"Temporality is part of the truth" -- Chuck Klosterman

Friday, March 25, 2011

Meta-blogging with Robin Sparkles and Doctor Who

I've been writing this blog for just over two months and I've been obsessed for at least seven and a half of those eight weeks. However, I start teaching again next Monday and I ought to psych myself up. Plus, I need to read Pride and Prejudice; I can't let my students get ahead of me. Thus, I've decided that I'm going to take the next week or so away from the internetting.

Rico Suave for sci-fi geeks.
A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that instead of imagining songs out of the pithy, clever thoughts she has--like she used to--she now conjures up a FB status update. Similarly, I find myself thinking in terms of blog posts. I'm eating Dots and really love how the gooey, chewy candy feels when it gets stuck in my teeth. Blog post! I just finished watching all the David Tennant  Doctor Who specials and now I wait for the season 5 series to be available for streaming on Netflix. Blog post! Xander was on his tummy during his doctor's visit last week and turned onto his back all by his lonesome. Blog post! And how!

Lately this fixation has triggered insomnia. I can't sleep. In my mind, I'm revising my latest post. Or commenting on non-existent comments. Or formulating a brilliant new epistle to the world. I've known people who obsess over conversations they had. They come home from a party and wonder the rest of the night if they said too much or too little, or looked or did something stupid. The difference (problem) is that with a blog, your conversation never ends. What you said is out in the interweb ether, and anyone at anytime can stumble upon your words and criticize your every thought. If you looked stupid, you will forever look stupid, unless you purposefully set out to rectify it. I'm still coming to grips with that, and it's keeping me up nights.

In an effort to pull myself together, I thought I could use a little introspection. (At this point I should warn you that I get a little long-winded and possibly vain. I won't hold it against you if you forgo reading the rest of this post as long as you check out a back post that you missed. Anyway, stick around, read on, it'll be fun.)

So join me, won't you, on a trip through the mindscape of Building Castles on the Beach:

Tasty inspiration!
First, the title. Not that anyone ever asked, but "building castles on the beach" comes from something Aaron Sorkin said about how writing begins by taking your hands and mounting up sand. I commandeered the image because of the ephemeral nature of writing, especially on the internet. As a blogger, your writing is provisional; you can change your mind, edit anything you've written at any time. As I said above, the conversation never ends. This is why I've permanently attached the Chuck Klosterman quote from Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs to the top of my blog: "Temporality is part of the truth."

Let's talk stats. Just before posting, this is where I stand: In two months, I've written 29 posts, accumulated 1765 pageviews and 160 comments, and 30 people out there have deigned to follow my blog. I honestly don't know how egotistical I might sound. I've read blogs that have 50,000 followers and blogs that have 2. And each of those writers has seemed equally contented with what they were doing. I'm going to content myself by acknowledging that at least a few others have taken pleasure in my writing enough to want to read more.

And so I thank those of you who return, who comment, who maintain the conversation with me. What would happen to my sandcastles in the sand if I didn't have you to hold back the tide?

Pause for a Robin Sparkels interlude:

Blog post roundup: I started this social networking with a critique of  my experience as a Facebook novice. Since then, I've come to terms with the ironic lack of intimacy Facebook produces, but I still don't really care what you ate for breakfast.

My second post was written on a whim after watching the Banksy film Exit Through the Gift Shop. I included a commentary on two other documentaries about what makes art art. I know I was just a beginner, but the art post didn't seem to get much love. Originally, like my first post, it was text only, and at some point, I realized that a discussion of art should include some examples of art. I went back and added pictures and links. Still, not much love. A few weeks into all this, I affixed a "Link Within" gadget to the bottom of each post. As soon as I did that, "Three Art Docs" began rising up the pageview ladder. The only explanation I can fathom: people were curious about the British phone box that was bent in half with a pickaxe stuck in its belly. It is a pretty provocative piece of art, but I tend to doubt anyone actually read my post about it; they probably went in for the pictures and left after a quick browse. Nevertheless, that post has since become the third most popular post on this blog. And it's the only post I wrote that still has zero comments.

This photo alone will attract at least thirteen readers.
Fatherhood: From there, I began to write about my son, Xander, which was to be the main attraction from the get-go. I've since written nine missives about fathering an infant, and I've learned that when I promise photos, more people view the blog. The first writing was called "Fatherhood: A Manifesto" about how more fathers should take time off to parent their newborn child. Sadly, there's no pictures. (I should go back and insert pictures. Let "Link Within" will do its magic.)

Teaching: In the meantime, I had finished the book The Death and Life of the Great American Education System by Diane Ravitch and felt the need to talk about it with someone, meaning everyone. I planned a series of posts dealing with the education issues in America from a teacher's point of view, but I started with why I teach in the first place. Then I saw Diane Ravitch speak in Denver and wrote a post encapsulating what I heard.

