Blog Archives

The Return of the Aravan Awards, 2014 Edition

A few years ago, I gave out awards in random categories for the following reason:

…Coming up with a top ten list has to be the easiest writing job in the world. Jot down ten things, come up with superficial reasons for their inclusion, and then explain how blatantly wrong you are as just “a way to get people talking about it.” It’s the ultimate mail-it-in, who-gives-a-shit approach to writing.

So I am TOTALLY in!

I followed it up with the Second Annual Aravan Awards for 2011, then didn’t do one for 2012 or 2013 because my life fell completely to shit and it took me a while to climb back out of it. But now I have, so it’s time to dust off the formulaic and simplistic content generating machine…

THE THIRD SOMETIMES-ANNUAL ARAVAN AWARDS!!!!

The most-coveted shitty plastic trophy presented by someone named Alan Edwards in the entire galaxy.

The most-coveted shitty plastic trophy presented by someone named Alan Edwards in the entire galaxy.

What are the Aravan Awards, you probably didn’t ask? I’ll tell you anyway! The Aravan Awards are completely arbitrary awards in arbitrary categories that I give out for arbitrary reasons. For example, the 2010 Aravan Award for Best Movie I Watched in 2010 went to Pulp Fiction, which did not come out in 2010 and I’d seen years previously but happened to rewatch it in 2010 and it was better than anything I saw that year. So you know what you’re in for. Plus, the awards are arbitrary because I don’t always remember what year something happened, so it’s kind’ve a grab bag of Shit That Happened At Some Point. Bear with me. The Aravan part of the awards name comes from the pseudonym I originally used here until I published my first book and changed the blog over to my real name (OR IS IT?!?!) and I’ve stuck with it because Tradition. And now you can’t un-know any of that useless information.

Anyway, on to the cheap shitty statuettes!

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Adam Sessler, and the End of an Era

Now that's a face you can trust.

This might come as a bit of a surprise to you, but I am a nerd. A big one. I don’t confine myself to just one or two branches of the Geek Tree either. I am a multidimensional dork. Tabletop gaming? Yep. Live action role playing? Uh-huh. I’ve even added boffer fighting to my repertoire. Comic book fan? Oh yes. I even find myself in the nerdiest of all possible corporate professions. That’s right. I’m an accountant. I am an all-around geek.

But of all of my nerdy pursuits, my favorite is video games. I was a PC and console gamer back when Combat! and Adventure were awe-inspiring. I was jaded before Super Mario Bros. came out (I owned E.T. for the Atari 2600, after all). Video games have been a life-long love of mine, and that hasn’t changed. Luckily, my wife shares this passion with me, and our side-by-side TVs and separate XBox 360s mean that we can both stay up until 5 am playing Skyrim or ME3 and not feel guilty about it. In fact, we’ve been known to apologize for going to bed and leaving the other to game by themselves. It’s our main hobby.

We don’t watch a lot of TV, because that gets in the way of all the multiplayer Mass Effect playing we can do, but there are a few we always catch. Top Shot. Archer. The most obscure one, however, would be one found on the G4 network. You probably have never watched it, because it mostly shows Cops and its teenaged counterpart Campus P.D. No one should ever watch those shows. My wife and I used to watch two of their shows religiously – Attack of the Show, which was about pop culture with a heavy emphasis on technology and other nerdy things and went to shit when Olivia Munn left, and our favorite of them all, X-Play.

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The Second Annual Aravan Awards, 2011 Edition

I Googled "cheap plastic statue" and got this. I think it qualifies.

Last year, I gave out awards in random categories for the following reason:

…Coming up with a top ten list has to be the easiest writing job in the world.  Jot down ten things, come up with superficial reasons for their inclusion, and then explain how blatantly wrong you are as just “a way to get people talking about it.”  It’s the ultimate mail-it-in, who-gives-a-shit approach to writing.

So I am TOTALLY in!

This year will be no different! As with last year, the Aravan Awards are a group of awards in arbitrary categories for arbitrary reasons.  Oh, and since I am both lazy and have a horrible memory for time, I won’t restrict myself to things that came out this year, just things that I think I remember seeing this year.  Or am at least pretty sure I remember experiencing in 2011. Seriously, time is a big-ass blur to me quite often. Maybe it’s the drinking. Anyway, it’s time to haul out the cheap plastic statuettes and give credit where credit is due.

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Here Are Some TV Shows I Either Hate or Don’t Get

I don’t watch a ton of TV. I do have a bunch of shows I DVR and watch religiously like Archer, Tosh.0, Top Shot (I love Colby, and I love his teeth), some cooking shows (farewell, Good Eats, and thank you for really teaching me how to cook like a badass), Doctor Who, Top Gear, some BBC comedies… well, actually, that adds up to a shitload of TV. But hey, when repeats are factored in, it comes to just an hour or two a day at most. Some weeks we watch none at all.

