On Unicorns and the Holidays

'Boys and girls, Unicorns and children of all ages...'

Here it is, my Bell of Lost Souls intro and one of those things those who love to hate me love to hate.

I dig it!  It makes me happy to tweak the nose of the easily annoyed - but what does it mean?

Some of you know, but I'm very sure the vast majority don't.  Even if you were reading Strictly Average way back then, it's one of those inside jokes that's easy to miss.  Here's the secret history of the Unicorn.

The Secret History of the Unicorn


I've been Stalking Jawaballs Since 2009, but sometime last year he started using the term Unicorn to describe female gamers.  As I recall, it was around the time of the infamous, stomach-turning article, Anatomy of a Girl Gamer...

...which is Mkerr's evil masterpiece.  You may not be aware, but it's why he's no longer around: he's in hiding.

The problem is, I didn't buy it.  Unicorns are the female version of the typical male gamer?  "Nope," said Brent, "it doesn't pass the smell test."

(Sorry again.)

So I wrote an article titled Unicorns Don't Exist.

The only article I've written to actually get me in trouble with my lovely wife.  And not because it was originally titled Unicorns Don't Exist and Won't Sleep With You.  Nor because it was followed up by Unicorns Don't Exist... Still.

An Interlude

As an interesting footnote to this story, the second article has my favorite joke in it... not that most people caught it.  It ran something like this:

Reader:  Oh crud, I don't exist!
Brent:  Only when I turn around; the waveforms break up at that point.

Another interesting footnote is these two articles, which ran back to back, ultimately changed Strictly Average more than any other single influence.  The subject matter caused the links to get dropped by Ron From the Warp.  I emailed him and found out he screens the blog content of everything that appears in his links.  It was only temporary (whew!) but at the time it bothered me no end.

I didn't like the idea that my material was causing Ron a problem - even if only every so often.  I respected what he was trying to do, so after giving it some thought I decided I would put more effort in controlling my potty mouth and giving more consideration to the quality of the material I put out.

It's where the *SELF-EDIT* came from... which I use but sparingly, otherwise it's not really screening anything, is it?  Anyway, I think the quality of the blog improved as a result.

And as one last interesting development from all this... I'm fairly sure these things contributed (even if only in a small way) to Dethtron and Lauby deciding to create the House of Paincakes, which at its core is a home for links of a more adult-oriented point of view.

Back to the Story

So, what does all this have to do with Christmas?  Because it does; it's why I'm writing it today... this is a Strictly Average Christmas story!

You see, these articles introduced me to a young lady with an avid interest in gaming and painting. She introduced herself and we had an interesting conversation about girl gamers and Unicorns.

That's probably where it would have ended, except she wasn't born female.  She's transgender.

Before you think it wildly inappropriate of me to share all this, let me point out she's already done so.  It's on her blog.  Still, I'm not going to link to it directly; if you're interested enough, go find it for yourself.

She's not the only transgender Blogger; there's are at least two more I know of, and one of those I've chatted with via email.

In Trouble on the Home Front

These two articles created a bigger, more personal impact than I ever expected.  It's one of the things I love about Blogging; amazing and completely unexpected things can happen when the things you write can reach around the world!

Anyway, I took my wife out to eat at our favorite Thai restaurant and, making conversation, I brought all this up.  Being a dumb guy, it took me a moment to realize Jenn was really pissed off with me.

Shocked, I tried to puzzle out what I did wrong.  Collecting her thoughts, my wife finally said:

"It's symbolism.  If a girl wants to be associated with a beautiful, magical creature like a Unicorn then who the hell are you to tell her she doesn't exist?"

Unicorns Exist

When I reference Unicorns in my bylines, I'm speaking directly to that small but meaningful group of people who were born with a few more challenges to overcome than most.

I get some of you out there are ignorant of the gay, lesbian, and transgender community, and ignorance leads directly to fear and stigmatism.  For all of my education and training, I don't claim to understand how someone must feel as they grow up with the knowledge they are somehow different from their peers...

...because experience is relative.  I'll never use the term, "I understand how you feel," because even a well-meaning lie is a lie.

Experience is relative:  we live behind our eyes, trapped by our imperfect senses.  We can never really understand those around us, no matter how much we may think we do.

Of course, that doesn't mean it's not important to try!  Man is a social creature; we are happiest in a community.

The gaming community is no different.

Unicorns exist in our community.  I've met them.  So when I write my byline, I could care less if it pisses off some random people (they probably need shaking up anyway) because I'm more about making sure Unicorns know I support them.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

There's the reason for the season!  The holidays are about community, love, and acceptance.

And Jesus, too.  I'm willing to bet he's hanging out with Buddha.  Among others.

Merry Christmas, folks.


Black Blow Fly said...

How do ya feel about those daemonically possessed? Are they unicorns too ??




Itchy (aka Jared) said...

Well said.

Your's is one of the more eloquent and insightful blogs I read regularly.

