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Austin joins the podcast for a discussion on Boldir, Caliborn, Yu-Gi-Oh and eating dangerously.

Listen to this episode at https://perfectlygenericpodcast.com/updates/episodes/5

A full transcript of the first outro, 'IT'S EVERY DAY. BRO' has been very kindly provided by SplitSuns, and can be read here. The Perfectly Generic Podcast can accept no responsibility for any loss of cognitive function resulting from reading this god awful EXTREMELY COOL rap.

Transcript[]

Kate: The Perfectly Generic Podcast contains spoilers, occasional adult language, and Vriska. You've been warned.

[intro]

Kate: Hello, and welcome to the Perfectly Generic Podcast Episode No.5! I'm Kate Mitchell. I'm here with Austinado.

[long pause]

Austin: Oh, is this where I'm supposed to say something really cool or funny?

Kate: [laughs] Yeah, ideally yes!

Austin: Um, okay. Uh, you know who I am. I don't need to introduce myself. You know me.

Kate: Yeah, you know him. Um [laughs] so this episode is gonna be about Caliborn. It's the contrast to our Calliope episode: we need to talk about the ascended Lord Boy. And I brought you on because you have quite the history with, uh, with Caliborn, and Caliborn-related works.

Austin: Yeah, I have an extensive amount of past, present and future with this horrible little goblin man.

Kate: Why don't you tell me about some of this?

Austin: Uhhhh, so I think my first major foray with Caliborn was working on the fan adventure, continuation, and polarizing-on-Reddit extraordinaire adventure Act 8. And what I did with other fellow Act 8 members, Momo and Calicorn — whose name is obviously in loving tribute to this awful, awful garbage dump fire of a person — is, uh, we made a side-story that was supposed to dive in between the lines of Act 8, where Caliborn finds out that Act 8 is a thing due to a mysterious entity known as the Bartman (spoilers: the Bartman is me).

Kate: I Never Would Have Guessed.

Austin: I know, it's totally — it's very subtle. You have to really look in-between the lines, which is what we were going for in the first place. And the whole point of that was that Caliborn figures out what Act 8 is, and then he decides 'Well you know what, if you guys are just gonna slight me like this, I'm just gonna slight you guys back. I'm going to become the greatest in the universe at every piece of artistic media that there is, outside of just drawing art, and I'm gonna fuck you guys over for doing this to me.' And I also wrote Caliborn in Act Omega, in that one scene with Calliope. I also wrote Hussie in that scene, which I'm still very proud of.

Kate: Yeah, that was really good.

Austin: I think the biggest foray into Caliborn was another collaboration I did with Momo, who was a part of the Act 8 collaboration, for that side-story that we did called — and I'm not gonna shorten it cause that sells *it* short — 'Act Act Act Act Act Act Act Act Act New', in which Caliborn decides to follow the three wise men of Music Jesus, which are Limp Bizkit, Macklemore, and System of a Down, and he decides to create his own genre of music, called Calicore. And —

Kate: So, astute listeners who are wondering what the fuck was happening with our intro music this week [transcriber's note: you were definitely wondering this], that was music from this incredible album of Calicore music. [transcriber's note: Calicore is a valid cherub name]

Austin: Yeah. It's called 'THE REBORNENING', and I don't remember whether it was me or Momo that made up that name, but I don't really think there's a better title for it.

Kate: I actually highly recommend giving THE REBORNENING a listen. A single listen. More, if you're brave. [laughs] But —

Austin: But — but only one otherwise.

Kate: [laughs] Only one if you're a coward! It is a — it is a touching character piece that really drills down into the tragedy of — of Caliborn, it really makes you feel for him.

Austin: Didn't you know? He lost a sister to murder!

Kate: [laughs] He did, it's really quite unfortunate for him. So before we continue on our discussion of Caliborn, this week in Homestuck an excellent new volume of Hiveswap Friendsim came out. It's Volume 13 — Austin, my delinquent guest, has not played — has not played Stelsa's half of that volume yet, but you did play Boldir's route.

Austin: I did.

Kate: Yeah, and what was your — what was your reaction to that?

Austin: I think Boldir's route — I'mma keep it real with you chief — I didn't really get too much from Boldir as a character, but I definitely think they're a very nice introduction to the bigger secrets of what's going on in Friendsim and in Hiveswap. And it brought up a lot of questions that I was kind of pondering about myself while playing this, and I didn't know that they'd ever be addressed, because it's just a fun silly game where you get to meet all these other trolls from the Troll Call list, so you know what they're about whenever Act 2 finally drops. But Boldir's — Boldir's route, it legitimately puts some questions into your head about what you should be thinking about, and how deep this meta hole really goes. And I appreciate that.

Kate: Yeah. Y'know, part of the — part of the charm of the Friendsims for me has been, y'know, just starting with Volume 1 you think 'okay these are gonna be a disconnected series of silly vignettes, and it's', y'know, 'it's ju— they're just individual little stories'. But over the course of it, y'know, as you get a number of different story threa— threads developing, you get whatever the jadebloods are hiding, you get the relationships between characters, but then also you're starting to get this really ominous sense that there is something bigger intended for the main character of this story. Which definitely threw me for a loop, I wasn't expecting it at all. But the — the protagonist, and the writing for the protagonist, the — y'know, the faceless, generic MSPA reader, has been some of the strongest parts of Hiveswap Friendsim. And that's something you can really hang a hat on: a visual novel game that's got a strong protagonist.

