My website turns twenty this month. It’s been the old car on blocks in the yard that I’ve been tinkering with the whole time. A hobby and distraction from “real” work but also, often, a completely consuming obsession.
It long ago stopped working well with current technology. I never learned how to mobile-optimize so it’s sort of a mess when viewed on a phone, the way the vast majority of people take in the internet the past near decade. It’s much too late and way above my technical capabilities to fix this. Reminds me of my first car, a 1972 Buick Skylark, that I needed to feed a lead additive to help run right with that new-fangled unleaded gasoline.
I have changed many many things on the site over the years. There’s a folder in my files called Retired Site Pages filled with failed or short-lived ideas. Like the one above when I scanned a dollar bill in for some reason to illustrate the Commissions page. I spend hours, sometimes days updating some small design thing like a background color because with hundreds and hundreds of distinct pages there’s just no way I know to automate the process. What this tedious repetitive coding provides—asides from the nominal improvement to the aesthetic of my dusty little corner of the internet—is a way of checking out of the day-to-day. When I’m changing the layout of a section it may as well be nuclear war outside for all I notice.
The Saturday before last I was at the Siskel for nearly eight hours watching a 1923 silent movie about a railroad engineer’s unseemly lust for the adopted daughter he rescued from a wreck. It’s one of the greatest movie experiences I’ve ever had and made me wish the silent era had gone on a couple decades longer.
I spent most of Thursday and Friday in the basement of the bookstore. First I culled all the doubles in Suspense. Joe decided there’s no need to keep hardcovers of endless series when we have paperbacks. That freed up a whole case for what I came to think of as “cozy crime” books. Clearly marketed at women of an advanced age, these feature homely covers and groaner pun titles about food, knitting, or crossword puzzles. Another shelf was free for boxes and boxes of literary criticism that Joe had hidden behind the bookcases.
I wanted to make a painting of the basement but I ran out of time. When I was done shelving the last of the poetry analyses and Shakespeare explainers I was running late to catch the new four hour Holocaust travelogue essay film running at the Siskel.
The painting will have to wait.