Dreaming of some good Mash Up movies: Versus, team-up and cross over films that might be interesting to see just for fun

Over the years there have been a lot of cross overs done in comic books, video games and to a lesser extent, films. Now that the comic book multiverse concept has firmly taken Hollywood by storm here is a list of completely fantastic team-up, cross over and versus films that would be fun to see. This is just for fun so there are no rules, rights issues, budget, mixing genres, etc., none of that will be taken into consideration.

1. Spider-Man vs. Wolverine

This one has been done in the comics before. It could be a team-up or it could be a straight brawl to the death, either way it would be lots of fun to put these two anti-heroes together on screen as opposites.

2. Beetlejuice meets Scooby Doo

Imagine a movie where Tim Burton directs an all CGI world with  a mix of live-action and computer characters. The plot would basically turn out that Scooby and his companions find themselves facing an actual ghost. It would be a total over-the-top comedy of course.

3. GI JOE and Transformers

Hasbro and Paramount had a missed opportunity to put the GI Joe and Transformers characters into the same universe. With reboots all the rage in Hollywood it would be really cool to see them reboot both the GI Joe film franchise and the Transformers with them teaming up to take on Unicron.

4. Mega Man and Castlevania

It would probably be best as CGI but it would work as cell animated. Live action would be harder to pull off. It would have a Belmont team-up with Mega Man in a weird alternate universe where the robot masters are all horror movie themed and the locations are set in Castlevania. This might make for a better video game than movie but whatever it needs to happen anyways.

5. Pinhead vs. Chucky

These two don’t really exist in the same universe but it could work. Pinhead and his goons all wind up terrorizing Chucky who stumbles upon the puzzle cube believing it could finally set him free from his doll body. He ends up defeating the cenobites because they learn since he is made of plastic their torture methods don’t work on him. In a weird way he would actually be the hero of the film.

6. Ghostbusters v.s Gremlins

This one would have to be animated with a retro throwback style of the Real Ghostbusters cartoon. The Gremlins could be CGI but I suspect it would work best if everything was animated. It would blend horror and comedy with the Ghostbusters trying to find a scientific explanation for the Gremlin problem while looking for a solution. It would put them out of their wheel house as they fight a physical monster their proton packs would be useless against. It totally has to be holiday themed, probably Valentines Day or Groundhog day just for the hell of it.

7. Marvel vs. DC the movie

This absolutely absurd idea somehow worked in the 90’s with a comic book crossover that shook up the entire comic book fandom. With Marvel making so much money from their ventures for Disney they could easily strike some sort of deal where they step in and “save” the failing DC film universe by bringing everything together for an epic 3-film blockbuster record breaking behemoth. This one actually needs to happen one way or another, somebody make it so.

8. The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers meets Sailor Moon

It needs to be live-action with Japanese characters for the Sailor Moon side and Americans based on MMPR Season 1, or you know those kids from the recent reboot. I imagine it would start out with the two sides as enemies then teaming up as the monster shows its face and they do what they do best. It should have a totally 80’s metal glam rock soundtrack too.

9. Smash Bros: The Movie

This one is a piece of cake. It needs to be CGI. It needs to be PG-13. It needs to have voice actors from the entire video game and comic book spectrum. It just needs to happen A.S.A.F.P. ‘Nuff Said.

10. Monster Mash

This would basically be a full reboot of Monster Squad but with a hard R rating, and feature not the Universal Monsters but Chucky, Jason, Freddy, Pinhead, Letherface and Michael Myers as the monsters. It would follow a similar structure to the original but would need to have teenagers instead of pre-teens.

Whether any of these actually happen or not, these would all be completely entertaining films to watch.

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.

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 12

In this special episode I have a guest help me keep things going. My computer programmer friend from Idaho called into be on the show.

We talked about video games, PAX, Nintendo, Xbox, Sega, and a lot more.

The Science Fiction Paradox: Why Physics is not for everyone…

Niayesh Afshordi. Who is he? Well based on preliminary research he is a scientist who recently, well in 2014 that is, published a new theory of the origins of the Universe. I won’t get into the math, science, or physics of what he is proposing because frankly, I couldn’t explain it if I wanted to. What I want to do, rather, is use it as a way to contemplate some of the other mysteries of the Universe based on my current understanding. At least from a simple, lesser educated stand point.

