism they believe they deserve greatness – and so you become quite convinced that they ARE in fact the next big thing. If a man like this has you in his sights, you feel special, even magical, because you know he can have any woman he wants. Aaaaaaaaaaand because of this we tend to overlook their terrible, awful behavior, believing that since we are so special to have been chosen, we are the ones who can change them. Well, some of us. The rest of us see right through these assholes, and try so hard to get our friends to see the light. TO NO AVAIL.

Spratt (the author of the article referenced), says that these men are often very hard to call out on their lies, because their self-deprecating sense of humor protects their ego by essentially giving them plausible deniabilty – “whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? Oooooobbbbbbbviously I was joooooooking. Of course you haven’t caught me in a liiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeee.”

She goes on to state that nurture may play a greater role in creating a dark triad personality than nature. Childhood difficulties such as absent parents or abuse play a great role; it seems to be a response to not being valued by others, so they over-value themselves, take care of their own interests ahead of all others since that was the model they saw of adulthood.

So that’s the Dark Triad – what I’m going to call the worst case. But the spectrum varies from damaged with a heart of gold to outright psychopath (lacking empathy and a conscience). A better way to look at them (and what they say about us) is their alignment, which marks out good or evil, and chaotic or lawful.

So we have the chaotic good (bad boys): Often considered anti-heroes. These are pretty much all the rebel-rebels in the rebel forces in the Star Wars universe. They are rule breakers, like the bad guys, but they do it in the confidence that the rules they’re breaking are merely a hindrance and not really meaningful. They’re on a mission to do good, and rules be damned if they get in the way. They follow their own set of moral guideposts, not society’s.

Examples: Constantine, Jon Snow, the Punisher, the Crow, all of the Watchmen, Khan (from his perspective, he’s doing good for his people), Wolverine

And then there are the chaotic neutrals (bad at friends): These are truly independent characters with no ties or loyalties to anyone but themselves. They will throw you under the bus; they will work both sides if they’re getting something out of it. They’ll lie, cheat, and steal, but they generally don’t hurt people unless they have a reason. Whether they do good or bad, it’s because they feel like it that day. The next day may be completely different.

Examples: The Winter Soldier (eventually), any pirate, Deadshot, Dexter Morgan, Jax Teller, Snape, Zach Morris, Sherlock Holmes, Eric Northman (even though he holds a position of authority within an established bureaucracy, comments are made constantly about how he goes rogue, so I’m keeping him chaotic), Han Solo, Jack Burton, Marv (Sin City), Mal (Firefly), Wolverine (he’s very mercurial)

Chaotic evil (bad guys): Essentially out for destruction, and extremely self-interested. Seemingly evil just for the sake of being evil, as though it’s as arbitrary a trait as hair color. He rules his small band through fear and force, and is violent and unpredictable. Also, they have the best quips.

Examples: Negan, Kurgan, Joker, Damon Salvatore from season 1, Anton Chigurh, Hannibal (some put him in lawful evil, but he doesn’t dominate or orchestrate a large power structure – he’s an independent agent), Loki

But that’s not really what I’m asking. If we want to get philosophical:

Here’s Christianity in a nutshell, at least biblical Christianity, and most centuries after that: women caused the fall, women are evil, they’re weak, they’re temptresses, their brains are dumb, but we keep them around because we made being gay a sin. Adam is the poor, self-sacrificing hero and I’m the villain in the story.

As a woman, it’s hard not to feel that antagonism, and we’ve all had those accusations hurled at us at some point or another, used in an argument for female inferiority. It sucks.

Here comes satanic imagery. Well… I mean… there’s no question who the villain is here. The big red guy with the horns and tail. (Yeah, I know, it’s a stretch.)

But that’s still not what I’m asking – I want to know why I look at Hellboy, or Satan from Legend, or the gargoyle devil guy from Fantasia and lust.

Let’s go back to the bible. I know, I know. But we won’t respect it very much, okay? The fall of Lucifer, we have been taught, was brought about by his pride. He was God’s right-hand-man, the second-in-command. All the hyphens. And then along came Adam. Lucifer didn’t want to be less valuable to God than humans, and because of this pride, God and Satan waged war on one another, one which Lucifer and his army lost. I should say, it’s suggested that a third of the angels were on his side; that is not insignificant. All these pious, godly angels thought Lucifer’s arguments had merit.

