Journal Thrive

Why My Heel Turn is Inevitable

At some point there’s going to be a heel turn. There are so many things, and so many people, that I’m fed up with. I’ve been pushed to the very edge of civility, by uncivil people who somehow are allowed to get away with being rude, crude, and willfully ignorant. At some point I’m going to cut loose, and it’s not going to be pretty, and I’m going to end up as the villain of the story.

Some of this springs from a personal theory I call the Transitive Property of Asshole. In pointing out to someone that they are being an asshole, you somehow become the asshole. Understandably, people don’t like being held accountable and lash out. Pointing out that people are being rude is, somehow, even more rude. Whataboutism comes into play at this point, where your own shortcomings and past failures are brought up as if that somehow makes the other person’s action acceptable. Punching a Nazi is treated is if it’s more offensive than being an actual Nazi. I’m pretty sure that, by definition, having issues with people who are against fascism puts you squarely on the side of the fascists.

I just can’t with people any more.

Since tribalism is now firmly established in the United States, I have to be the villain to someone. The whole “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” mentality is so juvenile. If you’re not clearly us, you must be them, and there is no subtlety or nuance, no shades of gray. Anyone not a brand-name Conservative is a Communist. If you’re not a leftist, which include a lot of Democrats in spite of what Republicans think, then you’re a fascist. Those who aren’t Evangelical Christians are Satanists, mic drop, time to hook up with the pool boy. 

So if these are the rules, and I’m going to be a villain to someone no matter what I do, I might as well lean into it.

Of course I’m joking.

At least, that’s my intention. The other day I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to catch a fly. It would not leave me alone, and it was annoying the hell out of me. Rather than swat him, smash him, kill him, I tried to guide him to the nearest open window to guide him out. Why kill him? He’s bring a fly. That’s what he does. I finally managed to trap him under a plastic container lid, took him out onto the patio, and released him.

I said I was going to turn heel. I didn’t say I’d be particularly good at it.

Why My Heel Turn is Inevitable

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.


A Statement on Professional Wrestling

This is the last one of these that I’m doing. Yes, during this pandemic professional wrestling has been a main source of entertainment and escapism for me. So yes, I am fully aware of everything that’s going on, the promotions that are involved, and the individuals being called out. I’m not going to recite the litany of allegations, or link to the stories, or explain to those not in the loop. Still, having posted positive things about pro wrestling relatively recently I have been asked about it. I am expected to denounce evil. So here’s my statement on professional wrestling.

Of course I believe women. Yes, I want these companies to do the right thing. Naturally I want people to be held accountable for their actions. 

These things should go without saying. This fucking world, that a fan has to engage in performative morality. That I need to state the obvious, that bad things are bad, so no one gets mad at me. Again, I don’t know these people, I’m not aware of what they’re doing behind the scenes or in their private lives. Not until the rest of the world finds out about these things.

The net effect is that all of this keeps pushing me deeper into my hermitage. It just becomes easier with each passing day to withdraw from the world. The awfulness is injury enough, but the insult of reducing these things to gossip and drama is well past the line for me. I can see a time coming when I just go silent, because there’s nothing left to talk about, because everything and everyone has been outed as terrible.

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May 28 2020: Victorian Novels and Barbed-Wire Matches

May 28 2020: At this point in my life I don’t care about having a consistent public image. There’s no through line, no story thread. I’m not worried about keeping my interests themed or easily explainable. There’s no way to reconcile my love of both effete Victorian novels and barbed-wire matches, the most brutal form of professional wrestling.  All that’s important, especially under the current circumstances, is finding the things that bring a little joy into my life and embracing them.

Of course, there is a through line. It’s an emotional one. As humans we are complex creatures. We have moods. That’s how I can be reading the complete works of William Makepeace Thackeray one moment,  and watching Mance Warner and Jimmy Havoc trying to murder one another the next. Sometimes I need refined, sensitive, and well-articulated expressions of the human condition. Other times I just need the excitement of two guys beating the hell out of one another.

We can talk about which of these is highbrow or lowbrow. Society can label one as socially acceptable while the other isn’t. Different groups will look down on one or the other, for their own cultural reasons. That fascinates me. I wouldn’t recommend a steady diet of either, personally. Both are part of the human experience, though. There’s room for both, in moderation.

