Sci-Fi Doesn’t Have to Be Dominated by Horny Bro Wizards
In a genre where supposedly Anything Goes, where the boundaries of narrative and potential reality are not only immaterial, but also intended to be shattered with pure acts of what-the-fuck, I’ve always been baffled by how 90 percent of science fiction works seem exactly the same—a glorified romance novel, unnecessarily set in a world where, like, computers can erase minds.
A LIST OF THINGS I NEVER UNDERSTOOD OR LIKED ABOUT SCIENCE FICTION
Why so much goddamn talking? The Earth is being pressed upon by black magnets piloted by a race of people made of lasers from the eyes of God, and here’s a four-page scene featuring two dudes having a conversation about who stole who’s Space Lamborghini. Dialogue is fucking stupid 90 percent of the time in the first place, but when written by someone with Asperger’s it becomes instant skimming material. Please stop.
Having a Premise
The worst thing about most science fiction is how the author gets an idea they like, and then that’s the book. Like, there’s an underwater city ruled by a blue cube that holds its citizens in eternal fear threatening to explode the glass walls that contain them if they don’t work tirelessly on building a machine gun powerful enough to kill the moon, but then people just run around trying to figure out a way to stop the cube’s cruel reign, and nothing interesting happens besides the idea on the back of the book. Call me a dick, but I don’t want one fun idea, I want 500.
Generally Shitty Writing
I imagine the thinking behind a lot of science fiction is that the ideas and conceits are so fantastic that it doesn’t matter how plain the writing is. I guess the crudity is supposed to be part of the appeal, but sometimes it’s nice to not feel like I could read one out of every 18 sentences and still get the same feel out of the book. Why can’t the language be as weird as the ideas?
A New App Lets You Bribe People for Dates
We live in a big cyber world filled to the brim with dating apps and websites. Anyone these days can try to find love with the click of a button, from farmers and ranchers to the obsessively gluten-free. So, what’s the hubbub with this new one called Carrot Dating, which surprisingly is not the name for either of the previous sites mentioned?
MIT graduate and evident ladies’ man Brandon Wade invented an app that bribes women into going on dates with men. (Although the site’s FAQ page states that the briber can be of any demographic or sexual orientation—that is, women are allowed to bribe the men, too—77 percent of the bribers are male.) You see, it’s called Carrot Dating in reference to the idiomatic “carrot and stick.” Back in the old days, a cart driver would dangle a carrot attached to a stick in front of a donkey which would trick the donkey into moving forward, thus moving his cart. To Brandon, women are those finicky donkeys who don’t want to follow an unattractive, self-obsessed cart driver unless he dangles a yummy carrot in front of them.
The scheme sounds like a work of near science fiction. But police in the Netherlands and Belgium insist its true, and say they have the evidence to prove it: two tons of cocaine and heroin, a machine gun, a suitcase stuffed with $1.7 million, and hard drive cases turned into hacking devices.
I Went to a Pokémon Musical
I stood outside the Asylum Theatre on Santa Monica Boulevard at 11:59 PM on a Saturday, leering with an exhaustion that trickled through like molasses. I turned to my date, wincing through my exhaustion, “I really hope this Pokémon musical sucks balls.”
I had first heard of The Pokemusical by way of Groupon, which has undergone something of a transformation—it used to be for consumers looking for a good deal, but now it seems to mainy be a way for ailing businesses and about-to-fail shows to wave flags that say, “We surrender! Please please please give us almost any amount of money for our goods and services!” It’s still a decent way to get discounts, but it’s an even better way to discover bizarre projects that never should have existed in the first place.
So naturally I figured I’d be experiencing off-key voices, patchy dialogue, and terrible dance moves. I was prepared for a room of sweaty nerds resting solely on their references. I was prepared for an audience of their friends clapping despite their hackneyed performances. I was prepared to run home and trash the evening, gleefully telling everyone I knew how awful it was. What happened on Saturday night ruined these preparations.
Professional Wingmen Will Get You Laid… for a Price
Trying to pick up a person while grocery shopping, in a park, on a train, or at a traffic light seems to be a lost art. Such weirdness is considered to be an awkward maneuver by outmoded Luddites, sad freaks who aren’t savvy enough to navigate the many online dating options available to anyone with a computer.
Still, whether its attributable to blind nostalgia, raw non-conformity, or just a poor internet connection, these folk continue to exist. Haplessly bolstering their efforts with new clothes, scents, and social dithering fuelled by increasingly precious cash, they still optimistically trudge out into the night (and day) to stalk their prey. Yet, without the reassurance of a buddy/friend/wingman or wingwoman, they are deemed desperate, weird, sadly unpopular, and friendless—an obvious disincentive for a potential “mate.”
