The Internet Is Magic


I'm currently judging multibillion dollar corporations on their marketing campaigns, in an official capacity for an organization mind you, from the comfort of an on-campus apartment at the University at Buffalo.

This ... is a little weird.

Ok. It's not. Truthfully, the place I'm in is literally as far as you can possibly get from anything while still being "on campus". So despite the fact that I can see a giant University at Buffalo sign not too far from my apartment, I don't feel like I'm at a college, and that's pretty great.

Where was I. Oh, right, the judging. So listen, it's 2015. Right? I didn't somehow forget where I was or when I was just now did I? Western New York has always had that affect on me, going back to my time at Alfred State.

Believe it or not, marijuana was not involved.

Anyway, it's 2015. If you're a big, multibillion dollar company (I won't name names because that's against the rules of the thing I'm judging for), and AT YOUR BEST, you can only claim like a 20% success rate. Maybe, just maybe, you should reconsider doing the whole "social media" thing.

Now if you're reading this, you know, and I know you know, that it's all bullshit. ("It" being social media marketing campaigns, and really most online marketing campaigns, in the way we conceive them to operate). But you and I? We've known that this is bullshit going back to 2012. Or 2009, if you want to count when I started researching the book, and not it's date of publication, quickly approaching its four year anniversary on September 4th.

(Also four years since I've been divorced. What a weird way to mark your time on this Earth.)

So since 2009, billions of dollars (no joke, no exaggeration) has been wasted on this stuff. And here we are going into 2016, and a lot of these HUGE companies whose products you often have no choice but to consume, are just flushing money down the drain despite years of data and hard evidence saying it's dumb of them to do so.

What do you chalk that up to? Well, greed. Ignorance. Sure. Both true. But I think it's something else too.

The Power Of Belief

People are fucking dangerous. A person is smart, kind, compassionate, rationale. Someone you want to spend your time with. A person can be reasoned with. Or at least talked down from a cliff, most of the time, with just the right amount of love.

People, as a group? Forget it. They're crazy. Dangerous. Ignorant. And you can make all the excuses in the world, but if a group of people choose to believe something. Right or wrong. Good or bad. Look out.

And that's really what we have here. Sure there's greed involved. The marketing industry is a cash cow for those who are good at manipulating others into believing their bullshit. And sure, ignorance is involved because people (especially when it comes to how things spread across the Internet) really don't know or bother to learn about why it happens. Preferring instead to just throw money at people like me and then go, "You do it". 

Hey, not that I'm complaining. How do you think I'm paying for grad school?

But I really think what drives all this is that fundamental belief on the part of A LOT of people, that the Internet is magic, and therefore, only certain people know how this all works and nobody else. 

Put another way: How many people actually know how their phone works. I don't mean turning it on and using apps. I mean like how the guts of the thing work. How it interacts with the cell towers out there or how its chips work. What the screen is made out of. That sort of thing.

Not many, right? Because we don't bother to learn because we think it's magic. "Oh shit! An iPhone!"

But it's not. Except that we don't believe otherwise. We believe this stuff is magic and as long as a lot of people believe that, there's money to be made, and large companies (and maybe even yourself) are going to blow huge sums of money on this.

Despite the fact that it wasn't worth it, wasn't cool, didn't really get much attention or generate results. It's just a thing you did that you'll forget about tomorrow, and that's a real shame.

Life is short. Forget the business end of it for a second. Instead consider this: Why bother doing anything expensive and costly that other people won't remember? 

E! Vs. The "Internet Famous" (And Why E! Had It Right)

I don't like doing the "Copy dumb comment, make smart retort" thing a lot of writers do these days, but ... yeah. Totally going to do some of that here with this Washington Post piece.

Not that the writer in question is dumb, but there are some really dubious statements made throughout the piece, by multiple parties, and I just can't let this stuff slide.

It's a gift ... and a curse. (If you get that reference, I want to be your best friend.)

