Sunday, August 9, 2020

Guimo Revelations: The Billiken Connection


So several night's ago I had a very vivid dream about what seemed to be a sort of personal revelation of my higher-self, which is of course Billykin. This character acts as my personal avatar, higher-self, astral form, guardian angel, and is to me 

I'm fairly certain that this image of Billykin and Billy-Can't comes from a novelty postcard, which I am currently hunting for. I found this image while researching on the various kinds of Billiken novelties that were available and the smile and pose of Billykin really stuck with me so much so that I chose him as my avatar for any and all online forums and social media outlets that I use. I adopted him as a personal mascot. I love this image of him happily taking a dump in a chamber pot  while he smiles at Billy-Cant't who is struggling. These two are definitely aspects of my inner life and reflect two of my major moods; happiness and distress. 


"Billykin", my chosen avatar, is a parody of "Billiken", a novelty toy god created in the early 1900's. It's origins are fairly complex but basically Billiken was a very popular novelty statue and doll. I first learned about Billiken through The Church of Good Luck, which has a phenomenal amount of information on the entire history of the character and it's creator. It's a wonderful archive and I believe if you're interested in this sort of obscure pseudo-religious good luck novelty (like I am) you should check them out. The Church of Good Luck isn't rebellious religion of mockery, like The Church of the SubGenius is, and it does take itself somewhat seriously. 





The creator of Billiken was a follower of New Age thought and believed she was a Japanese woman in a previous life, which is amazing because in Japan Billiken is still quite popular in Osaka and there are many statues and novelties dedicated to him. And believe me, if there's any place in the world I'd love to move to forever, it'd be Osaka. It's a beautiful place and I do love Japan with all of my heart. 


To be honest, Billiken has been following me for years. I've had many dreams about the character and I do feel like there's something it's trying to teach me. Billiken's title is "the God of Things As They Ought to be", which means he's the god of dreams, but also good luck and fortune. I live in my dreams. This so-called reality we wander around in is without question some sort of prison of our own collective making, but in our dreams we can fly free. Billiken is the anthropomorphization of that dream reality for me. 
So dedicated am I to this strange god I even carry a pocket piece of him everywhere I go. This lucky coin is from the era from when Billiken was at the height of his popularity and I managed to snag it at a fairly decent price. I don't actually put much faith into trinkets like these, but I do enjoy them and their kitsch quality. 

It's a weird road I traveled to discovery Billiken, and eventually that my cosmic soul was Billykin in nature. I studied with Unarius, then discovered the SubGenius, then Discordianism, which led me down a strange, strange rabbit hole of researching other deities. All of this really helped me get a handle on my own life and learn things about myself that I was too afraid to confront. We all carry baggage, and these sorts of studies and mind exercises help relieve some of that burden. 

So, in any case, about that dream I had a few days ago. It's been stuck in my mind for days so I thought I'd share it here. 

GUIMO DESTROYS AND CREATES THE WORLD AND ALL THINGS THEREIN BY TOTAL ACCIDENT BUT ALSO ON PURPOSE


In some hire realm, I was some sort of  flying, fat cherub angel baby. I was my Billykin avatar, but with tiny wings. I guess this place I was in was supposed to be heaven, or some facsimile thereof. I was eating a banana and I tossed the peel over my shoulder. And even though I was flying, I slipped out of the banana peel and fell out of heaven. 

My crash landing on the earth was what killed all the dinosaurs, save for a few that survived. The crash also helped create the very first cryptids and monsters that still wander the earth to this very day. I also lost my wings and I couldn't flutter around anymore. Dang.

While trying to repair the earth I somehow created of automaton robot super droids to build the continents. The impact of my landing nearly flattened the whole planet so there was a lot of work to do.

When the world was reconstructed, and the leftover dinosaurs, monsters, and cryptids were safely tucked away in their own natural habitats, it was time to introduce this new world to some human beings. This, of course, was my greatest folly. 

Humans were created using fish, specifically the great fur-bearing trout, and letting them soak in Mutan Generating Ooze (Mutagen). 

The end result of all of these is what you see before you now. All the cryptids are in hiding, some dinos still wander around, and the monsters are nowhere to be found. Humans, of course, make things worse for others. But that's too broad of a generalization and I refuse to take it to heart. 

