Monday, August 29, 2016


Proudly reminiscing and reflecting on half a decade of Internet Is In America tomfoolery ... and how YOU can play a big role in shaping the site moving forward.

By: Jimbo X

To do anything nonstop for five years, it takes a lot of commitment. You’ve got to remain dedicated and passionate about whatever you are doing, and in today’s ADHD-inducing electronic wonderland, things get old and boring faster than you can say Candy Crush.

In a way, it feels both surreal and totally natural that The Internet Is In America has been chugging along for half a decade now. It's surreal because when I first started posting articles, I had no earthly clue that I'd still be regularly adding content five years down the road. Conversely, it feels downright normal in the sense that I've gotten into such a routine, such a stern yet flexible self-scheduling process, that it makes sense that I'd have stuck to this damn thing for so long.

So, why do I keep running this venture, when there's virtually zero financial or even professional benefits to all of the work I put into it? Well, if I may get philosophical for a bit ...

You see, in life, we are desperately in pursuit of something called "continuity." This is the invisible (and sometimes, not so invisible) threads that makes all of the crazy bullshit that happens to us in life make sense (or, at the absolute least, feel a little less like totally random, isolated incidents.) Since starting this blog, there really haven't been a whole lot of "constants" in my life. Over the last five years, I've lived at four different residences, held four different jobs, owned two different cars, graduated college, watched my mother die and seen six different quarterbacks come under center for the Raiders. Consistency, needless to say, has most definitely not been the order of my day.

What The Internet Is In America represents for me is some semblance of stability and sameness in an always-changing (and oftentimes uncertain) world. No matter how crappy my week, no matter how many stupid edits my boss wants me to make to my paid work, no matter how much my car insurance premium goes up, at the end of the day, I've got my own virtual empire to tend to, something I rule over like a Roman tyrant, that I can call mine and mine alone. This isn't just a blog, it's a storage unit for the most undiluted, unfiltered and uncensored part of my psyche. All the stuff I want to scream at the top of my lungs in day-to-day life, that's what I publish here. In that, The Internet Is In America is probably more about providing a therapeutic outlet than it is an artistic one.

For those not in the loop, The Internet Is In America came about as a senior project when I was in college (no, for real.) My professor wanted me to start some sort of new media-centric blog, so I decided to put IIIA online the fall 2011 term. At the time, I was writing for about four or five different websites, and I was getting really tired of having to put up with my editors' idiosyncratic bullshit. So, already having a blog on the docket, I simply transformed IIIA into a catch-all for all the stuff I was writing about elsewhere - my thoughts on MMA, retro video games, junk food culture and whatever was pissing me off about U.S. society at the time. And I've been going full speed ahead with "the project" ever since.

There's never been a central point to the blog, I suppose. Really, I just write about whatever has my attention at the moment, whether it's something as grandiose as U.S. race relations or the latest and greatest Pop-Tarts variations. From the get-go, I've known that I've wanted IIIA to be a good combination of the serious and the pointless, of the high brow and the low brow, the intellectual and the idiotic. I wanted to tackle things that matter socially and things that have no bearings on modern culture with an equal amount of ardor and vigor. Ever a fan of the Hegelian dialectic, I suppose I've been subconsciously waiting for some sort of great synthesis to emerge from slamming together articles about the excesses of political correctness and consumer culture headlong into articles about old Captain Planet episodes, early '90s WWF pay-per-view events and odes to the monsters wandering the aisles on the first season of Supermarket Sweep.

The one thing I've never set out to do, however, is produce clickbait. I honestly don't give a shit if people read my stuff or not. I don't advertise the site, I don't have any mechanisms in place to generate revenue from the blog (although if the economy starts going down the shitter, I at least have that option) and I don't go around on forums and social media aggregators pimping my articles to inflate my hit count (well, anymore, at least.) I figure that if you find my stuff, there's something very specific you are looking for, anyway. The Internet Is In America has never been about "mainstream acceptance." I'm perfectly happy residing in this little niche, far removed from the vacuous hustle and bustle of the self-aggrandizing, personality-driven, "please donate to my Patreon" blogosphere turd tank. I'm simply going to keep creating solid content, and the magic that is Google will do the rest.

As of the publication of this article, I've uploaded well over 600 stories, which in turn, have generated well over 900,000 page views. Depending on the season, the blog is netting anywhere from 30,000 to 60,000 unique hits a month. The sum's not particularly great (or bad), but it is consistent, and by golly, you know how much I adore me some consistency. I've made a conscious effort to produce more timely content (in some cases, even planning out articles a full year in advance), but everything is still more or less cobbled together on the fly. If I'm not feeling something, I will put it on the back burner, and if I get a bizarre itch to write something totally unplanned, I'll go with it as long as what's showing up on the screen isn't 100 percent incoherent rambling. You'll never see IIIA deteriorate into wishy-washy bullshit about my own life, however. If you come a knocking at my door, I know it's because you want a solid recap of a Raiders game or UFC show and some keen analysis of the newest Taco Bell produce, and not because you've bought into my cult of personality and want to hear me ramble on and on about my cats and how girls don't understand me. (By the way, I hate cats and unlike 90 percent of the dudes out there running low-culture-appreciation sites, I'm actually in a committed relationship with a human female. Whom I didn't order off the Internet, either.)

As far as stuff I've published, I don't play favorites. I'm the kind of guy who is always looking ahead, not behind. Some stories have been better than others, but by and large, I'm happy with just about everything I've posted on IIIA. I mean, there's probably a burrito review somewhere in there that I would've approached differently, but eh, it's already happened. Generally, I just try to write as much about a topic as I feel passionate about/interested in, and after that? It's a dead slab of meat I've sliced off my soul. You can eat it and find it nutritious or you can spit it out in disgust. Either way, I've already dedicated myself to working on the next slab, and I'll stop giving a shit about that one as soon as I hit the publish button, as well. That's not to say I consider my stuff disposable or anything. Rather, I just feel that something is no longer mine after I send it out into the Internet wild. Yeah, I wrote it and everything, but it's now a communal offering, not just some tangible representation of my innermost thoughts made (digital) flesh I keep to myself. All I do is strive to make the next article the best one I've ever written, and in keeping with the teachings of one of my elder gods George Carlin, over the last half decade, I do believe I've witnessed some signs of improvement.

Now, how long do I think I can keep The Internet Is In America going? Well, there's still a lot of stuff I want to write about (in fact, I have a notebook outlining detailed notes on at least 200 posts I haven't gotten around to penning yet.) Plus, random stuff out of nowhere inspires me everyday, so that list keeps getting bigger instead of shrinking. Alas, as I grow older, my greater concerns have steered away from the upkeep of my wannabe-media-empire and towards more important real-life shit, like buying a house, putting a ring on my girl's finger and actually injecting her with my seed so as to bring forth another human being on this planet, of which at least half of his or her genetic inheritance is my own. With heavy, heavy stuff like that resting on your shoulders, all of a sudden, spending ten hours on the greatest article ever about the Atari Lynx kinda becomes an afterthought. Still, although I expect to be writing and posting less material for the site beginning next year, I don't think I will ever completely discard it. I mean, there's too much stupid shit that rankles me, and I've got to externalize my wellspring of concern and outrage somewhere. That, and transcribing live MMA shows and football games gives me the illusion of doing something productive with my life. If I just eat a Halloween-themed burger, all I'm doing is getting fatter. But if I write a multimedia-heavy article about said Halloween-themed burger, now I'm being "artistic" and "counter-cultural" and "subversively anti-materialistic," turning the fleeting, ephemeral moments of my consumer existence into something with pseudo-collective worth. And that has a whole lot more appeal to it than you'd reasonably assume.

So what's my endgame now? Do I keep putting stuff out there until I hit 1,000 posts and then do three or four updates a month, Dino Drac style? Do I turn this thing into more or less a glorified Tumblr page with mamby-pamby 300 or 400 word mini-posts? Do I let the site lay dormant for weeks on end, periodically resurfacing for longer and more thorough pieces a'la The Best Page in the Universe? Do I sell out completely and just push out boring, analytics-driven listicles to appease the gods of Alphabet and their nigh-unquestionable search indexing algorithms? Eh, I don't know. All I know is that I've got a lot of stuff in the hopper, and as long a I can find the wherewithal and the motivation to keep churning stuff out, IIIA should be chugging along for quite some time to come.