Lucifer and his minions were then cast out of heaven, and Lucifer fell to earth in a blaze of beautiful self-righteousness. I’m embellishing, but you get the point. Now – Let’s flip that perspective a little bit. Lucifer just wanted daddy to love him. He had been with God through a lot, and he felt that he was being cast aside in favor of the new puppy. He just wanted to feel valuable and loved by his father. Can you really blame him for being upset? God is kind of an ass in this story. He basically used Lucifer, then iced him out after he created humans, WHO HE GAVE FREE WILL, then said Lucifer was declaring war by demanding he not be neglected, and THREW HIM OUT OF THE HOUSE.

Lucifer is often painted as petulant and vain, but viewed through the lens of the Christian doctrine, Lucifer’s story can be seen as social control for the masses back in the early days (and… the present). Know your place, defer to those closer to God in the hierarchy, take what you’re given and like it, otherwise YOU’RE JUST LIKE SATAN KING OF ALL THAT IS EVIL AND BAD. So UH OH – now Satan is a brooding, misunderstood figure doing the best he can under impossible circumstances. Classic bad boy material. Good job, organized Christianity. You just turned Satan into a sexy, sympathetic figure.

Let’s talk Satanism. Contrary to popular belief, Satanists don’t worship Satan – they just really like blasphemy. But more than that, they’re for intellectual freedom, and that feels like a direct dig at organized religion (at least Christianity) where you’re beholden to the rules of this sky-man, interpreted by humans and corroded down through translations over history. Often, society paints Satanists as evil-doing sex fiends who follow the cult of Anton LaVey, but really a lot of their organized activities revolve around protesting oppression, which are kind of their missionary quests.

The major difference between the LaVeyan Satanism and The Satanic Temple (TST) is that TST is atheistic, and also more engaged in scientific evolution (accepting that scientific understanding will change over time, and beliefs may need to change with it). Anton LaVey, from what I understand, was a drama queen, much like L. Ron Hubbard. TST has taken all the ridiculous stuff out and kept the more Humanism stuff (they differ from Humanists because Humanism doesn’t place such a major emphasis on individual sovereignty and non-conformism).

So if they’re atheist, why call themselves Satanists? They are named for Satan because, “Satan is symbolic of the Eternal Rebel in opposition to arbitrary authority, forever defending personal sovereignty even in the face of insurmountable odds. Satan is an icon for the unbowed will of the unsilenced inquirer… the heretic who questions sacred laws and rejects all tyrannical impositions.” (https://thesatanictemple.com/pages/faq)

Satanism revolves around the following seven tenets (https://thesatanictemple.com/pages/tenets). They’re pretty badass, and essentially you don’t have try too hard if you’re a decent human:

  • One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.
  • The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
  • One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
  • The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.
  • Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.
  • People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.
  • Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written of spoken word.

There’s really nothing I disagree with in those tenets. I get to decide what to do with my own body? Hell yes. Scientific understanding of the world should shape our beliefs? Fuck yeah. Make your mistakes right? WHAT A CONCEPT. The thing I love about these tenets that I find is missing in Christianity is the emphasis on individual agency and responsibility. It’s basically my mantra of “don’t be a dick” but with more details, whereas Christianity is more “don’t be a dick because god said so and you might go to hell if you are a dick and also you should make everyone else not be a dick in the exact same way you’re not a dick.” Satanism is like “if you want to come not be a dick with us, that’s cool, otherwise bye.”

Bustle did an article on six women who’ve joined Satanism. One woman joined for the community of non-theistic, like-minded people. One joined because of Satanism’s emphasis on educating yourself. One woman said it’s a refreshing change from her Christian upbringing, which taught her to keep her head down and take the abuse. She says that Satanism’s core beliefs empowered her. “[Satanism] teaches you that you deserve everything the world has to offer…and you should never feel guilt or shame for getting these things.” Another woman joined for the strong social justice support for issues that affect LGBT persons and reproductive rights, while another woman enjoys the support for gender equality. The last woman interviewed said that Satanism offers encouragement and support for finding your way, whereas her Roman Catholic upbringing gave her only restrictions and guilt.

