Welcome to the official Project AFTER homepage! If this is your first time visiting, then please come in and enjoy the site's many exciting and comical features* that exist solely for your entertainment. Please feel free to bookmark the site in case you want to come back and view it again at a later time. Return visitors are almost unheard of around here, but hey, maybe you'll have unusually low standards or something. "But hold on a minute. What is this 'Project AFTER' phenomenon you speak of, anyway?" If that's what you were thinking just now, then congratulate yourself for pondering a damn good question! First, let's start with the meaning behind the site's rather cryptic title. Project A.F.T.E.R. is actually an acronym for:

Project Anime Fanfiction: Twisted Entertainment Review


This previously top-secret operation is the result of many years of costly and tiresome research to discover what exactly is causing modern society to plunge into its current downward spiral toward oblivion. Astonishingly, all test results have thus far pointed to one horrifying conclusion. War, pollution, disease, world hunger, natural disasters, cosplayers... They all stem from the same vile source: bad anime fanfiction.

Admittedly, it may seem harmless enough at first glance, but in reality it is a potent, all-consuming evil that has silently corrupted humanity since the dawn of time (and, by "the dawn of time", I mean the mid 1980s). Today, bad anime fanfiction is content to waste your precious online web-surfing time with its seemingly never-ending tedium and idiocy that has infected hundreds upon hundreds of unsuspecting websites. Tomorrow, however, it may very well be out murdering your children and setting fire to your homes.

While the future may seem ridden with pain and despair, all is not lost! Through Project AFTER, a creation that can only be described as a demonstration of human ingenuity at its finest, I will select promising pieces of anime fanfiction that have unfortunately ended up in the realm of awfulness. By providing an astute running commentary within the fanfiction, I hope to inform readers of how to identify bad fanfics, and even more importantly, how to avoid writing them. Such a concept may seem to some of you like little more than an uninspired way for me to publicly display malicious outbursts of rage to help me deal with my own inner suffering while garnering attention from strangers over the internet, but I assure you that I am doing this strictly for the good of humanity! Why? Because that's just the kind of selfless guy I am.

If you're interested in learning more about my epic struggle to save all mankind, then please feel free to take a look around the site and see what one man is doing to save the world which he so dearly loves... One bad fanfiction at a time.

*Note: Features contained within this site are not guaranteed to be exciting or comical.

 

 

 

 

News and Updates

 

 

September 27, 2014

I could write up a lengthy post explaining why PA has been inactive for so many months, but I feel like that would be a waste of everyone's time. The important thing is what comes next, right? As the great philosopher Bruce Lee said, "Running water never grows stale, so you just have to keep on flowing." Let's be water, my friends.

If this happens to be your first time on the internet, I can only recommend you run as far away from this and every other online-enabled device as you can. All the free pornography and Cyber Monday sales aren't worth the mental anguish and misanthropy-induced depression the net will inevitably plunge you into. If, however, you've been entangled in the World Wide Web for more than a day, there's a decent chance you've encountered some mention of Gamergate by now. Because I can't imagine anyone ever getting sick of this topic, I invite you to check out Gamergate: What Went Wrong. Whether you've been following the scandal from the beginning or lack the faintest clue what all the hubbub is about, this thorough play-by-play will get you up to speed on all the sordid details of one of the biggest controversies to rock the internet this month.

My original plan for this article was to shop it around to a handful of sub-mainstream gaming news sites to see if anyone was interesting in picking it up. While increased exposure and the possibility of some compensation were tempting, I felt a little guilty handing away content when my own site was so long overdue for an update. Not only is the piece now a PA exclusive, but the version hosted here is significantly less processed than the one I'd intended to market (for example, the original version had 100% fewer instances of the term "assclowns").

Regrettably, as much as I relish the creative freedom, the lack of expansion into more potentially profitable territory is something I can't keep up much longer. Times are tough, and bandwidth ain't free. Accepting donations has allowed me to continuing focusing on this site while reducing the burden of server fees during a stretch when paying the essential bills hasn't left much in the bank. I know I'm not the only one tightening his belt right now, but anything at all is appreciated. If you want to see this site continue to grow and have even a couple bucks to spare, every little bit helps immensely.

 

 

December 24, 2013

Well, this is embarrassing. Even though overshooting a planned timeframe for an update has become a trademark feature of my MO, I usually don't miss the target by multiple months with nothing to show for it.

