Sunday, April 15, 2007

Now Showing - Richard Jeni's "The Gospel According to Vinnie"

Starring the voice and comedy talents of the late, lamented Richard Jeni.
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Best Of - The Fourth Hundred Posts: Bring It On!

Another of my mottoes is: the more you know, the less you know.

Invariably, this is because somewhere along the way there comes the sickening awareness that we can never know everything there is to know. Maybe you can deal with such a realisation, but as I said, it makes me ill. I am, and have always been, a militant know-it-all, and will continue to be. If I can't know everything I'll damn sure give myself a stroke trying.

I made my 400th post on 25 March, at the time when the seasons changed. In addition to the planetary ones, I have seasons of my own, emotional ones. In the winter is when I feel most British - probably summat t'do with t' rain. In the spring and summer I am almost entirely a New Yorker. Oh, I'll still watch "Little Britain" now and then in the warm months, fugeddaboudit, but I'm just as likely to be roaming around the alleys of Vancouver taking photos of grafitti or endlessly re-watching Woody Allen films. I only really feel Canadian in the fall, the only season in which this country is uniformly beautiful, a fact enshrined upon our flag which, after all, isn't green but red.

If the first hundred posts were about getting started, the second hundred about technical innovation, and the third about the delivery of quantity, the last hundred posts have been about improving the quality of the writing. I would much rather, now that I see how quickly these posts pile up, write fewer posts better than more posts worse. Much of my self-loathing arises from my desire to always be a better person than I am, whether smarter or kinder or fitter.

Being an inveterate reader, I've managed to absorb a lot of different styles of writing in my life, and it's that diversity I'm trying to reflect now. Unless there's a miracle, this blog will never pay me to write it. I could, however, make a pretty nice living writing (and/or taking pictures) for a variety of publications out there, much of it from the comfort of this very desk. The blog, then, represents a kind of portfolio of my capabilities, and will continue to grow to reflect that.

I'd like to thank all of you who read the Pop Culture Institute, whether you're a regular commenter or a diehard lurker. I've taken you down some dark corridors here, maybe lost a few of you along the way, but I hope I've also enlightened and entertained you as well. One thing is for sure: it's been my pleasure to do it.

My favourite post of the last hundred is called "Stanley Park Sojourn". Here it is again.
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Best Of - The Third Hundred Posts: An Exercise in Repitition

Much ado was made in the third hundred posts about establishing a routine. If need be, now I can publish five posts in under two hours (On This Day, a brief essay or editorial, a Spontaneous Brunette, scrobbling, and one YouTube clip), most of which I can do in between getting ready for work and making lunch.

This represents the greatest innovation since Henry Ford designed the assembly line, since there are times when life and work seriously get in the way of this baby big time. I also began to worry about issues like readership and revenue, even though both are where they're supposed to be for a blog as young as this one. My motto is: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

It was in this era (10-25 March) that I first wrote and edited a post on paper then typed it in later; I did this a few times in a couple of days, so I no longer remember which one was first. Since writing the posts is by far the most labourious part of the job, the fact that I can now do some of this either while at work or in transit has eased the time crunch for me considerably.

I was also able to show multiple episodes of series like "Mr. Deity", demonstrating the ability of a blog to entertain as well as inform. A post entitled "Comment Te Dire Bonjour" first showed me the power of clinging, lamprey-like, to the underside of a more powerful blogger, in this instance Joe Jervis of Joe.My.God; to date it remains my most commented upon post (with 9).
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Best Of - The Second Hundred Posts: A Compendium

Many of the innovations that have made the Pop Culture Institute what it is occurred between post 100 on 3 February and 200 twenty days later. These include the embedding of YouTube video on the 16th. In honour of those achievements, it is my honour to repost "Shoes", by Liam Sullivan, which has been watched something like 14 million times, most of them me and my friends.

  • YouTube Debut (07FEB07)

  • Of course, in those days, I still couldn't embed them, but I made my first upload that day. I have since upgraded the link, which I also couldn't do that day. I wouldn't learn how to do that until 11FEB07, when Seumas scratched out the instructions on an old receipt, in a single action changing not only this blog but my life.

