Monday, February 28, 2005

Blogs I hate

Well, hate is a strong word. Perhaps I should say blogs I think suck. Or blogs that make me long for a root canal. Bottomline is that I have no patience for reading some blog genres.

Blog Explosion makes you read blogs as part of a blog traffic scheme to make other Blog Explosion members read your blog. Blog Explosion gives you the option of blocking some types of blogs, but I can't seem to figure out how to block more than one category. Because I would really love to block all political blogs, blogs that quote the bible, blogs about families and children, blogs selling things and nine out of ten personal diary blogs that don't capitalize any words.

What does that leave? Not much. Oh, I like quirky blogs and well-written blogs and some artist's blogs. I'm not much on amateur poetry. But I'm not much on professional poetry, either.

I don't see the point of political blogs. They are either far left or far right. They rehash crap from far left and far right journals and other reliable sources (like Cosmo). The far-left bloggers appeal to far-left readers and the far-right bloggers appeal to far-right bloggers. The far left is convinced that they are right (ironic isn't it). And the far right is convinced that they are right (even more ironic). It's ludicrous. I even saw a blog that claimed to be a far right gay gun owner from Texas.

The religious blogs aren't much better. Don't get me wrong, I think everyone has a right to their own spiritual belief system. Just keep it to yourself. And I don't think god or Jesus need a bloggers help to explain things. Heck, I don't think god even has an e-mail address or a domain name. Whoops...I take that back. I typed in and found god does have a Web site. There is a "contact" link there, too. So I stand corrected.

I'm sure the family and children bloggers serve a purpose if you have kids. I don't. So reading how cute or evil your two-year old doesn't entertain me anymore than I'm entertained when you let your little yard apes run wild at restaurants or the grocery store.

A blog selling things isn't a blog. You deserve to be at the same level of hell as the telemarketers that call my house despite the no call list and the people who developed pop-ups. And there is a as well. It's an odd page that flashes some red symbol over and over and shows a latitude and longitude (presumably of hell).

Finally, I should elaborate on my disgust for personal diary blogs, especially ones written in that nasty chat room shorthand. I've said it before and I'll say it again, it isn't a personal diary if you have it plastered up there like a billboard on the information highway. Unless your life is fascinating on a day to day basis (and mine definitely isn't) don't write about it. Okay, you can tell me some of the interesting ups and downs, but do it in an entertaining manner. I don't care if Jimmy almost held your hand last night at the dance. I don't want to see the entire transcription of last night's instant messaging session and I really don't want to read a log of your bathroom habits.

Perhaps I'm just not cut out for Blog Explosion. I'm really not looking for reviews, comments or affirmation.

I just want people to like me.

Or not.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Remember when they were called, "Web pages?"

I'm not usually what Tess calls, "A slow processor." But it just dawned on me that what people are referring to ad nauseam as "Blogs" are simply what we used to call personal Web pages. I had this epiphany while I was waiting for the the timer to expire on some blog I was looking at that had at least a dozen shots of her opening gifts at a wedding shower (yes, I'm ashamed to admit I have been sucked into Blog Explosion's little "you surf mine, I'll surf yours" pyramid scheme to make us all read each other's blogs).

The difference between when the first Web page stepped out of the primordial ooze of the early Internet and what has happened with the current "Blog Explosion" is that you basically had to know HTML to create a Web page back then. Now everyone (including moi) uses cute little templates. At least having to know HTML weeded out many of the technically challenged who have now wandered onto and into the blog scene. What baffles me is that, even with a foolproof template, some people out there are managing to create blogs that have all the design esthetics of a ransom note. Just a little hint if you are launching a Web page or "blog." Less is more. Leave lots of white space, and lose the endless series of buttons and banners. Hell some of your blogs make me feel like I've wandered into a virtual Pachinko Parlor.

I suppose the explosion of blogs or personal web pages is inevitable. When they first invented desktop publishing, everyone had a newsletter.

