Twitch Streaming and Human Connection

I’m a little behind the times, and so I’ve only really just figured out what Twitch is. I’ve always known it to be a streaming platform for gamers, but I’ve never really had a reason to tune in to anyone’s channel.

This autumn has seen the release of many games that have peaked my interest, and so YouTube clips eventually lead me to streams from dedicated full-time gamers. Most are working for tips, as any live performer would, with the more established streamers making a living from subscribers (patrons) and sponsorships.

I remember Twitch being criticised last year for allowing non-gaming streamers on the website, largely because this came in the form of “hot girls” in low-cut tops talking to their camera for tips. It was thought that these streams would take audiences away from the gaming streamers, but the website appears to be as popular as ever.

These non-gaming streams spawned sub-genres such as Music & Arts, Just Talking and Game Shows. Also ASMR — Gently crafted soundscapes to help you relax and sleep.

As someone who dabbled with live streaming around ten years ago, I completely understand the appeal of performing and reaching out to an audience.

Back then it was basic webcams and cheap USB microphones on a now-defunct platform called Blog TV. I never tried to make any extra pocket money from it, but my friends and I put together a 48-hour long livestream to raise money for charity.

Even though huge pockets of that were broadcast were unplanned, I remember having so much fun scheduling segments from various artists, performers and guests — All talented friends who, like me, just wanted to be noticed for a moment whilst doing something to help others.

We switched between webcams to different areas of my attic bedroom that had been converted into an amateur studio. It felt like a reverse Wayne’s World for the digital age.

Life happened, as it always does, and so I stopped streaming — But it was fun while it lasted.

During our two-day livestream we were featured on the front page and peaked at around five-hundred viewers, which is a drop in the online ocean compared to the number of viewers that top Twitch streamers get nowadays.

As I type these words, the two most watched channels in the world right now have 50,000 and 25,000 viewers each. They’re playing the games Fortnite and a little game you may have heard of, called Chess.

The most beautiful thing about this is that twice as many people are watching masters play chess than are watching a Fortnite streamer. I guess you can’t beat the classics.

twitchchess.jpg

The overall Twitch community doesn’t seem to be too healthy, but like all digital social circles it’s hard to pin-down exactly who the average Twitch user is. Some streamers will have an obscene chat, filled with memes and bigotry — Whereas others will have a positive chat, filled with memes and love.

So I guess memes are probably the common trend, and you cultivate a community that reflects your personality.

I find it difficult to keep the chat open whenever I’m watching a stream, because it’s usually a barrage of nonsensical noise, with people looking to connect to the host.

That’s the really interesting thing about live-streaming — The connections people are looking to make.

In the digital age we’re all just looking to connect to others. Every time we post a Tweet, photo or update, we’re asking for people to notice us. We want to be recognised, seen and heard in an increasingly loud world.

As much as I keep this daily blog for personal reasons, I can’t deny that my heart is warmed whenever someone likes a post or comments on some nonsense I’ve written.

Social media induced endorphins man; The real drug that’ll get you.

Streaming though, particularly on Twitch, is a raw and extreme version of that connection. Sure you can glam yourself up, change how you behave and even adopt a persona, but ultimately you’re putting more of yourself out there for the world to see than in, say, a photo on Instagram.

You’re live, you’re unfiltered and you’re asking to be noticed.

I think it takes a dash of ego to be a successful streamer — To plug away for so long in order to gain an audience. But I also think that bravery is a crucial trait, just because of how exposed you leave yourself to a faceless crowd.

I’ve seen explicit and inappropriate things in Twitch chats, largely directed at female streamers who’re just trying to play a video game and, presumably, not looking for men to describe how they would get into her pants.

But I’ve also seen the uplifting — The harmless communities formed around a shared interest and personality, the stories told to each other, and the games played together.

The most interesting part of this platform, for me, is the new streamers. The people who’re playing to an audience of less than five, but are still trying just as hard to gain a following.

This next bit is going to sound a little creepy, but imagine me approaching this with Louis Theroux levels of inquisitiveness and it’ll seem a little better.

louisquote.gif

I’ve found myself scrolling to the least-viewed streams of a game and tuning in. In some cases I’m the only viewer, and the person is just sat there, playing their game. Then, after a few moments they notice they have someone watching (me), and so they begin a performance.

They start to commentate themselves, and make a few forced jokes. You watch them transition from someone practicing a routine at home, to performing that same routine on a stage, as they shift from one version of themselves to another.

It’s fascinating to watch, but I don’t linger for too long, as the interaction is all one-sided. They talk into a microphone and I watch, both of us gaining some kind of distant human connection for a moment before parting ways for good.

