...is running a little late.

Actually I'm a writer and coder from Canada, and if you're reading this I have to assume you're lost. Reddit is thataway, pal! If you happen to be here on purpose, hello. There are some blog posts over here. I'll write for you if you pay me. I'll also make you a website. I'd also like to be paid for that.

Awoven Media

Hey, did I mention I make websites?

Hey, eyeballs. It’s me here, MJ Alba, editor-in-chief and minority shareholder of MJ Alba Dot Com. It turns out building an online audience of millions is tougher than I thought it would be when I committed to it thoughtlessly on a whim. Who knew? Certainly not the mysterious benefactors bankrolling this operation, who were assured by one of our staff — no naming names — that content virality was a foregone conclusion to content publication. I mean, every piece of content I’ve ever seen online has been pretty popular. Maybe I’m a trend setter?

Anyway, the expensive social reach report I ordered for this website came back with a score of “NaN” and I find that alarming for polonium-related reasons I’d rather not get into me. I don’t know what a good social reach score looks like, but I’m pretty sure it should be a number or at least some sort of star rating or maybe a thumbs up. A hashtag? Is that what hashtags are? Regardless, I have a pretty urgent need to put something together that more eyeballs than my own will observe.

So I hopped around the internet looking for viral articles to inspire me. It turns out most of the really popular stuff is just lists full of other stuff made by less popular people, a practice I learned was called “artisanal content aggregation.” So I randomly picked 10 such lists and decided to artisanally aggregate the best of their items myself.

Behold, truly, the very best the internet has to offer:

10. Jennifer Lawrence Absolutely SLAYS Jennifer Lopez At The Daytime Jenny Awards

Quick caveat here: the actual content for most of these list items was just unrelated gifs and I couldn’t figure out how to paste those into my pirated copy of Microsoft Word 2003. So it’s really just the headlines I’m curating here. I’m pretty sure nobody’s reading past those, but I’m gonna pad them out with some descriptions anyway as per the advice of an ebook I’m subscribing to, Creating a Digital Media Empire for Dummies.

Also, full disclosure, I’m not gonna be trying very hard. Having a weird day. Hope that’s cool.

9. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Got You Down? The New Dating App From Netflix, Strangers’ Things, Will Make You Feel 🔥🔥🔥 In A Good Way

I should also mention that the sources for these list items were usually nowhere to be found in the, er, “original” articles. At best I’d see a string of seemingly random characters following an @ sign below the gif. Is that what a hashtag is? A unique identifier for some piece of information, so that anybody can accurately verrify it? I seem to recall something like that making the rounds a while back, but it sort of just peter daout.

In any case, swipe me up on Strangers’ Things! My ex-girlfriend and I are taking a little breakup right now, apparently, so for all you MJ Albaliebers out there — now’s your chance! Get it while it’s hot!

8. IKEA’s New Jaw-Dropping Shelving Unit Will Change The Way You Think About Shelving Units

This one actually didn’t have a gif, just a picture of some product reviews and an affiliate link to Amazon Sweden. Does anyone know how to get affiliated with Amazon? Much like a certain breakup-obsessed ex-girlfriend of mine, they won’t return my calls.

7. That Feel When You Were A Dunkaroos Kid But Your Friends Were All About Fruit Roll-Ups

Okay, this one maybe benefits from the gif so I’ll do my best to describe it. It was a half-second loop of the actor Tituss Burgess in a rainbow headband looking aghast while gesticulating dramatically toward the camera. The text below him reads “Sweet baby Jesus!” The verrification hashtag was @fuckjerry, which I’ll repeat to really highlight the importance of crediting sources: fuckfuckjerry.

I’ll admit I got a good laugh out of the gif and clicked to say I liked it, but I don’t know what that says about my childhood. We never had fruit rolls or whatever a dunkaroo is. Mother used to say that soft food made for soft men. Then she’d feed us stale bread and cackle long into the night. As a child it scared me, but looking back I guess it was pretty funny.

6. Mark Twain’s SCATHING Takedown Of Factory Owners: “It’s Called Controlling The Means, Not Being Controlling And Mean!💁

I have to level with you here. I know I promised number 6 would be good but that was just a lie so you would read this far down. This whole thing is as randomly ordered as the original episode broadcast order of a swiftly-canceled cult TV comedy on ABC.

That said, maybe this really is the best list item here? I have a hard time believing it’s a real Mark Twain quote — especially since it includes an emoji that was invented a century after his death — but does that necessarily make it not the apotheosis of internet content? Heck, maybe the inanity is the point. Maybe all these popular lists are just weird, fake, off-putting performance art. Who am I to judge? Besides, this particular made-up quote got over 20,000 likes and that many people can’t be wrong. In the immortal words of Mark Twain: 💁!

