5 Ways to Escape

Now, perhaps more than ever, I’m finding myself longing for fantastical escapes. I could spend a minute or two detailing what has brought myself and many of you (I’m sure) to this point, but we are faced with it everyday. And rather than shine more light on the beast lurking in our backyard, I want to share 5 ways to physically and mentally escape from the mayhem infecting our current situation. Thank you so much for spending a few minutes with me today and I really hope you take something away from this list.

Let’s get started!

1. Read Fantasy

Many of you already do this. My advice is do it more. And when you’re done with a novel, assign a few tasks to yourself. Write down the characters you found most compelling and make a list of questions you would ask the author about them. Maybe ask a friend of yours to read the same book and once he/she is through with it, make a 10 question quiz for each other. Many fantasy books come with maps printed either at the beginning or the end of the story. Study those maps. Think of other stories that may have taken place in that world. Using your own head canon in conjunction with the established world the author has made can be a lot of fun. At the bottom of this page, I will link to a few independent authors whose fiction work I enjoy very much. I believe you will as well!

2. Create Create Create

One thing that has always bothered me is hearing someone say “I’m just not creative.” That’s nonsense. You are. You are far more creative than you realize or give yourself credit for. It’s faulty thinking to assume creativity is limited to the arts. You apply a level of creativity in your life every single day. If you didn’t, you would never be able to solve any of your own problems. My task for you is to explore a new avenue of creativity. Draw something, even if you’re not a great illustrator. Pick up an instrument, even if you don’t have the most keen ear for music. Build something out of wood, even if you have to watch a thousand YouTube tutorials to get it done. The point is to achieved a feeling of accomplishment. Something that would otherwise not exist, does now because you gave it life. Trust me when I say that that feeling can become very intoxicating. Go make something!

3. Play Video Games

While I do suggest a good novel as your first course of exploring a new world, video games are not without their own avenue of splendor. Whether it’s a game you’ve played before and know to what degree you will escape or it’s a game you haven’t tried yet, video games have the power to transport you in a way that is unique. From climbing the snowy mountains of Skyrim, to slaying a skyscraper sized beast in Shadow of the Colossus, games give you a sense of what it would be like to wield a power beyond our worldly comprehension. While it is safe to monitor your intake of this pass-time and not let too many hours fall off of the clock without moving your body, a quick trip to a far away digital land can be a very fun and exhilarating experience!

4. Start a Podcast

This one is tricky because while it is a very fun way to escape, you need to manage your expectations and start this adventure for the right reasons. Starting a podcast, in recent years has become very easy and very accessible. There are thrivingly successful shows that are recorded on cellphones. The audio isn’t great but the content is golden. If you’re wanting to start your own, understand that the market is completely saturated and you have decent odds that no one outside of you and your close friends will listen to it. That’s also the beauty of it! Think of your podcast as an audio journal. A recorded audio history of your life. Maybe one day your kids will be able to listen to it and learn things about you they didn’t know. It can be a sort of time capsule of your experiences. If you approach it that way, the motivation becomes less about others and more about personal preservation. And also, learning audio production is a useful skill that will surprisingly transfer to many other disciplines.

5. Hike….A Lot!

It doesn’t matter if you live rurally and have quick access to woodland areas or you live in a more metropolitan area, you can find hiking spots. My brother lives in the middle of Chicago, Illinois. He is only an hour to an hour and a half away from a state park with forests and hiking trails. The United States frontier is still very much intact and is waiting for you to explore it! The sounds of nature play like a gorgeous sonata that you never hear the same one twice. Every trip into the mountains is completely unique and teaches you something different about yourself. You don’t need to string up a tent and live there to experience the beauty of it. While camping is always an option, I’ve found that a lengthy hike is more purposeful as it has a conclusion that is in sight, and there for, makes you embrace the moment in a more meaningful way. Hikes are also very enjoyable if you have children. Watching your kids experience the natural world with such youthful glee is something that a parent will cherish forever. Find a way to make those memories. If you live near a forest, explore it, if you don’t, plan a trip to your nearest park and get outside!

The book links mentioned in #1.

