Wednesday, May 20, 2009

perhaps an explanation is in order...

We've been MIA for about a month now, and other than the regular pressures of daily life, work, etc, there are other reasons behind this absence and perhaps I owe some explanation to our loyal Shelfers- some sort of idea as to what's going on in Uncle Loophole's blogging mind.

Allow me to begin at the beginning. This blog was started in September of 2005, just a few weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. I was venturing into blogging as something new- something to allow myself a venue to express my opinions and ideas; sometimes about politics, but mostly about popular culture and one of my passions, classic cinema. The blog grew unexpectedly and in short order, I was joined by my cohort, Wolf Flywheel. Wolf has been absent from writing on The Shelf for the better part of a year now, very much busy with work and family, but no less passionate about the things he essayed about here in these hallowed halls.
At the time there weren't as many "Classic Film Bloggers" out there as there are now, but there we enough to inspire me, challenge me and enlighten me. We wanted to increase the discussion and passion of classic film, and make the younger generation relate to it more. I think Turner Classic Movies and the Internet has done just that, and we have been lucky enough to be around and witness it happen.

We've also been lucky enough to develop a bit of a relationship with some of the wonderful folks at TCM and we've been able to promote and highlight their offerings in our own feeble way. We've even been fortunate to review classic and more recent DVDs from the kind folks in the marketing departments at Warner Brothers, Fox/MGM, Paramount and Genius Products. All in all, I'd say we've had loads of fun, and perhaps more than we really merited. After all, we are just a blog, not some sort of professional publication.

We also delved into popular culture and entertainment- discussing animation, television, our nations unhealthy obsession with celebrity and more discussion into our national psyche for good or bad. For several years we brought you the "media roundup" feature which we intended to highlight the best picks of DVDs, TV, books, music- generally all media releases of the week. It was time consuming, but great fun. We also contributed previews of documentaries on TCM, our TCM picks for the month and special Holiday posts looking at everything from television specials to candy. We've even posted about Old Time Radio several times.

This brief autobiography is not intended as self-aggrandizing talk in any way, but merely an introduction to the present condition and state of mind. You see, many times when I've come to these pages to discuss any of these things with you, I've often found a wonderful array of voices (many listed in our links or community sidebar) that have either discussed it or covered much of the same ground, etc. In other words- somebody else had beat us to it, and did it better than we would. I often found myself wanting more and more to just post a serious of links and say- "click here and read this! It's great and what we would say!" But that isn't much of a blog, is it?

You see, unlike 4 years ago, the voices discussing Classic films and much of the other topics we cover are many and all over the Internet. I regularly discover a previously unknown (to me) site almost every other week. And it's great. I felt like I was in a small community before, and now I feel like that community has grown by leaps and bounds.

So the question I've been asking myself more and more is- what am I doing? In the midst of daily like, work, etc- what difference can I make, what is the point of writing every week and what worthwhile statement or review or topic or discussion can I truly offer. Don't get me wrong. I love doing this, but things change. The media format are beginning to change, more towards digital download I believe. The DVD screeners, etc are slowing down, the TCM community is getting larger by the day- etc- and these are great things! So there you have it- what do I have to bring to the table. I guess I feel like the equivalent of the guy who brings jello salad to the church social: "More jello salad? Again?" (By the way- I'm not knocking on Jello). Even that old standby politics has become increasingly more visceral and less open to discuss. No one seems really interested in an honest exchange of ideas. And what's worse- more people are becoming less familiar with those ideas, period. Disheartening. We had a motto, oft repeated in the early days of this blog: Think for Yourself. It almost feels like spitting in the wind to say it now. And the question becomes- am I really thinking for myself? I don't know sometimes.

So I beg your indulgence. I don't think and don't mean to say we are shutting the doors here at The Shelf. It has been hard trying to do it on a regular basis by myself, but it also helps to have passion and direction: two things that have been missing lately. I have a few ideas- a proposal of a metamorphosis into something new; something I've been ruminating for a while. And I would love to include some of our great Shelf friends and fellow bloggers on this venture, but I must flesh it out, as it were, before diving in and proposing it.

