Tuesday, May 6, 2008

VIDEO WATCHBLOG IS WRONG! Plus, Tim Lucas' secret "acquaintance" unmasked!

(Alright, I admit it up front: the subject line above is an overstated "grabber" to get you to keep reading. But you are, aren't you? Keep going!)

In an entry at VIDEO WATCHBLOG last Thursday titled "The End of Blogging Days - A Rumination,"* the award-winning, well-respected writer Tim Lucas, publisher of the magazine VIDEO WATCHDOG and the author of MARIO BAVA: ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK, wrote about his mixed feelings regarding blogging as a worthwhile activity. The post had been prompted by his being invited by an unnamed party into a horror blog "guild." Lucas had politely declined to join on the basis of time constraints and his qualms about blogging. The inviter, whom he had called "an acquaintance", told him he'd experienced similar mixed feelings.

I can verify the truth of this, because I was the secret "acquaintance" and the "guild" is The League of Tana Tea Drinkers. (The use of the term "guild" is Mr. Lucas', and a better one than those of us in LOTT-D have come up to describe the group. Thanks, TL!)

Tim Lucas didn't actually name me or link to this blog (he referred to me only as an acquaintance, which is accurate), and I didn't expect him to. All the same-- oh, the woe! The crushing shame of having my identity hidden kept me contemplating dark thoughts; why I even considered rolling myself into the paper shredder to end it all! Severed heads with drinking problems have notoriously delicate egos! But now, at last, you know the secret identity of Mr. Lucas' acquaintance.

(Above photo, left to right: Tim Lucas, an acquaintance of TL, and author David J. Schow. Below: Schow, Donna Lucas, and Tim Lucas, three people who are incredibly charming and engaging from the first time you meet them.)

And I do have mixed feelings about blogging. As with Lucas, I do sometimes feel "a burden of guilt" when I go several days without posting. (And who needs that?) And, like him, I find blogging an "unremunerative drain on my time and energies"-- I don't get paid to do it, and the time I spend on my blog could be spent doing something that might make me some money. Perhaps I may sometime have to face leaving off blogging for other pursuits. If so, then Lucas' statement "it becomes the secret wish of all bloggers to stop blogging" will seem amazingly prescient. But don't many interests eventually pall or become impractical to continue? Everything passes under the soil of accumulated time. "All is vanity...there is no remembrance of former things."

Lucas says that "blogs do indeed form communities of the heart", but feels they are "a gratifying pantomime of achievement rather than achievement itself." The gratification is "nice...but lasts only for an instant." And when a blogger and his/her blog are gone, they are quickly forgotten: "the nature of cyberspace that allows such disappearances to heal over quickly."

Au contraire, mon frere. One of the first bloggers I ever read, James Lileks of The Bleat (part of his multi-layered, fun website Lileks. com), came to seem like a friend. His writing is personal, and I came to appreciate his sense of humor, his bemused love for his family, and his biting sense of humor. That is, until he became more political (he's very conservative) and his biting sense of humor gave way to negative ranting; I stopped checking in years ago. But to this day I wonder how he is, and some of his memorable posts I still recall. The same is true of Kirk Demarais' Secret Fun Blog (of the larger Secret Fun Spot site)-- some his posts have long stayed with me because of their combination of knowledge about a particular subject and a passion for same, with personal details thrown into the mix. The list of names of memorable posts by interesting bloggers goes on and on, at least for me.

Of course, we come from different perspectives. I'm married to a woman I first met and got to know via the internet, and our marriage was celebrated online by our friends, so I am disposed to think well of online activities ; Tim Lucas, as a writer, has to support himself by writing articles, novels, and screenplays, and blogging doesn't pay the bills; naturally he would have to conclude that very much time online could be harmful to his own best interests.

Lucas and I have in common the fact that we both have made and strengthened many valuable friendships over the 'net, and I have to admit that I've made mistakes in gauging the proper balance of life in the virtual world and life in the real world. Last October, when I accepted the 'post-a-day' challenge for Halloween season, I put a temporary strain on my marriage that I regret. A few other times I've skirted close to it but didn't; and sometimes I've wondered if the time I've spent blogging might be better spent trying to engage friends socially. But time in the virtual world is attractive to my friends too; it seems harder to maintain regular socializing in the real world than it used to.

