Lots to cover jump in and enjoy.
Lots to cover jump in and enjoy.
and this episode I talked about the state of retro video game collecting. The changing landscape of used video game stores. I talked about DVD collecting. I mentioned the new Star Wars trailer and video game. I talked about the movie Good Will Hunting that I saw it recently. And I shared my magic the Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons memories a little bit more. I talked about Disney Plus getting some shows and why I’m not interested in stranger things 3
I am adding a new dark stories segment as part of The Dark Web Podcast starting this week. My intention is to take my favorite happy, upbeat sitcoms, kids shows, videos games, etc., and turn them inside out. The premise is simple. I will take a look at a favorite story from my childhood and find the dark side hidden beneath the surface. What that entails will vary from episode to episode. I am thinking something like what if Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World was secretly a serial killer or pervert? What if Saved by the Bell was really a hallucination and Zach Morris was really on drugs the whole time?
I am going to keep it playful and fun but at the same time open myself up to contemplating how dark could some of the eccentric characters really be in all of these. I am planning to go really dark here, the likes of which I have not dabbled on my show yet. I am mostly attracting an audience that finds these things more appealing and since my twisted mind often contemplates the sicker things in life I figured it was high time I pulled back the curtain to unveil the inner psychopath which has been running the show this entire time.
When I sat out to do this podcast my intention was to keep it dark. I wanted it to fit in with the tone of the website. I have strayed at times but not any more.
Here is a sampling of what is to come. Freddy Krueger is one of my heroes. I am going to to be presenting a case as to why he is a tragic figure and not the monster he has been made out to be. I am going to, within the context of the show, look into the soul of the man behind the demon to determine where the line between humanity and monster was crossed, if it was.
My hope is to provide a more entertaining portion of the podcast that will open people up to contemplating darker things. Maybe get people seeing the world in a different perspective. I would not consider myself goth by any stretch but I am certainly drawn to death. I work for a newspaper, death is a part of my daily routine in some respects.
Life is not always drawn in categories of black and white. Sometimes things that are perceived as black might really be the good while things thought of as good might be the true evil.
I am not preparing to do this lightly. I am truly expecting to put some thought into these topics. I don’t expect I will have, nor take, the time to devote to researching much. My intention is to make it a more entertaining segment with a dark focus. Consider it a contemplative analysis of TV shows. It might be better to define it as an attempt to ask questions people might not think to ask. I am not sure if it will gain much traction. I am hoping if I do it well there would be an audience. If not, or if I lose interest, well that’s often how it goes. It’s hard to produce a show with so little feedback from the audience.
I am not sure how dark I intend to go but I am going to dig into this Mr. Feeny scumbag for the first segment at the very least.
I watch a lot of horror movies. I play a lot of video games filled with graphic violence. In real life if I see blood I feel uneasy. This is to be expected. I can tell the difference between reality and fantasy. Then why is it when I see a medical drama showing blood I get sick to my stomach? The special effects used are no different than what I would see in one of my favorite slasher films.
One of the reasons I avoid medical dramas, aside from my aversion to drama in general, is the medical stuff. The images you see in a TV show set in a hospital are all too real for me. I can even handle a gory horror film that has scenes in a hospital. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare or even Flatliners both come to mind, among I am sure others.
A horror film is easier to digest in many respects. It isn’t just knowing the fantasy of film or TV being an illusion, when you watch a show there needs to be this separation of reality from fantasy that allows for the immersion requires to enjoy a movie. It is rare to see a horror movie that makes me cringe. The worst images that have made me shudder in horror films are very rare. The few which come to mind is the man eating his own brain in Hannibal as well as the pig scene in the same film. The entire premise of Human Centipede turned my stomach inside out to the point I have desperately tried to get the images from that film scrubbed from my brain.
While it is less common for an image to disturb me in a movie where death is the point, for some reason I can’t handle even little things when it’s presented in a TV show with real doctors saving real patients. I don’t mean those dramatizations of things like what you see on TruTV or the like, I mean relatively tame stuff like ER or Grey’s Anatomy. I haven’t quite figured it out. I can handle seeing basically the exact same sights in any action, fantasy, sci-fi or horror film but put it in a hospital, set in actual reality and I cringe. I flinch. Sometimes, I have negative biological reactions expelling fluids from my own stomach. I cannot quite put my finger on it.
Recently I made effort to get into Grey’s Anatomy. It was not by choice. I live on the same property as one of my sisters and her family. They enjoy watching TV and sometimes I sit in their living room on the couch watching a program they enjoy for the social aspect. One of their favorite shows is that medical drama. I have sat through enough episodes I can recognize some of the characters, recalling some of their names and even remembering things that happened in their personal lives. But whenever the gushy, gory gutsy stuff starts I have to call it quits and remove myself from the situation.
Maybe one of these days I will actually review the show on the merits of it being a drama. I am not sure I have enough exposure to be truly qualified to take on that task in a fair manner. That doesn’t mean I can’t speak my thoughts based on what I have seen. It reminds me of that episode of The Walking Dead where Negan bashes Glen’s skull in. I barely noticed the effect. When I see a woman gushing blood from her side in Grey’s all of a sudden I reach my limit.
Every once in a while I decide to take on a more serious topic. This week on the podcast I am sure to be discussing PiewDiePie and the mass shooting in New Zealand. However, before I get to that I wanted to take a look at some personal issues I have always faced in my own personal life regarding self esteem and depression. This is something I think most people can relate to. I am only now starting to get to the point in my life where I can sort things out. I hope that if someone were to read this article it might help them reflect on their own lives.
