A couple of years ago I wrote a post entitled “Bookstooge | A Reviewer of One” and I thought it was high time to either repost it or update it. Reading through it I realized I needed an update style post instead of a repost. While some of the info in that post has changed (I’ll be touching on that later, especially in regards to other people), my own motivations and personal quirks have changed a bit too. And I wouldn’t want ANYONE to miss out knowing all about that kind of stuff.
So first off, other people. In the post previous mentioned, I had listed out 4 blogs where co-bloggers had really seemed to work out, even when life circumstances had changed. Well, those blogs have fallen victim to the usual outcome of co-blogging, which is what I was worried about back then. The Bibliosanctum is now carried on the capable shoulders of Mogsy alone. PCBushi is on life support and I haven’t seen the other Bushi’s in years. Lashaan valiantly tried to keep Bookidote going but eventually had to start his own site. And the Reading over the Shoulders brothers? Life priorities took them away from blogging completely. Nobody did anything wrong, it’s just that when you add another person to the blogging mix, you end up with 4 times the pressure, not just 2 times. I feel like my decision to stay solitary on the blogging journey has been fully justified.
What has changed however is me. I still fully stand behind myself as a Reviewer of One. But I have come to realize that I simply cannot go it a lone. I could not write into a void any more. I am ALSO not a spur of the moment writer any more. In fact,, as I type this, it is actually 3 weeks in the past. Hello citizens of the future! * waves * If I write 2 posts a month spur of the moment, or even the night before, that’s about as close to the edge as I get now.
Everything else stands though. I don’t want to share my blog with anyone. I only want posts that glorify me. I still want to be top dog and not have to worry about a co-blogger stealing all my awesomeness. In the words of the famous visionary Matrix Lincoln “I have a dream! That every blogger can write just as they want to and be totally awesome at it, dude.”
I have realized that over the last 5 years I have stayed A Loner in terms of writing but when it comes to blogging, I cannot do it Alone. (see, that right there is pure blogging gold!) That is part of why it feels personal every time a blogger stops blogging even though I know it isn’t. Sometimes how things are all mixed up inside of us really leaves me scratching my head wondering how we all survive getting out bed in the morning, much less function in a group.
Be that as it may. I stand here a testament to the power of sheer willpower and stubbornness of the dedicated but casual blogger. I am a Loner but I am NOT ALONE.
Way back when, many moons ago, I went DotCom to get rid of the ads on my site and to see if the ego boost was worth it. Sadly, I had so many unsolved problems with following myself and some other people that I gave up. It only took me Six Months to Decide to Un-Dotcom 😦
I’d heard about Site Scalpers, jackasses who buy up recently unused site names and jack the price up for those idiots who have remorse and want their site back. Well, I kept an eye out to see if any jackasses did that to bookstooge.com. Of course they did, because they’re jackasses. When I first checked Bookstooge.com was being offered for $3,000. what a bunch of idiots. Over the months it has steadily dropped until recently it was available for just under $700. What a deal, eh? I just had to roll my eyes. What do these jackasses take me for, some jamoke right off the turnip truck?
Anyway, that’s pretty much the end. I just needed to get some words out and I found this whole situation amusing. Kind of. Because I hate speculators and I’d gladly take Jimbo the Desperado’s hatchet to appropriate parts of their anatomy, virtual or otherwise.
Yes, this sad day has finally arrived. Dr Lord Bookstooge is no more. After #wordpress.com began Whoring Us Out, I’m sure you all realized this day would come too. I also realize it has been a mere 10 days since I wrote about it and maybe I’m over reacting. In that 10 days, I’ve seen more of the damnably evil “native sponsored posts” on active users blogs and I don’t want that on my site, period. I will do what I think is necessary to prevent that. Hence this post giving you all the heads up.
I have gone Dotcom. In my defense, I did use the promo code “FLASH50INSTANT” at checkout so I saved 50% for this year. I don’t know how long that code will last but I am thankful it worked for me. I have been using free blogs (blogspot since ’05 and wordpress since ’13) for years but the cost of free has become too high for me.
