Saturday, September 30, 2006

Lamont Stuff

The sense of community is overwhelmingly strong in My Left Nutmeg. This element (something not quite so overt in Kos, for example) made me really want to keep reading it, get involved in the comments and go back through archives--I got excited about what these people were up to. which for me and politics is no mean feat (it isn't apathy: it's thatI'm politically undereducated. I'll go ahead and admit it). The frisson of activism and excitement running through the blog is pretty tangible (or at least was for me). While it is in no way as rife with material as DailyKos (and there's no reason it need be--My Left Nutmeg is not National, and it has a level of specificity to one topic that Kos does not), it's still pretty stuffed with side links but doesn't feel as unmanageable and overwhelming as Kos does.

In response to Colin's "Is Ned Bloggy?" question... That's actually an issue that arose in my head. Sure, he's liberal so the alternative, "funky transgressives" would be more likely to adopt him, stroke him on the head, and feed him soymilk and all organic, wheat-free cookies but he doesn't strike me as THE man they'd want to do this for were they presented with a panoply of other candidates. Then again, appearances are only appearances--they're suit, skin, silk tie and sportcoat deep. There is something about the essence of Lamont that appealed and continues to appeal to bloggers--I couldn't tell you what, precisely, but it's there. I guess Ned IS bloggy. (Quick, Colin--Wikipedia that and claim it as yours!).

It's 1:11 a.m. on Sunday and I haven't gone out tonight. Work is kicking me in the ass--hard--and it's only October 1st. (whimper) Why?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Rhetoric Rationle

Now a more cohesive, better informed look at Coffee Rhetoric.

Coffee's authorial voice has certainly shifted over the years. Her hot topics, her preoccupations and interests, too, have varied and traveled farther away from the very personal sketch-of-a-day type entries we see from 2004, starting with her Birthday festivities with best friend, Cat. Because Coffee's blog is so heavily personal (VASTLY unlike, say), rife with photos and details, it makes perfect sense that the blog, like the woman, would be continuously evolving over two years. Her blog in particular, because of its very personal nature, provides a uniquely documentable example of how personae do indeed shift and change as time moves on.

Coffee's older body of posts consits of what I would truly, honestly characterize as an arresting synthesis of the confessional, the creative, the highly incendiary and humorous reportage of the seemingly mundane. Coffee is occasionally an advocate. She occasionally writes pithy commentary on the state of her world and her community as she sees it, accessing her own life as a jumping off point for such. She's got parts of a stories in there, short stories she's working on and other creative ventures. This, for example, is a really finely written, metaphorically thick and juuuuicy, almost spoken-word type post (how one manages to convey that over cyber space I couldn't tell you, but she does). From what I reviewed of the 2006 archives, she doesn't engage in this type of writing so much anymore, or if she does, she's not as quick to share it. A shame. As we confront the more current entries in Coffee's blog we find her heavy on theYouTube and the presence of more and more "dark moments" is notable. This isn't a new thing, mind you; Coffee has exposed her "darkness" before--eloquently and honestly.

If there is one thread of commonality in Coffee's blog it is that she is defiantly herself. So, She doesn't seem the woman to roll over and succumb to theatrics. The two above links show her dissatisfied, restless, and unhappy, but not despondent--she's got a fair amount of resolve. But her most recent post about having lost her way is very unlike the two I've linked above; it is dramatic to say the least and compromises the strong, self-sufficient image she's created for herself--jarring, no? The number of times she posts about needing to find her center and feeling lost in the recent past detracted, when I first read the very recent stuff, from her credibility as a writer and spurred the rather scathing comment I posted on Chris's blog. After having read her earlier entries I suspect, though, that the vaguely victimized and (take note readers all: I am characterizing a tone here, not a person, not an essence, not an entire blog: hold the affront for a breath or two) whiny woman discernible in a couple of recent postings is not what Coffee is--in fact, these posts feel/sound less like her than anything else in the rest of the blog. Don't believe me? Read back. It's worth it to see the shift. These entries mark what, in all likelihood, is an unfortunate epoch for Coffee Rhetoric's cyberpersona. Chances that she'll rally seemed good--her witty rant on the runners showed some promise-- but it seems a self-imposed hiatus is what's in order. If may be beneficial for Coffee to put herself on the backburner--I suspect she'll make a return with the YouTube and the voice that is decidedly not hers boiled off and with more of what she has been--creative, irascible, surly and incisive--distilled and ready for thoughtful consumption.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Political Blogz

Sleepy eyed, I'm cruising Colin's DD, cofee in hand, sound of dumpsters being emptied outside Summit. Good morning, good morning!

