5 Days To The Election – So Here Are 5 Times I Raged on Jedi: Fallen Order

There were a few times I raged on Jedi: Fallen Order. Here they are in no particular order. And yes, I am bad at parrying. (I enjoyed the game).

1. The entirety of Kashyyyk

2. The god damn GIANT SPIDERS.

3. Kashyyyk again (and anything gross & gooey).

4. The fucking battle arena map with all the monsters/spiders (fuck you) and the Boba Fett jackass. Designed by some kind of Star Wars – Saw character/sadist.

5. Seriously Fuck Kashyyyk.

Love you, Respawn Entertainment.

You can find me on Twitch raging, raging against the dying of my own stream. You can also find me on Twitter raging about literally everything.

The One Time I Tried To Be Alexandra Petri And Failed Miserably

Alexandra Petri is a humorist for the Washington Post, who writes articles that parody current reality or just out-right pokes at a current event in a funny, amusing way. I envy her. What a gig! It’s like if the Borowitz Report were actually funny. I’ve enjoyed her columns on the regular, and even went on to buy her funny and amusing book ‘A Field Guide To Awkard Silences‘. She’s written columns like the perspective of the fly that was on Mike Pence‘s head to people who feign about how they’re being forced to vote for Donald Trump to the dangers of weaponized soup. She’s a walking Onion article dispenser at the ready. I once made the mistake of trying to emulate her.

I’ve tried about a few times – as a writing exercise, to write humor and parody columns. I thought I could do it! I’m from Chicago (suburbs)! I read The Onion regularly on my train rides to Second City (I never made it past level A)! I watched Conan growing up! It turns out I was wrong. I could not hip flex with invisible strings and will humorist columns into existence. And not only was I wrong I was also horrifically under-motivated to do so.

I set up a Patreon account! I bought a website (this very one in fact)! I emailed people! I made a Facebook post! I was ready to go. I was ready to put keys to the screen, pedal to the medal, and whatever allegorical hutzpah and go all out. Nothing came out.

And when I say nothing came out, I mean literally nothing. I wrote a few other articles that weren’t parody, but that was it. It was bad. I said I would get to it next week. Then the next week came and went. And nothing. The dread began to set in. What the hell was I doing. I have ideas! I had thoughts, ideas, and would even jot a note down in my phone that made me chuckle. And still, nothing produced. It was like watching J.D. in Scrubs laugh/daydream at thoughts in his own head that no one else heard.

I even embarrassingly emailed my hometown newspaper, thinking maybe after they wrote an article about me because I had put out my debut feature film ‘Lost Signals‘ that they would give me the time of the day maybe one a week to let me write a column. They of course, rightly, did not answer my email. I got really bummed. What the hell was wrong with me?

The answer in fact, was really simple. I am not Alexandra Petri. I am not a humorist columnist who can do this weekly. I can write a comedic script, I can write a column with a funny anecdote or a one-off joke and poke fun at myself relentlessly, but I am not an Alexandra Petri. I cannot write a column about ‘Person, Woman, Man, Camera, TV‘ the way she can. I can not write an entire chapter about going to a pun contest like she did in her first book.

It turns out the more I read, and the more I consumed content on websites like the website formerly known and forever blacklisted in my heart Deadspin (subscribe to Defector), GQ, and SFGate that my bullshit column wanna-be writing style nonsense is much closer to Drew Magary – if a drunk penguin spinning in an office chair wrote it.

You might have an idea or two here or there but you necessarily don’t have to follow through on every idea, not all of them succeed. But it’s also OK to fail! I learned a miserable lesson there. And it’s also not to say that I can’t write a one-off parody column here or there, but I just know that that is something I can’t do on the regular.

My writing is of course, ever-evolving. It may always be that way. But I’m happy to know one thing that I’m not, and it’s great to watch the people that can be the way that they are continue to do so with gusto! It’s great to watch a Lebron James be a LeBron James, or an Alexandra Petri write things no human can write! It’s great to read Drew Magary say all 32 NFL teams suck!

Perhaps one day I’ll figure it all out and we’ll be truly in peak Coleman writing territory, but that won’t be for me to say. And I’m OK with that, just like I’m OK not being something I’m not.

