Reading too deeply into these things since 1981
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ALF, "Fight Back"

Friends (and Ridley):

It’s nearly that time. When I started this series in…October 2013?! What the fuck have you people done to my life?

…okay. Anyway.

It’s nearly that time. When I started this series I sort of never expected to make it to the end. But I did. And I did because of you guys.

You readers, you commenters, you weirdos who only message me on Facebook or email me instead of commenting here. You people who spread the links. You late-comers who stumble upon the reviews somehow and blast through them all in a matter of days. You who laugh at my jokes, steal my screenshots, and wonder why I’m making that same exact Manchurian Candidate joke again.

So I want to celebrate. We still have a few more reviews to post, along with the season four bonus features and some wrap-up material, but it’s time to announce our big farewell celebration:

Please join us for….

ALF Wiedersehen:
The ALF Reviews Finale Stream

Friday, May 20
7:00 PM Eastern / 5:00 PM Mountain

We’ll have live chat, as always, and we’ll stream six episodes of ALF. I’ll also include a few fun oddities, provide short introductions to the episodes (the tears will be kept to a minimum), and we’ll close out the evening with a live dissection of Project: ALF, the TV movie that wrapped up the sitcom and by all accounts sucks busted nards.

This is it.

Like, really it.

I’ll post a few things after the stream — such as the official review of Project: ALF — but I want this to be our big, enthusiastic goodbye. And I honestly, truly, deeply hope you’ll be able to make it. I can’t fly everyone out to Denver and give them tongue kisses, and I assume this is the next best thing.

So, be there. Mark your calendars. All you need to do is show up here, on this very website, at that time. Honestly, don’t miss it. Ending the ALF reviews is going to be like saying goodbye to a close friend. Or at least like hearing that your racist grandfather fell off a cliff. Either way, it’s nice to have closure.

So, things for you to do:

Show up here May 20 at 7:00 PM Eastern. THIS IS MANDATORY.

– If you have any ideas for things to include, please let me know. Email, comment, Facebook, whatever. I have ideas, yes, but if you have suggestions of what you’d like to see, and how you’d like to celebrate, let me know. Contests? Special guests? Musical numbers? Say the word.

– …and, if you’d like to provide any words of thanks / criticism / anything else, send them over. I hear all the time from folks who appreciate these reviews, and their comments range from “they’re pretty funny” to “I had a really rough week and you helped me feel better.” And that’s great; I appreciate everything you guys have to say. But if you’d like to share it with the readers in general, get in touch and maybe I’ll do a feature that includes your summing-up messages instead of just mine.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Except one last thing:

I had a few folks suggest episodes to stream, and they all seemed to suggest the (relatively) good episodes, so that we can end ALF on a high note.

And you know what?

Thank you.

I’m really proud that in the course of ripping apart this dumbass puppet show, we all came out on the other end feeling positive. That means a lot to me, and it speaks volumes about the kind of community we have here. It would be easy for people say, “Just show any old shit; I’ll be drunk anyway.” Instead you guys said, “Hey, let’s see the stuff the show did right.”

And I kind of love that.

Thank you.

I’ll post reminders in the coming weeks, but, for now, get ready. Get your requests in. And let’s go out with a bang.

Better Update Site

March 30th, 2016 | Posted by Philip J Reed in Meta - (11 Comments)

Project: ALF

Just a quick post today to let you know that I’m not dead, haven’t lost interest in Better Call Saul, and will be live-streaming Project: ALF.

OKAY BYE

…so, anyway. No, I didn’t die or experience anything sad or tragic. I’ve been pretty busy, though, and my time has been limited by a few other projects and commitments. That’s why things are pretty quiet overall. Since we’re so close to the end, though, I figured I’d devote the time I do have to plowing through the remainder of ALF. That’s my priority, if only so I never have to watch the fucking thing again.