When I first sat out to be a writer my goal was to write fiction stories. Originally I desperately wanted to write science fiction. I spent my early childhood reading books by Isaac Asimov, Isaac Newton, even Stephen Hawking. I was obsessed with astronomy for a good portion of my childhood. So much so that it fueled my other interests. I became interested in Star Wars primarily because of the space travel aspect. In fact all of my favorite episodes of the Transformers cartoon were not the ones on Earth but all of the ones that took place either on Cybertron or elsewhere in the universe in “outerspace.” I didn’t develop a purely academic interest in astronomy, physics or astrophysics, mostly because of all the damn complicated math. I make it no secret I hate math. So my interest remained mostly casual. Thanks, in part, to TV shows like Doctor Who, The Big Bang Theory and Star Trek, I have continued to explore my interest in these subjects.

That is where this particular scientist comes into play. The purpose of this blog is “To Organize Chaos” and that includes trying to unravel the mysteries that I come across. In other words, its my way of making sense of the world around me. That includes the world of physics, something I have a basic understanding of and a strong passion for but nowhere near the level of understanding I would prefer.

The theory Niayesh Afshordi and his colleagues proposed was mind boggling at first. It basically suggests that our universe originated with the ball of mass that exploded began expanding outward to create all the matter we see around us, this we all know the gist of it’s the Big Bang Theory (the scientific theory not the TV show). The interesting thing this guy and his team proposed was that OUR universe began when a 4 Dimensional star collapsed into a black hole creating a 3 Dimensional Event Horizon. The theory is interesting because in our universe the world we see around us is considered to exist in 3 dimensions and space-time is considered to be  continuum. Some of us have a very, very, basic understanding of this thanks to Doc Brown from the Back to the Future movies. However it gets more complicated than that. Fortunately I did take at least one physics class in college, the absolutely most fun and interesting course I took my entire college career. So to some extent I can kind of understand the basics of the 3 dimensional space-time, special relativity, and I know a little about what an event horizon is more than just the very basics you get from watching the film of the same name, or the movie Sphere if you want a little better scientific explanation.

Here is the tricky part. It doesn’t really explain anything. I mean not to the layman. Actually not to anyone other than a scientist really. You see, the basic question the theory proposes to explain is how our space-time could work within the framework of our own laws of physics. IN other words, how could a singularity that contained all the mass of our universe be bound up into a single point so densely it could explode and create the universe we see. The simple answer is this, it doesn’t tell where the universe came from. In fact all it really does is makes it even more complicated. The simple explanation they propose is that our universe is just the left over crap from the dying star of a separate LARGER universe. Again this begs the question, if the laws of physics that govern our universe can only be explained if you place it within the scope of being a particle within a larger universe, then doesn’t that basically mean that 4 dimensional universe follows the same rules? SO does that mean THAT universe is the event horizon of a 5D collapsed star turning into a black hole? IF our universe began with the death of an older universe, where did that universe begin? IF the only way the math checks out is to keep staking older universes on top of each other then doesn’t that mean there is some fundamental flaw in the entire system to being with?

Sure, as a Christian I could just take the easy way out and say duh, it basically all points to God being the starting point and his words spoke it all into existence. That doesn’t really satisfy the scientist though, and it still leaves unanswered the question of where did God come from and all the crap he made the universe out of as well? That’s not a question I personally need answered. What I want to know is if every new theory requires the discarding of the old, while simultaneously keeping it all in tact due to a mathematical formula that was BASED on the Earth being the center of the universe, which has been disproved by using the very math it was used to prove, it gets complicated from here. I won’t get into Ptolemy or Newton, Google exists look it up, what I will say is if the math that is used to prove the Earth is NOT the center of the universe is predicated on it BEING the center of the universe and it also disproves the space-time conundrum that also exists because we still rely on that same math, which has been disproved by another proof using the same math it was used to prove, it goes in circles.

Now I must admit my understanding of the math is limited, but I do know if you have to keep adding new layers in order for the model to work, even though its using a proven false formula to begin with, that itself is used to disprove itself, GRR!

Maybe it would be best if I just did quote the Bible “In the Beginning God…” and walk away, it would be best. I won’t being to question the experts that know the math better than I do, just like for them to reconsider all the work they have to put into trying to ask a question that was answered thousands of years before they were born.