In the mean time, let me load up this entire post as a series of tweets that will bork out halfway through because I’m a boomer who doesn’t know how to use technology. And if you’re not interested in that, then perhaps just follow @petridishes on Twitter.

You can follow me on Twitter here and watch me play video games mediocrely on Twitch.

AOC’s ‘Among Us’ Stream Was A God-Damn Delight

There’s not a lot of joyful, unabashed good times out in the world right now. The closest thing I’ve truly gotten to just disappearing into and away from the world is ESPN’s ‘The Last Dance’, the 10-part docuseries on Michael Jordan’s time with the Chicago Bulls that lead to 6 championships. The Last Dance was pure nostalgia, a shot in the arm of when things were at the peak of entertainment, and notably for me, as a Chicago fan and ex-patriot.

I’ve seen a few posts here and there that serve as reminders that we shouldn’t revere our politicians too much because they’re human, and can fuck up and do bad things, which is true, but since we’re capturing a moment in time here during a fucking pandemic with what little joy there is to have in here, I’m making an exception.

On October 20th (what one may call a Tuesday), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fired up a Twitch stream for the first time ever in a fit of joy to encourage people to register to vote or make sure they were already registered, and let me tell you folks, it was one of the best times I’ve had in a long time.

I hate to pull the ‘I’m a streamer’ card but as a streamer *Holds for massive-eye rolls and applause* not only was AOC doing all the RIGHT GOD DAMN THINGS, she was doing them very well. She hid her ‘Among Us’ code, which was smart because she was playing with incredibly high profile Twitch streamers like Hasan, Moist, and Pokimane. Secondly, she did push-to-talk! As one Twitter user put it….

Use your push-to-talk, assholes! AOC out here making you dumbfucks look… fucking dumb!

Now, I didn’t tune in for 100% of the stream, I cut off the beginning because it was a lot of setup, but of the actual gameplay up until the ending, I was actually surprised by the lack of politics that was in the stream. There were interstitials here and there, telling people to register to vote, to make a voting plan as that makes them more likely to actually vote, with maybe a zinger or two at Mike Pence about who can call her ‘AOC’. But AOC came to play.

Most notably what was fun about this was the pure innocence about what it was like to play a game for the first time ever, with a large group of people that were not bent on cursing her out if she happened to not complete her tasks or just kind of lollygagged around the map. There was no animus to any of this.

She started out hoping that she wouldn’t be an impostor on the first round, and then immediately was made an impostor within seconds of that wish. Oops! And also she self-reported, and somehow got away with it.

As an impostor, she also killed notable streamer ‘Pokimane‘. She was reticent to do it at first, with a, “I can’t kill Poki, Poki’s so nice!” before driving a knife into Pokimane’s back in Security. A lot of people have already made the comparisons that this is what it’s like to be in Congress, and it’s true! So why not play the game!

The other fun thing to watch unfold was her counterpart, Ilhan Omar, who secretly was really good at playing the Impostor role, and was also running a STUPIDLY stacked PC. As a rule now all politicians must disclose what kind of disgusting hardware they’re running because it puts a lot of our own machines to shame. Jesus….

I had an observation minutes into this, because I wanted to be weary at first at just enjoying what AOC already does, because obviously this could have implications for how much Congress becomes a part of the platform.

There’s gonna be a swath of people that come out and decry politicians for being an increasing part of the platform but the truth is they’re already here. Most accounts are now on EVERY platform imaginable to get the word out to vote or to find a place to make their case for their causes. AOC just happens to be really GOOD at it.

Ocasio-Cortez also SMASHED records, making her stream the third most viewed stream of all time. While she was getting jump scared by an O2 alarm, she peaked at 439k viewers behind the liked of Ninja and Shroud’s return to Twitch.

It felt like a cultural shift. You could see it in the tweets. EVERYONE was tweeting about it, from journalists I follow, to normal Twitch users, to people not on Twitch, and also… former GOP and now politically homeless Justin Amash?

Even Chris Murphy, who – next to Brian Schatz on the Democratic side, is also extremely online, wanted in.

It’s truly bizarre to watch one game that came out two years ago, not only surge, but surge so much our politicians are now playing it and with gusto! But now they have another way of connecting with constituents. For anyone who wants them to purely legislate and stay offline, you’re in for a rack of trouble here.

