Back to my nothing-even-vaguely-resembling-regular broadcasting schedule

It’s been several moons since I posted anything on here, but not for lack of ideas. It’s just something I wasn’t making time for, which is a terrible excuse, but it’s the only one I’ve got.

A small part of my brain thought I should make a New Year’s resolution to write in here more often. The rest of my brain knew that would be a terrible idea. For me, resolutions tend to have nasty consequences: screw up once and the entire system collapses, you spiral down into a deep, dark hole of shame and misery, then wake up three weeks later in a stranger’s house covered in cake frosting and soaking in a puddle of your own urine. But even if breaking resolutions have consequences a little less severe than that, I’d still feel shitty afterward. I feel kinda shitty now after not writing since… October, I think. That’s how long it’s been—I don’t remember how long it’s been.

It also occurred to me that the last time I wrote in here was just before my trip to Thailand back in October. I thought the idea of e-postcards was really cool and it might have been if not for two things.

1) The trip was more exhausting than I thought (probably because of the constant heat and humidity) and the sweet siren song of sleep was just too strong to resist at night.
2) It’s really awkward to talk to a webcam while your mother is sitting in the room with you. Just an FYI.

But because it’s been so long, as far as any faithful readers know, I might have been shanked by a Thai hooker for skimping on a 100 baht blowjob. Which would be really sad, given that the 30-1 baht-dollar ratio means it would have cost me a little over three bucks. But that should be expected when she’s only got three teeth and open sores on her… never mind. I didn’t get shanked, that’s all you need to know.

So I made it home safe and sound, the trip was fun and I may be able to motivate myself to post some pictures and stories on here. No promises because I don’t like wasting cake frosting. In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful time celebrating the beginning of 2015. I’m sure I’ll be writing to you again soon.

To vlog or not to vlog?

The time is currently 8:16pm. Trust me, this will be relevant at the end of this entry.

I guess the title might be a little misleading because vlogging probably wouldn’t be a consistent effort. If anything, I’d probably do it less frequently than writing here on my regular blog. Which could mean “almost never” for the time being. I could do it once in a while for practice’s sake, but I wouldn’t do it with any consistency until October. Why October? Because that’s the next time I’ll be taking an extended vacation.

Looking back at other ventures (like my trip to Norway four years ago), my writing blog entries only lasted for the first few days out of the trip because, well, it was taking too long. I can be long-winded when I’m speaking in person, but when I’m writing a story, it can take several pages to cover just one day. A lot of stuff would have to happen to make an entry worthy of that length, but it can (and would) happen. Writing several pages per day when I’m supposed to be enjoying going outside and experiencing what a completely different culture has to offer… it’s not worth the time and effort, so I inevitably fell off the proverbial wagon.

I’m trying to avoid that this time around. My mother got a new laptop, I bought a new webcam (that’s another story that can wait until later) and I’m hoping to put them both to good use. My initial plan was to write “e-postcards”: send people emails with a short video and possibly a digital photo attached. Cheaper than a postcard, I can say more than what I could write in a tiny space… I found some compression software that reduces the resolution of a video and thus reduces the size so a 30-second video might be 3MB instead of some huge amount of space that’s too large to attach to an email. BRILLIANT! (If you don’t think so, well, I’m not gonna send you an e-postcard! Pptbptpbptptpbtp!!!)

That was my initial plan: use the webcam to send people messages. Then after spending hours upon hours of surfing through YouTube, it occurred to me that perhaps I could talk about the trip on video instead. It wouldn’t be as detailed and I wouldn’t be able to constantly edit and reedit the whole time I was recording, but that might be a good thing in the long run. If I try to give a general outline of the day’s happenings in five or ten minutes, that’s a lot less time than it’d take to write a blog entry every day or two. (Time check: 8:33pm.)

I could come home and do a better job providing details, make the videos look more interesting and entertaining… stuff that requires more time and effort, which I would have upon getting back to the States.

So at this point, I’m looking at it as a time-saver more than anything. Record a short video at the end of the day and post them when I have internet access, which should be pretty frequently: we’re taking a scheduled 12-day tour for the latter part of the trip that’s supposed to be using primarily four- and five-star hotels. Good stuff. There might not be an available connection on the night when our room will actually be floating on a river, but aside from that, I might be able to upload videos pretty consistently while we’re there.

I’m pretty sure I haven’t mentioned where the trip is heading yet, but I might as well say where we’re going now instead of trying to hide the details for some future blog entry: Mom and I will be traveling to Thailand.