In the past I've mulled the possibility of getting a proper domain, but since I've never really been one for vanity suffixes, I am more than content keeping the blogspot albatross in the URL. Like I said earlier, I might be into advertisements and monetizing some content, but I don't have any active plans in mind. As far as expanding the site with social media pages, YoutTube channels and even secondary websites? Dude, I barely have enough time to get all my shit posted here - I'm afraid we hit critical mass a long time ago, folks.

Alas, while I've never been one to lay prone before the ungodly hordes of populism, that doesn't mean I don't care about feedback - constructive or negative. I honestly want to know: what do you like about the site and what do you hate? Are there any kind of features you want to see more of? Do you think I ought to stick to reviewing old propaganda movies and crazy ass junk food, or would you prefer I focus on more sociopolitically relevant matters and subjects? Are you keen on the movie reviews and video game countdowns, or would you like to see more coverage of sporting events and photographic essays about all the wacky shit going on in Atlanta? Granted, I may not completely retool the kinds of things I cover at The Internet Is In America, but I'll at least take into consideration. Maybe.

And lastly, I wanted to throw down the proverbial gauntlet to any longtime readers or site newcomers with a budding interest in writing themselves. As a professional writer and editor in the real world, I'd love to publish some guest pieces on IIIA, pending your musings are entertaining, enlightening or informative enough to pass old Jimbo's smell test. I'm especially interested in hearing from readers whose area of expertise\interest lay outside of the stuff normally produced at IIIA. For example, I'd love to bring somebody on board who can provide an ideological counterweight to This Week In Social Justice Warrior-dom - somebody with liberal, progressive leanings who has the chops to produce a semi-regular This Week in Alt-Right Bullshit column or something along those lines. I don't know shit about modern console or PC gaming, so if you have a good idea for what's great and what's crap without defaulting to the usual IGN and Gamespot fanboy sectarian nonsense, I think you'd be another excellent candidate for IIIA. Hell, I'd love to have some folks with hardline feminist and #BlackLivesMatter perspectives earning bylines, too. As long as you are able to put out decent, thought-provoking articles covering uncommon things in a hilarious or educational way (or you have a really uncommon perspective you can both elucidate upon and rationally describe regarding more common societal matters) on a quasi-regular basis, I'll give you a shot. Think you have what it takes to run side-by-side with old Jimbo and proudly wave the flag of our dear mascot Flaily the Arrow-Penised Inflatable Tube Man? Send me what you got here and we'll see where we can go from there.

I'm no pie-in-the-sky wannabe tastemaker with illusions of grandeur. This site will never be as big as stuff like I-Mockery or Cracked, or even the super-duper-successful indies like The Surfing Pizza. I'm perfectly content being cloaked in obscurity, periodically having my work called out by multi-billionaire venture capitalists, the nation's largest and most prestigious daily newspaper and some guy on 4Chan who thinks I'm actually some GamerGate person from Minnesota who owes him money. I never started this thing to become rich or famous or even be celebrated by the nameless, faceless, Internet throng. I just write because I enjoy it, it makes me happy and it's a lot more cost effective and health-conscious pastime than shooting heroin and jumping on moving trains for cheap thrills.

So here's to the first five years of The Internet Is In America, and all the havoc and mayhem and hilarity that has been wrought. And here's to the next five years of IIIA ... in whatever undreamable, unfathomable shape it assumes ... even harder.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Crystal Pepsi is BACK!

Also, it may or may not be a genetic engineering experiment gone awry...

By: Jimbo X

Simply put, nothing is more ‘90s than Crystal Pepsi. If you were to synthesize the entirety of the decade – the post-Savings and Loans-spawned recession, the grunge movement, rampant heroin use, Blockbuster Video, AOL, the Sega Genesis, the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, Starbucks still being a novel concept, Michael Jordan, David Koresh, The Oklahoma City Bombing, the Rwandan Genocide, Pokemon, Bill Clinton getting his dick sucked in the Oval Office and the OJ Simpson murder trial– into pure liquid form, it would taste just like translucent not-Coca Cola. Well, that, or Pogs.

Yes, the same way Max Headroom (with or without the signal intrusion incident) embodies the absolute essence of 1980s commercialism, Crystal Pepsi is pretty much the living embodiment of trying-way-too-hard-1990's-consumer culture. Indeed, the product itself was launched with one of the most perplexing self-important ad campaigns ever, complete with a nigh-impossible to forget Super Bowl commercial set to the tune of Van Hagar's "Right Now." Pepsi's marketers wanted to convince us this was no gimmicky soda ... indeed, it was a full fledged revolution in the American consumer experience. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, all Crystal Pepsi was, ultimately, was normal Pepsi sans the caramel food coloring, and not even pre-Internet people who flocked out in droves to buy "pump-up" shoes were dumb enough to believe the cola juggernaut's self-aggrandizing hype. The way Pepsi touted it, you'd have thought the soda was the iPhone of its day, or some revolutionary new form of democracy - but yeah, it was simply Pepsi that was the same color as Sprite, and that was it.

The strange thing is - and I am SHOCKED nobody ever brings this up when discussing the long, long discontinued product - is that it was actually borne out of a contamination scare. Shortly before the product was launched, Pepsi was besieged by allegations that its products were being tainted with all sorts of crazy shit, with folks claiming to find bullets and needles in their cans of Pepsi A.M. Although Pepsi probably won't ever come out and say it, that had to have been the catalyst for the product - sales were dropping because people were afraid they were going to swallow a syringe, so what better way to reassure your base than to relaunch your flagship brand as a totally translucent offering? (Yeah, I know Wikipedia says some shit about Ivory soap being the impetus for the product, but fuck them, I actually lived through the '90s and I can tell you what really happened.)

Now, Pepsi was smart enough to avoid replacing their standard, black-sludge hued regular Pepsi and Diet Pepsi products like Coca-Cola did in the mid-'80s, instead opting to sell Crystal Pepsi is a tertiary revenue generator. The thing is, the product didn't really taste 100 percent like Pepsi. I mean, the general texture and mouthfeel was there, but it also tasted a little more citrus, like a little bit of Mountain Dew had been sprinkled into it. Furthermore, the stuff went flat in a hurry, with the last few drops of the cola on warm day tasting like watered down Kroger-brand soda. So, needless to say, Crystal Pepsi just was not long for this world. By the end of 1993, the product had been totally axed, although a variation of the beverage was offered in Mexico (of all places) all the way up until 2005.

So, here we are, 22 years since Crystal Pepsi was last seen on store shelves. With overly-romanticized 1990s nostalgia all the rage, I suppose it was only a matter of time before Pepsi tried wheeling out its see-through soda again. I mean, shit, they already brought back Cinnamon French Toast, so this thing was practically foretold in the stars.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of the product, we've got to talk about the chemical composition of said product. Calorie-wise, it's more or less the same as regular Pepsi - 250, if you are counting - and there is a shit load of sugar, a full 69 grams. Also, unlike the original Crystal Pepsi, this re-do isn't caffeine-free, so if you just has to get you a buzz from your fizzy soft drink, yeah, this one will get your heart humming. 

The really interesting thing about the product, however, is its - would you call it a "warning?" - that it was "partially produced with genetic engineering." I've never seen wording on any kind of foodstuff hailing itself as the product of genetic modification before, so this one really took me aback. I mean, just how much DNA fiddling do you have to do to make clear Pepsi, anyway? It's not like we're making synthetic dinosaurs out of amber-encased mosquitoes, here - it's just the regular stuff without the normal food coloring, isn't it? ISN'T IT?!? But for real, though, this signage is weird as fuck and makes me feel all kinds of awkward, so yeah, good job PepsiCo, making me fearful that drinking your shit will turn me into a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles villain or something. 

