This Week In Web - 07.11.14

  •   Miki Pacifico

By Miki Pacifico

This week - $44K potato salad, indie label music streaming, and the glorious return of Homestar.

A Side Dish of Silly

You may have heard tittering across the web this week about a Kickstarter campaign for potato salad. If not, well, I am sad/elated to tell you that it is true. Zach Brown, a man of no pre-spud notoriety, started a Kickstarter campaign to make potato salad. That’s it. Nothing was mentioned about the quality or quantity of said picnic food. Simply that it would be made. His original donation goal was $10, which I can only assume is enough to fund potato salad for a family of 10. What he ended up with peaked at over $70,000. 

Potato salad (Photo: Stephanie Vacher/Flickr)

(Photo: Stephanie Vacher)

Granted, when the humor of funding a potluck wore off, a number of backers left, bringing his total down to approximately $44,000. However, this is still plenty of dough to spend on a joke. Some sites have mentioned the taxes Brown will have to pay on that amount, as it is considered by the IRS to be income. Others have argued whether or not a joke campaign like this even belongs on Kickstarter to begin with. 

My thoughts? Well, the world is fully of silly people and if they want to blow their money on something they will never get to taste, that’s their business. Personally, I would back it if it was for the development of the world’s best-tasting, gluten-free, dairy-free potato salad recipe that would be made free for the public. I could get behind that. But I think you probably only need like $100 for that.

Streaming Snobbery

Picture it… Los Angeles, 2003. Your best friend sends you a message via AOL Instant Messenger that your favorite indie punk band has released a new EP via their label’s website (made of super basic html tables, of course). To support your fave band you either ordered that EP from the label’s catalogue (sometimes it also came with a band t-shirt) or you visited your local record store (where you could get it on CD or vinyl if you were hardcore about it). If you were a snob about your musical tastes and committed to the maintenance and support of the musicians you loved, you never stepped foot inside a Capital or Tower Records store. Damn the man, and all that jazz. Amiright?!

(Of course, I was not in any way a music snob. This is hypothetical. You believe me, right?)

Vinyl (Photo: Steve Cadman/Flickr)

(Photo: Steve Cadman)

The point I’m trying to make here is that it used to be a lot more important to support the musicians to encourage more music to be made than to save a couple bucks on the purchase of said music. Why, then, did we make a transition from supporting the little guy to allowing major corporations like Spotify or Pandora mindlessly auto-withdraw $10 per month for our ad-free, unlimited access to music? This shift has ensured that musicians, who receive a fraction of a cent each time their song is played, no longer make their money from the selling of their music, and now rely on exhaustive touring to make ends meet. This is counter-intuitive for many artists, as the touring process tends to hinder creativity, making song-writing harder overall.

In response to this shift, indie labels have begun taking that power back by starting their own streaming subscription service. The music under these labels are not available through third party services and the money made from streaming goes directly back to the music you love. Not only are they taking back control of where and how that music is played, but they are re-building that intense brand loyalty that was so prevalent before Napster changed the music world forever. 

Cwapface

Picture it again… Los Angeles, 2003. I’m sitting in front of my parent’s Dell desktop computer (it’s got Intel inside, obviously), and I am waiting for the flash-based site HomeStarRunner.com to load so that I can get my dose of Strongbad Emails in for the day. This was the highlight of comedy in my teenage mind. A cast of strange animal-non-animal-like creatures living in a house together in some alternate world where a Mexican luchador of questionable accent and an armless specter in a silly hat interact in annimated sketch comedy at a level that only an overly-caffeinated teen can understand and love. 

My sister and I spent hours quoting this web show at inappropriate times, like during family dinners, giggling along with “the scroll, the scroll, the buttons, the buttons, scrolling so smooth like butter on a muffin”. For years it was one of the very few things that bonded us together, and to most kids around our age, it was a cultural icon. 

Zune homestar (Photo: Derek K. Miller/Flickr)

(Photo: Derek K. Miller)

Co-creators Mike and Matt Chapman stopped production of the show in 2010, after nearly a decade of entertaining a certain segment of the general population. I introduced my husband to this show in January of 2014. I’ve never seen him cry-laugh so hard in the five years we have been together. He calls our dog “Cwapface” and tells me “yea, you stay ober der” pretty much every day. If you are a true HSR fan, you know what
he is talking about. I was sad to find out that production was stopped, but even MORE EXCITED to find out that production would
begin again!

The Chapman brothers have made no promises as to how frequently they will produce more shows or how close to modern technology the characters will advance (Strong Bad read his emails on a classic green screen), but I can tell you that the nostalgia factor alone will bring me and the husbeast back time and time again.

 

Header photo by Krystian Olszanski


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