July 15, 2006

Interviews With Bloggers, Part 10: Curt from "Groovy Age of Horror"

The Bella Rossa Interview With Curt of "The Groovy Age of Horror."

Curt is a prolific and entertaining blogger who explores what looks to be a widely shared fondness for 1960's and 70's horror, by (no pun intended) digging up and reviewing paperbacks, comics, and movies of that era. He is making preparations to make his own contributions to the genre, has insightful things to say about what makes a good blog, and is responsible for me learning what fumetti and Groschenromane are.

BELLA: What current books, music, tv, movies, hobbies, sports, etc., are currently holding your interest?

CURT: Beyond blogging (and the stuff I read and view for it), I'm
writing a horror novel called Night Falls on a Fairy Tale that I hope
to finish this year. I know that fairy tales have long provided
grist for the horror mill, but I don't think anyone has gone
full-throttle with it the way I'm doing. This is a monster
rally, too, with a vampire woman, a Groovy_age_1werewolf, and even a
Frankenstein-type monster, and again I ask myself, "Where have I
always wanted stuff like this to go, that it's never really gone?"
I think a lot of creators have a hard time imagining what it would be
like for these incredibly savage and powerful creatures of the night
to do battle, or to have sex. So often it just comes off so
conventional, when they don't cop out altogether. Well, I'm
trying to get it right this time, and I daresay I'm doing a better
job of it than anything of this sort I've seen so far!

I'm also taking notes for a sequel that will bring the vampire
woman into Swinging London, called (I'm not kidding) Throw Up. Yes,
another Blowup homage, not as silly as the title might suggest, and
not like any you've ever seen before--imagine Antonioni's masterpiece
meets Rollin's Lips of Blood. I know that sounds super-duper
pretentious, but what I love in both movies is the way photographs
draw the protagonists into quests through unsuspected, strange,
menacing worlds. I'm really excited to get working on this one
in earnest, and the temptation is great to rattle off all the ideas
I've got for it so far, but I'm gonna bite my tongue now!

BELLA: How would you describe your blog?

CURT: The title says it all! If that sounds like the sort of thing
you're looking for, then my blog is the site for you.

do you blog? What was your original goal or intention when you started,
and has that changed with time? Is your blog a means to an end (finding
work, developing creative ideas, making money, meeting people), or does
it exist for its own sake?

CURT: Well, I was just starting to get interested in collecting (as a
reader, though, not a "collector") vintage horror
paperbacks from the '60s-'70s, but when I went online looking for
reviews, guides, discussion--anything!!--I kept coming up blank.
There's the Trash Fiction site, and later I found the Vault of Evil
forum, but really, any time I googled a title or a series title or an
author, ninety-nine percent of the time the results would be nothing
more than bookseller listings. So that was one huge,
frustrating void on the internet. Then, I couldn't find much
about fumetti (Italian erotic horror comics from around the same
period), and certainly not in English, so that was another gap
waiting to be filled. Finally, I was becoming more and more
interested in that period of horror AS A PERIOD--what defined it and
set it apart, internationally and across various media such as
movies, comics, paperbacks, etc., but again, I wasn't really finding
anyone who gave that big picture the kind of attention I was looking
for. As far as I knew, there wasn't even a name for it!

Eventually, I said, "F*ck it! I'll do all that
myself." My first idea was an ordinary website, but I
quickly got the impression that it would be too cost- and
labor-intensive. I'd tried my hand at a lefty political blog
some time before (and sensibly gave that up!), and remembered that
Blogger was free, and I still had an account with them. When I
realized I could post pictures without having to always fret about
"bandwidth" and all that, I knew I'd found my medium.

I have to say, I think I really nailed it as far as Groovy Age's
concept is concerned. On the one hand, it's very precise and
well-defined, but on the other, it gives me tons of great material to
cover. I occasionally deviate from the concept to one degree or
another, but I've never had to modify it in any major way.
My vision for my blog today is pretty much exactly what it
was when I started, and I'd say I've realized it and continue to
realize it.

