Drabble: Cat Fight.

Mrs. Whitworth was disgusted by the lack of discipline, organization, and preparedness of the priest. She filed her claws on the ribcage of a plump vole. This resulted in the logical outcome of the vole’s death and well-groomed paws. Just as she wanted. But this priest! Mrs. W was itching for a fight—a real one. Not the one-sided blood-lettings of rodents versus felines. A fight she could sink her teeth into and of course ultimately win. That girl moved much too slow for her tastes. “Stupid moony girls! Let’s go! The air is chilled and the moon is full!”




October is one of my favorite months, in fact, may be my favorite: it runs a pretty tight race with August and about a day or two out of February. I swear, Mrs. Whitworth put the idea in my head that Zeptepi really needs to get in the game and start doing pet battles. That silly shaman has been sucking up what little oxygen I have for play time, and the ‘trying to stay calm, level, and gear for raiding’ panic already set in after only a few days. I had a very dear friend talk me down from the ledge yesterday. To be fair, it was only one story off the ground, and if I had jumped, probably would have only twisted an ankle. 

But yes…of all the pets who want to get in the ring and scratch a few eyeballs…Mrs. W is all hopped up on catnip and has been practicing her tail-lashings and kitty-litter toss. Now if I can only find time for Zep to figure all this out.

Mother Nature’s Daughter, all the same…

Well, Luperci did not bring home the trophy for September’s Neri Approves transmog contest.

The Blood Elf did.

/shrug

Moving on – still really like what Luperci put together. But more importantly, I like to bring awareness to the Born That Way Foundation.  Though I had heard about it, I was prompted to donate by a tweet of Lodur’s: http://wayofthetotem.com/2012/09/20/a-call-to-arms-with-incentive/

I am telling you truth: I know teenagers and adults who have been affected, and died, as a direct result of bullying and harrassment over who they fundamentally are. I am waiting for the day when it’s a nonissue. We have other things to worry about than who someone chooses to love.

And Jill – for whatever reasons you chose almost thirty years ago, I wish you had stuck around to see how much things have changed, and how you could have helped. Maybe somehow you are.

Theme Song: Born This Way/Lady Gaga

Zen and the Art of Class

I have big plans again this Friday night, and unfortunately for Mataoka, they don’t include leveling. However, I have to express this huge, fat SQUEEE – was talking to CDR who’s leveling a Pandaren, and he told me of this very cool ability called Zen Pilgrimage.  Basically, it’s a spell that takes you to the Peak of Serenity to hang out with other monks.

HOW COOL IS THAT?!

Whew. Not very chi of me. Sorry.

But that is exactly what I was wanting! And I pray that Blizzard doesn’t stop with monks. I think every class should have its own place, it’s own club, VIP lounge if you will, where there are other trainers, and it feels very much a part of the culture of the class.

For example, hunters could fly to a Hunter’s Lodge, where the wood fires are always full of crackling meats and the mugs of ale always frothy and cold, and the trainining dummies are equipped with feedback on how one is doing. The Paladins could have a holy place to reflect and train; Shamans a rotating meeting grounds of elemental goodness – fire, water, earth, and air places; Druids would converse in special groves (they do have Moonglade, but the trick is to teleport back out). And therein lies the issue – the monks can go right back to their places. Though Druids and Death Knights have their special zones, they are stuck there once there, and there is no special training. Rogues could be transported to the Ravenholdt Manor; and Warlocks? Are you joking?! How amazing would their place be?! Priests could meet on the dark side of the moon; Mages can meet in an inn with delicious food (they are the jet-setters, after all); Warriors could meet in mock battles in an armory; and of course Death Knights in Ebon Hold.

This is just the start of an idea — come on Blizzard! You’ve already made my expansion dreams come true, and I hope you don’t stop there!

Poke it with a stick, by way of rebuttal.

 The first rule of fight club is not to talk about fight club. Oh wait. Wrong. The first rule of art club is you critique the work, not the artist.
This repeating voice in my head (no, not the one that keeps telling me to get air put in the tires or check on the dryer), no, that other one that kept asking why I printed Xak’s essay, and all I kept, and keep, coming back to is public service announcement. 
Yes, admittedly, perhaps I wanted to know what it was like to stir up trouble, discussion, throw some paint on the wall, etc. It’s true. But from what I have seen in recent blogging/Twitter scuffles, it is when someone criticizes the creator personally, and not their work or deeds, that halts any responsible conversation. This is a conversation, not an “I know the answers” moment, because I do not.

