Traversing the blogosphere as a writer is about the most exciting thing, creatively, that I’ve done in a long while, and one of the most satisfying. I’ve been able to write what I want, for as long as I want, with only my own editorial instincts to tell me when to rein it in or cut for length (a bad thing as well as a good thing). And even sticking to my stated themes (movies, baseball) is a flexible and negotiable restriction, though I have, with only a couple of exceptions so far, not challenged it too severely as yet. Learning to write on this platform has been, as a friend of mine so keenly referred to it when I first started, an exercise in confronting the terror of writing, of putting your work out there with no barriers between it and its intended audience, as well as the discipline to keep it up, even when there are no “deadlines” screaming and blaring at you. Another part of the excitement is discovering new sites where other people are doing the same thing. I’ve been able to communicate with a lot of people regarding their blogs, blogs that have inspired me to step out on my own, and I’ve seen some friends enter the fray recently and use the format in some interesting and exciting ways. Basically, I just wanted to take up a little bit of my own space to recommend some places to go when you’ve stopped by my SLIFR site, gotten bored and are looking for another place toward which to drift. Once I get a little more HTML-friendly (shouldn’t be too long now) I’ll have a sidebar up and running that will allow you to click on these sites and run. But for now, here are some suggestions that will just have to do:
The first blog I read with any regularity was Jon Weisman’s “Dodger Thoughts.” Jon calls it his “outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers and baseball,” and given the Dodgers’ history over the last couple of decades, that’s a mighty tall order for a blog to fill. But Jon has developed a real following for what I’ve come to think of as well-considered, intelligent optimism toward the condition of being a Dodger fan, and his regular readership, and more to the point those who regularly post comments on his articles, form the most intelligent, non-flame-throwing forum for baseball talk (or any kind of Internet talk) I’ve ever seen. These guys are smart, opinionated, not beholden to Jon for his approval, considerate of Jon’s attempts to keep the comment strings family-friendly, and largely considerate of readers who care to read well-written thoughts, not illiterate Internet-ese peppered with bad grammar, typos and profanity for profanity’s sake. (As much fun as their response to Jon’s articles are, what’s really exciting is logging on during a game and taking part in the open forum chats—talk about adding a third dimension to watching or listening on TV, radio or the Internet.) The site has really been a sanctuary for Dodger fans in the off season who have searched for some voices of reason. to counterbalance the soft, indifferent, or at times downright hostile coverage of the team in the Los Angeles Times. The local paper of record seems to have given up on considered analysis and insistence on the value of the long view, preferring instead to give in to the prevailing winds, whether blown by panic, cynicism or narrow-minded nostalgia. Fortunately, for fans who have been made to feel like blind nincompoops for supporting the team by such coverage, reasoned overview is the meat and potatoes of “Dodger Thoughts,” and the site is regularly filled with the kind of writing and fan response that ought to have a lot of well-known sportswriters hanging their heads in shame. Jon Weisman’s “Dodger Thoughts” can be found at http://www.all-baseball.com/dodgerthoughts/
I’m lucky enough to have three friends who have decided to navigate the blogosphere recently. All of them are sharp writers who threaten to illuminate virtual reality with some really interesting and provocative perspectives on various aspects of the lives they lead.
Cruzbomb has started what promises to be a site filled with sharp wit revolving around pop culture and his experiences in the world of endurance running. It’s called “Revolution Pollution” and can be found and bookmarked at http://www.revolutionpollution.blogspot.com/. One of his first long pieces is called “Endurance Junkie,” a genuinely effective piece of inspirational writing that never succumbs to sentiment or platitudes (Cruzbomb’s wit is far too acidic, and he's too willing to break the mood at any point for another slightly cracked observation, fully confident in his ability to get back on point, for this to ever happen). The post chronicles his attempts to get his life together and push himself to places he never thought he could go, and it’s definitely worth checking out. He promises a couple of weekly features too, and if the first entries are any indication, there’s going to be some addictive reading added to my list. Just posted this weekend is a profane, and profanely funny, deconstruction of The Brady Bunch that rallies, helplessly, around poor Alice and her seemingly cheerful, and cheerfully imposed, life of servitude at the hands of her San Fernando Valley slave masters. Also, tantalizingly, Cruzbomb has yet to dig into his hinted-at obsession with Hayley Mills, so count me as one reader who is waiting very patiently for him to get there.
Loxjet, a recent Los Angeles émigré who has found himself back in his real world, that is, the Big Sky of Billings, Montana, from which he sprang, has not been at the blogging business long, but his economical, allusive writing style proves him to be the real deal. At his “Wailing and Gnashing: A Beginner’s Guide,” he’s set himself the goal of creating a blog that has functioned so far as an online diary, a journal of a man at a crossroads in his life, in the midst of rediscovering himself, with all the fears, insecurity and leaps of faith implied in such a journey. Loxjet clearly loves writing (a recent entry about the perfect paragraph is evidence of that), but he's a hell of a writer himself, one who knows the value of the economy of words (a lesson many of us, myself included, would do well to learn). But he locates the poetic heart of his tender appreciations of the land where he grew up, the struggles of raising a son diagnosed with autism (while never forgetting that those struggles never preclude love), and the aesthetic beauty of a Fender Stratocaster, with such ease and precision that I hope his journey through the blogosphere is a long and productive one, even if and when he gets everything he wants. Discover “Wailing and Gnashing” for yourself at http://gnashingwailing.blogspot.com/
Finally, you’re not likely to find much poetry in Stoogeking’s raucous observations about punk rock and hard-core Italian giallo horror films, and it remains to be seen what direction the site will ultimately take (he has only posted twice so far—step it up, SK!), but “Hey Ho Argento!” looks like a lot of fun so far. His New Year’s Eve Eve (not a typo—Ed.) dalliance with Danzig is terrific and, depending on how much more writing we see from Stoogeking in the next month or so, is thoroughly indicative of the sensibility and powers of observation one might reasonably expect from this site. Catch up with this ne’er-do-well at http://stoogeville.blogspot.com/
* Ten points and entry into the "Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule Hall of Fame" to the first person who can tell me from whence cometh the line which this entry title twists ever so slightly. Sorry, Cruzbomb, Loxjet and Stoogeking, but your insider knowledge precludes you from participation. Your comments, however, are still as welcome as ever!