I got an email on January 17th letting me know that one of the many bloggers I follow had posted something. This one was by Le Clown. Notifications that Le Clown had posted yet again on his blog could mean only thing; the prolific bastard had published yet another insightful, painful and/or amusing post.
For those of you who didn’t follow him, let’s leave it at this – Le Clown’s blog was what yours (or mine) would be if you (or I) were incredibly talented, wildly creative and highly motivated. Over the life of his blog, “A Clown On Fire”, he added other blog sites, including “The Outlier Collective” and “Black Box Warnings”.
You may have noticed that I am writing about Le Clown in the past tense – how very observant of you. The reason for this is simple; in the January 17th post, Le Clown said goodbye. He ended all of his blogs and bid us all adieu. He thanked everyone for participating and issued a blanket apology to anyone he managed to offend.
I was fortunate to have discovered Le Clown, though truthfully he was hard to miss. I was tickled when he eventually read some of my posts. From my perspective, his blogs were tremendously popular and critically acclaimed. At one point, he asked me to write a post for The Outlier Collective. I was honored and more than a little apprehensive. It’s one thing to read someone’s work and be impressed, it’s an entirely different experience to post your own work on their blog. I wrote a post called “Killing Me Softly With Your Ad” about a tragically stupid and insensitive television ad which Hyundai had briefly aired abroad. As it happened, the post I had written was well received by Le Clown’s vast audience and got a respectable number of hits and comments. This would be a great place to put a link to the post, but upon looking for it, I discovered that like everything else Le Clown had a hand in creating on WordPress, it was gone.
Upon realizing that my post had vanished, I was upset. After thinking about it a little though, I’ve accepted its disappearance. In this mercurial virtual landscape there is no permanence. Everything in the world can flash on your screen for one moment and then be gone the next. Nothing is really forever here, not even Le Clown.
I commented to my long suffering wife the other day about my recently having achieved another landmark in followers.
“Honey, my blog now has over fourteen hundred followers!”
“That’s nice dear,” she replied, but then asked “Does that mean something?”
I rolled my eyes discretely at her lack of comprehension of the nuts and bolts of blog mechanics.
“It means that every time I write a new post, one thousand four hundred and seven people, collectively known as my followers, are notified of this momentous event. They can then scramble to the nearest smart phone, laptop or if they’re homeless, the public library, and hang on my every word. Despite the publishing industry’s opinion that I have very little to offer in the way of writing skills, there are fourteen hundred people who feel otherwise”
“That’s nice, dear.” she said, already refocusing her attention back to the sudoko puzzle or Kindle or whatever that thing was that allowed her to ignore me.
I sat there, mildly upset that she had not suggested uncorking some champagne to celebrate. I turned my attention back to my trusty computer and looked at one of my latest posts. This particular one was a whimsical discussion as to the merits or drawbacks of a dog having multiple penises, as originally suggested by former President William Jefferson Clinton. Then I jumped over to the stats page.
The post had registered 11 likes and 141 people had actually read it. These numbers are pretty typical for my posts.
I have a list of 70 or 80 people who I notify en masse via email whenever I post, most of them are not technically “followers” as far as WordPress is concerned. The email recipients are coworkers, family members and the receptionist at my urologist’s office among others. Many read the posts so they can avoid being badgered by me to do so, and at least one coworker has admitted to only reading my blog when seated on the toilet. Of my 141 hits, I’d estimate that 27 of them were from my stash of these non-follower, peer-pressure readers.
I try to tag my posts in a manner which accurately guides readers to my work. After all, it’s easy to attract readers from search engines by including content tags like “Bieber”, “Kanye”, “public urination” or “Kardashian” despite the fact that the post was mostly about my fondest Thanksgiving memory. My tags for the dog weenie post were “Clinton”, “dog”, “lucky”, “two”, “humor”, and “dick.”
My estimates for hits generated per tag are as follows:
Clinton: 6 hits. Rationale: Bill, Hillary and Chelsea are still news worthy, depending upon the week’s events. Funk master George Clinton may have been good for a hit as well.
Dog: 4 hits. Rationale: Everybody likes dogs, also I noticed Korea was well represented in my global numbers.
Lucky: 5 hits. Luck and/or being lucky is always a popular concept, though being as lucky as “a dog with two dicks” is still an analogy known only to Bill Clinton and the hill-people.
Two: 7 hits. Two is a pretty good number. Everyone knows that one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.
Humor: 6 hits. In these dark times, everyone could use a laugh. They’ll plug words like “humor”, “chuckle” and “guffaw” into search engines and hope for a few yuks to take their minds off of the rumors about lay-offs down at the salt mine.
Dick: 13 hits. I’m assuming I would have had even better numbers if Clinton had said Obama was luckier than “a pussycat with 17 titties.”
Those estimates account for 41 of my hits coming from search engines.
So between search engines and my personal mailing list I’ve accounted for 68 of my 141 hits. Assuming no random hits, I can deduce that the remaining 73 hits on my post came from actual followers.
