Painting With Shotguns XXIX, Part II The Second The Sequel The Revenge

Man, who knew that I’d have cause to type up a second Painting With Shotguns post for the day?

(First one here.)

I’m coming back for two quick topics that are actually one topic: Dudes Of Legend and April Fool’s Day.

Ready? Splurch. Down and dirty, no graphics, here goes.

Dudes Of Legend: How To Be Fucking Awesome

So, Eddy Webb had this idea.

And it was to do an April Fool’s Day White Wolf product.

Except, it wasn’t going to be a traditional, “Oh! We fooled you!” kind of gig, it was going to be a kind of gag product, except the real joke is, it’s a gag product with real, totally-gonzo, over-the-top rules.

And I wrote it.

Contained within, you will find actual rules for:

  • Unicorns.
  • Double dildos as weapons.
  • Trenchcoats.
  • Schoolgirls.
  • Sacred penises.
  • Divine vaginas.
  • Katanas.
  • Desert Eagles.
  • Blumpies.
  • And so much more!

(Yes, I just said “blumpies.” Yes, there now exist mechanic rules for receiving a blumpy. I’m just putting that out there.)

I don’t know that I’ve ever had more fun writing a goddamn World of Darkness product. I was able to do whatever I wanted. And they signed off on it! It’s like, the world went crazy, and I was made its king.

All I can say is, go, check out the free (and significantly less profane) version. And then suck it up and buy the real deal. You will not be fucking disappointed. This is the product that changes everything. This is the product that boots your asshole into your mouth and makes you gag on your own poo. This is the product that fills your heart with glee, and then rips the glee out and stuffs it in a lady’s handbag and beats you to death with it.

From the opening text…

‘No, no, I get it. You think we’re joking. I hear you: “Meh-ha-hee-ha, oh, trenchcoats and strippers, it’s an April Fool’s Day thing from those wacky White Wolf guys again. They’re probably drunk on mezcal, or high on the dust ground from the bones of a long-lost subterranean humanoid race.” Drunk? Yes. High on the bone dust of a fallen hobbit species? Duh. But we’re not fucking around. You put that out of your head. You put it out of your head, or we’ll kick it out. With boots. With fat, clunky steel-toe construction boots.’

DUDES OF LEGEND: HOW TO BE FUCKING AWESOME awaits.

Now, on the subject of April Fool’s Day…

For Writers, April Fool’s Day Is A Seductive Trap

Let me tell you a story.

This morning, I awoke and saw that a fellow writer who I loosely follow posted some Very Good News to Twitter — not just to friends and followers, but to the world at large with the #writing hashtag. So it went wide, this news (and it continues to, actually, through RTs and such).

I clicked. I saw the good news, which wasn’t crazy over-the-top (“I was made Poet Laureate of the Moon And Its Many Provinces!”), and I was actually happy for this writer. I said so publicly. So did many others, though I still hadn’t had my coffee and I didn’t read deep enough to see that an earlier comment had already nailed it:

Hey! It’s an April Fool’s Joke.

Ha ha ha!

Except, kind of not.

Now I feel like an asshole. I particularly feel like a duped shithead in regards to this writer. Right? I felt good for him, and now I feel like a chump. Now there exists an inadvertent sympathy — like mystical ley lines — connecting my feeling like a dickhead and this writer and his work (as his joke was about his work).

Newsflash, writers: you do not want this.

Let’s say that your joke reaches 10 people.

Let’s say that eight think it was funny.

Let’s say that two now feel like fuckheads.

Do you want that? Is your amusement worth alienating 10-20% of your audience? An audience who might want to one day give you money in addition to attention? I jolly well suspect not. Hey, good for you, you made you a joke. At my expense. And now I’m kind of annoyed.

Does that make me a sore loser?

Of course it does. But that’s not on me. That’s on you, because you’re the writer who opened the door for your audience to feel that way.

A great many people — me included! — feel like April Fool’s Day is basically the Worst Day On The Internet. My morning on this day usually consists of me falling for three or four pieces of shit jokes and then the rest of the day consists of me wading through jokes that now won’t fool me because I’m on to you, Internet, I’m on to your shittiness.

It is the best day to stay off the Internet.

So, as a writer, don’t fall prey to that. April Fool’s Jokes work great between friends or colleagues. But you and me? Or me and the other writers out there? Most of us, we’re not friends. You punk my ass, it’s at my expense, and it’s possibly going to make me feel stupid. (And yes, that is generally how this day works, relying on making others feel like dipshits. “Hey, believe this thing!” “Oh, okay! Holy shit, thing!” “Hahaha, you believed it! You are a gullible fuckface!” It’s like the Internet version of a swirly.)

