I Made A Halloween Choose Your Own Adventure Experience – Werewolf House

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Hi friends, I have some exciting news. Haters, I have some unfortunate news for you.

I have created a new interactive scary Halloween website for you to click around on. Unfortunately, this site will mostly kill you, haters and friends alike. This is the curse of the creator of the Werewolf House. It is more of a burden on me, I promise.

I figured this blog might be a good opportunity to talk about how this all came about since this blog has proven to be my internet dumping ground.

Around Halloween time, I thought it might be fun to make a new animated gif-filled interactive 2nd person adventure based on an internet haunted house I did right here on this very blog. It was one of the few things I’ve written that felt easy and natural, so I had the bright idea to do that again instead of continuously doing shit that’s hard to do that I’m bad at.

I got a little carried away with the Halloween spirit and started thinking of more and more features I could add to this haunted house sequel. First, I had the idea to make it a choose your own adventure style story, which meant that I needed a new, more powerful platform. So goodbye dusty old WordPress and hello hot and fresh Squarespace. Squarespace allowed me to put the whole story on one screen, and have links that scrolled you to the correct section depending on the decision you made. Pretty slick to me, a guy who doesn’t know anything about making websites.

Next, I also thought it would be fun to write some ambient background music for the spooky experience. But then that backing music started coming together and sounding cool, so like a dumbass I got the idea to use some of the sounds in the backing track to create a more traditionally structured song with lyrics and drums and guitar and shit.

At this point this was becoming a pretty involved, real deal project. The internet’s cheesiest scary Halloween gifs might be fun and all for visuals in the actual story, but I needed something actually good to grab people. So I asked my friend Rose to make a front page illustration (as seen above) and she knocked it out of the god damn park. Trying to spread this around has been a lot easier than normal because I figure at the very least, if someone clicks on my site they will see this unquestionably amazing artwork before they have to suffer through my amateur music and “””””””comedy””””””””””””.

Oh yeah and did I mention I thought all this up October 5th and I had less than a month to do the entire website, writing, backing track and song all on my own? WELL I did that’s how it went down.

 

So like a little shit I started working on the site and story whenever I could, at work a bit (sorry), at home, writing dumb notes to myself or emailing myself caches of werewolf gifs I found online when I was out and about.

I was especially nervous about the song. The last song I did (for my friend Allie’s Dog Concept Album) took me months to finish to my semi-satisfaction. Partially because I planned it out wrong and forgot how to record songs so I had to rerecord most of the thing, but mainly because I knew it was going to be alongside some real deal established people like my teenage bass hero Mark Hoppus, so I figured I better make damn sure it’s as good as I possibly could make it. So it almost killed me but after several months I made it work. It took about 2 weeks to do the backing track, so I only had another 2 weeks left to finish the song which got me shaking in my little chinos. But by some miracle, it all came together almost as easily as the rest of the writing.

Surprisingly, everything came together fairly well, and I somehow managed my time efficiently enough to have everything just ready by Monday for a Tuesday release on October 31st, which some may know as All Hallow’s Ween. I guess that’s a good sign that everything came together so easily? I’m not used to creating anything where it doesn’t feel like a life or death struggle so I’m just telling myself that it’s a good sign and if I like it and enjoyed doing it, I guess that means someone out there as weird as me will too.

 

Anyway, I’m basically saying I got way too into the Halloween spirit and spent all month working on this new choose your own adventure multimedia website thing (still not sure what to call it which has made trying to sum it on social media tricky). I’m really proud of how it turned out and shocked that I somehow finished it on time and I don’t hate the song.

To conclude this way too long post, in summation, I’m proud of what I have done and you should check out Werewolf House.

 

Thank you for reading you are now my best friend.

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Notes on Notes Analysis: Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” is making me do this

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Folks, I have some unfortunate news. Taylor is back on her bullshit. Now possibly more than ever.

