It’s been awhile, sorry if anyone actually cares.
Life isn’t busy, but it’s picking up. I’ve honestly just been kind of lazy and biding my time. Earlier this year, I moved to the absolute Southeastern corner of Ohio. I can literally see West Virginia from here.
The big news is that I’m going back to school in a couple weeks. I decided to jump in on the Summer semester because I couldn’t take the boredom of waiting any longer. Really glad I did it. Ready to make some changes.
As of this moment, I am going to a local community college to get back into the whole school thing. It’s been a decade since I was last in school, and even then I was fucking awful at it. I’m a clever guy, but organized education was something I was never good at. Going to class, doing homework, and all that nonsense never seemed like it was worth the effort. Luckily, I destroy tests (just look at my ACTs if you doubt it, WHAT WHAT!), but unfortunately, that’s just not enough.
The plan is to get my general courses out of the way and then transfer to a traditional undergraduate program to get a degree in Electrical Engineering. Not sure if that’s exactly how it’s going to work out, but as of right now, it’s the plan. I’ve been watching a lot of videos by people like Ben Heck and I really like the idea of working with electronics. I feel it will allow me to be creative and use critical thinking, yet still hold down a job and actually have a real career. Bonus: it will give me a skill set perfect for working on pinball machines in my free time.
If you miss hearing from me… what the hell’s wrong with you? I have been doing a weekly podcast/webshow almost all year! I joined up with Mike and Ed to round out the hosting for Voice of the Republic. It’s basically a mashup between what used to be Voice of the Republic and Kneel Before Pod, only now we have video. Here’s one of my favorite episodes if you’re interested:
It’s an interview with Mystery Science Theater 3000’s Trace Beaulieu. He’s a super awesome guy.
Anyways, that’s all for now. Maybe as I get spinning up to speed for college, I will find myself more motivated and actually post and write more! Eh… who knows. I might end up just being super busy. We’ll find out in a couple weeks!
Sorry guys, it looks like I have the pro-wrestling bug again, so you’re going to see some wrestling related content coming from me for at least a week or two. I promise it’s not going to become a pro-wrestling blog, but… the heart wants what the heart wants.
I recently took the plunge on the WWE Network. There are multiple reasons why I am interested in this new endeavour. The first being the technilogical and business ends that I addressed previously. The second… I love pro-wrestling.
I’m not ashamed and I will say it again. I love pro-wrestling, and have loved it almost my entire life. Yes, I know the winners are pre-determined. Yes, I know that Isaac Yankem wasn’t a real dentist. I know that Ted Dibiase wasn’t really a millionaire. Here’s a spoiler for you… Robert Downey Jr isn’t really Tony Stark. Entertainment is entertainment, fictional or otherwise.
I grew up sneaking in the Million Dollar Man and Rowdy Roddy Piper. My family told me not to watch wrestling, so of course that was the first thing I sought out every time I got a moment of unsupervised television watching. The people were larger than life. It was usually good against evil. People betraying each other or uniting to fight adversity. Basic human drama that as a kid, totally blew my mind. I remember having to stifle my reaction to Shawn Michaels betraying Marty Jannetty, because even though I was almost ten years old, I still knew I would get in trouble if I was caught watching wrestling.
Time moved forwards, and like many fans, I tired of Hulkamania and the Saturday morning cartoons as I got older and I stopped watching. Then came The Monday Night Wars and the Attitude era! I was hooked again! I was a teenager and there was nothing like this before! The internet was barely a twinkle in Al Gore’s eye. I was titillated by the violence, the sex, the glamor! Oh, and special were the nights when I could catch a glimpse of ECW at some god awful hour on a regional sports network. This was a heady time of hormones and headlocks. Life was good.
But soon, WCW lost to WWE, and ECW just collapsed under its own ambition… and my attention was lost again as I concentrated my efforts into not completely my college degree. Sure, I would tune in for the Hardy Boyz, or The Rock and Sock connection… but by 2004, I was completely out of the wrestling habit again.
From time to time, I check back in on WWE or TNA… but it just never clicked. My passion for the sport continued though. I would watch documentaries via Netflix or DVDs I borrowed from friends. Watching so many of the matches I missed because they were ECW or because I never got to watch the Pay Per Views. Though I loved watching old tapes of Chris Jericho in WCW or Al Snow during his ECW Job Squad days, modern wrestling just didn’t have that charm.
