Sunday, October 06, 2002

making the move

While for now all archived content will stay here, I have officially set up shop thanks to the great people at Hosting Matters. The new blogs can be found at


set your bookmarks and links accordingly.

Now up at my new blog is a review of a very special movie...

Saturday, October 05, 2002


almost done moving to the new site...Movable Type is such my bitch.

just need to figure out how to get counters and transfer all this material over and we'll be all good.

and if anyone wants to help me design a homepage, let me know :)

Friday, October 04, 2002

moving buffy talk

WiccaWillow will be the home for all Buffy Talk from now, lest I bore all you non-Buffy fans who just want to hear stories about me falling on my ass socially or talking out of my ass culturally.

You're all just here for my ass anyways, right?

senior year part 2

I'm a bit torn here, I must confess. As much fun as it would be to continue to demonstrate the complete jackass that I was back then, it's coupled by the fact that I did some incredibly sh$tty things to girls who didn't deserve it. And while I have no problem enumerating my faults for others to consume, it doesn't mean I want to dredge up any memories for these girls or their friends in such a public forum. So for now, Part 2 will have to wait. Perhaps indefinitely.

If anybody is really curious, you can email me via the link above and I'll give you the basic skinny. But as for the site itself, mum's the word.

Gonna go flog myself in the corner now...

moving on da eastside...

well, cross your fingers, my fellow readers, the process has begun to move to my new home on the web.

provided of course, i can figure out how the hell to do it. i already have some of the faithful helping out, especially Janet who is helping me move to Movable Type which I quite like, but am rather inept at FTPing and file directoring and pathing and all the other made-up gerunds you can think of.

I'll be here for a bit longer, fear not. But if anyone else wants to offer a hand in helping me pack up, I'd love it.

Part II of Senior Year will be up sometime this afternoon.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

why maturity is a good thing

If you know me, you know the gist of this story, so feel free to roam along other parts of the Internet. But in keeping with the theory that nothing I could make up is as funny as the stuff that really happens to me, I’m gonna give you the skinny on what Senior year of college was like on the dating tip for yours truly. Fair warning---it gets ugly, but about 87% of this actually is true. The other 13% should be readily apparent.

I’m telling the story because I’ve been having quite a few conversations lately with not only the parties involved, but those around me at the time. And without equivocation, we’re in a much healthier place as a group. Different lives, different parts of the globe, all with certain setbacks to go with the advancements, but yet all with a sense of, “Well, yes, that was fun, but I’m certainly glad it’s done.” A Very TS Eliot “Wife in ‘The Wasteland’” type of vibe, is what I’m driving at. We laugh about the old times, mostly because we actually somehow still talk after all of it went down.

Names protected to save the innocent.

So November, 1997. I start dating this girl Sue. Sue and I are the result of about 5 weeks of sexual tension while I am dating this other girl Sally with whom I would have had a perfectly inconsequential 6 week thing except that she cheated on me so of course I blew up like Pompeii. Sue and I had one of those romantic starts you look forward to telling the grandkids about: hot and heavy in the basement halls of a dorm. This wasn’t any basement though mind you. The basement of this particular dorm (Adams House for your Harvard-ites out there) is lined with hundreds of yards of murals painted by the students every few years or so. Each student gets roughly a 5’x8’ section that they can do pretty much whatever you want. Add on the fact that we were ostensibly supposed to be at the Halloween dance upstairs, you have two costumed folk pressing each other alternately against Gaia, Winnie the Pooh, and random lyrics by Jim Morrison. Just as romantic as a splinter in the eye.

Two months or so go by. Sue is the producer of a production of “Antony and Cleopatra” directed by Commander Foley. Sue becomes increasingly convinced that the girl playing Cleopatra has the hots for me. Having not yet entered fully into the levels of jackass that were to follow, I dismissed her jealous claims (God bless Sue, but she was even more jealous than myself, and that’s saying something.) But Sue was right, “Jessie” was indeed staring at me. She had seen the work I did light designing a dance production in December and just decided I was juicy, I guess. Hey, it happens to the best of us.