I'm really enjoying the variation between formal, informatively chatty tone and the more aggressive, "in yo FACE" action in this post. These variations (aside, of course, from the topic: in this case, I don't think that it's much other than an interesting, reliable place to get information concerning a hotbutton issue) are the type of thing that keep (at least my) interest in a blog.

I'm learning something by reading these, though: pretty words and spot-on metaphors do not, by any means, equate to success in blogging. This post, for instance, really got me going--I was in raptures over the lovely language and it's a cohesive, well-written unit, to boot. However, I found myself ceasing to read by the ends of the paragraphs. As Brenda noted in class, short, concise paragraphs work best to keep and hold an audience. Gaining momentum by short, terse sentences and keeping blocks of texts undauntingly slim is an excellent tactic. (White space ALWAYS WINS).

What was of particular interest to me in this Conservative blog is the vast difference in comment volume: there are so very few compared to some independent Democratic blogs I've seen. What does this say about Conservatives?

Ok. I have some more to get through and some more to say, but I have to go give a talk to the Mafia First Year Seminar kiddlies about bringing their papers to the Writing Center.
"We will help you with your papers," I stated in the last talk I gave. 'Til that moment, I'd had a rapt audience; their big saucer-eyes had gleamed, particularly hopeful at the prospect of partnering with writing tutors who were just sure to get them better grades. I knew that look--the glee. I had to follow up my statement with, "but be careful what you expect when you come in to see us: we won't write them for you." My audience deflated. I love freshmen.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Now THIS is nonsense

I sat there during my second three-hour-class of the day and stared.

"We" was the first word. I looked around at my classmates. We, I thought. Okay.
"We are." Deeply philosophical? Why not? We're thinking. We are. Deep. Let's go have a drum circle on the quad and smoke a hookah.
"We are outside!!" the statement was completed by the noun: outside.

That's what the chalkboard said. Due to the headachy, painfully alert but fuzzily absent stupor of the caffeine-addict caffeine deprived, this statement nattered at me. I gawped at all through class, irritable. We are not, I thought crossly, outside.

Messages read by an audience unintended to ever have seen them, processed by people who are unequipped with the ambient information that suffices to flesh out an idea of what the messages truly mean, why they are pertinent, why there are TWO! not ONE! exclamation points--they've always fascinated me. Who is outside? I don't know. But apparently we are, and I'm not a part of the collective "we." Things unseen, audiences unintended, are endlessly compelling--maybe it's why I like blogs so well--they provide the possibility for mysteries to be unraveled and conjectures to be made to supplement the sad lack of information with which we're often confronted.

That wasn't all the chalkboard said, though.
"We are outside!" was the top line. Appended to the note, boxed out to lend subtle focus, was written, "Come join us!" So class let out, outside, and I did. I was, however, no more a part of the invisible, unidentified "we" than I was during class time, when I was decidedly not outside. So how do I get on the inside of the outside? I think I don't.

Interesting, maybe. Real post next.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Kvetching and Kos

It's happened again.

Another academic year's freshly begun and who, pray tell, be the maid sporting dusky blue undereye circles who is so particularly fond of occupying the mirror beside my bed? She's growing a really charming specimen of a unibrow, which may indicate either a) she's going for the natural woman look, or b) there simply hasn't been time to tweeze. Her hair is disheveled and her look is wan, disheartened yet strangely resigned. Her skin's been better, but also been worse--thank God its complexion is nowhere approaching that fateful week in high school when her face erupted into a Balkan terrain of angry hormonal disuptes in the form of disgruntled whiteheads. No. Not so mountainous yet. Good. She's still recognizable, even.