And this was a dream of course. Just something for me to think about as it also reflects something within myself. It's not some sort of hidden cosmic truth. 

Or is it?!


Sunday, July 26, 2020

EVUL TWINZ only on TROMA NOW!



It's difficult to keep up with the media landscape these days. With the world ending, a lot of movies that we were all looking forward to have been pushed back almost indefinitely. On the other hand, so many reviewers, YouTubers, and nostalgia wankers keep watching and re-watching the same handful of films ad nauseam. We can't have new cult classics if we keep worshiping the old classics forever; we need to look to the future and see what new creative minds are cooking up for us to consume. And that's why you need TROMA NOW!

It's my favorite streaming service. It does have all of the classic Troma movies that are essential for living, but there are new ones too; plus shorts, music videos, documentaries, classic films from the Roan archive, comics, and movies from up and coming new creators. 

In all honesty I wanted to bring this up because of the amazing movie, EVUL TWINZ. I cannot put into words how much I truly enjoy this movie. It's vulgar, disgusting, vile, irredeemable, but also somehow loving, charming, and just filled to bursting with personality. 


Sadly, there's no trailer I can share; EVUL TWINZ just suddenly appeared on Troma Now one day and the world was never the same. Like a meteor falling to the earth, EVUL TWINZ has left a huge impact; at least with me, I think it's great. 

The only synopsis I can give that doesn't spoil the whole story is Jack and Larry, the titular twins, are off their meds and are now hungry cannibals. That's it. That's the whole plot. 

I'm not sure if there will ever be a sequel. I hope so, but there's some stuff after the credits that indicate that there won't be. Mercedes the Muse, the director, did a great job with this movie and my fanboy dream would be for Jack and Larry to appear in the background of all her future films. 

So yeah, get Troma Now, watch amazingly strange and unique films, support living artists and new creators, and if that doesn't sound interesting to you then also consider that Troma Now has the complete Toxic Crusaders cartoon show and Toxic Crusader comics! 


Saturday, July 25, 2020

Screaming and cursing at old video games

© Irate Gamer & AVGN 

So the Irate Gamer, Chris Bores, is making videos again. I think that's pretty great actually. I miss the era of angry, cartoony reviewers spouting out random curse words at old video games. There used to be a bunch but that trend has slowly slipped away and it's a bit of a bummer if you ask me. Cinemassacre's Angry Video Game Nerd (AVGN), James Rolfe, has never stopped making content for his channel but he has expanded on the types of media he reviews. He even made a fun movie for his fans a few years ago. 

 
These reviewers are to my generation what horror hosts were to older generations. Oh, horror hosts are still around, James Rolfe (AVGN) definitely counts as one if you ask me, but the angry video game reviewer, or, video game reviewers in general are a by-product of video gaming culture. It's funny how it's the same sort of premise too; horror hosts and angry video game reviewers could showcase nothing but "good" movies or video games for their show, but I guess it's more fun to talk about the so-called "bad" movies or video games. I bet there are cultural and psychological reasons for that but I'm not one to comment on that sort of thing. 

Currently, Mister Lobo of Cinema Insomnia and OSI74 do an amazing job and carrying on the classic horror host tradition, but there's also Mummy and the Monkey, Arachna of the Spider People from Beware Theater, and the newest host on the block, Igorro! They're all amazing and you should definitely check them out. 


In his newest video, second to the newest season, Chris Bores and James Rolfe team-up so that the Irate Gamer can get through reviewing Dick Tracy for the NES. It's a fun video, even if AVGN already reviewed that game like a decade ago. There are lots of references to old AVGN episodes, old Irate Gamer episodes, some simple homages to reviewers from the past, and even some shade tossed at Channel Awesome for good measure. Chris, as the Irate Gamer, is absolutely energetic in this and you can tell he's giving it his all. James, as AVGN, is a bit more subdued than usual but you can tell he's enjoying his extended cameo in the episode. I hope they work together again sometime soon. 


There were a bunch of shows on TV when I was a kid that had the roots of all this stuff; Nick Arcade for example, or Video Power with Johnny Arcade. There were a bunch more but my memory is pretty hazy. The hosts in these old shows were presented as like masters of the games, and they'd share their expertise and tips with the kids watching.