Yet I was clueless. At the cast party I brought a mix tape I had made which told the entire play through modern day songs (yea, geek, guilty as charged). Jessie tells me that if I make her a copy, she’ll make a mix for me. Clueless Boy sees no problems with this. Jessie’s mix tape is nothing but trip-hop, slow grooves that beg the libido to come out and have a party. Idiot Man cheerfully accepts tape and leaves her room. A week later Jessie comes over to watch a movie and basically, by the end is spweing subtle phrases such as “I….I want you. Is that bad to say?” Still a bit stunned, a ask her what on earth she sees on me. “I dunno, you just have such…I dunno, passion.” And I didn’t even have to give her Franzia, which was the usual way in which I convinced girls to shower me with such praise. Now of course the dilemma is clear---I am dating Sue but little lithe Jessie is pretty much going to attack me at any moment. I could

A) Say “thanks but I have a girlfriend”
B) Kindly talk for a few hours about the pros and cons of why this may or may not be a good idea.
C) Say “Bring it on” and sloppily make out and get your eventual swerve on

I am at this time a 21 year old man-boy who has an incredibly attractive girl telling him she’s hot for his bod, so Option A is out. Neither of are Harvard lesbians so option B is out. So the trip hop tape gets played and Option C is played out to the hilt.

(By the way, I’ve never seen people talk the fun out of hookups they way my lesbian friends did. My God it was epic. They are the best contraceptive known to man. Put them in a room of horny teenagers on Prom Night and you can guarantee no shotgun wedding the following Fall.)

(By the way again, I’ll never ever outgrow the phrase “get your swerve on”. I’ll be 87, in a wheelchair, wearing a diaper, and asking my great-grandkids if they’ve gotten their swerve on lately. I’ll be the hippest man in dentures, I tell ya.)

So, here we have it, a guy who wouldn’t speak to Sally for roughly 8 months because she cheated on him goes and cheats on his next girlfriend. I am fully aware of the irony throughout the entire encounter yet keep going. The charade goes on for about a week. Normally you would think I would simply break up with Sue and go my merry way with Jessie. Well, that would be sensible, and dear readers common frickin’ sense took a hibernation during my Senior Year. So I wait until Sue is finished her exams, and with tickets in hand to Blue Man Group for me and Jessie in hand, I break up with her.

(Amazingly enough this was only the third worst breakup I pulled off in my college days. Let’s run them down, TRL Style.

“Hi, my name’s Larissa, I’m from Staten Island, and I’d like to vote for the time Ryan cheated on that girl for two weeks, bought Blue Man Group tickets for his new girl, and made the breakup itself as short as possible so he could hop on the T and not miss the show. WOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

“Hey, what’s happenin’? Tanya here. Wanna give my props to Brooklyn. I’d like to vote for the time Ryan went to breakup with his freshman year girlfriend in January, only to find out upon arrival she had bought him a jacket and a bound copy of “henry V” over Winter Break, and with said objects in hand dumped her anyways. REPRESENT!”

“Yo yo yo, Darren here on the flip side. I gots to vote for Sophmore Year, breaking up with that nice girl by telling her he thought he was in love with someone else, while the nice girl was still recovering from her hospital visit after getting her stomach pumped after drinking the tequila he bought for her, and then her making him come back AFTER talking to the would be next GF, who of course didn’t like him, and he knew it, but had to tell her anyways to get over her, so trudged twenty minutes in the to have it told to his face, and then trudge twenty minutes back to talk to a girl who couldn’t even hold down solid food yet. HI MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Like I said, I am very glad I am not in college anymore.)

So Jessie and I ride high. Nothing can stop us. Everything is great.

For five whole days.

Then yours truly blurts out THOSE THREE WORDS.

