Got Mongo? Feed On This!"
Become a fan of the STORE on Facebook. Click here.
Become a fan of the BLOG on Facebook. Click Here

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Beacon Shrine Part 2 and Mongo Smashes Episode 1

Anticipation is not something I’m good with, folks.   I’ve been sitting on at least two projects that are ready to go.  Well.  They are ready as they’ll ever be.

Last post, I talked about the jump to YouTube and with that I posted the first “Build It” video.  The second is now up on The Angry Cast channel.  I have one more left to edit and a surprise add on, as well.   Meanwhile, I’ve been recording footage for the “Mongo Smashes _____” series and one episode is in the can.  I don’t want to release it until I’ve finished the first Build It project.


Well, for one, I did the first video on President’s Day.  The second went up this past weekend.  That’s five days in between.   I want to have some level of consistency with releasing videos as to not build expectations… I know… Like there is any, right?  Still, when I first started the blog back in 2008, I posted five entries a week.  That lasted all of two months and then I backed down to three a week, sometimes less.   I don’t want to hit a deadline, just to hit a deadline.  My schedule isn’t set and I play when I can.  Editing sometimes takes hours, if not days.  I don’t want to post all I have, now and then go three weeks with nothing.  

The second issue is that the Build It series takes far longer to produce.     Me just playing a video game, badly, is fairly easy.    But to record a build, edit it, narrate it, add sound, and publish takes time and I’ve got footage for one more section of the Shrine I did, plus a walkthrough of the other buildings I did for the Modern Empire server.  I want to space those out along with regular videos. 

In essence, I’m creating a backlog of footage, so I can use a timed release method for publishing.   Slow and steady, folks.  It’s one of the rules I have set down for myself.

The others being:
Have fun or don’t do it. 
Fail early.  Fail often.
Put some time into it.   Add sound and titles.
Don’t be afraid to record lots and edit out the horrible parts where you ramble or derp.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Angry Cast

It’s official!  I have launched myself into new self serving, egotistical, “look at me” heights.  I’m on YouTube.

The AngryCast made its debut this month with a couple of test videos, an ad for the upcoming series, and the first in a series of videos showcasing my lack of building skills in Minecraft.  The kicker?  You get to hear my voice.  Shudder.  Well, actually, in the first video, you can barely make me out, but it’s there.

Why am I torturing you with this?  Well, as the ever enterprising entrepreneur, I thought it was time to explore a new avenue and build the brand.   OK, Let’s face it.  It’s about money.  LOL.

When I first started the blog it was a war cry.  It was rage against the machine that is Hollywood.  An idea was formed for a stupid novelty website that would provide people with bad advice in the monosyllabic mumblings of myself as Mongo.  And when neither the capital or tech know how was available to realize that dream, I shelved AskMongo.    I wasn’t about to shell out money to domain sit while I got older and still no closer to designing a website. 

But, something snapped and I started writing posts about how bad Hollywood had become and it turned into  this blog.  Then, I got the idea to maybe sell merchandise for the blog and if that proved profitable, I would revisit the website idea and use the merchandise to fund it.  But that didn’t work either.  So, AskMongo crawled back into his hole.   Then, I started thinking of my rants in graphical terms and came up with the idea to sell t-shirts with pop culture parodies and an homage to my childhood cinema memories.   So,  I launched a shirt site and separate blog to cover that.

That blog, still exists today as a place where I can showcase my work and talk about how you can do what I’ve done, only better. 

Now, I’m taking it one step further.  YouTube videos to cover it all.

Of course, you know, this means I will have even less time on my hands.  Here’s why.  Once again, these stories are for your benefit.   Use me as an example of what not to do.

I am the lazy and cheap ass entrepreneur.  My design business costs me all of $50 a year and manages to bring in about a 25,000% ROI.  Trust me.  That’s not a lot.   It pays for my mortgage, a week’s worth of vacation, and Christmas. 

