Review 3358

Ryan Zeinert, lover of all things television and owner of the blog subject to this review, states on his header that he is wants to be “a reclusive, wealthy, alcoholic author, but 1 out of 4 ain’t bad.” I’m guessing he’s not wealthy, so strike that off the list. He doesn’t seem to be reclusive because he went to a wedding in a hall that holds 8 people comfortably and mingled with the over 100 other guests, so I guess he is capable of coming to social situations and suffering through all that that implies. He’s a damn funny writer… so that could be the one out of the four… but I think the underlying joke is the alcoholic part. And that makes me laugh. I strive to be all of those things myself.

The CDP, or Communist Dance Party, blog is a very funny read, and usually when I do these reviews I dive headfirst (not feet first, I’m not afraid of shallow waters) right into an About Me page. The Welcome to the CDP page tells me a little about where our narrator is coming from, but not a lot. He introduces us to his Missus and an evil eyed cat who has laid claim to fish, mice and a lot of money. The Welcome Page has not been updated since 2005, so I would suggest a gentle refresh if our author has the time, seeing as he’s currently writing a book and scaring visitors like me with pictures of Heath Ledger as The Joker (I will now no longer think of Heath as sexy gay cowboy, thanks to that photo).

The archives date back to 2004 and aside from all the missing graphics for entries prior to mid-May 2004 (damn you angelfire, damn you like stupid Smarch weather) the blog is a tasty mix of humorous fiction and personal insights. Ryan writes about Celia, his girlfriend (later the Missus), fancy stamps, stress, bad dreams, his ulcers, vegetarian lifestyle, Michael Moore, Politics, 72 Hours (you should read the blog to find out what that is…), TV, Top 10 Worst People Ever, moving day (best line ever: “FOR THE LOVE OF CRAP, WHY DO WE OWN SO MANY HEAVY THINGS! From now on, we buy NOTHING that weighs more than 18 pounds.”), Top 20 Scariest Movie Moments (agreed on most!), his ska band Mediocre at Best, and life in general in Madison Wisconsin.

It is your standard blogger blog, filled with bloggy goodness. Easy on the eyes, easy to navigate… the only suggestion for navigation I’d make is I highly suggest going through the archives and getting rid of all those damn ugly angelfire graphics. Again, I’m sure our esteemed author is authoring a brick and mortar book so going through old blogfodder to clean house probably isn’t on his top ten list of things to do right now.

I greatly enjoyed his wedding entry, he and the Missus were gorgeous. And I love the whole murder mystery wedding concept. Unique! Exciting! Fun! I found myself loving the blog and loving the read, and even though I’m old enough to be his hip aunt from Massachusetts, I find myself revisiting hoping for an update to the update to the update of the most recent entry on the page.

Suffice to say, Ryan, yours is the best blog I’ve had a chance to review so far. And after blogging since 2001 myself, I have to commend you in your ongoing efforts to keep the CDP afloat longer than your band. Keep up the good work, I look forward to the book.

And I must add that a Humor/Personal category should be added. Personal blogs are usually just … personal. Humor is something I would categorize as The Onion or The Sneeze, the latter having personal content but it is Humor All The Time. I’m changing the category here to Personal… but under self-inflicted duress. NULL

Review 3381

About two years ago, I decided I wanted to honestly make it a life goal to visit all 50 states. States with well-known attractions, or in my case major league baseball teams, were places I’d obviously want to visit. There were some other states I didn’t know much about or why I would end up visiting them. Vermont was one of these states, so I was very intrigued to stumble onto a blog called Vermont Travel Notes.

This particular weblog is ran by the same folks that run the Grunberg Haus Vermont Bed and Breakfast Inn and Cabins in Waterbury, VT. Being in that industry gives the author of this site instant credibility about knowing what’s going on in the area, which I appreciated as I read about the year round activities available in this Northeast state.

The categories that the author has chosen fit perfectly to a site like this – Advice, Attractions, Events, General, Nature, Shopping, and VT Products. Anytime I look into a place to visit, I immediately start researching at least five out of those subjects, and having them all located in one central location is very convenient for a potential visitor.

Each entry provides insight on a variety of things. The author does a good job of providing additional information either via related photographs or links to other useful websites.

The design of the site lacks in any creativity or extra effort. It’s a standard 3 column layout, with two columns containing various links framing the blog entries. The white text on a blue background had me squinting a few times. Various travel links down one sidebar were a nice addition. A site like this could even benefit from one of those widely available weather trackers to let potential visitors know what they can expect during any given type of the year.

Overall, this site is very useful for both travelers that are just getting started in a potential visit to Vermont or to someone that may already have plans and is just looking for a place to stay or a not-so-commercialized event to see. It falls into the travel category nicely and stays true to it’s purpose.NULL

Review 3381

Vermont Travel Notes greets the reader with a quaint image of a moose crossing the road. I thought this might be a humorous blog about traveling through Vermont or even of a Vermont-native traveling outside the state. These initial thoughts turned out to be backwards: This is a blog intended for the out-of-towner who is traveling to Vermont.

Specifically, it is for vacationers who will be staying at the Grunberg Haus, a beautiful country inn nested in the Vermont mountainside. While the blog would be useful to anyone visiting this area of the state, it seems to be designed to serve current and potential guests of the inn.

The design is a cerulean background with dashed lines separating the entries and bookend sidebars. Text is white. Understated designs are often classy and unobtrusive, subtly enhancing content, while letting it stand on its own. In this case, the design is both understated and underdone. It has an unfinished quality about it, like a spare room that looks great, but needs complimentary-colored trim paint and some curtains over the blinds.

