What it’s been like transforming a weekly podcast into a daily internet radio show

Congratulations you are caller number nine stay on the line and we’ll hook you up with today’s grand prize don’t touch that dial we’ll be right back after these messages.

Ever since I was very young I always wanted to get into broadcasting one way or another. I studied broadcasting in college. I never knew if I would end up in radio or television all I knew was I wanted to be able to create a show I could share with an audience and keep them entertained and informed.

My career in the media and entertainment industry has been a little bumpy, to say the least. I have worked in live entertainment, weddings, a sports arena, two different local broadcast TV station and a weekly newspaper. On the digital front I have done a little bit of everything ranging from writing, producing, music, videos and everything else. At one time I even started up my own independent record label which I used to publish underground hip-hip and techno/trance albums. The only thing missing from my repertoire is radio.

Like most people in this business my primary goal is to stay busy. Whenever one job has run it’s course I quickly begin looking around for the very next opportunity. Sometimes, if you are lucky and keep your eyes open, you can end up juggling multiple projects at the same time. I launched my current blog, this website you are reading this article on, around 2013, while I was still in college. Since then I expanded to include a YouTube channel and a once a week, 2 hour long uncensored podcast. While I enjoy doing the podcast I felt like I was cutting myself short. When I was working for the newspaper I toyed with the idea of transforming the podcast into a daily internet radio show. The idea never went very far as I was always working. Now that’s changed I have a little more time to focus on doing the things I enjoy.

Recently I decide to give it a show. I finally settled on a format I think works for my personality while maintaining some sense of professional production values. I want to do the radio show as if it was a broadcast series. This means keeping it limited to a set time length, a specific format and staying within the guidelines of the FCC. Although it is an internet show and thus government censors do not apply, my goal is to do it as closely to a over-the-air radio show as I can get it.

One of the things that has been motivating me is my desire to stop waiting around for someone to give me a job doing the things I enjoy and instead just making things happen. Fortunately I can say without a doubt since I have launched the daily series I have gotten the attention of the right people as I have finally begun getting many of the job offers I had been waiting for.

The biggest challenge isn’t biting my tongue. I function quite well in polite American society so I can form intelligent sentences without the use of profanities or other “dirty” language. The real difficulty has been in being disciplined enough to keep the length and format the same each episode while being consistent in uploading at the same time each day. It’s important to reach my audience if they can rely on me to deliver a consistent product that matches their lives.

One of my worries was if I did this daily would I be able to come up with enough topics to hold it down? I decided if I settled on an hour long format with very specific segments it would emulate what I learned working in the TV business. This way I would know exactly what needs to be discussed during each segment. I decided I would do an opening segment where I just talk a little about my life, my day and the world around me. Then I would transition into a recommendation section where I discussed an old movie, music work and a video game. I decided on this segment because it gives me something to be consistent while also being flexible to keep the conversation loose.

Then I decided I would transition from there to reading of headlines and offering commentary on those headlines. I figured this format would be tailored to my tastes such as I would be able to keep it going for a while. The first road block is I have finally been offered a position at a TV station I can’t refuse. This is going to put me back to working a 40 hour work week. At first I thought that would interfere with my ability to produce a daily show. However I am not thinking it will only make me more disciplined and polished giving me a chance to produce a more professional show.

No matter what happens I want to keep doing both The Dark Web Podcast on weekends and the new Dark Web Daily Show on weekdays for the near future. Part of what I like about producing my own show is I am in complete control of the content. I am looking forward to getting back to working a steady job for a media production company. Still I enjoy having the freedom to produce something on the side that is entirely mine. More than anything I produce the show I want to do and I hope my audience will find it as enjoyable to listen to as I do producing it.

Some reflections on how to improve as a writer

Do you ever get trapped inside your own mind? The worst part of trying to come up with something interesting or unique to write about is not trying to remember what topics I have already written about. No, for me it’s about moving past the same topics. In writing, as in life, once you get stuck in a rut it can be hard to escape. Then there is a part of me wanting to be consistent in my element.

Whether writing for someone else or for yourself, the trick is making sure your writing is compelling to the audience. One thing I have learned, however, is you can’t fall back on amount of experience when discussing your writing. For starters, it doesn’t matter how much experience you have if you’ve been doing it wrong. All you end up doing is forming bad habits you have to learn to break.

When I first left the newspaper I was working for I was cocky. I had nearly 3 years writing for community newspaper surely that alone would be sufficient to get me a job at another newspaper. After I started looking at the stories I was using as my portfolio I realized, my writing had improved, I still had a lot of work to improve.

