Changing My Tune

By Shamus Posted Thursday Aug 21, 2008

Filed under: Personal 36 comments

Over the past few weeks – when the tone of the site swung from “a little feisty” to “openly antagonizing and feral” a lot of people pointed out I was starting to sound like Yahtzee. It’s nice to know I was entertaining, but was sort of frustrating how far I’d strayed from the intended voice of the site. One of my goals for this place was low-key and thoughtful. (Unless, of course, we’re talking DRM, in which case it’s fire-and-brimstone all the way. This should go without saying.) If I’d wanted to sound like anyone, it would have been James Lileks.

He’s the MacGyver of essayists. Sure, any dolt can bang out 1,000 words on Can You Believe How Crazy It Is Raising Kids These Days? Lemme Tell Ya. But Lileks can start a post armed with nothing more than a coupon for a free 6″ sub and still manage to amuse the reader. Watching him turn the incidental into the insightful is like watching a magic trick. You could lock the guy in a dark empty room for 24 hours, and when he came out he’d tell you stories about the place that would make you wish it’d happened to you.

I do not expect to turn the banalities of my existence into blog posts anytime soon, (aside from the rest of this sentence) but I do hope that things will perk up here now that I’m no longer stuck indoors, sick, wasting away in the dark like Gollum with the One Ring. I don’t need to be Yahtzee, since Benjamin Croshaw has that gig covered.

Later today: A return to form with a review of a twelve-year-old strategy game.


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36 thoughts on “Changing My Tune

  1. Factoid says:

    Just wondering: Back when the site first started on the way to crankypantsville, you had a couple hard drives die on you. Did you ever get the data recovered or was having to play catch-up on Stolen Pixels another factor in what will surely be recorded in the annals of internet history as “Shamus Young’s Blue Period”?

  2. guy says:

    which twelve year old stratagy game?

  3. Shamus says:

    I did recover most of the really crucial data. I saved all the comics. (Although, ironically, I cut some of them in the end.) Some of the data is still in limbo, and trying to recover that is on my to-do list.

    The whole thing began with my health going bad. Then a keyboard died. Then my secondary HD. Then my primary HD. Then on top of my health problems I got the flu or whatever.

    So yes, the bad mood was a mixture of factors. Now my health is better and the data is saved. Life would be sunshine and lollipops if I could just get caught up again. :)

  4. General Karthos says:

    It’s spelled “Gollum”.

  5. Deoxy says:

    Life would be sunshine and lollipops if I could just get caught up again.

    For humor’s sake, we’d all better hope THAT doesn’t happen!

    Of course, for everything else’s sake, we should all pray that it does. :-)

  6. Ambience 327 says:

    “Gollem with the One Ring”

    Once is understandable, twice is inexcusable. It is Gollum, not Gollem! :)

    Also, maybe I’m missing something, but where on that link you gave does he mention anything about a 6″ sub coupon?

  7. Shamus says:

    I have used the name “Gollum” seven times in the history of this site. And I have misspelled it wrong and had to go back and fix it Every. Single. Time.

  8. Shamus says:

    6″ sub link: Fixed.

    I said I was in a better mood: I said nothing about my competence.

  9. mark says:

    I’m pretty sure you got that link to the free sub post wrong. its the same as the first link to his site…

    edit: I’m 2 minutes too slow. you ninja, you.

  10. Jeremiah says:

    I only read the Subway story that you linked to so I don’t know how representative that is of his posts, but just comparing that post I far prefer your writing style, Shamus.

  11. henebry says:

    As long as we’re all serving as copy editors, “He's the MacGuyver of essays” should probably read “He's the MacGuyver of essayists,” since Lileks is a guy who writes essays and not himself an essay. Alternatively, “He's the MacGuyver of writers.”

    Thanks for linking me over to read Lileks, by the way. I’ll consider adding him to my reading list. Very impressive, just as you say.

  12. GAZZA says:

    Man, I thought it was better than ever the past few weeks. No accounting for tastes I suppose.

