Olden Times

I can’t remember the first time I discovered The Stop Button made it on Wayback Machine. It was a long time ago, maybe when I was trying to pad out content moving over to Sandvox. Somewhere–at least back then–a bunch of the first Stop Button (hosted on jablog) exists.

I’m currently doing yet another site-wide overhaul of existing material on Stop Button. I finished up the internal linking project last year (or the year before?) and haven’t really had any projects going with the site, leading to a lot of failed starts on other projects. Zines, e-Zines, e-Books, e-Zines as e-Books, on and on. Leading up to a capsule project (which would have been a capsule e-Zine then e-Zine as e-Book). But one thing I’ve always had a problem with on Stop Button is the search result excerpts.

For example, if–until today, you searched for “Frankenstein Unbound,” you got:

I don’t like the auto-excerpt because I don’t write with ledes. In the olden days, I had a custom excerpt along the lines of “A review of Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound, starring John Hurt, Raul Julia, and Nick Brimble,” which I also don’t like but at least it wasn’t the auto-excerpt.

But then I got thinking about those capsules I was writing and I wondered how they’d look. So now you get:

Maltin-esque capsule, a nice “Continue reading->” link, not wild about the star rating being separated but whatever. It’s a “good enough” amid an “I like it.” I’ve got a bunch of capsules done, but it’s a multi-year project. Two years I think.

I’ve been posting them on micro.blog, but I’m going to start doing them on Visual Reflux too. I think I meant to post them on VR but then didn’t. Not getting any engagement on micro.blog so… who knows, maybe VR will be better.

Maybe not.

I’m also changing up the footer links on each post.

For 99%-ish percent of the site, the links look like this:

The update, which has <div> tags to make me feel accomplished, looks like this:

Post-specific links were something I’ve wanted since Sandvox–they might have been one of the deciding factors in going to Sandvox–and there’s a lot you could do with them, as widgets, in WordPress. But self-hosted WordPress, not WordPress.com. Back in the olden days, when I ran a local WordPress install on my Mac mirroring the web, but with some related posts plugins going to generate the list for me, post links looked like this:

At some point in 2013, I started adding “also directed by” links. Not just links to the “By Director” index, but links to actual posts.

i.e.:

While we’re doing this trip down blog memory lane… here’s the old header.

Peanuts-inspired.

I manually updated all those links every time a related post “touched” them. So when Alien listed Frankenstein Unbound in its related posts, I went and updated Unbound’s related posts again.

So much fun.

Here’s the 2014 header.

One thing I don’t know about these old posts links is whether they had styling; Wayback doesn’t preserve the CSS.

At least not for Stop Button. Maybe they do with better sites.

But, wait! Look at late 2014.

No links. And why? Because I went through every post and took them off. There had been an OS X (pronounced aa·es·eks) update and it broke whatever I was using to run a local Stop Button mirror. So I couldn’t make the related posts “automatically” anymore.

And then I went in and added the links again on all the posts. So much fun. Fiddling with a fifteen year-old blog is like line-editing a novel draft. It gets really old really fast, yet you can’t stop yourself.

The moral of the story? I should’ve done the Maltin-esque capsules in the first place.

When you’re starting a blog or website, know what you’re going to want it to be doing in ten or fifteen years and know how the web technologies are going to change. Otherwise you’re in for a lot of fiddling.

But don’t it look so much better now?

Younger selves

One thing I do now when blog writing is spend however long I want on it. The whole reason for Stop Button’s old 250 word count constraint and Comics Fondle’s 150 one was so I wasn’t spending too much time writing blog posts. I wanted to be quick at it. Not so much anymore. Now I just go. I don’t edit either, which would seem very strange to my twenty-one or twenty-five year-old self. I don’t draft and revise blog writing. I just write it and post it. There are fourteen year old blog posts I’ve been revising this year finally. Things I’ve collected in print, things with hundreds and maybe thousands of readers, but no one caught the misused word and cared enough to comment. I’ve got a couple of my core readers who’ll let me know if there’s any grammatical or spelling error too egregious but otherwise… I just let it fly.

I would have had zero respect for me. At twenty-one or twenty-five. Zero respect. Though I would’ve also had zero respect for any Internet publishing. I had no respect for any kind of ad-supported writing. I was an elitist about being elitist. Not an elitist’s elitist because… elitists were icky bad, but sort of anti-snobbery snobbery. Contradictions are great ways to get in personality and, for some reason, it really clicks with readers who have mild contradictions. Or at least have observed them. It’s probably also why (middle class White) people are so obtuse about people who vote Republican.

