Saturday, November 24, 2018

YouTube Live 2008/ 10 Years Later


Remember the first time big YouTubers got together and mixed with mainstream celebrities, such as Katy Perry and Will I Am, for a live variety show? No? That's probably because it was a flop that people were quick to forget. However, forgettable-flop or not, it was in fact an event which altered the face of YouTube. It signified the end of the first era, and the beginning of a new era; an era of fans and celebrities, networks and contracts.

Today, an event such as YouTube Live would be business as usual. But in it's time, it was something new. This was a time when YouTubers existed within a box on your computer screen. They were ordinary people broadcasting from grainy webcams in their bedrooms. They did not have networks, and professional equipment. YouTube "celebrity status" existed within a niche. Many people hadn't even heard of YouTube yet. YouTube Live, in November of 2008, signified a major shift.

I remember, 10 years ago, sitting in front of my computer desk, in the chair I got on clearance at Office Depot. I had a pad of paper, and took notes for my report I would write, because that's what I did. YouTube events were my domain. This was the first live YouTube event, and I loved watching YouTubers step out of their microcosms and collaborate. But, as I watched Katy Perry and her crew work her way through a line-up of YouTubers, I began to experience a sinking feeling. Something about the event just didn't sit right with me. I stopped taking notes, and never wrote about the event (until now). I don't remember if I even watched the whole thing. Later on, as vlogs began to pour out on the subject of YouTube Live, I saw that I wasn't the only YouTuber who experienced this.

For those of us who joined YouTube in the beginning years, YouTube was essentially seen as the messiah of media. It was the next evolution of media, superior to television and movies. Traditional media realized this, but never quite grasped what made it what it was. YouTube wasn't revolutionary because it took place on the Internet, instead of cable and air-waves. It wasn't the fact that we watched it on a different box that made it what it was. It was revolutionary, because everybody was a participant. Corporations wanted to capitalize on this, but it wasn't a thing that could be duplicated or controlled by a board of directors.

Traditional media is passive. You watch TV, and you live vicariously through characters. You don't exist. The actors who depict these characters are heralded and fan-fared through award shows. Pictures of them are sold for a high price to sleazy magazines. They live cushy and luxurious lifestyles. Meanwhile, you are nobody. Your meaningless life is paused, to observe the much more interesting lives of these great characters. Then, you get up early and return to your 9-5, where your life is treated almost as meaninglessly as it was while you were watching TV.

YouTube, or more accurately, the YouTube Community, was not passive. Everybody was a part of it. You watch somebody's video, and upload your own in response, which is viewed in return. Even if you don't want to upload videos, you comment on videos, and the uploaders reply. YouTube was revolutionary, because it was media that we all participated in. We were both the viewer and viewed. We interacted with the people we were watching. We could simultaneously enjoy the show, and be one of the characters.

As we watched YouTube Live, however, a glaring feeling began to smack us in the face. We weren't a part of it. This was an exclusive event that only the top YouTubers were invited to. We watched these "YouTube celebrities" intermix with mainstream celebrities. We watched these elite YouTubers upload videos of their backstage parties they were having...  that the rest of us weren't invited to. We were watching our "new media" hijacked from under us by people who didn't understand what made it "new media", and relegating us back to our old traditional media roles of meaningless observers.

This was the sentiment we had, at the time, as first era YouTubers. There had been a buildup to this. As the YouTube Community developed, sort of an accidental byproduct of the video sharing site, a hierarchy began to develop, as happens within a community. Before YouTube became a household word, people began to experience a pseudo-celebrity status within this niche online community. News stations began to pick up on this, and would report on "the new celebrities."

After Google took over, they introduced the partnership program in mid 2007. I always supported the idea of the partnership program, but regarded its execution as being poorly handled. The greater community saw the elites being hand-picked and given special privileges. This exacerbated a rift between the "YouTube stars" and the "regular YouTubers".

YouTube began to market itself as a reach for stardom, rather than a community. It misappropriated the terms "YouTuber" and "YouTube Community" to refer to the totality of uploaders, rather than the community of people who participated in interacting with each other, who had coined those terms in the first place. A new wave of people began to join YouTube with the aspirations of online celebrity status, and YouTube partnership, and being like their online celebrity heroes.

By 2008, there was a well-established rift. At one point, YouTube came up with a feature called "premium most viewed" in which partner's videos would show up first in search results, and be identified by a red triangle in the corner of the thumbnail, making them stand out from other videos. This was met with much resentment from the community.

A lot of people in the old community saw YouTube Live as the death-nell of the community, and of our new media revolution. Well, actually, a lot of things have been met with claims of being the death-nell of the YouTube Community. But YouTube Live, in a lot of ways, did in fact signify the end of the first era. At that time, a lot of my associates disappeared from YouTube. I would have to rebuild my network of associates, later. Renetto, once YouTube's strongest evangelist, became YouTube's biggest critic.

