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Category Archives: Weblogs, 2000-2017

So, it’s come down to this: I’m shutting down. Last month, my server got attacked by hackers, taking all of our WordPress-powered sites down. Although the site and its archives have since been restored, I’ve eliminated the commenting system from Scrubbles and don’t plan on writing any more blog entries. Like many other bloggers, maintaining this particular site for a dwindling audience got to be too much of a chore. quietly launched in 2000, and its heyday was in 2001-2003. Despite a lot of efforts to maintain an interested readership, the last ten years have personally felt like shouting into a vast, empty canyon. “Is anybody there?,” I’d constantly say – and no one would answer. Despite that bitterness, I’m so pleased at how my little blog came out. Better to have a readership, however brief, than to never have had one at all.

This isn’t to say that I’ve given up on writing or blogging. For the past 18 months, I’ve been busy at work on a book which will (fingers crossed) prove incredibly useful for a specific market. That exciting venture will be ready later on this year. After the hacking incident, I’ve also tried blogging at This time, I’m going to stick to a one-story-a-week schedule!

It’s been a wonderful, illuminating 17 years. Thank you. Is Fifteen Years Old screen shot, March 2001 (Via The Wayback Machine). screen shot, March 2001 (Via The Wayback Machine).

In the midst of filing Blu Ray reviews and preparing Christopher‘s next novel for publication, it crept up on me that the weblog has been in existence for fifteen years. Can you believe it? I can’t.

Back in July 2000, I was an itchy music reviewer and wannabe cultural critic with a limited web presence (basically a portfolio, a rudimentary “about me” page with a few links, and a monthly roundup of albums I was enjoying at the time). Weblogs were just getting started – Blogger had been in place for just a year at that point – and most of the existing blogs were tech-oriented or online diaries. Inspired by sites like Boing Boing, Pop Culture Junk Mail and Robot Wisdom, I signed up with Blogger and used it to set up a daily log of links, observations and ephemera to be housed at an address on my local ISP’s server (I think it was Using a rudimentary knowledge of HTML and CSS and the Blogger engine, the simple, Twitter-esque blog shown in the above screen shot came about. In those days, I remember hand-coding each month’s entries and manually including the archived pages on the blog’s sidebar. Blogger also lacked a commenting system (!), so I used a script authored by the fabulous Kris Howard at Blogging was that much of an isolated, fringy interest – but not for long.

The earliest topics at Scrubbles included things like obviously doctored publicity photos, the singing career of actress Tuesday Weld, and a strange hand-painted folk art sign hanging in my neighborhood. To my gobsmacked surprise, these ruminations started attracting an audience. Just a few months after Scrubbles launched, Matt Kingston of Hit Or Miss added Scrubbles to a directory of gay male bloggers. This introduced me to a whole bunch of great guys, many of whom I still consider friends. After the domain was secured that autumn, it started a flurry of posts, links, reading and reacting – I totally threw myself into this blogging thing and loved it.

As improbable as it seemed that the early actually had a readership, things really took off in 2001-03. In September 2001, my idols at Boing Boing added to their “Best Blogs” sidebar, an honor shared by just a dozen-odd others. The band Weezer added a link to Scrubbles on their official website. People started visiting daily by the hundreds, drawn in by links from other weblogs. I kept things fun, kitschy, thought-provoking, concise, interesting. Snarky, pop culture-oriented blogs were becoming more common at this point, yet stood out enough to even appear on several year-end Best-Of lists (yeah, that shocks me, too). screen shot, June 2004 (via The Wayback Machine). screen shot, June 2004 (via The Wayback Machine).

As fantastic as the heyday of was, I could already feel the buzz waning as soon as Spring 2004, when some of my entries were published in a book on blogs. Ironically, this came as I quit my job in late 2003 and was able to devote time to longer, more thoughtfully written pieces. It wasn’t from a lack of trying on my part. People were moving on to the next thing, however – post 9/11, the so-called “War Bloggers” had crashed the scene like a bunch of frat boys at a nerd party. Weblogs were no longer idiosyncratic musings on random ancient-history crap like mine – they had to be about something, dammit! Hey, the nice thing about blogging was that there was room for everyone. In short time, the new blogging paradigm was set – hyper-specific on topics, smoothed-out, preferably endorsed by a mainstream news outlet and maintained by a group of office drones. I did my best to adjust, but ultimately these changes left me out in the cold.

