[Whoops! Well, let’s start catching up on the community interviews, shall we? ~Strider]
Hello me, it’s me again, Chris Moyse, bringing you the first Community Interview of 2017! Remember I said they’d get shorter last time? Yeeeah. Look, it’s important to keep youse guys flowing freely. This is a conversation, after all, not a Q&A. After this weekend, however, I will be taking strides to shorten future interviews, as seventeen minutes of reading may have become the stuff of a madman’s dream.
Regardless, I’m really grateful that you’re all enjoying the interviews so far, and heartfelt thanks for your positive, constant and ongoing support, it makes the hours that go into these worthwhile. For now, grab a tall coffee, and let’s talk to a true icon in Destructoid’s storied history. It’s the one, the only, Occams Electric Toothbrush.
OL: Thanks for joining me for this soiree, good buddy. But who the fuck is Occams Electric Toothbrush?
Occams: Well, shooting from the hip, I’m a Resplendent Black Grandmother… that’s more of an honorific. If anything, black grandmothers are my spirit totem. I’m… me. There’s not much difference in how I act on the site and how I act in the waking world. If anything, I’m more quiet… quieter? Yeah, let’s go with quieter. That looks weird, though. The Egyptians were on to something with hieroglyphics. Like a ‘Bard diving into water’ meant you were down to eat some puss. Simpler times. So yeah, I’m me. The best Occams I know how to be.
OL: You are, without a doubt, one of Dtoid’s longest running and better known characters. But for teh newbs, explain how long you’ve been here and what your role is as a Community Manager.
Occams: Time does this weird thing for me where it becomes fluid and the years blend if I go too far back. I started lurking, then commenting, in 2007. As a community manager I am part of a team that keeps the peace, promotes community content to the front page, brainstorms ideas and generally helps out. My biggest role, personally, is monitoring the comments for stuff that breaks the code of conduct. I think every member of the mod team (shout out to y’all!) has their own preferences for what they enjoy and thrive at. I like moderating the comments and trying to dissolve volatile situations. Brokering peace, if you want to make it sound a lot fancier.
OL: Moderation. A thankless task. Dtoid’s community has a strong rep for walking a tightrope, especially when it comes to LEWD content. Is it difficult to tell the kids what is and isn’t ‘safe,’ without creating double-standards?
Occams: It can be difficult for sure. This community has always run a little blue and I like that. That level of informality has always impressed me and made this feel like a “home” in a real tangible sense. But as a moderator, it’s not about what you like. It’s about enforcing the rules of the site to the best of your ability. There is a lot of communication between the moderators, I love that.
We don’t always agree with every decision made about a comment and I like getting those different perspectives. That’s how you really grow together. It comes down to the big picture; ‘I love this gif of some insane anime thing and it cracked me up but is it okay for the site right now?’
Ha, I feel like I’m trying to sell you a car right now. In my head, I’m doing hand gestures whilst I’m talking to you.
OL: So I suppose it’s your 10th anniversary this year. You’ve must’ve seen a lot go down. What’s the current state of play with Destructoid, in your opinion? As a news-site, a community or in the zeitgeist?
Occams: Good lord, I guess it is, where does the time go? I remember back when I first started and guys like Andy Dixon and Corduroy Turtle were so important to me as friends and members. Now there’s this new group and they are all so lovely. So in terms of community, I think it’s great. That’s the heart of site to me and why I stay here. The staff is part of the community too, it never feels like they are separated from us by some unspoken status.
As for a zeitgeist; remember that scene in Poltergeist when the kid pulls his face off, but it was obvious that it was just clay and pig’s blood? I think that’s Dtoid for a lot of folks out there; kinda awesome, a little silly but something you remember and look fondly upon. Also, pig’s blood… and cocks.
OL: I’ve been hanging around since 2010. For some time I wasn’t ‘feeling it’ but I always came here because there were so many headlines. Today, though, I couldn’t imagine not being a part of it. Speaking of Andy, did you get his infamous robe when he bequeathed the CM role onto you?
Occams: I actually got to wear his robe in the waking world. I can still feel its warm, comforting weight hanging upon my shoulders. Like the hug from an uncle that lasts just a little too long.
