Watching & Writing & Excitement – ScreenPrism.com

Everyone loves to discuss things they watch. It’s the reason you hear so much chatter when leaving a movie theater. It’s the reason shows like Talking Dead have become so successful. People like to gather input and interpretations from others. They like to share and discuss and build upon their own analyses.

But when it comes to the internet, there’s no real great place to do that. You can go to different websites to find analytical articles about different films, or you can find a discussion board in a public forum. You can try Reddit or the IMDB discussion pages, but more often than not, discussions of film and television turn into annoying, hate-filled bouts of namecalling between trolls.  There is no one central authority for interpretation and discussion when it comes to film and TV – until now.

The fine folks over at ScreenPrism have spent the last year developing a website dedicated to quality, digestible analysis of film and television.

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The idea: You watch something and have some questions about it, didn’t quite understand something, or just want to read more. Maybe there’s a theme or a plot point you didn’t quite get. Maybe you somewhat understood the symbolism of something, but wanted to get another person’s interpretation. That’s what ScreenPrism is about. Most importantly, it addresses these types of questions in a way people can understand, not in a boring classroom film theory-type of way.

I’m honored to say that as of May, I joined the ScreenPrism writing staff.  In the seven weeks since, I have already written over 200 articles for the site. I’ve covered television like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul, and True Detective. I’ve looked at newer movies like Bessie, Horns, The Gambler, Jupiter Ascending, and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. I’ve examined documentaries like Last Hijack and Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, older films like Run Lola Run and Leon The Professional, and classics like The Sound of Music, Rear Window, and The Seventh Seal.

You can visit my contributor page here. While it doesn’t like you to every one of my articles, it lets you see the most recent 100 or so. I haven’t actually counted how many it shows.

The site is still very new, so most of the focus is on currently-airing television shows and recent release movies. Eventually we do want to create a full backlog of everything people could search for, but current productions and the classics come first.

I’m pretty excited about the site and its potential. It was developed by a really great crew that knows a lot about film, so I’m pretty honored to be brought into their fold.  Most importantly, I hope you will go check the site out and enjoy!

I’m Roughly a Million Dollars Shy of Being a Millionaire

When we were about 16, my friend Randy and I decided we’d both be millionaires by the time we were 30. How we were going to achieve this, we had no idea. We thought maybe we’d co-write a screenplay and go the Affleck & Damon route. Maybe we’d invent something that would catch on and explode. Or maybe we’d both just become super successful at our chosen fields and be the most in-demand people in the world. The “how” didn’t matter. We were at a lunch table hovering over high school cafeteria chicken nuggets, hopped up on the recent release of Grand Theft Auto III, certain of ourselves in the way only teenagers ever are.

Well, he’s been 30 for six months, and I’ll be 30 in July. As it stands, and I can speak for both of us on this – I’m roughly a million dollars shy of being a millionaire.

But that doesn’t matter. I’ve had a pretty interesting 14 years since Randy and I had those teenage delusions of grandeur, thinking we’d soon rule the world.

College came and went – a time in which I broke out of my relatively reserved personality to emerge a student leader who was involved with everything. Then, the jobs started – a process which has largely put me back into my shell, but the variety of which has rewarded me with a range of pretty random experiences.

Decades ago they used to say the average person changed jobs seven times in their life. Now, that sounds like a pipe dream.

Fresh off of graduation, I worked for a two-man startup trying to simultaneously launch three super-niche social networking websites. I think everyone ran out of money (and drive) before any of the sites could take off, and I was let go. The hurt was quickly quelled when the next opportunity presented itself almost right away – another two-man startup, this one for indoor cycling DVDs that simulated riding outside. I got a look at small business development in action, which I suppose was important to witness, but it also led to six months of employment before funds ran out and I was let go again. That business is still operating, at least, but it had to get there without the continued help of me and another fellow.

I followed that gig with a few months at a laser show production company doing PR and copywriting, while also flying around the country to assist with laser shows. That type of work is fun and exciting for a single guy, but I was getting married that year and it didn’t work with my lifestyle, so I left that one voluntarily. Then came furniture sales (we won’t even talk about that), followed by bitchwork for an online retailer, then 2.5 years of proofreading national ads and tabs for Dick’s Sporting Goods, and finally working with the previously-mentioned online retailer to manage a couple multimillion-dollar international retail accounts. Oh, and I was freelance writing and doing web design that whole time on the side.

