From Inside Joke To Internet Sensation

Sausage School Title Image

Hey guys, I thought I would post this since it is relevant to my interests. It’s an interview that I did with my friend Tom for a web publication that’s kind of a big deal. They asked us a few questions about Sausage School, which Tom animates and I write. We had an absolute blast getting to the heart of what makes the show “tick” as well as giving a little history of our “genius.” With their permission I’ve included the entire article below:

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This is a Close-Up? Cartoons and Toonocracy

I’ve been a busy little bee these days. Not sure if you remember a post series of mine from awhile back where I complained about working at a web animation studio out in Chicago. The work was lousy, but it was there that I met my friend Tom Riffel and there that I developed an interest in animation. When I got let go, I immediately started thinking about what it would be like to get a bunch of people together to work on the types of cartoons that we wanted to see. There were a few ideas I tossed back and forth with Tom, but they didn’t get very far past the “idea” stage. Not only that, there just weren’t enough of us to get anything substantial off the ground.

Fast forward to the here and now in sunny California, where Tom fills me in on an interesting idea that he and a few others are working on.

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On the Past Year

Last year I wrote up a list of what I thought were reasonable resolutions for 2010. They were to be the type of goals I could actually accomplish as opposed to the type of resolutions I had made (and failed) before. The only rule I had set for myself was that these resolutions had to be specific and that they had to be something I could feasibly do within 12 months. The thought was that I could check on my progress each month to see how far I had come.

I pulled up last year’s resolutions today for the first time since I wrote them.

Heh. Oops.

From said post:

-Finish a final draft of Year of the Con, my nerdy road-trip comedy. Acquire an Agent and a Manager to help sell my script and future ones I write.
-Complete writing of two web series I want to produce.
-Get at least one of the web series produced.
-Write a third screenplay.
-Get Photoshop CS2 and Flash 8 back on my compruter. Srsly, the newer ones blow.
-Write every day.
-Find either a better-paying job or a second job.
-Start up my old webcomic.
-Go to more shows.
-Go to a rave.
-Go to 2 nerdy conventions. Dress up for both of them. – C2E2 Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3
-Go to comic con.
-Write a sci fi novel.
-Complete Script-Frenzy this year and do NaNoWriMo again!
-Write a spec script for a sitcom, hour-long drama, procedural, and whatever you call the ooey gooey goodness that’s on HBO and SHOWTIME these days.
-More dates. Some blind dates perhaps.
-Do one of those speed dating things and have at least as awkward a time as Steve Carrell did in The 40 Year Old Virgin.
-Drink more cranberry juice. So delicious.
-Get a suit. I’ve got the pants. Just need to get the rest.
-Co-write a film script with someone.
-Hang out more with friends and be less of an anti-social bitch. God, srsly.
-Do two things I would never otherwise do.
-Get my toon to level 80. God, srsly. I’m such a terrible nerd.
-Visit at least 2 Friendfeed people. ROAD TRIP!
-Take Killer (my cat) to the groomer. Be able to afford that.

I suppose I could complain that I didn’t complete nearly the amount of resolutions that I had set out to do last year or that none of my resolutions really did much in the way of bettering myself, but the truth of the matter is that I actually did things on this list and was able to have new experiences I hadn’t even thought of when I composed said list.

Extra things I did this past year:

-Blogged more.
-Took swing classes, did alright at them.
-Moved to LA.
-Went to AFI Film Fest, saw a ridiculous amount of films. FridaySaturdaySundayMondayTuesdayWednesday
-Ate at In-n-Out.
-Was in the same room as Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein.
-Started dating my girlfriend.
-Made an idea excel sheet and ported it over to Evernote.
-Kept up with way more television this year, starting a series of blog posts to capsule review the episodes.
-Went to more music shows than I’ve been to in awhile.
-Met Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice, shook his hand.

New Years Resolutions are very hit or miss with people. A lot of people aren’t really all that enthused about seeing where they’ve failed in the year, and that’s understandable. However, I’ve started to think of these lists as a way to document a little bit of myself each year, almost like a photo album, in list format. Last year I was kind of in a rough place, as you can see by some of the self-deprecating notes in each item on my list. And yet I still had some hope for the year, as evidenced by all the things I thought I could do. I had SOME inkling that I would be moving to LA, but I didn’t really think I could pull off another large move.

I think I will make resolutions a bigger part of my New Year’s traditions from here on out. I would love to be able to look back on these posts ten to twenty years down the road and simply remember.

