I had a few ideas for posts this month, but none of them really panned out, and so not much has changed from my last post, aside from the fact that I’m obviously not doing any March Madness posts. I promise that in April I’ll have something that isn’t just an “update” post or a post I’d have done anyway. Possibly as soon as this week, even.
I have a number of posts I’ve been thinking of working on, but due to various distractions (it’s been what, over seven months since I got a new phone? and the games I installed as a result are still derailing my productivity) and other factors haven’t actually been working on this month:
- I may be working on a post on the Oscars (that I really should have written earlier this week) that would allow me to start up on my series on how to fix the American political system again. Regardless of whether I write that post, I really should be working on that series again soon. And yes, there is a connection between the Oscars and the American political system.
- I have one or two post ideas in connection with March Madness that may come out over the next month, though one of them would require intense use of Da Blog Poll and, based on past experience, would be kinda useless if I don’t have a sizable audience coming in to vote on it. The other I kinda regret not writing last year and may not be relevant this year.
- There were several points in December and January that I came very close to starting up Steven Universe again, especially with another batch of episodes coming out in that time to end the fifth season (and based on what limited spoilers I’ve been exposed to, the overarching plot of the whole series), but at this point I’m not likely to take it up again until June, assuming I can sign up for another Hulu free trial after one year has elapsed since the first one.
I also may look into other platforms to write for sometime in the next few months.
I headed into writing this post thinking that this was the most productive year for Da Blog in the last few years, even if it was hardly the improvement I would have hoped for a year ago. I spent a significant amount of time on a project other than the Flex Scheduling Watch that produced several posts, changed hosting providers, and changed the design of Da Blog for the first time in a decade or more. So I was surprised to find that this is only the 37th post since the last blog-day post, only one more than last year.
To be sure, of the three things I accomplished this year only one actually produced a substantial number of posts, and that thing ended up falling far short of my expectations. That had the effect of only keeping pace with the handful of posts on the state of our politics I was able to get in between the blog-day post two years ago and the inauguration. Were it not for my Steven Universe posts I might well have broken what I thought at the time was an unbreakable record low.
The Steven Universe project did give me a chance to learn some things about myself and my productivity. It made me realize just how much brainpower I needed to bear on any truly in-depth, thoughtful posts, and how little I tended to have, to the point of needing to load up on protein bars before working on them. But despite having done everything I needed to to put up my Season 2 wrap-up post by mid-to-late August, I haven’t done any more work on it since that post at the end of August, spending most of my time not spent on the Flex Schedule Watch on all the more frivolous projects, and despite intending to get back to it this month, with SU resuming new episodes (including what at least nominally would be the start of a sixth season given previously known information) starting tonight as I write this, I never did, instead spending all my time before flying up to Seattle on something highly tangential to a project I’ve been thinking about since the election but that looks to be unlikely to start serious work on in the coming year, something tangential enough that it’s highly unlikely it’ll ever come up in that project.
Another reason I let SU go by the wayside this month, besides December increasingly becoming one of the more stressful months for the Flex Schedule Watch as I try to play out the Week 17 scenarios (my new method of preparing the Week 14 post involves figuring out every single scenario that would lead to a given game, same as the following week, and I think I still missed several scenarios that might have affected the percentage chances, including the one that actually played out, while appealing to my commenters’ out-there “two NBC games” theory delayed the Week 15 post until it not only forced the postponement of this one but came after Saturday’s games), was finding out that Season 5 episodes wouldn’t leave my cable provider’s On Demand service until March, relieving the pressure of having to finish them before Season 6 started. Still, with the Flex Schedule Watch done for the season, I fully intend to get back to SU in the new year, though getting back in the right mindset for it could be a bit of a challenge since it’s been so long since I watched any episodes. And I hope to finally get back to work on my series on reforming the Constitution in time for any debates surrounding the Mueller report and impeachment.
