back when patrick labyorteaux, stuart fratkin and i were up in canaduh doing ski school, they rented nintendo systems. stuart and i got hooked on mario 2. when we got back to l.a. we got the latest nintendo with mario 3.
fortunately for us, stuart and i landed the outer space show and were able to play nintendo while earning thousands of dollars a week. else we would've been destitute within a month. we actually had a month before we began shooting where we were sorta lame ducks as we knew we'd be working for 7 months, so we took that time to just play nintendo. stuart even named his production company 'p-wing productions' in honor of, well, the p-wing in super mario brothers.
i never really liked other video games.
then patrick labyorteaux got me doom one year for my birthday. i spent all of january playing doom. i hurt my knee because i didn't move from the chair in front of my computer for a month. seriously.
then i removed the game from my computer and vowed to never get a video game system ever again, else i ruin my life. i've seen some of the games around and they look so insane and complicated. i played half life for 8 hours straight but also ultimately felt annoyed by it because there was no real 'end'. maybe i'm wrong.
last year jessie and i played 'guitar hero' at a friend's house. i was smitten. so was she. but i was able to resist.
we went to a party the other day and they had it there and, well...
today, in honor of black friday and capitalism, we got ourselves a playstation 2 with guitar hero3. i'm buying #2 off a friend of mine. i'm hopeful (see other post) that the bride and i will spend more time with each other. at least we'll be in the same room, playing guitar hero with each other.
but, this is just to say goodbye. i doubt i'll be doing anything else with my life until the bank comes for the house and we have to stop playing because the electricity is shut off.
it's also good that i have yet another thing that is killing my wrists/fingers/forearms. i'm not carpal enough, people.
in other news, the bride made the best thanksgiving meal i've yet to have. perfect turkey, potatoeeooes, stuffing, gravy, green beans. nothing fancy. she said her goal was to keep everything basic and all she used, basically, for seasoning was butter.
her mom baked two pies that killed us and that's unimportant because i must to play guitar hero until six a.m.
speaking of tasteless... i got a happening text message from someone who shall remain nameless. it said "so and so died two years ago. let's take a moment to remember him. and don't forget to come to my club tonight. these bands will be playing:" and then listed some bands and other reasons to come to the club.
Someone commented about the evil "lose/loose" travesty.
It hurts me so much I couldn't put it in the pedant post. Sorry.
But you are sooooo utterly right. (Udderly!!!! aaaaahhhhhhgghhh!)
Seeing "I hope the writers don't loose too much money during this strike."
Speaking of plurals.
AN APOSTROPHE DOES NOT INDICATE A PLURAL!!!
Remember: I don't think that people are more stupid than they used to be. I just think that we're seeing more writing from people than we used to. So the same number of spelling mistakes are being made; we just have access to them now.
I shudder inside when people use language incorrectly. I'm sure I use words incorrectly but since I don't know that I'm using them incorrectly I get a free pass. Sometimes ignorance is the best defense.
Irregardless: my list of words/phrases that make me shudder.
irregardless. there's no such word. fun to use among others who understand that it's not a word.
less things can't be counted individually
"don't take less than 10 trojans to parumph" is a no-no.
"you'll have less fun if you don't take enough trojans to parumph" is correct (and true)
fewer things are counted one by one
"don't take fewer than 10 trojans to parumph"
you will go nuts when dealing with money and time
i have less than 500 dollars is correct
i have less than 500 dollars is incorrect if you're speaking of the actual dollar bills.
i have less than 500 dollar bills is not correct.
i have fewer than 500 dollars is incorrect
i have fewer than 500 dollars is correct if you're speaking of the actual dollar bills.
i have fewer than 500 dollar bills is correct.
it's similar when speaking of time.
if you're not sure which to use, apply it to each instance and the one that sounds correcter probably is.
hopefully is often confused with hopeful or full of hope. most pedants on the internets agree that the battle for hopefully has been lost.
this is how it's often used:
hopefully, google will hit 1000/share within the next couple of months.
what's meant is:
"i'm hopeful that google hits 1000/share..." or "i hope google hits 1000/share..."
hopefully can be used correctly and incorrectly in the same sentence. consider:
hopefully, i'm going to the meeting tomorrow.
one means to say
"It's possible i have a meeting tomorrow and i hope it comes through."
but one is actually saying
"i will be going to the meeting tomorrow full of hope that they greenlight ski school 3 through 10".
so "hopefully, i'm reading for the part of dysart in the corey haim production of equus' is correct if you mean you are auditioning for dr. dysart.
my brain hurts
affect/effect will rip your brain out. the general, easy method to remember is that
affect is to do
not brushing will affect my breath
effect is to have done
the effect of not brushing was my crappy breath
impact in place of affect and effect looks like it's a lost battle as well. i think it's because talk show hosts can't remember the affect/effect difference and impact has replaced them. the verb impact means hit the noun means a collision . an impact does affect what it impacts, but that must means it had an effect, not that it had an impact. make sense? you hear me, cnn?
a shudder is your reaction when the cat lady upstairs doesn't close her shutters at night.
by the way, capitalization is for suckers. i capitalize when i feel like it, okay?