I'm not much of a gamer; I really only paint a bit from time to time. Still, that shortcoming of mine doesn't keep me from enjoying what you have to say about the hobby.

Keep it up and have Merry Christmas!

CalPerr said...

Even though this is technically a hobby blog I don't read it because you are a great painter, list builder or general. But because your a great writer and an insightful dude.

Merry Christmas.

sonsoftaurus said...

But no love for the Jabberwock gamer community? For shame!

Porky said...

I read or re-read those two posts and I think you're right. Something has changed. It's not quite the same blog, but the change is positive.

I'm wih Itchy and CalPerr when they say there's more than hobby here. There's wisdom and eloquence, and that's the Brent brand too.

Hope you're having a good weekend!

Da Warboss said...

Christ I worry about you...next you'll start using bath-salts....

Crazy Red Praetorian said...

Brent, after reading this article and giving the subject all the attention it deserves...I have to tell you Shiner beer sucks...unless it's free. Merry Christmas!

The_King_Elessar said...

I got the joke, back then...I don't recall if I commented, but I don't think so. It's not because it isn't funny (it is!) but because I have heard and said jokes in that vein so many times myself that it lessens the impact to experience again. I expect it, almost.

Moving on - your posts are always well written, as said above, and I think that's the key to your enduring popularity - which also leads to Haters, who Gonna Hate.

I don't think there has been as much of a shift as perhaps these others, but I accept that I may be biased in my perception, having been more exposed to your in your role as peacemaker on YTTH so often etc.


Don't change, Brent.

Jennifer said...

So I've been neglecting my blog duties... Shame on me. It's been a while since I've been keeping up with your blog so when I come back to read this it definitely made my day. This is why Brent is like the coolest blogger out there, he's the reason why I ever started taking it serious and trying to actually write something for people to read. And of course reading today's article I am once again inspired to write some more.

Just wanted to stop by and say thank you, and Merry Christmas Now Im gonna go write something.

Oh and by the way feel free to link to me anytime you want, I'm all about being open and upfront if I post anything I have no intention of hiding that information, it's out there for anyone to read.

Brian said...

This guy always is posting gibberish. It's not even entertainment, it makes Beck look clinical.

HurricaneGirl said...

I have to say Brent, you continually impress me in one way or another.

I've noticed that with gamer-types, we tend to have an all-in mindset, and once in, rarely come up for air, or reason. It's always refreshing to see someone say 'oops, I made a mistake' or 'I changed my mind'. Better still to see someone say they support those who are different from themselves. Kudos!

and Merry Christmas!

MadPersian said...

"Experience is relative: we live behind our eyes, trapped by our imperfect senses. We can never really understand those around us, no matter how much we may think we do."

Your post was well-meaning but not strictly true. The above quote is most certainly wrong. You don't have to go through what someone else went through to imagine their experience. Genuine artists do this all the time.

A well exercised imagination and empathy are very powerful tools.

Brent said...


It's my quote. :)

You wrote, "...go through what someone else went through to imagine their experience."

I didn't say 'imagine' I said 'understand.'

My point is one's experience is unique, imprinted on a neuronal level through every moment of every day.

It's simply not arguable. You may have broken your army and known pain, but you haven't suffered from cancer; it's pain on another level.

You can close your eyes and imagine the desperation as pain medicines fail, as the body's tolerance builds and relief becomes fleeting.

You'd have to live it, or something comparable, to come close to understanding.

We are the unique product of our experiences, but that's not to say empathy isn't important, nor that you have to develop some form of perfect understanding in order to help another human being.

Art is also relative: do you know what I felt when I walked through the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa? Even if you walked next to me, we'd be dragging a lifeline of experience behind us.

Still, it's semantics - I don't disagree with your larger point, but I don't think my words are in conflict with them either.

Kris said...

This post made me smile. Moreso than usual.

MadPersian said...

Brent, I appreciate what you are saying. But I don't think I need to literally understand every nervous impulse that goes with a certain experience (say going through cancer) to understand the overall experience. Imagination and empathy give us an understanding of what other people go through without actually having to go through the experience and I think that's an important part of people getting along in a society.

On a more scientific note (and correct me if I'm wrong, I read a lot, but I have not studied this subject), don't mirror neurons essentially imprint the experience of another person on us, so we can know it without actually having to do it? As in, Bob puts his hand in a fire and burns himself, my mirror neurons give me an idea of what that would feel like, and I don't put my hand into a fire.

I don't mean to nit-pick though. The reason I felt the distinction was important is because I also agree that the holidays should be about "community, love, and acceptance," but I don't think you can have acceptance without understanding (I would call that tolerance).

Either way, I'm new to your blog and I'm enjoying it. Keep up the good work.

Brent said...

MadPersian: No worries, mate - I love conversations like this.

Mirron neurons are an interesting idea, but the jury is still out.

All in all, this is part of a longer conversation that has as much to do with philosophy as with biology. A thought I've had lately is empathy and phantom pain share some similarities; and certainly a surfeit of imagination may have something to do with both.

