Video Game High School Season 3 Review (No Spoilers)


VGHS

The best shows have a way of making you not want them to end. The writers do their best to make the plot satisfy you so you will close the book and feel like it has finished its course, but you never do. That is the boat Video Game High School is in. The characters are so lovable and memorable that the show could have gone for another five seasons, but the creators were tasked with finishing all of their stories in this season. This was a big challenge.

Many shows that garner popularity tend to go out on a victory tour, giving fanfare to the viewers and highlighting the most lovable points of its characters. This is not the approach VGHS takes. This season, all of the characters hit some of their darkest times. I won’t spoil anything, but all of the major characters go through life-changing events that make them look at their lives from a different angle. Even Ki, the unwavering bastion of caring and righteousness, finds herself questioning whether good always wins. VGHS swung for the fences with the story.

This is a good thing. These actors and actresses really have come into their own and it’s noticeable as they flex their acting muscles. After seasons of Ted Wong goofily deflecting anything that might hurt his feelings, he finally hits his breaking point and shows a wide range of emotions. As the show digs into his relationship with his father, it creates some very powerful stuff. Ki also creates some moving work as she is put in a position where she can’t fix everything with both her life and friends. It’s one of the few times in the show that “life happens” for her and she is not used to be powerless to it. Brian, who has carried the show at times from an emotional standpoint, continues in that regard. While he steps back as the main character and lets his friends join him in the main narrative, he continues to be the glue that holds the group together and finds himself in tough situations because of it. His friends need him even when they don’t realize it. Brian, or Josh Blaylock rather, deserves awards for his parts in this show as a whole.

The one character I was a touch disappointed with was Jenny Matrix. Don’t get me wrong, her acting was solid and I like her as a character. However, her desire to be a professional gamer is a huge focus during this season. The viewers always knew that Jenny was the player in the school that had the best chance of going pro and it was her lifelong dream. I find this a little strange because Brian actually carried the team on his back quite often and was shown to be on Jenny’s level throughout the show, but the writers made it obvious that he didn’t have a chance of going pro. We always knew that this would inevitably lead to a conflict between Jenny and Brian. Well, that conflict happens in this season and it absolutely tears Jenny apart. She has to come to terms with who she is and what she wants. After this issue seems to be resolved, later in the series, she does something that completely contradicts this in a matter of three seconds. It seemed the character hadn’t really progressed at all and it was disappointing to see, but the writers knew what they were doing. It was destined from the start.

The show also adds some new bad guys, which was refreshing. At the end of Season Two, Ashley Barnstormer and his Napalm Energy Drink High School pop up and nab The Law in a seemingly random move. This story arc is fleshed out and you realize that this energy drink company/high school is gunning for VGHS. Dean Calhoun has made some powerful enemies, one being Ashley and another being a known face I won’t reveal. Napalm Energy Drink High School has an unlimited amount of money, as does its two leaders, and that money allows them to do anything they want, which puts the protagonists in bad situations over and over again. Ashley Barnstormer is absolutely hilarious. He calmly connives and picks people apart. He is very similar to The Law from Season One. The scene where he is a “captive” was particularly funny to me. Napalm also picks up a new face, who you will recognize from Disney’s iCarly, and he brings up one of the most random plot twists in the show to date. It is pretty funny and he immediately becomes mortal enemies with The Law for more reasons that one. He is a man of few words, but gets some very memorable scenes, especially closer to the end. Ki’s old rival, Shane Pizza is also a blast to watch. He never loses and so calmly buys his way out of every challenge and problem. He also has a much bigger role in this season in ways you wouldn’t even imagine. His condescending tone is hilarious and how he has kept it through three entire seasons without letting a smile or chuckle slip is impressive. Snaps, Ki. Snaps.

