Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Amazing Belated Sixth Anniversary Razzamatazz!

Six years (and two weeks) ago, I first inflicted Antick Musings on the world. It was intended to be my training-wheels blog, since I was expecting to very soon begin to blog for my then-employer. Well, "very soon" turned into "many months later," and then my then-employer turned into my former employer, quite against my will. But Antick Musings still continues, though exactly what it contains has changed quite a bit -- I avoided writing directly about the SFF world (in particular, I scrupulously avoided seriously criticizing the books in the field, which may seem impossible to some of you now) while I worked in that field, much as I studiously avoid ranting about the business-book world and the headaches of my current day-job here now.

Last year, I missed the big fifth anniversary, for reasons I no longer remember precisely -- but it probably had to do with the fact that I was hip-deep in my year-long Book-A-Day project, and had no time for any other blogging. This year, I nearly missed my blogiversary, but I'm invoking the Retroactivity Clause in my blogging contract, and pretending this is the post I would have made on October 4th.

Since this is going to be a long, links-filled post, I'll begin by looking back at those older anniversary posts: first, second, third, and fourth.

Come to think of it, I think this post will have to cover the last two years, at least desultorily, just to catch up. That will mean it's even longer and filled with more links, but I've never been one to shy away from doing something exactly the way I insist it must be done.

I've begun in past years with the Reading of the Statistics, since that's the kind of guy I am. So here's the post counts for the first six years of Antick Musings:
2010-2011 -- 445 posts
2009-2010 -- 711 posts
2008-2009 -- 880 posts
2007-2008 -- 834 posts
2006-2007 -- 841 posts
2005-2006 -- 809 posts
Looking at those raw numbers, one might want to diagnose the dreaded Blogger Fatigue, and there probably is a bit of that. But I should also point out that much of that 2009-2010 period was taken up with the previously mentioned Book-A-Day project (which began 2/4/10 and ran through 2/3/11), so there may have been fewer total posts, but there were a lot of longer, more essay-like posts (one every single day for 365 days, in fact).

And the other reason for the drop in posts is that I started up a second blog, Editorial Explanations (devoted to making fun of and criticizing editorial cartoons), the moment that Book-A-Day ended. In fact, Editorial Explanations began with a post on this blog on the very day after Book-A-Day ended, even though I'd specifically said that I wasn't launching another bloggy project immediately.

(Clearly, I am not a reliable reporter of my own intentions. This may explain why I like Lawrence Block's books so much, since all of his protagonists seem to be eternally trying to figure out just what they'll do in a given situation -- I know that feeling.)

Anyway, I only posted here 445 times over that year, but I've also posted 810 times at Editorial Explanations in just a little over eight months, so imagine a Roger Maris-like asterisk in that most recent number of posts.

And, as long as I'm talking about other blogging I do, I should mention my shared items -- which come into a sidebar here as "Hornswogglets" -- which has become the outlet for most of my hey-look-at-this-thing link-blogging. (And there are dozens of those, many of which might have become full, if short, posts in past years.) Links to posts here and the shared items also flow into my Twitter account, which in turn flows into the mighty river of Facebook. (Does it seem like I'm desperately trying to prove how engaged and au courant I am, to deny the possibility that I'm souring on blogging? It's possible....)

I just mentioned Book-A-Day, which took over this blog almost entirely for a year, so let me start the intensive link-a-licious part of this post with some of the pieces from that string that I think hold up best, arranged in reverse-chronological order to be that much more blog-ical:

Before I started Book-A-Day -- but after that fourth-anniversary post two Octobers ago -- there were a few notable book-review posts that might still be entertaining now: Thy Neighbor's Wife by Gay Talese, Poison Penmanship by Jessica Mitford, This is Me, Jack Vance!, Matthew Hughes's Template, Jo Walton's Half a Crown, Josh Lieb's I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President (which I may manage to cajole Thing 2 to read in the near future), How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely, Mark Stein's How the States Got Their Shapes, Lev Grossman's The Magicians, Justine Larbalestier's Liar, and Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde.