Which comes as much of a shock to her as to me. Just an awkward, awkward moment. I’ll never forget the feeling right before I said it---it was a slight cold spot in the back of my throat. And I just KNEW. Never happened before. Hasn’t happened since. Doesn’t mean I haven’t loved anyone since, just means that this was a unique experience. After a day of “Wow McGee, even for you that was supremely dumb,” she comes to my room, verbally reciprocates, and all is good.

And 24 hours later she recants and alternates between “I never said it,” and “I didn’t mean it.” Neither explanation sat very well with me. Ugly. We’re talking Philip Seymour Hoffman covered in Crisco ugly. We talking “Spice Girls Unplugged” ugly.

Since God wasn’t done slapping me silly that week, he organizes a cast party for 3 days later. Both Sue and Jessie are going to be there. I really wanted to test that “Not enough liquor in the world can dull this pain” theory for myself. I’m miserable, I’m single (which for some people is a redundant statement), and I’m ready to consume my weight in Cossack brand vodka. I remember as clear as day writing the Commander an email which almost verbatim read:

“Man, f$ck women. F$ck them all. If this were 2002, I would invoke Mary J Blige and ask for no more drama in my life. But since that song hasn’t come out yet I’ll make more a chronologically sound reference. Man, mo’ money, mo’ problems. Only substitute “money” for “women” and you’ll get my drift. Anyways, no mackin’ for me at the party this weekend. Just keepin’ it real with the boys. The only way I’ll hit on anything is if Julie shows up wearing her outfit from the show.”

Julie played, among other roles, a gypsy dancer in the play. Having designed enough dance shows and having seen more than my share of warmup routines, needless to say I was intrigued by dancers’ flexibility.

So God, enjoying watching me bounce from side to side like a pinball against the bumpers, sends Julie to the party after I had consumed, by my estimation,

---6 Cider Jacks
---4 shots of Goldschlager
---2 drinks consisting of a double shot of vodka, 2/3s OJ, and 1/3 cranberry juice

and of course she is dressed as the gypsy.

What happened next is really like a slide show. I have strong recollections of individual moments frozen in time as clear as day. The rest of the night is as lost as a person with Alzheimer’s driving cross country.

I remember the following:

---Seeing her and uttering under my breath, “No good can possibly come of this.”
---Us inexplicably dancing 5 minutes later
---Her on my lap, with a blanket being thrown over us by Antony

All this of course in plain view of Sue and Jessie.

The Commander, who wisely keeps his liver pure of liquor, filled in the rest the next day. Apparently we put the Lambada to utter shame in terms of its “Forbidden Dance” title, eventually working our way to what seemed, in our drunken state, to be an isolated corner. We did not see the Commander trying to escape as he returned from the bar with his Coke. We did not hear his initial cries for help as we cornered him with our sloppy making out. We really didn’t hear his utter cries of desperation as the hookup went from the Disney Channel to Skinemax right in front of him, all the while confounding his every effort to escape the porn he suddenly was an unwilling actor in. Finally, with an earth-shattering, “FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY, SOMEONE SAVE ME” Antony swooped in, saw the scene, retrieved what was later dubbed “The Blanket of Iniquity” (I think Tim burned it soon after), covered us like we were victims of a 5 alarm fire, and brought Tim to safety.

I’d love to say that all of my bad kharma was purged then. But I was still 3 months from this all playing out. Stay tuned, more to come tomorrow….

Adddendum courtesy of Commander Foley

BTW, you missed, for a second time, the highlight of the party. Caesar was ridiculously drunk. And clad in a Canadian flag. And someone decided putting on "Justify My Love" would be a good idea. He then proceeded to dance right in front of you and "Julie" and do his best to justify his love, just short of dry-humping the both of you AND YOU STILL DIDN'T NOTICE.

Now me getting cornered up against a wall and you not noticing is one thing. Me shouting for rescue and you not noticing? Perfectly understandable. But a drunken Canadian in a flag-toga attempting to give you both a lapdance not registering on your synapses? This fire water is a strange mixture indeed!

