10 of 10 pt II: Celebrity

In honor of the star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame...

Brooooooooo...we're gonna switch gears from pop-punk to pop! Some good ol' fashioned pop shit, fa sho. I'm actually writing this on the heels of Part I. Same day. Because it took a couple hours to write the last one, and ain't nobody got time for that, so I'm taking advantage of a slow day at work and writing tomorrow's blog today. It's probably the only time in my life I've ever been proactive.

Back in middle school and high-school I taught myself 7 *Nsync dances. How? By buying their concerts on DVD and slowing them down so I can mimic their movement. And no, in case you were wondering, I didn't have many friends. Over the years they've become sort of a party trick. I actually "earned" my girlfriend's phone number two years ago when I busted out the Pop dance break in the middle of a bar. During my shift. True story. Let this be a lesson to you kids...if you be yourself, learn something weird, and suffer through years of loneliness and a somewhat crappy high-school experience, it'll all pay off when you're thirty. The dances were: Pop, It's Gonna Be Me, Space Cowboy, No Strings Attached, Digital Get Down (holy shit, remember that one?), I Want You Back and Tearin' Up My Heart. I never learned Bye Bye Bye in its entirety, but I know that chorus like the back of my hand. I'm better at that dance right now than Justin Timberlake was before he learned it. So suck on that.

 Let's be real, I'm not legally allowed or qualified to judge fashion, but...good god.

Let's be real, I'm not legally allowed or qualified to judge fashion, but...good god.

Any way, yes. I'm a huge fan of *Nsync. I was hoping for a reunion at the same time I was hoping blink would get back together back in 2007. I'm STILL hoping for a reunion. I know they came out around the same time as Backstreet Boys, and it was all very cookie cutter, and a lot of the songs sounded the same, and it was a group of guys dancing in unison whilst wearing tacky outfits and over sized overalls and singing to the girls they were singing about. "THIS SONG IS ABOUT ME!!" Shut up, wasted chick at a stranger's house party. Let me call you an Uber so you not only get home safe, but also so you stop saying that about every boy band song. *Nsync always stuck out to me because even though their songs sounded like the other boy bands at the time, they felt different (insert your own joke questioning my sexuality here). I can't really describe it. There was some vibe or some element about their music that sort of set them apart. Even though their debut album sounded an awful lot like the Backstreet Boys' first one, I still preferred *Nsync.

Then came No Strings Attached, which held the record for most albums sold in a week up until 2015 (curse you Adele for stealing that honor from them...you're a worthy opponent indeed). It still holds the record for most albums sold in a day with 1.1 million units moved in a 24 hour period. It's a fantastic album. It broke out of what a boy band was supposed to be and the group started to explore what they could be. There was Digital Get Down, already mentioned, but it deserves a second shout out, because it was raunchy as hell for a group with such a squeaky clean image. No Strings Attached and Bye Bye Bye were angsty anthems of record label protest disguised as break up and love songs. It's Gonna Be Me and Bringin' Da Noise were as aggressive as pop was allowed to be. Space Cowboy a departure from love and focusing on surviving the end of the world (read into that song what you will), and I Thought She Knew proved that they can, in fact, actually sing. In two albums *Nsync saw a change that takes most groups or bands three or four albums to achieve, and it made sense. Nothing jarring. Nothing that took a sharp left turn. Just a natural progression of a pop group that was amplified by five.

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And then. Came. Celebrity. The reason why we're here. It's taken me a while to get to the point I'm trying to make because I think I'm hilarious, and me jokes need to be heard. Shut up. Celebrity is my number 2 of 10 most influential albums. And here's why, because I bet you're just dying to know.

The album is almost entirely a giant "fuck you". It's a middle finger to people who put them in a box, the fictitious and true to life relationships (names have been changed, yada yada), and fame. But perhaps most importantly, it was a humongous "fuck off" to formula. If you listen to the music underneath their polished vocals, it's completely different than both of their previous albums. There are elements of pure techno, some electronica, a little house thrown in there. "Game Over" was inspired by and possesses a video game sound throughout. "The Game Is Over" and "Tell Me, Tell Me...Baby" both question faithfulness (or faithlessness, which ever you focus on) and waning passion, "See Right Through You", "Celebrity" and "Don't Tell Me That" call the faithless out on their bullshit and continue to question the validity of a lady's attraction toward them. This is completely foreign territory for a boy band. At the time it was all lamenting a woman that didn't want to be with them because, I dunno, they weren't good enough for whatever reason. Maybe there skin was too clear, or their stomachs were too flat, or they're hair was just too damn fly. But never, to my knowledge, and I haven't done any research so I'm pretty sure I'm 102% correct on this, did any boy band ever acknowledge their own fame and fortune and not only use it as a topic for one of their songs but also create almost an entire album around the notion that their lives have become questionable in terms of who they surround themselves with. These are anti-love songs of men who want the truth and hold romantic interests accountable for their actions. Fame breeds a certain kind of insecurity (I'm guessing. Nobody knows who I am yet), and the guys face it head on with a determination to find truth in love and put those fake ass gold diggers  on blast. Boys have become men. Pairs have been grown.

I'm not sure if anyone here knows of or remembers the "7 second rule" of song writing, but at the start of the millennium, when people's attention spans begin to shrink at a quantum rate, it was deemed necessary to introduce some new layer to a song in order to keep a listener engaged. Sometimes it's an obvious grasp for retention, like an unnecessary key or tempo change, or a flugelhorn in a metal song, or someone saying "hail satan" in a christian song. To my knowledge that last reference has never actually occurred. It was just a joke. Calm down. Don't hail satan, kids. It's wrong. Anyway, sometimes bands hit the nail on the head with the whole 7 second thing.  You've got a band like Slipknot where (whether they do it intentionally or not) they can garnish a song with some sampling, record scratching, or custom percussion. The Offspring have a tendency to throw in some things to keep songs fresh, like Method Man on "Original Prankster" or the delayed guitar chord in "All I Have Left". And then you've got a group like *Nsync who release a musical melting pot like Celebrity. I know I've already talked about the different genres of music featured on the record, but they also use a flamenco-esque classical guitar that never plays the same lick twice on "Gone". There are different samples and digitally altered sound effects at the beginning of and all through out "Tell Me, Tell Me...Baby". "Up Against The Wall" is a two step song, with some solid arpeggiating of different synths up in there. Basically...the 7 second rule is about layering in different elements in an effort to change the depth of the music. Some people butcher the process completely. Others, when knowing full well that if you take care of the music it'll take care of you, treat the practice of stacking sounds with respect, and in *Nsync's case, the variety of synth, programmed drums, guitars and harmonies, it paid off in spades. Celebrity is number 3 on the list of most albums sold in its debut week, just behind No Strings Attached. And then, yeah...Adele.