But still, it doesn’t hurt.  I put in maybe 10 hours a week of work towards it.  (I know.  It shows.)   So, I splurged and bought FRAPS to record videos.  I can record my desktop as well as games.  Yes, Minecraft.  LOL.  There will be others as time allows. But I also want to do older games.  Games I loved back in the days of MS-DOS.   However, I spent all of $37 dollars on this new media empire.  The microphone I got when I purchased a replacement PS3 for $50.  Windows Live Movie Maker came with my laptop. 

And as far as music is concerned, I’ve been sticking with Royalty Free music that is covered under the Creative Commons License.  That means you can use any music listed under this license for whatever purpose, including monetized YouTube videos and you are only obligated to give credit in the description. 

I will say that I can understand why it takes so long for videos to get produced. I spent a good 12 hours putting together a five minute video.  That included eight hours of actual in-game recording, two hours of video editing, one hour of narration recording, and one hour of uploading to YouTube with tagging and descriptions.

I’m still getting my legs under me and working out the bugs of the process.  For one, Windows Live Movie Maker is free and you get what you pay for in terms of quality.  It’s not bad, but there are times where the application chokes under the pressure of all that data.   It corrupts clips just to spite me, which cannot be compressed into a video file format, forcing me to do it in layers.  Many, many layers.   The different settings for each layer get confusing and in the first video, I had to go back and redo parts which led me to forget to turn the music volume down when I added the track back into the project.   It can be really frustrating to do all this at 11:30 at night. 

I’m planning on four main series of videos with no real schedule.

Mongo Smashes _____ (Insert Game Title):  Basically, me playing a game, badly,  and hopefully being interesting. Minecraft to start, more to come.

Build It Series:  Minecraft specific videos that will involve me giving a play by play narration of building anything in Minecraft, some items will be comment driven.

Rants:  Sometimes in games there are periods where you have to do menial tasks that take a long time.  In Minecraft it might be gathering material or exploring.  In these cases, I will use the time to just rant.  Think of it as a blog post set to music and video.    I will probably even read or expand on some of my favorite posts in this series.

Design It:  This is the shirt side of the video series as I give showcases or walkthroughs of designs I’ve done.

For those of you looking to get into this business, I will keep you posted on how the process is going.  I haven’t monetized the videos, yet.  I need more of a following.   But, with a little luck and creativity, I might be able to pull it off.  We’ll see.

Come take a look, subscribe, drop me a comment, and I’ll keep making more.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

With Three You Get Wonka

As a parent, it’s my responsibility to ensure my child’s safety.   That usually means protecting her from the biggest threat to her safety, herself.   In reality, I’m not so much protecting her for her own well being, but my own sanity.   If she’s not in trouble, it’s one less mess I have to clean up at the end of the day.

However, as a parent, it is also my job to teach her how to reason and how to discern right from wrong.  In doing that, I give her three chances.  The first two are me warning her that the wrong choice will have consequences.  Consequences that she will ultimately be responsible for bringing upon herself.  The third time, she gets Willy Wonka.

Now, I’m not saying that she gets a candy bar or that she gets a viewing of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  I’m saying that my attitude towards her choosing to do the wrong thing will result in my letting her do it and explaining why she was wrong afterwards… Oompa Loompa chorus, notwithstanding. 

Willy Wonka can be seen as a lot of things: crackpot confectioner, crazy chocolatier, even sadistic salesman.  The one thing he isn’t is a helicopter parent.    We live in a world where we take away the prospect of winning at competitions in order to spare our little snowflakes the harsh reality of failure.  Soccer games.  We give everyone a trophy and say good game.   Are we really surprised when they grow up to be unable to handle rejection?

Willy Wonka gives them a warning and then he lets them go, usually ending his warning with, “Don’t. Stop. Come back.”   He lets the behavior happen.  He doesn’t interfere with the potential of a bad person doing bad things.  Failure is essential in order to learn where we went wrong.  In that realization we make strides to correct the action that caused the failure. 

