30 April 2014

THE RETURN OF THE URANIUM CAFE/A CATHARTIC ESSAY

It has been about a year really of struggling with to blog or not to blog. While not a totally fruitless year it has been my driest period since I began movie blogging and blogging in general about eight or so years ago when I was in Beijing. After much  soul searching I have decided I am ready to return to writing but there will be changes in my attitude towards it all. I have had to wrestle with a few issues, not the least being my own ego and expectations from what I expected to get from my blogging endeavors. So as I sit back with a late night cup of packaged Thai coffee and listen to the 25th Anniversary Edition of the Blade Runner Soundtrack (almost the only album I listen to when I write with some Eno or Tangerine Dream now and then as well) I will touch on these matters briefly as a means of catharsis and then move on to do blogging with a a new and improved Zen like attitude. But I do not want that Zen like attitude to keep me from making note of the fact The Uranium Cafe finally broke the one million views mark!

I will have to first admit that I struggled very hard to maintain this blog in one form or another. I feel I truly I lost something recently, a year or so ago, in terms of my fighting spirit. Some of you may know of what I speak and others may not. The bottom line is I try to run this blog from China, where Blogger, along with every other blogging platform, is blocked. I do everything using a paid for VPN service (if you do not know what a VPN  is then you probably live in the USA or England) or various types of proxies that are not easy to configure and maintain. I find a combination of a VPN and an http proxy (I use one that is set up in the Google App section of one's Google products, called a GAE proxy). It took me seven days to figure this out. What is a GAE proxy? Why torture yourself with even knowing about this stuff. Move on with your lives. But I live in China where they just banned The Big Bang Theory TV show from the streaming TV sites here. No reason had to be given or questions answered. I found out that these shows actually are not typically pirated and the streaming networks in China in China pay as much as 150,000 an episode to use them and advertise legally over them. Does that matter to the paranoid, authoritarian commie government? No. So why would my measly blog matter. In the end I have had times of sheer frustration with the net here and have had to teach myself to step back and let it go. In the end there is more to life than the Internet.

I have also learned that the Internet is a fickle and cruel world at times, and like nature itself it moves in a way that is often contrary to my personal needs and dreams. The commie suppressed net and the Great Firewall are one thing, but  the world of things like Google is another all together, where blogs and data just vanish for a myriad of reasons or no reasons at all. One example; I have also spent the last year learning lots of recording software and recording original music, some of which I share here at the Uranium Cafe now. Why did I start doing that? Putting my music here at my movie site? A couple reasons really, but one was that I had set up an account with a place (I will not give the name as to avoid endorsing or damning it) and had uploaded about 50 pieces of music. That is right, about 50. Some were short experiments and samples, but still took work. One day I went to log in and found my entire account was gone. When I finally got a hold of the guy who runs the site he checked into it all and told me my account was not deleted, but that it is a rare glitch or bug in the server or system. It is like one chance in thousands, but the computer erased my account and all data and there was no back up. I could go on with stories like this and about jihadist hackers and shady hosting services over the years. Suffice to say, you may have an account or blog today at some site, including Wordpress or Blogger, but you may wake up tomorrow and no longer have it. And that site may have been the world to you but it is small beans to the people who run those places and the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousand of blogs they host for free or for pay. And I know, paying does not make your site any safer or backups anymore insured. Again, I had to learn to let it go. Just to enjoy my regular life.  All of this can affect your moods and outlook. 

Another issue, and this is embarrassing to talk about in some ways, is that I tired to get a little involved with other people projects and even have some people get involved with mine. Well, as far as I am concerned all of that is a total joke and my temperament may not be cut out to be a truly "social" blogger, which is a bit of an oxymoron if you think about it. I barely ave any connection with my real family or old friends on places like Facebook, much less somebody else whose only connection with me is we both like Night of the Living Dead or something. Beleive me I am far from perfect, but I found out the hard way a lot of people who run similar movie blogs are nothing short of dumbass dickheads who believe their blog projects are so much different and better than everybody else's. I will leave it at that and not name blogs or bloggers. In the end I am creatively sensitive and it is why I work with music alone and not with other people.So I will simply not waste my time, and other people's, with these goofy group projects that in the end are self-serving. It is when my self-serving goals begin to clash with somebody else's self-serving goals that conflicts arise. In the end I have to accept I will never be the tallest midget in the circus and there are not only midgets taller than me by many centimeters but who wear platform heels to falsely boost their height.

As life has gone on for me I have come to realize that things we were once passionate about do not always maintain their fire and zeal for us. We are sometimes left later with a strange feeling of "why don't I ( ___ fill with something you were once passionate about here____ ) anymore?" It can be healthy to let old passions go or to learn to moderate them in some way. I used to be passionate about drinking and now have not drank in eight years. Or it is nine? I forget. I miss it sometimes, but I simply never imbibe as it is not good for me to do so. But I used to also draw passionately. I was an art student and often spent hours and hours a day drawing. One day I stopped. Well not all in one day, but over time. I would say that other than doodles I have not drawn in almost 20 years. I am ambivalent about it and have thought a lot about it. There was a lot of pressure that came with artistic talent for me. I was not the type of person really who was going to make lots of money with art no matter how talented I might have been. I am easy to take advantage of and easy to have my feelings hurt. I reached a place where it was too much work for me and my eyes began to get worse as well. In fact why don't I post a couple old drawings from back when I was doing that sort of thing:


There you go. Lots of hard work and it all meant something to me. It was important to me to do those types of things and to try and get better at it, whether I got any money for it or not. Not that I am above money. I love money. I will kill for money, and in fact I have. But I am not a business minded person and that is that. I had no idea how to make money at drawing or anything and I soon got tired of people making odd comments about how I was wasting my life and such and such. "Oh you can draw, you should be a millionaire!" type shit. I began less and less to show people my work until I stopped altogether and soon simply stopped working . It was a struggle and to this day I still have issues with stopping my art. But I did.