But there will remain a few unfailing truths when it comes to creating a newsletter, a Blog or even an e-mail. You still have to be able to write a complete sentence before it's worth the electronic impulse it's written on. And even if you are the greatest writer since Tom Robbins, it will all be for naught if you bury your words in a choppy sea of crappy graphics slapped on the screen like an Alaskan dispatching a baby seal. Finally,even if you write well and have some design sense, it still has to be interesting. Generally what you had to eat today is not.

That being said, I had this killer smothered burrito for lunch. But I am feeling a bit gassy now.

Get my point?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

I'm tired of the Monkey Playing Cymbals

The monkey is out of here. I got tired of him gaping at me like an idiot while I'm trying to write. He calls himself a muse. Ha! He's not even amusing. And do you know what else? He said he's starting his own blog. He's nothing without me. He doesn't even have batteries. I made him what he is today. I'm the reason people search for him on the Web. I made the monkey and I can break the little upstart. You hear me monkey? Go ahead and blog. We'll see who gets the most traffic. I'll even give you your first link: Muses of a Monkey Playing Cymbals. We'll see who the monkey is now.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Kicking out the jams

Blogging is all about traffic. Want to increase it? Paul O'Flaherty's blog's got a few hints about increasing your blog traffic through stroking. I'm sure that title generates a few Google hits from non-bloggers looking for a different kind of content.

I admit that Paul's comments about stat addiction did strike a chord with me. I mean, what author really doesn't want to be read? So, I did a Google search and found Paul's blog about increasing traffice through stroking and links to a few sites that allow you to list your blog for free in directories of other blogs. The theory is that, you read my blog, I'll read yours. So I nibbled on the bait and have listed my blog in LS Blogs, and BlogExplosion. And so far a trickle of new people have been dropping by, particularily from LS Blogs.

But as I think about it, getting on a directory of blogs to get traffic seems akin to joining a creative writing class to get people to read your short stories.

Still, I'm hopeful. In the meantime I've read some pretty bad blogs and some that are actually entertaining. So far, I like the blog, "Things I hate about my Flatmate." It contains a daily rant about someone's roommate. It has done so well, that at one point, someone actually copied it verbatim and was running it as their own blog. That is about as pitiful as you can get. Was his own life so useless that he actually had to steal this young woman's blog and pretend he was writing it?

Oh well, enough stroking for now. I'm exhausted.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Fear and loathing no more....

Hunter S. Thompson

"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me."
When I was a young Journalism major at Seattle University, I idolized Hunter S. Thompson. It wasn't that I ever read much of his work. But the concept of "Gonzo Journalism" truly seemed to have been invented for me. I hated the strict journalist principles that required you to be objective and distant from your stories. Hunter broke that rule big time and freed many of us from that blazingly boring way of writing.

And now he has gone and truly become not part of the story, but the story. Hunter S. Thompson is dead. He shot himself in the style of another much touted writer of our time -- Ernest Hemingway. Perhaps the message here is that, in the end, drugs, alcohol, violence and insanity didn't really work for Hunter or Hemingway.

I really can't tell you much about Hunter S. Thompson. There are fan sites out there if you want to know more about the minutiae of his life. Check out I do know that he brought a much needed sense of absurdity into world. I do know that the movie fashioned after his book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is one of my favorites. Talk about absurdity. I will always appreciate that great scene where Johnny Depp (playing Hunter S. Thompson) wakes up in a flooded hotel room, a tape recorder strapped to his chest and giant lizard tail strapped to his rear. That's a classic.

My images of Hunter S. Thompson are just the bits and pieces that have cropped up in the press over the years...images of an unintelligible man standing outside his home in Colorado randomingly popping off rounds from what I believe was a .44 Magnum. I've seen the photos of him shooting a typewriter with a shotgun and read of his fondness for shooting random objects with his gun collection (I used to share this particular obsession years ago on trips into the desert outside Reno with my old friend Michael J, but that is another blog).

I don't know why Hunter killed himself. I've read the many dissections of life and death crafted by not-so-Gonzo journalists. There is much talk about him peaking creatively in the 70s and producing very little since. There is also much talk about him no being able to deal with becoming a living "cartoon" character, having served as the inspiration for a Doonsebury character.

I don't even image that if I knew Hunter, I'd have been able to tell you why he killed himself. But I suppose if you have enough unexorcised demons fired up with mind altering substances and surrounded by a ready supply of guns, you will eventually use a bullet to rid yourself of them.