Crazy Pants People Say Crazy Things In Move That Shocks Nobody

1. "For the past two days, E! Online has been at war with a million irate teens. And as the battle winds up, we must conclude: The teens are winning."

Nope. Nope nope nope.

For starters, "a million irate teens" is the kind of dumb, gross, and irresponsible journalism that contributed to the first tech bubble, will contribute to the current one, and continues to fuel America (and the Western World's) misperception of the Capital I Internet. (That's Internet as in Internet Culture and the people responsible for it, not internet, lowercase i, as in the actual technological infrastructure that connects our computers and devices to each other.)

A million? C'mon. Based on what? Seriously? YouTube views that can easily be bought and faked? Instagram accounts that can be bought by the thousands? Tweets retweeted automatically by bots? Vines coming from a social network so small, Twitter hasn't released actual usage figures concerning the platform IN YEARS? YEEEEAAAAAARRRSSSSSSS.

So, "millions"? Stop it. More like, maybe at most, a few thousand. Ok. That might be too low, but if we're being generous, maybe one hundred thousand. Nothing to sneeze at, but for real. It's not a million. Stop it.

(Later in that post, one of these Internet Celebrity losers tries to mention how they're a New York Times Best Selling Author like that means something.

 It doesn't. You can, and hundreds (that's NO exaggeration) of authors openly and actively cheat and manipulate the New York Times Best Sellers list. Saying you're a New York Times Best Selling Author may sound nice, but it's sort of like getting a sticker for participating. Everyone gets one of those these days. Don't let anyone try to tell you being a NYT Best Seller means anything. It doesn't.)

2. "If you’re in media and know nothing about Internet talent, you’re not cute or clever,” Vine’s Jeremy Cabalona tweeted. “You’re genuinely irrelevant and terrible at your job.”

Fuck that guy. I don't like to swear much anymore, but "Forget that guy" just wasn't strong enough to dismiss that arrogant turd's comments.

If you're in the media and know nothing about "internet talent" you're fine. Most of these people don't matter. The ones that do have big companies like Google and large media companies / advertising agencies / brands behind them, getting them PR, inflating their vanity numbers (followers, views, likes, ect.), and making sure that "Internet talent" gets distribution and eyeballs. 

The kind you can ONLY GET when you have those entities backing you.

So the idea that they're "legit" in the sense that they're organically these Internet stars with audiences they grew themselves and have this huge reach is totally and completely bogus.

(And again, Vine? Seriously? You guys know Twitter has a PR firm, and an advertising agency, that promotes "Vine Stars" right?)

tl;dr if you've read this far: These "Internet Famous" people aren't for real, and their audiences are vastly overstated. Or put another way, they're only Internet Celebrities because we say they are in the press, not because they actually are.

3. Anyone who tells you YouTube views matter and have influence is insane. Seriously insane. In the entire existence of YouTube, which by the way is now over a decade, this has not once been proven true. Not once. You know what has mattered? When the media picks up on the YouTube video and either because it's cheap content or because they're trying to meet page view quotas, decides to run with the video. 

Unless the media, the companies I mentioned (agencies, brands) or a real (yes, I went there, a REAL celebrity) picks up on the video, 99% of the stuff on Youtube is barely viewed. Oh and by the way, remember that close to 80% of YouTube views come from outside the United States.

So, if you're an advertiser, or a business thinking YouTube views matter, and you're based in America and don't have an intangible product that you can sell, those views are totally meaningless. I mean, they were already meaningless, but they are doubly so here.

What we have here with these "angry" Internet celebrities are people Google (for example) created by featuring them on the front page of Youtube and giving them a ton of offline media exposure in the process. This in turn gave them online audiences and cumulative advantage. 

In other words, go and look at how long Tyler Oakley (or any of these famous YouTube "stars)" has been on Youtube, 2007, and you'll see very clearly what I'm talking about. 

