Statistics May: What Readership Around Here Was Like So Recently


And now let me pause to figure out how many people read something or other on my humor blog in May. I’m guessing that the Nancy boom has worn off. You can’t count on exciting comic strip news like that every month.

OK, so it’s wearing off slowly, at least. It was another month of more than three thousand readers. It’s dropped again, a little bit, but the readers are still around. There were 3,227 page views recorded, down from April’s 3,590 and March’s 3,773. This came from 1,871 unique visitors, down not so much from April’s 1,988 or March’s 1,917. There were 175 likes registered in May; in April there were 177. This does nothing to dissuade me from thinking WordPress is making stuff up. My humor blog had 73 likes in both March and April. I know, right? It was a slight bit chattier here in May than in April. 54 comments, up from 43, but down from March’s 84. I think comments are going to pick up, though. In the story strip summaries we’ve got Judge Parker and Spider-Man coming up this month. And Gil Thorp might well draw a response from someone, considering.

Bar chart for the blog's readership, which was rising steadily to about 2,000 per month through December 2016 and then leapt up to the three-to-four-thousand range.
Most boring game of Tetris on record. By the way, are they still going ahead with pretending they’re going to make a Tetris movie or have they given up on that? Or has the movie come out and we’ve forgotten it already? Were they ever planning to make a movie out of the game Candy Land? Doesn’t that seem like one that there should have been?

So what all was popular in May? The biggest thing was me grousing about a truly awful footer to the vintage Thimble Theatre strips on ComicsKingdom. I suspect that somebody popular referenced my dazed and ironic reading of those awful Kabibble Kabaret alleged jokes that Harry Hershfield inflicted on a country already plunging into the Great Depression. The top five posts of the month:

As happens, the Spider-Man and the Gasoline Alley posts were to specific essays and I’ve changed the URLs to the tag links. They’re from before May, it happens. The most popular thing I wrote in May was What’s Going On In Mary Worth? Muffins And Despair. February – May 2018. I’m glad. I liked writing that one, much as some of the subject matter got bad. My most popular original long-form piece was in there eventually, What They Found Inside City Hall. My hypothesis is that one found that sweet spot of being about something relatable, being much more true than people realize (there legitimately is a hole in an upper-floor bathroom from which you can peer down through many storeys), and got refreshed each Monday with some extra bit of preposterousness. The state’s spite building and the walled-off escalator are for real too.

78 countries sent me readers in May. There were 76 doing so in April, and 75 in March, so I guess we’ve run out of countries in the world. Here’s that part of the world:

Country Readers
United States 2,491
India 142
Canada 136
United Kingdom 72
Germany 35
Australia 33
Spain 31
Sweden 25
Denmark 15
Malaysia 15
Finland 14
Netherlands 12
France 11
Italy 11
Brazil 9
Japan 9
Norway 9
South Africa 9
Mexico 7
Botswana 6
Hong Kong SAR China 6
Philippines 6
Poland 6
Portugal 6
Indonesia 5
Singapore 5
South Korea 5
Chile 4
Egypt 4
Israel 4
New Zealand 4
Russia 4
Austria 3
Bangladesh 3
Belgium 3
European Union 3
Ireland 3
Puerto Rico 3
Romania 3
Turkey 3
Argentina 2
Bulgaria 2
Colombia 2
Croatia 2
Czech Republic 2
Macedonia 2
Peru 2
Serbia 2
Trinidad & Tobago 2
Ukraine 2
United Arab Emirates 2
Uruguay 2
Vietnam 2
Brunei 1
China 1 (*)
Cyprus 1
Dominican Republic 1
Ecuador 1
El Salvador 1
Greece 1
Iceland 1
Jamaica 1 (*)
Kenya 1
Latvia 1 (**)
Lebanon 1
Madagascar 1
Malta 1
Nepal 1 (*)
Pakistan 1
Palestinian Territories 1
Panama 1
Saudi Arabia 1
Sint Maarten 1
Slovenia 1 (**)
Sri Lanka 1
Taiwan 1
Thailand 1 (*)
Zambia 1

There were 25 single-reader countries for May. That’s up from 21 in April and back to March’s 25. China, Jamaica, Nepal, and Thailand were single-reader countries in April. Latvia and Slovenia have been single-reader countries two months running now. The United States readership dropped a couple hundred people, and Canada’s a bit. But the India readership nearly doubled. I have no explanation for this phenomenon.

