SydLexia.com: The First Year In Review
In October of 2004, a webhosting service called DreamHost decided to celebrate its seventh year of operations by offering domain registration and an entire year of hosting for the ridiculously low price of $7.77. It was at this moment in time that running a pop culture website stopped being one of those things that I always dreamed about doing and became a glorious reality. On October 12, 2004, I became the proud owner of SydLexia.com. And then for almost a month, nothing happened. Instead of the pop culture content that you see now, visitors to the site saw this. Of course, this didn't stop me from submitting it to every fucking search engine that I could find. That turned out to be a huge mistake; for at least one full month after the official site launch, lesser search engines like Ask Jeeves still only had that page cached. After I obtained the rights to SydLexia.com, I was at a loss for exactly what to do. I knew I wanted my first article to set the tones for things to come and I knew I wanted it to be on a video game. Unfortunately, I couldn't pick one. Bad Dudes, Revolution X, and Adventure Island were all top contenders, as were Double Dragon, River City Ransom, and Parodius. To make matters worse, I was deeply entrenched in my last semester of college and the coursework was preventing me from fully committing myself to the site. So I worked on my first article little by little, during the miniscule amount of free time that I had. Syd Lexia on Revolution X was finally completed on November 3, 2004 and the site officially launched.
When the website officially launched, it looked like this. A lot of you might not know that the Donkeylips petition was actually up long before the article on Salute Your Shorts. The petition was nothing more than a cheap ploy aimed at bringing visitors to the site. I circulated the link around on TV Tome and IMDB, hoping to generate some interest. Did it work? Not really. But it did add another line of text to an otherwise spartan page. The "under construction" comment was removed after about a week when someone commented that my page's work-in-progress status was clearly implied. You might also notice that there's a typo in the Revolution X description. It should read: "Join ME on my bizarre journey through through Midway's 1994 arcade classic." That was up for at least six months before I noticed it.
SydLexia.com was far from the first pop culture site to emerge on the internet and there have probably been dozens since. Hell, I'm not even the first guy to create a pop culture site that focuses on the Reagan-Bush era. Before SydLexia.com, there were X-Entertainment and Seanbaby. Seanbaby is somewhat defunct, but X-Entertainment is still going strong. Since their inception, these sites have covered vast amounts of pop culture. So the question is this: Did we really need Syd Lexia? Predictably enough, my answer is a resounding yes. Seanbaby is absolutely fucking hilarious, but his inability to consistently provide new content was a huge disappointment to people like me who expect websites to provide entertainment on a weekly basis. X-Entertainment updates frequently especially around Halloween, but I always found their site design to be rather harassing. The writing over there is absolutely phenomenal, but sometimes you'll have to deal with advertisements (or even better, BROKEN ads) in the middle of content. And sometimes the content scrapes the bottom the barrel. Do I want to read a piece on a Congo coloring book or Mountain Dew Pitch Black II? Here's a hint: NO. Maybe in ten years I'd be interesting in reading about Pitch Black II, but here in 2005, I can fucking buy it myself. So my goal was to provide a simply designed site with pop culture content based around to main selling points: 1) weekly articles and 2) some intellectual analysis mixed in with all the swearing, jokes, and pop culture references. Well, needless to say, I've absolutely failed at my first goal. 37 articles in 52 weeks averages out to about one article every 9.8 days. Have I failed in my second goal? I would like to think that I haven't, but that's up to you to decide.
The Site Layout
One of the most distinctive features of SydLexia.com is its style sheet. So-called "serious" web developers abhor my style, particularly the use of the Comic Sans MS font, but it doesn't seem to bother most people. For the record, my HTML pages use the following setup:
Font: 10-point Comic Sans MS
Font Color: White (#FFFFFF)
Page Color: Dark Gray (#333333)
Link Color: Purple (#9966FF)
Why do I use this setup? Well, first of all, I like it. Secondly, I wanted to use something somewhat unique. There are thousands of pages out there using black-on-white and white-on-black. I like mine because it doesn't sounds like an interracial porno when I'm describing it. And it's the same thing with the Comic Sans MS. I'm fucking sick of seeing Arial, Verdana, and Times New Roman. Those are fonts are great for writing your Poli-Sci paper, but they're devoid of any sort of character. Comic Sans MS is casual without being harassing. It's not like I'm writing the fucking site using Kidprint or Old English. A lot of people seem to wonder what the deal is with the purple links. It's like this. When I picked the gray background, I immediately knew that the default blue wasn't going to cut it. I mean fucking look at it. You can't fucking read that, can you? I needed something lighter but lime green and cyan both seemed too bright and I fucking hate yellow. Besides, yellow is too Maddox. So I went with purple.