YouTube Live was intended to "mainstreamize" YouTube's content. Despite being a flop, I'd say it was successful. In the same way, the Apple Newton is seen as a flop, but it lead to the marketing of PDA devices, which lead to the marketing of the iPhone. Ultimately, the Newton was a success. While YouTube Live was a flop, it opened the door to the mainstream public, changing the face of YouTube.

While this change was a disappointment to the first era YouTubers, the new star-driven approach fueled the success of YouTube. We had our fun for a while, but it's the nature of things to change. This is an inevitability, and it's in one's own best interest to keep moving forward. We can't stop change any more than a corporation can reproduce the old YouTube Community. What if Google hadn't bought YouTube? What if there never was an exacerbation of the the rift between YouTubers? Do you think the YouTube community would still be the same in 2018 as it was in the old days? My guess is, we'd be saying, "remember when YouTube was popular in the 2000s?" We'd have all moved on to other things in our own time. But, we'll always have the memories of YouTube's golden age.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Moving Forward

So, you may have noticed that the year has come and pretty much gone without a single J-Dubb's Theatre video. The fact is, I have other obligations, and J-Dubb's videos have had to step aside. This is something I've seen coming for the past few years, but change can be difficult, and I delayed it for as long as I could. On the other hand, J-Dubb's Theatre is not ending, as I plan to post to this blog more frequently. I just don't have the time to make videos these days.

When I started making videos, it was a fun hobby. I was a blogger, studying graphic design, and I thought it would be fun to extend my blog into the YouTube world. I developed the ambition to become one of the top YouTubers, and collaborate with the other top YouTubers. Eventually, YouTube videos took precedence, and blogging dwindled.

Over the years, with the partnership program, and trips to Vidcon, YouTube grew from a hobby to an entrepreneurial endeavor. Much like Phillip DeFranco, I wanted to expand J-Dubb's Theatre from a YouTube channel, to an enterprise. I worked a part time job, while struggling to gain traction in the YouTube world.

Time went by, and my future was uncertain. I was tenacious, and didn't want to give up. I read "Think and Grow Rich", and saw YouTube as the modern equivalent of the radio enterprise which was burgeoning at the time the book was written. I didn't want to be the gold miner who gave up, just to have someone else find that I was mere inches from striking gold. But, I was afraid of going nowhere in life. So, my ambition became split, between, "keep pursuing your passion", and "put your effort into something stable". I just didn't know where I should put my efforts, and I went back and forth in committing to things.

Gradually, me and YouTube began to grow in separate directions.YouTube began to feel like busy work. And the YouTube environment just wasn't what I had originally signed on for. I didn't recognize it anymore. Ironically, as I felt myself "jumping the shark", My subscriber count began to grow faster than it ever had, something which made it difficult to step away. After all these years, my channel was finally growing, but I just didn't have the YouTube juice in me anymore.

Earlier this year, it came time to commit to something. When YouTube ended my partnership, I decided to let that be the deathnell, and I finally made the decision to walk away. While I maintain my entrepreneurial spirit, I've shifted my focus, and for the first time in years, I'm experiencing progress in life. I toyed with the idea of coming up with a finale. I would've had the J-Dubbles move on with their lives. I even had a tear-jerker in mind, in which one of the J-Dubbles dies. (Maybe you're glad that idea didn't pan out.) I was  going to conclude things with the return of Belphegor. There would be another tear-jerker, where I take Spenser to a new home, while I go off to deal with Belphegor. At some point, my house blows up, and furniture is strewn all over the place. The Time Traveling wristband comes into play somewhere, too. The series ends with the conclusion of J-Dubb's Theatre videos.

Well, I didn't really have the time to do anything like that, but the last video I uploaded, a montage of ten years of videos, turned out to be pretty fitting as a conclusion to my channel, even though I hadn't planned it that way.

Will J-Dubb's Theatre videos return, someday? Who knows. But at the moment, it's time to say adieu. I'll see you around the blog.



Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Last Jedi Is The Anti Empire Strikes Back



With The Force Awakens, probably the main talking point, was that the movie was a "rehashing" of A New Hope. This has been stated both as a positive and as a criticism. It seemed that a lot of people, upon watching it in the theater for the first time, felt that the movie "brought back Star Wars" after the deviation they felt from the prequels. Criticisms, however, were that Force Awakens was merely a clone of A New Hope, with no original story. Either way, it seems that the goal of Force Awakens, was to "reawaken" Star Wars, by giving the audience something familiar, which may or may not have been over-done.

