Coming soon, the future of local news

The entire time I have worked in the news media business, be it television, newspapers or online, the number one question people ask is not is print dying, but how long before it dies. Unfortunately s newspapers die off communities are left with what are called news deserts, in other words they have no local news. Sure you can get gossip on Facebook but without journalists who are objective verifying facts and interviewing local sources, those posts run the risk of being flagged as fake news, and with the rampant fake news epidemic facing our culture right now that’s best to avoid

I have been struggling with a way to combing traditional news media practices, beat news reporting, local human interest stories, covering local topics, holding local government’s accountable and generally doing all the things a typical print newspaper would do. Nobody I have met considers the local news station (broadcast TV) as any less important or legit as the local newspaper for delivering local interest stories. The problem there is broadcast news has to cover such a wide area to make money, and is facing such stiff competition from digital outlets like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc., we’re seeing local news stations struggle, close or consolidate in the same manner as the local newspapers. A democracy cannot flourish without news organizations informing the public what their government officials are doing, what their schools are up to, where their tax money is going, not without professionally trained journalists doing the work to get that information out to them.

It’s been a catch 22 for about 20 or so years for newspapers and local news stations alike. How do you produce expensive content on decreasing advertising dollars without deteriorating the quality of your product? If you make it available for free online you run the risk of giving away your product and not being able to make any money, or do you? I propose a different business model that will target the Millennials and their younger counterparts who are increasingly looking to digital as an alternative. Local TV news needs to give way to a locally produced newscast, distributed entirely on YouTube. Advertising dollars can be had via sponsors contained within the program, not traditional pre roll or post roll ads you have to share with Google. Yes, of course for the free web hosting YouTube provides let them get the pre and post roll ads, but you can take charge of the content with sponsored videos. However this only works for replacing the local broadcast affiliate, which I strongly believe is the future. It doesn’t do much for the newspaper. This is where I am proposing a new model that will combine the best of both worlds. You will get professionally produced content, delivered digitally for free, but packaged to a confined, hyper local market that is easy to sell to advertisers. Target your audience to the local shoppers and you can get the local shops to advertise with you.

In order for this model to work you have to keep your rates in line with what they expect to pay. It has to be cheaper than print but more expensive than Google or Facebook. The flip side is you can promise them you are targeting a local market instead of throwing a wide net for pennies in hopes of catching that one or two fish who swim through. Think of it like this. If you have a local wedding dress shop that targets young ladies in a specific geographic area, you can demonstrate to that shop owner that your website, a community newspaper online or a community news blog if you will, that will entice local audiences to browse content tailored for their specific tastes, then you can convince that dress shop to run her ads on your site instead of the local print newspaper.

In order to make a weekly newspaper you need a staff of at least 1-2 people. One person creating content, the other selling ads. Sometimes you run into a situation where there is just one person doing the newspaper as a solo project, more or less as a labor of love. Every local community needs it’s own newspaper. But times have changed. You no longer need to go down to the local super market to pick up a physical copy of that newspaper in today’s world. What works best now is you use social media, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, to target the locals in the area, use those links to get them onto your site and then provide content they cannot get elsewhere. Your job is to get them to trust you enough to spend a few minutes of their day on your site, reading up on local happenings, before heading out into the vast ocean of repeat content all the national sources are fighting over. In this world getting it first is the name of the game in national media. But getting it right is still the focus of local media.

That is why instead of investing money in a local print publication. I am going to build a series of local community news sites, newspapers or blogs that exist entirely in a digital space but treat them no different than if I was running a local newspaper. The difference is like night and day. First, you have more time to craft stories without being limited to a hard deadline. A weekly newspaper that has to print once a week has to make sure all content is packaged and done before the paper can go to print. This can lead to rushing out stories that are not quite ready but are also too old to be considered news. I ran into this dilemma all the time with our Friday newspaper. In order to get a newspaper out by Friday morning I had to send it to the printers Wednesday evening. That meant my Friday paper couldn’t have anything in it newer than, at absolute most current, 5 p.m. Wednesday. Most often I was writing stories about government meetings that took place on Monday so readers wouldn’t even know how their local politicians voted to spend their money until nearly a full week after the fact. What if something newsy was happening on a Thursday? I either had to ignore it, write about it after the fact as an after thought or try to get someone in the community to contribute to the newspaper. Sure, we did this but it was gut wrenching to learn about an event on Tuesday night that was going to happen on Thursday morning but it would be impossible for your newspaper to tell people ahead of time to go to because the paper came out after the fact but was printed before. I joked with my editor it was like writing stories in the past tense about things that haven’t happened yet. It was a juggling act.