Once the offline media, and other parties, vouched for him and started to talk about him, his numbers jumped, and then they continued to jump because he was a known commodity and people, and more press coverage, got the word out about him. 

So the concept that he's an "Internet Celebrity" as in the Internet created him and all his success came from only the Internet is so totally bogus that I'd laugh if it didn't make me angry at how dumb we all are for believing otherwise despite a mountain of facts, evidence, and data. 

When I talk to brands, agencies, media outlets, and (some) journalists, I seriously feel like a lot of them have their fingers in their ears and they're just stomping around going, "La la la la la la I can't hear you la la la la la".

How messed up is it that the "Internet Celebrities" we have were mostly created by Google (and others) when they used to feature videos, and since then, there have been almost ZERO new "Internet Celebrities" from those platforms beyond ones backed by the PR firm of multimillion dollar tech companies? Maybe there's a message there and nobody wants to talk about it because nobody wants to be the turd in the punch bowl. 

Except me, of course. 

Or better still, just look at the ratings for "YouTube Star" Grace Helbig's show on E!. 

JUST LOOK AT THEM! If YouTube stars had real power and influence, why are her ratings so low?

Now tell me what she says and does matters in the context we're talking about. Go ahead. Look at the facts, and then tell me they're not true. 

(P.S. I used to do work with a company that did work with Grace, so I know for a fact that she's very nice, and I'm not taking shots at her personally, but the concept that she's this organic Internet celebrity who can give advice to others on how to be the same definitely rubs me the wrong way because I've seen it up close and personal that it's not true.)

4.. Let's close on this, from the Washington Post: "On top of that, writing off social media celebrity — even in its silliest, most overtly generational iterations — ignores the fact that these people signal huge and fascinating things about our culture. Forget the fact that Zach King  has basically perfected a new genre of short-form video art, or that Joey Graceffa’s book is among Amazon’s best-selling biographies. Independent of their individual accomplishments (which are many!), they, whether they are teens themselves or not, speak to teenagers’ collective beliefs, their politicsand anxieties, their game-changing interest in collaborative, democratic media and their desire to bypass middlemen and gatekeepers like E!."

Not really. No. Vine is basically a DOA service so nothing that happens on there really matters much beyond a dwindling set of users. Having an Amazing best-seller doesn't mean anything, because that's driven by an algorithm that can be manipulated by enough activity. Trust me. If I showed you how stupid Amazon's system was, you'd freak out. 

(Why is it stupid? Because if their system was more complex, it'd mean a lower loading time and more buggy UI, or user interface. It MUST be stupid for Amazon to provide a smooth customer experience, but make no mistake, stupid is as stupid does.) 

The fact they're teens also doesn't qualify them to speak for other teens. That's just some straight up BS. 

A lot of these people have money and studios and a lot of people backing them. Their experience is NOT representative of your typical teen. If I said to you that Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus was representative of your typical teen, you'd think I was crazy. 

So why is it any different here? Oh, right, we're pretending the studios, agencies, brands, and other parties behind these "legit" Internet Celebrities don't exist because if we acknowledged that they do, our whole conception of Internet Celebrity gets obliterated and this Washington Post article (and a lot of coverage of these people) would be pointless.

And, I'd say something about the whole "bypass the middlemen and gatekeepers" myth, but seriously, that myth is over twenty-years old, and if you still think it's true, I just can't help you man. Just go read the book. And then remember that I wrote that in 2011. 

What year is it now? And we're still repeating these dumb, vague, baseless cliches? C'mon. 

It's time we all grew up and saw what was really going on. This small group of "Internet Celebrities" exist because there's money to be made by suckering dumb brands and large corporations into giving them money so that those companies in term look "cool" and "hip". 

I just did a thing with a large TV network where the sole point of them doing the thing was exactly for this reason. That may sound like a dumb reason for the Tyler Oakley's of the world to exist, but it's also the truth.