Undeterred, Caesar then proceeded to hump the wall. So at least he had a happy ending.

more search engine merriment

how is the world randomly finding me?

to wit:

"justin timberlake hypnosis" well, his music does tend to put me to sleep...

"nude nuns" come here so I can slap you

"avril lavigne's feet" more foot fetish searches than I care to talk about

"hair-job erotic" i've heard of hand and blow, but this one is new to me

"camel toe anna kournikova" i had to consult a coworker on what this meant. I just had to pick the Mormon co-worker, didn't I?

Can't someone search for "hot guy with a 'Buffy' fetish?" Is that too much to ask for?

buffy review, in short

OK, so someone in the UPN promo department should be shot. Here I was thinking it'd be a stupid stand alone "big worm eats things" episode and instead we have several huge developments, a killer last scene, and one of the best Xander one liners in recent memory. ("Yea, I don't think she'll be calling.")

Specifically, the development of Spike this episode was outstanding. The scene in the graveyard will be tough to top, actingwise, for the rest of the year. The use of light and shadow was breathtaking. Both actors brought their A game. And the final image and Spike sizzling himself on the cross....jesum. It was anything but violent, just this slow walk to the cross and you're going "Oh boy, he's not....oh Christ he is." Juxtapose his desire for "rest" here with wanting to "rest in peace" in "Once More With Feeling" and you see an enormous progression for the character. And the show wisely put any discussion of "Did Spike really mean to get his soul back?" to rest.

What's also interesting is the balancing act he has with sanity. It's clear something went very wrong when his soul was restored. How much Spike is used as a pawn by the Big Bad will be interesting. Rewatching the first episode of the season, Spike clearly tells Buffy that even the zombie/ghosts won't come in the room he has inhabited. There is something specific about Spike that the Big Bad needs or can exploit. (I am personally waiting to see tif the Big Bad's arrival has its roots in Spike's transformation or Willow's attempts to end the world---my gut is one of the two started the chain reaction of this season.)

Knowing this, taking into account all the proto-Slayers being killed, and the fact that Faith is coming back for the last five episodes, and you've got a basic season-long arc of "Big Bad kills all the Slayers until there's just Buffy and Faith, Buffy needs Faith to fight the BB, Spike gets pulled back and forth on both sides, and finally dies saving Buffy, who is finally in love with him." Something this shattering will give Buffy a good reason to leave the show yet still have it continue, leaving Faith or (cringe) Dawn as the Slayer, with Willow being set up as a new Watcher. (What is England if not Jedi training, really, for Willow?) And while I cringe at the notion of "Dawn the Vampire Slayer", I give props to the show for finally making her watchable again.

The only thing I was diappointed in was the lack of continuity with the school material. Principal Wood is an interesting character, if for no other reason that Buffy-philes are honing in to try and get a reading on where his allegiances lies. It was a nice continuity touch to have Anya be the source of the worm in order to show her actively trying to counter Halfreck's claims from last week. I am glad we got rid of Xander's almost new romantic interest since she was way too Jamie Gertz without being Jamie Gertz for my liking.

I'll give it an 8 overall for Spike's stuff alone, everything else was gravy. And after rewatching the first episode again, I bump it up to an 8.5. Really great start to the season.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

list time

OK, haven't had a list in a while, so here goes. Today's list includes really unbelievably bad songs but really unbelievably good artists. Usually. Except for this crap.

Now, doing a "Worst Songs Ever" list is pretty trite, as is "Worst Artists Ever". Making fun of "Macarena" or Rick "Never Gonna Give You Up" Astley isn't exactly breaking new comedic ground. Instead, I'm gonna try to find songs by normally solid recording artists and find the worst possible thing they've ever actually allowed to be pressed onto a record on CD. Normally I'd adhere to the Rule of 5 but they are too many good ones. I hope I don't lose to many people here. Again---I love these artists; I hate these songs.

