That mockingbird don’t sing, or: Blaming the cat for the lack of subtitle

This post is a race. Can I write a Summing Up post in the time it takes me to cook dinner. I was going to have a To Kill a Mockingbird post up tonight but then we watched two “Schitt’s Creek” instead of one (finishing the third season, which has that wonderfully nice season finale; I wonder when the show realized it had potential for so much heart).

But this post is not a “Schitt’s Creek” post. At my current rate of sitcom blogging, I’ll get to “SC” sometime in 2038. I’m still trying to figure out the difference between my new blogging and my old. I wonder if any MFA programs have classes in how to develop a good blogging practice. Is it a serious thing yet? It definitely wasn’t when I was in grad school. I could find this information out instead of musing uninformed about it but… I’m fairly committed to no researched blog posts in 2020. As I type those words, however, I wonder if I’ll change my mind by March.

For example, there’s always a chance some iPhone app will inspire me to a cat-related blog. I had an idea for one a while ago and a friend had to talk me out of it; I wasn’t particularly inspired though. If some talking pet app comes along and works well and easy… YouTube here I come. Though… as I write those words, it sounds like way too much work.

I could not write this post in the time it took to make dinner. I could only write 245 words. Not even thirty percent.

The idea of Summing Up posts like this one is buckets to fill. Don’t know what’s going in, just how much is going in. Or something. Writing without a subject to the word count, trying to ride out thoughts, veering to the best tangents. One of the things I finally learned through blogging—without exactly realizing it—was how to identify how writing would make me feel. If I write a funny review about something terrible, it’s more enjoyable than writing a meaner-spirited review about something terrible. The experience of writing about the thing is separate from the experiencing of thing itself. But it’s not experiencing like researching. It’s 2020. People started doing frame-by-frame analysis of films about a decade ago. Wait, more than a decade ago. And it hasn’t really affected how film is discussed. Social media has changed how film is discussed, but not the frame-by-frame folks. Sorry frame-by-frame folks. I always thought a by-scene examination would be good; my old Stop Button supercuts or whatever were about a third of what they should’ve been. But there was no way I was hosting a video and producing a good video seems like it’d take a lot of time. I remember it taking a lot of time. The computers are faster but… no. It’s too much. Just watch, once they make VR really work for the masses, a bunch of people will just do virtual hobbies instead of real ones. Or not. Commodified VR will be a shitshow because people are a shitshow. It’s going to be terrible.

Are there classes on white space? Not white spaces but….

White.

Space.

Late 1990s, early 2000s white space was the thing. I used to use it in my history papers to show off. Once I learned how to be good at school I was obnoxious about it. I was really obnoxious. But in a different than expected way, I’d like to think. At least there’d be some ingenuity and spontaneity to my obnoxious.

I didn’t time how long it took me to cook dinner, so I don’t have any idea how long it took me to write the first 243 words or whatever. (It’s 243, I really got into word count in grad school; way too into it). But I also didn’t time when I started writing after the… it’s 245. I scrolled up.

Huh. Maybe I’m not so obsessed with it.

Anyway, I didn’t time when I started after 245 so I don’t know how long it’s taken me to get here. I don’t know what I’d do with the information. Do I write faster sitting and typing on a full-size keyboard than I do standing in the kitchen typing on a tablet-size keyboard. Does it matter where in the writing I am… how does speed of writing increase and decrease. Why do I care how fast or slow I write (not type) but retch words onto the keys, screen, code, server, Internet. I don’t have any major writing projects planned where I might need to know how long it takes me to write.

And add cat pictures. Can’t forget to add the cat pictures. Though there’s no advertising code on the site so it’s not like I’ll get those quarter pennies. I’d probably have to take better cat pictures too and it’s a pain. None of the cats like having their picture taken. Gregory actually smacked the phone away from me while I was getting the one for this post. And now he’s whining at me. Correlation without causation: Gregory whines and I finish the blog post.

Gregory 9 January 2020 2

Nugget, or: Dream of the Sugar Fiend

Every swallow has weight. I’m not sure if it’s the sugar, the alcohol, or what seems to be a coming nausea, but every swallow weighs. The bubbles in the champagne should help though.

I just ate about a fifth or sixth of a Bavarian creme butter braid, a “Fun Size” Snickers, and a 60% Cacao Dark Chocolate Ghirardelli. I didn’t plan on writing about it, so with the Ghirardelli, which holds no significance to me—I have a long history with Snickers bars, fun-sized and not, and the butter braid is my first—but Ghirardelli chocolate squares are just chocolate squares. I preferred the ones with the “save the apes” trading cards inside; all chocolate squares are about the same now.