Is there one particular post that you think exemplifies your work, or represents your best writing?

CURT: Hopefully, whatever's at the top of the page! I'd like to
think the quality of my posts is pretty uniformly high.

BELLA: Is there one particular post that garnered you an
atypically large reader response or number of referrals from search
engines? If so, why do you think that is?

CURT: Early on, I posted weekly installments of O'Donoghue and
Springer's The Adventures Of Phoebe Zeit-Geist, and when it was
complete, it got a lot of links, including one from Screenhead that
generated a tremendous amount of traffic, at least by Groovy Age's
standards (I've since moved Phoebe onto its own blog). Most of
my Google hits come from fumetti-related searches. I sort of
wish there were more people out there coming in search of the
paperbacks, but then it could be that my blog is where a lot of
people hear about them first.

How often do you Google yourself, check yourself on Technorati, and/or pore over your referral logs and visitor statistics?

CURT: I pay pretty close attention to stuff like that. Who
doesn't? It's not how I measure my blog's success, but it is
very fun to keep track of, and sometimes very gratifying. I
just love clicking the sitemeter world map and seeing visitors on six
continents. I'll even click the Day/Night option, which shows
in real time where it's light and dark on earth, because it's fun to
think stuff like, "One night in Bangkok--and someone's reading
Groovy Age!" Every day, there's always at least one
visitor who spends at least an hour (sometimes up to two or three!)
poring through the archives, and I'm extremely proud to have
archives that are worth digging into, to that degree. I
regularly rearrange, organize, and index the archives to make it
easier to find what interests you, and it's one more thing that
sets Groovy Age apart, I think. I have to confess, my
traffic seems to have hit a plateau these past few months, and I
would like to see it start climbing again, but I'm doing
exactly what I want, so it isn't a huge concern.

BELLA: What are some of your favorite, "must-read" blogs?
What keeps you going back again and again? Have you ever totally lost
interest in a blog that you once really enjoyed, and if so, why?

CURT: I try to follow, more or less, everything in my sidebar, plus some
"reality based" blogs that don't have enough relevance to
Groovy Age for me to feel justified about including them in the
sidebar: Pharyngula, Americablog, Rude Pundit, Crooks and Liars,
Gadflyer, etc.

As for what I look for and don't like in other blogs, of course, anyone can blog about anything they want, however often
they care to. And that's one beautiful thing about blogs.
But if you're not really, truly blogging only for yourself--if you
care about other people reading you, and building and audience, and
getting links from other blogs (including Groovy Age!), I think you
really have to take a very realistic view of what you have to offer,
your blog's quality, and how broad or narrow the appeal might be,
whether it's relevant to those other blogs you're asking for
reciprocal links, etc.

My gold-standard - what I look for in a blog - is the same standard
I hold for my own blog: regular updates that enrich the internet by
adding interesting original material that should be online but
isn't. It's a shame how few blogs even attempt that, or even
seem aware of it as an ideal. What astounds me is how many
bloggers don't deliver anything of the sort, and yet genuinely expect
the rest of us to read them regularly.

One thing that really frustrates me is a blog with a great concept
that almost never updates. I'll usually cut a blog out of
my sidebar if it idles for a month, without a single update,
or they just post a new excuse every so often for why they
aren't updating. Sometimes I do that very regretfully,
because you see some blogs with a lot of promise that just fizzle
and die. It's a shame, but there you go.