And you know something? If it was so damn easy to "cut out the middlemen and gatekeepers" to reach a wide audience on these platforms, there'd be way more "Internet Celebrities" than their actually are, and a lot of them would have come into existence way more recently than 2007.


Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

How To Be (Internet) Famous: The Book, Tour Dates, Radio Tour

Hey,

 I did my first press interview in about a year. (The thing with Fortune Magazine doesn't count. That was just a blurb they needed so it didn't look like they were completely blowing this one social media "guru", even though that's totally what they were doing.)

You can listen to the interview here. It starts at 16:00, but there's some good music before and between my interview segments, so if you have the time, listen to the whole show.

I mention this to you because, if you've looked at the press page for this website, until yesterday I had a note saying I wouldn't do any interviews until I had something going on.

Now I do.

So, let's talk.

How To Be (Internet) Famous (The Book)

As you might have known by now, I already wrote my second book. It was ghost written for someone else, and it'll be out in stores sometime next Fall, based on the rate traditional publishers move on stuff. 

Traditional publishers are great, but ... they're really slow. So for the third book, this sucker is getting self-published on June 1st, 2016. If I bother with the traditional publishers, it's going to slow me down and screw up my timeline. The most important thing to me right now is getting my Master's and moving to Los Angeles. 

That's going to happen on June 1st, 2017. I can't have a book come out then because it'll keep me from moving. If I'm not in the car and driving to my new home in LA on that day, I'm going to be really mad. Maybe not Hulk angry, but I may have to bring a change of pants just the same. 

(BTW: Where do you think the Hulk gets his endless supply of purple pants? And more importantly, in a world where Reed Richards makes his costume out of unstable molecules so that he can grow and stretch his costume without it ripping, why hasn't he helped a brother out and given the Hulk / Bruce Banner something to wear for the times when the Hulk shows up? It's one of those dumb comic book things that drive me nuts. Like, they clearly know each other. Bruce Banner and Reed Richards are science buddies. You figure Richards would have been like, "You must spend a fortune in pants! Here, let me help you" in the fifty or so years those characters have interacted with each other. Instead, The Thing shows up, punches Hulk. Hulk punches The Thing, and that's generally the extent of the Hulk's interaction with the Fantastic Four.

Except for that time when he was a member of the Fantastic Four with the most '90s lineup ever: Wolverine, Spider-Man, Hulk, and Ghost Rider. But now we're way off topic ...)

So, the book has to come out in the next twelve months to fit my window. Luckily, it's a quarter done already. So we're well on our way.

How To Be (Internet) Famous is the name of the "Social Media Is Bullshit" sequel. It'll be self-published via Nook Press. 

If you'd like to know when the book is available for purchase, you can signup here. (Psst. If you signup for that mailing list, a small group of you may even get the new book for free and early in exchange for doing some stuff. No. Not that. Don't be a weirdo.)

What's the book about? The book lays out a ten step plan that will help anyone promote anything online (and off) successfully if followed. That's it. No BS. No frills. It's short and to the point.

This way, you will never have to hire another SEO, Viral marketing, Social media, or "Growth hacking" expert again. You'll know exactly what you need to be doing, and you'll save yourself a shit ton of time and money in the process.

I'm Going On Tour (Sort Of!)

Nothing takes priority over grad school and any on-campus obligations I have. Remember: June 1st, 2017, I'm going to LA. 

 But, I do need to promote this new book, so I'll be doing a couple of awesome things I want you to know about:

1. Radio Tour:

Since my ability to travel is restricted (not limited. I can and will go places to present, schedule permitting) I'm going to start a radio tour in September to drive people to HowToBeInternetFamous.com (which takes you to that email signup you'll see if you click the link above this one.)

My goal is to appear on 200 radio stations between September and June when the book comes out, doing interviews when I don't have anything else going on at school.

I have this huge, but outdated, database that I want to put to some use. And I figure while I'm updating the information in it, I might as well push the new (and old) books. 

