The Dark Web Podcast episode 2

In this episodes I talk about the original Transformers animated cartoon. Other topics include Wii U games coming to the Nintendo Switch, YouTube shows making their way onto traditional streaming services like Amazon Prime, and a look back at the history of cable TV.

Exploring digital music stores

I have reached a point in my music collecting that I need to explore other options. I like buying CD’s because they offer me a physical thing I can put on a shelf while also giving me the ability to rip the tracks to my hard drive and then move them to my iPod. The problem is, CD’s are not getting any cheaper for some reason. I buy from Amazon and even though I have Prime, it still ends up costing 7-10 per CD. I was buying them for $2 to $3 each brand new unopened or $.99 used from Hastings. Sadly, Hastings is no longer in business. There doesn’t seem to be any other new or used CD retailers near by so I have turned to the internet. I was hoping I would find some cheap alternative to Amazon but it doesn’t appear to be the case. Now I am exploring digital options.

First, I am NOT anti or pro digital. I have always been for whichever options is cheapest while being the most consumer friendly. My primary reasons for sticking to CD’s has always been cost. When I can get a CD for under $5 even if I only like 2-3 songs, it’s worth it because I value the packaging and artwork, the physical item, at least $1 value so I tend to figure that’s a good price. It’s not like in the 90’s and early 2000’s when I was spending $12 to $15 for a CD just for 2-3 songs, if that. Cost value has always been a factor. I purchase music from iTunes a lot but based on cost alone. For instance, if I know for a fact I only want literally 1 songs from a certain CD and it’s not worth the space having a physical copy would add to the clutter, then I pick up the song from iTunes for the $.99 or $1.29 they tend to be. However, if I know I want all of or a majority of songs, for example Doggystyle by Snoop Dogg, I wanted the whole record, so I was not going to spend the $9.99 on a digital copy when I would prefer a physical copy with the fold out pamphlet. This is another reason why just having a single JPEG for the album art sucks, you just get the superficial cover, you don’t get the actual contents of the booklets.

I realized there had to be a better option. I shot down Amazon digital because the selection sucks. Sometimes they have a “CD” I want and sometimes they just have selections from the artists library. I have come across HUNDREDS of songs or albums they do not have. iTunes has a similar shortcoming so in those instances I tend to look for the actual CD. I tried Pandora but I hate Pandora. I even tried the paid option for a period and it wasn’t any better. I learned Pandora is designed to help you “discover” music. I am 35, I discovered all the music I like when I was a teenager now I just want to build up my collection so I can have music to listen to when I am in the right mood.

Then I tried Spotify. At first it seemed like the perfect option. I could add ENTIRE albums to my playlist, if I paid a monthly fee I could turn off ads, and the player wasn’t terrible to navigate. The first shortcoming I noticed, however, was like Amazon and iTunes they are limited to licenses. This means sometimes they have the ORIGINAL recordings by the original artists, and other times they have those disgusting “Remastered” copies. It’s never clear if a remastered edition refers to them cleaning up the original audio recording tapes from before digital like they did in the 90’s, or this new, very disgusting trend where old men attempt to re-record songs in their twilight years hoping they will sound the same as when they were young men. Trust me I have compared plenty of original recordings to the remastered versions and I can ALWAYS tell the difference. Something  is always off. Maybe the drummer gets tired and starts to slow down, maybe they are using a different drum kit than before, sometimes the guitarists tunes his guitar different or the singer just can’t hit the high notes like he could when he was young. Sometimes it’s noticeable but not too terrible and other times it literally sounds like a damn cover band. I hate that.

Also, they always add new tracks, usually “studio sessions” or demo crap I am not interested in. I want the ORIGINAL album just like it was when it was originally released. The whole point in buying CD’s or records even if you go that far, is to have a tangible item from your actual past. Not some replica. I don’t want reproduction NES carts and I don’t want artists re-recording their songs and selling replicas of their real works.

I have also run into the issue of rights. Sometimes Spotify only has the rights to a selection of songs from an artists not their entire works. This isn’t a problem for mainstream artists but when looking for tracks by techno DJ’s from the 80’s or those quirky low-selling alternative bands from the 90’s suddenly it becomes an issue. To make matters even worse, sometimes they don’t even have full soundtrack albums just a user created playlist containing the closest example of the songs from that soundtrack. I couldn’t even find a single recording of Techno Syndrome by the Immortals, the THEME song to Mortal Kombat. It wasn’t available on any of the digital stores, not even Pandora or Amazon. Nothing. Now I already have the complete line of CD’s, including More Kombat which is just a few bonus songs, but still if someone wasn’t aware of that shortcoming they wouldn’t be able to “discover” that song because it doesn’t exist as far as the digital stores are concerned.