This is exactly the outcome WP had in mind when they started those NSP’s and it makes me feel dirty, used and manipulated to do this. But the other choice was to stop blogging. I don’t have the “oomph” to fight the fight of blogging on dotorg and as I’ve mentioned before, I like the security and comfort of the ecosystem here at WPdotcom. So here my butt remains. Plus, my Blogging Project has pretty much nailed me down here.
To commemorate this momentous occasion, not to qualify that with a rejoicing or crying, I have put away such childish names as Doctor and Lord. Today, before your amazed eyes, of which you can tell your children and grandchildren about, The Bookstooge was reborn!
ps, if you notice anything hinky, let me know. The Incredible Bookstooge (you won’t like me when I’m angry) doesn’t like hinky and wants it dealt with promptly. Thanks.
Yep, it’s official. Time to bend over Free WordPress Users, Big Daddy Pimp has shown up. We all know that the free blogs have ads on them but if you have an ad blocker you don’t notice. Big Daddy has decided that it’s time to take things up another notch however. Introducing, Native Sponsored Posts!
Yep, ADS are now going to full on posts inserted into our free blogs. If you read the above article closely, you see that right now it is just for WP’s use but they promise that eventually these sponsored posts will be available for use to others. So get ready to be gang raped by proxy.
And they lie their asses off about it on the official forums: My Website has been taken over/hacked by an ad. In particular, please note Quote ##3610590 by JerrySarcastic. He states that “As long as one post is published on the site, this sponsored post is not shown.” That is a complete lie and Jerry is an official staff member on the official WordPress.com forums.
I can testify that I have seen these native sponsored posts on extremely active, but free, sites. I’ve seen them at BookWyrmReads and EarnestlyEccentric. Unfortunately, I did NOT take a screen shot. Thankfully, and I have permission from Alex to use his address, I did catch a screen shot of what they look like at AlexonFilm.com. Alex, while using a dotcom address, is using a free wordpress.com plan.
The reason I’ve included this screenshot is because these “posts” are a moving target. They don’t stay there. They’re inserted and then randomly disappear. So you can go visit Alex’s site and chances are you’ll never see that post at all. I want a record because if anyone brings up the issue on the forums I fully expect Jerry and his ilk to backpedal and lie again.
I’ve deliberately used inflammatory language throughout this post. That is because I’ve only got words to use. Make no mistake, this isn’t some Call to Action, or to Boycott WordPress.com or to leave or to take ANY action at all. The truth of the matter is, there isn’t anywhere else you can go for free (and remember, if you’re not paying for it, you are the product). Over the last year WP.com has been actively and I might say, hostilely, doing everything they can to monetize their services and make using the free option as painful as possible. What this post is is a call to awareness. You need to know what is going on on your own blog and then make the choice what you’re going to do about it, even if that choice is to do nothing, like me.
I have decided to do nothing for now. But being aware of this, I’ve decided where my Rubicon is. If WordPress starts inserting posts sponsored anyone other than WP.com then I’ll have to leave the free plan. Whether I leave WP or just upgrade to the personal plan (ie, dotcom) I have not decided yet.
In closing, please give this a minutes thought and at least decide if this is an issue or not for you.
My book’ish numbers were up from last year across the board. My manga numbers are about the same so it means the books ARE actually up. This is confirmed by the Page Count being up as well. While 0.25 might not seem a lot, it is a significant boost in the Ratings. Overall, I’m happy with how my reading for 2020 went.
I stopped pruning my followers part way through the year and that is the real reason for the bump in followers. I wrote a lot more too and more posts tend to translate into more of everything else. Including the damnable Spanish Spam Bots! Thankfully, that particular issue has been dealt with, even while not being solved.
Right now, I am happy with all of my numbers. If I can stay here and not get any bigger, that would be good. I like this level of activity and it is quite reasonable to handle as a hobby. Any bigger and things would start getting stressful for me. I also know myself and if I were to get any bigger I’d start really obsessing about “stats” and all the other stuff that is beyond my control as a blogger. I don’t need or want that. I’m an airplane and I’m at cruising altitude! Slip those sunshades on, turn on the autopilot, sit back and enjoy the ride.