Because I happen to know a thing or two about how to make money on the Internet, and I'm concerned that if I speak my mind and voice an unpopular position, I will suffer at the hands of my fellow performers.
Ironically, I'm writing this from my hotel room in Las Vegas, having just spoken at BlogWorld on the need for podcasters to hone their craft and find their natural voices - to be more professional at what they do.
But...I've made my living as a talk show host and talking head for years, taking positions that, to me, make eminent sense, yet to others seem counterintuitive. And I've also figured out ways to make several millions of dollars on the Internet over the last 15 years or so, affording me a unique perspective on what works, what doesn't and why (thanks, Howard Fine!) - along with what will work in the future.
So, here goes.
I'm saddened and angered that the WGA has gone on strike. I think the WGA strike, and the approach to these contract negotiations, have been the wrong way to fight the wrong battle. I think they've squandered any goodwill they had in this negotiation by picking the wrong area over which to have a fight. And the danger goes far deeper than that, as my other unions echo WGA's chants.
Let me explain.
No one, I repeat, no one, is making real money on the Internet with webisodic content right now. I'm always amazed that anyone is willing to pay me, other actors, writers and other performers to be in webisodics - and I'm on a fair number of well-known and well-respected webisodic series myself. Please watch Goodnight Burbank and Infected on Revision3. Save the ones artificially monetized as a blatant corporate sales tool (I'm happily in Pepsi/Mountain Dew's Cyberpunx, taking SAG-level pay), none is making any money.
Few are spending money - actors are working for free, green screen rooms are begged, borrowed or stolen, cameras and cinematographers are being cajoled into supporting their fellow performer, but very few dollars are being spent. Most of the breakdowns we see for these shows are copy, credit and meals. The rare payments to performers in this space are welcome and cherished.
You know I'm right. You've seen Actor's Access, Now Casting and LA Casting.
It's all a big experiment, with relatively few real production dollars at risk and none coming back in return. People are dabbling. And spending very little producing to receive absolutely nothing in income. Zip. Nada.
The income side is just as abysmal. If you're producing content for the Internet, for YouTube and that ilk, if you're aggressive, you can count on a few dollars in subscription fees (I own ShowTaxi.com, so I see the numbers) and even less in advertising dollars. We're talking pennies here. And not per play.
So the Internet's Emperor currently has no clothes (or food or shelter, for that matter). And if we're honest with ourselves, we must ask: why fight for money that doesn't exist? And (this is where you'll have to trust that I know what I'm talking about) - WON'T exist for several contract cycles.
My problem is, I've suffered through this righteous indignation on the part of my unions before. And I didn't speak up. I regret that.
See, a few years ago, AFTRA pulled a similar stunt, negotiating what they thought was a very progressive victory: a triple session fee for a performer if a performer's commercial appeared on the Internet. Great, you say? We AFTRA performers all make more money, you say?
No. Not even close.
It resulted in the ad agencies that produced the spots simply refusing to authorize Internet play of those spots, and forced radio stations to drastically change their online automation playback, and to blank out those spots with AFTRA performances in their live streams with public domain classical music. So AFTRA performers never got paid that hard fought triple session fee, and AFTRA unnecessarily burdened every commercial radio station in America.
The current landscape in Internet production of video, audio, Flash, YouTube videos and the like, is still, and will remain so for the next several years, a speculative one, and one with no foreseeable income.
Here's why. While the public loves to consume online content, no one has successfully gotten them to pay for it. No model has emerged, including subscription and advertising, that generates even the most meager incomes on the most runaway popular videos.
And when does emerge, like iTunes, it gets called not a godsend, and what consumers want and are willing to pay for. No. It gets labeled "the ruin of the music industry" by NBC/Universal's leadership in their zeal to maintain outmoded budgets. Slap.
This is the important fact: the most outrageously successful videos on the biggest outlet online, YouTube, generate 7-figure plays, and low 2 and 3 figure *monthly* incomes, with short-attention-span shelf life of a few months at best, as users find the next darling to virally spread. And no one is madly clicking on the ads on YouTube pages or anywhere else. How many times have you left a video playback page on YouTube by clicking on an ad?
I find myself shaking my head in rueful concern over next summer's actor's contract negotiations when I see my SAG leader, Alan Rosenberg, sending me an email stating that "their fight (WGA's) is our fight."
