Blogging Insights — What’s In a Name?

Blogging insightsFor this week’s edition of Blogging Insights, Dr. Tanya is interested in names. She writes, “The name that you blog under is the calling card which introduces you to bloggers and readers across the globe. Some bloggers use their first name and some use their full name. Others prefer to keep their identity unknown, blogging under a cool made up name.” And then she asks us these questions:

Do you use your own name for blogging?

Yes, my parents named me Fandango and as soon as I was old enough to understand what they had done to me, which was when I was about five, I killed them both. Can you blame me?

If you use a psuedonym, what are your reasons for this and what led you to choose that particular name?

This is my fifth blog and I’ve used pseudonyms for all of them, albeit not the same pseudonym for each of them. When I started my first blog in 2005, I worked for a very strait-laced, conservative company. I wanted to be able to freely express my liberal-leaning views, opinions, and perspectives on my personal blog without having to worry about someone at work stumbling upon my blog, reading my leftist, godless posts, and ratting me out to anyone at the company.

I had retired from that job when I started this blog in 2017, so I wasn’t worried about being “found out” by my uptight, conservative bosses. But I had been the victim of identity theft twice and thought that it would be prudent to not use my real name for my latest online endeavor. So, as I describe below in my answer to Dr. Tanya’s next question, I came up with “Fandango.”

(Okay, you caught me in a lie. My parents didn’t really name me Fandango and I didn’t actually kill them when I was five. That didn’t happen until I was a teenager.)

Is there an interesting story behind your User Name?

Here’s the story, but I don’t know how interesting it is. One of my favorite songs of all time is Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” There’s a stanza in that song that goes:

“I see a little silhouetto of a man,
Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?
Thunderbolt and lightning,
Very, very frightening me.
Galileo, Galileo, Galileo Figaro,

At first I though of using “Scaramouche” as my pseudonym, but every time I typed it, those squiggly red lines beneath the name showed up and autocorrect kept changing it to “scary mouse.” So I decided to go with “Fandango.”

I wanted to find an avatar to go with my chosen pseudonym, so I Googled “Fandango” and discovered that there was a computer adventure game from 1998 titled “Grim Fandango.”I’d never heard of nor played the game, but as soon as I saw the image of Fandango, I decided that I had found the perfect avatar for my blog.

Blogging Insights — Dreams Versus Reality

Blogging insightsFor this week’s Blogging Insights, Dr. Tanya wants to know…

What are your “dreams” regarding your blog?

I started this blog, “This, That, and the Other,” in May 2017. This is my fifth blog since I first started blogging in 2005. In April 2015 I abruptly stopped blogging because I had some personal matters to deal with that required my undivided attention. When I returned to blogging after a two-year hiatus, I did so because…

  1. My aforementioned personal matters had been resolved.
  2. I had retired five months earlier and without my job to keep me occupied, my wife told me I needed a hobby so that I would stop following her around the house like a little puppy.
  3. I missed blogging.
  4. I enjoyed writing and I loved to put my thoughts down “on paper.”
  5. I was looking for something (e.g., writing prompts) that would keep my mind active and sharp, spark my creativity, and trigger my imagination.
  6. My friends and family members weren’t that interested in hearing my constant whining and ranting about Donald Trump and his GOP sycophants, so I needed some way to vent.

I am a pragmatist, so even from the beginning of my first blog 15 years ago, I had no expectations of making money or becoming rich and famous through blogging. My “dreams” for my blog were modest. I would endeavor to write interesting, engaging, witty, and imaginative posts and hope that some of them might resonate with other bloggers.

Now, with almost 3,800 followers, and an average number of daily views (so far this month) of 650 from 220 daily visitors, my “dreams” for my blog have been exceeded.

Going forward, my hope is that I can continue to post regularly and offer content that entertains and engages other bloggers enough that they keep coming back to read, like, and comment on my posts.

I told you my dreams for my blog are modest.

Blogging Insights — Best If Read By Date

Blogging insightsFor this week’s Blogging Insights, Dr. Tanya has explained two terms that, in the context of blogging, are new to me: “evergreen” and “topical.” She explains that “evergreen” content is content that continues to be relevant long past its publication so that it always remains sustainable and fresh. “Topical,” or timely content, has relevance and significance for a limited period of time. So, to me, she’s asking about the shelf-life of our posts. Do they have a “best if read by” date?

Here are her questions:

Evergreen or Topical content, which do you prefer writing?

I have three broad categories for my posts: prompts that I host, flash fiction post that I write often in response to other bloggers’ prompts, and political posts. I would say that my flash fiction and all of my prompt posts except for “Who Won the Week?” are evergreen. And I like writing them all and, in all modesty aside, I consider all of my posts to stand the test of time.

