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Wonkette: The Doktor Zoom Months
So after a whopping year and a half of doing the mommyblog thing, six months of that on a full-time, Rebecca-owns-my-ass basis, I can confidently say that I still feel like Charlie Bucket at the Chocolate Factory. Except that now I also know just how badly the taffy filters can get clogged with Oompa-Loompa hair. But like that nice lady from Delaware, I'm not a witch, I'm YOU. I am more than occasionally gobsmacked that I got elevated from being just one more smartass commenter on this blog to a position where I work twelve hours a day to help bring the funny. It's really been quite a rush, and just think -- it could happen to you someday, too (except it won't because I will systematically undermine anyone who seeks to usurp me. I memorized the Evil Overlord's Checklist long ago, muchachos). But with this momentous anniversary upon us, I may ask myself, "Well, how did I get here?"
I started reading Wonkette sort of semi-regularly sometime around 2007, as the presidential primaries started trundling along. Didn't comment much at first, because I knew it takes a while to get used to the norms on a website (do you do this with blogs? For a long time I read BoingBoing semi-obsessively every day, and then it was Comics Curmudgeon, and then Pharyngula, and eventually Wonkette...) By the time of the Great PUMA wars at the end of the primary season, I was reading and attempting the snark fairly regularly. Wonkette comments were a place to show off and fart around and share the pain of living in a very red state with other damned commies, and it became a serious habit (Also Mob Wars, but the less said about that, the better).
Fast forward to Memorial Day 2012, and a story idea that I emailed to the tipline about the wingnuttosphere's "Blog about Brett Kimberlin Day" -- Kimberlin was/is a minor lefty figure that the rightwing blogs were trying really hard to turn into a major threat to freedom. Within an hour, I got back an email from the Editrix herself:
I don't suppose you want to try your hand at putting together a blog post on this YOUR VERY OWN SELF? I planned to put up three or four today, but have been workign ALL FUCKING WEEKEND on this stupid thing I have to do for some muneez.
I understand if you say FUCK NO. But maybe you are thinking FUCK YES?
PS I pay in Ameros.
I decided FUCK YES, and by the end of the afternoon there was a new Wonkette Junior up on the blog. And for that matter, I seem to have lasted longer at Wonkette than Brett Kimberlin did as a rightwing meme.
My second story -- the one about that awful Breitbart-as-a-knight "painting" that was actually a photoshop of a character from a videogame -- was swiped directly from Wonkette comments (with credit, even -- this is what years of teaching first-year college writing did for me). I had the terrific luck to stumble on a terrific story that got a fair bit of attention, at least among webby politics geeks and, once the gaming blogKotaku picked it up, among gamers. And within a few hours of the story going up, the website selling the Breitbart "painting" had pulled all mentions of it, and a bit later, the Photoshop artist had temporarily taken down his site as well. That was a heck of a rush -- Power of the press and all that. It brought a lot of eyeballs to Wonkette, and I got an invite to keep making bloggy things for Rebecca, yay. And I even got a byline, a login for the Sekrit Chatcave, and a whopping ten dollars per post, which I made a point of reminding myself is more than they pay at HuffPo.
And that's a big part of the Charlie Bucket thing -- I still can't quite believe that they let me gab about politics and fart jokes and give me money for it. I don't have any delusions about being a Thought Leaderer -- the Breitbart thing remains the biggest story I've done, and even there, I didn't even actually discover the story, just lucked into writing the first full blog post on it -- but I still get a genuine "The new phone books are here!" kind of thrill when I see you guys riffing on my little bloggy jokes. I'd like to think that one big advantage of coming from the Commentariat is that I know very damn well who my audience is, since The Claw lifted me up out of the Commenter Holding Pens like one of the little three-eyed guys in Toy Story.
What do I actually do here, besides trying to think of new ways to defame Rick Santorum? (It is surprisingly easy, actually.) In addition to writing things, I am also pretty much Waylon Smithers. I would never in a million years be able to run a "blog," but I am surprisingly adept at being an apparatchik. Also, I am the person in the chatcave who gets called on when it's time to do some MS-Paint magic like pasting, very ineptly, Mahatma Gandhi's face onto Charlton Heston's body. I could probably learn to actually use Photoshop, but when?
And a word about the ponies. You may have noticed the ponies. Let me come clean here; I never meant for the ponies to take over my life, god help me. What happened was that I saw a dopey pony meme somewhere, it made me laugh because it had silly cartoon ponies saying "we're going to troll the shit out of you," and I said in the chatcave, "I think I'm going to just start using My Little Pony images for every story next week." And then I kept finding more pics, and then eventually ponies were a Thing here. It started ironically, I swear, but then I went and watched the show, and now I probably need a 12-step program. I'm not too worried, because I tend to do pop culture with great enthusiasm that eventually wanes -- see my big boxes of comics, all in storage now -- but this particular example just sort of coincided with my ability to throw my goofy enthusiasm up on a website. There is no deeper meaning to the ponies. Really, I can quit any time I want.
And so now here I am, Wonkette's barely-managing editor, working with a bunch of disgustingly smartfunny people and wondering Why Me? I am not going to question it too much, because I am having far too much fun, even on those 12-hour days when I haven't gotten enough sleep and nobody in politics is doing anything funny or scandalous. At a high school graduation party in 1980, I filled out a questionnaire asking what I wanted to be doing in 10 years, and I aimed high -- I said I wanted to be writing for the National Lampoon. It only took 33 years, but here I am doing something very much like my Dream Job. It kind of rocks.