Friday, March 28, 2008

Less is more

I had to put some Deftones on to steel myself for this review. I wanted to like this blog, really I did.

But first, I'm going to tell you a story. Once upon a time, I dated a man I like to call Single Dad. Single Dad was a very nice man. He had a good job. He was funny and intelligent. But damn. Single dad bugged the crap out of me. He wanted to see me way too often. He called too much. He gave me flowers way too soon. Soon, he lost the moniker "Single Dad," and became known in my head as "the man who tries to hard."

That man has a lot in common with today's blogger, Avitable. I thought my favorite psychotic blogger of all time was enamored with photos of himself, but he has nothing on Avitable when it comes to self-love. There are pics of Avitable smiling. There are pics of Avitable stroking his chin hairs. There are pics of Avitable looking like a nerd. There are pics of Avitable as a small boy.

All of these pictures make me want to stab my own eyes out and stare blankly into comforting nothingness. For the first time in my blogging career, I think I've met a template that makes me wish for clean and boring blogger template.

This blog would look about a million times better if you did the following:

  • No Avitable pics on the side of the blog.

  • No blinding blue sidebar to make my eyes scream for mercy (black, please, to match the header, with white links. Seriously.)

  • No 2" high gray busy thingies under every post.

  • No blinky twinkly girly things on the sidebar at all.

  • Please use a font size that will not make anyone over 14 go blind.

  • Get rid of 90% of the pics, they make your blog load slower than Hillary dodges sniper bullets.


You know how to use tabs, Avi, so put that shit away behind a few more tabs, and clean your blog-room. Make it nice and neat, and focus on your writing.

Okay, so that's covered.

On to the writing.

The writing is fucking exhausting. In fact, the entire blog exhausts me. It makes me want to start hitting the hard liquor on a Thursday night.

When it comes to blogging, more often than not, people fail because they don't realize something simple: less is more. Take this post, for instance. There are funny moments here. But they are buried in way too many words. 18 ways in which you are a control freak? Are you fucking kidding me? You need to be on goddamn OCD meds. NOT for the reasons that you've listed, but because it is apparently impossible for you to make a list shorter than 15 to 20 items. You haven't grasped that clean, elegant writing can kick the shit out of a list of 18 superficially funny items. Especially, Avi, if that writing is about something REAL.

So, I'm fixing to get all serious on you, because I actually want this review to help you.

STOP.

BREATHE, GODDAMMIT.

And, SLOW. THE. FUCK. DOWN.

Your blog leaves me feeling hollow, because in all the effort, the real Avitable has somehow gotten lost.

If comments are the ultimate arbiter of what we do online, then you are kicking my ass, and you can ignore everything I'm saying here. BUT, I left your blog wishing you would just stop trying so damn hard to do everything. And, that you would just do one thing--well.

I think your blog could be so much more. I think it could be brilliant. But, you have to figure out why you are doing this.

I have a couple of assignments for you.

First, go here. I want you to see how unfuckingbelievablyfunny a great writer can be in 2 sentences or less.

I double-dog-dare you not to laugh out loud at that shit. See? Less really IS more. Those two sentences twitters would not have been improved by the addition of even one word.

Second, if you don't own it already, I want you to download the Deftone's song "Be Quiet and Drive." I want you to get in the Avitamobile. I want you to roll down the windows. I want you to turn that song up really loud. And, I want you to fucking be quiet and drive. Then, I want you to listen to a little more. Maybe Minerva, or Change, or Hole in the Earth. You pick.

And, while you're being quiet and driving, I want you to think about the music. How, these songs--in the midst of all the noise--have a sense of quiet realness and palpable emotion. Then, I want you to think about who in the fuck Avitable really is underneath all that effort. And, when you've figured that out, I want you to bring THAT Avitable to your blog.

That is the Avitable I want to read.

For now, you get the short bus (but I'll come and ride with you, if you ask nicely):


p.s. George--if you're still listening, the Deftones could only be an improvement on your musical taste.

50 comments:

  1. Ms. Bites? THAT was a really, really good review.

    Avitable's got the skills; he just loses me sometimes, and I could never seem to put my finger on the why...and there it is: it's what you said.

    All of it - ESPECIALLY the Deftones.

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  2. I think I need to go and listen to the Deftones - I've not heard a better review for them.

