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Friday, August 30, 2013

WUMF: August 2013 Edition

Wow, another WUMF out on time… watch out, we got a badass over here.

Obligatory YouTube Update  
Winding down the first season of Mongo Smashes Minecraft is hard.  The series is sort of driven by the achievement board and I’m having issues getting a few as well as just having time to play.  With my kid back in school, it will be easier, but I’ve just been too tired to be “on” when I go to record.  Over the summer I started a new series, “Skyblock” which was a survival challenge.   The last few episodes are sort of down in energy as I’m just going through the motions to finish it.   A highlight has been taking on Sims 3 from a more observant view.   Two episodes in and I think it’s some of my better work which makes up for the dreaded SimCity debacle.  Still, I am not doing enough, but that’s another story.
So, the commercial end of summer is upon us.  For those of us in the SWPA it doesn’t seem like we had a summer, really.   There were days I would get out to the car at 5:50AM and I could see my breath.  That’s nothing compared to mention of the rain we had.   Looks like we’ll probably have 80 degrees temperatures around Thanksgiving.
Pttsburgh Sports
The Pirates are five games away from breaking the curse of Barry Bonds.  FIVE GAMES to beat .500.  Now, for some that is a landmark achievement.  For basically every other team out there, that’s average.  I cannot fathom why we are content with mediocrity.  Some will say, “Don’t rush it.  It’s a start.”  No, that start began three years ago and each year they sniffed .500 until somewhere in the middle of the season they choked.  Also, that slow rebuilding phase should have began ten years ago and it didn’t.   Sorry, but I have refused to get on the bandwagon, and it probably was for the best as this year they are set to finally have a winning season.  Once again, though, I ask, “How can a team that had a four game lead on The St. Louis Cardinals be happy with .500?”  This should be a pennant race season.
The Steelers on the other hand had a lot of promise.  And half their players are now on IR, DL, PUP, or other teams’ roster lists.  They just closed out preseason with 0-4 and after last year’s 8-8 I don’t give them much chance of making it to the AFC Championship.   At least their schedule is a little better, this year.  When I saw most of the division games in the last part of the year I was worried.    I was right to be worried.
Speaking of 20 years
At the end of next month, my high school’s 20 year reunion is taking place.  I haven’t been to one yet, so why not keep the streak alive.   It’s funny but when you get caught up in all the nostalgia and current drama with your classmates from way back when, you find yourself stuck back in that world, all over again.  While I had a blast in 1993, these days it’s no so fun to relive what it was like for me then.   You never really do leave high school.  You just keep getting sucked back into the same old shit you were subjected to then.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What's Left In Pandora's Box

Sometimes we become so despondent that we cling to the wrong things.  A man sinking in quicksand might reach for a poisonous snake if he thought it could support his weight and help him escape.  Desperate times call for even more desperate measures.   Cliches as long as your arm will come to mind.

In your life, you may find yourself having to open a Pandora’s Box.   You do it, not because of curiosity, but because there is no other way to begin the healing process.   You dread it.   You rationalize keeping it closed.  You bargain with yourself that it will get better without getting worse.   However, in the end, the box gets opened, consciously or subconsciously.  All you can do is let it envelope you and swim against the current to dry land.   The worst part is that you can’t see the shore.  You have no bearing on where it is.   You could unknowingly swim back towards the whirlpool that looks to suck you down into the dark abyss, and almost not realize it.  

Yes, there are days when you want to crawl into that hole, turn on the depressing music, and poke at the scabs on your soul because feeling that pain is better than nothing at all.  And in that hole, you see the one thing left that wasn’t let out of Pandora’s Box.  That’s when the evils in the world look friendly and safe.   Drugs.  Alcohol.  Harming yourself or others.  And there in the darkness is that one thing, above all else, that you could cling to.   Hope.   

