Before I answered the call of the Internet, I was originally planning to be a writer and prior to ten years ago, I had only limited experience with the Internet, mainly using it to look up the latest movies in development. That was before the rise of social media as we know it today. My foray into the Internet actually began when I set up my first email address on Yahoo in November 2005 and it was there where I first came up with my unique and prestigious username, Blackcatloner.
Three months later in February 2006, I discovered blogging and I signed up for my first social media site on the long-since-extinct Yahoo 360 site where I first started blogging. Being that I did not have a computer or a digital camera at the time, I had to have a friend of mine who I was working with at Walmart at the time scan some photos of myself to put up online so that way I was not starting out blogging without people knowing what I look like. That was one thing I learned early on when I was starting out in social media where you have to have a picture of yourself otherwise not many people would want to get to know you.
At the same time, I was researching for a book on the famous Chester Gillette murder case better known as “the murder that will never die.” To coincide with the centennial commemoration events and to share what I learned about the case in preparation for my book, I opened up a blog site on Blogger devoted to that case. I called the site Chester and Grace: The Real American Tragedy. Even though I do not really update on the site anymore primarily because I pretty much covered everything about the case that needed to be covered, the site is still up on Blogger.
I still continued to move deeper into the world of social media eventually signing up for Myspace back when it was still the social networking site of choice. However I could not use it at the public library because the library had a rule in place primarily to curb people from misusing it. Even in those days people were misusing social media. I eventually learned that the library up at Herkimer College was open to the public and I started going up there the following year to use Myspace.
It was while I was getting started in the world of social media that I first discovered YouTube. I signed up for my YouTube account under the username Blackcatloner on October 30, 2006 which is pretty easy to remember because the day before that is my anniversary at work. So as of October 2015, I will have been making videos on YouTube for nine years. Now ironically, I was not originally planning to make videos being I did not have either a video camera or Internet access especially since I was operating out of the public library in H-town.
Then 2006 turned into 2007 and I ended my run on Yahoo 360 when I decided to launch my Blackcatloner website in March of that year. I originally had it on Blogger along with my Gillette blog until 2009 when I exported the Blackcatloner site to Wordpress where it has been ever since. In the meantime, I started becoming addicted to watching YouTube videos and eventually it dawned on me that maybe I should be making videos. But the one thing that really decided things for me was the day I watched a video by Cory “Mr. Safety” Williams known as “The Mean Kitty Song.” And that is pretty much why I cited Mr. Safety as an influence for my YouTube career when I eventually started making videos.
When I first started doing videos, I uploaded my videos through a site called onetruemedia.com where I decided to upload cat photo montages since you know, cats are usually a top draw and a source for humor on the Interwebs. That while I still did not have a video camera, I ended up successfully uploading the first cat montage video to YouTube on January 5, 2008. I went on to upload a total of twenty-one cat montages while at the same time, I got my first video camera for my thirtieth birthday. I managed to film some live cat videos for the Internet while biding my time when I would eventually reveal myself on YouTube.
And eventually on May 21, 2008 I filmed and uploaded my first vlog to YouTube and it was a movie review of the film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. And though I admitted that it’s not as good as Raiders of the Lost Ark or Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade but I am in the camp that puts Crystal Skull over Temple of Doom. And I am probably gonna get some flak for this but deal with it. No matter what I thought of the movie, with that minute and a half video I finally made the transition from blogging to YouTube. Although the Indiana Jones vlog did not get a lot of hits, I followed it up with what is by far my most popular video to date: “The Librarian.”
The idea for “The Librarian” came when I came across a video by popular YouTuber LisaNova where she was offering to do collab videos with other YouTubers using many of her popular characters that she used in her videos. The characters ranged from Emo LisaNova, Naughty Nurse LisaNova, Librarian LisaNova, Drunk LisaNova, and I think there was even a Rambo LisaNova character. All of the characters were dressed provocatively with cleavage showing which remains a trademark for a lot of female YouTubers to this day. I ended up using the Librarian one because I felt at the time that it would be the easiest one to do.
I actually did the video with a flashback-type storyline played primarily for laughs. It started with me sitting at the computer in my living room at the time before cutting to the Librarian LisaNova clips. The portions with me in the library was actually shot in the gift shop at the Herkimer County Historical Society and I know it does not really match up but at least for my purposes it worked out for the best. And it was pretty well-received and like I said to this date it is my most popular video on YouTube with nearly 10,000 hits.
And what followed after that was me filming videos whenever I felt like it and I did some videos in that period that are no longer on the channel because they have either become redundant or I just didn’t like the quality. But keep in mind I was just starting out at the time but as far as I went, I was technically too far behind the rest of the elite YouTubers because while I was starting out on YouTube with slightly primitive equipment and Windows Movie Maker, the elite YouTubers were upgrading their videos to high definition and widescreen. It took me a while to do that but as time went on, I was able to figure out how to render my videos in HD using Movie Maker and I did a video on that too. It got quite a bit of hits, but I ended up taking the video down because I do admit the video quality was bad and I was using a really shitty headset mic which made my voice sound all garbled.