The Better Call Saul reviews will continue at some point fairly soon. If it makes you feel any better, I haven’t even had time to watch the show, so when I do pick the reviews back up they won’t be tempered by knowledge of what’s to come. In fact, you’ll be able to read them and see me as more of a dope than ever because you already know things pan out completely differently than I’m predicting. Go you! Thanks for your patience on those, by the way. I feel bad, because the show deserves attention that I just can’t give it right now. This will be rectified.

And, finally, the live stream of Project: ALF will happen after the season four bonus posts…which means it’ll be pretty soon. (The actual, written review of that film will post afterward.) Details to come, but get ready.

That will be the big finale to the ALF Reviews, so I hope you can join us for the stream. There will be live text chat, so you can make fun of it or make fun of me as you see fit.

In addition to Project: ALF I’ll stream a handful of episodes, just to warm up the crowd and give folks time to settle in. So, if you have any suggestions for what episodes to include, let me know! The sooner the better, because I’m going to edit this thing as far in advance as possible.

Thanks for sticking around. This site’s biggest project ever (past and future) is almost at an end. Thanks for giving me a reason to keep going.

And, seriously, suggest some ALF episodes you want to see in the stream. Because otherwise I’m just going to loop “You’re the One That’s Out of This World” for four hours.

What this site could look like

February 20th, 2016 | Posted by Philip J Reed in internet | Meta - (10 Comments)

Grand Theft Auto V

Running a website is its own reward. As you know, I just need to turn on my computer and lots of money and sexy ladies and respect come tumbling out of the screen and into my lap. It’s great and you should all feel pret-ty envious. Probably even suicidal.

But it has its…less rewarding aspects as well. Mainly the investment of time and money to keep it operational.

Time is not exactly a rigid requirement, I admit. Yes, it can take me several hours of work for an ALF review, or several days of work for a Fiction Into Film, but on the whole it doesn’t take too long to sit down and write something.

However, if I am sitting down to write something, that’s time I’m not spending writing other things…whether those are personal projects, freelance work, or just the emails I owe friends who at this point definitely assume I’ve died.

Then there’s also fresh air (whatever that is) and a social life, or reading, or watching movies or playing video games or, basically, experiencing all of the things other people have created. And so it can be difficult to balance. Sometimes I’ll go for weeks on end doing nothing but writing. Other times I want to spend that time catching up on things I’ve missed.

And I can do that. That’s the best thing about having my own website and not working for others anymore: I set my own deadlines.

That’s also the worst thing about having my own website and not working for others anymore: I set my own deadlines.

So while this means I can delay something (or many somethings) it also means that if I’m not posting anything, people will check back less and less often. And if they check back less and less often, finding very little to read when they do return, they might stop showing up. And while that’s okay, it’s not ideal. I don’t write for the sake of having an audience, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t value having an audience. And I value it deeply.

This audience. The one you’re a part of. The audience who is reading this right now, wondering why the heck I’m bringing any of this up. (I love you and you are handsome.)

Well, that’s because it ties into the other less-rewarding aspect: money.

Running a site like this isn’t free. There’s not an exceptional expense, but it’s significant for someone in my…ahem…modest income bracket. I pay for the domain and I pay for the bandwidth. The latter of which I had to upgrade about a year ago when my traffic increased, and which I’ll have to increase again before long.

And those things are fine; believe me, I’m not complaining, but I want to make it clear why I’m interested in defraying the cost as much as possible, and within reason. (We’ll define “within reason” before long.)

Frankly, Noiseless Chatter operates at a loss.

Big deal. I’m okay with that.

But I’d be foolish if I wasn’t at least a little interested in reducing the degree of that loss.

Fortunately, webmasters like me can pull in money hand over fist! Every day I get offers from people who want to throw money at this site. LOOK!

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I mainly just thought this one was funny…later emails were more in line with what you see below — I did ask for clarification — but anyone who comes to this site and thinks I’d be the kind of guy who wants to open crates with a crowbar can’t have read a word that I’ve ever written. And I don’t think any readers hang around here because they think they’re reading the ponderous thoughts of a man who blogs between crowbar sessions.