OL: I’m sure Andy will be stoked to be referenced alongside creepy uncles…
To love something is to know its faults. What’s wrong with Destructoid?
Occams: Hmmm.. I don’t know if ‘wrong’ is the optimal word for me. I don’t really see Dtoid in terms of what’s right or wrong. It’s more what’s working and what isn’t. What lifts the site/community up and what doesn’t. I’m biased because this is my home but I think it’s difficult to get your average commentator to click through to the Qposts and C-blogs.
I’ve been seeing a number of “Former lurker” posts lately which warms my heart. I would love to see even more community stuff integrated into the front page. The team does a great job promoting stuff. I love them for that. I’d love to see a Dtoid YouTube show again, Lordy, I miss that. Oh, and Mike Martin really needs to stop sending me dick pics. I’m an ass man, Mike. Let’s get some really classy turd-cutter shots next time?
OL: Indeed, there were a lot of new faces appearing in the Qposts over 2016. I think that particular section really helps people become part of the community, hopefully leading to them writing Cblogs. They have little choice, to be fair, seeing as we lock the door behind them anyway.
Occams: Ha! Very true. Qposts took off like a shot. I love it. It feels a very organic thing too. Cat Girl/Boy days, little in-jokes, that’s the blood and muscle of the community for me. That’s when I go: “Oh yeah, this place is fucking awesome.”
OL: It’s a very popular feature, which has really allowed the members to open themselves up a little. Thank fuck we’re all so shameless. Before we move on, who else would you like to give a shout-out to, past or present?
Occams: There have been a lot of folks over the years who have made this place special for me. Andy Dixon is a great guy, so kind and patient. He and Mike Martin have so much patience and control and I try to learn from them. Corduroy Turtle is like a brother to me. SteezyXL makes me so proud. Knutaf is unadulterated human joy.
Weslikestacos may be the nicest human being I’ve ever met and not been suspicious of. Beyamor, wherever you are, you brought me zen. Chris Carter deserves all the praise and success he’s had. Fame Designer… Oh, that story you wrote was so damn lovely. Just so many folks and the regulars now make me laugh, smile and are so kind to each other.
OL: I still think you have a lot of mystique about you, Occams, even though you’re such a long-termer.
Occams: I was this close to posting in selfietoid. But I’m not big on being in the spotlight. I’d rather be the guy who helps the other guy thrive, that role has always suited me more. It’s not like I’m some unknown entity, I was a lot more visible a few years ago, but then a lot of those folks who brought that out in me moved on, and I became less visible, more a kind of… presence? Ha, I’m not really sure what that means. I’m like Gandalf. But more straight off the set of 227 than Middle-earth.
OL: So let’s delve into this mystique, then. What do you do when away from the Catbeardavatar?
Occams: Well, I’ve been a librarian, an art gallery curator, an archivist, and I failed miserably at being the Best Man at a wedding. I re-read Grant Morrison’s Invisibles and Doom Patrol annually, my favorite movie is The Dark Crystal. I quit smoking years ago, but I still miss it. I spend a lot of time watching random shit on YouTube, like old training videos and people reviewing action figures, knives and shit, I love it. In high school I used to go to the airport and watch people come and go, lots of amazing people-watching happens at airports.
OL: I also am a fan of social anthropology/people watching/stalking (delete as applicable) What is it that we find fascinating about studying folk going about their day-to-day business?
Occams: For me, it’s seeing people when they think no-one is watching. Those little moments when folks relax their guard and allow a bit of that inner monologue to slip out into the waking world. You can see some really powerful stuff that way. I respect that, the little battles we all face with everyday stuff. Standing in line, walking down a busy street… seeing how we carry ourselves says a lot about how we feel.
OL: You’re also a serious collector of the transmundane; items and curios from various times and cultures. Tell us a little about the objet d’arts that you have lurking around your home.
Occams: I was thinking about my collection a few days ago. How much do you own the stuff and when does it start to own you? I went through a purge a few years ago and got rid of a lot of it. I had this grand idea of curating some ultra-kitschy room with a creepy clown, bad art and all this other junk. And that’s it, right there, it was ‘junk.’
