Ruling the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Now I’m just havin’ fun. Here’s another little stinger for another debut into the #Marvel Cinematic Universe. #Avengers4? #AvengersInfinityWar?


EXT. HELL

Like it says on the tin. Fire. Brimstone. And a large, demonic entity sits atop a throne of damned souls. It swallows the souls by the handful, like they’re candy. This Demon King doesn’t have a care in the world--any world, really. This is MEPHISTO.

It speaks to a SHAPE somewhere OFF-CAMERA.

MEPHISTO

Look, I’m going to shoot straight with you. You’re not the first person to come crying to me about their mommy, okay? And despite what you might have heard, or read, or seen in your stupid little movies--honestly, you guys never do manage to capture my unique charm. It’s always so cartoonish or...whatever it was Pacino was thinking. There’s no nuance. I don’t want your soul. That’s not yours to give. And I’ll have it soon enough anyway. No, I want that one thing--that one small, little thing--that means everything to you. And, well, I already do have your sweet, dear ol’ mother, don’t I? So, I’ll ask this instead. Just one itsy-bitsy thing.

It leans in close, menacingly. And it smiles. However It can possibly smiles, it does that.

MEPHISTO

Kneel.

The Shape speaks. His voice is strong, proud. It echoes across Hell itself.

SHAPE

No.

Mephisto CHOKES. He seriously can’t believe this. This NEVER happens.

MEPHISTO

What? No, this isn’t how it works. Look, it’s very simple. You cry, beg, and kneel. Okay? And then, maybe--just maybe--I will reward your humble offering by giving you back what you wish for most. Got it?

Silence.

And then...

SHAPE

I kneel before none.

Mephisto EXPLODES. His KINGDOM explodes around him.

The Shape stands his ground, unwavering.

MEPHISTO

How dare you?! Who are you to speak to Mephisto with such an insolent tone?

The Shape steps forward. His cloak flaps wildly in the heated winds of Mephisto’s rage. His armor, which covers his body from head-to-toe, glistens in the light of the blazes of Hell. This is no mere man. This is an invading KING. This is VICTOR VON DOOM.

DOOM

So speaks DOOM.

THE END.

Evolving the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Lot of people throwing in their two-cents on the perfect stinger for Avengers 4. Here’s mine.


EXT. PARADISE – DAY

We fade in on a beautiful lake surrounded by wilderness, strange beautiful flora and fauna, small, large, and monstrous. On the land, in the water, in the trees, and flying through the air. This is a SAVAGE LAND.

A little TOADIE of a man grovels at the mercy of...

A MAN

This is his MASTER, bathing in this beautiful paradise.

TOAD

Master.

MASTER

Toad, I’m clearly busy.

TOAD

But...but you asked me to let you know when it was over.

MASTER

And?

TOAD

It’s--it’s over, Sir. The humans are vulnerable without their...

He chokes on his next word. It disgusts him to phrase it in such a way.

TOAD (CONT’D)

...heroes.

Silence. And then...

TOAD

Shall I, uh...shall I gather your finest robe, Sir?

MASTER

That won’t be necessary.

The Master RISES, like a GOD born from the water. His wet, SILVER HAIR shimmers in the sun.

Toad looks on in awe at the majesty of it all.

TOAD

This is it, then. Your moment has finally come, Sir.

MASTER

No.

TOAD

No?

MASTER

This is not my moment, Toad. It never was.

He dries himself by guiding every drop, every molecule away from his bod with a thought. He dresses himself in royal garb with a gesture.

MASTER (CONT’D)

Our people.

A HELMET, simple but with some intrinsic design to it, gently travels through the air with only a thought. It settles atop the Master’s silver hair with ease. It was built just for him.

MASTER (CONT’D)

It has all been for the sake of our people.

Ah, now Toad understands. Sorta.

MASTER (CONT’D)

Every moment. Every hour. All for our people.

His master turns, displayed in full regalia. A leader. A king. MAGNETO is ready for his world debut.

MASTER (CONT’D)

Always.

THE END

And Scene.

The following is a one-scene, two-person play reflecting our current political climate. Enjoy.


INT. FBI HQ/OFFICE – DAY

A tired, annoyed, overworked, and nearly broken AGENT sits at her desk.

Her telephone RINGS.

She sighs, rolls her eyes, and then answers it.

AGENT

Hello, this is Agent--

A VOICE speaks to her on the other line--an all-too familiar one.

VOICE

Yeah, not important. This is Donald J.-- I mean, this is Donnie. Donnie...nevermind.

AGENT

Okay... what’s this about, “Donnie”?

DONNIE

Yeah, I’m calling about the million dollar reward for any evidence that leads to the capture of any Russian colluders. I’ve got evidence. Tons of it. Not that there is any collusion. But if there were--not that there is, but if there were--I’ve got all ya need.

AGENT

Uh, thank you? But we don’t have any sort of reward--

DONNIE

Look, don’t screw with me, Sweet Cheeks. I know stuff. Lots of stuff. You wouldn’t believe the sort of stuff I know. I watch a lot of TV, okay? You guys always have rewards for this sort of thing. I know it. Lots of people know it, okay?

AGENT

Okay...

DONNIE

Okay.

An uncomfortable silence.

AGENT

So...?

