Why does Chaos reside in the spiders lair?

The tagline for my website, blog posts, podcast and videos is always Welcome to The Spiders Lair, Where Chaos Resides. I have spent a lot of time ensuring the branding and message is uniform across all platforms. I do this to ensure consistency, it’s the first rule of design they teach you in college. The capital C in CRAP. When I was in college my teacher told me she was going to teach us CRAP I was intrigued. I was drawn to the idea of using a catchy acronym that relied on irony to get the point across.

I chose to make the theme of my website chaos for a number of reasons. The most important reasons I see my work as a reflection of the chaos we experience as humans in this universe we try to make sense out of. I mostly use the lens of pop culture and geek culture to filter out the chafe and get to the heart of the human experience. Thus I like the idea of a site branded around chaos. It gives me the freedom to pick and choose the topics as I see fit. I don’t have to shoe horn my thoughts into a theme like movies, video games or what have you. I can keep the topics fairly open ended. I enjoy that. I decided on naming my website The Spiders Lair, no punctuation, because I want to demonstrate I am appealing to basement dwellers and rebels. The rebellion against punctuation is not so much a concerted effort, it’s laziness on my part but that can be a side effect of rebelling. I am a loner. That is not a word I band about lightly. I literally live lone and spend my life alone. I rarely get out and socialize. Yet I do not feel alone. It’s a concept some members of my family struggle with relating to. Nonetheless I continue to live my life my way. It works for me for the most part.

I originally used the tag line To Organize Chaos. I felt it worked on a marketing level because it conveyed the idea I was trying to get across, that is a website with no central theme to speak of out side my own experiences and observations. I didn’t exactly want it to be a personal blog so to speak, just centered on my personal experiences and observations.

There is an episode of the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond where Frank Barone tries to write a column for the newspaper called I was just thinking. In the episode he jots down random thoughts with no connection to anything. As a writer this is clearly not the way to keep an readers attention.

On the note of punctuation, I do my best all things considered. That being I dropped out of high school, earned a GED and then studied journalism at university. Between the quirks of AP style, my own deficiencies and well that pesky laziness I mentioned before, I often make grammatical and punctuation mistakes. I’ll admit I make an effort to look up a rule I broke after it is brought to my attention. I just don’t make much of an effort to learn the rules I am fuzzy on.

One thing that does appeal to me is writing a disjointed article with a few random, smaller topics to catch your attention. I suppose if one were to use sub heads to keep it organized it could work. Here are some random thoughts THE RAT would like to share with the world.

What makes Degrassi so damn appealing?

I first encountered Degrassi High when I was in middle school. I started out doing some detention during lunch and those kids who were considered at risk or prone to getting into trouble, like myself, were offered an opportunity to sit and watch Degrassi during our lunch period as a way to keep us, and our victims, safe from the violence we exhibited among one another. I wasn’t exactly a bully but I took my own frustrations of being bullied out on those weaker than I. It was not something I am proud of today. However it introduced me to a Canadian TV series I can honestly say shaped my life for years.

Once I grew up I decided to give Degrassi a second chance. I started at the very¬† beginning with Ida Makes a Movie. I enjoyed it enough to go through the next several iterations from Kids of Degrassi Street to the aforementioned Junior/Senior high incarnation. Then out of morbid curiosity I kept going well into Degrassi The Next Generation. I was several seasons in before I snapped out of my trance and walked away. I don’t know what it was that hooked me on this Canadian treasure but somehow it spoke to me in a weird way. I have contemplated going back to review the original series but I haven’t yet found an economical way of going about it. In a way it kind of makes me feel like a jerk asking friends and family to buy me the DVD’s for say Christmas or birthdays because I made a fuss about that one time I got a Jay and Silent Bob Do Degrassi DVD for Christmas. It was, at the time, a touchy subject because I was forced into the show for disciplinary reasons originally. Still, now that I have settled into my fate as an oddball I suppose I can go back to one of the shows that helped inspire my oddball behavior in the first place.

The Mortal Kombat, Freddy Krueger and The Mask connectivity

The story about how Mortal Kombat changed the video game rating industry is well documented and much discussed. The lesser known story is how Freddy Krueger is to blame for the famed film adaptation being slapped with a paltry PG-13 rating when the studio making the video game famous for its gore was itself famous for gore.

New Line Cinema chose to censor Mortal Kombat on the the grounds they already had A Nightmare on Elm Street as a violent, R-rated franchise. During the negotiation stage New Line picked up the rights to adapt The Mask, bloody/gory comic book series. Due to Wes Craven’s New Nightmare being a darker, gorier fare for the famed Springwood Slasher’s recent theatrical outings, the studio opted to use their new shiny prize, the recently signed rising star Jim Carry, to make a kid friendly comic book adaptation of a gory comic property. This worked so well the studio repeated the formula by scrubbing almost all the gore necessary from the big budget Mortak Kombat picture toning it down to a PG-13 action/fantasy martial arts flick rather than an R-rated horror/fantasy film it could have been. This has left a sour taste in the lives of fans the world over as the film, while a success, spawned a not-so-beloved sequel. Oh well.

