Tuesday, July 07, 2009

"When you can take the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave"

I didn't know how to start this review. For the first paragraph or so of my reviews, I generally like to pull out some piece of the personality or experience of the blogger I'm reviewing to relate to or make fun of. I think of how their lives relate or don't relate to mine, I tell a charming or embarrassing story from my past, I make fun of myself and them, I tell you who I am and who they are: pretty much I find some way to make it about me, too. Because I'm just that self-centered. Also it makes for good story telling. Don't tell me it doesn't because I won't believe you (Remember? Self-centered.).

I feel like over the past year or so of reviewing blogs I've started to know what I'm doing. I've been feeling rather old-hat, really: like I've seen it all now, the good blogs and the terrible blogs and the blogs that are getting by but need some work. There haven't been all that many surprises for me lately, and the reviews come quick and dirty and easily. More often than not, frankly, I feel better than the unwashed blogging masses, which sounds really puffed up and full of myself, and, guess what, I am sometimes. (Both better than the unwashed masses and full of myself, at the same time and independent of the other. I'm also over-explainy and unduly fond of parentheticals.)

But this week I struggled.

First impressions: Nice design, organized, good about page, love the tabs and the FAQs, hate the ads, but in today's economy I'm becoming more lax on that (shill!). The archives are all tidy, but I don't like how they automatically roll back up -- sometimes static wins.

Digging in: The dating chronicles are amusing, although she reveals a slight tendency toward superficiality, which is probably forgivable under the auspices of online dating. Also, she realizes she has issues, and I like people who own their foibles. She wears Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab perfume, which is my absolute fave (I wear their O). But I can't figure out why she sometimes writes "noh" instead of "no."

I want to read the entire thing from the beginning, which is a good sign, although there is a marked gap between 2004 and 2008. Anna, I'd like a bit of a re-introduction when you start blogging again in 2008 -- what happened in the meantime? Now all the sudden there's a kid and a husband.

There are posts about things and products and such, which is fine by me. I'm a material girl and I like a review once in a while. And, true to her tag line, there are pop cultural references (I've never watched a single episode of John & Kate, but I don't have to -- the internet tells me all I need to know.) and thoughts about being a mother that in no way step over the line into dreaded cutesy mommy blogger territory.

Here's where my struggle comes in: I feel like I can't really critique her. Anna has got this shit down. She posts often, she writes so very well, she's insightful and charming and she's got a blog design that works and matches her personality. I like her. A lot. If I didn't have all this pesky work to do, I'd have pulled up close and clicked through her entire oeuvre. I no doubt will at some point. She strikes a balance between revealing herself in bits and pieces and just downright entertaining us. She's a smartypants and she knows it but isn't all sneery about it, and I love that. But she's also totally neurotic and acerbic and funny and honest, which I love even more. I find myself in the unenviable position of wishing she'd review my blog instead of the other way around. I figure she can teach me a thing or two.

50 comments:

  1. Calm,

    Your reviews impress me more every time you post one.

    Again, good job. Huzzah even!

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  2. Why thank you, Chris.

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  3. You are brilliant, Cal. Excellent review. I admire your style.
    The reviewee? Meh. I'm just got getting it.

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  4. Mongo: No? Not even this?

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  5. THANK GOD FOR MG. I'd have given up in hopelessness in five minutes if you hadn't mentioned the dating horror stories. Dating horror stories are something I relish, having had several of my own.

    Okay...the dating horror stories are great. The rest is meh for me.

    Maybe I'm just not smart enough for this blog.

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  6. Also, this is one instance in which categories would be helpful. I'd like to read all her dating stories and skip the rest, I've decided.

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  7. What, you don't like her lists?

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  8. Oh wait. see, I knew I wasn't smart enough for this blog. I found the category. After 20 minutes of searching.

    This just proves I am the anti-hipster everything.

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  9. Okay, so I just started sifting through on my own, and Cal, I'm with LB: if you hadn't linked the good shit, I don't think I would have kept on reading.

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  10. Well, there's a lot there. And, ok, so she could use some navigatory improvements, but if this were a book I wouldn't be able to put it down. I'm sucked right on in and love it.

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  11. Her lists are aight. They require far too much thought on my part. I want a blogger who does all the work for me.

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  12. This blog needs work, organizationally speaking. The categories are nice, but wicked hard to navigate through, and I hate this side by side two column shit. Jesus. I want more Dirty Rotten Cat Lover and I'm very frustrated right now because I'm having to work so hard to get it.

    It's just like being a guy trying to get some pussy. FUCK.

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  13. I like it when they trick me into thinking about stuff.

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  14. I AM SO NOT GETTING ANY PUSSY AND RIGHT NOW I HAVE A TOTAL HARDON FOR MR DIRTY ROTTEN CAT LOVER.

    Fuck me. Please?

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  15. Meaning bloggers.

    Not pussy.

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  16. Yeah, pussy being a metaphor for how fucking hard it actually is to get to the good shit on this blog.

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  17. It's not hard for me, I like all of it.

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  18. Love!

    "They were the kinds of people who were always rubbing against greatness, or whose girlfriends were rubbing up against greatness. Greatness in the form of Kelly Slater, at a house party in the Keys–-who was, apparently, a “total douche”-–but who never expected it for themselves. Nay, they eschewed it for themselves. The greatness to which the Lotophagi aspired instead took the form of collecting rare Morrissey discs and rockabilly memorabilia, an enviable set of drums, a stack of inside jokes and quotable movie lines. You could say they lived life one day at a time, but only in the worst sense. But before you pity them, know that they were happy, after a fashion, because from where they were sitting–on an easy chair, in an easy apartment, in a lifetime of never-having-to-do-anything, they were happy."

