I know, right?

As you may have noticed, Combat! blog existed last week only in a deathlike, remembered state. First of all, thank you to everyone who wrote and urged me to post some blog entries, for Chrissake. Your support makes me feel like people actually read and care about Combat! blog, and also like I could use service outages as an attention-getting device in the future. Here’s what happened: starting Monday, every time I tried to log in I was redirected to a page that explained I did not have sufficient permissions to view that page. This Kafkaesque fuckaround A) persisted all week and B) was apparently due to some corruption in some root directory that I did not possess the WordPress kung fu to fix, and I read codecs. WordPress codecs and their associated support forums are excruciating, by the way. I was going to spend this afternoon building a temporary version of the site with iWeb—which is what we used to do back when we had three readers and iWeb’s notorious Google search limitations were not a major concern—and redirecting our URL to that until I could implement a WordPress architectural fix, but as of an hour ago my login problems are magically gone.

I did nothing—not even praying or telling myself that the problem was part of my essential nature and therefore not my fault—and it’s like nothing ever happened. That worries me, since I generally do not feel comfortable categorizing problems that happened for no reason and went away for no reason as “solved.” Yet here we are with an updatable Combat! blog that gives me permission to do everything again and might, you know, collapse without warning at any moment.


In such conditions do we reevaluate our projects. In addition to coinciding with an absolutely murderous week of paying work, the enforced vacation from Combat! blog encouraged me to think about how it’s going generally. There are things I like about it—rad community of readers and commenters, satisfying discipline of writing 750 words every morning, intangible coalescence of long-running themes—and things I like less. The tagline of this blog is still “oppositional culture for an occupied age,” but we have deviated from that extraordinarily vague project to focus mostly on politics. That’s fun and conducive to my circadian work habits, but it can also get depressing—even as it seems more and more important. I believe we are at a watershed moment in the American democratic experience. I also believe that if we think about it too much, we will get sad.


Worse, we might get factional. The putative allegiance of Combat! blog is to free/responsible ethics and honest reasoning, but the de facto allegiance is often to liberalism. The occasional outraged white supremacist aside, we all sort of agree on a generally Democratic approach to political economy, even if we disagree with particular Democrats. That’s only natural—committed people cannot avoid patterns in their commitments—but it also puts us in danger of knowing what we think before we think about it. Working myself into a lather over Sarah Palin’s Facebook page every morning only seems to heighten that risk.


So here is what I would like us to do: while I work on a technical restructuring of Combat! blog, how about y’all work on a content/rhetorical restructuring of Combat! blog? Obviously it’s my hot body and I’ll do what I want, but I would like to hear how this community can be more fun and useful to you. There are only a few hundred of us, and we seem to be in a unique position to A) dictate the terms of our discourse and B) perhaps increase our numbers. Would you get more out of Combat! blog if it were daily posts plus short news items? What if it were more weird semiological examinations of car advertisements and less politics? Does anyone besides me care about contemporary applications of existentialism?


Chances are, I’m going to have to completely redo the technical chassis on which the site is based, so we’re pretty much wide open. Take a moment to talk about this stuff in the Comments section, and over the next week or so I will A) resume my daily schedule of posting about whatever and B) start to shape a new site that reflects our  particular community of jerks, art pussies, poli-sci/history nerds and Mose. It’s like Regarding Henry—Combat! blog has suffered some kind of brain damage, and now we get to look at our whole being from an outsider’s perspective. Also, we have an excuse to repeatedly demand, “What’s my name?”

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  1. I would also like to acknowledge the serendipity of you blog crashing during Charlie Sheen week.

    As for desired content – being old friends that find it difficult to stay in contact, as many fellow readers may also be – I’d likely to occasionally know more specifically what the fuck it is you do, and if you still make yourselves foods for their comedic and novelty value, rather than their taste or nutrition.

  2. I’m for more of the semiotics and other oddball shit, which I’m sure is exactly how you’d like your writing characterized. Unlike some of your readers, who shall remain Mose, I’m never upset by your choice to cover one news item or non-news item over another, no matter how incredible the day’s headlines may be.

    I think I would miss seeing at least some comment on politics, but I assume you have no intention of shifting entirely away from it. So yeah, please mix it up with more Sartre and cigarettes.

  3. What Tim said for sure. Also, your blog is useful because it makes me think and laugh. The content matters less when those are covered. That said, I’m all for more contemporary applications of existentialism too.

  4. Reflecting on how Combat Blog could be more useful to me has, like thinking about democracy in the US, made me sad. Here’s what I realized:

    1.My initial interest was sparked by hilarity of this post despite the shock from such a badly formatted page. So, the blog has some base entertainment value for me. But there are plenty of entertaining things on the internet to read, and CombatBlog found itself speed dial because…
    2.The writing is sharp. Various deconstructions like the aforementioned Kanye music video or Sarah Palin #34 have been less hilarious than others, but in almost all cases there is evident skill in the craft. I take notes on the rhetorical devices you use to relate two ideas. In one paragraph you might create a great chasm between the idealized interpretation and your own, like this Lexus Commercial, and in another you make some outlandish comparison that makes me giggle while my frontal cortex sits unhappily on the couch while waiting for Ultimate Fighter to end. While she’s distracted your Missoula-brand of liberal gobbledecook seeps into my mental sky like carbon monoxide. Tasteless. Odorless. Lethal.
    3. Always there is a good use of vocabulary: “Some perverse quadrant of my fourteen year-old brain knew that the baffled, sputtering indignation I experienced trying to follow a Cal Thomas argument expanded the sum total of my consciousness.”
    Granted, this example I chose is relatively shitty, but what more could one expect from plugging random numbers into the url for past posts? It’s like in that Half Life 2 Machinma that keeps underperforming your script when the suited character mutters (almost imperceptibly) “my father is off judging a life choices pageant.” The idea doesn’t really have any place in the context, but we’re so used to media giving us just “my father is off” that receive your more flowery alternative like a malnourished honey bee. And you don’t abuse awful metaphors like I do. Usually.