None of that is where I wanted to go with this. You see, getting back to my original paragraph, I set out to become a science fiction writer years ago. What deterred me over the years was my limited understanding of physics. I could go the lazy route and use the basic, preliminary approach so many writers use falling back on just letting a bunch of techno babble explain away any plot holes I created as a write. What I set out to do was to learn more than I currently understood. Sure I kind of remember what it means to be a main sequence star, the basics of what a pulsar, quasar, nova, black hole, galaxy, galaxy cluster, etc., is, and I kind of know the very basics of space travel, Newton’s laws, Ptolemy’s laws, the simplified version of relativity, and all the nonsense I learned from movies and comic books. To me, that’s not enough. I don’t believe I need to be an expert lawyer to write a crime drama, but if I want to do it well I would at least need to study the topic. Since I have no interest in writing crime dramas I have no need to study criminal law or criminal justice.

What I set out to do was to learn more than the basics. I picked up a bunch of books on physics, astronomy, the universe, stars, the Sun, etc., in the hopes I could at least fill in some of the knowledge gaps I have in the event I decide to actually set out to write the science fiction novel that has been swirling around in my brain since my youth. Then I realized I can’t get more than a few pages in before I become overwhelmed by the math. I always had a problem with how physicists always have to use complicated equations and formulas I can’t make sense of using symbols I have no clue what are the meanings so I bail early. I decided I needed to tackle this head on. So I set out to first fill in the gaps I have in the math department.

I picked up textbooks in basic Algebra, College Algebra, and fundamentals of mathematics, to supplement the math books I already had from college. I started with the most basic book and found that as I went through it I was actually starting to make some sense of some of it all. Not enough to consider it real progress but enough to keep going. I don’t have the time or money to take a bunch of math classes at college right now, so my plan is to settle for just going through these text books and trying to see if I can make some sense out of enough of it all to get to the next level. My ultimate goal is to tackle the Calculus head on so I can then dive into those physics books at least with enough of an understanding that the math doesn’t give me a headache and I give up, again.

Who knows, maybe as I go on this journey I will learn enough math to be able to get back into writing computer code. I also gave up on that because the math was too much for me. I had one college professor tell me my brain was just not wired for math. She said I was an artist, a dreamer, I was wired to be a writer, or a story-teller of some sorts. I had another professor, one in the psychology department tell me that was a bunch of crap and anyone could learn anything if they put the time into it. I think I fall into the latter category. I didn’t retain much due to not using it, but I studied the hell out of Japanese and learned enough to make small talk with a Japanese girl at a Mochi party planning event I attended while in college. Okay learning Japanese should be easier for someone who loves languages anyways, and video games, but still I am determined to push through this to the end. Then I will be able to re-watch episodes of the Big Bang Theory and laugh at the science jokes and not make fun of the nerds just struggling to live their lives as best they can.

A tribute to Code Red Mountain Dew

The year was 2001. I was sitting on a school bus heading down to Las Vegas for a high school track meet. My event, 800 meters and shot put. I wasn’t over weight at that time. I was fairly active, especially being into break dancing. But I loved my Mountain Dew soda drinks. My track coach always got onto me how bad it was to drink a soda before a run. I never listened. My teammates teased me saying with as much Mountain Dew as I drank my blood had to be green. Fortunately we never tested that theory.

As we were sitting at the first stop in Wells on our way down I went into the convenience store to grab me a soda as I did every stop. One of my friends pointed out to me there was a new Mountain Dew, a cherry flavored drink in a red bottle. I like cherry flavored drinks so I gave it a try. They were selling them 2 for $1. This was at a time when the normal price for one was $.79 cents so it was a bargain to get the extra one. I filled my gym bag full of as many as I could spending some of my food money on getting these sodas. I was hooked instantly.

From that day on I have pretty much drank the Code Red soda basically non-stop. How much do I drink? Enough that when a new store adds it to their line they quickly sell out. I have had grocery stores that didn’t carry it add it and it became a big seller. No I am not exaggerating, I buy about 3-4 12-packs of Code Red a week. On top of that I usually go through 2-3 20 Oz bottles a day. I drink so much, yes by now you are thinking this guy must be very unhealthy. Well no, not really. I am not as active as I used to be, but I get out and walk from time to time. I still break dance when I can. I even eat healthier than I used to. Also, I don’t drink alcohol or smoke, anything. I never have. So I always justified it as my one vice, if you can even call it that really.

In later years it got to the point where I would walk into a store, go to their soda section and if they didn’t have Code Red I would instantly walk out. The only time I would ever settle for a drink that wasn’t was if every store in town was sold out and I had no other choice. I would even order cherry mix at restaurants to add to my normal Mountain Dew, if they offered that as an option. The reality is, I became obsessed with drinking this drink.

I do, as an adult, understand the health risks. Therefore I don’t put any blame on society, my parents or the soda maker. I also certainly don’t blame the Government either. I quite enjoy living in a free society where *I* get to make that choice and nobody gets to tell me how to live my life. The problem is, I am getting a little bit older now. I am in my mid-30’s which means some of the things I could do when I was younger are now catching up with me. I have tried to get off the soda before, but I never can stay away for too long. I have tried tea, juice, energy drinks, even water. Nothing really tastes quite as good as a fresh, ice cold can of Code Red Mountain Dew. The only time I ever drink the green one anymore is if there is no other option. I still enjoy the green one too, but not nearly as much as the red one.

Yes, I have written about this before elsewhere, and I will probably write about it again. It’s one of those things I write about much like Nintendo or The Beastie Boys, it’s a big part of my life. It’s a defining characteristic of who I am. This isn’t even a confession. I drink Code Red Mountain Dew and you know what, I enjoy it. I will probably stop when I get to the point where one more drink will kill me and even then it might be the last thing I do before I die.

My philosophy has always been just enjoy your life and live it how you want. I don’t let people tell me I need to quite because it’s bad for me. I don’t always feel that great after I finish a soda, but I usually still crave another one not to long after. I am sure I would probably feel better if I could get off it entirely, but really why bother? I enjoy it, it’s something I like and I think the negatives don’t really outweigh the benefits, which include giving me some comfort at the end of a long day. Everyone has something in their life that identifies who they are or what type of person they want to be. I don’t drink Code Red, or Mountain Dew before that, because of some TV commercial. In fact I always hated the image it portrays and drank it in spite of the piss poor advertising. I never thought drinking Mountain Dew made you “cool”. Listen, I was a white rapper in a town full of non-Whites, I was about as far from cool as you are ever going to get. I drank it because of one reason, I liked the taste. That’s it. You don’t have to blame Pepsi or MTV or even Xbox. Hell I never even owned an Xbox until less than a year ago, any model.

I drink Code Red Mountain Dew and it’s green big brother because I enjoy it. It tastes good. I like the fizzy drink. And above all else, it’s just one of those little things in this life that helps me get through the day. Enjoy the things you enjoy in life. Tell the haters to go jump off a bridge with all the other sheep.

 

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.

The rise of digital content production

The world is in the midst of a digital revolution. For the past twenty years most popular forms of entertainment have been driven to digital distribution. Radio has been replaced by services such as Spotify or Pandora. Talk radio was given way to the Podcast. Newspapers and magazines are being replaced by Blogs. Even television and film has shifted from theatrical and broadcast distribution as the only method of delivery. The medium itself does not really matter. A well-written editorial piece published for a weblog shouldn’t be any different to the readers than if the same article were published in a print magazine. If digital distribution channels have begun to supersede traditional methods, why hasn’t the digital content producer become equal to the content producers who rely on more traditional, restrictive mediums?

There shouldn’t be any difference between a filmmaker, television producer or a YouTube content creator. At the end of the day, the content is all that matters, the distribution method is just that, a way to consume the content. The writer, photographer, and editor who producers a web series uses the same skills as a team of producers working on a television production all doing the same jobs. What YouTube creators specifically do is create digital content that is consumed using the internet. While a lot of content on YouTube could be considered social media to some extent, there is a host of quality content that itself could easily be mistaken for a medium budget television production.

High production values, good writing, quality editing, and compelling stories are all what makes for a good production. The end product could be streamed via YouTube, in the case of something like the Angry Video Game Nerd. However those same videos are also available for purchase on DVD (and Blu Ray in some cases) where they can be viewed on a more traditional screen in a more familiar setting. Sitting down with a DVD set of AVGN DVD’s, a bag of popcorn and your favorite soda should be no different than having the same experience with a run through of Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVD’s. The only difference is in the actual content itself. Even James Rolfe, the “Nerd” himself has stated his goal was to be a filmmaker. In fact he achieved that goal just a few years ago when he released his feature length theatrical debut in the form of “The Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie.” I had the opportunity to interview Rolfe during the production phase a few years ago for my college newspaper. Sadly the story wasn’t deemed “local” enough for the editors and it was canned. The point remains the same. Rolfe did not become a filmmaker the day his movie was released to audiences in limited theatrical runs. He was a filmmaker the first time he edited together a series of shots.

