Friday, December 21, 2012

Awkward Perils of Making a Youtube Video

So I make vlogs (I never stop telling people this apparently) and I also still live at home with my family. That is normally fine because I can sit down and talk in my room with the door closed and no one can see or hear me being weird. Problem is I was making a vlog today where there's a cut away joke to me in the kitchen banging a jar of peanut butter against the kitchen counter while yelling at it then sobbing...

And my mother is aware that I HAVE a Youtube channel but she doesn't know much more than that and I don't want to explain it to her... all she knows is that this is my "job" only I don't get paid for it but I in theory am "earning" money...

Anyway, to avoid being carted away for being crazy I decided I needed to tell my family that I was going to start yelling and it was OK, it was just something I needed to do... just... don't ask questions...

Also please be quiet... I need quiet on "set"... while I bang the peanut butter.

Filming was interrupted when my brother walked into the kitchen to make himself a sandwich using the peanut butter. It was OK though as I didn't have a particular schedule to stick to. I had the rest of the day to get a shot of me hitting the kitchen table with peanut butter... This is Youtube after all, not a big Hollywood production (though now it is a life goal of mine to have a scene involving peanut butter in a high budget film just so I can recreate this one shot). He walked away muttering something about me being strange.

"THIS IS MY JOB!" I yell at him.

It was intensely awkward and I waited until my mother had gone into a different room so I could close the door on her to increase the chance that she might not hear me.

I did the shot and Wesley yelled at me to be quiet.

It was even more awkward than the time I was filming John Green's Face and had to keep running up and down the stairs right next to my mother for the sake of having more than one take... then the microphone didn't work and I had to do it all over again.

And soon I'll be filming a vlog where one of the jokes involves me yelling about how I'm on fire (while OUTSIDE). That's going to be interesting to film...

Don't mind me neighbours... I'm just... a guy walking around with a camera... yelling about his socks being on fire when they actually aren't. It'll be done in After Effects I swear.

I'm not crazy, I'm just doing this for youtube.

I want to be someone’s favourite youtuber.

It doesn’t matter if I don’t have a million subscribers, or hundreds, or even tens of thousands. I just want to be so utterly entertained by me that I am their favourite youtuber. Making people laugh is what makes me feel accomplished as a person. Sure, I love it when I check youtube and find someone has commented telling me I’m funny, or cute, or adorable, etc but it is the best feeling when I see someone tell me their going to subscribe then search back through my older videos commenting as they go along. That’s the best kind of subscriber: the kind who sees an online body of work and isn’t content just to look at it every now and then but takes the time to consume it all and appreciate the effort put into every video. My old videos barely get noticed until someone who has seen my recent work decides to go through my uploads.

It makes me feel appreciated that I’m not just a hit and miss entertainer with one funny video that gets all the attention, but a myriad of work that brings back a person to keep watching.

That’s the kind of subscriber I try to be. When I started watching Vlogbrothers I made it a goal of mine to watch every single video of theirs. It took 3 months to work my way back through their near 5 year history of regularly updating but I did it. I did the same with Frezned (who is ridiculously funny). Right now I’m in the process of slowly making my way back through MorganPaigeLoves who is an amazing (and slightly underrated) American vlogger. She is funny, interesting, full of enthusiasm and her joy is infectious. She’s also pretty which isn’t really important to the viewing experience but is a bonus (don’t worry, you’re pretty too Hank, John, and Tom).

All these people have thousands of subscribers (Morgan having a humble 13,228 as of me writing this compared to Frezned's 73,073 and Vlogbrothers whopping 854,974) and I never expect to reach such huge levels of popularity. (Gosh no that'd be ridiculous that that many people would find me interesting let alone FIND my youtube channel to determine whether or not I am interesting) But if I can just get a few fans and keep them consistently entertained then I have done something important with my time.

So here’s to a new year of content creating and making people laugh!

For those wondering my youtube channel is Oneupdateatatime and can be found here.

Geese are Evil

Geese are just outright dicks. They are the dicks of the bird world. Let's face it... they are cruel and heartless beasts. They're also scary.

Seriously, just look at this goose.

It looks like it has spotted prey and is about to charge at me screeching in some kind of horrifying black speech (this is a Tolkien reference not a racial thing guys. Calm down).