I am in many ways a creative person and I need some sort of outlet for my fertile and sometimes twisted imagination. For me blogging has become an outlet and maybe substitute for not drawing. Soon I began working with music recording and that too has become an important outlet for me. The blogs I maintain take lots of work and the songs I make do as well. It can be grueling and tiresome and yet I find the potential lack of pay off less painful for me than with art. I enjoy writing and I miss it. There may be a day where I draw again but not I that style I put up above. Maybe brush and ink and watercolor. Maybe or maybe not. But one thing that inspires me is the net, and the chance to potentially share artwork, the way I now can share writing and  music.

And with all of that I find myself wanting to get back to blogging, but just blogging for the sake of blogging itself. No comments are suddenly okay. No praise from "peers" is okay. I do not give them anymore so it is all equal I guess. I will blog regardless of how many visits from the Ukraine I get in a day's time, and a sign of success will be if a person adds me to their blogroll somewhere. I do not wish anymore to be part of any community (though I am honored to be part of The League of Tana Tea Drinkers and thank John C. for all his work and dedication over there) or work with other people in mutually self-serving ways. I just want to do what I set out to do here (and at my other movie site Necrotic Cinema) and that is write about horror and cult movies. That is it. I am happy to be a small fish in the blog sea and I will be sharing my music projects and ideas here (and at my pulseless music site Miasma Inc. as well). I will admit that if I began to draw again I would be happy and if I do I will start a category for that here as well. I do not know though. But I have been watching lots of drek and do not know where to begin, but I can finish up that review of Daughters of Darkness I have been sitting on for a couple months. So lets get on with things and move on from the murky mire of the past.






5 comments:

msmariah said...

Glad to see you back. It sounds like you've had one heck of a year. I think you touched on a lot of things that bloggers go through periodically. However, I will say that 1 million viewers is an accomplishment for a blog. I've been blogging since 2008 and I'm still no where near that.

On another note I had no idea what you were dealing with in China. I didn't realize that blogger was outlawed there.

Keep up the good work. I know that you may not be a social blogger, but I do find that encouragement from other bloggers helps me. From one blogger to another we know what each other go through.

Best wishes.

Pappy said...

Bill, your post expressed very well the frustrations of blogging and the expectations and realizations of putting your work out before the public.

Like you, I am an artist who quit about twenty years ago. I did cartoons, not "serious" illustrations, and was popular with a small group of like-minded people, but in the end who really cared? Every once in a while I look at my portfolios, stuffed with drawings and think of how much time I put into them and how little they got me in return. It's kind of a crass way to speak of it, because after all, isn't the "art" the most important thing? Well, no, not if I knocked myself out for 8 to 12 hours on a comic page and only a few people saw it, and far fewer commented.

When you mentioned a blog could be gone tomorrow it sent a chill through me, because of my experience with Photobucket, where I linked to my scans of comic book pages for Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine for the first couple of years I did the blog. I was paying them extra for more storage, but then I stopped and all of a sudden many of my blog postings from 2006 and 2007 started appearing with Photobucket icons instead of links, meaning I was cut off. Luckily I had saved those pages to a separate file and have been painstakingly restoring what is missing, but it is a huge job and at this point I wonder if it even matters.

I also admire you for maintaining your connections despite doing it from China.

When I started my blog it was because I wanted to say something, and to share something. Like everything else I've attempted it has gotten some mixed results. But really, I think of blogging as being real freedom of the press to say what I want...as long as the servers are up, and if something doesn't happen to make some guy at Blogger.com hit the wrong button and send my blog into some blog black hole.

Hellbilly Hollywood said...

Regardless.. glad to have you back.

Paul said...

Great drawings.

Bill D. Courtney said...

Paul: This is NYC artist Paul? Glad to hear you like them.

Hellbilly: Right. I needed to unwind a bit, but now it is time to get back to work!

Pappy: Yes, I know your site. It is one I actually click on when I see an update on my blogroll. I know Photobucket issues. They may ahve changed, but it used to ebh you had to log in once every 90 days or they delted everything, and then there was bandwidth limitations as well. I used to use it when I was ripping movies and hosting them at places liek Cinemageddon. I think I upped like 80 movies there and I used PB for my image hosting, but byt the end of each month I would get those image things too. They may have fixed some of that, not sure, and made theior free service a bit betyter. I chceked earlier and seems all my stuff is still there.

One thing I found out about Google/Blogger is that things like Youtube, Picass and Blogger are called products. They can remove your product for some perceived violation, and once gone it is gone forever on that account and you cannot use the domain name again. If you have 8 blogs and one violates some Google policy then they remove your Blogger product -ALL your blogs- and you will not get them back. And we do these site were we often host images and even videos. But just back up yuour blog now and then. I think I will do that later. Probably will not happen, but if you read the Google/Blogger support forums it does. Keep up the great owrk there and I relate to your comic book drawing struggles too. As you can see I did a comimc book style. Almost a Ralph Reese style in ways. did panales too, and in the end it wore me out. Maybe can get back to something totally new before I die.

Ms Mariah: I am a social person I think, but I found I was not suited to do work with others online. I set up a blog for contributers and gave up on it but I am not talking about that site. I mean some collaborations here and there with people who feel I have to have the attitude I am getting paid like a Time magazine reporter for helping their blogs stay afloat. They take things way to seriooulsy abnd I was treated pretty rudely by taller midgets. Totally not necessary, but I know their are wonderful people out there too doing wonderful blogs, so I shold not focus only on the negativwe stuff. Thhanks for your words and congrats.

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