Vacation Sucks Part Deux

I have already written a post about why I cannot for the life of me enjoy vacations, but I thought it would be a fun experiment to write another post about it. It seems I cannot figure out why I am so miserable on vacations even though this misery has occurred year after year for more than a decade: I still have no clue why I hate vacations so much. So I thought it would be fun to write a new post without reading the previous post. It might be fun and enlightening comparing and contrasting these two posts, so let’s see what happens.

As a quick introduction if you haven’t read the first post: I hate vacations. For some reason while I can’t wait to take vacation actually being away from works leaves me on-edge. I feel like I should be doing something and my general mood is one of being lost, undirected, and antsy. It’s like a perpetual feeling of having something you need to do without there being anything to actually do. I find that I cannot relax as something is always prodding around in my head telling me that “You should probably be doing something right now, shouldn’t you?” It’s even worse because the feelings are so contradictory: how can you be both bored and feeling like you have something to do?

I’ve always been this way and the problem only gets worse year after year. You see, I work a union job and when I started I was given two weeks of vacation: one week was a mandatory vacation week and the other was an optional week. This wasn’t too big of a problem because I only had to be gone one or two weeks out of 52. The problem is worse now that I have three weeks of mandatory vacation and one optional week: I’m forced on vacation for 3 out of the 52 weeks in a year (5% of the year if that helps). Considering this it’s no wonder that my vacation anxiety has increased as my vacation weeks have increased. I now have almost an entire month every year where I have unavoidable anxiety, antsiness, and uselessness that I dread every time a vacation week comes up. It is a shitty feeling.

I want to also note how stupid it is to actually complain about taking vacation! Most people don’t get jack shit for vacation and are nearly forced to work every week of the year. Complaining that you’re not happy on vacation sounds like a rich person complaining about their house being too big. Like, wow bro, that sucks but it sure is hard to feel sorry for you when you own three Ferraris.

So I have this predicament every year where I’m forced to take off work and am mostly miserable while off. This had lead me to try various techniques to make myself feel better and none has really worked over the years. My first technique was to spread the weeks out evenly through the year; this allowed me to “enjoy” my vacations throughout the year while breaking up the flow of constant work. This just allowed for multiple shitty weeks to appear throughout the year. I’ve tried making “to-do” lists while I’m on vacation but this only seems to pressure me into doing chores all the time; I end up feeling busy and pressured even if I am off work. My usual go-to technique has been to simply drink: by drinking you keep yourself entertained, busy, and preserve your sense of self-worth (mostly because you’re fucking drunk and life is fun and confusing and you can do random shit). I used to think my vacation drinking hinted at something deeper psychologically; I now think I drink just to not be fucking bored.

Making matters worse is having anxiety about going back to work! You’d think that being miserable on vacation would make work seem appealing, but it doesn’t. It seems that after I actually go on vacation I do enjoy something about being away from work. So that going back to work also gives me anxiety. What the fuck is wrong with me? Am I just never happy?

My new theory is that I hate adjusting to new things. It isn’t so much going to work or staying home from work that I hate, but that I hate changes to my daily/weekly routine. This could explain why I have a mild hatred of the weekends to. It isn’t that I’m bored or used to being busy or needing projects to do but with just flip-flopping from “work mode” to “vacation mode” and back to “work mode” over and over throughout the year. Obviously placing vacations separate from each other would only serve to worsen my mood as I’d have more “adjusting” to do. This seems to be the case with past experiences. I simply hate adjusting to new things that break my daily flow.

The obvious solution to this problem is to take all of my vacation weeks at the same time: instead of having a week here and there off I’d take an entire month off! This initially sounds like it would be bad as you probably don’t want to go back to work, but according to my theory, this should minimize the number of “adjusting” phases. When you go on vacation you hate life but — as people do — you adjust to your new norm. After you adjust you can enjoy your time away from work! The same is true for when you go back to work; yes, it’ll suck at first but after a few days you adjust to the new normal and you’re more or less happy able to deal with life.

A small problem appears here though: I don’t have enough seniority to pull off a block of vacations! While I tried it this year I simply couldn’t. My vacations this year are all a week or two apart. I take a week off work, I work a week, then I take another week off, and back to work…and so on. Luckily my weeks off are still close enough together that I can sort of “remember” the vacation mindset and each week of vacation is slightly more enjoyable than the weeks before it. While I haven’t solved the problem I seemed to have minimized it this year.

Another thing that I’ve found that helps is to have a “suggested to-do list”. I bitched before about having a “strict to-do list” because this makes you feel obligated to do things on vacation. It just feels like a chore list. My “suggested to-do list” is merely that: a list of thing that I can and should work on, but they’re more like large projects than simple “to-do” menial shit. For example I had things like “finish a painting,” “finish and ebook,” and “write blog posts” for my list. If I’m bored, antsy, or depressed I just look at the list and begrudgingly sit down to work on a project even if I don’t want to.

This “keep busy at all expenses” has lead to a unique few weeks off of work. A few of these are large projects, but most of them are just random shit that I decided to do while not having anything better to do. Boredom leads to creativity, even if it is a stupid sort of creativity. Here’s what I actually did do during my past three weeks off of work:

I’m really proud of this so, yeah, shameless self promotion.
  • Finished Facebook Sucks ebook
  • Paint a picture of Princess Zelda
  • Wrote a few blog posts
  • Washed and waxed my car
  • Changed my dad’s car’s brakes
  • Helped put my dad’s car’s tire back on after it randomly fell off
  • Helped put my dad’s car’s lug nuts back on after the tire almost fell off randomly a second time
  • Got high on cough medicine
  • Helped my dad buy/install a car battery while high on cough medicine
  • Listened to music
  • Went on a 34-mile bike ride
  • Went on a bunch of shorter bike rides
  • Got high on cough medicine a second time
  • Figured out the meaning of life while high on cough medicine
  • Forgot the meaning of life because I didn’t write it down
  • Read some books
  • Cleaned and greased bike bearings
  • Put a new AC on our shitty Dodge Caravan
  • Change brakes on my friend’s car
  • Shitposted on Facebook
  • Went to (and hated) Six Flags
  • Made candles
  • Finished and published a book on options trading
  • Mowed the yard a few times

That was kinda a rambly post, so to wrap things up a little bit: I hate vacations and have always hated vacations. I’m always bored/unmotivated and feel anxious/on-edge with a persistent feeling that there’s really something I should be doing. Over the years I’ve tried various techniques — like making lists and breaking up my vacation — in a futile attempt to enjoy my vacations. This year I’ve realized that, maybe, my vacations suck because I need to adjust to being away from work. My anxiety is mostly from having an extra five hours of free time a day that I don’t know how to utilize. Going back to work also has one of these “adjustment phases” so my grand idea was to take all my vacation at once to minimize these “adjusting phases”. I also wasn’t able to do this this year. And to keep myself busy on vacation I’ve resorted to various random things that sound really stupid when you write them out. So that’s it: vacation sucks because you have to adjust to being on vacation in the first place to enjoy it.