As I said, a little creepy, but it’s so intriguing to witness a live version of someone looking to fill that basic human need of connection. And not only that, but at its very root.

Watching someone stream to an audience of two is like noticing that someone in the room wants to say something — The connection isn’t fully formed yet, but they’re trying, in order to connect to others. And in that seed for potential interaction you see a familiar struggle — You see yourself and everyone you’ve ever known.


Today is Wednesday, November 28th and my cat jumps at windows to get the bird, but she never gets the bird.

Tip My Jar?

If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

$1.00

Jacob Wohl, and Should We Be Talking About Him?

Has anyone else read about the Jacob Wohl story?

This is the guy who tried to fake accusations against Robert Mueller, but was found out due to the most inept faked-conspiracy theory in recent memory. He made hundreds of fake social media profiles, that he used to attempt to corroborate information relayed from his fake “consultancy firm”. Only, most of the profile photos were registered models, and one was actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

I know Superbad was a long time ago, but people don’t forget the Mintz-Plasse. Not with a name like Mintz-Plasse, and a face like McLovin.

mclovin
Wohl’s new head of PR

Yesterday he (Jacob Wohl, not McLovin) held a press conference, before which he said he would pay any woman $20,000 to come forward with information about Robert Mueller in regards to sexual assault. Obviously, nobody came forward. It appears as though women won’t just come forward about sexual assault in exchange for money and fame, as some Republicans seem to believe.

Turns out they’re people who’ve been through harrowing experiences seeking to tell the truth, who would have guessed?

His conspiracy and fake network started to unravel when one of his “associates” office phones lead back to his own mother’s cell phone voicemail! I kid you not, HBO will have a TV movie about this guy out by next summer. Probably starring Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Jacob Wohl, for no reason other than the delicious irony.

Wohl’s associate/maybe lawyer, Jack Burkman, even co-led the entire press conference with his fly down. That’s not as relevant, but it really ads to the colour of the situation. I think it might be a metaphor for the entire attempt at fraud that, in a just world, would land Wohl with a couple of years in prison.

Wohl, who looks like a seventy-year-old man who made a deal with the devil to be young again, has been on the fringes of the far-right movement for the last two years. He has been a vocal Trump supporter who peddles the grossest of conspiracy theories, hoping that the President will one day recognise him as a reputable news source.

Which in 2018, that’s the most obvious symptom of unresolved daddy-issues.

Just yesterday he tweeted that Beto O’Rourke is financially supporting the migrant caravan. He made this claim without a source and just threw it out into the world in the form of a selectively edited video. Most of us know this to be ridiculous, but some will buy into it, as we’ve seen with other conspiracy theories in recent years.

At aged twenty, he has already been blacklisted from almost all financial institutions in New York, for lying and claiming to be a hedge-fund manager. He still claims to be a businessman, but the only business he is currently in is misinformation. One that, unfortunately, in 2018 is rather lucrative.

He’s sort-of a cross between Steve Bannon now and Donald Trump at age twenty. He’s a living example of the Trump effect on young people, and surprise surprise it’s in the form of an upper-class brat with delusions of grandeur.

The way he delivered his press conference was even in the style of the Trump administration’s upper rank. He pushed questions away like Sanders, had all the slime-ball anti-charm of a Trump Jr, and the train-of-thought arrogance of the satsuma God-King himself.

wohl2.png

The Trump Presidency has given people like Wohl a platform of legitimacy, because even though we’re laughing at him, we’re still talking about him.

And that’s the recurring problem, isn’t it? Many people argue that left-wing and centrist media continually covering the Trump campaign is what ultimately lead to his victory in 2016, and it’s a perfectly valid argument.

Even though we, the public majority, were stood on the sidelines and laughing at the ridiculous claims of “build that wall” and “lock her up”, we helped to perpetuate these slogans by participating in the mocking. Which, in turn, made his supporters double-down, because they didn’t like being laughed at.

So should the media even be talking about Wohl? Should I even be writing these words? Does it do him more good than it does harm? And is the old adage of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” actually true?

These are a lot of big questions considering the fact that I’ll only be writing for another three-hundred words. And perhaps I’ve done that intentionally, because it’s a complex issue with no correct answer.

Good journalism, true journalism, will try to best inform citizens on the current events of the world. Their job is to present the facts, the data, and to let the crazy speak for itself. I think if these things (Trump campaign, conspiracy theories) are going to happen, then the people need to be made aware of them. It would be even more terrifying if they operated in the dark, and if we couldn’t explain how or why Trump happened.