But sometimes, we need hope.  Sometimes the pain is too deep and great to simply let it all in.  Sometimes to get through the darkest parts of the process, we need to latch onto a life raft full of needles while we wear a suit of armor made of water balloons.  We could ultimately end up drowning from within, but there is a chance we can survive it and that is better than drowning out in the open.   Hope is something that if handled correctly, could be a lifeline. 

The problem is that you can put too much faith in hope.  Hope is still an evil.   You may hope that you can fix everything and go back to the way it was.  That could very well be, but most likely, it won’t.    Hope can also push you blindly into another direction.  You can put all your faith in hoping for a certain solution and you don’t see that it’s not a solution at all.   When that hope gets dashed, you fall faster and deeper back towards the brink.  You may even go over.

I’m saying you shouldn’t rely on hope.   It can be a powerful thing.  Hope can be a light in the darkness.  It can be a magical sword that slays any and all monsters in your path.  

The one thing to remember is that hope best serves you in limited stretches.   It’s like the star in Super Mario Bros. that makes you invincible, but it’s limited and will run out.   It’s that tire in your trunk.  You put it on, when you have a flat, but you can’t drive fast or take on tough terrain.  You slowly work towards the goal of getting a new tire at a service station down the road.  Don’t abuse hope or put all of your faith in it.  It’s just a temporary fix.   

If treat hope with respect and fairness it will help.  If you use it as a shield, running headlong into danger, it will crack and leave you defenseless.    But, sometimes, in the darkness, it’s the best choice to light the way out.  That is why hope was trapped in the box.  If left open, it would have escaped with all the other evils into the world.  In the box, you can use it when you need it, but you have to put it back or it will escape and betray you.   Never lose hope.

Other people can be your hope, but not your savior.  They can give you hope but you are your own savior.
Religion can be your hope, but without faith in yourself, it’s only temporary.

Trust in you.  Trust in the process.   Trust that hope will carry you to the shore and will then let you lead, never interfering with choosing the right path.  If others are with you, then that’s great.    However, if you are alone, that’s OK, too.  You are all you need to survive.  You and a little hope tucked away.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Mess With My Kids And...

Trawl around Facebook for any given length of time and you’ll undoubtedly see a lot of inspirational images with words emblazoned across a magnificent background, denoting how you should live, love, or leave those around you.  You also see ecards about wine and aging, but that’s beside the point.

A lot of times you see quotes about parenting.  You see pictures of parents doing it right, and you see a lot of pictures of parents doing it wrong or worse yet, missing children.  Then you see fifteen comments about how awful people can be, followed by one link to Snopes where you find out it’s all fake.

In any case, I’ve taken a different approach.    As it is, my kid is out of control.  I mean that in a good way.  She’s way too intuitive, but unrefined.   She said yesterday that she didn’t want to start first grade.  She was smart enough.  “You already told me I’m too smart for my own good.”

It’s only going to get worse, people.

Here would be my ecard/memes/etc.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Freedom from indistinctness or ambiguity. 

That’s one of the definitions from Listed synonyms include: Intelligibility, exactness, simplicity.

It’s also said that people can find a moment of clarity, like drug users.   They find some truth, some understanding.  Something comes into focus and their vision becomes unclouded.

Well, sometimes people need to find that moment of clarity in their life, but they are going to do incredibly stupid things prior to that light bulb going off in their heads.

Unfortunately, for me, as a teenager, that bulb never went off.  I would float from cloud to cloud, hoping and wishing, secretly pining for certain people.    They either knew and ignored it or dug in deep to get away from the major dork that resided in their class.

Looking back, it seems so 80s movie stereotypical.  It seems stupid.   It seems ridiculous.   It seems so familiar.

I usually followed two courses  I would hang back, hoping that something in my eyes, buried behind coke bottle glasses would connect with their gaze, attracting them to my undeniable charm and ability to burn ants with simply a nod of my head on a sunny day.  If that didn’t work, I would make these grandiose gestures of friendship, thinking that, by definition, I was laying some sort of groundwork with which I could build some castle for us to live happily ever after.

Yeah, in either case,  I was an idiot.   I was unclear.  I was ambiguous.   I didn’t have clarity.