Every show can use more of this guy: The Law

Every show can use more of this guy: The Law

That brings me to one of my biggest disappointments. The Law is practically not present in the entire season. I know Brian Firenzi, the actor who played The Law, moved to London after Season Two but I still find the aggressive phase-out of The Law disconcerting. While every character has a special place in my heart, The Law has always been my personal favorite character of VGHS. His romance with Shotbot and the narrative of him uncovering his framing by Shane Pizza in Season Two carried the show for that stretch. The Law was eccentric and ridiculous, but was human at the same time. I would go so far to say that he was so humanized in the later part of Season Two, he was turned into a good guy and the viewers were rooting for him. Of course it was a “Law” move to immediately go against Brian and his friends at the first chance he got to join Napalm, but what followed wasn’t. He immediately became a subordinate to Ashley and allowed himself to be pushed around, which doesn’t fit his character at all. Then he practically disappears for the rest of the season to then pop up for an anticlimactic finish in which he doesn’t get revenge or even try to against any of the people who wronged him. He was turned back into the comedic relief character who pops up a handful of times that he was in Season One. It was just so disappointing because in Season Two, he really was fleshed out and became a driving force of the show. Maybe I just love The Law too much and am the only one who cares he was gone. While I’d have a beer with any of the cast mates of this show (except the girl who played Sushi Princess, of course), Brian Firenzi would have to be on the top of that list. Look at his Twitter account. He is a complete hoot.

Season Three featured all of the side characters we have come to love from Wendell to Games Dean to Clutch to Jumpin Jax to Drift King to the Duchess. It was wonderful to see, but I wish the show could have gone longer so that we could see their stories drawn out more. How did the Duchess of Kart and the Drift King get to their respective roles as the lead of each racing team? How did the two racing teams come to hate each other? Many of the side characters could have had their own stories, or at least origin stories, and I felt like there were opportunities left on the table, but this was likely due to resource restraints. They were very clear about this third season being the final season so they obviously couldn’t travel down too many avenues. At the closing of the season, I felt unsatisfied with the endings of the side characters, They just basically disappear into the woodwork after the climax of the entire show. I was hoping for Wendell getting the respect from his peers he worked so hard for; Drift King and Duchess excitedly hugging and showing that there is hope for a racing-based friendship; A real showing of friendship between Games, Jax, Brian, and the other FPS players; or just maybe a small montage showing what happened to everyone. I also was a bit saddened by Drift King sliding back into a villainous role towards Ted as I thought Season Two hashed that out, but he redeems himself. There are many great things done with the side characters, though. I won’t tell you it, but one of the best scenes of this season involves Dean Calhoun. You’ll know it when you see it.

This scene comes right after one of my favorite scenes from the season.

This scene comes right after one of my favorite scenes from the season.

Those complaints are so miniscule towards how amazing this show is, though. The action scenes are better. The acting is better. The story is real and makes the characters suffer to come out stronger in the end while peppering in the trademark VGHS humor. This season even adds in MMO, JRPG, and social gamers into the school’s cast, which was hilarious. Season Three was a great tribute to not only VGHS itself, but gaming as a whole. Plus, it features one of the craziest final scenes of a show I’ve ever seen.

One other thing that I personally enjoyed about this season was the adult theme. Season Three starkly deviates from its more kid-friendly past. There are jokes about sex and cussing. This doesn’t seem like a video game-based Disney show anymore. This is a thought-provoking, roller coaster of emotions that keeps true to its fun and giddy nature while taking you to places you never thought VGHS would. I loved it. Its cheesiness is a big part of my love for VGHS, but this move towards adult content was a great one that paid off. I won’t mention the ending of the show, but even that isn’t the Disney perfect ending we would expect from VGHS, but instead follows in the footsteps of other emotionally driven shows like Friday Night Lights. VGHS brings it.

All in all, Season Three of Video Game High School hits big. While I wish the show could go on for another ten seasons, this is the finale we get and it does more than enough. We learn who Brian, Jenny, Ki, and Ted really are as they, as well as the whole school, are tested by these new evil forces represented by Napalm Energy Drink High School. We go to both the bottom and top with these characters by the end of the season and it is an incredible and rewarding journey. My lone complaint that I will carry over is the lack of The Law, but that doesn’t detract much from what is otherwise a near perfect closing to one of my favorite shows ever. To those of you who didn’t donate to the show and have only seen Episode One:

‘LAW READY FOR THIS?

9.5/10

To watch Episode One of Season Three of VGHS, go here.

-Marty F. Nemec

Crowley Attends GSA Expos at Three North Florida and South Georgia Military Bases



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Every year, Morale, Welfare, and Recreation organization at Submarine Base King’s Bay, Naval Station Mayport, and Naval Air Station Jacksonville host GSA expos and for the fourth consecutive year, Crowley was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go to all three.