I’ve got my big writing day tomorrow. The most fun I’m going to have with it is probably the header image, though I’m thinking about some quote things. I’ve learned a bunch of fake CSS for WordPress.com lately. I’ve started a long-term Stop Button project involving it. Long term meaning at least a couple years. Last time I did a long term Stop Button project (on the same area of the post, actually) it took so long I forgot when I’d started it or even had it as a goal. This time I’m… just as disorganized. It’s supposed to be a fun project. Quick mental gymnastics. Some standard coding, some inventiveness, pretty columns.

Pretty columns also work for images and quotes, so maybe I’ll incorporate those tomorrow.

I actually have two blogathons starting tomorrow (and running concurrently). Not sure if I’ll just do both posts tomorrow and leave it or stagger them. Guess it depends on how writing goes, which I should be a little more worried about than I am.

It’s one of those posts I should definitely proofread and revise but I might not have time.

Again, this lack of good creative scheduling would rather disappoint my younger selves. Though, frankly, I’m constantly disappointed in them too.

Crashed

I’m two Visual Reflux posts behind (I don’t know why I went from one post a day to at least one VR post a day but whatever) so here’s another WordPress-related one. WordPress frustration related one.

Well, combination WordPress frustration and frustration at self one.

Last October, I made header images for all the indices pages on The Stop Button. For example:

I’d never had them on the indices for this WordPress theme because it gives the page title and the image distracts. Or is at least redundant. But for some reason I pulled the trigger on it (I think because I change the header image, getting rid of the collage, which was a lot of work and made zero difference to anyone including me).

I’m publishing the Genre index as I write this post. It won’t have a header image because I can’t find the template. I can’t find the template because I’m really bad at organizing the files I need to keep around. I can’t even remember if I did it in Affinity or Photoshop. I searched for the template in both formats this morning and came up empty. Unfortunately, I can’t keep looking because my home Mac has crashed in its MacOS update. Is this crash the end for my early 2015 MacBook Air? I won’t know until I get home. Maybe? Maybe not? I’d say it should be lasting longer but I’ve been running it as a desktop for over a year now and it’s never been happy with that configuration.

But yeah, don’t lose your image templates and–maybe–don’t run a MacBook Air as a desktop and update the OS remotely.

I’m not even sure I have the main header image template. I have the old ones around for sure (they’re all I found when searching this morning) but maybe not the color-matched one.

So maybe it’s time for new Stop Button headers?

Shortcodes

Apologies for the blog-geeky post. Not even Visual Reflux related blog-geeky.

I have a lot of indices over The Stop Button. Until a few weeks ago, all have them have been manually maintained. For about fifteen years. Well, wait. Going back to the first Sandvox Stop Button so probably more like thirteen years. Fourteen years? I could figure it out on the Way Back Machine but not right now. I’m going down enough of a blogging rabbit hole here.

Last year I started the “By Rating” index, which I’ve always thought about having but never put together. I got it together, then I never updated it because it’s not in my workflow. I have an Applescript to open up all the pages to edit. I don’t use MarsEdit for it because… reasons. Probably because I’d need to refresh the entire blog before editing the pages every other day. Fingers crossed there’s a post or page specific refresh some day. No matter what I’ll need to update the main index manually.

So with the ratings index, I kind of wanted to just get rid of the page since I knowingly wasn’t updating it. But it gets hits. It’s way more popular than the “By Country” index, for example. Only I didn’t want to update it. I didn’t want to figure out the workflow.

Luckily, shortcodes. WordPress shortcodes are these, well, short bracketed statements that, umm, expand to code?

For example,

Instead of that bracketed statement, there’s a nice descending list (by date) of all the posts in the Cult category. I initially didn’t like the display-posts thing because of a UX issue, then realized… The Stop Button is a hot mess of UX issues I don’t care about, why not have one more, which led to the “Index by Ratings” page updating on its own, then the “Index by Year” page, now I’m putting together the “Index by Genre” page. “By Year” is possible to convert, “Actor,” “Director,” are possibly possible; “Country” and “Series” are impossible. The problem with the last four is WordPress.com versus a self-hosted install. So I could automate Visual Reflux indexing to my heart’s content only… I don’t have any plans to index Visual Reflux.

I’ve known about shortcodes for years and probably use them somewhere on Stop Button already and forgot about it (maybe a video link?), but the display-posts one is working out. Automated indexing is awesome. Especially after fourteen years of the other way.

Best of luck on future projects

“I hate writing about great films. I absolutely hate it.”

From November 2005. Came across it on a project I’m not ready to talk about yet because I haven’t decided if I’m doing it yet. I’m “testing” the project, because it’s a big one and of questionable reward, even creatively. Well, maybe not. It’s kind of really fun, creatively-speaking.

But this post isn’t about why I don’t hate writing about great films anymore.

