I’m paying for this shit…

So I might as well start using it again and get my money’s worth. Expect some content coming up over the next few months of some sort. We’ll see what I have the motivation to get done. Maybe some videos I’ve been promising for awhile, maybe more writing, and maybe even some of my unpublished fiction.

Who knows…

but for now, enjoy some music:

Words of Encouragement

Elvis died alone on the toilet, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Have a great weekend!

Commercial Broadcast Television is Done

Didn’t watch the Golden Globes, but I took a few minutes to look over what was nominated and what won.

Here’s what I noticed. Commercial broadcast television sucks. Fox got zero nominations, NBC and ABC only received one nomination each, and CBS received four… three of which came from a single show. The CW actually won more Globes than all the other broadcast networks combined. THE CW! Don’t get me wrong, I will watch the shit out of some super hero themed teenage dramas, but the CW shouldn’t outperform the big three.

To put this in perspective, PBS had as many nominations as FOX, NBC, and ABC combined. Amazon and Netflix had more nominations than FOX, NBC, CBS, The CW, and ABC had combined.

HBO and Showtime just destroyed EVERYONE, and FX did a respectable job with 8 nominations.

Commercial broadcast television will be completely irrelevant within 15 years. The only things that are keeping those networks afloat are sports and lowest common denominator television. I have a feeling within my 15 year window, both will be fully migrated to the internet and then commercial broadcast television won’t be worth a damn.

Music Time: Legalize Chrome Sparks

Catching Up

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!

Free Advice for the WWE and WWE Network

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.

photo via wwe.com

photo via wwe.com

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!

Today Pro-Wrestling Matter to You, and Here’s Why

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!

Welcome to the Internet, the Place Where Your Opinion is Always Wrong

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.

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