DONNIE

What’s that? Oh, right the collusion thing. Yeah, well, I know Michael Flynn lied to the FBI about colluding with Russia.

AGENT

And you know this how?

DONNIE

I was there. Right there. Saw him do it with my own eyes.

AGENT

You saw him do it.

DONNIE

That’s right.

Another silence.

DONNIE (CONT’D)

Hello? Sweetie, are you there?

The Agent is gobsmacked by the sheer stupidity of it all.

DONNIE

(to someone else off the phone)

No. No, I don’t think the line disconnected. She’s probably double-checking on the amount of that reward. Must be a lot. No, I’m telling you, she’s still gotta be on the line.

(beat)

What? Self-incrimi-what-now? No, this is an anonymous tip line.

(beat)

Uh-huh. How are they gonna send me a reward if I didn’t tell them--look, I gave them my first name, of course. I’m not a complete idiot. Okay? Look, I’m the goddamn President of the United--

AGENT

Donnie?

DONNIE

(still to someone else)

See? That’s her right now.

(to Agent)

Yes, Sweetie? You got that sweet, sweet cash from the F.B.I. for good ol’ D.J.T.?

AGENT

Sir, with all due respect, you’re a fucking idiot.

DONNIE

Yeah, I get that a lot. So, what about the money?

THE END.

The Measure of a Man

Ya know, Spider-Man will always be the superhero that I feel speaks the best to us as a people. The self-sacrificing hero, idealistic, flawed, guilt-ridden and self-doubting, but always ready and willing to fight the good fight.
 
Superman is a beautiful symbol, but a horrific failure as a character. He’s so perfect that he’s unbearably flawed. He has to be twisted in some fashion or presented in some cynical fashion for people to care.
 
Batman is a childish power fantasy. The one who always wins. The one plagued by the least tragedy, the least faults. He’s the smartest, the richest, the coolest, the darkest, the most varied in his presentation. He’s said to be human, but he’s more a superman than, well, Superman.
 
I think Iron Man, especially more modern interpretations–the movies and the comics, since at least the “Extremis” storyline from about a decade ago–is a more nuanced take on the rich genius dressing up and playing hero. He has an arc. He grows and falters and has to learn from his tragic mistakes and failures. He’s an ideal for how those with true great power–money, influence–must also act responsibly, namely for the betterment of others.
 
But I don’t think any character has been as frequently well-written, well-tested, and well-examined as Daredevil.
 
Matt Murdock isn’t a man haunted and motivated solely by some childhood trauma, though he certainly has plenty of that under his belt. He wasn’t even set on his path to be a hero until he was a grown man in law school. He wasn’t a child sent off into the wild to be a symbol of hope.
 
Instead, Matt Murdock wanted to be a beneficial, caring member of society by becoming a lawyer who helped those in need. He was a man who was once a boy who wanted to grow up to be a real hero, no different than those who grow up wanting to be a cop or a doctor or a firefighter.
 
Oddball powers aside, Matt is, at his core, a blind martial artist who fights all sorts of realistic and superpowered villains in a homemade Halloween costume–literally, as he stitched his costume together from pieces of his father’s old boxing gear.
 
He deals frequently with real-world issues. He gets hurt and scared. His relationships deal with his lies and lifestyle in realistic ways–they get scared and hurt and leave and die. People learn to *hate* Matt Murdock as a person. There are consequences to his actions (he was even disbarred in New York in a fairly recent story, once his identity was made fully public).
 
How often do you see–specifically in a mainstream, in-continuity superhero comic–the hero dealing with serious personal issues like depression?
 
Yeah, like Batman, Daredevil always wins. The villains always get what’s coming to them, at least for a time. But unlike such characters as Batman, Matt Murdock’s stories carry with them the weight of years and years of writer’s testing the character. The character himself has scars.
 
More importantly, the character doesn’t simply win “because he’s Daredevil.” He’s not going to win because he’s always the smartest man in the room, or has all the money in the world to have the most asinine amount of toys, gear, tech, and even a personal army of highly-trained, super savvy children. Even his victories often come at a cost, personal or otherwise.
 
Superman is an ideal. Batman is a fantasy. Spider-Man is the best of us. Iron Man is wish fulfillment.
 
But Daredevil is, at his core, just a man.
 
Yeah, he can fight. But he’s not the best in the world.
 
Yeah, he has some super powers. But he’s more an acrobatic detective as a result.
 
But he’s still a man. Selfish, guilt-ridden, worn and broken by the world. He has a day job that he actually needs to do. He has relationships that are unhealthy for a variety of reasons. He suffers from things like depression.
 
His heroics, his actions and behavior are elevated even more than his “peers” because of how human and flawed he is constantly shown to be.
 
He’s given up, given in. But he always finds it in him to fight again. It’s never just a given. It’s never shown to be easy.
 
He’s not truly a man without fear, or even a guy who has some vague ability or personality trait to overcome such things. He’s just a man who won’t let himself stay down, even when by all rights he’d be forgiven for doing so. He fights and earns the title of “The Man Without Fear” by acting even when he is completely and utterly afraid.
 
That’s beautiful writing. That’s phenomenal character work.
 
“The measure of a man is not in how he gets knocked to the mat, it is in how he gets up.”
 
