Will be reading this weekend for review….
Why isn’t everyone doing this, I asked myself the other day.
Well, of course there’s a reason – it’s kind of insane. One person can’t really go up against the huge media conglomerates. To publish a magazine – even online – takes money and time and people skills and other things most working journalists and freelance writers don’t have much of, as I know from experience.
Yet I’m still a little surprised to look around me and not see the Internet landscape littered with other on-line magazines published by my contemporaries and former workmates. (Maybe I’m just not looking hard enough.) When I started this blog, which I then spun off into an online magazine, it seemed like a bit of a no-brainer; then again, if someone had told me what a money and time drain it would be, and the chances of success (nil to none), I probably wouldn’t have taken it on.
All of which is a roundabout way of getting to the point of this post – that I’m taking the blog in a different direction.
Up until now it’s been a showcase for odds ‘n’ ends that I didn’t think were right for the site proper (that is, The Snipe). In fact the site developed out of the blog (The Snipe was originally known as Guttersnipe as well) and I originally wanted to keep it going as an adjunct to the main site. But since it’s become harder and harder to find time to update it and anyway, except for the odd Shoe Star profile, there’s not much I think belongs on the blog instead of the site, well, I haven’t been feeling very inspired.
Which is a long-winded way of saying that I now want to use the blog for what a blog is meant to be – something far more personal than regular journalistic enterprises. Usually on The Snipe we like to keep at least some journalistic standards, but on Guttersnipe I’ll be throwing all that out the window.
So what can you expect, for those of you still with me? I think one of the topics I want to discuss is editing and publishing a website. I’ve learned a lot in the two-and-a-half-years I’ve been running this thing, and I’m going to share as much of it as I can remember with you, the reader.
Which brings me back to, Why aren’t more working journalists and freelance writers online publishing their own magazine? The answer of course is, because most of them are too busy, or aren’t ego’d out enough to think they can make it work. They don’t have anything to prove, they don’t have a grudge against former employers (and employers to dense to hire them, haha) to inspire them.
I admit to all of these unseemly human motivations. However, I also remember fantasizing about having my own magazine (Vibe I think the teenaged me wanted to call it. Seriously). This memory is something that’s really only occurred to me in recent days, and though I don’t put too much stock in it – I also had daydreams about marrying Pat Benatar and being the last man on Earth, fighting hordes of vampire-zombies – it reassures me to know that at least part of my motivation originates at a time before all the other creaky motivations of adulthood crept in.
- by Shawn Conner
First, some context. This is a little late, since I lost my camera. It only turned up the other day, thanks to a thorough and long-overdue cleaning of my car. Anyway, while staying at my family in Winnipeg last month, I took a closer-than-usual look at some of the oddities that, mostly through my mom’s, er, taste, have accumulated over the years. Keep in mind; once in the house, no matter how bizarre the object may be, it probably will not get tossed out. Particularly if it was on sale when purchased.
Location: wood-paneled basement bedroom (my teenage boy-cave, since used by myriad other relations)
Reason: no idea, though I suspect it may have been my uncle D’s. He’s been known to suffer through myriad conditions and afflictions, including hemorrhoids and kidney stones. He’s since moved to Edmonton, so either he’s better, had another wheelchair to take with, or I’m completely wrong and my mom picked it up cheap at Sears. Just in case.
Object: old VHS tapes
Location: basement bedroom
Reason: My dad was the first on the block to buy a VCR. Unfortunately, it was a Betamax. It had to break down before he relented and bought a VHS. Since then he’s become something of an amateur expert taper (tapist?), flitting between the upstairs and downstairs VCRs to tape movies, exercise programs for mom, and probably curling. My parents favourite movies include Zulu, Lonesome Dove, and this one about some Quakers. I’m pretty sure the “basic Yoga” tape “for dummies” is my mom’s.
Object: Criminal Masterminds
Location: shelf, basement bedroom
Reason: My parents are fascinated by true crime. They’re avid readers of the sensationalistic daily, the Winnipeg Sun (although my father was always more of a Winnipeg Free Press man, but mom – who doesn’t read the paper – insisted on changing to the Sun ‘cos subscriptions are cheaper, or maybe she was offered a Basic Yoga VHS tape), and books about serial killers and gangsters. They love the Godfather movies and The Sopranos was catnip to them. Not being from a self-reflective generation, I doubt they’ve ever asked themselves the question: “Why are we so fascinated by this stuff?” My dad, whose Jewish, especially likes stories about Jewish gangsters, like Meyer Lansky. (They weren’t all Eye-talians, you know.)
Object: book, Scarlett
Location: shelves, basement bathroom
Reason: I grew up in a house with lots of books, but most of them were of the James Michener variety – bestselling historical epics. My parents’ taste in fiction still tends towards the pulpy and the potboiling (and true crime), as shown by this worn copy of Alexandra Ripley’s sequel (file under: who asked for it?) to Gone With the Wind. All is not lost, however – occasionally I can direct them to a book with (in my opinion) literary merit, such as Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men and Margot Livesay’s Fortune Street. By the way, Scarlett hasn’t moved from its perch on the bathroom shelf for at least a year.
Object: mouse… toilet-paper cover
Location: basement bathroom
Reason: I had real qualms about revealing this one… for about five seconds. In the end, bad taste won out. As described, this is a mouse (note the nose and whiskers) in a frilly dress with a bonnet. Lift it up, and voila! – a fresh roll of toilet paper. Either a gift, or bought from a church bazaar selling crafts by people in need of bingo money (my mom’s an avid player).
Object: canned goods
Location: laundry room, basement
Reason: Is this normal? Is it at least normal amongst my parents’ post WWII generation? Shelves and shelves of canned goods, as though stocking a fall-out shelter. If there’s an apocalypse, or anarchy in the streets, my parents are prepared. Although I think I’d rather end up a mutant than spend the rest of my days eating canned corn and Spam.
Object: flats of bottled water
Location: laundry room, basement
Reason: As you can see, my parents have taken to the bottled water craze in a big way. What is this fear of tap water that has been instilled in us? The last I heard, no one had ever gotten sick, never mind died, from drinking the water in Winnipeg. And why support a huge corporation like Nestle? Although, in full disclosure, when I was going to sleep tipsy every night, those bottles of water sure came in handy to keep by the bedside for when I’d wake up in the middle of the night, dehydrated.
Object: drum kit
Location: basement, or “rec room”
Reason: My nephew, Dylan, plays drums. Or he did – lately, video games have basically swallowed him up whole. What’s bizarre to me is that my parents – who adopted the 12-year-old nearly a decade ago – have encouraged this activity. More power to them, although that doesn’t let them off the hook for brainwashing the kid into liking hockey and curling. Even stranger, my mom – who never had much use for rock music – has taken to proclaiming things like, “the best drummer in rock music is [Rush's] Neil Peart,” a subject even I – a music journalist by profession – have no opinion on.
Object: toy robot
Location: rec room
Reason: Probably Dylan’s… heck, I may even bought it for him. Regardless, every home should have one.
Someone, or something – maybe it was The Onion – picked the Helio Sequence‘s Keep Your Eyes Ahead as one of last year’s best albums.
The only problem was that, after I downloaded the thing, I couldn’t get past the first song. “Lately” was just too good, an epic of denial in the face of emotional catastrophe.
But there’s more where that came from, as I discovered when I listened to the whole record while preparing for my phone interview last week with the Portland band’s singer/guitarist, Brandon Summers…
(What does Brandon Summers think of Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Frank Sinatra? Read the rest of my Helio Sequence interview)