Escape the Night

Arts and Culture

Okay, a lot of people continue to slam YouTubers. Go ahead, be dismissive. Shane Dawson has more subscribers than the Big Bang Theory finale had viewers. Miranda Sings got a Netflix series, a comedy special, and is constantly touring. Lilly Singh has a late night talk show on NBC this fall. Joey Graceffa is, among other things, a New York Times best selling YA author. They all built these careers through YouTube, but sure, roll your eyes. Now that I’ve got that rant out of my system, we can talk a about the YouTube original series Escape the Night.

My scolding above is because the show stars a bunch of YouTubers you probably never heard of. It doesn’t matter. The show is brilliant. It’s part How to Host a Murder, part LARP, part reality show, part haunted house, and part escape room. Joey Graceffa gathers together a group of people to solve a supernatural mystery. Every season is a period piece. Season 1 had them magically transported to the 1920s. Season 2 was the Victorian Era, Season 3 the 1970s, and Season 4 the 1940s. There’s an overarching story, some evil they need to defeat, and to do so they need to overcome a series of challenges. In just about every episode, one or more of the participants “dies” some gruesome death. Those left standing ultimately solve the mystery, defeat the villain, and save the world.

Escape the Night

It’s just silly fun. The participants aren’t really trying to play anything other than themselves, but they play along. Their frustrations at not solving puzzles and seeing friends eliminated are real. The jump scares are definitely not faked. They’re surrounded by talented actors who will not break character for anything. Yes, sometimes it’s fun to roll your eyes when young people are being dumb. It’s also fun to watch people think of clever things on the fly.

Give it a try. The first episode of each series is free, but the rest are on YouTube Premium. There’s a free trial, and you can binge them all in the allotted time. There are worse ways to kill some time.

Comedians, Cars, Coffee, and Creativity

What I’m not going to talk about here is whether or not Jerry Seinfeld is funny. I’m not going to discuss how out of touch he might be. He’s not the reason I watch Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. I’m not going to deny that the show is hit-or-miss, and that Jerry can be painfully problematic. Sometimes I watch the show in spite of him. I’m there to see his guests, and the interactions they have with him.

While everything on television is contrived to some degree, this one at least strives to feel natural. Two comedians riding together in a car, with no crew present, having a conversation about their craft. That’s as alone, and as intimate and personal, as one can expect from a talk show discussion. When they get to the coffee shop segments there are other customers around, so possibly the camera operators and production assistance are a bit more invisible than usual.

The conversations that work best do so because of the format. They happen because it’s two people in the same industry talking about the business. That’s what fascinates me. That’s the part that draws me in. A comedian wouldn’t tell that story to a talk show host aiming for a mainstream audience. They wouldn’t give that anecdote to an entertainment reporter. We get to hear those tales, thoughts, and opinions because they’re talking to Jerry. They’re swapping stories with a fellow traveler.

Comedians, Cars, Coffee, and Creativity

I find any sort of behind-the-scenes information about creative work interesting. Even though I’m a writer, I like hearing about filmmakers, fine artists, chefs, and yes, comedians. There are bits that are relatable, or uplifting, or even useful. What I’d like to see is the format used for other types of creative professionals. You can skip the trappings of cars and coffee shops. I want to see two notable writers have a long chat about writing. Two game designers sitting down to compare notes on how their careers unfolded. A couple of painters dishing over who their influences were. I know that there are already some things like that out there. I’d like them to get the kind of mainstream success that this show’s found.

Comedians, Cars, Coffee, and Creativity

Not a Digital Native

Can I say this without catching all sorts of hell? I’m happy that I’m not a digital native. When I as growing up there was no internet. People didn’t start having personal computers until I was in high school, and then they were rare an expensive things. I’m not saying my generation, or the generations before me, are superior to the folks for whom smartphones, tablets, and wifi were ubiquitous growing up. The online world clearly offers a lot of benefits. I do think that being a digital immigrant grants a perspective that natives don’t have. That’s what I’m grateful for.