And then there were more reviews of books after Book-A-Day ended -- almost as if I were obsessed with books, or as if I worked in the field or something! -- including very nasty reviews of the Hugo nominees Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis and Feed by Mira Grant. Other notable reviews here in the last nine months include the third volume of E.C. Segar's Popeye strips, Let's You and Him Fight!; Spy: The Funny Years; Mary Robinette Kowal's Shades of Milk and Honey; P.J. O'Rourke's Don't Vote: It Just Encourages the Bastards;  Steven Brust's Tiassa; Jasper Fforde's One of Our Thursdays Is Missing; Among Others by Jo Walton; Patrick Rothfuss's The Wise Man's Fear; Michael Chabon's The Final Solution; Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad; Dennis Lehane's Moonlight Mile; John Scalzi's Fuzzy Nation; Matthew Hughes's The Damned Busters; Juxtaposition: Two Books for Younger Readers with Words and Pictures;  and Catherynne M. Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

And I also chose my favorite books for those years -- 2009 and 2010 -- which somewhat overlaps with the links immediately above. (But not entirely, of course -- I'm also linking to books I loathed, since, like all critics, I believe that I'm endlessly entertaining when I'm full of bile.)

(And I wrote fitfully for other people as well -- I dropped out of writing for ComicMix sometime early in this period, though I still think of myself as just pausing between posts there -- as well as writing a graphic novels column for the bi-monthly magazine Realms of Fantasy. I can't link to the latter, since it's a real, ink-on-paper magazine, but I'll point you to what was one of my last, and probably best, ComicMix reviews: The Walrus Is Batman.)

I even write about books I don't finish, which is incredibly arrogant of me, I know. Abandoned Books posts that I think are worth not abandoning include Michael Shea's The Extra and Dalton Conley's Elsewhere, U.S.A.

As to the other blogging I do here, well, the most popular posts (judging from aggregate numbers of hits) are the Monday-morning Reviewing the Mail series, in which I write about whatever books arrived in the previous week's mail despite the handicap of not actually having read them.

I intermittently write about movies, as well -- less so recently than I used to, particularly during and after Book-A-Day -- but there are still some things I'm willing to remember: Absurdistan, Anvil! The Story of Anvil, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Duchess, In the Loop, Whip It, Kenny, Pirate Radio, The American, The Cannonball Run (which gets a surprising number of hits on a regular basis), A Life Less Ordinary, Tales from Earthsea; Wild Target; How Do You Know?. And then I got out of the habit of writing about those movies and had to catch up on six months with one huge post.

I also occasionally pretend to be a journalist -- or, to be more honest, like a hack columnist -- particularly when something interesting is going on in the publishing world. These will all be pretty dated a year or two later, but they're among the most time-intensive blogging work I do, so I'm damn well going to link to them! British-Style Book Price Wars Come to the US. Amazon and Macmillan. More on Amazon-Macmillan. Myths of Amazon-Macmillan. Behold! There Is a Straw-Man Argument, and It Is Good! Are E-Book Readers the New Web Browsers? Goodkind's Plethora of Three-Book Deals. Reading by ARC Light. Amazon Algebra. Comment on Promo Quantities. Publishing Brands. In Which the Sky Has Not Fallen. Of Bestsellers, and Their Lists.

In a similar vein, I brought back my very intermittent series Book Marketing 101 for a post on Getting Into the Right Shelf Category.

It was during this period that I actually codified my Social Networking Policy.

Things that I was grumpy about during these two years included -- but was not limited to! -- the post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy, gender presentation and youth sports, and how I hope I'm not really all that smart.

I'm very rarely positive about anything, and I'm sad to say it takes something like impending death to bring it out, but, it did: An Appreciation of Kage Baker.

I am semi-shamefully an Amazon affiliate, though it never adds up to much money. (Though, if I were really mercenary, I'd do some sob story now about how I'm trying to rebuild my library after the flood, and, oh-please-sir, won't you use my Amazon links to help a poor drowned library?) And, half the time, I'm more interested in making fun of the idea of selling things anyway, which is remarkably twisted even for me. That impulse hit its height at Christmas 2009 with a series of posts I called Twelve Days of Commerce, which I think are pretty damn amusing. (But, then, I would.)

I try to avoid having Big Ideas, but they can strike any of us -- even when we're drinking a lot of fluids and resting our feet as much as possible -- and I was struck with one last February: A Modest Proposal for E-Book Pricing.