All things considered I realized that buying digital is not the best way to go even still in late 2017. By now you would think they would have everything digital but its like streaming movies services, somehow less is more is their philosophy and its just frustrating as a consumer. I guess I will just stick to buying CD’s for the most part resorting to digital only when it’s necessary to acquire the one or two obscure songs from a particular artists, assuming iTunes or Amazon even has the song I want. I couldn’t find a single store that had Beautiful by Joydrop. I don’t want to spend the outrageous price they want for a copy of the CD for just 1 song so I either have to do without or settle for streaming from YouTube. That is, until YouTube decides to take the video down, again.

A look at internet shopping: buying groceries from Amazon?

It was probably 2000 or 2001. I was watching an episode of smart guy and they found they had some toy or something that was worth a whole lot of money on eBay and the two kids went crazy selling a bunch of stuff on eBay. This was the first time I ever considered buying anything online so I went to and decided to check it out and see what they had. I signed up for an account and started buying stuff on eBay mostly toys and collectibles from my childhood at this point. Go back then being that I wasn’t fully an adult I didn’t have a credit card or a bank account and I still live with my parents I had money since I had a job, but I didn’t have any way to pay for stuff. What I did was I had to buy money orders and mail them to people. That made shopping online a hassle. Pretty soon eBay would take that option away and replace everything with PayPal, a smart move I thought. Now I shop on Amazon all the time.

Last night I did something I had never done before. I filled up a box of Amazon pantry and I ordered groceries through the internet to have them delivered to my door. I know people who would laugh at the idea of buying groceries online. I was probably one of them for the longest time. But once I started shopping around I realize  they were selling a lot of the same foods I buy when I go to the dollar store, only they had a lot more variety and their prices were just as fair.

It’s no secret I’m one of those people that hates leaving the house. But my motivation this week for buying my groceries online wasn’t because I didn’t want to go anywhere. It was actually quite simple. My bank account is empty so I had to use my Amazon Prime card to shop online. They just happened to have groceries.

When I look at our social media world I realize that most of my friends are people that I know through the internet. A lot of them are just avatars with usernames that I know through discussion boards or video games. I can honestly say I am thoroughly connected to the web. I don’t have cable. All of my entertainment comes through my PlayStation. I get all my movies, TV shows and video games through my PlayStation.  I get all my comic books on my phone. I have a tablet I can get comic books and movies on. I create web videos. I have a podcast. I run this blog. I do pretty much everything in my world online. Yet I still feel like I’m connected. I’m enjoying life and getting things done.

Being able to buy food from the internet then having it delivered to your house it’s a little different than actually going to the local supermarket. I’m kind of leery about ordering a box of food to have it delivered to my doorstep, especially when I don’t want people to steal my food. I know I would be paranoid if I just left it sitting out there waiting for me to come pick it up could probably walk away.

I’ve already transitioned to a point where I do most of my shopping online. When I started out I was using eBay. I was only buying things through the internet  that I couldn’t buy locally easily. Things like Transformers collectibles, rare comic books, hard to find video games, stuff like that. As I got more and more used to it I bought all my college books online once I realized it was cheaper than buying them from a bookstore. I’ve slowly started buying all my comic books online. Once I discovered Netflix my transition to doing everything on the internet was almost complete. I still had cable for a while but I started using it less and less. In some ways I kind of see this as a milestone. Moving forward I am getting closer and closer to a time where I don’t buy anything locally and this is kind of a conflict for me.

For the longest time I believed in shopping locally because I was under the impression that if you shop locally you create local jobs. I believed that until I went to college and started studying business. I started realizing that if Walmart can come to town they might put four or five shops out of business. But those four or five shops don’t employ anybody. They’re usually just four or five entrepreneurs who employ themselves and maybe one or two part times. So when Walmart brings in 200 jobs I don’t see that as a bad thing. One of my economics professors also pointed out that if you can save money shopping online or shopping at Walmart, that gives you more money to spend elsewhere in the community on the businesses that you wouldn’t have otherwise patronized. For example there’s a custom furniture shop in town. If you have to spend all your money on groceries, clothing and household items,  you don’t have any left over to buy custom furniture. You just buy random junk from the thrift store or yard sales or whatever you can get your hands on.

That money doesn’t go into the hands of anybody and there’s certainly no tax benefit from it. But if you can save a considerable or even significant amount of money by shifting your purchases to online or even shopping at places like Walmart you can free up money in your budget to be able to spend it on what that specialty shop you’re still giving your money to local business and entrepreneurs while  still putting money back into the tax pool.

