July 7, 2006

Interviews With Bloggers Part 8: Mr. Bali Hai of "Eye of the Goof "

The Bella Rossa Interview With Mr. Bali Hai from "Eye of the Goof."

Mr. Bali Hai is currently reading Aku-Aku by Thor Heyerdahl and listening to Highly Strung Vol. I, a compilation of British instrumentals
from the 1960s, Yma Sumac - Mambo!, and Hawaiian slack-key guitar tunes
from the 1920s and 30s. Now there's a guy who knows what he likes, and it's not Top 40. His blog reflects his eclectic interests, and features some really unique cultural gems.

BELLA: How would you describe your blog?

I think my pal, Humuhumu, said
it best when she described the Goof as, "Pop Culture with a Tiki Tinge."

Why 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?

I'm creatively frustrated, and I live in a place where almost no one is
interested in the same things I am. Blogging is a great way to meet
like-minded people.

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

I really can't pick just one. My travelogues, like the ones documenting
my trip to Beijing
provides a good writing sample. My primary claim to minor blogospheric
fame are my collections of ephemera; this gallery of Trader
recipes is my personal fave. Far more people visit my
collections every day than visit my 'blog.

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?


Without question, it was my history of the founding of L.A. punk 'zine,
The post got picked up by bOINGbOING, MetaFilter, and still generates
hundreds of hits per week from search engines and various bulletin
boards. It also put me back in touch with everyone I wrote about in
that story, most of whom I hadn't seen or heard from in more than 30
years. Why was it so enormously popular? Well, everyone who was
involved in the late-70s punk-rock scene has hit their mid-40s in the
past couple of years, so I think it struck a nostalgic chord for a lot
of middle-aged weirdos who grew up reading badly mimeographed fanzines
like Flipside.

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

Incessantly. I'm a total publicity whore. Plus, referrals are a great
way to discover new bloggers and like-minded individuals.

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?


I don't much care for recycled linkage. I prefer 'blogs that come up
with fresh, interesting material.  The Cartoonist, The Nonist, Jart In My Head, and Bubblegumfink are always
great sources of amazing, original content with a pop-cultural bent.

I think that MetaFilter really jumped the shark a couple of years ago
when it got hijacked by political partisans who wanted to use it as
their personal soapbox. I have zero interest in extremism of any
stripe, and people who are absolutely convinced that they are right and
everyone who disagrees with them are evil. I'll also lose interest
pretty quick in any 'blog that starts taking links from me without a
referral. You gotta tip the hat.

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

Probably someone like me who's far too eclectic for their own good. I
seem to be what I'd call a "blogger's blogger", meaning that my general
readership base seems to consist largely of other bloggers. I'd hope
that my readers find cool, fun, and mostly original stuff that piques
their interest.

Are 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?

My wife and kids "get it", but they aren't particularly interested in
reading it. My 12-year old daughter stops by occasionally, but she's
far too cool to tell me if she enjoyed it or not. Maybe she'll confide
in me on my deathbed.

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

Most of the people who read the Goof on a regular basis seem to be the
kind of folks that I'd be happy to have dinner or a drink with, and
I've actually done so with a fair number of them. I love to receive
intelligent comments, and they often point me to related links or facts
that I hadn't considered.

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

I don't like to work "blue", and I know how much trouble indiscreet
blogging can get you into. Therefore, I never mention my family by
their real names. I've got a strong streak of Midwestern
love-of-privacy mixed in with my Californian tendency towards

Have 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?

I've never said anything like that to my family, but that's a question
I'd probably ask the bloggers that used to link
to me frequently, but now seem to be totally indifferent to what I do.
I'd be very interested in knowing why that is. I often get frustrated
when I see other 'blogs that are much newer, and in my opinion, far
less interesting or original, become overnight successes, particularly
when they did it with my help. I'm very proud of the work and care that
I put into my blog, so it seems odd to me that I'm not bigger than

Yes, I'm paranoid and delusional.

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?

I've had a YouTube
account for a while now; I think it's the greatest thing since
individually wrapped slices of processed cheese-food.

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


Just my passive-aggressive attempts at 'blog suicide. For further
information, please refer to the Nonist's helpful public-service
pamphlet, What
Everyone Should Know About Blog Depression

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?

Unless your posts are libelous, or cause your employer to lose
business, I think it's totally unjustified. However, I'm very careful
to keep my employment separate from my blogging because in the end,
don't think it's very interesting, nor is it anyone's business but mine.

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

Being alive is all about creating personae, so I think it's only
natural that would extend to my life online. I'm a lot more fun and
interesting online than I am in real life because I get to leave out
all the boring, trivial parts of my day-to-day existence. LiveJournal
and MySpace accounts were created to blog about that stuff.

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?


I first got online back in 1986, when I discovered the Usenet newsgroup
alt.chocolate.bondage by logging on to a VAX mainframe at NASA/Ames
Research Center. I soon was posting
movie reviews in a Usenet newsgroup devoted to cult film, then I
started posting short stories in another newsgroup called talk.bizarre,
which led to my meeting a number of fun, highly-evolved,
creative people (along with a couple of total assholes), several of
whom I am still friends with today. In 1994, I created my first webpage
which was devoted to cult film, then in 1996 or so, I unveiled Technopapal Indulgences,
wherein I posted fiction, book reviews, interesting links, rants, and
other strange stuff that was kind of like blogging, but with less
structure. I joined MetaFilter
in 2000, and posted there on a semi-regular basis, building up a small
coterie of readers who kept encouraging me to start my own 'blog. I
finally relented in 2003, and created Eye of the Goof out of spit,
bailing wire, and very, very bad Moveable Type markup.

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


I'll probably keep blogging until they pry the keyboard from my cold,
dead hands.

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

Meeting people who've become good friends, and reconnecting with old

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