Atomic Outros!

One of my web content philosophies is that people want you to entertain them. They don’t want to come and sit through you showing off how cool your brand design is, or you begging them to subscribe and watch more of your content.

So our outros have been, for the longest time, transparent and out of the way. Sort of.

They were certainly more out of the way than most other outros on YouTube. If not all other outros.
They were certainly more out of the way than most other outros on YouTube. If not all other outros.

Recently, I managed to get a free 30-day trial of Adobe Illustrator, in order to recreate our Absurd Axis Network logo. Then I thought, you know what, it’s time to update our YouTube outros as well. So I looked at them, and I thought about what could be better, and in the middle of the night I came up with much sleeker outros that looked like this:

No, I didn't zoom the picture out. The outro is just less in the way.
No, I didn’t zoom the picture out. The outro is just less in the way.

And that seemed “good enough” for a few hours. But then, late this afternoon, I realized, you know what, I only have a 30-day free trial of Adobe Illustrator here, and if I’m thinking these outros are “good enough,” then they aren’t good enough. If I can make them better then I need to make them better now.

So I did. And now, starting January 2016 at the latest, we’ll be using what I call “atomic outros” on our videos. They match the minimalistic, almost-invisible-yet-still-very-clear style of the new AweMire intro that I made a while ago, which is an added bonus.

Now that's what I call a perfect outro template. More funny content, less begging/bragging, and yet your clicking options are still clear as day. I seriously can't think of a way to make it more perfect. It is what it is. Which is perfect, if I haven't said that enough times.
Now that’s what I call a perfect outro template. More funny content, less begging/bragging, and yet your clicking options are still clear as day. I seriously can’t think of a way to make it more perfect. It is what it is. Which is perfect, if I haven’t said that enough times.

Of course, the atomic outros do have a downside. They’re out of the way, yet captivating. They’re small, yet highly visible. They’re non-distracting, yet clear. But despite all that, there is at least one downside to them…

I don’t really know what it is, but I’m sure they have one. Maybe. Probably not.

Alright then, have a good day!

New Absurd Axis Logo!

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There. It’s actually new now. It may look similar, and that’s because I wanted it to basically stay the same, but this is actually a completely new logo, made from scratch again.

It still has the same font (Optima, if you’re curious) and is still an A and an upside-down A connected to form an italicized N (Absurd Axis Network) but, clearly, it has some big differences…

It’s smoothed out. It now looks like a whole, instead of clearly two A’s haphazardly put together into an N. This was something that bothered me about the logo from the very beginning, and now I’ve fixed it. By recreating the entire logo from scratch to figure it out.
It’s also less blocky or whatever. In the old logo, there were lines and light-spots and shading that just didn’t work, as badly as I wanted it to because it kind of looked cool. All that is gone with the new, much smoother logo.

It is much simpler. When I made the original logo, I gave it many features — yellow and blue outlines, a glow, I think maybe a drop shadow, a much more 3D effect than the new logo, and I thought it looked awesome. And at the time, it did. But it was, honestly, too convoluted. The new logo is easier on the eyes and easier to put on things.

It is hypnotic. Being simpler doesn’t mean I just threw it together real quick. It does have cool effects on it, just less of them and in a more subtle way so that it’s scalable. But most importantly, it has a new color. I gave myself many headaches doing research into color psychology and testing my own reactions to colors to find a color that could convey many different things depending on how you see it, but at the same time has absolutely nothing intimidating or unfriendly about it. It can be warm, or it can be cold. It can be beautiful, or it can be dull. It can be calming, or it can be rejuvenanting. It can say “creativity,” or it can say “logic.” It is, inarguably, the absolute perfect shade of cyan-green. It has no official name, so I’m just calling it “the perfect color” for now.

So why this big change? It’s Apple’s third marketing point: If a great product has a shoddy exterior, people will assume the product is shoddy and won’t give it a chance. So I read that, and I looked at our logo, and I thought “I’m done letting this logo look like I put it together in five seconds and threw a bunch of cool effects on it in the hopes that would make it look better. I am fixing it.”

