5 Things that make being trans difficult

Each week I get on social media and I connect with lovely trans people from all over the world. We all tend to have a lot in common but the one thing we share the most is how incredibly difficult it is for us to live our lives the way we wish to.

I am working on writing an article interviewing a number of trans women hoping to share their stories. In the meantime I thought I would share five things that makes being trans more difficult than you might think.

 

1. Periods

Okay no transwomen do not technically get a physical menstrual cycle like cis gender biological females do. But it’s not to say we don’t long to share the experience that defines our cis sisters. In fact despite all the negative that comes with it i.e. mood swing, cramps, bleeding, etc., the fact women have the amazing power to create life is something many trans women, myself included, long for. It is the one thing we can’t do. It’s not that I want to experience having a period for the sake of it. It’s more like I just truly want to be a whole woman as much as anyone else and the idea of being able to create a baby is something I totally wish I could do.

2. Makeup

Every woman has to worry about her looks. Transwomen have to worry even more so because we’re not just under the same pressure as cis women to be pretty. We’re also under additional pressure from ourselves, men and other women to pass. Meaning one of our goals is to be accepted as a woman. That means when someone sees you they automatically assume you are a woman and address you appropriately. This means we have to work extra hard at doing makeup. Also, for many of us it’s something we had to learn on our own in secret. It is painful for your trans girlfriends to ask you for makeup advice but if you have the capacity to be kind and help them please do so. She isn’t trying to take something away from you she just wants to share in something you learned as a child.

3. Dating

If you think dating is hard for even binary homosexuals, even more so than straight people, it’s extra difficult for trans people. Our options are extremely limited. There are cis gendered lesbians who do not want a girl with boy parts. There are cis gendered hetero males that don’t want a girl with boy parts. Then there are homo sexual males that don’t mind the boy parts but want a less feminine person. Finding someone who is compatible spiritually, physically and sexually is a big challenge. For most of us we navigate life utterly alone while some compromise who they are just to settle for anyone they can get. I don’t want to have to settle. I want someone that will accept me for me and be attracted to me as I am not someone that will say okay I can live with X Y and Z but you need to scale back on the Z and maybe emphasize the Y more. No. I am who I am deal with it.

4. Sex

If dating is hard imagine how much harder it is to find a compatible sexual partner. I mean you have to be compatible on all the other levels before you even get to sex. But it’s a trick. You have to consider what you are attracted to but also what the other person’s needs are. Then there is the reality. Trans women don’t always have the stuff they want to do the deeds the way they want. Some are okay with having male junk. Others not so much. But either way even if you want the surgery necessary to under natures mistake, it’s not easy it isn’t cheap and above all it requires years of invasive therapy and other crap that frankly nobody should have to put up with.

5. Shopping for clothes

I saved this for last because it’s actually the hardest thing. Dating can be done online. Periods we can live without until science catches up. Sex, well we have alternative options if we are so inclined and makeup we have YouTube stars like Stef Sanjati to show us how it’s done. But shopping for clothes as a trans woman is a nightmare. Many times we end up chickening out and buying stuff online that frankly never fits. We can’t always find a female to accompany us to the store to do it properly. Not to mention the utter dread of trying things on in a public dressing room! Oh the horror. Sure I can when needed muster the courage to push my shopping cart into the woman’s aisle and grab the first dress or blouse I see that looks pretty and might fit, rush to the checkout and head out the door. But it’s often a very anxiety filled experience that leaves me panting all the way to the car. It would be so much easier if we could talk our cis gender allies into taking us clothes shopping even once in a while. Some trans ladies have this, others do not. Myself, unfortunately I am pretty much stuck doing what I can with my limited options.

These are just a few things trans women have to deal with. I know trans men also have their own issues, those pesky periods are a little more troublesome I imagine to them. Yet society seems to have an acceptable place for them, the word is tomboy. For some reason women of all shapes and sizes can shop for men’s clothes no questions asked. If they don’t like makeup they can get away with little to none. But a trans woman has a number of issues not to mention the same overly sexually aggressive perverts all women have to put up with. Only ours can be a little more physically aggressive if they discover things aren’t want they seem.

I imagine trans men have their own issues and I would love to visit with more of them to get their perspective. I had a friend once that was but we fell apart. Let me know if you have experienced any of these anxieties. Or if you are an ally what do you do to help your trans sisters out?

Changes coming to the channel and a new podcast in the works

This isn’t going to be easy. Ever since I first came out as trans, then walked it back to gender queer, I have been feeling an overwhelming urge to be more open on my channel. I created a character, the Retro Witch, to give me an opportunity to speak my mind as Stephanie without transitioning publicly fully at this time.

In the spirit of keeping my sanity I have turned the YouTube channel over to Stephanie. She will handle it from here on out. We will continue to operate as separate voices in that she will get the YouTube channel and I will, as the rat, continue to operate the Dark Web Podcast, for the time being. At some point in the near future I do plan on starting up a new podcast for the Retro Witch but it will be completely different from what I do currently. I don’t want to spoil what is coming just yet.

I haven’t actually sat down and had the hard conversations with everyone in my family yet. What I have done is admitted I was addicted to cross dressing and that I was looking into ways to find balance in my life. As such I decided to make some major changes in the way I do content.

I already wrote a post from the perspective of the Retro Witch. I created that separate account as a way to speak my mind as Stephanie while keeping generic content under my main account, THE RAT, because frankly more people know me as the rat than as Stephanie. But I am building a brand. The Retro Witch will eventually replace the rat as Stephanie takes over my life.

Because I cannot keep doing forever fighting who I really am I decided the best balance is to give the entire channel over to Stephanie. What that means is I will be returning to doing the same 5 day a week content as before, 5 for 5 on Monday and Tuesday, This or That on Wednesday, What’s Streaming on Thursdays and a weekly vlog on Fridays. The difference is I am not doing everything as Stephanie dressed as the retro witch. In time as I become her fully this old voice will slowly fade into a distant memory.

However, as my public life does necessitate I maintain a public image for the time being The Rat will live on in some form for a while longer.