Writing this last paragraph, I’m already going back and forth about some details and word choices, which is pretty much the issue I always have to deal with when I’m writing blog entries and something I could avoid by recording myself with a webcam and posting that online instead. It might not look amazing—it might all be just one camera angle with no cuts or anything like that while I’m there—but hopefully, the amazing details spoken aloud will cover up that deficiency. If not, well, I’m really doing this mostly for myself anyway, so ptpbptptppbtptpbpt!!!

That’s my current plan: save myself a lot of time and effort by just recording videos talking about each day’s goings-on and that should suffice instead of trying to write a couple pages worth of material on any given day. I might do a little bit of editing, cutting and pasting and what not, but for the most part, I might be able to just go straight through for a couple minutes. If I’m lucky. And if I’m not lucky, it’ll still probably take less time than it takes to write and edit a blog entry.

Note that this has included very few details of things that have happened in the past. Not much in the way of stories, mostly just talking about plans for the future. I may have neglected to mention that the trip will last from October 23rd to November 13th, so I’ve got plenty of time between now and then to change said plans or to practice recording and editing video if that’s what I decide to do.

As a side note, it just struck me as funny that when you’re on TV or in movies, they always tell you not to look directly into the camera and you will get in trouble if it screws up a shot. (I was once an extra in a movie and the director got mad at me. The problem? The people he wanted me to look at were directly between me and the camera, so I was also staring straight into the lens. Oops…) Conversely, vlogging entails looking at the camera and directly at your audience. It’s contrary to everything I’ve ever been told doing work with video before, so it just feels a little odd.

But I digress. The point I’ve been making over many, many paragraphs is that if I record videos, I might delete one and record another if the first one sucks, but it shouldn’t take too long if I try to make them short. Blog entries? It’s currently 9:03, which means I’ve spent 47 minutes writing many, many paragraphs and not actually making a decision about anything. The question still remains: To vlog or not to vlog?

(Final time check after writing, editing, rewriting and reediting: 9:17. Sheesh…)

No pity for Television Without Pity

If you’re following my Twitter account or see my blog entries appear on your Facebook News Feed, you’re about to receive an onslaught of posts in the next day or two. My apologies, but there’s a good reason for it.

It started when I found out that Television Without Pity will be shutting down on April 4th. It’ll be keeping the old forums online until May 31st, but after that, no more TWoP. It’s kind of a bummer because the website earned a special place in my heart many, many years ago. And by “many years ago”, I mean “the summer of 2005 when Beauty and the Geek was on the air.”

My older brother Brent told me about the site since he’d created an account, started following what was going on and occasionally posted little tidbits of information about me. (There was never any concern about spoilers because I never told him anything before it appeared on the TV screen, so he found out how thoroughly I tanked the outdoor challenge at the same time as all of the other home viewers.) But when he told me about some of what people were writing, I was intrigued and started lurking on the forum.

Brent eventually revealed that we were brothers and people occasionally tried to milk him for information and/or insight. Not a big deal—he could write more than I felt comfortable doing because I didn’t want to breach my contract with the WB. However, that let to a really awkward exchange for one person on the forum.

First, I’d like to declare that it’s a major ego boost to read that someone had a sex dream about you and “it was nice.” Second, I’d like to declare that it’s probably really, really embarrassing to find out that the object of said sex dream read what you wrote. I can’t say for sure, but after someone pointed out that Brent was my brother and I was probably lurking, her next post was “oh fuck.”

But reading about how people saw and interpreted the show (versus what actually happened) was usually pretty interesting. There were some pretty insightful and intelligent people there, many of whom had my back when things were going in the toilet with gathering phone numbers and Scarlet chewing me out for a majority of our final episode on the show.

When I read that TWoP was going to be shutting its proverbial doors soon, I decided to go read through what people wrote oh so many years ago. Ah, nostalgia… And ah, sex dreams… I spent way too many hours last night reading the first fifty or so pages of the forum (that’s when they started writing about later seasons and who cares about those?).

Brent had referred them to my blog at various times, particularly after the 4th and 5th episode when I was ranting about what happened, what appeared on the screen, what didn’t appear on the screen, etc. Since people were discussing that, I decided to pile up some more nostalgia by going to the blog and reading those entries as well.

There was just one problem: they weren’t there.

I thought I transferred all of the posts that I’d saved on my hard drive. As I wrote them in the past, I’d copy and save them in a Word file, then add the date and title to a “Blog entry dates” file to keep everything in order. When I compared that list to what was on the website, there were two dozen missing.

If it was just a long string of entries, I’d understand. I was reposting everything on the new blog, got sloppy and missed a big chunk. In this case, though, there were maybe five scattered here and there within a span of about two months. I’m not sure what happened, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I’m going to fix the problem. I’m going to post everything that’s currently missing, change the publishing dates to their original dates and everything will be back to the way it should be. Order will be restored!

