Category Archives: Film

buy the ticket, take your turn

It’s another one of those round up posts, like in the Before Times! Also, my silly choice to do that outrageous 90s theme (I bet you are all going to miss the dancing baby) has served its purpose, and now we are back to something a bit more readable.

Let’s get started with this thing from my Facebook:

So the phrase “you have too much time on your hands” came across my event horizon, as a response to a silly thing I did to amuse myself. I’ve heard this for my entire life, and every few years, I write a post like this about it. This is a slightly edited version of my response.

I doubt very much you mean to be hurtful when you say this. It’s just a silly thing you say, like “tell us how you really feel”. It doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a little joke.

About that. This is one of the most insulting, degrading, things a creative person can hear. We have all kinds of fun making something, and we put it into the world, and “you have too much time on your hands” devalues our creative experience. It’s another way of saying “don’t you have anything better to do?” Actually, dad, I don’t. This is exactly what I wanted to do with my time and energy.

I had exactly the right amount of time to make whatever the thing is. I choose to invest my time in doing something amusing, or silly, or whatever. “You have too much time” implies that this was a waste of the time I have, time that should have been spent doing something else, rather than the thing I chose to make, because it made me feel good to do that.

I am so confident that most people who say this don’t mean to be hurtful, and if you’re one of them, I hope you’ll hear me, as a creative person who has been dismissed like that his whole life, when I tell you how hurtful and insulting these words are. Don’t take my word for it, listen to all the other creative people who will reply to this, if they choose to share their experiences.

I’m not calling you out. I’m not putting you on blast, and I’ll ban anyone who brigades or attacks you. I’m just taking this moment to share this for you and anyone else who doesn’t want to be hurtful in the future. A teaching moment.

We don’t have too much time. In fact, nearly every creative person you ever talk to will tell you that we don’t have enough time. Please don’t dismiss us or the stuff we make.

Thanks for listening 🙂

NB: Facebook is bad for civilization. There is a future coming where someone researches and produces data which will show how absolutely destructive the whole damn thing is. There is a future where social media as it exists today is looked at the way my generation looks at DDT. We cannot believe it was ever a Thing, and the people who were poisoning us knew it all along. Facebook and Twitchan are a catastrophe for democracy and marginalized people. I can’t wait for the day to arrive when all of social media is regulated like tobacco and alcohol, and gets broken up into some parts that are less predatory and dangerous.

I just want to amplify my dear friend who is not here for anyone’s bullshit:

Okay. Let’s step out of that place and into something more fun!

I’ve wanted to round up some of the TV I’ve been watching:

Holy shit The Last Of Us is perfect. Flawless. Worth the entire subscription.

Netflix’s 1899 went from “interesting, compelling” to “steampunk LOST” so fast I gave up halfway through. The era of “weird for the sake of being weird, style over substance, vague hints of story instead of real character development, and we’ll sort of loosely wrap it up eventually” cannot end fast enough. Honestly, it should have died with Charlie. RIP Charlie.

Conversely, I had to force myself to not binge Wednesday, Brand New Cherry Flavor, The English, The Recruit, and Sandman. Highly recommend all of them.

This morning, I read a horrifying story of AI being used to determine child welfare cases in Pennsylvania.

The Justice Department has been scrutinizing a controversial artificial intelligence tool used by a Pittsburgh-area child protective services agency following concerns that it could result in discrimination against families with disabilities, The Associated Press has learned.

The interest from federal civil rights attorneys comes after an AP investigation revealed potential bias and transparency issues about the opaque algorithm that is designed to assess a family’s risk level when they are reported for child welfare concerns in Allegheny County.


Algorithms use pools of information to turn data points into predictions, whether that’s for online shopping, identifying crime hot spots or hiring workers. Many child welfare agencies in the U.S. are considering adopting such tools as part of their work with children and families.

Though there’s been widespread debate over the moral consequences of using artificial intelligence in child protective services, the Justice Department’s interest in the pioneering Allegheny algorithm marks a significant turn toward possible legal implications.