As an aside, if a bunch of us are standing around and a Unicorn kicks Da Warboss Stalin in the nuts, we'd probably all cringe... but wouldn't it be worth it?

Thanks for reading, MP! :)

Grimnar Angband said...

"Art is also relative: do you know what I felt when I walked through the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa?"

What DID you feel when you saw the Mona Lisa?

Brent said...

Grim: God's own truth?

I thought it would be bigger.


Da Warboss said...

If a horned equine DID kick me in the nuts, it's one case where I really wish you could feel my pain...(no bath salts for you, either)

Cynthia Davis said...

God's own Truth? I thought it would be bigger!!
I dont really know what you are referencing sometimes with the hammers of war and the whatnot. But the blog is amusing nonetheless.
Cythina Davis- Stalking Brent since 2010

(A new favorite!) Anon: I haven’t even bothered playing a game of 6th yet, cause I have read the rules, and actually understand how they interact with units. I know my armies no longer function how they should, and so I need to change them.

Strictly Average: 'cause 6-inches is all you get.

Stalking Jawaballs since 2009.

Jawaballs: "My butt just tightened up."

Brent, preferred 2-to-1 over Not Brent in a recent, scientific poll.

Brent: emptied the Kool Aid and DRINKING YOUR MILKSHAKE with an extra-long straw.

Unicorns don't exist.

Home of the Stormbuster, the Dyson Pattern Storm Raven.

I'm a comment whore and this whore is getting no play.

Not Brent hurts Brent's feelings.

I think, therefore I blog.

"You should stop writing for everyone else and worry about your crappy blog." - Anon.

Not Brent has been spotted lurking around with a green marker.

He's not like a bad guy from a cartoon, all devious but never quite evil, Not Brent is bad beans, man, bad beans.

Dethtron: "Again I feel obliged to remind you that trying to sound smart only works if you are."

MVB: "I am not one to join the unwashed masses of self-titled 40k experts out there distributing advice from their blogs about exactly how your list should be built..."

Shiner Bock on tap: that's how I choose hotels.

Strictly Average: The Home of Hugs and Gropings.

Don't feed the trolls!

MoD: "Welcome to Brent's head."

Competitive is Consistent.

Dethtron: "...you could use that extra time to figure out a way to get your panties unbunched and perform a sandectomy on your vagina."

Dethtron: “When calling someone an idiot, it's generally best to avoid making grammatical mistakes.”

Warboss Stalin: "You know, if it actually WAS funny, maybe I wouldn't mind."

Mike Brandt: "It's not a successful bachelor party if you don't misplace someone".

"The Master Manipulator (every store needs one): "...now, enough stroking."

Kirby: "I don't know about gropings. Seriously, Brent, keep it in the pants, please."

Loquacious: "No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get Hugs & Gropings or Stalks Jawaballs into Brent's little tribute."

Captain Kellen: "I rate this article a Brent on the Faith Hill to Nancy Pelosi scale!"

Drathmere: "Come for the balls, stay for the Brent? Kind of disturbing, man."

Go no further, lest thee see something thine eyes would fain look past!

Isabelle: "So, thank you for supporting your local and not so local unicorns. A noble gesture like that can show some scared kids out there that they don't have to hide from everyone and it's ok to be who they really are."

There is nothing more interesting than We The People... in all our beautiful, ugly glory!

On Internet Advice: You see, I have an almost religious belief that's it's a huge, colossal waste of time.

...I think I'll call it the Gun Shy Pattern Stormbuster, because after the Internet destroyed my first humble effort, I find I'm a bit worried about the reaction to this one.

Lauby: "Is it left over from that time you thought that you could just complete step one 12 times to meet the mandates of that court order?"

Not Brent: "I guess we'll have to read on and find out. Signed, Not Brent. Especially today."

Cynthia Davis: "I think the scrolling text is from Glen Beck's new book."

Grimaldi: "Spamming certain units creates interesting possibilities but also fatal weaknesses."

Purgatus: "Math can inform decisions. It cannot make decisions."

Thoughts? Comments? Hugs and gropings?

You'd be that much quicker to figure out what I mean when I refer to a Unicorn if I covered it in a rainbow flag.

SinSynn: (To Brent) "Curse you and your insidious influence on the internets..."

Dave G (N++): "You know you're an internet celebrity when your following is more akin to tabloids."

I prefer the term Internet Personality (or IP) myself, seeing as how I coined it.

Lauby: "Your attempt to humanize him as failed. I feel nothing but scorn for his beard - it's like a warcrime or something."

BBF: "I've always thought you are a good player but I finally figured out that you are a great player. It's hard to see sometimes because your personality is engaging, sincere and quite charming - to me that is kind of a rare combination."

'Clearly cheating?' I didn't misspeak: you jumped to conclusions. If you'd like to apologize I'll be happy to send you an autographed picture of my ass.


I thought I was doing alright before I realized I was losing.

Age and treachery beats youth and vigor every time.

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