Notice that none of these women joined because they’re drawn to evil or lust after Satan. So maybe this is still not the answer I’m looking for.

Now, comic book stuff that’s not really addressed in the movie:  Hellboy is important. His destiny is to bring about the apocalypse. Well. Says Rasputin anyway. And as a distant relative of King Arthur, he’s also technically the ruler of England. Well. Says Morgan Le Fay, anyway. Neither of these are terribly reliable sources, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if the fire and brimstone ever come.

Also in the comics, he’s even more crusty and anti-social, from what I understand, and the demons he fights know what he is (the end of all things), so that comes up a lot more in the comics, but it’s said that the first Hellboy movie was based on some of the actual comics but didn’t stick too closely to them. I haven’t yet read any of the Hellboy comics, but the internet gives me the impression that the comics are kind of like episodic detective stories, with this supernatural-hell element being the focus of their investigations. The comics don’t reveal a whole lot about Hellboy’s personal life or past, so when del Toro adapted it for the screen, he had to fill in a lot of context and motivation for the characters that’s necessary for a unified story told over an hour and a half. And the creator of Hellboy, Mike Mignola, worked with del Toro, and so the movie still has the look and feel that he wanted, as far as possible. This is why you never hear me bitching about the differences between movies and books, or comics. They have to be different. It’s one thing if a movie based on a book just plain sucks, but if it doesn’t suck, don’t knock it just because it’s not exactly like the book. You wouldn’t want to sit through a twelve hour movie, would you? We have a culture where everyone who has no experience doing a particular thing loves to shit all over it. Stop shitting on things!

SHOULD WE TALK ABOUT THE NEW HELLBOY AND HOW WE’RE SCARED/EXCITED?

It’s coming in 2019. At first I was pissed because Hellboy stands as a perfect movie. But then I saw the cast – Chief Hopper (David Harbour) will play Hellboy. And then I found out that Milla Jovovich and Ian McShane will also be in it and I decided not to be pissed anymore. And then I saw a picture of new Hellboy and it looks amazing, so now I’m excited. Cautiously, but excited. Also it’s supposed to stick closer to the comics, but I don’t know what that means, really. AND I REALLY DON’T WANT CHIEF HOPPER TO HAVE A SMALLER ROLE IN THE NEXT STRANGER THINGS SEASON. So I’m really conflicted.

Favorite quote: “I’m fireproof.” – Hellboy

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22. The Neverending Story

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/22-the-neverending-story

 

Nikki and Sher depress you with talk of the Cold War (explained in playground terms), reminisce about childhood trauma (mostly caused by this heartless movie), and then inexplicably lecture you on the importance of vaccines and the scientific method. Enjoy this hour of tears!

Articles/sites referenced in the show:

http://notyourmomshow.com/2018/02/14/the-cold-war-explained-through-a-sandbox/

https://www.ic.org/wiki/german-communities-in-the-60s-70-and-80s/

https://www.ic.org/wiki/german-communities-in-the-60s-70-and-80s/

https://www.buzzfeed.com/jamiejones/times-falkor-the-luck-dragon-gave-us-eternal-hope?utm_term=.alqvBYgb6#.rfJy631qL

https://www.buzzfeed.com/adambvary/the-neverending-story-why-adults-should-never-watch?utm_term=.sxM9VWm4l#.ssKgjQveJ

http://www.dorkly.com/post/75705/reasons-the-neverending-story-is-a-psychological-horror-show

Favorite quote: “Confronted by their true selves, most men run away screaming!” – Engywook

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5. Big Trouble in Little China

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/big-trouble-in-little-china

**We had audio troubles – this one is kind of rough. Sorry guys!*

Nikki and Sher find out how Chinatown came about (hint: it’s all Britain’s fault). What does the railroad have to do with it? How are gangs and prostitution related? What is the “magical Asian” stereotype? Find out in this week’s episode!

Articles/sites referenced in the show:

http://www.pbs.org/kqed/chinatown/resourceguide/story.html

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Opium-Wars

http://www.history.com/topics/inventions/transcontinental-railroad)

https://www.americanhistoryusa.com/chinatown-sex-slaves-human-trafficking-san-francisco-history/

http://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/Chinatown-gang-feud-ignited-one-of-SF-s-worst-8348992.php

“Hollywood’s 6 Favorite Offensive Stereotypes.” 