2. WeWork Tour:

Currently, this is one of those "funds permitting" kind of things, but if everything works out, once a month between now and when the book comes out I'll be stopping at a different WeWork location across the country to promote How To Be (Internet) Famous. 

Seattle & Portland, Chicago, New York City, and Washington D.C. are for sure stops, regardless of funding, those are happening. You can count on me coming your way between now and June 2016.

The other stops are going to depend on whether or not I partner up with someone to help cover the cost of getting there and back. I'm going to try to stop everywhere I can (schedule permitting with grad school obligations), but since grad school is my priority, I'm restricted on the amount of consulting and other work I usually do, so I can't do the whole thing out of pocket.

As the tour dates get settled, I will be announcing and promoting them on here and on the radio tour.

So To Recap

  • I will be stopping in at the Seattle, Portland, NYC, Washington D.C., and Chicago WeWork locations between now and June 1st to promote How To Be (Internet) Famous. Other stops are dependent on funding, but I hope I can nail those down soon.


P.S.

Some people seem to be thrown by the grad school thing. Why am I doing it, specifically.  It's really simple. I want to be a screenwriter and make movies in Los Angeles. So do a lot of people. I'm not one of those "Reach for the starts and you can achieve your dreams!" kind of guys.

I'm more of a "Go for what you want. Try you best, and if you fail, have a Plan B" kind of guys.

My Plan B is a Master's degree in Higher Education Administration. I love working with college students. I'd love to do that if the screenwriting and movie making thing doesn't work out for me.

It's really that simple. 

Or in other words, one way or another, I'm going to Los Angeles and staying there.

Dumb Things Multibillion Dollar Companies Say: Sheryl Sandberg Edition

I've mentioned before, in the pages of Social Media Is Bullshit, that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has said some pretty misleading things on behalf of her company.

(Not to mention, if you recall me talking about The Big Club over at SiliconANGLE, you can see The New York Times and Sandberg provide a great example of that right here.)

More recently, during a Facebook earnings call, Sandberg claimed Facebook was the top source for driving subscriptions to HBO Now thanks to their retargeting capability. 

Retargeting, by the way, is that creepy thing a lot of big companies do where they track your activity all over the Web. 

Let's say you visited WWE.com because you hate yourself and keep subjecting your entire family to three miserable hours of bad writing and worse acting every Monday Night. Now, whenever you go to other places, unless you clear your cookies in your browser, you will see ads for WWE.com popup on other places you visit.

No. Can't imagine why so many people are resorting to ad blockers. Can you?

Like Sandberg's previous claim that Facebook was helpful for small businesses and an important place for them to set up a presence (LOL), this claim concerning the retargeting success is false.

And it's false for reasons that should be obvious, but probably aren't because when it comes to the tech companies, the people covering them are (usually) sucked inside a reality distortion field and can't (or won't, because they don't want to lose a potential job in the future) want to tell the truth.

The Truth

1. Any time a tech company uses a celebrity or big media company (like say, one of the largest media companies in the world) as an example of success, you should be skeptical. That's like if Lebron showed up one day and decided to play for your high school basketball team. Of course you're going to win. Of course he's going to dunk on some poor kid. Of course. 

So for you and me, claims like this don't really mean anything. 

It just means a huge brand (HBO) and the big company that owns it (Time Warner) probably spent millions on ads and saw results. Of course whether or not they made their money back, and whether or not those results are what they were expecting goes unmentioned by Facebook. Because duh. And also: Because of confidentiality agreements, it is not possible for the agency behind the ad buy with Facebook, or the brand itself if they coordinated the campaign, to comment on the campaign. So that means ...

2. You are only getting one side of the story here. If Facebook is saying the campaign was successful, the other party (more often than not) can't say otherwise. Especially if it means pissing Facebook off and having them throttle your stuff so no one ever, ever, evveeeeerrrrrrrrrr sees it ag-ain (to paraphrase Chris Jericho.)

