Happy Birthday, Trato

The Movie Closet crew



On May 18th, 2016, I launched a despi­ca­ble-look­ing Word­Press web­site, sat­is­fy­ing nobody’s antic­i­pa­tion but my own.


The 367 days since have been the most sig­nif­i­cant of my entire life.


I have learned more, pro­duced more, and slept less than ever.

Though many peo­ple have added to this project finan­cial­ly or intel­lec­tu­al­ly, its great­est ben­e­fi­cia­ry so far has been myself by a wide berth. In the next year and beyond, I need your help to make sure that changes.
I can imag­ine (almost hope, even) that these let­ters haven’t had much read­er­ship, but they’ve for­ev­er chron­i­cled my intel­lec­tu­al and emo­tion­al devel­op­ment in spite of my shife, fleet­ing mem­o­ry. Writ­ing to you has assist­ed me tremen­dous­ly in fig­ur­ing out why and how I should build this thing.
Today, the front page bears noth­ing but the above list of indi­vid­u­als who’ve invest­ed in, con­tributed to, ban­tered with, and/or encour­aged us.
Beneath their names is a heav­i­ly smushed screen­shot of all the Extranet’s raw text. It’s a bit less com­pressed than the one I post­ed on Insta­gram — the orig­i­nal was 30,000 pix­els long — but they both allow you to see the entire­ty of what we’ve cre­at­ed so far in one image.
The staff and I would like to thank you for your read­er­ship, your engage­ment, and your sup­port of fresh dig­i­tal media.
If you recall our mantra — scrib­am quid non leg­erim (“I will write what I have not read”) — note that an unstat­ed com­po­nent of that sen­ti­ment includes I want to read what I have not read. In that sense, our sup­port­ers — men­tioned and unmen­tioned — have direct­ly con­tributed to our sat­is­fac­tion, as have you — even if these are the first of our words you’ve con­sumed.
Col­leagues and friends have come and gone, but the core group — the peo­ple I chose to bet on — have remained present in some form, and the work of every one of those who’ve cho­sen to move on will remain in high stand­ing. 


Tim and Hawthorn have become my right and left hands — keep­ing me in cheque in their own dis­tinct, respec­tive meth­ods when my pre­ten­tious abstrac­tions begin to cross the line.
Over the months, they have thank­less­ly assumed a crit­i­cal coun­ter­weight role, and one of supreme friend­ship, per­son­al­ly.
I’ll nev­er be able to express suf­fi­cient grat­i­tude to either.
The three of us now make up the edi­to­r­i­al team of this pub­li­ca­tion: one dam­aged-goods word nerd, a chaot­ic, prose-sling­ing machin­ist, and a mani­a­cal cyber­count­ess.
Nul­li­fy Tim’s com­pa­ny, here on the ground, and I’m not sure I’d be able to main­tain my obses­sion, func­tion­al­ly, and with­out Hawthorn’s spo­radic cor­re­spon­dence from the North­west, I’d have spun off in a cyclone of my own bull­shit, ages ago.
Aside from her appear­ances on Future­land, I know ‘Thorn’s byline seems awful­ly absent, but her behind-the-scenes con­tri­bu­tions have had a sig­nif­i­cant impact on deci­sions made with­in vir­tu­al­ly every aspect of the orga­ni­za­tion. This is why — very soon — I’m going to be over­haul­ing our woe­ful­ly-out­dat­ed mast­head to more accu­rate­ly com­pile and present the names who make up Extra­tone.
In fact, I’ve already begun build­ing staffer-spe­cif­ic land­ing pages: Tim and I have /cactus and /bilge, respec­tive­ly.
Giv­en the below-detailed com­mit­ment against com­pro­mis­ing our visu­al expe­ri­ence, Ben Stokes’ ambi­tious new bi-week­ly web com­ic could not have been pitched at a more per­fect time.
My rant about Face­book is most­ly con­jec­ture — the lan­guage of its users — but it actu­al­ly includes pseudoc­i­ta­tion(!) and looks real­ly great.
I hap­pened to glance at the Net’s recent top search­es, a few weeks ago, and dis­cov­ered men­tion of ‘bran­don from extra­tone’ behind only my name.
Who is he? I cer­tain­ly did not let any Bran­dons in the front door.
Our anony­mous dig­i­tal wraith — K. I. Eleuthe­rios XVII — decid­ed to explore the sto­ry in her expo­si­tion.


