The new site has hatched.
I haven’t posted an update about it here, but most of you have heard the news by now.
In early June (hopefully very early June, but we’ll see), I’m launching Dinosaur Dracula, a new website that I guess we can consider the “sequel” to X-E.
Status Report: We’re in the home stretch on the design/structure. Once that’s finessed, I’ll need a few weeks to get the launch content in order. Lots of little things to do that almost nobody will notice, but they’re still important.
I’m beyond excited. There wasn’t a moment when I seriously questioned the decision to do this, but now that it’s starting to take shape, I’m just sort of…shocked? Like, a “wow, I can’t believe this is actually happening” kind of shocked. Shocked in a good way.
Course, that’s just me. For the rest of you, it’ll just be another site on the Internet. But I hope it’s one you’ll like.
I don’t have much to say about the new digs beyond that. Just want to dive in, do it, and see where the chips fall. Stay tuned.
Once the new site launches, this one’s in “retirement.” Again, I’m not yanking X-E down. It’ll still be here for anyone who wants to read the old stuff. Comments will be likely be closed on all entries after the new site launches, but everything here – especially as it relates to all blog content – remains as-is.
(And yeah, I’ll fix the blog archives, too.)
You can follow the new site on Twitter/FB/Tumblr for updates, but when it’s time, I’ll let you know over here, too.
I wanted to give you guys some advance warning on what’s what.
I’ve decided to move to a new domain, and won’t be continuing X-E for much longer.
…but please read the rest before processing that.
Try this analogy on. It’s a bad one, but try it on anyway.
Let’s say X-E is my car. It’s been a great car. I’ve gotten a lot of miles out of this car, and it’s taken me to wonderful places. But it’s also grown really, really worn, and it’s finally hit a point where it makes more sense to buy something new than to continue putting money/effort into this one.
I’ve mentioned my desire to try a new site on here and there for a while now, and how I wouldn’t do it because having a site that’s so old feels like a badge of honor. And it does, sort of, but the negatives have started to outweigh the positives.
On a personal level, I’m joined at the hip to a dozen years’ worth of experiences, good and bad. I may have many of the same interests I did twelve years ago, but I’m not the same person, and adding a bit of separation is good for me.
On a “professional” level – and I have to use that term loosely, because this site has been nothing more than a hobby for many years now — this place is a mess. A damaged brand. To me, it feels stale. I could have the site redesigned to give it a fresh face, but I think what I really want is a fresh start.
I want to start over. Basically, I want to do X-E, but I want to do it knowing what I know now. I can never do that here. It will never feel right, and it’ll always feel like a Band-Aid over a gunshot wound.
I don’t want to tell you too much about this new site just yet. All I’ll say is that I’m focused on doing what I do in a way that makes a heck of a lot more sense, and in a way that I think people –- or at least, the kind of people who read this site –- will enjoy. And hopefully not conversely, I’m focused on building something that feels right for me.
Some notes about all of this:
1. I don’t have a precise timetable. I’m hoping it won’t take too long, but it isn’t “imminent.” This is an always-dead time of year for X-E anyway, so it’s not like anyone’s missing much.
2. I’m not destroying X-E. I’m not taking X-E down. Eventually there will come a point where comments will be closed (or at least put on moderation, so people who hit some five-year-old thing about candy have a chance to detail their feelings on it), but nothing here is being removed.
3. Nothing here is being moved, either. This “fresh start” thing has to have sacrifices, and one of them is not cherry picking the stuff I actually like and presenting it again in a new format. I want that line in the sand to be thick and deep.
I’m giving you some early warning because, well, I guess I need to, right? If you have any questions, let me know. Just trust me that this will be a good thing, and there’s no need to eulogize.
Quick note: I joined Tumblr, which will hopefully grow into a nice side blog for the tiny things I normally wouldn’t waste space on here. I’m mainly using it as a depository for photos of the random things I own, but I’ve also been encouraged to color dinosaurs. I should have a regular post up on here by early next week, but in the meantime, here’s that other thing.
One thing I love about Christmas this year? Zero expectations.
Pulling the plug on both Advent Calendars and then deciding that I couldn’t do the site at all made for a massive departure from the Christmases I’ve grown accustomed to: The kind where I’m strangling clocks to finish weirdo X-E projects, and barely getting my hands off the keyboard in time for our Christmas Eve party.
It was hard to do that for a lot of reasons, but what surprised me was how utterly foreign Christmas felt when I wasn’t devoting every spare moment to living it through the site.
I’ve come to appreciate what this place really is for me: A chance to do the stupid things most people never bother with once they hit a certain age. I can’t imagine the everyday world building monster spumoni cakes, or trying out every recipe on every bag of limited edition holiday marshmallows.
Truth be told, once I removed X-E from the equation, I wasn’t gravitating to stuff like that, either.