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  19. My Huzzah was for the eloquence of your post not necessarily the blog itself.

    I have a very short attention span and if I don't see the phrase " Clit the size of a garlic clove" I'm out.

    Calm, I still love you and want to dry hump your soul.

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  20. I begin to despair for you people.

    My soul, however, feels all tingly.

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  21. I have this issue with reading blogs that make me think on a daily basis.

    It hurts and I'm low on energy.

    This really has nothing to do with today's review though.

    It was a fabulous and well thought out review.

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  22. Whatever, that paragraph was brilliant.

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  23. Sometimes I enjoy being the only one who likes things. More for me! In this case, though, it doesn't really translate. I feel a good proselytizing coming on.

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  24. If the author could work in the garlic clit line I would blogroll her.

    And by blogroll I mean disappoint her sexually.

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  25. Oh no... I like her blog too.

    The thinking thing was just about me. I like to talk about me and since only one blog is about me, you know, I tolerate the rest.

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  26. If I blogged about you would that help?

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  27. Nice one, Cal.

    I'm trying to pinpoint exactly why this blog initially bored me and I'm not able to. Is it the visual layout? The ads? The header? The subheading makes me feel like I'm looking at the infomercial version of a blog. It feels kind of like reading a free newspaper.

    I think because of those initial impressions, I'm not that compelled to dig, but after reading a bit I do like her and will give it a go in my reader.

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  28. All of those things could probably use some work. I dove right into the archives, so that influenced my experience. There's obviously something off-putting about the functionality that I missed.

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  29. I liked her better when I started in 2004 and worked forwards.

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  30. Wow, thanks for your review! I will definitely look into improving the navigation on the site--I did have categories for a while but it looked so cluttered. Maybe another static page with all of the categories, and then just list the titles of the posts? Will have to think.

    Re: why is there no 2005-2007, the online dating chronicles were posted in a message board I was on at the time, then I saved them and posted them on my blog under their original dates when I started it a year ago. That's why I need to fill in the blanks for those years--I wasn't blogging yet.

    Thanks for your time on this! There are some good suggestions for improvement here.

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  31. MG & LB - You both said the thing I couldn't. I didn't want to write that I felt intimidated and overwhelmed by it because it got such a rave review. She's obviously a great and talented writer. But it's too much for this simple girl.

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  32. I tried. Really, I did. I especially wanted to read about the guy writing the Godfather sequel, but the link is broken. Maybe I need to try another time when my attention span is longer than .07 seconds. I just not in the frame of mind to dig right now.

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  33. Nothing grabbed me. Nothing.
    Plus, I should also admit that I am completely and totally biased when it comes to writing about being in recovery from alcoholism or addiction. I want to read about pain so bad that it makes my skin peel, laughter so freeing that it reminds me I'm lucky to be alive, and gratitude so big that I feel like my guts are going to explode and I could go around the yard air humping and so happy that I don't even know where the fuck I am.
    That's what I want if someone is going to talk about recovery, and this blog does not seem to deliver.
    As I said, I am totally biased on this front.

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  34. What is it with the lack of attention span these days? Everyone complains about it. Focus, people!

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  35. I feel so alone in my rightness. Again. This says nothing about me, personally.

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  36. Oh, I pay attention, Cal. I just didn't like what I saw.
    Again, I'm biased.
    Apparently some topics need to be written in a way that makes me have a fuckin' nervous breakdown or something.
    Perhaps I should be chided for being a drama queen?

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  37. Drama queen!

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  38. I love your reviews and this one was well written, but I have to be honest with you, the blog reviewed is making me ill. Am I not getting it or does she judge a man by the size of his income? It seems she was on the prowl for someone who has, primarily, a successful career. I can’t tell you how nauseating that is. Do I need to keep reading or is it more of the same? Am I just being thick again?

    It is a beautiful site, though. Way better than my crappy template-layout. You got that part right.

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  39. Oh, you should keep reading. (But don't listen to me, man -- I am in the vast minority on this one.) She admits to the shallowness in this post: http://www.abdpbt.com/2008/07/19/character-flaws/ Those posts are only a very, very small fraction of her blog.

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  40. Cal - I'm sure you ARE very right about this blog. Your review is perfect and makes a good argument as to why she deserves an I Fucking Love You.

    Mongolian Girl - I agree with you wholeheartedly on that. I love to read blogs where the pain is practically tangible because it makes me feel less alone with my own pain.

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  41. I agree that she's a good writer, however the content didn't connect with me (or I didn't connect with the content). Also, I personally found navigating the site awkward, but that may just be me.

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  42. Thanks for the ego stroke, Gwen. I needed it. Kind of desperately.

    I like the pain, but I also like really well-crafted, polished, erudite, and witty writing, too. This is why my reader is full of both, plus a smattering of ridiculous fashion blogs where people take pictures of themselves every day, not to mention porn. Takes all kinds.

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  43. You have all perfectly illustrated my gold-wrapped-in-a-dirty-diaper analogy of last week, a precept that I ignored completely because I found the gold without getting my hands dirty.

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  44. I am really liking this blog. A little difficult at times but once I get to the meat I find it's fun meat.

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  45. Is "fun meat" too obvious to riff on? Someone give me some guidance here.

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  46. As if obvious ever stopped anyone before.

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  47. Hope likes fun meat.

    Tee hee

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  48. i lova anna, and have for quite some time. she's smart without being overly pretentious, she's humble, and she's honest. i also love haow she pulls off snarky without being snotty. that's not easy to do.

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  49. i lova anna, and have for quite some time. she's smart without being overly pretentious, she's humble, and she's honest. i also love haow she pulls off snarky without being snotty. that's not easy to do.

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Grow a pair.