    This is a fucking brilliant, and kindly constructive, review. Avitable needs to pay some attention to Ms. Bites, because you're dead right about his blog. I don't know if I'm having a grumpy week or it's all this George flogging, but I wouldn't have been so constructive. It all seems a little bit fake, like Avitable's posturing. Cut through the bullshit and let's see what's left.

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  3. I tried to comment earlier and apparently it didn't publish. So I'm trying again, and if it shows up twice, I apologize.

    I wanted to ask a question about the "too wordy" issue. I've been reading the reviews and going to the sites to see if my opinions are even close to the reviews. I might not be willing to sacrifice my own head for your advice, but I'm more than willing to benefit from the rest of the carnage!

    When you guys say a blog is "too wordy", is it that you're finding blog posts just generally too long? Or is the length of the posts acheieved by too many filler words and fluff? Do you think readers don't want to spend time on lengthy posts no matter how good, or the meaning/entertainment of the post is getting lost in nonsense?

    Or both?

    Thanks!

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  4. That's the thing, though. I think you missed the whole point. This isn't a personal blog. I don't tell stories about cleaning up my kid's shit or take photos of random stuff on my dog's head. People want to stab their own eyes out on a regular basis reading my blog, which is why they go there. (I give you http://tinyurl.com/2s6dhd and http://tinyurl.com/2ly924 as examples).

    I occasionally post something that is somewhat sincere, but that's not the focus of the blog. And I get shit from my readers when I do, too, because they don't want to read that boring shit.

    I'm guessing you didn't read a week or so back, though, or maybe you wouldn't have recommended what you have recommended (unless you're playing a horrible joke, in which case, bravo). I hate Dooce. She's not a blog. A blog is an interactive experience that has communication between the reader and the writer. That's what makes it different from a newspaper article. She started out funny, but now it's one of the worst sites out there.

    Other than that recommendation, thanks for the input. I do appreciate it, even if I do think the advice is a bit misguided given the nature of my blog.

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  5. I didn't send you to Dooce so you could imitate her, Avitable. I sent you to her twitter so you could see that when it comes to funny, simplicity is better. Less words. Less effort. Heather is funnier in two sentences than you are in 50 sentences.

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  6. I read the entire first page of her tweets and didn't even crack a smile. She's lost the funny edge that she had before she became successful.

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  7. I read for an hour on your blog and didn't crack a smile. Your blog has built a following and some interactivity, but you asked to be reviewed.

    I'm telling you why I'm not going to be joining your fans.

    So, you can either take something from that and use it, or move on.

    I think you've lost something your blog used to have, as well.

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  8. And I do appreciate that. I know that my blog isn't for everyone. I don't expect every person who sees it to love it.

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  9. I think where we aren't connecting is that I don't have a problem with the Avitable persona. The thing about sketch comedy, however, is that the PERSONA even has to be somewhat believable in order to BE funny. And because nothing real seems to creep through in your writing, the Avitable persona isn't REAL. Think about Carole Burnett or Gilda Radner or John Belushi. Even when they were completely over the top, the personas weren't hollow, there was something real there that connected them to real people. That's why they were so funny. Even Chris Farley had it.

    When Dooce says on her twitter, for instance, that she let her cousin George play basketball with a ball that her dog pees on every day, I BELIEVE her. That's what makes her statement funny.

    And, when it comes to edgy, sometimes you don't go far enough (the control freak post comes to mind). There are simply too many items, and most of them aren't funny. So it's like even though you may well be a control freak (and I believe you probably are, not that there's anything wrong with that, so am I), I don't CARE. You haven't made it real enough.

    I can't tell you how to do it, you have to figure that out for yourself. All I can tell you is that while the real may happen in your comments, it isn't happening in your posts. At all.

    And I'm not talking baby poop here. I'm talking the universal truth that anyone can connect to that distinguishes great comedy and great writing from merely okay.

    You're okay. You could be great, which is why your blog is so frustrating to me.

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  10. George: Don't you have some terrified women to stalk in the real world? And, some actual music to listen to?

    Angel: What we mean is that there are far too many words in someone's writing. That they take too long to get to the point. That their prose is redundant and stilted. That they need to go through and look at sentences and take unnecessary words out.

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  11. To stand with my peeps, and to be fair I didn't read as long as Ms Bites did, I didn't crack a smile either, Avitable. It's all a bit juvenile - which is fine - but not my thing. Also, there're are a few other guys out there doing really similar things to you, man. Now I'm not sure who pissed on the tree first, but it's getting a little crowded.