Supporters see algorithms as a promising way to make a strained child protective services system both more thorough and efficient, saying child welfare officials should use all tools at their disposal to make sure children aren’t maltreated. But critics worry that including data points collected largely from people who are poor can automate discrimination against families based on race, income, disabilities or other external characteristics.

(bolding is mine)

This was timely, as I just watched this short from Aperture about Algorithms a couple days ago.

tl;dr: algorithms are inherently racist, classist, and not at all neutral because the data used to train them is largely drawn from a system that has elevated the opportunities and privileges of CIS white men. It’s appalling.

Let’s stay at YouTube for a minute, because I said this was going to be fun.

I didn’t know about The Electric State until I saw this video. I bought it, and Tales from the Loop, immediately. If you like the things I like, I know you will be entranced by this video and the book that it talks about.

It’s going to be a movie? I just saw that when I looked for a link to the publisher’s page. Hmm. I hope they do it justice. I hear they missed the mark with Tales from the Loop, but I haven’t watched it yet so take that with a grain of highly radioactive 236 U.

We are so lucky to be on this planet at the same time as John Green.

Also, I noticed a Still Just A Geek coffee mug in the background of one of Hank Green’s videos and I’m not gonna lie: I squeed with extreme delight.

One last YouTube mention. I can’t get enough of CGPGrey. I don’t know anything about them, except that their brain is amazing.

This video is about choosing a theme for yourself, like “my theme for this month is reading.” or “my theme for this month is mindfulness.” The idea is to help us build on little successes that fit into a broad theme, rather than setting a single goal and feeling like a failure if we don’t complete it to our liking.

My theme since I turned 50 has been self care and gratitude. I’m spending all kinds of time working on healing my cptsd and trauma, and I’m showing up for myself every day to support that. I’m making a choice to work on specific things in therapy (EMDR has changed my life), and then do the hard work in between sessions to build on the insights I’ve gotten from my therapist.

I felt this fundamental shift beneath my feet last week. This HUGE thing changed in me. It’s so big, I can’t see all of it, you know? Like, I can just see this small part of it that I let go of, and until I get farther away from it, I won’t know what all of it is. I feel so good, so unburdened, that I have spent substantial time being suspicious of it. I legit wondered if I was manic, but after talking with my therapist, I’m pretty sure what I’m feeling is the lack of generalized anxiety that has defined my life for so long I didn’t realize it was there. “This is water,” as they say.

If you only take one thing away from this post: work on your shit. It’s worth it. YOU are worth it. And I’m going to tell you something that’s going to be upsetting: all your friends know you are lying to yourself, and to them, about your mental health. We can’t do anything to support and help you until you choose to be honest and do that incredibly hard work that is so terrifying.

In the land of music, I can’t believe how much I like Miley Cyrus’ new song, Flowers. I love her smoky voice and “fuck you I’m fabulous” attitude.

If you love 90s ambient like I do, I have a happy place for you to visit.

I’ve been listening to Alkaline Trio, Taking Back Sunday, Get Up Kids, Ataris, and all that fabulous early 2000s stuff we all associate with Warped Tour. Yes, I made a playlist at Spotify.

Speaking of, I had no idea that Spotify used so much shitty compression, until my son pointed it out to me with a side by side comparison to Apple Music. The difference between the two is astounding. Real quick: I hate Apple. Their UI is the worst. Their design is stupid and non-intuitive. Oh, how I hate iTunes. And Apple’s refusal to use open standards in messaging can get fucked.

But Apple Music is remarkable (The Linux client, cider, is amazing). The lossless sound is so much better than the over compressed shit Spotify squirts into my ears, and I had no idea until I put them side by side. Spotify is like putting a wet paper sack over your speakers, by comparison. Once you hear the difference, it’s real hard to go back.

Too bad Spotify didn’t invest in sound quality like they did in centering and spotlighting a conspiracy theorist. This is the year I let my membership expire.