I did see a little bit of what I’d been missing, though. That was the good part. All of the normal Christmassy things that I usually skip in favor of whatever I’m doing here. Someone in the last thread made a great point: You’re not going to have many new experiences if you spend every moment thinking about old ones. I don’t think they put it quite so eloquently, but that’s why I make the big bucks.
I will remember this going forward. It’ll mean less X-E, but it’ll also mean a better X-E.
Wasn’t bullshitting you, though. I really did need to get started on my “real life” work. I’d orchestrated my schedule to make the next marathon start in January, but even so, there was a ton of preparation involved with those projects. It got to the point where I looked at the calendar and thought, “…if I don’t really actually literally start this now, I am really actually literally being irresponsible.”
Doing this dumb site takes focus. I’m not good enough to babble mindlessly and get kudos. Even if you think I’m just babbling mindlessly now, rest assured, I’m babbling with such focus that even the faint sound of our neighbor’s wind chimes is driving me out of my fucking mind.
You can’t focus on stuff 24 hours a day, or however many hours you’re awake. I picked the thing that was more important to focus on. The sacrifice was ten more videos of me, babbling mindlessly, in Halloween makeup.
Funny story, at least to me: Even after announcing that I was canning them, I gave it another crack. Figured that if I could get through 5 or 6 videos in one sitting, Christmas could be saved for the ten people that actually enjoyed the things.
Shown above is a still frame from what would’ve been 12/16’s video. While doing a gag where I put on the makeup while filming, I got a good look at myself and realized that, indeed, it was probably time to go back to work.
See my dead red eyes? That’s what defeat looks like.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever do another video. I probably will, but there is certainly a part of me tempted to delete all of the previous editions and pretend they never existed. Still, in the funky mélange that is X-Entertainment, me coughing through a bunch of LEGO reviews seems to fit.
Every year, I try to incorporate a new cocktail into our Christmas Eve party. What I choose never seems to be imbibed by anyone but me, so I’ve stopped worrying about what might pry my family from their boring red wine. This is more about what I want.
For 2011, I wanted something with a real photographic quality to it. I wanted to look like I was celebrating Christmas in an upscale magazine spread. To accomplish this, I took a hope shot on a type of booze that I was completely unfamiliar with, all because it was so damn RED.
What’s it called? I don’t know, Asptero Apertivito, or something close to that. Wait no, Aperol. Aperol Aperitivo. Apparently, it’s a famous Italian pre-dinner drink. It tastes like oranges mixed with cough syrup. It has an alcohol content matching that of Progresso Beef Barley. But it is so damn RED.
If I don’t torch this bottle by Saturday, everyone’s going to think I’ve become so sophisticated. I’ll just need nicer socks.
Trying to spin a negative into a positive, I gathered all of the Christmas candies I didn’t get to write about and tossed ‘em in a basket. When I arrive on Christmas Eve, I will be a hero to the 400 children banging their heads against the walls.
It’s not about charity. I just want to see them battle it out. There’s only one tree-themed Push Pop in there. Nations have warred over less.
I can’t shake the feeling that this basket is going to ruin someone’s Christmas. Kids are already edgy at this time of year. I can just imagine the tearful episode after one of the bigger kids runs off with the only mini-carton of goldfish crackers. I should install a hidden camera in that wicker.
For dinner, we’re in charge of the stuffed mushrooms. We always are, for every holiday. Even birthdays.
I don’t get it. They’re not even that good. Maybe we’re not trusted to make anything but stuffed mushrooms? I wouldn’t eat crown roast, but I’d sure like to take credit for one someday.
While mushrooms are our sole edible responsibility, I’ve also decided to bring along a port wine cheese ball. I’m not happy about how they’ve fallen off the radar during recent Christmases. My parents taught me a lot, mainly about cigarettes and casinos, but also about port wine cheese balls. People at Christmas parties just seem to be in better spirits with one of those babies around.
Doesn’t matter if anyone eats it or not. It just needs to be there. The port wine cheese ball is the unspoken but super critical life of the party. Proof: It’s covered in sliced almonds, which is food’s version of a drunkard’s lampshade.
I’m writing this on Thursday night. Since it’s 5 AM, it’s technically Friday. Last day before Christmas Eve. I have so much to do, not the least of which being the completion of this post, which, at this point, is barely halfway done. I could end it here, but as this is supposed to be my merry mea culpa, I’m going to finish it tomorrow.
In the meantime, here’s a picture of the Incredible Hulk, eating lights.
It’s tomorrow, now. I can continue.
I love that photo. I’m so glad I didn’t throw Hulk away. I’ve been throwing everything else away, lately:
I mentioned a short while back that we’d begun clearing out my office, which, for several years now, has been a locked tomb containing all of the things idiots like me accumulate when nobody’s there to stop us.