The hardest thing for me is writing compelling ledes. In the newspaper business the lede has to be catchy and to the point, it has to pack a lot of information in a few words. I sometimes struggled with writing headlines too. Fortunately I had a guide who would often re-write my ledes for me. Headlines were kind of a group effort. I learned two conflicting approaches. The older reporter preferred longer, more detailed headlines. The editor, a man slightly younger than myself, was more fond of short headlines with large fonts. It was two conflicting approaches I had been thrust into the middle. I eventually discovered I preferred shorter headlines with easy to read sentences.

When I was writing for a print newspaper we didn’t have to worry about ‘clickbait’, our headlines had to be informative and eye catching. The newspaper where I worked also didn’t have a web product. The newspaper I started up is the opposite. I am operating it basically all digital with a print product being something I am looking into down the road.

I don’t suppose I am really offering up advice to other writers out there. I think as I started typing the first thing I wanted was to do a topic I hadn’t spent much time on before. Admitting my writing was in desperate need of improvement was one topic I can assure you I didn’t plan on tackling.Yet, here I am taking a good, hard look at my previous writing. There was a time when I believed all I had to do to improve my writing was to keep at it. I don’t think that now. I have realized my writing has improved more as I have sought advice from other writers. I am also figuring out the need to read other styles of writing.

The trick isn’t to be the best writer out there. My goal really is to be the best writer I can be without regard to how I compare to others. That does mean having a focus. The second news editor I worked under taught me the fork method. I didn’t quite understand what he was teaching me until after he left. I can honestly say my first news editor had a greater impact on my philosophy than anyone else. I still try to stay in touch with him even though I have moved half way across the country.

One thing I can say is clear. With a tagline of “To Organize Chaos” I left myself open ended enough I could technically write about anything I want. I fully understand a website needs its own focus the same as a story. I think the best way to reach my audience is to recognize who I want that audience to be. The more time I spend on this the clearer that picture becomes. I still believe my purpose in life is to try to make sense of the world around me.

Political discussion now fair game on Dark Web podcast

I tried to keep politics out of the podcast. Not because I can’t defend my point of view, because I certainly can. Not because as a journalist I felt the need to keep my political views to my self. To be fair journalists can have political opinions, we’re just supposed to be unbiased in our reporting.

This week something took place that twisted my arm. The last several episodes I have been making it a point to discuss the new Roseanne reboot, or Roseanne Season 10 as it has been called. Then out of the blue the show was cancelled. The reason for the cancellation was because of a personal Tweet that was labeled as racist.

I tried not to get into the political side of it and then, I broke into another political tirade as a result. This wasn’t the first time I broke my rule because of something relating to Twitter. And so I went full in. I revealed many of my personal political views. During my angry rant I realized there just isn’t any way to do a show like this without getting into politics at some point.

By the end of the episode I settled into a rant about the origins of native English words currently considered to be vulgar by modern standards.

As a matter of reality I knew this was going to take place sooner rather than later. I mean, as someone who studied political science in college and has spent the last 3 years working in the news media, it was inevitable my show would deteriorate into political ranting. All I can say is if there really was some grand conspiracy to silence conservative voices, how the hell is Rush Limbaugh still on the air?

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.

Interview with Congressman Beto O’Rourke (Aug. 13, 2017)

Rep. O’Rourke draws large crowd in Sherman

By Richard A. Todd

Beto 1-Photo by Richard A. Todd

GRAYSON COUNTY DEMOCRATS HOST TOWN HALL MEETING– U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) was invited to speak in a town hall meeting at the Grayson County Courthouse in Sherman on Sunday, Aug. 13. 2017. Organizers included, in no particular order: Lander Bethel, Dan Pucul, Genna Mitchell Bethel, Roger Sanders, Andra Petrean, Mark Ewig, Beto O’Rourke (center back blue shirt), Barb Rush, Glenn Melancon, Christina Johnstone, Glen Johnstone, Rajendra Wagle, Terry Templeton, Dinesh Wagle and Marion Morgan. O’Rourke is running against Sen. Ted Cruz (R) for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

A Town Hall meeting that took place on Sunday, Aug. 13 at the Grayson County Court house drew a crowd of over 300 people. The focus of the town hall, U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke, (D-El Paso), speaking to potential voters in Grayson County. O’Rourke brought out the big guns and used strong words to take on his political opponent, Sen. Ted Cruz, (R- Houston), currently sitting Senator from

Texas. In a heated story about immigrants from South America that flooded into Texas during the previous administration O’Rourke fired up his base by directing harsh words towards the current administration. “Who would have thought that in 2017 we’d be having to hold marches for civil rights?” he asked to a fired-up crowd.