Let me be very clear. I loved him as the alcoholic lawyer on The Guardian a few years back on CBS, but here, today, Rosenberg is dead wrong, and he is endangering our chances to negotiate proper and real increases in our pay rates and health benefits. He is doing so in favor of chasing after the Internet market. There is no Internet market to fight over yet. There is no market in the foreseeable future on the Internet.
Certainly, he and others are distracted by the fact that some websites like YouTube and Facebook have moronic, emotion-filled capital valuations the likes of which haven't been seen since the dot-com bust, but none are making money, and none have the near- or mid-term potential to make the kind of money that merits those valuations. Thankfully they're not individual public companies, and today's Henry Blodgetts can't hype them to death on the markets.
Unfortunately, what those websites do have is the ability to take viewers away from network and cable TV, and what have been very, very lucrative network audience and ad dollars, but darn the luck...they don't replace the lost network ad money with online ad money. And no one running these websites are telling the truth on that - it would harm their negotiations to be bought by the likes of Microsoft, Google or Yahoo.
No, it's just the same old romantic dot-com hype the mainstream press has been known for since they started covering the Internet, cluelessly, in the 90's. And in the end, the Internet's really just another delivery mechanism, another wire, with a more painful-to-watch output point (gather the family around the computer monitor?), not an incredible new market place.
And to make matters even worse, the mainstream media, in their zeal to cover sites like Napster, BitTorrent and Kazaa with such glowing admiration, has trained a whole generation of users to steal, or at the very least, expect everything to be free. That means that if a market does emerge, we have some really damaging speed bumps in getting the public to pay and advertisers to pay.
That, so far, has been the reality for the folks on the other side of the negotiating table.
Certainly for some producers and writers, they might make money with very little outlay by making a great piece online, creating a demand for that creative work via viral success, then selling the series as DVDs or by creating series that air on traditional channels. That's self production. That's creating your own content, so go negotiate with yourself. Most of the people producing webisodes now are doing so, hoping they'll hit a home run...and a network will notice. That's not revolutionary at all. It's what indie artists have been doing for years on the music side of things.
So the WGA, our acting and performance membership, outspoken activist celebrities and our Guild and Federation leadership are, to me, out walking the picket lines, encouraging us to do the same, posturing themselves and our futures over a vast empty wasteland that currently is being experimented with - to no predictable success.
I believe that we are far too early in the infancy of this delivery mechanism to be defiantly sticking our chins out, demanding money that doesn't exist, when DVD sales and on-demand cable plays are clearly demonstrable and are far more lucrative to producers and distributors, and from which we should be able to extract a more reasonable percentage. My advice? Go back to the table, demand to rework the DVD and VOD formulas and keep an eye on the Net over the next few years, looking for real income, but don't throw down the precious gauntlet over it.
I believe that if the WGA gets what they want, they'll find that they fought over hardly anything, and squandered an opportunity to do something useful for their membership.
And before the conspiracy theories start, I am no shill for the producers. I believe that you train people how to treat you and how well to remunerate you - and that we, as performers, are usually woefully underpaid. We deserve as much money as we are willing to demand and that the other side is willing to pay.
But in saying all this, I fear that some of you will shun me as that smart ass capitalist Ayn Randian objectivist Ruth's Chris steak-eating barbarian who doesn't grasp the fundamentals of what it's like to be a struggling artist. And there, you would be correct, right up to the "doesn't grasp..." part of that sentence. I struggle every day as an actor, a writer, a filmmaker, a voice talent and more. But those of you know know me, know that I often find a way to success, especially on the Internet.
Not, however, as a webisodic producer. There's no money in it. Yet.
So there we are. What do I do?
Do I keep silent, knowing that if I speak my mind, from what I consider to be a very informed position of first hand knowledge, I could be ostracized by my fellow performers? Or do I clearly and succinctly speak up, hoping someone, somewhere in the WGA leadership receives this message as a forward, even a "can you believe how stupid this guy is?" forward, and changes their tactics to deal with the real and pressing issues they have?
I've made up my mind. Here goes:
I support the troops, but I don't support the war.
I support my fellow writers' quest for better pay and better benefits, but I do not support the WGA strike over Internet production I think it is a mistake to get wrapped around the axle on demanding monies for Internet usage. And, I believe that not only should the WGA take this demand off the table, I believe that if SAG and AFTRA pick up this fight next summer, they will be doing all of their members, including me, a grave disservice. The producers will balk, knowing there really, really, really is no money to be shared, and will not be willing to capitulate. And then we'll strike, and we will all waste more time on the picket lines, labeling our employers incorrectly as being "unfair".
I urge you to pass this on to others in our community. And I welcome your comments, screams, threats and more at 888-488-DAVID. You can also send your email to me here or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to hearing the tales of the death threats and weeping "what am i going to do!?!" emails to him.