Kratzen
Proudly presents…

Five Months with Kratzen

with ♥ from Froge

Introduction

As Froge once again loses his grip on his website, he is dragged back into the fray of Blogging Hell in order to placate a hungry audience. Or at least he would, if any of them noticed he was gone as opposed to being a bunch of parasitic rats who only accept him as a commercial whore as opposed to anything of value. By the way, donate to my Patreon and make me five bucks!

I kid, I kid. I know — or rather, vainly hope — that you all care about me intimately, and are willing to go through the past two months of me not writing any real articles, or any real reviews, instead just dropping a few thousand words at the end of each month like I’m the tenant to a particularly generous landlord who is just as broke as I am but still wants to patronise the arts and so lets him write bad short stories and furry porn to earn his keep. I better not keep him waiting on the next instalment of “Voracious Inflatables”. Get Volume 8 in stores today!

Exclamation points aside, you all know I’ve been busy coming up with excuses as to why I couldn’t write for you in this great old magazine I got. The first and foremost would be that I’ve finally finished up my book — the Tao of Mario! It features twenty – three thousand words instead of the twenty – five thousand I originally promised on a Neocities comment, though given I’m releasing it for free, you have the right to shut. Yeah, I dropped all pretense of it being a commercial product. I had an epiphany one night that I would be a heck of a lot happier if I wasn’t expecting to make a profit, meaning I wouldn’t have to worry about how many people would read it, or associate in any way with Publishing Hell.

So it’s going to be free, supported only by some extraordinarily meagre donations which won’t be enough to pay for even an hour of the time I spent working on the book, but what can one do? Keep giving money to Google to pimp an unfinished product? Prostitute myself to YouTubers and Games Journalists in some vain effort? I could always hire a marketing company, but that’s damn expensive, and I don’t exactly have a $10,000 dollar idea here, let alone the fabled million – dollar one. I will always be jealous of How to Win Friends and Influence People for selling millions of copies by mail order, but what can you do? The bastard had a better title.

Actually it would be fun to test my marketing muscles and take out some print advertisements, for as long as people read magazines (and they do) they will always read advertisements, especially if they look like an editorial. I once flipped through an issue of Popular Science. One editorial had a short paragraph about a Swiss watch that withstood over 200 military – grade stress tests, including being run over by a tank, dropped 200 metres into the ocean, and surviving three thousand feet up a mountain. On the very next page, a competing brand had a full – page full – colour spread featuring an image of their watch on a black background… and nothing more. Guess which brand I was more interested in buying?

So if you do see an advertisement for Tao of Mario, and you’re too naïve to install uBlock Origin, just know it’s Yours Truly testing out his chops. Will it be a blatant shill? Will be it be a banner ad discussing all the virtues of [vague philosophical point only briefly touched on in original book]? Or will it just be me begging for some attention in this starved and deprecated ecosystem where attention means everything, consumers only watch the advertisements they want to watch, and any sort of commercialisation of a work is treated as a sin? Only time will tell…

Anyway, Tao of Mario is launching tomorrow. Keep an eye out for an announcement on Kratzen!

Today’s Opinions:

I would like to share with you some, but frankly it’s exhausting to do so. Last time I shared Opinions I ended up working all through the night, and barely making the last article in time to get it printed onto your dinner table, assuming you eat at your PC and get everything all grubby and groady, you monster. I enjoy very much looking back on what I’ve watched the last month, but I realise that recommending random movies and series will only be of value to those who already have a piece of mind to watch them. So to that end, let me make these opinions right quick in order of quality:

Mob Psycho 100: damn good! Unlike some other action anime, the fight scenes never feel forced or arbitrarily decided, get along at a steady clip, and don’t have characters interrupting each other for Exposition Time. All the characters actually feel like characters, even the one – off side characters, and I can honestly believe they could exist as humans, even the wild – ass ones. The whole of the series deals with several interesting themes like self – improvement, brotherly love, pacifism, and the pursuit of power, but never goes deep into them, leading to a lot of touching subjects but nothing too philisophical. It is also, unlike so many other anime, hilarious, with a dressed – down, purposefully sloppy, and constantly – creative art style that hits so many jokes and makes so many scenes that would just fall flat in a less inventive anime. Check out Digibro’s video for more, because this one’s a keeper.