What a year it’s been here at WordPress.com. Can I just take a minute as we all swear, profusely and at length, about the Block Editor? * clenches fists and swears for 5 minutes *
Ok. Now that that is out of the way, I can talk calmly and rationally about the huge gigantic fuster cluck that the Block Editor was and continues to be. While I am now inured to it and have my routine down (so it doesn’t take me forever to do something like it used to), I have seen bloggers leave because of it. When bloggers leave, you know something isn’t right. WordPress has definitely taken a direction into the “pay for websites” side of things instead of using casual bloggers to increase their reach. The block editor still doesn’t work right all the time, has less capability than the previous editor (where’s my scheduling calendar you flaming jackasses!?!?) and simply isn’t meant for writing. Which makes using it a continually frustrating experience as things seem to break on a weekly basis for no apparent reason. If I hadn’t already sunk in so much time with my Under Construction Project here at WP, I’d have left too. At this point though, I’ve invested enough sweat equity that I don’t see myself leaving WP for anything less than leaving blogging in general.
On the positive side of things. This year has been the best I’ve had at WP since I started full time in December of ’16. My numbers started growing in March and slowly but steadily grew all year. I’m sure Covid19 played a big part, but even with my rather outspoken Christian views on several controversial social issues, the views haven’t gone down. While I wish I could take credit, I didn’t really do anything different, that I’m aware of, than I have in previous years. I’ve just been me. That means the blame is squarely on you. It’s all your fault I had a great year and I hold YOU directly responsible.
Keeping track of my Word Count has been beneficial in that it’s another metric to measure my monthly stats. This is the first Year in Review where I include that data so I don’t have anything to compare it too, yet.
Of course, the Churn has continued to happen. People stop blogging (and not just because of the hated block editor) and I’m continually on the lookout for new people to follow. I change, other bloggers change. It is not a static environment and I think this year I’ve finally come to an acceptance of that. I will enjoy your company for as long as you choose to hang around but I refuse to be anxious in anticipation of you leaving.
Another year on blogger. They changed their editor at the exact same time that WordPress did, so what should have been an easy transition turned into a bloody nightmare because of all the stress caused by WordPress. I’ve got it all settled now and simply put my reviews there. No social posts, no fun post, nothing but the reviews. I consider blogger my blogging backup. I learned, from a young age, not to put all my money in one bank and, when I got older, not to put all my data only on one site. Blogger is my cash hidden under the mattress.
LibraryThing. What to say? They ALSO changed their site near the end of the year. Thankfully, since I’m not invested very heavily, the changes didn’t really affect me beyond some cosmetic look&feel type things. I am still a member of the Green Dragon, but to keep within the guidelines of not discussing Religion or Politics, I simply put links to WordPress in my thread. Not ideal and I’m wondering if it will last through ’21 or not. I only interact with a literal handful of people and after sounding them out, most of them get my WP posts emailed to them anyway. Librarything is a fourth line of backup defense.
Every time that I try to interact in a bigger group, it just falls flat on its face and I get pissed off to no end. Telling people that what they said was idiotically stupid and dumb and just plain wrong doesn’t go over very well I have found. Weird, huh?
I tried Devilreads again to see if the pretty pictures and stats you can get at the end of the year were worth the hassle of using yet another book site, and one that I hate at that. Verdict? Totally not worth it. Will not be trying this experiment in 2021. So long devilreads, don’t let the pitchfork spit you where the Good Lord split you. If it weren’t for the fact that I know so many people who happily use devilreads, I’d gladly wish a hacker death to the site.
Bookhype was just a disappointment. I tried it because a former wordpress blogger (who the bleeding block editor drove away by the way) was trying it out and I wanted to keep in touch. That did not happen. Because bookhype isn’t about the social side of things at all. So I’m abandoning that too.
I have talked about Calibre Here. As I continue work on the blog I tweak the reviews in Calibre so everything matches up. But basically, my Calibre database is up to snuff and it’s more about the day to day reviews now. There have been several major upgrades to Calibre this year (a pretty big jump from 3.X to 4 and then a massive upgrade to 5.X) but I’m holding steady at 4.23 until the de-drm plugin is updated. If none of that made any sense, don’t worry, it only should if you’re vested in using Calibre already.