That’s my office as of now. As terrible as it still looks, I cannot overstate how much of an improvement this is. No exaggeration: We’ve gone through at least 40 contractor bags so far, and that’s just for the stuff we deemed garbage.
I had oodles of still-packaged toys, too. Those, we donated. We filled every bin we could find. It felt great, despite knowing that even needy kids would probably balk at E.T. Walkie Talkies from 2003.
No, I’m not trashing everything I own, or the things I actually like. I’ve just hit a wall with this stuff. It’s not that I don’t want it around me; it’s that I don’t want it surrounding me. I’m not going to like Star Wars any less without those two plastic tubs filled with carded Revenge of the Sith figures.
As you can see, there’s still a long way to go. It was easy to toss things at first, because I owned so many things I plainly did not want. Now I’m inching closer to the nitty gritty, and fighting my impulses to hold on.
Like, that giant Robo-Force vehicle you see there, in the middle. I don’t need it. I’ve already written about it. Given its size and my miniscule chances of locating a box large enough to ship it in, I’m never going to eBay it. And I can’t say that my life is being improved much by owning a 500 foot Robo-Force vehicle.
Things like that gotta go. I can grow up a little. It’s not like I’m tossing the orange Halloween Boglin, mint in his cage-themed box. That would be crazy.
Shrunken Apple Head and his potato friend also celebrate Christmas. Since we never bothered to get a tree this year, they’re actually doing it better than us. On the other hand, who among you can honestly state that there’s a potato caroling in your living room? In their victory lies mine.
It’s now 3:30, Friday. I was supposed to have this up hours ago, but it’s been a whirlwind day of last minute gifts and post office trips. I also hear that one of my brothers is coming into town early, so the five “chore hours” I’d been banking on for tonight are now going to be spent peddling Aperol and eating olives stuffed with fantastic things.
Yet, I still feel compelled to finish this post, and it’s all because of the Pillsbury Doughboy. On the same day that I announced my “vacation,” I found that tube of Peppermint Sugar Cookies. What a slap in the face! Such a perfectly Christmassy thing to write about, and I couldn’t. I think it would haunt me all throughout 2012 if I let this one slip by.
They came out terrible. Delicious, but terrible. They’re not so much “cookies” as they are just one big “cookie,” and brother, that’s okay, because that mess of a photo is such a perfect metaphor for my Christmas season. I’ve already ordered 30×20” glossies. They cost too much.
There. Done. And not a moment too soon. So much left to do. So many mushrooms to stuff. So many gifts to wrap, once I remember which kids are getting which video games. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll even squeeze in one or two viewings of A Christmas Story.
I hope everyone has a chill and merry holiday. This thread is going to be up for a while. I look forward to reading about your own Christmas adventures. Haven’t decided if I’m doing a Fallout post yet, so have at it here if you can’t stand the wait.
It’s been a tricky season for sure, but serious strides were taken to make the next one great. As for the site, well, I’m diving into work immediately after Christmas, and that will go through most of January. Not planning to never post, but definitely not planning to promise much in the way of anything. Of course, since I say that, it’s guaranteed that I’ll post more often than I did last January!
The road to recovery is always rocky, but we’ll get there. And how.
Forget that, though. Now is the time for celebration. So go do that. Be a superstar.
Here’s the deal: I’m taking a break. I’m fried.
I think this has become increasingly obvious, but, if it hasn’t: I am fried.
I have a lot of work to do for real life stuff, and I think I’ve been giving too much time to this other thing here. (Which I love to do, but as it’s now honestly a hobby and nothing else, it’s become stupid to treat it like a business. Just have fun.)
I was originally going to can the videos and focus on just the blogs, but when I plopped down to write one today, it hit me: This really isn’t a good time for that, and wouldn’t be even if I wasn’t fried.
I’ll see how I feel in a week, after I’ve knocked out some of real work. I’m sorry that so many vows have been broken lately, but at least we can agree that they were silly vows. Bunny slippers and Christmas soda are not life or death.
It’s all good. It’s all good with me, so hope it’s all good with you. No weirdness. Let’s hug it out.
I’ll put up an all-purpose holiday thread tomorrow, which will be up for a while. (lol a year)
See you soon!
Every neighborhood has one family that goes beyond the call of duty with their Christmas decorations. If you’re lucky, yours has several.
One of the benefits of my McMansion-stuffed, gaudy-as-fuck hometown is how overboard some folks go on their Christmas displays.
The Griswold house in Christmas Vacation is only a slight exaggeration of what I’ve seen here in real life. If the image of holiday lights blitzing through enough electricity to power 60,000 Hybrids gets your noodle going, this is great place to visit. We also host several stars of the hit reality series, Mafia Wives. Continue reading
If you haven’t been keeping up with MM’s Star Wars LEGO Advent Calendar on YouTube…
Stay the course.