In the meantime, I will try to post from time to time, although intermittently, until things have become clear. I will continue to maintain our wonderful collection of links to other great bloggers and our what's on the Shelf feature regularly. I would however welcome any criticism, suggestions or comments any of you may have, we certainly could use it. So please leave your thoughts in the comments section or feel free to email us at We will be back soon!

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

We've been in worst jams than this, haven't we, Hildy?


mel said...

J.C., whatever you decide, whatever you do will be okay by me. Post as often or seldom as you like. Just don't disappear.

Remember that your views are just as legitimate as anyone else's. And probably more entertaining than most.

All the best.

Colin said...

I think that what you're describing is a common phenomenon among those of us who maintain blogs. I know I've certainly had those "Why am I bothering to do this" moments.
At the end of the day it comes down to deciding on one's own motivation. I always have in the back of my mind the hope that someone somewhere will read a post by me and think - Hey, that movie sounds interesting, maybe I'll check it out etc. However, I'm aware that such things happen rarely so I don't dwell on it or depend on it happening regularly.

Ultimately, whatever I choose to ramble on about is done primarily for my own satisfaction. There are now, like you say, so many blogs and sites vying for everyone's attention that it's hardly surprising to find yourself thinking the whole thing's pointless. But it's not. If you're passionate about something, and have a comment to make on it then that in itself is worthwhile. Not only does it force you to think about a movie in a different way, but it's always healthy to see others comments/opinions on it.

OK, this is getting too long, but I guess the point is that it's no bad thing to step back and take the occasional break to re-evaluate your own aims from time to time - I probably do so myself about once a year.

Anyway, here's hoping you hang in there and keep punching - the web would be a poorer place without your blog.

Laura said...

J.C., I wrote some rambly musings last night but they seem to have vanished into the Internet somewhere; I must have pressed a wrong button...

In summary, I wrote that this seems to be a year of "retrenching" for many of us; as you know, I have shifted focus and am not writing many political posts these days.

I'm also looking at and mulling what more I can do with my blog; for instance, I've been interested in doing some sort of future viewing recommendations, as you have done in the past with your Round-Up, but I'm not sure I have the time to make it a regular commitment.

If it's any encouragement, I think the unique voices and approaches found at each classic film site, even when there is overlapping content, are very important. Going back to my earliest days as a classic film fan, I have always wanted to read as much as possible about films of interest, first via books and now also via online reviews and websites. I feel the classic film community will be a poorer place if some bloggers abandon the field and the available content shrinks.

Related to the above, I'd also like to hope that we are in our own ways building up the universe of classic film reference material which is available "out there" on the web for the long term. My movie reviews get hits years after they are written; I can usually tell what's airing on TCM on a given day but the posts which are getting traffic (grin).

My thought is that if I can provide someone a little additional info on a movie they've discovered, or cause someone to try a movie which they then find they love, then blogging about them has been worth the time and effort. (And in the meantime, hopefully I'm developing my writing what end, I'm not sure!)

Finally, I do think the classic film community which is building on the web, in and of itself, has value and it's a good thing to be part of it.

Hope you find the passion & direction you are looking for... Bottom line, whatever direction you choose to go, your online friends will be here supporting it...just do post enough somewhere, somehow, to stay in touch -- you're missed when you don't post for a while! :) :)

Best wishes,

J.C. Loophole said...

Thank you Mel,Collin and Laura (Laura- you've been right there from the get go, back when I was starting out- that means alot to little ol' me)
I really appreciate your encouragement and comments. I don't plan on leaving per se, but I think if nothing else, retooling is in order- maybe to get more in line with a vision of what I want to do. So I will be posting here, just sporadically- until the next phase comes. And I will be continuing to visit your sites daily as I always do.
I may be in touch with you guys via email about the retooling phase later on if you don't mind. Your input and comments are valued.

Laura said...

I'll be watching for your future ideas, J.C.! As well as any of your posts. :)

Take care and best wishes,


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