A community blog acting as a digital newspaper wouldn’t face this problem. If news happens on Tuesday, you get your reporter there on Tuesday, snap photos, interview those involved and knock out an accurate, timely story by Wednesday morning. You then get the best of both worlds, timely and accurate news without the rush of getting that printer deadline. In today’s digital age it makes no sense not to run a local blog instead of a newspaper. The hang up old newspapers have are how to get digital advertisers. The trick is to have the same ads you always had, produced in house and tailored to their specific needs, not agency ads blanketing a mass market, not low CPM affiliate ads you make pennies on. The balance is to meet in the middle. I would set up something where an advertiser could purchase a display ad to run during a certain number of articles for a fair, fixed price. Then if they liked the results  it would be easy for them to renew.

I believe the future of newspapers is digital but not the old model of make a hard copy, then upload the PDF behind a paywall. That model hasn’t worked at reaching a new audience nor is it appealing to advertisers that have left. Local news is coming back in a big way and its going to take pioneers to blend the old model with the new model and utilize tools that social media provides. In doing so an editor can provide their local community with current events and stories that interest a local market yet still attracting advertisers that target that local market without the headache of having to provide a printed product that may or may not reach the eyeballs it was meant to.

It’s political season again, how do I maintain my sanity?

I try not to get political on my podcast. I made this decision partly because I was working at a newspaper when I started doing the podcast and so I felt it best to keep my political views away from my newspaper audience. My publisher advised I stick to that as it was technically against company policy to discuss politics on social media. Now, I am not currently working for a newspaper and this blog of mine is well known to contain my personal opinions. Still, as a journalist I often try to keep my politics to myself.

That being said, it’s now election season gearing up in the media so I am going to have to put on my adult pants and tackle this stuff head on. After all, if I want to be taken seriously as a journalist I am going to have to tackle serious issues. With that in mind I am going to start a series of more investigative editorial stories. I want to keep using this website for the intended purpose of making sense of the world. Often I use popular culture to make sense of the world, so I discuss popular culture.

As far as politics go, I feel I am at least as qualified as any average Joe. I mean, I am fairly informed, college educated and I have experience interviewing politicians during my 3 years working for the news media. Thus I am going to start modifying the blog in order to allow for more political discourse. I am not entirely sure if I will continue to adhere to my no politics on the podcast or if I will slowly lift those restrictions. I will, however, begin getting a lot more political on the blog. I am not going to turn this into a social commentary site or a vehicle for political change, rather I am hoping to hone my skills covering politics in an effort to advance my career as a journalist.

I will begin by publishing modified versions of political stories I wrote for the newspaper. I will include photos that I took along with stories I wrote. I am also going to begin digging into other political issues, ranging from elections, candidates and the hot-button issues. I am probably not going to give away my personal stance on issues but I will do my best to be as fair and objective a journalist as I can. I hope my readers will bear with me during this transition, and who knows maybe I can reach a wider audience.

Fanfiction coming to The Spiders Lair

I am still working on some original stuff behind the scenes. As I delve into writing things I get tons of ideas in my head. I used to write some pretty lousy fanfiction back in the early days of the world wide web. I am thinking of a few ideas that I have been kicking around. Below is a list of some of the fanfics I would like to do. The purpose is to jump start my imagination to, hopefully, inspire me to finish some of my other works of fiction.

The first day I took a job at the newspaper I was thrilled to be able to finally tell people I am a writer, and I actually get paid to do it. I have always been a writer. Ever since I was a kid. I just finally got around to finding a way to make a living doing what I love.

That being said, every writer has writers block. In terms of fiction stories, especially the suspense and horror stuff, I have hit a dead end for the time being. So I will start up some fanfics as a way to get the creative juices flowing again.

Here is a list of settings I would like to delve into. This is not an exhaustive list, just a few that I have ideas that I think would inspire me. Also, I am absolutely not making any commitment to finish any of these. The idea is to get excited and inspired to write something original.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

Specifically the original team of Jason, Trini, Kimberly, Zach, and Billy. The good thing about a fanfic here is you can cut out all of the cheesy acting and low budget special effects and focus on writing a fun and exciting story. There are a few science fiction stories I have swirling around in my head that a MMPR fanfic could be a good starting point.

