The Spiders Lair Podcast Episode 16

In this episode I spend a good portion of time talking about Mortal Kombat, Tom Petty, and Nintendo roms disappearing from rom sites. I also give an update on an upcoming LIVE episode scheduled for Tuesday, October 31 that will be a very special HALLOWEEN episode, with guests.

The Spiders Lair Podcast Episode 15

In this episode I talk about remembering Atari and contemplating their upcoming Atari Box console. I consider the different 3rd party games coming to the Nintendo Switch. I compare different digital music streaming and download services including Amazon Prime, Pandora, iTunes, and Spotify. I end with a recommendation of a good horror/thriller worth checking out this October.

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.

Changes are brewing: a new direction for the site

I have been struggling for some time how to make this site stand out above the rest. Finally I realize after years of working in the media and entertainment business there was a void I could fill. I have updated the About Us page to reflect that new direction.

Starting now I am in the process of transforming this site into a full blown media coverage site that focuses on provide the same level of critique, coverage, reviews, and respect of digital content creators that traditional media such as film and television currently enjoys.

Our society is in the midst of a digital revolution. The mainstream media is struggling with how to handle that transition. I want to provide a platform that will bring the same level of respect to digital content creation that Hollywood gets from the mainstream media. The goal is to really make sure that content creators are treated the way they deserve. By providing an independent platform with a journalistic approach, I hope to provide a 3rd party perspective that, hopefully, will provide unbiased and unfiltered views into the world of Digital content creation. I want this site to become a sort of Entertainment Tonight or TV Guide type publication whose focus is on the new digital platforms, with a strong focus on the Hollywood of digital, Youtube.

Youtube channel update

Alright so I keep saying I am going to be launching the Youtube channel soon. I been saying this for a while. Today I got one step closer. I verified the website with my channel so that the branding is now tied together. I am still working on nailing down exactly the types of content I want to produce. I am thinking for the time being I might just start as a typical vlogger until I come up with something more involved. I actually have multiple channels associated with my account so I might try to upload different content to different ones. I haven’t decided yet. But I do know I am getting closer. I also experimented with using my phone as a video camera. I wasn’t 100 percent satisfied with the quality but the process was simple enough I might consider using it again. This is just a general site update post nothing much to see.

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.