Looking back on my last vacation post wasn’t as interesting as I expected. I didn’t get into the nitty-gritty psychological details as to why I can’t enjoy vacation. I mostly complained about the fact that I never do anything on vacation and how I squander the entire week off. Something about having too much free time causes you to procrastinate endlessly. I also hinted at some deep interplay between anxiety and productivity that I touch on in an upcoming post. To hint at: apparently I’m more productive and motivated the more stressed out I am, which is counterintuitive.

My Post on Watermelons Sucks

…and Purposefully Writing a Popular Post

Sometimes as a blogger you write a post (or posts) that you’re really proud of. Personally, I’m fond of my recent 4th of July post (the banner image is amazing…) as well as a few others. There are also a few posts that you don’t really think are that good, especially in retrospect. Usually the posts I make about daylight savings time, calendars, or other shit are kinda lame and boring; I understand why these posts aren’t that popular. Sometimes I find myself writing posts such as those just to post something. They’re posts I’m not that into and know they’re not going to be popular, but since they fit in well with the theme of this blog there isn’t a reason to not post them.

I’ve noticed a strange thing checking my WordPress user feedback data over the past few months that I never would’ve expected; somehow my post on picking out watermelons is continually the most (or one of the most) read posts week after week and month after month. At first I thought it might just be a fluke as if people in the world somehow decided to look up information about watermelons and stumbled upon my post. I even thought it might be a summer thing where, naturally, people might Google watermelons more than they would in December. This didn’t seem to be right and after a couple of months I just accepted it: my watermelon post is somehow my most popular post.

Here’s an example of the screen I’m talking about. As you can see, it is ranked second after my stupid post about Apex Legends, but it’s still up there. Making this even more pronounced is the fact that the Apex post is relatively new as it was written in March 2019. The goddamn watermelon post was written two damn years ago! In third place is the Little Mermaid post which might still be experiencing a boost from it being a recent topic on social media. I expect that to be completely forgotten in a few months though. So why is the watermelon post so popular and why does that suck?

As hinted at earlier, us bloggers have certain favorite posts that we’re proud of and other posts that we’re not so proud of. I think this is true of any artist; the musician has songs they like and the painter has artwork they like. One theme that seems to come up when you hear about artists with options of their own work is that they seem to consistently misjudge what is popular and what isn’t popular. Artists like works of theirs that the general population doesn’t while the general population likes things the artist themself isn’t fond of. It’s a well-known example that the band Black Sabbath recorded the song Paranoid as a quick-and-easy album filler song; the song has with time become one of their most popular songs. Kurt Cobain famously said that Smells Like Teen Spirit was just a Pixies rip-off song.

I suppose that’s how I feel about The Watermelon Post (although I don’t mean to imply it’s a masterpiece like the examples above). I went back and reread it to see if there was any sort of magic behind the post: I couldn’t find a damn thing special about it. I recall that I did have fun writing such a stupid post and I ran with it’s subject matter in a ridiculous way, but I don’t think that qualifies as “magic” at all. Maybe my lack of giving a shit slightly altered the tone of the post and made it fun and light-hearted? Maybe it hit that magical middle-ground of being both fun and informative? In the grand scheme of how I feel about my blog posts I’d put The Watermelon Post in the middle of my writings: I don’t hate it but I don’t think it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever written. To me it’s kinda a mid-tier, meh, so-so sort of post. Just like the example with musicians, it’s a post that I didn’t expect to be popular but somehow is.

I don’t know if there’s any sort of lesson to gleam from this fact or not; for the most part I find it amusing and fucking stupid. It’s hilarious to spend hours making a “good” post only for it to receive lukewarm reception whereas a quick “throw-away” post can find long-term success. If anything I guess it cements the fact that you can’t really write something good on purpose seeing as you are not the intended audience. While the blogger can have a fairly good idea of what will be successful we are not our own audience so there is some disconnect that occurs. You can’t totally get out of your head as a writer/artist to see how your art will be received. You can’t be sure what will be successful and what will fall flat on its face. If anything this somewhat stresses being passive about your work. As a throwback to my last post on publishing ebooks, if you get your hopes up too high about a project you risk disappointment if it fails to meet your lofty expectations. Conversely, you could have a project that you’re not really into turn into a huge hit for some unforeseen reasons. At the end of the day you need to just keep writing, blogging, making music, or whatever the fuck it is that you do. Because while you think you’re making a shitty Watermelon Post the world might actually find something of worth that you overlooked. It’s this inability to judge how your work is from an outside perspective that really sucks.

Publishing (and Selling!) ebooks Sucks

Last week I was on vacation and as an attempt to save myself the self-hatred and directionlessness that I feel while on vacation I made it a goal to finally finish and publish an ebook. I’m proud to say I’ve accomplished this but at the same time any actual “victory” seems to not be much of a victory at all. While I’ve finally published a book, it really doesn’t mean much in the long run and surely isn’t an instant ticket to success even though I wasn’t really expecting it to be.

What did I write about? I wrote about Facebook. I elaborated in a few recent blog posts about how I was thinking of collecting my Facebook Sucks posts into an ebook: it would be easy to do and I wouldn’t have to feel any pressure for it to be perfect. Perfection is always a hurdle when doing anything for the first time. For my first ebook why would I want to spend months or years making it perfect when it would surely end up as trash and not sell? By gluing blog posts into a book I wouldn’t be making a masterpiece but I could take the first step needed to actually be a writer.