I can’t say for sure that I will ever fully transition into Stephanie. What I have said all along as I will be her when I get to be and I will be THE RAT when I need to be. I have learned I need to be Stephanie more than I ever realized before. IN fact, if I could change my name and be her full time tomorrow I probably would. There is nothing keeping me tied to this old life other than a few loose ends I can’t shake due to a comfortable life I am not ready to turn upside down quite yet.

Stephanie will do the main videos for the site. She will host the above mentioned shows as well as a possible revival of the Dark Web TV rebranded as the Retro With Show or something similar. I am still working out the details. I hate having to exist as two separate persons fighting for control of the same life. Maybe someday I will find peace. Or I will let this crazy war wage on until it tears us in two. Either way this is my current outlet and nothing is going to stop me from being true to who I have always been regardless of how honest I was about it in the past.

 

I’m back and better than ever~

When I first started recording YouTube videos I had this plan in the back of my mind. To use the platform to slowly start being the real me. I dabbled in cosplay. I did some Halloween stuff. But I finally decide Stephanie is free and here to stay. So what does that mean?

First and foremost it means THE RAT is no longer hosting the channel. The Retro Witch has taken over all of the main shows. What that means is from now on the only content you will see on a regular basis will be the real me, Stephanie is out and she is not going to hide anymore. The haters can get over it. Everyone else, Hi!

Here is what you can expect. I am bringing back the format of doing 5 videos a week. There will be a different video every single day. As before the format will be very similar to what it was a year ago. Monday and Tuesday I will do Five for Five as the Retro Witch. On Mondays the fist video will be the five things I like in whatever topic it happens to be. Then on Tuesdays you can expect the five things I dislike in the same topic. This week I did fast food restaurants.

Then on Wednesdays I will bring back This or That. It is a simple show where I will pick to things that are similar and compare them to decide which one I think is better.

Thursdays will see the return of What’s Streaming. As before I will pick a single YouTube video, channel, show or some other streaming content that I find interesting at the time.

On Friday’s Stephanie will have her voice heard as she hosts the weekly vlog. These will be short 5-15 minute videos recapping the biggest stories of the week. These will be things I feel are worth bringing attention to.

On Weekends I will let THE RAT do his little podcast. We’re discussing the possibility of doing a Retro Witch Show that will bring back some of the previous ideas from the old Dark Web TV but with the Stephanie hosting instead of THE RAT.

For the time being I think THE RAT will still share toy and video game pickups but I can’t promise Stephanie as the Retro Witch won’t get to start doing her take on these at some point down the road.

For now I just want to say I am happy to finally be free to be me.

Why it isn’t that easy to define non binary folks in binary terms

Reach down your pants and see what you have, that is all it takes to decide if you are a boy or a girl.

How many times have you heard a similar line thrown your way? If you are trans gender, bi sexual, pan sexual or gender queer chances are you have heard someone in your life make a similar statement.

Last night I was watching an episode of That 70s Show. It was season 1, Eric’s Buddy. This was always one of my favorite episodes as it helped illustrate how confusing it can be to have non-standard non-binary feelings.

In the episode the main character, Eric Foreman, befriends a rich kid named Buddy who is is lab partner for a science class. During the course of the episode it is revealed Buddy is actually gay and interested in Eric romantically. Following a moment involving a kiss Eric clearly rejected, the two friends have a slightly awkward conversation about why he chose Eric and it quickly moves back into comedy territory. The moment was brief and the episode certainly wasn’t ground breaking by any stretch. It presented being gay as somewhat normal behavior but in the context of the decade it was taking place there was an obvious treatment of it being abnormal. Later in the episode the character Steven Hyde even uses the phrase “love that dare not speak its name” when referring to homosexual tendencies. It was one of those episodes when I was younger I thought oh cool they normalized this is a way I can relate but also stayed true to the time period.

Looking back on it I think episodes like this had a positive impact on my experiences where as someone who was more out in the open during that time might not have seen it the same as I had. I remained firmly in the closet until less than a year ago. It opened up slightly to some extent to a very small group of people over the years but it wasn’t until attending a pride event I decide to tackle my own issues head on. Up to that point I had shrugged it off as something inside of me I could never act upon.

The more I am confronted with figuring out what my trued self is the more I wish I could just tell people I don’t know and I don’t want to figure it out. Maybe part of that falls on me. It could be that I struggle to find where I fit in the binary world while accepting I am not quite fully binary in nature. I know from a Christian perspective this is difficult to consider. However, I found that what works best for me is saying I consider myself gender fluid these days. Some days I wake up more feminine feeling than others. Some days I wake up fully masculine. Other days I want to be some where in the middle.

This has come up as I began to develop the Retro Witch character. A part of me wants to present her as female. A small part of me wants to present her as more of a shemale, the old stereotypical transvestite. In other words, male presenting as female but not fully female. I think trans women face the same cultural pressures as cis women to be sexually appealing to society. Because women have to place so much of their identity on their outward sexuality it makes it hard for a tranny to say I want to wear panties and dresses but not shave my beard.

I want to be a woman internally but I don’t need to do so in a way that satisfies your sexual fantasies about me. The first time a guy commented on a YouTube video of mine, presenting as female, about my sexual desireability I felt very akward. I didn’t put on a dress, wig and makeup for men to find me attractive. I do it because it feels right. It makes me feel right. That is, when the mood strikes. There are times when jeans and a t-shirt feels right. I would rather not be defined by the clothes I wear, the way I do my hair or even the music I listen to. I would rather be defined by my personality and my value as a person.

I think this is a big part of why I have such a hard time making friends. I have so little self esteem because I see myself as invaluable to the human condition. I am no binary which means I am also not a breeder. I don’t express my sexuality in a way conducive to procreation, something quite contrary to my Catholic faith.

I cling to the word transgender, internally calling myself tranny for short or queer girl in my mind. I do this not in a self loathing or deprecating way but as a way to define myself in the context of the societal norm. I read a story about how this new super hero movie celebrates its bisexual character and the comments are all negatively attacking the so-called Hollywood agenda to push the gays onto the world. I get sick of being told we are pushing outselves onto the world when it is quite literally the other way around. All I want, I don’t speak for all non binary queer folks, but all *I* want is to live my life and not be told I am doing it wrong. Let me decide what works for me and you do what works for you. I get there are people who hate change. There are people who hate for the sake of hating. There are those who use their religion to justify hating. As for me, I just wish those people would leave me alone and let me figure it out for myself. What is it hurting YOU if I decide to be gay, bi or whatever else?