Best Book of the Year:
Great Expectations This was the Year of Dickens and it was a wicked close thing between this and Little Dorrit. Great Expectations won by a whisker though.
Worst Book of the Year:
Kingdom Come I didn’t have a single book this year that I could turn to and easily say “This was the worst book of the year.” I had no half star books and even the 1stars tended to be more “DNF on Principle” than because I hated them. I chose Kingdom Come because it was the one book (besides Rosemary and Rue) that got a real rise out of me.
PLANS FOR 2021:
I actually don’t have any. Survival Saturday didn’t last very long into ’20 and it wouldn’t surprise me if the #6Degrees series follows that trajectory. I seem to have this built-in limiter for how long a specific blog series can run before I just stop it. That does mean that I need to start thinking of something to fill up a Sunday slot or two each month. Any ideas?
Of course, once having written that I don’t have any ideas, they immediately started creeping in. Doesn’t that just figure. 🤷♂️ (And you all can thank SDMcKinley for any and all use of emoji’s I use from now on. He has unleashed the Beast)
My Beloved Dickens reading journey is coming to an end. As I’d like to keep the classics rolling, I’ll be adding a Complete Works of G.K Chesterton and the Complete Works of the Bronte Sisters. They’re no Dickens but they’re better than Susanna Clarke! (boo, hiss)
I am going to “try”, really hard, to do less re-reading this year. I re-read 45 books last year. That is almost 30% of my total reading. I’m not looking to make a huge change, but if I can swing that number to below 25% and closer to 20%, I’ll be happy. There are SO MANY new books and some have been sitting on my tbr for over 2 years now. So I’m going to make concerted effort to only add re-reads that are essential.
For movies, I am thinking of taking the advice of someone from Librarything and making this a Muppet Movie themed year. Whether actual movies or the 1970’s variety show, it just sounds appealing to me. To bootstrap myself, I’ve bought 3 of the movies (the original Muppets, The Great Muppet Caper and Muppet Treasure Island) and the first season of the tv show from the 70’s. Singing, dancing, disco-balls, 2021 is the Year that Bookstoogevolta (me, anti-carnating as John Travolta) brings back Disco!
I have added a Statcounter to my page so I’m hoping to get even more Numb3rs for next year’s Year in Review. It’s free so it only holds so much data but I figure if I add a section to my Monthly Roundup’s I can get a good cross section for the year. I used it in December and it is quite different from the WP stats, so I’m not sure it will be truly helpful until I have several years of data to compare against but considering how I like that kind of thing, I can wait until I have it 😀
This year. What can I say? It was obviously dominated by Covid19 and yet for Mrs B and I, outside of a few church related activities, it didn’t change OUR routine. It changed everyone around us and thus change was forced on us that way. The stress of it all definitely got to us though. Between people turning into Mask Nazi’s and the inability to interact normally, even I was finding myself snappish by years end.
Work slowed down right at the beginning of covid, but after that, we were gangbusters all year long. I learned that I don’t want anything to do with the office or being inside and I am sure my time is limited before I leave because of general conditions even out in the field. Not worrying about that yet though. I have to survive yet another New England winter and that is about all I’m going to mentally deal with at the moment. Mrs B started working nights around Halloween and next week should be the end of that. I’m probably looking forward to it ending more than she is.
I survived the heat of Georgia for 10 days on Our Vacation. It was sorely needed but a mere month after returning it was like it had never happened. I think we could use a year long vacation!
Our church is still open, our cars are still working, our bills are being paid off and we’re getting fat because we have so much food. And we have more books and movies than we have time to consume. I think that qualifies as a good thing.
Here are the top 5 viewed posts in each of the various categories. It isn’t quite equal, as posts from November and December just don’t have the time to accumulate the views.
What an eclectic mix. On a “just because” note, I started writing this post at the beginning of December and included the top 5 from then. In the four weeks since, this list has changed twice. The Great Divorce and The Most Dangerous Game were narrowly bumped off, which is why I’m giving them an honorary mention here.
Anytime I wrote about the block editor I got a flood of views, so I chose the top one to allow some of the other posts to shine. Obviously though, the wordpress community did not, and does not, like the block editor. Personally, I hope wordpress chokes to death on it. Outside of the Vacation post, most were of the more introspective and navel gazing variety of post. I’m perfectly fine with that, as long as you’re gazing at your own navel and not trying to peek at mine.