In the end of Roald Dahl’s book, the losing children do not die, they are returned to their nasty, rotten, selfish old selves, but perhaps they are a bit wiser.    They are not returned to their former states, because consequences have permanent results.  You cannot “unring” that bell.

Now, my intentions are not always good natured.  My child does her fare share of bad things and I sometimes want her to fail in order to understand why shouldn’t make those decisions.  I would never purposely put my child in harm’s way and often times I continually repeat myself by saying, “stop jumping off that” or “don’t swing your arms in a circle near there.”  I know my own lack of grace and agility and recognize those same defects in my kid.  I’m trying to save her a broken leg.    Usually, the things I let her fail at are not listening to us when she should in reference to cleaning up her room or getting something as a reward like a trip to PetSmart (just to look) or McDonald’s (to play).

But, in most cases, she gets two warnings and then after that, she gets Wonka.

"Good Day Sir."
Available from Skreened.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Random Act Of Kindness Fail #2

I did it again.  I went ahead and tried to be nice and, as always, it ended in disaster.

During last weekend’s Super Bowl preparations I made a run to the store to get supplies.   If you’ve ever been to a grocery store on a Sunday during Football season or before a winter storm, it can be a little maddening.   There are people everywhere.  There are no places to park.  It’s just a souring mood setter.    So, I put on my best game face, took my list, and said, “Let’s do this!”

Being in an area where the hometown team was not competing, it was slightly less frenetic than anticipated.  Still, with the Hated Ravens playing, Steeler fans were probably watching just to hope both teams would lose.  Me?  I was just interested in getting some good game day food.

Since I was at the store, anyway, I might as well pick up some items for the week’s worth of lunches.  That meant getting yogurt for me and my kid, as well as some lunch meat.  My last stop is always the deli, because it’s always the busiest.    It’s also right at the entrance and I try to go against the grain and start at the other end of the store first.  This solves two issues.   One, I end up back at the registers when I’m done, and two, by going to the deli last, that added ire of waiting extra long for pimento loaf doesn’t cause me to want to rage quit my shopping trip before I make it two thirds through my list. 

For the record, I don’t eat pimento loaf. 

I don’t even like olives.

I just like the sound of saying pimento loaf… much like saying prosciutto.

By the time I got to the deli, I was about tired of being in the store.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought, though.  They were on number nine and I was holding number eleven.   Soon, I noticed an older lady, probably in her late 70s, standing next to me.  She looked as if the wait was going to be hard on her.  She was steadying herself on her cart and I felt bad for her.   I leaned into her and asked… “What number are you?”


I handed her my number eleven and attempted to take her twelve.  “Oh, no.”  She replied,  “I’m fine.”

“No. Really.  It’s alright.  This wait is murder.”

At that point, a lady who was older than I was, but considerably younger than my new friend piped up.  “It’s OK.  I’m with her, so it doesn’t matter.”  She happened to have thirteen.  So, I offered to switch to thirteen and give them both a pass in front of me.  They weren’t having it.

During this exchange, the deli worker called “Eleven.”  Now, I felt like a real prick.  Not only am I failing at trying to do a good deed, I’m ruining it by holding up the line.  Now, I am the IDIOT that won’t take no for an answer.    At that moment, I was now the center of attention as my good deed was unspooling into an awkward mess of fail all over the deli section floor.  

I gave up and went back to being eleven and put in my order.  The wait for twelve would go on as they had to go unpack a new cut of meat to fill my order.  The lady behind me, missing her opportunity, had to wait extra long because I ordered something out of the ordinary.   Not only was I the idiot who held up the line by trying to surrender my spot.  I was now holding up my intended recipient by making the deli worker travel to the far reaches of Hell’s half acre to find a new block of Homestyle Roasted Chicken.