What do I really want? I want young women to go in to any situation with eyes wide open.
I want them to know the Xaks are out there.
And I want them to know I’m out there, too.
Recently I sat through training on Digital Citizenship. One of the minor points that was not explored thoroughly enough or explained enough was the concept that as adolescents, many find on-line social communities/games a place to try on ‘new identities.’ They’re trying things on, roles or gender identities they cannot explore in the real world.
I was thinking back to the critical importance of early childhood play. Many educational trends are leaning toward, and have started, doing standardized testing in kindergarten. Yes, little Timmy, if you can’t tie your shoes or say your alphabet you have to go back to…um. The hours of just ‘playing’ have been diminished in schools. There are no longer dress-up boxes, or play kitchens, and the time to build forts has been banished from early childhood education. (I can’t make this stuff up.) Okay, so let’s say that kids still can find a cardboard box and some spoons and a pot to bang them on, and old discarded prom dresses (one of my personal favorites), and still get to play dress-up. The pre-digital, usual coming-of-age journey allowed all the same awkwardness, bullying, humiliation, and growth, but with one key difference of this generation: we didn’t have a virtual world to experience all these same sublime and terrifying judgments and harassment of others. One of Xak’s points is about anonymity—and this is where we have lost our way. 
Our Azeorthian lives are all about dress-up, role playing, and make-believe. And it’s damn fun. I would suggest that, however, our levels of mental and emotional health provide with sturdy springboards by which to jump into our virtual worlds, and back out again. When we can’t find our way back out, out of the virtual worlds, is when we are in critical danger. I am concerned that there is a generation who may not know how to get back out. And while I’m busy carving a ladder in the sinkhole, there are some dangerous characters down in Wonderland. And no, the on-line predators and creeps are horrible, but most folks are getting pretty savvy about them. What we’re not so savvy about are the folks who continue to push with powerful bullying tools. Bullies know the weak spots. They know girls are sensitive about weight. They know guys are sensitive about their virility. They know the political hot-buttons to push in troll chat. They were the kids who were pushing down the Lego castles and dumping out the finger paints while you and I were playing tag or house.
And before I go on: Men aren’t so perfect, either. The other day on visual thesaurus was the word ‘philanderer.’  Nuff said.
Words like “racism, bigotry, misogyny, and sexism” are sometimes misused. In the case of Xak’s point-of-view, I am not qualified to analyze his own pathologies. He is a friend of mine, but as I am sure you would all agree, you don’t want to be guilty by association with all thoughts and opinions of everyone you know. We all have the racist guildmate, the bossy one, or the clueless one. 
Let me explain: On Facebook and even Twitter, I have contacts with many people. Most of those on Twitter are in a professional, entertaining, or Azerothian context. I like to know what they have to say in 140 characters. I don’t agree with everything everyone says, but it does lend itself to some interesting, concise conversations. Facebook is a whole ‘nother story. I have friends. I have some friends of friends. I have work colleagues. I have relatives. I have close family. I have really close family. The other day I posted a photo and tagged the faces. A perfectly normal thing to do, but one I hadn’t done on this scale. The unintended consequence was I got comments on this photo that reached to the outer regions of the Facebook sea. I am fairly sure some of those folks do not agree with me politically, socially, or ethically on many things. Their opinions don’t affect me. But what about my uncle, whom I really love? This is where another paradox of social interactions comes to play. My uncle, I suspect, is a racist. My cousin is one, too. I think that guy over there is a jerk. And that woman over there is just plain rude. But I am not going to “unfriend” them because I don’t believe in the same politics (however misguided they are). (Xak may be many things but he hates humanity with equal disdain –not labels warranted. And he is not a racist.) No, in fact, I want to know what they have to say. I think it’s far worse to shut down discourse. Cross-dressing rogue disagrees with me on this one, and like I said, I do not have the answers: because while I think it’s bad to shut down discourse, we do need, and get to, choose our friends in Azeroth, and we do need to choose carefully.
Which brings me to the heart of this issue: There are the “Xaks” out there. There is a culture, and it steers towards the toxic. But I believe one of the key points Xak makes is for (women) players to acknowledge when they are playing a role that may be construed as less than…ladylike? That is a horrible word choice. Perhaps he is asking for players to reflect on their own part in their gaming experience? Be a bit more in control? 
I was wondering if the sentiments expressed in Xak are no more than articulated trolling. I pondered about some of the groups of (young men) who are usually between 18-32 who might even be construed as the Kings of Trolls. They have extended their dress-up time from the playground and found a venue to continue their on-line role-playing observations and entertainment.
What I wish I could teach young men and women is that as in the real world, they don’t have to put up with that shit in the virtual one. I want to teach them to reflect on their self-esteem. I know what I am talking about. I know how awkward, painful, and distressing adolescence is. I am seeking a cultural shift.
Some quick responses:
Fat/weight: This is still one area that seems to be considered all right for people to make fun of. It is a fact that in the US there is an ‘obesity epidemic’ and Michelle Obama has done what she can to get school lunches to change. Jon Stewart’s take on this on the Daily Show last night was hilarious and perfect. But I know some chubby kids, and I struggle with weight now, too. Our personal relationships with food tie into our earliest memories of nourishment and love, or lack thereof.  Ladies: watch your body image. It’s yours. Don’t let a troll be in your own mirror.
Flirty girls: This one has admittedly driven me, and my friend Kaylyne, a bit bonkers. Yes, there are girls/women, and even men who pretend, to be females to “get what they want.” And the flip side is, there are men who will treat them accordingly. Again: Public Service Announcement: if you want to play the “I got boobs” game, fine. But know what you’re doing, know why you’re doing it, and go do it somewhere else.
Women players in general: Even one of my dear friends said something that in his experience, women tend not to be ‘as good’ as men. He immediately back-peddled and brought up on of his dearest friends in game, who is one of the top players he has ever encountered, and go figure, is a woman.
Here is what I want: I don’t want people to say any longer “XYZ is a great player, and she’s a woman!” Or, “She is one of the best women players I know.” But yes, we have a long damn way to go. In an effort of full disclosure, I was the woman who was feeling guilty for admitting I liked being on a raid team without other women. Because of the limitations of time and text, I did not have a chance to explain why. There are a few reasons: first, most of my player friends are males by demographic. It seems there are more men in my age group who play than women. Second, I have really good women friends in game and outside of the game. I do get along equally well with men and women. (See the Facebook comment.) But playing with a predominately male raiding team was just the opposite of the ‘attention,’  –the reason why I found it refreshing was because they weren’t paying attention to me. They tend to dominate the Mumble mic, and I wanted no one to ever notice a mistake or oops that will lead to that stereotype of ‘women can’t play.’ I don’t want them to notice me at all. Sometimes I find the judgmental tones of both male and females players a bit much to handle. 
Ultimately, and I am dashing these thoughts off before I bolt to work, just be aware of yourself and surroundings. That is the only way to stay safe, and even then, there are no guarantees. Just trying to put the odds in favor of those who may need protection, even from themselves. If I didn’t get a chance to articulate all my thoughts, my apologies. Gotta get out there and fight the good fight. This has given me a lot to do in the real world, and help some real people. 