I do know that it saddens me that Hunter is dead. And I truly hope that he somehow finds peace.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Think before you blog

Okay, Blogger has this "Next Blog" function where you can randomly jump from Blog to Blog. So, every now and then I go out there looking at what other people are blogging about and my god is it pathetic.

First, Blogger needs to somehow screen out the spam blogs that are just links to scam sites selling crap. Second, I'm really getting sick of people obsessively rehashing the political scene, the war and we are being lied to by the government, the press, the church and our mother's. We already know that. Stop linking to the latest shocking news headlines about how so and so rigged the election. Again, we already know that. We can't do anything about it. He's in the White House for another four years.

Finally, my pet peeve are teenager's blogs. It depresses me no end that they are destroying the language with cyberspeak jargon and shortcuts for typing out a complete word. The beauty of a Blog is being able to enjoy writing and communicating. Don't post a log of your MSN messaging session with a group of other mindless pimple heads including your ex-boyfriend who you've discovered you aren't really over. Once again I plead for you to confine that mindless drivel to your diaries or limit access to your circle of friends who actually care. It shouldn't be out there choking up bandwith for the whole world to marvel at.

And you pub hopping bloggers documenting your binges aren't impressing us with how cool you are, either.

I mean, what is the point? It is one thing to look for a creative outlet to express yourself, but it is another simply spew endless nothing. Bad poetry is one thing, but if you just want to rant about arguements with your mother, don't put it on the Web. The few gems of interesting material out there are buried in the endless muck the rest of you are just chucking out there randomly.

And teachers, stop making assignments that include creating blogs on Blogger. I don't care what happened in Humanities 101. No one else does either, including the kids you are trying to teach.

The Internet could have created a whole new era of global communication and you are all tossing litter on the information highway.

Don't point a finger at me, either. My blogs may seem random and without a purpose, but they are all part of my grand plan.

Trust me. I work for a government agency.

I am deeply disappointed

So far I have not gotten a single offer on the Gold Lame' Skull. In fact, I do not think a single person has actually even looked at the skull for sale page.

I mean, it's really not fair, you know. Thousands of people will bid on some guy's ex-wife's wedding dress on eBay because he poses for a photo wearing it. Another guy sells advertising space on his forehead. And no one even looks at the Gold Lame' Skull.

This is real art, my friends. It's not some cheap plastic reproduction you pick up in Wal Mart. What else can I do with it? Goodwill sure as hell won't pick it up as a donation and it's not right to just dump it in the trash.

There has got to be some pimply-faced Napoleon dynamite-type teenager out there who wants to impress his friends and spiff up his room. Come on, spread the word. The skull has got to go.

But this doesn't mean I'm going to just give it away. This is still a primo piece of art.

I suppose it is my own fault for trying to capitalize on Elvis' name to get traffic on my Web site in the first place. How can you be discovered if the only reason people come to your site is to look for information about the King. But give me a break. How much more information do you really need about Elvis. I must have 40 or 50 books dissecting the minutiae of the man's life and trust me it wasn't really pretty.

So get over Elvis and start digging the absurdity of what I'm trying to sell you here. We are riding a wave of 50s-like conservatism in 2005 with good ol' George W at the helm. I'm offering you a iconic conversation piece that allows you to stop being a sheep and show your individualism.

Look what it did for me.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Invisible man

One of the phenomenon of aging I've noticed is that you become invisible. When you are young, you walk down the street and people seem to always be aware of you. They smile and nod and say hello. But after 40, you begin to fade into the background. And each year, you seem to fade further and further into the background.

I suppose it is Karma. When I was in my 20s and early 30s, I looked at people in there 40s as shadows too far down the life path to note.

The sad thing about aging, too is that you don't feel older inside. Oh, you feel differences, but you still feel like that thin, young man inside until you look into a mirror and see this parody of your young self staring back. The real shock is to run across old photos or even worse, videos of how you looked ten or so years ago.