AOC has an immense well of power here. And if by having a good time playing Among Us helps get out the vote, by all-fucking-means, DO IT! AOC not only picked up the game fairly quickly, but also created hilarious moments like panicking trying to call a meeting, walking mere inches by the button in the center of the cafeteria, and came so close! She got by! She had FUN. I had FUN.

It’s of course good to be weary of your politicians, no one is infallible or perfect, AOC’s voting record is subject to scrutiny but she’s also allowed to participate in some of the other things out here in society, but there’s no doubt in one of our lowest points of this generation we were able to find something to come around on together.

It’s clear how much of an influence this was. And of course Twitch will run with this. It was a hit! There’s no telling just yet if in time before Sen. Patrick Leahy is playing War Zone or Tim Scott is playing Jedi: Fallen Order to get out the vote. Not all will do it will, some will fail miserably, but undoubtedly the younger generations will want to jump on opportunities like this, especially if they’re charismatic.

I felt a lot of my stress, my anger, and a lot of problems kind of melt away during her three hours of streaming. It was nice to just enjoy a moment for once. Of course those problems won’t disappear, and will need work, but it was nice to let off on the gas for once.

But AOC managed to hit the right buttons here. She of course got her point across, and talked about a few major issues, but kept it to the sides of the gameplay, she had fun, and she was great at it! Now someone just has to explain to Nancy Pelosi what the fuck just happened.

I too stream video games but who’s counting? Or you can just follow me on Twitter.

And Then There Were None

Late last night I had the thought about calling my father, but seeing the time, I decided to wait until the next morning. I hadn’t spoken to him in awhile. We don’t chat often but when we do the conversations last at least twenty to thirty minutes. I was going to see how things were holding up because my grandmother just weeks earlier had been placed in hospice. I knew the end was coming, but these things have no rhyme or reason as to when they end. They just … end. She died this morning. The last of my grandparents have faded away.

She was in her 90’s. She lived a long, full life, and now the end had come. I didn’t get to say goodbye. As the descent was coming, she become less communicative, unable to operate things with her hands, and spoke less. She had lived in a home, and trying to call her was unfortunately a no-go.

When my grandfather died, we thought things for her would decline quick, they were one of those old-time couples who did everything together, my grandfather waited on her, hand and foot. But she held on, for a half-decade, it wasn’t her time yet. But after my grandfather died she was placed in a home, she was immobile, and needed care we couldn’t give her.

She was a good person, and every visit with Grandma Ranahan was always a good one. Dinner, coffee, conversation, television, laughs. I’ll remember those visits with fondness. I didn’t get to know my mother’s side of my grandparents that well, so much of my memories of familial authority come from my father’s side.

When the pandemic hit, I thought of her often. “Please for the love of fuck don’t let it be COVID that ends it…” I thought. The restrictions on nursing homes made it difficult for family to see her. The months since, she had few visits. Her decline accelerated, by what I can only imagine, was a combination of her old age, and the lack of familial sights. She did not die of coronavirus, but the looming specter of it all accelerated and exacerbated the situation.

I’ve stared at the same four, white, close walls for the last several months. I’ve seen coworkers once. I ran into a friend at the grocery store. But largely my interactions have all been online. My grandmother had next to none of that, sadly. My grandmother had her time, but I can’t help but think of the few more months she could have had if we hadn’t fucked this entire virus response up. It makes me angry. She deserved better, she deserved to see more than four white walls and the nurses and orderlies who kept the facility running. I understand why she was in the situation she was in, there was no avoiding it, but she still deserved better. My father and aunts and uncles had one last chance to see her, luckily for them. And I’m at least grateful they had their shot.

She was my last living grandparent. In the latter half of the 2010’s they slowly fell one by one, each marked with a return flight home, reminiscence, and family. This year that’s not happening, at least for me. There won’t be a flight, no camaraderie with cousins, aunts, uncles, there won’t be any Catholic services for me to attend (even though I’m non-religious) because my family was largely Irish-Italian-Polish Catholic. There won’t be a dinner, coffee, or conversations. I’ll only get to imagine it.