5. That Time Banksy Did That Thing At Sotheby’s With The Picture Frame And The Shredder And It Was, Like, In The News Pretty Recently? And Everybody Was Talking About It? Remember?

Welcome to item number 5! I’m glad to see you’re still here, unlike a certain breakup-obsessed ex-girlfriend of mine. It’s because you’re committed to the list now — much like a certain breakup-obsessed ex-girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend always was to her. Maybe you thought number 6 was a letdown (my b) but number 1 has gotta be something good, or else you just wasted ten full minutes of the scant thirty million you get as a conscious being. That’s how they getcha. They might also do something with ad revenue and monetization strategies but I haven’t gotten that far in my ebook yet.

In any case, please keep reading and — maybe? — monetizing. I promise number 1 is for real legit.

4. Only Food Nerds Will Get This One: With The Newest Health Craze, “Vegetable Gigantism,” Broccoli Stalks Are At An All-Time High!

You know I still haven’t hit on any matches in that dating app from number 9, or more accurately I’ve been promptly blocked by every match I’ve hit on. That doesn’t really make sense to me considering how popular this list is and how popular I am as a result. By my reckoning I should have at least 20,000 likes by now. That’s just math.

Since Netflix’s dating app is broken I might have to switch over to Hulu’s offering, Wrastle C— You know what, better not.

3. Ever Noticed That Thing In Movies Where There’s A Main Character Who Follows A Call To Adventure And Undergoes A Series Of Trials And Temptations To Overcome Some Internal Or External Struggle, Thereby Experiencing A Transformation And Acquiring The Ultimate Boon? It’s Called “Monomything” — And All Your Favourite Stars Are Doing It!

This one also had that gif of Tituss Burgess saying “Sweet baby Jesus!” It’s surprisingly applicable.

2. Short On Cash But Long In The Tooth? This Affordable Kale Aioli From Sam’s Club Could Be The Key To Living Forever

This was another affiliate link, in this case to — huh. Actually, hold up — yeah. Okay, yeah. I see now. This was in fact just an unrelated ad at the bottom of the article. My b. The good news is that I don’t need that busted dating app anymore — it looks like I have a pretty good lead on dating Natalie Dormer now, or, failing that, one of the many busty anime babes living near my VPN gateway. Hear that, Kardi? Looks like I’m a pretty hot commodity after all! What do you think about them apples, huh? Soft enough for ya? Who’s frighteningly untethered from reality now!

1. Yemen Famine Reaches “Crisis Point” As Saudi-led Troops Prepare To Recapture Port City of Hodeidah

This one’s actually from MJ Alba Dot Com News. Not sure how it got mixed up with the rest of this.

Still:

Titus Andromedon GIF@mattswackygifshop

MORE LIKE THIS:

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🇷🇺 17 Ways The Annexation Of Crimea Was Totally Asking For It

Wow.

When Dr. Steve Romanoff (Wilmer Valderrama) collapsed to the ground at the end of tonight’s spectacular Romanoffs finale, I felt as if I, too, had been shot by the cryogenically-preserved pistol originally used to assassinate Grigori Rasputin and — concurrently — Archduke Franz Ferdinand. In retrospect, that Dr. Steve should fall prey to the same shadowy conspirators that toppled Tsarist Russia, rang the bell of war in Europe, and had no particular involvement in the Kennedy assassination is the only way this beautiful time-twisting puzzle of a season could have ended. While Dr. Steve lies dying in the catacombs of Paris, his twin sister Dr. Stacy Romanoff (Wilmer Valderrama) at last uncovers their true lineage with the culmination of her season-long reverse Mamma Mia plot, which reveals that their mother is none other than Joan of Arc herself — or in the original French, Joan d’Romanoff. And all this is to say nothing of that breathtaking cliffhanger with their half-brother Bud “Big Jefe” Romanoff (John Goodman) in the dusty Arkansas oilfields. Where’d that big cliff come from, why is Bud so out of breath, and what manner of shenanigans will Big Jefe and the boys get up to in season two?

I repeat: wow.

The Romanoffs, Season 1, Episode 8: “Roamin’ Off”
 Written by Matthew Weiner and Alexa
 Directed by Matthew Weiner

Grade: 8+
A black-and-white picture of the Romanoff family.
Screenshot: Amazon Studios

But let’s back up. At the end of last week’s penultimate episode, “Please, Tsar, Can I Have Tsome More,” the stage was set for a showdown between Dr. Steve’s telekinetically-connected group of demographically diverse friends, the Romanoffs, and the secret worldwide crime syndicate headed up by Master Septimius Romanoff III — also called the Romanoffs. Joey Romanoff (Matt LeBlanc, in the role of a lifetime) had just revealed himself to be a double agent of the Romanoffs, and Norma-Rae Romanoff (the always game and incredibly talented and fantastically beautiful and flawless actress, Tatiana Maslany (I gush, but it’s okay — I’m a critic; and also Tatiana, if you ever want to meet me and talk about how much I know about your actressing, it won’t be weird — I’m a critic)) in turn revealed her own long-hidden allegiance. It was to the Romanoffs.