And this is how I feel as a middle-aged man. What can I expect when I'm elderly? What is a step beyond invisible?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Own the Gold Lame' Skull

You've seen it in Dizgraceland's Strange, Yet True Room. I've seen it hanging on the wall in my family room for much too long. It's starting to get to me. But my indifference to it as a lasting piece of art is your opportunity to own this magnificent, one-of-a-kind treasure that is so unique, I can safely say you'll never find another one.

It is a genuine steer skull straight out of the West (well, Western Washington). It has been spray painted with a high quality black paint. Genuine gold leaf has been painstakingly applied to the skull. It is truly a marvel to behold. The photo doesn't do it justice.

How much do I want for this miracle of folk art that has been featured on Dizgraceland since 1996 and viewed by literally thousands upon thousands of loyal Tim-Elvis fans? How much do I want for a work of art that I created with my very own hands? How much do I want for a piece of my soul that has hund on my wall above my 32-inch television for almost a decade?

Well, you tell me. Make me a reasonable offer and agree to pay a modest shipping handling charge and perhaps you can be the sole possessor of this magical piece of work.

A few disclaimers:

  • The skull is in pretty good condition for a skull, but it is sold as is.
  • I will only ship it to someone in the United States (I don't think there is anything illegal about shipping it out of the country, but I'm not filling out any custom's form that says "dead animal head" on it).
  • This is a full sized steer skull. I'd estimate it is about two-and-a-half feet long with a horn span of about two or two-and-a-half feet. There is no lower jawbone (that's just the way skulls come, the jaws aren't attached and get misplaced). It will cost a bit to pack and ship the skull. I'll let you know actual shipping charges before you commit to buying it.
  • The Native American choker shown in the photo on the steer's forehead is not included (unless you want to buy it too for an additional fee...I made it, too).
  • Serious inquiries only.
  • I prefer PayPal payments, but I'll be willing to accept money orders or cashier's checks. I do not accept cash (well, I will, but not for the skull), beads, trinkets, marbles or I.O.U.'s.
  • Yes, this for real.

So what are you waiting for? E-mail me with an offer to BUY THE GOLD LAME' SKULL!

P.S. If Sally Struthers was here, she say, "Please, please help Tim-Elvis by buying the Gold Lame' Skull, enriching your life and helping him avoid listing it on eBay where they'll eat up any of his profits with listing fees, photo fees, selling fees and generic fees they can charge just because they are eBay. You'll sleep better at night."

Dunce in a lifetime

Confederacy of the Dunces, the Pulizer-winning novel by John Kennedy Toole appeals to me, not because it is a great novel, but because he won the Pulizer Prize for it post-humously after committing suicide, supposedly because no one would publish it. His mother badgered a publisher into publishing it after he died. The rest is history.

Isn't that ironic Alanis?

Here's a great article I found about John Kennedy Toole that is actually funnier than the book:

John Kennedy Toole - Interesting Motherfuckers - Acid Logic ezine

Anyway, I'm going to be in New Orleans in early March for a conference. I'm actually going to be staying at a hotel that was once the department store that Ignatius stands in front of during the opening scene of the book. There is apparently a statue in front of the building honoring him. Isn't that interesting?

But back to my fascination with the book. Anyone who has ever aspired to be a writer has received a rejection slip. Even I, believe it or not, have received rejection slips early in my career. Actually, that's not completely true. The first short story I ever submitted was accepted by a small science fiction magazine -- Eldritch Tales. It was a magazine I found listed in one of those Writer's Guide books that gave addresses of hundreds of obscure places to publish your works. I submitted a short story called, "The Hearse." They bought the rights to publish it for two years, I believe. They were going to pay me four cents a word. I signed the contract, sent it back and rested on my laurels for months waiting for it to be published. The magazine went out of business before it was.

From then on it was enough rejection slips to paper my bathroom. But I didn't hold on to them like some masochistic writers. I tossed them and kept at it. And today, I have this blog! So screw the publishing industry.

Good thing I have another job, though.

But, the point is, here is a genius of a writer that gets rejected after his first real novel is published (he wrote another one at age 16 that has since been published, but that is because the publishers knew they could cash in on his celebrity). And the weiner dog kills himself. Is that pitiful or what? So to mess with him, fate gets his book published after he offs himself and then really tweaks him by giving the book a Pulizer. If we could contact him through a seance, I bet the Ouija Board would spell out, "Oh, Shit..."