With The Last Jedi, on the other hand, the main talking point is, "did it feel like Star Wars?" In fact, discussions of this movie seem to present a duality between "was it a good movie" vs. "was it a good Star Wars movie". This would not be a question if there were not some element that felt different from one's expectations of what a Star Wars movie feels like, which provoked fans to ponder and decide whether these deviations were reconcilable to their experience of the movie. However, similarly to The Force Awakens, there is also the criticism that it "rehashes" The Empire Strikes Back. The movie seems to be simultaneously criticized as "too different" from Star Wars, yet, "too similar" to Empire Strikes Back.

I see The Last Jedi as essentially a "rejection", so to speak, of The Empire Strikes Back. When it comes down to it, it seems that the goal of The Last Jedi is the opposite of The Force Awakens. Where The Force Awakens intended to draw us back into the Star Wars universe by invoking familiar "Star Warsey" feelings, The Last Jedi set the stage to expand the Star Wars universe beyond the familiar. (It's a big galaxy, after all.) It did this by essentially "rejecting" The Empire Strikes Back.

In the beginning of the movie, we have the template set up for The Empire Strikes Back to happen all over again. We have the new Empire and the new rebellion, the new Emperor and the new Darth Vader, the new Luke heading off to train with the new Yoda, the new betrayal of the rebels, and the new battle of Hoth. Only, in each of these instances, the movie takes an unexpected deviation, swerving the series away from the direction of the original trilogy.

Right off the bat, this premise is exemplified when Luke rejects the light saber, symbolically rejecting the role of "Yoda 2". Of course, Yoda had apprehensions toward training Luke in the beginning, but not with such a symbolic gesture of rejection towards everything he once was. Next, we have Snoke criticizing Kylo Ren's mask, which seems to be garbling his voice exaggeratedly from the first movie. This is followed by Kylo destroying the mask in a fit of rage, symbolically rejecting his likeness to Darth Vader.

With Leia in a coma, General Holdo takes command of the rebellion. General Holdo essentially seems to betray the rebels, whether through corruption or ineptitude, much as Lando betrayed the rebels in Empire. It's now up to Poe and his cronies to fight back. We believe that they are standing up against the betrayer, up until the scene where awakened Leia enters the room in which Poe has barricaded himself. We are expecting Leia to congratulate Poe, and join him, after all, why would the movie take us through this if we were not watching the good guys standing up to the bad guys? Poe seems to expect this as well, right up until Leia shoots him. We then find out that Holdo was not in fact the betrayer of the rebels, and Poe was not the good guy struggling with the bad guy. The rebels proceed as Holdo had planned, with Poe's mutiny acting as a mere hiccup.

Luke states the idea that, rather than reinstating the Jedi, it's time to move on and let the Jedi die. This sets the story up for a change of mind, but still sets a tone of "moving on". Later, Yoda burns down the tree. Even though we find out that the texts had been saved, this symbolizes a moving on from the old ways. (The texts move from the old temple into the possession of the new force user.)

Rey and Kylo reject the adversarial "Luke and Darth Vader, dynamic", as they form a bond, and eventually team up against Snoke. Then, finally, Kylo kills Snoke, and assumes control of the First Order, smashing to pieces the "Emperor/ Vader dynamic" which defined the original series. The Emperor runs things and Darth Vader is subservient. By killing Snoke, Kylo eradicates both the Emperor and Darth Vader, and becomes something entirely new. He even suggests to Rey that they team up to create something different, that is neither the Empire nor the Republic.

Rey and Kylo themselves are shown to be something new that has never been seen before. In the previous movie, Rey demonstrates an uncanny adeptness with the force, surpassing even Anakin. Yet, as Kylo reveals in Last Jedi, she is not linked to any of these institutions which precede her. She is something new which has appeared. Similarly, in the previous movie, Snoke refers to Kylo as representing a new power which embodies both the dark and the light. In Last Jedi, Luke states that he feels the same energy from Rey as he did from Kylo. It is unfamiliar, and it scares him to the point that he considered killing Kylo. The two of them team up and essentially end up smashing the premise of the original series.

Then, we have the final battle. To me, this battle seems to symbolically sum up the movie's rejection of the Empire Strikes Back template. Arguably the most iconic scene in Empire, is the battle of Hoth. The Empire Strikes Back begins with the battle of Hoth, and The Last Jedi ends with the battle of Hoth. In both battles, the rebels have been cornered within a facility on an ice planet, by the Empire, and must face down Imperial Walkers. Only, it is revealed that in The Last Jedi, it is not actually an ice planet. It is merely a thin dusting of salt covering a red mineral surface. The movie takes care to point this out to us, even though it doesn't play a part in the plot. Since it is not a direct part of the plot, yet is deliberately pointed out in the narrative, it is likely symbolic, showing that this is only superficially a rehashing of Hoth. Under the surface, there is something else to be revealed. By the end of the battle, most of the salt covering has been blown away, revealing just the red planetary surface, as if Hoth itself had been blown away, and replaced with something new.