I want to cover two things here: how it was actually writing an ebook and how it was publishing that ebook. Luckily (for this blog at least) each aspect sucked giving me plenty of content to write about!

You’d think that gluing individual blog posts into a book would be really easy but it wasn’t. Each blog post was written as its own stand-alone format; when you try to smash them together as “chapters” in a book you’re left with a really disjointed book. It sounds like what it is: a bunch of shit just tossed together. While most of the content was already written I still had to reread and edit all the posts to be “chapters” instead of “blog posts.” This wasn’t really difficult but wasn’t exactly as easy as I thought it would be. I also had to give some thought as to the general flow of the book, how the chapters would fit into the entire project, and edit them accordingly.

And obviously you can’t just slap a handful of blog posts into a book and call it day either! You need to make it, well, like a fucking book so I had to write an introduction and a few more “body” chapters to ease into where the blog post chapters were taking me. As before this wasn’t exactly hard (mostly as bitching about Facebook comes as naturally to me as breathing or eating does) but it was something I didn’t expect to be as laborious as it was. In fact I think previously written blog posts made up less than half the book; I tired to write an “easy” “blog-based” book and ended up writing a book that had a few blog posts for chapters. Most of the book was totally new content so that was more work than intended.

Then there’s editing the damn thing! You have to pour over the entire document proofreading for proper spelling, punctuation, grammar, as well as making sure you don’t sound totally fucking stupid in your writing. This part could’ve been avoided by finding a “proper” editor instead of doing it myself; that entails its own list of bullshit like being social and actually talking to people. While I wanted to finally write an ebook I wasn’t trying to be social or anything and wanted to rely on others as little as possible.

Along with everything else, actually publishing wasn’t too difficult but still tossed up its own unexpected troubles here and there. My book was ready to go but was there anything else I had to worry about? Yes. Consider a book cover: this is the first and usually only thing people see about your book. If you fuck it up the cover one will think about reading it. It could be the next Great Gatsby but no one will read it because the cover is shit. I felt immense pressure trying to make a decent cover and while I think I did a decent job it still looks unprofessional. If you totally forgot the fact that your book needed a cover you’d be in a difficult spot trying to publish a book.

My book cover. Kinda cool but kinda amateurish at the same time.

Kindle Direct Publishing throws a few more immensely important tasks at you beyond the book cover. What is your book’s keywords going to be? This is how Amazon relates search terms to actual products so these have to be dead on accurate. Even worse is you only get seven terms to use. Each one has to be near perfect. The same is true for your book’s category: it has to reflect what the book is about. Plopping a fantasy fiction book in the “technical writing” section of Amazon simply won’t do you any favors and I ran into trouble at this point. Was my incessant ranting about Facebook a “social science” book on the effects of social media, or was it a commentary on internet and computer culture? I still feel bad about the categories I selected because they don’t seem to reflect the book at all. Hell, I don’t even remember what categories I slapped my book in.

You also have to write a “summary” of your book which, after the cover, is the second most important thing people use to decide when purchasing a book. After going through the exhausting process of writing and editing and making a cover you probably don’t want to write more in a desperate last-minute effort to summarize your book. If you’re thinking of publishing write a fucking summary ASAP. At the very least have an idea for one in your mind.

After dealing with all of that intense decision making you upload your book (in a .doc file or whatever) and check out how it’s formatted. I didn’t have any issues here. The rest is pretty simple: pick a price for your book and all of that shit. After a 24 hour(ish) period your book appears and, well, you’re now a published author. Congratulations! But you probably don’t have long to feel accomplished because you probably won’t actually sell anything…

I shared my book to the Everything Sucks Facebook page as well as my own personal page. I figured at least a few of my friends would check out my cheaply-priced $2.99 ebook because they were curious or felt some sympathy for me. Even a week later my sales stand, pathetically, at zero. Check this out:

If this picture looks bland it’s because I didn’t sell any fucking books.

It’s hard not to feel like shit over this, especially after doing all the work to actually write a book. I recall when one of my Facebook friends made an ebook (it was a single short story too, not even a real fucking book); I paid the 99 cents to support him because I’m a nice guy like that. Of course a bunch of other people also supported him and he was just amazed at the positive feedback his book received! I figured I could count on selling at least a few copies out of “support sympathy” or whatever you want to call it, but nope. The goddamn book only got two likes on my personal page. Fuckers.

I guess I don’t want to bitch about my friends not buying my book because you can’t be a successful author limping along with your only reliable readers being your friends/family. But I do want to bitch about the fact that doing anything is fucking hard. And, once again, doing something for the first time is the hardest. Doing anything for the first time usually involves the greatest amount of effort because you don’t know what you’re doing at a time when you have zero self-confidence keeping you motivated and focused. When you do persevere and accomplish your “first” the reception is usually either luke-warm (or nonexistent) and this can totally crush any self-confidence you’ve accomplished at achieving your goal. This is a really risky and dangerous time because if you’ve busted your ass to make progress and have had no success afterward, why would you want to continue?

Luckily I don’t think I’m dumb enough to fall for that trap again and am already working on a second ebook because who gives a fuck? Sometimes I think the real measure of success is just chipping away at something because you don’t actually care if it’s received well. I could stress out constantly over the fact that no one will probably read anything I publish and hate myself for it, or I can say “Fuck it. I’ll publish another one.” and shrug it off. What else is there really to do except make progress? So while I’ve accomplished actually publishing, had it be recieved anticlimactically, and feel kinda shitty about it I know that I need to keep moving forward because the first of anything is usually shit. So, yeah, publishing (and selling) an ebook kinda sucked.

If you want to actually check the book out here’s the link. It’s only $2.99 so it shouldn’t break your bank account.

Amusement Parks Suck

Yesterday the family and I went to Six Flags Great America, an amusement park in Gurnee Illinois. I’ve been there a handful of times throughout my life, but I can say for a fact that yesterday I did not have a good time. Amusement parks might be one of those things that sours with age (or maybe it’s my perpetually shitty mood) where most adults suffer through a near hell for the pleasure of their kids/family because that’s what it was: a near-hellish environment of starvation, sunburn, dehydration, walking, price-gouging, and perpetual line-standing. Sure the rides — when you actually found yourself on one –were fun enough but everything else you had to deal with outweighed any small amount of fun you found yourself having. And, oh God, the people. You can’t forget the people…

Tickets? Membership? Season Passes? Flash Pass? What?