So yeah… leaving out the freelancing, I’ve already filled my quota of 7 jobs. Except it wasn’t a lifetime. It was 2008-2014. Now as Vice President of Affordable Vet, I’m on job number 8. I’d like to make this one last.

One thing having all those jobs taught me was what I enjoy, and what I don’t. What I care about, and what doesn’t interest me. And that lets me realize Affordable Vet is something I love working on, and which I really, really care about.

Lots of other non-job stuff happened, too, since the days when Randy and I proclaimed our financial ambitions and The Backstreet Boys were occupying most of the radio airplay. I got married. I bought a house. I’ve had 5 different cars. I had kids. (Expensive kids – both in their creation and their upkeep.)

All of that worked directly against becoming a millionaire. It’s also all pretty great.

Back when we were 16, we thought success was directly proportional to how rich you ended up being. Maybe that was a product of growing up in an upper class suburb where most people’s families didn’t show too much evidence of financial concern. Maybe it was just teenage shortsightedness.  Regardless, it’s a thing that goes away around the time you’re in college. And once you move past that, it’s a distant flicker.

Obviously a lot of things in life would be massively easier if we had both become millionaires by 30, but it wouldn’t make us more enriched. Everything going on in my daily life is far more satisfying than a fat bank, and worth far more than being a 30 year-old millionaire.

And hey, we can always shoot for 40.

Second Life Experience

If you Google “Second Life experience,” you’ll find two types of results:

1. Suggestions on how to best experience your time in Second Life (or SL, as users call it). This will include an array of websites and conversations about a fictional world written by people discussing it as if it were a completely real, tangible, everyday existence. It’s both fascinating and somewhat curious.

2. People talking about their time in SL – mostly, how it ruined some part of their life or existence. I find these types of stories worthwhile, but often a misdirected blame.

If you are unfamiliar, as most people are, Second Life is a virtual world entirely created and driven by its users. You can do anything, create anything, be anyone. Want to be nothing more than a digital representation of your everyday self? You can do that. Want to be a walking, talking slice of apple pie that lives in a 200 foot tall purple penis made of cheese? You can do that, too. It’s that type of freedom that allows Second Life to be a completely unique experience, and also lead to an examination of the worst and strangest parts of human behavior.

Many people see the world as an open appraisal of creative freedom, where you can find out more about a person than they’re free to share in real life. With no societal constraints, the way people act in SL is often a more genuine representation of the human behind the avatar than that person projects in reality.

Many others just see the world as a playground for perverts, pedophiles, rapists and murderers to live out sick fantasies they couldn’t get away with in life. That, or a world which can become such a compulsion, such an addiction, that it consumes a person’s entire real life and ruins their relationships with people. All are true for some, but in my 8+ years of experience with the virtual world, I’d have to argue there’s far more merit in the former.

From 2006-2008, SL was a huge part of my daily routine. I ran multiple businesses that brought in several thousand real-world dollars per month, was relied on by dozens of people, created a massive amount of content, and I took it all very seriously. It was not only an engaging creative outlet that allowed me to craft things I couldn’t make in reality, but it provided a real-world job when I began turning it into profit. I even served as one of the lead writers for Grid World News, a SL-based news organization owned by LivePlanet, the now-defunct media outlet created by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Many of the friends I made during those years translated into real life, and remain my friends on Facebook and other real-world entities where we keep in touch. One still talks to me almost daily, gets my Christmas cards, and is one of my best pals.

But that experience did come with a price. I was genuinely addicted to the world for a while. My relationship with my (at the time) girlfriend, who is now my wife, had strains. I spent all my time in-world, and she had no interest in joining me there. It became a problem. Fortunately, we were able to fix it – but many people don’t. There’s countless stories on the Internet of people’s friendships, marriages and lives being torn apart by their inability to separate themselves from SL. I can see where that comes from – and it’s important to figure out the place it should hold in life, and not let it surpass that.