Who is Running the Casino?

How shocked would you be to learn that there are video game publishers in the industry who are not honest? Publishers who exploit and coax their consumers out of millions of dollars every single year. You don’t need to be heavily involved in that market to see what is going on. If there has been one “loot box” debacle in the last five years, there has been a hundred of them. Once those gaming companies smelled blood, they pounced on the opportunity to capitalize on an addicted audience. Even those of us who were keen to what was going on were duped in some ways. The idea of there being continuous content releasing for a game title sounds like an exciting idea on the surface. It sounds like a gift that keeps on giving. But once you stop to think about it critically, the mask comes off.

And just like the famous Poe story, you’re staring into the face of the red death. It got what it wanted and needed from you and is now marching away with your dollar. You can’t recoup it. It’s in the hands of people who hate you and you handed it to them willingly. Why do they hate you? Besides from the fact that they would see you part with your earnings in order to fund their gambling enterprises, it is what they are using those earnings for that solidifies they’re contempt for their audience.

There it is. It is crystal clear now and not up for debate. These companies use your money to fund domestic terror organizations and they are completely honest about it. It doesn’t matter where you fall on the sides of the argument. One thing we can all agree on is that we are at a crossroads with these companies. We have the choice to continue funding them, which in turn, funds our own demise, or we can use the most powerful weapon to deflate them.

This weapon is not a brick through a window, or a car on fire. This weapon is not even a firearm or a sharp blade. The weapon is your dollar. You have to ask yourself if purchasing that really awesome map in Call of Duty or that cool looking character skin in Mortal Kombat is worth your morals, your soul. You don’t just have a responsibility to yourself in this situation, you have a responsibility to society. Now that you know where the funds go, you’re actively in support of their campaign if you offer a single cent for their products. The mask is off and the devil is at the door.

The Death of Irony

It’s hard to explain human instinct and even harder to defend it. I think that’s because our instincts serve as our natural reactions to the ever so complicated questions about our society. What damages the left so much in terms of arguing their position is the fact that there is no irony among them. They’ve tried (quite successfully) to reduce society’s complexities to their simplest forms. Black/White, Good/Evil, Rich/Poor. This makes them feel emboldened when jumping on the side that claims to have minorities and poor people in mind. For them, it seems to be the only logical conclusion if they are going to be decent people. So much to the fact that anything that strays from that very narrow position is viewed as the enemy, immediately. They’ve burnt away the middle ground.

That’s why we see cities burning to the ground right now. The “irony” issue is also why the left is terrible at memes. There is something hilarious about the obvious. There is something hilarious about irony. When your worldview is predicated on emotional reactions, your ability to convey your feelings gets messy because emotions do not govern you rationally. They are the fringe edges of your responses. Memes are simple. If the message is complicated and not rooted in reality, but only emotion, your memes are terrible. If your memes are grounded in the obvious, then the funnier you make the picture, the better the meme. When the message is already crystal clear and logically sound, then the accompanying picture serves as dessert for the dish.

Maybe it is low hanging fruit to diagnose the left’s comedic bankruptcy, but the right does not exist in that arena without its faults and limitations. Where the left fails at conveying their worldview for them not having one, the right often builds its own airplane in the basement by not fully exploring their access to free speech. This is often due in part to their religious dedication. Which clearly I commend, seeing as I am a Christian myself. But the reluctance to crawl in the ditch and sling the same brand of mud as the rest of the battlefield I believe is a weakness. We have an interesting situation in which many of the views touted by the right are supported by logic and reason. In turn, those views should not strictly be communicated by memes.When you have the strength of irony and the sharpness of the spoken word, you have the deadliest combination that any opposing argument could be met with.

Move To The Mountains

My family and I are mountain people. For as far back as I’ve looked, the Finleys, the Campbells, the Belchers, the Days and the Brownings have all resided and raised their own in the heart of the Appalachia, specifically in McDowell, Logan, Mingo and Wyoming counties. At an early age, I was introduced to the stigmas and stereotypes that many assume about the mountain folk of the Tug River Valley. Old legends like the Hatfields and McCoys feud and the Matewan massacre have painted quite the picture for the rest of the country to gather their presumptions from. Many of the stories about the very rugged days of southern WV are true, others, not so much. Regardless the amount of blood shed in these hills or the number of rumors spread about shoeless wildlings robbing tourists, I still find myself longing to be here.