Visit FilmmakerIQ and take a trip back in time to look at the history of cinema. The earliest films were little more than just “animated photographs” in essence. They would become more complex over the years as audiences became more invested in the medium. Then Television, or the small screen, threatened the Hollywood system. Television production had it’s start in a similar way as movies. The earliest movies were just experiments. They didn’t become successful until filmmakers learned to create a narrative. Once they discovered to edit shots together they were able to adapt whole plays into motion pictures. Hence why we call the script of a film the screen play. Television got it’s beginnings in radio. The earliest TV stars were just radio performers standing on a stage doing their acts in front of a camera. Not much different than the earliest Angry Nerd videos, or even much of the content that is produced on YouTube these days if you get down to it.

Whether a content creator releases their product via television to audiences over FCC regulated airwaves, projected onto a silver screen in a large auditorium, or streamed over WiFi networks via YouTube, the point is the content is all that matters. Digital content producers deserve the same respect as filmmakers and television producers. In fact many deserve greater respect as they are often one-person shows. When a quality, professionally produced product can be written, shot, edited and dubbed by a single person, or a team of two in some cases, that’s even more impressive than a shoddy production using the best equipment and a team of professionally trained writers, editors, directors and photographers.

 

Saturday Morning Cartoon memories

It’s been a few years since the major networks ceased doing their Saturday Morning Cartoons blocks on TV. As a child in the 80’s and into the 90’s the whole ritual of getting up early on Saturday morning and being glued to the TV wasn’t just something we did, it was pretty much all we did.

Everyone has different memories of the Saturday Morning cartoons. For me it was often fighting my three sisters for control over what we watched next. Fortunately we did have 2 TV sets, although the smaller one was in black and white and was mostly used for video games, it still caused many fights that often ended with someone getting hurt. My oldest sister is 3 years my senior so she always wanted to watch stuff like Soul Train and in later years MTV. My immediately younger sister was barely a year and a half younger than I was so she typically had similar tastes in cartoons as I did, except she had this weird obsession with puppets so he gravitated towards stuff like Eureka’s Castle, Fraggle Rock and things of the like. I could get her into Pound Puppies, Snorks and Muppet Babies just fine, but she protested watching Super Mario Bros. Super Show, Transformers, G.I. Joe or even Scooby Doo. I never could figure out what she didn’t like about Scooby and friends. Then there was my baby sister. She had no say, all she wanted to watch was Rugrats and Nicktoons, didn’t matter what day of the week. When they moved Doug and Recess and all that Nickelodeon crap over to my network TV slots I sort of moved on and let her have it.

Of course not all the cartoons we watched aired first on Saturday mornings. Often times they were re-runs of syndicated shows and shows that ran earlier in the week. To that end we never really knew what we were going to get. My earliest memories were watching the Heroic Autobots battle the Evil Decepticons for control of the world’s energy sources. You could argue that watching this show about robots running out of energy contributed to my interest in alternative energy sources, but let’s not give too much credit to the animators of a Japanese cartoon. Save some of the blame for Captain Planet and his Planeteers that would come much later.

Another thing I liked to do during the week was record episodes of cartoons, commercials, and other shows that interested me and play them back on the weekend. I didn’t do this often but it was something I would dabble in. Normally I would end up erasing one of my sisters’ boy band concert videos so when they found out I taped over their boy crush for a bunch of random commercials and crap they would usually go ballistic. Most of my memories were fighting my sisters over what to watch more than enjoying the actual program. Because of this what we typically did was landed on one channel, watched it until commercials then flipped as fast as we could to the next and so on and so forth. This meant we were only getting bits and pieces of each show, but it was better than sitting through an entire episode of that lame New Kids on the Block cartoon that, in my opinion, never should have existed. Those brief moments in between when I got a glimpse of M.A.S.K., or C.O.P.S (why did so many cartoons back then use acronyms?), that’s when I would get excited.