Syd Lexia On Syd Lexia
Since last November, I have written 36 other articles on various topics. The topic selection process is almost completely arbitrary. I'll just start thinking of the hundreds upon hundreds of shows, movies, and videos games that I'd like to discuss at sooner or later. Eventually, I'll try and narrow it down to a few topics and I'll try and focus in on those. Eventually one of them will somehow come to the forefront, I'll start to get a feel for the main points I want to get across and some of the jokes I want to make, and I'll be off. Everyone who comes here on a regular basis probably has a favorite article. At the very least, there was some article that brought you here and interested you enough that you perused the site's other content. I have my own favorite articles as well. Here are Syd Lexia's Top Ten SydLexia.com Articles from the 2004-2005 season:
The great thing about writing about a game that no one's ever heard of is that no one will get pissed at you for making fun of it, especially when it's something as bizarre as Quiz & Dragons. The best part about this article, hands down, was the Quiz & Dragons Trivia Challenge. Sifting through all the questions and deciding which ones to use was a lot of fun for some reason.
Originally, I was going to do an article on the Topps Series 1 Batman trading cards from 1989. Unfortunately, I never finished my card set and I used all the stickers long ago. When I went on eBay to look for them, they were going for more than I felt like paying. NES Game Packs, however, were going for $10 for a whole box. Realizing that the Nintendo cards would make a much better article anyway, I snagged them. Originally, I had wanted to use scans of a couple cards to make a flash game that simulated their full crappiness. But I don't know flash, so it never came to fruition. Maybe someday...
Christmas + alliteration + a hilariously outdated gaming system that wasn't very good to begin = fun.
I think the opening to this article says it best: "I have a confession to make: I'm an Arnold Schwarzenegger fanboy. Not only have I seen the vast majority of his movies dozens of times, but I also own most of them. Arnold movies are a lot like junk food: I know they're bad for me, but I don't really give a shit."
The problem: I needed to get another article done and I really didn't feel like doing yet another video game. The solution: pull a bunch of random crap out of the basement and attic. It was a great excuse to talk about random stuff that you'll probably never see anywhere else, like Transformer pajamas, Koosh tennis rackets, and vintage cocaine. Did you know that cocaine doesn't get better with age? Cuz I didn't.
This was one of my shortest articles, but I love it nonetheless. The was simple premise: obtain a vintage food product (i.e. Pepsi Free) and see if it's any good. I've seen this sort of stuff done elsewhere, such as X-Entertainment, but I thought maybe I could it better. Since I didn't manage to include any low resolution rips of old Pepsi Free commercials ripped from beat-to-shit VHS tapes, so I guess I failed. But hey, it was a great excuse to finish off that bottle of vodka I had lying around.
The idea for this article arose primarily out of aborted attempts on articles about Mickey Mousecapades and Bart vs. The Space Mutants. Although I had played it avidly in the past, I never really liked Bart vs. The Space Mutants. And after collecting all the screenshots, I realized that writing a full length article on the game was going to be absolutely tedious. Mickey Mousecapades was a game that I had remembered being funny and terrible, but I soon discovered that it was just fucking awful. Not only that, it was far too short to warrant a full review. I still wanted to find a way to share my hatred of these games and thus the idea for a "worst" list was born. The hardest part of this article was naming it. Originally the title was going to be 20 Nintendo Games You Thought Were Good, But Weren't. Unfortunately, I was forced to ditch that name so I could include Hydlide. This is easily the most controversial article on the site, but it's also the ONLY controversial article on the site. People have been upset with some of the choices, particularly Marble Madness, Batman, Ninja Turtles, and Skate or Die. Unfortunately for them, they're wrong. Some other games that were considered for the list were:
Maniac Mansion. Because it was clearly designed for use with a mouse. Didn't make it because it was still a great game and this was the first version I played.