In no particular order:

1) "Velcro Fly" by ZZ Top

Since I grew up with MTV, I didn't realize until about 3 years ago that ZZ Top one were one kickin' blues rock band in the 1970's. Give me "Jesus Just left Chicago" or "Tush" anyday. But in 198 they unleashed this sonic atrocity on an unsuspecting world. Using Human League's drum machine and a riff that even Kajagoogoo passed on, they answered the question "What would happen if we took "Walk Like an Egyptian" and made it suck even worse?" even though no one had even thought to formulate the question. I had put this song out of my memory until i caught it on VH1 Classic about two weeks ago. After going to the emergency room to stop the bleeding from my eyes I silently wept for a few more hours until they released me from the straight jacket.

I don't like this song, is what I'm getting at.

2) "Hawkmoon 269" by U2

There's a good reason most of you haven't heard this song. For starters, it's on "Rattle and Hum" which was U2's first flirtation jumping the shark. (Most people assume "Pop" was attempt #2 to pull a Fonz, although I happen to really like that album, but that's for another article.) In any case, Bono and the boys decided to write a song with 2 chords and 50+ lines of lyrics that start with the word "Like..." Now, it's OK if you wanna construct a song around a simile trop, but for God sakes it's like "Chopping Broccoli" on the spot lyrics that he never bothered to rewrite. To wit:

Like a desert needs rain
Like a town needs a name
I need you love
Like a drifter needs a room
I need your love

Bwa? To quote Stoppard, "Consistency is all I ask." That doesn't even make SENSE. This is like Ionesco translating an English phrase book, handing the lyrics to The Edge, and saying "Run with it." I'm sure Edge was a bit put off after they laid this track down:

Edge---"Hey, uh, Bono? Are those um, are those the final lyrics?"
Bono---"Yea, mate. Why do you ask?"
Edge---Oh, no reaosn, except, um, well, for the fact that lines such as, Like a Phoenix rising
Needs a holy tree
is FRICKIN' TERRIBLE. And why can't I play a third chord? Please? Bono? Bono, come away from Graceland you nit."

I've tried and failed at writing love poetry for women, but I've never tried to compare my love to a town committee meeting where they're trying to come up with a spiffy name to attract tourists. And what if the drifter wants to sleep under the stars? Did Bono think of that? Do a little research, man, come on.

3) "Pulk/Pull Revolving Door" by Radiohead

No, the title isn't a typo. I love Radiohead more than just about any band, hell, I based my entire production of "Romeo and Juliet" off of "OK Computer" practically. I love the sonic adventure, the lyrical enigmas, the soundscapes, the sheer vastness of their production values.

And this song makes me want to find Thom Yorke and beat the snot out of him.

Now, it's no secret that I love all kinds of music. Pop, rock, hip hop, classical, you name it, i probably own a record in the genre. At the base core of it, all I ask is for a nice little melody. Something to tickle the ear. That's all. Tack on some lyrical heft and you've won me over. This isn't rocket science. I like pop songs cuz by nature they're SUPPOSED to be catchy. But give me a song like "Fake Plastic Trees" which is as tuneful as any Max martin composition AND those lyrics and well, you've got a winner in my books.

"Pulk/Pull" however must be the sonic equivalent of being dragged along the back of a HumVee across a field of broken glass. It starts off like your CD player has broken and doesn't get much better. Thom does his best Stephen Hawking impression as he spits out dribble about...God, I can't even understand a word. At one point I think there's a solo by a "Simon" game. Or the turtle underworld of "Super Mario Brothers". I can't listen to this anymore, I'm developing a tic. I feel like punching a nun. Damn you Radiohead.

4) "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan

Yes, I know it was popular. Yes, everyone but me seems to like it. But it's about heroin addiction, people. Abou rock stars who end their lives through drug use. Sarah's trying to prevent more Kurt Cobains.