THE RAT remembers NBA Legend Kobe Bryant and my good friend Dominic Hall who idolized the superstar

I don’t normally talk about sports related stuff. However this is a topic I felt like I couldn’t avoid. I felt like with the passing of NBA Legend Kobe Bryant I needed to air my own feelings as they are certainly complicated.

Let’s start with the obvious. I was born in 1982. I started watching NBA basketball during the Michael Jordan era. I am only a few years younger than Bryant was so I was smack dab in the middle of my teenage angst when his career was kicking off. He was becoming a rising star right around the time I was getting beginning to use basketball as a bonding experience with my dad. Dad and I never talked much growing up. But when we sat and watched an NBA game we could find things to say.

I distinctly remember watching those funny puppet commercials when Kobe was competing with the new kid on the block, Lebron James. I never got to experience an NBA game live in person, but my dad and I never missed a game whenever we had the chance.

To be fair neither my dad nor myself were L.A. Laker fans. It’s not to say we were anti-Lakers entirely, well dad more so than I, but we certainly took pleasure in watching them lose to certain teams. I tended to root for them on rare occasions whereas dad was adamant in his disdain. Still, despite all that we still took time to appreciate the victories the man achieved as he smashed one record after another. Watching him surpass my beloved Jordan was one of those moments where I gave the man his dues yet under my breath wished he would tear an ACL or something to put an end to that streak.

In the summer of 2007 I ended up moving into an apartment with who was at the time my best friend. The type of guy that would not only give you the shirt off his back, he was the guy that didn’t have a drivers license but he still owned a car so he could lend it to anyone in need. Dominic was by far my best friend for the longest period of my life. Unfortunately I moved around a lot so it was always hard for me to make friends. Fortunately Dom, as we called him, was the only one I ever met who would never turn me away when I needed him. If I knocked on his door in the middle of the night, even if he had company he would invite me in and ask his lady friend to hang tight. He would always answer his the phone no matter what. If he couldn’t talk he would say so and offer a better time to call back. And he was the only friend I had who always called me back.

Dom was one of the biggest Kobe Bryant fans I ever met. He was African American himself and had a slight resemblance to his idol. I mean to say he went out of his way to dress and look like the man he worshiped. Dom wore nothing, and I mean nothing but Kone Bryant jersey’s and shorts. He had literally every single different jersey Kobe wore, including his different All Start and Olympic ones. He went all in.

Dom fell ill with a disease known as Huntington’s. Needless to say the man we all loved deteriorated rather quickly. Despite the hand life dealt him, he never lost his good sense of humor. Even when he was suffering he put on a smile and kept going. He had the distinction of getting to meet his idol at a basketball game mere months before Kobe retired.

As life would have it, however, Dom ultimately passed away days after the encounter. He also left behind a daughter that he never got to know due to the affects his disease had on his life. On the one hand I am somewhat relieved Dominic never got to see his idol die in a fiery helicopter crash the rest of us had to hear about. Instead he got to pass away peacefully knowing the man he looked up to retired on the top of his game. On the other hand, I miss Dom more and more as time goes on, even more so now knowing the man that was such a big part of his life is now gone.

Dom loved basketball. I distinctly remember playing street ball with Dom and friends at the memorial basketball court my school student council installed in memory of one of our own who passed away upon graduation. That’s another story for a different day but it’s worth mentioned as Dominic and I were both on that student council.

I didn’t really take the time to properly mourn Dom when he passed. I buried myself in my work. I reached out to his brother and a few friends from high school but I had put that town, that part of my life in the past. Despite the pain it caused, at the time, I moved on. Now, there remains lingering traces of a painful funeral I never attended, brought to the surface by the sting of seeing someone that was such a huge part of his life now gone.

I remember that summer I lived with Dom he didn’t even charge me rent. I needed a place to stay after getting into a fight with my parents. He offered me not a couch, but his spare bedroom he always had on hand for a friend in need. He was that guy too, the one who rented a 2 bedroom apartment even though he lived alone. I wasn’t the only stray he took in, hell I wasn’t even the only one who stayed during that summer. He was such a big hearted, giving person he stocked his cupboards with extra food and snacks for the neighborhood kids. Anyone needed a peanut butter sandwich or Oreo cookie , he mad damn sure they got it. He never locked his door. You could come and go freely and if you needed something, just ask and it was yours.

Dom wasn’t without his skeletons. Nor was Bryant to be sure. But those aren’t worth digging into here. What is worth knowing is he loved Jesus, and he made sure everyone knew it too. He lived the life. The Christian life as best he could. He stumbled, sure, so do we all. But he was the first to tell you he sinned and would always ask for forgiveness when he wronged someone. He was also the type of person that would throw an impromptu birthday part for the stranger passing by who lost all his money at the casino. Needless to say someone as giving as Dom was a target for people who didn’t share his respect for others. Fortunately when he did fall prey to scammers, the community was quick to rally around him, restoring any losses he incurred while swiftly seeking to shame anyone who took advantage.

I suppose I have passed beyond memorial  into rambling. It’s hard not to say good things about this guy. I know I’ve had different opportunities to remember Dom over the years. I guess hearing about the passing of Kobe Bryant hit me harder than I expected because it reminded me of how much I miss Dominic Hall. I don’t talk about my friends enough. I don’t have many and the ones I had are leaving me to face this life alone but I feel the need to remember the good ones and Dominic was one of the best friends I ever had.

The seedy, juicy confession you all want~

It’s time for Stephanie to come clean. This is the inner woman that the rat has to face every single day. Today I am here to share the deeply personal exploration of my ever evolving understanding of human sexuality. This all comes from the perspective of a Christian who has struggled to find their place in life. A person, a human being that is male on the outside, sometimes female on the inside and completely void of human touch completely throughout. Here is the article you all been waiting for, especially those with dirty intentions.