As a teen, the forces of nature and biology are against you.     Your body rebels against you.  Hair grows.  Voice changes.  You become a freak of nature.  Your own feet attempt to kill you when you walk.  When you speak, birds screech and eardrums pierce.  Your brain forms words that aren’t in any intelligible nature.  You look like a stroke victim in a cartoon.

Social anxiety and class also thwarts your attempts to rise up and change your lot in life.  You can’t crash the cool table and expect to sit next to the King and Queen without anyone noticing the peasants in the room.  And don’t even think about trying to steal their hearts.   That just won’t happen.  Not unless you are in a John Hughes universe.  Not unless you are already pretty hot, disguised by some frumpy outfit that morphs you into a drop dead hottie in some four minute montage.

So, what?

What’s the worst that can happen?  You’ll get laughed at?  You’ll get shot down?  You’ll find out that are already dating some Greek God/Goddess equivalent that is on some other plane of existence than you? Yes, Yes, Yes.


Go down in some epic blaze of dorkish glory because you know what;  in ten years, you’ll be at some shit job, paying back student loans, driving a piece of crap that leaks fluid, and wonder where it all went.  They will probably be in suburbia with the other real housewives or country club guys and that doesn’t matter.   You’ll find each other on whatever social media platform exists at that moment in time and you will make the same mistakes all over again.

Don’t hang back.  Jump out in front of the love bus and at least do what so many wish they would do.

What will go wrong?

Facebook will document it, Likes for your misery will number in the millions.   Twitter will favorite it, retweeting it to the Huffington Post.  You’ll probably have to change planets to hide from the collateral damage but for Ducky’s Sake get in the game.

But listen to this 38 year old who has been there.  I’ve made that mistake time and time again in my youth.  I laid it all out on the line, two minutes too late.  “You’re a good friend.  You’re a great guy.  You’re funny.  I have a brain cloud.”  Wait, what?  I’m pretty sure you made up that last one. 

Look, that girl or guy is going to get hit on by much worse than you.  They’re also going to get hit on by much better.   Your heart is going to be broken 1000 times in your life and each one is going to be more devastating than the last.

So, be the Edison of broken hearts.   Don’t fail.  Just find 10000 ways to not succeed.  You only fail if you quit.   One time it will work.  Sometimes it might be someone with a whole underground garage full of crazy.  Just hide the sharp objects and breakables.

The best thing you can hope for is some experience.   You may even find confidence.  You may find yourself doing things better, coming off more suave in the future.   You may find yourself having to turn some people down.  

Fix yourself, first, though.  I’m not saying change.  Don’t ever change.  Well, unless you’re an asshole.  Then, by all means, napalm yourself and build it back up from the rubble.    But don’t change what’s good about yourself.    That’s the bottom line.  That’s the thing you need to get them to drive off the lot in you.  But you need to augment that.  Bring things to the forefront that not everyone knows about, or at least they don’t understand.  Make them see why it’s important to you and why it makes you better than the rest.  Everyone puts up a front with first impressions.   In reality, we all have a pair of underwear that have a hole the size of the grand canyon in them and we wear them every chance they come up in the rotation.  No one is perfect, no matter how much they sell it in the window.

You really think people buy cars based on how well they move?  No, they buy the bells and whistles or the right color or detailing.   That’s the superficial stuff that sells the car.  The car being able to make it from point A to B is the same on every version of that same car.     If it works, it works on every one of them.  What makes you stand out is the power steering or the moon roof.

Hell, screw it, be give yourself a plate that says “Fresh” and hang dice from the mirror. 

Do whatever it takes to realize that you are the person they need to notice.   Don’t hang back.  Don’t be vague with gestures or goodwill. 

Give them some clarity.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Away Alone

It’s that time again, the time when they shut down half of the streets in Oakland while yellow laundry carts crisscross the campus, stuffed to the gills with lava lamps, microwaves, and refrigerators.