And there you go. A brand new, simpler, smoother, more scalable, more hypnotic, more flexible, and perhaps most importantly, more professional logo.

Thanks for being a fan of Absurd Axis Network!

Here is the Absurd Axis logo through the ages or whatever:

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The very first attempt at the logo, back in April of 2013.
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Having added effects to the logo to make it look cool, since it looked really lame to begin with.
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Having removed the white line, and possibly added even more effects, to make it look even cooler. And it really did look super awesome.
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Having experimented with adding our slogan to it so our slogan would get some views.
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Having simply darkened the logo to give it more oomph. For whatever reason. (This was actually just before adding the words; I’m not sure why it was posted backwards but I’m too lazy to fix it now).
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Having temporarily experimented with changing the color a while ago on January 4th of this year. This color was the closest I could get to perfect before my brain stopped working. I recently picked up on this color and worked on tweaking it even more, to arrive at the current color of our logo.
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Having greenscreened the perfect color into our logo, after having found the perfect color. It already looks much better because of how the greenscreening smoothed out most of it, but there are spots that just don’t work. Like, the ends, and the lines of the two A’s. It looks like it needs to go through a car wash.
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The brand new Absurd Axis Network logo. Smoothed out, toned down, simplified. But not quite there yet… It needed one little tweak.
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The officially new official logo of Absurd Axis Network. Simple. Smooth. More professional looking. Consisting of a color that can basically convey whatever you expect it to convey, but leaves out intimidation and aggression because that’s not what we’re about.