From a purely aesthetic standpoint, this is just a downright horrible product to review. I mean, it's the same color as water, that totally indescribable color that I am aghast no one in human history has ever come up with a proper term for. Outside of simply saying, "well, people, it looks like Sprite, except maybe a little bit cloudier," I've got nothing at all to work with here. 

That said, I can go on for a bit about the product's taste - and its weird psychological properties.

First things first, this product DOES NOT TASTE AT ALL LIKE THE CRYSTAL PEPSI FROM 1993. That product had a very pronounced Sierra-Mist like twang to it, and the overall soda felt a little thinner and less sugary than regular cola. This one - for what its worth - tastes pretty much like your run-of-the-mill Pepsi, right down to its thick, saccharine, corn syrupy flavor. Therein lies the true mind-bending weirdness of the product. You see, even though you consciously know what you are drinking is Pepsi, taste-wise, your brain simply will not let you process the experience as "drinking Pepsi" because it looks so wildly different from what you are used to. It's a beverage that literally turns your brain against your senses, playing confused mediator between sight and taste. No matter how much you want to believe what you are drinking is standard Pepsi, you will swear up and down that what you are drinking is something altogether different - to the point where your taste buds start getting confused and you honestly think the cola changes "flavor" while sipping it. Yeah, it's hard to explain, but I assure you it's going to happen while you consume the cola. Shit, maybe that's why the label has the genetic engineering warning on it - it may unassumingly look like a fun throwback to the All That era, but deep down, it's really "MKUltra, the soft drink."

Pictured: something that hasn't been relevant since 1993. And beside it, Crystal Pepsi

Perhaps acknowledging  the intrinsic niche appeal of the product, Pepsi hasn't really put that much marketing elbow grease behind the relaunch. Indeed, it's actually pretty hard to find the product in my neck of the woods - I couldn't find the stuff at any of the big boxes and big name grocery stores, and just caught one at a random gas station by sheer happenstance. Furthermore, I haven't seen the soda released as anything other than a 20 ounce one-and-done container. No two-liter bottles, no 12 packs - in fact,there are no canned beverages whatsoever. That's a true shame, because those old school aluminum containers were probably more memorable than the soda itself - I mean, just take a look at that mid '90s NBA uniform-quality design!

So, uh, is there any sort of greater reason why you should go out of your way to try the revamped Crystal Pepsi? Well, if you never tried it before, there really isn't much of a point, because the inherent nostalgia of the release will be lost on you. It's kind of a Catch 22 in that regard, because even if you do vividly recall what the original formula tasted like, this one doesn't taste anything at all like that, so it's kind of a moot point. A moot point you can drink, but a moot point all the same. Still, the packaging is a gem of minimal design and drinking a foggy, Smirnoff Ice looking Pepsi does have a certain intrinsic appeal. Plus, it's definitely something feeling your mind go into mini revolutionary war mode because it can't rationalize the traditional Pepsi taste emanating from a Sprite-hued liquid. And in that? The sensory-disorientating experience is probably worth the $1.89 asking price - hell, maybe even $1.99, for that matter.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Top 50 Greatest PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 Games EVER! (Part Five:Number 10 to 01)

Part five of a special five-part series counting down the best NEC's 16-bit system had to offer ... on both sides of the Pacific, no less!

By: Jimbo X

When people think about video gaming in the late 1980s and early 1990s, visions of the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis seem to pop up almost instinctively. However, amid all of that late 8-bit and early 16-bit awesomeness, there was a third home console challenger, which despite never getting as much publicity or reverence as the Big Two, nonetheless managed to grace us with some of the greatest and most inventive 2D shoot em ups, action platformers and multiplayer puzzlers in the history of the interactive medium. 

While NEC's TurboGrafx-16 ran a distant third in the North American console race, its Japanese counterpart the PC Engine had legs well into the mid 1990s. Indeed, the pioneering 16-bit system (which actually used an 8-bit CPU, but no need to muddle with the technicalities) actually outdid Nintendo and Sega in many respects, creating a cult classic piece of hardware that even now, can lay claim to owning one of the best and most versatile software libraries of any console ever. 

As we've done with the DreamcastSega CDNeo Geo and Game Gear, we here at The Internet Is In America now pay tribute to the iconic NEC system with a special five-part series counting down the absolute best games to ever grace the TG-16 or PC Engine. And exhaustive doesn't begin to cover how in-depth we went for this undertaking - it took a full year, but eventually, we managed to get our hands on every single game to ever legally make its way to either system, thus allowing us to review and rank every title objectively across the entire field of PC Engine and TurboGrafx offerings. 

Before we hop into the countdown, let's go over a few ground rules, why don't we?

First, only games released on the proprietary Hu-Card format are eligible for the list. So that means, as awesome as they were, no PC Engine offerings only available in CD-ROM, Arcade CD-ROM or Super CD-ROM formats are included in the rankings.

Secondly, only officially licensed games released during the system's first hardware run (that's from 1987 to 1995, in case you were wondering) are considered. So no homebrews, ROM hacks, pirated ports or unlicensed mass-produced games got any consideration.

And lastly? Opinions are like assholes, and your asshole is probably different from mine. Don't like the final outcome? Then take it upon yourself to play every fuckin' game on the console like I did and craft a better countdown. I'm waiting, amigo. I'm waiting. 

And without further adieu, how about we get this show on the road? 

Number 10:
Battle Lode Runner
(Hudson Soft - 1993)

Released way late in the life cycle of the PC Engine, Battle Lode Runner was definitely the last truly great Hu-Card ever manufactured. Indeed, next to a certain other multiplayer favorite from Hudson Soft that may or may not be ranked a little higher on the countdown, this has to be the best all-around party game on the PC Engine. So, what makes Battle Lode Runner so awesome? Well, despite its incredibly simple premise - you dig holes, and wait for your foes to fall into them - it is also a strangely entertaining and addictive offering. Up to five players simultaneously can run around the stages trying to bury each other alive, and adding to the hilarity, generous power-ups and tertiary enemies are sometimes sprinkled around the playing space to make things even more hectic. Even better, the game contains no less than three multiplayer battle modes (survival, escape and tag team), ensuring you and your pals will be playing this one for a long time to come. 

Number 09:
Detana!! Twin Bee
(1992 - Konami)

Whatever you do, do not let the aesthetics of this game fool you. Oh, it's colorful and whimsical and humorous and all, but deep down, it's a real SHMUP, complete with some very challenging levels, some incredibly daunting boss fights and some of the most persistently intense (and awesome) firefights to be found on any genre game on the console. The fifth entry in the spin-off heavy Twin Bee franchise (which, interestingly, also includes detours into platforming action on the SNES), Detana!! is a vertically scrolling shooter with vibrant graphics, well-defined sprites, memorable music and lots and lots of weird enemies. Although one could lump this into the "cute 'em up" subgenre, the game isn't for beginners. Indeed, it will kick your ass and hard if you don't take it seriously, and even seasoned SHMUP enthusiasts might be sweating it a bit when playing on the highest difficulty setting. The game's most brilliant feature, in my eyes? An ingenious "power-up" system that requires you to shoot bells until they change colors, and like Kryptonite, thusly change intrinsic properties. Trust me, this is not an easy task, especially when you have two dozen kamikaze onions flying at you and fungi on railroad carts blasting you at ground-level...

Number 08:
Parodius Da!!
(1992 - Konami)

Leave it to Konami to create a game that mocks, ridicules and totally deconstructs one of its most valuable, beloved and long-running series - with the end result an even more entertaining and memorable game that its inspiration! Obviously aping the core mechanics of Gradius (you can even play as the iconic Vic Viper, if you don't want to play as an octopus, a bird or the titular aircraft from the Twin Bee games), Parodius manages to outdo the company's "more serious" SHMUP offering with brighter visuals, more detailed sprites, much more creative level design and, as should be glaringly apparent, a lot of self-referential (if not self-deprecating) humor. Needless to say, the aesthetics here are just gorgeous, and the music is among the best you'll ever hear on the PC Engine. But amidst the boss fights against dancing Vegas showgirls, sumo wrestling pigs and a naked woman laying in bed for no discernible reason whatsoever, you'll soon discover something truly shocking about Parodius: not only does it look cool, it also provides a bona fide fantastic SHMUP experience, complete with some super-challenging fire fights and some of the tightest, close-corridor combat the genre has ever seen. 