With amusement parks the bullshit begins well before you arrive: purchasing tickets. It’s not so much purchasing the tickets that is bad, it’s trying to navigate through the maze of pricing options to find what is actually the cheapest. Take a look at their website for yourself. This is obviously done on purpose to confuse you into “the best deal” where you inevitably pay more than you probably should. They have tickets at the gate ($79.99), tickets you buy in advance for a specific day (Advance Purchase Ticket: “as low as $59.99”) and tickets where you can go on any day you want (Any Day Ticket: a lone “Buy Now” button with no price listed). There are season passes (Standard and Gold), and memberships (Gold Plus, Platinum, Diamond, Diamond Elite), and parking tickets/passes, and there is even a fucking food pass where you supposedly get a free meal each day you’re at the park. I’m sure the food pass also has tiers for some reason.

It’s not so much the options but finding what option is best for you with the confusing and convoluted marketing terms tossed at you. (For example prices given in “per month” terms, or the banners stating “BEST DEAL!!”/”BEST VALUE!!”, “prices as low as…”, etc. I’ve even seen something that stated “As low as $7.99 per month” which alternatively stated means “the cheapest version is $100 and lasts for a season.”) If you’re going for a single day, the single day ticket is the best, but this is cheaper if you preorder online! The season passes are only slightly more pricey (on purpose) to entice you into buying one of those. Making this even more confusing is the fact that a season pass actually makes sense if you go to the park more than once. It’s simply exhausting trying to figure out the cheapest way to do what you want to do as you’re continually being tempted by other offers. And the cheapest offers are somehow well-hidden on the website.

Expensive Everything Actually

An expected trait for any amusement park/theme park/carnival/movie theater/anything is that everything is expensive as fuck. Like everything: food, drinks, merchandise tickets, and anything else they can find to charge you for. This begins with the park entrance/parking fees and continues through everything else. A fucking order of nachos is over $10. A 20oz bottle of water is $5. Some of the stupid carny games and go-karts actually cost extra besides the park entrance fee! A drink with free refills (seasonal or daily because I guess there are multiple tiers of fucking drinks. “Pay a little extra for a better deal!”) costs like $15-25. Souvenirs and all the other shit you can buy naturally apply here, but I can’t give any prices. I didn’t buy anything because I knew it would be ridiculously expensive. Oh yeah, Dippin’ Dots (ice cream of the future since 1988) are only $10!!!

Besides the ridiculous prices, note how the drinks are sold. Prices are given on a “per cup average” if you buy more than one. So, yeah, they are cheaper on average but you’re still paying nearly $60 for three drink cups.

This technique works — especially for food — because of the park’s policy of not allowing “any outside food or drinks” into the park. I’m sure if you asked someone about this they’d give a very PR answer referring to “safety reasons” but the cynic in me believes this policy exists to price-gouge you as much as possible regarding food. Instead of toting in a few 2-liters of soda and peanut butter and jelly sammiches you’re forced to buy a $20 chicken sandwich with a $15 Coke. The truth is after 8 hours of walking around you simply don’t care about saving $40 because you’re fucking starving and about to die of dehydration.

Lines, Queues, and Other Forms of Waiting

When I think back to previous trips to amusement parks I only remember the walking and the rides. At the end of the day my fucking legs killed me but other than that I remember the rides. This was some hindsight bias or some glitch in my memory because most of my actual time at the park, besides walking, was waiting in a fucking line. As a kid I never recalled that experience much. For research purposes I totaled up my time in lines: 155 minutes. This is almost three hours. Making this even worse was that I rode five roller coasters. Estimating that each ride lasted one minute you get a ratio of 1:30; for each 30 minutes I waited I got to enjoy one minute on a coaster. Fuck.

This isn’t even that bad either! Some rides had wait times around 70-80 minutes. We only rode rides that had estimated wait times of 45 minutes or less. If I can say one positive thing about the park it is that the estimated wait times were actually pretty accurate and if anything they erred on the side of caution. Usually an estimated wait time of 45 minutes ended up being only a 35 minute wait. I do appreciate that although I’m sure there is an ulterior motive to the park making money or keeping people happy or something. While they’re not doing this for our benefit it is nice seeing accurate wait times.

But wait! There is a way to not wait in line! The park sells “Flash Passes” that allow you to skip the line almost entirely, but you know this huge benefit isn’t without a cost. Once again I don’t know the exact number but I would guess a Flash Pass is around $100 per person two people (I checked). Whether you want to spend another $100 on top of the initial $100 to get into the park/park your car is up to you. At the very least its another great example of Six Flags stealing your money as efficiently as possible. Think about it: they’re charging people to not wait in line. It’s genius really.

Walking Forever

So I spent a total of three hours being on roller coasters and waiting in lines, but what was the rest of the time spent doing? We were there for about seven hours so there are still four unaccounted hours. What happened during those? Walking happened. Even if it wasn’t necessarily walking it was what I’d call “navigating the park.” Traveling to rides. Checking the map. Pissing. Finding a water fountain. Trying to navigate the crowds of people. Shit like that.

The park layout isn’t exactly intuitive either. There’s a handful of main paths that kinda meander around as the park isn’t meant to be a fucking efficient interstate highway for people. No, it’s meant to be laid out in a way that slows you down and gets you into shops, food stands, and whatever other places can steal your money. While a roller coaster may literally be close enough to hit one of its occupants with a rock you’d need to take a half mile path around the park to find the entrance to the ride. Considering the numbers above, I’d say about 45 minutes of walking is required, on average, to stand in line for 30 minutes, to ride a ride that is one minute long. That is brutal.

I’m not sure if the map makes the park appear more of a mess than what it is less. Either way the map is much cleaner than the park layout actually is. Also note how everything is numbered; this is a pain in the ass.

After about 6 hours there I started to get that old people feeling of needing to sit down on a fucking bench. At that point I didn’t give a shit about riding rides, eating food, or anything. My legs were dead and I just wanted to sit and “rest up for just a bit.” I almost didn’t want to make the near-mile trek to the car because it was so far away. But given that was my way to safety, freedom, and comfort I summoned the remainder of my energy to get it over with as quickly as possible.