They definitely need to shift their approach, however. I was impressed by the level of questioning directed at Jacob Wohl at his “press conference”, as they asked about his credentials, his experience as either an investigator or prosecutor (the roles he’s attempting to take on), as well as calling into question the credibility of his claims.

One reporter closed the conference by asking if Wohl and Burkman were ready for federal prison. Which may seem like a flippant question, but fraud and attempting to defame using self-created conspiracy, well, that can land you some serious jail time. You know, if you weren’t a rich white man from New York.

If reporters managed to ask these questions to Sarah Sanders, and if they demanded that she back up the President’s claims with data, facts and statistics, then maybe it wouldn’t be an us vs them shouting match that serves no purpose beyond fuelling Trump’s long-held media mandate.

Maybe it’s because I grew up on him, but I always refer to documentarian Louis Theroux when it comes to getting the truth of a situation from someone. Point a camera, let the crazy speak for itself, spend time with the crazy to show the motives, and then ask questions that reveal just how deep the crazy goes.

I don’t think a continued mocking coverage of situations like Wohl, or the Trump administration are the right answer, but to not cover them at all would also be a mistake. Insects work best when they’re under a rock, and nobody is shining a spotlight on them. Although lately, these cockroaches have appeared immune to rays of truth.


Today is Friday, November 2nd and I’d love to talk, in person, to the sorts of people who blindly believe the words of people like Wohl. I bet they need a hug.

Tip My Jar?

If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

$1.00

Register to Vote!

I’m incredibly proud to live in a state where you can register to vote on the day of an election. That’s right, in Colorado you can still be bugged into voting by people all the way up to (and including) November 6th. This is extremely democratic no matter how you look at it. A strong democracy should do nothing to limit the voice (vote) of the individual citizen.

For some states the voter deadline was as early as yesterday — A whole month before the midterm elections. It’s no surprise that these states are largely Republican strongholds, as they’re the party who’ve done everything in their power for the last fifty years to suppress the votes of anyone who isn’t old or white. Presumably they’d also want to limit the female vote, but requiring extra, mandatory ID cards for “Uterine-Americans” does seem a little obvious.

Better people than myself have discussed the attempts of powerful politicians to limit the voting rights of American citizens, so watch this Last Week Tonight video from a couple of years ago (if you want to), as it has plenty of strong sources and case studies.

My point is that a strong democracy would do anything it could to help its citizens to vote, and being able to register until the day of an election (or at least the week of) is an excellent place to start.

For most states, the deadline to register to vote will be in the next couple of weeks, and I wanted to use my space today to plead a case for democracy.

As a new immigrant in the United States, I can’t vote in this election, or the next one, but maybe the one after that. It’ll be the 2022 midterms before I should be able to use my democratic voice in America for the first time, providing the paperwork goes through in time. So it’ll more likely be the 2024 elections. So, honestly, you should vote simply because I can’t.

I won’t tell you how to vote, because ultimately that should be your decision based on the issues you care about. I’d much rather you voted for a hard-right Republican than not vote at all. Which sounds counterproductive to my own personal ideologies, but it’s true. If you vote then you’re a part of the conversation, and it gives you the right to do that thing we all love to do so much — Complain.

I’m of the opinion that if you don’t vote then you don’t have the right to complain about anything in society that upsets you. If you only care about local issues, then smaller elections (especially during the midterms) are exactly how you can make a difference with fairly minimal effort.

Look to specific plans that local candidates are pushing for — Are those plans something you care about? Then vote for that candidate! The more people who vote in smaller elections, the more pressure that’s then put on the winner to fulfil their promises.

Why don’t we have a giant wall? Why isn’t Hillary in jail? Why haven’t we seen Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate? Well because President Trump lost the popular vote of course!

(Sarcasm, that was sarcasm)

It’s perfectly reasonable to have the opinion that all politicians are a bunch of thieving, lying, arse-holes. Especially as some of them are! If that’s the case then I encourage you to register to vote anyway, and then “spoil your ballot” with a protest vote. Write your opinions on your ballot paper, or simply ruin it by doodling a picture of a giant cat. You’ll still count as someone who voted, and you’ve successfully voiced your displeasure for the current system, as well as your pro-giant cat status.

Obviously there are more constructive ways to change the world, but personally I’d rather you did this than not vote at all. At least this way you can join the public conversation of general disgruntlement and wholeheartedly complain about the current establishment.

amyveep

I’m incredibly passionate about the idea that every vote matters, because it really does. I’ve witnessed a surprising number of recounts in the UK, because an election has come to within fifty or so votes. I’m certain it’ll be the same for some elections in the US. Think about the special election in Alabama last year, Doug Jones beat out alleged pedophile Roy Moore, but only by 1.7% of the votes.