Over the years, I’ve seen countless friends and family members flee the state for what they argue are good reasons. A decent living isn’t the easiest thing to come by and in many parts of Appalachia, driving to find the nearest civilized area of shopping centers and restaurants can take your entire day. It’s not the most convenient region to live in if you’re someone who cares about convenience. And for those reasons, I’ve never harbored any ill will toward my friends who have left. Many of them are doing very well for themselves. Others are trying to find ways to get back here as soon as they can because of what has recently erupted in our country. And that brings me to the entire point of this blog.

Often online, myself and others who live in the more rural parts of the country, try to encourage people to move here. Of course I understand uprooting your entire situation and moving to the mountains on the advice of someone you don’t really know seems nothing short of crazy. I’m aware of that. And I don’t say “move to the mountains” as a judgement of anyone who doesn’t move out of a bad a situation at the drop of a hat. I understand the complexities of adult life very well, trust me. But aside from that, I genuinely invite you and your family to move to Appalachia. If you’ve been disenfranchised by your local government and they’ve proved to be tyrannical deviants throughout our current crisis, you should honestly sit down with your loved ones and consider relocating to an area where freedom is paramount to the culture and government interference in your life is minimal at best. It is possible. And if you find yourself in southern WV, please feel free to reach out to me. I have made my living here doing what I love and I’ve made too many contacts to count. I am more than willing to help anyone looking for a better and more free life for themselves and their families. Maybe it is odd to do this kind of thing in a blog, but I’m not too worried about that. I genuinely love other people and I want you to be as happy as you can be and take advantage of what it really means to live in this country. There has been too much blood shed securing our rights to this place to not live in it as prosperously as we can.

So consider this an invitation. It’s not easy, but nothing worth doing ever is.

Move to the mountains.

32 And Growing

What can be said that hasn’t already been articulated by the concerned masses regarding The Last Of Us 2? My reaction to the leaks were similar to many of you all’s, although I wasn’t shocked by the insertion of the trans character or the developer’s insistence that players accept a story that doesn’t just hinge on the support of homosexuality, but demands you fight for it. However, I was shocked at how unsubtle Naughty Dog has been about these changes in their very popular franchise.

I wasn’t a very big fan of the first game. Other than some very effective and rather enjoyable moments in the game’s score, I walked away from the actual playing experience feeling extremely underwhelmed. I couldn’t wrap my head around what was making it such a popular title. It’s drab, dread inducing and clearly works hard to score well in the depression olympics. It seemed clear to me that Neil Druckmann wanted to shock as opposed to entertain. Once realizing that, I stopped thinking about the game entirely, so my feelings about the leaks of the new game are pretty benign seeing as I was very unlikely to play it anyway. The leaks did however do something else for me. They changed my position on a certain type of gaming that I had previously been very critical of.

32 And Growing

I haven’t been shy about my criticism of all the AAA remakes that have came out over the last five years. Before giving any of them a chance, I viewed them as depressing evidence that the best years of gaming were already behind us. And even though that may still be the case, my position on a few of these remakes (as games) has changed, substantially. Going back two years, I remember feeling all sorts of different ways when the Shadow Of The Colossus remake dropped. That is a world that I adored as a teenager, but seeing the trailers of the remake of it in gorgeous 4K was more interesting than it was amazing at first. I felt teased. Am I really interested in revisiting a game that meant so much to me at the time it came out?

I was much younger when I first played it. My life was very different and that game played a specific role in it. What role could it play now? Would it just be me throwing $60 at a piece of nostalgia just so I can see it in HD, or was there a new found magic in this very worthy game? Then I played it. As expected, the hairs on my neck stood up when the first notes of the score began. I wasn’t just walking back into a world I adored, I was exploring it with a fresh set of eyes. It became clear after the first few boss fights that this game was more than deserving of this remake, and the developers poured every ounce of love they had in to making not just a romp in the past, but a celebration of what that game really is. In a nutshell, I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated having it in my life again.

