Remembering 2011, My Sixth Year Of Blogging (Part Two)

Thankfully, other pieces connected with readers this year beyond the Gene Simmons Family Jewels material.  The seventh installment of The 10 Greatest U2 Singles series that was originally put together in the summer of 2007 suddenly started becoming popular in the fall of 2011, more so than any of the other ones.  (Interestingly, several other Windows Live-era pieces like Marlon Brando’s First Appearance On Larry King Live, Zoo Station (Short Story), and a couple of the Seinfeld DVD trivia postings, among a few others, also received additional hits (they’ve all cracked triple digits) long after they debuted on the original site.)

With Achtung Baby reissued in numerous forms on Halloween, I soon understood why.  Part Seven is all about U2’s Numb, a song from 1993’s Zooropa CD that originally began life a few years earlier as Down All The Days which just happens to be a bonus track on disc five of the two box set versions of Achtung.  (Just as an aside, why is that song not on the standard two-disc Deluxe Edition?  And where’s Heaven And Hell, Oh Berlin, Near The Island, and Everybody Loves A Winner, for that matter?  Disc two of the DE is only 63 minutes long.  Couldn’t they have squeezed them all in or drop some of the remixes so whatever couldn’t fit would ultimately make the final cut?  Having just acquired a copy of the DE, I’m not terribly happy about this.  But let’s move on.)  In 2010, Part Seven was accessed ten times.  To date, it’s been seen a little over 400 times.

The same year that piece first surfaced, I received an unexpected email from Elaine Loring.  She was looking to get in touch with the ever busy Canadian Press TV Critic Bill Brioux, a friend she’s known for decades.  (She had unexpectedly found my name through Google.  I had written about him a number of times in this space.)  Once that was all sorted, Elaine and I kept messaging each other and have been friendly ever since.  It’s been a difficult couple of years for her.  She lost her mom to cancer and her beloved uncle died at the age of 96.  While still grieving for their losses, she discovered a lump in her breast.

Sadly, it turned out to be cancerous.  However, it was detected early so the former longtime entertainment reporter went to work tirelessly researching all her available treatment options.  The bad news was kept in house for a bit before a small group of friends (myself included) were informed.  She asked me to keep it quiet until she told everybody else.  In late March, she made the official announcement on Facebook and the groundswell of support from her family and friends has helped her get through this very difficult time.  But it’s been far from easy.  There’ve been a lot of tears and a lot of anxiety.

Elaine had told me she was thinking of putting together a blog but was hesitant about going through with it.  I thought it was a great idea as did a number of her oldest friends.  Emmy-winning writer Bruce Kirschbaum finally convinced her to do it and Lain’s Log became a reality.

In the beginning, the site painstakingly documented the challenging process of her recovery from cancer.  Real eye-opening, educational stuff.  But over time, it’s also served as a warm invitation for readers to get an honest sense of her daily life which is anything but calm.  The best pieces are actually the personal anecdotes involving her near 30-year career as an entertainment reporter for Global TV, Tribute Magazine and TV Guide Canada.  (The story of how her all-time fave, Jack Lemmon, snuck in a kiss after an interview is well worth reading.  Sneaky bastard.  She was not displeased.  It’s paragraph 17, by the way.)

Shortly after she publicly announced the news of her illness, to show my support for her recovery and new online venture, I wrote Elaine Loring’s Public Battle With Breast Cancer.  The next day, she wrote me a lovely email thanking me for the piece which her husband had actually spotted and passed on to her.  As of this writing, it’s been accessed nearly 300 times.  Elaine has been exceedingly kind to me since we became friends and having a link to my blog on her site is the ultimate compliment.

As for the latest on her current condition, she has noted that the same sharp pain she first experienced has returned.  Anxious to get it checked out, let’s hope it’s not round two of the cancer.  She’s hoping it’s just scar tissue related to her surgery.  I hope so, too.  After everything she’s been through lately, let’s hope she pulls through once again.  Hang in there, Elaine!

For better or worse, Reality Television is here to stay and there’s no clear way to avoid it all.  Late in the year, thanks to my dad, I became a fan of one of the more recent entries into this increasingly crowded field.  During a typical unproductive period where I was wondering what I would write next, I was walking back home one day as I was thinking about this show and all the different elements that stood out for me.  After jotting down some notes, I had the hook.  29 Things I Love About Storage Wars was the result.  I was secretly hoping for another Family Jewels blockbuster but the fact that it has been seen more than 300 times since first surfacing in mid-November has pleased me, nonetheless.  (Sadly, most of my writings are widely ignored.)  The spin-off, Storage Wars: Texas, just isn’t as good.  The bidders aren’t nearly as interesting and funny as Barry Weiss and company.

Two other entries, Why Amanda Knox & Raffaele Sollecito Aren’t Truly Free and Availability of 2011 Oscar-Nominated Films On DVD, have also hit triple digits since their public unveilings (258 and 252, respectively, as of this writing).  The former inspired a critical comment from a reader who questioned my reasoning, so naturally I felt the need to defend my viewpoint.  Another reader’s comment understandably expressed confusion as well as continued interested in the story.  Without a doubt, we haven’t heard the last of this terrible tragedy.  The latter, for a time, was the most popular piece presented in the WordPress Era until that first Family Jewels offering.  The difference in their respective page views now is startling, to say the least.

Speaking of reader comments, after years of only generating a few here and there, there were considerably more in 2011.  (This one might be my favourite.  And no, I didn’t write it.)  The Family Jewels pieces made the biggest impact on visitors here who took the time out of their own lives to write some throughly interesting views on the whole Simmons/Tweed relationship.  I was quite pleased with the thoughtful nature of these missives, most of which came from women.  (A little more than 20 comments have been posted on these Jewels entries alone, about a third of the 59 I received overall this year which doesn’t include quite a few Pingbacks and my occasional replies.)

The cool thing about all of this is that some commenters would also offer their views on other pieces completely unrelated to the Kiss frontman’s TV show.  Like my poetic “tribute” to Michael Coren which led frequent commenter Flo to leave a very flattering note.  After posting a few darkly autobiographical poems, she very sweetly expressed deep concern for my well-being on one of them.  I tried to reassure her I was ok.  I just like writing in this style because the results are often very rewarding.

Speaking of rewarding, WordPress allows devoted readers to keep up to date with its hosted sites by clicking the Follow button.  Doing so allows you to be the first to know when new entries are up.  Basically, you’ll get automatic emails letting you know about the latest postings.  This is a fabulous idea that I wish had existed during my Windows Live Spaces period.  At any event, at the start of 2011, there were no followers of The Writings Of Dennis Earl.  Now?  I have ten (nine follow the blog and one keeps track of new comments).  My thanks to all of you guys for thinking enough of this site to become followers.  I hope to have many more in 2012.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, December 30, 2011
1:59 a.m.

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Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 2:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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