Tonight’s the Night, a review of sorts

It’s either 3:24 or 4:24 AM as I write this depending on how late I want this to be. Tonight is Vinyl Club, which is my Dad’s thing more than mine because he has a record player. I have five albums I am willing to listen to more than once, and I keep them at home because I have nothing to listen to them with. I don’t know if my Dad ever listens to them, but I doubt it. Anyways, the point is that tonight is Vinyl Club night and I usually involve myself in the proceedings. Some of the guys are staying over because, well they can. All the women of the family are in Halifax.

At the moment we are listening to “Tonight’s the Night,” by Neil Young. My Dad says this is his desert island album. My Dad likes Neil Young a lot, which is fair; Neil Young is good at what he does. Still the story behind the album is a bit depressing. Basically two of Neil Young’s friends ODed in the same amount of time, so to commemorate their death he and a bunch of other musicians got really waisted late at night and made this album. I’m not really sure how that’s supposed to make sense, but the only thing keeping me awake is Coca Cola and the fact I can’t show weakness in front of all these married guys who have day jobs. I’m in my twenties and the vast majority of my friends are poets and independent musicians. By all accounts I should be able to stay awake for five days being sustained only by absinthe and crackers. Not that I plan on doing so, because that would be crazy. Being a bohemian poet doesn’t mean I’m insane. God.

But my Dad really likes “Tonight’s the Night,” and that’s the point. He was talking about why he liked it, but I can’t remember what he said. I think it had something to do with the emotion in the album, that Neil Young had two of his best friends OD in such a short time and the only way he could make sense of this grief was to get totally waisted and make an album. When you think about it, a lot of albums were probably made like that in the seventies, but this one has an actual point. This isn’t getting fucked up because it’s the nineteen seventies, this is the fucking dark night of the soul; he’s crossing the fucking abyss right now, and what’s even more this is some damn good music. This is the best sounding dark night of the soul ever put to vinyl, and that’s really the most fucked up thing of all.

I don’t even know what time it is, because it’s late and day light savings time so all the clocks are changing. It’s nuts. I’m messed up, but not nearly as fucked up as the people on this album. You should all listen to this record, but at 1 in the morning. So if you have a free night you should listen to this album. All of you. Thank you for reading.


Ideas for Role-Playing Games

I like role-playing games. One of the great things I’d love is a group of friends who could put aside a few days every week to play role-playing games. Since I don’t really have something like that, I tend to come up with ideas for role-playing games that I put away for a later date. Because I need to put more stuff up and I’m a bit tired about reiterating why Fundamentalist Christians are theological dullards, I decided to make a short post on role-playing ideas I’ve come up with.

  • Mage: the Ascension Strangelly, the first idea I had for a fully formed Mage: the Ascension game I could be proud of featured the Technocracy, and I’m a hardcore Traditions man. You all know a guy called Owen Newman, a member of the New World Order’s Academic faction. You knew him in college, he was your estranged father, he was your favorite teacher, you were the last person who saw him alive, your the agent assigned to investigating his murder. As you all investigate his murder and play politics in the Technocracy construct, you begin to come across a long histroy of corruption of your construct and the Technocracy in general. I may rewrite this as a fanfiction involving a Man in Black who doesn’t play by the rules and a superhuman clone who is involved in a battle of genetic politics he dosen’t completely understand. They fight crime.
  • Vampire: the Masquerade or Requiem. You are vampires. You uphold the Masquerade. That’s it. Every game is another Masquerade breech or possible Masquerade breach you need to solve. The rise of the Internet and easy communication will also be a recurring theme, as the Masquerade becomes harder and harder to maintain.
  • Changeling: the Lost. One long Tom Waits tribute. Everybody takes a Tom Waits song as inspiration for their characters (examples, “Soldier’s Things,” “Frank’s Wild Years,” “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up,” anything from Blue Valentine). Every game is based on a Tom Waits song. (examples “Underground,” “Way Down in the Hole,” “The Black Rider,” anything from Mule Variations.) Like the vampire idea this will be largely episodic. This entire game is based around the fact that Changeling: the Lost is a very Tom Waits style game, particularly during his Swordfishtrombone-Rain Dogs phase.
  • Unknown Armies You are a group of minor occult investigators on the outside of the power games of the Occult Underground of Los Angeles looking in. One day a man shows up at your door, hands you a package, and dies. When you open the package you realize it is the Rudolf Valentino dildo, a highly charged magic item found in Kenneth Anger’s grimoire Hollywood Babylon. You soon find yourself wanted by a variety of groups, such as the Gay Agenda and a secret order of Adepts who control the world via manipulating Hollywood films. If the Valentino Dildo is prepared in such a way with a series of other artifacts, you can achieve ultimate power, provided you aren’t killed in the process.

Responce to Diamanda Hagan’s Apocalypse Reviews – Part 2: The Christian Narrative

One of the main problems with the rapture narratives of Fundamentalist Christians is that it is basically the same story. The Rapture comes, the Antichrist takes over the world, an intrepid group of Christians fight against the Fascist World State, throw in a redemption plot and repeat as necessary. The sameness of these plots can be explained in that all of these Rapture stories are generally retellings of the same story, i.e. The Book of Revelations. All in all I have nothing against the retelling of stories, but I have a problem with the ideas behind the Rapture narrative that I believe distract from the message of Jesus Christ. I will also go on into why I feel that stuff like this exists in the first place, and how I feel Christianity should be approched.