Then you have blogs that update frequently enough, but about
what? Is it original? Is it interesting? Does it
really add anything to anyone's online experience? Remember - in
the case of Groovy Age, I recognized some appalling gaps on the
internet that needed to be filled, I knew exactly what I wanted to
say and accomplish, and blogging was the means to that end. I
think one problem is that too many bloggers come at it the other
way. They think, "Hmm . . . maybe I'll start a blog.
Now what should I blog about?" It's like opening your
mouth and yammering away just for the sake of talking, without
anything particular to say, and consequently saying nothing of any
interest to anyone. A lot of bloggers seem to fumble and
flounder along because they lack a concept or focus that would
tighten up their material and give it a clean, sharp angle. Or
their concept and/or posts simply aren't very original. Does
the world really need another blog or blog post about ______?
I'm not going to fill in that blank, because I'm sure anyone reading
this can fill it in about a hundred times over. There's a
reason I very seldom review movies--why bother, when I can point to
half-a-dozen reviews on other sites that I pretty much agree with for
any given movie? It wouldn't add anything. That's why I
sh*tcanned the political blog - I realized that a gazillion other
bloggers were already saying what I wanted to say, and better.
Sometimes you just have to be realistic about those things. But
look what came of it - a few months later . . . Groovy Age! What
an improvement over one more generic lefty political blog. I
wonder how many bloggers, if they just stepped away from the keyboard
and put a little more imagination and heart into crafting strong,
exciting concepts for their blogs, could come up with something much,
much better than what they're doing now. And don't even
get me started about people who carry on about their personal
lives, funny little anecdotes and what they had for breakfast
and all that crap - I barely even have the patience to endure my
own daily grind and petty problems, so why would I want to
read about a stranger's? Blog about it if you must, but don't
take it personally if I don't read it or link to you. (Editor's note to self: scrap that "sticky buns on Sunday mornings" post.)

BELLA: What kind of person is the likeliest reader of your blog? What would you hope they get out of reading you?

CURT: Judging from some of the Google hits I get, I'd rather not
speculate! Actually, I think my readership tends mostly toward
people who are nostalgic for this stuff from having experienced it in
their childhoods. I know that sounds funny, since so much of
what I post would be considered "adult" material, but kids
have a way of finding what they're looking for, and a lot of us did,
even without the internet. Speaking of kids and the internet, I
can't exactly say I'd like readers who are too much "younger,"
but it would be nice if generations later than my own would discover
and embrace this truly beautiful stuff.

there people in your life who don't "get the whole blog thing?" How do
you explain it to them without feeling as nerdy and defensive as I
usually do?

CURT: I don't really mention my blog to people who I don't think would
get it. I certainly don't try to impose it on anyone in my
life, and as much as I obviously enjoy yapping about myself, I
usually scorn to "explain" myself to anyone who "doesn't
get" something I'm up to.

What's your relationship with your readers? How much interaction do you encourage?

CURT: I didn't expect regular readers when I started. I just
figured that anyone who was looking for something specific (a review
of a particular book, for example) would pop in, find what they were
looking for, and that would be that. There's not a lot of "discussion," probably because most people haven't read
most of what I'm reviewing, but I do get good comments and try
to stay on top of replying to them.

My occasional political and religious posts sometimes cause
tension with readers who complain that I should just stick to groovy
horror stuff. I'll admit that there have been times when I've
gotten too heavy-handed with it, to the point that any reader could
justly have complained, "Hey, c'mon, what kind of blog is this,
now?!?" But as long as I keep the balance very firmly on
the groovy horror stuff, I don't mind poking some folks in the eye
every now and then. Political and religious conservatives have
really worked hard to inject a tone of ugly, toxic, very personal
rancor into just about every facet of American life, and if they
expect me to forget and forgive just because we're talking about
comics or movies or whatever, they can go f*ck themselves with a
chainsaw. I have no problem at all alienating conservative
readers. Good riddance! I know I post fun, cool material,
and I don't care to share it with people who spew venom at me every
chance they get in damn near every other context. I've gone out
of my way to request that conservative blogs remove links to Groovy
Age from their blogrolls! One conservative even deleted his
whole blog in a huff, after I ripped him a new asshole over some
"treason" post he did about Democrats. I hope he
cried about it, too, the little b*tch.