The butter braid tastes like a more solid cotton candy. I didn’t even register the bread part, even though we haven’t had anything but sprouted grain in a year. I could smell the yeast, which smelled pretty great, but I didn’t taste any of it. Just sugar. Wonderful, wonderful sugar. Like what an everlasting gobstopper needs to taste like; something you’d never want to stop eating.

And then I realized I can’t process the flavor (or lack thereof) over the sweetness of it. So, still, what an everlasting gobstopper ought to be.

And then the champagne.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been up this late, this drunk. It’s 12:41. Writing this post got delayed—wife discovered the hilarious and frankly adorable YouTube reaction videos to the Righteous Brothers; mostly people realizing they were white and then so good. My whole “availability and access is good for the youths (and basically unimaginable to people who couldn’t just watch the Righteous Brothers doing a live performance at will)” point proven. Very cool. May even listen to some Righteous Brothers.

And there’s also this new game I found—“Pocket City,” which seems to be “SimCity” rules with “SimCity 2000” graphics. It’s bringing back the six space rectangle system we had for the original. In youth, which never seemed like youth. So weird. But I beat “Grindstone,” so I needed a new game and the App Store recommended “Pocket City” because I’m predictable. Even to Apple’s hampered algorithms.

I used to use “hampered” a lot more. Probably in undergrad, I’d use it once in every class, then maybe on the final. I approached history writing like performance. I miss that energy. Having a single reader and being able to directly related to that reader, it is performance; in many ways with more potential than a workshop. You’re analyzed in the workshop, not performing. I like the performance thing. It’s what sucks about not having the (previously) very specific Stop Button reader.

I really need to standardize media formatting. I think I’m doing “” for websites of any kind, but I just did video games with them and….

So, yeah, the champagne. It’s not champagne. It’s La Marca Prosecco. It’s pretty good; I can’t remember the writing the last hundred words or so. We’re almost to one o’clock. I didn’t start this post with a word count target because, well, La Marcia Prosecco and whatever sugar rush was still rushing my heart, but specifically because it’s longer than I wanted to write, leading to this… bisected post.

Albeit without any white space.

I’m getting interested in reading again. I haven’t been for a while. And trying to force myself to get interested didn’t do any good. It’s like weather. Sometimes it seems just as much like your expecting it willed it away as… whatever the reverse of that absurd philosophy would be. It was just supposed to do sound good.

La Marca Prosecco.

Wine.com says, “After pouring the first round, seal the opened bottle with a bottle stopper to keep remaining wine fresh and effervescent and keep the wine chilled to 46-50°F.” We did not do those things. Those things is a bit of a stretch. We did not do either of those things. Is my La Marca Prosecco spoiling?

Performance.

Fifty-some words. It’s 12:59. You can give up. No one’s New Years Resolution should be finishing bad blog posts. Especially not mine. Just join the Patreon. I got a Linode invoice while writing this post; it’s kind of less than I thought but also not free. And also not $1.50 a month like how WordPress.com works out. But don’t join the Patreon if you like the posts.

It’s been sixty-two minutes since the sugar and I haven’t thrown up yet.

Success.

”Think about the future”

You may have noticed some changes at the Stop Button in the last few days. A totally different theme, TV posts, no header images, inconsistently getting the new site versus the old. It’s not just you, it’s everyone. Well, somewhere out there is an ISP with updated DNS not doing the inconsistency, where it looks like the old site because it is the old site, hosted on WordPress with a .net domain, which will be the case for the foreseeable future. The Stop Button gets hits through WordPress. None of the other blogs do. Except Summing Up… I think. More on that one in a bit.

