Review 3422

Sharon is a poet. She maintains many blogs, but we’ve been asked to review “Watermark.” So I focused on just this portion of her web presence for my review, although I did read through each of the journals, and enjoyed my visits to one and all.

Watermark presents a basic two-column standard layout with a header graphic. Everything is grey and black and white in the design layout, with standard web link colors. The look and feel are comfortable, familiar, and kind. No garish and frightening background colors, no noisy mess — it’s all presented in a clean and well thought out manner. All the links to archives work just fine, there weren’t any unexpected pop-ups or launchings of new windows. The site is friendly, easy to navigate, and over the course of the last several days I enjoyed my foray into her world.

When I came to the blog, I started with her “My Readers Should Know” page, and went back to her archives which start in January of 2004 in order to read through the entire site. At this blog, Sharon mixes introspective and often very personal and beautiful poetry with observations on the world of politics, local (Montana) blogging, living with the pain and discomfort of fibromyalgia, and Catblogging.

It is obvious from the very first page that Sharon spends a great deal of time on the internet. She shares a lot of “memes” and “wikis,” extensively quotes from other sources and links out to things that she is reading out in the blogosphere. Her friends join in and share in the discussion in many places. Not just the usual fun blog-fodder types of things are discussed, but poems that she writes sometimes grow into shared experiences called “poem dances” that are really fun and interesting to read. The creative process is a living thing here at Watermark.

I found the entries where she focuses on her poetry to be my favorite. She also uses Flickr to take some really wonderful photographs, and blogs them directly through the flickr blogging tool. And I greatly enjoyed the use of the visuals to accentuate the writing she shares.

I found less useful the catblogging, the online quizzes (you are a blue blog, you are this tarot card etc…) and found that they shed little light and added nothing to the experience. Online quizzes are time stealers from true content, and I’m glad when she eschews them and focuses on life, feeling, observations and opinions.

Sharon struggles with isolation, confesses and discusses repeatedly what it is like to be in pain, unable to go OUT and socialize, and how the internet is her way to stay connected with the world. Not just with the world of peers and poets, but just with all human contact. It is an amazing thing to realize while reading her journal what a life without socialization might be like. Even though she is isolated by her pain, Sharon has built a community. Not of “fans,” but of friends. And reading the poetry and observations of the past several years, I have to say she’s found a niche.

My complaints are several entries of flickr-blogged photos that have “this photo is no longer available” which litter her journal. I think a little housecleaning is advised when she has the time. Archives can be a pain in the arse to keep clean, so I don’t begrudge her the fact they are there… but could do without them really and recommend they be deleted. I also got really bored with all the cat stuff. Way too much for my liking… but … again, she’s found a niche and that’s something that resonates with some of her readers. Can’t argue with that when there are fans of that kind of thing.

I was most touched with her poetry about her brother and his partner, and her recollection of each of them over the life of this journal often moved me to smiles and tears. And I did love her sonnets. Lord knows, iambic pentameter is a pain to keep in line, and those who do it and do it well get a big grin from me. My daughter asked me why i was tapping two fingers on the desk yesterday as I paced out ” da da, da da, da da, da da, da da” in reading her lines.

My parents said my English degree would amount to nothing. HA!

Watermark is an enjoyable read, I will be back. To Sharon today, I give it a 3.75 and a smile.

Review 3422

The name of this blog sounded familiar so I did a little search here on The Weblog Review and found out that the author has been reviewed three times already. Of the three previous times, I was the only one who didn’t give her a perfect 5 out of 5. The author has decided that she should post her blog into the Personal section this time instead of creative writing so lets see where that gets us.

The first thing I noticed, like last time, was that she calls her blog a Poet’s Notebook. I still like this term. Every creative person I know has a notebook of sorts. Sometimes it is digital, sometimes it is just a paper and pen. But all the time it is something that is interesting to look at and read.

The blog hasn’t changed much since I last reviewed it in 2004. There are still a lot of cat posts, in fact they have their own category now. If you didn’t know that there was “Friday Cat Blogging” you would probably mistake her blog for an online crazy cat lady. There are still poems which as I said before, I don’t know what makes good poetry. But I still enjoyed reading her poems.

The design of the site has much improved since 2004. It is now a two column layout with the navigation and other things in the smaller right hand column. This column is filled with an obscene number of items. Most of these items I do not find helpful, and actually hinder the blog. Too many little icons that easily draw my eye away from the blog.

The archives are in little drop downs as if in a form. While this looks nice as it keeps everything neat and tidy, I am not a fan of it. I prefer the old school link style. The first reason is that it is easier to find the archives. Second I think it is just easier to use.

The blog has become sparse this year due to Sharon’s lack of energy caused by her fibromyalgia and CFIDS. That is a shame because this blog is a good one. It is well written and you can tell that she actually enjoys posting to the blog.

In my last review I gave the blog a 3.5 and in this review I am giving her a 3.5. It is better than the average blog, but it is definitely not for everyone. It isn’t a must read – it is a best kept secret type blog. I think that if this blog got too much mainstream attention then it would hurt the growth of the site. So if you want a new blog to read, this could be it for you.

Review 3387

The Big Fez, author of the TambuLounge blog states that he is the spawn of a pirate and a wench, thrown overboard and left to survive on an island with a word processor and an evil robot. Now that he is back on the mainland, he has created this blog to share his stories… mostly of his thoughts on entertainment/movies and the like. He thanks visitors for stopping by, because it was lonely on that island with the evil robot. I bet! Although I bet it was challenging to avoid getting killed or stomped or laserbeam-eyed by the dang thing.