23 Things LOST Taught Me About Phenomenal Storytelling [Through Film]

  1. The five most important things in any good show, in order of importance: Characters, music, action/drama, comedy, tranquility.
  2. An ordinary person in an extraordinary situation is more intriguing and riveting than an extraordinary person in an ordinary, or even extraordinary situation.
  3. The hero shouldn’t be someone who is flawless, but rather someone who is heavily flawed. Someone who shows the audience that being a hero doesn’t mean being perfect and unrealistic.
  4. If a huge crisis happens, there needs to be a period of tranquility directly following it for the characters to process it and realize the predicament they’re now in. This actually helps the real audience do the same thing, whereas if the action just keeps going the audience can’t catch a breath and there’s no more investment in the show than there is in a cool rollercoaster.
  5. Every character should have a fairly detailed history, even if they’re a minor character. This makes the audience feel like the story world is more realistic.
  6. If you’re writing a mystery, there needs to be a “Mueller Device.” This is my name for a major mystery that runs through the entire story or series, starting out as something you barely notice at first but which gradually becomes the biggest obstacle the characters will have to overcome in the end. I named it “Mueller Device” after the Mueller Device in the TV series Alias. All of JJ Abrams’ projects have a Mueller Device, including the cancelled ones, and it’s one of the things I love about his shows.
  7. If you’re going to do flashbacks, make sure it’s something worth flashing back to and not something that a character could just explain in a few words to another character.
  8. Reverse-shock can actually be more of a shock than, well, shock. Reverse-shock is when something incredibly tense is happening, then you just suddenly cut to tranquility. The perfect example of this is the first flashback on LOST. It goes from the plane going down, to suddenly just staring out at a peaceful ocean. Watching it feels like you’ve been in a car crash — so use the tactic sparingly and be wise about it.
  9. If there are several people, they need to be a community and interact with each other. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget that a character you’re focused on while scriptwriting is currently supposed to be surrounded by ten other people. You need to keep track of who is there and make sure they’re doing what they would do, even if one of them would do something that derails your plans for the story. Let them do it, your story will get back on track quicker than you think.
  10. Fake deaths. I know, the first thing you thought when you saw those two words (or at least, the first thing you should’ve thought) was “No. Just no. Nope.” I know. I hate fake deaths too. But, there is an exception, as long as you don’t overdo it: Brief fake deaths. If you throw a character off a cliff and cut away for a little bit, then cut back to reveal the character caught something and is still alive, that’s technically a fake death but it’s resolved within moments. It makes the story intense without using the rather annoying cliche of “nobody can actually die.” I kind of just babbled with this one, but hopefully you understand what I’m trying to say…
  11. Never overdo anything. If someone is murdered, don’t paint too much blood on the scene. If someone is happy, don’t have them break out into a musical. The only exception to this rule is when not overdoing something just wouldn’t make sense — like when John Locke had a break down in his car after being rejected by his dad, who had just stolen John’s kidney. I mean, if your dad steals your kidney, you can overdo a break down. Basically you have to find a balance, but 99% of the time if something is happening it shouldn’t be overdone.
  12. It’s a good idea to have the characters in the story be drastically different from one another. Not just the good guy being the opposite of the bad guy, but the main character’s peers also being drastically different from them (and each other). Otherwise it’s just the Avengers, which was a really crappy movie because the only interesting character in that movie was Tony Stark, and they never even let Loki do anything. Seriously, Loki is supposed to be ridiculously powerful and he just sits in a cage almost the whole movie while the good guys deal with things that are nowhere near as powerful as Loki is supposed to be. OK, sorry, I’ll cut my rant short here and get back on track.
  13. It’s OK to have a female character that has sex appeal, but it’s not OK to have a female character that IS sex appeal. In other words, don’t make a female character take clothes off just to get more audience or just because you’re a perv. If someone takes any piece of clothing off at all — heck, even just their socks — they better have a damn good reason for it and it better move the story along. Actually this goes for both genders, but I feel like it’s done more to female characters. That may just be because I’m straight. I guess male characters do tend to remove their shirts quite a lot for no reason.
  14. Never use special effects unless they’re absolutely necessary. If you can pull off a scene without using special effects, do so. Yes, they’re really cool, but you’re telling a story through film, not showing your friends how cool all these special effects are. More often than not, if you let go of the voice in your head screaming “BUT IT WOULD LOOK SO COOL!” you’ll find that the scene actually looks better without effects.
  15. Adventures are fun. They start with a minor goal, which leads into a minor journey to reach that goal, and ends in the goal either being met or the character(s) realizing they can’t meet the goal right now. They’re not exactly necessary, but they’re fun. Maybe writing one into your script will help you feel better about not listening to that voice in your head screaming “BUT THOSE EFFECTS WOULD LOOK SO COOL!” …Just be sure the adventure is necessary. That’s the big thing I’ve learned. Everything has to be necessary. (Despite the fact not everything in LOST was necessary. What was the point of those people who got buried alive? Nobody knows. There was no point to them. But then, nobody liked that subplot, which proves my point about everything needing to be necessary and have a point.)
  16. Camera movement tells the audience how they’re supposed to feel. For example, if you want the audience to be focused, the camera should have a smooth, medium-speed movement. Or if you want the audience to feel tranquil or in suspense (the music makes that difference) you move the camera in a smooth, slow motion, or no motion at all. Or if you want the audience to feel like they’re on a rollercoaster, you have the camera moving quickly and a bit shaky.
  17. Bad things happening should be balanced out with good things happening. Despite all the dramatic things you recall from LOST, most of it was actually balanced out with scenes of good things happening. Which of course, then balanced out with more horrible things happening. Having that balance creates a sort of hypnotism for the audience by messing with their emotions. I mean, don’t be a jerk about it, but people watch TV because they like being taken on a tour through their emotions. That’s also why we listen to music and read books. Entertainment is our excuse to be human in a society where being human will get you hurt. (There’s also just the fact that the story would get really uninteresting if it was only ever bad things happening.)
  18. End every scene with a cliffhanger. End every act with a cliffhanger. End every episode with a cliffhanger. End every season with a cliffhanger. Just end everything with a cliffhanger. They don’t have to be huge cliffhangers, they just have to be things that make the audience want to keep watching to find out what happens next, or to see a promise of what’s to come be fulfilled.
  19. When it becomes necessary for a character to explain something, the explanation needs to happen fluently. It needs to happen in a way that flows perfectly with the storyline and the surrounding dialogue, and not in a way that makes the audience remember they’re just watching a show, bumping them out of their trance.
  20. There should always be a character who is absolutely crazy and, while everyone else is terrified, he just runs straight for whatever’s breaking down five trees per second. Because if you don’t have this character, nobody’s ever going to do anything seriously interesting.
  21. In contrast, there should also be a character who is too smart to walk straight into danger, despite it turning out they’re the only character that can defeat said danger.
  22. Where there is suspense, there must also be relief. Relief from suspense, as unfortunate as this may seem, only comes from a shock. People enjoy suspense, but if you do suspense but never have an actual shock at the end of it, the audience will be expecting a random shock for the next half hour and will become extremely uneasy. Most people do not like that, and you’ll be seriously ticking your audience off. If someone is walking down a hallway with the camera way too close to them, there better be someone behind them. REMEMBER: Suspense is a slingshot. If you stretch it too far, it’ll just break and hit you (the writer or director) in the face.
  23. Music defines the scene it’s in. A lot of comedy scenes are actually the same as drama scenes, but the music applied to them makes you perceive them as one or the other. For example, someone might give a biting sarcastic remark to another character. If the music is dramatic, the audience will perceive it as threatening and intense. But if the music is light, the audience will perceive it as a funny joke.