Despite the challenges, I have every reason to think Year Twelve of Da Blog succeeded in establishing a foundation that will allow Year Thirteen to be the lucky year that puts me back on a path to productivity and making a place in the world. Will Year Twelve be the last of the past few years of “lost” years? Time will tell, but despite the optimism I’ve expressed in the last few blog-day posts, I really do feel like this has a good chance to be the year that turns things around… though it’s worth noting I may have also lowered my expectations for what that means, fully preparing for the possibility of taking a few months “off” between projects to rest my brain. Here’s hoping that doesn’t completely derail my progress. Fingers crossed? (Wow, I did not intend to end this post on this dark a note…)
When I started my Steven Universe project back in June, I intended to have the first four seasons of the series finished within that month, allowing me to finish it within the span of Hulu’s free trial without having to actually pay for it; I even laid out a schedule of what episodes I’d watch each day. The hope was that devoting that much energy towards a project like that could help me refocus my energies on other projects I’ve been procrastinating on for the past few years. That quickly fell by the wayside once I started writing actual posts about the series on top of tweeting while I was watching, as each post usually took multiple days to complete, holding up my progress on the series, and the Season 1 recap post took an especially long time to complete. Part of the problem was that I so rarely could muster enough brainpower to work on the posts and bring them up to the standard I set for myself, to the point I started loading up on protein bars when I was about to work on a post. Basically, there was a good reason I spent so little time on posts over the last few years.
Anyway, we’re coming up on two full months since I finished Season 2, and I haven’t finished its recap post yet, though I’ve reached the point where the only work I have left involves rewatching selected episodes. Right now that post isn’t even that much longer than the Season 1 post, though it may still end up being split into two posts. I do want to get back into the swing of things if only to have a chance to catch up before the start of any sixth season. And I definitely intend to have at least one post in the next week, namely an introductory post for the new season of the SNF Flex Scheduling Watch introducing some significant changes for how it’ll work this year. But in terms of having a consistent posting schedule, to work on all the projects I hoped to or even get back to the posting frequency of years past? That prospect looks a lot darker than it looked before June.
As I said way back when I started Da Blog eleven and a half years ago (!), I’ve always fancied myself as someone who doesn’t jump on the hot new fad all the time, and despite spending way too much time on TV Tropes and spending plenty of time in contact with various fandoms, I’ve usually found it pretty easy to resist jumping on whatever show or other thing is the hot new thing on the Internet, with my usual reaction being an eyeroll, shaking my head, and at best observing it from a distance. Homestuck was the main exception, because at the time it was taking over cons across the nation I fancied myself a webcomic reviewer, specifically one of “popular” webcomics, and I sure as hell couldn’t let Homestuck go unreviewed (and as much of a reason as any that I kept reading Homestuck was that no one else in the “webcomic blogosphere” was covering it on a regular basis, leaving it up to me to give it the kind of deep analysis other story-based webcomics got, which now seems kind of laughable in retrospect considering the directions Homestuck fandom started going in after I started reading it). But somehow, someway, my involvement with Homestuck has gotten me to start watching Steven Universe.
Near as I can tell, this is how it happened: As I obliquely referred to in my post on Homestuck‘s ending, I’ve found myself following numerous “liveblogs” of Homestuck that allow me to relive it vicariously through people reading it for the first time. The sizable audience crossover between Homestuck and SU and general monolithic presence of SU on Tumblr meant that there were of course several SU references to be found that I wouldn’t get, and on occasion, the Tumblr dashboard I only set up to send messages to liveblogs would recommend SU liveblogs to me, which I only looked at for just long enough to determine that they weren’t HS liveblogs. But then I started following one liveblog in particular that was particularly heavy on the SU references and in fact was created by someone who served as screener for the Loreweaver Universe liveblog (which actually has its own TV Tropes page). At some point they started liveblogging new episodes of SU as they came out as well, which meant interrupting the HS liveblog, and while at first I just stayed away during SU liveblogs and only took enough interest to know when things would be getting back to HS, eventually I ended up reading enough of it to become engrossed enough in what was going on to read and follow along, even if only by proxy. Then earlier this month the show aired two episodes that culminated in a major revelation that took several days to fully digest, and around the same time I discovered Loreweaver’s episode rating list that tied right into my weakness for order and lists, one thing led to another, and pretty soon I’d read Loreweaver’s liveblogs of his top 60 episodes and numerous others besides (not to mention most of the show’s TV Tropes pages), leaving me with enough detailed knowledge of the show that I figured I might as well be able to say I’ve actually watched the darn thing.