Mothers will weep as they say goodbye to their little birds leaving the nest.   Yet, Fathers will dispense words of wisdom to their sons about responsibility and adulthood, all while noticing the crop of young coed girls.   Moms will sigh, Dads will say, “Sick em, boy!”  And thus the cycle begins, again.  Those clean cut kids from suburbia will turn into tattoo getting, bong toking, mistake making animals, all the while surviving solely on Rum, Ramen, and Red Bull.

However, research says that the average college student isn’t having any more sex than the ones from 25 years ago.  Really?  Maybe not, unless they just aren’t admitting to it.  I’d venture to say they are, or at least they are redefining what the definition is and who it is with these days.  I'm sure patrols are still set up in the quad to take note of all those participating in the Walk of Shame 5K.

Now, before parents go completely bonkers over this kind of thing, you have to understand, college is uncharted territory.  Remember that scene in Home Alone?

That’s what it’s like.  You go from a sheltered environment to complete and utter freedom.  No one is there to make sure you get up, go to class, do your homework, or take care of yourself.   You step onto that campus and 7 years of suppressed primal freedom just explodes.  You lose your composure.  There’s vice everywhere and no authoritative body to say no, outside of campus police.  Kids are basically kicked out of the nest into the real world and expected to make the right decision.  And even if you are the best parent in the world, expect there to be some bad choices made.  And also realize, that it’s OK. 

Your kids will be fine.  They are going to have to go through this, eventually.  Would you rather them have that moment in the real world, when they are completely on their own, with no parachute, or benefits?

Even adults have these moments.  I was left alone to my devices last weekend and for two days, I managed to eat at Sheetz twice for lunch.  I did, however, do some work around the house, cut the grass, and kept the place from catching fire, so win!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Top Ten Queen Moments on Film

Having just learned that Sacha Baron Cohen backed out of playing Freddie Mercury in a biopic film, I felt the need to look back at cinema and cherry pick my favorite uses of Queen music from films.

With that I give you Top Ten Queen Moments on Film.

10: Iron Man 2 - "Another One Bites The Dust" (Remix)
It wasn't the greatest of sequels.   But there is a brief moment where Iron Man faces off with his best friend, wearing the War Machine suit and Queen kicks up in the background.  Blink and you might miss it.

9: Ella Enchanted - "Somebody To Love"
Before she waif-ted away to nearly nothing in order to tackle Les Miserables and earn herself an Oscar, Anne Hathaway sung her tiny lungs out as Ella Frel in Ella Enchanted.  I've never seen the movie, but the clip does her singing some justice.  It doesn't do much justice for Freddie Mercury's voice, though.  I guess it's a cute movie, and I needed it to make up ten entries... so. 

8:  A Knight’s Tale – "We Will Rock You"
2001 brought Heath Ledger to a new level of fame, prior to being in another “Knight” film.  The late actor took on the role of William Thatcher, a lowly squire looking to change his stars.  To do that, he assumes the identity of a knight in order to compete in tournaments and win the heart of the Shannyn Sossamon.   In his first tournament, disguised as his dead master, Lord Ector, he rocks the joust. 

In the opening credits, the peasants in the gallery chant and cheer, something that would probably be ancestral to today’s stadium behaviors.  How fitting that Queen provides the ever popular and hardly unknown “Stomp, Stomp, Clap” beat to their chants.

7: Iron Eagle - "One Vision"
 "This ain't no game, I'm telling ya!"  Anytime you can get a hardened Air Force colonel to loosen up and listen to some Queen, you've done something good.   The poor man's Top Gun gave us a true 80s version of a hot shot pilot.   One that bombs unidentifiable Middle Eastern targets while adjusting the equalizer on his Walkman. It's not Maverick, or even Gooseman for that matter, but Iron Eagle had something that Top Gun didn't, 80s plausible film logic.  While Top Gun showed a more, loosely put, realistic view of how Naval Fighter Pilots train, Iron Eagle gave us the tale of how a kid on an Air Force base could pull off a secret rescue mission, complete with two fighter jets and a shit load of ammunition.  

