The Story on the Flat Track

One of the beautiful things about watching sports is when you get to see beautiful moments play out in front of your eyes. I’m not just talking about a play that might never be matched, although those moments carry a certain level of joy. No, instead I am talking about those moments when a story unfolds in such a truly perfect way that you would be told it was unbelievable if you incorporated it into a piece of fiction. Moments like the Miracle on Ice stand out, because they are moments that transcend the entire realm of sports, or at least the realm of the sports during which they encompass. Instead, they become something bigger, something truer, and something that becomes legend in the eyes of many.

I truly believe that I witnessed one of those moments take place last weekend at the 2015 International WFTDA Championships, which took place in Saint Paul.

There are many things that stand out with this story. The fact that it was the culmination of the WFTDA’s tenth playoff season was certainly an element, as was the setting, being at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium, a historic and legendary space. Having the games carried for the first time on ESPN3 helped bring new eyes into the experience of roller derby, and the fact that each tournament day got better than the one previous, with the first day already being incredible, only help to cement the storybook that was presented. However, if you take away all of those elements, you’re still given a beautiful moment. A moment that stands out in my eyes on par with any of the other legendary sports moments. A moment that, I believe, will help define the next ten years of roller derby in the world.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m already talking about the impact of the story. I’m not talking about the story itself. Nor have I yet touched on the main players, the Gotham Girls Roller Derby All-Stars (New York, NY) and the Rose City Rollers Wheels of Justice (Portland, OR).

The story begins on Friday morning. It is early, over an hour before the first contests of the championship tournament are set to begin. Due to a quirk of scheduling, largely for broadcast purposes, the opening ceremonies end up being sparsely attended. Those that were present, or who watched later online, witnessed the standard “welcome to this year’s tournament”, along with entrances from the best WFTDA teams in the world. Anthems were sung, one from each country in attendance, and the stage was set for a tremendous weekend, one that would culminate in one team lifting the Hydra, the top prize in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. That alone wouldn’t have stood out as being dramatically different from other tournaments, and still would have set the stage for the epic battles that were yet to unfold.

But that wasn’t all. In the opening ceremonies, there was a tribute moment. It was a moment to remember and thank a man who had been a huge part of roller derby in general since the revival, and who had unfortunately passed away earlier in the year. In the derby world, he went by the name Rob Lobster, and his passing deeply affected so many who knew him. He had also been involved with the Rose City Rollers pretty much since day one. His imprint was all over the Wheels of Justice, and the tournament having a moment to remember him almost felt like an omen. Rob had been part of bringing Rose City to the final game of the 2014 season, where they fell to second place thanks to a squeaker of a win, a mere 3 points, dealt by Gotham. The tribute felt like it was basically setting the stage, telling Rose City that the story had been written, but it was up to them to complete the final chapter.

That was Friday. And that was the start of a day that contained an incredible amount of intense play from all of the teams involved. However, we don’t pick up this story again until Saturday, when Gotham and Rose City played their first games of the weekend, thanks to entering as top seeds from their playoffs. Rose City and Gotham both advanced through their quarterfinal games, looking ahead to later in the night when they would play their semifinal contests, and learn if they would be in the running to take home the Hydra. The first semifinal game pitted Rose City against the London Rollergirls London Brawling, which was a tightly contested game. As the final whistle blew, Rose City had cemented a 12-point victory, a mere pittance in roller derby, and waited to see who their opponent would be. On one hand, Gotham loomed as the potential opponent, with all of the history that name entails. On the other hand, Victorian Roller Derby League had earlier stomped all over Texas, and they were looking to become the first non-US team to snag roller derby’s top prize. The second semifinal game began, and ended up being one of the games of the tournament. Throughout much of the game, VRDL found themselves with the lead, and yet, try though they might, they just couldn’t create enough separation from Gotham to ever rest easy. Late in the game, the overarching story reared its head, and the final result saw Gotham escape with a 2-point victory. Not only did it keep their winning streak intact at just over 5 years (5 years and 1 day by most accounts), but it set the stage for a rematch of the previous season’s championship contest.