Austin: Yeah, no, I completely agree with that. I think MSPA reader is really, I mean, kinda the glue that holds the whole thing together. You can't really do something like this to the extent without them. And they even bring up questions as to, y'know — I played Mallek's route earlier, which I didn't get to the last time I was on the podcast, and I — I liked that they brought up the fact that, surprisingly, nobody has killed the MSPA reader when they probably should have. And I like that, as we go further these questions are slowly but surely getting more addressed and more prevalent, especially in the major bad ending of Boldir's route, with the black text guy at the end. And there's only a few people who I think that could be, but I'm excited to know who — who exactly that is.

Kate: Yeah. There's — there's only a few people in all of Homestuck who've spoken in black text. So either we have — we have a new entry, or it's one of those [laughs]

Austin: And it's one of them.

Kate: [laughs] So yeah, pick up Hiveswap Friendsim Chapter 13, it's on Steam and the Google Play store for Android phones. Get all of them. Stick around at the end of the show, we're actually gonna be doing a giveaway of Hiveswap and all the Friendsim volumes, so keep that in mind as we head towards the end of the show, and follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/pgenpod for more details on that. Now let's get to the good part of this episode, the part about the best character in the history of fictional media: Caliborn.

Austin: Yeah, the guy who separates the Gamers from the Gamed, the — the Bitches from the Bitched.

[long pause]

Kate: You gonna — that was all you had?

Austin: Yeah that was all I had.

Kate: Alright cool [laughs]

Austin: I wanted — I wanted to say it at the intro, but I forgot, so I have to put it in here.

Kate: You brought it back. You brought it back. So Caliborn is, I guess by some definitions, the central antagonist of Homestuck.

Austin: Yes.

Kate: Or a secondary protagonist of Homestuck! The distinction is — is a little bit — is a little bit blurred. So I was reading through some of Caliborn's conversations, and he mentioned that the human — the only human quality he admires is ambition. And he's certainly the most ambitious character in the story, and his pure will makes the story happen in the exact way it does: it makes it *have* to happen in the way that it does. And when reading through Caliborn's story, and seeing the like, intense, sort of, victory of will that he represents, it's hard not to see him as almost, just barely, inspirational.

Austin: I completely agree with that. Caliborn is probably the most inspirational thing in the latter half of Homestuck to me. He's really the glue and the foundation that holds that entire Act, and even — even a lot of the — a lot of the things in the early comic together, because everything revolves around him and that sheer willpower and ambition he has to just Fuck Everything Up.

Kate: He just wants to break things, and he wants — and he wants to break things extremely powerfully. And that is —

Austin: Yeah —

Kate: As aspirations go, honestly it's — it's, y'know, it's very simple, it's very easy to understand. You get what makes Caliborn tick, he's not a mysterious antagonist. He just wants to fuck shit up, and look super cool while doing it.

Austin: Yeah, and that's why he relates so much to Limp Bizkit.

Kate: [laughs]

Austin: Because they get what he's about.

Kate: They understand him in a way that no-one else ever has.

Austin: They made a song called 'Break Stuff', and if that doesn't speak to the Caliborn experience I don't really know what else does.

Kate: So, in many ways [pause] as like — Calliope relates to the human players on a very direct and emotional level. Caliborn just sees them as cool flashy heroes that he really wants to fight.

Austin: Yeah. Caliborn sees the humans as like, these giant fucking pillars that he has to overcome and dismantle to become basically the god of gods, the golden god, the standard to which everything else in Paradox Space has to measure up to, but they never will.

Kate: The Absolute Boy. Part of Caliborn's imposition to the narrative includes being one of the few characters to directly interface with the character of the author. And Homestuck is an intensely metatextual piece of work, and there's no more metatextual element than the fact that, like, a self-insert character representing the author has a great deal of influence over the proceedings, including directly advising and shaping the main character in an almost like, fatherly way. Like, what does that say about the story, that Caliborn and the author self-insert character, hereafter known as Andrew Hussie, are so intimately connected in the narrative?

Austin: I think what that means is that — the way I took it, over a course of re-reads, is that Andrew Hussie talking to Caliborn and shaping him up, teaching him all the things that he needs to know, is basically almost as meta as the story can really dive in. Like, it's to the core of its meta-ness at this point. It's Andrew Hussie telling the character who shapes pretty much every event in the comic to do all of these things in this specific way so that everything thereafter can occur.

Kate: And there's almost an — and there's — there's an interesting thread to that because then it ties back to something that happens earlier in the work but later in the timeline, where Lord English literally kills the author. More that just a st— that's more than just a stupid joke about 'Death of the Author'-style literary analysis, but we can also acknowledge that it *is* a stupid joke about 'Death of the Author' literary analysis. But after that point, after that event, the story really changes.

Austin: Yeah, with Andrew Hussie gone there's pretty much, like, no gods, no masters, except for the actual gods and the actual masters, i.e. the cast. But Andrew Hussie is not really there to sort of guide and pull the strings except with Caliborn later in the story so everything can tie back to that point and things can function as normal. I mean, Caliborn is a Time player, so obviously you gotta make sure those loops and paradoxes all sort of co-align to make everything function as they should.

Kate: Mhmm. And it's another Time player, Dave, who mentions — who has an argument with Rose about 'we don't have arcs we're just people'. And I guess it's sort of that recognition that they are in a bit of a puppet show being played by — by a [pause] really demented master. What is the purpose of the narrative of Homestuck? Why does Caliborn make the story happen like it does?

