virtual virago: classic movies

A little more than a week ago, I came across a blog by Jennifer Garlen, Virtual Virago, subtitled “Classic movies, literature, and popular culture - welcome to my world!” I couldn’t help seeing a large number of similarities between Garlen and myself. She writes a blog about film, she has a PhD in English, she taught college English and literature for fourteen years at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, and she continues to teach while homeschooling her kid (I haven’t asked her about all of this, I’m just taking the info from her G+ page).

A sampling of her recent blog posts gives a sense of what interests her: Two Smart People with Lucille Ball, Key Largo with Bogart and Bacall, Wee Willie Winkie with Shirley Temple, Love Me or Leave Me with Doris Day and James Cagney, and the Warner Brothers’ all-star extravaganza, Hollywood Canteen.

Another recent post rang some familiar chimes for many of us who write blogs about movies. In “Confessions of a Classic Movie Blogger”, she lets us in on a few secrets. “I start every movie hoping I'll really like it.” “I love genre films, even cheesy ones.” “In my other life, I was an English professor.” And perhaps my favorite, “I love what I do!”

It turns out Garlen has also written a book, Beyond Casablanca: 100 Classic Movies Worth Watching. In a G+ exchange about the book, I told her, “the first entry that I looked up was Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Second was The Passion of Joan of Arc.” And I added, “What I found impressive was that you had something interesting to say about A&C Meet Frankenstein…. you made a couple of connections I hadn't thought of ... that Scooby-Doo comes from the same place, and that Lon Chaney, Jr. doesn't seem to be in on the joke.” One of her “confessions” in the above blog post was, ”I keep David Thomson's Have You Seen...? A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films next to my bed at all times.” Beyond Casablanca includes only 10% as many films, but it’s another one to keep by your bedside. (Among the movies she discusses are personal faves like The Girl Can’t Help It, Rio Bravo, Night of the Hunter, and Top Hat.) She also includes with each film a list of other movies you might like in the same vein.

The seventh item on her list of confessions reads, “I wish I knew how to promote my classic movie guide and blog without being a pain about it.” I don’t mind being a pain. I recommend both book and blog, and look forward to a lot of reading.


am i dying?

On io9, my old friend Annalee Newitz has a piece, “Magazines have finally killed blogs – but in a way you never expected”. She describes how RSS grew out of Usenet (in the process, probably reminding us that most people don’t even know what those are, which matters to what follows).

Usenet was a text-based publishing system that allowed people to create newsgroups, kind of like group blogs or Tumblrs, where people could swap stories, news, information, pictures, and more. Like blogs, the topics of these newsgroups ranged from kinky sex and recipes, to microchip architecture and carpentry. And the way most people read newsgroups was to subscribe to the ones they liked so that they could ignore the thousands of newsgroups that were competing for their attention.

There were very strong online communities in the Usenet world … the ones I spent the most time in were rec.sport.baseball.sf-giants, and rec.music.artists.springsteen. Baseball Prospectus started when a few people from rec.sport.baseball decided there was a market for their brand of intelligent, feisty analysis (and when I was asked to join them, they knew me only from my posts in that newsgroup). Over time, people moved on, to email lists, to Facebook, to web sites that included a vital community of commenters. This wasn’t all that long ago, but for most people, my guess is it’s like Usenet never existed.

Annalee argues that the Usenet feel moved to RSS. “It was a way to recreate that newsgroup reader feeling for the web. People would publish to their blogs, and you'd use your RSS reader to bring all their posts into one place and read everything at your leisure, in reverse-chronological order. … That why RSS readers were so remarkable -- they let you take information from everywhere and organize it however you like.” Kind of like how it was on Usenet.

But, she points out, “Information in the world of RSS is not organized into silos that resemble magazines or social networks. And RSS no longer feels like the native land of the new web generation.”

Blogs made great use of RSS. You would pick up subscribers who would read your posts, along with the posts of anyone else the user was interested in. They didn’t have to search you out, or check your blog every day to see if something new had been posted. It just turned up in their feed reader. You’d get this odd blend of material … at any given time, my reader might offer up posts on the Giants, political science (sometimes both … hi, Jonathan), Android, television, and anything my friends had come up with.

