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 theEvil 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 blog Kotaku 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.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.