This spare room could use more furniture, or at least bigger furniture. A few of the entries are supplemented by images. They are small and might leave the viewer wanting to see more. However, they succeed in communicating information. The images display details of Vermont sights or happenings: a painting advertising a play, a goldfinch such as one might see near the mountain inn, a scenic drive, accompanied by a vivid description of the route and sights nearby. Entries with images are the most memorable.

At first, the site only offers two pages of archives, which is somewhat confusing, when one looks to its category listing and sees, for example, 83 entries under “Events.” In order to browse through all the archives chronologically, one must select “Full Archive.” Another convenient way of browsing archives is through the search function. A search for “concert” brings up eight entries, most of which are from last summer. Since this summer is just starting, this gives a taste for what one might expect in the coming season.

To help inform the reader about sights, events, and culture in the area, entries contain links to other sites, so that one can go to the source and learn more. This is very helpful, especially since they have nothing to do with advertising, and are in the good spirit of sharing information and entertainment.

Vermont Travel Notes, though not a one-stop shop, is a good place to drop by if you’re planning a trip to the Green Mountain state.

Review 3446

Tempyra is a beautifully simple blog maintained by New Zealander Sasha who is currently living in Australia. As I write this, she has no computer access due to her moving house, but it is a good time to sit and read and reflect on her life.

Done in a classic two column WordPress template, she has chosen a design scheme that reminds me somewhat of an old, comfortable, cloth book cover, gentle on the eyes in my favorite shade of green. Navigation runs down the left column, accentuated gently by some design at the top corner. The good stuff (archives/recent posts/her MeVu profile) are right at the top, so there isn’t any need to dig to get to the backstory and the content. There are some fun weblog widgets lower down, like blogrush and google reader. My only critique to the sidebar navigation is the Ads by Google box background color clashes with the overall look and feel of the site.

The content of the blog is interesting, as Sasha writes a lot about her desire to live a greener life. Hailing from a very VERY green country, she is very proud of what New Zealanders do with their environment and the measures they put into place. She examines her own life and goals, and shares her thoughts and feelings around environmental issues without being at all finger-pointy and critical towards others. It is refreshing when one really makes an examination of themselves and puts thoughts into works instead of telling the rest of the planet how they should live.

Another great element of the site is she isn’t just examining her household item purchases, but all other consumer avenues… especially clothing. Some of the products and entries she highlights are very interesting. My favorite feature of the site is her Monday Droolfest, where she spotlights a favorite vegetarian dish, and gives the recipe and why she loves it. Must try the pumpkin soup when I get a chance.

All told, this is a lovely blog, very interesting. I would like to know more about Sasha personally and not just the spotlights on Tigers and Worlds Most Environmentally Polluted Places. But I feel over time she will reveal just enough of herself that she is comfortable with (aside from why she is a vegetarian) and she’ll grow into the blog and it will grow around her, and both will be comfortable as a well-loved cloth covered book.

This is the kind of blog I enjoy the most… personal and open. I give Tempyra a 4 and wish Sasha and her boyfriend best of luck with the move.NULL

Review 3444

I feel incredibly fat, old and tired just looking at the pictures and reading about the lives lived here on Driven By Boredom. I’m so not a club scene kind of gal. Being almost 41, I kind of cringed thinking about reviewing this site.

Nate, aka Igor (and you had BEST not pronounce it Eye-gor a la “Young Frankenstein” or he’ll get bloody pissed at you) photographs the nightlife in clubs in New York City.

The pictures speak for themselves. Igor points out the locations and events (ie: goodbye parties, halloween parties or just plain party parties), bemoans the fact that he keeps leaving his memory card at home, and periodically complains about the lack of boobie shots in a lot of his galleries. Igor does an amazing job capturing a scene, sharing the faces and places, and really diving in to what looks like a hell of a lot of fun. Visiting his photo journal over the past few weeks, through the halloweeny (one of my favorite words too, Igor) season is the perfect time to immerse your mind and psyche into his scenes.

The weblog itself is simple: a black background with white text and really huge, crisp photos with a little narrative about the party or the club. The archives are easy to navigate and date back to March 2007. The About page is informative, and Igor has a link to his DBB (or dbb for the lowercase, closer to his logo look) version 1.0 which I am looking forward to going back and reading after I finish this review.

Just about every entry links to his photo galleries where they’re hosted and the links open in a new window, one of my favorite things in the world. That way, I can walk through 30 or 40 pictures and not have to click back or find my way to the source of the initial launch out of the site. I love when bloggers/web designers use target equals blank or any other such code to let people parouse another page. Thank you Igor.

My favorite series of all of his shots was the recently photographed (October 29, 2007) Get Close at M. In looking through this gallery, there are a lot of faces shot very close up, and a lot of them are people seen in full body shot throughout the rest of the journal. I found the closeness of the photos very interesting and don’t really think people are that scary, that close up.

A lot of Igor’s photos are Not Safe For Work (NSFW) unless you work at Suicide Girls or an alt-porn website fueled office. And if you’ve got little kids around they may wonder what the heck is going on in some of the shots. So it is best viewed without prying eyes and cyber nannies about.

I found Igor’s photos intriguing, and really enjoyed my stay here. I subscribed to the RSS feed. My only complaint is that I actually like his writing, and wish there was a little more of it.

I give Driven By Boredom a 4.5 and will my fat, old, lazy self will be back to visit again and live vicariously through his lens. Just try and remember your memory card more often, Igor. NULL