I didn’t need a clown marionette and I was tired of storing stuff like that, so a lot of the more frivolous stuff went to the Goodwill. What I keep now are just personal pieces and the exceedingly enjoyable weird shit.
Here’s an example: I collect teeth. People teeth. I have mine, my friends, and a few random ones I’ve picked up over the years. I also collect dental molds and imprints. For me, they are an intimate object and each one is just a little different. I had my friends sign their dental molds and date them, that part was important. I also have my dad’s first pacemaker. It’s small, flat, and looks like a cyberpunk silver dollar. This thing was in my dad’s chest, it helped to keep him alive. To be able to feel the weight of that object in my hand and look at it outside the context of his body is really remarkable to me.
Now, exceedingly enjoyable weird shit: my prosthetic arm. It’s this old wooden and metal arm that ends in claw/grabber. I’d guess it’s the late ’60s/early ’70s judging by the design. I found it at an antique shop and was ecstatic. It’s a strange thing but it also has a story, it came from someone. It looks like it could be a prop in a haunted house. That’s win/win for me. I have this daydream about putting a mannequin in my house and making it an effigy of St. Sebastian, with arrows in his chest, and attaching this prosthetic arm.
OL: Sounds like a fascinating collection of the weird and the wonderful. I once had a mannequin in my home that I dressed as Charles Bronson from (specifically) Death Wish II. Mask, gun, stick-on mustache, the works.
Occams: That’s lovely!
OL: A lot of the time a collection is just a form of nostalgia, other times it’s a pseudo-lifegoal. I once wrote on Dtoid about how I had a MONSTER video game, laserdisc, and toy collection. Then, during one of my trademark complete mental breakdowns, I sold it all and went to Japan. When I came back, I didn’t really miss any of it. Collections can take hold of you and become self-definition; ‘Look! all this stuff legitimizes me!”
Occams: Yeah. I get that completely. I’d still be me even if it all vanished. That’s enough. But there is something to be said for having a space that you go to where its decorated and designed completely by you as an expression of yourself, your mind and your personality. That’s potent for me. I would miss that aspect very much.
OL: If you could only keep a single item, do you know what it would be?
Occams: My dad’s pacemaker and a portrait my mom painted of me.
OL: And I’m sure they’re honored by your choice. Well, whether you decide to keep all these items or let some of them go, it’s a wonderful collection.
Occams: I agree. I used to have a lot of stuff that was essentially “Look at how CURAZY this thing is!” and it felt tired and lame. Creepy clowns? C’mon, what’s the even saying? Now it’s stuff that means something to me. I completely accept being able to grow and change, to be able to look back and laugh at yourself. I have to do that now, in terms of what I collect, and generally.
OL: You frequently post about your latest comic purchases. How long have you been reading comics for? What are you reading at the moment?
Occams: Hmmm… reading since I was a kid, probably 25 years? The Death of Superman ‘black bag’ craze. I remember the die-cut, bacchanalian eye-fuckery of the early ’90s. I loved that shit. Kids love shiny stuff though. I started to read them for more than cool fights and tits in high school. Alan Moore and Grant Morrison whooped my ass. Alan Moore and Grant Morrison whooped my ass.
Then I found Garth Ennis and between Preacher, Punisher, and Hellblazer I knew I had found a lifelong author I could trust. At the moment, I’m mainly into older Vertigo books. The work they were doing reminds me so much of the strange stuff from Warp Records. I’m also trying to dive into Heavy Metal/2000AD, Judge Dredd, and Strontium Dog. I fawn over anything Brian Bolland drew, so I try to read his line work like a blind man reading Braille.
As for recommendations, if you want to see a reinvention and expansion of the superhero trope, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and Grant Morrison’s Animal Man are groundbreaking. There are so many great titles. I’ll say this much; If you like an author then find out what they are reading. Treat it like a spider web and expand out.
OL: It can be very hard with decades of titles out there. I wasn’t reading much in the ’90s, but I do remember the pre-internet excitement of ‘Next Issues’ and the big, climactic events, with no-one to spoil things, no way to get sneak-peeks. It was another world for sure, one we can’t return to.
Occams: Like airports.
OL: Well, you probably could still go people-watching at airports, but you’d likely be arrested.