These expos are great, allowing businesses (mostly small) to rent tables and set up banners, goods, information, and giveaways. Employees from each base then come and see what each business does and get free stuff at the same time. Many of the government employees are purchasers and contracting officers of different industries so there is a realistic chance that someone who buys a particular service or product could end up standing in front of a business that sells it.

These expos are great networking events and they allow all of the attendees to show their appreciation for the military (my father works on NAS Jax and even ran into me at the expo!) and small businesses in general. Crowley brought employees from multiple departments including procurement. Those procurement employees walked around and shared information with small businesses to possibly purchase their goods.

While I’m not in procurement, I gladly walked around and shook hands with many people as well. I noted businesses that could possibly subcontract or partner with Crowley on our GSA schedule and I also chatted with companies to just learn about them and their employees at the event. I really think I made some friends these last three days! I love Jacksonville and I am a huge supporter of local Jacksonville businesses, just like Crowley as a whole. It was so much fun meeting members of companies from industries like flooring, safety equipment, office furnishing, environmental solutions, and others.

Another thing I was glad to do was teach the attendees about Crowley. There were so many people who came to our booth and didn’t know we are a Jacksonville-based company. In case you didn’t know, we are and we are very proud of that. There were people who didn’t know we managed and moved containers on giant ships. Most of the attendees didn’t know that we are helping raise the Costa Concordia with Titan Salvage, a company Crowley owns. You will find Crowley at almost every single event that supports contracting and small business because we care. I’m very glad to be part of those efforts.

I am not sure what I am doing here!

I am not sure what I am doing here!

There were over 50 businesses in attendance and the networking was incredible, not only between the government workers and business representatives, but between the businesses as well. There is a lot to learn from business development specialists and sales managers of other companies. I greatly enjoyed talking to employees of CORT, CDW-G, Yeti Coolers, Mohawk Group, and many others. Attending these expos wasn’t just about getting business for Crowley. It was also about learning, sharing, and getting closer to the Jacksonville and government contracting community.

The three bases also provided free breakfast and lunch, complete with potato chips, drinks, and desserts. There was a strong incentive for the government employees to attend and fortunately for the businesses looking to do business with them, those employees came.

As a member of Crowley, I thought the GSA expos were great. I met so many people from both government and industry. Every direction I looked, I could see smiles and handshakes. I really cannot overstate the incredible power of networking events like these. Any event that has government purchasers speaking directly to the people who want to sell to them is an event I support. This is business at work and everyone wins. Thank you to GSA, every participating company, and all three of the military bases for putting on such great events.

How an Amazon email marketing goof-up lost them a sale



I love Amazon. I think they are the best online retailer on the planet and everyone who knows me well knows that I use Amazon for everything. I will sing their praises until the end of the world.

However, that doesn’t mean that Amazon doesn’t mess up.

I woke up today at 5 a.m. and did my normal routine of checking my emails (and Facebook) in the hopes that it would help me wake up. Amazon sends me emails regularly with different deals or products catered to my interests. I don’t open many of them but I prefer getting them because every now and then, I do get an email for something I want.

Well, that actually happened this morning.

I received an email for “Up to 65% Off Select Kingston Memory Cards and USB Drives.” This was incredibly convenient because my last flash drive (which was also a Kingston, by the way) burned down with my house and I hadn’t bought another yet. There are ways for me to get around using a flash drive so I had been holding off, but 65 percent off the normal price would have been the thing to make me finally buy one.

Amazon email marketing mess up martyfnemec Communication Made Simple

The email did a great job of building a sense of urgency as well. The Kingston flash drive sale was the Amazon “Deal of the Day,” which means that I only had today to buy a flash drive using this deal. This marketing technique was very successful as I immediately clicked the link so I could buy a cheaper Kingston flash drive.

Then, something strange happened.

The “Deal of the Day” was not the Kingston flash drives. I was confused and I stopped for a moment and thought that maybe Amazon messed up and the flash drives were not the “Deal of the Day” but instead part of Amazon’s “Lightning Deals” that are featured on the same page. I clicked through all 37 of them and there was nothing involving a flash drive.

I decided to go back to the email and I saw what had happened. The “Deal of the Day” was for April 15 (yesterday) and I received the email at 3:01 on April 16. Even if I had opened the email the second I received it, I still couldn’t have bought those flash drives because that day had passed. Even if I lived in California, which is three hours behind Florida, the state I call my home, I STILL COULDN’T HAVE BOUGHT ONE OF THOSE FLASH DRIVES.

Amazon successfully assessed my interest and sent me a relevant email. Their email marketing worked and I was 100 percent ready to make a purchase and their mess-up lost them a sale.

Will this affect my love of Amazon and cause me to stop using them first and foremost over every other online retailer?

Nope. It doesn’t change anything for me. I am disappointed, but the value Amazon brings me far outweighs this rare mistake.

But this does bring to light that every company makes mistakes, even the almighty Amazon. The difference is that Amazon can afford it. Can your business?

Make sure that your email marketing is tested and analyzed deeply. Just like in my case, a lead can be ready to become a customer and a simple mistake can make it never happen. Unlike my case with Amazon, your missed opportunity may not come back and give you another chance.

Do you have an opinion on this subject? I’d love to hear it in the comments.

-Marty F. Nemec

Game of Thrones makes TV watchable again



Game of Thrones

I admit that I’m a tough sell with TV shows. I have probably watched two or three episodes of a hundred shows. I just don’t have time for TV shows that can’t keep my attention. I expect shows to make me interested in the futures of the characters. I expect to laugh or cry (feel like it). I expect to feel emotion.

Three of the only shows I have ever finished and made me satisfied with my decision were Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad, and Arrested Development. Game of Thrones definitely meets all of my expectations for great shows.

I won’t ruin what happened, but in a roughly four episode span, featuring both the “Red Wedding” and the “Purple Wedding,” this show blew my mind and changed what I thought about TV shows. Game of Thrones will keep you up at night thinking about the show’s events. It will have you talking to coworkers about it.

The one constant complaint I hear is that Game of Thrones is too long. The episodes are sometimes slow and always an hour long. What you don’t realize, though, is that the entire show is a series of build-ups. Each long build-up peaks at a crazy event that leaves you speechless and then the next build-up begins. You have to know these characters. You have to love or hate these characters to truly appreciate what the show has to offer. That is why you have to watch the episodes that aren’t action-packed from start to finish.

I strongly suggest that you get a big bag of popcorn and dedicate a Sunday afternoon to Game of Thrones. After three episodes, you will most likely be as hooked as me (and most of the country). It is an incredible show that will make you feel every emotion known to man. Don’t be that guy (like me) again who starting watching Breaking Bad after it ended and you already knew the ending.

Also, you will come to really appreciate Jack Gleeson’s portrayal of the cowardly, yet sadistic, King Joffrey. What a tough role and Jack nails it every single episode.

-Marty F. Nemec

My life at the moment (03/24/2014)

Many things have happened since my last real post.

I now am a full-time paid Marketing and Communications Intern at Crowley Maritime Corporation. The title is misleading as I actually do an incredibly vast amount of functions. The sect of Crowley I work for is called Crowley Technical Management, and my department primarily deals with business development, mostly through government contracts. At the moment, I mostly help write bids for government contracts, but we are kicking off a marketing campaign to further expand CTM’s online reach so we an secure more contracts. I will be the head of this campaign and will be in charge of the blogging and other social media content creation.

It is a giant opportunity for me and I am very excited to prove my worth so I can have a chance at getting employed here in a permanent position. This company is great and everyone here is incredibly helpful and nice. I know that I am in an environment that will help me be the best I can be. Plus, I can put government contract writing on my resume now.

How cool is that?

Things are going well and I’m sorry for not posting in a long time. How are all of you? Are your careers/lives going the way you want them to be going?

A blog I wrote about the Sonic Redskins’ sign incident for Axia PR.

Sonic-Redskins-Sign

Come read it and comment on there if you have an opinion on the matter. Axia and I would really appreciate it. Please look around at the other posts too if you have free time. I am very appreciative of all the support you guys have given me.

The post is here.

-Marty F. Nemec

The PR side of Amazon’s drone unveiling on 60 Minutes

Amazon-PrimeAir-flying

This is a very interesting article by Axia Public Relations on the PR side of Amazon’s unveiling of the “Amazon Prime Air” drone on 60 Minutes. It was a giant move for both Amazon and 60 Minutes and its timing was perfect. It was done the night before Cyber Monday, which is the biggest day of the year for internet retailers.