BUT, in a classic case of people latching on to the tangible surface details, online critics seem to be missing some of the deeper reasons why the song doesn’t work.

Don’t get me wrong, as a piece of pop culture, “Look What You Made Me Do” is a misstep as well. It sounds like someone forgot that songs like “Blank Space” were supposed to be tongue-in-cheek reactions to tabloids portraying her as some kind of of floozy breaking men’s hearts and sleeping around.

The internet has already chewed up and spit out the already-infamous “Why? Oh, cuz she’s dead!” spoken interlude for good reason—and that’s not even to mention the gossip about the song being about her and Kanye’s feud and her commodification of feminism despite being silent in the wake of the many recent crises of equality… and so on.

I will leave those spicy meatballs to the many other people online that are way smarter than me and can articulate more about this song’s context in the larger culture.

A subject I can talk about is how “Look What You Made Me Do” fails as a song. Sure, the “The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now” part sounds like it came straight from the damaged mouth of Jared Leto’s Joker, but there’s still a lot to be gleaned from it as a piece of music.

Because, let’s be honest, people would be happy to not give a shit about the try-hard badassness of this song if it wasn’t so disappointing on a musical level. Remember “Shake it Off”? That has some pretty silly stuff in it too but we all were happy to sing and dance along because it worked.

What we’re really talking about when we talk about “Look What You Made Me Do” is a failing of structure.

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Let’s break it down real quick. I’m going to be comparing this song to “Out of the Woods” a lot because they both seem to be trying to accomplish a similar songwriting feat, just with vastly different results. When you simplify it down to its main sections, here is what “Out of the Woods” (and a shitload of other pop songs) looks like:

Verse
Prechorus
Chorus
Verse
Prechorus
Chorus
Bridge
Chorus

You might not be consciously aware of it, but this structure is imprinted on your DNA at this point. Sure, other songs have experimented with the formula to great success, if a pop song wants to immediately grab someone, having a verse/chorus structure is the way to do it. I’m all for experimenting with format, but the truth is, having a basic, well-known structure allows the performer, production, lyrics, and—most important in pop songwriting—the melody to shine.

Now let’s look at the main structure of “Look What You Made Me Do”:

Verse (0:00)
Prechorus (0:45)
Chorus (1:00)
Verse (1:15)
RAP INTERLUDE (1:30)
Prechorus (1:45)
Chorus (2:00)
Bridge (2:15)
Chorus (3:00)

See anything weird in there? In case it’s tough I put the weird thing in all caps and in red font. I’ll give you a second to find it. Take your time, feel have fun and click around on my web blog if you need a second to relax and think it through.

OK, so yeah. The song completely breaks up its flow with a strange spoken interlude where Swift raps about “drama, drama”. And then the song just breezes right on by. This portion doesn’t happen again, there isn’t a 3rd verse where there’s another interlude, someone just decided to completely disrupt the verse/prechorus flow that was set up at the start. Why is that there?

Not only does it interrupt the momentum and heightening of the verse and prechorus relationship, it makes the whole rest of the song chaotic and confusing. It’s like floating out in space without a tether. Reaching out trying to find something to hold onto, some sort of stability as you listen. Thinking, OK, this is a strong melody, is THIS the chorus? No, it’s the bridge. Was the prechorus actually the chorus the whole time? Is this an experimental pop song structure? Who am I? What is this place? Why am I spending so much time and effort writing on a blog no one reads?

There are no clear answers to any of these questions. Even after listening a handful of times to the song, I still had difficulty parsing the structure until I finally mapped it out above.

That interlude absolutely contributes to the song feeling disjointed and weird—and why the infamous “old Taylor’s dead” phone call feels so out of place. At that point there’s little indication of what the song is going to do next. You’re already on the second part of an extended bridge, desperately for something to latch onto when you’re hit with Taylor’s edgy declaration, and BLAMMO that’s the thing that defines the song for everyone that hears it.