While the government tries to hunt down a NSA whistle blower in today's world, the 80s sees a kid that breaks every foreign policy rule in the book get admitted to flight school. 

6:  Grosse Point Blank – "Under Pressure"
We never truly leave high school.  That is never more true than when we return home for a reunion.  Stoic loner and contract killer, Martin Blank comes home again as his present and past collides in a high school gym.   Faced with the feeling of angst towards killing bad people for money, he has a moment staring into the wide eyes of a classmate’s son.  The universe smacks him upside the head as his life hurtles towards epiphany, complete with the David Bowie/Queen collaboration, Under Pressure. 

5: Shaun of the Dead - "Don't Stop Me Now"
"Why is Queen still on?" 
Cause it's flipping awesome.   The zom-com that bent the genre on it's nibbled ear had a memorable scene where a record collection was dissected in order to determine which works were salvageable and which could be made into wax weapons of mass distortion.  But later at The Winchester was where the magic happened, randomly, that is as this ditty came on the jukebox as our heroes fight to keep out the dead.    

4: Flash Gordon – "THE WHOLE SOUNDTRACK"

By today’s standards, this movie might would have ruined comic book adaptations.  But, there is something nostalgic and kitsch about the lack of good special effects and… well, script.   Part of it could be Max Von Sydow as Ming or Brian Blessed as Vultan or Pre James Bond Timothy Dalton as Barin.  Or… it could be Queen’s kick ass soundtrack.  I’ll let you decide. 

3: Highlander - "THE WHOLE SOUNDTRACK"  
I'm not sure if the movie beget a love of Queen's music and swordplay in nerds or if the creators of the movie acknowledged a tie-in between the type of music Queen made and nerds love of swords and epic stories.   In any case, who wants to live forever, right?  If only they would have stopped at the first film, they could have stopped a lifetime of vitriol among their fan base.  At least they had a few years before the Internet was born... but the series made up for some of that. 

2: Revenge of the Nerds – "We Are the Champions"
"No one's really gonna be free until nerd persecution ends."  Truer words were never spoken, but history has a way of changing and nerds rule these days.  But there was a time, back in the 80s when nerds were outcasts and the meek.  It was a simpler time when panty raids and CCV streams of sorority houses weren’t considered remotely creepy or illegal.  It was a time when you could simply win any battle with a well choreographed light and sound show, complete with a spiky haired Timothy Busfield rocking the violin.   But when the jocks of Alpha Beta take out their vengeance by destroying the house of Lambda Lambda Lamdba, the only way to end the war is with a passionate speech about embracing your inner nerd.  It also helps when you have Queen underscoring your monologue.   I wanted to make this number one, I did.  But while ROTN has that great Queen moment, number one goes meta by acknowledging what we already know.

1:  Wayne’s World – "Bohemian Rhapsody"
Good call, right?  
The 1992 movie introduced Queen to a generation of fans that never heard their older siblings’ records.  Flash Gordon introduced me to Queen, but this film introduced me to "Bohemian Rhapsody".  
It seems a bit too easy to go with "Bohemian Rhapsody" at number one, but admit it.  You still bang your head at the guitar solo, right?  Though, these days, it hurts to give it a full effort.  I may have to spew into a paper cup.    

Got any favorite Queen moments in movies? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Now in Stereotypical Where Available

I recalled a great story told to me a few years back and I have to share it.   It’s all about language barriers and international travel.   This was told to me by one of the product marketing managers from my previous place of employment.   She was on a business trip in South Korea, meeting with sales reps, and they treated her to a night on the town.  I’ve done my best to recreate this from memory… it’s about five years old… of course, some dramatic license will be taken but the premise is intact.

After a long day of interacting with the sales force and their customers, they all decided to go to a restaurant for a later dinner.  It was a typical place in South Korea, not an Applebee’s or something internationally known.   The place looked a bit dated, but the food was great.  