Number 07:
The Legendary Axe 2
(1990 - Victor Musical Industries)

The first The Legendary Axe game was awesome, but part two completely takes things to a whole different level. Somewhat eschewing the pure platforming action of the original, part dos instead takes on a more linear, straightforward hack and slash dynamic, essentially providing players the bastard love child of Rygar and Ghosts 'N Goblins. The thing that really separates this game from the herd, however, is its atmosphere. In many ways, this might just be the creepiest game on the console, with a weird sense of suspense permeating every pixel on the screen. Granted, a lot of that has to do with the super-spooky foes you face, including midgets swinging ball-and-chain weaponry twice their size and a trio of demonically possessed baby dolls. But no, there's something else unnerving about the title (and no, it's not just the fact that enemies continue pursuing you, even after you lop their noggins off.) Maybe it's the incredible sense of isolation the game provides? Aye, as you wander around the pitch black environs, doing battle with winged demons, lizard people and the occasional robotic death machine, you can't help but feel a profound existential dread, as if the the very next thing around the corner is destined to do you in. Not a lot of three dimensional survival horror games in this era manage to accomplish that feat; that a half-century old cartridge based game from the George H.W. Bush era does is more than enough reason to give this one a try. 

Number 06:
(1992 - Taito)

I fuckin' love me some Sega Genesis, but there's no way around it: the venerable Truxton on the Mega Drive is utter dog shit compared to this port on the PC Engine, which not only looks and sounds more like its arcade inspiration, it also plays smoother and with much less slowdown. Although SHMUPs are clearly an acquired taste, even non-fans can take one look at Tatsujin and immediately see what makes it different from its contemporaries. For one thing, the field of play is just a smidge larger than most shoot em up titles, which means there is an "invisible" margin a few pixels to the left and right of the screen at all times. Of course, this means enemy ships can sometimes barrel into you from out of nowhere, but at the same time, the feature gives you far more leeway to engage in some artistic SHMUPing. Yes, more so than just about any other genre game on the PC Engine, Tatsujin is a game that demands you find a certain "rhythm." To excel, you can't just stand still and bob and weave out of enemy fire, you constantly have to be on the move, slipping and sliding across the screen like a laser-gun toting hockey player. It's definitely one of the more fluid games to be found on the system, and when it comes to straight up genre goodness, Tatsujin brings it in buckets: the controls are tight, the visuals are colorful, the sprites are huge, detailed and chunky and the music and sound effects are just terrific. And my goodness, is it ever fun powering up the "blue lightning" upgrade and just slinging hot, neon death across the cosmos while skating around like you're in The Ice Capades or something...

Number 05:
Devil's Crush
(1990 - Naxat Soft)

Who'd thunk a Satanic-themed pinball game wouldn't just be an enjoyable little romp, but one of the absolute best games ever released on the Hu-Card format? Give it Naxat Soft, they really managed to take an out-of-left-field idea (which, somehow, avoided the wrath and consternation of the early '90s Moral Majority types) and amp it up into a truly unforgettable experience. Although the game only has one primary table, the title is also loaded with mini-games, including some daunting flipper-based boss fights against skeleton armies, marching goat-people and cackling, demon puking skulls. Oh, and that's to say nothing of the miniature bad guys ambling around on the main playing field itself - at times, Devil's Crush feels less like a video pinball game than it does a bizarre Tolkien real-time-strategy game! Of course, the core gameplay is what matters most, and Devil's Crush certainly delivers the goods. The controls are pretty much perfect, there is hardly any slowdown (even when hordes of the undead are blocking your ramp shots) and the in-game challenges, while imposing, are nonetheless doable pending you get enough practice in (indeed, the game itself can be "conquered" if you rack up 9,999,999,900 points.) And if absolutely nothing else, you have got to play this one to hear the music - it's about as close as we'll likely ever get to hearing Goblin in chiptune form. 

Number 04:
Super Star Soldier 
(1991 - Hudson Soft)

The Soldier series has to be one of the most underappreciated old school franchises ever. Remember Star Force and Star Soldier on the NES? Well, this game is technically part of the same series, but it totally strikes out on its own, revamping the core gameplay mechanics, pushing the tempo to thumb-blistering speeds and bombarding you with absolutely gorgeous - and chaotic - space-blasting action with absolutely zero slowdown whatsoever. You know what to expect here: appealing visuals, hyper-speed blasting action, incredible techno-rock music, a million-billion awesome power-ups that can be upgraded to near god-levels (the blue rings of death are definitely my favorite), some clever boss battles (beginning with the first one, which ensnares you inside a coiling loop of death with chunky, insta-kill objects trying to careen into you) and some really, really cool looking level design (the indigo crystal stage is an absolute masterpiece of minimalism.) And then there are the special effects, including impressive looking quasi-three-dimensional quicksand and lava and quite possibly the most amazing explosions to be found on either the PC Engine or the TG-16. 

Number 03:
Blazing Lasers 
(1989 - Hudson Soft)

That this game came out in 1989 absolutely blows my mind. Even now, the vibrant 2D visuals and virtually flicker-less onscreen action is technically impressive, so way back in the day - when Altered Beast was more or less the most graphically advanced home console game to date - this shit was absolutely flooring. Even the absolute best of the best on the NES and Sega Master System - top-tier stuff like Gun-Nac and Power Strike - were held back by hardware limitations. There was always slowdown and flickering - an absolute open-mouth, tongue loaded kiss of death for shoot-em-ups - was all but unavoidable. What Blazing Lasers provided was an absolute technological marvel - a space shooter with huge, detailed sprites, lighting fast tempo and, the biggie, no graphical hiccups whatsoever. That alone would be reason to heap tons of praise upon the game, but in addition to being a mini-miracle of software design, it's a downright fantastic genre offering in its own right. Employing a power-up system comparable to Compile's outstanding Aleste series, Blazing Lasers (known as GunHed in non NA-markets) absolutely bombards you with the action early and often, with damn near two-dozen enemy ships on screen at any given time (unless, of course, you are doing battle with gigantic bosses, who usually take up anywhere from half to four-fifths of the entire screen.) Add in some very creative stages (the one with the bubbles always impressed me) and some of the most awesome SHMUP weapons ever (dude, the lightning gun whose trajectory you can control even after you hit the fire button!) and you have one of the greatest triumphs of early 1990s gaming, for sure. 

Number 02:
Bomberman '94
(1993 - Hudson Soft)

With the lone exception of the absolutely insanely awesome Saturn Bomberman, this has to be the best Bomberman game Hudson Soft has ever produced. It's not just that the game looks absolutely gorgeous - it's a much better looking game than any of the Bomberman games released on the Genesis or SNES, in my view - it's that the game strikes a practically perfect mixture of old-school, kill-em-up action with hardware-driven experimentation. By now, you know how the Bomberman template works, and Hudson Soft wisely refused to fix what was never broken. However, what they do is harness the graphical power of the PC Engine to create extremely detailed stages, complete with some downright marvelous visual effects. Take a look at the factory level, which is absolutely inundated with moving foreground and background pieces, or the haunted house stage, with its ingenious "spotlight" mechanism to simulate abject darkness. This the kind of stuff that just couldn't have been done with NES hardware, and its little shift-ups like that (as opposed to utterly needless overhauls of the tried and true gameplay) that really makes this one pop as one of the franchise's absolute best. Oh, and if the fantastic single player mode wasn't enough, this game also offers a stellar five-player battle mode - which, needless to say, is far and away the best multiplayer experience available on the console. 