Remem­ber that fuck­ing busi­ness plan I told you about last month?
Well, num­ber two has tak­en a lot of my time. Orig­i­nal­ly, I only want­ed a web pres­ence to eas­i­ly man­age the con­tent for even­tu­al sea­son­al prints, but what I’ve learned about dig­i­tal sto­ry­telling in the inter­im has me con­vinced that its pos­si­bil­i­ties trump the need for you to ever hold us in your hands. Per­son­al­ly, it’s been 12 months of obses­sive­ly stum­bling around, which is an odd activ­i­ty.
In ret­ro­spect, it would seem that I’ve learned to turn my van­i­ty into pro­duc­tive ener­gy. Remem­ber that night in July when I spent some 18 hours com­plete­ly redesign­ing the site after I’d hap­pened to vis­it it on my phone before bed? I thought this… looks like shit, so I just… threw every­thing away, and start­ed over with the basic infra­struc­ture of today’s tone.
Our serv­er expe­ri­enced
2.1 mil­lion raw hits, 
and 4200GB of raw band­width
exchanged by 32,500 unique vis­i­tors.
210 posts and 71 pages
con­tain­ing near­ly 100,000 words
make up over 12mb of raw Extranet text
12,753,703 char­ac­ters,
about four King James bibles.
So, our Tra­to has indeed grown into that titan­ic digi­hunk I pre­dict­ed it would, but it’s actu­al­ly got­ten very lithe over time.
At ori­gin, the whole clunky-ass intranet thing was a good joke, but I’m very pleased to announce that it (along with its reg­is­tra­tion process, forums, pro­files, groups, etc)  has been destroyed, for­ev­er. The loss of its dead weight cou­pled with a near site-wide elim­i­na­tion of the side­bar has reduced the net to less than half its orig­i­nal load­ing time.
Also con­tribut­ing to this new­found imme­di­a­cy in a big way is the visu­al style we devised in Novem­ber of last year, which we like to call Pithed. Like a sort of cyber black­out poet­ry, it involves com­press­ing the shit out of ultra high-dimen­sion images upon ren­der so that they look beau­ti­ful­ly and inten­tion­al­ly pix­elized (as opposed to just plain poor qual­i­ty) at ludi­crous­ly tiny file sizes.
For exam­ple, this fea­tured image I took at MAGFest is 4672 x 2628 — more than large enough to be mal­leable for the Extranet’s var­i­ous dis­play for­mats, yet the JPEG, itself is only 120 kb in size, which allows for even the longest-wind­ed, most intri­cate­ly visu­al-laden fea­tures to be briskly ren­dered in less-than-ide­al net­work sit­u­a­tions.
Of course, it wouldn’t make sense for us to sac­ri­fice our read­ing expe­ri­ence to page load times — that’s what old new media is for — but I think Pithing will con­tin­ue to have a smooth­ing effect on your dig­i­tal thumb­ing, along with its result­ing lack of caching neces­si­ty. In fact, there was actu­al­ly a sig­nif­i­cant increase in over­all site speed when I dis­abled it to live-edit some­thing a few weeks back. (Remind me to buy a 10-gal­lon hat for such occa­sions.) Until a more tai­lored pro­fes­sion­al solu­tion becomes avail­able, the Extranet will remain live and uncached.
Out of all forms of human com­mu­ni­ca­tion, the com­ic for­mat has always been the most alien to me, by far. When attempt­ing to absorb a com­ic book — print or dig­i­tal — I’ve nev­er been able to escape my utter inep­ti­tude. (I’m sure I’ll be able to improve after some expe­ri­ence, one day, but for now, the fact is incon­se­quen­tial.)