First the background.

Yes, I am a virgin. No not because I am a “nerd” or whatever. I chose a life of abstinence. I remain celibate as long as I remain unmarried. That is to say, I have been engaged and I have been in situations where sex was most certainly on the table. I was the one to turn it down. But, not because I wasn’t interested or even driven. Of course my parents propose a different theory, a lack of sexual attraction either altogether or of the hetero nature.

As someone who has been confused by  gender and sexuality the first thought that comes to mind is sexual abuse. I can absolutely say with confidence I have never been abused. I have had one unannounced sexual advance that resulted in some pretty heavy petting, but it was a friend whom I was interested in, she was expressing her interest in me and, well my dad was in the hospital so I was kind of vulnerable so it began with her saying “hi” and after my initial shock of wait a second, I responded in kind by returning the favor.

This was my only explicit sexual experience with a member of the opposite sex, or to be more accurate, any human being entirely. In fact, aside from the two other girls I did some exploratory petting in my early puberty years, that’s about the extent of my sexual exploration. The truth is, I find myself aroused by the idea of women and I certainly would enjoy getting intimate with the right woman, should that opportunity arise, as in we’ve exchanged vows before God and it is our honey moon. Before that, I will remain steadfast in my resolve.

Does that mean I never, explore things on my own. Right, a virgin sure, a prude, fuck no. Now I don’t intend to dig into my personal preferences as that would be odd, even for a tranny in training, so to speak. But, let’s be frank here, I have done my share of exploring, experimenting and discovering. That includes imaginations and fantasies.

This brings me to sexual attraction.

I was too young to remember the first time in my head I used she to refer to my inner voice. I remember playing with my sisters dolls often over my own action figures quite regularly. My parents pushed me into these are boys toys those are girls toys but they also forced me to share my toys so I forced them to make my sisters share theirs and not wanting to be hypocrites, they complied. So if I had to let my sister play with Optimus Prime, she had to share her Rainbow Brite. It was that simple.

I knew inside I wanted to be female. Dress female. Do make up. Go shopping at the mall and gossip with the girls. I did my best to do as much of this as Midwestern society in the late 80s would allow a young “boy” to do so. I was often mistaken for a girl for my longer hair and hanging with so many other girls, which used to offend me publicly but secretly I would go home and smile at the prospect of being mistaken as it meant I could pass for a girl and that tickled me.

The truth is I had the same interests and desires as my sisters, female cousins and their respective girl friends. I liked most of the same things. Oh sure I also liked some stereotypical boy things but I still felt more drawn to feminine stuff and once I began cross dressing regularly, at age 11, I internalized myself as a lesbian because I was a girl, who was attracted to girls.

This goes deeper than that though. You know the girl I said I shared a mutual hand job with earlier? Well she and I actually dated for a while. A brief while but we did. The thing is, she was dating me at the same time she was dating one of my sisters. I won’t share their personal stuff but I know they all introduced me to bi sexual friends over the years. I can say there was some level of curiosity. Not to the point of, throwing caution to the wind and going further than visualizing things, well until the internet feed me a different outlet.

This is where it gets tricky. My first time seeking photographic material on the internet to assist in the stimulation process led me to a site that showed a particular fetish, “chicks with dicks” as it was branded or more specifically trannys. I was wearing women’s underwear during the ordeal so needless to say I wanted to see if there were other “shemales” that were guys like me who were secretly trying to be female. Sure, I discovered actual pornographic material that included the whole spectrum of dirty things a Christian virgin is supposed to avoid.

This is where I get honest. I dug deep into porn for a brief period, no longer than a couple of years before I shook it off. It was not easy. I purposefully chose to stave off an addiction before it started so I took measures to prevent myself from being tempted. That is, I took up a number of hobbies that kept me off the internet.

Do I maintain self control to this day? Actually, and honestly, yes for the most part. I dabble on rare occasions. How rare? I googled pussy one time last year in a moment of weakness. Before that it had been two or more years. I would say total I’ve viewed no more than 3 hours consecutive of pornographic material in my entire life. That’s not to say I didn’t do the things porn is used to do, it just means I trained myself to get by without it. I reduced the need. I practiced self control.

I failed.

I don’t view the graphic material but that doesn’t stop me from visualizing things on my own accord nor does it stop me from acting things out in my privacy when I find the time. Sometimes it’s him, the rat, doing what guys do. Most of the time its Stephanie being more eloquent as a woman would. Yes that means taking the time to explore and enjoy things with music and the like. It takes a tremendous amount of time to get there but like cis gender or biological women for a scientific approach, Stephanie likes to take her time.

But does she, her, or me, us? Do we think about men? Or specifically sexually is there an attraction to the male species?

 

You want the truth. Yes and no. I mean Stephanie is a lesbian but she is also a woman. She has sexual desires that does, stemming from curiosity, involve exploring the male physic as an option. Again without getting into the details, there is a sexual attraction felt on occasions when we, I, am in full girl mode. In fact it’s not our preference but it is, well there. In other words, yes I can picture a scenario where a sexual encounter with a genetic male, trans gender female, or any combination of the different expressions, would be appealing.

Sexual attraction to cis females, absolutely. Trans women, yes. Cis, and that means gay or bi males, not so much.

So yes, as Stephanie the idea is I could be in a sexual relationship with a cis male, cis lesbian female, or a bi sexual cis male but only in Stephanie mode, as in full female, HRT, etc. This is where it gets complicated. You see, even if I could explore these feelings, that Christian thing about being celibate applies to non hetero expressions as well. In other words, even if I could see myself enjoying an encounter with all of the above, I refuse to break that promise of celibacy. I would open the door, and other things, wide to a sexual partner once the marriage ceremony is final and the honey moon commences.

However, as the Catholic church does not allow for gay, bi, or transgender marriages, that leaves me with the reality of seeking a Catholic sexual partner that is okay with the fact I have been or had female desires in the past but knows where I stand going forward. In other words, as long as I remain Christian, which will be for all eternity as I will never denounce my faith, it doesn’t matter, at all, who I may, or may not, fantasize about rubbing genitals with, as it is basically a moot point.