  • On This Day (07FEB07)

  • I've always been a history buff, and in the current political climate, nothing beats a spot of history to remind us that there's nothing new, whether it's crime, sex, or politics.

  • Publishing daily (11FEB07)

  • The way to get a blog noticed is to produce a lot of content often, which has been my mantra ever since.

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Best Of - The First Hundred Posts: Quicksilver

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

(Originally posted 17 October 2006 (my 13th post), it represents the first technical breakthrough for me - namely the posting of photos. Alas, it would be many months before I learned how to make proper-sized thumbnails; I could repost this photo, but I like the way my template has cropped it, so I'm leaving it as it is. Hard to believe this was two days short of six months ago. I've certainly come a long way since.)
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500 Posts and Still Going Strong

Unlike the subject of the previous post, there is no disaster here. You may beg to differ; in fact, you're encouraged to. Just remember, no anonymous comments, and offline emails may be shared with the group. Of course, unlike those arrogant Edwardians, I'd never dare display the hubris to declare the Pop Culture Institute unsinkable either. I'm far too susperstitious.

Begun as the Pandora Institute on 20 January 2006, as a progressive think-tank with the mission to "let hope out of the box", the name and mission were later changed, but I'm unable to discover exactly when and where this occurred, though I may do so while conducting routine maintenance. I am still a passionate advocate for progress and hope, but within a wider milieu.

The 100th post was celebrated on 3 February 2007.

[100th post]

They say the first 100 posts are the hardest; if they don't they should. If they're actually not, they were in my case. I did a lot of soul-searching in that first 13 months, reading other blogs, tinkering with the tone and the range of subject matter in my own. Anyone who thinks a blog is built in a vacuum must only be reading Perez Hilton.

It turns out most of the necessary repairs were on myself. In this case (as in most), neurosis was its own reward, since by the 100th post the thing had pretty much jelled. Unlike Windows, I too had developed a more stable platform. So much so that the 200th post was achieved less than three weeks later, on 23 February.

[200th post]

The 300th post came on 10 March, following the decision made by me to try and publish a minimum of five posts per day. The entire enterprise also got more technically sophisticated during this period as well, as I gradually learned how to embed video, create thumbnails and links, and wrap text around photos. It was a steep learning curve, and feel I met the challenge.

[300th post]

On 25 March I reached 400, and by this point not only was it well underway, it began to feel damn near unstoppable.

Favourite features (On This Day, Spontaneous Brunette, Scrobbling) persist, as do features on royalty, sitcoms, and Vancouver. Others are tried and abandoned (Blog Fodder), in an effort to improve the overall mix. Though I consider myself an artist, I'm an entertainer first, and have long ago given up any charade that I'm not slavishly pandering to my readers.

[400th post]

Which brings us to today and number 500.

The road ahead will feature less drippy editorials about how much I hate myself and more shiny pictures of pretty things, as well as stories about those who've been left out of history. Having studied much about how a city like Manhattan brands itself, I will be applying these techniques to writing about Vancouver in advance of the tourist onslaught of 2010.

The next milestone to be celebrated, expected at the end of June, is the thousandth post. 600, 700, etc. will receive only tags, so I can find them when it comes time to commemorate number 1000. In the meantime, some of the archived posts may disappear altogether; others may be combined into super posts.

I'd like to begin reprinting the favourite posts of the past, as determined by me, which is not to say I wouldn't appreciate your feedback in this. In fact, many of the reprinted articles will be the ones receiving the most comments. Five such posts will appear today, as part of the celebration, in each case celebrating some pinnacle of technical or creative achievement.

Nostalgia is one of my favourite emotions, but no one could ever accuse me of being sentimental. I like to appreciate the past for what it was, not make a fetish of what I wish it could have been. In order to keep myself interested, I have to keep this interesting to myself. Also, it helps me to deal with the rut my life is in by decorating the walls of that rut in this way.

Henceforth, after the 1000th post, every hundred posts will also be designated only by tags, and a full commemoration will appear only every thousand. It is my intention to celebrate the dawn of 2008 with my 2008th post, a live-blogged party with photos, video, and surprises galore.

See you then! (Or not, as the case may be.)

michael sean morris
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