It was always said that Irate Gamer definitely took inspiration from AVGN, and that's pretty apparent when you watch his older videos, but I never saw that as a bad thing. Everyone takes inspiration from something they enjoy and it's fun to recreate it or to emulate it in your own way. The Irate Gamer and AVGN shows are prettty different, even if the through-plot is "let's scream and cruse at old frustrating video games".

Actually, I purchased the first three seasons of The Irate Gamer on DVD from the Irate Store on Etsy. I really didn't think I would enjoy it as much as I did. It's definitely a show from the early days of YouTube; no lavish sets or lighting, charming special effects that remind me of old public access shows that I enjoyed, and there's an odd but easily accessible theology to Irate Gamer that's pretty fun. There are evil twins, monsters, skeletons, and all kinds of fun nonsense. By their nature, shows like this are silly and any attempt to take them too seriously is the wrong way to enjoy them. It's a good time, not a super serious critique. 


If you're wondering about the Irate Gamer DVD; it's good. All the old, classic episodes are there. There is some bonus content (bloopers, trailers, etc.), and if you appreciate this genre it's definitely worth it. My favorite episode is the one where Irate Gamer reviews all the E.T. games and hates them, but is far too nostalgic for the movie to destroy them.  It's pretty funny. 

It is pretty fun to poke fun at this genre though. In reality, both Irate Gamer and AVGN are more showcases of reactions with a sprinkling of a review during any given episode. I guess video game fans wanted more serious reviews from critics, and that's how the cable channel G4 came to be back in the early 2000's; there was a clear market for video gaming reviews as a cultural touchstone and since video games were sort of transcending the "game" aspect and leaning more into a "serious medium" for storytelling, video game fans just wanted to be taken more seriously, so we got stuff like XPlay and Attack of the Show


I mean that's just a thought, I don't really know. I grew up with a show called The Anti-Gravity room on Sci-Fi channel, and I feel like the programming on G4 was the next inevitable evolution of that same overall concept. Admittedly, Anti-Gravity was more general nerd sub-cultural stuff (of it's day of course, now it's all more mainstream) so the focus wasn't entirely on video games.


Again it's all in good fun, and I don't like poking fun at the work anyone does for their videos. I feel like it's needlessly mean; but it did give us the greatest episode of Game Grumps ever. 


I genuinely watch this video whenever I need a good laugh and it's always, ALWAYS funny. Apparently they're making fun of both Irate Gamer but more a guy who called himself The Game Dude, or Gamedude8899. He was another reviewer inspired by the AVGN method of screaming and cursing at old video games. 

Regrettably, Game Dude is a bit more infamous because of the choices he made in his personal life. His reviews are mostly fine I suppose, but they never reached the quality I think he wanted. I'm not sure how I can say that, but I watched a few episodes recently and there's something missing that I can't really put my finger on. 

A number of Game Dude's reviews have been saved and archived by the YouTube account, GameDude8899, and if nothing else they're worth checking out as a curiosity of their time period.


 The Game Dude theme song is a real ear-worm too, so be wary. I find myself humming it at times and I'm not sure how to feel about that. 


So yeah, I'm not much of a gamer. I enjoy fighting games, and when I was younger I'd play some platform games. I do have a Steam account so I've been trying to get back into it but I don't think I really have the patience for video games like I used to. Like, I don't think I can dedicate 10 hours or more of my life to any game like I used to when I was a kid. These days, I can play for about an hour at a time.

I don't even have any consoles anymore, besides this portable Atari throwback device that I play every once in a while. It has BOTH Yars Revenge games on it! BOTH!! It's basically everything I ever wanted from a portable console. 


Maybe I should start a show called The Modestly Content Average Gamer™ (MCAG) where I play a game for a little while, get bored, check my smartphone, then take a nap. It'll be a cult sensation for sure!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Trip to the Philippines, Part 2: Mascots, Wang Od, Sagada, and Palawan

So before the pandemic happened, I had originally wanted to update this blog with a series of posts with pictures from my trip to the Philippines. Since the End Times drew near, I decided to spend my time gathering supplies and buying action figures before the world really ended. Since that hasn't occurred yet, and won't occur until July 5th, I thought now would be a good chance to just catch up with my plan. I felt kind of burdened by this so I'm just glad to get it out of the way so I can return to posting nonsense and bulldada. Expect the third installment in a few days at least. 