Trainspotting: ist gut. For the cult status this movie has, it seems like all its status comes from it being in a pre – Internet era, where everything it depicts and the subjects it brings up had some legitimate novelty and unease. Nowadays, in the era of Dank Memes®, the degeneracy on display here is the default state of existence, as opposed to something that would have been shocking way back when. That’s actual degeneracy, as in heroin abuse, stealing porno, babies dying, robbing tourists, getting AIDS from needles, kitten abuse, glassing a fat bloke, and so on, all of which makes the facetious Degenerates degeneracy seem like a misnomer. Even so, there were many fascinating scenes, such as diving into The Worst Toilet in Scotland to get supposatories in a way that is both cringeworthy and gut – busting hilarious, and it does give you a lot to chew on, even if it doesn’t end up saying anything insightful beyond “drugs are bad”. Bonus points for the soundtrack actually being, you know, memorable; especially with that extended techno track with the baby crawling on the cieling. It’s little surrealist moments like that which makes filmmaking such a spectacle.

Casino Royale: ist gut auf eine andere Weise. I remember when this movie came out and everybody was pissing themselves over the spectacle of James Bond, the world’s most consistently profitable and high – quality movie draw, having blonde hair instead of black! Then the movie came out and everybody forgot about it, probably because of the dick – whipping scene on the brain. Look, if you like James Bond, you’ll like this film. It may have been revolutionary for its time when James Bond was all about gadgets instead of each movie being a lower – stakes Goldeneye, but nowadays I can’t think of anything this movie does all so uniquely, besides being yet another opportunity for easily – recognisable characters to strut their stuff all across the world. It has action, yes, but not much intrigue, and even though I wanted to see what happened at the end, I didn’t feel too invested in the plot, nor did I find the newest Bond Girl all that interesting. I was having a toss – up over whether to rate this higher than Trainspotting, because while Casino Royale definitely roused my emotions, it didn’t do so in as complex, interesting, or thought – provoking way as Trainspotting. Sure, James Bond is cool, we get that. But good art is even cooler, and Trainspotting is the better movie because of it.

Crumb: fascinating but boring. I like a good documentary, I have you know. Most of my reading is non – fiction, and there’s few greater revelations than understanding the way the world is, as opposed to what you would like it to be. And the artist Robert Crumb (the “Keep On Trucking” guy who also made that comic about furbait cats) sure opened my eyes to just how diverse, though banal, human being could be — assuming this movie isn’t part of some carefully crafted public persona, but the guy is too unappealing for me to assume bad faith. Everybody in the Crumb family seems borderline autistic, candid with their sexuality for instance, but whatever they talk about after the “Bugs Bunny turns me on” scene, I wouldn’t know. The documentary, as is the case of many bad documentaries, doesn’t say much at all, and just points a camera at a bunch of people who talk. I prefer my work to have a little opinion in it; a little character that I may attach myself to. People talking makes for ASMR material, but not a particularly interesting movie. Same for the movie Hoop Dreams, please no hate mate.

Hunter × Hunter (2011): couldn’t stand it. I watched the first one and a half episode, and found absolutely no indication this would be anything more than a generic shonen anime. For all the fans who tell me it gets good later, I would like to point out that while I have watched series with a good first episode that turned out to later to be a stinker (such as Kill la Kill, Haruhi Season 2), I have never found a series with a bad first episode that I later ended up liking. This particular first episode stars Optimistic Action Boy, Greedy Businessman, and Bitch, which is as far as I’m sure their characters go given the utter banality of everything they say. They have a Setup where Bitch and Businessman argue, work together to save Action Boy, and have a Heartwarming scene where they come to terms with each other’s differing personalities — blow me, please. Nothing anybody says during this time is insightful, interesting, or worth saying, and is nothing more than plot exposition devoid of any personality that cannot be written by any hack who waltzes into the office.

Allow me the luxury of another paragraph, for while The Internet (and Digibro, embarrassingly) assures me this is One Of The Greatest Anime Ever Made, there is nothing to indicate this ends up being the case. I’ve read that characterisation is a strong suit, which I’m calling as bull right now, given how every character is given a stock personality right at the get – go, and those who weren’t are given no personality at all. But I’m sure the show’s fans would like to convince me that Action Boy is actually a deep and troubled individual, with a lot of hidden facets that are only revealed over time… after watching Kino no Tabi, I ask you again to blow me. Given that Action Boy is a non – character when he is introduced, I don’t have any patience for him to suddenly become a character, given how he should have been one from the start. Same for the other protags, as well as the side characters who exist only to dump plot details.