I have a whole freight car full of excuses I could dump all over this post to fill space, but I'd just be wasting everyone's time. To cut to the chase, the second half of 2013 has been a hectic time for me. Some rather sobering events have recently led me to rearrange my priorities, and PA wound up in a position much further down the list than it previously occupied. Hence the coating of dust you've no doubt noticed gradually accumulating on this page.

The good news is that I haven't pushed this site off of my radar completely. I've got multiple new pieces of content already in the works, in fact. That major redesign I teased in the last update is still scheduled to go live as well, although it will likely be happening later than I originally planned. Things are moving forward. They're moving slowly, but I'm okay with that—my hope is that you all are, too.

At the beginning of this year, I asked everyone still following PA for their patience as I tried to get some things in my personal life sorted out and set to work figuring out where the hell I was going with this site and its community. I believe I got exactly what I asked for, and for that I am immeasurably grateful. I only wish I had a better way to express my appreciation for everyone's support and dedication than with another nebulous promise that new material is just beyond the horizon. Regrettably, the only gift I have to give my readers this Christmas Eve is the gift of hesitant optimism. Think of this as a sort of Project AFTER empty box campaign, I guess.

The one item on my to-do list for the site I was able to cross off is completing some long overdue maintenance on the Links page. A couple new links are up, while a few more have been axed—most notably, VG Cats has finally been removed from my personal lineup of choice online attractions. Because fuck you anyway, Scott Ramsoomair. I gave you chance after chance to be funny again, and what do you do? Start hawking Nigel Thornberry and doge meme t-shirts!? You piece of shit. You miserable waste of physical matter.

But I digress. Check out the updated Links page if you want my recommendations for some good ways to keep busy during the remainder of the site's hibernation. I'd actually like to recommend you leave the house and meet some people, maybe learn a new skill or something, BUT we all know THAT ain't happening anytime soon! Not when wasting your life is this blissfully easy.

Have yourselves a merry little Christmas, folks. Hope to see you back here in 2014.

 

 

August 30, 2013

Truth be told, I never have any idea how to begin these news posts. Anniversary updates are no different. Today marks exactly ten years since Project AFTER first appeared on the internet. I think that requires me to write a few words here, but damned if I'm not having a tough time figuring out what they should say.

First off, I believe some thanks are in order. My sincerest gratitude goes out to everyone who has supported PA at any time over the course of the last decade, whether it was through contributing content to the site, bringing your thoughts to the forums, participating in the Cosplay Caption Contest, expressing your support in an e-mail, or even being one of the raging basket cases responsible for any of the fanfiction I've torn to shreds—in one way or another, all of you have had a hand in crafting the virtual wonderland that is Project AFTER. This is a victory I share with all of you. If you have any champagne on hand (a little vodka and ginger ale will do in a pinch), I invite you to drink up.

Since I have no idea what else to write about, I'm going to take this opportunity to answer a question I've been waiting ten years for someone to ask me: "Why do you want to run your own website?"

I understand why no one pitched me this question in the early days of the site's existence. I've already explained how PA was created out of necessity due to my inability to find anyone who wanted to host my malicious fanfiction reviews on their site. [On a side note, I have to quickly mention how awesome it feels knowing that not one of the sites that turned down my offer for free content made it to their tenth anniversary before fading into obscurity and going offline.] You have to remember, the internet was quite a different place in 2003; in those days, starting your own website as a creative outlet was simply what people did. If you had any kind of content you wanted to show off on the web, your options were extremely limited. The only thing that even remotely resembled the current definition of a social networking site at the time was LiveJournal, which offered very little flexibility for users who wanted to customize how their content was displayed to viewers. Really, if you wanted to share anything besides a post revealing which of your high school friends were giving each other HJs in the bathroom and how that put you in an emotional state that could only be described through the lyrics of a My Chemical Romance song, your only option was registering your own domain and building a personal site on which you could strut your stuff. I started my own website because, back in '03, everybody started their own website.

What I find a little strange is the fact that no one has asked me why I want to run my own site in more recent years. After all, things have changed a lot since 2003. MySpace and LinkedIn both rolled onto the scene the same year as PA and brought with them the beginning of the end of the personal website. The social networking community quickly became the new standard for individuals and groups wanting to establish their presence online. The ease of setting up one's own "page" combined with the lack of hosting fees and the myriad of in-built networking tools made the self-contained website model obsolete with remarkable efficiency. In the present day, the non-corporate .com address has become such a rarity that continuing to operate one practically makes you a Luddite. Facebook and Tumblr are electricity, and here we are, the stubborn fools who needlessly stumble around in the darkness, bashing our elbows and stubbing our toes in the process of filling our lamps with fresh kerosene each night. In more ways than one, we are chasing the dinosaur.

It isn't as though running a website of even moderate success is a simple task, either. Whereas the wordsmith on Blogger and the illustrator on deviantART can rely on a completely automated system to bring their work to the attention of others through the magic of keyword searches and related content windows and recommended reading lists, I have to rely on promotion through an shaky combination of word of mouth and the occasional Google hit (my tracking statistics show that visitors brought here from the latter source spend an average of less than one minute on the site before leaving). Of course, I also have the option of buying ad space, in which case I can roll the dice that my banner will be displayed for someone who doesn't have ad blocking software installed, notices the ad, feels compelled to make the effort to click on it, and happens to belong to the miniscule niche audience this site appeals to. Statistics say I'd be smarter to wager my money at the blackjack tables in Vegas. Another luxury I don't have is a team of professional web designers constantly coding new features and reconfiguring every aspect of my site for optimized viewing on the latest web-browsing gadget to hit the shelves at Best Buy. If I want my site to be more Web 2.0 friendly, the process involves me reading web design magazines at a Walgreens until I get kicked out, attempting to copy some rough approximation of what I saw into the site's raw HTML code, hitting Ctrl+Z approximately eleven thousand times, then giving up and hoping nobody notices the giant string of swear words left in the source code where the OpenID-enabled comment box was supposed to go.

My reward for sacrificing the time and effort required to keep the site "active" with semi-regular updates is the same reward received by many of the Web 1.0 pioneers who came before me: dead silence and the sight of a line graph that indicates no substantial change in the number of search engine bots that visit my domain name in the average 24-hour period. My work is sometimes acknowledged by a few dedicated regulars on the forums (a fact for which I am genuinely appreciative), but it pales in comparison to the attention garnered by the social media celebrity who uploads a new Death Note parody dub onto YouTube or posts a ten-panel comic on Tumblr exploring what would happen if the worlds of My Little Pony and Doctor Who collided in an explosion of manic-depressive eroticism. No amount of effort on my part can possibly compete with automatic instantaneous alerts that notify a community of millions whenever anything they've expressed interest in is updated, just as no amount of effort from my supporters can match a system where people are able to validate a person's existence with the click of a "like" button. Even my Twitter profile—my solitary foray into the accursed realm of social networking—sees followers increase at a snail's pace since I don't have a live feed embedded into the site's front page or update my status ten times an hour.

I could talk about the financial burden of running a private site, but I'd rather not. The last time I sat down to run some numbers was over a year ago, when I started to tally up everything I've spent just on fees for hosting and domain renewal. When I realized the total broke four digits, I threw up in my mouth and went to bed six hours early with all of my clothes on.

I don't mean to complain about my circumstances or cast myself as a martyr on a doomed mission to bring anyone free entertainment at the cost of my emotional wellbeing. This is simply the reality of the situation. This is the reality that leads me to wonder why, in ten years of doing this, no one has thought to ask me why I do it. Maybe everyone just chalked it up to the insanity and was too polite to confirm their suspicions.

In truth, the reason I continue to work on this isolated site in this antiquated system is because I still want to put stuff on the internet without having to deal with a bunch of bullshit.

But hold on, there. Didn't I just finish basically whining about all the bullshit I have to put with as an oldschool .com webmaster? I should clarify my terminology: The above paragraphs contain explanations of the shit I have to put up with as a webmaster. As I see it, shit is every undesirable, stress-inducing, or potentially harmful facet of any undertaking one is required to endure in order to accomplish anything worthwhile. When you're mining for precious jewels, chipping away at the bedrock and pushing heavy carts full of sediment and outrunning the occasional cave-in is all part of the shit you have to deal with in order to finish the job with a bag full of a million dollars worth of gems. No matter what we do, we all find ourselves facing down a mountain of shit at some point or another. Life is absolutely chock full of shit.

Bullshit, in contrast, is all the unnecessary shit we shouldn't have to wade through that winds up in our path thanks to the stupidity and greed of other people. Social media sites are notorious for overflowing with rivers and lakes and oceans of bullshit. You see this bullshit every time someone makes a thoughtful observation and has their post or tweet or status update or whatever ripped apart by people claiming the author's privilege negates any value in their message because they failed to acknowledge the plight of all the poor little black girls trapped inside the bodies of 37-year-old Hispanic men. You see this same bullshit in a far more heavily concentrated form when someone else cracks an innocent joke and Johnny Attention Whore jumps up shouting how he was cyberbullied and fires off a few suicide-threatening messages to the police.