Still, as someone who was always a fan of Freddy and became a fan of the Mortal Kombat video game independent of all the stuff New Line was plotting to do, I can say it was a strange twist of fate learning how interconnected these three properties became. I was already an instant fan of The Mask upon first viewing. Years later upon learning how it was loosely connected to the franchise that spawned, literally, my favorite film of all time, well that was a treat in itself.

Discovering Doctor Who for the first time was a thrill

I don’t often get into British shows. To be honest aside from the above mentioned Degrassi, I rarely find myself entertained by any foreign TV shows. One day I was flipping through the cable channels when I stumbled upon the Sci-Fi channel, before its rebrand. I saw a blue telephone booth smash into the side of a building and a disoriented man stumbled out. A blond woman asked a girl who the man was, she replied the doctor, and the woman asked “Doctor Who?” Then the opening credits began to scroll.

The theme song caught my attention so I figured I would give it a shot. I had heard references over the years to a time traveling space alien science fiction show called Doctor Who so I was curious to check it out. Following the first commercial break I lost interest. The so-called “doctor” was pointing a “sonic screwdriver” at a killer Christmas tree that was attacking the family. I rolled my eyes and changed the channel thinking I would never go back.

A couple of months later I was again flipping through the channels and once against landed on the SyFy channel, as they had since rebranded. I was puzzled by the odd spelling so I figured I would watch a little until I came across a bumper that might explain what I was seeing as networks often advertise rebranding. There was a British man talking to a young girl about her son who was killed by a bomb that wasn’t a bomb. The exchange between the two characters caught my attention. The next scene an American gentleman was sitting atop an invisible space ship hitting on that same blond I saw from before. I figured this was another episode of that Doctor Who but this time it didn’t seem so juvenile.

The episode, I found out later, was called The Empty Child. The episode got me instantly hooked. I sat there for what I quickly learned was a marathon. I followed it up with The Doctor Dances. The two-parter was all it took to get me sitting there for the rest of the day. Immediately following the end of the season the show began to unravel. The doctor had died at the end of the episode and suddenly a new man appeared in his place. It was that goofy looking fellow from the Christmas episode, which this time I watched to the end. Having some context, and a heart beat for Rose Tyler, I decided to give the show a chance.

It didn’t take long before I became a die hard fan. I ended up, thanks in part to Neflix and some other shadier portions of the internet, going back and watching the first 40 or so years of the franchise. Oh it was an instant love affair. I had been craving a science fiction show of this sort and here it was running not only the course of my entire life, but once I discovered it I learned my mom had watched it when she was a kid. So it became a tradition for the two of us to sit and catch the latest Doctor Who episode each week on BBC America. One of these days I hope to go back and cover my favorite episodes more in depth. I am only saddened by the way Netflix has discarded the show making it harder for me to view.

More Than Meets the Eye revival ignites the interwebs

The year was 2001. I had just finished my tumultuous high school education and was beginning to branch into the wild west of web design. Once online I discovered a community of Transformer fans who called themselves “TransFans.” Needless to say bonds were made, friendships were crafted and things were going good. Then as time went on the word Trans began to take on a new meaning, leaving Transformer fans unsure if they should continue using the moniker. Despite the growing tensions between the car-robots “trukk not Monkee” blow hards and the “Beasts are better” cult, things got heated. Eventually Hasbro discovered a way to tap into the community’s need for nostalgia by launching several retro lines intended to milk money from those fans now beginning to enter the work force. Everything culminated in the launch of a live-action series that started in 2007 with a love letter to those same fans. Finally the main stream was willing to recognize what me and my friends had known all along, giant alien robots make good entertainment.

This is only a small sampling of the insights THE RAT stores up here at the Spiders Lairs, Where Chaos Resides. For more deeper thoughts, unfiltered uncensored and completely uncut be sure to check out The Dark Web Podcast, a show made by a basement dwelling oddball for other basement dwelling freaks. Stay Cool.

Dust in the Wind- The life not lived~

There is this song that really rips my heart a part when I hear it. It is by the band, Kansas it is called “Dust in the Wind.” I am sure it is popular enough most have heard it at some point in their lives.

Human emotions are probably the most prolific and obnoxious part of being a living person. Having to feel everything we do or see can complicated our experiences. I don’t often discuss emotional issues or topics, outside of anger which I express quite often in my rants. Still there is a deep sadness to losing a loved one we all face in our lives. At some point you have to look back not at the connections you made that were severed, but also mourn those missed opportunities to connect with the right people.