This record is, undeniably, and *Nsync record. Back to the whole "exploring what a boy band could be" point I so geniusly brought up earlier in the article, they live in a genre where other people write their songs, and all they do is sing and dance to the tune. The first album was like that. They're only credited for writing one song, "Giddy Up", and they're credited as "Nsync". On the second album, JC co-wrote 4 songs while Justin was co-writer on only one. On Celebrity, however, Justin wrote 6, JC wrote 4, and Chris wrote 1 song that was only featured during their Pop Odyssey Tour. On every album, these guys wrote more and more. More songwriting leads to more involvement with the composition, and more involvement leads to more knowledge and credit or production. Justin is actually credited as a co-producer on 5 tracks. WHAT?! You mean these "fuckin' brats" who "can't sing" (Eminem, "Marshall Mathers", Marshall Mathers LP. Track 11. 2001) actually wrote and produced a bulk of their third album? In a genre where that type of responsibility is handed off to a record company and song writers they never even meet? That, to me, is mind blowing. Not because they actually did it and did it well, but mostly because they fought and clawed to get to a position where they had the freedom to do it all. I'm not gonna get into all that drama the guys went through, but I'll link to a nicely summed up Rolling Stone blurb, and from there if you wanna do your own research or see how the suit was settled, do it on your own. My point is, where most pop figures seem to have no problem with letting other people do their shit for them, Nsync said, "No sireebob" (verbatim, I'm sure) and took control. Hell, even Lance said he didn't get a chance to write much on the first album, so he started jotting some ideas down after the 2002 Celebrity tour in order to be prepared for the fourth album. The group set themselves up to be masters of their destiny.

 Can't even fit into a single picture. Behemoth.

Can't even fit into a single picture. Behemoth.

Here's a new thought that...I dunno how it fits into the whole article, but here you go anyway. I don't know how bands write songs. Sometimes I'm fully convinced they think they only need one good song and can write 12 shitty ones around it and call it an album. Record labels appear to only care if you can write one legitimate hit and don't care if you can spread your talent across a full CD. I dunno if any bands ever consider what kind of show they can put on with their songs. But *Nsync, if you've ever seen them live (I have, and the show is easily in my top 3 connect experiences of all time), seemed to compose a record based on how what kind of show they wanted to do. Have you ever seen the Pop Odyssey Tour? I've seen it a million times. There's not a lot of focus on the dancing as there was during the No Strings Attached Tour or the Celebrity Tour, but it was a spectacle the behold. The set was three stories high with trap doors, three legs, a middle-of-the-crowd section where they mysteriously appeared at the beginning on the show, a shit load of props, effects, grand entrances...good god, it was a delight. The songs were brought to life in a way that not many other people had ever done (I dunno...maaaaaaaybe the Up In Smoke Tour?) have been able to replicate. *Nsync's shows were a one of a kind experience, and they made the music to go along with it. I think there's a reason the Pop Odyssey tour was their biggest one. The songs on Celebrity required the showmanship. Again, this paragraph might not even fit into the whole point of the article, but it's worth noting that one of the highest grossing tours of all time (don't fact check that) followed on the heels of one of the fastest selling records of all time.

There's probably a reason that people still want an *Nsync reunion. Last album in 2001, last tour in 2002, last performance in 2013, and a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame yesterday (April 30th). There's also the fact that Justin Timberlake still circles around as a meme every year around the end of April. I hate that thing. But regardless, there's a reason for their continued popularity even though it's been 17 years since their last official album. It's not because of the nostalgia factor. People were clamoring for a reunion before they wanted Will & Grace or Roseanne reboots. No, there's something else to it. I personally think it's because they let the entire world know what a boy band could actually accomplish. We've seen what's possible when five like minded guys decide to grab the reigns and go for it, proving those who had written them off to be completely wrong, while not even caring about the negative views of boy bands in the first place. I'm sure the guys in *Nsync ever thought they had anything to prove, or if it was a natural evolution of the microcosm they created for themselves. Either way, they showed everyone what they were made of, what was possible within the realm of bubble gum pop, and they left us with their strongest effort as their last. If the 2 minute ovation they received when all five walked onto the Ellen set today seemed weird to you earlier, it shouldn't anymore.

I'm done. Thats enough. After today's article I'm nominating my girlfriend for this 10 of 10 thing. We always disagree over *Nsync or Backstreet Boys.

Thus endeth the stroking of *Nsync's collective ego.

Editor's Note: I don't have an editor. This is not proofread. It only is what it will ever be. The message remains the same. Look, it's either gonna me be, or it's not...

10 of 10 pt I: Take Off Your Pants And Jacket

This is my opinion, and it's 100% correct, and if you disagree then that's, like, you're opinion, man.

As I cook my bacon and eggs after a super gnarly workout, I've learned that I have been chosen at random (read: been sucked into this new old trend on Facebook, and my friend Tim can rot in hell for this❤️) to describe to you my top 10 most influential albums.  What the hell does influential mean, anyway? I'm not a professional musician, so they don't influence any sort of style of playing or songwriting. So I guess a list of 10 albums that have influenced my life. I’ll start with something very obvious. Sigh...1 of 10 of my most influential albums.

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blink-182’s Take Off Your Pants And Jacket (TOYPAJ from here on). I’ve gotten into arguments about why this album is perfect (by the way, for today’s 10 of 10 I nominate Justyn Gomez), and I've actually been scolded for being so passionate about this topic by some dick that I don't talk to anymore, but that's a WHOLE other story, but since when is passion a bad thing? I believe, quite firmly and with great gusto,  that this is the absolute best album blink has ever done. And as usual...thoughts ran long, so I moved it from Facebook to my blog, because I have no control over myself.

1) It’s faster, louder, harder, a little more hilarious and a lot more poignant than Enema of the State. It’s got new depth that blink had never shown before while retaining their signature humor. Untitled and Enema got drunk on Boone's Farm, had a wild night in the back of an '82 Cutlass if that's a thing, I don't know cars for shit, and this album was the baby. This is the sweet spot of blink-182's career, because it did show immense growth. People will say Dude Ranch is their best, and sure, it's a superb pop-punk record, but there was lacking in imagination. Don't get me wrong, I love that punk beat to the ends of the earth, but I also enjoy variation in my punk songs. Enema HAD to be made. They finally had a recording budget, could afford Jerry Finn (RIP), and Travis Barker became the new drummer. He brought a new dynamic, changed the pace of some songs, and allegedly All The Small Things had a similar beat as most songs on Dude Ranch, and it was Barker's suggestion to slow it down a bit. And look at what happened with that. Then TOYPAJ in 2001. Then Untitled came out in 2003, and it's a much darker record than anything they'd done till that point. Their primary reasoning, stated in multiple interviews, is that they all became fathers before and during the recording process. They matured as people along the way. Totally fine, I get that. But they still had their sense of humor in the same interviews and in their banter on stage. Yet there's nothing to really laugh about on Untitled, and that's fine. There's nothing to laugh about on probably 97% of the albums ever released. But it sort of felt like (to me, someone who has never once met them in person) they were almost betraying their true nature. I want to make it perfectly clear...PERFECTLY CLEAR...that I love the Untitled album. The band's reasoning behind it sort of bummed me out, almost kind of like a scape goat or a cop out or something. Life's not all burritos and strippers, I get that, but it's also not gloom and Dr Doom either. TOYPAJ had that perfect balance of darkness (divorce, earth falling apart, nightmares about their significant others,  breaking up with someone, lost love, not fitting in), but they also had the fun shit (falling in love with a girl at a rock show, in the car unable to wait to pick her up on their very first date, only wrapping two fucking presents on Christmas Eve, dreams about their significant others, punk rebellion, and general Reckless Abandon). The album portrays the duality of life with such perfection (and if there's a more pretentious way to say that, please let me know), and it basically sums up the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Mark Hoppus once referred to the album as a "permanent record of a band in transition ... our confused, contentious, brilliant, painful, cathartic leap into the unknown." I think he's right. But there's also honesty in the record that stays true to the child inside all of us.

 Hair = sexy as hell

Hair = sexy as hell

The great thing about reading a blog entry is how seamless it is. In between number one and number two (ha!) you never would have known that I finished cooking and eating my bacon and eggs, took a shower, got dressed, made my hair perfect in, like, 30 seconds, drove to work and clocked in late if I hadn't just explicitly told you. But why would I not tell you? I like including people in my life. My shower was nice and steamy, thanks for asking.

2) The collection of songs, as a whole, is an insanely strong offering. The strongest of blink’s catalogue. My all time favorite songs the band has ever done, Going Away To College, Not Now, Every Time I Look For You, and Left Alone, are on Enema of that State, the deluxe version of Untitled, TOYPAJ, and California respectively. Only one of my favorites comes from this album, but I still consider it to be the best album. The aforementioned songs always take me to very special places that I either can't explain, or don't want to spend the emotional/brain power discussing. However, taken as a whole entity instead of *just* one song after another, TOYPAJ feels more connected and thought out than other albums. Entertainment Weekly described it as a concept album based on a dying relationship, a "self-meditation on romantic decay." I think Travis Barker even stated the record was a concept album, stating that each song flows into the next, telling a cohesive story. I can't find his exact quote or even proof that he said that, but I'm gonna take my word on it and state it as fact. I don't necessarily consider it to be a concept album myself, because while there's a thematic thread of that "romantic decay", the story seems to revolve around several different love stories. I'm also not the composer, so I have no idea. But what TOYPAJ does is sort of capture the bi-polarity of life. Sometimes it's shitty, sometimes it's amazing. This is a pure "eye of the beholder" situation. I see Untitled to take place in separate vignettes, each as a little stage play telling it's own story. The front seat of a car in "Down", a girl's bedroom while her parents are out of town in "Feeling This", a broken home in "Go", a dive bar in "Violence". And for some reason I always picture a knight returning home from an arduous task, taking off his armor after a long ride home, sitting in the corner of the bedroom, watching his significant other sleep, counting his blessings and feeling so in love in "I'm Lost Without You". It's always the stone walls of a castle. That song rips me apart. But I think that's where that album succeeds. Several stories mingling together to ponder love, loss, and maturity. TOYPAJ (the whole reason we're here, let's not forget) is more a pontification on life in general. And that's why I prefer it. No matter how you feel, what's going on in your life, who you're with, who you've broken up with, where you are, or what your struggling with, Take Of Your Pants And Jacket not only runs the whole spectrum of what life is all about, but it also highlights the import parts about what it means to be alive. If I ever need guidance or have to clear my head, I put on this album and sink into it. No matter what or how I'm feeling, this album always has what I need. Like heroin, except it's not illegal, a dumb decision, and I can fear needles from a great and healthy distance. (Don't do drugs, by the way)

3) Of all blink-182's records, this has to be when each member was at their peak. Mark's voice is punchy and almost at a scream, and his lyrics are almost perfect. Tom's lyrical introspection is a change from Enema and is never seen at this level again in the course of his on-again-off-again relationship with the band. His guitar playing is a level previously unseen, and nothing he ever repeats. And Travis...I mean, listen to the patterns thrown together in "Anthem Pt II", "Shut Up", "Every Time I Look For You" or even the little garnishes he does on the high speed "Happy Holidays, You Bastard", and tell me he doesn't deliver his best drumming of his career, up to and even after this point. There was a great care taken in the crafting of this album. I would assume that the pressure to follow up the success of Enema Of The State was looming over their heads, and I'm pretty sure I recall Mark talking about how there was an unspoken competition between him and Tom over who could write the most clever lyric or instrument part. To an extent, I think that's healthy. It pushes you to become better at something at which you're already great. So I think there was a pressured excitement in the writing of TOYPAJ that pushed everyone to be at their absolute best. Lyrically, and I know I've already mentioned this, it's leaps and bounds over Dude Ranch and Enema Of The State, it narrowly beats Untitled out as a more magnificent sonic experience, and creatively as a whole it blows Neighborhoods, Dogs Eating Dogs, and California out of the water. The album in general is a humongous punk rock soundscape that never gets trapped in itself nor does it get in its own way or try to be something it's not. It's a very honest album.

4) Speaking of honesty, it's a true blink-182 collaboration as far as trading off lead vocalists go. On every album up to TOYPAJ, one member always sang more songs than the other, or there were a couple tracks in a row where Mark would sing, and they'd make up the difference by having two songs led by Tom. On Take Off Your Pants And Jacket, they alternate each song, save for "Stay Together For The Kids" and "Every Time I Look For You", but if you consider choruses (a point that I will later contradict later in this same bulletpoint), Stay Together is very much a Tom song, and Every Time is a Mark song. I only suggest that because Tom's chorus is the primary voice of someone who's family has fallen apart. Sure you can be sad, timid and quiet, but it seems to me that a kid in the middle of divorcing parents would prefer to wail out in grief and anger like Delonge does in the chorus. After all, it's an autobiographical song written by Tom, specifically about the day he learned what was going on with his folks. Even though Mark has the verses, it's a part of the song that only his lower register would be able to effectively handle and make believable. But what really takes it up a notch is Tom's choruses. Thus...a Tom song. "Every Time I Look For You" is a Mark song even though he and Delonge trade lines in the pre-chorus section. But the primary verses, choruses and bridge are sung by Hoppus. So considering everything I've laid out in torturous detail so far, they technically alternate every song. It's the only blink album that does this. When they made the shift to the darker experimentation, Mark doesn't have a song until track 8's "Go". Even "Feeling This" is a Tom song, regardless that Hoppus takes the chorus and bridge. This track is about sex, the verses being the lustful side, the choruses being the more romantic, and the lust comes out on top with Delonge's frantic speak-sing delivery, and his harmonies over powering Hoppus' vocals on the last chorus when the wall of guitar slaps you upside the head. Now that I've typed all that out, maybe it's more of a blink-182 song than a Mark of Tom song, but even then, there's a struggle for power. Alright, look, shut up. Okay? TOYPAJ plays more fairly to the two singers than any other album they've done is the point I'm trying to make here.

 A copyrighted picture that I stole to express my rebelliousness. Or something. Thanks to whomever.

A copyrighted picture that I stole to express my rebelliousness. Or something. Thanks to whomever.

I could obviously go on and on and on about why this album is the best blink-182 album of all time ever until the end of time becomes the beginning once more and dissect each song one after the other, because I know enough about it to make my word processor run out of ink. Yes, I know, "a technological impossiblity" you shout from the back of the house, which a) why are you all the way back there, this show isn't even close to sold out, and there are seats right up here in the front, and b) that's the point. It's a...what is it? Hyperbole I think? An over exaggeration to imply that I know more about this band and this album than any math course from the private school my parents busted their asses to send me to. Yes. This is what I'm doing with their money.