So if Facebook says the campaign was successful, then for all anyone knows, it was. Even if it wasn't.

3. Let's talk about the campaign itself. Because of the way retargeting works, you're claiming you successfully caused people to act on something they (probably) were already going to do. In other words, the people who saw the ads likely ALSO saw the (massive) publicity HBO Now received when it was announced, as well as other ads and promotions, and were already going to buy the thing anyway.

Did the ads push that person to act NOW as opposed to weeks from now? Maybe. Maybe not. But when you factor in other variables, the answer starts to look more and more like, "Nope. It didn't."

What other variables? Word of mouth. What else that person may have been exposed to on that given day. Maybe they just got paid and it so happened to coincide with the same time as the Facebook campaign.

The point is, as much as we want to think online advertising (in general) works in a simple, linear fashion (I saw Ad A and completed Action B because of it), it don't.

That's right. I said, "It don't".

Go and look at that link to The Consumerist (it's the adblocker one) and read the BS that reporter is saying about online ads vs. offline ads. Then remember that online ads are easily gamed, faked, and manipulated. 

So much so that I'd argue the results you get are often unreliable at best. 

I really, truly believe that anyone who wants to convince you of the superiority of online advertising to offline advertising is at best an idiot, and at worst, a manipulative one. 

But getting back on track ...

EVEN IF you want to say, "Alright, well people saw the ad on Facebook, clicked through, and subscribed" you have to recall that "People" here are people who already had an interest in HBO and were likely considering that purchase anyway. 

You CAN argue that the Facebook campaign likely sped up the process of that person moving through the sales funnel. I totally buy that. But I don't buy that the campaign itself drove success for HBO Now. I don't buy that for a second.

But you know, if Sheryl Sandberg says something, it must be true, because that's sure how we've covered everything she's said and done during her time with Facebook.



And You Thought The Fantastic Four Movie Was Bad? Try Watching This


The early '90s were a weird time for comics. 

You had Spawn and a lot of the Image books that all the "cool" kids were reading. Then you had goobers like me who bought every Infinity-whatever crossover Marvel was running (Gauntlet, War, and Crusade) as well as the other space comics like Infinity Watch, Guardians of the Galaxy (the bad Guardians, not the new, cooler ones), and Quasar.

But you also had great cartoons like X-Men, Spider-Man, and Batman: The Animated Series on Fox (and later the WB with Superman.)

Ok. Not all of the cartoons were great.The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and later, the Silver Surfer were affronts to God herself.

Just kidding.

But they were pretty bad. To the point where, even in the sixth grade, I knew that when I watched the Fantastic Four and Iron Man cartoons, I was watching them out of hate.

The Fantastic Four cartoon (trauma inducing video above) is probably way worse than the new film. I don't know. I haven't (and won't) see it, but I dare you to find a human being who can sit and listen to the theme song in the video above play for ninety minutes without snapping and murdering the first person they see when it's over.

And you know what? They'll probably do it while singing that annoying theme song too.




Fortune Cookie Or True Detective Quote?


I can't put into words how awful the second season of "True Detective" is. Aside from Vince Vaughn and his character, the show is a dark, muddled mess filled with unlikable characters and a convoluted plot.

Thankfully, Seth Meyers felt the same way most of us do and decided to make a game show about it. Observe. 

Dear HBO, please don't bring this show back.

Dear FX, let this be a lesson to you about Fargo's second season. Don't let it suck like this did.

When You Try To Acheive Your Goals, You Better Have A Plan B

 I've been getting asked a lot about when the next book is coming out. 

The truth is, I already wrote my second book. It just has someone else's name on it and will be in stores next year. 

And like Forest Gump used to say, "And that's all I have to say about that". (Legally I also can't say anything more than that.)

But. When is the next book coming out with my name on it? That's ... Well, the answer is complicated. I'm going to tell you why, and I hope in doing so I can convey to you the importance of having a backup plan. 