While I was trying to keep up with the Joneses, I also dabbled in BlogTV back when that was a thing. It was a site where YouTubers could interact with each other and do live shows. My only outing doing a live show was kind of a disaster. I had tried to do another one later on but I either cancelled due to lack of nerves or bad timing. Right now I am fully aware of Google Hangout but right now with me finishing up school and my new responsibilities at work, I don’t really have the time to do another live show. Personally I think it is better just to do videos.
Throughout the course of my career I have experimented with video ideas that worked or didn’t work. For example, in 2009 I got the idea to do news partly from watching Philip DeFranco where he did a news show (and as far as I know he still does) where he talks about news stories that have been happening and then adds his own thoughts which are usually in the form of snarky remarks and I’m like “Hey, I can do that.” But the thing was that he threw around the “f-word” a lot and at the time I was trying to keep my content as PG-rated as possible. As a result, I ended up starting the Black Cat Weekly news series. I ended up doing five videos where I covered stories such as a dead chupacabra, the official launching of the People of Walmart website and I even did a rant about Kanye West’s infamous stunt at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards where he interrupted Taylor Swift after she won an award. You remember the whole “I think you’re really talented. Imma let you finish, but Beyoncé had the greatest video of all time!” Basically my take on the story was me telling Kanye to shut the fuck up. Of course I had to censor myself where I had a beep sound effect whenever I said the word fuck.
While I was doing the Black Cat Weekly series, I did get praise for one story I did and it was about a gay teenager in Mohawk who sued the Mohawk School District (it has since merged with the Ilion School District) for not doing enough to help him against bullies that were tormenting him, beating him up and even making death threats against him. The case ended with the teen winning and the school paying his college tuition so to speak. And as the result of the video I got a comment from the teen himself thanking me for getting his story out. If I could get that kind of response, then I have really made a difference.
But otherwise, the series as a whole was not very well-received. In fact, the haters came out in force, especially with the last Black Cat Weekly video I did because in addition to the story about Kanye West’s shenanigans at the MTV Movie Awards, I also included a story about one of Charles Manson’s accomplices being released from prison and being relocated to the Mohawk Valley and I really got hit by Manson supporters calling me a clown just like the media for still thinking that Manson is a killer. He is. So I ended up taking down the video but not before cutting the Manson story and reuploading the video as just the Kanye West story. In the end, I eventually took the whole video down. But that didn’t mean I didn’t get a chance to abuse the haters in reply comments where I managed to include the word hater in capital letters which is my way of marking them in case people who offer positive feedback will know who they are. Because in truth, haters are people who do nothing constructive but attack those who actually do something. In fact many hater channels that I got actually had either no videos on their channel or they had videos that weren’t really all that interesting.
In fact the only existing videos that are left from the Black Cat Weekly era are the “Gay Teen” video and the “Chupacabra Pops Alli at Walmart” video and both had really high view counts so it wouldn’t really make sense to take them down. But in the end, the Black Cat Weekly was a failure. I probably should’ve had thicker skin but even though I had been on YouTube for only a year when I did the Black Cat Weekly, I still was not really ready to get negative backlash because that’s what happens in news and still does today.
But then again each video I put up has been a learning experience as far as what works and what doesn’t work as well as how YouTube works and how to deal with certain aspects such as the haters and other stuff. And also during the Black Cat Weekly era I discovered Blip as a possible alternative video upload site where I could make money off my videos.
However about a month later, I decided to get a little revenge on the haters for the failure of the Black Cat Weekly by creating a masked character. And thank goodness it was Halloween season at work because I was able to find a clear plastic mask similar to the ones AngryAussie wore in his videos back when he first started out. I got a plastic mask which is supposed to make the wearer look like a horribly scarred person. And I saw the scars as kind of a metaphor for a hater who gets attacked for being an asshole to people who actually create videos. So I cut out the jaw just like AngryAussie did for his masks and lo and behold, Mr. Hater was born.
To complete the Mr. Hater character, all I had to do was turn my hat backwards and put on a silly voice because that’s pretty much what haters sound like. And I decided for this character’s debut that I would subject him to a little video that everyone on the Internet has pretty much heard about: 2girls1cup. And by having Mr. Hater being subjected to 2girls1cup, I decided to make a video with a moral attached to it by telling people not to be haters. It’s a moral I know nobody will listen to because there have been haters since the beginning of time and there always will be haters.
So far I have done two solo videos with Mr. Hater and he’s popped up on occasion in other vlogs I did. So will I do another solo video as Mr. Hater? Very likely yes. You will definitely be seeing more of Mr. Hater in the future.