Anyway, the very first album of my 10 for 10 is blink-182's Take Off Your Pants And Jacket because I feel that as a collective trio, this was the band's greatest work. Whether it was the camaraderie they had formed from years past or the pressure building up in the group that eventually led to their break up in 2005, this is the shining light in blink's discography. Cheshire Cat and Dude Ranch were learning experiences, Enema Of The State was the road to perfection, TOYPAJ is, like, if Infinity War was a punk rock album, and everything after was dark, Tom oriented, and I feel like they tried too hard to experiment and sound different. The key to this album was the truth they fought for at this point in their careers. The angst, the struggle, the maturity and simultaneous lack thereof...it's all them. Exposed and honest.

Now let this be a lesson to you to not ever tag me in these Facebook trends ever again. TIM. You dick.

*I'd like to make it clear that I love every blink album, and they're still, to this very day, my favorite band of all time. Just because I think this album is perfect doesn't mean I think the others suck. I shouldn't have to explain that, but...here we are.

Editor's Note: I don't have an editor. This is not proofread. It only is what it will ever be. The message remains the same. Fight me, Justyn.

Fuck ScreenRant (I Actually Care About You)

Whether you read all of this or not, may God have mercy on your soul.

ALRIGHT!! Here we go! I just clicked a link by ScreenRant titled "15 Brilliant Thanos Hints You Completely Missed In The MCU". I'm not even going to dignify them with linking to the original article. If you wanna read it, go find it on your own. It sucks. I originally thought maybe some big website did a little digging to uncover some shit that a huge fan like myself might have overseen or not noticed. So of course I clicked the link, and yeah...I should have known. It was click bait. But it's not even the "what happened next will change your life" kind of click bait. It was...good God, it was the absolute worst.

Okay, sure. There are different levels of fans. There are people who catch the films on HBO or Netflix, enjoy them for the duration, then completely forget about them. This doesn't really concern that type of fan, but if that's you, please keep reading if you want. Then there are people who go see every single one in theatres because they've seen every film thus far and feel they've invested too much time in the Universe to not miss an installment, but seeing it once is enough. There are people who do the second thing I talked about, but also pick them up on DVD on account of some misplaced sense of sentimentality (I'm like this with Resident Evil and SAW). There are those who buy tickets the day they go on sale, read every article they can, watch the films over and over and over again, study them, research them, search IMDB for trivia and actor backgrounds, spend way more time on them than they rightfully should, and show up to Best Buy right when they open to pick up the Blu Ray the day of its release. This is me with the MCU. I love it. Personally, I think it's the greatest shared Universe of all time. Star Wars is second, only because they were originally three sets of trilogies, and only now have they started ding stuff like the Han Solo film. Not a shared universe, but a linear story told non linearly. But I digress.

The MCU is and will probably always be the greatest shared Universe of all time. Intricate. Subtle. But also very obvious. So what does this have to do with he aforementioned ScreenRant article? Because even if you're one of those less insane fans, you're aware of Thanos. If you don't know his name, you at least know the Angry Purple Guy.

First introduced in the mid credits scene of The Avengers in 2012, he's told by his little alien friend that humans are unruly and therefore cannot be ruled. "To challenge them is to court death." Thanos turns to the camera, and smiles. Here's why it's a perfect introduction for someone who has no idea who Thanos is:

You don't need to know anything else. It's established that this guy gave Loki the scepter, and when he grins menacingly, you know that he's not done, and he's crazy enough to not care that humans are a crazy bunch. You don't need to know who he is, you don't need to know of his infatuation with cosmic balance, or his longing to impress/marry/date/whatever Lady Death. You know that some purple shitbag is pulling the strings and causing the chaos. That's it. You get it, it's done. You know it's him.

Two films later in Dark World, we're introduced to the Reality Stone in the form of the Aether. In in one of the credits scenes, we first hear the phrase "Infinity Stone". Cool. More seeds planted.

Two films after that, we meet the Guardians of the Galaxy. The power stone plays a significant role in the movie, and Thanos gets fully introduced. He argues with Ronin like an old married couple. He plays a BIG role in the film. At this point, if you're barely paying attention, you're aware of the guy. You know him a little better.

From this point on, everything keeps unfolding, stones are uncovered (Soul Stone's in Wakanda...it HAS to be), and Thanos is mentioned repeatedly. So if you only see the films once, you've seen/heard it all. If you only catch the movies on cable or a streaming service, you probably wouldn't have clicked on the link I should never have wasted my time on. So WHY? Why is this article called "Fuck ScreenRant" and why am I taking so long to get to the point? Because I want you to know just how stupid the article is titled, but even more importantly, I want you to know how dumb the people who write these articles think other people actually are.

Here we go, "brilliant hint" by "brilliant hint", with me telling you why you should avoid articles like this at all cost. It's about to get long winded.

15) Neb and Gam's Fight in Vol2 - This is where ScreenRant starts their list of hints you completely missed: by stating that the purple giant is "widely mentioned and alluded to in several scenes". So clearly they don't know what they're talking about, unless the whole lot of them think they're smarter than you. I promise you they're not. In this scene, it's revealed that Nebula wanted a more normal life. All she wanted was a sister. Gamora wanted to win in their fights. Fights that Thanos orchestrated. This is all made abundantly clear. If you're in the theatre, and you lean over and say "What fights? Who's Thanos?" and your girlfriend or boyfriend leans over and says "The purple thing pitted them against each other for funsies." You're caught up. Simple as that. Remember...different levels of fans. But there's that easy access the MCU has established amongst newer fans. If you want to jump into any film at all, you totally can. They're all self referential enough, that you can pick up on context clues. So...the website in question is already off on the wrong foot. Thanos is mentioned explicitly in this particular conversation. Verdict: Wrong. All wrong. Not only is it not a hint, it's not brilliant, and you didn't completely miss it. From here on, these verdict things will be a little longer.

14) Ultron's vision - I don't know how I feel about this one, because I hate everything else on this list. "When the dust starts to settle, God throws a stone. And believe me, he's winding up." This, to me, sounds like a robot that's dug to the deepest trenches of the internet, read the entire bible, looked at the history of the world, and made a conclusion of extinction based on our current trajectory. ScreenRant seems to think that Thanos is God with their claim that Ultron is foretelling the coming of the Mad Titan. No. I don't believe so. Ultron doesn't care about anything beyond himself, hence dropping an entire city onto the earth to kill absolutely every. Including me. So fuck Ultron. Dick. But seriously...Verdict: This film, even though it's part of a larger picture, is fairly self contained. This has nothing to do with Thanos except for the Mind Stone imbedded in the vision.  There's no hard evidence that Ultron knows of Thanos when he breaks into the scepter. All we know is Ultron's done his research. And with that statement, I might have proven myself wrong. Either way, if you claim Ultron is stand up comic before Thanos' Pink Floyd, it's flimsy at best, and I'm 100% correct at better than best. Also, I don't think Thanos is God, and I think Ultron's a pouty little bitch who doesn't care about what else is out there. He uses the stone to his advantage and that's it. And...I'm right. 