Sometimes, though, I don’t have anything on tap, or I’m just trying to relax for a bit after work, and we’ll surf around and find something to watch. A lot of times it turns out to be odd shit like Mythbusters or What Not To Wear (don’t judge me) or – hey, I said don’t judge me – something like – you know what? Fine. Judge me all you want. I FIND THE SARCASTIC BANTER OF STACY AND CLINTON BOTH WITTY AND URBANE. So there. – or something equally random. It’s during these times that I am forced to see commercials, a vile life form I hate so vociferously that they can literally make me shake with rage. I have a friend who finds it endlessly amusing the gymnastics I’ll go through when diving 16 feet over a table, 2 dogs, a laptop, and couch to snag the remote so I can mute the first non-show sounds I hear. I really hate commercials.

Every now and again, though, I see them with or without sound. Or I’ll be flipping through the guide and notice the titles, and think to myself – what the fuck? Who watches this? Why? Is this country doomed? What follows is a list of some of those shows that make me wonder about or completely lose faith with humanity.

Oh, and if you’re easily offended, skip the “Toddlers & Tiaras” section below. Actually, you’re better off heading off somewhere else in general, but especially with that section.

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Two Problems I Have with (Some) YA Fiction

I’m gonna get the disclaimers out of the way first. I don’t have it out for Young Adult fiction. I respect the work that goes into it, because writing anything is hard. This post does NOT say anywhere that YA fiction sucks (except the three words before this parenthetical aside) or that it’s all terrible or anything like that. Some is terrible, certainly. But I am not attacking ALL YA fiction. I have some problems with every genre, from fantasy (chainmail bikinis! Dual-wielding rangers!) to science fiction (convoluted science-like mumbo-jumbo! Space-suit bikinis!) to zombie stuff (zombies with a twist! Survivors in bikinis!) and on and on. So just so we’re clear: I do not hate ALL YA fiction. Just some. Here’s why.

I’ve written a lot of shit in my day. Some would argue that it’s pretty much all I write, and to that I say, meh, okay, solid point. I’ve written training manuals, software help files, fantasy, horror, fantasy horror, fantasy training manuals of horror, exercise DVD reviews, football articles, farm tour memoirs, restaurant reviews – you get the point. I feel like I can write in pretty much any genre if I get inspired, from romance to fanfic to tourist guides and so forth. There is, however, one genre I could never write:

Young Adult fiction.

I can’t do it. I can’t imagine doing it. It would be impossible for me to have the perspective necessary to pull it off well. However, like any critic, I sure know how to bitch about something I can’t do.

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WTF, AOTS?

Lady Aravan and I used to watch Attack of the Show on G4 faithfully.  Kevin Periera and Olivia Munn had fantastically goofy chemistry, the show was fun, and we both loved it.

Then Olivia Munn got all famous, wrote a book, got a gig on the Daily Show, then her own sit-com, and that was that.  For most of 2010, Kevin had to labor alongside a guest host every night.  Some of them, like Alison Haislip and Morgan Webb of X-Play, were great – not Olivia, but themselves, and that was perfect.  Others, well, didn’t do so well, and they were so memorable I can’t remember a single one of their names. Read the rest of this entry

Politics As Usual

As the title indicates, this post is about politics.  I am going to be mouthy and opinionated.  I will probably use a few curse words (UPDATE: yeah, I sure did.  A lot).  I just wanted to get that warning out there.  If bad language and one ignorant man’s opinions offend you, you don’t want to read this. Read the rest of this entry

The Power of the Media

I’ve read two articles recently that struck me, both illustrating the power of the media to distort truth and damage lives.  Growing up, I seem to remember thinking the news was pretty impartial, stating facts and pretty much leaving it at that.  The editorials section of the paper had some opiniated pieces, sure, but on the whole, the facts were presented with the reader left to conclude what it meant.  Now, it seems all we have are editorialists, and we tune into Fox or MSNBC to get the slant we most generally agree with.  Maybe I’m wrong, and the “golden age” of impartial journalism never existed.

A lot of us know about Ben Roethlisberger’s idiotic drunken escapade.  We’ve heard the story about that night.  But what most of us didn’t know the first story, the one that came out the night of the incident:

“13. THE ACCUSER HERSELF WAS UNCERTAIN ABOUT THE MATTER. When the officer on the spot said “I need to talk to the alleged victim, not [the sorority sisters],” he asked the accuser if Roethlisberger had raped her. She said:

(A). “No.”   (DA news conference; PART 2, starts  2:42, key point: about 4:10:  http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/video/index.html [also at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaRGdYizw7g])

(B) When asked if the two had sex, she said “well, I’m not sure.” (DA interview, PART 2, starts  2:42, key point: about 4:20:  http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/video/index.html [also at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaRGdYizw7g]).

    (Blash also said she seemed inebriated, incoherent, “nonchalant,” and at times seemed to to want to tell someone that “y’all did whatever.”)”