Okay, last thing: I searched high and low for a really solid RSS reader that wasn’t full of crap. I eventually settled on Fluent Reader. You can grab the Appimage here, if you’re a Linux user like me.

Oh look the morning is behind me and now I’m late for work. Which will happen in a virtual desktop two clicks over, where I’m writing a brand new thing.

all the small things

I have learned my lesson and am composing this in an offline text editor (xed for those who care.)

Back in the old days, we’d do these posts that collected a bunch of stuff that didn’t fit anywhere else. This is one of those.

Night Mind has a couple of new videos out! There’s a new Backrooms post, and a new Mandela Catalog post that are in my queue.

Yesterday, I cleared a lot of debt off the books that Wil From The Past had accrued. I put clothes away, I did the dishes, I went through half a dozen bags and boxes of stuff that I brought home from conventions this year. The biggest thing I did, the thing that most fun and most satisfying, was cleaning my game room from floor to ceiling. I got out the dusting thing and the furniture polish and the fancy vacuum, and I went to work. It took a couple hours, but with the constant companionship of Bony Danza and the occasional visit from Marlowe, those hours flew by. The air is lighter, the protective layer of dust did its job and the bookcases look great.

If you follow my Instagram stories, you’ve seen my high score posts from my arcade machines, right? You know that I have two different multicade machines, and one of them is the “hard” machine. I play Mr. Do! on both machines, and though I’ve always scored higher on the easy machine, playing the higher difficulty is generally more satisfying. I haven’t played much for the last few months (Cyberpunk 2077 attached itself to the Skyrim receptors in my brain and spent 194 hours there), so it was shocking to me that when I sat down for my first game in a long time, I locked into some kind of symbiotic groove with the game and ended up recording my highest high score of all time! ON THE HARD MACHINE!

…or so I thought until I looked at my high score on the easy machine last night, which is 2000 points higher. I left WAY more than 2000 points on the board during my unexpected run. Damn.

I’m doing a TON of Donkey Kong again, too. I’m working on this piece that Donkey Kong is central to, and I desperately want to talk about it, but I’m gonna hold that back so I’m motivated to finish it. (Level 4 elevators though. Fuck me am I right?)

I can’t recall the last thing I made that brought me as much joy as creating Bert Flag.

ANYway, back to cleaning. I can’t recall, specifically, how it happened, where it started, but I ended up listening to a whole bunch of early 2000s pop punk and stuff while I unfucked the game room. After I’d shared I think three or four tracks on my Instagram stories, I just went ahead and made a little playlist for anyone who feels that need to put Warped Tour from around 2004 into their ear holes. As I wrote in the description, it’s an incomplete snapshot of a very specific moment in my life, and it makes me happier to listen to than I ever would have expected. Feel free to use it as the foundation for your own curated memories.

Speaking of early pop punk … I have to admit that in the early aughts, the part of me that is a First Wave Punk and Hardcore Kid was mildly disdainful to entirely dismissive of pretty much that entire genre. I felt like it wasn’t serious, that it was about girls and cars instead of ending systemic oppression and fucking shit up. I mean, I wasn’t entirely wrong, but WOW did that guy I was miss out on a lot of fun times as a consequence of that foolishness. As a 50 year-old (nope. still doesn’t feel okay to say that.) I can absolutely ADORE all of it, accept it on its own terms, and allow it to exist alongside Bad Religion and Dead Kennedys. I wish I’d had this maturity when I could have seen all these acts live, in their prime. Well, live and learn and always pick up anyone who falls down in the pit.

Anne took this picture of Marlowe and me while we were both sleeping.

Anne and I went to the hockey game last night, and watched the Kings win a game they were supposed to win, which has not been the case as often as it should be this season. I posted a picture from the game like I do, and OF COURSE some dickhead needed to show us his whole ass because we each wear a mask when we are indoors, in public.