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  12. Oh my God, I'm rolling here.

    Only because - some of these things are things I've said to Avi.

    Now - my opinion here isn't going to be objective, because it's no secret that Avitable and I are two heads of some kind of bizarre monster.

    BUT -

    I'm going to back him on this: his blog isn't personal. It's like... mmm... a side show. It's out there, it's hysterical, it's not where you go when you want to connect.

    Like I said, I've beat him over the head a million times about being more "real" on his blog - and every time he succumbs to that, his audience threatens to riot.

    Anyway, I think he's funny. But he's even funnier in person. :-)

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  13. Oh, and I about pissed myself that you used Dooce as an example.

    He he he he.

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  14. Dooce is who I use when I want someone who is a very CLEAN writer. She really knows how to write, whether her style is for everyone or not. That's all.

    I kind of feel like Avi's blog the way I felt when my nephew told me to try to lick my ear and touch my shoulder at the same time. I sat there at the dinner table with my tongue out and my hand stretched across my chest, and said, plaintively, "I don't get it."

    Yeah. My kids still mock me about that one. That's our code word for when everyone else seems to understand except me.

    Avi's blog makes me feel retarded like..."There's something here that clearly people like, why isn't it funny to me?"

    That might just mean I'm retarded, however.

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  15. Just for the record... I would never threaten anyone who decided to get more "real" on their blog should they choose too.

    I just felt that I had to get that out there since I am probably the only one with an "Inciting a Riot" conviction.

    Oh, and Dooce is good fun for four year olds... she's along the same line as the Tele-tubbies... which her following is further proof of the dumbing down of America.

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  16. Great review, Love Bites.

    I especially agree with the comments on the design. I hate that blue. And all the pics of himself.

    I think it's interesting that on one hand Avitable is about endorsing a communication between the author and the commenter, when a few comments down our Miss Britt says it's not where you go when you want to connect. Why does that seem at cross purposes to me?

    I think, too, it comes down to audience and what they want out of blog. I prefer a more personal connection, a more relatable experience. I want to be entertained, but I also want to be let in a little bit.

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  17. One positive mark in Avi's favor:

    He knows how to take a spanking like a man. ;) I like that, in a man.

    No wussie whining about, "but eh I didn't REALLY submit my blog for review..."

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  18. Calamity - I think that there is communication there. Going to Avi's blog is like a Frat party. Where everyone's laughing and sharing jokes and slapping each other on the ass with a wet towel.

    The "connect" I meant was, for instance, it's not where you're going to go to hear someone lament about their battle with depression or something.

    Does that make sense?

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  19. Professor Booty, calling it juvenile is amusing from someone with an pseudonym of "Professor Booty".

    Calamity, I respond personally to every single comment I receive, whether it's only 10 for a post or 100. That's interaction and communication.

    Love Bites, shit. I was one of the IT2M bitches and the only one who didn't hide behind a fake name and silly avatar. I can take it!

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  20. Yeah, that does make sense. I get it. I think.

    Although, I think I'd like to hear about Avitable's depression. Those SSRI's are fucking hilarious.

    That might also explain the disconnect. I stopped going to frat parties 11 years ago. Jesus Christ, has it been that long?

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  21. Oh bitch, shut up. I went to a "club" this past weekend - during Spring Break.

    I felt like I should be monitoring those kids' curfews.

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  22. Now that I think about it, I think I need to do a keg stand, STAT. I'm getting far too old for my own good.

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  23. Holy shit, a club? Gah! I just had flashbacks of shiny shirts and lots and lots and lots of hair gel and the distinct odor of Polo. Make it go away, mommy!

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  24. Shit bitch, you want to feel old? Then realize that the term keg stand was invented after I LEFT GODDAMN COLLEGE.

    Avi's blog is kind of that way. And a little frat boy goes a long way with me. Perhaps it's just that I was a slutty whore in college who slept with far too many frat boys and has seen them in their unmentionables.

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  25. And sweat.

    Oh my God. The sweat.

    I think someone's little brother actually rubbed their sweat on me.

    Where do old people go if they still like to dance? Where there is less sweat?

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  26. Just for the record, I do hate frat boys. And fraternities, in general.

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  27. In my case, I make my kids dance with me to the Clash in my living room. I prefer it.