In the end, Luke, the protagonist of the original series, fades away, taking the old series with him.

It seems to me that the ambiguity as to whether The Last Jedi "feels like Star Wars" was a deliberate mechanism to move us beyond the confines of the original series. Whereas The Force Awakens was all about reentering the Star Wars universe by re-purposing the original template, The Last Jedi was all about moving beyond the familiar, into yet unknown areas of the universe, by rehashing the familiar template, and deliberately veering in a different direction.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Don Polinski: Where Is He Now?

Who is Don Polinski? This mystery man made his way into an old blog post, years ago.  But, I have no idea who he is. For 12 years, he's been an enigma. He's been known by his name, and this one image. How did this unknown person show up in my blog, and who is he?

In the old days, on this blog, I used to feature a Superstar of the Week. This was something I had done ever since day two of this blog, and continued on and off, usually in the Summer. This continued up until sometime in 2010, about a year before this blog ceased to be active. It was essentially a gag. I would think of someone random, usually a celebrity or historical figure, sometimes a fictional character or a cartoon. I've even chosen Muppets, a Mii made to look like Jack Black, and a Kenmore washer and drier set. It was essentially just a picture of said person or entity, with the title reading "Superstar of the Week is..." Sometime in 2009, I expanded Superstar of the Week into being a full article.

At one point, towards the beginning of this blog, I decided to think of a random name off the top of my head, and Google it. Or, "Yahoo search" it, according to that particular post. I guess this was back when I was still using Yahoo instead of Google. The name I randomly thought of, was "Don Polinski". Why the name that popped into my head was "Don" in combination with the last name "Polinski", I have no idea, but I put the name into Yahoo search, and came up with the picture at the top of the page. Thus, this man became the Superstar of the Week for December 19, 2005.

Occasionally, I would make a reference to Don Polinski in my blog posts. I could have sworn that Don Polinski had made an encore appearance as Superstar of the Week at some point, but I just went through my entire blog history, and found no evidence of that. (Don Polinski never found his way into my videos, however). At one point, I found that an anonymous commentor had commented, "Ok, well this is too funny b/c the Superstar of this week is my dad! (literally)".

But, who is Don Polinski? This image originally came from a park services website in Canada. Several years ago, while reminiscing through old blog posts, I decided, out of curiosity, to Google "Don Polinski", again, and see what came up. The only image that came up for Don Polinski, was from my blog post. The site from which the image had originated, no longer showed up. There were, however, some obituaries which lead me to believe that poor Don had passed on.

Towards the end of this past year, I found myself once again reminiscing through old blog posts. I decided, out of curiosity, to Google "Don Polinski" again, and see if anything new came up. Once again, the first image in the search that was relevant to Don Polinski, was from my blog post. But, this time, I also found this image:
 This image, from an article, posted in October 2016, is relatively new. I scrutinized it a bit to determine whether the older gentleman in the picture was the same man from the image above. He does seem to have the same features, but he looks quite a bit older than the original image. This article was posted about 11 years after my Superstar of the Week post. And, who knows how long ago the image from my Superstar of the Week post had been taken prior to finding its way to my blog. Yes, there's been quite a bit of time in between. It looks like the obituary had reguarded a different Don Polinski. Our Don Polinski is alive and winning awards!

According to the article, the image depicts the Alberta Recreation and Parks Association being presented with the 2016 Parks Excellence Award. This image lead me to another article featuring Don Polinski's team winning an award, the previous year. For the past 12 years, Don Polinski has been sort of a mystery man who had arbitrarily made his way into an old blog post. I find myself feeling glad to see this complete stranger alive, smiling, and holding an award, a sign that he's been successful in his endeavor. Whoever he is, I hope life is treating him well.





Sunday, December 31, 2017

2007 to 2017

Last  year, for the new  year, I wrote about the year 2006, 10 years prior, and how it was a vital year for J-Dubb's Theatre. I had just started this blog in October of 2005. After having some fun, those first couple months, the blog slowly began to slide into becoming one of those blogs that is abandoned and forgotten, shortly after having started. It was in 2006, that J-Dubb's Theatre got it's second wind, which would propel it to the next stage.

