Working Hard for a Vaction

Unhappy VacationWell isn’t this nice! Steve M at No More Mister Nice Blog wrote, Gone for a While. He then proceeded to take the next week off. He had his blogger friends cross post things to his blog so it wasn’t dead for the week. And here I am (it is 14 August as I write this), having spent the last two weeks writing more and more ahead just so that I could keep this blog going. But the big boys, well, they are just “gone for a while.” It must be nice. I wish I had such a cushy unpaid job!

The problem seems to be that I don’t play well with others. I know other bloggers. But I’ve come to the conclusion that if I get too close to them, they will find (Just like my wives!) that they don’t like me that much. I do tend to have a bit on the difficult side. Of course, I think the problem is mutual. Blogging is not something you are good at if you are calm and steady. It selects for the volatile and opinionated. But clearly, other people manage to get along better than I do.

I’m well aware that I can front load articles. Steve M is a news cycle blogger. He stays up to date on what’s going on in a way that is remarkable. It is one of the reasons that I keep him in my RSS feed. Just the same, there is a reason that I am not a news cycle blogger. I’m not that interested. Both No More Mister Nice Blog and P M Carpenter’s Commentary — two blogs that I’ve greatly admired for years — have been so filled with Donald Trump news the last month that it makes me want to scream!

But even for me, writing a week in advance has been hard. Normally, I try to arrange things — slot topical articles in early and move more evergreen articles later. But I haven’t been doing that recently. I think this is the 44th scheduled article. It’s far too complicated right now. I don’t even know what I’ve written at this point. But most of it is pretty general, because I’m not that interested in election news. The truth is that I’m one of those killjoys who likes to remind everyone that the presidential election is all about the economy anyway.

Still, it would be nice to get away from all of this. I’d love to have some blogging chums who would step up and pinch hit for me. Then again, maybe the real reason I don’t do that is because I fear if I stop grinding out content, I will never return to it. I am a man of habits. But I even wonder now, will there be new material up on Sunday?! As it is, I’m so exhausted, I can’t even remember the theme I was going to use for the week’s Morning Music — and I had about ten ideas. God, I need a vacation just from preparing for this vacation! I wish I were Steve M…

14 thoughts on “Working Hard for a Vaction

  1. Feel ya. I used to have things written way more in advance than now.

    I’ve been doing weekly sports history/commentary/profiles for over a year. Trying to fit in whatever liberal messages I can, be it sympathy for the immigrant experience, or why owners are swine, or racial discrimination in America, anything. (Otherwise, what would be the point?) Not hard messages, just sneaking ’em in occasionally, “Trek”-style.

    First for an NBA blog, which didn’t publish about half of what I wrote (too controversial to mention Katrina before the New Orleans game) — then the blog went kaput, which made me think, “well, shoot, it wouldn’t have hurt to publish my edgy stuff.”

    Now for a baseball blog, which is alive and well and hasn’t ever taken down one of my posts (again, they’re very mild.) But nobody read the posts.

    Until they did. FINALLY! I’m starting to get lots of positive responses the last few weeks, and that’s great, that was the point! Problem is, I am sick to death of researching/writing about sports. I think if I keeled over right now and they autopsied my brain, it would reek of jock straps.

    Back in, say, April, I had these things written, links added, sources checked, etc., way in advance. 1000 words a week, not too hard, right? Unless it’s finding 1000 words to say something remotely interesting about sports besides “I like it when guys do nifty athletic things and I like it more when they wear the colored pajamas of my local team.” That starts to be a major drag after a year.

    Posts ready to go on that week’s opposing team went from done a month in advance, to three weeks, to . . . yesterday I finished my edit, wasn’t happy with it, but decided it was safe for public consumption and hit the “Schedule” button, then passed out cold a few hours before gametime. Woke up to the post being up and five or so people saying, “yes, owners are swine, thanks!”

    Warms your heart a little (and my heart is very tiny, like the Grinch’s.) Give me a while to back off, regroup, and I’ll happily do it again. I’m just so sick of writing about sports! Normally I love typing. As you’re aware, I can opine on anything, blissfully unconcerned as to how boring I’m being.

    Sports are boring! Yes, interesting characters, and the same problems with money/prejudice as real life, and wow that was a great catch, but if you read about sports for too long, they are boring.

    Long-winded rant over — I imagine you face something like this writing about politics at 10x my speed. Politics are important, adding a different voice to the national dialogue is essential, the scheduled structure of anniversary/music/political opinion/quotation/freestyle seems to be working great and drawing more intelligent commentary.

