Since this website’s inception in February 2006, there have been occasional detours into the world of rhyme. I don’t know how others do it but I don’t stare at a blank screen waiting for inspiration to happen. A title or a line or a complete verse will simply come to me (usually while I’m in bed) and I’ll have to write it down quickly so I don’t forget. When I feel I have something worth fleshing out, I either write out a draft in ink or go to the computer and figure out where to go next.
In 2011, there were 28 such poems that were showcased here, the most I’ve ever completed in a twelve-month period. (Add three song parodies and the total goes up to 31.) Some readers enjoyed several of them enough to either leave a comment or click the “Like” button. That never stops feeling good. Writing verse is the most challenging type of writing you can pursue and certainly for me the most personal. (You’re at your most vulnerable despite not trying to be too specific.) When a complete stranger gets something out of your poetry, it’s something else.
While most of my poetry is autobiographical to some extent, it was nice to write from other points of view on occasion. Peace In Your Time was directly inspired by Eva Marie Woywod, an American small town reporter who was viciously attacked by her ex-husband several years ago. She very bravely recounts the harrowing tale on her entertaining blog, Thankfully Chewed Up & Spat Back Out!
An outspoken advocate for the abused, Woywod often performs the thankless task of frequently writing about these awful stories that make most of us tune out because they’re so horrifying and painful. When she succinctly complimented my poem, I was deeply flattered and pleased that she enjoyed it so much. I haven’t had the pleasure of conversing with her in quite a while but I do hope she’s ok. She’s been through a lot of heavy shit.
The lovely ladies of One Tree Hill inspired The Most Beautiful Cast On Television, one of the more lighthearted poems I’ve put together. The title was in my head for quite some time but I didn’t know what to do with it. Once I settled on a series of verses highlighting as many actresses from the show as possible, it was simply a matter of working it all out on paper, then typing it all on the computer.
Some of the surnames were very difficult but not impossible to rhyme. In the end, there was only one that couldn’t, which explains why Daphne Zuniga (hilariously snobby as Sophia Bush’s mom on the show) is simply referred to as Daphne Z. Sadly, no matter how hard I tried, nothing rhymes with that name. I briefly thought about making up a word but abandoned that approach for the finished result.
Embarrassingly, when the poem was posted, I realized I forgot to include a verse that was already written on paper. So without drawing any attention to it, I slyly slipped in the two lines about Alison Munn right between the sections that praise Barbara Alyn Woods (who played the cougariffic Deb Scott) and Jana Kramer (who played the troubled but ultimately sweet and sexy Alex). I also tweaked the second-to-last bit involving Elizabeth Harnois (who appeared in a few season four episodes as Shelley, the misguided but ultimately genial Clean Teen who deflowers Marvin in that year’s finale). I was worried the original verse would be misinterpreted. The updated version plays a lot better.
Because of the limited blogging space the poem doesn’t look exactly right. Every verse from top to bottom is supposed to consist of just two lines. But because some went longer than others, some sections have three lines. I suppose I could’ve reduced the size of the font which would’ve easily solved the problem. But who wants to squint? Despite being annoyed by the flawed layout, I’m very satisfied with the poem itself.
Happiness was another poem inspired by the show. I’ve been getting caught up with season eight on MuchMusic lately and was struck by one of Austin Nichols’ lines from an episode that year (“Happiness is a mood, not a destination”). So I stole it and worked from there.
Of all the poetic projects I showcased this year, none was more popular than My Penis Doesn’t Mind. A lot of the credit for the slight uptick in hits that it has thus far accumulated (109 to date) goes to a reader who linked to it on Reddit in its humour section. (Thanks, betcaro!) As a result, it’s the most viewed poem I’ve ever posted.
Sly Tribute attempted to honour Larissa Cardey, the former editor of MonkeyBiz.ca who left the job last summer. Mr. Thin Skin mocked stubborn, unaccountable, faux conservative pundits, particularly those in Canada, The Cozy Journalist satirized the sad state of the modern Washington reporter, and Occupation allowed me in my own way to publicly support the Occupy Wall Street movement. (To see all my poems, past and present, just click the Poetry section on the right side of my home page.)
After four and a half years on MSN/Windows Live Spaces, I moved my blog to WordPress in October last year. The reason for this was very simple: Microsoft was shutting down WLS for good and I didn’t want to lose my stuff. Thankfully, the company offered bloggers the opportunity to keep their sites going (well, just the contents of the blog itself, actually) by transferring to WP within half a year. By mid-March 2011, all remaining Spaces that hadn’t relocated would be deleted. (It actually took several days before the service was completely discontinued.) On March 15, the day before the mass shutdown was to begin, I paid tribute to my former blogging home.
