In these turbulent times, these days of constant uncertainty, you can only count on one thing to always happen: change. Whether it’s good or bad, necessary or needless, destructive or cathartic, it’s as loyal as a loved one, always in your life in some measurable way and never ever going away. In this life, change is the only true survivor, the only consistency you can rely on.
In 2012, all of us experienced it to some degree, some more up-close and profound than others, but in the midst of it, for those who remain, now comes the aftermath of these twists and turns, the “what’s next?” phase. Whether we expected to be in this situation or not ultimately doesn’t matter. We are still here. And now it’s time to make the best of it.
But before moving on to 2013, it’s time to put the current year in the graveyard of history where it belongs.
Since The Writings Of Dennis Earl began almost seven years ago, numerous traditions were established, none more important for me than this one, remembering the year in blogging. I’ve learned that writing these annual pieces allow you to see without question where you stand in the online world and the world in general after a 12-month period. It allows you to honestly examine what you did right and what could’ve been better. And this year, I’m happy to say, has been the best one yet.
Let’s start with page views. Although homepage hits are considerably lower than 2011 (2500 compared to 4000 last year) and the daily record (999 on October 18, 2011) remains intact this is the most accessible year in this website’s history. Last year, The Writings Of Dennis Earl was seen a little more than 23300 times. This year, the total is more than 26500. Still not spectacular but encouraging nonetheless. This means that in the two years I’ve been on WordPress the grand total of hits has now passed 51000. It took more than twice that amount of time to come relatively close to that number on Windows Live Spaces.
With a few exceptions, individual monthly hit counts were considerably higher than 2011’s totals. (Ditto daily hits.) On average, this site generated a bit more than 2200 hits a month compared to 2011’s average of roughly 1950 hits. Unlike last year, July was the most popular month with a little more than 3900 hits. (There were 6650 hits in October 2011 which is still the best monthly total of all time.) All in all, progress is modest but any kind of growth is a positive. That being said, there is still much work to be done to expand the reach of this website. Maybe it’s time to make a sex tape. Stop laughing.
Like 2011, the biggest piece of the year was What’s Really Going On With Shannon Tweed & Gene Simmons?. During its first six months online (mid-June to late December last year), it generated exactly 10003 hits. Since then it’s been seen an additional 6300 times. Not that far behind is 29 Things I Love About Storage Wars. When it was first posted on November 17, 2011, it achieved 6 hits. By the end of the year, it had been accessed an additional 300 times. In 2012, it’s been seen more than 4600 times, thanks to the show’s third season. It’s clearly on track to pass the 5000 mark very soon. Such a shame about that Dave Hester lawsuit, though. We will soon find out just how real this show actually is, unless a settlement is reached before a possible jury trial.
Two other 2011 Gene Simmons Family Jewels pieces continued to be popular in 2012. Gene Simmons & Shannon Tweed Need To Get Real With Their Audience earned an additional 1700 hits on top of the 1800 it generated last year while Unanswered Questions About Gene Simmons Family Jewels added more than 630 to last year’s total of 500.
Why Shannon Tweed’s Desire To Adopt Is Foolhardy, the most recent Jewels piece, has been accessed more than 1200 times, easily making it the most popular new entry I wrote this year. Now that the show has been cancelled, though, I don’t foresee any more hit spikes for any of these particular pieces beyond the little dribs and drabs they still continue to generate. If only everything I posted received as much attention as these A&E “reality” shows.
Much of this really isn’t news to readers who’ve checked out The Top 5 Entries In The WordPress Era which I wrote in honour of this website’s second anniversary at my new location in October. But what might surprise you (it certainly caught me off-guard) is how one particularly old Windows Live Spaces entry suddenly caught fire in 2012.
Back in 2008, I started going through the Seinfeld box sets (which were loaned to me by my good pal Rob) and decided to write trivia articles about each one. Unfortunately I went through a terrible situational depression that spring and summer so I didn’t write anything beyond the fourth season. I may have to go back and finish the run because More Interesting Things I Learned While Watching The Third Season Of Seinfeld On DVD is now the fifth most popular piece in my website’s history, overtaking Unanswered Questions About Gene Simmons Family Jewels not that long ago. Despite only generating about 150 hits in the first 15 months of the WordPress Era, it has since been accessed more than 1000 times in 2012, the sixth entry to achieve that hit total. I wouldn’t be surprised if it passes Why Shannon Tweed’s Desire To Adopt Is Foolhardy on the all-time list very soon. Less than 20 hits separate the two entries.
Trailing a bit behind that Third Season of Seinfeld trivia piece is Availability Of 2012 Oscar-Nominated Films On DVD which gained a little more than 800 hits this year. By comparison, a similiar piece about the 2011 nominees has only been accessed 430 times. Expect a 2013 edition this coming January. Maybe this one will be the first to hit the thousand mark.
Of all the new blog offerings this year, none got as much reader feedback as The Very Foolish Sarah Tressler. Back in late March, the Houston Press website did a story on her secret life as an on-again/off-again stripper. This was news to her employer, the Houston Chronicle, who had hired her as a society reporter. (She never told them about her other gig.) Shortly after the story surfaced, they fired her. (I first learned about all of this through The Huffington Post.) Not long after her sudden dismissal, Tressler’s setback became international news.