    Every fucking day, though? Not complaining about reading it — that’s always a joy — but imagining writing it makes my skull hurt.

    Writing is fun, and a neat challenge, but it’s also exhausting as hell.

        • Oh, Lord, I have typed some dumb shit on this blog. What a wake-up call to read that! (It’s kinda funny, mostly dumb.) So sorry for the tons of crap I’ve left in your backyard. It’s fun to wildly bounce ideas off other people. To do it on somebody’s blog, though, is a little like tracking mud all over their carpet. I apologize.

          Along those lines, here’s my thinking on what Logicked got angry about the other night (I’ll put it here, since I kinda pissed him off when he mostly wanted a conversation with you, and I don’t want to get in the way if he responds to your new post.)

          One: wow, you gotta be careful these days about what you say online! I mean, geez, I thought we were just babbling things we liked/disliked about a performer whose art impressed us, I had no idea he’d see those comments. (Like I enjoyed babbling with Lawrence about “Trek,” not thinking a scriptwriter from the show would show up and respond.)

          Two: using the WTC plane imagery is entirely his choice and his right; they’re his videos. I think it distracts from his message, as I misinterpreted that imagery as being conspiracy-theory-friendly, and I’m probably not the only one. If you want to use that video clip, follow it with Bush telling an interviewer how God commanded him to invade Iraq.

          Three: Nobody’s at their best at 2 AM (unless they work late shifts, as I do, which doesn’t mean I’m good at 2 AM either.) That said, Logicked struck me as really anti-Muslim. Being angry with Islam is fine, I’m sick & tired of the religion’s sexism and I do my best to support my female Muslim coworkers who have sexist husbands. How can I support them? If they need a month off to visit family in Boston and get away from the asshole, I offer to cover shifts and encourage others to cover shifts.

          What I do not, ever, do, is attack their faith, call them stupid for going down to the basement to pray or insist they should help make ham for breakfast. I regard these things as personal idiosyncracies, the same way I have no problem with crawling bugs but shriek in terror from wasps/bees. I expect my co-workers to kill/shoo out bees for me, as I do things to enable their individual weirdness.

          And I make it deadly damn clear that if anyone, ever, gives a Muslim shit for their quirks, we are going to have issues. Fast and hard. I’m generally really easy to push over in a work setting, but this is a serious line I will not stand for people to cross.

          Because how do we help people whom religion has harmed? We do so by helping them, period. If faith-based sexism is hurting a wife and mother, we help the wife/mother, we don’t mock them for their faith (which they’re probably wrestling with, anyway.) Logicked claimed in the thread that religion was something you can just decide to leave, unlike skin color. It’s not that easy, nowhere close.

          This is a tough thing for me, because my mom was a victim of Christian fundamentalism, and funny things like Python, soulful things like Lennon’s anti-religious songs, helped her mentally escape. (The mental escape from a cult is harder than the physical escape. For years after my parents’ divorce, my mom would call late at night and ask “did I do the right thing,” even though it was 100% the right thing for her and 200% for her kids. But it still felt weird to her.)

          So is Logicked right when he calls Islam an evil religion? Yes and no. His funny work, making anti-evolution preachers choke on their own idiocy, is enormously valuable. Anyone wrestling with leaving fundamentalism is going to be hugely encouraged and supported by those videos.

          Yet I feel he falls a little into the Hitchens trap. He dismisses politics as tangential to the main goal, eliminating irrational superstition. It’s an understandable position, especially for someone who’s probably read no end of moronic commentary from people mentally trapped in religion. (I think I’ve made one or two comments directly on his YouTube channel, along the lines of “great job!”)

          Hitchens thought Gulf War II would initiate a free-market revolution that spread throughout the Middle East. He actually called capitalism more revolutionary than Marxism — which it is, but not in the way he thought.

          The war inflamed what was already vast human misery, and human misery gives rise to fundamentalism. Every single fucking time. Not in every person; most of us just try to survive, and some heroes are motivated by hardship to become Harriet Tubman. But when you increase suffering, you feed the beast of fundamentalist madness. You create the conditions which allow a bin Laden or Reagan to wield some degree of evil power, instead of being grumpy accountants or football announcers. (Reagan was a football announcer. Thanks, Rick Perlstein, for being alive!)

          Bottom line: when anyone says people in group “X” are evil, it bothers me, a lot. Logicked appears to think Muslims are evil because they haven’t voluntarily left a religion which has some very awful teachings. It’s just not a helpful message to spread, compared to the really positive video work he’s done.