Now I'm not trying to say that they're evil... but basically if birds had religion then Geese would be the personification of demons (and I suppose Swans would be Angels)...

Something majorly important about geese that I don't understand is WHY DOES IT LOOK LIKE THEY HAVE TEETH!? They're not even predatory birds and yet their bills have been serrated to have little sharp teeth like things. That's freaky and I suspect it is just a thing they do to themselves by filing down their bills so they look tougher, like a bikey getting sweet tats all over his body so people know they have a high tolerance for pain and you should back away if they glare at you. If too many people get accustomed to it they'll find new ways to modify their bodies to be more fearsome... maybe embed spikes into their wings so they can attack people just by flapping at them.

The hissing is just another way to say "f*** you, we're tough and you should fear us!" There's no reason a bird needs to hiss. That's a snake's job. Geese just enjoy instilling fear.

I went to a park by a river recently and there was a gang of 8 of them. They circled me. Literally they walked over and walked around me... and stared at me... they just... watched... waiting... so close you could reach out and touch them if you were so void of any sanity and no longer wanted a hand. Being the man that I was a grabbed onto the girl I was hanging out with and told her I was scared. I also told her that if I died fighting off geese to tell people stories of how I died, and to paint me as a hero.

But eventually after getting their fill of fear (which sustains them. Fun fact: they don't need food if they have a sufficient supply of fear to fuel them, just like Black Lanterns) they went away. WE SURVIVED! WE SURVIVED 8 WHOLE GEESE!

Turns out they use them in replacement of guard dogs in England because they're vicious. THAT'S JUST HOW EVIL THEY ARE! You can replace a Doberman with a goose. That's messed up.

If you're still not convinced that geese are messed up and evil just take a look at this:

Surely this is...

...the face of something...

 ...that wants to kill you...
...and eat ALL your babies.

Lock your doors, stay away from open rivers... and if you see a goose...

... RUN!
(photo credit goes to me. I nearly lost an arm getting you this)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Sister's Doctor Who Wedding

My sister got married on Saturday! Woo! Congratulations to her and her wonderful husband Lyndon. They're very happy together and I wish them much more happiness in the future.

It all started months ago when I received this invitations inspired by The Impossible Astronaut, the first episode of the 6th season of Doctor Who:

Doctor Who wedding invitations! TARDIS blue envelops and inside there is a time, date, and GPS co-ordinates (blurred here so you can't go back in time and stalk the wedding). That was the beginning of the nerdiness.

The last time I was at a wedding I was... 5 probably, so didn't really remember what was involved. Turns out weddings are way shorter than expected. The face on Lyndon when Isobel walked down the isle was amazing. He looked stunned, amazed, like he could barely contain his happiness. When she stood in front of him it was like the rest of the room wasn't there and it was beautiful to see his big dopey smile. Gosh it was wonderful.

Then... reception time! Now I was the one who drove the bridesmaids to our local church with my car, but then it all shifted around and I was driving the newly weds in Lyndon's car. The thing is, Lyndon's car is an automatic which is... weird. And I'm not really used to them what with having a real license for a real car (real cars have clutches and I don't care if you say I'm body shaming cars). I'd only driven it once and ended up making a vlog about how Automatic Cars are for Lazy People.

Basically I wasn't really sure how to work the thing very well and after a little bit of figuring out what to do next I reversed. Facing the exit of the carpark I rolled down the window and yelled "I'VE NEVER DRIVEN AN AUTOMATIC BEFORE!" to the concerned faces that watched on as I drove off with the married couple.

"I sure hope you know where we're going because I don't..." I inform them (quite truthfully).

Don't worry we survived. In one piece too. Though they did start discussing how they could now have sex in the back of the car... That sentence sounds ambiguous. "Do you mean they were discussing, while sitting in the back of the car, how they could have sex now that they were married? Or do you mean they were discussing having sex in the back of the car while you were driving?"

The answer is yes to both.


The reception was nice. The tables were all named different Doctor Who monsters (I believe I was on Nimon) like Dalek, Rutan, Sontaran, Cybermen etc... and Cardassian (to see who was nerdy enough to catch that it was a Star Trek reference instead of a Doctor Who one, but not everyone would recognise old school references like Rutan and probably assumed it was yet another thing from the 70s).