Top Gun. Because flight sims are gay and the landing process was a total bitch. Didn't make it because I was already using several games based on movies.
Jaws. Because the 1980s and Jaws go together like bees and Macaulay Culkin in My Girl. Didn't make it because it would have been one movie game too many.
Dr. Mario. Because I never really liked it. Removed to make room for Mario Brothers, which I hate a whole lot more.
Ernie's Big Splash. Because it's a Sesame Street game. Didn't make it because I was a few years beyond its target demographic when I first played it.
OK, so I didn't include those crappy Mega Man 8 bosses, sue me. Mega Man 8 didn't come out in North America until 1997 and that's clearly outside my stated area of focus, which is 1980-1995. But let's look at what you do get: 54 Mega Man bosses complete with commentary and arbitrary coolness ratings.
Written as two separate articles, The Mortal Kombat Fatality Extravaganza covers the fatalities, friendships, babalities, and animalities of the arcade versions of Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II, and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. This one took a lot of time, because it's hard to get screenshots that really convey the full effect of some fatalities, but it was a lot of fun too. Other people seem to love this piece too. It is my popular article to date and it has been linked to on several forums and blogs. Although it was written for entertainment purposes, the extravaganza can also been used a reference guide since it does contain the button movements for all of the fatalities, most of which were the same in the home versions.
Yes, my first article is still my favorite. It established the tone and style of the site and some of my best picture captions are featured here. Unfortunately, I really blew my load with this one, so to speak. This game has always been a guilty pleasure of mine and I wanted to hold off on reviewing it until the site reached some modicum of popularity. I didn't, and now it's been pushed to bottom of the third index page where new visitors are unlikely to see it. If you never read this one, fucking read it now.
And if you're interested, here are the top ten SydLexia.com by number of hits between June 1, 2005 and October 31, 2005:
1. The Mortal Kombat Fatality Extravaganza
2. November Rain
3. Syd Lexia on Michael Jackson's Moonwalker
4. Hulk Hogan & The Wrestling Boot Band - Hulk Rules
5. Street Fighter
6. The Real Super Mario Bros. 2
7. The 20 Worst NES Games You Might Have Actually Played
8. Mega Man Mania: The Robots of Dr. Wily
9. Salute Your Shorts - Donkeylips and Sponge Weigh-In
10. You Can't Do That On Television
Site News and Random Shit
I established a SydLexia.com news section on December 8, 2004 with the help of WordPress. Once it was up, I wasn't sure what to do with it. Initially, I did use for it for news, but I quickly grew tired of posting two sentence updates. That, and I realized it was probably less fun when I ruined the surprise of what the next article would be. To make matters worse, spammers quickly found the news section and began posting phentermine ads and poker links. I was able to mod away this problem, but I still hadn't found a proper use for Site News and Random Shit. I would eventually decide to concentrate on the "random shit" part and Fun With Search Engines would rise to the occasion. If you haven't already heard the story of FWSE, it goes like this: Fun With Search Engines started on 12/28/04 when I was going through my site logs and noticed that someone had found my site using the keywords "euphemize cat". This amused me greatly, so I posted about it in the news section. I thought that reviewing the searches that brought visitors to my site was a rather interesting premise and it wasn't being done on any of the other sites that I visited, so I decided to run with it. A second installment followed on 01/09/05, then another, then another. These days, FWSE doesn't just appear in the news section, it dominates it. If you haven't been reading the site since the beginning, you probably haven't taken the time to read all the old news posts. Most of the aren't worth reading anyway, so I'll save you the time by linking you to the best ones in ascending chronological order:
SydLexia.com is not a webcomic.
Fun With Search Engines VII: The New Blood
Fun With Search Engines XI: Jesus Died So The Cadbury Bunny Could Live
Coming soon to theatres near you!