1407 followers minus the 73 who actually read the post leaves 1334 followers who didn’t read my post. Roughly 95% of my followers didn’t follow me loyally enough to read my post. Cue the sad violin music and zoom in on the tears welling up in my eyes. As for the “likes”, 11 out of 1407 followers isn’t even relevant. Mathematicians could argue that statistically no one actually liked the post.
I glanced over at my wife, who was so engrossed in the romance novel on her Kindle that she had fallen asleep. I smiled to myself, secure in the knowledge that for the time being at least, she didn’t know what a total failure I turned out to be in the blog world, despite amassing 1407 followers. That bottle of bubbly can just keep on taking up valuable refrigerator space until we have something meaningful to celebrate, like Justin Bieber publicly urinating on a prostitute who turned out to be a Kardashian.
It’s happened again. Someone has created an award, and… [shuffling feet, blushing slightly]…I’ve won it. This particular award is timely in its arrival in the in-box I normally reserve for Nigerian inheritance notices and Swedish erotica. It’s the Loyal Reader Award, which comes complete with fraternity hazing rituals rules and a groovy badge which may or may not infringe on the copyrighted material of one Peter Max.
In these times of followers who don’t follow or even understand my native tongue, it’s time we gave credit to our followers who actually follow us – those hearty souls who endeavor to read nearly everything we write. I was nominated for this noble award by the globe-trotting Blogdramedy. She felt bad for me after I whined about my non-following followers. Perhaps she knew how emotionally drained I was after my very public spat with those cranky-pants gas-bags over at Team Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It’s even possible that the lovely Ms. Dramedy mistook my frequent visits to her posts as being due to my reading them, when as often as not, I’m just checking in to see if the skirt in her header illustration has been raised any higher than it was the last time I checked it. I’m just a sucker for leggy babes – rumor has it there’s a scooter in the picture too, though I don’t recall seeing one.
In any case, I know better than to snub an award from this particular blogger, lest my invitation to next year’s holiday blogfest get “lost in the mail.”
The rules for this particular award, as I understand them, are fairly simple:
1. Thank the person who nominated you. Grazzi, Bloggia Dramedella! Tuttorosso al fresco parmigiano!
2. Display the badge proudly on your blog – I promise to do so. In fact, the first chance I get, I’m going to put it right on the mantle where the Liebster Award currently sits. The Liebster award is getting dusty and to be honest, ever since someone gave Liebsters to “Ohiodiscountinsulatedwindowscall4afreequote” and “earnXtramoneyAskmehow”, the trophy just doesn’t have the same cache’.
3. Nominate everyone you know who may deserve it – luckily for almost everyone I know on this blog site, Blogdramedy has amended that to “one person”. After careful consideration and possibly throwing a dart at my list of followers, I have decided to nominate the lovely and talented Jots From A Small Apt. Jots, as her buddies like to call her, consistently writes witty and insightful posts. She occasionally favors her readers with drawings and other artwork she’s created. What she sees in the naughty drivel I regularly pollute this site with is beyond me. Perhaps she has a thing for Bald Bad Boy Bloggers. Perhaps she feels she can “change” me. Forget it, Dottie – I’m a rebel. Anyway, go check her out – she’s still posting gems, despite recently injuring her arm in a mosh pit incident.
4. Answer a rhetorical question. I know you’re not supposed to answer rhetorical questions, but the one BD asked just begs to be answered:
Can you drink and blog?
My answer, quite simply, is that I have difficulty not drinking and blogging. I once wrote a very short story which described the vodka and grapefruit experience so exhaustively that my wife took away my keys. If alcohol isn’t featured as my topic, then it’s likely playing a role in either inspiration, keyboard lubrication or both. I tried smoking crack and blogging, but I live in the suburbs and the inner city crack house I was frequenting didn’t have wifi – I tell you, it’s amazing what passes for living for some people.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to find out the best way to patch a dart hole in a computer screen.
In yet another example of brilliant people making questionable choices, I’ve been asked by yet another wildly successful blogger to write a guest post. This time it’s the one and only Le Clown of A Clown On Fire. He’s on another level of bloggers, his followers have followers. He’s so successful, that he’s had to diversify in order to share his brilliance more effectively. One of his blogs is called “The Outlier Collective”. If you try to write a blog like I do, you just gasped quietly at what an incredible name for a blog that is. If you don’t write a blog, you probably just took yet another step away from ever doing so, because you know you could never come up with anything remotely as cool as that for a blog name.
True to form, Le Clown’s also got a snappy “TOC” logo for it. TOC, as we blogging insiders like to call it, is actually a collaborative effort between Le Clown and Mme Weebles, another superstar. As if it’s not enough that Le Clown has additional blogs with stunning titles, he even collaborates with other supernovas of the blogging community! Amazing, no? Le Clown and Mme Weebles find worthy writers and toss them some fertile nuggets about which to write. A few days later, the magic appears on tens of thousands of computer screens.
Then the unthinkable happened. Le Clown actually asked me to write a post for The Outlier Collective. I had to double check my email to make sure it wasn’t a blog version of the Mante Te’o scam. I could just picture the cackling practical jokers looking at my eager email replies and falling over one another to try to come up with new and elaborate ways to make me look foolish. Having had imaginary girlfriends for much of my youth, I knew the risks.
As a humble token of my appreciation, I would have included a link to Le Clown’s blog in this awkward post of self-deprecation, but at this very moment, his blog is unavailable for link-age because he’s in the middle of over-hauling it from a visual design standpoint. That’s right; his old blog format was only really, really impressive, and he’s taken on the job of making it moreso.
Rather than link you to the post tomorrow, I’ll just re-blog it once it’s up, so that I can glom onto the snazzy new-look of A Clown On Fire. Before you get all critical of my post tomorrow, please remember that it was not my idea to include my ramblings on his site.
By this time Wednesday, life should be getting back to normal.
As some of you know, I had a traumatic experience last Sunday. I wrote another one of my typical posts, whining about this or that. I plugged in a few internet-scavenged photos to keep it sexy. I didn’t use actual sexy pictures, I just know that a page full of nothing but words can be scary to some people. A couple of pictures with snappy captions may keep them from switching over to travel blogs composed of nothing but snap-shots of someone’s trip to Italy last year. As is my habit, I included the source of each photo in parentheses after my caption.
I did my usual bit of half-assed proof reading, then hit “Publish”
I hadn’t fully taken my finger off the computer key when the giant pink box with red lettering took over my screen. WordPress had “deactivated” me, effectively shutting me out of my own blog – my online home of the past 11 months. All 124 of my posts were gone from me, including the one I’d tried to post merely seconds before. Anyone trying to look at my stuff got a message saying my blog was deactivated and no longer available.
The pink box described people who would violate the terms of the website, using WordPress for ulterior motives; spammers and slicksters trying to sneak advertising into posts and comments. It was made clear that these sorts of people are not welcome at WordPress. It was implied that if my blog had been deactivated, then I had likely proven myself to be just such a piece of vermin.
There was a link I could click to report that my deactivation was in error. I clicked it frantically, pleading my case wherever I could. I tried to identify myself as a good blogger, not some spam-planting reprobate. Sure I make poop jokes and I once wrote a post all about a professional athlete’s urine, but I’m generally a good person. I’ve got followers to think about, for heaven’s sake!
I sent the request for reinstatement. As the minutes dragged by, I started to panic. I Tweeted a few of my WordPress cohorts. Then I wrote emails to a couple of them who had foolishly let me know their online addresses. I got some helpful support from them, but as the time dragged on with no word from WordPress, I started to accept that my blog was gone. My many posts, strings of comments back and forth with blogging chums, pages and pages of unbridled goofiness, all vanished forever into the black hole of “Crap-that-disappears-from-the-computer-without-warning”. Despondent that my blog was gone, I even tried to send farewell messages to a few people telling them my actual name and asking them to watch out for my novel, which I would surely finish and publish with all this newly available time-not-spent-blogging. I’m hoping that not too many of those tearful goodbyes made it through.
I finally gave up on staring at my in-box and got cracking on my non-blog chores for the day. As I strolled the aisles of the supermarket, I pondered life without a blog. I couldn’t even consider going and starting a new one. Putting in that amount of work and time to build a new audience and community for something so fleeting seemed like an idiotic idea. By the same token, I couldn’t imagine how I’d go on without this forum. Blogging is the creative outlet which I’d been seeking for so many years.
On the other hand, I felt pathetic. How had I become one of “those people” who write blogs and then insist on trying to get everyone I meet to read them? Worse yet, what kind of odd nonsense would I move onto next? Maybe I could get a clip-board and go door to door getting signatures for or against some cause or other. I could just start hanging around the local coffee joint and talk about the weather or “kids today”. I could become one of those doomsday preppers who I made fun of in several posts – without a blog I’d be well on my way to a life without technology, living off the land and shooting anyone who got too close to my bean field.
One of the free-sample people at the store gave me a nibble to try and asked how my day was going. I hesitated, trying to figure out how to begin to tell this guy how my world had been shattered. Before I could put it into words, he gave a piece of cheese on a cracker to the lady next to me and asked how her day was going. I turned and walked off toward the paper products, relieved I hadn’t been midway into my story of blog-love and blog-loss when he turned to the lady. No one would understand except my fellow bloggers, and I’d lost them.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I got an email from someone at WordPress whose job title was “happiness engineer”. The last time I dealt with someone whose job title was happiness engineer, they were trying to sell me a latex-free marital aide which ran at several speeds and had “life-like” features. The batteries weren’t included. The WordPress happiness engineer asked me to please remove the reference to a certain website from my blog. The website was where I got one of my aforementioned photos. I had typed in the web address in an effort to give credit where credit was due. As it happened, the website was on some WordPress no-fly list and had triggered the shut down. One stupid little web address in a photo caption had caused all this turmoil?
