Marshall & Julie: Day 3

30 07 2010

Another reminder (mainly so the “Marshall and Julie” graphic will fit nicely into the post): these posts are not in real time.  They were all written at a previous date.  So there.  Now, enjoy.

Day 3: “You Have To Break A Few Eggs…” / “You Have To Write a Few Posts…”

I got to read about the beginning of Julie’s blogging career, which has some surprising parallels to my own.

Julie began blogging in the calm before the storm of moving. You will quickly find out that a 17-year-old has little to relate to such adult tasks as moving and packing. Although at the edge of my memory, I have some vague memories of the several moves that my family embarked on in 1996 and 1997 before finally settling into the house that we still inhabit today. Either I was too young and naïve to comprehend the pain that my parents were in or they were really good at putting on the happy face, because moving homes isn’t something that my mind associates with extreme anguish.

If it hasn’t been incredibly obvious, my travail equivalent to Julie’s move is my junior year. I have gradually begun to feel the effects of the slow decomposition of my soul, in addition to the painful collapse it suffers every night under the weight of several hours of challenging homework. On my first ever blog post, entitled “The Beginning,” I attached a poll to gauge my readership’s opinion on how off my rocker must be to attempt such a project. At first, most said that I was. But as time passed, the majority said that I was in my right mind. However, the poll is even now with one fly in the ointment who picked “maybe.” And a note on the poll, I used the terms “most” and “majority,” but don’t be fooled. 15 people took the poll. Sometimes I just have a flair for the theatrical.

So naturally, the first question my mom asked when I told her that I had started a blog was, “Are you sure you can handle this with junior year and everything?”

Likewise, Julie’s mother responded to the same question with, “Maybe this isn’t the best time to start a project like this? While you’re trying to move?” Julie replied, “It’ll be fine. I have to eat, don’t I? Besides, it’s already out there. Online, where anybody can see it. I have to go through with it now. It’ll be fine. It’ll be great!”

My response to my mom’s question: “Yeah, I think I can do it. I know that homework has to be the priority and it will remain the priority because I want to go to a good college so I can have a fruitful life.” Pop quiz: Recognize the last bit of that sentence? Modern philosopher Ferris Bueller said it.

Now I must throw myself a life raft in the shark-infested sea in which I am swimming. I really am lucky to have a mother who is tolerant with my ambitions. I am glad she doesn’t force me to become a study zombie, locking myself in an ivory tower to do nothing but schoolwork. At the same time, I am grateful that she is not such a passive presence that she would let me do what I want to do at the cost of what I have to do. Early in the project, Julie’s mom calls her and demands that she take down the blog for her own well being. We all know who won that fight, but thankfully, I have not had to partake in a similar one with my own mom. Even though I have slipped and chose to blog instead of do other things that I need to do, she hasn’t lost her mind and told me to take down the blog.

Julie recounts her initial euphoria from watching people discover her blog. She talks about how she checked her blog twelve times at work to find out that she got 36 hits and how ecstatic she was at her first comment from a complete stranger.

I cannot tell you how huge a sigh of relief I breathed when I read this. I have feared for such a long time that it was an incredibly vain thing to do to check my “blog stats” page as often as I do. I check it as frequently as my Facebook, which is to say religiously (just what my mother will be excited to hear when she reads this). I love seeing what my readers are looking at, where they found my site, but paramount to all is seeing what crazy searches are getting directed to my blog.

All sorts of interesting and colorful folks visit my blog thanks to the lovely WordPress search engine. People looking for cheap pornography were severely disappointed when they searched for “graphic male nudity” and “movies with male nudity” but wound up with me. I also want to know the kind of people that searched “pee in sink” and “free film of boy spanking.” Today, I actually got my most interesting search redirect yet: someone searched “Pirates of the Caribbean” in Russian.

I remember my obsession with watching the little dot rise higher and higher on my page visits line graph. The first person I told was my friend Laura, who happened to be on Facebook right as I published the site. I sent her a chat message saying, “I know I’m a dork, but I just started a blog about my love of movies, if you want to check it out.” I went back to the blog stats page, hit refresh, and saw the dot move up from zero to one. When I clicked back over to Facebook, Laura replied, “Haha, wow, you kind of are a dork. But this is really cool.”

Next, I sent the link to my friend Gillian, who puts up with all of my movie hypotheses and actually looks at all the trailers I send her. She was instantly won over by it, and told me that it was legit enough to make my Facebook status. I didn’t want to before because I feared becoming what CNN calls “The Self-Promoter,” someone whose status is always one of his or her blog posts or achievements. However, I wanted to get the word out, so I just went ahead and posted it.