I think John Cena seems like a great guy, and I’m sure he’s a wonderful person, but his skillset and gimmick combine to produce one of the most unlikable wrestler for me. Most mature themes have been stripped from the WWE brand, a move they openly admit to and one I can’t attack. They’ve found that filling arenas with kids that buy toys and Cena spinner belts is more profitable than trying to win me over.
BUT… to the point of this post.
You have now launched the WWE Network and have an entire 24/7 network’s worth of programing to fill. You’re off to a good start with the live pre-shows, syndicated shows, PPVs, NXT, and original programing. But it’s time for you to use this as a way to bring back your older fans while preparing for the inevitability that your current fanbase will grow up and out of your product. Last night you put on NXT Arrival, which from all the buzz I was able to take in, was very popular. So popular in fact, that it kind of destroyed your streaming service. Technical issues aside, it was a good show.Now this is the point where you ask yourself, why was it successful? First off, we have to concede that part of the attraction was the fact that it was the first real live event for the WWE Network. You did a good job promoting it, and people wanted to see how the service held up. That being said, that’s not why people kept watching the show. NXT Arrival was exactly what a lot of older fans like. The “arena” wrestling that has taken over the WWE is stripped away. NXT takes place in a smaller venue, the production is scaled down without losing much of the quality. Almost every single one of the major matches were spurred on by the idea of respect. Zayn vs Cesaro put up a match of the year candidate, again. The crowd ate it up and it was much different than a lot of the matches you see on Raw or Smackdown. There was a psychology to it. A deliberate pace. It was a very mature match from two “young” wrestlers. In truth, neither is young, but rather just new to the WWE. But neither one of these guys had an over the top gimmick, yet the audience was hooked. They didn’t need pyro, a catchy theme song, or a funny hand gesture that all the kids could do on the playground. They simply put on a good match that was built up by cutting some pretty basic promos.
So why not dedicate a weekly show to just this sort of wrestling match? Smaller venues with wrestlers that don’t quite make the arena cut. Everyone knows who I’m talking about. The CM Punks, the Daniel Bryans (though Bryan is completely over right now, defying the odds), or all the other countless wrestlers who are amazingly talented but never got a shot because they weren’t big enough. Weren’t flashy enough. Didn’t have a gimmick that sold toys. There is a market for these guys, but it’s a market that you currently don’t sell too. Basically, I’m telling you to sell to me.
Now I’m not going to pay $100 for ringside tickets. I’m not going to buy a lot of toys. I may buy a couple T-shirts and a video game every couple years. I’m not the big ticket whale of a customer, but I’m a customer. I’m the guy that’s willing to pay $10 a month just to watch ECW Barely Legal, Wrestlemania III, and Royal Rumble 1997. I’m the guy willing to pay $25 to get into a small venue to watch a wrestling show that doesn’t require a big screen for me to see the action.
What I’m suggesting is a smaller show, with a smaller budget and smarter execution. Cut out the unnecessary production stuff like the Titantron, pyrotechnic displays, and such. Keep production cost down, but keep the quality of wrestling high. Perhaps skew the content a little more towards the mature. Nothing too far over the top, but enough to clearly show that you’re not marketing to kids. You already have Smackdown, Raw, Main Event, and Superstars to market to kids. No, this brand is like dark chocolate: not as sweet, but richer. And whatever you do… don’t call it ECW. MY GOD IN HEAVEN… don’t ever, ever, ever, try to openly reproduce ECW. Because you’ll never be able to reproduce ECW. Anyways, ECW didn’t work out in the end.
Perhaps call it the AWA. Some people might think it’s the “minor league” of the WWE, but we’ll know better. We’ll know it’s a streamline promotion that is targeted to a more refined wrestling fan. Give the little Cena fans somewhere to go when they outgrow Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect, while giving me a weekly show I can look forward to.
So what do you say WWE? Can you give me a show I want to watch? A show my friends want to watch? The show we deserve? The ball’s in your court. I know you can do it!
Here’s a little something I started writing up Sunday night. No fancy graphics or much proofreading. Just some honest thoughts on the future of television, as influenced by pro-wrestling.