Am I gay. Depends. Stephanie is bisexual for sure. But, I am not always Stephanie. I am not, do not have multiple personalities that I know of, but I do know I, we, are not one person. We are two natures that live, in constant conflict, in the same body.

The mere fact I am self aware of Stephanie and THERAT existing kind of supports my theory we’re not totally on solid ground mentally speaking. That being said. If the Church proclaimed sex was no longer constrained to marriage and or opened the door to exploring other possibilities, I’d be hitting the gym tomorrow and the sports bar right afterwards to find a suitable partner first chance I could. Suitable is still negotiable.

Top ten gaming myths that need to die

There are a lot of false statements floating around the internet regarding video games and gaming myths are the stuff of legend. Some are sensational but true, such as the infamous Atari landfill. Others are flat out misleading, like the complicated history of the SNES to PS1 entanglement. Here are The Spiders Lairs top ten gaming myths that need to die.

1. The Super Nintendo was more powerful than Sega Genesis

This is flat false entirely. It’s not even debatable. They had nearly identical specs. SNES ran at a slower frame rate, clock rate and lower resolution but had slightly better sound chip and more colors. Graphically they were equal number of sprites and sprite complexity. Mode seven is a marketing tool used to trick gamers same as blast processing. Technically mode 7 is scaling and rotation trick. Genesis did this too. It didn’t brag about it like Nintendo and it’s not used as much but could be done. They both relied on chips in the carts to expand the stock capabilities. Sega also relied on add ons such as Sega CD and 32X to extend the life. When you get down to it, they are technically equals in terms of power. They each have advantages and disavantages over the other but they are, for all intents and purposes, equal.

2. Nintendo 64 is more powerful than the PS1

This is misleading. The N64 does use a 74 bit processor and it does have a graphics chip that can render higher polygon counts. However, the PS1 has a much better sound chip, better texture mapping capabilities and with the CD Rom can do pre-rendered graphics (backgrounds and CGI) allowing for impressive visuals not capable on the N64. Technically in a 1:1 comparison they are nearly identical in terms of real world metrics.

If you compare games that were released on both consoles they tend to either be comparable or superior in some ways on the PS1 despite it supposedly being the inferior system. Fanboys chalk this up to difficult development or whatever but that excuse is always thrown out whenever a system doesn’t meet the fan boys expectations. In reality the N64 has some advantages that appear to make it look better but in other ways it is vastly inferior to the PSX. The pros and cons tend to balance them selves out, like above, making these two essentially equals in terms of raw power and real world results.

3. NES saved the games industry from collapse

No. That is over exaggerated. The reality is in 1983 there was an over saturated home console market in North America that caused several retailers to stop selling video games due to the massive mounts of money lost in what has become known as the great crash. Except no contemporary news reports from the time talk about a video game crash. Instead they talk about the decline of home consoles while the PC games industry and arcades were booming. The reality is Atari did lose its parent company massive amounts of money and was sold off, into two separate companies, as a result of a weak market.

It was an isolated crash that narrowly affected just the North American home console market. Admittedly this was the market Nintendo entered however it is somewhat misleading to say they saved the entire games industry single handedly when that is not accurate. Not to belittle what they actually did accomplish but this myth is relatively recent and somewhat exaggerated by certain individuals who profited off its propagation. It happened, the crash, but it was not world wide and it was not all video games everywhere. Yes there were some side effects of the companies that made consoles and arcades going out of business but don’t over state the importance of the NES by exaggerating a fabricated doomsday it certainly did not over come. The console industry was still booming, not just thriving in their home land of Japan.

4. Nintendo was the reason the CD-i existed

It is true Nintendo released a handful of games for the Philips CD-i. It is also true that Nintendo backed out of a deal with Sony to release the Play Station as a CD-Rom add on to the SNES. It is NOT True that the CD-i was a by product of that deal. The CD-i was released BEFORE the SNES in some markets. The SNES was released in the US in 1991. The CD-i was released in the US also in 1991 and world wide in 1992. However, Sony had a hand in the development of the CD-i, a partnership with Philips and they even implemented technology from it in the Playstation and future DVD technology that they were also involved in.

The true story is in the middle. Nintendo did have a deal with Sony to produce a CD Rom upgrade known as Play Station, in 1993, after the CD-i was already on the market. Philips never intended CD-i, or Compact Disc Interactive, to be a game console. However what happened was Nintendo signed a deal to make some educational games and spin offs using their characters on the CD-i (and Apple computers but nobody every brings that up!) in an attempt to show the company wasn’t entertainment only as they were fighting the Federal Government over the soon to be created ESRB.

Nintendo was trying to show they were more than a toy company by making edutainment games and they wanted some games on CD-i to help that image and Philips wanted them to bolster the games sie of things. None of this was related at all to Sony and that deal. CD-i was developed jointly with Sony, and Sony made components for it and even helped design the Video CD format that was USED by Philips for CD-i. Now it is true that Sony executives were upset that Nintendo broke the deal with them but that still had nothing to do with Cd-i. It was a separate deal that just happened around the same time as CD-i so people conflated the two.

5. Atari Jaguar is a true 64 bit console

This needs to die. It has been disproved by countless articles. The Jaguar is a hot mess, that much is true. It does feature 64 bit components but, here is the deal, regardless of bus speed or GPU, it is NOT capable of processing 64 bit code.

Now related to this, the Xbox is a 32 Bit console and it is more powerful than the true 64 bit Nintendo Game Cube. Bits were a marketing tool that confused consumers and retailers. The Jaguar was on par with the Sega 32X in terms of raw power and real world performance. The bits aren’t important. Still, it is NOT a true 64 bit console but you can call it 64 bit if you like.

6. Sega CD was a flop

This is misleading. Technically Sega CD was not viewed by Sega as a console. It was not intended to replace the Genesis. It was an accessory. It was an expansion. It sold a fair number of units, made Sega a decent profit and was fully supported during the time span Sega intended. The console’s life was, in fact, cut short but like 32X, Genesis and even Game Gear this was NOT because they were failures in the market. On the contrary each were quite successful at the time of their demise.