I think this section is pretty self-explanatory. I am wondering if WP is somehow messing with me in what I think are my top commentors. Without digging around though, with very blunt and almost useless tools provided to this lowly peon by my Lizard Overlords at WP, I am going to have to go with what they supply me.
Movies weren’t high on my list this year and I ended up watching more seasons of anime than anything. I did want to include the recent Muppets Christmas Carol, but with only a week under its belt, it just doesn’t have the numbers to go against the Big Boys that have been around all year. Better luck next year, Michael Caine!
Here I sit. On my comfortable couch. In my nice warm condo. With Mrs B sleeping away in the other room. Having just devoured a Wild Mike’s Ultimate Pepperoni Pizza. And a Rockstar Pure Zero coursing through my veins. With November being the best blog month I have EVER had. And you know what is going through my head? How jealous I was of another blogger, 2 1/2 years ago.
I was reading some old posts and saw one of their comments and it all came rushing back. They’d been online less than a year, had more followers than me, were more popular, got more comments while having less than a 1/10th of the book foundation that I had or blogging experience. What makes it particularly ironic is that I really liked them as a blogger. I was happy for them and their success and yet, not that far down, I was really jealous. I couldn’t even think about it at the time because I knew if I dwelt on it that it would sour things on my end and I did NOT want that.
Now that time has passed, I can look a little bit more dispassionately at it and analyze it a bit more, disinterestedly? I actually started this post out as a joke entitled “Po’ Lil’ Me” where I bewailed what a wretched lot I had in life.
Once I started typing though, I realized just how deep this had run back then and it got me thinking. I intellectually know that other bloggers have felt the same towards another blogger. But I have to admit, I’ve never seen it in action. How does blogging jealousy even manifest itself? For me, it was nothing more than an internal feeling that was suppressed so as to not allow outward actions.
Thinking about it, I saw myself as this:
What this other blogger did was make me realize the reality was much more like this:
I suspect they would have been horrified if they had realized what I was feeling. Hence why I kept quiet. I was jealous because I wanted their success, their ease of getting along with others and that indefinable something they had that attracted other bloggers to them almost effortlessly. Part of it was also me not having the confidence here on WordPress that I currently have. I also hadn’t settled completely in my mind just what my goal for blogging was.
On the positive side, being jealous really made me think what I wanted from my blogging experience. Did I want a big audience? Did I want lots of like or comments? Did I want other people to indenture their children until the age of 25 so they could carry my glorious name? (I mean, that’s a given, but still….). Once I sat down and put into concrete form what I wanted intellectually, emotionally and in terms of entertainment that allowed me to focus on a goal instead of on what someone else had.
Of course, there are times when I see “someone” get 100 likes for putting up something “relatable” and for about 30seconds I am jealous again. Then I just shrug it off. I am not that person. I am me. I have strong opinions on many things that run counter to most popular or even generally accepted, culture. I am not a group person trying to please others. In the last 3 years I have grown emotionally in that I have truly accepted my boundaries and decided to work with them instead of bemoaning them. It also helps that Psychic Grandma showed up and began toughening me up, like a piece of leather, hahahahaaha.
And I think that does it for me and this Public Service Announcement. What about you? Have you been jealous of another blogger? What did you do about it? Have you seen blogger jealousy in action? If so, tell me about it. Tell ol’ Uncle Bookstooge, he’s got a sympathetic ear …..
Here’s a quote from the beginning of the book, Riders of the Silences, by Max Brand.
But nowhere in the vast spread of the mountain-desert country was there a greater legend than the story of Red Pierre and the phantom gunfighter, McGurk.
Of course, my mind went here:
I’m sure you can tell who is supposed to be Red Pierre and who is supposed to be McGurk. If you’re not familiar with who these Veggies really are, they are the main characters from a children’s show called VeggieTales and that is Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber.
They are the furthest thing you can get from Legendary Men of the West, hence why my mind went there. The dichotomy is simply too delicious to ignore.
Now I’m just imagining Bob and Larry on horses shooting at each other, hahahahaaa.