    But, I think there have to be some old people bars out there, somewhere.

    By the way, Miss B, if y'all make it up to the Panhandle anytime soon, you definitely need to come and hang out with C & I. We will totally throw down for you.

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  28. I understand they have dancing at the senior centers.

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  29. That sounds tempting.

    Except... the panhandle. Doesn't it SNOW there?

    :-P

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  30. Oh, Avi, you are so a frat boy. You've just created your OWN frat. Let's see. I'd call it "I Eta Pi" or maybe "I Peta Cum."

    (mad propz to bad brains)

    Or, perhaps "I Yamma Perv."

    ;)

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  31. Avitable, I yield the field. Well argued.

    Dirty little secret - I was a frat boy in college...

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  32. Psht, pussy, it only snows like once every TEN YEARS here. And, that was last winter, so I think you're good. We'd take you to eat oysters at a divey bar, at the least.

    Then Avi's frat would be "I Gamma Puka."

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  33. I was a soror-whore in college. ;)

    Delta Zeta, otherwise known as "e-z d-z." In my case, completely true.

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  34. And drinks, right?

    I'm all about the dive bars. Odds are better in those places that I'll be the hottest thing in there.

    And that's important.

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  35. Fuck yes, drinks.

    I like a bar where I'm the hottest chick in there because I have all my teeth.

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  36. Okay, fine, I rated Avi. But, only because I think this is where he wants to be. ;)

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  37. We have one of those bars right by my house.

    Youngest. Most teeth.

    And I STILL don't get drinks bought for me. WTF??

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  38. Angel, I don't think we've gotten to your comment. By "wordy," at least for me, we mean you didn't edit down to the vital parts. I don't mind a long post, provided it's not full of extraneous words, words that don't add anything to the narrative. Does that help?

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  39. Also, if you're doing a long post, make sure you break it up into manageable pieces. No huge paragraphs, please.

    And now I've just drastically changed the mood in the comments. Buzzkill, thy name is Calamity.

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  40. See, THIS is what I'm talking about: a good, old fashioned argument, not just pointless bickering and bitching.

    I AM sad that I've missed most of it, however. I'll be blaming ol' Calamity-Buzzkill in the company newsletter, though, to go along with my expose as to how Booty got hismelf such a good parking space for a new guy...and could somebody, PLEASE, refill the coffee-maker?

    Is that asking too much?

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  41. See? You do know me! I love the short bus!

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  42. I, too, have tried to tell Avitable to be concise. But does he listen to me? He does not. And now look where it has gotten him. He can't run a bordello in a Gold Rush. And I'd go deeper into that concept but I've got to get another beer.

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  43. Calamity, although I hate to be the reason for a buzkill moment, thanks!

    Those are the types of things I worry about. I don't care if my content doesn't appeal to a large crowd or even if my template is tacky. But I don't want people not reading because the template takes 10 minutes to load or because the posts are too long to wade through.

    And obviously I have a problem with knowing when enough is enough and the rest is overkill!

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  44. NUTJOBBER! I can't freaking believe I did that. Look at that last post. I MISSPELLED my own name.

    I confirmed everything you thought about me when you saw I screwed up yours, right.

    Drugs make your fingers jittery? I'm sticking with that.

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  45. Oh, I was going to say something, too, but I figured you were already tearing your hair out over it, and I didn't want to make it worse...

    Don't feel badly, my dear; take a look at some of my other hastily-written comments - the ones where it looks like I was typing with my face?

    Yeah - live by the sword, die by the sword.

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  46. I love that Avi is able to take the review with a grain of salt and not get bent out of shape about it. I figure it's because he's been there, having done reviews on IT2M so he knows it is just one person's opinion.

    Plus, I must say it's a tiny bit satisfying to see him get a bit of a scolding review after the one he gave me over there haha (although, he did give me some great advice)

    Oh, and how come I'm not on the top rated page, I got 3 stars and a weird little penguin dammit! Check it out:
    http://iwillfuckingtearyouapart.blogspot.com/2006/09/holy-deutschland-batman.html

    Anyway... way to roll with the punches Avi! :)

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  47. Just thought I'd let you know that thanks to your advice, I've made some huge changes to my blog design. They're only there for today, but it's all thanks to you!

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  48. Oh God, why do I love the unicorns so much!?

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Grow a pair.