I’m not going to rant about how people don’t read anymore, the lack of privacy we’re come to accept, or even the new strains of bigotry and propaganda made possible by constant connectivity. What I really worry about is a loss of analog equivalents. We’re losing these things as backup plans. What happens if we lose this resource? Net neutrality is already dead. There’s a virtual monopoly between a handful of service providers. The more essential the internet becomes, especially to those who’ve never lived without it, the more those companies and government are able to control and manipulate people.

Not a Digital Native

Physical media is a pain and takes up space, but there are movies, TV shows, and bands that aren’t available on any streaming service. Warren Ellis has written about rebuilding his personal library. As far back as 2012 people were learning that buying a digital thing doesn’t mean you have it forever. Licensing agreements change. Companies are bought up or go under. Devices and formats always evolve. That’s just entertainment. What else are we at risk of losing?

In many ways, it’s the same old story of becoming addicted to convenience. I don’t mind walking to the grocery story a couple of times a week. Not everything has to be delivered. Standing on line at the bank doesn’t bother me, because that was the norm for most of my life. I know how to hail a cab, read a map, and use a card catalog. Like any addiction, it gives those who can supply a fix power over the addicted. It’s good business for them to keep you addicted. They benefit from limiting your choices, making you dependent, and removing your power. You can dismiss me as an old man yelling at the cloud. I think we should all be a bit concerned.

The New Posting Schedule

The current plan for the new posting schedule is as follows: There will be 3 to 5 new posts per week, which will appear on the Patreon site at 9 am Eastern time. These will only be accessible to patrons. One week later that will become viewable to non-patrons, and will appear on as well.
Each day of the week will have a different topic. Obviously, if I only post 3 times per week, not every topic will be covered every week. I won’t have more than one post per week on any topic.

Monday: Bullet Journaling

This topic is covers how I use my bullet journal, planning, and general productivity. There will be elements of minimalism thrown in, because I’m all about simplicity. Posts may also cross over with self-care, since I also use my bujo to manage my executive function disorder.

Tuesday: Writing

This topic is about writing and creativity. It’s a calling, a career, and a lifestyle, to be sure, and I’ve made a living as a writer for a few years now. You won’t find much advice here, because there’s plenty of that elsewhere. Instead I want to find connection with other writers, and the community, in this space.

Wednesday: Worldbuilding

This topic obliquely discusses the creation of tabletop roleplaying games and the work I do as Dancing Lights Press. It’s going to have more to do with my creative process and the use of the medium for self-expression than cliched nonsense about murder hobos and genre tropes.

Thursday: Self-Care

This topic is about making time for yourself in a world filled with stress and unreasonable demands. Because I identify as a spoonie there will be posts related to that, managing mental health, and living a productive life in spite of physical limitations.

Friday: Arts and Culture

This topic includes for posts about books, music, film and television, and other forms of entertainment. It is also the place for visits to cultural events, trips to museums, and dining experiences. While it may contain opinions and recommendations, I wouldn’t classify any of these posts as reviews.

The New Posting Schedule

This will all be subject to change, of course, based on how readers respond. If people get tired of a topic or, to be honest, I run out of things to say on a topic, I’ll swap it out.
Thoughts? Opinions? Leave a comment, I want to know!

Topic: Arts and Culture and Related Posts

Arts and Culture: This topic is for posts about books, music, film and television, and other forms of entertainment. It is also the place for visits to cultural events, trips to museums, and dining experiences. While it may contain opinions and recommendations, I wouldn’t classify any of these posts as reviews.

Is this where I plan to get a little bit pretentious? I don’t think so. The arts are important, and should be accessible to everyone. It’s not about being elitist, overly-educated (as if there is such a thing) or wealthy. Being able to appreciate quality things, be it fine art, performing arts, literature, or cuisine, requires more critical thinking than practical experience. We certainly need more of that in the world.

The reason I picked this as a core topic for the blog is a bit complex. It’s a shared interest that’s relatable. Even if we disagree on other things, we probably have some media in common. The books I like might not be the books you like, but hopefully we both like reading books. The same goes for listening to music, and watching TV and movies. It ought to be a grounded connection.


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#arts #culture #books #movies #music #education