Now I’m going to be honest. There are a lot of things I couldn’t buy off of Amazon. They didn’t sell dairy products. There wasn’t any frozen foods. They certainly didn’t sell any meats. Well, except for canned meats.

One thing I did notice they had an abundance of are those complete meals. It’s basically a whole meal  like a meatloaf or some type of dinner that has a meat and the potato underneath. I buy these from the dollar store anyways. They sit in my cupboard until I’m ready to microwave them. These are also pretty good meals.  The best part is Amazon had a pretty good assortment of canned foods and box dinners too. Again stuff that I already am buying from the dollar store.

I realized if I can spend the same money, or even less, and have it delivered to my door I don’t see the downside to me buying a box of groceries off of Amazon pantry. Especially if I can just put it on my Amazon credit card. I even noticed that you can clip coupons during the transaction.

What if I want a gallon of milk or a carton of eggs? I’ll still have to go to the grocery store. but I think I can probably fill my cupboards and do without some of that stuff. I can also save money by not buying ingredients for meals. This way I won’t be trying to cook something that I’ll just mess up, eat a little bit then throw away. I guess when you get down to it if you’re already not a big fan of going out in public, while being on a very tight budget, you start to get creative. I think shopping Amazon Pantry is another way to just be more reliant upon the internet. For better or for worse, this is the world we live in.

Summer movie challenge:60 movies in 60 days

Here is the challenge, to watch 60 movies during the month of May and June. I will have considerable downtime beginning with the end of school so I will try to make use of all the dvd’s I have been buying lately. This is not a one movie a day challenge, that would be impossible as I have no time to watch movies on certain days of the week. Instead I will rely on weekends to make up for lost time, possibly fitting in 3 or 4 on each Saturday and Sunday.

The goal is to get through as many of the films in my DVD collection that I have never seen, or have not seen in a very long time, or have only seen once and have forgotten the majority of. I am going to only count the movies I watch on DVD, including Blu Ray, but not streaming so even if I watch a film on Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Amazon, etc, it will not count towards my goal. Only feature length, live action films count so if I end up watching a Shrek or Pixar film it won’t count towards the challenge. Exception to this is the TMNT film from 2007 as it is part of the live action set, even though it is animated.

I will keep track of the movies I watch and log them in a note book. I will write a brief summary of the film, my impressions of it from the perspective of this challenge weather it was a waste of time or worthy of my viewing. I am planning on getting through all of, or as many of, the films in my collection that I have never seen. Mostly I have movies in those 4 packs or other boxed sets where I have only seen certain movies in the collection but want to get through the ones I have missed, or a few rare instances where I picked up a movie I was told was good but haven’t gotten around to watching it yet. I will avoid things like Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Pirates of the Caribbean, as much as I can considering I watch them so frequently as it is. Also movies I see in the theater will not count towards this challenge, although I do have quite a few I intend to see this summer.

There are a couple exceptions. First as is tradition I will be watching the Friday the 13th films in the month of June as I do every year. Since I finally have a complete Jason collection now I am hoping to view all 12 Jason films including Jason X and the remake. Hopefully between now and then I can come across a decent copy of Sleepaway camp on DVD to add to the collection as I really want to squeeze that into my summer camp slasher collection this year if I can.

What inspired this challenge? Well partially as a film lover I enjoy watching movies. I collect movies on DVD, VHS, LaserDisc, 8mm (film and tape), CED, Beta Max, iTunes, UltraViolet, Blu Ray, HD-DVD, and I subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime all for the film catalogs. With work and school these last couple of years keeping me busier than ever I haven’t had the time to do much of anything. Well I have shuffled things around, finished with school for now, and am in a job that is very flexible on the hours. So this is the best time for me to pull something like this off. It won’t be easy as many of my Saturday nights are going to be devoted to school functions for the newspaper, but I am okay with that. Inspiration also comes from being a member of the Blu Ray forum community on the film-fan devoted website where the various users there do these sorts of challenges all the time. But I am also doing this because I want to see how many films I haven’t seen I can get through.

It will not be a literal 60 days, I will begin May 1st and end June 30th. But I will keep track of the films I view for the challenge and write my impressions of them and make a report on my progress as I go along. This is also something for me to do to get inspires to write some stuff for the very neglected blog here. Be sure to check back once in a while to keep up with the progress as I go.

So what happens if I complete the challenge? Aside from getting to watch 60, hopefully good movies, I will also be forcing myself to write content for the blog. This aspect is to get me inspiration so I can start doing more with this thing. Also if I do complete the challenge then I also will have written several movie reviews for the site. If I fail to complete the challenge then it isn’t a big deal to me, I might not have the time to make it work so this is more for fun not that I have anything to prove. Especially if I get busy with living then I won’t have the time to waste watching so many movies.