While 2006 was important to the longevity of the blog, 2007 was even more important, as this was the year that J-Dubb's Theatre took on its best known form. In February of that year, I began posting videos to YouTube, as an extension of this blog. In the ensuing years, the J-Dubb's Theatre YouTube channel became dominant over the blog, and videos became primary over blog posts. In 2005 -2007, J-Dubb's Theatre was a blog. In 2007, it became a blog with videos. After that, it gradually evolved to being a YouTube channel with a blog, and after several years running, the blog itself would cease... for the most part (with a few exceptions, such as this blog post). 

Over the last ten years, my videos have had many viewers, and I've made friends and associates through YouTube. Most people who have heard of J-Dubb's Theatre, think of videos. Most of them don't even know that there ever was a blog, and those few who did read this old blog, still associate J-Dubb's Theatre with YouTube videos, rather than the blog from which those videos began. Having the word "Theatre" in the name makes sense for a video production entity, but when I named this blog "J-Dubb's Theatre", I had no idea that I would be making videos, and that the blog's namesake would carry over to those videos. I came up with that name as a spin on the name "Masterpiece Theatre". 

In 2007, the "YouTube Community" became a prominent topic for J-Dubb's Theatre, as well as memes and general Web stuff. 

 
 Scene from the first major YouTuber collab video, "LisaNova Does YouTube", uploaded July 10, 2007

The pipe, which I had in the blog's title banner image, became a prop which I included in every video. Later on, I would introduce each video by removing the pipe from my mouth, and saying, "J-Dubb Here". 

 Also, the J-Dubb's Theatre tune was developed in 2007. When I first began uploading videos, I used background music from a site called "Freeplay Music". I began to regard a song called "Shopping Spree" as the "J-Dubb's Theatre theme".  I then composed a tune based off of Shopping Spree, for a series called "The Network". This series started, that Summer, with a series of videos which involved me interacting with the YouTube world. This series was one of the most memorable parts of 2007.

LisaNova uploaded a collab video called "LisaNova Does YouTube", which involved YouTuber, LisaNova, kidnapping several other prominent YouTubers. I remember, when I watched her video, how cool it was to me, to see all these familiar faces from YouTube in a video together. This was a first for the fledgling YouTube. I started daydreaming about myself being in that video, having my pipe and saying that recognizable line, "J-Dubb here". Then, the naysayer voice in my head reminded me that nobody would actually recognize that line, or know who I was, because I wasn't famous like these guys. 

So, I came up with the idea to do a response video, placing myself behind the scenes of "LisaNova Does YouTube", where nobody knows who I am. I would then wonder around, crossing paths with YouTubers who don't know who I am. I was going to call this video "J-Dubb Who?" I got the idea to buy a ski mask, and play the "Insult Alien", a YouTube troll from the old days. At this time, I was watching the Lonelygirl15 series, which involved a group of fictional Vloggers, trying to evade a secret society called "the Order". So I decided, at the end of the video" I would get kidnapped by the Order, and my next videos would detail my escape.

It didn't quite work out this way. For one, I couldn't find a ski mask in July. For another, my video idea was just too long, so I cut the premise down to being just a spin-off of LisaNova does YouTube, and eschew the involvement of other YouTubers who weren't in the video. I changed the name to "J-Dubb Does LisaNova Does YouTube".  I did, however, include an Easter Egg after the credits, which led to the following video, in which I get abducted by The Order. 

The Lonelygirl15 series had a whole community of people who did their own spinoff videos, so I decided to do my own. This video, filmed as a collection of surveillance camera footage, detailed my capture by, and escape from, The Order. I posted the video to my blog, under the pretense that The Order had hacked my blog and posted it. I then posted a series in which "the resistance" had taken control of my blog, and were updating the viewer on the search efforts for me. 

My next few videos were originally intended to detail my efforts to evade The Order, but, I decided I didn't want J-Dubb's Theatre to become a Lonelygirl15 fanfic channel, so I took things in a different direction. I came up with an idea to introduce a new antagonist. I had watched videos talking about YouTube as the new competition to the television Networks, as well as discussing the "New Media" as a mutual participant enterprise, as opposed to traditional media, which involves the viewer as a passive entity. I liked this idea. The Networks had cancelled shows like "Firefly" and "Farscape" while in their prime, and left "John Doe" on a cliffhanger forever. In new media, it's the creator who decides what to air, and not some network. I liked the idea of YouTube as the champion over the television networks.

My new antagonist was a secret society who was a rival to The Order, known as "The Network", in that they controlled society by owning and controlling the television Networks. The Network exercised power and control which The Order wished to take. My continuation, called "The Network", which I split into two parts, began with my being pursued by "The Order", followed by the mysterious disappearance of my pursuers. I am rescued by the Insult Alien, whom I had originally intended to be a part of J-Dubb Does LisaNova Does YouTube. As the Insult Alien begins to disappear, he explains that The Network is causing YouTubers to disappear. He is then replaced by The Cuddle Alien. 