One other source of tension is the subject of reciprocal links. A
lot of readers have blogs of their own, but not very many of those
blogs would be appropriate for Groovy Age's sidebar, for one reason
or another. I try (not always successfully) to be accomodating
and diplomatic, and I go through these cycles of generosity and
stinginess, but it is unfortunately difficult to maintain standards
of relevance and quality without hurting feelings now and

BELLA: How much do you self-censor, knowing that your friends and family might be reading?

CURT: Haha--if you think the stuff I post is "not safe for work,"
I'll just leave it to your imagination, all the stuff I self-censor!

you ever heard yourself say something like "If you really cared about
me/were really interested in me, you'd look at my blog"? Is this a fair
thing to throw at, say, your sister, during an argument over who gets
the nicest drumstick at Thanksgiving?

CURT: Um, no.

BELLA: Do you video blog? Would or will you? Are there any video blogs that you look at? What would you video blog about, if you did?

CURT: This is a fad I really don't care for. I shake my head when
I scroll past all these YouTube screens (I never click on them), all
posted without comment or caption. That, to me, is just lazy
blogging. I think I'd be more open to it if people would embed
these little video segments in text to illustrate points (like in a
movie review, for example), rather than just slapping up a bunch of
random snippets. It looks junky and ugly on the page, too.

BELLA: Have you ever blogged something that later you regretted and/or deleted from your blog?

CURT: I delete the occasional rants on politics and religion.
That's definitely not out of regret; it's just that when I get around
to organizing and indexing new posts for the archives, that sort of
stuff really isn't relevant enough to Groovy Age's concept for me to
keep. I give myself the latitude to go off like that once in a
while, but that sort of thing really has no permanent place on my

BELLA: What are your thoughts on the phenomenon of
"doocing," wherein someone loses their job because of things they
posted on a personal blog? Are you careful to maintain a clear line
between your online self and your real world self?

CURT: Well, it's a case-by-case thing, to my mind. If someone gets
static at work for some non-job-related personal opinion
they've posted with appropriate discretion, that's one thing,
and it's deplorable. If someone blatantly drags their
work onto their blog, that's another thing altogether, and it's
only realistic to expect consequences, whether they're fair or

Are you conscious of creating an online persona? How is that persona different from the real world you?

CURT: Not particularly. I certainly don't try to create an online
persona, though there's probably some inevitable discrepancy between
how I come across online and in real life.

BELLA: How long have you been online, and what kinds of
things have you done online (chat rooms, message boards, games, aimless
surfing, etc.)? How has this changed your life, for the better or worse?

CURT: Up until I started Groovy Age, my main online presence for quite a
few years now has been at the Yahoo! Group, Eurotrash Paradise, and a
number of its spinoff groups, such as Comix that Witness Madness,
Bloody Hell of Brit Horror, etc. Actually, although I
understand the reasons, I found it frustrating to watch all those
other groups spin off like that, because I liked talking about the
comics and movies and everything else in connection with each other,
and instead they kept getting compartmentalized in these separate
groups devoted singly to each topic. The overarching concept of
a "Groovy Age of Horror" was me trying to put it all back
together again.

How long do you think you will continue to blog? What are the circumstances under which you can imagine yourself quitting?

CURT: I'm starting to wonder if there's ANY end to the horror paperbacks
cranked out in that time period, so I don't foresee running out of
things to blog about any time soon. I've probably got enough
right now just sitting on my floor to last me two more years, and it
seems like every week at least I find something else that Groovy Age
can't live without. After I finish the novel I'm writing
now, I plan to start putting all this groovy research to work
and writing a horror series set in "swinging London," so
eventually the blog might evolve to become my "official"
site as an author. That's my hope, anyway!

BELLA: What's the coolest thing that's come out of your blogging experience?

CURT: People I've met, of course.

P.S. Curt posted a clarification on his blog after this interview
about his specific political views, his tolerance of varied viewpoints,
and issues he takes a firm stance on.
He e-mailed me with this link, and I thought I'd do him the courtesy of referencing his further thoughts on the subject.

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