Maybe I'm too late to dinner, or maybe I'm just no authority on the subject, but my views on education didn't seem to catch on until I wrote a review of the movie Waiting for "Superman" pointing out how the movie makes teachers out to be lazy, incompetent, greedy suckers who are against real change in education. A few people posted intriguing comments, but the most tantalizing conversation was on Facebook, where a friend of a friend called me a racist and my wife embarked on a three hour jag defending me and my views while I was out of the house. My one response to the Facebook thread was to say simply that I intended provocation but never racism and requested he comment on my blog. Obviously, he has yet to do so. Due to the controversy of this movie, one assumes, within six days this was the most-viewed post at 87 pageviews, edging out the popular "Back is Best" which prominently features Xander's distended belly button. (Update: The button has since reentered his belly as it should.)

Music Mondays. I've written five posts about the music that influences me, timing it for a Monday publication, just for alliterative amusement. The most fun to write was "Auto-tuned" about how I love driving only because you can sing at the top of your lungs and no one cares. I don't know how many people care about the music I care about, but I get some enjoyable comments from readers and it's something that makes me happy so I'm going to keep doing it.

Right now I'm listening to M83, a great French band with long, droning harmonics mixed with pretty, succinct harmonies. It's as if Stereolab and Air had a love child back in the 80's. Listen along and enjoy.

So, I'll return in a week or ten days with parts two and three of "A Star is Born," a description of what it's like to return to work after so long, and an explanation as to why Doctor Who is the greatest hero the world has ever known. As long as I can figure out what to do at school after Spring Break. Also, I would appreciate if all the other bloggers would also refrain from posting anything new on your own blogs so that I won't have to much to catch up on when I reenter the fray. And don't forget to leave a comment.

P.S. Someone found my blog through the search keywords, "Jetsons sex." Awesomesauce.


  1. If you put up baby pictures you get more viewers? That's like putting up pictures of kittens and puppies. People love looking at small living things that are cute.

    Exactly what part of what you said in the Superman thing was racist? I don't recall ever once thinking, "Wow. That sounds racist." Did he specify which part was?

    How much longer does Baby Xander have to wear the oxygen thing?

  2. I also didn't catch a racist drift. I even went back and read the post again. Is the author a minority or something?

    I had a bean burrito for breakfast, by the way.

  3. You had me at Dr. Who...David Tennant is the British love of my life.

    I like it when you include music videos on your posts; I always play one while I read your musings...sets the mood. (You have introduced me to M83 now & I very much am enjoying)

  4. Enjoy your blogging break, and I'm looking forward to part two! Also, "Jetsons sex" trumps anything anyone has ever searched for on my blog. Hands down.

  5. I know exactly what you mean by thoughts taking the form of posts. In the past, my train of thought often took the form of a hypothetical conversation with someone I knew. Not always the same person. It depended on the subject. I thought it was kind of weird, so I never mentioned it to anyone. Now I find this habit occasionally replaced by my thoughts taking the form of blog posts or comments. Frankly, I think we're all a little messed up in the head.

  6. I may have to include "Jetsons sex" in a post in order to steal some of your search results. Recently my thoughts tend to form like yours and Bryan's - as blog posts. Fortunately, most of them don't actually make it to the computer screen.

  7. Two things: I have tons of teaching material on P&P if you're interested - just email me.

    I finally saw Waiting for Superman and I didn't get the same impression that you did. I feel like some of the finer points might have been glossed over, but quite a bit of the blame fell upon unions and crappy school systems - not teachers. It did present some of them to be lazy but that's the truth. Some teachers suck and need to be fired and can't be.

  8. You also had me a Doctor Who... I too am waiting for season 5 to be streaming--While I wait I am in love with Cpt Jack Harkness over at Torchwood... avail on streaming Much like DW but more sex :) And if you thought Rose (Billie Piper) was hot, watch Diary of a call girl...I skipped most your words to tell you this, but I plan to follow. Jetsons sex is the best! And now I must go search for that.

  9. @ Chanel: We go month to month on the oxygen. Our next appointment is in a week. I keep my fingers crossed that we can take off the cannula.

    @ Doug: If you give me a list of everything you ate last week, can I post it on Facebook?

    @ Chanel and Doug: The racist thing I did was to mention the races of the kids who did and didn't win their lotteries. I forgot that in America today, we're colorblind and don't notice those sorts of things any more. Silly me.

    @ Absolutely: What do you think of the newest Doctor. He's kinda weird looking...

    But thanks for giving M83 a try. I've said it before, but it's my goal in life to bring good people to good music.

    @ Nicki: I don't even remember ever mentioning the Jetson's. I need to go back and see if I ever did. But I'm pretty sure I never paired it with "sex." I don't even remember if I ever mentioned sex, either.

    @ Bryan: I used to have conversations with no one as well. The blog has helped me find a non-crazy-talking outlet.

    @ Johnny: I admit to going in to the movie biased. I'd already read all about it. I agree that idiot teachers shouldn't be, but to me the blame rests on the administrators who hire them or don't do the proper evaluations. But still, bad teachers are fired from my school all the time. Just because there's a (complicated) system to follow doesn't mean teachers can't be fired.

    And thanks for the offer on P&P. I'm currently evaluating my resources and perhaps I'll take you up on it. thanks.

    @ xoxoxo: I love Torchwood, too. I watched it on BBC America and they bleeped out all the British swears. But on Netflix, they're all there. You should go back and read the post now. :) Thanks for following. :)