Obviously my scrape with near deletion has had an effect on me. Hopefully I’ll eventually be able to get my old swagger back and start posting poop stories and making adult-diaper jokes. For now though, I’ve got to take baby steps and work my way back into blogging in tentative little strides. I hope my readers can understand how difficult that time was, and how deeply I missed each and every one of you, for every minute of those several hours away in deactivation limbo.
Everyone knows that some topics are just more appealing than others. If you write about the best way to peel a rutabaga, you shouldn’t be too surprised at the lack of hits. Juicy, sexy topics will almost certainly be more popular. Many readers, just like actual people, are bottom-feeding gutter dwellers. They savor scandal and yearn to laugh at the idiocy of others.
So penning a post on the “Real Housewives of Tulsa” or a similar bit of pop-culture fluff will almost guarantee hits. Even so, you’ll inevitably get comments from people who don’t watch “those shows”. Given half a chance, they’ll point out that while you’re watching inept goldminers sift through dirt and try to fix broken front-end loaders, they’re sitting on their intellectual buttocks watching BBC America for the higher-browed, better versions of The Office, Kitchen Nightmares and Who Wants to be a Bloody Millionaire, Eh Guv-nah?
The long-standing advice to writers has always been to “write what you know”. This advice is quite logical, as writing about what you don’t know is damn near impossible. If you doubt me, refer to my post titled, “How the Minds of Women Work” .
The trouble is that what most of us “know” is pretty boring and not even of interest to ourselves, let alone others. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started writing a post on “wheelchair seating assessments for the non-ambulatory pediatric population” only to realize that there’s just not enough sex and violence to keep most readers on the hook. Similarly, my post “Forty Shades of Brown” on the best approaches to raking leaves in a yard littered with Labradoodle dookie, while filled with useful information, fell flat on the hits. I’m almost certain that recounting a less successful outing in the yard, complete with slips, falls and cursing would have been better received.
The best strategy then, is this; if you have to write what you know, be sure to jazz it up with some dirty humor and fabricated violence whenever possible. I’ll show you what I mean. Here’s a brief paragraph I wrote up for an example;
Peeling a rutabaga doesn’t have to be difficult. Using a sharp knife and cutting board, I start at the end where one of the flat spots is. I chop a fairly thick slab off – maybe a 1/4 inch – parallel to the flat spot. This gives me a nice stable root vegetable to work with – you don’t want that thing rolling around when you’re handling sharp knives! Next, I systematically slice the waxy skin from the equator down towards the cutting board. Don’t worry if you cut the skin off on the thick side, rutabagas are pretty big – you should still have plenty! In my next post, I’ll describe the best way to chop, cook and prepare the rutabagas for your table!
There wasn’t much wrong with that paragraph. It gave a fairly decent idea of how to peel a rutabaga. My special hints on how to make the homely rutabaga a star on your Thanksgiving table will remain top secret. I’m trying to instruct you rubes on how to write successful blogs, if you think I’m going to divulge decades of culinary knowledge in the process, then you’ve got another thing coming. Wait..Don’t pout! You know it pulls at my heart strings to see you that way. Alright… I’ll give you a cooking hint, but then it’s back to writing winning blogs. Here it is: If you put enough butter on it, even a turd becomes appetizing. Happy now? Good! Now let’s dab those tears away and get back to writing. I’m going to take that same paragraph, but punch it up and really give it some zip.
You want to know how to peel a rutabaga? Cut all the waxy crap off the outside of it and try not to lose any fingers. If you’re a woman – and you should be, because this is woman’s work, after all – I suggest wearing a lacy apron and a pair of pumps while you do it. It’d be nice if you did something with your hair too, but it’s not mandatory. When you’re about half way done, put down the knife and go see if your man needs his martini refreshed. When you ask him, try to smile and use a soothing tone – he’s probably had a tough day already. If he slaps you on the fanny as you turn to return to the kitchen, be a good sport and give him a little squeal.
Did you notice the difference? It was subtle – go back and read the two paragraphs again if you need to, I’ll wait.
Careful readers might think that the second paragraph was a tad sexist. I wouldn’t be surprised if the more sensitive among you were even insulted by it. The important thing is the end result; the next time I post something, no matter how inane the subject matter, readers will hopefully click on it as they mutter the words “I wonder what that idiot will say this time“.
To summarize, it doesn’t matter what your topic is, as long as you write with some style and a voice, even if the voice is that of a moron. Here are some more helpful rules of thumb:
If the post is “clean” enough to send to your 12 year old niece, you need to go back and sex it up. You also need to drop your niece off your email list. I’m sure she has more than enough homework and only reads your blog because your sister-in-law makes her.
If there aren’t enough scatalogical references to keep the attention of your average 6th grade boy, then put some in there. Refer to my “buttering a turd” reference above – that one’s a gem!