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But to dig even deeper (yeah why not, this is my blog I get to type as much as I want), the bizarre “drama, drama” interlude isn’t the only issue with the song’s structure.

Let’s take a look at “Out of the Woods” again. The structure of each section is the same as any pop song you might come across on the radio, but the way it progresses is fairly unique.

Rather than have laying it all out there the first time you hear the chorus, the song progresses and builds with each iteration of its parts. It’s a pretty bold move, because honestly, as we all know, a pop song lives and dies by its hook, and it’s not like you’re gonna be humming “Are we out of the woods yet / Are we out of the woods yet / Are we out of the woods yet” all day after hearing that first chorus. Most songs on the radio are gonna serve you up a big loud pop hook with a catchy melody as soon as possible. But not here. Yet.

Swift and her team had the confidence to start out with something subdued and allow the song to grow, until you get to the final iteration of the chorus, which has the soaring vocals and power that you’d expect in a big pop hook. It’s a bit of delayed gratification that may have not immediately grab a person scrubbing through radio stations listening to only a few seconds of a song at a time, but if you give it the full 4 minutes it requires, it’s an incredibly satisfying experience. It provides those same pop song structure we know, but approaches it in a different way with its more linear build, as opposed to the quiet/loud/quiet/loud progression most pop follows. We’d be here all day if I really went into it, but this progression follows the themes of the song as well, leading to a strong piece of art whose different components all support the same emotional content.

Check out “Turn to Stone” by the Electric Light Orchestra for an example of the linear build approach (found in “Out of the Woods”) being used to create a pop classic.

Every song on 1989 is able to do something similar. Not quite to the same extent, but if you listen to each song, some element is added at the end to make the final chorus climactic, usually Swift ad-libbing on top. A song, like a novel or movie or any other extended piece of art you might want to use, is only as good as its ending. And 1989 is full of songs with consistently satisfying endings.

On the flipside, despite having some strong parts, it’s hard not to walk away from “Look What You Made Me Do” remembering the cringe-worthy phone call portion and not the anti-climactic chorus.

A lot like how the people involved seem to not quite understand what made “Blank Space” interesting lyrically, “Look What You Made Made Me Do” sounds like someone saw that “Out of the Woods” was successful and missed what actually made it memorable—that linear progression. Not the sparse, repetitive chorus.

“Look What You Made Me Do” has a similar approach to most pop at the start, a verse and prechorus that build and ramp up effectively—notice how the vocals in the verse are more spaced out (quarter notes, then into 8th notes), then they progress into rapid fire 16th notes. The verse to prechorus transition underscored by the song introducing a handclap snare for the first time in the prechorus. Before that, the only percussion we hear is some syncopated bass drum in the verse. It’s all an effective build that increases tension beautifully. It put in all that work to grab our attention and get us to anticipate the next section… only to drop into a low-energy, repetitive chorus devoid of any melody (“Look what you made me do / Look what you made me do”). There’s no release. The simple 8th note vocals and 4-on-the-floor beat bring the song to a grinding halt.

But hold up, it might fall flat at first, but that could be OK! As we’ve seen from “Out of the Woods”, Swift has used a low-key chorus as a jumping off point. The problem is, there’s no progression. The climax never comes. With the exception of some percussion and a synth bass line in the final few repetitions, the first chorus just as listless as the last. Even worse, the song devotes a quarter of its run time to a long-ass bridge that has the same effect as the verse, it builds and then fails to provide a release when the chorus hits.

For a song that’s supposed to be about lashing out and getting revenge, the chorus in “Look What You Made Me Do” is sorely lacking in any intensity or propulsion.

So instead of the song unfolding and building on itself into a cathartic ending like “Out of the Woods”, we’re just subjected to more of a chorus that wasn’t satisfying, catchy or very interesting in the first place. The theatricality and propulsion found in the verse and prechorus is sorely missing here. It causes the emotion of the song to be lost, and all of the bitter lyrical content to feel hollow and phony.