 

Beto 2

-Photo by Richard A. Todd

FULL HOUSE– Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) spoke to a crowd of over 300 attentive listeners at a  town hall meeting on Aug. 13, 2017 at the Grayson County Courthouse. Rep. O’Rourke is running against Sen. Ted Cruz (R) for a seat in the U.S. Senate in next year’s mid-term election

“We can’t wait until 2020. We need to start to unravel the policies this president has started now.” – Rep. Beto O’Rourke

Gordonville residents Clyde and Barbara Reynolds were in attendance.

“We came to hear what he had to say,” said Barbara. “We heard enough. This man is getting my vote.” she said.

O’Rourke has an uphill battle if he wants to persuade Grayson County voters. In the previous two elections Grayson County voted nearly 75 percent for the Republican candidate. In 2012 when they elected Sen. Cruz, and again in 2016 when they contributed to sending Donald Trump to the White House.

“I’m not looking just to voters who supported the president. I have had people come up to me who said they voted for Trump who are supporting me.” he said.

He took a hard stance on a few key issues. When asked about a woman’s right to choose,

“That’s non-negotiable for me. A woman has a right to make her own decisions about what she does with her body.” he said to cheers.

Other hot button issues were education, healthcare and immigration. He went so far as to say he favored universal healthcare and that it was the next step. On education he wants to do away with and replace the No Child Left Behind Act. When faced with a question he didn’t have a response for, he was quick to suggest he would better serve the voters by doing further research.

At one point he took down the name and information of a young man who asked a question about animal rights the congressman didn’t have a definitive answer for.

“I will have to do more research and get back to you, but I want to make sure I get it right.” he said.

He told stories of children, some Hispanic, others Muslim, who asked him “why doesn’t the president like me” referring to Trump. When asked if police should be allowed to arrest people who attend protests in military garb his response was a firm defense of all Americans’ first amendment rights. He did not condone the use of violence and called the incidents that took place in Charlottesville over the weekend acts of terrorism.

“We need to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem” he repeatedly said during the event. He added, “We need to move forward, not backwards.”

He told stories how people need to live in communities with downtown districts where people come face to face instead of living in gated communities.

“We need to invest in down town projects” he said.

“These [gated communities] separate us versus them. Communities are part of how we became so divisive in the first place.” he said.

He also proclaimed he wants to invest more in alternative energy, suggesting he sees the fight against the oil and natural gas industry as being similar to the whaling industry, a fight he claimed his side won.

He also said he favors term limits going so far as to indicate he would serve his two terms then step aside. It was not clear if he was counting his time in the House of Representatives as a part of that claim. The event was organized by members of the Grayson County Democratic Party. There were people in attendance from Grayson, Fannin, Cooke, Collin and Denton counties, and at least two who indicated they were from Rockwall.

O’Rourke announced his candidacy to unseat Sen. Cruz in March of this year. He will continue his tour of the state until the end of the month when he will return to his home district of El Paso, a city he referenced many times throughout the day.

Editors note: This story originally ran in the Aug. 18, 2017 issue of the Whitesboro News-Record. It is recreated here for posterity sake.

Richard A. Todd is a journalist, photographer and podcast host. He is currently writing stories freelance for local newspapers in the Magic Valley of Southern Idaho and Elko County, Nevada.

The Dark Web TV Episode 2- UNBOXING STUFF, Go-Bots combiner team and more

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In this episode I introduce a new soda product I recently discovered. I start things off with my first ever unboxing. For the What’s Streaming segment I mentioned two YouTube channels that are interested to me. They were Biographics from the people who make TodayIFoundOut, and MetalJesusRocks crew. In the Retro Showcase I showed off my original Go-Bots combiner team, Puzzler. The Dark Web TV is a news/talk show done in a similar format to a typical news broadcast but modified for the YouTube audience. This show is a companion piece to The Dark Web podcast. New videos are set to stream each week. Follow The Spiders Lair: Twitter: @phatrat1982 Facebook: @thespiderslairblog Podcast: http://thespiderslair.podbean.com/feed/ iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/t… Website: http://www.thespiderslair.com Please like and share.