Sometimes I feel that I act and go about my day because I think it’s the only thing there is to do. I’m tired, hurt, afraid all the time. I feel like I just carry that with me because there’s only one other option, which is to just lay down and die. But I don’t do that…because, “I don’t know.” I wish I did. But I don’t. At best, maybe it’s just more fear that keeps me from doing it. Sometimes it’s just pure resentment or rage, like I’m sticking it to the universe. Like it’s some stupid act of defiance by not just giving up.
 
I wish it was because I had the attitude that I won’t and can’t give up. At the very least, I wish I could see myself as a man who can get knocked down and get back up no matter what. That maybe I do live up to that notion.
 
I just see myself as a stubborn coward. But I want to be a man without fear.
 
Sometimes I think wanting that for myself is good enough. And maybe it is. It’s a comforting thought, at least.
 
I mean, I haven’t thrown in the towel just yet. Right?
Marvel’s “Daredevil” (Vol. 4, Issue #10)

Fun with Lasers – Ep. 1


In which I wreck some fools with the power of light itself!

#SymmetraCorps!

MUSIC

Pixelland Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

 


Download the latest bits and pieces from Steve on SoundCloud. Or stream the latest compilations of LtPA over on MixCloud!

Self-Inflicted Failure


The most fascinating bit of human behavior I observe on a regular basis is this:

People mistaking their current failings or lot in life as anything other than the inevitable result of their refusal to both make use of their talents and to grow as individuals.

Refusing to change. Refusing to grow. And these people are either somehow surprised that they’re in the same place they were five, ten years ago or quick to blame it on the world somehow being wrong.

Worse is when they deny they’ve also squandered privileges that others lack. Just because you’re both stupid *and* lazy doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. Much like your life, you’ve let it go to waste instead of capitalizing on it.

I mean, if these sort of moments were actually some sort of epiphany that would be great. It would have meaning. There would be the chance for change and growth.

But that’s not who these people are. They’re failed hacks who would rather bitch about being failed hacks than reflect on who and what they are and try to make things better.

And they’re failed hacks because they *choose* to be. Their failure isn’t from an utter dearth of talent or skill, or some lack of opportunity. It’s entirely due to them not making use of their talents, by not improving themselves and creating and earning new opportunities.

They have the arrogance to think it should just come to them and then complain about how the world doesn’t work that way.

And, really, if that isn’t some entitled, privileged bullshit right there, then what is?


Download the latest bits and pieces from Steve on SoundCloud. Or stream the latest compilations of LtPA over on MixCloud!

The Working Depression

People often seem a bit…curious as to why I have frequent struggles with anxiety and depression. I mean, aside from the fact that I’m naturally prone to such things.

And a notable part of it is the constant intentional and unintentional downplaying of how much work I actually do.

It’s incredibly disheartening when you receive so very little in the way of compliments or positive feedback on your work (or any feedback at all, really). It’s a constant head game where I’m questioning if what I’m doing is any good, if my efforts–despite having proven in various ways (including through monetary rewards) that I indeed have quality, notable skills and abilities. But I am constantly questioning if all my efforts are anything other than wasted energy and the production of garbage. Even worse, I constantly question those rare instances when I do receive a compliment. In my head, it translates to a well-meaning but otherwise hollow pleasantry. People just being polite rather than honest.

I already don’t like me. I don’t have much more than a vague sense that I’m a burden or an annoyance to those around me. That what I put into the world is noise. The incredibly rare compliment, like, share, or, yes, monetary reward of my work gives me hope that, somehow, someway, I’m at least entertaining people. That for some brief period of time whatever I’m doing is making people feel something they want to feel rather than all the bullshit they have to feel. And, as a result, maybe I’m not so benign or, more likely, unwanted.

As a general rule, I’m never outright happy. I don’t feel happiness the way I imagine some people do–perhaps as this lingering, pleasant feeling people can carry around with them (even if they don’t actively notice it until it’s suddenly not there).

When I do feel what I think is happiness, it’s fleeting. It’s an occasional sense of ease. It feels almost like that incredibly brief sensation someone might normally have when they get into a hot bath after a long day or a hard workout. That brief, almost instant feeling of relief as your muscles relax and all the tension and pain subsides. It’s not the actual alleviation of it, not for me. It’s just that singular instance of something washing over you. And then, it’s gone.

Sometimes I get that after a good movie, or reading a good story. Sometimes I even get it after I finish whatever bit of nonsense I’m working on at the moment–a post, a tweet, a movie review, a set.

But it’s always that brief, instant moment that washes over and away.

And, so, I work. A lot. I don’t really stop. I don’t sleep well, even with assistance. My mind doesn’t calm down enough often enough. My dreams are vivid, lucid. It can be a draining, exhausting experience for me to sleep on my worst days. Working helps. Talking, writing, whatever. So I do it constantly. I tweet. I post to Facebook. I constantly put down notes into a memo on my phone or tablet or laptop. I don’t just relax with video games, I stream. Everything has to be “work” for me.

And I have to do it every chance I get, otherwise I feel useless. This heavy, overpowering sense of guilt just piles up on me if I’m not working on something. At times, it’s like I’m standing at the bottom of a hill, watching this little snowball just barrel towards me as it increases in mass and speed until it inevitably just plows me right the fuck over. And, in my head, I think I deserve it.

Well, maybe if you were busy working you wouldn’t have been standing around and getting hit, dipshit.

