Friday, July 24, 2009

The Setup, The Facts, The Good, The Not-So-Good, and the Ugly

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 Good

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:

The Not-So-Good

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.

The Ugly
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:


  1. Oh, Chris. Chris, Chris, Chris. I am at a loss for words.

    Nice review, Pos.

  2. I just recently started reading Chris' blog and I agree - he's funny. This is a really great review, very honest and respectful while offering some good criticisms.

  3. Woohoo traffic on account of my unsubstantiated theories :D

    Great review, very detailed. I don't often comment about the blogs being reviewed, but Chris's blog does kick ass. Will Ferell stopped being funny after Talledega Nights, but I hope Chris can keep it going.

    Suck it geeks!

    PS : Anchorman FTW!

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  5. Will Ferrell, even. And Talladega nights, while we're at it.

  6. I just started reading Chris recently as well and I will say that the non-chronological order of his posts drives me crazy. I think this was a very fair review. I think his header is funny, as are many of his posts, but I do hate the reversed type. Great review.

  7. In the end, I really just dig Chris.

  8. Can I just tell you how glad I was that he didn't really add a Donate button? I was going to have to change a star to a flaming finger if he did...

  9. I love his blog, glad he got a great review. :)

  10. Funny! His posts are the perfect length too. I hate it when bloggers carry on for too long (like me!)

    I changed my layout and even wrote a VERY un-mom blog post yesterday and I thought I'd let you guys know that I am capable of change!

  11. Funny? Agreed.

    Light on dark = bad? TOTALLY agreed (fellow astigmatism sufferer here).

    Loved the header and the navbar implementation.

    Oh, and I cracked the code with his erratic layout: descending order by most recent comment (in other words, whatever post gets a comment last is at the top). I think it's odd and very non-linear, and would prefer it in time-sequence.

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  13. and Anchorman is the shit!

  14. Great job Pos

    I did add the donate button for an hour yesterday.

    The dupe geek pick up lines as well as the rest of the pop culture crap is solely to illicit traffic and it works well, I am after all a blog whore. Well at least a traffic whore. Every 1000 ppl I get to my site I get 10 that stay, so for me it works.

    My posts are real, they just didn't all happen a week before the post date. Some are years old and most in Idaho.

    I worked for ATT in Idaho, now for here in Phx.

    I want to get a response out of ppl, either by what I say or do. Good or bad I just want a reaction.

    The black on white deal has to go, I agree.

  15. This review was AMAZING! Thanks Pos. You set a good example. Too bad I'm probably not capable of following it.
    I like Chris' blog, and love his sense of humor.
    I never even noticed the posts being out of order. Not surprising, I'm sure.

  16. This review kicks ass, Pos.

    As to Chris, I've hit him on occassion in the past, especially curious about him because he lives in my hometown and weirdly enough, for awhile there I thought he might be someone I know. But I had the same bullshit doubts, continuously asking myself, "Is this guy for real? and if so, do I like him?"

    I find Chris funny as hell when he comments on here, but I haven't returned regularly for the reasons you spell out in the review. I'm not writing him off though, because anyone that can pull some of the shit out of his hat that he pulls here has to be able to write some funny shit, and sometimes I just need some tranny jokes, truth be told. He's been in my reader awhile and will stay.

  17. @Chris (apparently, putting an "at" sign in front of the name is what all the cool kids are doing these days) -- thanks for the clarification... Now, you explained why you do things, but I can't tell if you agree with my assessment of them as liabilities.

    Other then the template, which you clearly agreed with.

  18. SciFi Dad -- Thanks for cracking the code. I hope you didn't burn through too many brain cells to get to it. No matter the cost, I appreciate the explanation, cause that shit was making me nuts...

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  20. Do you think you could get all the bloggers to stop using the word's "I digress." Pleeeaze it annoys the shit out of me.


  21. I love Chris's blog. But I hate the new template, and the ordering of the posts is hell for ADD people like me.

  22. Calm down, it will all be fixed by Tom. I work 15 hour days Fri-Mon and haven't been here much. I don't want my lack of replies to look as if I don't agree with the review.

  23. Nicely reviewed, and I couldn't agree more. Chris cracks me up, but his template is for shit.

  24. Oh yes, Chris. Much more betterer.

  25. Lolly is not the first woman to mention my perfect length


Grow a pair.