Honestly, this keeps happening. “Blogs” still felt as much of a buzzword as anything else when I started one, my more general disdain for social media didn’t stop me from jumping on Twitter, I’ve already talked about Homestuck, and there’s probably others besides where I witnessed their popularity from afar, considered myself “too cool” for them, and ended up jumping on board anyway. And so often when I jump on a new work of fiction with an established fanbase I always end up regretting not jumping on board earlier and been part of it through what I would consider its peak, as was the case with just about every webcomic I kept reading after I reviewed them – even Homestuck, for which I was around when it broke the Internet, I still felt like I jumped on board while it was in the later stages of its peak. One of these days I want to be the hipster that can say I was into it before it was cool. I don’t know if that’ll ever actually happen – normally TV shows aren’t the sort of thing I can easily commit to watching (not least of the reasons why being that that’s time I’d rather spend working on more productive blog posts) and I don’t review webcomics anymore – but if the opportunity presents itself I’m not going to hesitate to jump on board. I’m tired of considering myself “too cool” for anything anymore. If something’s all the rage on the Internet for smart reasons (not because it’s a stupid meme), I’m not going to be caught joining the party late again.
As alluded to earlier, because the whole reason I’m doing this is because I already know just about everything, I’m not exactly coming into this blind. People looking for unadulterated reactions are probably going to be disappointed, but I have tried (and probably failed) to clear my head enough before starting that at least some reactions are going to be genuine and I can at least get a sense of what it would be like watching without knowing what’s to come (after all, my original read-through of Order of the Stick was wildly out of order). To try and get through the first four seasons over the course of the one-month free trial Hulu offers, I planned to watch four or five episodes a night, though at this point things may become more free-form as watching episodes has proven to take substantially longer than I originally expected. I originally wanted to use a hashtag to denote my live thoughts as I’m watching on Twitter, but I ended up starting a separate account, @MorganWatchesSU, which you can follow for my thoughts as I watch each episode. This summary post was originally intended to be a compilation of my tweets as I was watching, but I quickly proved to have so much to say that any such post, even if limited to the “highlights” and using the ability to display parent tweets in embedded tweets to cut down on size, would be too long for comfort. Instead these summary posts will be more for broader analysis of each season. As we go along and the show goes further into Cerebus Syndrome, I may feel moved to write detailed analysis posts after selected episodes (the first of which may come after my very next episode as soon as Monday), not dissimilar to what I used to write for webcomics, and for those I’ll try to write from the perspective of someone who’s only up to that episode. I also have a few more ideas for projects adjacent to the show that I may end up instituting as well. All posts on these topics, as well as links to my tweet chains for each episode (that I don’t do a deeper analysis post for), will be available on this page.
The first season is twice the length of the other seasons with a midseason finale that serves as the starting point for the overarching plot and which, apparently, the creators have called the “true” start to the show. When split, they seem to usually be called season 1a and 1b, but given the first half’s status as a prelude to the “true” show, I’m referring to that half as season 0.
And unfortunately, that prelude status also means I don’t really feel like I can fairly assess it.
(Note: I’m not going to bother introducing the premise of the series or a lot of the background knowledge of what happens in the first 22 episodes or so, something I wouldn’t do for a webcomic review. If you don’t know any of that yourself, click the read-more at your own risk. If you feel the need to, read the character analysis at the bottom first.)
A week or two ago, I thought I would FINALLY get back to writing about the problems with our politics that gave rise to Donald Trump and the changes that would need to be made to fix them.
That ended up getting sidetracked in favor of another project that I considered making my post for the month, involving dipping back into the world of sports TV graphics from a hypothetical perspective.
But that ended up getting sidetracked for long enough that I considered just writing a post expounding on that hypothetical perspective, even writing two paragraphs of it tonight, but then I realized that post would be best written after another post that I would want to post if and when the Fox-Disney semi-merger got further along.