So when all you do is work and guilt-trip yourself for somehow not working enough, it’s, at the very least, disheartening to see so little for it. Eventually you can’t help but get even deeper into your own head and drown in negative thoughts.

But it’s a whole other thing when, for whatever reason, you receive way more judgement. Not criticism, because I can do something with criticism. I can work with criticism. No, in this case I mean “judgment.”

Like when friends and family tell you, “You don’t even have a job.”

In the past two weeks alone–from October 1st through October 14th–I have written, produced, and published 14 video-based movie reviews in as many days. Each review requires that I spend an average of two hours watching and critiquing a feature film. Each video for each review then requires several hours of writing a review, compressing it into a two-to-five minute long script, recording that script, editing the audio from that recording, and then animating and editing it all together for a final video that I then have to upload, catalog, and promote across different platforms. And all without any assistance.

That’s been me–all day, every day–for just the past two weeks.

Now, in addition to all of that, I’ve also not only rewritten two-thirds of a thirty-page screenplay but also converted it into a script for an audio drama. I’ve written the first, rough draft of the first act of a screenplay for a feature (that’s roughly another twenty or so pages). I’ve performed several times. I’ve helped out a buddy at another show. I’ve been lucky to get more bookings during that time for shows that are coming up in the next two weeks. I’ve written more jokes and posts and more ideas. I’ve woken up–or cut myself off from falling into a deep sleep–just to write down notes for future stories and jokes and whatever. I’ve even managed to half-assedly produce and upload some nonsense for a completely experimental podcast/vlogcast/tubecast…thing I’ve been calling Laugh the Pain Away.

Yeah, a lot of my time is spent looking at a screen or wallowing in and actively exploring a murky swamp of thoughts nobody should ever be so unfortunate to find themselves in. I spend a lot of my time typing away at a keyboard or on a touchscreen. I spend a lot of my time watching and thinking and talking.

Yeah, I do that instead of working in an office for a steady paycheck that covers the rent on a lovely little apartment just down the street from a lovely Southern California beach.

Now, I used to do that. I used to have the office and the apartment and the steady paycheck. I used to do that sort of work. I used to be able to afford things. I used to be able to say that the frequent stress and adverse toll such a thing took on my physical and mental health were worth it.

And then it got to a point where I couldn’t say that. It got to the point where it nearly cost me my life.

So, I don’t do that no mo’. I don’t want to.

Thankfully I have a wife who doesn’t want that for me either. She wants me to have something better, something more.

(She also insists I relax more and just have fun with shit like video games instead of trying to turn it all into some sort of “work” for myself. She hasn’t been entirely successful on that front just yet.)

But I still have people in my life who, for whatever reason (intentionally and unintentionally) like to downplay the sheer amount of work I do. Because it doesn’t generate enough money for me. Because it’s not as steady as a job flipping burgers or tossing pizza. Because I don’t go to an office or some other place of business and have set shifts and a time-sheet to fill out (anymore). Because it’s not within a more professional part of this or that industry. Because I’m not taking center stage on the biggest stages.

I’m a lunatic attempting to make a little spot for himself on the outskirts of it all while I also desperately claw my way up and through a wall to be inside, even on the very edge of it all. Just to have more people to reach. More work to do. Just a few more of the very brief moments washing over me. Those moments where, for even a short while, I get to help other people to not feel the way I do almost ceaselessly. A few more paydays and some of those fleeting moments where I don’t feel like killing myself.

Other people often have the pleasure of going somewhere else, away from their personal problems. But I’ve turned my personal problems into work–my anxiety, depression, my fears, my nightmares. I don’t get to walk away from those things from 9-to-5. Instead, I’m the sick fuck running towards it–all day, every day.

I’m the sick fuck who, for him, this is the healthier alternative.

And I’m judged for it. My work and contributions are stripped of any value they might have.

You don’t have a job.

He’s a third wheel.

If every last one of my subscribers or followers on the various platforms where I published my bullshit contributed $1 to my Patreon (the only tier I even have, and intentionally so. Because I don’t want people to think I’d withhold my work from them because they’re not constantly shoving enough coins and bills into my little cup.) If they did that, I’d have enough money for a car payment. I could cover some serious bills. I couldn’t pay rent for that apartment near the beach–not even half. But that’s still around $300-$400 based off my current numbers across various, unrelated platforms and projects.

And I built that on my own, organically. I haven’t paid for a single ad. I haven’t boosted my posts or videos. I don’t have a bankable name or brand to leech off of. And it isn’t just family and friends and peers who casually follow me and my work. These are, by and large, total and utter strangers to me–strangers who have actively enjoyed my work, for whatever reason. My work has done that for me, just like how it once used to pay for that apartment. I did that.

But I don’t work. I don’t know what I’m saying or doing because I haven’t been doing it as much as others (and never will, because I’ll always be younger and less experienced than someone still living and active in this or that field). I’m just a tag-along. I’m not punching a clock and working in a cubicle or behind a register.

I’m just some jackass who watches movies, writes and publishes stupid shit online, and says silly shit in public. I’m always wrong because other people think they’re right, unless they happen to agree with me (and even then, it’s “tl;dr”). I’m always just off the mark unless it’s someone else making use of my work. I’m just a lazy, worthless piece of shit who isn’t good enough for…whatever, I guess.