I quit being nice.  Sorry world, but I’m tired of asking you to the dance, only to be turned down.

Oh, and guess what?  Same store chain, but different location as the previous act of fail  Maybe I need to raise my own food and never leave the house, ever.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Losin' End of an Xfinity Support Case

It happened again. I had the lovely experience of dealing with a Comcast support person as my digital cable box derped...

Here we go...
Analyst Mandino has entered room (ooh, boy.)

Mandino: Hello Mongo, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Mandino. Please give me one moment to review your information.

Mongo: My Issue: letters dl appear with a rotating line next to it. Unplugged and plugged back in, error code E609 then FR hunt then it returned to the letters dl and the rotating line. Only snow on television.

Mandino: Thank you for bringing this concern to us. I will be more than happy to assist you with this today.

Mandino:  I can’t imagine myself having those equipment issues especially that cable TV is part of my daily routine, no worries, we’ll definitely work on a sure fix to resolve this one way or the other. (wow.. that was really generic and empathetic.  This guy is a bot or is pulling canned text from a command prompt.)

analyst Mandino has left room

Mandino:  That usually occurs when your service is still loading, initializing or dowloading.

Mandino:  We need you to please powercycle your box now Mongo, like unplugging it and plug it back in again after 1 minute. Would that be okay?  (why not just say, unplug it and plug it back in...  Powercycle?!?!)

Mongo: Sure

Mongo: It has been downloading since 7am EST.  (This was in response to his explanation of what the "dl" meant.)

Mandino: : Oh I see.

Mandino:  TI\  (crap, he's a terminator.)

Mandino:  Thank you for that information (oh... so, TI\ is probably some sort of chat autotext command... maybe /TI or TI/  was what he meant to write.  He's not a bot... but he may not be American.)

Mandino:  Lets just do first the power cycle Mongo and lets see if it resolves your concern today?

Mongo: yes. System is now unplugged... waiting 1 minute

Mongo: Plugging back in.

Mandino:  Thank you for cooperating.  (what am I going to do?  Resist?)

Mongo: E609

Mongo: FR 1

Mongo: Hunt

Mongo: DL and circling line

Mandino:  Same message?

Mongo: yes

Mandino:  Have you chacked it back already?

Mandino:  *checked

Mandino: : Oh I see.

Mandino: Thank you for that information. One moment please  (same exact wording as before... must be a quick text command)

Mandino:  Have you plugged it out from the outlet Mongo? (????)

Mongo: yes, unplugged from the wall.  (TIFTFY)

Mongo: It's connected to a power strip which runs to the outlet.. That was what I unplugged, at the wall outlet.

Mandino:  PLease give me a moment Mongo.

Mandino:   I will be more than happy to assist you with this. Just give me atleast 3-5 minutes as I review this concern first. Would that be okay?

Mongo: sure

analyst Mandino has left room (what ROOM?!?!?  Am I on a 90s chat site?)

Mandino: Thank you for patiently waiting Mongo.

Mandino:  After doing some research, In order to resolve this issue, I need to send a signal to your cable box. Please provide me the serial number of that box please. It is found at the top or at the back of it.

Mongo: one second (this lasted ten minutes, because I'm an idiot, my entertainment center is up against the wall, with everything shoved into it... and all of my decorations for Christmas were still up, most of which were plugged in and sitting on top of the entertainment center.)

Mandino:  Just approach me once you are done Mongo. You may take your time and I'll be more than patient to wait for you.  (read:  COME AT ME BRO)

Mongo: thank you

Mongo: There are two stickers on the back. One with just numbers. One with numbers and five X's in the middle.

Mandino:  The one with the X's in the middle please.

Mongo: (hidden number)

Mandino:  Oh Im sorry Mongo, Thats not the one. Im sorry

Mandino:  It should start with "M" or "P"

Mongo: shall I give you the other

Mandino:  regardless if theres an X or none.