Due to some complicated accounting mistakes the Sega Saturn was bleeding money and Sega needed to get that under control. As a technology company they could not save face and discontinue their newer, more powerful system to keep its more profitable consoles on the market. They made the, very well publicized mistake of discontinuing all products that weren’t Saturn in an attempt to prop up a sinking ship.

There are countless accounts of this being the reason they were desperate to get into Dreamcast so quickly. It was their debt that cost them their console market, not their machines being failures. If you look at the sales figures and profit margins Saturn was their only true failure in the console market. Of course failure is a relative term but here it doesn’t mean losing the made up console war only nerds care about, it refers to success by the companies metric and by the metrics Sega used, Sega CD was a resounding success at the time. It failed to save the company, so I suppose it could be deemed a failure in that regard.

7. DVD would have saved the Game Cube

This is a complicated variation of the PS2 was only successful because it played DVDs. The actual facts are very hard to get into. A lot of reasons went into the Game Cube being a failure. And this was a failure by Nintendo’s standard they’ve said as much at the time and since then. It failed to meet expectations, it failed to stop a challenger from coming into the market and over taking them, it even failed to turn a profit despite what fanboys will say. The company was hurting during the Game Cube years. They became desperate and turned into an ultra conservative company in terms of technology.

The Game Cube was not as powerful as some claim but it did have some advantages, some slightly exaggerated, over the PS2. However, even if it had been capable of playing DVD’s, it would have ended up costing more money and there was still no guarantee it would have sold better. The Game Cube had strong third party support up front and it had solid 1st party titles at first but a series of missteps by Nintendo turned their core audience away and they lost a lot of momentum early on. In hindsight it is remembered fondly but at the time owning a Game Cube subjected one to ridicule in the gaming community. DVD’s wouldn’t have saved it, in fact it might have introduced a whole bunch of additional issues too complicated for this article.

8. The Wii won the XX console generation!

This is so utterly stupid it’s not worth getting into. First the concept of console generations is ridiculous to say the least. However let’s unpack it. The Wii was released in 2006, days after the PS3. However, it was not competing on the same hardware level nor was it targeting the same customers. Saying the Wii beat the PS3 is like saying the VCR beat 8 track because? Technically they were both game consoles but they were competing for different customers in different markets and offered totally different experiences. The system sold a respectable 100 million consoles, but it did not win that generation. It competed against itself for a market it claimed all to itself. The PS3 and Xbox 360 competed for an entirely separate market and nobody “won” that generation it was basically a draw.

9. Wii U failed because of the name

This is a relatively new and utterly nonsense claim.

The Wii U was a fantastic system with a handful, very small mind you, selection of great games. The vast majority of games, however, were garbage. There were a ton of indie games, digital only, that were of varying degrees of quality, except none, or very, very few were true exclusives. The system was running out dated ports of older games lacking features their contemporary counterparts touted. It failed because of that, being over priced for what it was (a last-gen console dressed in next gen clothes) and featured and expensive, clunky and mostly useless tablet style controller that most gamers hated. Die hard Nintendo loyalists praised it but most rejected it and thus the console failed.

The name was a joke but it didn’t cost it the sales. It has been suggested the blue ocean grandmas that made the Wii such a house hold success were confused by the name and thus didn’t buy it. This is misleading. Those customers bought the Wii for 1 game, Wii Sports, and treated it like a DVD player or similar appliance, in other words they never had any intention of upgrading. Fewer Nintendo gamers and traditional gamers bought the Wii U than the failed Game Cube and that name was not confusing to most. Well, except my dad who confused it for an Xbox but that rarely yielded any real world troubles outside occasional corrections in public.

10. Sega stopped making hardware and only makes Sonic games

This is flat false. Sega still makes hardware, in fact more so than even Nintendo in a way. They have always been the undisputed king of arcades and they do still make slot machines and casino games. However, they are pretty much it besides a handful of other companies. They still make plenty of games for other home consoles, usually under different brands they acquired over the years. The truth is they have not stopped making games, in fact they are making more games now than in a long time, and very few are Sonic, no more than in the decades since his introduction anyways. The reality is the did stop making home consoles, technically, although this is not entirely accurate either as they do still license their Genesis and Master System technology to other firms to produce in countries outside the United States. The reality is they still make games, they still make arcade machines and they still make hardware, just not in the same way they did in the 90s. Does that mean a Dreamcast 2 is a possibility? No and it shouldn’t. But they could re-enter the home console space but they’d have to make it a budget console that relied on selling digital copies of their catalog and that’s not likely to happen any time soon.

There you have it ten gaming myths that need to die. While some of these are based on ones perspective, the undeniable facts are basically each of these perceived ideas differ wildly from the actual reality.

Contemplating the Catholic Ministry

It is no secret I felt God’s calling when I was young. I converted from pagan (witch) to Baptist when I was 12 and basically never looked back. I became very enthusiastic about getting into the ministry at the age of 16. I became a counselor at bible camp and taught vacation bible school two different years. Then I shifted into music trying to break into the “Christian rap” scene. I quickly dropped the Christian part and tried to become more “street.” When that failed I gave up the ministry and walked away.

A little over a year ago I began my journey to becoming a full Catholic. That journey itself was quite an amazing experience for me. It helped me get closer to God than I had been in years, helped me find a loving church family I enjoy worshiping with and it helped me realize my desire to serve the Lord is as alive as ever.

I recently felt the calling to do more. As a result I am looking to clean up my act a little and start over fresh But that is only a small part of the big changes coming in my life. I have already reached out to and been invited to meet with a priest to discuss going into the vocation. There are a number of things to consider when contemplating that path as a Catholic that a protestant (or Evangelical) doesn’t necessarily have to consider. Beyond that there is this feeling I can’t escape that has me wanting to do more to serve. I won’t know what options are available until after I have my meeting with the priest. I am really hoping he will find something I can do to help out.

I am also seriously considering writing a book covering my conversion experience and the journey I took. I believe it would be a fascinating tale for those who have curiosity how a Baptist can turn Catholic. It’s obviously an experience a lot of people have had but I think I can write mine in a way it would speak to people.