I allude to story above, and how it seemed to dictate some of the events that happened. Make no mistake; had VRDL defeated Gotham, the Roy Wilkins Auditorium would have erupted with an insane amount of energy. The majority of those in the arena wanted to see the giant fall, and they were primed to celebrate. In fact, when Gotham took the lead late in the game, it felt like the air had left the building in a rush. However, as amazing as watching VRDL and Rose City battle for the Hydra would have been, it would have lacked the poetry and parallels of the previous season. Instead, by pitting Rose City against Gotham once again, there was a certain amount of book-ending that had been set in place, and that match-up created even more subplots for the championship game. There was the redemption angle, the rematch, and the memory of Rob Lobster.

That brings us to the game itself on Sunday. Throughout the game, it looked like Gotham was going to keep their winning streak intact. Much like VRDL had challenged Gotham on Saturday, now they were the ones challenging Rose City on Sunday. And, much like the game against VRDL, the team that was in front absorbed punches, but was never quite able to pull away far enough to really make the road to victory abundantly obvious. In the first two jams of the game, Rose City had opened up a 22-0 lead, but they found themselves down 170-179 with under 4 minutes left. They had only held a lead a couple of times in the second half, and each time by only 2 points. Staring at a 9-point deficit with so little time on the clock, facing the best team in the world, could have been a daunting task. However, story once again strode forward, setting its mark on the weekend. In the game’s penultimate jam, each team sent their top jammer to the line. For Rose City, the skater wearing the star was Scald Eagle. For Gotham, the jammer was the woman spoken of as the LeBron James of roller derby, Bonnie Thunders. These were the same two skaters who had faced each other the previous year in the final jam, where Gotham was able to turn a 12-point deficit into a 3-point victory. This year, however, the story was written differently, as Scald Eagle and Rose City contained Bonnie Thunders (and, later, Fisher Twice, thanks to a star-pass), while racking up scoring pass after scoring pass. When the jam came to its conclusion, the scoreboard now stood at 198-187, Rose City having reclaimed the lead, and Gotham’s jammer sitting in the penalty box thanks to a forearm penalty.

The stage was set. The circumstances were eerily similar to the 2014 championships. Rose City held an 11-point lead over Gotham, in comparison to the 12-point lead from the year before. A jammer was stuck in the penalty box, handing a power jam to one of the teams, except this year it was Rose City who owned the power jam, and Gotham who needed a penalty kill. After a timeout, there was time for one final jam, and all Rose City needed to do was secure lead jammer status, allow the period clock to run down, and end the game. Gotham needed to hold, and not only get their jammer out of the penalty box, but hope that they were able to keep Rose City from becoming lead jammer and getting enough points on the board to at least force overtime.

Story wasn’t done playing with us yet.

The Rose City jammer was Loren Mutch, a young skater who has definitely made an impact for the Wheels of Justice. Loren’s counterpart from Gotham was Fisher Twice, sitting in the penalty box at the start of the jam. To keep things interesting, the timeout allowed for Gotham to give Bonnie Thunders a brief rest, and she was back on the track, wearing the pivot cap, and potentially able to receive the jammer star from Fisher. Again, all Loren needed to do was get through the pack cleanly, be declared lead jammer, and kill off the rest of the period clock, and the game would have been over. However, that was not what story had in mind, as Loren’s pass through the pack resulted in her not being declared lead jammer. The door was open, and it almost felt as though Gotham was about to steal the typewriter for their own ending. Fisher Twice, passing the star. Bonnie Thunders, jamming for Gotham. Loren Mutch, trying to at the very least hold serve with Gotham, and keep as much of the 11-point lead intact. The noise was deafening. The importance of story even allowed the DJ to start playing The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” at just the perfect moment for the slower part of the song to be carried over the loudspeakers during one of Loren’s loops around, the drums and guitar hitting just as the back of the pack was engaged with. The final whistles blew, and the audience inside the Roy Wilkins Auditorium, and those watching around the world online, either through or through ESPN3, witnessed history happen, and the story book received the final chapter that seemed almost destined from the moment of the opening ceremonies, and possibly back even further than last year’s championships.