Mongo: the other sticker said

Mandino: Yes please. Make sure it starts with "M" or "P"

Mongo: (number hidden)

Mongo: I need to check for the letters

Mandino:  IM sorry but thats not the correct one.

Mandino:  Please make sure it starts with "M" or "P".

Mongo: ok... third sticker

Mongo: (number hidden)

Mandino:  Great!

Mandino:  Thats correct now

Mandino:  Thank you for that information. One moment please

Mongo: good, because I'm out of stickers

Mandino:  hehe. (LOL)

Mandino:  Please give me 1-3 minutes as I will now send the refresh signal to your box.

Mandino:  PLease turn your box on now Mongo.

Mongo: Power button seems to have no effect. still showing the dl

Mongo: so, I'm guessing that it is on?

Mandino:  One moment Mongo.

Mandino: May I know when did this box activated?

Mongo: what year did I receive it, in other words?

Mongo: 2004

Mandino:  Oh I see.

Mandino: Thank you for going through all the troubleshooting steps with me Mongo. At this point, we have determined that the best resolution is for us to send a technician. As promised, I am here to make sure to get you the best resolution for that issue on this chat. I will take care of setting up the appointment for you right now.

Mongo: OK. My wife would have to be the person here when they come, but she is not sure what her schedule is. Monday is a holiday so that is probably a no go.

Mongo: Anytime after 4

Mongo: 4:30 is a good bet.

Mandino:  OKay Mongo. Let me check

Mandino:  Great!

Mandino:  Thank you for that information. One moment please

Mandino:   I will personally take care of this for you but before anything else just for security purposes, may I first have the last 4 of your SSN please.

Mongo: ****

Mandino:  Great!

Mandino:  Thank you.

Mandino:  Before we proceed, I need first to provide you your ticket number for this appointment. Please take note of this. It will be (redacted) Please take note of the following important information regarding your technician’s visit: The technician can arrive any time within the assigned timeframe. Someone 18 years or older must be present at the time of the technician’s visit for the entire duration of the technician’s visit. You must confirm that you will be present for the technician’s arrival on the day of your appointment. You will receive a call from our Automated System to confirm your presence at your residence.

Mongo: ok

Mandino:  We have 4:30- 6:00 on Friday Mongo. Would that be okay to you?

Mongo: would this be January 18th?

Mandino: Yes, January 18th

Mongo: Yes, this would be fine

Mandino:  Great!

Mandino: I am so glad to inform you that i am already done processing here the appointment schedule for you Mongo. To recap, we have addressed this concern by performing a preliminary troubleshooting and by coming to the conclusion that we need to send a field technician to check on this. This concern is resolved on our end.

Mongo: yes, thank you for your assistance

Mandino:  You are very much welcome.

Mandino:  Now that we have successfully scheduled a technician appointment for you, I am more than sure this will be addressed and resolved as soon as possible. All you need is to sit back and relax while waiting for the scheduled visit. We have followed all necessary steps and protocols in dealing with this technical issue and determined the resolution with precision. You may consider this resolved as correct process was undertaken, I made sure of that. I have comprehensively documented and endorsed this concern to the correct support.

Mandino:  Mongo, have I resolved all of your concerns to your satisfaction by scheduling you a technician appointment that will rest assured resolve your concern today?

Mongo: yes

Mandino: Great!

Friday came... and went.  I called Comcast and they informed me that the ticket number I was given listed Michael McDonald as the customer.

I said, "Really?  The guy from the Doobie Brothers lives in my neighborhood?"

I don't think he saw the humor...  Then again, neither did I.  We rescheduled and what started out as a two day fix lasted an entire week.  The tech finally showed up and I was given a new box.  Unfortunately, I lost all of my recordings, including the last two seasons of Supernatural that I had been sitting on, waiting for my wife to watch it with me.

So, I asked the tech about the issue.  What happened was that Xfinity.. Comcast... whatever they are called these days decided to send an update to the TV guide programming that is on digital cables boxes.  This update hosed a lot of cable boxes. 