Robocop vs. The Terminator

I have a lot of verses ideas. Actually who doesn’t to be honest. I don’t imagine any of mine will be award-winning stuff that makes fans geek out. Rather I expect it to be the types of stuff that only a certain type of fan might enjoy. I would set mine basically in the world the Sega Genesis game created.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

I have seen every film starring Freddy Krueger. I have seen all of the episodes of Freddy’s Nightmare’s a low budget TV series set in the same universe. I have even read all of the comic books and played all of the video games. It’s safe to say I know this character well enough I could write compelling fanfiction. In fact when I was younger much of the fanfics I wrote were based on this character.

Doctor Who

I have an idea for a Doctor Who fanfic where the Doctor travels into the Star Wars universe. I haven’t decided if it would be a parallel universe type story or something else. It revolves around him trying to prove the science of the Jedi and use that to dispel their “magic” as he often does. Thankfully Mr. Lucas created a way to science up the Force in a perfectly Doctor Who way.

Inspector Spacetime

Okay so ever since I fell in love with Community (and Alison Brie I won’t lie) I have been super excited to explore the Doctor Who rip off set in that shows universe. I have seen enough Doctor Who, Community, Futurama and The Orville I know I could get into this world and have tons of fun.

Speaking of…

Yes, I would love to write Community, Futurama and The Orville fanfics as well. I mean they are just each ripe with uncharted territory that needs to be explored further. I want to be free of the shackles of actors leaving the show so I can continue the adventures of Troy and Abhed in the Morning without worrying about one of them pretending to be a gangsta rapper or whatever it was. Futurama is also a goldmind for fanfiction material. I must confess it’s one of the few comic book series I truly enjoy so it’s quite possible I might already be able to get my fix that way, but still I think I could delve into that universe if I was properly motivated. As for The Orville. Okay it’s still new enough writing fanfiction might be premature. However, as it is loosely based on Star Trek, yet free from the convoluted retconning, it would be a cinch to jump in as there is little to go on and nothing can contradict anything else since it’s so new.

Super Mario Bros.

I loved the Super Mario Super Show. I know what you are thinking but I did. I would love to write stories set in that world using the characters and settings that have come since it’s end. The best part is, there really is no wrong way to do a Mario story since technically each game is disconnected from the rest. I might even have a way to write some Super Mario Bros: The Movie fanfiction that fixes some of that universe’s issues. Hey one can dream right?

I won’t dig into explanations for the remainder just list a bunch I can see myself having fun writing, even if nobody ever gets to read them but me.

Transformers meets Gobots

Boy Meets World

Saved by the Bell

Psych

The Goonies/The Monster Squad

Gremlins

Shinobi

Mechwarrior

Dungeons and Dragons

Loony Tunes/Disney/DuckTales

Indiana Jones

Legend of Zelda

Rainbow Brite

The Smurfs

Sonic the Hedgehog

Mortal Kombat

Friday the 13th

Pac-Man

The Matrix

G.I. Joe A Real American Hero

Super Smash Bros.

Final Fantasy 6 and 7

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Sabrina the Teenage Witch

And that should do it for this wish list. Thanks for reading and if you have any fanfiction you would like to share feel free to send it in.

The story of how a film student turned news reporter: A tale of two interests

Once upon a time, in a world gone mad with fake news, there was one man who decided to change his entire life plans for what seems like no good reason.

This isn’t going to be a full biography or even a memoir. It’s more or less just a recounting of the events that lead me to go from studying film in college to working in the news media business. It wasn’t really a long journey but there were some detours along the way.

It all started when I was 12 years old. My parents bought me an old fashioned typewriter and I set out to write my novels, screenplays, and short stories my imagination had been dreaming up. If it sounds cliche I apologize, but it’s very true. Except the year was 1994 and we couldn’t afford a computer. That is a story for another day. It would be 2 more years before I would up able to upgrade that typewriter into an electronic one with a floppy drive built in. It would be another 4 years after that before I would get my first desktop PC and 2 more years before we would get a printer hooked up to that PC.

In all that time I never stopped writing. I always said my dream was to be a writer. I didn’t care what I did I just wanted to write stories for a living. The thing is, I had no direction, no motivation and very little self esteem. In high school my interests changed. At some point I decided I needed to start a band because I thought that would impress this girl. That dream would morph into a very failed pursuit of a career as a Hip-Hop/Techno DJ. I would go back and forth mixing and scratching my way into releasing several independent, underground records. I even went so far as to scrap together enough money to start up a record studio. Okay it was in the closet of my sisters bedroom in an apartment we shared, but I felt like it counted, it had to. I never stopped writing though. I hadn’t considered myself a write at this point, a song writer to some extent but I never really counted that as “real writing” in my mind.

