Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Why not blog?*

You may recall the other day that one of the lucky recipients chosen by me to receive the coveted “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” Award was Greg Ferrara, one of the hardest working men in the blogging business. Seriously—in addition to Cinema Styles, he also maintains two photo blogs—Unexplained Cinema and The Invisible Edge—as well as contributes to the most famous photo blog of them all, If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger…

Let’s take a brief moment to take a breath, and then we’ll move on.

To be completely honest, any individual capable of juggling more than two blogs—I honestly don’t see how they accomplish it. I have enough trouble scrounging up fodder for this one. True, not all of these blogs are updated every day…but that shouldn’t diminish the Herculean effort that goes into their maintenance.

When I gave Greg a heads-up that I was passing him the Sunshine award, he joshingly remarked: “…you even gave it to me twice, if you count me in the "et al" category for If Charlie Parker was a Gunslinger. I can't imagine I bring sunshine to anyone's life online but I thank you kindly sir for the award.” (This is not uncommon, by the way—Vince Keenan has a pair of bookends because I didn’t know Bill Crider had already passed him a Sunshine award as well.) I posted the Sunshine news in the comments section of a post entitled “A Bucket o’Bile.”

“Bile” is a let-it-all-out rant about how often frustrating writing online can be, according to Greg, particularly when it comes to arguments about movies and how little financial rewards result from baring one’s soul and expressing their passion for cinema. It’s a post worth seeking out and giving it the once-over because many of the sentiments expressed by Greg are familiar to me and I’m sure other writers/bloggers as well. Here’s my favorite:

Or how about the old switcheroo game we all play with director's credits. Boy, I love that game! You know, that's the game where someone sagely declares that, "Sure, I appreciate Vertigo and Psycho and Shadow of a Doubt but honestly I think I've come to view Topaz as Hitchcock's best work." Really? Then shut the fuck up and stop writing about movies because you have nothing important to add to the conversation. Or the reverse where someone declares that the director's most highly praised work really isn't that good. I love that game too! Love it!

This sort of hit home for me—not because I think Topaz as Hitchcock’s best film (far, far from it), but because I think the movie is much maligned and doesn’t get any Dangerfield-like respect. A Facebook friend of mine trashed the film in a status update the last time Topaz was on TCM and I wanted so much to comment that, if I had my druthers, I’d prefer watching Topaz to something like The Birds (1963)—which is a brilliant film from a technical point of view…but apart from that is dull as dishwater. (I don’t care about the romance between ‘Tippi’ Hedren and Rod Taylor’s characters…and I’ll bet I’m not the only one.) But I refrained from getting into a pissing contest, and I think in the long run that’s the best course of action to take.

I don’t want to come across as a know-it-all, but my advice to Greg would be “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” (Or as Hitchcock might say: “It’s only a weblog.”) When people ask me why I blog I half-jokingly respond: “It keeps me out of the pool halls.” But in all sincerity, I blog because I get a tremendous kick out of it. Granted, I’m not as serious-minded as many of my colleagues on the Thrilling Days of Yesteryear blogroll—which enables me to adopt a “What, me worry?” attitude regarding movies—but I enjoy every aspect of being a blogger. I love reading other people’s comments, I adore receiving the adulation that comes with getting “awards”—and when someone links to something I scribbled down, I’m just tickled pink.

Elisson, on one of his sojourns to Savannah when I was still living and night auditing there, once observed that he had no pretensions about his blog (Blog d’Elisson) and wasn’t all that interested in becoming someone in the same league as the Big Blog Players. “If somebody remarks favorably on something I wrote,” he explained, “it makes the entire endeavor worthwhile.” To which I can only reply—Amen.

While I’m on the subject of blogs, I do hope that some of you will check out a new OTR blog written by a pal of mine, who stated in the e-mail he sent me that “your OTR blogging did so much to get me into the hobby”. He goes on further to say: “…since you blog Otr so infrequently these days I might be able to take up some slack and maybe do for somebody else what you did for me.” (I plead guilty to the infrequent OTR blogging, by the way.)

In adding this new blog—Paul Murphy’s Electric Chair—to the TDOY blogroll, I ended up eliminating a few blogs not heard from in a year or so. I really don’t like to do things like this—but if there’s an off-chance that the people who have vanished are planning to start up again, just drop me an e-mail and I’ll reinstate your blog tuit suite.

*My Facebook friend Neil Sarver issued a follow-up manifesto at The Bleeding Tree entitled “Why Blog?” (hence the tongue-in-cheek titular response of this post) that echoes some of Greg’s concerns that’s also worth an investment of a few minutes of perusing.

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Stacia said...

Did you notice his first draft of the post was "Under Capricorn" instead of "Topaz"? Then he changed it because he offended someone with the "Under Capricorn" reference. Sigh.

I was going to respond to Greg -- I actually spent some significant time composing a response -- but ultimately realized that he may THINK he's talking about all film bloggers, but he's only talking about his little clique. It's pretty obvious someone like me wasn't the intended audience at all, although it's very possible blogs like mine are the ones upsetting Greg so much. Kind of off putting, that.

Vince said...

You come across as plenty serious-minded to this observer - who else gives me the highlights of TCM's schedule months in advance? - but somehow you make it look like you don't. That's why I keep coming back.