In the case of Ben’s Har­vey T. Hal­loway, I was pro­vid­ed an enthralling new chal­lenge just in the nick of time. When he orig­i­nal­ly sub­mit­ted Page 1, I sim­ply chucked most of the raw image on the home­page. Appar­ent­ly, some mobile browsers do not allow pinch-to-zoom in that for­mat, and ya can’t just take every pan­el in at once on a small­er screen.
The most rea­son­able, short-term solu­tion I could come up with was to install Har­vey on its own instance. I pul­ver­ized a free theme’s CSS (which is why nav­i­ga­tion appears quite glitchy, at the moment,) and mus­tered a bare-bones plat­form that seems to func­tion ade­quate­ly for the time being. The Hal­loway sec­tion on the Net is still the best way to browse and share pages, though. (The entries are sim­ple redi­rects.)
If you’re an expe­ri­enced con­sumer and you’ve got the time to send your feed­back, please do
My ear­ly focus on user account reg­is­tra­tion exem­pli­fies how dis­turbing­ly pro­found my naivety was regard­ing the state of the inter­net in 2017. I knew enough to avoid anti-open web CMSs like Medi­um or Tum­blr, and to fore­see a uni­ver­sal re-analy­sis of where the fuck our words go, (and I just need­ed to play around again,) but I had no idea how many bril­liant inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tion solu­tions were avail­able.
Nor did I real­ize the extent of the noise which one is now con­front­ed with when attempt­ing to cre­ate a media com­pa­ny. A pri­ma­ry quandary all along has been sort­ing between what is expect­ed (of a dig­i­tal magazine/blog/news site,) and what makes sense. It’s a par­tic­u­lar­ly essen­tial one — the answer will like­ly decide the rel­e­van­cy of our exis­tence.
For instance, Dis­cord is basi­cal­ly capa­ble of every­thing that any/all com­mu­ni­ca­tions ser­vices have ever offered, yet even the most mod­ern pub­li­ca­tions are still using Slack, inter­nal­ly, which is sim­ply unnec­es­sary. Most of the web looks like shit, includ­ing those few pub­li­ca­tions with way too much mon­ey to con­cede to fuck­ing mobile ver­sions of their sites and their readership’s Face­book habit, while oth­ers have stooped to just treat­ing their audi­ence like five-year-olds.
If Extra­tone was sub­ject to this cow­ardice, we’d prob­a­bly have a sig­nif­i­cant­ly greater rev­enue stream by now, but we wouldn’t be mak­ing any­thing worth­while. It’d be sense­less.
Though it’s been spo­radic — and much too male — there are peo­ple vis­it­ing this web­site. We’ve got­ten some mud on the tires, and the expe­ri­ence has sug­gest­ed that non-con­trib­u­tor user accounts are sense­less. There’s no rea­son for you to wor­ry about anoth­er set of cre­den­tials — anoth­er oppor­tu­ni­ty to put your infor­ma­tion at risk, or for me to have to wor­ry about putting it at risk.
As such, I have dis­abled account cre­ation, removed the ✒️ drop-down menu from Meta, and final­ly dis­abled com­ments, site-wide.
Meth­ods of engage­ment with us still abound, and would-be con­trib­u­tors can sim­ply email me to have their account made. It’s a lot sim­pler this way.