With all that chaos in the air, it was a welcome respite to start this week’s finale with a flashback to an event I suspect most of us have been hoping to hear more about all season: the Romanoff Family Reunion Karaoke BBQ of 2006. The show has hinted at the significance of this day a few times before, but — in a thematically-appropriate if frustrating refutation of narrative payoff — this opening flashback shows only the calm before the storm. We see Drs. Steve’s and Stacy’s father — Head of Neurosurgery Dr. Clint Romanoff, Ph.D — lead a game of flag football alongside none other than Master Septimius Romanoff III himself, in the flesh, before whatever tragic incident that stole the use of his legs, arms, and face. What a shock it is to see this villain as he was before, unmarred by his bitterness and grotesque physical deformities, laughing, playing, running with his family — happy. At one point he even exclaims, in a delicious bit of dramatic irony: “Nothing bad will ever happen to or amongst the Romanoffs! Or my legs, arms, or face!” What caused this clearly affectionate familial relationship to sour and morph into a mutual lifelong vendetta backed by a centuries-old conspiracy theory?

But substantive answers to this and every other mystery raised this season will have to wait. Matthew Weiner and co. clearly have a plan in mind — they’re brilliant TV auteurs — but whatever it is, they’re playing the long game. One possible clue comes to us courtesy of commenter desmondismycontent23, who pointed out that the ironic tee shirt Septimius wore a few episodes back may very well allude to the nature of his falling out with Dr. Clint: “I Need Brain Surgery Like I Need a Hole in My Head!” Innocent japery, or a sinister anti-doctor ethos writ x-large?

But enough prelude — let’s talk about that scene. Spoiler warnings ahead!

Lady Romanoff (Lady Gaga) may have deserved a more dignified send-off than being stripped fully but tastefully but still titillatingly nude and stabbed in egregious closeup by hundreds of shish kebab skewers, triggering her genetically-transmitted hemophilia and turning her into a darkly humorous human colander of blood, but boy — talk about powerful imagery. Only the master Weiner himself could have shot such an excessively violent scene with such inspired chiaroscuro so as to render it not only sophisticated but — indeed — beautiful, and therefore not problematic. Chiaroscuro is an Italian word that means I’m better than you.

For each of the Romanoffs on this season of The Romanoffs, legacy is the name of the game. “We are all children of history, and we all of us deserve to suckle at her teat and drink of her sweet milk,” as Big Jefe explains to the judge at his DUI hearing. In this humble critic’s assertion, this egalitarian ethos is at the heart of The Romanoffs’ narrative philosophy. Ontological equality has been the thread patching together all the jarringly disparate storylines this season: the simple idea that each of us, no matter who we are — white or other, rich or upper middle class, important doctor or merely important doctor adjacent, also assuming we’re a secret descendant of the Romanoffs, also attractive — is worth making a TV show about. With many of the main characters dead and the smoke still clearing from that big battle scene that cost as much as some actual wars, it will be interesting to see how this theme plays out in a possible season two. If season one was all about reckoning with grounded themes of personal legacy (and superpowers and global conspiracies and some not-technically-zombies zombies and I think a mysterious creature made entirely of fog? did that really happen? sounds made up), then I have a feeling season two is where this show will really start to explore its meaty premise. Meditative character studies are all well and good and whatever, but this show-stopping finale proves that The Romanoffs is ready to start being watchable, too.


