Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pulling up the cushions

Ever get the feeling you're standing in a room full of people who share some kind of inside joke and you're the only one not in on it? Or, you're the only sober one -- thanks to some strange twist of designated driver fate, perhaps -- at a party where everyone is smoking some seriously great shit and you're entirely left out?

After spending a considerable amount of time sitting on Bond's Big Leather Couch, I still haven't a clue what's going on.

Listen, I take this stuff seriously. I spend time investigating the blogs I review, I click around, I take notes, for fuck's sake. I try to bring you sassy commentary and helpful insight. But this time? I'm stumped. It's obvious the guy's got readers, but I'm at a loss as to why.

The design, quite frankly, is a train wreck. Red text on a bright (glaring!) blue background for the sidebars, and the posts have various words in bold and different colors and sizes and it just makes me want to gauge my eyes out with a paperclip. It looks like there's been a snafu with Blogger because there seems to be some double postage going on. And the posts themselves? Interminable. And chock-a-block full of joke-y pictures the likes of which my grandmother sends me from version 1.2 of AOL. If I'm not mistaken, he uses the royal "we," which is just... I can't even... Please? Don't do that.

There's way too much stuff going on here, too. The sidebars are far too long, and Jesus Lord there are like eleventy-five-hundred badges and doohickeys and ribbons and links and save the freakin' malarial children in Africa (Look, I'm not insensitive. I care about suffering children in Africa. But I think this guy's plea for help would be more effective if it were at all possible to look at his nightmare of a page!). Roll that crap up, put your badges on a separate page if they mean that much to you, and give the rest of us a break.

Above all, I have no idea who this guy is. I don't mean his name and rank, I mean who he is, why I should care, what's the purpose of the blog, and why in blazes I'd want to read a single thing he says. An "About" page might help narrow it down and give readers a clue. From my bewildered clicking and reading, it seems to me this blog has lots to do with American Idol (couldn't care less), baseball (hate it), music retrospectives (fine) and random snippets of pop culture that I read about from other (less cluttered, more witty) sources.

Look, I don't want to hate on this. He's an older guy with a new fangled technology, and he's building a community and doing something he obviously enjoys. And it's clear others enjoy his perspective, too. They get it; I don't. So, don't stop. But for the love of cascading style sheets, find a new template, get some focus, ditch the acres and acres of corny pictures, streamline this steaming pile, and stop using your blog as a repository for internet flotsam and jetsam. There may be roses among the thorns here, but they're too everloving hard to get to.

You get a "meh" for the content and a whole slew of flaming fingers for your template.


  1. Be careful what you wish for I guess...

    Far different review than I have ever gotten...

    BUT, I am a man and can take it...

  2. rawr.

    We like men who can take it like men.

  3. And, dear Bond. You submitted here. You must have read our other reviews. What in the sam hell did you think any of us would think about this train wreck (and not even a good train wreck with ubiquitous sexual exploits, either)?

  4. And you know what, Bond? I'm positive there's good(ish) stuff there. It's just really, really hard to get to.

    Also? It's the luck of the draw on reviewers. You happened to get one who didn't relate.

    Thanks for being all manly.

  5. Um, I'm not sure ANY of us would have related to Bond; then again, I seemed to have over-rated on my last review, so maybe I would've had another mental shit-fit and gone all "gosh, I love this blog!" on him.

    Either way, his manliness IS astounding.

    ...you "HATE" baseball? Oh, dear Calamity.

    What could have been.


  6. Um, I'm not sure ANY of us would have related to Bond

    Yeah, I know. I'm just trying to be all nice and shit. Giving flaming fingers (though deserved) leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.

    ...you "HATE" baseball? Oh, dear Calamity.

    I do. It bores the piss out of me. I'm from the south, where the only game is college football.

  7. "You submitted here. You must have read our other reviews."

    Not necessarily.

    Some of us simply stumble upon you through other sources, submit, THEN get into your other reviews. Somewhat like walking into an old creepy house, 'just to see', then having the door slam shut behind you and you're left looking around at the cobwebs and rotting corpses going ".... ohhhh shit ...what did I get myself into?"

    Our own faults of course, for leaping first, and looking later.

  8. I will tell you - I tend to disagree with the 'train wreck' assessment though...

    You said you could not know me? Did you check the links from the 2 year Anniversary post? Did you read any of the fiction I have written (listed under the Monday Matinee banner on the right sidebar)?

    I agree that the sidebars need to be cleaned up and have been working on a new format for them...

    I actually had not read many of the reviews here but found you after you reviewed a friends blog (Bagwine Ruminations)...

    Calamity...the colors in the post are pretty basic... Song titles, bands and abums are always bolded in green.

    Names of people are black and bolded. Places are bolded and italicized..

    I guess the four flaming fingers kinda hurt...