And people genuinely seem confused by my anxiety, depression, and lack of self-worth.

Maybe they have a point.

YouTube and You


In which I welcome YouTubers to the entertainment industry, though with a friendly warning.

Patreon: www.patreon.com/amoralcrackpot
Twitter: www.twitter.com/amoralcrackpot
Website: amoralcrackpot.com


Download the latest bits and pieces from Steve on SoundCloud. Or stream the latest compilations of LtPA over on MixCloud!


I generally hate “YouTubers“. I don’t trust them. I don’t like them. I think far too many of the more notable ones are liars, manipulators, and thieves who have trained their fans to believe them at all costs. It’s a cult of personality, for sure.

But the most aggravating and prolific issue I’ve found with them is how they’ve convinced *each other* that they’re somehow special. That YouTube is some new world order of entertainment (brother!). How it’s them, the creators–these YouTubers–against YouTube itself, advertisers, and “traditional” media.
 
These idiots cry foul when their tired, hacky shit doesn’t earn them enough money. They sick their fans on YouTube until they get what they want. And their fans have a skewed and wholly incorrect idea of how marketing, sponsorships, and the entertainment industry work. And these YouTubers *want* it that way. They want ignorant fans who they can manipulate because that’s less competition and steady, loyal followers to keep their tired, hacky shit going another month when it’d never have made money otherwise.
 
So I’ve been trying to do my part to educate and inform those on /r/youtube who are confused and hold a lot of misplaced anger and frustration. They need to understand that what they think they’re attempting to do is no different than any other entertainer. And that they might not be up for this shit, because they expect fame and money to just appear–that they’re *entitled* to money just for producing and distributing even the laziest bullshit. And they buy into it because that’s what their favorite YouTubers imply or outright say.
 
And this is my recent response to one such person on reddit. And surprisingly enough, it’s been received in a fairly positive manner. No hate just yet (we’ll see if that changes).

Platforms like YouTube are only what you make of it.
 
Sponsors pay the bills. They provide the revenue stream to keep the lights on–not me, not you, and not Philip DeFranco. The sponsors are needed for the platform to exist at all. It’s why there are no real YouTube alternatives–it’s just way too expensive and way too easy to fail. If YouTube can barely make it work, why would Coke or any other major company invest sinking money into a guaranteed to fail venture?
 
The Adpocalypse was the inevitable result of YouTubers being given too much rope for too long. Eventually, they hung themselves (and the platform) with them. It wasn’t YouTube or the sponsors to blame. It was YouTubers with questionable content and their “communities” who brought this down on all of us.
 
People think cord cutting is this massive thing that’s happening and that YouTube is somehow the future–it isn’t. YouTube (and similar platforms) is the latest version of public access television. Only instead of a tiny local audience, we’re dealing with a potentially global one.
 
But that isn’t a bad thing. If anything, it’s a good thing. It’s easy enough to predict. You can figure out where and how you can grow an audience. You can manage generating revenue without the long, drawn-out process of drudging up your own sponsors to pay you to produce your shitty TV show.
 
You also have things like SEO and major search engines that fit you into algorithms that you can exploit to reach even more people, thus increasing your value in the eyes of sponsors. YouTube does all the heavy lifting on that side of the equation, thus leaving you free to focus specifically on programming and marketing.
 
That said, what people are realizing now is that much of the content they’ve been creating is, unfortunately, worthless. It’s not worth the servers they’re stored on. There’s only so much money and way too many people creating identical content that competes for a fairly limited audience–an audience with viewing habits and tastes that are changing at a much faster rate than ever before. These viewers chase the next big thing, and there’s a new one almost daily for them to turn to. It’s an incredibly competitive market.
 
Think about the usual content on YouTube, like all the vlogs, pop-culture news, and drama. None of that is evergreen. It lives and dies in hours, maybe days depending on how hot the topic is. These videos burn bright but then instantly go out. They generate a lot of revenue real quick before they’re making nothing ever again. Everyday these channels have to generate content that meet certain expectations simply to continue existing. Their audience can literally dry up overnight should a better alternative appear, one with a better schedule or personality or whatever. For any reason, at any time, everything can go away.
 
And it makes sense. The algorithms feed this behavior. It’s more profitable in the short term to chase after this sort of audience.
 
But it also blinds people to their need to expand beyond a singular project and platform. TV series get canceled all the time. Some don’t even make it a full season. Some last several seasons before they’re abruptly canceled. YouTube is no different. The money can and does dry up without warning. That’s how entertainment works. You’re supposed to be prepared for that. You’re supposed to line up new projects. You’re supposed to grow and expand and look towards other opportunities that the initial popularity and fame and money affords you.
 
A few questions every content creator has to ask themselves include (and listed here in no particular order):
 
1. Who is my target audience, and how large is it?
 
2. How can I compete for their attention and retain a notable number of these potential viewers?
 
3. What are the risks involved with this sort of audience and programming? (Is the audience finicky? Is there a lot of competition?)
 
4. What sort of merchandise options are there to generate additional revenue?
 
5. How long will anything I produce be of value to my audience, both new and old?
 
6. What will I do once I see diminishing returns?
 
Entertainment is not an easy business. It’s not the most lucrative business across the board. But it can be a manageable one that provides a decent living for the many who figure out how things work and can make it work for them.
 