Although readership dwindled in the mid-2000s, I went out of my way to make my own quirky corner of the net. An update on the blogging service Movable Type completely hosed the archives up through mid-2005. The ensuing migration to WordPress served as an excuse for a slight reinvention. It ultimately didn’t amount to much in terms of resonating with an audience, yet this space was finally solidifying into what I originally envisioned it to be. Posts were devoted to vintage magazines and illustration, scans of printed ephemera, sharing goofy songs from the past, communicating joy at coming across something cool on YouTube. screen shot, February 2010 (via The Wayback Machine). screen shot, February 2010 (via The Wayback Machine).

Blogging still serves a fantastic opportunity for individuals to have a voice on the internet. flailed a bit during 2008-12, a time when most bloggers were abandoning the format in favor of quick, easy social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. I kept soldiering on, posting weekly updates on movies, television, music and books that captured by fancy. Nobody cared, which only made me frustrated and depressed. I took to Twitter and Facebook, shocked and surprised that some of the people with whom I was friendly with during Scrubbles’ heyday wouldn’t give me a second look. Many others were accepting, however, and for that I’m grateful – plus, I’ve made several new friends on each new platform. Because I have many thoughts that don’t fit elegantly in a status update or tweet, is still here. Perhaps it’s not updated as frequently as I’d like to (once a month, basically), but I’m happy with the obscure-book-sharing mojo it has now.

As for the blogging world in general, it’s less visible yet active as ever – industrious, clique-y, yet not too engaging (my opinion, of course). Occasionally I’ll come across an utterly fantastic, awe-inspiring weblog like Codex 99, but those are few and far between. For the most part, the scene has become something of a pissing contest to see who could out-geek each other the most. There’s enough goodness in the chaff to keep me going, however. See you for the next anniversary.

A Cabinet of Curiosities

Paul Steucke photograph of raccoon in tree, via Today’s Document.

If you peer at the sidebar, you’ll now see something that’s been absent from this site since 2005: a blogroll. Ever since the redesign, I’ve been wanting to get something in there that reflects the variety of weblogs I’m reading now. The problem with blogrolls, if course, is that blogs come and go and personal tastes never stay put for very long. For instance, it surprised me how many blogs I read five years ago that were devoted to junky pop cult collecting, a subject I can now only stand in small doses. Hopefully the sites linked here will stay around for a while.

The current blogroll is made up of personal favorites bookmarked in Firefox over the past year, things I’ve stumbled across at Tumblr via 4 Color Cowboy, and older blogs carried over from the My Big Fat Link Log 3 post of August 2008. The latter was pretty interesting, since roughly two-thirds of the blogs linked there are either abandoned or dropped (I suppose future historians will mark the years 2009-10 as the era of the Great Blog Exodus). On the other hand, it makes me admire all the more those who have been at it for five to ten years, or longer – thumbs up!

Maybe it’s the Pinterest/Tumblr influence, but great imagery is something I never expected to enjoy from others’ weblogs (some of which is shared here). Enjoy.

Photograph by Joseph Kelly, via Battered Shoes.

Book cover design by David Johnson, via Aqua-Velvet.

Photograph of teenagers in New Mexico, via National Geographic Found.

Shopping center architectural art, via damahadaman.

Bobby Hackett LP cover art, via Groove is in the Art.

A Redesigned

Hey there — notice something different? I’ve redesigned This is the first true sitewide retooling in five years. Although I still have some kinks to work out, I’m happy with the swanky retro-computer look we’ve got going here.

This redesigning process began about a year ago, actually, in search of a good WordPress theme. I’ve noticed that many of the popular and nicer looking WP themes have one element that works, and a whole bunch of other elements that don’t work. Either the typography is fabulous and the layout is lousy, or the sidebar is beautifully designed but the rest of it uses terrible colors. It’s always something. I was about at the end of my rope before coming across a gorgeous and subtle theme called Vanilla Cart. Top to bottom, I love it. For the logo fonts, I went with Eurostile condensed and Gala (which cost a lot, but it’s absolutely perfect — sometimes one has to spend money for perfection). I also brought back this weblog’s original tagline, which hasn’t been seen here since about 2002. There’s even a new cartoon portrait of yours truly on the sidebar.