Occams: Hahaha. Sidewalk coffee shops, buddy. Those are great. Also, malls. I love a good mall. Especially if it’s a decaying, older mall. That’s a real place of power for me.
OL: Haha, I know you love malls, we’ll get to that… Do you have a favorite comic of all time? Or is it the Morrison work you mentioned earlier, like Doom Patrol?
Occams: Yeah, it’s the Morrison stuff. My favorite comic character is The Punisher. I have almost every book he’s ever been in, even those garbage issues where’s he is hunting demons with toaster guns. Out of all Morrison’s stuff, I go back and forth between Animal Man and Doom Patrol. They both sing to me in different ways. Throw The Invisibles into the mix and I feel like I’m trying to pick my favorite kid.
OL: Who’d win in a fight: Undead Punisher with his magical coat of guns, or Frankencastle?
Occams: You know I can ban you from the site, huh? Fucking Frankencastle. God, I stopped buying it when that happened. What a dumb fucking idea. Like the filler episode on a superhero cartoon when they are all turned into babies or some equally uninspired shit.
OL: Go look up Frankencastle, readers… Actually, don’t.
Occams: It’s bad, folks, really bad. CW show bad.
OL: Let’s talk about vidyagamez. As I genuinely think gaming is one of the topics you ironically broach the least on Dtoid. How long have you been gaming? Where are you with gaming today?
Occams: I’m not as opinionated about gaming as I used to be. Very much a live and let live kinda fella. I had a Nintendo waaaaay back in the day so it’s been 30 years now. Today, I’m mainly on my PS4 and I look at gaming in the same way I look at movies and music. It can inspire, engage, make you think/react, and let you down. It’s another creative expression to me, all really fascinating. I still have my Super Nintendo, that’s my favorite system. I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up so games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy III were companions to me on weekends.
OL: I think we’re strongly aligned on this. I make minor complaints on occasion, but I’d never enter into an argument about gaming. We’ve both been playing about the same amount of time. Do you think the link between gaming and our zen-like tranquility *cough* comes from having been around the media for so long, and thus experiencing both the good times and the bad?
Occams: Oh absolutely. We’ve been doing this long enough to have perspective. That’s really crucial. You can see more of the horizon.
OL: Do you have a favorite game of all time, seeing as you’ve been around for ALL THE GAMES.
Occams: Final Fantasy III. Easily. The first game where I noticed the soundtrack was affecting me in a positive way and the first game where I cried at the ending.
OL: Sound choice. The first game I ever imported. like, £100 or something
Occams: Worth it. I still have the guide from Nintendo.
OL: Send it to me. I’m stuck and the Nintendo Hotline just keeps ringing off. What would you like to see from video games in 2017?
Occams: I’d like to see more innovation with narrative focus in gaming. We get prettier water/fire/set pieces every year. I’d like to see more memorable characters, dealing with adult issues. I feel like indie games are really doing some amazing stuff with narrative. I’m being a bit idealistic, but I’m good at dreaming. As for gamers, I’d like to see less derision. ‘PC vs Console’ bullshit is so stale. We are all in this medium together, right? Games are awesome and this shit is straight up science magic. Let’s embrace that together.
OL: One last question on the arts. You are obviously an aficionado of creativity in all its many guises, who are some of your favorite artists, from whatever field?
Occams: Music-wise, my favorite hands down is Jimi Hendrix. If you like hip-hop, Danny Brown’s new album Atrocity Exhibition is a sonic hammer shattering plates on the sunrise of your happiest day.
Shirley Jackson for short stories, she makes the mundane so terrifying. Oh, and Margaret Atwood. Handmaid’s Tale is required in my waking world.
As for art, the architecture of Antonio Gaudi makes me so happy and amazed. Also, Faberge eggs. I fucking adore everything from the house of Faberge.
OL: I thought we’d combine your love of movies with your love of Malls. I’m gonna namecheck a few awesome films set in the neon capitalist nightmare that is The Mall, and I’d like to get your thoughts on each:
OL: First up, of course, is Mallrats (1995)
Occams: Boy, I thought Kevin Smith was clever when I was younger. I remember this one most for Joey Lauren Adams being topless. Thank God for the ‘Pause’ function.