The Spiders Lair Ranks- Freddy vs. Jason franchise: part one the Freddy movies

This has been a long time coming. It’s no secret I like to make lists, who doesn’t lists are fun. I also thoroughly enjoy the slasher movie genre. My favorites are A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th. The two franchises clashed in 2003 with the blockbuster spectacular “Freddy vs. Jason.” This is a list ranking the entire franchise as if it were one franchise, from best to worst. This is purely based on the opinion of The Spiders Lair, so I hope you enjoy this article as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Freddy

A Nightmare on Elm Street

By pretty much all accounts the original Elm Street film is by far the best in the series. It really wasn’t my first exposure to the series, that honor belongs to The Dream Child, but it was easy to see why it’s been regarded as the best once I did get to see it.

For those that don’t know the movie is about a child murderer who is turned into a demon who can enter the dreams of teenagers and if he kills you in the dream you die for real. The premise sounds silly but it’s actually a very well done film.

Fun fact, this was Johnny Depp’s first film appearance.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3

This was the second of the Elm Street films I got to see and pretty much became my favorite for the longest time. There was a time when I might be inclined to say this was the best in the franchise with the original either a tie or a close second. As time has gone on I have learned to appreciate the original more and more. I still enjoy this movie too, but I do think the first one is slightly better mostly for being original.

The movie takes place a few years after the previous two. It appears as though Freddy is spreading through Springwood like a plague with teenagers dropping like flies. The main story focuses on a group of kids, the “last of the Elm Street teenagers” that Freddy is trying to kill off. The kids are all institutionalized trying to survive their nightmares. This is one of the better movies in the franchise and easily the best of the sequels.

Fun fact: Laurence Fisburne of the Matrix fame makes an appearance in this movie.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4

I remember the first time I watched this movie. I had already seen Part 5 and part 3 but none of the other movies at this point. I was flipping through the channels and we had one of those free preview weekends of the premium movie channels. I had never seen it before but when it started up I was so excited to be watching another one of the Elm Street films. By the time I got to the end of this film I was beyond hooked, I was borderline obsessed.

The movie takes place after the events of Dream Warriors. Freddy comes back to life in one of the better scenes in the franchise. The movie, is not as good as the one that came before, but it’s still much better than many of those that came after.

Fun Fact: This movie features some awesome 80’s MTV references.

Freddy vs. Jason

I consider this the last of the true Elm Street movies. Although it’s not a true Freddy movie in the strictest sense, at least it’s still “in universe” and that means a lot more to me than how scary it was or wasn’t for that matter.

The movie pretty much ignores most of the sequels. The movie gets into the backstory of the character a little bit, which I enjoy, and of course pits Freddy against everyone’s favorite hockey masked slasher killer.

Fun Fact: This movie was supposed to feature Pinhead from Hellraiser but they couldn’t get the rights.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5

A part of me wants to always pick this one as the special place it holds as the very first Nightmare on Elm Street movie I ever watched. The first time I saw it I had no idea what the mythology was or backstory I just jumped right in and was hooked right away.

The movie follows the survivors of the previous films, as they often do, trying to get on with their lives. As is also often the case, the teens in this movie must all be new transfers who had no knowledge of their peers killed in the last movie, because they all take quite a bit of convincing Freddy is thing, let alone them not even knowing about the legend? When I as a kid I never pieced that together but today it’s a glaring flaw in the film series. At least with the Friday the 13th films the teens are all aware of Camp Blood. They just ignore it to get their freak on.

Fun Fact: This movie features a comic book “Super Freddy” sequence that I thought was cool as a kid.

Bonus Fun Fact: The VHS release of this movie featured a “rapping” Freddy music video.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 6

I am sure there are going to be those out here who call me every name in the book for ranking this movie higher than dead last. For me, personally, this is not the worst movie in the series. Sure, it’s over the top with the comedy, not that scary and the 3D is terrible. However it actually gets a few things right that make it a notch above the bottom to, for me at least. First, Alice Friggin Copper plays Freddy’s step-father. The trip into Freddy’s mind revealing scenes from his past is by far the best part of the movie. The Looney Tunes version of Freddy isn’t as appealing as the MTV version of Freddy but I still enjoy this movie.

This movie takes place in the distant future where Freddy is down to his last teenager. He needs to send the kid out into the world to bring him some “fresh meat” which he does of course. The movie has some flaws but it was a lot of fun the first time around and I still get emotional when the credits roll with all those scenes from the previous movies taking me back in time.