Ok, semi-noble, but Sarah's got as much of a right to talk about heroin addiction as I do telling the men of the world how to keep a thick, luxurious head of hair. Just not qualified. "Surfacing" as a whole proves the point that artists should be left alone and miserable to actually produce good material. "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy" will forever remain in my top 5 Desert Island CDs. But between that and "Surfacing" she went and fell in love. Just thinking about "I Love You" makes me want to throw Sarah through a pulk/pull revolving door. Sorry, still stuck on the Radiohead rage. Gonna go squeeze something soft and round for a bit...

5) "Wild Honey Pie" by The Beatles

Yes, the Beatles are unequivocal geniuses. Yes, this song could have been written by Mrs. Richardson's 2nd grade class after ingesting way too many sugar cookies at the Christmas party. Moving on....

6) "Everyday" by Dave Matthews Band

Not the song, the album. DMB swings for the fences and connects with the 11 worst songs of their entire career (the title track being the only one I can stomach; it's actually an OK song with a pretty great video). I sat listening to the record for the first time realizing three children somewhere near Sally Struthers died because I spent my $15 on Dave and not them. I could have just forgotten the whole experience through electroshock therapy if "The Space Between" wasn't so ubiquitous. I love watching Dave play this live; he always has this "OK, I am gonna pretend this song isn't complete crap" look with Glenn Ballard pulling a "Being John Malkovich" and entering through a portal into Dave's head. Seriously, Glenn must have honestly said at one point, "Gee, the acoustic guitar/bass/sax/violin/drum sound is really unique. Let's ditch the sax and violin, strap Dave to an electric guitar, and play utter derivative crap." I bet the sax and violin guy were as surprised as anyone to hear they had a record coming out. Glenn sent them to get a sandwich and by the time they came back, a record had been cut.

Well, I'm pretty much cross-eyes with rage by now, so I should really stop. Feel free to remind me of the hundreds I haven't come up with yet.

Monday, September 30, 2002

sweet jesus

The new Two Towers trailer has me in complete awe.

My God.

I am geeking to the max.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

ramblin' man

not enough energy or foresight to write a coherent article, so you'll have to bear with these unrelated paragraphs...

---Spent Friday night helping my female roommate pick out clothes for a booty call. That was an interesting experience to say the least. The psychology of booty call clothes in and of itself should be someone's Ph.D. dissertation. I guess my perspective on booty calls is one the "yes" has been established on the booty call, clothing is irrelevant since sex or some permutation thereof has already been mutually consented and therefore, extraneous things such as how one looks suddenly becomes moot. Then again, I'm a guy. But it's been about 3 years since I've either made or received a booty call. My favorite one I ever got went something like this:

"Hi Ryan."
"Hey, whassup?"
"Well, I was just nearby your dorm..."
"BUt uou live all the way across campus."
"Well, I was at Lamont Library."
"That's 10 minutes from my dorm. That's still not nearby my dorm..."
"Welll, um..."

After about 4 more exchanges where I blatantly did not get what was going on, I recognized it was a booty call. (Memory is hazy, but I'm pretty sure I woulda said something like, "But why are you telling me about your underwear?") I read about this stuff in books, you see. I'd love to say it's because I was puritanical, but most I was a dork. ("Was", the masses ask?) Getting the booty call completed was a tad bit difficult since Liz of the stripper fame was completely plastered in my room at the time and reciting Tennyson's "Ulysesses" ad infinitum, accelerating the speed of each repetition 'til she ended up sounding like the guy from the MicroMachine ads of the late '80s. Another in the "never happens anymore now that I am out of college" files.