COVID, and the lack of response to it, has left some of us on opposite coasts, with little recourse, or motivation to chance the trip with no time for quarantine before service. I don’t trust my own body to not betray me, and with a father who has lung issues, I’m unfortunately not returning. I won’t be a swinging scythe to drop on the family .

She didn’t die of COVID, but I won’t get a chance to grieve in person. The last of the grandparents, the last familial titan, is now gone. Considering how much worse other families in the US have had it with this wretched wraith of a virus, I suppose I should count my lucky stars it wasn’t worse. I hope my cat doesn’t mind me babbling to her about the good times that were had, about how my grandmother’s sense of humor sharpened with time, and more.

There’s something strange about the door closing on a generation of family, I can’t exactly put into words right now exactly what that is, I can only meet it with ponderance and silence, and maybe some alcohol too.

My grandfather died from cancer, my grandmother died in seclusion, I take solace in the fact that any suffering is now alleviated. Part of me is also is saddened that this is the way it is, but so it goes…

When this is all over, when we can finally be around each other without worrying that the air we breathe is also trying to kill us, our family will be able to have that dinner, that coffee, and that conversation. There will just be one less chair occupying the table.

LaVerne Ranahan, you will be missed. We love you.

The West Wing Confession

No doubt one of the bigger shows of its time during the Thomas Schlamme (West Wing – 3rd Watch) reign of television was The West Wing. The walk-and-talk infused drama about politics is unlike any political drama I’ve ever seen. It’s infused with large swaths of American history, makes large & boisterous love letters to liberalism, and of course features characters attempting to be morale and just. It is of course, also dated, and somewhat of its time.

A large group of my friends, who are yes, liberal, have used it as a comforting pillow in the times of the 45th President of the United States. I, as much as I am attempting to be a progressive in the modern era, have a bit of a confession, that I have largely attempted to stay away from the enthralling monologues and quirky humor that took place in the fictional universe of the Jed Bartlett administration.

It’s not that I’m chastising my friends and fellow liberals for wanting an escape from the pure hellfire trash circus that is the current administration, I did end up watching part of the first season afterall; but that the ideology and grand nature of it all was too much for the reality set in hard stone that was being bashed into our skulls by Republicans vying for one last gasp of pure power before many of the old geezers bite it all.

Before the 2016 election I sought out to watch the show again. I didn’t make it past the first season. Then a few weeks ago in my bout of stress-induced insomnia I started watching the first season again and made it seven episodes before turning it off. It felt like a false sense of security, that goodness and inherit justness would somehow prevail. That somehow one of us would go on a long rambling monologue would save us all felt hollow. The writing is good, and I still love the show, but fuck me.

One of my favorite movies of the last decade is the hardened drug drama SICARIO. It’s a brutal, unforgiving look at the drug cartels and the relentless, pointless drug war that has gone nowhere for decades. In the film, we expect the main character, played by Emily Blunt, to be the hero. But she’s a distraction. Much like the core principles of Josh Brolin’s character, she’s a vessel to insert Benicio Del Toro into the mix to create chaos and to allow the CIA to piggyback a domestic operation. The scene where Del Toro forces the idealogical Blunt to sign a statement under duress before he casually slips into the ether to me is what the current administration feels like. Jóhann Jóhannsson’s low-rumbling, anxiety inducing, seat-gripping – backdrop of a score, keeps us on edge the entire time.

Maybe I’ll finally be able to watch this show again when the current administration is dust on a book jacket, or when the minority rule isn’t a death grip on the entire nation and we’re all able to breath again without wincing at the smallest backfire of a car.

Maybe one day I’ll finally just be able to escape into the show and just watch it for what it is without having to think about how it compares to the cartoonish Boss Tweed level of bullshit we’re dealing with.

It’s only a television show, but the television show shaped a large part of my upbringing when I only had access to four broadcast channels out in the sticks of Illinois, I’d like to return to it one day.

I’ve tried to use it as a soft pillow twice in this administration, but lo and behold it doesn’t do much to sooth the PTSD induced by an invisible puppeteer tightening the strings on our windpipe, which really seems to gel with the overall fact that I don’t sleep much anyway.

You can find Coleman on Twitter, not sleeping and doomscrolling, and on Twitch.