Today was a rough day. From the trivial to the crucial. I learned long ago that writing while preoccupied is rarely a good idea. On the other hand, Christmas is like, tomorrow, and I still have that big tub o’ holiday goodies to get through.
Think I’m gonna go for it. Just cut me some slack if I start writing about the nasty guy from the post office instead. He was so mean to me. All I’ve ever asked of anyone is kindness.
The picture might not say a thousand words, but it certainly says 35.
And two of them are really important:
It could mean so many things, but all of them are good. Excuse me for not knowing that there isn’t really a difference between tracking and delivery confirmation. In the time it took you to sigh, you could’ve just told me.
In this case, “Snowman Kit” refers to the bells and whistles that make snowmen snowmen. Let’s face it, not everyone has a spare hat. Almost nobody has coal. With this kit, you will no longer be forced to make snowmen with carrots and nothing else. Sing it from the rooftops, baby: Those days are over. Continue reading
You’ve all heard about this drama surrounding Coca-Cola’s attempt to save polar bears, aye?
I’ll be honest: I’ve only digested the broad strokes. Why bother putting research into this, when my real goal is to just show off a new Slurpee?
From what I can gather, the story goes like this: Coke, in their continuing effort to make the world better for polar bears, has released special edition cans with cute polar bear graphics on them. I assume that there’s some monetary donation aspect to this, as I can’t imagine Coca-Cola calling bear-themed can graphics “charity” without one.
All well and good. The cans are adorable. The problem, some say, is that these cans of normal Coca-Cola look too much like cans of Diet Coke. The complaints were large and loud enough for Coca-Cola to halt production and do everything short of a full-scale recall. I guess people who are too stupid to read cans are the winners, but what about the losers? What about the polar bears?
Polar bears get mean when they’re caught in the middle. They’re no longer cute. Unless, by “caught in the middle,” you mean literally, as if two brave jerks surrounded a polar bear and threw a beach ball to one another, just out of its reach. Then they’re still cute, flopping their heads and paws around like that.
That’s one of the cans. It does bear a stronger resemblance to Diet Coke than normal Coke, but, you know, it still doesn’t say “diet” anywhere. I’d also imagine that some potential confusion may be disarmed by the 10’ “DRINK COCA-COLA & SAVE BEARS” banners peppering every location where it’s currently sold. This whole thing just makes me mad. Do I sound mad?
I’m sketchy on the details beyond this. I know Coca-Cola did something to make things right, but I’m not sure if it was merely a promise to stop making diet-looking non-diet cans in the future, or something more aggressive. It’d be interesting if retail chains were actually being told to remove them from store shelves. Stuff like that usually only happens when secret poison is involved.
Well, that’s almost ten paragraphs. It’s at least more than five paragraphs. Now I can Slurpee like a turkey. (Trademarked.) Continue reading
It’s the scariest time of year. The time of year when we, the Christmas lovers, become lulled into that familiar and false sense of security.
“Oh, it’s barely mid-December, there’s still plenty of time left.”
Okay, but that “plenty of time” sure has a habit of feeling like two seconds. Make the mistake of blinking, and Christmas will already be over.
If you’ve been going about your Christmasing in a lazy way, it’s time to pick up the pace. Buy your gifts, watch your classics, and light at least one hideously overpowering pine-scented candle. If you don’t do it now, you might have to wait until 2012. That’s risky business. Remember what the Mayans said.
Taking my own advice, I noticed that I still have three more chapters in The Greatest Christmas Presents Ever series to get through. If I don’t want to be singing Santa’s praises in January (and I don’t), I better open the rest of these old ratty toys soon.
Let’s start now!
This is one of the big ones. Maybe the biggest.
If nothing else, it’s certainly the oldest. I received it on Christmas Eve in 1983, which would’ve made me just slightly under five-years-old.
I know, I know. You’ll never believe that I remember something from when I was that young, that long ago. I swear, I do. It’s the only thing I remember from that Christmas, but I swear, I do.
It was Christmas Eve. The big party at our house. Thirty people and thirty courses. As usual, my parents’ bedroom had been repurposed as the “coat room,” and what seemed like 500 jackets were piled on their bed.
I was drawn to Mount Coat in the same way kids can’t resist freshly raked piles of leaves. But this was even better. Instead of dirty wet leaves, I was swimming through fake fur and nylon. Just absolute glory.
Somewhere in that pile, I felt something. Something way too hard and bulky to be anyone’s jacket. Call it a sixth sense, but I knew it was going to be one of my presents. Since I was four-years-old, and Christmas was all about me, there could be no other explanation.
Under all of the coats, there it was. Unwrapped and still in a shopping bag.
I couldn’t have known it at the time, but I’d go on to value it as one of the greatest Christmas presents I ever received, even over 25 years later.
Get ready. Get set. Bo!
Shuda. Continue reading