The World According to Xak (WARNING)

Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not read if you are still in the reverie and sheer nectar-colored joy that is Pandaria. You have been warned.

Editor’s Note:
I am dead serious. I am posting this against my better judgment. In the name of fairness, however, I am the one who suggested the topic in passing conversation. I may lose you all as friends, or you may question my sanity, but in reading this treatise, he does make some interesting points. One cannot completely remove human interactions in this very human realm. We all know couples who have met and married, who have broken up, who have caused issues in one way or another because of their own gender reflections.

So–this is my first, and maybe my last–guest blogger, Xak. He is a smart, smart young man. And maybe I’ll get some interesting searches like Tome does.

Women of WoW Are Slutty Insecure Nymphos

Since a majority of this will be written from atop my high horse, I think it’s important to begin with a bit of exposé to build a touch of credibility.  In life, I have a mix of positive and negative qualities.  I go to the gym enough to be in good shape, but not enough that I am in danger of having my abs put on billboards to sell underwear.  I have enough money to be secure but not enough to impress anyone.  I am smart but I have a hard time not being a condescending dick about it.  So on and so forth.  This leads to mixed results with regards to hitting on women.  Some of them look at the pros/cons and decide that their personal weighing of the various qualities leads them to saying “yes” to questions like “want to get a drink later?” while others say things like “no”.  However, one of the things in the “pro” column is my voice, it’s dead sexy.  When I get on vent, the only quality that women get to “see” is the sexy voice.  This leads to a considerably higher success rate with regards to getting positive attention from women.  I love this.  I know it happens, I exploit it to the fullest and I don’t give a damn what it says about my character or lack thereof.

