There's a winter storm outside -- the first solid evidence of Winter in the first week of December for several years. The New Hampshire tourist industry -- by which I mean the ski industry, the snowmobile industry, the ski industry, the ATV industry, the ski industry and did I mention the ski industry -- is breathing a sigh of relief, as it looks like we might actually, y'know, have a ski season before February this year.
(Not that they were taking any chances, mind. I've driven by a bunch of phallic "look at our new snowmaking equipment" billboards since early September. By God they were going to be skiing this year whether we liked it or not! And, of course, I like it fine though I myself haven't gone skiing for at least fifteen years. Probably more like twenty, now that I think about it. Christ, I'm old.)
It is the Christmas season, though very few people seem to care this year. Including me, though I'm well ahead on my Christmas shopping for the first time... well, ever. (I am entirely in favor of fiancees who have well developed Amazon wishlists. I have a well developed Amazon wishlist too, but that's less for my fiancee and more for my family, who love me dearly and haven't a clue what sort of gizmos to buy me. I'd post a link for the curious but it would seem crass, and I like to wait at least four or five posts into a revival after a multiple week hiatus before I appear crass.)
For the most part, all is well. We wait patiently for the government to let Wednesday and I get married. (We could get word any day, or it could easily go into February with no word a'tall. We keep the lines of communication open to the single greatest immigration attorney in the world, and we check the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website, and we wait and we hope and I get up there whenever I can (she can't come down here until she comes down here to get married. That's just the way the law works.) and we talk every day, and that's what that is right now.
There's a winter storm outside, but the home fires are burning well. Having weathered financial issues aplenty over the Summer (as I'm sure you all remember), everything is fine now. I actually have some money in a savings account. Not a lot, but some, and that builds with every paycheck. There's always more unexpected events on the horizon, but barring the same kind of sudden, rapid smackdown of them that started the summer travails, things should just be okay.
I have it on good authority that the Month of November was, for me, essentially an anti-Nanowrimo. Which isn't to say I've gone negative on Nanowrimo. I've enjoyed it when I did it, and I enjoy seeing it when others do it. But for me, it was a month where I generated... well, essentially nothing, both here and on Banter Latte. Almost certainly I needed that. If you use your brain for writing too many days in a row without a break, it gets hot and eventually the RAM fails.
But it's December now, and it's the Christmas season, and we're heading to close the year out. There's things happening, in the world and on the web. The Russians own LiveJournal, the Primary is a month away in the state I live in, and Chuck Norris has embraced the meme in more ways than one. Halfpixel has become a full on online guild a la Dumbrella, bringing the Blank Label collective down to a tight six In Mystery Science Theater 3000 news. Rifftrax has started doing heavy advertising in targeted media, the Rifftrax crew has also formed "the Film Crew" which is doing the MST shuffle, which means the Mike Nelson/Kevin Murphy/Bill Corbett version of MST3K is fully back in production only minus the muppets and the SciFi network. At the same time, the original MST3K team of Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Josh Weinstein, and special bonus not-quite-original-but-still-seminal Frank Conniff have launched Cinematic Titanic, which somehow doesn't make any reference whatsoever to Rifftrax or the Film Crew (and vice versa) even though Mary Jo Pehl has done work now for both groups. And if that wasn't interesting enough, Best Brains, Inc., in the person of Jim Mallon (the original executive producer and the voice of Gypsy) has spun up some truly crap web cartoons 'continuing' the story of the Satellite of Love, alongside some old school folks like Paul Chapman, who we all remember as Pitch. Right?
Okay, the crappy webtoons are clearly just designed to get you buying DVDs, but still! It's... something....
That's right. Three entirely distinct entities of former MST3K folks, all cheerfully suckling at the teat of a show that went off the air in 1999. Three collectives of entertainers, writers, gadabouts town who all have legitimate claim to some of the MST3K legacy. Three separate performing troupes that are not acknowledging the other two's efforts in any way, shape or form, absent a brief mention on the Cinematic Titanic website that Josh Weinstein was the guy who actually hired Mike Nelson in the first place.
Yeah, there's no behind the scenes 'fun' going on there. None at all.
The interesting thing is, for all three of these groups... we're actually seeing models that the webcomics world pioneered in play. The MST3K site, with its free crappy Flash animations (seriously, guys, I know that the art is supposed to be 'stylized' but it looks... um... bad) is drawing eyeballs to sell videos. Rifftrax works off of -- I swear to Christ -- Micropayments, and from all accounts it's been monster successful. That's right. Someone made micropayments work. With, I would add, podcast technology and absolutely no DRM. It looks as though Cinematic Titanic may do the same, though we don't yet know. The Film Crew is straight online distribution -- they don't advertise in traditional places, their production facilities are essentially a minimal set possibly made in someone's garage, and they're clearly selling DVDs briskly.
Everyone still reading these words will recognize the models at play. And clearly everyone involved with MST3K has the advantage of a massive cult phenomenon from the 90's (probably the defining cult phenomenon among geek culture of the 90's, all apologies to Babylon 5 -- Buffy was transitional into the 21st century so nyah) to give them a continuing fanbase. But the simple truth is, it's not costing them much money to make Rifftrax. You or I could do it with scriptwriting time (and talent we might not possess, of course) and our personal computers. Admittedly, Nelson partnered with Legend Films who's shouldering the website costs, but come on.
Put yet another way? Other media besides comics have begun to figure out the whole web thing. Between that and the rise of direct-to-DVD stuff... and the fact that both Amazon.com and fucking Wal-Mart have come out as anti-DRM...
...well, it's an interesting time to be on the web.
But then, winter storms are always fun to watch from the inside.