During this same time I also began pursuing a side career in video production. At first I picked up cameras, editing equipment and microphones in an effort to produce music videos to accompany my music career. The truth is, my interest in making music videos waned and then I shifted to making short films. I also dabbled in internet videos, migrating to YouTube once that became the big thing. Always a rebel, not a follower, I intentionally avoided YouTube only using it to host videos but sharing them on my own website and promoting them through Google Ads and Myspace because that was what I thought I was supposed to do.

Around late 2008 I was invested in starting up a new venture. I was trying to make a series of web videos that would mimic the style of content that was airing on G4 as the network was dying and I wanted to keep that type of content alive. I doubled down on video production, eventually walking away from the music for the next few years. It would take a major life change before I realized I needed to get serious and do something different with my life. I decided while I was living in a run down house in the middle of nowhere Nebraska with no job, no vehicle of my own and no plans for the future, I needed to do something real with my life. It was then I decided to try again going back to school. I had applied for loans, grants and scholarships before but since I was intent on going to film school I was always limited in my options. I tended to apply for schools that wanted more money than I qualified for. Then I decided to just take what I could get. I settled for enrolling in a Broadcasting program at UNK, that is the University of Nebraska at Kearney, in Kearney Nebraska.

My plan was to major in Broadcasting (taking video production, editing, creative writing, and other courses) while minoring in Theater. This way I was getting the technical skills I would need to make films while also getting a foundation in the theater arts. I knew I would need to work with actors and set designers in order to get any film project I dreamed up off the ground. Then something catastrophic happened. I won’t go into the details but due to hysteria following recent campus shootings, stabbings, etc., I found myself in being asked to leave my university over a hunting knife  friend gave me as a gift. Being the defensive type instead of just going along with what they were asking of me I pushed back, eventually getting to the point they revoked my scholarships and asked me to withdraw entirely from the university.

With no where to go I quickly enrolled in another school in the area. They didn’t have either a broadcasting program or a theater program, so I had to transfer my credits into the closest program they offered, Communications Studies with an Emphasis in Mass Media. It was close enough I could settle for that.

I didn’t enjoy the fact I was no longer enrolled in film courses or studying the subject I intended, but I was just relieved to still be in school working towards something. Through all of my video editing I eventually landed a summer job as a videographer for a wedding photography company. During the course of the summer the videographer who I was working with told me he was a production assistant at the local TV station. His dream was also to become a filmmaker and he had a blog reviewing films on the side. I saw this as my chance to step into the world I had been dreaming of. With his recommendation I applied for a job at the TV station, and landed a spot as a Video Editor. At last I was doing exactly the job I had gone to college to get. It wasn’t my actual dream job, it was just an entry level but I was just happy with that.

Barely 2 weeks into working at the TV station there was an immediate hole in the production team. A morning camera operator quite suddenly and unexpectedly. They asked me, since I had worked as a videographer, to step into the role of camera operator for a couple of days a week. This was in addition to the three days a week I was video editing on the evening shift so it gave me full time hours and I got to work in the studio not the newsroom. I was excited just to be in the studio. I was happy to do the grunt work, micing up the talent, situating guests, running cords, and pointing cameras where they instructed me. They were so impressed with how quickly I adapted they offered me a full time promotion to Assistant Producer, complete with a raise in pay and benefits. I was so happy I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be living my dream.

I never stopped wanting to write. I kept working on my blog on the side hoping eventually I could work my way into reporter or newscaster because I wanted to get out of production and into the exciting world of news. My first news report came when I answered the phone and learned a local family had been killed in a major wreck. I scrambled to take down the info, ran to my desk wrote up a short little news brief, turned it into a reader (that’s what we call it when the newscaster just reads the info no graphic or video) and sent it over to the booth. It was my first chance ever writing a breaking news story, an the thrill was unbelievable. I would slowly get to help out writing stories as I worked in the newsroom. I wasn’t a full reporter, I was mostly in charge of re-wording AP stories we pulled off the wire but it was still better than nothing.

After nine months doing this I realized I needed a change of scenery. It was a small market TV station in the middle of Nebraska. Most of our stories centered on community happenings, local sports and a lot of corn and livestock stories. I even found myself producing a weekend, pre-taped agriculture show. I needed to spread my wings and get out of Nebraska. I made a life-changing decision to move to Texas.