Number 01:
Soldier Blade 
(1992 - Hudson Soft)

For my money, Soldier Blade isn't just the best PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 shooter ever, next to M.U.S.H.A., I'd consider it the absolute best pure 2D shoot-em-up ever made. While thematically and mechanically this game is not unlike dozens of others on the PC Engine and TurboGrafx-16, it manages to compile (get it?) all of the best elements of the SHMUP genre into a nearly flawless blast-a-thon experience. The visuals are absolutely beautiful, the music is downright incredible (I am this close to using the first stage theme as my ringtone), the levels are exquisitely designed (dude, the part with all of that funky, vibrating purple stuff!) the controls are absolutely perfect, the power-ups are an absolute blast to tinker around with, the boss fights (there are at least two in every stage) are clever and challenging, and the super-fast action never, ever lets up as soon as you hit the start button. And if that wasn't enough? The game also includes a special challenge mode, which lets you see just how long you can survive in two and five minute-long all-out aerial bombardments. Does Soldier Blade do anything radically new with the SHMUP genre, or give you anything, explicitly, that you haven't experienced in other games? No, it doesn't. But what the games does do, however, is merge everything great about shoot-em-ups into a top-notch, super smooth, incredibly addictive synthesis of the absolute best elements of the genre. Or to put it another way? Soldier Blade may not reinvent the proverbial wheel, but the wheels it has takes you on one of the wildest, most satisfying and enjoyable rides of your gaming career - and if you haven't given this one a spin, you have no earthly idea what kind of fun you are missing out on. 

And that's all we've got, folks! It was a downright delightful duty having to replay all of these old-school PC Engine and TurboGrafx-16 classics. Indeed, I had totally forgotten how awesome so many of the Hu-Cards were, and during the ranking process, I was additionally exposed to scores of fantastic games I had never played - let alone heard of - until now. Of course, you may have observed a few noticeable excisions from the countdown. Before you start picking up torches and sharpening your pitchforks, allow me one final opportunity to explain why a few popular PC Engine and TG-16 games didn't make my final cut, as we take a parting look at FIVE HU-CARDS THAT EVERYONE SEEMINGLY LOVES THAT I DIDN'T THINK WERE QUITE GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE TOP 50!

The Bonk Series!

OK, I know what you're thinking. "How could I possibly make a TG-16 countdown without including a single entry from the Bonk series?" Well, it's pretty simple, honestly: while enjoyable, I just don't think the Bonk games were really all that great platformers. Yes, the visuals were nice and the level design was quite good and it was funny watching your caveman avatar turn into an evil degenerate after eating meat (is that some sort of sly pro-vegan commentary, by the way?), but frankly, the games themselves felt just too industry standard to me. They didn't have the diversity of the Mario games, they lacked the thrilling speed of the Sonic games and they even lacked the core idiosyncratic charm of B-level hop and boppers like Kid Chameleon and Keith Courage. Overall, the Bonk games were decent, but they just don't have the same intuitive, pick-up-and-play appeal these days that they had 25 years ago.

Street Fighter II: Champion Edition!

This port of the ubiquitous Capcom brawler is a technical marvel, to be sure. While it is far and away the most visually impressive Hu-Card ever developed, the fact of the matter is that there are much, much better versions of the game to be played elsewhere. Honestly, if you own Super Street Fighter II on either the SNES or Genesis (or its definitive iteration on, of all things, the motherfucking 3D0) you've already got a game several times more enjoyable than this one. Furthermore, this thing is practically unplayable with the standard Turbo Pad, as it excises no less than four pivotal face buttons needed to truly kick virtual ass efficiently and effectively.


To be honest, I never really saw what was so great about this game. Yeah, I get that it was one of the first "God" games to gain any semblance of popularity, but I still thought the pace was far too slow with too few things, in-game, that you actually wanted to sink any time into. Furthermore, this game was just a headache to play with the standard issue Turbo Pad - if you just have to get your Populous on, you're better off playing the versions on the SNES or Amiga - or better yet, trying your hand at the vastly superior Powermonger from the same studio. 

Ninja Spirit!

Fun fact: did you know Ninja Spirit is the first game to ever receive a perfect 10 from the old school "Review Crew" at Electronic Gaming Monthly? Well, despite such lofty praise from Sushi-X and pals, this Hu-Card really doesn't offer you anything you haven't already played before in much better games like Ninja Gaiden and Strider. Yeah, the huge-assed boss fights are cool, but what's the point when you can literally finish the entire game in 15 minutes?

Air Zonk!

And lastly, we come to a game that it seems I would really, really dig. I love weird, irreverent games with bright, cartoony graphics and you know I love me some SHMUPs. Put the two together and you'd think I would be in hog heaven. Alas, while Air Zonk is a noble effort, it just doesn't have the same overall "oomph" that Parodius, Twin Bee or even Coryoon provided. Ultimately, this comes down to sheer technical issues: for one, the controls feel very slippery, and with enemies attacking you from every direction, it can be a real hassle trying to navigate the screen. And secondly, the game is one of the few on the console to display any noticeable signs of slowdown or flicker - which, as we all know by now - can sometimes render games nigh unplayable. Now, is Air Zonk a terrible game? Not at all, but with so many AAA SHMUPs on the console, it unfortunately just doens't have what it takes to compete with genre heavy hitters like Soldier Blade and Blazing Lasers.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

This Week in Social Justice Warrior-Dom

A fond look back at all the things that had ultra-P.C. jihadists OUTRAGED ... before they forget all about them in just a few days.

By: Jimbo X

America desperately tries to distance legalization of gay marriage from any connections to ongoing efforts to legalize incest, polygamy and child-marriage

Hey, remember last year, when the Supreme Court of the United States overturned all of the federal laws against gay marriage, thus making it legal for homosexuals coast to coast to go out and get hitched that evening? Oh, what a joyous occasion that was. The White House was lit rainbow-colored, the soothing sounds of Tegan and Sara filled the city streets and at least two or three of us engaged in totally platonic man-on-man handjobs simply to slight the ghost of anti-homo hatemonger (and NAACP-award winner) Fred Phelps. It seriously was like our generation's V-Day, our symbolic triumph over the forces of pure evil, which I believe we can all agree is a million, billion times worse than this. Of course, simply allowing gays and lesbians to wed overnight didn't eliminate that aforementioned, primitive darkness - indeed, as soon as the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges came down, there were some downright sick, bigoted and totally wrongheaded Christian Conservative nutters out there who were already ranting and a' raving that once gay marriage was codified, it was only a matter of time until other forms of non-mainstream sexual activities were granted the same civil protections. Of course, we laughed and scoffed and ridiculed their assertions that somehow, someway, the gay marriage ruling could ever set a precedent for changing the definition of what constitutes marriage and who it is that can be married ... this, despite the fact that precedent is an ingrained concept in Constitutional law and people like Peter Roff over at U.S. News & World Report were penning articles ominously titled "This is only the Beginning" just hours after the 5-4 decision came rolling out of D.C. Indeed, I believe it may be worth our collective whiles to revisit what Mr. Roff said after gay marriage became an inalienable right in 2015: 
"There are other practical questions to consider, all of which are raised by the way in which the court's majority reached its decision. What about marriages between close blood relations? Does the state still have a compelling interest in prohibiting them that does not conflict our rights under the 14th Amendment? Must states now also recognize or be unable to limit marriages between multiple parties at the same time because of the 14th Amendment protections? What about an existing marriage in which one spouse wishes to become married to another individual while remaining married to the person to whom they are already pledged? Is that too protected under the terms of the 14th Amendment?
These are not extraneous ramblings: they are the kind of questions that will have to be answered as the states work to comply with the court's decision. What the nine justices have done does not just bring us all to the end of a very long journey - it starts us off on another one that may be even more difficult to comprehend."  

Well, flash forward about a year, and look at what we're having to deal with now: in New Mexico, 36-year-old Monica Mares and her 19-year-old son Caleb Peterson are looking at 18 months in prison for engaging in incestuous behavior - a fourth degree felony. Keep in mind, this isn't technically a case of the typical child-abuse incest we're used to hearing about - indeed, both participants are willing, consenting partners, who had recently reconnected for the first time since Mares gave Peterson up for adoption as an infant. It was love at first sight, the two told The Daily Mail; in fact, the forbidden love is so strong that Mares said she is willing to give up her other eight children so she can continue to get balled by her 19-year-old offspring. 