Suddenly, that dot started going up and up, higher and higher, soaring into the stratosphere … of 70 views. I learned one of the most important lessons of blogging on my first day: if you want people to look at something, put it on Facebook at night. To date, the day that my blog recorded the most hits, almost a third of my page views were from Facebook. A few of my friends had the verve to comment. One was kind enough to leave me lots of blatant grammatical errors just to get under my skin, and another left me plenty of smiling emoticons telling me how proud they were of me. The third comment came a bit later after I had sent the link to my blog to my whole family. My aunt Hope compared my endeavor of starting a blog to the hero’s journey.

But one Friday night, I was checking my e-mail on my cracked iPhone while bored, and a gray circle with the number one in the middle popped up. If I am fortunate enough to have someone read this at a time when reading a blog is like reading a papyrus scroll and using an iPhone is like using a telegraph, what I just said was that I received an e-mail. After two taps, I saw that it was a notification from WordPress that I had received a comment. With all due respect to my first three commenters, this one had the power to make get up and dance on a table like I was in “High School Musical.” It was a comment from someone I didn’t know!

James DeAmara, who writes the Central Florida Film Critic blog, commented “Great review!” on my review of Judd Apatow’s “Funny People.” Those two words, coupled with that sublime punctuation, meant so much to me. It meant some semblance of acceptance into the film blogging community. It meant that someone other than my friends were reading my blog, and better yet, these people weren’t Philistines. It wasn’t what the doctor ordered, but maybe it was one of the doctor’s casual, off-the-record suggestions.

Julie and I both experienced the rapture of having other people commenting that we didn’t know. But she doesn’t mention anybody trying to tear her down, only support her. Maybe she is just turning a blind eye in her memoir, but what is a person going to say negatively to a blog about a woman on a mission? All I can think of is, “This is stupid, you are wasting your time,” “Better put up a PayPal so you can afford WeightWatchers,” and “You can’t do this.” It is much easier to precipitate discord when you are dealing with opinions like me. J. Shady of “The Blarg” told me that I was blinded by my worship of the character Julie Powell in the movie “Julie & Julia” to accurately review Amy Adams’ performance. Again, I hyperbolize for dramatic effect. Here’s what the actual comment looked like, no Marshall spin on it:

I can understand your interest in Amy Adams’ character more, since you clearly outlined that she influenced you and this blog. But I thought the movie painted Powell in an awkward and sometimes creepy light.

Now don’t get me wrong; I love disagreement. It is necessary for me to have an open community feel like I hope to create. If everyone is in accordance, then it might as well be the teacher and student feel. As enticing as it may sound, I don’t want my blog to turn into a one-party state with me as the autocratic and despotic tyrant who rules over it all. I want opposition, although I will hardly be hesitant to use my iron fist to crush it.

The project forces Julie to eat her first egg. I personally don’t know how I could live without eggs, but who am I to question her method? So how about a comparison of eggs to something cinematic? Obviously you don’t mind since you have read this far. Since I started blogging, I have faced my fear of going to a horror movie in theaters by seeing “Paranormal Activity” before the rest of America hopped on the bandwagon. The friend I went with cowered in fear, but I found myself surprisingly unaffected. I was a little scared, though hardly horrified. In fact, I think it gave me a strange ego boost, which made me decide to watch “Saw.” Even as a guy cuts his foot off, I just wasn’t scared. Maybe a little nauseated, but not terrified. I usually hate to watch foreign movies, and I have started giving them a chance. I watched “City of God” which is in Portuguese, and it is actually one of the best movies of the decade. On the other hand, this desire to go global compelled me to watch “Sin Nombre,” one of the most boring movies I have ever had the pleasure of seeing.

Julie finished off the chapter with an extended anecdote about the time that her mother and father came to New York for the latter’s birthday, with the added perk of helping Julie and her husband, Eric (I can’t believe I have gotten this far without mentioning him or his name), unpack. Forgive me, but I don’t think you want to hear a yarn about my junior year. If you were expecting story time, too bad. I’m writing this during my junior year and I need some sleep, which in turn provides sanity, which in turn provides acceptable grades, which in turn provides good options for college, which in turn provides opportunities to make a decent living, which in turn provides the potential to have a fruitful life. Don’t you just love the ripple effect? I seem to be reminded of it at every opportunity possible.

What I do in this year echoes in the rest of my life.



One response

8 08 2010

Why such disdain for foreign films?

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