Sure, your state/district might be absolutely safe red or blue, but by voting you help to either keep that seat safe, or to decrease the gap and make politicians worried. And at the very least your vote contributes to national statistics.

For example, if you hadn’t reluctantly voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election (you wanted Bernie, but hey ho) then Trump might’ve won the popular vote as well as the Presidency. Losing the popular vote gave people across the country hope — Hope that sane people still make up the majority. So thanks for voting!

One way to think of voting is that it keeps the tyranny at bay. Some people in office want as few people to vote as possible, so they can pass laws in their own interests. The higher the voter turnout, the greater the pressure.

Despite all of its flaws, I love America. It’s a great experiment of a society and aims to be a shining light for democracy across the world. In recent years however, it feels like it’s slowly losing grip on that goal. America is its people, and that means everyone, not just the wealthy white dudes at the top. The more people who vote, the brighter that light shines.

Please register to vote if you still can, and if you missed the deadline then remember to do it ahead of the 2020 Presidential election. It’s never too late to start caring. Your voice matters because it strengthens democracy and sticks two-fingers to the establishment in the most effective way possible. Wow, voting is punk-rock — It’s DIY, individualistic and you can change the world.

Click here if you haven’t registered, you’ll be helped by a friendly non-partisan website.

I’d love to hear that some of my readers are planning on voting, so comment below to let me know if you are. Also, comment below if you don’t plan on voting — I’d genuinely love to hear why, and I promise I’ll be kind, as I respect your individual choices.


Today is Wednesday, October 10th and I’m half-way through a complete new draft edit of my WIP. I have some feedback and everything is getting brilliantly real.

Tip My Jar?

If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

$1.00

Back to The Good Place

The following jumble of words have been organised into a review of the season three premiere of The Good Place. If you have not seen this episode, or the rest of the show, then come back tomorrow when there’ll be fewer spoilers. I’ll probably write about Trump or Kavanaugh or Brexit — You know, the usual.

Actually before you go, here’s a quick plea — Watch this show. Stop watching whatever you’re currently watching and catch up on The Good Place. The cast are delightful, the writing is near-flawless and it’ll push the limits of what you thought possible of a twenty-two minute sitcom. Also, Ted Danson is better in this than he is in Cheers…okay bye, leave before you can rebut that hot take!

tensiongp

We’re back with Team Cockroach — Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason — only this time they’re on Earth. In an attempt to prove to his superiors that supreme beings need to revamp the way in which human’s are treated in the afterlife, Michael, and his assistant Janet, are running a little experiment. Team Cockroach have been placed back on Earth, right before the moment of their death, where they’ll be saved by a passing stranger (Michael). This provides them all with a near-death experience, that will (hopefully) push them to become good people.

The plan works, for a while, as all four humans turn their lives around. However, remaining a “good person” proves to be difficult, and before long they’re back to their old ways. So Michael intervenes again, with some protest from Janet, and nudges them a little closer together — All so that Team Cockroach can meet on Earth and once again help each other to be better.

All of this while they’re being hunted by a pack of demons for breaking the rules of the bad place — Specifically Micheal, for being the demon who went rogue. But you know that, you’ve seen the show!

suspiciousgif

The transition from the second to third season went a lot smoother than the first to the second. It appears as though Micheal Schur is set on flipping the script on the premise at the end of each season, by jumbling all the chess pieces into a different order, before moving them in roughly the same direction. This helps to keep the show feeling fresh, and both of the soft resets have made sense within the context of the narrative.

Last season felt a little jarring, and it took a few episodes of season two for the show to really feel like itself again. They haven’t faced the same problem this time around, aided in part by the season two finale giving us a little glimpse into what to expect for the third outing. Also because characters are very much behaving like their lovable, imperfect, archetypal selves from the get-go.

Ted Danson continues to give a career-performance, as he expertly blends his brand of sitcom delivery with heartfelt, uplifting monologues. Which isn’t to say that the rest of the cast don’t perform — because oh boy do they. We didn’t get too much of Janet in this episode, which is always a shame, as her arc as a computerised super-being slowly becoming more human is one of the most compelling on the show. Adam Scott’s character has returned, however, and we always need more Adam Scott on our screens.

adamscott

We’re introduced to new character, Simone, a researcher and neuroscientist from Chidi’s university who plans on helping Team Cockroach on their journey to becoming better people, by showing them the science-side of their near-death experiences. Her and Chidi hit it off instantly, leading to an incredibly cute scene inside of an MRI.

