Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tangerine Dream

First impressions of Cuileann:

  • I’m lost.

  • I don’t know who these people are.

  • How long has she been at this? Holy crap. That long? That’s longer than me.

  • What does the "about page" say? Hmmm. Did that help? A little. Not a lot.

  • I roll back to the very beginning. Try to find the beginning of the thread. The beginning begins in high school. Lots of high school girl interest paragraphs that meander too freely from subject to subject. They lose me.

    When does the substance begin? Where should I get on?

    Second impressions:

    I go back to the present day. Some posts are not for me, but they are so short I can scan past them without too much guilt. Lots of free form. Very little context.

    I gather that recently there was a rather long trip to Australia to visit people she refers to at times, but I don’t know these people. And their stories flow past me like conversations in passing rail cars. She gives me pictures, but the captions are sparse, and I’m not 100% sure who is who.

    Lots of photography. Some very good. Some, not so very good.

    Third impressions:

    I could read a long, long time if I had a long, long time. Which I don't.

    Maybe if I did, a context would appear. But not being able to read a long, long time, I feel like I can start anywhere. Each post is short and extremely economical with its choice of words. Many read like poetry that doesn’t feel like poetry.

    This is not necessarily a bad thing.

    Overall, this is like a book you can crack open to almost any page and find something short and worthwhile. I hate to use the phrase, but I think of writing like this as bathroom reading. Not a reflection on the quality of the writing, but perhaps on the duration of the posts. Do with that what you will.

    What would I do to improve this? I might provide some context within some posts. I might include more about myself in each post, rather than provide a dreamlike impression of the world around me. (Then again, the more I read, the more complete the picture of Cuileann becomes.) I might choose to have fewer labels in my sidebar, as that many is too many for my little brain to process. I might bring the archive further up to make it easier to find a nice middle place to start from, as starting from the most recent is ... difficult.

    It is interesting to watch the evolution from 2003 to the present, via spot checking posts along the way. The subject matter becomes less teenangstery and more “in the now.” A person matures before your eyes.

    Some of you will probably fucking love this. Some will dismiss it as self-indulgent naval gazing. But I am the reviewer and I get to award the stars. Are YOU going to like it? I have no idea. (Part of me has a hard time caring what you think.) But there’s definitely something appealing there to me. In the right dosage.

    I kind of like it and I’m having a hard time verbalizing why.

    Three stars.


    1. Honestly, I don't think I'd be inclined to visit a second time. The fact that you went three times impresses me.

      It's not that there's anything horribly wrong (although I felt like I was hunting for the archives in her sidebar... they could stand to be elevated above her copious labels), just not my thing.

    2. I think I'm just a curmudgeon but this feels a little too whimsical for me. I'm not a fan of poetry and many of her posts are written that way.

      But I think you nailed it in the review with feeling lost. Her site makes me dizzy, and not in a good way. A confused way.

    3. Interesting.

      I am 90% sure that dads such as we are not in her target demographic, so I was trying to let go of the fact that I am twice her age and male.

      She has a way with words, and when she has something to say, she expresses it well.

      Perhaps she just needs more to say.

    4. Honestly, I don't like this blog. I only read the posts you linked so maybe there is more to it that earned it the three stars. I certainly respect the review and the reviewer even though those stars baffle me. She definitely can write and some of her words are strung together beautifully. I just don't understand the point of some of these posts. Sometimes when people write too poetically I feel like they're hiding behind their words and not really willing to take any personal risks. It disappoints me.

    5. Maybe I am feeling generous? Maybe I lost my edge?

      I was looking at it from the standpoint of "What is the blog trying to accomplish, and is it doing so?" I think it was.

      That said, I knew that there would be those who disagree. So be it.

      If you want to take stars away, go ahead. I just know that skipping over the posts that weren't for me, I didn't feel like I was wasting my time.

    6. Pos - Your review is perfect because it's what you honestly think and feel about the blog. Like you said, you're the reviewer and they are your stars to give. I didn't spend as much time reading the blog as you did. Maybe this is one of those blogs that takes time to grow on you.

    7. What a great review. Honestly. I've known my two best women friends for over 20 years, but still sometimes feel as if we've just met. It is simultaneously fascinating and frustrating.

    8. Punjabi Bobby12/17/2009 2:47 PM

      This comment does not related to this post only but all posts.

      Not that there's anything wrong with what is being done here, but could you please remove the following phrases from your FAQ:

      "It is our goal to give bloggers solid, constructive feedback on their blogs."

      "We want to help you help yourself. We want to make you better, not bitter."

      After reading through reviews, it seems the only people that are capable of adhering to this are the guest reviewers, and only somewhat.

      Unless the real reviewers like you, and even then those parts of the FAQ are applied in a spotty at best manner.

      I'm just saying.

      Many thanks.

      -Punjabi Bobby

    9. Pjb - what about my review did you not care for?

    10. I really like her. Like you, I'm not sure why.

    11. Posol'stvo the Medved wrote: "She has a way with words,"

      She has a way with fucking labels. That's probably the longest category list on record. Oh, why didn't she blog in 2005 and 2006? Is it something juicy?

    12. I like it. Probably because it's similar to my own style.
      Guarded, descriptive, proetic and high school-y.

      But I agree about the pictures. I don't really know what is interesting about them (to us or to her) except the arty ones.

    13. I think it's a fucking great review. You have taken your job seriously. You considered it, read and read and mulled it over.

      And then for me you summed it up beautifully in one line:

      "And their stories flow past me like conversations in passing rail cars."

      That's how the whole blog seemed to me (someone who did NOT have to invest the time to getting under the skin). Sometimes it's fun to listen to the passing conversations. Sometimes I tune them out. 3 stars? Not sure. But screw the badge at the end, it's the words in your review that do the job. A good job.

    14. This blog is great! I realy like it. I like the philosophical edge. I agree though, context is sometimes lacking.. a little more of that would make this great blog even better. :) I'm following now, thanks :)

    15. Thank you for taking the time to put this review together! It is so good to have some constructive criticism to work off of and to know how I come across to people who don't know me. Much appreciation.

    16. P.S. The "not so very good" picture? I did note in my post title that it was taken by a small child!

    17. "I did note in my post title that it was taken by a small child!"

      Indeed, you did. But you opted to post it. My comment was less about your abilities as a photographer, or about a child's abilities as a photographer, but was more about the choice of content.

      My kids regularly borrow my camera and take some spectacularly out of focus pictures of obscura. I don't consider them compelling blog fodder.


    Grow a pair.