Rose City stood tall, and they had defeated Gotham by a final score of 206-195. The Gotham Girls, who had helped redefine the sport of roller derby, and who had raised the bar time and time again for teams all around the world, had been defeated. The giant had fallen, and, by a weird quirk of sports, had gained new fans. Everyone loves an underdog story, and Gotham’s defeat will once again allow fans to root for them, and to do it loudly and proudly. As for story? Story had one more moment to give to everyone, and a moment that encapsulated everything that’s right, not just about roller derby, not just about sports, but about every sort of competitive contest. The final whistles blew, and one of the first moments on the track was seeing Loren Mutch, the jammer who had sealed the deal for Rose City, getting hugged fiercely and proudly by Bonnie Thunders.

Because, sometimes, the story wants to make sure that there are no villains. There are only heroes. And, on this past weekend, as so many other weekends in so many locations worldwide, those heroes wore four wheels on each foot.


So You Want to Use Social Media in the News

As some of you may have heard, while covering the terrible helicopter crash in Seattle, a Denver television station accidentally let it all hang out. Well, they didn’t, but they shared a picture on their live broadcast of someone ELSE letting it all hang out. So yes, congratulations to whoever owns that particular penis, because you have risen to some level of fame.

Sure, broadcasting the news is hard work, and you’ve got to keep a stiff upper lip while the cameras are running. You wouldn’t want to take too soft of an approach in covering the story. Sometimes you want to make sure you’re covering a wider perspective, and sometimes, you know it’s all about the length of your journalism. Keep in mind, though, any news coverage that lasts four hours or longer really needs to get some deeper scrutiny.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten all of those out of the way, let’s move on. See, over time, social media has actually proven to be quite beneficial. There are events that happen worldwide, and the only way people get to find out about them is via checking their Twitters/Facebooks/Instagrams (hey, sometimes the news is food-related). So, while I’ve never been a journalist, I am a social media user, and I’m going to share a few helpful tips for any journalist who is looking to use social media in their broadcasts.

1. Keep abreast of the trends

Listen, you don’t want to go down in history as the news organization that still gets supplemental information from MySpace. Unless, of course, you want your information to not only be terribly out-of-date, but for it to run the potential of causing epilepsy in people seeing it during your news story. Yes, I know that MySpace has changed, but, seriously, is anyone out there really using it even with the changes?

2. Make sure that you’ve already done initial research

The worst thing in the world for a news organization is to be wrong. The second worst thing is to be wrong because you’re taking everyone else’s words at face-value. While you might find plenty of good information by scanning through your social media contacts, make sure that you already know at least a little about what you’re covering. Otherwise, you could be running a news story about how much of a commu-fascist dictator the president is, without doing any sort of research into those political ideologies. (Note: If you are working for cable news, please disregard)

3. Check the names of the parties involved

Listen, maybe you’ve got a hot lead. You’ve seen someone tweet about the most breaking news story in the history of breaking news stories. Maybe they even posted the tweet without saying “#YOLO”. Think about double-checking their name. You wouldn’t want to necessarily spread that information came from @assfister27978134, when you can instead say “Jim”. Not to say that people with relatively unfriendly twitter handles aren’t going to be spreading good information, just that maybe it might be better to go with “sources say”.

4. It’s okay to be late to the coverage

This is something, overall, that news organizations seem to forget, although every once in awhile, it gets put on display. You don’t have to be the first to break the story. Especially not when that breaking story is full of speculation. Sure, you’ve got Facebook telling you all about the huge jets of water spraying all over the place, with locusts trying to eat into your studio’s walls, but maybe you should confirm that it actually IS some sort of end-times scenario before making it sound like an angry deity is exacting vengeance on the planet. As with tip #2, if you’re working in cable news, feel free to disregard this tip.

5. Don’t just stream images live, without checking them in advance

Seriously, people. Images on the internet run down a few categories. You’re bound to find cats, porn, cats watching porn, cat porn, babies, food, food porn, porn stars feeding cats, and then, finally, actual useful image content. The fact that only one station inadvertently aired a picture of a penis is surprising. And how many people out there have gone searching for a seemingly innocuous hashtag, only to be bombarded with more naked body parts than have been near Ron Jeremy? Seriously, image searches are dangerous, and they should NEVER be part of your live broadcast.

