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No More The Book Is Better

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I‘m going to make a vow right now to never again say in print or in conversation the words: “The book is better.”

Not because the book isn’t better, not because I don’t think the book is better in many cases, and not because I don’t think it’s ever valuable to compare a film adaptation with its literary original. But because the statement “The book is better” is too easy a gut reaction, too simplistic a critical statement, and too cliched a response. It doubles as an elitist phrase, both revealing that you’ve read the book in question and that you, being literary, prefer it to its pop-art cousin the cinema. Now, of course not everyone who uses the phrase intends those elitist connotations and I don’t mean to suggest that they do.

Instead, when dealing with a film adaptation of a book, I will seek to compare how they differ, what specific things the book did better, and what specific things the film did better. Sometimes I can’t be that specific, because the difference is more ephemeral than that, but I will be specific about that, too, as specific as I can.

I already try to do this, recognizing that the film, though based on an existing work, is also its own work of art and ought to be treated as such rather than merely a copy/shadow of the original. But I will make it explicit. Hold me to this. If any time after today, you hear me say the words “The book is better” or see me write them, call me on it. Remind me to think more carefully about the relationship between the two works, and tell me to rewrite or expand what I wrote.

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Redesign….Let’s Say V6.0

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So even though I haven’t been writing here all that much lately, I decided I wanted to change up the design again. Or maybe that’s because I haven’t been writing here all that much lately. I always (erroneously) think that redesigning things will get me excited about writing again, and I am to some extent falling prey to that delusion again. Ah well.

In any case, I’m still going to be writing most of my reviews and film pieces over at Row Three, but I’m hoping to get some of the more informally-toned things about film, music, TV, and other stuff posted over here. Maybe decrease my dependence on FriendFeed a little bit. :) But anyway, yeah. I’ve gone a little more magazine-style this time, since that’s all the rage.

I’ve also made it so the blog is at the base URL (www.the-frame.com) rather than in the /blog subfolder; I believe the RSS feeds should continue to function as always without change. This post will hopefully prove that! There may be still be some tweaks here and there – please let me know if you find anything broken.

New Commenting System

I just switched the commenting system from Disqus to Intense Debate. Everything went smoothly, no comments were lost that I can tell. We did lose threading on existing comments, but that’s not a big deal to me – I go back and forth on whether or not I like threading anyway. New comments can be threaded, no problem.

Why switch, you may ask? That’s a good question, and one a Disqus representative asked me on Twitter when I tweeted that I was thinking about switching. Incidentally, any companies out there? Set up a Twitter account and have searches set up so you can respond to people talking about/complaining about/praising your company. It’s really cool to have someone from Disqus or UPS or Comcast reply to your random tweets and answer your questions right there. But I digress.

I wasn’t unhappy with Disqus, but as an early adopter, I wanted to test out the competition. Plus, Intense Debate is owned by Automattic now (WordPress’s parent company), and I wanted to check out the integration. Plus, and perhaps most importantly, Intense Debate offers the ability to subscribe to comments via email, whether or not you’ve commented on the thread. Disqus says they’re working on that, but don’t have it yet, and while I honestly prefer to subscribe to comments via RSS, I’ve been talking to people, and subscribing via email is a coveted feature.

So there you go. Sorry to anyone who signed up with Disqus and is now exasperated about having something else to sign up for. I’ll reassure you in two ways. One, you don’t have to sign up with Intense Debate to leave a comment. Two, Intense Debate has probably THE EASIEST signup I’ve ever seen in my life. The first time I commented on an Intense Debate-enabled site, I was seriously impressed at how painless they made it, and I was like, hmmmm…these guys are onto something, maybe I should try them out. So there you go. Let me know if you all hate it.

New Site Design!

I’m really proud to announce this new site design. It’s pretty huge. To me, anyway. This is the first one I’ve done completely from the ground up, not mashing together other themes or designs. That means that it’s pretty simple, but that’s okay. My main goal was simplicity and cleanness, with a header I can easily swap out as the whim strikes.

The most major thing is that the blog is now part of a larger site, instead of the blog BEING the site. So the blog is still at www.the-frame.com/blog, and you won’t have to update your links or RSS subscriptions or anything, but now if you go to www.the-frame.com you actually get a working site that matches the blog instead of a parked URL, which is basically what it was before. (Someday I may actually change the URL to jandysmeanderings or something, but I don’t feel like messing with domain names and everything right now.)

So, a tour.

  • The home page has an excerpt from the blog, an excerpt from my tumblr (more on that in a sec), the featured video, a quote which I expect to change every now and again, my last few flickr photos, my Friendfeed feed, a music player with some current favorite songs, and my current reads/watches/games. It basically does what my old sidebar did, but less…vertically spread out.
  • The blog is what it always has been, just with less gunk in the sidebar, because that gunk is on the front page. :)
  • Tumblr is a great media-blogging/sharing platform that I’ve used sporadically for quite a while. I’ve always wanted to use it more because its media integration is great, and it’s perfect for sharing those little random things I’m always finding on the internet but don’t want to write a bunch about. But after various unsatisfying attempts at integrating it into blog sidebars, etc, I decided to just put it on my site – separate from my blog, but still integrated with the larger site. Generally, I’ll post stuff on Tumblr that I want to mention briefly or share but don’t want to write a whole blog post about.
  • To subscribe to the blog, click here. To subscribe to the tumblr, click here. To subscribe to a combined feed of both, click here.
  • The portfolio page will list the work I’ve done. So far it’s just a couple of personal blog designs and basic coding projects I did recently at work, but hopefully that will increase as time goes on.
  • The about page talks about me. Me me me! Seriously, it’s pretty boring, but I hear people like sites with human beings behind them, so that’s my “I’m a human being” page.
  • The contact page has a few ways to contact me through social networking sites, as well as a super-shiny ajax contact form! I’m so excited I got an ajax contact form to work that everyone should go contact me through it right now. I’m kidding. Don’t everybody do that. I mean, if you want to. But yeah, I didn’t write it because I don’t even know javascript, much less ajax, but I did style it some and GOT IT TO WORK. I felt accomplished, anyway.
  • The Reviews & Articles and Wiki links lead to two of my other sites, one where I keep the academic articles I’ve written as well as archive the reviews I’ve written, the other a wiki I dabble with focused on (what else?) movies and books.
  • The first banner for the site is, of course, the lovely Anna Karina – actress, muse, and some-time wife of Jean-Luc Godard. As my friend put it when she saw who I’d picked for the banner, “duh, you even name your gaming avatars after her.” And she’s not making that up.