I wonder how the balancing act blogging requires has affected other, non-professional areas of Tim Lucas' life; I know he feels the desire to blog fairly keenly, as he stated "...if it was financially feasible, I would probably stop VIDEO WATCHDOG tomorrow and write this blog full time... blogging typically invigorates a writer's productivity."

Tim Lucas rightly identifies the regrettable trend of the virtual world to supplant areas of the real world: "All around us, our growing indifference to the world outside our computer screens is causing newspapers with over a century of experience and tradition to topple, venerable bookstores to close, magazines to fold, literature to die." But it now seems as fruitless to curse this trend, however lamentable, as it is to decry the replacement of small businesses with Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, and megachains of all kinds, or to rail against urbanization for the isolating anonymity it can bring to people who live near each other. It is harder to buy locally, to know one's neighbors, and to socialize in the real world, but it can be done.

Blogging isn't solely a part of the problem in the latter area. Though it typically does not initiate or strengthen friendships, it does sometimes; I've met a couple people through my blog that I'm glad I've gotten to know. If blogging "doesn't help you to make the hand-to-hand, face-to-face connections that are necessary to anyone's professional advancement" (are there no exceptions to this?), then it has brought me, at least, some, and provided something to discuss with established friends.

The same is true for message boards for areas of common interest have brought me many real and lasting friendships, although it has brought me far more friendly acquaintanceships, such as I have with Tim Lucas. Still, a friend, however found, is an invaluable personal asset. The virtual world, if negotiated wisely, can bring much that is good to one's life.

I'm grateful to Tim Lucas for posting two thought-provoking entries at his blog (the first was Followed up by a clarification of his feelings in a second post titled '690'), but he's good at that. (I'm also grateful to have a natural opportunity to mention him and VIDEO WATCHBLOG; that will surely drive up this blog's hits! Ha ha ha!)

I look forward to reading more by Tim, both in virtual print and real, and to seeing him in real life again, as I did at Wonderfest last year. Listening and talking to him (and David Schow, and many others) was a rewarding, fun and warm experience. See ya 'round, Tim!

* Does this make Tim Lucas a ruminant? (I kid, I kid!)


GFS3 said...

There's no doubt that blogging can feel like a chore -- especially when you enter a content valley or a time crunch because of "real" work or family commitments.

I actually abandoned my blog last year -- but came back after a month (pretending it never happened -- and much to my distress my readership increased while I was gone).

It's crucial to keep blogging in perspective. My audience remains small -- my influence (if it can even be called that) minimal. Blogging and online communities in general can often give one an inflated sense of importance. So I keep telling myself I blog for fun -- and try to always remember that.

I used to be a journalist -- so I'm used to writing often and with deadlines -- and that helps me. But I can see how that type of pressure can really weigh on new bloggers.

Just remember -- if you're stressing out -- take a few days off. It won't kill anyone -- and you'll save yourself.

Good post, for a severed head.

Max the drunken severed head said...

Thanks! And a million units of gratitude to ya for a thoughtful comment on the post! 'Tis appreciated.

Unknown said...

This was a great and thoughtful post.

I often wonder myself what will happen next year, when my girlfriend comes to my college and it will be even harder for me to watch a movie a night.

It seems like I'll have a million things on my plate to juggle, and blogging will be a hard one to keep with.

Tim Mayer said...


Anonymous said...

I disagree with the notion that newspapers, bookstores, and literature in general are dying. Actually, they're morphing onto the web, and into new lines of distribution and access. Blogging is one facet of this revolution. As newspapers become digital, books move into easy downloads and print on demand capabilities, and literature becomes the province of the common man as well as the savvy writer who's digitized his work, we move from old-fashioned to newfangled. Sure, there are growing pains, but it's the birth of a new generation of readers who want it on the 'net, not on paper. It's empowering, not disabling.

GFS3 said...

Hey, I even threw your post up on Digg.com. It was a good read.