Check it out here and write what you think of the article in the comments.

How a House Fire Made Me Who I am Today

My destroyed house while the debris was getting cleared out.

My destroyed house while the debris was getting cleared out.

On December 18, 2012, two days after my 25th birthday, I was sitting in my living room around noon. It was a day like any other, except something unsuspecting would happen. There was a pop in the wall behind me. I didn’t have time to evaluate the situation or ponder on what caused the noise because the burnt plastic smell told me right away. It was a spark.

I immediately threw the couch away from the wall and saw the old curtain was already on fire. I tried to kick it and put the fire out, but my attempts were to no avail. I ran to my refrigerator and grabbed a giant container of water. I even thought for a second how lucky I was that I hated the iron water from my well and kept distilled water for drinking. Those positive thoughts quickly dissipated as the water hit the fire and did basically nothing. It was at that point I saw the fire was coming out of the outlet and that’s when I knew that the fire was inside the wall. I ran into the kitchen and frantically looked for something, anything. I turned around and saw the fire was already at the ceiling of the living room. I grabbed a shirt and covered my mouth, ran into my living room, grabbed my cell phone and darted out the back door. That move actually singed the front of my hair, but I didn’t realize that until a firefighter pointed it out to me later.

As I ran down my back porch steps, there was a sound similar to a cannon firing and the living room window blew out causing glass to fly everywhere. I called 911 and waited at the road with nothing but the pair of gym shorts I was wearing and the phone in my hand. Slowly, the rest of the neighborhood came and stood with me offering me apologies and small tokens of help. I appreciatively smiled to them, but my mind was still numb at the sight in front of me.

The house that was burning was where I grew up. It was old. The walls were covered in wooden panels, a practice not done anymore because it is essentially turning your walls into flint. The insulation was old, as was the wiring. Perhaps I was lucky that something like that didn’t happen earlier. After all, it could have happened while I was sleeping.

I have always considered myself a strong person, but there is no denying that it was devastating. Not only did I lose everything from my childhood, I also lost everything I owned too. On top of that, I received a dose of reality on how mortal I am. If it had happened just a little earlier, I would have died in my sleep. Insurance did pay for most of my lost items eventually, but I was in a bad spot right after the fire.

I had no house and belongings. I had no clothes. I lost all of my school work as well as my computer. My dad lived an hour away which would have turned my drive to school into a two hour trip each way. As hopeless as the situation seemed, something magical happened. My friends and family popped up wanting to help, especially my girlfriend and her family. Even my friends’ parents gave me things. People on Facebook that I hadn’t seen in years were messaging me telling me I could stay at their house if I needed to. I must have had more than 30 people contact me wanting to help.

My network turned my tragedy into a manageable problem that didn’t ruin my life. When school started again after the Christmas break, I was able to drive my normal route to school and do my work on someone else’s computer. Because of the charity of everyone, I was able to get my life back on track until the insurance money came in and allowed me to support myself and replace my belongings.

Looking back, I can see that this network that helped me is the same concept that is used in public relations. Whether you need help getting a message out or getting access to new potential clients, a network of friends and strangers is necessary. Like when someone gave me a shirt, someone can give a retweet. A place to stay for a few days is like an opportunity to guest blog. Maybe it is silly to downplay my traumatizing experience by comparing it to the public relations industry, but I don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to learn from it. It is only traumatizing if I let it be. I choose not to.

If there was anything that I gained from the house fire, it is strength. I didn’t crumble to my near-death experience or the things from my childhood that were lost. I’ll never get to show my kids the chess set from Jerusalem or the Slovenian history-themed Tarok card game set their great-grandfather gave to me before he died. I’ll never get to look back at anything I ever accomplished or the hundreds of poems and novels I endlessly wrote as a kid that made me want to be a writer like I am today. It was humbling, but it was strengthening. I am a firm believer that God does everything for a reason and now I look forward, ready to make an imprint in the public relations industry. I’m ready for whatever comes my way because I feel like I’ve already been through the worst.

Did you have a situation in your life that you learned from like this? It doesn’t have to be traumatizing, but I would love to hear it in the comments section.

-Marty F. Nemec