As it turns out, there actually is a movement out there to legalize incest, complete with an all new, market-tested, in-group approved euphemism for people who fuck their own family members - consanguinamorous couples. "It needs to be brought to the attention of everybody in the country and people need to start thinking differently," said LilysGardener.Com founder Cristina Shy, who is very, very keen on letting everyone know her brother pounds her genitals on a regular basis. "We are all adults. We are not pedophiles, there's no domestic issues, we are in love, we want to be together but we are related. That shouldn't be a deciding factor." 

Oh, and for the kicker? 

"It was the same way with gay people just a few years ago and now they can get married," Shy said. "They are accepted. Well, why not consanguinamorous people like us?

But hey, why limit the state-recognized boning to just two people? Indeed, the idea of "throuples" - that is, relationships involving at least three people - has become quite popular over the years and homosexual and heterosexual swingers alike, and who better to make a stand in front of the Supreme Court than the nation's most visible proponents of polygamy, the stars of the TLC reality program Sister Wives? Indeed, the patriarch of the made-for-TV brood recently filed an appeal to the nation's high court challenging Utah's anti-bigamy laws, which - if accepted by SCOTUS - very well could pave the way to legalized polygamy from coast-to-coast.  

OK, so there are now mass movements to legalize consensual incest and consensual polygamy (interestingly enough, the bread and butter of many radical religious sects, including the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.) Which, naturally, segues into a discussion about the ultimate icky marriage-related issue: the idea that children should have the ability to consent to marriage, with grown-ass adults. If you think this is something completely beyond the pale in the Western world, you might want to hold on to your horses. Take Switzerland, for example, which has seen its number of child marriages increase from just five in 2005 to 119 so far this year. And believe it or not, the numbers in New England are even worse: thanks to a state loophole that allows minors to wed as long as the receive judicial approval ... which, means, effectively, they just get their parents approval. Per The Boston Globe, about 200 children (nearly 90 percent of them female) have been legally wed in Massachusetts since 2010. Oh, and its even worse elsewhere in the country: in New York, almost 4,000 underage kids were legally allowed to marry between 2000 to 2010 and in Virginia - where individuals as young as 12 can legally become brides and grooms - 4,500 minors were legally married between 2000 and 2013

And of course, there's the totally not at all expected suspect Germany, whose "official" tally of 1,000 child marriages nationwide over the last 18 months is now believed to be a vast undercount according to state authorities. Go on, take a wild guess as to what demographical trends might explain the sudden uptick

Which brings us to the sage words below, penned by Peter Herman and Eric Tazelaar a few years back. 
"One of your correspondents, you have noted, regrets society's exemplification of the gay community in purely sexual terms, thus ignoring those aspects of LGBT culture which nurture loving relationships and families and which build communities ... it was not that long ago, for example, that gays were considered mentally ill and that homosexual relationships were criminally prosecuted. We will spare you a recounting of injustices taken against other minorities and scapegoats over the history of the Americas." 
Oh, one last thing: Herman and Tazelaar are representatives of N.A.M.B.L.A., the North American Man-Boy Love Association, which - in case the name of the organization didn't give it away - are the world's largest special interests group looking out for pederasts. Let's let 'em wrap up their spiel about the residual effects of legalized gay marriage, why don't we? 
"We insist that men who love boys be so similarly regarded: as fellow human beings for whom relationships built upon mutual trust, respect and nurturance are paramount and who have contributed immeasurably to the benefit of their communities ... one of a number of researchers you did not mention and who has also swum against the overwhelming tide of irrational thought is Susan Clancy, author of 'The Trauma Myth,' who at the risk of her career, also reached that conclusion that, absent force, early sexual experiences do not cause trauma or even fleeting emotional upset. Only when the individual, as an adult, learns of society's current views does he reinterpret the experience negatively."
The great sociologist Robert K. Merton is oft celebrated for coining the term "unintended consequences" (not to be confused with the novel of the same name about gun nuts overthrowing the government, naturally.) What not a lot of people are aware of, however, is that Merton actually went on to break down unintended consequences into three different categories: benefits (your positive unanticipated outcomes), drawbacks (in which your solution inadvertently causes an entirely different problem) and the most interesting for our sake, something he called perverse results, which is when a solution actually makes the original problem even more severe. Constitutional law, then, is the ultimate embodiment of the so-called butterfly effect, with one SCOTUS ruling from 70 years ago having completely unanticipated auxiliary effects on the modern world (for example, the entire U.S. health insurance arena - Obamacare included - probably wouldn't exist had the National War Labor Board deemed employer-provided health care a violation of Hitler-era wage control legislation.) 

Which, if history is any indication, means that the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling - as sweeping as it is in regards to how "marriage" as an institution is defined - will undoubtedly create plenty of unanticipated changes to the U.S. legal framework, particularly regarding civil protections for those who engage in sexual behavior that - at the moment, at least - is still considered socially abnormal and in many cases, flat out illegal. And if the gay marriage ruling at least opens the door for potential legalization of plural marriages, consensual adult incest and consensual adult-on-minor relations, one can only fathom where the fallout of Obergefell will steer us throughout the century. 

Ironically, the most resounding impact of all may very well be the complete and utter elimination of marriage as a genetically-human construct by the time 2100 rolls around. But no worries: I'm sure we'll have plenty of Constitutionally protected animal-human hybrid sex and people legally wedding abstract concepts before then

A tale of two shootings

Something very, very peculiar happened last weekend in these United States.  In Milwaukee, a black man - who was carrying a loaded semiautomatic handgun police have identified as stolen in a March 2016 burglary yet was nonetheless described as "a nice, good person" by community members, despite having been arrested multiple times for illegally carrying a weapon, intimidating a witness, first degree recklessly endangering safety, THC possession and retail theft - attempted to flee from police during a traffic stop. After failing to put down his weapon, he was shot and killed by an officer (who, as fate would have it, also happened to be African-American.) The night of Aug. 13, Milwaukee's north side deteriorated into absolute bedlam. After a tense standoff with police, "demonstrators" turned violent, setting banks, auto parts stores and gas stations on fire - with emergency responders unable to put out the blazes because "protesters" kept shooting at them. Earlier in the day, "the socially conscious crowds" set a police car on fire, smashed a policeman's skull with a brick and a beat the living dog shit out of a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter covering the event. "Civil unrest" continued the next night as well, with one 18-year-old "demonstrator" shot by another "protester"and another police officer reportedly injured by an irate mob ... I mean, "a completely justified collection of individuals responding in a perfectly rational way to years of systemic injustices.

That same night, in Eastman, Ga., 31-year-old cop Tim Smith was shot and killed while responding to a suspicious person call. Smith's apparent murderer, 24-year-old Royhem Delshawn Deeds - who was charged with four counts of aggravated assault and two counts of felony cruelty to children in the first degree as recently as Feb. 2016, in addition to being arrested for a series of armed robberies in 2014 - was arrested two days later. 

Yet there was no rioting in Eastman. Gaggles of aggrieved cop sympathizers didn't march into the "hood" and start firebombing wig shops and pool halls. Nobody came out in droves, carrying "Blue Lives Matter" signs and firing handguns into the midnight sky. No totally innocent black people were unjustly beaten, assaulted, pummeled or killed in "retaliation" for Smith's homicide. In fact, riots never seem to happen when white people are killed by the police, regardless of the ethnoracial specifics of the officer believed to have fired the fatal bullet. Moreover, riots never seem to happen when black people kill white people EVER, despite the fact that African Americans tend to commit violent crimes against white people at five times the rate white people commit violent acts against black folks. Yet every single time a black person is killed by police - and especially every time a black person is gunned down by a white person, civilian or in uniform - protests, demonstrations and the occasional, vehemence-driven riot is inevitable

So please tell me - exactly who are the ones guilty of subscribing to an ethos of fervant racial tribalism again? 

