“Think about the future”

You may have noticed some changes at the Stop Button in the last few days. A totally different theme, TV posts, no header images, inconsistently getting the new site versus the old. It’s not just you, it’s everyone. Well, somewhere out there is an ISP with updated DNS not doing the inconsistency, where it looks like the old site because it is the old site, hosted on WordPress with a .net domain, which will be the case for the foreseeable future. The Stop Button gets hits through WordPress. None of the other blogs do. Except Summing Up… I think. More on that one in a bit.

The reason for all the changes is a good old fashioned—old time blogging—hosting switch. For the first time in almost a decade, The Stop Button is going back to self-hosted. Well, not self-hosted as much as Linode-hosted but you get the idea. 2016-2017 was supposed to be about getting into long-form colloquial blogging (i.e. Medium-esque “essays”) and I did all right for a while but then the inauguration killed my soul and my writing. But even zombified, there were writing lessons learned from it (basically just getting better at infusing writing banter with content) and 2018 and 2019 became the years where I really tried hard to write longer form stuff on Stop Button. And they got some hits. The John Carpenter retrospects and the Eleanor Parker retrospects both did great. They don’t anymore, which sucks since I put months into both, but lesson learned. Worse, the subsequent longer form posts—the Godzilla one I hated, the Luise Rainer retrospect, which was great writing practice but not much fun, an ill-advised “King Kong and me” post, the Josh Hartnett O piece I’m most proud of but no one reads because I’m right about it and you’re wrong and you just can’t acknowledge it, and the also ill-advised but for different reasons Star Trek II soundtrack post—got very few readers. Very few. I don’t talk about the actual numbers of Stop Button posts because one shouldn’t brag or self-shame about blog readership… but very little readership on those posts, which took a lot of time and more served to validate my opinions on blogging versus writing and why the latter shouldn’t be rigorously applied to the former.

2019 was also supposed to be the year where the long-running and actually listened to Comics Fondle Podcast transformed into the Visual Reflux Podcast. To date, we’ve had one episode. And I had even started doing comics posts on the Visual Reflux site, which was going to be an all-in-one with comics, TV, streaming, and (after I came up with the project) Maltin-sized movie capsule posts. Only I never got around to doing the TV stuff I had planned; I wanted to start with “Fawlty Towers” but writing about sitcoms isn’t easy. I had wanted to do a deep dive into “Penny Dreadful” but the time commitment was always too much. It wasn’t until this fall I got Visual Reflux going with actual TV and streaming posts and it’s worked out. It’s helped my blogging; what I learned from blogging about ”Love and Rockets” on Comics Fondle last year, which was a huge project also without any significant readership but still worth it for my brain, has helped with VR. And I’ve been steady with my ”Punisher MAX” read-through, though I’m behind; again, not lighting the world on fire, but the target audience is literally two people. Anyone else is gravy.

But with Visual Reflux working out, I got thinking about a newsletter again—something to consolidate all my blogging content—only the idea of doing a newsletter… eh. No. I’d rather not. The last one didn’t go well and I did at least a month of work on it. Some of the newsletter thing has always been about getting a Patreon going up, which also has never been successful. And it makes sense… I don’t give to White male cishet media bloggers either. If there is a network of White male cishet media bloggers who support each other on Patreon, it’s probably a bunch of fucking ‘Murican Nazis so no anyway.

(Patreon will be live on this new site before the end of the year, obviously).

I had wanted to do Visual Reflux self-hosted because old time blogging, but it was such a pain in the ass. I couldn’t get Linode to work, because despite dropping some bucks on blogging, I’m not really interested in getting SSL to work or Apache or whatever else. VR went from EasyWP, which is great just somehow not geeky enough to scratch the self-hosting itch but also not straightforward enough to just be WordPress.com, to WordPress.com over the summer. Headaches, even mild ones, gone.

But since I last tried setting up Linode—only eight months ago—things have gotten easier. Their one-click WordPress install… works. There’s some additional setup without the best documentation but it’s adequate documentation. It’s possible. So you’re now reading this on a Linode-hosted WordPress install, unless you’re reading it on summing-up.com, which hasn’t made the move yet. It’s next. Then Comics Fondle. Comics Fondle is going to be a lot of work. A lot of work.

Except once the work’s done, it’s done. All of the blogging will be in one place, like old time blogging. And it’ll be on the blog with the most consistent readership.

There have been some hiccups, which I could blog about at length but won’t here and probably won’t at all because they’re very specific to my posts. Just… don’t do a related posts plugin. It’s a bad idea. Also, if you’re doing bulk changes with BBEdit and Applescript, make sure you save your files in both. Also make sure you remember to apply the rename all in Script Editor instead of just changing the number of the xml file. Anyway, it’s a whole lot. Not even getting into SSL….

There are still some big little things to figure out, like whether or not Summing Up posts get header images; Comics Fondle will not, just the cover images. There are also two other writers on Comics Fondle, who I haven’t talked about the hosting move with because… there’s no way not to be long-winded about it and also getting into the failures of the last few years to grow the sites on their own.

Matt (Hurwitz), one of the aforementioned Comics Fondle writers and former Alan Smithee cohost, has this great observation about people using Batman when they’re doing something new because Batman is always good for some hits—when I started doing serials on Stop Button I did the first Batman serial—but, outside the top of this post, I’ve got no Batman at launch here. Nothing in the queue either. Because I’m sick of Batman. I’ve been trying to gin up interest in the brand since the late nineties and I just can’t anymore.

So instead… how about some fake watercolor cat pictures.

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