Annalee notes that this is not how magazines tend to operate. “[M]agazines like Wired and the New Yorker have been able to transition more smoothly to the digital world than newspapers did a decade ago. They are porting their magazines directly into apps that silo content just the way paper magazines do. And many new online publications like Matter and The Atavist are following this model, creating apps that hold their content rather than syndicating them via RSS.” Maybe in the past, you’d see my blog and Wired in your feed reader, but now, you read Wired on your Nexus or Kindle or iPad, isolated from other material. Eventually, you’ll forget my blog exists.

All of this discussion is prompted by the news that Google is shutting down their RSS reader. As they say, “While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined.” Since Google Reader was the most popular reader, this announcement has serious implications for RSS itself. And if Annalee is right, this will benefit magazines like Wired at the expense of blogs like Steven Rubio’s Online Life.

To be honest, I can’t be sure how this affects me. My blog currently has 20 subscribers in Reader … I haven’t checked it in a long time, it’s possible I’ve already lost a few subscribers as people flock to new RSS tools. On the one hand, losing 20 readers doesn’t seem like such a big thing, especially since I assume a lot of those twenty people come to my blog from other places, as well. On the other hand, if my blog lost 20 readers, I might not have any readership left … it’s not like I have a huge audience to begin with.

Over the past year or so, I’ve been more diligent about cross-posting my blog posts to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. I get some feedback from Facebook friends, and in fact I’m sure I have a few more readers than I used to, simply because until I started cross-posting, most of my Facebook friends had no idea I had a blog. Google+ works even better. For Facebook and Twitter, I just post a link to the blog, but for G+, I cut-and-paste the actual post, making another place where people can interact with what I’ve written. So I’m already adapting to the new, post-RSS world. I doubt anything can kill this blog at this point, eleven years into the project, until something kills me.


happy birthday, online life!

I began this blog on January 6, 2002, so today marks the 11th birthday of my self-indulgent ramblings. That’s enough words to fill several books, but I’m way too lazy to write one of those. Instead, I give it all away for free to my dedicated readers, all 12 of you.

My first post carried no hints that this would last so long:

snapshot of life at the moment

OK, here goes. Tried installing MovableType yesterday ... I'm not good enough.

My chair has broken rollers. As I type this, the stereo is playing "Prisoner of Love" by Teddy Wilson & His Orchestra featuring Lena Horne. Robin is in the livingroom reading the Sunday paper and steaming to help her sinuses. Jillian's coming over tonight for dinner and DVD.

Some things don’t change, I suppose … last night, we ate dinner and watched a movie with Jillian (and Doug … he wasn’t around yet in 2002).

Here is the first photo I ever posted:

The first movie I wrote about was American Graffiti.

Yawn.


blog stats 2012

18,314 people visited this site during 2012. Google calls them “unique visitors”. Total # of visits: 26,013. About 3/4 of them came from the U.S. Among the places from which one visit was made in 2012: the Isle of Man, Uzbekistan, and Zimbabwe. The most popular city of origin for visits was Davis, California (Berkeley was second, Toronto third). Six visits came from Malaga.

Chrome and Firefox were the two most popular browsers, with Chrome winning out by a mere 32 visits. Android was a distant fifth. I got 4 visits from Playstation 3s. Windows was the operating system for around 65% of visits, followed by Macintosh, iOS, and Android. The most common screen resolution for mobile visits was 320x480, with 768x1024 second.

3413 of the 26,013 visits came via “social referrals”. More than a third of those came from Facebook, with Twitter running second.

But really, all people care about is my occasional list of phrases from search engines that brought people to my site.

At the top of the list are the usual … “steven rubio”, “begonias.typepad.com”. The first outlier is at #4: “klee irwin”. I suspect this 2009 post is the one people latch onto: “klee irwin piece of shit motherfucking rip-off scam artists”.

Rounding off the top ten are some interesting selections: “the hour”, “steven rubio ophuls ronde”, “marianne faithfull”, “today malone”, “george harrison grave”, and the ever-popular “how does adebisi’s hat stay on”. I’d say the surprise is “the hour” at #5 … didn’t realize how popular that show was.