If no one gets slapped, pinched or threatened, you need to find a way to work that kind of stuff into your post – I’m telling you, violence is blog gold!
Finally – Give your blog a test-read, aloud, before you consider publishing it. If it sounds like the audio-book adaptation for “Changing The Oil In Your Ford Taurus”, narrated by Ben Stein, you’ll need to consider an overhaul, or better yet, just trash it and start over.
Tune in next time, when I provide more tips for writing winning blogs!
About the author: Ironically, despite his massive following and several “likes” of most of his posts, 1pointperspective has yet to be Freshly Pressed. He’s been blogging about the goings on in his head for 10 months or so, and he doesn’t seem to heed his own advice, except for the stuff about poop references. He lives in a cardboard box just adjacent to a steam grate, just south of City Hall in Philadelphia. When not giving free blog advice, he pan-handles and screams at tourists.
There’s an old joke. A man is interviewing Poland’s greatest comedian.
He asks, “What is the secret to being Poland’s grea-”
Before he can finish asking the question, the comedian emphatically says, “Timing!”
(If you’re Polish and you’re offended, please feel free to revise the joke, substituting Croatia for Poland and dental hygenist for comedian – it won’t be nearly as funny, but we’ll have spared your tender feelings at the expense of those annoying Croatian mouth workers)
There’s a good deal of truth to the thought behind the joke. Not the Polish part, but the timing aspect. Timing is critical, and not just for telling jokes. Timing may also play a key role in getting blog hits.
I’ve repeatedly promised myself that I’m going to look into figuring out the best time to post things to actually get people to look at them. Up till now, the extent of my research has been to have more than 3 people visible on Facebook chat before posting my link there.
My problem is that when I finally finish polishing the turds I call posts, I just can’t help myself and have to hit the “Publish” button. It doesn’t matter if it’s 2 A.M. or the night before Ramadan, I’ve got to get that gem out for everyone to see.
Sometimes I have a additional fear that the topicality of my post is waning, and I need to hit “Publish” as quickly as possibly before Dr. Phil is no longer a B grade celebrity and my post loses what little relevance it might have once had.
My timing also took a hit when the movers and shakers at WordPress decided to ignore daylight savings time. I was used to my posts having all the way up to 8 PM Eastern time to collect hits, then suddenly the end of the reading day became 7. As if it weren’t depressing enough to face total darkness by 4:27 in the afternoon, now I’ve got one less hour to collect hits on my Tori Spelling blog posts (Please do not waste your time explaining that I have an extra hour in the morning – everyone knows that particular hour is only good for beauty sleep).
Here then, are my unscientific findings on the best timing for posting blogs.
Morning, noon or night?
Many writers feel that morning is the best posting time. They post as early in the day as is practical, keeping in mind the importance of getting to work on time and the aforementioned beauty sleep. They hope for big numbers of reader hits from the breakfast crowd. After all, few things are more satisfying than having a commenter exclaim that they laughed so hard that orange juice spewed out of their nose and all over their Cap’n Crunch. While the morning post is tempting, the reality is that many readers have the eye function of 1 day-old kittens at this time of the day. Recent scientific studies have shown that a large percentage of American employees don’t actually wake up until just before their lunch breaks.
Other bloggers will swear by the mid-day post. For the purposes of my study, I’ve defined “mid-day” as anywhere from the time my morning fish oil capsule stops repeating on me and the hour of my afternoon visit to the 3rd floor men’s room over by human resources. I swear, hardly anyone knows about that bathroom. It’s always clean and my magazine is usually right where I left it. I’d appreciate if we could keep the location of this tidy little oasis a secret – so mum’s the word, OK? As for timing, mid-day is a big mistake for posting – people are at work and/or chasing small children around – focusing on a 900 word blog about which reality star annoys you is more than likely going to have limited appeal.
Finally, there are the night owls of the blogging world. These writers post in the evening, certain in their convictions that a belly full of meatloaf and martinis when they publish will guarantee success. These authors should make sure to take their sweet time so that they don’t hit that button before 7 PM Eastern, because once that witching hour comes, the slate is cleared and new hits go into the next day’s hopper. Waiting too long after 7 is also a mistake, as many readers will turn off their laptops in the coming hours in desperate attempts at spending “quality time” with spouses and if necessary, children. A little attention to timing on the part of these readers can help avoid the children altogether, but the spouse may resent their having read blogs during both bath and homework times. Clearly evening posting is fraught with pitfalls and risks and should be avoided.
I Don’t Like Mondays
The savvy blog writer may also wish to pay close attention to which day of the week it is when they publish a post. Might the content of a given post have an impact on where in the week it should appear? For instance, one could imagine that a post about the diminished mental capacity of one’s boss would find a welcoming audience on a Monday. This is not necessarily correct. In fact, a recent informal poll indicates that people are annoyed with the incompetence of bosses and coworkers pretty much every day.