Thus, I’m going to be busy for a day or two and you may end up reading a whole lot of outdated stuff, but who knows? Maybe some of you will get the same sense of nostalgia. But you probably won’t have the same sex dreams.

I make writing blog entries way too difficult.

Yep, that’s the story with me and shawnbakken.net. I love telling stories and I love elaborating on said stories, including all sorts of juicy details, but when it comes to writing stuff down on paper (or typing on keyboard—using a pencil on my computer monitor gets messy after a while), those details can scare me off a little. I can tell a story in ten minutes, easy, but when it comes to blog entries, I might stop after an hour and be halfway done if I’m lucky. That’s how ridiculous I can get when it comes to fleshing out stories.

I usually lean toward something like “I saw water pouring from the faucet, then felt a warm sensation in my bladder as it released, the leg of my khakis beginning to adhere to my inner leg with moisture and a massive flood of shame rolled over my body” instead of just “I peed my pants.” And that’s not a story, it’s just a random example. Yep, just a random example.

So unless the situation demands it, I might want to rein myself in a little. If I ever get into another car crash (God forbid), I’ll take the extra time to talk about the intricate details, especially if it prevents other people from getting smooshed in their own cars. That was a big deal; that deserved a long entry. If something isn’t as big of a deal, I might want to at least leave out the part about the khakis adhering to my leg, which is still just a totally random example.

That would make it less of a chronological and emotional investment. That would also probably include cutting back on some of the editing, which could be painful for me: the Grammar Police can go fuck themselves, but when it comes to word choice and phrasing, I’m the guy at the firing range who’s willing to stay until closing time, blowing hundreds on ammunition until I hit the bullseye.

And besides, it could be enlightening for the readers as well. I’ll admit that there have been a few times I opted not to write anything because it was late at night and I thought no one would get the chance to read it, but seriously, am I writing this blog to enlighten the masses? Well, sometimes. Sometimes the world needs a reminder that Joe Bastianich is a total douchebag. Plus I’m sure the number of people who had ever pondered the existence of an entire cookbook devoted to cooking goat testicles increased exponentially. But for the most part, the blog entries are essentially a type of self-satisfaction. And if you can connect to the Internet with your phone, a type of self-satisfaction you can get in the middle of a department store without being arrested.

And I think that’s enough for now. Given that I’m trying to loosen my standards a little, I’ll do a quick spell-check, then let this entry stand as it is. Plus I may even go back sometime and finish writing some old blog entries that got started and never made it past… there were a lot of details I was going to add that would have taken me a long time to write, so I ended up bailing on them entirely. They might be entertaining, they might be enlightening or they might be worthless and merely take up space on the Interwebs (like there isn’t enough worthless shit out there already). But fear not: if nothing else, I promise that none of those stories involve goat testicles.

A new look, a new feel…

I’ve been neglecting the blog for too long, so I decided to give it a facial (minus the cucumbers—I don’t think they’d have a positive effect on my laptop’s keyboard). I just updated the features a little bit, trying to make it look and feel pretty… I don’t think any of the changes I made will cause the world to erupt in a ball of flames, but if it does, at least I didn’t waste any money buying cucumbers.

Is “bloggeryness” a word?

If it’s not, then I’m making it one.

Yesterday, I went to the main page and started scrolling down, looking at aaaaaaaall the months that I’ve written blog entries. I got to the bottom of the list and realized that the first month I wrote anything online was February, 2003. It’s now May of 2013.

The reason it’s not “my blog’s 10th anniversary” is that I’ve had to do some site-hopping. My first page was shawnbakken.com, but one day, the web service jacked up their fees, my registration lapsed and some other person or group jumped in and snatched it from me. I had to relocate. I opted to use Blogspot for a while and called it “(almost) shawnbakken.com,” but it just didn’t feel right. It never felt like it was “mine.”

I was eventually encouraged to use a new web service and found out that shawnbakken.net was available. Well, that seemed like a damn fine option. I filled out the necessary forms, paid a much lower price and got this site up and running in April of 2007. However, there was still one big problem: I’d neglected to save a lot of stuff from the old site onto my hard drive.

By copying and pasting entries from someone’s web feed and the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, I only lost a few things from mid-2005, back when Beauty and the Geek was on the air and I was at my most prolific. Dammit… I also lost hundreds of comments from people, but those weren’t nearly as important (no offense to anyone who left comments back then).

Thus, this site by itself has been around for about six years, but back in February—just a couple months ago—I hit my 10th anniversary of bloggeryness. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. And if you haven’t, I hope it hasn’t made you wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat too often.