Meet You on the Fringe: Blogs Specializing in Randomness and Executed Beautifully

BlogHer Original Post

To steal a corny phrase, blogs are like snowflakes -- no two are the same. While the same shared-life topics are well-covered (parenthood, food, politics, environment, photography, travel, race issues, religion) there are a concentrated few who specialize in randomness (Awkward Family Photos -- is it endless?) and execute with consistent brilliance.

lego opera

Take, for example, Kat DeBurgh. The Sacramento-based blogger has taken the high falutin' world of opera and melded it with the engineering-porn-beauty of Legos. Here's how it works: Each week, Sean Bianco, of Capitol Public Radio, broadcasts a complete opera on his show, "Friday Night at the Opera." Kat then reacts to the opera through a complete Lego scene recreation and posts a photo on her blog, Lego Opera, a brilliant take on high art expressed through "toys."

In addition to the photo, each post includes a brief comment about the scene depicted and two final links -- more info about the opera itself and the actual opera broadcast. Oh yes, Kat is quite mad, and the blogging world could use more like her.

"In Act 2 of this opera by Stravinsky, the hero, Tom Rakewell, throws his wig at his wife, a bearded lady. I couldn't make this stuff up."--Lego Opera

Thankfully, there ARE more like her.

Bethany Keeley, a full-time grad student, half-time TA and soon-to-be-bride, finds time somehow to blog about all the unnecessary quotation marks in the world, the work of a grammatical superhero. The "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks features photographic evidence (taken by Keeley and readers) of overzealous marketers and sign-makers who clearly remain unclear on the quote marks concept, often with hilarious results.

Keeley's snarky post titles and ironic commentary make this a fun stop for all language nerds who adore stumbling upon blatant fuck-ups. My favorite recent post shows a shop sign touting a New Zealand "foldable" shopping bag:

"Lots of things are 'foldable' if you don't mind breaking them."

(If you love this blog, you'll also dig Apostrophe Abuse, Grammar Bitches, Font Police and Literally, A Web Log.)

Then again, sometimes you don't need the follies of others to supply blog fodder; sometimes, life delivers it to your doorstep. Meet Holly, an Illinois-based blogger who finds herself in a career pickle. In her words:

"I'm a twenty-something college grad with a masters degree and a loving husband. I did everything I was supposed to do -- went to college, got top grades, was the President of my sorority, volunteered, went on to a graduate program -- yet somehow, everything turned out wrong."

Meaning, she now works at K-Mart. In her brutally honest blog, Diary of a Twenty-Something, Holly deals with the harsh realities of a recession and the humiliating grind of discount retail. A recent post:

"Tuesday, an old man who could barely hear me hugged me after I helped him find a shirt. Yesterday, a cross-eyed woman wandered in to my stockroom, looking for the clearance underwear. Thus go my first 2 days back at work after vacation. Color me surprised."

Holly's "clearance underwear" era is surely a painful blip for such an insightful, funny young woman. The blog would be flat-out depressing if it wasn't written by a sharp survivor who will inevitably go on to great things post-'Mart. In the meantime, share her pain.

Meanwhile, at a "medium-sized" public library somewhere in Michigan, fellow librarians Mary Kelly and Holly Hibner occasionally come across a book that is so unbelievably atrocious, it must be shared. Hence, their delightful blog, Awful Library Books, which often poses the question: Keep it or weed it? (Meaning, return to the shelf or get rid of it.)

Most of the books are quaint relics of the past, and some are just downright disturbing. A large amount come from the '70s (love those leisure suits on the cover of Going Sane) but one of the more skeezy specimens was published in 1991, The Complete Guide to Meeting Women, complete with cover shot of a hairy dude in a hot tub flanked by two brunette babes. Author Don Driebel's advice includes a special chapter on "The High and Loaded Woman" that suggests hanging out near the ladies' room. Yeesh!

Now, all of us have to work somewhere, doing something, and we all get that one tired question from the public/boss/colleagues. One sharp lady turned that eye-roller line into an entire blog. Do You Come with the Car? is told from the perspective of anonymous auto show model. It's an eye-opener and a bucket seat of sharp-tongued observations. 