After I return home, I go to YouTube to find that YouTubers are disappearing and being replaced... including myself. As I disappear, I find myself in an ethereal plane confronted by a being known as "The Executive" (later revealed to be named Belphegore) who looks like my friend, Jon. (In a later installment of the series, it is revealed that Belphegore merely took on the image of Jon, clearing up the confusion as to why one of the disappearing YouTubers, also played by Jon, looked like Belphegore.) The Executive was having trouble getting me to disappear, due to what The Order had done to me, and I end up defeating him... for the time being.

Originally, I considered J-Dubb Does LisaNova Does YouTube, Unsecure Transmission, and The Network, to be a series involving my adventures in YouTube land. After continuing the Network, later on, I decided that LisaNova Does YouTube was irrelevant to The Network Series. 

For The Network, I composed two tunes based on Shopping Spree. When I finally returned home, and sat in the familiar chair from my older videos, a piccolo  version of the tune plays. Later on, when I pick up the J-Dubb's Theatre pipe, and place it in my mouth, a mute trumpet version of the tune plays over a "hero shot" of myself. After The Network, I began to intro my videos more and more frequently with those two versions of that tune, until they became the standard intro for my videos. I stopped using Shopping Spree after 2008, for licensing reasons, but the tune I created from it has become synonymous with J-Dubb's Theatre. In fact, people associate the tune with the pipe.

So, 2007 was an important year for J-Dubb's Theatre. In that year, J-Dubb's Theatre took on the form by which it would be known. Just like Nintendo, a card game company, deciding to make video games, and Hasbro, a hardware company, deciding to make toys, In 2007, J-Dubb's Theatre, a blog, began producing YouTube videos.


Monday, October 23, 2017

Farewell Photobucket



This past Summer, I got a bug in me to start writing on my old, sparsely used, blog, again. I had a couple of posts I wanted to write. But, when I got to my blog, I found that my title image had been replaced, as shown above. Also, the green pipe logo which I used to have to the left of every blog post title, had been replaced by a translucent rectangle which covered the title, as shown below.


Of course, since each day of my life consists of an infinite amount of time, it was no problem to figure out how to fix this, and then proceed to writing the intended blog posts...  oh, wait, that's not how it worked.

So, I decided I would figure out how to fix my blog, and then I would go about writing up those blog posts which I had in mind. My title image, and the green pipe image, had been hosted by Photobucket for over a decade. Apparently, what happened was, Photobucket had decided to only allow image hosting to people who were willing to pay 400 dollars per year for a premium account. I went to access my CSS code, in Blogger, so that I could remove the broken links, which were taking up space on my blog, but couldn't find the code with the embedded images, anywhere. Over the years, since I originally designed my blog, Blogger has made some changes to its design interface. There is now more of a non-coder friendly design tool. But, it seems, I no longer have access to edit the full code, in which I had embedded those Photobucket images.

One person recommended deleting my Photobucket account. I was more than happy to delete an account that had become progressively less user friendly, and was now taking up my time to figure out how to fix my blog. But then, I realized that there was nostalgia in my "Bucket". In fact, my Photobucket account parallels the history of J-Dubb's Theatre. I began my account in late 2005, so that I could post images on a forum in which I had begun to spend a lot of time. There are inside jokes galore, from years past in my "Bucket". It was on this forum, that I revived my old Air Force nickname, "J-Dubb", and began using it as a handle around the Internet. Maybe a month or so, after becoming involved in this forum, I started my blog, which I named "J-Dubb's Blog", and shortly after changed to "J-Dubb's Theatre".

In 2006, I used my Photobucket account to host the original J-Dubb's Theatre banner image at the top of my blog. I then used it to host the little pipe icon, which replaced the arrow icon that originally precluded the title of each blog post. Sometimes images, for whatever reason, wouldn't load into a blog post through Blogger, so I'd host them on Photobucket. Eventually, I changed to my current title banner image, hosting that on Photobucket, as well.

In 2008, I began taking pictures of a certain tree once a month. I uploaded these pictures to Photobucket, and used a slideshow tool to show the month by month progression of this scene.

Also, in 2008, I used Photobucket to post images on another forum, whose sole purpose was to be "anti" the previous forum. In 2010, I began using Photobucket to upload pictures taken by my friends and myself, of a little plastic alien. In the smartphone era, I downloaded the Photobucket app. In the beginning, Photobucket was the easiest way to transfer an image from my computer on to my phone.

By this Summer, however, I no longer really had a use for Photobucket. I haven't used forums for a long time. Photobucket had removed the slideshow feature, which I used to make slideshows of the monthly tree picture, and I had been using Sony Vegas for this for the past several years. Pictures had been gradually disappearing from my albums. It got to a point where the website was so laggy from all the advertising, it was virtually unusable. And I no longer needed it to transfer images to my phone, as I could now download them from email.