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I’m sure that a broad spectrum of international organizations would be touched to have their content featured between screengrabs of a masturbating puppet, but I had to decline. I know what the content looks like. It all looks the same. It’s without value or meaning, written for the express purpose of fooling search engines into associating one specific company with one specific keyword. In short, they’re writing to fool a robot. And they’re wondering if I could be bribed to let them do it on my readers’ time. For the princely fee of $20.

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And hey, look, confirmation that the folks reaching out to me aren’t even bothering to customize their templates beyond the barest minimum. Surely the content they’re offering will be stellar. (They’re doubling that money, though. I’m twice as tempted to fuck over my readers!)

I get these a lot. Like, all the damned time. Sometimes they take the time to learn my name. Usually they don’t. One of them, for some reason, called me Sue. And none of them, ever, care about you, or the site, or what anybody coming here would like to read.

They write garbage. I know they write garbage, because I used to work for a digital marketing agency that pulled this same crap. We wrote garbage, too.

But…well…wouldn’t that be nice? If I could just take one of these folks at their ostensible word every month? That’s an extra $40 every 30 days. And, hey, what if I did two per month? Or three? I could pull in $1,200 a year easily, just by posting this crap that nobody cares about. And doesn’t that sound like a fair trade? Maybe I could even post it on Sundays, when I never post anything and nobody even thinks to visit the site anyway. Who would that hurt?

It’d hurt the site.

It’d hurt what I’ve built.

It’d hurt you guys, and make poor use of your time.

I don’t want to hold Noiseless Chatter up as some exemplar of quality or anything, but I hope it can have just a little bit of integrity in a medium that…doesn’t always value it. And doesn’t always want it. And is glad to fake it just long enough to turn itself around for an easy buck.

There’s a blogger I used to visit that, within the past year, has turned her site over to sponsored content, and it’s sad. I won’t name her site here because I don’t intend to shame her and I don’t know what’s behind her decision, but I went from having a blogger I was interested in reading whenever she had something to say, to having a shell of a blog that doesn’t seem to have much of her in it at all.

I don’t want anyone here to feel that. If you get any joy out of this site whatsoever, I’d like to maintain that. If you don’t…well, even then it’s not like sponsored content is going to change your mind. Nobody wins.

I make money, yes…but nobody wins.

I’ve hosted pieces here that were provided by outside writers, but I’ve never accepted a penny for doing so. I’ve reviewed other people’s products and wrote about their projects, but never in exchange for money. And I wouldn’t take any. Ever. If I get a review request for something that interests me, I ask for a copy of that item, which I think is fair. If they offer money, I refuse. As you see above, people do indeed offer money.

I’ve had people ask how they can support the site. One reader — whom I don’t wish to embarrass, but feel free to out yourself in the comments — said he goes out of his way to click ads on my site in order to help.

And, yes, that’s a way, but never, ever feel obligated to do that. If you see an ad on my site for something that interests you, and you click it, I get a little money from Google. If you don’t click it, I get a little less (as long as the ad actually displays).

Don’t click for the sake of clicking…but if you do click, it helps. I’m not asking you to click; I’m just explaining how it works. If you tell me here and now that you’d never click a damned thing on my site, I wouldn’t think any less of you, and I have no expectations that anybody will click anything.

Really, the only thing I would ask is that you disable adblock on my site. And that’s not even a very strong request. Frankly, I don’t mind what you block or don’t block. But if you’re wondering “how can I help?” that would be the extent of my answer.

Ads are a touchy subject. I feel dirty every time I see them on my own site. At the same time, they’re helping me afford to keep the site. Does that make them a necessarily evil? I…honestly don’t know. And it’s probably not for me to decide. Many of you don’t seem to mind either way. Others, I’m sure, hate that they’re here. Believe me, I hear you, and I understand. If there were any other way to defray the cost of maintaining the site, I’d be all ears.

I could offer something for sale, here. And maybe I will, at some point. Right now, you could always buy a mug if you haven’t already. They’re good mugs! But that’s just an option. Maybe in the future I’ll have more options. Again, I’m all ears.