I’ve made no secret that I love pro-wrestling. When I was a child, I was strictly forbidden to watch pro-wrestling. So of course, as soon as I was left alone with a television the first thing I sought out was the exploits of The Million Dollar and Rowdy Roddy Piper. Now don’t mistake this for me saying I still watch wrestling. I occasionally tune into RAW or TNA to see what’s going on, but typically I can’t last a whole episode. Modern wrestling is a little flat and childish for my taste. Kind of like the Hulkamania era of the WWF without all the magic and energy of the times.
That’s why I’m so surprised that I’m about ready to drop $60 on a subscription to WWE’s new online service: WWE Network. Now to be fair, I am only interested in the literal thousands of hours of footage from the WWE library that is being offered on demand; including all the WCW and ECW pay-per-views. But none of this may matter to you, and I said in the title that this matters to you. And trust me, this new endeavor by the WWE does matter.
Whether you know it or like it, the WWE/WWF has been a pioneer in television broadcasting. They almost single handedly developed the pay-per-view special event market, they’ve pushed production values at live events, and the technology they’ve helped innovate has changed the way live television works. Twice a week, 13+ semi-trucks roll into a new city and put on a television production that makes most network broadcasters get wet in the pants. Their shows RAW and Smackdown are cutting edge. The WWE now continues their trend of pushing the limit with the WWE Network.
Here’s the nuts and bolts, then I’ll get to why it matters. Viewers will now be able to pay $10 a month, with a six month upfront commitment, to get nearly unlimited access to classic and original content from the WWE. Most importantly for current fans of the WWE, it includes live access to the monthly pay-per-views which typically run $50 or more. This content can be watched on the Xbox, the Playstation, Apple iOS devices, Android, *takes a breath*, Roku devices version 2 and higher, the Kindle Fire, and directly from your computer. So basically, for the price of a single PPV a wrestling fan can watch six events and then consider all the other stuff a bonus. Because on top of the typical wrestling content, the WWE plans to produce a ton of original content that ranges from reality shows where legendary wrestlers live in a house together to documentaries that chart the events of the ’90s Monday Night War between WCW and WWE. So basically… the WWE network is going to be just that, a television network specifically themed for pro-wrestling related content.
Now we get to the point where this is important. The WWE’s contract with NBC/Universal is coming up, and there has been a lot of talk that WWE’s flagship show RAW might move on. One of these rumors is that it might head to WWE Network. That would mean that one of the consistently best performing cable shows, and longest running episodic cable show, could be moving to direct distribution. If that’s the case, one of the largest independent television entertainment brands, could be completely bypassing cable. Offering their product directly to fans at a drastically discounted price. In response, Dish Network and DirecTV threatened to drop the WWE’s most recent PPV event. In this age of smartphones and streaming entertainment, television leader World Wrestling Entertainment was the first to realize “Hey… we might not need cable providers as much as they need us.”
This could lead us to a very slippery slope people. Now there are a portion of channels that are owned by cable and service providers simply to keep the illusion of value up, but the largest portion of the channels you likely watch are owned by one of five companies:
Disney – Disney Channel, ESPN, anything with ABC in the name, and A&E (which includes History and Lifetime).
Time Warner – (Despite the name, no longer affiliated with Time Warner Cable) HBO and the Turner channels (TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network, CNN, TMC, etc)
Viacom – MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Spike
New Corp – Anything with the word FOX in the name, FX, MyNetwork
AMC Networks – AMC, IFC, Sundance, We TV
AMC and Viacom have especially had a rocky relationship with service providers, with the former going almost a year without being on Dish Network in 2012 during their most recent dispute. Imagine if one of these companies realizes that they can offer you their channels at the price they sell them to cable company. I know many people would pay $10 a month for an HBO GO only subscription. I know plenty of people that would pay $5 a month to get the AMC networks. Timer Warner? I would pay $10 personally to have access to the Turner channels, especially Cartoon Network and its library of classic and original programing on demand via my computer or streaming device.
I think the most important question is “who will be the next to take the plunge.” If the WWE’s gambit pays off, it could pay off in a BIG way. I predict that AMC would be most likely to do it. Unlike the other companies, they have a smaller selection of channels and some flagship programs that are really defining this generation of television. With a library that contains shows like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Walking Dead, Hell on Wheels, and more, they could easily package an attractive service that would warrant a monthly subscription. They wouldn’t have to share that money with a service provider, and could then reinvest that into even more quality programing. They could also bypass FCC restrictions on content, something they have been on the fringe of for awhile now.