None of this means I will completely remove my website, channel or podcast from the internet. I do believe I might try some re-branding or even just putting certain things in the past while I move towards a fuller life.

I don’t have much else to report at this time other than I have spent a great deal of time the last month reading articles on the Faith and watching hours of YouTube videos on the teachings of the Church, church history and the like. I’ve really fallen in love with the Church Jesus left behind to protect his people all over again. The closer I get to the Lord the more my faith grows in him. Stay Cool.

The winding road from paganism to Catholicism

As the season of Advent begins and the Christmas season is in full swing I wanted to recall the long and complicated journey it took for me to go from pagan to Catholic.

My earliest exposure to religion came in the form of an awkward costume party my non-Christian parents sent me and my sisters to. I was in second grade. We were invited to a church Halloween party.

Or, at least we thought it was a Halloween party. Turns out it was one of those anti-pagan substitute “harvest” celebrations some churches put on to distance themselves from the pagan origins of certain aspects of the Halloween festivities. I said it was awkward for a reason.

My friends and I went in our costumes we intended to wear while trick-or-treating. There was a witch, a vampire, a princess and a Jason Vorhees among others in our group. We stood there in the church standing out like a sore thumb surrounded by shepherds, wise men and other “Christian” symbols like angels and others I didn’t recognize at the time.

My actual religious belief at the time was simple. I knew in my mind there was a God out there and there were likely angels, demons and other spirits. I had read plenty of books on various mythologies from Greek and Roman to Celtic and Norse and even some Anglican Arthurian legends through in the mix. My beliefs were not well defined.

I started exploring paganism through dark magic. I wanted to be a warlock. I desired to learn the dark arts. Not in a cartoon or comic book way, no I was a legit pagan seeking to master the spiritual forces as best as I could. I was deeply attracted to the occult and its temptations of power and lust.

Needless to say this led me down a path where I was reading books on Satanism, witch craft, demons, ghosts and magic, all sorts of magic. I never became all to proficient in spell casting during this time but I developed a strong connection to the spiritual world that has been with me every since.

Early Beliefs

I was in the first grade when I took it upon myself to make my earliest plea to whichever deity would respond.

At an early age I knew internally I desired to be a girl more than anything else in the world. Thus my prayers were intensely focused on begging any God to please let me wake up tomorrow a girl so I can stop being a boy. I hated being a boy more than anything. I didn’t know which god to pray to so I prayed a generic pray to “god” without defining it.

I also dabbled in fairy tales like wishing upon a star and other incantations children learn through various means. I believed in ghosts, UFOs, Big Foot, Dragons, Leprechauns, fairies, monsters, demons, angels and other general supernatural phenomenon including vampires and werewolves.

I took the broad approach of accepting anything until disproved.

When I was around the age of 10 my parents began sending me and my sisters to this church every Sunday. It was a way to get us out of the house apparently.

During my time there I listened intently to the Sunday school teachers. I was supplementing their teachings I learned from Bible stories with other mythologies I read and mixing in stuff from horror movies such as The Omen and A Nightmare on Elm Street, among others. I quickly developed a broad sense of all religions had some nuggets of truth I just didn’t know how to define my own beliefs.

My Conversion experience

I was 11 years old. It was a stormy night. My dad had been listening to the rock station jamming to a popular Led Zeppelin tune. The weather caused the station to go out and Charles Stanley came on in its place. He was in the middle of a sermon preaching how so many people think being a good person will get them to Heaven. He gave the fire and brimstone message many Evangelical preachers are fond of.

During the course of the sermon, my dad being too drunk to change the channel, broke down into tears and prayed the sinners prayer giving his life to the Lord right there. Having been deeply interested in the supernatural his words shook me too.

Seeing that incident, witnessing the instant change in my dad who got cleaned up the next day and took us all to the first church he drove to. I, too, prayed the prayer that night choosing to devote my life to the God that made it through to my dad.

It was a life changing experience for my entire family. I learned, from talking to my mom after dad’s conversion, she had always been faithful and kept praying God would intervene and save my dad. That was enough for me. I was in. God was real and I now had all the proof I needed.

I didn’t make my profession of faith and become baptized until a year later after I turned 12. My devotion to the Lord and the Christian faith was immediate, but my journey to understanding what all that entailed was going to take much longer.

Adolescences intervenes 

I started cross dressing before puberty kicked in. It was a way for me to promote my own mental health. I knew in my mind I had to present as a girl every chance I could. This put me on a path of resisting social outings in order to seek every chance I could to sit at home, alone in the dark in my bedroom in a dress so I could feel like myself.

I also began dabbling in playing the game Dungeons and Dragons as well as listening to hard core gangsta rap, heavy metal rock music and eventually discovering Marilyn Manson and Garbage both quickly becoming favorites of mine. All this was taking place during my dads deepening quest to find us the right Church to teach us whatever it was he thought would be best for our spiritual well being.

Of course it was a weird time where things that were okay were suddenly a sin then okay again. That constant back and forth began to drive me nuts. I was perfectly fine devoting my life to Jesus. I was baptized by this time so my devotion to Scripture began to shape my views on life.

I was mostly attending Evangelical and protestant churches at this time. I wasn’t long before we began running into anti-catholic preachers warning us of the dangers of Catholicism. Now I was more of the belief that we were all Christians and some had different practices so I never bought into that belief.

As someone who was deeply invested in paganism before my Christian conversion I dismissed any notion that Catholics were just pagans pretending to be Christians, I knew better. But I never did fully explore the Catholic faith.

Suicide strikes my world

I was 16 when I made my first attempt to take my life. It’s kind of a long story how I got there but it happened at a Church camp. I left the Bible Study and walked towards the side of the mountain proclaiming I was going to throw myself off the cliff and die. I was under the belief that I was ensure an eternal resting place in Heaven as the doctrine of Once Saved, Always Saved was being taught at the church I was attending at the time.

Not long after another fried of mine succeeded in ending his life where I had failed. This, of course shook my faith for the first time and I had to begin questioning everything I knew.