After 2008, almost everyone I hung out with stopped using the world. I spent years logging in intermittently, seeing what was up, knowing things were changing around me – but without anyone to talk to, and without knowing where to go, I’d get tired of roaming by myself and log out. It was too much work to make a whole new group of friends or discover new places, so I just stopped.

Jump to the present. I’ve started using the world again regularly during 2015. Having a long history of ups and downs with SL, I know how to harness the joy and creativity from the world without letting it consume my every thought. Since I currently work from home, generally only leave my house 1-2 days a week and don’t really talk to people, it has provided a boost in my “social” life. I’ve found a new place to hang out. I’ve made new friends that see SL the same way I do, and who provide encouragement and insight. My creativity has already been jumping, my social skills are feeling less awkward, and I’m feeling those same positive vibes as I did in the late 00’s.

My goal now is to see and experience all the awesome, creative ways people utilize the world. I visit art installations and check out unique designs. Some incredibly talented artists and designers use the world’s tools, which are a unique medium in their own right, to create art they couldn’t achieve anywhere else. Art that people can interact with.

Here’s some examples:

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Where else can you dance in the streets while giant cartoon faces clap for you?
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An amazing art installation.
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An art installation with a twisted city surrounded by daisies, and ghost-like people with balloons. My avatar is utilizing an interactive prop in the installation to reach for his own balloon.
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More of the above installation.
This is the area where I live.
This is the area where I live. That’s me at the campfire.
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My avatar staring at a house I built many years ago, and still use. It’s based on the real-world Yunak Evleri mountainside hotel in Turkey. (See here for a comparison pic)
An incredibly huge, intricate castle and village I've been visiting for years.
An incredibly huge, intricate castle and village I’ve been visiting for years.
The entrance to a Fallout-inspired post-apocalyptic theme park area.
The entrance to a Fallout-inspired post-apocalyptic theme park area.
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The entrance to a members-only club. I am not a member, so I was peeping through the walls.

 

AffordableVet.net is Open for Business

AffordableVet.net is officially open for business. Welcome!

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Our initial product lineup includes all the best OTC flea and tick medications, vitamins, supplements, supplies and other great medications for your pet. We will continue to add new items to our catalog every day, so be sure to check the site regularly, or follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook to keep informed.

Remember, we won’t be able to fill prescription orders until sometime in the spring.

Until then, please feel free to give us your feedback. Looking for a certain non-prescription product that we don’t have? Let us know! We’ll do our best to add it to the catalog. We’re all about helping pets and helping you, so we’re here to help get you what you need.

Thanks for all your support and encouragement, and I wish you and your pets a happy, healthy 2015.

~Jeff Saporito, Vice President & Founding Member

AffordableVet.net Launch Info & Initial Product Information

This week has been a busy one. I have some new information about the launch of AffordableVet.net, what to expect from the store when it opens, and what to expect a little farther down the road.

When we open on January 1, we will be offering a good supply of EPA products – that’s your topical flea and tick medications and such. We’ll also have common OTC pill-based medications, a nice array of vitamins, supplements and other nutraceuticals, as well as popular non-medical supply products. In short – if you could walk into a pet store and purchase it, we’ll be able to sell it from the get-go.

Due to having to jump through a few more legal hoops, we won’t be offering prescription medications at the January 1 launch. That will come a few months later. As I mentioned earlier in the month, AffordableVet exists in conjunction with an in-development veterinary clinic in the Pittsburgh area. Construction on the clinic is scheduled to begin early in 2015, with completion set for the spring. Around that same time, we’ll be all set to massively expand our inventory, offer almost any product you could think of, and begin to fill prescription orders. We’re putting in tons of work to ensure we have everything you could need at prices you can’t find elsewhere when that time comes.

I have received tremendous response to the concept of AffordableVet so far. I encourage you to check it out when we open. Our initial product lineup will be hand-picked by me and our involved veterinarians so we can offer as much selection as possible during the first few months. We also want to keep hearing about the medications you use for your pets, what you need, what you currently pay, and all that other great information you’ve been sending over. Tweet it to me, tell me on Facebook, email me, or comment here. It will all be considered into our expanded product lineup in the spring, when I’m confident we will become your new go-to place for all your pet’s needs.

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