For the first few years, especially when I was working for the SFBC and, later, had hopes of getting back into the SFF field, I insisted that Antick Musings wasn't a book-review blog, and didn't post anything critical of any of the SFF books I read. (Of course, as we've seen, even things I think are positive are sometimes taken otherwise by some writers -- writers are of necessity thin-skinned, so I should have anticipated that.) Once it was clear that I was out, and not getting back in, Antick Musings slid in the other direction -- particularly during and after the year-long stint of Book-A-Day in 2010-2011 -- and became almost entirely a book-review blog.
None of that is what I intended or expected, but a blog -- like life -- is what actually happens day-to-day, not what anyone plans or controls. And so I don't want to say what Antick Musings will become, since I simply don't know: it becomes whatever it becomes because of what I think and write, and because of what happens to me in the meantime.
Before I go any further in my navel-gazing, let me give you the inevitable links back to prior anniversary posts: one, two, three, four, six. (Yes, I missed the only milestone anniversary this blog has had so far, which very well illustrates the way I operate: lots of thought and energy and activity, inevitably directed in an unproductive way.)
Post quantity dropped precipitously during Book-A-Day, and hasn't recovered since -- partially because I launched another blog, Editorial Explanations, immediately after Book-A-Day ended, and partially because I seem to have stopped writing lots of short posts the way I used to. I could also try to blame that drop in post count here on my increased Twitter presence -- except I post only sporadically there -- or the Hornswogglets Tumblr, except that's practically a ghost town, with just a few stray posts and lots of roaming tumbleweeds. Whatever the reasons, here are the numbers:
- 2011-2012 -- 332 posts
- 2010-2011 -- 445 posts
- 2009-2010 -- 711 posts
- 2008-2009 -- 880 posts
- 2007-2008 -- 834 posts
- 2006-2007 -- 841 posts
- 2005-2006 -- 809 posts
- "Some books need more explanation than others." -- Getting Off by Lawrence Block
- "I'm never entirely sure of my own motives, and instinctively distrust anyone who claims to completely know himself." -- The Pillars of Hercules by Paul Theroux
- "As usual with a mysterious, hidden leader, there are factions that would be quite happy to replace him with a more visible face of Muscovy -- themselves, for example." -- Dancing With Bears by Michael Swanwick
- "Words are tricky, complicated things -- even the seemingly simple ones." -- Snuff by Terry Pratchett
- "And, when a songwriter comes to write a novel, you'd expect it to be precisely written, shining an intense spotlight on a few moments, a few people, a few carefully-chosen actions." -- Bright's Passage by Josh Ritter
- "It's not a memoir, exactly -- but it's not not a memoir, either, and that deeply Blockian ambivalence to the clean, straight, obvious answer makes this a wonderful book for Block fans." -- Afterthoughts by Lawrence Block
- "It's common to make excuses for the past, to assume that people who lived and died before we did are therefore lesser, limited beings, stunted by not having been born in the obvious high point of all civilization." -- Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: Race to Death Valley by Floyd Gottfredson
- "A serious story tries not to damage the known laws of physics too seriously; a frivolous one postulates whatever it needs to in order to keep moving forward." -- The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi
- "The magic in these books has the danger and threat of old fairy tales and worse: touching it once marks a person for life." -- Circle of Enemies by Harry Connolly
- "But there's no vengeance to be found in V Is For Vengeance, and a reader may well suspect that Grafton is now just working from a list of Acceptable Mystery Title Words, and writing whatever book she feels like under that title." -- V Is For Vengeance by Sue Grafton
- "Perhaps, like my father-in-law -- and like a million other fathers-in-law across this fine nation of ours -- O'Rourke has become one of those men with whom one must never discuss politics." -- Holidays in Heck by P.J. O'Rourke
- "So Boomerang is a quite entertaining, lively little book. But it's also very much like the story of a rape investigation that spends its entire time detailing the minutia of the victim's clothing and behavior on the night of the crime -- it is entirely beside the point." -- Boomerang by Michael Lewis
- "By my own lights, I'm still reading Peter Ackroyd's gigantic mosaic history London -- I have a bookmark in it and everything -- although I haven't touched that book for several years, so my "reading" it is mostly theoretical at this point." -- London Under by Peter Ackroyd
- "You actually are at risk of learning something from an Oatmeal cartoon, which is not the case for most webcomics." -- 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth by The Oatmeal
- "At times, I had the uneasy sense that not only did I know more about Internet porn than these authors, but that I knew more about romance novels than they did." -- A Billion Wicked Thoughts by Sai Gaddam and Ogi Ogas
- "And unhappy families breed unhappy people, who again fall into types -- the sullen teenage boy, the cold and controlling mother, the quietly alcoholic father, the introverted anorexic daughter." -- Lucille by Ludovic Debeurme
- "One could say all of those things and more." -- Joe the Barbarian by Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy
- "Continuity, these days, is just the name of another dead comics company -- Marvel and DC tell you what the past is today, and they'll tell you differently tomorrow, and if you don't like it, well, where else can you get your stories of Superman and Spider-Man?" -- Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? by Alan Moore and various artists
- "They grow up, they live their individual lives -- long or short, as it happens -- they make their ways in the world and think about what they want and need and feel." -- One Soul by Ray Fawkes
- "But don't we all have to provide some value to other people, whatever it is we do for a living?" -- A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony Horwitz
- "Into every life some frivolity must come, or else we would slit our wrists at the sheer horror of it all." -- Love Among the Chickens by P.G. Wodehouse
- "But if anything could make a Clowes fictional world better, it wouldn't be a Clowes world -- and that is what Andy must learn, like all of Clowes's characters: nothing ever gets better, and the world is a passage of misery and pain, full of jerks, losers, criminals, and creeps." -- The Death-Ray by Dan Clowes
- "Mauldin was systematically dismantling all of his good will and success from the war years by doing the one thing an editorial cartoonist must: fearlessly telling the truth as he sees it, afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted." -- Willie & Joe: Back Home by Bill Mauldin
- "That theory is amusing, and would be even more amusing at about 2 AM in some convention party, anytime in the past forty years." -- Redshirts by John Scalzi (which also spawned A Helpful Note)
- "Fiction that aims at art bends events to fit its conceptions, but pulp doesn't have that luxury: pulp thrives on speed of production and speed of comprehension, so a pulp story can't be too specific or idiosyncratic; it needs to tell the story that the reader expects, and get out of the way." -- Strange Embrace/69 Barrow Street by Lawrence Block
- "But it is possible, even within the boyish, flashy confines of historical fantasy, to write about real women leading period-appropriate lives -- and, even more importantly, to have those women both be true to themselves and show their real strength to modern readers." -- Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal
- "It is thoroughly enjoyable and entirely wonderful, and should under no circumstances be left only for teenagers to read." -- Flora's Fury by Ysabeau S. Wilce
- "The greatest test of a travel book is how much it makes the reader want to share that experience, and Theroux -- no matter how much he focuses on the grime, the delays, the petty bureaucratic annoyances, the horrible schedules, the often grinding boredom, the sheer waste of time -- still makes his travels into a hopeful journey of discovery." -- Ghost Train to the Evening Star by Paul Theroux
- "The working world, and the world in general, is not a wonderful, special place full of love and light and happiness, but work -- often unpleasant and always directed by someone else -- full of people that we don't get to choose." -- Freeway by Mark Kalesniko
I used to write about movies here -- hell, I used to see movies regularly, but I've been too busy or anxious or whatever to do more than one a month for a good year now -- but the only real remnant of that this past year is a lone Movie Log post called Catching Up Once Again.
At the end of 2011, as is now traditional, I picked the best books I'd read each month that year, as a pseudo-Top Ten of the year. It's a weird format, but I like weird formats.
Speaking of particular days of the year, I also continued my tradition of rounding up the very particular news announced on the first day of April.
I blogged about music intermittently, talking up songs by The Airborne Toxic Event, Local H, Fountains of Wayne, Mieka Pauley, Cloud Cult, Sleigh Bells, and The Indelicates.
I caved into peer pressure more than once, with such memes as Less Exciting Book Titles and The Weird Questionnaire. I also -- clearly misunderstanding how memes work, and why people do them -- tried to start my own, with the too complicated and smells-like-work Five Quotes.
In the aftermath of last year's flood, I wrote something closer to a real essay than I usually manage: What We Lose, What We Save. I'm still reasonably proud of it.
Every Monday, I had a Reviewing the Mail post to examine -- and, often, to supposedly-humorously interrogate -- the books that had arrived in the prior week's mail.
If you're concerned about your personal brand, I have some words for you. Many of them are unprintable.
I blogged about the various tempests-in-teapots of publishing much less this past year -- perhaps because they all start to look the same, after a while -- but I did write about What Publishers Don't Do, Street Dates and Sales Velocity, Amazon Drops a Big Shoe, Barry Eisler Continues to Shill for Amazon, Stating the Obvious,
I review comics, though I don't do much of the chin-scratching (or hair-tearing, or forked-tonguing) kind of blogging about comics that defines the form on the Internet. This year, my major think-piece in that area was The Myth of the Comics Creator,
Have I mentioned that I hate consultants? Let me point you towards In Which a Lying Liar Lies.
As my sons have grown up, I've spent much less time blogging about the cute little things they do -- partially because tweens don't do cute little things -- but I did actually put up a picture to go along with my thoughts about My Alarmingly Large and Increasingly Grown-Up Son.
And those are the kinds of things I blogged about this past year -- plus lots and lots more posts listing books, whining about the books that were destroyed, and reviewing books I had semi-recently read. It's a rut, I admit it. And maybe admitting it will let me find a new rut to trample down for a while.
I hope you'll stick around for Year Eight.