Knowing that there was going to be a long flight back to the states, they decided to live it up a little and seek some post dinner entertainment.   One of the customers told the reps that this place had a private room that would be perfect.   He went and talked with the wait staff, none of which spoke English.   When he came back, he told the reps, who were bilingual, all about it.   This excited the reps but bewildered the product manager, dumbfounded by the lack of translation.  

They finished up their dinner and a very large man, almost bouncer looking, arrived at their table to escort the party to the private room.  He led them through the kitchen where various cooks and wait staff threw shifty glances.   At the back of the kitchen there was a large metal door.   It creaked open to reveal a dark staircase leading down into the bowels of the restaurant.    Once there, the only light source was the flickering of the fluorescent bulbs.  The poorly kept small tile floor looked like something out of a New York City tenement; missing small pieces of tile every so many feet.   The blackened walls looked as if they were once rich mahogany but had been painted over with thick coats of death.   At end of the hallway there was a door which opened into a single room.    It looked like a boardroom from hell or something out of the first Saw movie.   The same dilapidated flooring and poor lighting extended into the room, which almost cast a sort of blue glow.    There was a large rectangular table in the center of the room with swivel chairs around it.   On the other side, opposite the entrance, another, smaller door sat.

After the group got seated, the secondary door opened and two employees wheeled in a large boxy item on a dolly; electrical cords securing it to the greasy sides of the dolly.     The product manager began to sweat a little.    The scene was very quiet with some chattering of Korean between the staff.  Her focus went onto watching the staff hook up the box.  In international settings, electrical outlets and plugs do not resemble American ones so whatever this hulking black thing was, it looked menacing as it was being plugged into the wall.  

Immediate thoughts were that this was some sort of acetylene torch.  “OH MY GOD!”  She thought.   “It’s that scene out of Hostel.  They’re going to burn out my eyeballs!”   A second later the staff returned with a video camera and an evil looking black case, the size of a pistol.    No explanation for what was going on at this point, just the devices being brought in for what looks to be a videotaped torture.  “This is where I have to denounce the West and my family gets to see my death on YouTube, I just know it.” 

One of the customers, dressed in a sharp business suit, walked over to the AV cart that had been wheeled in and flipped the monitor on.  It remained black for the moment.  He adjusted the camera and began to play with the weapon case.   He opened it and removed a long barreled object, just obscured by the case lid.  “Oh, Jesus!  This is it.”   He pushed record on the camera and walked over to attach the unseen weapon to the black box on the dolly.  

There was a distinct hum.  

More sweat rolled down the back of product manager’s neck.  No one produced any kind of emotion other than stern focus on what was taking place.

Everything just screamed "run" in her mind.   Hopefully, she could make the stairs and be in public view before they tackled her and dragged her back into this death room.  

The customer flipped some switches and more lights flickered on the black box.   He walked over, his back to the table,  and stared at the camera, in view of the monitor, which was still blackened.  Suddenly, noise erupted from the dolly.  

Then, he began…

At first, I was afraid, I was petrified…

"What?" She thought.

Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side.”

"Wait a minute?"

Still going, he walked over, flipped one more switch, and the monitor produced a teleprompter of sorts, displaying the rest of the lyrics to Gloria Gaynor’s song.

Smiles and head nods broke across the rest of the room.


Staff wandered in with trays and drinks, placing down fresh glasses at each place setting.


This became a top five story moment in my life.  I loved the suspense of it. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Kickstart My Art

As an entrepreneur, and I guess I use that term way too much but it works for me, I’ve spent countless hours entertaining tens of people with content.   (That wasn’t a misprint, literally tens of people have enjoyed my work.)   But, as much as I’m in it for the joy of creating and sharing my work with others, I’m in it to make money, too.  This blog, my shirts, and videos are aimed at having fun with media and design but also serve to make money for the purpose of proving that I can make money doing these things.  Now, I have my 9-5 job and that’s fine.   It affords me to be able to indulge in these other ventures to the point where I don’t have to work hard at producing content and that has probably been a detriment to my profit margin.  I guess it depends on what your definition of success is.