I have to commend the bold move of creating a chorus with no melody, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. There are infinite ways to add intensity or complexity to a piece of music beyond melody—something memorable that mirror’s the song’s themes. Something that’s not the musical equivalent of having to sneeze but never quite getting it out.

As evidenced by the way it’s being covered online, the most interesting parts of the song are its subject matter and the way it awkwardly fits into the context of Taylor Swift’s image and public persona. That’s fine for some initial internet buzz, but it’s not going to lead to a song that’s still interesting after some other celebrity news takes over our timeline.

What’s especially confusing about this shift is that this songwriting stumble is a new development. Despite working with countless producers and songwriters over the years, Swift’s songs (especially on 1989) retained solid pop composition. It was easy to assume that since she was credited as a co-writer, her contributions were what was keeping the music reliably interesting, even when jumping genres from country to dance-pop.

“Look What You Made Me Do” is no different. It’s got a team of writers including Swift, but it stands apart in just how much of it falls flat musically.

We can only speculate why. Maybe she’s got other things on her mind, or maybe she fell into the same trap as everyone else, focusing on the surface details of the song like the attitude and the subject matter, rather than going down deep and making analyzing how the song comes together as a piece of music.

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Well that’s it, THANKS for reading all of these words. I hope you feel like it was worth your time. Guess what, if you did think that somehow, there’s lots more where that came from. I have so much animal clip art and musical analysis it’s gonna make you wanna hurl.  Or feel free to click around elsewhere on my page and enjoy all the other junk I do.

Rest In Peace, Harris Wittels

My heart goes out to friends and family of Harris Wittels. I’m devastated just as a person who only looked up to him for his jokes and podcast appearances–I can’t imagine what kind of grief they are feeling.

I may have been the only person in the world to see this moment, so it feels important to share:

I saw Harris once in real life. I was waiting in line to see Comedy Bang Bang at the RiotLA festival and he came out of the theater and stood nearby to smoke a cigarette. No one else in line even seemed to notice he was there so I tried to keep my freakout internal, but now I really regret missing my chance to tell him that his jokes were important to me.

Anyway, as he was finishing up his cigarette, he pulled out his phone, wrote something really quick and then went back inside the theater. Minutes later, he came on stage for his Foam Corner segment of the show. He said that he had just written a joke he wanted to share, and then proceeded to do his famous bit: “I hate smoking sections. Unless we’re talking about The Mask with Jim Carrey, in which case the ‘smoking’ section is my favorite part.”

Even though I guess some people would consider it just a dumb little joke, it really felt like I got a personal glimpse at a genius creating something special right in front of me.

Which is also what it felt like to hear him perform on podcasts.

Rest in peace, Harris.

Check out some of my new jokes

Oh hey hello, nice of you to stop on by my online web page. Looks like I got the courage to hop up on the stage again and tell some jokes to an audience full of people. Click below if you’d like to see how that went. At the beginning, there is a special treat for the thousands of loyal readers of this blog! The first joke I told was adapted from a recent blog post. So… that’s fun for everyone.

In conclusion, wrapping things up, ending succinctly, I would just like to say thank you for reading this and please have a fine day today.

To the guy that found my blog by searching “can i lose my panis virginity with my hand”

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I’m not sure how you possibly ended up here with that google search, but I apologize that my dumb jokes about ghosts and endless rumblings about Blues Traveler (probably before your time, but they were a popular guitar and harmonica band in the 90’s) weren’t more help.

On the off chance you found your way back here, I thought I’d write a quick post in case the internet failed you and you never got more info about your inquiry.

So, to answer your question definitively: No. You have to put it in a vagana.

Listen to the demo for Podcast: The Musical Part 1

Apologies if I’m cluttering up anyone’s feed or whatever with all these posts, but this has been a long time coming and I’m excited to finally present Podcast: The Musical in a listenable form! It’s really happening.

