Friday, December 7, 2012

The Backstretch

Monrovia, California

Friday, December 7, 2012

Things can degenerate to the point of meaninglessness, or at least irrelevance, or at a minimum triviality.  This blog posting will be about my blog postings…again.  But I don’t do this for nothing, folks.  I do it for you, potential bloggers all, to help you understand what it is I don’t understand about the complexity of the nature and depth of blogging.

In the Northeast they use this phrase “Not for nothin’,” which as a sentence opener means something like, “By the way, no offense . . . .”  And like the term "no offense," it is often followed by something more or less offensive.  Picture a guy in a black banlon shirt, sans-a-belt pants, and razor-cut hair putting his hairy arm around you and saying, while idly scratching his crotch, “Not for nothin’, but when are you gonna quit writin’ that friggin’ blog?”  The use of this term is particularly prevalent in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut.  

So, not for nothin', but I get curious about who reads the blog, and why.  Each day, give or take, I check on my blog manager site,, to see whether anyone has commented and also which postings have been read lately.  There’s a “stats” option indicating how many people (if any) are visiting the blog at that moment, and how many have done so during the past day, week, month, and all time (which for my blog is a little over three years).  It also lists the top eight or ten individual postings that have been viewed and the number of visits to them, in descending order, during each of those time periods. 
As of now, the top five postings people have read all-time, or at least looked at, have been these:

The Naked Book Guy—January 12, 2011
An Orderly Lynching—December 8, 2010
Enter Rest Pray—January 9, 2011
The Black Death—June 18, 2012
Nixon Gratia Nixon—February 18, 2011

Each of them has been viewed well over a hundred times, and the bit on the Naked Book Guy has been visited almost five hundred times.  By comparison, most of my postings are seen a dozen or two times, tops.  And my list of official followers hasn’t grown, since very early on, by “an inch or an ounce,” to borrow a phrase from Yeats’s “Lapus Lazuli.” 

I still have a comparatively dim understanding of how the whole internet thing works, and I’m reasonably sure most folks are right there with me.  Maybe we all need to talk to Al Gore.  For me it’s like air travel—I know the jet engines provide the speed and thrust to get the big aluminum tube off the ground and keep it in the air, but I don’t know a hell of a lot more than that.  For instance, blogwise, I don’t know exactly how it is that people stumble upon some of the postings with the regularity with which they seem to do. True, when you Google “naked book guy” you get a link to my blog right up there among the first few items listed.  That I understand, I guess, because the actual naked book guy, Paul Weiner, is something of a celebrity in western Arizona among the motor home nomad types.  Okay, fine.

Likewise when you Google the precise phrases “an orderly lynching,” “enter rest pray,” and “Nixon Gratia Nixon” you get the links to my blog right there on page one.  The thing is, I don’t know what would possess a person to Google those words in that order in the first place, with no context into which to place them.  But evidently some of them do.  If you Google “Nixon” by itself you don’t get close to the blog; similarly, if you Google just “lynching” or “enter” or “rest” or “pray” you get lots of stuff, but no links to the blog.  And when you Google “the black death” you get lots of stuff about the bubonic plague, but no links to my blog.  I assume that like me, most people don’t go on to the second or third or fifteenth page when they’re doing Google research.  (I realize there’s also the possibility that people are using search methods other than Google, and that they’re getting different results on them.)

In terms of what people put into the line on Google or other search engines in order to reach one of those particular postings, there’s that cliché about how, if you put an infinite number of monkeys in a room with an infinite number of typewriters eventually one of them will write Hamlet.  But aside from being insulting to my audience, known and unknown, it doesn’t quite fit.  The appropriate image here is less that one—about probability juxtaposed with unlimited opportunity—than it is the cliché about finding a needle in a haystack.  It can be done, but the chances of doing it are remote.  Your humble monkey narrator has already written Hamlet, or “An Orderly Lynching,” or whatever.  The better question would be how, if Hamlet had never become one of the greatest pieces drama ever written, people would be able to repeatedly locate its lackluster manuscript in the midst of the welter of yellowing stuff lying around moldering on shelves.  Or why they would even think to do so. 

All this is by way of prelude to a recent phenomenon.  Over the past month or two the posting called “Another Coma” has been getting lots of hits—far more than any other—and is coming up fast on the backstretch to vie with “Nixon Gratia Nixon” for the number five slot.  In the past month it has received 77 hits, and 125 hits total in the just over ten months since it was published on January 27 of this year.  “Another Coma” was one of two items I wrote about the soap opera The Young and the Restless, the first of which was titled “Y&R” and came out the previous November.  That earlier one has received only sixteen hits.  Now, there’s a ton of stuff written almost daily about The Young and the Restless.  If you Google “Y&R” you won’t get any links to my blog.  By the same token, if you Google “Another Coma” you won’t either.  

“Another Coma” was mostly about the character Adam Newman, son of the patriarch Victor Newman, and featured a photo of him (or rather of the actor Michael Muhney, who plays him), which I cribbed from the internet and pasted into the blog.  But Google “Adam Newman” or “Michael Muhney” or just about any combination of words from the posting and you won’t get to “Another Coma.”  If you Google “Peter Teeuwissen Adam Newman” you get there right away, but why on earth would anyone do that?

So here’s my question to anyone out there who might know or have a theory (and I’m going to edit “Another Coma” and pose it there, too):  who are you people who are reading about Adam Newman on my blog, and why?  I know for a fact that Adam has undergone a considerable character transformation since I wrote about him last January, trying to turn over a new leaf after having been blinded and then recovered his sight, and has become a comparatively decent guy.  This makes much of what I said in the piece sort of obsolete.  I haven’t watched the show at all for a month or more, so I don’t know if Adam has been able to continue to sustain his new-found righteousness.  I suppose I should give The Young and the Restless another go, but honestly, it’s an ordeal.  As I said before, it’s always another case of amnesia, another catty cup of coffee, another chance meeting over martinis, another attempt to grab control of a business by people who wouldn’t know an annual report from a pedicure price list.

And of course, another coma.  

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