Once I arrived it was time to find a job. I tried the local TV news stations first. The ABC affiliate hired me right away. I had previously been working at an ABC station so it was an easy fit. But something was wrong this time. They didn’t have an opening in production or the newsroom. I didn’t have enough experience as a writer or reporter to get an on-air job so they stuck me in Master Control. For those that don’t know MC is the room where all the switches are. It’s the person in the dusty closet making sure the commercials run. It’s your job to watch all the shows, log the commercials that air, the time they air, and cross them off if they get dropped. For the most part, it was a boring job sitting watching TV all day while also making sure you were keeping the programming going back and forth between local and network. It was a lot harder than it sounded but it was still easy. The problem is it wasn’t anything at all what I wanted to be doing. There was no writing, no video editing and no camera work. It was just sitting in a closet pushing a button when they light flashed. My first day taking the helm the guy training me took a lunch break at a time he thought was the easiest. Once you get into Prime Time it’s basically all automated. At that point you just put a check next to the name of the commercial when it airs. In other words you just sort of sit there babysitting but not doing anything productive. The problem was the transition hadn’t occurred. There was still one more local commercial break, the lead into Prime Time. I missed my cue and the station went into Wheel Of Fortune, blank. It was totally black for 2 whole minutes. It was actually 3 minutes, 2 minutes of commercials and 1 minute into the show. That meant the station lost thousands of dollars due to a mistake I made. Needless to say that was the end of that job.

With no prospects and the other TV station not returning my calls I decided to try something different. I got in touch with the career counselor at my University, I was still enrolled as I was finishing up taking online courses. She helped me re-write my resume with an emphasis on my writing and creative talents. Then I sent my resume out to radio stations, newspapers and local print shops. I had an interview with a radio station for an internship. I was excited for the offer, but it was an unpaid internship that required college credit. I began the process of writing up a lesson plan, finding a sponsor at the university I was attending and then I realized I still had a car payment due, and other bills piling up. I took a part-time job delivering pizzas for Dominoes. I don’t know what had changed from the time I did it before or if Texas was just different but they were taking my tips out of my paycheck and taxing me for them. I was driving 18 miles to work and wasting all my gas to get a very minimal paycheck. Between that and the unpaid internship I was sinking into debt, fast.

In order to get by for the summer I pawned all my video games. My PS2, PS3, PS4, Wii, Wii U, all my games, DVD’s and Blu Ray discs. I still had to pay that ticket back so I was scrambling. Finally literally on my birthday I got a phone call from the local newspaper. Literally the local newspaper in the very town I was living had an immediate opening for a staff writer. It was exactly my perfect dream job and it came to me, on my birthday. I felt like that was God’s way of saying here you go, you worked hard, persevered an stayed faithful now have at it.

I have been at that weekly newspaper for 2 years. I can honestly say it truly is my dream job. I always wanted a job where I got to write stories for a living and that is what I am doing now. I still found I have time to write for my own blog on the side and even keep working on those novels, screenplays and short stories whenever I find the time, or motivation. You never know where you are going to end up but I read these kinds of stories all the time when I was working at a gas station for minimum wage buying scratch tickets on the off chance I might win enough money to afford a pizza that week. Now I have my own apartment, a decent car, am paying down my student loans and truly am living the American dream. It’s not the dream I set out to pursue but if you have a skill, talent, or vision don’t give up just hang in there and see where life takes you. No matter what happens, take every opportunity you can get because you really never know where this life with lead you

That’s how I went from studying film and dreaming of becoming a Hollywood producer to writing for a weekly newspaper. When I look at the careers of some of the most famous authors and artists of all time, many of them worked at newspapers during the day and wrote their other works on the side. It’s sure a whole lot better than selling gasoline to a bunch of angry people who just want to get back to whatever it is they are doing.

Site Update: Videos

I had to delete a couple of videos from the YouTube channel today. I am working on taking the site in a new direction and the two videos did not fit the tone I want the site to go in.

Also, I am stuck using my cell phone for now. I promise I DO actually have a good DSLR camera for shooting videos, but the tab broke off my 16GB SD card rendering it useless. I am in the process of trying to get it fixed. I have tried a couple of do-it-yourself fixes with no luck. I have a 32GB SD card but for some reason it refuses to record video for more than just a few seconds at a time. If I can ever get that figured out I should be back in business.