I didn’t start to become sour on remakes until I saw what the industry began doing with them. What started out as a fun way to revisit old games was beginning to feel like an exploit. Once one became successful, two or three more would get announced. That is when I realized that the best years of gaming may in fact be behind us. If you follow this blog or if you follow me personally on any social media platforms, you know that I am very open about shaming companies when I think they’ve taken advantage of consumers. That is what it felt like was happening. And then I played more of them.

To my surprise, the few remakes I have played now have recaptured me, but they’ve done so in a different way than when I was younger. The Zombies in the Resident Evil 2 remake are a far more horrifying and exhilarating to kill and the character and set design in the Final Fantasy 7 remake is actually some of the best I’ve ever seen in gaming all together. What exactly was I so worried about? In my defense, we live in a time when our media plays to our weaknesses and does so by chipping away at our pockets. I’m a father now, I’m married, I have a mortgage and car payments. My pocket has to stay intact. But after spending significant time with a few of these remakes, it feels more like a celebration of my past than it does a sad revelation. I have become thankful to have them. The ones I’ve given my time to have proved to be more than worthy of it. It’s as if the developers know their core audience has grown and have reimagined these titles in a way that speaks to our older selves. It is a very pleasant surprise.

Would I feel like I am missing something if they weren’t in my life? Probably not. But I am happy that they are. In an age when finding games that are worth engaging with is very rare, it still seems to be the games of yore that are deserving of our time.

It’s not about the money.

Jumping on one side of the fence or the other proves to be a useless endeavor when discussing new media. The instinct to pack up and echo the sentiments of those you agree with is strong, but leaves little room for nuance once the obvious talking points are out there. I jump into these groups as well. It’s only natural. Finding like minded individuals in a space that is fraught with hysteria, race baiting, identity politics and anti-western agendas is like wandering through a desert, dehydrated and dying, and then finding a water source. The issue is I think there is a detail about our troubled media environment that we do not cover enough.

It’s not about the money.

Think about the last time you heard news from Hollywood that interested you. I mean truly made you pause and offer it a second of your day. I know that I don’t just speak for myself when I say that my default position regarding Hollyweird is deaf, mute and non reactionary. I’ve developed a facility in me that processes it’s existence silently and then discards it in a similar way it disposes of the thoughts about my ex-wife. Yes, Hollywood and it’s godless sycophants are on par with my ex-wife. Which is not an easy task, but I assure you they’ve earned it. What has made their campaign in recent years more sinister than we appreciate is not only their insistence on your parting with your dollar, but the fact that they already have so much of it that they rely on it to function as a bank that will never deplete. Money in this fashion is not limited to what you have in your checking and savings account. This currency is your time, attention, and interest. This situation, be it gross and exploitative, goes even deeper.

Look at the box office duds over the last few years. Franchise fatigue doesn’t help the matter, but the real problem these film studios have is that they market to people who don’t watch their movies. The same can be said for the comics industry. Marvel saw its darkest year to date in 2017 and even rumored layoffs and potentially a complete restart of the company. Any rational minded business entity would internalize such failure and evaluate the cause. If these companies had gone through the natural and HONEST process of diagnosing their issues, they would either cease to exist or remodel themselves in a way that would appeal to the audience that so abruptly left them. They did not and will not do this. Why? I believe the answer to that is dark. It’s not about money to them anymore. It’s about reminding you that they hate you and they hate what you stand for. Profit in their eyes means to embarrass and shame your way of life. It’s beneficial because it scores them a seat at the table of the cult. While this cult would be empowered by your continued financial support, they find their strength in the taboo ramblings of the witches that bid for them on social media. Aligning with those deviants at the cost of your relationship with them is a small price to pay if the alternative means they have riots at their theaters and bricks thrown through the windows of their comic shops. They’ve left you. But what began as abandonment has now turned its head to spit where you walk. Step outside of the line of fire. Leave these people where you found them- In your childhood. The people from your past deserve your reverence, not the media from your past. The people you shared those films, those comics, those games with, they are what made those experiences. They are durable and they love you. The media you consumed, while it was a useful tool to use while bonding with your peers, has proved to be just that, a tool. Tools wear, tools break. And when they do, you throw them out.