The prospect of “cutting the cable,” as people like to say, is becoming more of a reality every day for a majority of people. Everyone should be watching the performance of WWE Network. As the first major entertainment outlet to embrace digital distribution this fully, WWE may just change television again. Its success or failure could influence the future of television for decades to come.
If WWE Network succeeds, I predict that within ten years we will be paying less to stream the content we want directly to our homes. We will have greater control over the content that we receive, with an ability to bypass things we no longer want to see. Scheduling will slowly become a thing of the past. New episodes will no longer “premiere” at a set day and time, but rather be released on a set day to be viewed at the consumer’s leisure or entire blocks of a season will be released to enable “binge” watching which has become so popular among Netflix users. Syndication will become a thing of the past, and companies will focus more on building their on demand libraries. Channels as we know them will be gone, but replaced with familiar branding that will breakdown content into genres and tone related groups.
THE FUTURE IS NIGH! Prepare your streams, for television as we know it is dying!
A week or so ago Adam Sessler, who I legitimately respect a whole lot as a game journalist and reviewer, released a video outlining his “Best Games of 2013.” Here it is if you want to check it out:
In case you don’t want to watch the ten minute video, he basically picked a well rounded group of games that really pushed the industry forward in various ways. Except for Bioshock Infinite. That game was pants and I’m not sure why people loved it so much, but you know… people are going to have different opinions. These opinions are what make games great. If it wasn’t for different opinions all we would have is Call of Duty and Madden. Every year… all year…
Anyways, Adam picked a few games that are “indie.” Because of these choices, people went on to say he was a “hipster” and some even went as far to say he’s not a “gamer.” Because he chose a couple games that weren’t mainstream and didn’t require you to shoot, he started getting hell from “hardcore gamers.” It’s to the point that some people are saying that a game like “Gone Home” and “The Stanley Parable” aren’t games. Well if they’re not games, there are quite a few of us that completely got everything about gaming wrong.
In fact, I argue that these games are more of a game than a “Call of Duty” or “Assassin’s Creed.” Both of those franchises are rather linear, especially “Call of Duty.” I want to go on record as to saying “Call of Duty” is a point and click adventure game with all the fun bits removed. You point your gun at something, you click the trigger, and that something goes away. Repeat for about six hours and you’re left with nothing but an online experience where a bunch of teenagers and sexually frustrated adults scream at each other and compare kill:death ratios like it actually makes their dicks longer.
I won’t lie that I enjoy Penny Arcade. I mostly like the guys that create it. From what I’ve seen, it seems like most the people that work at the company are pretty cool too. Though I think I am able to separate my personal feelings when looking at an idea or a story, I’m sure some people will say my following comments are influenced by my feelings. They’re not, but there’s nothing I can say that will change anyone’s mind on that I’m sure. So let’s just get to it.
Documents were leaked that showed that all future Penny Arcade Expo events will have what is called “Roll for Diversity – Hub and Lounge.” Penny Arcade and those involved with the comic, both creators and fans, have been mostly painted as bigots by some people. Supporters of the rape culture. Intolerant of those with sexuality beyond hetero-sexuality. I think that’s grossly unfair. I am a part of the fanbase, and none of those things apply to me. I have stood up to bias, bigotry, and discrimination in my personal and professional life. And I mean I have actively stood up, as I believe your actions are the true measure of your convictions. So I want to say that all the people that speak of Penny Arcade fans as all being terrible people and intolerant, you’re honestly not being better than tiny minority of people that live up to your claims. I am personally offended.
When I saw that PAX was trending on twitter, I should have known better than to see why. Penny Arcade never trends when it’s something positive. The first thing I see is mentions of a diversity lounge. I think to myself, sounds hokey, but I should see what it is. I see that Polygon has a story about it, and since they tend to have level heads, I click on their story.
I read about PAX now having a dedicated area where groups that promote diversity and educate about the issues that some groups of fans face inside gaming can get free booth space so they can engage and educate convention attendees. The documents that leak outlines the following:
In an effort to continue to provide a safe and welcoming environment, PAX is introducing the Roll for Diversity Hub & Lounge. This space will exist as a resource for PAX attendees to find information related to issues surrounding women, LGBTQ, people of color, disabled people and mental health issues in gaming. The hub will also be a resource for industry professionals and fans to interface in a setting focused on diversity, receive diversity training, learn more about diversity and meet people from diverse communities.
