Posts Categorized: writing + blogs

How I am using Movable Type

Here is my response to Mena’s “How are you using the tool?” post to the Six Apart Log:
I am currently using two installations of Movable Type and here is the breakdown, all blogs and installations are on my hosting account:
Installation #1: 2 blogs and 2 authors, both personal.
a) Black Phoebe :: Ms. Jen – one personal blog for my interests in life, art/music/culture, nature, and the humor behind it all. One author: Ms. Jen.
b) Howdylicious! – DJ Wanda’s blog for her playlists for her volunteer college radio program at KUCI and other bits of personal miscellany. 2 authors: DJ Wanda & Ms. Jen.
Installation #2: 3 blogs, 13 authors (possibly 2 more soon), for one all volunteer, non-profit ezine –, whose google ad revenues go to partially pay for hosting fees. The 3 blogs on this website are used for the frequently updated parts so that authors don’t have to wait for me to find time to format and upload their pieces to the website. This installation participated in the MT 3.0beta testing.
a) News & Tidbits : The blog for news and other bits that the authors find interesting. 13 authors, although only about 5 of the authors are active in any given month. The 13 authors includes Ms. Jen and DJ Wanda from above.
b) Magazine & Special Features – This blog was set up during the MT 3.0 beta testing period to test how 3.0 would work as a magazine, I liked it so much I launched it. Authors: Ms. Jen, DJ Wanda, and 2 of the folk from the News & Tidbits. In the long run, I intend that all authors will post their own articles, thus the 13 – 15 authors will be using this blog.
c) Design Team Blog – This is a private blog for the design team, a sub-set 5 of the 13 authors, as we attempt to re-design the website. This may remain after the redesign is completed as a way to keep in contact with the writers and photographers.
d) Although we haven’t done it yet, once we purchase the 3.0 License, I plan to set up a photo blog. The photo blog will have a sub-set of the above authors.
Summary: 5 blogs (soon to be 6), 13 authors (plus 2 more in the future), 3 domains, 2 installations, and one hosting account. I plan, when I round up the $$, on purchasing the Movable Type 3.0 Personal Edition Volume License II plus purchasing 2 more authors.

Outing a Troll

troll.gifOn the Message Board, the Matt’s Script old school board, we used to get lots of trolls, until we took down the CGI message board and instituted a PHP log-in message board. Now that folks must use a real email adddress to authenticate their login, the trolls have wandered off to easier targets.
What is a troll? A troll is a bored, sad sub-human who has nothing better to do with his/her life than to bait, insult, argue with, be mean to, and otherwise screw with others on the internet. Somehow getting behind a keyboard and a monitor gives them the feeling of power that a jacked up PEV truck and a case of viagra would not otherwise give them.
Right now Black Phoeobe has its own personal Troll. This Troll’s IP address is, they live or work or have a friend/relative in Brooklyn, and have Verizon as an internet provider. This troll likes to use my contact form to mock me and tell me that I am a bad/terrible web designer, even with all of my “experience.” Actually, the troll is quite a bit less articulate about the whole thing.
So, I suck. Who cares. Mr./Ms. Troll, you don’t like my work? Well then, don’t look at it. Or is it, that you can’t stand that you used Google to seach for p0rn and somehow ended up here… angry. Well, search Google again and go feel better about your life.
Mr./Ms. Troll, would you like to really feel better about your life? Then go make beautiful, amazing, usable websites that make people happy and don’t even worry your lovely self about some gal in California who makes sucky websites because you will be too busy, too fulfilled, and too lauded to worry about little ‘ole me.
Smoochies, darling, Smoochies….

What is a Weblog?

In the last few days, several of the A-list bloggers have posted articles, presentations, or definitions of webblogging on their sites or conference sites. Both Julie and I have discovered, for all the hoopla, that most folks out there still have not heard of blogs or don’t understand what they are.
Most of my experience of baffled folk has been in my UCLA extension creative writing classes and Julie’s has been in her class of college freshman who are not in the know. We have been surprised at this given what a great venue / medium blogging is for writers how many of them are opposed to writing online and given the perception that every 18 year old has a confession-spew blog how many young tech savvy folk don’t know what a blog is.
If you are new to blogging or tripped on this site via google or would like to enter into the dialogue / conversation, go and visit
Xeni Jardin’s, Gothamist’s, and Megnut’s for a few working definitions.


I Un-Heart Xanga

There are many different companies and online services offering weblogging to people for a low charge or for free. Of the charge services, I have heard great things about Typepad and good things about Upsaid. Of the free programs or services, I use Movable Type (MT requires your own domain, server space, and patience to install) and have used Blogger (hosted for free by Pyra Labs/Google).
I know several bloggers who use the free online service of Xanga. I un-heart Xanga. My biggest complaint as a reader of Xanga blogs is that Xanga will not allow the reader to comment without being a registered user. Lame. This is not apart of the wonderful open source spirit of MT or others, but a proprietary grab for a database of all readers of the system. Nor does this foster the dialogue and community that a well-built comment structure can for a blog.
Lucky’s, April’s, and Cezman’s – I have comments for you, some now long forgotten, but I refuse to allow Xanga to suck me into their database and become a “user” before I can comment. I am not dissing y’all for using Xanga, but am just frustrated that I can’t participate in your blog without being in the Xanga database. It will not allow me to put in my name, email, and URL before I make the comment, as with most other blogging software, but instead it insists that I sign up for the service and database. Vrrrr….
Lucky – You rock. Always.
April – Keep it up, girl.
Cezman – Good luck in February. Persevere.
As always, feel free to comment here – use your real email address if you want me to have a way to email you, or don’t if you don’t want a spam bot to find you. I don’t keep a database and I can always return your comment with a comment.