Scraps From My Notebook; Go On, You Dogs, Lap Up The Scraps

  • Nadia Romanoff, rebuffing the advances of fellow Romanoff Chad Romanoff: “I have a personal policy against interoffice Romanoffs.”
  • You know an episode is good when Lady Gaga and Eduardo Fresco pull off a breathtaking karaoke duet of Boney M.’s Rasputin and it gets relegated to the endnotes. A little on the nose for this show, but I’ll allow if for sheer auditory joy and raw sexual energy.
  • Novel idea: a ferociously handsome TV critic, MK Altra, discovers a secret CIA plot to hypnotize people through TV show propaganda. Why him?? It’s cause he’s so smart and good at understanding TV shows. Also he’s dating Tatiana Maslany.
  • To those of you cheering on the coming Valderramaissance, please see this week’s casting news that Wilmer will be playing Venom in Disney’s new live-action Spiderman reboot, Hey, Who Turned Off the Dark?
  • Which of you will be the first to make a meme of Dr. Steve’s rousingly defiant, already-classic final line? “Aw, shit! I’m getting killed!”
  • Am I alone in thinking the end tag with Captain Romanoff portends the development of some sort of Romanoff Cinematic Universe? Yes, please!
  • I could sure go for a glass of wine and a chiaroscuro platter right about now.
  • That’s all for season one of our Romanoffs coverage. No word yet on a renewal, but if the past is anything to go on — the Romanoffs will be ruling our cathode ray tubes for centuries to come.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MJ Alba is the editor-in-chief and minority shareholder of MJ Alba Dot Com. He was recently approached by two large Eastern European men in the alley behind his mother’s nursing home. They had thick accents and thicker mustaches. They suggested he write something positive about the Russians.

Get in touch with MJ at his Twitter page or in the alley behind the ████████ Long-Term Care Facility in ████████.

Introducing MJ Alba Dot Com, the Future of Online! —

Welcome! — friends, well-wishers, jilted lovers, and all — to MJ Alba Dot Com, the new home of digital content on the internet. Actually, you know what? Scratch the jilted lovers. I don’t know why I thought that would be appropriate. Also, what does jilting mean and why are only lovers doing it? A taste of the scintillating dialogues to come.

What’s This Now?

In late 2017 I was approached by a group of shadowy investors who pitched the idea of turning my identity, MJ Alba, into a user-oriented, content-focused website capable of disrupting the entire tech industry / world order. Proffering petabytes of “market research” and a healthy runway of dark money in the form of various now-defunct cryptocurrencies, these mysterious benefactors argued that together — with their bottomless resources and my breathtaking lack of scruples — we could shape the landscape of internet publishing / cultural hegemony forever. One year later, I remembered I was supposed to have been working on this and threw something together last minute. At last, MJ Alba Dot Com is here to usher in a new age of digital media — long may its rule last™.

MJ Alba Dot Com is the internet’s official new home for all forms of digital content, new media, and online exclusives. Publishing paradigms? Check. Social strategies? We’ve got those. SEO? I think you mean CEO, bub, and ours is the best in the biz, I assume. We’re not just another Digg or Neopets or Myspace — we’re an entirely new breed of website, one that turns pageviews and user retention rates into cold, hard, returns on investment. Another innovation: reading any sentence on this site constitutes a legally-binding contract consenting you to the use of 17 separate marketing trackers and something called cookies. Mmm!

And Who Are You?

I’m MJ Alba, editor-in-chief and minority shareholder of MJ Alba Dot Com. You may have seen my previous ventures into content writing around the internet, but that was the old MJ Alba; the old internet. This is the new MJ Alba (legally a subsidiary of the ████ ██████ Corporation) and the new internet (a division of Time Warner Cable). This is the revolution, and I am its leader — long may my rule last™.

When not leading the revolution, I’m just a regular dude who likes partying, playing video games, and hanging with my homeboys at private villas in Eastern Europe. I’m all about jokes, buds, beers, and offshore bank accounts. Go Bears!

Sorry, I’m Still Confused. Can You Explain the What Again?

If the publishing philosophy of MJ Alba Dot Com could be summed up in a sentence approved by a board of unfeeling elites, it would be so summed thusly: “to create a proprietary platform bringing together any content whatsoever and the content-addicted eyeballs that generate revenue by consuming it.” In that spirit, you can expect a veritable feast of ideas and experimentation on this website: hackneyed TV reviews, endless listicles, a bunch of lazily-captioned subtweets embedded in a row, and more. There may even be some thoughtful long-form pieces that you’ll leave open in a tab until the next time you restart your computer. Sound unfamiliar? Welcome to the new web. Welcome to the new world.

One thing the mysterious benefactors bankrolling this operation have asked me to assure you is that the glorious gamut of content through which MJ Alba Dot Com runs will always remain 100% unbiased. MJ Alba Dot Com is put together by regular hardworking joes like me (Go Bears!) for regular hardworking eyeballs like you. That means we’ll never crawl through the mudpits of niche political topics like climate change, creeping fascism, or the scourge of digital populist propaganda. As the mysterious benefactors bankrolling this operation agree, everything is fine and anyone who says otherwise is a stooge of some rich, dark puppet-master, and also? Ugly.

Well, Alright Then.

At MJ Alba Dot Com, the content is king, and you will bow down to its rule, long may it last™. Tremble at the dawning of the last and greatest age. Weep for the loss of yesterday’s tomorrows. Don’t forget to sign up for the news blast!

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