Aside from being comparatively free of bullshit, there's also another significant benefit to being in charge of your own site: You own it. You are in control; not just of the content itself, but the way it's arranged and presented, what surrounds it, who can see it... Everything. You don't get the team of professionals maintaining your work, but you also don't get those same professionals making comically idiotic decisions and mangling your work without any power to stop them.

I stated before that the personal site is presently on the verge of extinction. This is true. Fortunately, nothing on the internet has to stay dead forever. In some small capacity, something is happening; something akin to the first signs of new growth pushing up from beneath a field of charred stumps after a massive forest fire. People—that is, creative individuals with actual passion for what they produce—are beginning to emerge from the abyss of the social network to find the ruins of the larger internet, and I believe some of them are seeing the potential for something new. For this first feint light of what could be a new dawn for the privately-operated website, we have to thank the abject ineptitude of those who run the gigantic social communities. They're the ones who earn their paychecks deleting videos because of a five-second clip of a copyrighted song; forcing upgrades that completely obliterate the custom layouts users spent weeks designing; banning accounts for "adult material" because of a single photograph where a woman's nipples were visible through the fabric of her shirt; removing material because of unverified reports of a TOS violation that no one even knew existed because it was never enforced; and all the other bullshit driving more and more people away from the corporate behemoths of the internet and forcing them to reexamine their options.

Seeing what appears to be the early stages of a mass digital migration fills me with hope. I'm not so stuck in my ways that I can't see social communities have their place on the web, nor am I so naive as to believe they'll ever go away. The likes of Facebook and Tumblr (and maybe even the big-budget art and writing communities with ads plastered all over every spare pixel) make for inferior creative outlets, though, and I'm glad to see more people beginning to realize they have alternatives.

Despite the unavoidable hassles involved, I would enthusiastically encourage anyone to start their own website. Aside from the power and freedom that come with having control over your very own plot of online real estate, there's a kind of authenticity to the personal site I find most social communities lack. I don't know quite how to describe it... The best analogy I can think of is to liken it to selecting a place to live. Setting up a profile on some social networking site or a blog generator is like renting an apartment: it's cheap and you have a landlord who will fix leaky faucets for you, but you can't change the wallpaper or the carpet and you'll probably get kicked out if you make too much noise. Creating your own website on your own server is like buying an acre of land and building a house on it: the process is expensive and requires a lot of back-breaking work, but when you're done, what you have is wholly yours and yours alone. As long as you're not brazenly breaking the law, you can do literally whatever the hell you want. Feel like having a kitchen on both floors and a walk-in freezer in the attic? You can do that. Want a hot tub in the living room? Make it happen! Think every third Sunday of each month should be Naked Fight Club Night in your basement? Quit teasin' and get those invitations printed up!

The freedom is nearly limitless, and it is intoxicating. There's more to it than that, though. Your website, your custom-built house that you made according to your own blueprints, isn't just yours—it's you. A well-designed site is the canvas on which you can fashion the digitized essence of your own personal style. You're not just filling the gallery; you're responsible for the architecture of the building itself and every shape and color of everything inside of it. Your site, should you decide the effort needed to create the thing is worth it, can be a reflection of everything you are and aspire to be. I think that's amazing. I also think it's a miserable waste that I have to look at a thousand identical web pages with different names in the header and mile-long lists of profiles that all fuse together to create a jumbled texture of sans-serif banality when I could be filling my monitor with an interactive carnival ride through someone's most vivid desires and personal wisdom. Even if you're just another face in the crowd, you don't have to stay camouflaged when you step onto the internet. You can make something as unique and as incredible and as weird as you are. For most people, this will mean the creation of something monumentally obnoxious. So be it. Anything is better than being boring. The surface of this planet is covered in more boredom than water.

The more I think about everything a website can be, the more I inevitably think about everything Project AFTER isn't. Not to rag on the ol' girl; this site has served me well, all things considered. There's a kind of unpretentious hominess to it, and I can usually hand out the URL to people without too much embarrassment for what occupies its pages (even all the old ones that deserve a rewrite now that I've studied something beyond 12th grade English). PA is simply not living up to its potential, however, and that is enough to fill me with a sense of unrest. When I look at the site in its current state, what I see looks unfinished. While I'm hardly leading the cheer praising all the "upgrades" of the New Internet!, I would like to outfit this place with at least a few of the net's more modern amenities. I must admit, it's a disheartening sensation when you pull up your bookmarks and notice that yours is the only link on the entire list without a custom favicon next to it.

For the sake of making sure PA remains a project I can continue to work on with some semblance of pride into the foreseeable future, I've decided to dust off my plans to give the site a new layout and bring its feature set up to speed with the rest of the internet. Given that I first announced my intentions to launch PA 3.0 in early 2010, I wouldn't blame any long-time readers for rolling their eyes right now (even if it does kind of make you an asshole).

As a way to offer some tangible evidence that I'm serious about moving forward with the proposed redesign—and also because I didn't have time to finish anything else for this update—I've decided to pull aside the curtain and show everyone an early preview of what will become a key element of the site's future visual design (and, if I play my cards right, its future merchandising campaign). Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the next logo for Project AFTER:
 


(Click on the image for a larger size.)


Please note that the above image is a preview of a work in progress; the final design will look slightly different. There are still a few minor issues with the geometry of the shape, for one thing, plus the final version will be decked out with gradients and textures and all that bitchin' stuff. As far as the basic design goes, at least, that preview is a fairly close approximation of what the finished logo will look like. I think it turned out pretty cool, personally. At the risk of setting myself up for disappoint, I wouldn't getting some feedback regarding what my readers think of it. I'd ask you to click the "like" button or reblog this post if you're a fan of the design, but, as you already know, I don't have either of those things. The spell checker on my horrendously outdated webpage design program doesn't even think "reblog" is a real word. Frankly, I agree with it.

While I am committed to bringing you all a new and improved PA, I don't intend to rush the process. Having unrealistic expectations regarding how much time and money are required to completely overhaul a site of this size is a large part of the reason the first attempt at building PA 3.0 went tits-up. I'm going to approach the project at a far more leisurely pace this time. In fact, don't expect any major developments on the upgrade before 2014. I want to spend the rest of this year focusing primarily on creating new content, anyway. Even with my schedule likely to become busier in the coming months, I see no reason the site shouldn't be able to finish this year stronger than it started.

The increasing blurriness of the words on my screen tells me I've rambled on for long enough. To recap, running a site is a pain in the keister, but it can be an extremely rewarding experience. If you need proof, consider the following: I can sit here at this desk where I've spent countless hours over the past decade blowing off social engagements and missing sleep to work on material that will earn me no money and zero professional credentials, and I can still get excited looking forward to the idea of revamping everything I've done up to this point in an undertaking that will take many months of my life and many hundreds of dollars from my pocket.

On second thought, forget everything I said before. Don't start your own website. Doing so obviously turns you into a goddamn lunatic.

Once again, thank you to everyone for ten incredible years. Here's to another ten ye— Ahahaha, no, absolutely not. No way. Maybe I'll do another three or four years of this. Maybe. Maybe five, tops. We'll see what happens.

 

 

August 13, 2013

Okay, bit of a late start with this one... How late? Oh, man. I first announced an impending update via Twitter back in May, so this has been in the pipeline for a while. Why the delay? This summer has been a hectic one, complete with appointments, trips, software failures, multiple forum updates, and a number of creative projects all taking a sizable bite out of my schedule. What kinds of projects? How about you quit drilling me like you're acting out some prison rape fantasy and mind your own damn business.

This update isn't about setting up a dealer's table of excuses for my lack of activity, anyway. I've done those before on a few occasions, and people always get (justifiably) annoyed. No, loyal readers, this update is for the purpose of announcing new content! Fans of Comic Release are in for a treat, because today is the day Max-Vader and I drag you kicking and screaming into the nightmarish world of yet another webmanga whose author is a living vacation from everything that makes sense. Even stacked up against our usual targets, this one is a particularly wacky trip. I'll say no more for fear of spoiling the many horrifying surprises that lay ahead. Suffice to say, anyone who's already familiar with the individual behind this comic should feel their toes curl and their bladders empty as soon as they read the title. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare your minds for the avalanche of insanity that is Pastel Defender Heliotrope! Best of luck making it through that one with everything intact upstairs.

As the history buffs among you should already know, the 30th of this month marks this site's tenth anniversary. Although I was hoping to do something suicidally ambitious to mark this milestone, I haven't had the time to plan anything. Tradition dictates I do something to mark the occasion, though, so check back on August 30th (nice and late in the day) to see what hastily thrown-together crap I can come up with to celebrate a decade of hastily thrown-together crap.