Okay, I’m done with this sentimental crap. WELCOME TO 2011, you sluts.

C2E2: Day 1

Twisty Face

Twisty Face

I arrived at McCormick place from the #3 King Drive bus line. Emerging with me was a fellow in a Green Lantern tee and a guy who reminded me of a once co-worker. All around us there were signs for a kitchen and bath expo aptly named K*BIS. Confused, we made our way to the building and to where we hoped C2E2 might be held. Business executives chain-smoked like it was the end of the world and their faces suggested that they couldn’t give a shit.

Mustering up all the creepy I could find within, I got close to Green Lantern Tee and Once Co-Worker and asked them if they knew where the convention was. Just to throw some humor into the mix, I asked them if they were in fact going to the convention. Once Co-Worker scoffed, said yes and said that his plan was just to go through the K*BIS convention. I liked that plan and followed too closely. Fortunately for them, I backed off when I realized what I was doing.

The convention was nestled away behind the Kitchen and Bath Expo with a bajillion banners proving it. We found ourselves on a walkway over the road which seemed to stretch on for miles. I read each of the marquees above us that encouraged us along our way and that we were “almost there.” One sign even said that The Dark Knight was filmed in Chicago.

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On Paying For Hulu

That's A Tall Order

That's A Tall Order

Via Chicago Tribune:

One plan under consideration would allow users to view the five most recent episodes of TV shows for free, but require a subscription of $4.99 a month to watch older episodes. Hulu believes it will need at least 20 TV series, both current and those no longer on the air, to make such a pay service attractive to users. A firm pricing model could emerge within six months.

I’ve ranted and raved about this before, albeit with less thought and tact. There’s nothing that Hulu could do to make their services worth a monthly fee. Why should I pay for something I could get for free on television? They already ads, and last I checked that was enough. Google gets by on Ad revenue, so why can’t Hulu?

Well, naturally, the more I thought about it the more my views on this have changed. In fact, since I first heard about this shift to pay-for-content on Hulu, I’ve come to realize that there are certain things I would be willing to pay for. I already pay for Netflix to watch movies instantly online, so in theory I should be fine to pay for television that I watch.

And I am, but here’s a few things that I think Hulu could do to make it easier for me to hand over my money each month.

1) More shows

The first thing that would part me from my money is the addition of more shows. Currently, I can watch a lot of things on Hulu, but I can watch even MORE things on cable. And I don’t just mean more television shows from ABC or FOX, but more shows from Discovery, Food Network and other channels with quality content. I would love to see Good Eats, or Time Warp or Man Vs. Wild on Hulu to shake things up from my usual spy comedy, sci-fi, thriller, prime-time, ooey-gooey goodness.

2) More Episodes and Less Clips

I go to youtube for clips. They have better embedding, period. I can see having clips for some shows for free users, but if I am to pay any amount of money, I want full episodes where there are only clips. This is an issue of volume. Currently the episodes to clips ratio is skewed and I would say in a not-so-good way. I think, “Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to see what the Mythbusters are up to these days? Oh crap, it’s only a minute long clip. Bummer.” This isn’t to say that the idea of clips is a bad one. But they definitely seem like something that would be useful for “free” users.

3) Get Rid Of Delays

I will admit that I’m extremely inconsistent with my television viewing habits. There are some shows I will watch religiously when they air (insert Joss Whedon anything here), and there are some shows I build a backlog to before I watch them. For the shows I watch religiously, it pains me to find that they are on an eight day delay, and that the episode I’m currently watching on Hulu isn’t the most recent. It kind of feels like punishment that I wasn’t there to see the show air.

Case in point: House. I love the show. It’s my guilty pleasure, especially after it got good again in it’s sixth season. To know that I’m behind my peers who have normal 9-5 jobs who can get home to catch the show is kind of disheartening. Because I work the second shift, I miss EVERYTHING in the evening time slot. That being said, I would pay to be able to watch the latest episode of House that week, or even wait until the next day. If Hulu can reduce it’s streaming restrictions, consider my money gone.

4) Backlog

As I mentioned earlier, my television watching habits are inconsistent at best. It’s quite probable that in the course of a TV show’s run, I’ll be behind by at least 6 to 7 episodes. Some shows are the exception, naturally, but generally speaking, I build a backlog like nobody’s business. Currently, the deals between Hulu and the content providers vary. Some shows have full seasons, while others only keep the latest 5 episodes in the current season. If life or work gets in the way, like it often does, I’m simply out of luck. But if Hulu could offer a more robust backlog of episodes, I feel like more people would be more willing to part with their money. I know that this alone would convince me to switch to a paid subscription.