Survivalism

This is my own fault, but I didn’t want to eat food or buy any drinks while I was at the park. They’re just too damn expensive and I didn’t want to piss away $50 on a soda and nachos especially after pissing away $400 for everyone just to get into the park. No, I’d rather starve and deal with being miserable than to be price gouged some more. I already mentioned how much walking you must do and how you must stand out in the sun and with all of that physical activity you start to get hungry, tired, and feel all-around shitty.

A big loophole in the “no outside food or drink” policy is that they don’t say a damn thing about “drink containers.” Me being not that much of a dumbass I brought in a water bottle that I could fill up: you either hydrate or diedrate bro. So while I was hydrated I was still starving and getting baked by the fucking sun.

I am blessed with DNA that gives me -25 points to sun damage but for everyone else there? Fuck. There were handfuls of people that were both pasty white and seemingly not fond of sunscreen: they were basically walking lobsters by the end of the day. I don’t know what they were thinking but I’m sure they’re regretting it today. Even me with my classic farmers tan going on still garnered some mild sunburn around my neck and I can only feel bad for those pale lobster people and their burgeoning skin cancer.

All of this isn’t too bad on it’s own but mixed together you have a whole pot of shit that makes you feel awful. You can’t (or won’t) eat because the food is too pricey, you drink water when you can find a fountain, and you’re standing/walking in glaring sunlight all day in the middle of the summer. Luckily the humidity wasn’t an issue yesterday but consider that as well: heat, humidity, sunshine, constant walking, starvation, and you have a situation that I’d imagine is similar to survival after an airplane crash. But really, people need to bring sunscreen to amusement parks.

People

And holy fuck let’s not forget the people! People individually seem to be pretty cool, friendly, and “good” but in large groups (like you find in an amusement park) are fucking animals. There are no rules for walking or managing right-of-way so you get groups of people/kids/whoever just darting out in front of you, almost running into you, or randomly stopping in the middle of a path. Kids were bratty and cranky especially as the day became late. People didn’t seem to be outright rude, but they were like you’d expect them to be: animalistic.

There’s also a special kind of anxiety you get when you’re standing in line surrounded by and with strangers. Queues have this characteristic zigzagging motion to pack as many people into the smallest area as possible while remaining in a line. When you move forwards you get to see the people behind you and in front of you and it’s hard not to make awkward eye contact with them every time the line moves. Making this even worse is that fact that you see the same people over and over as you zig and zag towards the ride itself. I have a mild form of social anxiety where I’m scared of people but not dysfunctional and I found myself getting rather jittery over the whole ordeal. Sunglasses work great as you know that people can’t see you and you can act like you don’t see them either.

In case you needed a picture for how this shit works.

In Closing…

I suppose it isn’t that I didn’t have fun it’s that the amount of fun I had didn’t justify the massive cost to get into the park, the hassle of driving to the park, the amount of walking/line waiting required to obtain the fun, and the masses of people you must deal with. It’s like a 1% fun to 99% pain-in-the-ass/boring ratio which isn’t great. I think my age might have something to do with my lack of fun as well. As a kid/teenager you’re excited and eager to ride some scary-looking coasters while now I just know they’re not scary or dangerous; part of the fun is overcoming the danger and fear you have (real or perceived). Since this fear is mostly absent, they’re not something I feel the need to “conquer” or whatever and it’s hard to justify the line-waiting with that mindset.

Riding roller coasters is one of those things that would be really amazing to do if you didn’t have to deal with people. Given the opportunity to endlessly ride whatever coasters I want without the lines of people and the near hours waiting I’m sure I’d have a fun time. But then you’d probably have too much fun and the coasters would be boring! As much as I hate people and waiting in line I think this is part of the “amusement park” experience and I can’t help but think that a large portion of the people at Six Flags actually enjoy all the shit that I hated about the place. The same is true with county fairs and parades and people who like the 4th of July. Are there some people that like the large crowds, the expensive food (just splurge a bit and have fun!), and the hassle of it all? If there are, I certainly am not one of them and the thought of going to an amusement park anytime soon gives me an immense sense of dread. I’ll stay at home thank you. Amusement parks suck.

The Mario Jump Rope Challenge Sucks: The Hardest Moon in the Game

I played Super Mario 64 when it was released in like 1996 or something. Yeah, I’m kinda old. In case you didn’t know, the main plot of the game involves you collecting power stars to open up locked areas of the castle in an effort to — wait for it — save Princess Peach from Bowser. The thing is you only need 70 moons to actually beat the game while the game offers a total of 120 stars. This might be the first Mario game where there is this idea of collectable items. It’s a natural tendency for us OCD-prone people to need all 120 of those damn stars to finally 100% complete the game. The leads directly to my current problem…

Super Mario Odyssey — the newest and possibly greatest game in the Mario series — has the very same DNA as Mario 64 except things are turned up to 11 this time. Instead of needing 70 stars to beat the game you need like 120 stars moons. There’s a second ending and more levels that are unlocked when you obtain 500 stars moons while the game holds a total of an amazing 880 unique stars moons! (Really it’s like 830 unique moons as some of these are “multi-moons” that count as three.) Compare this to Mario 64 where you need about 60% of the moons to beat the game. Odyssey requires only 124 moons — or about 15% of the total moons — to beat the game. More levels are unlocked at 250 and 500 moons: 30% and 60% of the total, respectively. My point is Odyssey requires a smaller percentage of moons to actually progress the game leaving a goddamn mountain of moons to find if you want to 100% it.

And of course you want to 100% the game because you have such fond memories of meeting Yoshi on top of Peach’s Castle after getting the 120 stars in Mario 64. It was the crowning achievement of your elementary school days so, naturally, wouldn’t it be cool to 100% Mario Odyssey as well? Mario 64 ingrained us with that drive to 100% Mario games and it isn’t any different in Odyssey. There’s only one problem with that: Odyssey is hard.

I laugh when people think Mario is a kids game. Mario is a kids game but it’s also a cruel and harsh Nintendo game and sometimes Nintendo simply doesn’t fuck around. Sometimes Nintendo makes a game that’s very cute and friendly towards kids but totally fucks people up that push the game to its limit. And that’s exactly what happens when you want to 100% the game. The game asks — no requires — a precise level of platforming if you want that 100%.