Use these simple tips to help make your news stories a little more social media friendly. Or, at least, if you make a mistake, be sure to quickly go onto social media, and say things like “shared a penis on live tv, thanks Obama #fml #smh #yolo #brunettes”. At least you’ll probably get a retweet or something.

Gaming as a Father

So, really aside from the Tuesday and Thursday posts, this blog is going to probably be a little more sparse. Partially because, well, I only want to write when I actually have something to say, and, partially because, if you’ve been reading The Nugget Chronicles, you know that I’ve recently transitioned to being home all of the time with my daughter. This is an incredibly rewarding choice, but it means that computer time is definitely limited to whenever she’s taking a nap, and even that is kind of a crap shoot.

That being said, there are a couple of games that came out over the course of 2013 that really resonated. And, truth be told, both of these games came out when Nugget was still hanging out, doing her pre-being-born growing. However, I made a point of getting through both of these games relatively quickly (which is a rarity for me… as I’m currently still plodding my way through Final Fantasy XIII-2), because, well, I wasn’t sure if I’d get much of a chance to play them after Nugget was born. See, there’s just something about playing a fairly violent video game in the general vicinity of a small, impressionable person that is kind of off-putting (it’s one of the reasons why I also don’t play video games around my short friends). Little did I know when I started the games that they would resonate much more deeply than I had anticipated. Clearly, the stories had something to do with that, but it was really the way the characters were allowed to interact that hit home. Those two games are Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us.

Now, to talk about why Bioshock Infinite resonated, it’s impossible to avoid spoilers. That being said, come on, people. The game’s almost a year old, and we’re encroaching on the next (last) piece of DLC. For those few people with an interest in the game but haven’t played it to completion, I’m going to ruin the surprise for you. See, you’re playing as Booker DeWitt, and you’re getting help from a woman named Elizabeth. Near the end of the game, you discover that Elizabeth, the most helpful escort in the history of video game escort missions, is actually Booker’s daughter. When that point was reached for gamers far and wide, you could practically hear the screeching of brakes being applied as millions of Booker/Elizabeth slash-fictions suddenly became a lot worse (and, for some writers, a few probably became better). For me, it struck home because, well, I was about to have a daughter. The whole fear of losing your child (or, in this case, “voluntarily” giving them up) filled me with dread even before I’d ever met Nugget, and seeing how Booker dealt with it hit home. Mind you, if I was ever in a similar situation, I’d like to think that I’d deal with it better. When the game reaches it’s conclusion, the father/daughter connection really hits home, as Booker is willing to sacrifice everything he is to try and save Elizabeth from any pain, both in the past and the future. Finishing Bioshock Infinite made me immediately go and hug my wife, and made we want to hug my daughter, even though I still had months to wait.

And, almost as soon as I had finished processing my thoughts and feelings regarding Bioshock Infinite, I picked up The Last of Us. Hey, look, it’s a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It’s a story of survival, against the odds. There’s scrounging and fighting and stuff to do to allow your character, Joel, the best chances to make it in this world. Oh, and there’s a connection to an amazingly strong female character, who, along the way, becomes a surrogate daughter for Joel.

Yup. Waiting for my daughter to be born, I basically engulfed myself in two different games about fathers making their way in the world to save their daughters.

Now, in The Last of Us, Ellie isn’t Joel’s actual daughter. In fact, before they start on their voyage together, they’d never met. However, when the virus breaks out, turning the planet into a walking mushroom colony, Joel loses his actual daughter while trying to escape. This clearly haunts him, as the next time we see Joel, he’s a shell of his former self. We don’t know all of the other things that affected him, but it’s very apparent that losing his daughter has made him take a much more cynical look at the world, and he just isn’t really prepared to let anyone get close. Even when he first meets Ellie, it’s clear that he’s only taking her along because it’s a job. Over time, Ellie grows on him (because, seriously, how can she not? The jokes alone are worth getting to know this kid), and, by the end of everything, we’re again seeing a man willing to sacrifice everything to protect his “daughter”. The parental protection instinct is strong, and it’s clear that the writers for both games understood that desire to ensure the safety of family that exists.