I had another one this June: Characteristic Ages of Genres.

One of my very few public-service activities is gathering together all of the various unbelievable news stories each first day of April, and I did that in both 2010 and 2011.

I've done fewer and fewer "memes" as the years have gone on, but I did catch a few: The Periodic Table of Women in SF. SF Masterworks. Book Title Meme. Every Goddamn Animated Movie Ever Made. Decade Meme.

I had to finally shut down my apparatus for stalking David Itzkoff -- for several years, the utterly incompetent reviewer of SF for the venerable (but clearly either stupid or easily duped) New York Times -- when they hired a replacement, the incomparable Jeff VanderMeer.

I wrote something like an obituary for Diana Wynne Jones, who wrote a lot of great books, not enough of which I've read yet.

After seeing my SF-awards blogging ebb lower and lower over the previous years -- I missed the World Fantasy winners entirely in 2010 and also neglected to do my usual grumpy "Handicapping the Hugos" post that year -- I lept back into the Hugos with both muddy, oversized feet and produced a series of long, complaining posts about all of the award categories, Hugo Thoughts. I also (later) posted an annotated list of the Hugo Winners. I've done other fitful Award blogging over these two years as well, but, in general, my position has been that, no matter what just won whatever award, it's a giant travesty. And, finally, I posted the list of thing that I Would Have Nominated for the Hugos If I Wasn't Such a Goober.

I'm probably not the right person to do it, but I did give Advice to a Would-Be SF Writer. I also reprinted my own ten-years-old advice How to Write a Novel, again, without any reason for anyone to consider me an expert on the subject.

Speaking of old things about topics outside my area of expertise, I also shared my outdated Syllabus for a Non-Existent SF Course.

Although I would like to think I do have something worth saying about What Makes a Good Review, if I say so myself.

Don't ask me why I thought anyone would care about my Zen Koan for People in Fabric-Covered Boxes.

I expanded a quick thought far beyond any reasonable length in Anatomy of a Tweet.

I didn't aim my firehose of sarcasm at consultants quite as often as I might have, but I did attack Seth Goden at least once.

And I keep saying that I should blog more about music, but I rarely do. Practically all of those occasional posts: Slow Burn Songs. Josh Ritter Redux. In Which I Express Admiration for a Band With a Long, Odd Name. My Favorite Song As of This Exact Moment. (I also posted a series of Mountain Goats lyrics during a patch when I was feeling particularly cheery.)

When my younger son was selling popcorn for Cub Scouts (at almost exactly this time last year -- come to think of it, he's supposed to be selling popcorn right now, but, in the flood aftermath, it's not really a priority) I shamelessly tried to enlist the ravening hordes of the Internet to sell vast quantities. (To no result, of course.) I also keep thinking that I should blog more often about the things my family does -- as I did in the first couple of years of Antick Musings -- but the only recent example is Parenting: Harder Once You Actually Do It.

I kept one eye on the doings of all of the other Andrew Wheelers in this world, for we are legion and we are all devastatingly good at what we do.

About six weeks ago, the waters rose in my little New Jersey town, and, though I'd never gotten more than a little water in my house before that, this time it turned out to be a full evacuation and six feet of water in my basement. I was not happy. I'm slightly happier now -- or at least resigned, since it's now solidly in the past. But I expect I'll be thinking (and writing, and talking) about things I lost for years to come: it was a great mass of stuff, books and comics and sentimental junk and random storage and more, and it all had to be pulled, ruined, from floodwaters and thrown away.

More annoyingly to both of us, I had way too many posts about how I wasn't blogging enough, or promising to blog more, or just ruminating out loud about my bloggy impulses, but those are all better left to moulder in the archives; they're of their moment, if anything. Besides, I think that's plenty enough links now, isn't it?

So that's what I've been doing online (mostly here) for the last two years. It looks like I'll keep up this bloggy thing for some time more, and thanks for reading so far. Since the actual end of the sixth year, I've done the usual stuff -- a big review post on Dan Wells's "Mr. Monster" trilogy, a look at the B&N/DC Comics fight, and so on -- and I expect to keep doing it until someone physically stops me.

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