There are certain stars moons in this game that are total bullshit to obtain. Some final levels are basically repeats of earlier levels where the devs take out (or insert) some really cruel mechanic. One level requires you to dodge poison plants (as you’ve done previously) but they make the walkway above the poison lake invisible (“Invisible Road: Rush!” moon). In one final level you repeat a timed level that features the motor scooter except they remove the scooter and you have to roll as fast as possible (“Vanishing Road Rush”). The margin of error on that level is only like a second or so. Another level requires you to do like 12 perfectly timed long jumps in a row (“Breakdown Road” moons) where a single mistake or slightly mistimed jump means you fail the level.

There’s also the volleyball challenge where you must hit a ball 100 times (“Hero of the Beach!”). This sounds really trivial except you get to start over at the beginning if you fuck up. Making it up to 50 isn’t hard so replaying the entire first half is torture. I think it took me 2 or 3 tries so it wasn’t too bad I guess. It was one of those challenges that is kinda a cheap sort of challenge. It just takes time smacking a ball back and forth. It’s monotonous.

But the crowning achievement of Odyssey’s bullshit-moons is the infernal jump rope challenge moon (“Jump Rope Genius”). The first moon of this challenge in New Donk City is easy enough and triggers after only 20 jumps; it’s the second moon that is impossible to get. You need 100 perfectly timed jumps to unlock this moon and it seems to be nearly impossible even if it does seem stupidly trivial at first.

A good example of the rope moving fast enough to display individual frames with Cappy looking kinda surprised.

As with the volleyball challenge, as you progress the speed of the rope increases to insane levels. I’ve personally made it up to about 60 jumps and by this time the rope is moving so fast I can’t physically hit the jump button fast enough. Mario doesn’t make it down to the ground quickly enough to start another jump! Gravity isn’t strong enough for me to make these jumps! The A button physically cant be hit fast enough by my finger to jump over the rope! You can literally see the single frames of the rope as it flashes across the screen as quickly as it does: it ceases to be a smooth motion at that rate. 30 frames-per-second doesn’t even survive the jump rope challenge. But Nintendo, a friendly game company that makes easy kid bullshit, forces this onto you if you’re crazy enough to 100% Mario Odyssey. It’s insane and I suppose I’m insaner by trying to 100% a Nintendo game in the first place. Remember taking pictures in Wind Waker? That is what purgatory would be like.

I’m pretty sure this will be the last thing I do in the game as I just can’t make any progress on it and quickly give up to find other moons. The bullshit challenges I mentioned earlier are easier (mostly because they’re real challenges) and I think I’ve beaten the invisible plant poison level already. Hell, I even think the marathon Darker Side of the Moon level will be easier (and more cheeseable) than the stupid jump rope moon is; at least you can use Assist Mode it if you really want to. But Rope? Rope isn’t having none of that shit.

The real technique to getting this goddamn moon.

In all honesty there is a way to glitch the game by using the MARIO letters in New Donk City, but even that appears to be quite a challenge. What you do is clip a letter outside of its boundary and simply sit on it while the rope clips through the letter. With you on top of the letter or hanging on the side the game registers you “jumping over” the rope and this is why all the high scores for the jump rope challenge are all 99999: people cheesed the game with a glitch. But in all honesty getting the moon via glitch seems more rewarding and satisfying than trying to jump that fucking rope 100 times. Let’s just pretend the moon jump rope champion really is titled “MARIO Letters Out-of-Bounds CLIP CHAMPION!” because that’s much more fitting. Fuck jump rope.

Mario basking in the glory of his newly-acquired moon as the rope clips through his foot.

Note: If you read the post on my birthday you know that I actually beat this horrible challenge via the MARIO letter glitch. Truthfully, I don’t even feel guilty about it because glitching the letters out of bounds was way more fun and fulfilling than tapping a perfectly 100+ times would’ve been. I have no guilt and you shouldn’t either if you try to 100% the game.

The Little Mermaid Sucks

Goddamn this entire topic is stupid. Initially I was pissed over the entire “debate” about what race Ariel should be in the upcoming live-action Little Mermaid movie, but the more I thought about it the more pissed I became at social media and people in general. Without social media people probably wouldn’t be foaming at the mouth over something so fucking trivial, pointless, and stupid. I think the “debate” of the Little Mermaid casting choice isn’t the actual problem here: it’s just a symptom of the “outrage culture” that is enabled by social media and especially Facebook. It’s nearly a perfect example of how social media can whip people into a frenzy over something that isn’t a big deal at all.

Let’s also not lie here: this is currently a Hot Fucking Topic and I want to rake in viewers/readers/subscribers while the going is still good. Let me in on all the drama while things are still hot. You know people will totally forget about this in a week so time is of the essence.

To recap a bit: Disney loves making stupid-ass live action movies lately. I’m assuming there are a few reasons for this. They’re cheap to make (they don’t need to make a totally new movie), they can capitalize on nostalgia, and who the fuck knows, maybe Disney is simply getting lazy lately. Either way they’re churning out live actions films that no one really seems to actually be asking for and The Little Mermaid is one of the upcoming ones. Whatever.

Apparently people are going rabid over the fact that Ariel — a white girl in the original film — is now being played by a black girl. HOLY FUCK GUYS, HOL UP! There are a wide-range of arguments going around both for and against this choice: Originalists want Ariel to be white simply because she was white in the animated movie. Fair enough. These people have no real racist motivations to be against a black Ariel, they just think the remake should be as close to the original as possible. Other socially progressive people think that, sure, an African Ariel is also okay as it really doesn’t matter who the hell plays a goddamn mermaid: it is just a movie. I suppose I can see a little truth in each sides’ arguments (At least the typical ones I’ve heard. There are a few raving racists talking about “white culture” being stolen by blacks or some shit like that, but fuck those guys.) but have stayed mostly neutral over it because it is the stupidest thing you could ever argue about (besides the color of a striped dress. Those were the good ole days).

A realistic depiction of “dolphin Ariel.”