On the surface, one might categorize my political posts as “topical.” But I would argue that, while they represent what might be a snapshot in time, that doesn’t mean that they have become irrelevant over time. In my Flashback Friday prompt, for example, I have gone all the way back to 2005, when I first started blogging, and revisited some of my political posts from those years. Although the people I wrote about back then are different and the events at the time I wrote those posts don’t necessarily reflect what is happening in our world today, I think they still represent a relevant look back at what was going on during those times and are reflective of my perspectives.

Which do you write most often?

I’ve been writing a lot of political posts during the Trump error (not a typo), particularly over the past year. I will likely continue to do so until Inauguration Day on January 20th because, no doubt, Trump and his minions will be pulling out all the stops to cast doubt upon the election and to tarnish the legitimacy Biden’s historic win. That’s because they care more about their own unenlightened self-interests than they care about the fate and welfare of America. I’m hoping that after January 20th, I will be writing fewer political rants.

Which of these adds more value or engagement to your blog?

I’ll have to leave that up to the readers of my blog. As they say, value and engagement are in the eyes of the beholder. Or something like that.

Blogging Insights — Tips Off the New Block

Blogging insightsDr. Tanya’s Blogging Insights question this morning, which was inspired by Jennifer at Paperkutzs, is simply this:

Can you share some tips and tricks for using the new Gutenberg (aka block) editor on WordPress?

Yes, my tip or trick for using the new block editor is to avoid it like the plague (or like COVID-19). I use my iPhone for my blog and in the WordPress app for iOS, the iPhone’s operating system, there is an option in the settings to NOT use the block editor. This allows me to craft my posts using what I call “classic lite,” a version of the classic editor that has fewer formatting features than the former classic editor I used to be able to use when I went to on my iPhone to compose my posts.

So, since WordPress imposed its block editor upon us, I have been able to avoid using it for my blog…so far, anyway. I’m fully expecting that, at some point, WordPress will also remove the classic editor option on its iOS app. And when that point comes, I suppose I’ll have to shit or get off the pot. Meaning, I’ll either have to reluctantly figure out how to “embrace” the block editor on my iPhone, or to just stop blogging on WordPress.

Blogging Insights — Sensitivity Training

Blogging insightsFor this week’s edition of Blogging Insights, Dr. Tanya wants to know how we deal in our blogs with touchy or sensitive topics. Dr. Tanya poses six question, the first two of which were from Melanie over at Sparks from a Combustible Mind in this post of hers. The remaining four are from Dr. Tanya. So let’s get a little touchy-feely, shall we?

Melanie’s questions:

Warning “labels”: when one is writing about something that could potentially be ‘touchy’ to some folks — Pros and cons

Personally, I don’t put warning labels on my posts. I suppose I do write posts that some might consider controversial (e.g., politics, religion). But most people who are familiar with my blog know that about me and I don’t see the point about warning people in advance that they might find what they’re about to read offensive or might trigger them. I find Donald Trump offensive and he triggers me, but I don’t see any warning labels before he tweets something or shows his ugly orange face on TV.

Censorship: is it censorship if one blogs ‘sensitively’ (aka soft pedals hard issues)? Should writers have to think of every possible reader their writing might touch, every single scenario where a reader might take offense and so on? I’m not thinking of blatant offensiveness (and what’s offensive to one person isn’t necessarily to the next one in line), but a general trying to cover all bases all the time type of thing.

It’s my blog and I blog anonymously. One of the reasons I blog anonymously is so that I can say on my blog what I really think and feel without fear that some redneck, far-right MAGA hat wearing lemming will pull out a pistol and shoot me in the head or that a God-fearing Christian will condemn me to eternity in hell because I’m an atheist. Do I think of every possible reader who my writing might offend? Fuck no! Should I? Fuck no! Should you? That’s up to you.

Now for Dr. Tanya’s questions.

Do you post about touchy or sensitive topics on your blog? If so, what kind of subjects do you like to discuss?

Yes. I post about sex, religion, politics, and whatever else crosses my mind. My posts can, I suppose, contain touchy, sensitive topics. When one is posting an opinion, there are bound to be others in the blogosphere who will be offended, outraged, or triggered by something I write. That’s their problem, not mine.

Do you respond to sensitive or controversial subjects in the form of prompts?

Yes. Why wouldn’t I? I even have my own weekly “sensitive” or “controversial” prompt called “Fandango’s Provocative Questions.”

Do you take part in controversial discussions as part of a comments thread?

Of course. I will express my opinions in the comments. But when it arrives at the point where either nothing productive will come of it or it gets nasty, I will let it go.

How do you think sensitive subjects should be handled on the blogosphere?

Um, sensitively? Sorry, I was being facetious. I think bloggers should feel free to express their opinions and perspectives openly and honestly on their own blogs. Others can choose to be offended or not and can choose to read or not read other bloggers’ posts. As I am wont to say, “Whatever floats your boat.”