For now I will continue using the cellphone camera. I don’t know how much longer even that will be an option as the cracks in the screen are starting to interfere with the touch capabilities so the phone is on its last legs as well. With all these technical issues I am facing an uphill battle. But don’t fret I will persevere.

Contemplating the Netflix purchase of comic book imprint Millarworld

The Spiders Lair is not a news site first and foremost. Obviously nobody is learning about this news by coming here. Still this is big enough I wanted to get something down before the dust settles.

According to reports Netflix is purchasing an indie comics company called Millarworld. Apparently it’s the publishing house that does Kick-Ass and Kingsmen, among other comics I never heard of. At first that sounds like a pretty big deal. Especially when you take into account their current deals with Marvel. Netflix could soon become the premiere streaming service for quality, comic book content.

Of course the only two comics they make I know about are the very two not included in the purchase. What does this mean in the grand scheme of things? On the surface, very little. Netflix has never out right purchased another company before. By picking up a comic book imprint the idea sounds good. If they can develop enough titles into quality movies and shows for their service, combined with the already fantastic Marvel shows they have, other publishers could come on board. I think the far reaching implication would be for more indie developers to bring their titles to Netflix for production. This could mean we could start seeing shows based on comics that aren’t as mainstream as Marvel and DC without having to go through the Hollywood studios. This could be a game changer depending on how things work out.

Imagine as more comic book fans start to discover all the good shows and movies they want to watch are coming to Netflix. This could snowball where all the content creators scramble to get their indie comic characters turned into a Netflix series. I would LOVE to see a Gen 13 show or even a revived Buffy with a new lead. Oh, I guess if they wanted to they could go the animated route too. I just wish they would use their licensing deals to pick up a few more classic animated comics based shows like the original TMNT cartoon or even some X-Men the Animated series. When I first discovered Netflix they had a ton of those types of shows. Now they have a few here and there. I don’t think the quality has declined much. I just don’t think they need to abandon old shows entirely to make room for new content. I would prefer they found a better balance between the two.

AS of right now this is more akin to when Hasbro bought the rights to Atari back in the 90’s. They are getting some new properties but are they really going to have the impact Netflix desires? A real game changing deal would have been if they picked up Image, Malibu, or even Dreamwave, at least then you are getting a solid blend of well known and indie comics. Here you are basically getting 4th tier comics from a very small specialty publisher. Not a bad deal, it’s still new content but seriously if you have to Google what their titles are it’s not like they are making waves. I mean I read comics, I go to Free Comic Book Day. And I wasn’t that familiar with this company. I loved Kingsmen and Kick-Ass but since those two aren’t a part of this deal I am not even sure how much of an impact this will truly make. All in all I will just take a wait and see approach. Since I haven’t really even been paying attention to Netflix in quite a while I am certain this won’t really affect me all that much anyways.

New theme live, new features on the way

First, I updated the theme. That was long over due. I am not entirely done customizing it to fit the tone and mood of the website, so be prepared for more changes soon.

I also added a couple of social media buttons. As of right now all I have set up is a Facebook page and a Twitter account. I don’t know if I will be setting up any other social media accounts for the site or not. I might add a few additional share buttons but I haven’t gotten around to that just yet.

The Youtube channel is getting closer to launching. I don’t have any firm plans on what video content is going to be on the channel, just throwing around a few ideas. I want to make sure if I do any video content that it’s worth watching while also easy enough to produce so to not interfere with my other projects. I do have a full-time job that takes up a lot of my time.

I am thinking about doing two podcasts instead of just the one. The primary podcast is going to continue being the casual podcast where I sit and play a video game and leisurely talk into the microphone each week. I am working on getting a second podcast together that will shoot for a once a month schedule. This one will be more “polished” with a few guests and a video feed to accompany the audio. This one is going to take me a little longer to get up and running. I have an idea what I want to do, I am just working on getting a few regular guests that are willing to sit in and make it happen. I have at least a couple of people willing to do it and a few others I am trying to get on board.

I am also branching out in the types of articles I write. I don’t want to be a theme blog where the theme determines what I write about, I want it to reach an audience who appreciates the tone of my writing and the topics I write about. I don’t want to have a site dedicated to a specific theme, topic, or genre that forces my hand while limiting my creativity. And yes, that does mean politics are certainly not off limits.

Notice how the site is, mostly, devoid of photos? Part of that is I have no interest in stealing photos from other websites or photographers. I might occasionally download a public domain photo or something that is easily under the fair use category, but for the most part I want to ensure any photos I run on this site belong to me, either photos I took with my own camera, created myself using a photo editing software, or photos a contributor directly provides to the site.