I suspect “marianne faithfull” has ulterior meanings, which is a nice way to revisit one of the highlights of my search-engine musings: the various searches for what I assume are pictures of naked women (and a few men). Once again, I remind everyone that there are no nekkid pictures on this blog. Anyway, here are just some of the phrases people used that took them to my blog.

marianne faithfull tits (also breasts/boobs/hot/young/big tits/angel with big tits/hot pics/jugs/mars bar up her cunt/big breasts/body/girl on a motorcycle), kristin proctor nude (also topless/naked/nude scene/nude pics/nude pictures/tits/porn/nude in what episode), milton berle nude (see below), christina hendricks nude (also sex/hot), jessica lange legs, jello biafra clothes fans naked, joan jett hot (also sex), tricia helfer victoria’s secret, helen mirren tits (also hot), henry simmons cock, ksenia solo nude (also naked), lost girl nudity (also side boob), mimi rogers the rapture, robin weigert nude pics, shane botwin masturbating to his mom, 2011 gretchen mol rumors, anna silk sex symbol (also boob job/butt crack/sex/sex with a woman), battlestar galactica girls maxim, jenny agutter walkabout nude, nancy botwin nude pics, nicole kidman nude pictures, penis rubios, polly walker rome penis, rachel griffiths nude, nude scene true blood, silas botwin nude

Finally, there are two items that would probably be first and second on the list if I combined every permutation of their mention. Adebisi and his hat would be #2. And, as long-time readers know, Milton Berle would be #1. Here are just a few of the Berle Searches … to save typing, just assume “milton berle” appears in the search, so that “milton berle nude” will be listed here as “nude”:

nude, penis, penis pictures, naked pictures, naked, schlong, cock, pictures of penis, big cock, dick pic, penis photo, big, big dick, cock photos, nude photos, large, penis foto, are there any pictures of dick, bulge pics, how big is dick/penis/cock, how large was appendage, biggest, cocksize, enormous, legend, penis fraud, wears watch on penis, well hung pics, naked pic of his penis only, genitals, big member, legendary penis, stories about enormous cock


campbell’s soup can

When writer Mark Evanier needs to take a short break from his fine blog, News from Me, due to outside work, he posts a picture of a can of Campbell’s soup.

Meanwhile, political scientist Jonathan Bernstein’s blog, A plain blog about politics, has gotten a lot of attention in his field over the past couple of years, and now you can see his writing popping up all over the place (besides his blog, I often find him on Salon). Jonathan writes a lot … his blog usually gets multiple posts per day, and there are the aforementioned other places, so he’s a busy guy.

He is also a Giants fan. Today he apologized for the “slow blogging”, and mentioned that he had an eye on the Giants game.

Me, I can barely look at the TV when the Reds are batting, which gives me a moment to write this. I could be writing something about the Giants, or I could be writing something about Corin Tucker, who I will be seeing this evening. But I’m just gonna toss out a virtual Campbell’s soup can and apologize for the slow blogging.


drumroll for my blogroll

Time.com has posted their “First Annual Blog Index”, what they consider the 25 best out there (along with the five most overrated blogs). While I often come across material from those 25 blogs via other links, I do not have any of them in my Google Reader RSS feed, so I guess I’m an outlier. So, using the Reader’s “Trends” function, here are some blogs/websites I actually do read:

  • TV Squad (156 posts read over the past 30 days, 11% of the available posts): This is mostly for Maureen Ryan … I still call it “TV Squad” even though it has been taken over by HuffPost.
  • Deadspin (135 posts, 20% of available): “Sports News Without Access, Favor, or Discretion”
  • SB Nation Bay Area (130 read, 19% of available): Another sports site; “Pro Quality, Fan Perspective.”
  • McCovey Chronicles (82 read, 62%): SF Giants site.
  • A plain blog about politics (77 read, 82%): Smart political scientist blogging from a centrist Democratic perspective.
  • Salon.com (67 read, 17%): I read Salon a lot more than this shows, because I visit the website multiple times each day, and those don’t show up in Reader.
  • If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger There’d Be a Whole Lot of Copycats (64 read, 100%): You can tell how much I love this site by the 100% read figures. Everyone should have this in their feed reader.
  • Baseball Prospectus (54, 18%): Like with Salon, I visit the BP site several times a day, so the % figures don’t reflect how much time I spend there.
  • ESPN.com (48, 35%): This doesn’t count the ESPN baseball and soccer pages, which I visit a billion times a day.
  • Feministing (44, 44%): A new-to-me blog that is already climbing my list of good reads; “Young Feminists Blogging, Organizing, Kicking Ass”.