13) Black Order teased in GotG - Yeah, this one's semi-decent. I'll admit that. But it's more character development and history driven than it is a hidden hint. Not exactly a throwaway line, but Guardians was there for one reason: to connect the Terra based crew with the cosmic crew. And with that comes personal avenues that you're not expecting. Gamora talks about Thanos repeatedly in the first film, and it's established that she's Thanos' favorite. Nebula surely harbors some resentment. And with her line "of all our siblings, I hated you least", yes there are more. There's a whole family there. But shit's shifted. Nebula's out for blood, probably (definitely) due to jealousy, but her reference to the other siblings only serves to display her disdain for her green sister. How she hated Gamora the least, and yet here she is trying to kill her. Verdict: A rabbit hole more than a hint, Guardians was in the middle of phase 2. The universe was still taking shape, and characters were being molded. So if you expect the writers of these films to not make a dirt road to some day be paved over, then you're insane. You can call this line a brilliant hint that you completely missed, or you can call it character history. Yeah, there might be some things that you can choose to research, or you can take it in the context of the scene, and realize that Gamora has fallen from Nebula's good graces. Also, ScreenRant calls this a "clear reference" to the Black Order. So...if it's a clear reference, and this is a list of hints you completely missed, then they think they're better than you, and they're assholes. I think this is on par with someone who exclusively drinks craft beer that makes fun of someone who acknowledges that craft beers are a thing but instead chooses to drink domestic. Watch your tone, ScreenRant. We don't all need to spend $12 a beer to feel good about ourselves.

12) Thor's opening in Ragnarok - Oh my god. Thor mentions Thanos. He talks about the Infinity Stones. The skeleton's jaw drops. Probably because it's a very overt reference to Thanos, and not a hint you completely missed. It's also not brilliant. It's a solid way to connect Thor from his exit from Age of Ultron to his current predicament in Ragnarok. Storytelling. We'll get into that more as this way-too-long article progresses, but right now I'll say that when you have a constantly expanding universe, you have to keep the core characters connecting to the core storyline. Verdict: So. fucking. stupid. That's all I have to say about that.

11) Tony's vision in Age of Ultron - This scene has always been interesting to me. It feels like a mid credits scene in the middle of the movie itself. You see all the established Avengers, but there are also shadowy figures implying their team has grown. This was also at a time when RDJs future with the MCU was uncertain. It was unsure after Iron Man 3, and the man has restricted his contract at the top of every film. He no longer has a multi-picture contract, but he bounces from film to film. No one can blame the Godfather on that business practice. So this scene could have been a cop out in general. If Downey Jr didn't continue, there could be an impending sense of doom, but they'd figure out how to pick up the slack, or his decision to go on would instill hope for future battles. Either way, this scene doesn't mention or reference Thanos at all. This is not a reference to the looming magenta threat, but instead a generalized vision of what MIGHT happen if the team doesn't stay together. Verdict: Not a worthy inclusion. The only thing it solidifies is that some characters will eventually die, which is a promised upheld by the upcoming Infinity War films. This scene is also smack dab in the storyline. You can't miss it. It's not a hint at Thanos. And, I can't stress this enough...this is a tongue in cheek scene that has more to do with Iron Man's uncertainty than it does any bad guy in the MCU up until that point. It's a glimpse at the Chitauri in the past, the Scarlet Witch's powers in the present, and how things will turn up if the team falls apart. More of a foreshadowing to Civil War than anything.

10)  Nebula's Monologue in Vol 2 - Does your face hurt yet? From being slapped in the face by all this shit about Thanos? No? Oh, well it's probably because YOU COMPLETELY MISSED one of the greatest monologues ever delivered by a Marvel character toward the purple giant. Nebula tells Kraglin exactly what she plans on doing to Thanos when she comes face to face with him. Was this speech not badass? Of course it was. Did you miss it? If you did, then you picked the wrong time to go to the restroom. But even then, Vol2 was so good, it deserves to be picked up on digital or Blu Ray. Or not. Personal preference. I think the point I'm trying to make here is...verdict: you didn't completely miss it because Nebula acknowledges Thanos by name several times (not specifically in this monologue), and she's so venomous and acerbic about it that it's like opening a door and having a bucket of water dropped on your head. It's there, and you have no hope of escaping it. This shouldn't be on the list at all.

9) Team Thor - Here's where ScreenRant really and truly misses the mark. The Team Thor short that details what Thor was up to during Civil War is legitimately fucking hilarious. Seriously, if you haven't seen it...GO. But come back. This is the kind of thing I love about the MCU. They take films seriously, but they do new and fresh stuff to keep the actors, writers, directors, and audiences involved and engaged. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. I love it. The only thing wrong with this is its inclusion on this list. Team Thor, funny as it may be, is completely non canonical because "it contradicts the established movie continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and thus should not be taken as a part of the "real" MCU world". The quote was taken from the MCU wiki page. Even thought fan run wikis aren't the most reliable sources, you have to take the dedication of the MCU fans into consideration. A) Thor leaves Earth after Age of Ultron to learn more about the stones, their origins, and the shadowy figure moving the chess pieces around, B) To imply that Thor was on Earth during the events of Civil War and wouldn't help out on either side suggests Thor lacks loyalty and a willingness to keep some sort of peace, which ALSO suggests that even though a wise king never goes looking for war (which yeah, if he ignored the civil war, he technically does just that), a true king would be willing to fight to protect those he cared about. Considering all that, he'd be unworthy to hold Mjolnir, completely undoing the first film, and putting him mat square one for Ragnarok, which is not beneficial to a franchise like that. C) Secretary Ross asks where Banner and Thor are, yet Banner is on the phone with one of the Avengers during Team Thor, and Thor tries to get in on the convo. D) It's been stated that Ragnarok happens at the same time as Civil War. Verdict: Anything mentioned about Thanos in Team Thor is non canon, therefore is not really meant to be seen by anyone who doesn't immediately go to the special features of their newly purchased blu rays. Also, while the short does say that Thor is doing research of the mad titan, him being on earth and not helping out the other heroes is simply absurd. For ScreenRant to say this has anything to do with anything is to say that you're not smart enough to know the fluff from the storyline. The Beautiful Mind reference with the yarn and the connections of Infinity Stones to Thanos is pretty clever, but it does nothing to progress the primary story. You probably "completely missed this" because you're working, taking care of your family, maybe getting outside in the sunshine. I didn't miss it because I have $11.30 in my bank account, and this sort of thing IS my existence. Life is pretty funny, innit?

8) The Avengers Post Credit Scene - Again...you didn't miss this. How could you. It's the rug in the Dude's apartment. It tied the whole film together. During the course of the film, the thing that gave Loki the scepter could have been anybody. And given that the MCU wasn't as commercial and accepted as it is today, this was meant as nothing more than a gift to the die hard fans. Back in 2012, I wasn't near as big a fan of Marvel as I am now. I had to get online to figure out who that was. I remember Thanos from comics back in my physical youth, but I wasn't sure who the purple faced dude was.  It's like when I saw Split, and had to look up "Mr Glass" after hearing Bruce Willis say his name. Except when I look up Thanos, I wasn't severely disappointed. So...Verdict: Split was a good movie up until the last 30 seconds. Even the supernatural aspect of Kevin's 24th personality was plausible. But when it turned into a plea for audiences to remember the past credibility from M Night and became a sequel to a movie released 17 years prior, I was over it. Also, Thanos' appearance in Avengers was a gift to the audience. Possibly a hint, but you clearly couldn't miss it. It was spelled out for the audience as a possible direction for the universe. To say you "completely" missed this is to imply that you left the theatre before you were aware of the budding post credit scene trend and then never got on the internet again. 