---Saturday night's highlight including a near fist fight with one of those new-fangled self-serve machines at supermarkets. For those of you who don't have them, they're just scanners to supposedly "speed up" the process of getting out of a supermarket if you only have a few items. After about 10 minutes of this expiditious process, the girl and I were looking for the "ACME" sign on the machine and waiting for the Road Runner to pass us in the 12 and under lane four feet away. Long story short, we scan in 3 items, slip in a $10 to the proper slot, and then the machine pulls a Chris Farley in those "Da Bears" sketches on SNL: "Gack, piece of sausage, heimlich, heimlich, cough, BLERGH" and dies. While trying to find the paddles to start it's heart back up, an employee, who apparently has a beeper for situations like this hooked up to "MartMachine", walks over, shouts, "GODDAMNIT IT", and rhuffs and puffs her way to the back, the "Employee Only" sign swaying like a saloon door in and old Western. 5 minutes later, we're still hoping she comes back. Literally 5 yuppie/hippie couples try to use the machine in front of us, which has likewise broken down. By the end I was staving them off at the path, but watching pretty people not being able to use technology always cheers me up. Luckily, Angry Employee of the Month comes out with a new set of change, and we go on our merry way. Meanwhile, the couple in the automatic machine, who was there when we started this debacle, still had that confused, deer-in-headlights look as they stared at the screen. Ahhh, technology. Love it.

---I enjoyed a good solid weekend of pop culture perfection. Not only did I watch "Almost Famous" but picked up both the new Beck CD and the official soundtrack release of the Buffy musical episode. Pop culture at its best never has to say anything profound, it just has to comment on universal truths in a way you never thought of or expressed more eloquently than you could ever have yourself. Cameron Crowe's dialogue consistently has me green with envy. "I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen" will forever be my favorite movie quote ever (followed closely by Jet Li's epic cry, "I am Hu Law! I am nobody's bitch! You are all my bitches!" at the end of "The One", the most worthless $10 I spent in the year 2002). Beck's newest record may be the breakup record to end all breakup records (well, it will never surpass Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks", but the fact I can even compare the two shows you what I think of the CD). Intimate scope, beautiful music, heartfelt lyrics...the age of irony is over for Beck and it suits him great. And "Buffy"...well, it's just freakin' perfection. Playing both within and stretching the boundaries of musical theatre genre, playing within the continuity of the show, amazing special effects, his dialogue...Joss is the next...well, Cameron Crowe. Both have an intensely close relationship to the pop culture pulse, can shape it to their own whims, and re-present it to us with an authorial voice that is at once original irreverent, heartfelt, and deeply poetic.

Friday, September 27, 2002

blogging has gone the way of avril lavinge

Marc Weisblott makes an interesting claim on his guest post on Dawn's website that

I believe that "the blogging phenomenon" is the biggest heap of hooey since Gretchen Mol making the cover of Vanity Fair.

Strong language. And I recently have been concurring.

I feel weird writing about this here, given the inherent meta-irony of it all. (Plus, this site has pretty much veered entirely into pop culture sarcasm with readers who don't really give a crap about the term "blogasphere" which has easily ascended to the top of "most hated words" on my list.)

The whole "you're not linking me cuz you're sexist" and "who cares who links who" volley of posts and comments a few weeks on various blogs I read just highlights that none of us seemingly have left the high school cafeteria. I was as guilty as any early on of basically having blogs that say "hey check out X" or "this person RAWKS" or any of the 134 tropes that have been established both before I came onto the "scene" and since as well. We want to be popular, we want to be in the in-crowd, we want to be liked by those around us. God knows I linked myself silly, posted on comments pages, and got caught up in what can be a very alluring sense of community extending far beyond your hometown. But the fact that certain people suddenly have actual POWER in the blogworld (power to drive large numbers of people towards specific content and by linking, in and of itself legitimizing said content as being worth someone's time) seems to me an amazingly interesting phenomenon that may itself signal the end of the First Era of blogdom and the start of the second phase which has yet to be named. The sheer venom poured forth on both sides, the sheer sincerity on both sides, speaks to me of something quite large and therefore quite relevent to the place blogging itself seems to be headed. (Check this out, it's as good a place as any to get into what little I myself have seen.)