A wingman/wingwoman/wingperson personifies reassurance for the casual observer, particularly potential dates. Akin to a bodyguard/maid/butler/counselor they serve as a guardian, ego booster, and ornate decoration that suggests you are palatable to at least one other member of the human race.
It’s irrelevant who a wingman is, as long as they present well and speak kindly of you. They could be a long-time friend, work colleague, neighbor or roommate. Unfortunately for some eager singles, finding a person to hit the dating scene with you solely for your benefit is difficult. Enter the paid wingman—giving romance-starved folks a second chance via a hired hand when they’re on the prowl.
Services such as Professional Wingman in New York and Wingman Pro in LA cater to the desperate and dateless. The former costs around $400 for basic services, with additional seminars, counseling, and classes on everything from dress sense to educated dining. A full blown wingman syllabus could set you back thousands of dollars.
'Grand Theft Auto V' Is Going to Destroy My Social Life
Grand Theft Auto IV came out in the same week as my first and only (thus far) root canal. I had been prescribed Tylenol 3s, which I rationally mixed into my diet of purple kush and takeout. At the time I had a roommate, whose freeloader brother was sleeping on a couch in our basement while I was up all night playing GTAIV, one level above him. At one point, probably around five in the morning, he yelled up at me to keep it down and go to bed. So after hearing this complaint from a virtual stranger—who was couchsurfing at my house in the middle of one of my precious GTAIV sessions—I told him to fuck off. And that’s when I understood GTA’s grip on me.
If you’ve never played a Grand Theft Auto game, they are infinitely more addictive than basically any other video game that purports to have unlimited boundaries. While The Sims is a fun, family-friendly time where you can build yourself an in-ground pool, install a bar beside the diving board, get your Sims drunk, then send them for a drunken swim right before you remove the ladder and watch them drown in their own alcoholic misery—Grand Theft Auto provides an exponentially more insane set of circumstances for someone to cause digital mayhem.
Are You “Quirky” and “Interesting”? This Bullshit Dating Website Could Be for You!
Last week I was forwarded a press release for a new dating website called LoveFlutter.com. Interestingly, it promises to screen out people who are “boring”:
“To coincide with our launch we’ve worked with Dr. Simon Moore of the British Psychological Society to create a 60-second test that scores how interesting a person is, out of 100. It’s called The Quirky-Interesting Test and we’re harnessing it to exclude any ‘unexciting’ types at sign-up. Potential members must pass the test in order to join LoveFlutter.”
Wow. An innovative new test backed by a real-life scientist who deems himself an authority on what is “quirky” and “interesting”? This sounded like exactly the kind of tonic my love life has long been in dire need of. Could science tell me whether I was interesting enough to be allowed to have sex with people?
There Was a Harry Potter Craft Fair
When nerds aren’t fighting each other on the battle lines for the glory of being the “ultimate fan,” they relax within safe havens like the “Harry Potter Store,” in Los Angeles, CA. Whimsic Alley, as it’s officially called, has been haunting the streets of Wilshire Blvd for longer than you’re guessing. Hidden between a sports/karaoke bar and a deserted Blockbuster Video, it’s just like the real Wizarding World, if He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was a codename for the Great Recession.
Despite it being years since the last book hit shelves, or the last movie hit theaters, its frequently unshowered followers still pack the halls. Just recently they showed off their yarn-soft sides in the Etsy-be-damned Harry Potter Store Craft Faire.
For a brief period of time I sold wands at this store. I was in between adult jobs and thought I’d add a dose of whimsy to my life. The turnover rate for employees has been so high however, that I walked in undetected by any of the wand-wielding staff, a truth I found equal-parts relieving and disappointing.
Comic-Con Parties Are Where Nerds Go to Feel Sexy
When I first heard about this thing called “Comic-Con” many years ago, I was told that it wasn’t just a great place to get back issues of The Amazing Spider-Man. It was also a nexus for the entire sci-fi/fantasy nerd culture. San Diego was one of the few places where a nerd could comfortably walk around town dressed like Mr. Spock without someone asking you where your spaceship was parked. Fuck those people, because you don’t park spaceships. Everyone knows that! Duh.
You can still dress up, but Comic-Con isn’t as much about that misfit community as much as it’s a five-day costumed orgy, sort of like Eyes Wide Shut, but with everyone dressed like Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, or the legendary character, Mexican Goth Batman.
People are constantly feeding me drinks, trying to get me to take mystery pills, and pitching me their screenplay ideas. It’s like Los Angeles got in the car with me and came to San Diego. Unfortunately, Los Angeles never pays for gas and is always making me pull over for snacks like I’m made of money or something.
Comic-Con parties have hot go-go dancers, open bars, and the faint, pungent scent of sexual despertation; an odor I know too well. Actually, the name of the cologne I was wearing last night is “Sexual Desperation.” It’s a combination of fish oil and vanilla extract, which is just the kind of signature scent I’m looking for.