  13. Teamdest says:

    Glad to hear you’re feeling better, Shamus. Any chance we’ll be getting some D&D posts soon? I’ve been reading through your campaign again but you tend to have interesting views on actual RPGs, whereas as much interest as I have in your videogame posts, that’s something I tend to make my own mind up on.

  14. chuko says:

    I’m mostly silent here, but I just wanted to say that I’m glad things seem to be going better for you lately. Thanks for writing the blog.

  15. JT says:

    Copy Editor #3 says,

    it’s “MacGyver”. The Guyver is a weird artifact-y thing in an old Mark Hamill movie.

  16. Eric J says:

    There’s probably a short story to be written about “Gollem” a man made out of clay to protect the Ghetto of Prague, but which instead becomes obsessed with the One Ring.

    I guess that’s what happens when you write on the forehead in Quenya instead of Hebrew.

  17. Viktor says:

    My first job was for subway, and may I say, on behalf of Sandwich Artists everywhere, KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO EAT! There’s 6 types of bread, it’s not that hard to look ahead and pick one before you’re next and there’s 50 people behind you and OMG SIR, WILL YOU MAKE A DECISION!

    Thank you.

  18. asterismW says:

    Brilliant. I’ve been looking for another blog I could read without feeling my brain cells leap out my ear and fall to their death upon my shoulder in self defense of the linguistic and intellectual atrocity that is most blogs. Thanks, Shamus!

  19. scragar says:

    just started reading the Lileks bleat, and I have to say it’s rather funny, my favourite quote is this:

    dogs think we can read their minds.

    I’m not too sure he’s right though, if he was the dog I had as a kid wouldn’t have kept trying to steal my food when I put the plate down to answer the door.

    Oh, and your pretty funny regardless of who you remind people of, the simple fact that you remind people of other funny people just goes to further prove that.

  20. The Lone Duck says:

    We all have bad days, or I guess in your case, bad whiles? To be fair, the was a lot of new people at your site. (People from WoW forums, and people who didn’t know how you reviewed games.) Listening to large amounts of people can be stressful. I’m not trying to justify you, because its your site. You have to judge for yourself if it has the tone you desire. I’m just saying, aside from any personal issues, there was a little bit of web related mess to stir up the inner rage. ‘Course maybe I’m wrong. I’m not you. I’m me.
    Huh. That would be a neat game. You create an avatar, “the hero” with a background, motivation, etc., and then you play as other characters, side characters, minor characters, antagonists, all watching the hero from an outside perspective. One benefit is the lampooning of RPG tropes. I admit, it would mainly be a bit of an experiment. You’d probably give a limited degree of control regarding the level ups of the hero, and the story choices the hero made, but you’d observe the how as someone else. Let’s say you were breaking into a castle. You could play the lowly gurad who fights the hero barbarian, you could a houswife who helps the hero build a hot air balloon.

  21. Cybron says:

    Glad to hear you’re back, Shamus. Bring on the old games!

  22. DaveMc says:

    Thanks for the pointer to Lileks. My advice to my fellow readers: (1) Go here; (2) Follow the “Begin here” link; (3) Click “Next!” as needed. Do not do this in an environment where suppressed or involuntarily audible laughter will cause problems for you. Man, that’s funny stuff.

    Speaking of clicking “Next”: I only wish reading the archives of his blog entries was as simple. This is a nearly constant problem with blogs: it’s hard to navigate through old entries, if you decide you want to read your way back through the whole history of the site. Even your site, Shamus, only supports the “previous” and “next” operations within a given topic (“Previous in Rants”, that sort of thing) — there’s no way to find the first post and keep clicking Next to go the chronologically next entry, then repeat. All webcomics do this, but very few blogs. I wish more of them did. On the other hand, maybe I’m alone in wanting to do this kind of chronological strafing run.