Especially when you want to do something that's risky. Like say, write fiction. Or launch your own product. Or start your own business. You get the idea.

You should, without hesitation, pursue your goals and dreams. I really do believe that, and I'm a coldhearted atheist who agrees with Maya Angelou and thinks this world is bullshit. (Or was it Fiona Apple who said that? No, wait. It was definitely Fiona Apple.)

But. But. But. But. But.

You should NOT do so without a backup plan. 

Because seriously. Shit can go wrong in a hurry, and you and I both know the game is rigged against 99.9% of us. 

So even if you make or pitch the BEST THING EVER!!!!!!!!!!! It may not matter because you didn't graduate from Stanford, or because your Dad didn't know this other guy's Dad, and on and on and on. 

You know what I'm talking about. The deck is stacked against you.

So, I am a huge believer that you should lead by example. 

Trust me, if you've spent the amount of time I have in the world of advertising and marketing, there is a real lack of people who do that. As there is in most places, and it's disheartening. But I'm not going to be one of those people. I got my own plans and my own Plan B. 

Let me tell you about them.

Vengeance, Nevada

I've talked about "Vengeance, Nevada" a few times on this blog, but this is the first time I've really tied it into the "big picture". So here it goes ...

I'm starting a two year program at the University at Buffalo this month.

There's a lot of reasons for this. They're not terribly important, unless you want to hear about people dying and getting divorced and meeting someone you like and letting them slip through your fingers. You know, depressing bullshit. We're going to skip all that.

What is important, to you, is that this is my Plan B. I'm leading by example.

Over the course of the next year, I'm going to write and self-publish "Vengeance, Nevada". It'll be out not long after the Spring semester finishes. 

So, when is my next book coming out? June of 2016. 

If "Vengeance, Nevada" does well, then in June of 2016 I'll make a decision. 

If the book doesn't make any money, then I'll continue into the second year of the two year program at UB.

If the book does well, then I'll press the pause button on grad school.

That's year one. If you make a Plan, it's good to have a short term goal (in this case, self-publish "Vengeance Nevada" by June of 2016), and then a long term goal. 

In this case, the long term goal is to move to LA and work in the movie industry.

So,let's say the book comes out and doesn't do well. That's ok. Now we go for the second part, the long term part, of the plan.

Option two is that by the end of my second and final year of school, I write (at least) three movie scripts and pitch them through my friends and associates to get them to agents out in LA.

Do they sell? Awesome! If not? Ok too!

Why is that ok? I got my backup plan. 

In June of '17, I will take my awesome degree and go out to LA anyway, with the ability to get a fun job working with college students as soon as the final semester concludes.

Thus completing one of my other objectives in life to never, ever, talk about marketing again. Seriously. By June of 2017, if I'm still talking about marketing, one of you has my full permission to kick my ass.

Keep It Simple

I have very basic goals here. I want to live in LA. I want to make and work on movies. Period. The Plan B (the degree from UB) gets me to LA no matter what.

So no matter what, that part of the goal is achieved. 

The other part, being a fiction writer who sells enough books to make a living, is risky. It's not easy to do, so I'm going to take a shot at it while making sure my backup plan is in place.

You should take your shot, and if you miss? That's totally fine. I don't mean that in the phony startup world's "embrace failure" kind of way. I mean it in a, "You took your shot and you missed. At least you took it. Now you've got this backup plan, and everything is going to be ok.

The difference is that it's easy to tell people to "embrace failure" when you're pissing away other people's money. But when it's your money, your life, and your wallet on the line, you should absolutely have a backup plan.

I hope you will never need it, but it's there if you do.


(Image Credit: The city of Buffalo comes from Wikimedia Commons)

Everybody Hates Adam Sandler (But It's Not Why You Think)

I'm not an Adam Sandler fan. I guess I should tell you that upfront. However, I can smell a pageview pile on from miles away, and that's exactly what's going on lately with the guy. So much so that I'm starting to feel bad.