People really need to have an honest conversation with themselves about whether or not their content is actually viable, both in the short and long term. Because most are going to realize that they don’t have much to offer. And that sucks. But that’s the reality of the world, not just entertainment. Not everyone is cut out to be a leading man or a producer. Entertainment isn’t a business for everyone.
 
And if you do stick around but don’t like being beholden to corporate sponsors for all your income, then you need to figure out a way to turn every viewer into a potential revenue stream–merch, a patreon, whatever. Ad revenue should never, ever be your singular source of income. Actors at least know how much they’re making per episode or movie. At least some of their money is guaranteed thanks to contracts. But as an independent entertainer, you’re going to get stiffed every now and again. Your pay is going to be shit for a long time before it gets better (if it ever does). And even then, it can go right back to bad or even nonexistent should gigs dry up (and they often do)
 
You’ve got to pay your dues and build an audience that will support you for the long haul. Not everyone can do that. And a lot of YouTubers are finding that out the hard way because they’ve had it way too easy for way too long and weren’t prepared for reality to bite them in the ass. They’re not used to working in “entertainment”.
 
The entertainment industry loves rebels and flashes in the pan just as much as it loves predictable, safe investments. It’s a matter of what you’re willing to do for that job, for that paycheck. Will you play nice with sponsors and their expectations? Or will you go full punk rock, tell the sponsors to fuck off, and then do things your way with only your fledgling (likely nonexistent) fan base to lean on? Either one works. But in either case, you’ve got a lot of work to do to make it work.
 
Because whatever corner of arts, crafts, and entertainment you fall into–a comic, a pro wrestler, an actor, a painter, a writer, a YouTuber, whatever–you are not guaranteed anything for all your work. That’s the risk you take. You’re risking the steady pay of a 9-to-5 job against the opportunities in the field you would rather be in. And a lot of the time it simply does not pan out. And a lot of the times that happens, it’s because those people weren’t equipped for the struggles and pains of the business.
 
Comedian Marc Maron just did an AMA today on Reddit. Someone asked him about the opportunities for a college graduate with a desire to not work a typical 9-to-5.
 
“What unique advice would you have for a recent college grad English major who wants to avoid the mundane 9-5 day to day week at all costs?”
 
His answer was as simple as it was insightful:
 
“How do you feel about homelessness?”
 
I’ve been in one corner of the arts and entertainment industries for over a decade at this point. If not for my loving wife and some great friends I’ve made along the way, I wouldn’t have had the opportunities or the mental and emotional and spiritual willpower necessary to keep at it. I’ve made very good money with my writing. I’ve signed autographs. I’ve been paid to travel the country and work. I’ve been mentored by a literal billionaire business man. I’ve been praised by actors with real movie and TV and video game credits for my writing and vocal work. But I’ve also performed for almost no one. I do stand up in bars. I’ve had several concussions simply training for the chance to perform for an audience. I currently make just under a dollar a day for the work I publish on YouTube, though my audience is steadily growing. I write a lot of stuff that people apparently like but doesn’t get a lot of traction (and certainly makes me little to no money right now).
 
But I’ve seen over the years–through all of my twenties and now in my early 30s–that I can’t live doing anything else. I’ve tried it. Me and “work” don’t mix well. My wife doesn’t want to see me doing anything else. My friends–the few I’ve kept–want to see me excel at what I do, they’re there to guide me and help me (just as I am for them). But it’s real fucking hard. There’s a lot more painful moments than there are good ones. Certainly a lot more weeks without much in the way of a paycheck than with. But I know that. I’ve long accepted it as gospel. And because of that, I keep going and going until I earn that paycheck. Until my work pays off, even if it takes weeks or months.
 
But I’ve also proven–not just to myself but to others–that I have developed marketable enough talent to make it happen. I’m just lacking the audience right now to make a stable living. So, I have to keep at it. I have to grind and grind until I level up, one day, some day.
 
YouTube is a platform to jump off of. It’s a tool for you to use, not the end goal. Always stay a step ahead of the game. Develop your talents, exploit them to the cultivate a loyal audience. Do all you can think of to create as many opportunities to grow and generate income from your work and talents. But, above all else, do not fall into being a “YouTuber”. You’re just a talented mofo using YouTube to further build your brand, same as you would something like Facebook or Twitter.

Bust-A-Move (SNES): World Record(ish)


PLAY THE PAIN AWAY

So here’s my current personal best for Bust-A-Move for the SNES (5,775,460). My goal was to break 4,165,910, which is the #3 Slot via Twin Galaxies. That would mean this run would technically get me that #3 slot.

So…

Woo! Bronze Medal! Third-Best in the World!

MUSIC

Itty Bitty 8 Bit Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/


Download the latest bits and pieces from Steve on SoundCloud. Or stream the latest compilations of LtPA over on MixCloud!

Missed Connections – Ep. 3


Steve performs a romantic reading of a post from Craigslist’s Missed Connections, because true love comes in all shapes, sizes, and shades of creepy.

On this episode, we hear from a man infatuated with a particular blonde at a particular sandwich shop.

There is Romance Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0


Download the latest bits and pieces from Steve on SoundCloud. Or stream the latest compilations of LtPA over on MixCloud!

Missed Connections – Ep. 2


Steve performs a romantic reading of a post from Craigslist’s Missed Connections, because true love comes in all shapes, sizes, and shades of creepy.