          • I’m not sure that you are apologizing for. I thought your response to Logicked was quite good. And he totally twisted what you said. I think I commented to that effect. I don’t especially care. But I do think that a lot of atheists give religion far too much power. It really doesn’t mean that much. If it did, Christians would be stoning gay people. They aren’t, because religion doesn’t work that way. Just the same, I think I made it very clear in the original article that I think Logicked is a better than average atheist ranter, but his true gift is for entertainment — where he is brilliant.

            The main thing is that I don’t feel like I have to agree with everyone 100%. And there are a lot of people — atheists and liberals — who can’t seem to brook any disagreements. I’m not saying that’s true of Logicked. But it definitely was true of Infidel753, and as a result of my experience with him, I’ve been more careful. I’m not interested in making enemies with people who I mostly agree with. In the case of Logicked: I totally agree that Islam is a horrible religion. But I think that has very little to do with the causes of terrorism in the Islamic world. And even more, I find the whole discussion boring.

            • Apology was for all the gunk I’ve left all over your site the past few years. I could probably use the search engine to find more of them, read a few, then chop off my fingers in disgust. Sorry.

              As to the religion debate, it is kinda boring — sorry (again) for going on about it. The chat with Logicked left a really nasty taste in my mouth — I root for the guy, I adore his debunking-evolution-debunker videos. It was hard to hear him go “Islam is the greatest threat to society” like someone would do “Communism is the threat” back in the day.

              Soviet communism was an atrocity, and deserved all kinds of criticism. Just like some current brands of Islamic preaching are horrid and deserve criticism. Just like the Catholic church deserves not only criticism, but lawsuits up the wazoo — and mitigated praise for their first non-European pope, who seems to be making things a little better.

              When people attack Islam, it feels to me like they’re attacking Muslims too, and that is unfair. If you’re born into a faith and culture and live in it, that’s not your fault.

              I’ve seen women in shawls finding dark corners of the natural history museum in Copenhagen so they could make out. No joke — one trip, I saw this, and returned to my hosts babbling about how Muslims were all repugnant and didn’t appreciate Danish history and whatever crime could be attributed to them.

              (The Danes I met who were least racist were Jehovah’s Witnesses, and they lived on a friggin’ church compound, and they talked a lot about their fear that religious intolerance would help politicians who want to undermine Danish social programs.)

              I’ll stop. This sort of thing really bugs me. And because I like Logicked’s work a lot, I don’t go on his YouTube site and rip on his Charlie Hebdo commentary (which I thought was terrible.) I’d be surprised if he answers your post.

              • Also, I neglected to applaud how good your “Reflect Not Define” essay was. It’s insanely good. Could use some copy editing, though . . .

                • Thank you. I went through and cleaned it up a big, but didn’t find it any more of a mess than most of my articles. Was there something in particular?

                  • Nope! I just recommended that essay to a few people, so it never hurts to tidy up before company comes. (As if anybody pays attention to what I recommend.)

              • I understood what you were apologizing for. I still don’t get it. It’s perfectly fine to ramble. Your comments usually make at least as much sense as my articles.

                Now let me get this straight: are you saying there were two Muslim women making out in a museum?

                • Yes — presumably quite happy to be in a liberal democracy, and interested in learning more about Danish history (I didn’t ask.)

                  Incidentally I recently read that in Sweden, conversation with strangers is abhorred so much that people will take the stairs if they see someone else is riding an elevator. This is probably a societal problem, but for me, it would be a dream come true! Never again the awful bus question, “so what’s that book about?”

    • I’m glad you are getting some traction. Stay with it. For one thing, there really is a career in sports writing. I’m not so sure with politics, but apparently, there is a career in tech writing (although recently, they are paying me to write about more interesting stuff). If you have an author’s page, send me the link and I’ll put it up on the sidebar under friends. That would be great.

      • Thanks, Mr. Frank! They don’t really have author pages as such, I’ll ask about creating those. Vox Media seems fairly sub-evil as far as these things go, but they’re like anything else, they like free labor, aren’t hugely interested in promoting contributors to help them get paying work. I’m not complaining; if I don’t continue after this season, I still got to read up on Native Americans in baseball, and share that with a few people. (Including, I learned today, a guy in Denmark! Great!)

        I think I’d shoot myself in the head if I wrote about sports for a living. It’s sooooo dull. The only thing interesting is telling stories with a liberal slant, and finding those in sports is a real struggle.

        My point was, Ye Gods, the work you’ve done. It’s unbelievable. You must be some kind of crazy person. The good kind!

        • Thank you. Pretty crazy. But yes, see if you can do that. It is good for their whole site. If people come to read one writer, they usually stay around to read other articles — or at least to see what is on the home page.

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