Also ending its run this year was The Toronto Sun Family Blog, a longtime supporter of my site. After five years of nostalgia, opinions and exclusive reporting, John Cosway understandably decided to call it a day on November 1st. Truthfully, there were a few more pieces offered beyond that date (just video clips of the old days and an open forum for disgruntled staffers, past and present) but no more daily rants, compliments and personnel updates from Cosway himself. A Tribute To The Toronto Sun Family Blog speaks for itself.
2010 was a pitiful year for movie screenings. I batted 2 for 23. So, in 2011, I vowed to do much better. And I did. Of the 29 films I viewed, 13 were good, very good or excellent. Seven of these features – The Crow: City Of Angels, Super 8, X-Men: First Class, Eclipse (the third Twilight movie), Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo, A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010), and The American – were properly reviewed in this space. Only First Class and The American are worth seeing, by the way.
Speaking of that X-Men prequel, it also surfaced on Christina Lucas’ website by her request. It’s essentially the same review minus the cursing (I wasn’t thrilled with the unauthorized edit) but including some nifty photos. Generally, I was pretty happy with the added attention for the review.
I met Christina (and Eva Marie Woywod) through Writer’s Digest Community which is basically Facebook for writers. I had been putting off joining for almost two years so what finally convinced me to join?
Desperation and impatience. Hits for this site in its first six months on WordPress were painfully small, just a few hundred hits per month although my audience was growing slowly. I figured at the very least a few of my fellow scribblers would check things out and maybe spread the word. Although I do get the occasional bit of traffic from WDC, truthfully the vast majority of my readers have found me through Google. Still, I don’t regret joining. I’ve met and interacted with a lot of kind, supportive writers in there, several of whom have left lovely comments in this space.
Although it took nearly a year to happen (long story), MonkeyBiz.ca continued to publish my music reviews. Check out my takes on Keane’s Night Train EP, Breaching Vista’s Vera City, Camp Radio’s Campista Socialista and the October EP by The Consonance, all worthy editions to your own personal collections. I’m working on three more critiques at the moment but because of how busy December has been, there’s still a lot more work to do. I hope to have them ready for submission very soon.
For the first time in a decade, I finally upgraded my computer system. My original hard drive was pretty much toast two years ago so, based on the recommendation of a Summit Direct technician, I settled on a used one for just a little over a hundred bucks. Unfortunately, it didn’t come with a modem so Dave, my technically inclined friend of nearly 30 years, performed some emergency surgery by removing the modem from the old drive and placing it in the one I just purchased. It wasn’t fast (due to age) but it got the job done for a while until it became too slow to take anymore.
Because my printer and scanner were not compatible with this replacement system, they just sat there. Last year, while going through some Mel Gibson phone rants, the speakers blew out. Well, kind of. You see, after that happened, whenever I turned on my computer, sometimes the sound would come on (but you couldn’t turn it off or adjust the volume) and sometimes it would do an awesome Marcel Marceux impression. (Truthfully, they were starting to act up as far back as the spring of 2009. It was a long, slow decline.)
Over time, it was obvious that I needed a change. Thanks to a very generous financial gift from my parents, although it took five months of research, browsing, and decision making, my new system has been operational since November and I couldn’t be happier. To have a new external dial-up modem that makes no sound (unless you have the volume up on your speakers) is one of the many cool things about my new set-up. Considering the amount of money I spent on my first PC, it’s astounding how much the price has come down in just ten years and how much sleeker and more efficient these newer models are. So awesome.
Getting back to my site for a moment, this is the 94th and final entry for 2011. (I haven’t been this prolific in at least three years of doing this so I’m very happy with that number.) Longtime readers know that this annual blogging-in-review piece is saved for the final day of the year. It’s usually an epic in terms of length. This year’s edition was actually too long to contain in a single entry, hence this three-part series that began two days ago.
As I’ve previously noted, throughout the year I’ve offered plenty of poetry, the occasional film review as well as political and pop culture commentaries. I’ve also reached out to the likes of Demi Moore, Ginnifer Goodwin, Olivia Wilde and Jennifer Lopez, four beautiful actors now back on the market, who clearly need to be held by an underweight Canadian. (This website enjoyed the Lopez story citing it as “appropriately worshipful”.)
As you can tell from this series alone, it’s been a pretty terrific year for The Writings Of Dennis Earl. Several personal page view records were broken, I have WordPress blog followers now and the initial joy I experienced during the early days of the Windows Live period has been revitalized. Simply put, there have been a lot more positives than usual. But what’s next? Where do we go from here?
I’m about to find out.
Happy New Year, everyone.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, December 31, 2011