Austin: That really is, honestly, a tough question, because while Caliborn's motives are pretty easy to understand — again, he wants to break stuff, he wants to prove that he's better than everyone, especially his fucking sister. And he wants to be all-powerful and all-knowing. And he achieves all of these things, and yet he still sets everything in motion the way he wants. He treats it like a story that he's making.

Kate: While complaining to Calliope about how extremely boring the story, which she has compiled and references, is, like she, like — one of their — one of Caliborn — I think in fact his first conversation of the comic is complaining about how boring the story of the humans is. But is that just a lack of imagination on his part? That's well noted, especially at that early point in his character.

Austin: I just think, like if you're looking at it from a meta sense, I can see why Caliborn thinks that the story is boring, because it's taken a drastically different direction and is doing so many new things throughout the latter half. Caliborn — Caliborn is a character that represents like [pause] as Calliope, he represents a portion of the fanbase. He represents the people who don't really get, and don't really want to get, what happens later on in the comic, and that they're upset about it. So if you wanna put it like this, Calliope is an Act 6 kind of person whereas Caliborn is more of an early Homestuck kind of person and he's just — he's not interested in all of these deeper themes and things that aren't like jokes or powerful displays of bravado, and doing all of these cool wishy-wooshy things with Breath and Time and all of that. He — he wants to get to the meat, he wants the good stuff, he doesn't care about the emotions or the pain of these other characters. He really just wants action and so he shapes Homestuck in the manner that he wants to see it, in direct opposition to Calliope.

Kate: Mhmm. And obviously it's impossible to discuss Caliborn without talking about Calliope, and so much of what he does, even his rampage after achieving all his goals and becoming part of this like, all-powerful immortal being, is still just chasing down Calliope. It's still just trying to prove himself better than his sister, it's still just acting out his resentment against her. That dynamic between them is one of the core conflicts of the comic, even though it's only introduced later. It's foreshadowed quite a bit earlier. Why is Caliborn so obsessed with his sister?

Austin: To me I think it always sort of came off in a manner that — Calliope always sort of had things that Caliborn didn't have. Calliope has the artistic talent, she has the friends, she has the means to her end. She pretty much — she's pretty much happy with where she is in life, and I've never really thought that Caliborn is. Cali — Caliborn always wants to get better, he needs that ambition, he wants to do things that he couldn't previously do before for the simple purpose that he wants to prove that he can do it. And I think the fact that he dislikes Calliope so much is sort of based on that fact. Maybe not necessarily pure inadequacy, but just the fact that he wants to have it.

Kate: If he sees somebody else playing with toys he needs to have them or break them.

Austin: Yeah, it's like — it's like you meet that kid on the playground and he's got, like, the giant fuckin' Yu-Gi-Oh dueldisk.

Kate: [laughs]

Austin: And he's like, 'Well I'm gonna go get a bigger dueldisk and I'm gonna kick your ass with that new, big-ass dueldisk, and it can shoot lasers, and it can order me pizza on speed-dial.'

Kate: What was the point of those things, it seemed like just a more inconvenient way to play Yu-Gi-Oh!

Austin: So you can have, like, 10 Pot of Greeds, so you can keep constantly playing Pot of Greed over and over again.

Kate: Okay. [laughs] I'm not — I'm not up to date on the Yu-Gi-Oh meta, it's been like 10 years at least. Maybe 15 —

Austin: Oh I —

Kate: Or something.

Austin: Oh I've never played Yu-Gi-Oh I'm just talking out of my ass.

Kate: [laughs] Alright, our resident Yu-Gi-Oh correspondent. We actually talked about this a bit on last week's episode, about how the ring of life — like first Vriska wants it, and then Aranea gets it, and both of those efforts fail, and in Aranea's case fail disastrously, because they're acted out of ambition. They're, y'know, they're self-serving, whereas Calliope as the Muse receives the ring of life and just lives with it, and enriches the lives of those that she's around. Let's see, this actually does bring up something that has come up that we talked about last week, which is that by the time of the Masterpiece, Caliborn has the ring of void, which is implied earlier in the story to only be possible if the ring of life is lost. Does that mean that this story is heading for a fundamental unhappy ending for Calliope? Or — what do you make of that?

Austin: Personally I don't think we have enough information to really know what is going on in later Homestuck that wraps everything up, especially with Calliope.

Kate: Mhmm.

Austin: Because if the ring of life is lost then obviously something's happened to it, obviously something's happened to Calliope or there's some sort of — of fuck shit happening. And if something's happened to Calliope and something's happened to the ring of life — Caliborn has gotten both of them in his grasp — then surely you can tell: oh hey, things aren't all so perfect in paradise, and that's part of the reason why John goes over there in the first place, he's just tired of Caliborn's shit.

Kate: And of course it — it is — it is something that's been noted a few times, and whoever said this on Twitter recently I'm sorry for not crediting you, but it's definitely been around, is that, y'know, Caliborn/Lord English has a lot themed around the number 8, and so does Vriska, and both of them are the characters with the most unanswered questions surrounding them, and both Vriska and Lord English are next to each-other, and there were only 7 Acts. With the, y'know, implication being that the unanswered question of both Vriska and Lord English is something that would be the eighth Act, if there was one.

Austin: I think my only real response to that is [long pause] if Caliborn isn't listening to Limp Bizkit in the eighth Act —

Kate: [laughs]

Austin: What's — then what's the point of having one?

Kate: Uh-huh, that's fair. I just had to get my — so this podcast, we contractually have to say 'Vriska', we have to mention her at least once on every episode.

