Friday, August 26, 2011

Exfanding Your Horizons Turns 3 Years Old!

It's official: Exfanding Your Horizons is three years old! Happy Birthday to us!

Because it works, and because we like it so much, we're bringing back the same reflective Q&A style we utilized the last two times. We know what you're thinking: "Waitaminute--you guys celebrated this blog's first birthday on August 22, and its second birthday on August 26. What gives?" We'll tell you what gives: We have no idea.

Our blog rules.

Three years into blogging, is it (a) mostly the same as when you started, (b) less fun than when you started, or (c) more fun than when you started?

Nathaniel: How about (d) just different? Yes, I know When we first started, just about everything we wrote was a new topic and/or an excited introduction to one of our favorite fandoms. Now we've got a long history behind us to refer back to, and much of what we write expands on topics and ideas we've already covered.

I miss having that "world is my oyster" feeling of being able to write about anything for the first time--and having the time to do it--but I also appreciate the increased depth with which we're now able to discuss the subjects we've already introduced. Plus, there are plenty of fandoms yet untapped. If blogging is less fun, it's only because of circumstances conspiring to deny me the time I require to write a suitably satisfying post and still get to bed at a reasonable hour.

Alex: Funny you should mention that whole, not having enough time to write posts thing. Seems like we write a lot about not having time to write on this blog, but there's (somehow) still plenty of new content every week.

It's amazing that, no matter how busy the day--or week, or month--may get, we always find time for Exfanding.

Probably should have asked this question on Day One, but are we justified in having a blog? (It’s been three years, and we have readers, but still.) And, if so, what makes us/our opinions on things so special?

Alex: Well, clearly, it's the fact that we are all inherently special. Each of us, a precious snowflake with something unique to contribute to the world.

That, or Nathaniel and I just never seem to shut up about certain things. Specifically the things we love--like Star Trek and The Goon--and so we always have something to write about.

We're also snowflakely--I mean, uniquely possessed of that wonderful trait wherein neither one of us ever thinks our opinions are wrong. And so we force them upon--I mean, share them with unsuspecting denizens of the Internet.

Nathaniel: Asking us whether we're justified in having a blog is like asking us whether we're justified in expressing our personalities to other people. This blog is us, in a format you can enjoy in your home, at your job, outside, and all the other places we'd never actually want to go. Though we certainly listen to reader feedback, we have always written this blog for ourselves; if you're interested in our opinions or our writing style or the topics we choose, then that's a bonus, not a justification. Also, it helps that we're never wrong.

How often do you read other blogs? How have your blog reading habits changed in the last three years?

Nathaniel: I hadn't really been exposed to blogs until I myself became one. Erm...became a blogger. I started with Occasional Superheroine, Beneath the Screen, and KP's Take, reading them during my lunch break on a regular basis until they all started going longer than a month without a new post. Nowadays I'm subscribed to some two dozen blogs, a few of which are now defunct, and none of which I actually read. Well, aside from the occasional eye-catching post on my feed or our blogroll.

Alex: There are other blogs on the Internet?

A lot of Big Life Stuff has happened this year, some wonderful, others quite difficult. What has the blog meant to you these three years, and have your feelings about the blog changed over the past 12 months?

Nathaniel: I used to keep a journal, and while I technically still do, I now average about one entry a month; this blog has become my journal. As a result, my writing has become a little more personal than I ever wanted it to be online, but it's also become a little more philosophical.

This blog is not only a chronicle of my life told through a geeky lens, but it's also a great resource for sharing my longwinded tales and opinions with others. On multiple occasions, I've avoided wearing myself out retelling my engagement story or explaining why I'm not a big fan of The Legend of Zelda in sufficient enough detail to avoid being punched, simply by copy/pasting a link to a post.

To the casual observer, this might seem like a shamefully lazy thing to do, but when you think about it, this is actually shamefully lazy and it drives up blog traffic. Alternately, it's an efficient use of time that also allows me to share this wonderful website with others. Perspective is key.

Bottom line is that this blog has become a part of my life. I've stayed up until 3 AM to finish posts for the next day. I've abandoned quality time with my wife-to-be for the sake of that 11 AM deadline. I've occasionally adjusted my playing, viewing, reading, and listening habits to maximize the amount of blog fodder I get from my sources of entertainment.

There are days when I want to call in sick to the blog, but I never do (unless Alex is willing to cover, and he's awesome about that) because it is deeply rewarding to stick to this routine and continue developing both this absurd backlog of reading material for my future children, and this blogging partnership that has helped to keep both of us sane and in touch despite anything else that's been going on.

Alex: I think it's pretty clear that, at times, I use this blog as a place to vent or to complain. Sometimes I do so excessively, I admit, but that's never done without purpose. If I'm in a certain mood, or if something really frustrating has happened in my life, I love the fact that I can come here and talk about it.