The Booth Babe simply knows way more about cars than most men. I hadn't realized it, but these gals study all the deep details of the new cars and have direct access to the very engineers who designed the showcased vehicle. This woman clearly loves automobiles but is less thrilled about slovenly males, including doddering grandpas, who won't shut up with the racist jokes and sloppy come-ons. I especially love her post on "Unnecessary Trucks" -- I am guilty as charged. (4WD Ford Ranger '03 -- his name is Jack.)

"Do you really need a 19-foot pick-up truck to carry your fat ass and a gym bag? I don't think so."

(And if you can't get enough car stuff, you might want to check out Bad Parking, another endless resource of examples.)

Another economy-related blog that aches with bracing reality is The Box Car Kid's Blog. After being touched by the recession, ("if you call being drop-kicked into an abyss being touched"), a mom moves her masters degree, four kids, two dogs and cat into a 26-foot travel trailer and tries to move forward in the face of overwhelming uncertainty.

Her life (she remains anonymous) is certainly not enviable, but it is brave. Daily life is filled with job interviews, medical appointments and wrassling with schools that consider the family homeless, though she prefers the term 'alternatively housed."

"In some ways it’s reassuring –- it’s not me, it’s the economy, and I’m not alone in my situation.  But that’s a very superficial reassurance when you have four school-aged children in the box car with you."

For an entirely different kind of scary, drop by Craftastrophe, "Because handmade isn't always pretty." The centipede doll logo gives me nightmares all on its own but oh-my-yes, there's more ugliness to be had as the blog highlights craft projects gone horribly wrong -- and some that start out that way. Some "artistic" visions should never be let out of certain heads, y'know?

A recent post entitled, "A Turd By Any Other Name" describes something so hideous, it has to be seen to be rejected:

"Is that thing winking at me or does it have a black eye?  Can you imagine being mad enough to punch poo?  Then again, how else would you react to getting propositioned by a winking Billy-Idol-reject-looking chunk of feces?"

Then there's Rachael, also called "Fuzzy," who manages a delightful little corner of the Internet called FuzzyGalore, a "girlie motorcycle blog." She is a down-to-earth adventurer who has been in love with motorcycles for 15 years: "They are a part of what makes, me, me."

I especially love her Motorcycle Bucket List, which includes, among other things, "Ride in a Sidecar" (hey, mine, too!) and "Be able to ride 20,000 strictly pleasure miles in a year." Fuzzy's musings and sense-of-wonder photos from the road make this blog a carefree delight. Warning: It will make you want your own bike.

Talk about a specific audience target: Blogger and cheap horror fan, Rhonny Reaper, has created Dollar Bin for Horror: The Blog For Horror Fans on a Budget. She offers film reviews, guest posts, contests with free stuff (like the "Dead Hooker in a Truck" bumper sticker) and lots of great interviews with horror authors. Best of all, Rhonny brings an unbridled passion for all things gory and dead and it starts to work like ebola on your brain, truly infectious. An excerpt:

"If there's one thing you should know about me, it's that I have a thing for creepy dolls. So it doesn't really matter if the film is good or bad, as long as it got creepy dolls in it, I'm gonna love it."

Finally, I must conclude with a blog that has adopted one of my favorite topics, Western Culture. Yessirree, little ladies, all that gun-totin', bronc-ridin' and pioneering still holds a certain romance for some of us, including an entire herd of Western romance writers (15 women) at Petticoats and Pistols.

P&P offer insights, info, and trivia on everything Western. The design is old-timey and all the writers are referred to as "fillies." A recent post features the Chicago Palm Pistol, a tiny gun from the late 1800s that could fit into a woman's hand. As Tracy Garrett writes: 

"The moment I saw it, I knew this would be an excellent concealed weapon for a character to carry, whether he’s the hero or the villain. Since it was billed as a small enough weapon to be easily handled by a woman, I suppose my heroine might have one tucked into a pocket or her reticule, as well."

Meet you on the fringe!


BlogHer Contributing Editor, Animal & Wildlife Concerns, Proprietor, ClizBiz


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