Austin: I really don't know what's going on with Vriska —

Kate: Yeah I don't know either!

Austin: At this point. I have like, no leads as to what's going on with her. Is she dead, is she not dead, is she just kinda hanging around, did she escape? I — I don't know.

Kate: [laughs] One of my favourite theories that I'd seen is that she's just hangin' out, y'know, streaming Minecraft [laughs] in the void!

Austin: [laughs] She's got — she's taken a liking to the Void Weed.

Kate: The Void Weed, well y'know that's the good stuff. That's the dank stuff [translator's note: im in hell].

Austin: [laughs]

Kate: So let's move on and talk about Caliborn's relationship to the Alpha players, because both cherubs grow up only being in contact with each-other through rude missives, and then with these four kids from wildly different positions and times on Earth. Obviously Caliborn specifically says that he's closest to Dirk, and he feels something resembling affinity for him, in addition to finding him a reliable source of 'pornography'. What do you think is sort of the foundation of that relationship between Caliborn and Dirk?

Austin: You know I think everything with Caliborn always ties back to the themes of ambition, and Dirk as a character certainly has a lot of that in one way or another. I think Caliborn really just admires the fact that Dirk is really willing to put his ass on the line for whatever he needs to do in that moment. Like, I think if he were to see it, he would respect the fact that, 'Oh yeah, you just got your fuckin' *head* chopped off in order to do this shit, that's so nice bro. I totally appreciate that you would go out of your way to do that. I mean it's fucking disgusting but like, you did it dude.'

Kate: And clear— I don't think he has the capacity for disgust at violent [laughs]

Austin: Yeah, no, it's not disgusting as a violence, like — he revels in that, it's disgusting that he's doing this for these other people and he doesn't give a shit about them [laughs]

Kate: [laughs] Yeah, that's fair! So there's a — there's a little bit of, y'know, 'why the fuck are you doing this, you're so cool, why don't you just be powerful on your own?'

Austin: I — I also think, if I can bring up this point real quick, I kind of don't really feel like Caliborn's relationship with Jake really went much of anywhere in my personal opinion. I remember they made the Gayboy pact, or whatever it was [laughs]

Kate: [laughs] They did! They made the pact to be as gay as possible.

Austin: Yeah. And I don't really think anything really ever came of that, except, y'know, Caliborn takes Jake's name in the Masterpiece, which we see, but I don't really think that necessarily counts, I kind of feel like it was a plot thread that didn't ever really get wrapped up and I especially feel sad about that cause when I was a — when I was a younger — younger baby boy, and I was thinking about Homestuck theories, I was really into the theory that what would become Union Jack would not take place within Jack but would happen within Jake.

Kate: Mhmm.

Austin: I really liked the literal Jake English theory —

Kate: Yeah.

Austin: That was going on back then.

Kate: And that — that is — that is — that definitely was an interesting thread of theories that were taking place, and in the end — so let's move onto Jake. In the end Jake's relationship to Caliborn was a bit of a red herring, and played mostly for jokes, like a lot of Jake's character, which I know a lot of people are disappointed with the execution of that character in the text. And they do have the — they — they make the Gayboy pact [laughs] as you're calling it!

Austin: [laughs]

Kate: And — and Jake certainly upholds his end of the bargain! [transcriber's note: damn RIGHT] But the — another conversation that they have that is a little bit more important, I think, to understanding them both as characters, is where Jake and — Jake talks to Caliborn about his cognitive issues. He has difficulty emotionally connecting to other people and learning things, and so does Caliborn. He's mentioned directly in the text as having what amounts to something of a learning disability. And it's interesting because Jake tries to approach him sympathetically about this and so does the author character later, but Caliborn doesn't engage with it at all, he doesn't really see it as like a valid angle of thinking about himself

Austin: Yeah, no, he wouldn't think that way, he's been raised to not think that way, it's an entire part of his species that he does not have to think or engage in any secular way about who he is and why he does the things that he does, why he has these issues. Because it's not important to him, and because of that, unlike other characters in the comic, Caliborn doesn't see a need to change to get better. He simply wants to sort of fill that in himself with accomplishments, ambition, and destroyed fuckin' hopes and dreams.

Kate: Mhmm [laughs] And so obviously, like, Caliborn does most of his interacting with the boys. And this is something that I think is kind of unavoidable about his characters, much like Calliope is closer with the girls of the comic, is — is that Caliborn is very much a Boy in the v— in the like, Calvin and Hobbes sense of like, boy in the treehouse, like — like, throwing stink-bombs at girls way. Like he's very much a childish boy. And that's something that literally, like other things about him, literally never changes about him. Like, even — even in other expressions of himself, and combinations with other characters like Doc Scratch and Lord English, he's like, always oppressing women.

Austin: I mean, yeah. Throughout the entirety of the comic he's just shown to not give a shit about anything female. He calls them 'bitches', he frequently insults them, like the — like the log with Jane. And he sees his sister as a lesser being simply for doing the things that she does and that she's not him.

Kate: Yeah.

Austin: So you can easily sort of take that as, 'Oh wow, y'know, this guy he just, straight up does not give a care'. And that sort of goes for all aspects of his personality, that boyish personality that he has. As long as he's having fun and gett— and getting what he wants, he does not give a shit about anybody else.

Kate: Mhmm. He sees — he sees the Bitches as a appropriate reward for a heroic act. And that's about it. And —

Austin: Yeah. They're the spoils, they're there for the sex and grandeur of a job well done.