The sensible next step.

The last decade has brought about a war. I don’t use that term (war) hyperbolically. It is in fact a war for the hearts and minds of consumers. The fringe corners of the globe are homes to creators who’s works are inspired by God, love, passion and history. Works that are born out of conditioning the human spirit and exploring the vast reaches of individual experiences. Works that cannot be replicated or mimicked, only interpreted. The men and women behind these works have a wide range of backgrounds, but their commonality is very clear. They are motivated by the desire to share their uniquely inspired creations with you. They produce their work for the sake of it existing. The fact that currency transacts is not the biggest player in their relationship with you. It’s almost natural to take these creators for granted because they ask so little of us, save for our support, a little time and maybe 99 cents to 5 dollars, and often times not even that. They offer you a chance to explore new worlds, escape into a cosmos you know nothing about, learn about people who will only ever exist between those two covers. It’s a truly miraculous thing to engage with if you’ve taken the time to find these creators and support them.

My good friend Brian Niemeier recently published a book titled “Don’t Give Money to People Who Hate You.” It is essential reading on this matter. In his book, Brian details why you should re-evaluate your relationship with what you consume and why you should be careful not to fund the campaigns that detest you. The link to Brian’s book is below. I highly urge you to read it. Thanks for spending a few minutes with me today.

The Stench of Man Flesh

Long have we waited – and the day has come! Orcs from all corners of the globe are united! We have been aligned with the most sinister folk of modern times. This natural ally has brought our purpose to the forefront and we will now have the numbers necessary for a proper revenge!

The stench of man flesh draws near. What disgusting creatures, with their honor and values – their religions and morals – their arrogance and persistence. BLAH! They will all leave this earth writhing in pain! Then and only then will the Orcs, the superior beings blanket the earth with a terror worthy of song, of legend.

To our new comrades, we thank you for your fight! The Orcs are bound by nothing, save for a poor broadband connection. Without the war you’ve waged for our kind in the digital sphere, our return would’ve been for not! You have proved yourselves worthy companions in this campaign of global domination.

However, there is one thing to address about our new relationship.


We are aware that you share a bloodline with many of the pigs we want to slaughter. This will not be held against you, on one condition. You must alter yourselves indefinitely. By sight, it appears that many of you lack the muscle density it would require to participate on the battlefield. If you’re not to be left bleeding in the mud, you will take part in a new Orc conditioning regiment. This will ensure that your body can take the inevitable beating it will suffer in combat.

If you fail, then you are weak, your bloodline is weak, and you will not be remembered.

READY?! MARCH!

When The Creeks Rise

If you’re reading this, first I’d like to wish you and your family a safe journey through the very trying times our world is facing at the moment. I don’t believe this has been easy for anyone. I understand how uncertain things are right now, but I do believe we will hold it together, make our way through this and come out the other side much stronger than before. Hopefully by the end of this blog, you will feel more motivated to face these days head on and make the most out of a difficult situation.

Lock Down

In 2001, a terrible flood hit southern WV, destroying small towns and ravaging homes. The coal hollow I was born and raised in was completely destroyed. McDowell County had already been seeing financial hardships since the mid 70’s when U.S. Steel pulled out of the state, leaving the economy crippled. Already off it’s balance and barely hanging on, the flood swooped in to essentially put that region of Appalachia out of its misery. This was my reality at 13 years old.

I didn’t expect to have to change and adapt to something so drastic that quick in my life. While I have so many memories of people helping each other out during that crisis, there is one image I’ll never forget. One of the oldest cemeteries in the country is in my home town of Gary. It is also the only cemetery in the country that has a main highway running through it. One section of the cemetery is in a valley and the other (on the other side of the highway) is on a steep hillside. As a result of a sludge pond breaking on top of the mountain, a large mudslide swept large sections of the cemetery away. The break was so deep, it had uprooted caskets. There were bones laid out in the middle of the road. Now, to try and convince you that I was somehow traumatized by this would be very dishonest. I was a young teenager, I loved skateboarding and heavy metal. Seeing bones in the road was rad as hell to me then. It wasn’t until I was a bit older that I truly appreciated how horrible that actually was.