Most people define the weekends as a time for rest and recharging the batteries. With this in mind, it’s critical to consider that reading your blog might not fit into some readers’ definitions of leisure time. They may resent having to “sound out” erudite, ostentatious words from your post on a day when they’d planned to lay around in their jammies until sometime after their noon naps.
After minutes of painstaking research, I’m able to conclude that it does not matter a lick at what hour or day of the week you post a blog. Those fickle readers will read it when and if they feel like it. As often as not, they’ll leave it hanging on the vine to wither and die. Feel free to hit the publish button any time you choose – you can be confident that it won’t make any difference. While timing may be important in comedy and cooking, bloggers can feel free to disregard it, unless they run the risk of being late for work.
Be sure to tune in next time, when I tackle another topic in the quest for blog supremacy.
About the Author: 1pointpersective is a blogger who’s been scribbling his tired musings about life on WordPress for 9 months or so. He would be the first to tell you that he doesn’t know crap about writing or blog success. Truth be told, he only writes blog posts to kill time while he waits to win the lottery or face the zombie apocalypse, whichever comes first.
I was recently nominated for an award. This should come as no surprise, and not because I’m an incredible writer with the rare combination of a razor-sharp wit and a gentle, tender side – though that does describe my writing perfectly.
I was nominated because of the way awards work in the blogging world. There are many awards. This particular one is The Liebster Award. The Liebster Award works like many blogging awards; you get nominated, have to answer questions about yourself, then, in some way, shape, or form, you have to nominate others. In the case of the Versatile Blogger Award, it was 7 additional nominations, in the case of the Liebster, it’s 11 of them.
It’s Oscar night, 1955. The RKO Theater is packed with Hollywood’s most glamorous celebrities.
Bob Hope is the host (for you younger folks, think Billy Crystal, but talented). The music dies down and he names the nominees. Hope drops his friendly smile as he opens the envelope. It’s time for a big announcement.
“The Academy Award for best director is,” a look of mild surprise crosses Hope’s face, “Elia Kazan, for ‘On The Waterfront’!”.
Kazan, looking dapper in his tuxedo, makes his way to the stage to a standing ovation. After the applause dies down, he gives his acceptance speech. It’s blissfully short and predictable – he gives credit to Marlon Brando and Eva-Marie Saint, he throws a bone to the studio for taking a chance on “another boxing film”, then he wraps it up and is about to turn and walk off the stage. Bob Hope rushes up and firmly grabs Kazan just above the elbow and guides him back to the podium in an awkward dance.
“Elia, old chum,” says Hope “you forgot the rules of the award. Before you go back to your seat, you need to nominate eleven other directors.” Hope mugs to the crowd, raising his eyebrows and smiling. “Or did the shine from that little statue get you all razzled?”
Kazan is in fact razzled. He steps back to the podium, rubbing his arm where Hope had grabbed him. Hope stands just off to the side with a thin smile, ready to move back in if Elia makes a run for his seat.
“Well” Kazan begins “I’d like to nominate my four fellow nominees; Alfred Hitchcock, George Seaton, Bill Wellman and Billy Wilder.” The crowd applauds politely as the cameras pan the audience to find the nominees. Hitchcock is caught on camera making a face which looks like he just swallowed a lemon-flavored turd.
“That’s great, Elia” says Hope. He turns to the audience as though they’re all sharing a dirty joke with him and continues, “Just seven more“.
Once Kazan manages to blubber out seven more names, he is permitted to leave the stage, whereupon he skips returning to his seat and exits the theater. Once out of camera range, he vomits behind a potted palm. Kazan is certain he has missed someone and is not entirely sure that his eleven nominees are all as worthy as Hitchcock and Wilder. He notices that a few flecks of what was once a Delmonico steak dinner washed down with a few gin rickeys have landed on his trophy. He grins at the irony and begins thinking about his next project as he walks down Vine looking for his limo.
Meanwhile, back in the theater, the new award winners are taking their turns at the microphones and being bullied by Bob Hope into each naming eleven additional recipients. By the time Japanese director Motoyoshi Oda is nominated for “Gigantis the Fire Monster” the cameras have long been turned off and the crowds have gone home. Many of the audience members left the theater earlier in fear that they directed something and would eventually be nominated. They discretely hide their faces as they go, lest they’re spotted by whoever Hope is strong-arming at the time.
Now don’t get me wrong, being nominated for an award is an honor. I really appreciate Life With The Top Down’s having thought of me. She writes a very good blog which runs a gamut of topics and really gives you a glimpse into who she is. Let’s be frank, chicks and convertibles, man! Who doesn’t dig a combo like that, am I right? Click on her name above and see for yourself.
As part of my nomination requirements, I pledge to answer Top Down’s eleven questions:
1. What is you favorite song of all time?“Lively Up Yourself” by Bob Marley and the Wailers. Great bass, kind of an edge to it versus some of the more mainstream, sweet songs that people think of when Bob Marley comes to mind. For the record, I was tempted to say “Rockin’ Shoppin’ Center” by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, just to appear aloof and eccentric.