Kate: Yeah. It's — y'know, and you look at like, how Lord English like, collects, y'know, the Handmaid and — and Sn8wman, and that — they're the bitches for his big — for his big heroic self with his big pimp cane.

Austin: Yeah and he wants to keep that posse going. He wants to continually rack up more and more bitches for his posse. To show them off almost like, like trophies on a trophy case. And it's like, he got Prime Bitch Number One over here, and then we got like, eons upon fuckin' eons of other bitches in the case over here, I can give you the grand tour if you'd like.

Kate: [laughs] I'm Caliborn and this is my crib.

Austin: I — I would pay good money to watch an MTV Cribs of Caliborn. With the obligation that he's wearing the Macklemore coat from Thrift Shop.

Kate: [laughs] Yes, which I'm sure he owns the original copy of. He specifi — I mean he grew up on a destroyed Earth, so that coat probably is somewhere there.

Austin: Yeah, I'm sure he's like, y'know, he's chained down in that deep dank dungeon, but like — who's to say that he didn't get his loving parental clown to go out there, fetch him a nice leather [laughs] — not leather — fur coat.

Kate: [laughs] Rockin' the wolf on his noggin, as it were. Oh the wolf! Like the scary wolf in the author's mansion! There's connection here, this is basically canon. [laughs]

Austin: [wearing a shit-eating grin but in audio form] Yeah, do you — do you not think that I do my research?

Kate: [laughs] You do! You do a deep amount of research. So yeah, Caliborn like pushes Jane over the limit. Always a character of action, his conversation with Jane is what pushes into, like, mental susceptibility to mind control, and pushes her into Crockertier. Which, y'know, ends up being something that is in service of his goals, because it's in service to the Condesce, who's in service to him. But there's no fuckin' way that was on purpose! He just closes his eyes and just does shit, and it just turns out fine.

Austin: Yeah. I think that's one of the reasons why I — I don't want to say that I relate to Caliborn, but I kind of relate to Caliborn. In some — in some warped kind of way. [laughs]

Kate: We're both — we're both ambitious — I think we both do. And i'm — I'm — I honestly do relate to Caliborn in a bit of a warped way. Like, I think anyone who has ever like, just decided that they're gonna do something and then just through sheer force of not giving a fuck about failure does it, can like, find him to be a relatable figure.

Austin: And I think that's what makes him so good. Like Caliborn is a shit ass boyish motherfucker, but he gets shit done. And I think that with any character that's probably one of the most admirable traits that you can have. Caliborn gets shit done, and he talks about it, he's proud of it, and he doesn't have any room for criticism. And like, if you're a creative type, that's what you like, want to be. That's the mental picture in your head, you want to be someone that doesn't take shit and is constantly proud of your work, and I think that's a very good character trait to give to someone who basically is the foundation of everything that opposes this story in almost every context!

Kate: Right, and he created and elevated his own enemies and is like 'look how cool my enemies are'.

Austin: 'I did this.'

Kate: [laughs] 'I made this.'

Austin: [laughs]

Kate: And [laughs] Yeah absolutely, like, he is — he has a heroic narrative in many ways. He is a — he considers himself a hero, certainly. Y'know, he has to conquer all of these supposedly unbeatable challenges to become who he is. And that's an expression of — both he and Calliope are like the Yin and Yang of the comic. And so [pause] Calliope is really good with people, right, like people really, like — y'know the people she interfaces with really like her, she forges these strong social bonds. But she doesn't have ambition, she doesn't get anything done. Things just happen around her and sometimes she, as a Muse, relays information. But there's — there is something to be said about the moral point of the story being that the ideal self is somewhere in-between the two of them. It's not that Calliope is Good and Caliborn is Bad, although that is like true at a base level. It's that, y'know, there is — there's something to be learned from both of these figures that are core to the story's mythology.

Austin: Yeah I completely agree to that because I've never really felt that Homestuck works on a good-and-bad level, at least not to some extent. There are some characters who it's like, 'Oh you're obviously a huge piece of shit and you shouldn't like that', but they always have reasons for what they're doing, or at the very least most of the time they have reasons for what they're doing. And Caliborn is no different, his reasons are just very simple, straight and to-the-point, and I do think that contrasts with Calliope because she also has sort of a want, a will to get some of these things. She wants to be accepted, earlier in the comic she wants to be a troll, she wants people to think of her as a good person who is able to help, and Caliborn just doesn't need that. Caliborn is fine by himself.

Kate: And speaking of — and he certainly is, he's — he is — he's just a really self-defined person. And you see that in a lot of ways — so we're gonna touch on Aspect now, and you see that in a lot of ways with other Time players in this narrative. Y'know Dave's whole arc is about understanding and defining himself as a person, and y'know, realizing that he doesn't need to fit this image of this like, dude hero that he'd been growing up assuming and idolizing. And Aradia's narrative as a Time player is about putting aside the tragedies of her past and flourishing and enjoying life and becoming a person who cherishes that experience of being alive. And Caliborn is like the two of them in that way, there, y'know — there's a really strong thread of commonality between the three main Time players in this comic.

Austin: Yeah. I — I definitely think Caliborn has that as well. He is self-defined in pretty much every stretch of the word, and he doesn't need anybody in order to make himself whole. He — again, he builds himself on his accomplishments, and all he needs are those accomplishments. Though Aradia and Dave, they self-define in a way of betterment, whereas Caliborn, again, as we said earlier just — he doesn't want to change. His arc does not revolve around him changing and growing up. Caliborn's arc revolves around him looping back into becoming Lord English and setting up everything in the comic.