But, really, there’s not much that you can do. I could set up a donation link or something, but I’d rather there be something of value changing hands. I do have an idea for something else to offer in the near-ish future, and I’ll probably announce that in the near-er-ish future, but right now the way to help…the best way to really help…is just to read.

To comment.

To like this stuff on Facebook.

To share it with your friends should you feel so compelled.

That’s all. It’s not money that keeps me going. If this site one day broke even I’d do a cartwheel, but that’s not what I’m after. I could make this site immediately profitable at the expense of its identity…and I don’t want that.

I want you guys.

And every time you show me you’re engaged — even through disagreement — it means the world to me. That’s what keeps me here, investing time and money and, on Thursdays, my sanity. I read all comments. I value every like and retweet and everything else. I get giddy when I look at old articles and see that they’ve been shared dozens of times. In some cases hundreds. In one case thousands.

That means everything to me. That’s why I write. That’s why I have this site. And that’s why no amount of money is going to tempt me — really tempt me — to part with it.

The internet eats great things alive.

Thank you for giving me reasons every day to keep this small one afloat.

ALF, "Make 'Em Laugh"

Alright, so, I need to apologize for a bit of a quiet stretch here. I have a bunch of half-started drafts, and I’ll get to them. And god knows I won’t bail on ALF reviews because the day I claw my way out of that horse shit is the day I can face my own reflection again.

But, as I mentioned last week, I’m writing fiction again.

Fiction, without exaggeration, has been the most important thing to me for the majority of the time I’ve been alive. I went through a long dry spell, wondering if I’d ever write again. There were reasons to be doubtful. Maybe I’ll discuss them at some point.

I had a small spark of inspiration, though, and a story that had been brewing for around seven years finally clicked for me. My problem with fiction is never coming up with a plot…it’s coming up with an interesting way to frame that plot. I have a thousand ideas for stories that I could start writing tomorrow…but I’d get bored the day after that, because anyone can write a sequence of events. It’s a lot more difficult to create a universe in which those events unfold, find the proper voice with which to describe them, and tell the story in a way that nobody else can.

That’s important to me. And that’s been my sticking point.

For no particular reason that I can identify, I figured out how to tell this particular story. I went home and started writing. It’d be a lie to say I haven’t stopped since, but I can honestly say that any free time I have had has gone to directly or indirectly working on it. And I’m excited, because even though I’ve lived with these characters for seven years in my mind, I’m finally discovering who they really are.

I feel great. I feel younger and more excited than I’ve felt since I’ve moved to Colorado. And I also feel tired and mentally drained whenever I finish working on it…which is why the posting here has suffered.

It’ll come back, and likely pretty soon. I’ll run out of creative energy and take a break from the story to recharge. This isn’t goodbye; it’s an apology for those who keep checking back and finding nothing.

So far, so understandable. But here’s where I come to a slight crisis:

I really wanted to keep Fiction Into Film a monthly feature, but I’m running out of time to finish it. It’s started, and it’s going to be a good one. It…just might be a late one. I feel terrible about that, even though I get the sense that nobody really cares if they read it in February instead of January…but at the same time it’s an adaptation I really want to do justice to, and I don’t want to rush it for the sake of meeting a self-imposed deadline.

We’ll see. I still have time to finish it, but I want more than anything to avoid half-assing it.

May God forgive me.

Anyway, that’s all. Just a brief note to let you know I’m alive, happy, and productive than I’ve been in ages. Which is why you haven’t seen one damned thing.

It’s Just Another Year

January 1st, 2016 | Posted by Philip J Reed in Meta | personal - (1 Comments)

New Year

It’s just another year. 2015, 2016, 2014. What’s the difference, really?

Probably nothing. It happens. December 31 is one day, January 1 is the next day. There’s no significance aside from whatever we decide to give it.

Big deal.

But…here we are. Celebrating — or at least acknowledging — it anyway. And it’s difficult to resist looking back at what the previous year has been. People say it’s better to look ahead to the next. It probably is. That doesn’t really change anything; nobody knows how things will work out.