So… I get it, I’m not saying that I’m above it, or it solely affects women.  However, the circumstances that surround the average WoWite male and the average WoWite female are different and this particular heap of cerebral discharge is regarding the fairer sex.
After doing a pug raid recently, a friend asked me about a girl I had encountered during the raid, I replied, “she sounded like a textbook fatty.”  He retorted with, “hey now, there’s nothing wrong with being fat.”  (In the interest of sidebars, this guy is something like 98 lbs soaking wet with a brick in each hand.)  I came back with, “no, there is nothing inherently wrong with being fat (assuming you don’t mind assuming the health risks I suppose) but girls who are fat or even just fear that people might think she is fat, tend to exhibit similar pathologies, particularly where WoWites are concerned.”  All he had for that one was, “good point.” (For a bit of context, the friend is going to school to be a head doctor, so he knew what I was talking about without me having to do any in-depth explaining, since I assume a majority of people who read this will not be head doctors…)
An overwhelming majority (let’s conservatively put it around 95%) of the women I have encountered in my WoW experiences have had very little confidence (funny enough, men seem to divide into “not confident” and “supremely confident for no good reason” but that’s a completely different post.)  Maybe it is because they are fat.  Maybe it is because someone told them that they are fat.  Maybe they are uncomfortable with some other aspect of their body.  Maybe they have had terrible luck with asshat menfolk.  Maybe it was the classic “daddy doesn’t love me enough.”  (Because I cannot get enough of parenthetical statements, I am fairly confident that if a man locked his daughter into a room and stared directly at her for 18 years, some women would still feel they had received inadequate attention but I digress once again.)  The reasons are many and varied but the result is the same.  These women take their low-self image into WoWland and discover a type of male attention they have never before encountered.  Watching the results of this new attention is a fantastic spectator sport for me.*

Every woman reacts differently; that being said, by painting with a broad enough brush, I can more or less classify a majority of my encounters in 3.5 categories.

Internet Slut: These girls love the attention and go out of their way to act out fantasies that they would never had the stomach for in reality.  Being overtly sexual over VOIP, teasing, throwing their femininity around like a bull in a china shop, etc.  We’ve all seen them, if we haven’t been in a guild that’s been broken up by one, we’ve heard of someone who has.  I love joining a pug with one of these girls in it, they are grand fun in small doses.  I would never invite one into my real raid, they rapidly become tedious.

Recluse/Man Pretender:  Some women cannot handle the newfound attention.  Some are victims of creepy stalker assholes.  I am certain other causation exists but the result is that they either hide their femininity or pretend to be a man.  They are typical extremely reticent to talk over VOIP, often play male toons, shy away from discussions that even obliquely touch on sexuality, etc.

Guilty pleasure/Well adjusted: (Obviously, I have to start out with the admission that I put myself in the man version of this category.  So I think I am reasonably well adjusted, sue me.)  Some of these women attach a lot of shame to how much pleasure they get out of the male attention.  They feel guilty when they discover they like being the only woman in the raid, afraid that it displays unkind things regarding their character.  It is also worth noting, these women are often married and have a difficult time reconciling the enjoyment of male attention and the Hallmark notion that love shuts off biology.  Even unmarried women often struggle to reconcile the notion that male attention is good with the cultural assumption that any woman who gets a lot of male attention is a filthy harlot.  The reason I gave this 1.5 categories is because this can really cover a wide continuum between the shameful feelings and well adjusted enjoyment of the bonus attention; enough that I could imagine an argument for a separate category but not so much that I felt it warranted a solid fourth.

Which brings me to the real fun bit, what the hell is the point of all this blather anyway?  Well, firstly, a friend asked me to write this and it sounded like fun, so what the hell right?  But moreover, there is a public service announcement to be had here.  The obvious one is for the girls.  You do not need to be the biggest internet slut ever to enjoy these attentions, you will get a boost in the attention department in the short-run but you will shoot yourself in the foot in the long run.  You also do not need to veer to the other extreme, plenty of women enjoy the game without hiding their gender or fighting off creepo stalkers twenty-four/seven.  You do not even need to be ashamed of enjoying the attention, as long as you recognize it for what it is and enjoy it as such.