Kate: Mhmm. And then of course there's the class. Caliborn and Calliope both have special Master classes that aren't seen on other characters in this comic. And they're defined as the most active and most passive classes on the spectrum by Calliope. And so obviously Caliborn's the only example of a Lord that we have. What do you think he says about Master classes, and what does it mean to be a Lord?

Austin: I think Caliborn as a Lord really does — I think he really is probably the most spitting example of one that you can have. Caliborn is a take no shit, get everything done, and get it done as quick and as properly as possible in the most badass way that you can. And I think, as the most active class, I think that sort of mentality fits for a Lord. They know what they want, they know what they're going to do, and they know exactly how they're going to do it after they get the instructions for what they're supposed to do. And even — even maybe not doing it in the way that they're supposed to do, they don't care as long as they get shit done. And I think that really speaks for what a Lord should be. Cause they lord over their Aspect, they — they make the Aspect their bitch.

Kate: [laughs] Yeah.

Austin: As Caliborn tends to do [laughs]

Kate: Yeah, and — and there's also a second meaning to 'lord', there's like the feudal meaning where you have noble — you have people working under you and doing things for you, and that's a really common theme for Caliborn too, even at the very start of his narrative. He doesn't kill Calliope, he gets Jack to do it for him. Like, he doesn't — he doesn't run this mob ring, he gets The Felt to do it for him. He doesn't even —

Austin: He gets Doc Scratch to do it for him.

Kate: Right, right. He makes Doc Scratch do everything else for him. LIke — like, that — like, 'lord' can also be seen as a — as a sort of delegator role, the ability to make other people do your shit for you.

Austin: And Caliborn, as you just said — he makes everybody do his bidding, like, Lord English is an om— is like an omnipotent presence, he's always there, as he says. He's 'already here'. But he doesn't really need to do anything because Caliborn, and again by extension Lord English, they have people for that!

Kate: [laughs] Yeah, I got — yeah, I've got people for thi— like, conquering the universe? Ensuring my own existence? Gettin' all the bitches? i — yeah I have people for that. I have an office for that. [laughs]

Austin: He doesn't *need* to be there unless he's like, explicitly needed, which he is for the endgame. But otherwise, like, again, what does he have to be there for. He needs to be out there, fuckin' riding in his god damn sarcophagus blowing shit up. Everybody else will handle the paperwork.

Kate: [laughs] Yeah, exactly. [laughs] He — he really is, he's an ef— y'know, he's an effective manager! I think it's important for anybody in a management position to look towards Caliborn for inspiration.

Austin: I know I do!

Kate: Yeah! [laughs] It's important to have people for that. So we got some questions from listeners this week, and I appreciate all of them, but I do wanna say there is — yes, we are aware that 'Caliborn goes to Starbucks' exists. It is a very funny video, but like, the seven questions about 'can I get a burger' are actually not really something that we can talk about on the show. [laughs] Unless you have some hot insight on 'Caliborn goes to Starbucks'!

Austin: I think it's — I think it's a Big Funny. I too would like a burger.

Kate: I would like a burger — I had a burger for dinner yesterday and I want another one now.

Austin: I'm eating right now and I would like a burger.

Kate: [laughs] You wanna put a burger on *top* of your slice of pizza.

Austin: Yeah!

Kate: [laughs]

Austin: And I relate to Caliborn in that way too.

Kate: He just eats meat and candy?

Austin: Yeah!

Kate: [laughs] You're —

Austin: I haven't eaten c— I haven't eaten a fruit in years!

Kate: I — this pod— an important sub-thread of this podcast is like, as the episodes develop, I want the — I want the listener to become more and more concerned about Austin:'s dining habits.

Austin: [laughs] Look up — come into the Vast Error Discord at some point, look up the 'Austin Challenge'.

Kate: You know what, let's actually talk about that in the post-show after we get to these questions. [laughs]

Austin: Okay. Yeah sure.

Kate: So — questions. Zillyhoolio asks on our Discord: 'Can we even start to look at the implications of the Homestuck cartridge being in his hands?' That is a super fucky moment! At no point during the story am I entirely clear on what the discs and game cartridges are like, supposed to be. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Austin: I never really saw them as anything more as like, a meta way to say 'oh hey we're done with this portion of the story, here's the next portion of the story', so I never really thought much about what the implications of Caliborn having the Homestuck cartridge for Act 6 Act 6 are, other than: ha ha, It's a funny way of talking about Part 4 of the comic, he's going to fuck it up and so we're gonna have John un-fuck it up because he's the protagonist.

Kate: Mhmm.

Austin: I — I don't really — I don't really think there was much of a deeper meaning there to be completely honest.

Kate: Alright, that's fair. That's a fair take. The sudden — what about the sudden philosophi— philosophical moment of him discovering that you can make a circle with right angles? There's like a calculus joke in there, but I'm not good at math, so I didn't fully get it.

Austin: I too am not good at math, but I'm proud of Caliborn for being able to make a circle with right angles. I think only the like, biggest Kaiser of Being Shit at Art could make something like that happen.

Kate: Uh-huh. So, he basically invented calculus in-universe, and I don't understand enough about math to dispute it. [transcriber's note: Calculus is also a valid Cherub name]

Austin: And I don't think he does either, so we're good.

Kate: [laughs] Yeah! Or — or even his rampant need as an Artiste to keep changing the medium in which he creates!