2015, if you’d like to know, was one of the most difficult I’ve ever had. I try hard not to turn this into a personal blog, and, largely, I succeed at that. There’s no reason to keep that stuff out of here — it’s my site, after all — but I like the fact that I can turn to Noiseless Chatter as an escape. As something apart from whatever else it is I’m dealing with at the time…even if I inevitably have to go back to it.

A new year is a new year. It means nothing and feels like it should mean everything. When 2015 started, I was in probably the best situation I’ve ever been in. About halfway through, that changed, and I was probably in the worst. Month to month, week to week, day to day, you never really know what to expect. A few years back I made all the wrong decisions and ended up in a very bad place. No surprise there. This year I made all the right ones…and ended up in a very bad place anyway.

What’s the moral? What’s the lesson? Why bother? Isn’t it easier to be a shit? A miser? A pain in the ass? If you end up in the same place…why do it the hard way? Why put your trust in people? Why hope for anything? Why work for anything?

It’s all fleeting. At best you find what you wanted and keep it until you die. More likely you don’t hold onto it that long, or don’t find it at all. In the end, does it matter?

Of course it matters.

Of course it matters, and it matters because you don’t know how things will work out. I started last year high, found myself low. But you know what? I ended it in a good place again. Just as things can pivot and change for the worst tomorrow, they can pivot again the day after that.

Everybody’s going to experience their ups and downs. Bad things will happen to good people and good things will happen to bad people. So why bother being good? Because when you’re good, you deserve those good things. And when you’re good and bad things happen to you, people will be there to help. That’s the difference. It’s not karma or any kind of cosmic balance that’s gone askew. It’s life. And you’re going to go through the worst things imaginable, no matter who you are. The difference is that if you’re good, people will be there to help you through those times. And if you’re good, you’ll be there to help them as well.

This year won’t be any easier than the last. It might even be a little harder, for all of us. We’re all older. Our metabolism is slowing down. We’re closer to grey hair, or no hair. We’re closer to death.

2015 is over, and none of us are getting it back. If we had a shit year and want to try again, too bad. If we had a great year, too bad. It’s gone.

Do something this year.

I don’t care what it is. Nobody but you should care what it is. Do something.

If it costs money, spend the money. If it costs time, invest the time. Because this is it. Whatever amount of time you have left on this planet, it’s decreasing. That arrow only points in one direction.

Figure it out. There’s something that will make you happy. What is it? What’s stopping you from getting there? Figure it out. Now. Do it. There will never be a better time. There will be less time, but never a better time.

We live in a scary world. We live in a confusing world. Above all, we live in a world that has no interest in our personal definitions of fairness.

Figure out what you want to do, and do it. Do it for you. Nobody else in the world is going to do it for you, so do it for yourself.

Maybe the thing you need is really getting rid of something else you don’t need. Something holding you back or breaking your spirit or slowing you down. Maybe getting rid of that thing will hurt somebody you don’t want to hurt. Maybe that’s still for the best.

One day you’ll die, and that’ll be it. The things you did are the things you did, and the things you didn’t do you will never do. If you died tomorrow, would you be satisfied? Why not? What haven’t you done? Why aren’t you doing it? How can you get to the point that you’re doing it?

Do it. One day you will die, and the odds are good that it won’t be on your own terms. It won’t be when you’re ready. It won’t wait for you to get around to that thing you’ve always meant to get around to.

There’s something out there that you want. Go get it. If it’s not something that will impress anyone else, or is important to anyone else, good news: it’s your life. You’re doing it for you.

Do it for you.

It’s just another year. 2016, 2017, 2015. What’s the difference, really?

Probably nothing. It happens. December 31 is one day, January 1 is the next day. There’s no significance aside from whatever we decide to give it.

So give it some significance. New Year’s Day is, if nothing else, a very useful reminder of how quickly an entire year of your life slipped away.

Make it a big deal.

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