Sounds like a great idea. There are some awesome groups that involve gender, orientation, and racial diversity inside the gaming community. It’s nice of PAX to offer free space inside an area dedicated to education and acceptance. I’m confused as to why this is trending and why I’m seeing people outraged over this. So instantly I think “I bet you some crazed fan said something awful, and now everyone is going crazy…”
I go back to twitter to investigate. For a moment I get more confused, then it hits me… people are upset with the idea itself. Somewhere in this whole mess, people somehow got the idea that having an area to find this education is a bad idea. Because apparently organization and collecting related content at a convention IS A BAD FUCKING IDEA. Because you know, they never put related content together at larger conventions.
Now I would understand if they were forcing every gay developer into a small room off the main floor, or if every media personality that wasn’t white was gathered up into their own little basement, but this lounge isn’t for your typical convention self-promotion. It’s a place where people are meant to easily find information from groups that are there to educate about diversity.
I then start to receive replies via twitter over my previously stated confusion. People saying that PAX is a “conference whose attendees have already made clear what they think of women, LGBT people, PoC, people with disabilities” and that it wouldn’t be a good place to try to educate people. Firstly, I think they’re wrong if they’re implying that PAX attendees as a whole are not accepting. I feel the exact opposite. I also disagree about it not being the place for such attempts at education. If you believe that this convention is filled with bigots, it seems like the perfect place to try to spread education and understanding… but… that wouldn’t help perpetuate this infinite PA hate machine.
It just seems that people are more interested in hating Penny Arcade, PAX, their creators, and their fans more than actually trying to talk about the very real issues that face the growing portion of this culture that falls outside of straight, white, male. It’s like they’re afraid that it will be successful and illustrate exactly how wrong they are.
It’s 5:30am, I should be sleeping since I have to be at work in about five hours… I should know better than to ever read anything on the internet…
So I just finished watching the first VGX, Spike TV’s rebranded and now online only video game awards show. I have to say, beyond all odds, I didn’t actually hate it. Well, I disliked it immensely, but in that fun “I love to hate it” sort of way. This is a vast improvement over Spike’s Video Game Awards, which I previously just hated outright.
Let’s just get it out of the way: Joel McHale. He will be the most divisive part of this show. Hands down. I think most the people watching didn’t appreciate his apathy and sometimes sheer disdain for the show he was hosting. As someone that has a negative opinion of Spike and its attached Gametrailers TV brand, I found it refreshing. He often called out the cameraman’s unnecessary bobbing and swaying, which one can only assume was a conscious creative decision to give the show an edgy look. He called out his co-host Geoff Keighley’s strange stage attire. Seriously, who wears four layers in LA when it’s over 70 degrees out?
These are questions I ask all the time when I watch these shows that are clearly aimed at someone that is not me. I am quickly approaching middle age and have played video games for nearly thirty years. I don’t need my presenters or game developers to look trendy. I don’t need things to look edgy or borrowed from MTV. Joel was my voice during this entire show and I was laughing out loud at times.
Also, he seemed to have moments where he proved to be a better journalist than most of the professionals out there. What’s your expected launch date? You can’t say? Bullshit. You can at least give us a general window. Hey Reggie, enough sucking your dick about Nintendo… what do you think about the two systems that everyone is actually buying this generation? Not to mention, he kind of seemed to have a better working knowledge of Game of Thrones than one of the two guys from Telltale Games, the people that are charged to make the new game.
The ironic part is whenever something on the show truly caught his attention (“Wait, only four of you are making this whole game?”), it instantly made the project seem 1000x more credible. Here you have this guy who clearly doesn’t care about what’s going on, but something comes up that is so interesting or impressive that it even gets his attention? It kind of makes an impression. It was also funny to see him call out Tim Schafer on being on drugs when coming up with his story ideas (self pimping, Tim actually favorited a tweet I made about this. Kind of made my night.), while impressed with the overall work of the project and the people involved.
Sure, Joel doesn’t seem to be a “gamer” and he openly seems to dislike most of us, but can you blame him? Call of Duty is a best selling game every year, that alone gives me reason not to take gamers seriously. For really guys, it’s the Madden of First Person Shooters. The sooner we can admit it, the sooner we can move on to games that actually push the craft forward.