So, I decided to transfer my "Bucket" to Google Photos, and delete my Photobucket account. This turned out to be a tedious process. I had to download my pictures one at a time, as Photobucket's bulk downloader doesn't work. Upon uploading my images to Google Photos, I decided to change the date of each one to the date in which I had uploaded it to Photobucket, and saved them in an album titled, "My Bucket". I then went to "my account" to delete my Photobucket account and see if it would fix my blog...   buuuuut, of course it wasn't that simple. Instead of immediately deleting my account, there was a three day wait with an "undo" option, which I would have to wait through to see if my blog had been fixed. All I wanted was to simply write up a blog post while taking a quick break from the things I needed to do, and had found a several days project thrust upon me.

After the fourth day of my three day wait, my account finally made its way into oblivion. But, of course, this didn't fix my blog. My Photobucket account had been deleted, but the broken image links were still in the code, and still showed up as image placeholders on my blog. I was able to replace my title image using Blogger's current layout design function, but could not access the code to remove the broken images. Of course, the next step would have been to contact Blogger, but... who got time for this? I had already wasted too much time, and had other things to do. So I left it aside. I'm just now getting around to writing about this, even though my blog isn't completely fixed yet.

Years worth of blogs, forums, and websites are now littered with broken Photobucket images. Photobucket has been accused of extortion, and even blackmail. Now, there's a point where Photobucket is probably between a rock and a hard place: on the one hand, as they become less relevant, they need to find new ways to increase their revenue. On the other hand, being less relevant, people are more likely to dump them, than pay for their services...  let alone, 400 dollars a year!!

And so, it's time, after all these years, to say "audios" to Photobucket.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2006 to 2016



 2016 is now coming to an end. But, instead of reflecting on the past year, I'm going to reflect on where I was 10 years ago. 2006 was a formative year for J-Dubb'sTheatre. I would often browse through blogs. Many times, I would come across blogs which had been started, had a good run for about a week, or maybe a few months, only to be abandoned by the author, and hang in limbo forever, as the author went about their lives forgetting that they had once started a blog. Then, I would find blogs which had been active for years. 2006 is the year that made the difference between J-Dubbs Theatre dying and hanging in limbo, or living on to grow into a video series which would gain an audience and make new friends and acquaintances for myself.

In October of 2005, I began this blog. All I knew was that I wanted a website, either to talk about self improvement, spirituality, or just humor and entertainment. I ended up starting a blog on blogger. When I began, I wrote snarky humor in the tone of a DJ named Tim Savage.  I also included weekly pictures of arbitrary famous people and animals as the "Superstar of the Week" and "Animal of the Week" just as a random humor bit.

I had fun blogging almost daily in the first month. But then, the blog dwindled. Into the next year, I stopped doing Superstar of the Week, and for the most part, the only reason the blog was used, was for updates on a web comic I was publishing. By April, I had stopped posting all together. That was the point where the blog almost died and became a limbo blog. But, I didn't want it to become a limbo blog.

In July, I did something which would shape the face of J-Dubb's Theatre from then on out. "J-Dubb's Theatre" was sort of an ironic name. It was a parody of sophistication when, in the beginning, it was more about collegian level humor. I took the joke the next step. I made a "sophisticated" image of myself, with a pipe and a leather-bound book. I Photoshopped the picture of myself into a leather chair, which I then Photoshopped into a room with a fireplace. I then edited the "Masterpiece Theatre" logo, to say "J-Dubb's Theatre". I turned this into a banner for the header of the blog. I uploaded a post discussing the new banner. It's because of this banner that I eventually made a pipe logo for the blog. It's because of the pipe logo that my videos begin and end with a pipe. At this moment, J-Dubb's Theatre began to take a recognizable shape.
http://www.j-dubbstheater.com/2006/07/new-banner-making-of.html

 After this, J-Dubb's Theatre gained a second wind. I began posting regularly again. At this point, it had a slightly different feel than it did in the beginning. I was no longer trying to emulate Tim Savage. Nor, did I see my content as anti-sophistication humor. I had fun writing posts, some of which were written in a list of images format, which Buzzfeed totally copied from me. I also brought back Superstar of the Week, and created "J-Dubb's Moral of the Week". It was this year in which I developed the tone of this blog.

It was also this year in which I became acquainted with YouTube. I was introduced to The WineKone, Barats and Beretta, and Smosh. Eventually, I began toying with the idea of expanding J-Dubb's Theatre into a video series.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Dawson Creek Park

Since last year, I've been reflecting a lot on "what was I doing ten years ago." While looking at old blog posts from 2006, on this old blog which I use about once a year, anymore, something occurred to me. As of this past August, it's been ten years since I first visited Dawson Creek Park. Over the years, it's a place where I have gone frequently to walk, or reflect, and a majority of my photography has come from there. I have a lot of history with that park.