I did eventually get crafty in my ability to turn my sisters on each other. I found ways to get the baby to play with her toys while I would get my younger sister and older sister fighting over a hair brush or article of clothing or something sisters cared about then I would sit on the floor way too close to the tube and claim it for my own. Once my parents would see I was firmly engrossed in a show if one of my sisters tried to change the channel they would get scolded with a firm “You weren’t even watching it, he was let him finish his show.” This strategy worked more often than not. I can’t be sure if they ever caught on because the oldest sister moved on to chasing boys and the youngest sister was easy to manipulate leaving the one opponent, the middle child. Even at the tender age of 8 I quickly learned how to negotiate with the middle child. I would usually agree let me watch this show and the next one and you can have it after that while I play Super Mario Bros. Since I tended to hog the Nintendo and always force my sister to be Luigi, it was easy for me to casually hint that she could play as Mario while I watched my shows. Then all I had to do was enjoy my programs while she romped through the Mushroom Kingdom with player 1 controller in hand for a change. This strategy didn’t always work as my parents were slow to increase our catalog of Nintendo games and my sister was quick to lose interest in the three games we did own for the longest time.

Manipulating my sisters was only half the battle. I also had to find crafty ways to get my parents out of the house in order to prolong the part where dad would kick me out of the house to play outside while he napped on the couch with the TV tuned to some fishing show or NASCAR or whatever else it was adults watched to fall asleep. Normally by the time the parents told us to play outside I would casually, sometimes sneakily, make my way into whichever side room had the video games and try to get in as many rounds of Atari or Nintendo as I could. We still had both systems well into the 90’s so this usually worked out until my parents just decided to give me my own TV set and I ended up winning the war for the TV after all was said and done.

For me it was mostly fought on Saturday mornings. Everyone remembers those blocks. I didn’t have much preference either. I would sit through an episode of the Alf or Teen Wolf cartoon, flip it over to an episode of Care Bears or even sit through an episode of Rainbow Brite if that’s what it took to keep the cartoons going and the old westerns my parents enjoyed off the TV. The battle continued Monday through Friday as I would get up at 5 in the morning, turn the TV to a minimum volume and sit through episodes of The Odd Couple, Perfect Strangers, Mork and Mindy, even Kate and Allie, just so I could stake my claim to the TV set before school.

I had a set list of shows I couldn’t miss. Transformers was TOP priority. It didn’t matter if it was Saturday morning, before school, after school or a random tape I rented from the video store, if there was a chance I could get my buddy Optimus Prime on the TV set I was going to do whatever it took. Priority number 2 was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I would also watch this regularly whenever it aired as well as rent tapes from the video store. Priority 3 was X-Men the Animated series. This came alter but once I discovered it this show became a must watch. Fortunately for me both of my younger sisters developed an equally strong interest in X-Men characters (they each also collected the comics and trading cards as did I) so it was much easier to get them to call a truce when that show came on. Then down the list the priority was, shows with robots, shows with magic, shows with mutants, shows with cute girls that had purple or pink hair (yeah I was weird sue me) then at the bottom of the list was shows with talking animals. This, of course, only applied to cartoons.

Live-action shows was much different. I prioritized shows with a cute girl I crushed on, Saved by the Bell it was Kelly, Sabrina the Teenage Witch/Clarissa Explains it All it was, you guessed, the awesome Melissa Joan Heart, and okay well there wasn’t a cute girl on Boy Meets World, I just found that show funny as hell. And in case you are wondering, it was the red head with glasses on any show that had a red head with glasses. Or any girl with glasses. For some reason I was into chicks with glasses… Okay moving on…

By the time the 90’s rolled around I was shifting into more live-action stuff like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Super Human Samurai Cyber Squad, and CGI animated shows like Reboot and Beast Wars. I only gave Beast Wars casually passing as I was a die-hard TRUKK NOT MONKEE type. Still I eventually came around and became more interested in that show. The 90’s also saw my tastes briefly shift to anime. I got into Sailor Moon, Ronin Warriors, Dragon Ball Z, The Slayers, Patlabor, and even Digimon for a while. By the time my anime watching friends were getting into Powerpuff Girls I had snapped out of it and the anime spell was broken. I haven’t hardly looked back either. I do remember though, the Saturday Anime block that came on the Sci-Fi channel. We didn’t have cable when we were very young, so we didn’t have the Sci-Fi channel (as it was called back then) until mid-95. By that time I was pretty much over the Saturday Morning cartoon craze.

Those are some of my memories, please comment your thoughts, memories and stories plus favorite cartoons from the 80s and 90s, anime excluded if you can.