I want to put something into perspective. Why do I struggle so much with connecting to other people? What makes it so damn difficult for me to learn names to go with the endless sea of faces? Read below to get a little insight into the twisted mind that is cluttered with a spider’s web of confusion and frustration.
Let me start with stating I am currently 36-years-old as of the time of this writing. I have lived in more than 36 towns or cities over the years. I attended almost half that many schools growing up. I have moved damn near every year of my life either to a new town, new house or some other major change has occurred. Last year alone I move three times.
At 36 years of age I have already had more than 40 jobs over the span of my life. I began work at age 12. I started as a kid shoveling snow, mowing lawns, racking leaves and helping pull weeds in gardens of elderly individuals in the neighborhood. I also threw newspapers at people’s porches and in the summer I worked in the corn field for the farmers. I sat down recently once, more than a decade ago, to count the number of places I have lived, jobs I have worked and schools I attended. That as a decade ago and I was already over 35 jobs worked, 28 towns and twice that many houses. I forget how many schools it was because that was before college. Speaking of college, I attended 4four years of university. I attended three different colleges over that time. There have been times I was juggling two, or more, jobs at a time. So when I tell people I have a hard time remembering where I was in June of 2017 I can assure you it’s not because of drugs or alcohol.
Speaking of vices let’s put those on the table. I do not drink alcohol. I will have a drink but it is very rare. I have consumed literally, I checked, no more than what would be the equivalent of a 24 pack of 12 oz cans of beer. I have had maybe fewer than 12 total shots of hard liquor and less than 20 beers in my entire life. Alcohol is not an issue. I have smoked no more than what would amount to half, at best, a pack of cigarettes spread out over at least 20 or more years of trying to give it a shot. Vaping and chew I have at zero experience with save for second hand smoke and accidentally taking a drink from a soda can some asshole spit his chew into that one time.
What about sex? I am a devout Christian. I have remained fully celibate my entire life. Fully is not a stretch. I avoid situations where I might be compromised. I have never even been to a strip club and the extent of my exposure to pornography, outside brief nudity in slasher films, is being at a party with friends who had the videos playing on their computer. I have glanced at some out of curiosity before moving into a mind of withdrawal. I recuse myself from those situations that would tempt me into digging deeper.
None of this is to say I am perfect. Ha, far from it. Listen to my podcast and it takes no more than the intro before I am dropping the infamous F-bomb. I have lost my temper and engaged in, mostly defensive, physical violence. I say mostly. I was defending my sisters honor that one time I caught a former friend jumping out of her bedroom window. That was aggressive in nature but the cops sided with me so there was no arrest. Punches were thrown I cannot lie but charges were not filed. In fact I have never been arrested in my entire life. I have been questioned. I have been detained. I have been interviewed. But I have never been charged with a crime. Not that I have committed any crimes either, aside from skirmishes the local law enforcement chose to chalk up to a learning experience in being a man.
If you asked some of the ultra-right wing religious folks in my life I am a vile person because I watch hard R-rated gory horror films, listen to graphic gangsta rap and so-called Satanic Heavy Metal rock music. I am not perfect by any means. I had a friend introduce me to file sharing. There is a certain gray area in the law regarding some things, especially digital backups and time shifting, but I dabbled in the gray areas a until I got a muddy then cleansed myself off. I do, however, dig unashamedly into the world of roms and emulation.
What is the point of this, what is it a confession or soul searching? Honestly I don’t know. I realized today in my examination of my self why I have such a hard time taking the time to get to know people. Not to mention I have severe social anxiety and next to little self esteem.
I have other vices, if you will, secrets I keep to my self. My own skeletons I hide in the closet where they shall stay until Judgement day I suppose. I was raised baptist for the most part. Although even that is a stretch. You see I have attended likely as many churches as I have lived in towns because, well every time we moved I had to find a new church.
I am currently in the process of becoming Catholic. That is to say I have begun attending the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. I have been given permission to begin the process of coming into the church at the upcoming Easter Vigil. A part of what has drawn me to make this life altering change of direction is in fact my longing for something that has a real deep history. The Catholic faith goes directly back 2000 years as an established religion and several thousand more as an off shoot of the more ancient Judaism. I don’t use my religion to judge others or attack people I disagree with. In fact, doing just that goes against all Christian teaching regardless of which denomination a person adheres to. The truth is we’re told not to judge instead to love our enemies. I can say many of the so-called Christians who don’t share in that value are probably not true followers of the teachings of the Christ who they claim to follow. Turn the other cheek hardly sounds the same as some of the hatred people spew online.
The other stuff, the darker stuff that lurks in the hearts of the sinful man, well that’s why I need to attend Christs’s church. I want to shed my evil self and make every effort to become a better person, while simultaneously loving everyone and letting them live their lives in accordance with their own convictions.
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.
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.
Here you go friends, a couple of days late I know but life got in the way again.
It’s another exciting episode of The Dark Web Podcast where THE RAT talks about Gremlins animated TV series, Hulk Hogan getting a movie, a new Pokemon game oh yeah and forgotten TV shows?!
Be sure to visit The Spiders Lair, Where Chaos Resides, often to get the scoop on all things going on inside the insanity THE RAT calls his twisted mind. Stay Cool.