Thursday, June 25, 2009

The day the music died

No, this is not about "American Pie" or the real-life events referenced in the song. Catchy tune, though. Parts, anyway.

Nor is it about Michael Jackson. His death is sad in the way all deaths are sad, but he never really meant anything to me. Call me a liar, contrarian, whatever, but I never really liked his music. Not even Thriller, which even some hipster-turd music snobs claim, either ironically or genuinely, is genius, but I don't see it. Rick James is better than Michael Jackson and Rick James isn't even that good. I'll remember Michael Jackson as a sad and strange tale of American celebrity, but not much else.

No, this is the death of Laid Off Loser. I'm not dead, obviously, but it's the death of the blog. Well, maybe that's too final — let's just say I'm putting it on hiatus. My reasons are many. Here's a few of them.

1. I've been doing a half-assed job with it the last couple of weeks. 

I know it, and I think my small audience knows it, as traffic to the site — never much to brag about in the first place — has dropped dramatically over the past week or so as I write less and less.

I hate doing things half-assed. There's not much middle ground with the way I live my life — when I get into something, I really get into it, and when I'm not into something, I virtually ignore it. Sports, for example. I either fully invest myself in a full season or pay no attention to it. I pretty much ignored the NFL for about five years, but the last two seasons, the Cro-Magnon in me has been hopelessly addicted to it.

But back to the blog. It has become an obligatory part of my day — a chore, really — something I no longer wake up excited about. And most days I post as an afterthought just to get something up before midnight, another thing I feel I have to do before I end my day, and lately my posts have been half-inspired at best. When it gets to that point, when my heart isn't really in it any more, I know it's time to move on. 

2. I'm getting busier in a vocational sense, which is sucking some of the time and energy I once put into the blog.

For the past three months, I've been attempting to build my own business while looking for full-time work that isn't there, and I'm starting to see some forward progress with the venture. I'm still collecting unemployment, and I can't accurately say I'm even part-time self-employed, but a little extra money is coming in nonetheless — all of which I'm dutifully reporting to the Idaho Department of Labor, in case you're reading Mr. Madsen. Money is a stupid game. But in terms of self-preservation, making it — hopefully more of it in the months to come — has become a matter of necessity, and I need to devote more time to the effort with a minimum of distraction.

I don't think I ever truly thought Laid Off Loser would turn into a blogging-for-a-living thing, but I suppose I thought it would do a little better than it did. All told, in donations and ad revenue (the latter of which I have not seen a nickel of), I've pulled in around a hundred bucks and some change. I could have been more overt about that modest Paypal donation button in the top right-hand corner, but that's not my style. I still feel a little dirty about it and the whole Google AdSense thing, but whatever. It is what it is. Everyone has a price.

3. Most blogs have a (short) shelf life. 

If only more people realized that. There's nothing worse than someone, be it a party guest, a fading celebrity or a blogger, who overstays his or her welcome. It gets sad for everyone at a certain point, especially when it involves a clumsy pass or reality TV.

I generally find blogs to be self-serving, and Laid Off Loser is no exception — I wanted people to notice it and shower me with monetary rewards and/or gainful employment. That said, I've also viewed it as a personal journal that the whole world — or at least 38 unique visitors a day — could read. Even if I never write another word here, I'll probably pay the 20 bucks a year to keep the domain and all its gooey innards alive in cyberspace. It'll be fun to see if I can get down to zero visitors some day. Maybe my daughter will get a kick out of reading it 20 years from now. Maybe not. I'm not fooling anyone if I claim that, in the end, this was for anyone but me.

But yeah, blogs come and go, and there's a lot more that should go but never will because people will keep slogging away at it and continue to bore the world with the most trivial details of their day-to-day lives. At a certain point you have to ask yourself what you're offering, and Laid Off Loser — despite pseudo-noble attempts to create a network of the unemployed, occasional insight into economic news and a few mildly entertaining and decently constructed music reviews — wasn't offering much. It's kind of like the "ham sandwich" Tweet — you know the one, "I'm having a ham sandwich." Really, was the ham sandwich that memorable of an experience that you had to tell everyone? As if we care anyway?