2. Boxers, briefs, boy shorts, granny panties, thong or the universal choice of Commando?That’s kind of a personal question. Mr. Hope, you’re hurting my arm! If I say “thongs” will you let go of me?! What am I wearing now?! Really?! It’s orthopaedic underwear, if you must know…I need it for the tux to fit right. Geez!
3. Would you break the law to save a loved one? Of course I would, especially if the loved one was a rich lawyer. Love ya, Steve!
4. Would you go back to being a teenager, without the wisdom you have now?Are you implying that I have more wisdom now than I did when I was a teenager? Back then I knew everything, now I know almost nothing. Let me give it some thought. Do I get to keep my current income? Would I get my hair back, but lose my back hair?
5. What are you most grateful for?That my wife and kids don’t hate me…oh, and electricity!
6. Are you a beach or mountain kind of person?Both! That’s a blatant shout-out for the Oregon Coast.
7. Reveal one of your guilty pleasures? I love watching the Spanish language channel and pretending the vixens are fighting over me.
8. Are you a dark, milk or white chocolate lover? At the risk of alienating many of my female readers, I’m going to go ahead and say “Meh! Chocolate-Shmocolate – I can take it or leave it”
9. If you could give a newborn child one piece of advice, what would it be?“Quick! Get back in the womb! It only gets worse!”
10. What is your best childhood memory? I tend to repress the good ones and focus on the horrible stuff. Once, Kitty Carlisle scared the crap out of my little brother and me. Also, there was the time the hoodlum kids stole my Halloween candy. Ah, memories!
11. Do you act your age or your shoe size? Luckily my feet are massive, but still they’re only in the teens. My age on the other hand, is getting up there. I’m going to say that I act my waist size….don’t ask.
Another requirement of this award is that I tell eleven things about myself. I just answered eleven questions, and you people want to know MORE about me? You’re gluttons for punishment. OK, here goes:
1. I was painfully shy as a child, now I’m painfully extroverted.
2. As a child, I bit my fingernails. When out of fingers, I’d bite my toenails. For the record, I never bit anyone else’s nails – that’s just gross.
3. I love to hear myself talk, yet I’m befuddled when asked to write eleven things about myself.
4. I have a secret plan for world domination, but I can’t tell anyone – it’s a secret.
5. I’m more of a “dog person” than I am a “cat person”, but if you cook them right, I’m OK with either.
6. I watch House Hunters International to satisfy my strange fetish for realtors with accents.
11. I have a rare learning disability which results in my often skipping entire groups of numbers when making lists.
So far so good. I’ve satisfied all of the rules, except one. The mother of all rules. I’m supposed to nominate eleven other bloggers, each of whom has less than 200 followers. I have no idea how many followers my favorite bloggers have. I strongly suspect that most of my favorites either have more than 200 followers, or have already won this award. So….I’m gonna take this neat little trophy and try to get off the stage before Bob Hope comes back from his bathroom break. In the event that the Liebster Police come looking for their trophy, it’ll be good fodder for another post.
A blogger named Lenore Diane recently decided that it would be fun to invite some of her fellow writers to wax poetic all about how deeply they love Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. The great thing about an idea like this is that it gives the writers a chance to express their personal views on a wonderfully universal topic. I can’t speak for all bloggers, but I love having someone else give me a topic to write about, it so beats the hell out of coming up with a thought from scratch.
A cynic might point out that this entire affair is a thinly disguised attempt on L.D.’s part to get a lifetime supply of frozen pints for all the free publicity. There are others who see this as something darker, something that’s so very, very wrong.
L.D. and I have a little history. We run in some of the same blog circles and our comments sometimes intersect. We follow one another on Twitter. We’re not exactly blog buddies, but we know of each other. Despite our obvious connection, she left me off her list of people who were invited to write about Ben and Jerry’s delicious product line. Amazing, right?!
A closer look at the list of bloggers who were invited reveals that only one of the ten invitees is a male. To clarify, the topic is Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, not how hard it is to find a pair of pumps to go with that green skirt or Keith Urban’s dreamy eyes. Anyone who’s ever stood in the Quickie Mart at 2:30 in the morning with $5.63 burning a hole in their pocket knows about Ben and Jerry’s, irrespective of whether they tinkle standing up or not.
I’m not upset that L.D. didn’t invite me specifically to write on this topic (yes I am). I am upset that there wasn’t a more gender-balanced group (no I’m not, I couldn’t care less).I’m sure if she was pressed on an answer, L.D. would say it just worked out that way, and I’m sure that’d be true. Let’s face it, society has decided that sweet, rich desserts are the domain of women. That’s why “Cupcake Wars” is not going to be found on Spike TV, not even in syndicated re-runs.