I don’t actually know how Google Reader computes these things, so I’ll add two honorable mentions that turn up on a list titled “Clicked” … not sure what that means, but I read these whenever something is actually posted there, which is frequently in Alan’s case, not-so-frequently in Tim’s case:

In most cases, I recommend the above dozen sites if you are interested in the subject matter. I think “A plain blog” and “Feministing” are worth reading, even if you don’t think you’d agree with what you’d read … I find myself disagreeing with “A plain blog” on a regular basis, but I love reading it just the same. And one more time, I highly recommend “Gunslinger” … they don’t post every day, but every post is a delight, and it’s almost all photos, so you don’t have to worry about reading too much, if that’s your problem.


blogging

I’m listening to an interview with Bill James, conducted by Bill Simmons. James talks quite a bit about his early years, when he self-published his Abstracts for a limited audience (he sold 75 copies of his first book). He describes what he was doing as “blogging” … he didn’t belong to any institutions, so he was free to write about what interested him (in his case, baseball). I’m not sure he knew when he sold those 75 copies that one day he’d be, well, Bill James. But I can remember him saying more than once that he has always assumed if he was interested in something, there were probably other people who were interested in the same thing. They would be, in effect, his audience, even if they didn’t exist yet (well, they existed as humans, but they didn’t yet exist as his audience).

I am not Bill James. I’ve been writing this blog for ten years, and even now, I don’t suppose I have 75 readers … a dozen regulars if I’m being kind to myself. Ten years after Bill James sold 75 copies of his first book, he had been with a major publishing company for most of the 80s, and had established himself as the biggest name in baseball analysis.

But I really connected with his comparison of his early work to blogging. That’s a standard, overused comparison … it seems like everyone from the pre-Internet era is labeled, at some point, a “blogger before there was blogging”. What connected with me, though, is the way he wrote about whatever interested him. I often think of blogging as the ultimate in navel gazing, all of us blathering away as if we were the center of the world. I’ve never had an answer for anyone who asked me why I bother, especially after a decade. I still don’t have an answer, but I have a connection. I don’t blog because I want to become Bill James, but I blog in a way similar to how Bill James wrote (and writes … he still seeks out things that interest him).


music friday

Today is the 10th anniversary of this blog.

This is post #6237. Last I looked, I’d had 6,789 comments. I don’t get as many comments now … people usually comment on Facebook or Google+ when I cross-post.

Usually on these anniversary posts, I link to the very first post:

OK, here goes. Tried installing MovableType yesterday ... I'm not good enough.

My chair has broken rollers. As I type this, the stereo is playing "Prisoner of Love" by Teddy Wilson & His Orchestra featuring Lena Horne. Robin is in the livingroom reading the Sunday paper and steaming to help her sinuses. Jillian's coming over tonight for dinner and DVD.

I never did figure out MovableType, but I did end up on TypePad, which is MovableType for Dummies. The blog started on Blogger, which at the time had not yet been bought by Google.

The chair I am sitting in today does not have broken rollers. On the other hand, the seat is broken, as is the cover for the left armrest.

I didn’t include a video for the Teddy Wilson track … this blog predates YouTube by more than three years. As I type this, I’m listening to “Prisoner of Love”, this time by James Brown. Not on the stereo, though … that’s reserved mostly for TV and movies. I’m listening to a stream from Spotify.

It’s Thursday, not Sunday, so Robin isn’t reading the Sunday paper. We still get that paper … she reads it in the bedroom now. We don’t get the paper any other day of the week, though, at least, not hard copy. I read it online, she read it on her Kindle until a couple of weeks ago when she switched to a Nook. She still steams for her sinuses on occasion, but we sleep every night with a humidifier running, so it’s not as necessary.

Jillian still comes over for dinner. Doug comes, too … this blog started about 4 1/2 months before he asked her out for the first time. We usually eat out, rather than here, although sometimes we get take out. We hardly ever watch DVDs, but we watch Blu-rays and TV shows from the DVR.

Things haven’t changed much over the last ten years. Will I still be blogging on January 6, 2022?