So for anyone who might have noticed the sporadic questions on FriendFeed or other forums wondering how to do programming things or complaining about CSS not behaving right, this is what it was for, and I got almost everything to do what I wanted, aside from having to use a widget for the Tumblr excerpt on the front page because I’m not smart enough to tap into their API. Yet. :)

And if you notice something not working or behaving funky, please let me know. I did code this from ground up and I’m sure I did some stupid things, since I haven’t done that before. I did notice that the front page crashes Opera (the other pages seem to work), so if anyone has any idea why that is, please tell me! I don’t get much Opera traffic, but it’d be nice if it worked.

Blogging is Life-Changing

Anna of Goannatree tagged me for a meme (originally started at Seedlings in Stone) wondering how blogging has changed your life, for better or worse. Let’s see what I can come up with.

1. Blogging has helped me find who I am as a writer. I’m not wholly there yet, in the writer-finding process, but I’m definitely closer than I used to be. I’ve always written well (at least, judging by my grades), but writing for class always carries some amount of artificial restrictions. I was always a more personal writer than I probably should’ve been in academic contexts, but in grad school, writing for class and writing a blog at the same time really helped me to pick out which parts of my writing came from academic requirements and which ones were me, and how to use both to my advantage. And also figure out that I’m a much better fit as a blogger than as an academic writer.

2. Blogging has given me an online community. Blogging is very fluid and bloggers in general tend to be very open, and you can enter communities without too much difficulty, if you try. I’m still on the outskirts of the film blogging community, but that’s because I haven’t tried hard enough yet (and I don’t want to completely alienate the people who read because they know me personally – more on that in #5). But blogging is also an easy entrance into other social media options – I have a really enjoyable cadre of friends on FriendFeed right now that’s largely independent of this blog, but I wouldn’t be there if I hadn’t been a blogger first.

3. Blogging has helped me shape not only my identity as a writer but as a person. It’s a cliche that you can be whoever you want to be on the internet – I’m not sure it’s 100% true, because it’s very hard to be someone completely different than you consistently. On the other hand, it’s not difficult to shape and mold your identity a little bit online, and as you learn to do it in safe anonymity and distance online, you learn to become a little bit more like the person you want to be offline as well. I can definitely state that I’m a different, less shy (except with phones, that’s a different thing), less fearful person than I was before I started blogging/interacting with people online.

4. Blogging has given me a different perspective on online life. Sort of what Anna mentioned about learning to value internet surfing more since she started blogging. I’ve been a participant in message boards and journals for years, long before I started this blog, but after seeing the things that the tech sector and the political sector and the film sector and, well, everywhere really, is doing with blogs – using them in innovative ways from the very individual to the very journalistic to the very academic – I’ve learned again and again that to claim that bloggers are just a bunch of navel-gazers focused on minutiae is to miss the wide variety, interests, and quality of the blogging world. If you think that about bloggers in general, you’re reading the wrong ones.

5. Blogging has made me very aware of audience. Writing for school, the teacher is the audience, no matter how much they try to make the assignment call for a different audience (unless you have a fairly radical composition teacher, which I never had). In blogging, you have to constantly remember at least three audiences: the one you know you have (from people who comment or tell you in person they read your blog), the one you want to have, and the completely amorphous one made up of everyone anywhere who may stumble upon your blog from a link or a Google search. For me, the first one is a few people from my church, a few people from school, internet friends from previous boards, and people I know on FriendFeed or in the film blogosphere. That’s a wide range of people already I have to think about as I wonder how everything I say will come across. The one I want to have is the film and entertainment blogosphere (I would say film only, but I’m having increasing trouble keeping music out of the spotlight), so I think about trying to post things that would interest them. The amorphous one you can’t really plan for (though you can follow it somewhat through stats trackers), but you have to be aware that everything you say is public. Lately, potential employers have been greatly on my mind in this category, since my blog is my major writing sample when I apply to writing/editing/proofreading jobs.

That last thing has actually been on my mind for a while, as my blog has gone through some focus and identity changes in the past few months, so it’s good to get that out there. Thanks, Anna!

Let’s see, I’m horrible about tagging people, but saying “I tag everyone!” is a cop-out. So I’ll tag:
Abby – Pretty Funny for a Girl
Kat – So. There’s That.
Lori – She’s No Lady
Evan/Luke – MovieZeal
Ed – Only the Cinema

And anyone else, of course.

Here are the rules:

1. Write about 5 specific ways blogging has affected you, either positively or negatively.

2. Link back to the person who tagged you.

3. Link back to this parent post on Seedlings in Stone.

4. Tag a few friends or five, or none at all.

5. Post these rules— or just have fun breaking them.