Then a couple months later, I decided to take my videos in another direction partly because at the time I was watching Charles Trippy’s daily vlog series Internet Killed Television, I decided to do a vlog series where I shot around town and showed videos of me doing stuff. The only problem was that I didn’t have the time, discipline or the resources to do a daily vlog series. So I opted instead to do a weekly vlog series which I called The Adventures of Blackcatloner which ironically was the original name of my website. But if you think doing a weekly vlog series is easy, well I’ll let you in on a little secret: It isn’t. There were days I actually missed for one reason or another and there were days where I actually did filler episodes. But from February 2010 until June 2011 I was able to film stuff around town and talk about things that were going on in my day-to-day life and it was there where I filmed the world’s largest omelet being made by Crazy Otto’s Empire Diner in H-town. But probably the most important event that I filmed there was when Sylvester Stallone and Mike Tyson were inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in June 2011.
Then tragedy struck. Shortly after I uploaded that video, the computer that I was editing my videos on got a virus and I was unable to film, edit or upload videos for a while which turned out for the best because during my downtime, I was starting college at Herkimer College where I was originally majoring in Radio/TV Broadcasting. And for the most part, I credit my success in college to the fact that I was on YouTube and my blogging career. Also during my downtime on YouTube, I learned that I can upload videos as long as I want and I could also monetize my videos.
Then after I got past my first semester, I finally got a laptop for school the following semester. I eventually picked up where I left off but not until I learned about YouTube’s plan to make every content creator a partner as opposed to what channel can bring in the most subscribers and my channel qualified for this so I gladly accepted it. However I did not start making videos until the summer and I picked up right where I left off. And as an added twist, I decided to do regular movie reviews partly because I started watching The Nostalgia Critic at the time and my plan was to review both new movies that came out in theaters as well movies that have been around a while. It also helped that I saw some pretty big movies that year, such as The Avengers, the Spider-Man reboot and The Dark Knight Rises. It felt good that I decided to do on a regular basis something that I have only done sporadically early in my career. I had only done a couple of movie reviews at that point but I have an opportunity to make jokes in the reviews which is kind of the norm on the Internet.
There were some reviews that I had taken down for various reasons such as a review I did on the 2009 Star Trek reboot which I did after I saw that in theaters and most of the other reviews I did in that time period are long-gone but I do plan on redoing reviews of those movies in the future. Also I had originally planned on keeping the reviews separate from my regular videos. In fact I created a separate channel for the reviews both on YouTube and on Blip.
And of course I continued with the weekly vlogs, picking up right where I left off. I even filmed some portions of my time on campus because I was going into my third semester at Herkimer College. In fact, since I was a Radio/TV major at the time, I was practically encouraged to continue filming videos on campus. In fact I also filmed the weather segments for the HCTV Channel 99 news segments. But after the semester ended and Christmas came, I made it to fifty-two vlogs which is equivalent to a full year worth of vlogs despite the fact that it took me nearly two years to make that goal. And it was after the Christmas vlog that I decided to end the weekly vlogs and stick to doing random vlogs.
With the vlogs I decided to include vlogs based on projects I did in school. For example, the rant I did about paying on dating sites was based on a paper I did for Creative Writing. Also both my “Twilight Ruins Relationships” and my “Why American Men Should Date Foreign Women” vlogs were based on projects I did for my Voice and Diction class but other than that a lot of my vlogs were original and I eventually incorporated the reviews into my vlogs. At the same time, I also started doing Mystery Science Theater 3000-style riffs on Public Domain educational movies starting with a movie called Health- Your Posture. Since then I have done several riffs including one on the notorious anti-gay film Boys Beware as well as the 1930’s exploitation film Sex Madness. The riffs are a lot of fun and I have decided to make that part of my normal batch of videos.
There was a time where I was toying with the idea of leaving YouTube to post material on Blip. So throughout the remainder of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, I was posting my new vlogs and riffs to Blip partly because the Blip players worked really well on my website even though I know a lot of people complained about how slow the players were. But two things happened that forced me come back to YouTube: First, I picked up a computer virus that pretty much screwed up and eventually killed my first laptop. However I was able to get a few videos put up on YouTube as well as Blip before my laptop died.
Then the second problem arose. I got an email from Blip saying that they were gonna cancel my channel. Thankfully a lot of my vlogs that I had up on the channel were already on YouTube but the remaining videos needed to be reedited before I could put them up, a couple of them for copyright reasons despite the fact that I uploaded the videos to Blip while following the guidelines of Fair Use as defined under the Digital Millennium Communications Act. So I had to wait until late August when I got my current laptop and I was at the start of the Fall 2014 semester. As a result I managed to get the rest of the videos I edited for Blip back on YouTube and at the same time I have been able to do new videos and I have been back on YouTube ever since.
And as it stands now, I have no intentions of leaving YouTube anytime soon and at the same time, you will be seeing more of Blackcatloner for as long as I am able to continue doing the videos. Which I am hoping will be forever.