    I invite you all to stop by on occasion and read and see what The Couch is all about...

    The American idol thing was big in the beginning..not so much anymore...BASEBALL is the best game in the wold...

    Check the Tuneage Tutelage posts...

    OK...I am done... when I redo the layout I will let you know...

    the content is ME...and ummm I am in my 50's but certainly NOT an 'old guy' and I am pretty adept at technology...just saying...

    What exactly can you not relate to?

  9. I'll tellya what, Bond: a lot of your posts just seem to be written randomly, but not in that "holy-fuck-this-guy's-CRAZY" way, but in that "I-don't-want-to-organize-my-thought-so-I'll-just-write-them-down-in-whatever-order-they-come-to-me" way, and that particular style isn't all that cohesive, nor fun, to read.

    Most of the stuff on your blog I can get elsewhere (lookit all those LINKS), which means you, yourself, aren't giving anybody anything to relate to.

    Man, that Calamity chick is pretty good at this, huh?*

    *"pretty good" = "DEAD-ON"

  10. ummm holy crap...

    OK...some people relate..some don't... no worries... All my posts are well thought out though some are stream of consciousness types...

    Links are there to allow more info to be learned...

    Look, again, thanks for taking the time...

  11. none of you actually write a blog....NOW that is interesting...


  12. Oh, how I wish you'd stuck with, "I can take it." ;)

    Look, I'm one person. Out of zillions. So don't take it too personally. There are obviously people out there who like and get what you're doing.

    I'm not the be-all-end-all of blog reviewers, but consider that I see a lot of good blogs, I'm an editor, and I studied publications design. I'm not pulling crap out to critique just because I like to, and I don't enjoy blasting people just because I'm an anonymous blogger with an ax to grind (much).

    I spent a solid hour going through your blog. I read posts from 2006, 2007, and just the other day. I was thorough, I assure you. And I still didn't enjoy it. And you know why? Because all the crap going on, all the acres of couch images and color-coded text, got in the way. It's possible there's decent writing here, but you've couched it (pun intended) in such a terrible design with atrocious organization that it's a chore for a reader (especially a new reader) to muddle through.

    I didn't see your fiction posted under Monday whatever, because on what planet does it make sense that I would look there for it? Label it "Fiction" and provide a link at the top to all your fiction writing. Makes sense, yes?

    And I gave you some props for Tuneage Tutelage (last part of my review, linked with "rose"). That part I actually found interesting. But again, it's a bitch to get to those kernels of fine writing what with all the other (random) crap going on.

    The color coding is entirely arbitrary. What reader is going to know that these are the ways you've decided to illustrate your text? To me, it just looks like interrupted flow. My eyes stagger over them and it breaks up the reading. It's overkill.

    Is this a music blog? Is it a personal blog? Is it a radio blog? Who are you? What are you about? Why do I want to take a seat on the couch and see what you have to say? There seems to be no focus here, no theme, nothing to tie it all together.

    Bottom line, I stand by my review. Likely your content would have gotten a bit better rating if your template and overall design hadn't been so egregiously executed. If you click around and look at some really good design, even some just fine design that's uncluttered and organized, I think you'll see that I'm right.

    I'd love for you to resubmit once you've tweaked your blog and maybe found some focus. Really. I'd like to see what you can do, because chances are you can do better.

  13. well...I'll admit his choice of colors wouldn't be mine...and the visual is somewhat chaotic....but that gives the reader a hell of a lot of insight into who Bond is.

    Truly....after reading him for the better part of a year, I know more about Vinny and his personal life than many othe blogs I read.

    I hate AI...totally disagree with Bond on most baseball issues...but his tunage and other cultural posts are incredibly well researched and presented.

    Bond's blog has way more heart than most...I am honored to have a place on the Big Leather Couch.

    just another perspective.

  14. none of you actually write a blog....NOW that is interesting...

    Oh, Bond.

    Yes, we do have blogs. But to maintain professionalism and anonymity (and to avoid stalkers), we don't link to them here.

    You went from taking it like a man (your words) to pointing fingers. I don't mean to be incendiary (much), but you have some work to do on your blog, in my opinion. And that's just what it is -- MY opinion. If you don't care, don't care. But then don't submit if you're not ready to get critiqued.

  15. Truly....after reading him for the better part of a year

    I can see where that might be the case, but I don't have a year to review his blog. And what I get in the first, say, 30 seconds of viewing isn't encouraging me to stick around for a year. That's not me being mean or snarky -- it's just aesthetics. Fix that, and he'd likely attract and retain more readers.

  16. And I say "professional" with a grain of salt, because being a self-appointed blog reviewer is incredibly far away from professional. But still.

  17. I have taken all you said like a man...

    I wanted to have a dialog to try and assist you in seeing who i am...If that came off as bitter, then my apologies...