This was a pretty good month overall. Reading wise, another out of the ballpark average! Unbelievable!!! Helps that Yotsuba is just about guaranteed to be 5 stars each read. Plus I had several other 5 star reads. The end of year has been pretty generous to me with all the 5stars I’ve been reading recently. Thankfully, the lower rated books have pretty much slid off my back like water and it’s not bothered me one bit. Used to be, a 1 star book would get me into the doldrums or downright depressed. With these, eh, whatever. I rather like that to be honest.
Of course, that week in the middle of the month with sickness, car problems and everything sucked the joy out of the month but both Mrs B and me are at the stage of life where we just put our heads down and keep on trucking, knowing things will get better. Or we’ll die, which is the best case scenario we could ask for!
The best performing post this month was the “When Do You Stop Following” post. That got a LOT of comments and warmed the cockles of my heart. The one I had the most fun writing was “Psychic Grandma & the T200”. I just let all the silly loose and it felt like the old days of blogging, back in my 20’s. You know, when I had a full head of hair, boundless energy and dreams of becoming the Emperor of Mars? Of course you don’t know that, none you read my blogs back then. And you can’t now either, because I’ve deleted them over the years, hahahahaa! I wouldn’t be the Mysterious Doctor Lord Bookstooge now would I?
Plans for Next Month:
Besides the usual #6degrees and movie, I’m hoping to do another crossover post with Masters of Ironing, to truly promote the art of Ironing. A true Master of Ironing doesn’t need an iron OR even know how to iron. Remember, There Is No Iron, Neo.
Also going to try to do some Currently Reading & Quote posts to talk about the books I’m reading in a non-review way. Sometimes it’s fun to just talk about a book WHILE you’re reading it.
Oh, I will probably start thinking about End of Year stuff. That stuff always takes me forever to get together and the sooner I start, the less I’ll have to deal with as New Years approaches.
Other than that, I’ll try to keep things unstructured so if I feel like writing something out of the blue, I can. Us creative types needs our space. So BACK OFF buster, and let me be creative! Or I’ll cry, I swear, I will. I’m warning you right now….
I like to give my About page some awareness every once in a while, just to make it easier for those who follow me who might not have explored around my site (and can you blame them? I don’t explore too many of your sites!)
Here are some things to know about me that might make your interactions a tiny bit easier. If you still have questions, you can always email me:
Bookstoog eat gmaild otcom
1) I am a pretty devout Christian. Weird personal mix of Baptist and 7th Day Adventist. To over-simplify it, that means I believe in the Bible literally and I go to church on Saturday instead of Sunday. It also means that it influences what I read, how I read and how I review.
2) I am a Man. I cannot state this boldly enough or enough times. Be prepared. Mancakes Ahead!
3) I like Science fiction, Fantasy, Classics [1900’s and earlier] and manga. I’ll read other stuff, but not regularly.
4) I tend to read 100+ books a year.
5) Of the 5 Love Languages, [quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch] my main one is Words of affirmation. Or just words 🙂 Which means that I tend to post and comment quite a bit. I am NOT a once a week poster.
6) To go along with #1, I graduated from a non-accredited Bible school, so I’ve got a working man’s knowledge of how to be a Pastor, just not the actual degree. Or the temperament.
7) I am NOT a people person. People wear me out, even online. Then I say things that later I sometimes regret. Then I need chicken fingers to recover!
8) I am happily married to Mrs Bookstooge. So I’m sorry ladies, but I am not on the market.
9) If you disagree with something in my posts or reviews, feel free to say so; IF you want to actually have a conversation with someone who disagrees with you. Most times I will try to move such conversations to email.
10) I am a land surveyor. I work outdoors year round in New England. The picture below is of me. It typifies why I like being a surveyor.
Back in 2017 I was browsing Amazon and came across a Big Blue Donkey Butt. I never thought that experience could be topped. Today, I proved myself W-R-O-N-G!!!
How this even exists is beyond me. But it gave me a laugh and I thought I share. Because Sharing is Caring and I really care about your intestinal health! You know it’s good for you if Dr. Bookstooge endorses it. And I’m done being silly now. Have a great day.