How nice.  In a way, this was liberating.  The one thing that has been keeping me as a customer has been the fact that I had 99% spaced on my DVR filled.  I was so hesitant the last time I entertained the idea of getting something else, like Direct TV.  I began frantically watching all of my recorded shows in the hopes that I could clear them out before the guy showed up.  Unfortunately, I was unable to get Direct TV because I have four trees in my yard, blocking the direction that the dish needs to face.  I've also been told this was a crap excuse from the guy who tried to install it. 

Needless to say, I'm back to watching and recording, and my box is at a whopping 11%.  But, that will probably change as I get involved with other stuff and the weather gets nicer.  Yeah, right.  What a Fool Believes.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

WUMF: January 2013 Edition

Welcome to a new year and a new WUMF.

Super Bowl
As a Pittsburgh fan, I was initially torn.   I don’t necessarily want the Forty-Niners to win because they would tie Pittsburgh for the number of Lombardi trophies.    I didn’t want New England to win because that would give Bellicheat and Cry-Brady to have four Super Bowl wins, matching Noll and Bradshaw.  The Ravens… well, it’s a Harbaugh and Ray Lewis.  The Falcons were the least offensive team in the running.   However… that wasn’t going to happen.   So, we got San Fran and Baltimore.

I gotta go with San Fran.  I know it’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s better than deer antler extract.  Ray Lewis has become the story of the NFL.  He’s the hero.  Figures.  This just shows how corrupt and hypocritical this league and their savior, Roger Goodell, is.  They glorify a man who pled down a double murder charge to obstruction of justice and pointed the finger at two other guys, neither of which did any time.  The justice for the families of the victims is that Ray Lewis stayed free and played for 13 more years, becoming the face of the team?  Only in professional sports do we glorify criminals and not bat an eye.  The news, that he used a banned substance to come back from his triceps injury,  has been scuttled to the miniscule sidebar on and no one wants to admit that this guy is a cheat and criminal.  Meanwhile he spouts religious rhetoric and claims that the devil is the reason behind all his detractors.  No, Ray, you’re just a murderer with deer antler extract in your system.  Who says cheaters never win?  Oh yeah, since New England got caught cheating their playoff record has been dismal. 

I made a decision to start another experiment.  The first one was this blog, which has been going for just about five years now.   The second was the shirt business which is just about four years old.   Now, I’m turning my attention to YouTube.  So, I bought FRAPS, which is a recording software for your computer, and I also have Windows Movie Maker on hand.   I hope to do some of my own videos on shirt designs, maybe some tutorials.  Of course, I’ll play some games with commentary… usually, how bad I am at stuff.    I plan on monetizing the videos, which I know is a pain, because I hate ads, but we’ll see.  I will have a full post, in the works, on what I’m planning.  Stay tuned.

For now, here’s my first test after fiddling with Minecraft and FRAPs.

And here's number 2..

I was without my cable box and DVR for about a seven days thanks to Comcast sending an update to the TV guide causing it to error out and die.  Those of you who have been reading the past five years know my DVR is usually at 90% or more capacity.   I had almost two seasons worth of Supernatural on there, thanks to my wife saying, “I want to see those.”    Well, the box shit the bed and I had to wait for a week because Mandino at Customer Care screwed up.  More on that in a later post.

Mother Nature
OK.   We went sled riding in my back yard on Saturday.  I went to work without a coat on Tuesday.  Now, there was ice and snow on the roads on Thursday.   KNOCK IT OFF!  If you’re going to be cold.  BE COLD!  Don’t tease me like this, you bitch.

J.J. Abrams to direct Star Wars VII
Dear Internet, stop editing videos and pictures of Star Wars and Star Trek mixed together.  You are destroying the fabric of space and time and the geek universe can’t take much more of this.

Shredded Tweets