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MagicalAsian

https://thenerdsofcolor.org/2017/01/23/rogue-one-subverts-asian-male-stereotypes-and-thats-important/

 

 

 

Favorite Quote: “I know, there’s a problem with your face.” – Jack Burton

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3. The Crow

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/the-crow

Nikki and Sher talk about ancient Chinese curses, court jesters, and Odin. What is all the hullabaloo about surrounding Bruce Lee’s death? How is that relevant to Brandon’s death? Why are crows so awesome? Nikki gets a call from Russia; what is that about?!

 

http://www.thelastdragontribute.com/does-bruce-lees-game-of-death-reveal-what-really-killed-brandon-lee/

http://www.criteye.com/2015/09/18/the-unsolved-mystery-surrounding-the-death-of-bruce-lee/

http://mysticinvestigations.com/paranormal/bruce-brandon-lee-dragon-curse/

Dark Hunter novels.

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/640914.html

https://arielhudnall.com/2015/09/06/archetypes-jester/

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/similar-species-crows-and-ravens/

Favorite Quote: “CAW” – supernatural crow

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2. Mad Max: Fury Road

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/mad-max-fury-road

Nikki and Sher summon the apocalypse and talk about feminism! Drinking game: take a shot every time Sher messes up “post-apocalyptic.” Does Max even belong in this movie? What’s up with all that milk? Is Furiosa the feminist hero that will herald a new era in Hollywood?

Articles/sites referenced in the show:

 

 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/27/sexists-are-scared-of-mad-max-because-it-is-a-call-to-dismantle-patriarchies

http://nypost.com/2015/05/14/why-mad-max-fury-road-is-the-feminist-picture-of-the-year/

http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2015/05/no-mad-max-fury-road-not-feminist-masterpiece-s-ok

https://www.quora.com/Why-is-Mad-Max-Fury-Road-being-called-a-feminist-movie

Favorite Quote: “Ahhh, mediocre.” – Immortan Joe

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1. The Princess Bride

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/the-princess-bride

Join Nikki and Sher for an exploration of the political climate surrounding The Princess Bride, a questioning of the trope of twue love, and a discussion of the presence or absence of feminism.

Articles/sites referenced in the show:

 

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/08/28/american-dreams-1973-the-princess-bride-by-william-goldman.html

Favorite Quote: “You’re trying to kidnap what I’ve rightfully stolen.”  – Vizzini (perspective of purpose)

What did YOU think of the topics we discussed? We’d love to hear from you!

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24. Hellboy

Listen to the podcast here: http://notyourmom.libsyn.com/24-hellboy

Nikki and Sher talk bad boys, Satanism, and go on a drunken rant about Christianity. Also, we get around to talking about the upcoming remake. Join us!

Articles referenced in the show:

https://thedebrief.co.uk/relationships/dating/dark-triad-attracted/

https://www.healthyplace.com/personality-disorders/psychopath/psychopath-vs-sociopath-what-s-the-difference

https://www.bustle.com/p/6-women-reveal-why-they-became-satanists-2984953

https://thesatanictemple.com/pages/faq

https://thesatanictemple.com/pages/tenets

Favorite quote: “I’m fireproof.” – Hellboy

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So here’s the thing about doing what you love…

I’m sitting here in a puddle of self-pitying insecurity. I have been bouncing from site to site like a demented flea, looking for validation any place I can find it. Eventually I’ll break out the beer and find it there.

self-doubt-yes-sir-that-is-what-your-are-demotivational-poster-1261272512-573x700

(*you’re)

I keep hearing from big, successful people that if you want to break the shackles of your nine-to-five prison and make a living at what you love, then Just Do It. It’s that simple, and that hard. Your dreams won’t magically fall into your lap. If that were true, Keanu Reeves would have been too busy to make any movies lo these past ten years (wink, wink). You have to just take the first step, and then the next and the next and the next and then boy, you’re really doing it! Look at you living your dream!

tt9mr

There is no end of general advice just like this, because specific (read: helpful) advice is not applicable to a wide range of people, and therefore not in the purview of a public figure to dole out. Just do the thing you love, but make sure it’s for the right reasons – not for fame or success or accolades. I’m looking specifically at you, Chris Hardwick, you childless menace of my expectations. I listen to your podcast, and you give this advice constantly. Granted, I know your heart is in the right place, but there are a few considerations that make my perspective a little different. So to make this easy on myself, I’ll just pretend like I’m telling this directly to your smug face. I’m sorry, that was mean. You have a nice face; it’s very affable.