Insights says I start June with 87,587 total page views, from 48,298 unique visitors. It tells me that this year I’ve published 99,521 words through the start of June — so the 100,000th was somewhere in yesterday’s long-form piece. I’m not interested enough to figure out which word that was. But there’ve been, to the start of June, 151 total posts, which gathered 340 total comments and 982 total likes. This implies I had 16,968 words published since the last statistics review for the month, and that for May I averaged 565.6 words per post. (And add to that the 10,836 words I put on my mathematics blog and I’m writing at a rather good clip. And you see why I don’t feel guilty never making a NaNoWriMo attempt.)

For the year I’m averaging 659.8 words per post. That’s down from the start of May’s 682.3 words per post. Good. I’ve needed to save the time. I’m now at an average of 6.5 likes per post for the year, down from 6.7. These decimal points are going to kill me. I’m still averaging 2.2 comments per post and there seems to be no affecting that.

If you’d like to follow Another Blog, Meanwhile, I’d be glad if you did. You can add it to your WordPress reader by clicking the button on the upper right corner of this page. Here’s the RSS feed, if you want to read this page without my ever knowing you’re doing it. And if you want to follow me on Twitter, here I am. I announce new posts for here and for my mathematics blog there, and sometimes I even talk with friends. You know how that is.

The Most Wonderful Thing In The Comics And Outer Space Last Week


So in 1961 Flash Gordon was all about the exciting stuff we’d be getting up to in space in the far-distant year of 1971. And, really, every story is this glorious experience of soaking in late-50s Man Will Conquer Space Soon vision. Lots of people in giant spaceships and space station pausing between space collisions just long enough to do jobs that you’d think could be done on Earth with a lot less hassle, like, growing vegetables. And then came this, the start of a new storyline, the last panel on Wednesday:

Meanwhile On Earth: 'Hello, Louie's Delicatessen! Yeah, what'll it be today Mr Owl? Ahuh ... OK, got it! Of course, you get it right away! I bring it up in my own personal rocket!'
Panel from Dan Barry’s Flash Gordon from the 7th of October, 1961. Rerun the 24th of August, 2016. 38 cents a pound seems like a good price for hot dogs, although what do I know about the cost of Space Living in Space 1971? I would unless Louie’s got a lot of deliveries to the same space station he’s losing money on the delivery, though. Maybe it’s a gimmick he uses for the publicity. But in that case he needs a catchier name for it than “My Own Personal Rocket”. We’re talking about Space Weinermobile technology here. Granted Louie maybe was born before World War II and grew up a square but if he’s hit on the idea of Space Deliveries for publicity he can get a catchy but dumb name from somewhere. Of course, here I am not suggesting anything.

It’s easy for a story strip to start strong and peter out into boringness. And the story is still in its first week yet. But it’s starting really great, with Louie not just delivering his Space Pork Roll and stuff by rocket, but by recklessly driven rocket. Saturday they even had a Space Fender Bender, with cans of soda and a chain of sausage links spilling out into orbit. It’s been a long while since I was this happy with this much nonsense.

'Rocket on collision course! Full braking jets!!' (They collide, spilling meat and soda into space. Louie pokes his head out to Space Yell.) 'You BUM! Watch your driving! Look what you done to my merchandise!'
Panel from Dan Barry’s Flash Gordon from the 11th of October, 1961. Rerun from the 27th of August, 2016. I appreciate that in the heat of the moment Louie may feel the need to act rather than just scream, but stepping outside of your rocket to Space Yell at someone is no more effective than just staying in your cabin where it’s comfortable and Space Yelling at them over the Space Radio. So how long do you suppose those Space Doughnuts remained in Space Orbit?