OMG! Look at the date!
In Regards To Pop Culture
Fun With Search Engines #20: Former President Andrew Jackson Is Dead
Jennifer Wilbanks Can Burn In Hell
Sic and Sicker
Old School Syd Lexia
Drunk Driving PSA Are Fucking Retarded
A Dark Day In Internet History
Guess what? Color bars fucking suck.
In February of 2004, I attempted to poll site visitors as to which movie they would like to see me review. I put a link to the poll on the main page to help promote it and my intention was to keep it going until there was a definite winner. Unfortunately, the free polling script that Ballot-Box.net offers is not very well coded. One of my friends discovered that he could vote many times at once by using Tab to highlight the vote button and then furiously mashing the Enter key. Thus, the poll was ruined. I didn't feel like restarting it, so I took it off the main page and never spoke of it again. The results were deleted due to account inactivity, but through the magic of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, you can see what they looked like at an indeterminate point in time. Now that I have forums, I don't imagine I'll ever do a poll in the news blog again. Oh well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Can a guy with a digital camera and no artistic ability whatsoever run a successful webcomic? Probably not. But The NES Drinking Saga was never meant to be a serious endeavor. I started doing comics as a joke and people liked them. Looking back at some of the earlier Drinking Saga ones, I've noticed the text is pretty hard to read and they could stand some retouching. Unfortunately, the master photographs were deleted long ago so all I have left to work with is comics themselves, so I kinda wish I had taken them a little more seriously when I did them. I've always felt that if I had better drawing skills that I could make some great comics, but that's just me. However, some of my comics have been bashed pretty harshly on Portal of Evil, so maybe I suck. Then again, those same people find Alien Loves Predator funny, so maybe they're on crack.
The Stuff You Might Have Missed
There are a lot of random side pages on the site. This section is dedicated to the ones you might have missed. Here they are:
SydLexia.com The Webcomic
Where it's from: The Motley Crue article
What it is: My very first webcomic.
Where it's from: FWSE #15
What it is: A random haiku featuring King Koopa and Mr. Big's "To Be With You"
Where it's from: Random news post
What it is: A fake mailbag featuring spam I received
Top Secret Zelda Tips
Where it's from: The NES Game Packs article
What it is: Fraudulent Zelda tips
Schindler's List II: Out For Justice
Where it's from: Site News and Random Shit
What it is: A fake movie poster featuring Terry Schiavo's dad
Orange Ninja haiku.
Where it's from: FWSE #2
What it is: A Bad Dudes haiku
The "Classic" Index Page
Where it's from: the forums
What it is: The main page setup prior to 09/19/05
Naming Your Emo Band
Where it's from: FWSE #30
What it is: A fake advertisement
Ted Kennedy Is Worse Than Hitler
Where it's from: FWSE #37
What it is: A satire of modern political commentary
Hillary Clinton's Cookies
Where it's from: Mortal Kombat Fatality Extravaganza, Part II
What it is: Hillary Clinton's cookie recipe
Arcade Games of 1990: A Brief Comparison
Where it's from: The Hammerin' Harry article
What it is: Exactly what it says
Which Adventure Island Area Boss Are You?
Where it's from: Part 2 of the Adventure Island article
What it is: A Quizilla quiz
Error 403: Forbidden
Where it's from: Going somewhere you shouldn't
What it is: The site's 403 error page
Error 404: Page Not Found
Where it's from: You fucking up
What it is: The site's 404 error page
Error 500: Internal Server Error
Where it's from: A server error
What it is: The site's 500 error page
Well, that it's. The site was successfully renewed, so it'll be up at least another year and we'll see where it goes from there. I really do enjoy doing the site, so hopefully it'll be around for years to come. I'd like to thank everyone who's come to the site, especially those of you who keep coming back. I hope you all enjoy reading my shit as much as I enjoy writing it. Oh, and if you're not on the forums, PLEASE FUCKING JOIN THEM. I won't ask twice. Good night, and good luck.
Posted by: Syd Lexia