7) Infinity Gauntlet in Thor - Easter Egg. Not a hint. I can't stretch that enough. See #5 for why this was retconned, but phase 1 was the infancy of the MCU. It was a time to tease the future while the future was still uncertain. Iron Man 2 made reference to Wakanda and Atlantis, homes to the Black Panther and Namor respectively. Even in Phase 2 these "blink and you'll miss it" nuggets are there. Sitwell mentions Stephen Strange as a threat to Shield in the middle of Winter Soldier. So these little nods to other characters are peppered throughout the films in general. The gauntlet in Odin's vault was a tease to the possible direction. Given how films are made, and how Avengers was released a full year after Thor, it stands to reason that the Thanos arc wasn't even really a fully materialized idea at the time. Not possessing the time stone, and therefore not being able to see the future, Marvel Studios probably just put it in as an inside joke among the crew and die hard comics fans. "If we don't ever get a chance to tell this story, at least we brought this particular item to life". Verdict: I'm doing this backward from number 1, and I'm getting tired of typing this, but this is NOT a hint. This is nothing more than a hopeful glimpse at an uncertain future. Time and place means everything. Only now that Marvel is one of the most bankable franchises in the world and have 20 movies planned after Avengers 4, can be a little more solid in their plans. This is not a hint at Thanos you definitely missed. This is gratitude from Marvel to their fans for making these first four movies possible.

6)Age of Ultron Post Credit Scene - HOW. COULD YOU. POSSIBLY. MISS THIS? This is Thanos, fully visible, grabbing the as of yet powerless gauntlet and declaring he'll do it himself. This is probably the closest thing to a hint on this list. Not because it hints at what's to come, but because it implies that every villain has been under Thanos' influence. ScreenRant kind of gets this right, but they give a lot of the credit to the fans of the Universe. Mainly because "do it myself" means he's relied on other bad guys to do his bidding, but they've failed. But my question is...if Thanos gave the Scepter to Loki, how do we know he didn't give the Tesseract to the Red Skull? I'm sorry, but I think the folks that think Thanos has called on others to fuck shit up for him are wrong. Not only does Johann Schmidt state that the Tesseract was once the crown jewel of Odin's treasure room, therefore implying that Thanos never had it, but it doesn't make sense for Thanos to keep giving away Infinity Stones when he's trying to catch them all (POKéMON!). No, but seriously. He made the mistake by giving Loki the scepter, and even though that happened decades after WWII, it doesn't make sense for Thanos to hand out the stones willy nilly, hoping someone else will be more successful than him. EXTRA FACT!! Thanos has an underlying fear that he's not good enough, and therefore never realizes his full potential. MAAAAAAAAYBE that means he'd entrust the stones with some other douchebags. I don't know. I don't write these scripts. I digest though... Verdict: Not a hint. Not brilliant. You didn't completely miss it. Shocker. This is just Thanos tired of other people failing and taking matters into his own hands. He knows the stones are out there, he knows he needs them, and he knows he has to go on a galaxy wide scavenger hunt to find them. BUT AGAIN!!...by this point the MCU has weeded out the ones that only catch these films on TV, and this is a reward for an audience that's more or less followed along. Also...you really can't miss this one. HE'S THE ONLY SPEAKING CREATURE ON THE BIG ASS SCREEN.

5) Fake Infinity Gauntlet - So we've already established that Odin had a Gauntlet in his weapons vault. At one point Kevin Feige, producer of all movies in the MCU and basically the daddy of these live action heroes, said there are two functioning gloves in the MCU. When a shared Universe like this starts to take shape, there will be plot points that change, storylines that don't work out, and little nuggets that will eventually be retconned (basically denying an already established truth within the scope of a tv series/film franchise/shared universe in order to go a different direction or fix a problem that occurred because of it). So when Hela pushes over the Infinity Gauntlet and proclaims it a fake, not only is it hilarious and exposes Odin as probably not as powerful as we thought he was, but it also fixes the problem of Thanos being taken down by a second gauntlet. Verdict: its not a hint at Thanos you completely missed. It's an easter egg wrapped in a retcon. Do you maybe grasp the whole concept of the "fake"? No. Is absolutely every fan meant to? Also no. This is a CYA move on Marvel's part. That's all. Its fixing slash erasing a visual gag in the first Thor film that would completely negate the power Thanos gains by completing the Gauntlet in Infinity War or the Untitled Avengers Sequel. If there were two fully functioning gauntlets, then Thanos' threat would be cut in half and not near as intense. Retcons are not brilliant hints. They're (almost sometimes) brilliant restructuring. This one happens to be funny as shit.

4) Thanos Playing Chess - more of a nod or an allusion than a hint. Thor acknowledges the how the Infinity Stones keep popping up and how it seems like someone is playing a game with Earth's Mightiest Heroes. He doesn't know about Thanos yet (how could he?), but he knows something, someone is out there. Which is absolutely more than enough. You don't need to mention Thanos by name. You, as an audience member, don't even need to know of Thanos from the first Avengers film or GotG. You just need to know that something's coming, and there's a reason for the stones. Verdict: It's not a hint. It's a character knowing very little about the situation at hand, which mean the audience doesn't need to know anymore about it. The only time the audience needs to know more than a character in a movie at any given time is when someone like Danny Ocean is heisting Terry Benedict. We're meant to know, they're not. We're part of the Eleven in that film. While the MCU is continuous, they don't make it so complicated that you can't join the party at any given moment. And if this intrigues you, you'll either go back and watch the other films, or you'll keep watching from there, or both. There's a difference between a hint and a characters lack of knowledge.

3) Thor's vision in Age of Ultron - This is a wrap up, a mini-culmination, of the Infinity Stone storyline up to this point near the end of Phase 2. It's a reminder that, oh yeah, the Tessaract, Scepter, Aether, and Orb are important objects in the Universe. The fact that they line up on a supernova shaped like the Infinity Gauntlet is not a hint. It's called an Easter Egg. A bit of foreshadowing. It's a storytelling device to suggest that these stones will come into play very soon. Diehard fans will catch it for sure, but even if you stumbled into the wrong theatre, half drunk and have a pulse, you'll understand the foreboding nature. Verdict: Easter Eggs do not equal hints but instead are rewards for the die hard fans who support the studio and the films either individually or as a whole. A brief recap of the Infinity Stone story thus far is not brilliant. It's very basic story telling. Almost every movie does in some way or another. The only thing SR got right in this mini-article is that it's not a very good scene in general. It's out of place. But if you read what the scene was supposed to be and why it was trimmed down, it's easier to understand and forgive. So far, 4/5s of the way through the list, ScreenRant has gotten ONE THING right, but they don't even explain why they're right.