Music reviews and movie reviews are coming. I want to do this, I have a lot of thoughts on a lot of different audio recordings that I think I need to get written down. Movie reviews are a little harder to get motivated to write. I don’t want to do anything that is going to bring any copyright notices against the site. As such I am working on finding out how to get licensed clips directly from studios for the purpose of reviews. I know you can do this, when I worked at the TV station we were able to do that so I know there are services out there. I remember a previous website I ran I had a paid subscription to a file video service so I know they are out there. I will look into what I need. I hate it when people just use other people’s IP without permission and then cry fair use when their ability to make money off other people’s works gets prohibited. It’s always better to just get permission first and then you have nothing to worry about.

That is the latest site update. Be sure to check back often and tell all your friends to share this website, follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.

Enter the darkness, if you dare

This very website has often had trouble finding it’s voice. The primary author, however, has not. The slogan, To Organize Chaos, does little justice to what is actually intended. So here is a new layout of what to expect if you dare to venture into The Spiders Lair.

First, take a second to let that name sink in. At the very center of every spider-web (Spiders lair) is a blood-sucking monster. They hide in the darkness waiting to snag a bite of blood to enjoy. The savory taste of the salty fluid that keeps most biological creatures alive is the very substance every spider craves. Another popular blood sucking monster that lives in the dark is the vampire. If you read this blog, or know the author and his friends, you would come to realize vampires are often going to come up, one way or another. From Buffy to Dracula to Castlevania, vampires are a big part of the dark culture this site intends to cover.

Sure, as a gamer, I talk about video games, and so do my friends, but what really excites me, what really gets my blood going is talking about those things that hide in the shadows. The Christian lore teaches that the darkness is the enemy. The devil, the demons, the evil spirits all make their home in the darkest places, and that the darkest corners of a man’s soul are where the worst crimes imaginable take place. No matter which side of the war you fall, fighting for the light or slave to the dark master, know your enemy is something that comes to mind.

To some, studying the evil works of the Prince of Darkness himself is akin to opening a doorway to hell, or opening a door inviting evil into your home. To others, if we are instructed to fight a spiritual war, it’s a way of knowing your enemy so you know what you are dealing with. For others, it’s all innocent and just stories. Take for example, sitting around a campfire telling scary stories. Who hasn’t heard the tale of the escaped convict with a bloody hook told to all hormonal teenagers to scare them away from per-maritial sexual relations. Now, the Bible itself, the most revered weapon, the sword in the spiritual war, itself a book laced with graphic depictions of violence, kidnapping, rape, incest, and demon possession. If the Bible is to be taken literally and one follows logically that just reading stories of sinful acts is enough to “cause” a person to sin in their heart, then the reading the Bible itself would be a sin. No, the Bible tells stories of sinners who rebel against the Word of God as a precautionary tale. No different than the cautionary tales contained within the typical slasher film. Sure the movies are often laced with detailed illustrations of sexual acts, often bare breasted woman running amok as the serial killer slices their naked bodies to bloody rags. However, the bible itself contains detail stories of sexual acts that often result in the death, dismemberment or even damnation of the participants, the moral of the story is, if you don’t know what sin is, how are you to avoid it? Another way to look at it is, just hearing a story of how a particular crime occurred is not a sin, so neither is the reenactment of said acts via Hollywood movie magic. Even many who would condemn or judge a man who watches a horror movie would make no fuss about a person reading a classic novel or work of literature that also contains graphic scenes.

This is not intended to be a sermon, not everyone ascribes to the Christian ethic, even if the Gothic portrayal of Christianity is the basis for many horror movies.

Logic does not always matter to a person with a conviction. Thus I share this, the Bible does say judge not lest ye be judged, and leave that out there where it is. The rest of this website will be devoted entirely to covering those topics that spark the interest of the author, and hopefully, his readers. To quote Dr. Dre “Journey into the mind of a maniac, doomed to be a killer since I came out the nutsack.” In other words, enter the mind of a man who is not afraid to investigate the darker side of humanity, if you dare. The site is not going to glorify or glamorize violence, evil, or criminal activity, however, there are works of fiction and art, including movies and video games, that are covered and discussed that fall into those categories, either as tales of warning what not to do, or just as examples of how the dark forces operate as a way to better under stand the enemy within.

Here are some of the movies, video games, music, books, comic books, and board games that delve into the darkness that this site will cover.