These are all things I learned just from watching the first four episodes of LOST. You can learn quite a lot just by observing!

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Neither the author of this post nor Absurd Axis Network is in any way shape or form associated with or sponsored by ABC Network, Bad Robot, or anyone else who made the phenomenal series “LOST.”
Also, this disclaimer text would be way smaller if I knew where the text size options were. No, not the thing that said “paragraph” and “header 1” and “header 2” and so on. The thing where you can change specific blocks of text and not the whole post. Seriously, someone please help me. I don’t see it anywhere.

Do you know anything about storytelling through film? Let us know in the comments below! That rhymed. I apologize.

Purslane’s EVIL Twin

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You should recognize the young plant on the right as purslane. But what’s that oddly similar plant right next to it?

That’s spurge. If you break it (I didn’t) it will ooze a milky white sap. If you break purslane, there’s no sap at all. That’s the quickest and easiest way to tell the difference, although when the plants get bigger (only takes a day, if that) they’re more easily told apart.

Spurge has been confused with purslane so many times that some have given it the nickname “milky purslane.” Which is just wrong. That’s like calling a cat a “meowing dog.” The two may appear similar to people who haven’t been taught the difference, or who have terrible eyesight, but they aren’t at all the same.

I really have nothing to write about spurge. It is a weed and should be pulled out the instant you see it, as it grows quickly and spreads it’s seeds even quicker. Fortunately, it is said to be a non-competitive plant, so it won’t harm your garden plants (it won’t help them either) and planting ground cover should discourage it from growing a lot. You can also kill it with weed killer, as I’m sure you already guessed.

That’s pretty much all I know about it, because the internet only contains information on how to get rid of it. I recall an article on some things it could actually be good for — something about containing ingredients that could help us find a cure for skin cancers, or something like that — but I can’t find it anymore so I can’t write that kind of information legitimately.

So I guess instead, I’ll just post a few pictures of spotted spurge to help you identify it, get rid of it, and avoid eating it while foraging for purslane.

Here you can easily identify this as spurge, and definitely not purslane. The leaves are thinner than purslane leaves, the stems are thinner than purslane stems, and it also has a kind of bluish tint going on, it seems. There's also the spots on the leaves because it's called "spotted spurge." Although, those spots don't always appear, so they shouldn't be used as an identifier.
Here you can easily identify this as spurge, and definitely not purslane. The leaves are thinner than purslane leaves, the stems are thinner than purslane stems, and it also has a kind of bluish tint going on, it seems. There’s also the spots on the leaves because it’s called “spotted spurge.” Although, those spots don’t always appear, so they shouldn’t be used as an identifier.
Here you can see that when spurge is broken, it emits a milky white sap. This sap is an aggressive skin irritant and should be avoided at all costs. If you do get some on your hands, wash them for fifteen minutes. If your hands start to break out, I advise you to contact a medical professional immediately. You can also see from this close-up shot that the stem of spurge is awfully hairy. This is another way to tell spurge and purslane apart -- purslane's stems are smooth and have no hairs (at least not that I've ever seen).
Here you can see that when spurge is broken, it emits a milky white sap. This sap is an aggressive skin irritant and should be avoided at all costs. If you do get some on your hands, wash them for fifteen minutes. If your hands start to break out, I advise you to contact a medical professional immediately.
You can also see from this close-up shot that the stem of spurge is awfully hairy. This is another way to tell spurge and purslane apart — purslane’s stems are smooth and have no hairs (at least not that I’ve ever seen).
Spotted spurge doesn't always have spots on it. I don't know why this is. I find it particularly easy to identify it just by it's egg-shaped thin leaves and the way it grows. It prefers to lay low, although on rare occasion it will stand upright in a few places.
Spotted spurge doesn’t always have spots on it. I don’t know why this is. I find it particularly easy to identify it just by it’s egg-shaped thin leaves and the way it grows. It prefers to lay low, although on rare occasion it will stand upright in a few places.
I somehow managed to get spurge out of the ground without touching it, just by using a rock. The weed isn't hard at all to pull out as it doesn't have very deep roots. This is the underside of the plant.
I somehow managed to get spurge out of the ground without touching it, just by using a rock. The weed isn’t hard at all to pull out as it doesn’t have very deep roots. This is the underside of the plant.
Spurge, like it's good twin purslane, can grow pretty much anywhere it wants to grow.
Spurge, like it’s good twin purslane, can grow pretty much anywhere it wants to grow.

 

Once again, the photos in this post are of spurge. It is highly toxic and spreads quickly. If you decide to start believing me about how healthy purslane is, please make sure you’re picking purslane and not spurge or some other weed!

There are a few more weeds that can be misidentified for purslane, but not too easily. One of these is called matweed, which is a type of amaranth plant. It’s scientific name is Amaranthus blitoides.

Amaranth, unlike spurge, is an edible twin to purslane. According to Wikipedia (so I’m not sure how much I believe this), several Native American tribes would eat the seeds of matweed as food. A tribe called Zuni, based in New Mexico, mix the seeds of matweed with black corn meal to make balls. I imagine they’re quite bready.

Amaranth is also recognized by Google as an edible weed, as a search for it will actually turn up nutritional facts:

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Do you have something to add or ask about spurge? Post it in the comments below!

This Weed is EVERYWHERE!

20140619-190929-68969427.jpg If you’re a gardener, this ISN’T the bane of your existence. It’s actually your best friend. If it’s in your garden, especially around peppers, tomatoes, and corn, keep it there. It’s called purslane.

You might’ve heard that it was called pigweed, but if you think about it, you were also told that lamb’s quarters were called pigweed, amaranth (which actually is pigweed) was called pigweed, broadleaf plantain was called pigweed, wild hibiscus was called pigweed, heck you might’ve even been someone who grew up calling clover pigweed. Bottom line is, if someone tells you a weed is pigweed, they’re pretty much just saying they don’t know what it is, but they want to sound knowledgeable. Purslane breaks up hard soil, making it easier for crops to grow their roots. It also provides ground cover and stabilizes soil moisture, meaning it keeps the “climate” around your crops healthy.