I know why this is a whole stupid thing, but I don’t understand it. Yes, dipshit McFuckface made it all political because he is a fuckface, and the single-celled organisms that worship him are dying as fast as they can to own the Libs by deliberately exposing themselves to infectious diseases. (Great job, y’all. I feel SO OWNED.) But I can’t wrap my head around being so fucking stupid that you deliberately make yourself and your family less safe, to make a point that the people you are trying to own could not care less about. I can’t wrap my head around choosing to believe a Fox News personality over an actual doctor or scientist with an actual degree and actual experience and expertise. I just … wow. These people are why there are warnings printed on everything.

So, since I’m already here, I’m going to say this so I can refer to when this happens next time I share a picture of us inside a public place:

When I wear a mask in an indoor public space, I’m not making a political statement. I’m making a choice to protect my health and the health of my family. I’m listening to the advice of experts who are better informed and educated than all of us.

A political statement is something like, “Republicans are fascists and domestic terrorists who don’t care if you die as long as they have power.” Putting on a mask when it’s recommended by every expert who works with public health has nothing to do with my endless contempt and disgust for right wing garbage. Read that as many times as you need to, until you understand the difference.

I realize that it’s VERY important to a lot of extremely stupid people that masking be part of the culture war they’ve been losing my entire lifetime. That’s pathetic, they are pathetic, and I could not care less what they think about me and my personal health choices.

It is a massive waste of time and energy to engage with these people, who only want to waste my time, and yours. I just block them and delete their bullshit, so they have more time to spend with their increasingly worthless not-NFTs.

I wrote this a month ago. It went semiviral. I want it here to be part of my personal, historical record.

Can you believe it’s Solstice already? If December crept up on me, Solstice jumped out from behind a hedge and shouted BLESSED YULE MOTHER FUCKER!

I walked Marlowe this morning, and maybe it’s the Yule in the air, but my neighbors were all extra friendly and chatty. I felt … well, I know that I live in a community, right? I know that, intellectually, but I really felt it, and it was just great.

I’m gonna wrap this up with a couple of media recommendations. Anne and I loved Wednesday and The English. We are about halfway through 1899 (loving it) and just started The Recruit (more fun than I expected). I finished my full rewatch of the first eight seasons of The Simpsons (it falls apart for me right at the beginning of S09 and never recovers) late last week. There are a few clunkers, but the worst one is still more entertaining than anything produced during the Zombie Simpsons era.

Okay, Blaine Gretzky needs to get out on the ice, so I’m gonna elbow and send this. Stay healthy, friends. Remember to be kind; everyone is going through something. And rest in Peace, Grimey.

in which i discover analog horror

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with the paranormal and the occult. I did not believe any of it was real, but I still loved it. I loved how the show In Search Of put this very respectable, credible sort of mask on, and winked at the audience, like, “Listen, we all know this isn’t real. But … what if it was? What if we all agreed to pretend that it was?”

Jack Palance was so intense on Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, it was like he dared you to not believe it. It was so great, that stuff. I just loved it. The Time Life Books series you already know I’m talking about before you even look at the link if you’re my generation was also a favorite. In the early days of the Internet, I just about died when I found all the regional urban legends on usenet that never made it to my little part of Los Angeles County.

I saw Blair Witch in the theater. I lurked on unfiction for what feels like ages back before the server blew up like Ricky’s mom. I watched so many found footage movies when they were just this low budget way to make indies, there was nothing left to surprise me when they went mainstream (though I was thrilled for the creators and the genre). I loved Marble Hornets so much, I tracked down like a 200 page PDF all about the Slenderman mythos that existed at the time, and I printed it out so I could make my own notes in it.

And until recently, it’s all just sort of fallen off my radar. I blame … *gestures broadly at everyfuckingthing*.

But when I came across Night Mind recently, it all came back. All the fun of pretending it’s real, with other people who are also pretending it’s real, while we all agree not to talk about how it isn’t real … oh man it just scratches this very specific itch that I didn’t even realize I had until I was scratching it. The SCP and EAS videos are just fantastic.

For the last minute or so, I’ve been channel surfing around Night Mind, Nexpo, and a few of those “people who watched this also watched” channels.