  23. Heph says:

    Hey! Not all of us newcomers are WoW freaks or people who don’t know how he reviews games!
    Some of us just lurked a while before we jsut happened to start posting at the wrong time :-P

  24. Kevin says:

    What a great blog site! And Tropical Storm Fay is bearing down on my house too… I’m sure I can use this as inspiration and write something interesting about sitting in front of a powerless TV, or watching the ice melt in my freezer, or wishing I could do more with my keyboard than fan myself with it.

    Now if only my electricity would go out!

  25. Barron says:

    Glad to hear you’re feeling better! If I may offer a suggestion: I thought the last post on The Witcher was excellent. I think that when writing about a game that has been out for a long time and many other people have already voiced their opinions, it really helps to write not just about the game, but about how your views relate to the other views that are already out there. If you take a game that generally recieved a positive reaction, and write several posts about why the game is crap without acknowledging that almost everyone else likes it, you risk sounding out of touch, or else just determined to hate the game no matter what. On the other hand, if you can identify why your opinions differ, such as the fact that you hated the main charachter and that that affected the rest of your view, you seem a lot more reasonable, and more worth reading. So good post, and I’ll look forward to future comentary

  26. NobleBear says:

    Sure, you got a little snarky, but you never stopped being you.

    Glad to hear you’re doing better, Shamus. :)

  27. Kylroy says:

    I read Lileks right up until the point that 9/11 ate his brain. His politics were always opposed to mine, but that particular tragedy both: A) took his personal politics from “small government conservative” to “kill all the brown people”, and B)meant that his politics bled into his writing a lot more often.

    Granted, that was almost seven years ago. Has he dialed back the mindless patriotism and “GWB is perfect” cheering since then?

  28. Shamus says:

    Kylroy: “kill all the brown people”

    That’s unfair and petty and you know it. I’m not even on GWB’s team and stuff like that sets me right off. Certainly it’s possible to support the war without being racist? Maybe? Perhaps accusations like that around cheapen the debate and lead to dull, dead-end flamewars. I certainly think so.

    To answer your question: I skipped a lot of the political stuff myself, but I haven’t seen him writing about politics in some time.

  29. mookers says:

    Glad you’re feeling better, Shamus. But can we still please occasionally have a helping of the extra-spicy version? :D

  30. Heph says:

    Aye, but next time for a game that everyone loves to hate, so we can all join in on the hating ;-)
    How about *grabs random crap game from shelf* Silent Hunter III? It’s possibly the most boring game in the universe.

  31. Andre says:

    Welcome back, Shamus. :D

  32. straechav says:

    Ah, thank god!

    When you started bashing Hellgate like one of the developers had pissed in to your breakfast and that you had mentally devolved back to age of 15, I cocked my eyebrow and wondered what’s going on. Then, I’m one of those who disagree with you about your (rather strong, explicit, and unexpected) dislike of Witcher, which was the last drop that made me wonder if I want to read your blog anymore. I used to like your blog quite a bit, so I’ve been hanging around hoping things will change.

    Knowing that you’re aware of this and not planning to keep doing it ad nauseaum (although we’re almost there already) really restored my hope.

    I’m sorry if I sound like I am criticising your writing, or trying to appear as if you need any kind of validation from me. I’m just being longwinded and trying to explain why I am so relieved to hear you’re going to try to change your tone.

    And I don’t think you were sounding like Yahtzee, personally. For starters Yahtzee is mostly funny and tongue in cheek.

    Once again, thank god! And welcome back. :D

  33. Alexis says:

    I liked “a little feisty”. Get well soon!

  34. Kylroy says:

    “Certainly it's possible to support the war without being racist? Maybe?”

    Geez, crucify me for some hyperbole.

  35. Daf says:

    Even your site, Shamus, only supports the “previous” and “next” operations within a given topic (“Previous in Rants”, that sort of thing) “” there’s no way to find the first post and keep clicking Next to go the chronologically next entry, then repeat.

    Agreed, but I just use the RSS feed and step through it that way :)

  36. Shamus says:

    “Geez, crucify me for some hyperbole.”

    Heh. I see what you did there.

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