Fun Fact: This movie makes a GREAT post-Wizard reference to The Power Glove.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2

I was tempted to rank this dead last, as it is my least favorite of the original franchise. However, I cannot stand how the New Nightmare ignores the previous movies mythology. That alone kills it for me. I never cared how “scary” it was or how “original” it supposedly was, all I cared about was how it was just breaking the rules and dismissing all those movies I fell in love with. Well, instead of spending all my time

The movie itself isn’t terrible, just dull, slow paced and less scary than most. It does help set up part 3 which is more than enough for me. It does break a lot of the rules, but can you blame it, being the first sequel there rules weren’t quite well established yet.

Fun Fact: This movie is treated more like a haunted house film than a free roaming dream demon the of the later movies. It’s also the first time the house becomes a set piece, later becoming a staple of the franchise.

Wes Cravens New Nightmare

I dislike this movie. I won’t get too much into why I just felt it disrespected the movies I enjoyed. I know some people like this movie and make outrageous claims like it’s one of the best or even the best by some accounts. I just don’t get it.

Fun Fact: This movie reunites stars from the original.

Check back for part 2: The Jason films.

Why we should celebrate Columbus Day

Today is Columbus Day. While some are trying to erase history others want to celebrate it. Despite all the good, and bad, things that came from Christopher Columbus setting sail all those centuries ago, we today should at least remember what he did accomplish.

Columbus Day, like most holidays, is not steeped in historical fact, it’s about the myth. All those people running around dispelling the myth are missing the point. We know the TRUTH of the historical figure, history isn’t dead (as long as you leave it alone and stop trying to erase it) rather the truth is it’s just like Easter, Christmas, or even the 4th of July, we celebrate the myth, the legend, the story, not the man or the men who lived hundreds of years ago.

Every year on February 14th people who are in relationships buy cards, chocolates and flowers for their significant other. None of them are Roman citizens performing marriages ceremonies despite the law forbidding it. Most people don’t even know, or care, the historical truth behind Valentines Day, nor should they. We celebrate it as a day of LOVE, that is all. All of the symbols, the gifts, the rituals; these are just ways to show the people we love how important they are to us.

On Halloween kids dress up in costumes begging for candy. I am certain more than the VAST majority of them are not doing so to “ward off evil spirits” or to celebrate the dead in any way, shape or form. Most also don’t even believe in ghosts or spiritual forces yet they participate in the activities and celebrate the MYTH, or the idea of Halloween, not the actual “true meaning” or whatever that nonsense is. Same for Christmas, how many parents tell their kids to be good or else Santa Claus won’t bring them any presents? Now how many of them actually believe there is a magical elf king enslaving little elves forcing them to make toys for him. Oh, shoot, we celebrate the subjugation of elves if we celebrate Christmas. Darn it.

Looks like people just need to get over themselves and learn that Columbus Day celebrates the sense of DISCOVERY. It’s not about the actual truth or the consequences of those voyages, it’s just another way for us to wrap up an IDEA, in this case discovery, wonder, and exploration, around a semi-historical tale loosely based on real facts. Nobody cares that when we celebrate Christmas we don’t actually celebrate the Birth of Jesus at a historically accurate time of the year, or that we don’t remember the historical Saint Nicolas figure. Nor do we actually believe there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow with a little green leprechaun waiting to greet us on St. Patrick’s Day.

Why is it okay to ignore history on literally every single holiday, except Columbus Day? I for one think you should have your kids make little paper renditions of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. Tell them them the story, not the history but the STORY of the man who “discovered America” in a way that lets them know, it’s just a story, we exaggerate it because it’s another day to put aside our worries and just forget try to remember what it was like to be a kid exploring the world around you. Don’t take that sense of discovery, wonder, and curiosity away from your children. Not if you want them to actually grow up to become educated adults who question the world around them. Teach your kids the MUTH of Columbus Day and let them learn the real history when they go off to college and have to leave childhood behind. For now, just let them be kids.

Exploring digital music stores

I have reached a point in my music collecting that I need to explore other options. I like buying CD’s because they offer me a physical thing I can put on a shelf while also giving me the ability to rip the tracks to my hard drive and then move them to my iPod. The problem is, CD’s are not getting any cheaper for some reason. I buy from Amazon and even though I have Prime, it still ends up costing 7-10 per CD. I was buying them for $2 to $3 each brand new unopened or $.99 used from Hastings. Sadly, Hastings is no longer in business. There doesn’t seem to be any other new or used CD retailers near by so I have turned to the internet. I was hoping I would find some cheap alternative to Amazon but it doesn’t appear to be the case. Now I am exploring digital options.