Manichean Duality and Why It’s Silly

As far as the Apocalypse Quartet goes, the stories don’t differentiate much from each other. You have the intrepid group of Christian Fundamentalists (good) and obnoxiously Antichrist (evil). In between you have the “hero” of the story, a non-Christian who after many trials involving weird pseudoscience, fascistic secret police and a hammy Antichrist becomes a Christian and is never heard from again. They are then never heard from again. They are also usually played by minor celebrities, which I imagine is a way to give fundamentalist Christianity legitimacy. As much legitimacy as Mr. T can provide anyways.

Theologically, the movies work on a Fundamentalist reading of  the Book of Revelations, which is where the movies really suffer. They offer no room for questioning the doctrine, and what doctrine that exists is shoved down the viewer’s throat like a very large communion wafer. When the characters are good, they are exemplars of purity. When they are evil, they are so damn hammy that it totally looses any credibility. The redemption plot offers a character that hangs between the two, but for the most part they end up joining the ranks of the Christian fundamentalists, and then disappearing to make way for the redemption arc of the next movie.

I have problems with this on a theological level, as well as a narrative one. In the end both of these are probably going to be the same. The first one is that the way good and evil is portrayed in these movies is really Manichean. As Hagan herself states “the goodies and the badies must be as clearly signposted as possible or the little baby Jesus will cry.” While Good Vrs Evil is a common theme in most narratives, it is usually done with a bit more subtlety. Yes, the show takes place in a fascist state, but the presence of the a gloating evil is just silly and insulting. Pure evil, if it exists, can not survive in the ambiguous atmosphere of our reality, let alone in a human vessel. When you have people kicking dogs because they are evil, this just moves the story into the realm of camp. unfortunately due to the homophobic nature of the religious right, they can’t do camp right. Nor would they want too, the film is meant to be taken seriously.

My problem with this is nothing I can really explain in perfectly theological terms except for he fact that the world doesn’t work like that, nor does religion. The fact is that no one is ever a hundred percent good or evil. Actually, I can bring that in Christian terms with the notion of sin. In Christianity, everyone sins. It’s like a brain virus that cuts one of from communication with God. Being a hundred percent “good” is impossible in this concept, because even if you are the greatest person in the world, you aren’t in a full relationship with God. Likewise, you can’t be fully evil because even though we are blocked of by the sin virus, God is still communicating with all of us through various means, possibly extending to everything we perceive, and even if someone was to completely devolve into sin I highly doubt they would become that…odvious. They would all likely be turned into something beyond human understanding, and as such beyond the bounds of human concepts such as camp.

And while we’re on the subject, being a Christian does not give you a sin-free card. Just saying that you accept the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as God and that Jesus became human and died for our sins does not mean you are inherently sin-free or that you have a free card for the rest of your life to do whatever. Being a Christian means you acknowledge the world is fucked up, but that God (i.e. a state of non-fucked-ness) incarnated itself into a human being so that you can become non-fucked up. And that human being was not an easy person to exemplify.

The Christian Narrative

There is a story I heard where a liberal Christian was talking to a fundamentalist Christian who were arguing about the nature of Jesus. Liberal Christian viewed Jesus Christ as the Jesus of the gospels, a hippie who wandered the land and was brutally executed by the state. The fundamentalist Christian preferred to think of the Jesus of the Revelations, Chuck Norris with a fiery sword. Since these views of Christ are kind of in conflict, a debate grew up. The fundamentalist ended by basically saying “I don’t want to pray to any God I could beat up.” In here we have a major flaw in the Revelations-centric view of Christianity. Yes, Gospel Jesus is a “wimp,” in the conventional sense of the word. He does not fight back when the Man comes to get him, and he dies what in any normal sense is a shameful, pointless and violent death. Despite this, you still can’t beat up Gospel Jesus for the simple fact that you can‘t kill him! He only returns from the dead three days later. You can’t beat something that doesn’t die.

In the end, this is Christianity distilled. The world is a messed up place, were the strong prey upon the weak, but the weak can take comfort in the fact that God is one of them, literally. You can say that this creates a group of sheep people, but it can also be said that by incarnating himself into Jesus Christ, God is making a political statement against injustice. Do not hurt these guys, they are my people. That the Rapture narratives seek to supplant this image of Jesus troubles me because it is a violent and blatant denial of the image of Jesus Christ that has been the basis of the Christian religion.

Anyways, my point in going on this rant is that this is very different from how God is portrayed in the Rapture narratives. To put it blankly, God is a dick in these movies. He abducts people and takes them away from their families, an activity that is more in line with Stalin than Jesus Christ. Furthermore, God does this suddenly, causing plane crashes and untold damages to other people, and the kicker is that somehow he is supposed to be “the good guy.” This is all very obvious, and Diamanda Hagan has already gone into it, but it also brings up the fact this is not what Christianity is supposed to be. If we are to presume that Christianity at its core is a religion of mimicking the ways of Christ, then the God of the Rapture is against Christ.