Eleanor encourages them to start dating, as she sees the overflowing chemistry between the two — Which is gut-wrenching for us viewers, who know that once Eleanor and Chidi become close in a timeline, they’re a great match for each other.

Still, it’s proof that Eleanor is fundamentally a good person, and I for one can’t wait until she’s promoted to the position of “God” or “Supreme Afterlife Guardian” by the end of the entire show.

Jameela Jamil, who plays the egocentric Tahani, continues to be the biggest surprise of The Good Place. Although at this point, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised anymore. Despite only recently venturing into the world of acting, Jamil was born to play the role of Tahani. Her opening Vogue-style web-interview is one of the best character reintroductions I’ve ever seen, and her celebrity name-drops are already on-form.

The highlight for Jason came as he bore his soul at a harbour in Jacksonville. Being the dimwitted member of Team Cockroach, Jason is quietly and innocently the most good-hearted of the group. We finally see the urban dance-crew he organises and manages, and although they all still resort to a life of crime, he’s genuinely trying to be a good person to the best of his abilities.

allalonggp

Nearly every element of The Good Place works to perfection, and as long as Schur has a clear ending planned, then this may well go down as one of the greatest cult sitcoms of all time.

It’s an enjoyable ride with a likeable cast, so no matter what happens I’m in for the long-hall. However, once the show comes to a conclusion (whenever that may be, I can think of a premise for season four and five, but any more than that might be pushing it) we’ll be able to fully judge the overall narrative. I’ve been burned by too many shows with a meandering story that eventually lead to nowhere.

It’s the little things that make The Good Place so good…place; The subtle world-building, the forking curse-words, secondary characters for days, genuine philosophical lessons and Schur’s trademark reaction-shots.

The season three opener matched the overall quality of the show, so I can’t wait to see where Team Cockroach will go next.


Today is Tuesday, October 2nd and the days are getting darker. This is both a positive and a negative; Find balance in all things.

Tip My Jar?

If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

$1.00

Trying Marvel Movies

I don’t think I’ve ever been a fan of superhero movies. Even thinking back to my childhood, I didn’t have superhero toys or costumes. At most I watched a VHS of Batman Forever on repeat, but that hardly constitutes being a fan of the genre.

I haven’t been completely under a rock, I’ve seen a lot of superhero movies in the last fifteen years — Voluntary or otherwise. I remember enjoying Spiderman 2 (the first time they did a sequel), Batman Begins and a few of the X-Men movies. In recent years I’ve enjoyed Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy, Incredibles 2 and…maybe that’s it?

Avengers: Age of Ultron was the last Marvel superhero flick I saw in cinema, and it was my breaking point for the whole franchise. Up until I saw that film I could gleefully pass the entire genre off as useless but enjoyable popcorn movies, but then they shoved lots of people onto the screen and tried to make me care about it by pointing at themselves and going “Look! It’s Slenderman! Or Grime-Boy! Or Jimmy Jon!” Or whatever all the superheroes are called.

So I’ve missed out on a lot of the Marvel movies, and now I have a very specific conversation every three months with friends and family.

“Have you seen LATEST MARVEL BLOCKBUSTER?!”

“No I haven’t seen it.”

“Oh well — it’s really cool when SUPERHERO DOES THING, oh wait — do you care about spoilers?”

“No, I don’t plan on seeing it.”

“Well you really should, because it changes the game for IMPORTANT FRANCHISE.”

In the last year people have told me that I’d actually enjoy a couple of the new Marvel movies, those being Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther. I didn’t believe the first person who suggested them — because it was the guy installing my internet and that was weird thing for him to say out of the blue — but when everyone started to recommend the same two movies for me I thought I best watch them. I mean, I’ve had a three-year hiatus from Marvel, what’s the worst that could happen?

theworstthor

Let’s start with Thor: Ragnarok, a film I was told I would like because it’s a comedy (thumbs up) and it’s directed by the always brilliant Taika Waititi (double thumbs-up). I was told that it’s “not like other Marvel movies”, “it’s really funny” and that “you definitely don’t need to have seen all the other Marvel movies to know what’s happening”.

*grits teeth and sucks in air*

Oh man, this is tough, because people seem to genuinely like these films for some reason. As though they’re the best films they’ve ever experienced in their life or something, so I feel awful saying bad things about them and then justifying them with appropriate evidence.

Okay, I’ll start with the positives from this movie. The rock guy (played by Waititi) and Jeff Goldblum’s character were exactly what I expected from the film described to me. They were the only two people with lines that made me laugh and had they been the primary companion and antagonist of this film I think I may have genuinely enjoyed it.