But, as a shirt designer, blogger, and YouTuber, I’ve found that I’ve had to reinvest a substantial amount of my profits back into the business to try and expand.    Granted, it’s all spent on games and gadgets, but that’s not that point.   I’ve made it this far without having to rely on the kindness of strangers to just hand over money.   Yes, strangers do hand over money, but there is an immediate transaction of money for goods.   I’ve never just asked blindly for funds and there’s a couple of reasons why.

The Risk
I’m not a huge risk taker when it comes to the business side of M.A.M.S.  I’ve operated under the guise that if I cannot make a profit from what I am doing, I won’t do it.  That was the model I’ve followed for paying $50-$60 a year for a premium CafePress Shop, pretty much a necessity if you want to make any real money without social media traction of your own.  If and when I stop making a profit above that overhead, I will quit it.  There are other non-paying sites that can do just as much if not more in terms of products, but CafePress holds the majority of the marketplace among Print On Demand sites.

Even YouTube isn’t that risky of a proposition, even though I’ve made all of $2.00 from videos I’ve produced since January.   The reason being is that I am doing basically what I would do anyway, I’m just filming and producing it.   I’d still play the games.  I’d still need the hard drive space.  So, I’m not too worried about that.     Still, I would probably get more views and more traction if I spent more on my work, but I don’t have the capacity to do it that way.   This is one of the things I can’t stand about businesses, especially ones I’ve worked for in the past.   They see this all encompassing need to spread themselves into so many categories that they can’t manage their base.  Soon, quality across all platforms suffer because they are more concerned with profits and market share that they don’t see that for every new customer they gain for one shiny piece of crap, they lose three loyal ones who bought their goods when it was quality stuff.

The Results
Here’s the meat and potatoes of my post, Kickstarter.   Now, don’t get me wrong, I have friends that have used Kickstarter to fund their projects and I give them all the credit in the world.  Me, I just don’t see me spending effort and making promises I may not be able to keep in the long run.   With Kickstarter or other crowd funding platforms you ask for the money on the promise that if you get funded you can then give some sort of return on their investment.   Usually, it’s in the form of a copy of whatever you’re trying to get funded but sometimes you promise more for higher amounts of pledges.   Because I would simply be funding the promise of producing more of the same content with better infrastructure, I can only offer what I already do, now.  So, why would I try to entice people to give me money to do what I already do, now.   I would just be creating the sales, proactively.   Hey, that’s actually not a bad idea.   A Kickstarter project that simply aims to sell what you already sell, a “PRE-SALE” if you will.

The Negative
Still, Kickstarter is a great way to use social media to get the word out on your venture.  What I don’t like is how it’s become a tool for people who shouldn’t need to use it.  Case in point,  Zach Braff recently held a Kickstarter project to fund a film he was trying to make, called Wish I Was Here.  It’s not that I don’t like Zach Braff, I just don’t see the need for someone who is worth $22 million dollars to hijack a platform that is primarily for those without the funds themselves to produce a movie.  Yes, the budget is set around $6 million dollars, nearly a quarter of Braff’s net worth, but it’s not like Braff is an unknown filmmaker or actor.   And the cast has some talent in it.  Why not secure producers in your own backyard.  

Also, don’t get me started on Spike Lee using Kickstarter.   The director is trying to raise $1.25 million, of which he’s $700k into for a film.   The dude is worth $40 million.    I also can’t stand that he’s remaking Old Boy, but that’s another story.   George Lucas built an Empire with his own money.  He was smart.  Granted, he went back to the well one too many times and ruined it, but that’s beside the point.   Kevin Smith maxed out credit cards to make Clerks and that worked out fine.   I guess that’s the “Risk” thing I’m talking about.   However, using Kickstarter, you’re not risking your own money.  If it doesn’t get funded, it doesn’t get funded and all that money goes back to the people who have pledged.   If you’re unlucky, you may have a diva or two that will be pissed that they put other projects on hold, with the promise that your project would get funded, and then proceed to sue you for lost wages.   I’m sure that kind of insurance gets baked into the contract.