Although I currently have about 80% of the redesign in place, there are a couple of issues with the CSS that I’m sending out a plea for help on. Specifically:

  • I have a kickass repeating background for the redesign, similar to the one on my Twitter profile — but I can’t get it to work. I’ve tried everything on this theme’s CSS stylesheet, but the only changes result in a pure white background. Any CSS experts out there who can help?
  • This theme also has an option for you to use your own logo — but when I tried it, the logo was positioned down at the white space above the blog entries. I want it positioned above the “Home” and “About Me” tabs (which is where the blog name and description are normally positioned if one does not use a graphic logo). How can I move it up to its proper place without screwing everything up?

Birthday Greetings

NineA milestone is coming our way, and for once I can make note of it before it arrives. As of tomorrow, Scrubbles the weblog will have been on the www for nine years (the domain was registered later that Fall). It’s hard to believe that I’m still scribbling away at this thing for that long. A kid born the same day as this weblog will now be nine years old. Huh.

Well, what can I say? Thanks to everyone who has stuck with me throughout the years. I’m a veteran enough to remember when the community was a loose free-for-all of ideas. I read a lot of different blogs, noted and linked to what I liked, and others linked to me in return. It was fun. Then a movement arose to make weblogs be “about” something (remember warblogging?), and I stubbornly stuck to just writing about whatever old crap took my fancy. Now we have insular segments of bloggers who stick to one subject and only link to other bloggers sharing the same m.o. I salute anyone who can do one thing and do it brilliantly and with passion — but having never gained a foothold in that world, I miss the old community.

Sorry to be a bummer, and I apologize if this weblog isn’t quite the exciting hive of activity it once was. There is a bright side. As long as there are quirky old cookbook illustrations or forgotten movies to write about, I vow to keep plugging away here.

Eddie My Love

Edward R. Hamilton Haul

I was going to post a blog entry today about how I rarely visit the pop culture blog Pop Candy because the author’s “look at me, I’m hip” photo makes me want to hurl, but this is a much more worthwhile subject. My Edward R. Hamilton, Bookseller order arrived today. ERH has a delightfully low-tech way of selling remaindered books. Yes, they have a comprehensive website, but after all these years they still only accept orders written down on paper and sent through snail mail with a personal check (no credit cards, no money orders, and forget about PayPal, pal). Falls Village, Connecticut must be a nutty kinda town.

It’s been a good four or five years since I’ve ordered from them, so I made sure to make the uniform $3.95 shipping cost count. The haul may become part of a mishmash in the future:

  • The Complete Peanuts: 1963-1964 by Charles M. Schulz ($12.99). Fills in an important gap, since I actually got the 1965-66 volume for Christmas. Yes, it really made me uncomfortable that I had one volume while missing the earlier one, so sue me.
  • Considering Doris Day by Tom Santopietro ($6.95). Although ravaged by customers, this critical overview looks fascinating. Every Day movie, TV appearance and recording gets a thorough appraisal. Potentially toothache-inducing yet marvy!
  • The Lives and Loves of Daisy and Violet Hilton by Dean Jensen ($5.95). The conjoined twins of Freaks and Chained for Life fame get their own sympathetic bio. Another fascinating looking portrait (which got a much better reception on Amazon).
  • Penguin Special: The Story of Allen Lane, the Founder of Penguin Books and the Man Who Changed Publishing Forever by Jeremy Lewis ($4.95). Good companion to the Penguin By Design book.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies by Jason Surrell ($6.95). Deals comprehensively with creating both the Pirates theme park attraction and the first Johnny Depp movie. Luckily the latter subject, of which I care not a whit, takes up only about a quarter of the pages. The rest is filled with wonderful concept art and rare photos of the Disneyland classic. Surrell’s similar book on the Haunted Mansion (ride and film) is equally nifty.