Then this happened:

These little Daleks were remote controlled and made their way to the dance floor in advance of the newly weds entering the reception. It was awesome.

Dad made a speech about how we have a bookcase of sci-fi at home and how when she heard that my sister had found someone who was into sci-fi they knew he'd fit in just fine with our family and he does. He's awesome. I approve whole heartedly of Lyndon, who has so many books that he has shelves attached to his walls where he can't put bookcases and still that isn't enough. Now I can say "come at me bro" at him and try and challenge him, despite the fact that he's taller than I am.

There, of course, was Gangnam Style played at the wedding because the playlist was not entirely programmed by the Bride and Groom but the DJ as well (so there were a few things that Isobel said "I would definitely not have picked this..." to). More appropriately in character was a Nirvana's Smells like Teen Spirit mash up with Rick Astley's Never Going to Give You Up.

Yes. They rickrolled their own wedding.

Then as the reception came to a close the guests made a tunnel by making archways with their arms by finding a partner. The married couple walked through it as the Red Dwarf theme played and it was awesome.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Remember When I was Funny?

This blog used to be considered humorous. It also used to be my main form of online expression but then I moved onto Tumblr and the majority of my time was taken up by that. It was simpler, I devoted more time to quick short text posts that were lost quickly down dashboards and became like diary updates because the format seemed to encourage that. Anything funny I decided to write there whereas this space was redefined for less of a diary blog and more of an opinion blog where I reserved updates for increasingly political and opinionated entries. Now if I have something I believe to be a funny monologue I upload it to my youtube channel. So what really is this blog left around for?

I've been thinking a lot about what I write online and how often. On one hand I sporadically ignore this blog whereas I heavily favour Tumblr to the detriment of the rest of my life. I've been thinking about how I choose to represent myself online and the person I want to be, though that last sentence implies I really should be thinking about addiction...

I'm not one for new years resolutions. They're a stupid idea. If you have something you need to improve upon you shouldn't wait until a new year starts to do it. Maybe that's why they fail... because people don't care enough to start them when they come up with them.

Well if I had one it should be this: find a use for this blog again. No regular updating because schedules stifle creativity. I inherently post longer posts than on Tumblr so it'll be interesting to get back into a longer form of written expression. Maybe I'll be funny again instead of posting political rants that have been done to death everywhere else online.

And I'd like to get off Tumblr more often. That may seem like I'm trading one drain of my time for another but Tumblr is fleeting and a post disappears into the ether in under a day whereas posts here still get traffic years onwards and so I should think more about what I put into it, why it should be interesting, and how it represents me.

So I'm going to write things that show off my sense of humour more. Hopefully. We'll see. Or I'll just make a temporary attempt to use this blog more often and write lengthy journal entry styled things. We'll see.

Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Singing Boy on the Train

While travelling on the train recently I was sitting only a few seats away from someone who was obviously quite mentally handicapped. They were being taken into the city by what looked like their mother, maybe to go shopping or eat, I don’t know. They had their phone out and were playing music through the speakers instead of earphones and normally that’d be an annoying thing to do but they were singing along with it. They weren’t being some obnoxious rebellious teenager who liked to crank their music to the ear damaging points on their earphones so the whole carriage could hear, they weren’t being deliberately disruptive, they just played music that was audible and sung along. They were just having fun.

Instead of getting annoyed at this guy for singing along shamelessly and off key to music I personally think is terrible, like Justin Bieber, I found it heart warming. He was so uninhibited and openly engaging in something that made him happy without worrying about how an entire carriage worth of train passengers were obviously judging him. I wasn’t laughing at him but with him.

As I looked around I could see the divide in the opinions of the train passengers. There were those who glared and tried their best to ignore him and thought of him as nothing but an annoyance, or a distraction that should go away. Then there were those who mirrored his happiness and took joy from seeing someone so unashamedly gleeful. People bobbed their heads in time with the singing.

It’s interesting to see how when presented with a situation outside of the norm where someone who isn’t “normal” doing something “weird” people react. It says a lot about their attitudes towards life. I personally think the guy was cool. He was not shackled down by what other people think of feel about him and that is a brilliant example of how to live life. Sure, I never want to be some random singing on a train to Justin Bieber, but I admire his carefree attitude.