Also, this is a nerdy typographic detail to harp on, but I cannot picture the Hunter Alphabet as anything more than a series of arbitrary disconnected symbols. There’s no cohesion or etymological weight to allow them the illusion of belonging to a real civilisation whose writing system evolved over centuries to create a modern – day alphabet. Compared to the well – endowed histories of real – world scripts such as Latin, Cryllic, and Gothic, where each letterform has an obvious distinct history that, although dignified individually, has evidence of their evolution alongside each other to form a cohesive sum, this is a slap in the face to anybody who has an interest in either typography or etymology. So congratulations, Hunter × Hunter. You made a typographer cry.

Fargo: just bad. I had absolutely nothing good to say about this movie during the first twenty minutes that I watched it, and given how little actually happens during that time, I wonder how I lasted even for that long. Every character is an asshole, and if they’re not an asshole they’re a pansy. The movie tries to be edgy by saying “fuck” a lot and it just comes across as desperate, especially when the thirteen – year – old boy says “fucking”, in what I’m sure would have been a shocking and controversial moment for the delicate sensibilities of… 1996. All the actors speak in this whinging, North Dakota accent, where I’m not sure if it’s a joke or the optimistic assumption that it wouldn’t make them all instantly unappealing. Nothing of importance happens, the directing style has this implacable “too smart for you” tone that takes me out of every scene, and the movie opens on a blatant lie that says the story happened in real life (spoilers: it didn’t). This is the second Coen brothers movie that I dispassionately hated, and I am now ready to assume that anybody who likes them is on the same level as Undertale and Homestuck fans.

I would like to talk about the video games I’ve played this month, but I get the feeling I’ll keep playing them all through this one, so I’ll hold off until Six Months with Kratzen. Also, special shout – outs to The Simpsons seasons four to seven, which is some of the best episodes of television I have ever seen. If you’ve only ever watched The Simpsons as a kid, or had to bear witness to the monster that is the later seasons, I suggest you take a second look, and learn to fall in love with it one more time. If you have seen The Simpsons recently, you don’t need an entire paragraph telling you why it’s good. Instead, have an entire Super Eyepatch Wolf video, which has probably already infested your YouTube recommendations, and I will say that it isn’t clickbait and is actually Quite Good.

Now for Internet Welfare

Wrapping up this late – night grind, I’ll just take that bit of Patreon foreshadowing and promptly unforeshadow it, by which I mean bring a light on it. Yes, yours truly has bit the bullet and finally got into an Internet donation scheme. In the first place, I got PayPal, so here’s hoping that hellishly inconsistent company doesn’t block my transactions for hellishly inconsistent reasons. In the second place, I already made some accounts, already flashed some cash around, and made a few donations to those artists who I think is more deserving of my money than I am, even if I know they’ll probably spend it all on something stupid (like coffee). Who said that?

So I am finally proud to announce the Degenerates Patreon, where there will be exclusive content and membership incentives to those who climb the tiers of — ahaha, got you, sucker. I actually got a personal Ko – fi account with nothing to do with Degenerates. If Froge has a page where nobody donates, it’s all part of the self – depreciating brand. But if the collective has a bum page, it just looks pathetic, as if it wasn’t popular enough to garner even pity support from its populace. Nobody must know this harsh truth! Also, it lets me post stupid things without having to be “professional” and misrepresenting all my members by making them think we’re all dumbasses. Guys, it’s just me who’s the dumbass here. Actually, it’s just me period. I haven’t invited anybody else to the collective, mainly because I can’t be arsed.

I don’t need to tell your dumb arse that you can donate three bucks at a time to my tip jar up there and down here, under the guise of buying the bitter and addictive swill that you call coffee. But I’m going to spend it all on something much more sinister… yes, I’m putting it in my savings account for a rainy day! Hahaha! Actually, it’ll probably be recycled and donated to even more talented artists (but not writers, because I am the only talented one). Hey, don’t blame me because socialism works. But listen, I do save half of all my income, so if you wanna see me live another month, make like a raid boss and drop some damn loot already.

Also, if you see this button, pop on by the page and be peer pressured into making questionable artistic investments:

Ko – fi donation button, saying “Buy Me a Coffee”.

That’s an order. Failure to follow direct orders will lead to summary execution.

Alas, I shouldn’t have to clarify this, but I’m not going to be an asshole who begs for donations every article, creates pop – up ads telling you to buy my new e – book, harasses you for having the gall to read a website, or do any stupid meme stuff that devalues everything I have ever done up to this point. It’s embarrassing that there are so many Internet bloggers desperate for attention that they will prostitute themselves for any opportunity they have to make a paltry sum of money with no moral compass whatsoever, and I am bound by honour and reputation to never abuse your attention for the sake of making a few red cents. If you don’t take the money, nobody can control you, and I refuse to become what I’ve spent my life thrashing against: a commercial whore.