I realize BattleBots Update has been dead in the water for quite some time, and I can explain that. This website was gone long enough for most people to assume it had moved on to the giant scrapyard in the sky to join the greats like Vlad the Impaler and… Abattoir. However, as a famous writer who once used the N-word in one of his books said: “the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”. BattleBots Update merely took an “extended hiatus” while I tried my best to sort out my personal life and I’m pleased to announce that after all this time I haven’t fixed a goddamned thing!
MAULER 5150, MINUS THE “MAULER”
The reason this website went down was over matters of personal shame. Not from BattleBots or any of the teams or crew, but from the company that I chose to keep while engaging with the robot combat community. That includes my appearances and behavior at the live tapings of BattleBots’ 2016, 2018, and 2019 seasons. I allowed a couple of raunchy inside jokes from this blog to fester and run rampant. Despite being very uncomfortable with the aforementioned in-jokes I allowed them to be associated with me “for the memes”, but by the time I tried to take a step back and assess the situation I realized the only way to deal with it was to either give up completely or scorch and salt the earth.
I initially chose the former, but after finding my gas can and a fifth of whiskey I’ve instead chosen to throw both caution and my middle finger to the wind and go with the latter.
I’m not naming names. I don’t want to start any drama, I genuinely would not be able to handle it. In the months that BattleBots Update was offline I landed myself a stint in a psychiatric hospital after I suffered a severe episode and decided to go full Tombstone on my father’s porch furniture, injuring myself in the process. (For the record, you never go full Tombstone.) So yeah, I spent a while wearing my official One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest outfit in a place where I couldn’t even take a shit without someone knocking on the bathroom door every five minutes asking if I was trying to hang myself or whatever the fuck you can do to harm yourself in a bathroom the size of a water heater closet. Drown yourself in your own piss, probably.
BattleBots Update went offline because it was absolutely paramount I migrated it away from its then-current host. I hastily tore it down with the intentions of figuring out a plan in the days that followed. This downtime was expected to last maybe a week or two while a trusted friend and I set the site up on a private server… however as anyone who’s ever migrated a WordPress can tell you the process is like trying to fit a giant couch through a tiny doorway. Also the couch is made out of Lego and the minute you set it down to see if it looks good it immediately breaks in half at the center. It’s a fucking nightmare. I would’ve said it’s like building IKEA furniture if the only directions given to you was a booklet that said “lmfao go fuck yourself” but I had to replace that joke because it turns out that’s exactly what IKEA’s directions actually say.
The other part of the reason is something I’m sure you can probably deduce on your own: mental health. Specifically “mental illness”, I guess. People don’t just show up at psych wards on a whim because they find themselves with a sudden insatiable craving for plastic mattresses and a complete lack of personal privacy. Those who do… well… they probably belong in a fucking nuthouse to begin with. I’ve joked about it before, but my struggles with mental illness have worsened over the years and finally intensified to the point where I required hospitalization. My diagnoses were adjusted to include some pretty terrifying adjectives, and in the middle of this my doctor(s) recognized PTSD, Asperger’s syndrome, and what was formerly known as paranoid schizophrenia as more stuff to throw onto the bonfire. My behavioral health specialist even noted that after taking a nearly 600 point questionnaire my highest scoring trait was “paranoia” by, and I’m quoting here, “a very worrying margin”. A distant second and third place went to depression and anxiety. Because of course they did.
I guess you could say it’s me who’s the Giant Nut around here.
Look, my nickname was “Dracophile”. I “earned” that name in high school as a pejorative but I dimwittedly reclaimed it and made it my own. It’s shortened to just “Draco” now, but y’all aren’t stupid; you know the implications that name has. You know the literal fucking gutter I came from before I was able to make a better name for myself with this blog and even then I continued fuck things up left and right; I don’t need to spell it out for you, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about and think I sound like a fucking nutcase then GOOD. I was taken advantage of and the less I say about what happened to me the better; I left that community of dirtbags traumatized to the point where my monthly average score on the standardized PTSD assessment for all of 2020 was a fucking 61 (highest single score being 65). The scale only goes up to 80. The return of BattleBots blessed me with this project and I credit it with helping me get my life in order and to start making better choices, but that’s a process. Things don’t just magically fix themselves overnight.
I’m a good person, and I can only speak for myself and honestly maybe like two other people. And right now it’s only me and my best friend of nearly two decades who are managing this website. That’s how it’s going to stay for now and forever. We both have our struggles but I would trust this man with my life, and in some instances I actually have. But my associations prior to this arrangement? Now that I’ve put enough distance between who I am today and who I was many years ago the only thought that enters my mind is “how fucking stupid was I to believe that ANY of these people had my best interests in mind?”
I don’t think I will be able to return to another taping of BattleBots. This isn’t because I hold any grudges with the producers or with any of the competitors. No, this is because I know that if I do return I might run into the ghosts of my past and when it comes to ghosts let me tell you something: bustin’ makes me feel good. Unlike Kenny Florian I win by knockout. BattleBots has been a love and a dream of mine since I was in middle school 20+ years ago and I’m not going to let a few rotten apples take this love of mine away from me. I still maintain the same level of respect and reverence for Trey, Greg, Peter, Aaron, and all the others who make this amazing event a reality.
Expectations need to be set for this season. I’m running on empty and that’s the way it’s going to be for some time. BattleBots as a show has just continued to grow bigger and bigger. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very good thing, but I’m a writer; I don’t do podcasts or videos or anything like that, I have to sit here on my ass and write these articles. These episodes are about 90 minutes long without commercials and I usually need to watch them at least 3 times in some form just to get the content I need. That’s like watching one of the director’s cuts of the Lord of the Rings films every single week and also writing a lengthy analysis of it that needs to be funny too. In the middle of the previous season I mentioned this website had hit the mark of over one million words if you added up all of the word counts of the articles at that time. A MILLION. It’s more than that now. For fuck’s sake, the King James Version of The Bible only has 783,000 words in it. War and Peace has about 500,000. I could’ve written both something to start my own goddamned religion AND had enough words left over to write something about whatever the hell War and Peace is about; I haven’t read that because my attention span stops somewhere around the length of a Goosebumps book.
So, I don’t know if I will be able to churn out an article every single week like I used to do. That’s a very tall order when we’re dealing with episodes that are this long and at this volume, even with 2020/2021’s truncated season. Also this doesn’t even factor in all the time that winds up wasted because I’m curled up in my bed crying like a little bitch at all the fucking demons that won’t leave me alone. This is what it’s come down to, and I am okay with pulling the curtain back and letting you know not just how much I hurt but how much I have been hurting all these years. I will do my best to be timely with BattleBots Update, though please understand that we’re starting with the season already over. I’m also going to throw “having an article ready every week on ____day” out the window and will instead adopt the lovable development update made famous by Duke Nukem Forever: “it’ll be done when it’s done”.
The sport of robot combat is very important to me. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people in the time I’ve spent in this community and many of you helped me get the perspective I needed to make a change for the better in my life. (For that, I would like to extend very special thanks to Jill Mucci and Debbie Vasquez for being amazing “bot moms”.) BattleBots Update will live on; there’s still a lot of work to be done and it wasn’t “my time” yet. I hope that you’ll continue to enjoy the ride and will be patient when we inevitably hit rough patches — case in point — we’ll make it there in the end even if all the other content creators reach the finish line before I do. We’re dragging this fight out to the final buzzer and sending it to a judges’ decision. Even though I just said I win all my fights by knockout. You know what, fuck it.
I am Draco, and welcome back to BattleBots Update.