I'm sick of hearing myself talk. And if I'm sick of hearing myself talk, I can't imagine how others are feeling. In the beginning, the blog was cathartic, an outlet for all the emotions associated with losing my job. And it was amusing to me as an experiment in self-promotion. I knew exactly what I was doing and what would happen when I sent out that first press release announcing I had started a blog — I got attention. A good deal of it, actually. More that I really expected or deserved. But I proved to myself that my contingency plan, reinventing myself as a no-bullshit PR flak, was a good one.

And I had fun picking on the Idaho Department of Labor. Was I a little hard on them? Probably. But did they deserve it? Absolutely. Even when this is all over and I'm back to full-time employment and a full-time happy face, I'll still speak badly of them. Their problems are fundamental ones that won't ever change, because that's how the government operates — behind the times and moving at a glacial pace to catch up. Kind of like the newspaper industry.

Ugh. So, I think this is the point where I've run out of things to say — off the top of my head, anyway. And we really don't need to belabor this any more or invest additional thought and time trying to make the farewell longer than it needs to be. Goodbyes are awkward, and that's the way this one is feeling. We could spend time trying to make it less awkward, talking until we find that great walk-off zinger hiding in a dank corner of the brain, but then I'm no better than that party guest who refuses to leave before making one last clumsy pass at your sister who's in town for the weekend and would be in bed already were she not waiting for him to leave so she could help clean up.

So, um ... goodbye.


  1. This unique visitor's gonna miss ya. Good luck and happiness.

  2. So will this one. Bummer man, but I think you made the right call based on how you're feeling about it. I've always liked your writing and I think you should start a new blog where you write about whatever the hec you feel like.

    And I am glad to hear things are ticking-up on the self-employment front.

    This goodbye has made me nastolgic. Remember that time they sent us to Preston and we stayed in that CREEPY motel and did a story about those weird Napoleon Dynamite people? Aahhhh, those were the days, my friend....

    - Joe Jaz

  3. If for no other reason (though I know there will be many) you will live forever for coining the term "ham sandwich Tweet." Genius. I have to disagree with you about Michael Jackson (and not being a hipster-turd music snob, I think it's my right), but on pretty much every other topic, you are wise and clever — a rare cocktail. I will miss your words.

    — Mrs. Steiner

  4. The Laidoffloser Fan Formerly Known As Uncle SteveJune 26, 2009 at 4:37 PM

    This post is addressed to Magnolia in the year 2029: Magnolia, your dear father did a wonderful job with this blog. I played through all of the music he reviewed or mentioned (I certainly hope that in the year you're reading this, I finished playing through it!) and I learned plenty. Miraculously, though your Dad knows almost nothing about music, he gave me an education. His outrageous opinions, for instance on Michael Jackson (perhaps by your enlightened year of 2029, 'Off the Wall' and not 'Thriller' will be recognized as Michael's real achievement), consistently made me think. You can't ask for more from a music reviewer. Your Dad's reasons for discontinuing this blog made sense, but his voice was missed for a good long time. RIP,

  5. be well-enjoyed the site.remember,if ever in biloxi ms,stop by the paper and say hello!

  6. Always good reading, you'll be missed. I've been having a little luck finding a bit of part-time work; so I understand the relief you may be feeling, and the need to try to get more work.

    Anyway, thanks for a great blog.

  7. Forget the Laid off Loser -- how's the Chad Dryden?

  8. I was laid off by Sears a year ago,but I gota share my good news with others.... for real online work from home programs you can go to or or (this one was featured on Oprah a year ago)
    i do not own or operate these blogs but i have used their reviews and advice and i make almost 600 a week for the past 6 weeks at home and online while able to be with my little ones... good luck

  9. Are you kidding, michael jackson to me changed music forever. When Jacko died all music and the world kinda stopped for me. It will never be the same. Michael Jackson is the best thing since slice bread. Any real music lover would agree that there is no one better at music and putting on a REAL performance as Jacko, and that is a modest statement. Thriller sold over 60 million copies, who else on earth can or could ever come close. Think about it.

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