I don’t normally get all charged up about being slighted like this. Maybe it’s the time of year. All the political commercials, mud-slinging and such has me feeling contentious and more knee-jerky than ever. I’m sure that my crankiness can also be traced to Weight Watchers for Men – I’m just not sure how. I feel like it’s only a matter of time before I’ll have to listen to Charles Barkley going on and on about how great it is to fit into his skinny jeans – it’s just wrong. On a side note, I need to find out if pissing and moaning can earn me exercise points.
The frustrating part is that I feel like I could’ve written a good post on Ben and Jerry’s. I’m a big fan of their products as well as the company’s socially conscientious efforts to be something other than a money-making conglomerate. As for their flavors, my favorite would have to be Heroin Toffee Crunch, if only they’d make it. Seriously, that stuff would be addictive. I’d also really enjoy Cashew-Gesundheit Frozen Yogurt, but only during cold season.
Alas, the opportunity to join in on the love fest for Ben and Jerry’s is a ship which has sailed. I’ll lick my emotional wounds and hope that the next time there’s a call for entries, my deep voice and shaved head won’t keep me from being considered. Being so manly in this world of sensitive writers has cost me another opportunity. It would shatter gender stereotupes for me to weep anymore about it, I’ll just have to suffer quietly and pretend that I’m not hurting on the inside. This is when real men retreat to moody silence and a tumbler of single malt scotch.
L.D., no hard feelings. We’re good. Please, notes of apology aren’t required (but if you feel like sending me one of those coupons for a free pint, I won’t turn my nose up at it).
There was a quote by Mark Twain which essentially said that there are three kinds of lies; Lies, damn lies and statistics. Fittingly enough, Twain attributed the remark to Benjamin Disreali. I know this because I had a statistics instructor in college tell us that the first day of class. I’m still not sure if that was the best thing to tell us as we started our study of stats, but that was his choice. In his defense, I’ve recalled that quote, albeit somewhat incorrectly, for all these years since. By the same token, I’ve pretty much forgotten everything else we covered after that first day.
In the spirit of lies and damn lies, I’ve assembled a few of my own statistics for your reading pleasure. While some of the stats may be twisted or completely fabricated, the important thing is that this piece gives me a chance to put a bunch of links to other things I’ve written. If stats are good for one thing, it’s surely self-promotion.
Number of Posts = 80
Blogging Since = February 2012
Number of times Freshly Pressed = 0 (Refer to an upcoming post on the phenomenon known to WordPressers as Freshly Pressed)
Number of times I looked at the drivel I’d posted and prayed it wouldn’t be Freshly Pressed – Oh please, not this time! = 67
Lowest hits on a post = Gotta Start Somewhere– My very first blog post, with a massive 17 hits. It was tentative, weak, could well have also been my last post, but 17 people read it. I felt obligated to my teeny fan base to write a second post. The rest, as they say, is the reason the garage isn’t cleaned out yet.
Highest hits on a post =Life Lessons From Gilligan’s Island – A ridiculous 471 hits and counting. Seriously people?! I compared the Skipper to Jerry Sandusky! This is the post you love most?
Average time required to draw an illustration for a post = 2.9 hours. That’s an average. Some took much longer, and one or two were practically doodles.
Average time required to surf, copy, save, retrieve, crop and properly credit photos from the web for a given post = 2.89 hours. Part of the reason this takes me so long is that my computer keeps taking me to porn sites and fantasy football articles.
Average time spent writing a blog post, not including illustrations/web photos = 45 minutes
Average time spent editing/re-reading/re-writing the above 45 minute post = 3.73 hours. This statistic does not include the times when, after multiple edits I just got so sick of looking at the post that I deleted it out of spite.
Average number of times someone on Facebook utters under their breath for me to “get a life” per blog link posted on my wall = 1.3 . Admittedly, this is only an estimate, but if my wife is any indication, I think it’s pretty close.
Average amount of time spent daily by those very same Facebookers on virtual farming, mystical quests for dragon eggs and Words With Friends = 7.3 hours. Also an estimate, exaggerated for comedic value. For the record, my wife does not partake in any such Facebook activities. Sadly, the same cannot be said for my oldest brother Mike.
Number of contacts who I send a blog link to via personal email every single time I post = 83. No exaggeration here. These people were foolish enough to give me their email addresses and now my notifications pop up more often than spam for discounted Mexican Viagra.
Number of them who delete the email but don’t have the heart to tell me to stop sending them = 71. This number is based on how often I see friends and colleagues (and neighbors, Bill) who never comment on my latest blog. They’ll avert their eyes and suddenly get urgent cell phone calls if I even bring up the subject (I didn’t hear it ring. Huh. I guess it was on vibrate)
Monetary value of total hits of posts = $0. Unless you count the time I found a five dollar bill in a box of colored pencils while looking for a decent eraser.
Emotional value that someone read me, even if they don’t speak English = Priceless. This, of course, is a nod to all my fans, but especially my uber fan, Manon Kubler. Kubler, to the best of my knowledge, speaks no English, but still insists on raving about my blog and even reblogging it, presumably to his countrymen who may or may not believe me to be some kind of “Cargo God”