But despite what the internet might lead you to believe, VGX wasn’t about Joel McHale. It was about video games. And for once, it actually felt like this was true. Where the VGAs often felt like some strange parody of games, gamers, and gaming culture, the lineup for the VGX was very similar to what G4tv used to do for E3. In fact, VGX felt almost more like a convention slash press event than an actual awards show. This is fine with me, as video game awards are usually poorly thought out and rarely go to games I feel deserve them.
While Joel could be a bit of a troll at times, the interviews, debuts, and demos were really informative. It was nice to not have some celebrity that may or may not be a gamer hamming it up to some crowd of people that is filled with either industry insiders or trendy looking young assholes. No gimmicks where they tried to make the video game characters come to life on stage for the viewers. And sadly, no wonderful and beautiful Claudia Black announcing -_-
However, though the show did lack Ms. Black, it had actual gameplay from upcoming games, talking to interesting indie developers, talking with established developers, multiple game announcements and much more! It was actually a decent show for gamers. Heck, even the musical performance at the end was very video game relevant. For those that might not have caught the show, it ended with a live performance of multiple licensed and original songs from the Grand Theft Auto V soundtrack.
Now some of you might be a little confused that you weren’t able to find the show live on Spike TV. Don’t worry, it wasn’t on television. This might sound like a bit of a downgrade going from a well known basic cable channel to being an online only streaming event, but you would be wrong. Not having to futz with the FCC means that you got to see gameplay in all its gory glory and hear songs with their original profanity laden lyrics intact. Not to mention it was streamable from just about every major gaming and video platform, which means it had the potential to actually reach more viewers than ever before. Steam, Playstation, and Xbox all featured the show’s stream on their services. Overall, I think it was a winning formula to reach the people that want to watch it the most.
Lastly, I want to talk about the hosting a bit more. The cynic in me loved Joel McHale. It was nice to have someone in the show that was a valve for my grumpiness, but he shouldn’t be back next year. And for that matter, I don’t think Geoff Keighley should be back either. Nothing against Geoff, I think he seems like a nice enough guy, but there has never been a point that I saw him on screen and didn’t think he was a corporate shill. Everything he says and does seems like it was voted on by a committee to make sure it wouldn’t be found offensive to anyone in the gaming industry. X-Play’s Adam Sessler (who can now be found on Revision 3 be tee dub) always had a way of retaining a sense of genuine non-bias while interviewing people. He might have feigned interest in a demonstration for a terrible game while they were on the stage with him, you always knew he would drop the axe on the developers when it was time to review the title next year. I’ve never felt this way about Geoff.
So next year, I say we bring in some people that don’t have to worry about being in the good graces of the publishers in order to get exclusives or review copies. I nominate:
Ash and Anthony Burch. In addition to having a wildly popular internet series about video games, one was a writer for Borderlands 2 and the other provided the voice for the amazing character Tiny Tina. These guys are in love with games and are charismatic. While they may be passionate about games, they also don’t blindly eat up shit just because it’s popular or made by an important company. They would bring natural character and credibility to next year’s VGX. I would also watch it multiple times, just like each episode of “Hey Ash Whatcha Playing?” Bonus points if they can bring their dad along.
I also nominate Ali Baker to be a correspondent, because fuck you. She’s awesome.
One thing I failed to mention in my previous post about pinball is that there is a competative aspect to it. There is a tour of tournaments that all lead up to the World Championship for PAPA (Professional and Amateur Pinball Association). It seems that for that past few years, these competitions are getting larger each time around. They are getting so popular that most PAPA tournament events are now streamed online via PAPA TV on Twitch.tv.
This competitive world is now being recognized outside the pinball community and was featured on the gaming website Polygon. I’m telling you people… pinball is a’coming.
At the time of this post, we’re just shy of $900. The funds are trickling in. There is still plenty of time to support TELM. Even if you can’t pledge money, spread the word.
Voice of the Republic
The new Voice of the Republic is live on Youtube. Not going to embed that one since it’s just over two hours long. Feel free to check it out at your leisure. I think you can tell that all of us are kind of getting the shit kicked out of us by life right now. It flirts with turning into a “Cranky Old Man Cast,” but there was some really interesting discussions in there.