The hour of this movie that they spent on Grandmaster’s planet was fun to watch. Apart from all the Thor/Hulk stuff that you clearly needed to see other films to have a better understanding. Oh and the Thor/Loki stuff that didn’t make any sense. The antagonist from this first movie who keeps trying to betray you at every turn is being kept alive just because he’s your brother? Yet you’re all ready to go kill your sister for doing the exact same thing? Don’t get me started on sexism in the Marvel franchise, of entitled boys in suits saving the world…

I can already feel myself getting angry at the plot, so let’s talk about that. Right at the start of the movie Thor tells us that he always gets in these scrapes but manages to come out alright in the end. Fine, as long as this film remains a straight-up comedy and they don’t attempt fake threat and emotion throughout, then this will — and… they did, they did exactly that.

If you have a line like that, why am I supposed to care what dramatically happens to these people? I know they’re all going to survive because of what Thor said, (apart from the one new guy who’s always introduced in a Marvel film and then killed off so they don’t kill a franchise player), so why threaten me with peril? When they returned to Asgard and had the audacity to act as though they wouldn’t win, it was a real “walk out of the cinema” moment for me.

Also — and this is just a sidenote — why doesn’t Doctor Strange solve everything? Or do villains not fall for his magic tricks? And if not, what’s the point of him? How did Loki survive the burning city? Why didn’t Cate Blanchett even try to act? Can Thor only use thunder now that his father is dead? Can Marvel make a movie without a shoehorned classic rock song?

So many questions, no answers within the film. Maybe if Waititi had written the screenplay as well then this could’ve been decent, but he didn’t, it was written by three people! A story by committee is not a story, it’s a sketch show. And eight laughs in one-hundred and thirty minutes does not a sketch show make.

blackpanther

On the other hand, Black Panther, I genuinely enjoyed. I was worried for the first hour that it was going to be like any other superhero movie, but as soon as the South-African villain was killed, and the story became more about family and a culture war than it did about the threat to the wider, faceless world (which was still there but I found it easy to ignore), I could really sink my teeth into it.

The world building was far more interesting, maybe because it was butchering a culture that I know absolutely nothing about, instead of riding the coattails of Norse mythology but getting it all wrong in the process. Or maybe it played to the culture well, I couldn’t possibly say. What I do know is that dream-sequences through sinking into sand, direct parallels to the anxieties and dangers of modern society, and strong characters that aren’t just the same white dudes I’ve been watching for twenty-five years — Those are all things I want from a mindless action movie.

In the last hour of Black Panther I actually forgot I was watching a Marvel superhero movie, as it just felt like a regular sci-fi/action flick. They’d subtly set-up small details for the third act, and everything came to personal dramatic conclusions that felt emotional and meaningful.

Do I want to see a sequel? Not really — That’s part of the problem I have with these franchises. Just leave things alone and allow them to be remembered fondly. Although, I know how important a movie like Black Panther is to the black community, so maybe true equality is milking every cash-cow to the point of a “terrible” 70% on Rotten Tomatoes, a “measly” 1.5 billion dollars, followed by a reboot? Yeah! Mediocrity for everyone!

simpsonscheer

I tried, I really did — I just don’t think these movies are meant for me. Maybe you had to have been either a fan or a child when all of these films started, and I was just caught in the middle of all of that. Too old to enjoy them, too young to remember the Saturday-morning cartoons and original comic books.

I guess I’ll watch another couple of Marvel films in 2022 or something. When they start rebooting them all for the third time.


Today is Thursday, September 20th and watch what you like, like what you like, but believe that your blockbusters can be better.

Tip My Jar?

If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

$1.00

Writing is Rewriting

Hello again to any and all people who read these words on this particular corner of the internet. I did what I set out to do and finished the first draft of my book last week! It took a little over eleven weeks in total, which isn’t as fast as I would like for a first draft, but is faster than I’ve written anything in the past — so onwards and upwards.

And so begins the process of rereading, rewriting, editing, cutting, pasting, hacking, slashing, chopping, felling — I may have started typing about being a lumberjack. Note to self Matt; You’re writing a young-adult dystopian novel and not taking an axe to wood in order to build a cabin.

That’s a 2019 goal.

lumberjack

I’m sure writers will be able to relate to the simultaneous feelings of accomplishment and anxiety; The two As. I could’ve thrown ‘achievement’ in there too, to round it off at three As, but really it’s too synonymous with ‘accomplishment’ to even consider — So it’s 2 As and that’s the last I want to hear on the matter, okay?