A post shared by David Blue (@asphaltapostle) on

My gift to the Extranet for its first birth­day is this ver­sion — 3.6 — which includes a bunch of addi­tion­al tidy­ing-up with that dig­i­tal flip­ping ide­al in mind.
(I’m just thank­ful I’ve yet to have a dream — or night­mare — about edit­ing the web­site.)
  • The search func­tion has been removed from Hus­to­nia — the main nav menu. There real­ly is  some­thing about “online mag­a­zine” and the neces­si­ty of explo­ration. Take your time — you might have fun dig­ging. If you must search, you’ll still be able to use the func­tion­al­i­ty in this for­mat: /?s=[term]. E.g. extratone.com/?s=piss
  • Most sec­tions (cat­e­gories) have been re-vis­it­ed and irrel­e­vant meta trimmed away as much as pos­si­ble. It doesn’t make much sense for every thumb­nail in Words of David Blue in Red to include “by David Blue.”
  • Archive dis­play pag­i­na­tion has been revised. There are now a set max­i­mum num­ber of posts-per-page dis­played, so — if you find your­self remem­ber­ing some­thing you found while explor­ing, you can reli­ably remem­ber where you left off by page num­ber.
  • I tweaked the about page slight­ly, remov­ing par­al­lax to fur­ther smooth things out.
  • Since it’s still debat­ably the best part of this web­site, it’s worth not­ing that I’ve visu­al­ly updat­ed our 404 page.


Despite tak­ing on the undoubt­ed­ly mon­u­men­tal task of draw­ing a bi-week­ly web com­ic, Ben Stokes has con­tin­ued to plug away at The Movie Clos­et.
You can now spread the show around more eas­i­ly with this short­link: bit.ly/moviecloset.
Tim bought a Nexbit Robin and reviewed it on Future­land before we caught up on a bunch of sto­ries, and I read the first piece I wrote for Words of David Blue in Red in hon­or of its one-year anniver­sary for Drycast.


Since these let­ters have real­ly just been anoth­er, long-wind­ed form of Extra­tone aggre­ga­tion, it’s preva­lent of me to revis­it some of my favorite con­tent from the past year.
In ear­ly Octo­ber, we watched the Sec­ond Pres­i­den­tial Debate between Clin­ton and Tump, and I was able to get our very-lib­er­al friend Ivy Holi­vana to chat with Vir­gil — Stu­dio Eat’s Marx­ist guardian angel, and Alek MichaelExtra­tone’s Alacrity Edi­tor and sin­gu­lar Don­ny-vot­ing staffer. It was pub­lished under the now-deceased Off The Grid brand, but was like noth­ing else we’d ever done. It’s a bit of a sur­re­al lis­ten, con­sid­er­ing where we’re at, cur­rent­ly. There was a lot of inter­rup­tion, but every­body was able to artic­u­late their par­tic­u­lar, uni­ver­sal­ly-fresh per­spec­tives on The Tump Prob­lem. Noth­ing much has become of our hes­i­tant Tump sec­tion yet, but that dis­cus­sion is the essen­tial take­away.
The first episode of Future­land to bear the name includ­ed an inter­view with Glenn of Vine fame, but dis­cussing his excel­lent Expert Opin­ion pod­cast ‘out-of-char­ac­ter,’ as well as his dil­li­gent study of com­e­dy proved to be much more inter­est­ing than the service’s destruc­tion.
Way back in Sep­tem­ber, I got to record a con­ver­sa­tion with a pod­cast­er whom I’ve admired for a long time. Doma­narK co-hosts Clue­less Space Nerds, an Eve Online com­mu­ni­ty icon which I used to con­sume reli­gious­ly. It’s no sur­prise we got along so well, I guess — ulti­mate­ly, we are both Mid­west­ern red­necks who’ve played the god­damn game.
We start­ed off this year by attend­ing MAGFest 2017 — our first event ‘cov­er­age’ as a pub­li­ca­tion. Though we only got a sin­gle episode of Future­land from the floor, itself (in the cor­ner with the trash and the flies,) a lat­er, much more sober reflec­tion in the after­math record­ed with Whit­ney, Jab50Yen, Kali, Isi­ah, and Juni proved to be an effec­tive fol­lowup. Though it’s only been a few months, the writ­ten bit — my first attempt at a “big fea­ture” — is already quite cringey in lay­out and voice, but per­haps that’s a pos­i­tive thing. I may fin­ish its com­pan­ion — The Sin­cer­i­ty - one day when I have time to kill, but the expe­ri­ence taught me — if any­thing — just how irrel­e­vant most of my pre­sump­tions were. Round­ing it all up, Jab50Yen and I had a con­ver­sa­tion about YouTube Poop to a depth I can safe­ly claim as the pre­miere offer­ing, any­where, which is uh… very on-brand, at least.
Alexa’s extra­or­di­nar­i­ly artic­u­late rants in the last fifty min­utes of Future­land’s 22nd episode are some of my favorite of all time. Imag­ine if we had the means to pay her for more rants and hard-hit­ting prose.
The whole sec­tion has been great, real­ly, but Tim’s sons is prob­a­bly my favorite.