The demo for the first part is here. This features 2 of the 10 songs that make up all of Podcast: The Musical as a whole. Check it out right now ASAP ASSAPP:

To see read the full script, learn more about how you can help me make this thing into a better thing, or any other information you could possibly want, feel free to visit PodcastTheMusical.tumblr.com.

Thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy. For any kind of feedback or criticism or inquiries on how you can help, please do not hesitate to contact me. Byyyeee

Read the full script for Podcast: The Musical here

Heeeeyy PSSSssst I have a secret for you my little friend… I have completed a demo for Podcast: The Musical, the project I have been talking about for fucking years already. I did the opening bit and the first two songs so everyone can get a bit of a taste of what the thing will be like.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it, but I figured, why the heck not, I’ll post the whole script online for people to enjoy. The demo I’ll be posting soon is just the beginning of this whole podcast musical nonsense. There are like 7 or 8 other full songs and more than enough dumb jokes and bad puns for even the most pun-hardened individual to enjoy.

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So go ahead and click the pic to read the full script or click here or feel free to even click here if you are feeling dangerous.

Another day, another song about podcasts

Hi, hello, you seem like a respectable internet user so I suppose I’ll give you a quick look at the horse shit I’ve been working on. Turns out it’s the same as most of the other horse shit I do. I made a bunch of songs about podcasts.

First, I made a quick little intro song to open up the “Popcorn Gallery” section of one my favorite podcasts: Hollywood Handbook. By “quick” and “little” I mean it was over 40 seconds long and the hosts Hayes and Sean made fun of it for being too long but they played it so hahaha joke’s on them. But seriously it was cool of them to do that and maybe I’ll work on something else for them that’s shorter (or maybe longer??? As a joke? I’m laughing already!!! We’ll see.), sometime soon now that I’ve figured out how to actually use EQ and make my songs not sound like shit in a bathtub.

Boy what a fucking mess of a post this is so far. But I’ll never learn how to make a decent god damn post if I don’t power through it and finish this one so here I go.

Next, a theme I wrote for the plugs section of the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast got played on this week’s episode, “Sex Party Season,” and it went about as perfect as it possibly could have. Let me count the ways it was great:

  1. I actually learned how to use EQ and make my songs not sound like shit in a bathtub. Combined with the Earwolf network recently upgrading to a higher bitrate and stereo sound, my theme actually sounded pretty cool.
  2. The whole conceit of the song being a “zone” where comedians could riff and make jokes worked perfectly. Scott Aukerman started the first few words of a joke in the “space” I left and then my song cut him off in a hilarious fashion. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect so big ups to Scott Aukerman for being funny.
  3. Speaking of the Auk Man, he also seemed to legitimately enjoy my theme and called it “cool.” He also seemed to genuinely laugh at my last plugs theme as well, so yeah, that’s pretty awesome he enjoyed my shit when he was exposed to it.
  4. In addition to Scotty boy, two of my other comedy heroes: Gillian Jacobs and Paul F. Tompkins (as Len Wiseman) had a brief discussion about my last name. Unfortunately, they all got the pronunciation wrong (it’s pronounced like “niece”) and they have made an enemy for life.
  5. The theme got featured on what I think was the funniest episode this year and what some are calling the funniest episode ever. And given how many times I’ve gone back and listened to my favorite episodes and practically memorized the plugs themes for each, that is very cool that maybe the same will happen for someone else out there with my dumb song.

So yeah that was a really wonderful thing that has really made this week for me.

Haha you fuckin dope you thought I would end this on some kind of note of sincerity? What an internet idiot you are.

I have one more thing to share. So remember way back a year ago when I announced that I was writing “Podcast: The Musical”? If you said yes, you are a liar because nobody actually saw that post, but anyway, a year later with lots of tweaking, I fuckin FINISHED writing it. It’s going to end up being somewhere between about 45 minutes to an hour long with 10 real-deal, totally brand new songs. Now that the writing is mostly finished, I have to actually figure out how it will possibly be made.