Getting to know famed video game collector The Immortal John Hancock

When I started getting really into video games I went all in. At the height of my collection I had hundreds of games spanning dozens of consoles. I couldn’t begin to list all of the games I had, but I can tell you the systems I had games for. When I sold off my collection to help pay for college I had an Atari 2600, 5200, Sega Master System, NES, SNES, Genesis, Sega CD, 32X, Saturn, Dreamcast, PS1, PS2, N64, Game Cube, Game Boy, GBA, DS, DS Lite and even a Sega Nomad.
Well none of that amounts to much compared to a “super collector” that goes by the name: The Immortal John Hancock. A middle-aged family man, Hancock hosts a Youtube channel where he talks about his massive collection. How massive is his collection? For starters it was large enough to be featured in a January 2004 article in the Tips N Tricks magazine. Hancock’s collection consists of 26 complete sets. That is, he owns every single retail game released for 26 different systems. Still not impressed? The man has been collecting since the 1970’s.
How does a person find the time to collect all that stuff? It didn’t happen all at once.
“My mother was a collector. I used to go to flea markets with her as a kid. I began collecting carts, comics and figures. The collection evolved into games which I found much more satisfying.” he said.
His first game console he had as a kid was a Radio Shack TV scoreboard. He described it as basically a Pong clone.
As someone who also had a Radio Shack pong system myself as a kid, I find it refreshing to know many of us can still go back to our roots. In fact one of my only 2 true retro consoles remaining is a Sears Super Pong. My other retro console that sits in a box, a dusty old Intellivision 2 with Intellivoice Voice Synthesis Module. What’s interesting about Mr. Hancock is he started by seeking out unique Pong systems.
“I always have had a fondness for collecting pong consoles.  Mostly due to them being forgotten by others.  I just picked them up along the way due to being very affordable.” he said.
As a family man he enjoys sharing his collection with his wife and kids.
“My game collecting is something that I can share with my kids.  I always try to remember balance.   More strengthens my bond with my kids.” he said.
He also enjoys the support of his wife in his endeavor.
“My wife does not collect but she supports my hobby and I return the favor by not having it affect our relationship in a negative way.”
he added.
So what games do his kids enjoy? Well probably the same ones we all did when we were kids.
He said, “My kids love Nintendo and playing on games like Smash Bros or Mario Kart on the Wii U.  ARMS on the Switch is also a favorite.  Hard to say if they like video games the way I like them, but I can see them carrying on the mantle of at least playing video games with others.”
In recent years he has stated one of his goals is to some day see his games in a museum. Preservation has become more of a focus of his in the last 10 years. He is currently building a new game room onto his house to showcase his collection to his Youtube followers. His internet fame has begun to get him and his wife noticed. He said he gets noticed more at shows or conventions, and it hasn’t had any negative impact on his life to date.
A no regrets kind of guy, he has stated he doesn’t give much thought to his legacy after he is gone. He prefers to just do his best to be as good a person as he can.
“[I] ry to do my best as a human being whatever I do each and every day.   Teaching, talking, and interacting with others each day gives an opportunity to make a difference.” he said.
Speaking of teaching, aside from being a public figure on Youtube, he is also a school teacher. We all had that one school teacher that stood out for us. For me, when I was in grade school I had a teacher that would keep me after school to teach me BASIC programming on the classroom’s Apple II computer. At the end of the school year, I was able to demonstrate my programming ability to the class by showing off the program I had written. It was a monochrome bit map recreation of the Death Star from Star Wars. It was programmed line by line. It sort was sort of animated but not much. To me it was just really cool to have a teacher that recognized my potential outside of the classroom to give me that opportunity. Mr. Hancock has demonstrated that himself by using his video games to teach his students.
“I offer my kids experiences playing classic gaming at the end of the year. This last year my students got to play the original Oregon Trail.” he said.
He also shared he gives considerable thought to his students who has also impacted his own life.
His true goal is preservation. He wants to tell the story of gaming history and keep an objective outlook on the early days of video games. He shares his collection through his own channel, The Immortal John Hancock, and with his friend MetalJesusRocks, who helped launch his channel, and his friend Drunken Master Paul, also on Youtube, who helped give him the nickname that has become a part of his branding.
As I look back on the games I gave up in order to fund my college education I find solace knowing there are people out there that aren’t chasing down the rare games just to horde them, you have people like The Immortal John Hancock, and others, actively trying to preserve video game history. I can’t even begin to imaging ever building my collection back up to where it was so I can at least tell people about this interesting man whose videos often remind me of all the fun I had chasing down those rare video games. Maybe someday I will get back into it, for now I will gladly keep an eye on my subscription feed for a new video from The Immortal John Hancock. You can find John Hancock on Twitter and Facebook.