Gary D Macabre said...

Since taking up the blog with Blogue Macabre I have to admit that I have spent less time on further developing TheFrankensteinMonster.com (shameless plugs) which is my opus (although both get a pretty small audience). But the only negative that I see or have heard is the pressures of time. The fact I am replying to this blog and have read the post is proof that I do have some spare time which I could be utilizing reading a book or taking up Jogging or countless other activities.

I contest that blogging can not put additional demands on ones time, rather it is simply a matter of how one chooses to utilize the free time they do have.

Max the drunken severed head said...

Ryne, Tim, Iloz and Gary -- thanks for the comments.

Iloz: Some interesting points! But from my vantage point, literature isn't becoming the "province of the common man" because of the 'net, it's just being as ignored as before in a new medium!

gfs3: Thanks for DIGGing me!

Gary, I was a bit confused by your last sentence; I think possibly you mean you 'contend' rather than "contest"? (But if you mean blogging is a choice among many, not a real obligation, then I concur!)

Pierre Fournier said...

Max, that was a very unusual post for you. It actually made sense! I can understand Tim referring to you vaguely as “an acquaintance”. I wouldn’t admit knowing you either, at least not in print.

I’m with iloz zoc. The internet is another form of communication, it changed the landscape and the way people interact with each other, just like cell phones are changing everything now right in front of our eyes. The internet has gone through incredible changes in its first decade, and we are still in the jurassic era of the internet. Blogging is a transient form bound to evolve somehow or fall into disuse. Perhaps blogging will be quickly forgotten as a medium, as short-lived and archaic as the concept of faxed newsletters is today.

All I know is that I am here, now, and I’m blogging, and I still enjoy it very much. I already miss Matt Zoller Seitz and Ray Young, and I’m very sorry Tim Lucas won’t be as active as he was, I’ve gotten so much reading enjoyment and I have learned a lot from them. But I understand their decisions to slow down or step back or try something else, and I know it’ll happen to me, too, at some point. Things change. Hey, I remember when the movies were all double-bills and twice as many came out in a week as do in a month these days. I liked that, I miss it, but it’s over. Things change.

I welcome change. It’s the only thing we can count on for sure.

Gary D Macabre said...

Yes thank you Max "Contend" was what indeed I meant to say. The demon of auto correct warped my initial typo.

Max the drunken severed head said...

Iloz, I want to add that I suspect that screens with text on them just don't often invite people to do deep reading. I think most of us more often surf the net, like we surf tv channels, than we go to the web to do specific, fully engaged reading. The act of getting a book or periodical, holding it and turning its pages, is a less passive act than reading on a screen. Perhaps that in itself helps us to focus more deeply on what we read when we read actual books; it certainly is a more formal, "hands on" (ha ha) experience than the easy experience of reading the million choices of casually written text that the web offers.

Of course, great writing of all kinds is on the web; I think it just may be more demanding to read it online than we often want to deal with.

toyranch said...

I don't read many blog posts, and only a couple with any semblance of regularity (this being one). This one I read because I consider you a friend Max, and I'm interested in the thoughts and experiences you care to share. I don't blog. Never really tried it. I post on message forums because I prefer the community aspect of them, and the fact that there are no feelings of guilt or resonsibility involved with doing it on a schedule. If you want to keep your blog active and have people coming back, you have to update it with new posts regularly. Doing the same thing on a message forum, you can come and go at will as many are contributing, and it's easier on my time as I can read the thoughts and experiences of many people who share similar interests and/or are friends in one place.

Famous Monster of Mpls said...

Hell, I can't even find enough free time to comment on a blog much less post on one daily! LOL! Blogging is yet another demand on one's time and energies. And I've already spent too much time in just posting this comment! Gotta run! Great post BTW!

Anonymous said...

I know I'm way late to this post, but I just want to say that thanks to the pictures in your post, I have now confirmed that the woman in the horror aisle at Best Buy in Eastgate, who seemed perfectly sweet and understanding when I started talking to myself because they had the complete box set of Za Ginnipiggu sitting right there on the shelf, was in fact Donna Lucas.


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