The blog’s name comes from the bar at 2nd floor of the great ceremonial house at Walt Disney World’s Polynesian Resort. The blog author states this is his favorite place to retreat to in order to get a little time away from the Disney scene. Barkeeps are friendly and weave a good tale if they aren’t too busy drunkening up the tourists. has a very simple layout.

Archives stretch back to February 2007, and the blog is very much a classic “blog.” Snippets of current events news are posted and then sourced back with a link to the original story. Sometimes The Big Fez writes about his own opinion about something and then links out to a website related. (By the way, I agree — I love covers too and Coverville is a great place to go to get some. I don’t like myspace either and don’t get it).

There are some small complaints. First, the […] at the end of the longer entries isn’t a link to go anywhere. Usually, that is a live link to go to the full story. Luckily, I’m schmart enough to figure out that if I click on the blog entry’s title I can go read the rest of the entry. But it isn’t good to truncate with a […] that isn’t active. That should be rectified.

Second, the stub bits of entry on the main page for each month don’t have live links anywhere… and if Big Fez writes something like “I wish McDonalds still did this…” There isn’t anything visible. Again, must click on title of blog entry, go to entry… read it there. I am not positive what blogging tool is being used here, but it seems to leave a lot out for the entries that get displayed in the month list.

Another critique is that there isn’t a lot of real content. Yet. In May 2007 he picks up the pace and there are a bunch of entries, and June has a lot to show for… but prior to that, there are maybe 3 or 4 entries per month. That’s not a lot of content. It is a young blog, a growing blog, and I’m sure that as he gets into it he’ll probably produce more entries. At least I hope so.

But my final complaint centers around the core content (thus far) of this site… I’m not sure what the deal is with the payperpost content. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — yes, I know people are trying to make as much money as they can on the internet.

“Payperposts” seem to outnumber actual original thought, opinion and news posts in the blog. And that’s sad.

That sullies the TambuLounge and all tiki culture, methinks. Big Fez should tell more of those stories he culled during his adventures on the island, and not take five bucks from some Hawaii vacation outlet dealie or Reno 911 available on DVD. I’d rather hear from the Big Fez.

I give the site a 2.75 because of that fact. The overwhelming amount of “buzz” style entries that he’s most likely been paid to post disappoint me. The blog has a lot of promise, if he writes from his brain and heart and not his wallet. Without the amazing amount of advertising-like blog entries, I probably would have gone 3.25 here.

I hope the Big Fez writes more. I’d enjoy hearing from him. NULL

Review 3333

“The Repeal of Gravity Bog” I expect to be someone blogging on a new level, defying common thought and bringing a new feel and thought to the blogging world. Just an initial thought to begin with. At first glance through the site, I notice that there are many images; I wonder how they play into the thought of the author.

The authors name is Lois and I have a feeling that he is an interesting character; of course you would have to be to announce your candidacy for US President in 2008 on your personal blog. It appears the author has a since of humor and appears to be playing into the numbers of candidates claiming to be running for president.

The site has a typical blogger layout. Simple center pain containing the blog itself with the personal bio links on the right hand side. The site has an easy on the eyes color scheme which I feel is important, if the author is expecting to get returning visits by online surfers. I feel that a more personalized theme would be appropriate and maybe a good building point to move this blog into its own category, based on my initial concept of the name.

The blog has been around since March of 2006 and has featured articles on many different random thoughts. From personal issues to science to politics. This blog is all over the map and has not logical order. It appears to be the author stating to himself, “I think I will talk about for a little bit tonight”. A blog with this form is very hard to follow. I don’t agree with all of his comments on politics or science, but that is not for me to judge a person’s opinion on a topic. My job is to review the blog.

If you are looking for a blog that talks about science, politics, pop culture and personal issues, this site might be for you, but I don’t feel the author truly thinks through all of his thoughts prior to writing about them. I think the author takes a naïve thought into his topics.

I would recommend this site mainly to persons who know Louise. I feel this blog is geared toward his personal reasons and local friends and family members that just want to keep up on what he is thinking. I rate this blog at a 3 for I don’t feel it is fit for most of the world or brings anything new and exciting to the blogging world.

Review 3332

When I read the title of Two Pink Lines, I knew exactly what type of blog I’d be reviewing. I don’t have any type of personal experience with pregnancy and the ups and downs it comes with, but I am the type of blog-reader that tends to enjoy a blog that comes with intimately getting to know the author. Q, the author of Two Pink Lines, instantly draws readers in with intimate details starting when she first saw Two Pink Lines.

Q has just made it through her first trimester of this pregnancy (her second in the blog’s seven month existence) and doesn’t hold back when she writes. The posts, which are typically quite lengthy and full of details that almost border on the too much information line (which the author warns us!), come as frequently as Q can get in front of a computer. They’re written very well, in an easy to follow and conversational manner.

I wish this blog was hosted on its own domain, as opposed to Blogspot. I’m sure the parents-to-be have more important things on their plate than worrying about setting up a domain name and working out a more original design for this blog, so points can’t really be deducted for that. The standard two-column layout, featuring black print on a white background, is very clean and easy to navigate. The addition of different links and graphics in the sidebar add to the information people can glean from this site, as well as the overall appearance to it.

This is another blog that falls into an all-or-nothing category. Either readers will love following the daily and detailed experiences of Q and her family, or they won’t. I can’t imagine too much of a middle ground, with a reader thinking they’ll only occasionally check in with Two Pink Lines. There’s too much going on for readers to only check back once a month. NULL