Saturday, February 20, 2010

400 Posts Not Out

This is my 400th Blog Post.

I really don’t have anything to write about, so in the great tradition of bad US sit-coms, I’m going to do a bit of a recap of favourite things.

When I started this back in July 2008 (no, not exactly ancient times, even in the internet age) I had no real idea what I was doing, nor how long I would do it for. I had read that the best way to do a blog was to pick a subject and write only about that – ie be a politics blog, or a sport blog (or better still an AFL or a cricket blog), or a music or a film blog.

Well buggers to that says I, and so I decided I’d write about everything I was interested in. I also told very few people about it. Not sure why; mostly because I wasn’t real sure whether I’d keep doing it and thought I might find I had run out of things to write after a week.

My first post was on the Tour de France, I went with one on a Newspoll which contained this line about the then Shadow Treasurer Turnbull:

I thought he would be better in opposition (lawyers are good at asking questions), but too often he falls into the trap of trying to be clever, and instead comes across as being too clever by half. In retrospect this should also not have been surprising – it was the great failing of his performance during the Republic referendum.

I enjoyed writing about politics (which I hadn’t done since 1992) and 2008 was also a good time to be doing so – given the Global Financial Crisis and the US election. By my fifth post I was comparing Obama to U2 to explain why I wasn’t fully on board with the Senator for Illinois:

If I were 20 years old and at uni, I know that I would be all for Obama. I would be crazily inspired by his “yes we can” speeches. …
Yet although I know my 20 year old self would support Obama, I just can’t get electrified by the man from Chicago and his apparently inspirational speeches. To me he seems rather ... can’t believe I’m saying it... all style, no substance.

My Ninth post compared Peter Costello to Brad Pitt and George Clooney (the result – he was closer to Brad than George), and my 11th post was the first to be linked by someone and was called “Attack of the Killer Liberals”. It concerned Nelson, the ETS and Turnbull. Back then I wrote:

And let me tell you this [climate change and the ETS] will be the issue of the next election.

I’m not so sure about that now… But that’s the good thing about a recap you can see the dopey statements you made, and also the rather prescient ones.

By this stage half of my posts were on politics, the rest divided among sport, television and film, and it pretty much continues to be the case.

My tenth post was my first “Flick of the Week” post (North by Northwest). They are perhaps the most favourite ones for me to write, and yet they are also the ones which I despair over the most. As a guy who has written a few academic papers on film studies I always feel I come up well short in my analysis of the films – mostly because I am working off memory rather than a recent viewing. I’ve written 33 of those posts in the 82 odd weeks I’ve been doing the blog, so flick of the week is also a bit of false advertising. That said, I hope to keep doing a few posts on the film industry – as it’s what I did actually study at uni (well one of the things), so it’s nice to make some use of all that so-called knowledge.

Soon after I started the blog I began my first analysis of Question Time in my regular On the QT post. I’ve done 55 of these and they are by far the hardest ones to write, given as I don’t get paid to sit in the press gallery and watch, so my analysis is based on what I can glean by watching the Parliament stream in between doing work, a few notes that I make at the time, and then (thanks to the glory of Foxtel IQ) by watching a replay that evening as I write the post. Sometimes if a particular issue sticks out I’ll have written the thing in my head as I drive home; more often it’s a struggle to stop it from becoming a boring ball-by-ball commentary. I usually don’t bother with attempting a “sketch” type column – I actually like analysing the questions and the tactics. But I have to say after a couple sitting weeks, I’m pretty well buggered. It’s not the writing that is the problem, it is the fitting it in between the time from doing the dishes to when I’d actually like to be able to have some time to relax and watch TV. It’s even harder if I’m trying to watch the 7:30 Report at the same time.

Nearly 40 percent of my posts are on Australian politics, and thus they have become my bread and butter – and they are the ones that probably are read the most. Sure they’re biased; but I figure if Dennis Shanahan can write day in day out biased drivel that is barely in touch with reality, then why can’t I?