Since it’s Music Friday, here are some YouTube selections. First, Teddy Wilson doing “Prisoner of Love” featuring Lena Horne:

Now, James Brown with his own “Prisoner of Love”:

Since I started this blog, I’ve seen Bruce Springsteen ten times. In the earlier days, Bruce used to say he was a prisoner of rock ‘n’ roll. If you wait 11 or so minutes, you’ll hear him testify to that fact here. Or, if you wonder why old farts like me still speak wistfully of 1978 … when I say I'm always looking for a moment of transcendence at a concert, I mean I'm always looking for Bruce in '78:


uncle miltie’s appendage

Time for another look at the search terms that bring people to this blog. These come from the last month.

Top Five Search Keywords:

  1. grace of my heart
  2. magic trip
  3. curb
  4. marianne faithfull
  5. klee irwin

I know Jeff Pike will be glad to see #1 on that list, since he chose it at #39 on the list of 50 Favorite Films he and I and Phil Dellio are creating over on Facebook.

Klee Irwin deserves special commendation. If I combine all of the times he appears in the keyword list (for instance, “klee irwin scam” is tied for 14th on the list), he ties “grace of my heart” at the top.

Some long-time favorites are here:

  • “adebisi hat” (9 visits in last month), “how does adebisi’s hat stay on” (4 visits), “oz adebisi hat” (3), and, with one visit each, “adebisi hat oz”, “adebisi oz hat”, “adebisi’s hat”, “adebisi’s hat how to”, “buy adebisi hat”, “hat stay on adebisi’s head”, and “how did the hat stay on adebisi’s head”. (There are also searches for “adabisi” and “adibisi”.)
  • “goodbye to love guitar solo” (4), “tony peluso” (4), “tony peluso guitarist” (2), and “tony paluso” (1).
  • “fanta de limon en usa” (4), “fanta lemon” (2), “fanta limon usa” (2), and seven other fanta limon searches that were used only once.

But let’s get to what everyone is apparently looking for: naked celebrities. Once again, I remind you that there are no actual pictures of naked celebrities on this site. That doesn’t stop Google from sending folks my way.

Marianne Faithfull made #4 on this list. I’ll pretend those people were interested in her music. But I also got “marianne faithfull tits”, “marianne faithfull hot”, “marianne faithfull photos”,  and “marianne faithfulls’ jugs”.

Here are some others, including many long-time faves:

“helen mirren tits”, “’60s tits”, “60s helen mirren”, “christina hendricks nude”, “christina hendricks sex”, “dirk kuyt’s curly hair” (OK, that’s not really about a naked celebrity), “eiko matsuda actress sex movie online watch full movie”, “helem mirren tits”, “helen mirren 60s”, “helen mirren body of the year”, “kristin proctor topless wire scene,” “kristin proctor video,” “kristen proctor wire scene”, “silas botwin sex”

I think it’s safe to say that Helen(m) Mirren reigns supreme.

If you’ve read this far, you know how I’ll finish this post. Here are all of the search terms that have led people to my blog looking for information on … well, you know:

“milton berle penis”, “milton berles penis”, “milton berle penis photo”, “milton berle big dick”, “milton berle cock pictures”, “milton berle nude”, “milton berle nude photos”, “milton berle penis images”, “milton berle penis pic”, “milton berle penis pic”, “milton berle penis picture”, “milton berle the legend”, “milton berle’s big cock”, “milton berles dick”, “nude pic milton berle”, “photo of milton berle’s penis”, “pic of milton burl penis,” “picture of milton burrows penis”, “pictures of milton berle’s dick”

Whew. Thanks for visiting!


i am (in)souciant

Some old friends of mine started a new magazine in the last year called Souciant, “a magazine of politics and culture. Or culture and politics. It all depends on your starting point.” With the encouragement of Charlie Bertsch, I have a piece up on the Souciant web site called “Speakers, Cornered” that grew out of something I posted here last week. I think it’s a good piece, and it’s exciting to have it on Souciant, which is worth checking out in any event.

I couldn’t have done it without Charlie, who first got me to write it and then made editorial suggestions that raised it a level or two.

As I told one of my friends at the magazine, a professor once told me I was “insouciant”. Now that is finally true … I am indeed in Souciant.