It’s instead the start of the drum roll on the podcast. Technically it’s all green lights. Anchor is so much easier than GarageBand and Levelator and FaceTime and Skype and Audio Hijack and so on. I’m not sure when the first episode will be released, though we’ve got the recording scheduled. It’s kind of amazing how well Anchor works.

At least for recording. The whole posting the podcast thing… we’ll see. I’m going to run the first episode at least in the Comics Fondle Podcast stream. I’d run it in the Best of Alan Smithee and Stop Button Favorites too but I’m not sure how I was publishing them. Through WordPress somehow, but maybe through FeedBurner too? I don’t really want to go back and figure it out, since I’m pretty sure listenership on the old stuff has fizzled.

Oh, wow, Anchor may have stats I don’t need to comb through AWS logs to calculate.

I’m sure I’ll be more excited when I’m not trying to figure out how to get rid of clicks. I took the more “hobbyist” route with Visual Reflux (self-hosted versus WordPress) but as an extended try-out. It all may change next year. The site went out last weekend, which wasn’t cool. One of the big reasons I moved Stop Button to WordPress.com was because the site kept going down and GoDaddy seemed unable to fix the problem or guarantee their fix was going to work.

The other big reason was because the company is owned by terrible white people and we all need fewer terrible white people in our lives.

But it never occurred to me, in 2019, to try and self-host another podcast. No thanks. There’s an app for that.

Other site news… the Punisher MAX proper readthrough is starting soon. For my made up word, readthrough, do I want to hyphen or not. Read-through or readthrough. The former at least doesn’t give me red lines.

And I’m going to do a MCU ranking post after Endgame because Fiege totally said it was the end of Phase Three and is now walking it back but whatever. He also said Infinity War was standalone. It is, of course, just not how he meant.

I haven’t gotten any Marvel movie-related hate comments since the first Avengers so fingers crossed I at least get one?

Fine Jetpacks

Visual Reflux had some down time this weekend. Not relaxation time but server out time. It’s been a while since I’ve had a blog with a server in despair. WordPress.com is real stable. It’s frustratingly limited but it’s real stable. I’m basically running VR self-hosted just to see if it matters at all. So far it doesn’t. I’ve done some CSS tweaks but it’s not like I’m willing to put in the rest of the work on google ads or even google analytics. The far less informative JetPacks are fine.

I’m really behind on my daily posts, but since I’ve given myself the makeup post later on, it’s not a stresser. VR is all about stress-free blogging. Lots of it, but without pressure. Letting blogging pressure was always one of my big problems over the years and I wasn’t even considering it Serious writing. And it’s nowhere near as serious as I used to be but I also needed to chill the fuck out on some stuff.

VR is supposed to be more balanced.

We’ll see tomorrow with the Eltingville Club and the Stop Button link post.

Mirrors Mirrored

Today I decided to also fold Summing Up into Visual Reflux. Until today, it hadn’t really occurred to me. One about the seven to ten blogs I’ve started after starting The Stop Button in 2004? I didn’t name the most successful one. Comics Fondle . I didn’t name it. I didn’t name Visual Reflux. I collaborated on the Visual Reflux name but the idea wasn’t mine. Only Stop Button, Summing Up, and Televisual Feast were my names. And that carried over, initially, to how possessive I was going to be of Visual Reflux. However, after going back and forth on where to host the site, on how to host the site, on how to get SSL to work, and now how to get the RSS feed secure enough, I’ve gotten possessive of Visual Reflux.

And so into the fold goes Summing Up. Leaving The Stop Button and my Micro.blog. The Stop Button will not be a direct mirror on Visual Reflux. I’m not sure today what kind of mirror it will be. It might be the best movies I watch, might be the contemporary movies, might be recently released on home video movies, might just be a post I enjoyed writing, probably be some kind of combination of those categories. Though it was hard to talk about Captain Marvel, which I posted on Reflux early. It’s gotten hard to talk about the Marvel movies if only because the concept of soulless franchise movies succeeding is very strange. Thanks, Disney, I guess.

Depending on how the cross-posting works, I may litter the Internet over on Televisual Feast. Comics Fondle will have cross-posting for the foreseeable future. It makes the most sense for what I’m doing right now… Conglomerating. Now I just need to figure out what my word count targets for Reflux.

I think, as far as movie posts go, I’ll be only doing positive cross-posts. I’ve been thinking about maybe doing “flashback” posts to old movie posts, but moving all the sites’ histories over opens a can of worms best left closed. Every time I’ve done an archive or a post collection, I’ve gone through those first year or so posts of Stop Button when it was on jablog and it just doesn’t fit with what comes afterwards. While Visual Reflux isn’t going to be so worried about “fitting,” it is going to be my 2019 writing project. Principally.

Now I have the RSS feed working, anyway.