I have fins

I have fins
image credit: @cheribiri on Twitter

This week, we're donning our borrowed skins, going PokéRogue, and learning how to tell cat-girl vtubers apart. First time reading? Sign up here.

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Pinterest has quietly become Valhalla for music pedants

Shareable infographics constitute one of the internet’s most sacred ways of recommending music while flexing your play history. It turns out that, over time, they all wash up on the shores of Pinterest one way or another. The “music recommendation” and “playlist” search queries yield rows upon rows of flowcharts, hand-drawn playlists, Spotify screenshots, and iceberg memes written by people who claim to be the authority on an artist, genre, or “mood.” It’s an anachronistic browsing experience that surfaces artifacts from all over the web, from flowery Instagram posts to last.fm grids that probably came from /mu/. Some examples:

Within the comment sections, you’ll find that the detritivores of Pinterest can have fairly discerning tastes; the Fiverr bot got some flak for including Stockhausen at the bottom of their iceberg meme, for instance. But the act of dunking on a music recommendation graphic is as old as the graphics themselves, so it’s fitting to see the tradition continue on Pinterest. 

A possible case of vtuber identity theft

This past week, the vtuber SmolLola went private after being accused of stealing the look and mannerisms of Shylily, another prominent vtuber. Shylily, for example, is an “orca/cat” hybrid who speaks with a childlike affect, while SmolLola is a “dolphin/cat” hybrid who speaks with a childlike affect. Here’s a brief timeline of events:

  • In January, someone posted a Twitter thread detailing claiming that SmolLola had plagiarized Shylily’s model, catchphrase, and general streaming personality. The thread’s gone, but it was a common subject of vtuber drama-of-the-week videos like this one
  • Last week, the controversy resurfaced when SmolLola posted an image demonstrating the differences between her model and Shylily’s (since-deleted, screenshot here)
  • This time, Twitter users came out of the woodwork to refute her claims, countering SmolLola’s diagram with more “evidence” of plagiarism, including scrutiny over the authenticity of her “accent”
  • Shylily quickly tried to distance herself from the incident, describing it as “drama,” but SmolLola still ended up locking her account after receiving harassment
  • Elara, another vtuber, posted an hour-long interview with SmolLola on Monday. Viewers largely didn’t take SmolLola’s explanations well

Vtubing still lacks proper, socially sanctioned guidelines for dealing with accusations of plagiarism, complicating conversations about the cultural lineage to which it belongs. SmolLola might sound a lot like Shylily, but aren’t most vtuber voices some mutation of the one Boxxy pioneered in the late 2000s? Wasn’t Gawr Gura — a shark-girl who’s practically become vtuber royalty — the blueprint for both Shylily and SmolLola’s big-tailed avatars? As vtubing matures as a format, its community will have to participate in some uncomfortable conversations about the nature of plagiarism and “inspiration” for a medium that’s already heavily indebted to anime and manga.      

Call of Duty manages to score with lesbians

A recently released cosmetic allows Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Warzone players to slap a sticker of “SuleMio” — aka “Suletta Mercury x Miorine Rembran,” who himejoshis across the internet recognize as Gundam’s first canonical lesbian couple — on a gun they own. They also happened to drop a batch of glittery “Pride Month skins” for free download a couple of days ago. Combining these two things results in the ultimate digital gun for internet lesbians: the “yuri 12 gauge,” a masterpiece of both form and function. Forget Overwatch or The Last of Us: Part IIthis is the kind of representation gays want to see in AAA games.

Counter-Strike 2’s “skin rentals” sound an awful lot like NFTs

It’s basically what it sounds like — a recent post from Steam Support outlines the new policies, which allow players to pay real money to rent cosmetic weapon skins for just a week at a time. A Resetera thread goes into more detail, breaking down what this looks like for the average player. CS2 essentially breaks the typical “lootbox” loop into two separate currencies: cases (which, when opened, give you a random cosmetic from its contents) and the keys you use to open them. Players can earn cases for free through normal play and weekly “supply drops,” but they’re also available for purchase a la carte. Keys, on the other hand, are only purchased with real money. 

This is where the rental service comes in. If you acquire and open a “Kilowatt” case — i.e., a case that contains one of eighteen special weapon skins from the “Kilowatt” series — and don’t get the skin you wanted, you can choose to rent the whole set for a week. As a money-making mechanism, it sounds suspiciously similar to the failed “Ubisoft Quartz” program that tried to sell players on the idea of owning skins for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon as NFTs — though at least with Ubisoft Quartz, your virtual Ghost Recon T-shirt wouldn’t disappear from your wardrobe in a week.