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So here’s the thing. I am doing the thing. But I’m not doing it very well. The thing in question is a podcast with my bestie, and also I’m trying to write whenever I can because it’s my passion. The problem is… no one really cares. At least in the sense of general public attention. And we never expected to have a super successful podcast and be famous, nor did I expect to suddenly be the next David Wong. But darn it, it would be nice to know people enjoy what we put out there. And I just don’t know how to get people to pay attention. The solution to which… the general advice is to just do the thing harder.

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Now here’s the sitch. I have a family, a house, a dog, friends. All these entities require my attention. I also need to sleep, and I need to spend quality time with my kids and my husband, and sometimes those are separate activities (wink, wink). I have household logistics to be planned, delegated, and executed. There are dishes and laundry and school projects and doctor appointments and frantic library book returns and unexpected medical emergencies, and oh yeah I HAVE A FULL TIME JOB ON TOP OF ALL THIS. I’m not saying that people with kids just don’t understand, BUT YOU JUST DON’T FREAKING UNDERSTAND. Even if you DO have kids one day, you’re (I assume) at least moderately wealthy. So you have this additional layer of cushion under your sense of agency, knowing that you can hire a nanny from time to time, or even permanently, if you need one. Or someone to drive the kids to and from school and other activities. I don’t have that kind of scratch, so it all comes out of my time-pocket. And honestly, in my downtime, I am e-x-h-a-u-s-t-e-d and sometimes (most of the time) I succumb to it.

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Being a parent takes away a part of who you were. It replaces that with something beautiful, but also something very sad. You’re not the independent adult you used to be. Your hobbies drop off, your interests change, your inspirations wither from disuse, your inner monologue gets mean. It doesn’t have to be permanent – goddammit I hope it’s not permanent. I’m at the place now where my kids aren’t quite so little any more and maybe I have a little more space in my brain. Now it’s my task to figure out how to break apart what I’ve become and push into those cracks some of the pieces of what I used to be. I know I’m not going to be the same as I was before, and I don’t want to be. Not exactly. But trying to remake yourself after years of systematic squashing of your selfish side – the part of you that just goes after what it wants – is daunting, exhausting, and terrifying. I have to get to know myself again. That’s not something that can be solved with a weekend of meditation and yoga. I’ve been splintered into two pieces – the parent and the person. They don’t fit together very well, so I have to sand down and spot weld both pieces, but where? How? HOW?

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If it was just me and my husband, I could work part time and really throw myself into writing until I had established enough success (hopefully?) to do it full time, and with great and joyful abandon. But that doesn’t fly with kids who need room to grow, and decent food to eat, and glasses, and who outgrow their clothes constantly. So I have to keep my full time job, and devote a lot of my free time to my kids’ quality of life. Where is the advice for people like me, who need more than four hours of sleep at night and have to be present for the family while they’re awake, and who will go bat-shit crazy if they don’t get to actually sit down and eat their lunch during the work day? HMMMM?

<interruption: I had to stop typing for a moment because my four-year-old, who is supposed to be sleeping, came to tell me that he thinks a human is sleeping under his bed. His words. There’s a lot to unpack there, so that will have to be for another time>