Could these things ever happen? I’m not really sure. As of right now, it looks bleak. Why would content providers want to make consuming content easier and more cost-appropriate? Why should they have to? There are still enough people paying for their content the normal way that no change ever has to happen. Why change when there’s simply no demand?

I guess that’s still something that needs to be worked out.

On New Years Resolutions

Jon on the run!

Jon on the run!

Last year I wrote up a post about my new years resolutions. Out of the 20 I posted, I ended up completing only one. So this year I decided to re-think the resolution thing and come up with more attainable goals so I feel less pathetic when the 2011 rolls around. Although, I have a feeling that history will repeat itself like it usually does and I’ll be writing a post similar to this one next year. Yay for New Years Resolutions, eh?

Anyway, here’s the list in all it’s listy glory.

  1. Finish a final draft of Year of the Con, my nerdy road-trip comedy.
  2. Acquire an Agent and a Manager to help sell my script and future ones I write.
  3. Complete writing of two web series I want to produce.
  4. Get at least one of the web series produced.
  5. Write a third screenplay.
  6. Get Photoshop CS2 and Flash 8 back on my compruter. Srsly, the newer ones blow.
  7. Write every day.
  8. Find either a better-paying job or a second job.
  9. Start up my old webcomic.
  10. Go to more shows.
  11. Go to a rave.
  12. Go to at least 2 nerdy conventions. Dress up for both of them.
  13. Go to comic con.
  14. Write a sci fi novel.
  15. Complete Script-Frenzy this year and do NaNoWriMo again!
  16. Write a spec script for a sitcom, hour-long drama, procedural, and whatever you call the ooey gooey goodness that’s on HBO and SHOWTIME these days.
  17. More dates. Some blind dates perhaps.
  18. Do one of those speed dating things and have at least as awkward a time as Steve Carrell did in The 40 Year Old Virgin.
  19. Drink more cranberry juice. So delicious.
  20. Get a suit. I’ve got the pants. Just need to get the rest.
  21. Co-write a film script with someone.
  22. Hang out more with friends and be less of an anti-social bitch. God, srsly.
  23. Do two things I would never otherwise do.
  24. Get my toon to level 80. God, srsly. I’m such a terrible nerd.
  25. Visit at least 2 Friendfeed people. ROAD TRIP!
  26. Take Killer (my cat) to the groomer. Be able to afford that.

Here’s to the new year!

The Best Music Videos I Saw This Year

I was going to save this post until much later in the month, but then it dawned on me that I might forget to make a top-list post and then January will hit and it will be too late. And I don’t think it would be all that timely to post a best-of ’09 list in the beginnings of ’10. So, with that in mind, I say let’s push forward with The Best Music Videos I Saw This Year. The criteria for this list wasn’t all that complicated. The band had to have a really good song, not be too insanely popular, and be more than just a band playing for an audience. It also had to keep the viewer engaged by not beating it’s gimmick to death. Might seem like vague rules, but when you see these videos, you’ll understand what I mean. Also (and this is a MINOR criteria), the videos needed to be in a high quality format (HD) and be easily embeddable on any website.

Let’s do this.

5) Do You Want To Date My Avatar – The Guild

This video makes it onto this list because the song is catchy, and the nerdy references are cranked up to eleven. It’s an ode to those of us who play MMORPG’s (pronounced: meh-mor-pe-guhs) and anyone who knows what a level 50 paladin is. Also, the costumes are rad and there really isn’t a band to speak of, so the conceit of playing to an audience doesn’t exist. If you like this, check out the show.

4) French Navy – Camera Obscura

I like Camera Obscura, a lot. Their newest album, My Maudlin Career, is simply a gem and this video captures the essence of that. It’s shot to look like old footage, and it’s cut fast enough to keep you from being too bothered by the band playing music together in a flat. Sure, the mushy lovey-dovey story within the video is a little gag-worthy, but the music keeps it from getting too obnoxious.

3) Lessons Learned – Matt and Kim

I like this band well enough, but their other music videos haven’t really caught my attention. They’re you’re typical indie music video where they just have the two band members playing an instrument in a weird environment. This video breaks that conceit and it’s all the more refreshing for it. I also like this song much better than Daylight, which you could hear for awhile on some alcoholic beverage commercial. Also, naked people who are fairly good looking make this music video a win in my opinion.