I will say this: I’ve been tasked with finding another avenue for my writing that might actually pay something before my birthday, and while I haven’t actually put any work into doing so, hopefully by this time next month I’ll have actually found something, and more to the point, something I can write about for such a forum that would actually engage me, because heaven knows I’ve been kind of lacking for such a topic that would engage me in writing for this site (which has arguably been part of the reason I’ve been so absent outside football season).
The first post in the history of Da Blog, written on this date eleven years ago, was written while cowering in a bus shelter. This post is being written under the overhang outside a library. To be sure, this is only because my computer won’t play nice with my mom’s Internet connection for some reason, and I wasn’t able to get to the library before it closed. But it is, in a way, a fitting way to end what might be the most disappointing year in the history of Da Blog.
Very little has changed since my last blog-day post. I spent the entire year following the inauguration much the same way I spent most of the latter half of 2016: lamenting that I couldn’t bring myself to work on the sorts of posts I had planned. This is the 36th post since my last blog-day post, and I actually think that might be a record low that holds up, between my policy of putting up at least one post a month and the Flex Schedule Watch posts towards the end of the year. I did get out some of the posts I wanted to get out about what’s gone wrong with our politics, but they ground to a halt after the inauguration – not because of the madness the Trump regime actually turned out to be, though it is making it that much harder to continue the series, but because the post I was working on at the time, the post I’d been planning since 2008, was made far more difficult and complicated by the election. Honestly I’ve been mentally transitioning to thinking about the projects I want to work on once I’m done with this series, but I keep telling myself I need to finish the series (much of the work on which is actually pretty close to done), but in order to finish the series I need to have some sort of post re-introducing it. Which is something I actually tried to do, but which didn’t end up bearing out in the form of getting any actual posts written before enough time passed to make it not-timely again.
I actually have some optimism that this coming year won’t be quite so much a lost year as the last year was. I’ve actually started the process of taking steps to actually improve my work habits and actually get some of the stuff I want to get done done. The chintziness of how Mom’s connection works with my computer might actually work in my favor on this front; without the distractions from the rest of the Internet I might actually be able to put the finishing touches on one of my posts sufficiently to get it ready to post in the new year, and the work on that might put me enough in the mood that it can help with working on the other posts. Still, I wouldn’t expect any new posts on Da Blog after this until after the new year.
I may also move to a new host at some point in the new year. Some of you may have noticed that Da Blog went down at several points in the latter half of the year. This is because I moved to only renewing my hosting on a monthly basis and had it recommended to me to find a cheaper hosting option for the long term. That has proven not to be as much of a slam dunk as it was when I first signed up with Hostmonster, in part because of a number of hosts, including Hostmonster, being gobbled up by huge impersonal organizations, making it hard to find a host that would actually be a suitable replacement. I have some ideas, but I would need to discuss them with people and reassess how the landscape may have shifted since I did my original round of research, and in any case having to move everything, including the customization I’ve done to my theme, would be a major hassle.
I’d like to think we can just throw away Year Eleven as a lost year in the history of Da Blog, and I’ll be spending Year Twelve doing most of the things I said I would do in Year Eleven in the last blog-day post and firmly and officially moving on to the next phase of my life. Considering what I’m facing in terms of my financial situation (and the fact that I’m turning 30 in the next year!), I don’t have much choice. But who knows what my mental state will be and what it’ll allow me to do in the next year.
I know this has been, by far, the least productive year in the history of Da Blog so far, but I think I’m getting close to changing that and actually starting to do work again. I promise I’ll have an actual post on actual constructive topics that aren’t saved for the end of the month (and thus aren’t transparently an attempt to preserve my pattern of having at least one post a month) before it’s time to start up the Flex Schedule Watch again.
In fact I might have one or even two such posts out before the end of the week. I might have gotten them out earlier, but I just finished a whirlwind weekend in Seattle where I was shuttled from one thing to another with little or no free time to actually do any work. I can’t guarantee I won’t go on complete radio silence afterwards, but hopefully that would be to work on larger projects that might actually amount to something, hopefully on the scale of the book or larger. Of course, I haven’t entirely decided what those projects would be, or at least the order of their priority…
Not much has changed since the post I had last month. I think I’m basically letting myself have an unannounced vacation, having burned out on my attempt to continue my series of political posts. You can probably see a pattern to this if you look back on the history of Da Blog, especially over the last few years, where I’ll have long stretches, especially over the spring and summer, where I spend all my time on totally frivolous projects.
