Bless this mess, then regress – January, 2014


I decided by happy accident that every 25th post on this blog was going to be a sanctioned occasion to depart momentarily from established conventions, to drop all the movie reviews, the concert reviews, the TV and sports ramblings and other somesuch, in favor of writing much more from the heart. I received a nice response in comparative terms to my own post #25, a self-indulgent but cathartic essay on the bludgeoning heft and occasional impenetrability of my writing called “Powder Burns and Uncertain Terms”. At the time, I was writing new posts at a pretty steady clip but, as is part and parcel of being a blogger, seeing no real indication that people were reading what I wrote. Some days, I admit, that thought brought me down; on others, it made me defiant. Most days I just plowed ahead with my normal routine, which sadly (for whom I won’t opine) doesn’t often include this blog. I’d love to get there some day, but right now the struggle of writing is something I feel intrinsically. Due to the standards I’ve embraced here – leaving aside whether or not they are good or useful standards, they are definitely mine – each new post feels a bit like wrestling a bear, and the effort weighs me down more than a little. I’m full of ideas with nothing ready to post. In some ways, I feel as though I’ve hit my first real “wall” as a blogger.

I know for a fact that some people besides yours truly read this blog, because they’ve told me. I’m immensely grateful for their (your?) patronage and their (your?) interest, even if the interest may be necessarily sporadic or qualified, especially since I know I don’t make things easy around here. My first official post on this blog (admittedly, an outlier) was over 8000 words long, and my workaday posts probably average about 1500. I cut my teeth reading the reviews of the late Roger Ebert and later internalized a lot about the style of review sites like The Onion’s excellent AVClub. I enjoy writing so much, but it can be exceedingly hard work, especially on a 118% labor of love such as this site, and unfortunately my orchard has borne very little fruit of late. As the old adage goes, paraphrased: nothing on Earth, including (and especially) the act of writing, quite beats “having written”. In order to get the most out of reading this site, with its LSD-laced potpourri topic list and scattershot scheduling, it really helps to be…me. Yeah, sorry about that.

In this respect alone – that of being me – I am Highlander. There can be only one.

Not to imply that professional writers don’t care about the pieces they produce, because I know that couldn’t be further from the truth, but it is precisely because I don’t get paid to write that my output is especially meaningful to me. I have three pieces underway at the moment, as a matter of fact, though they sit in limbo while I wait for further inspiration to strike. I also have three extensive feature ideas that I’m quite excited about, a few very likely concerts dotting my Summer schedule, and an arm-length list of specific movies I desperately want to see or revisit if for no other reason than to finally be able to talk about them. This blog has infiltrated my consciousness, for better and worse, and having it as a platform has greatly affected how I think about the art I consume. That doesn’t make the bear the slightest bit less daunting, but it does help me to justify fighting it again and again.

I have big plans for this blog eventually, and it may even slip the surly bonds of WordPress in time, however excellent a host WP is and has been thus far. In fact, that is definitely my long term goal. I want my site to be not just searchable but browseable. I want an archive of browseable movie reviews by title along the lines of the terrific Z-movie horror and sci-fi blog And You Call Yourself a Scientist!/ I want people to follow me or visit on occasion just to see if I’ve posted something new, for no other reason than because they like my writing and they like my taste. There are so many spots I enjoy checking out for just that reason. To think I might be similarly added to someone’s personal shortlist of sites is one of the highest honors I can imagine. And it’s realistic, I stubbornly insist on telling myself. Leave the grander designs for another day.

“First learn stand, then learn fly. Nature’s rule, Danielsan, not mine.”

“Bless this Mess, then Regress” is intended to be a monthly column wherein I link my favorite individual pieces from five months ago. Not a strictly arbitrary date, I originally envisioned the five-month cut off as a way to shine a last bit of light on my best work from the most recent month (in this case, January ’14) to fall out of WordPress’s charming, standard five-month “Archives” section, sort of as a final word and a cordial invitation for those inclined to dig further. Of course, after publishing this post, I saw that January lived still in the now-expanded “Archives” section. I’d rather not use that as an excuse to grudgingly delete the post, though. There have been several occasions where I got very far into a writing piece only to scrap it out of displeasure, but I do see some value here, not just in this lengthy preamble but in the column itself. I like digging into the vaults myself, on any site worth its salt, and I always have. I think any mechanism intended to make the process the least bit easier is worthy, especially given the Paleolithic search tools at your disposal otherwise.

The first month of darkadaptedeye was fairly insane for me, as I worked very hard to establish something of a site aesthetic and an authorial voice while churning out new content at a clip that would later prove overly ambitious, if not debilitating. I was enjoying myself so much at the time, even as I spread myself thinner than I might’ve preferred. I’d like to think that the work itself didn’t suffer. See if you agree. Recommendations include:

* Surprisingly timely movie reviews of three “Best Picture” Oscar nominees – Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity”, Spike Jonze’s “Her”, and Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

* The debut of my incredibly occasional TV column “DVR Hindsight”, the highlight of which was to be able to discuss NBC’s “Community”, one of my favorite series of the last decade and certainly the one I’ll miss most come the fall.

* My Top 20 Albums of 2013 list, the aforementioned 8000-word monster than was the impetus for me to launch this blog after years of playing cute and dancing around the subject.

* And, finally, the post that served as a sort of godfather to this whole endeavor, a woefully inadequate but heartfelt appreciation of one of my handful of true heroes, film critic Roger Ebert.

Friends, family, Romans, countrymen…I hope you enjoy. Thanks for stopping by.

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