On this episode, a man yearns for a woman with bow-legged kids.

There is Romance Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/


Download the latest bits and pieces from Steve on SoundCloud. Or stream the latest compilations of LtPA over on MixCloud!

That Guy, That Word


In which Steve and Adena talk about that guy and that word.

MUSIC:
“Beach Bum” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/


Download the latest bits and pieces from Steve on SoundCloud. Or stream the latest compilations of LtPA over on MixCloud!

Drooling Child


In which Steve talks about a drooling child and Adena’s suspect taste in men.

MUSIC:
“Beach Bum” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/


Download the latest bits and pieces from Steve on SoundCloud. Or stream the latest compilations of LtPA over on MixCloud!

I Need to Confess

So I think this is as good a time as any to share this. And it’s something that I really had to weigh the pros and cons of, ya know. I might lose a lot of friends because of my opinions, And I’d hate to lose loved ones over something like this. But it’s important to me. And I really think I can’t keep it to myself anymore.

Alright?

I don’t think I can trust anyone who buys a Subway Gift Card.

There, I said it. It’s out there now. No taking this one back.

I mean, seriously, who the fuck buys a Subway Gift Card? I mean, how much of a piece of shit do you have to be to go into a Subway and think to yourself, yeah, this’ll be a good gift for Alex. I like the guy, but I don’t like him that much, ya know? He’s got that…fuckin, hair thing, or whatever. I don’t know. You’re the one with the fuckin’ problem, not me.

Honestly, are these people laundering money via a sub-par but affordable sandwich franchise, or something?

For fuck’s sake, just give the poor sonofabitch a fiver and call it a day. At least then he doesn’t have to stand there like a jackass while the girl taking his order has to ask everything twice because she was too busy judging him about his poor life choices to hear him the first time.

This poor bastard. What sort of piece of shit must you be to have the sort of fucked up friends or family members or coworkers who would give you a gift card to this bastion of equally poor life choices?

Ya know, they don’t even have $5 foot-longs anymore. And when they did, they weren’t actually a foot long. They were off by like an–look it doesn’t matter.

The point is, I don’t fuckin’ like or trust any human being if they willingly purchase a Subway Gift Card. Okay? There’s clearly something off with them.

I mean, I’ll use the fuckin’ thing if I ever get one. I’m not gonna let it go to waste or nothin’. That’s a perfectly fine sandwich if you’re in the mood to delude yourself about your dietary habits. I know it’s not as good for me as they say, but it’s better than McDonalds. Technically. Depending on what you put on it.

Anywhere, here’s Tarzan Boy, from Baltimora.

 

Suck City, USA


In which Steve and Adena dare to speak ill of people, places, and things while eating pizza in Seal Beach, CA.

MUSIC:
“Beach Bum” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/



Download the latest bits and pieces from Steve on SoundCloud. Or stream the latest compilations of LtPA over on MixCloud!

Missed Connections – Ep. 1


Steve performs a romantic reading of a post from Craigslist’s Missed Connections, because true love comes in all shapes, sizes, and shades of creepy.

On this episode, a man yearns for an especially gassy beauty.

MUSIC:
There is Romance Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/


Download the latest bits and pieces from Steve on SoundCloud. Or stream the latest compilations of LtPA over on MixCloud!

Two Guys, One Van


Episode #1 – September 5, 2017

Steve hangs out in a van with Anthony Pulcini. They talk about a lot of things. It gets a little weird. And thanks to the magic of stereo audio, you can feel like you’re stuck in the middle of it all–a clown to the left of you, a joker to the right.

MUSIC:
“Beach Bum” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/


Download the latest bits and pieces from Steve on SoundCloud. Or stream the latest compilations of LtPA over on MixCloud!

Salmon Pink

Now that I got some of that #ThinkyStuff goin’:

I find it odd when people slap “Nazi” on white supremacists and other assorted racists and wackos.

Cuz Nazi implies an implicit association between the historical faction (?) and these nutjobs you see/read in the news everyday now–that the two are connected in some way, perhaps with the latter existing so as to continue the work and goals and ideals of the former. That if you are racist, you’re also exactly like those who were part of the historical Nazi party.

In other words: if you are a racist, then you are also a Nazi. You can never be a racist without *also* being a Nazi. It’s a bundled package. Products not sold separately.

And that just flies into the face of all the historically racist horseshit that goes all the way back to day-fuckin’-one. To the genocide we celebrate every year by eating a big fuckin’ bird. The raping, the murder, and the systematic destruction of an entire culture. The camps. The slaves. The slums.

And it wasn’t even just the reds, the browns, and the blacks. And as much as we generally love to fetishize their women, American is not historically fond of the people of…well, any Asian nation either.

No, because Americans love to hate them their assorted Europeans too! Remember learning in school about how Americans hated Italians before some jackass wrote a fluffy fan-fic biography about Christopher Columbus that mislabled him as the “discoverer” of America? (Remember how Columbus didn’t actually discover dick?) The Irish are still somewhat the butts of jokes. The Russians? The Romani? (Every hotel employee has at least *one* story about “gypsies”. Hell, Hollywood built itself on monster movies that featured an “old gypsy woman”…fuck, it’s a running joke in Archer!) Muslims. All of Africa (except the white ones).