That is all well and good of course but it is also a bit of a red herring.  The real public service announcement is for men.  However, this one requires a bit of context to really fully appreciate it.  There was a time when I was younger that I could not imagine being insulted by being hit on.  I am a pretty open minded fellow in general, it never bothered me when women I found unattractive hit on me, to the contrary, I found it flattering.  I was even flattered when gay men hit on me.  I am as straight as they come but I was happy to take their approaches as flattery as well.  I could never understand it when women talked about being creeped out by a guy hitting on them.  Then I was in a porn store one night when a man approached me.  It is very hard to capture the exact feeling for someone who has not been there, but this man veritably oozed slimy.  He made some kind of crude pass at me and it was immediately crystal clear what women had been talking about all those years, this guy was (and I think I have showcased my vocabulary enough here that you can trust me when I say, there is simply no other way to adequately express this) fucking creepy as hell.

At the end of the day, the point is, “do not be that guy.”  Have some empathy.  Understand that even if a woman is acting like the biggest internet hooker in the known universe, she is most likely struggling to explore how men react to her.  Even if she is pretending to be a man, she is (likely) not a transvestite, just afraid.  If you lack the life experience to empathize, make a female toon and pretend to be a chick for a week.  Take all the sleazy, creepy, unpleasant come-ons you get and build yourself a damn filter.
–Xak, Smarty-Pants Extraordinaire, Esq.


Postscript: I’m too tired for a rebuttal tonight, but rest assured, there will be one.

Worth fighting for.

I had–truly–an amazing day at work yesterday. It had nothing to do with bosses, or meetings, or or data. It had everything to do with why I do what I do. And if I hadn’t had been there, if I hadn’t added my own viewpoint on the events of yesterday, I would not have worked with some amazing colleagues who bring so much to the table, and I would have missed out on my own gifts, too. We may have even saved a life.

When I finally did get home and got to continue my time in Pandaria, it felt truly good. I want to go on record right here, right now, because I know there will be glitches, obstacles, and negativity, but seize this moment, that I think the land of Pandaria is Blizzard’s masterpiece. This is not to say the other lands are not exquisite and amazing – in fact, if not for those building up to this, I am certain we players would not have the appreciation that many of us do. Well, I speak for myself: my breath is taken away.

I may never catch-up with others. In fact, I know I won’t. Others have different schedules and demands, and that is their journey, not mine. Yes, I will do my best to choose wisely and spend my time leveling those characters I want to take raiding, and hope those opportunities are there. But if they never come again, it’s okay. I know my time in the real world matters, and I want my time spent in this virtual world to be refreshing and bright. I felt like when I was in there, I was living Chihiro’s adventure from Spirited Away. I felt like I was strong again. I felt – well, dare I say it? Balanced.

No guildmates were available to run a new dungeon when I could play, which was fine. I went in with a cracker-jack group from my own realm, and confessed I had not played the Beta, and they hadn’t either. It was a blast. And this is a confession of character vanity: I loved watching how Mataoka looks when she’s fighting from an front-view perspective. She is amazing. Yes, third-person is completely appropriate here. She was my first character, and still is firmly ensconced as my favorite.

What is worth fighting for? What the Pandaren said. And I will try not to forget it.

Discipline.

Ah, sometimes early-waking insomnia pays off; rather, it’s probably the devil at the front-loading part of ‘getting his due.’ In other words, sometime around 2PM today it will take all I got not to pass out at work. And to be honest, my tummy actually does kind of hurt right now. No joke. I feel sick. But I must go in. My new boss LOVES meetings, and meetings that start on the dot at 7:35AM. But–as the Pandarians say, “Discipline.” Oh, I got me some of that! I can get my tail to work and RL activites.

But here are first impressions of our new land:
1. I’m glad I didn’t play the Beta.
2. I will feel “left behind” as friends and guildmates level up quickly today
3. I cannot wait to see a Draenei do a barrel roll with hooves.

*Matty Out.*

PS Checklists rule!
http://www.worldofmatticus.com/my-frantic-preparations-for-mists/