It’s one of those channels that surprised me and legit scared the evershittingfuck out of me last night.

Last night, I spent the evening watching analog horror videos on YouTube. I love the familiar, nostalgic, VHS feeling. I love remembering, from the safety of 49, how I felt every single time I heard the Emergency Broadcast System when I was 9 and a Cold War Kid. I don’t know what the modern day equivalent of walking into a room lit only by the static from a TV with no signal that you are positive you turned off an hour ago is, but if you know in your guts what I just described, that’s how these videos make me feel. It’s fantastic.

This is where I reveal that, until about 36 hours ago, I had not heard of “analog horror“. I hope you still respect me.

So, the story these videos and their creators are telling is genuinely frightening. Some real bad shit is happening with the moon and the television and even though I haven’t paused it to look, I just know there’s all sorts of creepy shit in the static. The way they are telling their story is impressive to me for a million reasons, technical and creative.

I think I watched three of them from this channel (they’re all very short, just a couple minutes each). Then they get to this video that slowly begins to feel familiar as I watch it. By the end of the first minute, that familiar feeling has become a memory. I have absolutely seen this before. But that’s impossible, because I didn’t know this video, this channel, or even this genre existed until breakfast yesterday morning!

I make this agreement with myself when I watch these channels, that’s essentially the same agreement we make when we play an ARG or engage with unfiction in any way: I know it isn’t real, but I’m going to pretend it’s real, and we aren’t going to talk about how it isn’t real. So my head is in a VERY PARTICULARLY RECEPTIVE AND VULNERABLE PLACE as this video WHICH I HAVE NEVER SEEN BUT TOTALLY REMEMBER plays out in front of me.

The video is tense and unnerving and unsettling on its own. But this unreal, impossible, yet undeinably real memory of seeing it before makes it feel like I am now inside one of these creepypasta shorts I’ve been watching. Somehow this specific video has also come out of my head and jumped into the computer in front of me and now this memory that I can not possibly have is clearly existing in my head and also on this video and I gotta tell you, bob, it isn’t great.

There’s a flash on the screen and I am already looking at exactly the right place to see the entity I know will be there. There has been nothing in this video so far that would lead anyone who hasn’t seen it to expect an entity. WHAT THE FUCK HOW DO I KNOW ANY OF THIS WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON.

The video plays for about another thirty seconds and then it ends.

I say, out loud, in my empty game room, “What the fuck.” And then the credits roll.

Oh. Okay. This all make sense, now, and I can breathe again. It’s made by Kris Straub, who I’ve known for years. I am a huge fan of Kris’s Candle Cove and Ichor Falls. Then I see that the video is from an idea by Mikey Neumann, who I have done many outstanding creative projects with over the years and love like family.

Mikey and Kris made this video forever ago, and sent it to me before it was uploaded anywhere. In all of the *gestures broadly at everyfuckingthing* of the last few years, I had completely forgotten about it. Like, the part of my brain where it lived was not reformatted, but absolutely marked as “available for storage” in my mental fstab.

I did that loud, nervous, I’m-so-glad-I-didn’t-die-I-really-thought-I-was-going-to-die laugh that we’re all familiar with for reasons none of us want to remember. Then I was like, “Okay. Okay. Well done, Mysterious Person Who Is Writing My Life. You just gave me the first good scare I’ve had in a long, long time.”

The series is called Local 58, and so is the channel, which is what I had been watching when I saw the video that made me metaphorically shit my pants. I am so glad I found it, and all the other channels like it that it either inspired, or was inspired by. This is fun, this stuff. This storytelling is doing the exact same thing for me in 2022 that the original analog horror did for me in 1982. I have just started Gemini Home Entertainment, (I know it’s not precisely the same but this Omega Mart training video is great,) and I haven’t even done the Night Mind Deep Dive into Local 58, which I know will open new doors for me to peek through.

