Monday, December 07, 2009

Is That the Lotus Position or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

It is with great trepidation that I, your gentle author of Here in Franklin, dip my toe into the roiling waters of Ask and Ye Shall Receive. When Madame Bellicose beckons, I have no choice but to follow.

Around here, on the buckle of the Bible Belt, we don’t get much exposure to Buddhism. Heck, I’m Episcopalian and even that is viewed as somewhat exotic in the land of Baptists. However, before Thanksgiving, I spent a week in Japan and got a first-hand look at some sacred Buddhist shrines. I saw giant gold Buddhas, little tabletop Buddhas, Buddhas of every shape and size. I think I even drank a Buddha beer.

So when I was asked to review One Zen Mom, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own recent travels. Surely this was meant to be. Buddha=zen, right?


To begin, I remember a time when I divided the world into people who thought Monty Python was funny and those who didn’t. These days, I tend to divide the world into WordPress vs. Blogger. As a WordPress devotee, I just find almost all Blogger sites cluttered beyond belief. Unlike my office desk or kitchen counter, I like my blogs clutter- free. Give me the basics—an About Me section, a Best Of option and Archives. Please, for the love of Buddha, get rid of the buttons, badges, ads and autoplayers. Unless you’re Dooce, you’re not making enough money to keep me in my daily large Diet Coke with lime from Sonic. Plus, even with my super fast connection, it takes your site ages to load and scrolling is clunky and slow.

Second, learn the difference between a hypen (-) and an em dash (—). They are not interchangeable. If Blogger won’t give you an em dash, at least use two hyphens with NO SPACES between the words on either side. Yes, I realize that this is slightly OCD, but it really distracts from your words.

I did not read every single entry, but Zen Mom gets mad props for blogging regularly. Some fall into the mommyblog realm, some are pleasant enough recountings of weekend activities, (although I must say that “to die for” meals are hardly ever served on paper plates) and some are just really, really good.

And here’s what’s interesting, Zen Mom knows when she’s hit a home run. She has a list of entries she would save if her blog was on fire. Almost every one of them is golden. Especially this and this.

You know when you do it right, Zen Mom. Remember that when you post something like this—you have a nice voice and style, you don’t need gimmicks. Sharpen your focus. Think about your audience. Lose the hyphens.

There’s some really nice writing here that earns you:

But, for your fugly template and badge-orama, I give you:


Net result:

And thank you for shopping at AAYSR.


  1. Oh my god am I ever a moron. My apologies to HereinFranklin for taking forever to get the links up.

    Good call on this, HereinFranklin.

  2. I really like this blog and I think the third star should be added back, maybe even another star after that.

    Her style perfectly reflects her personality, which seems to be "Socially Awkward but Funny Geek Mom" for lack of a tried and true phrase. The t-shirt collection cracked me up and before I realized it 20 minutes had passed and I had devoured more than a dozen posts.

    I'll be checking back often.

  3. I liked the blog too for some light reading. The Harry Potter shirts were neat. Her photo of the introvert, I think I am going to have to steal that and paint her.

  4. HIF: Interesting review. But I think it told me more about you than it did about the blog in question.

    BTW, I use Blogger, and I don't consider my offerings cluttered. I think that you can take either Wordpress or Blogger and deliver a gem or a turd, depending on what you want to do with it.

    As for hyphens versus emdashes, really? As one who has his own brand of OCD-Language-Curmudgeon disease, I suppose I should be sympathetic, but I honestly don't give a shit about hyphens or emdashes or endashes or any of those things. I even use ellipses to indicate long pauses.

  5. Thank you Madame.
    Daddy--I like it, I just think it could be lots more. She has some really excellent posts in and among some that I didn't like as well.
    Mutha--The introvert was pretty funny.
    Pos--Your "more about me" comment is probably deserved. As for dashes vs. hyphens, just a personal quirk. We all have them.

  6. I think the review was fair in light of the history of expectations AAYSR has set out.

    I read ZenMom, and she reads my blog regularly as well, so my opinion may be coloured, but I do enjoy her stuff quite a bit. She is honest and forthright, and embraces her individuality.

    However, I will agree that the blingety bling can be distracting.

  7. As for the bling, from my standpoint, I couldn't read the end of one of her posts because the sidebar bling kept encroaching on it. Definitely a problem.

  8. I wish this review had a little more specifics on the writing, instead of just template+nitpick. But still, right on. She knows when she's good.

  9. Thanks. Better than I expected, to be honest. I was pretty much expecting a "Meh." at best, so I'll take two stars (with a potential three with a layout cleanup.

    The sidebar-clutter critique is spot on, of course. It's been getting out of control and I know it. I actually prefer a simple, uncluttered layout - in theory. I just can't seem to keep it that way. I'll have to make spring cleaning a higher priority.

    I think the hyphen/em dash might be a teensy bit nitpicky, but as a self-admitted grammar ninja, I can just suck it up and deal with that. :)

    Still, I'm very happy with a "nice voice and style" judgment.

    In this case, I CAN fix ugly. If you'd panned the writing entirely, that would have been a much harder pill to swallow.

    So, again, thanks. I appreciate the feedback and I'm glad to walk away with my skin mostly in tact. ;)

  10. The writing is what got this blogger her stars, so how is the review not about the writing? Half of the review is related to the writing.

    A bad template can make me leave a blog without reading further. Maybe that's harsh, but it's true.

  11. Zen Mom,

    I'm glad you're pleased. You have lots of fans and supporters out there cheering you on.


  12. I like ZenMom. She makes me happy.

  13. Good review, ZenMom -- congrats.

  14. Kudos to Mom for some basic cleaning of the sidebar variety.

  15. HIF, great job my friend. I agree with you in whole. On a side not, I thought we agreed that that all of your reviews were to include a backlink to me with the anchor text "belligerant merkin".

    My attempts at a Google bomb aside, you did a great job and as soon as you stop with the stars as awards and start using the "glitter boob' scale I shall resubmit.

  16. Is it a 'God Thing' that I'm all Zen about HIF?
    You, my dear, could review paint drying and I would love it.

  17. Chris, the glitter boob icon is still in development. I'll keep you posted.

    MG, Namaste to you too!

  18. Sylvia Wrath12/11/2009 5:45 PM

    Great review from a great blogger! Also, I love Zen Mom.

    I have to agree with Pos (I usually do!). I use Blogger rather than Wordpress on my personal blog and it is decidely uncluttered. Your hyphen/em dash issue is quite OCDish. But you're right. We all have those little things that drive us crazy.


Grow a pair.