I guess I just keep plugging along and hope that what I do manage to produce gives me enough validation to feel proud of myself. But… nobody is really listening. Here’s what no one ever addresses in a way that’s satisfactory. How in the ever-loving fuck do you get any social media engagement? I mean really! HOW. IN. THE. EVER-LOVING. FUCK. There’s this “if you tweet it, they will come” mentality, but… NO. It doesn’t work like that. Unless I’m just really bad at it. All the advice is “engage with your followers!” HOW DO I GET THEM. “Have a great product and people will find you!” NO THEY WON’T. People just don’t give a fuck about anything. And you know what? I’m doing all this without the benefit of any kind of budget to speak of, and with no background whatsoever in entertainment. YOU SIR, have been working in the industry since the 90’s. So even if you weren’t Tom Cruise famous, you had connections with people who know entertainment – you had a good scaffolding in your brain of knowledge of how these things work. I don’t have a bunch of famous friends I can interview that will create a self promoting machine. I haven’t the faintest idea what strategies to use, what will get people’s attention, what channels there are to go about promoting things. How do I promote things? Tweet to my 12 followers?? I tell my friends, but there’s this funny thing that happens. I don’t know if it’s specific to non-entertainment industry friendships or not, but it’s what I’ve observed to be true. People are really supportive with their words, and much less so with their actions. So you hear things like “Oh my gawwwd, you guys are so funny, you should have a podcast or a show or something! You guys should make videos!” Then you make the podcast, and suddenly no one has the time to hit the goddamn “share” button or even take the time to listen. That’s what happens. So this thing of “just tell all your friends, and they’ll tell their friends, and they’ll tell their friends, and yay exponents!” is predicated on faulty logic. I don’t run with a community of independent artists that are used to supporting each other in this way. No shade to my friends, they’re fantastic people. It’s just human nature, I think.

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*breaks out the beer*

Now all this time I’ve been bitching, here’s what I know to be true. For our podcast, we have been at it almost a year. So it’s still a little early to be bitter about it. And we love it very much – someone will have to pry the microphone out of our cold, dead hands before we give it up. And I’m sure we’ve made, and are making mistakes. I know about some of them. We haven’t got the best equipment, or even the space or the time for a dedicated podcast area that we can make acoustically appropriate, but in the interest of just doing the thing… we just do the thing. For my writing, I know I don’t have enough content out there. But see above – how am I supposed to make time for this, with everything else I have to do? It’s discouraging, and it makes the thing I love feel like an exercise in futility, because I love writing, but I don’t do it for myself. I want other people to enjoy it, and I want to know they enjoy it. It will make me HAPPY.

*chugs*

So in conclusion, I know what the problems are on a surface level. But it’s not as easy as just do the thing. I would love to hear from anyone who reads this what tactics and strategies they’ve had success with, either for getting their stuff out there in way that’s not just screaming into the void, or for keeping their spirits buoyed when you’re in a whiny bitch mood like I am now.

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By the way, if you’ve gotten here, THANK YOU for reading! 😀

*guzzles*

The Cold War, Explained Through a Sandbox

(expounded from a post on The Neverending Story)

The Cold War (like all wars, really) is all very complicated, so if you just imagine a playground, I think we can get through it.

We’re going to jump into this pretty much ignoring Sandbox Scuffle I, when this kid named Franz got hit in the face by a dart gun and had to go home, spawning a group tantrum of epic proportions, never seen before in sandbox history. Suffice it to say that after this point, these kids had all seen scuffles before and were no innocent daisies.

So this Boris kid had previously been kinda friends with this American kid named Chad during Sandbox Scuffle II. Chad and Boris had worked together with a bunch of other kids: Nigel, Gaston, Jax, Maple, Xena, Arjun, and Hai to defeat Adolf, Giovanni, and Haruto, who were being really mean to a lot kids, especially Kunte, Abraham, Esmeralda, and Butch. A lot of other kids who wanted to help buy stay out of the fighting quietly helped as many of the bullied kids get out of harm’s way as they could, but sadly, most of the targeted kids had to be picked up by their parents, never to return to the playground. Chad, Boris, and their friends finally succeeded in banishing Adolf and his friends, though.

When Sandbox Scuffle II ended, Boris gathered his bully forces and decided that Chad was now the greatest threat because Chad was running around telling their friends from SSII that if Boris spread his friends out too far in the sandbox, Chad would help push him back. Chad and Boris weren’t really getting along before SSII, but they pushed it aside in order to get rid of Adolf and company. After he was gone, though, they remembered they weren’t friends.

The problem started because Chad and Boris couldn’t see eye to eye on how play time should work. Boris wanted everyone to have access to the exact same toys, and Chad wanted everyone to compete for a few really awesome toys, which would leave most everyone with really shitty toys. Perhaps more importantly than that, Boris wanted his friends only to say they liked broccoli even if they didn’t, but Chad was foot-stompingly adamant that kids should be able to say they didn’t like broccoli if that’s how they really felt.

Now here’s where these kids both shared great turd-like qualities: they did most of their fighting in OTHER kids’ sandboxes. Their power wheels and toy guns were all still broken from fighting with Adolf, so would try to go places where there were only a few of each other’s friends. Chad would go to Boris’s friends in other parts of the sandbox, who didn’t have as much sand to begin with, to tear down the sandcastles that Boris and the other kid were building together, and vice versa. This means that Boris and Chad didn’t get their sand castles destroyed, but those other kids far away sure did.

Meanwhile, a few kids who were sick of this shit ruining their day decided to say they were going to be friends with both Boris AND Chad, just for the sake of keeping their sandcastles in tact. So now Chad and Boris are running around being all petty and manipulative. If there are kids without clear alliances, they would try and help them with some problem they were having in order to make the kid feel loyal to them. Every now and again Boris and Chad came close to a slap fight, but nothing major.

This manipulation ended up causing more problems for all the kids, because everyone was confused all the time about who they could play with and who they were supposed to hate. One day Chad tried to take Elian’s part of the sandbox, but little know to him, Boris had been secretly trying to woo Elian to his side, and convinced him to stock up on a really terrible weapon in case Boris wanted to use it against Chad (because Elian was a lot closer to Chad’s part of the sandbox than Boris). And we all know, if someone poops the sandbox, no one can play in it anymore. Everyone got so scared, that Chad put Elian in the corner and wouldn’t play with him for the next 50 years just because he stored Boris’s poop for him.

Up to this point, Hai had been kind of hanging out with Boris, giving him tips on how he had managed to win over his own set of friends to play in a way similar to what Boris envisioned, but after this Hai felt like he was one poop away from having to go home and started spending less time with Boris. Conversely, Chad’s friends thought maybe they should do more than just wait for Chad to plan everything out for them. They started being more proactive about messing up all of Boris’s sandcastles.

For some reason, through all of this Adolf’s old turf became the line of demarcation – kids that hung out on one side, Boris claimed were his, and kids that played on the other side, Chad claimed as his. Some of these poor kids really weren’t friends with one or the other, but were stuck where they were because because they wanted to play with friends on that particular side, or else a sand castle they had been working on just happened to be in that spot. The kids on Boris’s side kept slipping away to Chad’s side however, because… well Boris was kind of a shit to everyone. Boris had a tantrum when he found out about this, and built a sand wall to keep people from leaving him. Friends that were separated by the wall were very sad about not being able to see each other.

During all this drama, in come the stomp rockets. Somehow Boris and Chad had both gotten their hands on some stomp rocket kits that Adolf hadn’t been able to figure out, and they were both hellbent on getting them assembled and into the air before the other one. There was a very small sandbox nearby, so small and far away that no one could actually pee on it, but both kids figured that landing their stomp rocket in that satellite sandbox would be a good enough way to mark it as their own and thus establish dominance. Boris got his stomp rocket assembled and airborne first, and would forever throw it in Chad’s face. But Chad ultimately got his rocket all the way to that tiny speck of sand first, and would forever throw it in Boris’s face.

Meanwhile, Chad had figured out how to get more sand into his part of the sandbox, while Boris didn’t have enough sand to go around for all of his friends, so they started talking about leaving his group. Finally Boris’s friends got sick of his shit and overthrew him by tearing down his stupid sand wall. After seeing his symbolic iron first laying in ruins, the fight went out of Boris, and he retreated to his corner to drink vodka and judge Chad forevermore.

Legend (not that you’ll need it):
Sandbox Scuffle I = World War I
Sandbox Scuffle II = World War II
Franz = Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Boris = Soviet Union
Chad = America
Nigel = England
Gaston = France
Jax = Australia
Maple = Canada
Xena = New Zealand
Arjun = India
Hai = China
Adolf = Adolf Hitler
Giovanni = Italy
Haruto = Japan
Kunte = those with African heritage
Abraham = Jews
Esmeralda = Gypsies
Butch = the Gays
Elian = Cuba
poop = the Cuban Missile Crisis
stomp rocket = the Space Race
sand wall = the Berlin Wall