Austin: Yeah, it's why he creates Calicore!

Kate: [laughs] Of course! It all comes back to the stupid, fucking album! [laughs]

Austin: [laughs] It all comes back to Macklemore, Limp Bizkit, and System of a Down! [laughs]

Kate: God *fucking* damn it —

Austin: It's like the Mackle man says to him [long pause]

Kate: What does he say?

Austin: [laughs] That's — the — [laughs]

Kate: [laughs] Um —

Austin: [struggling to speak through laughter] That's 20 dollars for a t-shirt — [laughter continues in the background]

Kate: [laughs] Okay! Um — [laughs] God damn it.

Austin: [breaks into wheezy laughter after failing to pull himself together]

Kate: [laughs]

Austin: Kate continue, I'm sorry! [laughs]

Kate: [laughs] I hate you so fuckin' much sometimes.

Austin: [laughs]

Kate: Um, LikeClockwork continues on and he asks: 'Please tell me y'all are gonna talk about Caliborn represents toxic masculinity, and how it's very important for Dave's character arc that he defeats a manifestation of Lord English.' This is obvi— this is a little bit more my wheelhouse — I — y'know, I've definitely gone on the record about this, and I said it in the Calliope episode, that like [pause] Shitty, aggressive masculinity is like, *the* core villainous concept in this work, and that characters, either male or female, y'know, eschewing that concept and being more in touch with their emotions and their ability to relate to other people is [pause] I think, the like — a sort of — closer to the axis by which you can read Homestuck accurately than just straight good or evil is.

Austin: [long pause] Yeah, I completely agree with that sentiment. Like you said, I think that's a question more so in your wheelhouse. I definitely think that Caliborn is a representation of toxic masculinity and what it means to have that. It's pretty plainly obvious, as we've gone over, with the bitches, how he sees women as prizes and otherwise pretty useless if not for like, the sex, and the fact that they're women that he can put on his gilded fucking wall of women, but — I — outside of h— ugh, sorry — outside of it being an aspect of his character, I haven't really put an insane amount of thought into what the deeper meanings of it could be. I'm not really that big of a theorist in that regard —

Kate: Uh-huh, but it does —

Austin: So I'm sorry I don't have more to say about it.

Kate: It does draw a contrast between him and Dave, because Dave very explicity — like explicitly in text, like, talks about that view of women and that view of what he's supposed to be as a boy, as like someone who is just gettin' the girls by being cool, and he says 'that's bullshit, I realize that's bullshit, and I'm happier because of it.' And so, y'know —

Austin: Snoop Dogg —

Kate: Snoop Dogg —

Austin: Was not always right [laughs]

Kate: Snoop Dogg was not always right, man. And that's — that's something that, y'know, you just have to accept as you grow up, and that's why Homestuck's a coming-of-age story.

Austin: [laughs] Cause it talks about Snoop Dogg [laughs]

Kate: [laughs] Yeah! Cause it talks about SnoopDogg! Amazingspaceship asks on Twitter: 'Can you maybe talk about Caliborn's role as a distinct antagonist from Lord English, his transformation into Lord English, and what that means for his character arc as a whole? Does he even count as an antagonist??'

Austin: I believe he does, and I believe because he falls into that transformation of Lord English, that sort of ultimate power that is Lord English, that means he is by definition an antagonist, but as a kind of counterpoint to this, again when I was a — when I was a baby — when I was a Baby Man, readin — readin' Homestuck along for the first few goes 'round — I didn't think Caliborn was a part of Lord English at all: I thought Caliborn was like, the post-scratch version of him, but I never really thought they were the same person. I sort of saw Caliborn like his — like his son.

Kate: [laughs] Dad — Dad English. Yeah and that's fair, and — and of course, it's just like, there's a lot of stuff about Lord English that we just fundamentally can't answer because we only saw it through shitty claymation and like, bad dialogue. So we really, like, do not know what the fuck the deal is with a lot of that.

Austin: Yeah. He's — as people have pointed out, he's — Lord English himself is much less straight villain like I would say Caliborn is, like Caliborn is a straight-up antagonist. Lord English is like the final form of that, he's a force of nature more than he is strict, just, Bad Guy [laughs]

Kate: It's like when you beat — when you beat Ganondorf and he turns into Ganon. It's like [laughs] he's, y'know, he is the final Final Boss, the bestial version of your — of your typical like, like, humanized Boss figure. So that's — those were the — those were the main story questions. We also got a question from somebody on Twitter, and I don't remember your @, but I'm just thinking about it now and it asked 'Does Caliborn play Fortnite?' and the answer is OBVIOUSLY.

Austin: Dude, he's Number 1 victory royale! He do— what do you think his favorite dance is?

Kate: Default.

Austin: Default.

Kate: [laughs] He just didn't know how to change it!

Austin: [laughs]

Kate: [laughs] He never figured out, so he just says its his favorite!

Austin: Do you think if you were to play with all the other Beta Kids, like, say the masterpiece, instead of actually fighting they just do a game of Fortnite, do you think he would own all of them epic awesome style?

Kate: [laughs] He would absolutely own all of them epic awesome style. He's a gamer!

Austin: [laughs]

Kate: That's why it took — that's why it took Vriska to potentially defeat Lord English, because Vriska's the only other character in the work who's as big of a Gamer as — as Caliborn is.

Austin: [laughs wheezily] Yeah, but here's the thing though.

Kate: Uh-huh.

Austin: Vriska does not listen to Macklemore.