The term "blogasphere" is one I hate since it belongs to the language of exclusion---people are either in it or they're out of it. Those who don't blog are out. Casual readers are likewise out of it since they can only visit from afar on the periphery. People are anxious to include themselves in this world in their blogs lest they be left behind somehow. So the word itself has exploded in terms of usage recently and it's making me vaguely queasy.

If i understand warblogging, it was to provide unbiased reporting or pundit-izing on issues outside of the corporate structure. REAL reporting, none of the washed-down, Time-Warner approved stuff we see as we eat our processed dinners with our 2.4 kids. A very punk thing to do, very noble, all that and a bag of chips. I am not a very (or even remotely) political person but I recognize that the distribution of information need not be controlled by a few sources and in fact, the distribution of information on a grass-roots level as about as democratic as you can get. However, we now have "established warbloggers" given both credentials and traffic because of these credentials (ie, everyone is 'supposed' to link to or read Glenn Reynolds). I don't know Glenn, I don't read his site every often, but by golly lots of people do. More power to him and I wish him tons of success. My problem here certainly isn't with Glenn or warbloggers like him.

My problem is instead, as mentioned before, the language and attitudes of exclusion that seem to be running rampant. Maybe I don't get it, maybe (most likely) I am extremely naive about what I am 'supposed' to be doing with my blog. Some people have outright accused me of being crazy that I wouldn't try and do as much as possible to drive as much traffic here as I can. The whole MSNBC thing was great and it was fun to see a few thousand hits in the space of a few days, but believe me, I am getting a lot more pleasure out of the 30-40 of you who seem to come back on a regular basis just to hear what I have to say. That's just mind-blowing and I can't thank you enough for actually thinking I am worth spending even five minutes a day on. But getting on MSNBC, getting a core of readers wasn't and can't be the point of what I do. Getting my site mentioned on various media and websites is terrific and surprising when it happens, but luckily I am in the position where it's really OK if none of that happens. I am not, as far as I know, in the "blogasphere" and that's really OK. I have my little, Blogger-published site here where I can spit off whatever's in my head without having to worry about what anyone thinks. Now, many of those seeking membership do their sites as their lifeblood, their livelihood, their very income. To get 5,000 hits versus 500 may in fact mean the ability to pay rent. Again, more power to you, if that's what you want. Would I like a few hundred dollars a month rolling through my PayPal account? Sure. I am writing this as a person lucky enough to have a steady income who need not rely on the charity of my readers to literally survive.

But what the blogging world is in danger of, so far as I can see it from my little perch here in Boston, is turning into exactly what it tried to step away from initially. We have this potential "Animal Farm" type scenario where those who led the revolution against "major media" are in fact themselves major media. "Legitimizing " blogs is a slippery slope, especially when it comes at the expense of exclusionary tactics. Again, let me make perfectly clear that I am not slamming individual sites for their content nor the status they have achieved through the collective psychology of linking and legitimizing. This is not a "Person X is ruining the Internet" because, well, that's dumber than the idea of a Tara Reid Movie Marathon.

In any case, now that people seem willing to subscribe to a hierarchy within a "blogasphere" created by the blogging collective, it should be interesting to see how this all plays out. To me, this belies the grass roots nature not only of warblogging, but blogging itself. I just know that all this drama isn't what I signed up for when I started this site, and, luckily, I still don't have to sign up for it. I am one of those on the periphery, always have been; only now, I've pretty much stopped looking in. They're doing their thing, I'm doing mine. We'll both be pretty much OK, I think. It's like two cars who are splitting at a slight fork in the road---neither of us is quite sure where they other's heading. Hell, neither party knows where they themselves are heading. Maybe we'll coverge somewhere down the line. I think I'd like that.

Then again, maybe we'll smash into a great fender bender. We'll just have to see. In any case, the punk days are gone, the TRL days are here.