Sorry, that was a little aggressive. It’s the duel sense of accomplishment and anxiety that has me all on-edge. I find myself wanting to celebrate; Not because I deserve to have some R&R time, but in order to avoid rereading all 98,876 words.

Even though this is my most well-rounded, straight-up story to date — Which manages to be a genre piece with modern social commentary, all without losing the integrity of my own “voice” — I’m still nervous to go back to that first chapter. Don’t worry, I’m absolutely going to, just as soon as I finish typing these words.

I’m excited to revisit some parts because I know how I’m going to “fix” them. I stuck to my basic plan throughout the writing process, but made a few improvised improvements along the way. So I’m looking forward to revisiting earlier chapters in which I can better telegraph those future-events.

The main problem is that I’m worried I’m going to have author-blindness (not a medical term), where I’ll read through a chapter and decide that 80% of it is fine just because I stuck to the original story structure. Sure, I’ll change a few adjectives here, and a few lines of dialogue somewhere else — but should I be scrapping most of the chapter to try and write it all better?

I don’t have the answers to any of the anxious questions swimming around my skull, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out along the way. I’ve only ever seriously edited and scrutinised screenplays I’ve written. I wrote a feature film for my final project at university and I remember spending the better part of a year redrafting and rewriting the one-hundred-some pages until much of the dialogue (of a dialogue-heavy movie) was completely different.

It doesn’t feel as though I’ll be doing that with this novel as much — and I don’t know if that’s right or wrong. Or if there even is a right or wrong answer beyond — “just get it done and make it better than it was last time”.

A positive is it still feels like a story that people other than myself would want to read. It’s still a dystopian novel, set under an authoritarian government, in a boarding school at which students must use VR to attend lessons. Our teen protagonists have to combat threats from the regime, and uncover secrets which may put a stop to the death and violence of the real world, all while they attempt to have a “normal” education in the virtual one.

At least, that’s what I currently have drafted in an email to send to literary agencies, as soon as I’ve reached a point where I’m happy with the 98,876 words I currently have (final word-count subject to change, refunds available on request).

I love the world I’ve created, and I love the obvious-yet-subtle allegorical meaning — Obvious to an adult, but slightly less obvious to a young adult. Actually, that’s disrespectful to my target audience, young people are extremely perceptive. I’m just going to leave the above words in so that this paragraph feels more conversational — and so I can hit my 1,000 blog words for the day and crack on with my editing.

I like the punchy start and high-impact end. I don’t like all of the clunky, slightly meandering plot in the middle. It does feel as though I’m treading water once or twice, so a lot of that will have to change. But then again, the downtime and schoolwork is a part of the juxtaposition between the real and virtual worlds — so, who knows?

I’m sure it’ll all be fine, if I keep putting the hours in then it’ll eventually turn out alright, readable and maybe even (dare I say it) — good.

chancewouldbe

Oh wow, I cannot wait to write about certain things on this blog over the next week. I’ve really got some catching up to do on world events — I picked a bad week to take a break from these morning warm-up posts.

Burning shoes…Nike ads…Whitehouse source…Brett Kavanaugh…Elon Musk…No-deal fears…Woodward book — I feel like I’m in a flippin’ Billy Joel song!

“We didn’t start the shoe fires, they were always burning, get the racists learning.”

Or, you know — better.

Okay, that’s enough, I’ll write about something proper tomorrow, spew my thoughts on some societal event before beginning the cycle all over again.

To any writers who’re still writing their first-drafts — If I can do it, you can too, keep plugging away and before you know it you’ll have it finished and you can join me at the two As.
To any writers who’re now editing a WIP — I feel your pain, so let us feel this pain together in an attempt to lessen the overall burden of reshaping our work.
To any writers who’ve finished their WIPs and are now querying — You’re amazing and an inspiration to us all. I’ll call you in a couple of months for advice though, yeah?


Today is Monday, September 10th and I’m having a lot of fun learning how to record and edit podcasts.

Tip My Jar?

If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

$1.00

 

 

Bake-Off — Hard Bakes, Easy Watch

Bake-Off fever is running at the appropriate temperature at which to perfectly bake a sponge cake, with a new series underway in the homeland, and last year’s series arriving tomorrow on US Netflix.

The Great British Bake-Off is the easiest reality show watch in the history of the genre. You won’t find yourself screaming at the contestants, unless they leave a baked-good in the oven for too long. Which, in the grand scheme of life’s mistakes, you can’t really be mad at them for. They burned a biscuit, they didn’t kill a dude.

There’s no hate-watching of the contestants, as most are likeable from the get-go. Those that seem a bit odd at first, often reveal more endearing sides in the future — unless they’re eliminated, of course. The only time I expressed a negative reaction towards any of the contestants, was when one revealed himself as a banker. But then he baked something delicious looking and all his sins were forgiven.

They have the token grandmother figure, who always makes it to the halfway-point but rarely wins; One woman who already looks as though she’s released a line of cookery books and has clear media experience; A man with a moustache that curls at the end, who can’t ride horses; A French woman, who lives in London, before you start pointing out the name of the show; And a Northern lad, who’s just happy to be there.

It’s too early to pick a winner, but typically you have to prove yourself to be marketable enough to sell a baking book. They don’t explicitly state this from the outset, but the implications are there. Sorry to bring a dash of cynicism to the Bake-Off tent, but to be fair, that’s about all I can conjure.

noelsandi

Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig have returned as hosts for their second-season, after replacing the duo of Mel and Sue last year. Their pairing was the biggest question-mark of last year’s show, but they silenced critics within the first few weeks.

Both of them are proven funny-people, but hosting Bake-Off requires an awful lot of empathy. Last year Sandi cried almost every episode, and the anarchic Noel knows when to bring it down a few levels. Their chemistry is natural, despite the fact that they’ve only worked together on panel shows in the past.

According to secret Bake-Off sources, Noel pitched the idea for a vegan baking week this time around, and we’ll be seeing it later in the series. At this point, nine seasons into the run, I’m glad they’re still able to come-up with some new themed episodes. The favourites will all be back of course, with the entire country on the edge of their seats, waiting for pastry week; Napkin in hand to mop up the contents from any over-active salivary glands, and a pastry-chef on speed-dial.

That’s the one down-side to watching Bake-Off — There aren’t enough cakes and biscuits in existence to satiate the desire to eat whilst watching. 90% of items produced on the show look delicious, and you wouldn’t throw the remaining 10% in the bin.

The problem is, if you prepare for the show in advance by making sure your cupboards are stocked with baked products, you run the risk of finishing the ten-week run of the show in a worse position than when you started. Sure, you might feel happier, having consumed ten weeks of the most wholesome show on television — but then you look in the mirror for the first time in months, and realise where all of the cakes and biscuits have gone.

Well, I don’t, because I have an over-active metabolism, but I’m sure that’s how everyone else feels. Oh boy do I love eating these delicious french pastries every morning — sorry, excuse me — crumbs.

makingit2

We’re currently consuming America’s version of a “soft” reality-competition show, in the form of NBC’s Making It. It follows a very similar formula to Bake-Off, although the judges constantly try to push the competition element as though it’s a traditional form of the genre.

Personally, I hope we see more of these reality shows in the coming years. I think this form is a response to the increased amount of hate and negativity in our societies, compared to even five years ago. In a world of Brexit, Trump, mass-shootings and natural disasters — the last thing we want to do is spend our down-time hate-watching something.

Our entire lives are currently one giant hate-watch — so therefore our entertainment needs to be light, warm and welcoming. Production companies could even revive and reboot older formats, but give them a more positive and nurturing spin. It’s not sugar-coating, it’s simply the escapism we need right now.

As I wrap-up this morning’s ramble, I have a little surprise for you. I’ve received a leaked list of baked-goods that will be made on this season of Bake-Off. Hopefully it’ll help you to have the right ingredients in stock, so you can make some of your own. You’re quite welcome, that’s so nice of you to say!

Now, to any of my non-British readers, some of these are quite traditional and region-specific, so you may not have heard of them.

So here’s the list of dessert items we’ll see baked this season, in no particular order:

  • Arctic Pudding
  • Battenbilge
  • Hampshire Buns
  • Speckled Cock
  • Drop Pie
fakedessert3
Battenbilge

  • Salmon Sponge
  • Vol-au-vol-au-vonts
  • Silly Pork Pies
  • Caramac Crackerjack
  • Crispy Splippits
fakedessert
Crispy Splippits

  • Moist Boys
  • Rounded Raisin Fancy Balls
  • Queen’s Park Trifle
  • Slippy Mistresses
  • Hartlepool Ham-Jam Pan Flan
fakedessert4
Moist Boys

  • Egg Flaps
  • Fat Scamps
  • Sir Milton’s Fingers
  • Downton Cake
  • Made-Up Mess
fakedessert
Downton Cake

I cannot wait to see this year’s contestants make these! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to eat a whole plate of Fat Scamps. Mmm — Delicious!


Today is Thursday, August 30th and as of this evening I’ve been in America for one full calendar year.

Tip My Jar?

If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

$1.00