A few days after the initial flood, our mayor placed out town on a temporary lock down. That was originally more frightening to me than the flood. The idea of being trapped in my house with my mom, dad and brother was horrifying to me. But in an attempt to get the flood relief organized and to crack town on the unfortunate looting issue we were seeing, it seemed like the necessary thing to do. It is Orwellian and creepy to be told not to leave your home. It’s not natural. We are wanderers. We descend from clans of hunters and gatherers. Being confined to any one area is not in our DNA.

Solutions

No matter what my gripe was, it was happening. I was stuck inside. It was a weird time, but I viewed it as a crossroads moment. I could let my mind get the better of me and spiral out of control, creating a tornado of shit in my house and fight with family, or I could do something with that time that would make me feel better. I could grow, I could get stronger. I could have a “war story”, as I referred to it back then. Fortunately for my folks and for myself, I decided to find peace in my isolation. I started writing. That wasn’t something I did very often, but it was very therapeutic for me at the time. I revisited some older video games I hadn’t played in a while and I began having fun again while making up my own head canon to add a new element to them. My brother and I started making short films with my Star Wars figurines. I remember taking a piece of cardboard, painting it black and punching hundreds of holes in it with a needle so we could shine a light behind it to make a space effect. I’m still proud of that to this day. It looked fantastic!

Once I was in my groove, I forgot that I was shut in to my house. I had made my home the most interesting place to be. Thankfully, even now as an adult, I still have not lost my desire to have fun. I think it has developed a facility in me in which I process the stresses in my life by being creative. That is also something that my daughter and I share. At just 6 years old, she does not become overly emotional in most cases you would expect a child become so. And while she is encouraged to show her emotions when she has them, she chooses to focus on fun and laughter. I am thankful to God everyday for that, especially in times like these.

If you’re stressed today, breathe deep and find something that brings a smile to your face, no matter what it is. And once you find it, share it with your loved ones. These days tend to be unpredictable, but there is one thing I am certain of. We will come out the other side of this much stronger and more capable than before. While the reality of what we’re dealing with can be scary, the reward from our perseverance will be worth our trials.

Hard times make hard people.

A Galaxy Far Far Far Far Far Far Away….

I won’t waste any time talking about my background with Star Wars. Like many of you, I go as far back with these films as I can remember. I’ll also add that this blog is not going to be a rant or direct criticism of the current state of Star Wars films under Disney. If you’re interested in that type of content, trust me, there are a shit-zillion people who make careers off of complaining about Star Wars on the Internet. I’ll not be promoting any of them here, but finding them is very easy if you’re looking for them.

It has recently been revealed, via multiple outlets, that the Emperor Palpatine we see in The Rise of Skywalker is technically a “clone” of the dark lord, not the dark lord as we saw him in Return of The Jedi. As soon as the news dropped, the typical chain of events transpired. The apologist crowd praised it as the greatest revelation of the new trilogy while the backlash crowd took to their typical shit-posting with an endless production line of memes and gifs mocking the news. My feeling toward the news can be summed very simply, I think.

I didn’t feel anything.

It was clear to me within the first 5 minutes of The Force Awakens back in 2015 that the Star Wars galaxy was operating under a different set of rules now. This is something I anticipated. Once George Lucas sold the $4,000,000,000 franchise to Disney, it ceased to be what it was. The original trilogy had left its footprint on cinema and there wasn’t anything that could change what it had done. This is an objective truth. No amount of mingling or adjusting that Disney does to the original property will change its cultural significance. Even trying to garner negative attention by INTENTIONALLY insulting older fans will not change what Star Wars has done to movies and Hollywood as a whole. So- considering that the impact of Star Wars and its religious following is solidified, what is the issue? The issue is layered, but not as complicated as you might think. The transaction that took place in 2012 between Lucas and Disney was a massive one, but it wasn’t terribly complicated. George Lucas had exhausted what he was going to do with the brand, but the brand is a license to print money, so the financially logical thing to do would be to sell it to the only gig that could keep producing products on the scale that he was producing them. That gig was Disney.