    4. When I’m not learning from your helpful ex-SAT tutor English tips or self-loathing from my passive absorption your politics, I’m getting a Daily Show-esque education about American culture. When someone asks me “what’s new?” I can tell them what happened Inside Michelle Bachmann’s head, and just like that, I become An Interesting Person. Later, during a lull in the conversation, I can drop knowledge about a recent Pew poll on religious knowledge, or, when my time is too precious to click through the links you provide, I can simply pass off your analysis as my own, and I am An Informed Person. I don’t share combatblog links with people I know personally so they can’t track down the startlingly homogenous source of my intellectual diet. This realization is the part that made me sad. It’s probably not altogether different than what most people reading blogs and news mags are doing, but it’s a damn dirty realization to make. I should probably start reading a Bill O’rielly blog so at least I’m motivated to disagree.

    If any of this helps you make CombatBlog most useful, then good fucking job.

  5. I may be repeating some already stated sentiments but my vote is that you keep doing pretty much what you’re doing although change the ratios a bit. Bring it to a roughly even split between railing against Sarah Palin, analyzing Japanese commercials about dogs teaching children that it’s alright to love, noting that most public figures do not mean half of what they say, and the inanity of twitter. Also, more anti-parent posts. I don’t turn to Combat! for news and you can’t reasonably be as good at reporting it as any number of other sites out there. Your subject matter is sometimes insignificant even when there are big news items occurring at the moment but write about what catches your eye. I’d rather read an original/funny/creative essay about a potentially autistic barista than an eloquent but disinterested analysis of anything.

  6. Michelle Bachmann might be trying to run for motherfucking president. Maybe you can just launch a companion blog for that,

  7. Needs more hookers and blow.

    Seriously though, having recently discovered your wonderful blog, I would not really change much. I live and breath politics so I really enjoy that angle and I also really enjoy your detailed analysis of random car commercials and other pop culture happenings. But it is your bitting writing style that really makes it all work. I feel that somehow you could write about the life cycle of brazilian tree frogs and I would still read every word :)

  8. I would change very little, if anything, when it comes to format. Give us our daily 750, and we will remain happy.

    As for content… perhaps shine a little bit of light on the liberal side of fuck-uppery? If you are truly as self-loathing as you… well… are, then this should be easy and fun and something that I would love.

    You mention falling into epistemic closure, but it’s hard not to nowadays because the conservative side has been so good in giving you content. Why not search out a little bit of the bad in liberalism. I have read surprisingly little about Patriot Act expansion, torture continuation, and whistleblower assault under a democratic president, and what that may or may not mean to politics moving forward, despite the fact that this is some scary S.

    Otherwise- celebrity updates are boring. Politics, marketing campaigns, and societal trends are cool. So in the words of every one of your girlfriends… just try to keep it up.

    (sorry Dan’s mom, if you are reading this…)

  9. Dan, congrats. You managed to somehow convince a group of readers to give you a nearly 100% positive writing workshop.

    (Although Mose hasn’t spoken up yet.)

  10. Some other regular readers and I emailed a little bit about this, and the consensus was more or less: We love the cultural stuff, but the political stuff is great, too. It’s your blog, do whatever you feel. Just keep on truckin’. The phrase “Keep on Truckin'” figured prominently in the thread, as did images of various “Keep on Truckin'” novelty items (belt buckles, hilariously over-sized hands made of foam, flip flops).

    However, we did agree, more or less, that if your goal is a wider audience, you could do more to promote the site. Promote it yourself, for one. Tweets and trackbacks and all that shit. And for two, give your readers more tools to promote it. Are you aware that the Facebook, Flickr, Last.fm, Deli.icio.us, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Vimeo links below lead only to the top of the page? The ShareThis link is a good start, but there has to be more that can be done.

  11. My 2 cents: I love Combat! as it is. Your political stories pretty much always have me in stitches and/or fist-pumping the air in agreement. I like your stuff because it has a level of youthful snark and sophistication I don’t see in other blogs. It makes me feel more sane after spending a 10-hour workday in GlennBeckistan, which is the name I’ve arbitrarily given to the place I live.

    I say write about whatever you’re keyed up about – politics, philosophy, whatever. I like the idea of mixing it up so it’s not exclusively political, since there are so many political blogs out there, although I do love your political writing. You pretty much always give expression to my frustration with it all.

    Keep up what you’re doing and please promote this thing! It deserves to be read more than it is.

  12. sorry bud, i was tuned out of internet for a while, lost in the hyper pan-sexuality and stickiness of carnival. Looks like people already chimed in with the stuff i would have said, albeit in a tone-deaf, antagonistic screech. Although i guess you might be suprised that i would prefer less politics and more analysis of the mental contortions wrought by you seeing a cute girl in a coffee shop. For me these are the most interesting and entertaining posts. So i agree with mike s and also with whoever said you should in after liberal pinheads once in a while for variety. You could also even engage with smart conservatives. And above all it’s your fucking blog, it’s fantastic, and we’ll read whatever you throw to us.

  13. I’d suggest adding a forum if you want to engender a fun/useful community. Be forewarned, though, that adding a forum will necessarily result in petty feuds, moderator work, and phantom drive-by posters referring you to great shoe deals in broken English.

    The blog? Keep writing what you want to write. It’s likely that you’ll devote more time and energy to this thingamajig if you’re having fun doing it, and the more time and energy you devote, the more your readership will get out of it.

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