I hadn’t learned much in the way of doctrine beyond a few basics. I knew about the Gospel message of repentance and faith. I knew the Be attitudes. I knew about the sinners prayer and the Romans Road to Salvation. I had a basic understanding of the pretribulation rapture. I spent most of my time obsessing on interpreting biblical prophecy and less on Christian living.

I knew about the Armor of God and the Works of the Flesh so I had a rudimentary understanding of the Christian faith. But I never explored any deeper out of frustration with all the different interpretations. I stuck closely to the least controversial topics that the majority of Christians agreed on and shied away from the deeper topics, intentionally.

Catholicism clashes with my beliefs: Round One

I moved into an apartment with a friend of mine that I grew close to who had a spare room at a time I was fighting with my parents. It ended up being one of those situations where I ended up making things worse for everyone involved but I can’t gloss over this part.

I had already gone through my brief foray into producing “Christian Rap” music to the point I put on a concert for my friends that resulted in me preaching damnation to a bunch of Catholics.

They were not impressed. One came up to me and said dude we appreciate your enthusiasm but we’re already saved, we’re Christian. I rebuked him saying no you are Catholic, that’s the same as worshiping the devil. I was wrong to but I didn’t know any better yet.

Needless to say I was working hard on converting my Catholic roommate and any of his friends as I could. What I succeeded in doing was turning one former Catholic into a Mormon and then giving into temptation for a night of drinking the resulted in the death of another good friend.

What really ended up happening was I discovered I was deflecting my repressed transgender bisexual feelings into a scathing condemnation of others in order to bury my own flaws and try to build myself up spiritually speaking by winning over other converts. It was how I stocked up on the Holy Spirit if you will.

2008 changes everything

I was  a devout Christian raised in the Midwest with very conservative values. It was no stretch for me to pledge my loyalty to the political ideology that closely aligned with that upbringing. Everything changed in 2008. I was white, sure, but my friends were not. I was the only white kid in a ton full of Hispanics, African Americans and other non whites.

For me, the election of Barack Obama, while certainly a blow to my political leanings at the time, was a major victory culturally speaking for those I cared about. This began the wavering period where I started to question everything I had previously held as firm.

It was one year later, in 2009, that I began applying to colleges. I had dropped out of high school, with no education floated from job to job amassing a pretty lousy credit score and thus it was not an easy road getting into a decent university.

By the middle of 2010 I finally found a university that would accept me and offer me student loans to begin my education.

Catholicism clashes with my beliefs: Round Two

I was in only my first semester of college. I was taking an art appreciation class and an American History course. Both of these began to challenge my long held beliefs on the origins of my then Christian denominational allegiance.

I was challenged with the reality that before the Reformation, for the most part, all Christians were basically Catholic. There were some underlying complications to this but it was an unavoidable fact I had to grapple with.

During this time I began exploring the Catholic faith. I also began learning more about the Eastern Orthodox Church which I had always assumed was just a branch of Roman Catholicism.

By this time my years of video games, specifically role playing games, and Dungeons and Dragons reminded me that there was a very strong interest in my mind to explore the medieval period in Church history.

It was also the time I started to really question everything I thought I knew about the Bible and Christianity. No matter how much I looked for an excuse to label Catholics as a false branch of Christianity I couldn’t escape the calling.

How an Anglican changed my mind

Last year I started a new chapter in my life. Aside from starting the journey to accept my transgender identity I had been struggling with I also began realizing that I had never found a church family or single denomination that worked for me.

I spent all my life moving from town to town, state to state bouncing around from one branch of Christianity to another. I had resisted any that even resembled Catholic at all. I knew I couldn’t find the right church for me just it couldn’t be Catholic.

I started working at a new job where I met an Episcopalian who invited me to his Anglo-Catholic style church. I was instantly scared away by the very mystical liturgy the church practiced. It reinforced my fear these were pagans pretending to be Christian.

I went home and prayed about it. This whole time I had never wavered on one central truth, my belief that Jesus was in fact the Son of God and the Savior of Mankind. Nothing was going to shake that. Even if I struggled with defining sin and living with how to grow spiritually, nothing would ever shake my belief in Jesus as my Lord.

After meeting with the Anglican priest over the course of several months and talking to some Catholic co-workers I did some intense research using Catholic Answers as a starting point. I slowly settled all my fears and doubts. I prayed intensely about it and decided to take the plunge.

I signed up for the Right of Christian Initiation of Adults at my local Catholic Parish and by the time the Easter Vigil was nearing I went to the priest and request an exception to the year long wait. I was anxious to join the Church and complete my conversion to a devoted follower of Christ that I started all those years ago.

In my mind I struggled to settle issues I didn’t quite fully understand. But that wasn’t what mattered. The first time I participated in the Holy Sacrament of Reconciliation I felt an instant healing of my broken soul. The Lord assured me, through his Holy Spirit, I found my way back into the comfort of his flock and the safety of his Church.

The first moment I received the Holy Host in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist I felt the real presence of Jesus’s Body in my soul. I have never felt the power of the Holy Spirit, the blessings of God nearly as much as I have since coming home to the Holy Roman Catholic Church that Jesus founded over 2,019 years ago.

What does the future hold?

I didn’t think I would get here where I am today. Finally, at peace with my Faith and a growing desire to get closer to God renewed my spirit.

It took me watching a Netflix series that focused on actual devil worshipers to really wake me up to the reality that despite my early affirmation of Faith int he Lord , I needed to get my life right so I could begin to not only get closer to God through prayer and Bible Study but also to better serve him.

Today I proudly introduce myself as Catholic after spending over three decades wandering this earth trying to define my religious beliefs.  I have recently signed up for a number of opportunities within my Parish family and I look forward to growing in Christ daily. Stay Cool.

New column on the way!

Stephanie Bri is here to stay. As a result I fully intend to write a column entirely from her perspective in the near future. Obviously I’ve been letting her voice take over more lately which has been very helpful in getting me aligned properly.

It won’t mean much but what I will do is create a column just for Stephanie. It will be a combination of gaming and nerdy topic gossip, rumors and such with a mix of editorial and some fashion/cosplay advice. Basically the bitch is out of the closet and she’s going to be taking over this site. Stay Cool.