While these father/daughter exchanges are truly powerful, and they show the sacrifices willingly made by the male characters, if it hadn’t been for the fact that Elizabeth and Ellie were both such strong characters in their own rights, they whole thing would have come off as being hokey. In fact, it can be argued that it didn’t matter that either Elizabeth or Ellie were women. Neither character needs to rely on being a “girl” to help them out of situations, and the game developers clearly wanted to show that both women are perfectly capable, which is a nice breath of fresh air, especially when compared to characters like Ashley from Resident Evil 4. Elizabeth is kept locked away until Booker breaks her free, not because she can’t get herself out, but because there seems to be little point when she knows far more of the truth about the world she’s living in. Ellie is no less capable of surviving than a boy would be in her shoes, as the only thing that really sets her apart from Joel as far as skills go are things that are learned over time. The characters could have been written as being male, without any real changes made to the story, which is key. Too often the media makes women foils, or props, and doesn’t seem willing to accept that they are simply people. The man doesn’t have to always be the hero, and the woman doesn’t always have to be the damsel in distress. While the father/daughter connection is struck upon in both games, it isn’t a stretch to say that a father/son relationship would be just as fulfilling.

I haven’t revisited either game since Nugget was born, with the exception of a little time in Bioshock Infinite‘s DLC, but I know that I’ll go back some day. Truth be told, that day may not come until I feel that Nugget can actually glean something from the story. After all, while I know that she’s got a multitude of strong women in her life, I think it’s important for her to see strong women in the media, as well, and ones that are not simply there to portray the “feminine perspective”.

I only hope that more games like Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us come out, with strongly written characters and well-crafted storylines. It’s certainly better than when I was a kid, trying to get a plumber through pipes to go and save a princess who was always in another castle, and who could have walked five feet over to get the ax and free herself.

Changed Pace

So, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been spending time (re-)playing through Final Fantasy XIII. This is so I can play XIII-2 (which I missed out on), and Lightning Returns (which, if you’ve been following gaming news pretty much anywhere, you know is recently out). Now, I’ve been plodding away through FFXIII for a couple of weeks now, partially because I tend to only play in the wee hours of the night after Nugget and HawtWife have gone to bed, and partially because, well, even without a lot of exploration available, it’s still a pretty darned dense game. Clearly it’s a game that I enjoyed, otherwise I never would have wanted to revisit it. I mean, I could have caught up on the whole story again by visiting the internet and devouring article after (thinly veiled attack) article. But, I’m going back, and reliving through it all, partially because of the admission that I had fun, and partially because I don’t want to just read more gripes about how FFXIII isn’t a “real” Final Fantasy game.

Anyway, I’ve finally reached the point in the game where everything opens up. This is both a good and a bad thing. See, it’s awesome, because now the whole concept of linearity is thrown out the window (at least, for a bit). Suddenly, I get to wander around and look at all of the gorgeous scenery that’s been built and, truth be told, the world of Gran Pulse is a beautiful place to wander (especially if, like me, you live in a place where the only color outside of the window is white, thanks to a combination of snow and road salt). Beautiful vistas abound, and, everywhere you look, there are dangerous monsters that you can either fight or avoid, as you see fit.

The bad part? This is the part of the game that taps into the lizard brain portion of my mind. It’s where I remember all of the time I spent as a younger person, playing through earlier Final Fantasy games. It brings the need for level-grinding back to the forefront, which means I’m going to spend probably as much time on Gran Pulse trying to make my characters the strongest they can be as I spent even GETTING to Gran Pulse in the first place. This, coupled with the fact that there is no real way to know if you can handle the monsters until they’ve curbstomped you will lead to some very long sessions, and a whole pile of time spent ticking away, just trying to get Lightning and crew to not have any more little dots on their character progression charts.

Even though I’m griping somewhat about all the time I’m going to spend in Gran Pulse, it’s a very nice change of pace. I may not push my characters to be the best of the best (of the best, sir), but I’m certainly going to let them get to a point where they can’t be defeated by a little leg sweep, either. It’s comforting to remember that, once I get bored of (over-)leveling my party, I can return to the adventure as I see fit, and move the story forward again. From what I’ve heard about some of the mechanics behind Lightning Returns, I actually might end up missing out on this element, because being able to take your time exploring a game world has always been a bit of a joy for me. It’s how I lose myself in the Elder Scrolls, and why Assassin’s Creed IV has kept me going. Exploration of these worlds has been joyous, and, honestly, it’s nice to be able to do it on my time.

After all, if I was always beholden to the timeframe established by the game developers, I’d probably never even see past the midpoint of any game I’ve ever played. I get too easily distracted by what might be lurking beyond the horizon. Give me open vistas, and allow me to set my own pace, at least for a portion of my time in your game world, and you’ve got a contented gamer.

Gaming All of the Stops

Last week marked the release of the newest installment in the Final Fantasy XIII saga. I’d played the first portion, completely skipped past XIII-2, and then found myself interested in the finisher. Well, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a completionist, which means that I’d really have to go and play what I missed before starting up Lightning Returns. But wait, there’s more. See, I’d had my copy of FFXIII back when I was still gaming on an Xbox 360, and that console (and the games that went along with it) have long been shelved and/or sold. So, because it had been long enough since I’d played FFXIII, I’d want to refresh myself on the story, which, for me, means playing the whole saga from the beginning. That meant rebuying the first in the series (this may be considered an inability to learn from my own past), except this time for the PS3. No problem, right?

Yeah, apparently there’s only one place not online that sells this particular version of the game anymore. And that one place? Gamestop. Say what you will about Gamestop, but it’s probably been said before. People have definitely talked about how much they really hate these stores, and others have glowed about how Gamestop, as a vehicle for used games, allows people to get into games they might never have experienced if they’d had to pay full price. So, seriously, say what you will, but it’s probably been said before (unless you’re Gamestop story involves the ritual sacrifice of small sheep, that is. I’m pretty sure that hasn’t happened… yet).

Anyway, I went off to my local store, and clearly happened upon a slow time of day. My general pattern upon entering ANY type of store, unless I’m actually there for a specific purpose and I know I’ll need assistance for it, is to inform the employees that I’m just browsing, but will find them if I have problems. I did just this, but, again, slow time of day. The employees totally heard me, and even let me be for upwards of a whole 30 seconds, before asking about what systems I owned, and what I might have been looking for. However, they weren’t pushy at all. They were just super cordial, and offering pretty good insights. Sure, they pushed a pre-order, but it was actually for a game that fits my interests, and is something I’ve been thinking about anyway (no, I didn’t pre-order, because I’m willing to be patient, generally). Even odder, with the exception of one item, everything that they mentioned as something I should be trying out is something I’ve already tried, and enjoyed.

Listen, I know that gamers out there are always of different opinions on things, especially about what “can’t miss” games are out there. For some people, if they don’t play every instance of Call of Madden: Battlefield Earth, they’ll feel like they missed out on the biggest thing in the history of things. For others, only the indiest of the indies make their “must play” list, and they would never come close to touching the release of Elder Creed VI: Burnout. The vast majority of gamers occupy some place in between, but it often feels like the people working at stores are partially responsible for pushing the “big games” on people. It was refreshing to be in a store, mentioning the potential shame of FFXIII (seriously, people REALLY seemed to hate the first one of that particular saga), and not only have the clerks interested in assisting, but offering up other games based off of that or recent admissions from my gaming queue to give some pretty insightful suggestions.

Seriously, if every single game buying experience could be like this, I’d just rebuy games I’d purchased once already all the time. Of course, if every game buying experience was like this, there would be no purpose behind Steam, and damn, do I love that little game-delivery-and-wallet-depletion system.

Come to think of it, this past trip was like seeing a live person embodying Steam. Except there was actually a third installment.

So You’ve Won a Political Battle

If you’ve been following the news recently, you’ve almost undoubtedly seen the big story about the Affordable Care Act. For those that haven’t been as heavily tied in, basically, the requirement for mid-level companies to provide affordable health care coverage has been pushed back, this time to 2016. For larger companies, they don’t need to worry about getting coverage for 95% of employees until that same year, with a requirement to provide it to 70% by 2015. Keep in mind that the vast majority of employers in the country are not subject in any way to this mandate. This is for a program that has been plagued with problems from the get-go, and has drawn the ire of the vast majority of Republicans, who simply wanted to see it eliminated.

The requirements are being eased, potentially, as a way to help out the Democrats during the upcoming election season, but it’s hard to see it as anything other than a straight Republican victory. That is, of course, unless you’re one of those Republican elected officials, who wanted it stopped, and now are upset that it’s being stopped. With that said, I’m going to offer some helpful tips for how to handle yourself should you find yourself on the winning side of any sort of political battle.

As a note, if you are a Democrat who has been elected to office, please keep in mind that these tips may not prove helpful, as recent history has shown that you will infrequently land on the winning side of an issue.

1. Switch sides

This is a tried-and-true tactic. Once your party has proven themselves to be the victors, make sure that you and the rest of your affiliates quickly switch sides. Nobody likes someone who wins all of the time. If you consistently make sure that you’re just always fighting against some sort of injustice, even an injustice that you previously championed, you’ll come out shining like a big pile of diamonds. Look at yourself as the Marian Hossa of non-hockey players. Get yourself on a team that’s going for the championship, but will lose. Then, switch teams, get to the championship, and lose again. That way, when you do finally win your ultimate prize, the public will forget that you were simply jumping from position to position all while just barely losing out.

2. Pretend it was never in doubt

If you choose to not switch sides, perhaps you should simply make it clear that you were always on the correct side of history. In fact, if you can find some way to shoehorn a higher power into your proclamations, even better. After all, people may root for the underdog, but, when the champion had clear help from above, well, then it was just destined to be. Above all else, remain humble enough that people still think you’re pretty darned swell, while also making it clear that you won because you were the smartest, best-looking, most articulate person in the room. If you can find a way to throw a couple of self-deprecating jokes in all of the self-congratulation, all the better.

3. Change the story

Maybe you didn’t actually want to come out on top in your little battle. Maybe by winning, you were actually losing. This is very similar to switching sides, except, this time, it only LOOKS like you came out victorious. You actually lost, because of some random element that most people didn’t even know existed. Sure, you stopped something that was designed to make sure that baby seals weren’t brutally clubbed, but you actually lost, because you couldn’t protect your right to use whatever pipe fittings you wanted to. If you can make it clear that by winning you actually gave up more than you got, people will clamor to see more from you, and will rally around your next talking point.

4. Feign ignorance

News travels fast, but maybe it doesn’t travel fast enough to reach you. This tactic requires you to continue to play off of the fact that you believe you’re losing in your battle to accomplish something, even once it’s clear that everything you aimed for has been done. Your best allies in this are going to be people who aren’t glued to the 24-hour news cycle, or, failing that, the hosts of the 24-hour news cycle. They may start to believe that they missed a key point, or that your whole agenda item is still waiting on a vote. If you can stretch this long enough, people could start to believe that you’re actively being kept out of the loop, and you can sit back and watch as conspiracy theories start to flow. If you can find a way to sneakily get your side of the story out to a site known for satirical news, all the better.

5. Admit your victory; move on to the next topic

WARNING: This tactic is highly advanced, and should only be used in the rarest of situations. For this to succeed, you need to make sure that you will gain enough clout by not only fighting towards your personal agenda, but that people will actually want to defend your position themselves. This shouldn’t be any sort of a slim majority, either. If you can’t be certain that you will maintain a high approval rating, especially in the areas that sent you to political office in the first place, then avoid this tactic completely. After all, admitting that you and your side are victorious could be seen as unabashed bragging, and moving on to something else might actually show an indication of working through the backlog that plagues many political offices. As a caveat to this, if you’re still early in your political career, you can find yourself accidentally using this tactic, and you may not suffer the same stigma as a more veteran party member, but you will certainly lose some of your ability to appear on cable news shows. Above all, use this tactic only at your own risk.