I'm all for mocking celebrities, but at the same time, I want to know what's fueling it. Am I making fun of the guy because I have something funny or unique to say about him? Or am I making fun of him because it's fueling my disgusting and societally corrosive business model? If it's something unique and funny, then by all means make fun. But ...

Guess which one is going on here?

Without repeating too much of what I've been saying since 2009, (just read the book) the online media rarely covers stuff just to cover stuff. Or because they have an opinion they want to share with you simply because that's their opinion too.

That's why you see Last Week Tonight clips posted every Monday morning, but no one doing the kind of reporting and presentation that leads to those clips being posted in the first place. It's the path of least resistance and maximum (pageview) value. No work. All reward.

There's a lot of reasons for this, and they're all dumb and boring.

 tl;dr, go get yourself AdBlock Plus or one of the other adblockers and you'll be doing the world a favor.

The faster the ad dollars for pageviews business model dies, the sooner we as a society win. 

As far as Sandler goes, making fun of the guy and his awful movies is now like making a Nickelback joke. There's nothing especially funny to it, you just make the joke because you know it's safe and won't offend anyone. "Ha Ha! I hate the things you hate!"

I call this a "Safe Take". 

Bloggers / journalists write in such a way now, thanks to the pageview business model, that they take the safest position possible when talking to the audience.*

 This way no one is offended, especially the advertisers, and the blogger / journalist can sound like they're your friend and not someone feeding a giant shitty company who doesn't actually care about you at all.

"I'm your friend. I like all the things you like, or at least what I think you like thanks to Google Trends. But wait, what's this, opinion is changing on this thing you like. I don't like it anymore. Booo! Let's boo this thing together!"

That's seriously how most bloggers / journalists working for pageview driven outlets sound like now. There's no personality. There's no individuality. It's just this Faux Friendly, safe position voice that's being used to present you stuff that (usually) other people reported on first.

Adam Sandler makes bad movies. This has been true since the '90s. It's not news. It's not new. But because I guess Nickelback jokes are passe, we need someone else to pile on, and the pageview driven media has found their guy.

So why are we making fun of the guy? It's not because "Pixels" sucks. (It does, but did anyone seriously think it wouldn't?), it's because making fun of Adam Sandler is good for business.


*The only time a journalist / blogger will take a position on something is when they're doing a "hot take". If you ever go to Salon.com, and you shouldn't, basically everything on there is a hot take meant to antagonize or piss you off. The idea being that you will 1) Share the thing that pissed you off / agreed with and 2) That they'll piss off so many people that what they said will generate a ton of pageviews and coverage from other media outlets.


(Image Credit: SomethingAwful.com)



This Spot On Impression Of Bray Wyatt Perfectly Sums Up The Whole Hulk Hogan Thing


If you don't watch WWE anymore, or have never watched it but are familiar with the Undertaker character, Bray Wyatt is basically the new Undertaker.

In this Funny or Die video, this guy does a spot on impression of Bray Wyatt, and then completely sums up the entire situation between Hulk Hogan and Gawker and the release of the private (but no less disgusting) racist comments Hogan made on that tape.


You Ever See A Boxer Dance With A Rose In His Mouth?


I'm not going to lie, I'd pay so much money to watch a parody of ESPN 30 for 30 that was based entirely around Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!

Until such a thing exists, the following video comes pretty damn close.

P.S. I can't speak to the Virtual Console experience on the Wii U, but the Virtual Console experience on the Wii concerning Punch-Out!! was awful. The lag made certain opponents (i.e. the world's oldest twenty-seven-year-old at the end of this video) impossible to beat.

I don't really play games much anymore, but I'm awfully tempted to track down an (operational) NES and copy of Punch-Out!! to play. You should do the same. It's a blast, as opposed to most games today, where you have to continuously cough up money, otherwise your enjoyment will immediately evaporate and be replaced with a filthy pool of despair. 

The latest Magic: The Gathering Duels is a great example of that.