I just don’t think that celebrities should be using Kickstarter to fund things that upstart filmmakers and artists rely on to produce their work.   It’s trendy and hip to be a project, I get that, but you are making millions of dollars a year.  You’re neither hip nor trendy.  You’re rich.   You’re also diluting the waters of what was considered a great place for people to collaborate.    

It’s like when you find a great little restaurant or bar that no one goes to.   You walk in and own the place.  After awhile, your drinks and appetizers are already ordered before you sit down.  We had a place like this in college.   It was quiet and laid back with no hint of jocks or drunken frat asshats.  Then word got out and the place got noticed.  Granted, due to various infractions by other establishments that forced them to close, our quiet little tavern became the only port in the storm on campus.  I went back about ten years after college and the place reeked of cheap beer and Axe cologne.   Christmas lights and lattice work destroyed the ornate mahogany walls and there were crappy bands and DJs spinning Jock Jams 13.   It was a mess.   It was ruined.  That’s what Kickstarter will become.     It will be the house in Beetlejuice that gets renovated after the Maitland’s have died and the Deetzes have moved into it.

So, while I applaud my friends that have used Kickstarter to their credit, I hate to think how it will look in three to five years when Justin Bieber starts a project to fund his new tour, Douchebag 2016. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

WUMF: July 2012 Edition

Missed it by that much…It’s August.

YouTube Update
It’s been hard recording, lately.  For one, I just haven’t had a lot of free time and some of the series are dependent on a couple of factors.   Secondly, with summer vacation still in effect, I’ve had my daughter up later in the evenings.  She wants to be more involved which is sweet, but I can’t be as free to play as I am explaining or conversing with her instead of playing.

Also, I’ve been meaning to get some PS3 content up.  I have Last of Us and am anticipating Grand Theft Auto V in September.   The problem there is that my Avermedia capture device won’t show up on my television.   I bought it online awhile back and never got around to setting it up.  When I did, it didn’t work and now I am lost on how to fix it up.

First Place Pirates
What the hell is going on there, eh?   A seven game losing streak for the Cardinals has fed the Buccos much needed games to overtake the World Series Champs in the standings.   I still won’t fully invest myself in them until they reach 82 wins.  I’ve jumped on the bandwagon the last two years only to be disappointed.   

They’ve been playing real well but the post break collapses always make me cry.   Seems their downfall the last two years was marked by a 19 inning game.   The first year, they lost that game.  Last year, they won it.   They haven’t had one this year, but that double header against St. Louis could count.   However, they pretty much owned the Cards this series and are playing Colorado and Miami before heading out to St. Louis for three more.   If they can keep the momentum, they are on their way.
Good luck.   I will be pleasantly surprised.

Smash it Forward
The last couple of weeks were a testing of my faith in humanity.   While paying for my father-in-law’s gas, a lady took a fifty dollar bill that I had dropped.  GetGo (Giant Eagle) loss prevention managed to track down the lady from the video and loyalty card transaction that day and she brought the fifty back to me.  In turn, I donated $25 to two animal based organizations and made a public call to action.   Going forward, if you can tell me of a Paying It Forward moment you perpetrated, I will send you a free t-shirt.  If you buy the same t-shirt, which is also for sale, I will put a dollar into a fund which will get donated each month based on your preferences, majority rules.  

Now, it may seem stupid but is it really?  All you have to do is be generous with your time.  I don’t need you giving money away, but it has to be a substantial act.  And, yes, I understand that it seems trivial to just give away a shirt.  But, we don’t do good deeds for rewards.  I just want to acknowledge this act and promote the idea.   I am the one putting my money up to make the shirts.  I’m paying for your good deeds.    I am perpetually paying it forward.   I want to start a revolution of good deeds.  This shouldn’t be about, “What’s in it for me?”  This should be about, “What can I do to make it better?”

More details can be found here.

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