If everyone can just follow these simple suggestions, we can be certain that our government will continue to grind itself into a state of gridlock, all while knowing that nobody is fully prepared to take the credit while dispensing the blame. It certainly wouldn’t do for people to actually have some insight into what the different parties are thinking.

So You’ve Found an Article On the Net

In today’s highly digital world, it’s not only easier to get news from many different sources, sources that might have previously been unavailable to the people reading them, but it’s become easier and easier to share said articles with social media. How many times have you seen someone post the link to a news story from a publication you may never have heard of, only to follow through to that story and learn more about the subject? Even if you aren’t the type to click through, the articles are sitting out there, taunting you with their attention-grabbing headlines. It’s become a bit of a minefield to traverse, made even more difficult, due to the number of satirical sites popping up across the web.

But why do these satirical sites create such difficulty? Because, well, even The Onion, which people have known for years to be satirical in nature, fools some people into believing that what they’re writing is true. This gets even trickier with sites that either a) ARE largely factual, or b) are so new, people haven’t figured out that they’re spewing nothing but a steady stream of b.s. to the general public. There’s also the little detail that a lot of these sites are getting better and better about taking the factual and casting just sublime enough of a crazy light on it that it really seems like what they’re writing is nothing but truth. After all, we’ve witnessed Michelle Bachmann say some things that seem fairly out-of-whack, so an article providing more examples of her craziness doesn’t seem too far of a stretch. There was a Magnificient Soup Dish just this past weekend, and the top scoring team in the history of ever dropped a big ol’ dookie in the middle of the field, so when an article claims that the game was rigged, people buy into it. A lot of these satirical articles are sort of another form of wish fulfillment for the reader, as it reaffirms that maybe things really ARE as bad as they seem.

So, gentle readers, with the current slew of satire being spread across this land, and even reputable news sources becoming more and more slanted, what is one to do when they find an article online? Well, lucky for you, I’m here to deliver a couple of quick suggestions.

1. Share An Article As Soon As You Discover It

Throw caution to the wind! When you find that online story, make sure to get it out there for your friends on Twitter/Facebook/MySpace/whatever else! After all, they haven’t shared it yet, and they clearly need to see it. To make sure it really gains some traction, include some personal commentary to really grab the attention. You may not be the author, but you’re the vehicle through which people are discovering it.

2. Just Ignore It

Yes, the article comes from the New York Times, but, let’s be real. That publication has been little more than a rumor-mongering troglodyte for the last few decades at least, anyway. It certainly doesn’t have the cultural cache as something like

3. When You See Someone Else Post Something, Post Counter-Arguments

Did someone post that the Magnificient Soup Dish was rigged? Find a link that points out how it was the cleanest game ever! Is your favorite actor getting blasted for being a little too straight? Drop some knowledge on the world by sharing an article where they totally had a gay experience! Please note, this point is actually invalid when sharing corrections and factual information with others. That’s what the comment section is for.

4. Click That Linking Button, But Then Attack the Writers

Clearly, people that write anything online are simply doing it for pageviews. I mean, there’s all that fat ad revenue money coming in. It’s why I sleep entirely on a mattress stuffed with money (the money is pennies, but still, that’s a LOT of pennies, even if it is uncomfortable, and even if I did just get them for buying sodas at the store). So, by all means, give them more pageviews. Just be sure to let everyone in your social circle know that you think the writer is nothing more than a steaming pile of turducken (is there any other kind of turducken?), and that you’re clearly more informed. You still get to the joy of being one of the first to share the articles, PLUS you get the added benefit of superiority.

5. Maybe, Oh, Research The Topic A Little, And Then Link To It If It Still Resonates With You

Listen, researching things is hard. But it’s amazing how much information can be gathered relatively quickly through little things like Google. So, if you see something that seems a little too good to be true, do some digging before sharing it. Worst case scenario, you’ll appear a little late to the game, but you won’t be sharing something that can easily be proven false. As an addendum, however, be warned that nothing political in nature can ever be truly proven false, because everything is just too incredibly partisan, so there will be people praising and detracting every single story out there.

With these simple tips, you too can find yourself sharing articles, filling up news feeds, and pushing the images of other people’s babies/pets/lunches completely off of social media. Good luck, and happy hunting!