The moral of this story is that regardless of how many times you try and fail, you should keep trying. You'll likely continue to fail, but at least you'll be alive to catch the next episode of Dog, the Bounty Hunter.

That said, I'm going to scrounge up that short story and submit it one more time.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Leave the monkey out of this...

Okay, stop doing searches for "mechanical-monkey-playing-cymbals." The monkey is tired of being dragged into your mindless exercises that involve killing time surfing the Web rather than working or doing school work or whatever else you should be doing. Enough of your monkey business. Ha Ha...I crack me up. 

 "Hey, hey he's a monkey. And people say he's monkeying around. But he's too busy singing. To put anybody down." "Ain't nobody got nuthin to hide 'cept for me and my monkey." They don't write lyrics like that anymore. 

 The monkey has been a bit depressed these days. He just sits there wearing a wig fashioned out of a green pom-pom he picked up at one of the last Seahawks games before they fizzled out shy of yet another Superbowl. The monkey is a real Hawks fan. He still has that grimace on his face that he had when Hasselbeck chucked the ball into the end zone in the final seconds of the first Wild Card playoff game and watched it bounce out of the receiver's hands and onto the fake turf. The monkey hasn't been the same since. Maybe he'll cheer up when the Mariners start playing again. Well, if they win, maybe. 

The monkey is a fair weather fan. He's a bit worried about Social Security, too. And no, the monkey isn't my alter ego. I've got Elvis for that.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Postcards from the edge

Stay out of my blog

Just using a little reverse psychology there. Of course you can look at my blog. It is, after all, dangling out there for the world to see and marvel at. I know, I actually just dropped in to find Elvis or the mechanical monkey. Look around, they are both here somewhere. 

 I still marvel that Google can weave its way through the Web world and pick out key words in the millions of Web pages and lead people down endless deadends in the search for truth. That is the most likely way you ended up in Dizgraceland. Because who, after all, actually would seek out a place called Dizgraceland

 I apologize to my non-English speaking friends who wander in here. All of this must seem quite confusing. 

 Me disculpo a mis amigos de discurso no-Ingleses que vaguen adentro aquí. Todo el esto debe parecerse absolutamente confuso. Ich entschuldige mich bei meinen nicht-Englischen sprechenden Freunden, die innen hier wander. Die ganze dieses muß ziemlich verwirrend scheinen. Chiedo scusa ai miei amici parlanti non-Inglesi che vagano dentro qui. Tutto il questo deve sembrare abbastanza confusionario. Je fais des excuses à mes amis parlants non-Anglais qui errent dedans ici. Toute la ceci doit sembler tout à fait embrouillante. Я apologize к моим нон-Angli1skim говоря друзьям бродяжничают внутри здесь. Все из этого должны показаться довольно confusing. 私はここにさまよう私の非英国の話す友人に謝る。これのすべてはかなり複雑なようでなければならない。 Ζητώ συγγνώμη στους μη-αγγλικούς μιλώντας φίλους μου που περιπλανιούνται εδώ. Όλο αυτό πρέπει να φανεί αρκετά συγχέοντας. 

 There, I feel better now.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Raising the bar...

I have to tell someone about this. Last night I had a life changing experience. I achieved a new high score on Brickbreaker for my Blackberry! For months I've dreamed of actually reaching 7,000, but I couldn't quite get past 6700. I mean, I've made it through all of the levels many times. I've caught as many of the objects as possible for extra points and used the gun stategically, but I couldn't break that ceiling of 7,000. Then last night on the bus ride home, I was in the zone, baby! My new high score is ...get this...7,050!

For me, this is Olympic gold. I am a champion....a hall of famer! I mean, this is eye, hand coordination at its finest. And I achieved it while riding a bus! I have approached godlike status within the Brickbreaker world.

Downside is that this leaves very little in life for me to aspire to. Though I am told that there is an upgrade to the Blackberry software that includes a new version of Brickbreaker with 34 levels.

Bring it on, baby...