But in my never ceasing attempt to be a one man Time Magazine, I’ve also thrown in quite a few posts on other topics – such as in September 2008 when I did 33 posts in the one month, doing a day by day coverage of the Beijing Olympics, as well as some of my most favourite posts – the countdown of the 10 Olympic events I wished I had seen. Such posts – like the one of Peter Norman coming second in the 200m at Mexico City are me in full Simon Barnes mode. While I write mostly on politics, my posts on sport are often the most heartfelt. I usually write on sport only when an issue has really grabbed me – such as Robert Allenby failing to win the Australian Masters for his dying Mum:

Alas, sport is not written by playwrights who know what the audience wants to see. Greg Norman doesn't win the US Masters, Ron Clarke doesn't win a Gold Medal at the Olympics, Pat Rafter doesn't win Wimbledon, and Robert Allenby doesn't win the Australian Masters for his Mum.

After hitting his tee shot at the 16th, he goes to his mum sitting in her golf cart and they hug - her tears obvious; his hidden, as ever, behind his sunglasses. His face attempts to keep the expression of the inscrutable, professional golfer, but it is obvious it is that of a heartbroken son who wanted to give his mum one last present to say thanks for everything.

But sport is not scripted; any fairytale victory requires the same amount of hard work and skill and luck and luck and skill and hard work that any victory requires. And that is as it should be.

Some categories of the series of posts have run out of puff. I was doing a series called “A Song a Year”, and while it was good from 1983 to 1994; when I started thinking about 1995, I realised at that stage in my life I had stopped caring about the music in the charts – my listening was primarily non-radio music, and thus very few if any songs that came out in any particular year held any memories for me. I might try again, but I think I’ll do a different type of music themed posts from here on.

By the start of 2009, I was getting probably only around 25 individual hits a day; now it’s closer to 100 (and thanks to a couple links from Crikey, recently it is nearer to 150). The main reason for the increase in hits has been Twitter – a truly magnificent resource for not only alerting people that a blog exists, but for also finding out what others think on all manner of issues – it certainly produced my most read post – a recent one done on the media reaction to Dale Begg-Smith, that generated most of the hits from North America.

I wish I had more time to write posts on books. One of the most enjoyable posts to write was in April 2009 on my favourite book covers. One of the first people to link to this site was Angela from Crikey’s Literary Minded blog, and I feel woefully undeserving of being listed under her “literature + writers” link list.

I also like to do odd posts such as the one which introduced non-Adelaideans to the delights (and origins) of the AB at the Blue and White Cafe, or on the old local soft drinks that were around when I was young. But rare is the day I have time to write more than one post, and so usually current events take centre stage.

And so after 400 posts, I look back with a sigh – too many typos; too many poorly structured sentences that make me wish I had done a second draft; too few posts like the one where I discovered the Patient Zero of the Global Financial Crisis which have a better than average degree of humour; too few posts like the one on the 10 Books needed for the perfect bookstore that had been percolating in my head for a few years (such things are much easier to write!). I see the posts where I have been indignant and wonder if I should have more like them – but I hate being indignant, and I would hate to be a blog that keeps banging on about certain issues.

Whenever I see a comment has been left, I always have a bit of trepidation, expecting someone to give me a blast for being some left-wing apologist, but for the most part they’re nice comments, and they’re nice to get.

This blog probably now takes over far too much of my life – I mean what the hell am I doing writing this on a perfectly wonderful Saturday afternoon? I find I average about 5 posts a week, and part of me would like to cut down. But I know coming up is more Question Time, and then the AFL season begins, and there’ll be films to see, books to read, dumb things done by Sarah Palin or Julie Bishop and I’ll write about them all, because well… it’s just so much fun!

So for those of you who come in and have a bit of a read, cheers to you all – and I promise, no more recap blog post till I hit number 1000.

Now if I can just think what to write about for post 401…


chrispycon said...

when's the book coming out?

chrispycon said...

and congratulations. I haven't read them all, but you write well.

DJ Maths said...

Don't ever stop - your blog posts mirror my desire for content - mostly politics, but film/literature and a sprinkling of sport as well.
Congratulations for reaching 400, trying my hand at blogging myself, I can attest to the difficulty of writing huge articles day in day out (which I, personally, cannot do).