In Actual October 1971, the United States launched the ITOS-B weather satellite, which didn’t work. Also some spy satellites which did.

In other comic strips news, my mathematics blog did the usual Sunday sort of thing yesterday, which was Sunday as I make these things out. If it wasn’t Sunday we can just re-check everyone’s work and start again.

Statistics March: In Which I Just Have February All Over Again


Well, that’s novel. For March, I had 1,107 page views. This is just what I had for February. I guess at least the decline in readership since the end of Apartment 3-G has stopped. The visitor count crept up, in the most strict of technical senses, from 629 in February to 632 in March. (There were 1,211 page views in January, from 645 visitors.)

Clearly I need to find some hook that’s as good as reporting that Apartment 3-G doesn’t make any sense, but who’s got time for that?

Anyway, the reader-engagement measures are ambiguous as ever. March got me 201 “likes”. That’s up from February’s 178, but down from January’s 272. There were only 36 comments, though, down from February’s 52 and January’s 66. I need to do more stuff that gets people to write back, but I admit I don’t know what that might be.

I can’t fault people for not writing, though. I rarely know what to write when I read and really like someone else’s humor writing either. “That’s great!” feels shallow somehow. Trying to follow up on the original writer’s joke makes me worry I’ll sound amateurish. Worse, I might make a joke the original writer had considered and rejected not funny enough, and then I’d ruin my image in front of everyone forever and have to hide under the bed and set my socks on fire. I understand if other people get seized with the same fear writing to me, although it seems bizarre. It takes at least four lousy jokes before I think ill of a person.

So what’s been popular here? The most popular stuff for March began, of course, with Apartment 3-G and then got into stuff that wasn’t the long-form pieces I try to post on Fridays:

The United States gave me the most page viewers in March: 769 of them. The Canada gave me the next-most page viewers, 65. The Germany came in next at 43, and then the United Kingdom at 28 and the Brazil with 25, which surprised me. India sent me 15. Singapore didn’t send me any, which, aw. What’s wrong, guys?

Countries sending me only one reader were: Bulgaria, Egypt, El Salvador, Indonesia, Israel, Macedonia, Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Vietnam. El Salvador, Israel, Portugal, Qatar, and Vietnam are on two-month streaks like this.

The month starts with me having 33,648 page views, from 17,291 separate viewers. I’m surprised that it hasn’t overtaken my mathematics blog in page views (it’s got about a thousand more), although the humor blog is about four thousand ahead in visitor count.

WordPress claims I have 647 followers on it, which is up from 639 at the start of March. This might not sound like much, but I made the “Follow Me On WordPress” button a lot more prominent. It should be at the upper left corner of the page, at least as long as I stick to the current theme. I forget what it’s called. I’m also on Twitter, as @Nebusj, because I got assigned that screen name by my grad school when I entered it so many years ago and I’ve stuck with it because what would I do that’s any better? Jnebus? No, that wouldn’t work at all.

Ian Shoales: Doonesbury


I discovered Ian Shoales at a moment potentially dangerous for my own comic voice: I was writing a lot for an unread leftist student newspaper with delusions of grandeur (the newspaper, and myself) and I had a lot of space to fill. For my final semester as an undergraduate I even had the editorship of the humor section to myself and almost nobody submitting articles, which is what we called content back then, when the Internet was barely started. I could try imitating his style.

I couldn’t do it for more than a paragraph at a time, which shows that he was a professional humorist who’d been honing the character for years while I was a 21-year-old who thought he had to vent society’s frustration with the student government. That’s all right; I had space to fill a lot of paragraphs, and could experiment.