But maybe we should sing on trains. Not necessarily literally, though a group karaoke session on the 5pm train ride home would make the whole experience a lot more fun and help us feel a sense of community and togetherness instead of being rigid individuals placed near, but distinctly apart, from our fellow humans. If something out there makes you happy and isn’t there to hurt other people but you worry that complete strangers might judge you then  maybe that’s cause enough to do it. Because maybe people will enjoy it in a good way.

That’s how I want to live.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Art Gallery Adventures

I went to the Art Gallery a while ago with a friend. I didn't plan to, in fact I didn't plan on spending more than a few minutes with them in the city because I was giving them back their external harddrive. But as we sat talking I looked at the Art Gallery and was moved by a sudden burst of impromptu need to relive childhood memories I could no longer grasp clearly in my head. We embarked on what could potentially be a nostalgic adventure armed with 3 years of Arts Major learning and a mindset moulded to fit.

I expected to walk in and see something artsy-fartsy and start raving about "the elegant simplicity in the brush strokes" and finding deep and meaningful symbolism that just wasn't there in a self-mocking parody of Arts Major discourse. Instead I discovered a few things: some abstract art is really cool. Some abstract art is so bad it infuriates me. And art galleries make you feel like you're in a library for upperclass people.

Seriously. You walk in and there is a shift in volume like someone has grabbed the knob and turned it way down. There were no signs that said "quiet", there was no previous set of rules or a social guideline that told me I was obliged to be quiet (and how would I know if there was anyway? I don't visit these sorts of places), there was no people watching me to shhh me if I spoke too loudly. There was just this sudden unconscious need to emulate the quietness of the building and whisper my praise or criticisms near my friend so they could hear.

Some abstract art is really cool. There was one piece that was a "self portrait" but there was no person in it. Instead it was of a cello. Well, I have met some talented cellos in my time but none that could wield a paintbrush with that skill. That was really fascinating that the artist had taken the idea of a "self portrait" to be shown in a different way. Instead of representing the physical aspects of who they were they emphasised the ideas, interests, and thoughts that make that person who they are. In this case they were a fan of playing the cello (other things were painted around and behind it but I can't remember what they were).

Some abstract art is awful.

Ralph Balson infuriates me. His artwork is just awful. It is a bunch of squares and circles with bland colours painted onto canvas. They're not even very good squares and circles. They're not well done enough to look good, but the edges aren't rough or curved enough to be deliberately or aesthetically interesting. It was literally the worst thing I'd seen in the art gallery. I was offended by how stupid it was. It was so distinctly bad that I saw another painting by his and didn't even read the name to know it was his.

Now I don't want you to think I hate abstract expressionism. It is not awful in of itself, but Ralph Balson is basically the kind of artist that makes people look at modern art and think "That's stupid, even I could do better than that" and they might be right. Which is really sad.

For example:

Right next to one was something that looked like it had required equal effort, but was far better. It looked like you could see a fish in its jumbled mess of colours and lines, or maybe a flower. That had meaning. That had aesthetic beauty. That was at least painted properly.

So in a video I will be making soon I decided one of the jokes could involve abstract art. Not a cruel one I assure you. So I sat down and I made some bad art with some paint my Dad had kept since he was in Year 8 (he's nearly 50 now) and painted random things. Didn't even go in with a plan for most. And I showed them to people and they liked them.

"No no!" I cried "You're meant to hate it! It's awful! I didn't even try!"

"But I really like them. They look cool."

I got told they could see my art being hung in an art gallery which saddened me.  It had literally taken me 5 minutes of effort tops on some of those paintings and people thought they were good. Only my brother told me they were awful and stupid but he doesn't care about anything.

So what if Ralph Balson was me? What if someone out there is like me only they're taking the joke too far? What if the world of Abstract Expressionism is just people out there making fun of themselves by painting random stuff and calling it "art" and laughing as it sells then going home and shaking their head in disbelief? What if people don't actually care and it really is just all a joke?

"I honestly thought if I tried doing this I'd die poor..." they say to themselves. "I mean, who even BUYS art these days?"

That'd be horrifying.

Let's all be abstract painters and never have to do a proper days work in our lives. Though admittedly most of us will die from starvation if we try but I'm sure some of us will make it.