Every time this happens I feel incredibly guilty about it and about not spending time on the projects I actually consider “productive”, and then I keep working on the frivolous stuff because that’s where my mind is, allowing myself to fall into a complete rut for months on end. But every month I spend on stuff like that is a month I’m not working on stuff that can go on Da Blog or the rest of the web site or that can be released to the world at large, and I’m losing momentum in terms of establishing a name for myself in the wider world, and it feels like this is happening more and more recently (though that may be related to my not having school, living with my dad, and not feeling pressure to get a real job). To be honest, I feel that’s a reason why the book isn’t as timely as I’d hoped or quite up to how I’d envisioned it when I started. I shouldn’t be feeling old at just short of 29, but from what I’ve read I’ve already passed the age where the brain hits its peak and stops growing. Have I locked in my poor work habits for all time, and put myself in a situation where they’re enabled? Is there even a way to keep me focused on “productive” projects that I would be receptive to?
This isn’t really because of the election and the ongoing Age of Trump, aside from that being the impetus for my political series, but it doesn’t help. Part of the problem is that ever since the election, I can’t help but think we’re witnessing the slow-motion end of the world and self-destruction of civilization; if Trump doesn’t start a nuclear war because someone insulted him on Twitter, the forces behind his election and other populist movements around the globe will cause civilization to come to a halt, with or without all-out war, and if they don’t do it on their own global warming will do it for them. (That middle option might be the best-case scenario if it results in a drastic drop in emissions, but that wouldn’t be enough to prevent catastrophic changes.) Against this backdrop, as I said earlier, writing about anything else, certainly anything that attempts to shape what the future might be (and thus presumes its existence), seems frivolous; even the political series, which I had hoped to complete before the election, seems pointless. What good is anything in the face of humanity’s apparent and potentially inescapable self-destruction? It’s a recipe for paralysis and apathy; even trying to write recommendations for how to fix the problem seems like casting stones to the wind at this point, doomed to go down in history as a record of what should have been done rather than an impetus to actually do it while there was still time to make a difference (which feels like the story of my life since launching Da Blog). I do have a few ideas for projects I can try to make meaning out of even in this context, even aside from the political series, but they’d take a long time to get going and I haven’t been working on any of them.
So yeah, this is one of those periods where I descend into a tailspin of depression over my inability to get actual work done and end up getting even less work done as a result. I don’t know when I’m going to climb out of it or what I’ll come out of it with. Hopefully at least next month I’ll have more than an exercise in self-pity.
I haven’t made any posts since before the inauguration, and you’d probably forgive me if the first week or two of the new administration left me so broken down as unable to say anything. There’s probably some truth to that, but it’s not the whole truth; for example, circumstances outside my control left me unable to update the Pro Football Hall of Fame Watch, which I may have to reassess the criteria for and post with possibly substantial changes in July or August.
I’ve been trying to make progress on the series of political posts I started on the eve of the election, but one post in particular has proved much more involved than I expected, in part because it’s an idea for a post I’ve had going back at least to my first round of political posts in 2008, but the outcome of the recent election has resulted in an example to work with that’s far less straightforward than the 2000 election I was going to work with. Recently I’ve been letting that fall by the wayside in favor of another more frivolous project that may or may not result in new content for the site but which doesn’t make me feel much better for working on it. I was intending for this series of political posts to build up to my proposed changes to the Constitution, but the context now feels very different than it did then.
I did start a new Da Countdown on inauguration day ticking down the remaining days in the Trump administration, assuming he doesn’t suspend elections, but there hasn’t been much else. I actually have an idea for a more philosophical approach to my next political post, but it’s something that would have been better served coming out last week. And the election has inspired a bunch of other ideas for projects, but as was the case all last summer, it’s been hard for me to re-orient myself towards the project I had considered to be a prerequisite for them.
Still, I do hope to keep my “continue my streak of months with a post” posts like this one to a minimum going forward, but I suspect when my next Blog-Day post comes out I’ll once again have a pretty low mark of posts for the year.