Kate: [laughs]

Austin: So I think Caliborn has that edge.

Kate: Uh-huh. I'll — I — I think we're in agreement on that point about Vriska's musical taste.

Austin: [laughs]

Kate: [laughs] Alright, so, that's our show! This has been a delightful exploration of everybody's least favorite Cherub. [laughs] And you can follow me, Kate Mitchell, on Twitter at twitter.com/gamblignant8, that's where I post my dumb Homestuck jokes and shitposts. And occasionally thoughtful analysis, although I don't do that much as— these days cause I have this podcast for that. You can follow our guest at twitter.com/avstinado, a-v-s-t-i-n-a-d-o. But also, Austin, you are — you are a venerable part of the creative team behind Vast Error, an excellent MSPFA that we've talked about on the show before that I recommend to everybody. You can follow that comic at twitter.com/vasterror, or vasterror.tumblr.com, or just go to vasterror.com to read it properly. Do it, or I will kill you! [laughs] You can follow the podcast at twitter.com/pgenpod, or perfectlygenericpodcast.com. You can also subscribe and rate us on iTunes, or on your favorite podcast client. The ou— the songs for this episode, first one was "DOWN WITH A CRUEL ANGELS SAME LOVE." from THE REBORNENING by THE NEW CALIBORN which we discussed earlier, a collaboration between Austin and Momo. And the outro track that you hear right now is not my choice, but "ITS EVERYDAY. BRO." —

Austin: [breaks into hysterical, raucous laughter]

Kate: Which is — can you talk about this song a little bit?

Austin: This wasn't my choi— I mean it was my choice for the ending —

Kate: YOU TOLD ME TO USE IT!!!!

Austin: It was my choice for the ending but I did not have any part in this. The Cool and New Music Team did a, like, spiritual successor to THE REBORNENING with a Caliborn channel takeover, and they made— they just did like a fully voice-acted, new lyrics version of "It's Everyday Bro" with Caliborn, Gamzee and Lil Hal, and also it has Bart in it, it follows the old Act 8 lore [laughs]

Kate: So —

Austin: And it's just — it's just one of the greatest things I've ever heard in my life.

Kate: It is! So — so that's gonna take over now, and if you get through that, if you finish this song, you get to hear about the Austin Challenge. So podcast listeners, this is my challenge to you. Enjoy "ITS EVERYDAY. BRO" by Caliborn, featuring Jake Maverick Paul.

[an all-encompassing, all-disgusting audio experience begins to assault your eardrums. you black out for a period of several minutes. when you regain consciousness, you have a splitting headache, and a distinct aftertaste of crude oil. blinking the rap-induced delirium from your eyes, you begin to hear something else. a familiar voice. a friendly voice.]

Kate: Alright, now let's talk about the Austin Challenge.

Austin: Let's talk about the Austin Challenge! What do you wanna know?

Kate: What is — I already know, but for the benefit of our listeners, can you — can you describe some of the feats that might be required to claim an Austin Challenge?

Austin: So the Austin Challenge is a set of a few challenges based off of real, actual food-eating feats I have accomplished in my life. I'm well known for having an iron stomach, and sort of having like a cartoon-y demeanor when it comes to my eating habits, and also my actual body. So what you'd be doing is, I've taken some of these events from my life and if you can accomplish some of these events such as drinking a Hell Cocktail that I was once given in an attempt to make me throw up at a Halloween party, or eating twelve tacos and a loaded griller from Taco Bell with a large drink —

Kate: [laughs, but with a hint of disgust]

Austin: Or going to Vermont and eating an entire Vermonster Sundae, those who are worthy enough to finish that and send a video so I know that they didn't cheat get to ask one free question without restrain on spoilers about Vast Error, cause people really cared that much!

Kate: There are people — there's — there's what, there's three people that have done this so— so far?

Austin: Three people who have done it so far and quite a few others who have attempted, yes [laughs]

Kate: Uh-huh, but they failed, they did not succeed [laughs]

Austin: They did not succeed because they're not me!

Kate: [laughs] One of the people who succeeded was like, a teenage girl! And —

Austin: *Two* of them were teenage girls!

Kate: Two of them were teenage girls, and I admire that *so* much. That's — that is — I mean I believe in— I believe in the youth of America more than ever after hearing about their success in the Austin Challenge.

Austin: One of them was a guy who — one of the challenges was, over a 24 hour period, you have to drink 8 liters of soda.

Kate: [sobs in actual disgust]

Austin: And *I* did that, but the — that one had to be tweaked a little, because if we did what I did, they'd probably die. Because I drank 8 liters of soda in a lesser amount of time, it was throughou— it was before I went to bed, so I wanna say it was at least like, 12 hour period or less, and I didn't eat anything. I just drank soda that entire day.

Kate: That is *so* fucking terrifying dude.

Austin: Hey I'm in perfect health, my doctor says so.

Kate: Uh-huh, alright, so everybody, thank— [struggling not to laugh] thank you for listening to the Perfectly Generic Podcast, where we — you know, an exploration of some of the most popular figures in Homestuck fan-community's dietary habits [laughs] Please send @vasterror on Twitter pictures of vegetables for me!

[outro]

Kate: Hey guys, Kate here, just a quick note at the end of the show. I'm gonna be giving away 5 copies of Hiveswap and 5 copies of all the Friendsims. You can follow the show on Twitter, twitter.com slash p-g-e-n-p-o-d to find out more. I look forward to sharing these awesome games with some of our listeners [transcriber's note: this giveaway has now ended!]