I have come from a line of Great men
and less­er men
men who lead proud and ful­fill­ing lives
and those who died before they had time
these men worked with their hands
and with their minds
strong men and smart men
lock­smiths and welders,
engi­neers and min­ers
sol­diers and sailors
grunts to com­man­ders
their blood flows through me
They were sons of Amer­i­ca
She brought them pros­per­i­ty and dis­par­i­ty
they loved her and hat­ed her
so when i die
i will be buried in her heart land
next to her might­i­est riv­er.


Of every­thing?
because it is more com­plex than any of us could’ve imag­ined.
There will be expo­nen­tial­ly more infor­ma­tion to absorb than the com­bined exchange of all human com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and our meth­ods of dis­trib­ut­ing it will be (and are being) bru­tal­ly test­ed, but ulti­mate­ly, the mes­sage is always more impor­tant than the medi­um.
I’ve brought you along for my expe­ri­ences return­ing to (some­what) world­ly aware­ness because this con­text — what you see in front of you — is the only method I’ve found for myself to accom­plish both the aca­d­e­m­ic and per­son­al devel­op­ment that uni­ver­si­ty exists to accom­plish (by dec­la­ra­tion, any­way.)
Obvi­ous­ly, I’m grate­ful for the per­son­al progress, but the dan­ger of my per­son on its future has made itself appar­ent. Ulti­mate­ly, Extra­tone can­not be me; can­not be mine.
I’ve been learn­ing to love this town, but it’s far from where we belong. As I explained in March, we’re plan­ning to head toward our friends in the North­west, next year — con­serv­ing our com­mu­ni­ty build­ing ener­gies for a more tar­get-rich envi­ron­ment. Ear­ly on, I was ade­quate­ly con­vinced that face time (as in, per­son-to-per­son) was no longer nec­es­sary for inter­com­mu­ni­ca­tion for the ‘tru­ly-mod­ern’ orga­ni­za­tion I want­ed to build, but — as I’ve said rep­e­ti­tious­ly — my per­cep­tion of even our own bub­bled indus­try real­i­ty has changed dras­ti­cal­ly, since.
No amount of VoIP, text chan­nels, or file shar­ing ser­vices can replace prox­im­i­ty in the process of a pub­li­ca­tion fly­ing the nest. An office space will always be the ide­al envi­ron­ment for our sort of col­lab­o­ra­tion.
It’s real­ly all I day­dream about, these days.
I can tell you that I, myself need to slow down a bit, while I still can. A year of web devel­op­ment has gained me plen­ty of knowl­edge, yes, but it’s also cost my body a lot. The ground­work has been laid, and I’ve been slow­ly accli­mat­ing to a more rea­son­able lifestyle.
There’s always more to say, but it can be left to the com­ing months.
Until then, we’re going to con­tin­ue doing our best to deliv­er extra­or­di­nary dig­i­tal expe­ri­ences, and we hope you find your­self invest­ed in our cre­ation.
One more time — thank you.
For every­thing.