The Philippines was once again an exhilarating experience. For a tubby couch potato like me, this trip was a total adventure. I did all the things I hated  to do and I conquered them. It's difficult for me to gauge how much I really traveled while I was there, but I can say with some certainty that I saw most of the Philippines. I recall taking like 5 or 6 short flights while there, sailing a bunch, going up mountains, driving for long hours, and climbing into caves. This was far more than was originally planned, and I was nervous half the time but it was all worth it. 

Oh and a volcano erupted while I was there, so that was definitely something new for me. I was kind of near the volcano when it happened too but just missed the actual eruption by like an hour or two. There was a healthy coat of ash everywhere the following day and I had meant to gather some up as a souvenir but I forgot. 

Anyway... 

Before anything else, I just wanted to share some snack food mascots I saw. I thought they were pretty amusing. Some were just off-model versions of famous cartoon characters, while some were their own crazy creations. 

Here's a Sweet Corn "Minon"


A Cracker Nuts "Dale" sporting a squirrel's tail


A Corn Bits cousin version of "Twinkie the Kid"


And I don't know what this guy is but he's my favorite. Some sort of Pseudo-anime character with giant hair on a futuristic motorcycle, wielding an icicle pop! In my mind, WindRider is the king of bonkers Filipino mascots! Just look at all those powerful muscles!!!


So yeah, I ate a ton of snacks while there, but that's to be expected. Especially on the long drives. The longest drive we had while I was there was the near 12 hour drive to the top of a mountain where we still had to hike like 40 minutes to reach the famous tattoo artist, Wang Od. This was a big deal because not only is she a legend, but she's still active at 104 years old. She's tough too, acting much younger than her age and showing a spirit that is almost supernatural. The plan was to go meet her and get some ink done. 


Okay so, it was a long drive and although the countryside was beautiful, we mainly drove overnight so there wasn't much for me to photograph while we were on the road. We did make a pit stop in Banaue, and we got some food not far from there. 


Breakfast was some rice, a fried egg, and some pork... stuff. I don't rememeber what it was called but it was delicious and I could have eaten like five more plates of it. 


Below are just some of the wondrous views of this place. I can't even begin to describe how it all felt. Philippines is a humid place, so there was this cool rainy smell as the sun rose up for the day. We got here right before 6AM and it was definitely worth the drive. 






These statues were located at the very edge of a platform near the edge of the mountain where the little eatery where we had breakfast was located.I'm uncertain of their significance, but they were beautiful and almost as tall as I am.


Sometime after that, maybe an hour or so, we made it to the top of the mountain where we had to climb down into a valley then climb back up to the other side to meet Wang Od. I'm not exactly in the best shape for this sort of thing so I made sure to be extra careful. The climb was very muddy and slippery; so much so that even our guide slipped and fell! It's not exactly and expert climb or anything like that, but I took it seriously and by the end of it I was a total sweaty mess. I had to take off my Creepshow hoodie and stuff it in my bag. 



The tattoos given by Wang Od and her pupils are done in the traditional way. They're essentially chisled into the skin. It isn't very painful at all, but that depends on you as a person I suspect. Wang Od had some trouble with giving me my tattoo, saying I had skin like an "ox-cow" or something like that. She actually got winded half way through and needed a rest. I felt bad making her work so hard so we made sure to pay double; which was about $40 in total. 

There were different designs based on Wang Od's culture, but I was surprised to see the Christian faith-hope symbol there. I suppose since the Philippines is a predominantly Catholic/Christian country it makes sense. 


There was also this hut where folks left their cards and I.D.'s , so I decided to leave my Discordian GOD card. I have plenty of them so I felt like this was a worthy place to leave it for all to see.




We had lunch while waiting our turn for my tattoo. The view is pretty amazing there. The road we drove on just resembled a bit of thread. I didn't feel like we were that far away; the hike back was only 10 minutes and was way easier than the hike up to see Wang Od. 


My tattoo is the "snake with eagle wings bringing messages from the heavens" I believe. The three dots are Wang Od's signature. I know thousands of people have probably gotten a tattoo from her, but this feels special. Like I'm a part of her legacy as an artist, and that's pretty rad. 