The reason for all the changes is a good old fashioned—old time blogging—hosting switch. For the first time in almost a decade, The Stop Button is going back to self-hosted. Well, not self-hosted as much as Linode-hosted but you get the idea. 2016-2017 was supposed to be about getting into long-form colloquial blogging (i.e. Medium-esque “essays”) and I did all right for a while but then the inauguration killed my soul and my writing. But even zombified, there were writing lessons learned from it (basically just getting better at infusing writing banter with content) and 2018 and 2019 became the years where I really tried hard to write longer form stuff on Stop Button. And they got some hits. The John Carpenter retrospects and the Eleanor Parker retrospects both did great. They don’t anymore, which sucks since I put months into both, but lesson learned. Worse, the subsequent longer form posts—the Godzilla one I hated, the Luise Rainer retrospect, which was great writing practice but not much fun, an ill-advised “King Kong and me” post, the Josh Hartnett O piece I’m most proud of but no one reads because I’m right about it and you’re wrong and you just can’t acknowledge it, and the also ill-advised but for different reasons Star Trek II soundtrack post—got very few readers. Very few. I don’t talk about the actual numbers of Stop Button posts because one shouldn’t brag or self-shame about blog readership… but very little readership on those posts, which took a lot of time and more served to validate my opinions on blogging versus writing and why the latter shouldn’t be rigorously applied to the former.

2019 was also supposed to be the year where the long-running and actually listened to Comics Fondle Podcast transformed into the Visual Reflux Podcast. To date, we’ve had one episode. And I had even started doing comics posts on the Visual Reflux site, which was going to be an all-in-one with comics, TV, streaming, and (after I came up with the project) Maltin-sized movie capsule posts. Only I never got around to doing the TV stuff I had planned; I wanted to start with “Fawlty Towers” but writing about sitcoms isn’t easy. I had wanted to do a deep dive into “Penny Dreadful” but the time commitment was always too much. It wasn’t until this fall I got Visual Reflux going with actual TV and streaming posts and it’s worked out. It’s helped my blogging; what I learned from blogging about ”Love and Rockets” on Comics Fondle last year, which was a huge project also without any significant readership but still worth it for my brain, has helped with VR. And I’ve been steady with my ”Punisher MAX” read-through, though I’m behind; again, not lighting the world on fire, but the target audience is literally two people. Anyone else is gravy.

But with Visual Reflux working out, I got thinking about a newsletter again—something to consolidate all my blogging content—only the idea of doing a newsletter… eh. No. I’d rather not. The last one didn’t go well and I did at least a month of work on it. Some of the newsletter thing has always been about getting a Patreon going up, which also has never been successful. And it makes sense… I don’t give to White male cishet media bloggers either. If there is a network of White male cishet media bloggers who support each other on Patreon, it’s probably a bunch of fucking ‘Murican Nazis so no anyway.

(Patreon will be live on this new site before the end of the year, obviously).

I had wanted to do Visual Reflux self-hosted because old time blogging, but it was such a pain in the ass. I couldn’t get Linode to work, because despite dropping some bucks on blogging, I’m not really interested in getting SSL to work or Apache or whatever else. VR went from EasyWP, which is great just somehow not geeky enough to scratch the self-hosting itch but also not straightforward enough to just be WordPress.com, to WordPress.com over the summer. Headaches, even mild ones, gone.

But since I last tried setting up Linode—only eight months ago—things have gotten easier. Their one-click WordPress install… works. There’s some additional setup without the best documentation but it’s adequate documentation. It’s possible. So you’re now reading this on a Linode-hosted WordPress install, unless you’re reading it on summing-up.com, which hasn’t made the move yet. It’s next. Then Comics Fondle. Comics Fondle is going to be a lot of work. A lot of work.

Except once the work’s done, it’s done. All of the blogging will be in one place, like old time blogging. And it’ll be on the blog with the most consistent readership.

There have been some hiccups, which I could blog about at length but won’t here and probably won’t at all because they’re very specific to my posts. Just… don’t do a related posts plugin. It’s a bad idea. Also, if you’re doing bulk changes with BBEdit and Applescript, make sure you save your files in both. Also make sure you remember to apply the rename all in Script Editor instead of just changing the number of the xml file. Anyway, it’s a whole lot. Not even getting into SSL….

There are still some big little things to figure out, like whether or not Summing Up posts get header images; Comics Fondle will not, just the cover images. There are also two other writers on Comics Fondle, who I haven’t talked about the hosting move with because… there’s no way not to be long-winded about it and also getting into the failures of the last few years to grow the sites on their own.

Matt (Hurwitz), one of the aforementioned Comics Fondle writers and former Alan Smithee cohost, has this great observation about people using Batman when they’re doing something new because Batman is always good for some hits—when I started doing serials on Stop Button I did the first Batman serial—but, outside the top of this post, I’ve got no Batman at launch here. Nothing in the queue either. Because I’m sick of Batman. I’ve been trying to gin up interest in the brand since the late nineties and I just can’t anymore.

So instead… how about some fake watercolor cat pictures.