First, I am NOT anti or pro digital. I have always been for whichever options is cheapest while being the most consumer friendly. My primary reasons for sticking to CD’s has always been cost. When I can get a CD for under $5 even if I only like 2-3 songs, it’s worth it because I value the packaging and artwork, the physical item, at least $1 value so I tend to figure that’s a good price. It’s not like in the 90’s and early 2000’s when I was spending $12 to $15 for a CD just for 2-3 songs, if that. Cost value has always been a factor. I purchase music from iTunes a lot but based on cost alone. For instance, if I know for a fact I only want literally 1 songs from a certain CD and it’s not worth the space having a physical copy would add to the clutter, then I pick up the song from iTunes for the $.99 or $1.29 they tend to be. However, if I know I want all of or a majority of songs, for example Doggystyle by Snoop Dogg, I wanted the whole record, so I was not going to spend the $9.99 on a digital copy when I would prefer a physical copy with the fold out pamphlet. This is another reason why just having a single JPEG for the album art sucks, you just get the superficial cover, you don’t get the actual contents of the booklets.

I realized there had to be a better option. I shot down Amazon digital because the selection sucks. Sometimes they have a “CD” I want and sometimes they just have selections from the artists library. I have come across HUNDREDS of songs or albums they do not have. iTunes has a similar shortcoming so in those instances I tend to look for the actual CD. I tried Pandora but I hate Pandora. I even tried the paid option for a period and it wasn’t any better. I learned Pandora is designed to help you “discover” music. I am 35, I discovered all the music I like when I was a teenager now I just want to build up my collection so I can have music to listen to when I am in the right mood.

Then I tried Spotify. At first it seemed like the perfect option. I could add ENTIRE albums to my playlist, if I paid a monthly fee I could turn off ads, and the player wasn’t terrible to navigate. The first shortcoming I noticed, however, was like Amazon and iTunes they are limited to licenses. This means sometimes they have the ORIGINAL recordings by the original artists, and other times they have those disgusting “Remastered” copies. It’s never clear if a remastered edition refers to them cleaning up the original audio recording tapes from before digital like they did in the 90’s, or this new, very disgusting trend where old men attempt to re-record songs in their twilight years hoping they will sound the same as when they were young men. Trust me I have compared plenty of original recordings to the remastered versions and I can ALWAYS tell the difference. Something  is always off. Maybe the drummer gets tired and starts to slow down, maybe they are using a different drum kit than before, sometimes the guitarists tunes his guitar different or the singer just can’t hit the high notes like he could when he was young. Sometimes it’s noticeable but not too terrible and other times it literally sounds like a damn cover band. I hate that.

Also, they always add new tracks, usually “studio sessions” or demo crap I am not interested in. I want the ORIGINAL album just like it was when it was originally released. The whole point in buying CD’s or records even if you go that far, is to have a tangible item from your actual past. Not some replica. I don’t want reproduction NES carts and I don’t want artists re-recording their songs and selling replicas of their real works.

I have also run into the issue of rights. Sometimes Spotify only has the rights to a selection of songs from an artists not their entire works. This isn’t a problem for mainstream artists but when looking for tracks by techno DJ’s from the 80’s or those quirky low-selling alternative bands from the 90’s suddenly it becomes an issue. To make matters even worse, sometimes they don’t even have full soundtrack albums just a user created playlist containing the closest example of the songs from that soundtrack. I couldn’t even find a single recording of Techno Syndrome by the Immortals, the THEME song to Mortal Kombat. It wasn’t available on any of the digital stores, not even Pandora or Amazon. Nothing. Now I already have the complete line of CD’s, including More Kombat which is just a few bonus songs, but still if someone wasn’t aware of that shortcoming they wouldn’t be able to “discover” that song because it doesn’t exist as far as the digital stores are concerned.

All things considered I realized that buying digital is not the best way to go even still in late 2017. By now you would think they would have everything digital but its like streaming movies services, somehow less is more is their philosophy and its just frustrating as a consumer. I guess I will just stick to buying CD’s for the most part resorting to digital only when it’s necessary to acquire the one or two obscure songs from a particular artists, assuming iTunes or Amazon even has the song I want. I couldn’t find a single store that had Beautiful by Joydrop. I don’t want to spend the outrageous price they want for a copy of the CD for just 1 song so I either have to do without or settle for streaming from YouTube. That is, until YouTube decides to take the video down, again.