Potato chips are now racist, everybody

In the great crusade for social equality, many of us focus on ingrained cultural constructs - i.e., discrepancies in judicial sentencing, disparate arrest rates and the quality of education opportunities based on geographical socioeconomic data, etc. - as starting points for a discussion on the best means and methods to bring about ethnoracial parity. The fine, upstanding folks over at The Chicago Reader, however, argue that the best place to address systemic racial equality in the American experience is at the snack section of your local grocer. While reviewing Lays latest array of international flavored chips - which runs the gamut from artificially-flavored tikka masala chips to baked goods meant to imitate the texture and tincture of Greek Tzatzki - the staff of the clickbaity virtual shit rag were downright disgusted by the Szechuan chicken flavored chips ... not so much because the chips themselves didn't taste all that great as it was the packaging of said product. "A dragon, a paper lantern, a pagoda, bamboo and a Chinese take-out container," one staffer declared. "Racism doesn't taste very good. These are upsetting on an emotional level." For once, I actually have to concur with our aspiring junior Red Guards ... I think images like these would do a much better job of representing the best China has to offer, personally. 

A round-up of recent black-on-white violent crime

The media sure do love them stories about white people killing black folks. Indeed, that very narrative has more or less carried national news coverage since 2012, when the great Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman snafu served as the opening course for a deluge of outrage and bitterness surrounding the police-involved deaths of scores of (mostly) young black men, whose criminal backgrounds range from the nominal to "convicted child rapist" and "literally just robbed a convenience store before being shot." Indeed, the record seems to be replaying itself with the recent "stand your ground" slaying of 20-year-old Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas at the hands of 39-year-old Chad Cameron Copley in Raleigh, N.C., which is sure to stir a great big ruckus as the case almost assuredly migrates towards criminal homicide proceedings. Alas, while stories about the mayonnaise-hued doing in their more melanated brethren grabs all the headlines, the frank reality is that black-on-white violence is a MUCH bigger social blight. Per U.S. Department of Justice data, approximately 99,000 violent crimes are perpetrated by white people against black individuals each year in the United States; meanwhile, approximately 560,000 violent crimes are perpetrated by black people against white individuals ... this, despite the fact that there are five times as many white people in the U.S. than there are black folks. Whilst it is nonetheless an important cultural imperative to examine, scrutinize and assess the 187 incidents per year of white citizens (well, presumably citizens) killing black people, it's just as important to take a close look at the 446 incidents of black people killing white people annually in these United States. Below, you'll find just a few of the more recent examples of the African-American populace victimizing the Caucasoid, melanin-deprived majority - and yeah, you probably won't be hearing CNN or MSNBC talking about any of them, for some inscrutable reason...

And representing the absolute nadir of black on white violence over the last half-month? Five individuals of color - four of whom are 18 or younger - have been charged with the merciless attempted murder of 83-year-old Dorothy Dow in rural Georgia. In the armed robbery, the octogenarian had both of her arms broken, suffered severe lacerations to her face and has third degree burns over a majority of her body after the assailants beat her and set her on fire.

Traditionally liberal leaning special interests groups COLLIDE as Twitter's black community accuses lesbian icon of racism 

More so than just about any mainstream celebrity, no one has done as much to push homosexuals into mainstream acceptance than Ellen DeGeneres. Alas, her status as pioneering lesbian entertainer meant precious little to the aggrieved social media hordes, who took deep, deep offense to the meme the television star/animated fish voice supplier posted online featuring her riding on the back of Olympian runner Usain Bolt. Now, whereas most of us would see this is hardly anything more than a lame sight gag - he's really, really fast, you see, and by using him as a mode of transportation, Ellen implies she can get to her destinations quicker - the tweet-heads out there see, what else, unabashed, unrepentant, and unforgiving ray-ray-racism. "If I ignored US history & current climate of police lynching us, this 'joke' would be hilarious," writes somebody using the cryptic nomme de plume "777-9311."Another tweeter, Mike Allen, said "You thought it'd be funny to post a pic of yourself riding on the back of a Black man? Nope. Delete this racist garbage." And not at all taking the Twitter kerfuffle to dizzying, apoplectic levels of hyperbole, user Michael Knight declared "This is how slavery started." Alas, all of this social media outrage seems like a most apropos time for a history lesson. For the record? Slavery, as a codified institution in the United States, began with a 1655 lawsuit between indentured servant John Casor against his "owner," Anthony Johnson ... whom, it may or may not be worth noting, was himself black.

"Progressively feminist" website rescinds positive review of Sausage Party after readers complain

You've probably never heard of the website Autostraddle before. That's more than likely because you tend to stay away from pretentious, arrogant, self-victimizing, special interests pandering, nigh-unreadable horse shit, online or off. Well, the site recently found itself in some deep (self-made) dookie as of late, when its readers - and keep in mind, this is an online publication that describes itself as, and I quote, "an intelligent, hilarious & provocative voice and a progressively feminist online community for a new generation of kickass lesbian, bisexual & otherwise inclined laders (and their friends)" - objected not only to a positive review of the new, ribald CGI Food Fight! imitator Sausage Fest, but demanded the site yank the article because it wasn't written by a Hispanic lesbian. Indeed, the editor of the site spent nearly 3,000 words explaining the error of their ways. Let's let Autostraddle head honcho Heather Hogan 'splain it her way, why don't we?
"After we published the review, we heard from Latinx readers who believe the portrayal of Salma Hayek's taco was racist and that it reinforced harmful stereotypes. We heard from readers who were upset that we labeled the taco a lesbian when it seems more likely that she was bisexual. We heard from readers who questioned the consent of the sexual encounter between the taco and the hot dog bun. We heard from readers who found the taco to be a damaging portrayal of a predatory queer woman. 
"There are several reasons I should have listened to the alarm bells of unease I felt about the 'Sausage Party' review. First and most damning: we allowed a non-Latino writer to cover a story about a caricature of Latina, and while the review didn't specifically mention the film's stereotyping, by praising the film as a positive portrayal of a queer Latina, we allowed a white writer to, in effect, condone that stereotyping."

Of course, one shan't ever mull the ironic racism of Hogan's perspectives, in which she insinuates that only Latinos can or should write about Latinos and the only queer folks can or should write about queer folks ... which, by their own tautology, would mean the writers at Autostraddle themselves have absolutely no business writing anything about males, heterosexuals or white people in general. Which, ultimately, is the second most troubling thing I found about the Sausage Party review recantation. The first? THE FACT THAT SO MANY FUCKING PEOPLE ARE TAKING OFFENSE TO A MOVIE ABOUT COMPUTER GENERATED TACOS.

Country music singer condemned for Twitter comments ... that he made five years ago 

Considering how easily offended today's ultra-aggrieved masses are, one has to wonder whether or not some social justice crusaders are simply looking for anything to criticize and castigate instead of, you know, actually improving real societal problems. Case in point? Country music singer and current Gwen Stefani humper Blake Shelton was taken to task recently when a bunch of Internet nerds uncovered two tweets from 2011 that they didn't like. One was The Voice star mocking a "douchebag" who didn't speak English because he couldn't tell "what he's planning to bomb" and the other was a cringey joke in which he rationalized a "sick fantasy" about Dakota Fanning by convincing himself she's actually Amanda Seyfried. Of course, the defenders of the faith showed up in droves to air their displeasure over Shelton's half-decade old comments, with one super-tolerant, non-judgmental social media user declaring "absolutely zero people should be surprised that Blake Shelton, a country singer from Oklahoma, is possibly racist and homophobic." Granted, said social media user never explained how one can mathematically or even logically quantify Shelton as a white supremacist or gay-hater, nor does said irate tweeter acknowledge the inherent prejudice of implying that country musicians, their fans and indeed any and all inhabitants of the state of Oklahoma all exhibit the same stereotypical characteristics, but, hey, this is a good old fashioned cyber with hunt, not no pointless self-evaluation. Well, anyway, that's the kind of stuff today's self-ordained societal system guardians deem unforgivable transgressions - not murdering your own children, not stabbing teenagers to death in the streets, not 15-year-old Blood gang members shooting police officers for shits and giggles - in today's brave new P.C. world.