So, on the off chance that you are in the LA area and you like to sing or dance or if you like podcasts or if you know people that fit any of those descriptions, please feel more than welcome to contact me. Sorry for calling you a dope earlier.

Look out soon for a quick demo of a couple Podcast: The Musical songs to give you a better idea of what this thing might someday turn into.

OK that’s all thank you for reading my insufferable update! You are now my friend.

My newest Cracked.com article

Hello all, I am happy to announce that my third article is up and LIVE on Cracked.com. Can articles online be called “live”? I think “liveblogging” is a thing already. If not, that’s my idea now. Thanks. Anyway, the article ended up getting merged with a different article so a lot of my actual writing got edited down, but there’s a reason I am typing this to an audience of somewhere between 2 and negative 5 and the editors of Cracked run one of the internet’s most successful sites. That’s how it goes. More articles to come.

OK, without any further bullshitting, here it is:

6 Sneaky Ways Movies and TV Shows Outsmarted the Censors

A Walk Through the Internet’s Scariest Haunted House

HELLO, moron, and welcome to the scariest ghost house on the net. You messed up big time by clicking on this but now there is no escape. If you click a different link or close the window a Dracula will come to your window and look at you with scary eyes.

So please, dear reader (fear reader), come inside… I promise nothing scary will happen. HAHA NOT. Psych.

You enter the house and the door slams shut behind you and it’s locked. Everything seems pretty normal until blammo a fuckin spider is all up in your face. His friend, a bat, is there too. You get startled and are scared as hell but you have to continue on because of the door thing.

You turn the corner in a dark and dusty halloway (halloween hallway) and BLAHHH there’s a skeleton sitting in a chair RIGHT THERE. You didn’t think you could get any more scared than you were before but hey here we are.

Ahh but how relieving… it’s not a skeleton sitting in a chair but just the depiction of a skeletin carved into a pumpkin AKA a Jacko Lantern. You look in a mirror to make sure your hair is ok but you see the skeleton was right behind you all along!!!

He beckons you to come give him a big stinkin sloppy kiss right on the mouth but you don’t wanna. You run away but come face to face with nature’s most fearsome predator: the ghost.

He wobbles to and fro and you know that you’re done for. “This is probably the ghost of the skeleton before. He’s probably pretty mad and that’s scary” you think to your lonesome self.

A friendly cat jumps out and the ghost disapparates and you are at ease for a moment. He looks pretty happy and he does a little dance that you think is cool but you look a little closer… AH! His face disappears for a second there during his dance which is scary and also his shadow kind of looks like one snake and then two snakes for a couple frames. “Those are two things that make this cat scary” you think to yourself as you hightail it the heck out of there.

Oh no but look out. A monster made by none other than Dr. Victor Frankenstein starts stomping towards you. You hide in a closet before he can come do to you whatever Frankenstein monsters do.

You get in the closet (which doesn’t have a skeleton in it–that is an x-ray gif. You are the skeleton in the closet. It’s scary because if you think about it, we all have skeletons inside of us). It’s far too dark in there so you light a candle.

Much to your horror it turns out you are sharing a closet with a scary witch with one of the bubbliest cauldrons you’ve ever seen in all your days. You run out of the closet.

Outside of the closet there is a mummy who does a funky dance and you die.

Your spine-tangling adventure has come to an end. You screwed up big time by bumping into that mummy and because of that you have died and now you’re in a coffin.

The End…? Yes.

Ahhh don’t worry about it, chump. It was all just some Hallow’sween fun. Just a silly prank on the internet. The house was only in your imagination this whole time. It just seemed real because I did a good job.

So don’t worry… there’s no such thing as REAL haunted houses… right?

Well… the legend I heard is that ghosts have long since abandoned haunting houses and have since taken up haunting the internet through internet web logs… just like this one…

BOO!!!! HAhahehehehahahaaa I was a ghost all along. Ghoulnight, fucker… pleasant dreams…