Arctic Eggs

A handful of recent games, like Umurangi Generation and Sludge Life, have invited players to explore evocative, low-poly dystopian worlds. Only the new Arctic Eggs gates players’ progress through said world via their ability to fry an egg. Fortunately, cooking eggs is a joy: a tactile, sizzling physics challenge, complicated by various requests to cook multiple eggs at once, eggs with sausages, eggs with cans of sardines, eggs with cigarettes, eggs with living bugs, and so on. Cooking eggs (et al) is so absorbing, in fact, that the story’s broader themes work on you like some sort of odorlous poison. Perhaps its most off-putting conceit is how absorbed everyone in this joyless future is with their own problems, their fake girlfriends and half-remembered dreams and desire for eggs. [Clayton]

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Two weeks in, Furiosa is officially an absolute flop at the box office, which means it is your civic duty to watch it now, on the largest possible screen, at ear-splitting volumes, so when you are called upon to answer for yourself in the future you will be able to say that you did your part. It’s no Fury Road, but then, it has no desire to be, trading the streamlined practical-effects death march of that film for something painterly, magisterial, oblong, and strange. (Well, one central setpiece directly recalls its predecessor, but you won’t complain when you see people taking flight.) Furiosa reconceives how a prequel should even function, so coherently and innovatively setting up Fury Road, in terms of worldbuilding, logic, and pacing, that it not only demands a rewatch of that film but transforms it. Viewed together, you witness a quickening, a transformation in the sense of fantasy to action, of childhood to maturity, and of the pace at which time proceeds, speeding up like a predator chasing its quarry into the horizon. [Clayton]


You’ll probably be sold on Selaco as soon as you see how people look when they get set on fire. It’s a warm pixel blaze, like a Christmas hearth lit by the flare gun from 1997’s Blood. Selaco, a new boomer shooter made in GZDoom, is a wild mix of old and new: visually noisy F.E.A.R. gunfights, crunchy low-FPS animations, richly detailed immersive-sim environments, ‘90s gore fountains. It’s a grounded, heavy shooter that also lets you tear up the carpet with Vanquish-style boost slides. The Early Access version is chapter one of three, but it’s 8 hours of carnage, which should be enough for anyone. [Chris]

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Chum Box


  • The Tribeca Film Festival recently announced, to many moviegoers’ chagrin, that they’d be screening short films made with Sora, an OpenAI product that specializes in “text-to-video generation” and has yet to reach the public. [link]
  • The New York Times reports on artists who dabble in AI-generative tools but resist its tendency towards internet pollution. [link]
  • The “world’s first beauty pageant for AI creators” appears to have the same hangups with racism and identity politics that Instagram’s first “virtual influencers” did. [link


  • Twitch loves new ways to play Pokémon wrong, and PokéRogue — a web-based game that turns Pokémon into a roguelite — is the latest to make waves on the platform. [link]
  • Utopia Must Fall, an upcoming shmup inspired by the vector graphics of ‘80s arcade games, has a demo that runs in your browser. [link
  • Dark Law: Meaning of Death is an old RPG for the SNES that has a cover befitting its powerful name. [link]
  • Gen Urobuchi, a writer best known for Madoka Magica and Psycho-Pass, wrote the script for a kid-friendly, side-scrolling action game — a departure from the visual novels he’s written in the past. It’s called Rusty Rabbit and is out this September. [link]
  • Someone managed to squash Super Mario 64 into a delectably chunky homebrew port for the Game Boy Advance. [link]


  • Cam’ron, in a masterstroke of salesmanship, manages to plug his brand of libido supplements live on CNN during an uncomfortable interview about Diddy’s assault allegations. [link]
  • Someone took Ty Dolla $ign’s infamous a cappella freestyle from 2014 and turned it into an intro for a Midwest emo song. [link]
  • A statistical analysis of Nickelback hate, one of the internet’s time-honored traditions. [link]


  • Benny Safdie breaks down the curveball series finale of The Curse, the show he co-created with Nathan Fielder, in an interview with IndieWire. [link]
  • “The Climate Reality Check” likens itself to a “Bechdel test” about climate politics, but it’s less compelling as a measurement of moral purity than it is as a tool for gauging how apocalyptic climate narratives have changed over time. [link]
  • The Wall Street Journal confirms: TV is officially for old people [link]    


  • The history of Chinese keyboards is full of far-fetched prototypes, including a machine that housed a giant cylinder with 4,356 keys wrapped around it. [link]
  • A thorough investigation into the “moral economy” of Tolkien’s Hobbits. [link]
  • Via Esquire: Debut novels keep flopping, and BookTok may be to blame. [link]

One last thing

God first. Grateful to be here. Garfield in theaters everywhere

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