You want to have fun, do it up.

But don’t be surprised if I walk away from you feeling like an asshole.

18 comments

  • On Dudes of Legend, you did a fantastic job. I’ve been hearing nothing but hilarity both internally and on the Internets. Congrats!

    On April Fool’s Day, I personally tend to approach it more like Opposite Day (as you noted here). Instead of saying “Haha, I fooled you!” I prefer to look at it as a day where anything is possible, where the ludicrous is king and the serious is secondary. For one day, everything is upside down, and I think we need that as a culture and a community — not to be made to feel like a fool, but to force us to look at things differently and let go.

    To be fair, I’m usually the first person I’ll mock and make a fool of on this day.

  • As with art, April Fools day is something people can suck at. But the peopel who don’t make it entirely worthwhile for me.

    (and, I must point out, the argument about reader reaction could also be applied to, say, profanity, sexually explicitly material, or photoshopped images of Abbytar, which is to say I don’t think it carries a lot of weight as an abstract. I think, more practically, it’s like this: Don’t swear if you can’t swear good, and don’t fool is you can’t fool good.)

    -Rob D.

  • I’m reading through Dudes of Legend and giggling like a schoolgirl. Nicely done, and that really is the coolest sidebar in the history of *any* game.

    April Fool’s Day is all right — on the one hand, you pretty much can’t trust anything you read on the Interwebs that day. On the other hand, what else is new? And hey, I get cake, and cake is great.

  • April 1 isn’t my least favorite day of the year — but it’s close.

    Totally over-the-top stuff (like Google renaming itself to Topeka) gets filtered out rather quickly, and if it’s well-intentioned and sweet (like, um, Google renaming itself to Topeka), I don’t mind it. I also don’t mind semi-awesome stuff like the Thinkgeek Tauntaun sleeping bag that fooled me and thousands of others. Because when we realized it was a joke, we still wanted it — and they DID IT FOR REAL.

    99% of the crap out there just wastes my time and doesn’t actually turn out funny. It’s kinda like somebody said about “socialists”: the only thing worse than alleged humor is ineffectual humor.

    Today, I hate you, Internet. HATE.

    • @Kyle:

      Yeah, I think you called it — over-the-top or sweet or well-intentioned or, y’know, actually funny? That helps. I don’t feel like a dumbass if you make me laugh.

      Otherwise, you’re basically pranking strangers. Which I kinda don’t recommend? “Hey, I went to the grocery store, and I just lied to an old lady as to where they keep the Enema Nozzles. She’s up at the lunch counter now asking them where their Enema Nozzles are! Hahaha! Hilarious. For my next trick, I’m going to push her down some steps! Old ladies are an endless source of humor. Silly strangers!”

      DUDES OF LEGEND tries to be a gag product that isn’t exploiting people’s wishes or expectations.

      At least, I hope.

      I think people are liking it so far.

      I mean, shit, it’s like, a dollar.

      — c.

  • I don’t know what a blumpie is.

    But the sheer joyous glee in your tone when you talk about blumpies scares me.

    So I don’t think I really want to know what a blumpie is.

    Also, yay pingback! Thanks muchly, Magic Talking Beardhead.

  • So, I started reading Dude and feel like I need to dig through boxes for the old ten’s. THIS is beautiful.
    And I thought it was “blumpkin,” rather than “blumpie,” but I’m game for regional differences. You may also want to work a “Rusty Trombone” or “Rusty Beartrap.”

  • For a round-up of some science-related AFD stories, http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2010/04/a-day-of-april-fools-science.html It’s handy, because I was taken in by the time-space synaesthete story.

    Some stories I enjoy. Google’s are often over-the-top enough that it’s easy to see the joke. ThinkGeek’s products are generally pretty funny. The My Little Pony RPG WotC did a couple years ago was funny.

    Personally, I think it would be much, much better if all these damn joke articles would just include, as the last line, “April Fool’s!” That way, I can appreciate the absurdity, satire, or whatever, but not feel like an idiot when I retweet it like it’s an actual story. CastleTV.net did a pretty good one this year. (The story was that Nathan Fillion was being forced to step down now that Castle had been renewed, because he was contractually prevented from having a show run more than two seasons. There is an attached video of Nathan’s reaction, which then says “April’s Fool” at the end.)

    I think I have to agree with Rob (quel surprise). AFD is specifically about practical jokes. Some people get that humor. Some people don’t. Some of us feel like we’re Carrie, drenched in pig’s blood, when we realize we’ve been had.

    I need to go telekinetically eviscerate some websites now….

    • @Lugh:

      I was *totally* taken in my the time-space synesthesia story. Fascinating because literally I’ve been studying synesthesia for a couple days, and I was like, “Awesome!” (Hell, I even linked to it in the first PWS post today.) And then I was like, “Ohhh. I’m an idiot on the Internet again.”

      — c.

      • @Rob D:

        You’re right that a writer can be concerned over everything he puts out there. Hell, a writer can even be concerned over the genre in which he chooses to write, because, say, more people are going to buy a romance novel than a literary novel, and so you turn them off.

        Further, politics, religion, profanity, all that can suffer from audience resistance. Though I’d argue it could also help you gain audience — the right kind of audience for your work, if that’s what your work looks like.

        Me, I make a calculated risk talking about all the stuff I talk about, but frankly, it’s in my work already. Even if I didn’t blog this way, my novels, my game work, my TV and film work — it’s all got an edge. My novel is profane. The TV work at present features some… interesting political ideas. The film is profane and horror, to boot, which can turn people off. Hell, look at DUDES OF LEGEND. It’s goddamn filthy. Sodden with muck! Oozing with literary syphilis. Possibly one of the dirtiest things I’ve ever written — or, at least, the most *concentrated* of filthfulness (not-a-word).

        That said, I look at the “I pulled a joke on you!” as a different thing.

        It excluded and risks wantonly. Unless you’re a humor writer, I’m not sure “likes to be exploited for my amusement!” counts as a proper audience restriction. It has nothing to do with content and everything to do with approach.

        Now, I’ll grant you — while I sound like someone with, say, zero sense of humor, if a joke is genuinely funny, I’ll laugh. The thing that took me in this morning wasn’t funny. It was just a lie. A lie that got me emotionally invested in that person’s success. I felt good for them, and then I was made to see it was a joke (on the readers), and then I didn’t feel so good anymore. All before 7AM. Awesome. Hey, fuck that.

        If it’s a joke that manages to be self-referential and self-deprecating or, barebones, funny, I maybe might be taken in by it and still feel like a shithead, but at least I can remain in the audience. But if you just make me feel like a schmuck, hey, I’m done. I feel enough like a schmuck in my day-to-day. I don’t need strangers on the Internet for that.

        — c.

  • Aw, I figure it’s a fun day. Ya punk. Ya get punked. Whatevs. Not like you’re waking up with a tranny.

    • No, Steve, I woke up as a tranny.

      AS a tranny.

      A tranny sans kidneys.

      So, yeah, ha ha ha.

      Enjoy the day.

      Bastard.

      This dialysis machine is very loud. So is my new vagina.

      — c.

  • Dudes of Legend reminds me of something I’ve been thinking for a while. We, as a pop culture collective, have largely moved on to a sort of Post Post Modernism, a post Irony sort of world. (Without going so far as to endorse The New Sincerity, because for some reason it just makes me want to punch people.)

    If you look at pretty much every comic I’ve worked on, they’re like this. Why do all of the original heroes in Clockworks wear goggles on their head? Because I’m poking fun at the steampunk archtype. Also, goggles look cool. Thorton and Oliver are one one hand parodies of the Badass Cool Guy and Mysterious Sneaky Guy, and also played pretty much completely straight. I’m not really setting out to do a parody or lampoon of steampunk or rpg or comic book conventions, but I do enjoy making fun of the ones that I enjoy and know are silly.

    And that’s what Dudes of Legend reminds me of. For the most part it’s not “Damn, those people with trenchcoats and katanas and twin dessert eagles were dumb, let’s laugh at them.” it’s “Damn, trenchcoats and katanas and twin dessert eagles were dumb, but also fucking rad! Let’s have fun!” It’s a pretty modern mode of thought I think, a kind of evolution from straightforward enjoyment to winking mockery/ironic enjoyment to some sort of beast where you admit that something is dumb and uncool, but also that it’s pretty sweet.

  • Shawn: Exactly. That’s one stipulation I had for Chuck — the rules had to actually WORK on some level. (The same thing I did for ExXxalted, actually.) On the one hand, it’s utterly ridiculous and crazy, and it should be that way for an April Fool’s joke. On the other hand, I’ve played in games like that, and I had fun with them. I probably wouldn’t play in much more than a one-shot game of Dudes of Legend personally, but I also won’t say it wouldn’t be a hell of a lot of fun, either.

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