Movies

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Friday the 13th
  • Hellraiser
  • Gremlins
  • Ghostbusters
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Star Wars
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Candyman
  • Sleepaway Camp
  • Children of the Corn
  • Child’s Play
  • Silent Night, Deadly Night
  • Prom Night
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  • Last House on the Left
  • The Fifth Element

Books

  • Dracula
  • Frankenstein
  • Homer
  • Beowolf
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Sword of Shannara
  • Stephen King thrillers

Music

  • Marilyn Manson
  • N.W.A
  • Dr. Dre
  • Ice Cube
  • Snoop Dogg
  • RBX
  • The Dogg Pound
  • Garbage
  • Metallica
  • Megadeth
  • Alice Cooper
  • Rob Zombie
  • KISS
  • 2Pac
  • Wu Tang Clan

Video Games

  • Mortal Kombat
  • Castlevania
  • Doom
  • Ghosts N Goblins
  • Haunted House
  • Legend of Zelda
  • Final Fantasy
  • Silent Hill
  • Resident Evil
  • Alone in the Dark
  • Nightmare Creatures
  • Altered Beast
  • Golden Axe
  • Might and Magic
  • Wizards and Warriors
  • Pokemon (Pocket Monsters)

Comic Books

  • Dawn
  • Cry For Dawn
  • X-Men
  • Justice League of America
  • The Avengers
  • Spider-Man
  • The Punisher
  • Daredevil
  • The Fantastic Four
  • Batman
  • Vengeance of Vampirella
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Mortal Kombat
  • Scooby Doo
  • Tales From the Crypt

Board Games/Card Games/Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons and Dragons
  • Advanced Dungeons and Dragons
  • Magic: The Gathering
  • Hunter: The Reckoning
  • Clue
  • Spellfire
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer

So there you have, if you wanted to know what direction this site is going, the best way to explain it is the intention is to explore the darker things of humanity, through the lens of media, and develop a sense of social commentary through this exploration. Enjoy, and beware what you discover.

 

 

 

 

SNES Classic Mini: Thoughts.

Last year Nintendo surprised the entire world by releasing the NES Classic Edition. The handy little rom machine was under produced and now sells for outrageous prices on the after market.

Now with the success of the Switch Nintendo feels emboldened to follow up the insanely popular device with a SNES mini. To be honest, while I did grow up with the NES, I enjoy the SNES much more. The Super Nintendo was the very first game system I ever purchased with my own money, money I earned from working two summer jobs. I worked in the corn fields early in the mornings and then I tossed newspapers at people’s door steps in the afternoon. I earned that Super NES, and I loved it.

What makes me very interested in this is not just all of the great games, nor the cool retro form factor, but it also comes with a copy of an unreleased Super NES Prototype of Star Fox 2. For me, just being able to replay Super Mario World on an actual Super NES Controller on an official Nintendo device would be good enough. Sure I have the game on Wii, and Wii U, and Game Boy Advance… wait, why do I want this thing again?

Right, so the truth is, while I do currently own nearly every game being announced, that isn’t going to stop me from wanting to buy this handy little gadget. Although I see it as more of a novelty than anything, I am sure I will still attempt to pre-order one. I never did get an NES Classic, the price just never came down enough to justify a purchase for what it was.

To  be honest, I am not even sure the Star Fox 2 game is what I really want. I have been wanting to get an SNES for a long time. Considering the cost of a used, original, beat up old SNES is the same price as this brand new, in the box, device made directly by Nintendo, I am very tempted to get this just for that reason alone. Sure it won’t be able to play all of the old carts, but honestly I wasn’t looking forward to spending that kind of money anyways so for me this device could be just what I needed to add to my collection.

Hopefully Nintendo can produce enough to meet the demand. Or at least to fill pre-orders which I hope to jump on very soon.

Site is now live, new podcast is happening.

This is to let our readers know we have upgraded the site to a webhosting plan now, so please update your URL’s to point to http://www.thespiderslair.com as our new home page. The entire content of the site will remain fully intact this time we are just upgrading our existing hosting plan, not switching hosts like before.

So browse the new site, some new sections and features are on the way, some will be launching this very weekend.

The new podcast is going up this weekend, bet on it. I am recording tonight and uploading first thing in the morning, at least that is the plan. Plan B is to record in the morning and upload by the afternoon but I will be sure to have the first episode online. The format is going to be 90 minutes, divided into 20 minute segments with an intro and recap. I already have some theme music ready to go. The new podcast begins this weekend so be sure to check it out.