When I first moved into the area, I would drive by this park on the way to work. I had heard it was a wetlands area, and had walking trails. The little bit I could see from the road looked nice. I had always meant to stop there sometime, and look around. The apartment I lived in previously, had a nice lake area behind it, with a walking path. This lake, like Dawson Creek, also served as a habitat to migrating Canada Geese. (I just found out a few months ago that the lake has been totally destroyed. But that's another story.) I thought Dawson Creek could make a nice replacement for that lake. It took a couple years for me to finally do it, though.


 There was a vacant building next to the park. My dad used to muse that he would like to live in it. After a while, however, his dreams were shattered, when it became the Hillsboro Public Library.

In 2006, I was taking Summer classes, and experiencing a lot of anxiety. A couple of times, I had begun to drive to my Statistics class, when the anxiety would build up. So I ended up detouring, and taking a drive, rather than going to class. One day, amidst one of these drives, I decided to finally visit Dawson Creek. Seeing it for the first time, I thought it was the most beautiful thing. There were lakes surrounded by reeds, and teeming with water foul. There were walkways lined with trees, and wooden footbridges, and tunnels. There was a marshy area, covered with lily pads, and a fountain area behind the building that would become the library. Dawson Creek became a regular place for me to go to unwind, or clear my head.

Shortly after, I brought this little "spy cam" to the park, which I had ordered from a Jonson and Smith novelty magazine for five dollars. It was my first digital camera, a tiny thing, with a little viewfinder, which also functioned as my first webcam. I took my first pictures of this park. Anyone who follows me on Facebook today, knows that this is my most common place to take pictures now.

 In 2007, I began uploading videos to my YouTube channel. This park became a common place for me to film outdoor scenes.


In 2008, I took pictures at Dawson Creek with a camera phone for the first time. My friend, Jon, had been given an iPhone, whose phone function was broken, but it still had internet access, and he was still able to text images. He enjoyed taking pictures with it and sending them to his friends. Around that time, I upgraded from a flip phone with a pullout antenna, to a new slider phone. This was my first phone with a camera, and so I joined Jon, and began taking pictures and texting them. One day, as I was taking a walk around the park, I decided to text pictures of my walk. This began a tradition of taking pictures on my phone while at the park.


One of these pictures became a scene, which I have taken a picture of once a month for the past eight years. At the end of each year, I make a slideshow.
 

After finishing school, I freelanced as a web designer for a couple years while looking for a full time job. Dawson Creek became a place to go, just to have a place to go, and get out of the house during the day. Sometimes I would  go in the mornings, when the park was inhabited by cheerful retired people who would greet passersby, and stay at home moms pushing strollers. Or, I would go later, when people were starting to get off work, and would look at you funny if you tried to greet them like the morning crowd. I typically avoided lunch time, because the place where I liked to park was often full during that time. When it rained, the park was braved by just a few slicker-wearing people.

There have been changes over the span of the decade. Trees have been taken down, or knocked down by storms. Small trees have grown larger. And new trees have been planted. The fauna has changed, for instance, there was a pair of African geese in 2008, that had appeared there, lived there for a while, and then disappeared. And now, there's a muscovy who appears every now and then.

In 2008, one day, I noticed that all the foot bridges were fenced up. After months, towards the end of the year, work crews finally came out to tear down the old bridges and build up new ones. When the new bridges seemed to be finished, there was a snow storm. This seemed to delay whatever the final finishing of the bridges actually was, before opening them up. I couldn't find any information on what was going on with the bridges. I took some pictures to blog about it, but before I could write the post, the fences were suddenly down.


The old bridges had metal railings, but the new one's have wood railings.


Now, the "new" bridges are aged and graying.


In 2012, I posted pictures from Dawson Creek to Instagram for the first time.


In the beginning of 2014, I began taking Spenser there for walks.


One day in 2014, I was walking across a footbridge, which had a tunnel of trees surrounding it. A large branch cracked and fell in front of my face.


Shortly after, the tree which provided the majority of the tunnel effect was taken down. Now, it's more of a tree arch.


It was kind of disappointing to lose the tree-covered bridge effect.


 Now Days, I enjoy going there with Chau-Anh. Over the years, I've rarely ever gone there with someone else; only a few times. It was sort of, my personal time. It was a time to reflect on things. Now, I enjoy bringing her into something which has been a personal part of my life throughout the last ten years.


To visit my Instagram page, go to https://www.instagram.com/jdubbstheatre/