2) Appeared in GotG Vol1 - This is the least brilliant hint you definitely missed. HE'S A PIVOTAL CHARACTER IN THE GODDAMN MOVIE!! He's the biggest thing on the screen in his scenes. ScreenRant itself calls this particular scene "one of the most intimidating scenes" in the MCU. Verdict: if it's so intimidating, and his presence is sprinkled all over the first Guardians film, it's not brilliant, nor is it a hint. It's part of the story, structure, and development of the film. This is a character. If the people at ScreenRant don't understand the basic fundamentals of a movie, they wrote this article for themselves (much like I'm doing with this one, but I admit it).

1) Ragnarok post-credit scene - Thor has just saved the people of Asgard. A giant ass ship looms doomingly over their ship. Is it spelled out that this is Thanos' ship? No. Are we aware that Infinity War is just around the corner and Thor knows about the Infinity Stones? Knows enough about them to essentially birth the Vision and school his fellow Avengers on the Mind Stone? Yes. Are we probably aware that Thor probably has some sort of target on his back? Answer: Probably. While this is an unspoken allusion to Thanos, it's certainly not a "brilliant hint" that you "definitely missed". You didn't need to know it was Thanos. All you need to know is that after the salvation of the people of Asgard, there's an immediate threat. Verdict: Not brilliant. You definitely didn't miss it (the ship was 5 times bigger than Thor's and featured prominently in the scene). It's only a hint. A hint at terrible things to come, Thanos or not. Even though it IS Thanos. But nevermind that because it doesn't matter that it is Thanos. It only matters that the threat was clear and present, however vague it may be.

Thus far, I've used 59% of my laptop's battery. According to my watch, I've burned over 150 calories typing this up over the course almost four hours. So why am I spending my time typing this in a blind rage? Is it because it's disrespectful to the MCU? Nah. Is it disrespectful to think they're better than the fans, both old and new, and can lie so brazenly in the title, then make you click from page to page in hopes that they might give you a legitimate hint to something you might have missed? YES!!

The truth is, unless it's something like a shout out to Atlantis or Wakanda that acknowledges other characters from the comics, we won't know what we missed until the Thanos/Infinity storyline has come to a conclusion. 

Okay. I'm'a cool down for a second. I think what bothers me most about ScreenRant is the same thing that bother me about sites like Diply, TwentyTwoWords and Looper. Clickbait. They feast on undying curiosity (which isn't a bad thing), but they exploit it for page views, clicks, likes, shares and sometimes even money. There's never any real content, and they split it up to make it cover several different pages for the sake of the aforementioned clicks. I think when a host site doesn't have faith in their own content, creates a promising headline in an attempt to mislead their audience, and then splits up the story to keep you searching for a nugget that's not there, we have a problem. 

And I legitimately think the people that run these sites think they're better than the rest of us. They think they've found the treasure-trove of internet traffic, but they never produce anything worth while. It's all "Why won't hollywood cast so and so", "You'll never guess what happened next" or yada yada yada. When you click the link, you're immediately disappointed. Because they never followthrough, they never live up to their promises, and THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT THEIR AUDIENCE. That's why, and you've seen this on my vlogs and in my podcast, I prefer honesty over clicks, views and any of that shit. That's why this article is titled "Fuck ScreenRant". I want you to know exactly how I feel. I care so much about you, that I don't care about traffic. Call me the under dog. The underling. The barnacle. Or...no. Don't.

If you read it, you read it. Thank you for that. If you didn't, you probably have a meaningful existence. But I'm now at 34% and have spent almost 5 hours on this article calling people out on their shit. It's exhausting. I need a beer and a carb heavy meal.

One Last Thought: If ScreenRant had reordered this and called the article something like "What You Need To Know About Thanos Before Infinity War" or "Thanos' Most Notable Contributions To The MCU" or some other shit...I would have considered it the research I talked about above. Polishing my knowledge before one of the greatest movies of all time is released in 9 Days. But they couldn't make it seem beneficial. No. They had to pander to the lowest common denominator. That's some Hydra bullshit right there.

Editor's Note: I don't have an editor. This is not proofread. It only is what it will ever be. The message remains the same. Fuck ScreenRant.

2018 NFL Playoffs

Have you ever listened to the podcast? First off, you should so click here. Second off, if you have, you'll know I have a very good friend of mine that I talk sports with. So far we've covered the NBA tip off back in September 2017, and we also covered the World Series back in November of the same year.

That friend is Player 2. He's a wonderful human being. Sports savvy. Knowledgable. Handsome. All of the above. Well, he's an extremely busy person, and just getting him behind the microphone is a) challenging and b) an absolute blessing. I wished to discuss the NFL playoffs and then do a Super Bowl recap, but in all honesty...who wants to hear me talk that much? So instead, we're just posting our brackets for the playoffs. Loser has to do...something. Get slapped by a fish or whatever. I'll figure it out. Anyways...enjoy our guesses on how the final games of the 17/18 NFL season will play out.

Robbie

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Player 2

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So there you have it. As you can see, Player 2 has the slightly more conventional course to the big game. Except for the Panthers and the Jags. I, on the other hand, who relentlessly roots for underdogs and the unexpected, have chose a bit more of an unconventional route. Or not. I don't know. Anything can happen. 

...I like sports, y'all.

A Short Story Long

11/15/17

As you no doubt have learned, what with being hammered over the head with it by the website URL, the opening line of my about page, and the bold lettering on top of ever page thereafter, I am Robbie Clark.

We've already discussed the spark notes: born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, videographer, actor, editor, writer, director, musician and podcast host. That's all well and good.

To not so briefly continue, I consider myself to be a creative type. I also consider myself lucky to be born into a family that encourages that type of deviant behavior. My father is an engineer at a nuclear power plant, my mother is a senior branch office administrator for Edward Jones, and my sister is a Texas A&M graduate, working as a civil engineer.  So when I came along and ordered dinner out of my butt at Don Pablo's because I had just seen Ace Ventura: Pet Detective...well, you can only imagine.  I've never been the black sheep of my family on account of everyone mostly embracing and supporting my areas of interest. But I do reside on the opposite end of the spectrum as far as professional endeavors. It's fine. I think after 31 years they've learned to love me. Kidding.

As a person, I'm energetic, funny, positive, and creative with a habit of thinking outside the box. I tend to bathe in a steady stream pop culture, marinating my brain with Netflix binges, Hulu marathons, $5 movies from Best Buy, and TV on DVD. I've been able to hold semi-lengthy conversations using nothing but film references, both obscure and apparent, and sometimes I think people hate me for it.  

As far as being on the job, I tend to blur the line between professional and casual. I've done that my entire life. It's probably the worst habit I have aside from quoting movies out loud while I watch them. I'm an incredibly passionate person, and I tend to put my everything into filming, editing, acting.  But if you see me in shorts and a backwards hat instead of a suit, it's for optimal comfort. I respect the craft too much to slack off or half-ass it, but I've never been a suit and tie kind of guy. I wonder if I'll ever get to stop explaining myself.  Anywho...

When I was 3 years old, I began asking my parents to look through the eye piece of our VHS camera, because I was fascinated.  At the age of 6, I decided I wanted to play the drums.  When I was 7 I got my first drum kit for Christmas. Through the years, I started learning lines and monologues from movies. Someone somewhere has footage of me doing the Cuban Pete with two baseball trophies as maracas at an award ceremony. In middle school, I acted in the yearly production, through the years portraying characters such as Forrest Gump and Michael Jackson, and in eighth grade we had our "musical review" written by a few high-schoolers, and the lead part of the nerd chasing the popular girl was written with me in mind. Both insulting and pretty cool, I suppose.