OL: Next is the greatest shopping-based bust-up in movie history. It’s Police Story (1985)
Occams: Never has vertical space work been used so effectively in a mall. It made it seem more like a jungle gym.
OL: Never rely on a dork with a helicopter, warns Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Occams: That mall had a gun shop, I loved that. Also, commercialism is bad. It’s a classic if a little heavy-handed.
OL: And finally, rampaging robots and exploding-head teens. It’s Chopping Mall (1986)
Occams: Thanks, USA Up All Night. One of the better horror movies from this era. It really makes you consider the mall ‘after-hours.’ So much open space and shadow.
OL: 2017 has begun, hopes are cautiously optimistic. What are your dreams this time around, Occams?
Occams: Like every year, I try to be the best Occams I can be, and I hope folks can be kinder to one another. 2016 was so rough in so many ways and I think if we can treat each other with a little bit of patience and understanding then 2017 can be something we don’t hate. Also, a new Shadow Hearts game.
OL: Final Five: Do you believe in Ghosts/Spirits?
Occams: No. I’d like the supernatural to be real. I like the idea of that but I think the closest thing we get is what’s in our head.
OL: What was your favorite TV show as a child
Occams: Fraggle Rock. I have it on DVD now. My nephews and nieces watched it as children. The circle completes itself.
OL: What is your favorite album of all time?
Occams: Goddamn this question. Hmmmm…so tough. I would have to go with Jimi Hendrix – Axis: Bold as Love. I have a tattoo of his name on my arm to commemorate my respect for what he gave the world. That album blew me away as a child and it has only grown in power in my heart and head over the years.
OL: Is there a particular time period you would love to visit, if possible? Your safety is guaranteed.
Occams: Paris in the 1920s. Music, art, literature, fashion, romance. It was being devoured as quickly as it could be made.
OL: Such an incredible and sad time. But what did survive, absolutely breathtaking.
Occams: Yeah. I feel like being there would be raw emotional magic.
OL: Bringing us neatly to question 5: Are you in love?
Occams: Oh yes. I have a partner in life that I cherish first and foremost. Beyond that, I am in love with the community here, with nature, music, and art. It all fills my heart up to the point of bursting. That all sounds rather Transcendentalist. Some Walt Whitman shit. Ha, so be it.
OL: Well, The feeling is apparently mutual Occams. #Occamstoid was mindblowing, such an outpouring of love and respect for you and the work you do here, from almost everybody in the community. Hand on heart, I believe every bit of it was deserved. Sorry to put you on the spot emotionally, but how did that day make you feel?
Occams: It made me tear up a little. That was a genuinely human moment and I felt it hard. Also, I felt awkward (remember I’m the guy who helps you thrive, I’m not the guy, though) and a little sad. Kind of a reflex of mine is sadness. Lord knows we all deal with our own personal shit and I’m no different. I don’t do well with being acknowledged. I almost feel like I failed somehow if I’m noticed? Wow. That’s kind of deep. What those kind words told me was that I am right where I should be and I wouldn’t trade all the teeth in all of your skulls to be anywhere else.
OL: I barely got any teeth left to give you, mang. I can relate to what you’re saying, I get extremely melancholy when faced with praise. Everyone’s comments were wonderful, though, I think it was Dreamweaver who said something along the lines of ‘Occams is Destructoid’ It was a show of genuine respect from a community you work dang hard for. You have also shown me, personally, undying support. I am a genuine mess of a man, a consistent underachiever, and your help means the world to me. So, on behalf of myself and many Dtoiders; Thanks for simply being ‘the best Occams you can be.’ Here’s to the next ten years, brother.
Occams: Oh, bless your eyes buddy. That’s so damn kind. The kindness here it just… it makes me believe in people. That’s hard to do, ya know? So thank you. You, everyone in the community, just… thanks. You gave me a home and all I ever want is for folks here to feel like this place is their home as well.
OL: The final words are yours, so grasp the mic:
Be patient and kind, here and in the waking world. Try something new; new food, new music, new literature, anything. Jerk off with an underhand grip for the dudes or if you are a lady slap-bass the holy hell out of your clit. Expand who you are and how you see the world. Also, no socks and sandals. Let’s just put a moratorium on that. We can end socks and sandals in our lifetime if we all work together.