    As far as your not linking your blogs , I can see your point, but was certainly interested in seeing what you do on yours.

    Thank you Katherine...i appreciate your kind words...

  18. none of you actually write a blog....NOW that is interesting...


    We all have personal blogs. We all write here weekly, in addition (was it freudian that I almost wrote weakly?). Calamity has two blogs, in fact, both of which are extremely well-written. Ryan has one very well-written blog.

    Here is one of mine.

    Any of the feedback you were given could have been gleaned by reading the FAQ here.

    Any of us who write on here take our own advice to heart. We don't have blinky gizmos, or ten million graphics, or templates that are so busy that our readers can't get what we're talking about.

    Design is clearly not the most important part of any blog, but when even your fans are telling you that your design is taking away from your blog, you should take that to heart.

    As far as the posts, Calamity was kind. Your posts, like those of many others who have been reviewed here, could greatly benefit from having at least half of the words removed. Find a topic, and stick to it. Don't meander around through 27 different topics in a single post.

    Now, having said that, you've been blogging for a while. So have we. Years, in fact. I've been blogging since July of '05. I know Calamity has been blogging at least that long, if not longer. Jobber has a brilliant blog.

    If you submitted your blog here, I am going to assume that you at least knew what you were in for. You got what you asked for. Take it in a good spirit, make whatever changes you deem suitable, and move on.

    The feedback you received was constructive, to the point, and not unduly harsh. I would have rated you about the same, and I think I'm speaking for Jobber, as well.

    You don't need to see our personal blogs to take the criticism, you can see it exemplified on this blog. Everything that we recommend that other users do, we do here, on Ask. No blinkies. Clean layout. White background behind text. No colored fonts. Posts that stick to a single topic and are well-written.

    End of story.

  19. I also enjoy...using...ellipses...

    ...and being laughed at, baselessly, to make someone feel better about themselves.

    Keep them laughs coming, big guy! You'll feel better soon...promise!

  20. My goodness, people are testy this week. Is it the weather? Something in the water? Geez.

    You've been spanked. Move along.

    And, for my favorite twat,


  21. Also, FFS...less is more. Too many goddamn cakes, and couches, and pictures, and captions...HEADDESK. I'm including a link to the definition of this term for the elderly readers.

    This looks like a 12-year-old's myspace page...on CRACK.

  22. I respectfully disagree with your critique of Bond's blog. It seems to me that if you missed his fiction, you couldn't have spent enough time checking out the contents of his blog. Bond is a brilliant, expressive writer, whether he's writing fiction, reviews, sports commentary or even random thoughts. I submit that you should consider a second point of view:


    I thank you for your opinion, even though I disagree with your assessment. I will continue to read the Couch, because I think it's one of the best blogs out there.

  23. Yeah, I read that review. But it didn't change my review because I am a different person from Jack. He enjoyed the blog. Great. Doesn't mean I'm going to.

    Also? I ain't lyin'. I spent an hour going through his site. Never found any fiction. And after reading Jack's review, I looked. Honestly. And I'm not internet challenged, man, I promise. It's just too damn cluttered to find anything.

    You like Bond's blog. Fantastic. Seems a fair number of people do. I, however, don't. I don't have anything against the guy; I wish him well. I hope he keeps it up -- with a revised template and after taking some of my suggestions to heart because I'm really not just trying to hate on him.

  24. Remind me again why we give a crap what other reviewers have to say?

  25. Bond I don't think I have been reviewed by this site...But I did just submit my blog. Cheers to All!!

  26. Someone is brave and manly... ;)

  27. Hey...Whether you guys give me a good review or a bad one, make it hurt and leave plenty of marks. Boo Yah and Cheers!!

  28. I agree. Bond is a befuddled old man. But he's my dad and I love him!

  29. Matt:

    You've definitely come to the right place. Did you read our FAQ? ;)

    Think of us as the most benevolent dominatrixes you have ever encountered, with really great boots and a thin whippy riding crop.

    Dr. B.: Aww, that schweet. ;)

  30. Oh, Jiminy Cricket! Bond's son is commenting? Now I feel guilty for ragging on the old guy. Great. Just what I need. More angst. ;)

  31. Calamity, he is NOT my son. Sheesh

    and I am totally disappointed that THAT would give you angst. It appears you are not the tough broad I thought you were =]

  32. Yes I did Love Bites, FAQ you very much!! ; )~ Cheers!!

  33. You can't fucking win should really become the motto around here.

    Either they aren't happy because you didn't tear them a new one or they are aren't happy because you did.

    Clean up your fucking template and quit whining. And this comes from a girl who actually got reviewed, got spanked and cmes back for more after listening to your advice.

    If that's taking it like a man then I'll stay a bitch.


Grow a pair.