Oh, hey! It's me! Gorgeous.

As usual I've overbooked myself. With three classes that require a fair amount of sustained independent reading and writing, not to mention my thesis (on which I am so utterly behind and underprepared it makes me quite sick, so I'll spare you that particular subject of bellyachery), Writing Center commitments, delightful RA crap, and trying to put finishing touches on the fellowship application, I'm running on E and it's only September 26th. YES. It's almost like when I was rowing. Minus the spandex, blisters, and three-hour practices, of course.

At this point, I'm well on my way to growing up to be just like the modern noble savages depicted by this. Hell. At least someone appreciates.

On to pertinent issues!

Tonight I cruised DailyKos. This blog superstructure is a combination of two things that terrify me: one, a vast amount of information and melange of confusing and competing links that I cannot possibly imagine being able to surf, ever, and the second being politics. Nontheless, here: I tried.

In and of itself, DailyKos has a lot of fascinating things to read. I myself was particularly interested in Miss Laura's brief rant on intergenerational feministic sparring and after I tutor tonight, I hope to be able to post a little more (this may or may not happen this evening) on that topic. But, anyway, DailyKos--a community space for the politically inclined to come together, post, share ideas and opinions about myriad different subjects. The blog is supported by advertising, which I found a little distracting, but there's so much truly good, meaty information and good reading there that I can dismiss it, and Kos is firmly opposed to ubiquitous linking (good on him--non-organic SEOing and trading links on a "I'll scracth your back if you scratch mine" basis isn't good for ANYONE'S integrity). Search function = convenient. Also: I think I must be extraordinarily dumb here, but if this site is largely based upon its users contribution, where is Kos' voice?

Now that I've cruised around the site some, though, I no longer find it so daunting. Score!

Okay. Time 4 me 2 go tutor kidz riting. Until later! (or tomorrow...when I'm not desperately sleepy, I hope).

Friday, September 22, 2006

Meeeeeeeme Theory

After having perused Wikipedia's extensive (extensive. No, really. EXTENSIVE) definition of Memes and all related components, I'm quite surprised at a) the concept and b) the sad fact that previously I'd had no idea that there was a term or a theory for the dissemination of ideas and popularization of sociocultural phenomena. To think of ideas in terms of natural selection, (poor ideas with poor outcomes associated with poor genetic outcomes such as, say, one-footed ostriches with six eyes and no wings), and to imagine subpar ideas to be naturally selected OUT of cultural circulation is a totally new concept for me, though I suppose I understood implicitly that this is indeed what happens (duh, Caitlin. Nice work).

From a literary/lexicographic standpoint I find the artificial engineering of Memes an absolutely fascinating concept. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the goal, but after having read some of the top links (including "Banana Repbulicans") it seems that at least part of what people are advocating for here is creation of endless neologisms dispersed with the intention of popularizing them. Cool! What this dude is doing with his Memetank strikes me as something akin to what Samuel Johnson undertook in 1755 when he literally defined the English language (for his own sake, I do hope that the engineer of Memetank knows more about hygiene and is considerably less scrofulous than the poor late Mr. Johnson). Meme theory and what this man is affecting to achieve is a new frontier in language--but not necessarily a good idea. I'm not sure I want "Banana Republican" in my dictionary.

From Wikipedia:
Memetics though excels in explaining the spread of certain value judgements ("chastity is important"), preferences ("pork is repulsive"), superstitions ("black cats bring bad luck") and other scientifically unverifiable beliefs ("'X' is the one true God"), since one cannot easily account for any of these phenomena in terms of their truth-value. Calling someone's ideas/beliefs/action a "meme", therefore, does not constitute an insult, but saying that it is "just a meme" does.

I now have a new subtle insult to employ. Yes.

Also: Anybody amazingly adept at filling out bureaucratic, BS paperwork? Yes? Good! Want to do mine for me? Please apply within.