I can’t tell if I drew the long straw or the short straw. On the one hand, today’s reviewee has a very digestible number of posts and I was able to read his entire output in a single sitting without feeling over- or under-whelmed. On the other hand, today’s blog is Project Kickass, the personal playground of longtime commenter and AAYSR mainstay Chris. I think Chris has been here at AAYSR longer than I have. So … what do I say? Am I being set up?
Oh well - I must press on. I have a task at hand. And Project Kickass is waiting patiently...
Chris – this bit here is just for you and no one else. The following review is merely one person’s take on what will make Project Kickass kick more ass. I have my preferences, and I like to think that I speak for more than just me, but let me be clear… There will be those who will disagree with me. (Mind you, they're wrong.) And you may choose to listen to them and not to me. But think about what I have to say, because I mean it all in the best possible way.
Having read the entire offering at Project Kickass, here are what I consider to be certain immutable facts…
Fact: Chris lives in Arizona.
Fact: Chris hates Walmart, but paradoxically keeps finding himself there.
Fact: Chris is funny. He writes humorously without being a humorblog whore.
Fact: Chris works in IT or sales at either an Apple store or an AT&T store – I am leaning toward AT&T.
Fact: Chris appears to have zero tolerance for stupid people or rednecks or inbreeders.
Fact: Chris had an accident/injury at one point that has left him partially incapacitated.
This last fact bears discussing. It seems that Chris desperately wishes to downplay this injury and incapacitation and yet it comes up time and time again, as tangents in his stories. Like spices in a stew. We learn that as a result of this injury, he has a big ass scar on his periodically bald head. We learn that he has poor hearing and has lost the vision in one of his eyes. We learn that he writes with his left hand because his right hand, previously his dominant hand, no longer works the way he'd like it to. We learn that because of this injury, his written verbal skills don’t work the way they used to and so he misspells things or gets ideas twisted around.
I sympathize. One of my best friends has incredibly bad dyslexia, and one of my jobs is to take what he has written and translate it into what he really meant. And as a teenager, my best friend was a stroke victim who also lost the use of his dominant right hand and was relegated to his left. So, let me just say for the record that your editing was off the table for this review. Yeah, you misspell things. You’ve addressed it. No more needs to be said about it.
Okay – enough of this bullshit. Let’s get to what you’re doing right and what you could be doing better…
The almost complete lack of clutter in your template. There are no distractions – just content content content. And that translator thing – of no real use to me but actually fun to play with.
Your About Me is an excellent introduction to what is served up at Project Kickass.
You are funny. (Have I said that before?) You rarely fail to make me laugh. And your posts are almost always the right length. That alone has kept me coming back to visit you over the last few months. But lest you think that your shit does not stink at all, please note the following:
You tend to repeat yourself. I think you have the nerd pick up lines gag in there three times. Maybe just twice but it feels like three times. There are other times when you feel like you’re digging into your “standard list of humorous situations about which to write” (e.g., this is what happened to me at Walmart) rather than really crafting something new. But this is only occasional.
Your timeline is disorienting. I don’t know exactly how you do it (or indeed why you do it), but at least on the main page, your posts are not always in chronological order. So you have posts there from three months ago in front of posts from last week. And it seems to be a bit random. And I personally do not care for it.
It feels like bullshit. Outside of the occasional glimpse at the real Chris underneath things, I feel a bit like David After Dentist (No, I will not link to it. That asshat has gotten more than enough unwarranted publicity at the expense of his child.) when reading your blog; I find myself wondering “Is this real life?” Trouble is, I just don’t know what’s real and what’s bullshit. Are you the type of person who picks fights with rednecks in the Walmart parking lot for shits and giggles? Or are you a Walter Mitty who writes about the time he wishes he picked a fight with the redneck in the Walmart parking lot? Maybe that doesn’t matter, but I am left with a question mark in my mind next to the "immutable facts" listed above. Making me wonder if they are also, possibly, bullshit. Hell, maybe none of it is bullshit. But it still feels like it.
Presuming it isn't all just bullshit, you could be less superficial. More daring in your writing. Write in detail about that lost love, about how you were injured, about how you feel about where you are in this fucked up world we live in. You can do this and be funny at the same time. Johnny Virgil over at 15 Minute Lunch does a great job of mixing the personal and hilarious, albeit he takes WAAAAAAAY too long to get to the point sometimes. Here’s the thing – as I have said, you are funny. But having read it all, it is starting to feel like Will Farrell funny. The trouble with Will Farrell (for me) is that when he’s being funny, it’s kind of the same shtick over and over. And if you like that, that’s great. But if you don’t…? I’d prefer more realness and more variety.
Your template. Let me cut to the chase on the whole light text on dark background thing. (At least for me…) I have astigmatism. I won’t bore you with details, but with astigmatism, my eyesight is worse the wider my pupils get. So, the light text on the dark background causes my pupils to expand causing the bright light text to be blurrier than dark text on a light background. Meaning, more work for my eyes. (Thanatos has a different theory on this, but he’s not writing this review – I am.) If the only reason you have this template is because of that slidey thingy at the top, there are ways to tweak the styles so you can fix the template without losing the slidey thing. I promise. Please do it.
For now, I am giving you these two stars:
And I am keeping these in my back pocket for later, because you really can be a four star blogger, if you do exactly what I tell you: