This past year included the utterly content-free Blog Post Level Five Thousand!!!!!!!!!, celebrating the 5000th post here.
My celebratory posts for past anniversaries include the plain first, the hoopla of the second, the hullabaloo of the third, the excitement of the fourth, the missing fifth, the razzamatazz of the sixth, and the fantabulous seventh.
Antick Musings began as a training blog, but it outlived the thing it was supposed to train me for (the brief-lived SFBC Blog of 2006-7, now utterly scrubbed from the Interwebs) and the job that I had at the time. (You could argue that it's outlived that whole career, since I'm not doing anything remotely skiffy any more.) It's meandered into being mostly a book blog, and specifically a book-review blog, over that time, despite my half-hearted efforts to keep other topics alive here.
I always poke at the post counts in these annual reflections, so let's see how this past year stacks up:
- 2012-2013 -- 285 posts
- 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
There's a big, Roger Maris-level asterisk on those post counts, though, since I started up a second blog, Editorial Explanations, in February of 2011 to make fun of and complain about editorial cartoons. I consider it part of the larger Antick Musings empire, since it started as a series of posts here, and only moved off to its own blog for clarity and ease of tagging.
So here are the Editorial Explanations stats:
- 2012-2013 -- 560 posts
- 2011-2012 -- 802 posts
- early 2011 -- 760 posts
- 2012-2013 -- 285 + 560 = 845 posts
- 2011-2012 -- 332 + 802 = 1,134 posts
- 2010-2011 -- 445 + 760 = 1,205 posts
- 2009-2010 -- 711 posts
- 2008-2009 -- 880 posts
- 2007-2008 -- 834 posts
- 2006-2007 -- 841 posts
- 2005-2006 -- 809 posts
So there have been fewer posts here over the past year, which may mean fewer links below. Let's see -- I'll do my best not to link to every single one of those two-hundred-and-eight-five posts from the past year.
Most of the words posted here are about books, in one way or another, and the majority of those posts are book reviews. So here's a sampling of those reviews from the past year, linked (in a tradition started last year) as quotes from those reviews:
- "Gosh, it's almost like graphic novels are real books, and can be as different as other books are!" -- Two Graphic Novels With Nothing in Common
- "Stephenson, for example, is one of the very many SFnally-oriented men of his generation who are still struggling with the fact that they all didn't get to go to space." -- Some Remarks by Neal Stephenson
- "One is a highly lauded bestseller; the other is little-known and obscure. One of these books is smart and incisive and clear-eyed; the other is gauzy and vague and platitudinous. And I think you've probably been around the block enough to have figured out which is which." -- The Receptionist by Janet Groth and You Must Go and Win by Alina Simone
- "Campbell is an artist in full control of his impressive talents; his pages are smart and funny and interesting and the stories they make up are equally so." -- The Lovely Horrible Stuff by Eddie Campbell
- "For more than two generations now, weird, quirky kids have been peering out at the world, sure that there must be some hidden reason behind it all." -- Bushman Lives! by Daniel Pinkwater
- "McEwan clearly wants us all to know that Serena does not have a top-flight intellect -- and there may be a buried intellectual argument in her intense love of novels, particularly those by mid-century British women writers -- and so he has first-person narrator Serena tell us so, and then demonstrate it, over and over throughout this fairly short novel. Serena is not so much unreliable as reliably dim -- not dumb, in any sense of the word, but not nearly as smart as (McEwan implies) she should be, or as smart as those around her. Not nearly as smart as McEwan, or his fictional stand-in here, certainly." -- Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
- "All first-person narrators lie at least a little -- unless their authors are both fanatical and dull -- but Flan is different: she has one big lie, which colors every page of The Basic Eight, and she won't admit to it until the end." -- The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler
- "Diaries are a tricky form: they can easily descend into banality (of the "I had toast for breakfast" style), but that very prosaic every-day-ness is what makes the best diaries really work. American Elf, more than ten years on, is a casual, immediate account of moments in Kochalka's life -- one cartoon, usually in four square panels, now always in color, on one or two events that happened in the last day or so." -- American Elf, Book Four by James Kochalka
- "Oh, Peanuts always had a lot of sadness to it -- more than anything else on the comics page -- but in the '70s, it changed fundamentally from being primarily a strip about a boy tormented by his failures to being mostly a strip about a dog's flights of fancy." -- The Complete Peanuts, 1983 to 1984 by Charles M. Schulz
- "Terry Pratchett has been many things over his long career, but he's never before been Charles Dickens." -- Dodger by, yes, Terry Pratchett
- "Everyone dies. Every single person: the good and the bad, the ones you can't live without and the ones you can't believe are still around." -- The Song of Roland by Michel Rabagliati
- "If you detest numbers and prediction, because the lord of the universe explained everything in this book you have right there, then you need to go sit in the corner while the grownups talk." -- The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver
- "Valente's vision of Fairy is focused on women -- quietly, in a way that girls might not notice but some boys and older readers will, used to fairy worlds populated primarily by male creatures -- and on the lives and choices of women." -- The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente
- "This is silly, of course, but if we can't be silly in our own heads, life isn't worth living." -- The Murder of the Century by Paul Collins
- "These are some of the deepest, best stories the human race has, and O'Connor is doing a magnificent job of bringing them to new life." -- Poseidon: Earth Shaker by George O'Connor
- "Teenagers are trying to invent themselves, more than anything else: to become who they want to be, just as soon as they can figure out what that is." -- Peanut by Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe
- "I do wonder if autobiography is a deep enough row for any creative person to stick to for a whole career, but Wertz is still young; she has plenty of time to find other things to cartoon about, or to start doing exciting things just to cartoon about them afterward." -- The Infinite Wait by Julia Wertz
- "Back in my SFBC days, we had a cluster of books that sold well for years and that we periodically threatened to put together to promote -- the fabled "Blasphemy Flyer," which we never actually did." -- What in God's Name by Simon Rich
- "It's a big-hearted, savory, mouth-watering feast of a book, ready to be gulped down." -- Relish by Lucy Knisley
- "Only one cover in a thousand ever quite looks like anyone involved really wanted it to look, anyway -- most of the time, it just hints at what it could have been." -- Impulse by Steven Gould
- "So if you thought you wanted to read How to Live -- a smart time-travel book, SF with some literary heft and a good story, too -- but then got suckered into staring into Charles Yu's navel for over two hundred pages, then I want you to know that The Beautiful Land is the book you really want to read." -- The Beautiful Land by Alan Averill
- "Getting old means, more than anything else, that things are ending. Everyone knows this: that there's a last time for everything, and each last time marks another step toward death. Even something as small as realizing that forty is too old to go on a Tilt-A-Whirl any more is one small step, one indication that a once-assumed capacity and ability is now gone forever." -- The Last Train to Zona Verde by Paul Theroux
- "And it shows what a serious writer with an eye for humor and character and the often bloody vicissitudes of life can do when she finds herself in the crime fiction arena, and what a crime plot can do to enliven and up the stakes for a novel of character and connection." -- One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson
- "[T]he cover of Necessary Evil has the flop-sweat look of a cover desperately trying to drag in an audience that has failed to be engaged so far: vague quote from a big name, pretty blond young hero with guns blazing, what seems to be several massive simultaneous explosions, and no hint that it's the third book of a trilogy." -- Necessary Evil by Ian Tregillis
- "It's an amusing book to read, particularly for those of us who have no hopes of ever changing the world -- we might never reach these heights, but at least we'll never lose everything and become the world's laughing-stock. (Or maybe we will: we're not dead yet, and the future holds unknown dangers.)" -- Banvard's Folly by Paul Collins
- "Fritz is just one side of Crumb's desires, the semi-controlled id, always wanting to run off and do something more interesting than whatever's already in front of him." -- The Life and Death of Fritz the Cat by R. Crumb
- "It's a sad and tawdry symbol of the Original Sin of Comics, set to remind us that the house always wins and the little guy always gets screwed." -- Secret Identity by Craig Yoe
- "Perhaps it's the Orthodox utopia, since all we ever see the men doing is study." -- Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite by Barry Deutsch
- "Kreider is pretty much the archetype of the liberal cartoonist, with a massive need to overexplain everything, so nearly every cartoon here comes with a full-page essay (some essays are substantially longer than that) about how much Kreider really, really hated George Bush." -- Twilight of the Assholes by Tim Kreider
- "Throughout all of the stories, Sacco always is drawn to the poorest, the lowest, the most downtrodden and endangered -- the refugees, the tortured, the hapless bystanders caught in the crossfire." -- Journalism by Joe Sacco
- "But, if you've spent any substantial time over the last three decades playing games -- and, if you're around my age, it would be hard not to -- You will be a thoughtful, engrossing look at why we've spent so much time poking buttons and typing "search all" and manipulating controllers and squinting at various screens deep into the night." -- You by Austin Grossman
I also did a lot of capsule reviews of things I read this year, in my monthly Books Read posts. And the thing people seem to read most consistently here are my Monday-morning Reviewing the Mail posts, in which I more-or-less seriously look at the new books that arrive in my mail the prior week, in hopes that some readers will discover something new they will love. (And I will inflict one quote from a Reviewing the Mail post on you here, because it still amuses me: "I like this book's title because my house has a wrath-bearing tree, or at least we thought it did when we moved in. We gave it fruit spikes every summer, and it produced small hard lumps, dropped all its leaves in August, and keened a song of terror and loathing in the quiet mornings. Sadly, it turned out to be a quince tree, so we've given up trying for wrath-fruit.")