In my view, she should never have been fired in the first place. (Is it against the law to be a stripper and a reporter at the same time?) Quite simply, the Chronicle overreacted to all of this and unintentionally gave Tressler instant fame when the story went beyond the state of Texas. At the same time, Tressler’s public complaining about being exposed by the Houston Press was just so silly. As noted in my piece, she barely bothered to conceal her identity online with regards to her stripping.
The day after my piece was posted, Tressler left two comments. One was helpful, the other a little cranky (but, to be fair, she ended each one politely). After I wrote an update covering comments she had made about her predicament on her own Diary Of An Angry Stripper blog, she left a third one that was quite defensive. While a couple more blogging strippers left more thoughtful comments defending her and, in one case, their profession, most of the other commenters were more sympathetic to my point of view. In the end, The Very Foolish Sarah Tressler generated 20 comments (including a few of my own), two less than What’s Really Going On With Shannon Tweed & Gene Simmons? (which is the most commented on piece in this website’s history thus far).
Tressler would quickly bounce back with a new job reporting for Good Morning America but that turned out to be a one-time deal. Aligning herself with high-powered attorney Gloria Allred, she filed a lawsuit against the Houston Chronicle which is still pending. She also published a book of her blog entries in the summer. Since then, she’s fallen out of the spotlight. Her Angry Stripper blog is back to being private again, her Angry Stripper Twitter account has been deleted (she still has her “sarahtress” one), she still teaches at the University Of Houston and she’s a freelancer, most recently for Houston Magazine.
The Summer Olympics in Britain inspired a three-part series of “Unofficial Awards”, an idea previously used for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. While parts one and three received modest attention (a combined 44 hits), part two has thus far generated more than 250 hits. (By comparison, the Vancouver piece has been seen 120 times.) I know a lot of these totals are not terribly huge but for me they’re better than normal and a hopeful sign for the future. (In fact, several more older entries saw similiarly modest page view increases in their own right.) These particular pieces were so thorough I decided not to recap any of them in my Winners & Losers Of 2012 series.
Speaking of sports, 2012 Euro Doppelgangers was inspired by a semi-regular segment former Score broadcaster Renee Paquette used to do as the host of Aftermath. Viewers would send in pics of famous people who they thought looked like WWE superstars, Paquette & her two panellists would show the results and then either agree or disagree with the match-ups. As I was watching the Euro soccer championships this year I noticed that several players looked quite a lot like certain celebrities which led to this experimental piece. (I rarely include photos on here.) Doppelgangers remains the only blog entry I’ve ever posted that is completely visual. It’s generated slightly more than a hundred hits thus far.
Later on, I included photos in 5 Famous Actors Who Survived Their Horror Movie Debuts. Rather than write proper reviews of the third and fourth Hellraiser movies, which I had just screened around that time (and don’t recommend), I went with this approach instead. It’s been seen more than 85 times. As I slowly continue to get caught up with the movies (and I do mean slowly), I might revisit this topic in the future.
Of the 30 films I watched this year, sadly only three were any good. (In 2011, I went 13 for 29.) As it turned out, I ended up writing just one positive review for Ridley Scott’s surprisingly effective Prometheus. (There’s something very wrong if Michael Fassbender doesn’t receive a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his fine work as Dave, the unscrupulous android.) Also assessed here in 2012 were That’s My Boy, Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (where I needed to make a correction over a dopey misunderstanding), Men In Black 3, Final Destination 5, Yes Man and Encino Man, which ended up detouring into my awful experience as a Student Council President in high school 20 years ago and led to a ridiculous argument with my Mom. (She wondered, not unreasonably in retrospect, why I was wasting my time writing about an old movie instead of new ones. If she had read the review, she would’ve understood. Sometimes, it’s not about the page views. And, for the record, my assessments of more current titles don’t generate a lot of page views, either.) Although I could’ve put together a lot more critiques this year most of the films I screened in 2012 just weren’t worth writing about. Here’s hoping for a more productive 2013.
Sticking with the entertainment criticism theme for a second, I continued to submit new CD reviews to MonkeyBiz.ca, the Hamilton, Ontario arts site. After tackling two such assessments last December, I was immediately asked to do some more, so I chose three additional discs. Unfortunately, there was too much going on at the time so the reviews took longer than usual.
By early January, my takes on Krash Karma’s Straight To The Blood, Gringo Star’s Count Yer Lucky Stars and The Howling Hex’s Wilson Semiconductors were finally ready. Three months later, two more reviews surfaced: Jordan Klassen’s Kindness EP and Yukon Blonde’s Tiger Talk. I was particularly proud of that last critique because my feeling that Yukon Blonde was going somewhere ended up coming true. The band’s single, Stairway, became a radio hit and was even used in a Toronto Blue Jays Sportsnet promo.
Sadly, I’ve not been asked to do any more work for MonkeyBiz which recently went through a website renovation. All my old reviews are no longer available on there. For the time being, I’ve found alternate links that have since been listed on the right side of my homepage but that’s temporary. Coming soon, you’ll be seeing all 16 of these pieces under my revived From The Published Archives series. I have no idea when that will happen but stay tuned. I’m still open to writing for MonkeyBiz (they’ve been very kind to me over the years) but it looks like it might be time to move on.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, December 30, 2012