2) Sick Muse – Metric

This video makes it this far down the list in it’s simplicity. It’s a band goofing around and not really playing their instruments. They aren’t playing to an audience and they are dancing around like fools. It helps that the band is amazing and the album is perhaps the best one I’ve heard this year. I wanted to put Gimme Sympathy on this list as well, since it had an interesting gimmick, but there wasn’t an HD version on youtube. Also, I like this song just a teensy-weensy bit more.

And the winner of best music video this year?


1) Cousins – Vampire Weekend

The film student in me loves the low-tech of the video. It’s just the band playing their instruments on a dolly in a back alley somewhere. It fits the tone of the song, which differentiates itself from the previous album with a bit more energy than A-Punk and plays around with time and space editing which I love in music videos. Check out near the end of the video where they wear the other band members’ faces behind their own. It’s an editing gimmick that makes the video editor in me SQUEE with delight.

And of course, the runner up..

Dimmer – Bishop Allen

Putting the Rant Pants On

ORDER! ORDER! HE made the internets stupid!

ORDER! ORDER! HE made the internets stupid!

It’s been too long since I’ve updated this blog, internets, but I don’t really plan on apologizing for that today. Instead, I’m going to don the rant pants and do some serious bitching. Here’s the short version: Facebook is stupid, twitter isn’t worth squat, and Hulu is about to get one less user. Whew. Now onto the long version.

Facebook is still hard to use. They’ve added a new feature where you can have a live feed roll down the page in “real time,” except it’s not real time. As a fairly adept internet user, I’ve usually got a minimum of four tabs open, one for each service and then random site hopping. If you are on another tab, the facebook timeline doesn’t update. You have to actually go back and make sure the site is the focus before it will do anything. You can tell that the idea of the “live feed” came from the Friendfeed guys, but it looks and feels like the Facebook guys are the ones who implemented it. Granted, the Friendfeed guys ARE the Facebook guys now so I’ll rephrase: Good idea, shitty implementation.

They’ve also removed cities from networks. So I guess the only networks I *can* have are schools or jobs? I question the usefulness of networks now, especially now that friend lists are becoming a big deal. Also, what good are networks in a twitter-ized environment anyway?

I heard somewhere that Twitter was worth billions. I kind of wish *I* had thought of a service with poor uptime and a shitty API so I could be worth billions too. Oh yeah, they’re coming out with lists, a feature that every other service has had for some time now. Hell, even twitter clients have list-like features.

You’ll remember a blog post I made awhile back bitching about users who couldn’t be bothered to pay the small fees from Pandora. Yeah, those people are still tight asses, but there’s some news that might make this “pay for online content” debate a little bit more complicated. Hulu is expected to charge for their content by 2010. I think this is a fairly retarded decision, considering the fact that the service isn’t out of it’s infancy yet (my opinion). Also, for a service like hulu to start charging, it needs to change the way it’s delivering it’s content. First of all, to me, pay for online content means zero advertising. It also means the service (like the article says) needs to extend beyond the website and extend *reliably*. Also, this eight day delay between episode air date and hulu release would have to stop. In fact, I would say that Hulu should just release the episode as soon as it airs.

Now, there was mention that there could be a tiered pricing scheme, which would make this into a less-sucky idea. But I’m going to put it out there that there won’t be much to the free tier. Sorry, but at this point, I see no reason to move to Hulu from Cable, or to even pay for both. Cable sucks, but at least it’s reliable and it won’t buffer if your connection isn’t as stellar.


On Snow Leopard and Upgrades

With the exception of security updates and the occasional ZOMG THIS IS BROKEN NEEDZ FIXIN patch, I’m not all that big on upgrading my softwares. A big part of me thinks, “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” Unfortunately, that’s not how the computer industry works and in no time flat I’m running out of date software and getting prompts left and right to update my OS or face certain terror. It’s almost like they hired H.P. Lovecraft to write these warnings. I’ve most recently felt the push to upgrade with the newest version of the Mac OS, Snow Leopard. I dismissed the update off the bat, citing no real need to update. In fact, my software still works fine and my laptop still runs like a dream.

And then I heard that Snow Leopard was $30, and that you could upgrade straight from Tiger (the version I have). My first thought was, “Wha-?” But then it kind of clicked for me. What if this was a way to encourage people like me to take the plunge and upgrade? I mean, $30 to Apple is better than nothing, right? Apple isn’t really known to try to reach out to the non-fanboys like myself, but this update almost seems like a peace offering of some kind. “Hey, we’d like your business. Here ya go.”

Of course, I could just be under-thinking this.