Conversely, when something good happens, or when I discover a great new book or film or TV show, EyH is always there as an outlet for that. While I have a couple of geeky friends, the majority of the people I hang out with have no idea who Matt Murdock is and couldn't care less if the Kree have decided to attack the Marvel Universe again.

So when news breaks about, say, the DC relaunch, I can't bring that up at lunch with a co-worker and chat about the intricacies of starting that particular universe over from scratch. Because, as my brother likes to remind me quite often, that universe doesn't actually exist.

But--and this is going to sound corny--because of the fanbase of comics, or roleplaying, or what have you, these universes do kind of exist. In our heads, on paper, in a basement on a Saturday afternoon.

And writing about them here--and sharing my opinions on them with like-minded people--allows me to breathe just a little bit of life into the world of the Goon, or the Marvel Universe, or Gotham City.

And that's pretty cool.

What ongoing factors or situations have had the biggest impact on your writing in the last year, for better or for worse?

Nathaniel: Mega Man Mega Man Mega Man. When I first started recording my video game playthroughs for YouTube, it was a little side project. Between unavoidably protracted recording schedules and a huge increase in the number of comments I receive, I've been spending far more time in the Mega Man mindset than I ever have, and it's been very easy to default to Mega Man whenever I'm strapped for time or ideas. I swear, I can stop anytime.

Alex: I had a negative experience in the comics world this year, and I have to say, that's affected my Waiting for Wednesday columns for the past couple of months. Instead of writing about three, four, or even five new books, I usually keep the column to an intro and one or two titles.

I'm hoping that's something that will change for me in the next few months because the comics industry today is literally the most exciting it's ever been.

We’ve had run-ins with Blog Thieves and we’ve dealt with some negative criticism this past year—both Exfanding firsts. Anything in particular you’ve learned from the past 12 months?

Alex: Actually, yes. If you yell loud enough, eventually someone will hear you.

Nathaniel: If you yell loud enough and get other people to yell with you, eventually someone will hear you. Also: know when to use your indoor yelling voice.

Take a moment to imagine a world where Exfanding Your Horizons never existed. Once you're done wiping the tears from your eyes, how would your life be different?

Alex: Well, without this blog, I wouldn't know a minor Internet celebrity, that's for sure. I mean, the guy's got his own forum (that I just found today, thank you for telling me).

Nathaniel: Hey, I posted about that forum three months ago. I was going to say, "I probably wouldn't have become friends with Alex, and that would have been sad," but I take it back now that I know he's not reading my posts.

I would never have found that picture of the amazingly ridiculous cheesesteak hat.

Alex: Oh, and to answer a question from a little ways up there, the biggest change on this blog? Definitely how Nathaniel's Internet celebrity has changed him. Such a diva now...

Nathaniel: You are so fired.

How much has the Other Guy (read: your blogging compadre) influenced the kinds of things you talk about here, and how you talk about them?

Nathaniel: Alex got me to read comics. The fact that I have written any comics-related posts at all is a miracle. Maybe not a miracle on the order of, say, turning water into wine, but at least as impressive as turning water into Kool-Aid.

I think we've both picked up some of each other's writing mannerisms; I'm told by my family that, if you don't see the "Exfanded by So-and-So" tag at the top of a post, it's often like a game to determine which one of us wrote it. Personally, I don't think it's that difficult to tell us apart; I'm the one with the better beard.

Alex: That was going to be my answer. (Not the beard thing, though that is true.) During Nathaniel's recent move, his father told me that he sometimes can't tell our posts apart, and I think that's pretty cool.

I like Nathaniel's writing style, and if people compare mine to his, then that's a compliment I'll gladly accept.

Nathaniel: Okay, okay. You're un-fired. Flatterer.

When we get to this point next year, what will you hope to see on the blog? Changes? Mostly the same?

Nathaniel: We've got a revamped banner in the works, and a subtle background image of some sort might be nice to have. I might like to consult a professional someone-or-other about the layout and HTML code of the site, because I essentially slapped everything together with just barely enough know-how to get borders on all sides of a text box.

In terms of content--and this may be a shock to you--less Mega Man. More of all the stuff I seldom talk about, like anime and tabletop roleplaying games and Mega Man X.

Alex: Ya know, I want to see Nathaniel talk more about RPGs, too. I've been reading a lot of Wil Wheaton lately, and I really like hearing stories about things people did when they were kids--be it roleplaying, riding a bike to the local comic book store, or playing catch with their father.

So, yeah. More roleplaying, and more stories of our youths.

Seriously, now. Where the heck are that Blog Book and Blog T-Shirt you promised two years ago?

Alex: They both got bumped in favor of something WAY better. We're pleased to announce that we are currently hard at work on Exfanding Hand Puppet Theater©.

See? Told you it was better.

Nathaniel: I have no response to that.

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