This is the tool she used to chisel my tattoo. Beneath the cap there's a small thorn of some sort. 


After we were done getting tattoos, we drove immediately to Sagada which might be my favorite place in the Philippines because they have a cool atmosphere and low humidity! It was glorious!!


Our main objective here was to see the famous hanging coffins, which was how they used to bury their dead before Christian missionaries ruined their traditional culture.


I really love this place, but foreigners aren't allowed to purchase homes here; if they marry someone native to Sagada though it's allowed. There is a population of retired American soldiers who now reside here and run pubs and restaurants.

But come on, look at this view and just try and breath in that fresh mountain air. It's real easy to fall in love with Sagada. 


Our tour guide explained to us that people were hung in coffins by the side of the mountain so their spirits could have better access to the forest and mountainside. Being buried underground was seen as strange because it stifles the spirit and they can't freely explore the world. I think this is beautiful actually and I would love it if this was my final resting place. 


There were some human remains in a cave nearby; an old coffin had rotted open and some bones fell out of it. Our guide had mentioned that during the carrying of the coffin that if any fluids, like blood or whatever dripped on you it was considered good luck. I wonder if that applied to bones as well. 

There was a weird flow to this area. Knowing that this particular style of burial had fell out of favor for a more traditional Christian burial bummed me out, but it also made seeing this all the more special. I believe our guide mentioned that there is still the occasional hanging-burial (if you could call it that) but I can't remember.


This is Sagada Bear and he's my best friend. He was my reward for surviving my first ever cave tour. I went spelunking and it was pretty terrifying. There are no real pictures to show from inside the cave since we were too busy climbing and trying to survive to take any. Plus the bats wouldn't have enjoyed the flash photography. But let me just say that cave climbing is fucking crazy and I hate it, but I'm glad I had the experience to know that I hate it! Still, I couldn't probably be talked into doing it again. 


This is the only picture of me in the cave. I believe we were something like 5 or 6 stories underground. What's crazy is I even managed to fit in all the tight corners of the cave. It took a lot of effort but I managed to do it. I say if you've never done it before, do it once and see how you like it. I have some fond memories from this trip, and this sure as heck ain't one of them; but at least I can brag about it now!

And besides, the locals says if you haven't gone cave climbing then you haven't been to Sagada at all, so I guess I passed that test!



So after Sagada we did a bunch of stuff. We went sand-duning, we saw an old lighthouse, got lunch near a wishing tree, etc., but this place was beautiful. I'm a former Catholic so I still have a bit of love for old churches and basilicas. This is a 300 year old church in some town I can't remember. 

I'm a sucker for old architecture, and I loved the look of this place. Being an ordained reverend, I took it upon myself to inspect the joint and let me tell ya it's a real swanky place. 




After all that adventuring though, we needed some quick grub so we swung by a McDonald's for some quick garbage food! A little taste of home while we were in the middle of the Philippines did me some good. 

I was real surprised to learn there was an official secret menu! No McGangBang listed, but there was other stuff there. The Double Big Mac was listed here before it appeared officially in the US, so that's something, right? Or maybe it isn't anything. I dunno man, I just wanted a cheap burger. 



The Rich Chocolate Pie was a bit too rich for my taste, but it was something new to try. I remember when I was in Japan I had the McDonald's Cherry Pie was was more my taste. But nothing will replace the Apple Pie in my heart. 



 Like later that day, because we were driving for like another 10 hours back to the airport so we could catch a flight, we had dinner in a small Japanese-Italian place in Palawan. They had  picture of Wang Od on the wall so we knew this place was legit. 


I ordered this monstrous burger because I could. I haven't nothing else to say really. It was just a massive goddamn burger and I ate the whole thing. It was delicious. 


Mmmmmmmm


In Palawan we did a lot of sailing and island hopping.It was pretty relaxing, but the boat we were on did break down for a bit so we got worried. If I'm not mistaken we even went to the real "Blue Lagoon" so that was somewhat exciting. 






The canoeing was a first for me.  Because of my size the damn thing tipped over and so we had to have three people on the canoe with me to maintain some sort of balance! It was worth it though. I think this may have been my favorite part of this portion of my trip. We even saw some baby sharks swim past our little canoe. 


Next time: Guimo battles a volcano!