As if that’s not enough, it also pulls nutrients and water up that your crops can’t reach…and then shares them with your crops. Yeah, that’s right. This weed is better than pretty much every person you know. I think we could learn a lot from this weed. Christ tells us to give water to those who ask us for it, to love unconditionally and to help who we can, where we can, when we’re there. These things are precisely what purslane does! It’s one of God’s examples to us, of how we should be treating each other. Some plants fight for space with plants around them or even directly kill the plants around them, and they seem to be the plants that represent humanity. But we were meant to be like purslane. We were meant to coexist with one another, even those different from us, and help everyone regardless of what they think of us. We were designed to do our best to be as helpful as possible, even when the world sees us as weeds and just wants to throw us out.

And, if you absolutely must pull purslane out of your garden despite it’s selfless nature and good looks, you can always wash it up and throw the edible “weed” in your salad or sauté. The leaves, stems, and flowers can all be eaten. With generous amounts of vitamins A, B, C, and E, magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, betalain alkaloid pigments (antioxidants believed to help prevent cancer), lithium (used to treat depression), and more Omega-3 than any other vegetable in the world, this tangy-sweet vegetable is not only something you can eat, it’s something you SHOULD eat.

You won’t have much trouble finding this miracle plant. Just go outside and look around on the ground for a bit. No matter where you live, if it’s mid-June or later, you’re sure to find it.

A warning, however: Make sure it’s purslane and not spurge. Check it against pictures of purslane on Google and make sure it has no sap when broken. If it has sap (looks like milk) when broken, it’s spurge, a highly toxic weed that sucks and IS the bane of your existence. Here are a few photos of purslane to help you identify it, but always double check anyway when you’re about to eat a “weed”!

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Purslane is eaten with meals like the actual vegetable that it is in places like Turkey, India (where it supposedly originated from), Greece, Mexico, and more. It was one of Gandhi’s favorite foods, perhaps thanks to it’s antidepressant properties. People say it’s taste is hard to describe, but it’s really not. It tastes like an Italian sweet pepper with a bit of tanginess and zest. It will taste more tangy the earlier in the day you pick it. Due to the way it survives dry spells by photosynthesizing, it will also taste more tangy if you pick it during a drought.

If you want to get a look at it’s flowers, you’re going to have to be an earlybird. I have found through trial and error that they literally only open at around 9:40 AM. Besides that, it can be impossible to tell the plants even have flowers at all because they’re closed the whole day.

Once again, please refer back to the images in this post as well as doing more Googling on purslane if you are going to try eating wild purslane. There are many plants you may mistake for it, such as spurge (which is poisonous). The easiest way to tell the difference between purslane and spurge is to break it. If it’s oozing white milk, it’s spurge and you should get rid of it — but don’t touch that milk! It’s highly toxic and can cause serious skin irritation. If you accidentally get a little bit of it on yourself, you should be fine if you wash your hands right away, but a few people have reported actually developing dermatitis as a result of getting spurge sap on their hands.

There are other plants, I’ve found, that can be mistaken for purslane. Spurge is the most dangerous one, but I can’t figure out what the other one is called so I don’t know whether it’s edible or not. That’s why you need to really get it in your head and double-check before eating it. But should you decide to eat it, rest assured the only thing you’re growing in your garden that rivals it’s health benefits is kale. As I’m sure you’re well aware, kale is pretty much the healthiest vegetable in the world, seconded by purslane. I guess we could give purslane the title of healthiest weed in America (because most other countries consider it an herb or vegetable, not a weed).

If you decide to deliberately grow purslane, it needs plenty of sunlight and can thrive in both droughts and wet seasons. Basically, it needs no care whatsoever as long as it’s not too shaded.

You can also buy cultivated purslane which has flowers in many different colors (there are apparently 40 different kinds you can get), rather than just yellow. This purslane is used as decoration — I’m not sure if it’s edible, though it probably is.

※ Scire ※

Did I fail to mention something very important about purslane? Add your knowledge in a comment below!

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