Racism is the bedrock upon which this nation was founded and built. The Nazi’s weren’t around in 1492 or 1776. They weren’t a thing before the Civil War–or even the completion of the continental railroad. And America had no desire to fight Nazis until the final weeks of 1941, more than two years after the war started. In fact, a COMIC BOOK CHARACTER took a punch at Hitler before a flesh-and-blood American ever shot at one.

And even after we fought ’em, we were still arguing about civil rights. Shit, we’re still arguing about civil rights! We’re denying people the American Dream of discovering who they are and what they were meant to be and then becoming that person. (If a dude wants to be a chick, then that chick is a chick, man. If she got a dick, she’s still a chick. And we all know you fuckers are rubbin’ one out to those chicks with them dicks on your laptops at night. But it’s fine, ya ain’t queer cuz it’s still just a chick–she just happens to have a dick. It’s just lesbian porn but one of ’em has a real dick instead of a strap–look, it don’t mean nothing, okay? Fuck off, then!)

What the fuck was I talking about?

Oh, right. Nazis.

Labeling these new-day wackos all Nazis is to deny how very American they all are. These psychos are American born, raised, and made. They’re the taint–that darkness that’s existed since conception–a birth defect yet-to-be corrected–the clogged arteries of the American spirit given physical form. They’re simply waving dead flags of what we thought were dead ideals because everyone would get confused who was who if they were to fly the American one instead.

You want to know the difference between what should have stayed dead and buried and the America that persists? Because there’s more people who love the comedic wit and charm of The Three Stooges and Charlie Chaplin than who want to hate. There are more who love the characters that embody the light of the American Spirit like Superman and Captain America. More who love the dream that good always triumphs over evil. It’s in our books, our movies, or comics. More people love the face than the heel. More good than evil. The works of men and women who fought against these dark, twisted fragments of our very beings without every throwing so much as a single punch.

Superman helped take down the KKK decades ago. Cap threw that first punch at Hitler. The Stooges and Chaplin mocked the pop-culture shorthand for Evil–they exposed it for the cruel joke that it is. There’s way more people laughing at Nazis than there are Nazis to laugh at.

The difference between what needs to stay dead and what persists in America? We, as Americans, want nothing more than to be Superman and Captain America. We want to be the hero, not the villain. But we know that not every war is fought with fists or guns or bombs. Verbal castration keeps them from reproducing, it’s just a very long process.

Kinda like housebreaking a puppy. That puppy is going to have an accident every now and again. It’s going to spray piss and shit everywhere. It’ll bite and chew and wreck and destroy. But, given love and affection and understanding, that puppy will grow. They will learn. And while they never stop pissing and shitting, eventually it does learn there’s a time and place for that (apparently, that place currently includes the White House). It’s a natural part of a living organism. It’s called “waste” for a reason. Taking a good shit is awesome, yeah. But we don’t usually have a fondness for playing with it. It’s something we often wish we didn’t have to do ever again. And when it happens more than it should, it’s a concern.

What I think I’m getting here is that Trump, his lackeys, and anyone who gets off on hurting others in any way is a walking pile of shit masquerading as human. And there’s way more people who believe that than want to actually be a walking, talking turd.

No amount of punching has solved anything. The war to end all wars didn’t deliver. Love and laughter has done much more to fight hate and violence than the unfortunate, staggering, and frightening loss of life done in the name of doing so.

There was a recent story I came across, about a black man who spent his life befriending and reforming a large number of now-former KKK members. He guided damaged, confused men to becoming something better. How many of those just so much as claiming they want to “punch a Nazi” or, Morgan Freeman forbid, *kill* another person who happens to be a “Nazi”…how many of these people can claim to have done what that man did? How many people could they have actually helped if they weren’t so busy talking and bragging about how much they can hate? Combined, I guarantee he *still* has the better score–and by a wide margin.”

Despite the flags they’re waving and wearing, they’re still Americans. They’re still people.

Fists don’t fight ideals. They don’t fight language. They don’t fight symbols and rhetoric. They only fight and hurt other people.

As Bruce Lee succinctly put it, “Boards don’t hit back.”

How many people did Bruce Lee ever really fight? How many more did he touch and inspire without ever having to simply meet them?

How many more kids grew up believing in “Boards don’t hit back” or “With great power, there must also come great responsibility” than ever grew up wanting to harm another living person? How many more believe the voice of Marlon Brando when he told all of us, “They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you… my only son”?

I’ve grown so weary of people pretending like they want to fight and kill. I’m sick of people pretending that violence does anything but lead to more violence. Killing to more killing.

There doesn’t have to be anymore bloodshed or broken bones or crying mothers, wives, and husbands, and families. That has never solved anything. That darkness never dies. It just hides and licks its wounds. You can only beat it back and force it to heal for longer and longer periods of time. It’ll be around longer than any of us. It’s viral, not organic. It infects but isn’t one of us. It just has an imperative to multiply, and as a result it can destroy and kill what it touches.

So, in conclusion:

Something-something Superman. Yadda-yadda-Captain America. Turd people. And something about quit acting like you’re not at least occasionally looking at that sort of porn? I think that was it.

Don’t let the rallies and tiki torchers and assholes of all sorts distract you from the fact that in 1998, The Undertaker threw Mankind off Hell In A Cell, and plummeted 16 ft through an announcer’s table.”