As I am someone who is habitually late to every party, I’m sure there’s a ton of good stuff out there in this genre for me to discover. If there’s an analog horror series or creator you love who I haven’t linked to here, link them in a comment, if you want. I’m so interested to see what’s out there.

The Backrooms and Night Mind

A few months ago, I started watching YouTube channels every night before bed. Mostly, it’s been explorations of abandoned places, histories of video games and 80s pop culture, and all sorts of weird amusement park stuff that I never thought I’d love, but can’t get enough of.

At some point, I came across a channel called Night Mind. This dude does magnificent deep dives into all sorts of Internet Weirdness, with a focus on ARGs and unfiction. In fact, the first video posted to the channel is all about my first and favorite creepypasta YouTube series, Marble Hornets.

Real quick: Shortly after the Slender Man myth was created, some brilliant filmmakers took the idea and ran with it to create their own found footage series. I’d never seen anything like it, and I was OBSESSED. It was called Marble Hornets and it ran for three seasons. You have probably divided yourselves into two groups, now. Half of you are like OMG MARBLE HORNETS I LOVED THAT and the other half are like I have no idea what you’re talking about.

After Marble Hornets, my life took me in a direction that veered away from internet creepypasta. I’ve been catching up on what I missed, via Night Mind.

Last night, I saw a relatively recent upload about a new found footage webseries called The Backrooms. I started watching it, veered off of Night Mind and to the source (as suggested by Night Mind’s host, Nick Nocturne), and an hour later I was like WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST WATCH HOLY SHIT.

As of about an hour ago, I am caught up (mostly) on the current Liminal Space deal that creepypasta kids are exploring. It’s fascinating and squarely in my wheelhouse. The Backrooms is terrifying, if you allow yourself to buy into the story, which of course I did because it’s fun.

Okay. So. I know that for people who are plugged into whatever the current Internet Hotness is, this is all very old news. I guess the Liminal Space deal has been happening for awhile, and this video I’m about to link to was released in January of this year, making it ancient in Internet time.

Here is the original film, The Backrooms (found footage)

You can watch the entire thing, including all the uploads, in around an hour. Now, I know there’s some show you spend an hour watching that doesn’t deserve your time (I’m looking at you, Reality TV) that always leaves you feeling a little unsatisfied, like you gorged yourself on a Wonka Bar and now you are still hungry. If you are nodding along with me, GO TO NIGHT MIND AND START THERE LIKE I DID.

This series is magnificent, and if stuff like this makes your brain light up in the right places, you will LOVE Night Mind (presuming you don’t know about it already).

This morning, I have wandered around lots of Internet I don’t usually visit, reading about and learning more about The Backrooms and the Liminal Space stuff. It’s deeply satisfying, kind of tickles my imagination, and is tremendously engaging. If you like the same things I like, I think you’ll be real glad you spent some time checking this out.

Oh, and one last thing: the guy who created and directed this stuff, Kane Pixels, is sixteen years-old.

i wanna rock (rock)

I was playing Donkey Kong yesterday, listening to my 80s Arcade playlist, and I got this idea to write something that like ten people in the world would find amusing. Because I am one of those people, and my friend, Josh, who gave me a good note on the bit, is another, I’d like to say a special hello to the eight of you who also enjoy this the way we do.

*Extremely Patrick Bateman Voice*

Twisted Sister found international fame in 1984 with their album Stay Hungry, powered by the success of “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, which reached number 21 in the US. Some of the song’s popularity can be attributed to the ambiguity of what “it” was Dee Snyder would not take. Some critics claim it allowed a disaffected generation to claim the “it” for themselves, whatever “it” may be. Snyder spoke for them all, while simultaneously empowering their own voices.

But it is the album’s lesser-known single, “I Wanna Rock”, released in October of that year and only reaching number 68 on the Billboard Hot 100 that is the true anthem for the moment. “I Wanna Rock” asks nothing of the listener. It allows for even less. It declares, “I Wanna Rock, and I don’t care if you’re going to take it or not,” and in so doing, defines the entire decade.

*Ax Swinging Intensifies*