When I was in high school I knew this girl, her name was Lacy. She was a very smart, pretty and strong willed female classmate of mine. She was class president, and student council vice president. The story how she became student council VP is partially my fault. You see I attended a very small high school, roughly 120 students K-12 to be exact. So when I say there was little interest in student government I mean it was basically non existent. I signed up to run for student council president because of TV, I thought it would make my name known and as a person who couldn’t connect with other kids I saw it as an attempt to expand my social circle. Fortunately, for me, nobody else signed up so we skipped the election process and they just gave the office to me. The first day of the new school year we had three others sign up for SC positions, Lacy put her name down for President, the other two one was made treasurer and one was some other position I can’t recall of the top of my head.

The student advisor gave Lacy the bad news. Because I had signed up for it the previous year I was first in line. Lacy asked me if we could have an election because she really wanted it. I knew as popular and smart and good looking as she was she would have other moments to shine, this was my time so I declined. I knew if we held an election not only would she destroy me, I would most likely drop out of the race entirely. The advisor left it up to me and I told her sorry I really want it. The teacher said instead of holding an election she gave her Vice President. Lacy never voiced any resentment she let me lead and I let her take as much of the credit as she was willing to snake from me. We got along quite well but the truth is, we were leading a class which was indifferent.

When it came to selecting a class representative she put her name in the hat for junior class president. It was supposedly against the rules because the class president wasn’t supposed to be the same as someone serving on the council representing the whole school. Needless to say since we were already bending the rules the advisor allowed it so we reversed roles at the class level. It was a fair compromise. That is what Lacy was like, recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of her peers and helping them work together. By way of knowing her I was introduced to new people as well as student government. That spark she ignited in me lives on today as I work as a journalist for a daily newspaper often covering school board and city government meetings.

I remember going to class meetings after school. It was the responsibility of the junior class to put on prom for the seniors. It was a responsibility we took very seriously. Fortunately for us Lacy’s parents were big shots at the largest casino in town, so she was able to get her dad to comp the ballroom for us to host the prom. The previous proms had been held either in the school gym, or at the rec center, which was really the lobby of the indoor swimming pool and not much else. It was a major victory for our class to show the graduating seniors we cared enough about them to give them a prom they would never forget.

I don’t have a lot of other personal memories with Lacy. I have a few near-misses. She was friends with a good friend of mine who we sometimes crossed paths. Her parents were good friends with my moms uncle, my great-uncle who was also a person I saw from time to time. There were occasions our paths crossed but most of the time we just passed each other in the hall way.

One day the school set up this program called Every 15 Minutes. It was to teach kids the dangers of drinking and driving. The police would set up a car crash outside of the high school and place a teenager in the wreckage, cut them from the vehicle using the jaws of life and put the teen into a body bag. Then they taped it all. The cops would go to the parents house and tell them their kid died in a car accident alcohol related and gather the town at the gym for the funeral. The police and teachers were supposed to let the parents know it was a ruse. Lacy said no, don’t tell her mom it had to be real she wanted to see her moms emotions. It was devastating. The whole day was heartbreaking. We, the student leadership knew it was a ruse. The student body did not. We had tears flowing until the afternoon assembly when Lacy walked back out, alive, in her makeup to tell everyone it was to demonstrate how harsh alcohol related fatalities really were.

The final edited video played to images of her lifeless body being dragged from a mangled car to the tune of Dust in the Wind by Kansas. At the time it was the most chilling thing I had ever seen. I met with Lacy afterwards and gave her a hug because she had been through hell and got to come back to life. It was very emotional for everyone involved. A few years later Lacy had a child out of wedlock and her baby daddy wasn’t around. We crossed paths a few more times before she married another friend of mine, a guy who worked for the city I became connected to through my work.

In 2011 I was sitting in my parents house on the couch when I got the phone call nobody wanted. Lacy had been killed in a vehicle accident. This time it was not fake. This time there was no coming back from the dead. A life that shined bright in a small town was extinguished for good. Suddenly that song, Dust in the Wind, took on a whole new meaning. I cried, I can’t lie. Not just because a life was gone, but because as I looked back I saw not only the moments we shared, I realized all the moments we missed. I had gotten to be good friends with her sister as she dated my best friend for a long time. Yet somehow I never used that connection to get any closer to Lacy. Looking back on it now, I still cherish the moments we shared while I long for those we should have. In the end life is nothing more than a collection of memories. It is our responsibility to filter out the memories we that don’t do us any good while clinging to the ones that make us better people.

I will never forget Lacy. She was a good person and I hope anyone who did cross paths with her was touched more by her life than even I was.