Let’s also visit what is being discussed real quickly: the race of a mermaid. I’m sorry to disappoint anyone, but mermaids aren’t real. If you want to really get technical, an aquatic human/fish hybrid probably wouldn’t have any pigment in their skin at all and might look the color of a damn dolphin, once again, if they actually did exist. They wouldn’t be white or black but a kinda cloudy-day-grey color if they actually did exist. This is just me guessing by the way. The fact that people are pissed over the race of a mythical creature is insane. It’s like being pissed if someone put a blue unicorn in a movie. “But unicorns aren’t blue!!!!” What fucking color would they be then? (I think a blue unicorn makes sense: it would have perfect camouflage for flying in the sky. This could help the species evade it’s natural predator, the fire-breathing dragon. Dragons would also probably be blue for the exact same reason lions are orangish.)

Another reason I’ve heard against an African Ariel is some overarching idea that Disney only made this choice for politically correct/public relation reasons, sort of pandering to others so they company appears “racially conscious” or something like that. Implicit in this is the idea that Disney is pandering to a minority of people (blacks) at the expense of pissing off a majority of people (whites). This belief states there is a right and a wrong choice by equating Disney’s pandering with a lack of sound financial reasoning. Basically if Disney really wanted to make a ton of money — according to this line of thought — they wouldn’t piss off white people by making Ariel black. But this doesn’t make sense if you think it through: Disney is a huge, take-over-the-world type of company that (especially since they’re publicly traded, ticker of DIS) wants to rake in as much cash as possible. This is literally their job and they have tons of resources to allow them to do this as effectively as possible. Disney has a small army of smart, talented, mathematically-inclined people accompanied by sociologists and researchers collecting tons of data and doing surveys to find out the exact risk/reward of a black Ariel and have found that it is a net positive for the company. If anything pissing off white people and making Ariel black clearly makes the best financial choice because this is what they decided to do. Disney is in this to make money, and they’re not going to take some feel-good, PR/PC choice if it will lose them money. I honestly think this choice will not backfire on them in any way.

I suppose I view the entire issue as Disney’s choice/problem anyways. They own the rights to the movie so could cast a fucking Indian midget for all I care. I mean it wouldn’t make sense to me, but it’s their movie so fuck it, they’ll do what they want to do. While Disney (the huge company) isn’t a genuine artist (what with all of that money-raking/keeping shareholders happy thing going on), I put all artistic decisions on the artist. It’s their work and they’re in control of whatever they want to do. They are beholden to no one because that’s not how art works. Not that a live-action remake of The Little Mermaid is necessarily high art but you get the idea.

And to bring this back around, it’s probably social media’s fault anyways. It is the venue where all of this bullshit drama can actually take place: people wouldn’t get this fired up if they had to actually have a conversation about it. I imagine a conversation would go something like this: an Originalist would say “I think Ariel should be white — not because I have anything against black people — but simply because she was white in the original.” And the other person could say “Hmm. I guess I understand that, but it doesn’t change the fundamentals of the story. It isn’t hurting anything for her to be black. It gives black girls someone to identify with.” And they could agree to disagree with a little appreciation for the opposing view. On social media it’s just posting/sharing foaming-at-the-mouth posts that just piss everyone off who disagrees with you. As always there is no real conversation and is just people shouting what their beliefs to others. We pick our sides, start posting/screaming, and hope to drown out the opposite view through shear force and the consensus of the crowd.

And then there’s me: a person who is complaining about people complaining about a silly topic on social media. The irony isn’t lost on me either so no need to point this out. If you guys want to start a dumpster fire in the comments below or on this blogs Facebook page with your Hot Opinions, go right ahead. It’ll be fun to watch. The Little Mermaid Sucks.

The 4th of July Sucks

It’s that time of year again: the 4th of July. Also more appropriately known as Independence Day for obvious reasons. It was 243 years ago that the Declaration of Independence was signed where we (The United States) basically told England to go fuck themselves because we didn’t need them and their yuppy-ass tea anymore. Americans take this day off work to sweat in the July heat, grill out, and drink copious amounts of beer/alcohol while trying to blow their fingers/hands/arms off with fireworks that may or may not be illegal depending on what state you reside. When you look at what people actually do on Independence Day and compare it to the actual meaning of the day you’ll end up confused. But all of those things are somehow really stereotypically American so maybe it is fitting after all. Maybe July 4th is just a day for Americans to be unashamedly American drinking beer, grilling, and lighting off fireworks that came from China.

Perceived History Sucks

A quick history lesson: nothing really happened on July 4, 1776 besides the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Looking back this was important but the US wasn’t exactly “founded” on this day as most people seem to believe. The battles of Lexington and Concord (the start of the Revolutionary War) took place in 1775 and the Revolutionary War ended in 1783: over seven full years after the declaration was signed! Even more silly is the fact that the modern U.S. Constitution was a mulligan because the prior Articles of Confederation was dogshit and it was ratified in 1790: 13 fucking years after the Declaration. From an actual historical perspective July 4, 1776 — while a big deal — wasn’t as big as a few other key moments in our nation’s early history. I wouldn’t call it “the beginning” of the U.S. of A. at least.

A shirt that depicts the “U.S.A. began in 1776” ideal even if not explicitly stated.

Not that any of that matters because I doubt the average ‘Merican has any idea about what actually occurred 240ish years ago. We drink beer, grill, and blow shit up. Who cares? I imagine the typical ‘Merican believes that July 4 was the day that George Warshington rowed his boat across the Mississippi River, chucking tea overboard, while an eagle flew overhead with a 50-star red, white, and blue flag in its proud talons. He went to Warshington Dee See and wrote the constitution himself with an eagle-feather pen. Shortly after that, Samuel Adams created Budweiser Beer. That’s how ‘Merica really began.

Partying Sucks

Another traditional part of the July 4th celebrations is partying. People usually invite over their friends (or get invited over by friends if they don’t have their own homes) and sit around and drink beer or something. White People usually listen to radio-friendly 70’s or 80’s rock music where the same Motley Crue song you’ve heard 1,000 fucking times is played so you can hear it for the 1,001 time. I’m very glad we live in a more “ethnic” area of town; lucky there isn’t any White People around blasting their goddamn Dad Rock and drinking Budweiser while they wear wife-beaters and american flag shorts.

