The history of this blog, and some links to others

Today marks the second anniversary of this blog, a project I began on a whim at the behest of some readers. Blogs were just becoming the rage in those days, and since I was no longer writing a weekly column, it seemed like a good outlet for my thoughts that didn’t fit in movie reviews.

In February 2004, however, I began writing “Snide Remarks” again, publishing it online for subscribers only. I immediately became wary of the blog: Why write something funny and put it in the blog for free when I could save it for “Snide Remarks” and get paid for it? Blog entries became sparse as I was less and less inclined to “waste” my efforts on it. I mean, I only get a few good ideas a month. If they’re all going into the blog, what’s left for the column?

To alleviate this problem, I briefly toyed with making the blog a perk for “Snide Remarks” subscribers, available only to them. With the blog viewed as an extension of the “Snide Remarks” experience, there was no longer a dilemma over where to publish whatever humorous content I managed to come up with. In the blog or in the column, it was now essentially the same thing.

However, the response to this move was so negative that I feared I would be pursued by townspeople bearing torches and pitchforks. I expected the non-subscribers to hate it, of course, and I didn’t really care what they thought. But even some of the subscribers were opposed. Some felt it was presumptuous to think anyone would pay to access a blog. I countered that they were paying for “Snide Remarks” and the blog was simply a freebie that came along with it, and that besides, it’s kinda presumptuous to think anyone would want to read your blog anyway, free or not.

But I got the sense that I had taken the name of “blog” in vain, that a blog, by definition, must be free, open and accessible to all, and viva la blog! I considered changing it from a “blog” to a “web journal,” to see if the name really did make such a difference, but the damage was already done. I made the blog public again and went back to my previous policy of simply never posting in it for fear of squandering my few “Snide Remarks”-worthy good ideas on it.

Eventually, as I settled into a comfortable rhythm with “Snide Remarks,” I was able to easily discern which items should be saved for that feature and which I could put in the blog without stealing from myself. The blog has also been a useful place to post my daily entries from the Sundance Film Festival, to make announcements about upcoming shows, to talk about new TV series, and to publish angry letters and e-mail exchanges with illiterate people.

Sometimes people ask what blogs I read. The answer is that I really only read those written by people I know. I’m sure that many strangers write blogs that would also amuse me, but I’m afraid of finding any more ways of spending time on the Internet than I already have. (It’s why I’ve avoided watching “Commander-in-Chief”: I hear it’s good, and the last thing I need is another TV show to watch.)

Hypocritically, then, here are some blogs of people you don’t know, but who I know, that I find very entertaining. It’s possible that if you don’t know them, you won’t find their writings funny. But maybe you will. Anyway, here are a few of the ones that are updated frequently and have a lot of good general, not-just-for-friends content.

The Jolly Porter, written by my friend Chris (aka Monty, father of notorious “Snide Remarks” characters Miles and Owen). Chris is well-known in some circles for being a master storyteller. And because the gods of comedy respect his talent, they are always seeing to it that things happen to him that will make good stories. Some event will befall him, and we’ll think, “Of course that would happen to Chris. It would be wasted on someone else.” Anyway, he’s also a good writer, and his blog’s archives are full of amusing anecdotes and observations.

The Craig Report, by my friend Ken Craig, known in “Snide Remarks” as Pants. (I don’t know why.) For October, he has shared several spooky stories of things that happened to him. Like Chris, he is great with a story and has several classics in his repertoire. I’ve known Ken longer than anyone else I’m currently friends with, going back to my freshman year at BYU, when he was in the original Garrens Comedy Troupe cast with me. When we get together, we usually talk about movies for a while, and then we remind each other of Garrens stories, like the time we were all at church together and Jason fell asleep and slumped over and looked really funny. (You had to be there.)

Downstage Left comes from California and my friend Emmie, who is such a close friend that I don’t even remember what her last name is now that she’s married. Perhaps I am in denial of the fact. She is a fine actress, and she also writes exceptionally well, as her blog demonstrates.

Hailey Track, by my friend Hailey Smith. Like Emmie, she is a lovely, talented and married actress, and also a fun blog-writer. It is also lots of fun to watch “Lost” and “Alias” with Hailey and Brett over at Lisa’s house on Wednesday nights, especially if you have a box of little chocolate donuts from Wal-Mart on hand. Then I moved to Portland, and “Alias” moved to Thursdays, and now life isn’t the same. So sad.