Movable Type, Auto-Discovery, and Track Backs

Much to my horror last night, I discovered that Movable Type will automatically send a track back ping to a blog post that I linked in one of my posts. Yes, my post-election rant and rave that included insults, swear words, and bad logic that was therapeutic for me but got track backed to JD’s New Media Musings post about the election when I linked his post to a part of mine. I apologized in JD’s comment section, cleaned up my original post, and spent most of this morning searching on the MT support forum on how to not have automatic track backs.
What I discovered is that in the “Weblog Config” section of the MT interface has a section on Track Backs, and that in that configuration section is a box that I can check to allow for “Auto-Discovery” to be on. What this means, as I found out today, is that if the box is checked (which it was), MT will take any link you put in your blog and ping the site to see if it will recognize you. All MT and TypePad Blogs that are Track Back enabled will put an exerpt of your post on the other blog automatically without you (me) realizing that has happened until it is too late to change it. That is what happened to me last night. “Heil Arh-nold. Fucker.” And all.
I must admit to being confused about Track Backing for some time. I have several times now followed the directions on how to do a Track Back to let folks at other blogs know when I have referred to their posts. But to find out that MT automatically put a track back on JD’s blog when I linked his post distressed me, mostly because I respect JD’s writing and I used the “f” and “c” words about our new Esteemed F-ing Guv’ner* in my original post.
I turned Auto-Discovery off tonight. I would rather take the 3 or so steps to manually Track Back a post rather than make an automatic ass out of my self. JD Lasica is a true gentleman and a great thinker on media old and new.
* All due respects to Skippy…

Ephemera, Kernals, and Short Stories

Meg and I have been having an ongoing conversation about creative writing, the web, and is blogging a new venue for writing or a new form of literature.

Short stories are naturals for electronic distribution. For starters, they’re short. Durr. More important is that they’re ephemeral. Short fiction is the cutting edge of the field, but the stories themselves usually vanish along with the current ish of the magazines in which they appear. That’s depressing as hell, but it’s also infopocalypic. I learned a lot of my form by reading and dissecting stories, and by writing them, iterating through different experiments quickly. Those stories are gone — might as well be gone forever.

Tales from Alex’s Bar, Part I

I have been mulling around the idea of a series of stories that would all be centered around things I have seen and heard at Alex’s Bar and other music related adventures with the names and some details changed to protect the innocent or guilty, whichever the case may be.
I would like to periodically write down in this blog incidents that have occurred as “story starters”. If they end up in a story, then I will let you all know. Otherwise enjoy the the fragments as vignettes. I will change the names of people who I have not specifically asked their permission to use their name. Both LuLu and Alex told me to go right on ahead, but I have changed the name of the main character in the following due to the fact that I have not asked his permission yet. When I told the following incident to Steve, Barbie, and Shawn last Friday night after the “spatula” incident at Throwrag , they all thought the person in question would not care, but would welcome it.
Last Thursday, before I drove up to LA to meet Erika and Thomas at the Culver City Hall for the free Hot Club of Cowtown concert, I dropped by Alex’s to buy my Throwrag tickets. As Lulu was taking my $ and writing all the pertinent info down on the “pre-sale” list, bar regular and veteran punk “Ford” asked for the staple gun and went outside. I went out to call Wanda to ask a few questions about the tickets I was buying for her when Lulu joined me outside. After I got off the phone, Lulu pointed out the flyers for the Sunday Search and Destroy Ride that were stapled up on the wall and told me the backstory on the 20 bar bike ride.
“Ford” then drew our attention to him and just when we thought he was stapling up flyers, he took the staple gun, put it up right on his chest/sternum and shot. Yep, he stapled his t-shirt to his chest. Lulu grossed out and we both went back inside. The Search and Destroy bike ride guy was laughing.
As Lulu and I concluded the pre-sale ticket business, “Ford” came back in, came behind the bar and started rooting around. He asked LuLu if there was a flat screwdriver. There was not, only a philips-head screwdriver. Lulu was turning green, leaned across the bar, averted her eyes from “Ford” and asked me to tell her something to distract her. We started talking about cute boys.
“Ford” walked down the bar, picked up a big, long knife by the sink. He wriggled the knife under the staple, leveraged one hand on the business end of the knife, one hand on the tang and pulled the staple out. He replaced the knife and brought the bloody staple to LuLu to see. Both of us grossed out.
I stayed a bit more, but had to leave by 6pm to get to Culver City by 7pm. As I was leaving, “Ford” was sitting out with LuLu and her boy just outside the door. He said goodbye, very sweetly gave me a compliment and a hug.
“Ford’s” dropping trow on Friday after Throwrag got off stage to show us his “spatula” brands on both butt cheeks is another story for another day…

How to be Celibate in the era of killer STDs

Tonight is the second to last class of Fiction I at UCLA. I have enjoyed the class immensely and have had fun with the weekly excercises and the final draft short story I turned in last week.
Many of my other stories/writing I have posted here, but I have not with the short story for this class. There are several reasons: length (the story is 5,000 words), protecting the innocent (there are a few real people in the story, I have their permission to use them, but I don’t want to abuse that trust), and I might want to try and submit it to a magazine and *if* it is accepted I don’t know if putting it up on one’s blog counts as previously published. If you would like to read it, email me and I may email you the word doc.
Tonight’s Strangeness/Humor homework assignment was to write a “How to…” in the manner of Lorrie Moore’s story, “How to Become a Writer.” Here is my attempt: