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November 19, 2006

Guest Columnist #2















January 2007 • Vol.18 Issue 1
Page(s) 92 in print issue

Editorial License

Blogging For Your Supper

By now, most of us are aware of Web logs, or blogs, as they’re called. There are millions of them, covering every imaginable topic: Internet-based public diaries (let’s assume for the moment that “public diary” is not an oxymoron) in which entries are displayed in reverse chronological order and in response to which readers are encouraged to post comments. (And, for that matter, comments about the comments. Some folks, unable to leave well enough alone, then post comments about the comments made on the comments, thus creating a recursive flurry of words that immediately makes me reach for either the aspirin or the bourbon, depending on the time of day.)

Blogs turned out to be The Next Big Thing, although many of us failed to appreciate their potential impact, distracted as we were by such significant technological advances as the GPS-enabled in-car video player (no doubt helpful for drivers who, busy watching the latest “Battlestar Galactica” DVD as they drive, neglect to keep track of where they’re going); the explosive growth of “burst mode”-equipped digital cameras (which, thankfully, enable us to take truly dreadful pictures much faster than ever before); and a mind-numbing surfeit of Hello Kitty devices ranging from digital cameras to the disturbingly adorable Hello Kitty waffle maker. (I’m serious. There’s now a Hello Kitty waffle maker. When Wrigley Field—and mark my words, this will happen—becomes Hello Kitty Stadium, I’m moving to the mountains to become a hermit.)

I like blogs, actually. I have one of my own, and my wife has several. As were pen-and-ink journals before them, blogs are an opportunity to speak to the world—or at least to whichever parts of the world are interested enough to listen. And even if no one reads a blog—and very few read mine—at least the blogger has access to a convenient mechanism for sorting through and then articulating his thoughts.

However, things are getting a bit out of hand, blog-wise. There are now instances in which the proliferation of blogs is having a deleterious effect on the very fabric of our society. And by “deleterious effect,” I mean “delaying my dinner.”

Lesley, as I mentioned, has several blogs, including a book blog, a gardening blog, and a cooking blog. Because her blogs are well-written, often humorous, and always informative, they have attracted many readers. Not that I’m jealous or anything. (Lately, her book blog has been attracting fan letters from the authors of the books she reviews. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?) Lesley’s latest bloggish endeavor is her cooking blog, and it’s full of great recipes and homey, helpful notes about food preparation.

All of which was well and good, until my wife hit upon the notion that her cooking blog should include pictures of the dishes she was preparing. Now, Lesley is a truly great cook. She will spend hours carefully crafting a delicious Chicken in Tarragon Sauce, a scrumptiously rich Scaloppini di Pollo, or a wonderfully hearty homemade macaroni and cheese. The smells waft tantalizingly through the house as the dinner hour draws near. Meanwhile, I'm downstairs working. (And by “working,” I mean “scouring the Internet for a right-hand front turn signal assembly for a 1983 Honda 650 motorcycle.”)

Finally, the ship’s bell rings upstairs. It’s time for dinner! But no, not really. It’s time to take pictures of dinner. For her blog. We will spend the next 20 minutes taking photographs, while my beautiful meal cools and congeals. (“Honey,” she says sweetly, “Will you hold this centerpiece? It clashes with the chicken and dumplings.”) Mmmm . . . chicken and dumplings. Delicious chunks of fresh breast of chicken; rich, steamy broth replete with potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery; soft, light, fluffy dumplings; all of it daintily flecked with . . . uh, well, some kind of green, leafy thing. One of my favorite winter meals. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be delicious, but I don’t really know because instead of eating, I’m standing hunched in the corner (“Honey, you’re casting a shadow on the tablecloth.”), watching The Photographer at work. I’m trying, desperately vampire-like, not to cast a shadow. This is difficult and oddly tiring. Who knew that being a vampire was such hard work?

Of course, I’d be a fool to complain about Lesley’s food blog. It could be the best thing that’s ever happened to me, gastronomically speaking. As opposed to her gardening blog, an undertaking in which my participation seems to be limited to lugging heavy bags of mulch around the yard until she picks out a spot, seemingly at random, and points to where the mulch should be dumped. Mmmmm . . . mulch. Nah, see? I told you. It’s just not the same.

by Rod Scher

Rod Scher is a former software developer and a recovering English teacher. He's also the publication editor of Smart Computing and will no doubt continue in that position until such time as his boss reads this column. Contact Rod at rod-scher@smartcomputing.com.

13 comments:

  1. Thanks a lot, Rob. Now I'm starving! Les, if I make another trip to the US, can I come over for dinner? I'll bring the wine, the dessert, a book...whatever you say!

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  2. Anonymous6:19 AM

    :) What a great guest blogger! I've printed out a number of Lesley's recipes, but have only gotten around to making one (the stew was a huge success). I've wondered about the "deleterious effects" of cooking blogs because all blogging results in serious delays of real life. However, you seem to be profiting from all of Lesley's efforts in the kitchen, so I guess the delays balance out in a way.

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  3. Bybee, sounds goods to me! But no need to bring dessert. I can whip something up if you don't mind waiting while I take a picture for my food blog. ;)

    Jenclair, thanks for the compliment (both for the column, which I'll pass on to Rod, and for my recipes)! Glad the stew was such a hit. Lots of comfort food over there. I need to post a healthier recipe one of these days. :)

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  4. He he! Poor Rob! ;P
    Les, so which authors have contacted you, curious minds want to know??

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  5. Nat, don't let Rod fool you! He's quite the happy camper these days. I'm baking more than usual and cooking long-forgotten entrees. Maybe it's time to start an excercise blog for both of us! ;)

    And as far as authors contacting me, that was a bit of poetic license, I'm afraid. It's actually more like publishers contacting me via my blog to review their clients' books (although one email did come "directly" from an author - Barbara Taylor Bradford). Something I've come to learn is not uncommon amongst us book bloggers (and here I thought I was special!). I've also received a couple of emails in response to fan mail I'VE sent (to Mark Zusak and Jeanne Marie Laskas).

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  6. Anonymous8:13 AM

    Delightful, delightful! The love he feels for you, Les, comes right through. Lovely post.
    Nan

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  7. Nat, I just remembered one instance where an author did contact me about something I'd posted on my blog! I wrote a review for Enslaved by Ducks back on May 22nd and a few days later received an email from the author (Bob Tarte). Pretty embarrassing since I originally gave the book an F (later changed it to DNF - did not finish). I'll have to see if I still have his email. It was pretty funny.

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  8. What a great post! Sounds like I'll have to visit your cooking blog for some supper ideas.

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  9. Aww, thanks Nan. I'll be sure to tell Rod. :)

    Lesley, I hope you find something that appeals to you. There's quite a bit of "comfort food" on that blog right now. I need to get on the ball and start posting some of my more healthy recipes! We don't always eat those high-fat dishes. Really. ;) BTW, I hope your move is going smoothly.

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  10. That was great! I didn't know you had a cooking blog. I'll have to check it out.

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  11. Sheri, yep. One can never have too many books or too many blogs. :)

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  12. And the illustration even looks like the two of you!

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  13. It does a little bit, doesn't it, Dave? Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog!

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