My voice recovered, although I’ve noticed how much it’s been mutating now that I’m trying to do a couple hundred words a day and seven to eight hundred words a week. Still, I was inevitably thrilled when an essay like this suggested Ian Shoales was interested in the same kinds of things I was interested in.


Doonesbury

My big gripe with the world today is there’s too much information about the world, and not enough information about me. News is fine — don’t get me wrong — I want to know how much makeup President Reagan wore on Death Valley Days as much as the next American. I like to lie back of an evening and try to figure out just what word that rhymes with rich Mrs Bush meant. Paying attention to the news makes me feel like a citizen, all right, but it’s not going to make me any money. The only way to make money from the news is to be part of it.

I want to be quoted in the headlines. I want my picture on the front page. I want tobe photographed by contest winners as I walk briskly from my limo to my private jet. I want to be surrounded by stern-looking men with reflector shades and snub-nosed Israeli machine guns hidden under their three-piece suits. I want to pick out reporters with a firm jab of the finger and give hard answers to hard questions. I want to tie up traffic for a twenty-mile radius, for no good reason.

No, I don’t want to be President, or even a Presidential hopeful. I just want to be a media figure. I just want to talk to the press. And I’m ready.

Ian Shoales as news. It’s an exciting new concept, but it’s a bandwagon nobody seems willing to jump on. I’m used to being ignored, but the straw that broke the camel’s back, me being the camel, was the return of Doonesbury. Why the return of Doonesbury was news, I don’t now. I have to admit I didn’t feel even the vaguest sense of loss when Doonesbury left, and I can’t really say my life is fuller now that it’s back, but I can say I’m mighty disappointed that Garry Trudeau missed the boat. He could have included me in the Doonesbury pantheon of characters.

He did it with Hunter Thompson, why not doing it for me? I already look like everybody else in Doonesbury — painfully thin, dark circles under the eyes, slightly stoop-shouldered. I realize my acid tongue might make mincemeat of his other characters, but I think he could capture the essential me if he really tried — my great sorrows, my vast rages, my sage opinions, the laughter, the tears. Well, he wouldn’t have to worry about the tears. I haven’t cried since Old Yeller died.

Better act fast, Garry. I’ve got other fish on the line. I’ve already offered to be a hydrophobic dog for Garfield, a corrupt purchase officer for Beetle Bailey, a real Viking to show Hägär the Horrible how it’s done (you know, the kind of Viking who drinks mead from human skulls); I’ve offered to be Doonesbury for Bloom County, I’ve offered to marry Fritzi Ritz, or be Mr Goodbar for Cathy. Gimme a break, Garry, I wanna be newsworthy. If you don’t help me out, I might have to run for public office or even worse, go to work for a living. Call my agent soonest. My image is available, for sale or rent.

        — Reading the paper, 10/25/84

Publicity Break


If I may have a moment from finding that every possible WordPress theme is almost but not quite satisfying to my eye — in fact, each just manages to have something that turns an otherwise decent-looking appearance into unpleasantness, like finding a tolerable-looking pair of shoes, only they’re an awful color, and there’s a pebble in them, and they’re made of antimatter so when you try setting them on there’s a terrible explosion, and the laces broke anyway — there’s a couple of links I ought to share in the interest of publicizing, er, me.

The most important are the links for Oh, Sandy: An Anthology Of Humor For A Serious Purpose, edited by Lynn Beighley, Peter Barlow, Andrea Donio, and A J Fader. This is a collection of short essays written after the need to do something useful after the Superstorm. I have an essay in there about my strange feelings from watching a catastrophe strike home and not being able to quite find out what was happening, or to do anything even if I did. It’s available also through CreateSpace.

Less portently, a Paper.li “newspaper” titled The Lighter Side Of Life Part 2 aggregated one of my daily short entries for its edition of the 31st of March. I’m flattered and mystified by how that one made the cut. They have a daily collection of things and there’s a fair chance that you’ll find something else there that’s amusing.