One way to look at this is to say that once Disney signed the dotted line and took possession of Lucasfilm, Star Wars, as a creation of George Lucas, ceased to exist. Imagine if I painted my own version of Starry Night. Try as I might to make it look identical to Van Gogh’s, the fact remains that his Starry Night is THE Starry Night and mine is just a fan depiction of his creation. Whether or not cash exchanged hands before I painted it does not change reality. I’m a fan, that painting is popular, so I wanted to do a rendition of it for attention. This analogy is important because I believe it simplifies an argument that has all but boiled to physical violence between the apologists and the backlashers.

Ending with Papaw Palpatine.

Let’s jump back to Palpatine. When you read my analogy and you truly accept what “Star Wars” is now and why the changes are happening so rapidly, it all becomes noise….and not important. Yes– calling Palpatine a clone in the new movie means that Anakin killed the real one, therefore he did NOT fail in his complicated quest in fulfilling the prophecy. No– it doesn’t make that film more appealing to the backlashers other than it giving them content for their 5 and 6 hour long live streams. Although it obviously isn’t what Disney had in mind in terms of their relationship to the fans, the fact remains that it is more popular to “hate” Disney Star Wars than it is to love it.

The backlash crowd are the biggest supporters and funders of the new Star Wars films simply by not being able to shut-up about them. If Disney is looking for an online movement fraught with individuals ready and willing to offer 24 hour coverage of every decision they make and talk about their movies until the end of time, they have found exactly what they’re looking for. These people still buy tickets, t-shirts, video games, theme park passes etc. Star Wars isn’t going away anytime soon. It has sunken into the very fabric of civilization.

Loving it is loving it and hating it is loving it.

Go See Them Live

I’ve been fortunate enough to see quite a few live concerts. The energy of a good show is something that you don’t ever forget and makes you very hungry to experience it again ASAP! When the artist is really connecting with the crowd, there is a magic present that you can’t describe, you just have to be there yourself. Live shows are the ultimate celebration of the hard work musicians put into their craft.

The magic of a live concert isn’t exclusive to major touring acts either. I’ve seen small groups in small venues absolutely blow the doors off the joint. Smaller shows are often more energetic than larger ones for the simple fact that aspiring acts are typically more intimate and personal. You’re seeing the artist in their rawest form as opposed to the spectacle of a large performance. That is not to say that smaller acts lose their flair once they get bigger, some of them certainly don’t, but you can imagine the difference in seeing Megadeth in a friend’s basement as opposed to seeing them at Radio City Music Hall. The contrast would be pretty staggering.

In addition to seeing artists do what they’ve poured their lives into on stage, seeing them live is also the BEST possible thing you as a fan can do for them financially. The music distribution market has become so saturated with streaming services that offer you whole catalogues of music while contributing very little to the artists who created them. It’s become a very competitive market where each company that pops up is offering the listener more and more services while deviating further and further away from the people who provide the product.

You see very little in the way of push-back from the artists over this. That is simply because musicians have had to accept the conditions of the industry they function in. Outside of becoming completely independent and funding your own career out of pocket, there is little-to-no wiggle room when you’re a signed recording artist. Being in a contract with a label is a lot like being in an abusive marriage in which leaving it means you don’t eat. It is a form of being shackled by profits while your art and your pocket suffer the consequences. You notice a trend with most successful groups. They remain on a label for the standard 6 album duration and then many of them become completely self funded and independent after that. It is very rare to see bands stay on a single label for their entire career. That almost never happens. The few times in which does is typically because that artist is the biggest thing the label has and they function as more of a partnership than a standard recording contract.

Seeing a group live is a special thing you get to share with them. It is a process of mutual benefit and solidifies that YOU (not a label) are who they create their art for.

Considering all of those things, find tour dates for the bands you love and do what you can to see them live as often as possible.

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