(I should note that I myself am white and even I hate the typical White People culture. Were fucking stupid sometimes.)

We apparently have quite a few Mexican (or hispanic) families that live near us because we’ve been hearing that typical ethnic-latino music all day today. It’s actually refreshing to hear something other than typical White People music and I can’t help but admire Mexican families for their ability to have real parties. White People parties are usually only like 10 people sitting around in lawn chairs not saying much to one another and it’s borderline depressing. Mexicans play music where the bass (It’s always really uplifting too. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a depressing Mexican Party Bass Line) can be heard all over the neighborhood and they always look like they’re having a real party. There’s people swimming and dancing and jumping and smacking pinatas with sticks/bats/whatever and the kids are running around the yard like they’re on crack or something. It’s great to witness. 4th of July is no exception and the Mexican Bass is envelops the neighborhood like the July heat does except that it’s refreshing. It’s kinda ironic in a way that Mexican families pull off Independence Day better than White People do. Somehow I feel more American hearing Mexican Bass Lines on July 4th.

Fireworks Suck

We went downtown where the fireworks shot off are almost exactly the same as they have been for the past decade. I knew this before we even saw them, but nobody had to tell me in advance; they’re always the same thing. There are some small variations but they are minor and I just can’t bring myself to be excited that they made smiley-face fireworks this year. I quit being excited for fireworks when I was about 16 and I don’t see how anyone older than that still enjoys them. Over the people, traffic, and bullshit that they must deal with do these people really enjoy it still?

We parked a half-mile away and started on our hike to our traditional viewing spot; a spot a quarter-mile from where they actually shoot the damn things off. We get as close as possible to the river that splits our city in half, and across that river is where they shoot the damn things off. We can’t sit right next to the river because that is some special, locked-off area that only paying customers are allowed access to. I’ve never understood why people sit there as our free spot is just as good, but perhaps they offer beer or some special crowd experience. I don’t know. Either way we started walking to our traditional spot.

On the way to our traditional spot a few teenagers started following us. One was a really talkative teenager while his friend seemed to only listen; I never heard him say a damn thing. This isn’t notable at all until I really listened to the talkative one: he seemed to say the word “bro” at the end of every sentence like it was a period. I’m not joking, every sentence ended in “bro” and it only took three sentences for me to know something was comically wrong with the way he talked.

“Man, fuck that shit, bro.”

“I do what I want and no one is going to tell me otherwise, bro.”

“Yeah I know, bro! That’s what I’ve been fuckin’ trying to tell you, bro.”

“I know but you’re not listening to me, bro! I said fuck ‘em, bro.”

It happened like that for at least 10 minutes. I laughed my ass off every time he finished his sentences. Making this even funnier was the fact that this “teenager” was really only like 10, maybe 11. He was cussing like a sailor and saying “bro” to end every sentence. People really exists like this? This teenager boy isn’t being ironic? Bro.

“I do what I want and no one is going to tell me otherwise, bro.”

-Some Kid at the Goddamn Fireworks

Anyway, we get to the fireworks and they start on-time at 9:30 after mentioning the sponsors. I’ve never noticed it before but apparently the fireworks (called “SkyConcert 2019”) are broken into three “acts,” each separated by a mention of the sponsors. I don’t know if all cities do this but Rockford, Illinois always has some synced music to the 30-minute firework display, once again called “SkyConcert 2019.” The songs played were the same: the show always begins with the National Anthem, features “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong somewhere in the middle, and ends with the “1812 Overture” by Tchaikovsky. I didn’t even know the closing song was the “1812 Overture” but a quick Google search for “firework finale songs” pointed me right at it. I mean it’s a perfect song for it, but currently it’s too perfect and now just expected at the end. Every firework “SkyConcert” I’ve seen has had this song plopped right at the end. Obviously.

Other typical songs are Katy Perry’s “Firework,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” and a handful of country songs that I don’t know the names of (because I don’t listen to shitty music). Since I was paying attention, I was actually surprised that the second “act” nearly all consisted of Shitty Country Songs, some kinda slow and emotional and others a bit more upbeat. It makes a sad sort of sense though; country music is by default the music that represents the U.S. of A. even if it is trash. I don’t know how this happened exactly, but it sure is shitty.

I was also surprised to not hear Katy Perry this year. This is one of those small, subtle changes that you don’t really notice and is what differentiates SkyConcerts from other SkyConcerts. I guess Katy Perry isn’t big enough to be in firework displays now?

Normally I despise people who take pictures/videos of fireworks, but this is mostly because they don’t account for the unique lighting situations that occur during in-air explosions. They slap their phone onto “auto” and smash the “photo” button and never look at what is actually captured. So you get overexposed and backlighted images that are garbage and people spam this shit on social media for some reason. Anyways, rant over, here is my best picture which looks like an electronica album cover ala Animal Collective.

There were little fireworks, big fireworks that go BOOOOM, smiley-face fireworks, red white and blue fireworks, sparkly fireworks, glittery fireworks, and fireworks that sounded like a bowl of Rice Krispies cereal just after milk has been added. The finale sounded (like it always has) like every explosive device they had as a spare standby was lit just to get rid of it with a constant rumbling ROAAAAR over the city for a few minutes. As a naive kid I actually thought they lit off spares at the finale while now I know it is all perfectly programmed to perfection with zero randomness. If anything I get joy out of seeing a firework explode way too low where you know it was a genuine accident because the rest of the show is so damn banal now. It’s cool seeing shit explode, but seeing it year after year so rehearsed and programmed makes it boring.

In Closing

So I went home and drank a Joose and Bud Light Chelada. I really went with Joose because I was in the mood to be as trashy as possible with my drinking today. I wasn’t trying to lie to myself here: I wasn’t happy and I felt dirty and I knew I had to drink as part of my 4th of July duties. Budweiser would’ve been the most patriotic choice, but Joose seemed a natural go-to as it offers 14% alcohol by volume, is cheap, and has a note on the side of the can that states: “PREMIUM MALT BEVERAGE WITH NATURAL FLAVORS….” Premium Beverage my ass, it’s trashy as fuck (I was going to post a photo but even that was too trashy.). But that’s how I’m closing off this shitty holiday. Have a fun and safe 4th everyone even if it is over. This holiday Sucks.