Trump supporters continue to be victims of politically-driven violence, but nobody gives a shit

Pending you have a Facebook profile, you no doubt encountered The New York Times gripping, shocking and totally pointless video featuring "uncensored" voices from Donald Trump's crowds. The multimedia hit job was an expert example of selective framing, cherry picking and context exclusion, but since it got the point across that most, if not ALL Trump supporters are a bunch of hate filled crypto-racists, the Times gave them a big old pat on the back for "exposing" the hideousness of the pro-Trump throng. Of course, one could easily flip the camera around and recoil in disgust at the sociopathic violence displayed by anti-Trump protesters as they punch people in the face, pelt women with eggs, goad children into yelling obscenities and try to tip over police cars, but uh, that direct form of physical assault is somehow different from - and less concerning - than a bunch of fat dudes yelling "beaner" while wearing a sandwich board that says "fuck Islam." Indeed, there's been more than one instance of Trump supporters as of late getting brutally attacked by those who presumably plan on voting for Hillary this November, which - for reasons that no one can ever, ever explain - are completely blacked out of mainstream press. Should we begin with the story of the 60-year-old man who was shot by 45-year-old Darnell Hunt at Winston's Bar in Cleveland after the victim declared he thought Trump would make a great president? Or howzabaout the story out of Pittsburgh involving Trump-hater Joshua Sturman, who decided to light an American flag on fire in front of people protesting a Hilary Clinton speech, who then decided to attack an elderly protester when he attempted to put said fire out? Or how about the 62-year-old man in New Jersey who was attacked by a crowbar-wielding man simply because the assailant didn't like the victim's pro-Trump tee shirt? Indeed, such instances are a dime a dozen, despite hardly ever being brought up by the tastemakers in the big media. Hell, we've gotten to a point now that all attacks on Muslim individuals are being blamed on Trump. On August 13, imam Maulama Akonjee and Thar Uddin were gunned down in Queens - although police have said there is absolutely no hate crime links whatsoever, local Muslim residents are nonetheless convinced that old poofy head hisself is somehow, someway responsible for the bloodletting. "Trump and his drama has created Islamophobia," stated a guy whose last name was literally "Islam" to the New York Daily News. "For those in leadership like Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani and other members of institutions that project Islam and Muslims as the enemy, this is the end result of their wickedness," said imam Johari Adbul-Malik, whose ability to detect hypocrisy and/or irony seems keenly deficient. Oh, and for the great celestial punchline? The person believed to have committed the homicides looks ... well, I'll let you come to your own conclusion regarding this one.

Black Lives Matter protest Graceland because ... well, uh ...

For a moment, put aside your personal biases in support of (or in fierce opposition to) the Black Lives Matter movement, and think about things in terms of organizational strategy. First off, you need to have a justification for your own existence - i.e., a clear cut problem you seek to address, with a concrete methodology in place to solve said problem. Unfortunately, when your vaguely worded, highly nondescript Magna Carta is glutted with both financially impossible (and totally contradictory) demands like ending the privatization of all criminal justice related services and ending "public jails, detention centers, youth facilities and prisons as we know them," well ... yeah, don't expect to get too much accomplished, ever. But moving beyond that, think about the public relations component of the movement. Pray tell, what would you consider the best way to evangelize people and make them sympathetic to your cause? Strangely, instead of doing things that all of society would find mutually beneficial and morally forthright - like, oh say, running homeless shelters, operating soup kitchens or running after school programs - some BLM contingents have decided the golden path to widespread societal acceptance is standing in the middle of intersections at the peak of rush hour, periodically dropping bricks on cops' skulls to liven up the shenanigans. While the Memphis Coalition of Concerned Citizens' "Shut Down Graceland" operation on Aug. 15 wasn't quite as counterproductive, its mere existence nonetheless remains a complete and utter enigma. While Elvis has long been suspected of harboring racist sentiments , that wasn't the reason why the coalition of BLM activists gathered at the King's residence (or, at least, as close as they could get without crossing a police barricade.) According to a representative of MCCC, the protest was meant to demonstrate "one of Memphis' most common forms of financial inequality and because the site has ties to ... the death of unarmed teen Darrius Stewart." As it turns out, that Monday also kicked off peak season for Elvis tourists, so the "show of force" was more than likely arranged to piss off as many scared Presley worshipers as possible. In case you were wondering, several "demonstrators" were arrested for outstanding warrants and trying to trespass on private property at the event. And - shockingly, I know - the two or three hours of marching, screaming, shouting and slogan spouting did very, very little to address or correct any of the ingrained social problems the coalition said they sought to remedy. So in other words? Yeah, it was just another humdrum old Black Lives Matter protest, I'm afraid.

Oregon State set to implement mandatory "social justice" curriculum for freshmen

Remember back in the good old days, when colleges taught kids shit they could actually use in the professional world, like "math" and "English" and "critical thinking?" Well, those days - as obvious by the never-ending barrel of guffaws that is Oberlin College - are long gone, with our finest state-subsidized institutes of higher indoctrination opting to prepare students to be cannon fodder in a great cultural war against traditional conservatism ... or, as the kids nowadays call it, "racist, homophobic, misogynistic, trans-phobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic hyper-nationalism" (which, ostensibly, is the great catch-all for any kind of thinking that don't terra form 100 percent in lock-step agreement with their uber-liberal "everybody owes me something" Tao.) Recently, Oregon State University announced that they were rolling out an online "social justice" course this fall, which will eventually be spread out into a mandatory course for all incoming frosh next year. Per OSU, the program will expose to impressionable 18-year-olds "systemic and local inequities and that we all play a role in creating an OSU community that resists and corrects injustice" and "how to identify bias incidents and learn how to interrupt bias in our daily lives." Oh, and to maintain the new order, the university plans on expanding its "bias response team," whose goal is to infiltrate campus, identify and then systematically root out any and all signs of contrarian ... I mean, prejudicial ... thought. Per the university's interim diversity officer Angela Batista - clearly, the least Communist sounding surname anyone could ever have for such a position - "it's not about avoiding hard conversations or difficult ideas, but promoting and creating a safe and inclusive community where everyone has the ability to fully participate in these conversations."

Now I know what you're thinking. "Jimbo, old buddy, all that sounds nice and despotic and all, but pray tell, what exactly do those fine crypto-fascists up there in Oregon actually mean when they say the term 'social justice?'" Well - despite forcing its students to actively partake of it and accept it blindly as a cultural imperative and practically worship its tenants as a new religion - Batista said the university's precise definition of "social justice" is still, and I quote, "a work in progress.

Russian woman claims she was raped by a Pokemon 

Just when I thought a recent Urban Institute "research paper" blaming Pokemon for virtually redlining communities of color was the absolute most preposterous thing that could come out of the already passe mobile app sensation, leave it to the Ruskies to do us one better. According to various Russian media outlets - and since these are the old commies we are talkin' about here, we probably ought to take everything they say with a huge grain of salt - an avid Pokemon Go player in Moscow reportedly called the police to report that one of the anime monsters from the game had, through some befuddling metaphysical means, escaped from her phone, become a corporeal being, and then tried to rape her. While the po-po weren't too enthused by the allegations of Poke-sexual assault, the "victim's" friends nonetheless believes there is some crazy, Nintendo-related supernatural hokum going on at their residence. "She says there are too many Pokemon at her place and even the dog can sense them," a "friend" by the name of Ivan Makarov is quoted in one article. "She says the dog barks whenever she plays Pokemon Go." At the behest of her husband, the alleged Pokemon abuse survivor has agreed to see a psychiatrist. Unfortunately, those accusing the game of marginalizing African-Americans and making inner city poverty worse won't be participating in the same group counseling session. 

And a few headlines that speak for themselves...

Univision reporter sacked for saying Michelle Obama looks like cast member from Planet of the Apes

Mississippi cheerleader apprehended for trying to join ISIS

NYC man smokes crack, proceeds to get naked on subway

New anime Snapchat filter, unsurprisingly, accused of racism

Australian woman charged with filming sex tape with dog

CBS formally apologizes for being "too white"

Psychothearpist blames massive uptick in Sweden's rapes on ... warmer weather?

South African pastor charged with murder after congregant crushed to death in bizarre speaker ritual

After revealing damning information about Hillary Clinton, Time now considers WikiLeaks a greater threat to privacy then the NSA

Uganda vows to suppress gay pride activities, force homosexuals to partake of "rehabilitative" services

David Ortiz bobblehead shelved for being racially insensitive

67-year-old woman beats 63-year-old woman to death in Compton street fight