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March 1st, 2004

State of the Web Address
or Love is a Four Letter Word

     The quick headline: will be actively soliciting support from its readership in the form of the Pledge Drive. The basic plea is this: if you feel the site benefits you, then please help support it. Here are the quick details:

  • is asking for a $12 pledge from its readers.
  • Pledges can be purchased via this PayPal link:
  • Pledges can also be purchased via snail mail. Any personal checks should be addressed to Ross Chen, and sent to this address:

         Ross Chen
         c/o Jailed Games
         2716 Ocean Park Blvd.
         Suite 2008
         Santa Monica, CA 90405

  • All participants in the pledge drive will be included on the Sponsor Page located here, unless otherwise requested.
  • The pledge drive will last for two weeks, and at the end of the third week results will be tallied and presented to the readership.
  • The amount earned through the pledge drive will be applied towards future expenses for, meaning it's not intended to make up for any past expenses incurred by the Webmaster.
  • The expenses included in this are web hosting, bandwidth, technical support, and hopefully some materials, i.e. DVDs. Other possible expenses are possible site upgrades.
  • Whatever amount that is earned WILL BE applied to keeping online in its current form. What this means is that the site will exist as is, and won't be downsized for the period of time that the earnings allow.
  • If support is meager, and/or nonexistent, the site will be reduced to a mostly-text site to offset the enormous bandwidth. Such a change will likely happen sometime in the near future with this eventuality.
  • The pledge drive IS NOT a threat to take the site offline. The Webmaster currently DOES NOT intend to remove from the Internet. It may just look less pretty—or even ugly. Depends on your preference.
  • If you don't participate, the Webmaster will not visit your house to berate you. He will, however, respond to your e-mails with no urgency whatsoever.

     Now for the long story:
     Though the actual day and date of inception is unknown, recently turned two years old. Back in 2002, when this site first premiered, the most-viewed page on the site was the stats page by yours truly. I wondered: did anybody read the site besides myself? I originally put the site on the Internet because I had lots of time on my hands. I had no job, plenty of savings, and I was content to screw around and pursue my various interests. I put together because it was the site that I wanted to see, loaded with my own personal thoughts, silly commentary and assorted pictures of that which I had come to care about: HK Cinema. As noble pursuits went, the site ranked well below ending world hunger or even clipping coupons for my money-saving friends.
     Now we're at two years later. The changes: I have no savings, no time, and I do have a job. The job happens to be a writing consultant and junior game designer for my brother's start-up video game developer, and it's not been an easy road. I could go into large detail on how I feel about it, but in the year I've been doing this, I've discovered some uncomfortably similar qualities between the video game business and the movie business—a dream that died after I attended film school way back when. Also, the job pays me a salary of nothing. Really. It's a job, sure, but payday means nothing more to me than a new soup of the day at the local deli.
     Back to the site. is also being read by many more people than I ever would have imagined. At last count, the site pulls in between 10-15K visitors daily, 30-60K pageviews, and somewhere between 200-300K hits a day. We get high rankings on Google, Alexa and probably search engines I've never even heard of. I also get lots of e-mail, some of it complimentary, some of it derogatory, and much of it inane. At the same time, I'm compelled to keep the website going, if for no other reason than I like putting it together. I enjoy writing, I love the films (And if you must insert your comment here about how I, Kozo, hate everything I review, please go visit, and I like the site itself. Maybe I'm patting myself on the back when I say this, but is a site that I would want to visit. It's about what I like, and it also possesses my decidedly not-for-everyone sense of humor. Honestly, I spend a lot of time reading the site too, which is probably an admission that seems more egotistical than quality-minded. No one ever accused me of being totally self-deprecating.
     But, as in all things, there is a catch. The above recipe seems like one of success. Lots of people read the site, I enjoy putting it together, and even though it's sometimes an emotional drain, I strive to keep it going. I've met some great people via the site, corresponded with people I've admired, and even been treated like someone who actually accomplished something. But the catch is that through it all, I have very little to show for it other than the magical intangibles, i.e. satisfaction, pride and probably annoyance at the crappy e-mail I get. The site earns me nothing, and in fact costs me money—money that's starting to pile up in a way that I can ill afford.
    To put a more concrete face on it, the site expenses since January of 2003 have been roughly $3000 US, which includes all the assorted web site costs AND the costs of whatever DVDs/VCDs that were reviewed by myself. It also includes the fine day in December when it cost me $220 to have my laptop repaired. It does not include any of the DVDs purchased that I have yet to review, a cost which is no one's fault but my own. I must admit, I began to view reviewing new HK and Asian Cinema as more than a hobby, but a responsiblity. As a result, I own copies of such movies as Kung Fu Master is My Grandma, Ghost Office, and numerous Korean films which I thought I SHOULD be watching. But I haven't, simply because time and sometimes "bigger" movies got in the way. When the Twins make 30 movies a year, somehow those take precedence. If I'm making a mistake here, then somebody stop me.
     But the fact remains that as the site grows, the more it begins to cost in monthly fees just to keep it online. Lots of photos, numerous pages, and that evil thing known as bandwidth theft (IF YOU DO THIS, THEN STOP IT! IT'S BAD!) have contributed to the realization that it's not going to get easier. Currently, I'm not totally upset with the costs I'm incurring, but if the pattern continues AND the site continues as is, then sooner or later I'm going to be shelling out three figures a month just so the site can stay online—and that figure does not include any DVDs or VCDs. It's just the actual cost of keeping the site out there for people to read. Call me selfish, but something there doesn't compute.
     Which brings me to this Pledge Drive, which is something that I resisted doing for a long time, but has finally become something of a necessity. I've already received donations from a number of very generous individuals—most especially Gray Carper, who I simply refuse to take any more money from. But in truth, it really hasn't been enough, and I can't really keep the site as is without any regular form of support. So, the Pledge Drive is happening, and I'm going to be asking this question on more than one occasion: Besides asking for support, is there any other way for to support itself? I'm asking for ideas, thoughts, or anything which makes sense—and I must clarify, I do not believe affiliate links to be part of the solution. I could go on for hours about why the deal is a bad one, but won't because I've already droned on for too long. Yeah, I'm a wordy guy.
    So I ask, if you feel this site has benefitted you in any way, please consider helping keep it online the way it is. In the event that costs continue to rise, and if there's no support, then I'll probably have to turn the site into a mostly-text site, and remove the majority of the pictures from the pages. I'll also probably remove lots of the useless content, like the April Fool's pages and the innane Hong Kong travelogs. Let me say this: I have no intention of removing the site itself from the Internet. I really want it to stay online—even if I stop updating it. I've received enough positive comments and well-wishes to know that some people do view it as a positive resource which they actually refer to. That's not something I wish to take away, and even if the site is text-only it'll probably still be of use to some people.
     But honestly, I do prefer the way it is right now.

-- Kozo, 3/1/2004

  Life with Kozo

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Yotsubato! is the story of a wacky little girl and her new life life in a new town—and all the strange trouble she causes for her single father and the constantly confused neighbors. Created by Azumanga Daioh creator Kiyohiko Azuma, Yostubato! is a manga filled with nothing but wry observations and utterly unimportant minutiae. It's free of sex, violence, politics, prejudice, hatred, and all other lightning rods of negativity in this universe. Maybe that's why the Webmaster likes it.
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The opinions expressed within are merely the musings of the Webmaster, and as such should be taken with the requisite grain of salt. If you disagree with an expressed opinion please feel free to contact him here. If you feel he has insulted your favorite popstar, you can still contact him. However, your chances of receiving a reply will be reduced by half.
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