One of my other major sources of blogging are the stacks of books I buy myself, which are cataloged in the various Incoming Books posts. If you like mildly annotated lists of books, that's for you.
Every year, I pick my favorite books of the year -- very idiosyncratically, one book from each month for a full list of twelve -- and I did that again in 2012. That post is also a more compressed look at nearly everything I read in 2012 worth recommending or mentioning.
At least once a year, I check in on what the other Andrew Wheelers of the world are doing -- because mine is a common name, and because there must be some neo-Platonian affinity between two things with the same aspect, right?
I used to write about movies here, but I haven't had a single post in that area over the past year. So ignore that link I just threw you, OK?
Every year, there's a day devoted to bizarre and surprising news stories that strain the bonds of credulity. And, every year, I try to gather links to as many of those stories as I can. That day, of course, is the first day of the fourth month.
People die, all of the time. I don't make a habit of writing obituaries here, but, once in a while, I find that I have. This year, we lost Roger Ebert.
I'm much happier when I can celebrate people who are still alive, as with Grand Master Gene Wolfe.
I make no claim to have any more Big Thoughts than anyone else, but I do have a few, now and then. Ones possibly worth saving from this year include Magical Thinking and the Modern World, Today's Political Thought, The Rare Obligatory Political Post, and In Which I Pretend I Know What I'm Talking About.
We all get angry, and we all rant, in our own heads, to our spouses, or just the nearest wall. But now, with the Glorious Internet, we can rant to the whole world! (Not that the world is listening.) This year, I ranted about Robert Benmosche.
Can you call it media criticism when I just pick on minor points and make fun of things? (If so, I've got a whole blog devoted to media criticism!) This past year, I discovered An Excellent Example of the Misleading Statistic, and denigrated Generational Trolling in Our Time.
I also dabbled in tech criticism -- or, at least, complaining about software, which is practically the same thing, right? -- In Which I Demand More Windows.
I work in book publishing (or, at least, I'm from there, and parts of my job still visit that neighborhood regularly), so the doings of that particular sausage-factory are of great interest to me. For example, I pondered What Is the Deal With Leadershift?; examined The Great Amazon Squeeze, Once Again; wondered exactly why James Patterson Is Unhappy; explained What BookScan Measures, and What It Doesn't; pondered exactly how one goes about Carving Out a New Nook in the Market; dismissed the entire idea of Borrowing E-Books; and tried to give a heuristic for Amazon Sales.
I engage with the larger world only occasionally, and Say No to Dope probably illustrates why that occasionality is a good strategy, given my level of knowledge and engagement.
This year, I finally developed and posted a Submission Policy. It will be of interest to very few people, but it will help to explain why you didn't hear back from me if you wrote asking me to review your new e-published book.
I used to be more closely connected to the SF world -- it annoys and depresses me that I don't have a job there anymore, so I find myself avoiding it, even if I don't mean to -- but, these days, my fanac is just a few posts like this one on the 2013 Hugo Winners.
I occasionally link to music I like, because (like everyone else) I think my tastes should be universal, because anything I like must be objectively good. Some artists I've burbled about this year include Elizabeth Cook, Fountains of Wayne, Over the Rhine, Say Hi (To Your Mom), Stephie Coplan, and Tom Waits (as interpreted by Mr. C. Monster).
I've posted a few videos, and links to videos, over the last few years, as the web has gotten zippier and less focused on the written word. I'll just link to one here, since none of them are my content, anyway, because this one is A Possible Explanation for Why I'm Like This.
Speaking of that explanation, I've come to believe that my most central fandom is MST3K -- yes, a fifteen-years-dead puppet show that existed purely to make fun of other people's hard work -- and so I took the MST3K 30-Day Challenge all in one go.
Speaking of memes, I do many fewer than I used to, but I still have a weakness for vast lists of questions like Book Blogger Poll.
And, this year, I discovered Possibly the Worst Infographic Designed by the Hand of Man.
In the continuing saga of The Entity, I noted that Najafi Sells Bookspan to Pride Tree. I still don't know what that means or meant to the people still there.
On a vaguely related topic, I also tried to track Stuff My Employer Has Sold, and What Happened To It. I am not drawing any parallels between the two situations...yet.
Outside of blogging, my hobbies include Traveling by Map,
But, in the end, all I really know are the Things Tom Waits Has Taught Me.
Year Nine has just begun; at this point, I expect Antick Musings will keep chugging along, slowing down sometimes on the curves and then picking up speed again as I get annoyed by the slowdowns. Check back on this space to see if I'm right.