May 28 2020

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  • Today is Day 72 in isolation. 
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By Request: Why I Enjoy MLW Fusion

Admittedly, it took me a while to warm up to Major League Wrestling (MLW). I’m glad I gave it a chance. Their show, MLW Fusion, initially struck me as a cross between a style of wrestling I call “MMA cosplay” and ECW-wannabe hardcore. There was a lot of “real sports” seriousness coupled with what seemed to be a drive to make everything as grimly violent as possible. That’s not my to my personal tastes.

Over time, though, I got to see more variety. The name of the show, Fusion, is meant to reflect the notion that they showcase all manner of wrestling styles. Rather than doing a mixture in every show, it sort of comes in waves. As of this writing, for example, they’re doing a crossover series with AAA, so it’s heavy on luche libre.

This is because of how they film it. Apparently they’ll shoot a month or more worth of episodes over a weekend, all at one live event venue. They’ll handle all of those storylines, with the wrestlers that are there. Then the next wave will have new storylines, and some different wrestlers. It’s somehow got strong continuity and a disjointed feeling at the same time.

What I like are some of the great wrestlers. Mance Warner is a treasure and should be a household name. He’s funny, he’s smart, and most importantly, he can wrestle. When he’s on the card, I know I’m going to be entertained. MLW also has a lot of great “legacy” wrestlers, if you’re into wrestling history. The Von Erich brothers, Brian Pillman Jr., Davey Boy Smith Jr., and Jacob Fatu all uphold their family names.

How to Watch MLW Fusion

Every episode of MLW Fusion is available for free on their YouTube channel. The show is also free on FiteTV, but for some reason new episodes don’t appear until several days after they’re up on YT.

A Request

If you get anything out of these blog posts, consider buying me a coffee. The money goes toward rent and groceries, to offset the time spent blogging instead of doing paying writing work. And please, leave comments, share with other people on social media, and help to spread the world.

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By Request: Why I Enjoy AEW Dynamite

Today I want to talk about why I enjoy All Elite Wrestling and their main show, AEW Dynamite. First, a little background. In 2017 a wrestling journalist made a comment that no promotion that wasn’t WWE could sell 10,000 tickets to a live event. Three wrestlers, Cody Rhodes, Matt Jackson, and Nick Jackson, took that as a challenge. They put together an event call All In, and gathered independent wrestlers from a variety of promotions. It sold out in 30 minutes, and was attended by over 11,000 people.

Having established proof of concept, they went looking for financial backing. They scored entrepreneur Tony Khan, owner of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. Together they formed All Elite Wrestling, AEW, with Khan serving as President and CEO and Rhodes and the Jackson brothers as vice presidents.

They did some pay-per-view events. Those did well enough to get the interest of TNT, who back in the day aired WCW programming. In October 2019, AEW Dynamite was launched. TNT is so happy with the initial product that they’ve committed to a 3-year contract and want to launch a second show.

Why I Enjoy AEW Dynamite

What I like about AEW is that it’s fused together a lot of disparate ideas. They’ve taken former WWE talent, some of the best indie wrestlers, and stars from Japan and made it work. People who wee perpetual mid-card guys in WWE (like Cody) get a chance to show that they’re main event material. Amazing guys from the indie circuit, like Max “MJF” Friedman (late of MLW), Orange Cassidy (formerly of Beyond Wrestling) and Jimmy Havoc (from all over the British and hardcore wrestling scenes) get the spotlight they deserve.

And they all get to be who they are. WWE remakes everyone over to conform to the WWE style. In AEW, they just bring their talent and charisma to the ring and let that play out. Good booking puts the right people, the wrestlers who compliment one another, together. It’s magic.

Granted, AEW Dynamite is less than a year old. As time goes on they might congeal into a house style, and ratings might drive who sort of matches get pushed and which get downplayed or nixed. Right now, though, it’s a big variety show with something for everyone. Serious MMA-type matches, comedy, hardcore matches, goofy gimmicks, it’s like going to the circus. I love it, and have never been disappointed.

How to Watch AEW Dynamite

In the United States, AEW Dynamite airs Wednesday night on TNT. Out here in the rest of the world it can be seen on FiteTV (not sponsored) with an AEW+ subscription, which runs $5 US per month. If I wanted to stay up late I could watch it live on Fite; I catch the replay when I get up the next morning.

A Request

If you get anything out of these blog posts, consider buying me a coffee. The money goes toward rent and groceries, to offset the time spent blogging instead of doing paying writing work. And please, leave comments, share with other people on social media, and help to spread the world.