In high-school, I was the first freshman to be cast in the lead in a play. The play in question was Moliere's The Bourgeois Gentleman. From there it was being cast in almost every play in both supporting and lead parts. The only play I rarely participated in was the one that interfered with volleyball season. I freakin' love volleyball.

 Junior year, I took my first video production course. It became a calling, and I took it up as a hobby, going so far as to film our first annual talent show with a five camera set up. The summer between high-school and college my friends and I had a video scavenger hunt. It took a few days to edit together the six cameras worth of footage.  The footage of both the talent show and scavenger hunt has been lost. It was glorious, I assure you.

I began college at the University of Tulsa as a theatre major. While stage acting, lighting, directing, and history of playwriting took up most of my time, I took a few screen writing courses. After a couple years I transferred to the University of Texas at Arlington in order to be closer to my family while we went through a rough patch. I took more stage acting and directing courses, adding a film acting course and playwriting courses as I went. I eventually graduated in December 2010 with a BFA in Theatre Performance.

In December of 2015, a whole 5 years after graduating and not doing much of anything but bouncing around from job to job as a bartender and server, I finally picked up the camera phone, and started shooting some short clips. It was the start of something new and fun. In November 2016 I went on my first film audition in four years. It was the continuation of something old and fun. In all honesty, I got started on the right path a little late in life, but the important thing is I actually found it. 

In September 2017, I started a video production company called 7Shakes Entertainment. In October of the same year I began recording my podcast, So Called To Greatness. I've been lucky to turn a hobby into a small source of income, and I'm lucky enough to have the freedom to forever capture my verbalized thoughts on digital audio with my revolving door of castmates I get to call my friends.

And that's probably more than you ever wished to know about me. While we're at it, I've been sorted into Ravenclaw, I still have a Ninja Turtle's pillowcase, and my favorite thing about sushi is eel sauce. So now that I more or less have my ducks in a row and have a fairly solid idea of where I'm headed, I just keep working, and working, and working. I keep learning, and reading, and studying. The work is never done, and no one ever knows anything, so I continuously strive to be better. That's why I'm here. That's who I am. That's what I do.

I know that it's confusing. It is one thing to question the official story, and another thing entirely to make wild accusations, or insinuate that I'm a superhero. Because that would be outlandish and, uh, fantastic. I'm just not the hero type. Clearly. With this laundry list of character defects, all the mistakes I've made, largely public. The truth is...

I am Robbie Clark.

The Seven Shakespeares Theory

11/10/17

I love Shakespeare.  He's probably my favorite playwright of all time.  I avoid him like the plague I assume he had to live through, but that's only because I had to work on some kind of Shakespeare whatever the hell every day for two years in college.  I can basically do the guy in my sleep (let it go, we're adults), but I don't.  Because I'm over it.  Nevertheless he's my all time favorite writer.

In 1931 Gilbert Slater proposed a theory in his book The Seven Shakespeares that The Bard himself wasn't just one man, but rather a group of 7 people contributing to poetry and the stage as a collective.  These 7 people include, but are not limited to: Francis Bacon, Sir Walter Raleigh, Mary Sidney, and Christopher Marlowe.  

The idea was that they could write more political or raunchier material than their cultural status would allow, without losing their standing in the eyes of the public. The stage was a mask of sorts.

When you consider the timeline of Shakespeare's body of work, and how quickly he released some of his most quality work, it's not entirely implausible.  Sure there were no iPhones or video games to distract someone from nonstop writing, but it all had to be done by hand and candle light, because there were obviously no word processors, and I firmly believe Shakespeare would view using one as a form of cheating, and if the quill is working for you, then get at it.

Richard II, Romeo & Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream were all written in 1595.  Granted, some of these weren't performed until years later.  Midsummer was first performed in 1604, and the first recorded performance of R&J was March 1st 1662.  Regardless, they were all written in the same year.  Two of these shows (you know the ones) have gone on to be some of the most performed shows ever.  I once saw Romeo & Juliet set in a post-apocalyptic waste land, and honest to God I think it's my favorite of all time.  Aside from Leonardo DiCaprio's extravaganzic turn as Romeo.  That was pretty badass.

Cut to a few years in the future.  Much Ado About Nothing was written between 1598-99, Henry V and Julius Caesar were written in 1599, As You Like It between 1599-1600, Hamlet between 1599-1601, and Twelfth Night was composed in 1601.  Four of these are also among his top performed plays, and Hamlet is arguably his most popular, if not his most revered plays of all.

We're going to use Hamlet as an example of how next to impossible it is to churn out this kind of quality work on a regular basis (read: borderline perfect work).  Hamlet is five acts long.  Five. Acts. LOOOOOONG.  We performed this back in college, and it ran a solid two and a half hours. Keeping in mind that that script was cut down "for time", the show runs a little longer than that.  And the guy playing Hamlet knew exactly what he was doing and put a little speed into it.  So with anyone else it probably would have been even longer.

Now, consider the time it takes to write a play of that length.  By hand.  With a feather and ink.  More than likely by candlelight.  Probably quite a while.  If he started Hamlet in 1959, while he was finishing Much Ado, and juggling it while writing Henry V simultaneously, finishing Henry, starting and finishing As You Like It, and then finishing Twelfth while finishing the Ham, he more than likely had to work non stop.  And not a single person can do that.  I would assume that stress, anxiety and exhaustion were all around back in the day too, but people couldn't air it all out on Facebook or anything.  How can one individual pop out five plays, three of which would eventually become classics performed constantly, and the other one that would be the yardstick against which all future classics would be measured?  The answer might shock you.

HE COULDN'T!!  He just couldn't.  There's not a popsicle's chance in hell that one human being can write so well so consistently.  I'm 100% certain that my opinion is my opinion.

Shakespeare, if that is in fact his real name, wrote 42 plays in the span of 25 years.  Supposedly by himself (yeah, right).  By comparison, the Beatles, who multiple scholars and burnouts describe as the greatest and most influential band of all time, released 22 studio albums (23 if you count "My Bonnie" with Tony Sheridan, Stuart Ratcliffe, and Pete Best) in the span of 9 years.  And they were a four piece. Does this comparison hold any weight to my argument? Absolutely not.  Do I stubbornly stand by it?  Of course.

It just stands to reason, from a logical stand point, that a group of intelligent and educated people could collaborate with each other, work on multiple plays at once, check each other's work, and pitch ideas much easier than one person could in solitary confinement.  Okay, he probably talked to a few people here and there, but this isn't an essay or research paper, so I can say whatever I want without citing Wikipedia.  

I believe that while it's kinda sorta plausible one person could be so intelligent and hyper powered that he could potentially pound out play after play after play while working on other plays here and there while percolating with ides for five more plays all by his lonesome.  It just seems much more possible that a group could write it all together as a way to make sure that the quality of content never suffered.

And that's it.  I'm done.  I've made my case, and I'm right.  Or I'm wrong.  Or who cares.  This was me rambling. I even warned you about this at the link.  Joke's on you. Or not.  Or...